Christians Who Just Don’t Get It (2 of 3)

In part 1, we looked at the odd views of “John” the atheist.

  • John denies that morality exists (apparently he means that objective morality doesn’t exist).
  • John dismisses aspirations and loves as imaginary by equating them with the chemistry that makes them (just because we can understand how love works doesn’t mean it no longer exists).
  • John says that “there is nothing in my world that stops me from killing you and reproducing with your wife” (that’s not an atheist, that’s a sociopath).

Read that post if you want more. Let’s now move on to what is the more interesting aspect of this story, Christian bloggers’ eager and gullible embrace of John’s views.

John’s essay first appeared in “The Inevitable Consequence of An Atheistic Worldview” at Jim Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity blog. Wallace says, “John bluntly captured the true nature of morality when it is untethered to a transcendent source.”

I wonder why he accepts John’s nutty view of morality rather than those of many other atheists whose views contradict that—me, for instance.

Wallace makes clear the atheist’s problem: “[As an atheist,] I embraced a particular set of moral laws even though I couldn’t account for these laws in a world without a transcendent moral law giver.”

If you’re looking for a sensible worldview, you’ve backed the wrong horse. Naturalism explains morality with evolution, while Christianity posits God as a law giver without evidence. That’s how you tell the difference between science and religion—science is the one backing up its claims with evidence.

And Wallace is confused about how society works. “Without a true transcendent source for morality (and purpose), skeptics are left trying to invent their own, justifying their subjective moral rules as best they may.”

Societies around the world and throughout history have developed moral rules. Christians have a special book, and yet they have the same moral programming as anyone else. It’s not just Christianity that has the Golden Rule.

Wallace wraps up the lessons this way:

In my interaction with John, he told me he was weary of hearing fellow atheists mock their opponents for hypocrisy and ignorance, while pretending they had a definitive answer to the great questions of life. He simply wanted his fellow atheists to be consistent. As it turns out, theism provides the consistent moral foundation missing from John’s atheistic worldview.

Hold on—who is pretending to have definite answers to the great questions of life?

By “great questions,” I assume you mean questions like, (1) Why are we here? (2) Where did we come from? (3) What is my purpose? (4) What will happen to me after I die? Yes, Christianity has answers, but are those answers backed up with evidence? And other religions have different answers. Why imagine that yours are better? If theirs are made up, why not yours?

Remember science, the discipline that backs things up with evidence? It answers your Great Questions. It’s just that you don’t like the answers. (1) We’re here for no more cosmically significant reason than a goat or oak tree is here, (2) the Big Bang and evolution are parts of the explanation of where we came from, (3) your life’s purpose is yours to define, and (4) what happens to you after you die is the same as what happens when the goat or oak tree dies (more). Might there actually be supernatural explanations behind these questions? Sure, but no good evidence points that way.

As for John demanding that atheists be consistent and accept the consequences of their worldview, I am an atheist who doesn’t share his worldview. I’m not going to accept his “consequences” when they’re ridiculous.

Wallace concludes, “As it turns out, theism provides the consistent moral foundation missing from John’s atheistic worldview.”

Consistent? First, you’ve given no evidence that Christianity is not just pretend, which is what it looks like. Second, Christian morality is wildly inconsistent when Christians in the West must juggle modern morality (racial equality, gender equality, and slavery and genocide as abominations) with God’s actions in the Old Testament (an us vs. them tribal focus and God’s “chosen people,” subservient roles for women, and support for slavery, genocide, and even human sacrifice). Christianity’s “moral foundation” sucks.

Concluded with one final look at a Christian response to John the atheist in part 3.

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well,
on the surface of a gas covered planet going around
a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away
and think this to be normal
is obviously some indication
of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
— Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Image credit: ollie harridge, flickr, CC

 

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  • watcher_b

    I’ve argued this before, but it is worth repeating:
    (1) Why are we here? Nothing in the bible answers this question. You can get out of the bible that God created humanity (or you specifically) but it never answers why it did that.
    (2) Where did we come from? Religion doesn’t answer this any better than history in general.
    (3) What is my purpose? Again, there is nothing in the bible to tell you your specific purpose. Some general and specific rules to live by, but there is no objective way to determine one’s purpose from the bible or from its God.
    (4) What will happen to me after I die? This one drove me nuts when I was a Christian. Everyone was so sure of their salvation and so sure of other people’s lack of salvation… without any sort of objective measure. Like when Harold Camping predicted the end of the world and then disappeared for a few days when the world didn’t end. The only evidence my Christian friends had that he was wrong was that they were still there and they are OBVIOUSLY saved so he MUST be wrong. The arrogance kills me.

    • http://webpages.charter.net/silkroad/ kermit

      Standing by one religion as a marker for one’s own subgroup would be OK if they saw it as arbitrary, with no intrinsic value in one path over the others. (“I see that you neighbors are Sunni Muslim. That’s OK. The way my family does religion is the Southern Baptist Convention.”) But, alas, most religious people seem to have trouble thinking like that. Or perhaps we only hear from the ones that have trouble thinking like that. But that’s like asserting “I play blue grass only; you people who play jazz are evil and weird.”

      It’s easier when we just drop the religion altogether. Living the life of the mystic’s “All paths lead up the mountain” is not for everyone, especially those who only seem to think concretely.

    • Jim Jones

      > You can get out of the bible that God created humanity (or you specifically) but it never answers why it did that.

      And you can’t answer the question of why ‘god’ didn’t create life, or intelligence, earlier. ‘He’ sat around in nothingness for a trillion years or . . . .?

    • TheNuszAbides

      some try to argue that cultivating confidence in a hunky-dory afterlife (regardless of specific rationalization – reward for heavy moral lifting, Elect status, infinite love’n’mercy etc.) is a helpful tool to resist despair or apathy or [insert moral panic or threat here]. but the lack of empathy you mention, that I saw plenty of as well when still a regular churchgoer, seems to me collectively worse than individual despair. individual despair can still draw on the community for support; collective callousness is more like a foul feedback loop when it spreads within a community.

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

      Don’t they say your purpose is to glorify God at some point? Not that this makes much sense-why would God need it?

      • watcher_b

        I’d be interested in seeing a reference to that. At least it would be something. I believe that Ecclesiastes basically says everything sucks so all you can do is glorify God or something along those lines. But it doesn’t really say that is the point of it all. I could be wrong though.

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

          It doesn’t say explicitly “this is humanity’s purpose” though the amount of verses commanding that imply this. Here’s a long list. http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Glorifying-God Incidentally, I always found it interesting how existentialist Ecclesiastes was. Perhaps Kierkegaard had some inspiration from it.

    • adam

      “(1) Why are we here? Nothing in the bible answers this question. You
      can get out of the bible that God created humanity (or you specifically)
      but it never answers why it did that.”

      You kind of do, when you take the whole bible together:
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9bfb7cbb09a39ae8911c3879d7def113ab5277eb302961e16b02b2a649a0e7d6.jpg

      What it says, it that God creates MOST EVERYBODY, so that it can torture them for eternity.

      Matthew 7:13-14New International Version (NIV)

      The Narrow and Wide Gates

      13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

  • Ford Warrick Jr

    I agree with John that objective morality, as in rules that are independent of human experience, doesn’t exist but because humans are social mammals morality for us isn’t entirely subjective. There are behaviors that are almost universally seen as immoral, such as betrayal of one’s group. In my opinion, early Christians took socially evolved moral behaviors and incorporated them into a dogma. Morality evolved and continues to be refined to deliver better consequences for individuals and societies. The relatively recent acceptance that slavery is morally wrong is one example. Morality wasn’t handed down from God, it isn’t etched in stone, and that to me is a good thing.

    • http://webpages.charter.net/silkroad/ kermit

      As social animals it is as natural for us to learn a moral code while growing up as it is to learn a language. But just as the language is to a degree arbitrary, so too is the moral code. Moral codes that do not support the tribe are not likely to be widely supported, nor to last long. They are apparently based on the empathy we have for our immediate society, our family and family friends. For simple people or concrete thinking people the Tribe is likely to be obviously distinct group (such as white Christian Fundamentalists) and the others are viewed suspiciously. This is not ideal but may be unavoidable. Many – perhaps most – people can extend their idea of the Tribe based on more abstract concepts, even up to a global scale.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Another example of ‘mirror neurons’ in action.

        Also why autistic folks may have a difficult time.

    • Joe

      That’s why I use the term god-grounded morality, rather than ‘objective’ or ‘subjective’, because saying morality is ‘subjective’ gives the theist a straw man to attack.

      In reality, you can use biological facts as a basis for morality. The example I use are weights and measurements. They are textbook examples of objectivity, but are not ‘grounded’ in anything but our own agreement.

      • Cady555

        That’s like the person who claimed that paper money has no intrinsic value, but gold does. Nope. Gold only has value because society places a value on it. Just like paper money.

        • Michael Neville

          Nothing, not a single thing, has intrinsic value. Gold would cost a great deal less if it wasn’t considered a precious metal.

        • Greg G.

          The dolphinfish was renamed “mahi mahi” for marketing reasons. Maybe we can make a fortune by calling pyrite “genius’ gold”.

        • RichardSRussell

          Diamonds would cost a good deal less if they weren’t marketed by an international cartel.

        • Cady555

          There is reportedly a planet somewhere in our galaxy made entirely of diamond.

        • Greg G.

          There is reportedly a planet somewhere in our galaxy made entirely of diamond.

          It’s mine! It’s all mine!

        • smrnda

          Have they ever heard of the opium wars?

          Long story short, the British wanted shit from China, but the Chinese weren’t so into gold. They wanted silver. The British tried to force their slaves to mine silver, but it just wasn’t working, so they fought wars for the right to deal opium in China, as it was a commodity they did have.

          I mean, the value of gold varies, and I’d go so far as anything aside from basic necessities like food has no real ‘intrinsic value.’

    • Cady555

      European Christians did this. Europe is relatively cold, thus they wore lots of clothes. Winter days were short, thus steady hard work through out daylight hours was necessary. So what happened when they travelled to the tropics? The natives were immoral for wearing so little clothes. The natives were lazy for resting in the hottest part of the day.

      They took normal adaptations to the European climate and turned them into global moral absolutes.

      • Michael Neville

        “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” –Noel Coward

      • smrnda

        You can also see this by what drugs different societies found acceptable. Booze is definitely not healthy, but since it’s got tradition on its side, it’s considered less questionable, ethically, than marijuana in the USA.

      • Dannorth

        And the limited growing season meant that they had plan ahead more and work hard in the summer to have food for the winter

  • Foxglove

    I personally don’t care to argue the question. What I say to Christians is, if you claim to have a good moral system, prove it by the way you live. Lots of you are falling down in that respect. As for my moral system, I prove it by the way I live. If you think it’s so bad, you’re free to point out to me why you think so.

    • jamesparson

      Hear, hear!

  • lady_black

    “John” the atheist says in his world there’s nothing keeping him from killing you and reproducing with your wife. That sounds like a sociopath. And also like a theist. Doesn’t the Buy-bull give that the official okey-dokey from “god?”
    Here’s an idea, “John” kills the believer’s wife, the believer’s wife, fearing for her own life, kills “John.” She’s not obligated to go along with him simply because he killed her husband.

    • http://webpages.charter.net/silkroad/ kermit

      She is, in fact, morally obligated to kill him if she can. In such a situation it wouldn’t be an option for many people, but if the choice is her or him, it would be better for society if she could manage it. If she could, say, grab a pistol in time, she could perhaps control him until the police arrive, but she shouldn’t put herself in danger to avoid hurting him.

      • lady_black

        I would cut his throat and not care if he never saw me coming, nor would I worry about the police.

    • Jim Jones

      > “John” the atheist says in his world there’s nothing keeping him from killing you and reproducing with your wife.

      I believe him. And he has told me who he is. After all, Hitler’s death camps were run by Catholics and Lutherans, not by atheists.

      • lady_black

        “John” the atheist is a straw atheist who only exists in this Christian’s mind.

  • http://webpages.charter.net/silkroad/ kermit

    Atheism, of course, is not a value system. An atheist can be (among other things) a sociopath, a Marxist, utterly uninterested, or the most common in the West, a humanist.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Atheism is a little bit a value system, it does make a contribution to a person’s value system.

      • Max Doubt

        “Atheism is a little bit a value system, it does make a contribution to a person’s value system.”

        Well, sure, if you redefine “atheism” and/or “value system” to mean something other than what they actually mean.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Atheism and other ideas that go along with it are obviously a part of your value system, and the value systems of other people.

          Every person’s value system contains many parts.
          Atheism or theism are often parts of value systems.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, this makes more sense if it would say:
          –”Atheism is a little bit of a value system, it does make a contribution to a person’s value system.”–

          As in “a little part of” a value system.

  • Joe

    I fail to see the point of an objective morality of which we don’t know what it is, or where to find it.

    The only use of claiming god-grounded objective morality is to use in ontological arguments for God. Otherwise it’s the proverbial ‘tits on a bull’.

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

      I recently heard an interview with Leah Libresco, the Yale graduate and Patheos blogger who famously went from atheist to Catholic. She said that the existence of objective morality (“what could ground that except for a god?”) was the argument that converted her.

      The interview didn’t discuss the (poor) foundation of the claim of objective morality.

      • Joe

        Another theist I encountered (Tyler Vella, not sure if you’ve heard of him but he’s a budding apologist/evangelist with his own podcast) had the same argument, and my reaction was really? That’s your reason?

        I’d be more concerned with how morality was actually working in the real world than any metaphysical notions of ‘grounding’.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Anywho, how exactly does Jesus ground morality when he is not a mermaid? (like the Christian/other theist who believes “God(s) grounds morality”, I have simply added another special definition to whatever “grounding morality” means)

      • Chuck Johnson

        The Pope likes to encourage the beating of children and the assassination of cartoonists.
        This woman is a nitwit.

        • Joe

          You’d think the Catholic Church would be the people least likely to hope and believe there was an objective morality?

          It’s like a bank robber thinking “Gee, I hope somebody has called the cops!”

        • Chuck Johnson

          They do believe in objective morality.
          The Pope and his minions are spin doctors. They can (morally speaking) make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
          The faithful are obliged to believe the malarkey.

        • Jim Jones

          The bishops run the RCC. The pope is their Sean Spicer.

        • RichardSRussell

          Of the 2 great evil, corrupt, greedy, misogynistic, authoritarian organizations that have spread their tentacles from Italy over the rest of civilization, why is it that only the less destructive one, the Mafia, has the bad reputation?

      • Ford Warrick Jr

        I wondered when I heard her conversion was based on belief in objective morality why she found that argument compelling. I also wondered how she went from a God as necessary for objective morality to Catholicism, because that seems like a big stretch. It’s like believing there must be an afterlife, therefore Scientology.

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

          I think her fretting about objective morality drove her to Christianity, and the intellectual tradition (Thomas Aquinas, etc.) made Catholicism appealing.

        • smrnda

          Catholicism has nearly 2000 years of making up imposing sounding deepities.

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

          And yet, even after all that time, they still aren’t very impressive.

        • TheNuszAbides

          except to Ameribear. and to the guy who paints everything non-Catholic as demon-communism.

        • Joe

          Her partner was a Catholic, I think.

          Of course, I’m sure that had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with her conversion.

      • epicurus

        And I assume it probably also didn’t discuss the big leap after believing there is some kind of God to then get to Christianity and then the Catholic version of Christianity.

        • epicurus

          Sorry I was too lazy to read the other comments below this, and realized other people have indeed already said what I just said. Sorry about that.

        • Joe

          As others have agreed, it’s quite a leap.

          Like when theists say something along the lines of “Science can’t answer everything, therefore I chose a religion that is wrong about what science does know.”

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Ms. Libresco also doesn’t mention she converted because the guy for whom she passionately lusted was Catholic. Left the guy, kept the religion.

        • Dys

          Because that’s not true. She had already broken up with the guy well before converting. I don’t find her conversion particularly compelling because she hasn’t really done much in terms of justifying it. Not that she has to, but the fact is that she stated it was her intention to do so. I was looking forward to the interview she said she was going to do with Dan Fincke of Camels With Hammers who would have really been able to push her on requiring God for objective morality, but it never materialized.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and yet she does interviews crowing about the heavy lifting she did to reach her lofty perch. how galling.

        • Dys

          Extremely frustrating. I’ve looked, but if she’s done an interview where she gives anything more than referencing the moral argument in defense of her conversion, I’ve missed it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          oops, sorry. i should’ve put “heavy lifting” in scare-quotes. too much snark that day.

      • primenumbers

        “Objective” means “mind independent”, so by definition a god or any being’s thoughts cannot ground anything objective. Objectivity comes from mind-independent facts about reality.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Surviving and evolving is the closest that we can get to a simple explanation of objective morality.
      It’s good enough for me.

  • RichardSRussell

    Remember science, the discipline that backs things up with evidence? It answers your Great Questions.

    “Tell me why the stars do shine,
    Tell me why the ivy twines,
    Tell me what makes skies so blue,
    And I will tell you why I love you.

    “Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine,
    Tropisms make the ivy twine,
    Rayleigh scattering makes skies so blue,
    Testicular hormones are why I love you.”

    —Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), American science-fiction writer, (2nd verse; 1st verse traditional)

    • Greg G.

      I had that memorized long ago but I never knew it was from Asimov. Cool!

  • epicurus

    Saying there is nothing in the atheist view that prevents him from killing you and reproducing with your wife seems like a poor example for this John guy to use, since that is pretty much what King David, the believer in God and man after God’s own heart, did with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba. I guess maybe the order was reversed – first he reproduced with Uriah’s wife, then had Uriah killed, but the end result is the same.

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

      great point.

    • Len

      Wow – incredible. Where could you possibly have read about that?
      /s

      • epicurus

        Yeah, over the years, both as a Christian and then not, I’ve met quite a few conservative evangelical Christians who maintain the Bible is the perfect complete inspired inerrant word of God, but then sheepishly admit they haven’t read it, or most of it, especially the OT, because it’s, well you know, boring. But they are still quite happy to vote for groups and politicians who espouse good biblical morals.

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

      God punished him for that though-by killing his baby with Bathsheba. Wait… I guess so much for “pro-life”.

      • epicurus

        David didn’t know that punishment was coming – probably thought he could get away with it.

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

          He may have gotten that impression, being God’s annointed king.

        • epicurus

          I suppose John the atheist ( who to my mind sounds like a Christian masquerading as an atheist – not that that has never happened before )would say the David story doesn’t apply because deep down David knew he had to reason to not do bad things, his world view should prevent him from doing those things, he just chose to ignore his world view to get what he wanted, whereas JTA should have no such prohibition in his atheist world view

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

          Well unfortunately I know there are atheists who think this way. Christians happily promote them of course. You’re right, they probably would say that about David. Of course, God apparently had no problem with David taking lots of concubines (it was allowed in the Old Testament) along with multiple wives. So the only problem is that Bathsheba was someone else’s wife, and he got Uriah killed to get her. That still doesn’t explain how killing the baby was just, but they don’t have any problem with God doing that usually.

        • rationalobservations?

          There is no evidence of that and nothing supports the myth that the apparently fictional “Jesus” could qualify as being a/the “messiah”.
          The christian claim is that “Jesus” was the product of a virgin birth, he had no human father – and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David.

          Full biblical chapter and verse evidence that “Jesus” could not be a/the “messiah” further up this column.

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

          True, it contradicts itself by listing his (contradictory) genealogies, among other things.

        • rationalobservations?

          There is no historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus” that originates from within what only became known as the “1st century CE” in what ate the same time became known as the “8th century CE”.

          None of the confused and contradictory legends of “Jesus” (that can be traced to being written by men no earlier than the 3rd century and the two different extant prototype bibles we have that were both written by men at the end of the 4th century (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus)) confirm the fact that “he” could have been the “messiah” and the thousands of differences between those oldest 4th century bibles and the ones in use today may lead most of us to deduce that all bibles are the work of men and none present any evidence of the existence of any of the millions of gods and thousands of god-men invented by men.

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

          Well, there are mentions from Josephus and Tacitus, though those are thin. I’m not sure what you mean by “what at the same time became known as the “8th century CE””.

          I know that, you’re simply preaching to the choir here.

        • Greg G.

          The Testimonium Flavianum has ample evidence of being a forgery. Unless “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ” is referring to Jesus Damneus, mentioned in the next sentence, it would only make sense to Christians, not to Josephus and his Roman readers.

          If Tacitus had referred to Roman records, he would not have used “Christ” as a name, because they would have used the name “Jesus”. He most likely would not have used the title of “procurator” for Pilate, either, since he was a prefect. Either he got the information from Christians who relied on the Gospel of Luke, the only gospel with Pilate’s first name, and the more general Greek word for “governor” that doesn’t specify between “prefect” and “procurator”. At best, the Tacitus quote attests to the existence of second century Christians.

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

          The historical consensus is that it’s partly genuine, i.e. really refers to some Jesus, but that the explicitly Christian praise and the later reference to “who was called Christ.” Of course, this doesn’t tell us much aside from “some guy called Jesus Christ was around”.

          We don’t know where he got that information from. It’s certainly possible he simply passed on what the local Christians thought.

        • rationalobservations?

          Opinion is not evidence of anything but the indoctrination of the opinionated.

          The oldest manuscripts of the works that are merely attributed to Josephus in their original language of Greek date to fabrication in the tenth and eleventh centuries CE. Portions of the works are also quoted in earlier manuscripts by other authors, particularly Eusebius (fourth century). There are also versions in other languages, notably a Latin translation made about the fifth century. These are all codices, (bound books), not scrolls.

          The oldest manuscript of text merely attributed to Tacitus was written around 850 CE in Germany. The first 6 books of the “Annales” survive in a single manuscript, now in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, where it is MS. plut. 68.1. Since this is the library of the Medici prince, Lorenzo the Magnificent, it is naturally called the Codex Mediceus, or M for short.

          There is NOTHING extant that was written by any of the authors to whom the centuries later written texts are merely attributed.

        • Greg G.

          I think The Coincidences of the Emmaus Narrative of Luke and the Testimonium of Josephus
          [Link]
          by Gary J. Goldberg, Ph.D. makes a solid case that the Testimonium Flavianum is related to Luke 24 but his conclusion is flawed. He eliminates chance because of the density and specificity of the coincidences. He eliminates someone copying Luke because it has Josephusisms that he doubts anyone could have mimicked back then. Then he settles on a common source. But the Emmaus Road passage is a summary of the story told in Luke and most of that comes from Mark, so the common source theory is doubtful.

          The Testimonium Flavianum, Eusebius, and Consensus
          [Link]
          by Ken Olson shows that Eusebius used the very phrases that are deemed as being Josephus-like in his own writings, phrases from both the parts thought to be Christian gloss and the parts thought to be authentic.

          If the consensus is based on studies older than a decade, it should be revisited.

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

          Thanks. I admit this is not something that I’ve read a huge amount on, just going by what historians wrote.

        • Greg G.

          Historians seem to have taken the New Testament scholars work as valid but now the historians are beginning to question their methods. The consensus regarding Jesus seems to me to be based more on the consensus itself and not on the evidence. The interpretation of the evidence seems to be leaning more to the consensus than to the evidence, like a butcher with a heavy thumb on the scales.

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

          I thought New Testament scholars were a kind of historian.

        • TheNuszAbides

          highly recommended background on why NT scholarship shenanigans are (a) historically given a pass, (b) intermittently, fairly seen as fraught with conflict of interest:

          https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hermeneutics/

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

          Okay.

        • Greg G.

          I think they like to think of themselves as historians so they come up with criteria to maintain that idea. But historians would be appalled. If they considered Jesus to be a fictional character, they would no longer be historians but experts in one particular type of ancient fiction.

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

          Every historian that I’ve heard of besides Carrier thinks Jesus existed (including non-Christians). Not that they largely accept the Christian view, but they do think it was based on an actual person. Not that this necessarily says much, I realize.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, the consensus says that there was a historical Jesus. But when pushed for the basis for the consensus, most appeal to the consensus. When an attempt is made to look at the evidence, it doesn’t hold up so well. Ehrman wrote a book on it and used Mark, Q, M, L, and John as separate, independent sources. But Q, M, and L are assumed sources based on the assumption that Jesus existed and the independence of Mark and John make the same assumption. But there are matching passages in Mark and John that are obvious fiction, like the Feeding of the 5000, and similar literary techniques, like the sandwich with Jesus on trial and being slapped around being the meat surrounded by the bread of Peter’s denial. That shows that Mark and John are not independent.

          The reason for Q is to explain the similarities between Matthew and Luke without having to explain the differences, which leads to M and L. But Luke copied Mark and rejected large parts of it and substituted other identifiable material. Why couldn’t Luke have used parts of Matthew and rejected parts of it, too? Luke seems to have blended Mark and Matthew, usually favoring Mark except in the central section where there are three major agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark. The central section, Luke 10:1 – 18:14 follows topics from Deuteronomy, Moses’ travel to the Promised Land, for Jesus’ travel to Jerusalem, while drawing things from Mark and Matthew somewhat randomly but according to topic. Luke also has a lot of coincidences with Josephus’ Antiquities and Life, that are concentrated in the 30% or so that does not correspond to Mark and Matthew. There are some independent passages in Luke that have traces of Luke’s preferences like the use of the numbers five and ten, and several other characteristics that appear in changes to Mark and Matthew and the new passages, so it is likely that Luke was capable of writing text independently, too.

          The sources for Mark can be identified and it seems to be an amalgamation by mimesis and midrash of Greek literature, Christian literature, and Hebrew literature and scripture. Not much of Mark is left to oral tradition. The fact that the other gospels rely on Mark means they had little to no oral tradition, as well.

          Then there are the epistles which never mention a teacher or itinerant preacher. All they seem to know about Jesus can be found in the Old Testament. They do not seem to have known about any first century Jesus.

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

          I thought it was agreed now that Mark, Matthew and Luke were not independent at all (the latter two based on the first, that’s why they came them the Synoptics) except for some small parts as you say. When an account repeats most of a previous one, while making a few additions, it’s hardly “independent”.

        • Greg G.

          There are many theories about which of the Synoptics was first. Traditionally, Matthew was first and many claim Luke was first while most think that Mark was first. Moat think that Matthew and Luke used Mark, a Q document, and their own sources. But the idea that Matthew used Mark and Luke used Mark and Matthew is gaining traction. The verbatim agreements are hard to ignore.

          But NT scholars are content to say the sources were oral. But we can see similarities to the literature of the day. Matthew’s nativity story is like Moses nativity story with mass baby killing but it has more in common with Josephus’ account than the OT account. With that in mind we find similar elements of the story in Antiquities 17. The gifts of the Magi are described in the OT as items for the temple, but Josephus also describes them and Matthew lists them in the same order that Josephus does.

          Luke has even more coincidences with Josephus but they are not spread out evenly as if they were mere coincidence. All of the similarities to Josephus are concentrated in the one quarter or one third of Luke that is not from Mark and Matthew. Twenty of the thirty-four historically verified characters in the New Testament are found in Luke and Acts only. The rest of the New Testament has two historically verified characters found in only one book or author. Seventeen of those twenty can be found in the writings of Josephus that we have today. Many of the characters in Acts seem to be mentioned because Josephus mentioned them.

          Many of the stories from Mark appear to be derived from a combination of stories from the Odyssey and the Old Testament. The Feeding of the 5000 and the Feeding of the 4000 show similarities to the the two feasts that Odysseus’ son attended plus the Feeding of the 100 by (Elijah if it is from 1 Kings or Elisha if from 2 Kings). When we see the Feeding of the 5000 in the Gospel of John, it is a sign that it is not independent of Mark.

          Mark never mentions Joseph and John never calls Jesus’ mother by name. Matthew and Luke have both. I suspect that Matthew used John for that information and some other things. I also think Luke knew John but mostly rejected it. I think the Lazarus in Hades story was a rejection of the Lazarus resurrection in John. Abraham’s last line nails it in my opinion.

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

          I thought that the prominent theory now was that Matthew and Luke were based on Mark, along with Q.

          I have heard there were similarities, not only with that but stories of Greek gods (also popular at the time naturally).

          So do you think Luke drew from Josephus? I thought it was felt he wrote earlier. So maybe it was the opposite, or they used common sources?

          I had not heard about the feeding stories, and don’t remember that from the Odyssey/ It has been a long time since reading though.

          Interesting. I wondered about both men being named Lazarus. Abraham’s last line was saying if they wouldn’t believe what the prophets said, they wouldn’t believe if Lazarus came back from the dead, right? So he was saying raising Lazarus was useless you think?

        • Greg G.

          I thought that the prominent theory now was that Matthew and Luke were based on Mark, along with Q.

          Yes, but the Farrer-Goulder theory is getting some more attention. Mark Goodacre makes some good arguments.

          I have heard there were similarities, not only with that but stories of Greek gods (also popular at the time naturally).

          So do you think Luke drew from Josephus? I thought it was felt he wrote earlier. So maybe it was the opposite, or they used common sources?

          I had not heard about the feeding stories, and don’t remember that from the Odyssey/ It has been a long time since reading though.

          If your theory insists that the stories must come from oral traditions, those ideas will not be considered. They want the gospels to be written early enough that the telephone game isn’t too long.

          Jesus in the temple at age 12 in Luke sounds very much like Josephus in the temple at age 14 in Life 2 for one example. In Acts 21:38, the commander thought Paul was the Egyptian who led the Sicarii into the desert. But all of those elements are in the same vicinity in Antiquities of the Jews 20. Gamaliel talks about Judas the Galilean and Theudas, JtG was active at the time of the census when Luke has Jesus born and Theudas was a decade in the future for the setting Gamaliel was in, but Theudas and the sons of Judas the Galilean, with a reminder of his deeds, are mention in consecutive sections.

          Interesting. I wondered about both men being named Lazarus. Abraham’s last line was saying if they wouldn’t believe what the prophets said, they wouldn’t believe if Lazarus came back from the dead, right? So he was saying raising Lazarus was useless you think?

          Yes, I think Luke was saying there was no resurrection of Lazarus. A sentence or two before the mention of “James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ” passage in Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.5 (IIRC), Josephus tells us that Ananus, the chief priest, had five sons who also held the position, and all are mentioned in earlier text. John 18:13 says that Ananus was the father-in-law of Caiaphas. So the rich man in Hades would be Caiaphas begging that Lazarus be sent back to his father’s house to warn his five brothers. Abraham says it wouldn’t work. In John, it didn’t work that way, either.

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

          Looking back over what you read, I think I’d heard of that now. It’s pretty close.

          We’ve seen how false stories could spring up practically overnight, so I don’t think this would help them (take the Angels of Mons, for instance).

          How ironic given they use Josephus for an extra-biblical source on Jesus, if he was a source for a Gospel itself.

          Where does it say the rich man in Hades was Caiaphas? Isn’t this supposed to be when Caiaphas was still alive too?

        • Greg G.

          How ironic given they use Josephus for an extra-biblical source on Jesus, if he was a source for a Gospel itself.

          They do not use Josephus as a source on Jesus but more as a muse for Jesus. Luke uses Josephus as an encyclopedia for names to drop, some for no apparent reason other than they were mentioned in Josephus with someone included in his story, Berenice, for example.

          Where does it say the rich man in Hades was Caiaphas? Isn’t this supposed to be when Caiaphas was still alive too?

          It doesn’t say that, but it can be inferred from the material I mentioned.

          Luke liked to use the number five and ten to one ratios. Matthew 10:29 has two sparrows for a penny while Luke 12:6 has them five for two pennies, for example. The Parable of the Pounds, Luke 19:11-25, tries to start out with ten servants but ends with the three as in Matthew 25:14-30, showing editorial fatigue.

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

          I mean a source of evidence, from his briefly and controversially mentioning Jesus.

          Interesting that they were responding to each other.

        • Greg G.

          The Testimonium Flavianum was added a couple of centuries later but the base layer of it is, ironically, based on the Emmaus Road conversation of Luke 24. The mention of “Christ” in the James passage would only make sense to Christians without a mention of it anywhere else so it was probably not written by Josephus either.

          I can make an argument that the John the Baptist passage may not be original either.

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

          What do most historians think of that? I’ve read many think only part of it was interpolated.

        • rationalobservations?

          The oldest manuscripts of the works that are merely attributed to Josephus in their original language of Greek date to fabrication in the tenth and eleventh centuries CE. Portions of the works are also quoted in earlier manuscripts by other authors, particularly Eusebius (fourth century). There are also versions in other languages, notably a Latin translation made about the fifth century. These are all codices, (bound books), not scrolls.

          The oldest manuscript of text merely attributed to Tacitus was written around 850 CE in Germany. The first 6 books of the “Annales” survive in a single manuscript, now in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, where it is MS. plut. 68.1. Since this is the library of the Medici prince, Lorenzo the Magnificent, it is naturally called the Codex Mediceus, or M for short.

          There is NOTHING extant that was written by any of the authors to whom the centuries later written texts are merely attributed.

        • Greg G.

          We have writings from Origen that quote the part about “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ” and the John the Baptist passage more than once and even together where one would expect him to be including all Christian-related passages. The fact that it lacks any mention of the Testimonium Flavianum, which is now found very near the John the Baptist passage is good evidence that the parts he wrote are authentic to his time. If these passages were inserted 500 or more years later, they would have the TF, too.

          Origen bequeathed his library to the city of Caesarea. Pamphilus of Caesarea became the curator of Origen’s library and he became the mentor of Eusebius of Caesarea. Somehow, Eusebius “found” the TF that Origen “somehow overlooked”. The Testimonium Flavianum, Eusebius, and Consensus by Ken Olson shows that Eusebius was capable of writing that into Josephus’ work in the early fourth century.

        • rationalobservations?

          Where is this evidence provided by Origen conserved and available for forensic verification of its authenticity?

          Even if the 3rd century writer Origen Adamantius did make reference to the prototype mythology of “Jesus” – that would be evidence only of the beginnings of the legend that can be traced as starting in or around the 3rd century as there is no verified and verifiable evidence of any such legends that date as being fabricated within the 1st or 2nd century and those scruffy, semi-literate scrawls on fragments of papyrus that contain the word translated as “Jesus” have doubt cast upon the dating and the previously claimed oldest reference (Rylands Papyrus P52 *) have been recently dated as originating no earlier than the 4th century CE.

          Your references to potentially and probably fraudulent texts written centuries after the deaths of those to whom they are merely attributed cannot be considered evidence of anything but the almost industrial scale or fakery and fraud of those employed by the christian establishment that arose after the 4th century.
          The oldest manuscript of text merely attributed to Tacitus was written around 850 CE in Germany. The first 6 books of the “Annales” survive in a single manuscript, now in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, where it is MS. plut. 68.1. Since this is the library of the Medici prince, Lorenzo the Magnificent, it is naturally called the Codex Mediceus, or M for short.

          The oldest manuscripts of the works that are merely attributed to Josephus in their original language of Greek date to fabrication in the tenth and eleventh centuries CE. Portions of the works are also quoted in earlier manuscripts by other authors, particularly Eusebius (fourth century). There are also versions in other languages, notably a Latin translation made about the fifth century. These are all codices, (bound books), not scrolls.

          There is no authentic and original historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus”.
          You reference to opinion and texts written centuries after the time in which the legends of Jesus are set is NOT EVIDENCE.

        • Greg G.

          Where is this evidence provided by Origen conserved and available for forensic verification of its authenticity?

          I take the text itself as evidence that Origen wrote before Eusebius wrote the Testimonium Flaviaum into Josephus. I think the evidence makes more sense if this stuff was composed over centuries than if it was produced all at once in just a few centuries.

          The Nag Hammadi writings date to the fourth century and they were not written the day before they were hidden in the caves. The Gospel of Thomas was in with them and it appears that many of the sayings are derived from the Gospel of Luke.

          The Gospel of Mark would make more sense if it was written while Vespasian was emperor, as the spit miracles would be recognizable from Vespasian propaganda. The analogy of Jesus getting mad at a tree, then throwing a Temple tantrum, then the tree was found withered, would make Roman citizens think about the city of Jerusalem and the temple being destroyed, as Vespasian would make that known as he began construction of the Colosseum with money from Jerusalem. Mark appears to have used Jewish Wars but not Antiquities of the Jews, whereas Matthew used AJ and Luke used JW, AJ, and Life.

          The Gospel of John mentions a pool with five sides in Jerusalem during the first century. This would not have been known in the fourth to nineteenth centuries. An ancient pool with five sides was discovered there a century or so ago, though.

          The books of Daniel and Isaiah seem to be what Paul was basing his eschatology on. Everything he says about Jesus can be found in the Old Testament. He tells us he did not get his gospel from humans but from the prophetic writings. He tells us emphatically that his knowledge is not inferior to the “super-apostles”. So he didn’t know about any first century Jesus and he knew the “super-apostles” didn’t either. The other general epistles only mention Jesus in OT terms, too. So the epistles are not about the same Jesus that the gospels tell about. The epistles have no preacher/ teacher or his teachings.

          The gospels are made up fictions from the literature that was available during the first century. They are not about a real person.

        • rationalobservations?

          You confirm that there is no original and authentic texts that validate any of the centuries later written legends and propaganda of the 4th century founded religion Romans called “christianity”.
          Any assumption, presumption, speculation or guesses regarding the origin of the later written legends and propaganda fails to offer any validation of the religion founded in 4th century Rome. It only raises the question of why all traces of earlier texts were systematically destroyed.

        • Greg G.

          It is reasonable to assume that the 4th century ideas had roots and that there were competing ideas to those roots. Ignorant Amos posted some documentation showing that the Catholic Church favored writings for making copies and that some writings were destroyed.

          They didn’t have Xerox machines back then and their materials tended to decay, which is why copies had to be made. The ancient copies we have were preserved due to the conditions of their storage.

        • rationalobservations?

          Once again you confirm that there is no evidence that can be found before the extant texts we know of today that were all written centuries after the time in which the confused and contradictory legends of “Jesus” are back dated and in which they are merely set.

          The other indication of the man made nature of christianity is the fact that there are many difference between the oldest/first extant 4th century fabricated bibles (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus) and thousands of differences between the oldest/first extant 4th century fabricated bibles and those we all know today. Codex Sinaiticus has been published on line since 2008 but is still available in the British Library for those who wish to study it in person subject to accreditation and other conditions.
          It is quite fascinating to observe the alterations within Sinaiticus that took place during some centuries of its existence and note the additional barbaric “books” it contains that were excluded from later versions and those we know today.

          It is not only the absence of any single written reference to “Jesus” from within the 1st century CE but the total absolute and complete absence of any evidence of “Jesus” at all that must cast doubt upon those diverse and different, confused and contradictory legends written so many centuries after the time in which they were set and those other different versions of those legends that were written by different generations of men for so many centuries after that.

        • rationalobservations?

          “Well, there are mentions from Josephus and Tacitus, though those are thin.”??
          Where are these writings from Josephus and Tacitus conserved and available for forensic study and evaluation?

          The oldest manuscripts of the works that are merely attributed to Josephus in their original language of Greek date to fabrication in the tenth and eleventh centuries CE. Portions of the works are also quoted in earlier manuscripts by other authors, particularly Eusebius (fourth century). There are also versions in other languages, notably a Latin translation made about the fifth century. These are all codices, (bound books), not scrolls.

          The oldest manuscript of text merely attributed to Tacitus was written around 850 CE in Germany. The first 6 books of the “Annales” survive in a single manuscript, now in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, where it is MS. plut. 68.1. Since this is the library of the Medici prince, Lorenzo the Magnificent, it is naturally called the Codex Mediceus, or M for short.

          There is NOTHING extant that was written by any of the authors to whom the centuries later written texts are merely attributed.

          “I’m not sure what you mean by “what at the same time became known as the “8th century CE””.”

          The calendar we use today was developed in the 6th century but not enforced by any regime of christianity until the 8th century. For the first six centuries since the claimed birth of “Jesus”, European countries used various local systems to count years, most usually regnal years, modeled on the Old Testament and there are many other calendars in use today.
          The year we call 2017 CE is the year 5777 in the Jewish calendar as just one example.

          It’s always a duty and a pleasure to educate and inform., and;
          You’re welcome.

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

          If they are quoted earlier than those centuries you mention, then how can they be fabricated from then?

          The sources that I’ve read do not agree with you on this.

          All right. Of course I knew they didn’t always use that calendar, but your sentence wasn’t clear to me initially.

          No thanks for your “informing”. I’ll take my information from actual historians. Not that I much care whether a historical Jesus existed.

        • rationalobservations?

          “If they are quoted earlier than those centuries you mention, then how can they be fabricated from then?”
          Legends evolve over time and the origin of the Jesus legends is lost in time but cannot be traced back to the 1st or 2nd centuries.

          I make no claims regarding the diverse and different, confused and internally contradictory legends of Jesus that cannot be traced back to earlier than the 3rd century and the brutal enforcement of christianity upon the world in the 4th century that was followed by the late 4th century fabrication of the oldest extant bibles (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus) that are both different from each other and significantly different from modern bibles.

          I know the mythology and the legends better than many but observe that myths and legends written centuries after the time in which they are merely back dated to and in which they are merely set – is not evidence.

          I am familiar with the opinions regarding those myths and legends and again – opinion is not evidence.

          I wonder if you know of any modern, living professional historian who presents any empirical evidence that confirms the existence of “Jesus”? If you do, please name him/her as I have no knowledge of such a person or such people within non indoctrinated theological and actual evidence based historical scholarly circles.
          Name names please.
          Your unsupported claims and inferences carry no weight and are not evidence of anything but the success of your indoctrination..

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

          It seems like you have in fact made some claims. For instance, that these codexes were fabrications.

          Your opinion is also not evidence.

          Are the texts empirical evidence? Name names of those that agree with you.

          Back atcha with the “unsupported claims and inferences”. I am not “indoctrinated” into believing that Jesus exists. Do you remember the “preaching to the choir” part? I’m an atheist. I don’t care whether he existed. This is simply a historical issue.

        • rationalobservations?

          I make no claims, Mike.

          I observe that the Codices (not “codexes”) were manufactured, fabricated, constructed, created, made, produced or any other term for devised by men. If you have another explanation of how they came into existence – by all means present it?

          I present no opinion. I conclude that there is no 1st century originated historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus” because I can find no 1st century originated historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus” and no one else has ever found and presented any 1st century originated historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus”

          You write: “Name names of those that agree with you.”
          Well you agree with me for one since you would have presented 1st century originated historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus” if you knew of any.
          However – you have just agreed with me that opinion is not evidence and have confirmed that fact that no evidence exists.

          If you are an atheist you should be ashamed of yourself, Micky.

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

          Well if the only claim is these were created by humans, then of course I won’t disagree. However, it seems you were specifically claiming all these texts had originated in late centuries with these codexes. That claim is the issue.

          That is an opinion itself, and that’s fine. It’s one that most historians reject.

          I seem to recall presenting some at points before. I agreed opinion alone isn’t evidence, not that there is no evidence.

          Why should I be ashamed? An atheist can also believe there was a historical Jesus (not that I’m committed to it) so long as they don’t think he was divine. You’re the one who talks down to and insults people. I think I’m going to opt out of future exchanges. Thanks for… well, nothing. A very “rational” observer you are.

        • rationalobservations?

          The known facts are that the slight traces of the messianic cults that existed before the creation of the 4th century Roman religion they called “Christianity” were almost all eradicated and the tattered shreds and tiny fragments that mention “Jesus” or appear similar to the 4th century christian bibles that survive cannot be placed as originating in the 1st century. Modern forensics had placed the origin of the previously thought of as oldest fragment of a gospel (Rylands Papyrus P52) as being of no earlier than3rd century origin.

          I prefer to deal in evidence supported facts and the fact remains that there is no historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus” as depicted in centuries later written legends. There is also no historical or archaeological trace of a 1st century “City of Nazareth” beneath the foundations of the modern Jesus theme park town of that name – but that maybe for another debate.

          I retract my sugestion that you should be ashamed of believing in myths and legends that are not supported by a single shred of evidence. Many people do believe in such things – but their number appears to be in sharp and accelerating decline.

          I offer no speculation on the evolution of the legends of “Jesus” but note that there are historical references to several historical “messiahs” between Circa 4 BCE and Circa 140 CE, although “Jesus” is conspicuous by his historical absence from all such records.
          Simon bar Kochbah was hailed as being the messiah in Rabbinical circles in the 3rd decade of the 2nd century and there are coins bearing his image beside a temple with the messianic star overhead in circulation by collectors today. Simon “christ” had a messianic cult following of thousands before leading a Jewish revolt against Roman rule that resulted in his capture and execution.

          https://images.vcoins.com/product_image/200/6/5/6DyXRj5Ke2Se4ctBaX7iL9atWqY3o8.jpg

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

          All right, some facts at last.

          You may well be right about this.

          I don’t believe either way on this. The subject is one I’ll have to learn more about.

          Yes, it’s certainly true there were many claimed messiahs then, far more well known than any historical Jesus, if such existed.

        • rationalobservations?

          With you my work appears to be done.

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

          All right.

        • rationalobservations?

          You are very welcome my friend.
          Live long and prosper.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I’m not sure what you mean by “what at the same time became known as the “8th century CE””.

          he likely meant that it wasn’t technically a ‘first’ century until the calendar was accordingly rigged during the ‘eighth’* century. but as so often happens, ro?’s output trips over itself.

          *also, the practice originated in the 6th, acclerated its spread in the 8th, and [Europe-wise] Portugal didn’t catch up until the 15th.

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

          Yes, he explained.

        • Greg G.

          He was Jesus’ great-great-…..-great-grandfather in at least two lines of descent. Maybe he thought that was a get-out-of-plague card.

        • rationalobservations?

          There is no evidence of that and nothing supports the myth that the apparently fictional “Jesus” could qualify as being a/the “messiah”.
          The christian claim is that “Jesus” was the product of a virgin birth, he had no human father – and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David.

          The word “Messiah” is an English rendering of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which means “anointed.” It usually refers to a person initiated into God’s service by being anointed with oil. (Exodus 29:7, 1-Kings 1:39, 2-Kings 9:3)

          (1) Jesus Did Not Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies
          What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? One of the central themes of biblical prophecy is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4, 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)
          Specifically, the Bible says he will:
          Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
          Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
          Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
          Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: “God will be King over all the world – on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One” (Zechariah 14:9).
          If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be the Messiah.
          Because no one has ever fulfilled the Bible’s description of this future King, Jews still await the coming of the Messiah. All past Messianic claimants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Cochba and Shabbtai Tzvi have been rejected.
          Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming. Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the Bible no concept of a second coming exists.

          (2) Jesus Did Not Embody the Personal Qualifications of Messiah
          A. Messiah as Prophet
          The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses. (Targum – Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides – Teshuva 9:2)
          Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE. During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews remained in Babylon, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets – Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
          Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended, and thus could not be a prophet.
          B. Descendant of David
          Many prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5)
          The Messiah must be descended on his father’s side from King David (see Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father – and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father’s side from King David. (1)
          According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, (2) nor will he possess supernatural qualities.
          C. Torah Observance
          The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)
          Throughout the Christian “New Testament,” Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), “He does not observe Shabbat!”

          (3) Mistranslated Verses “Referring” to Jesus
          Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text – which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.
          A. Virgin Birth
          The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an “alma” as giving birth. The word “alma” has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as “virgin.” This accords Jesus’ birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.
          B. Suffering Servant
          Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the “suffering servant.”
          In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews (“Israel”) are regarded as one unit. Throughout Jewish scripture, Israel is repeatedly called, in the singular, the “Servant of God” (see Isaiah 43:8). In fact, Isaiah states no less than 11 times in the chapters prior to 53 that the Servant of God is Israel.
          When read correctly, Isaiah 53 clearly [and ironically] refers to the Jewish people being “bruised, crushed and as sheep brought to slaughter” at the hands of the nations of the world. These descriptions are used throughout Jewish scripture to graphically describe the suffering of the Jewish people (see Psalm 44).
          Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed, the nations will recognize and accept responsibility for the inordinate suffering and death of the Jews.

          FOOTNOTES
          (1) In response, it is claimed that Joseph adopted Jesus, and passed on his genealogy via adoption. There are two problems with this claim:
          a) There is no biblical basis for the idea of a father passing on his tribal line by adoption. A priest who adopts a son from another tribe cannot make him a priest by adoption.

          b) Joseph could never pass on by adoption that which he doesn’t have. Because Joseph descended from Jeconiah (Matthew 1:11) he fell under the curse of that king that none of his descendants could ever sit as king upon the throne of David (Jeremiah 22:30; 36:30). (Although Jeconiah repented as discussed in Talmud Sanhedrin 37a and elsewhere, it’s not at all clear from the early sources that his repentance was accepted to the degree that the royal line continued through him. See e.g. Bereishit Rabbah 98:7 that the line continued through Zedekiah.)
          To answer this difficult problem, apologists claim that Jesus traces himself back to King David through his mother Mary, who allegedly descends from David, as shown in the third chapter of Luke. There are four basic problems with this claim:
          a) There is no evidence that Mary descends from David. The third chapter of Luke traces Joseph’s genealogy, not Mary’s.

          b) Even if Mary can trace herself back to David, that doesn’t help Jesus, since tribal affiliation goes only through the father, not mother. cf. Numbers 1:18; Ezra 2:59.

          c) Even if family line could go through the mother, Mary was not from a legitimate messianic family. According to the Bible, the Messiah must be a descendent of David through his son Solomon (2-Samuel 7:14; 1-Chronicles 17:11-14, 22:9-10, 28:4-6). The third chapter of Luke is irrelevant to this discussion because it describes lineage of David’s son Nathan, not Solomon. (Luke 3:31)

          d) Luke 3:27 lists Shealtiel and Zerubbabel in his genealogy. These two also appear in Matthew 1:12 as descendants of the cursed Jeconiah. If Mary descends from them, it would also disqualify her from being a messianic progenitor.

        • Greg G.

          But the gospel writers were a different generation of Christians. The epistle writers saw Jesus in the writings of the prophets as someone who suffered and died in their distant past. That is why the early epistles only speak of Jesus from information in the Old Testament. Those epistles are not talking about a first century Jesus who got crucified. They thought that person who died and intercesses for sins in Isaiah 53 was going to come back as the Messiah to bring the Kingdom of God/Heaven.

          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.

          _____________________________________________________
          Philippians 2:5-11 (NRSV)

          Isaiah or Deuteronomy Reference

          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.

          Some claims from the General Epistles
          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

        • rationalobservations?

          Your entry fails to justify the evidence against any possibility of “Jesus” being “the messiah”.
          Unless a man me each and every specification and fulfilled all the original Hebrew/Jewish prophesies – he could not be “the messiah”.
          Take another look through my previous entry and you will find chapter and verse detailed information regarding what the messiah must be and do.

          Many christians attempt to hijack any reference to the “lord” or the “messiah” and conflate it to the legends of their god-man Jesus. That always fails.

        • Greg G.

          Your entry fails to justify the evidence against any possibility of “Jesus” being “the messiah”.

          My argument is that there never was such a Jesus, therefore he could not be a messiah or anything else. The epistles show that Jesus was imagined to have existed because the authors were reading Isaiah 53 as if the Suffering Servant had been a real person. The Gospel of Mark may have been written tongue-in-cheek and set the imaginary Jesus a generation earlier. The fact that the epistles never speak of a first century Jesus is evidence that they are not about a first century Jesus. They only mention him with references to the Old Testament or as a heavenly being, which also was inferred from the OT.

          The records we have received indicate that there was great diversity in Christian belief system in the second century. Some didn’t believe Jesus existed, some didn’t believe he was a corporeal being. Some did think he was real. It looks like Paul and the circumcision faction (Cephas, James, and John, et al) disagreed on both circumcision and crucifixion.

          Take another look through my previous entry and you will find chapter and verse detailed information regarding what the messiah must be and do.

          I like the list but Jesus is irrelevant. He fulfilled exactly as many of the requirements that Bruce Wayne did: zero. And for the same reason: they are fictional characters.

  • eric

    I’m late to the game here, but these “John” ruminations seem to be in the category of apologetics intended for Christian reader mollification more than as arguments to be used with/on nonbelievers.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Yes, that’s the way it goes.
      Time marches on, and apologetics consists of Christians circling the wagons.

  • PacMan

    Wallace concludes, “As it turns out, theism provides the consistent moral foundation missing from John’s atheistic worldview.”

    Only if you define “theism” to mean one particular religion, otherwise it encompasses a wide variety of INconsistent moral views.

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

      Even then it’s inconsistent.

  • smrnda

    “John says that “there is nothing in my world that stops me from killing you and reproducing with your wife” (that’s not an atheist, that’s a sociopath).”

    Actually, there are these things called ‘laws’ as well as police, courts and jails that are stopping John right now. In fact, they’re probably enough to stop this hypothetical “John” from speeding, littering, smoking in a non-smoking area or shoplifting, much more minor offenses than murder. What’s stopping John are consequences put in place because people generally don’t like chaos. We like orderly roads, clean places, and for people not to lift shit from the corner store or expose themselves on the subway. Even when laws are totally arbitrary like what side of the street you drive on, people generally follow these laws. I mean, so far, no gods have struck people with lighting bolts or anything for any of the bad shit they’ve done, but make a nuisance of yourself, and you’ll be sorry because you’ll likely get in trouble.

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

    “I wonder why he accepts John’s nutty view of morality rather than those of many other atheists whose views contradict that—me, for instance.”

    Because it can support his own conclusion, obviously. This is sadly typical, cherry-picking people who agree with you.

    • http://webpages.charter.net/silkroad/ kermit

      One of my philosophy teachers said that fundamentalists really didn’t like him. They liked the Jack Chick atheists, like John. Foul-mouthed and unshaven are preferred, mean and crude also, although amorality is essential. But a university professor who pays his bills, has healthy, sane children, is well-dressed, well-behaved, and content? Those are dangerous people.

      John and worse are excellent bad examples.

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

        I’ve actually seen people become upset at finding good examples from opponents. They seem to demand that those people accept their stereotypes. If not, you’re in denial, even dishonest.

  • rationalobservations?

    The rear guard offensive of the rump of religionists in the peaceful, free, educated and predominantly secular developed world appears pitiful and is offensive on any evidence supported analytical appraisal. Those remaining religionists have little claim upon any moral high ground since their blood soaked history of anti-humanitarian barbarity and modern day demands for superior treatment from and to the rest of us cannot be the acts of a peaceful and humanitarian human cohort.
    The third largest and fastest growing human cohort is comprised of secularist non believers in magic and super-spooks and fewer than 18% of Americans and fewer than 6% of Europeans remain active members of any business, cult or sect of religion.
    The clincher that confounds all those smug but delusional religionists is the fact that the annual “Peace Index” shows that the top ten most peaceful nations in the history of mankind are also the ten least religious nations in human history.
    Atheists are not only good without god.., we are better.

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

        Thanks for adding the wiki links, Bob.
        Anyone interested in assessing the evidence of the decline in religion and benefits to humanity that have resulted from that decline will find millions of pages of evidence if they Google sensible key words and ignore the religionist lie factories that pollute the web.

        We join the growing majority of citizens of the developed world in having need of no belief in (or fear of) your fictional “Yahweh” and/or “Jesus” to have lived a long, happy, healthy and blameless life of service to my loving family and to humanity.

        I have spent (wasted?) thousands of hours over the course of several decades researching the evidence that would validate the content of any of the diverse and different, confused and internally contradictory, historically inaccurate and scientifically absurd christian produced bibles back to the oldest/first extant bibles written by small teams of men in the late 4th century and studying the tattered and semi-literate scrawl written on tattered tiny scraps of papyri that are increasingly being forensically dated as originating from not long before the oldest/first 4th century bibles were fabricated.

        If any religionists reading this have actual, verifiable, authentic and authenticated 1st century originated evidence of anything contained within those bibles that were all written centuries later – I would be delighted to learn of it. All I have discovered are self evidently interpolated texts written by anonymous scribes many centuries after the deaths of those to whom they are merely attributed.

        In the case of “Jesus” and the slowly evolved legends of “Jesus” that started to appear centuries after the time in which they are merely set – there is no evidence at all that supports those legends. There is no mention of “Jesus” in any 1st century originated Hebrew, Greek or Roman/Latin letter, no mention on any graffito, no mention upon any artifact and no indication upon any archaeological residue. Nothing!

        All we have are later written fables that are unique to one set of diverse and different human written books called “bibles”.

        The abandonment of religion all across the free, predominantly secular, democratic developed western world has brought unprecedented peace to those nations in which religion is now treated as a bizarre anachronism and the rapidly declining rump of the religious as quirky and gullible eccentrics.

        It is worth repeating:
        The annually published “Global Peace Index” has proved that the top ten most peaceful and law abiding nations in the history of our very recently evolved species of ape are also the least religious nations in all human history. This would appear to prove that we are not only “good without god(s)” (and self serving religions) – we are better..

  • Fred Knight

    ouch, that was a hard hitting critique, I’m scrambling to find a substantial response…I may have to eat it on this one.