A Christian, a Buddhist and an Atheist walk into a bar. They give their order to the bartender, who serves them and asks who’s paying. The Buddhist shrugs apologetically and says, “I gave everything I had to a homeless man on the street I passed on my way here.” The Christian also looks rather sheepish, confessing, “I gave everything I had to the Church orphanage fund.” The Atheist mutters in disgust as he reaches for his wallet, “Looks like it’s me again.”
But seriously, folks, if you listen to various theists talk about God, it’s hard to believe they are talking about the same entity. In fact, they can’t possibly. The jealous, insecure, violent and vengeful entity who hides fossils in rocks to test his followers’ faith, who has prepared eternal torment for anybody who gets his contradictory and confusing rules wrong, and will miraculously help us to find our car keys while refusing to protect us from the rapist lurking around the corner, seems to have more in common with many people’s idea of Satan than with any kind of being worth worshiping. On the other hand, there’s the mystical force that lies beneath the appearance of things, that created and sustains the universe, sometimes called Love and sometimes characterized as the sum of all the laws of science. Hard to believe this entity would give a damn who you sleep with or in fact care at all about being worshiped.
What emerges from this monotheistic pantheon is the inescapable conclusion that an individual’s conception of God tells one far more about the individual than it does about God. And some Christians have more in common with some Buddhists than they do with other Christians.