An Atheist Sermon

An Atheist Sermon -  Jesus taught a new Prime Directive:

Where you find evil, return good.

jesus teaching on mountain

pleni sunt caeli … the heavens are full

I’ll be brief and to the point:

Why is a modern atheist like me a student of a Jewish preacher from 2,000 years ago?

1 - Because I believe our current bad monkey behavior has no future. It  would be heartbreaking to wipe ourselves out while we stand at the threshhold to the stars. But: Now that there are over 8 billion of us, we consume everything in sight and threaten not only ourselves but most of the life on this planet. What’s wrong with this picture?

2 - Religions are part of the problem, not the solution. They endorse and promote what the rulers of society want for their own benefit - wealth and wars. Paul diverted Jesus' small Jewish sect into a full blown greek mystery religion, with magic and miracles, including raising the dead. Then, with Constatine's help, it became the Imperial state religion of the Roman Empire.  

3 - I agree with Jesus that we need a new start, both as a society and as individuals. Jesus called his new society the Kingdom of God and our individual change being reborn. Jesus also said there would be few who would take up his challenge - very few. 

4 - Jesus issued a radical challenge. Society teaches conformity to its standards - returning equal injury for offenses - eye for eye, tooth for tooth, balance evil with equal amounts of evil - scaling up to stealing and killing with armies. but Jesus proposes a change, instead of balancing evil with more evil, he says: 

          Where you find evil, return good. - Jesus

          or as Tolstoy said it:
                 
There is only one way to put an end to evil, and that is to do good for evil. - Tolstoy

Churches and society, public religion or churchianity water Jesus down, hiding from his teachings, to make him acceptable to society. And this is the most difficult of his teachings. As he said, few have the courage to follow him and go this way. Very few have the courage to: - where you find evil, return good.

From nature, we know that like produces like. Figs produce figs. Grapes produce grapes. Apples produce apples. Similarly, Evil produces evil. War produces war. Hate produces hate. But returning evil for evil, bad for bad, increases, even multiplies the amount of evil - in a world of tit for tat morality. As MLKjr pointed out“An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind..” When however, we return good for evil we increase the amount of good in the world, instead of increasing the amount of evil. 

If we continually tip the scales for good, eventually evil will be overwhelmed by good.

So I repeat:

1 - The Message is always the same, 
               whether it comes from a modern atheist like me, or Jesus from 2,000 years ago:

We can guide ourself  from within.
Instead of being channeled by the external forces of society and religion.

2 - The Challenge:  be reborn as new humans, with a new behavior:

Where you find evil, return good.

        Society teaches eye for eye, injury for injury, greed, violence, war, hate.
        
Society teaches: Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

         Do we have the courage to defy society?
           - enact our love, and care for each other?
         Are we willing to take risks for each other?
           - and see the costs not as sacrifice, but as fulfillment?

Who has this kind of courage?

Where you find evil, return good.

or again, as Tolstoy said it:

There is only one way to put an end to evil, and that is to do good for evil.

It may be our only chance.

_________________________

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© Gareth Harris 2017       --------        Contact email: garethharris@mac.com        --------         see also: GarethHarris.com