Science, Art, Freud and da Vinci
SION, January 14, 2007:   The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are more in the news today, two thousand years after the fact, than they have ever been before.  And the news is not all positive.  There is as much negative as there is positive.
The biggest media ruckus, perhaps, centres around a best-selling novel which was recently published, by an author named Dan Brown, suggesting that the death of Jesus was a fraud.  He bases this opinion on what appears to have been a belief held by 15th-Century Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, who claimed, Brown says, that Jesus did not die on the cross, but simply swooned temporarily and then rose to take off with his lover, Mary Magdalene, by whom he had a child.
Far-out stuff!  I am forced as a scientist to meet Brown and da Vinci halfway.  I don't think Jesus was clinically dead when he was taken down from his cross, where it was believed by his disciples he had died.  It was a Friday afternoon, and it is my guess that our Lord had not been on that cross long enough to kill a healthy young man.  Jesus didn't die on the cross.  What died on the cross was an act called God.  Jesus himself simply sank into his own personal hell, and after he cried "It is finished," he sank into a coma.
How long had he been on the cross?  Probably no more than five hours, if even that long.  He was laid in a borrowed tomb, guarded by two Roman soldiers.  Some time between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning he called out to his military custodians to let him out of the tomb, so they rolled away the big stone at the mouth of the tomb and let him out.  But they kept him in custody.  They had to.  It was the law.
The first person to come to the tomb on Sunday morning, as the first rays of the morning sun began to come up over the horizon, was Jesus' intimate disciple Mary Magdalene, and when she discovered that he was alive she worshipped him.  He asked her not to touch him, because, he said, he had not yet ascended to his father.  He also asked her to go and tell his other disciples that he had risen from the dead.  She immediately did that.
Jesus, I have to suggest again, did not die on the cross, although I am convinced he probably personally believed he had died and risen victorious over death, hell and the grave.  He didn't die until forty days after recovering from his coma.  That gave him forty days to get his act together, which he did remarkably and hypnotically, because he was the world's greatest hypnotist.  Let's face it.  It wasn't the cross that killed him.  Reason suggests it was a ruptured bladder which finally did him in.  He probably died in custody, and his body was disposed of in the same way as the bodies of crucified criminals were routinely processed, i.e., tossed into and cremated in the city dump.
Roman soldiers who attended on criminals being executed by crucifixion customarily carried out two final acts of violence which were designed to safeguard their responsibility of taking custody of a dead or dying body.  Number one: they broke the victim's legs, to make sure that if he wasn't dead yet he couldn't get away when he was removed from the cross.  Number two, they ruptured his bladder with the sharp end of a spear, to ensure that they would not get urinated on by a dead or dying victim of capital punishment.
Jesus' legs were not broken.  Actually, I believe the Master had many friends among the Romans.  I maintain he was half Roman by birth.
But while his legs were not broken, some ignorant soldier did rupture his bladder, and, as the Bible narration goes, "forthwith came there out blood and water."  It might as well have been described as "blood and urine," because that's what it was.
How long could a man live with a ruptured bladder, when he had no way of disinfecting the wound or having surgery done to restore his body to normal?
Probably forty days, and that is the length of time during which he met repeatedly with his disciples and talked about the coming Kingdom of God.
Was Jesus a fraud?  Sigmund Freud, a famous Austrian Jewish psychiatrist (1856-1939), a prolific writer who was regarded by the scientific community of the twentieth century as the founder of modern psychoanalysis, was very blunt about this in his writings.  He had no use for the Christian gospel of salvation through the blood of Jesus.  He simply called it "the lie of salvation."
Freud had to put himself in the position of God to make such a pronouncement.  If so, I have to meet God halfway.  Freud was fifty percent right and fifty percent wrong.  
Reality is bipolar.  It can be viewed either positively or negatively.  The gospel of Jesus, which presumably rewards believers with eternal bliss for simply accepting Christ as the Savior of the world, is no more a fraud than it is, like the water which the Master turned to wine at a wedding feast, a crock of idiocy.  
Is idiocy a lie?  I don't call it a lie.  Was Jesus a fraud?  Not in my books!  He was an innocent lamb.  "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," is how John the Baptist described him.
In the final analysis, after all is said and done, Jesus was as human as he was divine.  He was the greatest Rock Star who ever lived!  He had a fantastic act, and he had his hypnotic act together.
The actor himself was in some respects not merely bipolar, he was  schizophrenic.  That is what makes his second coming so fantastic.  The actor is coming back as a scientist, and his second coming heals the schizophrenia (the chasm between science and art).
Christianity today, in its ultimate sense, is simply a way of love and a way of life.  Religion as a system of miracle stories is a fantastic work of art.  It is not the hypnotic miracles of the great magician which make him eternal.  Only love is eternal.  Everything else is fleeting.  Love is forever.
Some years ago, just before I retired from the business world and came out to the Sion community to fade away into obscurity, I had a chat with a clergyman of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, who is related to me by marriage (he is one of my youngest brother's in-laws).
I told my friend, whom I regard as a brother in the Lord, about an experience I had years before I went bankrupt as a full-gospel Christian evangelist back when I was in my late twenties.  Two clergymen came to visit Rhoda and me in our humble cabin in Lumby, B.C.  One was a young Anglican priest and the other a United Church pastoral practitioner.  They came to tell me that I was making a mistake if I took the Bible literally in its entirety.  The Bible is not a volume of science, they maintained, it is a book of poetry.
I pretended I didn't know what they were talking about.  Today I look back and I have to say that moment in my life was in fact a fantastic moment of truth.  The Bible is indeed a book of poetry!  Poetry is beautiful.  It may not always be scientific, but art reflects science, and poetry is art.
Now back to my modern clergy relative.  I suggested to him in our conversation that our 20th Century phenomenon of full-gospel evangelical Christianity will produce some of the world's greatest scientists.
Strangely, he did not denounce me for my position.  We had been discussing evolution, and I made it perfectly clear that I believe in evolution.
            "It has taken God about 15 billion years to create our universe as we know it today," I said.  "Even so, He didn't create it out of nothing.  He created it out of the ashes of a previous universe."  To my pleasant surprise my clergy friend asked me the most beautiful (and I believe honest) question.  "Is evolution creation?"  My answer was simple and straightforward, "Yes, it is.”