He didn’t mention bacteria, pasteurization, or the importance of dental hygiene. He didn’t explain lightning, the tides, the sun, our position in the solar system, the galaxy, gravity, the composition of the atmosphere, or dispense the formula for sun block. He didn’t point anyone in the direction of morphine, teach a soul about the nature of asthma, epilepsy, atoms, genetics, subatomic particles, the periodic table, volcanology, the causes of headaches, muscle cramps, prenatal care, plate tectonics, architecture, evolution, or tell a single living being about the science of corrective-optics. He didn’t mention anything about better, faster, safer forms of transportation, communication technology, math, the metric system, a new swimming technique, scuba diving, blast furnaces, magnetic compasses, quartz watches, wind turbines, the wonders of reinforced concrete, ball bearings, immunization, New Zealand, the physics of flight, thermal dynamics, podiatry, water purification, desalination, stainless steel, umbrellas, telescopes, microscopes, macroeconomics, paper, washing machines, tupperware, bicycles, bras, buttons, refrigeration, or even introduce a single new spice to spruce up otherwise bland Judean recipes.
As an imp branded, raised and schooled in the Catholic Church this simply didn’t add up. Forget for one moment the patently ludicrous stories and fantastically unsavoury life coaching tips rolled up in the Old Testament, the simple fact that the New Testament – the supposed record of God on earth – made no mention of the link between mosquito’s and malaria, radio telescopes, representative democracy, or even electricity was preposterous to my curious little head. In all honesty when I first looked at the story with a mildly studious and independent eye I found it to be an astonishingly selfish tale, especially in light of the world in which this Jesus fellow apparently lived. Flushable toilets, a technology based on gravity alone, would have saved thousands of lives lost to dysentery and cholera in the time of his alleged ministry and tens of millions in the two millennia since.
Granted, Jesus hasn’t been alone in this un-ignorable delinquency. Sages of all religions have all come up woefully short in presenting anything even approaching the useful, let alone the practical. Roll them all together in a single noisy ball of seething religious fervour and you won’t find a solitary constructive word about weather stations, a global language like Esperanto, or even the wonders of vulcanized rubber; a certain showstopper in the age of sandals. Few of these sages however actually claimed to be god so on the face of it they get a pass. Jesus? Not so lucky I’m afraid. Here was the self-proclaimed son of god, the right hand man to the fashioner of atoms, the sculpture of life and nebular, the kickass be-all and end-all Uncreated Creator who couldn’t even present his mother the first earthly egg timer.
It’s a little pathetic. Three year ministry and not a single helpful titbit was offered up by this Middle Eastern demigod as he moved about on his purported sojourn on the earthy plateau; a journey we’re told that was rather oddly limited to about 90km2 on a 508,000,000km2 planet and which somehow miraculously missed all political, philosophical, and scientific hotbeds of the day. Not to labour the point, but placed side by side in a sort of blind taste off few rationally minded mortals could in fact disagree that there was and still is more useful information contained in the late Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech of 2005, J.K. Rowling’s marvellous 2008 Harvard address, or Bono’s incalculably practical advice discharged to University of Pennsylvania students in 2004 than in all books of the New and Old Testaments combined.
Now there is of course a reason why neither Jesus nor indeed any of the characters in the books of the New or Old Testaments mentioned anything even approaching the moderately functional. It’s the same reason why the authors of the works failed to note that an average sized adult is a composite of some 7, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 flavoured atoms arranged on a 4.54 billion year old planet circling a middle-aged 4th or 5th generation star on its 23rd trip around the centre of a galaxy composed of about 200 billion stars in a 13.7 billion year old universe peppered with hundreds of billions of galaxies glued together in super clusters along expanding tendrils held in-place by the indirectly observed but otherwise still utterly mysterious dark matter. That reason, to put it politely, is that the authors of the Bible and the rather dubious characters contained within were not speaking from a position of observed strength. To put it not so politely, the Bible is utter nonsense; a regularly and predictably absurd work of fiction which D. L. Foster noted as missing only the words “Once upon a time” and, “Happily ever after.”