Jesus, Sherlock Holmes, and Hercules

Internet apologists for mythicism are always ready to point to Sherlock Holmes and Batman and say “look, here we have stories, so these prove the existence of fictional detectives and comic book heroes, don’t they?”

Can they not see that this is absolute silliness, that one could respond with the same trite comeback about anyone or anything? What if someone compares the case of the Hound of the Baskervilles to the Holocaust? Does that somehow prove the latter did not happen?

No historian thinks that the mere existence of stories about someone proves their existence. And so why do mythicists think this is a meaningful retort? My guess is that, when they were previously fundamentalists, they believed the Bible in a gullible fashion, and so they are addressing their own earlier foolish selves, not realizing that professional historians are not gullible in the same way they had been.

Mythicists mention other figures in a similar fashion, comparing Jesus with Hercules, William Tell, and Robin Hood. But merely mentioning two names in the same sentence does not show them to be similar. One could compare Robin Hood to George Washington, or William Tell to Socrates, or any other two people one wishes. But that proves nothing. What would need to be shown is that the two figures, and the evidence for them, is actually comparable.

Can mythicists not see how ridiculous they look when they offer these comebacks as though they were making a serious point?

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  • jh

    But the professional historians do not believe that Caesar was born of a god or that a lady of the lake existed. In the ancient times, they were willing to say all sorts of bullshit including stories of demigods and ascending into the heavens. I can look at constellations and tell you the story of how Orion came to be placed in the heavens. I can tell you how Mohammed ascended to heaven.

    If we strip all the stories out, remove the contradictions, we are left with the possibility that a Jesus existed. But that’s it. We strip away the “I cannot tell a lie” (George Washington chopping down a cherry tree) myths… which would include Jesus’ demigod status. The professional historian will strip away the supernatural.

    In contrast – the christian must believe some of these elements. And when they add the fictional and claim that the holy bible accounts are historically accurate, the former believer/atheist/believer of another faith has no other recourse but to point out the flaws.

    The question is – why don’t you believe that Orion was raised to the heavens? Wasn’t Jesus raised in a similar fashion? Why don’t you believe that Osiris came back from the dead? Wasn’t Jesus reputed to come back from the dead? Why is the Jesus story true for you when the other stories are considered myth? Why don’t you believe that Mohammed ascended to heaven? (A few billion living practitioners of Islam genuinely believe this but no christian believes this.)

    I’m sure that a Joshua person lived in those times. (the ancient equivalent of the Jesus name.) Just like a bunch of Mohammeds lived during the time of Mohammed. Just like I can point out a number of Michaels who live in this day and time. But what I can’t find is a demigod by the name of Jesus, who did such miraculous things. I cannot find independent stories that corroborate the stories of the Bible. Instead, I see mediocre fiction writing that I could just as easily see on a television show. I see batman or superman or avengers.

    The thing is – the evidence is comparable. Professional historians strip away the supernatural elements. And what you have is a random street preacher by the name of Jesus, (or a movement that claims this random street preacher said what he said) but that’s it. There is little corroborating evidence except some highly dubious references that may or may not confirm that somebody by a name as popular as Jesus existed.

    • Erp

      But did a human Joshua/Yeshua/Jesus live (and die) whose followers founded what was to become Christianity. This is what historians think they have enough evidence for.

      Anyone arguing against that has to provide an alternative narrative that makes better sense of the evidence (including the gospels, the letters, etc.). From what I’ve read by the mythicists, they fail.

      • WingedBeast

        Richard Carrier presents a possibility in which the early Christians were more Gnostic than they were by the time of the Council of Nicea.

        It starts out with a more Gnostic understanding, in which the story told is a parable about something happening in a different, more spiritual realm, the main information source being “visions” (what we would call hallucinations today).

        Hallucinations don’t require what we tend to think of, in terms of drugs or schizophrenia. Under the right conditions, which can include those caused by fasting or extended meditation, we can all hallucinate and those hallucinations are heavily influenced by what we already believe and our culture. Given a group that is more accepting of treating those as sources of information, given a narrative already in place, hallucinations can easily fill out a narrative.

        Remember that even Paul’s only interaction with Jesus in the bible is one of these kinds of visions.

        At a later point, you can easily see how some, within the faith, take the narrative in a more concrete sense, the same way people treat Revelation as a prediction of the future rather than a commentary on what was, at the time, the present. The reasons flowing from anything from “this is what I’ve always heard” to a political desire to control legitimate narrative “you see, we have a line of teaching directly to the source, they only have claims of visions.”

        That kind of evolution of story is common… everywhere. George Washington chopping down the Cherry Tree was an invention from a time when George Washington still lived. Today, there are people claiming that George Washington intended for the US to be founded upon Christian principles.

        None of this is to say that it’s necessarily the case that Jesus did not exist at all. It is to say that the amount of change that a narrative can undergo in a very short time indeed makes that entirely possible as well as entirely possible that the actual messages and morals presented by a real person had little to nothing to do with what’s shown in the bible.

        And, the letters… no letters by Jesus himself, so those are evidence that Christians existed, not that Jesus existed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I would encourage you to read my articles in The Bible and Interpretation, as well as my blog posts on this site, addresing the claims of Richard Carrier.

        • Erp

          Paul however interacted with Jesus’s brothers especially James who seems to have been pushed to the side by later accounts.

          Narratives do change, but, I’m inclined to see the evidence as pointing to the more mundane being made more supernatural rather than vice versa. Mark is considered to be the earliest extant gospel by most scholars yet has the most human Jesus.

  • Callie_K

    I’m puzzled how you’ve missed the point on this one.

    A statement that “Jesus = Sherlock Holmes = Hercules” is an actual claim that the evidence for Jesus is specifically comparable to the evidence for these other two characters, a claim that no evidence for the character exists outside the character’s popular and superhero’esque canon.

    Since the statement itself is making the claim that the evidence is comparable and that claim is not baseless, it’s nonsense to say that you can compare it to a claim involving George Washington, someone we have diverse documentation for.

    Obviously the argument doesn’t end at claiming there’s no more evidence for Jesus than for Sherlock Holmes, but the comparison is perfectly appropriate.

    (Sherlock Holmes even returned from the dead, although he did not ascend into Heaven.)

  • WingedBeast

    “And so why do mythicists think this is a meaningful retort?”

    Outside of the bible, do you have any evidence that Jesus actually existed?

    Exactly as much as you have for the existence of Herculese, I imagine.

    • arcseconds

      So… if we put aside all the texts that attest to the existence of someone, do we have any evidence left for their existence?

      Is this some kind of ‘tree falling in the wood’ koan, or something?

      • WingedBeast

        “all the texts”? Did I specify all the texts ever? No, I specified only the bible. And, the texts in there that attest to the existence of Jesus are only those that were written decades after the alleged crucifixion at the earliest, with some written based on that earliest one rather than anything else, and that earliest written based on oral tradition.

        You’re admitting is that the only texts that attest to the existence of Jesus are in the bible. If those were reliable texts of actual events, you might be onto something. But, they aren’t.

        So, what do you have to support the existence of Jesus that you don’t have to support the existence of Hercules?

        • arcseconds

          The (Christian) Bible is not a single text, but gathered together some of the earliest texts that spoke in detail about Jesus, and now they are the only extant texts from that time.

          So by ruling out the Bible, you actually are ruling out the major textual evidence.

          What is left of Socrates if we rule out the dialogues of Plato, of Xenophon, and the play by Aristophanes?

          These are not reliable texts either. In fact, no-one thinks they were even intended as history or biography for the most part.

          But nevertheless, scholars think they can use them to say something about the historical Socrates. That he existed, for a start.

          You must surely be aware that historians, especially historians of the ancient period, don’t have the luxury of finding 100% reliable texts and believing them and rejecting all unreliable ones. Because that would leave no texts, and therefore no history.

          • WingedBeast

            “So by ruling out the Bible, you actually are ruling out the major textual evidence.”

            In the same way that I might be ruling out major textual evidence of Achillies by doubting that the Illiad or the Anead accurately identify the offspring of the goddess of love?

            “What is left of Socrates if we rule out the dialogues of Plato, of Xenophon, and the play by Aristophanes?”

            I’ll reword that to help explain my response. “What is left of the figure we are told slept only one hour a day, outside, started European philosophy as we know it by just asking questions, was sentenced to death for just asking questions in philosophical discussions, and was called the wisest man by the oracle at Delphi?”

            To answer that question, you have what we have with Jesus, a history that doesn’t need him to be non-fictional at all in order for history to have happened as we know it.

            “These are not reliable texts either. In fact, no-one thinks they were even intended as history or biography for the most part.”

            And, it’s worthy of note that there is doubt as to whether or not the gospels were intended as factually accurate history or biography. Jesus, in the gospels, identifies the reason he uses parable as a means of editing out those who don’t understand and leaving in only those who get the meaning behind, rather than just the surface. Early Christians included Gnostics who took that understanding of the story of Jesus, not as something that actually happened on earth but as something that happened in another realm.

            “But nevertheless, scholars think they can use them to say something about the historical Socrates. That he existed, for a start.”

            Some do. Mainly, they’re usable to know that there were stories about a character called Socrates.

            “You must surely be aware that historians, especially historians of the ancient period, don’t have the luxury of finding 100% reliable texts and believing them and rejecting all unreliable ones. Because that would leave no texts, and therefore no history.”

            And, that’s a reason why they look outside the text for confirmation of details, particularly from contemporaneous sources. Note: there are no contemporaneous sources.

            For things that naturally would have Romans recording events, such as an earthquake at his execution and the mass resurrection of Jewish Saints, there are no records. Heck, there are also records challenging the bible’s stories, records that indicate that Crucifixion victims were not allowed tombs to leave empty in the first place, records that indicate Pontius Pilate would not have asked a crowd of Jews to choose who to let free, etc.

            All of this goes to say that, were I a historian looking at this text, I could use it in corroboration with others to verify that such a nation as Rome existed. I might even verify that Pontius Pilate existed, or at least was a character of note enough to be referenced by more than one writer.

            In fact, I could even use this as a means of charting Christianity’s development from a primarily Jewish sect to a Gentile sect with the antisemitism in the stories.

            But, what you have not provided, not one bit, is anything that you have for Jesus’s existence that you don’t have for Hercules.

          • arcseconds

            Are you saying that there’s a significant doubt as to the existence of Socrates? If so, could you find me, I don’t know, five respectable scholars who hold this position?

            (For that matter, you might want to look into the number of respectable scholars that defend the position that Jesus didn’t exist. It’s not a very large number. )

            Scholars frequently don’t have the luxury of comparing with other evidence. Only in a few cases can the existence of individuals be confirmed by non-textual evidence, and these are usually rulers.

            In fact, with Jesus they aren’t too badly off, as there are at least three largely independent early sources: Paul, Mark and ‘Q’.

            Even when scholars only have just one unreliable source, they don’t just go ‘well, there’s nothing whatsoever that can tell us about anything at all here’. Instead, they try to find whatever they can.

            Consider the case of the Rg Veda, for example. No serious scholar considers this to be a reliable text. It is also the only extant text that testifies to anything about the early history of the ‘Indic’ people. But scholars haven’t taken the view that everything in it is fictional, or that we need to be completely agnostic about what’s in there. They think that the rituals were real enough, for example, and the Aryans knew about towns but didn’t seem to dwell in them themselves, and that chatiot races were very important. And so they think they can tell all sorts of things about the history and culture of this people. Despite the fact there is only one unreliable text without much in the way of external corroboration.

            What I am pointing out here, is that your grounds for scepticism about Jesus are just the grounds for scepticism about pratically all of ancient history. Scholars do not actually do history in the way in which you seem to be suggesting.

          • WingedBeast

            “Are you saying that there’s a significant doubt as to the existence of Socrates?”

            I’m saying that our current understanding of Ancient Greek history is not impacted by Socrates having been a fictional creation of Plato or by him having been a real person.

            Please try to read what I write.

            “In fact, with Jesus they aren’t too badly off, as there are at least three largely independent early sources: Paul, Mark and ‘Q’.”

            Paul is a source that Christians existed and that he had a vision. Mark, being that it is a collection of an oral tradition not attributed to the Mark in the Gospels, is is a source that Christians existed and that a story exists.

            You’ll have to be a bit more specific on who is “Q”.

            “And so they think they can tell all sorts of things about the history and culture of this people. ”

            Indeed, and the Gospels can be used to tell all sorts of thing about the early Christians and their culture. But, that there was an actual Jesus isn’t as certain as you like to think.

            As I noted above, I’m not stating that Jesus didn’t exist. I am stating that, from the perspective of the evidence, not existing and existing both fit what we no of the history of the time.

            “Shock! Horror! Some things that are written down aren’t true!

            No scholar of ancient history has ever considered this possibility before!”

            Yes, yes, your sarcasm is duly noted just as is your capacity to miss the point. Your *entire* evidence isn’t the multiple lines of evidence that supports evolution, it’s one single line, that you interpret as multiple lines. You have that the story was told and that’s it.

            You don’t, as others have argued, have the 500 witnesses to the resurrection that Paul claims existed but did not name. You don’t have, as others have argued, an eye-witness account. You don’t even have any corroboration of Jesus chasing out the money changers with a whip (something that could easily have been recorded by Roman or Jewish authorities of the time).

            What you have is, effectively, one story at one point in time decades after the alleged fact, knowing that stories are subject to change within very short periods of time, *and* with Paul using a decidedly more Gnostic source of information. Given 2000 years and a loss of records, would you not have the same to speak for Sherlock Holmes?

          • Pseudonym

            Paul is a source that Christians existed and that he had a vision.

            Paul is a source that Jesus had a brother named James who was still alive at the time of writing. Paul claimed to have met him in a letter to people whom, it seems clear, knew who James was.

            Josephus is an independent source that Jesus had a brother named James, and fills in some detail of his run-ins with the authorities. Unlike the Testimonium Flavianum, there is no evidence that this section has been edited by later writers.

            So right there, we have far better evidence (eyewitness testimony!) for Jesus having a real-life flesh-and-blood close relative than we do for Pythagoras or Aesop having existed at all.

            Of course, this indicates nothing more than “he had a brother”. Nonetheless, this makes a Carrier-like theory implausible. You would have to explain why “brother” means something other than “brother” in two independent texts.

            Interestingly, the sort of Christian who believes in the perpetual virginity of Mary has almost exactly the same problem, but that’s a topic for another day…

          • WingedBeast

            “Josephus is an independent source that Jesus had a brother named James, and fills in some detail of his run-ins with the authorities.”

            Josephus commented on the beliefs of Christians. That’s not a source that Jesus had a brother called James. That’s a source that Christianity made such a claim.

            “Interestingly, the sort of Christian who believes in the perpetual virginity of Mary has almost exactly the same problem, but that’s a topic for another day…”

            Not too much of a problem, being that there was also a tradition, in Rome, of having the children of gods be twinned with the children of men. Some iterations of the Hercules stories had it that Hercules had a fully mortal twin brother, for instance.

            The notion of having a brother does make for something, I’ll admit that much.

          • Pseudonym

            “Josephus commented on the beliefs of Christians.”

            Not in 20.9.1, he didn’t! This chapter is all about the tenure of Albinus when he was procurator and his political clashes with Agrippa.

            Josephus tells the story of the execution of James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ”, which was an important event due to its political repercussions, leading to Ananus being ousted as high priest and being replaced by “Jesus, the son of Damneus”. That explains the “who was called Christ” bit: Josephus was trying to keep the two Jesus’ straight.

            (Incidentally, I also didn’t mention Papias, which is another source for James which is very close to contemporary.)

            The notion of having a brother does make for something, I’ll admit that much.

            Yeah, exactly. I’m no historian, but without some evidence which would suggest otherwise, by far the simplest explanation is that Jesus had a brother.

            This isn’t even an extraordinary claim, given that lots of people have brothers. I have two of them myself.

          • WingedBeast

            Thank you for providing something specific.

            My position was as someone who knows how readily stories change without anybody actively changing them, to the point that such a change from fiction to being considered non-fiction, all relatively quickly and how easily false-narratives can solidify. So, that kind of change isn’t impossible.

            The question of whether or not such a Jesus-called-Christ’s speech and thinking at all resembles the one in the bible… another question.

          • arcseconds

            Your stated position in your first post was someone who was prepared to dismiss the major textual evidence and in order to conclude that Jesus has a similar level of evidence to Hercules.

            I’m glad to see you’ve apparently changed your mind about this, but I think it’s important for you to realise that you didn’t come here asking what the evidence was.

            You came in here sure that you could dismiss the entire New Testament, and sure that the remaining evidence wouldn’t amount to anything.

            (as a matter of fact, the remaining evidence amounts to little enough.)

            And you were sure about this on the basis of knowing scarcely anything about the topic.

          • WingedBeast

            “Your stated position in your first post was someone who was prepared to dismiss the major textual evidence and in order to conclude that Jesus has a similar level of evidence to Hercules.”

            The reason I stopped responding to your argument was that your argument mirrored another argument I had, this one from someone telling me that the gospels were a reliable historical record (including of the crucifixion, the empty tomb, the post-resurrection witnesses). It was an argument wherein much of the other person’s case was a repetition of the scholarly agreement and a repetition of how ignorant I was not to share his beliefs regarding the reliability of the record of the crucifixion and resurrection.

            So, I probably wasn’t in a receptive mode for that particular argument.

          • arcseconds

            OK :-)

            The person you were talking to is misrepresenting what the consensus is regarding what the historical consensus is, of course.

            (Either that, or when they say ‘scholars’ they really mean ‘apologists’.)

            The historical consensus includes the crucifixion as one of the more secure items.

            But it does not include the resurrection.

            (It doesn’t stop some people with relevant credentials from saying things like this anyway, unfortunately, but most do not attempt to assert this as historical fact in scholarly venues. )

          • WingedBeast

            It was in the comments of a youtube video with a debate with William Lane Craig, who had expressly refused to debate the reliability of the gospels, only to base his entire argument on them.

            The constant repetition of all the scholars agreeing without even a slight reference to any of the reasoning behind that agreement was… not… helpful.

          • arcseconds

            It isn’t transparently obvious (unless you’ve already got some familiarity with the area already) who is really taken seriously in academic biblical scholarship, unfortunately.

            William Lane Craig has an impressive-looking curriculum vitae at first glance, and lots of people love him to bits. But doesn’t have relevant qualifications, a relevant position, and he doesn’t publish his apologetic history in relevant channels — his Ph.d. is in philosophy, he holds a chair in philosophy at an evangelical theology school, and he published his historical works with Edwin Mellen Press, hardly a well-regarded secular academic press.

            So I don’t think he should be regarded as anything other than an apologist, and as far as I know he is not regarded as anything other than an apologist by scholars with relevant qualifications, relevant positions, and who publish in appropriate scholarly venues.

            (His Ph.D. is from the University of Birmingham (the English one) which is a well-regarded institution, and he does have a book that he edited on the philosophy of time published by a reputed publisher, so maybe his philosophy’s OK… although philosophy of religion, which WLC is principally known for, is often regarded as a bit of an embarrassment by the rest of academic philosophy.)

            You should look into Bart Ehrman.. I think you’d like him, he’s an atheist (well, OK, an agnostic, but he practically admits he’s splitting hairs on that self-identification), and plenty iconoclastic, and doesn’t pull his punches.

          • WingedBeast

            Part of my point, though, is that points like “all the scholars agree” and “the bible is a few different sources” without specific details, like what Pseudonym gave, is only going to harken back to those kinds of easy-to-claim claims.

          • arcseconds

            You didn’t ask ‘what is the evidence for Jesus?’. Had you asked that, we would have had a different conversation, one that probably would have looked a lot more like the conversation you had with Pseudonym.

            The specific evidence is in the Bible, which you had already taken off the table.

            It seemed to me that before we could discuss that specific evidence, we would have to get the Bible back on the table.

            Apparently I was wrong about this, because you seem to have accepted Pseudonym’s argument, but I must admit I don’t really understand this.

            It seems I should have just ignored your worries about the Bible and went straight to the evidence?

          • WingedBeast

            I, in fact, repeatedly asked what you have for Jesus that you didn’t have for Hercules.

            If you want the bible put back on the table, a detail that does something other than just point out that the story it tells existed would have been valuable.

          • arcseconds

            Outside of the bible, do you have any evidence that Jesus actually existed?

            Exactly as much as you have for the existence of Herculese, I imagine.

            You’re admitting is that the only texts that attest to the existence of Jesus are in the bible. If those were reliable texts of actual events, you might be onto something. But, they aren’t.

            So, what do you have to support the existence of Jesus that you don’t have to support the existence of Hercules?

            But, what you have not provided, not one bit, is anything that you have for Jesus’s existence that you don’t have for Hercules.

            Your first reference to Hercules was an assertion, not a question, after ruling the Bible out.

            The second was indeed a question, but again in a context immediately following continuing to rule the bible out.

            The third was again an assertion (about how much evidence I had provided) at the end of a long comment that was also continuing to rule the Bible out. And of course I hadn’t provided any evidence! I was still working on trying to get the source of the evidence admissible!

            So you asked exactly once. And you did not ask in a manner in which suggested that you had an open mind about the question: you were very sure that there was no good evidence, and very sure that the Bible should not be appealed to.

            At no point was your objection to the Bible that it didn’t contain specific enough information. It was always that it was unreliable, contained information that was surely false, written decades after the fact, and comparable to myths like the Iliad. You were also keen on treating it like a single source.

            So what you are saying is that I should have not wasted my time discussing your stated objections to paying any attention to the Bible.

            Apparently you are correct in this.

            But that does make life difficult for me. How am I to tell what arguments of yours to ignore and what to take seriously?

          • arcseconds

            It is the consensus opinion of practically all scholars with relevant expertise and relevant positions that Jesus existed.

            The number of exceptions can be counted on one hand, and that’s a generous estimate.

            You clearly know less about this matter than I do, because you’re clearly ignorant of the scholarly argument, to say nothing of what Paul has to say about Jesus and what the sources actually are, having apparently never even heard of Q.

            When a creationist blunders into an evolutionary scientist’s blog and say “the evidence for evolution is less than you think!” and yet clearly know nothing about what the evidence actually is, suggest that evolutionary scientists are credulously accepting anything that supports a preconceived position, and just repeat creationists talking points, what do you normally think of them?

            I sometimes try to get them to present a two-paragraph summary of the argument for evolution, just to see if they’re actually aware of what they’re arguing against.

            Perhaps that would be a good exercise for you.

            I’ve never seen a creationist able to do this, but I’m sure you can do better!

          • arcseconds

            For things that naturally would have Romans recording events, such as an earthquake at his execution and the mass resurrection of Jewish Saints, there are no records

            Shock! Horror! Some things that are written down aren’t true!

            No scholar of ancient history has ever considered this possibility before!

            Before we go on, maybe you’d like to consider how much you are sounding like a creationist: you don’t appear to be aware of how ancient history is generally conducted, of how biblical history in particular is conducted, or the arguments for Jesus’s existence, and you’re bringing up total non-problems as though they were show-stoppers.

            Instead, you’re insisting on points of methodology that strike you as good from your armchair. But only with regard to a particular text and a particular individual that you’ve got a beef with.

            And you’re acting as though this is all novel, but we’ve heard it all before.

            C’mon, WingedBeast, you know better than this!

    • RbtRgus

      True dat, yo!!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Don’t miss Jonathan Bernier’s blog post in response to this one:

    http://criticalrealismandthenewtestament.blogspot.com/2016/02/fiction-and-history.html

  • jh

    Yet, there is a substantial portion of american Christians who believe that there was a literal Adam, a literal Eve, a literal Noah, a literal flood, a literal Garden, a literal Exodus… when somebody points out a fictional character, they are merely refusing to treat a holy text character as somehow special. (Yes – you might want to talk to Ken Ham about his atrocious amusement park that he considers real history. Or the YEC Answers in Genesis nonsense.)

    Cultural Christians are fine in my book. They know that they’re beliefs may not be true so they don’t feel as if they have some holy mission to force “God’s” beliefs on other people. They’re willing to be flexible because they don’t take the Bible that seriously or literally.

    If you say that Jesus existed.. but you remove the extraordinary/supernatural elements, I would have no problem. It’s no difference from historians stripping the supernatural elements from Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar or a King Arthur. (I’m sure that a king named Arthur existed.. but Camelot, witches, magicians, lady of lake .. that’s a little unrealistic, don’t you think?) But we do have a conflict when the person claims that a Jesus existed who was the literal son of God (a demigod), who walked on water, turned water into wine, raised the dead, came back from the dead, floated off into the sky, healed numerous sick people… Strip all the supernatural elements and I would have no problem agreeing that “yeah, there was probably a street preacher named Jesus (or Joshua) who was able to impress a few people enough to be immortalized.”

    As for the Holocaust… it isn’t just a claim in a book, or a movie or a video. We have living witnesses, we have bones, we have non-partisan observers, we have the gas chambers.. in other words, we have a plethora of evidence to confirm that the Holocaust did in fact occur.

    In the case of your Jesus, as described in your Holy Book, no similar evidence exists.
    Show me the astrological event that led kings/wisemen to Jesus. (Surely numerous people would have observed and recorded this strange astrological phenomenon that is often used with other leaders to show how special they are.)

    Show me the report of the massacre in Bethlehem.
    Even if it was a small event, there would have been gossip about this. There might have been a revolt or some reaction. There might have been a political enemy that wanted to capitalize on this brutality.

    Show me the order for a census, any census, that would require the people to go to their birthplaces.
    The Romans kept good records. I’m not asking for the specific census that is related in the Bible. I’m asking for any census that asked for something as absurd as going to your birthplace to get counted.

    Show me a reference to an earthquake and a solar event that corresponds to the alleged events that occurred during your alleged demi-gods Crucifixion.

    Again.. the people of that time would have made note of this. They would have sought explanations for these weird events. The Jews of that time would have been concerned about the veil in the temple being ripped. That’s just normal human behavior and yet… all we have is silence. Not even a whisper of corroborating evidence to justify these claims.

    Show me the reports of the walking dead that occurred after the resurrection (and sorry, this would have been huge news. Even the Romans and Greeks would have heard of this within 1 year minimum and reported/gossiped about it).

    Yeah – a couple of hundred people who came back from the dead and we get silence? People travel to see two-headed snakes but they wouldn’t be interested in a large group of people who came back from the dead? Wouldn’t the people of that time want to know what happens after we die?

    But if we are going to ignore that, we might as well believe that Thor exists and Marduk exists, and Osiris exists. And I’m sure that there were people that these characters are based on. But to say that Osiris actually existed and is/was a god… you’re really pushing it.

    Bottom line – before railing at mythicists who compare Jesus with spider-man (my personal favorite)… make sure that you explicitly state that you don’t believe that the Bible is historically accurate about it’s god claims concerning Jesus. Make a point to say that Christians who believe that these claims are ignorant. After all, as long as your not making a claim of a demigod named Jesus, I doubt a mythicist will come by for a quick retort about Spiderman

    (Yes, on the Friendly Atheist, a Christian would routinely make claims about the veracity of the bible, the godhood of Jesus because… some of the places and characters listed in the Bible were real. Can you imagine how annoying it is to debunk that claim again… and again… and again?)

    • psriter

      If you say that Jesus existed.. but you remove the extraordinary/supernatural elements, I would have no problem. It’s no difference from historians stripping the supernatural elements from Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar or a King Arthur.

      That’s what this blog is doing.

      (I’m sure that a king named Arthur existed.. but Camelot, witches, magicians, lady of lake .. that’s a little unrealistic, don’t you think?)

      Historians are unsure about King Arthur existing. (Of course, nobody thinks the fantastic parts of the story are historical.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      This is a strange comment, as it focuses on the things that historians judge ahistorical, just as they judge similar details in texts about other ancient people ahistorical, but in the case of Jesus this is being applied in a manner that rejects mainstream historical methods.

      Mythicists make retorts about Spiderman even when I have been explicit and unambiguous that I am talking about the historical Jesus, not a demigod or anything else involving the supernatural.