So How Does an ATHEIST Explain the Resurrection Story?

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

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

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

The claim: The gospels each claim that Jesus rose from the dead, but a natural explanation is plausible. To be clear, I have no interest in finding a natural explanation for the resurrection; I’m looking for a natural explanation for the story of the resurrection.

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

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

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

Gary Habermas is pessimistic about our project:

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

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

Why did church fathers write what they did?

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

Why does the Old Testament say what it says?

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

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

Why did historians like Josephus write what they did?

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

And now for the main event:

What explains the New Testament resurrection story?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QED

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

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

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

If somewhere within the Bible,

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

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/5/14.)

Image credit: Ted, flicker, CC

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Bob Jase

    How about, “People make shit up”?

    • adam
      • Rudy R

        It’s been making the rounds on TV shows, Game of Thrones to be the most recent.

      • JP415

        They’re looking for fresh brains.

      • C.T. Dixon

        I think it is a deliberate mistranslation, the part that says “to walk among” should have been translated as “to eat the brains of”

        • TheNuszAbides

          zombie apologetics!! it all makes so much sense now!

    • Doubting Thomas

      All you need to explain most every aspect of Christianity is :”Some people made some shit up and other people believed them.”

      Whether some people were devastated by the death of their leader and made up a story to rationalize it or some people historicized their version of another mythical figure doesn’t matter to the fact that a natural explanation is far more probable than any supernatural one.

      • Adam King

        The Roman conquest and the destruction of the Temple made Temple Judaism unsustainable. So they had to make new religions out of the leftover pieces of it. Various Christianities, Gnosticisms, and synagogue Judaisms were the result. One of the Christian cults was allegorized (by “Mark”) in a way that encouraged the uninitiated to take it for history. The historicized reading was adopted and rewritten by related cults to produce the other Gospels.

    • Pofarmer

      That’s my personal favorite.

  • Steven Watson

    I wonder what Pastor Peter LaRuffa thinks of the Bible reckoning Pi=3?

    “‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the pricks”, the voice on the road to Damascus apparently speaking the words of Dionysos in ‘The Bacchae’ by Euripides. I think almost everything in Gospels/Acts has been tracked back to the OT, Greek Epic, Drama and Cult where they aren’t working up and distorting Paul and each other. Why does anyone still play whack-a-mole with these dolts?

    • lady_black

      I had to ask my daughter what Pi was. She was a math whiz in high school. She told me it’s an endless number, however, for most purposes 3.14 is sufficient. She was right.

    • Greg G.

      Since Mark used Aramaicisms, which he usually explained, and Latinisms, which he never explained, it is apparent that his intended audience knew Latin and were probably Roman. So I think Mark got the spit miracles from Vespasian propaganda of his healings at the Serapis temple in Egypt. Matthew and Luke dropped those like a hot potato.

      • Steven Watson

        Tah for the reminder, I’d forgotten that example.

    • TheNuszAbides

      because they dominated scriptoria and publishing for centuries and millions of people still attribute absurd levels of significance to the leftovers?

  • Adam King

    How do atheists explain Heracles putting on a poisoned garment and getting burned alive by it and taken up into heaven and placed among the stars? Huh? It was written down! In a real book! Facts! Checkmate, atheists!

    • JP415

      Yes, and how could Superman have lifted a truck out of the mud if he weren’t from the planet Krypton? No naturalistic explanation fits the facts.

  • ephemerol

    The same way we explain the Harry Potter stories, or answer the question, “If you’re so smart, then who pops up the next kleenex?”

  • Mark Landes

    What about the Pauline epistles that were written prior to the gospels being written down? Could Paul’s version of christianity have a direct impact upon the gospels?

    • Greg G.

      I think Paul’s epistles were used by the gospel authors. Jesus’ three primary sidekicks were the same three guys Paul mentioned in Galatians 2:9. Mark 10:11-12 has Jesus talking about divorce and about women divorcing men to the disciples who were under Jewish law where there was no provision for women to divorce men. But 1 Corinthians 7:10-12 also has that because Paul was writing to the Corinthians who lived where it was legal for women to divorce men. Matthew changed that part of the saying and Luke dropped the second part.

      • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

        I hadn’t read that part about divorce in Mark. Another contradiction.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Habermas claims that (1) Jesus died by crucifixion,

    By whom and where though. Carrier and Docherty make the case that everything Jesus in Paul’s writing is happening in the various heavenly levels.

    Paul says Jesus was not resurrected in a human body (1 Corinthians 15:35-53), nor did he have a human body before his incarnation (Philippians 2:6-7; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 10:4). He only was given a human body at one time so he could be subject to the elements and thus capable of dying (Philippians 2:7-8; Galatians 4; Romans 8:3 & 8:29). In no way does this require any of this to have actually happened. Paul and the Apostles need merely have believed it happened. And as Paul makes clear, only visions and scripture ever convinced them it had (Galatians 1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Romans 16:25-26). This is the case even in the epistle of 1 Peter (Chapter 11.3 of OHJ).

    (2) the disciples believed,

    The disciples only believe the historical according to the gospels stories. Only by reading the gospels back into the Pauline corpus can it be inferred that the apostles believed a real life witnessed risen crucified Jesus. The crucifixion in Paul was carried out by the archons in the first level of heaven.

    (3) Paul believed,

    Paul believed what he witnessed from scripture and revelations was that Jesus crucified resurrected…celestially.

    (4) James believed,

    James believed, like Peter believed, and the 12, and the 500, and Paul…all by the same means…what came from scripture and revelation…vision.

    …and (5) the tomb was empty.

    Paul knows of no empty tomb…he knows of no Passion Narrative period. The empty tomb motif is a gospel invention.

    He says, “Two thousand years of attempts by critics to account for these facts by natural causes have failed” (Case, p. 128).

    Habermas refuses to accept the attempts of critics, that’s not the same as other hypothesis having failed. The Swoon Theory is a more reasonable assertion. Ehrman’s stolen body or lost in a midden suggestion is more reasonable.

    • Kevin K

      Never taken down from the cross is another one. There was no tomb, because that’s not what happened to people who were crucified. They were left on the cross to rot, and then their defleshed bones were thrown into the garbage. The practice of leaving the corpse of an executed criminal/heretic continued well into the 18th century with a device known as the gibbet.

      That’s a far-more plausible explanation than having the bodies taken down. BTW: what happened to the other two? Were they given a proper burial? Why Jesus and not them? After all, this was just a blasphemer and a rebel to his executioners, nothing more. The whole Joseph of Arimathea story has more holes in it than the alleged Jesus.

    • TheNuszAbides

      Habermas refuses to accept the attempts of critics, that’s not the same as other hypothesis having failed.

      indeed, being outnumbered, shouted down, mobbed and/or burned is an entirely different class of ‘failure’ than the mere merits (or unjustified pretense of a lack thereof) of any given critique.

  • Foxglove

    I’ve just started reading Aulus Gellius’ “Attic Nights”. In the first chapter he gives us Plutarch’s account of how Pythagoras figured out how tall Hercules was. I found it highly entertaining. Pythagoras’ methodology was sound enough, I suppose. But it depends on whether Hercules truly laid out a stadium in Greece as he was alleged to. And it also depends on whether Hercules ever actually existed, which I personally have doubts about. And I think I’d have plenty of company there.

    • Adam King

      Excellent example.

    • Kevin K

      Dammit, you can’t just lay out that bit of trivia without finishing it off!!! How tall was Hercules?

      • Foxglove

        Oh. You want the details. OK. It’s like this:

        According to common belief, Hercules stepped off the race-track at a certain stadium in Greece. He made it 600 feet long–but note that I don’t mean our 12-inch feet. It was one of his own feet. Now granted, a race-track the length of 600 such feet doesn’t sound very long, but I’m just giving you the story as I found it.

        Thereafter, designers of other stadia followed Hercules’ precedent and made their race-tracks 600 feet long. But Pythagoras noted that these later race-tracks were shorter than Hercules’. Going by that difference, he calculated the difference between the length of Hercules’ foot and that of the average man. That allowed him to calculate Hercules’ height since, it appears, your foot is supposed to be 1/6 of your height.

        And after all that, Gellius doesn’t actually tell us how tall Hercules was. I suppose back then everybody just knew. However, the editor of the book (this is the Loeb edition I’m reading) tells us in a footnote, “According to Apollodorus, II. iv. 9, Hercules was 4 cubits in height; according to Herodorus, 4 cubits and one foot.”

        So there you go. I hope your curiosity is now satisfied. And imagine what a hit you’ll be at parties. Some gorgeous babe will ask you, “How tall was Hercules?”, and you’ll be able to give her an answer, citing ancient authorities. She’ll be mightily impressed.

        • Greg G.

          When Herodorus says, “4 cubits and one foot,” is he talking an average foot of a Herculean foot?

        • Bob Jase

          And, as a cubit is the distance from the elbow to the tip of the outstretched hand, is he talking normal cubits or Herculean cubits?

        • Foxglove

          I have no idea. I suppose I could look into that question, but somehow I doubt I will.

        • Greg G.

          And which foot, the invincible one or the one his mother held when she dunked him?

          I have figured I would never look something up, then stumble upon it a week later while looking up something else. I do more work by accident than I do on purpose. I will have to be more careful.

        • Jason K.

          And which foot, the invincible one or the one his mother held when she dunked him?

          That was Achilles, no? That was why his un-dipped foot was his weakness.

        • Greg G.

          Ya know, that would have been funnier if I hadn’t conflated Greek heroes. I had a feeling I was messing up something.

        • Foxglove

          I think we’re confusing our legendary heroes now. We wouldn’t want to do that. That’s kind of what the Christians did, isn’t it?

        • TheNuszAbides

          that’s no way to specialize! you’d be a terrible insect.

        • Greg G.

          you’d be a terrible insect.

          I think I have been insulted. Bug off!

        • TheNuszAbides

          tsk, tsk. so many theists would be flattered at the reminder that they were blessed enough to not be made in the image of Beelzebub!

        • Greg G.

          The Lord of the Flies.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m rather fond of how that’s intoned in Matewan.

        • Joe

          Some gorgeous babe will ask you, “How tall was Hercules?”, and you’ll be able to give her an answer,

          “It’s not about the height, it’s about how hard you labor.”

        • Foxglove

          I think we’re getting into a real Augean stable now.

        • Kevin K

          Of course, then she’ll ask “what’s a cubit”, and I’ll be screwed.

        • Greg G.

          If you are looking for a woman who is into nerds, tell her it is the distance from the bottom of the elbow to the middle fingertip. I assume that is on the same arm.

        • Kevin K

          Ah, but would that be my arm or Hercules’ arm? Unless Hercules looked like a T Rex, he’d have to have long arms.

        • Foxglove

          A bit of research and you’ll be fine.

    • JP415

      You could use Bayes’ Theorem to determine the true height of Hercules.

      • Bob Jase

        Who’s taller – Hercules or Heracles?

        • JP415

          That’s one of the most divisive issues of our time!

        • Greg G.

          Well, I didn’t expect the Greco-Roman Inquisition.

      • Foxglove

        Maybe you could. But I’ll leave that to Pythagoras. He was a far better mathematician than I.

  • eric

    I do not think the gospel writers were as innocent of manipulation as you credit them to be. One specific example: the story of the wedding at Cana. There are two elements added to that story that seem specifically inserted to respond to skeptics. AIUI in the 1st century there were lots of miracle men running around claiming to turn water into wine. Their tricks involved either sleight of hand adding of an additive, or hidden pipes connected to the container (IIRC there was even a temple to Dionysus where a fountain was hooked up to pipes). The additive trick wouldn’t work if the jug/container was big enough, and because of costs con-men couldn’t use good quality wine for the pipe trick.

    The wedding at Cana story takes care to mention that the wine Jesus produced was (a) high quality and (b) there was a lot of it. IOW it appears that the authors intentionally wrote the story in a way to separate Jesus from the many other miracle-workers running around at the time.

    One can easily imagine oral telling and retelling resulting in the addition of these details by storytellers who were faced with listeners who asked questions. Thus at least one NT was probably a manufactured miracle tale – manufactured in the sense that the authors and tellers created details with the intention of making the story more credible than it otherwise would have been.

    • Kevin K

      Heck, that’s the same as the OT telling of Moses with his staff turning into a serpent. The high priests of “Pharaoh” were able to perform exactly the same trick! But somehow the miracle was Moses’ snake eating the other priests’ snakes.

      Huh. Hungry snake. Some miracle.

  • smrnda

    Do Christians ever think how, in a short time, the Mormon church has grown under persecution? Does this mean that Joseph Smith was really a prophet? Obviously they don’t think so.

  • KarlUdy

    Bob,
    Thank you for being willing to put your beliefs on the line. I do think that your first proposal, that the story evolved during the period of oral history before being written down is incredibly unlikely.

    Firstly, the earliest written account of Jesus’ resurrection is around CE50 in 1 Corinthians. Both the date and Paul’s authorship are accepted by a majority of both Christian and skeptic scholars. This leaves a gap of oral history of not 40, but 20 years.

    Secondly, I think you will find that memory is not nearly as unreliable as you are assuming. In general, I would suggest that our memories are reliable in the same way as our cars are – we expect them to operate correctly, but are not surprised when they don’t. In particular, in the passage referencing the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul uses the words “paralambana/katecho” (received/passed on in English), which were the formal words used in rabbinical circles for teaching which had been memorized (katecho cf catechism). Whatever one’s view on the reliability of general memory, it is without question that something that has been memorized has a much higher reliability of accurate retention.

    Thirdly, the evidence one would expect from a story that evolved over many retellings from person to person is that the story would vary significantly along different branches of communication. So, if the resurrection were one of these evolutions of the story, we would expect it to show up in some locations where Christians were found, but not in others. But what we do find is that belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection is universal among early Christians, whether in Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, or France.

    • Rudy R

      Firstly, twenty years does not bolster your position. Memories are not stored in the brain like computers, but are reconstructed each time the event is reassembled. Memories can be recall rosier than what actually occurred. Just Google memory, psychology and neurology and you’ll find articles on the unreliability of memory.

      Secondly, you can rotely memorize a changed story. With memorizing, you can more accurately retain in memory a falsehood just as much as the truth. Again, the brain is not a computer that stores data to be recalled with 100% accuracy.

      Thirdly, the same reasoning you use for early Christians can be said for the Mormons.

      • Pofarmer

        You realize you’re talking neurosciences to a creationist, who has been told this before?

      • KarlUdy

        Firstly, twenty years does not bolster your position.

        Are you saying the time period is irrelevant?

        Memories are not stored in the brain like computers, but are reconstructed each time the event is reassembled. Memories can be recalled rosier than what actually occurred. Just Google memory, psychology and neurology and you’ll find articles on the unreliability of memory.

        I am not making the case that memory is faultless. I am saying that in most casesmemories are reliable.
        As an example, if I were to ask you about your childhood and school experience, I would expect that what you recount from memory would be generally accurate. Do you disagree?

        Secondly, you can rotely memorize a changed story. With memorizing, you can more accurately retain in memory a falsehood just as much as the truth. Again, the brain is not a computer that stores data to be recalled with 100% accuracy.

        Yes, a changed story can be memorized. But this then becomes a different argument from what Bob proposed. This then becomes an argument that the initial proponents of the resurrection gave a false account

        Thirdly, the same reasoning you use for early Christians can be said for the Mormons.

        As far as I know, those who disbelieve Mormonism do not do so because they believe the story changed through the telling over the years, so I don’t see how this is relevant to Mormonism.

        • MNb

          “Are you saying the time period is irrelevant?”
          The difference between 20 and 40 years is irrelevant indeed in this case.

          “This then becomes an argument that the initial proponents of the resurrection gave a false account.”
          People are very good at deceiving themselves. I don’t see why those initial proponents should be an exception. Moreover you neglect – antiscientifically refuse to accept again? – another process. In movements like early christianity radicalism is a virtue. The audiences of those initial proponents may have decorated the original accounts and those initial proponents didn’t have any interest in correcting them – on the contrary.

          Worse – you shouldn’t even care. According to the natural sciences resurrections are impossible. It’s a miracle and miracles are by definition faith based. If your faith is true you don’t need ramblings about the reliability of memories anyway. Your god made sure that 20 – 40 years after the event the memories were as accurate as on the day itself. Or are you going to tell us that your god is not omnipotent enough to guarantee such a trifle?

        • Rudy R

          Are you saying the time period is irrelevant?

          No, not irrelevant. Twenty years is a sufficient time to establish a myth or folklore. The game of telephone illustrates that information that you receive via word of mouth can change in a matter of minutes and is not always accurate. In fact, Trump is starting many myths that his base is accepting as fact. One among them is General Pershing’s pig’s blood myth.

          …I would expect that what you recount from memory would be generally accurate. Do you disagree?

          We know that you would expect a generally accurate account, but you would be wrong. In the face of all scholarship on memory, you seem to choose your own intuitions over the experts. Do you have any proof or evidence to back up your memory claims that would refute the consensus of psychologists and neurologists that memory is unreliable?

          …I don’t see how this is relevant to Mormonism.

          It’s relevant in that we do find that belief in the gold plates is universal among early Mormons, whether in New York, Missouri, Utah, or Idaho.

        • KarlUdy

          No, not irrelevant. Twenty years is a sufficient time to establish a myth or folklore. The game of telephone illustrates that information that you receive via word of mouth can change in a matter of minutes and is not always accurate. In fact, Trump is starting many myths that his base is accepting as fact. One among them is General Pershing’s pig’s blood myth.

          Sure, stories morph when you’re palying the game of telephone, but then that’s the purpose of the game. Have you ever tried playing where you have a check where the person receiving the message checks with the one transmitting to make sure they have received it accurately each step of the way? Not nearly as fun, but much more accurate because the goal becomes the preservation of the story instead of the morphing of the story.
          As for Trump … well, the only thing it seems he is economical with is the facts. I’m not sure he cares whether something is true, only whether it makes him look good.

          We know that you would expect a generally accurate account, but you would be wrong.

          Really? Can you remember your PIN number accurately?

          In the face of all scholarship on memory, you seem to choose your own intuitions over the experts. Do you have any proof or evidence to back up your memory claims that would refute the consensus of psychologists and neurologists that memory is unreliable?

          I am aware of studies showing that memory can be fallible. Memory has also been demonstrated to be accurate over a very long period in other cases. Take this from Memory by G Cohen:

          Research has tended to emphasize the errors that occur in everyday memory functions. The picture that emerges is of an error-prone system. This emphasis is partly an artefact of research methodology. In experiments it is usually more informative to set task difficulty at a level where people make errors so that the nature of the errors and the conditions that provoke them can be identified … People do make plenty of naturally occurring errors in ordinary life situations, but arguably, the methodologyhas produced a somewhat distorted view of memoryefficiency. In daily life, memory successes are the norm and memory failures are the exception. People also exhibit remarkable feats of remembering faces and voices from the remote past, and foreign-language vocabulary and childhood experiences over a lifetime. As well as such examples of retention over very long periods, people can retain large amounts of information over shorter periods, as whe they prepare for examinations, and sometimes, in the case of expert knowledge, they acquire a large amount of information and retain it for an indefinitely long time. Considering how grossly it is overloaded, memory in the real world proves remarkably efficient and resilient.

          It’s relevant in that we do find that belief in the gold plates is universal among early Mormons, whether in New York, Missouris, Utah, or Idaho.

          Is this belief because of faulty transmission of an account? As far as I understand it – that was the original account that was given by Joseph Smith, but that his relationship with the truth was rather similar to Donald Trump’s.

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

          Sure, stories morph when you’re palying the game of telephone, but then that’s the purpose of the game. Have you ever tried playing where you have a check where the person receiving the message checks with the one transmitting to make sure they have received it accurately each step of the way? Not nearly as fun, but much more accurate because the goal becomes the preservation of the sto ry instead of the morphing of the story.

          Now add a day (or a year) between each telling. Now how accurate is it?

          Really? Can you remember your PIN number accurately?

          Can you remember the gospel story accurately? You give me every single element of the story accurately from memory, and I’ll check with the 4 gospels. Go.

          As far as I understand it – that was the original account that was given by Joseph Smith, but that his relationship with the truth was rather similar to Donald Trump’s.

          Maybe Smith stopped his deceptive ways once he read the golden plates. But you will likely say that that’s a poor foundation on which to build a supernatural worldview. I agree, and I think that applies to your situation as well.

        • Bob Jase

          I have vivid memories of my childhood encounter with Witchy, a black vaguely human supernatural being I met one night when I was about four years old.

          Of course now I’m pretty sure that she was a hypnogogic experience BUT my memories are just as vivad and the experience feels just as real.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As an example, if I were to ask you about your childhood and school experience, I would expect that what you recount from memory would be generally accurate.

          Yeah, what you expect, and what is the case, are obviously not the same.

          Do you disagree?

          Yip. Experiences not even as old as my school days are problematic.

          I meet old comrades at least once a year and we swap stories of our days together in the services. More often than not, our recollections don’t tally up.

          As an example, I use the contradictory and controversial accounts of the B20 SAS section recce mission on Saddam’s Scud missile launchers.

          Five books that tell differing accounts of the same action, recorded within 13 years…the first only 2 years after the “real” events. Four by those who physically took part. The other, a reputable expert who did on-the-ground research.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bravo_Two_Zero

          The Real and the Not-So-Real B20

          http://peterratcliffeappreciationsociety.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-real-and-not-so-real-b20.html

          A 9 part series titled “The Memory Mavens” can be read at Vridar if you are really interested.

          Part one is at… http://vridar.org/2014/11/27/the-memory-mavens-part-1-a-brief-introduction-to-memory-theory/

    • Ignorant Amos

      Firstly, the earliest written account of Jesus’ resurrection is around CE50 in 1 Corinthians. Both the date and Paul’s authorship are accepted by a majority of both Christian and skeptic scholars. This leaves a gap of oral history of not 40, but 20 years.

      Presuming there was actually a resurrection story a la the gospels to corrupt, you don’t think oral history can become bastardised in 20 years? I’ve news for you, even today with modern technology, stories get corrupted. The problem you have is that there is no way of knowing how corrupted the story got, if there was such a story, because there is nothing to compare the gospels with…or have we?

      The earliest written account of Jesus resurrection in First Corinthians is explicit and talks about a “spiritual” resurrection. No tomb, no Romans, no entering Jerusalem, nothing of the historical narrative, non of it. Just a non bodily resurrection retrieved from scriptures.

      The Resurrection Body

      35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

      42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

      If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man.

      The first Adam became a living being and had a natural body. The second Adam, aka Jesus, literally “Yahweh saves” was borne in the image of the earthly man, but in heaven.

      Secondly, I think you will find that memory is not nearly as unreliable as you are assuming.

      Yeah, they really are, but we are not talking about having a good memory here, we are talking about the transference of a story from one person to another over time, not witnessing an event then committing it to papyrus decades later. So which is it you want to support?

      In general, I would suggest that our memories are reliable in the same way as our cars are – we expect them to operate correctly, but are not surprised when they don’t.

      What is it with believers and crap analogies that actually support their opponent?

      So you are now saying that memories work similar to cars? They breakdown. We are not talking about memories braking down, but however, just for the craic. So what happens when the memory is broken, like an old car? Do you go get a new one? Change it for another? Repair it with new parts? Great analogy.

      In particular, in the passage referencing the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul uses the words “paralambana/katecho” (received/passed on in English), which were the formal words used in rabbinical circles for teaching which had been memorized (katecho cf catechism).

      Received from where?

      3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

      Paul claims that what he knows of Jesus he got from no human, but from scripture (OT), revelation and visions.

      3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,
      4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

      Scritptures…OT.

      11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel.
      12 For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:11-12)

      No man, revelation.

      8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Cor. 15:8)

      Vision.

      Whatever one’s view on the reliability of general memory, it is without question that something that has been memorized has a much higher reliability of accurate retention.

      Nope…demonstrably not.

      Thirdly, the evidence one would expect from a story that evolved over many retellings from person to person is that the story would vary significantly along different branches of communication.

      Which is why the story you focus on doesn’t look like a retelling to you, but you have to do a lot of cherry picking. But the fact is, it is significantly different.

      So, if the resurrection were one of these evolutions of the story, we would expect it to show up in some locations where Christians were found, but not in others.

      Hmmmm…you are working arse about face. What was the original story? Were the heretics the real originators of the story and the history we ended up with is told by the victors?

      But what we do find is that belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection is universal among early Christians, whether in Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, or France.

      Only because you don’t know what you are talking about. When did Christianity get to all those places and by what method and by whom? There was no France for starters.

      But you’d do well to know the early faith was multi cult.

      Early Christianity in Rome wasn’t the simple one-size-fits-all faith you seem to imagine.

      At one point in Rome,… Justin Martyr has his Christian school in one part of the city, and the gnostic teacher Valentinus is in another school in Rome, and another so-called heretic by the name of Marcion is also in Rome just down the street somewhere. All of these along side of the official papal tradition that developed as part of St. Peter’s See in Rome, all there together. So, even within one city, we can have great diversity.

      Now, what’s significant about this diversity is the fact that each form of Christian tradition tended to tell the story of Jesus in different ways. The image of Jesus for Justin Martyr is rather different than that that we see for Valentinus or Marcion or others as well. And this is especially true even in other parts of the empire. This is where we start to see a kind of proliferation of gospels … all over the empire, and by the third and early fourth century [more] than you can actually count, and certainly more than you can easily read within a bible.

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/first/diversity.html

      The Gnostics had different ideas about Jesus death and resurrection.

      http://www.equip.org/article/the-gnostic-jesus/

      Late first century and early second century: development of Gnostic ideas, contemporaneous with the writing of the New Testament;

      Others such as the Docetists are another…

      http://www.earlychristianhistory.info/docet.html

      Docetism is easily explained: It is a belief that Jesus Christ did not actually die, and therefore was never resurrected bodily. A number of Christian theologies have arrived at this conclusion, in different ways, so Docetism comes in a number of forms.

      Basilideans?

      Nous was born as Jesus, whose secret name among the Basilideans was Kavlakav (or Caulacau). Christ, being a totally divine being, had no real physical body. Basilides is perhaps best known for his interpretation of the crucifixion. Christ, being incorporeal, could not die. On the way to the crucifixion site at Golgotha, he performed a switch—he turned Simon of Cyrene, who was helping to carry the cross, into a likeness of himself, and vice versa. The Romans, completely fooled, proceeded to crucify the poor Simon. All the while, Jesus stood aside, laughing at the trick. This notion survives to this day, in the pages of the Muslim Quran: “They said ‘We killed Messiah Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Isa was put over another man.” (Quran 4:157).

      Just a couple of examples, there are others.

      http://listverse.com/2014/02/07/10-bizarre-early-christian-sects/

      Crazy, uh?

      How could people hold such beliefs within the lifetime of the story you believe today being put to papyrus? Seems silly when the “real” story was as obvious as you seem to think it was, no?

      You have the benefit of hindsight and 2000 years of pruning away of unwanted traditions…many from the first, second, and third century, and which are every bit as bug nutty bat shit crazy as what we have today…but some not so much.

      • Jim Jones

        > I’ve news for you, even today with modern technology, stories get corrupted.

        Yes. See “The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall”

      • KarlUdy

        The first Adam became a living being and had a natural body. The second Adam, aka Jesus, literally “Yahweh saves” was borne in the image of the earthly man, but in heaven.

        I hope you are aware that the word translated “natural body” in 1 Corinthians 15, and “naatural” also eslewhere in the chapter is psychikon. In this discourse Paul contrasts psychikon with pneumaticon. pneumaticon is not contrasted with terms that would connote physicality, as you seem to suppose.

        Received from where?

        This particular passage would most likely have been received from one of the twelve, as the content (appeared first to Cephas, and then to the twelve) suggests such an origin, although it could possibly have been from any of the earlier believers.

        Hmmmm…you are working arse about face. What was the original story? Were the heretics the real originators of the story and the history we ended up with is told by the victors?

        On the assumption that the original story included no resurrection, and the addition of the resurrection was a later evolution of the story, we should expect it to not show up universally. In fact, the more widespread the resurrection narrative, the closer to the origin of the story we get. And the resurrection narrative is very widespread, very early.Although you do make a good point that there were gnostic and docetist believers too.

      • Kevin K

        I think one of the big issues most Christians face is that they seem to think that when Paul is speaking of the “scriptures”, he’s speaking of the NT gospels, when in fact he’s discussing the OT prophecies (Daniel in particular).

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

      Firstly, the earliest written account of Jesus’ resurrection is around CE50 in 1 Corinthians. Both the date and Paul’s authorship are accepted by a majority of both Christian and skeptic scholars. This leaves a gap of oral history of not 40, but 20 years.

      And the “gospel of Paul” is a paragraph. Give it another 20 years, and you get Mark, which has quite a lot of biography about Jesus.

      Secondly, I think you will find that memory is not nearly as unreliable as you are assuming.

      I think they’re insanely unreliable, though that is no guarantee that any particular memory is false. Maybe it’s true . . . but how would you know? That this is a squishy foundation on which to build anything important (or anything incredible) is the point.

      Paul uses the words “paralambana/katecho” (received/passed on in English), which were the formal words used in rabbinical circles for teaching which had been memorized (katecho cf catechism).

      So you’re saying that Paul was passing along a brief faith statement? Sure, that’s possible, but it doesn’t help you much because (1) it’s very short and (2) a faith statement is taken on faith.

      Whatever one’s view on the reliability of general memory, it is without question that something that has been memorized has a much higher reliability of accurate retention.

      So no one passed on the Jesus story until they’d been sequestered and could recite the entire 2-hour biography of Jesus flawlessly? I would’ve thought it’d be passed around like gossip, picking up “improvements” as it went along. You can prove that didn’t happen?

      Thirdly, the evidence one would expect from a story that evolved over many retellings from person to person is that the story would vary significantly along different branches of communication.

      Like Mark vs. John? Yes, it does change based on where it’s told.

      • KarlUdy

        And the “gospel of Paul” is a paragraph. Give it another 20 years, and you get Mark, which has quite a lot of biography about Jesus.

        True, but aren’t you making an argument against the minimal facts for the resurrection? The resurrection is in writing here just 20 years after the event.

        I think they’re insanely unreliable, though that is no guarantee that any particular memory is false. Maybe it’s true . . . but how would you know? That this is a squishy foundation on which to build anything important (or anything incredible) is the point.

        Really? Are you telling me that your memories of your childhood and school are ‘insanely unreliable’? If I asked you to give me the names of your parents or grandparents without looking for a record, what would be the chance that you’d get them right?

        So you’re saying that Paul was passing along a brief faith statement? Sure, that’s possible, but it doesn’t help you much because (1) it’s very short and (2) a faith statement is taken on faith.

        It is short, but it contains the relevant information to the claim. And I don’t get your point for (2).

        So no one passed on the Jesus story until they’d been sequestered and could recite the entire 2-hour biography of Jesus flawlessly? I would’ve thought it’d be passed around like gossip, picking up � �improvements” as it went along. You can prove that didn’t happen?

        I’m not saying that the informal passing on of the narrative didn’t happen. I am saying that this formal passing of the narrative did happen, and that this was then preserved in writing just 20 years after the event. Judge the accuracy of what was passed on informally by how well it measures up to what was passed on formally if you like.

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

          “And the “gospel of Paul” is a paragraph. Give it another 20 years, and you get Mark, which has quite a lot of biography about Jesus.”

          True, but aren’t you making an argument against the minimal facts for the resurrection?

          Not with this comment. I’m responding to your claim of an oral gap of 20 years. That’s true only for Paul’s miniscule gospel.

          The resurrection is in writing here just 20 years after the event.

          And it would be unbelievable, with oral tradition a plausible flaw, if it appeared 20 days after the event.

          Really? Are you telling me that your memories of your childhood and school are ‘insanely unreliable’?

          As a foundation on which to build something really, really, really important? Oh, yeah.

          Can you imagine a supernatural memory from your childhood being enough to convince the world (or even just me) that it actually happened?

          If I asked you to give me the names of your parents or grandparents without looking for a record, what would be the chance that you’d get them right?

          First, last, middle, and maiden names? Zero.

          I don’t get your point for (2).

          Take the Apostle’s Creed. I hope you wouldn’t point to that and say, “See? That’s powerful evidence.” It’s a faith statement. It’s not even intended to be evidence; it’s intended to be a summary of what some Christians believe.

          I’m not saying that the informal passing on of the narrative didn’t happen. I am saying that this formal passing of the narrative did happen, and that this was then preserved in writing just 20 years after the event.

          Show me that any formal passing along happened. You need to convince me. If you’re saying it could’ve happened, I already accept that.

          If a former Dionysus worshipper was an early Christian convert, is it possible that a non-resurrection story could become a resurrection story after he passed it along, given that Dionysus was dead and then returned to life?

        • KarlUdy

          Not with this comment. I’m responding to your claim of an oral gap of 20 years. That’s true only for Paul’s miniscule gospel.

          My claim of an oral gap of 20 years is directly connected to the minimal facts. (Fact 2: The disciples believed that Jesus rose and appeared to them.)
          Especially this particular quote, in 1 Corinthians 15 likely was passed on to Paul by a member of the twelve, or at least one of the disciples who was in Jerusalem when the resurrection happened.

          And it would be unbelievable, with oral tradition a plausible flaw, if it appeared 20 days after the event.

          OK, so you’re saying that the time period is essentially irrelevant. Unless there were TV cameras there recording it, you think the message got garbled in transmission somehow?

          As a foundation on which to build something really, really, really important? Oh, yeah.
          Can you imagine a supernatural memory from your childhood being enough to convince the world (or even just me) that it actually happened?

          So, the issue is, that you think resurrections don’t happen, so any report of a resurrection must be false, right?
          Which, by the way, is irrelevant as to Habermas’ minimal facts, which just requires that the disciples believed it happened. And the relevant issue is whether a report of such a belief can be accurately preserved in oral tradition for a period of time, whether it be 20 years, 40 years, or 20 days.

          First, last, middle, and maiden names? Zero.

          Are you saying you have failed to remember your father’s full name? Or are you saying something else??

          Take the Apostle’s Creed. I hope you wouldn’t point to that and say, “See? That’s powerful evidence.” It’s a faith statement. It’s not even intended to be evidence; it’s intended to be a summary of what some Christians believe.

          So is the Gettysburg Address, or the Pledge of Allegiance also a “faith statement”? And does that mean that the reliability of its transmission should be discounted in any way?

          Show me that any formal passing along happened. You need to convince me. If you’re saying it could’ve happened, I already accept that.

          Paul used paralambano/katecho. These words are not used for heard in passing, or gossiping. They are the exact same words used for the rabbinical and Greek formal instruction. To deny that formal passing on of the summary in 1 Corinthians 15 happened is to deny that these words mean what they mean.

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

          (Small aside for Greg G. at the bottom of this comment.)

          My claim of an oral gap of 20 years is directly connected to the minimal facts. (Fact 2: The disciples believed that Jesus rose and appeared to them.)

          The claim that disciples believed that Jesus rose and that this is powerful evidence relevant today is ridiculous. Again, I don’t care if 20 days was claimed—it’s still ridiculous.

          Especially this particular quote, in 1 Corinthians 15 likely was passed on to Paul by a member of the twelve, or at least one of the disciples who was in Jerusalem when the resurrection happened.

          Or it was added by copyists. But even your hypothesis is no strong evidence.

          OK, so you’re saying that the time period is essentially irrelevant. Unless there were TV cameras there recording it, you think the message got garbled in transmission somehow?

          Yep. You do remember what we’re talking about, right? A supernatural god creates the entire universe, and he sends some subset of himself (that’s not actually a subset) to earth to die and resurrect—that’s about the most incredible story possible. Pics or it didn’t happen (and even that would hardly carry the weight of this enormous claim).

          So, the issue is, that you think resurrections don’t happen, so any report of a resurrection must be false, right?

          If you reread your statement, obviously not. I think resurrections don’t happen, and I imagine that it would be impossible to convince you of any present-day resurrection outside of Christianity.

          Example: Sathya Sai Baba resurrected the dead, IIRC. Go believe that.

          The flaw in your statement is the last phrase. My initial hypothesis is that each and every resurrection account is false, but I’m happy to be convinced otherwise. No, I don’t think any report must be false.

          Which, by the way, is irrelevant as to Habermas’ minimal facts, which just requires that the disciples believed it happened.

          Millions of followers of Sathya Sai Baba today believe he performed miracles. Is that even remotely convincing to you? If not, then you can imagine my situation.

          Are you saying you have failed to remember your father’s full name? Or are you saying something else??

          Read more slowly. I’m saying that I can’t list the first, last, middle, and maiden names of each of my parents and my 4 grandparents. Yes, I remember my father’s full name.

          So is the Gettysburg Address, or the Pledge of Allegiance also a “faith statement”?

          Do they have supernatural claims in them?

          And does that mean that the reliability of its transmission should be discounted in any way?

          Show me that you’re paying attention: list for me the differences in reliability of the Gettysburg Address and the resurrection story in the gospels.

          Paul used paralambano/katecho. These words are not used for heard in passing, or gossiping. They are the exact same words used for the rabbinical and Greek formal instruction. To deny that formal passing on of the summary in 1 Corinthians 15 happened is to deny that these words mean what they mean.

          I probably wasn’t clear that time. I have no evidence that no one memorized the gospel and passed it along flawlessly. I also don’t care. Show me that every mention of the gospel was perfectly reliable through the authorship of John and I’ll drop any argument based on the failings of oral transmission.

          (And I know Greg G. makes a powerful argument that ignores oral tradition: that every element in the gospels comes from existing literature. I find that quite compelling, but I think that one is a little more farfetched and less convincing to an audience. For my purposes, I’m trying to show a simple, compelling, naturalistic explanation for the gospels that has better explanatory power. If the “existing literature” argument is even more powerful, great.)

        • Greg G.

          that every element in the gospels comes from existing literature

          To show that means actually means show the sources for every passage. Who has the attention span for that, let alone making the case in a few hours?

        • KarlUdy

          The claim that disciples believed that Jesus rose and that this is powerful evidence relevant today is ridiculous. Again, I don’t care if 20 days was claimed—it’s still ridiculous.

          OK. So what you’re saying here is that the fact that the disciples believed Jesus rose from the dead is irrelevant to you no matter the reason for their belief. Correct?

          Or it was added by copyists. But even your hypothesis is no strong evidence.

          You would prefer to believe something that has no evidence? Why? Because it fits your point of view? What was the word you used for believing something without evidence, or against the evidence, again?

          Yep. You do remember what we’re talking about, right? A supernatural god creates the entire universe, and he sends some subset of himself (that’s not actually a subset) to earth to die and resurrect—that’s about the most incredible story possible. Pics or it didn’t happen (and even that would hardly carry the weight of this enormous claim).

          Or the entire universe comes into being for no reason, and sentient beings evolve with a strong sense of meaning and purpose that has no parallel in the universe they live in. They invent the concept of a transcendent, all-powerful creator despite there being nothing to spur such concepts. A person comes alogn claiming to be this transcendent all-powerful creator in human form, is executed, buried, and then three days later stories of his resurrection appear, and his body never emerges. The small group of believers in this man grow to become the largest religious movement in the world, and all of this is just happenstance. Now that’s an incredible story!

          If you reread your statement, obviously not. I think resurrections don’t happen, and I imagine that it would be impossible to convince you of any present-day resurrection outside of Christianity.
          Example: Sathya Sai Baba resurrected the dead, IIRC. Go believe that.
          The flaw in your statement is the last phrase. My initial hypothe sis is that each and every resurrection account is false, but I’m happy to be convinced otherwise. No, I don’t think any report must be false.

          The difference between Sathya Sai Baba is that I don’t see how his resurrection carrieseven a fraction of the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. If Sathya Sai Baba was resurrected it would be along the lines of Jairus’ daughter being raised from the dead, or Lazarus, or Eutychus, or even Paul surviving after being stoned to death. Miracles, yes, but not attached with the significance of Jesus’ resurrection.

          Read more slowly. I’m saying that I can’t list the first, last, middle, and maiden names of each of my p arents and my 4 grandparents. Yes, I remember my father’s full name.

          You said ‘zero’. If you knew your father’s full name that would be at least 1 out of 6, right? More to the point, is your not knowing a case of forgetting, or never knowing? Maybe it was a bad example on my part, but I find it strange that every atheist here seems to have this idea that memory is about as accurate as a magic 8-ball. If that was the case, it would have never gained anyone’s trust in the first place.

          I probably wasn’t clear that time. I have no evidence that no one memorized the gospel and passed it along flawlessly. I also don’t care. Show me that every mention of the gospel was perfectly reliable through the authorship of John a nd I’ll drop any argument based on the failings of oral transmission.

          It’s looking a lot like you’re trying to move the goalposts because you realise you have made a claim you can’t back up. May I remind you that of the chain of the conversation:

          Karl: I’m not saying that the informal passing on of t he narrative didn’t happen. I am saying that this formal passing of the narrative did happen, and that this was then preserved in writing just 20 years after the event.

          Bob: Show me that any formal passing along happened. You need to convince me.

          I have given you clear evidence of a passage that is generally not disputed by skeptical scholars, where any clear reading of the passage indicates that formal passing of the narratvie happened.

          You respond by saying: “I don’t care. Show me that the whole gospel of John meets this standard and I’ll accept your point.”

          The clearest thing to me from this interchange is that, as you say, you don’t care. You don’t care when someone shows you good evidence that you are wrong. You’d rather persevere in your established worldview. That’s a pity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or the entire universe comes into being for no reason,…

          That bit is not incredible,that’s where we all find ourselves.

          …and sentient beings evolve with a strong sense of meaning and purpose that has no parallel in the universe they live in.

          That would be incredible if you knew it to be true. But since it is pure speculation pulled right out of yer arse, with a better probability of being erroneous, I think it can be ignored.

          They invent the concept of a transcendent, all-powerful creator despite there being nothing to spur such concepts.

          Invent is correct. Ahem..

          The Hebrew’s Abrahamic God is plagiarised. El was originally the god of the Canaanites and Yahweh was a subordinate. The Hebrew’s, who are really the leftover remnants of the wining faction of the Canaanites, seconded Yahweh and promoted him to top dog position. There are traces of this in the buybull. The buybulls continuity man wasn’t all that clued up.

          It seems almost certain that the God of the Jews evolved gradually from the Canaanite El, who was in all likelihood the “God of Abraham”… If El was the high God of Abraham—Elohim, the prototype of Yahveh—Asherah was his wife, and there are archaeological indications that she was perceived as such before she was in effect “divorced” in the context of emerging Judaism of the 7th century BCE. (See 2 Kings 23:15.) ~The Oxford Companion to World Mythology.

          https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=kQFtlva3HaYC&pg=PA118&redir_esc=y&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

          For who in the skies compares to Yahweh, who can be likened to Yahweh among the sons of Gods (bênê ’Ēlîm). ~Psalm 89 verse 7

          ז כִּי מִי בַשַּׁחַק, יַעֲרֹךְ לַיהוָה; יִדְמֶה לַיהוָה, בִּבְנֵי אֵלִים.

          Didn’t you know where the concept comes from?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_(deity)#Ugarit_and_the_Levant

          And the concept of a creator god is not exclusive to the Palestinian Levant and Nile Basin ya dope. There are older creator gods than YahwehJesus. And the concept developed independently around the planet, and also earlier.

          Even in the some area, Yahweh is the new kid on the block. The Babylonian’s, the Sumerian’s, and the Egyptian’s, to name but a few.

          A person comes alogn claiming to be this transcendent all-powerful creator in human form,…

          You think that is inspiring? Fuckwits all through history have done this shenanigans.And I’m affording you the claim that a geezer actually made the claim. It was very common apparently, especially at that time.

          …is executed, buried, and then three days later stories of his resurrection appear, and his body never emerges.

          You don’t get that bit as a given. There is a lot of work to be done to convince this critical thinking human being of such nonsense. Now eejits getting themselves executed, and even buried, is not unusual, although the buried bit seems exceptional in the circumstances, but regardless. Not impossible. It’s all the stuff you leave out that makes it a big spoof which is what I take issue with. I’m even happy that there are “stories” about a resurrection, we’ve still got them, it’s the three days later is that is a no-no though. As for a body never emerging. There are a number of reasons that would better explain such a scenario before I’d jump to a supernatural rising into heaven…and that includes alien abduction. ||But the story being a theological construction and it never really happened is a much better explanation.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_and_origin_of_the_Resurrection_of_Jesus

          The small group of believers in this man grow to become the largest religious movement in the world, and all of this is just happenstance.

          You think that numbers make a difference? One gullible person or one billion gullible people, it matters not.

          But here’s where your gullibility shines through. You believe you are part of the largest religious movement in the world. You are not. Your faith is a conglomeration of thousands of groups. The Jesus prayer in John about unity is a monumental failure and that alone should set the red lights flashing and the alarm bells ringing. That number of Christian flavours is estimated at 45,000 and fracturing at just over two more per day. But you know all this already. Because you’ve been here before. Then pissed of to Croydon when you couldn’t cope with the hard observations. Hit the reset button and returned to spew the same asinine garbage.

          Now that’s an incredible story!

          Yes…that’s what we are saying, “Now that’s an incredible story!”….thanks for confirming.

          Just the same way you think all those other religions whose farcical claims you think are incredible, atheists just go one loada ballix further.

        • Greg G.

          It seems almost certain that the God of the Jews evolved gradually from the Canaanite El, who was in all likelihood the “God of Abraham”… If El was the high God of Abraham—Elohim, the prototype of Yahveh—Asherah was his wife, and there are archaeological indications that she was perceived as such before she was in effect “divorced” in the context of emerging Judaism of the 7th century BCE. (See 2 Kings 23:15.) ~The Oxford Companion to World Mythology.

          It must have been a bitter divorce. God is quite petty to those who remain friends with his ex.

          Jeremiah 3:20 (NRSV)
          20 Instead, as a faithless wife leaves her husband, so you have been faithless to me, O house of Israel, says the Lord.

          Jeremiah 44:15-18
          15 Then all the men who were aware that their wives had been making offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: 16 “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you. 17 Instead, we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials, used to do in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. We used to have plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no misfortune. 18 But from the time we stopped making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we have lacked everything and have perished by the sword and by famine.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          The difference between Sathya Sai Baba is that I don’t see how his resurrection carrieseven a fraction of the significance of Jesus’ resurrection.

          Anno….who would believe such incredible ballix? Feckin’ dunderheads aren’t they? Problem there is that those dunderheads believe their incredible ballix with the same passion and belief you do yours…can you imagine such a daft thing?

          If Sathya Sai Baba was resurrected it would be along the lines of Jairus’ daughter being raised from the dead, or Lazarus, or Eutychus, or even Paul surviving after being stoned to death.

          You do realise how embarrassingly ridiculous you are being, right? A text book case of special pleading and trying to excuse your nonsense by employing even more nonsense.

          Miracles, yes, but not attached with the significance of Jesus’ resurrection.

          Really? Sathya Sai Baba was able to do miracle resurrections? He claimed he himself was a resurrected guru and guess what, his followers believe it. Sathya Sai Baba’s own resurrection is expected, how do you know it won’t be even more significant when it happens?

          Do yerself a favour Karl, and take The Outsider Test for Faith, before writing more silly stuff.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Maybe it was a bad example on my part, but I find it strange that every atheist here seems to have this idea that memory is about as accurate as a magic 8-ball.

          With good reason…try and learn something ffs…

          Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn’t happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It’s more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics, and raises some important ethical questions we should all remember to consider.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB2OegI6wvI

          If that was the case, it would have never gained anyone’s trust in the first place.

          Why do you persist on this line of reasoning when it is complete lunacy?

          Hundreds, nae thousands, of contradictory examples prove you are just talking utter rubbish. Try and think it through Karl.

          Why are you not a Mormon, or Scientologist?

          Take the test.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I have given you clear evidence of a passage that is generally not disputed by skeptical scholars, where any clear reading of the passage indicates that formal passing of the narratvie happened.

          You are dead wrong. You have given no such thing. The interpretation of the passage is disputed by scholars. You’ve been pointed this out. You choose to ignore it.

          What does Paul say?

          1 Corinthians 15

          3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

          4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

          What scriptures is Paul talking about?

          I conclude that he is referring to the Old Testament and not a Christian document because Paul uses the word graphe 14 times in his letters. 8 of these are followed by direct quotations of the Old Testament.

          Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

          Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”

          Rom 10:11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

          Rom 11:2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 “Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.”

          Gal 3:8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”

          Gal 3:22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Here it is used as a synonym for Law which appears in both 21 and 24.)

          Gal 4:30 But what does the Scripture say? “CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.”

          1Ti 5:18 For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

          In the others, he is clearly alluding to the Old Testament.

          Rom 1:2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,

          Rom 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

          Rom 16:26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;

          From Paul’s usage of the word graphe and grapho elsewhere overwhelmingly being to the Old Testament, we may reasonably conclude that in 1 Cor 15:3 and 4, he is also making his basis on the Old Testament (if you include the times that Paul alludes to the Old Testament or quotes it without an introduction, the evidence is even more overwhelming that he is thinking of the Old Testament).

          Personal revelation doesn’t count either. Dreams are not evidence. It seems Paul was using midrash too…or the the midrash of someone else.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The clearest thing to me from this interchange is that, as you say, you don’t care. You don’t care when someone shows you good evidence that you are wrong. You’d rather persevere in your established worldview. That’s a pity.

          Spoiiingty..spoiiing-spoiiingy-spoiiing..spoiiingtity…spoing.

          There goes another bag of meters.

        • Greg G.

          To supplement Ignorant Amos’ post here: http://disq.us/p/1loj76a

          What scriptures is Paul talking about?

          1 Corinthians 15:3 “Christ died for our sins” comes from:

          Isaiah 53:5 (NRSV)But he was wounded for our transgressions,    crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the punishment that made us whole,    and by his bruises we are healed.

          1 Corinthians 15:4 “And that he was buried” comes from:

          Isaiah 53:9 (NRSV)They made his grave with the wicked    and his tomb with the rich,although he had done no violence,    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

          1 Corinthians 15:4 “he rose again the third day” comes from:

          Hosea 6:2 (NRSV)After two days he will revive us;    on the third day he will raise us up,    that we may live before him.

          Paul knew Isaiah well as that is the book he cites most often. He also knew Hosea and cited both Isaiah and Hosea together. In Romans 9:25-26, Paul cites Hosea by name, then quotes Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10. In Romans 9:27-28, Paul cites Isaiah and quotes Isaiah 10:22-23. In Romans 9:29, he cites Isaiah again and quotes Isaiah 1:9.

          PS:

          I have given you clear evidence of a passage that is generally not disputed by skeptical scholars, where any clear reading of the passage indicates that formal passing of the narratvie happened.

          A “clear reading” would not include reading the gospels back into the epistles.

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

          OK. So what you’re saying here is that the fact that the disciples believed Jesus rose from the dead is irrelevant to you no matter the reason for their belief. Correct?

          No, because we don’t have the disciples believing in the resurrection. What we have is a very old and very poorly maintained story saying that.

          You would prefer to believe something that has no evidence?

          Nope. What am I saying that has no evidence? We have evidence that copies get distorted with time, for example.

          Or the entire universe comes into being for no reason

          Look at a meandering river or a jagged mountain peak. Beautiful, but natural laws explain them just fine. You think the universe itself was any different? Show me.

          sentient beings evolve with a strong sense of meaning and purpose that has no parallel in the universe they live in.

          Is this Lewis’s argument from desire? I’ve responded to that in this blog.

          They invent the concept of a transcendent, all-powerful creator despite there being nothing to spur such concepts.

          You’ve heard of the hyperactive agency detector?

          The small group of believers in this man grow to become the largest religious movement in the world, and all of this is just happenstance. Now that’s an incredible story!

          What’s incredible? Is the invention of every religion in human history also incredible?

          The difference between Sathya Sai Baba is that I don’t see how his resurrection carrieseven a fraction of the significance of Jesus’ resurrection.

          You and I could sit down and invent a dozen religions that have more significance than Sai Baba’s magic tricks. So what?

          Read more slowly. I’m saying that I can’t list the first, last, middle, and maiden names of each of my p arents and my 4 grandparents. Yes, I remember my father’s full name.

          You said ‘zero’. If you knew your father’s full name that would be at least 1 out of 6, right?

          Haven’t had your coffee yet this morning? You asked me what the chances are that I would get them right. Get them all right. The chances of that are zero.

          Find a more interesting point to belabor.

          More to the point, is your not knowing a case of forgetting, or never knowing?

          Probably both.

          I find it strange that every atheist here seems to have this idea that memory is about as accurate as a magic 8-ball. If that was the case, it would have never gained anyone’s trust in the first place.

          (1) human memory is a lot weaker than most people think. They confuse vivid memories with accurate memories. I’ve written about several startling examples of vivid but inaccurate memories in this blog.

          (2) Your house of cards needs a very, very solid foundation. People’s memories isn’t it.

          I have given you clear evidence of a passage that is generally not disputed by skeptical scholars, where any clear reading of the passage indicates that formal passing of the narratvie happened.

          Exclusively? No one ever passed it along casually as a marvelous tale? Maybe I’ve just been overestimating the power of the gospel all this time.

          I’m still waiting for you to show me that you understand the differences between our knowledge of the Gettysburg Address and our understanding of the resurrection.

          The clearest thing to me from this interchange is that, as you say, you don’t care. You don’t care when someone shows you good evidence that you are wrong. You’d rather persevere in your established worldview. That’s a pity.

          That’s sweet. Thanks for your condescension.

          Let’s try again: I don’t care if one person passed the fabulous tale along using some sort of formal approach—he memorized a set story and tried not to deviate from it. That does nothing to show that the tale that we get at the end (at the writing of the gospels) was precisely the same story it was 60 years or so prior.

      • james

        “I think they’re insanely unreliable, though that is no guarantee that any particular memory is false. Maybe it’s true . . . but how would you know? That this is a squishy foundation on which to build anything important (or anything incredible) is the point.”

        yes, i agree. notice in acts peter does not know that he was part of a group which send “send her away , she keeps crying after us”
        he could not remember that jesus told them all foods are clean
        he could not remember that jesus told them to make gentile pals.
        peter in acts could not recall one gospel story to prove fellowship with gentiles

        https://turchisrong.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/james-patrick-holdings-intentional.html

        yes, no good memory.

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

          I don’t know that these are examples of bad memory. Rather, I think that they’re simply amalgamations of incompatible traditions/stories. Each was too good to lose, but together, they contradict.

    • Greg G.

      Firstly, the earliest written account of Jesus’ resurrection is around CE50 in 1 Corinthians. Both the date and Paul’s authorship are accepted by a majority of both Christian and skeptic scholars. This leaves a gap of oral history of not 40, but 20 years.

      You are reading the fictional gospels back into 1 Corinthians. Paul says that it is according to scripture. Which scriptures? 1 Corinthians 15:3 says, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” which can be found in Isaiah 53:5. 1 Corinthians 15:4 says, “that he was buried,” which is found in Isaiah 53:9, and that verse also says, “that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” which can be found in Hosea 6:2. But if they saw it in the OT, there is no reason to think they saw it any other way unless you read the fictional gospels back into the passage.

      Paul insists that he didn’t get the gospel he preached from human authority, but from revelation (Galatians 1:11-12) and he also tells us that the revelation comes from the prophets (Romans 16:25-26). We can verify that by checking everything Paul says about Jesus in his epistles to find that all of his information comes from the Old Testament. Also note that when Paul says he didn’t get the gospel he preached from human authority is a few verses before he says he visited Cephas for a half a month and also met James, which specifically tells us he did not get it from them. Paul never says he saw Jesus but he uses the same word (“optanomai”) for his “appeared to” that he uses for the “appeared to” of all the others, which shows he didn’t think their “appeared to” was any different than his own.

      Paul uses “Jesus Christ”, “Christ Jesus”, Jesus”, or “Christ” about once for every 5 verses of his epistles. In 2 Corinthians 11:4-6 and 12:11, Paul insists his knowledge is not inferior to the knowledge of the “super-apostles”. That’s a bold statement if he knew they had spent time with his idol, Jesus.

      So Paul thought Jesus was apparent to them only through the Old Testament scripture so nobody could have actually known Jesus in the first century.

      Thirdly, the evidence one would expect from a story that evolved over many retellings from person to person is that the story would vary significantly along different branches of communication.

      Exactly. The story went from being about Isaiah’s Suffering Servant from the Old Testament to an anachronistic story with a setting in the first century.

    • Joe

      This leaves a gap of oral history of not 40, but 20 years

      But a massive geographical gap, because Paul never saw the event or met the earthly Jesus.

    • Jim Jones

      > Both the date and Paul’s authorship are accepted by a majority of both Christian and skeptic scholars.

      And is based 100% on wishful thinking.

      IMO no gospel was written before 135 CE. That means that had Jesus existed, it would have been 100 years before a gospel was written.

      Thus, we can start recording the history of WWII in 2039.

      • KarlUdy

        You are aware that there is a fragment of John’s gospel dated to 125CE?

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

          I know. Hilarious! “It looks like my grannie’s handwriting” as a “scientific method” – SMH. And a scrap is meaningless – that phrase could have been copied into the gospel and the scrap was never part of a gospel.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is no mention of the gospels by any Christian Church father in the first century and more from the alleged time of Jesus death.

          All of the canonical gospels were originally written in Greek, even though Jesus spoke Aramaic. More over, other than what are claimed to be paraphrasing, no meaningful quoting of our canonical gospels occurred until Irenaeus’ Against Heresies c. 180 CE, and our first fully intact copy with a definitive (i.e. not dated palaeographically) date is the Codex Sinaiticus at 330-360 CE.

          Since Paleographic dating as it currently exists is unable “to construct a 95% confidence interval for NT manuscripts without allowing a century for an assigned date” none of the fragments of the canonical Gospels nor non canonal works like Egerton Papyrus 2 can be said definitively predate Against Heresies c. 180 CE. So the best that can be said is that the canonal Gospels existed in some form no later then 145 CE. Anything before that date is pure speculation.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Except it isn’t.

          The Use and Abuse of p52: Papyrological Pitfalls in the Dating of the Fourth Gospel

          By Brent Nongbri, Yale University

          http://people.uncw.edu/zervosg/papyrology/nongbri%20p52%20misuse.pdf

      • Bob Jase

        Hitler did not commit suicide, the original Human Torch killed him.

    • MNb

      “I think you will find that memory is not nearly as unreliable as you are assuming.”
      Thanks for confirming that every single apologist at one point or another has to deny science.

      http://agora.stanford.edu/sjls/Issue%20One/fisher&tversky.htm

      https://www.ukessays.com/essays/psychology/human-memory-how-reliable-is-eyewitness-testimony-psychology-essay.php

      https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=117140

      http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr06/eyewitness.aspx

      https://agora.stanford.edu/sjls/Issue%20One/fisher&tversky.htm

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-the-eyes-have-it/

      “I would suggest”

      Given your lack of credentials, formal training, expert knowledge of the topic and of course your open agenda what you suggest is utterly irrelevant.

      “belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection is universal among early Christians”
      During the time Paulus wrote his letters and the unknown authors wrote the Gospels you have know idea what kind of stuff the early christians believed, because they didn’t leave any sources. What the early christians after 70 CE believed all goes back to these sources. So your claim is void.

      • KarlUdy

        “I would suggest”

        Given your lack of credentials, formal training, expert knowledge of the topic and of course your open agenda what you suggest is utterly irrelevant.

        Try it yourself. Can you remember things accurately? Do you ever choose to entrust things to memory, like say a PIN number or password?

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

          Can you remember things accurately?

          So is that your claim now, that the gospels might have been transmitted accurately? That legend might not have corrupted the resurrection story?

        • Susan

          Do you ever choose to entrust things to memory, like say a PIN number or password?

          Unbelievable. I don’t expect you to read ALL the links MNb provided but did you bother to read any of it?

          Passwords and pin numbers are not events.

        • KarlUdy

          Susan,
          I did not reply to the part with the links because I had not read them. I replied to another part of his comment where he indicated that my ideas about memory being generally trustworthy were irrelevant. Now if you want a reply to the links, please read this this from Memory by G Cohen:

          Research has tended to emphasize the errors that occur in everyday memory functions. The picture that emerges is of an error-prone system. This emphasis is partly an artefact of research methodology. In experiments it is usually more informative to set task difficulty at a level where people make errors so that the nature of the errors and the conditions that provoke them can be identified … People do make plenty of naturally occurring errors in ordinary life situations, but arguably, the methodology has produced a somewhat distorted view of memory efficiency. In daily life, memory successes are the norm and memory failures are the exception. People also exhibit remarkable feats of remembering faces and voices from the remote past, and foreign-language vocabulary and childhood experiences over a lifetime. As well as such examples of retention over very long periods, people can retain large amounts of information over shorter periods, as when they prepare for examinations, and sometimes, in the case of expert knowledge, they acquire a large amount of information and retain it for an indefinitely long time. Considering how grossly it is overloaded, memory in the real world proves remarkably efficient and resilient.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Some problems with your citation.

          First, it is cherry picked. It’s cherry picked from a source that presumes eyewitnesses.

          https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=tE8xDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA357&lpg=PA357&dq=Research+has+tended+to+emphasize+the+errors+that+occur+in+everyday+memory+functions.+The+picture+that+emerges+is+of+an+error-prone+system.+This+emphasis+is+partly+an+artefact+of+research+methodology.+In+experiments+it+is+usually+more+informative+to+set+task+difficulty+at+a+level+where+people+make+errors+so+that+the+nature+of+the+errors+and+the+conditions+that+provoke+them+can+be+identified&source=bl&ots=YKN4AoSzgJ&sig=mTWVUUmjERjV_pPpRXfHpS3NUQo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwilideWzPLVAhVsLMAKHb-EAVIQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=Research%20has%20tended%20to%20emphasize%20the%20errors%20that%20occur%20in%20everyday%20memory%20functions.%20The%20picture%20that%20emerges%20is%20of%20an%20error-prone%20system.%20This%20emphasis%20is%20partly%20an%20artefact%20of%20research%20methodology.%20In%20experiments%20it%20is%20usually%20more%20informative%20to%20set%20task%20difficulty%20at%20a%20level%20where%20people%20make%20errors%20so%20that%20the%20nature%20of%20the%20errors%20and%20the%20conditions%20that%20provoke%20them%20can%20be%20identified&f=false

          Second, it is irrelevant. If the event didn’t happen in the first place, then anything written abut it is made up from something other than a memory.

          And third, the argument here is less about an accurate memory, and more about what the information is, also the fidelity maintained when information is transferred multiple times. We already know that the data was corrupted as it was copied over and over in written form.

        • Greg G.

          Faulty memory is also a good reason we see similarities in the the gospels. We see Matthew making editorial changes in Mark’s text but forgetting about the change a few sentences later and reverting to the original text. Luke does the same thing with both Mark and Matthew.

          But it shows that they were copying one another so the changes are deliberate and not just faulty memory. Luke has a preference for fives and tens and often changes the numbers in the text to those numbers. Luke also likes to balance stories making another account involving a woman that is parallel to the account of a man, and an account involving a Gentile to the one involving a Jew. Neither could have forgotten the spit miracles when Mark reminds them in writing. Those were omitted for theological reasons.

          Mark has Jesus being baptized for remission of sins. But the other gospels have Jesus being a pre-existent being who shouldn’t need remission of sin. The alterations to the baptism event cannot be faulty memory when they are copying from Mark. The other authors obscure and excuse John’s baptism for remission of sins for theological reasons.

          Mark has the Feeding of the 5000 in the wilderness so he has to provide the food for the hungry multitude. Then they set sail to go to Bethsaida but encounter a storm at sea lake and Jesus rescues them so they arrive safely at Gennasaret. Later, they finally arrive at Bethsaida, Jesus performs a spit miracle and encounter some questions.

          Luke puts the Feeding of the 5000 in Bethsaida, then jumps over the spit miracle and right to the question asked in Bethsaida, leaving out the walking on water, the visit to Gennasaret, and the comparison of the Samaritan woman to a dog. The feeding miracle doesn’t make as much sense since the crowd wouldn’t have to go far to get food. But the alteration eliminates the embarrassment of the party heading to Bethsaida but ending up in Gennasaret even with a miracle of Jesus. That is not a forgetful memory, it is a deliberate alteration for theological reasons.

        • Bob Jase

          You try it yourself – give us a list of every teacher for every class you ever had and a complete list of all your classmates for each. While you’re at it make sure you give us the classroom numbers and how many sick days you took off during each school year.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Can you remember every pin number or password you’ve ever used in the past?

          There’s a very good reason why there is a “have you forgotten your password” option on just about every login field I’ve ever come across. It’s because our memories are not what you think they are, am afraid.

        • MNb

          Yeah – judging yourself always beats solid scientific research.

    • TheNuszAbides

      1 Corinthians isn’t even a significant fraction of an entire gospel narrative, so, better luck next time.

      • KarlUdy

        It is a written account of the minimal facts though.

        • Greg G.

          It is a written account that has maximal misinterpretation though.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    I like Habermas’s starting point: “I am not basing my argument for
    Jesus’ resurrection on the inerrancy of the Bible or even on its general
    trustworthiness” (The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p. 212).

    It’s a fine starting point, but it’s too bad he didn’t stick with it. He does selectively rely on the trustworthiness of the Bible. There is no contemporaneous support for the whole Jesus H. Christ story anywhere outside the Bible.

    • GubbaBumpkin

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

      See what I mean? Several of his “facts” are attested nowhere outside the New Testament.

      • TheNuszAbides

        yep – so much for not basing his argument “even on its general trustworthiness”.

  • Clayton Gafne Jaymes

    No one who is recalling anything with God backing them is going to forget anything or misstate anything. Aside fromthat yo can discuss the humanmind’s ability to forget things etc. but let us not forget exactly the sort of thing that we are talking about here alright? A man who claimed to be the son of God was put to death and then was literally raised up from the dead after having literally been buried. Somehow I don’t think that is a typical sort of ‘day to day’ kind of thing that one easily confuses and or forgets with other incidents that took place. thatis one of those events that is deeply impressed into the memory with clarity. And let us not forget the other serious point to these, the death and resurrection of Jesus was an account they told oveer adn over adn over and over and over again to ppl because this was/is the message of the ‘good news’ from God to us.

    Paul literally saw Jesus himself and spoke with Jesus. Paul was not simply told about Jesus. Paul was also taken into the heavens if even in his mind. But he was there by God’s doing.

    The best thing for any of you to ever do if you want to know what is going on in Scripture is to read the Bible yourself even if you ask other ppl questions to get their insights on passages, but make sure to read the things for yourself even beyond the verses they show you because there are passages that seem to say one thing when one verse is read but is clearly saying something else in the context of the passage in the book.

    • adam

      “No one who is recalling anything with God backing them is going to forget anything or misstate anything.”

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/576b5354eb99d2993f45ae1c298d7ea1beb6be63a081a92e69a99632f9b856b3.jpg

    • Otto

      The Bible proves the Bible…

    • Greg G.

      No one who is recalling anything with God backing them is going to forget anything or misstate anything.

      But if they were making stuff up, they didn’t need God backing them up. They just had to pull verses out of the Old Testament to invent a Jesus out of the Suffering Servant metaphor, then, a generation later, someone put the metaphor as a character in the first century, much like Twain’s anachronistic “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court“.

    • Michael Neville

      Paul literally saw Jesus himself and spoke with Jesus.

      According to Paul’s letters, he had a vision of Jesus, which is not the same as meeting Jesus or talking to Jesus.

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

      I think you’re missing the important distinction between a vivid memory and an accurate one. It’s easy to mistake one for the other, but they are very clearly not the same thing.

      You seem to be saying that it’s possible that the gospel story could go from person to person for decades without significant corruption. I doubt that, but let’s forget that for now. That it’s possible that the incredible gospel story is true is hardly a good foundation.

      • Kevin K

        I once saw a ghost. Remember that vividly. (Of course, it wasn’t a ghost at all, but an interesting shadow … but it scared the bejezus out of me at the time.)

    • Joe

      A man who claimed to be the son of God was put to death and then was literally* raised up from the dead after having literally* been buried.

      *not necessarily literally.

      Somehow I don’t think that is a typical sort of ‘day to day’ kind of thing that one easily confuses and or forgets with other incidents that took place.

      Plenty of people seem to have forgotten about it. Apart from four(?) people who waited anything from thirty to 100+ years to bother writing anything down.

      Paul literally saw Jesus himself and spoke with Jesus.

      Again, he ‘literally’ did nothing of the sort.

    • Tommy

      I’ve read the epistles; they told me that they were a product of some greco-roman mystery cult 2,000 years ago.
      I’ve also read the gospels; they told me that they were fictional tracts inspired by said greco-roman mystery cult.

    • Jim Jones

      > The best thing for any of you to ever do if you want to know what is going on in Scripture is to read the Bible yourself

      We have.

      How did you like the Harry Potter books? They’re way better written than the Christian bible gobbledygook.

    • Kevin K

      Um…no. Paul had a vision. He said so himself. It was an hallucination, most likely due to temporal lobe epilepsy.

      Paul also claimed that NO ONE ELSE had seen Jesus in any manner other than as a “vision” (aka, hallucination). So, who are you to believe, then? Paul or the Gospel writers? If you believe Paul, why are the gospels in the canon? If you believe the gospel writers, why Paul?

      One or more of them must be a false prophet. You cannot square that circle any other way.

    • TheNuszAbides

      you seem to be under the misapprehension that this is intended for an audience that hasn’t read “S”cripture. several of the atheist regulars here will happily run circles around you with it. but why even bring that up unless you can resist the “even the devil can quote scripture” trope?

  • skl

    This will be the fourth attempt, the first
    three were “Detected as Spam” for some reason.

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

    I’m not sure I understand why this would not
    be at least evidence, if not compelling evidence. Unless
    Josephus thought
    people were prone to worship people who did not
    exhibit supernatural powers.

    Also, I’m rather startled by how you are so ready to dismiss
    something based on “maybe”s. One “maybe” after another:

    “If the Jesus story didn’t have him rising from
    the dead before they heard it, there’s a good chance
    that it did after they got through with it.”

    “I’m simply saying that human memory is notoriously
    inaccurate, and oral history is an error-prone process.” [Yes, but human memory
    can also be accurate.]

    “And there are other possible variations along Christianity’s path. Maybe someone
    was lying along the way. That’s hardly surprising—we know
    that people lie. You might ask for their motivation. I dunno, and I don’t much
    care—we understand those times so poorly that there could be lots of
    surprising reasons.”

    “Gospels could have been amended or added to, and competing
    gospels could have been discarded or destroyed.”

    “Or maybe Jesus never existed.”

    Many “maybe”s.
    However, maybe you’re wrong.

    • Otto

      >>>”Unless Josephus thought
      people were prone to worship people who did not
      exhibit supernatural powers.”

      So do historians that report on what Joseph Smith did and the early Mormons believed think that Joseph Smith had supernatural powers and actually met and received golden plates from an angel?

      Maybe you are not a skeptic…sure don’t sound like one.

      • skl

        I don’t think Mormons worship Joseph Smith.

        • Otto

          That isn’t the point. The point is just because a 3rd party reports on what people believe does that somehow give credence to the veracity of the belief?

        • skl

          The point is not that ancient historians reported Christians
          believing something. It was that they reported them worshipping someone, a man. It’s not every day you find people worshipping other people.

        • adam

          “It was that they reported them worshipping someone, a man.”

          A man they believed was God?

        • skl

          Yes, that’s generally the object of “worship.”

        • Otto

          History is full of people worshiping other people as if they were gods. You still haven’t answered the issue.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_have_been_considered_deities

        • skl

          “History is full of people worshiping other people as if
          they were gods. You still haven’t answered the issue.”

          I’m not sure what your issue is.
          If people worship other people as god, you can accept their
          worship as a fact. Then you could investigate the reason(s) for their choosing to worship someone as god. Do their reasons make sense, are they supported by any evidence.
          You might also consider the gods’ “staying power.” For example, whether Julius Caesar is still deified today.

          Regardless, many years after the death of the “man-god”,
          some will continue to believe, some will stop believing, some will never have believed.

        • Otto

          >>>”Then you could investigate the reason(s) for their choosing to worship someone as god.”

          And what part of the investigation leads you to believe Jesus was a God?

          Additionally it sounding like the fact that they did believe Jesus was God (and Josephus reported their belief) was enough evidence for you.

          >>>”You might also consider the gods’ “staying power.”

          Staying power of the belief? So if people believe something a long time that makes it true?

          What exactly leads you to believe you are a skeptic?

        • skl

          “And what part of the investigation leads you to believe Jesus was a God?”

          I don’t believe Jesus was a God. I’m not a Christian.

          “Staying power of the belief? So if people believe something a long time that makes it true?”

          Of course not. Just another data point to take into consideration.

        • Otto

          >>>”You might also consider the gods’ “staying power.”

          You sure sound like someone defending the faith.

          >>>”Of course not. Just another data point to take into consideration.”

          That is not a data point, that is a fallacious argument.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What exactly leads you to believe you are a skeptic?

          No understanding of the term “skeptic”, or head away with the fairies…or both.

        • Joe

          You might also consider the gods’ “staying power.”

          Not unless you can explain to us what bearing that has on something existing or not.

        • JP415

          “You might also consider the gods’ “staying power.” For example, whether Julius Caesar is still deified today.”

          Are you implying that the longevity of a religion is related to the truth of its doctrines? Bear in mind that Buddhism and Hinduism are older than Christianity.

        • skl

          No, I’m not saying longevity proves anything necessarily. As I said to Otto, the longevity is just another data point to take into consideration.
          For instance, the fact that worshipers of David Koresh or Julius Caesar seemed to have dropped off precipitously after Koresh’s and Caesar’s deaths is something to consider. (I’m not sure if Buddhism or Hinduism involve man-gods.)

        • Otto

          You are talking out of both side of your mouth.

          And it’s not a data point

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are talking out of both side of your mouth.

          Which is all skl has done since getting here.

        • Jim Jones

          You are very selective in the ‘evidence’ you believe. The LDS claim they are gaining adherents. Why not believe them?

          “Christianity: 2,000 years of everyone making it up as they go”.

        • Kevin K

          Lord Krishna is a man-god. Why are you denying him?

        • skl

          I’m not religious.

        • JP415

          Well, the Buddha might not technically qualify as a god, but he (A.) reputedly had supernatural powers, and (B.) is worshipped by millions of people in Asia, so he certainly has god-like attributes. And his religion pre-dates Christianity by four or five centuries.

        • skl

          I think “worship” is restricted to that which is considered divine/god.
          If the Buddha’s not considered such, then his followers would be venerating/revering him.

        • JP415

          “If the Buddha’s not considered such, then his followers would be venerating/revering him.”

          Followers of the Pure Land sect of Buddhism (practiced mainly in China and Japan) offer up prayers to the Buddha. They believe that those who call on the name of Buddha will be reincarnated in the Pure Land of the west after they die. That certainly looks like worship to me. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think…

          That’s dangerous.

          Remember what a told ya….Google is your friend.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worship#Buddhism

        • Jim Jones

          And the religion of the Australian Aborigines goes back about 80,000 years.

        • Susan

          If people woship other people as god, then you can accept their worship as fact.

          Obviously, everyone here has done so.

          Then you could investigate the reason(s) for their choosing to worship someone as god. Do their reasons make sense, are they supported by any evidence.

          Nope. Not so far. No one’s provided any evidence for any god claim

          There’s also the problem of defining “god”.

          many years after the death of the “man-god”,
          some will continue to believe, some will stop believing, some will never have believed.

          Just like Elvis.

        • Jim Jones

          So?

        • Ignorant Amos

          If people worship other people as god, you can accept their worship as a fact.

          Something no one here has contested, so what’s your point?

          Then you could investigate the reason(s) for their choosing to worship someone as god.

          As many/most here have done…something you seem unable to grasp.

          Do their reasons make sense, are they supported by any evidence.

          Nope, they don’t. None of them, ever, in the life of human history…zero, zilch, zip, none, nil, nadda…ever.

          You might also consider the gods’ “staying power.”

          Why? There are plenty of religions today that are much older than Christianity…so what?

          For example, whether Julius Caesar is still deified today.

          More asinine fuckwittery…and moronic Sealioning.

        • Pofarmer

          If Christians hadn’t actively persecuted people who defied Julius Caesar would there still be people who do? My guess is yes.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Am sure…providing Christianity had ever got off the ground. If early Christians had persecuted people that deified Julius Caesar…or any Roman god for that matter…the Romans would’ve hounded the wee cult into extinction at the get go. Rather than leave such an insignificance to later flourish.

        • skl

          Mahalo, magma.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yip…nothing as usual…you have been well and truly pwned.

        • Kevin K

          Hindu religious practices date to 5500 BCE. Using your reasoning, everyone should be a Hindu because of its “staying power”. After all, there about a billion Hindu in the world today. Why are you denying the Hindu gods?

        • skl

          I’m not a Hindu, just as I’m not a Christian.
          I don’t know if the Hindus worship men who they claim are gods.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m not a Hindu, just as I’m not a Christian.

          But you are a Sealion.

          Sealioning is the name given to a specific, pervasive form of aggressive cluelessness, that masquerades as a sincere desire to understand.

          Which is problematic, not least because….

          http://simplikation.com/why-sealioning-is-bad/

          A particularly toxic thing about sealioning is that people who are genuine newbies asking serious questions are easy to mistake for sealions.

        • Susan

          but you are a Sealion

          More like a weasel.

          A particularly toxic thing about sealioning is that people who are genuine newbies asking serious questions are easy to mistake for sealions.

          The key difference between someone asking serious questions and skl is that someone asking serious questions doesn’t endlessly weasel out of responding to the serious answers.

          skl isn’t interested in discussion.

        • Susan

          I’m not a Hindu, just as I’m not a Christian.

          Nobody cares.

          Kevin K. Is pointing out that longevity of superstitious beliefs is not special.

          Others have pointed out that people worship humans as gods so Jesus is not special.

          You seem to be implying that if you put the two shitty arguments together, then it might be a good argument.

          Why?

        • skl

          <>

          Obviously that’s not true. Some commenters here seem to care
          a great deal about what they think I am. They accuse me of being a fake or of being a Christian or even a Christian apologist.

          “Kevin K. Is pointing out that longevity of superstitious beliefs is not special. Others have pointed out that people worship humans as gods so Jesus is not special. You seem to be implying that if you put the two shitty arguments together, then it might be a good argument.
          Why?”

          Longevity is not necessarily something special, but it is something to take into consideration, say, as part of a vetting or winnowing procedure. For example, you have many people who
          were considered by some to be divine, such as those already listed – David Koresh, Julius Caesar, Prince Philip, John Frumm, Mary mother of Jesus, Jim Jones, Alexander the Great, Sun
          Myung Moon, Sathya Sai Baba, L.L. Zamenhof, Simon Magus.

          If they didn’t have a big following at the time of their death, and especially for many years after their death, that’s added support for their “divinity” being a sham. If Sun Myung Moon still
          has worshippers today but David Koresh doesn’t, that doesn’t mean necessarily that Moon was divine and Koresh wasn’t. Just that the case for Moon’s “divinity” has a little more support. (For the record, I don’t think any of them were divine.)

        • RWO

          The fact that there is evidence that both Moon and Koresh were worshipped by followers is not in any way evidence of the divinity of either Moon or Koresh.

          Neither the number of worshippers, nor the length of time those individuals maintained their worship practice, is in any way any sort of evidence for or against the divinity of either Moon or Koresh.

          The only thing the evidence of worshippers of Moon and Koresh establishes is that there were, and for all I know still are, people who chose to believe in some sort of divinity claims re the two which inspired worship. That’s it, nada, case closed.

          A leap from evidence of belief-motivated followers = evidence of, or support for, any divinity claim, is illogical.

        • skl

          “The fact that there is evidence that both Moon and Koresh were worshipped by followers is not in any way evidence of the divinity of either Moon or Koresh.”

          But if Moon and Koresh were divine, they would
          have worshippers. If divine, then worshippers; but if worshippers, not
          necessarily divine.

          “Neither the number of worshippers, nor the length of time those individuals maintained their worship practice, is in any way any sort of evidence for or against the divinity of either Moon or Koresh.”

          I disagree. I think it’s like the first case above. If divine, then lasting
          impact; but if lasting impact, not necessarily divine.

        • RWO

          If such a thing as a divine entity could exist, does it follow that humans would be aware of this, and if so would worship said entity? I would enjoy watching the performance on the witness stand, under oath and penalty of perjury, of anyone under cross examination after asserting this completely unprovable claim.

          Of course it is true, and trivially so, that if a divine entity has a following of worshippers it is divine. It is divine, as I noted above, if it exists and is not worshipped, as well. The status of divinity is totally independent of any act of worship.

          The act of worship has, obviously, is only about worship itself, and has absolutely nothing to do with either establishing or proving divinity, as you claimed four or so hours earlier in a post.

          According to the “reasoning” you are using to justify your claim, the only way to disprove an assertion of divinity is if there are no followers. If followers of some claimed divinity exist, your evidence criteria set includes at least one potentially positive divine attribute: the ability to attract followers.

          There are billions of people on the planet who worship a number of entities, about a dozen of which have been listed in other replies to you over the past two days. This worship is “lasting”, because it began and has not ended. So (according to what seems like possibly solid evidence, as far as ski figures it), there exists here in Aug 2017 any number of could-be divine entities. None of the claimed supernatural attributes of any of these entities is falsifiable, of course, but in ski-brain none of them can be solidly ruled out of contention until they have no ‘followers’.

          It is an insult to reasoning to call your thought process here reason. I hope to hell you are not a teacher.

        • skl

          “It is an insult to reasoning to call your thought process here reason. I
          hope to hell you are not a teacher.”

          I hope to hell you’re not a student.
          At least not a student in an introductory logic class.
          Because you’d fail. You apparently are unable to
          grasp the simple logical truth that ‘If it is true that If A, then B, it does not follow that If B, then A.’

        • Joe

          If they didn’t have a big following at the time of their death, and especially for many years after their death, that’s added support for their “divinity” being a sham.

          So, that would make Jesus a sham?

        • Susan

          They accuse me of being a fake or of being a Christian or even a Christian apologist.

          No.. They mistake you for a christian apologist because you advance the same fallacious arguments, weasel your way out of the problems with them and seem to be focused on special pleading for Yawhehjesus among all other god claims.

          It’s one of the strategies christians use. Part of the arsenal. It’s not a primary strategy but I’ve certainly encountered more than one christian who claims to be an atheist who spends a tremendous amount of energy arguing that the existence of Yahwehjesus is reasonable but dismisses all the other claims that are no more or less weak. .

          Some of them eventually admitted it.

          When you explain you’re not a christian, then people generally don’t pursue it. But it doesn’t mean it’s ruled out.

          What I mean is that no one really cares. They only care about how bad your arguments are and the strategies you use to dodge the problems with your arguments. .

          Longevity is not necessarily something special, but it is something to take into consideration, say, as part of a vetting or winnowing procedure

          But it’s been pointed out that longeviity is mundane. And that christianity isn’t exactly a model of longevity compared to other beliefs that you don’t defend. Gods live and die and it’s cultures that keep them alive. Not through evidence.

          Also that people believing other humans are gods is mundane.

          You seem to think that Yahwjesus through some magical combination of two mundane arguments has a better case for divinity.

          You’ve shown no logical connection between either claim and divinity.

          But seem to be suggesting that a mediocre score on both claims makes an argument for divinity more solid.

          It’s bullshit.

          (For the record, I don’t think any of them were divine)

          Why not?

        • skl

          TL;DR.

          More crucially, our “dialog” had already come to an end anyway.
          See earlier “disingenuous asshole” post nearby.

        • Susan

          TL,DR

          I addressed half of your post, whish wasn’t short and did everything to avoid my very simple question, wisch was:

          You seem to be implying that if you put the two shitty arguments together, then it might be a good argument.

          Why?

          See earlier “disingenuous asshole” post nearby.

          And how many genuine attempts at discussion did I (and others) make before I called you that?

          No loss to the discussion. You’re no less evasive.

          You were just as evasive for a very long time without me calling you that.

          If that’s your new excuse, help yourself.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why are you moving the goal posts, ya weasel?

          Nowhere did you mention anything about being devine.

          It’s not every day you find people worshipping other people.

          A statement of such fuckwittery that it has been soundly refuted by numerous others.

          Being divine has fuck all to do with being worshiped.

          Don’t you ever get fed up with being shown up as being a dopey clown?

        • Greg G.

          Longevity is not necessarily something special, but it is something to take into consideration, say, as part of a vetting or winnowing procedure.

          Is being wrong for 2000 years better than being wrong for 200 years?

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          You might also consider the gods’ “staying power.”

          Yes, for a minute you could consider that, then look at the supporting evidence. If it lacks that, it is just another false religion. If it has no way to distinguish itself from imagination, it is probably imaginary, just like every other religion.

          John 17:20-23 (NRSV)20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

          Jesus prayed that all Christians would have unity in their faith. They would all agree. Their agreement would be so impressive that the rest of the world would notice and heed. Since we don’t see that and we can see from the earliest texts that they didn’t have unity before that was committed to parchment, we know there is something wrong with Christianity.

          But even if that happened, it would not prove Christianity was true as it would be equally good evidence that humans were gullible.

          Most humans believe in one or more gods but their beliefs are contradictory so they cannot all be correct. So we know that most humans are wrong in their beliefs about deities. But people also have tendencies to believe in things that are impossible to distinguish from imagined things. If humans have a tendency to hold wrong beliefs about deities and things indistinguishable from the imaginary, we should guard against that tendency by having a higher standard of evidence for such things. When I say “a higher standard of evidence”, that does not mean “a high standard of evidence”. Just being able to see something and distinguish it from an optical illusion would be much, much better.

        • skl

          In sum, as you said, “it is probably imaginary.”

        • Greg G.

          Two plus two is probably four because we probably live in a real universe and are not brains in a vat that are designed to incorrectly think that two plus two is four.

          We have no justifiable reason to think we are brains in a vat other than we cannot be sure. Likewise we could be a dream of Vishnu or plugged into the Matrix. To think there is some deity that plays hide & seek with us for ineffable reasons is no different than a brain in a vat scenario.

          We are presented with a reality in a complex universe with imperfect senses. We are capable of imagining lots of things that we can’t distinguish from impossible nor purely imaginary. We cannot know everything. We cannot be sure of most things we think we know.

          Pretending that things exist, or could exist, for which there is no evidence is navel gazing. Most of us grew tired of it when we were teenagers. It seems to be your hobby.

        • skl

          “Pretending that things exist, or could exist, for which there is no
          evidence is navel gazing. Most of us grew tired of it when we were teenagers. It seems to be your hobby.”

          Pretending that no evidence exists for the truth of Christians’ claims is
          what strikes me as skeptic navel gazing.

          I’m a skeptic whose hobby is not to navel gaze.

        • Greg G.

          There are lots of things we don’t know about. Is there a god wanting us to commune with it but doesn’t make itself known? We don’t know. We can’t know unless it makes itself known to us in a way we can distinguish from imagination. The next thought after that is navel gazing.

          The evidence for Christianity is weak on its face. There is no first hand information and no information from the time it is supposed to have happened. We have some writings that are from just a few years after the gospels suggest it happened so it cannot be just that everything decayed in just those two decades or so and disappeared to the second century Christians. The extra-biblical accounts attest to the existence of people who were born too late to know anything about what went on in Jerusalem 80 years earlier. The gospels do not agree with the epistles. The epistles don’t say anything about an itinerant preacher/teacher wandering around Galilee. Everything the epistles tell us is from the Old Testament. They are not about a first century Jesus.

          When you see how it was put together from sources that were available, it becomes weaker evidence. It is like studying the origins of Santa Claus and holding out the possibility that he actually exists. Just because he doesn’t bring gifts to your house doesn’t mean he doesn’t bring presents to my house because I am good.

          Archaeology shows that most of the Old Testament is made up fiction based on the art and writings of the Babylonians, the Akkadians, and the Egyptians. The Hebrews just had a different religion than the other Canaanites. They were never in Egypt in large numbers, there was no Exodus, and they did not conquer the Canaanites. David was not a powerful and rich as the stories say.

          The New Testament is based on the stories of the Old Testament promises of the throne being returned to the line of David. So the early Christians, Paul and the Circumcision Squad, thought the Suffering Servant had lived long ago but they expected him to return as the Messiah. Paul clearly expected it within his lifetime and sooner than later.

          They were wrong, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Romans won. Somebody made up a story based on the Epistle Jesus and put him in the area in the first century but a generation earlier. The fictional Jesus of the Old Testament was replaced by a more recent fictional Jesus.

          Read Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond to learn how geography benefited cultures, enabling some cultures to flourish. It’s not about religion but it shows how culture spreads.

        • adam
        • Michael Neville

          Pretending that no evidence exists for the truth of Christians’ claims is what strikes me as skeptic navel gazing.

          There are some claims which are trivially true, like Pilate was Prefect of Judea and Paul’s relaxing of Jewish laws about food and circumcision helped spread Christianity among the gentiles. But the major claims, like the resurrection and the divinity of Jesus (which was contentious until the Council of Nicaea in 325), lack evidence.

        • skl

          Why do you say it is true that Paul relaxed Jewish laws
          about food and circumcision?

        • Michael Neville

          Because he did.

          “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace.” Eph 2:14-15 (NIV)

          “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile” Rom 3:22 (NIV)

          “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.” 1 Cor 9:19-21 (NIV)

        • skl

          I don’t understand. If you believe the claim is true
          that Paul relaxed Jewish laws about food and circumcision because he wrote that he did, why don’t you believe the claims are true about other things Paul wrote, like about the resurrection?

        • Michael Neville

          Is it probable that Paul would relax laws that non-Jews would consider unnecessary and burdensome, especially one involving a surgical operation done without anesthetic on a sensitive part of the body? Considering that Paul was trying to recruit gentiles into his new religion that seems quite probable.

          Is the resurrection probable? Never happened before, never happened since, all experience and knowledge indicate it never happened, therefore it’s a vanishingly low probability effect. Furthermore Paul was not a witness and admits he wasn’t one.

          I go with the probabilities as to what is true and what isn’t. Paul relaxing onerous laws to get new converts to his new religion is probable. A one-time miraculous event is not probable.

        • skl

          I guess it just seems inconsistent to me why you rely on
          Paul’s writings at all. You believe things he writes about tactics to
          facilitate the spread of his newfound religion, but you disregard what he writes about the religion he wanted to spread.

          As far as the probabilities, as I’ve said before, Christianity
          is based entirely on the most improbable things (e.g. walking on water,
          resurrection). I think they would readily admit that. I think Paul would have, too.

        • adam

          “I guess it just seems inconsistent to me why you rely on Paul’s writings at all. ”

          It is certainly understandable why christians rely on Paul’s writings (especially over that of Jesus) and that is because with Paul, sitting in Heaven with Jesus is an easy thing, virtually all you have to do is ‘believe’

          Jesus, being the contrarian that his character is, states quite the opposite.

          Jesus on the other hand says ‘few’ will find heaven….

          Matthew 7:14
          Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

          THAT is why there are so many Paulians and so few Christians….

        • Greg G.

          Even the gospels relied on Paul’s writings. The Epistle of James seems to be a response to Paul. Christians rely on the New Testament and the most of the New Testament is from Paul or derived from Paul.

        • Michael Neville

          I guess it just seems inconsistent to me why you rely on Paul’s writings at all.

          Because if I’m making a point about something the man said then quoting him shows that I have some reason to make the claim that I did.

          You believe things he writes about tactics to facilitate the spread of his newfound religion, but you disregard what he writes about the religion he wanted to spread.

          Perhaps you missed my argument about which of Paul’s statements are probable and which aren’t. Or perhaps you’re too stupid to understand my argument. Or perhaps you’re sealioning me. I’m tending towards the last possibility but haven’t ruled out the second one.

        • skl

          “Perhaps you missed my argument about which of Paul’s statements are probable and which aren’t.”

          No, I did not. In fact I addressed the probabilities issue in my last response to you.

          “Or perhaps you’re too stupid to understand my argument.”

          No, I just thought your argument was, to use your word, stupid.

          We won’t be dialoging any further.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “As far as the probabilities, as I’ve said before, Christianity is based entirely on the most improbable things”
          is not addressing the difference between supernatural claims and tactical praxis. at all. not one bit.
          if you’re suggesting that because his supernatural claims are improbable that therefore we should regard everything he writes as false, then you’re just being silly. do the false aspects of the New Testament raise doubts in your mind as to the existence and location of Jerusalem 2000 years ago?
          we can even observe that all of his minutiae about How To Worship Jesus Properly is fallacious (in the very broad sense of worship being irrational) and still be able to comprehend the likelihood that he took all this shit seriously, as did most or all of the people he was writing to, as have countless people who picked up on the epistles later. IOW, that he was influential. IOW, regardless of how bad the reasons for believing any of his religious claims, worth examining, addressing, refuting, etc. you do know the difference between taking a ridiculous thing seriously [for the sake of argument, for the sake of discussion, for the sake of thought-experiment] and actually believing that ridiculous thing to be true … right?

        • Ignorant Amos

          you do know the difference between taking a ridiculous thing seriously [for the sake of argument, for the sake of discussion, for the sake of thought-experiment] and actually believing that ridiculous thing to be true … right?

          Or playing Devil’s Advocate.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Given the comment below…am going with too stupid.

        • TheNuszAbides

          do you seriously think it’s strange or inconsistent to distinguish between the merits of supernatural claims [which quite obviously continue to be unfalsifiable] and explicit, entirely mundane, practical pedagogy [which quite obviously continues to be practiced/preached by numerous sects]?

          that, and your apparent conflation of ridicule/disbelieve [i.e. what’s actually being done w/r/t Paul’s supernatural claims] and “disregard”, are idiotic ways to pretend skepticism. hence the continued suspicion that your efforts here are substantially clueless and/or consciously disingenuous.

          rely on Paul’s writings”? what does reliance have to do with it? you are addressing atheists who reject Xian claims in part due to what Paul As We Know His Writings utterly failed to do, e.g. provide a rationally compelling basis for following his religious brand.

          there’s no need to “rely” on such writings for anything that isn’t corroborated by observing reality – e.g. there are people who follow Paul’s teachings – gosh, I wonder whether that’s because he wrote them down?

          whether we believe his vision tale and yammering about The Holy Spirit is entirely justifiably separate from whether we see a correspondence between his writing “let’s do this” and us clearly observing “look, a bunch of people do this”. try paying attention, it’ll do wonders for your skepticism. (not literally.)

        • Greg G.

          The Jerusalem Christians adopted the laws of the Jews because they were Jews. Those laws were just rules made up by men. Paul realized that unless one was raised to think it was normal to have those restrictions it would seem abnormal so he abandoned them. Paul kept the appealing parts of the religion and eliminated the less popular parts. He was marketing a made up religion that he sincerely believed. He thought faith was most important and the Messiah was coming any minute so things like marriage was unimportant except to have sex without fornicating, if you couldn’t resist.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and shockingly, once again, skl fails to acknowledge that [something about what we are doing] which it claimed to not understand has been excruciatingly explained.

          chances of further apparently-pointless questioning just went up another notch.

        • Joe

          Because one claim is related to regular things like surgery and eating food, the other is about claims of somebody coming back to life.

          If I claimed I had gone on a diet, people might believe me. If I claimed I could fly, people would not.

        • Greg G.

          But the epistles show they were worshiping an imaginary first century man created from the Suffering Servant metaphor, not an actual man.

        • skl

          If you choose to believe the Christians’ son of god never existed, that’s up to you.

        • Greg G.

          I thought Jesus existed until I looked hard at the evidence. I thought Bart Ehrman would provide a way to put the evidence together to show that Jesus really existed but he relied on imaginary evidence like the sources of Matthew and Luke, M, L, and Q.

        • skl

          If the evidence was as hard as you say, I doubt Christianity
          would still exist. You’ll believe what you choose to believe.

        • Joe

          If the evidence was as hard as you say, I doubt Christianity
          would still exist.

          Then why do other religions exist alongside Christianity?

        • Greg G.

          I was a Christian. I chose to remain a Christian but it didn’t work out that way because I had to follow the evidence. But that was long before I even looked at the evidence for Jesus’ existence versus the evidence that he was invented.

        • Susan

          If the evidence was as hard as you say, I doubt Christianity would still exist.

          When has any superstitious belief required evidence for its longevity?

        • skl

          True. Although deification of David Koresh and Julius Caesar
          seems to have died off.

        • Susan

          True. Although deification of David Koresh and Julius Caesar
          seems to have died off.

          A point you keep repeating that seems to have zero relevance.

          Can you explain why it’s relevant?

          If you can’t, could you stop repeating it?

        • skl

          I could use Jim Jones and Alexander the Great if you prefer.

        • Susan

          I could use Jim Jones and Alexander the Great if you prefer.

          It would be just as irrelevant.

          If you can’t show the relevance, then stop it.

        • skl

          Or L.L. Zamenhof and Simon Magus.

        • Joe

          Or Xenu and Allah.

          Oh wait, they’re growing. They must really exist then. Which one are you converting to?

        • Susan

          or L.L. Zamenhol and Simon Magic.

          It’s like you’re going out of your way to be a disingenuous asshole. It’s a pattern of yours that’s gone on since you got here.

          How many times now have I asked you to show how it’s relevant and you just pretend it didn’t happen?

          That sort of thing stands out.

        • skl

          “… disingenuous asshole
          … How many times now have I asked you to show how it’s relevant and you just pretend it didn’t happen?”

          Its relevance is explained elsewhere in the thread. Feel free to search.
          In any case, our “dialog” is now ended.

        • Susan

          Its relevance is explained elsewhere in the thread.

          No. It isn’t.

          In any case, our “dialog” is now ended

          You’ve done this before, skl. You dodge and duck and weasel and people make genuine attempts to dialogue with you.

          That is not dialogue.

          I don’t care if you never speak to me again.

          It’s not about you. It’s about honest discussion.

          That you don’t care to have one doesn’t have to be anyone else’s problem. .

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which would be just the same non sequitur in different garb…so pah!

        • Greg G.

          Their cultures died off and their religion with it. A religion must be passed on as culture to be sustained.

        • Jim Jones

          So all of the other gods exist as well? The gods of every religion? Must be a busy place in the hereafter.

        • Michael Neville

          Most Christians believe that Satan exists on even scantier evidence than Jesus’s existence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If the evidence was as hard as you say, I doubt Christianity would still exist.

          More asinine fuckwittery. Very few Christians came to their belief through any other method than childhood indoctrination. Very few Christians have read the scriptures of their Faith and even less have investigated the nefarious origins of those scriptures. Most Christians today are Cafeteria Christians and all Christians today would have been fucked in the face of the inquisition as heretics.

          Christianity has changed with the times. Once, it was totalitarian and not toeing the line was detrimental to ones health. Not so much today, hence the Faith haemorrhaging members like snow off a ditch in the western first world where folk are getting educated.

          You’ll believe what you choose to believe.

          Even more asinine fuckwittery.

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ethics-everyone/201109/choosing-believe

          Google is your friend. Try and learn how to use it.

        • skl

          Later, lava.

        • Greg G.

          Faith-based religions are not evidence-centric. Faith is more important and evidence is not. Faith, in spite of the evidence, is the ultimate faith. They don’t look outside the Bible and the traditions.

        • skl

          “Faith-based religions are not evidence-centric. Faith is
          more important and evidence is not. Faith, in spite of the evidence, is the ultimate faith. They don’t look outside the Bible and the traditions.”

          I think you’re right. My first sentence was wrong.

        • adam
        • TheNuszAbides

          and you don’t see the contradiction between the first sentence and a generalization of the second, do you? if you do, you must be consciously wasting time and effort. if not, please strive to pay better attention.

        • Jim Jones

          No, that’s up to the facts. Feel free to find any facts supporting a real ‘Jesus’.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Did I not read somewhere you claim to be a skeptic?

          A skeptic, my arse.

          You are here Sealioning and making a silly prick of yerself in the process.

        • skl

          Goodbye, volcano.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Listen dimwit, I’m not commenting here for your benefit. You appear to be too far gone and not really interested in anything other than trolling.

          My comments are for the benefit of other forum members and those lurking.

          So pah!

        • Pofarmer

          Sathya Sai baba? Various Yogi’s? It happens literally all the time.

        • Jim Jones

          Seriously, dude? Have you heard of Donald Trump?

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s not every day you find people worshipping other people.

          Except that it really is….and here’s just a couple of examples.

          The Prince Philip Movement is a religious sect followed by the Kastom people around Yaohnanen village on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu. It is a cargo cult of the Yaohnanen tribe, who believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a divine being.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Philip_Movement

          John Frumm is another cargo cult figure that is worshipped.

          Others contend that John Frum was a kava-induced spirit vision. Said to be a manifestation of Keraperamun, this John Frum promised the dawn of a new age in which all white people, including missionaries, would depart the New Hebrides, leaving behind their goods and property for the native Melanesians. For this to happen, however, the people of Tanna had to reject all aspects of European society including money, Western education, Christianity, and work on copra plantations, plus they had to return to traditional kastom (the Bislama language word for customs).

          Chief Isaak Wan Nikiau, its leader, was quoted by the BBC from years past as saying that John Frum was “our God, our Jesus,” and would eventually return.

          Sound remotely familiar?

          So yes, it really is everyday you find people worshipping other people.

          Even within Christianity. Never heard of Mary Worship?

          http://biblelight.net/worship_of_the_virgin_mary.htm

          Father Reginald Foster, who was a senior Vatican priest, verifies that in a survey taken on Italian Catholics, in times of need, they put Jesus sixth on the list of those to pray to. The five ahead of Jesus must be other people.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTV-VgrbnZU

        • skl

          I didn’t know that some people considered Prince Philip and
          John Frumm to be gods or that Christians worshipped Mary. Someday Philipism, Frummism and Maryism could be big time religions.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I didn’t know…

          Yes, it seem’s you have a lot of that going on. Don’t you think that it behooves you to do a wee bit of research on the various topics you don’t know about, before making a ridiculous assertions.

        • Bob Jase

          Well then you are ignorant aren’t you?

          No surprise.

        • Joe

          They are religions. No ‘some day’ about it.

        • Bob Jase

          And as the survey was of Italians I’m pretty sure Joe Pesci must have been number 1 because he gets shit done.

        • Ignorant Amos

          According to George Carlin at least….so there’s good authority anyway.

        • Kevin K

          Except that’s a lie. You do find people worshiping someone, a man, every day. Sun Myung Moon, for example. Founder of the Unification Church, declared himself to be the new messiah, and people worshiped him. Still do.

          Same with Sathya Sai Baba, who is not only worshiped, but is a miracle worker.

          People worshiping other people is as common as grass.

        • skl

          We have a different understanding of the use of the “every day” phrase. Nevertheless, people can evaluate the reasoning of why some
          people worship Sun Myung Moon or Sathya Sai Baba and decide for themselves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We have a different understanding of the use of the “every day” phrase.

          Ah…yes, the auld, “say something silly and then move the goal posts to try and redefine the meaning” routine. Common among the Christian woo woo.

          Nevertheless, people can evaluate the reasoning of why some people worship Sun Myung Moon or Sathya Sai Baba and decide for themselves.

          As opposed to what? Your mask is slipping.

        • Susan
        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha …yes indeedy.

        • Otto

          Everyday…as in literally every…day….

        • skl

          If you think that every day a new person is deified by a bunch of worshippers then you and I also have a different understanding of the “every day” phrase.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t think “every day” is what you are confused about. Nobody said you find a “new person is deified”. You can find the people of North Korea worshiping a person, Kim Jong Un, every day.

        • Otto

          Ah…moved the goalposts again I see…before it was…

          “It’s not every day you find people worshipping other people.”

          now it is….

          “If you think that every day a new person is deified…”

          What I was refuting is your first premise that it’s not every day we find people worshipping other people…when it literally IS everyday people are worshipping other people that they have deified.

        • skl

          I must say, you don’t see an Otto every day.

        • Kevin K

          EVERY DAY means “every day”. As in “all the time”. As in “people believe there are god-men walking the Earth this very day”.

          The reason people do this is the exact same reason people worship mythical dead Jews.

        • Bob Jase

          Seen North Korea lately? 3rd generation of worshipping the Kim family.

        • MNb

          Still Elvis/Lennon-McCartney/Clapton etc. etc. is God.
          Or Pele/Cruijff/Maradona/Messi.
          Or Chamberlain/Abdul Jabbar/Johnson/Jordan.
          Etc. etc.

        • adam
        • GubbaBumpkin

          I don’t think Mormons worship Joseph Smith.

          Christians do not worship Josephus, so your attempt at an analogy is completely broken.

        • skl

          I think you mean Otto’s analogy is broken.

        • Otto

          You haven’t explained how it is broken in any sensible way.

        • skl

          You tried to analogize historians saying Christians worshipped
          Jesus with what historians say about Mormons and Joseph Smith. It’s broken because Mormons don’t worship Joseph Smith as god.

        • Otto

          And as I already said, historians reporting on what people believe gives absolutely no weight whatsoever to the belief being true. You are arguing that the fact that a historian reported about a belief ‘that a person was God’ somehow changes that…and I have no idea why that would be the case.

        • Jim Jones

          And Christians don’t worship Josephus, nor Tacitus, nor Pliny the Younger who are the main ‘support’ for the claim that Jesus is not fully mythical.

    • Greg G.

      The Testimonium Flavianum, as it is called, comes from Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3. Most scholars admit there was tampering but they tend to think the underlying story is authentic but there is Christian gloss added to it. The Coincidences of the Emmaus Narrative of Luke and the Testimonium of Josephus and New Testament Parallels to the Works of Josephus by Gary J. Goldberg, Ph.D. show that when the gloss is removed, the remaining text is a rewording of the Emmaus Road pericope of Luke 24:19-27, so it looks like it is Christian gloss all the way through. Goldberg considers three possibilities:

      1. Chance, which he rejects for the frequency and density of coincidences.
      2. That the TF was copied from Luke by a forger, which he rejects because he doubts anyone from back then could have imitated Josephus so well.
      3. Both passages come from a common source, which he accepts.

      But the Emmaus Road pericope is a recap of the Gospel of Luke so there is no reason to suspect the passage came from anywhere else.

      No writer known to us ever mentioned the TF until Eusebius in the early fourth century. Origen wrote on the “James, the brother of the so-called Christ” passage and the passage on John the Baptist, even mentioning them together in a way that one would expect him to include the TF if he had known of it, and he could not have been ignorant of it since it appears a few sentences before the John the Baptist passage. Eusebius even had access to Origen’s original writings and library.

      But then we have The Testimonium Flavianum, Eusebius, and Consensus by Ken Olson which shows that many of the phrases in the TF were used by Eusebius in his own writings, often in the same way as they are used in the TF, both in the parts thought to be interpolated and the parts thought to be original material.

      So we can remove Goldberg’s objection to his second scenario because we have proved that the prime suspect as the interpolater had the capability of using the phrases that are considered Josephan, but also the phrases that are not thought to be from Josephus.

      So the evidence shows that the whole Testimonium Flavianum is forged and Josephus didn’t write about that Jesus.

      • skl

        If all that’s so, Bob may have to change what he said in his OP above.

        In any case, I’m not particularly interested in Josephus. I
        also doubt most of the Christians today are even aware of Josephus and what he did or didn’t write. I doubt if they care.

        • Greg G.

          If a Christian knows anything about Josephus, it is the Testimonium Flavianum and “James, the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ”.

        • Tommy

          If you’ve read the gospels and Acts, then you’ve read Josephus ;-).

    • eric

      Unless Josephus thought people were prone to worship people who did not exhibit supernatural powers.

      Yeah. It’s not like Josephus was a Jewish scholar living under the heel of an Empire that required people worship their Emperor as a God.

      [facepalm]

      • skl

        As I said to Otto a few minutes ago,
        If people worship other people as god, you can accept their
        worship as a fact. Then you could investigate the reason(s)
        for their choosing to worship someone as god. Do their reasons make sense, are they supported by any evidence.
        You might also consider the gods’ “staying power.” For
        example, whether Julius Caesar is still deified today.
        Regardless, many years after the death of a “man-god”,
        some will continue to believe, some will stop believing,
        some will never have believed.

    • Joe

      Josephus thought
      people were prone to worship people who did not
      exhibit supernatural powers.

      I would imagine he did think that, otherwise all religions would be true to him.

      Also, I’m rather startled by how you are so ready to dismiss
      something based on “maybe”s. One “maybe” after another:

      Many “maybe”s.
      However, maybe you’re wrong.

      Maybe we are wrong. How will we know?

    • Jim Jones

      > I’m not sure I understand why this would not be at least evidence, if not compelling evidence.

      Because King Arthur, Robin Hood, William Tell, Ned Ludd and John Frum.

      • Bob Jase

        Sherlock Holmes, Sweeney Todd, Tom Navy and about a thousand soap opera characters.

  • Greg G.

    Well, I was, uh, sitting in the public library on Thurmon Street just now, skimming through ‘Rogue Herrys’ by Hugh Walpole, and I suddenly decided to look for some of the New Testament names in Josephus’ Jewish War. I was amazed by how many disciples’ names are the names of the fathers of many of the combatants in the Jewish War. Did Mark lift the names from Josephus or were the sons of the disciples some of the instigators who took the war to the Romans?

    Jairus, Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41
    Jewish War 1.17.9 §345-346
    Eleazar, the son of Jairus
    Jewish War 2.17.9 §441-448
    Eleazar, the son of Jairus
    Jewish War 6.1.8 §81-92
    and of the zealots, two brethren, Simon and Judas, the sons of Jairus.
    Jewish War 6.2.6 §136-148
    and of the zealots, Simon the son of Jairus.
    Jewish War 7.6.5 §210-215
    Judas, the son of Jairus, their general,

    Levi, Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27
    Jewish War 1.2.1 §48-49
    It was John, the son of a certain man whose name was Levi
    Jewish War 2.20.6 §572-576
    John the son of Levi himself
    Jewish War 5.20.6
    John (of Gischala) the son of Levi

    Simon, Mark 1:16; Matthew 4:18; Luke 4:38; John 1:40
    Jewish War 5.1.2 §5-10
    For Eleazar, the son of Simon
    Jewish War 5.20.4
    Joseph the son of Simon

    Judas, Mark 3:19; Mark 6:3; Matthew 10:4; Matthew 13:55; Luke 6:16; John 6:71
    Jewish War 5.13.2 §534-540
    Now when Judas, the son of Judas, who was one of Simon‘s under officers

    Philip, Mark 3:18; Matthew 10:3; Luke 6:14; John 1:43
    Jewish War 4.1.10 §70-83
    nor did any one escape except two women, who were the daughters of Philip,

    Matthias, Acts 1:23
    Jewish War 6.2.2 §111-117
    who was beheaded in Cyrene, and four sons of Matthias, as also one son of the other Matthias, who ran away after his father’s death,

    Dorcas, Acts 9:36
    Jewish War 4.3.5 §143-146
    it was therefore resolved to have them slain accordingly, they sent one John, who was the most bloody-minded of them all, to do that execution: this man was also called “the son of Dorcas,” in the language of our country.

    Acts 9:36 (NIV)
    In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.

    Josephus seems to be saying that “Dorcas” is the Aramaic name while Luke says it is Greek. It is interesting that both comment on the language of the name, which is another clue that Luke used Josephus.

    Nicodemus, John 3:1
    Jewish War 5.13.2 §534-540
    Gorion, the son of Nicodemus

    Mary, Mark 6:3
    Jewish War 6.3.4 §201-213
    her name was Mary; her father was Eleazar

    If Mark named Jesus’ mother from this entry of Jewish War, his mother is named for a woman who eventually ate her son because food was scarce during the seige of Jerusalem. But that might have been an urban legend created from Lamentations 4:10.

  • Neo

    Faulty human memory is a good explanation for the incongruities in the story, not really for the denial of the story.

    • Otto

      Human’s propensity to convince themselves something is true based on spurious evidence is.

      • http://members.iinet.net.au/~vortexau.jk/ vortexau

        Consider . . . a Holy Gourd or a Holy S̶a̶n̶d̶a̶l̶ Shoe . . .

        https://youtu.be/Ka9mfZbTFbk

      • Neo

        Not always…

        • Otto

          More than enough…

        • Joe

          But sometimes.

    • Joe

      How do you know faulty human memory doesn’t apply to other parts of the story?

    • Philmonomer

      Here’s why I doubt the story of the resurrection:

      I suspect Christ, and his followers, were courting martyrdom and persecution before Jesus was killed. Indeed, we see this in the Gospels (and Acts) as to how they were perceived/received by many at the time. The disciples believed the Kingdom of God was at hand, and that people needed to prepare for the coming world order. Given that they were willing to court persecution before, should we be surprised they were willing to court it after he was killed?

      Once Jesus died, people in the movement then came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead–this was the first fruits of the coming Kingdom. Some may have seen hallucinations, some may have been willing to believe. Some may have heard stories told and retold, embellished like Urban Legends. A friend of a friend heard it, or saw it, or knew of it. Things like that. People come to believe crazy stuff all the time.

      Which do you think is more likely, committed followers of Christ came, in his death, to see that it was all a sham, or committed followers of Christ came, in this death, to see the fulfillment of all that he said? Which is more likely a thing for committed followers to do? (What have other followers of other religious leaders done?)

      The top contender is that they were willing believers, where either some had hallucinations (sightings), and/or others came to believe in the (erroneous) stories of others’ hallucinations (sightings). [Remember, indeed, the very first sighting of him! No one even recognized him! How completely bizarre. Why would Jesus hide himself like that? It makes no sense.]

      Finally, there have been thousands of Catholics who have seen Mary (including mass sightings of her). I suspect you don’t believe in those. Surely something similar happened with Jesus.

      • Teto85

        I saw Mary last week. She owns the dispensary where I buy my medicine. And Jesus? Jesus Romero is the best sandwich maker in town and Jesus Martinez is the best gardener I have ever known.

      • Neo

        “I suspect Christ, and his followers, were courting martyrdom and persecution before Jesus was killed. Indeed, we see this in the Gospels (and Acts) as to how they were perceived/received by many at the time.”

        I’m not so sure I share your suspicion, all the facts seem to support the fact that they were simple fisherman.

        • Greg G.

          all the facts seem to support the fact that they were simple fisherman.

          No, that’s just what the fictional gospels say. The epistles suggest that the leaders were quite literate.

        • Neo

          “The epistles suggest that the leaders were quite literate.”

          Interesting. Just wondering if the epistles of which you speak are the ones Bob S.refers to above – “To give one uncontroversial example, half of the “Pauline” epistles—those that claim to have been written by Paul—were not.”

          Also, don’t we need more than just being “quite literate” here, at least to stay on the topic of successfully supporting Philmonomer’s suspicions? I mean,isn’t he presupposing not only literacy, but political ambition – so a literate fisherman, still doesn’t quite fill the bill there….

        • Joe

          Pauline” epistles—those that claim to have been written by Paul—were not.”

          Why does authorship matter in this case? You can’t have it both ways.

          o a literate fisherman, still doesn’t quite fill the bill there….

          You’re the one starting with the presupposition that they were fishermen.

        • Greg G.

          Interesting. Just wondering if the epistles of which you speak are the ones Bob S.refers to above – “To give one uncontroversial example, half of the “Pauline” epistles—those that claim to have been written by Paul—were not.”

          No, just from the epistles that are most agreed to be authentic. Paul says in Galatians that he did not get his information from human authority but from revelation just before mentioning that he spent time with Cephas and met James, so he specifically did not get his information from them. In Romans 16:25-26, he tells us he got the revelation from the prophetic writings. We can verify that by checking everything Paul says about Jesus and seeing that all of the information can be found in the Old Testament. In those seven most authentic epistles, Paul uses “Lord Jesus Christ”, “Jesus Christ”, “Christ Jesus”, “Jesus”, “Christ”, or “Messiah” once for every five verses. That doesn’t include “Lord” or pronouns. Paul liked to talk about Jesus but all he knew about Jesus, past, present, and future, came from the Old Testament.

          But in 2 Corinthians 11:4-6 and 12:11, Paul insists that his knowledge is not inferior to the knowledge of the “super-apostles”. If he knew that they had been taught by Jesus, that would be a ridiculous claim. So he must have known that they got their information the same way he did – by reading the Old Testament.

          BTW, it is not just the authentic Pauline epistles that get their information from the Old Testament. All of the epistles refer to Jesus in terms of the Old Testament. 1 Timothy appears to have got some information from Luke and 2 Peter got some stuff from Matthew, but none of them provide independent information about Jesus.

          Paul mentions Peter (as Cephas), James, and John in Galatians 2:9, three verse after saying their position was irrelevant to him, after saying he didn’t receive any information from them, and before insulting them with high sarcasm in Galatians 5:11-12 by suggesting the circumcision faction emasculate themselves.

          Mark made those three the primary sidekicks of Jesus and took up the disdain and sarcasm by making them fishermen, thus implying they were illiterate.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And Paul was preaching the Jesus nonsense for three years before going near Jerusalem and hooking up with the apostles. And then only two of them and for just a fortnight. Ya woulda thought that if there was friends of an actual Jesus drooging about the place, Paul woulda made a beeline to hook up with them asap in order to get the first hand lowdown on the main man he had experienced in a vision. Especially if those folk were probe to being bumped off by the authorities as the Christian yarn would have us believe.

        • Neo

          Thank you, eye opening actually..I would like to take a closer look at the epistles – please provide references, at your convenience..or the link…

        • Greg G.

          I would like to take a closer look at the epistles – please provide references, at your convenience

          I think you mean “BTW, it is not just the authentic Pauline epistles that get their information from the Old Testament.” I have gone through the other epistles to try to find claims that do not come from the OT but have never completed the task of compiling them in a list. Using the NIV on BibleGateway.com with the footnotes and cross references options selected will help locate many of the sources.

          I think I should update this list to separate “died for sins” from “was crucified”.

          Past
          Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12 > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10
          Declared Son of God > Romans 1:4 > Psalm 2:7
          Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5
          Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, Leviticus 18:5
          Was rich, became poor > 2 Corinthians 8:9 > Zechariah 9:9
          Was meek and gentle > 2 Corinthians 10:1 > Isaiah 53:7
          Did not please himself > Romans 15:3* > Psalm 69:9
          Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11
          For the Gentiles > Romans 15:9-12* > Psalm 18:49, 2 Samuel 22:50, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, Isaiah 11:10

          Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23 > Psalm 41:9
          Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)

          Was crucified for sins > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:3, 2 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:13* > Isaiah 53:12, Deuteronomy 21:23
          Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9
          Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4, 2 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 13:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present
          Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5
          Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future
          Will come > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54*, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8

          (* indicates that passage contains a direct quote from the Old Testament)

          1 Corinthians 11:23-25 appears to be part of an interpolation.

        • Neo

          Awesome…

        • Philmonomer

          Two thoughts:

          1) What facts are you referring to?

          2) Even if they were simple fisherman, they could still have been willing to court persecution (and possibly martyrdom) before Jesus was killed.

        • Neo

          “1) What facts are you referring to?”
          I’m still reading through the “epistles” links Greg G gave me – But, it appears the concensus is that four of the twelve held the occupation of fisherman. Philmonomer, you yourself write above.. “Indeed, we see this in the Gospels (and Acts) as to how they were perceived/received by many at the time.” According to the sources you cite, Peter, Andrew, James and John were all fisherman when they were called.

          “2) Even if they were simple fisherman, they could still have been willing to court persecution (and possibly martyrdom) before Jesus was killed.”

          Philmonomer, with all due respect, anything is possible.. and you did label your assertion as a “suspicion”.. but you did also say that you are basing your assertion on the following claim..
          “The disciples believed the Kingdom of God was at hand, and that people needed to prepare for the coming world order. Given that they were willing to court persecution before, should we be surprised they were willing to court it after he was killed?”
          Ok, so dealing with only the 4 who were fisherman, and the 1 who was a tax collector, I am struggling with the “suspicion” that these 5 were actively working to promote the “coming world order” in any fashion before they were called unless there is some evidence to show they had political aspirations…

        • Philmonomer

          Ok, so dealing with only the 4 who were fisherman, and the 1 who was a tax collector, I am struggling with the “suspicion” that these 5 were actively working to promote the “coming world order” in any fashion before they were called unless there is some evidence to show they had political aspirations…

          I think we have a misunderstanding. I’m not saying they were courting political aspirations before they were “called.” [whatever that means]–that is, when they were fisherman. I mean they were working to promote the coming world order after they became disciples.

        • Neo

          oh, no doubt on my part, sorry, and also, thank you, as I did actually learn a lot in the course of our discussion. Must say also, I am very much distracted by the tragic events in Houston, TX and Louisiana, puts things in perspective.

        • Philmonomer

          Definitely.

        • Philmonomer

          (repeated)

    • MNb

      Natural sciences provide a nice explanation why it didn’t happen. The same with Archimedes’ mirrors that were supposed to burn down Roman ships.

    • Kevin K

      Faulty human memory in declaring the tomb was empty, when it really wasn’t.

      Petard, meet hoist.

  • Jim Jones

    http://pocm.info/ (link) is a good place to start.

    The whole Christ legend is built out of the erector set of Greek religions.

    Why can’t ‘Jesus’ fly? See through walls? Break stone with his fists?

    Because none of those things had been invented yet so they weren’t part of the god-building kit.

    • Bob Jase

      Disguised as Jesus Christ, mild-mannered Galliean preacher, Messiah Man fights a never-ending battle …

      • Teto85

        …for Truth, Justice, and the Hellenic Way.

        • http://members.iinet.net.au/~vortexau.jk/ vortexau

          Man 1: Look! Over in the temple! It’s a madman.

          Woman: It’s a prophet!

          Man 2: It’s Super-jesus!

          Narrator: Yes, it’s Super-jesus, strange visitor from Galilee who came to Jerusalem with oratory and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Super-jesus, who can change the course of boring arguments, bend words in his wordy speeches. And who, disguised as the Nazarene, mild-mannered carpenter for a lowly Galilean furniture manufacturer, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the Judian way.

          https://wakeup.unhypnotize.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Super-Jesus.jpg

        • Teto85

          Look at the Superman mythos. Schuster and Siegel were two Jewish boys from Cleveland, yada, yada, yada. You could write a book, but several have been written and are pretty good reads.

        • http://members.iinet.net.au/~vortexau.jk/ vortexau

          There has been an awareness of the connections here going right back to 1933 and 1940:
          The Nazis weren’t huge fans of Shuster, Siegel, or their Superman.
          Larry Tye writes, “’If most of his admirers did not
          recognize Superman’s Jewish roots, the Third Reich did. A 1940 article
          in Das Schwarze Korps, the newspaper of the SS, called Jerry Siegel
          ‘Siegellack,’ the “intellectually and physically circumcised chap who
          has his headquarters in New York.’” Das Schwarze Korps goes on to insult
          the Man of Steel himself, “pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and
          underdeveloped mind.”

          [ from http://www.denofgeek.com/us/books-comics/superman/231283/mensch-of-steel-supermans-jewish-roots ]

          There is even the example of the man of steel’s Kryptonian name- Kal-El!
          In Hebrew, the “el” (אל) suffix is used to denote Elohim [pronounced as el·ō·hēm’] (אֱלֹהִים), or Yahweh, like in the names Ezekiel or Michael. Hebrew divine titles such as El Shaddai rendered as Lord God Almighty / El Elyon rendered as The Most High God / El Olam rendered as The Everlasting God.

        • Joe

          truth, justice and the Judian way

          You mean the way of Judea?

        • Michael Neville

          That’s the popular way of Judea!

        • Joe

          Splitter!

        • http://members.iinet.net.au/~vortexau.jk/ vortexau

          Or there was ‘curds and whey” in that nursery rhyme about Little Miss Muffet.

          Altetrnately, “The Kurds are one of the indigenous people of the Mesopotamian plains
          and the highlands in what are now south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern
          Syria, northern Iraq, north-western Iran and south-western Armenia.

          So these Kurds would have their way too, if other ethnic groups would not prevent them.

        • http://members.iinet.net.au/~vortexau.jk/ vortexau

          So, should the 50s Superman television series began with “ . . . fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the United States of American way” or “ . . . fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the United States of America’s way“?

          Do we order a truckload of Hares so we can have plenty for the Splitting opportunities?

        • Joe

          So, should the 50s Superman television series began with ..

          don’t ask me, i’m more of a Monty Python’s Life of Brian type of guy.

  • http://www.rejectingjesus.com Acalibre

    The central feature of the synoptic gospels is the imminence of God’s rule on Earth – the coming Kingdom. The gospel writers evidently believed this kingdom was very near; it’s possible this belief originated with Jesus himself.

    The book of Daniel was thought to prophesy that the kingdom’s arrival would be marked by the resurrection of the dead (Dan. 12:2). What better way to show the time had come than to say, ‘it’s begun; the fact our man came back from the dead is proof.’ This is Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 15.20-25.

    By the time the gospels were written, ‘visions’ and wishful thinking like his were mutating into stories of actual resurrection appearances, almost all of them retaining the hallucinatory nature (walking through walls, disappearing at will, being unrecognisable) of such ‘visions’, and the desperate need to see prophecy fulfilled. I mean, life for these guys was shit. You can’t blame them for thinking God was gonna rescue them real soon.

  • Stupid Atheist

    No differently than one explains the Elvis resurrection account[s]…

    • Teto85

      I saw Elvis last week in a non-Starbucks local coffee shop in San Francisco.

  • L AJ

    It didn’t happen because the Gospels are fictional. Simple.

  • wally_18v

    Of course it did not happen, just like the stories of jesus coming to America is a crock.
    Think back forty years and see if you can be accurate about anything. And the people back in jesus’ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aba7a9e08d008f4618b8edae5a8d7227e6a967a24fa911f2d786f00cdba259a9.jpg time did not read or write except for the rich, who wanted some way to control the peasants.

    Marx was right about religion being the opium of the masses.

  • Kahn_Tango

    Jesus didn’t actually die. He spent an unpleasant afternoon hanging around the cross and then a day-and-a-half later he’s all better. What kind of sacrifice is that?

  • https://itsmyurls.com/msowolf Aaron Frost

    I would explain it,like I would explain Tammuz,Osiris,Baal,Thor,or Mithra…..shit never happened. Tah dah….

  • Guy Fawkes

    “Mything In Action” by David Fitzgerald puts together the work of Richard Carrier and others, making a good case for the entire Jesus story being one large myth cycle. If nothing else it casts the entire “Jesus as a real, living human man” into serious doubt. “Nailed” by the same author is a shorter and more condensed version of the same evidence. Both are well worth a read.

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

      I’ve read Nailed. Quite good.

      • Greg G.

        I agree. I figured I knew most of the things Fitzgerald would have said in Nailed so I delayed buying it. I learned a lot when I finally bought a copy.

  • Questioner

    The resurrection is just another made up fictional ghost story. The bible is just mythology. What is in the bile? A talking snake, a piece of fruit confers knowledge, a talking donkey, witches, magic tricks called miracles, demons cause disease, zombies get up out of their graves and walk around Jerusalem, ghost stories, etc.

    • Bob Jase

      And all that begatting – someone was really into sex.

      • Questioner

        They only lived to be an averaged age of 26 is those days so they had to hurry up and get it done.

        • Kevin K

          Except when they lived to be 800-plus, of course. (According to the bible, that is.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Adam was 930….Noah built a big boat at the sprite age of 600 and didn’t joss it till he was 900…and Noah’s granddaddy, Methuselah, lived the longest of the lot, 969 he was before pegging out.

        • TheNuszAbides

          joss it

          my new lingo for the day!

        • Ignorant Amos

          It was a common term during my time in the military in the 80’s, but an online search only gets me this entry on Phrasefinder…

          : : : I am sure that in my youth (1970s Northern England) that “jossed it” (“jost it”?) was a received euphemism BUT I’ve just found NO hits whatsoever for either spelling — maybe it was the smog affecting my brain.

          http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/13/messages/528.html

  • MB Man

    My question would be, why would an atheist/non-theist bother?

    There was once I time when I downloaded a bible app, intending to read the bible (something I had never done, short of scratching the surface as a child. Also when I first thought it was ridiculous lol). I was in the debate circuit, and thought it would help me out.

    But then I realized . . . no. I already know its garbage, why bother filling my head with it?

    Save that space for something that is actually important to you.

    • Dannorth

      “My question would be, why would an atheist/non-theist bother?”

      Interesting question.

      In a country where millions of people believe the Bible is innerant, who want the education of every kid in the country to be based on its fables, and who want the laws of the country to reflect the morality of the Bronze Age folks who created it, it might be useful to shine the light of reason on said Bible.

      • MB Man

        I admit that I don’t live in said country. Hence why I don’t put as much importance onto it as others do.

        Either way, I figure there are enough biblical expats to do the talking for me.

        • Greg G.

          Either way, I figure there are enough biblical expats to do the talking for me.

          Other perspectives are always welcome, except for the ones I disagree with! }:>{

  • Neo

    What I liked most about the post is that it set out a definite perimeter – “My goal is to show that some natural path is possible.” and, then modestly accomplished that goal – Two assertions that were made that I believe are incontrovertible are:

    1. “The gospels were written in Greek, which means that the Jesus story was filtered through Greek culture, full of their own stories of miracles and gods.”

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

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

      I’m glad it was helpful!

  • ConcernedCitizen15

    “If Jesus died in 30 AD…” and nothing was written until 40 years later by people who had never known him, then they were clearly writing nothing but a mythological story that they had been told, or made up at the time. It doesn’t matter… no evidence that Jesus even lived, much less performed supernatural miracles.

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  • afmeincke

    Jesus never existed. The Jews created him in their old testament, their bible, as a “gift” to the Gentiles at that time period. Never forget the bibles of all three major religious cults were written by mortal men, not gods or other deities. The Jews wrote their own ticket when they claim they were the “chosen” people which is nonsense and unproven. They claimed there was only one universal god of the universe, their god, all the others were unproven. They had no proof of their god, all conjecture and fairy tales. There is no evidence of Jesus in the Roman historical books of a man who claim to do “miracles” in a three thousand mile radius of the Roman Empire.

  • Charles Winter

    Death and resurrection was not unusual for Middle Eastern and European deities. Bacchus was slain and then reborn. Odin had himself hung on a tree to gain wisdom.

    The closest parallel is the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna, who descended into the underworld for 3 days and then reemerged.

    For a close parallel to the life of Jesus, read a life of the Egyptian god Horus.

    • Greg G.

      I think the Raising of Lazarus was based on Horus raising Osiris from the Pyramid Texts that they probably had a copy of in Alexandria.

      • L AJ

        Actually, if you read the parable of “The Rich Man and Lazarus” from Luke, the author of John took that fictional Lazarus and made him a “real” character while also doing an exact reversal of the story from Luke; very interesting. And what I find amusing is that most pastors have never picked up on the fact that Lazarus only exists in the gospel of John as a pivotal character. None of the “eyewitnesses” from the other gospels noticed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead?! The same goes for doubting Thomas; nowhere to be found in any other gospel. Pure fiction.

        • Greg G.

          I think Luke was refuting John with the Rich Man and Lazarus parable. The line Abraham where says “If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead,” kills it. The rich man is Caiaphas. His father is Ananas from John 18:13. Luke used Josephus a lot, and Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1 tells that Ananus had five sons who became high priest after him, and that does not include Caiaphas. So when the rich man wants Lazarus to go to his father’s house to warn his five brothers, it is supposed to be the other high priests.

          Since Matthew and Luke have evidence of using Antiquities of the Jews, they are probably not as old as John. But I think Matthew created his genealogy and birth narrative to solve the conundrum of Jesus being from Galilee when the Messiah was supposed to be from Bethlehem which is posed in:

          John 7:41-42 (NRSV)41 Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 42 Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?”

          When Luke says he had the writings of eyewitnesses, he is referring to Mark, Matthew, and John. He rejected parts of Mark like the spit miracles, the naked boy in Gethsemane, and everything after the Feeding of the 5000 in chapter 6 until after the spit miracle in chapter 8. So there is no reason Luke would not have rejected Matthew’s genealogy with several names omitted when it was supposed to be based on three sets of 14 generations and God allowing the killing of many babies to save Jesus. Luke also rejected much of John, too.

        • L AJ

          John is the last gospel written, so it would have been John refuting Luke, not vice versa. The overwhelming consensus is Mark, Matthew, Luke, and then John in that order.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew and Luke are thought to have been written in the 80s and John is thought to be written in the 90s. But Josephus dates Antiquities of the Jews to about 94 AD and Matthew and Luke clearly use Antiquities to create their stories, so Matthew had to be mid to late 90s at the earliest and Luke used Matthew so it is later still.

        • L AJ

          And the textual evidence also seems to point to Luke not even knowing about Mark, but strictly using Matthew as a source, and then changing what he didn’t like.

        • Greg G.

          Luke follows Mark’s outline from chapter 3 to chapter 10, then follows topics of Deuteronomy for the trip to Jerusalem, and resumes with Mark’s outline for the Passion narrative beginning at Lk 18:15. Luke has verbatim text from Mark where Mark differs from Matthew and verbatim text with Matthew where Matthew differs from Mark or is absent in Mark. Matthew has some editorial fatigue where he changed a detail in Mark but failed to carry the change through the rest of the pericope. Luke does the same with Mark and with Matthew but there are no cases in the other direction.

          There are three major agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark and all of them are between chapter 10 and 17, when Luke was following Deuteronomy instead of Mark.

        • L AJ

          I agree it’s a clusterfuck of fan fiction:)

        • L AJ

          I apologize. I meant to say “John” had no knowledge of Mark. Somewhat off topic but interesting is Richard Carrier’s refutation of “Q”. I’m not a historian, so his work has been really informative.

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12352

        • Greg G.

          Mark created the Feeding of the 5000 and the Feeding of the 4000 from Elisha’s feeding of the one hundred in 2 Kings 4:42-44 combined with the two feasts that Telemauchus, Odysseus’ son, in the Odyssey. Telemauchus walked to one and sailed to one and so does Jesus. One of the feast that Telemauchus attended had nine groups of 500, so Mark rounded up for one and down for the other. It is pretty typical for Mark to create stories by combining a story from Homer or even from the OT with other parts of the OT. So if John didn’t know Mark, how did he end up with the Feeding of the 5000 with element for element matches, followed by the Walking on Water episode, and the Visit to Gennasaret?

          Mark has Peter denying Jesus surrounding Jesus trial to show simultaneity. Jesus is being slapped around and ordered to “Prophesy!” while his earlier prophecy is being fulfilled. It’s pretty cool irony that many people miss. John copies the technique with the story of Peter’s denial surrounding Jesus’ trial where Jesus is slapped around but John lost the irony by not having Jesus ordered to prophesy.

          Mark has Jesus get mad at a fig tree that was out of season and cursed it. Then he went into Jerusalem and threw a Temple Tantrum. The next day, the disciples noticed the tree was withered. The sandwich of the tree around the Cleansing of the Temple creates the analogy that the Roman audience Mark was writing to would know about from Vespasian propaganda.
          Jesus gets mad at tree : Tree is destroyed :: Jesus gets mad at temple : ___________

          His readers would fill in the blank with the temple being destroyed. Mark created the story out of Nehemiah 13:8-9 and Hosea 9:15.

          John has the Temple Tantrum near the beginning.

          These stories are not from oral traditions. Mark invented them, so John had to have got them from Mark.

        • L AJ

          I’ll defer to your knowledge; need to go back and re-read the gospels. I had thought that Matthew and Luke were sources for John, but not Mark. All the literary techniques and lifting, reversals, etc from the OT and Greek myths is really interesting. Even with my limited knowledge it’s amazing the mental gymnastics involved with believing the gospels are at all historical with all the red flags. The contradictory nativity stories have always been the most obvious to me as a layman.

        • Greg G.

          I got interested about a dozen years ago and it became a hobby. Below are links to some interesting articles. Note that R. G. Price is not Robert M. Price. Also, see Vridar.org

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price
          Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark by Michael Turton
          How a Fictional Jesus Gave Rise to Christianity, by R. G. Price
          The Gospel of Mark as Reaction and Allegory), by R. G. Price
          Choking on the Camel: Part 1 by Adam Lee (see Part 2 & 3 also)
          Review of The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark by Richard Carrier

        • L AJ

          Awesome! Thanks for the links!

        • Greg G.

          You’re welcome!

          The RM Price link is the heart of the book “The Christ Myth Theory and Its Problems:.

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

      Christians respond to these examples by saying, “Yes, but the Jesus story differs here.” Yes, of course the Jesus story differs from the Dionysus story. If it didn’t, we’d call Jesus “Dionysus.”

      I can’t imagine being on the side of the issue where such thinking was necessary.

      • Greg G.

        “But it can’t be plagiarism! I completely changed the author’s name!”

      • http://skepticseeker.blogspot.co.uk/ Skeptic Seeker

        Let’s say I wrote a story about a boy sorcerer, Harold Potley, who was abandoned by his parents and raised by his grandparents who made him sleep in the basement and when he turned 11 he went off to a sorcerer college to learn magic. He was shunned by everyone because of his mystical connection to a man who like full-blooded sorcerers and tried to kill Harold because a fortune-teller said he would kill that bad man. Oh and we was good at flying broom soccer (or football for the rest of the world).

        Now, some people might claim I was plagiarizing a certain story about a young boy-wizard that went to a wizarding school. You might have heard of Harry Potter. But let’s say I argued that the stories are not exactly the same. Harold was a boy-sorcerer, Harry was a boy-wizard. Harold is 11, Harry is 12. Harold went to a sorcerer college, Harry went to a wizarding school. And so on….

        You’d say, despite all my denials, I plagiarized JK Rowling, and despite the differences, my story was a total rip off of Harry Potter.

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

          The thing that I can’t get past is that the story of Jesus rising from the dead comes from a culture full of stories of gods rising from the dead. The story of Jesus being born of a virgin impregnated by God comes from a culture full of stories of gods having virgin births and/or godly parentage.

          I guess they just can’t admit the similarities.

        • http://skepticseeker.blogspot.co.uk/ Skeptic Seeker

          I’ve seen the similarities hotly debated elsewhere. Cognitive dissonance is the best explanation I can think of for the blind faith given the NT.

          Belief in gods was rampant throughout that period. In Greek culture, gods were just part of everyday life, they served a civic function, and weren’t so much like the personal god of the Jews. Gods like Glycon were created out of thin air by Alexander of Abonutichus using tricks and showmanship to fool people into believing he was real and new. The gods were very much “real” and not the abstract idea of the Jews.

          And yet, along comes jesus, who may have been a real person, giving people something real and leading them into the abstract.

          Yet despite the high volumes of gods, this one is the one true god. And even in the NT that sprung up around him as a result, there is mention of people (like us) who will doubt. Turns out since there are people that didn’t believe it’s proof positive that what was said was entirely true. (I think someone even used that on me.)

    • adam
      • L AJ

        Thanks to Richard Carrier!

  • John Cochran

    The resurrection is easy for the atheist to explain. It is a myth. Did not happen. Why would an atheist waste time and bother trying to justify such a fairy tale? That is a job for the sick apologist camp.

  • http://skepticseeker.blogspot.co.uk/ Skeptic Seeker

    Facts. Habermas keeps using that word; I don’t think it means what he thinks it means. I am currently plowing through Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?” SOme years back, I came to the conclusion that jesus didn’t exist after beginning my quest by wondering if the census did happen real (it was), 10 years after Herod (you know, the one who killed every boy under 2 in Bethlehem) died. As I began to look deeper, I could find no corroborating evidence. I already know Bart’s outcome, he’s made that clear with his derision of mythicists. I’m more interested to see how he reached it. If there is genuine evidence that an itinerant, illiterate preacher who roamed around and had his life story inflated to divine proportions, then sure. That doesn’t make all the other stuff real.

    While reading Bart’s book, it suddenly occurred to me, only the elite could read and write, so these books would have had a limited audience. Possibly they were commissioned. (I’ve been writing about my adventures in Bart’s book on my tumblr blog – https://skeptic42.tumblr.com/search/did%20jesus%20exist ). I thought it, but didn’t write it at the time, maybe the gospels (or some of them anyway) were just fan fiction. Imagine, what if all of christianity is based off of fan faction.

    But you are right, the gospels have been altered, and scholars and anyone who has been to seminary knows (or should). Scholars mainly talk among themselves, not deigning to grace us unwashed with their presence for fear of being tainted by our ignorance. Some do write popular books, but Bart Ehrman’s disdain for anyone who’s not a scholar that disagrees with him is very apparent. Sad really, I do like parts of his other books. In “Jesus Interrupted” he states that the Gospel of Mark (the earliest gospel written) was appended. Jesus never appears to anyone, there’s just a man (not an angel) who says he has risen. The women leave and say nothing to anyone (which contradicts other gospels).

    • Ignorant Amos

      I’m more interested to see how he reached it. If there is genuine evidence that an itinerant, illiterate preacher who roamed around and had his life story inflated to divine proportions, then sure.

      I could advise you not to waste your time, but to see how pathetic his argument is, you’ll need to read it yourself.

      When you’ve finished with DJE?, read “Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? a rebuttal to the nonsense of Ehrman by the scholars he disses in DJE? from Richard Carrier, Ph.D., D.M. Murdock, Earl Doherty, René Salm, David Fitzgerald, Frank R. Zindler, Robert M. Price. Criticised for being equally polemical, nevertheless, I think their corrections of Ehrman’s numerous errors when dealing with these guys in his book,is justified.

      Or you could just read Thomas Verenna’s take on the issue in a paper here….

      http://www.bibleinterp.com/PDFs/Response.pdf

      • http://skepticseeker.blogspot.co.uk/ Skeptic Seeker

        Thanks. I did get that book at the same time. I’ve read part of it when I grabbed it instead of Bart’s book. It is interesting to see what he left out. Frank Zindler has a huge conversation with him, yet gets a single paragraph with no mention to anything he presents. Bart cherry-picks who he uses to represent mythicists and tears them down. Not very academic, but then the book isn’t aimed at academics. Whether he was just after more money, I can’t say. So I bought it used.

        I read part of Jesus Interrupted (mainly for the contradictions he points out), while it’s much better, he still very sympathetic to christianity, believing it’s still a good religion.

        For me, it’s also an exercise in studying the arguments laid out. Your link looks quite interesting.

        Damn! I didn’t expect to be the only person to speculate that the gospels were commissioned, or as one response to my analysis put it, “fanfiction.” But at least I’m not the only one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I read part of Jesus Interrupted (mainly for the contradictions he points out), while it’s much better, he still very sympathetic to christianity, believing it’s still a good religion.

          Jesus Interrupted and Forged are both enlightening reads. And I hear his academic works are second to none. I think he is sympathetic to Christianity because his wife a social circle are Christian, and I wouldn’t rule out the employer/employee angle out completely.

          In his book describing how he finally became agnostic because of the problem of evil, his sympathy for Christianity is obvious.

          Ehrman does a fair bit of contradicting himself when he punts towards his certainty in an historical Jesus. This stalwart certainty paints him in an not very scholarly light. It is very disappointing, given my regard as a lay person with his other popular books. The poor research and argument in DJE? makes me question what else in Ehrman I’ve read that I might be taking for granted because of authority and which might be equally dubious.

        • http://skepticseeker.blogspot.co.uk/ Skeptic Seeker

          Yes, he is definitely very sympathetic. I think enough so that it taints his views in some ways, though he seems for the most part to have enough integrity not to fool himself.

          When it comes to Did Jesus Exist?, he appears to be very biased. Were this the first book I read, I would discard reading anything further by him. I have noticed some of the contradictions, just within DJE. He derides mythicists arguments concerning lack of early documentary evidence, then goes on to use probable, but non-existent sources, Q, M, L, the Thomas source, and then goes further to base those sources on other non-existent sources and oral tradition (the point I’ve reached in the book). So, he’s built up all these sources that might or might not exist. It’s like a man who nails a plank upon plank upon plank over an abyss. Conjecture can only go so far. I do agree the early stories are oral, but they’re passed along in a culture where fabrication is the accepted norm, and I suspect there’s a lot of the Dunning-Kruger effect (not knowing what you don’t know and making stuff up based on what you don’t know) happening as well.

          When it comes to “authority,” I rely on his (or anyone else’s) expertise and temper that with what seems reasonable. I did have someone question me because I am questioning his scholarship and responded accordingly. I’ve read Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe. Fascinating, but it’s a lot of mathematical speculation and doesn’t really meet the criteria to be called a theory. While Neptune (I think) was conjectured to exist based on math, that math was based on observation. Anyway, I digress.

          So, I do plan on finishing DJE?, my hopes are not high for any new insight, but I might be surprised. It is at least worth a look into how the NT is analyzed. And that paper you linked looks fantastic. I’ve browsed a bit of it and will read it more in full as I work my way through DJE and Frank Zinder’s rebuttal.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The thing about hypothetical sources is that since no one knows what contain, anything goes. It can easily be hypothesized that they also contained data that supports an ahistorical Jesus, but were not preserved for that very reason.

          What is really disturbing is not so much the number of invented sources, bad enough as that is, but his attempt to use the existing sources as independent when so much of his other work demonstrates the NT texts reliance on each other.

        • Greg G.

          I have given up the idea that the gospels come from oral tradition. New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash [link] by Robert M. Price shows how various scholars have found sources for the gospels. When they are combined, almost all of gMark is accounted for. Even gJohn is using gMark because we see obvious fiction created by aMark in gJohn.

          When I have tried to find the historical Jesus in the epistles, everything that sounds like it is taken from the Old Testament, not from first century knowledge. Paul says he didn’t get his knowledge from human sources but from revelation (Galatians 1:11-12) and the revelation is from the prophetic writings (Romans 16:25-26). Can we believe Paul on that? Paul uses “Christ Jesus”, “Jesus Christ”, “Christ”, and “Jesus” about once for every five verses, not counting pronouns and “Lord”, so he loves to talk about Jesus. Here is everything I have found in the “authentic epistles” where Paul is actually providing information about Jesus:

          Past
          Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12* > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10*
          Declared Son of God > Romans 1:4 > Psalm 2:7
          Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5
          Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26*, Habakkuk 2:4*, Leviticus 18:5*
          Was rich, became poor > 2 Corinthians 8:9 > Zechariah 9:9
          Was meek and gentle > 2 Corinthians 10:1 > Isaiah 53:7
          Did not please himself > Romans 15:3* > Psalm 69:9*
          Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11
          For the Gentiles > Romans 15:9-12* > Psalm 18:49*, 2 Samuel 22:50*, Deuteronomy 32:43*, Psalm 117:1*, Isaiah 11:10*

          Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23 > Psalm 41:9
          Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)

          Was crucified > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 3:13* > Deuteronomy 21:23*
          Died for sins > 1 Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 2:20 > Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:12
          Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9
          Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4, 2 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 13:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present
          Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5
          Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future
          Will come > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54*, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8*

          (* indicates that New Testament passage contains a direct quote from the Old Testament)

          1 Corinthians 11:23-25 appears to be part of an interpolation.

          Here are some likely Philippians Hymn sources:

          Philippians 2:5-11 (NRSV)

          5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

          1 Corinthians 11:1
          Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

          6 who, though he was in the form of God,

          Isaiah 52:14b
          his form beyond that of mortals

              did not regard equality with God

          Isaiah 9:6b
          he is named
          Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
              Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

              as something to be exploited,

          Isaiah 53:7
          He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
              yet he did not open his mouth;
          like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
              and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
              so he did not open his mouth.

          7 but emptied himself,

          Isaiah 53:12b
          because he poured out himself to death,

              taking the form of a slave,

          Isaiah 52:13a
          “See, my servant shall prosper”

              being born in human likeness.

          Isaiah 49:5
          and now the Lord says,
              who formed me in the womb to be his servant,

          And being found in human form,

          Isaiah 53:2
          For he grew up before him like a young plant,
              and like a root out of dry ground;
          he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
              nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

          8   he humbled himself

          Isaiah 53:3
          He was despised and rejected by others;
              a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
          and as one from whom others hide their faces
              he was despised, and we held him of no account.

              and became obedient to the point of death—

          Isaiah 53:10
          Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
          When you make his life an offering for sin,
              he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
          through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.

              even death on a cross.

          Deuteronomy 21:23 (per Galatians 3:13)
          23 his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree;
          you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a
          tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land
          that the Lord your God is giving you for possession.

          9 Therefore God also highly exalted him

          Isaiah 53:12a
          Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
              and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

              and gave him the name

          Isaiah 54:5a
          For your Maker is your husband,
              the Lord of hosts is his name;

              that is above every name,

          Isaiah 54:5b
          the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
              the God of the whole earth he is called.

          10 so that at the name of Jesus

          Isaiah 49:22
          Thus says the Lord God:
          I will soon lift up my hand to the nations,
              and raise my signal to the peoples;
          and they shall bring your sons in their bosom,
              and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

              every knee should bend,

          Isaiah 45:23a
          By myself I have sworn,
              from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
              a word that shall not return:
          “To me every knee shall bow,

              in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

          Isaiah 45:22
          Turn to me and be saved,
              all the ends of the earth!
              For I am God, and there is no other.

          11 and every tongue should confess

          Isaiah 45:23b
              every tongue shall swear.

              that Jesus Christ is Lord,

          Isaiah 45:24
          Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,
              are righteousness and strength;
          all who were incensed against him
              shall come to him and be ashamed.

              to the glory of God the Father.

          Isaiah 45:25
          In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
              shall triumph and glory.

          The other epistles are like that, too, though 1 Timothy uses Luke and 2 Peter uses Matthew, too.

        • http://skepticseeker.blogspot.co.uk/ Skeptic Seeker

          This is fantastic! I figured is was a bunch of oral history inflated with time with a dash of OT “prophecy” mixed in. It makes a bit more sense now that more OT passages are tied in. I’ll read it more in-depth wen I get a chance. One of my insane projects is to combine stuff like this with the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible as well as christian commentary. I’m headed off on a weekend holiday.

          To me a lot of the NT passages that “fulfill” prophecy from the OT seemed to be reaching or unrelated, I can’t think of specific examples, but it would be something like “Jesus stopped in a village,” and the OT passages used to as prophecy was like a bird flew across a field. The explanation would be something like “the bird represents the holy spirit and the field encompasses his parable of sowing the seeds.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but that parable is in a different gospel, and in the OT the next verse of the ‘prophecy’ he kills the bird with a sling stone and thanks the lord.” “Ah, well, that’s not part of the prophecy.” The prophecy claims are just a bunch of contrived stuff.

          They tease out meaning where are isn’t any, like the bible code bullshit predicting the future.

        • Greg G.

          Here are a few I have found in the General Epistles. Most of them go to Isaiah 53. There are a few from 1 Peter 2:21-25 where there is a lot of language that sounds like Isaiah 53 and tonight I noticed that 1 Peter 2:22 quotes 9 words and 42 letters from Isaiah 53:9 verbatim, letter for letter, jot for jot, and tittle for tittle.

          Came by water and blood > 1 John 5:6 > Zechariah 13:1

          Blood, lamb without blemish > 1 Peter 3:18 > Exodus 12:5, 13

          Rejected by mortals > 1 Peter 2:4 > Isaiah 53:3

          Suffered > 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 4:1 > Isaiah 53:3

          Abused, didn’t return abuse > 1 Peter 2:23 > Isaiah 53:7

          Bore our sins > 1 Peter 2:24 > Isaiah 53:12

          Laid down his life > 1 John 3:16 > Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:12

          Put to death > 1 Peter 3:18 > Isaiah 53:8-9

          Advocate for sin > 1 John 2:1 > Isaiah 53:11-12

          Gone into heaven > 1 Peter 3:22 > Psalm 110:1, Isaiah 53:12

          At the right hand of God > 1 Peter 3:22 > Psalm 110:1

          Angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him > 1 Peter 3:22 > Isaiah 45:22-25

          If anyone knows of any claims about the earth Jesus in the General Epistles, 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, and Colossians, please let me know!

        • TheNuszAbides
  • http://www.amazon.com/dp/1518617530/ PartialMitch

    Lots of great comments here. The one thing I’ll add is this:

    Christianity was formed at a time when religious syncretism was very much in fashion. In the centuries between Alexander the Great and Theodosius, various mythologies were combined in creative ways to create modified or brand-spanking-new religions. Anyone who is contemplating the origins of Christianity must always bear this fact in mind. People of that time period had no problem at all with forming a religion in such a jigsaw-puzzle sort of way. Christianity is quite obviously a syncretic blend of Hellenistic and Jewish mythologies. This is especially apparent in the Gospels, for example the Gospel of “John” (quotes around the name, since the author is unknown) borrowed the concept of the Logos from Hellenistic philosophy. All of the other examples given by my fellow commenters display this truth even further.

    To most of us, now, blending religions to make a new one seems extremely odd, given the exclusivity of modern monotheism. Things were different back then. Unfortunately most people (especially most religious people) lack any understanding of this basic fact of history.

    • Greg G.

      I hear many who think the Essenes were the early Christians because Josephus mention them, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees as the major sects while the New Testament doesn’t mention them. But Josephus’ description shows that the Pharisees had similar beliefs, too:

      Jewish War 2.8.14
      They [Pharisees] say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, – but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.

      • http://www.amazon.com/dp/1518617530/ PartialMitch

        Yeah, the Pharisees believed in the eternal soul, while the Sadducees did not. This is actually accurately portrayed in the New Testament (which isn’t surprising, since all myths are blends of fact and fable).

        Personally, I doubt that the Essenes were direct progenitors the Early Christians simply because Christianity is so obviously Hellenized, while the Essenes appear to have been hyper-mega-ultra Jews. But (and this is a Mix-a-lot-worthy big but), we know so little about them that no clear statements can be made. Even the accepted “facts” about them (like their connection to/ownership of Qumran) are very much unsettled. They may not even had anything to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls. I’m comfortable with ignorance when there is a lack of evidence; hopefully evidence will be found that dispels our ignorance, but until then, I will make no claims regarding the Essenes.

        As an aside, I don’t trust Josephus one damn bit. He was not an impartial historian; he wrote for political reasons and is not to be trusted. Granted no writer from antiquity is to be trusted. They lacked all standards of objectivism and the scientific method, and telling lies for a purpose was an accepted practice among even the most honest of people back then. Plus there’s that whole thing where his work has been “edited” by Christians to suit their own purpose, which most definitely was not his. His work is fun to read, for sure, but every word needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

        One cool thing about him, of course, is his mention of a whole bunch of other people named Jesus. My favorite is Jesus ben Ananias, who was memorably killed by a thrown rock during the siege of Jerusalem after prophesying doom for a few years.

        Admittedly Jewish people were rather limited in their name selection at that time (“Hey, look, it’s Mary, Mary, Mary and Mary. Hi ladies.”), but it’s really easy to see how some of those Jesuses could have easily been mixed together with other legends to create the (in)famous one. Especially since the Gospel stories are so incomplete and contradictory.

        Sorry for the digression. I’m at work right now, having a very boring, easy day.

        • Greg G.

          I’m at work and it has been busier than usual in spurts.

          Personally, I doubt that the Essenes were direct progenitors the Early Christians simply because Christianity is so obviously Hellenized, while the Essenes appear to have been hyper-mega-ultra Jews.

          Good point. Luke used Josephus a lot, especially for Acts. The description of the Christian community at the end of Acts 4 seems to be based on Josephus’ account of the Essenes. I think that is why many associate the Essenes with early Christianity.

          As an aside, I don’t trust Josephus one damn bit. He was not an impartial historian; he wrote for political reasons and is not to be trusted. Granted no writer from antiquity is to be trusted. They lacked all standards of objectivism and the scientific method, and telling lies for a purpose was an accepted practice among even the most honest of people back then. Plus there’s that whole thing where his work has been “edited” by Christians to suit their own purpose, which most definitely was not his. His work is fun to read, for sure, but every word needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

          The Synoptic Gospels are dependent on his writings. Luke is extremely reliant on him. The instances in the Gospel of Luke are concentrated in the parts that do not come from Mark and Matthew. Mark seems to have used Jewish Wars to supplement some stories and I noticed the other night that some of the disciples’ names coincide with the names of the fathers of the Jewish opposition to the Romans. Matthew used Antiquities for his nativity story, basing it on Josephus’ account of Moses’ nativity story in AJ 2, some of the accounts of Herod in AJ 17, and Magi’s gifts appear to be some temple items mentioned in the order Josephus mentioned them, not in the order they are found in the OT.

        • http://www.amazon.com/dp/1518617530/ PartialMitch

          I’ve always been more inclined to think that John the Baptist was an Essene, or at least heavily influenced by them, and that perhaps their practices were incorporated into Christianity when the cult of John was absorbed into the cult of Jesus. Difficult to say, of course, given or ignorance of those people and their time, but he seems far closer to them than the social-butterfly Jesus of the Gospels.

          I’ve been studying the Gospels and Acts over the past week or so (in multiple translations, along with some commentaries and seminary books in my collection), and one of the more telling bits of bullshit (in the technical sense of the word; statements without regard to truth or falsehood) is the treatment of John the Baptist. Is he a competitor, a friend or a family member to Jesus? Heck the supposed message(s) sent to Jesus by John when the latter was imprisoned seem to indicate that they didn’t know each other. In the Gospel of “John” we see the Baptist proclaim Jesus’ status as Son of God … and yet he later (according to “Matthew” and “Luke”) sent the aforementioned letter, and also his followers in Ephesus didn’t know of Jesus at all. And of course, Josephus presents the Baptist in a rather different light than the Biblical stories.

          I buy into the theory that the John cult and Jesus cult were totally unconnected (and it is a theory, since the scriptural contradictions and Josephus are the evidence to prove the hypothesis) and only later merged. The two guys probably never crossed paths (if Jesus “of Nazareth” was even a real person), and the cults likely didn’t mingle until the time of Paul. Then “Mark” said they met and Jesus was Baptised (to unify the two groups and “prove” the status of Jesus via the sign from heaven), though the Baptist didn’t know Jesus; then “Matthew” said the Baptist recognized Jesus for what he was; then “John” wrote that the Baptist not only recognized him, but also made blatant proclamations about it; and finally “Luke” added the nativity nonsense to unify the two by blood and claim that the Baptist knew Jesus since he was in utero.

          Ah, what a tangled web the unknown Gospel authors wove for us. It’s a wonder that anyone buys it. Or, rather, it’s a very sad statement about humanity.

          By the way, you’re awesome. Thanks for the conversation.

    • Ignorant Amos

      To most of us, now, blending religions to make a new one seems extremely odd, given the exclusivity of modern monotheism. Things were different back then. Unfortunately most people (especially most religious people) lack any understanding of this basic fact of history.

      Oh I don’t know about that. Mormonism seems to me to be taking Christianity and running with it a bit.

      The Sathya Sai Baba Movement recently referenced here also appears to be a bit of a bastardisation too…

      For his part, Sathya Sai Baba is seen as a reincarnation of Shiva and Shakti – rendering him, in his followers’ eyes, a living god. Just as Sai Baba Shirdi drew from Muslim and Hindu teachings, Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings tell a hybrid story, mingling Hindu, Muslim and Christian theology. He called for a synthesis of these faiths along lines of non-violence, truth, love, peace and right conduct:

      My objective is the establishment of sanathana dharma, which believes in one God as propitiated by the founders of all religions. So none has to give up his religion or deity … I have come not to disturb or destroy any Faith, but to confirm each in his own Faith, so that the Christian becomes a better Christian, the Muslim a better Muslim and a Hindu a better Hindu.” According to “Ocean of Love”, a book published by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, “there is no new path that He is preaching, no new order that He has created. There is no new religion that He has come to add or a particular philosophy that He recommends … His mission is unique and simple. His mission is that of love and compassion.”

      https://historiesofthingstocome.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/expected-resurrection-of-sai-baba.html

      And as far as I can remember, places such as Haiti have syncretised Voodoo practices and rituals into their Christianity. Christians in Louisiana also practice Voodoo or Hoodoo, depending on whether they are Catholic Christians, or Protestant Christian.

      • http://www.amazon.com/dp/1518617530/ PartialMitch

        You are 100% correct, which is why I used the weasel word “most.” The facts are precisely as you’ve described them. What people think is often very different from the contents of reality.

  • Facebook User

    The most important thing is to remember that the New Testament never actually says WHY the tomb was empty. If Jesus was stolen he could still have risen. The accounts say the stone was moved and there was nobody about all the time when that happened. Nobody says the body was gone then. The body could have been taken by anybody after the stone rolled back. The accounts of the appearances never tie him down to a physical time or place so it is really a Jesus who has such different properties that it hardly has much of a connection to what was buried. The believers in fairness admit that apparitions would not be enough to justify belief in the resurrection and they lie about the tomb being empty for Jesus vacated it via resurrection.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Matthew gets round that by putting guards on the tomb.

      27:62 The following day (that is, after the Day of Preparation), the high priests and Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘I will be raised after three days.’ 64 Therefore, order the tomb to be secured until the third day, or his disciples may go and steal him and then tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ Then the last deception would be worse than the first one.”

      65 Pilate told them, “You have a military guard. Go and make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and secured the tomb by putting a seal on the stone in the presence of the guards.

      These were regular Roman soldiers. A watch consisted of 4 soldiers which was changed every four hours. They would die if their prisoner escaped. These soldiers were not from the temple guard. Like the group that came to imprison Jesus.

      Then in chapter 28, when the women came on Sunday morning, an angel told them he had risen from the dead and that Jesus had vamoosed to Galilee.

      28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

      2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

      5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

      Who isn’t going to believe an angel under those circumstances. Although one would think it a detail worthy of note that the other authors managed to forget. Paul knows nothing at all abut any of this fantastical bullshit.

      • james warren

        Mark’s gospel–the earliest written according to a massive scholarly consensus–says nothing about resurrection. Like Paul he is more concerned with resurrection faith, as it were. No accounts of seeing the risen Jesus.

        Mark seemed to believe his version was not deficient.

        This indicates evidence that the first generation of Jesus followers were perfectly fine with a Gospel account that recounted no appearances of Jesus.

        • Greg G.

          The first generation of Christians would be Aramaic speakers. The Greek speakers would be a later generation. Mark used Aramaicisms and Latinisms. He usually explained the Aramaicisms but never the Latinisms so his intended audience was more familiar with Latin than Aramaic. He even gives the value of a Palestinian coin in relation to a Roman coin.

          Mark used tacit implications in analogies rather than spelling out details for the reader. He explains that “Bartimaeus” means “son of Timaeus” and has Jesus open his Gethsemane prayer with “Abba, Father” so his alert readers will realized that Barabbas and Jesus are both called “Son of the Father”. He has Jesus get pissed off at a tree, get pissed at the Temple, and later, it is discovered that the tree has withered, and his Roman audience would think of the recent destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. He has Peter being questioned about being a follower of Jesus outside the trial of Jesus while Jesus is being beaten and ordered to “Prophesy!” as his prophecy of Peter’s denial is being fulfilled. There’s a lot going on in the subtext.

          The ending is like a Twilight Zone episode which makes Mark a first century Roman Rod Serling.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Mark’s gospel–the earliest written according to a massive scholarly consensus–says nothing about resurrection. Like Paul he is more concerned with resurrection faith, as it were. No accounts of seeing the risen Jesus.

          No contention on that from me, but I fail to see the relevance.

          Mark seemed to believe his version was not deficient.

          His version being the first, of course not…especially if Mark concocted his version from the literature of the day and it was written for a 70’s CE or later Roman audience.

          This indicates evidence that the first generation of Jesus followers were perfectly fine with a Gospel account that recounted no appearances of Jesus.,.

          So what? As I’ve already stated, Thomas Sheehan’s hypothesis is that Paul was talking about metaphor which by the time of the gospel writers had been placed in reality.

          Paul was talking about a vision. The question is what did Paul believe his vision was about. What can we extract from his writing, contemporary texts of the time, and the thinking of some of the Jews at that time and their beliefs. You believe it was a metaphor. Great, that’s an interpretation you prefer and there is limited scholarship who agree with you. But you have done nothing to make an argument, never mind convincing argument. There are other interpretations. I favour that of Earl Docherty and Richard Carrier…their thesis makes more sense to me and is better supported.

          Whatever Paul, and subsequently Marks, intentions and meaning were in the telling of the resurrection, it is clear that by the time Matthew is writing the story wasn’t meant as a metaphor.

        • james warren

          Many people–atheists and believers alike–do not see the relevance of biblical history and other research.
          It is an interesting point that Mark’s gospel was entirely [?] concocted from the literature of the day. I do not trust generalizations like this. But I could be wrong and I am certainly not presumptuous enough to claim I am right.
          Biblical scholars have as many different theories as there are the fashion widths of men’s ties.

          You have brought up Sheehan’s ideas more than once. They are his theories and ideas and they are not the only ones available.

          What we affirm as “better supported” is going to be quite different than other theories and conclusions that adherents say are “better supported.”

          Paul experienced an auditory epiphany. Much later the text says he saw a bright light.

          Most good scholars read what is actually IN the text and go from there.

          As far as what people “meant” from a distance of 2,000 years ago is impossible to say with 100% accuracy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Many people–atheists and believers alike–do not see the relevance of biblical history and other research.

          It’s not history if it was cobbled together from stories plagiarised from existing texts of the time.

          It is an interesting point that Mark’s gospel was entirely [?] concocted from the literature of the day. I do not trust generalizations like this. But I could be wrong and I am certainly not presumptuous enough to claim I am right.

          Michael A. Turton’s Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, does a wonderful job of demonstrating that “Mark” is ‘Midrash’ and therefore not history.

          http://web.archive.org/web/20060427175532/users2.ev1.net/~turton/GMark/GMark_index.html

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash

          http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_midrash1.htm

          The Gospel of Mark as Midrash on Earlier Jewish and New Testament Literature: 021 (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity)

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gospel-Midrash-Earlier-Testament-Literature/dp/0889466211

          Biblical scholars have as many different theories as there are the fashion widths of men’s ties.

          Something I’ve been trying to tell you from the get-go. And that includes your “everything’s a metaphor” theory too. But some theories are more pragmatic in answering the difficult questions than others.

          You have brought up Sheehan’s ideas more than once.

          Absolutely. Try and understand my reason for citing him then?

          I bring him up as evidence that I’m fully aware of the theory you are punting to, which Sheehan supported, and he cites your man J.D. Crossan in his work. I was aware of it ten years ago when I first acquired, and listened to, Thomas Sheehan’s set of Sanford lectures dealing with Yesuah.

          They are his theories and ideas and they are not the only ones available.

          Bingo!

          The theory you, and Sheehan espouse, on the resurrectin is addressed in….

          THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF JESUS

          Chapter 3

          Post-Vatican II Catholic Theology on the Resurrection

          We can see how Sheehan’s own revolution in the church comes out in The First Coming. The resurrection stories, Sheehan tells us, “contradict one another aggregiously,” which is one of the reasons why he will come to the conclusion that they “are not historical accounts but religious myths,”98 myths, the meaning of which Sheehan is going to help us unravel. While the tomb of Jesus, he writes, was probably found empty, and the appearance stories “are relatively late-arriving legends” appearing in Matthew and Luke around 85 A.D., “and in final analysis are not essential to Christian faith,”99 then how did belief in the resurrection come about? Simon, after the death of Jesus, had gone to Capernaum, and there he had a “revelatory experience”100 which may have been nothing more than a reflection “on the life and message” of Jesus.101 And Sheehan tries to imagine what the content of that message might have been: “Jesus was soon to return in glory to usher in God’s kingdom!”102 After this experience Peter told his fellow disciples about it, and that was it. No appearances, no need to wonder whether the tomb was empty or not, and therefore, no resurrection leading to an appearance to Simon so that Simon can come to faith in the risen Lord. Rather, Simon’s revelatory experience comes first and is later formulated as the resurrection of Jesus, but this experience could be, and probably was, expressed in other ways among the first Christians.103

          http://www.innerexplorations.com/catchtheomor/resurrection_3.htm

          There are gaping holes in your positions that cannot be reasonably reconciled.

          What we affirm as “better supported” is going to be quite different than other theories and conclusions that adherents say are “better supported.”

          That’s a bit of a tautology. Creationists think they have the “better supported” theories, they haven’t. All any individual can do is look at the arguments for, and against, any theory, including any supporting evidence, then decide which theory is most convincing. Your theory is as fringe as the best of the mythicists theory. But where I attempt to defend my position, you have done nothing here to support your position, other than claim that it makes the most sense to you, and those Christians supporting an actual event, and by extension, those atheists arguing against the literal reading, are all getting it severely wrong, in your opinion. That’s not convincing at all.

          Paul experienced an auditory epiphany.

          Nope, the writings of Paul claim that he had an auditory epiphany. So what? That sort of claim is as common as muck, it doesn’t make it true. There are multi-million dollar mega churches in the U.S. with followers in the millions, whose leaders claim the same. It doesn’t make the claim true or real. Mohammad claims he had a similar experience…few Christians give that even lip service.

          But like I said, the writings of Paul also claim he had visions.

          “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” -1 Cor. 15: 3-8

          Unless you are claiming all these folk actually seen a real risen Jesus in the flesh? In which case, your metaphor theory is fucked.

          Much later the text says he saw a bright light.

          Yeah, Acts…seriously? Acts is a loada waffling nonsense too…demonstrably so.

          Most good scholars read what is actually IN the text and go from there.

          Yeah …a know. Your point?

          Most good scholars also read all the contemporary texts of the time to get a feel for what was going on in the world and go from there.

          As far as what people “meant” from a distance of 2,000 years ago is impossible to say with 100% accuracy.

          No argument here. It is all about probabilities. Historians work out what most probably happened in the past. The problem lies in this particular area of historical investigation. It is severely flawed. It’s methods are problematic. Real scholars recognise the inherent problems and comment on the issues.

          There is very good reason why there are so many conflicting theories of who Jesus was…all deduced from the same set of data.

  • http://www.triplenine.org/ MasterOfSparks

    I can explain the resurrection story in one word: Fiction! Or two words: Plagiarized fiction!

    • james warren

      Metaphor! Or: metaphors that came about in a culture of a tradition of people supposedly rising from the dead.

      Seventeen words.

  • Grigori Schmidt

    As an atheist, I see only one explanation: Jesus was raised from the dead by God the Allmighty.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Whaaa?

      Having difficulties with your grasp of English, because that sentence makes no sense whatsoever?

      • Grigori Schmidt

        maybe it is because english is not my mother tongue.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which is why I added the precursor, “Having difficulties with your grasp of English,…” in my reply.

          And I’m still none the wiser, because you haven’t clarified what I read as an oxymoron.

          Try writing it in your mother tongue and I’ll see if it makes any more sense.