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What’s The Difference Between Jedi and Christians?

While atheism is a label used to define what I don’t believe, I sometimes talk about my beliefs in Humanism and Star Wars. In fact, I take my Star Wars very seriously (you can ask my wife). With that in mind, an old college friend recently asked me the following question: How are those that believe in the teachings of Christ different from those who believe in the teachings of the Jedi?

I think this is fair question and it also illustrates an important point. For starters, even though I consider myself a Jedi, I am aware that Star Wars is fiction. While on the other hand, pretty much all the Christians in the world seem completely unaware that their source material is fiction despite the fact that it is much more fanciful than Star Wars and full of plot holes.

Although Star Wars is fictional, the films (all six of them) are filled with lessons in morality, politics, and life. They also act as a metaphorical guide to life and teach us about deep connection to other people and the universe around us. The lessons from Star Wars are in a very real sense religious despite the fact that it is completely fictional (like all religions).

The Bible on the other hand may contain some very important lessons for life, but for every positive moral lesson one can find there are about a dozen examples of extremely negative lessons given to us by the central character, God/Jesus. In fact, the idea of faith is itself one of the most destructive concepts in the history of humankind. No one should ever be compelled to believe anything on insufficient reason.

Star Wars is better on every level. It is more compact, teaches better morality, better life lessons, more complex characters, more entertaining, less plot holes, and is honest about being a fictional story. Those who believe in the Bible actually believe that the narrative is real when it is obvious fiction… poorly written fiction at that. Plus, Star Wars teaches that slavery is wrong and women can be strong leaders and kick some ass just like men. The Bible on the other hand teaches that slavery is at best okay and at worst that slavery is really good. The Bible also teaches that women are the property of men and they should never be in a position of leadership over a man. I’ll take my half naked Princess Leia in the gold bikini over that any day. ;-)

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  • http://shaunphilly.wordpress.com ShaunPhilly

    I was listening to Dr. Robert Price talk about his Christian atheism recently. He knows its all fiction, and the church community in which he does his churchy thing does not seem to mind this. He likes the liturgy, some of the stories, and the community while seeing it as fiction, much like how you see Star Wars. In some sense, this is like people who prefer Star Trek to Star Wars, Batman to Superman, etc. Dr. Price really likes Christian mythology, and you like Jedi mythology. If we get to the point where these preferences are socially equivalent, then our work is done.

    Still, I think Christian mythologyis pretty lacking. I prefer Superman.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    First, we should acknowledge that Price is one of an extremely very few Christians who acknowledge this. To put it in perspective, there are probably more Harold Camping follows with the first name of Steve than there are Christians who acknowledge that the Bible is fiction.

    Second, even if we take Price’s view as the norm (which is obviously isn’t), it still would not merely amount to personal preference. Preference may account for the entertainment value difference, but not the moral value or the quality and quantity of the life lessons. As I pointed out, for every positive biblical lesson there are about a dozen negative biblical lessons.

    I’ll give you the Star Wars/Star Trek distinction a little bit of a pass since both at least have positive moral and social lessons. However, Star Wars is far more dense and deals more with our deep connection to each other and the universe. Star Trek deal much more with contemporary issues and of course has a greater library of material. So Star Wars vs. Star Trek might at least be a debatable issue, but Christianity is out classed in virtually every aspect.

  • Jason

    I think you did a thoughtful job answering my question, because it gives rise to additional questions. I wonder in actuality what proportion of those who embrace the teachings of Christ actually do question the authority of those who claim to speak for god in writing the bible. The fundamentalists, who claim a monopoly on the interpretation of the bible would never dare question the bible’s authenticity. I would say a great many of us are as silent in our questioning of the “The Truth” as we are in our practice of what we embrace as truth from these texts. The truth vs. fiction debate is less important to me than being an authentic human in the eyes of my maker and practicing what is right and what makes this world a better place based on my personal interpretation of scripture. The spirit does not inhabit rigid and legalistic adherence to doctrine.

    As far as faith is concerned, I agree it is most dangerous when it is blind. While reason is what enables us to understand what we can see, faith is what enables us to grasp/go with the mystery of things, but only when paired with compassion and acceptance of what “is”. Whenever I’ve struggled with the myriad of incongruities I’ve experienced my reading of the bible, I’ve erred on the side of love for my fellow humans, which I have faith Jesus would have done…regardless of whether he really existed.

  • Jason

    PS: I am a Trekkie and I challenge that the depth and breadth of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision more than rivals Star Wars in terms of the quality, relevance, and timelessness of its lessons about the human spirit and our great capacities for both creativity and destructiveness.

  • kirk

    A theology of Christianity and a theology of Star Wars share a common characteristic – most practitioners of these theologies reflect on the lack of available evidence and admit that not only is there no evidence in support of either position but that they both admit that they are talking about the opposite of reality.

    Religion stands opposed to the notion that talking about god is talking about nothing. Religion rejects theology which has some provisional knowledge about the world (i.e. there is nothing it can say about the world)

    The next statement about god is not true
    The previous statement about theology is not true.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    Kirk, I don’t think Christianity and Star Wars share that common characteristic. As I stated in the blog entry, Star Wars is fiction. I think aside from Dr. Price, you would be hard pressed to find a Christian who will admit that God is fiction.

  • Jason

    On the other hand, while I would agree that Star Wars is a work of fiction, the deeper message points to something that is real…something that transcends or drills down deeper than the truth vs. fiction debate. The same might be said for any number of passages within the bible. Whether we label it as “God” or “The Force”, this “je ne sais quoi” is at the very least a real concept with deep symbolic meaning from a social, symbolic, and phenomenological standpoint. Granted, I think the Christian establishment misses the mark when it argues in favor of a literal interpretation, I think we miss the deeper meaning when we fail to see comparison between Christianity and Jedi (and all mystical belief systems for that matter).

  • Jason

    But I do concede that the original question was “what is the difference?”.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    I think the problem I have Jason is that while there are some aspects of the Bible that have a real message that transcends the fiction, a very large aspect of Christianity is tied to that narrative. In fact, the essence of Christianity is dependent on some of the more fanciful aspects. God can’t merely be a fictional character and Jesus can’t merely be a symbolic sacrifice. Those are necessary components of the religion.

  • Jason

    Can Christianity as a religion exist without consideration of whether the bible is truth vs. fiction? The problem is that despite convincing evidence, you will never prove anything to anyone that which they are unwilling to believe. Ultimately, it seems we will never settle the argument of whether the bible is truth; we can only concede THAT the bible is believed to be true by many (which is indeed a key difference between believers of Christianity and Jedi, as you suggest). But I wonder if it is so necessarily black and white, the truth vs. fiction debate. The debate over what is REAL (objective vs. subjective or perception vs. consensus reality) tends to yield more to the gray areas.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    You are suggesting that this comes down to a question of how we know stuff. While I think there may be something to that, I also think that the question is more just window dressing.

    We all believe in an objective reality. If we didn’t our actions would reveal that pretty quickly. We treat others as if they are people in and of themselves and not just as figments subjective to ourselves.

    Once we admit that there is an objective world, it just becomes a question of whether the Bible accurately matches up with that reality. The answer to that question is obviously NO. Now many Christians are aware of this and have tried to come up with all kinds of ways to get around the fact that the Bible does not accurately match up to the objective reality that we thus far explored.

    This is where most Christians talk about “metaphorical” meaning which were never intended to be metaphorical at all. This is where we get Christians trying to explain away inconsistencies by throwing around the old “context” argument. This is where we get into apologetics and biblical scholarship. But the bottom line here is that the Bible does not match up with objective reality. It is fiction! Star Wars is also fiction, but that is a fact that is not disputed by Jedi. However, I think you would be hard pressed to find a Christian who wouldn’t dispute the claim that the Bible is fictional.

    The Christian system is dependent on the belief that the Bible is fact and not fictional. God isn’t just a metaphor for our deep connection to the universe under the Christian belief system. God is alleged to be a real being. That’s a problem.

  • Jason

    We now get into what it means to be a Christian (as a member of the religious establishment and follower of its tenets). I agree that we see, by and large, a group of people that believe in a doctrine based on faith, and will use that faith to justify their own “science”.

    What does it mean to be a free-thinking human being who questions what he or she is told, recognizes there is no proof for the existence of Jesus, but doesn’t care about that and would instead focus on the messages that speaks to his or her heart. Maybe that person distances himself from the establishment, has disdain for the term “Christian” (which is not found in any scriptures), but still follows the teachings of self-sacrifice, good will, and compassion. It’s very east to throw the baby out with the bathwater by rejecting solid, moral teachings simply because the establishment falsified records and twisted the truth to gain control over the masses. But alas, I digress… Is it fiction? Perhaps, science might say so, but I wasn’t there, so I won’t speculate. Anyway, who’s to say you don’t have mitichlorians in your bloodstream, Staks?

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    I might have mitichlorians in my bloodstream. You can’t prove that I don’t. However, there is also no evidence that I do. If I were to believe all the things that there are possible but that there is no evidence against, I would believe a lot of bullshit.

  • Jason

    My mistake, the word “Christian” does appear, but only as a word used by the Romans; the original disciples never described themselves as such. Since then, the term that once meant “follower of Christ” has come to mean followers of a religion, which was probably never the intention of Christ. I’m sure he would be rolling in his grave if he knew what his supposed followers were doing in his name.

  • Jason

    Agreed, Staks the term “belief” itself is slippery (take note of the 3 letters contained within the word). You either know something or you don’t. Otherwise, it is speculation either worthy of further study, or a waste of time.

    In the end, things have a way of balancing themselves out; whether nature brings about the extinction of our species or the heavenly father casts hail and brimstone about the earth, we will reap what we sow.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    Jason, you are assuming that the fictional character was real and that we know anything about him even if he was real. There are no contemporary accounts of Jesus. Not a single one, as in zero, as in zip.

    Christianity was never a singular belief system. Right from the beginning people who called themselves Christians had radically different ideas of what that meant. Some didn’t even believe Jesus was a real person, but was simply a divine spirit. Many didn’t believe in a literal crucifixion. The concept of the Trinity didn’t come about until 300 CE. Over the last 2000 years, the Bible has been altered and miss-copied thousands of times and we don’t have the original. Many of the books written by other Christians which didn’t agree with our current cannon were destroyed. We have found some of them and they are pretty interesting. But even with all of that, it is all still fiction. We can take meaning out of fiction as I do with Star Wars, but we have to at least acknowledge that it isn’t real.

    Also, I think Star Wars is way better than the Bible on pretty much every level.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    Well, I am hoping humans will survive. However, I do see religion to be an obstacle to our continued survival and that is why I criticize religion so much. It is a threat to human happiness, human progress, and human survival.

  • Jason

    I too would like to see the creativity of humanity thrive. That would bring us closer to the concept of “heaven on earth”, but that is largely up to us and our willingness to apply truthful teachings to our personal and social lives, to adopt a culture of human advancement, and to open our political process ro the marketplace of innovative ideas.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    On that we agree!

  • Mriana

    I take my humanism and Star Trek very seriously. lol In fact, I take them so seriously I often mix the two, but then again, Gene Roddenberry threw in some humanism too. Just shows how we can be creative about it all.