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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Christianity under fire

    Janne Peronacolumnist
    Janne Perona
    columnist

    Just in time for Easter, Christianity is under attack. Besides the fact our most important holiday is reduced to a fluffy bunny and chocolate eggs, some of the most basic beliefs of Christians – that Judas betrayed Jesus, that Jesus walked on water and that prayer has healing power – are being called into question.

    The most prevalent assault comes from the recently publicized “”Gospel of Judas.”” Discovered in the 1970s and carbon-dated here at the UA, the 1,700-year-old manuscript paints a very different picture of Judas from that in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In fact, it outright contradicts them.

    The Gospel contradicts several ideas present in the Bible as well as other secular histories of the time. The first is that Jesus asked Judas to betray him so that he could die an earthly death. The idea that Jesus would need Judas’ help is contradictory to the long-held belief that Jesus was simultaneously 100 percent man and God. Secondly, the alleged Gospel makes no mention of Judas buying a field with his silver and killing himself, as is mentioned in the Bible.

    While there is no question that the document itself is real, only a handful of Biblical scholars believe that it could truly challenge the accounts in the original four Gospels.

    Also, the very fact that only one manuscript was found, and in Egypt rather than in the areas in and around Jerusalem, makes it less credible than the thousands of identical manuscripts of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John found in the Christian New Testament.

    While National Geographic was displaying its newfound “”Gospel,”” scientists were studying two other issues in Christianity, each attempting to chip away at its core.

    In this month’s issue of the Journal of Paleolimnology (the study of the physical properties of freshwater lakes in prehistoric times), a study suggests that Jesus did not walk on liquid water but rather on a patch of ice in the Sea of Galilee.

    According to the scientist conducting the study, it happens every couple hundred years that climate changes in the Middle East cause patches of ice to form in present-day Lake Kenneret, where Jesus’ miracle occurred.

    While possible, it is extremely improbable. Peter, who was standing beside Jesus, would have had to not notice the ice, and he and his brothers would have had to take their boat out into the ice, an unlikely event for a family of experienced fishermen. Also, Jesus would have had to be lucky enough to step onto a patch of ice able to sustain the weight of a man and long enough for him to walk several feet out and back again.

    When examined critically, the idea just doesn’t hold up.

    The second study on the healing power of prayer, published in the American Heart Journal on March 30, stipulates that prayer not only does not help in healing the sick, but that it can actually be detrimental to patients.

    The study included nearly 2,000 patients at six different medical centers across the country following bypass surgery. The scientists divided patients into two groups. They told people in both groups that they may or may not pray for them. Then they prayed for only one of the two groups. According to the findings, the group who got prayer actually had worse health after the study than the group without it.

    These scientists must have run out of ideas, relying on old ideas done numerous times. One cannot study the power of prayer. Not only does the study fail to include contingencies for the possibility that friends and family outside of the study might have prayed, but many would claim that prayer must be heart-felt. A generic prayer given in the name of science would have little to no effect.

    Faith is a matter of the heart, not of the head. The average person does not understand the mathematical and physical equations behind gravity, nor taste, feel or see it. However, each of us has faith that it exists because we feel the effects of it. Similarly, Christians feel the effects of Christ, and thus have faith in him.

    This is not to say that Christianity cannot be challenged; in fact, most Christians would welcome questions and even challenges. The issue is that faith cannot be proven – or disproven.

    With Easter this Sunday, the attacks are timely. But rather than blindly taking them as fact that Christianity is wrong, maybe we should investigate the claims behind them. Plenty of Christian groups on campus will be out on the UA Mall. Stop by, strike up a conversation and see what you can learn. You just might find more than a gimmick.

    Janne Perona is a criminal justice administration sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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