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Jesus: Just One More Dying and Rising Savior

It’s a week after Easter, so here is one final post on the theme of resurrection.

History records many dying-and-rising saviors. Examples from the Ancient Near East that preceded the Jesus story include Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, and Baal. Here is a brief introduction.

Tammuz was the Sumerian god of food and vegetation and dates from c. 2000 BCE. His death was celebrated every spring. One version of the story has him living in the underworld for six months each year, alternating with his sister.

Osirus was killed by his brother Set and cut into many pieces and scattered. His wife Isis gathered the pieces together, and he was reincarnated as the Egyptian god of the underworld and judge of the dead. He was worshipped well before 2000 BCE.

Dionysus (known as Bacchus in Roman mythology) was the Greek god of wine and dates to the 1200s BCE. The son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Dionysus was killed and then brought back to life.

Adonis (from 600 BCE) is a Greek god who was killed and then returned to life by Zeus.

Attis (from 1200 BCE) is a vegetation god from central Asia Minor, brought back to life by his lover Cybele.

In Canaanite religion, Baal (Baʿal) was part of a cycle of life and death. Baal and Mot are sons of the supreme god El (yes, one of the names of the Jewish god). When El favored the death god Mot over Baal, the heat of the summer took over and Baal died. He was resurrected when his sister-wife kills Mot.

All these gods:

  • came from regions that were close enough to the crossroads of Israel (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Asia Minor) for the ideas to have plausibly made it there,
  • were worshipped well before the time of Jesus, and
  • were of the dying-and-rising sort.

This is strong evidence that the gospel writers knew of (and could have been influenced by) resurrecting god stories from other cultures.

Is it possible that Judea at this time was a backwater, and the people were unaware of the ideas from the wider world? That seems unlikely. The book of 2 Maccabees, written in c. 124 BCE, laments at how Hellenized the country was becoming. It says that the new high priest installed by Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes “at once shifted his countrymen over to the Greek way of life.” He “introduced new customs contrary to the Law” and “induced the noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat.” The book complains about “an extreme of Hellenization and increase in the adoption of foreign ways” and the youth “putting the highest value upon Greek forms of prestige.”

In fact, the gospels themselves report that the idea of dying and rising again was a familiar concept. Jesus in the early days of his ministry was thought to be a risen prophet.

King Herod heard of [the ministry of Jesus], for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!” (Mark 6:14–16)

One Christian website does a thorough job attacking poorly evidenced parallels between Jesus and these prior gods. For example, was Dionysus really born to a virgin on December 25? Did Mithras really have 12 disciples? Was Krishna’s birth heralded by a star in the east? The author offers $1000 to anyone who can prove that any of these gods’ lists of parallels are actually true.

I’ll agree that there are strained parallels. One early work that has been criticized for too many claims and too little evidence is The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Kersey Graves (1875). The recent “Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ” by Acharya S also seems to be reaching, in my opinion.

I don’t have the expertise to weigh in on these many issues, so let’s grant the complaints and dismiss the many unsupportable specific parallels. What’s left is what really matters: that the Jesus story arose in a culture suffused with the idea of dying and rising saviors.

Apologists raise other objections.

Many of these gods actually came after Jesus. That’s why the list above only includes dying-and-rising gods who are well-known to have preceded Jesus. There are many more such gods—Mithras, Horus, Krishna, Persephone, and others—that don’t seem to fit as well. In fact, Wikipedia lists life-death-rebirth deities from twenty religions worldwide, but I’ve tried to list above the six most relevant examples.

But Jesus really existed! He’s a figure from history, unlike those other gods. Strip away any supernatural claims from the story of Alexander the Great, and you’ve still got cities throughout Asia named Alexandria and coins with Alexander’s likeness. Strip away any supernatural claims from the Caesar Augustus story, and you’re left with the Caesar Augustus from history. But strip away the supernatural claims from the Jesus story, and you’re left with a fairly ordinary rabbi. The Jesus story is nothing but the supernatural elements.

Most of those gods were used to explain the cycles of the seasons. Jesus isn’t like them. Christianity is different from all the other religions, just like any religion. If Christianity weren’t different from one of the earlier religions, you’d call it by the name of that religion.

In another post I explore the Dionysus myth more fully to show the parallels with the Jesus story. That post also notes how Justin Martyr (100–165 CE) not only admitted to the similarities but argued that the devil put them in history to fool us.

Okay, they’re all myths, but the Jesus story is true myth. This was the approach of C.S. Lewis, who said, “The story of Christ is simply a true myth; a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference, that it really happened, and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s Myth where the others are men’s myths.”

So you admit that the Jesus story indeed has many characteristics of mythology but demand that I just trust you that it’s true? Sorry, I need more evidence than that.

And the throw-in-the-towel argument:

Just because Christianity developed in a culture that knew of other resurrecting gods doesn’t mean that Jesus wasn’t the real thing. Granted. But “you haven’t proven the gospel story false” isn’t much of an argument. Those who seek the truth know that proof is impossible and try instead to find where the evidence points.

And here’s where the evidence doesn’t point: that humans worldwide invent dying-and-rising saviors (except in the Jesus case, ’cause that one was real!).

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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About Bob Seidensticker
  • avalon
    • Bob Seidensticker

      Helpful, thanks!

  • Retro

    Interesting, I’ve not heard of it before.

    Here’s the link to the Wiki article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel's_Revelation

  • Bob Calvan

    Retro,

    Also on pages 350 and 351 on Gleason Archer’s book on Bible difficulties he explains the whole “Touching” Jesus issue. Will you believe it? Not unless God opens your heart to see the truth.

    As I have told you think the cross of Christ is “foolishness” As we are told in 1 Cor 1:18. And as I have told you your problem is you are a child of wrath. You know God but reject Him in unrighteousness. You need to repent of your sins, and stop judging the Creator. You need to ask God to forgive you and open your heart to His Glory.

    • Orbital Teapot

      To Bob C,

      ««« You need to repent of your sins, and stop judging the Creator. You need to ask God to forgive you and open your heart to His Glory. »»»

      Except that in your crazy theology, it’s God who would make him repent of his sins and who would make him ask for forgiveness. Sounds like God speaks to himself through human puppets. As a child of God, you still cannot make any contribution to that (at least not on your own).

      I’m glad Christianity is more than Calvinism! I really wish you could get over the latter and embrace liberal theology.

  • Pingback: The Problem With Religion || « God's Grace, ftw.

  • Bob Calvan

    Orbital Teapot.

    Not sure what you mean? Got any scriptures to present your view? Sola Scriptura. and Tota scriptura.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    I’d like for Bob to expand on this argument a bit. Since I won’t get Bob to do that, I’ll settle for Retro or anyone else really.

    Is Bob saying that logically speaking, the existence of other stories with points of commonality to the resurrection means that we must logically conclude that the resurrection is false?

    Is Bob saying that he simply finds the idea that the Resurrection was “influenced” by these other stories more plausible? If that’s the case, how was this “influence” brought about?

    Is Bob saying that the existence of these other stories counts as evidence “against” the resurrection? That the existence of false stories that have point in common with an account, means that we should believe (perhaps not logically but inductively) that the account in question is false?

    Right now, as far as I can see it, Bob is saying “These other stories exist therefore the Resurrection is false, and all theists are ridiculous for not following the evidence”.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    I’ve noticed nobody has stepped forth to clarify Bob’s argument. It sure seems like all he’s saying is “These other stories exist therefore the Resurrection is false, and all theists are ridiculous”.

    That’s where the evidence is point me at least. If Bob, or Retro wants to give me sufficient evidence to believe otherwise, they are more than welcome. Otherwise, I’ll continue to believe that at best, that’s all that Bob is saying.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      It sure seems like all he’s saying is “These other stories exist therefore the Resurrection is false, and all theists are ridiculous”.

      Yes to the first part; no to the second.

      Now show me how you concluded that the second part was part of the point of this post. Maybe I need to clarify my writing if an objective reader got that out of it.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Yes to the first part; no to the second.

    So you think that logically speaking, the existence of stories that are not true, that share elements in common with another story, renders that story false? Is that what you think?

    Now show me how you concluded that the second part was part of the point of this post. Maybe I need to clarify my writing if an objective reader got that out of it.

    Nah. I mean, I know you believe that theists are ridiculous, but it wasn’t in this post. I’ll admit that was a bit of an add on by me.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      So you think that logically speaking, the existence of stories that are not true, that share elements in common with another story, renders that story false?

      No.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        So you think that specifically with regards to the Resurrection, the existence of resurrection accounts renders the story of Jesus’ resurrection false?

        Or perhaps your argument isn’t logical, rather inductive. It’s just that the existence of resurrection accounts renders the resurrection of Jesus “implausible” or “unlikely to be true”?

        Or perhaps its not even that. What exactly is your argument Bob? You do have one, right?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          So you think that specifically with regards to the Resurrection, the existence of resurrection accounts renders the story of Jesus’ resurrection false?

          No.

          It’s just that the existence of resurrection accounts renders the resurrection of Jesus “implausible” or “unlikely to be true”?

          Yes.

          (Just bored today? Looking for companionship? I hope this helps, but I think the post was pretty self-explanatory. You seemed to get the message, despite all the imaginary effort and strain.)

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        As a reminder, I said:

        It sure seems like all he’s saying is “These other stories exist therefore the Resurrection is false, and all theists are ridiculous”.

        And you responded:

        Yes to the first part; no to the second.

        So you should then agree with the statement that: “These other stories exist therefore the Resurrection is false”

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Great.
    So just to make sure, we have that your argument is as follows:

    The existence of resurrection accounts renders the resurrection of Jesus “implausible” or “unlikely to be true”?

    Now, does this argument generalize? That is, are you arguing that every time we find stories that are false, that share common points with another story, that that other story is “implausible” or “unlikely to be true”?

    • TheRealRandomFunction

      Is it specifically with regards to the supernatural, that every time we find a supernatural account that has points in common with supernatural accounts we know are false, that the supernatural account in question is also false?

      Or is it just with this particular Resurrection account that you are making this argument?

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Still no answer. Guess its harder for Bob to specify what he’s actually arguing than I thought.

    Vague-ness is the friend of the skeptic.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      All skeptics are vague? I hadn’t noticed that. Good rule of thumb, thanks.

      “No answer” to what? You’re puzzling over the deep and hidden meaning in a blog post? I have nothing to add–it’s all there.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        I’m trying to get you to actually construct a full and complete argument. You certainly did not do that in your blog post.

        So far, we have that you’ve agreed to the following:

        The existence of resurrection accounts renders the resurrection of Jesus “implausible” or “unlikely to be true”

        What I don’t know is, if you are arguing from a general principle, or if for some reason you think this arguement only applies to the Resurrection of Jesus.

        If you can’t spell out your argument, all you’ve posted is a bunch of random facts, with no particular goal in mind but to confuse and obfuscate.

        If you actually want to make an intelligent argument from those facts, then let’s hear it. What, exactly, is your argument?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          all you’ve posted is a bunch of random facts, with no particular goal in mind but to confuse and obfuscate.

          I don’t think other readers were as baffled by the post as you were, but thanks for the input.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I don’t think other readers were as baffled by the post as you were, but thanks for the input.

          Well, let’s throw it out to other readers then. Since I apparently don’t get Bob’s obvious argument, and since he has gotten back up on his ivory tower and is unable to lower himself to answer me, perhaps someone else will have the mercy to enlighten me by answer my question with regards to Bob’s argument. To repeat, he agrees to the following:

          The existence of resurrection accounts renders the resurrection of Jesus “implausible” or “unlikely to be true”

          I don’t know if he thinks this is a general principle, or just a specific one. Anyone willing to help?

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Well, since nobody is stepping up to the plate, I guess its up to me, yet again. To give a high level critique of Bob’s non-argument:

    If Bob thinks that his argument applies generally, then the story of the Titan would render the account of the Titanic implausible or “unlikely to be true”. Of course, just because the Titan story was written, that has no effect or bearing on the truth of the Titanic account. One might also say that Romeo and Juliet renders all accounts of teenage suicides false. After all, they have some points in common.

    Now, if Bob maintains that his argument does not generalize, but only applies to the Resurrection, or only applies to supernatural accounts in general, well.. the burden of proof is on him to show that that’s the case. Of course, he will never rise to shoulder that burden, because he has no proof, or support, or evidence towards the idea that this argument only applies to supernatural accounts, resurrection accounts or to the resurrection in particular.

    All we have from Bob is a lot of random facts, and a lot of handwaving and rhetoric about how “plausible” it is that the resurrection authors were “influenced” (though he never specifies how they were influenced) by these other accounts. Or to be more blunt, we have a lot of random facts, and Bob’s subjective (meaningless) opinion. It’s great that Bob has opinions, but if he really does want to have an intelligent conversation on matters (which I severly doubt), he’ll need to provide more than meaningless facts, and useless opinions. Some intelligence and logic are required.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Well, since nobody is stepping up to the plate, I guess its up to me, yet again.

      And we appreciate all the work you do. Without you, who would effectively show Christian grace and love in action?

      If Bob thinks that his argument applies generally, then the story of the Titan would render the account of the Titanic implausible or “unlikely to be true”.

      So Titan/Titanic parallels Dionysius/Jesus? Let’s see how good your analogy is.

      Dionysius was the story of a dying-and-rising savior, and Jesus was the story of a dying and rising savior. Dionysius came first, and the Jesus story came from an environment where the Dionysius story (and those of other dying-and-rising saviors) was well known. We have better documentation of the Jesus story, but it’s pretty hard to go from supernatural story to history. Said another way, “The Jesus story is supernatural, just like [fill in other widely accepted supernatural story here].”

      The Titan was a fictional ship that sank, and the Titanic was an actual ship that sank. The Titan came first. Sure, we learn about the Titanic from books (like the Titan), but we have much, much more. Photographs of the Titanic being built. Survivor reports. Memorials to the dead. Videos of the wreckage from the bottom of the ocean. Nothing supernatural, so it’s pretty easy to accept.

      The prior dying-and-rising stories are relevant to the Jesus story; the Titan story is irrelevant to the Titanic. See the difference?

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        Dionysius was the story of a dying-and-rising savior, and Jesus was the story of a dying and rising savior.

        The Titan was the story of a ship that sank by hitting an iceberg, and the Titanic account, is the account of a ship sinking by hitting an iceberg.

        Also, how was dionysus a “savior” exactly?

        Dionysius came first, and the Jesus story came from an environment where the Dionysius story (and those of other dying-and-rising saviors) was well known.

        Same for the Titan and the Titanic. Even if we get rid of the Titan account, do you think people in the days of the Titanic had never heard a story of a sinking ship? After all, the only point of commonality you have Jesus and Dionysus, is they both died, and they both rose from the dead.

        The Titan and the Titanic have more in common than Jesus and Dionysus.

        The Titan was a fictional ship that sank, and the Titanic was an actual ship that sank

        Indeed. Your argument though, if it generalizes, would mean that the story of the Titan, since it is definitely fictional, would mean that the story of the Titanic is now rendered “implausible” or “unlikely to be believed”. You think your argument applies to the Resurrection, and not to the Titanic. Why? Because the Resurrection is supernatural, and to you, that’s enough.

        Photographs of the Titanic being built. Survivor reports. Memorials to the dead. Videos of the wreckage from the bottom of the ocean. Nothing supernatural, so it’s pretty easy to accept.

        Survivor reports? That’s just “eyewitness testimony” isn’t it? I thought you rejected eyewitness testimony as being unreliable. As for photographs and video, well I’m sorry that the photograph wasn’t available in Israel back then. If you standard for evidence is the existence of photographs and video though, you would need to logically reject well.. most of history really. We do have some written accounts of events from back then. You reject them because they were written to late. Of course, you’d accept non-supernatural accounts that were written 5 years after the events they described.. so again.. it really just comes down to the supernatural.

        What it comes down to is that you think they are different because one is “supernatural”, and one is not. That’s it.

        To a person with an open mind, that is no difference at all.

        See the difference?

        I see why you think there’s a difference. There isn’t.

        You agreed to:

        The existence of resurrection accounts renders the resurrection of Jesus “implausible” or “unlikely to be true”

        If this argument generalizes then we get:

        The existence of stories that are false, that share points in common with stories who’s truth value is under debate, renders the truth value of those debated stories unlikely or “implausible”.

        That’s the general form of your argument. Now, the account of the Titan is a fictional account, but it does share points in common with the Titanic account (many more points than your other resurrection stories share with the resurrection of Jesus). If your argument is valid, the only conclusion we can come to is that the account of the Titanic should then be deemend implausible, or unlikely to be true. You don’t do that. So your argument must not generalize.

        Also, let me point something else out. I tried, at the beginning of this thread to be absolutely certain I understood your argument. I got one word answers, evasion, and you getting on your high horse unwilling to talk to me. Hardly the “intellectual conversation” you say you want. It’s only when I’m my usual blunt, stubborn “uncivil” self, that I get anything meaningful out of you at all.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          The Titan was the story of a ship that sank by hitting an iceberg, and the Titanic account, is the account of a ship sinking by hitting an iceberg.

          Sure, they do look identical when you drop all the extra stuff on the Titanic side that I included.

          Also, how was dionysus a “savior” exactly?

          While I couldn’t find it in Wikipedia (for what that’s worth), you can find a lot of articles by searching “Dionysus ‘sin bearer’” such as a page from Shattering the Christ Myth.

          the story of the Titan, since it is definitely fictional, would mean that the story of the Titanic is now rendered “implausible” or “unlikely to be believed”.

          Nope. I listed many traits of the Titanic story that are not present with the Titan story. That’s the difference.

          Show me the same huge disparity with the Dionysus vs. Jesus distinction, and you’ve made a sale!

          That’s just “eyewitness testimony” isn’t it?

          Yeah. It’s a shame we don’t have that for the Jesus story.

          As for photographs and video, well I’m sorry that the photograph wasn’t available in Israel back then.

          What I hear you saying is, “Yeah, I know the evidence for the Jesus story is pretty paltry, but give me a break–it’s not like there was any way to record compelling evidence back then! So you’ll just have to accept paltry evidence because decent evidence is really hard.”

          Sorry–I’m holding out for compelling evidence.

          If you standard for evidence is the existence of photographs and video though, you would need to logically reject well.. most of history really.

          I have a different standard for “Battle X was fought in year Y” than “Sathya Sai Baba raised a man from the dead.” Sorry.

          To a person with an open mind, that is no difference at all.

          So “The First Battle of Bull Run was fought in 1861″ is no more startling than “A man was raised from the dead within the last few decades”? Golly–you “open minded” people sure think weird.

          Now, the account of the Titan is a fictional account

          Whoa–give it up! We’ve been over this! Titan/Titanic is a very poor comparison. The historical plausibility of the two is very different. The Titan story was a story. It might have had “a novel” on the cover. The Titanic was history–photographs, shipyards, passenger lists, wreck site.

          This comparison is a curiosity and a coincidence (that a novel with some important elements preceded a historical event), nothing more.

          You’ve heard about the crossword puzzle in The Daily Telegraph that, a few months before the D-Day invasion, contained the code words Juno, Gold, Sword, Utah, Omaha, and Overlord. That was either a security breach or a remarkable coincidence (but it wasn’t supernatural).

          many more points than your other resurrection stories share with the resurrection of Jesus

          Was I unclear? I’m looking at one (rather huge) point of commonality: supernaturally dying and rising. That’s the common element between Jesus and Dionysus, Attis, Baal, and the others.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Sure, they do look identical when you drop all the extra stuff on the Titanic side that I included.

    You didn’t include a single bit of “extra stuff” about the accounts. All you said was:

    The Titan was a fictional ship that sank, and the Titanic was an actual ship that sank.

    That has nothing to do with the actual accounts, but rather their truth value.

    You posted no substantive differences between the accounts of the Titan sinking, and the accounts of the Titanic sinking.

    Yeah. It’s a shame we don’t have that for the Jesus story.

    Well, we do, but you just reject it. You also reject eyewitness testimony of all miraculous accounts because its so unreliable. Why do you accept it with regards to the Titanic?

    What I hear you saying is, “Yeah, I know the evidence for the Jesus story is pretty paltry, but give me a break–it’s not like there was any way to record compelling evidence back then! So you’ll just have to accept paltry evidence because decent evidence is really hard.”

    You need to get your ears checked if that’s what you’re hearing. Here is what I’m actually saying:

    As for photographs and video, well I’m sorry that the photograph wasn’t available in Israel back then. If you standard for evidence is the existence of photographs and video though, you would need to logically reject well.. most of history really. We do have some written accounts of events from back then. You reject them because they were written to late. Of course, you’d accept non-supernatural accounts that were written 5 years after the events they described.. so again.. it really just comes down to the supernatural.

    It’s interesting how you seemed to skip over a large part of what I said, instead only focusing on that which you could make a trite response to.

    I have a different standard for “Battle X was fought in year Y” than “Sathya Sai Baba raised a man from the dead.” Sorry.

    Good, you finally admit that you are biased and prejudiced against theistic and or supernatural accounts. Glad to finally hear you admit that.

    So “The First Battle of Bull Run was fought in 1861″ is no more startling than “A man was raised from the dead within the last few decades”?

    Explain to me how they are different. If the only answer you have is “one is supernatural, and one isn’t”, what else can I think but that you are simply blinded by your bias?

    The historical plausibility of the two is very different. The Titan story was a story. It might have had “a novel” on the cover. The Titanic was history–photographs, shipyards, passenger lists, wreck site.

    They are both accounts. More importantly, they are accounts the disprove your argument. It doesn’t generalize.

    You’ve heard about the crossword puzzle in The Daily Telegraph that, a few months before the D-Day invasion, contained the code words Juno, Gold, Sword, Utah, Omaha, and Overlord. That was either a security breach or a remarkable coincidence (but it wasn’t supernatural).

    It also has nothing to do with your argument, or my rebuttal.

    Yes, the Titanic was actually history, but view just as an account whose truth value is in question, based on your argument, the story of the Titan would render it implausible. Yet it actually occurred. So at best, I suppose you could say that the existence of other resurrection accounts renders the resurrection of Jesus implausible to you. To which I would respond that I could care less about what your own personal opinion of the matter is. If you have actual evidence or reasoning that anyone ELSE should view other resurrection accounts as evidence against the resurrection of Jesus, then let’s hear it. So far, you have provided nothing but your own opinion.

    I’m looking at one (rather huge) point of commonality: supernaturally dying and rising.

    “I’m looking at one (rather huge) point of commonality: [between the Titan and Titanic], namely unsinkable ships sinking via hitting an iceberg.”

    • Bob Seidensticker

      All you said was:

      No, quite a bit more, actually. You can go back and find it if you want.

      You posted no substantive differences between the accounts of the Titan sinking, and the accounts of the Titanic sinking.

      Surely you could make as compelling a case as I could about the differences between the Titan story and the Titanic incident. I’ve lost touch of what we’re talking about here.

      Well, we do, but you just reject it.

      Eyewitnesses? Like who? I doubt that Matthew would’ve copied Mark if he’d been an eyewitness, for example.

      You also reject eyewitness testimony of all miraculous accounts because its so unreliable.

      Nope. I’ve simply pointed to its unreliability.

      The testimony of thousands of Holocaust survivors (some still living) can’t be dismissed. The testimony of hundreds of Titanic survivors can’t be dismissed.

      What do you offer on the Jesus side of the equation?

      You need to get your ears checked if that’s what you’re hearing.

      All I hear is you dodging the point I made about paltry evidence. Sorry that I’m missing whatever else is there.

      Good, you finally admit that you are biased and prejudiced against theistic and or supernatural accounts. Glad to finally hear you admit that.

      Admit it? I shout it from the rooftops! Along with pretty much everyone else. If you accept all claims equally (“The First Battle of Bull Run was fought in 1861″ is no more startling than “A man was raised from the dead within the last few decades”), then I don’t know where to begin. Knowing as you must my perplexity, perhaps you can make clear why you see these as equally startling.

      You do know that both claims are made, right? Do you accept them both?

      They are both accounts.

      That’s it? All accounts go into the same bin and you evaluate them equally? You don’t dig into them to at the very least put the novels into one pile and the accounts with mountains of evidence into another pile? ‘Cause I do.

      If that’s where this conversation rests, then I can’t imagine how to proceed.

      It also has nothing to do with your argument, or my rebuttal.

      The crossword puzzle story was a coincidence, just like your example of Titan. That’s the relevance.

      Yes, the Titanic was actually history

      So then you don’t put Titan and Titanic in the same bin.

      Perhaps you can understand why I have no idea what your argument is now.

      based on your argument, the story of the Titan would render it implausible.

      Okay, so you don’t understand my argument. I encourage you to reread the blog post.

      No one says, “The Titan story created a milieu from which the Titanic myth could’ve emerged.” No one says that the Titanic was a myth. The historical evidence is just too overwhelming.

      However, many say, “The Jesus story was created in a society that was full of stories of dying-and-rising gods, and it’s plausible that these earlier myths affected the decades of oral history the Jesus story went through.”

      But I repeat myself.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Nope. I’ve simply pointed to its unreliability.

    The testimony of thousands of Holocaust survivors (some still living) can’t be dismissed. The testimony of hundreds of Titanic survivors can’t be dismissed.

    However, the testimony of thousands of theists can be dismissed. Beause its so “un-reliable”. Or do you somehow accept their testimony even though to you its so “un-reliable”?

    All I hear is you dodging the point I made about paltry evidence. Sorry that I’m missing whatever else is there.

    Unfortunately, until your hearing is better, we are unlikely to have an intelligent conversation.

    Admit it? I shout it from the rooftops! Along with pretty much everyone else.

    Really? What evidence do you have for that? Just looking at the stats alone, atheists are rather in the minority. Hardly “pretty much everyone else”.

    Unfortunately for you Bob, most of the world doesn’t think like you do. I know its hard to accept, because you’re just so gosh darn enlightened, but that’s the way it is.

    If you accept all claims equally

    Hold on. You keep bringing up this false dichotomy. Either I am a skeptic, or I must accept everything equally. Let me try one more time to deal with this, in the hopes that perhaps a miracle will occur, your hearing will improve and you will actually understand what I say.

    To be open minded is not to accept all claims equally. It is to examine all claims equally. You do not examine all claims equally, because you are biased and prejudiced. You set standards for supernatural claims that you do not feel the need to follow for non-supernatural claims.

    I do not do this. I try, as much as I can, to use the same standard. Does this mean I “accept” all claims? No. That false dichotomy exists only in your mind. It does mean that I try to examine all claims equally.

    Perhaps you can understand why I have no idea what your argument is now.

    Oh, I understand. It’s because you’re ignorant , both of what I’ve been saying, and basic logic (at least when it comes to theism).

    Now, before you get all in a twist, remember, calling you ignorant isn’t an insult.

    However, many say, “The Jesus story was created in a society that was full of stories of dying-and-rising gods, and it’s plausible that these earlier myths affected the decades of oral history the Jesus story went through.”

    Who is this “many”? So far, we have …you and that’s it. It may be that you find it plausible that somehow these other stories affected the oral history that the accounts of Jesus went through (remember, at best we only have 2 decades, and more than likely we have a half a decade of oral transmission, as I’ve demonstrated earlier).

    The fact that you find something plausible is meaningless. Why should anyone else find it plausible? Or even more plausible than any other explanation? After all, if I’m not biased against the supernatural, I have no need to desperately search for any other “plausible” explanation. I have the ability to freely think, and to freely choose the supernatural explanation as being “plausible” as well. An ability you lack.

    Yet.. of course.. you’re the free thinker.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      However, the testimony of thousands of theists can be dismissed. Beause its so “un-reliable”.

      Huh? Where are these thousands of unreliable theists?

      All I can imagine you’re referring to is the authors of the books of the NT, but that was just a handful of people.

      we are unlikely to have an intelligent conversation.

      Agreed! I’d find more productive conversations elsewhere if I were you.

      What evidence do you have for that?

      There are a handful of gullible people who accept any supernatural claim they stumble across. Those are unusual people. By contrast, pretty much all Christians reject the miracle claims of other religions. Pretty much all Muslims reject the miracle claims of other religions. Same with Buddhists, Scientologists, and so on. Some pantheists might argue that all roads lead to God, but they’re in a minority.

      QED

      How about you? Do you reject any supernatural claims?

      Unfortunately for you Bob, most of the world doesn’t think like you do.

      I disagree. And we’ve already been over the evidence.

      I reject belief in Shiva. Who’s with me?! [Imagine most of the people of the world raising their hands.] I reject belief in Jesus. Who’s with me?! [Ditto.] And so on.

      I know its hard to accept, because you’re just so gosh darn enlightened, but that’s the way it is.

      Thanks for your concern, but this is not a problem. That most people reject most gods I accept quite easily.

      To be open minded is not to accept all claims equally. It is to examine all claims equally.

      Sounds good.

      You set standards for supernatural claims that you do not feel the need to follow for non-supernatural claims.

      Tell me more. What are these two separate sets of standards that I follow for finding the truth? Tell me also the single standard that you use.

      Who is this “many”? So far, we have …you and that’s it.

      You think that I did all the research into ancient religions to find the dying-and-rising parallels with the Jesus story? That’s naïve … but sort of flattering.

      at best we only have 2 decades, and more than likely we have a half a decade of oral transmission, as I’ve demonstrated earlier

      You’re presumably referring to the 1 Cor. 15 passage. I’ve written a whole post on this–you ought to check it out. Sure, that could’ve been written 5 years later … or it could’ve been added by copyists decades later. Hard to know for sure. Again, this is reed-thin evidence on which to build the remarkable claim that Jesus is the son of God.

      The fact that you find something plausible is meaningless.

      Yeah, you don’t like my stuff. I got it. Leave.

      I make the arguments in the hope that it will be a new way of thinking for a reader. The supernatural explanation is compelling when more-plausible explanations have been cut off. If I can introduce a new plausible natural explanation, that becomes the path of least resistance. That becomes the best-evidenced explanation.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        All I can imagine you’re referring to is the authors of the books of the NT, but that was just a handful of people.

        I was not referring to that.

        Agreed! I’d find more productive conversations elsewhere if I were you.

        No.

        By contrast, pretty much all Christians reject the miracle claims of other religions

        Really? What evidence do you have for this. Of the Christians I know/ have heard, some reject supernatural accounts of other religions as bunk, some think they did happen but were “evil” in some way, and some think they did happen and its just multiple sides of the elephant so to speak.

        Tell me more. What are these two separate sets of standards that I follow for finding the truth? Tell me also the single standard that you use.

        With regards to claims that fit your worldview, you (most likely) act rationally.

        With regards to claims that don’t fit your worldview, you a priori reject them. Any “naturalistic” explanation automatically becomes more plausible to you than the supernatural account in question. You will only accept a supernatural claim if every single possible naturalistic explanation is completely and totally proven, otherwise, to you its “plausible”.

        I try to look at the evidence for different claims, and pick the one that is best evidenced. No matter if that claim is supernatural or not. When I don’t know, I say I don’t know, rather than rejecting whole categories of claims a priori, as you do.

        You think that I did all the research into ancient religions to find the dying-and-rising parallels with the Jesus story?

        No. Work on basic reading comprehension skills. You said:

        However, many say, “The Jesus story was created in a society that was full of stories of dying-and-rising gods, and it’s plausible that these earlier myths affected the decades of oral history the Jesus story went through.”

        You didn’t say “many people have researched various mythologies”. The many does not refer to people who researched the facts, but people who make the argument that such facts make the idea that the Jesus story was “affected” (in some way you have yet to define) by those stories, plausible.

        Sure, that could’ve been written 5 years later … or it could’ve been added by copyists decades later. Hard to know for sure.

        You disagree with the consensus of Biblical experts. Why? What evidence do you have? Why should I believe you over people who actually care about what they think, and know of what they speak?

        Again, this is reed-thin evidence on which to build the remarkable claim that Jesus is the son of God.

        I actually agree. If I had been trying to do that, you might have a point. I wasn’t. 1 Cor 15 and the creed mentioned therein disproves the idea that multiple decades existed in order to turn the story of Jesus from a completely naturalistic tale, to one of a dying and rising supernatural savior god tale.

        “1 Cor 15 disproves one of Bob’s premises.”
        “1 Cor 15 proves that Jesus was God.”

        These two sentences are different.

        Yeah, you don’t like my stuff. I got it. Leave.

        You seem to get very angry when I offer serious critiques of arguments. I wonder why that is?

        The supernatural explanation is compelling when more-plausible explanations have been cut off. If I can introduce a new plausible natural explanation, that becomes the path of least resistance. That becomes the best-evidenced explanation.

        1. Best evidenced, and most plausible are very different things. You do not understand that, I know. It is however, the truth.

        2. I do agree that if you can convince someone that a different explanation is “more plausible”, you’ve found a different path of least resistance. I wonder why you are searching for a “path of least resistance” at all though. Sometimes examining the evidence and being honest, open-minded and unbiased is hard I understand, but that doesn’t mean its right to take another way out just because its easy.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I was not referring to that.

          OK, then I guess we won’t discuss whatever it was.

          With regards to claims that don’t fit your worldview, you a priori reject them.

          That would be closed-minded, wouldn’t it? I don’t do this, which is why I don’t think of myself as closed-minded.

          I try to look at the evidence for different claims, and pick the one that is best evidenced.

          Me too.

          When I don’t know, I say I don’t know, rather than rejecting whole categories of claims a priori, as you do.

          When is the jury still out (“I don’t know”) vs. you’ve got enough evidence to decide?

          If you’re saying that you’re much more amenable to supernatural explanations than I am, I’ll accept that. But I still doubt that we’d act very differently given the claims of, say, a unicorn, a yeti, and a Hindu rite that reliably raised people from the dead.

          Work on basic reading comprehension skills.

          OK, thanks. I’ll put a sticky note with that onto my monitor.

          You disagree with the consensus of Biblical experts. Why?

          I’ve already discussed my approach to the consensus.

          1 Cor 15 and the creed mentioned therein disproves the idea that multiple decades existed in order to turn the story of Jesus from a completely naturalistic tale, to one of a dying and rising supernatural savior god tale.

          I’m missing the “disproves” part. It’s evidence only.

          You seem to get very angry when I offer serious critiques of arguments. I wonder why that is?

          Wrong again. Serious critiques are terrific. I’m angry with your attitude and approach.

          1. Best evidenced, and most plausible are very different things.

          Any value in pointing out the difference?

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    It’s also worth remembering that you agreed to the following:

    It’s just that the existence of resurrection accounts renders the resurrection of Jesus “implausible” or “unlikely to be true”?

    So all this talk about other Resurrection stories isn’t just bringing up something you happen to find plausible, you do believe that somehow, the existence of these other Resurrection stories renders the truth value of account of the Resurrection of Jesus somehow “implausible”.

    Yet, it is somehow only with the Resurrection of Jesus (and probably other supernatural accounts) that you would make this argument. If you heard the story of the Titanic sinking, you would not say “Well, that was just a tale influenced by the existence of the story of the Titan”.

    What else can I conclude but that you are inconsistent? You come up with supposedly general arguments, that when pressed, you admit only apply against beliefs you are biased against.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Yet, it is somehow only with the Resurrection of Jesus (and probably other supernatural accounts) that you would make this argument.

      I’m no more skeptical of the Jesus resurrection than the resurrection stories of Dionysus or Attis.

      What else can I conclude but that you are inconsistent?

      Is this a trick question?

      If the only evidence for the Titanic was the script for the movie (with the hard facts of the ship sinking as well as the love story), I might well think that it was inspired by the Titan story. However (as I’ve said many times already), there is much more evidence that the Titanic is a historical, not fictional, event.

      Can we put the Jesus/Titanic comparison to bed now? Its only purpose is showing the huge disparity in the evidence on the Titanic side compared to the Jesus side, and it’s done that job quite well. From an evidence standpoint, the Jesus story looks far more like the Titan than the Titanic.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        Can we put the Jesus/Titanic comparison to bed now?

        As it completely disproves your argument, then no, we can’t.

        You even say:

        If the only evidence for the Titanic was the script for the movie (with the hard facts of the ship sinking as well as the love story), I might well think that it was inspired by the Titan story.

        So its clear that its not always the case that just because a false story exists that shares some points in common with a story who’s truth value that is in question, that we should then assume that that story is “implausible” or “unlikely” to be true. You do not provide any statistics demonstrating that its even likely to be true, and that the Titanic/Titan pairing is just an outlier.

        So your argument, which remember you agreed to:

        It’s just that the existence of resurrection accounts renders the resurrection of Jesus “implausible” or “unlikely to be true”?

        Does not generalize. You give no evidence as to why I should believe your argument/inference holds for just the resurrection account (or supernatural accounts in general), so as a rational person I must reject that idea as well.

        As for all your whining about how much more “evidence” there is for the Titanic, as I’ve already demonstrated time and time again, your standard of “evidence” is so high that you reject all evidence for the Bible, then say there is none. Its not intellectual.. but hey, its your show.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1357724115 Dennis Lurvey

    it comes down to if you are an objective observer or biased toward one truth or another. you can alway nit pick one detail or another, but the preponderance of the evidence looked at objectively along with other accounts of the miracle stories being added, brings one to believe that somethings fishy. one can’t conclude that any of these stories are true or not true with the evidence we have. even xtians use the word faith. but if we use the same standards and rules we use in court, empirical evidence and first hand accounts, Jesus is a myth.


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