Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Resurrection and the Church

The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth lies at the heart of Christianity. If Jesus’ return to the living world after death really happened, then the claim that He was the Son of God seems valid and provides justification for the powerful religion that came to dominate Western culture. If his resurrection was, on the other hand, just a tale, then Christianity and all it has stood for over the centuries loses most of its credibility. So which is it? This essay explores the very real possibility that the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes: perhaps Jesus’ “resurrection” refers, this essay suggests, not to a literal, physical return to life, but rather the ability of his ideas and his spirit to transcend death and create a new and better world for his followers.

This view, this possibility, can resolve a lot of conflict between believers and skeptics. It would allow Christians to remain faithful to their faith without having to fight the realities of science and logic, while giving many agnostics the rationale to finally accept Christianity. Yet it would still allow atheists to deny the existence of God, and would surely infuriate conservative Christians who insist that every word of the Bible and the church Fathers is literally true. And so it is: many people are too set in their beliefs to consider new ways of looking at things based on new evidence and new theories. If you’re one of those people, then this essay isn’t for you and you can stop reading now.

If, on the other hand, you are interested in how one might reconcile the beliefs of Christianity with the knowledge we’ve gained in the 2000 years since Jesus’ life – you may find some answers in the following essay. Before going on, let me just say that I don’t pretend to be an expert on the Bible or Christianity. I’ve studied them a fair amount over the years, but as a casual and curious observer rather than a devoted scholar. So I fully expect that serious students of Christianity will take exception to some of my readings of the Bible, and offer up alternative views of their own. This leads me to my second disclaimer. I offer the ideas and theories here that seem to me to be interesting, rational, and believable alternatives to certain conventional, traditional Christian beliefs. Just as I don’t insist to be an expert on the subject, I don’t insist that these ideas are right – just something to think about, something that you also might think is worth pondering.

The Testimony of Simon
“…The man Jesus spent many years spreading his message throughout the lands of Judea and Galilee. I was the first of his followers, but our number grew since many believed his words possessed great meaning. We traveled with him, watching as he eased suffering, brought hope, and stirred salvation.

Jesus taught me to pray. He talked of God, the final judgment, and the end of time. I came to think that he could even control the wind and waves since he stood so afar above us. The religious elders taught that pain, sickness, and tragedy were God’s judgment and we should accept that wrath with the sorrow of a penitent. Jesus said that was wrong and offered the sick the courage to become well, the weak the ability to grow a strong spirit, and nonbelievers the chance to believe. Jesus possessed a purpose, he lived his life to fulfill that purpose, and that purpose was clear to those of us who followed him.

…. In Jerusalem the man Jesus and six others were taken to a place on the hill and bound by thongs to the cross. Later in the day, the legs of three of the men were broken and they succumbed by nightfall. Two more died the next day. The man Jesus was allowed to linger until the third, when his legs were finally broken. After he died, Jesus was left on his cross for six more days while birds picked his flesh. He was finally taken from the cross and dropped into a hole dug from the ground. I watched that happen, then fled Jerusalem by way of the desert, stopping in Bethany at the home of Mary called Magdalene and her sister, Martha. They had known Jesus and were saddened by his death. They were angry at me for not defending him, for not acknowledging him, for fleeing when he was suffering. I asked them what they would have had me do and their answer was clear. ‘Join him.’ I left their home, returning days later to Galilee and the comfort of that which I knew.

Those who had traveled with the man Jesus - James and John - also returned to Galilee. Together we shared our grief over the loss of Jesus and resumed our life as fishermen. As we fished on the Sea of Galilee we talked of Jesus and all that he did and all that we witnessed. His memory seemed everywhere upon the waters, which made our grief even harder to escape. One night, as a storm swirled across the lake and we sat on shore eating bread and fish, I thought I saw the man Jesus upon the mist. But when I waded out I knew that the vision was only in my mind. Every morning we broke bread and ate fish. Remembering what Jesus once did, one of us would bless the bread and offer it up in praise of God. This act made us all feel better. One day John commented that the broken bread was so like the broken body of Jesus. After that, we all started to associate the bread with the body.

Summer ended and the feat of the Tabernacle came, which was a time to celebrate the joy of the harvest. We thought it safe to travel to Jerusalem and take part. Once there, during the procession to the altar, it was read from the Psalms that the Messiah shall not die. But he shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord. One of the elders proclaimed that though the Lord has chastened the Messiah sorely, He has not given him over unto death. In the Temple we listened to readings from Zechariah, which told that one day the Lord would become king over all the earth.

Listening, I thought of Jesus and what happened to him. The reader seemed to speak directly to me when he spoke of God’s plan to strike the shepherd so that the sheep may scatter. At that moment a love took hold of me that would not let go. That night I journeyed outside Jerusalem to the spot where the Romans had buried Jesus. I knelt above his mortal remains and wondered how a simple fisherman could be the source of all truth. The high priest and scribes had judged Jesus a fraud. But I knew they were wrong. God did not require obedience to ancient laws in order to achieve salvation. God’s love was boundless. Jesus had many times said that, and in accepting his death with great courage and dignity, Jesus had given one final lesson to us all. In ending life we find life. Loving is to be loved.

All doubt left me. Grief vanished. Confusion became clarity. The man Jesus was not dead. He was alive. Resurrected within me was the risen Lord. I felt his presence as clearly as when he once stood beside me. I recalled what he said to me many times. ‘Simon, if you love me you will find my sheep.’ I finally knew that loving as he loved will allow anyone to know the Lord. Doing as he did will allow us all to know the Lord. Living as he lived is the way to salvation. God had come from heaven to dwell within Jesus and through his deeds and words the Lord became known. The message was clear. Care for the needy, comfort the distressed, befriend the rejected. DO those things and the Lord will be pleased. God took Jesus’ life so that we could see. I was merely the first to accept that truth. The task became clear. The message must live through me and others who likewise believe.

When I told John and James of my vision they saw, too. Before we left Jerusalem, we returned to the place of my vision and dug from the earth the remains of the man Jesus. We took him with us and laid him in a cave. Then I wrote this account which I placed with Jesus, for together they are the Word.”

The preceding testimony by Simon, later called Peter, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles and a founder of the Christian religion, is fictional. In sometimes paraphrased form, it comes from an interesting novel, The Templar Legacy, by Steve Berry. To reiterate: St. Peter wrote nothing of the sort, to our knowledge. But might he have written something like this? What evidence is there that these words are untrue and therefore something Peter would not say? On the other hand, what evidence exists that such an account might be closer to the truth than the traditional story of Jesus’ life and death, and the founding of the Church? As suggested earlier, there are in fact a number of reasons to suspect the latter, as even some prominent Christian leaders argue. This brings up an absolutely critical point: this essay is NOT an argument against Christianity or an attack on its followers. It is, instead, an attempt to make Christianity a more viable option than it otherwise would be to those of a questioning nature.

Devout Christians defend their beliefs by saying that those beliefs come from the Bible, and the Bible is the Word of God. Anything that disagrees with the Bible is, therefore, wrong by definition since God cannot be wrong. This automatically ends, in their minds, any argument about Christianity, the will of God, etc. There are two serious problems with this line of reasoning, however. First, all accounts in the Bible on the life and death of Jesus do not agree with one another. In fact, there are serious discrepancies amongst the four Gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John). If the Gospels are truly “the gospel”- the Word of God - then why would they say different things about events at the heart of Christian belief?

The second problem has to do with how the Bible was compiled. The assertion is that even though it was written by men, their writings were inspired and directed by God. Yet we know that, aside from discrepancies among its writers as mentioned above and to be detailed later, and aside from very obvious factual errors in the Bible (e.g. the Earth is the center of the universe, the world was created in six days, etc.), there is also the issue of how writings were selected for inclusion in the Bible. We know that the Bible didn’t just appear at once as a completed tome; rather, it was pieced together over time, by men who very often disagreed over what should and should not be included. Here’s what I mean.

For the first few hundred years after the life and death of Jesus, the Christian church as such was not very formalized. A large part of organizing it into an effective body was the establishment of a unified Bible. Two major councils in North Africa, in Hippo in 393 and in Carthage in 397, established the canons of the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha. Since then there have been changes in the Old Testament, and the Apocrypha was dropped from the Protestant Bible at the Council of Trent in the 16th century. (Lost Books of the Bible, p. 9)

The two great authorities at Hippo and Carthage were Augustine and Jerome, but since it took about 200 years to finally decide on the biblical canon, other men, such as Tertullian, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus had major voices in the decision through their writings. The greatest difficulty was in choosing the Gospels, and after much controversy, four were chosen. The number four for the Gospels was apparently very important. Irenaeus, for example, says in his Adversus haereses that, “just as there are four winds, there must be four Gospels, for the Holy Spirit, the inspiration for all divine writing, is embodied in the wind.” (ibid) So we have four gospels instead of three or five or six, then, because of the four winds: this seems more like ancient pagan reasoning than the wisdom and guidance of a divine God. What wonderful words and important insights were in the Gospels not selected? Most people have no idea!

Peter’s Gospel, which was once held as highly as those of Matthew and Mark, and more highly than those of Luke and John, was ultimately rejected because it differs too much in its details from the three chosen synopses. The Gospel of Thomas was rejected because it opens by saying that he who understands the words of Jesus will be saved. This, of course, is in direct contradiction to the chosen Gospels and Paul’s Epistles, which say that it is he who believes that will be saved. (ibid) What if Thomas’ interpretation was closer to the truth than Paul’s? Were those who decided really guided entirely by God and his divine inspiration, or could they have been influenced by personal beliefs, politics, ambition, and other factors? How can we really know?

To recap, God didn’t burn the Bible’s words onto stone tablets as He is said to have done with the Ten Commandments. Instead, men – fallible, imperfect men created it over hundreds of years, choosing what should be included, what left out and, doubtless, changing the writings here and there as they thought appropriate. So I don’t know about you, but, I find it hard to see the Bible as 100% God’s direct, divine words, untouched by man.

What exactly is the source of this belief that the Bible is God’s unadulterated Word? He did not appear to you or your parents and tell you so. Did Jesus himself write the New Testament? Did the books of the Bible miraculously appear from heaven in view of thousands of witnesses? Of course not. So then who said they were God’s Word? Men did. Religious leaders. Guided by the Holy Spirit – they say. So let’s see if I’ve got this right: Certain men decided what should be in the Bible, and then they told us that the Bible was the Word of God. Does anybody see a problem with this? How exactly is it different from a cult leader like Jim Jones, or an Islamic fanatic, or a person on the street telling us to follow them because God is talking to them?

I’m often amazed by what the Bible actually means. I’ll read a passage and think it says one thing, but then on hearing what the Pope or prominent ministers or my Christian friends say about it, well I’m often surprised how little I understood it. For example, we read in Joshua 10:12-13 “Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, "Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon." And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.” It’s not clear at all to me that this explains the overall relationship between the Sun, the Earth and the Universe. But according to the Catholic Church in the time of Galileo “"The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures". Martin Luther and John Calvin, representing the Protestant world, both agreed that the Bible tell us that the Earth is the center of the Universe. So I guess that’s what it means in Joshua, and boy don’t I feel stupid for not realizing it! (The Crime of Galileo: Indictment and Abjuration of 1633". Modern History Sourcebook. Retrieved on 2007-07-24)

Yet, one church leader tells us the Bible says one thing while another leader says it means another. Meanwhile, leaders from the same church change what they say the Bible says over time. For example, witches, Jews, and others were burned by the thousands during the Inquisition, based partly on this verse from John 15:6 “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” But I can’t think of any church leader today who thinks we ought to burn Jews and other non-believers….

So what changed? Was it the Bible? No – obviously it was Man’s (men’s) interpretation of the Bible that changed. And if the interpretation of church leaders was Divinely guided a few hundred years ago, then does that mean that these new leaders with new interpretations are not? Or that God was mistaken then, and changed His mind? Yeah – probably that’s not what’s going on. Clearly, even if the Bible was divinely inspired – and that’s a big IF – then it is still true that Christian beliefs aren’t so much based on the Bible as on what selected people at different times say it means. So you know what? This idea that the conventional church wisdom is based strictly on the Bible, which is in turn always the Word of God, simply doesn’t match up to the facts, and saying so doesn’t make me a heretic, a “non-believer”, or any of the other derogatory terms that describe those who question the church(es).

But the fact is that the Bible has been accepted as the Word, and as time went by, with every priest and every parent telling children this is the way it is century after century, people couldn’t even conceive of questioning the Bible’s words. And that’s too bad, because the Bible is a great book, containing much wisdom, inspiration, and beauty. But it’s pretty clearly not all the Word of God. Not every word, not literally.

“What does the Bible mean when it is freed from debilitating literalism?”
Bishop John Shelby Spong

Midrash. It’s the ancient Jewish practice of interpreting holy writings and tweaking them to fit new times or new situations. The Jewish Encyclopedia says that among other things, midrash “illustrate(s) the future by appealing to the past.” In a way then, it’s story-telling in order to get a point across. Which takes us to the other big problem with the Bible, as it relates to the story of Jesus himself. According to Jeffrey John, who is a New Testament scholar and dean at Oxford’s prestigious Magdalen College in England, “The birth narratives (of Jesus) are quite obviously Haggadic midrash.” John Shelby Spong, who is a Bishop in the Episcopal church and a devout Christian, claims that “Christian scriptures and traditions “have borrowed freely, if not always consciously, from the mythology of the ages.” Furthermore, Spong agrees that “The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John are products of the tradition of midrash far more than most Christians have ever imagined.” In simple words, they (the stories of Jesus in the New Testament) are built upon myths and earlier Bible stories, and are not all literally true. For example, the story of the young Jesus in the temple was patterned after Samuel and his experience in the temple. The “wise men” came out of the 60th chapter of Isaiah. The “guiding star” had appeared earlier in the birth of Abraham, Isaac, and even Moses. Many more examples of this kind of thing can be found in 1 Kings, Numbers, and elsewhere. Remember: a devout, highly-educated theologian and Christian bishop says this, not an enemy of Christ and the church. (Resurrection: Myth or Reality, by John Shelby Spong, p. 15)

“Most people have no difficulty seeing the mythological elements in a religious system other than their own. The problem comes when looking at one’s own traditions. Most of us are too close to our own faith to see clearly…” So said Joseph Campbell, the great American student of mythology. The story (myth?) of Jesus’ virgin birth has been repeated countless times in almost every religious system, from Zoroaster to Romulus and Remus, for example. His return to God in a cosmic ascension is another theme that is quite popular in many religious traditions, such as Buddha and Osiris. (ibid, p. 40)

Spong says of the Christian Scriptures that “… none of them has either the quality or advantage of being an eyewitness account. There are serious conflicts about dates, names, places, and events.” So just what are some of these inconsistencies and other problems of accuracy in the Gospels? Well, first of all it’s important to acknowledge that none of the authors were in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth, yet they’re able to tell us (with different details, depending on the author) just what happened. The temptation in the wilderness happened while Jesus was alone, according to Matthew 4 and Luke 4, yet they can tell us all about it. Similarly, the content of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethesamane, which he uttered after leaving Peter, James, and John (Luke 22:41) was something that Jesus himself must have told his disciples. However, upon Jesus’ return he found his disciples asleep and he was immediately thereafter betrayed, arrested, tried, convicted, and crucified. When and how could he have told them? The Gospels tell us that all of the disciples forsook Jesus and fled when he was arrested, yet we are given in the accounts of the crucifixion intimate details as to what Jesus said, what the crowd said, what the penitent thief said, what the non-penitent thief said, and what the centurion said. (ibid pp. 7,8)

Still not addressing the most vexing inconsistencies, we should acknowledge that the Gospels make claims to contain the words Jesus spoke. However, none were written in the language he spoke. They were all written in Greek, while Jesus seems to have spoken Aramaic, a version of Hebrew. The narratives entered the Mediterranean world, and were then translated into the Greek language. Still later, they passed into Latin, and then later still into the languages that emerged in the Western world, e.g. English, French, German. Now, were God guiding all of these translations, we might guess that no word meanings were changed and today’s Bible is a 100% accurate portrayal of what was originally written (by people who didn’t witness the events, I may remind you). But am I really going out on a limb by guessing that some of the original intentions of Jesus’ Aramaic words and the Apostle’s Greek writings might have been changed somewhat through all these translations over the years?

Let’s finally look at some of the specific contradictions found in the Gospels. Matthew says Jesus was an aristocrat, descended from David. Luke agrees with the David connection, but points to a lesser class. Mark went in a different direction and spawned the image of a poor carpenter. Jesus’ birth is also told differently. Luke says shepherds visited. Matthew called them wise men. Luke said the holy family lived in Nazareth and journeyed to Bethlehem for a birth in a manger. Matthew says the family was well off and lived in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born in a house. (Berry, p. 323)

All of them say that the disciples fled at Jesus’ arrest some 30 years later, so none were there. Yet detailed accounts of the crucifixion are recorded in all four Gospels! Faithful Christians say the information came from God’s inspiration. But the four Gospels, the so-called Words of God, conflict with each other more than they agree in this regard. Does God get confused? Concerning the crucifixion, John says the day before Passover, the other three say the day after. Even the Savior’s final words varied. Matthew and Mark say is was “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In Luke he says “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” In John it is even simpler: “It is finished.” (Berry, pp. 323-4)

In Paul there is no sense at all of a physical resurrection of Jesus back into the life of this world. Instead, Paul claims that God raised Jesus from death into His presence; from the grave to God’s right hand. (Spong, p. 50) Similarly, Mark’s story of the resurrection significantly challenges the common wisdom of traditional Christians who “are trapped inside the literal physical images of a premodern world.” A careful reading of Mark will simply not support those literal assumptions. (ibid, p. 60) Meanwhile, we see the narrative of Easter take big leaps in Matthew. (ibid, p. 72) And finally, Luke was the first author to write from a gentile perspective. “The images that rise out of Jewish mythology, anthropology, and apocalyptic visions in Paul and Mark and, to a lesser degree, Matthew, have been replaced in Luke by what Edward Schillebeeckx called the ‘rapture model’ image or the ‘divine man’ image.” This was an image that gentiles would understand, because it was popular in Roman mythology. Stories about Romulus, the founder of Rome, employed this “divine man” model when Romulus revealed to the people of Rome that Caesar was “lord of the world”. (ibid, pp. 76-77)

According to the literal texts of the Gospels, which we are told were divinely inspired by all-knowing God, who went to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week? Mark’s was the first Gospel, written around 70 AD. Only 8 of 665 verses deal with the Resurrection, the key event in Christianity! It does not mention that the disciples believed Jesus had been raised from the dead. Instead, it tells us that the disciples fled. Only women appear in Mark’s version of what happened; Mark named Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome as his Easter Day tomb visitors. They flee, telling no one what they saw. There are no angels, only a young man dressed in white who calmly announces that “He has risen.” No guards, no burial clothes, and no risen Lord.

Matthew’s testimony came a decade later. Matthew named only Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” at the tomb. Mark’s Gospel had left many unanswered questions, so Matthew changed the story to suit his troubled time after the Romans destroyed the Temple and Jews fled into the Greek-speaking world. In Matthew, an angel descends in an earthquake and announces the resurrection. Guards are struck down. The stone has been removed from the tomb, and an angel perches upon it. Contrary to Mark, the women rush out to tell the disciples what’s happened and actually see the risen Christ.

By the time of Luke, written around 90 AD, the Jewish Christians had moved further away from Judaism and Luke modified the resurrection story to fit this. Luke said that Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Joanna, and “some other women” went to the tomb; they find it empty and go to tell the disciples. Luke then tells a story that appears nowhere else in the Gospels: Jesus travels in disguise, encounters some disciples, shares a meal, then vanishes when he’s recognized. There is another encounter later with all of the disciples where He eats with them and then vanishes again. And only in Luke do we find the story of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

Then there’s John, written the furthest away from Jesus’ life – around 100 AD. There are again many changes, almost as if John is describing a different Christ. No Bethlehem birth – Jesus is born in Nazareth instead. Rather than the 3 year ministry of the other Gospels, John says it was only one year. The Last Supper occurred on the day before the Passover, the crucifixion on the day the Passover lamb was slaughtered; this is also different from the other three Gospels. John also moved the cleansing of the Temple from the day after Palm Sunday to a time early in Christ’s ministry. In John, Mary Magdalene alone goes to the tomb and finds it empty. She never even considers a resurrection, but instead thinks the body has been stolen. Only when she returns with Peter and the other disciple does she see two angels. Then the angels are transformed into Jesus Himself, according to John.

All of these preceding details come from Spong’s book, p. 101, and Berry’s book, pp. 334-336. Even though Berry’s book is fiction, I believe that the points mentioned above are in fact Biblically accurate. And so it appears among other things, through the years the record grew from Mark’s young man dressed in white, to Matthew’s dazzling angel of the Lord, to Luke’s two angels, to John’s two angels who fade into being Jesus himself. “One wonders where objectivity is in this migratory narrative that picks up legendary details as it wanders through time.” (Spong, p. 102) Some of this contradictory data is not terribly significant, while some of it is rather troubling. But in all cases, the contradictions reveal a lack of reliability in the accounts that describe critical moments in the story of Christ. They also neutralize any claim that the Bible is always and in its every word, infallible.

“The myth of Christ has served us well" – Pope Leo X (1513-1521)

I don’t know if we can go along with this quote. There’s a lot of controversy over whether the Pope actually said this, let alone in what context. (See a priest’s comments on this here:  I am greatly disinclined to think that the Catholic church intentionally created an entire myth about the man Jesus in order to control people, amass great wealth, etc.

On the other hand, there seems to be ample reason to question whether the true story of Jesus and his death is exactly as the church says. It is a fact that the Bible isn’t always completely accurate (the Earth is not the center of the universe and was not created in six days), it is a fact that it often contains contradictory statements (there were guards, burial clothes, and 2 angels at Jesus’ tomb; no, there were no guards, burial clothes, or angels at his tomb!), and it is a fact that our church leaders change their minds radically on what the Bible means (we must burn witches and Jews; no, we shouldn’t burn anybody!). A great deal of evidence supports the idea that the Bible was written by men, not by God. There are valid reasons to think that a number of Bible passages were based on myths from previous cultures, or updated versions of earlier Bible stories.

Dr. Frank Crane, an influential Presbyterian minister and columnist some one hundred years ago said: “It must be remembered also that such a thing as historical accuracy is a comparatively novel product. The older writers never dreamed of it. They wrote in order to be interesting, not to tell the truth.” (Lost Books of the Bible, p. 14) Rather clearly, the Gospel discrepancies have shown that we don’t know the whole truth about Jesus, his death, and his possible resurrection. Almost certainly, the story changed over the years; almost certainly the whole truth is not the sanitized, standardized version that all of us were taught.

And so we come back to the fictitious Testimony of Simon, and to Bishop Spong’s theories. It makes sense that they may actually be closer to the truth than is traditional church canon. While most Christians simply cannot conceive of such a possibility it would, as mentioned in this essay’s beginning, answer a lot of questions and resolve a lot of conflict. Devout Christians can still revere Jesus as the greatest teacher, strive to emulate his life and actions, and see him “at the hand of God” and the key to everlasting (spiritual) life.

This point of view – that Jesus Christ and the Bible have much knowledge and good to offer humanity, even if the stories are not always literally true – resolves all sorts of other problems as well. (See my earlier essay: Evolution vs. Creation for more on this) Folks who believe in a Higher Power, but who have been turned off by Christianity’s rejection of science and logic when those things disagree with literal interpretations of the Bible, would tend to embrace a church that allows as how some parts of the Bible were more parable or past lore updated to fit the times, than literal truth.

Unfortunately, such a change in church doctrine is unlikely, and I expect few if any conservative Christians to be receptive to the idea. That would require considering that what you’ve been taught all your life is not exactly correct, and most people simply won’t do that. They see this kind of stuff as an attack on who they are, and just can’t open their minds to evidence, logic, and other possibilities. What a shame….

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