Your approach to religious history is so nakedly
materialist. For instance, you claim the Apostle Paul was a kind of
marketing guru who dropped the more demanding requirements of Judaism,
like circumcision and dietary restrictions, to attract more followers.
Do the math. How many Christians are there today and how many Jews are there? If his goal was to gain a large following, he seems to have made the right tactical decision there.
Do you have to make Christianity sound like a pre-electronic Facebook?
Institutions thrive when they can serve the interest of a bunch of people, and there’s no reason to think the church is different. None of this is to say Paul didn’t feel divinely inspired.
Well, I wind up arguing that the drift of history, however materially driven, has enough moral direction to suggest that there’s some larger purpose at work, and I guess you can call that transcendence.
Were you a churchgoer as a child?
Southern Baptists don’t fool around. At age 8 or 9, I chose to go to the front of the church in response to the altar call and accepted Jesus as my savior.
I think it was roughly sophomore year in high school. I encountered the theory of evolution, and my parents were creationists. There was a clash. They brought a Baptist minister over to the house to try to convince me that evolution hadn’t happened. He was not entirely successful, I would say.
That sure sounds familiar. The particular fundamentalist Bible chapel I was raised in didn't really do "altar calls," but I was part of several at summer Bible camp and other outings. (Even as a 12-year-old I thought they were emotionally manipulative and I did my best to avoid participation.) I also watched several anti-evolution videos in high school and heard plenty of anti-evolution talks/sermons. I eventually rejected "Creationism" (that is, the notion that God created the earth 6,000 years ago because the Bible "says so")—and became Catholic. Because, in the end, being a materialist with a vague, Hegelian-lite notion of transcendence isn't satisfying or convincing on any level or in any way. Still, although Wright might not be entirely right, I kind of like his sense of humor.