Don’t Wait Up for Jesus

You know those billboards in Nashville which say Jesus is coming back on May 21st, 2011?

We laugh at those people because they’re wrong and deluded. And it’ll be hilarious to rip them a new on on May 22nd when Jesus hasn’t come back and they send out some explanation for why they were off…

But here’s what’s really entertaining: When other Christians disavow the same people.

Like KenGurley, blogging on the Houston Chronicle website, who explains the math behind the date:

To arrive at May 21 requires even more tortuous number-crunching. On page 196 of the online book referenced above, we discover that a Second Jubilee period began on September 7, 1994. Count backward 2,300 days from that date to account for the Great Tribulation (Daniel 8:13-14) and we arrive at May 22, 1988. Add the infamous 23 years to this and we arrive at May 21, 2011.

Most Christians believe in the Second Coming of the Lord. Most also believe that no man knows the day nor the hour (Matthew 24:36). But, the May 21 group believes that Noah knew when the flood would come and so should those who are alive at the Lord’s Second Coming.

Groups such as this do little to help further the message of Christ’s Second Coming. Actually, they can do much harm. For when the predicted date passes, more people grow disillusioned and scoff at the notion of the Lord’s Return.

Umm… wow… he’s right about that. He makes sense! Good for Ke—wait, he’s not done yet:

Jesus could come today. That’s good enough for me.

In other words, it’s silly to say Jesus is come back on a specific date.

But it’s not silly to say Jesus is coming back during your lifetime.

*sigh*

Jesus. Isn’t. Coming. Back.

Ever.

Sorry, children, you’ve been lied to.

Saying he’ll be back in 2011 makes as much sense as saying he’ll be back by 2050 or 2075 or in your lifetime. Many Christians’ lifetimes have passed with Jesus not even making a peep. And yet, Christians cling to this notion that at some point in the future he’ll come back for them.

He won’t. And KenGurley does as much harm to the public perception of Christianity as the nuts who think he’s coming back next May. You’re all crazy if you think Jesus is ever returning (or, frankly, that he left in the first place).

It might be cute if this were all just the product of an overactive child’s imagination. But it’s not. These are adults who never let go of the fairy tale. I would pity them… if they didn’t have so much power in this world. Instead, I fear a world where people who are so easily duped by nonsense like this are in charge of schools, businesses, and governments.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I believe that if there is any truth to the rapture (which I highly doubt) it already happened long ago and the handful of people that qualified were already beamed up. Sorry Robert. :)
    You might as well simply work to make the world as it is the best it can be along with the rest of us.

  • http://thirdworldnetwork.org Gwydion Frost

    Problem that I really have with all these folks waiting for Jesus’ return, is that it is clearly written that the world literally has to go to hell first, so Jesus can be the Cosmic Maid and clean it all up.

    So, you’ve got millions of people who are justifying screwing up everything in an effort to entice their God to come in their lifetime to fix it, and then smugly thinking of themselves as “good Christians”, as they do everything to promote our own extinction.

    And why fear creating hell on earth, so long as you have happy fun time in the hereafter that you hope will happen when the flesh begins to rot.

    Another thing I find most entertaining, is how many devout followers actually have NO CLUE what the Bible promises for an afterlife, too busy thinking they will reunite with loved ones and become angels and live in cities of gold in clouds.

    Of course, the Bible says NONE of that. But why would the authorities of the Church correct the misconception?

  • http://www.tos100.com TOS100

    Sadly, it seems that most Christians are completely consumed with sensationalized lives, thoughts and anecdotes about people who may have lived over 2,000 years ago, yet they don’t seem to give this same consideration to anyone who is around them right now.

  • Marty

    In the early gospels jebus was clear that he was coming back soon, within the lifetimes of his contemporaries. When this didn’t happen (surprise) the later gospel of John was vague enough just to indicate that he would return. Isn’t that convenient!

    I like the t shirt that says “If he comes back, let’s kill him again”

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    We have plenty of evidence that Jesus came the first time, left, and promised to come again. We have plenty of evidence that Jesus keeps his promises and, in this case, has the power to do so. We expect his return.

    Jesus. Is. Coming. Back.

  • JD

    I think it’s also lame to put a period after each word. It’s like repeatedly jamming on the brakes on a freeway, it doesn’t flow well.

  • http://www.control-z.com Craig D, Seattle WA

    Years ago my neighbor was a member of the Korean group called Mission For The Coming Days that proclaimed Oct 28, 1992 as the time for the Rapture. She was totally convinced that she was going to “fly up to heaven” on that date. I approached her on Oct 21st and suggested that since she was going to be “leaving” and would no longer have a need for her Lexus that she should sign the pink slip over to me (post-dated, off course). She refused, and them hemmed-and-hawed when I politely asked for her reasons. When Oct 28 came and went and she was still a member of the neighborhood, every time I saw her after that I’d point at her, then up at the sky, and wink. It didn’t take long, and she finally did disappear. She sold her house and moved away the following Spring. I, personally, do not suffer fools lightly.

  • http://www.hardmode.org Garret

    Here’s my question: why does the boy in that picture have only four fingers, yet the girl to his right have five?

  • ACN

    We have plenty of evidence that Jesus came the first time, left, and promised to come again. We have plenty of evidence that Jesus keeps his promises and, in this case, has the power to do so. We expect his return.

    Like when he promised that he would be back within the lifetime of his apostles?

  • http://godlessartist.blogspot.com/ Kilre

    We have plenty of evidence that Jesus came the first time, left, and promised to come again. We have plenty of evidence that Jesus keeps his promises and, in this case, has the power to do so. We expect his return.

    Jesus. Is. Coming. Back.

    He said he’d be back in his disciples generation: http://bible.cc/mark/13-30.htm

    http://bible.cc/matthew/10-23.htm

    http://bible.cc/luke/21-32.htm

    You’d have to take some liberties with some terms to make sure he doesn’t invalidate his promise :V

    Like “generation”.

  • Matt

    I think J. K. Jones is a poe.

  • bernerbits

    We have plenty of evidence that Jesus came the first time, left, and promised to come again. We have plenty of evidence that Jesus keeps his promises and, in this case, has the power to do so. We expect his return.

    Jesus. Is. Coming. Back.

    If you have plenty of evidence, then rather than boring us with repetitive assertions, would you mind sharing said evidence?

  • ACN

    Curses! Fooled by a poe!

  • http://shadowgm.diaryland.com Bob

    We have plenty of evidence that Jesus came the first time, left, and promised to come again. We have plenty of evidence that Jesus keeps his promises and, in this case, has the power to do so. We expect his return.

    Jesus. Is. Coming. Back.

    And that evidence would be? Archaeologists can’t even agree where Calvary was, or where Christ was ostensibly buried. The four gospels differ on time frames and events, most notably the Crucifixion itself.

    But, let’s say he was real, and he is coming back. Let’s say it’s within our lifetimes.

    Is he going to immediately dish out some righteous smiting to the non-theists, or do you think he might have something meaningful to say to the people – many of them believers – wreaking destruction and propagating hatred in His Name?

    Why do you presume your interpretation of Christ is the correct one? After all, your faith seems to consist of ‘Hah! I shall show these unbelievers! I shall strenuously attest to the return. Of. Jesus.’

  • Rieux

    Matt wrote:

    I think J. K. Jones is a poe.

    I don’t think so. Clicking on his/her name in this thread brings you to J.K. Jones’s blog, “Fear and Trembling,” which is a run-of-the-mill apologist site.

    If the person posting under that name on this thread is a Poe, (s)he’s using the identity of a perfectly real Christian apologist to support his/her parody. I doubt it.

  • Rieux

    I think this can be put more simply, Bob:

    We have plenty of evidence that Jesus came the first time….

    No, we don’t.

    We have plenty of evidence that Jesus keeps his promises….

    No, we don’t.

    We expect his return.

    How unfortunate for you.

  • http://3harpiesltd.org/jwp Judith Bandsma

    JK Jones…wouldn’t happen to be Jesse, would it?

    From ‘none who see me now will have died before I return’ (paraphrased) to ‘no man shall know the day’; 2 passages that aren’t literally true while ‘stone the women who won’t kiss men’s ass and gays just because they exist’ MUST be adhered to.

  • flatlander100

    What’s a poe?

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

    We have plenty of evidence that Jesus came the first time,

    so you agree with those who say jesus loved his disciples like a non-monogamous gay man would, and satisfied himself and them often? oh, wait…

    jokes aside, it’s sort of fascinating to look at all the different cults who have claimed “he” is “coming back.” there have been hundreds if not thousands of cults like this in the overall history of xtianity. the question i always ask is “what is really motivating the cult leaders to make the claim?” i grok that foolish and ignorant cult members may actually believe these firm dates will come true, and that it’s pretty easy for a savvy cult leader to claim, when it doesn’t happen, that cult members’ “weak faith” was the reason, or usually the even more popular alternative explanation, that it was the fault of us godless folk, muddling with the magical energies of the jesus creature’s ability to come down from the astral plane with our sinful, naughty ways.

    but the Day After always happens. always has and always will. i believe most cult leaders who make these claims understand that. so why do they do it? what do they get out of it, after they’re proven false prophets? that’s the part i don’t get. why risk a really good paying, potentially never ending scam by exposing yourself as a con artist?

    as to ‘moderate’ Christians holding on to a vague belief that Buddy Christ will return… someday, well. it’s not really much different than all the other mental BS they sustain. these are the same people who only selectively use the Bible, you know “the good parts” while ignoring the parts about shrimp, smashing baby heads, giving away all their money, etc. it makes them feel superior to the more blatantly stupid (and socially unacceptable at the country club, etc) types of believers who picket soldiers’ funerals with signs that read “god hates fags.” you know, because “decent” Christians aren’t like those people, oh goodness no.

  • http://3harpiesltd.org/jwp Judith Bandsma

    Matt, if this is the J.K. Jones I’ve known for a LONG time, no he’s not a poe. He’s for real. Dating back to the old FIDO Holysmoke echo. And if this IS Jesse Jones (a pseudonym, yes, but a real person) it gets even worse. He’s a christian LAWYER.

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

    This is why religion is so uniquely ill suited to governance. They are so focused on the next life that they couldn’t care less about what happens in this one. The fact that so many EAGERLY look forward to the alleged end of the world so that they and a handful of others can enjoy hevenly bliss while the rest of us endure grotesque tribulations and then eternal torment is deranged.

  • bigjohn756

    Hemant, you left off a word. your “Sorry, children, you’ve been lied to.” should have the word ‘again’ appended.

  • Augusta

    Okay, so I’m a Christian, but I’ve never understood the fixation on this concept at all for a few of reasons:

    1. Christ didn’t really say that he’d be back within the lifetime of his apostles in literal, physical form. He spent the majority of his time talking about how we should live our lives and treat other people.

    2. Most of these rapture theories come from the book of Revelation, which is obviously (one would hope!) metaphorical.

    3. Christ himself said that even HE did not know the day or hour this supposed event would happen. How can Christians claim to know the date? Why would they even try to?

    4. I have also never understood the apparent glee some Christians have over the concept of people getting tossed straight into hell at the moment of the return of Christ. If we’re all supposed to love each other, why would that be a good thing? Not to mention the fact that Christ also never said that, either.

    As a Christian, I don’t know if Christ will return or not in a literal event. If it does happen, I doubt it will be anywhere near my lifetime. I tend to believe that the “revelation of Christ” is a personal, internal experience. There are other Christians that have also come to this conclusion over the centuries.

    It irks me to no end when the church and other believers perpetuate half-baked notions such as this.

  • carlosm7

    I wonder how many backrupcies we will see after that date.

    >>Here’s my question: why does the boy in
    >>that picture have only four fingers,
    >>yet the girl to his right have five?

    According to art lessons I took to learn to draw caricatures in a by mail school called “Continental Schools”, if I remember correctly, they thought me that to save work you could draw just 4 fingers and 3 toes in the case of boys/men, but you should draw all 5 fingers and toes in the case of girls/women.

  • http://everydayatheist.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    Back in my fundie days, practically every new year started with excited proclamations that “this could be the year!” And it was sincere. You sort of have to pity Christians to the extent that they resemble Cubs fans.

  • Augusta

    In response to what Jeffrey A. Myers said:

    I totally agree. When Christians talk about “longing for heaven” or rapture, I am baffled. If they believe God has us here for a purpose, why would they be in such a hurry to get out of here?

  • Kurt

    KenGurley does as much harm to the public perception of Christianity as the nuts who think he’s coming back next May.

    Oh, I disagree on that. The nuts who predict specific dates (usually within their/our own lifetimes and always to no result) do far more harm to the public perception of Christianity (yay)! Moderates can always point to people like Gurley as repairing the harm done by the whackos and stating something closer to what most mainstream Christians believe (i.e. Jesus will come back, but we don’t know when, so keep up those 401(k) contributions).

    You’re all crazy if you think Jesus … left in the first place

    I disagree there too. He definitely left! Exactly like every single human being who was born more than about 116 years ago, he is most certainly dead and gone. End of story!

  • CatBallou

    Unfortunately, I don’t think believers do become disillusioned when the predicted destruction and/or return doesn’t happen. There’s so much psychological pressure to justify the original belief– they’ll just start recalculating. Most people would rather think they’re mistaken in the details than admit that their worldviews are completely unsupported!

  • Kurt

    @ Everyday Atheist – As a once-and-future Chicagoan, you had me spitting coffee on the screen! I’m going to use that comparison from now on, unless and until the Cubs win it all (and in a mirror image to the original story, I’ll go out on a limb and say it won’t be during my lifetime).

  • Matt

    Curses! Foiled by a “real” wacky fundamentalist nutjob.

    I should start my own apologist website so I can “Poe-out”.

  • WishinItWas

    Im trying to find a fundamentalist bookie so that I can bet against the return of jesus, if its written so specifically in the bible as people say then I expect some great odds for being correct when he is a no-show.

    I know none of that makes sense, it was just distracting my thoughts so I chose to share

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    Saying that Jesus is coming back is odd, since no one alive today was alive when Jesus was here before. We don’t have a point of reference when thinking about Jesus’ return.

    It’s even more off the mark when they tell this to children, who are even more separated by time from Jesus.

    Sometimes it seems like they want to worship a marionette puppet.

  • Matt

    @WishinItWas: I thought gambling was a “no no” for those folks. Seems you have a tough search ahead.

  • Don

    I have a proposition for anyone who thinks they’re going to be raptured on May 21.

    I’ll buy your house now, and take possession of it May 22. In exchange I’ll give you $100, which I presume you’ll want to put toward saving a few more souls during the next 5 months.

    That’s something of value (money now), in exchange for something of no value (your house after you leave Earth). Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  • http://shadowgm.diaryland.com Bob

    Jesus’ Return = Epicycles.

    When it doesn’t happen and you can’t explain it, just add another one.

  • Daryl

    I suppose if you have the control beliefs that Jesus conquered death and is the son of God, then believing that he might return one day is probably quite reasonable. You’re already swallowing some fairly implausible things, so why not go the extra yard? Jesus is God; he can do anything.
    Having said this, it does boggle the mind that educated adults can believe this stuff. Jesus’ return is one clearest instance of a failed prophesy. Does this make a difference to committed Christians? Of course not. Instead, we get things like Preterism and futurism, all designed to get the inerrant bible off the hook. I sometimes think Christianity is nothing more than a series of after the fact rationalisations to assuage the thunderous cognitive dissonance that must buzz incessantly in believers’ minds like a bee in jar. It was probably like this for the earliest Christians, and it’s similar for Christians today. Any trick to avoid cold hard reality must be grasped, even if it means deluding yourself.

  • WishinItWas

    @ Matt
    There are so many denominations, one of them has to be crazy enough to justify it! I mean the whole “Love your neighbor” thing is lost on the westborough people when it comes to homosexuality.

    worst case they can repent, confess, be saved right before big J gets here huh? ?

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    All,

    Sorry I am a bit slow to respond. I have not had much of a chance to blog today.

    ACN, Kilre,

    Google search “partial preterism.”

    Matt,

    What is a poe?

    Bennerbits,

    I’ve shared plenty of evidence on my blog. The post author made an assertion, so I did too.

    Rieux,

    You can make assertions almost as well as the blog author;-)

    I am flattered that you consider my blog a run of the mill apologetics site. I am an amateur, and I think that is a compliment. I am certainly not the best out there by a long stretch.

    Judith Bandma,

    J is for “John.”
    Again, google “partial preterism.”
    On the stoning, please read John 8. I don’t stone people. I hear you don’t eat babies. Maybe we can talk.

    Chicago Dyke,

    The cults are not just interesting; they are downright scary.

    I don’t sustain BS.

    Besides, there are no “decent Christians.” The first thing I had to admit before I joined my church was that I was a sinner, and they had never made me go back on that assertion.

    Jeffery A. Myers,

    Many of us are more down to earth than that.

    JK

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones
  • Rieux

    J.K.:

    Rieux,

    You can make assertions almost as well as the blog author;-)

    So can you. What’s your point?

    You asserted that “We have plenty of evidence that Jesus came the first time,” and that “We have plenty of evidence that Jesus keeps his promises.” You provided no support for these assertions; in fact, they are false. Exactly how does it help your case to point out that denials of your assertions are themselves assertions?

    I am flattered that you consider my blog a run of the mill apologetics site. I am an amateur, and I think that is a compliment. I am certainly not the best out there by a long stretch.

    I’m not sure you understand what the phrase “run-of-the-mill” means. As a hint, it contains not the slightest sense of superlative quality.

    I would (and did) say that your blog is ordinary by apologist standards. If you prefer to pretend that that’s a compliment, well, I guess that’s your own business.

  • Rieux

    Augusta:

    Christ didn’t really say that he’d be back within the lifetime of his apostles in literal, physical form.

    That’s your interpretation. It is certainly not every Christian’s; the numerous references in the NT to the Second Coming neither require nor contradict a “literal, physical” reincarnation. For example:

    And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 24:30-31

    You can read that to involve a “literal, physical” reincarnation. Or not. Nothing in the Bible settles that question.

    He spent the majority of his time talking about how we should live our lives and treat other people.

    Very debatable. He spent a very large amount of his time (see below) shrieking that people who defied him would burn in Hell. He preached about that much, much more than he did about love or peace or blessing.

    Most of these rapture theories come from the book of Revelation, which is obviously (one would hope!) metaphorical.

    What do you mean, “obviously”? That’s not self-evident at all; it’s just the spin you have chosen to place on Revelation.

    How come you get to blithely dismiss the religious faith of millions of people, but we atheists don’t get to blithely dismiss yours?

    Christ himself said that even HE did not know the day or hour this supposed event would happen.

    Whaa? What are you talking about?

    It certainly appears that this is what you have in mind:

    This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 24:34-36

    You read that and claim that Jesus was saying he (“He”) didn’t know “that day and hour”—that is, Jesus is a “man” and not God?

    You do realize that Trinitarian Christians once murdered thousands upon thousands of folks for expressing the same sort of (Arian) heresy that you just did, right?

    How can Christians claim to know the date?

    Clearly, because they think Scripture gives them adequate grounds to conclude that the Second Coming will occur on that date.

    Their conclusion seems pretty loony to me, too—but no more so than Christianity generally.

    Why would they even try to?

    You can’t imagine any advantage to figuring out when the Rapture and Tribulation (among other Events that Need Capital Letters) are going to occur? Really?

    I have also never understood the apparent glee some Christians have over the concept of people getting tossed straight into hell at the moment of the return of Christ. If we’re all supposed to love each other, why would that be a good thing?

    That’s a very good question—but surely it needs to be directed at the hundreds of millions of Christians who believe, with extremely good Scriptural reason, that the unsaved go to Hell.

    Do you not believe in Hell? If you do, exactly how is your belief any less ugly than the “apparent glee” you disdain from these folks? Doesn’t a god that sentences people to eternal damnation for finite crimes deserve to be denounced and detested, rather than worshipped and loved?

    Not to mention the fact that Christ also never said that, either.

    Which part? As noted, the Gospels’ Jesus has considerably more to say (or, perhaps, to scream) about the hellfire and damnation of his enemies than about absolutely any other thing. If you want “apparent glee,” get a load of the delight that hero of yours shows in promising his enemies that they’ll BURN:

    [W]hosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 5:22

    if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 5:29-30

    Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 8:10-12

    [F]ear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 10:28

    [T]hou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 11:23-24

    The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 13:41-42

    [T]he kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 13:47-50

    Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 18:7-9

    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

    – Jesus, in Matthew 23:14-15

    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! … Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

    – Jesus, in Matthew 23:29, 33

    Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    – Jesus, in  Matthew 25:40-46

    Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.

    – Jesus, in Mark 3:28-29

    if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

    – Jesus, in Mark 9:43-49

    Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

    – Jesus, in Mark 12:38-40

    O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

    – Jesus, in Luke 3:7-9

    [I]nto whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.

    – Jesus, in Luke 10:10-15

    Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

    – Jesus, in Luke 12:4-5

    [I]t came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

    – Jesus, in Luke 16:22-31

    Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.

    – Jesus, in Luke 20:46-47

    [T]he hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    – Jesus, in John 5:28-29

    What a guy, huh?

    (If it helps any, Muhammad is even worse.)

    I tend to believe that the “revelation of Christ” is a personal, internal experience. There are other Christians that have also come to this conclusion over the centuries.

    That’s nice, but that belief of yours is no better-founded than are the beliefs you’re scoffing at here. You don’t have any better reason to believe “that the ‘revelation of Christ’ is a personal, internal experience” than other Christians have to believe in the full Left Behind horror show. It certainly appears that you’re all just picking and choosing the realities you prefer—and in these parts, many of us don’t think that exercise is worthy of respect.

    It irks me to no end when the church and other believers perpetuate half-baked notions such as this.

    Given that your alternatives are exactly as half-baked, perhaps they irk Tribulationists just as much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 Donna Hamel (muggle)

    Shrug. It’s their silly beliefs again.

    Except — All too many of them work to make the second coming happen and do to many bad things to bring it about. War? Yay! Must be a sign Jebus is coming soon. Israel is always right, of course. God’s kingdom and all the Jews will be returned to the holy land. Bomb those Palestines. And we answer to god’s laws not man’s.

    Once again, their disease is killing me.

  • http://godlessartist.blogspot.com/ Kilre

    ACN, Kilre,

    Google search “partial preterism.”

    All I found were heaps of apologetics, which aren’t proof of anything you said, sadly. Mildly entertaining thought experiments if you believe that sort of thing.

  • maddogdelta

    I think we need to book a couple of tables at Milliways. Then we can see if he really does come back.

  • Jeff

    Jesus. Is. Coming. Back.

    You. Have. No. Clue.

  • ACN

    ACN, Kilre,

    Google search “partial preterism.”

    I actually don’t even need to, as a former christian, I happen to know exactly what you’re talking about.

    It is nonsense.

  • Blood Red Fox

    Rieux said:

    You read that and claim that Jesus was saying he (“He”) didn’t know “that day and hour”—that is, Jesus is a “man” and not God?

    Umm… maybe you should try looking at more than one book before you screech at that guy?

    You should be looking at Mark, not Matthew.

    Mark 13:32 in the New International Version reads:

    “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Rieux,

    “… You provided no support for these assertions; in fact, they are false. …”

    I did point to other places where that evidence resides, for example http://www.4truth.net/jesus and my own very humble little blog.

    “I’m not sure you understand what the phrase “run-of-the-mill” means. As a hint, it contains not the slightest sense of superlative quality… your blog is ordinary by apologist standards.”

    All I shoot for, being such an amateur, is ordinary / average / ‘run of the mill.’

    Kilre, ACN,

    Partial preterism is a pretty good explanation, really. That parts of Christ’s discourse refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. There are natural breaks in the passage that support this.

    There are other, more straightforward explanations, such as that Jesus was referring to the people of Israel as a people. It is a possible translation of the Greek.

    I would still like to know what a poe is.

    JK

  • Rieux

    J.K.:

    I did point to other places where that evidence resides….

    Yes, well, I for one am not interested in rooting around in a lot of Christian apologist nonsense to find some sorry excuse for evidence of Jesus’ existence.

    You asserted it—here. You provide the evidence—here. Or cut it out with the assertions.

  • ACN

    I’ll give you the quote from wikipedia:

    Poe’s law (religious fundamentalism) — “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” named after Nathan Poe who formulated it on christianforums.com in 2005. Although it originally referred to creationism, the scope later widened to religious fundamentalism.

    basically, people were saying they couldn’t tell if you were joking or not.

    Even if I somehow agreed with you on the existence of god, the divinity of christ, the reliability of the bible as a historical document, and I don’t, you still have to contend with the fact that a large number of reputable biblical scholars think Revelation was written circa CE 90-95. This date is due primarily due to the writings of an early church father from the mid 2nd century who claims to have known the author personally! I don’t remember who, but I was interested in/studied this issue while I was a christian.

    But it gets worse, there is no external evidence at all that the book was written in CE 70, rather that interpretation is purely based on people wanting the “beasts” in chapter 17 to be a particular succession of Roman Emperors. If you claim that this book is prophecy, all it would have had to have said is:

    “I am John, and I write during the reign of Nero, and God has told me that the temple will be destroyed X number of days into Nero’s reign”

    and then we’d have a legitimate internal evidence for the early date of the book that doesn’t depend on wishful interpretation. But AT MOST, that would get you a tension between the dating of the church father and the early date.

    Now, the whole issue could have been resolved if your deity had seen fit to allow an early manuscript survive, but the earliest manuscript of Revelation we have is from the late 2nd century.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Rieux,

    I will not hi-jack another person’s blog with long ramblings without the author’s permission anymore. Just doesn’t seem right to me, even though it used to.

    The links are not hard to follow.

    ACN,

    The second century is quite early for a manuscript in view of some of the other things we accept as reliable (Caesar’s Gallic Wars for example). And keep in mind how widely circulated that manuscript must have been. Circulation in that part of the world for widespread use did not take place all at once.

    Besides, I though we were discussing the passages for Christ’s teaching on the end times from the gospels. Those are dated by most scholars much earlier.

    Thanks for the explanation of what a “poe” is. It’s a very effective insult. Reminds me of something James Patrick Holding might say.

    I am quite sincere, for what it is worth.

  • GentleGiant

    J.K., if you can produce irrefutable evidence (confirmed by reputable sources outside of the Bible) of the historicy of Jesus, not just hints, allegations and things left unsaid, then I’m sure Hemant would give you an entire blog post all to yourself and you wouldn’t have to feel bad about rambling on without the author of the blog’s permission.
    Go ahead, we’re waiting…

  • Rieux

    J.K.:

    The links are not hard to follow.

    But the material they require one to wade through is ludicrous garbage.

    I want to see precisely what you think is this fabulous “evidence.” Coy excuses about “hijacking” a Friendly Atheist thread—on the subject of not waiting up for Jesus, yet—don’t cut it. Put up or shut up.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    GentleGiant,

    OK. I can give a brief outline of sources outside the Bible. It will take a day or two for me to build some links to make the outline useful.

    Rieux,

    You assert the links are “ludicrous garbage.” How so? You should not make mere assertions either.

  • Rieux

    You assert the links are “ludicrous garbage.”

    No, I don’t.

    If this is any indication of the care with which you address evidence, the outline you’ve promised ought to be hilarious.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Rieux,

    You said, “But the material they require one to wade through is ludicrous garbage.”

    Prove it.

    JK

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    I found some time. Here’s the promised brief outline:

    Source: http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbjesus.aspx?pageid=8589952895

    The Jewish rabbinical traditions (Talmud) refers to Christ. It’s interesting that he is accused of sorcery, a miracle worker would incite a charge like that one.
    The first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, mentions “Jesus who is called the Christ” in his Jewish Antiquities at least once.

    Cornelius Tacitus in his Annals mentions: “Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus” (15:44). He also mentions many details of the early Christians and their lives. Tacitus was not a friend to Christianity.

    Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus mentioned Jesus and early Christians in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars.

    Pliny the Younger, the Roman governor of Bithynia, mentions Christ three times.
    Theudas and Mara bar Serapion mention Jesus as well.

    That’s the outline.

    I would also like to mention that the Bible is a first-rate historical document as well. It is not circular reasoning to refer to the Bible as an historical document and then reason from that to the Bible as God’s Word. It should not be ruled out of bounds.

    JK

  • ACN

    1) Josephus was born in 37 CE and couldn’t have been a contemporary of Jesus. Even if you want to try and argue he is a valuable secondary source, the passage where he mentions Jesus is absent from the earliest versions of the manuscript. It was an interpolation added in the 4th century, probably by the bishop Eusebius, who was not only the first recorded person to quote that passage, but also claimed that it was permissible for historians to make things up if it suited their narrative.

    2) I don’t think you’re right about Pliny the Younger. I’ve only ever seen 1 reference from his works, and it says something to the effect of “Christians were singing hymns to Christ”. This isn’t about jesus at all. It is about what christians were doing! Also, he wrote in the 2nd century, so he can’t possibly be a primary source.

    3) I’ll give the whole quote from Tacitus:

    Nero looked around for a scapegoat, and inflicted the most fiendish tortures on a group of persons already hated for their crimes. This was the sect known as Christians. Their founder, one Christus, had been put to death by the procurator, Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. This Checked the abominable superstition for a while, but it broke out again and spread, not merely through Judea, where it originated, but even to Rome itself, the great reservoir and collecting ground for every kind of depravity and filth. Those who confessed to being Christians were at once arrested, but on their testimony a great crowd of people were convinced, not so much on the charge of arson, but of hatred of the entire human race

    Tacitus was writing after 117 or so CE, he is not providing any first-hand knowledge about Jesus of Nazareth, he is simply reporting the common ideas about christians. If a modern historian wrote that:

    Mormons believed that Joseph Smith was visited by the angel Moroni…

    this would not be confirmation of an actual angle visitation! On top of that, we have no other (at least that I know of!) evidence that Nero persecuted Christians, although we know that he persecuted Jews so there could have been some confusion. However, there weren’t a whole lot of Christians in Rome in 60 CE and the term Christian wasn’t really supposed to have been in use until the 2nd century anyway. We’re also pretty sure that Nero didn’t actually burn Rome down either, so there was no need for a scapegoat of any type in the first place!
    This has led many historians to conclude that Tacitus was either doctoring history intentionally, or was repeating stuff without fact-checking.

    4) Suetonius never actually mentions “Jesus of Nazareth”, he mentions a guy named “Chrestus”, a relatively common name, in whose name there was a small Jew uprising during the reign of Claudius. He also mentions Nero inflicting punishment on Christians. There is never any mention of Jesus by name.

    What makes you think that the Bible is a first rate historical document?

  • Rieux

    J.K.:

    You said, “But the material they require one to wade through is ludicrous garbage.”

    Yes, I did. And as soon as you notice the fundamental difference between that statement and your mischaracterization of it—”You assert the links are ‘ludicrous garbage’“—I’ll give you your first Cub Scout merit badge in reading comprehension.

    Prove it.

    No.

    I don’t care about silly apologist websites. You evidently care enough about this website, and that fabulous “plenty of evidence that Jesus came the first time, left, and promised to come again” and “that Jesus keeps his promises” you trumpeted, to waltz in here and shoot your mouth off about it.

    I’ll put up or shut up about the stupidity of your favorite apologists when I’m on their sites. That’s not now.

    Then: your evidence. Just as we suspected, you’ve swallowed apologist lies hook, line, and sinker.

    The Jewish rabbinical traditions (Talmud) refers to Christ.

    Fail.

    The problem with the Talmud is this – it is not an objective history, but a polemic. It is obvious that the above verse is not a description of something that actually happened; rather, it is a Jewish retort to the New Testament accusation that the trial and execution of Jesus took place secretly and in haste. Theological biases render historical accounts unreliable, and this is just as true for the Jews who were answering Christian accusations as for the Christians who were making them. By the time the Talmud was compiled, centuries after Jesus’ alleged death and after the Jewish War which caused vast destruction in Jerusalem and scattered the Jewish people to the winds, third-century rabbis would have been in no position to be able to refute the very existence of Jesus (not to mention that they also lacked the exegetical techniques that would have allowed them to even suspect such a possibility). It would have been much easier to grant his existence and then slant the stories about him to favor their side of the argument rather than the Christians’, and this is exactly what happened.

    Furthermore, the Talmud is without value as a historical account because it dramatically contradicts the Christian version of events, and even contradicts itself in numerous places, when speaking about Jesus. Note that the above verse says he was hanged, not crucified. There are others that say he died by stoning, not at Calvary, but at Lydda, and not by the Romans, but by the Jews. Some Talmudic verses say Jesus was the son of a Roman soldier, others say he was a magician. One mention of Jesus places his life at the time of the Maccabean kings, around 100 BCE, while another says his parents were contemporaries of a second-century rabbi. Such fragmented and inconsistent accounts show that the Talmud cannot possibly be accurate history; if it were describing true events, it would be impossible for it to contradict itself. This, combined with its late writing date, makes it even weaker than the other accounts as evidence of Jesus’ existence.

    The first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus….

    Fail.

    To anyone unfamiliar with the debates swirling around this passage, it might appear to provide startling corroboration of the Gospel stories in virtually every detail. In fact, it seems too fantastic to be true. And indeed, this is the consensus of the overwhelming majority of critical scholars today. No one argues other than that the Testimonium Flavianum is, at least in part, a forgery, a later interpolation into Josephus’ work. We can be certain of this for several reasons. One is that the enthusiastic endorsement of Jesus’ miracles could only have been written by a Christian, and Josephus was not a Christian. He was an orthodox Jew and remained so his entire life. The church father Origen, who quoted freely from Josephus, wrote that he was “not believing in Jesus as the Christ”. Furthermore, in The Jewish War, Josephus specifically states his belief that the Roman emperor Vespasian was the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies – which is what got him his job in the first place.

    ….

    [I]f Josephus really had written the “him called Christ” phrase, it is difficult to believe he would have left it at that without further elaboration. After all, to call someone “Christ” is a claim that is presumptuous in the extreme – it makes that person out to be the God-sent messiah, the long-awaited savior the Jews had been promised who would establish God’s kingdom on earth for all time. It seems very likely that Josephus would include at least a brief discussion of the actions of the person who would dare to take such a lofty mantle on himself, even if he did not believe that person’s messianic claims. But no such discussion is to be found anywhere in Josephus, and thus we can confidently conclude that this is because he never wrote this phrase in the first place.

    Cornelius Tacitus in his Annals….

    Fail.

    Tacitus did not write this until almost one hundred years after Jesus supposedly lived. Thus, he cannot provide first-hand evidence for the existence of Jesus, and it therefore makes sense to ask where he did get his information from – what his sources were.

    The idea that Tacitus got his information from official Roman records seems highly unlikely. There is no evidence that the Romans kept meticulous records extending back almost a century of every single crucifixion carried out in every corner of the empire, and that possibility is further reduced by the fact that Rome had essentially burned to the ground in the interim (which is what Tacitus was writing about in the quoted paragraph). The most likely scenario is that Tacitus was getting his facts from contemporary Christian sources; he would have had no reason to doubt them. This passage, therefore, is probably based on later Christian hearsay and is weak as evidence for a historical Jesus.

    Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus….

    Fail.

    As historical evidence for the existence of Jesus, this verse is very weak. A number of anomalies immediately crop up upon reading it. One is that Jesus’ name is seemingly misspelled. But on further examination, this may not be a misspelling at all. “Chrestus” does not mean “Christ” (that would have been “Christus”) – rather, “Chrestus” was a perfectly valid Latin name in its own right, and a very common one as well. It may well be that this passage is referring to some unknown Jewish agitator, perhaps another messianic pretender such as the ones Josephus describes. Furthermore, Claudius was the Roman emperor from 41 to 54 CE. There is no indication historically that Christianity had spread to Rome by this time, or that it was powerful enough to have caused a revolt. Note, too, that the passage says it was not Christians who were causing disturbances, but Jews – and Suetonius does write about Christians elsewhere in his works, so he plainly knew the difference.

    Finally, it is worth noting when this passage was written. After Josephus, the chronologically nearest witness to Jesus’ life the apologists have to offer, we now leap to 120 CE. An ambiguous reference to a person who might have been Christianity’s founder, written over seventy years after his supposed death, is hardly compelling evidence for the existence of Jesus.

    Mara bar Serapion….

    Fail.

    First, it should be noted that the dating of this letter is very uncertain. Even the earliest estimates place it around 70 CE, over 40 years after Jesus’ death, while some historians have dated it well into the third century. Secondly, and far more importantly, the letter does not even mention Jesus by name – it only refers to a “wise king”, and does not mention any specific deeds or sayings of this individual. It could be referring to any of the messianic pretenders of the first century, or someone else entirely unknown to us. There is no way to tell. In fact, it seems less likely that Bar-Serapion meant Jesus than any other would-be messiah, since Jesus was killed by the Romans, not by the Jews. The fact that he does not even name this “wise king”, whereas he does name Socrates and Pythagoras, suggests that Bar-Serapion knew almost nothing about him. Therefore, as confirmation of the historicity of Jesus, his testimony is without merit.

    Theudas … mention[s] Jesus as well.

    Bwahahahahaha!

    Does he, now? Theudas, eh?

    Well, burst my buttons! Perhaps you can direct us to this fabulous document in which Theudas—Theudas, a First Century Jewish rebel and “charlatan” whom we only know of via passing references in Josephus and (debatably) Acts, who never wrote anything that survives to our era—”mention[s] Jesus”?

    You’re simply flatly ignorant about this topic. You’re gullibly repeating the nonsense told to you by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

    Apropos of your Josephus cite, you’re just pulling the same Lying For Jesus trick that your forefather Eusebius did 1,700 years ago. How silly.

    But then, the topper:

    I would also like to mention that the Bible is a first-rate historical document as well.

    You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    The Bible is a record of fantastic myth. The Gospels in particular were passed down for decades at least by word of mouth; there is no reason to believe that any of it carries the slightest shred of historical fact, any more than tales of Zeus or Odin do. It simply takes incredible ignorance and/or dishonesty to avoid these realities.

    Not all of us are as craven as you and your mindless sources are.

    (Hey, look—I did “prove” that (one particular piece of) the material at your links is ludicrous garbage!)

    The quest for the historical Jesus is an abject failure. After hundreds of years, and probably millions of person-hours, reconstructions of Jesus are no better than the one of Reimarus in the eighteenth century. Reimarus had nearly exhausted the critical search for any historicity, and he found mostly a myth. Even if we do not accept all of Reimarus’s conclusions, we can say that he had a plausible scenario based on verifiable phenomena that we can see exist today (people can steal bodies; people can lie; invention requires only an imagination and a pen; etc.).

    Further progress is futile because we simply don’t have any preserved accounts of Jesus from his time or from any proven eyewitnesses. And even if we were to discover lots of new material mentioning Jesus in his supposed lifetime, such material still would not render us surer of anything. After all, we possess an abundance of contemporary material about Mary at Medjugorje but most Protestant apologists easily dismiss it. Contemporaneity means very little after all if we cannot verify the information in any contemporary reports.

    - Hector Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies

    The Gospels can no longer support a rational belief in anything they allege to have occurred, at least not without external, unbiased corroboration, which we do not have for any of the essential, much less supernatural details of the story. And if Alvar Ellegård is right (Jesus One Hundred Years Before Christ, Overlook, 1999), Mark was almost entirely fiction, written after the sack of Jerusalem to freeze in symbolic prose the metaphorical message of Christianity, a faith which began with a Jesus executed long before the Roman conquest, who then appeared in visions (like that which converted Paul) a century later, in the time of Pilate, to inspire the new creed. What is important is not that this can be decisively proven—nothing can, as our information is too thin, too scarce, too unreliable to decisively prove anything about the origins of Christianity. What is important is that theories like Ellegård’s can’t be disproven, either—it is one among many distinctly possible accounts of what really happened at the dawn of Christianity, which MacDonald’s book now makes even more plausible. And so long as it remains possible, even plausible, that the bulk of Mark is fiction, the contrary belief that it is fact can never be secure.

    – Richard Carrier, review of Dennis MacDonald’s The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark

  • Daryl

    ACN

    the passage where he [Josephus] mentions Jesus is absent from the earliest versions of the manuscript.

    Actually, the passage is in all manuscripts of Antiquities that are extant. It’s just the passage wasn’t mentioned until the 4th century where Eusebius quotes it in his history of the church. As you mentioned, he is a candidate for the interpolation. It beggars belief that earlier Christians ignored such a juicy historical source for the best part of two centuries before Eusebius happened to noticed it.

    The fact that this and the other Jesus passage in Antiquities are clung on to by opportunistic apologists and sophisticated biblical scholars alike really does show how poor the evidence is. It is likely there is NO primary sources for Jesus. That wouldn’t be so bad if the secondary sources were compiled by responsible historians who named themselves and the sources they were using, and told us when and where they were written. But the gospels….

  • GentleGiant

    ACN and Daryl have already helped debunk the “sources” you came up with J.K.
    One would think that a guy who supposedly did all the stuff Jesus is attributed would have been mentioned several other places too. He is not.
    Like I said, reputable sources and not just hearsay. Of which you’ve given none. Just some spurious anecdotes, at least one of which is also considered to be a forgery, that just happens to coincide with what you (and other believers) really want them to say. Those that mention some “leader” refer to him as Chrestus (or a similar spelling), which just means “the annointed one” – again giving no indication that this is the Jesus of Nazareth you’d like it to be, but could be any semi-”holy” figure.

  • Rieux

    GentleGiant:

    ACN and Daryl have already helped debunk the “sources” you came up with J.K.

    Hey! So did I!

    (‘Course, the actual credit for the lion’s share of my comment goes to Ebonmuse and Earl Doherty, but never mind.)

  • ACN

    daryl,
    You’re absolutely correct about the josephus passage. I forgot to mention why we think it is absent from the original, there was an early christian apologist whose name now eludes me who quoted extensively from josephus who would have hammered that passage as an ace in the hole if it wasnt a later interpolation.

  • GentleGiant

    Sorry Rieux! Your post appeared while I wrote my post and researched some of J.K’s claims. :-)

  • Robert W.

    Rieux,

    “You’re simply flatly ignorant about this topic. You’re gullibly repeating the nonsense told to you by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.”

    You make that comment after going to an atheist apologist website and spitting out what was stated there? By the way you do know that Ebon Musings is not the name of a person? The actual essay you quote from doesn’t name its author.

    As far as Earl Doherty’s qualifications he has a bachelor’s degree in Ancient history and is an Atheist. Hardly steller qualifications and clearly looking at history from a bias (the same bias you accuse the sites J.K. Jones of having). His work as received no scholarly approval and in fact his book the Jesus Puzzle was roundly criticized as being a hack job. His whole theory of Christianity being build upon a mythical Christ has been rejected.

    Hardly a “fail”.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Rieux and others,

    On the Talmud, what better place to find out some information on a controversial figure than to turn to the polemical writings of his enemies? As for the lines about theological biases making historical accounts unreliable, everybody has theological and / or philosophical biases that they bring to the subjects in question. You do. I do. Any witness of the events would. No one is free from bias, and bias does not discount historical accounts or there would be no objective history at all.

    Josephus mentioned Jesus twice. One of the mentions, which highlights James the brother of Jesus, is not controversial. Another manuscript tradition was discovered in 1972 that clears up the issues on the controversial passage in the view of all but a few extremist scholars. See this link for more info.: http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbjesus.aspx?pageid=8589952897

    I’ll leave the rest to those more qualified than me and in the interest of time and go straight to the Bible.

    Several reliable scientific studies have shown that oral tradition can be a reliable way to pass down accurate historical information in those cultures which rely on it. I would point you to two books that cite those studies: The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Blomberg and Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Bauckham.

    One of those oral traditions was received by the Apostle Paul early on in the history of the Christian
    Church in the form of a creed, which he recorded in writing in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 in about AD 55. So within 22 years or less we have an account of Jesus’ resurrection that mentions James, the skeptical brother of Jesus, more than five hundred witnesses who were probably still alive, and the converted skeptic Paul. 22 years is a snap-shoot in time. On top of that, one scholar, Craig Blomberg, traces Paul’s learning of the creed to within 10 years of Christ’s death. (Some of Blomberg’s work can be found here: http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbbible.aspx?pageid=8589952775 and here: http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbbible.aspx?pageid=8589952783).

    The Bible contains very early historical accounts of events that we cannot just ignore.

    JK

  • Rieux

    No worries, GentleGiant. It was a silly quibble on my part.

    Bobby Dubs:

    You make that comment after going to an atheist apologist website and spitting out what was stated there?

    I quoted facts and reasoning that directly refute J.K.’s mindless citations. Your equally mindless Arguments from Authority (or alleged lack thereof) are fallacious and irrelevant.

    You can prattle on about the fabulous qualifications of your Liars for Jesus all you’d like. Arguments are decided by facts and reasoning, not your cherry-picked appeals to authority. (Funny how you couldn’t figure out reasons to dismiss Avalos’s, Carrier’s, Ellegård’s or MacDonald’s credentials, hm? Nice hypocrisy.)

    By the way you do know that Ebon Musings is not the name of a person?

    For pity’s sakes, do you guys get together to brag about your refusal to read simple sentences? Here’s what I wrote, genius:

    (‘Course, the actual credit for the lion’s share of my comment goes to Ebonmuse and Earl Doherty, but never mind.)

    So where, now, did I assert or imply that “Ebon Musings is the name of a person”?

    In fact, as you might have discovered if you weren’t so intent on posting ignorant nonsense, the name I actually used—Ebonmusedoes happen to be the pen name of the author of that essay:

    Welcome! If you’ve come across this website and want to know more about who’s behind it, then you’re in the right place. My name is Adam Lee, but I usually write under the pen name Ebonmuse (a throwback to my original website). I’m the author and proprietor of Daylight Atheism, and all the posts you’ll find here are written by me, unless noted otherwise.

    I’ve met Adam, pal. I know perfectly well who he is and what he has written. Please don’t project your self-satisfied ignorance onto others here.

  • Robert W.

    Rieux,

    What facts and reasoning? You have presented none. All you have done is take an essay from an atheist blogger , Mr. Lee who describes himself as an amateur, who really was just quoting from the Jesus Puzzle by Doherty, who we have already discussed. And by the way who you don’t defend in your most recent post.

    You call those that say the evidence supports the real Jesus as being “Liars for Christ”, because they are Christians. To be consistent then you should also agree that atheists would be equally biased the other direction.

    Hector Avalos- atheist
    Richard Carrier-atheist (who at least admits that his hypothesis that Jesus is a myth hasn’t been peer reviewed)and who admits that his goal is to convert people from their faith (according to his blog where he discusses his debate with William Lane Craig)
    Alvar Ellegard- atheist and English professor

    As for Dennis MacDonald he doesn’t believe that Jesus is a myth. Your man, Richard Carrier apparently doesn’t believe that MacDonald’s work supports that Jesus was a myth. Here is what he says:

    “I do not believe that this entails that Jesus was a myth, however—and MacDonald himself is not a mythicist, but assumes that something of a historical Jesus lies behind the fictions of Mark. Although MacDonald’s book could be used to contribute to a mythicist’s case, everything this book proves about Mark is still compatible with there having been a real man, a teacher, even a real “miracle worker” in a subjective sense, or a real event that inspired belief in some kind of resurrection, and so on, which was then suitably dressed up in allegory and symbol.”

    So it looks like your appeal to authority fails.

  • sven

    Most overlooked fact about bibles: They’re just books.

  • GentleGiant

    But even “a real man, a teacher, even a real “miracle worker” in a subjective sense, or a real event that inspired belief in some kind of resurrection, and so on, which was then suitably dressed up in allegory and symbol” doesn’t = Jesus as described in the Bible.
    Again, there simply is no factual evidence of him having ever existed.
    The case grows even more suspect when you compare him to all the other previous examples of similar characters in mythology (Horus, Attis, Krishna, Mithra, Dionysus etc.), coupled with the stories of several other small-time “prophesied saviours” walking around the same region of the Middle East at the time (apparently one guy could also walk through walls).

  • Rieux

    What facts and reasoning? You have presented none.

    What a hilarious lie. My December 8th, 2010 10:45 am comment above is crammed with facts and reasoning. You’ve just trucked in a mindless fallacy to justify your pretending that material doesn’t exist, to wit:

    Mr. Lee who describes himself as an amateur, who really was just quoting from the Jesus Puzzle by Doherty, who we have already discussed.

    Authority fallacy. You lose.

    Facts and reasoning, not sheepskin. Pretending the former don’t exist even when they’re staring you in the face doesn’t make them go away.

    You call those that say the evidence supports the real Jesus as being “Liars for Christ”, because they are Christians.

    False. I call them “Liars for Christ” because they are lying, and because they are doing it for Christ. Plenty of Christians aren’t as dishonest as you are. (Thank goodness.)

    Hector Avalos- atheist….

    Ad hominem. You lose.

    So it looks like your appeal to authority fails.

    Wake up. I made no appeal to authority. I just pointed out that your mindless use of the authority fallacy was pure hypocrisy, because you failed to note that several sources I quoted have plenty of sheepskin.

    But, for the nth time, that’s actually irrelevant. Lee, Doherty, Avalos, Carrier, Ellegård, and MacDonald are worth listening to because of the strength of the cases they make, not because of their respective degrees. Perhaps if you cared the slightest amount about reason, and indeed about reality, you’d notice that.

  • Sven

    Thinking about the rapture thing, what will xtians be buying each other for their last christmas? And will screaming Bill ‘o Reilly realize this year it will be his last chance to fuel his imaginary war on christmas?

  • Robert W.

    Rieux,

    What a hilarious lie. My December 8th, 2010 10:45 am comment above is crammed with facts and reasoning. You’ve just trucked in a mindless fallacy to justify your pretending that material doesn’t exist,

    So your argument style is- someone disagrees with you so you call them a liar and then ignore what they actually wrote. Not very persuasive.

    I was aware of your Dec. 8 post when I said you presented no facts or reasoning. I stand by what I said. Calling something “facts and reasoning” doesn’t make it so. The analysis that you have shown from Mr. Lee are simply quotes from Doherty’s theories which have been discounted by scholars. Including Richard Carrier who says:

    Although he is partly a supporter of Doherty, Richard Carrier wrote:
    “This is another example of my chief complaints against Doherty: though his theory is plausible, it is not proven. He lacks the kind of evidence he needs to secure his case as probable …
    … his theory does not have the kind of direct evidence I (and other professional historians) would need to be convinced …
    But the point is: a mythic Jesus could still also be a historic Jesus, i.e. the myth would be layered on top, possibly obscuring most of the truth, just as most scholars today believe to be the case …
    Doherty’s case is not strong enough to justify telling the historicists that their claim is incredible or refuted.”

    False. I call them “Liars for Christ” because they are lying, and because they are doing it for Christ. Plenty of Christians aren’t as dishonest as you are. (Thank goodness.)

    Calling someone a liar without backing it up doesn’t work. If you have no evidence to claim someone is lying then you are saying it solely out of bias because they don’t agree with you. Show where any of these “liars for Christ” are lying and I will be happy to discuss it with you, but if you don’t have any information you are simply slandering without any basis.

    As far as Hector Avalos, you are correct. I didn’t post the criticism of his work Here is some of it:

    Helmut Koester is a German-born American scholar of the New Testament, and currently Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School…

    , who is currently Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School, argues that Avalos reveals “a deep ignorance” of the realities of American religious life and Biblical scholarship in general. In Koester’s review of Avalos’ book, “The End of Biblical Studies”, he writes:

    Perhaps I should not be surprised that a scholar who has advocated a Biblical nihilism and has recommended that Biblical Studies should be ‘tasked with eliminating completely the influence of the Bible in the modern world’ would launch an attack on the discipline of Biblical archaeology and on a magazine that is Biblical archaeology’s most important outlet…What would be required for such an endeavor, however, is knowledge of the realities of American religious life and Biblical scholarship in general, as well as the details of the controversial issues in present debates. Unfortunately Professor Avalos reveals a deep ignorance in both respects.

    Then you say

    But, for the nth time, that’s actually irrelevant. Lee, Doherty, Avalos, Carrier, Ellegård, and MacDonald are worth listening to because of the strength of the cases they make, not because of their respective degrees. Perhaps if you cared the slightest amount about reason, and indeed about reality, you’d notice that.

    Actually I do know that and you have shown us nothing as to why their cases merit consideration. For example, as to Ellegard’s theory Carrier even says “if he is correct” and the theory is nothing more then a possibility.

    As far as MacDonald, I posted what Carrier thought about his work. You didn’t comment on that so I guess you didn’t like that reason and reality.

    Finally as far as the Josephus text, your argument about them is wrong and you should know it. (Maybe you do and you are lying, but I won’t pretend to know your motive as you do to me)

    It is well accepted even by Biblical scholars that some of the phrases within that passage are later additions probably by a Christian scribe. However, the remaining portion which is not in dispute remains as evidence of the real historical Jesus. It is enhanced in a later passage where Josephus refers to James, Jesus’ brother being taken to trial and killed.

    Here it is:

    We also find from Josephus a reference to James the brother of Jesus. In Antiquities XX 9:1 he describes the actions of the high priest Ananus:

    But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.

    By the way this is a very accurate description of James death in Acts 12.

  • sven

    It is well accepted even by Biblical scholars that some of the phrases within that passage are later additions probably by a Christian scribe. However, the remaining portion which is not in dispute remains as evidence of the real historical Jesus.

    Bilbes are just books, there is no evidence in there.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    Tell that to the archeologists and historians.

  • sven

    Robert W
    Than there is evidence in Harry Potter books as well. He must exist.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    Harry Potter is intended to be a book of fiction based upon a mythical world. The author tells you that at the beginning.

    The Bible is not Harry Potter so your silly argument on its face has no merit.

    Sven you are not so ignorant to claim that evidence does not exist in archeology or history. That is why it is called archeological evidence and historical evidence. Let’s not play this game. If you want a serious discussion I would be happy to have one.

  • sven

    Robert W
    Maybe in 1500 years time , the first pages of Harry Potter will be lost or intentionally discarded. And people will start to believe Harry Potter was real. Because there is actual proof that London existed, this must mean Hogwarts must have been a real place.

    There is lots of evidence to be found in in acheology, especialy evidence for evolution. I claimed there is no evidence in bibles. They are just books, just like Harry Potter.
    Don´t tell me that I am ignorant when you are the one believing in fairy tails and mistaking fiction for reality.

    If you want a serious discussion, show us real evidence as a reason to believe your god is more than a myth than Bigfoot.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    The bible has been proven time and time again to be historically accurate. If you want to write it off as fiction then you are ignoring the evidence that exists.

    In my previous posts I have explained the evidence and arguments for a rational basis to believe in God and Christianity. You don’t accept them. That is your choice, but instead of throwing out silly comparisons like Harry Potter or Bigfoot, why don’t you contradict directly the evidence of the historical accuracy of the Bible.

    Maybe you feel more comfortable throwing up strawmen and continuing in the circular reasoning of atheism (which by its very nature atheism is) but that doesn’t make for a very productive discussion.

  • sven

    Robert W
    Some parts of different bibles have been proven to be historically acurate. The same can be said for parts of Harry Potter Books. That is reality.
    Funny fact, there is actually a Harry Potter living in England, who is about the same age as the fictional one. Maybe in 2000 years time people will be saying:”but we have proof that Harry Potter really existed”. How funny is that?!

    In my previous posts I have explained the evidence and arguments for a rational basis to believe in God and Christianity.

    You have only posted things that YOU think are rational. You have posted thing that are only evidence according to your extremely vague standard. This makes your arguments pointless, they lack that all to inconvenient element; verifiable, testable, scientific evidence.
    Without it, the comparison between bigfoot, Zues, and your god is a very good one. They all lack real evidence.
    If you have it, show it. If not.. please try not to misuse the word so much.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    That is funny.

    I will readily admit that God can’t be proven or disproven by science. So what. I accept other reliable, logical and rational evidence and proof of his existence.

    You do realize that your argument for atheism based entirely upon science is circular reasoning as just expressed in your last post.

    Here is how it works:

    1. The natural world is all that exists.
    2. God is supernatural.
    3. Therefore God doesn’t exist.

    To show the circle:

    1. God is supernatural
    2. There is only the natural world
    3. Therefore God doesn’t exist

    Stated another way closer to your flawed logic:

    1. Science can prove only natural things
    2. God is supernatural
    3. Thus God doesn’t exist

    Begging the question and not very persuasive

    I’m not going to get into the argument with you again that your requirement of only scientific evidence is the only rational proof of God. If you want to ignore the other rational, logical and reasonable evidence that is your choice.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinskyz

    Really, the thing most annoying about these sorts of calculations is how they always use the wrong calendar. The modern Gregorigan calendar is only a few centuries old. Daniel would have been using some variant of the Hebrew calendar. Adding years in the Gregorian calendar makes no sense.

  • sloth

    Hey robert, sorry to jump in, but….
    what exactly is the supernatural? WHY can’t science investigate the supernatural? Does the supernatural have a tangible effect on our world? if it does, wouldn’t that give us observational evidence for it’s existence (i.e, scientific data)? Your logic seems to be that since our current scientific observations and methods haven’t proven the “supernatural” exists, scientific observations and methods are faulty.

    So to sum up: before we all start making claims about the “supernatural” can we define exactly what supernatural is and how exactly it differs from the “natural” world?

  • Robert W.

    Sloth,

    I would venture to say that supernatural would be defined as something that exists outside of the natural world. Others might say that it is something that can’t be observed in the visible universe.

    Of course I do believe that the supernatural has and can intervene in the natural world- what we would call miracles.

  • sloth

    Robert-
    Then how do you define the natural world?
    It’s hard to get much out of that definition- like if you asked me what the word irresponsible meant and all I told you was that it was the opposite of responsible. Having a robust definition for the supernatural would really help both sides understand each other.

    If you see a “supernatural” event in the natural world, what evidence do you have that it is actually a supernatural event, and not some fantastic aspect of physics, biology, or psychology? Are these miracles what you are citing as non-scientific proof to the supernatural? If confronted with a natural explanation for a miraculous event, how do you decide which explanation is correct?

  • Robert W.

    The natural world would be the physical world.

    Miracles would be acts that would violate the natural laws. Such as a man walking on water, or turning water to wine immediately, or rising from the dead. If science can show a plausible explanation, then it would not be a miracle.

  • sloth

    The natural world would be the physical world.

    So if an event happens in the physical world, it’s a natural event? again, how does that give us any metric by which to judge what is supernatural and what is not?

    I’m not looking to get into an argument over what did or didn’t happen a few thousand years ago. However, I do want you to understand that I’m not going to immediately give those stories credence- If I go to a vegas show with a bunch of my friends and we all see david coperfeild fly, would you believe me and all my friends when we told you he was clearly blessed by god with the gift of flight?

    Miracles would be acts that would violate the natural laws.

    Wouldn’t that require complete understanding of all natural laws? Take st elmo’s fire- it’s a fairly simple electrical phenomenon that had all sorts of mythology attached to it until it was properly researched. It used to be considered a miracle, now it’s not.

    I could list all sorts of hypothetical situations that would make it appear that the miracles you listed occurred, but I don’t really see the point. I don’t have any evidence to make any claims about what happened. But to make the claim that the supernatural explanation must be true because I don’t have any evidence for a mundane explanation is a little premature in my mind.

  • Sven

    @Robert W
    You are so much fun!

    2. God is supernatural.

    This must be the most empty statement you have made until now. And that is saying a lot.
    You know how else are supernatural? Zeus, and unicorns, and fairies.
    To bad there is no real evidence for those ‘miracles’, than we could have had something to investigate.

  • Sven

    @Robert W

    If you want to ignore the other rational, logical and reasonable evidence

    Again, these are only rational, logical and reasonable to people that are deluted and/or easily impressed.
    For rational people, not so much.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Sven,

    For the Harry Potter allusion to be a true comparison to the affect of the gospel message on the Christian church, the affect would have to be within ten years or so of the publishing of the last Harry P. novel. The gospel message had a profound effect on the early church during first few years after Christ’s death. This church was made up of people who would have every reason to be skeptical of and resistant to the Christian faith.

    I commend to you a book called Jesus and the Victory of God by N. T. Wright.

    Sloth,

    You reasoning is basically circular. You assume that whatever happens in the material world is explained by natural laws in order to prove that whatever happens in the physical world must be natural.

    JK

  • sloth

    You reasoning is basically circular. You assume that whatever happens in the material world is explained by natural laws in order to prove that whatever happens in the physical world must be natural.

    No, I’m saying that there is absolutely no reason to think there is anything other than the “natural” world. You and robert are assuming that a supernatural world exists, and that because we havent been able to scientifically prove it, the scientific method is at fault. I think this is foolish because history has shown us that many so-called supernatural events are purely natural.

    I am not the one making claims here. I am asking why I should believe the supernatural exists with absolutely no evidence of any kind to back it up. Scientific discovery is quickly killing the god of the gaps and I don’t see that trend stopping any time soon.

    As to the first part of your post… you have heard of L. Ron Hubbard, right?

  • Sven

    @ J.K. Jones
    My comparison with Harry Potter was to illustrate that any book can contain both facts and fiction. The facts it does contain do not make the fiction any less fictional.
    But you probably understood that already.

  • Robert W.

    SVen,

    If you want to have a serious conversation then let’s have it. I do not get baited by silly and rude comments. If you want to persist with your extreme rationalism (which I am sure is only convenient to justify to yourself your lack of belief in God and not how you live your normal life) then go ahead.

    But to consistently say that everyone who has ever believed in God through the centuries is irrational is simply your personal opinion and carries no merit wahtsoever. To write off the millions of people, including some through the ages that were brilliant and recognized today as such, as deluded is your own personal delusion.

    Sloth,

    I am not the one making claims here. I am asking why I should believe the supernatural exists with absolutely no evidence of any kind to back it up. Scientific discovery is quickly killing the god of the gaps and I don’t see that trend stopping any time soon.

    That is your circular argument. And you are making a claim- that there was only natural laws and Therefore the supernatural cannot exist. But of curse you don’t know that, because the natural laws can’t test for the supernatural. And you fill in the lack of knowledge with your belief. Call it the science gap argument that you make.

    And by the way, most people don’t believe in God solely because of gaps in our scientific knowledge.

  • Sven

    @Robert W

    But to consistently say that everyone who has ever believed in God through the centuries is irrational is simply your personal opinion and carries no merit wahtsoever. To write off the millions of people, including some through the ages that were brilliant and recognized today as such, as deluded is your own personal delusion.

    The alternative would be that everyone who has NOT believed in your god was deluded. And that is a much larger number of people. You do realize that the amount of believers do not make fiction turn into reality? Than the world would indeed have been flat.

    If you want to persist with your extreme rationalism (which I am sure is only convenient to justify to yourself your lack of belief in God and not how you live your normal life) then go ahead.

    I will tell you again, my lack of believe in your god is the same lack of believe in any myth. Why do you keep assuming that I make an exception to not-believe in your god?

  • sloth

    And you are making a claim- that there was only natural laws and Therefore the supernatural cannot exist.

    Please tell me where I have made that claim. Where have I said the supernatural cannot exist? All I have said is that I have found the evidence lacking- I have not made a positive knowledge based claim anywhere in my posts. WHY can’t natural laws test for the supernatural? We can observe “miracles” with our very natural senses, and make conclusions on them based on the evidence we observe. And as I said before, there are many miracles that have been uncovered as purely “natural” phenomenon.

    And you fill in the lack of knowledge with your belief. Call it the science gap argument that you make.

    No, I fill my knowledge gap with “I don’t know yet.” Personally, I think that the scientific method is a good way to fill that gap (that’s my opinion, I don’t claim to know that), but if there is another verifiable and objective option I would love to hear about it.

    And by the way, most people don’t believe in God solely because of gaps in our scientific knowledge.

    Right, most people I know believe in god because of faith. Faith has nothing to do with knowledge and I’m not arguing against a faith-based premise right now. I am arguing against the “logical evidence” for the supernatural.

  • Robert W.

    Sloth,

    Please tell me where I have made that claim. Where have I said the supernatural cannot exist? All I have said is that I have found the evidence lacking- I have not made a positive knowledge based claim anywhere in my posts. WHY can’t natural laws test for the supernatural? We can observe “miracles” with our very natural senses, and make conclusions on them based on the evidence we observe. And as I said before, there are many miracles that have been uncovered as purely “natural” phenomenon.

    If I am mistaken that you have made that claim, then do you agree that it is possible for the supernatural to exist? I think that the very definition of a miracle is an event that defies the natural laws. Such as a man rising from the dead i.e. Jesus

    Right, most people I know believe in god because of faith. Faith has nothing to do with knowledge and I’m not arguing against a faith-based premise right now. I am arguing against the “logical evidence” for the supernatural.

    If you claim that you don’t know if there is the supernatural, how are you arguing against the logical evidence for the supernatural? By its very nature, an event or being that is outside the natural laws is supernatural. Maybe we will discover additional natural laws in the future, but we right now know the natural laws associated with death for example. So if a man died and on his own rose again, would you call that a miracle and something supernatural?
    I do disagree with your premise that faith has nothing to do with knowledge. I will agree that scientific knowledge can only get us so far with knowledge, but faith is not blind. There is a rational basis fro that faith, at least in the Christian faith. Now if you had faith in flying spaghetti monsters, then that would be blind faith.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    The alternative would be that everyone who has NOT believed in your god was deluded. And that is a much larger number of people. You do realize that the amount of believers do not make fiction turn into reality? Than the world would indeed have been flat.

    No. Two people can view the evidence and proof in different ways and each come up with a rational belief without delusion.

  • sloth

    If I am mistaken that you have made that claim, then do you agree that it is possible for the supernatural to exist?

    Yes, I think it’s possible that fairies exist. I think it’s possible we are all living in the matrix. I think alot of things are possible. I think many of them are very unlikely.

    I think that the very definition of a miracle is an event that defies the natural laws. Such as a man rising from the dead i.e. Jesus

    Again, this would require that we completely understand the “natural laws” that govern death. We don’t. We don’t have a clear understanding of what is or isn’t natural right now. Did you know that jelly fish don’t have to die?

    Of course, this is assuming that the event actually happened. Can you honestly say that there is no possible motive in saying that a perceived religious figure has risen from the dead? Or that the truth may have been augmented some how? it’s been 2000+ years and the primary “evidence” is a book that’s been rewritten and retranslated over and over. Would you accept that as reliable evidence in any other case?

    If you claim that you don’t know if there is the supernatural, how are you arguing against the logical evidence for the supernatural

    If I told you I was holding an apple in my clearly empty hands, would refuting my claim mean you were refuting the existence of apples? By that logic I need to accept every claim based on the fact that someone somewhere claims to evidence for it. I’m all for keeping an open mind, but that’s a little ridiculous.

    Maybe we will discover additional natural laws in the future, but we right now know the natural laws associated with death for example.

    We really don’t. Do you know why we age? what happens after we die? why do cells die, and why does our body stop producing new cells at a certain age?

    So if a man died and on his own rose again, would you call that a miracle and something supernatural?

    first I would need objective evidence that the event occurred. Then I would check the obvious other possibilities (did the dead man have a twin, or a friend good with disguises? are we sure he was dead to begin with?). I would also want to interview the recently deceased and have a medical examination done. I would probably prefer to say “I don’t know” than claim the event was supernatural, however, notice that this leaves (at least) 2 options open: either the event is a product of the “natural” world and we don’t completely understand it yet, or the event was not part of the natural world and is a result of something supernatural. there is no logical way to pick which one is correct.

    Your only explanation of the supernatural is “what isn’t natural.” How do you know what is or isn’t natural when you don’t have a complete understand of what that means?

    By its very nature, an event or being that is outside the natural laws is supernatural.

    Then how do we observe a supernatural event? If it’s outside “the natural” and our senses and method of describing the world are “natural”, how do we observe something that is not natural?

    I do disagree with your premise that faith has nothing to do with knowledge.

    I have never heard this before, can you please elaborate? I thought faith was believing something without knowledge. you “have faith” that it’s true.

    I will agree that scientific knowledge can only get us so far with knowledge

    I never siad that. I said I don’t know if science can get us so far, but personally I think it can. If there is evidence to the contrary, I will change my opinion.

    There is a rational basis fro that faith, at least in the Christian faith. Now if you had faith in flying spaghetti monsters, then that would be blind faith.

    Honestly? I don’t see the difference. What about scientology? is faith in scientology blind faith? what about wicca? mormonism? judaism? where do you draw that line of what is blind and what isn’t? What is your rational basis?

  • Sven

    @Robert W

    No. Two people can view the evidence and proof in different ways and each come up with a rational belief without delusion.

    Even brilliant people? The brilliant people back than did not have the advantage of todays science and religion-free societies. And the brilliant people of today, they don’t fall for religion.
    And even more people can think they see evidence, not understand what they see and simply make up an explanation. To keep up that explanation and ignore reality, that is delusional.
    Please stop misusing the word evidence, or at least call it ‘supernatural evidence’ so it does not get mistaken for real evidence.
    You have still not posted a rational reason, by the way.

  • Robert W.

    Sloth

    Yes, I think it’s possible that fairies exist. I think it’s possible we are all living in the matrix. I think alot of things are possible. I think many of them are very unlikely.

    Then you would I assume agree that God can exist but think it is unlikely. Why would you find it unlikely that He does?

    Again, this would require that we completely understand the “natural laws” that govern death. We don’t. We don’t have a clear understanding of what is or isn’t natural right now. Did you know that jelly fish don’t have to die?

    I would think you would agree that we have a very good understanding about death in humans. Regardless of a jellyfish being able to reverse its aging, I would hope you would agree that all humans die.

    Of course, this is assuming that the event actually happened. Can you honestly say that there is no possible motive in saying that a perceived religious figure has risen from the dead? Or that the truth may have been augmented some how? it’s been 2000+ years and the primary “evidence” is a book that’s been rewritten and retranslated over and over. Would you accept that as reliable evidence in any other case?

    The study of the resurrection as described in the Bible has been going on for 2000 years. All kinds of theories have been attempted to discredit the accounts in the Bible including some that you have suggested. They have been discredited by scholars. Yes I would and do accept the Biblical accounts as being accurate. All of the evidence points to them being accurate and there is no reasonable evidence to the contrary.

    If I told you I was holding an apple in my clearly empty hands, would refuting my claim mean you were refuting the existence of apples? By that logic I need to accept every claim based on the fact that someone somewhere claims to evidence for it. I’m all for keeping an open mind, but that’s a little ridiculous.

    I admit I don’t follow your logic here.

    first I would need objective evidence that the event occurred. Then I would check the obvious other possibilities (did the dead man have a twin, or a friend good with disguises? are we sure he was dead to begin with?). I would also want to interview the recently deceased and have a medical examination done. I would probably prefer to say “I don’t know” than claim the event was supernatural, however, notice that this leaves (at least) 2 options open: either the event is a product of the “natural” world and we don’t completely understand it yet, or the event was not part of the natural world and is a result of something supernatural. there is no logical way to pick which one is correct.

    I have addressed part of this above. As for the option that there is a natural reason why someone would rise from the dead and we haven’t discovered it yet, I feel safe to say that modern science has confirmed that if a person is dead for three days they won’t spontaneously rise from the dead and be alive again. And that it would be more rational to believe that that occurrence was outside of the natural laws then based upon a natural law that we haven’t discovered yet.

    Then how do we observe a supernatural event? If it’s outside “the natural” and our senses and method of describing the world are “natural”, how do we observe something that is not natural?

    If I convinced you that I turned water into wine in an instant and you confirmed that indeed that was true, that would be a supernatural event that you would observe with your sight, smell and taste. Your confirmation would be with your natural senses but the event itself would be beyond the natural law of how long it takes for water to ferment into wine and without the necessary yeast and sugars to make it happen.

    I have never heard this before, can you please elaborate? I thought faith was believing something without knowledge. you “have faith” that it’s true.

    Let me give you an example- If you are going to fly on a plane, you have some degree of faith that all who are responsible for getting you where you are going safely have done their jobs and will do their jobs. You have some knowledge to base that faith on but that knowledge is not confirmation so you take an act of faith. Your faith is based upon the knowledge that you have. Just as faith in God is based upon knowledge and is not a blind faith, but this knowledge only gets you so far. So there is an element of faith involved.

    Honestly? I don’t see the difference. What about scientology? is faith in scientology blind faith? what about wicca? mormonism? judaism? where do you draw that line of what is blind and what isn’t? What is your rational basis?

    I of course see the difference and it is base upon alot of factors. Those would include the historical accuracy of the Bible,the creation itself, the logic of there being a creator, the rational belief that the resurrection of Jesus occurred as described in the Bible, etc…

    There are countless scholars who have described these thoughts including, N.T. Wright, Timothy Keller, William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, and C. S. Lewis among others. I would encourage you to read their work if you haven’t done so.

    Sven,

    Even brilliant people? The brilliant people back than did not have the advantage of todays science and religion-free societies. And the brilliant people of today, they don’t fall for religion.

    Yes even brilliant people. From scientists to philosophers over the centuries including to today.
    One example would be Francis Collins leader of the Human Genome Project.

    Please stop misusing the word evidence, or at least call it ‘supernatural evidence’ so it does not get mistaken for real evidence.
    You have still not posted a rational reason, by the way.

    Not all of the evidence is supernatural. Some of it is historical, philosophical and archeological. And yes I have posted a rational argument. Please look above where I went through the cosmological argument as one example.

  • Sven

    @Robert W

    That cosmological argument was serious? Well that is a disappointment. How does it explain why a believe in your god would be any more rational than a believe in a yellow sponge creating the world?

    Like I said before, in the past the brilliant people did not have the advantages of todays scientific knowledge and the advantages of a religion-free society, so there is a difference. The brilliant people now with access to knowledge and the freedom to investigate and question? Still a lot more atheists than theists.

    If even brilliant people can come to different solutions, can they both be right?
    And all those people that did not come to the conclusion that it was your god that created the universe, but one or more of many others gods? They came to other conclusions, are they correct and not deluded?

    So what historical evidence do you have for the existence of your god?

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    That cosmological argument was serious? Well that is a disappointment. How does it explain why a believe in your god would be any more rational than a believe in a yellow sponge creating the world?

    Yes it is a very serious argument and a solid one in my opinion. Do you have an answer for it beyond what you have posted here?

    As that being evidence of God, God as described in the Bible fits the description of the necessary being as required by that argument. If you have evidence of other gods or even a yellow sponge being that we need to look at it, provide it.

    Like I said before, in the past the brilliant people did not have the advantages of todays scientific knowledge and the advantages of a religion-free society, so there is a difference. The brilliant people now with access to knowledge and the freedom to investigate and question? Still a lot more atheists than theists.

    With atheists being a very small percentage of the population i doubt that is a true statement. Now if you want to limit your population to scientists, I would agree with you that most of them are probably atheists, but I would not presume that they are brilliant.

    And even in this age of science and freedom, the Christian church is growing, not shrinking in various parts of the world. Some of that is in developing countries and some is in Korea and China. I don’t think you can write off all of those folks as not being “brilliant” and deluded.

    If even brilliant people can come to different solutions, can they both be right?
    And all those people that did not come to the conclusion that it was your god that created the universe, but one or more of many others gods? They came to other conclusions, are they correct and not deluded?

    No I don’t think they are both right, but I wouldn’t label them as deluded. I view delusion as deception in a derogatory sense.

    So what historical evidence do you have for the existence of your god?

    The bible has been shown to be a very accurate historical record, including the resurrection of Jesus who claimed to be God. this accuracy has been confirmed through archeology, including records outside of the Bible.

    Now I understand that you will say that just because people and places in the Bible are proven to have lived and actually existed that this is not proof of God and I would say if that is all we have then you would have a point. However, it is a strong clue among others as to God’s existence and it is rational to rely upon it.

  • sven

    @Robert W

    Yes it is a very serious argument and a solid one in my opinion. Do you have an answer for it beyond what you have posted here?

    It might be a argument, but neither proof nor evidence. It is just an elaberate ‘god of the gaps’ opinion, based on circular reasoning. It explains nothing, and proves even less. Is this an example of what you would call philosophical evidence?

    As that being evidence of God, God as described in the Bible fits the description of the necessary being as required by that argument. If you have evidence of other gods or even a yellow sponge being that we need to look at it, provide it.

    Circular reasoning. Just beacause it is in the bible does not mean it is holds any merit.
    As far as evidence for other gods go, please define what constitutes as evidence for you.

    Now if you want to limit your population to scientists,

    A recent survay showed that most philosophers do not believe in any gods.

    No I don’t think they are both right, but I wouldn’t label them as deluded. I view delusion as deception in a derogatory sense.

    So all the people in the world, troughout the centuries, who have not believed in your god, were all wrong?
    Concerning your opinion on delusion, I understand why you would call it derogatory. So, no, I would not call these people deluded. Delusional would be someone who starts with an opinion and will not change his/her opinion, will make everything fit, and ignore reality, to keep this opinion.

    Now I understand that you will say that just because people and places in the Bible are proven to have lived and actually existed that this is not proof of God and I would say if that is all we have then you would have a point. However, it is a strong clue among others as to God’s existence and it is rational to rely upon it.

    So in short, there is no historical evidence for the existance of your god.
    Also, your value of what is rational is only your opinion. This is the same for the value of what those clues are worth. And let’s face it, your opinion is allready tainted by your beliefs. So this is no more than circular reasoning.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    It might be a argument, but neither proof nor evidence. It is just an elaberate ‘god of the gaps’ opinion, based on circular reasoning. It explains nothing, and proves even less. Is this an example of what you would call philosophical evidence?

    Circular reasoning. Just beacause it is in the bible does not mean it is holds any merit.
    As far as evidence for other gods go, please define what constitutes as evidence for you.

    Actually as a philosophical argument it is evidence of God and it isn’t circular. The argument doesn’t start out with the premise that there is a god or even that the God of the bible exists. What it does do is go through logical and philosophical steps which lead you to a being which would necessarily have certain characteristics. If other gods or beings fit those characteristics, then they would have to be looked at as possibilities. The God as described in the Bible does fit those characteristics.

    For a detailed explanation of this argument I would refer you to people far smarter then me- Norman Geisler, Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig.

    Now for circular reasoning take the atheists point of view:

    1. There is no evidence of God
    2 Therefore there is no God.

    As for the veracity of the Bible, that is another argument.

    So all the people in the world, troughout the centuries, who have not believed in your god, were all wrong?

    If they had the information to make that choice about God, then yes I would believe they were wrong.

    Concerning your opinion on delusion, I understand why you would call it derogatory. So, no, I would not call these people deluded. Delusional would be someone who starts with an opinion and will not change his/her opinion, will make everything fit, and ignore reality, to keep this opinion.

    Nice attempt at a sutle insult. Its a good thing I’m not doing that, but I won’t call you delusional based upon your own definition.

    So in short, there is no historical evidence for the existance of your god.
    Also, your value of what is rational is only your opinion. This is the same for the value of what those clues are worth. And let’s face it, your opinion is allready tainted by your beliefs. So this is no more than circular reasoning.

    If you are going to argue that rational, logical arguments or a review of historical evidence is tainted by bias
    then that would apply to atheists as well as Christians who review this evidence. That is not the issue. The issue is can you show that any bias ignores the evidence that exists. Can a solid argument be made based upon the evidence regardless of any potential bias of the person making it or is the argument based solely upon bias regardless of the evidence presented. I would argue that those that attempt to discredit the Biblical account of Jesus’ resurrection are doing just that.

    Sven, I have enjoyed this discussion and thank you for your more civil tone. However, I have yet to see where you have addressed the specifics of the arguments I have made, other then to ask additional questions or make vague comments. Other then the opinion that the cosmological argument I have made is circular reasoning, what objections to it do you have based on the premises that are outlined in it? Where are they wrong?

    Other then to say generally that you don’t believe the Bible is reliable, what evidence do you have that it isn’t an accurate historical account of the event described, particularity based upon the standards of ancient writings?

  • Sven

    @Rober W

    Actually as a philosophical argument it is evidence of God and it isn’t circular. The argument doesn’t start out with the premise that there is a god or even that the God of the bible exists. What it does do is go through logical and philosophical steps which lead you to a being which would necessarily have certain characteristics. If other gods or beings fit those characteristics, then they would have to be looked at as possibilities. The God as described in the Bible does fit those characteristics.

    I still see no explanation how this translates to reality. What it does is go through some steps that are assumed needed to fit the characteristics, preassumed so it can fit the bible discription. You don’t know or can prove any of them. So it is no more than an opinion, wrapped up in unverifiable claims.

    Now for circular reasoning take the atheists point of view:

    1. There is no evidence of God
    2 Therefore there is no God.

    Classical strawman argument, and inaccurate. You assume your claimed god is real, and all other claimed gods are not.
    Here is how it works for me:
    1. There are a lot of claims without scientific, testable evidence; your god, the gods of the Vathu people, allah, fairies, vampires, etc etc
    2. Have any of these things been proven or explained scientifically?
    2 a. All that is proven and scientifically explained = not a mythical claim anymore.
    2 b. All that is unproven = equally true until further evidence.
    Why I choose the scientific method? Because it works. It is what the pope trusts his life with when he sits behind bulletproof glass. It is what churches trust when they put up lightning rods above their towers and crosses.
    It is a verifiable, testable, and objective methode. Fair to all claims. And above all, can not be influenced by personal opinions.
    If there is a better methode, please let me know.

    If they had the information to make that choice about God, then yes I would believe they were wrong.

    So even if the brilliant people among them would still be wrong?

    Nice attempt at a sutle insult. Its a good thing I’m not doing that, but I won’t call you delusional based upon your own definition.

    This was not intended as an insult, I do realize it is not a complete discription of what I would consider delusional. You have named me delusional earlier, and I would not care much if you did it again :)

    If you are going to argue that rational, logical arguments or a review of historical evidence is tainted by bias
    then that would apply to atheists as well as Christians who review this evidence.

    My argument is not about the validation of evidence. My agument is about what you would call a clue, that is a validation of what the evidence means. A delusional value starts out with a preassumption, and will try to fit anything as a clue, even appeal to a supposed supernatural to make it fit.
    As an atheist, I have no preassumptions to make, I can be honest and keep myself from giving a meaning to random events. Appeal to a supposed supernatural won’t work for me, because it can never proven that a even higher super-supernatural in the actual cause.

    Where are they wrong?

    See above and earlier deconstructions by Hoverfrog and bernerbits in : friendlyatheist.com was-dave-silverman-on-fox-news-again/

    Other then to say generally that you don’t believe the Bible is reliable, what evidence do you have that it isn’t an accurate historical account of the event described, particularity based upon the standards of ancient writings?

    Same as all other ancient and recent ‘inspired scriptures’: lack of evidence.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    I still see no explanation how this translates to reality. What it does is go through some steps that are assumed needed to fit the characteristics, preassumed so it can fit the bible discription. You don’t know or can prove any of them. So it is no more than an opinion, wrapped up in unverifiable claims.

    I disagree that it preassumes anything about God or the nature of God. I assume you can call philosophical arguments opinions but they would be opinions based upon sound philosophical premises which give them validity.

    Classical strawman argument, and inaccurate. You assume your claimed god is real, and all other claimed gods are not.
    Here is how it works for me:
    1. There are a lot of claims without scientific, testable evidence; your god, the gods of the Vathu people, allah, fairies, vampires, etc etc
    2. Have any of these things been proven or explained scientifically?
    2 a. All that is proven and scientifically explained = not a mythical claim anymore.
    2 b. All that is unproven = equally true until further evidence.
    Why I choose the scientific method? Because it works. It is what the pope trusts his life with when he sits behind bulletproof glass. It is what churches trust when they put up lightning rods above their towers and crosses.
    It is a verifiable, testable, and objective methode. Fair to all claims. And above all, can not be influenced by personal opinions.

    I think that you hold science to a standard that is beyond its capability. To say that science is not influenced by the personal beliefs of the scientist is not reality. That is because not all of science is proven to the point of being a law that can’t be disagreed with. There is alot of room for conjecture and speculation particularly when the scientist goes beyond what has been shown to reach conclusions which happens all the time.

    Also If you limit your argument for God, a supernatural being that you know can’t be proven or disproven by science as the sole basis for for your evidence for God, you are presuppossing the result before you begin. you are creating a self fulfilling prophecy.

    It would be like trying to prove that Homer wrote the Odessey strictly based upon science. Since science can’t create an experiment to recreate who wrote something thousands of years ago, science can’t prove it, thus you would have to conclude that he did not write it.

    As an atheist, I have no preassumptions to make, I can be honest and keep myself from giving a meaning to random events. Appeal to a supposed supernatural won’t work for me, because it can never proven that a even higher super-supernatural in the actual cause.

    Actually you did in this very statement. By saying that there can never be a supernatural being, you are preassuming that you are right.

  • sven

    Robert W

    I disagree that it preassumes anything about God or the nature of God. I assume you can call philosophical arguments opinions but they would be opinions based upon sound philosophical premises which give them validity

    The pholosophical premises still do not make it reality.

    I think that you hold science to a standard that is beyond its capability. To say that science is not influenced by the personal beliefs of the scientist is not reality. That is because not all of science is proven to the point of being a law that can’t be disagreed with. There is alot of room for conjecture and speculation particularly when the scientist goes beyond what has been shown to reach conclusions which happens all the time.

    I´m not saying science isn´t influenced by personal opinion. I´m saying that science is a perfect way to get objective results.
    Also I have no problem with saying “I do not know”. Until now, it is the best methode we have. I know you’ve been invited to suggest an alternative. Do you have any?

    Also If you limit your argument for God, a supernatural being that you know can’t be proven or disproven by science as the sole basis for for your evidence for God, you are presuppossing the result before you begin. you are creating a self fulfilling prophecy

    I´m not limiting my argument to any god, so I´m not sure what you are saying here.

    Actually you did in this very statement. By saying that there can never be a supernatural being, you are preassuming that you are right.

    Clumsy writing from my side. What I mean by my statement is; How can I be sure that I’m witnessing a truely supernatural event, or a super-supernatural event disguised as a supernatural event.


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