Christian Apologist Robin Schumacher Is Back for Round Two

Yesterday, I posted a rebuttal to Part 1 of Robin Schumacher‘s article at the Christian Post trying to take down my argument that atheists are helping draw people away from the Christian church (as a whole).

Schumacher is now back with Part 2.

Here’s his first issue:

Mr. Mehta says, “The myth surrounding Jesus is part of the problem with Christianity… To believe in Jesus means believing that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and performed a number of miracles. There’s no proof of any of that ever happened”.

Says who?

Let’s just stop there. Says who? Says anyone who doesn’t believe in magical fairydust and unicorns. Says anyone who has never seen these things happen in the modern day. Says anyone who needs some damn good evidence to believe in the supernatural.

But Schumacher says he has evidence of those things!

As far as Jesus’ resurrection is concerned, there is plenty of good historical and philosophical evidence that has been presented numerous times by many Christian apologists…

Great! What is it?!

… he gives us nothing.

He then argues that if atheists could just produce the body of Jesus (2,000 years after he died…), then we’d win. As if the burden of proof is on us that someone didn’t rise up from the dead.

As for Jesus’ miracles, again the question is: what proof are you seeking? The fact is, both the New Testament and external Christian sources hostile to Christianity agree that Jesus performed acts that could not be naturally explained.

Yeah, as far as they knew. Maybe, just maybe, they missed out on legitimate explanations for his “miracles” because they didn’t even think to look for them.

What proof are we looking for? How about proof that isn’t hearsay. Hell, get someone to perform those miracles now and I’ll accept that, too. Turn water into wine. Walk on water. Cure the blind. Heal a paralytic. Whatever you want. Bring a video camera, do it in controlled conditions, make sure it’s not a magic trick, and I’ll become a believer.

Later in the post, Schumacher adds:

Yes, there are very good apologetic arguments for God that contain compelling evidence and solid reason. And all will be flippantly brushed aside by unbelievers and labeled inadequate because of their a priori commitment to anti-supernaturalism unless God intervenes in their life. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as people act contrary to evidence all the time.

Of course, this statement will be laughed at and ridiculed by atheists but it is 100% Biblical.

Well, I agree with Schumacher on that one. Atheists are laughing and ridiculing that statement, because his claim that supernatural explanations are logical and sensible are laughable and ridiculous.

Schumacher is also upset about my statements regarding the “Christian Bubble”:

As to open marketplace exchange of ideas, Mehta first says: “Christians can no longer hide in a bubble, sheltered from opposing perspectives, and church leaders can’t protect young people from finding information that contradicts traditional beliefs.”

The fitting word for this comment is ‘preposterous’. Christianity has never hidden in a bubble; unlike other faiths, it has opened itself up to scrutiny and been forever out in front engaging other worldviews (including atheism) in dialog since the beginning.

Well, maybe that’s true in Schumacher’s world of apologists. But there’s no shortage of Christians who have been told to “just have faith” and to stop questioning what the Bible says.

Furthermore, even if Christians are not afraid of challenges to their faith, it’s still possible to live in another reality.

J. W. Christopher said it well in his book Thoughts of a Modern-Day Sojourner:

Today many Christians are growing up in a bubble called the Christian subculture, completely sheltered from the world. It’s tragic. A generation of Christians are losing experiences that could make them strong influences in the real world. The Christian subculture knows nothing about real life. We hang out with Christians, go to Christian schools, attend Christian events, listen to Christian radio, seek Christian coffee-houses, workout in Christian gyms, sometimes location inside our mega-churches. We even have Christian toothpaste! It’s ridiculous. We have lost our ability to engage the world. We can’t even relate. Yet we think those in the world just don’t understand. The truth is we’re smug. Jesus was the friend of sinners, but we won’t even so much as have a genuine conversation with them. So much for a good testimony.

If that’s news to Schumacher, he must be in the bubble, too.

There was a time when Christians could have remained sheltered their entire lives. That’s next to impossible now for a variety of reasons, including the Internet. They will now inevitably be exposed to people whose ideas are different from their own and whose very existence challenges some of the beliefs they were taught in the church (i.e. atheists are immoral, women who have abortions almost always regret them, etc).

I said in my article that atheists quoting Christians like Mark Driscoll (anti-woman), Rick Warren (anti-gay), and Rob Bell (anti-Hell-but-pro-Heaven) helps our side and hurts theirs, but here’s how Schumacher twisted that:

… it should be acknowledged that when the media continually parades the handful of individuals comprising the Westboro Baptist church as something representing Christ vs. the many Christians who truly mirror Jesus, it is no wonder that millennials can sometimes be sour on Christianity. Here I would simply repeat the words of Augustine: do not judge a philosophy by its abuse.

Atheists can quote Fred Phelps‘ clan all we want but I think we all agree they don’t really represent anyone but themselves, even if they do quote the Bible. In my article, I mentioned very-popular, well-respected, best-selling Christians… and Schumacher acted like I was referring to Westboro. Lame…

Finally, Schumacher summarizes his argument:

If millennials truly aren’t coming to Christ, it has nothing to do with Mr. Mehta’s arguments, which are mostly anemic and contain nothing original. Whether they are millennials, boomers, busters, or carry some other label given to them by the secular culture, people become Christians only through the grace of the sovereign God who awakens their hearts (Acts 16:14) to accept His loving offer of salvation (John 3:16) and actually see the truth before them.

This fact of God’s sovereignty should provide peace to all Christians and cause all of us to continue to work hard at making disciples of Christ through our message and our deeds, “in no way [be] alarmed by our opponents” (Phil. 1:28), and know that people such as Mehta have no bearing whatsoever on whether the atheist ranks swell or shrink.

… says another blogger.

Anyway, Schumacher can live in denial and pretend that atheists are having “no bearing” on the rise of the Nones and the decline of organized religion, but those trends are happening and we’re not going to stop proclaiming the problems with faith anytime soon.

I actually prefer that Schumacher and his ilk ignore us. It makes our job a lot easier when Christians who have megaphones choose to hide in their bubbles and act like we’re not there.

They’ve been doing it for this long and the demographic shift is going in our direction. Atheists aren’t the only reason for the change, but we’re definitely helping.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • EvolutionKills

    More power to him, he won’t see the precipice until he’s already leapt over it head first. That’ll make all of our efforts easier.

  • Gus Snarp

    external Christian sources hostile to Christianity

    Typo, or dishonesty? I can accept “external”, meaning: didn’t make it into the Bible, but what exactly is a Christian source hostile to Christianity? What does that even mean?

    It’s real simple. Resurrection is an extraordinary claim and I’m going to need extraordinary evidence. You want to claim Jesus existed based on one Jewish historian born four years after Jesus is supposed to have died and the gospels, I can live with that. A guy was named Jesus (well, not really, but that’s what we call him now) and he may have been an unorthodox teacher. That’s not so extraordinary, I don’t care that your evidence is low quality, it’s of no concern to me.

    But tell me this guy, still based on people who were not born until after this event, rose from the dead? I’m going to need multiple corroborating contemporary accounts. Actually, I’d expect maybe the Romans would make a few notes about it if someone they executed got up and walked three days later.

    But really, there probably is no evidence that I would accept for this. I could hypothetically come up with some, but there’s really just no way that 2,000 year old documents can demonstrate that an event that unlikely occurred. There are too many alternative explanations, too much likelihood of magical thinking by primitive peoples, to really consider it sufficient evidence for ancient miracles. But they don’t even have that. There’s nothing. Not one shred of contemporary evidence.

    And just what is “philosophical evidence” anyway? Is that evidence that you’ve thought up? Is that what you call the convoluted logic that allows you to consider pitiful quality historical evidence as rock solid proof? Because I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count as evidence.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      external Christian sources hostile to Christianity

      Bizarro. If it is a typo, it is not Hemant’s. I clicked through and verified. It has a footnote link pointing to some apologetics slideshow. Please.

      • Gus Snarp

        I’m a glutton for punishment, I actually looked at the slide show. It’s pathetic. The external sources are, as I expected, all much later accounts. Josephus is the earliest source he mentions. Not one first hand account of anything (although earlier in the slide show he claims eyewitness testimony, so….).

        Although it shows that his shifting of the burden of proof is a common tactic: he demands evidence that Jesus was a myth. Well that’s easy, the story of Jesus is, by definition, a myth. We don’t have to prove that it’s 100% false or that it was cribbed from other myths, we only have to show that it has all the characteristics of a myth. It does. That’s indisputable. But he claims it has to be proven, and then he attacks one version of the Horus-Isis comparison that appears to have been poorly stated, and claims that dissolves all suggestion that the story of Jesus has parallels with other myths.

        I can’t get over how intellectually dishonest apologists are willing to be.

        • GCT

          He’s probably claiming that the gospels are eye witness accounts. There’s also the part where it’s reported that 500 people saw Jesus risen, and those are all eye witness accounts even though none of them actually ever gave an account.

          • Gus Snarp

            Hard to tell from a slide show, but I got the impression that he separately claimed the gospels as eyewitness testimony and also the external accounts. Of course what he’s really doing is not putting dates with any of the external accounts, making claims about eyewitness testimony generally, elsewhere making the case that the gospels are first hand evidence and should be taken as evidence, and letting the reader make the assumption that the external accounts are eyewitness or at least contemporary. It’s lying by omission, and it’s intentionally dishonest. But he can always say: I didn’t lie, I never said the external sources were eyewitness testimony…

            • Silent Service

              It is worse. He presumes that the gospels and the external accounts count as first person eyewitness accounts because he has been taught that they are. You will have to completelly reeducate him to show him that he is mistaking second hand (at best) accounts for first person observations. He believes what he says, because he has been tught to think that way.

        • Len

          Theists want evidence that Jesus was a myth. I always reply that such evidence can only be built upon evidence of his existence.

          Intellectual dishonesty: keeping apologists in business for over 2,000 years.

          Apologists: apologising for their god, for failing to live up to his own PR & marketing.

      • Gus Snarp

        Oh, and the source “hostile to Christianity” appears to be Celsus, not a Christian source, so maybe it’s a typo. Celsus wrote about 150 years after Jesus, and he basically attempted to discredit Christianity. I expect Schumacher will tell you that much of what Celsus wrote about Jesus was lies, since it contradicts the Bible, but apparently the fact that he says Jesus could do magic makes miracles real. Never mind that he also claimed that Jesus learned his magic tricks from the Egyptians and used them to style himself a god…

        And late Talmudic sources that even Bart Ehrman says are too late to have any historical value.

        • Sajanas

          Not to mention that the only bits of Celsus we have are preserved in a Christian rebuttal by Origin. If Schumacher is any indication, he probably left out the best arguments.

          • The Other Weirdo

            When I first heard the name Origin, it took me a while to figure out it wasn’t referring to a crazy-ass religion of extra-galactic origin.

            • Gus Snarp

              It does sound vaguely Raelian or Scientologist, doesn’t it?

              • The Other Weirdo

                Or Stargatian, whose producers apparently watched and read absolutely everything produced in the last 50 years and dumped that into the show. :)

            • John Alexander Harman

              I’ve usually seen it spelled Origen.

    • 00001000_bit

      “Actually, I’d expect maybe the Romans would make a few notes about it if someone they executed got up and walked three days later.”

      You’d think so … and that isn’t even all of it.

      Matthew 27:51-53
      “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

      So, there was a full-fledged zombie apocalypse going on, and NOT ONE OTHER PERSON MENTIONED IT?

      That really seems like the kind of thing that would get at least a passing mention by even the most inept Roman historian.

      • 3lemenope

        I have yet to see a response to this passage that wasn’t “I’ll get back to you on that…”. It’s so completely devastating, because it strikes even people as deep into confirmation bias as the average committed Christian as utterly beyond the bounds of credibility (not that it happened, but that nobody apparently noticed), while resisting a metaphorical and/or allegorical interpretation (it’s pretty obviously meant to be a report of an actual event).

        • UWIR

          Well, if God can make the dead come back to life, surely making people not notice is trivial compared to that? I’m sure that everyone was just so wedded to their precommitment to methodological naturalism that they dismissed evidence contrary to their atheist worldview.

          • 3lemenope

            Formally, they are the same sort of thing, but believers tend to think about them as having very different levels of plausibility. I think in part this has to do with the Christian commitment to a conception of God that, for lack of a better term, is pretty “hands-off” when it comes to manipulating perceptions, as opposed to events.

            The idea that God edited peoples’ memories of there being a Jerusalem zombie apocalypse bothers Christians more than the idea there was a zombie apocalypse in the first place. And it should, because if God is willing to simply edit your experience of reality, you can’t trust anything.

      • trj

        Also, at the same time, the sun goes dark for three hours. This, for some reason, is also not mentioned by any contemporary sources, although this would be something that nobody could possibly miss and would’ve freaked everybody the fuck out. Yet not a single source mentions it. Nor does the gospel of John, for that matter, which seems just as strange.

  • Gus Snarp

    “Anti-supernaturalism”? He’s so obsessed with this notion that Hemant labeled Christianity as “anti-” this and that that he wants to use the same idea and is inventing things now? “Scientism” wasn’t good enough for him? Really, this dishonest language is reason enough to ignore everything else he says.

    It’s called “naturalism”, you second rate philosophical twaddler. And we’re not committed to it a priori, we’re committed to it because it works, and has been proven to do so time and time again and it’s the only thing that has.

    • just somebody

      “because of their a priori commitment to anti-supernaturalism unless God intervenes in their life”

      My a priori commitment to truth is that, as Matt Dillahunty says, “I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible.”

      This is because one is more likely to make successful decisions in life if one uses true information and not false information, and because professing belief in one thing not known to be true can lead to accepting more things not known to be true.

      So I am not a priori committed to naturalism:

      “4. Philosophy a. the view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual. b.
      the belief that all phenomena are covered by laws of science and that all teleological explanations are therefore without value.

      5. Theology a. the doctrine that all religious truth is derived from a study of natural processes and not from revelation. b. the doctrine that natural religion is sufficient for salvation.”

      Philosophically, with respect to epistomology, the study or theory of knowledge, I would consider myself an evidentialist:

      Evidentialism in epistemology is defined by the following thesis about epistemic justification: Person S is justified in believing proposition p at time t if and only if S’s evidence for p at t supports believing p.”

      I would be open to believing something supernatural when there is evidence for believing it.

      I do believe that individuals have dramatic, significant experiences, but I have not seen evidence that these experiences are caused by supernatural forces nor that they impart supernatural wisdom, even if these experiences or their beliefs about them lead to dramatic changes in their lives.

      I also believe in many non-natural things. Evidence from psychology and anthropology indicates that certain kinds of belief / propositional attitudes regarding certain definitions of intangible concepts — for example, freedom and equality and hope — are helpful in life. But these are not beliefs that these are “things” that “exist” in some “real but non-physical” way or realm “beyond our understanding” and “greater than ourselves”.

      • Gus Snarp

        Perhaps I should clarify that I mean methodological naturalism.

        • just somebody

          Good point. It is important to always differentiate between philosophical naturalism (define in previous comment) and methodological naturalism (limiting scientific research to the study of natural causes)

          I think Schumacher was referring to philosophical naturalism, as was I, while, as you note, you were referring to methodological naturalism.

  • Jasper

    What the heck is “philosophical evidence”? I’m getting the impression that he doesn’t have the faintest clue what evidence is.

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      That was my first reaction too. I’d like to see an example of this “philosophical evidence” with an explanation of how it is valid and yet not simply “evidence”.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      This is meta-apologetics. The point of apologetics is not that you have an answer that stands up to rational scrutiny; it is that you have an answer, so you can ignore the question and get back to feeling good about believing weird things. Correctness and quality do not matter.

    • Gus Snarp

      I’m pretty sure “philosophical evidence” means changing the rules so that what any reputable scientist, historian, or educated lay person would consider shoddy, flimsy, second hand evidence becomes rock solid proof.

      You know, basically what William Lane Craig does. And Robin Schumacher.

    • compl3x

      Another person here who raised an eyebrow at “philosophical evidence”. I’d like some clarification about what exactly that is.

      I suppose this guy is writing for a Christian audience so as long as you are saying there is stuff which proves the resurrection then you can use whatever vague, ambiguous words or phrases you want.

      It would be interesting to see if any Christians would be willing to challenge Schumacher on some of these claims. I doubt it, I imagine they’re in that same bubble.

    • C Peterson

      Philosophical evidence is the “evidence” that your gut tells you is correct based on your personal philosophical outlook.

      • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

        Oh! It’s Truthiness!

    • viaten

      I think it’s about the same as metaphysical evidence, or hypothetical evidence.

    • KatMcD

      I’d have to assume it’s an extension of ‘cogito ergo sueme’ where all the kwon-tom *khehkcoffgh*i-cules summon your imaginary whatsists into RealLife True Existence somewhere in the outer thinkosphere.

      • Hat Stealer

        This is pretty much meta-apologetics in a nutshell.

      • baal

        I usually use ‘noosphere’ instead of thinkosphere. It’s a great word and sometimes gets mistyped as moosphere which is totally bovine.

        • KatMcD

          :) I love it. and the mental image of microscopic space-cows forming a layer of the atmosphere.

    • 3lemenope

      Actual “philosophical evidence” is evidence evidence, the empirical sort with which we are all familiar. The concept of evidence in philosophy is a highly examined one, being essential to epistemology and crucial to the study of the philosophy of science.

      Schumacher is abusing the term for his own ends, warping it beyond recognition in an attempt to justify his inability to point to evidence of any sort.

      Of course, predictably the thread in answer to your question is filled by atheists who sneer at philosophy. I’m continually floored by the absolute pride that some feel at demonstrating ignorance and shoddy thought-processes that cash out as “apologists (mis)use philosophy, therefore philosophy is bad!”.

      • baal

        I once had a full professor philosopher tell me that my position was invalid since I started with the proposition that he needed to accept an objective reality before I’d take his alternative-cosmology seriously. The problem I have with philosophy types is that they tend to use jargon and a more capable than average of hiding a losing position behind coherent and complicated language. They also take affront at the suggestion to use plain English.

        • 3lemenope

          I understand that frustration, believe me. I wrote a defense of philosophy given the limitations of language on this here thread, if you’re interested.

          • baal

            In my comment from an hour ago, I was off on the neg. Dan Finke (another atheist on patheos) does a good job of defending being a philosopher. I fully agree with you (and here I flip to the pos.) that philosophy is useful, and used appropriately, helps to clean up sloppy thinking.

            I did read a good chunk of what you wrote and a few of the replies and am sympathetic in the main.

            • Stev84

              Dan Finke is typical of most philosophers. An ivory tower academic who makes theoretical arguments that are completely divorced from real people and their experiences.

              • baal

                Actually, I find him very attached and caring about humans. More so than most and he’s explain how and why at length. Fwiw, he more or less despises me for not liking his friend eric the woo-ful.

      • Jasper

        “Actual “philosophical evidence” is evidence evidence, the empirical sort with which we are all familiar. The concept of evidence in philosophy is a highly examined one, being essential to epistemology and crucial to the study of the philosophy of science.”

        That’s basically my issue with the term. The relationship between philosophy and “evidence” is like the relationship between a car factory, and a car. Philosophy (and more specifically epistemology), sets up the structure of evidence, etc, but “philosophical evidence” in itself doesn’t make sense.

        It’s like referring to a “car-factory-car”.

        My guess as to what he was originally talking about, was the “arguments” they produce, that purport to demonstrate the existence of a god without any attempt at empirical confirmation… such as pretty much all of them.

        • 3lemenope

          I think the qualifier is important so as to distinguish it from more constrained notions of evidence. In empiricism in the broadest sense, all sense-impressions are evidence (of obviously widely varying strengths). When we talk about scientific empiricism, for example, we’re talking about only a small attenuated sliver of that total, the subset of sense-impressions that are regulated through a theory of observation and a process that attempts to control for confounding sense-impressions (usually through repetition and care).

          I think you’re absolutely right about what Schumacher was trying to say with it. It’s almost as though he wants to say that evidence is anything that is capable of convincing someone of a proposition. Which is total nutballs.

          • KatMcD

            waitwaitwait. so i’m confused again. Based on my understanding of the above, your discipline-based, jargon definition of “philosophical evidence,” which you previously expounded on as “evidence evidence, the empirical sort,” includes any sense perception? Therefore including the time my friend saw Aztec gods in the lino while on mushrooms as “evidence” and verifying Dr.Deadbrain’s butterflies to heaven story as “evidence” of anything more than a claim to have thunk it therefore it was?

            ‘cos then I’m back to Chopra & Prentice Mulford & a wiccan’s insistence that if I could picture dragons on my bed clearly they existed there in some capacity and could do magic for me because creative visualization makes real?

            And you’re treating this like everyone should have prior knowledge of this definition and accept it on the same plane without a bit of mocky muck?

            based on the fact two others have cited this as jargony and not attacks on philosophy, I’m thinking that it’s less philosophy-hate and more the appeal to common vocab definitions in laymen’s venues or better definitions up front. I’m not sure the burden was on everyone else to set the words apart from the non-meaning we were scoffing at.

            • 3lemenope

              Leaving your heaping helpings of sarcasm aside, my issue is not that people don’t know the technical definition of a philosophical concept. My issue is that people seem perfectly comfortable, while not having the first clue, of still offering a decided opinion on what they don’t know. I don’t expect everyone to be philosophers. I expect people who aren’t philosophers to not pretend to the level of expertise it would take to actually criticize what they are attempting to criticize.

              If you’re actually interested in exploring what evidence means in these different contexts, that’s great. I’d be glad to chat about some of these notions. But right now I’m under the impression that you are unserious about it and are looking just to mock what you don’t understand. Am I wrong about that?

      • Gus Snarp

        I disagree that the thread is filled by atheists who sneer at philosophy. Or at least that they’re sneering at philosophy in the thread. We’re sneering at Schumacher and his ilk, there’s no one saying all of philosophy is bullshit in this particular thread.

        • 3lemenope

          It’s not as though people attempted to distinguish the term in its current use from the actual meaning. If the intent was merely to sneer at Schumacher, there was a lot of splatter. Perhaps you didn’t intend to sneer at philosophy, but many of the responses are hard to read any other way.

      • KatMcD

        really? you think everyone is sneering at philosophy and not, based on context, mocking Schumacher’s “abusing [of] the term for his own ends?” If he has, as you say, “warp[ed] it beyond recognition in an
        attempt to justify his inability to point to evidence of any sort” perhaps it’s that which we deride?

        Personally, I like and enjoy philosophy, but am merely layman, so don’t have the personal history to provide me with the appropriate field-specific definitions you seem so disappointed we lack. Every school has its jargon. or maybe I’m just stupid.

        • 3lemenope

          Sneering at philosophy is a contact sport in most of the online atheist community; the complaint is not out of nowhere.

          • KatMcD

            fair enough. I just didn’t read the comments that way. damn my philistine eyes.

      • ShoeUnited

        Why should I care about any philosophies that aren’t grounded in reality and mutual empathy?

        Reality is self-evident, empathy is self-serving. Everything else has no evidence and smells of mental masturbation. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but what use is Solipsism to me? What use is entertaining a thousand arguments that can’t be proven valid unless I’m writing something to entertain? Imagination is all well and good, and philosophy has helped create tools for skepticism, there is no doubt there.

        But what reason would I have to engage in things that aren’t real, that aren’t helping fellow people, that can’t be proven, if I’m not looking for a lark?

        The bulk of philosophy seems to be an educated version of Marvel comics from the outside looking in. All these great ideas that are really neat and sometimes might even help us think about our reality in new ways, providing hours of entertainment, but mostly cannot be applied to the real world.

    • Michael W Busch

      So far as I can tell, his using the phrase “philosophical evidence” is a way of disguising that he has assumed his conclusion.

      It’s also a way of using the word “evidence” without actually applying any of the standards it would normally require – he may fully know what evidence is in a scientific and/or historical context, so he plays a linguistic shell game.

  • Brian Westley

    Jesus’ skeleton has been found, so here’s proof he didn’t rise from the dead. And Schumacher can’t prove it isn’t!

    http://www.geocities.ws/infiniteramble/jesusskeleton.html

    It’s authentically old because it’s a geocities site.

  • Rain

    and labeled inadequate because of their a priori commitment to anti-supernaturalism

    Nothing beats an a priori commitment to thinking that unbelievers have an a priori commitment. Assuming that’s what he actually thinks. Everything he says is so incredibly stupid that one must wonder if he is a complete huckster. He’s a creationist that pretends like he knows scientifical type stuff, so he’s pretty high up there on the ol’ huckster index ratio thingy-O-meter.

    • primenumbers

      There is no need nor desire to rule out the existence of things beyond our current knowledge and understanding and our science and curiosity in general indeed thrives on such investigations of the unknown.

      That with all this desire we’ve not yet found evidence of the supernatural is in part because anything that was once supernatural and is now known no longer is supernatural and is natural. And it must be terribly frustrating for those Christians that every advance in science only serves to highlight what a wonderful and powerful epistemology science is, and how down-right terrible and unreliable their epistemology of faith is.

    • Michael Harrison

      I don’t think he’s a huckster; there are parts of his sites that are actually pretty transparent. His transparency does, however, reveal how bad he is at philosophy.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Christianity has never hidden in a bubble; unlike other faiths,
    it has opened itself up to scrutiny and been forever out in front
    engaging other worldviews (including atheism) in dialog since the
    beginning.

    Except for those thousand or so years where you’d get tied to a stake and burned alive for attempting to have that conversation, amirite?

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

      “Except for those thousand or so years where you’d get tied to a stake and burned alive for attempting to have that conversation, amirite?”

      That’s what dialogue means, you know: “I’m right and you’re wrong. Now go stand in that fire over there.”

    • Rationalist1

      I think all of us here would have suffered that fate if we uttered the posts we make now.

      • Art_Vandelay

        As cowardly as it sounds, I’d probably just pretend to be a Christian.

        • Compuholic

          I would probably act the same way and I don’t see this as being cowardly. A disbelief in an imaginary being is certainly not worth dying for. Conversely it is also not worth to kill for it, as Christians have done throughout history (and still are today)

        • EvolutionKills

          “He who hid well, lived well.”

          -Some freethinker of the past quoted by Christopher Hitchens in his book ‘God is Not Great’. If I can find the original attestation, I’ll update the post. Regardless, I think the point still stands.

        • Rationalist1

          I probably would have too which is why I admire so much those that had more courage than I think I would have had.

          • EvolutionKills

            This is why I have a ton of respect for atheists in the ‘Arab World’, where apostasy is routinely punished by death. It’s easy to forget and fall back into being an oblivious white guy when you live in the north eastern United States.

        • Hat Stealer

          Well yeah, when the alternative is to live a very short, very painful life, I’m pretty sure the only real option available would be to pretend.

        • Tainda

          I’m right there with ya! I would be praising the heavens and doing whatever dance I needed to do (in public) to keep my little head on my shoulders

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          I certainly wouldn’t allow myself to be burned alive to defend my non-belief. What’s in that for me? If you can just go to mass once a week and keep your mouth shut and stay out of trouble, that’s not that high a price to pay considering the alternative. I would advise similar tactics to people who live in countries where they can be tortured and/or killed for not believing.

          • Flonk Bob

            Probably true. When I was younger I’d have gone with that. But now I’d be so very happy to say “F*ck your god, and the donkey his mother screwed” just because it would be so worth it to see their eyes bug out before they tied me to the stake.

        • Carla

          Did everyone just agree that they’d hide rather than speak up for their freedom? Maybe 200-300 years ago I would have, but today? Hell no. I’ve got the right to not have to fake belief to have a quality life, and I’ll go to the stake saying it.

          • Art_Vandelay

            Yeah, we’re talking about a time when it was a literal stake.

          • ShoeUnited

            In Western Society? Absolutely.

            But even today there are some cultures that will kill you for being an atheist.

            I have no delusions of afterlife, and no desire to be a martyr. If stuck in such a society at best I’d work to undermine from within. The dead can’t say anything.

    • UWIR

      England had something called “The Test Act”, which prohibited anyone who was not a member of the CoE from holding public office or attending University. It was aimed at Catholics, but it also meant no openly atheist student could get an education. And Christians have the gall to present people like Newton as evidence of the compatibility between Christianity and science. Yeah, when you bar atheists from universities, the result does tend to be that all the famous scientists are Christians.

  • primenumbers

    Openly talking and discussing and saying “I’m an atheist” does indeed help people exit Christianity. Keep at it Hemant!

  • wabney

    “Whether they are millennials, boomers, busters, or carry some other label given to them by the secular culture, people become Christians only through the grace of the sovereign God who awakens their hearts (Acts 16:14) to accept His loving offer of salvation (John 3:16) and actually see the truth before them.”

    Is there a descriptive phrase for this a la technobabble? Christo-babble? I half keep expecting people who drone on with this nonsense to tell the reader to “invert the tachyon field” next.

    Back to his quote though, it’s same old same old: people become Christians because, ya know, MAGIC!

    *sigh*

    • Oranje

      Yeah, it really is the Star Trek: Voyager solution to writing.

  • staircaseghost

    Seriously, what the eff is this guy’s problem.

    In what logical universe would showing arguments for atheism are weak serve to refute the premise that millenials are leaving because of them?

    • UWIR

      And then there’s the argument that people are naturally unable to see the “truth” of Christianity, and only divine intervention can convince people. Yeah, if it takes divine intervention for people to agree with you, that suggests that you’re not on sound rhetorical footing. Why even engage in apologetics once you’ve acknowledged than none of your arguments have persuasive value?

  • primenumbers

    “The fact is, both the New Testament and external Christian sources hostile to Christianity agree that Jesus performed acts that could not be naturally explained.” – of course, there are no such external sources. There are no contemporary sources of the NT stories Christian or otherwise, there’s no mention at all in the contemporary historical record. The only external sources we have only attest to the fact that there were believing Christians believing as Christians do in the early 2nd century, and as that is not in doubt, it hardly helps his case that those sources like Josephus were doctored by Christians to support their case! It would seem that “liars for Jesus” is not a new phenomena.

  • randomfactor

    if atheists could just produce the body of Jesus

    Assumes there was one in the first place. They haven’t even established THAT.

    • Gus Snarp

      It’s kind of a serious issue. For the sake of argument, I’ll give them a guy named Yeshua in 1st century Palestine, I’ll even buy that he developed a bit of a following for himself. There’s nothing extraordinary in that. I don’t know if he was real, and generally, I don’t care. So go on thinking the guy existed. But when you start arguing about evidence for the resurrection, and trying to shift the burden of proof to me to present the body, then I’m within my rights to make it clear that there’s insufficient evidence of his having even existed to expect me to present his body.

      Heck, isn’t the lack of a body usually a rather damaging fact for a murder case? Shouldn’t the lack of a body rather be evidence against the crucifixion, than for the resurrection?

      • GubbaBumpkin

        For the sake of argument, I’ll give them a guy named Yeshua in 1st
        century Palestine, I’ll even buy that he developed a bit of a following
        for himself. There’s nothing extraordinary in that.

        It is not extraordinary, but it is also not well-evidenced.

        • Gus Snarp

          You’re absolutely right. All I’m saying is, if they want to say this Jesus guy existed, separate from any discussion of miracles or resurrection, I’m willing to give them that. Not that I personally believe it, just that it’s not really a point worth contending. I don’t think it’s at all well evidenced, but maybe he did, so what?

          But if saying he existed is a pretense to claiming that if you accept his existence you must accept his miracles and his resurrection, then I’ve got to say that I don’t really accept his existence, I’m just willing to ignore the claim because it’s not particularly unusual or important. But if you’re making claims of miracles and resurrections, you’ve got to do a lot better for evidence.

          • Spuddie

            In all fairness, there is no reason to believe any contemporary account of Jesus should exist. He was a citizen of a backwater province of common station whose interactions with the longstanding advanced empire running Judea were practically non-existent. This is assuming the events in the NT happened in the first place.

            Unless the Romans or Jewish nobility had a reason to even bother to write about him, there is little likelihood there would be any kind of record which survived or been preserved.

            • Michael W Busch

              But such an obscure historical Jesus has very little in common with the character in the texts that were incorporated into the various Bibles.

              • Spuddie

                My point is even if a historical Jesus existed, there is no reason anyone would ever know. So any claim about the historic Jesus will always be be nothing more than an unfounded assumption.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Fair point. But my counterpoint was that to make the historical Jesus obscure enough to plausibly hide him, he needs to have been something very unlike the character that appears in most current Christianity.

                • Spuddie

                  Most definitely. Very good point.

            • Silent Service

              Actually there were contemporary historians for the time in question that did write on the events in and around Jerusalem. We have that documentation. No mention of zombie apocalypse or Jesus. Even if they missed Jesus, zombie apocalypse should have stood out as should the Massacre of the Innocents under Herod. Nether have historical records. Bethlehem may have been small at the time, but the order to slaughter all boys under the age of two in and around Bethlehem should have been noticed by the Romans. Nothing. Not even mention in the kingdoms to the east where wise men supposedly came from to honor the birth of Jesus. Very odd if people from multiple kingdoms were aware of the birth that none documented it. From beginning to end, the Bible describes events that should have been historically documented due to the way they happened and the location. Nothing. Strange.

              • Spuddie

                We probably have more records about the monthly grain shipments to Rome during the 1st Century than anything mentioned in the NT.

              • UWIR

                There’s also the whole “Roman Empire orders the entire population of Judea to redistribute itself across the province, and then administers a census during the ensuing chaos” story.

                • Silent Service

                  Yeah, I would think that an important order like that would have wound up in the historical records. But nothing.

        • KatMcD

          that is the one thing that may have the most evidence for it, but only in that Josephus wrote about enough Jesuses to have to specify he was talking about the one called Christ (and his brother James!).

          In other news, [some of] Alexander the Great’s contemporaries (and possibly mother) said he was a product of conception with Zeus, and he managed to do something with his well documented life. So i’m thinking Zeus for the win?

          • GubbaBumpkin

            but only in that Josephus wrote about enough Jesuses to have to specify
            he was talking about the one called Christ (and his brother James!).

            Unless the “Christ” bit was forged in by some scribe. And the description of James and his mode of death do not align with other sources.

            Jesus in Josephus

            • KatMcD

              Oh, no. You’re totally right on that. Not trying to echo Gus Snarp, but all I really meant to say can boil down to: “yup, there were some Jesuses back then.”

            • KatMcD

              but also thanks for the link. new info for me.

        • Flonk Bob

          Exactly. Why do we have to ‘give’ them anything? They make claims that fly in the face of all science and rational thought, and then say “You can’t prove me wrong”. Well, we can easily prove them stupid…let them talk.

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        It’s easy enough to believe that the personage we know was Jesus Christ is based on a real person (or in my opinion far more likely, a composite of a number of people from about the same time) to whom legends and other stories became attached. Think how many far more recent people have stories attached to them that turn out not to be based in fact or have been misappropriated by their supporters when they actually happened to someone else. (George Washington would be a good example.) Given the scarcity and mostly nonexistence of sources, it is simply not possible to sort out the fact from the fiction in the case of Jesus and most other historical figures. The only difference is that people don’t go nearly so batshit crazy if we question whether or not a story about Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar is actually true.

    • Michael Harrison

      The line of argument I like using is that Alexander the Great claimed to be divine; can they prove he wasn’t by providing his body? (Inquiring archaeologists want to know, because apparently his tomb has been lost since the 300s.)

      • KatMcD

        Alexander! I commented before seeing this. I’m glad someone else brings it up too.

  • agreen15

    Just saying Hemant, you were one of the bloggers that definitely helped me switch from christianity to Atheism. So Schumacher is full of crap.

    • Machintelligence

      people become Christians only through the grace of the sovereign God who awakens their hearts (Acts 16:14) to accept His loving offer of salvation (John 3:16) and actually see the truth before them.

      I guess the huge decline in Christians means God is falling down on the job.
      I consider this a good thing.

  • Ida Know

    “Yes, there are very good apologetic arguments for [Gandalf] that contain compelling evidence and solid reason. And all will be flippantly brushed aside by unbelievers and labeled inadequate because of their a priori commitment to anti-supernaturalism unless [Gandalf intervenes in their life. ... Of course, this statement will be laughed at and ridiculed by [non-Gandalf-ists] but it is 100% [right there in The Lord of the Rings].”

    • epeeist

      Yes, there are very good apologetic arguments for [Gandalf] that contain compelling evidence and solid reason.

      Well yes there are, but not in the LoTR since simply filched the name. The real evidence for Gandalf is in the Elder Edda.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Hell, get someone to perform those miracles now and I’ll accept that, too. Turn water into wine. Walk on water. Cure the blind. Heal a paralytic. Whatever you want.

    There’s no reason to believe that a modern day Christian would be able to duplicate the exact feats of Jesus H. Christ, God and Son of God. So what should we expect a modern day Christian to be able to perform?

    Mark chapter 16
    [17] And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
    [18]
    They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

    Have at it.

    • Gus Snarp

      I thought there was somewhere else where the Bible claimed Jesus’ followers would be able to do all the miracles he did?

      • GCT

        And more. See John 14:12-14.

        • Gus Snarp

          That’s the one. Thanks.

        • EvolutionKills

          Good old John, probably the funniest Gospel to read.

          To quote David Fitzgerald (author of ‘Nailed: 10 Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All’), “John’s Jesus is a Republican Jesus!”

        • Michael Harrison

          And Matthew 17:20.

    • KatMcD

      gotta love sketchy bible pronoun usage:

      “they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

      which i read as:

      “I touched ‘em! And see? I’m still OK!”

      also: things I only admit on the internet: I’ve always enjoyed a good round of glossolalia and do it (alone) to this day. (never been religious. just weird.)

    • Intelligent Donkey

      I walk on water every winter.

      And I’m not even Christian!

  • Anthony Adams

    Take it easy on my brother Hemant! I don’t know what you did but you sure got him going. It was like open season for you. Hopefully when he refocuses you guys can open the discussion again on “why they are leaving?”. Thanks I appreciate what you do with the site and posing great questions.

  • the moother

    When I think of Schumacher all I see is this:

  • http://knottiesniche.com/ Knottie

    There is one point both of you gentlemen seem to be missing. Most people who leave the church never really believed and only attended because it was socially demanded of them. Now in a time of social media there are more and more people speaking their doubts and having real conversations about them and suddenly they are realizing that it is ok not to believe what they were spoon fed since birth and pressured in to living socially. It’s not so much that there are more Atheist it’s just that more people are not playing along and pretending to believe to be accepted.

    • Michael Harrison

      Well, I know I did, and I met a guy in college who did. Granted, I don’t know of any statistically important collection of case studies on whether the majority of American atheists were True Believers.

      • John Alexander Harman

        Hypothesis: whether or not the majority of American atheists were ever believers or not, the probability of someone becoming an atheist blogger or other sort of activist is positively correlated with the intensity of that person’s past religious faith.

    • Brad C.

      That’s an interesting theory, but I’d to love to see something to back this up. I know I was a true believer myself, as were many outspoken atheists.

      • Ted Thompson

        Ditto this fella

      • http://knottiesniche.com/ Knottie

        What is a “true believer” versus someone who was spoon fed something thus basically brainwashed since birth? I too once thought I was a “true believer” until I realized at a young age that I was just regurgitating what I was told to and when I started questioning I was shunned and humiliated to try and force me to conform back to being a “true believer”. Even now if a person says I am an atheist “true believers” attack them and try to demean them into conforming. Look around.. that’s how the human pack animal works. Now that atheist have some back up and a group to fit in with, because of the internet, the tactics don’t work anymore.

        • Brad C.

          You made an assertion that “most people who leave the church never really believed”, and I’m calling bullshit.

          I think you’re projecting your own experience onto “most people who leave the church”, without any basis in fact.

          I believed it and lived it for nearly 40 years, before learning about skepticism opened my eyes, and I began to doubt and really investigate the claims of Christianity. I hear similar stories to mine all the time. Many well-known atheists are former devout believers, some of them even preachers.

          To be sure, I hear stories like your’s as well, that the Bible stories never made much sense, even as a kid, and they left the church as soon as they were old enough to assert their independence.

          Now I admit that I don’t have any scientific surveys to submit for evidence here, to determine the real numbers. Do you?

          • http://knottiesniche.com/ Knottie

            You are the one projecting. I never said all.. I said MOST and if a person TRULY believed then they would not be changing their beliefs now would they?

            I thought atheist were suppose to be logical people … SMH

            • Brad C.

              I quoted your statement that used “most”, that’s what I’m contesting. I’m claiming that MOST people who ultimately leave the church once really did truly believe.

              It probably doesn’t happen as often as we would like, but yes, people do change their beliefs. After all, it happened to me.

    • b s

      That’s pretty much me. I was catholic but I don’t think I ever really believed, I was just told that I did. Eventually I just went along with it and assumed they were probably right. Only later in life while watching Carl Baugh’s TV show Creation in the 21st Century (for the sheer comedy value) did I realize how amazingly wrong some of his arguments were. From there, I somehow found Mark Bakke’s Night Owl II (website is still up, but inactive since ’99) where he did an excellent job showing all religious claims are on equal footing and have no evidence. I still go back from time to time to reread his discussions.

  • Gideon

    I’m guessing that if I mentioned to Schu that according to legend the Buddha performed incredible feats, he probably wouldn’t accept it as proof. Just sayin’.

  • Louis

    There has to be a link to ready access to information such as smart phone and tablets, and the decreasing number of church-goers.

    Unlike the Middle Ages, the Church has no control over information and education. The religious minded cannot keep the population ignorant and servile. Every kid with a smart phone and a link to the Internet is one more kid who is likely to ask questions.

    The mullahs, priests, witch doctors and soothsayers must be laying awake in their beds at night.

    • Machintelligence

      According to Daniel Dennett, churches evolved in a low information environment, where it was easy to keep the members ignorant both of the existence of other creeds and the actual tenents of their own. The internet is eroding this isolation and the churches are having difficulty adapting. There is some truth in the adage that the internet is where religion goes to die.

      • John Alexander Harman

        {language pedant} Tenants are people who rent apartments; tenets are the key details of a belief system. It amuses me when Christians get that wrong, but I’d prefer atheists to know better. {/language pedant}

  • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

    It is hard for christian apologists to understand atheists when their salaries depend on them not understanding atheists.

    • EvolutionKills

      I also wonder if this isn’t a source of some of the academic push back against Jesus myth theories. Because most of the people in the field are believers, and they’ll loose their jobs and their grants (funded by other believers) if they start to espouse that Jesus was nothing more than a myth. It’s okay for Christian scholars to call the Jewish patriarchs mythic, but I have a feeling that calling Jesus a myth will be a bridge too far for many in the field (just look at Dr. Bart Ehrman).

      • primenumbers

        Ehrman’s book was somewhat interesting and yet didn’t address the real issues, and acted on the assumption of a historical Jesus because academics throughout the ages have assumed as much. As much as that is the academic consensus that should be the assumption in general, but if you’re arguing for or against this specific issues you cannot use that assumption to bolster your argument, instead what is needed is evidence, and as Ehrman points out, we don’t have much positive evidence, and what we do have only comes from Christians who believed in Jesus. If that alone is not enough to ensure we must remain agnostic on the issue, I don’t know what is?

        • EvolutionKills

          Full disclosure, I’m more than well aware of Ehrman’s view because of his tete-a-tete with Richard Carrier. I find that Carrier makes the best case for a Jesus myth theory that I’ve come across. You can check out Carrier’s recap and point by point coverage of their debate on his blog, complete with the links to everything so you can read the original debate as it happened.

          http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1794

          • primenumbers

            It’s because I read Carrier that I had to read Ehrman. I will have to re-read Carrier’s words now that I’ve got through Ehrman’s case.

            • EvolutionKills

              Carrier still maintains that Ehrman is a good scholar, and this his earlier works like ‘Forged’ and ‘Jesus Interrupted’ are really good go-to books for people looking to get up to speed on the current state of the mainstream consensus. But the ‘Jesus is a myth’ appears to be the one thing that Ehrman can’t bring himself to consider. He started out as a fundie and now he’s a staunch agnostic, so he has come far in his studies.

              Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised if someone coming from that background would have such an almost hard wired limit. Still, I hold no ill will for the guy and I’ve really enjoyed watching his presentation on YouTube concerning the reliability of the Gospels. But in his tete-a-tete with Carrier, he didn’t do himself any favors.

              • primenumbers

                I read Carrier’s posts as he went along, but it’s nice to read through the summary you posted after reading Ehrman’s book. I found it most annoying that Ehrman claims we “have” documents like Q, M and L (which we don’t), that documents are independent (when they’re not) etc. It does his case no good, actually….

      • Michael Harrison

        It’s a radical notion. Adam and Eve, they’re easy to show to be fictitious from a genetic standpoint. But there is no evidence for or against a “Life of Brian” scenario, and the Jesus myth hypothesis would require a conspiracy. I would say that makes it less desirable from an Occam’s razor standpoint.

        • EvolutionKills

          The Jesus myth story would not require a conspiracy at all. All Christianity needed to succeed was a belief in the resurrection of Christ. It did not require an actual resurrection or an actual Jesus. I could get into it more, but I’d just as soon let the idea be defended by it’s proponents. Just be aware that not all myth theories are created equally, and the ‘Zeitgeist’ movie is one of the bad ones.

          ‘Nailed: 10 Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed at All’ – David Fitzgerald

          Go check out Richard Carrier’s blog and his various talks and presentations that can be found on YouTube. You can also check out his books ‘Proving History’ and his upcoming ‘On the Historicity of Jesus’.

          http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier

        • Mitch W.

          Absolutely no conspiracy required for Jesus to be 100% mythical. Anyone with the least bit of intelligence and education knows that Scientology is a completely human fabrication created by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer know to tell about his own accomplishments during his lifetime. Yet the Curch of Scientology continues to grow; they also like to point to their most famous members and say, “That famous person believes our shit, so it must be true” just like Christians love to do today.

          We have another example from the 1800s in Mormonism. Joseph Smith was a convicted con-man whose preferred con was peep stoning. When he got out of jail for peep stoning, he moved further west, and created the Book of Mormon using his preferred con, peep stoning. Once again, one man created it, and the thinking-challenged ate it up.

          I repeat, no conspiracy required!

          • Michael Harrison

            If anyone criticizes Scientology, the top Scientologists threaten to sue. I’d call that a conspiracy. However, there is no analogous alternative hypothesis, no human-like character being claimed to be human. As I see it, just because it’s idiotic to claim that Mohammed cut the moon in half, that doesn’t mean there was no historical figure named Mohammed. What I am claiming is simply that it takes a conspiracy to manufacture belief in a person, a normal, everyday, flesh-and-blood mortal, who never existed.

            • Michael W Busch

              it takes a conspiracy to manufacture belief in a person, a normal, everyday, flesh-and-blood mortal, who never existed.

              No it doesn’t. All it requires is that people pass around stories about a character who is eventually seen has having been a real person.

              There was probably no historical Buddha, and yet many people believe Siddhartha Gautama existed. None of the Biblical patriarchs existed, and yet many people still believe they did. And so on.

              For Muhammad, we have third-party documentation of his existence shortly after his death and some relatively consistent biographical data about his life. For Jesus, the problem of assembling a consistent story about who any historical Jesus may have been is harder.

              • Spuddie

                There is probably a higher likelihood of finding contemporaneous writings about the historical Buddha than Jesus simply based on the fact that Siddhartha Gautama was of noble ancestry.

                He would be a figure more likely to be around literate people. Plus geneology and accounts of nobility are usually something recorded and of great importance to monarchies for purely mundane reasons. .

                • Michael W Busch

                  Siddhartha Gautama is said to have been of noble ancestry. But the oldest Buddhist texts don’t contain anything like the later biographies – they talk about the Buddha having cycled through various past lives and having various supernatural experiences before attaining enlightenment. Inference: all of the details in what is now the traditional biography of Siddhartha Gautama are later inventions.

                • Spuddie

                  So if Siddhartha Gautama’s noble birth is also an after the fact embellishment, then there is little to no chance of finding texts concerning his life either.

              • Michael Harrison

                So the question becomes: given the evidence, which explanation fits what we know and requires fewer assumptions–a guy had a cult following build around him, or a cult formed around an urban legend? The problem is that there is so little evidence. But, real or imagined, we know there’s plenty of BS PR that’s been heaped around the idea of Jesus.

                • EvolutionKills

                  Or, Christianity is a syncretism of the popular ‘mystery faiths’ combined with Judaism. The Jesus preached was a spiritual Jesus, whose kingdom was the spiritual kingdom in heaven. The later Gospels were the product of much later well educated affluent Greeks, whose stories were meant as mythic allegory. The stories followed a clear path of euhemerization, which was the process of taking mythic figures and places them in the world with stories (such as the Labours of Heracles, or gods interfering in the Odyssey or the Iliad). So the gospels were most likely meant to have two meanings; the story of an earthly Jesus for the laypeople, and the allegorical tale hidden under the surface for those who were ‘in the know’ of the cult. This same thing can be found in the Mysteries of Isis and Osiris cults of the same time.

            • EvolutionKills

              Just for example, look at the earliest texts in the New Testament. Those would be the Epistles, specifically the letters attributed to Paul. Read those letters and you’ll notice that Paul isn’t talking about an earthly Jesus, but a spiritual vision (hallucination). It’s very likely that Paul was a schizotypal that started to feel guilty about what he was doing to the Christians, and so hallucinated a vision of Jesus to resolve his emerging cognitive dissonance (caused from persecuting a group he was coming to sympathize with).

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          I wouldn’t use the word conspiracy but various oral traditions of Jesus and religious traditions had to be either reconciled or rejected. We find some of both in the early church. I’m not sure anyone participating in that was doing so for any other reason but to find the “truth”, and I don’t think there’s any evidence for a “Zeitgeist: The Movie” sort of fraud. Just people trying to form a consistent narrative from inconsistent sources.

      • Sajanas

        I think Avalos, in The End of Biblical Studies, pointed that out. If Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, and just a normal person made into a myth, or a myth given a historical fiction treatment, that in no way justifies the *huge* amount of scholasticism (and, lets be honest, bad scholasticism) that universities carry around. Whole universities and colleges worth.

        Now, compare that to my university, UNC Chapel Hill, which has about 40 people in their Classics department, for the study of *all* the classic Greek and Roman works, and UNC’s Classics department is both large and good as far as I know. I suspect that better work would be done on the Bible if it were done by a lot fewer, more objective scholars versed in other works from the region and time.

      • KatMcD

        If ever you feel a little too confident about the reliability of Wikipedia or need to remind some folk not to depend on wiki’d knowledge, just look at their page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus
        - and pay attention to the sources.

      • Guest

        No, it’s because the ‘Jesus was a myth’ theory has no good scholarly research behind it and a whole lot of crackpots associated with it. Like the guy who tried to claim Jesus’ story came from Osiris and mangled Egyptian mythology to do it. The truth is that Jesus existing explains the beginnings of Christianity much better than his being a myth does.

        • cascadiaj

          Unless you’re aware of mystery cults.

          • Guest

            You really think that bible scholars and historians that study the period of Jesus’ life are not aware of mystery cults? Yet they still think Jesus is historical. This idea that experts in the field are ‘afraid’ of a new theory advanced only by amateurs is common to a lot of conspiracy nuts; it’s sad to see it spreading in the skeptical community.

            • Spuddie

              Of course Biblical scholars chose not to be aware of them. Historians generally avoid Biblical sources for lack of contemporaneous accuracy.

              One of the main aspects of Bible study is deliberately ignoring, denigrating or avoiding discussion of material from other beliefs contemporary with or predating the Bible. The “experts” in the field are experts in interpreting religious dogma, not as serious historians. Biblical archaeology is not taken seriously in the field. It is considered largely the province of zealots, amateurs and realityTV.

            • KatMcD

              of course I don’t think they’re unaware. I think they don’t fit their narrative so they keep others unaware. It’s marketing more than conspiracy. follow the money.

            • EvolutionKills

              No, what’s sad is some disparaging the ‘skeptical community’ while they themselves unquestioningly accept the status quo. Especially when the status quo is maintaining the historicity of a character to whom an entire field of study is dedicated to exonerating, and has a vested interest in maintaining it’s historicity. That you cannot even acknowledge the potential for bias or intellectual dishonesty is not a point in your favor.

              Generally within a field, the consensus view should be deferred to unless you have a reason to doubt the consensus. Richard Carrier makes a case for that in ‘Proving History’, where he explains that the unanimous consensus among those who critique historical methods is that the methods are all fallacious. Carrier does his best to explain this, then argues for using Bayesian reasoning for historical method, and using it to form the basis for a new consensus. He’ll then use Bayesian reasoning to specifically evaluate the historicity of Jesus in ‘On the Historicity of Jesus’. While the book isn’t out yet, there are a number of talks available on YouTube where he argues the same points.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUZOZN-9dc

        • Gus Snarp

          Unless you know the definition of “myth”.

          That the story of Jesus is a myth is not something that requires a lot of evidence. All you have to do is look at its characteristics and see if it meets the definition of a myth. This does not require a great deal of thought or effort. It does not require some grand theory. It is a myth because it fits the definition of myth.

        • EvolutionKills

          Not all myth theories are created equal, and to dismiss them all because you found one that was bogus is fallacious reasoning. The ‘Zeitgeist’ movie and the angle taken in Bill Maher’s ‘Religulous’ are both examples of the bad, easily refuted myth theory. Try actually looking into the work being done by David Fitzgerald, Dr. Robert M. Price, or Dr. Richard Carrier. It is scholarly, and it is supported by the evidence. Ironically enough, I’ve seen Carrier disparage the Osiris ‘connection’, he thinks it’s bogus and not supported by the evidence either.

        • UWIR

          Just because P(A|B) > P(A|not B), that doesn’t mean P(B) > P(not B)

  • http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/ Counter Apologist

    Pluralism, pluralism, pluralism.

    He claims he’s got evidence, but what they neglect to tell you is that this “evidence” is no different from the kinds of “evidence” we get in other religions to back up their holy books and miracle claims.

    This isn’t some a priori dismissal of supernaturalism, it’s based on the fact that when you lower the bar of what constitutes good evidence, we’re stuck accepting a wide variety of miracle claims from contradictory religions.

    • EvolutionKills

      Precisely, once the bar is set low enough for Jesus, we’d also have to buy into every other god every conceived by humans. They can’t all be right, but they most certainly can all be wrong.

    • Brad C.

      Yes, that’s an argument I have been using a lot in these kinds of conversations: if I can use your exact argument to defend Mormonism or Islam or Scientology, then doesn’t that show it isn’t a particularly good argument in defense of Christianity?

      And I’ve found a TON of Christian arguments easily fall into this category (Pascal’s wager, argument from spiritual experience, etc…)

    • ZeldasCrown

      I’ve seen this idea a lot in many different realms of debate from these folks: lower the standards of proof or evidence for themselves, while simultaneously demanding higher standards from the other side’s opinion.

      I see this a lot in terms of creationism/intelligent design vs evolution. They have done no experiments or any testing of any kind of their ideas, and still want to consider their ideas a scientific theory (at best, it could be a hypothesis, but even that’s a little sketchy). They then turn around and demand that, in order to accept evolution, it must be proved that no contradicting evidence could ever possibly be found in the future-in other words, we must show them what additional evidence is going to be found before we find it.

      • KatMcD

        So verymuch *this*. I mean, from this guy’s article alone:

        Assignment For Christians (Completed):

        evidence for miracles: Just look at all the evidence in the Bible, plus some other guy mentioned Jesus name so: TRUTH.

        Assignment for Doubters (Incomplete)

        evidence against Jesus Christ of the Bible: Provide 2000-year-old skeleton/body of an executed criminal, prove verifiable as a)Nazarene Carpenter b)the right Jesus c)etc ad infinitum

  • icecreamassassin

    Is he really upset that I have an a priori commitment to *reality*?

  • Ted Thompson

    Well. Nice try Hemant. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t push him in and then tow him out far enough that he has to take a drink eventually.

  • WallofSleep

    “There was a time when Christians could have remained sheltered their
    entire lives. That’s next to impossible now for a variety of reasons,
    including the Internet.”

    Sometimes I wonder how different my life might have been if there were such a thing as ‘The Internet’ when I was a kid. Then I think “Don’t fool yourself. Your cheap ass parents would never have spent any money on any damn internet thing”.

  • Stev84

    I thought he promised to address some points made by Hemant. This is just pure nonsense.

  • baal

    “because of their a priori commitment to anti-supernaturalism”

    When I start seeing ghosts at my grocery store, goblins in the library, vampires in my backyard and my cousin is a werewolf, I’ll stop with the base assumption that the supernatural doesn’t exist. Until it’s common place in everyday life, claims of supernaturalism are extra-ordinary and it’s the burden of the person making the extra-ordinary claim to prove a reasonable basis for that claim.

  • BobaFuct

    ” Christianity has never hidden in a bubble”

    MAYBE this is true…Christians, however, do hide in a bubble. Pretty much my entire family (meaning immediate and extended) partake in exactly ZERO social activities that are not church-related or church-backed (aside from strictly family activities). Softball? Play for the church team. Camping? Get a church group together. Halloween? Take the kids to the church for the “harvest party.” Looking for love? Hit the church’s singles bible study.

    Most large churches aim to serve as a one-stop-shopping experience for Christians’ social needs, specifically so Christians never have to leave their bubble.

    • WallofSleep

      “Most large churches aim to serve as a one-stop-shopping experience for
      Christians’ social needs, specifically so Christians never have to leave
      their bubble.”

      A practice that pleases vultures and con-men who know how to exploit such insularity. Fruit has never hung so low.

      • Machintelligence

        At the risk of repeating myself:
        Faith is just gullibility dressed up in its Sunday best.

      • WallofSleep

        I have to add that my grandmother lives in a sort of christian bubble, and whenever we are out in public and someone utters the phrase “goddamnit!” within earshot of her, the look on her face is hilarious.

        A mixture of shock, disgust, and horror. If there ever were a police officer nearby during one of these occurrences I swear she would try to bring such an offense to their attention.

    • KatMcD

      .. and his article actually states, even brags, that his church is larger than most small towns. But no, I’m sure he steps out of that bubble *all* the time. ::/eyeroll::

      (“…he should stop by my church sometime. We have about 23,000 that attend every Sunday and that number continues to grow in multiple campuses. And ours is just one church, in one city, in one state.”)

  • flyb

    Edit: this was meant to be a reply to WallofSleep. oops.

    It is amazing to see 8 year olds today playing with mobile devices and even showing some advanced internet savvy. I think all I was doing when I was that age was reading books. Kids today are arguably much more informed now then I was then.

    However, the internet freedom people enjoy today is at a constant threat. We see it today in countries around the world.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/08/06/from-the-u-k-to-vietnam-internet-censorship-on-the-rise-globally/

    I’m not usually one for slippery slope arguments, but we must remain vigilant to protect our internet freedoms from religious and political intervention.

    • cascadiaj

      This and McCarthyism show why unwarranted tracking of all citizens and their meta-junk is a threat.

  • poliltimmy

    Nothing ‘supernatural’ exists. The unknown is simply, undiscovered ‘natural phenomena’.

  • Mike

    “Yes, there are very good apologetic arguments for God that contain compelling evidence and solid reason.”

    I would love to know his definition of “compelling,” “evidence,” “solid,” and “reason.”

    • poliltimmy

      You can bet none of his definitions match yours or mine.

    • Miss_Beara

      Compelling = having faith
      Evidence = having faith
      Solid = faith
      Reason = More faith

  • Bill Santagata

    The biggest puzzler, for me, is why the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God would, instead of beaming his holy word into everyone’s minds, chose to beam that information only into the minds of a select few individuals, who could read and write at a time when literacy was the exception not the norm, thus making that critical information available only in a certain geographic area for most of its existence, then send everyone who grew up in cultures outside this area to eternal damnation for making up their own false religions and gods.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Technically, there wasn’t even any mind-beaming. According to the NT, Jesus was simply talking. You know, the way any regular human could. It’s almost as though Jesus was just a regular human dude with strange ideas who got nailed to a tree for his trouble.

  • C Peterson

    Way too much use of the word “proof” on both sides, and not enough of “evidence”.

    And on the subject of evidence, the first place to start is the overwhelming lack of evidence for an historical Jesus in the first place. And while the existence of an actual Jesus isn’t completely required for Christianity to exist, it certainly changes in a dramatic way the development of dogma and the interpretation of many fundamental tenets.

    • ShoeUnited

      Even if you could prove an historical Jesus, you still have a large leap between “Guy named Jesus in the desert with a cult following.” and “Mangod who can levitate.”

      There were quite a few prophets during that time period doing all kinds of silly miracles claiming to work for the true god.

      • C Peterson

        Right. Obviously, there were no miracles, no virgin birth, no resurrection. Those ideas are just nuts. But it is interesting from an historical perspective to consider how Christianity developed based on an actual person Jesus, versus the more likely possibility of no such person at all.

  • Denis Robert

    “The fact is, both the New Testament and external Christian sources hostile to Christianity agree:”: leaving aside the clear typo, what external sources? At best, external sources state that there was a cult called Christianity at some point around the end of the first century. That’s it. That’s the absolute most that one can point to in terms of sources external to the NT. None of the so-called “external” sources (which are all highly controversial) attest to “miracles” of any kind.

  • katiehippie

    Well, he didn’t argue with the anti-gay comment.

  • The Captain

    So… looks like he never did address the criticism of christians being anti-gay did he????????

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Ignore the big thing by arguing about the little things. Christianity is losing young members like a hemorrhaging jugular vein because of this one issue, and he’s trying to put little bandages on the scratches of other issues.

      • baal

        I rather welcome that Robin Schumacher is trying to put forth the best argumentation his side can muster. It highlights just how weak a position his side has.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    “if atheists could just produce the body of Jesus (2,000 years after he died…), then we’d win.” I want this guy to produce the body Voldemort. If he can do that, then he wins.

    “and external Christian sources hostile to Christianity agree that Jesus performed acts that could not be naturally explained.” Oh yeah? Where are these magical sources?

    • Machintelligence

      This brings to mind a joke that was circulating among elementary school kids over 50 years ago.
      We won’t be celebrating Easter this year. They found the body!

  • KMR

    I’m one of those “seeking” agnostics so I tend to be sympathetic to the guy. But I will say asking for proof of supernatural miracles happening today shouldn’t be too much to ask considering digital cellphones, cameras, etc. I remember not too long ago when I still labeled myself as Christian I did a Beth Moore Bible study. It was actually one of her better ones but at any rate she cited a story in which a doctor was amazed upon doing a surgery when the patient’s cancer disappeared right before his eyes (after being told by a voice heard only by him to go back and attempt to operate upon first leaving in discouragement at the progression of the disease). Beth stated that the operation was even videotaped. Well being naturally gullible and apt to believe that all people desire to be truthful, I loved this story. But despite my affinity, I thought even at the time that it would have been nice if she had cited where to find this video on-line. I’ve even subsequently looked for it and it’s nowhere. How convenient of course.
    I personally don’t have a problem with faith. But faith is not proof and if you don’t have verifiable proof for something you shouldn’t let that something influence your decisions when said decisions affect someone else negatively. In that case, you should ere on the side of compassion and love. It still seems that most followers of western, evangelical Christianity have yet to get this.

  • Lee Miller

    Anybody look at this guy’s academic (????) background? Bachelor’s degree in Business, then MA from a seminary established by Norman Geisler, and a PhD from an on-line school in the UK. He should have stuck with business. Oh, wait . . . I guess he did.

  • SeekerLancer

    “Christianity has never hidden in a bubble; unlike other faiths, it has opened itself up to scrutiny and been forever out in front engaging other worldviews (including atheism) in dialog since the beginning.”

    He can’t seriously compare past critics of Christianity to how open and available the Internet is today. Someone looking for answers in the past would likely find them in a religious context. Someone looking for answers now can find them without a filter at the click of a mouse.

  • Sven2547

    As far as Jesus’ resurrection is concerned, there is plenty of good historical and philosophical evidence that has been presented numerous times by many Christian apologists…

    I see the same behavior from creationists all the time. “There is TONS of evidence for a young earth.” “Such as?” **crickets**

    • Miss_Beara

      The Bible of course!

      • Mairianna

        …and around and around we go!

    • Adam Patrick

      You just can’t see it because Satan has blinded you to the truth. /sarcasm

      • Bdole

        I hear this often and they are completely serious.

  • sara

    ” people become Christians only through the grace of the sovereign God who awakens their hearts (Acts 16:14) to accept His loving offer of salvation (John 3:16) and actually see the truth before them.”

    Did he just say that people are turning away from the church because god is refusing to “awaken their hearts?” How could that possibly be something he would rather put out there than “the mean atheists are tricking them?”

    • Kingasaurus

      You seem to be under the mistaken impression that it’s supposed to make sense.

      LOL

  • Tainda

    You cannot quote the bible as a source of truth! IT. IS. A. WORK. OF. FICTION.

    I also want a modern person to perform a miracle. If they can do that, without subterfuge and in front of my eyes, I will believe it wholeheartedly. Until then, stfu about these so called miracles. In ancient times they also believed the world was flat and that the gods made the rain/thunder/wind. Oh wait, some still do…

    Also, there is christian toothpaste? Really?!

    • Adam Patrick

      I thought the same thing. How would one go about making Christian toothpaste?

      • baal

        I would suggest something like the whole kosher certification process but with priests and holy water instead of male rabbits.

        • just somebody

          How to you make holy water if no priest is available? Boil the hell out of it.

        • phantomreader42

          Are male rabbits kosher? Weren’t they incorrectly listed among cud-chewing animals in the bible?

          • baal

            It was mostly a typo for Rabbi.

            • phantomreader42

              I gathered that, but it actually makes me wonder, is it kosher to eat a rabbit*? Or for that matter a rabbi**? Could a rabbit become a rabbi, assuming the necessary intelligence***? ;)
              *This likely depends on whether they’re classified as cloven-hoofed ruminants, which depends on that mixed-up verse.
              **Probably not, as humans are neither cloven-hoofed nor ruminants
              ***I don’t know all the requirements, but off the top of my head I don’t see any reason why not, provided the rabbit in question converted to Judaism, but as I understand it that requires the prospective convert (if male) to be circumcised, which may be tricky with lapine anatomy.

      • JohnnieCanuck

        First you get some bones from a Christian graveyard…

    • C.L. Honeycutt
      • Tainda

        lol!!

        I can’t open gaming sites at work but I’m sure those are in reference to Everquest Next?

        If so, I’M ALL OVER IT and so excited! :) Been waiting for it for about a year now.

        I will check those links out when I get home :D

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Hopefully they’re not repeats of what you already know. To my knowledge they’re only a few days old. The characters are a little cartoony, but they’re surely not finished either.

          Sadly, MMOs have been sufficiently refined, and their players sufficiently jaded, that never again will I get to pull my favorite prank in the Desert of Ro. :(

          • Tainda

            The joystiq article was really good! I’m not too big on the cartoony look but if it’s good enough, I will get over it.

            I’m just sick of easy mode and that’s why players are jaded. No wide eyed newness and fear anymore lol

  • 313654

    Hement, you are the sweetest person. He better leave you alone.

  • Pam

    Hey Mr. Mehta, you should know that you’ve had quite a bit of bearing on my thoughts and beliefs (and on others too, I’m sure). When you live in a small community and don’t personally know any other atheists, blogs like yours go a long way to help solidify and strengthen the thought process of young people with ‘alternative’ beliefs. I also snagged your book for .99 when you had it on sale. Thanks!

  • Carpinions

    “Says who?”

    Oh Zeus, here we go…

    “As for Jesus’ miracles, again the question is: what proof are you seeking? The fact is, both the New Testament and external Christian sources hostile to Christianity agree that Jesus performed acts that could not be naturally explained.”

    This is exactly why atheists throw their hands up in these arguments and treat Christians as hopelessly dishonest. Enlisting the gawking accounts of a bunch of unlettered, incredulous bystanders in an area of the world that was much less advanced than China was at the time as experts about what was and was not possible to accomplish or explain naturally is like asking even a modern day 2 year-old to explain how a smartphone works in deep technological detail. The non-evidence proffered for Jesus’ divine powers is the definition of hearsay, at best.

    “If millennials truly aren’t coming to Christ, it has nothing to
    do with Mr. Mehta’s arguments, which are mostly anemic and contain
    nothing original.”

    Oh originality is one of the criteria? How many mirrors does Schumacher own?

    “…know that people such as Mehta have no bearing whatsoever on whether the atheist ranks swell or shrink.”

    Says someone who is part of a superstitious tradition that builds entire buildings and physical and social networks over literally thousands of years in order to promote said superstition. Again, if Schumacher truly believed that, no Christian would need to attend a church or any so-themed gathering. Obviously he doesn’t believe that, because not only does he do those things, he feels the need to spend even more of his life writing about it on the Internet. This is the “I’m taking my ball and running home!” tactic.

    “Of course, this statement will be laughed at and ridiculed by atheists but it is 100% Biblical.”

    Well, at least we agree on these points.

    “…the media continually parades the handful of individuals comprising the Westboro Baptist church as something representing Christ…”

    Hardly. How easily he forgets the incessant deferral to people like mega-church pastors or other perceived church leaders like Bill Donohue one a variety of issues in American life, and the number of godly references at things like sporting events, blah blah ad infinitum. This is why atheists say Christians will never truly be happy until their religion (and indeed down to the specific flavor) is given unwavering deference and social currency. They cherry pick the few instances of criticism or insult, and label the whole world as out to get them. They’re ready to figuratively nail themselves to a cross at a second’s notice just to be heard over everyone else.

  • Guest

    ‘Says who’
    Say the majority of Bible scholars. There’s two accounts of Jesus’ birth and they contradict each other in terms of when in the historical record they could have happened. Mary’s virginity is only mentioned in one gospel, based on a mistranslation of an old prophecy. The writer of that gospel would never have met Mary. None of the writers of any of the gospels ever met Jesus. The gospels weren’t written as historical accounts, they were written as propaganda to win converts.

    • baal

      Too often the debate over the historicity of Jesus seems to me like a proxy battle for the whole shebang. The pro-jesus side is usually also doing a unstated conflation. If Historical Jesus is a real human person, then His divinity is true and the miracles are true and all the whole book of the bibly is literally true since He was a man. The other side does this as well but to a lesser degree. If Jesus never was, he couldn’t have performed miracles (due to his non-existence) and thus the whole book is make believe.

  • SGHeathen

    “The fact is, both the New Testament and external Christian sources hostile to Christianity agree that Jesus performed acts that could not be naturally explained.” Q.E.D Goddidit. “plenty of good historical and philosophical evidence”.

    The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.
    - Thomas Paine

  • arensb

    … he gives us nothing.

    Or, more precisely, in a footnote he refers us to two books on the subject of Jesus’ resurrection. And that’s good. A lot of people who argue for Christianity fail to cite any sources.

    But Schumacher fails to mention any of the evidence presented in those books, so this is just handwaving: “The evidence you seek is out there. No, really it is. Trust me.” In other words, instead of telling us what the evidence is, he tells us who has it, and pretends that he’s answered the question.

    And every time I’ve tried looking for evidence of the resurrection, I just come across the same old, same old: hearsay, nth-hand rumors, vague pronouncements, and wishful thinking.

  • Michaela Samuels

    Psh. How dare non-believers demand use of scientific methods for evidence of claims!

  • kagekiri

    Hah, oh sweet Jesus.

    An apologist saying someone else doesn’t have an original argument?

    With the apologist simultaneously quoting verses that are literally thousands of years old as the counter-claim, and whose arguments of “the Bible said so” have been rehashed and retranslated and repeated thousands, millions of times?

    Blatant, spectacularly un-self-aware hypocrisy: Christians have refined it to a goddamn performance art.

  • Michael W Busch

    He then argues that if atheists could just produce the body of Jesus (2,000 years after he died…), then we’d win. As if the burden of proof is on us that someone didn’t rise up from the dead.

    And as if there is any evidence whatsoever that there was a historical Jesus who was anyone whose body would have been conveniently labeled as having been him. After all, if the mythicists are right, there was never any real person we could call Jesus in the first place. And if they aren’t, there is still the problem of the character of Jesus in the texts being a composite character with wildly-contradicting attributes.

    • TnkAgn

      This is when it is good to recall Sagan’s Law: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” What is more extraordinary than the biblical claims that surround the life of Jesus, the extraordinary god-man?

  • TnkAgn

    Schumacher’s assertion that there is “…plenty of good historical and philosophical evidence…” for the resurrection on Jesus, without actually giving us some, is predicated on faith, and can only be accepted on faith. In doing that, Schumacher can only preach to, and within the Christian bubble. No one outside of this bubble can take him seriously.

    And what the hell is “philosophical evidence” anyhow? Wait, don’t tell me – “Ways of knowing.” What claptrap.

    • Billybob

      It’s probably stuff like ‘women are embarrasing, so early jews would never have claimed that women discovered Jesus had risen if they were lying. Therefore repent!’ or else ‘would you die for a lie’?

    • Anna

      In my conversation with a fundamentalist Catholic on another thread, I became aware that some of these people actually do believe that philosophical arguments are evidence of the supernatural. For them, something like the Cosmological argument is evidence that their god is true, and they seem to think we’re just being stubborn by refusing to accept that.

      • baal

        I like to think those fundamentalists see “argument I can’t find holes in” and “proven facts with solid real life evidence” as the same. The hard part for us is getting them to understand enough to see the holes for themselves.

      • ZenDruid

        I blame Aristotle and his fanboys. Seems a metaphysical argument always trumps the mundane stuff like germ theory and Newton’s laws of motion.

      • TnkAgn

        The Cosmological argument may pass a straight-face test for the existence of a prime mover, Force, 1st Cause… But it cannot be of any use to support the existence or supposed events surrounding the biblical character of Jesus. So, again, it’s down to “Ways of knowing.” Sad, really.

        • Anna

          Even that I don’t get. The argument itself isn’t evidence of the supernatural. It was created by a human being. The person who constructed the argument wasn’t supernatural. That person had no special powers or knowledge that the rest of us don’t have.

          I don’t understand how fundamentalists can point to philosophical arguments and say they’re evidence of the supernatural. From my perspective, they originate in the human mind, created by people who were indoctrinated with supernatural assumptions and seek to justify those assumptions.

      • Green_Sapphire

        I tend to reply to such Catholics that, per Aquinas, and still part of Church teaching, that rape is a lesser sexual sin than masturbation, because, in the former case, the sexual activity is still properly ordered, with S going from P into V.

        (Rape is a bad sin per RCC for other reasons, but the sex part is mainly bad because they aren’t married.)

        • Anna

          Yikes. In that other conversation, it appeared that fundamentalist Catholics do believe in a hierarchy of sexual sins? I said something about all sexual sins being equal, and he said that wasn’t the case, but he didn’t elaborate. It’s royally messed up if rape is less of a sin than masturbation or gay sex, though.

  • Eve

    Who would even know the body of Jesus now? It would just be a skeleton, really, and all we’d be able to say was that it was male, from the middle east, around 30, and make guesses about his level of wealth from his diet. Besides which, he may have been buried in a mass grave with other criminals, as was the practice for those who were crucified. We may already have found his skeleton. It could be lying in a museum somewhere. There were loads of people called Joshua (Jesus is the greek version of that name) in ancient palestine.

    The fact is, the accounts of his burial in the gospels were most likely pious lies, made up to disguise the fact that as a condemned criminal, he was buried in ignomony. The women would never have been allowed in to anoint his body, never mind notice that ‘the tomb was empty’.

    • ajginn

      Well his genome would certainly look pretty weird.

      • Mike Hitchcock

        Yeah – and if my basic understanding of genetics is correct, ‘He’ would be female…

        • baal

          And maybe haploid. But since parthenogenesis in humans can’t happen*, it’s hard to say.

          *absent some biologists doing certain manipulations.

    • ZenDruid

      I thought the whole purpose of nailing someone to a tree was to give the vultures some fresh meat. The bones would fall in a heap at the foot of the tree, the jawbone first. Sabbath or no Sabbath, removing the body would not be allowed by the Romans. So yeah, pious lies.

    • Bdole

      By Schumacher’s reasoning, virtually the entire ancient world minus a few mummies and bog people all resurrected.

  • Dan Weeks

    On “providing” proof of miracles, Prof John Lennox tried to defend the plausibility of Jesus’ miracles as ‘not a suspension of the laws of physics, but the introduction of something new.’ This of course would be welcomed by any scientist or science fan; we LOVE new things that defy our understanding of how the universe works…provided there is actual evidence backing it up.

    But when we ask for evidence and the proponent simply repeats a story in which the event purportedly occurred, and then demands WE disprove it….well, it’s easy enough, but a monumental waste of our time. It’s a huge let down. I for one love getting my mind blown, and to make such a promise and then produce nothing to actually prove it is just…rude!

    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Exactly! Again, it’s the same tactic believers use when it comes to belief vs. non-belief in a god. Their attempted coup de grace is, “Oh, yeah? Well, if you’re so sure, then prove he DOESN’T exist!” I love that moronic defense because it shows they have no idea as onto whom the burden of proof falls. THEY came up with this silly god notion, and are therefore saddled with the onus of proof. The rest of us are merely saying, “OK. Show me.” They never can, which frustrates them to no end.

  • Tessa

    It would be nice if Schumacher, oh I dunno, actually refuted your refutation but something tells me that isn’t going to happen.

  • ajginn

    God, I’m embarrassed I ever bought into Christianity. There is absolutely no “there” there. Schumacher’s essay is an embarrassment. From his ‘lots of evidence is out there but I can’t be bothered to state any of it’ to his ‘Oh yeah, well find the body if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead!’, the whole thing is mind-numbingly moronic. The demise of Christianity continues full speed ahead…

  • TheNaturalist

    I would encourage everyone to post their comments on Christian Post as well. I posted the following:

    So atheists “reject the evidence for Christ’s resurrection and miracles because of their presuppositional commitment to naturalism” ? I would say that Christians too have a commitment to naturalism with respect to pretty much all supernaturalist claims made by other religions/new age groups. What about Joseph Smith’s vision of God that is the cornerstone of Mormonism? Rejected by Schumacher. All the supernatural claims in the Quran? Rejected by Schumacher.

    So the question for Christians and Schumacher is “Why believe these specific supernatural claims and reject all the others???” Once atheists hear a reasonable answer to this question, then they may respond with something other than “laughter and ridicule.”

  • Librepensadora

    One of the miracles attributed to Jesus is the healing of the man born blind. But when you think about it, Jesus said the most outrageous thing after he had done it. He said it was to glorify God and prove he was the Messiah. What about the young man’s family, who had to support and care for him his whole life? How terrible was it of God to inflict this pain on him and his parents? What of this child deprived of everything he would have seen and learned had he not been chosen by God as the way to show off?

    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Yeah, and just a bit egotistical on Jesus’s part, wouldn’t you say? That is, if the quote is anywhere near accurate because it must be borne in mind that the earliest accounts of Jesus’s presumed life were never written until decades after his supposed execution.

    • http://IAmDanMarshall.com/ Dan Marshall

      I just released an updated copy of Jefferson’s bible in modern English. In part two of the book, I further reduce the Jesus story, using Jefferson’s intention of removing supernatural elements while using my own definition of supernatural. I *much* prefer my version:

      Jesus passed by a man who had been blind since birth.

      “Rabbi,” asked his disciples, “who was it that sinned, this man or
      his parents, that he was born blind?”

      “Neither the man nor the parents,” replied Jesus. “He was born blind.”

      (I imagine this last line is delivered with a “duh” sort of tone.)

  • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

    Looks like Schumacher was sweating like Sarah Palin at an American history exam on this one. When a believer feels the need to vehemently defend his position and at the same time disqualify his detractors by quoting the bible, well, I got news for you. You’ve already lost the battle. The bible is not proof of anything nor a source of reason, but, conversely, the source of the problem. I find it amazing that these people don’t get this. All I can say is, I sure wouldn’t want them on my debate team.

    • EvolutionKills

      The Bible is the claim, not the proof.

      I’ve had to explain this to my father on multiple occasions, he still doesn’t get it…

  • eric

    Anyway, Schumacher can live in denial and pretend that atheists are having “no bearing” on the rise of the Nones and the decline of organized religion, but those trends are happening

    The really amusing thing about this exchange is that Schumacher being wrong only hurts Schumacher and his sect, not you or atheists in general. If his sect doesn’t think these social factors are a problem, they won’t seek to change them, and they’ll keep losing people. Its in his best interest to listen to what outsiders are saying about how his sect is perceived, whether that perception is right or wrong.

  • friendlyandskeptical

    There’s an excellent book (the Quest for God) written by the historian Paul Johnson that describes some of the most hilariously stupid (and very shocking) things that atheists have said over the centuries regarding religion and humanity. The difference between the believers that the unfriendly and highy entrenched Hemant (who was never a believer in Christianity) quotes and the atheists that Paul Johnson quotes is that these atheists represent the creme de la crème of atheism (Voltaire, Hume, etc…).
    Read all about it, unless you wish to remain uneducated, illiterate woefully ignorant about facts and history.
    Too many Christians are giving this guy too much credit. He is a parrot in a man’s world.

    • RobMcCune

      I’d better buy the book then, I’d hate to end up “uneducated, illiterate woefully ignorant about facts and history” like that guy friendlyandskeptical.

    • aaa

      Hemant (who was never a believer in Christianity)

      And this invalidates his points how?

      • Artor

        Not at all, especially since Hemant was indeed an evangelical Xian once, if I recall.

        • baal

          Hemant was raised a Jain. JT was an evangelical for a few years.

    • aaa

      Read all about it, unless you wish to remain uneducated, illiterate woefully ignorant about facts and history.

      Read it so you can become woefully ignorant about reality!

    • aaa

      There’s an excellent book (the Quest for God) written by the historian Paul Johnson that describes some of the most hilariously stupid (and very shocking) things that atheists have said over the centuries

      There’s a book (the bible) written by unknown persons that describes some of the most hilariously stupid (and very shocking) things that people have believed over the centuries.

    • vergil arma

      lol. paul johnson’s book is as confused and benighted as you seem to be. he is just for starters totally unaware of the biological/evolutionary bases of altruism and morality. you’ll have to do better.

  • Addrake

    “… and external Christian sources hostile to Christianity agree that Jesus performed acts that could not be naturally explained.”

    Where are these texts that Robin Schumacher is referencing here? Is he talking about modern texts or historical documents? Because everything I’ve read regarding that time period doesn’t seem to validate the new testament at all.

    • Ophis

      The reference in the article takes us here:
      http://www.slideshare.net/schumacr/the-essentials-of-apologetics-why-jesus-part-1 (Start on slide 28)

      So the texts he’s referring to are the ones written by people who were not even born when Jesus died.

      His statement is so misleading as to be dishonest. People unfamiliar with the sources are going to read this claim and think we have a bunch of writings from people who saw Jesus, or at least lived in the same place and time.

      Even the reference (his own slideshow) includes no dates or context for the sources he uses, so the casual reader would not realize that we have literally nothing from any non-Christian who was even born during Jesus’ lifetime.

  • trj

    I wonder if there’s some original source for the argument of “You can disprove Christianity by presenting the body of Jesus”. It’s just so mind-numbingly stupid, yet I’ve seen it used by many different apologists.

    So I’m thinking maybe they got it from somewhere (like other stupid arguments, such as “The second law of thermodynamics of the Moon disproves evolution”). Or maybe it’s just the case that many different people are able to think up the same crappy argument independent of each other.

    • just somebody

      They are simply trying to shift the burden of proof.

      It’s as if someone said, “I can fly. It’s up to you to prove that I can’t. Otherwise, you have to believe me.”

      The best answer to that “Show me the body of Jesus.” is “It’s much more likely his disciples took it and hid it 2000 years ago. The fact that it hasn’t been found proves more about their hiding ability than a resurrection.”

  • Free

    The changing tides you are seeing are simply the prophetic realities and plan of God. 2 Timothy says, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Many religious people or those having a form of godliness are counted among those leaving faith.

    Jesus himself said in Matt 16:4 “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” and he says in John 4: 48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

    What he is saying is that people will be looking for miracles but will not see them because they are unbelieving. The prerequisite to seeing and experiencing miracles is faith. He even challenged those that were in his race of Jews to see who he was and they were blind. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. You would not have me.”

    There is a difference between the religious, those that grow up in the church or are taught Christian values, than those how have seen Jesus personally for themselves. They operate by faith in Him and not under compulsion, fear, or necessarily duty. Since this is a smaller number of “believers” it goes without saying that many in the church will turn to “worldly” means and humanistic thought rather than to God.

    I have seen miracles or at least had unexplained experiences happen. I know Doctors who have as well. They happen still. However, they are not perceived by the unbelieving.

    Jesus also said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” His point is that even if there were proof, convincing proof, people would not believe because their hearts are hardened to truth. In other words, if Jesus came up to you, showed you a miracle, told you the future, and showed you his wounds and told his story, folks would not believe. That is exactly what happened while he walked the earth and ever since. This generation denies faith and His revelation. They will never be satisfied with Him alone and a vast number of folks are leaving Christianity which I believe is God’s will to separate those who truly know Him from those masquerading as believers but with unbelieving hearts.

    • Theodore (Tugs) Njáll McCowan

      “What he is saying is that people will be looking for miracles but will not see them because they are unbelieving. The prerequisite to seeing and experiencing miracles is faith”

      That isn’t really a miracle then if you expect miracles and have faith rather than applying reason and logic.

      “There is a difference between the religious, those that grow up in the church or are taught Christian values, than those how have seen Jesus personally for themselves. ”
      Exactly what are “Christian values”? When ever I ask I get no answer.

    • just somebody

      Free quoted from 2 Timothy: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud,
      abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love,
      unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of
      the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than
      lovers of God”

      Sounds like every human society at every point in time ever.

    • ajginn

      There is a difference between the religious, those that grow up in the church or are taught Christian values, than those how have seen Jesus personally for themselves.

      So you’ve actually seen Jesus? Or is this another one of those “burning in the bosom” types of seeing?

    • GCT

      The changing tides you are seeing are simply the prophetic realities and plan of God.

      Which have supposedly signaled the end times for about 2000 years now. Any day now….

      What he is saying is that people will be looking for miracles but will not see them because they are unbelieving.

      The sad fact of the matter is that you have it backwards. Most people are not unbelieving (at least in the US). Half the population believes in the Creationist account of Genesis instead of evolution, for instance, and you can’t very well claim that the other half are all unbelievers.

      The prerequisite to seeing and experiencing miracles is faith.

      This makes no sense. You’re either claiming that miracles occur because you believe they occur through faith (the lack of evidence to supplement your belief) or that they only occur through confirmation bias.

      There is a difference between the religious, those that grow up in the church or are taught Christian values, than those how have seen Jesus personally for themselves.

      We have no accounts of people who can verify having seen Jesus personally.

      Since this is a smaller number of “believers” it goes without saying that many in the church will turn to “worldly” means and humanistic thought rather than to God.

      This, again, makes no sense. If you’ve seen Jesus, then by what need have you of faith that Jesus exists? It is the people who have not seen Jesus and still believe that actually have faith. Remember the story of doubting Thomas.

      I have seen miracles or at least had unexplained experiences happen.

      Attributing an unexplained experience to a miracle in the absence of evidence that leads one to the conclusion of a miracle is called god of the gaps reasoning and is fallacious.

      I know Doctors who have as well.

      And?

      However, they are not perceived by the unbelieving.

      Why not? It can’t be faith or faithlessness because your faith does not change the world around you. You can have the utmost faith that jumping off a cliff and flapping your hands will allow you to fly, but it won’t change the laws of physics and actually allow you to fly. An occurrence is either a miracle or not regardless of whether one has faith or not.

      His point is that even if there were proof, convincing proof, people would not believe because their hearts are hardened to truth.

      Not only is this not true, but even if it were true it would be god’s fault.

      In other words, if Jesus came up to you, showed you a miracle, told you the future, and showed you his wounds and told his story, folks would not believe. That is exactly what happened while he walked the earth and ever since.

      Except you have no evidence that it happened at all, and it certainly has not happened to anyone alive today.

      This generation denies faith and His revelation.

      More and more people are denying faith, and for good reason.

      They will never be satisfied with Him alone and a vast number of folks are leaving Christianity which I believe is God’s will to separate those who truly know Him from those masquerading as believers but with unbelieving hearts.

      IOW, god is making people who disbelieve in him, then causing them to leave so that he can figure out which people don’t actually believe in him? I love how god’s plans are always so circular and inane. To make matters worse, if god is creating people who are skeptics and then getting mad at them for being skeptics and burning them in hell for eternity…well, I don’t know of anyone that would think that that’s at all moral. You can’t very well tell your god not to get on the couch, place the dog on the couch, and then get mad at the dog for disobeying your orders to be on the couch (thank you “God is a D*ck” for that example that I love to use).

  • ShoeUnited

    But Hemant, I can call you Hemant right? We’re friends here.

    Hemant, why fight these people? These are EXACTLY the kinds of people that are driving people away from the church. I say Robin Schumacher will do more for atheism than any well reasoned approach could ever hope for!

    Think about it, people like him distort truths and slander where they see fit and feel uncomfortable. Then the people they are preaching to will go and try to cause a riot where they think these lies come from. Those people in turn will start learning outside the scope of who they take their daily crap from. Eventually leading to more of an exodus.

    You want more free thinkers? We need more windbags bible thumping in an open society! The one thing that worries me is that Christians will actually wake up to the news that less people are god fearing and figure out a new way to cow the masses.

    I say we let this snowball roll downhill a while longer, and let these kinds of people get spotlights on TV.

    In the end, it can only help reason.

  • UWIR

    This guy has an article about “hatetheists”, justifying his contemptuous attitude towards atheists (oh, but only towards “some” atheists!) the he links to in Part 1. Clearly he’s not interested in a respectful debate.

  • Rain

    Christianity has never hidden in a bubble; unlike other faiths, it has opened itself up to scrutiny and been forever out in front engaging other worldviews (including atheism) in dialog since the beginning.

    Says the ignorant fundy creationist pseudo-intellectual. How hilarious.

  • YoRpFiSh

    A great read! Who doesn’t love the easy shredding of a paper thin apologist argument?!

  • James

    Mark Driscoll is in no way anti-woman. How exactly did you come to that ridiculous conclusion?

    • Artor

      Lol! That’s funny.

  • Cafeeine

    Regarding mr. Schumacher’s request that atheists produce Jesus’ dead body, I’m surprised that he hasn’t noticed how similar revelations (like Joseph Smith being a scammer and fraudster) has had to other religions. Putting aside the insane double standard presented here, lets see what would likely happen is some atheist discovered the deceased remains of Jesus, verifiable beyond a reasonable doubt:

    -Educated Christians will acknowledge the fact. A small number of them will rethink their position and turn to deism or atheism. The vast majority will conclude that this discovery simply means that Jesus’ resurrection was either spiritual, not physical, or that what was found was the human remains, not the resurrected, perfect body that can survive outside of time and space, never mind a breathable atmosphere. They will blame the atheists’ for having a naive understanding of the resurrection, reiterate Kalam, and proclaim that even now atheists still haven’t proven God doesn’t exist, so they still fail.

    -Moderate Christians will follow suit, seeing as the distinction between a Jesus that was physically resurrected and one that was spiritually resurrected is too high-minded for them anyways. Add to that, most preachers will quietly ignore the theological conundrum and trumpet that there is incontrovertible proof of Jesus’ existence and those evil atheists STILL don’t believe he was god! What more do they need?! This will lead the flock to become even more entrenched in the church.

    -The more fundamentalist factions will simply ignore the finding, the way they do with most science that doesn’t enthusiastically corroborate their interpretation of the Bible. Ken Ham would declare the remains were fakes, placed on earth by Satan, which obviously corroborates his existence, which proves the Bible true, provided you read it with your Bible glasses on.

    50 years later, no one outside a seminary or theological studies class will remember the controversy.

    • EvolutionKills

      History is a series of religions underestimating human tenacity.

      In ancient history, the gods lived atop mountains. Then we climbed those mountains and found no gods there. By then the gods had moved into the sky. Then we conquered flight, and we found no gods there. By then gods had been moved beyond time and space. What will happen when we conquer time and space? The gods will simply move to another dimension, or another universe; the gods will forever be just out of reach. That should tell us all something…

  • Bob Carlson

    What proof are we looking for? How about proof that isn’t hearsay. Hell, get someone to perform those miracles now and I’ll accept that, too.

    There isn’t even convincing evidence that Jesus ever existed. Without evidence of that, how can there be any evidence that he performed miracles?

  • mac

    “”The fact is, both the New Testament and external Christian sources hostile to Christianity agree that Jesus performed acts that could not be naturally explained.”"

    “Yeah, as far as they knew. Maybe, just maybe, they missed out on legitimate explanations for his “miracles” because they didn’t even think to look for them.”

    Why are you conceding his point? His assertion is pure BS. No one outside of the Bible stories, certainly none which are ‘hostile to christers’, and certainly none who were around in the area and time where this man-god was supposed to have lived have made that claim.

  • Addressingtheherd

    Finally, something faker than big-time wrestling. Never thought it was possible.

    The same old script: Hemant challenges literal Christianity by questioning the factual accuracy of religious myth, which is no revelation to anyone who knows what “myth” means. Then a fundamentalist sap laps up the bait, gives Hemant precisely what he fished for, and the Christianity=fundamentalism game goes on.

    This is more staged than Pawn Stars! No, wait–I take that back. NOTHING is more staged than Pawn Stars.

    • GCT

      Well, the important thing is that you’ve found a way to feel superior to both.

      • baal

        Addressigntheherd is the same troll who be-shatt the blog yesterday. I suggest flagging it and otherwise not giving it the satisfaction of another spam fest.

        • GCT

          But…but…it gave me an excuse to paraphrase that XKCD cartoon.

  • J.R. Robbins

    This Schumacher guy writes like Lee Strobel. He uses lots of great adjectives in his lies. Such as: There are very good apologetic arguments for God that contain compelling evidence and solid reason. Actually, no there are not.

  • raerants

    people become Christians only through the grace of the sovereign God who awakens their hearts

    Do these people even listen to themselves? Because if they truly believed this, then they would have no problem with non-Christians, because obviously God doesn’t want them to be Christian. Unless we’re all just characters in a cosmic game of The Sims, and God is playing Let’s You and Him Fight.

  • RJ (TO)

    In John 14:12 Jesus says those that believe in him will not only do works as great as what he’s done, but GREATER. (Although how much greater than raising someone from the dead can you do?)

    Therefore, where are all the miracles in the current age? Where’s the water-walking? The giving of sight to the blind? The loaf and fish multiplying? The raising from the dead? Either Jesus was lying, or there really are no true believers.


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