X. Genetic Jesus
(4/13/09)


Why a Messiah, and Why Would He Look Like Jesus?
(A somewhat scientific defense of the New Testament and the Christian version of the Jewish Messiah)

 


It seems to me that by following the implications of what we now know about human nature, we can understand why we humans, in fact, ‘need’ a "messiah" and why we need him to have the characteristics of Jesus.

In other words, the Jesus concept seems to be written into our genes.

And consequently, Jesus probably was the prophesied Messiah…

The Jesus concept is intellectually so unexpected because human nature is so complicated and animalistic, and because we are so ignorant of this nature -- and also, because we are so intellectually “challenged” in general…

But, if we study the Jesus concept in light of an adequate understanding of human nature, Jesus begins to stand out like a ‘sore’ thumb.

While there may be questions as to the fit between the OT Messiah and the NT Jesus, the NT Jesus seems to fit perfectly with our complicated human nature and what we should need in a Messiah.

In other words again, if the OT was not pointing to a Jesus kind of Messiah, it should have been.

And, as you will see, this is not to deny an underlying mystical, magical and transcendent nature of Jesus and reality…
..

 

(IMO)

1. The Old Testament is like a cloud with a face in it.
2. Those who wrote the New Testament believed they saw Jesus in that cloud.
3. So, apparently, did Jesus.
4. Admittedly, the face is not that well defined -- but from one perspective at least, it sure looks a lot like Jesus. We cannot positively ID Jesus from comparing the Old and New Testaments, and from compiling the scientific and documentary evidence, but (given the possibility of the “supernatural”) Jesus surely could be the Messiah. Personally, I perceive no smoking gun, or even pattern, against his apparent claim -- whereas on the other hand, I do perceive (or imagine) a pattern supporting his claim. And then, if the Old Testament is actually prophetic, Jesus probably was the Messiah. What’re ya’ gonna’ do?
5. And, that’s before we consider the human nature angle...

6. It turns out that the New Testament interpretation of the face -- of who is being prophesied as the Messiah in the Old Testament -- seems to mesh quite well with human nature and with what we would theoretically need from a Messiah. As described in the New Testament: Jesus’ purposes meet our needs; his instructions work; and his explanations make sense.
7. This seems to me the most impressive evidence for Jesus actually being the Messiah -- and, it does seem impressive.
8. Here’s what I mean.

9. The “Garden of Eden” is probably a metaphor for the realm of our ancestors before they began to “reflect,” or think – while they were still "just animals." Our “ignorance” back then was blissful.
10. But, while our natural aggressiveness was useful in terms of our natural selection, so was unselfishness – to best protect and advance our offspring and species, we needed alliances. We needed to love our neighbors – at least to some extent.
11. But then, unselfishness didn’t come naturally – it needed to be taught. Without punishment as “babes” (from peers if not parents or other adults) we would have grown up entirely selfish.
12. To be unselfish as adults required that we be punished as children...
13. And, this is how we gained our conscience, our super-ego.
14. And how lower animals gained a vestige of conscience – it’s easy to see (or at least, suspect) in our dogs.
15. Reflection, then, allowed us humans to gain the whole nine yards.
16. This is how we got our notions of good and bad.
17. This is also how we became guilt-ridden. We learned to expect punishment when we did bad, and found ourselves waiting for the shoe to fall when we weren’t caught and punished.
18. And, this is how we got expelled from the Garden – waiting for the shoe to fall ruined our otherwise blissful existence.
19. Guilt -- along with our fear of death -- was/is the bane of human existence.
20. And then, without guilt, our fear of death decreases enormously – if it doesn’t drop out of sight entirely. And to some extent at least, a sense of guiltlessness makes us feel immortal…


21. So anyway, we humans are genetically predisposed to develop a "conscience," or "super-ego."
22. For the vast majority of us, this predisposition does actualize.
23. This genetically based conscience involves a sense that there is such a thing as "right and wrong."

24. But this is a ‘magical’ sense – there is no such thing as “right and wrong” (in this -sense) in science.
25. However unscientific this implicit belief is, we humans, nevertheless, are strongly predisposed to have it, especially as children. And unconsciously at leasy, it never goes away.
26. This sense of right and wrong implies at least something like a G-d. It involves an at least primitive concept of G-d. That's because, in order for there to be an ultimate “right” and “wrong,” the Universe has to care

27. As it turns out, we humans are also predisposed to believe in a much more sophisticated, all-powerful, and loving, G-d – the ultimate father figure -- who, naturally enough, defines right and wrong.
27.1.
We seem to have a round hole in our collective unconscious just waiting for this round and all-powerful peg.

28. In addition, our conscience assumes that we have free will. (How could right and wrong have any meaning if we had no choice in the matter?)
29. So, we don’t have to do the right all the time – and (very) often, we don’t.
30. But also predisposed in our genes is the potential sense of sin, shame, guilt and expected punishment -- for application when we don't do the right.
31. And as noted above, most likely, this sense of guilt is directly tied to our subconscious expectation of punishment.
32. Over a lifetime, we develop a strong subconscious expectation of punishment yet to come – this is what we mean by “guilt.”
33. It is this sense of guilt (or, looming punishment) that can make life so painful -- and can threaten to make life not worth living. It is guilt that gives pain its edge.
34. Without guilt, life would just be an exciting game.

35. Doing the wrong -- committing sin -- also gives us a sense of separation from G-d.

36. The sense of committing sin has serious tangible repercussions in regard to our sense of well-being and what the future holds for us.

37. All these senses and tendencies are predisposed in our genes.
38. Not that they will necessarily actualize, just that they will under the right circumstances -- and the right circumstances are pretty much universal as far as we humans are concerned.
39. In most human environments, the human genome will develop the senses and tendencies described above.

40. Also, we humans have the innate predisposition to sense, or believe in, ultimate meaning and an ultimate purpose in life.
41. The ultimate purpose that we at least vaguely sense is “returning to G-d.”

42. Fortunately, and naturally, there is a way to cancel out our sins -- and thereby assuage our guilt, fulfill our purpose, and return to G-d.
43. Assuaging our guilt, involves two steps: repentance and ‘payback.’
44. And, if we do these right, we can actually rise above all that pain I’ve just spelled out.
45. But then, neither is easy – far from it. And as it turns out, we need some help with both – a lot of help.
46. This is where a Messiah comes in.
46.1.
And, this seems to be what Jesus was all about.
46.2. Jesus was here to help us return to G-d.

47. Full repentance requires what might best be called, “surrender to G-d.”
47.1.
We need to repent to the one who defines right and wrong; and, full repentance is unconditional.
47.2.
We need to put our lives in G-d’s hands and allow Him to do with it as He will -- with no backtalk or disclaimers or caveats.
47.3. We need to give up.
47.4. We can’t say, “Do what you will -- but I won’t accept spanking.”
47.5. We need to surrender to the one who makes the rules (or at least, the one we subconsciously imagine to make the rules).
47.6. We need to surrender to G-d.
48. But, the G-d concept is so abstract. At least most of us, in order to really surrender, need something more “concrete” and personal to which to surrender.
49. And so, the Messiah would come to make it personal. (You might want to see A Farmer and His Geese.)


50. Full payback involves sufficient punishment (as well as a gift to the aggrieved party).
51. Unfortunately however, we need to know that we have been punished enough, and we won't know that until the person in charge tells us that we have… (You might want to see Knowledge of Sufficient Punishment.)
52. In addition, however hard we try, we cannot quit sinning…
53. Nor, can we keep up with our payments.
54. And, we develop a ‘backlog.’
55. So our sense of sin, guilt and separation is, at best, always with us -- at worst, it keeps getting worse.
56. In Biblical terms, this is how we were expelled from the Garden of Eden -- our lives became weighted down with guilt.

57. To some extent, the stronger our sense of conscience, the worse our feeling of guilt.
58. But then, to a large extent, even we guilt-ridden types can sweep these feelings under our conscious rugs and outwardly live happy lives.
59. But then, under our rugs, these things are festering, metastasizing, haunting us, messing with our lives, and threatening to take away life’s meaning. They ‘sour’ us. They keep us from living life fully. They keep us separated from G-d. They can make life miserable.
60. And so, it is guilt that gives pain its edge. Without guilt, as noted before,life would be an exciting game.
61. Our sins have serious, perhaps devastating, lifetime repercussions.
62. And this is what we need “saving” from.
63. And, they really needed saving back in the first century (G-d was much harsher and demanding then (and they didn’t have Psychiatrists)).

64. And then, we also harbor a sense -- or illusion -- of transcendence and eternal life...
65. But consequently, we can seriously worry that if we don’t pay for our sins during our physical lifetimes, we will suffer separation from G-d -- and damnation -- for eternity...
66. We don’t have to come to that conclusion consciously, but we do have to be concerned about that possibility until if and when we can put it to rest.
67. This idea will naturally occur to some of us and we will naturally spread the word and the rest of us will then have to worry – whether we admit it or not.
68. In addition, we naturally expect, or at least wonder about, eternal "salvation" for the ‘good’ people among us.
69. And we naturally expect something – some place – different for the bad people among us. (Surely, the bad won’t be treated the same as the good.)
70. And we may be among the bad!
71. We anguish about appropriate punishment for a lifetime of sin. We’re naturally waiting for the other shoe to fall – from which, there may be no appeal.
72. In other words, Hell is a natural, and serious, human concern, and cannot be dismissed lightly.
73. This, also, we need saving from (either Hell itself -- or, the fear of Hell).

74. These are natural consequences of basic human nature.
75. We suspect that we have eternal life. But if we do, it may not be pretty -- to say the least.
76. So, we need a way to somehow guarantee that we will avoid Hell -- and reside with the Father forever, instead…

77. And, going back to #39, one thing we need in order to save us from our earthly misery, at least, is the knowledge of sufficient payback.
78. But, how do we do that? How do we know when we have paid enough -- especially, with all the sinning we've done and are still doing?

79. First of all, payback has to "hurt." It has to be significantly undesirable. As noted in #38, in order to work, payback has to involve punishment.
80. And naturally enough, death would be seen as the ultimate punishment -- and payback.
81. With death, we should know that we have paid enough...
82. (But, short of death, as adults, we would never know.)
83. And, what kind of solution is that anyway?
84. But, one obvious, possible, alternative solution for our own death, is the death of somebody, or something, else -- some sort of substitute for our own death... Could that work?
84.1. Well, it certainly could if we "identify with," or love, the substitute...

85. From another angle, for primitive peoples, blood must have been magical -- as blood drained out, life followed.
86. And, many primitive peoples did resort to one form of blood sacrifice or another in order to appease the forces that they had come to believe ruled the universe.
87. And, while other ancient societies resorted to blood sacrifice simply to keep the gods satiated and friendly, ancient Judaism saw blood sacrifice as a magical way to pay for their own sins...

88. So 3500 years ago, Judaism took a giant step in its own evolution and Moses gave the Israelites what they needed. He spelled out the do's and don'ts of proper behavior -- as dictated by G-d (allegedly) -- and these included the specifics of repentance and payback for sins. With what became Torah, the Israelites were good to go.
89. And for the Israelites, once the proper blood had been properly spilled, the sinners' sins were paid for and the sinners knew they could rest easy.

90. And, it probably worked. To a large extent, on the Day of Atonement, after the "scapegoat" had been pushed off a cliff, the sinners would feel free of guilt, saved and happy.

91. So even then, guilt was the bane of human existence, and once separated from their sins, the sinners could rise above their earthly pains. Hallelujah!

 

92. But then came the Assyrians and Babylonians who destroyed the Temple and abducted the Israelites -- separating them from their potential "salvation." (I'm not sure of all the different barriers there were to Moses' prescription, but the necessary magical sacrifices were not available to the Israelites living in Babylon.)
93. But then, Ezekiel explained to the Israelites in Babylon that while they couldn't expect the immediate salvation (relief) provided by blood sacrifice, they needn't worry about parental sins, or their own past sins, in regard to their ultimate salvation -- all they needed to worry about in regard to their ultimate salvation was committing themselves to righteousness and then repenting for whatever sins they would inevitably commit anyway. (Ezekiel allowed that even those committed to righteousness would make mistakes...)

94. Then finally, the Israelites were allowed to return home, rebuild the Temple, perform the necessary rituals for payback, and all was well -- for awhile.

95. But naturally enough, Judaism evolved over the next several centuries, and by the time Jesus came along, the Israelites really needed a new "covenant" -- for various reasons, animal sacrifice was no longer an effective, or dependable, substitute. (And soon, their Temple would be destroyed once again.)
96. The Israelites needed a replacement for their substitute -- a replacement that Moses seems to have foreshadowed with the story about Abraham almost sacrificing Isaac
.

 

(Keep in mind that these "steps" are dictated by human nature -- rather than metaphysics or cosmology.)
96. So, naturally enough, the perfect, loving, Father would answer their prayers, and provide the perfect replacement.
97. B
eing the penultimate father, the G-d of our genes will do whatever He can to bring us back into the fold. (Even an ordinary father will do whatever he can to save his child.)
98. And, the natural, perfect, replacement would be Himself.
99.
If He can somehow sacrifice Himself for us, that’s what He will do. He will suffer and ‘die’ for our sins.
100. He will offer Himself in our stead.
101. We have no choice in the matter – He just does it for us.
102. He goes to His torture and death.
103. If we can get caught up in the story, the substitution works, and we can fall to our knees sobbing.
104. Our choice is in the accepting.
105. But it works if we accept.
106. As the ultimate (the one in charge) and timeless (eternal) father, this payback is both perfect and lasting.
107. But then, to sacrifice Himself, He must come in the flesh.
108. And, to be fully meaningful, this has to hurt this human projection of Him as much as it does us – so He has to come to us as fully human. He has to come to us as an infant and grow to manhood.
109. He has to be born of a woman but have no physical father.
110. As he grows up and matures, He will naturally tell us what we need to do in order to take advantage of his offer.
111. But, being committed to our free will and self-determination, He will let us accept this offer for ourselves. He won’t force it upon us.
112. And, at the same time, this decision has to be meaningful – it can’t be just to either take His hand or go to Hell. (We’d all take His hand. We may be crazy, but we’re not stupid. This can’t be a giveaway – it would be meaningless then.)
113. And so, for us to effectively accept His offer, we have to feel our love for Him. This allows Him to fully substitute for us.
114. But to feel our love for Him, mostly what we have to do is to recognize who he is and what he did for us.
115. And, since this story is written into our genes, all we have to do is look (hard enough) and we’ll recognize Him.
116. But, pride and fear keep most of us from looking that hard…

117. This all suggests that the Christian interpretation of the Old Testament is correct, and that the Sanhedrin, perhaps more political than priestly, not fully understanding the scripture, and blinded by its own power, turned a deaf ear to Jesus – they should have recognized His story. They just didn't want to.
118. We humans absolutely do need to feel saved, and Jesus presented the story of salvation that the Sanhedrin needed to hear. The Sanhedrin just didn’t have the ears for it.

119. Our conscience, or super-ego, is really just a giant neurosis. We need something a-rational to save us from it.

120. This also explains why Jesus is so readily assimilated by so many societies. They all recognize the story. It's down in their genetic libraries just waiting to be dusted off.
121. Note also that this remedy apparently described in the human genome actually works. ‘Accepting Jesus as our Savior,’ means feeling His realness and a personal love for Him, and does have the effect of sweeping away our sense of accumulated and overpowering guilt -- which leaves us feeling cleansed, whole, saved, loved, eternal and right with G-d…
122. Hallelujah…