So How Does an ATHEIST Explain the Resurrection Story?

Habermas Minimal Facts ResurrectionMy recent posts have focused on Gary Habermas’s claim for a scholarly consensus in favor of the resurrection of Jesus (discussed here) and his minimal facts argument supporting the resurrection (here, with lessons learned here).

His arguments might be great when preaching to the choir, but they don’t hold up to a skeptical critique. But if the Christian explanation is wrong, what does explain the facts?

Let’s begin by making clear where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.

The claim: The gospels each claim that Jesus rose from the dead. Our goal will be to find a natural explanation.

The facts: I’m taking as evidence for this claim the books of the Bible, documents from the early church fathers, and writings of early historians. (Noncanonical books also exist—the Gospel of Thomas, for example—but these aren’t part of apologists’ arguments, so I’ll ignore them.) I like Habermas’s starting point: “I am not basing my argument for Jesus’ resurrection on the inerrancy of the Bible or even on its general trustworthiness” (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p. 212).

Note the distinction between “These documents say that Paul was converted,” which is a valid initial fact, and “Paul was converted,” which is not.

Given these facts, we will try to explain the resurrection with a natural explanation—that is, without taking the gospel story as history.

Gary Habermas is pessimistic about our project:

No plausible natural explanations can account for all of the known facts regarding the resurrection of Jesus. Never in history has there been such a unique combination of events. … A huge problem is that no single natural option, however unusual, can explain all of the evidence for the Resurrection (Case, p. 142).

Despite his certainty of our failure, let’s push on and consider the various elements of the Bible story.

Why did church fathers write what they did?

The Christian leaders from the first and second centuries believed (and wrote about that belief) just like people do today. Nothing supernatural here. We can explain them in the same way that Habermas explained the Muslims who attacked on 9/11: “Deceived? Yes. Liars? No” (Case, p. 93).

Why does the Old Testament say what it says?

The Old Testament looks just like it was written by primitive people from that region of the world. We see polytheism and support for slavery and genocide. We see in early Judaism the Combat Myth, which came from earlier Babylonian and Akkadian stories. We see Sumerian cosmology in the Genesis creation story. Early Judaism was simply another Canaanite religion, and we even read about Elohim and Yahweh in Canaanite holy books that preceded the Old Testament.

Here again, the natural explanation is plausible (I would say “overwhelming,” but our goal is simply to offer a plausible natural alternative to Habermas’s supernatural one).

Why did historians like Josephus write what they did?

Historians who followed Jesus said at best, “there are people called Christians who worship a man named Jesus,” hardly compelling evidence for the supernatural stories about Jesus. (I’ve written more on Josephus here.)

And now for the main event:

What explains the New Testament resurrection story?

If Jesus died around 30 CE and the first gospel was written forty years later, that’s a long time (in an unsophisticated prescientific culture) for the story to evolve. The gospels were written in Greek, which means that the Jesus story was filtered through Greek culture, full of their own stories of miracles and gods. One example: the story of Dionysus dying and rising from the dead. Some early Greek Christians might well have been former worshippers of Dionysus. If the Jesus story didn’t have him rising from the dead before they heard it, there’s a good chance that it did after they got through with it.

I’m not proposing malicious tampering with the story or claiming that any part is a hoax. I’m simply saying that human memory is notoriously inaccurate, and oral history is an error-prone process. Even today, you can find newspaper stories from the previous day that have errors. Stories change with the retelling.

As to the elements that are unique to Christianity, how does any new religion branch away from its earlier beliefs? Christianity isn’t the only religion that made innovations.

That’s it. It was oral history for decades in a culture full of supernatural tales, and it picked up changes and “improvements” along the way before being written.

And there are other possible variations along Christianity’s path. Maybe someone was lying along the way. That’s hardly surprising—we know that people lie. You might ask for their motivation. I dunno, and I don’t much care—we understand those times so poorly that there could be lots of surprising reasons. Are you going to trot out the literal, supernatural interpretation of the Jesus story and claim that that’s more likely?

Or maybe our understanding of the early church is significantly wrong because of deliberate changes to the gospels in the centuries-long period after initial authorship but before we get our first complete New Testament copies in the fourth century. Gospels could have been amended or added to, and competing gospels could have been discarded or destroyed. To give one uncontroversial example, half of the “Pauline” epistles (those that say they were written by Paul) were not.

Or maybe Jesus never existed. Paul was writing about a mythical Jesus in the unspecified past (his understanding of the gospel story is basically nonexistent), and later authors could have historicized the story.

QED

I only claim to have sketched out plausible natural paths through the facts. You might find better ones. My goal is to show that some natural path is possible. With the facts plausibly explained, that defeats the supernatural claim.

Habermas claims that (1) Jesus died by crucifixion, (2) the disciples believed, (3) Paul believed, (4) James believed, and (5) the tomb was empty. He says, “Two thousand years of attempts by critics to account for these facts by natural causes have failed” (Case, p. 128).

What’s to explain? You’ve got a marvelous story full of miracles from a distant culture 2000 years ago, and you’re wondering which bin to put it in? Stamp it with “Myth/Legend” and let’s move on. The gospel’s miracles, the doubts turned into beliefs, and the enthusiastic eyewitnesses are just a story.

If somewhere within the Bible, I were to find a passage that said 2 + 2 = 5,
I wouldn’t question what I’m reading in the Bible.
I would believe it, accept it as true,
and then do my best to work it out and understand it.
Pastor Peter LaRuffa
in 2014 HBO documentary “Questioning Darwin”

Photo credit: Lawrence

About Bob Seidensticker
  • wtfwjtd

    So, how does the atheist explain the resurrection story? The title says it all–the resurrection is just a story, and not a historical account. The only place this event is reported to us is in the gospels, which, once again, are just stories. And how many historical sources are there of the supposed time of Jesus that actually reported his existence, much less this supernatural event? 0, that’s zero, sources. Those who were actually contemporaries to this time report nothing about this extraordinary happening, or even the guy himself. Simple, natural explanation: it didn’t happen, and even the man himself may be myth. It seems there are more solid, undisputed sources for the existence of John the Baptizer than for Jesus, even though the gospels assure us that Jesus was far more important. How can this be?

    • Pofarmer

      In John, it says that Jesus did many more marvelous works, enough to fill volumes of books. Uhm, O.k. Why didn’t someone else write them?

      • wtfwjtd

        Must not have been too important, I guess? It seems the supernatural was so common back then, that another dead-raising and healing or two(hundred) hardly lifted an eyebrow.

        • Greg G.

          Mark 6:14-16 (NRSV)
          14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

          In Mark’s world, people coming back from the dead was not such an uncommon belief.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s exactly a point I’ve been harping on Greg, and it’s this very fact that apparently people thought dead-raisings very common that undercuts(even further) the claim of Jesus’ supposed resurrection. When Jesus asked Peter who people thought he was, what was the reply? There were already people who thought he was some long-dead prophet in the flesh! And we’re supposed to take these people’s testimony about dead-raising as reliable? How gullible would you have to be?

        • Pofarmer

          “How gullible would you have to be?”

          I’m really resisting answering that.

        • wtfwjtd

          :-)

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

          Don’t tell Karl. He wants to imagine that they were as skeptical of nutty claims as we are.

        • wtfwjtd

          And the very gospels he seeks to venerate refutes Karl’s claim!
          Matt 11:4-5
          Matt 14:2
          Matt 27:52-53
          etc…

      • moon_bucket

        That must be one of the miracles. He erased the texts.

        • wtfwjtd

          He must have erased people’s memories too! These stories were so unremarkable that they had to copy each other for most of their material.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol.

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

        There were other gospels. Why is there no hint of this in the other gospels? Even the noncanonical gospels don’t refer to uncountably many miracles.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m slightly surprised that the typical quiver of double standards + clueless accusations of double standards doesn’t ever seem to include “you hyperskeptical atheist ax-grinders can’t prove that there weren’t more/earlier detailed accounts of {jesus-biography, various supernatural events, etc.} that were later destroyed in persecutions/alexandria-library-burnings/etc.”

  • Jason

    “Why did historians like Josephus write what they did?”

    An important point to keep in mind is that supernatural explanations for natural phenomena were widely accepted in the ancient world. If an educated author matter of factly passes on a piece of information about Jesus doing something supernatural, it doesn’t mean the author thought carefully about it or double checked his facts.

    “The claim: The gospels each claim that Jesus rose from the dead. Our goal will be to find a natural explanation.”

    I know you know this, Bob, but I want to emphasize that this is an unnecessary burden for you–a thought experiment perhaps. Imagine if historians had to disprove all ancient supernatural claims to reject them.

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

      Yep. The null hypothesis is that this is yet another supernatural claim without evidence.

    • TheNuszAbides

      An important point to keep in mind is that supernatural explanations for natural phenomena were widely accepted in the ancient world.

      i tend towards this assumption as well. too bad Pew doesn’t reach back that far. it would be nice to have a clearer picture of how prevalent, say, Epicurus’ position was (or rather, wasn’t).

  • RichardSRussell

    Re: the game of Telephone that undoubtedly preceded the eventual writing down of the oral legends surrounding Jesus. I engage in something similar all the time, and I bet you do, too. I get an e-mail with a joke or story sent to me by some friend to brighten my day. 80-90% of them I either smile at and trash or chuckle or LOL at and pass on to my friends. And 10-20% of them are good enuf that, after I’m done roaring at them and get up off the floor, I do some “touching up” on before passing along — eliminating extraneous line breaks, changing single quotation marks into double ones, moving each new quotation into its own paragraph, fixing spelling errors, and even — this is the critical part — improving the wording to make the joke or story more effective.

    Even if I’m a minority among the people who take the time to do things like this, I flatter myself that my own improvements make my version of the meme healthier, more likely to survive, especially among the competition from the slightly shabbier earlier versions of the same joke.

    Why would we think that the gospels were immune from this kind of tinkering? Heck, we can just put the 4 survivors down side by side to see that the original story was “improved” in dozens of different ways by different intermediaries. No big deal. Happens all the time. Perfectly normal. Perfectly natural!

    But, besides the editorial fiddling (only inferred), we have a solid record of how the culling process worked, in that the Council of Nicaea made the esthetic judgment that the Gospel of Thomas — mentioned by Bob above — wasn’t slickly edited enuf to include in the committee’s final report. (Some of the others scraped by with bare majorities, with all the affirmative votes, of course, coming from the divinely inspired. Yes, a camel is a horse assembled by a committee, the same process that produced the canonical Bible.)

    • Kingasaurus

      –“Why would we think that the gospels were immune from this kind of tinkering?”—

      We know they weren’t, if only for the reason that Matthew and Luke are thought to be trying to “improve” Mark.

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

        Which is one reason why scholars hypothesize that there are so few early copies of Mark. Why bother keeping that tattered scroll of Mark when we have version 2.0?

        • wtfwjtd

          …and we’re told that the gospels are “eyewitness testimony”. Yeah, right, written down 40-80 years after the fact, by an unknown author, who speaks a different language, and we have 4 supposedly independent witnesses that have page after page of verbatim language in their story. And we’re at least 400 years removed from the original copies at that. I’m sure that setup would be very convincing in a court of law! Reminds me of something I heard while working at an upholstery place years ago–when a customer had the gall to ask the owner, “what do ya mean, you won’t take a 3rd party post-dated out of state bankrupt company payroll check as full payment for my bill!”

        • Greg G.

          Reminds me of the couple who went to the furniture store and the salesman was giving his spiel.

          Salesman: The best thing is you can take the furniture home today with no down payment and you don’t have to make a payment for six months.

          Customer: RUN, Mabel! They’re on to us!

        • Jason Wexler

          Greek was the dominant lingua franca at that time in that place, so Jesus if he had existed probably would have been a native Greek speaker. Unless the kernel of historical truth was even less spectacular than an itinerant preacher.

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

          For a merchant, I can see that Greek would be mandatory. But why propose that for an ordinary dude?

          Of course, in the new movie “Son of God,” he speaks English!

        • Jason Wexler

          Greek at that time was the language of the Jewish clerical class, anyone who was literate in the Levant at that time knew Greek. Jesus as presented in the story knows the Tanakh or more precisely the Septuagint which tells us he was literate and even if we didn’t know that literate meant speaking Greek, the fact that he knows the Septuagint means he speaks Greek. Of course there are a number of factors which are either expressly stated or often deduced from the Jesus story which would be very inconsistent with Jesus having been raised in the house of a carpenter (as his son), among them are his literateness and his apparent tendency to be well traveled. Although given that Paul and the Gospel writers were of the well traveled Greek speaking/writing literate clerical class they may have been projecting their own “culture” onto Jesus.

        • Pofarmer

          What leads you to believe that Jesus knows the Septuagint and not the Torah?

        • Jason Wexler

          The Torah is only the first five books, the Tanakh refers to the entire collection of the Jewish old testament. As to why I say Jesus knew the Septuagint as opposed to the Hebrew counterpart, is because trustworthy Biblical scholars and historians most notably Richard Carrier and Robert Price as well as most biblical scholars who I don’t particularly trust agree that all first century Jews were using the Septuagint and not the Tanakh, and that the Gospel writers indicate in no uncertain terms that when Jesus quotes scripture that he is quoting the Septuagint. Basically I believe it because the experts believe it.

        • Pofarmer

          O.k. That’s not how I understand Dr. Carriers position, and I have asked him about it on his blog. When I asked Dr. Carrier about why, for instance, the Sermon on the Mount is a problem, he replied that it’s because the Sermon on the Mount contains ideas that are mistranslations in the Septuagint, and not from the Torah, or, I suppose, Tanakh. As I understand his position, and Dr. Price’s, the Gospel Authors and Paul were definitely using the the Septuagint, but the Pharisees and Rabbi’s and actual Jewish folks in the early first century would have still been using the Hebrew Torah. So, maybe Carrier and Price disagree with other scholars on this, wouldn’t be the first time. Or maybe I am misunderstanding a nuanced point(although I am almost certain on Carrier’s position) and that wouldn’t be the first time either. But, Dr. Carrier’s position, I believe, is that having Jesus speaking from the Septuagint show’s that he is more likely to be an invention.

        • avalpert

          Yeah, I’m fairly certain that the Hebrew version was what was in common use among Jews since that is the version of Tanakh (which is an acronym for Torah, Niviim (prohepts) and Ketuvim (writing)), and language, used by the Mishna which was starting to be written in the same time frame.

        • Pofarmer

          Right, so putting Greek ideas in Jesus mouth is a problem.

        • avalpert

          Hey, whatever Jesus likes to put in his mouth is his business – who am I to judge?

        • Jason Wexler

          I think the important factor is your last sentence that Jesus is an invention.

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

          The gospel story is just reshaped to fit the agenda of each author, which explains to me why the son of a craftsman is so learned. As for Jesus being familiar with the Septuagint, you could say that he’s the son of God, so obviously he speaks all languages. If you want to just follow the story, all we have are the wise and literate words that the various authors have put in his mouth. His wisdom might’ve grown with the retelling of the story.

        • Jason Wexler

          We seem to keep coming back to Jesus is a fictional character and as such infinitely plastic. We can ascribe to him any abilities, traits or histories we like and they are all correct. I am curious Bob, do you view Jesus as entirely fictional, or as partially fictional or as real historical personage whos story was mythologized by Paul and the Gospel writers or something else? Hmmm I am suddenly intrigued by the idea of the Gospels as the first or second century equivalent of fan-fiction. In fact the entire the entire thing can be compared to Comic Book Story telling wherein Paul is akin to the terrible Rob Liefeld who took the existing archetype of the dying and rising god or Superman and created their own specialized version of it, and then the gospels become like the poorly conceived fan fiction for that version of the character, and he just gets really popularized, through the fan fic.

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

          I view Jesus as an ordinary but charismatic teacher, whose story got a wee bit out of control.

          Do you read Bob Price? His “Bible Geek” podcast is great. He’s a big comic book fan, and he gives a fascinating comparison of the evolution of Superman to Jesus (in his 5/18/11 podcast). Remember that Superman was more like Samson initially. His powers grew over time. His point was that, 1000 years from now, the oddities in the Superman story are exactly those that we see in the Jesus story.

          I need to write a post about that sometime.

          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5a/Action_Comics_1.jpg

        • Jason Wexler

          That actually explains to me, at least, a large part of why you focus on some of the topics you do in the way you do. I wouldn’t bother looking at explaining the resurrection in the first place because not only do I not think the resurrection happened but that there was no one not even a charismatic teacher who’s story got out of control to be resurrected.

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

          Jesus wasn’t a historical figure?

        • Jason Wexler

          No, there’s no reason evidence to believe he was.

        • Pofarmer

          Most of what was written would have been in Greek. Pretty sure the Rabbi’s and religious sorts in Palestine would have still used Hebrew. A lot of people would have been conversant in Aramaic(which would have been the spoken common language) Greek, and possibly some Latin. I read this just real recently, but don’t ask me to cite it.

        • MNb

          Exactly – especially as copying was expensive and hard labour.

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

      And half of the “Pauline” epistles are pseudepigraphical.

    • Kodie

      What I’m becoming more intensely aware of is just how many and how wide the plot holes are in this story. Aside from one obvious impossibility that glares, there are many, many other problems with the course of events as taken. Why stop at the gospels? At some point, the bible had to stop being written and then go on being written about. Obviously, people had questions early on, or there wouldn’t be earliest scholars trying to make sense of it for people. It is too late to fix it and tighten up the story (which is, to me, so obviously a story). You can’t make it more believable now by working it over – people have the old bible to look at, they will know your new version to be a forgery or abridgement. But isn’t that what churches and preachers do, to make a digestible version of the high points they want to sell?

      I tried to read the bible – it’s hard. I started from the beginning and didn’t get very far without a pile of questions, one of which was, why am I doing this? Let’s say I need help understanding what the fuck it is about sometimes. I know what words mean, but I don’t follow stories sometimes. So I appreciate all the people who have bothered to do it, and can write articulately about what is going on, and finding all these patterns and knowing all the history surrounding it. I think people who go to church probably have similar difficulties and need the expert’s explanation of what’s going on and, “do we need to know this for the test?” for example.

      It jumps around a lot. I notice when a Christian explains one thing, it can seal the leak in one part of the dam, but another one gushes open. They cannot keep the whole bible explained at the same time. Then on one hand, you have scholars working very hard to prove the historicity of Jesus, and then on the other, I think people just find the sacrifice very moving and do not care about the details. Jesus said, you get to the father through me, and the story is about him and his pain leading up to his imminent crucifixion. He sort of didn’t really want to, and then again, he knew he had to get it over with so he could save the people. Everyone loves that part, everyone can relate to it, right? He lived in a place that really existed, and someone who knew someone who saw it all happen when they were younger, back in their hometown, and so, instead of understanding how legends and myths are made, if it’s not really true, then there’s no heaven, there’s no reason, there’s no meaning! Atheists just deny! Atheists just don’t understand what their beliefs are all about!

      Even the kinds of stories that are passed on the internet, how old could any of those stories be? They are not more than 20 years old and many are newer than that. It is not that hard to edit them but few people will go to the trouble. I don’t know very many people that can repeat a good joke they heard or read without getting to the part where “Oh wait, I messed up the order.” We get the people here who say we’re being bigoted against ancient people’s intelligence, and then they claim “it was the tradition to memorize things in order to repeat them correctly”. I do not doubt that a culture without books would have a lot more practice memorizing (like how we are culturally losing “handwriting” as a skill) rather than internalizing and being able to relay information in your own words (plausible?), but how come none of these smarties got the message in order with no holes in it? How does that even prove it’s not a story? They only want it to be true because it has that conflicted character that bought them a ticket to heaven when they die. They don’t care who was minding the tomb or how many days he was up on the cross or who was writing this shit down when he was talking to god by himself. It’s a story about a character who had a job to do and a difficult final task, personal grief, he is a comic book guy.

      We know The Godfather saga is fiction even if it follows a family from real places and real times and realistic events you might expect from such a family. It would be like trying to find evidence of the Corleone family. According to Wikipedia (and probably common knowledge), the Corleones are loosely based on the Borgia family of 15th century Italy and not on any contemporaneous Italian-American families. Suspicions to the contrary could be expressed, but who would take them seriously or care? What does it have to do with me next week? We are making a similar claim that Jesus is a tragic character not unlike others of his time period and location but interesting enough to develop a fiction over, in a story that just so happens at the end has him magically disappear and prove that he wasn’t just crazy-talking and ego-tripping.

      But we can’t prove it was fiction! It could have totally happened just like that, even with all the weird parts and gaping plot holes and differing versions of events. If we had the chance to rewrite this story, it could make sense from beginning to end, it could be satisfying to the discerning audience who can’t suspend disbelief when a story has too many flaws to begin with. And then it would still only be a story, just a better written and edited one.

      • Pofarmer

        And then you get into the Apologetics of “If it’s just a story, then how come it has lasted 2000 years.” Well, for an awful lot of that time period, if you expressed disbelief, people might just KILL you. People indoctrinated their children from birth in “the faith” never questioning and always with the chance of being thrown out of society or worse. We know that religion excites certain areas of our brain and that these areas can grow. I wonder if, in a way, that this way of thinking hasn’t gotten somehow embedded in our DNA, sort of an epi-genetic artifact. More or less like homosexuality and other traits aren’t clearly genetic, but are influenced by factors influencing genetics. At this point, “belief” is somewhat ingrained in us. Maybe this is crazy talk, but how else can you explain otherwise educated people in the age of space flight and the Hubble telescope spouting 2000 year old nonsense as if it makes perfect sense?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Well, for an awful lot of that time period, if you expressed disbelief, people might just KILL you. People indoctrinated their children from birth in “the faith” never questioning and always with the chance of being thrown out of society or worse.”

          Well-put! The only thing I would add to “people might just KILL you”, is “or worse”. Reference the Spanish inquisition here…

        • Kodie

          At this point, “belief” is somewhat ingrained in us. Maybe this is
          crazy talk, but how else can you explain otherwise educated people in
          the age of space flight and the Hubble telescope spouting 2000 year old
          nonsense as if it makes perfect sense?

          This is one of the cultural mysteries for me. People who think they are smart, shrewd or skeptical, even, saying things about zombie Jesus as if that’s not outrageous. It’s just talking normal things to people who also believe it, like “nice weather we’re having” or “did you see The Blacklist last night?” If Jesus came (back?) tomorrow and went on the news channels, they would be smart enough to dismiss the fraud who claimed to be Jesus to get on tv. I’m pretty sure this was the plot of Oh, God!. God is real, but he doesn’t come in person to talk to people or ask for their help clearing up all the misunderstandings. But if you say he talked to you in your head, people will listen, people will want to know what communications you’ve heard. Whenever someone claims that Jesus is working in their life, or more vaguely, “everything happens for a reason,” and everyone else goes along with it, I wonder for how many it is just what they also believe or how many might lose their job or their friendships for making waves. We’re socialized to entitle these beliefs and keep silent.

        • Pofarmer

          “Whenever someone claims that Jesus is working in their life, or more
          vaguely, “everything happens for a reason,” and everyone else goes along
          with it,’

          Have you been reading my facebook feed? Drives me absolutely bonkers. One of the reasons I almost never go to facebook.

        • Kodie

          I think it’s pretty common! A few of my fb friends like “quotes” or affirmations that are constructed with artful typography. Sometimes they are even nuggets of wisdom from a person whose intelligence I would tend to admire, but boiled down into some meaningless platitude. Not a meme or cartoon, it’s meant to be inspirational, like taking a vitamin to have the strength to face the day. I very rarely find a quote made up to look like a poster that I can’t find fault with, or that wouldn’t be such a good message to the wrong person or used at the wrong time.

  • avalon

    It takes but a little critical thought to see that the bible doesn’t relay eye-witness testimony about the final days of Jesus. Take, as one example, Jesus praying in the garden while the apostles slept. Who witnessed that prayer and recorded it? The same is true of many other purported events that didn’t have witnesses, according to the story. They read like stories because they are.

    As for Habermas’ claims (1) Jesus died by crucifixion and (5) the tomb was empty:
    Of the estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Jews crucified in first-century Israel we have a grand total of one skeleton found in a tomb that bears the marks of crucifixion. Burial was not the usual method of disposal. (See the discovery of the tomb of a crucified man in the Jewish cemetery at the site northeast of Jerusalem, see Tzaferis (1985).
    “Crucifixion: Of the countless number of tombs in Palestine from the era of Roman occupation which have been excavated, only one skeleton has been found which bears the marks of a crucifixion. That is because after a Roman execution, the lifeless body would be generally discarded in an open pit where it would be devoured by wild animals. To be forbidden a traditional burial added greatly to the horror of this method of execution.”
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/crematio.htm

    It seems highly unlikely that Jesus was ever buried.

    • wtfwjtd

      Excellent point! It seems that in most cases the corpse was left to rot and burial was not permitted. Now, we are told in John 19:38 that Joseph of Arimathea got special permission from Pilot for the body of Jesus. However,–and this has always bugged me–he and Nicodemus brought 75 pounds of spices, and “wrapped the body in linen with the spices”. So, WTF were the women doing at the tomb after 1 1/2 days, or 3 days, or(pick your day) anyhow?

      I often scratch my head, and wonder how I ever thought this story convincing…

      • avalon

        wtfwjtd,
        In addition to this being totally out of character to Pilate, there’s problems with Joseph of Arimathe:
        “In the first place we have no idea where the location of the town of Arimathea is, whereas we do know the location of other Biblical cites like Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Capernaum and Damascus.”
        “In the second place, there are some implausible aspects about just what this Joseph did and when. In none of the gospels do we find him mentioned at the scene of the crucifixion. And yet we’re told he asked to take Jesus’ body down to bury it.”
        “In the third place, we never hear of Joseph again.”
        http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2007/06/joseph-of-arimathea-was-probably.html

        • Pofarmer

          If the Romans crucified him, would they really care about the Jewish customs? Why not just wait till Monday?

        • wtfwjtd

          I agree, he’s a one-off character that seems a little too suspiciously Johnny-on-the-spot to me. I guess him and Nicodemus were buds. Which brings up another odd point: If Nicodemus really was a Pharisee who came to Jesus at night so as not to be seen in public with Jesus, why in blazes would he be involved in a highly public way in Jesus’s burial? I know, I know, it’s like asking why Harry Potter was reluctant to accompany Ron in the flying car back to Hogwart’s, and how to go about figuring out just how that elf magic works, but still….

        • Greg G.

          From New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash:

          42. Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:42-47)
          Joseph is surely a combination of King Priam, who courageously comes to Achilles’ camp to beg the body of his son Hector (MacDonald, p. 159) and the Patriarch Joseph who asked Pharaoh’s permission to bury the body of Jacob in the cave-tomb Jacob had hewn for himself back beyond the Jordan (Genesis 50:4-5) (Miller, p. 373). Whence Joseph’s epithet “of Arimathea”? Richard C. Carrier has shown that the apparent place name is wholly a pun (no historical “Arimathea” has ever been identified), meaning “Best (ari[stoV]} Disciple (maqh[thV]) Town.” Thus “the Arimathean” is equivalent to “the Beloved Disciple.” He is, accordingly, an ideal, fictive figure.

          Price’s references are:
          Dennis R. MacDonald, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000

          Dale Miller and Patricia Miller. The Gospel of Mark as Midrash on Earlier Jewish and New Testament Literature. Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 21. Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press

        • wtfwjtd

          Interesting info Greg. For a minute there I thought you were going to say his name meant “Best Disciple in Town”! Heh!

        • Greg G.

          That’s Robert M. Price saying that. The paragraph comes from a section for Mark so he had only chapter and verse so I inserted “Mark”. The only other things I typed were “From”, “Price’s references are”, the blockquote HTML, and two colons.

        • Pofarmer

          Kind of how Bar abbas means “Son of the Father.”? Seems like there are some other Easter Eggs in the names in some of the NT books.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, I like the way Mark informs his readers of that one. He explains that Bartimaeus was the son of Timaeus. Then he takes “Abba, Father” from Romans and Galatians to inform everybody of that meaning. That sets up a scapegoat where one of the identical goats is killed for sins and the other carries the sins away into the wilderness.
          I never heard that in Sunday School.

        • Pofarmer

          sort of an advanced concept for 8 year olds.

        • Greg G.

          Another is Eutychus form Acts 20:5ff. Paul was so boring when he preached, Eutychus fell asleep and fell from a third floor window. Paul resurrected the guy. Eutychus means “Lucky”.

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

        It’s like a macro version of quantum superposition. In the case when the men had 75 pounds of spice, the women didn’t bring spices (why bother?). But when the men didn’t, the women did.

        See? They’re both right.

        (And the Shroud of Turin obviously comes from the case where there were no spices. You would’ve seen a different image in that case.)

        • Greg G.

          I get it. Schrodinger’s frankincense!

        • wtfwjtd

          And really? Going to anoint a beat-up body that had been dead for 3 days? That sounds highly unlikely to me. We are told that Lazarus was pretty rank after 4 days, and he’d no doubt been wrapped and spiced up earlier.

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

          Good question. I don’t know the details of burial rites at that time.

          But this touches on the popular Christian argument, Why would they have women discover the body if they were of low status at the time? The response is obviously: because it was women’s jobs to take care of the dead! It would be ridiculous any other way.

          Makes you wonder if apologists ever think about their arguments before they show them in public.

        • Kingasaurus

          It also suggests other possibilities – that the women are a contrivance to explain why Mark’s new story about a bodily resurrection and an empty tomb had never been heard before by people who had been Christians for years. “Well, you see, we’re only learning about this now because untrustworthy women didn’t obey they angel and kept silent about what they actually saw.”

        • Greg G.

          That’s what I was going to say. The later gospels were stuck with that and supplemented it. A generation after Mark was written, the new inconsistencies wouldn’t have mattered so much.

        • Pofarmer

          Apologetics from the very beginning. Kind of like II Timothy spends a lot of time explaining why thinks ain’t happnin.

        • wtfwjtd

          The fact that we are told in John that Jesus was warned away from the body of Lazarus after 4 days is a pretty strong(no pun intended) clue. Then as now, bodies begin decomposing very quickly, and need immediate attention to keep a gruesome task from becoming…even worse. The whole thing of going to “take care” of the body that had supposedly been buried 3 days before sounds suspiciously like a ruse to me, to get someone, anyone, to the right place at the right time.

        • SparklingMoon-

          75 pounds of spice…………. I don’t know the details of burial rites at that time.
          ———————————————————–
          This 75 pounds of spice was not for burial ceremony but was actually a kind of ointment that was prepared by the disciples of Jesus for his wounds.If for example we accept for a short time that it was a tradition of Jews at that time to use spices for burial but the big amount of spice rejects the conception that 75 pound could be prepared for a single body to use it only for one time. This big amount of ointment was ,actually, prepared by his disciples for his wounds and had been used many times on cloth sheets repeatedly to wrap his body for his quick healing and it undoubtedly healed up Jesus in a few days and he became able to walk.

          This medical preparation known as ‘Marham-i-Isa’ or the ‘Ointment of Jesus’ is recorded in hundreds of medical books. Some of these books were compiled by Christians, some by Magians or Jews, some by Muslims. Most of them are very old. Investigations show that in the beginning the preparation came to be known as an oral tradition among hundreds of thousands of people. Then they recorded it. At first, in the very time of Jesus, a little after the event of the Cross, a pharmaceutical work was compiled in Latin, in which there was a mention of this preparation along with the statement that the preparation had been prepared for the wounds of Jesus. Next, this work was translated into several languages, until, in the time of Mamun – al -Rashid, it was translated into Arabic. Physicians of all religions — Christian, Jew, Magian, or Muslim — have all mentioned this ‘preparation’ in their books, and have stated that it was prepared for Jesus by the disciples. A study of books on pharmacology shows that this ‘preparation’ is very useful in cases of injuries due to blows or falls, arresting immediately the flow of blood; and as it also contains ‘myrrh’ the wound remains aseptic. The ointment is also useful in plague; it is good for boils and ulcers of all kinds. Some of its ingredients are like specifics; especially ‘myrrh’ which is mentioned also in the Torah. In any case, the wounds of Jesus healed up in a few days by the use of this ointment. Within three days he recovered sufficiently to be able to march seventy miles on foot from Jerusalem to Galilee.(Jesus in India)

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

          Sounds like you’ve got this figured out. Has anyone revived a dead person with this ointment lately? ‘Cause that would be pretty cool.

    • Pofarmer

      It’s also highly unlikely that someone would have died from crucifixion in 6 hours, as the Gospels relay. The reason they crucified people was because it was a looonnnnggggg death, often lasting days. The whole breaking the legs, spearing in the side, water pouring out, all that is to “fulfill scripture” that the Gospel writers found.

      • wtfwjtd

        You have a few doubts about this too, Pofarmer? Next you’ll be telling me that you have a few doubts about the earthquake, the 3-hour eclipse, and the zombie apocalypse that accompanied the crucifiction. Sounds like a supernatural free-for-all, something-for-everyone kind of deal to me!

        • Pofarmer

          Norm or Karl will be by shortly to set us straight.

          Honestly though, when yo look at this stuff from outside it’s just like WTF? I guess I should be proud, my boys today told me that I know the bible bettermthan most people.

        • Norm Donnan

          Why spoil your fun Po,you seem to have it all figured out.

        • Kodie

          At this point of the story, car chases and explosions hadn’t been invented yet.

    • SparklingMoon-

      In those days the custom of the Jews was to make the tomb airy like a commodious chamber, leaving an opening in it. Such tombs were kept ready; and as the occasion required, dead bodies were interred in them. The tomb in which Jesus was placed was an airy apartment. The gospels bear clear testimony to this: Luke says, ‘Now upon the first day of the week very early in the morning (when it was still dark] they (the women) came unto the sepulchre bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre and they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus’.(Luke 24:1-3) The words, ‘They entered in.’ is evident that a man can only enter a tomb which is like a room and has an opening. (Jesus in India)

    • primenumbers

      “Mark” tells us that the women witnesses to the tomb told nobody – so how the hell did “Mark” know? It seems to me that the clues are in the text itself that they were NOT eyewitness accounts.

  • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

    Stamp it with “Myth/Legend” and let’s move on.

    Exactly.

    Folklore is a fascinating subject because it tells us about the way the ancients related to nature, regarded other populations, and validated their place in the world. The Jesus myth is riddled with information about the new church and its relation to the conservative Jews who rejected Jesus as well as their political enemies the Romans. It’s interesting to see how the story of a Galilean rabbi, already laden with Jewish symbolism, accrued all these Mediterranean sun-god adaptations so it could survive in the meme-pool of its day.

    • wtfwjtd

      Have you ever watched Jeremy Wade”s “River Monsters”? I really enjoy how he takes local legends and knowledge about a particular beast, applies common sense and reason, tosses in some good scientific method, and usually comes up with a plausible explanation for the often-thought-to-be supernatural nature of the creatures he’s after. He generally discovers that there is a hidden grain of truth in the stories somewhere–stories that have been embellished in the telling and the re-telling until they have reached the level of the supernatural. He nearly always finds a magnificent but very natural animal at the bottom of these tales, and that in itself makes for a great tale. These are great examples of the folklore you just described, and Christianity’s resurrection story seems just like these.

      • Pofarmer

        Like that show.

      • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

        It’s interesting to see the way these legends change through contact with competing narrative traditions. The Jesus myth seems originally intended to curry favor with more traditional Jews in the period of upheaval after the Temple was destroyed: why else would Jesus have been portrayed as communing with Moses and Elijah during the Transfiguration? (And incidentally, how would the witnesses have been able to identify the long-dead prophets with Jesus in the first place? Would they have recognized them from their Jewish Patriarch Trading Cards?) Then the story had to acquire elements of Mediterranean hero stories and sun-god myths to gain converts from outside the Jewish community.

        Sometimes it’s interesting in a tragic way. Look at how the padres who followed the conquistadors pasted Christian identities onto the indigenous myths of Mesoamerican natives. That’s how age-old symbols of female fecundity were distorted to fit into the perverted puritanism of Mary worship.

  • Pofarmer

    This should be worth some popcorn.

  • SparklingMoon-

    Christianity isn’t the only religion that made innovations.
    ————————————————————————–
    According to the descriptions of the Bible Jesus did not die on the cross. The victim, in those days, was put on the Cross, and his hands and feet were nailed to it; and it was quite possible that if, after crucifying a person and driving nails into him, it was decided — in a day or two — to forgive him and spare his life, he was taken down alive before his bones had been broken, the punishment already undergone being deemed sufficient for him. If it was decided to kill him, he was kept on the Cross at least for three days; water or bread was not allowed to come near him, and he was left in this condition in the sun for three or more days, when his bones were broken and ultimately as a result of this torture he died. Jesus (on whom be peace) did not remain on the Cross for three days; he did not have to suffer hunger or thirst for three days; nor were his bones broken. On the other hand, he remained on the Cross only for two hours, and the grace and mercy of God managed to bring about the crucifixion in the latter part of the day, which was a Friday, only a little time before sunset, the next day being the Sabbath, the feast Fasah of the Jews.
    According to Jewish custom it was unlawful and a punishable crime to let anyone remain on the Cross on the Sabbath day,or during the night previous to it; Jews, like Muslims, observed the lunar calendar, sunset being regarded as beginning the day. So, on the one hand,there was this circumstance which arose out of earthly causes, and, on the other, Almighty God brought into existence heavenly circumstances, namely, that when it was the sixth hour, there was a severe dust-storm which darkened the earth for three hours.(Mark15:33.) This sixth hour was after twelve o’clock, i.e., close to the evening. Now, the Jews were afraid in this utter darkness, lest the night of the Sabbath should overtake them, and lest, having violated the sanctity of the Sabbath, they should deserve to be punished. The Jews, therefore, besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already they broke not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water’.(John 19:31-34.)
    These verses clearly show that in order to put an end to the life of a crucified person it was the practice in those days to keep him on the Cross for several days, and then to break his legs, but the legs of Jesus were purposely not broken, and he was taken down alive from the Cross, like the two thieves. That was the reason why there came out blood when his side was pierced. The blood however, conceals after death. And, here, it appears that all this was the result of a conspiracy.(Jesus in India)

    • Kingasaurus

      Your non-stop Muslim apologetics are boring.

    • Greg G.

      Crucifixion was a death sentence. Josephus says that Titus crucified many Jews. Josephus saw three of his friends being crucified and asked Titus to spare them and he complied. One of the three survived the ordeal.

      Where do you get the idea that the bodies were not left up on the Sabbath? The execution was supposed to be humiliating and to intimidate anyone from considering committing that crime. The Hebrew law would be:

      Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (NRSV)
      22 When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land that the Lord your God is giving you for possession.

      The body was hung on a tree after being killed but had to be removed before night.

      The days began at sundown so there was no night before the Sabbath. It was the Sabbath at sundown.
      There crucifixion story in Mark was made up, mostly using Psalm 22 as I posted elsethread.

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

        But Roman law governed the crucifixion. What I hear you saying is that the Jews would do their best to conform to their own law (take down the body before night), though they were presumably frustrated in that effort many times if the guy wasn’t dead yet. Is that right?

        • Greg G.

          It seems that what the Romans and what the Jews would have preferred the Romans did were two different things. From the passage in Josephus where it has “James, brother of Jesus who was called the Christ”, James is stoned according to Jewish law while the new Roman governor is in transit. The high priest gets ousted. The whole story about the Sanhedrin trying Jesus but taking him to a Roman court to have him executed Roman style indicates that the Romans restricted the death penalty, not that I think it happened but that people from the time appear to have accepted that as normal court proceedings. The Josephus passage makes this part of Markan passage plausible.

          If the Jews followed Deuteronomy, the convicted felon would be stoned to death then hung on a tree for a while, probably as an object lesson, but taken down before dark, the two parts being separate events while crucifixion combined the events and the object lesson was for slow learners so the body wouldn’t have been taken down. The part of the bible account of the body being taken down seems to be contrived because it introduces the invented character from Arimathea. The trial part seems like it was taken from knowledge of Roman trials while the post-mortem parts seems to be written to incorporate OT passages.

        • busterggi

          In that case the two ‘thieves’ would also have been taken down which would make the biblical story almost identical to Josephus’ story about his three friends & that story was written first.

      • SparklingMoon-

        Where do you get the idea that the bodies were not left up on the Sabbath?
        ——————————————————————-
        It states in Gospel John:
        ”It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down.” (John 19:33)

        Pilate was a God-fearing and a good-hearted man; he could not openly show favour to Jesus for fear of the Caesar; for the Jews had declared Jesus a rebel. He did not desire that Jesus should suffer crucifixion. The gospels point out clearly that Pilate had several times resolved to let Jesus go, but the Jews said that if he would let him go he would be disloyal to Caesar; they also said that Jesus was a rebel who wished to be
        (John 19:12) ”From that moment Pilate made every effort to release Him. But the Jews shouted, ” If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar!” As the Jews were ready even secretly to inform the Caesar of Pilate’s action, Pilate made use of a device to rescue Jesus: first, he fixed Friday for the crucifixion, only a few hours before sunset, and the night of the Great Sabbath was about to fall. Pilate knew very well that the Jews, in accordance with the commandments of their law, could keep Jesus on the Cross only till the evening, and after that it was unlawful to keep anybody on the Cross. Accordingly, it all happened in this very manner; and Jesus was taken down from the Cross before it was evening. It is improbable that the thieves who were crucified at the same time as Jesus should have remained alive, but that Jesus should have died within two hours. It was an excuse made up to save Jesus from the process of leg breaking.

        • Greg G.

          That’s a good find. The story is contrived though. Paul calls Jesus the Passover lamb in 1 Corinthians 5:7 and John is unique among the gospels by calling him that too. The bones of the Passover lamb are forbidden to be broken in Exodus 12:45. There is a Psalm like it, too, but it’s time for bed.

          However, this comparison would be inappropriate. Jesus is supposed to be a sin offwring and the Passover lamb is most definitely not a sin offering. The unbroken bones are another contrivance for a contrived story.

          Do you have an actual historical account for the Romans taking down a crucifixion at the request of Jews besides the personal favor for Josephus?

        • Greg G.

          I cited Exodus 12:45 but it is Exodus 12:46 in my first reply.

        • SparklingMoon-

          Do you have an actual historical account for the Romans taking down a crucifixion at the request of Jews besides the personal favor for Josephus?
          ——————————————————
          Roman had their control over Jerusalem only 40 years before the time of Jesus therefore Pharisees and religious priests still had a great influence in their areas. In the case of Jesus Roman government personally had no problem with the sayings or activities of Jesus but it was Pharisees and chief priests who constantly reported before king by calling him falsely a rebellion of the Roman government . It was their plan to remove Jesus from their way by bringing him on cross otherwise Caesar or Pilate personally had seen nothing wrong in Jesus. There is only one example from the Bible to understand the might and authority of these religious people over Roman government:

          15)During the feast the governor was accustomed to release one prisoner to the crowd, whomever they wanted. 16)At that time they had in custody a notorious prisoner named Jesus Barabbas. 17) So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ ?” 18 (For he knew that they had handed him over because of envy.) 19 As he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man; I have suffered greatly as a result of a dream about him today.” 20) But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21) The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas!” 22) Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?” They all said, “Crucify him!” 23) He asked, “Why? What wrong has he done?” But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!” 24) When Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but that instead a riot was starting, he took some water, washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. You take care of it yourselves!” 25) In reply all the people said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” 26) Then he released Barabbas for them. But after he had Jesus flogged, he handed him over to be crucified (Matthew 27:15-26)

          It could be understood by this example the helplessness of pilate before the chief priests of his time and secondly, his washing the hands shows his inner feelings for Jesus as he personally found nothing wrong in Jesus for this punishment but had been compelled by Pharisees. A prophet of God always bears a light of God in his person and good humble nature people are always attracted to him. ”Pilate was a God-fearing and a good-hearted man. He was lucky to have seen Jesus but the Caesar was not so fortunate; the former not only saw Jesus but also showed him a great favor — he did not desire that Jesus should suffer crucifixion. He could not openly show favor to Jesus for fear of the Caesar at this occasion ; for the Jews had declared Jesus a rebel. The gospels point out clearly that Pilate had several times resolved to let Jesus go, but the Jews said that if he would let him go he would be disloyal to Caesar; they also said that Jesus was a rebel who wished to be king. As the Jews were ready even secretly to inform the Caesar of Pilate’s action, Pilate made use of a device to rescue Jesus: first, he fixed Friday for the crucifixion, only a few hours before sunset, and the night of the Great Sabbath was about to fall. Pilate knew very well that the Jews, in accordance with the commandments of their law, could keep Jesus on the Cross only till the evening, and after that it was unlawful to keep anybody on the Cross. Accordingly, it all happened in this very manner; and Jesus was taken down from the Cross before it was evening. And a man named Joseph — an honored friend of Pilate and a notable person in the locality and a secret disciple of Jesus — presented himself at the right time. And Jesus having been taken for dead, his body was made over to him, for he was a big man with whom the Jews could have no quarrel. Arriving at the scene he carried away Jesus as if he were a corpse but actually he was in a state of swoon.(Jesus in India)

        • Greg G.

          The story you quote is fictional.

          Mark 10:46 (NRSV)
          They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside.

          Mark 14:36 (NRSV)
          He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”

          Mark informs his Greek readers that “bar” means “son of” in Aramaic with the story in Chapter 10. In Chapter 14, he teaches his readers that “Abba” means “Father” in Aramaic, which he probably learned from Galatians 4:6 or Romans 8:15. Then when he introduces Barabbas in Chapter 15, his readers understand that his names means “son of the father”, just like Jesus, to set up a scapegoat scenario where one goat is killed for sins while the other is sprinkled with the dead goat’s blood and released into the wilderness. The blood is supposed to be a conduit for the sins.

          Notice in Chapter 6 that King Herod reacted positively to John the Baptist but got pressured into executing him. Mark uses the same ploy with Pilate reacting positively to Jesus initially but finally gives in to the Jews.

          These are tell tale sign of story-telling.

  • Jenna Black

    Mr. Seidensticker,

    You fail to deliver on your promise to provide a “natural” explanation for the resurrection of Jesus. What you do instead is attempt (and fail) to discredit the eye-witness testimony to/of the resurrection in the vain hope of convincing your readers that these events that you cannot explain never happened. Go back to the drawing board and deal with the facts of the testimony rather than attempting to impeach the witnesses to these facts.

    • moon_bucket

      We have no eyewitnesses. The gospels are anonymous and written decades later. Two of the gospel’s authors, by tradition, are not even disciples. Paul himself never met Jesus.

      • wtfwjtd

        Paul doesn’t even know about the gospel story Jesus, so he sure couldn’t have ever met him.

    • Pofarmer

      Uhm, if you have eye witness testimony, that would be teh awesome.

    • MNb

      See above. It’s just one natural explanation – not for the Resurrection, but for the development of the story of the Resurrection as recorded in the Gospels.

      • Kingasaurus

        There are many possibilities, including the one where the empty tomb is a later development, and the “original” story was of a resurrection of spirit, not flesh. In such a case, nobody would care where the body was, there would be no empty tomb, but people would have still believed in a resurrection of some kind.

        When the idea of bodily resurrection comes later (doctrines and beliefs evolve in all religions over time), the empty tomb and stories related to a resurrection of the physical body are simply fictional. There’s no tomb to “check” and no dead body to “produce”, because it’s way after the fact – probably after the War and the destruction of the Temple.

        Assuming for the sake of argument that Jesus was historical, of course.

        • Pofarmer

          The case you laid out, really doesn’t matter if Jesus was historical or not.

        • Kingasaurus

          No, but it’s consistent with both possibilities.

        • wtfwjtd

          I still contend if this had been a literal, historical event, the actual place of the empty tomb would have been a HUGE deal. As TruthSurge describes:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiCpKXFd8Pw

    • smrnda

      Eyewitnesses. Paul was not an eyewitness to the resurrection, and in one letter from Paul he alleges some 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus. Aside from people already name such as the disciples, it isn’t like he provided names or anything. If I told you I had 500 witnesses to me breaking some record, are you going to be convinced?

      Of the others, several gospels are second hand, and Mark might have been writing from Paul (not an eyewitness.) Allegedly Luke got his facts from Paul (not an eyewitness.) So we’ve got second-hand testimonies that allege eyewitnesses. The other gospels are ostensibly by eyewitnesses, but other gospels allegedly by disciples haven’t been taken as valid. The claim that thedisciples were martyred is largely legendary, so I don’t feel the eyewitness testimony is so strong. Joseph Smith had eyewitnesses to his various feats, but I don’t find those claims persuasive.

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

        And the gospel authors obviously weren’t impressed with the “500 eyewitnesses” claim since none repeat it.

    • Greg G.

      What facts? Mark gets his facts from the Jewish literature the same way Paul got it. From New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash:

      41. The Crucifixion (Mark 15:21-41)
      The substructure for the crucifixion in chapter 15 is, as all recognize, Psalm 22, from which derive all the major details, including the implicit piercing of hands and feet (Mark 15:24//Psalm 22:16b), the dividing of his garments and casting lots for them (Mark 15:24//Psalm 22:18), the “wagging heads” of the mockers (Mark 15:20//Psalm 22:7), and of course the cry of dereliction, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34//Psalm 22:1). Matthew adds another quote, “He trusts in God. Let God deliver him now if he desires him” (Matthew 27:43//Psalm 22:8), as well as a strong allusion (“for he said, ‘I am the son of God’” 27:43b) to Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-20, which underlies the whole story anyway (Miller, p. 362), “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life: for if the righteous man is God’s son he will help him and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture that we may find out how gentle he is and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

      As for other details, Crossan (p. 198) points out that the darkness at noon comes from Amos 8:9, while the vinegar and gall come from Psalm 69:21. It is remarkable that Mark does anything but call attention to the scriptural basis for the crucifixion account. There is nothing said of scripture being fulfilled here. It is all simply presented as the events of Jesus’ execution. It is we who must ferret out the real sources of the story. This is quite different, e.g., in John, where explicit scripture citations are given, e.g., for Jesus’ legs not being broken to hasten his death (John 19:36), either Exodus 12:10, Numbers 9:12, or Psalm 34:19-20 (Crossan, p. 168).

      Whence did Mark derive the tearing asunder of the Temple veil, from top to bottom (Mark 15:38)? Perhaps from the death of Hector in the Iliad (MacDonald, pp. 144-145). Hector dies forsaken by Zeus. The women of Troy watched from afar off (as the Galilean women do in Mark 15:40), and the whole of Troy mourned as if their city had already been destroyed “from top to bottom,” just as the ripping of the veil seems to be a portent of Jerusalem’s eventual doom.

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

      What you do instead is attempt (and fail) to discredit the eye-witness testimony

      1. What eyewitness testimony?

      2. Even if there were some, so what? [correction: I meant: “Even if there were the claim of some, so what?”] Would you believe an account that claimed to be an eyewitness summary of a non-Christian supernatural event written in English, yesterday?

      these events that you cannot explain never happened.

      There is insufficient evidence to argue that they did happen.

      • Kodie

        2. Even if there were some, so what? [correction: I meant: “Even
        if there were the claim of some, so what?”] Would you believe an account
        that claimed to be an eyewitness summary of a non-Christian
        supernatural event written in English, yesterday?

        To be fair, plenty of people do. Not only do they believe miracle healings or survivals or NDEs happened when someone else relays their experiences, they believe in supernatural occurrences that happened to someone else that aren’t even part of their own religious belief set*, such as snake oil and contacting the dead.

        *I would say some of these things are adjacent, like ghosts, or exclusive, like astrology, to Christianity or whatever one believes. People believe the world is a magical place and that anything they want to be true does not conflict, while others believe anything other than their brand of Christianity is both true and dangerous to dabble in.

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

          Good examples, and these provide more responses when someone says, “But why does Christianity annoy you? It doesn’t cause any harm.”

          But to push back, I doubt that they would swallow a supernatural claim for a belief system that was in conflict with Christianity–a Hindu or Mormon miracle or NDE claim, for example.

        • Kodie

          I doubt they would believe that Jesus had come back. They’re waiting for the sky to split open and go dark, they’re not waiting for an ordinary man to live and preach among them, who says he is the way.

      • Jenna Black

        Have you read Jim Warner Wallace’s book, “Cold-Case Christianity: A homicide detective investigates the claims of the Gospels”? I will be interested in hearing whether or not you still argue that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the resurrection occurred once you have read Wallace’s book.

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

          I’ve read many posts by Jim, listened to many of his podcasts, heard several interviews of him, and been on his show once. However, I haven’t read his book. I don’t think much of his arguments and doubt that there would be anything new in the book.

          If you want to bring up an argument that you think is persuasive, please do.

        • Jenna Black

          Quite frankly, I find it rather shocking that you judge J. Warner Wallace’s book before having read it.

        • Kingasaurus

          While you’re busy being shocked, feel free to take Bob’s previous advice:

          “If you want to bring up an argument that you think is persuasive, please do.”

        • Jenna Black

          An argument about what? Bob S. promised to give us an atheist’s “natural” explanation of/for the resurrection. All that he has done in reality is to argue that the resurrection never happened. I will say this: I find J. Warner Wallace’s book to be compelling because it is his account of how he became a Christian based on his laborious and thorough examination of the Gospels and other contemporary historical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection using his skills as a cold-case detective to verify the credibility of the testimony of the Gospels and NT. It is a book that IMO every Christian should read and every atheist who claims to critique the NT should read and be ready to respond to, including Bob S.

        • Kingasaurus

          If it’s so great, pick one knock-down argument from it and present it.

          —“An argument about what? Bob S. promised to give us an atheist’s “natural” explanation of/for the resurrection.”—

          And there are plenty of alternatives that don’t involve a dead guy actually walking out of a tomb. Bob’s post and this whole thread of commenting is about that. Give a compelling reason why we need to jump to the supernatural explanation when natural explanations can do the job.

          That’s how you should proceed in a case like this, but you apologists never get that.

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

          As MNb noted with his Feynman quote, people should first try to destroy their arguments themselves. Only then can they trot it out in public with some assurance that it won’t be laughed down.

        • hector

          “An argument about what?”

          Are you really that thick? You’re the one who brought up Jim Wallace’s book. So tell us what there is in that book that refutes Bob’s post, and spare us this internet apologist game of ‘you haven’t read So-and-so? I win!’

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

          Convince me. Use that book to undercut the argument in this post. Or in any post.

          So far, all I hear is, “It’s a great book.” Fair enough–show us.

          I’m very familiar with the idea of using courtroom procedures to support the gospel story. I attended John Warwick Montgomery’s 2-week Apologetics Academy in Strasbourg, France. It fails.

        • Kodie

          Did the resurrection really happen? Tell us how that works.

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

          Why? I’ve made clear that I’m already very familiar with Jim’s arguments. I don’t state with certainty that there are no good arguments there.

          Justify your shock.

        • busterggi

          Does he interview any credible eye-witnesses?

          Collect any dna? Fingerprints? Credible physical evidence?

          Didn’t think so.

        • Jenna Black

          What DNA evidence of the resurrection would you think there would have been? And how would it have been collected? By whom? For what purpose?

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

          There is no high-quality evidence from that period. It sounds like you’re in strenuous agreement.

          And that’s the point. The Christian makes the boldest of all claims but has paltry evidence to support it.

        • busterggi

          Well the RCC claims to have Jesus’ foreskin (several in fact) as well as his dna on the shroud of Turin (as well as several other shrouds) and the mandelion (and other cloths) as well as at least one vial of Mary’s breast milk so apparently lots of dna has been saved – never analyse of course.

          O/w you’re just proving my point about the lack of evidence.

  • moon_bucket

    We have another example of a Jewish Messiah where his followers turned his obvious failure into a religious mystery. Sabbatai Zevi. He claimed stuff, was betrayed, captured and renounced his faith in the face of death. Some of his followers then turned conversion into a religious mystery and still believed in him. That’s people for ya.

    • Pofarmer

      Hell, we have religions where there never was a failure, and never was mystery. LDS.

  • MNb

    An atheist – or historian of Antiquity for that matter – should not try to explain the Resurrection as an isolated phenomenon. It’s so closely related with the Ascension that any secular explanation should address both. Also, it gets boring, we should never forget that Antique authors always mixed fact and fiction.
    Then things become pretty simple. Jesus was a messias claimant. Apparently he interpreted that in such a way that he also claimed to be the Son of God. That made it into the oral tradition. Problem: the Son of God after his death at the cross should be reunited with his Father in Heaven. Solution: accept a gossip about the empty tomb, combine it with claims of believers that they had seen him after his death (remember: nobody cared about verifying stuff) and the core of the story is there. The rest is ornament.

    • avalon

      MNb,
      “An atheist – or historian of Antiquity for that matter – should not try
      to explain the Resurrection as an isolated phenomenon. It’s so closely
      related with the Ascension that any secular explanation should address
      both.”

      You’re right, they are connected. Jesus was never buried, his body was burned at Gehenna. The smoke “ascended” to heaven.

      Jesus is said to “have died for our sins” by Christians.
      This is interpreted by Christians through the lens of Christian tradition. But the writers of the gospel story weren’t christian, they were Jews. Jews had specific ideas about sin offerings with thousands of years of tradition behind them.
      The Biblical requirements for sacrifices: the ones involved with sin all involve burning all or a portion of the sacrifice. Jesus’ body, either all or part, needed to be burned to complete his sacrifice, if the requirements for a sacrifice according to the Law were to be fulfilled.

      Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, …
      1 Corinthians 5:7 Christ our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

      What did Paul (our earliest writer) say about Jesus?
      Eph 5:2 and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
      A “sacrificial and fragrant offering” is a burnt offering: Lev 4:10 and the priest must offer them up in smoke on the altar of burnt offering. Exodus 29:18 Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire. Numbers 15:3 and you present to the LORD offerings made by fire, from the herd or the flock, as an aroma pleasing to the LORD…

      Heb 8:3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is necessary that this high priest also have somewhat to offer.
      Heb 13:11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as an offering for sin are burned outside the camp.
      Lev 4:12 all the rest of the bull – he must bring outside the camp to a ceremonially clean place, to the fatty ash pile, and he must burn it on a wood fire; it must be burned on the fatty ash pile.
      Heb 13:12 Therefore, to sanctify the people by his own blood, Jesus also suffered outside the camp. (Burned outside Jerusalem at Gehenna)

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

      I didn’t realize there was a list for the Bible. Cool stuff. Thanks.

      • Kodie

        How long you’re gone until we should be worried?

  • KarlUdy

    If Jesus died around 30 CE and the first gospel was written forty years later, that’s a long time (in an unsophisticated prescientific culture) for the story to evolve.

    That’s it. It was oral history for decades in a culture full of supernatural tales, and it picked up changes and “improvements” along the way before being written.

    So your argument basically boils down to a claim that we cannot trust the accuracy of the oral tradition of Christianity until the gospels were written down.

    I think your argument has several flaws. The first is your assertion that the culture was unsophisticated. I think you mean by this that they were naive, and would readily accept as true things that we would find preposterous because they didn’t know better. I think you will find that they found the idea of dead men rising as hard to believe as people do today. Paul lost most of his audience at the Areopagus as soon as he mentioned the resurrection.

    The main point is your dependence on a 19th century view of oral tradition. You appear to have no knowledge of the work done by Vansina, Gerhardsson, Bailey or Dunn in this field. I’ve mentioned previously Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses but you don’t want to read it. At least read some more recent scholarship on oral tradition and oral cultures instead of relying on the discredited theories your argument is based on.

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

      So your argument basically boils down to a claim that we cannot trust the accuracy of the oral tradition of Christianity until the gospels were written down.

      That’s not how I’d put it. The written version was at the end of the oral process, so it was at its most distorted by that point.

      The first is your assertion that the culture was unsophisticated. I think you mean by this that they were naive, and would readily accept as true things that we would find preposterous because they didn’t know better.

      Joseph Smith told stories about using magic stones to decode gold plates and people believed him. That was in 1830. This was centuries after the geocentric universe, the printing press, the Renaissance, and so on. That culture accepted things that were preposterous. I suspect that Palestine 1800 years earlier was at least that unsophisticated. Maybe even more.

      The main point is your dependence on a 19th century view of oral tradition. You appear to have no knowledge of the work done by Vansina, Gerhardsson, Bailey or Dunn in this field. I’ve mentioned previously Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses but you don’t want to read it.

      I’ve done research in this area, but I’m sure it’s not up to your standards. As I’ve mentioned over and over, I welcome your summarizing any points from Bauckham that you think are relevant.

      At least read some more recent scholarship on oral tradition and oral cultures instead of relying on the discredited theories your argument is based on.

      Discredited theories? I’m relying mostly on common sense. Your claim must be that the chance is negligible that the gospel story was changed over decades of retelling. I’m making the very mundane claim that legendary accretion of supernatural elements is possible (seems to me that it’s screamingly obvious, but let’s go with “possible” for now).

      • Kingasaurus

        —“Joseph Smith told stories about using magic stones to decode gold plates
        and people believed him. That was in 1830.”—

        People join crazy cults NOW. Some of Jim Jones’ followers insisted they saw him walk on the water. Did he? Was there an alien spacecraft behind the Hale-Bopp comet which should have prompted otherwise sane people to commit suicide en masse?

        —“Your claim must be that the chance is negligible that the gospel story was changed over decades of retelling.”—

        All this also assumes that what we know as “Mark” was actually constructed from “oral tradition.” We don’t know that. The idea that there is borrowing from the Septuagint, Homer and Euripides should at least make us skeptical. But the “oral tradition” fetishists don’t seem to allow for other possibilities.

        The idea that Paul’s beliefs about this “Jesus” are compatible and consistent with the story we later read in Mark is an unwarranted assumption.

        ( KarlUdy: —“I think you will find that they found the idea of dead men rising as hard to believe as people do today. Paul lost most of his audience at the Areopagus as soon as he mentioned the resurrection.”—-

        It couldn’t have been that unusual an idea, since we are told in the Gospels that some thought Jesus was John the Baptist resurrected, or likewise one of the OT prophets. Or are we just assuming the NT is accurate only in the places where it supports our contentions?)

        • KarlUdy

          People join crazy cults NOW

          And we’re scientific and sophisticated now, which means that painting 1st century people as being susceptible to believe uncritically compared to rational 21st century people as a gross mischaracterization.

        • Kingasaurus

          They’re MORE uncritical than we are now. It’s a sliding scale, Karl. Not an either-or.

          If even today people can be completely fooled by nonsense, and wilfully ignore disconfirming evidence that tells them they’re mistaken, how much more so in ancient times when people had a more supernaturalist and less scientific view of nearly everything?

        • KarlUdy

          Pure chronological snobbery

        • Pofarmer

          Not at all Karl. Just look at ancient Jewish(and other) Cosmology. The earth, on pillars, covered by a dome, with stars set in the dome of the firmament. They believed that angels moved the sun across the heavens. They believed that gods opened the firmament to make it rain. They believed that comets and meteors were signs from the Gods. They believed that the tides were caused by Gods. They sacrificed children to the Gods for the prosperity of a community of the safety of a building. They believed common illnesses were caused by bad spirits. And on, and on. This isn’t snobbery, it’s fact.

        • KarlUdy

          All cosmologies are models and frameworks to help us understand what we do know. Medieval astronomy though in error in being geocentric, was considered correct because it predicted the motions of the heavenly spheres accurately. Most representations of our current model distort size and distance.

          It is unfair to characterize them as naive towards that which they do know (eg death) based on not having access to other unrelated information we have now.

        • Pofarmer

          “Medieval astronomy though in error in being geocentric, was considered
          correct because it predicted the motions of the heavenly spheres
          accurately.”

          We are talking before Medieval.

          “Most representations of our current model distort size and distance.”

          Eh?

          “It is unfair to characterize them as naive towards that which they do know (eg death)’

          The point is Karl, there were numerous resurrection stories running around, numerous accounts of heroes venturing to Hades and returning. They used myth and legend as a way to understand things because that was a large part of what they had.

        • KarlUdy

          You are making a faulty inference from what stories they told, to what they believed those stories meant.

        • Pofarmer

          You may be onto something.

        • Pattrsn

          I think you’re finally starting to get it

        • Kodie

          Karl think common illnesses might be caused by demons, so I’m going to surprisingly side with Karl here. That stuff you talk about was their scientific consensus. If you really take a look around at people today, they are not really smarter than people long ago. As a species, we know more, but that doesn’t mean everyone knows even that much or can explain it. For example, I only have a vague idea how airplanes stay in the air, and if you didn’t know at all and I explained it to you, you might think I knew a lot (kind of like how my mother thinks I’m a computer genius), but probably you would be afraid to get in one and fly. Another example is Karl, who could, with all the advantages of living in the modern times, find out what causes diseases or study and determine that it is not demons, but he insists on being swayed by perpetuating superstitions. In the 1st century, they believed these things because it’s what everyone believed and they didn’t have any innovative ambition to find the real cause, while Karl deliberately refuses to learn what the rest of us know or have access to knowing. In a strange twist of anecdotal evidence, people like Karl are more willfully ignorant, as many of our contemporary peers are, and people in the 1st century were merely ignorant.

          I’m saying that just because we use computers and robots and space exploring robots doesn’t mean humans are smarter now than they ever were. Most people are just riding along and don’t know shit, and easily fall for stories and marketing tactics that give them the confidence in their gut in their choices and beliefs. So you would think someone as gullible as Karl would be confused as to what is really true. He is hearing a lot of convincing arguments from several sides, but that’s not how it works. He is sticking with the one that gives him confidence and not willing to be shaken or doubtful. Perhaps because the stakes of his beliefs are so high, but more likely a human device. The global warming debate is another example here – it’s either true or not true. It is not up for opinion. Both sides make strong (or strongly convincing) claims and arguments and make evidence. I have noticed for a while that people like to make strong opinions about something and move on. Some people like to get swept up in a cause or a movement, but most people seem to be passive about most issues, even after they have formed an opinion. The news often presents pressing issues as if there is a choice to be made and promote surveys or even heated arguments that last a couple days and then go on to the next issue.

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

          The upcoming “Noah” movie will show water bursting from the deep, just like it says in good ol’ Genesis. If it didn’t, I’m sure they’d get complaints.

        • Pofarmer

          I think it also shows the “Elohim” or products of Angels and Man. That should be good.

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

          I think you mean the Nephilim.

          Yes, I’ve heard that there is controversy about how they’re portrayed. (Didn’t they exist after the flood? But how, since they didn’t make it on the ark?)

        • Pofarmer

          I thought part of the point of the flood was to wipe the Nephilim(sorry) out?

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

          “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Num. 13:33).

          This was after the Exodus but before the conquest of Canaan. Note, however, that this may be a false report, so it may be that no one actually thought the Nephilim were still there. Still, you must explain why such a story was believable, since the Flood would’ve killed them.

          And then you have Goliath being a giant, though I don’t know that he was connected with the Nephilim.

        • Pofarmer

          “6 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with[a] humans forever, for they are mortal[b]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”

          1 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So
          God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the
          earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to
          destroy both them and the earth.”

          So, either they survived, or there’s a contradiction..

        • Kingasaurus

          Right. Because thinking, say, that diseases are caused by sin or demon possession is exactly like today.

        • Pofarmer

          I think Karl must have never read Numbers or Leviticus.

        • avalpert

          Yes, it is like today – that’s why so many people pray or why exorcisms still exist.

          On this I think Karl has a point – I don’t know that there is any real evidence to support the notion that they were more uncritical than we are now. They didn’t have the depth of knowledge and capabilities that we have accumulated to apply whatever degree of critical thinking we choose but I don’t think it follows from there that on the whole people they were more uncritical.

        • Kingasaurus

          —“Yes, it is like today – that’s why so many people pray or why exorcisms still exist.”—

          Yes, exorcisms still exist. How prevalent are they?

          —“They didn’t have the depth of knowledge and capabilities
          that we have accumulated to apply whatever degree of critical thinking we choose”—

          That’s what I’m saying makes a difference.

        • avalpert

          Exorcisms maybe less so – prayer as part of healing is probably just as prevalent.

        • Pofarmer

          And still just as effective. Except now, prayer is combined with scientific medicine.

        • avalpert

          For the most part – we still have our exceptions though.

          On a slightly related topic, sometime I’ll need to relay the fascinating conversations I had with the Jikmé Chökyi Senge (a Buddhist lama) and Dr. Matthieu Ricard (French doctor turned Buddhist monk) on the difference in veracity between Eastern and Western medicine. I met the Lama at the airport in Delhi where as the only two people ignorant enough to think check-in would open more than 10 minutes before our flight to Kathmandu, and as the only person there who treated him as a human and not a deity, we had a long conversation and he invited me to spend some time at his monastery. In any case, Ricard had pretty much bought in to Buddhist philosophy (one of his books that he co-wrote with his father, French philosopher Jean-Francois Revel, is a very interesting read) but refused to take their medical work seriously at all.

        • Pofarmer

          From what I understand of prayer studies. Prayer or meditation can indeed help the individual who is ailing from whatever depending on the parameters you use. Intercessory prayer actually is shown to have the opposite effect.

        • avalpert

          Yes, that is pretty much right.
          And some of the meditation studies (including ones that Ricard has been both a participant and researcher for) done in purely academic setting have found many real physical benefits to mind and body of meditation. But, as evidenced by the popularization of new age everything, a kernel of truth can lead to mountain of gibberish very easily among our species.

        • Kodie

          I do not observe or experience more critical thinking or less ignorance. If it’s not exorcisms, it’s some kind of magic healing juice or The Secret. It’s an illusion that there are more more intelligent people now who read and research and think critically about anything.

        • Pofarmer

          I think your point is valid. We know more as a whole, but individuals can clearly still be suckered in by the same sorts of stuff. We are, after all, still homo sapiens, and our brains are still wired largely the same way.

        • Kingasaurus

          Like I said, I don’t think the ancients were less intelligent. It’s just a question of whether you’re reasoning from correct or incorrect information. If your base assumption is false, common-sense extrapolations from that are likely to compound the falsehood.

          Like, the volcano is erupting because the volcano god is angry (false or bad information), so we’ll fix it by throwing a virgin into the volcano (even worse secondary idea). Yeah, if there actually was a volcano god who would stop the eruption if you killed a virgin, you can reason that it makes sense because you’re saving the lives of everyone else.

          But we’re now in a better position than those people were, because we have a better understanding of why volcanos erupt. So we make a better decision to just evacuate everyone and we don’t sacrifice any virgins.

        • Kodie

          And yet every time a hurricane or other disaster devastates a region of the earth, the internet is buzzing with people claiming that it’s god’s wrath or merciful justice or whatever for gays/abortion/Pearl Harbor. There are plenty of people to discredit them or, more popularly, ignore their “harmless!” beliefs. Beyond that, people buy a lot of stuff that doesn’t work, and they don’t become smarter after finding that out the first time.

        • Kingasaurus

          We’re certainly not immune to those things in the present day. No doubt about that.

        • Kodie

          It is simply my observation that the average critical thinking skills of the modern human are often grossly overstated. People can know stuff and still be gullible or ignorant about other things, even many other things. It’s sort of the same fallacy where you might say ancient people had more wisdom because they lived a long time ago, somewhat based on the lasting texts of some philosophers and finding the modern landscape to be lacking for such profound thinkers.

          As a species, it’s not clear to me, either, that we are all required to know so much or think deeply upon a variety of subjects. It’s obviously not crucial to reproduction. We all can’t know everything, so I think most people find it more practical to address things they don’t have time to research with “whatever works”, which is a combination of luck, what everyone else is doing, whatever the tv personality thinks is best, and a little trial and error, but not a lot.

          Easy solutions to life’s toughest and most time-consuming problems are popular to sell because these are the things people don’t have time to do the slow researched way, like lose weight- that takes time every day to exercise, and a new shopping list and possibly cooking classes. You have to make that your new favorite hobby, most people want to take a pill and hope that it will work like in the ads. It’s easy to get discouraged and turn back to unhealthy eating. Any area of self-improvement takes the long, sort of boring or difficult way, and I guess religion makes that into a social club and maybe only the illusion of self-improvement. Jesus loves you even if you are a waste of oxygen, pill taken, seems to improve people’s self-acceptance, a bit, maybe.

        • MNb

          It helps that many people realize how easily they can be fooled. Richard Feynman said famously

          “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

        • Kingasaurus

          Agreed. I rescind my use of the word “uncritical”, because it’s creating confusion about what I actually meant.

        • Kodie

          People now aren’t nearly as sophisticated individually as we as a group tend to take credit for. I would never say that 1st century people were categorically stupider or more ignorant. They didn’t have as much information period or as easy access to what information was known, but, being humans, they are just susceptible to persuasive illogical arguments and conclusion-jumping as you are.

        • KarlUdy

          My arguments are persuasive? Why, thank you :-)

        • Kodie

          You’re reading comprehension is top-notch as well.

        • Kingasaurus

          It was an ignorance problem, not an intelligence problem. But it still makes a difference. The assumption of supernaturalist causation is simply less these days, because we know more.

        • Ron

          The Antiquities of the Jews

          BOOK XVII. Containing The Interval Of Fourteen Years.—From The Death Of Alexander And Aristobulus To The Banishment Of Archelaus.

          CHAPTER 12. Concerning A Spurious Alexander.

          Yes, first century people were just as susceptible to believing uncritically.

        • MNb

          Well, given the staggering amounts of creationists and climate”sceptics” all over the world I’m sure many 21st Century people are as susceptible to believe uncritically all kind of whacko stuff as two millennia ago.
          Yes, that applies to me as well. Critical thinking and objectively evaluating empirical data is hard. I have been besides the mark more often than I like to admit.

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

          You reject the idea of pushing the people of the 1st century far below people today. You’d rather push the people of today down to the level of the 1st century. Yes, I agree to some extent. People today can believe some stupid s**t

          Now, back to the point: you apparently agree that people back then had no difficulty believing stupid things without good evidence. They do today; why not then?

          This undercuts your position, as I understand it.

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

          The assumption of oral tradition (as opposed to the author just sitting down and making up the story out of his head) seems to me to be the more charitable assumption. If that is the best Christian argument and it falls, then any weaker story also falls.

        • Kingasaurus

          —“The assumption of oral tradition (as opposed to the author just sitting down and making up the story out of his head) seems to me to be the more charitable assumption”—

          It would, unless you think the overwhelming majority of things in Mark look like they were borrowed from other literary sources. IF that were true, then Mark is a skilfully crafted literary creation, and then how many of the ideas contained in it would actually qualify as something that would stem from oral tradition about a real person in the recent past?

          I don’t know the answer to that. If guys like Doherty, Price and Carrier happen to be correct (If, if…) then whatever presumed “oral tradition” is going on there is severely undercut. If Mark is doing some euhemerizing, there could be beliefs about an original celestial Jesus that are passed on orally. But that’s not what most Christians mean by “oral tradition”. They’re talking about stories passed down about a real guy, originally by people who knew him.

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

          I think we’re on the same page, except perhaps with my assumption of oral tradition. Again, that seems to be the most charitable assumption, one that the Christian antagonist will grant–unlike the idea that Mark cobbled the whole thing together from Josephus and Homer, or that Jesus never existed as a historical figure.

          I want to defeat that strongest-of-all Christian arguments.

        • MNb

          “It would, unless you think the overwhelming majority of things in Mark look like they were borrowed from other literary sources.”
          Looks like a false dilemma to me. Why wouldn’t the storytellers (and remember: precious few people back then were literate) of that time be familiar with stories written down in other literary sources, by the same means – hearing stories told?

        • Kingasaurus

          No, I don’t mean other written stories about Jesus floating around.

          I’m referring to Mark possibly borrowing and repurposing stories from the OT and Homer an having them fit his Jesus character instead. That looks like literary invention, not writing down oral tradition or earlier writen sourrces about a person who lived in the recent past and knew people who were supposedly still alive.

        • MNb

          Yeah, I understood. My question is why could that borrowing and repurposing not be part of that same oral tradition.

        • Kingasaurus

          I suppose It could be, but it wouldn’t be an accurate representation of what this guy would have said or done. You’re just taking OT miracle stories done by Moses or Elijah, and rewriting them to have the new hero Jesus do them instead. It’s not impossible that that’s oral tradition, but it seems fishy.

        • MNb

          I was not thinking of the references to the OT, but of stuff borrowed from neighbouring cultures.

      • KarlUdy

        Discredited theories? I’m relying mostly on common sense. Your claim must be that the chance is negligible that the gospel story was changed over decades of retelling. I’m making the very mundane claim that legendary accretion of supernatural elements is possible (seems to me that it’s screamingly obvious, but let’s go with “possible” for now).

        Your “common sense” is employing a bunch of assumptions that rest either on the discredited theories about oral history proposed by Bultmann et al, or the assumption that 1st century Jewish and Greek culture treated oral tradition the same way as 21st century Western culture does.

        • Pofarmer

          Question Karl. How do you know how the Jesus story started out? Assuming that it was oral tradition, which isn’t particularly evident from either the epistles or the gospels. But how do you know what the first version was?

        • KarlUdy

          Best evidence is that 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 records a very early creed-like statement. It is also likely that Mark records a series of stories that were probably recited by Peter thousands of times in his preaching ministry, going back to the first years of the early church.

        • Pofarmer

          That Statement is basically Pauls whole Gig. Do you have evidence that an earlier belief preceded it?

        • KarlUdy

          It still uses some Aramaic names. Paul uses terms for “received” and “passed on” which indicate something like formal memorization.

        • busterggi

          Based on what?

          “And it came to pass…” sounds like formal memorization but Joe Smith pulled it out of his ass.

        • Pofarmer

          Joe Smith would be more like “And it cameth, to passeth.”

        • busterggi
        • Pofarmer

          Mark Twain. Gotta read that.

        • busterggi

          How likely? How bout some evidence rather than opinion.

        • wtfwjtd

          Come on Karl, haven’t you been paying attention? I Cor 15 is boiler-plate stuff, things that Paul got from OT writings. As for Mark? Nobody really has any idea where he got his material from, whoever that anonymous writer of Mark may have been, 40 + years after the supposed events. And oral “tradition”? That’s just more hearsay, in fact it’s hearsay about hearsay, as there has never even been any reasonable confirmation of the very existence of this oral tradition. And that’s supposed to be convincing?

        • Kingasaurus

          They have to appeal to oral tradition, otherwise the Gospels are unreliable contrived literary works with previous literary sources like the Septuagint or Homer. They can’t get back to Jesus with that.

        • MNb

          “Assuming that it was oral tradition, which isn’t particularly evident from either the epistles or the gospels.”
          That’s a safe assumption.

          http://www.livius.org/theory/orality/

          Of course your question is still unanswered – unanswerable.

      • Jenna Black

        Bob,

        You appear to be unfamiliar with the Jewish traditions regarding the accuracy and fidelity of Holy Scriptures since you speculate that what was written down coming from an oral tradition would be “distorted”. I think that you need to deal with the realities of the full cultural and traditional context of the writing down of the accounts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension.

        • Kodie

          We’re familiar with it because that’s KarlUdy’s favorite. They had a famous oral tradition which totally obliterates any argument that they might have ever changed the story over decades or more of retelling it.

        • Kingasaurus

          Right!

          And when Matthew and Luke and John change Mark, that’s really just four independent witnesses looking differently at the same car accident.

          😛

        • Pofarmer

          Not only that, but because someone was telling a story-TRUE!

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

          Well, yeah. If they saw so remarkable a series of events, they would’ve remembered very accurately. So the story couldn’t have been modified over time. Or something.

          (See how easy it is if you just start with the presupposition?)

        • MNb

          Why am I thinking of 9/11 and all the myths developed around that historical event?

        • Kingasaurus

          Look at all the stories about Robin Hood and King Arthur. It’s a good bet that neither one was even “historical” in a way we would recognize.

          (And both are closer to us in time than Jesus was)

          How did so many consistent stories get told about these people if it never happened? Huh? Answer that, smart guy!

          LOL

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

          You’ve probably heard that it took 2 years for the fraction of Americans who thought that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11 to drop below 50%.

          (Sometimes I wonder who I’m on this cruise with …)

        • MNb

          No, but somehow I’m not surprised.

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

          If I understand your point, you’re marveling that copyists of the Scripture would discard a page if they made a single mistake. That’s how highly they valued accuracy.

          But that’s irrelevant. The New Testament writings weren’t Scripture, remember? They may have been important, but they weren’t sacred. We have boatloads of evidence of changes made (the Comma Johanneum), additions (last chapter of John, long ending of Mark), pseudepigraphy (half of the “Pauline” epistles weren’t written by Paul), and so on.

          And that’s only after it’s written! You know how stories get passed along and modified/improved along the way. You have probably seen newspaper articles that are wrong even though they write about something that happened the previous day. If you’re saying that during the oral period, no one said anything without about Jesus without memorizing flawlessly the entire gospel (which gospel, I wonder??), prove it.

        • Jenna Black

          Your theory is about what might of happened between the oral accounts of witnesses to the events of Jesus’ life and ministry and his death and resurrection and the writing down of these events is what we are talking about here. I point out, and you affirm, that practices and traditions for the transmission and preservation of the holy scriptures among the Jews provide us with writings that are faithful and accurate across many generations. We agree on that.

          So on what you do base your claim that the early copies of the Gospels were not considered holy or sacred to those who were ensuring their transmission within their community of faith and outside it as the Apostles conducted their ministries and formed new Christian communities through Asia Minor? What makes you think they were not conscientious about fidelity to the actual events, i.e. faithful and truthful testimony? There are thousands of artifacts of the early gospel manuscripts to examine to compare to verify the level of consistency and accuracy of these writings, which is very high. What leads you to conclude that there are “distortions” between the actual events and the written accounts of those events? What is your evidence that you allege contradicts the archival evidence from the contemporary manuscripts?

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

          practices and traditions for the transmission and preservation of the holy scriptures among the Jews provide us with writings that are faithful and accurate across many generations. We agree on that.

          I would say “quite good,” not accurate. And let’s not forget the period of oral history that the gospel story had to make it through.

          So on what you do base your claim that the early copies of the Gospels were not considered holy or sacred to those who were ensuring their transmission within their community of faith and outside it as the Apostles conducted their ministries and formed new Christian communities through Asia Minor?

          For starters, that they were treated very much not like the Jewish scriptures. You’ve probably heard that there are more errors in all the Greek manuscripts than there are words.

          Also, what is authoritative? There were Ebionite, Gnostic, Marcionite, and other traditions bubbling up during the first couple of centuries. The one that we have is the one that survived, not the one that was correct!

          What makes you think they were not conscientious about fidelity to the actual events, i.e. faithful and truthful testimony?

          Make that argument if you want to, but “there is reason to believe that the oral history was quite good” does you no good. You must show that it the transmission was flawless (which is hard to do, given the contradictions in the gospels). The natural explanation—that this was yet one more supernatural tale—screams out as the obvious explanation. You’ve got a huge mountain to climb to overturn that.

          What leads you to conclude that there are “distortions” between the actual events and the written accounts of those events?

          You’ve got it backwards. I have nothing to prove. You have the burden of proof and must show us how the story had to have been transmitted accurately, and that the written records weren’t tampered with (there’s a centuries-long dark ages from original manuscripts to our earliest complete copies).

        • Jenna Black

          I hate for us to have to dwell on this concept even yet, but I think we need to be clear on the concept of the “burden of proof.” As I recall, your promise in opening this thread was that you were going to give us an atheist’s “natural explanation” of the resurrection. What this lead me to expect was that you were going to argue against the truth of the resurrection based on naturalism. However, what I find here is that instead, you argue against the credibility of the Gospels and the New Testament and basically claim that the resurrection never occurred. So, now you claim that I, as a Christian, or we Christians collectively have a “burden of proof” that Jesus was resurrected (the resurrection occurred). I see no indication that the New Testament shies away from this burden of proof, which does not fall on the followers of Christianity, either individually or collectively.

          I feel a bit like the victim of a “bait and switch” here. If your purpose is to discredit the Gospels and the NT using the devices, strategies and claims that I see you using here, then don’t call this a “natural explanation” of the resurrection. We are all most certainly aware that you do not believe in the resurrection. So state these reasons clearly and up front, but don’t call on the followers of Christianity, most especially those who voluntarily contribute to this discussion, to prove the chain of custody and the accuracy of the NT that we hold in our hands today and from which we have reached our individual verdicts about the truth of the resurrection of Jesus.

        • avalpert

          “against the truth of the resurrection based on naturalism”
          In nature, the dead do not come back to life.

          Whew, glad we could get that argument behind us – it’s a tough one I know. Now, back to the point – if someone where to tell a tale of such a resurrection, given that it isn’t know to ever occur naturally, they will have a strong burden of proof to convince the rational person.

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

          As I recall, your promise in opening this thread was that you were going to give us an atheist’s “natural explanation” of the resurrection.

          Hopefully we’re on the same page now. I propose to give a natural explanation for the existence of the agreed-to facts: the stories of a resurrection.

          basically claim that the resurrection never occurred.

          I don’t know this for certain, but given the plausible natural explanation for the facts, this is the best bet.

        • Kodie

          Sorry, I need to question your intelligence. You think you didn’t get what you came here for and ? bitch about it for a few dozen posts because you either do or do not*, as a follower of Christ, have the burden of proof on the claim that Christ resurrected.

          *I have posts from you saying it both ways, contradicting yourself and hoping we won’t notice.

        • Pofarmer

          Were those that reported, say, the Virgin birth of Ceasar Augustus, or the feats of the mighty Hercules, also giving faithful and truthful testimony?

        • MNb

          Harry Potter ….

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

          One of my favorite stories from that time: Suetonius (often cited as providing important extra-bibilical evidence for Jesus) wrote about a spirit urging Julius Caesar to cross the Rubicon.

        • MNb

          Ah – Suetonius is an excellent example how authors from Antiquity always had an agenda.

          http://www.livius.org/su-sz/suetonius/suetonius.html

        • Pofarmer

          Good times. Doesn’t Suetonius also verify Hercules?

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

          Both Tacitus and Josephus accept a historical Hercules. I haven’t heard that said about Suetonius.

    • busterggi

      Karl, the gospel authors don’t even agree on the details – I think that’s pretty fair evidence that the story went through plenty of changes and its in writing.

      • Pofarmer

        Well, whether the storh changed or not, you have to first assume the story didn’t START OUT as a tall tale.

        • busterggi

          Not really – the stories about Paul Bunyan & Pecos Bill & Moroni started out as tall tales.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          I don’t see why it would have been so unlikely that a rabble-rousing rabbi existed at the time and was later mythologized. There were probably more than a few with the common name Yeshua, which is why they initially had to refer to Jesus of Nazareth just to keep things straight. Did mystery religions commonly worship deities from backwaters like Galilee? Why would the Gospel authors and editors have made up the stories of the census or Herod’s massacre to explain why their Galilean was actually born in distant Bethlehem unless it was widely accepted that he was from Nazareth to begin with?

          It doesn’t make a whit of difference to me whether Jesus existed or not. But I’m afraid this mythicism thing sounds like an Internet hoax.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, but isn’t it Mark that references people going to see Jesus in Capernaum? Even the idea of Nazareth comes from the OT. “And he shall be called a Nazareen”. The birth in Bethlehem was to fulfill the prophecy of David. Herod’s massacre was an invention to mirror the kiling of the first borns in the story of Moses. Just like the star of Bethlehem is a nod to the Ancient beliefs that new stars formed on the Births and Deaths of important people. If there is a historical kernel, it is very, very small.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          Yeah, but isn’t it Mark that references people going to see Jesus in Capernaum? Even the idea of Nazareth comes from the OT. “And he shall be called a Nazareen”.

          Capernaum is in Galilee. It seems like the kernel of truth is someone from Galilee, around whom all these myths developed. Incidentally, the Nazareth “prophecy” is only referred to by Matthew, there’s no actual OT reference.

          The birth in Bethlehem was to fulfill the prophecy of David. Herod’s massacre was an invention to mirror the kiling of the first borns in the story of Moses. Just like the star of Bethlehem is a nod to the Ancient beliefs that new stars formed on the Births and Deaths of important people.

          Yeah yeah yeah, I know. That’s just my point, though. If Jesus were totally made up, why not just have him be born and bred in Bethlehem like King David? Why have his family from Nazareth and have him grow up in a podunk province like Galilee?

          I dunno, it just seems like the truthiness of these myths is beside the point. I don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. But even if he did, it doesn’t automatically validate the Church’s hegemony or nullify the First Amendment basis for secular society.

        • Kingasaurus

          –“I dunno, it just seems like the truthiness of these myths is beside the point.”—

          It depends. If Jesus was a made-up character and not based on a real person, it would be better to know that. It’s always better to have more correct information about the past than less. If you find studying the Bible (simply for its own sake) of interest, then that’s a question you’d like to have the right answer to.

          Arguing that Christians are incorrect about their “God-man” isn’t really impacted by that. You can argue that case as a mythicist or a historicist.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          Arguing that Christians are incorrect about their “God-man” isn’t really impacted by that.

          But whether they’re “correct” about it or not, that doesn’t give them the right to dominate, censor, and oppress. The Christians’ view is that a miracle (or a few) happened, and thus they’re justified in discriminating against people or violating the separation of Church and State. That doesn’t follow, whether or not we believe that the miracle happened.

        • Kingasaurus

          You’re right.

          So when I decide to engage in discussion about mythicism or historicism in a place like this, I’m doing it as an academic exercise, because I find the subject interesting. The role Christians should or shouldn’t have in society is a different matter.

        • Pofarmer

          “Incidentally, the Nazareth “prophecy” is only referred to by Matthew, there’s no actual OT reference.”

          Yeah, O.k. That’s the one that Mathew references that nobody knows where it comes from.

          “That’s just my point, though. If Jesus were totally made up, why not
          just have him be born and bred in Bethlehem like King David? Why have
          his family from Nazareth and have him grow up in a podunk province like
          Galilee?”

          Yeah, but is that any harder than the stories are just additions to Paul and Mark? There was an existing story that had to be added onto?

        • MNb

          “It seems like the kernel of truth is someone from Galilee”
          A little more can be established with some confidence. That someone was a messiah claimant, had some followers, probably predicted he would come back after his death and possibly died a very painful death. Pissing off jewish and Roman authorities could be a very good reason.
          As for his views attributed to him it’s impossible to make out if they are his own or developed by his followers. That doesn’t matter much; compare the development of pastafarianism.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          “It seems like the kernel of truth is someone from Galilee”
          A little more can be established with some confidence.

          Fine. I just think it would have been easier for fabulists to have their demigod be born and live in King David’s Bethlehem, rather than have to fabricate weird excuses to get the demigod’s family to Bethlehem from Nazareth, where he lived and taught throughout his life, not to mention fabricating a “prophecy” about his being a guy who lived in Nazareth that even the prophets didn’t appear to know about.

          It just seems that the guy’s Galilean roots were a stumbling block, which wouldn’t have been the case if they’d made him up out of thin air.

        • avalpert

          Keeping in mind that the birth stories that send him to Bethlehem develop later (or at least are incorporated by Luke and Matthew from a source other than Mark) I think it is just as likely that the story of messiah from Galilee had already established himself that these late-comers wanted to attach a link to the Davidic monarchy to as there actually having been a messiah claimant from Galilee that they wanted to attach a link to.

        • Kingasaurus

          —“I don’t see why it would have been so unlikely that a rabble-rousing rabbi existed at the time and was later mythologized.”—

          It’s not that unlikely, but it isn’t the only possibility, and those sympathetic to mythicism chafe at the notion that many historicists have, that mythicism of any stripe is crazy. It’s not.

          Mythicism makes more sense of some otherwise confusing things in the Pauline Epistles. It’s worth looking at, even if it ends up being wrong. The evidence as a whole is so fragmentary that we shouldn’t be so sure of ourselves.

          –“Why would the Gospel authors and editors have made up the stories of the census or Herod’s massacre to explain why their Galilean was actually born in distant Bethlehem unless it was widely accepted that he was from Nazareth to begin with?”—

          There’s apparently other prophecies involving Nazareth also, or possibly “Nazirite” or “Nazorean” refers to something other than being from Nazareth. So they assumed it meant “from Nazareth” anyway, and therefore had to shoehorn this character to be somehow both from Nazareth AND Bethlehem. I don’t have the relevant arguments at my fingertips.

          —“doesn’t make a whit of difference to me whether Jesus existed or not. But I’m afraid this
          mythicism thing sounds like an Internet hoax.”—

          Me neither, but it’s not a hoax. Just a minority position.

        • Pofarmer

          “Me neither, but it’s not a hoax. Just a minority position.”

          And it’s a position that shows up from the very beginnings of Christianity.

        • MNb

          “made up the stories of the census or Herod’s massacre”
          During Antiquity it was as highly common figure of speech to begin your story with a narrow escape from death. It was a way to tell the reader that the author would tell a very important story and that the reader better paid close attention.
          It’s neither an argument for nor against a historical Jesus.

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

          I’ve also heard that “Jesus the Nazarene” was like “Simon the Zealot”–a differentiation based on being part of a sect rather than where you come from. Then later people were confused and thought that it was a place identifier.

        • Kingasaurus

          I’ve heard that too.

        • Kodie

          Sometimes stories that are made up gather more details. I might be talking out of turn, but it’s as if some people believe someone made up the whole rumor in the first place. Even rumors gather details. If you hear a rumor about the same thing from two different sources as it goes around, when you pass it along, it will contain details from one that were missing from another, or you may think it will sound juicier if you add in your own thoughts.

          We do this now. We hear a story on the news that is played to be shocking or provocative. They want you to take notice of their program, and their tone of voice impresses you with how important the story is and how you should react – whether you should be sad, angry, outraged, delighted. If you are to talk about this story with someone else, you might color it with your opinions. A child goes missing or a bomb goes off somewhere, and you will be affected to fill in the blanks – that father pleading for the safe return of his son looks guilty, or for example, in the Boston Marathon bombing last year, plenty of people shared pictures of spectators who merely looked disinterested, and yet when it shook out, had nothing to do with it. They were labeled suspect and people looking at those pictures were influenced by it and shared it with others, adding their own thoughts.

          So anyway, Jesus has a backstory. What could make the King of Everything more sincere than coming from a humble backwater, or was so famous before he was born that an order went out to kill all the newborn boys to suppress his important message, instigating his parents to move? When you’re not prone to believe the main gist of this legend, adding believable details of a typical sort of man of the era develops his character for the audience. If you are watching or reading Superman, it might not come up all the time, but you know he was sent from Krypton by Jor-El and raised by the Kents. Knowing that enriches the story. But who would make that up?

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

          I’m sympathetic to the mythicist argument but don’t know it hardly enough to argue for it. More relevant: I would never use it as a counter-apologetic argument. It’s a tangent that doesn’t help make your case.

          In fact, Richard Carrier forcefully made this same point just recently.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          I admit Carrier is one of the reasons I remain skeptical. This man is such a self-aggrandizing twerp that if he claimed the sky is blue, I’d assume he only said it because he has a book deal in the works.

        • Kingasaurus

          Isn’t that the “Messenger is a Jerk” fallacy? LOL

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          Technically the Argumentum ad Blowhardiam.

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

          He lives off his book sales. Having written several books (and not succeeded in making enough to live off), I know that that’s a tough road.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          As an aspiring author myself, maybe I’m just jealous. But I think Carrier did major damage to nonbelief with his “Atheism Plus” posturing. We don’t need people thinking we’re all antisocial jerks.

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

          I backed off from Freethought blogs after they seemed to write about nothing but misogyny. Yeah, that’s a problem, but it’s not #1 on my list.

          I didn’t follow Atheism Plus (I didn’t see how it differed from Humanism), but there seemed to be way too much emotion in the discussion. Did I miss anything?

        • MNb

          No. I moved with Chris H to Patheos, though still follow PZ (because he can be very funny) and Mano Singham (who is a lone ranger anyway and an excellent physicist), for exactly his reason: I perfectly can do without the drama. I have my private life for this.

        • Pofarmer

          There are only a couple of blogs on freethought that I like. One of them is Carriers.

        • MNb

          One point for RC.

        • primenumbers

          Seems to me that unless we dig up some more useful historical documents and evidence, about the best we can be is agnostic on the historicity of Jesus. And the consensus historical Jesus doesn’t help the Christian one little bit either….

      • KarlUdy

        Sticking with the 19th century arguments?

        • busterggi

          Hey, the arguement is still correct so why not?

    • Pofarmer

      If Paul lost most of those listening to him, then he retained a core of “true beleivers”. This is consistent with what Richard Carrier lays out in ” Not the impossible Faith”.

    • Kodie

      We cannot trust them when they are looking for things that aren’t there, that can easily be considered another, more logical way. Haven’t you been following these threads? You have wishful thinking.

      • Kingasaurus

        –“You have wishful thinking.”–

        Yes. You basically need to prove their faith impossible before they’ll even consider it improbable.

        • KarlUdy

          Ironic, when it is Bob who is saying that his hypothesis of events needs to be proved impossible before he will accept the traditional Christian understanding.

        • Kingasaurus

          “The traditional Christian understanding” is to treat Christian canonical material as divinely inspired, “holy” text, rather than simply studying and analyzing them like any other fallible ancient text.

          The traditional “understanding” is accepted because of a previous faith commitment.

          Simply listening to such a proposal and finding it either absurd or at least unwarranted based on the evidence we DO have is hardly unreasonable. All you need are plausible alternatives to the supernaturalist assumptions of Christian apologists, and there are plenty of plausible alternatives.

        • Kodie

          Did you miss the word “improbable” there. The traditional Christian understanding is to hand-wave away or bullshit what doesn’t fit. You want it to be true, so any obstacle you come to in the account, you rationalize. You don’t have a positively evidenced account – you have a broken and myth-like account and you bridge the gaps with plenty of “most likely’s” and “as per the customs of the time”. You aren’t a scholar, but you’re gullible enough and invested enough in its truth to fail to see the flaws in the scholarly arguments. In a review for your Bauckham book, apparently your favorite author admits as much as his motivation to do so much research and finding the results that he does is important to him. To the rest of us, that’s called a conflict of interest.

        • Jenna Black

          Kodie, there is no “conflict of interest” in examining the Gospels and reaching a judgment about the credibility of the testimony and to the witnesses who give their testimony in the Gospels and the New Testament that they provide. This is what every Christian does at some level in order to reach our individual “verdict” about the truth. Our motivation is a search for the truth, as I assume yours is as well.

        • Kodie

          The author of Karl’s favorite book makes a specific point to say that if he doesn’t reach the conclusion he wants that his life has no meaning or purpose. He cannot be objective. Next!

        • Jenna Black

          So why do you think a search for meaning and purpose in life is a “conflict of interest”? Yes, we Christians find meaning and purpose in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So what does this conflict with? Atheism? I’ll grant you that.

        • Kingasaurus

          It conflicts with the idea that you would despair if your source of meaning and purpose were taken away, so you argue however you need to to make sure you continue to find it convincing.

          That’s not disinterested investigation.

        • Pofarmer

          Here’s one of the latest making the rounds

          “Hebrew Name – English Meaning

          Adam – Man

          Seth (son of Adam) – Appointed

          Enosh (son of Seth) – Mortal

          Kenan (son of Enosh) – Sorrow

          Mahalalel (son of Kenan) – The blessed God

          Jared (son of Mahalalel) – Shall come down

          Enoch (son of Jared) – Teaching

          Methuselah (son of Enosh) – His death shall bring

          Lamech (son of Methuselah) – The Despairing

          Noah (son of Lamech) – Rest, or comfort

          These geneologies appear in Genesis 5:1-32

          What do the names mean?

          Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.”

          By Chuck Missler

          http://www.khouse.org/articles/1996/44/

          Taking idiocy to an art form.

        • Kodie

          Follow the bouncing red ball, Jenna. It’s not a search, it’s an agenda. He already reached his conclusion before he sifted through his research to pull out whatever he can construct to reach that conclusion to keep his faith safely intact and to lead the gullible reader to believe he knows what he’s talking about, say, more than you or Karl. Karl doesn’t even seem to read all the books, arguing for or against Jesus, he is only reading texts that support, in the scholarly fashion he can respect, the whole story of Jesus as having happened historically, and reaches the conclusion he wants. Neither you or he are open to coming to another conclusion or reading outside your bracket. It’s in conflict with truth-seeking.

          Read along in this thread and a few of the previous ones to find scholarly ex-Christians who can dissect the information the theologians offer and what it actually says in the bible. It’s just a fantasy, built like a legend. So what if you don’t want to believe that. So what, I say. Why do you care if we don’t want to believe your Christ miracle ascension zombie walking around and saving your soul when you die? That just sounds pretty dumb, but if it’s real, perhaps you can clear it up instead of complain about what atheists say about it. What sounds sensible to you?

        • Jenna Black

          There really are no such thing as “arguments for or against Jesus.” There are only arguments for or against the credibility and veracity of the Gospels and the New Testament accounts of the formation of the early Christian church. Anyone who reads the Gospels is called upon to arrive at a conclusion as to their truth. Otherwise, why read the Gospels and the NT in the first place. We are peers on a jury that must examine the evidence and reach a verdict based on that evidence. A crucial decision point in examining the evidence is the credibility of the four evangelists. Are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John believable? Has anyone successfully falsified the testimony they give? Has anyone ever impeached them as witnesses to they events they tell us about?

          You may have concluded that the Gospels are “fantasy” or “legend” based on your reading of the NT. So be it. Your verdict about their truthfulness is different from mine. You may also believe that my verdict is “dumb” but this is merely your opinion. Why do you think that I should take your opinion into account in determining how I live my moral, spiritual and religious life?

        • hector

          So you’ve got nothing? It figures.

        • Kodie

          None of that seems to be your purpose in posting here. I don’t care what you do in your life. Why are you defending it without any supporting arguments? What does it mean to you when someone else doesn’t believe it?

        • Jenna Black

          It means that you don’t believe it. I’m sure you have your reasons. It does not trouble me in the least that there are non-believers. Non-belief merely confirms for me the existence of free will.

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

          When you’re an enlightened being in heaven, far more wise and compassionate than you are now, I wonder if your exquisite knowledge of my agony in hell (and the billions of others that Jesus wasn’t able to convince) will weigh on your mind.

        • Jenna Black

          I am not responsible in any way, shape or form for whether or not anyone ends up in hell (whatever hell is). Jesus has been made very clear to me. I am only responsible for my own relationship with God. My commission from Jesus is this:
          Matthew 28:19 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

          This is what being an apologist for Christianity means to/for me. That’s why I enter into discussions that are respectful with non-believers.

        • Pofarmer

          “Jesus has been made very clear to me.”

          How so?

          He’s pretty clear to me to.

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

          I’m not blaming you for doctrine of hell. I’m simply sketching out the consequences and wondering if you’re OK with them.

          Seems like an odd concept from a god who loves us deeply.

        • Kodie

          You aren’t doing that.

        • Kodie

          Well then your work here is done.

        • MNb

          “We are peers on a jury that must examine the evidence and reach a verdict based on that evidence.”
          Before even beginning to examine the evidence we must agree on the method. I only accept methodological naturalism. If you don’t I’ll bring up the fairies in my backyard again. Some prefer Russell’s Teapot, the invisible dragon in their garage or – also a favourite of mine – little demons running your computer.

        • Pofarmer

          My personal favorite is invisible pink unicorns. “I know they are invisible because I’ve never seen one, I know they are pink because of faith.”

        • Pofarmer

          “Why do you think that I should take your opinion into account in determining how I live my moral, spiritual and religious life?”

          When your religious life intrudes onto your moral life, then society has a say, sorry.

          ” Are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John believable? Has anyone successfully falsified the testimony they give? Has anyone ever impeached them as witnesses to they events they tell us about? ”

          Have you ever examined these with evidence outside the Gospel accounts? Because, if you don’t then it is no different than using Harry Potter to prove Harry Potter.

        • Ron

          Are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John believable? Has anyone successfully falsified the testimony they give? Has anyone ever impeached them as witnesses to they events they tell us about?

          What do we even know about the men who authored the gospel accounts? Who were they? Where were they born? Where did they live? And what do we know of their individual characters?

        • avalpert

          It conflicts with reality, truth, history and occasionally science – and when it conflict you will typically side with the meaning and purpose you find over reality, truth, history and science. And that is how you end up with such nonsense as this: http://www.icr.org/men-dinosaurs/

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

          It’s true! I saw the video!!

        • MNb

          Because he thus has rejected the option that the Resurrection is a myth before he even started his research.

        • Pofarmer

          If you want to actually reach a verdict, you have to search outside the Gospels. It’s not a particularly pleasant undertaking at first, I’ll grant you that. I wish I could gift you a subscription to Bart Ehrmans blog, for starters.

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

          The null hypothesis is against you. You have the burden of proof.

          Show that the natural explanations are ludicrously implausible, and the supernatural option becomes viable. You’ve not done this.

        • Jenna Black

          Bob, your “natural explanation” seems to be that the resurrection never happened, so what are we supposed to show? KarlUdy is spot on. On its face, the claim that there is a “natural explanation” for a resurrection from the dead is ludicrous. A resurrection can only be supernatural or metaphysical. This is IMO why atheists try so hard to discredit the testimony of the Gospels and the New Testament. In addition to Jim Warner Wallace’s book, I recommend that you read the book by Simon Greenleaf (1879, reprint 1995), “The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence.” It is a classic on the credibility and veracity of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ miracles and resurrection. Atheists are what Professor Greenleaf calls “objectors” and as such, the burden of proof in opposition to “ordinary presumptions of law” falls on them to impeach the evangelists’ testimony.

        • Kingasaurus

          You wouldn’t know Occam’s Razor if it bit you in the hiney.

          The natural explanation is that it never happened and the stories that say it did are false and/or mistaken. Nobody’s claiming that someone was dead for three days and “naturally” came back to life.

          The whole thing is legendary, not history.

        • Pofarmer

          Here’s the problem. EIGHTEEN SEVENTY NINE. Do you know how much viewpoints have changes since 1879? Do you know how much science has uncovered since 1879? Can you understand why the burden of proof has shifted since 1879? And, the thing is, I can quote well known dissenters from then and the early 1900’s as well. Here’s a favorite of mine, with a link even.

          John. E. Remsberg

          The Christ, from 1909

          http://positiveatheism.org/hist/rmsbrg00.htm
          Give it a shot.

        • Jenna Black

          Professor Greenleaf’s analysis of the four Evangelists’ testimony from the standpoint of legal scholarship regarding witness testimony is just as cogent today as it was in 1879. But if you want a current analysis that integrates and elaborates on many of Prof. Greenleaf’s points, I recommend J. Warner Wallace’s book, Cold-case Christianity, copyright date, 2013.

        • Pofarmer

          I take it you’ve never read “Age of Reason”?

        • Pofarmer

          “On its face, the claim that there is a “natural explanation” for a
          resurrection from the dead is ludicrous. A resurrection can only be
          supernatural or metaphysical. This is IMO why atheists try so hard to
          discredit the testimony of the Gospels and the New Testament.”

          See, this is why the burden of proof is on you. If something depends on the supernatural, then it ought to be the burden of the one proposing the supernatural theory to support it.

        • Jenna Black

          Who do you mean by “you”? Is this “you” plural meaning Christians as a community of faith? Or do you mean “you” as singular, little ole me, Jenna Black, ordinary Christian, individually? Of course I cannot prove the truth of the Gospel and the NT. You (meaning you singular and you plural) have all the same evidence I have from the New Testament that I have. It is incumbent on you to reach your own verdict. There is no “burden” on me to justify my verdict to/for you.

        • MNb

          “Of course I cannot prove the truth”
          Now we are getting somewhere. Now the scientific method requires to reject the supernatural explanation if there is a naturalistic one. This is partly founded on David Hume’s philosophy (google “David Hume miracles”). Obviously you using a computer and internet accept the scientific method, ie methodological naturalism. Why would the Resurrection be an exception?

        • Jenna Black

          I have seen no one here in this discussion actually offer any “natural” explanation of/for the resurrection. What we have here are merely arguments as to why some people believe that the resurrection never occurred. Denial that an event occurred is not an explanation of how it occurred, natural or otherwise. Of course, people can reject/deny that the resurrection occurred because resurrection is a supernatural event and she/he/they do not believe that anything supernatural can occur. But this means that the denier makes claims about the credibility of the testimony to/about the resurrections, which should be, according to you, based on evidence. Of course you realize how contradictory and pointless it is to demand that a scientific method be applied to a supernatural event (miracle).

        • Kingasaurus

          Good grief!

          We’re offering a natural explanation for why we have STORIES about a resurrection, because that’s all we have.

          Natural explanations for the existence of fantastical stories about such things are plausible enough to do the job, without even having to resort to supernatural explanations.

          The fact that this has been explained to you multiple times by more than one person and you still aren’t getting it is somewhat distressing.

        • MNb

          Why would the Resurrection be an exception?
          Do you accept the fairies in my backyard tending my flowers? The invisible dragon in my garage? The little demons running your computer? Russell’s Invisible Teapot? Do you think they are stories? If yes, then why not the Resurrection?

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

          I have seen no one here in this discussion actually offer any “natural” explanation of/for the resurrection.

          You’re not paying attention. There is no resurrection. What we have is the story of a resurrection.

          What the heck could explain this? You have a feeble imagination if a supernatural explanation is the only option that pops to mind.

        • MNb

          Hehheh – only yesterday I reread a quote from Bertrand Russell pointing out that the assumption that everything must have a beginning is also the result of a feeble imagination. Very human though.

        • Jenna Black

          I have to question the tone you seem to be taking with me here with words like “feeble”, but putting that aside, I return to the question and the alleged purpose of this discussion: What “natural” or non-supernatural explanation of the resurrection do you offer? If this is a discussion of your beliefs about why there is a “story” about a supernatural event that you believe never actually occurred but that is believed by 2.3 billion people in the world today and billions more throughout Christianity’s 2,000 year history, that is a different conversation. My position in this discussion is that the resurrection is/was a real event based on what I believe to be ample testimony (evidence) from people who themselves witnessed, experienced and lived this event (miracle.)

        • MNb

          “that is a different conversation.”
          Yes. But you are the one changing the subject of that conversation exactly because nobody accepting the scientific method sees the Resurrection as a historical fact. It’s right there in front of your nose:

          “What explains the New Testament resurrection story?”
          From BobS’ article above. Note the word story.

          “that is believed by 2.3 billion people in the world today and billions more throughout Christianity’s 2,000 year history”
          That’s a logical fallacy. There was a time that the majority of mankind thought the Earth was flat.

          “what I believe to be ample testimony (evidence) from people who themselves witnessed”
          Which people? The authors of the Gospels can be demonstrated not to have been eye witnesses. Paulus admits himself he wasn’t.

        • Jenna Black

          Demonstrated by whom? Please post the name(s) of any published and respected Bible scholar and citations of the publications where they disseminate their research on the authorship of the four canonical Gospels. Certainly, you don’t expect me to just take your word for it.

        • Pofarmer

          Bart Ehrman, over and over and over. Any competent biblical scholar who is not an Apologist. Join Bart Ehrmans Blog. Christianity in Antiquity. Get some of his books from the library. But you are woefully undereducated here.

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

          I have to question the tone you seem to be taking with me here with words like “feeble”

          I felt comfortable using that since I’m sure it doesn’t apply to you. Surely you can think of much more.

          I return to the question and the alleged purpose of this discussion: What “natural” or non-supernatural explanation of the resurrection do you offer?

          Sounds like you misunderstand why we’re here.

          Are you going to give me a natural explanation for the ability of Merlin the wizard to shape shift? I bet not. I bet instead you’d give me a natural explanation for why we have a story that talks about this ability, and you’d say that this natural explanation is far more plausible than that the story is true.

          Similarly, there is no resurrection to explain.

          If this is a discussion of your beliefs about why there is a “story” about a supernatural event that you believe never actually occurred but that is believed by 2.3 billion people in the world today and billions more throughout Christianity’s 2,000 year history, that is a different conversation.

          If you reread the post, you’ll see that I was pretty careful to give the claim and the facts that we’d be using. That’s not only a different conversation, that is the conversation.

          My position in this discussion is that the resurrection is/was a real event based on what I believe to be ample testimony (evidence) from people who themselves witnessed, experienced and lived this event (miracle.)

          And mine is that (1) the plausible natural explanation always trumps the inherently implausible supernatural explanation and (2) we have a plausible natural explanation for the facts (that is, ancient writings such as the gospels).

        • Jenna Black

          This comment points out one of the fundamental problems here. You refer to the examination of “facts” of/about the resurrection of Jesus. Then we learn that you do not believe that there are any facts about the resurrection, there are allegedly only “stories” about the resurrection. Then in this comment we learn that you are calling the “ancient writings such as the gospels” the “facts” of the resurrection and your challenge to the veracity of the testimony to this event that they contain is the “plausible natural explanation” that atheists (such as yourself) have for the resurrection. So, are we talking about, as I suggest, the fact that the gospel accounts/testimony of/about the resurrection exist at all. The existence of the Gospels is a tough one for atheists since to date, after much dialogue with atheists, I have yet to hear a plausible explanation for the existence of the Gospels that passes the common sense sniff test that would make me doubt the testimony of the Gospels to the fact (historical truth) of the resurrection.

        • hector

          What plausible explanation that passes the common sense sniff test do you have for the Koran, the Book of Mormon, Dianetics, or the various sacred texts of India? I’ve asked you a couple times about these things and you refuse to answer.

          The existence of those works is obviously a tough one for christians since they always dodge the question, just as you are doing.

        • Jenna Black

          I doubt that there are many questions about the authorship of the Koran among the followers of Islam, but I do not know since I have not researched the topic. I do not find accounts of the authorship of the Book of Mormon to be credible, for many of the same reasons that I do find the authorship of and the testimony in/of the Gospels credible. I am not “dodging” your question. I merely find it irrelevant to the conversation, a “red herring” argument.

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

          LDS eclipses the Christian claims. More here.

          No, the question of Mormon vs. Christianity is not a red herring. To dismiss LDS lightly is to use two very different standards of evidence–one for your beliefs and a tougher one for the other guy’s.

        • hector

          Questions about authorship? You think that’s what this conversation is about? There are far more questions about all of these works than mere questions of authorship.

          A nice attempt at a dodge.

          You find my question irrelevant because you assume the bible is true and the other texts are false. But the question is entirely relevant, because the issue is why do you find the bible credible but these other texts incredible? You haven’t come anywhere near providing a plausible, coherent or principled answer.

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

          Then we learn …

          Did you just misunderstand? I’m wondering why we’re hearing this over and over. I don’t know how I could’ve been clearer. If you came into the conversation with an assumption of how it was going to play out, perhaps that assumption was off target. I’m supposed to apologize or something?

          there are allegedly only “stories” about the resurrection.

          Wow. It’s all in the post above. Seriously.

          I was careful to summarize the facts that we all have in front of us. That’s our objective evidence. That’s what we start with.

          The existence of the Gospels is a tough one for atheists since to date , after much dialogue with atheists, I have yet to hear a plausible explanation for the existence of the Gospels that passes the common sense sniff test that would make me doubt the testimony of the Gospels to the fact (historical truth) of the resurrection.

          I don’t see what’s challenging about the gospels. Let’s make a distinction between whether or not you’ll change your mind (if you don’t want to be, I’m sure you’ll be successful) and having a good secular explanation for why the gospels have supernatural stories in them.

          You tell me why the Koran or the Hindu Gitas have supernatural claims that are false, and you’ll have explained why I think the New Testament has supernatural claims that are false.

        • Pofarmer

          In antiquity, there were stories of Dionysis and Hector. Apolonius of Tiana, Hercules, Odysseus, Poseidon, Zues, the Titans, Romulus, Remus, Mithras, and on and on and on. What you plausibly need to do, is disconnect the Gospels from the obvious literary traditions and types that were ongoing at the time.

        • Kodie

          I don’t believe you have had any dialogue with any atheists. Part of a dialogue is listening to what one person says, considering it, and forming a relevant response to it. You don’t seem to grasp the technique.

        • Pofarmer

          Bob, she questioned your tone, this shit is getting serious.

        • Kodie

          If this is a discussion of your beliefs about why there is a “story”
          about a supernatural event that you believe never actually occurred but
          that is believed by 2.3 billion people in the world today and billions
          more throughout Christianity’s 2,000 year history, that is a different
          conversation.

          How many posts did you make before you realized your mistake?

        • Pofarmer

          “ample testimony (evidence) from people who themselves witnessed, experienced and lived this event (miracle.)”

          See Jenna, the problem is, you don’t have that.

        • SparklingMoon-

          What “natural” or non-supernatural explanation of the resurrection do you offer?
          —————————————————
          The meanings of a word change according to the field it is going to be used. In scientific knowledge natural or unnatural is measured by the prevailed laws of physical nature but in religion natural or unnatural is always decided on the scale of the sayings of God and His prophets. A person for the decision of either the dogma of resurrection in Christianity is natural or unnatural
          have to test it in the mirror of the teachings of Jesus. This conception about the resurrection of Jesus is unnatural because the all sayings of Jesus are against it. There is no doubt that Jesus as a Prophet of God had revelation but that is not saved in its original words. It had been written later by other people in their own words.The Gospels at this time people have in their hand are consisted of revelation of God, sayings of Jesus and human narrations and explanations. When a reader reads these Gospels (without the explanations of other people) he finds nothing about the notion of resurrection.

          Christianity (of Jesus ) guided to the same God as did the Torah. But, after the Messiah (as), the god of Christians was transformed into another god who was nowhere mentioned in the original teachings of the Torah, nor did the Israelites have any inkling of such a god. Belief in this new god disturbed the entire dynamics of the Torah, and its teachings regarding deliverance from sin and attainment of piety and purity became corrupted. Deliverance from sin came to depend simply upon the belief that the Messiah(as) had courted death by crucifixion for the salvation of mankind and that he was ‘God’ himself. Many other timeless commandments of the Torah were also violated and the Christian faith underwent such a change that even if the Messiah(as) himself were to return, he would fail to recognize it.

          Jesus had appeared 1400 years after prophet Moses as a last prophet for the people of Israel to reform them. Jesus always confined his mission to the generation of twelve tribes of Israel: ”I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24) His mission was to maintain the practice of Mosaic Law among them in its original form :”Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5.17)

          There were only two tribes in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus and ten other had been scattered by a King Bakhat Nasar in Asian countries four five centuries ago before the time of Jesus. Jesus must had to visit these ten tribes also to fulfill his divine mission therefore his physical survival on cross was crucial necessary according to his sayings. Secondly, the all descriptions of the Bible show that the Messiah never willingly accepted crucifixion , and the Jews had treated him as they liked. He spent the whole night weeping and praying in a garden, and God accepted his prayers on account of his righteousness, and — as the Bible itself admits — saved him from an accursed death on the cross. It is, therefore, sheer calumny to say that the Messiah willingly committed suicide, and it is unreasonable to suggest that one can

          cure the headache of another by striking one’s own head.
          (Lecture Lahore)

        • Kodie

          If the supernatural is in touch with the natural, there would have to be evidence of contact being made, and the supernatural would be “real” and then it would also be considered natural. If the supernatural in no way affects the natural, then we cannot make claims of the undetectable and it has no effect on anyone. Which is it?

          If a resurrection happened, and it apparently affects all humans whether they want to or not, then it is natural and not a miracle. We cannot categorize a magical one-time event as natural if it is clearly not physically possible without magical interference. If god interferes in our lives, it has to be detectable. If you just think so, that is not enough evidence for the scientific method. It is really just your opinion.

        • Pofarmer

          “You” in this instance, means those making the claims.

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

          Bob, your “natural explanation” seems to be that the resurrection never happened, so what are we supposed to show?

          If I show that a natural explanation addresses the facts (the books that we have from antiquity), then the supernatural explanation is defeated.

          the claim that there is a “natural explanation” for a resurrection from the dead is ludicrous.

          Huh? What resurrection?

          Remember, we have a story of a resurrection. That’s it. And that’s all that I attempt to explain.

          In addition to Jim Warner Wallace’s book, I recommend that you read the book by Simon Greenleaf

          Haven’t read that either. However, I have read Religion on Trial by Parton, A Lawyer’s Case for God by Jacob, and Tractatus Logico-Theologicus by Montgomery.

          But I doubt that you will be much impressed by what I’ve read.

          Atheists are what Professor Greenleaf calls “objectors” and as such, the bur den of proof in opposition to “ordinary presumptions of law” falls on them to impeach the evangelists’ testimony.

          And back here in the real world, the apologist bears the burden of proof. They are making the claim, after all. My obligation is to give them a fair and respectful hearing.

        • Jenna Black

          Bob, IMO, you mischararterize and misrepresent the Gospels when you call the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus “stories.” They are testimony and should be understood, examined and critiqued as testimony. There is no “burden of proof” foisted onto believing Christians to provide anything to a skeptic or “objector” (to use Prof. Greenleaf’s term) above and beyond the Gospels and NT itself. What we Christians can and do offer is our own accounts (testimony) as to why we find the Gospel (taking the 4 canonical Gospels together) to be believable and compelling, IOW, truth. This is what Jim Warner Wallace has done. He has given us his testimony as to why he finds the Gospel to be truth, compelling truth that he chooses to commit his life to. I recommend Wallace’s book because it is an open and public source of testimony that can be discussed in an open forum on the Internet such as this one. This is the real world.

        • avalpert

          “They are testimony and should be understood, examined and critiqued as testimony.”

          See, this is just plain wrong. That is what actual critical study of the gospels has shown – they are most certainly stories, written after the fact drawing on multiple source material and literary tropes.

          The only reason the believing christian has no burden of proof to provide anything to the skeptic is because there is no courtroom here, no trial, no burden for you to do anything at all. But, if you do decide to enter into a rational discussion and want to be taken seriously, well then you have to recognize that demonstrating that something supernatural happened does require a stronger burden than demonstrating that nothing supernatural is necessary to explain the appearance of the gospels and development of early christianity.

        • Jenna Black

          Christianity is based on testimony about supernatural events. These are evidence of God. Atheists reject the supernatural and therefore are prejudiced against acceptance of any testimony about any supernatural event as truth. I cannot imagine why you would think that Christians have a burden to explain or defend Christianity by “demonstrating that nothing supernatural is necessary to explain the appearance of the gospels and development of early christianity.” You seem to be asking that Christians defend Christianity from an atheistic perspective, a sort of godless Christianity. No way! Please correct me if I am reading you wrong.

        • avalpert

          “Christianity is based on testimony about supernatural events”

          Not really no. Christianity is based on mythology of a 1st century cult adapted for audiences outside of it original space thus incorporating the mythologies of those new audiences.

          “These are evidence of God”

          Not at all, they are evidence of the mythologies of their time – no more evidence for God than Dianetics is evidence is evidence for engrams.

          “I cannot imagine why you would think that Christians have a burden to explain or defend Christianity”

          I didn’t say they had such a burden to do so from any angle – only that if they wanted to do rationally than yes they have a strong burden to prove the supernatural events they describe and not simply assert them.

        • MNb

          “Christianity is based on testimony about supernatural events.”
          There is no single reason to accept this testimony as historical and all reason to assume this testimony consists of stories – ie fiction.

        • Kodie

          That’s because you don’t have anything else. You didn’t even offer your own testimony, you are passing on the testimony of the author of a book you found not only persuasive, but necessary to read. If you need nothing other than the NT, why are you reading books, why are you attempting to find out if you’re right by reading accounts of other people that support your conclusions?

          You don’t have a thing else. You have your imagination and wishes. You don’t care for the critiques, this is what I said before. Some people just like the touching story of a hero who makes a tough decision to save everyone else. ::tear:: They only point out all the implausibilities and holes in the story that don’t match up, despite your “reasoning”, they repeated each other without error for decades and never made a mistake, which was the style at the time. Thank you Grandpa Simpson, for your “testimony” but a resurrection never happened. A real person we could consider to have been Jesus that the stories are about is questionable.

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

          Bob, IMO, you mischararterize and misrepresent the Gospels when you call the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus “stories.”

          That’s the default. Are they history? OK, I’ll need the evidence.

          They are testimony and should be understood, examined and critiqued as testimony.

          The genre is “historical biography,” which is quite different from modern biography.

          There is no “burden of proof” foisted onto believing Christians to provide anything to a skeptic or “objector” (to use Prof. Greenleaf’s term) above and beyond the Gospels and NT itself.

          If you’re saying that you have no obligation to lift a finger to argue for the truth of the gospel story, I agree. However, if you do want to engage in the argument, the burden of proof is all yours. You, after all, are making the claim. My obligation is only to listen (politely, one hopes).

          What we Christians can and do offer is our own accounts (testimony)

          If you must. I have little use for this. I want evidence (y’know, just what you would insist on when listening to the claims of someone from another religion).

        • Jenna Black

          All the evidence you need and all the evidence we have for the Gospels is in the Gospels and New Testament. If you want more evidence for their truth, I most certainly cannot produce any. It is not within my capacity to do so. The concept of “burden of proof” is borrowed from the law, in particular, the criminal justice system. The “burden of proof” (aka standard of proof) establishes what standard or criteria for level of credibility jurors are required to view and analyze the evidence presented at trial. The highest standard of proof in the law is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It is up to the prosecution to satisfy the “reasonable person” beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence “proves” their theory of the crime and that the accused is the perpetrator.

          You are correct that the courtroom/jury analogy does not necessarily apply to a discussion (which you call an argument) about the resurrection. Yet, you still use the term “burden of proof” about a “claim” about the resurrection. I have made no claim whatsoever about the resurrection. I merely inform you that I believe the claims about the resurrection that I have from the New Testament. So, what am I to conclude that you expect from me? I have no evidence to augment or supplement the NT. What more evidence or other evidence do you demand to satisfy your standard of proof?

          There is always an awkwardness in mixing metaphors.

        • hector

          “The concept of “burden of proof” is borrowed from the law … ”

          This is false. The concept is one of logic, borrowed by the law.

          The standard of proof is different from the burden of proof. The standard of proof in criminal matters is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. In civil proceedings it is ‘on the balance of probabilities’. The burden of proof, however, is on the party asserting the claim, which is the state in a criminal proceeding, and the plaintiff in a civil proceeding.

          When you say you believe the resurrection happened then you are making a claim that it happened. This is getting ridiculous.

        • Jenna Black

          No, you are wrong. A statement affirming that I believe the biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection does not make the resurrection I “claim” that I make. Let’s get this straight, since I see some very fast and loose false attributions of claims here in this discussion. The person/persons making a claim is/are the one(s) who must defend it. The followers of Jesus are the ones who make claims about the resurrection. Certainly you agree that the jurors in either a civil or criminal trial are not obligated to present evidence or to articulate a theory of the crime on which basis to consider the cogency and credibility of the testimony and other evidence.

        • hector

          You are here in this thread, making the claims. No one is accusing you of being the originator of the claims.

        • Kodie

          Are you not a follower of Jesus?????

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

          I was confused about that as well.

        • MNb

          “All the evidence you need and all the evidence we have for the Gospels is in the Gospels and New Testament.”
          That’s a circular argument. Compare: all the evidence you need and all the evidence we have for the Harry Potter stories is in the Seven Books on Harry Potter. I guess HP’s resurrection (Book Seven) is a historical even too.

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

          OK, I thought you were claiming that the resurrection happened. If you don’t claim that, then perhaps there’s not much to discuss.

          I think we agree on what the positive evidence for such a claim is. Ancient stories do very little to support the enormous claim of the resurrection. If you heard an equally remarkable claim from someone else’s religion, I think you’d be equally demanding of evidence.

        • Jenna Black

          I am pointing out that we must keep clearly in mind who “owns” or makes the claim that of the resurrection of Jesus. It is not I but the followers of Jesus. But as I stated earlier, I can explain my reasons for believing this claim: Isn’t that in actuality what we are discussing? You are giving the reasons why you do not believe that the resurrection occurred (rather obliquely, IMO) and I am giving mine for believing in the resurrection, in this case, my confidence in the credibility of the testimony of/about the resurrection that we have in the New Testament. Yes, I am demanding of evidence, and my standard of proof which must be and has been met is beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s why I’m a Christian.

        • hector

          Why does the New Testament satisfy your standard of proof but the Koran and the Book of Mormon do not? What about the Apocrypha?

          Do all claims made in the New Testament satisfy your standard of proof or just some claims? Why or why not?

          What other supernatural claims do you accept? Which do you reject? Why?

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

          Indeed, the Book of Mormon spanks the New Testament on the standard believability metrics–better attested, more recent, smaller cultural gap, written in modern English, no period of oral history, and on and on.

        • wtfwjtd

          So does Scientology!

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

          You are giving the reasons why you do not believe that the resurrection occurred (rather obliquely, IMO)

          What’s oblique? Take something you don’t believe in—Bigfoot, Nessie, alien abductions. The evidence isn’t compelling—that’s why you don’t believe. And that’s my situation. The evidence points to the natural explanations, not the supernatural one.

          Yes, I am demanding of evidence, and my standard of proof which must be and has been met is beyond a reasonable doubt.

          I find it hard to imagine that the evidence bar you set for Christianity is the same as you would impose on my evidence for (say) Quetzalcoatl or Shiva.

        • Jenna Black

          It is a common fallacious argument that I see frequently trotted out by atheists to obliquely compare the God of monotheism to one or more of the gods of polytheism, as you do with Quetzalcoatl. Christianity is not a god of polytheism, or even God. Christianity is a religion, and this discussion is not about the credibility of the whole of the Christian religion. It is, as I understand the discussion, about the evidentiary basis for the resurrection of Jesus, which you claim is insufficient to support Christianity, a claim with which I respectfully disagree.

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

          You’ve lost me. You want to dismiss my last paragraph, but I don’t see why. Please explain more clearly.

        • Greg G.

          We get that you disagree. If that’s all you wanted to say, you have succeeded. We would like to know why you disagree. What evidence do you have that we haven’t seen and rejected as inconclusive or false?

        • Jenna Black

          I do not know what evidence you have or have not seen, but I am assuming that you have read the New Testament, and most particularly the four canonical gospels. As I have stated metaphorically, we are peers on a jury of peers who reach a verdict based on the evidence presented. I find the evidence of/in the New Testament to be convincing beyond a reasonable doubt. You do not. I will not offer any conjecture as to why not. The only way for me to know why you do not is if/when you tell me. I sincerely doubt that it is not because there is evidence that I have seen and that you have not.

        • Greg G.

          Your problem might be that you are reading inside the New Testament bubble. Think critically while you do it. Why did Peter and Paul have an argument described in Galatians 2 if Mark 7:1-19 actually happened? Paul seems to be arguing Jesus’ position. Galatians was written first so it appears Mark borrowed the idea and attributed it to Jesus.

        • Kodie

          So you’re saying Christianity can stand ok without a literal Jesus who literally resurrected and literally ascended to literal heaven? I mean, if he was a historical person, after that, is magical bullshit, pardon my French. The religion obviously exists without any of that being true. Obviously a completely false story is sufficient to support Christianity. But that’s only because people believe it really happened, including the magical bullshit.

        • Jenna Black

          I regret to see that Bob Seidensticker allows the use of profanity on his website. This demonstrates a lack of respect for civil discourse and for people of faith, an attitude that is frequently exhibited among atheists. I will no longer reply to your comments, not that this will bother you in the least.

        • Kodie

          Oh, clutch your fucking pearls, asshole, I waited a long time through all your rude and evasive demanding entitlement to change the subject. I did ask you to pardon my fucking French, but now I don’t give a flying shit. I made a good point and on literally the only principle you have, you won’t even respond. Do you understand how rude you’ve been so far?

          But profanity is where you draw the line! Oh my! You are the most precious turd in the bowl.

        • hector

          Ahhh, the final gambit of the christian apologist – when losing an argument, accuse your opponent of profanity as an excuse to disengage.

        • Kodie

          To be honest, she’s not really responding to anyone’s comments, she’s just babbling. And it does bother me, because I’m on a quest for one honest Christian.

        • wtfwjtd

          Sorry Kodie, your quest continues, there’s nothing to see here.

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

          Perhaps that explains why “Diogenes” is your middle name.

        • Ron

          Ask and it will be given to you…

          recoveringfundamentalists.com

          new.exchristian.net

        • Kodie

          My favorite is always the Christians who know what they believe and why they believe it, but won’t tell and come to an atheist blog and don’t think they have to. Nobody asked you so as long as you invited yourself to the discussion, you have to do something more than protest and whine and make poor arguments. You are being totally pointless. You know you don’t have anything any rational person would find worthwhile, but you stick around imagining you add something productive to the discussion. You don’t.

        • Pofarmer

          :”All the evidence you need and all the evidence we have for the Gospels
          is in the Gospels and New Testament. If you want more evidence for their
          truth, I most certainly cannot produce any.”

          Do you understand how sad that is?

        • wtfwjtd

          But geez, Jenna, that’s just the point, the gospel stories aren’t “testimony”, even by the most generous assumptions of Christian apologists, they are anonymous written accounts of other people’s stories about Jesus, written 40+ years *after* the fact. If you want to play the game of using the modern courtroom, you lose: your “testimony” has already been thrown out of court. Modern courts require several criteria for eye witness testimony that the gospels fail: They are anonymous; they not presented by the witnesses themselves; they are biased; they are contradictory at best, and can seem outright untruthful at times; and, they are accounts that are decades after the facts. Any *one* of these is enough to throw an eyewitness testimony out of the modern courtroom, and yet you insist they would be admissible as evidence. I assure you, they would NOT be.

        • hector

          Strictly speaking, biased, contradictory and untruthful testimony is admissible in the courtroom. It’s up to the opposing party to convince the trier of fact through other evidence and through cross-examination that the evidence is biased, contradictory or untruthful.

        • avalpert

          The gospels are all hearsay – completely inadmissible in any court today.

        • Pofarmer

          I thought Thomas Paine pretty well settled that score.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Strictly speaking, biased, contradictory and untruthful testimony is admissible in the courtroom”.

          Good! I see we are in agreement in how we characterize the gospel stories then.
          To the rational mind, biased, contradictory and untruthful testimony is simply unbelievable, *especially* when it’s anonymous hearsay.

        • hector

          Yes we are in agreement on that. To be clear, I am an atheist.

        • Kingasaurus

          Even more so when the claim is miraculous. If your next door neighbor is murdered with no eyewitnesses, you always assume another human being is responsible, never an alien. Why? Nobody was there, right?

          If somebody says it was an alien, the evidence had better be damned good. The resurrection is on par with the alien-murder claim. They supernatural-vs.-natural aren’t equal claims with both having a 50-50 chance of being right. The supernatural claim has a much higher burden of believability.

        • Jenna Black

          You are wrong on several counts regarding the testimony of the four Evangelists and the New Testament. The gospels are not anonymous. The four Gospels state this: Each one is The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. There is no Gospel of Jesus Christ according to anonymous. I have recommended two books on the topic of the credibility of the Gospels as witness testimony: Professor Simon Greenleaf and Jim Warner Wallace. If you care to, you can recommend any book or books you know of that you claim to successfully impeach the Gospels and the New Testament as testimony of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension.

          Meanwhile, let’s not over-extend the courtroom metaphor here. Surely you do not claim that the Gospels and the New Testament cannot be “admitted into evidence” as to the truth of Christianity.

        • Kingasaurus

          Good heavens, Jenna.

          Names weren’t attached to the Gospels until well after they were written.

          If you won’t even admit that (something the overwhelming majority of Bible scholars agree with), then we have nothing to discuss.

        • MNb

          Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are just names. The fact that you call yourself Hector doesn’t mean you have come out of anonimity. We know zilch about the five characters who bear those names.

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

          I’ve explored the question of the authorship of the gospels here.

          I’m afraid that each of the gospels is the Gospel According to Anonymous.

        • Jenna Black

          Answer this question please, Bob. If, as you claim, the Gospels are not the testimony of the authors to whom they are ascribed, who knew the living, breathing Jesus themselves or whose sources were the events of the life of the living, breathing Jesus, then whose testimony are they?

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

          Do not assume that there was every ANYONE who knew the living, breathing Jesus—at least not the Jesus of the gospels. That is the very thing we’re trying to figure out.

          Now, to your question: who wrote Hebrews? Who wrote the 7 or 8 books in the “Pauline” corpus that Paul didn’t write? I think the authorship of the Petrine epistles is also in doubt. And who wrote the epistles of John?

          I assume that the authors of the gospels, realizing that the bold claim of Jesus to come back within a lifetime wasn’t going to happen, wrote down the story that was current in their respective communities.

        • Jenna Black

          So, are you a Jesus-denier? Or a “mythicist”? Are you one of those folks who question Jesus’ historicity? Who are you referring with the pronoun “we” in the sentence “That is the very thing we’re trying to figure out.” I ask because I know of very few biblical scholars who are Jesus-deniers or mythicists. Which leads me to another question, are you a Bible scholar? If so, do you have your academic credentials or CV posted somewhere that I can access?

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

          So, are you a Jesus-denier?

          Nope. I’m happy to accept the idea that Jesus was an actual non-supernatural guy. Maybe he was a charismatic teacher, and stories ran away with themselves.

          Who are you referring with the pronoun “we” in the sentence “That is the very thing we’re trying to figure out.”

          You and me.

          are you a Bible scholar?

          I am an amateur. No credentials (in this field, anyway).

        • Jenna Black

          Since you are not a Bible scholar yourself, then I gather that you are relying on the scholarship and research of some collection of Bible scholars. Do you customarily reference them and provide citations when making your claims about the NT’s historicity and verification?

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

          You be the judge. Look through other posts and see.

          I am very careful to cite historical claims with links. The topics, interconnection of ideas, and conclusions are typically my own. Knowing my limitations, I must give citations for historical or scientific claims.

        • Greg G.

          I do not accept the historicity of Jesus. A “mythicist” is one who believes in the myth of Jesus. Few bible scholars have ever seriously considered whether Jesus was a myth. It is possible for a scholar to question the existence of God because they can still call themselves a historian, but if they question whether Jesus existed, they can’t even have that. When scholars try to debate ahistorists, they tend to start with questioning qualifications rather than dealing directly with the arguments or making a a solid case for the historicity of Jesus.
          If we only consider the lack of evidence for Jesus, we don’t have much to go on. If we look at the signs that Jesus was imagined as a mythical figure in the epistles, we see it. If we compare Mark with the most popular Greek literature, the most popular Hebrew literature, and the most popular Christian literature of the day that we still have, everything that Jesus said or did was previously attributed to somebody else. So epistle Jesus is a myth and gospel Jesus is a fictional character loosely based on the myth.

        • Jenna Black

          For starters, Greg, the four canonical Gospels bear no resemblance whatsoever to the literary genre called “myth.” What other logical and reasonable­, common sense explanatio­n for the four canonical gospels is there other than that they are based on the teachings, miracles and events of the life of Jesus? The documentation of Jesus’ life is not “a book.” It is four books of biography and testimony about Jesus by four separate authors: A fisherman, a tax collector and a missionary (all Jews) and a gentile doctor. Together these four books contain over 81,000 words about a person some people claim never even existed in history. All four of these books have many details in common and each has additional details that don’t appear in the other books. Now tell me,how could these authors possibly have conspired to write their highly parallel “fictional” or “mythical” accounts of a person they allegedly invented? And why would they? How did those three Jews convince that gentile physician Luke to go along with their plot? And why would they undertake such a task, taking time out from their fishing, tax collecting and missionary work, knowing that they risked execution by crucifixion for doing what they were doing, which was considered sedition by the Roman authorities? Now there’s a conspiracy theory for you!

          The fact is that there is more documentation of Jesus’ life
          than for any other historical figure from his times. F.F. Bruce, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism from the University of Manchester is quoted in Michael Poole’s book, “The ‘New’ Atheists: 10 arguments that don’t hold
          water” (2009) on p. 46: “…if the NT were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt….Somehow or other, there are people who regard a ‘sacred book’ as ipso facto under suspicious, and demand much more corroborative evidence for such a work than they would for an ordinary secular or pagan writing. From the viewpoint of the historian, the same standards must be applied to both.”

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

          the four canonical Gospels bear no resemblance whatsoever to the literary genre called “myth.”

          The genre is “ancient biography,” quite different from modern biography.

          What other logical and reasonable¬, common sense explanatio¬n for the four canonical gospels is there other than that they are based on the teachings, miracles and events of the life of Jesus?

          The only genre you can imagine is biography? The only goal you can think of is telling a historically accurate version of someone’s life? You can give a life story to honor that person (hagiography) or give that life as an example to follow. Or to berate that person and use his life as an example not to follow. Or to dispel a false image of a teacher and give the correct interpretation. And so on (What is a Gospel? by Talbert is helpful).

          A fisherman, a tax collector and a missionary (all Jews) and a gentile doctor.

          We’ve been over this. The gospels are anonymous. You are simply citing tradition.

          how could these authors possibly have conspired

          I propose no conspiracy.

          The fact is that there is more documentation of Jesus’ life than for any other historical figure from his times.

          And yet far more for Joseph Smith. Perhaps you should be a Mormon.

          Somehow or other, there are people who regard a ‘sacred book’ as ipso facto under suspicious

          Historians aren’t your friend, I’m afraid. They universally scrub supernatural stories out of history. The gospel story must be treated the same way.

        • Jenna Black

          I do not accept your claim that the Gospels are anonymous. Do you really mean what it means for a book, let alone four books, to be anonymous?

          Now you propose a theory that the Gospels should be treated like history and its supernatural elements should be “scrubbed.” Do you understand the purpose for which the Gospels were written down and have been passed down for 2,000? You are most certainly free to “treat” the Gospels any way you see fit and read them as “just stories” but you are not free, with any degree of credibility or reason, to alter the purpose of their authors and transmitters through history. They are, like it or not, the holy scriptures of Christianity whose purpose is to fulfill the Great Commission given us in Matthew 28:19.

        • Kodie

          God took quite the gamble. Do you know how easily we all could never have even heard of Jesus Christ? If he wanted to forgive everyone, you know, how about going the practical route and simply doing it?

          He calls us imperfect and then he loads us with this huge responsibility of, like, saving stories and legends and committing them to memory instead of something useful. They’re not preserved or translated well nor are they sensical. They are totally unbelievable, so nobody should believe them, and yet they must. Do you get that god pretty much used this act to cause wars over it and political [cussword] that divided humans? Do you accept that you believe this dumb story because your perfect god had no other way to let everyone know he wants to forgive them? God got one more chance to make everything better and I would say, 2000 years ago, his purpose in doing it this way, depending on the faulty humans he admits he created, to pound the [cussword] out of each other, because he loves us and wants us to be happy/peaceful/forgiven?

          I don’t think you’ve thought this thing through, nor are you successful in fulfilling the Great Commission – you are evasive and not forthcoming or honest. It’s pretty arrogant, another trait I associate with Christianity.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not Bob’s claim. It is the scholarly consensus of NT scholars who teach in divinity schools all over the U.S. it’s really not anything shocking.

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

          Do you really mean what it means for a book, let alone four books, to be anonymous?

          My argument is laid out plainly in the other post. Respond to it.

          The originals had no names attached to them. (Anyway, what guy is going to be so pompous as to say, “Gospel According to Bob”? I would think that the name of Jesus would be on the top, not the author.)

          Now you propose a theory that the Gospels should be treated like history and its supernatural elements should be “scrubbed.”

          Huh? You’re the one who brought forward the quote, “From the viewpoint of the historian, the same standards must be applied to both”! I’m simply agreeing with you—does that bother you somehow? If history is our quest, then let’s use the same standards for Alexander, Augustus, and Jesus.

          They are, like it or not, the holy scriptures of Christianity whose purpose is to fulfill the Great Commission given us in Matthew 28:19.

          Whatever. Are you asking me to give them any special deference that I wouldn’t give the story of an emperor or general?

        • Greg G.

          You begin with false statements. We have more evidence for Pilate than for Jesus in Philo, Josephus and the gospels. Jesus appears to be a fictional character in Mark but Pilate does not seem to be based on information attributed to others. But we also have a cornerstone of a building dedicating the building to the emperor with Pilate’s name on it, apparently commissioned by Pilate himself.
          There is no documentation from Jesus’ supposed lifetime. The evidence from the late first century and later documents that there were people who thought there was a Jesus and nothing more. Those people were in no position to know whether Mark was true.
          The earliest writings about Jesus are from Paul who says he gets it from the scriptures in long, hidden mysteries and he received nothing from humans. That was his revelation. He does not think his knowledge is less than the other apostles and he describes the other apostles’ revelations in the same words as his own. So if he is right in 1 Corinthians 15 about Cephas/Peter being first then he must have seen it in the scriptures which shows he was not an illiterate fisherman as in the gospels..
          Scholars who are not ahistoricists have identified the literature where Mark got his information. His miracles are exaggerations of those performed by Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. Even the words attributed to him can be found expressed by others before him.
          Matthew uses 90% of Mark and half of that is verbatim. The parts that are omitted and altered appear to be for theological reasons rather than historical corrections. Matthew didn’t like the naked boy in Gethsemane or Jesus doing miracles that were not immediate.
          About half of Luke is based on Mark. He also shares information with Matthew. He also shares information with Josephus, both in Luke and Acts, that could only come from Josephus and not the other way around. Scholars rave that Luke was a great historian because he is confirmed by Josephus. No wonder!
          John also borrows from the fiction of Mark, perhaps from hearing the stories rather than reading as Matthew and Luke did, so we know it’s not history either.
          I favored the historicity of Jesus until I read Ehrman’s book defending it. It showed how the totality of the evidence for Jesus is shallow. He never really refutes the evidence that Jesus was invented.
          Do you have any evidence for Jesus that you wouldn’t be too embarrassed to present?

        • Pofarmer

          Luke also gets some Josephus wrong.

        • Greg G.

          Where is that?

        • Pofarmer

          When he talks about the Scirilli(sp) the “assasins that go into the desert.” It turns out that these were Urban assasins, and Josephus originate the term. At least that’s the way I recollect it. Go easy on me, I’m on my 4th Negro Modelo.

        • Greg G.

          Yes! That’s a good one. It’s my favorite smoking gun that catches Luke red-handed.

          Another one is when Luke gives the same distance from Jerusalem to Emmaus that Josephus gives but it is wrong.

        • Greg G.

          Now there’s a conspiracy for you!

          I missed that sentence. I do not propose that there was a conspiracy. Paul and the other apostles were taking verses out of context and actually thought these quotemines were revelations. Mark may have written an allegory that later Christians took as a history. I do not think there was a conspiracy, just a comedy of errors.

        • Jenna Black

          How magnanimous of you!

        • hector

          I really have to question your tone

        • Pofarmer

          “The fact is that there is more documentation of Jesus’ life
          than for any other historical figure from his times.’

          First off, that’s completely, utterly, and egregiously wrong.

          Richard Carrier and others have demonstrated it, repeatedly.

          “Together these four books contain over 81,000 words about a person some people claim never even existed in history.”

          How many words did Tom Clancy write about Jack Ryan?

          And then, then, you come up with the worst off the wall Apologetics for the Gospel authors and their intentions. The TRUTH is that Biblical scholars agree that we DON”T KNOW. You are taking the words of Aplogists as fact, and have absolutely no knowledge of the historical criticism. At all.

        • Pofarmer

          “For starters, Greg, the four canonical Gospels bear no resemblance whatsoever to the literary genre called “myth.””

          Why not? What makes them “not myth”?

        • Pofarmer

          Appeal to Authority now?

        • Pofarmer

          The honest answers is, we don’t know. But we do know that the Authors of the Gospels were NOT contemporaries of Jesus, an probably lived far away from Galilee. There is a LOT of scholarship out there on this, if you are truly interested. Have I mentioned Bart Ehrman?

        • Jenna Black

          I do not consider Bart Ehrman to be a credible or authoritative Bible scholar. Got anybody else?

        • Kodie

          Under what academic scrutiny do you reject Bart Ehrman? Because you don’t sound like you know what you’re talking about enough to reject any scholarly texts on the subject, certainly not the ones you swallow either. Is your personal qualification of a credible biblical scholar only one who can arrive at the conclusion you prefer? I thought you were a jury.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, I’m sure you know a lot more about the bible than he does, eh Jenna?

        • Pofarmer

          Might I inquire as to why not?

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

          Whaaaa … ? The dude’s the head of the Religion department at UNC Chapel Hill. I’ve listened to many Christian podcasts that respond to his books, and they universally acknowledge his credentials before they disagree with his conclusions.

          So he doesn’t support the views that you like. That’s life as an adult. And you hope to dismiss him with a comment like this?

          Fail.

        • Pofarmer

          Not only that, but he writes the textbooks that many of the others use, plus has online courses available through “The teaching company”.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, let’s not over-extend the courtroom metaphor that you introduced to bolster your case, since you lost on that point.

          If you know who the anonymous authors of the works of Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John are, please, do tell. Even the church fathers of the 2nd Century admitted the authors were unknown to them. What new evidence have you to share with the world regarding your incredible discovery of the actual authors, and what is its source?

        • Jenna Black

          Bob Seidensticker claims to know that the gospels were anonymous. He says this: “I’m afraid that each of the gospels is the Gospel According to Anonymous.” Have you asked him by what authority he claims to know this? I have already referenced several books, in addition to the New Testament itself, that inform my belief in the truth of the NT accounts of the resurrection of Jesus.

          And what “church fathers” do you claim that have “admitted the authors [of the Gospels] were unknown to them.” Please post a citation for where I/we can read this and check it out for myself/ourselves. I do not claim to have any “new evidence” of the authors of the Gospels but I must certainly have read and do trust reputable and respected Bible scholars who do not agree with what you claim to know in this comment.

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

          Bob Seidensticker claims to know that the gospels were anonymous.

          Bob Seidensticker was careful to give you a link to a post where this topic is discussed in detail. You read that post, I assume?

          Have you asked him by what authority he claims to know this?

          I count 16 links in that post. Were they helpful? Do you still have questions about why I conclude what I do?

        • wtfwjtd

          Unlike you Jenna, I am happy to follow the scholarly consensus on the origins of the gospels. Bob has done tons of research on this topic, and I’ve done my fair share as well. So, knock yourself out, there’s a whole world wide web out there to look at, and like I said Bob has an entire post dedicated to this topic, with plenty of links and info. He even has a few You Tube videos on the subject, if you really want to check it out.

        • Jenna Black

          What “scholarly consensus” are you referring to? What/which Bible scholars “sign on” this this alleged “consensus”? How many of them are there? Surely, if such a consensus exists, there is an identifiable body or council, perhaps not unlike the Council of Nicea, that Bob and you can refer us to and cite to lend authority to your claims that the authors of the Gospels were not eye witnesses themselves or not giving the accounts of eye witnesses to the resurrection and the resurrected Jesus.

        • wtfwjtd

          I didn’t say “Bible scholars” Jenna, I said “scholars”. This includes a wide variety of people in various accredited fields, including archaeology, history, linguistics, and many others. Geez dude, don’t you do any basic research before engaging in discussions about your cherished beliefs? I guess you aren’t actually reading posts, or interested at all at even looking at anything outside your little bubble.

          (sigh) All right, here’s a little Bible 101:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markan_priority

          Now, please, actually read that article carefully, and tell me who the article says wrote the book of Mark, and who was he?

        • Jenna Black

          Bible scholars are authorities on the Bible within their own areas of research and scholarship. If you accept some archaeologists or historians or linguists as authorities on the Bible, you are certainly free to list and cite those scholars too. I’m still waiting for the list of sign on’s to your claimed scholarly consensus.

          And a note about scholarship in the academic disciplines: Wikipedia is not considered to be an academically credible source.

        • Kodie

          Neither is the bible unless your academic area of study is the bible.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Wikipedia is not considered to be an academically credible source.”

          Says who? You?

          I know Jenna, it don’t matter who or what I cite, or Bob cites, that will be your pat answer: You don’t or won’t think it’s credible. Unless, of course, whatever I cite happens to agree with your pre-determined point of view. You’ve refused to even look at any of the info that’s been presented to you up till now, so what’s the point of keeping on doing this?

          And you know what? If you are determined to close your mind to scholarly viewpoints on the origins of your cherished scriptures, I certainly won’t be able to make you take a look.

          You can lead a horse to water, but you really *can’t* make them drink.

        • Pofarmer

          There are divinity schools all over the nation teaching exactly what the folks here have pointed out to you. Bart Ehrman? I just keep mentioning him because he’s an easy one, and accessible on a personal level via his blog.

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

          Since your question about who wrote Mark has already been answered (in this post that I referred you to several times), why are you still asking?

        • MNb

          Every single author of Antiquity told stories. We know stories about Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Socrates, Constantine the Great, Archimedes. It’s a well know fact that authors of Antiquity didn’t care about separating fact and fictions like we do. Now why would the authors of the Gospels suddenly be the big exceptions?

        • SparklingMoon-

          you mischararterize and misrepresent the Gospels when you call the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus “stories.” They are testimony and should be understood, examined and critiqued as testimony.
          —————————————————-
          Commentators who have made researches into these books admit that the books of the New Testament have two parts: (1) the spiritual instruction received by the disciples from Jesus (as) which is the essence of the teachings of the Gospel; (2) historical events — like the genealogy of Jesus; his arrest and his being beaten; the existence in his time of a miraculous pond,etc. These, the writers recorded by themselves; they were not revealed; rather, they were set down in accordance with the writer’s own ideas.

          In the Gospel of Barnabas,it stated that Jesus did he die on the Cross. Though this book is not included in the gospels (of New Testament) and has been rejected summarily, yet there is no doubt that it is an ancient book, and it belongs to the period in which the other gospels were written. Is it not open to us to regard this ancient book as a book of history of ancient times and to make use of it as a book of history ? Does it not follow from this book that at least at the time when the event of the Cross took place, people were not unanimous as to Jesus’ dying on the Cross?( Jesus in India)

        • KarlUdy

          The null hypothesis is with an account being given at face value.

        • MNb

          Ah, rejecting science as the good christian you are. Then you’ll have to accept a lot of stories about Mohammed and Buddha as well. Fortunately you are wrong:

          http://www.livius.org/theory/testis-unus-testis-nullus/

        • hector

          If this were true then you must accept all claims as equally valid until proven false. So you accept the Koran, the Book of Mormon and Dianetics at face value? Interesting.

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

          A Roman senator saw Caesar Augustus ascend into heaven. You also default to assuming that’s true?

        • KarlUdy

          That’s the null hypothesis. Not necessarily the conclusion.

        • Kodie
        • KarlUdy

          Testimony is raw data. It is the explanation of what produces the data that is the hypothesis. The null hypothesis is to treat the testimony at face value.

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

          Before you’ve read it, sure. But once you’ve read it, the genre of the writing gives you a starting assumption. Is it written in crayon? Is it a list of grocery items? Does it rhyme? These tell us what bin to put it in.

          Then we can proceed to see if the default is actually correct in this case. Maybe that thing written in crayon isn’t a child’s drawing but the sketch of a new invention. Or a poem. Or artwork. Or a suicide note. Or a physics paper.

        • KarlUdy

          The genre is “testimony”. You appear to be saying that a subset of testimony with certain content should be assumed to be inaccurate.

        • Kodie

          It claims itself to be testimony. You don’t seem to get that doesn’t mean that’s what it is.

        • KarlUdy

          If it claims to be testimony, it could be lies, it could be mistaken, but it still must be taken at face value until demonstrated otherwise.

        • Kodie

          That’s pretty much what I did. I don’t think I had a conflicted upbringing where I might be biased about whether it’s true or not. A lot of people believe it. I didn’t have to get very deep before I smelled bullshit. Done.

        • KarlUdy

          So you think someone’s lying? Who?

        • Kodie

          Karl, how long are you willing to listen to a story that brings up a literal resurrection from the dead? If it’s not about Jesus, how likely are you to believe testimony, and then go look for the “liar”. It’s a story. A lot of people believe it’s true, they’re not lying, but it’s not true.

          A rational person does not have to (unless they want to) dismiss this with a lengthy thoughtful takedown.

        • KarlUdy

          OK, so you say that you took the testimony at face value until it was demonstrated to be false. But it looks like you just went, “nah, that can’t be true”

        • Kodie

          It was more like “grown people believe in Santa Claus? Seriously?” How far into the bullshit need I immerse myself to be sure? Not you or any other Christian has put forth a logical statement to follow. You’re all smoked.

        • KarlUdy

          I am not familiar of any church that includes belief in Santa Claus as part of their doctrine.

        • Kingasaurus

          The wilfully obtuse are the hardest to converse with.

        • Kodie

          But the most reaffirming.

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

          That’s an interesting approach. Certainly not the one that I take.

          Are you saying that there is anything to recommend your approach? And how long would it take you to move something from the default (Accurate) state to some other bin?

          The whole hypothetical sounds ridiculous. You know where you’re going to put the story of Caesar Augustus ascending into heaven. Why not put it there as the default, and then decide if it fits the pattern as you expect?

        • KarlUdy

          Are you saying that there is anything to recommend your approach?

          Valid testimony would be ignored if we did not follow this approach. For example, most of the atrocities during the Holocaust would never be believed because they are so incredible and also unprovable.

          And how long would it take you to move something from the default (Accurate) state to some other bin?

          How long it would take to come to conclusion testimony is false depends on how easy it is to discover.

          Why not put it there as the default, and then decide if it fits the pattern as you expect?

          Not a very scientific approach.

        • Pofarmer

          There is ample evidence the holocaust happened, even though there are deniers, and it is a recent event. But, there is nothing supernatural about the Holocaust. You are accepting testimony at face value of something that we know scientifically does not happen, ever. If someone/something is dead for 3 days, it is dead, stop. If you have an alternative non-supernatural theory, that’s great. If you have a plausible, testable, supernatural theory, that’s also great. But, what you have is ancient literature, that really looks an awful lot like other ancient literature of the time period. I think it’s up to you to tell us why we should accept it as something other than what it appears to be.

        • KarlUdy

          You are accepting testimony at face value of something that we know scientifically does not happen, ever.

          So you approach Jesus’ resurrection with your mind made up, no matter what evidence anyone could bring. I don’t think we’re going to get any further in this conversation if that’s the case.

        • Pofarmer

          You are welcome to bring whatever evidence you have.

        • KarlUdy

          No thanks. This isn’t Hades and I’m not Sisyphus.

        • Pofarmer

          See Karl, here’s the deal. I was a believer, MNb has stated he was a believer, Greg was a believer. If you have some overwhelming sooper dooper evidence, well, hell, you might be able to reconvert us right on the spot. I WAS open to the supernatural, I AM open to any evidence for it that there might be. The only one with a closed mind appears to be you.

        • Kingasaurus

          He has.

          “Some guys said a long time ago…”

          That’s it.

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

          I believe it was Michael Shermer who had (IMO) the slam-dunk reply to Holocaust deniers: if the Holocaust didn’t happen, the guys on trial at Nuremberg would’ve said so!

          Instead, they said they were following orders or whatever. That they didn’t deny it (the obvious defense, if available, for a defendant) makes clear that it happened.

        • KarlUdy

          I am finding it hard to follow the conversation here. Pofarmer responded to a post of mine a day ago, but the post of mine immediately above (and apparently on the same topic) is from an hour ago. So I’m not sure what Pofarmer and Bob are replying to, but to clarify, my point was:

          Some of the testimony of holocaust survivors would be described as extraordinary, and a lot is verifiable only by similar testimony. Your procedure would say that the burden of proof is on them to prove that what they say happened really did happen.

          Not that the holocaust per se is in the same category.

        • MNb

          “lot is verifiable only by similar testimony”
          Yes. That’s exactly the point.

          “the burden of proof is on them”
          Yes, of course it is. Know what? They pass with flying colours (on the death flag, that is). The point is that these testimonies are independent. They come from victims, from guards, from soldiers (Russian, English and American) who liberated camps. These people didn’t know each other, not even indirectly. We have testimonies from locals about razzia’s (in Amsterdam for instance an elderly woman personally showed me how the Germans rounded up the jews). So even without all the German documentation, photographs and what more, even if we only had testimonies, there would not have been any reasonable doubt on the Holocaust.
          The Resurrection has nothing that compares.

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

          Possibly a repeat: add to that the testimony of the accused at the Nuremberg trials. If the whole thing didn’t happen, they would’ve said so.

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

          Yes, the comments can be a little confusing once there are a lot of them.

          If you’re saying that the holocaust and the gospel story are quite different, I agree.

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

          Valid testimony would be ignored

          Not by me. I don’t propose ignoring anything. I’m simply demanding that the burden of proof be put in the right place.

          Not a very scientific approach.

          You’re saying that everything you hear–every joke, every anecdote, every story—is True History by default? Only then do you ask questions about whether you’ve mischaracterized it or not? I also put things into bins by default, but I try to be a little more thoughtful. I put things into the bin that looks the most like that thing.

          I think you’ll find that most people do it my way. Give it a try–it’s a lot more efficient.

        • KarlUdy

          Not by me. I don’t propose ignoring anything. I’m simply demanding that the burden of proof be put in the right place.

          You say that testimony with extraordinary claims should only be believed if it can be backed up with extraordinary evidence. Some of the testimony of holocaust survivors would be described as extraordinary, and a lot is verifiable only by similar testimony. Your procedure would say that the burden of proof is on them to prove that what they say happened really did happen.

          You’re saying that everything you hear–every joke, every anecdote, every story—is True History by default?

          No. I’m saying that things that are said as testimony must be treated as basic data and treated as true until demonstrated otherwise. All the things that are not said as testimony do not need to be treated in such a manner.

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

          Your procedure would say that the burden of proof is on them to prove that what they say happened really did happen.

          Sure. Let’s consider all the evidence and decide if it really happened or not.

          But of course there are no miracles in the basic Holocaust story. And it happened within the lifetimes of some people still alive. How much more incredible and hard-to-check is the gospel story?

        • Pofarmer

          I see Karl is parroting Jenna, now.

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

          Yes.

        • KarlUdy

          Well, go on, prove it then :-)

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

          Prove what? I’m simply saying that when the content is a serious analysis of dragons as if they’re real, that probably would go into either Fantasy (that is, fiction) or Mythology. We’ve encountered myriad examples in each of these bins, so the default placement makes efficient use of our time. Neither you nor I have the time or patience or gullibility to take every single story and put it in the True History bin, assume that it’s true, and then proceed from there. Maybe it’s a joke, an anecdote, a parable, or any of a dozen other genres. Why default them all to True History?

        • KarlUdy

          Neither you nor I have the time or patience or gullibility to take every single story and put it in the True History bin, assume that it’s true, and then proceed from there. Maybe it’s a joke, an anecdote, a parable, or any of a dozen other genres. Why default them all to True History?

          I’m talking about testimony, which is where someone attests to the truth of something (such as an event). It is either true, or misinformed or fabricated, either in part or whole. There are not dozens of genre options for something that is presented as testimony.

          Until we find evidence of fabrication or error, we must receive it as valid testimony.

        • Ron

          In this case, the raw data consists of little more than a series of unsubstantiated claims contained on ancient parchments. The evidence for a resurrected messiah is a resurrected messiah. Can you produce one? Yes, or no?

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

          Why “not necessarily”? Sounds like equivocation. Sounds like you don’t really like the consequences of your rule. Sounds like you already have an expectation of where you want this claim to wind up after you’ve done your research.

          Let me propose another null hypothesis. I suggest that we put supernatural tales into the Myth/Legend bin with all the other ones as a starting point. We might be wrong this time, so let’s be open minded about the evidence, but that’s where we start.

        • KarlUdy

          Why “not necessarily”?

          Umm, hypothesis?

          Let me propose another null hypothesis.

          I think you have just demonstrated that you do not understand what the null hypothesis is.

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

          You ignored my first point. That doesn’t mean that it’s been set aside.

          I think I do understand the idea of null hypothesis. Yes, I realize that there can be only one. I was gently suggesting that yours was wrong. If making a gentle proposal is confusing, I can avoid the gentleness in the future.

        • KarlUdy

          You ignored my first point. That doesn’t mean that it’s been set aside.

          I didn’t ignore it, but you obviously didn’t understand my response. I think you know that with any hypothesis you have H1 (your hypothesis) and H0(null hypothesis) as the two possible results of an investigation or experiment. To say that I agree that the testimony about Caesar ascending into heaven is H0 does not mean that I believe that the hypothesis “this testimony about Caesar’s ascension is incorrect” has not been demonstrated. Haven’t investigated it personally or read the research of those who have.

          I think I do understand the idea of null hypothesis. Yes, I realize that there can be only one.

          But do you realize that the null hypothesis is precisely that whatever you propose as a theory is not true?

    • MNb

      “Paul lost most of his audience”
      Most of an audience consisting of educated people. Typically most early christians were uneducated: slaves and poor citizens.

    • randomfactor

      “I think you will find that they found the idea of dead men rising as hard to believe as people do today. ”

      So they all doubted the Lazarus fable, right?

      • KarlUdy

        I assume that those who doubted Jesus rose from the dead would also doubt Lazarus rose.

    • Greg G.

      I think you will find that they found the idea of dead men rising as hard to believe as people do today.

      Was Mark 6:14-16 passed down accurately?

      • wtfwjtd

        How about Matthew 11:4-5?

      • KarlUdy

        That Herod believed that people could be raised from the dead? Sure.

        • Greg G.

          What about the other people mentioned? To be fair, you are comparing them to today and a large percentage of the world believes in resurrection because it says so in a book written and compiled by a mostly illiterate society.

  • Matt G

    The Bible makes CLAIMS. Claims are not facts (evidence is a better term). You do not support claims with other claims, but with evidence. These people assume that the claims ARE facts and proceed from there. This is rationalizing, not reasoning.

  • Pofarmer

    Just an aside on a personal note. I don’t know if this is a lent thing or what. I have noted my kids attend a local Catholic School. When we first started, it was a school with a Catholic/Christian slant, Church once a week, etc. Well, yesterday the boys informed me that there is now a new prayer they are supposed to say when they go through the “breezeway” in and out of school, to the lunchroom/gymnazium, etc. Something about “Jesus guide my actions and my hands and feet.” The principal said they should be praying constantly and thinking about Jesus. This is on top of Prayers before every class, church now every day, religion class for the 7th and 8th graders every day. An extra “prayer assembly” once a month that takes the place of a personal extra class, and I’m sure that’s not the end of it. It’s gone from being a place I was happy to see my kids go, even as a pretty moderate christian now 9 years ago, to one that I see as an indoctrination center, and I think I would have felt that way 9 years ago, as well. I don’t know if this is just here, or if this is an over all trend, but the Catholic Church seems to be ramping up teh crazy.

    • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

      Truly, who would expect a Catholic school to be all wacky religious?

      • Pofarmer

        Yeah, I know, color me an idiot. But honestly, it didn’t start out that way. It just seems like there’s this trend right now among ALL the religious, not just Catholics, to become more extreme in their beliefs. Maybe I’m just more sensitive to it though. May just be my perception.

        • avalpert

          Has their been a change over in leadership at the school? Having been an observer of day schools (granted Jewish not Catholic) for quite a while I think the trends in this sort of thing are typically more local and driven by the personalities/desires of administrative or parent leadership.

          Though this could be totally wrong for Catholic schools since Judaism doesn’t have the hierarchy that they do.

        • Pofarmer

          Yes, we have gone through 3 principles in 9 years(which I don’t think is bad or uncommon) and 3 or 4 priests. The first priest was really laid back and I tended to like him and he wasn’t too pushy. When our first child started there, there was even a small core group wanting to model it as more of a non-denominational school to try to appeal to more families. That didn’t happen. The next priest was a little more strict in his interpretations of stuff, and made some changes in the school and church that I wasn’t particularly fond of. This last priest is one of the ones who has been educated in the “evangelical conservative Catholic” mold, and I think this is a bad deal. It is divisive for the community as a whole. These aren’t just Catholic kids going to this school. This last principal is a doozy. She is running the school in a strict Catholic mode. If you’ve never been really well aquantld with the Catholic mindset, then go read Public Catholic or Bad Catholic to get an idea of it. It’s that far, and it’s that scary. The good news is, to me at least, not to my wife, because she doesn’t necessarily know, that teh crazy has gotten deep enough that they are starting to deconstruct it on their own.

        • MNb

          It’s partly perception, but I think you’re on something. As Herman Philipse points out accommodating science with belief systems is a serious problem for believers, if they don’t want to walk the Kierkegaard road. I don’t say the task is impossible a priori, but with science making steady progress it’s obvious that a lot of belief systems will go down. This is not only a problem for nuts like Ol’ Hambo from AIG, but also for smart guys like WLC, like Sean Carroll has shown very recently. And these are the guys who try to accommodate.
          The other possible reaction for believers is simply to reject science. I recently asked a good friend, a liberal catholic, what she would do when science conflicted with her belief system. The question came up regarding the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark. She answered that she would hold on to her belief system anyway “or she would go crazy”. As she by far isn’t as well educated as me, including Biblical knowledge, I see no point in debating her (she doesn’t try to convert me either).
          One way to deal with the threat that scientific progress poses is to become more extreme – and violent. Our good friend Norm is also a fine example. So we shouldn’t be surprised a considerable amount of believers becoming more radical.

        • Pofarmer

          I have to go back and watch that Carrol debate.

        • MNb
        • Pofarmer

          bookmarked, thanks..

        • Pofarmer

          “The question came up regarding the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark.”

          Here’s the funny thing though. Years ago that Catholic teaching was that Adam and Eve, the Flood, all that, was allegorical. Now they are leaning to teaching it as historical. They are backsliding.

        • MNb

          Yeah – I recommended her to ask the priest of her church if the story is allegorical or historical. I don’t know yet if she has asked indeed.

        • Pofarmer

          the answer might be enlightening. I think the Church is realizing that teaching all that as allegory leaves great big smoking holes in their theology.

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

          Is this extremism the beginning of the end? Or is it just a fun new twist for a zombie that won’t die?

        • MNb

          I really wouldn’t know.

        • wtfwjtd

          It’s been observed that as a religious or political faction gets more shrill, it gets smaller. As it gets smaller, it gets more shrill. Death spiral, perhaps?

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

          That pleasant thought will see me to sleep tonight.

  • SteveK

    >> My goal is to show that some natural path is possible.

    This is a given. Anything that is possible, is possible.

    >> With the facts plausibly explained, that defeats the supernatural claim.

    Huh? What is plausible / possible doesn’t defeat any argument.

    >> What’s to explain?

    Stories of what might have happened don’t explain much of anything.

    >> Stamp it with “Myth/Legend” and let’s move on.

    I need a reason why this should be done. You’ve only offered speculation based on general plausibilities – not specific plausibilities that are based on the specifics of the events being examined.

    I thought this post was going to tell me how the atheist explains the evidence. Start with the facts of “these documents say that…” and give me *reasons* that are *specifically* tied to events in question. Habermas did it this way. I am saying “specifically tied to the events” because I see you offering us general facts as defeaters.

    For example: the fact that people make mistakes and memories are imperfect is a general fact that applies everyone at some point – but not at all times. This general fact is not a defeater of any specific argument until you can *show* that it deserves to be applied to a specific argument. Otherwise you could apply this general fact to any specific argument about some historical event – even the events from 30 minutes ago.

    • Kodie

      Everything is more plausible than resurrection. The Christian argument is to make speculative plausible sequences to fill in the blanks to arrive at that conclusion. It is based on “please excuse all the obvious flaws in the telling of this story, but here’s how it might have happened.” So what is proven? That anyone can speculate? It depends on what you want to be true, and if what you want to be true is supernaturally impossible, and doubt can be cast on how the story arose in the first place? You have nothing.

      • SteveK

        >> Everything is more plausible than resurrection.

        Not quite sure I understand how you would know this.

        >> It is based on “please excuse all the obvious flaws in the telling of this story, but here’s how it might have happened.”

        That’s not the way the argument is presented.

        • Kingasaurus

          Until the supernatural is demonstrated, natural explanations are always preferred. Since a “miracle” is a temporary supernatural overthrow of natural processes, it is by definition the least likely thing to have occurred, even if it happened. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be classified as such.

          A person in a story who says a miracle happened and is lying or mistaken, is always much more likely than such a story being relayed truthfully.

          “What is more likely? That nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie?”

        • SteveK

          Statistics don’t tell you what actually happened, only what is likely to have happened. “Least likely” options are never off the table. For example: a royal flush is very unlikely compared to other common hands, but there are situations where I am justified in believing that someone was actually dealt a royal flush. The devil – as they say – is in the details.

        • Kingasaurus

          Sigh.

          The evidence is overwhelming that royal flushes have been dealt from time to time, in line with their statistical likelihood, which can be calculated. Royal flushes are dealt within the framework of the laws of nature, with which we have high confidence.

          That isn’t that same thing as a corpse reanimating after three days, because an unevidenced, invisible, omnipotent and omniscient eternal disembodied mind willed it to be so. A being, by the way, we have no good reason to believe is anything more than imaginary.

          Again, since nobody has ever demonstrated a resurrection of this sort, and someone lying or being mistaken about such a fantastical thing is far more likely to have happened, we are not jsutified in assenting to the proposition that a miraculous resurrection really happened.

          The miracle claim is extraordinary, and you need evidence commensurate with the kind of claim it is before you assent to it.

          Occam’s Razor, for the umpteenth time.

        • SteveK

          My only point was to say that statistics/probability don’t tell you everything, so the “least likely” argument doesn’t do anything in and of itself. What matters are the other details.

          >> A being, by the way, we have no good reason to believe is anything more than imaginary.

          Have you studied the 5 Ways proofs? Those are good reasons. I realize that you may be unconvinced of their conclusions, but the fact is they are logical, rational arguments. You’d have to show that they are invalid arguments in order for you to say that we have no good reasons.

        • Kingasaurus

          We shouldn’t assent to the idea that the “least likely” thing happened without extraordinarily good reasons for doing so. Especially when the “least likely” thing violates every law of nature we know about, and it’s likelihood is so close to zero that it’s no different from zero in practical terms.

          –“Have you studied the 5 Ways proofs?”–

          If one “Way” is convincing enough, you shouldn’t need the other four. What’s the best one?

        • SteveK

          I agree that we should not jump to these conclusions without very good reasons.

          >> What’s the best one?

          They each have a different role and together are cumulative. Start with the first way to get you to one aspect of God and work your way down the list.

        • Kingasaurus

          They’re all horribly fallacious. Unwarranted conclusions.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep those are pretty terrible arguments, and most of them have been rebutted right on this blog.

        • Kodie

          Let’s make this a little clearer: when the least likely/most improbable event just happens to be statistically possible, how big are the stakes? Pascal’s Wager addresses the impossibility of really knowing one way or another. The stakes are too high to take a chance being wrong. If the stakes are that high and the probability is physically and naturally impossible to the point of being meant to be disbelieved, I think your god is a true asshole. Except that there is no really good reason to believe in him except for the stakes and a minimal excuse for “proofs” that seem to sway the gullible and vulnerable as a money-making scheme, and that it’s still possible and fairly normal to be a good person despite there being no god, I think there’s no reason to really go there. There is zero probability, not low probability, not microscopic, not a sliver of a chance. Chance applies to statistically natural and possible events. It does not apply to fantasies you have to invent to sleep well and not fear death.

          In another case where Greg has a pet hippopotamus, the stakes aren’t really high. It is implausible, yet possible. He makes a claim, I don’t believe him, he cares that I believe him, he takes a picture, I say “that was at the zoo” or “that’s a horse” and he says nothing he can show me will make me believe. If he wants a pet hippopotamus, that’s great. We’ll miss you when your hippo eventually eats you, Greg. Whatever.

        • Kodie

          The probability of a royal flush is:
          0.000154%, or 649,739 : 1

          The probability of a resurrection:

          0%.

          Do you know the difference between zero and non-zero?

        • Compuholic

          Statistics don’t tell you what actually happened, only what is likely to have happened. “Least likely” options are never off the table.

          True. We cannot investigate what actually happened. We can only investigate what possibly happened and that is realm of statistics. The only smart thing to do is to bet on the most probably hypothesis as it will be the hypothesis that will be the right one in most cases. To bet on any other hypothesis is the very definition of being unreasonable.

          a royal flush is very unlikely compared to other common hands, but there are situations where I am justified in believing that someone was actually dealt a royal flush

          Correct, “there are situations”… Meaning you observed behavior that would lead you to believe that this most probably is the case.
          I hope you would agree that believing that someone is holding a royal flush without good evidence would not be a winning strategy. If you get that you should also get why natural explanation are always to be preferred. Because all we have ever observed are natural causes. That means that in 0% of all cases I have experiences supernatural explanations. And you are saying the smart thing to do is to bet on the possibility that has never been observed? Really?

        • SteveK

          >> If you get that you should also get why natural explanation are always to be preferred.

          I agree. I won’t jump to a non-natural explanation unless the details justify such a move.

          >> Because all we have ever observed are natural causes.

          You? Maybe that is true. Don’t speak for everyone though. I’ve never observed a Higgs Boson, but I hear that they do exist and am justified in thinking they do. I’ve never observed gravity itself (the causal force), but I have good reasons to think this causal force exists because I’ve seen the effects that it produces.

          All of this is a roundabout way of saying that we don’t need to observe something to justify saying that we know it exists.

        • Compuholic

          unless the details justify such a move.

          I am curious what details would justify such a move? You sound a lot like ancient people trying to explain lightning without knowledge of electricity. According to you, they are perfectly justified is postulating a supernatural explanation because in their position they are “forced to do so”.

          […]we don’t need to observe something to justify saying that we know it exists.

          When I say “observe” I really mean “examine”. Observation is the usual way to examine something. In any case, you are basically giving yourself the permission to make up whatever you like.

          Since you seem to have trouble to choose the natural explanation over the supernatural explanation: Here is a 3rd possibility for you. Have you considered a hypernatural explanation for the resurrection?

        • SteveK

          >> I am curious what details would justify such a move?

          Foundational metaphysical principles allow the move to be possible. That’s the starting point. Without a metaphysical foundation you can’t sort anything out – not even a naturalist can do it. From there you’d have to look at what happened and ask *what* real thing could possibly produce the effect. Some effects can only be produced by rational beings (math proofs, car designs, etc).

          >> In any case, you are basically giving yourself the permission to make up whatever you like.

          No, I’m not. The evidence for that would be the reasons offered to justify the move.

        • Compuholic

          Some effects can only be produced by rational beings (math proofs, car designs, etc).

          Actually you are wrong here. Math proofs and car designs can and are being produced by computers. There is a whole field devoted to automated theorem proving. Car designs can be made by evolutionary algorithms. Although I am not aware of any specific efforts with cars I know of a project that “evolved” the design of a jet nozzle.

          However you have not answered the central question? What about hypernatural explanations?

        • SteveK

          >> Math proofs and car designs can and are being produced by computers.

          Uhh, computers only do what rational beings program them to do, hence the effect of the computer can only be *fully* explained if you include a rational being in that explanation.

          >> Car designs can be made by evolutionary algorithms.

          Same answer.

        • Compuholic

          Computer can actually program themselves as well. It is called genetic programming.

          That aside: Will you finally answer my fucking question?

        • SteveK

          >> Computer can actually program themselves as well

          Because a rational being programmed it to do that.

          >> Have you considered a hypernatural explanation for the resurrection?

          Never heard that term before. Seriously. What do you mean by hypernatural and how is it different than supernatural?

        • Compuholic

          Because a rational being programmed it to do that.

          There is also Meta-genetic programming. And before you ask nothing prevents you from doing Meta-Meta-genetic programming. Repeat ad nauseam…

          What do you mean by hypernatural

          I have no idea what that actually means (much like the supernatural) but I am told it is beyond both the natural and the supernatural.So we have to consider it as well.

        • SteveK

          >> I am told it is beyond both the natural and the supernatural

          As I Christian I would be a hypernaturalist according to your definition.

        • Compuholic

          Then, what about the superduper-natural that lies beyond the hypernatural?

        • Pofarmer

          So, what are your foundational metaphysical principals?

        • MNb

          “Not quite sure I understand how you would know this.”
          Natural law.

        • SteveK

          In the past, non-living things have become living things so if it occurred there was no “law” broken.

        • hector

          So abiogenisis producing a single-celled life form and the resurrection of a dead human being are the same thing in your book? Har-dee-har-har

        • SteveK

          I didn’t say that. Read what I did say. Thanks.

        • hector

          The implication is clear.

          You are welcome.

        • SteveK

          MNb is jumping to a conclusion that is unwarranted. There is no law of nature being broken.

        • MNb

          No? Then please provide me with the natural law describing members of Homo Sapiens rising from death. Cockroaches will do too.

        • SteveK

          Not sure I understand. What do you mean by natural law? Do you think that laws exist “out there” somewhere?

        • MNb

          OK, I’ll rephrase. Please provide me with the scientific theory or hypothesis describing members of Homo Sapiens rising from death. Cockroaches will do too.
          You see – there are quite a few hypotheses in the field of abiogenesis.

        • SteveK

          >> Please provide me with the scientific theory or hypothesis describing members of Homo Sapiens rising from death.

          I can’t do that because rising from the dead isn’t a naturally occurring process. Flying inside an aluminum tube with wings isn’t a naturally occurring process either. It requires a series of non-naturally occurring cause/effect relationships to get that to happen.

        • Kodie

          You mean human invention. It takes human ambition, innovation, and creation to fly in an airplane, and magical intervention by a deity to rise from the dead.

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

          I’m splitting hairs here, but an airplane is natural in the same way that a termite mound, a beaver’s house, or a bird’s nest are natural.

          Call an airplane artificial if you want, but the natural argument is also possible.

        • Greg G.

          I may not be up to date regarding brain chemistry but an explanation of brain death from a few years ago is that when brain cells are deprived of oxygen, ion channels open up to let in more fluid in an attempt to bring in oxygen. If they are open too long, the cell swells up and ruptures. A stroke victim that has blood flow restored to the affected region of the brain can recover with no damage but if it is restored too late, the brain function can be restored temporarily when the cells begin to function when they get oxygen but the ion channels do not close fast enough to keep the cells from rupturing so brain function is lost permanently. When the whole brain is deprived of oxygen for a certain amount of time, there is no natural way to repair the damage.

          So if Jesus was dead, then his brain cells were damaged irreparably. If not, you can resort to the heresy of swoon theory.

          Another thing you can check is why the early epistles don’t talk about Jesus as a real person. All they tell about is that he was crucified and resurrected which comes from Isaiah 53 and Hosea 6, among other places. Anything the epistles say about Jesus can be found in the Old Testament. They never discuss teachings or preachings or anecdotes. Paul says he didn’t learn the gospel from any man. He says he got it from long hidden mysteries in the scripture. In 1 Corinthians 15, he uses the same word for “appeared to” for all the other appearances that he uses for his own. He even says that his knowledge is no less than other apostles. If Peter got his gospel from reading the scriptures the same way Paul did, then he wasn’t the illiterate fisherman of the gospels. Nothing else in the gospels is any more reliable than that.

        • MNb

          “All they tell about is that he was crucified and resurrected which comes from Isaiah 53 and Hosea 6”
          That’s an interesting twist. These quotes don’t mention specifically a crucifixion though.
          Thanks.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. The crucifixion comes from Galatians 3:13 where Paul quotes Deuteronomy 21:23.

        • MNb

          Hmm, yes, but that’s less convincing. First of all it’s not clear that the authors of the Gospels knew Galatians. In the second place Deuteronomy 21 talks about criminals and it’s a bit weird that an admirer of Jesus would equate his hero with a criminal.
          But it can’t be entirely ruled out though.

        • Greg G.

          Many lines from Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Galatians are attributed to Jesus in Mark and in the Gospel of Thomas. The argument between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2 could not have happened if Mark 7:1-19 was true. Instead we see Jesus arguing Paul’s position. Mark 7:21-23 echoes Galatians 5:19-21, though there are similar passages in 1 Corinthians and Romans. We see Paul using Rabbi Hillel’s maxim in Galatians 5:14, citing Leviticus 19:18 as fulfilling the whole law while Jesus demotes it to second place in Mark 12:31.

          Mark 14:36 has “Abba, Father” which is found in Galatians 4:6 and in Romans. Mark 10:5 echoes Galatians 3:19.

          Peter, James and John are Jesus’ main sidekicks in Mark. Andrew gets a second mention and Judas has a second role. No other disciple gets mentioned after their introduction. Galatians says those three are reputed to be pillars, but Paul expresses disdain for them as God shows no partiality. The disciples as a whole are treated by Mark as not too bright. When Jesus is transfigured, James and John want to sit on either hand in glory, similar to Paul’s description as pillars, while Peter is presented as wishy-washy, similar to the Galatians 2 argument.

        • MNb

          Actually less than a single-celled life form. A virus is basically a transitional form.

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

          Viruses are simpler, but they must come after cells since they are parasitic on cells, I think.

        • MNb

          You’re right (so I must withdraw the term transitional form) but a virus still shows that halflife is possible.

        • SparklingMoon-

          >> Everything is more plausible than resurrection.
          Not quite sure I understand how you would know this
          ————————————————————
          If Jesus died during the Crucifixion it can only mean that his heart ceased functioning and stopped supplying blood to his brain, and that his brain died soon after. So his entire life support system must have stopped to operate or he could not have been declared dead. That being so we are faced with a very intriguing problem in relation to the understanding of the life and death of Jesus Christ.

          The death of Jesus Christ, as has been demonstrated, would mean a final departure of his astral body, or soul as we may call it, from the physical cage of his human body. If so, his revival would have to mean the return of the same astral body to the same physical body that it had left behind three days earlier. Such a return of the soul would restart the clock of physical life and set it ticking once again. For such a thing to happen, the disintegrated and dead brain cells would have come to life suddenly and the chemical processes of rapid decay would have been reversed entirely. This involves an enormous problem and will ever remain a challenge for the Christian biochemists to resolve. Describing the reversal of the entire chemical processes of decay within the central nervous system is beyond the reach of the farthest stretches of scientist’s imagination. Such a revival would mean not just the revival of the cells of the central nervous system, but actually their synthesis. Even if the same cells were reconstructed and brought to life exactly as they were before, they would, in fact, be a new set of cells devoid of any previous memory. They would have to be re- manufactured, complete with all the data relevant to the life of Jesus that was wiped out of his brain after the death of his mind.(Christianity: Facts to Fiction)

        • Greg G.

          You story lost all plausibility when you got to “astral body/soul”.

        • Kodie

          How I would know resurrections are not plausible? Have you ever seen anyone spontaneously rise from the dead? What if I had testimony that I had seen someone who was dead and then they came alive? What kind of thoughts and ideas would you express around my insistence that someone I knew said someone they knew a long time before had died and then a few days later went missing from their grave?

          The scholarly arguments all seem to come by their conclusions one way – by leaping over the gaps or doubts someone might have in the way the story is told or the conclusion it reaches by waving their hands. So if I told you that I’m positive my friend’s friend resurrected a long time ago, and you had serious questions about that, and I said things like “my friend would never lie,” or “my friend committed the story to memory and told it exactly the same way every time,” or “my friend talked to eyewitnesses,” or “my friend’s other friends all died to support this story even under pressure to say things that weren’t totally crazy.” So it has to be true, right?

          Let me ask you point blank – if resurrection is the plausible explanation, why do you think that’s more plausible than it’s a fantastical legend about a guy who may or may not have existed?

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

      Huh? What is plausible / possible doesn’t defeat any argument.

      My goal isn’t to defeat any argument, just the supernatural one. With a plausible natural argument, I do so.

      You’ve only offered speculation based on general plausibilities – not specific plausibilities that are based on the specifics of the events being examined.

      What specifics are necessary?

      For example: the fact that people make mistakes and memories are imperfect is a general fact that applies everyone at some point – but not at all times. This general fact is not a defeater of any specific argument until you can *show* that it deserves to be applied to a specific argument.

      The apologist takes on the burden of showing that the natural argument can’t explain the evidence. All I need do is simply show that it could.

      • Kingasaurus

        I swear, none of these people show any interest in Occam’s Razor.

        None.

        Except when it comes to the ancient supernatural stories of other religions, I guess.

        • MNb

          Plus they demand 100% absolute eternal undoubtable certain proof before accepting a hypothesis or theory they don’t like.

      • SteveK

        >> My goal isn’t to defeat any argument, just the supernatural one.

        Yes, I understand. If plausiblility is the standard for reaching “defeater” status then I can come up with all sorts of stories to defeat your defeater. Setting the bar that low doesn’t do much.

        >> What specifics are necessary?

        Specific facts that when applied to the argument, succeed in defeating the argument. General facts that may or may not apply to the argument don’t do much. You need to show that they actually do apply and I don’t see that.

        >> The apologist takes on the burden of showing that the natural argument can’t explain the evidence.

        The goal of the argument isn’t to show that the natural argument can’t explain the data. It might explain it pretty well. I haven’t seen anything here to give me a reason to think that it does explain it – I’ve only been told what might have happened.

        The goal of the argument is to show that the supernatural argument reasonably explains the data, and I think Habermas has succeeded in doing that. Disagreement and speculation aren’t defeaters.

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

          If plausiblility is the standard for reaching “defeater” status then I can come up with all sorts of stories to defeat your defeater. Setting the bar that low doesn’t do much.

          Huh? You seem to imagine symmetry. There is none here. The Christian makes a remarkable claim and must provide overwhelming evidence. By contrast, the atheist makes no claim and simply evaluates the evidence. When the atheist offers nothing more than a plausible explanation for the facts, the supernatural argument is defeated.

          Asymmetry.

          Specific facts that when applied to the argument, succeed in defeating the argument.

          I’m still missing your point. Are you demanding something like, “Well, person X in the year 80 wrote that Jesus was fiction and rebutted all of the supernatural claims in the gospels”?

          I’ve only been told what might have happened.

          Ah, good. Then I succeeded.

          And was the natural explanation plausible? If so, it defeats the inherently implausible supernatural explanation.

        • randomfactor

          Not only that, but so does his OWN proffered alternative natural explanation.

        • SteveK

          >> The Christian makes a remarkable claim and must provide overwhelming evidence.

          I’m starting with the facts that both you Habermas accept, “these documents say that….”.

          >> When the atheist offers nothing more than a plausible explanation for the facts, the supernatural argument is defeated.

          Have you ever heard of a hung jury where two plausible explanations were given? I think you are overstating your case. At best all you’ve done is offered people another plausible explanation, but you really haven’t done that here for reasons I already stated.

          >> I’m still missing your point.

          One of the reasons you gave in support of your position was “Maybe someone was lying along the way. That’s hardly surprising—we know that people lie. You might ask for their motivation. I dunno, and I don’t much care—we understand those times so poorly that there could be lots of surprising reasons.”

          If that’s a solid reason then I have plenty of those too.

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

          Have you ever heard of a hung jury where two plausible explanations were given?

          Sure, but why bring that up? In the case of the plausible natural explanation vs. the supernatural explanation, the natural explanation wins.

        • SteveK

          Why does it win?

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

          If you disagree with my point, I’m not sure there’s common ground for us to proceed.

        • MNb

          I already told you – if we assume that the supernatural explanation wins we can accept any supernatural explanation for anything: fairies in my backyard, an invisible dragon in my garage, demons running your computer.
          But there is a little more to it. Rejecting supernatural explanations, ie accepting the scientific method, has enabled mankind to change the way the world looks like in an unprecedented way. It may be for good or for bad, but changed it has.
          Supernatural claims never have achieved this.

        • Kodie

          If that’s a solid reason then I have plenty of those too.

          If you are looking for it, you would see that’s all there is to it, essentially. Nobody really knows what really happened, but Christians on their way to meet their impossible but cherished conclusion also fill in the blanks with “maybe this or that” as I am finding out. There are a lot of holes and a lot of excuses that Christians make, a lot of speculation. But you still, with all the missing pieces, arrive at your impossible but cherished conclusion, somehow.

          I am not too invested in discovering what actually happened, just finding plenty of reasons that all sound pretty good to me that resurrection is still impossible and yet the story arose and persists. We can find reasons for that. I do not have any reason to care if Jesus really existed or was invented as a myth. Mythical people can resurrect because they are fictional and fiction is only bound by the imagination, but real people can’t. These are your two plausible explanations.

    • MNb

      “What is plausible / possible doesn’t defeat any argument.”
      According to you I can maintain that there are fairies in my backyard tending my flowers so that they blossom beautifully. The biological theory describing this is only plausible/possible.

      • SteveK

        No. I said Bob didn’t offer anything beyond what might have happened. That’s how he explains the data that he accepted as a premise. If those are reasons for defeating data then anyone can do it.

        • Kingasaurus

          Yes, a plausible natural explanation defeats any supernatural explanation unless and until somebody can demonstrate that something supernatural has happened. Otherwise you could feel justified in believing supernatural explanations for just about anything that happened in the past. Nobody behaves this way.

        • SteveK

          >> Yes, a plausible natural explanation defeats any supernatural explanation unless and until somebody can demonstrate that something supernatural has happened.

          Really? Most natural explanations haven’t been demonstrated to you or to me. In those cases you are claiming knowledge of plausibility without having a demonstration. Isn’t that your complaint to me here?

          Also, many things cannot be demonstrated at all. What does that mean?

        • MNb

          You should google on “David Hume miracles” too. This partly founded the scientific method. You’re question “Really?” implies you reject the scientific method. So do I regarding the fairies in my backyard. If you don’t accept them I don’t have to accept the Resurrection for exactly the same reasons.

        • SteveK

          >> You’re question “Really?” implies you reject the scientific method.

          No, it implies that not everything is explainable by the scientific method – which is true.

        • MNb

          That applies to the fairies in my backyard as well. Are you going to accept them? No (because you’re not addressing this crucial point)? Then you are guilty of a double standard. Not that we will be surprised.
          Btw BobS nicely has shown in his article that the scientific method can bring up excellent hypotheses how the Resurrection stories made it into the Gospels. So we are back where we started.

        • SteveK

          >> Are you going to accept them?

          Tell me why I should (give me reasons) and then I will make my decision and explain why.

          >>Then you are guilty of a double standard.

          Not true, I (we) have given you many reasons. Maybe you missed them. Library shelves are full of them.

        • Pofarmer

          “Tell me why I should (give me reasons) and then I will make my decision and explain why.”

          MNb’s flowers bloom beautifully. The only reasonable explanation is Fairies.

        • SteveK

          Not enough. What kind of thing is a fairy?

        • hector

          Define ‘enough’.

        • SteveK

          Keep reading, I asked for more info.

        • hector

          Define ‘need’.

        • SteveK

          Go away.

        • Kodie

          Seriously?

        • SteveK

          Define “seriously” Kodie.

          Maybe now you’ll understand.

        • Kodie

          I understand you’re getting out of answering direct questions.

        • SteveK

          Yes, I’m free to answer, or not. I’ve never had a problem with that.

        • hector

          Define ‘away’.

        • MNb

          What kind of thing is a disembodied spirit?

        • Pofarmer

          A thing that makes flowers bloom.

        • MNb

          Assume I’m a dumb atheist. Give me those reasons to accept the Revelation as a historical event.

        • SteveK

          It’s too long a discussion to have in a combox.

        • Kodie

          This thread is almost 600 posts long and I don’t think there is a limit on the combox, or I’ve seen people break up long explanations. What is your next excuse? You’re here, you’re a Christian, you want people to understand, and you’re not going to explain. Why should anyone care?

        • SteveK

          Don’t care if that’s what you want to do. I came here to point out the problems with Bob’s blog post. Just because I get a request to answer a question doesn’t mean I will do that.

        • Kodie

          I just don’t know why you’re still here. You said what you wanted to say and you don’t have answers to the questions you’re asked, so why are you going to hang around?

        • hector

          Steve is still here because he’s a quibbler. This is a common apologist tactic on the internet – avoid arguing an actual position on the main issue and instead quibble endlessly over semantics and tangential points in the hopes of winning by attrition.

          When you called him on it and bluntly asked him to state his position he refused saying that it was too long to post here, thus proving that he is indeed nothing but a quibbler.

        • Kodie

          But I wanted to hear it from him! Or at the very least another evasive answer.

        • Pofarmer

          Is disqus getting grumpy with anybody else? What an epic thread.

        • SteveK

          >> Steve is still here because he’s a quibbler.

          Define “quibbler”. I’m kidding, don’t answer that but I do love all the mind reading that is going on here.

        • hector

          It’s not mind reading. It’s experience, Stevie.

          And I have to admit you are a good quibbler. Look how far you have dragged the conversation from evidence for the resurrection of Jesus to whether I am a mind reader. Bravo!

        • Kingasaurus

          We have to read your mind because you won’t engage in the conversation in any meaningful way. I stopped playing hide-and-seek decades ago. I’ll pass.

        • SteveK

          I’m not here to defend everything I believe. I’m also free to not answer questions if I want, just like you are free to do the same. If that level of freedom bothers you, it’s not my problem. If you want a more meaningful conversation, I don’t think internet comboxes are the place to get that.

        • hector

          You are indeed free to quibble, Steve. So what? It’s not my problem that you’ve got nothing important to say.

        • SteveK

          Good to know.

        • hector

          The thing is, Steve, you aren’t even here to defend what you believe about the very subject matter of this post – the resurrection of Jesus and the evidence for it. You are here to quibble.

        • SteveK

          LOL. The blog post is about the atheist claim that they can explain the resurrection story. There are no claims that I need to defend as it relates to the post because I didn’t make any.

        • hector

          I didn’t say you made any claims about the resurrection. Indeed I said the exact opposite, that you specifically refuse to make any, even though it’s obvious that you believe in the resurrection. Otherwise you would have no motive for your quibbling. Unless you are just trolling.

          Your one and only point, where you attempted to directly take on Bob’s position in this post, was made in your first comment. Bob thoroughly answered it. You have been quibbling ever since.

        • SteveK

          >> Indeed I said the exact opposite, that you specifically refuse to make any, even though it’s obvious that you believe in the resurrection.

          So what? How about you take your own medicine. List all the things you believe and let me ask you to defend them.

          >> You have been quibbling ever since.

          I’m replying to comments. Even some of the dumb ones. Call that quibbling if you want, I don’t really care. Stop directing comments to me and I will stop “quibbling”.

        • hector

          You’re doing it again. For the last time, this isn’t about ALL the things you believe. It’s about what you believe about the resurrection of Jesus, which you repeatedly refuse to state a position on.

          And you won’t stop quibbling if I stop directing comments toward you. I am accusing you of quibbling with everyone, not just with me.

          See how intellectually dishonest you are? You know all this this, but pretend you do not.

          You are probably the type who believes that victory in an argument goes to the person who gets the last word in. So be my guest. I won’t direct any more comments to you. Let’s see if that really stops you from quibbling. Good luck.

        • SteveK

          >> It’s about what you believe about the resurrection of Jesus, which you repeatedly refuse to state a position on.

          It’s clear you’re trying your hardest to make it about that.

          >> I am accusing you of quibbling with everyone, not just with me.

          Because. They. Keep. Directing. Comments. My. Way.
          (I’d put it in bold text if I knew how)

          >> I won’t direct any more comments to you.

          Yay!!

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

          How about you take your own medicine

          Where the atheist is making a claim (“The resurrection never happened!” for example), it’s fair to demand evidence. But our starting point is the Christian position making the claim of the resurrection. In that case, the burden of proof is on the Christian’s shoulders, as it should be.

          I don’t know that you’re doing this, but it is surprising to me seeing many apologists trying to demand equal burdens of proof. It’s like defending the gospel story is, for them, a burden.

        • Kodie

          The topic is: “So How Does an ATHEIST Explain the Resurrection Story?”

          So far, this has been confused for “so how does an atheist explain resurrection naturally?” and now you come along and dispute how an atheist explains the emergence of a story. You were not replying to any posts, you made a comment replying to the atheist blogger’s samples of natural explanations for the emergence of a resurrection story. You say, “Stories of what might have happened don’t explain much of anything.”

          I don’t see why not. The story isn’t about what Jesus ate for dinner with his friends before he was executed. Nobody cares. The menu reported by the bible is totally plausible for either a person or a character. The author nailed it. Circular arguments about how the bible says testimony and we’re supposed to take it for granted – a living human being died and then resurrected – and nothing, not anything outside of scientific proof and eyewitnesses, can defeat that? It’s undefeatable? It’s the most plausible explanation for the disappearance of a body in what might be a fictional story? “Define ‘plausible’?” You’re disappointed that an atheist can’t go back in time and solve the mystery, so you’re going with resurrection, because?

          You want to sidestep these questions because? You want to enter this discussion to avoid answering questions because? You want to talk about Aristotle and Aquinas now because? What is knowledge, what is it to knoooow anything. Because we can, like, perceive god, and metaphysics. Resurrection is impossible. There is no good reason to conclude that it happened. There seem to be a lot of good reasons to take the fact that this story exists and conclude that it is fiction, myth, legend, or the story of a fanatical rabbi that someone thought was too boring to sell. There seems to be a ton of research on how stories like this arise and are told and retold and bought and swallowed by gullible fools who want them to be true or need them to be true to cope with life and death. On the other hand, your hand, god wouldn’t lie to me. What is with you Christians asserting claims and failing to support them because, “eh, don’t feel like it.”

          And then change the subject? And you wonder why atheists don’t want to play nice with you and accommodate you and respect you? Is this how you win at persecution?

        • Pofarmer

          A discussion is generally two sided.

        • Kodie

          Library shelves are full of all kinds of books and a lot of them are on mythology.

        • SteveK

          True enough. That does nothing to invalidate the fact that many reasons have been given already.

        • Kodie

          Not by you.

        • SteveK

          Again we are in agreement.

        • Kodie

          But you’re here. You’re not only here, you’re telling other people to go away.

        • Pofarmer

          Any examples?

        • SteveK

          Examples of things that cannot be demonstrated?

          consciousness. truth. love. reason. faith. hope. justice. mercy. goodness. virtue…..to name a few.

        • Kodie

          These not only can be demonstrated, they can be agreed by people to exist. They are names of concepts that we understand. If you say we cannot demonstrate resurrection, well that’s true. We know what it means, but have not seen it demonstrated as described or implied in the gospels. It is an imaginary thing like Peter Pan teaching the children to fly to Never Never land.

        • MNb

          Ah, thanks, that was the answer I was looking for.

        • SteveK

          >> These not only can be demonstrated, they can be agreed by people to exist

          Not in a scientific way, which is what I thought Kingasaurus was asking for. You cannot measure the mass, height, luminosity, spin, etc of these things. Yes, our minds can “see” them — but then again, our minds “see” God too.

          >> If you say we cannot demonstrate resurrection, well that’s true.

          I’m glad we agree on this.

        • Kodie

          It’s an abstract concept defined by humans?

        • SteveK

          Yes and no. Yes, it’s an abstract concept. No, it’s not defined by humans in the sense that it is a made-up concept with no basis in reality. We perceive it.

        • Kodie

          You perceive that 2000 years ago someone was killed dead and then became alive again?

        • SteveK

          I thought you were talking about God. Sorry. My mistake.

        • Kodie

          No, sorry, I was following the conversation. You were asked for natural evidence of a resurrection and you brought up a list of abstract concepts defined by humans to compare it to. Nice try though!

        • Pofarmer

          To be fair, he was trying to demonstrate things not provable by MN, and he can’t come up with something physical like a resurrection, but must come up with a list of abstract concepts. Resurrection is not an abstract concept. God, as defined by most Christians, is not an abstract concept.

        • Kodie

          I think he was just hitting the canned response. “There are things we can’t measure, here is a list.”

        • SteveK

          Nice try??? Please stop attempting to read between the lines. My reply was sincere.

        • Kodie

          A list of abstract concepts defined by humans is not an answer though. Resurrection in fact does exist as a human concept or else we couldn’t have this conversation. It can be measured when you produce a living person who used to be dead, and prove it’s not just a fantastical or fictional type of event.

        • SteveK

          I agree that we could witness a resurrection and take data if we happened to have the instruments around at the time.

        • Kodie

          And yet, your perfect god left it to dummy humans without reliable recording instruments to keep this story in their head until someone with a pen came along some decades later. You never answered my question about how my friend knew another friend who died and then came back to life. I have the testimony.

        • SteveK

          >> You never answered my question about how my friend knew another friend who died and then came back to life. I have the testimony.

          I missed your question and couldn’t see it above. Was it, do I believe your friend? Maybe, I’d have to learn about the details.

        • Kodie

          I have the same amount of testimony as you do only my friend’s friend isn’t Jesus and it happened no more than 50 years ago.

        • SteveK

          Again, I might believe that it happened. Not ruling that out. Just would need to know a lot more.

        • Kodie

          Like what? Why? What if there was no more? What if I didn’t feel like telling you any more? What if your salvation, I’m certain, depended on it?

        • SteveK

          There must be a reason you are *certain* that my salvation depends on it, so you must have more information that you can share. If you don’t want to tell me any more, that’s fine and I’ll base my decision on what I have been given so far – which isn’t much.

        • Kodie

          I want to know how you would approach my testimony. If you are saying you would be inclined to believe it without asking a lot of questions because I won’t answer them but your salvation is too important, or that you would just ignore me, because I wasn’t telling you any more than I thought you could handle or felt like sharing or what. I don’t really have a problem answering your questions, as it turns out, so go ahead.

          Why do you have more questions for me than you ask yourself? I know only the exact amount as you do and no more, except that my testimony is not about Jesus. I have not elaborated because it doesn’t fit in a combox. You know your story, just change the names and dates.

        • Kodie

          SteveK, So are you avoiding this question or did you miss it again?

        • Pofarmer

          We perceive lot’s of things that aren’t real. Agency detection, for instance, is an evolved response. We see motion that’s not there, as well.

        • SteveK

          >> We perceive lot’s of things that aren’t real.

          Then we don’t really perceive them. We invent them.

        • Pofarmer

          Not necessarily. It’s quite possible to experience one thing, yet perceive it as something else. The show “Brain Games” is quite good at pointing this out.

        • SteveK

          I agree. We sometimes make mistakes regarding *what* something is. That is not the same as perceiving things that aren’t real. Clearly they are real.

        • Pofarmer

          The things we are experiencing are real, but our perceptions of them may be false. When we perceive one thing as something else, say, a group of branches moving for a tiger, we experienced something real, yet perceived it as something that wasn’t real.

        • SteveK

          >> The things we are experiencing are real, but our perceptions of them may be false.

          I agree. Sorting out what is what quickly gets us into metaphysical territory. “What-ness” is a metaphysical discussion. Nobody (me included) is disagreeing with science and the discoveries of science. Where we often disagree is on metaphysical grounds.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve yet to see metaphysics as a convincing argument for anything, but you’re welcome to give it a go.

        • SteveK

          Regarding “giving it a go”…you are putting forward a metaphysical argument every time you tell me in what form/state reality exists – what exists, how things come to exist and how these things interact. Nobody is immune from the subject.

          Aquinas, Plato and Aristotle are some who put a lot of thought into the subject. There are many other, more modern people who have done that too – most of them teach a metaphysic that is more materialistic. You may unknowingly be adopting their metaphysics without understanding the deficiencies.

          As for me, I think the arguments by Aquinas make the most sense. None are bulletproof (neither mine nor yours) which is why these disagreements will never end.

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

          None are bulletproof (neither mine nor yours) which is why these disagreements will
          never end.

          Well … you imagine a symmetry that I don’t think is there.

          If you say, “There’s a god” and I say, “No there’s not!” and we should back and forth, then that is indeed symmetric. That disagreement may never end.

          But we’re on the same page, I suspect, about things like fairies or leprechauns or unicorns. The burden of proof is on the proponent and, if the burden isn’t met, we’re obliged to reject the claim.

          Back to the topic at hand, we don’t have two hypotheses. We have instead one hypothesis, “God exists,” and we reject it if the evidence isn’t there.

          Symmetry broken.

        • Kodie

          A long time ago, I was babysitting two girls and their parents stayed out later than we discussed. It was my first and probably last time sitting them, and probably the first time I sat kids that didn’t live across the street from me, late at night. The house was large, and made of windows all around. I struggled to stay awake, because I thought I would get in trouble if I fell asleep on the job, even though the girls were asleep for a long time. Few channels came in on the TV. I settled on How the West Was Won on channel 9 (I think). This is an epic movie, 164 minutes long, which meant on broadcast TV, 4 hours, and no idea when it had started but it just kept going. Because of all the windows, I didn’t want to turn on all the lights.

          At some point, I started to see things out of the corner of my eye. I was fighting sleep in a dark, unfamiliar house, and saw things move, including people. Including Teeny Little Super Guy.

          Clearly my experience was real? But what I imagined I saw was a cartoon/stop-motion character from a children’s television program. The plausible explanation is that brains attempt to categorize shapes and perceived movements. I can still do this by staring at a blank ceiling or wall or the inside of my eyelids, especially when I’m tired or relaxed. I’m not hallucinating, it’s just imagination from in my head.

        • Pofarmer

          Exactly. And all of them can be observed in our actions. We are also now beginning to understand the mechanisms by which they are developed, and the brain centers in which they reside. At some point, theists are going to wish they’d never brought this up, because it is just another God of the Gaps argument.

        • MNb

          You cannot measure the mass, height, luminosity, spin etc of natural selection, intelligence, cognitive dissonance, book-keeping, a military strategy, parlementary democracy, feminism and porn either. So according to you “we cannot agree them to exist in a scientific way.”
          Do I hear some homeric laughter?

        • Pofarmer

          I would be happy to try to demonstrate the existence of porn.

        • SteveK

          >> So according to you “we cannot agree them to exist in a scientific way.”

          Are you saying the scientific method can detect things that it cannot measure? I wouldn’t say that it can do that, otherwise you would have to agree that ID theory belongs in science. Maybe you agree with that. Do you think it’s possible to detect design via the scientific method?

        • Greg G.

          All you have to do is show a more plausible account. Anybody can do it. Habermas tries to say that a supernatural resurrection is the most plausible explanation but there are plenty of far more plausible explanations than he considered.

        • SteveK

          Define “more plausible”.

        • Greg G.

          Easier to believe. It’s more plausible that I have one sister than that my parents had 763 daughters. It’s more plausible that I have a pet dog than a pet hippopotamus. It’s more plausible that my house creaks due to expansion caused by changing temperatures than it is that my house is haunted.

          Accounts that involve common experiences are more plausible than accounts contrived from impossibilities or imaginary elements.

        • SteveK

          I agree with everything you said.

        • Pofarmer

          You have a pet hippopotamus? That’s cool!

        • MNb

          Yes. I said biologists didn’t offer anything beyond what might have happened with my flowers growing. That’s how they explain the data they accepted as a premise. Indeed, if those are reasons for defeating my fairy hypothesis then anyone can do it.

          “reasons for defeating data”
          The Resurrection is not an empirical fact. Its historicity is a hypothesis – a supernatural one – describing the fact that a few Antique authors wrote about it.
          If you are going to prove the historicity of the Resurrection by assuming that it’s an empirical fact you’re providing a circular argument.

        • SteveK

          >> Yes. I said biologists didn’t offer anything beyond what might have happened with my flowers growing.

          Then both sides have offered nothing for me to work with. *shrug*

        • MNb

          Which is why David Hume stated that we should prefer methodological naturalism to supernatural explanations. Hence we should reject the Resurrection as a historical fact. Then we actually do have something to work with. The same for the biological theory regarding my blossoming flowers.

        • SteveK

          >> Which is why David Hume stated that we should prefer methodological naturalism to supernatural explanations.

          I prefer MN too, when it should be applied. You can’t apply MN to everything though. Hume’s claim is one of those things that MN can’t do anything with.

        • Pofarmer

          Why can’t you apply MN to supernatural claims?

        • SteveK

          By design MN only applies to physical objects and predictable, regular cause/effect relationships. MN doesn’t do very well with non-regular, non-normal infrequent outlier data points so it dismisses them as either errors or it invents some reason why they should not be counted. Why? If you don’t do that then you can’t develop a mathematical formula that *insists* it can explain everything in mechanistic terms.

        • MNb

          The story about the Resurrection belongs to nature. Hence MN applies.
          You’re correct that MN doesn’t disprove supernatural explanations. That means though the burden is on you to develop an alternate methodology that makes out which supernatural explanations are correct and which ones aren’t. Thus far you have totally not done so. Hence we are justified to reject your supernatural explanation of the Resurrection story just like any other supernatural explanation.

        • SteveK

          >> Thus far you have totally not done so.

          The explanations have been around for centuries. I suggest a visit to the library – something from Aristotle and Aquinas might help.

        • SteveK

          Also, by design, it cannot do anything with teleological causes that come prior to efficient causes. MN cannot detect the intent to make a car because intent isn’t a physical thing that can be seen. It can only detect the making of the car itself.

        • MNb

          Correct. I reject teleology for this reason. Another reason is that teleology invariably leads to special pleading – the desired conclusion is established a priori.

        • SteveK

          If your intention to go to work at 8am doesn’t result in you going to work at 8am, then what does?

        • MNb

          Lame example. It’s the other way round. I make sure I leave home in time so that I arrive in time. That doesn’t guarantee in any way that I’ll do. Unknown factors may prevent me – like an accident underway.
          So me going to work at 8am (actually it’s 7:30, but whatever) is caused by me having a job (ie having signed a contract etc.) and leaving in time, as long as other factors aren’t in play. Like said accident or me suddenly deciding to quit the job or suddenly getting the urge to visit the toilet (that actually happened a few times).
          So it’s me manipulating the causes to get the desired effect. I’m not as good at it as I’d like to be, so despite my intention I arrive a few minutes late more often than I’d like to.
          It’s all perfectly describable in terms of causality – or even better, probability.

          Everything described in teleological terms can be described in causal and probabilistic terms. At the other hand Aristotelean mechanics based on teleology have failed and been dismissed long ago.

        • SteveK

          >> Everything described in teleological terms can be described in causal and probabilistic terms.

          A teleological cause is a cause nonetheless so in some sense I agree with you here.

        • MNb

          We can perfectly apply MN to the story of the Resurrection. BobS exactly dit that in his article.

  • Brian Westley

    I find it hard enough to explain to people that when Corinthians says that over 500 people saw Jesus after his resurrection, what you have is ONE purported claim, not 500 claims.

    • wtfwjtd

      Yes, 1 claim *about* 500 other claims, so even the 1 claim is hearsay.

      • Pofarmer

        It would be more believable if we had some sort of record from one of the 500 maybe, or somebody that knew one of the 500.

        • Greg G.

          Pssst. I’m outta popcorn. Do you have any to spare? You were right. This got good.

        • Pofarmer

          It had potential. It’s too bad Jenna Black doesn’t actually know something. Do you think she will look?

        • Greg G.

          I think she expects the Holy Ghost to give her the words to convert us all.

        • Pofarmer

          I think some actual, ya know, like facts, might be more appropriate. She seems bright, but is simply so miss educated. The problem is, most of these folks don’t actually know about 1/4 of what they think they know. Most of what they know is actually completely wrong. That’s why I tend to know more about the bible than most other folks that my kids come into contact with.

        • MNb

          Yeah, but why should they try to learn more? They already know the Truth. On a more intellectual level we have seen exactly the same in the Craig/Carroll debate. Think about how arrogant it is for a philosopher of religion to contradict an experienced and highly educated cosmologist on his own field. If Carroll would come along here and write “Pofarmer, here you are simply wrong on physics”, would you dare to contradict him? Not me.
          Where does that arrogance come from?
          Again: they know the Truth.

        • Pofarmer

          The thing that’s frustrating about Craig, is that he will use arguments that have already been refuted continuously. At least one author has told him to cease using his paper because it doesn’t support his conclusions about it and ue continues to use it. The guy is dishonest.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          miss educated.

          She could learn a lot from you.

        • Pofarmer

          Don’t be a pedant.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          Ordinarily I wouldn’t care. But if you’re mocking someone’s poor education, you’re fair game.

        • Pofarmer

          Funny thing is, I think it even ran through spell check on my desktop. After the changes my ipad hates disqus, and I’m lucky to comment at all.

        • MNb

          This time you’re the one who formulates it more concise.

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

          She’s enthusiastic for the subject and has a pleasant demeanor (we can think of other Christians who were only determined to spread hostility). I hope she continues to participate, but I agree that she seems to be banging up against the walls of her knowledge and worldview.

        • Kodie

          A couple hours ago, I briefly saw a post where she announced she was leaving in a snit because people were talking about her like she wasn’t here, and that she had come from some blog where you recently invited the blogger to debate with you or send someone, and she says he sent her (I found a blog where you and she posted in the same comments on Thinking Christian).

          I tried to respond but the post was “not active” and wasn’t there, nor did it show up in my email alerts. I don’t think she was all that pleasant – no matter how polite a person’s manner is, evasion is not being cooperative or pleasant, nor is making demands and expectations of the topic after it’s been posted and discussed, or being a tone troll.

          The problem is the post no longer seems to exist, but she took great offense at being talked about, while for almost a whole day, many people responded directly to her, tried to engage her and her claims, and she did not make relevant responses. We are sure to get criticism for not accommodating her royal sensitive highness, scaring her off and being too mean to make meaningful discourse. I think the questions got too hot for her and she didn’t feel like answering any of them; meanwhile it’s all our faults for not communicating with her in her comfort zone.

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

          Weird. I did have a conversation that fits that description at the link below. Take a look if you’re curious how that went. I didn’t make the connection. Now that you mention it, Jenna was commenting there.

          I like having Christians here. I get plenty of correction from atheists, but I get a different (and useful) kind from Christians. I won’t suffer fools lightly, but I do hope that ones who can take the heat continue to come by.

          http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/03/true-reason-extraordinary-story

        • Kodie

          That was the one. Unless she uses another name, she doesn’t seem to have a web presence*. The disqus account here is guest (gray letters) but the missing post was logged in because I assume she planned to delete it? That makes no sense. I wish I had thought to take a screen shot but sometimes I forget you can do that.

          *There is an occult-ish author by the same name, however, it would be weird if that were also her.

          Maybe it was a trap to see who would believe my crazy story of the woman who left in a snit because people weren’t easy on her.

          I think back to my earliest encounters with Norm and it was so hard to just engage him. It was as if he expected a discussion to be sort of more like sharing. He’s a Christian, he has a Christian viewpoint, so, ok. No arguments, just reminding us what a Christian says. He gets a lot more of the back-and-forth now, a lot more mocking, but still doesn’t get that he is expected to provide support for his claims. Is this a trend? Is this a new tactic or something they justify because they haven’t been able to convince anyone before so whatever they said is just wasted. It goes both ways. What kind of discussion does a Christian want when they come to an atheist blog if they aren’t going to answer questions and refuse to provide evidence of any kind? I don’t get it.

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

          Jenna was a lot easier to take than Norm or Wlad or TheRealRandomFunction.

          My guess is that she’s pretty comfortable in her small pond with like-minded fish and wants to check out different territory to see if she’s as capable as she thinks she is.

          Perhaps she thinks that she’s being quite reasonable.

        • MNb

          Oh yes, they totally think they’re reasonable. Because they know the Truth.
          There is also the hope to convince/convert someone; that must please their self-image very much.

        • MNb

          “the missing post was logged in”
          Well, I noticed too that she always posted like a guest and I noticed an exception, so you have a witness.

          ” it was so hard to just engage him”
          That’s because you’re not a barbaric Dutchie like me.

          “Is this a trend?”
          Yes.

          “Is this a new tactic”
          No. In my experience (about six years) christians like Norm can’t do any better. They run out of arguments quickly, but can’t afford emotionally to admit they’re wrong or their lack of knowledge and understanding.

          “don’t get it”
          That’s because you don’t take into account how far self-delusion can go (I know from my own experience, blush). Starting point: Norm knows the Truth. Hence he can’t be wrong. So he comes here in full expectation that we ignorants (that’s what he calls me; to me it’s not an insult but a joke) will drool from admiration when confronted with his excellent and thorough arguments. Moreover he’s on a mission for god, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What can go wrong?
          Now imagine his disappointment when things go completely different. Of course he’s not to blame – because he still knows the Truth. Hence he has only two options left: quit (which is the easiest form of admitting defeat, but still painful) or go snarky (which backfires too).
          If he weren’t such a bigot I would pity him.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, on a different forum he would leave in a snit with “don’t throw pearls before swine”

        • wtfwjtd

          Jenna’s assertions about the subject in discussion–in my case, the origins of the gospels– were really showing his/her rather limited knowledge after only a few posts. However, Jenna also claimed to be both a Christian and an atheist in the same discussion, which left me wondering if he/she was capable of conducting a coherent discussion at all.

          I have seen this kind of displayed confusion in the past, when people are pushed out of their comfort zone. I know that for a lot of my past fundie friends that many of the discussions here would be rather intimidating, and very discomfiting.
          I try to engage with this in mind, and I’m always looking for different and possibly more effective approaches to the subject of apologetics. Probably a fool’s errand, but for some reason I do enjoy the challenge.

        • hector

          I don’t think Jenna was claiming to be an atheist. I think she was trying to avoid the burden of proof by asserting a distinction between ‘claiming’ something is true and ‘believing’ something is true, whereby only a person who claims something has a burden of proof, but a person who believes something has no burden of proof whatsoever.

          Her position seemed to be that only an eyewitness ‘claims’ something is true, whereas everyone else can only ‘believe’ it is true. Hence no modern day christian ever has a burden of proof in arguments about christianity. Which is an odd argument considering how in this very same thread she used the standard christian terms ‘witness’ (vb) and ‘testimony’ to describe her own opinions about christianity.

        • wtfwjtd

          Thanks for the clarification Hector, I believe you are correct. My confusion on this resulted from my mis-reading a Discus post header. The way Discus presents thread replies can get a little confusing at times, especially when there is a long list of comments to sort through in a short amount of time.

        • hector

          You may be interested and amused to know that just before I signed off last night I noticed that Jenna had posted one last comment. It was a classic ‘good bye cruel world’ comment in which she basically said she had come here to discuss the issues and see what Bob had to say and was ‘very disappointed’ with the results. i.e. she wins the argument because we were all so mean to her.

          To her credit, she seems to have deleted the post after her fit of pique wore off, because it disappeared as I was trying to post a reply to it. She hasn’t posted anything since.

        • Kodie

          To her “credit,” you mean premeditated. She logged in rather than post as guest like she did with all her other posts. As I understand it, you can’t edit or delete your posts unless you have an account and are logged into it when you posted.

        • hector

          You think she posted the comment intending to delete it all along? That’s possible but I don’t see much point in that. It seemed to me more like a comment posted in a fit of pique, then deleted when she had a moment to contemplate the utterly vapidity and childishness of it.

          Then again she believes and says a lot of things that don’t have much point so you could be correct, Kodie.

          You are right that guest posts can’t be deleted. I am posting that way out of laziness. I suppose I should get around to digging up my old Disqus account or making a new one.

        • Kodie

          I can’t pretend to know why she did it, but it is a little suspect that all day she would not log in (or maybe did not have an account?) and then choose to send a petty message that was quickly deleted while logged in. Like the resurrection, there are a few plausible explanations, not all of which attribute the choice to log in to deviousness or premeditated assholery or whatever we’re calling it.

        • wtfwjtd

          Thanks ab, I thought I noticed something like that and then it had disappeared. Poor Jenna, I guess she got her nose bloodied by us filthy atheists playing a little too rough in the sandbox.

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

          I saw her comment at Thinking Christian after she left here. She complimented that blog host for encouraging a civil discussion. I guess that means that, by contrast, she didn’t find that here. Oh well.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, I visited that blog link you posted. Apparently they only discuss issues on which there is more or less complete agreement, and I saw very little in the way of critical thinking or actual in-depth analysis going on. They have obviously never educated themselves on Pastafarianism, but considered themselves experts on the subject nonetheless. I was definitely not impressed.

        • Kodie

          So Pastafarianism is idolatry now? Who takes it seriously? They seem to think atheists invented it to have something to worship in place of god who is real because we deny god then we must transfer our allegiance to something man-made. I had no idea.

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

          That does bring up a useful tangent, the question of how we can honestly engage with Christians but in a way that doesn’t push them away.

          A Christian who’s insecure in their beliefs wouldn’t want to hang out here. Can’t be all things to all people, I guess.

        • wtfwjtd

          I think you’ve touched on an important point there Bob. Speaking as a de-converted Christian, there are some things that you have to be fundamentally dishonest with yourself about to believe what you believe, and as a believer it’s very hard to see this.
          The closest analogy I can come up with is one of those home improvement shows, where the experts come and do an appraisal. The appraisal is always way lower than what the owner is expecting, as the owner is usually blind to the flaws in the house that lower its value–sometimes it’s really low, the damage is extensive, and the owner can’t see it. What’s glaringly obvious to an outside observer is astonishingly out-of-sight to the owner. We see a lot of that here; my goal is to try and provide a helpful path to eventually see it.

          I understand that can be a tall hurdle to get over, so I try and be as patient as possible. Like you said, it’s not always easy.

        • Kodie

          It might not be obvious to the individual believer, but it is obvious right from the bible and most apologetics that they don’t really expect a common rational person to believe such an unbelievable story. It is outlandish on purpose, and it is meant to divide people between the faithful and the skeptical onlooker. Some believers even try to act skeptical and go for the scholarly or historical fortifications or even pseudoscientific or philosophical. It doesn’t match reality on the face of it, we can’t know without god blessing us, so they can try to elevate it to an academic subject or approach people who are “too intellectual” to submit to a fantasy. They heave a lot of bad logic and philosophy terms at it, which may convince some but it’s not substantial. It’s clear to me, maybe since I’ve never been a Christian, that it is not meant to be believed. It’s incredulity is meant to be an obstacle to faith that only a special faithful person can overcome by suppressing their ordinary skeptical requirements such that they have for competing religious claims.

        • wtfwjtd

          There is a lot to what you say Kodie, Jesus himself said that “I do not come to bring peace…but a sword”. I think that’s part of the cleverness of the story, as you mentioned; the doubt is anticipated, and there is an attempt in the text itself to deal with it preemptively.
          I don’t know if I would say “it is not meant to be believed”, my take would be more like “it’s meant to be believed…with a truckload of salt”, which, I guess when one thinks about it, is more or less saying the same thing.

        • hector

          I’m starting to think that Pascal’s wager plays more of a role in religious belief than I used to think. Religion is meant to be believed with a truckload of ‘you’ve got so much to gain (eternity in heaven) and so much to lose (the void, hell)’.

          I think Bob talked about this in one of his posts, that religions like christianity are very good at this because they offer you something amazing that can never be refuted, i.e. life after death vs eternal hellfire. Atheism can’t really compete with that.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, I’ve heard Pascal’s wager from my fundie friends many times, but like many other things religious they don’t think it through. I mean, ok, so you decide there is a god. How do you know it’s the Christian God? Once you decide that, how do you pick from between the thousands of variations of Christianity and know that you’ve picked the correct one? And so on.
          Like you said, it is hard to compete with the whole after-life thing. I mean, who wouldn’t like to believe that they’ll one day see a loved one they have lost? It’s a great story, and a nice thing to imagine; problem is, of course, there has never been a shred of evidence whatever to support any of those after-life claims. It’s those darned atheists again, throwing a bucket of cold-water reality on my nice religious after-life fantasy. So, the believer tells themselves they are right, because, darn it….they *have* to be right, evidence or not, and that’s all there is to it. Definitely hard a hard thing to argue with, that.

        • hector

          I should clarify and say I don’t think Pascal’s Wager convinces people to sign up for christianity as much as it convinces doubters to override their critical thinking skills and stay on board. The signing up part is predominantly forced onto believers as children.

          There might also be the ‘sunk costs’ fallacy working in the minds of many doubters, i.e. you’ve believed this long and committed yourself this far, you would be throwing that all away if you left the faith, even though you have doubts about so much of it, even its core promises.

          I think you and I are agreed on the weakness of Pascal’s wager.

        • asdf

          I should clarify and say I don’t think Pascal’s Wager convinces people to sign up for christianity as much as it convinces doubters to override their critical thinking skills and stay on board.

          I think this is exactly right. The wager seems pretty ridiculous to outsiders. In addition to wtfwjtd’s point (the wager only gets you to believe in A god, not a Particular god), it assumes an all-powerful god can’t tell that you’re just hedging your bets. It’s silly.

          If, however, you already more or less believe, and things are going more or less OK, it might convince you it’s not worth it to delve deeper. What do you have to lose by keeping your faith? Not much. What do you have to lose by giving it up? Everything.

        • Kodie

          The way I have always seen it, it is meant to hook people by appealing to their egos. You don’t want to be left behind, do you? You don’t want to be one of those doubters, right? Psalm 53. Join the good guys and be favored by god. Atheists are blecch! God hates ’em!

          Liar, lunatic, or lord. Similar arguments to the effect that it’s so unbelievable, it has to be true. People who do believe it do not entertain the idea that they could be mistaken or gullible. They are discouraged from asking too many obvious questions about the man behind the curtain, you know, for your own safety. If you begin to doubt, you will pick at the cracks until they widen and fall wide open and you fall through, and then you won’t be saved, and that would be awful. It’s as if you can find out it isn’t real while it is still frighteningly real, and you’ll be fucked. If the thought of being in hell isn’t bad enough, your community will disassociate with you and you’ll have no friends. But what is the danger of finding out this is all built of thin air? You won’t be saved from…? Meaninglessness.

          Think about it – if they had a solid story going on, there would be no danger and no need to threaten people with shunning to really make the point. Apologetics, before I forget, is the art and style of creating satisfying bullshit answers to appease doubters. And you know what it’s about? Money. If you lose people, they won’t tithe. They won’t bring their children to church and raise them in the faith so they won’t tithe either. Give them a mission to fulfill like “win souls”. It practically sounds like a sales competition. Bring us the most of your friends and we’ll seat you at the front next month.

          If the reality of god were obvious, he wouldn’t need people to point it out to others, and politicize it in their communities, and pit believers against non-believers. All conversion is is a parlor trick to teach your friend to prove it to themselves. They can’t prove it for you, they have to convince you to trick yourself into believing through some demonstration that leads a person to confirmation bias. People like “signs”, “show me a sign that you’re there, that you heard me, that I matter.” Poof! No more coincidences.

        • wtfwjtd

          Believe me, it’s hard to resist, especially when you’re a kid and everyone around you is drinking the Kool-aid. As for money? Yeah, you got that one right, I think Americans spend $150 billion a year on religion, and what do they get for it? If we are feeling generous, maybe 10 percent goes to worthwhile charities, like food pantries, etc. The rest? Who knows? Probably most of it is just wasted on propping up religion for the next generation, and lining more than a few pockets.
          Like Bob has said, if religion had good evidence for their god they’d be celebrating that. Since they don’t, faith is all they got–so make the false dilemma–the liar, lunatic, or lord thing, and put on the pressure. That’s pretty effective on indoctrinated children, but on free-thinking adults, not so much. So ramp up the shunning, it’s all we got left. I’m just not impressed any more.

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

          Last time I checked, it was more like $100 billion donated by Americans to religion.

          And you may be generous with the 10% to good works. (We don’t know, because the books are kept secret, for some reason. God gets to see them, but the taxpayers providing the tax subsidy don’t? Weird.)

          There may be country clubs that give more to charity. First, let’s get the books opened (like all the other nonprofits–go to Charity Navigator to see); next, reconsider churches’ tax-exempt status.

        • Kodie

          When I was a kid, I had a Catholic friend. It hardly came up, but in school then, we had Good Friday off, and she took me and another friend (raised Buddhist?) to the top of the highest hill in our development so we could be closer to god. Stupid stuff like that seemed kind of neat at the time to me. My Buddhist friend had a Buddha charm on her necklace that she was really superstitious of losing (or get in trouble because her mom was really harsh). My younger sister made friends with the oldest daughter of a new young fundie couple that moved in across the street. Until then, I would say most of our neighbors were Catholic. At some point, a child’s book of scriptures found its way into our house, and I thought that was kind of nifty and I tried to be pious and memorize them. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. My mom was nice to the couple, they came over a few times, not proselytizing or nothin’ as far as I could tell. I knew my parents hated bible-thumpers and I knew that’s what they were. Some time after that, I saw a movie on HBO with some girl my age who wanted to be a nun, so I wanted to be a nun. I have no fucking idea. It was my favorite movie, I watched it about 6 times that month, and then I was over it. I was drawn to mystic elements, not having been properly exposed.

          And yet, there wasn’t a whole lot that could get me to commit on a serious level. I have a feeling I would reject the serious nonsense if I had heard it. I made an irreverent joke at the party after my cousins’ baptism. I couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10. Church was boring. I was very curious about it, since all my friends were Catholic, until I actually had to sit through it. And this was before I wanted to be a nun. Not making connections. Even much later, I did get clued into what it was really about, and that’s when I consciously rejected it. The decorations are cool. The concept of devoting your life to something meaningful still resonates, although I no longer think that quest can be fulfilled by being a nun.

        • wtfwjtd

          To children, especially properly indoctrinated children, the supernatural seems like a plausible idea. Adults accept it, so it must be real, right?
          Yes, bible-thumpers and Catholics can sometimes be a rather sticky mix. My mom even just recently asked if Catholicism was considered Christianity, to give you an idea of the disconnect that can go on within Protestantism.
          I think the nun or priest or whatever idea is appealing to a lot of kids at some point. That is, until like you, you make the connections, and then, not so much.
          Once I finally shed my god belief, it did feel strange, and still does feel strange at times. But I had and have no difficulty finding meaning and purpose for my life, and to be free of all the bullshit baggage of religion is to be free indeed.

        • hector

          It’s a lot like Dawkins’ concept of ‘climbing Mt Improbable’. Dawkins uses that concept as an analogy for how evolution can gradually and naturally lead to what seems improbable. But I think the concept can also apply to how people end up believing things that are utterly absurd, i.e. one small step at a time.

          We start out life with minds well-adapted to absorbing and believing whatever information our parents shovel into them. Christian parents tell their children there is a God and a Jesus who loves them, there is a Heaven and a Hell, etc. These beliefs are already firmly implanted long before the child is capable of developing sophisticated thinking skills.

          As a result many believers never develop critical thinking skills at all, or only minimally, as we saw with Jenna. I don’t know whether we can characterize such people as even realizing that their positions are weak. Jenna seemed to think they were so strong that she was utterly amazed that anyone could disagree with her after hearing her ‘testimony’.

        • wtfwjtd

          Good points hector. I think in many cases they do develop critical thinking skills, but they are taught not to apply them to their faith. I think this is why she seemed utterly amazed and blindsided by the fact that the gospel stories were written anonymously 40-80 years after the fact; how could this be? When it comes to light that the cherished text might not be what it’s purported to be, this is no doubt cause of confusion and hesitation.We can only hope that the occasional seed of doubt is planted, and that people who are passionate enough to really want to know will do their own investigations.

        • hector

          I agree that many, probably most, believers do indeed develop critical thinking skills to some degree or another. The ones who develop them to the higher levels either abandon religion or become professional apologists. As powerful as critical thinking is, for many people it can never trump the promise of life after death.

        • Kodie

          I wonder what would happen if a fundamental piece of early childhood was learning logical fallacies and how to watch out for them. I never was exposed to them until I got on the internet. I don’t think I ever heard of a single one before. Bad arguments are just persuasive illusions of good arguments. They sell everything to everyone. I think people know what they are anyway. This is hard to express. People find an argument good enough to pass along and use it because they think it’s a good reason, but the same people can and do use fallacies to cheat and lie and manipulate. If it’s such a bad argument, I wouldn’t believe it myself; on the other hand, here comes an easy mark, and I know just what to say to get his money.

          I was in sales a while ago, and I kind of lost my job then because I sucked at it. My manager told me stuff and I repeated it to the customers, because I cannot lie on my feet or persuade anyone to spend so much money on utter junk, he sold me. He sold the goods to me so I could be convincing and made me a liar, and I believed him because he was the manager and a damn good salesman. Commission sales is rough and I didn’t understand it either, but if I made a sale, I always made the upsell. In all the years since, I have never bought furniture from a retailer.

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

          I just saw the movie “Pandora’s Promise,” about nuclear power. It opened with a handful of former anti-nuclear activists who had come to realize that nuclear power’s benefits exceeded the harms/risks.

          What was amazing was hearing these dedicated (not mere hobbyist) anti-nuclear activists expressing their amazement when hearing how few people actually died at Chernobyl, how the amount of nuclear waste in the U.S. isn’t really all that big in volume, and so on.

          (Huh? How little had you guys actually researched this issue before you picked a side??)

        • wtfwjtd

          Wow, there’s so much wrong with that, it’s hard to know where to begin. Fact-free rationalization is a scary thing!

        • wtfwjtd

          I noticed it really seemed to push her buttons when you started throwing in a few colorful metaphors in your posts. I can certainly understand your frustration–I was very close to doing the same thing there towards the last. I have to wonder though–was this real offense on her part, or was it just a convenient excuse to bow out of a discussion in which she wasn’t making any headway? In this case, I’m not sure which it is.

        • Kodie

          Some Christians have a principle not to talk to people who use cursewords. I don’t really care to accommodate that fragility. If that’s all it takes to bounce an irritant, I don’t think it matters too much overall. But I think she did get in over her head besides. She had a strong tone, and it’s hard for me to express this the way I want to, but some Christians develop this “strong talk” they think is the same as knowing what they’re talking about.

          Atheists I’ve noticed tend to have high standards for debate and low amounts of patience. I don’t mean a lot of rudeness, I mean, getting to the point right away and expecting progress and less extraneous flowery tentative language. Christians seem to want to dip their toe in very slowly and take ages to get to the point, or they do try to dive in right away with this “strong talk” that emulates an atheist directness and even snarkiness and haughtiness, but doesn’t disguise very well that they are saying nothing. They read a little on their own and suddenly feel equipped to enter a conversation with adversaries with extreme confidence. We’re all adults, let’s talk like we’ve all read a book, etc. To me, it is kind of like playing dress-up, feeling mature because you’ve graduated to middle school. A classic scene from The Brady Bunch when Marcia goes to high school and trying to pass as “mature” by throwing around a lot of vocabulary when Greg introduces her to his friends. They just think she’s being weird. I can’t find the clip. :(

          I also try to understand that this tone is convincing to a lot of people. Because religion is a good deal of marketing, the sense is to target vulnerable marks and feel like a champ, and then move on, thinking you’ve got swagger, to the tough crowd. It’s confusing to the pawns who think they have a convincing argument to meet someone who has heard all those before and was not moved, or even people who have recovered from belief. It is not my goal to chase off Christians, but if they are intent on wasting everyone’s time and don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing, at some point, I can’t hold back from calling them on it. After she was asked by several people why she can dismiss Ehrman, I think she cut bait. She’s really smart and well-read, and doesn’t want to waste her time on idiots like us. Notice I don’t go to Christian blogs and try to get anywhere.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Some Christians have a principle not to talk to people who use cursewords. I don’t really care to accommodate that fragility.”

          In my experience, this is part of the bubble that a lot of fundies live in. I could write paragraphs on the hypocrisy of this, but I’ll demur. I try to accommodate when I’m able, but I admit, I also (eventually) have a breaking point.

          “But I think she did get in over her head besides. She had a strong tone, and it’s hard for me to express this the way I want to, but some Christians develop this “strong talk” they think is the same as knowing what they’re talking about.”

          No explanation required, I understand your point perfectly. My way of putting would be that many times they think that pretending to be authoritative is the same thing as being authoritative; when cross-examined, this of course quickly breaks down. And results in the leaving in a snit that we so often see. Oh yes, she was definitely in over her head, no doubt about that.

          “After she was asked by several people why she can dismiss Ehrman, I think she cut bait.”

          Yes, that seemed to be her breaking point. Only a few minutes before I had directed her to a Wikipedia article, only to be informed that “nobody thinks those are scholarly”. Then she casually dismissed Ehrman, without explanation, and I admit I did pile on that one a little in a snarky way and probably shouldn’t have. But geez, enough is enough, like you said.

          I like your point about swagger and the tough crowd; nothing like whipping a few lightweights to bolster your (false) sense of confidence!
          Only problem is, when you hit the tough crowd, they aren’t swayed by your emotional arguments or bullying, and (gasp) demand deeper arguments and, you know, *evidence*. Since Christianity has none to give, it kinda leaves them stuck. I know that frustrating feeling, I was there for a good part of my life. So I can see it from both sides, and hope to one day be able to use that experience to help make some more convincing arguments. It’s generally an exercise in frustration I know, but one can always hope!

        • Rick

          I’m sure glad atheists don’t ever talk tough and get in over their heads.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, atheists have this annoying habit of asking for… I dunno, evidence.

        • Kodie

          The trouble is how often Christians come here with nothing to say but still keep talking. In good faith, we try to get them to talk it out, but they are dishonest and change the subject instead. So, for an atheist, “over one’s head” tends to involve wasting too much time asking direct questions trying to get answers from someone who claims to have them but offers no arguments to support their claims. Oh, read this author or that book or check out this website – not an answer. If you can’t talk about things you read, then you don’t really understand them, and nobody should do what you suggest. It almost seems like the tactic is “try an atheist’s patience” to prove how evil we are and then scurry back home.

        • Ron

          “Some Christians have a principle not to talk to people who use cursewords.”

          Yeah? Well, isn’t that just too bad. Those pious little faithers can go faith right off and faith themselves.

    • SparklingMoon-

      Corinthians says that over 500 people saw Jesus after his resurrection,
      ————————————————————————-
      It was a claim of Paul only that Jesus was seen by 500 people after his resurrection, but no body else had described it in New Testament. According to the all descriptions of the Gospels, Jesus had met after cross but only his disciples and with a great secret. if for example (according to the sayings of St Paul) rising from dead really happened and the decree of God had descended upon jesus, and he had, after suffering death, come to life again, assuming a spiritual and a glorious body, what fear did he now have of the Jews — surely the Jews now had no power over him; he was now beyond and above mortal existence? One observes with regret that while, on the one hand, it is said that he was made to live again and assume a spiritual body, that he met the disciples and went to Galilee and thence went to heaven, he is nevertheless afraid of the Jews for quite trivial things and, in spite of his glorious body, he fled secretly from the country, lest the Jews discover him; he made a journey of seventy miles to Galilee in order to save his life and time and again asked the people not to mention this to others. Are these the signs and ways of a glorious body? No, the truth is that it was not a new and a glorious body — it was the same body, with wounds on it, which had been saved from death; and, as there was still the fear of the Jews, Jesus, making use of all precautions, left the land.

      Secondly,Paul called himself an Apostle of Jesus but there is a Question that if Paul was indeed meant to appear as an Apostle after the Messiah, the latter should have foretold something about him. This was necessary because Paul had bitterly opposed Jesus as throughout his life, and had contrived to harm him in every way.How could such a person be trusted after Jesus’ death, unless he himself made a clear prophecy that, although Paul has been my bitter enemy and has done me great harm, he will become an Apostle and a holy man after I am gone. This was all the more important because Paul gave a teaching that was against the Torah, and declared eating the flesh of swine to be lawful, and even abolished the Divine commandment regarding circumcision, although it had been greatly stressed in the Torah and all Prophets—including the Messiah himself — had been circumcised.He also replaced the teachings of the Torah regarding the Oneness of God with the teaching of the Trinity,and declared it unnecessary to follow the commandments of the Torah, and turned away fromthe Holy Temple. It was, therefore, essential that some prophecy should have been made regarding this person who played such havoc with the Mosaic Law. But in the absence of any such prophecy in the Gospel, and in view of his hostility towards Jesus(as) and his opposition to the timeless commandments of the Torah, is there any reason at all why he should be accepted as a sage?(Fountain of Christianity)

    • moon_bucket

      And Paul himself wasn’t there.

    • Nemo

      This comes from a Muslim apologetic website, so I hate using it, but oh well.
      “Will the 500 witnesses please stand up?”

  • randomfactor

    If the snake oil didn’t work, then why would the salesman say it does?

  • J.T

    Despite what they claim, it’s pretty easy to explain the events surrounding Jesus’ death. Christians like to say Jesus’ tomb was empty. First, according to the Gospels Jesus’ followers scattered after his arrest. Given the confusion, a group of his followers could have easily mistaken where he was laid to rest and visited the wrong tomb. Finding it empty, they begin to wonder what could have happened. One of them is so distraught that they have a hallucination of ‘angels’ declaring that Jesus has come back from the dead. Events spiral from there. Word spreads among the others that ‘his’ tomb is empty and that angels have said he’s risen from the dead. Those who might’ve known the real location of his body are caught up in the hysteria, and believe they must’ve been ‘mistaken’ or their own memory is muddled by their euphoria that their ‘master’ is actually alive.

    This inspires further hallucinations and visions, and rumors of his appearances are thrown around and quickly evolve to have a life of their own. By the time things begin to calm down, you have a small core of followers who’ve had hallucinations of Jesus’ return who’ve convinced themselves that what they’ve seen is real, and anyone who might say anything against it is either dismissed as a non-believer or they keep it to themselves. No ‘supernatural intervention’ required

    • Kingasaurus

      That’s one of many possibilities more plausible than a miracle (isn’t everything?), and you’re being as charitable as possible by allowing the empty tomb to be an historical event for the sake of argument.

      —“Given the confusion, a group of his followers could have easily mistaken
      where he was laid to rest and visited the wrong tomb. Finding it empty,
      they begin to wonder what could have happened”—

      My favorite alternative I think was invented by Bart Ehrman. Two of Jesus’ extended family and/or minor groupies don’t like where he’s been entombed, and want to re-inter him someplace else. So they steal the body in the middle of the night and start clandestinely carrying it through the streets. They get stopped by Roman soldiers who want to question what they’re doing, but they resist and are killed. Now these Roman soldiers have three dead bodies, and no idea who they are or where they came from. So they throw the three bodies in a common grave pit, never to been heard from again.

      As a result, you get an empty tomb (correctly noticed by followers of Jesus) without a resurrection, and no living human has any idea what happened or where the body is.

      Subsequent events may proceed as you have already described.

      Clever and unlikely, but still WAY more likely than an actual miracle.

      • Asemodeus

        The resurrection myth fails on basic motivations. Basically around the delusion that the romans would bother entombing and setting guard over a dead body, that from their perspective, was just a rabble rouser. It would be like killing some random terrorist, bringing him back to the states, and entombing him in Arlington cemetery and setting a guard. Why would we ever ever do that?

        If the romans were worried that someone would steal the body, then there are literally hundreds of ways of destroying the corpse so any followers cannot use it as a prop. You can burn it, mass grave, throwing it into the sea, feeding it to dogs, carrion birds, pulverizing it, hack into pieces, and so forth.

        • Kingasaurus

          In my view, the “Romans being worried” idea comes later. If he was a real guy and was executed, all this stuff about tombs and guards and other such things wouldn’t have been part of it at the beginning – assuming there was a historical beginning to the story in the first place.

    • SparklingMoon-

      Word spreads among the others that ‘his’ tomb is empty and that angels have said he’s risen from the dead.
      ——————————————————————-
      This word ‘risen’ was used by Jesus himself for his survival from Cross and his followers also had used them in their sayings in Gospels in the same meanings but it had been misused afterward in the time of Paul by human explanations to turn the person of Jesus into a supernatural hero of Roman stories. There is the statement of Jesus: ‘But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee’ (Matthew26:32). This verse clearly shows that Jesus, after he had come out of the tomb, went to Galilee and not to heaven. Jesus’ words ‘After I am risen’ do not mean his rising up alive after he was dead; rather, as in the eyes of the Jews and the common people he had died on the Cross, he used words beforehand consistent with what they were to think of him in the future, and indeed, the man who was placed on the Cross, in whose hands and feet nails had been driven till he had fainted from pain, had become as good as dead; if such a man was saved from such a calamity and if he recovered his senses it would not be an exaggeration on his part to say that he had come to life again. There is no doubt that after so much suffering, Jesus’ escape from death was a miracle; it was no ordinary event. it is not against usages of speech to describe the great calamity which had befallen Jesus as death. When a man, having passed through a life and death experience, is ultimately saved from it, the common speech of all peoples expresses the idea by the idiomatic expression — ‘he was given a new life’, and no people to whatever country they may belong would demur at expressing that idea in this way.

      The gospel of St. Mark says that after coming out of the tomb he was seen going on the road to Galilee, and ultimately he met the eleven disciples when they were at their meal; he showed them his hands and feet which were wounded and they thought that he was perhaps a spirit. Then he said to them: ”Behold my hands and my feet, that it is myself; handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39) He took from them boiled fish and a piece of honeycomb and ate them in their presence . (Luke 24:42, 43) These verses show that it is certain that Jesus never went to heaven; rather, coming out of the tomb, he went to Galilee; — like an ordinary man, in normal clothes, with a human body. If he had been resurrected after death, how was it that this body of spirit could still have borne the wounds inflicted upon him on the Cross? What need had he to eat? And if he required food then, he must be in need of food even now. (Jesus in India)

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

      I like your argument. For my own taste, however, I think you give the Christian too much.

      Why give them any of the gospel story as actual history? From my standpoint, all of it is suspect. If the supernatural elements are suspect (the story is translated through a Greek lens, with all its supernatural baggage), then surely the mundane elements are suspect as well.

      • J.T

        A case can certainly be made for that point of view. However, I usually like giving Christians a little leeway just to show them how hopeless their case is. Even if we assume the gospel narratives speak of some historical events such as the bare bones of Jesus ministry, there is no reason to conclude that something supernatural was involved when there are far more likely explanations.

        Especially when there are so many real world parallels today. A brief search of the Internet will show you that there are many ‘miracle workers’ with thousands upon thousands of followers who claim that they are able to heal people and even bring the dead back to life. Yet when the claims are actually investigated, there is never any real evidence to back them up.

        Given the similarities between modern miracle claims and Jesus’ supposed acts, how Christians can accept the biblical account with one hand and dismiss everything else with the other is mind boggling.

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

          Consider Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian mystic who died a few years ago with millions of followers. Compare that with Jesus, who died with maybe 100.

        • J.T

          Sai Baba is a perfect example, and I usually bring him up when I talk with Christians about this issue. In my opinion, people like him prove that it doesn’t matter who wrote the Gospels or when. They could have been written by the Apostles a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion for all it matters.

          There have been written or recorded accounts of Sai Baba’s ‘miracles’ around for decades, all backed up by ‘eyewitnesses’. They’ll swear up and down that he was authentic and everything is real. Unlike Jesus, these ‘eyewitness accounts’ were made and collected even while the guy was still alive and his ministry was still active, and we can actually put exact dates and authors to them.

          If ‘eyewitness accounts’ are really the big proof that Christians depend on to determine truth, they have more reason to believe Baba than they do in Jesus.
          .

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

          This does support a point that Karl was (inadvertently) making, that people today are about as gullible as those 2000 years ago. We’re just better educated.

        • Pofarmer

          Had never heard of, so read the wikipedia bio. Give the guy credit, he makes Mother Theresa look worse than she already does. Rather than just helping prople die, his hospitals provided treatment that might actually save them.

        • Kodie

          I don’t generally think of which story I prefer. I don’t know if Jesus was a real person or a totally unreal fictional character. A lot of good cases are being made for him to be 100% fictional, as far as the construction of a story goes. I’m not a biblical scholar, I haven’t read it, I don’t know what myths it resembles other than what people say. A lot of it also sounds like it could have happened to somebody, but a lot of fiction is set in the real world with realistic circumstances.

          Now I am thinking of Forrest Gump. Just about any part of that story could have happened to someone. The story is how they all happened to the same person. But if you watch the movie and imagine what “really” happened to someone, well, you’re not watching the documentary of Forrest Gump, and let’s imagine he was a real human being, it’s the dramatization of the events over the course of his life. It’s how the movie makes it all look so dramatic.

          Historians and documentarians do a different job than scriptwriters, screenplay adapters, and directors of movies based on a true story, but they still try to hit the high points and make the subject vivid and living. They sift through footage and letters and interview people who always sound fascinating. I imagine they talk to people for hours just to get bits they can put between the footage. Real people can experience really tense and dramatic moments, but the way it’s edited brings in the viewer, practically manipulates them to feel like they are there just by showing a few minutes, cut in with testimony and dramatic readings of one passage of one letter out of thousands of probably more ordinary letters.

          I guess what I’m saying is that even if Jesus really lived and all that stuff that could have happened to a real person happened to that one actual person, it’s still dramafied for effect.

  • King Dave

    This is a compelling comment dismissing Josephus- by Richard Smith

    “Josephus’ work is voluminous and exhaustive. It comprises twenty books. Whole pages are devoted to petty robbers and obscure seditious leaders. Nearly fourty chapters are devoted to the life of a single king. Yet this remarkable being, the greatest product of his race, a being of whom the prophets foretold ten thousand wonderful things, a being greater than any earthly king, is dismissed with a dozen lines.”
    Cross examined – Best atheist blog on Patheos, Not the over-senitive pushy Atheist that gets on CNN

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

      Thanks for the compliment! You are truly the king.

      • King Dave

        “Thanks for the compliment! You are truly the king.”

        I know

        There is far more evidence for me then this Jesus guy or girl. Who knows with Parthenogenesis.

        I do agree with Christopher Hitchens, that there probably was a charismatic preacher in that time and place. The rest is probably Hollywood

        I shared your article on NBC Newsvine, which directs traffic to you, got about 60 comments and one vote… mine.

        Great discussion Bob.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          According to King Dave: There is far more evidence for me then this Jesus guy or girl.

          Far more evidence? Methinks this minor tribal nabob holds himself in higher regard than most historians.

  • Rick

    Your arguments amount to a set of thought experiments, “what if’s” and the like. There is no evidence here. You know there are writings from the first century, as early as 30 years after the crucifixion, that attest to what eyewitnesses saw and wrote down. They would include Mark (Peter’s disciple and an eyewitness himself), Matthew and John (disciples), and historians such as Luke. They also include Paul, a Pharisee and contemporary of the events who was probably on the scene and observed many of the events first hand, though he was not converted until later.

    These eyewitness accounts are corroborated by late first century non-Christian historians whose credibility you have castigated. But you have shown no actual evidence whatsoever to suggest they were false in what they wrote. You just don’t think the historians corroborated all the facts offered by the eyewitnesses, which is true. That wasn’t their purpose. But writers like Josephus and Tacitus state clearly and without ambiguity that the historic facts laid out in the Gospels are reasonable even if these historians recorded only partial detail.

    Your extrapolation of a few decades into a fabricated case for legend/myth sounds plausible at first glance as you present it, but it is not adequate to the task of totally undermining the Gospel narratives. Your uncle, in the last years of his life, recalled few things clearly. But the last clear memories he had were of the events six decades previously during WW II. Long term memory works like that. I personally have exceedingly clear memories of the traumatic events of November 22, 1963, now over five decades ago. I recall what I personally experienced during that day and the days that followed.

    Dramatic, traumatic events burn deeply into our memories, and the very public execution of Jesus would surely have been that kind of event for the eyewitnesses and for those who didn’t see the events firsthand but saw the impact they had on those who did observe them and told the stories vividly in their later years. Do you really disbelieve everything told to you by anyone old enough to have been your grandparents or parents and related something that happened 30 or more years previous to the telling? I hope not. You would be missing a lot.

    I have no doubt you will find fault with this brief response. You will point to previous posts were you “addressed” issues I have raised. But in most of those posts you liken the historically real events of the first century to Greek and Roman mythology, and with your proficient use of thought experiments you dismiss the possibility of the Biblical narrative being true.

    Writing about something is not the same as “having dealt it a body blow.” And as I like to point out, my purpose in writing is not to convince you, because for any number of reasons you seem to be beyond reach. But for any wandering by this blog who are openminded, it is important to remind those not of like mind with you that you have not convinced all of us to leave the solid foundation of two thousand years of scholarship. You have provided no actual evidence that the Biblical framework has been contradicted, only that you, through naturalistic presuppositions, find other ways of thinking about the issues to be more plausible.

    Plausibility efforts which deny supernatural events have a certain degree of attractiveness–Ockham’s razor and all that. But you can’t account for so much that your side takes more faith to believe in atheism than Christianity. Among the issues that have to line up in order for Christianity to be false are these, to name only a few:
    All of the gospel writers were wrong.
    All of the corroborating historians were wrong. (No writer contradicting the accounts of the Gospels wrote a single fragment that survived.)
    None of the prophecies that accurately predicted so many events were real. These include among many other details the prediction of the exact month and year, if not the exact day–I haven’t yet found convincing evidence of that–the future king would be “cut off.”

    You have heard of these things before, yet you write as if they don’t even exist. Yet all of the assertions you make that contradicts the issues above have to be true for Christianity to be false.

    That is worth more consideration and research than mere thought experiments allow.

    • wtfwjtd

      Rick, there is a lot of comments to read through here, that address many of the points you assert, if you care to read through them.
      I’d like to take a little different approach though. You say that the post above contains no evidence against the resurrection. What evidence can you provide for it? And, what evidence convinced you that the resurrection story is true as written? And finally, have you ever done any research at all on the origins of the gospels, and who actually wrote them?

      • Pofarmer

        Maybe Jenna sent Rick over. It’s the same argument, and just as facetious.

        • wtfwjtd

          What? You weren’t impressed by the mere mention of Josephus and Tacitus?

        • hector

          Strange how the mere mention by Josephus and Tacitus is supposed to make us believers in the resurrection when neither Josephus nor Tacitus were christians themselves.

          “But writers like Josephus and Tacitus state clearly and without ambiguity that the historic facts laid out in the Gospels are reasonable even if these historians recorded only partial detail.” Is that cribbed from William Lane Craig? Sounds like something he would say.

        • wtfwjtd

          I thought that was pretty comical too. Besides, these guys weren’t contemporaries of the time when Jesus lived, they lived and wrote decades later. Even if we grant that what’s in their writings isn’t forged–a very BIG if–they only mention Jesus in passing, and provide nothing else. How is this supposed to buttress the decades-earlier claims of the supernatural contained in the gospel stories? This is just another weak link, very tenuous at best. Definitely sounds like another WLC claim to me.

        • Nemo

          Suppose the events of the New Testament did happen. Suppose this Jesus fellow really was sought out by Roman military officers. Suppose he did turn Jerusalem upside down just by visiting for a week. Suppose he did cause a zombie apocalypse after his death. There would be mountains of evidence of this. Instead, we get a mention in passing by a guy who lived decades later. Not impressed.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well,let’s see…at the crucifixion, we are told that there is a huge earthquake in Palestine, a major solar eclipse that lasts for 3+ hours, a zombie apocalypse,…have I got it all?…oh yeah, and the crucifixion itself. Nothing to see or record here folks, this happens every day. Yeah right! I understand that Josephus wrote pages of minutiae about a couple of minor functionaries of the time, and all the Son of God gets is a few lines? I agree, that’s pretty ludicrous.

        • Rick

          Of these events the earthquake is one that can be validated, and currently is being researched. Watch some other space for actual news of it, however. One source says,

          Thirteen inches above the 31 B.C. event bed is another distinctive “mixed layer” less than one inch thick. The sedimentation rate puts this second earthquake about 65 years after the 31 B.C. earthquake. It seems that the crucifixion earthquake of 33 A.D. was magnitude 5.5, leaving direct physical evidence in a thin layer of disturbed sediment from the Dead Sea.

          Other research is ongoing into this aspect. The cited source also discusses other Biblically recorded earthquakes and major events. This web article also discusses the earthquake issue and seems pretty balanced.

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

          You must wonder why historians don’t record the earthquake and the eclipse. The eclipse in particular would be quite remarkable.

        • Rick

          They do. I have sent you the links. http://www.bethlehemstar.net and the ones above. I have talked to you in person in detail about that presentation. I have a version of it that I also do.

        • Pofarmer

          “I have talked to you in person in detail about that presentation. I have a version of it that I also do”

          Oh, God. You’re spewing this nonsense to audiences?

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

          I’ll look at that site again around Christmas time to see if there’s anything interesting to critique.

        • J.T

          Uhm…No. There was an earthquake between 26 AD and 36 AD. That doesn’t prove it happened during Jesus’ execution. And curiously, Matthew is the only Gospel that records a quake during his death. Mark, Luke, and John don’t mention it. Even better, Matthew follows up his report of the quake with a bunch of Jewish zombies escaping their tombs. Another event that goes utterly unreported even by the other gospels.

        • wtfwjtd

          It looks like *real* scientists reject “creation geophysics” as quackery, so I don’t see how any reasonable person could call that credible evidence:

          http://gondwanaresearch.com/rate.htm

          Creation geophysics has no peer review, violates several known physics principles, and is run by men who have already reached a conclusion before conducting any research. Yea, sounds legit….

        • Rick

          That is simply not true. There are numerous PhD creationists who are scientists and who have peer review and a set of scholarly journals in which they publish. The mainstream blackballs them not on the basis of research standards but on the basis of preconceived bias.

        • Kodie

          Oh, you are too funny! They can’t be both peer-reviewed and blackballed by the scientific community. If the research is rejected, it’s not because people don’t want the truth to come out, it’s because it’s not true and poorly conducted. Their “peers”, i.e., other people biased to find the same results reviewing them is not unbiased. PhD creationist scientist is an oxymoron. Science rejects them because they are not conducting science. You are so persecuted, nobody will believe you, so we must be wrong and mean and biased! Well, you reject science because you’re ignorant. Don’t fight it.

        • wtfwjtd

          I can find a lot more con than pro when it comes to creation geophysics. I’ll stick with the peer-revewed guys who publish their work in accredited journals when it it comes to science. Of course, YMMV.

          http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/helium/zircons.html

        • J.T

          ….Right. The entire creationist framework depends on ideas that have no basis in reality. For example, they claim radiometric dating is unreliable because in the past there was massively accelerated radioactive decay. Never mind that if the decay rate had actually accelerated to the point they require, it would’ve produced so much heat that the earth would -still- be a giant mass of molten rock.

          Let’s not even touch on the problem of distant starlight.

        • hector

          Christianity is a cognitive error.

        • Pofarmer

          “The mainstream blackballs them not on the basis of research standards but on the basis of preconceived bias”

          It’s a conspiracy to keep us from the troof.

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

          Michael Shermer summarizes Martin Gardner’s list of tips for recognizing pseudoscience in the link below. I haven’t read it in a while, but I think “Everyone’s being mean to me! No one’s listening to all my good stuff!” is one of the warning signs. Or should be.

          http://www.skepticblog.org/2010/07/08/martin-gardners-signs-of-a-crank/

        • MNb

          Pretty good list. In addition:

          “have already reached a conclusion before conducting any research”
          “they use a holistic approach, ie every single piece of empirical evidence is interpreted in such a way that it fits.”
          Never mind that organizations like Discovery Institute and AIG have budgets quite a few science institutes only can dream of.

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

          Ken Ham made clear that his young-earth position was immutable. I guess he gets points for being honest, but that’s not how science works. Or objectivity and open-mindedness.

        • wtfwjtd

          Not only is that not how science works, it was his inadvertent admission that what he is doing is NOT science, but theology.

        • wtfwjtd

          Definitely a red flag warning that a load of BS is imminent.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve researched some of the PhD scientists which ICR lists. Many of them are either employed by, or got their degrees from ICR. There are about 6 Geologists on the list, and exactly one Cosmologist, who got his degree in solar phenomenon, and most definitely has already chosen the answers to his questions.

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

          The PhD doesn’t count unless it’s the work that they’re doing is in that field. (Example: an MD or JD or physics PhD telling us that evolution is bunk.) Let’s eliminate those guys and just focus on the Creationist researchers who have a terminal degree in the Creationist field in which they’re practicing.

        • Rick

          There are plenty of those. Here is a list just in astronomy. I haven’t looked close enough to see how many are at the PhD level in the narrow field you specify. But there is lots of quality research being done. You may not like the source, but that is your problem, not the problem of those doing the actual research. The Answers Research Journal has plenty of material for you to contact authors and critique if you like.

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

          Fine. I’m not saying there are zero qualified researchers, just that there are far fewer than many Creationists would like to imagine. Perhaps you and I make the same high demands for scholarship.

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

          And, of course, Josephus can’t be an objective non-Christian but at the same time write the Testimonium Flavianum with its clear proclamations of the divinity of Jesus.

        • wtfwjtd

          And of course, Josephus was a Jew who loved to write about Jewish goings-on. You’d think that if there was a rabbi causing a huge stir in Jerusalem he’d have been all over it. With more than just a few suspicious-looking lines, I mean.

        • J.T

          Indeed. You’d also think he’d report about the veil in the Temple being torn in two. After all, that would have had massive religious significance to all Jews living at the time. Yet he’s totally silent. And surprise surprise, no other contemporary writers so much as mention it either.

          You know, I’m sensing a pattern here….

        • hector

          And the guy who lived decades later wasn’t that impressed by it either because he didn’t convert to christianity over it.

        • Rick

          Don’t read the biographies of John Adams or Lincoln that came out in the 20th century or later. They weren’t contemporaries and can’t possibly have anything valid to add to the discussion.

        • wtfwjtd

          Reputable biographies of men like Adams or Lincoln are readily sourced with accessible, well-documented writings and eye witness accounts from the time of the men they document, and such sources can easily be verified and cross-referenced from multiple angles. The gospels were written *anonymously* decades after the fact, by members of the new religion they were pushing. Surely you can see the difference?!

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

          Don’t forget that the cultural gulf between us and Adams/Lincoln is minimal. The documentation is in Modern English. And there were many newspaper accounts.

          Oh yeah–and we’re not trying to support supernatural claims for either man.

        • Without Malice

          Rick, we have documents written by Abe Lincoln, we have documents written by those that knew him, we have photos of him. But in the case of Jesus, here’s a man who is supposed to be God incarnate and we have no information at all about his life except for what was written about him decades later; and then only about the last year of his life. Just how does the God of the universe go about living for over thirty years among men and do absolutely nothing noteworthy. If Jesus really existed we should know every last detail of his life. But we know nothing. The gospels claim that he was famous all through Judea and the surrounding nations, he had thousands following him, he did might wonders, at his resurrection darkness covered the earth for three hours, many dead saints came out of their graves and went into Jerusalem, there were multiple earthquakes; yet no one wrote a word about it when it happened. That alone is enough to discount the later stories as nothing but either embellishments of a lackluster life or complete fantasy.

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

          Jesus was really busy cursing fig trees and not curing smallpox. He didn’t have time to journal.

        • Without Malice

          That fig tree fiasco is something that’s really, really disturbing. Here’s the God and maker of the whole damn universe, he comes to a tree that’s not bearing fruit because it’s out of season (the season that he himself created), but he’s really looking forward to a good fig or two, can already taste the moist pulp on his tongue, and feel it sliding down his throat; so what’s he do? he curses the tree. A tree that’s only doing what he designed it to do, as if it’s being spiteful towards him. He could just as easily blessed the tree and made it break forth with enough figs to bend its boughs down to the ground. But no, he curses the damn thing. Jesus! I guess some cow or goat was damn lucky he wasn’t looking forward to some warm milk and him finding them with dry utters.

        • Kodie

          And that’s why they’re lactose-intolerant.

        • Greg G.

          That is the main reason I tend to think Mark was writing an allegorical story and was not writing history at all. It also makes me think Mark was written in the 70s AD.

          Jesus gets mad at a fig tree, then he gets mad at the Temple, then they notice the fig tree has withered. In the decade after the destruction of Jerusalem, his readers would then be inclined to think of the destruction of the Temple with a little Aha moment.

          I am beginning to think the ending of Mark is something like that. One might expect the story to end with the women telling the disciples what they were told so the disciples went to Galilee and lived happily ever after. Instead, despite, the chiasm suggesting another line, the story ends with the women being afraid to tell – a pregnant pause hinting that the disciples were destroyed in the war.

        • Without Malice

          You may be right. To me Mark reads like the text of a mystery religion. Jesus speaks to the people in parables and keeps his divinity secret, even telling his disciples that he speaks in parables so that the rabble won’t be able to understand and be saved, but that to his inner circle he speaks plainly so they can understand. Mark even leaves us with an empty tomb so we can come begging to the initiated for an answer to what happened next.

        • Rick

          Not cribbed.

        • hector

          So you came up with that piece of nonsense entirely on your own? Have you considered a career in comedy?

        • Without Malice

          Listen Rick, the Testimonium Flavianum is one of the most recognized forgeries in the world. It has been known to be a forgery for hundreds of years. Not one of the early church fathers – who all knew the works of Josephus – mentions it until the forth century when it was quoted by the scoundrel Eusebius. It’s not written in the style of Josephus and it interrupts the flow of the narrative. When it’s taken out the paragraph before it and after it fit together like a hand in a glove. And it’s idiotic to think that Josephus would make the claim that Jesus was the messiah.

        • Pofarmer

          He almost had me, but I recovered.

        • Greg G.

          Good thing he didn’t say “Pliny the Younger” and “Suetonius” then.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, oh, I’m feeling a little faint……

        • Rick

          I haven’t read Jenna’s stuff, but whoever she is, she didn’t send me. I haven’t gone through her notes.

        • Pofarmer

          You are working from the same, bad, playbook.

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

          (I don’t think Jenna and Rick hang out in the same blog circles.)

      • Kingasaurus

        Alien abductions have hundreds of living people who claim to be eyewitnesses/victims, who aren’t lying and can’t be convinced they are mistaken.

        That’s much better evidence/testimony than we have for Jesus’ resurrection.

        Are we all agreed alien abductions are really happening? No? Why not?

        • Rick

          I’m not an alien conspirator. You tell me why you’re not. I don’t have time for such at present. The IRS demands my time before April 15th and it is looming.

        • Greg G.

          WARNING!

          PLEASE READ IMMEDIATELY!

          THIS IS SERIOUS!

          If you get an envelope from a company called the Internal
          Revenue Service,” DO NOT OPEN IT! This group operates a scam from January to April every year. Their letter claims that you owe them money, which they will take and use to pay for the operation of essential functions of the United States government. This is untrue! The money the IRS collects is used to fund various inefficient and pointless social engineering projects.

          This organization has ties to another shady outfit called the Social Security Administration, who claim to take money from your regular paychecks and save it for your retirement. In truth, the SSA uses the money to pay for the same misguided make-work projects the IRS helps mastermind.

          These scam artists have bilked honest, hard working Americans out of billions of dollars. Don’t be among them!

          FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO
          EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

        • Without Malice

          Damn! Now you tell me.

        • Kingasaurus

          I’m not an “alien conspirator” because – despite hundreds of totally convinced living eyewitnesses who you can talk to – the evidence sucks.

          This weak evidence, however, is far more impressive than the “evidence” for anything miraculous in the New Testament.

          Which was my point.

      • Rick

        Yes I have researched these issues. Thanks for asking. I haven’t trusted the “Jesus Seminar” sort of folks to have all the answers

        • wtfwjtd

          I’m not really familiar with the “Jesus Seminar” that you are referring to.

          What scholarly sources of information on the origins of Christianity do you consider reliable?

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

          The Jesus Seminar is a liberal group of New Testament scholars. They have an interesting take (they think the Gospel of Thomas is early and important evidence), but they’re too liberal for Rick’s taste.

        • Greg G.

          They voted on which sayings attributed to Jesus were authentic. I think there were many scholars involved. The elected opinion of the group does not represent each members view.

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

          This doesn’t answer all of wtfwjtd’s questions.

        • Rick

          Thanks.

        • wtfwjtd

          All right, so you don’t trust the Jesus Seminar. Then who do you trust?

    • moon_bucket

      You think Paul witnessed these events, never mentioned it, still didn’t believe and required a direct divine intervention to convert? Was he stupid?

      • Rick

        No, I don’t take Paul to be stupid. Paul was at the execution of Stephen that occurred shortly after the events of the Gospels and the crucifixion. and was already an influential leader. Do you think he appeared on the scene instantaneously and missed the entire Jesus episode, or is it more likely he was a Pharisee during the trial of Jesus or shortly thereafter?

        • wtfwjtd

          Apparently he did miss the whole Jesus episode, as he doesn’t mention one thing about it in all of his supposed writings in the New Testament. Further, he says he “did not receive his gospel from any man; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ”.
          Revelation, eh? What does that mean to you? Are you calling Paul a liar?
          Paul also considered himself “not the least inferior to the other apostles”. Seriously? He considers himself equal to men who supposedly walked and talked with Jesus himself?

          Based on his own writings, it’s clearly obvious that Paul had never heard of any earthly Jesus stories. Everything that Paul says about Jesus in the New Testament was gleaned from studying Old Testament scriptures.

        • Rick

          Initially he did receive a revelation according to his testimony. After that he was trained/taught for a number of years by many including the remaining disciples on a couple of different occasions. It doesnt seem accurate to say that he got nothing except from OT sources.

        • wtfwjtd

          So you are saying that Paul is a liar when he states that he “did not receive his gospel from any man, nor was I taught it?” I don’t see how that helps your case.
          If Paul didn’t get all his knowledge from the OT, please show us in his writings something he says about Jesus that he could NOT have gotten from the OT.

        • Pofarmer

          “After that he was trained/taught for a number of years by many”

          Eh?

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

      (Sorry for the length. And apologies if I duplicate the later comments, which I have yet to read.)

      There is no evidence here.

      When someone says, “Fairies in my garden make my flowers bloom,” do you give them evidence against this? Do you set up cameras through an entire spring and then review the footage to show that the claim is false?

      I’m sure not. And for similar reasons, I don’t have (or need) 1st-century evidence arguing against the resurrection.

      You know there are writings from the first century, as early as 30 years after the crucifixion, that attest to what eyewitnesses saw and wrote down.

      I’d say 40 years, but that’s a quibble. As for eyewitnesses, the evidence is paltry.

      They would include Mark (Peter’s disciple and an eyewitness himself)

      I’ve written here about the very long chain of arguments behind this. Unconvincing. Let me know if you can’t find the post.

      Paul, a Pharisee and contemporary of the events who was probably on the scene and observed many of the events first hand, though he was not converted until later.

      As the post makes clear, that’s what the story says. That doesn’t make it history.

      These eyewitness accounts are corroborated by late first century non-Christian historians whose credibility you have castigated.

      Nope. I’ve explored just one, Josephus. My comments said nothing about Josephus, just about later amenders who may have “improved” his history. You’re not saying that the Testimonium Flavianum is authentic, are you?

      As for the group of non-Christian historians, what do they say? “There are people called Christians who worship a man named Jesus.” How is that supposed to get me to accept the supernatural stories?

      But you have shown no actual evidence whatsoever to suggest they were false in what they wrote.

      Nor will I. Nor do I need to. What they say is mundane.

      You just don’t think the historians corroborated all the facts offered by the eyewitnesses, which is true.

      Again, what eyewitnesses?

      To your point: you’re right. I think that the historians might’ve corroborated 0.01% of the facts claimed in the gospels. We’ve still got a ways to go.

      But writers like Josephus and Tacitus state clearly and without ambiguity that the historic facts laid out in the Gospels are reasonable even if these historians recorded only partial detail.

      Huh? Just what do you think they verify?

      the last clear memories he had were of the events six decades previously during WW II. Long term memory works like that.

      I have great respect for anyone who served his country. But I don’t have that much respect for human memory. We often confuse vivid with accurate. Perhaps you’ve read my blog post on the subject.

      One other memory story: a friend of mine (about 60yo) told about how, when in middle or high school, the creek behind his school flooded. He and a bunch of his friends decided to play hooky and float down the creek. They were having great fun until an underwater branch caught him by the collar and pulled him under. The story might’ve had a tragic ending except that a girl got him detached.

      Years later, someone solicited stories about the old school, and that girl wrote up the creek story. Except that in her story, he had rescued her! Both had very vivid memories, but obviously at least one was wrong.

      Human memory can’t support much of a claim. And, of course, the fatal flaw is that it assumes the story we’re trying to prove! “Surely the apostles would’ve remembered someone returning from the grave” assumes that the event happened. Let’s follow the evidence instead.

      the very public execution of Jesus would surely have been that kind of event for the eyewitnesses

      Sure, if it happened. Did it? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.

      Do you really disbelieve everything told to you by anyone old enough to have been your grandparents or parents and related something that happened 30 or more years previous to the telling?

      Supernatural events? Let’s just say that I’d be a wee bit skeptical.

      for any number of reasons you seem to be beyond reach.

      Perhaps it’s because my position is the more accurate and the evidence keeps me here.

      you have not convinced all of us to leave the solid foundation of two thousand years of scholarship.

      Hinduism has much more than that.

      You have provided no actual evidence that the Biblical framework has been contradicted

      Yeah, you keep saying that, but I need evidence. The kind of thing you opened with were some arguments. I’d prefer something more substantial, but that’s getting warmer. Tip: whenever you write a conclusion (like the statement above), remember that I’ll be looking for the evidence. More evidence/arguments helps. “Ya missed me!” doesn’t.

      naturalistic presuppositions

      I do have a natural starting point, but I’m delighted to go where the evidence points. Don’t imagine that I’m closed minded or that I will write off a body of evidence just because it has a supernatural conclusion.

      Plausibility efforts which deny supernatural events have a certain degree of attractiveness–Ockham’s razor and all that.

      Ah—good to see that we share a similar natural starting point.

      All of the gospel writers were wrong.

      In their supernatural statements, yes. (Qualification: note that the supernatural events might’ve happened, but Yahweh wasn’t behind them. The Marcionite interpretation could be correct. Or maybe an unknown god is behind the curtain.)

      All of the corroborating historians were wrong.

      Nope. Let’s reject Josephus like the rest of the historians. Beyond that, what do they say? “There are ‘Christians’ who worship a dude named ‘Jesus.’” That doesn’t give me much heartburn.

      (No writer contradicting the accounts of the Gospels wrote a single fragment that survived.)

      I’ve written much on the Naysayer Hypothesis. (Spoiler: I don’t think much of it.)

      None of the prophecies that accurately predicted so many events were real.

      I think I’ve written posts debunking 3 or 4 of these. (Daniel is in the queue—I hope to get to that one soon.)

      No, none of the “prophecies” amount to anything.

      You have heard of these things before, yet you write as if they don’t even exist.

      You need to drop by more often. I have heard of these things, and I write as if they’re nonsense. Big difference.

      all of the assertions you make that contradicts the issues above have to be true for Christianity to be false.

      What’s left standing?

      • Rick

        There is a lot left standing. It may shock you to know that in the world at large and the community that studies ancient textual evidence, “not sufficient to impress Bob Seidensticker” is not usually considered actual refutation.

        Among the things you left standing and did not address was the specific dating of the crucifixion events. But I’m sure you have some explanation that seems reasonable to you, even though we know that the prophecies were contained in texts that were written before the time of Christ (Dead Sea Scrolls and other evidence supports this.)

        I think the real problem is that you are hung up on the “supernatural” part of the events recorded. And by asking for evidence, you are asking for evidence of that aspect. By definition, you can’t produce evidence of what is not natural. You can only provide written testimony in the case of ancient events. Your presuppositions assume naturalistic explanations, so you discount out of hand any possibility of the supernatural, and demand evidence for which you don’t define the minimum standard. Then you declare that anyone providing the Gospels and first century historians hasn’t met your high bar. But there is no defined bar.

        This is like asking someone to paint a picture of rainbow, and promising to provide all the tools they need to do it. The problem is that you only provide the paint in two colors—black and white. Christians are talking about colors, while you are stuck in black and white.

        Your worldview encompasses only what is physical, while the actual world must necessarily include things beyond the physical. There was some set of processes, causes or a supernatural creator that set into motion the physical laws and the created the matter that is what we now call the physical universe. You put faith in “science” to eventually solve that mystery. We put faith in God, and say that much of what He said was true, while we take the rest that can’t be validated with archeology and the like on faith.

        I don’t expect you to paint in color. But it helps to understand that you are stuck in black and white.

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

          Among the things you left standing and did not address was the specific dating of the crucifixion events.

          Is there anything interesting here? I thought that we were in the same ballpark on dating.

          we know that the prophecies were contained in texts that were written before the time of Christ (Dead Sea Scrolls and other evidence supports this.)

          Again, I’ve already written about several of the prophecies (though not Daniel). Read them and point out errors.

          By definition, you can’t produce evidence of what is not natural.

          Why not? If Jesus materialized today on a busy street corner, there would be lots of photos taken. There’s your evidence.

          What are you saying about the quality of information for the gospel story? Are you saying that you don’t have much?

          You can only provide written testimony in the case of ancient events.

          You mean written as opposed to photos and so on? That’s true.

          you discount out of hand any possibility of the supernatural

          Wrong. We’ve been over this before, I’m sure.

          demand evidence for which you don’t define the minimum standard.

          Let’s explore that by establishing what it would take you to jump ship in favor of a new religion. Maybe just a few 2000-yo documents written by followers decades after the events? Would that do it for you? ’Cause it wouldn’t be enough for me.

          Your worldview encompasses only what is physical, while the actual world must necessarily include things beyond the physical.

          Is there a supernatural world? I await compelling evidence for this remarkable claim.

          There was some set of processes, causes or a supernatural creator that set into motion the physical laws and the created the matter that is what we now call the physical universe.

          Are you saying that science has unanswered questions? Yes, it does. Does anything relevant follow from that observation?

          You put faith in “science” to eventually solve that mystery. We put faith in God, and say that much of what He said was true

          I put my trust in science because it has delivered in spades. Religion hasn’t.

          And what about all the other stuff in my previous (long) comment? Are we on the same page on all the topics that you didn’t respond to?

        • Rick

          No, we aren’t on the same page. What fun would that be?

          As for photo evidence, I will get back to you when you provide a link to that first century Instagram site.

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

          OK, how about … dang! I thought I could produce photos from the first century but I realize that I can’t.

          You win. I thought the documentation was better, but you’re right. What we have from the first century sucks.

        • Rick

          Ok, I will expand.

          Why not? If Jesus materialized today on a busy street corner, there would be lots of photos taken. There’s your evidence.

          What are you saying about the quality of information for the gospel story? Are you saying that you don’t have much?

          No, I’m not saying that. What made you think I had?

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

          The text that I quoted.

        • Rick

          You mean,

          By definition, you can’t produce evidence of what is not natural.

          … ?

          You can’t take photos of the supernatural (which is what I responded to). Perhaps you mean modern day evidence of what has changed after a supernatural intervention. Since the topic was ancient issues and history, I thought you were being flippant.

          But about evidence for contemporary miracles—that is fair. I have heard very convincing evidence from doctors I trust who have been on medical mission trips and have seen miraculous healing. Tumors gone, dead raised, in some cases limbs regrown. Pretty wild stuff I wouldn’t have thought was still going on because it doesn’t happen in areas where the church is well established, from what I can tell. God has always used that to build faith in a newly planted church area.

          Is that the kind of evidence you are looking for? If so I can provide additional evidence that it still happens.

        • Kodie

          Do you understand that just because you can believe it doesn’t mean it could have happened? You don’t want to entertain the suspicion that you could be fooled and so it’s the skeptics who are wrong.

        • Rick

          Yes, I understand that. No, you don’t know what I want to entertain.

        • Kodie

          You are swept up in foolishness, sorry. You find credible reports without solid evidence of cures, heals, regrown limbs? But an atheist says resurrection of Jesus is just a story, and you demand solid historical proof? “As you understand it,” god does these parlor tricks to grab believers in areas where Christian people go on his behalf to spread the gospel. He’s only been gone 2000 years, what’s the hold-up? He can do things but he only does them to prove he exists, and you uphold this usage of his talents, and not to actually heal or feed people all over the world, or to stop wars or anything?

          AND you believe these healings occurred as miracles and not as lies.

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

          You can’t take photos of the supernatural

          Jesus is God. If you had a camera back then, you could’ve taken his picture.

          Better (since Jesus would look just like an ordinary guy): take a video of one of the miracles. That’s a lot more evidence than we have today.

          Since the topic was ancient issues and history, I thought you were being flippant.

          No, not being flippant.

          If you’re contrasting modern vs. ancient evidence, you’re right of course that video evidence isn’t an option for evidence back then. Take away modern kinds of evidence, and you’re back to just ancient documents. Not much on which to build a supernatural story, I’m afraid.

          I have heard very convincing evidence from doctors I trust who have been on medical mission trips and have seen miraculous healing. Tumors gone, dead raised, in some cases limbs regrown. Pretty wild stuff

          Agreed. I’m surprised that these doctors didn’t drop everything to document this miracles so that doctors in the West can appreciate these claims. Right now, they’re dismissed along with all the other fanciful tales. I would think it would advance your position quite a bit if you could turn fanciful tales into scientific consensus.

          Is that the kind of evidence you are looking for? If so I can provide additional evidence that it still happens.

          Well, yes and no. It is the kind of evidence I’m looking for, but I can anticipate how this will play out. You give me a fascinating anecdote, and I try to follow up to fact check (as best I can, of course—I’m no expert). So I spend a few hours researching this, and I hit a brick wall somewhere—the documentation is flimsy or inaccessible or in another language or suspect or something. Then I go back to you, and you say, “Not a problem. I’ve got plenty more.” And now I’m back to square one with the same likely result.

          Maybe it won’t play out that way. But I see no likely upside for me. That’s why I’d rather that real unbiased experts (not easily tricked or confused, like me) be brought in. When there’s a medical consensus, that’s a new ball game.

        • Rick

          No, it doesnt have to work that way. I will put you in touch with individuals who will give you first hand accounts. No brick walls, no inaccessible links. If you give me permission, I will give them your personal phone number or you can contact them directly with theirs after I get their permission. I will even fly you here and you can meet them personally. I will even give you a place to stay. We would love to get caught up in person anyway!

          The ball is in your court. How do you want to play it?

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

          OK, give me your single best source. Keep in mind that if it doesn’t pan out, I’ll likely blog about that failure at some point.

          I’m guessing that giving them my email address is the next step?

        • Rick

          No. I don’t intend to presume on their time by giving them a writing assignment you can pick apart. I want you to talk to them by phone or in person. We can discuss offline.

        • J.T

          Amusing. Christianity isn’t the only modern religion that makes miracle claims. I can also find followers of Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism, and even Paganism who will claim to have experienced first-hand divine episodes of healing and more. All who are just as ‘reliable’ as any source a Christian can come up with.

          Does that mean you’ll drop Christianity and embrace non-denominational Theism, Rick? Cause obviously God doesn’t limit himself to followers of one religion if you consider personal, eyewitness testimony a valid form of evidence in spite of the mountains of research that show it’s unreliable.

        • Pofarmer

          Do you understand why that kind of testimony means exactly zilch? Thomas paine covered this in the 18th frickin century.

        • Kodie

          It was written by humans who imagined that there must necessarily be some conscious cause for things they didn’t understand. You put your “faith” in the ignorance of ancient humans to make opinions law. It resonates with you because you are human, but it is not magic or “supernatural”. The oogity-boogity things you need to be true rely on humans to act as though they are, and when we don’t, of course the patterns thought rigid by ancient humans fall apart and you think the world is ruined and falling apart, and you want to put it back together by forcing people to ignore that there is no god.

        • Rick

          Evidence?

        • Kodie

          That a non-physical conscious mastermind doesn’t exist?

        • Rick

          That any of your assertions above are based in fact. To wit,

          1. It was written by humans

          2. who imagined that there must necessarily be some conscious cause for things they didn’t understand.

          3. You put your “faith” in the ignorance of ancient humans to make opinions law.

          4. It resonates with you because you are human, but

          5. it is not magic or “supernatural”.

          6. The oogity-boogity things you need to be true rely on humans to act as though they are, and

          7. when we don’t, of course the patterns thought rigid by ancient humans fall apart and

          8. you think the world is ruined and falling apart, and

          9. you want to put it back together by forcing people to ignore that there is no god.

          There are 9 assertions, several of which allege to tell me what I think. What is your evidence of any of that?

        • Kodie

          The preposterous things you believe and the incredible conclusions you leap to? The lack of evidence you bring?

        • Pofarmer

          “while the actual world must necessarily include things beyond the
          physical. There was some set of processes, causes or a supernatural
          creator that set into motion the physical laws and the created the
          matter that is what we now call the physical universe.”

          See, all that is facts not in evidence. You’re a victim of WLC.

        • Rick

          I think I am a victim of common sense. Where do you say matter came from?

        • Greg G.

          From How to Debate a Christian Apologist by Victor Stenger (Physicist, PhD, bestselling author) says:

          Where did the mass and energy of the universe come from?

          The total mass-energy of the universe is zero with the positive energy of matter exactly balanced by the negative energy of gravity. This proves it could have come from a prior state of zero energy without violating any laws of physics. In one published scenario, our universe came from an earlier universe by quantum tunneling.

          How can something come from nothing?

          “Nothing” is notoriously difficult to define. To define it you have to give it some property. But then if it has a property it is not “nothing.” So this is an incoherent question unless you define nothing as an empty vacuum. In any case, the multiverse didn’t have to come from anything. It always was.

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

          A good addition to the conversation, thanks.

        • Pofarmer

          Common sense. O.k. Common sense dictates that there must be an immaterial, uncased, untestable, omniscient, all powerful, creator, who created a universe just for us, with hundreds of billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars, spanning 14.5 billion light years we have been able to detect so far. Common sense says this all powerful being then couldn’t find Adam and Eve at once in the Garden, or know what they were going to do when he left the keys lying about. He appeared to Abraham, but only let him see his backside. Later on, this omniscient, benevolent, all powerful being decided that he really didn’t know what he was doing, and wiped out everyone on earth with a flood. Years later, after that, he decided to impregnate a virgin with himself, when earlier on he had just popped right on down and spoke with the folks. Anywho, He galavanted around a podunk backwater with 12 dudes, none of which bothered to write down the story personally, all the while knowing that he was in the process of making himself a sacrifice to himself for sin that he himself had created or allowed to occur. After he arose from the dead, with the apparent ability to vanish and walk through walls and such, he appeared, apparently, the same 12 dudes in the same podunk backwaters, neglecting to maybe, make a visit to the chief priests or some such. He also announced he would be returning any day now, but, well, he didn’t, his later disciples predicted the same thing, and they were wrong too. So then, we kept up the cult religion for another 2000 years. Yes, how could anyone with any common sense doubt the veracity of such a tale.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvRPbsXBVBo

          palette cleanser.

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

          Quibble: I think it was Moses who was only permitted to see the divine ass. But that was up on the mountain.

          Later, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as
          a man speaks with his friend” (Ex. 33:11).

          Before that, God and two angels dropped by Abraham’s tent for coffee.

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

          “Israel in 4BC had no mass communication”

          — Judas in “Jesus Christ, Superstar”

        • Greg G.

          Among the things you left standing and did not address was the specific dating of the crucifixion events.

          Never happened. Everything Paul knew about Jesus came from the scriptures but he thought they were telling about ancient history.

          . But I’m sure you have some explanation
          that seems reasonable to you, even though we know that the prophecies were contained in texts that were written before the time of Christ (Dead Sea Scrolls and other evidence supports this.)

          Every element in Paul’s eschatology predictions from 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, and Philippians 3:20-21 can be found in Isaiah 26:19-21a, Daniel 7:11a, Daniel 13a, Daniel 12:2 and Isaiah 25:8a, except for the “twinkling of an eye” phrase. Paul thinks it was going to happen in his life time as shown with “Then
          we who are alive” from 1 Thessalonians 4:17. He thought that the fact that new meanings from the Old Testament were being revealed to him and the other apostles was an indication the long awaited Messiah was finally coming. So the actual prophecy didn’t happen either.

    • MNb

      “Josephus and Tacitus state clearly and without ambiguity that the historic facts laid out in the Gospels are reasonable ”
      No. Josephus (neglecting the fact that christian copiists seriously messed with the two (in)famous quotes) hardly wrote more than “there was a popular messias claimant called Jesus” and Tacitus got his information from the local, ie Roman christians, ie from the Gospels. So he isn’t independent.

  • aboemcowl

    LOL… Why are we arguing? The crazy thing is that people ARGUE about a man being born of a virgin impregnated by god, dying, and coming back from the dead. That is ridiculous on it’s face!!! I really don’t understand how anyone can truly believe this happened.

    • moon_bucket

      Especially when the stories come to us from a time when people made similar claims. Miracles, healing, and divine origins were not unusual claims. The Roman Caesar was even claiming it.

    • Pofarmer

      Let’s be more precise. God impregnated a woman with himself, so he could make himself, a sacrifice to himself.

  • 90Lew90

    How about the troublesome, radical preacher named Jesus was put to death and then his body was removed from the tomb so that the tomb did not become a shrine for his troublesome followers? That doesn’t seem implausible to me. At least it doesn’t seem to be any less plausible than that he rose from the dead, scrubbed up and started appearing to people here and there. Given that the Gospel accounts of these events don’t even concur (which is quite something, since the Easter story is what “makes” Christianity more than any other part of the New Testament), I’d plump for the politically-motivated body-snatching hypothesis. All said, I’m with aboemcowl on this. Why anyone would argue (much less die a slow and painful death, as many, many, many people have) over such a ludicrous story is beyond me. I have a hard time believing people really do believe this stuff, but alas, it appears they do.

    • I’mThinking

      How about the troublesome, radical preacher named Jesus was put to death and then his body was removed from the tomb so that the tomb did not become a shrine for his troublesome followers?

      Isn’t it what happened to Laden? Only difference is, Laden is really real.

    • hector

      The problem with this idea is that, though it seems reasonable, it may suffer from the ‘possibiliter ergo probabiliter’ fallacy. Just because it’s possible that Jesus was a ‘troublesome radical preacher’ whose followers subsequently deified him after a state execution doesn’t mean it’s a probable explanation of the evidence we have.

      For one thing, it doesn’t at all explain the letters of Paul, which make no mention whatsoever that Jesus was ever a living man seen on earth. Everything Paul claims to know about Jesus he says comes from revelation and scripture, i.e. the Old Testament. Scholars like Earl Doherty and Richard Carrier are beginning to show that the idea of a euhemerized Jesus – one who was conceived of first as a god then later placed on earth by his followers – better explains the evidence we have than the ‘troublesome radical preacher’ hypothesis.

      • 90Lew90

        So Paul never met Jesus. That should raise suspicions in itself, since the NT basically hinges on Paul, and we may only speculate, but it is likely that Paul was either epileptic or psychotic. For the historical Jesus and early Christians I’ve found the work of Geza Vermes pretty unassailable.

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

          I hadn’t been aware of this author, thanks. Any particular book?

        • 90Lew90

          “Christian Beginnings” is his latest and most accessible book. Sadly he died last year.

        • Without Malice

          Ain’t it funny how Paul had he same kind of conversion experience as Heliodorus in the second book of Macabbees? Heliodorus was off to persecute the Jews, saw an angel, got knocked from his horse, was blinded, was cared for by Jews, and then converted. What a coincidence.

        • MNb

          Ah yes, nothing as comforting as the warmth of true christian love.

      • Brandon Roberts

        that’s because paul never met jesus he only saw him in visions. in fact he was a roman soldier who brutally killed christians and later became a christian martyr

        • MNb

          Paul claimed to have seen Jesus in visions. People claim all kind of things, like being kidnapped by aliens and stuff.

        • Brandon Roberts

          yeah that’s true but paul lost all his money working for jesus was imprisoned and even killed if he made it up i believe he would have said so before getting beheaded

        • hector_jones

          Bob did an entire post on the ”who would die for a lie?’ argument that you are making in this comment. Have a look for it.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok i might

        • MNb

          Yeah. Quite a few Saxon pagans were killed by Charlemagne. If their pagan belief was made up they would have said so before being beheaded. When the Spaniards conquered the Aztec Empire several Aztec priests were killed. If they had made up their belief they would have converted to christianity before getting killed. Lots of SSers were killed at the Eastern Front – their willingness to die was considerably higher than of common soldiers. If nazism was made up they wouldn’t have entered the SS in the first place.
          Etc. etc.

        • hector_jones

          I realize Paul never met Jesus. The problem is he doesn’t even refer to him as ever having been a human being. You’re adding nothing to this discussion.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok really fair point but he knew him as god not as a man and i probaly should go now bye

        • avalpert

          he knew him the same way you know santa clause – intimately I’m sure

        • Brandon Roberts

          wow i’m through being polite you ever shut up smalldick why don’t you grow up get a life and go back to your blow up doll bye bye and the only reason i said all this is because of how completely disrespectful you are and how much of a dick you come across as

        • hector_jones

          But you came across as a gentleman and a scholar, right?

        • Brandon Roberts

          no i didn’t but you see i’m so tired of having to be the bigger man and i don’t have to be

        • hector_jones

          When were you the bigger man?

        • Brandon Roberts

          never but he started this by calling my beliefs fairy tales imagine if you had no proof for your evoloution none at all and i was saying all this stuff to you in my opinion the guy deserved it but i should’ve been nicer your right

        • hector_jones

          Where did your thin-skinned sense of instant outrage get you in this discussion? Absolutely nowhere. You should reconsider it as a strategy.

          If I had no proof for my evolution, none at all, I wouldn’t be in here insisting that it’s true and getting offended and calling people a-holes when they called it a fairy tale, unless I wanted to admit that my beliefs where foolish and indefensible.

          Why should anyone show your beliefs respect? You come in here with no evidence, none, and demand everyone be nice to you, while demonstrating that you are willing to call people names and act offended simply because people, who have spent a lot of time considering these things, consider your views unsupportable. Imagine how you would react to an adult who told you he believed in Santa Claus.

          When Bob mentioned that you probably believe in Christianity because your parents taught it to you you replied don’t bring my parents into this. It seems pretty clear to me that you are super quick to take offence precisely because you know your beliefs are foolish and unsupportable and you can’t stand to have this pointed out to you. So outrage is the only card in your hand. I’ve got news for you – it’s not going to work, no one around here is going to go easy on you because you claim to feel offended. We’ve seen that card played by christians and other believers far too many times to be impressed by it.

        • Brandon Roberts

          why should i show your beliefs respect when you don’t too mine and yes angers not a strategy but if your prro-choice why are you for science proves life begins at conception but i forgot it’s ok for you to pick and choose but it’s only cause my parents have nothing to do with this i really truly so it’s ok to offend christians for having foolish beliefs thanks

        • Kodie

          Ok, so your beliefs aren’t foolish or childish or fairy tales or anything like that because that implies you are a fool or a child who believes in fairy tales. That is disrespectful. Take it like a man, then you are simply demonstrably wrong about your beliefs, and sorry, they do resemble a fairy tale. If you can’t take it, you should try to examine them. We aren’t asking you to respect our “beliefs”, we didn’t ask you to do anything, you voluntarily expressed your beliefs on an atheist blog. The answer is “so?” What makes them true? Respect is respect, but truth value is something else. You have offered neither.

        • avalpert

          Does science also prove that killing in self defense isn’t a crime?

        • hector_jones

          Who here was demanding that you show their beliefs respect? The question is why should we show YOUR beliefs respect? You aren’t answering that question with this. If you can’t think of a reason why you should show our beliefs respect then I submit you really have no reason to complain that your beliefs aren’t treated with the level of respect you feel entitled to.

          This isn’t about your parents. Bob was simply making a point about how the vast majority of religious believers on this planet believe because they were taught to do so by their parents, not because they have sound intellectual reasons for believing. It wasn’t an attempt to drag your particular parents into the discussion. Get over it.

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

          Perhaps we’ve found the problem. It’s not like fashion, where I can wear pretty much whatever I want and I’m just expressing myself. Here, there are objective measures of truth, and faith fails.

          “Here’s a conclusion based on evidence” and “Here’s what I’ve been taught, and I believe it on faith” are not equivalent. No, they don’t each deserve respect, just reasoning based on evidence. Sorry.

        • Kodie

          imagine if you had no proof for your evoloution none at all and i was saying all this stuff to you

          Yeah, imagine if we had no proof, but we do. And you were saying that it was a fairy tale, which you have been.

          What you believe is that a long time ago, an invisible man brought about everything in the universe by thinking it up and then snapping his fingers. And that some time later, he sent himself down to earth to straighten things out, as his own son, enacted magical miracles, got himself killed, and went back up in the sky to wait for “souls” to join him after their physical bodies have died.

          With no proof or evidence that anything happens when you die, with a storybook, in fact, to support every detail of your beliefs, and nothing else but that storybook, you expect to have your point of view respected enough not to be called fairy tales? You are not being the bigger man, you are being a crybaby. You believe things with no reason. Plus you had some sketchy hallucinations or instances of filling in the blank (where you saw something strange and immediately concluded it was a person or ghost). Your beliefs are no more substantial than a child believing he’s on Santa’s “nice” list, and that’s why he got the presents he asked for. He came down the chimneys of billions of children in a single night, because that would be awesome if it were true. If god is real, he has been holding out on some serious miracles, just so that he could perform some parlor trick when you were 7? Rational people would call that god a failure, but at least he’s not real. Human brains are not perfect recording devices and can easily be tricked or manipulated, as you have allowed. We like to tell stories, and make up stuff, like jump to a conclusion because we can be uneasy with unanswered questions. We are easily comforted by placeholders, as fairy tales about a god and what we should do to please the invisible man watching you at all times, are. Imagine 100% surveillance of everything you do, and everything you think in your own head by an invisible judge. Does that sound like it’s not a fairy tale? It sounds like paranoia.

          Evolution doesn’t sound at all like that to me. You don’t want to accept evolution because it doesn’t give you the security of following orders from a book that you want to believe was written by the big boss in the sky, the supposed “more believable” than evolution occurring over millions of years, he just snapped his fingers and made the earth for humans within the limits of recorded history. Your imagination is both astoundingly broad and narrow at the same time, because you think this is true, and you think incomprehensible (to you) means impossible, with regards to billions of years. So, yes, you believe in a fairy tale, there is no way and you haven’t even tried to defend your beliefs. They’re not silly to you because they’re super-serious, but they are demonstrably silly. Of course you don’t like being told to your face that your beliefs are irrational and you have the mind of a child, but that’s what it works out to. If you want to believe these things, and demand your right to believe them, it comes with criticism from rational folks.

          tl:dr: Or you could stop saying “bye” and actually leave.

        • Brandon Roberts

          look fine your right i believe what i do so technically i’m a dangerous psychopath that doesn’t know fake from real that means i can do what i want with no guilt thanks for inspiring me and i tried my best to be nice i really did but there’s no point so i hope they disprove evoloution and you cry p.s this was only cause of how you treat me

        • Kodie

          Wow, what an anti-social response. You take offense at your beliefs being compared to a fairy tale, and then I explain why and you have this extreme response. Not good at having a valid argument, you just call people a doody-head and how can you even sleep at night, it’s because the fairy tale will protect you. What did you think would happen when you expose your beliefs to rational people?

        • Brandon Roberts

          look it was only out of anger and i do apologize but calling someones beliefs fairy tales and insulting them makes them mad but i’ll pray for you

        • Kodie

          Your apology is really unnecessary. Praying for me won’t actually affect anything. You came over to proclaim your beliefs and surprised at how you are received. There is no evidence for your beliefs and don’t expect respect for having them. Your testimony is not evidence for anything other than your own thoughts in your own brain. What do you want, congratulations? You are superstitious, congratulations, I’m so happy for you?

        • Brandon Roberts

          what i want is the freedom to come onto a blog and be allowed to give my opinion without being insulted and if you went onto a christian blog and proclaimed i’m an atheist there might be some that would argue you but most would probaly leave you alone and if you go by evidence how can you prove god does not exist the most you could be on evidence alone is agnostic i’m not saying believe in god i’m saying if you think evoloution is infallible why don’t you look up evoloution vs. creationisim on fair unbalanced website or book

        • Kodie

          Which is it, fair or unbalanced? Creationism or Intelligent Design (which is creationism) is built on propaganda – a poor idea how the scientific method works, combined with a motivation to persuade followers. They match by force scientific discoveries so they fit their preconceived notions and discard everything else. They want so bad to be legitimate, and sorry, this is another example of you being foolish to believe them. Be skeptical, and regard who is trying to persuade you and why. By the way, those sites call you stupider than atheists think you are. They think you are stupid enough to believe them, they are depending on it. Don’t be so gullible, you read creationism vs. evolution from a site that’s not trying to make you believe creationism. You obviously have bought into their dishonesty and know that evolution sites are “lying” to you to break up your beliefs. Guess what? That’s just a common side effect. If your beliefs are solid and intact, nothing should be able to destroy them.

          Put it the other way, I can read creationism sites and it doesn’t destroy what I already accept as true. It is funny to read what people believe, and can they possibly be grown-ups who live and work among us? OH MY GOD. That’s the hard part.

        • Brandon Roberts

          good point but you see i meant a non creationist/evoloution website that just looks at the facts side by side and yeah you already admitted you’ll never change your mind and i probaly won’t either oh and btw your beliefs sound equally stupid to us kay

        • Kodie

          That goes back to how little you actually know. Sorry. You believe in sky fairies saving a part of you that is not anatomically present, forever and ever, from the sky. That is plain horseshit. If you can’t take that criticism, you don’t belong out of the house.

        • Brandon Roberts

          yeah i can take that criticisim and i was simply pointing out a fact and please leave me alone and i will leave you alone have a happy life and good frickin bye

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

          You don’t get to pick choose your science, particularly as a non-scientist. You are happy to acknowledge that the science behind your computer and the internet are valid, but the biology that has been well-tested for 150 years isn’t valid somehow since it steps on your theological toes?

          When you have a childish attitude toward reality, don’t be surprised when you get insulted.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok 1.real nice 2. fine but your right 3. evoloution does not really disprove god so that’s a problem with your theory behind why i don’t accept evoloution. 4. GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i don’t believe in evoloution big deal just because you believe in 1 science thing does not mean you have to with everything. and i’m sorry if i offend you but if you look at history. skeptics have a way of being proven wrong so with all due respect mind your own damn buisness

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

          3. evoloution does not really disprove god

          No atheist imagines that it does. I’m simply insisting that you use science correctly. You’re in no position to pick and choose.

          i don’t believe in evoloution big deal just because you believe in 1 science thing does not mean you have to with everything

          You get to be Judge of All Science? Guess again.

          if you look at history. skeptics have a way of being proven wrong

          And … ?

          I assume you mean that science is sometimes wrong. Yes it is. What’s your point?

          mind your own damn buisness

          It is my business. When you come here and say something stupid, expect someone to point that fact out to you.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok sir so i never said i was judge of all science and skeptics have a history of being proven wrong that means that history was full of skeptics of thomas edison abraham lincoln etc. etc. all that meant is skeptics are somtimes proven wrong also i really just want to stop this because this could contuniue but it probaly won’t solve anything look lets just both go since we both have better things to do. and i’m not replying again so have a happy life good luck in your future goals bye

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

          i never said i was judge of all science

          Yeah, you kinda did. You’re happy picking and choosing what science is correct (quantum physics, for example) and what is false (evolution).

          it probaly won’t solve anything look lets just both go since we both have better things to do.

          Yes, you’re right. I’m simply putting a stone in your shoe so that you may someday realize that your anti-science stance is ridiculous.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok 1 more thing i never meant too and now it’s over

        • MNb

          “No atheist imagines that it does.”
          You’re wrong here. One argument goes like this: evolution disproves Adam and Eve as the ancestors of Homo Sapiens, if Adam and Eve are disproven christianity is disproven and if christianity is disproven all religions are disproven in a similar way. Then add that science and religion are compatible and there you are.
          Read Jerry Coyne and PZM for a while and they’ll present you this argument.

        • hector_jones

          Yes. Evolution disproves Christianity, although not God per se. There is a former pastor, for instance, who says that this realization about Adam and Eve via evolution was instrumental in his loss of faith. He had an essay on the subject at Dawkins’ site which I can’t find, alas.

          But this is why protestant christianity is so hostile to evolution, while catholicism just hand waves the problem by accepting a pseudo-scientific ‘guided’ evolution.

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

          OK, good point. I would still say that no one says that this proves that God doesn’t exist.

          Overwhelming evidence? perhaps so.

        • avalpert

          You don’t believe in evolution yet that has zero impact on the truth of the matter. That’s the difference between science and ‘faith’ – belief is irrelevant. The scientific evidence for evolution is abundant the only way not to ‘believe’ in it is to choose to be ignorant of it.

          So congratulations, you choose ignorance – and I am happy to let it go at that and mind my business, you are free to be as ignorant as you like but as soon as you go shouting your ignorance in a public forum you are fair (and easy) game and deserve the derision you receive.

        • Brandon Roberts

          yeah you win now go find something else to do and so will i

        • Norm Donnan

          No come back Brandon,they need you,their religion is denial and their authority is their own small minds and science is their holy book that they cherry pick from to make it say what they need it to say.What they need is the truth,and you have it.

        • avalpert

          “their holy book that they cherry pick from to make it say what they need it to say…”

          Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha… so precious, ha, ha, ha, ha. I meant they really can say that without a hint of irony, ha, ha ha, ha.

          You guys are too much – do you do stand up?

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

          No, they’re too busy doing kids’ birthday parties.

        • hector_jones

          I don’t want them anywhere near my kids.

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

          You can be the game changer here, Norm. Bring in some of your thoughtful Christians to show us the error of our thinking. There are plenty of blog posts on all sorts of subjects–surely there’s plenty to make a good, honest Christian’s blood boil.

          I mean, you certainly can’t do it. It’d be a nice change of pace if you brought in someone who could.

        • Kodie

          Brandon does not have any truth, he just too sensitive and basically incoherent to begin with, no wonder you think he’s a valuable asset to your side.

        • hector_jones

          Arguing with Norm is like arguing with a brick.

        • Kodie

          It is obvious he has no discernment, he will attach himself to any Christian who wanders in, whether or not they make an intelligible argument.

        • MNb

          “they need you”
          It’s correct that I need you, but for a totally other reason: you provide excellent unintentional hilarity. Take for instance this one:

          “What they need is the truth”
          I have been doing fine without it for several decades. And yes, I already see the next unintentional hilarity coming: you are going to provide a false dichotomy because 1) you don’t understand what I mean and 2) you are going to use the word “truth” in an ambiguous meaning.
          Now I sit back and wait if this prophecy will come true.

        • Norm Donnan

          So Mark,have you checked out the new Noah movie yet??
          You seemed very keen to know if you got to see Russell Crowe’s butt.
          Maybe we now know why your frustrated and lonely

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

          Ever wonder what Norm talks about when he’s out of ideas? Wonder no longer.

        • Norm Donnan

          Hey you run a blog on what you DONT believe in,is that because what you DO believe in is so unfulfilling and unconvincing.Me thinks your working on the premise that if you can prove it wrong to yourself you wont have to deal with the truth,WRONG.

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

          Y’know how Christians support each other when they go through periods of doubt? It doesn’t work that way with atheists.

        • MNb

          “Me thinks”
          Wrong assumption. You’re guilty of a lot of things, but not of thinking. Parroting, yes. Jumping to hasty conclusions, yes. Thinking, no.
          As this very comment of yours affirms.

        • MNb

          No, I haven’t seen it yet. If internet is friendly enough to upload the scene I probably won’t.

          “Maybe we now know …”
          Ah, now you’re an expert in internet psychology too. Of course it’s totally impossible that I’m just curious and honest enough (unlike you) to admit it.
          Hey, Norm, now we are talking about frustration, did you know that in the fundie States of the USA considerably more people watch internet porn (including gay porn) than in the enlightened ones? Suggests a correlation, don’t you think?
          Oh wait, I almost forgot. You only accept evidence when it suits you.
          About the loneliness: you hang as much around on this site as I do. Does your wife neglect you or do you neglect your wife? Run out of sciencey subjects, perhaps?

        • Norm Donnan

          Wow you say that like you believe it,you know there is a saying,”there are lies,damb lies,and statistics”.You can get a servey to say whatever you want it to.
          I am a bit lonely this morning,thanks for noticing Mark,but thats because my wife is in England at the moment so yes I am spending to long on the internet today but Ive enjoyed all you guys pleasent company.Having said that I must go to work.Gutntag

        • MNb

          “You can get a servey to say whatever you want it to.”
          Yes, creationists like you specialize in it.

        • MNb

          “because you believe in 1 science thing does not mean you have to with everything”
          Actually yes, you have to. Because all “science things” are investigated and formulated with basically the same method: methodological naturalism.

        • Kodie

          What is this incoherent pile of words? I get that you are angry, but the solution is to actually leave. How do you say “mind your own business” when you are writing on a blog to the owner of that blog? And Norm loves you! He has found a soul mate.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok that norm thing is pretty funny and look if you would all stop talking to me than i would leave kay

        • MNb

          I want to keep you, though not for reasons you’ll like, so I will keep on talking to you.

        • Norm Donnan

          They carnt do that,they are frustrated and lonely,Ive told Mark to hook up with Kodie,2 frustrated Dutchies…problem solved.

        • Kodie

          The more you talk, the less anyone has a reason to follow Christ, you know. You are just about the worst example of a life well led that I can imagine.

        • Norm Donnan

          you have taught me so well over thelast 2 years,well done

        • MNb

          So you are not even capable of taking responsibility for your own life.

        • Brandon Roberts

          good one but i think mark has a girlfreind or wife

        • Kodie

          See Norm, Brandon pays attention. He is already a better example than you are.

        • Norm Donnan

          Had….now all he wants to know about the movie Noah is if you get to see Russell Crowes Butt,nudge,nudge,wink,wink

        • Brandon Roberts

          juicy

        • Kodie

          If you don’t like it here, just fucking leave. What power do you not possess with the grace of your god that you cannot just go away?

        • Norm Donnan

          My guess is he finds the topic and content interesting just some of the community caustic so why dont you just ignore him,you dont have to respond you know

        • MNb

          Has it occurred to you this applies to Brandon as well? Or is that too much asked from the precious few brain cells within your head that aren’t affected by creacrap yet?
          Damn, Norm, I should have gone to the supermarket half an hour ago. You’re so amusing that I can’t get myself to go, even with an empty belly.

        • MNb

          “You don’t get to pick choose your science, particularly as a non-scientist.”
          Does that only apply to the natural sciences? Especially the “as a non-scientist part”?

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

          Whatever sciences are well supported by evidence and for which there is a consensus.

        • MNb

          And you are the judge of what constitutes “well supported by evidence”? Sounds like Brandon to me. If not, who is?

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

          Huh? Who said anything about individuals deciding their own reality?

        • Norm Donnan

          Iys lucky we get to choose creation that is backed up by fully qualified scientists as well who totally disagree with evolution.
          For Bob to be comparing evolution with computers is sad.
          Having said that a 10yo computer is like a dinasour,now thats evolution I can believe in not like the fairy tale that they assure themselves is true.

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

          Halfway through parsing this gibberish I got bored.

        • hector_jones

          Hah! The same thing happened to me. I was parsing my way through Norm’s last comment to me and then I just thought to myself “wtf am I doing?” and gave it up as a waste of my time.

        • MNb

          Then leave Norm to me. I love him – in a nasty way, of course.

        • hector_jones

          He’s all yours.

        • Norm Donnan

          Oh no ….dont leave Hec,Mark wants you to stay really….dont you Mark?…put that riding crop away Mark

        • hector_jones

          You are much funnier when you talk about your christian beliefs.

        • MNb

          Sorry Norm, you are in no position to tell me what to do – what to put away – and what not. Actually it’s better for me if Hec leaves you to me – then I can have more fun with you.

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

          Leave the humor to the experts, please.

        • Norm Donnan

          Humour,you mean Mark was jokeing ? darn.

        • Norm Donnan

          Ha,tie me up and spank me will you Mark,Oh you nasty,nasty boy you are….Gggrrrr

        • Norm Donnan

          As I often do with yours Bob

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

          The difference, of course, being that my stuff is pretty much in coherent English.

        • hector_jones

          Whereas Norm’s stuff is pretty much incoherent English.

        • Norm Donnan

          Yes ,yes it is.That doesnt make it right

        • MNb

          Incoherence like yours makes you automatically wrong, though.

        • Norm Donnan

          Whats that ,I dont understand what you mean!!

        • MNb

          Yeah, that happens when your brain is infected with creacrap. It’s a serious disease that harms cognitive skills, as you show over and over again.

        • MNb

          Then why do you reply so often? Let me guess – you’re on a mission for your god. Is not going too well, is it? Looks like your god doesn’t support you enough. Why could that be?

        • avalpert
        • MNb

          Excellent movie. They got more support from above than Norm.

        • avalpert

          Agreed, excellent movie.

          But hear me out here, maybe this is the evidence Norm has been looking for to prove Islam is the one true path to Allah.

          Isn’t it likely, nay a near certainty, that John Belushi’s untimely death was Allah’s punishment for him making Catholicism look presentable? And given that that is a near certainty isn’t it even more likely that James Belushi’s baffling ability to ride the coattails of his dead, much much more talented, brother was Allah’s punishment to America for allowing Christianity to be our dominant religion?

          I ask you, is it not the obvious Truth that the only lesson one can draw from the cruel fate of the Belushi brothers that Islam is the one true religion?

        • MNb

          I think Norm is more qualified to answer your very important and totally relevant questions than humble me.

        • MNb

          “fully qualified scientists”
          Yeah, a lawyer like Philip Johnson and bloggers like the IDiots from Seattle are fully qualified. Nothing qualifies you as much to dismiss the most successfull theory science ever has produced as not actually studying it.
          I can’t help myself repeating: totally convincing as always, Norm.

        • avalpert

          Here you go fair and unbiased – maybe you will actually learn something: http://www.talkorigins.org/

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

          Wait … yeah, but what if that doesn’t support the beliefs that he already knows are true?

        • avalpert

          Well then, in good Catholic style he can reframe his beliefs to fit the new information and pretend that is what he believed all along as if it doesn’t call into question anything else about his dogma.

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

          Use some periods, please.

          Just like in any gathering, people will respond to foolish thinking in different ways. Yes, sometimes you’ll get insulted.

          I’ve been on Christian blogs. I’ve been insulted. No, it doesn’t happen only on atheist blogs. (The difference, at least in my experience, is that the thoughtful atheist comments get insults in return at some Christian blogs, while the foolish Christian comments get insults at the atheist blogs.)

          You’re right–I can’t prove that God doesn’t exist. I have no intention of doing so. I also can’t prove that unicorns don’t exist, but, given the lack of evidence in favor of the hypothesis, I assume they don’t. Ditto for your god.

          As for agnostic, I call myself an agnostic (that is, I don’t know). I also call myself an atheist (that is, I have no god belief).

          No one, particularly biologists, say that evolution is the perfect truth. The problem for laymen like you and me is that we have no option but to accept the scientific consensus as the best approximation to the truth that we have at the moment.

        • MNb

          “what i want is the freedom to come onto a blog and be allowed to give my opinion without being insulted”
          You might consider finding yourself another blog if the customs on this one make you feel insulted. Internet is huge.

        • Norm Donnan

          You have to realize Brandon that your dealing with a lot of lonley people,locked in their apartments who dont get out much and dont have the pleasure of a Christian community to associate with so the derision they pour out on you releases some of that tension.Take Mark as a good example below.

        • Brandon Roberts

          thank you so wish me luck

        • Kodie

          You have to realize, Norm, that you are a judgmental piece of shit who is only here to troll, and that this is a discussion group amongst literate adults. Please try to be one.

        • Norm Donnan

          Yes I can see the “Adults”your talking about,more like school children who sook and cry and name call those who would dare disagree.You may (or may not)be literate but that doesnt make you act adult,of which your a good long term example.

        • Kodie

          You get along with Brandon, you saw another Christian and that’s all that matters to you. Talk about lonely and starved for companionship.

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

          You’re going to compare the completeness of Christians’ lives with those of atheists? You may want to think twice.

        • MNb

          I love you, Norm. I really do. Here in my town I can choose between a protestant (Moravian Brotherhood) community, an RCC, a baptist community, some evangelical community, a Kingdom Hall, two different muslim denominations (four mosques) and a buddhist community. Most of them (I kind of distrust the evangelicals, as they seem to be inspired by American fundies, though the Moengonese evangelicals I happen to know are very nice too) are very nice people. If I look thoroughly I might find myself some hindus as well.
          Btw I don’t live in an apartment. My house looks a bit like this:

          http://www.info-suriname.com/suriname/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Bruinzeelwoning.jpg
          You’re wrong as almost always. But what can we expect from someone who is used to premature conclusions and logical fallacies like you?

        • hector_jones

          Brandon, I really think you would do yourself a favor by just staying out of atheist blogs. No disrespect is intended, but you just don’t have the chops for it. Sorry.

        • Brandon Roberts

          your right tell you what i’ll do some research fair and unbiased then i might return

        • avalpert

          Man, even your insults are inherently contradictory. If I’m coming across as such a dick how small could it be?

        • Brandon Roberts

          look it’s only cause i want you to go on qo christian blog and insult somebody else and i try but there’s no point

        • avalpert

          Isn’t amazing in the computer age how easy it is to multitask – I can insult an ignorant Christian here and on a Christian blog all at the same time.

        • Without Malice

          I went to a Christian blog just a couple of days ago. They didn’t like what I said. But most of their venom was directed towards other Christians who didn’t belong to the “right” church.

        • Brandon Roberts

          yeah some christians are like that and i was a lot different person back then. i think i was just pissed and taking out my frustrations on them not right but sometimes shit happens. every group has it’s assholes atheists have reddit atheists cult of dusty and the amazng atheists muslims have isis and the boston bomber you get the point

        • Without Malice

          Paul was never a Roman soldier. We actually know less about Paul than we do Jesus, so trying to prove Jesus by Paul is rather ridiculous. We do know that the Ebonite’s and whoever wrote the Clementine Recognitions thought he was responsible for the death of James the Just,

    • Brandon Roberts

      the problem was there was an extremely heavy stone blocking the door and the saints refused to repent when they were being brutallly killed and sacrificed everything they had for jesus (well their faith in him) i’m not saying that proves he was the son of god i’m just saying it seems weird that they would go for that if they were not convinced

      • avalpert

        the problem was that you fell for a tall tale, a myth, a story no truer than Babe the Giant Blue Ox.

        • Brandon Roberts

          disprove god to me you can’t use any of the 3 things 1. evoloution(since that does not disprove theisim) 2. your opinion 3. bad things happen in the world.

        • avalpert

          disprove leprechauns to me without using any of those three things either…

        • Brandon Roberts

          i can’t disprove it but the problem is not i believe in a fairy tale the problem is 1 word arrogance i know there’s a chance i could be wrong you however cannot believe that you could be because of how cocky you are.

        • avalpert

          Ha, ha, ha – that’s classic. Yes it is the people who don’t privilege their fairy tales over the multitudes of others that have developed around the world that are being arrogant.

          You are right about one thing, there is chance you could be wrong – in fact about a whole host of things you have said on this blog it is a 100% chance.

          Now go worship those leprechauns…

        • Brandon Roberts

          i wish you a happy life and all your dreams come true i could whine back than i would not be doing any good good bye and please leave me alone

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

          Do you realize that you could be wrong? If that’s so, I applaud your humility. Many Christians wouldn’t say that.

        • Brandon Roberts

          yes i do

        • MNb

          That’s laudible indeed. The fun thing is that your “so you can’t explain that it’s proof enough for me” for me is proof enough that god doesn’t exist.
          See, you can’t explain how an immaterial entity like your god interacts with our material world.

        • avalpert

          I’m sorry, that wasn’t fair of me – you can use 1 and 3

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

          As has been pointed out, the burden of proof is on the Christian’s shoulders. The default assumption is that the supernatural doesn’t exist. I’m obliged to believe in it when it has been shown to be likelier than not (and not until).

        • Brandon Roberts

          iv’e seen the supernatural iu’ll give you 3 examples
          1. when i was 7 years old i had just woken up and ran into the front room than i heard a disembodied little girls voice saying are you my daddy can you help me find my daddy etc. etc. and i ran into my moms bedroom she told me it was just the enemy trying to scare me (she actually is a great mom i just thought you should know i have good parents)
          2. i had gotten out of the bathroom i saw a vaugely human figure run out of the kitchen and disappear into thin air
          3. for the longest time i saw the disembodied eyeless head of a baby watching me sleep/lay in my matress it disappeared after awhile. can you explain that.

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

          Weird things happen.

        • Brandon Roberts

          so you can’t explain that it’s proof enough for me

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

          Weird things happen so therefore God exists? That seems to be a bit of a stretch. I think God can do a lot better than that. I recommend that you hold out for better evidence as well.

        • Brandon Roberts

          oh no that does not prove god but the supernatural and why don’t you just ask god if he’s real to make you it’s up to you what it is but you never know unless you try

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

          Already done. Read about the atheist prayer experiment.

        • MNb

          Well, if “your opinion” can’t disprove god then your opinion about the supernatural isn’t worth anything either.

        • Brandon Roberts

          yeah but still these are real experiences and my opinion is not worth anything everyones is the only time opinion is worth something is when somebody cares and even than it’s only worth a little bit

        • Without Malice

          Yes, but you wouldn’t like the answer.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok

        • Without Malice

          The existence of a being that may have got the universe started cannot be disproved, anymore than the existence of flying monkeys can be disproved. But since there are many mammals that can fly – different species of bats – and others that can glide through the air for great distances – flying squirrels and such, I’d say that the existence of flying monkeys is more likely.

        • MNb

          “cannot be disproved”
          Depends on how you define “proof”. An immaterial entity by definition can’t interact with our material reality (because the only ways to do so is by material means and following material procedures) and hence cannot have got the universe started. That’s good enough proof to me.

        • Brandon Roberts

          this was a long time ago i’m agnostic now

      • MNb

        “there was an extremely heavy stone blocking the door ”
        What’s your source? Your big fat thumb? Or the big fat thumb of someone else?

        • Brandon Roberts

          i should do more research. sorry for assuming things

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

        Uh, dude, it’s a story. Religions all have fantastic supernatural story. You don’t have to believe them, OK?

        • Brandon Roberts

          i know so please stop replying to me for i spend far too much time here and have a nice life

      • Without Malice

        And Jews died in thousands of times the number for their belief that Jesus was not the promised messiah. So, what does that prove? Do you really expect the Jews to believe that some guy wandering around the hills of Judea, talking in riddles, cursing fig trees, doing a few tricks here and there, pissing on the ground and taking a dump behind a rock was the God of the universe whose name was not even allowed to be spoken because it was so holy? The God of the Jews was a universe builder, not someone who did cheap magician tricks. According to Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ own family thought he was mad. Isn’t that a little strange. I mean, here God in the flesh lives with his family for over thirty years, and instead of seeing signs that he’s really something special, they think he’s nuts. And since Jesus sinned a grievous sin when he declared all foods clean in opposition to the law God had give, he was in reality no less without sin the we are.

  • Retro

    Reading the basic “facts”, the Disciples ALL ran away at Jesus’ arrest. Peter does catch up at some point to hang outside where Jesus is being questioned, but after denying Jesus three times, he takes off too.

    We read later that they are all hiding out together in a closed and locked room.

    How the hell do we know that the Disciples didn’t simply assume that Jesus would be crucified, and so they were shocked to see him alive again three days later when Jesus was released safe and sound from custody after Pilate found no reason to hold him any longer?

    All the rest of the details could simply be embellishments added to fill in the gaps, as (depending on what Gospel you read), the Disciples weren’t there to see any of it.

    Think about it, you can’t really be an eyewitness to something you didn’t see. So if they all didn’t see a DEAD Jesus, then they simply can’t be witnesses of a RESURRECTED Jesus.

    • Pofarmer

      Well, That theory is as reasonable as any, but why wouldn’t you then have a continuation of Jesus personal ministry? Pilate put a restraining order on him?

    • wtfwjtd

      The gospel of John was added to the other gospels as an attempt to plug the very holes in the Jesus story that you are pointing out here. The anonymous writer plants a “mystery disciple” at several places in an attempt to claim that the events were indeed eyewitnessed by one of the disciples. The problem, of course, is that a careful analysis shows this can’t be John, as most Christians assume. And since there were only supposed to be 12 of these guys, the question still remains: who was he? This works as a literary trick, and doesn’t actually hold up to scrutiny.
      A guy called TruthSurge on YouTube does a good analysis , and uncovers the deception quite nicely. It’s near the end of a series called “Excavating the Empty Tomb”, which is a marvel in and of itself. Enjoy:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv8sR9vJ6Nw

      • MNb

        “This works as a literary trick”
        Always a good starting point when reading ancient texts. One of the first questions must always be: what was his agenda? This question is only a sign of distrust because of our modern obsession with separating fact from fiction, something the Ancient authors either wouldn’t understand or think totally silly.

      • Pofarmer

        Yep. Much the same way II timothy is trying to plug holes in later christian theology.

  • Brandon Roberts

    look i believe in jesus as the savior

    • avalpert

      Thanks for sharing, be sure to let us know when (if) you stop believing in childish fairy tales.

      • Brandon Roberts

        ok let me know when you stop being stephens hawkings lemming you a-hole……what it’s ok for you to call my beliefs fairy tales but it’s not ok when i insult you back and in my opinion evoloution is no more stupid than scientlogy evoloution oops sorry. but seriously that does not work that just makes us offended and more likely to believe what you don’t to make you mad. p.s i apologize for equating your beliefs to scientology.

        • avalpert

          Ain’t it adorable when the little fantasy boy gets his feelings hurt.

          Like I said, when you leave the fairy tales behind maybe you can discuss grown up issues like reality – maybe you will then be able to understand the difference between a human physicist and a make believe deity or the difference between scientific reality and science fiction – one is useful to the world and the other breeds religion…

        • Brandon Roberts

          this is extremely offensive thank you ‘kind, sir and you don’t mess with the lost boy sheep

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

          You’re getting a bit of tough love. If you want to sit at the grownups’ table, you need to learn about things before judging them–evolution for example. Also, an understanding of Christianity as just one more religion would be helpful. I’ll grant that it could be true, but just because you’re a reflection of the Christian environment in which you grew up is no evidence for its truth.

        • Brandon Roberts

          look it was only because he won’t stop comparing my beliefs to fairy tales and i am FED UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i don’t have to take him insulting me lying down and don’t bring my parents into this

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

          I said nothing about anyone’s parents. I’m saying that you can be taken seriously as someone who has worthy ideas, but you need to earn that reputation.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok that’s beyond fair but that guys opinions are worth more than mine cause he agrees with you i don’t think you actually believe that nor am i accusing you sir

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

          We have lots of smart atheists around here, and I love ’em. What I’d like to see more of is smart Christians. The atheists point out lots of things that I hadn’t thought of, and this blog is much better for it.

          But think of how much better still it would be with smart Christians pointing out my mistakes.

        • Brandon Roberts

          good point

        • avalpert

          It is a good point, why is it that none of the smart Christians post here and all you seem to get are these easy targets?

          It’s not like smart Atheists aren’t posting on the catholic patheos sites – why don’t they return the favor?

        • Jess Grew

          why is it that none of the smart Christians post here and all you seem to get are these easy targets?

          Maybe it’s because it’s painfully obvious that this blog is a booger-flicking circle jerk where some witless ex-gym teacher presides over his peanut gallery of antisocial cyber bullies, and smart Christians have better ways to waste their time?

        • avalpert

          Ah, so then I can take it by you not only reading the blog but following the comments and taking the time to reply you either aren’t a smart Christian or are the one who doesn’t happen to have any better ways to waste their time?

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

          avalpert may have pegged you. Or maybe you’re that rare smart Christian who can show us the error of our ways.

          With that happy thought in mind, let me encourage you to point out the errors in this or any blog post. I’ve been corrected before, and I appreciate that. Perhaps you have something to contribute? Or are you just here for the circle jerk?

        • Norm Donnan

          Well said Jess,not true for all but spot on for a few.

        • Norm Donnan

          There are none as deaf as those who dont want to hear

        • Without Malice

          Do you actually know your parents?

        • Brandon Roberts

          yeah

        • MNb

          So you don’t know the differences between believing and accepting scientific theories?
          One – the most important, but not the only one – is called empirical evidence. There is zero empirical evidence for Jesus as the Savior (there is for Jesus the human messias claimant, though not everybody accepts it) and a lot for Evolution Theory.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok than i still believe jesus the savior and i still don’t believe in evoloution i want to know if you know your right. why do you need me to accept it and darwin was a respected scientist in the 1800s when science was well not the best and he spent 40 years trying to train earthworms i’m not making that up

        • avalpert

          Ha, ha, ha – you are a riot. Yeah he was training them to worship him as a god, not conducting scientific experiments demonstrating that the worms were deaf and blind yet reacted to direct vibrations among other things. I mean, earthworms, why would scientists bother themselves with something so integral to the development of fertile soil – oh, wait.

          Well, I mean it is true 19th century science is so far behind where we are today how could anyone believe in any science from then. Oh yeah, I forgot – science has continued to develop since then and evolutionary theory has become more developed, precise and factually understood and yet not a bit of the new evidence since then has pointed to divine creation, on the other hand it has strongly confirmed the existence of evolution by natural selection, common descent, etc…

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

          Who cares what Darwin said? Evolution is based on modern thinking, regardless of whether that matches up with what Darwin thought.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok i was just saying so thanks for clearing that up for me

        • Without Malice

          Darwin is still a respected scientist. One of the most highly respected in history and his theory is every bit as important as Einstein’s theories.

        • Without Malice

          Oops, I forgot to add that Darwin did indeed do one of the most insightful studies of earthworms ever done. Which is pretty damn spectacular considering that we owe earthworms a great deal of gratitude for producing most of our fertile soil.

        • hector_jones

          You are extremely confused if you think all of science rests on what Stephen Hawking thinks. And calling someone an ‘a-hole’ after whining elsewhere about the childishness of name-calling just makes you look childish and petty.

          Do you actually have anything to say or are you just here to get your feelings hurt when people tell you that they find your beliefs foolish?

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok i don’t think it does and if this were you you would do the exact same thing. and i was here to see what the person had to say. and of course it hurts my feelings why aren’t i allowed to get offended.

        • Without Malice

          And we should care that the truth offends you, why exactly?

        • Norm Donnan

          Hey do you remember the well know quote from Hawkings that the most amazing thing he has learnt from science is that everything come from stardust,HA,an exploding star created everything.Oh and he’s a scientist so he should know,HAHAHA

        • Brandon Roberts

          yeah i know yet he never says where the star came from

        • Norm Donnan

          Maybe God sent it and thats how evolution started,what does confuse me is how did the dust turn to the water that covers 70% of the earth???Must have been ice dust!!!

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

          If you’re confused, the answers are out there, Norm. Get out of your anti-scientific bubble and embrace reality.

        • Without Malice

          You see Norm. there’s this thing called chemistry. Different elements, under the right conditions, link up to form molecules of different substances. And yes Norm, there is ice dust in outer space.

        • Without Malice

          Uh, Brandon, we have pictures of stars forming. The process of star formation is very well known. Thanks to science, not religion. There is not one, not one scientific principle contained in the entire bible. It’s all myth, legend, lies, and yes, fairy tales.

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

          You mean the well-known quote from Sagan that we are all star stuff?

        • Norm Donnan

          It was on Friendly Atheist attributed to Hawkings.

      • Norm Donnan

        Hey there was a post on lovejoyfeminism calledplease stop saying these things”by Ed Brayton.One was compareing Christianity to fairy tales.His point was it makes atheists look like childish dicks which you do so often.

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

          Yeah, good point. You’ve given us so much evidence that that comparison is silly now.

          Oh, wait … no, I must be thinking of someone else. Sorry.

        • Norm Donnan

          Leave the humour to the experts didnt you say Robbie???

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

          It’s sarcasm. At least I don’t talk about asses.

        • Norm Donnan

          Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit they say,a bit below the belt you might say,and whats below the belt Bob???

        • avalpert

          Good for him? Never heard of the guy.

          No, I get it, its not nice to insult people for their ignorance and using the word childish is wholly unnecessary and just rubbing salt in their bruised egos. But, there is no reason to humor them and their fairy tales particularly when they use those fairy tales as the basis for downright bad laws and morals that they try to foist upon the rest of the world.

          So, understanding that I’m not going to humor your ignorance but accepting that I want to point it out to you in the least offensive way possible – in the future which term would you prefer I use:
          Fairy tales
          Myths
          False religion
          Make believe stories
          Ignorant fantasies
          Fictional stories
          Dangerous lies
          Age old sham…

          Or do you have any other suggestions?

        • Norm Donnan

          How about what Bambi’s mother taught Bambi… “if you carnt say anything nice,say nothing at all”.
          Such a wise old dear.

        • avalpert

          Um, Norm I hate to break it to you but Bambi’s mother wasn’t real either.

          But seriously folks – yeah that’s a load craps. Sometimes the truth isn’t nice, still needs to be said. Maybe if you kept it to yourself and didn’t try to use it to impose on others we can leave you in your little corner but if you insist on bringing the nonsense out in public discourse then it needs to be said.

        • Norm Donnan

          NNNNNNOOOOOO,your a liar,I actually saw her on The Wonderful World of Disney.
          So what are you imposing on others?aborting children is ok?
          Same sex marriage?Evolution is fact?
          Soon it will be Christians arnt allowed to meet together.
          Pedophiles really just love children,who are we to judge?
          Oh no it will never happen,go back 50 years and they would be shocked at what is thought of as “normal” now.
          There,it had to be said.

        • avalpert

          “So what are you imposing on others?” nothing

          “aborting children is ok?” I haven’t imposed a single abortion…

          “Same sex marriage?” nope, haven’t forced anyone to do that (or heterosexual marriage for that matter)

          “Evolution is fact?” you are going to have to blame reality for that one, sorry you don’t get to choose your own facts and all

          “Soon it will be Christians arnt allowed to meet together.”

          Oh, and the persecution complex shines through. Sorry, your right to associate is just as protected as homosexuals right to equal protection or a woman’s right to privacy. So that persecution dream of yours is going to have to remain a fantasy.

          “Pedophiles really just love children,who are we to judge?” So you don’t understand the concept of consent – I’m shocked.

          “There,it had to be said.”

          No it didn’t, we already were quite clear that you are an ignorant fool and no one needed to see your false equivocations to prove it any further.

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

          Aborting children? Who does that??

          Soon it will be Christians arnt allowed to meet together.

          Show me an atheist who wants that. I’m against that as strongly as you are.

        • Norm Donnan

          Bob doesnt rule the world,go to China or Russia to see how atheism controls religion.

        • Rudy R

          Atheism doesn’t control religion in the US, so what’s the worry?

        • Norm Donnan

          The US isnt the world,there are a lot of other people that do have their lives servearly curtailed as a result of being under an atheist government.
          Even so in the US atheism is working overtime to conciously reduce the influence of Christianity.On the friendly atheist blog Metha has often been encouraging atheists to be on councils,school boards ect to influence decisions.

        • MNb

          Well, now Norm’s truth comes out. He doesn’t like atheists to exercise their fundamental human rights.
          Thanks, Norm. Not that anyone is surprised.

        • Norm Donnan

          Ha,its the atheists always bitching and moaning,”hey that word war 2 memorial in the form of a cross,IT HAS TO GO”
          Fundamental human rights heros.

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

          So a town memorializing its war dead with a sculpture with some other religious symbol would be OK with you? A Wiccan symbol or a Satanist symbol?

          I’m amazed that you’re so flexible.

        • hector_jones

          And it’s publicly funded memorials in the US, a country that insists on the separation of church and state in its constitution, where atheists argue against christian memorials that are publicly funded in some way. They aren’t arguing against non-publicly funded memorials.

          And they aren’t doing any of this ‘bitching and moaning’ about the cross on war memorials in countries that don’t separate church and state. So Norm’s left a lot of the facts out of his comment.

        • MNb

          In Europe there are no atheists who object publicly funded memorials in the form of a cross. At the other hand there are no christians who object publicly funded memorials in any other form either. It’s a compromise everybody can live with, hence nobody gives a damn.
          Europeans prefer to just commemorate and when they do nobody asks your ideas about god. I have been at commemorations several times at different places and you may shoot me if I can remember whether there was a prayer or not. In Europe commemorations are meant to unify, not to discuss god.
          The difference is that European christians understand this too.

        • Norm Donnan

          And thats how it should be,try telling that to your US counterparts.

        • Norm Donnan

          If the vast majoritory was Satanist at the time it would be.Thats democracy fo you.
          Do you see Wiccan symbolism displayed in the middle east or anywhere for that matter?

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

          Why would anyone want a memorial with a cross? Because there are Christians, and the cross is their religious symbol.

          Ditto for the Wiccan symbolism.

          If the vast majoritory was Satanist at the time it would be.Thats democracy fo you.

          Oh, is that the way the game is played? So when the fraction of Christians in a European country, say, drops below 50%, you’re completely in support of any abuse the majority chooses to heap on them?

          Not me. Maybe that helps distinguish our moral thinking.

          As for what democracy is, the U.S. isn’t a democracy. It’s a republic. And we have the Bill of Rights (and other laws) to make sure that the majority doesn’t tyrannize a minority.

          “It’s a democracy!” is kind of a schoolyard taunt. Tell me how it works in Australia if you’d like, but it don’t work that way in the U.S.

          Take a civics class and then get back to us.

        • Norm Donnan

          “So when the majority drops below 50% your in support of any abuse the majority chooses to heap on them”
          Wow…just wow,your usual,sharp reasoning Bob.
          Who said anyone has the right to abuse anyone else?
          What has a memorial to do with abuse?
          How does any memorial show my immoral thinking?
          There is more than two ways of thinking,if 50%+ wernt Christian,does that make them Anti Christian and does anyone ever hold a vote before they abuse anyone else?
          You do live in a democracy Robert,America is a democratic republic,back to civics school for you young man.

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

          Who said anyone has the right to abuse anyone else?

          Who was that knucklehead who said “If the vast majoritory was Satanist at the time it would be [OK to memorialize was dead with their symbols].Thats democracy fo you.”? Oh, I think it was you.

          I didn’t think that democracy had anything in particular to do with monuments, but if your “that’s democracy for you” did apply only to monuments, let me know. Otherwise, I interpreted your statement to apply to any majority opinion, not just about monuments.

          You do live in a democracy Robert

          Wrong again. It’s a republic. (Wait—didn’t I make that clear in my last comment? I thought so …)

        • MNb

          Shrug. I don’t have any problem with a WW-2 Memorial in the form of a cross. You’ll have a hard time finding you more than a handful of European and Surinames atheists who do. This is typically an American state-religion separation issue and it’s mainly a problem because American fundies – ie fundies like you – are so eager to abuse their rights and suppress the rights of others. Don’t believe me?

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14135523

          Exactly nobody in Europe gave a single damn. Hence nobody objects this either:

          http://www.maritimequest.com/misc_pages/monuments_memorials/scampton_village_church_war_memorial.htm
          http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-th-irish-division-memorial-cross-wytschaete-near-ypres-belgium-celtic-style-to-service-salient-western-image31722127
          http://www.ww1westernfront.gov.au/villers-bretonneux/visiting-villers-bretonneux/villers-bretonneux-military-cemetery.php#
          http://www.de-vierschaer-wouw.nl/moerstraten%20oorlogsmonument.html
          http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisernes_Kreuz_(Kl%C3%B6tze)

          Good job, Norm. Once again you’re an ignorant (fill in your favourite abusive term).

        • Norm Donnan

          You really need to get out more Mark,cruise other atheist blogs and see what their issues are.You will find it a common form of angst with your brethren.

        • MNb

          Of course, Norm. Facts like I presented just above are so inconvenient for a bigot like you. Possibly you didn’t even click any of the links. That’s totally you. Something must be true because you want it to be true.

        • Norm Donnan

          So as one bigot to another its also true because you saw it on the internet isnt it Mark? Or maybe you read it in a science mag!,or some random guy called Dr. Whatever told you it was at school. Me thinks your just a sucker for false infomation and pretty pictures which you so want to be true.

        • MNb

          Ah yes – the last resort of the bigot fundie: denial no matter what. Of course – the articles and the pictures are the result of fraud. Never mind that I actually have visited some war cemeteries, including one in Northern-France. Never mind that the sources are independent. It’s one big conspiracy against Norm, who always must be right with his god at his side.
          Thanks pathetic Norm, for killing off singlehandedly the last remnants of your credibility.

        • Kodie

          As Norm says, it’s an issue on atheist blogs that are American. The blogs are American, the issues are American, not all the posters may be. Often there is a monument placed on public property to a list of local people killed in a particular war and commonly with a Christian reference or symbol with no thought to be secular about their deaths, or whether or not the people listed were Christians. Christianity is presumed in many cases.

          Christians think that’s no big deal and we shouldn’t be offended by their symbols. Norm is one such Christian. Christianity is the generic brand of life, death, family, love, marriage, and law, and we’re supposed to agree and allow it. To do otherwise is to oppress their need to presume all citizens Christian, all soldiers Christian, all wars fought for Christianity, and all righteous and respectful people those wars are fought to protect are Christians. Nobody else matters. That’s the Christian’s way.

        • MNb

          Yes, I understand. If I were American I probably would be as radical too. My point is just that in Europe – where live more atheists than in the USA btw – there is a compromise on this that satisfies both atheists and christians. There is no cultural war on secularism in Europe (though the UK worries me). Hence European atheists don’t have any problems with christian symbols on war memorials.
          Norm though wants to blame atheists for the cultural war and at the same time implies that American atheist bloggers are representative for all atheists all over the world. You will understand that I take great issue with that.

          “That’s the Christian’s way.”
          Far, far less in Europe. I can show you a public park named after an important Dutch atheist build on the terrain of a former church. No Dutch christian who cares.

        • Kodie

          Another thing to remember is that Norm said both of these things to you:

          You really need to get out more Mark,cruise other atheist blogs and see
          what their issues are.You will find it a common form of angst with your
          brethren.

          So as one bigot to another its also true because you saw it on the internet isnt it Mark?

        • MNb

          Norm is very reliable when it comes to not making me forget, Kodie!

        • Norm Donnan

          You mean I had some Mark approved credability in the first place,that surprises me,thanks Mark.
          It seems though that you missed the point that even my old bestie Kodes picked up on that we were talking about American culture not european.
          Gutn tag Mark.

        • MNb

          It seems though that you missed that I addressed that very point in my very first reaction to your nonsensical comment. Here is what I wrote above:

          “This is typically an American state-religion separation issue.”
          And that’s what you proceeded to contradict.
          My sincere love, you reliable lying fundie.
          Ook goeiedag.

        • Rudy R

          It’s about time Christianity has competition for ideas.

        • Kodie

          How would you have it? That Christians have totalitarian dominion over the government? Shouldn’t we all have the right to be on a school board? You would like us to have all our freedoms curtailed by being under a Christian government, and you don’t like that we exist. You are actually saying that it’s fair for everyone if Christians have control over the government. Why should we put up with that? Nobody’s trying to make your kids an atheist, but magical bullshit doesn’t belong in school and has no relevance in science.

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

          Poor baby. Christianity is only the #1 religion in the world. I can imagine how oppressed you feel.

          there are a lot of other people that do have their lives servearly curtailed as a result of being under an atheist government.

          There are a lot of people who have their lives curtailed because of overweight leaders. Or male leaders. But it’s not because they’re overweight or male that they’re hurting people. See how that works?

          In the case of China or N. Korea, they’re dictators. That’s the problem. The church is competition, so they make it illegal.

          It’s not so hard when you think it through.

          Even so in the US atheism is working overtime to conciously reduce the influence of Christianity.

          To reduce Christian excesses, yes. If no one was clambering for prayer in city council meetings or Creationism in public schools, I’d find a different hobby.

          On the friendly atheist blog Metha has often been encouraging atheists to be on councils,school boards ect to influence decisions.

          Yeah–to curb Christian excess!

          I’m sure it’s loads of fun being a martyr, but the facts simply don’t back you up, at least in the US. I don’t know how it works in Australia.

        • hector_jones

          First I’m going to need a time machine

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

          Uh, it’s dictators who don’t like religion.

          Let’s get our cause and effect straight. Atheists don’t become dictators and use their power to eliminate religion. Rather, dictators gain power and see religions as a threat and so suppress them.

        • Kodie

          Bob, you know Norm isn’t open to the truth. He’s been here a long time, he’s heard this explained before. It doesn’t fit in with his preconceived narrative where atheists are just sinners who want to sin and tell Christians what to do. He says those thoughts are original to him and affirmed by reading our posts, but it’s obvious he is seeing things through his dirty Christian lens – and he thinks we’re supposed to be nice to him because “sacred beliefs”. His beliefs are insulting and rude in addition to being wrong, but he insists this is the truth we’re not open to, and we’re supposed to be nice to him, which is why I called him a hypocrite.

          Norm, if you would just stop asserting things you believe without evidence, I mean, leave or present your evidence. Nobody cares what you wrongly believe about the evils of atheism, since you’re been shown how wrong you are. If you think you are right, please do the part where you present evidence, or don’t preach to us how nice we’re supposed to be to you. You’re a fucking idiot with no redeeming qualities, as Christian as you are, you’re just some asshole who thinks he knows more than people who have learned how to read. Without evidence, what you think and think you know is irrelevant to the purposes of discussion and are just open for ridicule. If that’s what you like, stop complaining when it happens.

        • Norm Donnan

          Unless of course they are Christian dictators as in the crusades then its “oh look at those Christians trying to take over the world”.
          When those dictators are atheist they are happy for your freedom of expression as long as your supportive and nice,yeah right.
          In denial as usual.

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

          Idea! Why don’t you respond to what I’ve actually said? I’ll bet that reduces the ire you get back from your correspondents.

          The world’s a mirror, pal.

        • MNb

          Last resort of the fundie: the strawman.

        • MNb

          In Russia christians are perfectly allowed to meet together. Oh, you meant the Soviet-Union. Well, stalinism had all the characters of a religion (deifying the leader for instance) and as we all know a religion in charge hardly ever is tolerant towards other religions. Still christians were allowed to meet.
          In China christians are allowed to meet as well. They only have to join the official church. Like everybody else who wants to organize something.
          That’s totalitarism for you, Norm. State controls everything. Including religion. Did you know who went to prison first in Russia, 1917? Anarchists – all of them atheists.

        • Without Malice

          And let’s not forget that the Russia church, like most churches everywhere, was just another arm of the ruling despots that sat on the throne due to the “divine right of kings”. An awful lot of those religious leaders also got snuffed out in Catholic France because the unwashed masses were sick and tired of their bull shit.

        • Kodie

          I think you don’t understand how imposition works.

          Abortion is legal, and embryos are not children. Christians impose on women to carry pregnancies to term based on weak religious arguments. Nobody imposes an abortion on anyone who doesn’t choose it.

          Same sex marriage is legal in 17 states so far. Marriage is a right by the government and licensed by the government. Christians try to impose on the government who they can and can’t give equal rights to because it says so in the bible. Nobody imposes marriage to anyone, regardless of what sex they are.

          Evolution is fact: Look, if we want to be competitive globally, we have to give our children a real education with real science. Just because Christians completely misrepresent and misunderstand what evolution is should not be a burden children have to deal with. Christians make up their own “science troo faks” and want to impose this on the public at large, or take their children out of public school. Nobody is stopping them from raising their own children the way that fits in with their religious beliefs.

          So far, these are 3 things that Christians intend to impose on the government because their religious beliefs should extend to everyone. It’s not enough for you simply to enjoy your religious laws amongst yourselves, you want to impose the government and all citizens to follow the bible. That would be a theocracy. If your religious beliefs were comforting enough, you wouldn’t need to change everyone else or enforce that they followed your religious laws.

          “Soon it will be Christians arnt [sic] allowed to meet together.” Oh, so just because you can’t impose your laws on us, we’re trying to impose atheism on you? Atheists have had to keep quiet for so long, giving Christians the illusion that we didn’t exist – for fear of our lives and livelihoods sometimes. Don’t give me bullshit about what you think we want. You have your religious freedoms to believe whatever bullshit I don’t agree with, you have your churches, and you can freely meet and raise your children in all the ignorance you like. It is in everyone’s best interest that those who believe continue to have the freedom to do so, and all we want is the same freedom to not believe, and enjoy identical protections and rights from our government, which you do not control. Your beliefs are between you and your god, if you believe he exists, and not for me to take away by forcing you to be secret about it. FOR THE LAST FUCKING TIME!

          “Pedophiles really just love children,who are we to judge?”

          Seriously? Children lack the capacity to consent to sexual relationships. We do impose laws against pedophilia. That is a sensible law. That does not come from the bible, it comes from public agreement that sex is an adult activity, and an adult having sex with a child is a crime against the child. FOR THE LAST FUCKING TIME!

          Oh no it will never happen,go back 50 years and they would be shocked at what is thought of as “normal” now.

          Yeah, because they were living in a Christian-imposed wonderland for Christians where you could freely ignore people’s rights and assume everyone had the same Christian values. You would be happier in a world where women had to get married and could be fired or not hired for jobs because they might get pregnant. You would be happier in a world where being gay was a crime and not openly celebrated with the same adult loving relation as marriage that heterosexual couples take for granted. If that’s not normal to you, you’re not normal to me. You believe in a fairy man in the sky who imposes laws on you and for some reason you think that means me as well. You would be happier in a world where atheists were quiet and never pointed out how ridiculous your beliefs are and how we don’t want your laws and especially not your version of “science” since they are irrational. You cannot continue to impose your version of reality on everyone else. You are like the dictator who can’t compete in the marketplace of ideas, so you want to eradicate these ideas and make everyone behave Christian if not believe. Nothing short of imposing Christian rules on everyone is good enough for you that you delude yourself into figuring laws that don’t consider Christian sensibilities must be trying to eradicate your religion.

          Nobody is imposing ours on you – you choose to come here, be hostile toward us, and can’t get the message. You hate atheists, you misunderstand and misrepresent atheism to our faces, and yet you want to be welcomed and respected here. You are coming here to impose your beliefs on people, to make claims without supporting evidence, and persist in saying false things about atheists. I don’t know where you get the motherfucking nerve to preach to us how we’re to talk to you.

        • Without Malice

          Sorry Norm, but evolutions is indeed a fact, one that cannot be scientifically denied. I’m not sure why you think it’s any of your business whether two men or two women marry each other, but it seems to get your panties in a bunch. Maybe it’s jealousy, who knows. And maybe all that shit had to be said because your heads so full of it some was just bound to leak out.

        • hector_jones

          She was indeed a wise old deer. Wiser than Jesus maybe.

          Speaking of whom, how’s he doing? Spoken to him lately?

        • Norm Donnan

          All the time Hec,He was saying just the other day,”You know me old mate Dave(name dropper)was right when he said,”the fool says in his heart there is no God”.
          So what is it HJ,is it just in your head that you deny God, or has it really gone to your heart??

        • hector_jones

          Just in mah head since that’s where Ah do all mah thinkins. Mah heart is fer pumping blood, not fer sayin stuff about Gahd.

        • Kodie

          Your religious beliefs are at direct odds with saying nice things to people. What you want is freedom to be an asshole because your religious beliefs, but you can’t take the criticism it deserves. Let’s talk about what atheism is for a second because I don’t think you understand.

          A- means “without”

          the means “god”

          -ism means “belief”.

          There would be no atheism if not for a prevalence of god-belief. Your expression of belief is many times very rude and anti-human. You see yourself as god’s proxy, to judge and hate and rule everyone, while god “does nothing”. Why should we respect that? It’s not simply that you have a silly belief, it’s that you use it like a weapon against fellow humans who have not got the same rich fantasy life as you do. Of course we have to say something, because it’s there. While I am at it, you have not said one nice thing about atheism since you decided to camp out on atheist blogs. You have continued to spread lies and say rude things even after you’ve been corrected. You made a nasty remark about atheists not leaving their apartments and being lonely, and that’s not even the rudest, falsest thing you said today about atheists or any individual atheist. You have a prejudice against atheists that you say you affirm by being here. You have no real purpose than to watch us continue to be wrong and pity us without doing a damn thing and being shitty at paying attention or reading, and you tell us we’ll be sorry we didn’t listen to you. Is you insulting atheists your mission in life? Is that how you hope to win converts?

          How about some evidence for your beliefs? Not providing evidence (not to mention actively withholding [what you’d call] evidence based on your low opinion of us) is possibly the rudest reason to hang out on a blog and still continue to post inane bullshit every chance you get. How about if you can’t say anything nice to US, stop showing up here, you fucking hypocrite.

        • Norm Donnan

          On the contrary Kodie,Ive said a number of times my education hasnt been at a high level,Ive apologised to you personally if Ive offended you,responded with kindness to your backwoods barmaid talk.
          So now I generally skip your comments and simply ignore you.
          You occasionally ,though rarely have something worthwhile to say but I dont care one iota what your opinion is of what I believe.
          What I suggest is ignore my comments,Im never going to meet with your approval and in no way will I be seeking it, we will never meet so we dont have to get along to make our lives work,so if I cause you so much angst,ignore me.
          Did you notice the first time you asked me a question that didnt contain an insult or attack in the three years Ive been talking to people here,I answered you with openness and honesty.
          Theres a hint there.

        • Pofarmer

          norm, you’re a real dick.

        • Norm Donnan

          Why??

        • MNb

          “At least have some integrity, you more than most would know what a twisted fruit cake Kodie has been,she is clearly un balanced(autism Ide say)

          “How about what Bambi’s mother taught Bambi…”
          That’s why you’re a (fill in your favourite foul term).

        • Norm Donnan

          so spank me,(or is that your fav term?)

        • Kodie

          You’re in denial if you don’t think our impatience has directly to do with your hostility.

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

          Ah, so you’re the one taking the high road. you make a claim, we ask for evidence, and then you provide it.

          Is that it?

        • Norm Donnan

          And how am I takeing the high road Robert?
          If you do want evidence you too will have to leave your little bubble .What I have suggested you simply dismiss as not worth your while.At least have some integrity, you more than most would know what a twisted fruit cake Kodie has been,she is clearly un balanced(autism Ide say) thats why I go easy on her,but you,all you can say is “oh your taking the high road”.

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

          And how am I takeing the high road Robert?

          OK—you got me. I have absolutely no evidence that you’re taking the high road.

          What I have suggested you simply dismiss as not worth your while.

          Oh? And what have you suggested?

          At least have some integrity

          Uh … good advice, I guess. Is this relevant, or are you just making conversation?

        • Snowflake

          Hi Mr Seidensticker. Pretty new to Pathos. I am thrilled to find blogs on atheism. It has been helping me a lot. Anyway, what is the deal with Mr Donnan? As a mom to a kid with autism, I don’t particularly like seeing unbalanced and autism in the same sentence. I know you can not control the trolls that show up, but what is his speciality? Does he also drown kittens?

        • Kodie

          His specialty is being a dope. He’s been banned a while now.

        • Snowflake

          Thanks. I think you are being very kind describing him as a dope. Part of me wants to track him down. An angry mom is not very pretty. It’s probably not worth it, though. Also, does he know anything about punctuation?

        • Kodie

          I can tell you he lives in Australia. I have come across people I’d say were worse than Norm, but maybe only as bad. It’s only in retrospect, you think, even Norm wasn’t as stupid as this dumbshit. Christianity seems to keep a large supply on hand.

        • Snowflake

          It seems. I’m mostly over my rage at all Christians, so I am able to appreciate the good ones I come across. Although the good ones do not have an agenda to push.

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

          I’d prefer to not have my stereotype of the typical ignorant Christian reinforced. Norm didn’t help.

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

          Off topic: what’s the buzz within Boston after the conviction of the marathon bomber? Is there a call for the death penalty? Or does MA not have one?

        • Kodie

          I am not hearing any buzz and my tv broke about 3 weeks ago.

        • Snowflake

          I believe MA has the death penalty or it wouldn’t be on the table. Many America’s that I personally know do not support the death penalty. Listening to NPR today, it seems as if other people are against the death penalty. I am also against the death penalty.

          America is a strange country, isn’t it?

          I hate what the bombers did. The images I have seen were terrible. But putting a little boy to death, not so good either.

          I hope I answered your question, but probably not.

          I think radical Americans would be happy with putting this kid to death.

          Sorry for the babbling answer.

          Bottom line, I do not think this kid will get the death penalty. I truly hope I’m right.

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

          In my youth I was pro-capital punishment. Now, not so much. Yes, it does expose a lot of debatable material.

        • Kodie

          I have been against the death penalty for as long as I can remember, because, to me, life is the harsher punishment. People who favor the death penalty think that is (a) the harsher punishment, and (b) can’t stand the thought of their taxes pumping resources to keep someone alive… kind of like their idea of the welfare queen. They are thinking of one person who cheats and not the thousands of people in need who are helped. In jail, they are thinking, what a cushy lifestyle, they get to watch tv all day, they get to play in the yard, maybe learn a trade. I suppose one gets used to it to some extent, but I don’t know, what is hell? American jails are hardly a 4-star resort, you can’t really make any plans if you are in for life. People treat life like some grand thing, life “on the outside” is hard and noble, trying to get somewhere every day, while some murderer is in prison getting all their needs taken care of, like they would trade places if maintaining a life and a family weren’t such an obligation. Let’s revisit that idea that without “morals”, without “god”, these people would just go criminal, like those slobs who get to go to jail.

          I think that is the real reason people are in favor of the death penalty – they know who is right and who is wrong, they know if they live, they might have plenty of time to find Jesus, and it’s their own judgment to prevent them from doing that. But I stand by, I think death is the quick end to punishment, while life without parole is worse. And I know I’m rather inhumane to come at it that way. People who are against the death penalty usually think exterminating someone is less humane, and if I were interested in a more humane punishment, then I would be in favor of the death penalty.

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

          My objection is in the danger of being wrong. The DNA project (not sure the name) estimates that 4% or so of death-row convictions are wrong. That’s a lot of people wrongly executed.

        • Kodie

          So they can stay alive in prison because they’re not cleared? I’m sure about 4% of prisoners who die of old age or something in prison are also wrongly convicted.

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

          I didn’t mean to say that the problem is gone. And if your analysis is correct, the problem is worsened. But the public is much more anxious about wrong executions as wrong life imprisonments.

        • Kodie

          Seems to me like the public doesn’t care that much. Dzokhar was guilty before trial, his brother Tamerlan was killed in the firefight, so they had to get their blood anyway. Given the testimony, he is also guilty, but without the testimony, people didn’t give a shit what was true. They didn’t “get” Tamerlan, and they seem to like to get their criminal murderers and terrorists alive so they can go to trial and then we can publicly punish and execute them. It’s not even enough that he killed people so he got killed in turn. We want them to know we know what they did and why we have to punish them.

          In general, I would say public opinion can’t be swayed by evidence. The days following the Marathon Bombing were buzzing with crowd-sourcing “evidence” from surveillance cameras over Boylston St., pinning guilt on anyone who looked disinterested in the crowd, innocent people whose pictures were posted publicly and on front pages of newspapers. It was also assumed the perpetrator(s) fled the area like a smart person would, and only Thursday evening of that week, we knew exactly who was confessed behind the bombing, as they went on a rampage police-murdering, carjacking, snack-running firefight that played out on live television, and locked down the city almost the entire next day. On foot, Dzokhar could have gotten to my neighborhood in less than 2 hours in the dark of night. I barely got away from Watertown an hour before they arrived Thursday night and ran some errands like nothing was going on for another hour or so.

          And for all we know, this is an unrelated crime, but they had confessed to the carjack victim, and only then, I believe, the surveillance of the marathon crowd revealed them.

          Once the public fixes on a guilty party, that person is guilty. If that person is found not guilty, they’re still guilty. People don’t even care if there is someone else “getting away with it,” since they got someone who is caught. If that’s what happens roughly 4% of the time, I don’t see a huge outcry about it.

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

          Welcome. I hope you stick around. I’ve heard that Patheos is the biggest site for atheism on the internet (I think I have that right).

          Mssr. Donnan is now in permanent timeout, but we get the occasional troll. I usually err on the side of diverse dialogue over peace, so we’ll just have to put up with the occasional nuts. But we also get civil Christians, and I appreciate their spending time here.

        • Snowflake

          Yeah. I think I’ll stick around. I feel safe here. I’m even learning to deal with trolls. Many of them are kinda foolish. However the ones in power are terrifying.

        • MNb

          “At least have some integrity, you more than most would know what a twisted fruit cake Kodie has been,she is clearly un balanced(autism Ide say)

          “How about what Bambi’s mother taught Bambi…”
          See what I mean?
          Nah, don’t think so.

        • Norm Donnan

          Oh your so right Mark how could I have missed your wisdom all this time,your such a sweetie

        • Kodie

          So it’s me who has autism and not you who is functionally retarded.

        • hector_jones

          I’m tryin to stay out of the Norm show as much as possible, because I feel kinda bad for the dude, but this comment made me laugh.

        • Snowflake

          I know this is a year later. Do you think people with autism are unbalanced?

        • MNb

          “I dont care one iota what your opinion is of what I believe.”
          How did that Bami quote go again? As always you are quick to give others advise and totally unwilling to follow it yourself. That’s why I like you, Norm. You are excellent anti-propaganda for your own belief system.
          Did you happen to read Daniel Fincke’s latest piece over at Camels with Hammers?

    • Without Malice

      Since it is logically impossible for anything to happen in a world created by an all-knowing and all-powerful being that is not in accord with his will, I’m a little curious as to what Jesus saved you from. Since your God would have known beforehand every last person who would make it to heaven, and every last person that would be sent to hell (excuse me; send themselves to hell for not believing stories that no one should believe without overwhelming evidence, which in the case of Christianity is never provided), this saving people from hell concept sounds highly dubious. And since your God could have easily created a world where all people always chose to do the right thing, even while possessing free will, that can only mean it was your God’s plan all along for most of the human race to end up being punished eternally for something which could easily have been avoided if he had only used his powers to make a little better race of people.

      • Julie Harkin

        My problem goes a bit like this……. throughout the bible, and history, people have made sacrifices to something that they consider to be a higher being/god/sky fairy…..anyway the Bible tells us that god sacrificed his son……which poses the question – to whom did god sacrifice his son? A higher ranked sky fairy than himself? Is there a heaven for good gods and a special hell for bad ones? Both overlooked by higher ranked deities. I’m confused by my own argument LOL. But it just shows how unbelievable silly the whole thing is when you pull it apart. Right that’s it – I’m going outside to hug a tree until I feel better…………

        • Pofarmer

          God impregnated a virgin with himself so he could make himself a sacrifice to himself.

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

          Yeah. Not confusing at all.

        • Pofarmer

          Perfectly reasonable method of salvation.

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know. You almost have to wonder. Did God have himself born, was preaching around to these backwoods assholes and not getting anywhere, and just said “Screw it, I’m going home, let the assholes rot down here. Hey! Pilot! Your momma was a Donkey!”

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

          Could be. God got frustrated and hit the Reset button before with the Flood.

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe he’s mellowing out with age.

        • Greg G.

          He’s gone from “build a huge ark out of gopher wood” to “go fer two pieces of wood and put them together”.

        • Julie Harkin

          He’s the god of raised beds and DIY

        • MNb

          Nono – he made the ultimate sacrifice: he gave mankind science, making himself superfluous and withdrew himself completely from our reality. Hence there is no better way to worship god than not believing.

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

          One vote for MNb as the not-pope of this new not-religion!

        • Greg G.

          Shall I ready the white smoke bombs?

        • Kodie

          The idea seems to be that god used to have high standards and was exceptionally disappointed in his creation, and then Christianity came to let everyone off the hook, by accepting (and making god accepting) that nobody is perfect, and he can’t expect so much from us, so he loves us anyway, and it’s all self-esteem medals for everyone. And they say atheists take the easy way out.

        • Ron

          Word has it Jesus got caught tagging “Romani ite Romum” (Romans go home) on the palace walls and yelled out “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!” when brought before Pilate.

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

    I’m surprised. That was a weak effort. I was expecting a stronger one from you, as you usually produce one.

    You basically hand-waved — it was a cult that got out of control, and within 40 years, the story changed so completely that Jesus was now resurrected from the dead, when no such thing happened. A myth/legend that somehow inspired billions of people across two millennia, and even spawned a massive second religion (Islam) that sees Jesus as a prophet and who will return.

    Something miraculous happening two thousand years ago actually fits the facts better.

    • Kodie

      To be fair, most of them were threatened with death.

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

      Gunnar: You’ll have to be clearer about the weakness of my explanation.

      I assume we agree that religions happen without the supernatural being behind them. Christianity was just one more.

      • ConservativeDog

        You cannot lump Christianity in with all other religions. All except a handful are based on a philosophical idea and make no claims of being inspired by the supernatural events and eye witnesses of that time. Christianity is the only religion that claims divine intervention and the bible was written by men through God’s intervention in their lives. Supernatural things happening that we can’t explain by a one true all know all seeing God is actually much more plausible than its a big hoax made up by a bunch of idiots. It would not have passed the test of time. Let me ask you one question – “Would you die for your faith or whatever you believe in if you knew it to not be true”.

        • Ron

          “You give me the awful impression of, I hate to have to say it, of someone who hasn’t read any of the arguments against your position, ever.”
          ~Christopher Hitchens

        • wtfwjtd

          “You cannot lump Christianity in with all other religions.”

          Well, sure we can. Unless, maybe, you can clue us in on the test that you use to determine that Christianity is true and all the other ones are false?

        • Greg G.

          The claims to divine intervention work against a religion. That there are more religious people who reject Xtianity and accept other religions shows that people are very susceptible to a religious hoax which makes your claim not so plausible.

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

          Christianity is different from other religions? The reverse is also true. That doesn’t make Christianity special; it’s just another supernatural belief groping for credibility.

          The eyewitness claim is a big deal within some Christian circles today, but the evidence to back that up is paltry. Ditto the “But who would die for a lie?” argument. I’ve written about both of these here. Let me know if you can’t find those posts.

          If you have evidence of the supernatural, I’d be interested in seeing it. Things we can’t yet explain naturally, yes. The supernatural? I’ve seen no evidence.

          I’ve never heard anyone claim that God is a big hoax.


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