Superman and Jesus: More Similar than You Might Imagine

Superman JesusRobert M. Price is both a biblical scholar and a critic of popular culture, and he is well qualified to compare two super-powered heroes who came to earth from another place, Jesus and Superman. One of his Bible Geek episodes compares these two superheroes and finds more similarities than you might expect.

You could argue that Superman is a Christ-like figure, but that’s not the topic here. Rather, the techniques Christian apologists use to conclude that the Christ story is historical would also lead historians to a similar conclusion about Superman.

Sifting out the historical core

There are Superman comics, radio shows, TV shows and cartoons, movies, and even novels and video games over a 75-year span, and the stories aren’t always consistent. Suppose a future historian is trying to make sense of this and decides to select just the uncontested facts. These might be: Superman comes from Smallville, was strong enough to lift a car, disguised himself as reporter Clark Kent, and so on. In the Superman canon, nothing contradicts these claims, so they must be historical, right?

We see the same thing with Christian apologists. They’ll take the natural elements of the gospel story and demand that they must be historical. Jesus was born, was crucified, was buried, and the tomb was later found empty. Who could argue with these? They must be historical.

Gary Habermas is well known for his minimal facts argument, that with just a handful of facts accepted by relevant scholars, the resurrection of Jesus is the obvious conclusion. (I’ve written more on this argument here.)

Or take the Testimonium Flavianum, the passage in the writings of first-century historian Josephus that gives a flattering account of Jesus. This is unlike anything a Jew like Josephus would write, and even many conservative scholars agree it isn’t authentic. Instead of rejecting it as an obvious forgery, however, they are determined to salvage what they can and imagine a toned-down original by Josephus that they can declare as historical. (More here.)

Support from extra-canonical evidence

If we take the comics as gospel, what extra-comical evidence is there for Superman? Plenty, given the numerous radio and TV series, movies, and other media. Indeed, Jimmy Olsen first appeared in a radio show to give Clark Kent or Superman an excuse to explain what he’s thinking. There are countless instances where Superman is referenced by journalists or ordinary citizens. For example, fans might debate whether a new story line is canonical or heretical.

We see the same thing in Christian apologetics. Some writings were declared heretical, like the writings of Marcion. Some books are canonical in some churches but not in others. For example, 1 and 2 Maccabees are canonical in the Catholic Church but not in Protestant churches. Apologists point eagerly to meager mentions of Christianity in the works of first- and early second-century historians.

Redaction, copyist errors, and deliberate changes

Superman originated with high school students Jerry Siegel (writer) and Joe Shuster (artist), but the entire canon is the result of many hands—other comic writers and artists, TV and movie screenwriters, radio scriptwriters, and more. Plot holes, logical flaws, and other errors are inevitable with so many contributors. The Google search “Superman continuity errors” returns a quarter million hits.

More serious are the deliberate changes. For example, everyone on Superman’s home planet of Krypton originally had super powers, but later the earth’s yellow sun gave those powers to only Clark Kent. And is Superman super just as a man, or also as a teen, a boy, or a baby? Some projects reboot Superman, preserving the broad outline without being constrained by details in previous incarnations.

The Bible is also the work of many hands. However, unlike Superman, whose story spans less than a century, the Bible spans a millennium—more if you consider the oral history from which it arose.

As with Superman, there are many contradictory versions of Jesus. The biblical solution was to drop the inconsistent versions, and the writings of the Marcionites and Gnostics didn’t make the cut. Later contributions by Mohammed and Joseph Smith weren’t included either.

Though the books of the Bible were selected to satisfy a narrow orthodoxy, we still see the shadow of these inconstancies. For example, does post-resurrection Jesus have a spirit body (Luke 24:31) or a physical body (eight verses later)? How can Jesus go to “Paradise” with the thief on the day of his death according to Luke when Acts says he remained on earth for 40 days? Another example: Paul’s ideology conflicted with the stricter views of the James/Peter sect, and he documents this struggle in Galatians 2:11–21.

Lifting ideas from previous sources

Superman is drawn from other super-savior myths of the time, and the borrowing can be obvious. For example, you probably know of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, but Doc Savage also had a Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, and his first name was also Clark. Doc Savage (née 1933) is the Man of Bronze and Superman (1938) is the Man of Steel.

Captain Future (1940) is The Man of Tomorrow; so is Superman.

The girlfriend of The Shadow (1930) was Margo Lane; Superman’s was Lois Lane.

Likewise, we see plenty of examples in the Bible that draw from prior traditions from civilizations in the region.

  • The Noah story comes from earlier Sumerian ideas about how the earth and heavens were put together (more).
  • The Garden of Eden story mirrors the Sumerian Atra-Hasis epic (more).
  • Yahweh defeated Leviathan, and we find the same Combat Myth in earlier Ugaritic, Babylonian, and Akkadian literature (more).
  • The Jesus story comes from a culture full of stories about dying-and-rising gods like Dionysus, Osiris, and Tammuz (more).

Historical support for historical Superman belief?

Using the techniques of Christian apologists, future Kentites would be justified in their belief. Or, if that logic is flawed and a historical Superman is ridiculous, the same is true for the gospel story.

On the face of it, the Superman story is far more plausible than the Jesus story. Superman is an intelligent being who lived on a planet, and we understand that since that’s what we are. Superman got here with technology, and we understand that, too—we have a limited ability to travel through space ourselves. But Jesus? We have zero universally acknowledged evidence of a supernatural anything.

Another important difference is that Superman saves people whether they believe in him or not.

Two possibilities exist:
either we are alone in the universe or we are not.
Both are equally terrifying.
— Arthur C. Clarke

Photo credit: Wikipedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Greg G.

    The girlfriend of The Shadow (1930) was Margo Lane; Superman’s was Lois Lane.

    Lois Lane was portrayed by Margot Kidder.

    • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

      Too perfect to be coincidence!

      • InDogITrust

        I am henceforth a Kentite!
        Another similarity, both are good looking blue-eyed white guys. Interestingly, Jesus was initially portrayed as clean-shaven and only later was always bearded; while Superman has always been clean-shaven and depictions of him with a beard considered semi-heretical.

        • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

          Except funny enough, were Jesus real, he would have likely had a beard – and looked very Arab-Jewish than Anglo-Saxon.

  • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

    “How can Jesus go to “Paradise” with the thief on the day of his death according to Luke when Acts says he remained on earth for 40 days?”

    Is this a good argument? When I was a believer, I took it that he was in Paradise from the moment of his death until the moment of his resurrection.

    • RichardSRussell

      I heard he was at an IHOP.

    • SuperMark

      40 days after he was resurrected. He was only in heaven for 3 days while dead, then resurrection, then 40 days, then ascension. Clear as mud right?

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

      So Jesus stopped by “Paradise” for a quick visit and then came back to be resurrected on earth and then went back after 40 days?

      • MichaelNewsham

        Heretics!
        Both of you .

        “I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
        the Creator of heaven and earth,
        I believe in Jesus Christ,
        His only Son, our Lord:
        Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
        born of the Virgin Mary,
        suffered under Pontius Pilate,
        was crucified, died, and was buried.
        He descended into hell.
        The third day He arose again from the dead.”

        I like the version that has the Harrowing of Hell. Jesus goes down to the Underworld, unloads a can of whup-ass on Satan, and brings back to heaven the righteous believers of the Old Testament (Moses and the gang- even they couldn’t get into Heaven till Jesus came.)

        I was quite surprised to learn that some Christians believe that the descent into hell was part of the Atonement,and Jesus was mocked and tormented by the Devil for the three days,until He resurrected.

      • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

        Well, it’s a bit silly to talk about this stuff as if it were real, but yeah, that was basically my understanding. His soul had to go somewhere. Some people thought he visited Hell, but that’s because they misunderstood Hades. (Acts 2:31) “Paradise”, as taught in Churches of Christ, is the place you wait until final judgment if you’re going to wind up in Heaven, also known as “Abraham’s Bosom”, where Lazarus was. So what was taught is that he went to that waiting place, that place that wasn’t quite Heaven because there were no permanent spiritual new bodies given yet, I suppose.

        Actually, I guess that changes my hypothetical answer. He visited Paradise where the now-forgiven thief was going to be, but at the ascension he went to Heaven where he’s reigning.

        Isn’t theology fun?

  • RichardSRussell

    Besides which, who can imagine Jesus delivering a line like “pink” with the same kind of smile as Christopher Reeve?

  • Southern Skeptic

    “Superman saves people whether they believe in him or not.” I lol’d. Great post! It got me thinking about all the other fictional characters you could argue really existed based on “historical” documents.

  • MNb

    “Instead of rejecting it as an obvious forgery, however, they are determined to salvage what they can and imagine a toned-down original by Josephus that they can declare as historical.”
    This is borderline dishonest. The authority here is John Meier and with this quote you’re are just poisoning the well.
    It seems like Price doesn’t mention the 10th Century Arabic translation of Jewish Antiquities, including the infamous quote.

    http://jewishchristianlit.com/Topics/JewishJesus/josephus.html
    http://carm.org/regarding-quotes-historian-josephus-about-jesus
    http://www.livius.org/jo-jz/josephus/josephus.htm

    Arabic muslims clearly don’t have any reason to include a christian forgery.
    Weird that you reject scientific consensus when that doesn’t suit you, despite you not being a scholar yourself. Regarding Evolution Theory you have written often enough that laymen should accept consensus. You violate your own principle here.
    Moreover you do not address the question: why did Paulus and Polycarpus claim independently of each other to have met one or more apostles, if those apostles didn’t have a messias to follow? Apparently Price doesn’t either.
    As I have mentioned these points several times before and you apparently flat out refuse to address them I have no choice but not taking you seriously anymore on the historicity of Jesus. It’s fully dishonest to only apply skepticism to your opponents and not to the views that you hold dear. I finish with reminding you of “The first principle is not to fool yourself – and that you are the easiest to fool.” Fooled enough by an attractive analogy that you don’t wonder in which respect it might fail.

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

      This bit about Josephus is me, not Price.

      I always accept the scientific consensus, whether it suits me or not.

      Paul and Polycarp claimed to have met apostles? I’m missing your point. That they couldn’t be apostles if there wasn’t someone to be an apostle to?

      The only substantive point that I see here is the question of the original of the Testimonium Flavianum. Let me look into that more. You seem to make sweeping conclusions that this rather small point doesn’t seem to uphold.

    • SuperMark

      while it might be my own opinion, i find it difficult to label theologians as scientists…

      • Lbj

        Can one be a scientist and a theologian at the same time?

        • SuperMark

          heresy

        • Lbj

          How does that follow? Many scientists believe in God which requires them to believe theological statements about God. Many of the early scientists were Christians. Galileo comes to mind.

    • Pofarmer

      Since there were temples and priests to Apollo, does, that mean there was a historical Apollo? Was Baal also real? Hell, it seems like they would have been just a few more suckers wandering around preaching about a celestial dude.

  • Lbj

    This is like comparing apples and rocks. We know superman is fiction. The authors of the comic never claim that superman was a historical figure. Compare this with the gospel writers who claim Jesus is a historical person who lived in a proven historical period of time.

    This is a laughable comparison and one that no takes seriously.

    • SuperMark

      it’s not a comparison, this is self evident for the reasons you stated. it’s an analogy. you should read “the evolution of god” by Robert Wright, the point here in my opinion is how legends evolve.

      • Lbj

        Its not even a good analogy. There is no “evolution” in the gospels for the person of Christ nor is it a legend.

        • SuperMark

          you should read the book. you’re right the gospels don’t evolve, the jebus stories are the culmination of all of the “holy books” that came before it.

        • Lbj

          Nonsense.

        • SuperMark

          Seriously, you should research the history of middle eastern religion from Egypt to present. the parallels of the NT to all of the legends that came before it are undeniable.

          Even if you believe the bible, what do you have to lose? A deeper understanding of the culture surrounding the people who wrote your holy book will at least be insightful.

        • Lbj

          Even if there were some parallels that would not mean the gospel writers were using them to make up a story about Christ. You would need some facts that show that the gospel writers were aware of these things and incorporated these stories into the gospels. Good luck with that.

          I have no problem reading what others believed during the time of Christ. I do have a problem when people assert that this is where the gospel writers got their material for the gospels.

        • SuperMark

          that’s not the point, i’m sure the writers of the gospels believed what they wrote down was the truth. my point is that they got their information second hand, the gospels were not written by the apostles.

          you’re assuming that the gospels either have to be truth or a lie. something like C.S. Lewis’s liar lunatic lord, but the problem with his argument is that he left out legend.

        • Lbj

          What do you mean the gospel writers got their “information second hand”? Matthew and John were disciples-eyewitnesses. Mark wrote down what Peter told him to accurately. Luke interviewed the eyewitnesses. They were all written within the life times of the eyewitnesses. Jesus is one of the best attested historical figures of ancient history.

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

          Matthew and John were disciples-eyewitnesses.

          So what? Show that they authored gospels.

        • Lbj

          They early church, who would have known who wrote the gospels never claim they did not. The names associated with the gospels have always been. There is no record of anyone else being associated with them.

        • Ron

          Titles of the Gospels

          The first four historical books of the New Testament are supplied with titles (Euangelion kata Matthaion, Euangelion kata Markon, etc.), which, however ancient, do not go back to the respective authors of those sacred writings.

          The Canon of Muratori, Clement of Alexandria, and St. Irenæus bear distinct witness to the existence of those headings in the latter part of the second century of our era. Indeed, the manner in which Clement (Stromata I.21), and St. Irenæus (Against Heresies III.11.7) employ them implies that, at that early date, our present titles to the Gospels had been in current use for some considerable time. Hence, it may be inferred that they were prefixed to the evangelical narratives as early as the first part of that same century.

          That, however, they do not go back to the first century of the Christian era, or at least that they are not original, is a position generally held at the present day. It is felt that since they are similar for the four Gospels, although the same Gospels were composed at some interval from each other, those titles were not framed, and consequently not prefixed to each individual narrative, before the collection of the four Gospels was actually made.

          Besides, as well pointed out by Prof. Bacon, “the historical books of the New Testament differ from its apocalyptic and epistolary literature, as those of the Old Testament differ from its prophecy, in being invariably anonymous, and for the same reason. Prophecies whether in the earlier or in the later sense, and letters, to have authority, must be referable to some individual; the greater his name, the better. But history was regarded as a common possession. Its facts spoke for themselves. Only as the springs of common recollection began to dwindle, and marked differences to appear between the well-informed and accurate Gospels and the untrustworthy . . . did it become worth while for the Christian teacher or apologist to specify whether the given representation of the current tradition was ‘according to’ this or that special compiler, and to state his qualifications”.

          It thus appears that the present titles of the Gospels are not traceable to the Evangelists themselves.

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

          Wrong answer. I’m encouraging you to actually do some research and find out when the early church assigned those names and how likely they are to be authentic rather than gullibly spout stuff someone else told you or you thought up after 5 seconds’ reflection.

          Hint: I’ve written a post about this at this blog. Search “Papias.”

        • Pofarmer

          You keep coming up with this nonsense, and it keeps getting batted down. There is no indication of these being eyewitness accounts, for one thing, if the datings are correct, the authors would have been much too old. There is also zero indication that Mark was recording Peter, fr one thing, it doesn’t read like that. It reads like fiction.

        • Lbj

          What?? There is all kinds of evidence in the gospels as being eyewitness accounts. The historical details that have been checked are correct. The conversations that are in the gospels between Jesus, His disciples and the people are all eyewitness accounts. The trial of Jesus is a good example of this.
          Papias in the 2nd century tells us that Peter had Mark write down accurately his time with Christ. The early church also attributed the gospels to those we know them by.
          No scholar who studies in this field thinks they are fictions.

        • Pofarmer

          Supposedly, none of the disciples were present at the trial.

        • Ron

          … or during the actual resurrection.

        • Pofarmer

          Or during the crucifixion and death, for that matter.

        • Lbj

          I read somewhere that John may have had some connection with the high priest family. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were members of the Jewish Sanhedrin and were friendly towards Christ. If they were present at the trial they could have relayed these details to the gospel writers.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s kinda sorta a shit ton of speculation.

        • Pofarmer

          “No scholar who studies in this field thinks they are fictions.” On the contrary, nearly all scholars think at least parts of them are fictions. You add up all the parts that some scholars think are fiction, and you wind up with some little core that is deemed to be historically possible. I think the Jesus seminar rated it at between 16-18%.

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

          The historical details that have been checked are correct.

          As I’ve told you before, Kansas is a real place. What does that tell us about the accuracy of Wizard of Oz?

          The conversations that are in the gospels between Jesus, His disciples and the people are all eyewitness accounts.

          Because they’ve been compared against the security camera footage? Or just cuz you said so?

          Papias in the 2nd century tells us that Peter had Mark write down accurately his time with Christ.

          Well, it was only 80 years earlier. Papias would surely know, right?

          The early church also attributed the gospels to those we know them by.

          Decades after they were written, yes.

          No scholar who studies in this field thinks they are fictions.

          Almost every scholar in this field thinks that the names attached to the gospels are not those of the actual author(s).

        • Tommykey69

          There were no witnesses to Jesus allegedly being tempted by the Devil. And this happened chronologically before he started collecting the 12 apostles. Then there’s the dialogue in Herod’s court when the Three Wise Men visited. Who was around to remember such things decades later? There are other examples in the Gospels of conversations taking place without any of the apostles around between third parties.

        • Annerdr

          The bible is the true word of god because the word of god is true and would never lie and the bible is the word of god.
          My head spins with the circular reasoning.

        • TheNuszAbides

          The historical details that have been checked are correct.

          unless you’re just wording it poorly, that implies that there are historical details that still haven’t ‘been checked’?

        • TheNuszAbides

          No scholar who studies in this field thinks they are fictions.

          that’s a laugh. who told you that? or where did you read it? let me guess: you wouldn’t want to rat out such a sweet, caring, well-intentioned soul.

        • Pofarmer

          “that’s not the point, i’m sure the writers of the gospels believed what they wrote down was the truth.”

          I’m not willing to assume that at all. I’m not so sure the Gospel authors, at least Mark, didn’t know they were making up a hagiography based on Paul.

        • SuperMark

          We will never know for sure. In my opinion it seems like a stretch to think they they pulled all of the stories completely out of their asses.

          It works something like this: well we know jebus was the messiah and we know jebus was from Nazareth, but the OT tells us that the messiah is to be born in David’s home town. I remember a story in my youth about people having to travel for a census, so that must be it! Jebus was the messiah so he must have been born in Bethlehem, so his parents must have traveled to Bethlehem right before jebus was born. So while the story was probably made up, Matthew added this story to make it fit with OT prophecy because he believed both the OT and that jebus was the messiah.

          Sorry if this isn’t clear this is an idea i’ve never tried to actually communicate before. Here’s a funny picture kind of on topic:

        • SuperMark

          Maybe this will work:

        • Pofarmer

          Refer to the posts by GregG about where all the info about Jesus actually comes from.E

        • TheNuszAbides

          a stretch to think they they pulled all of the stories completely out of their asses.

          i’m not aware of a hypothesis that requires any of it to be completely argumentum ab rectum (h/t Susan).

        • hector_jones

          So you think the lack of evidence argues in favor of Christianity?

        • Lbj

          What lack of evidence?

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

          I do have a problem when people assert that this is where the gospel writers got their material for the gospels.

          Because it’s offensive? Because you need to stick up for your old buddy Jesus, who can’t stick up for himself?

          When the evidence shows that the NT came from an environment suffused with dying-and-rising god stories, that Jesus is just a copy of one of those (that is, the natural explanation) must be at the top of the list of candidate explanations. That Jesus is the real deal, despite this potential source, is very far fetched.

        • Lbj

          No. I just find these theories to be lame. There is no support for them. If there was, you would have given us some facts that show the gospels writers did indeed use these “dying-and-rising god stories”. Until you do, I am on solid ground to take the gospels as true. You however do not have any grounds for your rejection of them.

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

          So let me see if I understand. When you have an old story with supernatural tales, you should always take it at face value. That’s the default position.

          Do I have it right?

        • SuperMark

          only when someone’s whole worldview is wrapped up in supernatural tales…

          i guess it’s easier to ignore cognitive dissidence when one refuses to actually research the things one believes. or, maybe it never happens if one stays in an intellectual bubble.

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

          You would need some facts that show that the gospel writers were aware of these things and incorporated these stories into the gospels.

          Wrong. The burden of proof is yours. You must show that the obvious natural explanation is wrong.

        • KarlUdy

          Actually Justas is right to place the burden of proof on you here. You are proposing a theory of how Christology of the New Testament developed. Your theory, your burden of proof.

          You really should see someone about this allergy to bearing the burden of proof. It is really restricting your capabilities.

          By the way, the obvious natural explanation for the gospel writings, is that the authors wrote down what they saw (in the cases where the writers were eyewitnesses) or were told (in the cases where they were not).

        • Ron

          The First Apology (St. Justin Martyr)
          http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm

          Chapter 20. Heathen analogies to Christian doctrine

          […] If, therefore, on some points we teach the same things as the poets and philosophers whom you honour, and on other points are fuller and more divine in our teaching, and if we alone afford proof of what we assert, why are we unjustly hated more than all others? For while we say that all things have been produced and arranged into a world by God, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of Plato; and while we say that there will be a burning up of all, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of the Stoics: and while we affirm that the souls of the wicked, being endowed with sensation even after death, are punished, and that those of the good being delivered from punishment spend a blessed existence, we shall seem to say the same things as the poets and philosophers; and while we maintain that men ought not to worship the works of their hands, we say the very things which have been said by the comic poet Menander, and other similar writers, for they have declared that the workman is greater than the work.

          Chapter 21. Analogies to the history of Christ

          And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. […]

          Chapter 22. Analogies to the sonship of Christ

          Moreover, the Son of God called Jesus, even if only a man by ordinary generation, yet, on account of His wisdom, is worthy to be called the Son of God; for all writers call God the Father of men and gods. And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you, who say that Mercury is the angelic word of God. […] And if we even affirm that He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you accept of Perseus. And in that we say that He made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, we seem to say what is very similar to the deeds said to have been done by Æsculapius.

        • Scott_In_OH

          This is interesting. I had not seen it before. Thanks.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “produced without sexual union”

          now there’s conviction. no room left to hide behind “well they might have just meant ____, translation is hard for puny mortals and Satan is ever-ready to present superior logical arguments!”
          (well obviously someone willing to double down on a supernatural baseline would still be fine with the last part; i just got excited.)

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

          It is a bit like an allergy, I guess. Or laziness. I don’t feel like shouldering someone else’s burden, especially when that burden is proving something ridiculous.

          There is often a default starting point, a null hypothesis. The guy who wants to overturn that obvious null hypothesis has the burden of proof. If you don’t like that, then don’t try to reject the obvious answer.

          No, there is no symmetry of positions here. But nice try. The obvious natural explanation in response to an ancient document from a pre-scientific era that lists supernatural events is not, “Well, golly! They wrote it all down, so I guess it must be true!”

          Principle of Analogy

        • Lbj

          The burden is on the one who claims that the gospel writers used myths etc to create their gospels. Its not on me.

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

          It always amazes me when Christians say that the burden of showing the truth of the gospel story is, y’know, a burden. I wonder what baby Jesus thinks of someone who runs away from responsibilities like this. Probably makes him cry.

          I’m arguing that the simple, obvious, natural explanation is the one to go with. As I pointed out to Karl, there is no symmetry of positions here.

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

          Huh? Write a summary of Jesus as told by Mark (assumed the role of Christ on his baptism) and then write one from John (Christ since the beginning of time).

          Yes, there’s quite a bit of evolution.

        • Lbj

          No evolution but different perspectives. We see this kind of thing even today when different authors are writing about the same person at different times.

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

          And you say it this way to support your preconceptions?

          An careful and objective observer, reading the books in order, would see the change. The Jesus of Mark is very much not the Jesus of John.

        • Pofarmer

          Hell, there’s evolution of God throughout the bible, just like there’s evolution of Jesus in the NT. it’s ok.

        • Pofarmer

          Pssssst, I don’t think Justas knows as much about the NT as he thinks he does.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the way they seem to depend on tired fingers-in-ears style argument every other comment bumps up the likelihood that ‘evolution’ is a word that ~raises their suspicions~ in any context.

        • Mick

          Read the books in the order they were written (timewise). First the seven genuine books of Paul, then Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John (in that order). If you do that you can see the Jesus legend evolving.

          Regarding the birth of Jesus for example: it was about 55AD when Paul wrote his letter to the Romans and he made it clear that it was a completely normal birth:

          Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. (Romans 1:3)

          So normal, in fact, that fifteen years later Mark didn’t even bother to mention it in the gospel he wrote in 70AD.

          But ten years later, in 80AD, Matthew added some miraculous details to the story and declared that Jesus was born to a virgin:

          Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel. (Matthew 1:23)

          And finally, in the gospel of John (written in about 95AD) we have a quite fantastic story suggesting that Jesus had existed since the beginning of time and furthermore; that he was not only the “son of god” but god himself!

          In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:1,14)

          * 55 AD Jesus’ birth was quite normal.
          * 70 AD So normal that Mark didn’t bother to mention it.
          * 80 AD Matthew says Jesus’ birth was miraculous (born to a virgin)
          * 95 AD John says Jesus existed even before the creation of the universe!

          You can see the legend growing as the years pass by.

          And the same thing happens with other biblical characters as well. For example, the very early Christians had never heard about Judas betraying Jesus and then killing himself.

          In 1 Corinthians 11:23 Paul says that Jesus was betrayed but he doesn’t name the betrayer. Later, in 1 Corinthinans 15:5, Paul says that after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to “the Twelve”, so Judas was not yet dead, and apparently not regarded as a betrayer either. Judas was still with the apostles and apparently still being treated as an equal; certainly not dead.

          Twenty years later, however, by the time Mark wrote his gospel in 70AD, it had become accepted that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, but there was no indication that Judas had died (probably because that part of the legend had not yet been invented).

          Ten years after that, when Matthew wrote his gospel in 80AD, the legend had grown to the point where Judas had seen the error of his ways and committed suicide during a fit of remorse.

          And another ten years after that, Luke invented a much more mysterious death for Judas, saying that he fell over and his bowels gushed out. Luke makes no mention of suicide. Luke is trying to give the impression that Judas was zapped by God himself.

          * 50AD Judas was a fully-fledged apostle with not a stain on his character.
          *70AD he was the apostle who betrayed Jesus.
          * 80AD he was the betrayer who died at his own hand.
          * 90AD he was the betrayer, struck down by a miracle
          from God.

          I could go on…

        • Lbj

          The evolving theory doesn’t hold up to the facts in the gospels. In all gospels Jesus is presented as God incarnate.

          It was a normal. The conception was not. Luke 1:35

          Not sure what your point is with Romans 1:3. Jesus was born as a descendant of David.

          Its also true that Jesus was born of a virgin as Matthew says. Jesus had no human-biological father.

        • KarlUdy

          Unfortunately Mick, you need to quote very selectively to get the narrative you want.

          Philippians 2 clearly indicates that Paul considered Jesus to be of divine origin, “being in very nature God … being made in human likeness”, a Christology that is remarkably similar to that of John 1.

        • SuperMark

          Of course you can argue away almost any problem with jebus in the NT, that’s because he is not clearly defined in the NT.

          How do you rationalize the problem with Judas in the NT, i’ve never heard a clear answer to the obvious contradiction in the NT regarding his death?

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

      Yes, we know Superman is fiction. A civilization 2000 years in the future may not. Our records are surprisingly impermanent.

      The gospels do almost nothing to place Jesus in history. All you have are the two incompatible references to Herod (died 4BCE) and Quirinius, governor about a decade later.

      And did you notice that the gospels have minimal internal structure? The anecdotes aren’t linked together by any narrative thread but are just put side by side. You don’t see “And then two months later …” preceding each story. This is a very poor sort of “history.”

      • KarlUdy

        And did you notice that the gospels have minimal internal structure? The anecdotes aren’t linked together by any narrative thread but are just put side by side. You don’t see “And then two months later …” preceding each story. This is a very poor sort of “history.”

        It would be a poor sort of history by modern standards. The important question is how it compares with contemporary history of that period.

        I know you don’t want to read Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, but how the structure of the gospels demonstrate their dependence on eyewitness testimony is one of the things he covers.

        • SuperMark

          So are you saying that witness testimony improved over time which increased the accuracy of the story? Sounds very dubious, current thinking on eye witness testimony should be common knowledge…

          i think you should just stick to the idea that god inspired the writings and intervened in preserving the texts. That seems much more plausible.

        • KarlUdy

          So are you saying that witness testimony improved over time which increased the accuracy of the story?

          SuperMark, I don’t have a clue how you got that idea from what I wrote.

        • Lbj

          What does the “witness testimony improved over time which increased the accuracy of the story” mean?

        • Pofarmer

          Have you ever read the NT in order?

        • Lbj

          Excellent points.

        • TheNuszAbides

          ah, is this the turning point where you relaxed and faded away because someone ‘on your side’ who’s better at discerning flaws in arguments showed up?
          one hopes you later did/do a bit more thinking and reading to come to terms with your cognitive dissonance. (as should we all.)

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

          The important question is how it “compares with contemporary history of that period.

          In the first place, what we call it isn’t all that interesting. The important thing is that we must have excellent evidence on which to support the incredible Jesus claims, and the NT doesn’t provide it.

          But to your comment, you raise a good point. And compared to the historical writings of that period, the gospels suck.

          The best resource that I’ve found on this subject is “Ancient Historical Writing Compared to the Gospels of the New Testament. It’s long, but it gives some marvelous examples of history of that period that have all the attributes you’d hope for: a skeptical attitude, an enumeration of the sources, first-hand perspective, and so on.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew and Luke rely heavily on Mark. Mark relies heavily on the literature of the day, and not oral tradition or eye witness testimony, to create the gospel. John copies his fictions and some of his writing techniques. Everything Paul says about Jesus can be found in centuries old scripture. What eye witness testimony is there?

      • Lbj

        Get serious. The gospels are well grounded in history. Over 25 characters in the gospels have been confirmed by archaeology and non-christian sources.

        The gospels were written more like Greco-Roman bios and not like modern bios.

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

          So the gospels have real people. The Wizard of Oz mentions Kansas. Heck, I’ve been there; it’s a real place. So what?

          Yes, the gospels were of the genre of ancient biography, not biography. That makes them historically of little value, certainly not enough on which to build the gospel claims.

        • Lbj

          On what grounds do claim that the gospels are “historically of little value, certainly not enough on which to build the gospel claims.”?

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

          Let’s first get you past the point I made in that previous comment. Understand the genres of ancient biography vs. biography, then get back to me.

        • Pofarmer

          Have you ever read any Tom Clancy? His books are full of real places and people.

        • Lbj

          Doe Clancy claim his books are completely historical and to be taken as actual history? Do the people that read them believe they are reading a history? Are these books considered historical by other scholars?

        • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

          Johnny Tremain had a cast almost entirely historically confirmed – through their own direct letters, their paintings, and their actions. Yet no one believes it’s a real story.

        • Pofarmer

          “Get serious. The gospels are well grounded in history. Over 25
          characters in the gospels have been confirmed by archaeology and
          non-christian sources”

          I’m curious, which 25 Charachters?

        • Ron

          a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y and z.

          The “i” is still missing.

        • Lbj

          King Herod- Acts 12
          Bernice
          John the Baptist
          James
          Gamaliel
          Annas
          to name a few that are mentioned in secular writings of the period.

        • SuperMark

          yeah maybe some of the minor characters, but wasn’t Josephus the only outside source that mentions jebus?

          forget the characters for a min, what about all of the outlandish stories that were not mentioned anywhere but the gospels?

          For example, the great earthquake and the sun going dark when jebus was crucified. what about the dead coming out of their graves and walking around. the feeding of the 5k. and that’s just the NT the OT is even worse. is it not reasonable to expect such crazy events to be documented by other sources?

        • Greg G.

          Here’s a list of 25 from the gospels and Acts on Wikipedia.

          Philip the Tetrarch, Quirinius, and Tiberius Caesar are only mentioned in Luke but they are confirmed in Josephus. Ananias son of Nedebaios, Berenice, Drusilla, Herod Agrippa I, Herod Agrippa II, Judas of Galilee, and Porcius Festus are all mentioned in Acts and only known to us through Josephus, according to Wikipedia.

          The list omits Theudas from Acts 5:36 and the Egyptian from Acts 21:38 which are also found only in Josephus.

          Counting the two additional characters, there are fourteen people in Acts that have been confirmed by other sources, not archaeology, but thirteen of those are confirmed by Josephus and nine of those are confirmed only by Josephus. Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus is the only name that isn’t in Josephus but his brother Seneca the Younger tells about him.

          Theudas, the Egyptian, and Judas of Galilee are the three outlaws listed by Josephus but he says there were many others. Luke uses only the same three outlaws. Berenice plays no role in the story she is mentioned as if Luke’s source mentioned her so he included her name.

          When you compare the Paul’s shipwreck in Acts with Josephus’ shipwreck in Vita, they were either on the same boat or Luke copied the story. Luke and Josephus give the same exact wrong distance from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

          I have listed a few suspicious correspondences between Josephus and Luke-Acts. One can only say it’s a coincidence a few times. Eventually it becomes a pattern that requires an explanation.

        • busterggi

          Drusilla!!! Cripes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer must be real, the bible confirms the existance of one of her greatest enemies!

        • Greg G.

          Most of the known figures can be verified in Josephus. Luke relied heavily on Josephus so it would be circular to count names that Luke took from your verification text. How many does that leave?

  • Mick

    There are serious problems in the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. Something similar happens with Superman’s adoptive parents:

    In George Lowther’s 1942 novel they are Eben and Sarah Kent.
    In Action Comics #158 (1951) they are Jonathan and Martha
    In Superman #53 (1954) they are John and Mary

    • SuperMark

      nice!

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

      I’m a novice in the presence of greatness. Thanks for the information.

    • Annerdr

      Clearly they are Jonathan (“John”) Eben Kent and Martha (“Mary”) Sarah Kent.

      • busterggi

        HAH! Superman the Movie and other sources clearly say her name was Martha Clark Kent.

  • KarlUdy

    Rather, the techniques Christian apologists use to conclude that the Christ story is historical would also lead historians to a similar conclusion about Superman.

    One major piece of evidence for the historicity of Christ is the existence of the church from the time of Christ to today.

    As far as I know, there is nothing equivalent for Superman.

    • Margaret Whitestone

      Superman has plenty of fan clubs.

      • Lbj

        Know anyone who would sacrifice and suffer for superman?

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Only if they’re complete idiots, mentally ill, or both. Doing crazy things for an imaginary friend isn’t exactly rational.

        • Lbj

          I agree. Sacrificing for superman is a waste.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          So is sacrificing for god, jesus, ra, thor, allah, zeus, uranus, or any other imaginary friend.

        • Lbj

          Jesus is not imaginary. Even liberal scholars would not say such nonsense.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Of course, dearie.

        • Lbj

          Thank you. We don’t need to waste our time on that nonsense.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          I’m sorry, did you think I was agreeing with you? How adorable.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t think actually establishing that Jesus existed would be a waste of time. When scholars do a Jesus Quest the assume that he was a Jew from Galilee and never bother to establish that he really existed. I have provided you evidence of the character being fiction and you haven’t refuted it.

        • Pofarmer

          Karl Udy I think, actually brought up a couple of points where Paul talks about Christ being of divine origin, then you have the “Born of a Woman, Born under the Law” passages. How do you square all of that up. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised by Paul contradicting himself. But, it is an interesting puzzle.

          Also I agree. Everyone seems to have started out just Assuming that Jesus existed. People forget, or simply didn’t know, that some early historians thought Hercules existed, as well. What happens when you apply the criteria to attribute Jesus historicity to Hercules, or Achilles.

        • Greg G.

          Paul quotes from Isaiah more than any other OT book, especially dealing with Jesus. Check out Isaiah 45:1, 5 as both verses refer to the Suffering Servant in the womb. Paul spent the previous chapter and a half explaining what he meant by “under the law” in Galatians 4:4 calling on lots of OT verses. Compare with the NIV footnotes for the OT verses quoted, though it doesn’t point out all of the allusions.

        • Lbj

          I guess before we can discuss anyone in ancient we have to establish they existed. I have never seen anyone establish that Alexander the Great existed or prove the things that were written about him. I suppose they were all made up given that the first bio of him is almost 400 years after his death. Perhaps he is just a fiction. Or take Caesar. That to is a made story. There is no proof he crossed the Rubicon.

          Jesus is God incarnate. As the Son of God He has always existed. AS a man, He came into the world like other men via conception and birth through a woman.

        • Lbj

          Speculations and assertions is not evidence. To prove Jesus did not exist you would have to prove the gospels are fictions with no historical facts. Not even the Jesus Seminar would go this far.

        • Greg G.

          Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer has historical facts in it. Does that make it all fact in your mind?

          I have provided links to you that show that every deed attributed to Jesus in Mark is from the literature, that would have been easy to access in the late first century, but about somebody else. There is nothing left to be from oral tradition or eye-witness testimony. The miracles come from Moses, Elijah and Elisha. Jesus put-putting around the Sea of Galilee is modeled on Odysseus sailing around the Mediterranean. The Passion scene is modeled on the death of Hector and Psalm 22.

          I have shown you that everything Paul says about Jesus comes from centuries old scripture, mostly from Isaiah. He thinks the other apostles learned from centuries old scripture, too.

          I’ll provide the links again if you need me to do so. But don’t say I don’t have evidence when you simply won’t look at it.

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

          Liberal scholars say that Jesus is really the son of God who answers your prayers?

          You need to broaden your reading list.

        • RichardSRussell

          Yeah, and Santa Claus is white, too. He just is.

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

          Why? Is there a parallel with Jesus here? Did someone sacrifice and suffer for Jesus?

      • KarlUdy

        Good try. But not really the same sort of thing.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          In your opinion.

        • KarlUdy

          Think about it. What is the origin of the Superman fan clubs? And what is the origin of the church?

          Very different when you’re using such a thing as evidence of the historicity of Christ/Superman.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          People getting together to gab about how groovy their hero is. How does one differ from the other?

        • KarlUdy

          Not “What do you think they do in their meetings?”, but “What was their origin?” ie what caused them to come into being.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Fanboys caused them both to come into being.

        • KarlUdy

          OK, what were the respective causes of the first “fanboys” of Jesus and Superman?

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Fertile imaginations.

        • KarlUdy

          I would have guessed that Superman comics would be the cause of Superman “fanboys”. No comics, no fanboys, right? Certainly, no Superman comics, no Superman fan clubs.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          The comics, like the Jesus mythology, came from fertile imaginations.

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

          It’s been 75 years. The Superman cult is yet young. Come back in 2000 years and see if there’s not a religion for Superman or something similar.

          But that is a tangent from the standpoint of the article.

        • Lbj

          In the 75 years after the ministry of Christ there would probably 100’s thousands of believers and hundreds if not thousands of house churches.
          I wonder to if after 2000 years we will see superman fans changing the world for the better. No reason to think this at all. It hasn’t happened in 75 years so there is no reason to think it will 2000 years.

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

          After Jesus died, they barely had 100 followers. Consider that: the actual Son of God comes to earth and does miracles to prove his status, and that’s the result? Given that the people of the time were so unimpressed, why should we accept the story 2000 years later, when we have such a fuzzy view of the actual events?

          Heck, Sathya Sai Baba, who could perform all of Jesus’s tricks and who died a couple of years ago, had millions of followers at his death. Now that’s impressive.

        • Lbj

          See my previous comment to Pofarmer.

        • Pofarmer

          You just pulled that out of your butt.

        • Lbj

          No. There was an active missionary movement since Pentecost. Paul already is planting churches and from I cor 15:6 he mentions 500 people who saw the resurrected Christ. Thousands believed in Christ on Pentecost. Acts 2:41. Certainly it was a growing movement even the time of the apostles. People who ran the temples were complaining that the number of people coming to the temple was dropping off because of Christianity. Acts 19:26

        • Greg G.

          Do you realize how many variations of Christianity were around in the early second century? Some thought he was real but not a spirit. Some thought he was a spirit and his body was an illusion, Some thought Christ was a spirit who inhabited Jesus body but vacated just before he was crucified. Don’t forget about Gnosticism. The proto-orthodox belief system is rumored to have been around then. There was no Trinity belief. It is better accounted for if there never was a Jesus but there were lots of different preachers teaching different things about the Messiah and there was a rumor from a book by some guy named Mark.

        • K-9

          By the time 2000 years have passed, I would hope there would be a mass apostasy from the Superman cult as people realize that dependence upon an alien god leads only to the stagnation of human development. With luck, someone of genius, ambition, and cunning will arise to throw off the shackles of Kryptonian worship and inspire mankind to achieve greatness on its own merits.
          Behold the birth of the Luthorans!

    • satanaugustine

      Karl – I suggest you read up on Christian history. There was no church after the death of Jesus, assuming he existed. Nothing was even written of Christ until the 50s AD, when Paul wrote his letters. The Gospels were written even later and by anonymous Greek non-eyewitnesses. The first to be written, the one attributed to Mark, was written about 70-75AD. The authors of Matthew and Luke, who wrote their gospels about 10 years after “Mark,” borrowed heavily from that first Gospel. The gospel attributed to John, which has some stories found nowhere in the first 3 gospels (the synoptic gospels), may have been written as late as the early second century. Their were multiple Christianities in the early centuries AD (there are even more now, but most use the same book now), but there was only one that won out, what become known as orthodoxy. What was to become the Biblical canon was decided upon centuries after it’s contents were written. Christianity started small and slow.

      With Superman we at least know who the creators were. We have original copies of the earliest comics. We have none of the original manuscripts for any book in the Bible. We have copies of copies of copies copied by humans, who are far more prone to error than the printing press (and far far more prone to altering texts to align them with their personal beliefs). The Bible has many problems that Superman comics do not. For the record, it’s quite unlikely either existed.

      • KarlUdy

        satanaugustine, my point is that the earliest Christian writings came after the church was established. Paul’s epistles and these take the existence of the church for granted.

        This is why the existence of the church is an important piece of evidence that nothing regarding Superman can match. Before the comics there was no Superman. Before the New Testament, even before the earliest writings, there was the church.

        • busterggi

          You have never been to ComiCon.

        • satanaugustine

          Karl – could explain exactly what you mean when you refer to “the church” that you claim existed before anything about Jesus was written? After explaining what you mean by “the church” could you please provide some evidence that it existed?

          As I said in my previous comment, there were multiple different Christianities during the first few centuries AD. This includes the 50 years prior to Paul’s letters. In fact, Paul’s letters provide some evidence for these multiple Christianities. Paul writes to various different Christian groups to tell them what they are doing wrong and how things really should be. I.e., these different Christian groups all had different ideas about what being Christian entailed. If there existed “the church” this would have been completely unnecessary. This isn’t the only evidence for the multiple different Christianities. Some of that can be found in the writings of “Church Fathers.” (Incidentally, the fact that there were church fathers is another indication that “the church” did not exist is the earliest decades of the first century, or even the later decades or for the next three centuries for that matter). Most of the writings by leaders of other Christianities were destroyed by some of these church fathers and their followers because they were declared heresy by the Christianity that eventually won out – the church, a.k.a., the Catholic Church (which most definitely did not exist in the first century). But many of these church fathers wrote criticisms of these “heretical” writings and included quotes from said writings. That’s the only way we know about most of them. Most of these groups had wildly different views of who/what Jesus was from what became orthodoxy. Wikipedia has a list and description of many of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_heresies Most of that list, aside from docetism, consists of later declared heresies, but gives examples of how long there were very different Christianities. Docetism dates to the first century. Docetists had a radically different view of Jesus.

          For the record, I honestly could not care less about the Superman comparison.

        • KarlUdy

          Karl – could explain exactly what you mean when you refer to “the church” that you claim existed before anything about Jesus was written?

          The community of believers (initially based in Jerusalem but spreading throughout the known world) who worshipped Jesus as the risen Messiah. This community over time formalised the tenets of Christian belief in the creeds, but this process largely happened after the New Testament writings (although it may have begun before then).

          After explaining what you mean by “the church” could you please provide some evidence that it existed?

          Paul’s letters are written to such local expressions of this wider community.

          I can see by your post that you would disagree that the wider community had any meaningful shared integrity beyond the local expressions. I don’t think the evidence backs you up on this (archaeological evidence, evidence from NT writings, etc) but a proper discussion of this evidence is more than can reasonably be put in one comment.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I don’t think the evidence backs you up on this (archaeological evidence, evidence from NT writings, etc) but a proper discussion of this evidence is more than can reasonably be put in one comment.

          It would be interesting, though. Do you have some links or citations?

        • satanaugustine

          Karl – Thanks for answering my questions.

          With regards to the two types of evidence you mention: There is certainly no archaeological evidence that supports your claim of an early, pre-Pauline church. New Testament writings can hardly be trusted given that none of the authors claimed to have met Jesus except, perhaps, in books that are known to be forgeries – 1 & 2 Peter for example (see NT scholar Bart Ehrman’s “Forged” for further information. Acts, if this is one of the NT writings you are referring to, was written by the same author of Luke, who never met Paul.

          With regards to the reliability of NT writings: Given that all were written decades or more after the events they describe their information had to come to them via word of mouth. If you’ve ever played the game telephone you understand how the original message can be mangled by repeated tellings from one person to the next and the next and so on. Add to that the other points I’ve made about NT writings and you can see how unreliable the NT texts are. Many of these texts not surprisingly contradict one another. Many also get historical and geographic facts all wrong. Their reliability is highly suspect

        • KarlUdy

          satanaugustine,
          the archaeological evidence I was referring to was the consistency in church and Christian life over a wide geographical area. I realise that there are no archaeological remains of churches before Paul, but the archaeological evidence that shows that practices such as baptism, and iconography such as the ichthus were widespread.

          The passages in the NT I was referring to are those that speak of individual churches in relationship to a wider community of churches.

          Regarding the reliability of the NT writings: I don’t find the “telephone game” arguments persuasive because the situation is actually quite different to that in the telephone game.

        • satanaugustine

          If, as you say, “the archaeological evidence that shows that practices such as baptism, and iconography such as the ichthus were widespread,” how is that in any way evidence for an early pre-Pauline church? They may have had symbols and rituals in common, but Paul wouldn’t have felt the need to address the various Jesus movements if they were already following the guidelines laid out by Paul. Additionally, how do we know this iconography doesn’t date to later Christianity?

          How is the oral transmission of the Jesus stories prior to them being written in the gospels decades later not like the telephone game? The stories had to have been told multiple times by and to different people who, intentionally or not (it is known that people often exaggerate and add information to make a story more fantastic than it actually was) altered the stories they heard. Those who were told the stories told them to others who told them to others and so on. Who knows how accurate these stories were once they reached the gospel writers. I also mentioned in a previous comment that we have not a single original manuscript of any NT writings. The earliest full manuscripts of any NT writings didn’t appear until the 3rd century, some much later. And of course – since the printing press was not invented until more than 1,000 years later – these were copies written by fallible scribes who made mistakes, miscopied parts of the text, and in some cases added their own beliefs to the texts they were working with, which of course were copies of copies of copies of copies going back decades to centuries. How on earth can these writings based originally on word-of-mouth information which were then copied and copied over and over for such a long period of time be considered to be accurately relaying true information, especially when so much of what they relate are absurdities?

          The Bible is a mess of contradictions, unbelievable stories, and muddled attempts at history which have been shown to be inaccurate. It’s a cobbled together library of multiple books which often have nothing to do with each other. It’s no wonder that there are 40,000 Christian denominations worldwide given the possibility of multiple different interpretations of the same Bible. It’s perfectly fine for a work of fiction to have multiple interpretations, but a book that many look to as a provider of answers to “ultimate” questions as well as a moral guide should be clear and unambiguous. The Bible is neither of these things. That it can be used to justify anything from charity to genocide makes it less than worthless. Since so many people take it seriously, it is actually dangerous. History bears this out.

    • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

      The difference between Jesus and Superman is that Superman’s fan club is not a powerful government source. That’s why the church stayed so long. It embedded itself into every government of the early ages of its existence. If belief in Superman held such a position of power, then I could certainly see 2000 years from now that it would be as ubiquitous as the Christian church.

      The question I have for you, however, is “What church?” The churches of 2000 years ago are very different from those nowadays.

      Many Christians believe the church of about 500 years ago is the only “true” Christian church (the approximate date of the Protestant Reformation.)

      Some believe the church of 200 years ago (Joseph Smith’s Latter Day Saints) is the only church.

      Some believe the church of 150 years ago (the Seventh-Day Adventists) is the only true church.

      Still others believe the church of 50 years ago (Calvary Chapel (a charismatic-esque evangelical nondenominational church)) is the only true church.

      There is not one, singular church going back 2000 years to the origins of Christianity. The fact there are tens of thousands of offshoots and variants of Christianity is actually proof against the historicity of Jesus. If Jesus actually existed, then he would have a much more solid church with fewer schisms. There may be those who’d refuse to believe this facet or think this other facet was a metaphor, but there wouldn’t be tens of thousands of separate denominations.

      • KarlUdy

        Youhao,
        Firstly, for the first few centuries of Christianity, it was not allied to any government power.

        To answer your question, I mean the universal catholic church (not “Roman Catholic per se, but including Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox), for which you could take to mean all believers throughout history that affirm the traditional creeds of the church, regardless of denomination.

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

          “Traditional creeds”? You mean “authentic creeds as seen from my perspective”?

          Christianity is a tree with myriad branches. Why designate just a few as accurate? What was wrong with the Marcionites or the Gnostics, for example?

        • KarlUdy

          The creeds that were affirmed at councils of the whole church.

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

          Were the Marcionites and Gnostics welcomed? They were Christian, too.

        • KarlUdy

          At one point their teachings would have been considered at some level. Once their teachings had been rejected, then of course they would have had no part in any councils.

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

          So ordinary, fallible guys picked the winner(s), and you come from the winning tradition.

          I’m simply observing that there’s no objective evaluation going on here, just a popularity contest.

        • KarlUdy

          Labelling a decision making process as “just a popularity contest” is poor rhetoric. To give a fair example, it would be like saying that the scientific community’s acceptance of Darwin’s theory of evolution was likewise the result of “just a popularity contest”.

        • Scott_In_OH

          The big difference, of course, is that Darwin’s theory of evolution is continually put to empirical tests, as were/are its challengers, and it emerges triumphant as long at it accords with new data. Theological debates don’t work that way.

        • KarlUdy

          My point was that to describe either as a “popularity contest” is a gross mischaracterization.

        • Scott_In_OH

          But there’s some truth to it when we’re talking about theological debates. There’s no verifiable way to discern who’s right, so there’s politicking.

        • KarlUdy

          Now Scott, this is why I brought up Darwin’s theory of evolution as an example, because it was not accepted based on a scientific demonstration of its truth, but because the scientific community came to a consensus that it gave a better explanation of what they considered true than competing theories.

          It is only recently with work such as mapping of genomes that we have got anywhere close to a verification of the theory.

          We must also consider what means we consider valid to discern who’s right. We would agree that they would differ for science and theology. But that theology doesn’t use science’s means does not mean that theology does not have appropriate means.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I disagree with your first two paragraphs but agree with your last. To say that a theory “gives a better explanation [of observable facts]” is to accept that theory, at least provisionally. The observable facts in Darwin’s time were far fewer than those we have now, so yes, the theory has been buttressed over time, but to say that “it was not accepted based on a scientific demonstration of its truth, but because the scientific community came to a consensus that it gave a better explanation” is wrong, unless you are being intentionally clumsy with your wording. (No scientific theory is ever accepted “based on a … demonstration of its truth.”)

          I agree that having different methods does not make one’s conclusions incorrect. Having bad methods, however, means your conclusions will be unreliable (even if you are occasionally right by accident). Theology’s methods for choosing between competing claims are bad.

          But maybe I misunderstand theology’s methods. How do theologians decide who is right when there is a disagreement?

        • Ron

          See this is the problem. Science does not proclaim any “truths”—it only provides theories (i.e. the most comprehensive explanations) for the facts being observed. These theories must be testable, falsifiable, and predict the outcome of a future observation. If and when better explanations come along, the old ones get modified or dropped entirely.

          The ToE satisfies all of these conditions. Can you name any religious explanations that meet those qualifications? If not, then by what methodology do you determine which ones are valid and which ones are not?

        • Lbj

          How is evolution falsifiable? What does it predict what man will be like in a thousand or million years?

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

          You’ve not heard the famous quote about fossil rabbits in the Precambrian? You really need to read more widely.

        • Ron

          What would disprove evolution?

          – fossils in the wrong place

          – adaptations in one species good only for a second species

          – a general lack of genetic variation in species

          – adaptations that could not have evolved by a step-by-step process of ever-increasing fitness

          – the observation that most adaptations of individuals are inimical for individuals or their genes but good for populations/species.

          And evolution doesn’t predict—nor is it meant to predict—what you are asking for, simply because it’s impossible to know what factors will influence the course it takes. That would be akin to asking meteorologists to predict where the next tornado will hit.

          Here’s what evolution does predict

        • Lbj

          I thought a scientific theory was supposed to predict? I didn’t see any predictions on the link nor did it address what man will be like in a million years.

          What is exactly natural selection? What kind of force is it?

        • Scott_In_OH

          One thing it predicts is what types of fossils will be found in what places.

        • Ron

          By what empirical method was the trinity doctrine formulated and/or established?

        • KarlUdy

          By what empirical method was non-Euclidean geometry formulated?

        • Scott_In_OH

          Mathematical theories are to be internally consistent. “Testing” is done by peers looking for inconsistencies.

          Theories in the natural sciences, like Darwin’s theory of evolution, are to be consistent with what is observed in nature. Testing is done empirically.

          Theological claims should also be consistent with what is observed in nature (at least inasmuch as they are making claims about the world around us), but they often are not. “Testing” is done by getting the powerful on your side.

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

          It was compared with reality and found to be in alignment.

          How about the Trinity? Does it comport with reality?

          You couldn’t even go back in time and get confirmation from Paul or any of the disciples for this fundamental tenet of Christianity.

        • KarlUdy

          I see that Ron has added “and/or established” to his comment since my reply.

          To edit a comment in such a way after it has been replied to, without making clear that it has been edited is just plain dishonest.

          That the empirical method is not the only valid method of discovering truth was my point.

          And I believe the trinity does comport with reality, by the way.

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

          A scientific consensus is based on objective facts.

        • KarlUdy

          You’re missing the point. I’m not arguing about scientific consensus. I’m pointing out that your characterization of the decision-making process in the early church of what is and is not orthodox theology as “just a popularity contest” is as wide of the mark as if someone said the same about decision making processes in the science community.

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

          You’re missing the point. The scientific community has objective facts. The religious community is an echo chamber that interprets scripture based on its own internal lens.

          The Christianity we have today isn’t the correct one(s); it’s the one that survived. It’s like breakfast cereal–Cheerios is the “best” only in marketing terms.

        • KarlUdy

          You’re missing the point.

          I’m missing the point?! I thought your point was that the church’s decisions on what was or was not orthodox Christian belief was characterized by:

          there’s no objective evaluation going on here, just a popularity contest.

          At least this is what I am disagreeing with.

          And on the wider level, the existence of the church before the New Testament (and actually all that matters for the argument is that there was a community of believers in the risen Jesus before any NT writings, regardless of any later divergences in theology). And almost every NT writing is dependent on there being such a community.

        • Pofarmer

          It was also very diverse.

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

        Good point. You’d think that if there was a real god behind all this, he’d ensure that the one true strand was maintained and that breakaway sects would be reined in. As it is, Christianity looks like every other made-up religion.

    • Pofarmer

      So, is scientologu evidence for the existance of Xenu?

      • KarlUdy

        It depends. In what sense is Xenu claimed by scientology to be a historical figure?

        The existence of the Church of Scientology is quite important evidence for the founder of the Church of Scientology, but as far as I understand that is L. Ron Hubbard, not Xenu.

    • Lbj

      This comparison of superman with Christ is one of the lamest arguments I have seen in a long while. What’s pathetic is that this is taken seriously by skeptics. No wonder their influence is so small.

      • SuperMark

        again it’s not a comparison. keep beating on that straw man.

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, there’s comparison going on, but Me at best oversimplifies and at worst misdirects as to what are being compared.

  • MichaelNewsham

    Both quotes fromJustas399

    “We know superman is fiction. The authors of the comic never claim that superman was a historical figure.”

    We also know both of those facts about Slenderman.

    “Know anyone who would sacrifice and suffer for superman?”

    The girls claimed that they aspired to be “proxies” of Slender Man when they allegedly lured the victim out to the woods for a game of hide-and-seek the morning after a sleepover

    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/slender-man-stabbing/slender-man-cited-stabbing-ghoul-internet-age-n121741

  • SuperMark

    Posted this below but it got buried and I think everyone here will enjoy this:

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

      (When you upload a photo from your PC, it doesn’t show up immediately, but it’s still there. I think. Gotta love Disqus.)

      • SuperMark

        thanks Bob, i’ve been reading your blog for over a year now but have yet to contribute anything so i’m new to Disqus. how do you pros show quotes with the grey bracket next to it? seems really useful but i can’t figure it out.

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

          [blockquote]Like this[/blockquote]

          Except use angled brackets (less than/greater than) instead of square brackets. And don’t forget that you can edit after you post to correct any mistakes.

          Italics [i]like this[/i]

        • SuperMark

          got it thanks!

        • 90Lew90

          Oops. Just practicing. What do you mean angled brackets? My maths knowledge is nil. (I didn’t pay attention at school.)

        • SuperMark

          i think he meant these

          test

          yup that’s it the greater than less than symbols

        • 90Lew90

          Thanks.

        • Greg G.

          You use the <blockquote> tag. It requires a </blockquote> to close it. The gray bar is browser dependent but it will still be indented.

        • Ron

          Here’s a list you can save for future reference:

          italic = <em>italic</em> (preferred) or <i>italic</i>
          bold = <strong>bold</strong> (preferred) or <b>bold</b>
          strike = <strike>strike</strike>
          underline = <u>underline</u>
          ™ = &trade;
          © = &copy;
          ® = ®reg;
          Google =
          <a href=”http://www.google.com“>Google</a>

          And for those curious as to how I prevented the items within angle brackets from being interpreted as code:

          < = &amplt;
          > = &ampgt;
          & = &amp;

          Other Character Codes

        • SuperMark

          Thanks! Man, i’m going to need to brush up on my HTML!

    • busterggi

      I want the one with the zombies invading Jerulsalem!

      • SuperMark

        He is risen!

        • busterggi

          And he wants braaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnssssssssss!

  • Trent Horn

    The earliest Superman stories describe people and places that are fictional like Metropolis, Smallville, the Daily Planet, Pulitzer Prize winner Lois Lane, etc. In contrast, the Gospels record places and people that we know did exist because they are found in ancient primary sources like Josephus (i.e. Pontius Pilate, Jerusalem, Herod, John the Baptist, Galilee). That makes the cases somewhat different.

    Also, this kind of hyper-skepticism about the historical Jesus is silly. With these standards we couldn’t know anything about ancient history. Was Sparticus made up? Was William Wallace a myth? The evidence for these people is worse than what we have for Jesus (we only have scant information near their deaths and fuller biographies written over 100 years later).

    • 90Lew90

      I’m inclined to agree that this is a bit silly. From as much as I’ve read, I’m happy to admit that there was a radical preacher named Jesus (or Jeshua) living in Palestine at about the right time. The mythology that’s become attached to that figure? Nnnope! Josephus only made mention of Jesus twice. But even to mention Josephus as somehow reliable by our standards is pretty daft. Yes, we know him as an historian, but history wasn’t written with any rigorous regard for the facts of matters — as we would expect from an historian writing today — until Edward Gibbon in the 18th Century, the first modern historian. Before that it was almost de rigeur to “big up” one’s personal heroes. Take Plutarch for instance, with his massive “Lives”, where he paralleled Greek and Roman historical heroes, always favouring the Romans. I have no problem accepting the historical Jesus. It’s all the Chinese-whisper stuff about him that I can’t swallow, which includes pretty much all of the guff in the much-translated, revised, edited, expurgated, fine-tuned, authorised, unauthorised, second-hand accounts in the Bible. The tinkering with that book only began to slow with the emergence of the Guttenberg Press, and even that didn’t stop people messing with it.

      • busterggi

        One of those two mentions of Jesus in Josephus was a completely different Jesus, brother of one of the high priests. The other is mostly, if not completely, interpolated.

    • Margaret Whitestone

      Stephen King books mention places that really exist. His stories must be true.

      • Trent Horn

        Okay, then what criteria do you use to determine if a written work describes things that really happened or is just a work of fiction?

        • Annerdr

          Well, step one is whether it is possible that they could have happened.

      • busterggi

        I know folks from Maine. Its really like that.

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

      Was Sparticus made up?

      Are there supernatural bits of the Spartacus story? Then they were made up. That’s how historians work–they scrub supernatural bits out of the ancient evidence.

      • Trent Horn

        I’m referring just to the existence of the human being Spartacus. This post, with it’s reference to Bob price, seems to imply that Jesus never existed at all just like Superman/Clark Kent have no real world parallel. If we accept spartacus’ exploits even though the contemporary sources we have for him aren’t very good, then I think Jesus, as least as a Galilean preacher, are good as well.

        • Annerdr

          The contemporary sources for Spartacus are actually much better than the contemporary sources for Jesus. Add to that, the sources have no reason to make this up, the story brings them no power or influence AND that the supernatural is downplayed AND that he’s mentioned by several historians from different regions who mention more than just Spartacus AND that his story is overall believable.

          With Jesus, all are focused on the supernatural and all bring some influence to the authors and all are written after his death. Pilate kept records of all crucifixions, but doesn’t mention Jesus. Herod kept records but doesn’t mention killing all of the infant children of the Jews. Augustus Caesar never did a census of the entire empire and if he had, he would not have required people to drop everything and travel to other cities. There was a local census done, but that was after Herod’s death and, again, would not have required anyone to go to Bethlehem from Nazareth. So, the birth and death of Jesus did not happen quite as related in the bible.

          You know, there are books about this stuff. You should read them.

        • Lbj

          The authors of the gospels gained no influence with the secular or religious authorities. Most of the records of the ancient world are lost. Herod may have recorded this but its been lost. I would think he would not want the murder of children recorded.

          You really should read the gospels and some good background commentaries that will help understand the contexts of the times. What you find is that the gospels are well grounded in history.
          BTW- Luke who mentions the census is known by historians as a first rate historian because he gets some many historical details correct.

        • Annerdr

          Luke was a first rate historian except when he made stuff up and presented it as real because it fed into the narrative he was trying to sell. Kind of like David Barton was a first rate historian.

        • Ron

          One wonders why the same God who meticulously guided the pens of those composing the original autographs became so ambivalent about keeping them in circulation, thereby forcing future generations to depend on error-ridden copies of copies instead.

          If those current copies are incongruent on the facts leading up to the resurrection, then what confidence can be placed in their reliability regarding the supernatural elements?

        • Greg G.

          Luke is called a first-rate historian because he is judged by comparing his writing to Josephus, whose writings Luke copied.

        • Trent Horn

          What are you talking about? Our main sources for Spartacus are Plutarch and Appian who wrote 150 – 200 years after he died. If you allow that length of time, then including the Church fathers like Ignatius (who gained no prestige but only martyrdom for referencing Jesus) we have way more evidence for Jesus than Spartacus.

          The fact is you simply have an anti-supernatural assumption right from the start and put forward no evidence to defend that assumption. Also, there are no records from PIlate or Herod. Our primary source for first century Judea is Josephus and maybe Philo. And the census is irrelevant to my point that Jesus who was later worshiped by early Christians did exist.

          You’re right “there are books about this stuff,” but it is you, not I who should read them. Start with Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?”

        • Greg G.

          DJE? is the book that convince me that Jesus never existed and that the scholarly consensus was circularly based on the scholarly consensus and that a case could not be made for Jesus using the evidence we have. Ehrman had to rely on theoretical documents such as Q, M, and L.

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

          You want to argue that Jesus was just a preacher? Go for it. I have no interest in that argument. It’s when you want to say anything supernatural that things get weird.

    • Greg G.

      There is no evidence that Nazareth existed in the first century, either, but there is evidence that Kansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase.

      Mark 2:1 and Mark 9:33 say Jesus lived in Capernaum. Matthew 4:13-16 tries to fix this by having the move from Nazareth to Capernaum done to fulfill Isaiah 9:1-2, as if Matthew had no idea Nazareth was supposed to be in Galilee.

      • wtfwjtd

        And, if IIRC, synagogues in Galilee, and a “ruling class” made up of Pharisees is all pretty much made-up stuff to fit the story.
        Price’s “Shrinking Son of Man” has a lot of good info about how the gospels are swarming with anachronisms, redactions, and creative edits, much like you would expect an entertaining tale with a hero narrative to contain.

  • RichardSRussell

    If Jesus was such hot stuff, why didn’t he leave us some Betamax tapes of his miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection? Granted, nobody at the time would’ve had a clue what they were, but he could’ve said “Here, these are holy relics. Guard them with your lives, and in 2000 years they’ll serve as irrefutable proof for the doubters and heretics.” But no.

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

      And their permanence after 2000 years would be yet more evidence that Jesus was the real deal.

    • wtfwjtd

      You mean kinda like the Holy Hand Grenade from Monte Python? Yea, that would have been pretty cool, all right.

    • Ron
    • Lbj

      No need to. He had eyewitnesses to His life and miracles and we have a record of it even to this day.

      • Greg G.

        We do not have records from any eye witnesses. The earliest writings about him don’t have miracles, teachings, or anecdotes. The miracles and teachings were made up after Jerusalem was destroyed.

        • Lbj

          Not so. There are good to reasons to believe the gospels were written before 70. All four gospels contain the miracles of Christ. It is impossible to separate the miracles from Christ.

        • wtfwjtd

          Showing your double standard again? Paul can’t name a single Jesus miracle, and tells us straight-up it’s because there weren’t any. After the Jesus legend grew with time, these got added later because so many found the story of a rebel rabbi crucified rather bland and unappealing.

        • Lbj

          Huh??? Paul mentions the resurrection of Christ which is the greatest miracle of Christ. Your whole comment is based on a false assumption that is disproven by the facts. It is absurd to think Paul did not know of the miracles of Christ given that before the Damascus road he got letters from the Jewish leadership that knew Jesus performed miracles because they never denied that He did. Paul also spent time with apostles who saw Jesus perform miracles.

        • wtfwjtd

          1 Cor 1:22: “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom…but (all) we preach is (a lousy) Christ crucified…” — Paul, commenting on not knowing of any Jesus miracles.

          Really Jenna, you need to come up with a better argument–this one just doesn’t work, and is completely refuted by Paul.

        • Lbj

          You really should not be quoting Scripture when you don’t understand the context. Its embarrassing.

        • SuperMark

          right right, that’s always the answer to tough questions. “you see… well… yeah that’s what the bible says… but that’s not what it means and here’s why” you can make your holy book say whatever you want. see the previous post where this guy things jebus was a spirit just like Buddha and Krishna, weird shit.

        • wtfwjtd

          Jenna is so stupid she never even gets to the “here’s why you’re wrong” part. It’s always “you’re wrong because I say you’re wrong, and that’s that. So there, I win!”

        • Greg G.

          Paul inferred a resurrection fromHosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10 and his belief that the Messiah was coming. He got the “died for our sins” in 1 Corinthians 15:3 from Isaiah 53:12.

        • Lbj

          Right. That does not mean the resurrection did not happen.

        • Greg G.

          When that and everything else Paul says about Jesus comes from centuries old scripture, it means he didn’t know about a first century Jesus. When Paul says his knowledge is not less than the other apostles, who he has met and spent time with, it means he doesn’t think they know a first century Jesus either. It also means that the epistles are not evidence for Jesus but the lack of teachings and anecdotes are completely consistent with no first century Jesus and completely inconsistent with your belief system.

        • Lbj

          Paul is not getting his info on Jesus from “centuries old scripture” but is using the OT to show that Jesus was predicted in them.

        • Greg G.

          He gives no information from the first century about Jesus. No anecdotes. He complains he has no signs or wisdom from him. Paul gives no hint that he is telling fulfilled prophecy but he does give some prophecies and even that comes from the OT.

        • Lbj

          Paul’s letters are not exhaustive Paul in a number of places in Acts says that Christ appears to him.
          He certainly does beleive he is giving fulfilled prophecy. Here is one place in Romans 1:1-4-“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,”

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          Ironically, the whole existence of Paul means that Christianity is much more like Islam than Christians like to acknowledge.

          Christians say Christianity is better than Islam because Christianity is a “historical account”, while Islam is just what was “revealed” to somebody. But Paul himself never met Jesus, except in a vision. In Galatians 1:11-23, Paul claims he was not taught about Jesus by anyone (i.e., the people who allegedly knew the historical Jesus), but it all came to him in a revelation.

          Then, years later, the only books considered “Gospel” were the ones that aligned with Paul’s teachings.

        • Lbj

          Paul is only one of the apostles in which we have some of his letters. We also have letters from Peter, James, Matthew and John who are in harmony with Paul. Peter acknowledges Paul as an apostle and he was the head apostle. Paul also knew these other apostles and supported him.

          The four gospels are independent from Paul.

        • Pofarmer

          Are you familiar with apocrypha? Scriptures that were not accepted into the Cannon? If The author of luke wrote Acts, and Luke was supposed to maybe be a traveling companion of Pauls, and the author of acts also wrote Luke, then how is it independant of Paul. In fact, since the Gospels were undoubtedly written later than Paul, and sometimes qulte verses Paul himself quoted, how can they be i dependanty of Paul? See, there is a whole lot of stuff that you would really like to be true, that simply can’t be demonstrated.

        • Lbj

          Yes I’m familiar with the apocrypha. Luke does not reference Paul or mention him or his writings in his gospel. If you think I’m wrong then I will need to see some examples that show Luke borrowed from Paul.

          Just because Luke and Paul may have used the same OT Scriptures does not mean Luke got them Paul.

          Here is what Luke says about his gospel:
          ” Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order,most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” Luke 1

          Paul was not an eyewitness to the life of Christ.

        • Pofarmer

          “” Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things
          accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those
          who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it
          seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully
          from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order,most
          excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the
          things you have been taught.” Luke 1″

          You realize that this apes ancient historians, but doesn’t meet the standards, right? For one thing, Luke nowhere lists his sources. I really, really wish I could remember where I read this. Luke is trying to put himself over as an ancient historian in acts, but he doesn’t meet the standards even of that day.

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

          Actually, that’s the one I was thinking about.

        • Greg G.

          The three accounts in Acts are mutually contradictory and each is an exaggeration of anything Paul said. Acts 26:14 is particularly absurd with Jesus quoting Dyonisus.

          Romans 1:1-4-“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,”

          “which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures” is saying that Paul knows nothing of a first century Jesus.

          “descended from David” comes from Isaiah 11:10

          “declared to be the son of God” comes from Psalm 2:7

          The passage does not say that any of that happened in the first century. It could well have happened any time between the writing of Isaiah and the writing of Paul but the lack of first century information shows Paul thought it was long ago.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the lack of first century information shows Paul thought it was long ago.

          is ‘shows’ not a little bit reach-y? i mean, not that i’m even remotely caught up with your homework, but put as plainly as that it looks more like ‘indicates’. or rather that it contraindicates the assumption that he’s reporting current/recent events.

        • Greg G.

          “Shows” is weaker than “proves” and is easier to spell after a long squawk. We can’t be certain what the original writing said so everything about the subject is speculation so I think even a word like “proves” should not be taken to mean much more than “indicates”.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you were shagged out following a prolonged squawk? fair enough. :)

        • Greg G.

          That’s the phrase i was looking for! I resort to Excuse #7 – Too much blood in my caffeine stream – as I wasn’t out of bed yet.

        • Pofarmer

          No, having a brain means the resurection did not happen.

        • Lbj

          How so? If I have good evidence that it did occur then I am justifies in believing it happened. The eyewitness evidence that is in the NT is to strong to refute. All counter arguments against it have failed.

        • Pofarmer

          There is no good evidence that it occured besides old anonymous stories. And, if it did occur, once again, why didn’t the pharisees and saducees convert en masse on the spot? I mean there was an apocalypse of dead saints, fer cryin out loud, it was fukin obvious!

        • Lbj

          If we take your view we would conclude that nothing happened in ancient history since we don’t know for sure who wrote them or if they are telling us the truth. They are all “stories”.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          Corpses do not come back to life. Therefore, Christianity is false.

        • Lbj

          I agree corpses don’t come back to life naturally. They do when they are raised to life again by God.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          Which only happens in fairytales.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul spent time with Cephas and James, and still doesn’t tell of any miracles or personal information.

        • Lbj

          There was no need to say anything about them in his letters. That was not the focus of them to describe the life of Christ in detail.
          Perhaps the people heard it preached about in their services.

        • Pofarmer

          Then you can’t go on making assertion witj NO. FUCKING. EVIDENCE.

        • Lbj

          No I’m not. A world renowned lawyer set out to disprove the resurrection. Here is what it says:

          “Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853)
          Greenleaf, one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School, originally set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all the myths at the heart of Christianity. But this legal scholar came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen.”
          http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/greenleaf.html

          Here we have one of the finest minds to have ever lived and he sets out to disprove the resurrection (which is the cornerstone of Christianity. Disprove the resurrection and you will have disproved Christianity. I Corinthians 15:12-19) and he concludes that it did indeed happen.

          How could this brilliant legal man be hoodwinked?

        • Pofarmer

          Do you have any idea of the advances, hell the invention, of textual criticism since 18 fucking 53m

        • TheNuszAbides

          probably loves (or would love) that “high context culture” excuse for an argument.

        • Greg G.

          None of the gospels were written before 70. Your church is promising steak and feeding you baloney. Randel Helms showed that there are two sets of five miracles. Some sad preachers make a living telling lies to people who don’t know any better.

        • Lbj

          How do you know the gospels were not written before 70? Why don’t they mention the destruction of the temple which Jesus predicted about 40 years before it happened?

        • Greg G.

          Jesus curses the fig tree :: Jesus throws a Temple tantrum
          Fig tree is seen withered later :: ____

          After the destruction of Jerusalem, anyone in the Roman Empire would be able to complete the syllogism.

        • Lbj

          You got me here. I have no idea what you mean.

        • Greg G.

          That’s because you think it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. But if you were a late first century subject of the Roman Empire you would think “Jesus gets mad a tree” -> “tree is found dead”, “Jesus gets mad at Temple” -> “Temple is found dead” but they last part would come to mind automatically. It’s like “nine eleven” triggers the thought of the towers collapssing, if you are older than a teenagers.

        • Lbj

          Actually Jesus is living out a “parable” before His disciples to demonstrate what has happened to the nation. He also cleanses the temple. All of these things had significance for the nation.

        • SuperMark

          yeah the jews did really well after jebus died…

        • Lbj

          Right. Just look at what happened to them in Jerusalem around 70.

        • Greg G.

          Killing other people’s trees and swine for performance art sounds like sin.

        • TheNuszAbides

          sounds like rip-roaring theatre to me!

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

          What’s the problem here? Didn’t you just read what Justas said?! He said that there were eyewitnesses!

          That settles it.

      • SuperMark

        At least Mohammed wrote his own book, allegedly, but at least Islam has that. Couldn’t have jebus found the time to at least write down what he thought was important?

        • Lbj

          Not true. Mohammed was illiterate.

        • SuperMark

          dictated? if i remember correctly paul wrote his letters the same way.

        • Lbj

          What do you mean?

        • SuperMark

          Mohammed dictated the Koran what does it matter if he was illiterate? Didn’t Paul dictate his letters as well?

        • Lbj

          Mohammed could not read or write. I think they wrote the Korans down after he died.

          Paul could write Galatians 6:11 and he could have dictated his letters. Peter appears to have used this method.

        • SuperMark

          That’s not my point, no matter what the truth is Muslims believe that Mohammad personally wrote the Koran. Why didn’t jebus do the same?

        • Lbj

          Jesus doesn’t say. Perhaps He did but we have no record of it.
          I think that God would use the apostles to do so when He would give them “remembrance” of all that He said. John 14:26

        • Scott_In_OH

          Look, this is ridiculous. You can’t possibly argue that the best way to get a message to all of humanity is to do it through 12 or so guys who lived 2000 years ago (but eons after the start of humanity) in a remote Roman province. Is that what you are trying to say?

        • Lbj

          WE have to deal with the historical reality. Jesus Himself said it would start out small and spread to the rest of the world. This has been proven to be historically true.

        • SuperMark

          yes yes, god couldn’t be bothered to reveal himself to humanity as a whole. he had to focus on a bunch of sheep herders 2k years ago in the middle of a desert.

        • Scott_In_OH

          That wasn’t the question. The question was why, if this is the most important message in the history of humanity, and if it is coming from a God who is powerful and loving, is the message coming in such a way that it is unconvincing to so many people, including many who have tried desperately to believe it?

          You appear to be arguing that it is, in fact, a good way to get a message to everyone. I said that’s a ridiculous claim.

        • Pofarmer

          Everything in the world started out small and grew you fucking idiot.

        • Lbj

          So you believe you are an accident of the mindless forces of nature? This is one of the implications of atheism.

        • Pofarmer

          Absolutely, ain’t it grand!

        • satanaugustine

          So was Jesus, thus no writings from him…if he even existed at all.

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

          Fig trees don’t curse themselves, y’know. Jesus had a busy schedule.

      • RichardSRussell

        But look how many people find that “record” unconvincing, because it’s indistinguishable from folk legends that even ardent Christians agree are a crock of shit — stories about Odysseus and the sirens and cyclops, for example.

        Jesus could have come up with something better than that if he was the real thing, right? Something that would’ve actually been convincing to anyone who wasn’t predisposed to fall for the tall tales?

        So, again, if Jesus was such hot stuff, why didn’t he? You say “no need”, but the price of your callous indifference (modeled closely after Jesus’s own) is that billions of people will roast in Hell forever, because he didn’t care enuf to send the very best. If I could just run off a videotape on my own VCR up in Heaven and hand it off to some trusted disciples for safe-keeping, knowing it would save countless millions of justifiably skeptical people from such a grisly fate, I’d do it in a flash, and so would every decent human being I know.

        But not your guy. Oh, no. “Can’t be bothered”, he’d say. “No need,” he’d say. “Let ’em fry. I don’t give a shit.”

        • Lbj

          There have been billions upon billions of people who have believed the gospels. It has changed lives over the centuries and has a had a significant impact on societies over the centuries.

          Those that don’t find them convincing do so for a number of reasons. One is that they have never read them. Another, they have been suckered into the lousy reasoning’s of skeptics. There is a lot of this on this blog. The reasons given by skeptics not to believe in the gospels are some of the lamest reasons you will ever come across.

          Jesus did not come and teach everyone to be convinced of Him. In fact He taught in such a way as to dissuade unbelievers not to believe in Him and yet to make it possible for those who wanted to believe He would give convincing proofs. His miracles were meant to do this. For example when He raised Lazarus from the dead many came to believe in Him but many did not even when a resurrection had taken place before their very eyes.

          You really should read the gospels and see if its His intent to roast people in Hell forever. I know for a fact this is not the case at all.

        • RichardSRussell

          Yeah, well, we’ve all seen what you think of as a “fact”, so color me unimpressed by your testimony. Like CayuseWarrior, you have a highly inflated view of the wonderfulness of your own opinion, completely ignoring the fact that it’s not shared by most self-proclaimed Christians. So I ask you the same question I asked of him: Why should we believe you, when the only evidence you have to offer us is your own (worthless) word for what you claim is true?

        • wtfwjtd

          Psst…Richard….Justas is Jenna Black. You’ve probably already figured that out but…*that’s* why (s)he has such a “highly inflated view of the wonderfulness of her own opinion”.

        • Greg G.

          Justus seems dumber than Cody. Just a troll.

        • Lbj

          Right. A troll that you can’t refute.

        • TheSquirrel

          Hard to “refute” somebody when they are so singularly obsessed with their world view that they will ignore counter points, stoop to logical fallacies (the same ones, over and over again even after they are pointed out) and assume the tenants of their belief are true without even testing them and getting upset at people who don’t believe without providing them the evidence they want.
          At the very least you will push your goal posts until your claim is unfalsifiable and then declare victory.

        • Lbj

          Give some examples.

        • TheSquirrel

          I could do that, or you could re-read your posts and find them for yourself. There are resources that will help you identify these logical errors.
          Alright fine, already called you out on this one, so answer this. The argument from popularity. How does the number of believers influence the truth of the belief?
          It does not. That is one example of a logical fallacy you have used in your arguments.

        • Lbj

          I’m not arguing that because a lot of people believe in Christianity that makes it true. Rather it does show that many people have found it true based on the evidence.

        • TheSquirrel

          It does not show that at all! People believe all sorts of crap with little or no reason to do so.
          One could easily make the same baseless claim for any major religion.
          If so many people believe based on evidence, where is this evidence?

        • Pofarmer

          Just fyi, this has been pointed out to this dumbass for days.Jj

        • TheSquirrel

          He seems to have many problems with basic logic, like just because he believes and declares it to be doesn’t make it fact, but he refuses to see it.

        • Lbj

          This is exactly what you and the other atheists are doing. Not one has given any evidence why anyone should believe atheism is true. There is nothing to support it.

        • TheSquirrel

          Ok, let’s see if this will get through to you.
          In the question of theology, there is a positive claim “God exists”. In any debate, the burden of proof rests on those with the positive claim. Over the many thousands of years theologists have argued not one has produced evidence that god exists and their logical arguments (which aren’t evidence anyway) are full of holes and fallacious thinking.
          The Atheist disbelieves the positive claims of theists because of this lack of evidence. Sure there are those atheists who claim there is no god, that is a negative claim and literally can not be proved, just as you could never prove there are no unicorns.
          I don’t go that far. I simply disbelieve (in god and unicorns, and I think we have something in common there). I would change my belief if evidence (real evidence not this “look how pretty a flower is”) were offered.
          No one but you, however, can change your mind about god because it is not about facts and evidence to you, it is about faith.
          In summery, the burden of proof is on those with the positive claim, and by trying to shift the burden of proof you expose how little foundation your position has.

        • Lbj

          Both atheist and Christians bear the burden of proof for their positions. Both positions have implications and questions to answers.

        • TheSquirrel

          I’m sorry, but you are wrong. A weak atheist makes no claim, he rejects the claim of theists. I don’t have anything to prove, and no amount of proof would persuade you. That is where we are different. I would believe if there was evidence.

        • Lbj

          Give me some counter facts that shows I am wrong. Not assertions but facts.

        • TheSquirrel

          I’m going to say this again because it probably needs repeating, and I’m trying to find a way you will understand…
          You can’t shift the burden of proof onto the person who questions the claim. You make the claim (god exists). I question that claim. You need to defend the claim.
          Let’s say I told you there is a teapot in orbit around the earth somewhere between earth and mars (that’s a lot of space, btw), and you are skeptical. How would you like it if I told you YOU had to gather the evidence to support the antithesis of my claim? You don’t even deny my claim, you are simply skeptical. Replace the orbiting teapot with unicorns, leprechauns, fairies, santa claus, the lockness monster, god, it doesn’t matter.
          The person questioning the claim has nothing to prove, they are simply awaiting evidence to support the claim that is made so it can be examined.
          I’m waiting.

        • Lbj

          Evidence of the existence of God:
          1- creation of the universe
          2- fine tuning of the universe
          3- the fine tuning of the earth:
          a) orbit around the sun
          b) the sun is just right in size and energy output
          c) our location in the galaxy
          d) gravity is just right
          e) distance from the sun
          f) the properties of water
          I could go on and give another 100 characteristics that are the necessary for life here.

          The life and ministry of Christ shows there is a God.

        • Pofarmer

          Too much apologetics will do that to you. True Believer.

        • Lbj

          I never claimed “all” people believe it. Many non-christian religions have a lot of followers. No denying that either.
          No everyone believes things based on evidence. Atheists are examples of this. Their is no evidence for atheism being true.

          The evidence for Christianity being true is:
          1- the existence of God seen in creation and our world. He is the best explanation for the design and the fine tuning.
          2- the reliability of the gospel accounts
          3- the life of Christ
          4- His resurrection.

          If you want to defeat Christianity then refute one or more of these points with some facts. If you can’t then you should reconsider the evidence for it again.

        • TheSquirrel

          Atheism is not based on evidence, you are correct. It is based on the lack of evidence for any gods. Let’s go through your “points”
          1. No. Go read God, The Devil and Darwin by Naill Shanks and come back to me.
          2. Right with their four different accounts of the same event and several timeline problems and events that never occurred. Also, no one knows who wrote them, so…

          3. We have no evidence there even was a christ except in the minds of those who wrote the gospels
          4. What is your evidence this ever occurred?

          I don’t need to defeat christianity, it defeated itself in the light of patient skeptical inquiry.

        • Lbj

          The atheists cannot even begin to offer any evidence against the existence of God. There is plenty of evidence for the existence of God such as the origin of the universe, the design in the universe and our world and the life and resurrection of Christ. There are probably at least 50 arguments for the existence of God.

          2- The timelines for the event are explainable. Even if there were errors that would not rule out it did not happen. The names on the 4 gospels have always been associated with them. Matthew and John were disciples. Mark wrote down what Peter told him, Luke investigated everything carefully. The early i.e. those closes to the time of the apostles also would have known who wrote them.

          3-No scholar who studies in the field denies Jesus existed. Not even the Jesus Seminar or Bart Erhman deny His existence.

          4- The evidence that this occurred are:
          1- the gospel account which are proven to be historically true.
          2- the birth of the church can only be explained by the resurrection.
          3- the impact of Christians down through the centuries.

        • TheSquirrel

          Did you read that book I suggested? The argument from design is (charitably) not a settled issue and (uncharitably) pseudo-science nonsense that has no evidence to support it (as apposed to naturalistic evolution and the physics of cosmology. One does not even need god to start the universe. This is what you learn when you pull yourself away from xtian apologetics and actually observe the scientific evidence of the last couple of decades. Learning is hard, it’s true. But there is no more rewarding pursuit.)

          2: So before Jesus is born a particular governor (don’t remember the name) started a census. Then, after Jesus was born Harod killed all the little babies (no one but the bible mentions this by the way, dispite Harod being universally reviled.) Unfortunately, that doesn’t make sense because that particular governor didn’t even begin his rule until after Harod’s death!

          3: They don’t deny it, but they have no evidence either. It seems most likely the Jesus story is based on a real person or an amalgam of persons, but there is no evidence for this either. The wisest thing to say at this point is “we don’t know”.

          4:1: The same could be said of any religion
          2: The same could be said of any religion
          3: The same could be said of any religion (as a special bonus note I should point out that the “impact of christians through the centuries” has been overwhelmingly negative, and not exactly evidence of a people inspired by an all-loving god.)

        • Lbj

          Help me out. Do you believe that our world does not look designed? That it looks like a hodgepodge of bits and pieces held together with scotch tape?

          2- need more info for your assertion about the governor and that he could not have held office twice.

          3- What there is no evidence for is “the Jesus story is based on a real person or an amalgam of persons”. The fact is we do know and have known for 2000 years.

          4- what other religions claim and demonstrate before eyewitnesses that they are God? Which one of the founders have demonstrated before eyewitnesses of raising the dead, giving sight to the blind and curing disease? If you have evidence I will need to see the source documents that makes these claims.

          It was Christians in the early centuries that preserved and helped so many. They started hospitals and educated the poor. What did the atheists do in this period?

        • TheSquirrel

          Appearances are not reality (you know this from illusions). The argument from design relies on metaphors between man made machines and things that are not man made machines. Metaphors have the inherent flaw that they can only help us understand, they do not actually produce evidence.

          2: There is no evidence he did. The argument he did has no evidence to support it.

          3: Defend that claim.

          4: “Eyewitnesses”? If by that you mean unknown authors who wrote the books decades after the alleged events, then you need a different word because they were not (or at least there is no evidence they were) eyewitness. Also the miracle claims made in the bible are not unique and you are ignorant of the subject if you disagree.

          Christianity has held back and punished scientists and those with different opinions, the crusades, the inquisition, witch hunts, holding back general literacy, defending slavery, the oppression of homosexuals and the deaths of atheists? The small good a few kind christians have done excuses non of the horrors perpetrated by the expansion of christianity.

        • Lbj

          If appearances are not reality then how do you drive down the street without killing yourself and others? How does that work?

          The reason design is so powerful is that some many things are fined tuned such as a cell. A car requires an intelligent mind and builder and is less complex than a cell. If the car requires an intelligence how much more a cell which is far more complex?

          2- There is a Latin inscription that has been interpreted to refer to the Quirinius serving as governor on 2 occasions

          3- The gospel accounts have been shown to be historically reliable and written while the eyewitness were alive.

          4- we know who wrote the gospels in a couple of ways.

          1- Papias in the 2nd century mentions the authors

          2- the names associated with the gospels have always been.

          Even if the miracles of the Bible are not unique it would not mean they did not happen.

          It is true some in the name of Christ have done evil. However, this is an abuse of Christ and not what He taught. The impact on society by Christianity has been overwhelmingly positive. It was Christians who founded some of the great universities of our country such as Princeton and Harvard. .

          Where is your evidence that Christianity has “holding back general literacy, defending slavery, the oppression of homosexuals and the deaths of atheists?

          Talk about intolerance just look at what happens today when someone speaks against homosexuality. People can lose their jobs and atheists do nothing about it.

        • TheSquirrel

          Excuse me, let me clarify. Appearances are not NECESSARILY reality. I appear quite stationary right now, but I’m not. I’m on a spinning globe that is traveling around the sun along with all the planets which is traveling around the center of our galaxy which is hurtling through space…

          You are making the metaphor mistake here. We KNOW cars are designed because we designed them. You can not prove something through metaphor.

          2: Do you have a link or reference?

          3: No they haven’t. Defend that claim because you are wrong. I think the apologetics world would have literally jizzed and I surely would have noticed.

          4:1: In the 2nd century!!!! How the fuck does he know who wrote the gospels he’s over a century older than them!!!
          2: The names of the books prove their authorship how?

          Princeton and Harvard… again, the small kindness shown by good people (who would likely have been good with or without religion) does not excuse the horrible human rights violated by christianity. Overwhelmingly positive, and you give me two universities while I am sitting piles of the abused and the dead. You’re going to have to do better than that to defend that claim.

          When Guttenburg wanted to print the bible in the local language so anyone could read it, he was threatened with death by the church and had to flee. “Holding back general literacy”

          When talk of ending slavery came up early in american history it was overwhelmingly the religious argument that was used for keeping it. “Defending slavery”

          Do you even news? Really hope I don’t need to tell you how awful people are when they throw their religion at homosexuals.

          When someone speaks out about homosexuality? You mean when someone is a loudmouth bigot. Good riddance, the human race ill needs such divisive ideals, and no business wants to associate with someone who will drive away their customer base. Losing their job is the consequences of THEIR hate and intolerance. Don’t get it twisted.

        • Lbj

          What have atheists done historically to end slavery or educate the poor? Who can you name was a great atheist that worked to end slavery because atheism is true?

          On the issue of homosexuality Christians who take the Bible seriously must stand against the promotion of homosexuality because it is sin and also very unhealthy.

          No one is a bigot who speaks out against homosexuality. It is unnatural and it leads to very unhealthy consequences. Look up the Center for Disease Control on diseases associated with same sex sex. It is the intolerant ones who can’t handle those who speaks against it. Are you like them?

        • TheSquirrel

          That is merely tangentially related, you’re changing the subject and avoiding the issue. I suppose that means you have no further defense of the christian religion having an “overwhelmingly positive impact”? Once you concede that point we can move on…

          Homosexuals do not choose to be gay. How can it be a sin then?
          Nobody “promotes” homosexuality. Homosexuals are gay, they have every right to express their sexuality. The concept of “sin” (which relies on the existence of your god, an unproven concept I will remind you) has done much to harm homosexuals and prevent them from exercising their human rights under the law.

          They do not choose to be gay and treating them negatively because of it is the definition of bigotry. You can’t just redefine words because you dislike the implications.

          It’s not unnatural. Many animals (monkeys, apes, penguins, frogs, I could go on) demonstrate homosexuality. If it is so unnatural, why is it so prevalent in nature?

          There are no diseases “associated with same sex sex”. Any of the diseases you will site are all transmittable through sex no matter who is involved.

          I am proud to say I am intolerant of intolerance. I hate hatred, and I am a bigotry bigot. If you will deny our common human rights and the dignity they give us, I can’t say as you’d be my friend.

          If people are intolerant of religiously based lies regarding homosexuality then good on them. After all (and this is childish I’ll admit) on the subject of intolerance, the religious bigots started it. I guess they can dish it out, but try and give it back and they whine about abuse and intolerance. It’s like they don’t even see themselves.

        • Lbj

          So you agree that atheists have done nothing to end slavery based on atheism?

          Christianity has a far far greater positive impact on the world than atheism. I can’t think of one good thing that atheists have done for the world based on atheism. Can you? It doesn’t inspire anyone nor lead to greater knowledge as Christianity has.

          Have same sex tendencies is not a sin. Acting on them is. Same for heterosexuals. Acting on them outside of marriage (man and woman) is sin.

          Take your head out of the sand. Homosexuality is being promoted heavily. That’s why the homosexual lobbies are intolerant against anyone who speaks against them. You also are intolerant. Homosexuals are not having any rights taken from them. That is lie.

          Lets see if there are no diseases associated with same sex sex:
          “In 2010, gay and bisexual men accounted for 63% of estimated new HIV infections in the United States and 78% of infections among all newly infected men. From 2008 to 2010, new HIV infections increased 22% among young (aged 13-24) gay and bisexual men and 12% among gay and bisexual men overall.

          Among all gay and bisexual men, white gay and bisexual men accounted for 11,200 (38%) estimated new HIV infections in 2010. The largest number of new infections among white gay and bisexual men (3,300; 29%) occurred in those aged 25 to 34.

          Among all gay and bisexual men, black/African American gay and bisexual men accounted for 10,600 (36%) estimated new HIV infections in 2010. The largest number of new infections among black/African American gay and bisexual men (4,800; 45%) occurred in those aged 13 to 24. From 2008 to 2010 new infections increased 20% among young black/African American gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24.

          Among all gay and bisexual men, Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men accounted for 6,700 (22%) estimated new HIV infections in 2010. The largest number of new infections among Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men (3,300; 39%) occurred in those aged 25 to 34.”
          http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/gender/msm/facts/index.html

          You need to get facts straight before you make comments like are doing.

          You should also read up how this homosexual movement started and what’s driving it. It was not the church that stated this.

        • TheSquirrel

          No one will ever convince you that you are wrong except yourself and that is what makes us different. You have failed to convince me. Your arguments are weak and your facts (especially about homosexuality) are lies or else misrepresented (The argument of HIV is 1. Still transmittable no matter what the orientation and 2. Far more complex, you are cherry picking the data and removing outside variables to make it appear the way you want it to.)
          I’m done here.

        • Lbj

          Don’t go by opinion. Read the gospels and deal with what Christ taught and did.

          I’m not impressed either by your opinions against Christianity and the Bible. I don’t find them well thought out.

        • SuperMark

          So you’re okay with non-believers being punished for eternity? Has there really been no one in your life you loved that you think is in hell?

        • Lbj

          I don’t like hell either. I wish it was not going to be. I wish everyone was going to heaven forever but that is not what Christ taught. He was clear that there is going to be a judgement for everyone and they will give an account to Him. And some will be condemned.

        • SuperMark

          Oh yeah, i know the doctrine and it’s not just that i don’t like it, I fundamentally reject it. No god who is willing to condemn people to eternal torment is either perfectly good or just or worthy of worship.

          Even if jebus appeared to me in the flesh and told me the whole bible is truth i would still reject him. No, i would fight him to the very end.

          Proof your bible is wrong: i will never kneel before this monster, and if it is true and he compels me to do it then what is the point.

        • Lbj

          You can reject it but that does not mean its ceases to exist or is not going to happen to many people.

          You will bend the knee to Christ someday. Either willingly or by force.

        • SuperMark

          Yeah god sounds like such a great guy, worship me or else.

          This is the problem with religion, it makes normal people like yourself think atrocities are okay, not even okay but just and good.

          sounds like god has some insecurity issues…

          okay how about this i will never kneel before your god, i would like to see him try and make me.

        • Lbj

          If your an atheist then don’t tell me about the evil of atrocities because there is no such thing as evil in atheism.

          In the judgement you will bend the knee. Like Jesus said–“”Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

        • SuperMark

          Total BS, and a weak straw man. just because i don’t believe morality comes from the man in the sky doesn’t mean that morality doesn’t exist. this is a very weak argument that has been address buy men much smarter than anyone here. if you went through the trouble to read something other than the bible and books that fit into your world view then you would understand.

          and i’m not an atheist… i really doubt anyone here is, atheism is an opinion. agnosticism is the world view.

        • Lbj

          Ok. What is the objective standard in atheism-agnosticism that tells you what is good or evil? Who or what is your authority that tells you this?

        • RichardSRussell

          I’m not the one trying to pass of this incredible crock of bullshit as fact — you are. The burden of demonstrating the validity of what you claim is on you. Just saying “read this book, you’ll be as convinced by it as I was” clearly isn’t gonna work, since I was not at all convinced by your Grim Fairy Tales. Just as you wouldn’t be convinced by reading the Koran, or the Book of Mormon, or the Zend Avesta, or the Bhagavad Gita. You’d recognize them for the overblown folk tales and braggadocio that they are. Yet you’re blind to the very same thing when it appears in your favorite brain-parasite operation manual.

        • Lbj

          One thing I have over you is that billions of people over the centuries have been convinced by the gospels. Many far smarter than you.

          Since you claim the gospels are “Grim Fairy Tales” then you need to demonstrate that with some facts. Just asserting doesn’t make it so.

          I’m here to defend the Bible and not other religious books.

          Where is the proof for your beliefs? What facts are they based on?

        • RichardSRussell

          More billions have not.

          Some smarter than me, many dumber, shitloads more worse informed.

          Furthermore, thruout the course of history, many more people believed the world was flat than believed the Bible, so you can see where your appeal to mass error is getting you.

          It is clear that you are here to defend the Bible and not other books. Why is that? You keep challenging us to read the Bible. Have you read those other books, or did you just stop looking after the first one you stumbled upon?

          Again, you ask me to defend my beliefs, but I have not adduced any. All I’ve done is challenge yours. You are the one who’s trying to push your favorite fairy tale, so it’s up to you to justify it. Which you seem to be inclined to do by saying “Well, lots of other people believe it, too”, as if that’s supposed to be an argument.

        • Lbj

          God’s revelation to man is found in the Bible and not in those other books. So there is no need for me to spend much time with them unless I was in dialogue with adherents of them

          You have beliefs just like I do. You are trying to get me to believe like you do. I can’t do that because we both know there is no real substance to them. You have no way to know if they are true. .

        • SuperMark

          and neither do you. you sound like a muslum, why do i need to learn anything other than the koran it has all of the answers. why go to school at all when everything you need to know is right here in this one book? thankfully too many people disagree with you that’s why we’re here on the internet instead of still being stuck in the dark ages.

        • Lbj

          If you want to use the Koran or any other holy book then be my guest.
          You do have an advantage over me. As an atheist you can make things up without trying to justify how you know.

        • Pofarmer

          Look, that last sentence is a bald faced lie. What most here have been trying to explain to your poor, dumb, brainwashed ass, is why we believe what we believe.

        • Lbj

          Its not a lie. Atheists have to make things up. They have to tell themselves their lives have value when in reality there is nothing in the universe that tells them this. The atheist lies when he says there is no God because he would have to know the universe exhaustively. That we all know is not true.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          God’s revelation to man is found in the Bible and not in those other books. So there is no need for me to spend much time with them…

          In other words, it’s true because you said so, so there. And no other book could have truth because you said so, so there. And any further research, which might actually show you the similarities between your holy book and that of other faiths, is of no purpose whatsoever….

          Willingly making yourself ignorant is not a way to impress others in a debate.

        • Lbj

          See my previous comment to Richard.
          Have you read these other books?

        • RichardSRussell

          God’s revelation to man is found in the Bible and not in those other books.

          So you claim. How do you know?

          Yes, everyone here believes that you’ve convinced yourself. What do you have to offer to convince anybody else? Nothing. You yourself admit that you haven’t even scoped out the competition, you’ve just blindly accepted the first “holy book” that came down the road. What if you’re wrong?

        • Lbj

          This is what Jesus said. He is the final and full revelation of God. His words and deeds attest to this. Anything that contradicts Christ or the Scriptures is false by definition.

          If i’m wrong then the sacrifices I have made are futile. It was a waste if atheism is true.

          What if your wrong and I’m right?

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          “I’m right because I decided I’m right” might be a comforting worldview, to you, but it’s not an effective approach if you expect to win others over to your way of thinking. Really, are you even trying anymore?

        • Lbj

          I’m not claiming “I’m right because I decided I’m right” . I think I’m right because its in line with what Christ taught. His is my authority and He is the ultimate authority in which all of mankind will be held accountable to. See Matthew 25:31-46

        • RichardSRussell

          This is what Jesus said.

          Wrong. That’s what the end message of a long game of Telephone claims he said.

          He is the final and full revelation of God.

          Again, you simply assert this — an unsubstantiated declarative sentence — with absolutely no reason for anybody to believe it. Muslims don’t believe it; they have a later book. Mormons don’t believe it; they have a still later book. Hindus don’t believe it; they have an earlier book. They all think they’re right and you’re wrong, and their books support their position. Why are you right and they’re not?

          If i’m wrong then the sacrifices I have made are futile. It was a waste if atheism is true.

          Yes, I can see why it would be psychologically difficult for you to admit that you’ve been misled all along, but it’s true, and the sooner you face up to reality, the sooner you’ll be free of the chains you’re dragging around.

        • Lbj

          Telephone example does not apply to the gospels because the gospels are written documents.

          My claims are not unsubstantiated. The gospels are reliable eyewitness accounts and have been shown to be historically accurate.

          Any view that a person has that is contrary to what Christ taught is false because Christ is God and the highest authority.

          You have no evidence that atheism is true. One of the things you would have to have is exhaustive knowledge of the universe since before the universe began. Do you claim that?

        • RichardSRussell

          You have no evidence that atheism is true. One of the things you would have to have is exhaustive knowledge of the universe since before the universe began.

          I have no idea why you would say that. I need only fairly simple knowledge to understand that 2 + 2 is not equal to 5, that stones do not fall upward, that people don’t arise from the dead, or that the Telephone analogy held true for several decades before anyone ever got around to writing down your favorite fairy tales. Complete knowledge of the universe is hardly necessary to poke holes in something as preposterous as what you’re adducing here.

        • Lbj

          So we agree there is no evidence for atheism being true?
          Atheism must stand or fall on its own. Thats why you need some evidence that it is true. So far there is none. It is atheism that is a fairy tale and not Christianity.

          The teachings of Jesus were done for the most part in public and people could have taken notes of His teachings. Also the teachings are easily memorized.
          The other reason why they were not forgotten was due to the miracles. These miracles reinforced their memories that would help them to remember years later. We know when something out of the ordinary happens we don’t forget it easily. Take 911 as an example. I can still remember what time and where i was and with who went i first heard of it. I can’t remember the day before at all but that day is still clear as day to me. The reason is that something so extraordinary happened that day that reinforced my memory. Apply this to the miracles of Christ. If you had witnessed someone rising from the dead you would never forget it even if 40 years had passed. What this means is that there are good reasons to accept the gospels as what did indeed happen. .

        • RichardSRussell

          So we agree there is no evidence for atheism being true?

          At the risk of boredom, I repeat that atheism is making no claims. You are. It’s thus your responsibility to come up with evidence for God belief, and so far all you’ve managed to come up with is a bunch of 2000-year-old folk tales no better than similar stories from other religions that you admit aren’t worthy of being believed. You are your own worst witness.

          I remember the time I saw David Copperfield walk thru the Great Wall of China, too, but that doesn’t mean he actually did it.

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

          People remember important things so therefore Jesus? I think you’re missing some steps in there.

        • Pofarmer

          Joseph smith is the most recent, and the real deal according to millions.

        • Lbj

          And Smith has been shown to be wrong on some of his claims.

        • Scott_In_OH

          If i’m wrong then the sacrifices I have made are futile. It was a waste if atheism is true.

          That’s quite depressing to hear.

          I never believed like that when I was a strong Christian. I never felt like it would all have been a waste if Christianity were false.

          I had good friends and family, an ethos of giving, a commitment to honesty and not hurting others, and someone to whom I could turn in times of joy and sorrow. I still have all of that as a humanist, except now I have to find actual people to turn to in times of joy and sorrow.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          Hi, you must be new here! If you had ever spent time on atheist blogs before, you would know that a good many atheists are ex-Christians. We reject the Bible because we read it and discovered it was false, not because we just can’t be bothered to read it. Stick around and read what these skeptics say about the Bible. You might learn something.

        • Lbj

          I like dialoguing with ex-Christian atheists. I’m well acquainted with the arguments against the Bible and I’m amazed that these ex-Christians atheists were persuaded by them.

        • SuperMark

          some of us persuaded ourselves, i left the faith before i researched all of the problems with the bible. the christian worldview simply does not fit with reality.

        • Lbj

          What makes you think you know reality now? What is your authority that tells you that your beliefs are true about things you cannot measure scientifically?

        • SuperMark

          you hit the nail on the head! the bible does not stand up to scientific inquiry. i have no reason to believe in the supernatural so i do not. it’s that simple.

        • Lbj

          So you know the universe so exhaustively that it is impossible for God to exist and miracles are impossible and that there is no life after death?

        • SuperMark

          no… that’s the difference between atheism and agnosticism. atheism is just my opinion agnosticism is my worldview.

          how do you know for sure god does exist, or do you just want to use pascals wager on this one?

        • Lbj

          It has been said that agnostic is a gutless atheist.
          I think God exist because of the world around me. There are just to many coincidences for our world to exist as it is. I also think what I read in the gospels is the One who created everything. The life of Christ is to powerful of a witness for the existence of God to dismiss.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          So you know the universe so exhaustively that it is impossible for God to exist and miracles are impossible and that there is no life after death?

          Perform just one miracle for us. Read my mind, or send a ball of fire through my window to light a candle, or cause me to speak in tongues. The point isn’t that we know conclusively miracles don’t exist. It’s just that, in all my years of being a Christian, I never saw one. I have seen countless instances called miracles that were psychological, lucky coincidences, or actually faked. So it is upon you to show us a miracle, not upon us to prove no miracle has ever existed, anywhere.

        • Lbj

          I don’t have such powers to do miracles etc. Most Christians don’t see miracles or recognize them if they happen.
          I do know this though that the miracles of Christ were not fakes.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          Oh. So glad you cleared that up for me. I guess my only logical choice is to convert now, as my argument has been thoroughly and intelligently refuted.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          What’s really funny for me is how many of the ‘arguments’ I came up with on my own. I didn’t discover a book of Biblical contradictions one day, that made me suddenly become an atheist. Once I made the mental leap to, “Maybe the Bible’s not the word of God,” suddenly it was like my eyes opened up. The story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac isn’t a challenging call to faith; it’s just a horrible story. The story of Achan isn’t a morality tale about obeying God; it’s an account of superstition and scapegoating. The verses about women submitting because they are inferior aren’t “difficult to interpret”, they’re just wrong. Etc.

        • Lbj

          Have you ever considered the implications of your atheism?

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          Which implications? That there is no god? That I don’t get any afterlife of any kind? That, if and when I gain the courage to be honest with my parents and family, they will be hurt, and probably hate me, and maybe even cut me off even though they’ve been loving and supportive of me all my life?

          Yes, I have thought about those implications. Some of them terrify me. For a while I was horribly depressed and kept praying for god to prove me wrong. I was afraid of death. But you know what? It gets better. I am learning that people can live without a god, and can be happy without a god, and even be good people without a god. It’s actually an incredibly freeing experience.

        • Lbj

          Here are some of the implication for atheism.
          1- life is ultimately meaningless because there is no accountability for your life and you cease to exist at death. You can tell yourself your life has meaning but you have to lie to yourself since the universe does not give meaning to anyone.
          2- you will never see a loved one again
          3- you are of no more value than a rock.
          4- you will be forgotten
          5- there is no reason to be good because it ultimately matter what you do.
          These are just some of the terrible implications of atheism

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          See, now you’re not giving reasons why your God is real. Instead, you’re trying to scare me with the horrors of real life (as you see it). The implication is real life is much too scary, and we should just crawl back inside your cozy little fantasy world in order to be happy.

          If you need an imaginary friend to be happy, that’s your business. But when you start trying to force everyone else to obey your imaginary friend, suddenly you and I have a problem.

        • Lbj

          God is real because there is good evidence for Him. I’m sure you have heard of some of these arguments such as the design and fine tuning of the universe and our world. The life of Christ is another piece of the evidence.

          No doubt we do need help in life many times for something greater than ourselves. As a Christian I can pray to God, read Scripture for encouragement etc. The atheist must withstand the negative forces in life on his own and without hope.

        • SuperMark

          some of the arguments, not evidence, for god are very compelling. but none of them have anything to do with jebus. just because there might be a god then it must be jebus, i don’t get it.

          thank you! i think that last part was the most honest thing you’ve said so far. you are very correct i don’t need god to deal with life, and i’ll be the first to admit it can be very difficult. but i’m still strong enough without him.

        • Lbj

          You must be young or prosperous. When you get older and things don’t go your way then that’s when the rubber meets the road.

          For the gospels to be true, God must exist otherwise they are frauds.

        • SuperMark

          they are all frauds

        • Lbj

          You might want to read some scholarly works on this. Does Price and Bart also claim that the gospels are frauds?

        • SuperMark

          oh i’ve read it all trust me, 12 years of private christian schooling, 3 years at Liberty University. I’ve pretty much seen it all.

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

          You know that Price and Ehrman are both atheists, right?

        • Greg G.

          1 & 5 are stupid. I accept 2, 3, & 4. It makes life all the more meaningful while it exists and why each second is precious.

          The same holds for you but you miss out on the best in life by expecting something better when you die.

        • Lbj

          1- How could life have meaning in a meaningless universe? How could it have meaning if you cease to exist at death?
          5- making sacrifices for others takes away valuable and finite resources from your happiness. You only have one life and that’s it.

          If I’m wrong then someone of the sacrifices I have made would be futile and a waste.

        • Greg G.

          1. I am not the universe. My life has meaning to me. When I cease to exist, I will no longer care whether my life has meaning. It has a lot of meaning to me until then. At least the meaning of my life isn’t stroking the ego of an insecure omnipotence, telling him he did the right thing torturing everybody else and thanking him for not torturing me forever, day in, day out, forever and ever.

          5. We are social creatures. We can sacrifice and work together to make things better to get a better life than working alone with no sacrificing. I have only one life and it is my responsibility to make it worthwhile while I can. Making the world a better place to live makes my life better, too. It’s people who are saving up treasures for the afterlife that are the drain on the rest of us.
          If you had to sacrifice, it is probably because prayer doesn’t work.

        • Lbj

          1-he reality though you have real meaning. You are no more significant in the universe than a speck of dust.

          5-Here is what a famous atheist said about doing good:
          “Ayn Rand – Live totally for self; no one holds you accountable! Indeed, it would be foolish to do anything else, for life is too short to jeopardize it by acting out of anything but pure self-interest. Sacrifice for another person would be stupid.”

          Dawkins also has some insight into this:

          ““The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
          ― Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

          I have to admit Dawkins is willing to admit what most atheist won’t.

        • SuperMark

          ayn rand was a narcissistic bigoted racist asshole. and here’s an idea you might be familiar with: the dawkins quote is out of context. even if it wasn’t he’s completely correct. however you are missing his point. i’m guessing you didn’t read the book or you wouldn’t have used the quote. because the point he is trying to make in this book is that the meaning of life is not intrinsic, we are the only ones who can give our lives meaning.

          it is very insulting to presume that my life has no meaning without god. and it’s even more insulting when your god supposedly said that all the good I’ve done in my life means shit to him (something about filthy rags if i remember correctly). your book never gave me peace in my life, i have more peace now than i ever did when i was like you.

        • Lbj

          Rand is right though and so is Dawkins. You can tell yourself your life has meaning but in reality it doesn’t. What I hear a lot from atheist is that they want reality and when faced with it via their atheism they lie to themselves and say they can create meaning for themselves when there is none. That is not reality.

        • SuperMark

          leave it to a christian to claim to know what is in my heart. my life has meaning, that’s so unbelievably insulting.

        • Pofarmer

          This has gotten bizarre. Justas399 needs to tell all the non Christians on the planet their lives are meaningless. What a bigoted, brain-dead asshole. I would like to see, just once, some evidence that this universe we are in, has some meaning. Is there some meaning to the fact that my youngest son was born with a rare genetic disorder that has required two bone-marrow transplants and numerous hospital visits? Is there some meaning to a squirrel getting run over in the road?

        • wtfwjtd

          It’s interesting how Justas sounds suspiciously like Jenna Black, isn’t it?

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          I like the part, higher up in the thread, where he told me that merely claiming someone is a god isn’t enough to prove they are a god. And also where he said if he heard about a miracle, he’d wand to know the names of some eyewitnesses so he could check it out himself.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, it’s always a hoot when the standards for evidence are ridiculously low to non-existant for their particular brand of crazy, but suddenly the bar gets raised impossibly high for the nutty religious claims of others. Who would have guessed?

        • Greg G.

          That was epic.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, Jenna Black was almost sane compared to Justus, but the arguments have certainly devolved to a similar point.

        • Greg G.

          After all the arguments were defeated as Jenna, she came back as Cody and got the same argumments refuted again. Are we seeing a mental disease creeping in?

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

          Yeah, but surely Jenna is much wiser now and wouldn’t make dumb mistakes anymore. Right?

        • wtfwjtd

          But that’s the thing, Jenna, Cody, and Justas have no arguments, just assertions. That’s how you can tell they’re all one and the same.

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

          Wait a minute–three persons and yet the same … Jenna is the Trinune® God!!

        • wtfwjtd

          It’s a mystery brother, God(s) works in mysterious ways.

        • Pofarmer

          1

        • wtfwjtd

          I think you meant that in past tense Greg, as in “crept in”. Either way, the answer is “yes”.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s almost like groundhog day, the same bad assertions over and over and over.

        • Lbj

          Actually the atheists need to do this. Use the Dawkins quote since he is one of them. They will listen to him.

        • Lbj

          Dawkins and Rand are also saying your life is ultimately meaningless. They are insulting you to but they are right if atheism is true. The truth does not insult.

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

          Does your life have ultimate meaning? If so, how do you know? (And quotes from your holy book are pointless, BTW.)

        • Greg G.

          1. My life has more meaning to me than a speck of dust. There is no teleological meaning to life. Basing the meaning of your life on imaginary beings is crazy.

          Ayn Rand was a sociopath.

          I agree with Dawkins. It doesn’t diminish the meaning of my life to me. If an omnipotent being allows all the suffering Dawkins mentions, it obviously enjoys it. Do you think it won’t crave it after you die?

        • Lbj

          On what basis are claiming your life has more meaning than a speck of dust? All you are doing is asserting this when you have no objective grounds to do so. You also going against evolution when you claim this. (See Dawkins)

          There is no indication in Scripture that God enjoys suffering. After death He has promised eternal life in heaven for those who believe and follow Him. Eternal destruction for those who don’t.

        • SuperMark

          okay lets break this down, what does “meaning” mean to you? why is eternity a prerequisite to meaning?

          you’re saying life only has meaning if life is eternal. why do you think that? is it possible for an animals life to have meaning? how about my dog here artie, does his life have meaning? he seems to love me an awful lot, does that mean nothing to you? it sure does to me…

        • Pofarmer

          .” You also going against evolution when you claim this. (See Dawkins)”

          What? What are you talking about objective grounds? There are no objective grounds, you moron, except the ones you attempt to make up. Does my life have more meaning than a speck of dust? Out of the hundreds of billions of galaxies with 100’s of billions of stars with 100’s of billions of planets? Probably not, but maybe.

        • Lbj

          I’m just showing that Dawkins is right if what he says is true. If he is right then the sum total of the universe is also meaningless. In such a universe there can be no meaning because nature does not give meaning. Meaning does not come from the forces of nature.

        • SuperMark

          why does life have to be eternal to have meaning?

        • Lbj

          We have to survive death and there must be something greater than ourselves that will hold us accountable and has power to reward or condemn. Jesus certainly fits this profile.

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

          there must be something greater than ourselves

          I’m imagining Justas with his eyes squeezed shut and his little fists balled up, wishing and wishing that the world is the way he’d like it to be.

          It’d be kinda cute if he were a child.

        • Pofarmer

          Is there some evidence that the universe does have meaning?

        • Lbj

          Not if it is all there is.

        • Greg G.

          It is my own personal metric. There is not one speck of dust in the universe that is more important to me than I am to myself. This is completely subjective.

          Scripture says God is all-powerful. An all-powerful being could prevent suffering by doing an unlimited number of miracles perpetually, There is suffering. Therefore, either there is no all-powerful being that chooses to end or the all-powerful being has chosen for there to be suffering.

        • Pofarmer

          So where is Dawkins wrong? We’re told that animals won’t go to heaven, because they don’t have souls, then what is the point of their suffering, what is the meaning of their lives?

        • Lbj

          If Dawkins is right then animals don’t go to heaven and their suffering and lives are ultimately meaningless.

        • Pofarmer

          Dawkins isn’t the one making statements about animals going to heaven, theists do. So, if my dog’s life doesn’t have objective meaning, why should mine?

        • Greg G.

          If you are right then animals don’t go to heaven and their suffering and lives are ultimately meaningless.

          Religion says you need an objective meaning to life and that it can give you one but it is as vacuous as kissing ass for eternity. It’s just another lie to ruin joy in life.

        • TheNuszAbides

          or to surrender responsibility/credit for your and others’ joy.

        • TheSquirrel

          1: Why should life have meaning? Moreover, that does not follow. Life has the meaning I create. The accountability is towards those whose lives you’ve touched and the future generation. The universe does not grant meaning. Meaning of life is created by the one who does the living.
          2: Oh well. The truth sucks sometimes. Better to be aware of the truth then fall for some suckers fairytale.
          3: Thanks. Love you too.
          4: And then the sun will explode and eventually entropy will destroy everything any human has ever laid eyes on… so what?
          5: Stay away from my children.

        • TheSquirrel

          The horrors of reality are peanuts compared to the horrors that are true if your god truly exists.

        • Lbj

          I agree. Hell is worse than non-existence.

        • TheSquirrel

          Sure makes me feel a bit better knowing that their is no evidence such a horrible place exists. Can you imagine being tortured for an infinite amount of time over a finite crime?

        • Lbj

          No. However your wishing that hell does not exist does not make it go away.

        • TheSquirrel

          No one has ever demonstrated that it exists.

        • Lbj

          True. Most things we believe have never been demonstrated to exist and yet we believe they do.

        • Pofarmer

          What. The fuck. Are you talking about?

        • Lbj

          Ever seen a black hole or Caesar crossing the Rubicon?

        • Pofarmer

          So, you don’t think black holes and quasars have demonstrated to exist?

        • Lbj

          All that we have are theories about them. No one has seen one.

        • TheSquirrel

          Sure makes me feel a bit better knowing that there is no evidence such a horrible place exists. Can you imagine being tortured for an infinite amount of time over a finite crime?

        • SuperMark

          so if somehow someone could convince you that your faith is wrong. you would immediately go out raping and murdering?

        • Lbj

          No.

        • SuperMark

          then there is a reason to be good and it ultimately does matter what you do.

        • Lbj

          Yes. It does ultimately matter because Christ said so and all of us will give an account to God for our lives. Only God can give us ultimate purpose and meaning.

        • TheSquirrel

          Have you ever considered the implications of your theism? That you hold up a god as the highest example of morality who committed mass murder and genocide, condemned same actions and demanded it of his followers, who cares not about rape or slavery (but heaven help you if you say his name with a shitty attitude), who refuses to help and heal the suffering in the world even though he has the power and is directly responsible for all these things, even if he is not the agent of them because he has the power to stop them and does nothing.
          Meanwhile, I the atheist am (allegedly) destined for hell. God can stop this too! If all I need to be saved is to believe in him he can give me verifiable proof of his existence and I will believe!
          I’d of course tell him to fuck off because I don’t worship baby murderers.
          This is all of course assuming the xtian god is the real one. Seems unlikely.

        • Pofarmer

          You have gone from annoying to creepy.

        • hector_jones

          Here we go again, J argues ‘ad consequentiam’. It’s the only trick in his bag of tricks.

        • wtfwjtd

          You mean her bag of tricks.

        • Pofarmer

          I wish I could upvote this more times.W

        • SuperMark

          I’ve read them all and i don’t believe. Jesus was a monster and not worthy of anyone’s worship.

          On hell:
          Matthew 25:46
          “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

          Matthew 13:50
          “and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”

          Mark 9:43
          “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.”

          Matthew 25:41
          “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

          Matthew 10:28
          “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

          Seems to be a pretty big part of his ministry.

          Jesus was a bigot:

          Matthew 7:6
          “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

          who do you think are the dogs and pigs, that would be you because you are not a jew, and if you are you are a heretic for not being jewish.

          Matthew 15:22-28
          A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

          he would call you a dog as well.

        • Ron

          “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.” Luke 19:27

          Feel the love.

        • SuperMark

          Thanks, i think Gandhi was more moral than jebus ever was.

        • Lbj

          Huh?? Jesus has had more impact on history than a thousand Gandhi’s.

        • SuperMark

          you are correct, and this is very unfortunate. i’m talking about morality not impact on history

        • Lbj

          There is no higher moral standard than what Jesus lived and set.

        • SuperMark

          so it’s okay to call people dogs and pigs, to personally damn the pharisees to eternal punishment, to kill helpless animals. i’m more moral than jesus ever was.

        • SuperMark

          anger management:

        • Greg G.

          A thousand Ghandi’s is a stretch. Ghandi couldn’t affect the 19 centuries before him that the Jesus myth could affect. But the number of people Ghandi has affected since his birth is greater than the number of people Jesus affected in a similar time period. An effective tool of the Jesus set is war and violence. Ghandi’s followers would never do that.

        • Lbj

          You quoted from a parable.

        • Ron

          Yes, a parable about the coming kingdom of God (v. 11) modeled on Flavius Josephus’ writings of Herod Archelaus (a despot).

        • Lbj

          and you know this how?

        • SuperMark

          so you didn’t even bother to follow the link? you’re not even trying!

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          Duly noted: research and historical evidence are not valid ways of knowing something. Special revelation, where you just ‘know’ something to be true because God put it in your head, is valid.

        • wtfwjtd

          Of course. Isn’t that the way all Mystery Religions work?

        • Lbj

          Your getting this mixed up with atheism. It is the atheist who has no research or historical that proves atheism to be true.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          Sparky, the Invisible Flying Narwhal, told me that you are wrong. It’s actually atheists who have the “research and historical”. You can’t prove that the Narwhal is NOT a god, therefore it is god.

        • Lbj

          Your making that Narwhal is god. Go ahead and present your evidence for examination.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          The evidence is that he told me he is god. Weren’t you listening?

        • Lbj

          You may asserted he god is but I need some evidence like raising the dead, giving sight to the blind etc. Mere assertion that one is a god is not enough.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          In answer to your query the Narwhal has graciously healed a blind man right here next to me.

          BLINDY O’SIGHTLESS: HI THIS IS ME THE BLIND MAN! I WAS DEFINITELY BLIND, AND NOW I CAN SEE!! ALL GLORY TO THE SPACE UNICORN! I’M OFF TO THE CASINO!

          Physeter: Not only has the Narwhal told me he was a god, and performed a miracle to prove he was a god, you even have eyewitness, written testimony! What more could you want?

          Mere assertion that one is a god is not enough.

          Now you’re cooking with gas. Let’s see if you can also make the logical leap to realize that mere assertion that one has done miracles is also not enough.

        • Lbj

          Who else will attest the man was blind? Give me his phone number so I can talk to him and his associates. Only when I have good reasons based on my research and others can we conclude your blind man can see. That still does not mean that your god exist. You have alot more to do to prove it.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          I didn’t catch his number, and I can’t ask him right now because he’s off at the casino. But if you will just wait 60-120 years, I will gladly furnish you with written testimony from at least four other people. They won’t tell you how exactly they know Blindy, of course, and three of the four accounts will be almost identical–almost as if they’re copying from each other and not telling their own unique eyewitness account. But really, the Narwhal just needs you to believe. If you’re going to keep inventing excuses to disbelieve him, I don’t know that he’ll be willing to do any more miracles for you.

        • Lbj

          Ok. When you get it can you post it so I can check this out myself?

          Not enough evidence to believe the Narwhal exist. You know thats 2 strikes against you for your beliefs. This is starting to look more and more like atheism.

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

          That’s so cool! It’s like we’re in the days of Jesus before the gospels were written! There’s absolutely no chance of corruption of the story since we’re getting the eyewitness testimony. And in Modern English!

          Wow–talk about high quality evidence.

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

          Whoa–look who’s into serious evidence all of a sudden!

          Why don’t you ask for the same thing from the New Testament? Paul just handwaves about 500 eyewitnesses to the risen Christ and writes it down 2000 years ago in an ancient language and you’re cool with this, but Physeter tells you in your own language about a personal experience and you doubt?

          I’m sensing a double standard here …

        • Lbj

          I can’t go back 2000 years and interview anyone. I can today though.

          Paul’s letter was first to the Corinthian church and they could have checked out some of the 500 people who saw Christ. They would have known some of them.

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

          I can’t go back 2000 years and interview anyone. I can today though.

          You’re right. But why do you care to interview’s today’s miracle witness when you don’t seem concerned that you can’t interview the eyewitnesses to the gospel claims?

          Paul’s letter was first to the Corinthian church and they could have checked out some of the 500 people who saw Christ.

          Wrong again. I bitch-slap this claim here: “500 Eyewitnesses to the Risen Christ? 9 Reasons Why It’s Not Likely.”

        • Lbj

          If someone claims a miracle happened today and I have a chance to verify it then that would confirm my beliefs.

          I have no reason to doubt the gospel claims for miracles happening 2000 years ago.

          I may look at your 500 article later.

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

          But why bother to verify claims today in a way that you can’t do for the gospel claims? If the gospels don’t need that, why should a modern claim?

          I have no reason to doubt the gospel claims for miracles happening 2000 years ago.

          Just cuz? Cuz it’s convenient? Cuz you’re just certain? Why?

        • Ron

          I can attest that this really happened. My friend says he was there and saw it along with at least 5,000 other witnesses. The man gave my friend his number. Unfortunately, the first four digits got smudged up; but I’m sure it’s legitimate because the remaining six digits are 55-3765. His name was Sam (he didn’t give his last name) and he’s either from New York or New Jersey—so that should narrow it down.

          And you know you can trust me because I’m an honest person.

        • Lbj

          Who else witnessed this? I need names and phone numbers to verify your claims.

        • Scott_In_OH

          You must be spoofing yourself, right?

        • Greg G.

          Some parts of Luke is dependent on Mark. Some parts of Luke is common material with Matthew. The remaining part has correspondences with Josephus. There are even more in Acts. There are far too many to sweep under the rug by calling them coincidences. The correspondences are too uncanny and too detailed to be coincidence. There is a pattern that shows that Luke copied from Josephus and Josephus was not copying from Luke.

          There are correspondences between Luke and Josephus’ Vita which came out at the very end of the first century. That means Luke and Acts were probably written well into the second century.

        • Lbj

          So what follows that Luke may have used some of Mark and Matthew? That would be expected if he wrote after them and had access to their gospels.

          Where specifically did Luke copy from Josephus? What passage in Luke and what passage in Josephus?

        • Greg G.

          Luke and Josephus – Secular Web (Richard Carrier) by Richard Carrier

          The Reliance of Luke-Acts on the Writings of Flavius Josephus by Paul Tobin

          Both reference Steve Mason’s book. Mason may not even have all of them.

        • Lbj

          Here is the conclusion:

          “Luke almost certainly knew and drew upon the works of Josephus (or else an amazing series of coincidences remains in want of an explanation), and therefore Luke and Acts were written at the end of the 1st century,..”

          This whole argument is speculation. If Luke-Acts was written in the late 1st century then why didn’t Luke mention the destruction of the temple? Why does he stop with Paul being imprisoned in Rome but says nothing about his death which happened in the 60’s? Luke says nothing about the death of Peter either which also happened in the 60’s. Paul and Peter are the main characters of Acts and not to mention their deaths or the destruction of the temple in 70 leads us to believe it was written before 70.

        • Jim Jones

          No gospel was written before 135 CE.

        • Pofarmer

          Just interested, what leads you to that conclusion.

        • Jim Jones

          My view is supported by just as much evidence as the others. Theirs is based on wishful thinking. Mine is based on the often observed gap of 100 years between the dates for a real person or the myth, and the creation of stories about him/her. Lady Godiva is one example.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t really have a problem with that view. I think what folks need to realize, is that the Gospel stories are about the life and times of Jesus Christ, up to and just after his death. Why would the mention things like the destruction of the temple that weren’t central to the story. I also agree with those who say that the liklihood of the movement reaching Rome in significant numbers just 25 years after the date of the supposed crucifixion is slim. Josephus doesn’t even mention the cult of Christians in 100 A.D. in Palestine, fer Pete’s sake.

        • Lbj

          Josephus does mention Christians in Antiquities 20:200
          “Having such a character [“rash and daring” in the context], Ananus thought that with Festus dead and Albinus still on the way, he would have the proper opportunity. Convening the judges of the Sanhedrin, he brought before them the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, whose name was James, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned. But those of the city residents who were deemed the most fair-minded and who were strict in observing the law were offended at this. Accordingly, they secretly contacted the king [Herod Agrippa II], urging him to order Ananus to desist from any more such actions, for he had not been justified in what he had already done. Some of them even went to meet Albinus, who was on his way from Alexandria, and informed him that Ananus had no authority to convene the Sanhedrin without his consent. Convinced by these words, Albinus wrote in anger to Ananus, threatening him with punishment. And King Agrippa, because of this, deposed him from the high priesthood, in which he had ruled for three months.”

        • Pofarmer
        • wtfwjtd

          I believe Robert Price considers an early 2nd century dating more plausible for the gospels, IIRC. Maybe Greg can help with this, I thought I read that somewhere.

        • Lbj

          No evidence for this. If anything a strong case can be made they were written before 70.

        • Jim Jones

          > If anything a strong case can be made they were written before 70.

          Go ahead.

        • Greg G.

          “Luke almost certainly knew and drew upon the works of Josephus (or else an amazing series of coincidences remains in want of an explanation), and therefore Luke and Acts were written at the end of the 1st century,..”

          You didn’t read either article. You went directly to the bottom. You didn’t even read the whole paragraph you quoted. YOu haven’t explained the part I emboldened.

          Luke didn’t write about events that happened in 70. Luke has a tendency to alter uncomfortable topics. Matthew has Jesus descended from David through Solomon but Luke replaced that genealogy with one through Nathan. Remember how David and Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, got together? Mathhew’s birth narrative had Herod slaughtering infants but Luke didn’t like that God would allow all the other children to die while saving only Jesus, so he went to Josephus and picked the first event in Antiquities of the Jews Book 18, the Quirnius census, and made up a new story around that.

          There was a period in church history where they developed a fetish about martyrdom, inventing many noble deaths for their saints. Luke wrote before this time.

          Explain all the coincidences between Luke and Josephus before you dismiss the connection. Try to reconcile both birth narratives. Matthew has Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt to protect Jesus from Herod. Luke has them taking Jesus to Jerusalem for purification rituals. The gospels are not reliable. All the accounts are fictional.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. I was not aware of that link between Luke and Josephus.

        • Ron

          Yes. Josephus makes Baby Jesus (or at least his apologist friends) weep. Here’s the (heavily condensed) exchange from a year ago…

          Me: Matthew claims Joseph fled to Egypt shortly after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, stayed there until Herod’s death and then went straight to Nazareth, avoiding Jerusalem altogether. Yet Luke claims they traveled from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to Nazareth within two months—and there’s no mention of a side trip to Egypt.

          Apologist: Well, Jesus was born in Bethlehem and returned to Nazareth (as per Luke), then returned to Bethlehem again before fleeing to Egypt prior to his second birthday (as per Matthew).

          Me: How do you reconcile the time spent in exile with Luke’s claim they celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem every year (Lk 2:41-42) for twelve years?

          Apologist: It was a short stay and Herod probably died between Passovers prior to Jesus’ second or third birthday.

          Me: “But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth.” Mt 2:22-23 (NIV)

          If that’s correct, then Jesus still missed at least ten passover festivals in addition to any missed while living in exile.

          Apologist: How so? They would have blended into the massive crowd.

          Me: Herod Archelaus was a brutal tyrant and ruled for 10 years. His opening act was a Temple massacre that left thousands dead the day before Passover.

          Apologist: Again, how so? Their stay would not have been long and there is a massive crowd.

          Me: Right. How would a twelve-year-old sitting unaccompanied in the temple amazing everyone with his teaching capabilities for three days after the festival had ended remain lost in the crowd? And how would Herod remain completely oblivious to everything happening next door to his palace?

          The apologist (now realizing he must account for an exile and a massacre while trying to fit twelve Passovers between Jesus’ birth and twelfth birthday) retreats to his favorite stand-by of redefining words: “every year” in Luke 2:41 doesn’t necessarily mean “every” year.

        • Lbj

          Do you want the truth or not? If hell exist, don’t you want to avoid it at all costs?

        • SuperMark

          Nope, i would rather be in hell than spend one second with your god.

        • Lbj

          The choice is yours. Let me show what you can expect then.
          Outer darkness, gnashing of teeth, lake of fire. All these terms describe a condition of utter unending despair. It is horrifying beyond words.

        • SuperMark

          that’s exactly why your beliefs are so fucked up. no one deserves eternal punishment, no one. if god was perfect he would know this as well, ergo god is either not perfect or doesn’t exist.

        • Pofarmer

          And the stick pops up. God loves us so much, he must torture us for eternitg if we don’t comply.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          The choice is yours. Let me show what you can expect then.
          Outer darkness, gnashing of teeth, lake of fire.

          There is no choice between heaven and hell in your religion. There is only the choice between two different kinds of Hell. If I am forced to call evil “good”, I am not living in heaven. Any god that would send people to eternal torment for believing the wrong things is not good, but if I go to your Heaven, I will be required to praise this being, adore him constantly, tell him how good and perfect and worthy he is–a being I find to be quite immoral. An eternity in that sort of heaven doesn’t sound all that great.

          Plus, Jesus implies that those in heaven are aware of those in hell–can even see them on some occasions. How could you enjoy eternal bliss when you know just across the chasm, people are being tortured? How could you be happy with that?

        • Lbj

          Even if God were not good by your standards that would not mean hell does not exist. You can reject God all you want but it is He who has power to judge and condemn you by His own reasons and power.

        • SuperMark

          yes yes, hell exists because of reasons.

        • Scott_In_OH

          You acknowledge that God is an abuser and a bully. He’s strong, so you better do what he says. You’ve completely abandoned morality and love.

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          You have ceased to describe a loving, perfect Father and are now describing a cosmic dictator. It matters not whether your god is loving or even good, you say; all that matters is he’s bigger than me and can hurt me very much if I don’t obey him.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, the carrots didn’t work, so now he has to pull out the stick.WW

        • http://thephyseter.wordpress.com The_Physeter

          Man, I should archive some of these conversations so I could find them again. There was some good stuff here.

        • TheSquirrel

          So why worship an evil self-worshipping all powerful dick?

        • Jim Jones

          According to your religion, good Catholic Adolf Hitler is sitting at the right hand of god where he can watch Anne Frank burning in hell for all eternity for rejecting her savior.

          Some morality.

        • Greg G.

          If there is a just god then hell is just for those who threaten people with it.

        • 90Lew90

          Don’t forget Matthew 23. Jesus has a strop. Like a gang leader demanding “respeck”.

        • busterggi

          Seriously, you think atheists haven’t done more bible reading than believers? Oh you poor naive little thing. Run away while you can.

        • Lbj

          That might be true of some Christians but not me. I have studied the Bible for a very long time and I know it very well. So lets have a dialogue.

        • Greg G.

          You should also study the literature of the day to see where the Bible fits in. If you only study the Bible, you might think it is original material a give it more credence than it deserves.

        • TheSquirrel

          That’s a nice logical fallacy, namely argument from popularity. Billions of people believing something does not make it any more true.

          “I know for a fact this is not the case at all.”
          Oh! If you know this “for a fact” then you won’t mind showing your work?

        • Pofarmer

          “In fact He taught in such a way as to dissuade unbelievers not to believe in Him and yet to make it possible for those who wanted to believe He would give convincing proofs”

          What in the everloving fuck are you babbling about.?

        • Jim Jones

          > I know for a fact this is not the case at all.

          “Christianity; 2,000 years of everyone making it up as they go”.

        • TheNuszAbides

          making it merely a human story, with merely human records; which countless sermonizers are all too happy to play to heart-warming effect but no cheerleader literalist will admit without claiming things they can only wish were actuality.

        • Greg G.

          There have been billions upon billions of people who have believed the gospels. It has changed lives over the centuries and has a had a significant impact on societies over the centuries.

          This is true but it hurts your case. During Roman times, Xnity may have changed lives but not for the better so much and had no significant impact on society. Then came the Dark Ages, with lots of changed lives and a dominant effect on society but not for the better. Lives and society improved over the next few centuries as Xnity lost its dominance. Science developed with no need for the God hypothesis. Lives changed and societies changed as a result of science.

          Xnity dragged its feet but couldn’t hold back the change yet benefitted from its association with the post-Xtian world.

        • 90Lew90

          Dragged its feet? Actively opposed more like.

        • 90Lew90

          How can you find something you’ve never read unconvincing? I think most of us deserve more credit than that. If anything, actually reading the Gospels attentively is an exercise that would put most intelligent people off, unless they’ve already gotten themselves convinced. What are the “lousy reasoning’s [sic] of skeptics”? A simple bit of grown-up common sense should suffice to show that the claims made about Jesus are rubbish. If some of the analogies seem glib and frivolous, such as the Superman one, that’s not because they are wrong, but because they are made from a position which refuses to give undue respect to the claims of religious believers and instead to show just how ridiculous religious belief really is.

          Your third paragraph is a load of bollocks. Part speculation, part conjecture. All bollocks.

          Likewise your last paragraph. Little old you knows the mind of God eh? How very modest of you.

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

        We also have a record to this day of the magic done by Merlin. What do we make of that?

        • Lbj

          What is magic and can you prove it exists?

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

          What is the supernatural and can you prove it exists?

        • Lbj

          Miracles, answered prayer and life after death. Now prove magic.

        • Jim Jones

          > Miracles

          None have ever been observed.

          > answered prayer

          This has never been observed.

          > life after death.

          This has never been observed.

          > Now prove magic.

          David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear.

        • Lbj

          Millions of people claimed to have had answered prayers in their lives. Christ rose from the dead and said there is life after death.
          What is magic?

        • SuperMark

          wtf? “what is magic???????????” do you really think bob was being serious and thinks magic is real, seriously?

        • Lbj

          Why not? If a person can look at the world and conclude that its all the result of random-mindless processes then I see no reason that person would not believe in magic.

        • Rudy R

          When you say “look at the world,” you don’t mean that in the literal sense, do you? Most atheists are skeptics and skeptics rely on the methods of science to gain knowledge of the universe. Skeptics, by their nature, don’t look at the physical world and say, gee, it’s so beautiful, complex, and flourishing with life, a god had to make that!

        • Jim Jones

          Millions of people prefer delusions to reality. The Jesus of the gospels never existed.

        • Lbj

          Get serious. This has to be one of lamest reasons not to believe in Christ and the gospels. Jesus is one of the best attested historical figures of the ancient world.

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

          Historians reject the supernatural. You lose.

        • Lbj

          Not all of them. On what grounds do they reject it? They are in the same boat as the atheist who just asserts God does not exist but never proves it.

        • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

          The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Prove God exists and atheists will know they’re wrong.

          But you can’t prove God exists. You can’t even define God.

        • Lbj

          The burden of proof is on the atheist to prove atheism is true.

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

          That’s what I say! Those who reject my arguments for fairies and leprechauns have a pretty big burden of evidence that they’re shirking. I demand evidence that they don’t exist, and I get … crickets.

          Who’s looking fat and sassy now??

        • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

          One cannot prove a negative, especially with the burden and goalpost shifting all the apologists do. No, I’m sorry, this is fully within your court. You can (possibly) prove God exists. I cannot prove he doesn’t.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Dragon_in_My_Garage

          Read that, enlighten yourself.

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

          Name me one widely agreed-to historical fact that is supernatural.

          Atheists can’t prove God exists, they have no intention of doing so, and they have no need to do so. You’re making the remarkable claim, so you must show that your claim is where the evidence points.

        • Lbj

          The resurrection of Christ.

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

          You’re at the adult table here. You need to think things through before you click Post.

          This is not a historical fact. You get this bizarre claim from religious texts (cataloged next the Mythology in the library), not from historical texts.

          Go back to the children’s table.

        • Lbj

          I thought i was at an adult table but I’m beginning to wonder with all the lame arguments put forth by atheists.

          The resurrection is a historical fact because it happened in history, recorded in historical documents (gospels) and has eyewitnesses to it.

        • Ron

          If the resurrection is a historical fact then that means the resurrected Jesus is alive and well. So produce him for us. I want to examine his hands and place my hand in his side just as Thomas did.

          When can you arrange the meeting?

        • Lbj

          Jesus is alive and well. I have no power to produce Him for you so you can examine Him.

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

          Kinda makes your argument impotent, doesn’t it?

        • Lbj

          To ask in the name of Christ is to ask according to the will of Christ. His will is not just to appear to anyone, This kinda makes your argument impotent, doesn’t it?

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

          No, my argument isn’t impotent, but thanks for ignoring it.

          When there’s an opportunity for evidence on your side but you don’t see anything, that’s a clue. We don’t ignore that because it’s inconvenient; we take that into consideration.

        • Ron

          Why not? In John 14:12-14, Jesus makes the following promise:

          “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

          So if you’re a true believer, all you have to do is ask Jesus to meet me for dinner tonight. Will you do that? I’ll let you know how it went.

        • Lbj

          Why would I want Him to appear to you? After all, you don’t know what He looks like.

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

          That’s what I keep saying! The story of Merlin the magician is a historical fact because it happened in history and was recorded in historical documents by eyewitnesses. I mean–who else would’ve written it?

          And it happened in England–perhaps you’ve heard of the place?

        • Lbj

          What does Merlin have to do with the gospels being history? With your kind of thinking all historical persons would be considered fictions. Very bizarre.

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

          You don’t think so good, do you? My suggestion: pause for a moment, assume that what I’m saying makes sense, and then see if you get it.

          When I apply your thinking (which gives us a historical Jesus) to figures like Merlin, what does that give us? Another historical figure, it seems to me.

          You do indeed sound like Jenna/Kodie. Are you?

        • Jim Jones

          > recorded in historical documents (gospels)

          The gospels are entirely fictional, just like Superman comic books.

        • Lbj

          Name a couple of scholars that study this period that say this and I will take you seriously.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the way you carry on in response to everything else here indicates quite strongly that you would do no such thing.

        • satanaugustine

          This is not in the least bit true. You have been misinformed.

        • Jim Jones

          Not so much.

          Every piece of evidence confirms that gospel Jesus never existed.

          The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works:

          Josephus, Philo-Judaeus, Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Quintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Hermogones, Valerius Maximus, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Appian, Theon of Smyrna, Phlegon, Pompon Mela, Quintius Curtius, Lucian, Pausanias, Valerius Flaccus, Florus Lucius, Favorinus, Phaedrus, Damis, Aulus Gellius, Columella, Dio Chrysostom, Lysias, Appion of Alexandria.

          Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.

          Philo of Alexandria was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ’s miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

          He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place — when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.

          From “The Christ” — John E. Remsberg

          BTW, there’s also nothing about Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls — and there could have been.

        • TheSquirrel

          BUWAHAHAHAHA! Oh man the apologists got to you GOOD! WOW, that’s a stretch!

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

          Prove the supernatural first. You’ve done nothing to prove this remarkable claim.

        • Lbj

          The life and ministry of Christ. Answered prayers of millions of people. Modern day miracles.

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

          You know how I’m going to answer, right? Why bother with your bullshit answers when you know they’re laughable?

          The Jesus story isn’t history. Do non-Christians “answered prayers” count, too? Show me modern day miracles accepted by the consensus of experts in that field (medicine, for example).

        • Lbj

          I know you can’t refute the million answered prayers. Non-christian prayers would count. So do you now believe the supernatural exist?

          The Jesus story takes place in history.
          There is a excellent book by a scholar who did an exhaustive research on miracles where he has a lot of documentation from medical people that confirm they have happened. The book is Miracles by Craig Keener. Its a massive work that is well documented. In this book there are cases of modern miracles.

        • Ron

          Does it contain any documented cases of amputees receiving back their limbs?

        • Lbj

          I have not read the whole thing. It might such a story or 2.

        • Ron

          So let me ask you this: If you haven’t even finished reading the whole book (let alone verified the truthfulness of the claims within) how can you be certain they ever happened?

        • Lbj

          The book is over 1200 pages and I have read about 200. I have also read reviews and heard the author speak about it.

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

          Uh, no. I don’t believe the supernatural exists. You don’t have millions of answered prayers; you have millions of people who’re determined to believe that their prayers were answered. Big difference.

          I slap Keener silly here: “Public Challenge: Show Me a Miracle.” (In case you were wondering, no, I’ve gotten no response to my challenge.)

          If your style is simply to make bold, unevidenced claims, then we have nothing to talk about.

        • Lbj

          Millions of people do claim to have seen their prayers answered not just once but many times. There are stories of people praying for people to be healed of some disease and are. You don’t discount this kind of thing so easily especially when there are multiple cases of it.

          Have you read Keener’s book?

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

          No, I haven’t read Keener’s book. Have you read my post above?

        • Scott_In_OH

          There are stories of people praying for people to be healed of some disease and are.

          There are stories of people praying to the Christian God and being healed.
          There are stories of people praying to non-Christian gods and being healed.
          There are stories of people praying to no gods and being healed.
          There are stories of members of all three categories who are not healed.

          How do we figure out if anything is going on except confirmation bias? We find people who are sick, we have some prayed for and some not, and we see if there is a different recovery rate. The Templeton Foundation–a group inclined to believe that prayer is effective–ran exactly that experiment and found no difference.

        • Lbj

          Ok. The mere fact there is answered prayers shows there is the supernatural.

        • Scott_In_OH

          The study says there are not answered prayers. People who are prayed for recover at the same rate as those who are not prayed for. The lesson: some diseases in some patients are amenable to medical cures, while others are not; prayer has nothing to do with it. Even simpler: medicine heals people; prayer doesn’t.

        • TheSquirrel

          How come god has never regrown a limb? Surely several someones with deep and abiding faith have asked, how come it has never happened?

        • TheSquirrel

          That seems to be his shtick, but I’ve been talking with him and I think he’s capable of being reasonable, he’s just obsessed with a position he can’t defend (because it’s false).

        • satanaugustine

          Justus – There is no proof whatsoever that any miracle has ever occurred. – Prayer has been tested and it failed. – There is no proof whatsoever of life after death.

          You think your claims are accurate, but where’s your proof?

        • TheSquirrel

          If I told you magic was mentioned in your bible would you believe it exists? How about unicorns? They’re in there too.

  • Pofarmer

    Reading this, wnd reading the apologists here, I am once again remindee of Eric Hoffers book “True Believer.” The apologists state that “well it must be true, or nobody would have believed it,” when the opposite is actually true. A strong mass movement must have a core of the fantastic, of the hard to believe. Think of JFK and the Saturn program, ” We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” It had a core of the fantastic, of the absurd. We, with 1960’s technology, 60 yearz from the wright brothers, were going to launch men to another celestial body. How fantastic was THAT! So, the early beleivers in Christianiy wouldn’t have believed it because they had rock solid proof, but because the claims were amazing, and to believe them made one a member of a special group. Hoffer talks about many different movements where this is true, and since the book was written knthe ’50’s? You can pick out many more. March on wallstreet, the Teaparty, etc, etc.

  • busterggi

    Also Superman has a job and supports himself rather than constantly begging for handouts. And when his salary isn’t enough Supes will just squeeze a chunk of coal into a diamond instead of chiselling old folks out of their social security checks.