The idea that religion and science are incompatible seems to have taken root fairly firmly – amongst the non-religious, that is. But I suspect that the main problem that modern minds have with Christianity is not any supposed contradiction between religion and science (most Christians don’t have a problem with modern science) but that Christian beliefs don’t appear to be ‘logical’ in a rational, scientific sense. Jesus’ teaching is full of paradoxes. For example:
“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” ”Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it.” “The last will be first and the first will be last.” “Love your enemies.”
It doesn’t make sense. It’s counter-intuitive. It isn’t what anyone would expect – or work out for themselves. And the same goes for what Christians believe aboutJesus: that he was God Himself incarnated as a human being. By what logic would an almighty Being choose to become a half-educated peasant, live in poverty and obscurity, and then endure an undeserved and shameful execution?
There’s no getting away from it: Christianity seems to be illogical. It certainly doesn’t fit into the prevailing worldview. And it never has done. “We preach Christ crucified,” wrote the apostle Paul, “a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” For the fundamental tenet of Christianity, running against all (or almost all) other religious systems, is this: getting to Paradise has nothing to do with keeping certain rules or living a good life, but is rather a matter of admitting that you can’t achieve it on your own – that you can never be good enough.