This is the description of religious faith by Sam Harris, a best-selling author. Harris is a priest in the religion of atheism: a true believer, and an evangelist for his faith. His entry today at WaPo’s On Faith is a screed, punishing believers verbally for their foolish and primitive beliefs.
Harris’ thesis is the tired one of atheists, and has been a “stumbling block” (to quote Scripture) for two millenia: the torture and killing of one to satisfy the sins of the world, to bring the books up to snuff, pun intended. For Harris, Christianity is merely a continuation of earlier, more primitive blood sacrifices. And, in his words,
The notion that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that his death constitutes a successful propitiation of a “loving” God is a direct and undisguised inheritance of the scapegoating barbarism that has plagued bewildered people throughout history. Viewed in a modern context, it is an idea at once so depraved and fantastical that it is hard to know where to begin to criticize it. Add to the abject mythology surrounding one man’s death by torture—Christ’s passion—the symbolic cannibalism of the Eucharist. Did I say “symbolic”? Sorry, according to the Vatican it is most assuredly not symbolic.
Harris then goes on to quote what was, and so far as I know, remains, the official Roman Catholic dogma on the real presence of Christ.
Yes, Harris is correct: viewed strictly from the point of view of reason, this is a blood sacrifice, unworthy of a loving God. Where Harris, and other acolytes in the temple of atheism fall short is their understanding of this world. It is God’s creation, but it is also a fallen creation. And we, at the top of this heap, are sinners in the hands of an angry God (Jonathan Edward). All of the “I’m ok, you’re ok” mush that is preached in mainline churches does not change this.
Was God angry at His son, Jesus? No, or course not. But the son had to be sacrificed to wake us up. To realize that salvation could only be had through the atonement of the perfect sacrifice on the cross. Lesser means did not suffice. Could not suffice.
It is a hard sell, and one will never convince an atheist on the sole grounds of reason. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. He, the Spirit, is necessary to provide God’s grace, which leads to belief, which alone leads to salvation.