Of course, I just wanted to give you a feel for how Christians look at that specific issue. It’s a bit hard because it’s multiple ideas that get wrapped together (sin, nature of God, etc). If I just look at atonement theories isolated from the rest of Christian belief they would seem kinda nutty. But there’s quite a bit more to Christian theology that make atonement more coherent and rational. I don’t expect that to make it less silly to you.
This is a very good and deep question @Patrick, I’m sure I’m not able to answer it completely.
I’ve often wondered, if I lived in a different part of the country (say more southernly) and in a different time (say mid 1800’s), would I have a different view of people who don’t look like me? It’s repulsive to read about some of the things that happened in that time and place, but how would I know that I’d be different? Are my ethics, morality, and values a product of my time and place? To some extent, I’m sure they must be, we are often shaped by our experience and the world we live in.
I think your point maybe is that Christians might be stuck in two-millennia old ethics. I think that can be a danger if we aren’t careful with interpretation and study. I’ve seen people find a verse to justify near anything, that doesn’t mean it’s right. On the other hand, from what I’ve read of history, people are people and we tend to do the same dumb things. Oppression, slavery, injustice, selfishness, these things may look a little different on the surface from generation to generation, but I think they underneath the have a lot of the same root causes. I think that’s why the Bible is so timeless. It can tell us about who we are, about why the world is the way it is, and it can give hope that maybe it doesn’t always have to be that way. I know everybody doesn’t see it that way, but I think that’s a bit of the Christian story. Other’s may chime in, I certainly don’t have it all worked out.
Thank you for having reasonable expectations. I agree that I don’t see a way to make it less silly.