Good day people,

I'm a Bachelor of Theology from the University of Helsinki. I'm currently working on my Master's Thesis in the field of Cognitive Science of Religion, which searches natural cognitive mechanisms that have promoted the spread and success of cross-culturally similar religious ideas. My focus is on leader representations, and I'm currently doing a study on the responses of an Indian politician's, Narendra Modi's, followers.

But for this thread I would like to have your comments on my side project "The Atheist New Testament" - http://www.thete.fi/gos.html

It's a secular version of the events that lead to the birth and popularity of Christian beliefs. I've used knowledge from exegetics and social psychology to compile the story.

Please feel free to comment, and thank you for your feedback! :)
PS. I posted a similar thread on thinkatheist.com, if any of you are members of that community as well.

Thete.fi - In quest of trans-religious amity through Cognitive Science of Religion. (Website still in process)

Tags: atheist, historical, jesus, new, secular, testament

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Interesting.  I think secular humanism may help to explain many things that got out of hand in the New Testament.

1. Jesus didn't know his real father, or he knew him and was disapointed, hence the myth of the virgin birth.  Doubts about the paternity of Joseph may help to explain episodes like Jesus' rejection of his mother and siblings when they came to visit him while he preached, and he said his REAL mother and siblings were his followers.  But most importantly, it may help to explain how he came to feel that God was his REAL father.  Being a bastard in the society he lived in was a source of shame and marginalization (he refers to himself as the 'stone that got cast away'): he may have sublimated his father-longing by thinking he didn't need a worldly father, that God was his REAL father.  Which, in the hands of those who turned him into a god, later got out of hand and evolved into a central Christian doctrine.

2. A secular reading of the temptation in the desert could be read in light of Isaiah 60, where the authors of the Bible speak of messianic hopes about every country on Earth having to pay a tax to Israel and to the Jews.  This would have represented Israel replacing Rome as the world superpower and instituting a theocratic global regime, which would have required ENORMOUS bloodshed, perhaps for the rest of history.  Jesus' rebellion against the vulgarity and obscenity of theocratic violence in the Old Testament, and his identification of the messianic political agenda as THE evil on Earth (and his saying, in the book of John, that the god of the jews was the devil), makes for powerful and cogent secular reading of the narrative.  It, along with Matthew 23, presents Jesus as an anti-religion preacher instead of a founder of religion.  He was acutely aware of the dangers of religion, of prophecy, and of theocracy.

3. A secular reading of the account of his death helps to accentuate the fact that his death was, in great part, the result of an adulterous relationship between church and state.  It was under the whispers of the Jewish religious establishment that the Roman governor had him killed.  There was no state case against him, whatever case existed was laughable because Jesus didn't have an army.  Jesus was killed AS A RESULT OF theocratic impulses in Judea.  His execution was an act of religious terror.

4. It also strikes me as ironic that, from the cross, Jesus created an alternative family out of John (his 'beloved') and his mother Mary.  He was not concerned about John and Mary having to be a straight couple.  He was not concerned about them having proper sex via the proper hole or bodily organs.  This was not his concern.  He simply did not want them to remain alone after he was gone because he loved them.  This seems to be the case for a genuinely "Christian" family, if we take Christian to mean 'as per Christ'.  The diatribe against gay marriage being anti Christian is an utterly modern invention.  Marriage in the bible was poligamous (monogamy is post-biblical) ... and based on property laws.  Deuteronomy determines the price of a woman in silver coins and clearly establishes women as the property of their husbands.  Biblical marriage would require men having multiple wives, purchased for silver coins.  And so again, Jesus (who did not advocate people having traditional families and wasn't married himself) stands in contrast re: Old Testament and modern so-called "Christian" morals.

If modern Christians are really Christian, then Europeans are Black and Africans are White.  If a case can be made against traditional religion, it's this: There is nothing Jesus-like in most of what is known as Christianity.  What, then, is the point of all this ostentation of the name of Christ about, when people are supposed to sell everything they have and give it to the poor before they can even call themselves Christian?  No one does that.  Like Nietzche said, there ARE no Christians: the only Christian died on the cross.  We should seek to create our own paths instead of following (or claiming that we follow, but not really) Christ.

5. And finally Jesus' iconic death on the cross can be the starting point of an atheology in itself: an epiphany of how 'God is dead', how we've killed him and how it's now up to us to create value and meaning.  Nietzchean discourse begins here.

I don't get the point of this. Is this supposed to be a historically accurate and realistic representation of the birth of Christianity, or just a rewriting of the Bible without all the magic?

If it's the latter, that seems to be an exercise in futility. Jesus was a devout Jew through and through, and what he did was fully informed by his rather quaint and strange apocalyptic ideas. Ditto for the gospel writers who injected the story with even more miracles and magical metaphors. To detach religiosity from this product would be like rewriting Harry Potter but without the magic.

And if it's the former, you seem to have made the very dubious choice of letting yourself be informed by psychology instead of history. There is, for instance, no evidence whatsoever that Joseph left Mary early on in Jesus' life. Nor is it the consensus that Jesus' message was primarily one of love and compassion (it was largely about apocalypticism).

So what's the goal of this?

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