Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back to the Future 4: Operation Logos

If time travel were possible would you travel back to personally witness the Crucifixion of Jesus? Would that increase your faith seeing the event unfold before you? Is it necessary to see/hear/touch something to believe in it? Will interaction with it dissolve belief into fact? Does establishing a fact make it more tangible and real than belief?

I did not know there was so much literature surrounding the idea of time traveling to 1st century Palestine to witness the Crucifixion of Jesus. Here are a few examples.

  • In Richard Matheson's The Traveller (1954), a professor who is a confirmed skeptic is chosen to be the first to travel in time to see the crucifixion and comes back a changed man.
  • John Brunner's Times Without Number (1962) depicts an alternate reality in which the Spanish Armada conquered England. Time travel is eventually discovered in the 20th century and every new pope has the exclusive privilege to visit the time of Christ.
  • In Arthur Porges's story The Rescuer, (1962) a religious fanatic in 2015 takes over a carefully controlled experiment in time-travel and heads for Golgotha with a rifle and five thousand rounds to rescue Jesus.
  • In Michael Moorcock's Behold the Man (1966) the Twentieth-Century Karl Glogauer, a Jew obsessed with the figure of Jesus travels in time to the year 28 A.D. and finds that some of the New Testament characters, including Jesus, are not how they are portrayed in the Gospels. So Glogauer himself begins to step into the role of Jesus.
It makes sense that the single most important event for billions of believers would be their first destination of choice but I never thought that religious skeptics would also travel to this same time. Most of these time traveling tales surround the need for factual confirmation. If we had factual confirmation that did not match up with our personal belief would it erode our faith? I believe this depends heavily on what you believe and how you interpret it. If your faith is based on a literal interpretation of an event that happened 2000 years ago then any evidence that contradicts or displays doubt on the plausibility of the event might be challenging to the believer. Does this mean that the Crucifixion, whether or not it happened, is meaningless in light of the evidence? On the contrary it is the symbolism of the event that holds more importance than the event itself. T0 Christians the sacrifice that God gave in sending his only son to die for the sins of Humanity is a sign of a loving and just God. How He displayed His love is not important, what is important is that God loves us so much that He chose to display His love to His creation by sacrificing Himself.

Can we learn to be more like God by sacrificing those beliefs dear to our hearts which are keeping us from completely loving our fellow man? It was devastatingly difficult for me to let go and transcend the beliefs I held onto as a child. I finally understood these were barriers that kept me from fully understanding and loving my fellow man. If we never learn to remove these barriers completely I hope that we can at least learn to listen to each other through our self-imposed walls, and then maybe we won't have to seek factual confirmation on the sacrifice of one man.

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