One of the potentially largest implications of religion is that of salvation and the afterlife. Such a belief gives light and hope to many people – as well as inhuman hate for others, given the idea of hell. The requisites for these categories of afterlives are a bit vague, to put it mildly, but we can assume for the sake of the argument against Christianity that they depend on the belief that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were necessary and sufficient in God’s plan to try and save humanity.
But, exactly what did Jesus accomplish by dying on a tree? Is death on a stick really the ultimate act that will save us all? If anybody else died on a tree, nothing like that would happen. If Christ died in a different way, say, of natural death after everyone had accepted him, what would have happened? How does his method of dying magically save us? Why did he have to die? To suffer? The whole idea seems absurd, especially when it is given next to no explanation whatsoever by religious authorities. So what I’ll do is, I’ll assume it’s true, then try and create my best explanations for it, and finally dismantle those.
Here’s God’s conundrum, pre-Christ time. Humans were in a bad way, and God doesn’t like that. So he wants to send humans a message. He wants to tell us about himself a little more, and what he has in store for us. So he sends a messenger. The messenger is in human form because he wants to connect with them better and show that even the flesh can be strong for God. It is our fault that we didn’t believe him, and eventually crucified him. So in a way, God was sacrificing his own son to us, for us. And he was sacrificing his son, not so that we’d directly be given salvation, but indirectly so that we would know of it and be able to make a freely chosen decision on the matter.
That’s my best made-up explanation. There are nevertheless huge problems in it.
One thing we find is that God is a distant god. Instead of directly telling us his message, writing his thoughts in our minds and in our hearts, he sends a messenger to one small region of the world, and only for the span of that man’s life is he here to talk. Why would God limit his method of communication to the ways of humans? This communication is too damn important for such unreliable means! Now the rest of humanity cannot tell if his message is legit, and the fault is entirely with him. God’s method of reaching out to the masses is indistinguishable from that of cults and other religions: people tell, or indoctrinate, other people. If you can find me a person who has converted to Christianity before ever hearing about the religion, then I’ll be surprised.