Fundamentalist Christians hold the Holy Bible to be the word of God, and hence every word of it to be the literal truth.
Fundamentalist atheists hold the Holy Bible to be based on nothing more than a collection of myths. In particular, they hold that the story about Jesus — including the new star in the East that heralded his birth, his delivery in a stable, the hay-filled manger in which as a new-born infant he was laid, his ministry in the company of twelve disciples, his death, his resurrection and his ascent unto Heaven — is taken virtually in its entirety from accounts of the lives of earlier religious figures including the Egyptian gods, Osiris and Horus, the Zoroastrian divinity, Mithras, and the Hindu deity, Krishna. In addition, they point to the inconsistencies in the gospel accounts of Jesus's life and teachings. On such grounds they reject Christianity as a false religion.
But if Christian fundamentalists are mistaken in taking the Bible to represent the literal truth, there is something at least as foolish about those who reject Christianity because the Bible account of the life of Jesus is not the literal truth.
Both the Christian fundamentalists and their atheist detractors miss the point: that the purpose of a religious community is not the same as that of a historical society. Rather, the institutions of religion exist to define and uphold a code of conduct consistent with a good society. Holy scripture is not a work of scholarship, but a narrative to live by. That many religions beside Christianity adopted much the same narrative and essentially the same moral code, suggests that all of them, Christianity included, were on the right track.
If the story about Jesus is understood as a narrative to live by, it makes perfect sense. That God, in the image of a man, dwelt among us, to tell us of his love for us and for all his creation, provides a powerful antidote to the fear and confusion that besets every soul on its earthly journey to the grave.
That God came among us under the humblest circumstances, a mewling babe born in a stable and laid in a manger, confirms the worth of every human, and refutes for all time the arrogance of wealth and power.
That God set foot on earth to teach men how to treat one another, and how to pray to God for help and guidance, means that every person is free to address their creator, thereby finding comfort, forgiveness of sins, and guidance, both moral and practical.
That God, in the form of a man, suffered humiliation and death for the benefit of humanity provides the ultimate example of morality, the sacrifice of self for the good of others.
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