Sunday, December 14, 2014

Not intended as satire

When I first read Jeffery Krall's "The 12 Difficulties of Christmas" I was pretty sure an atheist had managed to dupe the Christian Post into publishing a spoof. Nope. Krall is serious. The piece really is intended to be some type of amateurish apologetics. He really seems to think his ponderings are deeply meaningful. The level of self-deception easily loans itself to my initial impression.

His first four seem to be aimed at some of the more conservative Christians but is so shallow I don't see why even the most devout right-winger would bother with them. Krall also seems oblivious to how unnecessary such an approach is since many theists of this stripe have already fully deluded and insulated themselves from any serious questions let alone his trivial take on them. The initial set of his difficulties are:
"1- A virgin conceives…God does something that has never been done before.
2- God uses a peasant teenage girl to bring His only Son into the world.
3- God impregnates someone’s daughter.
4- God impregnates another man’s woman."

To start with, virgin births are not uncommon in mythology. The Jesus narratives do not in fact contain any unique features. Virtually every aspect of the Jesus tales are variations of common elements found in legends and folklore throughout the Middle East/Levant. Also, if he were looking for serious questions why not ask about how God can hold to a lower standard than we pathetic mortals. Krall implies that the question of infidelity and/or adultery can be brought up but never really goes into it. God did knock-up a teenager who was at the very least promised to another man. By other passages of the Bible (Old Testament) Mary should have been stoned to death for a variety of reasons. Depending on your flavor of Christianity this is also potentially an instance of incest. According to some Jesus is God incarnate which would mean that God impregnated his own mom. That's some pretty twisted metaphysical baggage. Labeling that as "Difficulties" seems to be rather superficial and even flippant.

Those disturbing aspects are just from the first third of his list. Most of the others are just as silly and nonsensical. I'll only bother with a few more. His 5th difficulty, "God does this in the most religious culture on the planet", is completely baseless. What makes this part of the world the most religious is not elaborated on. His criteria would have to be either incredibly feeble or non-existent. In ancient times religion was woven into the very fabric of society. Even today that level of theocracy is still being felt.

"6-They were required to submit to the government decree to get registered." is just as full of shit. This one is a reference to one of the elements of the Jesus narratives that can be definitively proven false. We have more than enough historical records to establish not just that the Romans did conduct censuses but how they carried them out. They did not conduct them in the manner the Gospels describe. The Romans didn't give a shit where you were born. They only cared about where you were living at the time of the census. They wanted to know what they could count on for resources and labor within specific geographic boundaries of their empire. Of course, once you accept that this part of the Jesus narratives is a complete fabrication many of Krall's points after this one are nullified.

The real difficulties related to Christmas have far more to do with accepting that it is just a mash up previous myths, legends, and customs. No atheist I know could have done a better job ridiculing "the reason for the season" than Krall's bumbling list of silly inept questions.

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