I am lazy. I prefer taking self-help quizzes to find out about myself to the hard work of psycho-spiritual examination. This morning a took the CNN quiz that is tied in with their special on Atheists. It was very helpful.
The first question asked if I believed in God. I said yes. They never asked me what I believed about God or what the God was that I believed in or what I took the word “God” to mean. Either I believed in God, however imagined, or not. I said yes.
That was the only question they asked about God. Six questions about religion and my willingness to argue about religion in the Internet later, and the quiz revealed that I “was not sure whether God exists”.
How they got from my affirmation of belief to agnosticism I don’t know. But there it is: I’m agnostic. No getting around it; quizzes like this don’t lie.
• • •
I’ve been watching CNN’s Finding Jesus: Faith, Facts, and Forgery. Four episodes in and all we’ve got is forgery: The Shroud of Turin, a finger of John the Baptist, the Gospel of Judas, and the ossuary of James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus. While the show proves that these items are not what they claim to be, the show is careful to include a few people of faith who doubt the facts and thus keep alive the slim hope that these aren’t forgeries. [Technically the Gospel of Judas isn’t a forgery, but a revisionist history designed to paint Judas in a better light.] Next week the subject is the wood of the True Cross. Chances are it will prove to be wood, but not much more.
The show claims to discover “fascinating new insights into the historical Jesus, utilizing the latest scientific techniques and archaeological research.” In fact it is little more than a remake of any number of pseudo documentaries from the History Channel.
I get why CNN is doing this: Holy Week is coming, and CNN is exploiting Jesus to get ratings. Nothing wrong with that; churches do the same thing every Sunday. But I was hoping for something more than Dan Brown lite. There is so much that is vital and interesting and important to tell us about Judaism and Jesus in the first century; there is so much we can learn about how the Gospels were written, who the real Paul was and which letters he did and did not write among the Epistles of the New Testament, and what the Gnostic Gospels are really about. But we will learn none of this. What a waste.