XFiles: The Fairy Tale Maid and the Snuff Porn Savior

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 15.)

Few things in life are as handy as a good rationalization. No matter where you start from, and no matter what the actual facts are, a good rationalization will always take  you to wherever you want to be. That’s deeply satisfying, if not strictly honest or wise.

The problem is that when you’re faced with a big problem, you sometimes feel the urge to draw on two or more rationalizations, to try and reinforce your position. That’s generally a bad idea. Rationalizations are not the truth, and do not benefit from the perfect self-consistency that is the hallmark of real-world facts. As soon as you start piling on different rationalizations, you begin to expose the inherent inconsistencies between them. Geisler and Turek provide us with yet another good example in this week’s installment of IDHEFBA.

We begin with a fairy tale romance, inspired by Kierkegaard (as interpreted by Philip Yancey).

The king was like no other king. Statesmen trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maid.

How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his very kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace, and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist… But would she love him?

It’s a classic dilemma, at least for those in positions of extreme power: you want to know someone’s true feelings, yet you can never know whether the other person’s responses are due to genuine affection or whether they merely feign affection out of respect and/or fear of your great power. Not to give away the plot or anything, but the king here is supposed to stand for God.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. God is supposed to be able to see so deep into the human heart that he knows thoughts we ourselves don’t even know we’re thinking. But work with me here. It’s a rationalization. It doesn’t have to be consistent with the facts as long as it takes us to a desired conclusion via some sort of narrative plausibility.

So where were we? Oh yes, the king’s dilemma. Fortunately, the king is a genius. He thinks real hard and decides to disguise himself as someone else, and then see if the maid will fall in love with him for himself, without knowing about his royalty or power. Unfortunately for the folks at Disney Animation, the story ends there. There is no “happy ending,” because the point of the story is to make us believe that Jesus is really God, in disguise, coming down to us commoners, as a commoner, to see how we really feel.

Let’s pause here for a moment and give Kierkegaard his proper credit. This is a brilliant idea. Ok, perhaps it’s a bit obvious, but sometimes it takes genius to be the first to notice the obvious, and that’s really what we have here. If you’re an omnipotent God, and you want to know what people really think about you when you are, so to speak, not around, all you have to do is take on a more humble form, and then go spend some time with them, in person, in two-way face-to-face interaction.

So props to Kierkegaard. This is exactly what a real, loving God would do—and exactly what the Christian God does not do. If your goal is to find out how the commoner really feels, and especially if you want to give her a fair chance to decide whether she loves you or not, the best and only way to accomplish your goal is to do what any suitor would do: come courtin’ and spend time together. Thus, we can confidently conclude that the God-king of Kierkegaard’s story does not exist, because He does not show up to spend time with us. Thanks Søren!

Ok, back to Geisler and Turek. Our two intrepid apologists, naturally, intend that we should assume that Jesus was God in disguise, showing up in person (once!) because He’s looking for unbiased opinions about Himself. That might work for the small circle of people who actually met Jesus (assuming Jesus actually were God incarnate), but outside of that immediate circle, you lose the whole point of the exercise.

The point of the exercise, in Kierkegaard’s fairy tale, is that the God-king wants to obtain the commoner’s true opinion uninfluenced by His awesome reputation. Outside of the small circle of people who actually met Jesus, though, our opinions about Jesus have no alternative but to be based exclusively on—guess what?—his reputation. That’s all he left behind. He’s not here any more, and God does not show up in real life. Everything we know or think or feel today regarding Jesus is what we know, think, and feel based on what other men say about Jesus. Plus, if He had to come down among us in order to assess our reaction to Him, what will He do now that He’s gone? Either He didn’t really need to come down in the first place, or else His departure has left Him unable to fulfill His mission with regards to the rest of us.

What really comes through when you think about Kierkegaard’s fairy tale romance is how radically different reality is from the fantasies Christians have about their allegedly loving and humble deity. That fantasy is not enough for Geisler and Turek, though, who launch from this unfinished fairy tale right into a gruesome account of Jesus’ suffering, with a morbid fascination that goes into enough bloody detail to border on the pornographic (in the snuff porn sense of the word).

The connection, in Geisler and Turek’s mind, is the idea of Jesus as “The Suffering Servant.” Jesus, being a mighty King in heaven, is supposed to have humbled himself so that he could walk among us, not as our king, but as our servant. That’s the fairy tale connection, the link to a romantic young man willing to go to any lengths to approach his lady love. But there’s no happy ending here. Christians also have to rationalize Jesus’ brutal and violent death, and that’s where things get just a little creepy.

Remember, the original premise is that the whole point of becoming human was so that God could get an unbiased expression of how we feel about Him. He sets aside all the awesomeness and power and glory and so on so that we make up our minds about Him without being unduly pressured or swayed by His reputation. But that rationalization collides head on with the one that tries to explain why Jesus died such a violent death.

Geisler and Turek’s rationalization for the cross is that Jesus didn’t just take on the form of a servant, he became the Suffering Servant. That’s “Suffering,” with a capital Pain. Even though they open with a parable about how God wants our honest and unprejudiced response, they then proceed with a literal blow-by-blow description of every bruise, every wound, every tiny hot sliver of agony experienced by Jesus, in order to impress on us how cruel and unfair it would be for us to fail to offer our love to him in return.

Yeah, no pressure.

I’ll spare you the two-and-a-half pages of sadistic glory that Geisler and Turek use to (pardon the expression) drive home their point. But you get my drift. Christians are in denial, and have been for 2,000 years. Their religious leader ticked off the wrong guys, and they came down on him with predictable vengeance, and he lost. His disciples have never accepted that, and have come up with all kinds of rationalizations for why things turned out the way they did. The rationalizations are confused, contradictory, and downright creepy, and they blindly overlook what a real God would really do if He were truly willing and able to participate in a tangible, personal relationship with us.

Up next: Geisler and Turek promise to share with us the “box top” to the jigsaw puzzle of life. Stay tuned.

 
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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “XFiles: The Fairy Tale Maid and the Snuff Porn Savior”

  1. Mack Says:

    One can take the opening fairy tale, and turn it around, so that instead of God wanting to be certain that mortal man loved him rather than his position, he allows mortal man to love him without regard to his position, to strengthen and clarify to mortal man what his (man’s) love truly is.

    Now, this is as much a fairy tale as the original, as ridiculous, and subject to the same argument of absence that the other version is. But the point of apologetics is twist and turn and writhe and avoid the clear light of logic, reason, and fact – and I can hear apologists drawing in breath to say it. So I thought I’d say it first and pop the bubble while doing so

    Cheers,
    Mack

  2. josef johann Says:

    What about the fact that Jesus openly declared himself the son of God? And all those miracles? If the intention of God was to see how people “really” feel about him, doesn’t this behavior from Jesus directly undermine that?

  3. pboyfloyd Says:

    I guess the maid(you) find that you love the king, and live happily ever after, or you don’t, so the king says, “To Hell with you then!”, as spurned kings are wont to do.

  4. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Ironically enough, that’s roughly the message Geisler and Turek will be presenting next week ;)

  5. Tacroy Says:

    Thing is though, if you believe in the Trinity, that’s a cop-out. The Son is not the Father, so in fact the king never came down to the maiden’s level – he simply sent something that’s kind of him but not really, and then that something died of gorn. But it wasn’t the king, they’re very clear on this.

    That’s the problem with including a falsity-by-definition in your mythology – any attempt to explain anything will eventually flounder on the jagged rocks of nonsense.