This idea can have logic and great value even for an atheist.
Not that long ago I offered for some angry people to kick my head in, to prove a point about how men should treat women (i.e. don't bully them). (I guess they didn't have the heart to do it.)
Among the many interpretations which can be placed on the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, we can say this:
Jesus went to his death willingly - in that he knew it was going to happen, and didn't run away, when he could have done - in order to prove and illustrate a point. That point was his life's work (well, the last 3 years'). One of his main lessons was that we can all be given the chance for our sins to be forgiven, provided we earn it and do the necessary real work involved. Provided we go to our Crucifixion willingly. If he can get himself crucified, we should be up to saying sorry and putting things right when we have to. We should be humble enough to suffer for what we have done. We should be humble enough to let something go instead of escalating to some kind of blood feud.
He also forgave the people who were crucifying him.
By dramatically illustrating the idea that God can forgive our sins, will always give us a second chance to make good: life became possible, life became good, life became fruitful. Instead of nasty, brutish and short. Hence the Resurrection.
@Gregg - why do I bother you so much? You said nothing there. Thanks for the flattery.
@Simon the Atheist (sorta):
@Gregg - why do I bother you so much?
Answer: You don't. I enjoy it when smart intelligent people (like yourself) can't think their way out of their own ideological box.
Here's a question you asked Dave:
forgiveness was Jesus' "big thing", it was one of his main contributions to the culture. Can you name a single other person in history who emphasized it in anything like the same way?
Answer: Gandhi. But of course Gandhi was an actual person with a historical record while Jessy the C is a mythical story person who never existed in the historical record, exactly like all the other non-existent mythical deities.
But, hell yeah, he was all about perfecting the human "soul" as well - perfecting the human being.
You may consider yourself a sinner, but I have not yet had the opportunity, nor will I ever!
Sin is nothing more than man's way to control behavior of those he wishes to subdue. Jesus knew this and was put to death for it. The original sin was not that first man failed not to eat an apple in the Garden, but that he chose not to live in harmony with the creation he was given and that separated us from God. The devil so many wish to blame for failures and faults is not outside ourselves but within. If we can overcome it, then we overcome sin and in doing so attain salvation/enlightenment. After all, Jesus showed us that sin can be forgiven, and what is the hardest sin to forgive, but that in which we struggle to forgive ourselves. We can only save ourselves - Jesus just showed us the way.
**Don't ask me how I came up with that - I was speaking from the right brain.**
You mean the fiction writers who created the story, "showed us the way" --
No, I don't believe Jesus is imaginary. However, there are plenty of stories in the Bible that are not to be taken literally - namely the creation story in Genesis and the like of it. Anyone who reads the Bible and believes in a literal story only is only skimming the surface of the text, and so it is no wonder why problems occur.
Like I said, you're almost one of us - give it a few more years, a little more life experience and a tad more wisdom, and you'll get there.
@Barry - I agree with the bulk of what you said, and it's a huge subject which probably can't be put into one paragraph.
"Sin is nothing more than man's way to control behavior of those he wishes to subdue."
I think that sin is a failure to do the right thing - for whatever reason. Certainly, many people or institutions have hijacked this concept to make it mean whatever they want it to mean. So everything hinges on what we mean by "doing the right thing".
"that separated us from God."
This is the crux of it for me. If we define everything right back to the beginning, we can end up with this.
"The devil so many wish to blame for failures and faults is not outside ourselves but within."
I was thinking about this today. The problem is: 1) evil people; 2) weak people. There are very few evil people in the world. There are a lot of weak people who can't handle their own shit and try to give it to everyone else. These are the really dangerous ones, the ones you can't rely on. If you can find someone with courage, integrity, humility and compassion - this is a rare and valuable person. Barry - I think that's you. Archaeopteryx and Gregg R Thomas - take note.
That's why I always keep my pad and pencil at my side, one never knows when a pearl of wisdom is going to spring forth like a caged dove from Simon's mouth - funny, I've never had to sharpen my pencil.
I must be one of the few "evil people" Simon the A is talking about. :)
Here's another foine mess you've got us into!