8 Faith with Reason by ert554898


									  8 Faith with Reason

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the
Christ and Hegel’s Philosophy of
       Heidegger on Plato and Christianity

• 1) Heidegger: “Nietzsche was right in saying
  that Christianity is Platonism for the people.”
• 2) Nietzsche: Christianity is the expression of
  the slave morality
• => two interpretations of Plato
• => two interpretations of Christianity
• => Hegel on slavery and morality
   Heidegger/Nietzsche interpretation of Plato

• Plato separates reality into two levels:
   – lower, earthly level: the object of sensation and illusion
   – higher level: the object of intellect, reason: the ideal world of Reality
• => disenchantment of physical, earthly life
• Christianity repeats this scheme in the form of popular
• => material world as object of pragmatic knowledge and
  control: technological mentality of West
• =Critique of The Matrix?
       Stoicism = Slave morality
• Hegel’s dialectic of master/slave
  – The Master is implicitly overcome by the slave
• Stoic resolution: freedom at the mental plane
  through detachment from emotional
  – Star Wars re Jedi
• = Dualism of inner/mind and outer/ body
  Two forms of Christianity: Stoic and Platonic

• = Philosophy of (Roman) Empire
• Should be: Christianity = Stoicism for the
• Platonism = philosophy of the (Greek) republic
• Is there a “Platonic Christianity” as well?
  Gospel of Mary Magdalene (Gnostics)
        Kant’s critique of Stoicism
• Stoicism: moral duty is its own reward
• Kant: No one can be happy without the satisfaction
  of basic desires, without finding love in their lives
• Hence: morality aims at the Highest Good
   – Divinity manifested in the here and now, as in Plato’s
• Hegel: Platonism, Stoicism, and Kantian morality are
  stages in the evolution of humanity whose goal is the
  realization of Spirit
Two interpretations of Christianity
• 1) Theory of Atonement
  – The Kid: You saved me
• 2) Theory of Jesus as Teacher/Model
  – Neo: You saved yourself, kid.
        Two Early Christianities
• 1) “Orthodox” interpretation of Jesus as
  – Need to believe in redeeming blood sacrifice of
    Jesus to be saved
• 2) “Gnostic” interpretation of Jesus as
  – Need to understand the deep teachings of Jesus in
    order to be able to save oneself
             Fate of Gnostics
• Council of Nicea in 325 CE formulates
  orthodox Christian beliefs (Nicene Creed)
  – Called by Roman Emperor Constantine
• “Gnostic” theories of “inner knowing” are
  outlawed in 326 CE by the Emperor’s decree
  – Texts buried in desert of Egypt near Nag Hammadi
    are discovered in 1945
 Republic and Empire in Star Wars
• Early Republic falls
• Empire arises by taking advantage of
  limitations, divisions of the Republic
• New Republicans: Return of the Jedi
  – = Early Christians express spirit of ancient Roman
• Irony (new dialectic) Christianity becomes the
  religion of Empire in 325 CE
    Two interpretations in early Christianity

• 1) “orthodox” Christianity of the Atonement
  – Required interpretation in 325 CE at Council of
    Nicea -- called by the Emperor
• 2) Gnostic Christians: Jesus as teacher of
  liberation, enlightenment, through one’s own
  inner knowing
  – Star Wars on Republican opposition to Empire
  – Jesus as Platonic teacher of liberation (The Da
    Vinci Code)
                A truly loving God?

• God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son
  – Like the sacrificial lambs of the Day of Atonement
    (Yom Kippur)
• Professor Levy’s comment:
  – That God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son,
    his beloved son to Him. In other words, in spite of
    millennia of efforts we have not succeeded to
    create a really and entirely loving image of a God.
    This was beyond our capacity to imagine.
   Kierkegaard’s defense of orthodox
• Kierkegaard: religion is beyond morality
  – Morality: the universal, the rational (Kant)
  – Religion: the individual, beyond rationality, a
    scandal to rational philosophy (of Hegel)
 Kierkegaard: What is Christianity?
• 1) God is Infinite
• 2) Man is finite
• 3) Jesus Christ is God and Man: Infinite and
• 4) For reason this is a contradiction
  – Christianity is not just beyond reason (as in Kant)
  – but in contradiction to reason (v. Kant and Hegel)
• 5) Requires a leap of faith beyond reason
       Hegel’s dialectic of finite and infinite

• 1) Critique of concept of external creator God
   – If God is infinite (all reality), there can be nothing outside
     of God
   – Orthodox theory of Creation: God is really a finite being
     because other than his creation.
   – Reflects Roman stage of history
• 2) Hence creation is the manifestation of the Infinite
   – all is within God; all is (implicitly) God
   – through the dialectic of involution/evolution
  Complementarity of religion and philosophy

• Religion expresses truth at the level of feelings
• Art expresses truth at the level of sensuous
• Philosophy expresses truth at the level of
  conceptual thinking
• Each stage of history is expressed in its own
  appropriate religion, art, and philosophy
        Three stages of religion
• 1) Religion of nature
  – Includes China, India
  – The divine is in the world: animism (enchanted
• Transition:
  – Greek religion of the Beautiful Individual, Division,
    & Plato’s Philosophical Remedy)
  – 1) leave the world of egotism (the cave)
  – 2) return to this world to teach others how to see
    Beauty everywhere
• 2) Religion of expediency (Rome)
  – Dialectic of the ego
  – Religion of the separate ego, disenchantment, and
  – God/gods as above nature and power over the
• 3) The Consummate Religion (Christianity)
  – God reenters the world, dies on cross (=death of
    the Ego)
  – Rebirth of Spirit through the community of free
          Death of God (Hegel)
• ““God himself is dead,” it says in a Lutheran
  hymn, expressing an awareness that the
  human, the finite, the fragile, the weak, the
  negative are themselves moments of the
  divine, that they are within God himself, that
  finitude, negativity, otherness are not outside
  of God and do not, as otherness, hinder unity
  with God.”
             Sin as separation
• Death of God: “a monstrous, fearful picture
  [Vorstellung], which brings before the
  imagination the deepest abyss of cleavage.”
  – “picture thinking”: image for the sake of feeling
• Need complementary conceptual
  – Orthodox theology of Atonement fails to provide a
    logically coherent conceptual understanding
  – Hegel: Need dialectic of the ego (compare Kant)
   Dialectic of the ego > from Stoicism to the
             Unhappy Consciousness
• Stoic consciousness is separated from the empirical
  world (= Slave morality—be a good slave or master)
• Skeptic points out the lack of substance of Stoicism
   – Han Solo sees no empirical evidence
   – But Skeptical consciousness is purely negative
• Thus: Unhappy Consciousness: Truth as the
  Unknowable Beyond, and I am powerless, nothing
   – So Anakin enters the darkness to save love
   – So Faust makes a bargain with the devil to find love
   Phenomenological meaning of the death of
• 1) Jesus is fully aware of our essential oneness with
  God (“Our Father”)
   – Just as we are when we know that the truth of reality is
     Spirit (infinity, totality, universal love)
• 2) And at the same time he intensely experiences his
  separation from God (=feeling of abandonment of
  the Ego: Unhappy Consciousness)
   – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
   – =Death of the slave consciousness
                  Overcoming sin
• Sin = separation (Ego-identification)
• Jesus expresses sin (negativity) to the fullest, and
  also death to this separation
• Jesus exemplifies the death of the Ego consciousness:
  model for all humanity of inner truth
• Human evolution = “Calvary of Absolute Spirit”
• Result >I that is We, and We that is I
   – Early Christians experience this at level of religious feeling
   – But new dialectic is needed to bring this feeling to full
     rational consciousness
   Critique of Superman theory of the Savior

• 1) Superman saves Lois Lane – after she is
   – Jor-el sends his son Kal-el to save the earth
• 2) Critique of Superman theory in The Matrix:
   – The Kid: You saved me.
   – Neo: You saved yourself, kid.
• 3) Smallville’s revision:
   – Chloe to Clark: “Even superheros need to be
            Savior or Teacher?
• 1) Image of Superman in The Matrix
• 2) Final words of first film: “I'm going to hang up
  this phone and then I'm going to show these
  people what you don't want them to see. I'm going
  to show them a world without you, a world
  without rules and controls, without borders or
  boundaries, a world where anything is possible.”
Figures of the Savior in popular culture
• Neo – You’re my savior man, my own personal
  Jesus Christ.
  – He dies and is resurrected through the loving power of
• Buffy: “the chosen one,” vampire slayer
• Anakin Skywalker: born of a virgin, the chosen
  one (=Messiah, Christ)
  – He overcomes the dark forces of Empire and brings
    balance to The Force.
  – Was his identification as the Chosen One a mistake?
    (Luke was not born of a virgin!)
        Two theories of Justice
• 1) This world is inherently weak or corrupted,
  and only an external, superpowerful being can
  save the day
• 2) Justice in this world: The world is
  intrinsically moral – crime will be punished
  and the good will receive their reward
  – The Simpsons, Buffy, The Matrix, Star Wars, and
    Woody Allen with his Hollywood Movies
           Hobbes’ pessimism
• Human nature is inherently egotistical
• The result is murder and mayhem
• Only an outside power can save us from
  – 1) The Leviathan State
  – 2) The redeeming death of Jesus Christ, Son of
    God, on the cross
   Hobbes’ “Scientific Christianity”
• The new materialism of science
   – Human beings are inherently egotistical
   – Only the State can save us from ourselves
   – Our lives are determined by outside causes
• Calvinist beliefs of the time
   – Human nature is intrinsically corrupt, sinful (original sin)
   – Only an outside power, God through the redeeming death
     of Jesus, can save us.
   – Some are predestined to be saved, others to be damned
   Kant’s alternative conception of Christianity

• 1) Critique of deterministic science
• 2) Assertion of human freedom as the basis of
• 3) Arguments for belief in the possibility of creating a
  just world (kingdom of God on earth)
• 4) Jesus as the model and teacher of morality
• 5) Rejection of the doctrine of Original Sin
 Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ
• “There is no greater hero story than this one,
  about the greatest love one can have, which is
  to lay down one’s life for someone. The
  Passion is the biggest adventure story of all
  time. I think it’s the biggest love-story of all
  time; God becoming man and men killing God.
  If that’s not action, nothing is…. Christ paid
  the price for all our sins.”
       Jesus as Savior-Redeemer
• Redemption: to buy back, “pay the price” for
  someone who is a captive slave
• Supposes that human beings are captives of
  the Evil One
• St. Augustine: We do live in a just world: all of
  us deserve damnation
• Some of us are saved through the mercy of
  God in sacrificing his only Son to redeem us
        A perfectly loving God?
• “In this is love, not that we have loved God
  but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the
  propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
• Recall: God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son
• Here: God sacrifices His own Son
             Levy’s comment
• “The unique thing that happened to the early
  Israelites was that they conceived a God that
  cares. He cares but he also demands at the
  same time that you behave morally. But here
  comes the paradox. What’s one of the first
  things that that God asks? That God asks
  Abraham to sacrifice his only son, his beloved
  son to Him.
• In other words, in spite of millennia of efforts
  we have not succeeded to create a really and
  entirely loving image of a God. This was
  beyond our capacity to imagine.”
• Is the orthodox Christian version of this – God
  sacrifices His own Son -- an improvement on
  our image of God?
        Two Early Christianities
• 1) “Orthodox” interpretation of Jesus as
  – Need to believe in redeeming act of Jesus to be
• 2) “Gnostic” interpretation of Jesus as
  – Need to understand the deep teachings of Jesus in
    order to be able to save oneself
             Fate of Gnostics
• Council of Nicea in 325 CE formulates
  orthodox Christian beliefs (Nicene Creed)
  – Called by Roman Emperor Constantine
  – Non-orthodox are outlawed
• “Gnostic” theories of “inner knowing” are
  – Texts buried in desert of Egypt near Nag Hammadi
    are discovered in 1945
       Star Wars on Christianity
• Anakin is Chosen One, born of a virgin and the
• History of struggle between Republic and
  – Early Republic falls
  – Empire takes advantage of limitations, divisions
  – New Republicans: Return of the Jedi
  – Triumph of Republic again?
     Republican nature of early Christianity

• “As imperial power became increasingly
  centralized, remote, insensitive, and later
  unstable, ‘In many ways Christianity
  represented how Rome liked to idealize its
  republican past.’” Spodek, The World’s History,
• Early Christians = Republican spirit of “each for
  all and all to each”: challenges Empire
• 325: the Empire Strikes Back
      Justice in the Hebrew Bible
• 1) Story of Job
• 2) The Suffering Servant of Isaiah
• 3) Christian Interpretation of Isaiah as
  prophetic of Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice
  Job complains of God’s injustice
• “Why does he look on and laugh, when the
  unoffending, too, must suffer? So the whole
  world is given up into the power of wrong-
  doers; he blinds the eyes of justice. He is
  answerable for it; who else?” 9:23-4.
• Recall Kant’s Antinomy of Practical Reason
             Job’s alternatives
• 1) Suffering is due to sin, disobedience of
  God’s laws
• 2) The just person should not suffer
• 3) But Job is just
• 4) Therefore there is no justice in the world
  and God is an evil demon
• 5) Missing: “the universe is a pretty cold place.
  It’s we who invest it with our feelings.”
It is necessary to believe that we live in a moral
• Rabbi Ben: “It’s a fundamental difference in
  the way we see the world. You see it as harsh
  and empty of values and pitiless. And I
  couldn’t go on living if I didn’t feel with all my
  heart a moral structure, with real meaning,
  and . . . forgiveness. And some kind of higher
  power. Otherwise there’s no basis to know
  how to live.”
             Modern atheism
• Professor Levy: “Events unfold so
  unpredictably, so unfairly. Human happiness
  does not seem to have been included in the
  design of creation. It is only we with our
  capacity to love that give meaning to the
  indifferent universe. And under certain
  conditions, we feel that the thing isn’t worth it
  any more.”
            God’s reply to Job
• From what vantage point wast thou watching,
  when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell
  me, whence comes this sure knowledge of
  thine? Tell me, since thou art so wise, was it
  thou or I designed earth’s plan, measuring it
  out with the line?
• Job submits, passes the test, and is rewarded
         Conclusions from Job
• 1) God works in mysterious ways, beyond our
  human comprehension
• 2) The sufferings of life test our commitment
  to duty, to goodness
• 3) In the end, Job is rewarded two-fold
• 4) Therefore the world is governed by moral
  law, and the Highest Good (Zion, the Kingdom
  of God) is realizable
         The suffering servant
• What about the faithful servant of God who
  goes to his death?
• How is this a “test”?
• Where is the reward?
• The ancient Jews were a this-worldly people.
  Happiness should be here and now, with
  family and friends.
     Suffering Servant of Isaiah (53)
•   Despised and rejected by men;
•   A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…
•   he was despised, and we esteemed him not….
•   We did esteem him stricken, smitten by God,
    and afflicted.
    – He suffers, and so must be guilty of sin
• But he was wounded for our transgressions;
• He was crushed for our iniquities;
• Upon him was the chastisement that brought
  us peace,
• And with his stripes we are healed.
  – His suffering is on our behalf
• All we like sheep have gone astray;
• We have turned every one to his own way;
• And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us
• He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
• Yet he opened not his mouth;
• Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter…
  – He is like the sacrificial lamb, the scapegoat
• He was cut off out of the land of the living,
• Stricken for the transgression of my people….
• There was no deceit in his mouth.
  – His sufferings are due to our sins, not his
• Yet is was the will of the Lord to crush him;
• He has put him to grief.
  – God is the ultimate cause of this man’s death, for
    God’s providence is behind all such matters
  – What is the meaning of this providence? Is it
• He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be
• by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify
  many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
• Therefore will I divide him a portion with the greater,
  and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
• because he hath poured out his soul unto death …
  and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession
  for the transgressors.
                 The reward
• The suffering servant suffers because of the
  sins of others
• Through his suffering others are saved
• There is a reward through immortality beyond
  this life
• But it consists in seeing the fruits of his action
  in his life
  Is the theory of Atonement rational/moral?

• 1) Roots of theory in Jewish religion
• 2) Literal interpretation
• 3) Moral/philosophical interpretation
   Jewish interpretation of Isaiah
• 1) There are good people (not just one) who
  die without any reward (contrary to Job, but
  according to Isaiah)
• 2) They are like the scapegoats used on the
  Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
• 3) They volunteer for the role for the sake of
• 4) Two interpretations of this role
              The scapegoat
• “Using a goat, called Azazel, often translated
  as scapegoat, the High Priest would place his
  hands on its head and confess the sins of the
  nation, essentially laying the blame on the
  head of the animal. The goat was then pushed
  off a high cliff to fall to its death.”
• http://www.everythingjewish.com/YomK/YK_
    Contemporary (“liberal”) Jewish
    interpretation of the scapegoat
• “The belief that somehow sins can be
  transferred from human to animal, has been a
  controversial subject among rabbis. As a
  result, this ceremony is no longer (except
  among the very ultra-orthodox or Hasidic
  circles) practiced today. Instead, repentance,
  prayer and giving charity is the accepted
  Jewish practice for obtaining divine
       Scapegoat interpretation
• Some people literally carry the sins of the
  world on their shoulders, suffer, and die for
  the sake of others
  – Christian interpretation: only one person does
    this: the Christ
• God forgives the sins of others for the sake of
  such persons
  – But how is this justice?
  Jewish expectation of a Messiah
• Messiah = anointed (chosen) one (Greek:
• Jewish Kings were chosen by God and
  anointed by the high priest
• History of salvation by a chosen one of God as
  was Moses; also Cyrus at the time of the
• Roman conquest at the time of Jesus: search
  for a new Messiah
              Crisis of belief
• Roman joke: INRI attached to crucifix of Jesus:
  Jesus of Nazarus, King of the Jews
• If Jesus was the Messiah, the promised King of
  the Jews, how could he have been crucified?
• One answer: traditional Jewish theory of
  Atonement, with Isaiah as prophecy.
 Orthodox Christian interpretation of
• “God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by
  his blood, to be received by faith. This was to
  show God’s righteousness, because in his
  divine forbearance he had passed over former
  sins.” Paul to Romans 3:25.`
• Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the
  sins of the world.” Catholic mass
• Mel Gibson’s Passion: the more sins, the more
  blood needed to redeem them
        Nicene Creed (325 AD)
• We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only
  Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
  God from God, Light from Light, true God from
  true God …
• For our sake he was crucified under Pontius
  Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On
  the third day he rose again in accordance with
  the Scriptures;
       Justice? Broaden the scope
• 1) Almost all humans are guilty of crimes and so
  deserve to be punished
   – A) they have committed evil acts themselves through their
     own free choices
   – B) they are born into sin through the choice of Adam and
     Eve—and cannot avoid evil acts
• 2a) God decides to punish/destroy them all, except
  for the one good person (Noah, and his family)
• 2b) God decides to spare/forgive the wicked and
  punish the one good person (Jesus, His own Son)
   – on the condition that the guilty ones believe in this blood
     sacrifice of the Son of God, join the Church, follow its rules
       Justice? Individual example
•   1) X commits a crime
•   2) Y says: punish me instead.
•   3) An innocent person is punished
•   4) and the guilty person is released
•   Isn’t this the height of injustice?
      Alternative interpretation
• 1) Some people suffer by “speaking truth to
• 2) They wake people up from their
  acquiescence to injustice
  – And are killed for it: Socrates, Jesus, Obi-Wan
• 3) Through their teachings people reject
  injustice and create a just world
• 4) These enlightenment figures will be happy
  in the knowledge of their achievements
  How does the suffering servant get
• “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the
  greater, and he shall divide the spoil with the
• He is rewarded by knowledge of the fruits of
  his efforts in this life.
• Sati: Will we ever see him [Neo] again?
• Oracle: I suspect so. Someday.

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