Yes, John has the most developed christology out of the gospels, which is all about Jesus being a sign of the transcendent God. But the Son of God could be interpreted in Eastern or perennial terms even without John’s gnostic overlay. The miracles of the miracle-working healer could be taken as symbols of the power of our divine inner reality: only those who’ve pierced the veil and identified wholly with their deepest self could “perform” this magic, because they’ve escaped the fallen world of illusions, governed by archons or karma, ignorance, maya, and so on.

But this is what I thought we might debate/discuss (in a way I could present on my blog, rather than just scattered in comment sections): what it means to be godlike or the difference between the traditional conception of enlightenment and moksha, and my naturalistic, secular reconstruction. I understand you’ll say the secular, egoistic view is misguided, but the traditionalist has to contend with modern philosophy and the rise of scientific understanding. Again, see my dialogue between Sade and the Buddha for one line of argument.

Doubting Thomas was a character meant to edify the later, literate readers of the gospels, not Jesus’ disciples. But even that story belittles skepticism, as in John 20:29, ‘Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”’ Thus, the lesson is for the later Christians who no longer have sufficient evidence to justify belief in Jesus, and the idea is that their blind faith is more praiseworthy than the disciples’ beliefs that would have been based on sufficient evidence to be rational.

This is hardly an endorsement of skepticism; on the contrary, the point is that Christians should be content with blind faith, whereas the skeptic appreciates the tragic consequences of the passage of time: what may be justified one moment, because of direct experience, can become foolish the next as circumstances change.

If the standards of skepticism were the same, between modern philosophy and ancient Christianity, the lesson of the doubting Thomas story would have been that later Christians should be agnostic or skeptical about Jesus’s divine status, because the evidence has been lost and belief in the Christian creed is no longer rationally justified. Of course, if Christians thought that way, the Christian religion would have ended long ago. Thus, we can know the epistemic standards were very different, because Christianity still exists two thousand years after the adequate evidence would have been lost.

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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