Jesus a Legend: A Dozen Reasons

C.S. Lewis is famous for his Liar, Lunatic, or Lord trilemma—Jesus must be a liar (he knew that his claims of deity were false), a lunatic (he was crazy, which explains his nutty claims), or he was who he said he was, the Lord. But, of course, this ignores the bin into which we put similar claims—Legend. (For more background, read the introductory post.)

Let’s consider possible Christian rebuttals to the legend hypothesis.

“Legend” isn’t the consensus view among scholars. You lampoon Creationists for rejecting the scientific consensus, but you’re guilty of the same error here.

Who are these scholars? Are they Christian theologians as well? If so, could they be (dare I say it?) biased? Historians filter supernatural explanations out of history, labeling supernatural claims myth or legend.

Consider the consensus response of Muslim scholars to the gospel story. They reject it, and yet they have no bias against supernatural explanations and they’re experienced with ancient documents. If Christian scholars accept the gospel story but Muslim scholars don’t, then it looks like religious scholars can shoehorn data to fit their religious worldview. My conclusion: the consensus of religious scholars is quite different from a scientific consensus.

Jesus claimed to be God. The tomb was empty. The disciples believed they’d met the risen Lord. These facts can’t be simply dismissed.

The story says that Jesus claimed to be God. The story says that the tomb was empty. The story says that Merlin could change his shape. The story says that Grendel was a big, scary monster. We must go beyond the stories to figure out the actual history.

The empty tomb, the risen Jesus, the martyred disciples, and so on are part of the story. The entire story is suspect—the New Testament isn’t even internally consistent on whether Jesus remained on earth for one day or forty days—so Christians can’t use one part of the story (crucifixion plus empty tomb) to support another (resurrection).

And beyond the earliest days of the religion, early Christians were believers because they’d been converted, not because they were witnesses to supernatural events, just like today. The 9/11 hijackers believed in Paradise for martyrs, but that doesn’t mean that that’s true. We have no good reason to imagine that eyewitnesses wrote the gospels rather than someone simply documenting the Jesus story as it had developed within their church community.

Arguments explaining away the resurrection have all failed. These claim that Jesus “swooned” and wasn’t killed by the crucifixion, the women mistakenly went to the wrong tomb, the disciples stole the body, and the “risen Jesus” was just a hallucination. These are universally rejected by scholars.

Christians love these arguments because they’re easily knocked down, but I don’t use them and I don’t know of any modern atheist who uses them either. These arguments assume that the empty tomb is history; I say that it’s just a story.

The Jesus story is corroborated by non-Christian historians.

Josephus (born about 7 years after the death of Jesus), Pliny (31 years), Suetonius (39 years), and the others said little more than “there are people called Christians who worship a man called Jesus,” and sometimes a lot less than this. These are natural claims and do nothing to support the Bible’s supernatural claims. It’s not like we have an objective article from the Jerusalem Times written immediately after the each miracle.

You don’t think much of the evidence of the gospel story, but you must admit that it’s something. It’s more evidence than you have. You have no case without positive evidence of your own. For a scientific issue, you provide a scientific argument, but you’re in the domain of history now, and you must play by its rules. You have an alternate explanation of the gospel story? Then provide your historical evidence.

I don’t have contemporary evidence that refutes the claim that George Washington could fly. Must I provide evidence of contemporaries reporting Washington not flying before you’ll reject that claim? Couldn’t I simply refute such a claim by pointing to likelier explanations of the facts?

We will never have documentation by someone who saw Jesus not walk on water. Never. (And how compelling would that be anyway?) So what does that mean—that the gospels are historically accurate? No—the plausible natural explanation always trumps the supernatural.

The Christian claim is: Nothing explains the facts better than an all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent god creating the universe and sending Jesus to spread his message. This is about as remarkable a claim as could be stated, and yet it is tossed out lightly. Christians seem to imagine that “God did it” is as plausible as the natural explanation that stories grow with the retelling.

The Christian has the burden of proof, and it’s an enormous burden given this enormous claim.

The disciples died martyr’s deaths. Who would go do their death defending a lie?

I don’t argue that it’s a lie; I argue that it’s a legend. Both are false, but the error in a legend isn’t deliberate. (I’ve already responded to the argument “Who would die for a lie?”)

I don’t imagine a sinister mastermind behind the creation of Christianity, just like there is no reason to imagine one behind Zoroastrianism or Mithraism, and there is none behind the corruption of a message in the game of Telephone. It’s just a story—a legend that grew over time.

I admit that I don’t know that the gospel story is false, and I don’t know that the supernatural elements were added during the decades of oral history. What I’m saying is that this is the null hypothesis; this is where we start. Only with extraordinary evidence (which doesn’t exist) can a supernatural explanation replace this.

The gospel story, the story of the George Washington of Galilee, the savior who was going to come back any day now to save the Jews’ bacon but who still hasn’t returned after 2000 years, evolved during 40 years of oral transmission. It was finally written down during a time when supernatural explanations were accepted and, indeed, were often the most plausible explanation people had. It came from Palestine, the crossroads between Greek, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian cultures, each of which brought their own competing god claims.

Given our own experience with stories quickly getting out of hand (consider celebrities’ lives, for example), the Jesus story being a legend seems exceedingly plausible. The Christian position has the burden of proof, a burden that has yet to be met.

This list of Christian arguments is concluded in the next post.

If [Christianity] offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected,
I should feel we were making it up.
But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up.
It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.
— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Photo credit: Liliane Polak

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About Bob Seidensticker
  • Ehcstein

    I DO NOT AGREE WITH YOU, BUT I APPRECIATE YOUR WRITINGS AS AT LEAST THEY TAKE NOTICE OF THE OPPONENTS ARGUMENT. I OFFER MY COMMENTS FROM A CHRISTIAN’S POINT OF VIEW (IN UPPER CASE):

    1. Who are these scholars? Are they Christian theologians as well? If so, could they be (dare I say it?) biased? Historians filter supernatural explanations out of history, labeling supernatural claims myth or legend.
    SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS IS THAT JESUS IS NOT A LEGEND. THIS CONCLUSION HAS BEEN REACHED BY CHRISTIAN, AGNOSTIC, ATHEIST, MUSLIM ETC. HISTORIANS AND IS BASED ON ANALYSIS OF ALL AVAILABLE DATA. IT IS HIGHLY IMPLAUSIBLE THAT JESUS WAS MADE UP.

    2. If Christian scholars accept the gospel story but Muslim scholars don’t, then it looks like religious scholars can shoehorn data to fit their religious worldview:
    YOUR STATEMENT THAT MUSLIM REJECT THE GOSPELS REQUIRES SOME REFINEMENT. IN FACT, MUSLIMS ACCEPT A LARGE PART OF THE GOSPELS. THEY SHARE BELIEVE WITH CHRISTIANS THAT JESUS WAS A MESSENGER FROM GOD, WAS BORN FROM THE VIRGIN MARY AND PERFORMED MIRACLES. MUSLIMS DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION AND CANNOT BELIEVE THAT JESUS WAS “GOD HIMSELF” AS WE CHRISTIANS DO. THAT IS A MATTER OF FAITH (BUT NOT BLIND FAITH).

    3. The story says that Jesus claimed to be God. The story says that the tomb was empty. The story says that Merlin could change his shape. The story says that Grendel was a big, scary monster. We must go beyond the stories to figure out the actual history.
    SCIENTIFIC ENQUIRY IS LARGELY BASED ON MUTUAL TRUST. A SCIENTIST BUILDS FURTHER ON WHAT OTHER SCIENTISTS REPORTED IN THE SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE. THEIR INTERPRETATIONS MAY TURN OUT TO BE INCORRECT, BUT USUALLY NO ONE DOUBTS THE REPORTED OBSERVATIONS AND DATA. SOMETIMES, CORRUPT SCIENTISTS MAKE UP THEIR DATA BUT THAT IS VERY EXCEPTIONAL AND STUFF FOR NEWSPAPER HEADINGS. IN A SIMILAR WAY, THE OBSERVATIONS AND DATA REPORTED BY MARC, LUKE, JOHN, MATHEW, PAUL ARE MUTUALLY COHERENT, FULL OF HISTORICAL AND GEOGRAPHIC DETAILS HAT CAN BE INDEPENDENTLY CONFIRMED, AND DO NOT GIVE THE IMPRESSION OF HAVING BEEN MADE UP. THEY EXPLICITLY PROMISE THAT WHAT THEY HAVE WRITTEN IS TRUE AND THAT THEY WERE EYE WITNESSES. WHY SHOULD WE DOUBT OF THEIR HONESTY. MANY PEOPLE REJECT MIRACLES AS BY DEFINITION THESE TRANSCEND PHYSICAL LAWS. HOWEVER, IF GOD EXISTS AND TRANSCENDS THESE LAWS HE CAN PERFORM MIRACLES THROUGH ANYONE HE PLEASES. ONLY BY REJECTING THE EXISTENCE OF GOD A PRIORI, MIRACLES BECOME IMPOSSIBLE AND THEREFORE THE GOSPELS MUST HAVE BEEN MADE UP.

    4.The New Testament isn’t even internally consistent on whether Jesus remained on earth for one day or forty days—so Christians can’t use one part of the story (crucifixion plus empty tomb) to support another (resurrection).
    TO ME THE GOSPELS ARE CONSISTENT ABOUT JESUS HAVING BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD AND HAVING APPEARED DURING 40 DAYS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE AT DIFFERENT LOCATIONS. CAN YOU FURTHER SUBSTANTIATE YOUR CLAIM?

    5. We have no good reason to imagine that eyewitnesses wrote the gospels rather than someone simply documenting the Jesus story as it had developed within their church community.
    YET, THE WRITERS OF THE GOSPELS THEMSELVES CLAIM THEY WERE EYE WITNESSES. JOHN FOR EXAMPLE WRITES AT THE END OF HIS GOSPEL “THIS IS THE DISCIPLE WHICH TESTIFIETH OF THESE THINGS, AND WROTE THESE THINGS: AND WE KNOW THAT HIS TESTIMONY IS TRUE.”

    6. Arguments explaining away the resurrection have all failed. These claim that Jesus “swooned” and wasn’t killed by the crucifixion, the women mistakenly went to the wrong tomb, the disciples stole the body, and the “risen Jesus” was just a hallucination. These are universally rejected by scholars. Christians love these arguments because they’re easily knocked down, but I don’t use them and I don’t know of any modern atheist who uses them either. These arguments assume that the empty tomb is history; I say that it’s just a story.
    YOU CAN SAY IT IS JUST A STORY, BUT THAT IS AN OPINION NOT AN ARGUMENT. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT YOUR OPINION IS BASED ON MISTRUST, BASED IN TURN ON YOUR PRECONCEIVED VIEW THAT MIRACLES ARE IMPOSSIBLE, BECAUSE GOD DOES NOT EXIST. BUT IF GOD DOES EXIST, MIRACLES SHOULD BE POSSIBLE. DON’T YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS KNOWING THAT MANY OF THE GREATEST MINDS MANKIND HAS PRODUCED DID BELIEVE JUST THAT. YOU HAVE SELF-BRANDED YOURSELF AN ATHEIST BUT COULD YOU ACCEPT THAT PERHAPS YOU ARE WRONG?

    7. The Jesus story is corroborated by non-Christian historians.
    Josephus (born about 7 years after the death of Jesus), Pliny (31 years), Suetonius (39 years), and the others said little more than “there are people called Christians who worship a man called Jesus,” and sometimes a lot less than this. These are natural claims and do nothing to support the Bible’s supernatural claims. It’s not like we have an objective article from the Jerusalem Times written immediately after the each miracle.
    WE HAVE NO VIDEO RECORDING EITHER. OUR INFORMATION IS FRAGMENTARY BUT CONSISTENT WITH THE EXISTENCE OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS. JOSEPHUS REPORT DOES NOT PROVE JESUS’ RESURRECTION BUT IT DOES PROVE THAT HE WAS A HISTORICAL FIGURE THAT HAD SUCH AN IMPACT AS TO PRESENTLY HAVING 2 BILLION FOLLOWERS.

    8. You don’t think much of the evidence of the gospel story, but you must admit that it’s something. It’s more evidence than you have. You have no case without positive evidence of your own. For a scientific issue, you provide a scientific argument, but you’re in the domain of history now, and you must play by its rules. You have an alternate explanation of the gospel story? Then provide your historical evidence.
    I don’t have contemporary evidence that refutes the claim that George Washington could fly. Must I provide evidence of contemporaries reporting Washington not flying before you’ll reject that claim? Couldn’t I simply refute such a claim by pointing to likelier explanations of the facts?
    YOU REJECT THE POSSIBILITY THAT GOD PERFORMED MIRACLES THROUGH JESUS, BUT NOT THROUGH GEORGE WASHINGTON. THAT REJECTION IS NOT BASED ON ANY ARGUMENT OR EVIDENCE BUT ON YOUR PERSONAL VIEW THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST. AS GOD DOES NOT EXIST, MIRACLES CANNOT BE POSSIBLE AND JESUS IS A LEGEND. BY CONTRAST, MY VIEW IS THAT GOD DOES EXIST. I FIND THAT MORE LOGICAL WHEN I LOOK AROUND ME EN INTO MY OWN MIND. I AM A SCIENTIST BUT I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH GOD EXISTING OR PERFORMING MIRACLES WHEN HE PLEASES. I ALSO FIND WHAT JESUS TAUGHT A GREAT TRUTH IN MY PERDSONAL LIFE EXPERIENCE. I THEREFORE TRUST WHAT EYE WITNESSES REPORTED OF HIM TOO. I KNOW SCIENCE IS BASICALLY DESCRIPTIVE AND HAS NO ANSWERS TO THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF ORIGIN, PURPOSE, CONSCIOUSNESS, LOVE, MORAL ETC. I DO NOT BUY IT THAT THIS IS THE BLIND PRODUCT OF A BIG EXPLOSION THAT AROSE SPONTANEOUSLY FOR NO REASON BECAUSE OF THE LAWS OF PHYSICS. WHO MADE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS? WHY ARE THEY AS THEY ARE, OR IS THAT QUESTION FORBIDDEN.

    9. The disciples died martyr’s deaths. Who would go do their death defending a lie?I don’t argue that it’s a lie; I argue that it’s a legend. Both are false, but the error in a legend isn’t deliberate.
    NO RESPECTED HISTORIAN DOUBTS THE CHRISTIAN PERSECUTIONS DURING THE FIRST 3-4 CENTURIES AND THAT MANY EARLY CHRISTIANS DIED FOR THEIR FAITH. HOW CAN YOU SAY IT IS A LEGEND. ON WHAT BASIS? MARTYRS SIMPLY PROVE THAT THEY WERE CONVINCED BY THE GOSPELS. STEPHEN, THE FIRST MARTYR, DIED A FEW DECADES AFTER JESUS CRUCIFIXION. NOT ENOUGH TIME TO BECOME A LEGEND.

    I MUST STOP NOW AND START DO SOME WORK. REGARDS

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      E:

      SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS IS THAT JESUS IS NOT A LEGEND.

      No, the consensus of scholars of Christianity is that he’s not a legend. Big difference.

      MUSLIMS ACCEPT A LARGE PART OF THE GOSPELS.

      Yes, though they don’t accept the resurrection.

      USUALLY NO ONE DOUBTS THE REPORTED OBSERVATIONS AND DATA.

      I disagree. There were observations just a few years ago about Sathya Sai Baba. He was an Indian mystic with millions of followers who was said to have performed many miracles, including being in two places at once and raising the dead. Do you doubt those observations?

      THE OBSERVATIONS AND DATA REPORTED BY MARC, LUKE, JOHN, MATHEW, PAUL

      … sound just like legends. So let’s label them as such.

      No, they weren’t eyewitnesses.

      I gotta say, your bar is set pretty low for Christianity. Do you have a low bar of evidence for other religions, too?

      THE GOSPELS ARE CONSISTENT ABOUT JESUS HAVING BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD AND HAVING APPEARED DURING 40 DAYS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE AT DIFFERENT LOCATIONS.

      Luke makes clear that Jesus went to heaven after one day. Inconsistent.

      When you find inconsistencies or (more importantly) when it sounds like a legend, it’s hard to make the case that it’s actually history.

      YET, THE WRITERS OF THE GOSPELS THEMSELVES CLAIM THEY WERE EYE WITNESSES.

      No, they don’t. And that bit from John is from an added-on chapter. (Read John 20 and see how it wraps up nicely. Then it lurches forward again in the last chapter.)

      Even if each gospel identified the author clearly and said that they were eyewitness accounts, so what? You believe everything you read?

      OUR INFORMATION IS FRAGMENTARY BUT CONSISTENT WITH THE EXISTENCE OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS.

      And the stories of Sathya Sai Baba are consistent with his being an actual miracle worker. Doesn’t mean that he was, though.

      JOSEPHUS REPORT DOES NOT PROVE JESUS’ RESURRECTION BUT IT DOES PROVE THAT HE WAS A HISTORICAL FIGURE

      Wrong again. You do know that that passage was added by Christians, right?

      THAT REJECTION IS NOT BASED ON ANY ARGUMENT OR EVIDENCE BUT ON YOUR PERSONAL VIEW THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST.

      We start with the null hypothesis: God doesn’t exist. Then (if you’re open minded) you consider arguments that God does exist. The intellectual arguments that I’ve heard do not convince me, nor should they convince anyone.

      WHO MADE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS? WHY ARE THEY AS THEY ARE, OR IS THAT QUESTION FORBIDDEN.

      Why imagine it’s a “who”? And who made God–or is that question forbidden?

  • Ehcstein

    Bob, I enjoyed your latest post. This is what I have to say on it:
    ____________________________________________
    SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS IS THAT JESUS IS NOT A LEGEND.
    BS: No, the consensus of scholars of Christianity is that he’s not a legend. Big difference.

    “scientific consensus” means agreement amongst experts in the matter. In this case, scholars of Christianity, which include atheists

    ____________________________________________
    USUALLY NO ONE DOUBTS THE REPORTED OBSERVATIONS AND DATA.

    BS: disagree. There were observations just a few years ago about Sathya Sai Baba. He was an Indian mystic with millions of followers who was said to have performed many miracles, including being in two places at once and raising the dead. Do you doubt those observations?

    I was referring to scientific research, but you have a good point. The writers of the gospel were no scientists, and we should not blindly believe everything that is reported. Accepting a reported event does not automatically mean that you accept the explanation. My sister-in-law and her husband, for example, saw a UFO some years ago. I do not doubt that they did see a strange phenomenon in the sky, but I do not believe it had anything to do with extraterrestrial life. In the case of events reported in the gospels, I do not know the authors personally, but they give the impression of believing themselves in what they write. They went through great personal sacrifice to communicate to others what they considered the most important event in the history of mankind. Is there an alternative, more rational explanation of what they saw? Well, if you deny the existence of God, yes. In that case, anything will be more logical. If you are open-minded enough to allow the possibility that God exists, no.

    Sathya Sai Baba has been accused of sexual abuse, and his miracles have been shown to be fraudulent tricks. He is one of those charlatans able to draw millions of mainly uneducated people towards him for personal enrichment and honors. A similar case is Sun Myung Moon, who collected Rolls Roys cars. These people have no credibility. They are very much unlike Jesus and his disciples.
    ____________________________________________

    THE OBSERVATIONS AND DATA REPORTED BY MARC, LUKE, JOHN, MATHEW, PAUL
    BS: sound just like legends. So let’s label them as such.
    Many non-Christian scholars disagree with you. I recently read a book by Rodney Stark called “Discovering God”. who analyses the possibility that the Gospels are legends or myths in some depth and arrives at the conclusion that they are not. He is not a Christian, although he now finds the idea of God plausible, after having been an atheist. So there is still hope for you too ;-)
    ____________________________________________
    BS: No, they weren’t eyewitnesses.
    …this would imply that John and Mathew were not really apostles of Jesus or that Jesus did not even exist. This opinion challenges the scientific consensus by Christian, non-Christian and pagan scholars.
    ____________________________________________
    THE GOSPELS ARE CONSISTENT ABOUT JESUS HAVING BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD AND HAVING APPEARED DURING 40 DAYS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE AT DIFFERENT LOCATIONS. Luke makes clear that Jesus went to heaven after one day. Inconsistent. When you find inconsistencies or (more importantly) when it sounds like a legend, it’s hard to make the case that it’s actually history.

    Where is the inconsistency? If Jesus was in heaven after 1 day, he could have appeared afterwards to his disciples on Earth or not?
    ____________________________________________
    YET, THE WRITERS OF THE GOSPELS THEMSELVES CLAIM THEY WERE EYE WITNESSES.

    BS: No, they don’t. And that bit from John is from an added-on chapter. (Read John 20 and see how it wraps up nicely. Then it lurches forward again in the last chapter. Even if each gospel identified the author clearly and said that they were eyewitness accounts, so what? You believe everything you read?

    OUR INFORMATION IS FRAGMENTARY BUT CONSISTENT WITH THE EXISTENCE OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS. And the stories of Sathya Sai Baba are consistent with his being an actual miracle worker. Doesn’t mean that he was, though.

    JOSEPHUS REPORT DOES NOT PROVE JESUS’ RESURRECTION BUT IT DOES PROVE THAT HE WAS A HISTORICAL FIGURE
    B.S. Wrong again. You do know that that passage was added by Christians, right?

    I repeat that scholars, independent of their personal beliefs, do not share your opinion that Jesus is a legend. Their may be a few, but it is not the consensus. Some scholars argue that the last sentence of John was added later. This might be the case, but their are plenty of similar passages. This one in John immediately comes to my mind: “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.” Similar statements can be found regarding the empty tomb, and in general all accounts about miracles are written in a straight-forward style without adornments, fantasy and full of precise details about names, places. I love John 9:13 where a blind boy is cured by Jesus and then interrogated by the scribes. It is not irrational or naive to believe in miracles, after one accepts that God may indeed exist. Christianity is regarded as the fundament of modern science and many scientists have seen God confirmed in their research of nature. Indeed, Paul writes: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

    ____________________________________________
    THAT REJECTION IS NOT BASED ON ANY ARGUMENT OR EVIDENCE BUT ON YOUR PERSONAL VIEW THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST.
    We start with the null hypothesis: God doesn’t exist. Then (if you’re open minded) you consider arguments that God does exist. The intellectual arguments that I’ve heard do not convince me, nor should they convince anyone.
    BS: You should be more modest. They may not convince you, but they convinced others who are at least as intelligent or instructed as you.
    ____________________________________________
    WHO MADE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS? WHY ARE THEY AS THEY ARE, OR IS THAT QUESTION FORBIDDEN.
    B.S. Why imagine it’s a “who”? And who made God–or is that question forbidden?
    Order, intelligence, moral, love, fine-tuning of the universe, life itself all make very plausible the idea of God who created not only all “things” but also space and time itself. The concept of eternity should not be understood as an infinitely long time, but rather as something being outside the restriction of time. The idea that God “is who he is” and was not created is a mystery. You can call it or he or she, but it will always remain a mystery.
    ____________________________________________

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      E:

      “scientific consensus” means agreement amongst experts in the matter.

      No, there is no science in the question “are the Jesus miracles stories true?”

      And note that you must have a specific group of religious scholars. Muslim scholars, equally educated, will unanimously say that Jesus was not raised from the dead.

      (I think there’s a religious bias going on here.)

      In the case of events reported in the gospels, I do not know the authors personally, but they give the impression of believing themselves in what they write

      You’d believe any ancient book with an author that seemed earnest?

      They went through great personal sacrifice to communicate to others what they considered the most important event in the history of mankind.

      That’s what the stories and legends say, but why imagine that that’s history?

      Is there an al ternative, more rational explanation of what they saw?

      Who knows what they saw?? All we have are stories. Show that they’re reliable and then re-ask the question.

      Well, if you deny the existence of God

      I don’t deny it. I say that that’s where the evidence points. Show me better evidence that points in another direction, and I’ll consider that.

      Sathya Sai Baba has been accused of sexual abuse, and his miracles have been shown to be fraudulent tricks.

      And the gospel stories are too far in the past to have any naysayer evidence against them. So the Jesus story is less reliable, so that makes its supernatural claims more true?

      analyses the possibility that the Gospels are legends or myths in some depth and arrives at the conclusion that they are not.

      Do you then have a good argument that the Jesus story can’t be legend? Summarize it for us.

      …this would imply that John and Mathew were not really apostles of Jesus or that Jesus did not even exist.

      You’re bypassing the question. How do we know that Mark wrote Mark and that he was an associate of Peter? Because of the stories within the early church—very weak historically. I write more here.

      The “eyewitness” claim for the gospel authors kinda falls apart. We have no idea who even wrote these books, let alone that they were eyewitnesses.

      Where is the inconsistency?

      You’re telling me that Luke and Acts tell the same story of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus? I think you need to reread your Bible.

      I repeat that scholars, independent of their personal beliefs, do not share your opinion that Jesus is a legend.

      And I repeat that Muslim scholars, who have no problem with the idea of the supernatural, reject the idea of the resurrection of Jesus.

      Conclusion: interpretation of the Jesus story varies based on your religious beliefs. Religious scholars are unreliable sources here.

      “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

      So I have no excuse for not seeing the truth of the gospel claims? I burn in hell forever because I use my brain and don’t just take things on faith?

      And what do you think about that—you’re cool with it? No sense of injustice?

      They may not convince you, but they convinced others who are at least as intelligent or instructed as you.

      … and smarter people than you have rejected them. So where does that leave us?

      Order, intell igence, moral, love, fine-tuning of the universe, life itself all make very plausible the idea of God who created not only all “things” but also space and time itself.

      Some of these arguments I’ve already shredded, and I’ll get to the other with time.

      The idea that God “is who he is” and was not created is a mystery.

      So when I ask, “So who created God, then?” you just say that it’s a mystery and think that your question about the grounding of physics stands but that mine about the grounding of God doesn’t?

      • Ehcstein

        No, there is no science in the question ?are the Jesus miracles stories true?? And note that you must have a specific group of religious scholars. Muslim scholars, equally educated, will unanimously say that Jesus was not raised from the dead. (I think there?s a religious bias going on here.)
        I CANNOT DEMONSTRATE THE MIRACLE STORIES. I BELIEVE THEY ARE NOT JUST STORIES. BECAUSE IT MAKE MORE SENSE TO ME. I FEEL CHRISTIAN VALUES ARE RIGHT, AND THAT GOD IS REQUIRED TO ACCOUNT FOR MY EXISTENCE. I SEE NO CONTRADICTION BETWEEN SCIENCE AND THIS BELIEF.

        You?d believe any ancient book with an author that seemed earnest?
        NO, BUT HERE HERE WE HAVE MULTIPLE AUTHORS, AND HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL FACT ABOUT THE PERSECUTIONS, THE CONVERSION OF THE ENTIRE ROMAN EMPIRE,

        That?s what the stories and legends say, but why imagine that that?s history?
        TO ME, THE BASE LINE OF ANY DISCUSSION OF CHRISTIANITY IS TO AGREE THAT JESUS EXISTED, PAUL TOO AND THE OTHER WRITERS OF THE GOSPELS. ALSO THE EARLY MARTYRS, THE ROMAN PERSECUTIONS AND ALL ITS HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE. I WOULD SAY MOST ATHEISTS AGREE WITH THIS.

        Who knows what they saw?? All we have are stories. Show that they?re reliable and then re-ask the question.
        I CANNOT DEMONSTRATE ANYTHING. I MUST RELY ON FAITH, BUT I THINK IT IS INSTRUCTED, RATIONAL FAITH. THE CENTRAL MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL ABOUT HONESTY, JUSTICE, LOVE, FORGIVENESS MAKES SENSE. I SIMPLY CANNOT BELIEVE THE AUTHORS OF THIS MESSAGE ARE SUCH BLATANT LIARS. I BELIEVE THE TRUTH ALWAYS ENDS UP WINNING. YOU MAY BELIEVE THAT IT WILL AND EVENTUALLY WILL KILL CHRISTIANITY

        I don?t deny it. I say that that?s where the evidence points. Show me better evidence that points in another direction, and I?ll consider that.
        THE BEST EVIDENCE FOR GOD IS THE FACT THAT WE ARE DISCUSSING HIS EXISTENCE

        And the gospel stories are too far in the past to have any naysayer evidence against them. So the Jesus story is less reliable, so that makes its supernatural claims more true?
        THE AGE OF THE GOSPELS IS IN ITSELF IRRELEVANT. THERE ARE MUCH OLDER BOOKS WHOSE AUTHENTICITY AND RELIABILITY IS UNQUESTIONED. FOR EXAMPLE, BOOKS WRITTEN BY THE GREEK PHILOSOPHERS.

        Do you then have a good argument that the Jesus story can?t be legend? Summarize it for us.
        HERE ARE SOME ARGUMENTS I FOUND ON THE WEB AFTER A 30 SECONDS SEARCH:
        * None of the most reputable first century historians (Josephus, Tacitus, et al) or other first century contemporaries of Christ (Biblical or extra-Biblical, e.g. the physician Luke, Roman officials, members of Jesus’ own family) of whom we are aware?excepting the Jewish religious leadership, who clearly had an agenda of their own?ever apparently disputed the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ supernatural claims and feats, although such accounts were all being quite widely circulated during their lifetimes.

        * There is solid evidence that Jesus really did claim to be unique among men in His relationship with God the Father, i.e. Divine in essence. Consider even the Christological titles. For instance, Jesus’ favorite self-title was probably ?the Son of Man? (note the definite article, e.g. Luke 18:31). Commonly thought to be a reference to His humanity, in light of Daniel 7:13-14 this term is no doubt more accurately regarded as a reference to His Deity. Even such radical ‘scholars’ as those on the Jesus Seminar seem inclined not to dispute Jesus’ use of this term to describe Himself.

        * Even critical scholars concede the historicity of Jesus’ healings and exorcisms, while denying the fact that any of them constituted real true-to-life miracles. Such denials, though, seem clearly based on presuppositions and worldviews.

        * Legends typically require a significant period of time to develop and gain credibility. In this case, within just twenty years of Jesus’ death, Christian doctrine, conviction, churches, creeds, martyrs, and sermons?every one unequivocally confessing Jesus as Lord?can all be handily documented.

        * Would Jesus’ disciples have been willing martyrs for a story they knew was pure fantasy and legend? Some men may be willing to die for what they believe to be true, though it isn’t. But who is, or has, ever been willing to die for the sake of a cause which they clearly know to be a lie? Remember, the disciples were eye witnesses to what actually had happened.

        * Can one realistically attribute to mere legend the historic, worldwide, ongoing impact of the life of this one individual?all of which includes the faith-profession of many of the world’s most respected, wise, thinking men and women?

        You?re bypassing the question. How do we know that Mark wrote Mark and that he was an associate of Peter? Because of the stories within the early church?very weak historically. I write more here.The ?eyewitness? claim for the gospel authors kinda falls apart. We have no idea who even wrote these books, let alone that they were eyewitnesses.
        THIS WEB PAGE “THE HISTORICAL RELIABILITY OF THE GOSPELS” DOES A GOOD JOB AT SUMMARIZING THE ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF THE GOSPELS’ AUTHENTICITY. http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbbible.aspx?pageid=8589952775

        You?re telling me that Luke and Acts tell the same story of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus? I think you need to reread your Bible.
        I ASKED “WHERE IS THE INCONSISTENCY”. YOU ARE ANSWERING WITH ANOTHER QUESTION. FIRST GIVE ME YOUR ANSWER.

        And I repeat that Muslim scholars, who have no problem with the idea of the supernatural, reject the idea of the resurrection of Jesus.
        Conclusion: interpretation of the Jesus story varies based on your religious beliefs. Religious scholars are unreliable sources here.
        DEFINITIVELY, BUT THERE ARE MORE COINCIDENCES THAN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIMS’ BELIEFS REGARDING JESUS

        So I have no excuse for not seeing the truth of the gospel claims? I burn in hell forever because I use my brain and don?t just take things on faith?
        And what do you think about that?you?re cool with it? No sense of injustice?
        NO, I DO NOT THINK THAT AND THE CHURCH DOES NOT PREACH THAT EITHER. THERE ARE ATHEISTS WHO ARE MORE “CHRISTIAN” THAN OTHERS WHO CALL THEMSELVES SO. AS PAUL PUTS IT IN ANOTHER VERY CONVINCING PASSAGE:
        “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, ?Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,? and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, ?You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.? (Jam 2:18)

        ? and smarter people than you have rejected them. So where does that leave us?
        TRUE, AND IT DEMANDS MODESTY AND OPENNESS OF MIND OF BOTH OF US

        Some of these arguments I?ve already shredded, and I?ll get to the other with time.
        THEN OUR EXISTENCE IS JUST STUPID LUCK, OR EVEN WORSE, BECAUSE WHY SHOULD WE CONSIDER OURSELVES LUCKY TO EXIST IF WE ARE TO DIE SOON. POOR US, WE BETTER TRY TO HAVE GOOD TIME WHILE WE ARE THERE…… ?
        NO, I PLACE MY BET ON THE CHRISTIAN FAITH WITH PASCAL. SEE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager

        The idea that God “is who he is” and was not created is a mystery.
        So when I ask, ?So who created God, then?? you just say that it?s a mystery and think that your question about the grounding of physics stands but that mine about the grounding of God doesn?t?
        EITHER THE UNIVERSE ALWAYS EXISTED, OR IT WAS CREATED BY GOD WHO ALWAYS EXISTED. BOTH OPTIONS SEEM ALMOST EQUALLY ABSURD, BUT I PREFER GOD, IF IT WERE ONLY BECAUSE THAT IS MORE OPTIMISTIC

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Ehcstein

          I CANNOT DEMONSTRATE THE MIRACLE STORIES.

          OK. Believe whatever you want, but don’t imagine that those of us who want evidence will find this compelling.

          HERE HERE WE HAVE MULTIPLE AUTHORS, AND HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL FACT ABOUT THE PERSECUTIONS, THE CONVERSION OF THE ENTIRE ROMAN EMPIRE,

          So if a religion is popular, it must be true? Only the supernatural can explain it?

          TO ME, THE BASE LINE OF ANY DISCUSSION OF CHRISTIANITY IS TO AGREE THAT JESUS EXISTED…

          OK. Doesn’t get us to anything supernatural, though.

          I MUST RELY ON FAITH

          OK. Not much of an apologetic.

          I SIMPLY CANNOT BELIEVE THE AUTHORS OF THIS MESSAGE ARE SUCH BLATANT LIARS.

          Who said they were?? There are reasons besides lying for something false being written on parchment. Novels are false. Instructive parables or fables are false. Legends are false. No one is a liar here.

          THE BEST EVIDENCE FOR GOD IS THE FACT THAT WE ARE DISCUSSING HIS EXISTENCE

          Is that how it works? So if we change to discussing Thor or Quetzalcoatl, that’ll make them exist?

          THE AGE OF THE GOSPELS IS IN ITSELF IRRELEVANT.

          If the goal is to find out if it’s true, whether it was written yesterday in Modern English or 2000 years ago in Greek, it makes a huge difference.

          THERE ARE MUCH OLDER BOOKS WHOSE AUTHENTICITY AND RELIABILITY IS UNQUESTIONED. FOR EXAMPLE, BOOKS WRITTEN BY THE GREEK PHILOSOPHERS.

          Ever wonder why that is? Probably because they don’t make supernatural claims.

          HERE ARE SOME ARGUMENTS I FOUND ON THE WEB AFTER A 30 SECONDS SEARCH:

          I said good arguments. 30 seconds of web surfing isn’t likely to give you something that I haven’t heard of and slapped silly already.

          Spend a few minutes searching on this blog for rebuttals.

          THIS WEB PAGE “THE HISTORICAL RELIABILITY OF THE GOSPELS” DOES A GOOD JOB AT SUMMARIZING THE ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF THE GOSPELS’ AUTHENTICITY.

          So instead of responding to my argument, you just ignore it and offer another that you prefer in its place? Are you afraid that actually engaging with a disbeliever will rock your boat of faith?

          I ASKED “WHERE IS THE INCONSISTENCY”. YOU ARE ANSWERING WITH ANOTHER QUESTION.

          Yes, a question with a trivial answer (that should answer your question). Since this is too difficult, Luke says that Jesus ascended in one day, but Acts says 40 days.

          THEN OUR EXISTENCE IS JUST STUPID LUCK,

          Does this outlook trouble you? You’d be driven to suicide unless you can be assured that your life is part of God’s Fabulous Plan®? You can’t figure out a reason to live; you’ve got to have it pre-digested and handed to you?

          And Pascal’s Wager is ineffective. It applies to the Christian as much as the atheist.

          EITHER THE UNIVERSE ALWAYS EXISTED, OR IT WAS CREATED BY GOD WHO ALWAYS EXISTED. BOTH OPTIONS SEEM ALMOST EQUALLY ABSURD, BUT I PREFER GOD, IF IT WERE ONLY BECAUSE THAT IS MORE OPTIMISTIC

          So you’re a physicist now? Having a Big Brother to look out for us might sound nice, but I’d prefer to follow the evidence instead of whatever religion makes me feel best.

        • Pofarmer

          “HERE HERE WE HAVE MULTIPLE AUTHORS, AND HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL
          FACT ABOUT THE PERSECUTIONS, THE CONVERSION OF THE ENTIRE ROMAN EMPIRE,”

          Before Constantine converted, Christianity in the early Roman Empire was relatively small, suggested at about 5% of those in the empire. Probably about right for 300 odd years. After Constantine converted, Christian conversion was forced, with the tip of a spear, so I don’t think that’s a fair argument.

  • Greg G.

    “Paul states that he never met Jesus, he saw him in a dream on the way to Damascus.”

    Paul never says that. That story is in Acts. It’s a dramatization. I think it’s based on a story from Euripides, IIRC.

    “In all of his letters, Paul rarely quotes Jesus, or talk about what he looked like or what he did.”

    Paul never quotes Jesus. Neither do any of the epistles. None of the epistles ever mention any teachings, a ministry or an anecdote. They quote the OT a lot, even when their argument would be much stronger with a quote from Jesus. They never say anything about Jesus that doesn’t come from the OT.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Greg:

      None of the epistles ever mention any teachings, a ministry or an anecdote.

      Or healings or parables or driving out evil spirits or Great Commission or indeed Jesus performing any miracles at all. It’s almost like the epistles and the gospels are talking about two different guys.

      • Greg G.

        Yes, at least two. Somebody came up with the sayings and it could have been someone named Jesus. The Jesus from Mark 13 could have been Jesus son of Ananus that Josephus talked about. The Jesus in the epistles wasn’t either of them.

        Jesus in Mark was reluctant. Jesus in Luke couldn’t wait to be crucified and forgive all involved. Jesus in John was the Logos who did things simply to fulfill prophecies. Jesus in Matthew seems more Hebrew than Galilean. Then there’s the Jesus in Revelation, who is a completely different animal.

  • Greg G.

    “The only mention is that he met James, the brother of Jesus. But the word brother can be interpreted as a religious title, rather than his blood brother. ”

    I’ve concluded that Paul was being sarcastic. In Galatians 5:12, he says that he wishes the agitators (thats is the group who believes in circumcision, namely Peter and James) would go the whole way and emasculate themselves. In chapter 2, he mentions that James sent two men to Antioch. In Galatians 1:1, instead of a normal greeting, he says he was sent by the Lord Jesus but not by men or a man. So in 1:19, he’s sarcastically comparing the man who sends men with the person Paul claims sends him.

  • Timothy Carroll

    I see where your coming from in all this. I will not be able to convince you this in this respect, seeing as how you reject the “historical evidences” of Christianity. Let me appeal to you from a different perspective-if I may?

    May we consider there are either of two ultimate origins of the universe? 1. God or 2. No God. Do you agree?

    • MNb

      Yes. Now there are two options for your god. 1. Your god can be empirically observed or 2. Your god can’t be empirically observed. Do you agree?
      If you choose 1 we would like to know how.
      If you choose 2 we have again two options: 1. Your god is a material being or 2. Your god is an immaterial being. Do you agree?
      If you choose 1 we’re back at the first choice as any material entitiy can be epirically observed. If you again choose 2 I’d like to know: how is an immaterial being that can’t be empirically observed supposed to intervene with Earthly business? Which means does he use? Which procedures does he follow?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        how is an immaterial being that can’t be empirically observed supposed to intervene with Earthly business?

        More important: why would you even care? There’s an immaterial being for whom we have no evidence and who changes our reality in no perceptible way. Who would waste their time worrying about such a thing?

        • Timothy Carroll

          How are immaterial laws of logic that cannot be empirically observed to be considered real in a “material only” universe?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What laws are we talking about that can’t be empirically observed? And who would care about such irrelevant laws?

        • Timothy Carroll

          Laws of logic

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We test the laws of logic continually. They work. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t use them.

        • Timothy Carroll

          But whether you were here or not here the laws of logic would still be the laws of logic. The problem still exists that the atheist/materialist cannot explain where invisible, unchanging, absolute laws come from in a material only universe. No humans do no define them. No thy did not originate out of nothing. No they are not voted upon or agreed upon by men. The laws of logic are a mere reflection of One who is not only logical Himself but is all powerful, all knowing, and in all places at all times. This is the God of Christian Theism.

        • Timothy Carroll

          That btw is not my random arbitrary claim. It is from the mouth of God Himself when He says, “In the beginning God created…”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “God Himself”? No, you’ve just got a book that says stuff, like all those other religious books in which you don’t believe.

          I can read about the marvelous Land of Oz, but that doesn’t mean that it exists.

        • Timothy Carroll

          The Book of all books: It’s God’s Word to man. If you do not accept Him at His Word then you follow in the footsteps of Adam and Eve.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, so you’ve made clear. Why believe this nutty ancient book instead of any other nutty ancient book? Just because you say so?

        • Timothy Carroll

          No Bob, because God has said so. Let me ask you. If I appealed to some other source to validate God’s existence wouldn’t that source then have more authority than the one I’m aiming to prove?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No Bob, because God has said so.

          Theology. Useless.

          Give me evidence.

          If I appealed to some other source to validate God’s existence wouldn’t that source then have more authority than the one I’m aiming to prove?

          The Bible and your handwaving about God has absolutely zero authority. You couldn’t have less authority if you tried. You’re at the bottom.

          Does God exist? Then he made me with a brain that demands evidence. (Don’t like that? Blame God.)

          Wouldn’t it be rude of me to take God’s most previous gift of reason and flush it down the toilet by simply accepting your blather without evidence? I wouldn’t do that to God. So I’ll demand evidence.

          You’ve got none.

        • Timothy Carroll

          I reason also. I live by faith. You live by faith. We place our faith (belief) in different objects.

          I’ll review the rest of your posts and comments when I have more time. I have to hit the dream world.

          I did not intend to be mean spirited toward you. Forgive me if you thought that. Intellectual grit is needed in our day and age. But I aim to remain respectful in all ways that I can.
          We both are passionate about what we believe and that I appreciate about you Bob.
          I look forward to chatting some more with you later.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You have been civil. And that’s saying something, because some of my Christian antagonists have been quite obnoxious.

          I appreciate your time, but there’s not much point in continuing if all you have is theology and platitudes.

          Surely you are sympathetic to my position–you would laugh at the Muslim who did nothing but earnestly quote bits of the Koran telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. Since you give the Koran no weight, why would you care?

        • Timothy Carroll

          There is a vast difference between the Koran and the Bible. Between the Bible and all other supposed divine books, there is no comparison. The Bible is distinct in many ways as unique and set apart from other books. For 1 it was written by Godthrough 40 authors on 3 continents in 3 languages and over the period of 1,600 years. It is impossible that men simply made up the Bible. It is a book that brings glory to God not proud men. It is abook that discredits men if anything.
          I could go on for days about the uniqueness of scripture. But you probably have heard it before.

          The real bottom line is that God must grant you the revelation of Himself and of scriptural truth. 1 Corinthians 2:7, 10, 13-16 explains that God must reveal truth to you. You will not figure it out on your own. Evidence will not change your mind either. You need God to reveal truth to you. “But God has revealed it to us by His spirit”(1Cor 2:10)
          Bob, Would you desire to know God personally?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          For 1 it was written by Godthrough 40 authors on 3 continents in 3 languages and over the period of 1,600 years. It is impossible that men simply made up the Bible. It is a book that brings glory to God not proud men.

          Timothy, before you post a comment, you need to think about who you’re talking to. We’ve been over this many times. You say that it was written by God, and I laugh at you. That’s how it works. If you want more of the same, keep making unsubstantiated claims. I already understand your theology and don’t care anymore. If you don’t have evidence, you can’t sit at the adults’ table, sorry.

          I could go on for days about the uniqueness of scripture. But you probably have heard it before.

          At this point, I seriously don’t care.

          The real bottom line is that God must grant you the revelation of Himself and of scriptural truth.

          And that makes sense to you? I roast in hell for eternity because God couldn’t be bothered to give me the evidence or knowledge or experience that he knows I need?

          Kinda makes him a sadistic jerk, doesn’t it?

          Bob, Would you desire to know God personally?

          Not particularly. I’ve read about him.

        • Paul

          but you said earlier you think he knows already and is replaceing gods truth with a lie as Paul said bow you are admitting that he can’t knwo unless god makes him no but then there is ther question what if amen ra makes me “know” or rather believe he is the actual god.. as a side note I too would like to commend you on staying civil which seems to be quite hard for most religious fokes and in truth anyone who is passionate about their topic… so well done and it was real nice to see someone conduct themselves in such a manner. Peace.

        • Paul

          i do apologise for the many spelling mistake in my above post also :S haha

        • MNb

          Reason consists of deduction and induction, not faith. I don’t live by faith. I live by some metaphysical assumptions, sure, but I do so because they work. Here are two of them:
          1. Science works. You accept this as soon as you turn your computer on.
          2. When sciencie conflicts with philosophy and/or theology science wins. Always and everywhere.

          Thanks to science I don’t have to believe anything. I can accept things, but they are not faith based.

          “I reason also. I live by faith.”
          Hence you’re contradicting yourself.

        • Timothy Carroll

          How does reason contradict faith? Reasn presupposes faith. Faith is belief not something else. We cant even agree on terminology the we’ll never get anywhere.
          You say reason consists of deduction and induction. Do you believe in this? Then you have faith.
          My challenge once we get past these elementary kid games and the failure to admit one’s belief in something(faith) is ask how you account for induction in godless universe? How do you know the toothpaste will come out of the tube next time you squeeze it?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We cant even agree on terminology the we’ll never get anywhere.

          Out here in the real world, many of us define faith as belief despite a lack of evidence or even in the face of contradictory evidence. We define trust as a belief well-supported by evidence.

          We know that deduction and induction work because we test them. That’s evidence.

          You can use faith, or you can use reason. They’re two different paths. The nice thing about faith is that you can come to whatever conclusion you want to. (Those of us here in the real world will say that that’s a bad thing, however.)

          How do you know the toothpaste will come out of the tube next time you squeeze it?

          And you know that in a godless universe it won’t?? How do you know? Have you been to one?

        • MNb

          God has given the Holy Bible and the Holy Bible says your god exists. You really love circular arguments. They still don’t prove anything.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          1. Your argument is a deist one. If I believed it, it no more points to the Christian god than it points to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

          2. You haven’t shown that the laws of logic are surprising. That is, why wouldn’t a godless universe have the same laws of logic that we do? Why imagine that a god is required to hold them up or make them happen? You’re making a remarkable claim and must provide evidence of this.

          3. You say that I can’t explain where the laws come from. Right. Neither can you. Saying, “God dun it!! :-)” does nothing to convince anyone that it’s true. Show that your god exists and perhaps we’ll have cause to believe it.

          I’ve written lots more about the Transcendental Argument here.

        • Paul

          or is it the god of muslims koran?

        • Timothy Carroll

          We do not “test” the laws of logic. Laws are not conventions of men. They are not material in nature. They are not observable to the senses. Laws themselves defy evolutionary theory completely due to many factors. Evolution is based upon materialism and laws are not material. At least my explanation is not “I don’t know”. I do know and believe. I think you know as well but choose not to believe-or rather choose to believe otherwise. Paul calls this “exchanging the truth of God for a lie
          and worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator”.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We do not “test” the laws of logic.

          No? Name me a law of logic that we can’t test.

          Laws are not conventions of men.

          This is splitting hairs, I’ll admit, but laws are indeed invented by men. The Law of Gravity didn’t exist before Newton wrote it down. However, gravity did, of course.

          I take it that you reject evolution? How does that work, assuming that you’re not a biologist?

          At least my explanation is not “I don’t know”.

          I don’t know lots of stuff. Ditto science.

          Why—is there a problem with not knowing?

          I do know and believe.

          I know that sugar dissolves in water. With the right materials, I can show you in a few seconds.

          And yet we might have repeated hours-long discussions over years and you might never convince me. That’s an odd kind of knowing that you can’t demonstrate to someone else.

          I think you know as well but choose not to believe

          Ri-i-i-ight. I’m actually a Christian and know that God exists, but I’m just too proud to bend the knee. Or I don’t want to give up my raping and pillaging. Or I like the taste of baby too much.

          How do other atheists respond when you level that charge against them? About as snarky and obnoxious as me, I’m guessing?

          Paul calls this “exchanging the truth of God for a lie

          Wow. Who cares what Paul says? Seriously—I’m an atheist. You know that, right? I’m already pretty familiar with Christianity. Theology won’t convince me—I want evidence.

          You got nuthin’, right?

        • Timothy Carroll

          The demons believe in God and tremble. I never said you were a Christian. But you are in the image of God. And you are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.
          God doesn’t believe in atheism.
          Also, the Bible is not God’s word of “evidences”. As if He must provide evidence of His own
          Authority. Who are you to talk back to God?
          I try to remain peaceable in speech but you speak with the greatest arrogance toward the God you profess doesn’t exist.
          You do not have an intellectual problem. You have a moral problem.
          You do not lack evidence. You lack humility.
          And yes I reject macroevolution as unproven theory. Don’t bother with the evidence because there is not one fossil.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The demons believe in God and tremble.

          The demons are pretend, too.

          I never said you were a Christian.

          But didn’t you say that I already believe in everything a Christian believes in—God exists, Jesus died for my sins, and all that?

          God doesn’t believe in atheism.

          Snap! Ouch, man, you got me there!

          (When you get the chance, let me know how that ties into our conversation.)

          Who are you to talk back to God?

          I have no problem talking back to imaginary beings. How about you? You wouldn’t sass Quetzalcoatl? You wouldn’t question Zeus?

          I try to remain peaceable in speech but you speak with the greatest arrogance toward the God you profess doesn’t exist.

          Yes, I am getting a bit obnoxious. That happens when I demand evidence over and over and over and over, and you refuse to even acknowledge the demand but just give me more pointless theology.

          You do not have an intellectual problem. You have a moral problem.

          The problem is yours: you have no evidence.

          And where did morality come into it? I suppose you’re going to nag me about my baby-eating habit?

          You do not lack evidence. You lack humility

          That’s what I tell people who disbelieve in the Invisible Pink Unicorn. It never sways them, unfortunately—I’m doing something wrong …

        • James Crowley

          You’re an idiot

        • Timothy Carroll

          Thanks James.

        • Timothy Carroll

          What do you mean by “test”? Can you test the law of Identity? I mean test it in a labratory using material instruments. I do not mean observe something that has identity. I mean test the “law itself”.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The Law of Identity says, “each thing is the same with itself and different from another.”

          I just checked that law using the stapler on my desk. Yep, the stapler is the same as itself and isn’t something else.

          Would you like me to test it against something else?

        • MNb

          “laws are not material.”
          How do you know? Which meaning do you even have? Without paper and inkt – very material things – you and I wouldn’t even have known about such laws. Without brains – also very material – no human being would ever have thought them up.
          You’re proving dualism by assuming dualism. You are aware that a circular argument is a logical fallacy, aren’t you?

        • Timothy Carroll

          Can you see, taste, touch, hear, or smell a “law”? Can you buy a “law of logic” in the produce department?

          You speak of “brains”. Sure a brain is material, but the thoughts that comprise the mind of a man are not contained in the physical brain. Thoughts are immaterial as well. Plato had no answer for the dualist problem and atheists still do not. They say, I dont know.
          Similarily, Bill Nye answered the question “How does consciousness come from matter?”, in saying, “I dont know”. The champion “science guy” doesnt know? But somehow he knows that God does not exist?
          I am not aiming at dualism. I would defend the idea that without God you cannot give an account of anything in a material only universe or a dualistic universe

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I don’t see much of a puzzle that demands an answer–certainly nothing that keeps me awake at night.

          You seem to have a low impression of “I don’t know,” but that’s what highlights problems within science.

          You don’t know either, but your hubris convinces you that you’ve got it all figured out. Perhaps you’ll have to answer to God for that.

        • MNb

          Yes, I have seen many laws written down on paper.
          Have you ever bought air in the produce department? According to your silly logic that is not material either.
          I do have an answer for the dualist problem: it’s BS. Everything is matter/energy.
          You’re defending the god of the gaps: Nye doesn’t know, hence god. If you were consequent, which you undoubtedly aren’t, you also argue that god is responsible for superconductivity at relatively high temperatures. We don’t know that one either.
          Now I have a question for you. Have you ever seen, tasted, touched, heard or smelled a law detached from a brain or any other material source? Yes? Because of your supernatural abilities? Perhaps you are telepathic? Tell me then, how can I check?

      • Timothy Carroll

        Is empirical evidence your test of truth and of what is real?

        • MNb

          Truth is for me a meaningless word. Empirical evidence is the scientific test of what is wrong, incorrect.
          By the way it’s showing bad manners to ask a question but not answering questions.
          So I repeat them:
          1. Can your god be empirically observed or not?
          2. Is your god an material entity or a immaterial one?

          I do care about these questions because I think all possible answers show that theism is meaningless (this in answer to BobS, who ironically more or less confirms this).

        • Timothy Carroll

          Im not concerned with the word itself, truth. Im concerned with the concept and reality of truth. What is truth? The reason I ask is not to avoid your original question but to demonstrate the underlying presuppositions that go before your empirical testing method. We’re not coming to this discussion neutral and with no presuppositions. You use laws of logic in order to make sense out of empirical data and evidence. Where do the invisible, abstract, absolute, unchanging laws of logic come from in your
          empirical and material only universe?
          1. God is Spirit so no He cannot be empirically observed. But neither can laws of logic be empirically verified. Thus, the test you want to force upon God does not work.
          2. My God is an immaterial being. Though He defies the laws of Naturalism by appearing in the physical body of Jesus, the Son of God as well. God can defy nature if He so chooses. He is God. But by strict definition(John 4:24) God is Spirit.
          Again, Where do the invisible, abstract, absolute, unchanging laws of logic come from in your empirical universe?

        • MNb

          Thanks. I always like clarifications like this as it makes communication a lot easier.

          “Where do the invisible, abstract, absolute, unchanging laws of logic come from in your empirical and material only universe?”
          They are formulated by humans to make sense of that material only universe. Here’s the take of an atheist mathematician:

          http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2013/12/13/in-what-sense-do-mathematical-objects-exist/
          http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2013/12/16/tegmarks-mathematcial-universe-hypothesis/

          I largely agree.

          “But neither can laws of logic be empirically verified.”
          In a direct, concrete sense no. On a general level yes. These laws of logic enable us to formulate coherent and consistent theories that accurately describe what we observe. They are a necessary but not sufficient condition for scientists to reach consensus, something religion never has achieved (ask unbaptized Papua’s from New Guinea if you doubt this).

          “God can defy nature if He so chooses.”
          The whimsical, illogical god. That cries out for explanation, something you can’t provide by definition.

          “Thus, the test you want to force upon God does not work.”
          That’s a non-sequitur and one you notably contradict yourself when you write “god can defy nature if he so chooses.” If he does so you have to explain how he did it, which means he used and which procedures he followed.

          “to demonstrate the underlying presuppositions”
          I’m aware of them.

          1. Science works.
          2. When science conflicts with theology science wins.

          (the list is possibly not complete, but I’m not very interested in a technical philosophical debate)
          Sure these assumptions are not proven. They enabled mankind to change the world looks like in an unprecedented way within 200 years, something your christian god couldn’t pull of within say 1500 years (neither could any other religion).
          The fact that these two assumptions are unproven means one thing, but doesn’t mean another thing.

          1. It is actually an advantage, because it enables us to keep an eye open for other possible objective methods we don’t know yet (other than deduction and induction).
          2. It does not mean that your assumptions are as valid as the scientific ones. You use only deduction as you just have written yourself:

          “no He cannot be empirically observed”
          This explains why science works and religion doesn’t. The conclusions reached by deduction alone never can be stronger than the assumptions they rest on. See Euclides’ geometry for a crystal clear example.
          This also explains why natural theology has become popular again since about 1970; intelligent apologists want to jump on the bandwagon that keeps on rolling thanks to science, to earn some credibility.
          The attempt runs into all kind of problems though, many of which you will be familiar with and which I’ll save for another time.

        • Timothy Carroll

          No, they are not formed by humans. Laws of logic would exist whether humans were here or not.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Newton’s Law of Gravitation did not exist before Newton. Gravity did, but the law didn’t.

          I would say: logic would exist whether humans were here or not.

          A small matter, perhaps.

        • MNb

          If there are no intelligent beings like Homo Sapiens to formulate the laws of logic there is nobody who can know of these laws exist – even if logic exists. It’s even meaningless to say that gravity exists without intelligent beings studying this abstract concept – the only thing making sense is things falling downward, not upward.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Where do the invisible, abstract, absolute, unchanging laws of logic come from in your empirical universe?

          You ask as if this is some sort of puzzle. Show us the puzzle: show us that we’d expect something radically different from what we have in our reality if God didn’t exist. Why are our laws of logic not just properties of any reality?

          Can something be a rock and not-a-rock at the same time? That’s a crazy concept in our reality. I’m guessing that it’s a crazy concept in any reality. Show otherwise.

          1. God is Spirit so no He cannot be empirically observed. But neither can laws of logic.

          If God plays hide and seek, he’ll always win. If, on the other hand, he does miracles—regrowing limbs or whatever—we’d see that, at least in principle. A God that is inherently unobservable is a God that plays no role in our reality and is therefore irrelevant and useless.

          We test the fundamental axioms all the time.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      you reject the “historical evidences” of Christianity.

      I’m happy to accept good evidence. I just haven’t seen any. Furthermore, I haven’t seen any that you would conceivably accept if it came from another religion.

      • Timothy Carroll

        What historical evidence would be acceptable to you?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nothing much comes to mind. The best I can come up with is: a whole lot more than I’ve seen so far. The claims are insanely large, and the evidence from history is inherently flimsy. I’ve written many posts about this sort of thing. Browse around if you’re curious.

          But let my try another answer: I might accept the same caliber of evidence that you would accept from another religion.

        • MNb

          Two, preferably more independent sources do pretty well.
          The correct methodology for historical events is basically the same as for any other scientific discipline. You have a set of empirical data (ie written sources and archaeology) and must formulate a theory that covers them all and as economically possible, ie the less assumptions the better. Moreover using knowledge from other disciplines is recommended as it increases coherence and consistence.

      • faith

        That makes me laugh thrreare plenty!

        Even sources that try to discredit jesus if its a conspiracy why would any historian go against the very evidnece he is secretly propagating?

        • 90Lew90

          You’re attempt at stringing a sentence made me laugh just now. Ah laughter, it’s good for the soul.

  • Quillen

    funny how Atheists adamantly oppose God and yet without Him, they have no belief system at all…just saying…the other thing I might add is this: All other world religions seem to on some level be socially accepted, it is always Jesus Christ who is at the center of controversy. Doesn’t it make sense that there is something to that? If it were all just a “Legend”, “Myth”, “Hoax” etc. after 2,000+ years certainly it would have faded in intensity. Or could it be that it is “Divine Truth” and satan (the god of this world) wants to keep the truth hidden from the hearts of men? My final thought after reading through some of this page is this: No man can ever intellectualize or comprehend an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God. The very idea of Him being God suggests that His ways and wisdom are higher, superior to ours. If we could rationalize Him in our finite minds, then He would be on our level; however, that is not the case. All of us, as humanity are given a choice, free will to choose, believe or not, as for me, I choose to believe…It also appears that you are trying to Quantify a Spiritual Being with Scientific Process which is ridiculous, as God is not limited to our finite methods of measurement or understanding…it would be like trying to use a ruler to measure sound waves…

    • hector

      What’s funny is that you wrote this:

      … and yet without Him, they [atheists] have no belief system at all…

      and thought it made sense. Just saying.

      The very idea of Him being God suggests that His ways and wisdom are higher, superior to ours.

      More nonsense. All this means is that you have an idea that there is a god whose ways and wisdom are superior to ours. Prove that this god is a reality and not just an idea.

      The rest is just mumbo jumbo and I couldn’t be bothered to respond to it.

    • MNb

      I oppose your god as much as I oppose the tooth fairy. Not.
      Nice to learn you’re a polytheist.
      I do oppose your silly ideas though.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Funny how Atheists adamantly oppose God and yet without Him, they have no belief system at all

      Is that like how non-Pastafarians oppose the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

      All other world religions seem to on some level be socially accepted, it is always Jesus Christ who is at the center of controversy.

      Dang! Why are people always hassling Christians? Must be tough being #1.

      If it were all just a “Legend”, “Myth”, “Hoax” etc. after 2,000+ years certainly it would have faded in intensity.

      Curiously, that Jesus was a legend is indeed what I think explains the facts far better than the supernatural explanation. You’ll have to let me know that works. And how all the other religions (that, since Christianity is correct, must be incorrect) haven’t faded in intensity.

      Or could it be that it is “Divine Truth” and satan (the god of this world) wants to keep the truth hidden from the hearts of men?

      Yeah, could be, I guess. That’s an insanely unlikely option, seems to me. Some evidence would help show that you have an argument.

      The very idea of Him being God suggests that His ways and wisdom are higher, superior to ours.

      Let’s follow the evidence. When the evidence shows that God is likely, then we can worry about what God must be thinking. Without that, the God hypothesis is unlikely.

      I choose to believe

      How does that work? Can you believe in whatever you want? Believe in leprechauns and show us how that works?

      It also appears that you are trying to Quantify a Spiritual Being with Scientific Process which is ridiculous, as God is not limited to our finite methods of measurement or understanding…it would be like trying to use a ruler to measure sound waves…

      “God enters our world” is a claim that is, in theory, scientifically testable.

  • CC

    You should all read, “Jesus Myth – The Case Against
    Historical Christ by R. G. Price”. It’s a very well researched article that I found. Here’s the URL :

    http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_history.htm

    Seriously helpful!

  • CC

    Why argue about it Quillen?

    If the various separate writings the church grouped together and calls The Bible truly are divinely inspired and all the other early christian writings they didn’t include aren’t.

    And if God makes no mistakes so everything included is meant to be there then Mark 16 is literally true and Christians can prove the existence of God by handling snakes, drinking poison and not being hurt, healing the sick with a touch and REALLY speaking in tongues.

    Don’t claim it’s just the apostles who should be able to, it’s very clearly stated that all believers should be able to.

    Also, according to your religion, if you had even faith as small as a mustard seed you should be able to move mountains.

    Clearly, if Jesus was real, then there are no real believers!

  • CC

    Hi Timothy Carroll,

    You seem to need very badly to justify your belief in the christian god by arguing with those who don’t believe. I used to be a christian and felt angry when I saw people stating their disbelief.

    Maybe you need to ask your self why. If you believe and truly believe then you shouldn’t need to prove it. You may think it is your duty to tell other people about your god but you must realize that trying to prove it to people who because of their logic can not be made to believe is pointless.

    Why not explore the reasons why this makes you so angry. Are you questioning your faith? Even from a religious point of view, this is not a bad thing. If your faith is justified then looking more into it should make it stronger, right?

    How often have you read The Bible from cover to cover without any study guides to tell you what to think? How many different translations have you read? I’m assuming that you cannot read any of the original languages. Have you read any of the ancient christian or Jewish books that the various compilers chose to leave out? Available to be read online here;

    http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/
    and here;
    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

    Some of these were even in the original King James Version. Which shows how recent our version of Christianity really is.

    If you believe in the new testament then you must believe in the old testament. So why do you think the Jews are wrong and the Christians right? Have you looked into the Jewish view? Try downloading and listening to the recordings on this site for free, you can hear a real Rabbi. Start with the one titled “How do Missionaries Paint Jesus into the Jewish Scriptures?”;

    http://outreachjudaism.org/lets-get-biblical-audio-series/

    Have you read many books from christian writers from different eras? Milton’s Paradise Lost is pretty sickening and Martin Luther was so anti-Semitic he wrote at least two books about how evil he thought the Jews were.

    I think if more Christians read their bibles all the way through without employing double think tactics like in George Orwell’s 1984 they would never ever say that this god is a loving god. I have met several nicer humans.

    Random example of God’s kindness:
    Numbers 31
    7 And they warred against the Midianites, AS THE LORD COMMANDED MOSES; and they SLEW ALL THE MALES.
    8 And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.
    9 AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL TOOK ALL THE WOMEN OF MIDIAN CAPTIVES , AND THEIR LITTLE ONES, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.
    10 And they BURNT ALL THEIR CITIES wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.
    11 And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.
    12 And THEY BROUGHT THE CAPTIVES, AND THE PREY, AND THE SPOIL, UNTO MOSES, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.
    13 And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.
    14 AND MOSES WAS WROTH WITH THE OFFICERS OF THE HOST, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
    15 And Moses said unto them, HAVE YE SAVED ALL THE WOMEN ALIVE ?
    16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.
    17 Now therefore KILL EVERY MALE AMONG THE LITTLE ONES, AND KILL EVERY WOMAN THAT HATH KNOWN MAN BY LYING WITH HIM.
    18 BUT ALL THE WOMEN CHILDREN, THAT HAVE NOT KNOWN A MAN BY LYING WITH HIM, KEEP ALIVE FOR YOURSELVES.

    The capitalizations are mine. Try reading just those parts together after you’ve read the whole thing.

    This story, to me, seems like something some men would write to justify taking what they want from their neighbours rather than what a kind, all knowing, all powerful being would order them to do. Very self serving.

  • Greg G.

    That’s dumb. First, Jesus doesn’t sail to meet the man with the demons. He meets him by accident after crossing the lake.

    He didn’t carry the disciples across the lake on his back. He took a boat. Jesus takes a boat many times in Mark. The only places he took a boat in Matthew and Luke are where they copied Mark. There are no other accounts of Jesus traveled by boat. When he does take a boat, there tends to be an incident similar to one in The Odyssey.

    Mark was Jewish and probably couldn’t care less about “Homer references”. Get real.

    Mark could read and write the Greek language. Homer’s writings were considered the ideal for writing. It is ridiculous to think Mark did not read Homer or learn to write by emulating Homer’s work.

    Mark displays ignorance of Jewish customs. For example, Mark 10:12 talks about a wife divorcing her husband. That was Roman law, not Jewish law.

    Lewis was the chair of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge University.
    “I
    have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends and myths
    all my life. I know what they are like. I know none of them are like
    this.”

    Lewis was biased.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Can I quote someone with a doctorate in theology who says that Jesus didn’t get resurrected? Will that convince you that you’re wrong?

  • Greg G.

    Baloney. First, there wouldn’t be any need for Paul and the other epistle writers to write biographical details of Jesus since that would have already been understood by the church.

    Paul talks about people teaching other Christs. He could have specified the one he was talking about in first century terms. He argues about many points that would have been more effective with a Jesus quote than Old Testament scripture. In 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul says, “we preach Christ crucified”, not that he lived in the first century.

    Epistles are written to people who are already believers, in response to specific issues in the church. In the one case where there were questions about the resurrection in the Corinthian church, Paul stresses the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15.

    The accounts of Paul’s conversion in Acts are melodrama from Euripides. From Paul’s own hand, we can see that he was getting his information from the scriptures that he thought were hidden messages.

    Romans 16:25-26 (NIV)
    25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—

    In 1 Corinthians 15, he uses the same words for himself that he uses for the others. He didn’t think their experiences were any different than his own. In Galatians, he tells us he didn’t learn anything from James or Peter or any man.

    There’s no reflection of Homer’s legends in Mark’s gospel and your other attempt, with the story of the demoniac, is laughable.

    The Cyclops name was Polyphemus, which means “famous” because poly- means “many” and -phemus means “talk about”. Mark has the demoniac say “My name is Legion, for we are many. “The name “Legion” comes from Legio, borrowed from the Latin word for “many soldiers”. The Greek word used for “said” is lego which immediately precedes Legio in the Greek text. He uses the Greek word polys for “many”. Mark is not trying to be coy about his source. He is clearly saying this refers to the Cyclops story in The Odyssey. The Odyssey also had Odysseus’ men turned into pigs by Circe. Though they get turned back into humans, they all drown in the sea. The men escape the Cyclops by clinging on to sheep that take them to the sea. The dialogue is similar to Homer’s in those two stories.

    John is mostly unique, written intentionally by a close disciple of Jesus to purposely supplement the other gospels.

    No it wasn’t. It doesn’t even say it was written by a close disciple. The writer claims it came from someone named John.

    You have no evidence whatsoever of “several preachers named Jesus who came from Galilee”. You’re fantasizing.

    Josephus lists 18 high priests of the temple from Herod’s time to its destruction. Four of them were named “Jesus”: Jesus ben Phiabi, Jesus ben Sec, Jesus ben Damneus and Jesus ben Gamaliel. Here are some people named “Jesus” for Palestine during the Roman era that we have records of: Jesus ben Ananias who was tried by the Romans, Jesus ben Stada who was crucified, Jesus ben Gamala, Jesus ben Pandira, Jesus ben Saphat, Jesus ben Sirach, Jesus ben Thebuth, and some versions of Matthew say that Barabbas was named Jesus.

    So Jesus was a common name in that area. Many people were crucified by the Romans. Do you really think there was only one person named Jesus crucified?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    there wouldn’t be any need for Paul and the other epistle writers to write biographical details of Jesus since that would have already been understood by the church.

    Paul mentions the resurrection more than a dozen times. Why? Is it possible that he forgot to mention that??

  • Greg G.

    Name what parts of Mark were “embarrassing” to Matthew? Be precise. I don’t believe you can.

    Matthew has about 90% of Mark and about half of that is verbatim. The parts that are changed seem to be for theological reasons. What about the parts he omits? There’s the naked boy who was with Jesus in Gethsemane in Mark 14:51-52.

    Name early apologists who were called “heretics” by later ones. Be precise.

    From the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553:

    IF anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four Holy Synods and [if anyone does not equally anathematize] all those who have held and hold or who in their impiety persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned: let him be anathema.

    Give any proof at all of early Christians who actually wanted to “refute the gospel writers”. Be precise.

    Stupid question. The early Christians would have been too old or too dead to worry about the gospels that were written much later.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    JC:

    Greg has politely taken you to the cleaners and I’m sure will, with pleasure, do it again.

    My suggestion: be a little more cautious in the future before dismissing others’ arguments as “nonsense,” “stupid,” or “dumb.”

  • Greg G.

    All it says is that Jesus took a boat to a given area and met the demoniac there. There is nothing about that being the purpose.

    You don’t know who wrote Mark so you don’t know that he was Jewish. The internal evidence of the writing suggests that he was not Jewish and that he was indifferent to the geography of the area.

    You and Lewis apparently have a religious need for there to be an historical Jesus. I don’t really care whether there was or not. There is no contemporary evidence for him. The extra-biblical evidence does no more than tell us that there were people in the late first century who thought there had been an early first century Jesus but they seem to be too young to actually know that. The earliest writings about Jesus don’t support the idea that he was known to the writers. The gospels are based on Old Testament scripture and the Greek literature of the day. It shows that the story of Jesus was made up.

  • Greg G.

    There’s no other Jesus Christ he could possibly be referring to. Paul’s
    conversion is not “melodrama from Euripedes.” Sheer nonsense. I know
    it’s easy for you to make stuff up out of thin air, but your fantasy is
    fiction.

    Have you ever read an article about how many cliches we use from Shakespeare without realizing it? It was probably the same with the Greeks and Euripides.

    Acts 26:14 (NIV)
    14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

    The “kick against the goads” comes from about 500 years before Acts was written from Euripides The Bacchae. So you have Luke quoting Paul quoting Jesus quoting Euripides quoting Dionysus. Do you think Jesus would come down from heaven and instead of coming up with something original to say, he’s going to quote a Greek god?

    Did you notice that I used the word “probably”? Doesn’t that tell you that my statement is based on probability. I showed that there were many people named Jesus in the area during that time. It is known that many people were crucified during that time. If you understand mathematics, it is more likely that many men named Jesus were crucified than it is that nobody named Jesus was crucified. If you show me strong evidence that there was fewer than two people named Jesus crucified in Palestine during the Roman era, I will change my position.

  • Greg G.

    If he did repeat the gospels stories in his letters, you’d probably be saying he protests too much and that is evidence that the church didn’t know the biography of Christ which you’d say is evidence that he didn’t tell them that initially.

    No, it could be supplemental information about Jesus actually interacting with people in the recent past. Instead it seems that the gospel writers borrowed from Paul, even putting Paul’s argument into Jesus’ mouth.

    Compare Paul’s argument with Peter from Galatians 2 with Mark 7:1-19. If Jesus abolished the food laws, why would Peter change his behavior as if he worried about what James would do? Why would Paul have to explain it to Peter? Why would Barnabas be led astray by Peter’s argument?

    We also find “Abba, father” and “love your neighbor as yourself” in Mark and Galatians. The three main disciples in Mark are the three mentioned in Galatians and they seem to reflect the characterizations from Galatians where James and John are “reputed to be pillars” and ask to sit at either hand when Jesus comes into power while Peter changes his behavior in a wishy-washy way in both.

    So if Mark used Galatians, there is reason to think he borrowed the Last Supper from 1 Corinthians 11 and some eschatology from 1 Thessalonians.

  • Greg G.

    There were no claims that Jesus was recently crucified until four decades after it was supposed to have happened.

    Even the author of Acts didn’t think that was a good argument. In Acts 26, Paul testifies in Agrippa’s court. He calls on the Jews as character witnesses that he is not crazy. Then he starts telling a story about Jesus quoting the Greek god Dionysus. He could have called on certain Jews who knew that the tomb was empty as easily as relying on them for character witness.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    If the Jewish and Roman critics of Christianity could have produced a corpse of Jesus, they certainly would have.

    Pliny the Younger talks about the Christian nuisance in the second century. He might well have liked to have gotten rid of them, but producing a corpse wasn’t an option. Were there other Jewish/Roman critics in the days after the death of Jesus (again, not in the gospel story)?

    That within about 20 years, Paul challenges those who deny the resurrection to do something like that, to ask the 500 eye-witnesses that are still alive, demonstrates his confidence in the historicity of the resurrection.

    … and this rebuts the argument I had in that post how, exactly?

  • Greg G.

    Cite, please.

    Carrier says, “Twice Ehrman says I have a Ph.D. in “classics” (p. 19, 167). In fact, my degrees are in ancient history, with an undergraduate minor in Classics (major in history), and three graduate degrees (M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D.) with four graduate majors (Greco-Roman historiography, philosophy, religion, and a special major on the fall of Rome). One of those, you’ll notice, is in the religions of the Roman empire–which included Christianity (and my study of Christianity featured significantly in my dissertation work).”

    Most historians accept that there was a preacher named Jesus who got crucified. The problem is that the early Epistles don’t mention any preaching, teachings, or anecdotes, even in the Epistles written by his supposed disciples.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    And Robert Price, who has twice as many doctorates as Ehrman, says that Carrier is serious.

    Seems like an odd game to play, to draw conclusions from scholarly opinion, but it sounds like I won this round. Bazinga!

  • Greg G.

    2 Peter is a second century work that draws on the gospels.

  • Greg G.

    You realize that Paul never met Jesus in real life, don’t you? In Galatians, Paul tells us that spending two weeks with Peter and meeting James did not add to his knowledge. How could that be if they had known Jesus? They didn’t know Jesus anymore than Paul did and that was only through reading the scripture of the day. The breaking bread and being betrayed comes from Psalm 41:9. Paul may have got the rest another way.

    Plutarch wrote a biography of Pompey, who lived in the mid first century BC. He talks about the pirates of Cilicia who followed Mithras and that their rituals were still practiced “to this day” which would be the mid first century. Justin Martyr wrote in the 2nd century that the Mithras cult copied the Eucharist rituals from the Jesus cult. So we know that the Mithrians and the Christians had similar rituals and some of the Mithrian rituals were practiced a 100 years before in and around Cilicia. Cilicia was a major city in Tarsus. That is where Paul of Tarsus came from. In Galatians, he tells us that he went to Cilicia after his conversion. If Paul was persecuting other religions, do you think he specialized in Christians? He may have picked it up from the Mithrians he persecuted while not realizing exactly who or what they were worshiping.

    Paul could not quote Jesus directly as he never heard him speak.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    So your position is, “Lewis said it, I believe it, that settles it”?

    Not convincing. You tell me: what’s wrong with the argument.

  • Greg G.

    You keep quoting that. Lewis was talking about the Gospel of John. The last chapter of John tells about Jesus guessing how many fish were in the net of the fishermen. He said 153 and was correct.

    If you’ve studied geometry, you’ve heard of Pythagoras. There was a legend that he saw some fishermen and bet them he could guess the number of fish in the net if they would release them if he was right. It turns out that he was right.

    The Greeks didn’t know about irrational numbers. They represented fractions as the ratio of two integers. The closest of all their rational numbers to irrational numbers was for the square root of 3, which the Pythagorean cult revered -265 over 153. The symbol of the fish came from two circles that passed through the other’s center. The overlap plus a little extra for the tail made the fish that Christians stick on their cars to this day. The ratio of the length of the line between the circles’ intersections to the radius of the circles, a line that forms a cross in the fish, is the square root of 3. For them, it was 265 divided by 153.

    How could Lewis not see the legend in John 21? He must have been carefully avoiding poems, romances, vision literature, legends and myths that were too close for comfort.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Wrong again. Most atheists trust the scientific consensus. No faith necessary. Where science doesn’t know, most atheists are happy to accept the uncertainty.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    A little less “stupid” and “dumb” would make your arguments stronger. Show that your antagonist is stupid and dumb and trust us to figure that out.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    The Big Bang gave us the universe as it stands today, and what came before is unknown. So how do we get to “God dun it!” from that?

    What’s puzzling about the resurrection of Jesus? It was a story. It’s not believable today. I don’t see what’s left unexplained.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    JC:

    Mark and Matthew likely came before 70 AD as they do not suggest knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem on that date.

    Since you highly respect the guys with the doctorates, know that many disagree with this argument.

    You have no proof that the gospel writers never met Jesus.

    The burden of proof is yours.

    Luke specifically says he researched by interviewing eye-witnesses.

    So therefore we know that it’s true?

    There’s more evidence for Jesus than for anyone else in His life-time.

    Whoa—you don’t want to go there. Historians scrub supernatural claims out of historical accounts—Julius Caesar, Augustus, Alexander. They all had supernatural stories told about them. What does history say about these? That they were all legendary inventions.

    Sure, let’s give the Jesus story to the historians. You won’t like what they do with it.

  • Greg G.

    Mark and Matthew likely came before 70 AD as they do not suggest knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem on that date.

    In Mark 11, Jesus curses an out of season fig tree, then he throws a Temple tantrum. The next day, they see the withered tree. If Jerusalem had already been destroyed, the Romans would want everyone in the Empire to know what happens to a city that causes trouble. Any reader back then would fill in the last part of the syllogism. It would be as fresh in their memories as 9/11 still is.

    You have no proof that the gospel writers never met Jesus. You are simply assuming that based on your faith. The Bible very rarely has physical descriptions of the people recorded in it, like Paul. Luke specifically says he researched by interviewing eye-witnesses.

    The writers of the gospels don’t claim to have met Jesus. Mark uses the omniscient narrator technique but never any first person accounts. Matthew and Luke copy his account. Why would an eyewitness copy the story of a non-eyewitness? The early church fathers guessed at the names for the authors. Luke never says he interviewed anybody. He uses stories from Josephus’ autobiography and applied them to Jesus in Luke and Paul in Acts. That puts Luke in the second century.

    There’s more evidence for Jesus than for anyone else in His life-time.

    Not true. We have zero physical evidence of Jesus’ existence. We have the cornerstone of a building form Caesaria commissioned by Pontius Pilate with his name and title. We have coins with the image of Roman emperors from the first century. We have writings or Philo, Paul, and Pliny the Elder but nothing written by Jesus.
    If you discount the supernatural claims, you have an ordinary teacher but the Epistles contradict that view because they never speak of Jesus being a teacher.

  • Greg G.

    Did Jesus ride one donkey into Jerusalem as in Mark 11 or did he ride two as in Matthew 21? That’s not a difference of perspective. It’s two different stories made up from different understandings of Zechariah 9:9.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    No, the burden of proof is yours. As they purport to have interviewed eyewitnesses (Luke) or imply that they were one (John’s “the disciple whom Jesus loved”) or imply first-hand knowledge, then burden of proof is otherwise.

    Let me get your view straight. You’re saying that if I write some nutty nonsense about leprechauns or Superman or Merlin and put “I saw this myself” at the beginning, then you are obliged to consider it true until you can prove otherwise?

    People are not guilty until proven innocent.

    But stories are natural until proven supernatural.

    It’s Bart Ehrmann who says that there is more evidence for Jesus than for anyone else in his time period.

    ?! As a person! I’ll grant you that! Now: tell me why the supernatural part is worth believing.

    That some historians want to “demythologize” the gospels (that were never really myths in the first place) is an expression of their bias.

    So we must assume all supernatural tales are true first? That’s our starting point?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    “Lewis said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

    Yeah. Got it. C’mon back when you want to engage by providing an actual argument.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    No one here wants to debate the Christ Myth theory except you. Drop it. Move on to supporting an interesting claim.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    So because you’ve never heard of Robert Price (odd for someone as well educated as you–he must’ve written a dozen popular books on Christianity and has a popular podcast), I’m the one who didn’t cite scholarly sources? Yes, I think that’s quite odd. I’d never heard “scholarly sources” defined as “whoever JC likes.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Something does not come from nothing.

    Prove it. Or am I obliged to take your cosmological expertise as gospel?

    What came before “the big bang” is nothing (not “unknown”.)

    Is this the scientific consensus?

    You apparently aren’t curious

    It’s simply a fact that science says “I don’t know” about lots of stuff. So we conclude from this that I’m not curious? How does this follow?

    The resurrection is believable today which is why millions (or billions) of people today believe in it.

    Oh, so it’s a popularity contest? OK—most people in the world think that your worldview is nonsense.

    QED. You lose.

    That you say in your second line that what came before the big bang is “unknown” and then in your last line that you don’t know what is left is unexplainable, shows how out of touch you are with the contradictions in your own belief system.

    That you missed that the first paragraph talks about the Big Bang and the second one talks about the resurrection shows that you’re a waste of time. I’m losing interest in talking to someone too self-centered to be interested in anyone but himself.

  • Greg G.

    Virtual particles come from nothing and they can cause themselves to exist. Why can’t a bunch of them come into existence in a universe-causing configuration? We have evidence for them but no evidence for a god.

    We have found the causes of thousands of things that were attributed to supernatural manipulations but not one of them has turned out to be anything but a natural event.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Do you not realize when you get your ass handed to you? Making an idiot of yourself isn’t winning many souls for Christ.

    Hold on–let me get some popcorn for the next installment of “When Greg Gave John a Thrashing.”

  • Greg G.

    Mark says there will be one colt (singular) and to bring it (singular). Matthew says there will be a mother and a foal (plural) and to bring them (plural). This was done to satisfy a prophecy that the king would come riding a donkey AND a colt. Matthew says they put their cloaks on them (plural) for Jesus to sit on. Mark says there was exactly one donkey. Matthew says there were exactly two donkeys.
    Matthew misunderstood the poetry of Zechariah. It clearly means one donkey.
    Zechariah announces that the following verses are prophecy. So there are 17 verses of prophecy and they have Jesus fulfilling the most trivial of all. What Christians see as fulfilled prophecy are just where the gospel writers had no information so they cherry picked OT verses and made up a story to use them in.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    “No raising from the dead”? Are you totally ignorant?

    No, “no raising of the dead.” To minimize an already serious case of foot-in-mouth disease, I suggest you make sure you know what you’re talking about (to the best of your limited abilities, of course) before you shoot your mouth off.

  • Greg G.

    First, Paul claims to have met Jesus, beginning with Jesus’ appearance to him on the road to Damascus. You’re unthinking rejection of that claim is sheer assumption and bias on your part, an expression of your faith.

    No, Paul never claimed that. Paul wrote in Galatians that he went to Syria after converting and Luke dramatized it into three versions, two of which are contradictory and one where Jesus quotes Dionysus.

    Second, you’ve misrepresented what Paul says in Galatians. He says that Peter and James didn’t change his mind about the gospel, that he didn’t receive it from them. The reason: because he learned it from Jesus Himself, whom Paul claims to have known. Of course, you’ve rejected the parts you’ve arbitrarily chosen to reject in order to draw the picture you’ve decided to draw.

    Please quote chapter and verse where Paul says he knew Jesus as a living person. Have you ever read any of the New Testament?

    .

    In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul specifically quotes the words of Jesus used at the Lord’s Supper, reflecting closely the same words recorded in the gospels. Your citation of a psalm is bogus.

    Paul never met Jesus so he had to have gotten it second hand except he says he never got any second hand knowledge from any man. He says he received it, which could be something he read or dreamed.

    Psalm 41:9 (NIV)
    9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.
    1 Corinthians 11:23 (NIV)
    23f The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,

    I’m sorry this stuff upsets you. Stop listening to apologists and preachers and the truth won’t be so painful to you.

    Do you know what Hellenization means? Alexander the Great brought Greek culture to the four corners of the known world plus opened trade routes into India. The Greek language became the common language in the region. Greek culture affected everybody. The Greeks brought the idea of an afterlife, Hell, and Satan to Palestine.

    Where do you get that Paul was authorized by the Romans to harass Christians? They were still considered Jews.

    Mark was not an observant Jew. He was educated in the Greek system. He incorporated Homer and Euripides into Mark. He incorporated some of Paul’s letters. Most of the miracles he attributed to Jesus are exaggerations of miracles done by Moses, Elijah and Elisha (see Randel Helms).

    Do you actually believe the demoniac story? If it makes you feel better, Mark may have been thinking of Psalm 107 and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army in Exodus, too. But you should read The Odyssey for yourself before pooh-poohing it. Also look at the mass feedings in Mark, the one by Elisha in 1 Kings (I think), and the two feasts Odysseus’ son attends.

  • Greg G.

    Yes, I became aware of the 2 Peter passage recently and have changed my claim to pre-gospel epistles. Have you noticed that you’ve jumped into a 7 month old thread?

    You should pay more attention to people who are open to unmagical explanations. It’s ok to like fantasy but it’s kind of crazy to believe it.

    Have you looked at why most scholars reject both 1 & 2 Peter?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Zech. 9:9 is an example of synonymous parallelism. It does talk about 2 donkeys, but it only means one (that’s how that poetic form worked). Matthew misunderstood and read it to mean two actual donkeys.

    I write more here.

  • Greg G.

    Paul was writing about twenty years after his conversion. Any young people would have been interested in Jesus’ life. Anecdotes would have made his points stronger. Saying that the epistles were written to address certain concerns is Christian excuses.

  • Greg G.

    Acts 26:14.

    Paul was not talking about a first century Jesus. He thinks Jesus was crucified in the mythic past. Since he and the apostles were finding scripture that had always been there but never seen before, they thought it was a sign that the Messiah from the clear prophecies was coming in their lifetime. Well now, that didn’t happen, so some Christians changed the religion.

  • Greg G.

    You probably think I will be in a pickle when I shuffle off these mortal coils to face the Devil Incarnate in the bowels of the earth.

    Did you recognize all four Shakespearean cliches? The “kick against the goads” would be a Greek cliche that the author of Acts probably didn’t realize came from Euripides Bacchae and was used by Dionysus. Acts 26:14 says Jesus spoke Aramaic so why would he translate a Greek cliche?

    Paul did not write any of the stories in Acts. His account is nothing like them. The Acts accounts are for entertainment, not to be believed.

    No credible scholar thinks 2 Peter was written by Peter. It mentions Tartarus which is a part of Hades where special tortures were done in the afterlife. Hades is a Greek idea. You keep saying I exaggerate Hellenization but nearly everything you mention has Greek overtones.

    Read Dennis MacDonald’s book The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark , then you can discuss the topic without being so laughable.

    I know a girl who spoke little English 5 years ago but will graduate with a degree in biochemistry and a goal of becoming a doctor. She has studied English literature and the classics while maintaining her GPA. Her English is still a bit rough. There is no reason Mark could not have been educated in Greek as a second language. I have already pointed out that Mark confuses Roman law with Jewish law or do you wish to argue that Mark accurately portrays Jesus making the error?

    Yes, Paul does claim to get revelation from Jesus. He never claims to have met him. He persecuted a group who worshipped a crucified savior who was dead before Paul met him. The Christians of that time only knew that savior through the scripture, the same way Paul did. He makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 15 by describing their revelations in the same words as his own.

  • Greg G.

    You are only a few decades behind in your understanding of physics. Try reading Lawrence Krauss’ A Universe from Nothing.

  • Greg G.

    Paul writes about the crucifixion and resurrection over and over and over again. Why did he have to go over that so many times yet never discuss anything Jesus did or taught on earth? Why couldn’t he just quote what Jesus said about circumcision or doing works instead of quoting Old Testament verses? Why does the Epistle of James refute Galatians point by point using only Old Testament quotes and never using a quote from Jesus?

    I have shown that Paul never met Jesus. He doesn’t claim to have gotten an audible message from him. Acts is not a trustworthy document. We can see that because of the discrepancies between what it says about Paul and what Paul says about Paul. Paul may have exaggerated and boasted at times, but it’s more reasonable than Acts.

  • Greg G.

    I understand math and two does not equal one. Mark says that there was exactly one donkey. Mark does not say there was more than one donkey. Matthew says there were exactly two donkeys. That is a contradiction.

    Matthew says it was done to fulfill a prophecy and quotes Zechariah 9:9 but he misreads it. The prophecy is that the king would ride a donkey but in the form of a doublet using two different descriptions of one donkey. Matthew screwed it up reading it as two donkeys. If Jesus rode two donkeys, then he didn’t fulfill the prophecy that Matthew insists he did.

    Maybe Jesus rode in on a 40 mule team. If one can mean two, then two could be three, and so on up to forty.

  • Greg G.

    I’ll take your word that Jesus didn’t guess. I haven’t read that chapter in a year or more but the rest clearly comes from the Pythagorean stories.

    I did research the quote and found that Lewis was referring to Bultmann who questioned the Book of John being a true account.

    Do you know that the “cast the first stone” story is not in the oldest versions of John? It was added a few centuries later.

  • Greg G.

    I wouldn’t say I had John 21 totally wrong. I forgot one detail.

    Here is a pdf of Life of Pythagoras. See page 17, the beginning of Chapter VIII for the fish story. The intersecting circles explanation can be found here.

    Your Google-fu needs work.

  • Greg G.

    Paul says he “received it from the Lord”. He does not say how he received it but we can be sure he didn’t receive it audibly as he never participated in any rituals with the early Christians nor does he ever claim to have met a living Jesus.

    You are clutching a straw.

  • Greg G.

    I already told you that Mark 10:12 has Jesus talking about a woman divorcing her husband. This was Roman law, not Jewish law. Was Mark wrong about that and made up a story of Jesus saying that or is he accurately portraying Jesus making that mistake?

    Mark quotes the Septuagint and not the Hebrew scriptures.

    Mark 2:26 has Jesus talking about David and his companions eating the consecrated bread from the altar. This is from 1 Samuel 21 but David was lying about having other men and being on a secret mission for the king. He was actually running away and the king killed the priests for aiding David. Was mark quoting Jesus accurately being wrong or was he just not Jewish enough to understand the whole story?

    Mark 7:10 has Jesus quoting the ten commandments as if Moses gave them instead of God. Matthew 15: 4 corrects him.

    Mark 9:4 mentions “Elijah and Moses”. Would a real Jew do that? Moses would have pre-eminance over Elijah. Matthew 17:3 reverses them.

    Mark 10:19 Mark has Jesus naming the commandments. He includes “thou shalt not defraud”. Which commandment is that? Was that Jesus’ mistake or Mark’s? Matthew 19:18-20 omits that one and adds the one from Mark 12:31.

    Mark 14:10 says they sacrificed the Passover on the first day of unleavened bread. The sacrifice happens the day before. Matthew 26:17 recognized the problem and omitted it.
    The following verse has a man carrying a pitcher of water. That was women’s work so Matthew omits it.

    Mark 15:42 says evening had come and it was the day before the sabbath. The sabbath starts at the beginning of the evening. Matthew corrects Mark on this, too.

    Mark 15:46 says Joseph of Arimathea bought a linen cloth on the same sabbath evening. Matthew omits that.

    A Jewish person would not write so many Jewish faux pas.

    Mark wrote that the demoniac was in the Gerasenes, which was 30 miles inland. Can pigs run that far? Matthew says he was in Gadarenes, only 8 miles from the sea.

    Paul is being sarcastic in Galatians. He points out that James sends men to visit churches. In the opening, Paul says he was sent by the Lord and emphasizes that he was not sent by men or a man. When he calls James the brother of the Lord, he is saying James is acting like the Lord by sending people places. All through the letter he argues against circumcision and he identifies those “brothers” from Jerusalem as the ones who insist on it. In Galatians 5:12 he wishes they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves. That’s sarcasm!

  • Greg G.

    Hebrews 8:4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.

    1 Timothy 3:16 Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
    He appeared in the flesh,
    was vindicated by the Spirit,
    was seen by angels,
    was preached among the nations,
    was believed on in the world,
    was taken up in glory.

    The author of Hebrews thought it was impossible for Jesus to have been on earth. The author of 1 Timothy says that Jesus appeared in the flesh but doesn’t say on earth, that he was seen by angels which implies he was not seen by men, and that he was preached in the passive sense instead of preached in the active sense.

    The phrase “according to the scriptures” in 1 Corinthians 15 does not mean “in accordance with” as they like to say. It really refers to them reading about the resurrection from out of context verses.

    You should actually read the Bible and not just what they tell you to read.

  • Greg G.

    Did you not see the name Origen in the list?

    Why are you so upset by this? Are you afraid that I am right? Do you feel those doubts that your faith is a waste of effort?

    It appears you have run out of thoughts but your fingers are still typing out of fear.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    153 = 1^3 + 5^3 + 3^3. Pretty noteworthy to people interested in numbers.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    John: Either engage like an adult–no more name calling, and focus on the issues–or leave. Energetic arguments are great. Empty vitriol is not.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    I ask you to support your argument, so you just repeat it? Fail.

    No, I don’t argue that something comes from nothing. Stick with the facts.

    Initially there was nothing? Show me. Or is this just one more unsupported claim?

    Yup, I guess I must be a liar for demanding that you support your claims.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    you haven’t shown me to be wrong about one thing yet.

    Then ready yourself for a lot more of that, because I’m certain that I can’t show you anything. You’re impervious. Congratulations—I imagine that was the goal.

    Your simple-minded reply is to say “NO” but provide no way out of your dilemma — of course, because you can’t.

    Science doesn’t know lots of stuff. What do we conclude from that? (Besides the fact that you win, of course.)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    No one wants to debate the Christ Myth theory. (Oh, sorry–I already said that.)

    We’re all on the same page. What’s to talk about? (Besides how smart you are, I mean.)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Well, it looks like I have yet more to learn at the feet of John
    Carpenter! Show me, Great Leader, where in Paul Jesus raises the dead.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    I write an entire post. Your response is “Lewis disagrees.” Is that it? I was hoping for more.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Another gentle and loving contribution from Brother Carpenter. Winning more souls for Christ, eh?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    According to Papias, Judas tried to kill himself but failed. Then his head swelled up so large that he couldn’t pass down a street big enough for a hay wagon. And then he died.

    He’s a fun source. Not particularly reliable, I wouldn’t think, but he does have some good tales from the early days.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Or maybe what he wrote (and what Acts wrote about him) aren’t actual history but just a story.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Nice catch! I really should’ve gone to First Things (published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life) first. They’re always at the cutting edge of physics.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Yeah, that Krauss is an ideologue who can’t follow the facts where they lead is the only possible explanation for his disagreeing with you.

    It’s simply a fact of reason that the alpha particles that come out of a decaying nucleus have a cause (though they don’t) and that quantum particles contained within an energy well deeper than the particles’ energy can’t get out (though they do).

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    And I’m unconvinced. Give me an argument besides “Because Lewis said so.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Is there a rule for what to accept as history?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Point out errors and stupidity is fine. Not being able to make meaningful contributions combined with vitriol is not fine.

    Bye.

  • Pofarmer

    Not really. Christian sects were forced to conform to the Roman doctrine. Texts that didn’t agree were destroyed. Certainly, later on, conversions were forced, if not immediately.

  • Greg G.

    Dude, the game is over. You lose. Your attempt to insert Homer into the account of the Gadarene demoniac is ridiculous. You proved you didn’t even know what is in John 21, etc. And then you misrepresented Pythagoras; no “153″ there. Do you understand that you’ve been exposed as ignorant? You’re copying all this from source? Stop mindlessly parroting the books that agree with you and start reading the Bible for yourself.

    You have an interesting way of keeping score. I hope you don’t get a job in the banking industry because my excellent credit rating would be in trouble. I had missed one passage in the least important book of the New Testament several months ago, found out about later, and have corrected my claim before you came along. I misremembered one point of John 21 that does not affect the major point. I admitted both errors. When I have corrected your mistakes that affect your whole argument, you continue to repeat them.

    One small mistake you continue to make is calling Mark’s demoniac the “Gadarene demoniac”. That’s what Matthew calls him but we’re talking Mark.

    As for your points about Mark:

    1. Do you even understand that the Romans were the power at the time and therefore their laws had to be addressed?

    Have you read the passage? Mark has Jesus saying it and he’s not discussing Roman law with the disciples. Is Mark wrong or was Jesus?

    2.David likely had some companions.

    Did you read the story or are you writing it as we go? He escaped from his bedroom. Were there others with him and his wife? Let me know how it turns out after you finish rewriting the Old Testament.

    3.Mark 9:4 “Elijah and Moses”, that’s just ridiculous. You’re grasping at straws. Or copying from a source that is.

    Matthew copied nearly 50% of Mark verbatim. When Matthew changes something, you have to wonder why he did that. If it wasn’t a grammatical alteration, then he had a reason to do so.

    4.paraphrasing of the OT is common; defrauding is a type of stealing.

    Mark says Jesus mention “you shall not steal” third and “you shall not defraud” fifth. Was Mark wrong or was Jesus?

    5. Mark 14:10, you apparently have the wrong verse. Nevertheless, that type of precision (about exact days, etc) is a modern concern. Further, even today people will sometimes, have their Thanksgiving dinner, etc., a day before or after because of needs.

    But they wouldn’t be having the Passover Meal on just any day during Passover in Jerusalem. It would be like going out to watching the ball drop in Times Square on December 29th. Matthew was concerned about that precision. You’re trying to make excuses but I take it as an admission that you recognize Mark was wrong but you’re too stubborn to admit it.

    That a man is carrying a pitcher of water is what makes that notable. A man carrying a pitcher of water would stand out as unusual which is what is required for the event. So it’s evidence of historicity.

    I agree that it would be unusual but Matthew seems to have thought it was unthinkable. When you argue about the donkey, you say Matthew was an eyewitness. Now when Matthew alters Mark, you forget that. Using that kind of methodolgy, you could make J. R. R. Tolkien a great historian and Frodo Baggins a historical person.

    6.Your source, that you are mindlessly copying, misunderstands Mark 15:42. It says that the day before the Sabbath had started, with the coming of evening, just as Jews believe. Mark 15:42 says the day before the Sabbath had started with sunset. (Btw, consistent with the other gospels.) If you’d read the texts yourself, maybe you wouldn’t be so embarrassed when your stupid sources are shown to be wrong.

    Yes, it says that it was Preparation Day, the Day before the sabbath. Properly translated Bibles say that evening had come. That means it was no longer Preparation Day. It was then the sabbath.

    Here are my sources: American King James Version, American Standard Version, Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010), Darby Bible Translation, Douay-Rheims Bible, English Revised Version, English Standard Version (©2001), GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995), Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009), International Standard Version (©2012), King James 2000 Bible (©2003), King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.), NET Bible (©2006), New American Standard Bible (©1995), Webster’s Bible Translation, World English Bible, and Young’s Literal Translation all translate it that evening had already come.

    New International Version (©2011), New Living Translation (©2007), and Weymouth New Testament all see the problem and translate it as the evening was approaching.

    You didn’t even attempt to explain why Matthew saw the need to change Mark on this point.

    7. Mark 15:46, so what if Matthew omits it? There’s nothing contradictory or wrong with it. And you got the detail wrong: it’s on the day before the Sabbath.

    No, it was the day before the sabbath until sundown. It was evening and the Jewish day begins at sundown so it was the sabbath. Matthew follows Mark closely unless Mark commits a faux pas.

    Your source that you are mindlessly copying is junk and your too ignorant to understand that.

    Your statement about Galatians is nonsense. Dude, get real and examine how ridiculous your statements are. You’re exposed: you’re totally ignorant about the real NT but mindlessly accept whatever ridiculous garbage agrees with your biases.

    Your fear that your opponent is right and you are wrong is exposed when you offer poorly thought out replies and then start with accusing your opponent of being stupid and ignorant. It’s childish. Start thinking.

  • Timothy Carroll

    The argument from the impossibility of the contrary. In a Godless universe where there is matter and motion only, you cannot make sense of invisible immaterial absolute laws of logic, science, or morality. The contrary to a universe with God is a universe without God-this, I would contend, is an impossible contrary.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    (1) I’m happy to say, “I don’t know” where necessary. Given that, we don’t then jump to, “Aha! Then God must’ve done it!”

    (2) The axioms of science and logic are givens in our reality. Are you saying that in a godless reality those axioms would not be properties of our reality? That’s a bold claim. Show me.

  • Timothy Carroll

    I dont need to show you. You already know of them by way of default. You say they are givens in our reality. Thats my point. Yet, Where do they come from in a non purposeful or Godless universe? More importantly, these laws of logic and science are not material. Can you observe a law of logic? Can you test it in a lab? The problem is that these immaterial absolutes do not comport with an atheistic/materialist worldview.

  • Timothy Carroll

    You cannot just say, “it is that way because it is Bob.” That will not work. Explain a Godless universe to me and where laws come from? Explain to me induction and how you know that the sun will rise tomorrow as it did today. Betrand Russell and David Hume could not answer this question. Explain to me why you love your wife and children when man is nothing more than a bag of biological molecules randomly floating through a meaningless material only universe.

    My explanation would be found in Romans 1:18-32. (Though it is not “my” explanation but God’s through the Apostle Paul)

    God is the one creates “meaning” and “purpose”. God sets into place laws of logic, science, and morality.

    After having read Romans 1 which explanation of origin is more logical, reasonable and scientifically verifable?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    You say they are givens in our reality. Thats my point.

    Actually, I don’t think that’s your point. I think your point is that in a godless universe, we wouldn’t have the axioms of science and logic. And this remarkable claim is what I want evidence for.

    these laws of logic and science are not material. Can you observe a law of logic? Can you test it in a lab?

    Of course! That’s why we use them. They aren’t taken on faith; we test them all the time.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    You cannot just say, “it is that way because it is

    Why not? That seems to be the rules in this conversation. You say that God exists without evidence. Why can’t I just make an evidence-less claim of my own?

    Explain a Godless universe to me and where laws come from?

    Show me how a godless universe would look different from the one we’re in right now. That’s your claim, right? That the fundamental axioms in our universe wouldn’t be here without Yahweh creating them and holding them up. Wow—a bold claim! Show me.

    Explain to me why you love your wife and children when man is nothing more than a bag of biological molecules randomly floating through a meaningless material only universe.

    Evolution.

    And why does the lack of absolute meaning say that I can’t find love and joy in my own life?

    My explanation would be found in Romans 1:18-32.

    Completely incoherent. God is a savage SOB with an anger-management problem? Fabulous. Yeah, I truly want to get to know that guy better.

    You’re confusing theology with evidence. The Scientologist has his own theology. Why is yours any better? Give evidence, please.

  • Timothy Carroll

    I never said God exists without evidence. You reject the evidence He has given every time you say, “Where is the evidence?”.

    Secondly, you cant make your own evidence claims because you have no authority to do so. You have not created a thing. You are a mere observer as I am. Yet, my God has spoken and has declared the truth to all men.
    Here is all the evidence you will ever receive
    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (ESV)

  • Timothy Carroll

    Yes, in a godless universe you would not have the axioms of science, logic, or morality. That’s not an remarkable claim. Its from the impossibility of the contrary. There are no
    Purposeful laws in a purposeless universe. There is no life from non life (without a divine creator). Something cannot come from nothing, because it had to be something in the first place.
    To be an atheist requires too much faith to believe this is all an accident. It just happened for no reason. And btw, do not tell me you believe what you believe apart from faith. You have faith also. Its just blind faith based upon theory and speculation.

  • Timothy Carroll

    Jesus reminded us that even if one were to rise from the dead this would not convince the unregenerate. I am not surprised that you do not believe. I pray you will though.
    You keep asking for proof. God has written His Name in your DNA! His law is in your heart. His eye sees you even when you take a shower. His power gives you breath.
    He is not deistic, but upholds your finite frame by the word of His power and His omnipotent hand. Why He does not take His mercy from you is what amazes me! He owes you nothing. He’s not obligated to submit to your desires and taunts. You and I are like grasshoppers in His universe of glory.
    The best thing would be to beg for His mercy and hope He will not hand you over as states in Romans 1:18-32

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Yes, in a godless universe you would not have the axioms of science, logic, or morality. That’s not an remarkable claim.

    Wrong. That’s a knock-you-on-your-ass kind of claim. How do you know this?? Is there a godless universe that you’ve investigated?

    There are no Purposeful laws in a purposeless universe.

    I don’t even know which end is up with this sentence. Does our universe have objective purpose? What is it, why is your interpretation better than those of all the contradicting religions of the world, and how do you know?

    Are our laws “purposeful”? What does that mean, and how do you know?

    There is no life from non life (without a divine creator).

    More pointless theology. Seriously—I need the evidence. I laugh at theology.

    Something cannot come from nothing

    Didn’t God make the universe from nothing? Or was something there already?

    To be an atheist requires too much faith to believe this is all an accident.

    Well, since that’s exactly how it looks, I’m not seeing what’s startling about that as a conclusion.

    You have faith also.

    Wrong again.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    You reject the evidence He has given every time you say, “Where is the evidence?”.

    What is this evidence?

    Secondly, you cant make your own evidence claims because you have no authority to do so.

    Authority? You mean like that granted by God?

    Yet, my God has spoken and has declared the truth to all men.

    More theology. I need evidence.

    Here is all the evidence you will ever receive

    OK. That evidence sucks.

    You wouldn’t accept a quotation from a religious book as authoritative from a Scientologist or Mormon, so you can see why I do the same with yours.

    Rom. 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

    Oh? What is this plain evidence? I’ve missed it.

    20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived

    How can they be clearly perceived if they’re invisible??!

    26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another

    So straight people having a homosexual orgy? Wow—kinky. Yes, that’s pretty messed up, but it says nothing about homosexuals doing what comes naturally when they don’t hurt anyone.

    (Did you mean to steer the conversation in this direction?)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Jesus reminded us that even if one were to rise from the dead this would not convince the unregenerate. I am not surprised that you do not believe.

    No one’s ever risen from the dead in front of me, so we haven’t given this claim a proper test.

    You keep asking for proof. God has written His Name in your DNA! His law is in your heart.

    Uh, no—that’s the Invisible Pink Unicorn who did that. But don’t beat yourself up—it’s a common mistake. People get them confused since there’s the same quality of evidence for both.

    His eye sees you even when you take a shower.

    So he’s a perv?

    He owes you nothing.

    How shallow is this guy? He created me imperfect and then he consigns me to hell for being, y’know, imperfect?

    Do you have anything besides the theology? Like evidence?

    The best thing would be to beg for His mercy and hope He will not hand you over as states in Romans 1:18-32

    Yeah, he’s a sadistic bastard. If I thought he existed, I might very well beg for mercy just to save my butt from hell. But it’d be impossible to love a creator with the sick sense of justice, love, and mercy that the Christian says that he has.

  • Timothy Carroll

    Not at all. But homosexuality is a consequence of rejecting the truth of God.
    What may be known about God is that He spun this earth into existence and has
    Written His law
    On your conscience. Conscience is made up of two words: con=with; science=knowledge. Your conscience tells you God is your Maker.
    You simply hate that fact and resort to calling him a “savage SOB” with an anger management problem. Why so angry at the One who does
    Not exist.
    His invisible attributes? C’mon laws of logic are invisible and display the logical nature of the Logos-the Word or principle intelligence behind the cosmos.
    Perceiving these things does
    Not always mean with your physical eyes.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    But homosexuality is a consequence of rejecting the truth of God.

    … or maybe that’s just the way people are. Have you asked them?

    What may be known about God is that He spun this earth into existence and has Written His law On your conscience.

    What is offered without evidence may be rejected without evidence.

    Why do you keep coming back with pointless Christian platitudes? Just so I can keep making sport of you?

    Your conscience tells you God is your Maker.

    What about the Hindus? Does it tell them that Yahweh is their maker, too?

    Why so angry at the One who does Not exist.

    God being a savage SOB is obvious from reading his book. I’m not angry at something that doesn’t exist, but I am a little irked at his followers sometimes.

    C’mon laws of logic are invisible and display the logical nature of the Logos-the Word or principle intelligence behind the cosmos.

    Oh, yes—I forgot. Logic comes from God. Or so you’ve told me. Without evidence.

    I think I’ll reject that claim as well.


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