The Historicity of Jesus

I’m no Jesus expert, but David Fitzgerald has been studying his existence for over a decade. He’s just released a new book: Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All.

Check out the exclusive excerpt below and stick around for a chance to win a free copy of the book!

Didn’t There Have to Have Been a Jesus?

Most people have never heard of the ancient Greek mythographer Euhemerus, who first theorized that the gods of mythology were deified human beings, and their myths based on legends sprung from accounts of real people and events. So many might be surprised to find that they are Euhemerists on the subject of Jesus. That is to say, though they may not believe Jesus was the divine Christ that Christianity venerates as the Son of God and savior of the world, and may regard accounts of the miracles and wonders attending him as mere legendary accretion, nevertheless they certainly believe there had to have been a central figure that began Christianity.

Perhaps he was just a wandering teacher or an exorcist, an apocalyptic prophet or a zealot who opposed the Romans. Perhaps he was all these things, or even a composite of several such early first-century figures; but at any rate, surely there had to be somebody at the original core of Christianity, arguably the most famous individual in human history. All this seems to be a perfectly reasonable, completely natural assumption to make -– so why would anyone be so foolish as to propose that Jesus never existed?

Doesn’t it just make more sense to assume that there was a historical Jesus, even if we are unable to recover the real facts about his life and death? As it turns out, no. The opposite is true: the closer we look at the evidence for Jesus, the less solid evidence we find; and the more we find suspicious silences and curious resemblances to the pagan and Jewish religious ideas and philosophies that preceded Christianity. And once you begins to parse out the origins of this tradition or that teaching from their various sources, the sweater begins unraveling quickly until it becomes very difficult to buy that there ever was –- or even could have been –- any historical figure at the center.

Christianity, like all religious movements, was born from mythmaking; and nowhere is this clearer than when we examine the context from which Jesus sprang. The supposed historical underpinning of Jesus, which apologists insist differentiates their Christ from the myriad other savior gods and divine sons of the ancient pagan world, simply does not hold up to investigation.

On the contrary, the closer we examine the official story, or rather stories, of Christianity (or Christianities!), the quicker it becomes apparent that the figure of the historical Jesus has traveled with a bodyguard of widely accepted, seldom examined untruths for over two millennia…

It’s true enough that the majority of Biblical historians do not question the historicity of Jesus -– but then again, the majority of Biblical historians have always been Christian preachers, so what else could we expect them to say? For all their bluster, the truth is that for as long as there have been Christian writings, there have been critics who have disputed Christian claims and called events from the Gospel stories into question. And since at least the 18th century a growing number of historians have raised serious problems that cast Jesus’ historicity into outright doubt, as we’ll see.

Jesus vs. Julius Caesar

For instance, historian Richard Carrier has pointed out the problems with Christian apologist Douglas Geivett’s claim that the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection meets “the highest standards of historical inquiry,” and is as certain as Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C.E. Carrier notes, “Well, it is common in Christian apologetics, throughout history, to make absurdly exaggerated claims, and this is no exception.” Then he compares the evidence for both events:

First of all, we have Caesar’s own account. In contrast, we have nothing written by Jesus, and we do not know who really wrote any of the Gospels. Second, many of Caesar’s enemies reported the crossing of the Rubicon. But we have no hostile or even neutral records of the resurrection until over a hundred years after the supposed event, fifty years after Christian beliefs had become widely known. Third, there are numerous inscriptions, coins, mentions of battles, conscriptions and judgments, which form an almost continuous chain of evidence for Caesar’s entire march. But there is no physical evidence of any kind in the case of Jesus.

Fourth, almost every historian of the period reports the Rubicon crossing, including the most prominent of the Roman age: Suetonius, Appian, Cassius Dio and Plutarch. Moreover, these scholars have shown proven reliability, since a great many of their reports on other matters have been confirmed with material evidence and in other sources. In addition, they all quote and name many different sources, showing a wide reading of the witnesses and documents, and they consistently show a desire to critically examine claims for which there is any dispute. If that wasn’t enough, all of them cite or quote sources written by witnesses, hostile and friendly, of the Rubicon crossing and its repercussions.

But not a single historian mentions the resurrection until the 3rd and 4th centuries, and then only Christian historians. Of the anonymous Gospel authors, only “Luke” even claims to be writing history, but neither Luke nor any of the others ever cite any other sources or show signs of a skilled or critical examination of conflicting claims. None have any other literature or scholarship to their credit that we can test for their skill and accuracy. Their actual identities are completely unknown, and all overtly declare their bias towards persuading new converts.

Finally, the Roman Civil War could not have proceeded as it did if Caesar had not physically crossed the Rubicon with his army into Italy and captured Rome. Yet the only thing necessary to explain the rise of Christianity is a belief — a belief that the resurrection happened. There is nothing that an actual resurrection would have caused that could not have been caused by a mere belief in that resurrection. Thus, an actual resurrection is not necessary to explain all subsequent history, unlike Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon. Carrier concludes that while we have many reasons to believe that Caesar crossed the Rubicon, all of them are lacking in the case of the resurrection:

“In fact, when we compare all five points, we see that in four of the five proofs of an event’s historicity, the resurrection has no evidence at all, and in the one proof that it does have, it has not the best, but the very worst kind of evidence — a handful of biased, uncritical, unscholarly, unknown, second-hand witnesses. Indeed, you really have to look hard to find another event that is in a worse condition than this as far as evidence goes.”

So even before we begin to examine Jesus’ resurrection, we are forced to recognize that the historical evidence for it, and all the other extraordinary events of Jesus’ career, is not only far from ironclad, but already suspect. So there is nothing unreasonable about taking a skeptical approach to the Gospels’ image of Jesus in the first place. And it’s important to note that we are not just talking about the divine man-god Jesus coming under fire, because it is not just the supernatural aspects of Jesus that have come under suspicion. Even the mundane and perfectly plausible-sounding aspects of Jesus’ life have proved to be problematic…

Want a free copy of the book?

All you have to do is name another historical figure who may not have existed… along with your evidence! The more amusing, the better :)

Put the word “spork” at the end of your response if you’d like to be considered for the prize. (You must live in the U.S.)

A random drawing will occur next week.

In the meantime, you can learn more about the book on its Facebook page.

  • Brendan

    Socrates.

    There is no direct evidence of Socrates ever existing. We have no writings from him directly and the only contemporary accounts are from his student Plato and Plato’s student Aristotle.

    Spork.

  • gwen

    There is no direct evidence of the historical existence of either Robin Hood, or King Arthur with his round table, or William Tell and his apple.
    Spork

  • mkb

    The two that come to mind are Shakespeare and Marco Polo and isn’t lack of evidence what is relevant, not evidence? The things that call Marco Polo into quesstion are the lack of mention of him in Kublai Khan’s records, the fact that he didn’t mention such things as the Great Wall or chopsticks in his book (he didn’t notice them? didn’t think that they were noteworthy?) and the lack of any portrait that is definitely of him. I’ll leave Shakespeare to others. spork

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    *flashback to hihschool*

    something about Kubla Khan and his pleasure dome?

  • ManaCostly

    “You must live in the U.S.”

    INTERNET RAGE

    Nice book tho.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    This book looks awesome. I’m adding it to my wishlist for Crimbo.

    King Arthur and Merlin are obvious choices as is Robin Hood. There’s also Peter Pan, Alice (of Wonderland fame), Hamlet and a host of others.

    However I’m going to choose Baba Yaga. The evidence is clear. Even today copies of her famous house that walked about on legs can be found in Siberia. There is much in the way of folklore that supports her life despite modern interpretations in film, television and computer gaming.

    Baba Yaga is celebrated in symphonic poem by Anatoly Lyadov whcih was composed between 1890 and 1904. Tchaikovsky wrote a piece called “The Witch – Baba Yaga”. Why else would composers concentrate on her is she was not real. Clearly she inspired great works. Even today writers such as Tad Williams, Fritz Leiber and Mike Mignola use the life of Baba Yaga in their works. Recently Hayao Miyazaki’s produced a film “Howl’s Moving Castle” that drew inspiration from Baba Yaga’s famous hut.

    What more proof do you need?

    Sadly I’m not a US citizen so I don’t get to enter the competition.

  • nankay

    Fiona,
    no that was Mad Max. Oh wait.that’s not it either.

  • Iason Ouabache

    Joseph Smith. Because there is no way anyone would be stupid enough to believe that someone could translate ancient gold plates by staring into a hat.

  • kungfu

    Hemant Mehta.

    This fictional character has never actually been spotted in the wild, despite numerous reports throughout the self-proclaimed “skeptical” community. Thorough study of all alleged photographs reveals the obvious use of Photoshop. The pics are really just Kal Penn, aka Kumar, with a few tweaks to make him look more acceptable to Westerners who couldn’t tell the difference anyway. I can tell by looking at some of the pixels and having seen quite a few ‘shops in my time.

    And the blog, books, and newspaper column? All fake. I have my suspicions about PZ as well.

    spork spork spork

  • http://dofang.tumblr.com Dofang

    I look forward to digging into this book, with a … spork.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    Mother Goose:
    It was claimed by relatives that Elizabeth (Foster) Goose – b. Boston, 1665 – was the original “Mother Goose”.
    It’s simply not so. Mother Goose never existed. Oh, there WAS an Elizabeth Goose, but she didn’t write a single rhyme of the book which was allegedly named after her.
    The original collection of rhymes and tales were written by a Frenchman named Charles Perrault in 1696(7) – the same Charles Perrault that wrote Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
    Source: Legends, Lies and Cherished Myths of American History, Richard Shenkman, William Morrow and Company, 1988
    Spork

  • http://intwaste.blogspot.com Dale Cope

    I would like to put Homer, the author of the Iliad and Odyssey. All we have are these two works attributed to an author that we otherwise have no evidence existed. It is possible that the authors of the works were attributed after the fact and the stories themselves likely composites and the true authorship lost. Either way, we can’t prove or disprove the existence of an author named Homer being the actual author.

    Spork

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com GDad

    A book on Jesus
    But not supporting the myth
    Read holding a spork

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster


    All you have to do is name another historical figure who may not have existed… along with your evidence!

    *Ahem*

  • J. J. Ramsey

    How about Moses? All the works testifying to his existence date from hundreds of years after the fact, and the Exodus that he supposedly led has no archaeological basis?

    Contrast this with Jesus, where offhand references to one or more of his brothers are not only made in two of Paul’s letters, but in Josephus’ Antiquities 20:9:1 (a.k.a. Antiquities 20:200, and not to be confused with the more controversial Testimonium Flavianum), and all of these references date from the first century.

    Spork

  • http://andrewfinden.com/findothinks/ Andrew

    It’s true enough that the majority of Biblical historians do not question the historicity of Jesus -– but then again, the majority of Biblical historians have always been Christian preachers, so what else could we expect them to say?

    Oh dear..

    Ignoring the false assumption that biblical scholars = preachers, the reality is that it is not only biblical historians, but the general historical consensus that accepts an historical Jesus. This seems to be little more than fringe arguments redux (indeed, this extract is relying heavily on a fringe figure – read someone like Hengel or Judge for people who are at the top of their profession!).

    I simply don’t understand why so many Atheists feel the need to not simply reject the miraculous claims but push against the scholarly consensus in trying to assert that Jesus never even existed?
    To borrow Shakespeare:

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  • Beaker

    This is a horrible entry, but I’m going with The Swedish Chef. Only so I can say “hurr de durr de durr de durr de durr, spork, spork, spork!”

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I simply don’t understand why so many Atheists feel the need to not simply reject the miraculous claims but push against the scholarly consensus in trying to assert that Hercules never even existed?

    Do you not understand the parallel here? The only difference is a 2,000-year-old tradition that asserts it wasn’t a myth.

    I think that there’s no evidence that a prominent atheist named Richard Dawkins ever existed. After all, the man who wrote The God Delusion is named Clinton Richard Dawkins. Clearly not the same person.

  • gsw

    Re: Robin Hood
    There appears to be some evidence to the existence of Robert Fitz Odo, also known as Robin of Loxley or Robin of the Wood.
    Along with Maid Marian, who was believed to be the Maid of Britain (a pagan title), he ruled as Lord of the Woods (another pagan title).

    So, not Spork, the opposite in fact. I shall just have to buy the book!

  • http://chunkymonkeymind.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

    George Washington could not tell a lie . . . therefore, he could not exist.

    Spork

  • Valhar2000

    I simply don’t understand why so many Atheists feel the need to not simply reject the miraculous claims but push against the scholarly consensus in trying to assert that Jesus never even existed?

    Because very obvious and reasonable objections are never answered, except with derision and demands to read other people’s books?

  • Joseph

    Alhazred H.P. Lovecraft’s mad Arab the evidence is that he was was written about by a sci fi/horror writer lol

    spork

  • Joseph

    None of these characters – Robin Hood, Merlin,etc. – claimed to be the son of God. Whether they existed or not is not going to affect the lives of people. It’s another matter with Jesus. There are 2 billion people who claim to be christians. If Jesus is not the son of God, the lives of these people would drastically change.

  • Ross

    Darth Vader. In the Star Wars documentary, it is asserted that vader’s presence influenced the tide of every battle, but with so few corroborating stories of co extant people, like jesus, and unlike caesar his presence was not required for an empire to lose to a few rebels. Its more likely he was a bogeyman created by the rebels to get converts. Like satan, who us also a fraud.

    Spork

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    George W. Bush

    Apparently George W. Bush never existed. Anything that was previously attributed to Bush, such as the Iraq War, Wall St. bail-outs, the flailing economy, etc., are now being attributed to President Obama. Therefore, the claims by historians such as Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly that it wasn’t Bush that was responsible for any of those, but it was really Obama, lend credibility to the theory that Bush never existed at all.

    Scientists even agree that no human in the history of the planet could have ever been as dim-witted, ignorant, and idiotic as this supposed “Bush” was claimed to have been.

    spork

  • brad

    As for Obama, there continues to be no evidence that he exists, despite the claims of various left-wing liberals and the sided media. While a birth certificate was presented, it was found to be a clever forgery – and not even what the president himself claimed was a “birth certificate” – but only a certificate of live birth. This document, as we know, was used by the historical Jesus figure to enter the US in 1820 to speak to Joseph Smith. Joseph then placed a rock in a hat and translated the word of God through rockmosis.

    While there is some dispute to Smith’s claim that Jesus “proved” his residence and citzenship, religious primary sources have reported by various men that his birth actually took place outside of the US, in a manger, with no crib for his bed. This, according to scholars, is where jesus truly lay down his sweet head.

    For some scholars, the recent discovery of a star appearing in the sky on August 4th, 1961 above Kenya can be seen as further evidence of Obama’s birth. However, all writings concerning the star – including that of three men who are now camel and luggage salesmen in Uzbekistan, and the writings of Biff, Chip, Duke and Brad – have been seriously questioned as reliable sources of primary accounts.

    spork

  • http://chunkymonkeymind.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

    Siddhartha Gautama. What we know of him comes of Buddhist writings long, long after the so-called fact.

    Here’s a koan for you: All that exists spring from that which doesn’t exist.

  • Robert Tobin

    There is no evidence the “Virgin” Mary ever existed. She was based on the Egyptian “Virgin” Isis whose son Horus is the basis for the myth of Jesus.
    Just about all Christianity is plagiarised from Egyptian Astrotheology.

  • Danielle

    Looks more in depth than The God Who Wasn’t There. Nice.

    Spork

  • Fernando Santagata

    At the alleged time of the Resurrection there were about 40 historians in the Roman Empire, at least 4 of them in the middle east area.
    Although they were usually quite thorough in their reports, bordering gossip, they never mentioned any Jesus wandering and doing miracles, or any resurrection, or “Massacre of the Innocents” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Innocents#Historicity).
    While it’s difficult to understand why a historian might overlook a resurrection (or a series of other miracles), it’s quite impossible to believe that they might have missed a massacre of that proportion entirely!

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Xenu (or Xemu) – the tyrant ruler of the “Galactic Confederacy” who brought billions of his people to Earth in DC-8 like spacecraft 75 million years ago. He positioned the people near volcanoes and then killed them all with hydrogen bombs. The essence of these people remained, though, and form around modern people and cause psychological harm. This obviously explains all mental illness and psychological disorders. Fortunately, help is possible and it is possible to get “cleared” of these “thetans” though it is not cheap.

    Spork

  • Cheryl

    Kilroy. A WWII graffiti figure – “Kilroy was here”. Hitler believed there was an elite America spy named Kilroy after Natzi troups reported seeing the graffiti. Some US vets even claimed to have known the original Kilroy but it was never verified such a person existed.

    Now someone needs to prove the “spork” came from the mating of a spoon and a fork. I thought those were separate species incapable of cross-breeding.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Valhar2000:

    Because very obvious and reasonable objections are never answered

    What “obvious and reasonable objections” are those?

  • Bob Hodgen

    Jesus may have been invented by the Romans as an attempt at social engineering to pacify militant Jews. “Turn the other cheek” and “render unto Caesar” are examples.

    Read “Caesar’s Messiah” by Joseph Atwill.

    http://www.caesarsmessiah.com/Books/books.html

    Quote from website:

    “..According to Atwill, the Gospels are not accounts of the ministry of a historical Jewish Jesus compiled by his followers sixty years after his death. They are texts deliberately created to trick Messianic Jews into worshipping the Roman Emperor ‘in disguise’.

    The essence of Atwill’s discovery is that the majority of the key events in the life of Jesus are in fact satirical: each is an elegant literary play on a military battle in which the Jewish armies had been defeated by the Romans. This is an extraordinary claim-but supported by all the necessary evidence…”

    spork

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    @Yet Another Atheist,
    Sheer brilliance…you made my day!

  • Mike

    @Palaverer: Damn, you stole my idea.

    I vote for Buddha!

    Reason: All his teachings were passed on through the oral tradition until centuries after his alleged death and then were only recorded in Pali, a language he never spoke. Interestingly, there is at least one mention in the Pali canon attributed directly to the Tathagata himself (please don’t ask for a citation) where he says that if he hadn’t existed at all, it would change nothing since it was the message, not the man, that matters. Most serious Buddhists I know seem to feel the same way. When was the last time a Christian or Muslim said that?

    Oh, yeah: Spork

  • stogoe

    Well, the first one comes to mind is Stop Using the Argument from Authority Fallacy, JJ.

  • littlejohn

    Johnny Appleseed.
    Yeah, I know, John did exist, but he wasn’t the fruit fancier with the cook-pan hat portrayed today.
    He and his seeds were welcomed because the apples that resulted were too sour to eat. But they were fine for making apple brandy, or applejack, at a time in American history when getting drunk was our principal activity. Spork.

  • Dave

    Adam and Eve.

    Spork. Spork. Spork.

  • http://endcycle.blogspot.com endcycle

    Honestly, the only historical figure that I can think of who definitely did NOT exist is Big Bird.

    Proof? All the acid I did as a teenager. Seriously. I feel lucky that a big yellow bird is the strangest thing I saw.

    whew.

    oh, and
    SPORK.

  • aerie

    Great play on words in the title of the book. I’m a huge fan of teh blasphemy =). It being the only ‘unforgivable sin’ for a born again believer as taught to me by the southern baptist evangifundimental church I was forced to attend (although the pastor seemed to think secular humanism was the vile root of all evil).

  • http://sesoron.blogspot.com/ Sesoron

    Earlier Roman histories give detailed accounts of the Seven Kings, from Romulus up through the eventually overthrown Etruscan tyrant Tarquinius Superbus. In fact, all of these figures fall within a period that can easily be considered “legendary”. Historians do not doubt that there was a monarchy that preceded the Roman republic, and that it probably contained a series of Etruscan rulers — after all, that district was more influential at that time than the neighboring Latins themselves were. Romulus himself was said to be the son of Mars and a Vestal Virgin, who was herself the descendant of Venus and one of the world’s luckiest supporting characters, so his historicity must be directly questioned. In any case, the precise details set down by Livy aren’t held up by our best archaeology, nor are they corroborated by non-Roman sources. But the founding date of 753 BCE is little less reliable than 509 BCE for Tarquin’s overthrow and the foundation of the republic: neither can be said to hold any more water than the wildly apocryphal account that the final blow to Caesar from Brutus was delivered not with a knife but with a spork.

  • Mark C.

    Bruce Lee never existed. The last movies said to star him were actually made or finished after his supposed death. Obviously, then, the other movies could have been made without a real person at the center. More evidence includes the following: no one can be ultra skinny AND muscular, all martial arts are ancient and so his jeet kun do couldn’t have existed, and no one can move their mouth like he could in movies and legitimately claim to be speaking English. Thus, he never existed.

    But the real clincher is that Chuck Norris was in one of the movies and got his ass kicked. In fact, Bruce is said to have broken some of Chuck’s ribs. Since it is impossible for Chuck Norris to get hurt or lose a battle, it is also impossible for anyone to exist who could beat Chuck Norris. This is the final nail in the coffin in the case against the existence of Bruce Lee.

    Stop trying to conjure Bruce Lee into existence. You just secretly hate Chuck Norris and want to rebel against him. I know Chuck Norris could never be beaten, because I have faith that it is so.

    spork

  • http://thechristianitydialogue.com Nicholas Searcy

    Atheists can not exist because negatives can not be proven.

    Hand me that spork.

  • Nick

    Arthur of Camelot; no proof other than a semi-decent French storyteller and some British copy-cats.

    Socrates; Plato is the first to write about him and there is no evidence of any works of Socrates every existing outside Plato’s works.

    Moses; no Egyptian or other non-Jewish sources exist. No Red Sea evidence or manna in the desert evidence. Nor is there evidence of lost Jews wandering around in Sinai

    sporkity spork spork spork

  • Mark C.

    Repost with edits it wouldn’t let me do even though I clicked “Click to Edit” with 5 seconds left (*sigh*):

    Bruce Lee never existed. The last movies said to star him were actually made or finished after his supposed death. Obviously, then, the other movies could have been made without a real person at the center. More evidence includes the following: no one can be ultra skinny AND muscular, all martial arts are ancient and so his jeet kun do couldn’t have existed, and no one can move their mouth like he could in movies and legitimately claim to be speaking English. Thus, he never existed.

    But the real clincher is that Chuck Norris was in one of the movies and got his ass kicked. In fact, Bruce is said to have broken some of Chuck’s ribs. Since it is impossible for Chuck Norris to get hurt or lose a battle, it is also impossible for anyone to exist who could beat Chuck Norris. This is the final nail in the coffin in the case against the existence of Bruce Lee.

    Stop trying to conjure Bruce Lee into existence. You just secretly hate Chuck Norris and want to rebel against him. I know Chuck Norris could never be beaten, because of his self-authenticating witness. He said the bout never happened. He said it, I believe it, that settles it.

    spork

  • Thegoodman

    Adam and his lovely concubine, Eve

    Neither of these individuals existed. Knowing what we know about evolution and genetics; it is impossible that the entire human race of 7 billion people are decedents of just 2 homo sapiens.

    Spork

  • ACN

    King David.

    People (even some jewish historians) believe he is a historical figure, but there is no good evidence that he ever existed. The only explicit evidence we have come from the bible, which has the same quantity of external evidence as the Arthurian legends.

    For example, the remains of the City of David, the core of Jerusalem from which David and Solomon were said to reign, were investigated extensively by the Hebrew University. They uncovered no evidence of occupation during the 10th century BC. Scholars from the HU believe that the archaeological evidence from surface surveys indicates that Judah at the time of David was a small tribal kingdom, certainly not the great state it is made out to be in the biblical account.

    There appears to be no more evidence for King David than for King Arthur.

  • Jeff Handy

    Even though this subject has been sporked to death, I find myself still intrigued with new angles of the same spork.

  • Ubi Dubium

    Nobody has said Homer yet? And don’t forget Aesop and Beedle the Bard. Probably all just traditional attributions that are convenient for giving a name to a body of work built up over time.

    Spork.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    stogoe:

    Well, the first one comes to mind is Stop Using the Argument from Authority Fallacy, JJ.

    Except that not all appeal to expert opinion is fallacious.

  • http://www.eselby.com/blog Ed Selby

    Outside of government documents claiming such, there is no proof that I exist. Sure there is a “certificate of birth abroad”, driver’s license, passport, voter card, but no non-government independent documentation of my existence.

    spork

  • Stephen

    James T. Kirk: there is no way someone could have been that cool, sexy and posses all those leadership qualities; and have a Vulcan as a best friend!

    SPOCK, oops I meant SPORK

  • Dan

    I can’t trust him.

    He uses the papyrus font. Ew.

  • Erp

    Couple of points. One Aristophanes also mentions Socrates (and not in flattering terms). Two I believe we do have some archaeological evidence for a ‘house of David’ though the king David we know of is mostly legends. Personally I’m inclined to think Jesus also existed though what we know is mostly legend (being executed is probably the firmest fact). One does have to explain the start of a Christian community (and one that seems to have had early splits and not strictly Pauline). spork

  • Thomas

    King Arthur

    Well, what do we have about this “knight in shining armor”? The main canon was put together by a man in prison, and there is absolutely no evidence from the time period itself. Many of the characters in the Arthurian mythos are borrowed from French mythology. Presumably, Lancelot was too busy running around France to bother sleeping with Gwen. And taking it into a historical perspective, Arthur would have been alive before the widespread use of metal weaponry, and before the unification of Britain under a king. How could he be the king if he predated kings?

    Even believers in the Arthur story can’t get their facts straight. How many Arthurians, born again or otherwise, know the difference between the sword in the stone and the sword of the lady of the lake? The entire story appeals to the ancient belief that the health of the king is the health of the land. This is no more than magical thinking. How could you possibly believe that the man was whisked away to nowhere to prevent his death? Drivel.

    Spork

  • Siobhan in Vermont

    Ok, maybe I’m missing something here, but I feel like this entire excerpt has been a bait and switch and y’all have fallen for it.

    The author posits that maybe there was no historical person of Jesus. But then ALL of the discussion presented is about historical evidence of -THE RESURRECTION-. Of course there’s no evidence of “the resurrection” because that didn’t bloody happen, it isn’t possible, and we know that, and of course there’s nothing supporting it historically.

    However, that is NOT the same thing as there being no historical evidence of a person named Jesus who was a charismatic person of the time. Not one single bit of historical discussion in the segment presented treats on the initial position that there may never have been an actual person called Jesus who lived in the general time period in question.

    I’m perfectly willing to learn more about the historical record, or lack thereof, of this human named Jesus around that time, but don’t claim you’re going to discuss the history of cheese then try to prove to me unicorns don’t exist.

  • Sharklauncher

    David Mabus/Dennis Markuze, because no one has that much time on their hands.

    Or maybe even David Fitzgerald himself, because I can’t possibly be led to believe a person would seriously use Papyrus for their book cover.

    As for them being historical, well, technically everything’s history, right?

    Spork

  • Jagyr

    I’m going to have to nominate one of my favorites: Lao Tzu.
    The Tao Te Ching is similar to the works of Shakespeare in that it has good advice and poetry in it, despite the fact that its author could very well have been an amalgamation of authors.

    Spork.

  • Hangnail

    Heracles.

    Half man and half god. Already tells me that he could not have existed as they portray him. Possibly modeled after a real person but the legend has grown such to where the actual man and the legend would not even recognize each other. As far as I know, there is NO evidence that there was even an original man that did great deeds to model Heracles after.
    Spork

  • Jagyr

    Siobhan -

    Presumably the excerpt about the resurrection is one of the ten Christian myths to which the title refers.

  • http://shadowgm.diaryland.com Bob

    Einstein.

    Known for positing a Theory of Relativity.

    I don’t have an Uncle Albert.

    Spork.

  • johnnyboy

    Keyser Söze. Period.

    Spork.

  • Revyloution

    The legendary inventor of the spork may have never existed. The legendary genius, Samuel W. Francis, credited with merging the fork and spoon is most likely just a myth. Recent scientific evidence shows that the spork is most likely a primitive ancestor of modern cutlery. The spoon and fork families most likely diverged from the spork into their own separate species in the late Devonian era. All references to the creator of the spork are most likely just remnants of a story telling culture, passing the legend from father to son.

  • Will

    You don’t exist.

    I mean “you” as in the person reading this comment right now. You don’t exist. I can prove it, too.

    A person either exists or does not exist. It is not possible to partially exist.

    A person’s existence can be said to have a beginning (birth) and an end (death), and thus there are times when a person exists and times when he does not. However, the period of a person’s existence is continuous — a person cannot exist, then cease to exist, then begin to exist again at a later time.

    This comment is clearly not interesting enough to attract constant readership. Thus, there are times when it is not being read. Therefore, the person who is reading this comment right now does not exist all of the time.

    But a person cannot exist only some of the time. The only alternative is that the person reading this comment right now does not exist at any time.

    Therefore, you don’t exist.

    You’ll have to make your own judgment as to whether you’re a historical figure or a spork.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    i have thought that Jesus was a mythological figure for a long time now. is this news to people? i mean, it’s a pretty basic standard that they teach in intro to archaeology: in order to be seriously considered as historical fact, a figure or event must be reported by multiple, independent sources. as the author of the book notes, we can be very confident that Caesar was a real person because we have his own words, the words of his enemies, contemporary reports by other people who lived when he did, a historical tradition in which is name and life history were recorded, government accounts of his life, etc etc. but Jesus (and Moses, and the Buddha) come to us via the words of their believers alone. at the very least one would think that after all this time, and all the archaeology in the region, all the study of Roman records, there would be at least *one* independent report of his works. i’m not even talking about the supposed “miracles” so much as a report of his death, or the crowds that followed him, or the trouble he is supposed to have caused so frequently. but we have zip. nada. zero. i’m an historian and that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin for me; he’s myth.

    now, i have no problem believing that there was a “jesus-like” figure or figures from around the time of his supposed life. it was a radical and exciting time in that region, and revolutionary religious figures were fairly common. this we do know from Roman and other contemporary records, as well as from other religious traditions that have since died out. i’ve long thought that “Jesus” is a composite of several different Jewish and perhaps even non-Jewish revolutionary preachers from the region who protested against Roman oppression.

    i’ve also long believed that the Catholic Church is the main reason we have no good records about the life of some guy who may or may not have been named “Jesus.” let’s face it, that gap in information for those first couple of centuries? it just screams “destroyed evidence.” as in, i’m fairly sure that there were records of some of these figures, but once the church had established its orthodoxy and official narrative of “his” life, anything they found that didn’t support that or directly contradicted it was destroyed. the church has a long, long history of destroying historical and archaeological evidence that pokes holes in its theology- in egypt, central american, italy… it’s very likely given what we know of the contentious and war-like days of the early church(es). as the Roman empire declined, a lot was lost and destroyed on purpose as various groups struggled violently to fill the power vacuum. the people who figured out just how powerful the mythology of a christ figure could be for political and social purposes? i surely don’t put it past them to make the savvy realization that when it comes to establishing a new religion, less real evidence is better than more.

    gilgamesh. for thousands of years before jesus was invented, people believed he was real. thousands of years from now, people will look back on “jesus” and have the same reaction to that word as people today do when they see “gilgamesh.”

    spork.

  • Rebecca

    Did Noah ever exist? Doubt it. There is no evidence of a world-wide flood. That, and it would be a huge boat to put every single species of animal on it. Oh yeah: SPORK! I like that word, it makes me laugh! SPORK! SPORK! SPORK!

  • WishinItWas

    Scylla and Charybdis

    I have always loved the vague analogy of having to choose the lesser of two evils….unless of coarse you have Hera’s divine intervention assist in your crossing ;)

  • andyinsdca

    Just posting here so I can leave the a word.

    spork

  • andrew

    there is no evidence to support the claim that Jar Jar Binks ever actually existed.

    spork!

  • billybee

    It seems that most atheists still think that Jebus was a real dude. Either they just don’t find the subject to be very interesting or important or they think that “jesus-mythers” are just way too far out on the fringe.

    Consider these two statements:

    1. God was/is a real dude.

    2. Jesus was/is a real dude.

    BOTH of these claims have been pushed by the church for centuries – but it has only been until recently that the new atheists have challenged Claim #1. This recently popular challenge has made a huge negative impact on the church (as we can now see by the statistics).

    If/when the atheist community wakes up to the realization that the evidence shows that there never was a real Jesus, it could act as a weapon of mass destruction like the Christian world has never seen before. It’s like we (atheists) are in a battle against the church and we are using squirt guns – but we have a 357 Magnum on our hip, but we don’t know how to use it.

    Of course I don’t believe that the church will ever roll over and die, BUT if the historical facts concerning the claims of a historical Jesus ever becomes broadly understood by the atheist community, it will serve to do a LOT of damage to the old tyme religion….as well as make young people to think twice about joining the ranks.

    I’m so excited with the hope that the main stream atheism could someday wake up to realize just how powerful the “Jesus Never Existed” strategy could become. The funnest part would be watching conservatives sweating bullets while they desperately try to sweep it all under the rug…

    If it takes another 10 thousand years, eventually superstition will dwindle and be replaced by science. Religion is slated for destruction, and I think that the “jesus myth” will be like a wrecking ball against the church in the not too distant future.

  • VorJack

    @billybee-

    Don’t get your hopes up. As mythicists like Richard Carrier and Robert Price admit, the mythicist argument is a long and complex one that requires a great deal of knowledge about 1st century Judaism and Greek thought.

    It’s never going to produce a knock-out argument; it’s always going to be a close fought duel of interpretation and counter interpretation.

  • Einmaliger

    This reminds me of the following article that claims that there is no evidence for Jesus ever existing:

    http://jdstone.org/cr/files/nohistoricalevidenceofjesus.html

    It’s quite old, and I think it was posted here some time ago, but I thought it might be helpful.

  • Digitus Impudicus

    @Siobhan
    It is not a bait and switch. The author starts with the obvious and then at the end mentions that he will discuss the mundane.

    And it’s important to note that we are not just talking about the divine man-god Jesus coming under fire, because it is not just the supernatural aspects of Jesus that have come under suspicion. Even the mundane and perfectly plausible-sounding aspects of Jesus’ life have proved to be problematic…

    So, in an intro he starts with the big obvious discussion and then suggests there is more. Seems like a pretty straight-forward rhetorical device to me.

  • Rob

    Shakespear… Who knows who wrote those plays?

    Spork

  • Jim H

    Jim H never existed. All the things he ever wrote in comment threads on Friendly Atheist were actually written by the Holy Spigot Sprite Ghost. Here’s the Proof Poof:

    Spork

  • ACN

    King David.

    People (even some jewish historians) believe he is a historical figure, but there is no good evidence that he ever existed. The only explicit evidence we have come from the bible, which has the same quantity of external evidence as the Arthurian legends.

    For example, the remains of the City of David, the core of Jerusalem from which David and Solomon were said to reign, were investigated extensively by the Hebrew University. They uncovered no evidence of occupation during the 10th century BC. Scholars from the HU believe that the archaeological evidence from surface surveys indicates that Judah at the time of David was a small tribal kingdom, certainly not the great state it is made out to be in the biblical account.

    There appears to be no more evidence for King David than for King Arthur.

    Repost with Spork :)

    SPORK

  • VorJack

    @Rob-

    Actually, we’re pretty sure we know that Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him, because we know he didn’t write them alone.

    In the past couple of decades, historians have realized that most plays of the period were collaborative works among a number of playwrights. Using statistical analysis of things like word choice, they’ve been able to identify the hands of many other known playwrights from the period.

    None of the alternative theories for the authorship of the plays account for how these playwrights could have written portions of the text. Further, we know that Shakespeare did exist and was a playwright, thanks to some primary sources like his will and some legal records. At least for the moment, it seems most likely that the portions of all the plays that seem to come from same playwright were actually written by Shakespeare.

  • Steve

    The entire Jesus myth from miraculous virgin birth to death and resurrection are so similar about two dozen other ancient myths that it has to be fiction. The entire story is clichéd.

    Is it possible that some real Jesus existed who did some of the non-supernatural stuff in the Bible? Sure. But it would be much better if that’s what people believed. Christianity as a whole would be much less ridiculous if it treated Jesus more like Muhammed. Not a divine son of god, but a real human being with a human story. Maybe someone who speaks or claims to speak with god, or simply a wise man with some great ideas. The entire theology would suddenly become a lot easier to defend.

  • Yoav

    Barack Obama’s ex-muslim Kenyan father. This mythological person supposedly traveled to Hawaii to create an anchor terror baby but since reliable sources such as Glenn Beck assure us that Obama was really born in Kenya and is the antichrist there is no reliable account for the existence of said father other then Obama’s own book.
    Spork, Spork.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    billybee:

    Consider these two statements:

    1. God was/is a real dude.

    2. Jesus was/is a real dude.

    BOTH of these claims have been pushed by the church for centuries – but it has only been until recently that the new atheists have challenged Claim #1.

    Um, billybee, ever heard of Robert G. Ingersoll? Claim #1 has been challenged for a while. So has Claim #2 in fact, and there is a response to mythicist arguments dating all the way back to 1912.

    VorJack:

    As mythicists like Richard Carrier and Robert Price admit, the mythicist argument is a long and complex one

    True enough, and IMHO, much of the complexity comes from explaining what is trivially handled by the “Jesus was a real dude on whom much myth was accreted.” The references to Jesus’ brothers are an obvious example.

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    This is my problem. I am sure that this book is great and I would love to read it but I would be the only one. This book is self-published and the only people who are going to read it are the choir (so to speak). This book needs a real publisher so it gets in real book stores so that real people have to see it and consider reading it. Fundamentalist Christians will have to read it so that they can write books against it, FoxNews will have to talk about it and Rick Warren will have to address it. But none of that will happen because this is a self-published book and no one will take it seriously except us. GET A REAL PUBLISHER!!!

  • mike

    Chuck Norris does not exist. If he did would he allow me to t gjgs jgafsgajkgrgjmgm

    (spork)

  • Siobhan in Vermont

    @Jagyr

    Ohhh I see. Wow, lots of responses. I’m wending my way through. Thanks Jagyr. :)

  • Digitus Impudicus

    Poppa never existed.
    Many claim he was a rolling stone, though the chances of a rolling stone conceiving children are small. Stones have never been observed to bear young.
    The idea that a stone would wear a hat is specious and a stone can only have a home in the most generic sense. The property rights of stones were voided in Throw v. Window Pane in 1868.
    Any evidence existence is absent, even his supporters admit this. Original sources say “When he died, all he left us was alone”.

    Spork

  • TheStoph

    Doc Brown and Marty McFly…
    There is substantial evidence in the form of three visual recordings that these two figures have had a substantial effect on the present. The lack of a real “Hill Valley” or independent reports of DeLorean in 1955 do not sway my faith!

    Also, they may or may not have been the inventor of the SPORK.

  • Daniel

    Muhammad. His earliest biography, of which no copies survive, dated from roughly a century after the generally accepted year of his death, 632, and is known only by references to it in much later texts.

    Allah Spork Bar!

  • chris

    Neil Armstrong. You know the whole moonlanding thing was a hoax. There’s no way a real man could keep it secret for that long. Therefore, he’s not real.

    spork.

  • http://endofline.lesterbell.com Nick Bell

    Luke Skywalker. Despite appearing in the historical documentary series Star Wars and its claim of happening “A long time ago,” the only records of his existence appears after the release of A New Hope and appear to use only that film as the primary source.

    spork

  • Laura

    Sigh. Another Jesus-myth book from an amateur historian. It isn’t just the majority of academic historians who think Jesus existed, it is just about all of them. Not just Christians, but Jewish and atheist historians as well. The idea he never existed was last a viable theory in academia, in the 19th century!
    The Jesus-myth ideas spread on the internet because some atheists are apparently happy to believe what’s almost a conspiracy theory, if it’s “on their side”. The conspiracy, I mean, of claiming that academia among historians is so devoid of healthy criticism and independent thinking that they totally shut out basic “truths” like Jesus being mythical.
    Historians don’t know much about Jesus, but they’re pretty sure he was baptized by John the Baptist and that he was crucified.
    There’s a Yale lecture on the historical Jesus, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_dOhg-Fpu0
    I know something about the ways that historians assess whether accounts are accurate, and they seem fairly convincing to me. The video talks about the techniques they use.

  • billybee

    @VorJack – I propose that in spite of it’s complexity, it is the simplicity of the “Jesus never existed” claim that could launch it into the main stream.

    The latest Xmas billboard that says “You KNOW it’s a myth?” hits the bullseye.

    You don’t sell the steak – you sell the sizzle.

  • Joseph

    Religiosity is basically reinforced by group socialization dynamics. This is why the religious in many cases aren’t able to seriously consider real science. It’s classic indoctrination. Indeed this is how Christianity spread in the first place. While the Jews who were from the region this story originated in were trying to tell people it was a fabrication, Christians were already immersed by the anti-Jewish polemic preached by the inventors of these myths. So rather than rationally view people, who were after all from the place this story originated from (and were the only people situated to either substantiate or rebuke these claims), as legitimate witnesses telling them it wasn’t true, they viewed them as the killers of Christ, spiritually blinded, with hardened hearts, and all the rest. They were preconditioned to reject counter-claims without ever actually considering the merits of those counter-claims rationally. This is how religious indoctrination works.

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    The movie Fargo starts out saying that it was “Based on a true story”, but it wasn’t. That was just added for dramatic effect.

    I was thinking of this example as I was listening to an apologist say that the reason we can believe the Bible is true is because, unlike works of fiction, it claims to be true.

    Spork

  • Nordog

    …but don’t claim you’re going to discuss the history of cheese then try to prove to me unicorns don’t exist.

    WHAT!?

    http://www.geekologie.com/2010/04/01/unicorn-meat.jpg

  • Scarecrow

    A “True Republican” is a mythical beast, no republican has ever been observed i: reducing the budget ii: reducing the size of government. iii: being compassionate. Clearly a grand beast widely celebrated in song and story but total mythology.

  • RiftchaserMej

    Charles Darwin.

    Think about it. We have documents mere hundreds of years old specifying his date of birth, his ancestry, and hometown. In other words, we know (or claim to know) far more details of this man’s life than we do of any of the prophets. Christ, Moses, and Mohammed all left far more room for scholarly doubt in their stories, making Darwin’s all the more suspicious.

    His scientific pilgrimage to the Galapagos islands is oddly lacking in miracles; there appear in his story no burning bushes, no water-walking, but . . . giant turtles? How could any self-respecting theist credit such a fiction?

    Least of all impressive was his not-so-divine inspiration. Yes, he received it following his pilgrimage, and, yes, he was ridiculed and ostracized for it, all standard issue. He even managed to add to our collection of creation stories (though he did not market it as such). Yet, his story fell short. So devoid of following was it that he spent most of his holy book (written by his own hand, for lack of even a decent apostle) trying to justify it. What other holy text would bother to justify itself? The best of them merely rely on their own grandeur for acceptance.

    Let’s face it; among peers like Jesus, Moses, and Mohammed, Darwin is the odd man out. If we want our divine histories to have any amount of agreement, he’ll simply have to be omitted.

    Spork.

  • Dmitri

    Cain and Abel

    They only seem to exist in the bible (and later sources which reference the bible), and one source (full of inaccuracies, contradictions and absurdities) does not make for historical fact. But of course only a bible literalist would consider them as characters from history anyway.

    Spork!

  • Lauren

    Arjuna. The man that spoke with Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

    in one conversation, how does a person go back and forth forgetting and then suddenly remembering the divinity of his “best friend” chariot driver?

    couldn’t happen.

    SPORK

  • http://thishollowearth.wordpress.com/ Victor

    Jesus mythicism today did is not the same as it was in the 19th century, (though Strauss did do some pretty good work that is still used by scholars today). The modern theory (I was surprised to find) is a pretty strong theory. I’m still agnostic about it, the existence of Jesus doesn’t affect me one way or the other but, the theory (most well represented by Earl Doherty’s book) is more than just an argument from silence or mythological similarity.

    Richard Carrier (a professional historian) will soon publish his book on the historicity of Jesus, and I very much look forward to the reception that will receive.

  • Hammurabi

    I think when it comes to the “Jesus:Myth or Man?” questions there is a conclusion that is frequently overlooked. Jesus is both.

    Unless you are theologically required to, no one believes that Jesus:
    -was born a virgin
    -healed the sick
    -raised the dead
    -performed other miracles
    -was raised from the dead
    -was god/half-god/god’s son

    All that is obviously myth, so if you cut out all the nonsense (Jefferson Bible, anyone?) what are you left with? A dude named Jesus living in the middle east said some shit.

    Now consider this; Around the beginning of the common era “Jesus” was an incredibly popular name in that region, Buddhists had been sending missionaries to the area for 2-3 hundred years, Greek philosophy and culture had saturated the area giving rise to Helenized Judiasim, the wandering prophet shtick was being employed by thousands of people in that area at that time.

    Not only is it not suprising that a guy named Jesus was a wandering prophet teaching a mash-up of Helenized Judiasm and Buddhism, but it would be suprising if that DIDN’T happen. In fact, I would be shocked if there wasn’t more than one “Jesus” in the region preaching similar philosophy.

    The bottom line is this. Everything about Jesus that isn’t myth, isn’t unique. If “Jesus the Myth” wasn’t known to us, than “Jesus the Man” would have been lost to history millenia ago.

    The End

    …spork?

  • http://thishollowearth.wordpress.com/ Victor

    Colonel Sanders.

    Evidence? Chicken like that could not have been invented by a human being!

    Spork.

  • http://NoYourGod.blogspot.com NoYourGod

    DentArthurDent never existed. I’ve tried and tried and tried to find any evidence of his existence, but there is nothing to be found… just a bunch of inter-galactic orange barrels where the libraries state the evidence should be….

    spork spork spork

  • http://www.nutwoodjunction.blogspot.com/ Beth

    Dracula. He couldn’t see himself in a mirror, so how could he himself be sure of his own existence? Spork!

  • Tim

    Jimmu Tenno, the legendary first Emperor of Japan. There is no physical evidence of his reign, only accounts in the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. The first Emperor that we can assign dates to is Kimmei, in the 6th Century, and he is considered to be the 29th in the legendary order of succession. The 10th Emperor, Sujin, is the only one for whom historians have even vague evidence for existence, as he is reputed to have subdued Queen Himiko (Pimiko, depending on reading), for whom there are contemporary Chinese records indicating her state had a tributary relationship with the Cao Wei Kingdom in the 3rd century.

    Jimmu is said to have reigned from 660 – 585 BCE or so, and while there is a lot of archaeological material dating back to the Final Jomon period, there’s been nothing found in the areas in which he supposedly was active to indicate his existence. There’s also the usual mythological stuff – descended from the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, astrologically significant birth date, and the like.

    Given that when the Kokiji and Nihon Shoki were composed, the Japanese elites were well aware of the long history of China, there’s a significant possibility that they codified their mythology to make their own institutions seem a bit more venerable.

    Spork

  • Skeptuckian

    The Knights Who Say Ni

    Known from only from grainy film. Very similar to “evidence” used to “prove” the existence of UFOs, Bigfoot, etc.

    Ni! Ni! Ni! I will continue to say “Ni!” until I win so SPORK on that!

  • Peterson, C.

    Vlad the Impaler was a myth used to cover up the fact that Romania at the time was ruled by the vampire Count Dracula. The entire line of rulers for several centuries was also a clever deception, but Vlad is the most prominent figure in the history of the region.

    Much of Dracula’s immortal life has been spend convincing people that he doesn’t exist. It’s believed that he’s currently posing as a writer in an attempt to make vampires look so absurd that no one would ever believe them anything other than a silly, sparkly legend.

    Spork

  • Kaitlyn K

    Shakespeare probably did not exist, here’s one website on the topic:
    (warning: background music)
    http://www.anusha.com/shakespe.htm

    I think my other favorite historical oddity falsity is not a non-person, but Paul Revere. Look up a guy named Israel Bissel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Bissell

    and then read the page on Paul Revere:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Revere#Myths_and_legends_of_the_Midnight_Ride

    Interesting stuff!

    :-)
    SPORK

  • ZombieGirl

    Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden, because it was really just Edward Norton who was Tyler Durden all along.

    spork.

  • sc0tt

    Mr. Mxyzptlk.

    I’m agnostic on that whole “5th dimension” thing though.

    sssssssssssssssssssssssspork

  • jack

    Glenn Beck has never been seen by anyone with sanity.

    Spork

  • http://chunkymonkeymind.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

    Forgot to add spork to my Siddhartha Gautama comment

    Spork!

  • http://en.allexperts.com/q/Atheism-2724/indexExp_111189.htm Jeffrey Eldred

    I don’t exist – Proof by contradiction.

    1. I exist.
    2. Given #1 is always true, I must be necessarily existent.
    3. Because I am necessarily existent, I must exist in all possible configurations of universes.
    4. To say that I exist independent of the configuration of the universe is to say that I don’t modify the configuration of the universe
    5. Because I don’t modify the configuration of the universe, I don’t exist.
    6. Because this presents a contradiction with #1, it must be a false premise.

    Also you don’t exist as soon as you read my proof (because you can read it from your own perspective, and also you are reading something which couldn’t exist because it has no author).

    Also Spork.

  • Robert W.

    I find it hard to believe anyone will take this book seriously. The author is apparently a travel writer with no credentials to support his claims. the comments he makes in the excerpts about the authors of the gospels and their timing are incorrect and not supported by biblical scholars.

    As Laura said, he is an amateur historian and just from what the excerpt shows not a very good one.

  • Drew M.

    S. Morganstern, author.

    The only evidence we have of his existence is a heavily edited version of his novel, “The Princess Bride.” I’m convinced that the editor, William Goldman, made it all up.

    Spork.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Victor:

    The modern theory (I was surprised to find) is a pretty strong theory. I’m still agnostic about it, the existence of Jesus doesn’t affect me one way or the other but, the theory (most well represented by Earl Doherty’s book) is more than just an argument from silence or mythological similarity.

    What Doherty adds to arguments from silence and purported mythological similarity isn’t that helpful. He has this idea that Paul had in mind a mythological crucifixion in some heavenly sub-lunar realm, and he has tried, badly IMHO, to argue that when Paul writes “according to the flesh,” he’s referring to that realm. Compared to the “Jesus as real dude with legendary accretion” explanation, Doherty’s scenario is still a horrible kludge.

  • Silent Service

    Mr. Murphy does not exist.

    All activity attributed to Mr. Murphy falls into the normative range of common random failure for equipment. Laws attributed to Mr. Murphy also fail to show any result outside random occurrence. His reported gremlins are equally nonexistent.

    Well SPORK me, my PC just crashed.

  • Valhar2000

    J. J. Ramsey:

    What “obvious and reasonable objections” are those?

    By way of an example: why nobody at the time commented on the supposed holy man, for example, or why it took decades for the reports about him to start appearing. But the biggest one of all: What evidence is there, apart from the Bible and Christian theology, that there was such a person at all?

    Never gotten a straight answer.

    I don’t take these things as conclusive proof that there was no historical Jesus and all the scholars who say there was are a bunch of idiots or liars, but I am not betting my bottom dollar on the opposite either.

  • Jeff

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

    Adam never existed. I like how the different religions can’t even keep consistant with each other.

    spork

  • Dave B

    Joseph McCarthy

    Most texts containing information about him describe only the supposed hearings he held in the Senate in order to root out communists. The truth of these hearings, allegedly held a mere 60 years ago, is so dubious that even prominent historians like Ann Coulter can’t agree on their nature. If these hearings didn’t happen, then the McCarthy we all know never existed.

    spork

  • cat

    @Laura, the mention of John the Baptist was enough to call bullshit here. What little historical evidence there is of Jesus, it is dwarfed by a considerable amount of records regarding John the Baptist. There are Roman records, Jewish records, records from John’s followers, all of which are contemporary and none of which mention him baptizing or recognizing any Jesus figure. John himself claimed to be a holy prophet and he had his own religious cult kicking up a storm. The early ‘gospels’ and stories written about Jesus do not contain this story. The addition of John to later Christian writings appears to be an attempt to subvert and convert the then more powerful Cult of John the Baptist, by allowing its prophet to remain a holy prophet within Christianity. The falsity of the baptism and recognition by John the Baptist is pretty certain when looking at the evidence.

    There is a distinct lack of contemporary or other solid evidence that a historical Jesus existed. That is true. The issue is that the way history works is that we can find evidence, or, evidence can be lost forever. Could it have been true that some sort of desert cult leader named Jesus existed at some time, but all contemporary records by Romans, Jewish, or other historians have been lost? Yes, but asserting that you know he did exist considering this dearth of evidence and the many contradictions of the stories with good evidence (such as the evidence about the Cult of John the Baptist, the dates of Pontious’s governorships, the date of Herod’s death, coinage differances, etc.) requires a great deal of mental gymnastics and apologism.

  • JohnJay

    Abraham (formerly Abram)

    Just think. If you could go back in time and get rid of him, you’d prevent three ridiculous religions.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Probably mentioned above by others but Abraham. The patriarch of the big 3 and would-be willing child murderer. And there is no evidence outside of the religious texts that he even existed.

    …but how dare we argue against such solid proofs like the stories about him being able to suddenly get it up again after many years and fathering whole nations… …or that his bad son (too bad to be given the privilege of attempted murder apparently) went on to be the father of all Arabs and thus caused the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

    Spork

  • http://smartmenlovereason.blogspot.com/ Elric the Mad

    John Henry was a steel drivin’ man. Or so the ballad goes. Sorry this isn’t especially funny or clever, but wanted to use someone not mentioned yet.

    Lirve lorng and prorsper, Spork.

  • BrettH

    JJ Ramsey: I think the problem in this case is #3 on the list of possible reasons to reject expert opinions. The existence of Jesus is a question that nearly everyone in the country seems to have a biased position on. As an atheists, it would help confirm the worldview of many/most readers here to discover Jesus was fictional. For the Christian majority of Biblical historians, it would confirm they’re worldview to discover that Jesus definitely existed. Because of this, I tend to ignore the question entirely, figuring I’d need to be an expert myself to be able to gauge just how biased particular historical views are. I also don’t trust my own desire to find the “Jesus didn’t exist” stories more believable, because that is very in-line with my own set of biases.

  • flatlander100

    Deep Throat. No contemporary evidence, only a claim long long after the fact by a very ill man that he was him, corroborated by a scribbler known to be at work on another book about the whole affair.

    Spork

  • C

    That is one ugly book. It burns my eyes.

  • mike

    Merlin of King Arthur’s time. All story, no proof.

    spork

  • Aj

    I hear many people actually believe the historicity of Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, and King Arthur.

    Laura,

    Not just Christians, but Jewish and atheist historians as well.

    Citation needed. How many non-Christians Historians that study the Gospels or that period in Israel have that opinion? How many people that subscribe to scientific skepticism, methodological naturalism, humanism, or freethinking?

    The idea he never existed was last a viable theory in academia, in the 19th century!

    It’s always been viable, and there’s a good reason why it was able to gain popularity in the 19th century, and it ironic that you should mention it considering what you go on to say about criticism and shutting out.

    The conspiracy, I mean, of claiming that academia among historians is so devoid of healthy criticism and independent thinking that they totally shut out basic “truths” like Jesus being mythical.

    I think that historians in general don’t give a shit, no one is being shut out, it makes very little difference to me whether Jesus was a delusional hippy preacher or non-existent, I doubt it concerns many historians. They’re not stupid, they’re not going to subject themselves to shitstorm of irrational believers, and I imagine for sensible historians it’s a thoroughly boring subject. This area is clearly dominated by Christians, many of them not just historians but employed by religious institutions. This isn’t a science, the humanities are dominated by people heavily ideologically invested in ideas and justifying their faith in bullshit.

    Historians don’t know much about Jesus, but they’re pretty sure he was baptized by John the Baptist and that he was crucified.

    Based on four anonymous accounts, contradicting themselves and each other, not written as historical accounts by attempts to proselytise to different people, many of these historians believing only one of them to be an original account, and it’s unlikely that any are primary sources. Only one non-Christian mention of Jesus, only mentions someone with that name and followers. They’re sure about these events, based on that?

    I know something about the ways that historians assess whether accounts are accurate, and they seem fairly convincing to me. The video talks about the techniques they use.

    This is a great example of how historical methods and standard of evidence are thoroughly unconvincing. I don’t see how anyone honestly looking at the “evidence” these people are basing a historical Jesus on can be convinced. I wouldn’t say it’s justified to say the opposite is true, that Jesus is definitely a myth, as the evidence is circumstantial, but it’s better than no evidence.

  • mike

    The Egyptian god Horus. all story no proof. Also seems to have the exact same attributes as Jesus or vice versa.

    spork

  • Jude

    Wow. Hard to come in a post after this many comments. But I think I’d use the legendary first settler of the Rifle or Parachute, Colorado areas who supposedly built the chimney of his new house out of oil shale. Thus, the first time he lit a fire, his house burned down. Although you can burn oil shale with a match (sort of) or a lighter (sort of), to really get it burning would require a fairly high temperature; that’s why we don’t burn it in our fireplaces like we burn coal. No one knows the name of this settler, and both communities claim the story. Sorry, I think it’s just a legend.

    Spork

  • Martin Lambert

    I’m not sure about that Caesar character, but I know Asterix the Gaul existed. I have several books that testify to that fact.

    Spork.

  • http://thishollowearth.wordpress.com/ Victor

    J. J.
    I think the “according to the flesh” argument makes sense. It didn’t at first, until the concept of the Catholic Eucharist popped into my head. The “flesh” that they use in no way designates muscle tissue, but is a aspect of Aristotelian categories.

    He didn’t bring it up in his book, but the Qumran community, now being seen as another Jewish community with a messianic savior with his own set of characteristics, makes it easier to view the Pauline Christ as a heavenly being.

    It’ll being interesting to see what Carrier does with it. He’s pretty sharp.

  • http://www.meaningwithoutgodproject.blogspot.com Jeffrey A. Myers

    The guy, if he existed at all, was probably just an itinerant hebrew rabbi who preached against the Romans and the present Jewish power structure. The guy may even have been persecuted and or killed. A few hundred years can change a lot about a story though, especially in the ancient world.

    Just ask the people who fought at Troy. They probably wouldn’t recognize the Iliad any more than Jesus would recognize the Bible.

  • Steve

    Samuel W. Francis did not really exist, nor did he invent the spork.

  • http://krissthesexyatheist.blogspot.com krissthesexyatheist

    I’m agnostic on the historicy of dude. There are so many ways to debunk xtianity, so it’s not like it’s the only thingy we have. Still, if it can be proven that dude did not exist, then that would be awesome pants for Team-A.

    Kriss

  • NotYou007

    I just placed my order on Amazon and it stated only 7 copies where left. I wonder if that is true.

  • Randy

    Laozi(or Lao Tse, Lao Tsu, Lao Tzu, Lao Tu etc.), the ancient Chinese philosopher who supposedly wrote the “Tao Te Ching”. He is therefore considered to be the founder of Taoism(Daoism),and he is revered as a deity in most forms of Taoism. According to Chinese tradition, he lived in the 6th century B.C.E. However, most historians maintain that either a)he actually lived in the 4th century B.C.E. b)He was an “amalgam” or synthesis of multiple historical figures, or that c)he never actually existed, and was merely a legend or myth.
    SPORK!

  • the Captain

    Homer’s existence is suspicious first of all because the works attributed to him come from a long oral tradition, which is likely to have been adapted over time, and second because the Iliad and the Odyssey are so different in style that many experts believe they had separate authors. Like the characters from that “age of heroes”, Homer was a larger-than-life figure to the ancients, and there is nothing convincing to support his existence at all.

    I’m interested to read this book. When I attended Catholic school, we were told that several ancient writers cited Jesus’ existence. I know now that Josephus’ account is believed to be corrupted, but I haven’t gotten that far in reading Tacitus yet, so I can’t say for sure. But somehow I doubt that the passage will be convincing evidence. (Never mind, I looked it up. It just says that a guy called “Christ” died in Judaea.)

    Spork.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nailed-Ten-Christian-Myths-That-Show-Jesus-Never-Existed-At-All/105120489555633?v=wall David Fitzgerald

    Hemant, thanks again for having me.
    HOLY CRAP, there’s a lot of comments – Thx all!

    @VorJack: I’m glad you bring up Richard Carrier and Bob Price, both of whom have great things to say about the book. In fact, Richard Carrier is my best friend and contributed enormously to it. (See below for their and other comments on the book)

    @ Laura & cat: Believe me, I share your suspicion of amateur historians, and although I do have a degree in History I know this book would have been a non-starter without the work of historians all across the theological spectrum. I don’t make the claim that there was no Jesus out of sensationalism or half-baked wishful thinking. I wrote this book because the evidence points to a Jesus who was purely mythological, and we have evidence that shows his evolution. In fact, my final chapter discusses just how different the historical record would be if there HAD been a real Jesus.

    @Rbt W. Travel Writer??? You’re thinking of someone else. When I’m not writing biblical history, I write smutty erotica…

    Thanks again for all the comments,everyone -and good luck on sporkquest 2010!

    All the best,
    Dave Fitzgerald
    Steering Committee, San Francisco Atheists
    Co-Founder, Director – The Atheist Film Festival
    Founder, Director – Evolutionpalooza!
    Author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All

    PRAISE FOR DAVID FITZGERALD’S: Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All:

    “Fitzgerald’s is possibly the best ‘capsule summary’ of the mythicist case I’ve ever encountered …with an interesting and accessible approach.”
    —Earl Doherty, author of The Jesus Puzzle

    “Fitzgerald summarizes a great number of key arguments concisely and with new power and original spin. I really learned something from him. Recalls classical skeptics and biblical critics. A surprising amount of new material.”
    —Robert M. Price, author of Deconstructing Jesus and The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man

    “David Fitzgerald reveals himself to be the brightest new star in the firmament of scholars who deny historical reality to “Jesus of Nazareth.” His brilliance would have been sufficiently established had he done nothing more than illustrate and explain traditional arguments with a clarity and transparency never achieved by us old-timers. But he has done more. He has developed new arguments and insights as well…”
    —Frank R. Zindler, editor of American Atheist Press and author of The Jesus the Jews Never Knew

    “Fitzgerald has hit the nail on the head…A nice, readable introduction to the top ten problems typically swept under the rug by anyone insisting it’s crazy even to suspect Jesus might not have existed.”
    —Richard C. Carrier, Ph.D., author of Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn’t Need a Miracle to Succeed and the forthcoming book On the Historicity of Jesus Christ

  • J. J. Ramsey

    I think the “according to the flesh” argument makes sense. It didn’t at first, until the concept of the Catholic Eucharist popped into my head. The “flesh” that they use in no way designates muscle tissue, but is a aspect of Aristotelian categories.

    That Paul uses “flesh” (or sarx) loosely is obvious. The problem is Doherty’s idea that Paul is referring to some realm located in the heavens when he uses kata sarka (“according to the flesh”). If Paul wanted to indicate that the crucifixion was in the heavens, then he was being ridiculously vague.

  • Robert W.

    David Fitzgerald,

    @Rbt W. Travel Writer??? You’re thinking of someone else. When I’m not writing biblical history, I write smutty erotica…

    If I am mistaken I apologize. I gleaned that from the Amazon page where other books attributed to you are listed.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ChristopherTK ChristopherTK

    Atheists don’t exist!

    Christian billboards tell me god doesn’t believe in them… so it must be true.

    Spork

  • J. J. Ramsey

    David Fitzgerald:

    I wrote this book because the evidence points to a Jesus who was purely mythological,

    What makes your theory superior to that of the “Jesus as real dude with legendary accretion”? For example, how do you deal with the apparent offhand references to Jesus’ brothers, both in Paul’s letters and in Josephus’ Antiquities? Why have Jesus’ hometown be Nazareth, an obscure village not mentioned in the Old Testament at all, rather than simplify matters and have him be born in Bethlehem from the get-go?

    In fact, my final chapter discusses just how different the historical record would be if there HAD been a real Jesus.

    By “real Jesus”, are you talking about a miracle-working Jesus Christ or are you talking of Jesus of Nazareth, the apocalyptic nutcase?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Adam and Eve. There’s too much genetic diversity in Y-chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA for the most recent common ancestors of all humanity to have lived nearly as recently as Adam and Eve are supposed to have lived, Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve were not contemporaries, and while there’s little enough genetic diversity among humanity to be certain that all humanity is descended from what was (at one point, at least) a very small breeding population, there’s enough diversity to be certain that that population had at least a few hundred individuals. Spork!

  • http://thishollowearth.wordpress.com/ Victor

    I know you addressed David, but, if I remember right:

    Paul mentions James, brother of the Lord, not brother of Jesus. The lord is a title, not a biological entity. Plus, there are other people called brother and sister in his letters and they are never labeled biological siblings.

    Josephus’ use of “brother of Jesus” appears to be a latter scribal interpolation. And, reading the entire passage, it seems to fit. Trying to make that passage fit any other information about James just doesn’t work.

    Jesus’s hometown would have been branded as being Nazareth because he was known as a Nazorean, a term used for a religious ascetic and easily confused as “one from Nazareth” by later historicisors not in on the original meaning that were attempting to reconstruct what they believed was history.

    _

    The reference to events taking place in heaven that affected things on earth is pretty apparent in 1st century religious and philosophical works. The fact that Hellenistic societies accepted that is hardly controversial, just the application of it to the Jesus story.

  • http://ciyc.webplus.net Mike

    Me. I never existed. I have only my own word to take for it, and I happen to know from experience that I do lie on occasion. I have testimonials from my wife, my mother, friends, etc., but as they are clearly biased in my favor, their anecdotal evidence is slanted. My birth certificate could easily have been forged. The strongest evidence I have for my own existence is memory, but if we learned nothing else from The Bourne Identity, it is that memory is a fickle beast. I must conclude, then, that the evidence of my own existence falls far short of what is required for absolute proof. “Spork”

  • http://lucywright.wordpress.com/about/ LucyWright

    Just wanted to put my two words in…..
    WOW

    SPORK

  • Nordog

    Shouldn’t somone by now have made reference to Russell’s Cosmic Teapot?

  • ptowner

    I know it is the wrong time of year to mention it, but Santa does not exist.

    There go my presents. I’ll settle for a spork and a lump of coal.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Victor:

    Paul mentions James, brother of the Lord, not brother of Jesus. The lord is a title, not a biological entity. Plus, there are other people called brother and sister in his letters and they are never labeled biological siblings.

    Victor, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, that explanation fails because people that Paul regards as fellow Christians and thus “brothers” in the non-biological sense, such as Peter/Cephas, are regarded as separate from the “brothers of the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 9:5.

    Josephus’ use of “brother of Jesus” appears to be a latter scribal interpolation.

    That’s not what the consensus of experts says, nor does it make much sense. Contrast the “brother of Jesus called Christ” passage with the Testimonium Flavianum, which is clearly tampered with, if not an outright forgery. The “brother of Jesus” passage is utterly offhand. James is a briefly mentioned pawn between the people that Josephus talks about far more extensively, and “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ” simply and neutrally identifies who this particular James was. (Josephus can say that Jesus was called Christ without affirming that he deserves the title, or even that “Christ” is a title rather than just a name.) The extant Testimonium isn’t the least bit offhand and is downright fawning in its description of Jesus. If the “brother of Jesus” passage were interpolated, it would probably not be nearly as neutral as it is.

    Jesus’s hometown would have been branded as being Nazareth because he was known as a Nazorean, a term used for a religious ascetic

    As pointed out by Shirley Case, the evidence for a pre-Christian sect of Nazoreans (or “Nazarees”) is awful and late to boot.

    The reference to events taking place in heaven that affected things on earth is pretty apparent in 1st century religious and philosophical works.

    But that’s irrelevant. The problem is that Doherty is saying that Paul claims that events took place in heaven when a plain reading of Paul indicates no such thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nailed-Ten-Christian-Myths-That-Show-Jesus-Never-Existed-At-All/105120489555633?v=wall David Fitzgerald

    @ Robert W.: No worries, I know there’s a couple of different David Fitzgerald authors floating around.

    RE: the dating of the Gospels- in the book I present the case (not original to me) that the earliest, Mark was written after the Jewish War, and the rest came afterwards. There is no consensus on the dates of the gospels among biblical scholars; it is one of the most fiercely debated issues. But the scholars who argue for later dates have made a much more convincing case, IMHO (and that of other historians as well).

    Personally, the argument that “Luke” wrote after the year 93 at the very earliest (and more likely much later than that)is one I feel extremely strong about; since it’s demonstrable that he copied from Josephus histories (and Mark, and prob. Matthew)
    -David Fitzgerald

  • mcarp

    Almost any biblical character would be good. How about Moses?

    How did Moses lead a million Israelites across the desert for 40 years and leave absolutely no archeological evidence?

    spork

  • Stagamancer

    Homer

    All evidence we have of his existence are a series of animated depictions showing him with yellow skin and only eight fingers produced by people who overtly declare their bias towards persuading people watch their show to increase ratings and pay for merchandise.

    SPORK!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nailed-Ten-Christian-Myths-That-Show-Jesus-Never-Existed-At-All/105120489555633?v=wall David Fitzgerald

    @ J. J. Ramsey – I hear you: Jesus being a real, human guy lost underneath centuries of legendary accretion was absolutely my default position too – before I began seriously researching the evidence for him. But now I don’t think that stance, or even a reasonable agnosticism on the subject is tenable. And that’s just for a merely human Jesus; the argument that there was a miracle-working divine super Jesus who was resurrected from the dead gets blown out of the water in chapter one. Btw, Bart Ehrman (who is absolutely brilliant and I’m a big fan of, and whose work I also rely on quite a bit) makes a good case for Jesus as apocalyptic prophet, but with all respect, his criteria fail to answer all the questions raised, and I discuss that as well in the book.
    Victor, I agree with you that Paul’s mention of James as “The Brother of the Lord” is problematic, but I take a slightly different approach – even if that sentence fragment is original to Paul in the first place (and I’m not convinced it is), it’s extremely odd that just a few verses later Paul goes on a viciously bitchy rant against these Jerusalem church leaders who he supposedly thinks were Jesus’ family and disciples. In fact he calls them nobodies and false believers, which is completely at odds with the idea they had any special connection to Jesus – again, something that he makes no mention of anywhere but in that one partial sentence. In the book I also discuss the few other spots in the NT that seem to be talking about Jesus’ brothers, or indeed, putting Jesus in any historical context at all.
    J.J. I also agree with all the points you make re: the James Reference , but in this case Victor, I agree with you. Unlike the Testimonium – which I argue is 100% bullshit, the James Reference does indeed appear to be an accidental scribal interpolation, as Rich Carrier demonstrates overwhelmingly convincingly in the book. In fact, the Passage in Josephus is talking about a completely different James and Jesus – Jesus, Son of Damneus.
    I make no claims as why Nazareth became Jesus’ fictional hometown over Bethlehem, or whether Paul’s Jesus was purely spiritual (like the messiah in the Ascension of Isaiah) or a little known historical figure from the past “who made of himself no reputation.”

    I’m very impressed with the caliber of several of the comments today – thx all!
    -David Fitzgerald

  • J. J. Ramsey

    David Fitzgerald:

    it’s extremely odd that just a few verses later Paul goes on a viciously bitchy rant against these Jerusalem church leaders who he supposedly thinks were Jesus’ family and disciples. In fact he calls them nobodies and false believers

    Are we talking Galatians here? In my reading of it, Paul pulls no punches, but I don’t see him calling the Jerusalem leaders nobodies. As for Paul being “vicious” or “bitchy,” that sounds like typical Paul to me. Why would he revere James simply because he’s Jesus’ brother?

    Unlike the Testimonium – which I argue is 100% bullshit, the James Reference does indeed appear to be an accidental scribal interpolation, as Rich Carrier demonstrates overwhelmingly convincingly in the book. In fact, the Passage in Josephus is talking about a completely different James and Jesus – Jesus, Son of Damneus.

    I’ve seen the Damneus argument before and not found it very convincing.

  • Scott Welty

    I don’t think Franklin D. Roosevelt ever existed. Well, at least I don’t think his lower half existed. There are no photo or film records of his lower extremities. They say when he went to Malta (or went out for a malted. . .whatever) that his lower extremities were actually bowling in upstate New York but, once again, no photos, nor has the score sheet survived. Half credit?
    spork

  • http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com James F. McGrath

    The existence of Richard Dawkins must be questioned by all but the most credulous. True freethinkers will realize that the public individual whom they have seen engage in debates and public discussions may in fact be an actor, hired to play the role of the real Richard Dawkins, whose lack of dashing good looks he feared might make his powerful intellectual arguments less effective. And so unless definitive proof is provided that this is not the case, obviously there is no choice but to remain at least agnostic about whether Richard Dawkins is in fact a real or even an individual at all. Might it not be a think-tank that authors books under the name Richard Dawkins and that hired the actor to play the part?

    One thing, however, is certain. The real Richard Dawkins was the inventor of the spork.

  • Kamaka

    @ Valhar2000

    What evidence is there, apart from the Bible and Christian theology, that there was such a person at all?

    The same amount of evidence there is for that nasty YHWH character…none, bupkiss.

    If there was one shred of evidence for the existence of either one of these super(natural)heroes, believe me, we would know, because the money-grubbing clerics would be screaming it from the mountain-tops… good for business, y’know.

    The “real, human guy” buried beneath legendary accretion, is, in my mind, completely irrelevant. The entire bible reads like a bunch of preposterous made-up shit. The idea that some part of it might, possibly contain some kernel of truth requires at least a bit of evidence. C’mon, religionists, give us one tiny bit of evidence that any of your scripture is true.

    *Crickets*

  • http://sporkintheeye.blogspot.com Spork

    Oh the irony. My own namesake is a codeword for winning. I am a shoe-in.

    A historical figure that may not have existed? I’ll say Thomas Jefferson. Had he existed, we’d have had a constitution that limited our government. We clearly don’t, ergo, no existo.

    Spork!

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t really matter if Jesus, Buddha, or Muhammad existed in the first place. I guess it might be interesting to find out, but even if they were actual historical figures, that doesn’t provide evidence of the supernatural. There have been plenty of people throughout history claiming to be prophets or messengers of one god or another, and legends about people performing supernatural actions does not mean that those actions occurred. You’d have to be ignorant of mythology and folklore to think the existence of magical stories says anything about what happened in real life.

  • Toby Cooper

    King Solomon.

    Because no extrabiblical evidence exists to support the figure of King Solomon or his mighty and vast empire. No monuments, no artifacts, no accounts from his many conquered enemies, nothing. Nothing but the bible anyway.

    Spork.

  • http://www.tomshamma.wordpress.com Thomas Shamma

    Abraham Lincoln. Clearly just an oversized puppet operated by an overeager John Wilkes Booth, who got overwhelmed with the deception gone out of hand and made a hasty escape from the tale via fictional assassination.

    Spork.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

    Candlejack.

    I hope I have time to say SP-

  • Fundie Troll

    Another historical figure that never existed:

    Charles Darwin

    Reason #1: Anyone who spends their time watching bugs and plants and birds is a loser and doesn’t deserve to exist.

    Reason #2: Those pictures of Darwin with the white bushy beard are obviously poorly photoshopped pictures of Santa Claus.

    Reason #3: He’s not NEARLY as popular as Jesus Christ.

    Reason #4: HMS Beagle is a lame name for a ship.

    Reason #5: I don’t like his theory of evolution.

    Reason #6: My dad can beat up your dad.
    spork

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nailed-Ten-Christian-Myths-That-Show-Jesus-Never-Existed-At-All/105120489555633?v=wall David Fitzgerald

    @J.J. Ramsey: Yes, take another look at Gal. 2:2-6. In a quite paranoiac moment, he accuses them of being false believers – or at the very least, of harboring false believers – who want to spy on them and enslave them (2:4); he says (2:5) “we did not submit to them even for a moment” (compare that to Luke’s white-washed account of the same meeting in Acts, incidentally).
    Finally, he dismisses them outright in verse 6: “And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)–those leaders contributed nothing to me.” Not only does Paul not feel the need to defend his opposition to the Apostles, he says nothing here that would indicate that he is even aware that their relation-ship with Jesus is any different than Paul’s own. To Paul they are just the same as himself – and certainly no better. In fact, if that single sentence fragment is removed, there is no clue anywhere in Paul’s writings that he thought James was Jesus’ brother, or that Peter had any special relationship with Jesus, or that Peter or James – or anyone else – even knew Jesus.
    (Btw, J.J., you didn’t mention Paul’s list of witnesses to the Risen Christ in 1 Cor. 15: 5-8, but that’s another passage that I discuss in the book.)
    I checked out the link you included (thx for that), but with all respect to Ben E. Smith, that is NOT the Damneus argument ( and I don’t find what he said your link very convincing, either). Richard Carrier does a much better job, as you can also see in my book. I think you will find it eminently convincing.
    All the best,
    David Fitzgerald

  • Spherical Basterd

    All these posts and nobody mentions Satan. The Dark Lord. The One who speaks with a sporked tongue. He with the sporked tail.
    Author of the Holy Holiday Baby Recipe Book.
    Creator of all those funderful sins.

    Do I really need to state any proof of Satans non-existance? Nope. Thought not.

    Fappity spork fap spork! Spork the Holy utensil of Spam.

  • HumanistDad

    Yoda.

    It is said that he lived long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. However due to the length of time it takes light to travel, we shouldn’t have picked up the transmission of the story yet (Yoda is probably still being evolved!).

    Not a US Citizen, but still wanted to play the game.

    Spork.

  • Flail

    Mark Twain.

    A person so ridiculously awesome could not have possibly existed. Also, it was a pen name.

    Spork.

  • Michael

    As far as I know there is no proof that Joseph and Mary every actually existed.
    Also, contrary to what my mother told me I can find no actual evidence to support her claim that the Boogeyman ever existed or that he lived in the crawlspace under out house.

    Spork

  • protoplasmoid

    Yeah.. just because some texts line up.. it’s called collaboration people!
    spork! spork! spork!

  • http://www.StuffAmericansHate.com Joe G

    Anyone said “God” yet?

    Because that dude definitely isn’t real.

    Consider yourselves sporked.

    Spork.

  • Chris Weimer

    I find it humorous that the very first comment on here is one of the most ignorant ones (literally speaking, i.e. “not knowing”). Socrates is also attested by Xenophon and Aristophanes, both contemporaries.

    As for historical figures that may have not existed, let’s go with Augustus.

    1. Son of the Divine Caesar (like Jesus)
    2. Fled for fear of safety in his youth (like Jesus)
    3. Returned to inherit a kingdom (although Jesus’ was metaphysical)
    4. Not much on his childhood except that he was bright (like Jesus, cf. Luke)
    5. Similarly to Jesus, he was deified after his death, although the other parallel comes from his “father” (really great uncle, but was adopted) Julius Caesar who was killed for being a king (just like Jesus).

    Spork.

  • Spherical Basterd

    @Flail Says:

    November 12th, 2010 at 10:53 pm
    Mark Twain.

    A person so ridiculously awesome could not have possibly existed. Also, it was a pen name
    ***
    Twainism, is a belief system I could get behind. He came with Halley’s Comet and he left with Halley’s Comet.

    Nah, 2000 years from now people would still be irrational and deluded, killing each other saying my Twainism is stronger than yours or I’m a better Clemenite than thee.

    Just forget I had the idea at all.

  • Chris Weimer

    PS – J. J. Ramsey, so good to see you here again!

    Chris

  • Heidi

    Bigfoot never existed. No matter how many times somebody made grainy footage of a guy in a fake fur suit, he just wasn’t real.

    Also, spork.

  • Richard Wade

    Michael Jackson was a conglomerate of several different conspiring individuals and not a real single person. Clearly the young African American boy and teen Michael of the Jackson Five is not the same person as the steadily paler and more Caucasian-featured “Michael” incarnations as his career developed and changed and changed, again and again. The bizarre mannequin or puppet creature of his so-called last years does not even seem to be made of flesh. It was an “animatronic,” a term coined by and a technology first developed by the Disney industry. The fact that his alleged death has increased his market value clinches the complete artificiality of this collaborative “person.” Since the earlier biological versions are probably still alive, we will likely begin to have sightings of Michael Jackson for years in diners, rural gas stations and alleys behind high end hotels, just as we had of the other highly suspect “king,” Elvis.
    Spork

  • minus

    Paul Bunyan never really existed. I saw his statue in Bemiji Minnesota and it was made of paper mache. How fake is that?

    spork

  • http://thesecretatheist.wordpress.com/ TheSecretAtheist

    Abraham, never existed. The only evidence we have of his existence is religious texts written well after he was supposed to have existed.

    I love the argument that Jesus obviously existed, and was obviously raised from the dead because we can’t find his body. By that logic many, many people through history could have been raised from the dead.

    spork

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Joseph

    None of these characters – Robin Hood, Merlin,etc. – claimed to be the son of God.

    I’m pretty sure that Jesus never made this claim either. However David Icke did. In addition Icke claimed that the world would be destroyed by earthquakes and tidal waves and that shape shifting reptiles were controlling the world. He even claimed that Kris Kristofferson was one of these shape shifting reptiles.

    Given that Kris Kristofferson is human and has starred alongside such notables as Mel Gibson whose very word is unimpeachable it is likely that Icke is simply an invented character and that there is an evil plot (probably by neo-nazis) to discredit Mel Gibson. Nobody as bat shit crazy as Icke could really exist.

    I wonder if anyone in America has even heard of David Icke?

    No competition for me. Krops

  • Maliknant

    Glenn Beck never existed. He is clearly an invention of the liberal lamestream media, designed to discredit the great and noble right-wingers of America. The idea that such a ridiculous fear-mongering clown could become a powerful voice among REAL Americans is absurd.

    spork, the other white utensil

  • Tony Miller

    Crom.

    Crom gives us life and the will to fight. In some of us that will is stronger than others. Yet it is something we all have. Our gifts from Crom.

    Early man learned not to pray to Crom. To do so was a big mistake. By praying to Crom you would get his attention. This would show him you were not strong enough to fight on your own so he would make your life harder, your enemies stronger, you sons weaker. All of these things he did to make you stronger so you could stand on your own.

    Spork

  • J. J. Ramsey

    David Fizgerald:

    @J.J. Ramsey: Yes, take another look at Gal. 2:2-6. In a quite paranoiac moment, he accuses them of being false believers – or at the very least, of harboring false believers

    Actually, it looks to me more like he thought that the false believers (or more literally, false brothers) had lead the Jerusalem leaders astray. Galatians 2:6 is also not enough to say that he thought the Jerusalem leaders were nobodies, especially since he acknowledged in Galatians 2:9 that James and John and Cephas were “pillars.” It is certainly enough to say that Paul thought he didn’t owe the Jerusalem leaders anything, and that it would hardly be a betrayal for him to chew them out, especially since they and he were apostles and thus of the same rank. All this seems to be arguing over details, though. We both agree that Paul is disagreeing violently with the Jerusalem leaders.

    It seems to me that what you are trying to imply is that it seems awfully strange that Paul would behave so irreverently to those that he thought had seen Jesus in the flesh. However, given what’s seen in Paul’s letters, that hardly seems out of character for Paul. Paul is bitchy? Arrogant? So what? Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a few screws loose.

    In fact, if that single sentence fragment is removed, there is no clue anywhere in Paul’s writings that he thought James was Jesus’ brother

    But that fragment is there, like it or not. Sure, you can engage in speculation to rationalize why it’s an interpolation, but a theory that relies on it being an interpolation is fragile.

  • jose

    “During the Spanish civil war I found myself feeling very strongly that a true history of this war never would or could be written. Accurate figures, objective accounts of what was happening, simply did not exist … And if Franco or anyone at all resembling him remains in power, the history of the war will consist quite largely of “facts” which millions of people now living know to be lies. One of these “facts,” for instance, is that there was a considerable Russian army in Spain. There exists the most abundant evidence that there was no such army. Yet if Franco remains in power, and if Fascism in general survives, that Russian army will go into the history books and future school children will believe in it. So for practical purposes the lie will have become truth.
    (George Orwell, 1944)

  • Robert W.

    J.J. Ramsey,

    I agree with your take on Galatians. The context of the letter is Paul describing his preaching that Mosaic law is not necessary for salvation and thus gentiles don’t need to subscribe to it. In chapter 2 he is talking about the Jewish leaders who were trying to change that message and say that following the law was necessary. He chastises those leaders. Nowhere in those verses (2:2-6) does he say that those leaders are James, Peter and John.

    On the contrary, in verse 8 he says that James Peter and john “gave him the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me” and encouraged his message to the Gentiles. It was confirmation of his preaching. It is quite a stretch to say that this is evidence that Paul is being disrespectful to those that saw Jesus as evidence that Jesus didn’t exist.

    David,

    Am I correct that it is your position that dismissing the Gospels there is no mention of the resurrection until the third century?

    Also, I understand that it is well accepted that the authors and the dates of the Gospels are well established. It appears that to claim that they are unknown or that there dates are when you claim to be is taking the fringe extreme position at best. For example, Matthew (also known as Levi) is known to written his gospel and the best date appears to have been before 70 ad, because he mentions the destruction of the temple as a future event which took place in 70 AD.

  • abadidea

    I don’t believe in George W. Bush. I never saw the man- only alleged photographs that look suspiciously like a repurposed goblin costume- and I find it hard to believe that one person could consistently be that stupid. I think he was a fictional projection by a team of reality show writers.

    spork

  • http://andrewfinden.com/findothinks/ Andrew

    @Robert W.

    taking the fringe extreme position at best.

    The entire Jesus-myth theory is a fringe position (at best) and the only scholars you’ll see referenced (again and again) are the fringe-dwellers Carrier and Price & Co. And the arguments are the heavily discredited ones of argument from silence, parallelomania, unreasonable dating and goal-shifting and general prejudice against, and exclusion of certain texts. As a mainstream theory, it is already partially decomposed!

    Jesus-myth is to Historical consensus what YEC is to Scientific consensus.

  • kwieser

    I say D. B. Cooper didn’t exit, nor the money they said they gave to him. “He was a red herring created by the airline owner to hide profits. Spork

  • AJ

    Deganwidah is in some circles considered mythological. He was a founder of what is today the Iroquois nation. It is told by some historians that he was of a virgin born. He also was against the cannibalism that was rampant in the eastern Indian societies in those days.

    The Iroquois Nation was the basis the the Founding Fathers used to create the United States government.

  • Tim

    John Frum.

    He is the central figure of one of the more well-known “cargo cults,” on Tana island in Vanuatu. He is supposedly an American GI who the islanders began worshiping as their own version of Jesus, but there is no evidence of him ever having existed on the island, during wartime or peacetime.

    The prophecy tells that on February 15 of an unknown future year, John Frum will descend from the volcano in which he resides and deliver the cargo, giving the islanders prosperity.

    Then, they shall begin the ceremonial feast, and the only utensil to be used shall be a…

    Spork.

  • Teacher S

    I suggest Charles Darwin.

    The first clue comes from the name. “Charles” means “free man”. “Darwin” means “beloved friend”. This “free (thinking) man” delivered a large blow against a literal account of the Genesis passage in the Bible. From Wiki: “The term free-thinker emerged toward the end of the 17th century in England to describe those who stood in opposition to the institution of the Church, and of literal belief in the Bible. The beliefs of these individuals were centered on the concept that people could understand the world through consideration of nature.”

    Countering a literal belief in the Bible was a risky proposition, so it is understandable that a group of free-thinkers would create a “Charles Darwin”, “beloved friend of free (thinking) men”, as a front and symbol for their ideas.

    I have documented evidence for this, but to cut a long story short: Who would have the clout and desire to pull off this hoax? I think it came out of the “Free” (thinking) Mason “Lunar Society”, a group of scientists with links to the “Royal Society”, aka “Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge”. The Royal Society had the ear of the government, and had considerable political clout.

    Ideas about evolution had been around for years at that time, though not pushed in academic circles. Erasmus Darwin (whose name probably inspired the hoaxers, and who was later portrayed as “the grandfather of Charles Darwin”, i.e, “the Grandfather of Evolution”!) had written a famous poem that hinted at evolution years before Charles Darwin was “born”.

    What happened was this: The Royal Society had been working on the idea of natural selection for years, slowly trying to push it through academic circles. They had already created the character “Charles Darwin” to promote these controversial ideas. Then they were contacted by Alfred Russel Wallace, who was ready to publish his own ideas about natural selection. This scared the hell out of them. They quickly contacted Wallace, whom was concerned himself with how his ideas would be accepted, and he was more than happy to have the clout of the Royal Society behind him by joining the hoax.

    When they started publishing “Darwin’s” work, they faced a problem. There was demand for Darwin to appear at the meetings. So they concoted the story that Darwin was “too ill” to attend meetings, at least initially. From Wiki: “The book aroused international interest, with less controversy than had greeted the popular Vestiges of Creation.[116] Though Darwin’s illness **kept him away from the public debates**, he eagerly scrutinised the scientific response, commenting on press cuttings, reviews, articles, satires and caricatures, and corresponded on it with colleagues worldwide.”

    Notice that “Darwin didn’t appear in public debates”. Due to “illness”? Hardly. Obviously it was very “convenient” that “Darwin’s illness” only allowed for communication via “press cuttings, reviews”, etc. Eventually they found someone whom they trotted out as Charles Darwin — someone with a long white beard, inspired by (if not mocking) the “Ancient of Days” vision of the Bible — and they created the backstory, with wife and children, suitable photographs, etc.

    But even then, Darwin was often “too ill” to attend meetings and even make social visits. From Wiki: “For the rest of his life, he was repeatedly incapacitated with episodes of stomach pains, vomiting, severe boils, palpitations, trembling and other symptoms, particularly during times of stress ***such as attending meetings or making social visits***. The cause of Darwin’s illness remained unknown…” Obviously they couldn’t specify an illness, since they couldn’t risk suspicion about him not recovering (if the illness was something that people generally recovered from) or not dying (if the illness was known to generally lead to death.)

    Actually, some of the stories about Charles Darwin may well be based on one or more individuals, the so-called “Darwin copycat” thesis. Erasmus Darwin would be one example, and there are quite interesting parallels there. And there are some weird inconsistencies about Charles Darwin and his voyage on “The Beagle”, showing interpolation if not outright tampering. The “Beagle” Darwin was employed to examine the land, and was in the process of becoming a rural clergyman. From Wiki: “FitzRoy had found a need for expert advice on geology during the first voyage, and had resolved that if on a similar expedition, he would “endeavour to carry out a person qualified to examine the land; while the officers, and myself, would attend to hydrography.”… A sequence of inquiries led to Charles Darwin, a young gentleman on his way to becoming a rural clergyman, joining the voyage”. There was a naturalist on the Beagle nicknamed “Philos”, who was later confabulated with Darwin. The actual name was probably changed by later interpolators, who wanted to use these long voyages to cover why Darwin wasn’t seen in England and attending meetings in his earlier days. (Later the cover story would change to an unspecified illness) The Beagle “Philos” backstory was later given to Darwin, probably to emphasis Darwin’s later “deconversion”.

    Like any mythical character, legends and myths grew up around Darwin and his “life” after his so-called “death”, which I won’t go into here. All I can say is that **no scholars have gone into this**. They all just assume that this “Charles Darwin” — “Beloved Friend of the Free (thinking) Man” — was an actual person. And whenever I try to bring this up, people just ignore me and walk away. They can’t see outside their stagnant paradigm:(

  • http://reading-frame.blogspot.com Reading Frame

    Granny Smith, of apples fame, was only spoken of by a mad king and a mad Englishman. (George III and Eddie Izzard, respectively)The only accounts of her life involve her trying desperately to make it into the apples business (she was edged out by someone named Johnny) and tried to make mock apples. Failing this, she coaxed her daughter into having a baby to improve her respectability.

    Spork spork spork

  • smittypap

    I have no sons, but my daughter can tell you many tales of her two brothers, Max and Crack. The only evidence of existence for Max and Crack is anecdotal, but those anecdotes paint a picture of two very important historical figures. There are far too many stories of their adventures to relate here. Alas, the memories of Max and Crack are fading fast as my daughter has reached her mid-teens. Spork

  • http://simplehumanist.wordpress.com SH

    Great, now doubting whether Jesus really lived is making me doubt that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is real at all.

    What if the great FSM isn’t riding his magic Tea Cup out in space, hiding out in the asteroid belt until that one great day a year when the FSM flies down to Earth (and Europa, and Titan) to spread goodwill, and Amazon gift cards, to all the believers on the three chosen worlds?

    All this doubt is freezing me in my tracks. I wonder if my boss will let such a personal crisis be an excuse to miss work tomorrow. Actually, I doubt it.

    One fact without a doubt: the FSM was the originator and creator of the spork.

  • shane

    I am going to go with Lao-tzu the most likely not author of the Dao De Jing. First of all, the talk about him is all of the second, third, or even more times removed kind. Next, his name literally means the old boy. While this has been taken as a title of sorts, some have pointed out evidence that the book of the way and its virtue was the work of several female authors. How better to name you text from female authors in a deeply anti-feminist society than to tell everyone the author’s name is literally “good old boy.”

    Still, a good read, despite the made up author.

    I could eat it up with a spork

  • Godless Irishman

    Johnny Appleseed has no evidence to support his existence, other than thousands of apple trees.

    Spork!

  • Bill LaLonde

    George W. Bush obviously never existed. No one could make as many foolish statements as he was reputed to and still get re-elected. The myth-makers that created him just copied the name of a former president and changed the middle initials.

    Spork.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/village1diot village1diot

    The Christian God never existed.

    The evidence is everywhere. Just look around. Look at the trees, the beauty of nature and all its glory. He could not have created the bees, the flowers, sun, or stars. The Christian god does not have the imagination nor the intelligence required to create such an awesome spectacle.

    He insists on destruction of awesomeness rather than it’s creation.

    Spork

  • http://kaleenamenke.blogspot.com Kaleena

    I think the tooth fairy prolly never existed as my parent’s were pretty thrifty and never left money under my pillow.

    p.s. spork

  • Pseudonym

    In the interest of supporting all pseudo-academia equally (since there’s nothing special about religion), we should give away a book denying that vaccines work, next.

  • AA

    Great stuff. I’m definitely getting this book. Anything on taking on the rabid children of Islam and one-eyed followers of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva?

  • Pingback: Losing faith

  • gmb

    Mork of Ork.
    Spork.

  • staceyjw

    YAA for the WIN!
    I want the book, but cannot come up with a better offering than YAA. I would love GW to be fictional!

    I also loved Scarecrow’s entry, as the true republican as budget cutter and lover of freedom is indeed a myth.

    Send them both a book!

  • http://evolutionguide.blogspot.com/ William

    “You must live in the U.S.”
    NNNOOOO!!!!

  • Dave Wyman

    Scanning through the entries, I see several mentions of Paul, none of them questioning his existence other than in the minds of people who believe in him.

    The only references to his existence I can find on that esteemed website, wikipedia, seem to be found in the New Testament. Googling a few other pages, I see no evidence of his existence, and no mention of him for perhaps half a century after he supposedly found his way along the road to Damascus.

  • Watusie

    Molly Pitcher. I recall reading an entire book about her as a child – she supposedly dressed up like a man to join the American troops in the Revolutionary War. Eventually she was found out, but the heat of battle made it impossible for her to leave the field, and so she stopped fighting and instead carried water and bandages to the soldiers.
    spork.

  • Watusie

    PS: There is probably as much or more evidence that Hercules was a real person than there is for Jesus.

  • Adam Montana

    Is there not a significant logical elision going on in the excerpt up there? It’s one thing to say that Jesus never existed at all and another to say there is no valid historical corroboration of the resurrection.
    The author promises the first assertion, but his arguments only address the second of these. As far as I know, the evidence from Pliny the Younger’s correspondence with Hadrian combined with Josephus and Tacitus are compelling enough to need to be dealt with if the existence of a historical Jesus is to be totally denied. Unless of course the author here is some sort of Kripkean and Jesus’ resurrection is a necessary attribute for Jesus to be Jesus on all possible worlds. Anyway, I’m as atheist as it gets but it looks to me like his book won’t go anywhere.

    As for my entry… Fuzzy Dunlop?

  • zbird

    A. Montana: good point. I would add that Douglas Geivett’s point about Jesus’ being as well-documented as Ceasar is obviously absurd, but it’s to be expected there’d be less direct evidence for Jesus–Ceasar was the leader of the civilized world and Jesus, during his lifetime, was nothing more than an eccentric rabbi.

  • Robert W

    Watusie,

    PS: There is probably as much or more evidence that Hercules was a real person than there is for Jesus.

    really? I don’t think you are serious but if you are have at showing it.

  • http://kishnevi.wordpress.com/ kishnevi

    Xenophon was the other student of Socrates to write extensively about his teacher. The details differ in some important ways from the portrait found in Plato, but agree in other ways.

    And there is a good deal of evidence from non-Christian sources to show that a person corresponding to the Jesus of the Gospels lived and died in Roman ruled Palestine. I always refer people to Morton Smith’s Jesus the Magician as a good collection of the extra-biblical references, even if you disagree with his theory.

  • Erp

    Pliny was writing to Trajan not Hadrian.

    His letters are very good evidence that Christians existed at the time of the writing (about 111-113 CE, some 80 years after the death of Jesus) and that they believed in Christ (which is not surprising given that the synoptic gospels already existed). They aren’t direct evidence that Jesus existed though they are evidence that Christians were in Bithynia (northern Turkey at that time and likely for at least 25 years prior [some of the accused claimed to have been Christians but hadn't been for 25 years]). It is also evidence that women held positions of authority within the Christian community as Pliny had two female deacons tortured.

    I agree that Jesus probably existed, but, one can’t depend on Pliny.

  • http://suburbanblacksheep.blogspot.com Shaun

    There is no spoon.

    -Spork

  • http://wilybadger.wordpress.com Chris Swanson

    I don’t know about historical figures that might or might not have existed, except perhaps someone like Gilgamesh. But what about a book that many people seem to believe exists? Namely The Necronomicon. I’ve known people who swear up and down it was a real book. But frankly that just makes me want to poke them with a

    - Spork

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    The “Jesus Myth” thesis is rapidly becoming rationalism/atheism’s equivalent of Creationism – a flawed, fringe, amateur theory accepted out of ideological bias and emotion rather than good, objective analysis.

    For a detailed atheist critique of Fitzgerald’s extremely weak and confused little book, see Nailed at Armarium Magnum. Let the buyer beware.

  • Aaron

    Um… Josephus and Tacitus both wrote in the first century AD, and both mentioned Jesus being crucified by Pilate. Neither was a Christian. The historicity of Jesus is a fascinating topic, and worthy of debate, but this book appears to be an apologetics book arguing for the lack of Jesus existence, even if it means ignoring well-known historical sources.

    • devilsadvocate01

      Neither lived at the time of the supposed Jesus and therefore could not report 1st hand knowledge. The Josephus paragraph is widely regarded, even among biblical scholars, as a fraud, put into the book in the 3rd or 4th century by Christians. Josephus was a devout Jew and in none of his other books mention anything about the Jesus character. In the book it does appear, it is a single paragraph completely out of context of the book and chapter. The Tactitus mention is nearly a century after the supposed jesus character, he does not mention Jesus specifically except an ambiguous “Chistis” and then only in one phrase of a sentence. Wow, a phrase, what astounding evidence to balance our how not one historian who was living at the time of the supposed jesus character mentions him. For a super-human godman you would expect there to be much more than this, right?