Dave Gardner is a long time reader of this blog. He is a retired public school math teacher, and he and I were in a writing group that helped polish my two novels, Cross Examined and A Modern Christmas Carol.
For the moment, let’s assume that God exists, the iconic Judeo-Christian God. He is an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipresent, and omnipotent supernatural being who can do anything. Think about that for a moment: God can do anything. With the snap of his fingers (or whatever ritual he used) God created the heavens and the earth and everything in, on, above, and below it. He knows the past, present, and future of the universe, the galaxy, the planet, and every living thing. But this causes a problem.
If that’s the case, if God can do anything—anything!—then there’s nothing remarkable about anything he does. He didn’t have to practice 10,000 hours to achieve mastery of his talents. He didn’t have to sacrifice anything to achieve his level of mastery. God. Can. Simply. Do. Anything.
It reminds me of a short story I read many years ago. A baseball team has been dwelling in the standings basement for years and the manager is desperate to find a player who can help produce a winning season, and he finds him. This player has the amazing ability to hit a home run every time he comes to bat! Every time. The manager is ecstatic, the player’s teammates are elated, the fans go wild. Every game is SRO. Game after game he hits home runs and the team soars to the top of the standings.Then something happens. The fans begin to tire of the sameness, the predictability of his at bats and the endless winning. They begin to lose interest. Hitting home runs is what the player does and it’s no longer remarkable. As a matter of fact, he’s become tedious and boring.
It’s much the same thing with God and all his omnis: if he can do anything, then his works inspire no awe, no wonder, no amazement. He simply hits home run after home run, and nothing he does is remarkable.
So, what is remarkable? That science can give us theories and explanations on the evolution of the universe, galaxies, planets, and life itself, all without reference to a supernatural being, and it does so clearly and scientifically. That takes enormous effort, brilliance, and resources, and it’s not at all inevitable.
And that, indeed, is remarkable!
Either this Jesus was a remarkable individual
who said and did a host of amazing, revolutionary things,
but no one outside his fringe cult noticed for over a century.
Or he didn’t—
and yet shortly after his death, tiny communities of worshipers
that cannot agree about the most basic facts of his life
spring up, scattered all across the empire.
The truth is inescapable:
there simply could never have been
a historical Jesus.
— David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed