Bertrand Russell’s “Why I am Not A Christian”

Actor Terrance Hardiman reads Bertrand Russell’s 1927 essay/lecture, “Why I Am Not a Christian,”

(via Open Culture, who add this to their free audio collection.

The full text was published and is available here. I think my favorite part is the ending, when Russell makes his appeal for a type of intellectual integrity. If you’d like, it’s “positive atheism” at it’s most basic:

The whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men. It needs a fearless outlook and free intelligence. It needs hope for the future, not looking back all the time toward a past that is dead, which we trust will be far surpassed by the future that our intelligence can create.

  • John C

    Hmm, perhaps Bert should have taken a cue from one of his more enlightened peers, ;)

    ‘We are still occupied with our return to Him who is ‘the Beginning’, the true source of our being. The child taken up into Christ’s arms signifies the return of man to the very site of his creation, to the place where in his Wisdom the Father conceived the design of our common humanity, that secret place of filial being which is in the Only-begotten Son’.

    ~L.S. Thornton (1884-1960)

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      Huh, I would have said the opposite. It’s too bad Russell’s colleagues couldn’t have taken more cues from him. Think how much more progress we’d have made if they’d all joined together in rejecting irrationality and the concept of sin!

    • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

      You are going to have to demonstrate, with evidence (not bible quotes) that we are still occupied with our return to him; who this him is; why that him is ‘the beginning’; why that beginning is the true source of our being; who this ‘Christ’ is; whether this Christ ever existed; whether it it is true that a child taken into Christ’s arms signifies the return of man to the very site of his creation; where this site of creation was; whether man was created and not the cumulative result of natural processes; who created man; whether this proposed creator was the same him posited earlier; whether this father is actually wise; whether this father exists; whether this father conceived the design of our common humanity; and what the heck ‘the secret place of filial being which is the Only-begotten Son’ actually means.

      I’ll tell you one thing, you make a great case for reincarnation, because that familiar bundle of nonsense makes me wonder if John C is the second coming of L.S. Thornton.

      • John C

        Lionel Spencer Thornton 1884-1960
        John C 1963-

        • kessy_athena

          (Impish grin) So you’re saying you believe in reincarnation?

          • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

            It took a while, but John C and I agree on something. This could be the start of something beautiful.

          • John C

            No, Kessy, I don’t.

  • L.Long

    After reading a number of Russell articles I wondered where was he during my change from delusional SHEEPLE to thinking individual. After reading more I grew sad and despondent over the fact that here was a person with brilliant insight that as barely made a dent in the number of SHEEPLE after all this time. But today I am encouraged because sites like this that bring Russell and his thoughts onto the bright light of the Infernalnet and encourage others to start thinking (apologetics is not thinking just excuse inventing).

    • Michael

      >SHEEPLE
      Please never use this word. It is scientifically proven to be impossible to read without angrily despising whoever wrote it.

      • Nathan

        Although ‘sheeple’ is certainly a loaded and more than normally irritating term, the right of a person to apply whatever words or descriptions he or she wishes to a personal situation is hardly cause for rebuke.

        • johan

          The tone of the comment reminded me of a typical pretend-t0-be-an-atheist troll. The caps alone are enough reason to look down on the author. Everyone has the right to rebuke people for that behavior, lying troll or not.

        • Michael

          I thought the “scientifically proven” quip would be sufficient to mark the comment as tongue-in-cheek.

          Though I will say that you should also generally try to avoid words you know irritate people.

  • http://losthunderlads.com Acilius

    I’m very fond of “Why I Am Not a Christian,” oddly enough because it is the only book that consistently makes wish I could believe in God. That excerpt is one of the spots at which I most keenly desire to contradict Russell flatly and unreservedly. To accept the notion that an invisible, unknowable being is alone worthy of the highest praise and is in control of the ultimate outcome of everything that happens in the universe would be let go of the sense that one must control the world and fret over the future. Every religion promises prospective followers that those who join them will free themselves from fretfulness and the craving for control. Of course, none of them has a great record of delivering on those promises; it is precisely because so many religious groups and individuals are in fact very controlling and fretful that there is a demand for atheism. But when people resolve to give all praise to God, to trust in God, etc, they are resolving to do precisely what Russell is resolving to do when he says we ought “to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages.”

    • Rich

      Very interesting Acilius – and may I suggest that you have every right to contradict Russell flatly and unreservedly, and in my view it would be extremely sensible for you to do so.

  • Rich

    So much could be said in response to Russell’s essay, but I’ll just make three comments:
    1) He says there’s no evidence that Jesus Christ ever existed.
    There is much evidence in historical extra-biblical documents of Jesus Christ’s historical existence.
    2) He talks of the suffering that has been caused in the past in the name of religion, and in particular the Christian religion.
    There is a world of difference between acting in the name of religion, even the Christian religion, and acting in the name of Jesus Christ Himself.
    3) He speaks of people in church debasing themselves by calling themselves miserable sinners, which is not worthy of self-respecting human beings.
    This is misrepresenting Christians and gives an incomplete and inaccurate conclusion. Christians are now saints, not miserable sinners.

    • Lurker111

      “There is much evidence in historical extra-biblical documents of Jesus Christ’s historical existence.”

      Unless you’re just an ordinary troll, please name just three extra-biblical sources of Christ’s existence that haven’t been conclusively shown as later insertions into documents. This means, e.g., that you can forget Josephus.

      • Rich

        1) Cornelius Tacitus – Roman historian (speaks of the death of Christus)
        2) Lucian – 2nd century satirist (spoke scornfully of Christ and the Christians)
        3) Seutonius – Roman historian (“as the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (another spelling of Christus), he expelled them from Rome.”
        4) Pliny the Younger (made Christians bow down to the statue of Trajan)
        5)Thallus/Julius Africanus (speaks of the darkening of the sun coinciding with Christ’s death)
        6)Letter of Mara Bar-Serapion (mentioning the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ)

        • Michael

          1,2,3) Tacitus, Lucian, and Seutonius knew of the existence of Christians (who were fairly numerous by the turn of the second century), and briefly mentioned that “Christ” was the historic head of the group. These people had know more reason to believe Christ was a real historical figure than we do, so they can’t be considered “evidence” of anything other than the existence of Christians in the late first century AD.
          4) Pliny never even mentioned Christ as a person, only again the existence of Christians. If I can show you examples of scholars writing about the existence of Shemites, does that mean that Shem really existed? It’s a silly argument.
          5) None of Thallus’s writings survived. Sextus Julius Africanus was a Christian writer, contrary to the request for non-Christian sources.
          6) Mara Bar-Serapion never mentions Jesus by name. Even if he was referring to Jesus, the fact that he also discusses the death of two other people whose existence is highly questionable (Pythagoras and Socrates) and about whose existence he surely could not know proves the invalidity of the source.

          This is all already in the link Nox provided below.

    • Michael

      1. There are no non-Christian references to Jesus of Nazareth from the first century except a single mention by Josephus (and another mention of questionable authenticity in the same book). There is no question that Christians already existed by the first half of the first century AD (though the word “Christian” did not), but whether or not their messiah was a real man remains uncertain. That said, it seems more than reasonable to suppose that he was a real man, and perhaps even crucified, as there are at least some accounts of it in the Bible and deuterocanon and as there were many similar figures at the time (e.g. John the Baptist), though none with such lasting impact.

      2. Russell actually makes this point. He says he finds himself to be more “Christian” in that respect than most self-described Christians. But some of Christ’s teachings, such as “take no thought for the morrow,” in themselves are problematic, and I agree completely that the biblical Jesus cannot be said to be “superlatively moral.”

      3. It doesn’t really misrepresent Christianity. Pastors tell you that you are wicked and worthless on your own, but that Jesus is such a good guy that he’ll forgive you anyway, though he is under no obligation to do so, and that by his grace he can transform you into something worthy of his kingdom. That’s what salvation is all about. Christians are anti-humanists.

    • Nox

      1) No there isn’t.

      2) Most of the suffering that has been caused by religion has been caused by the same religious hierarchy that decided what christ’s teachings were, explicitly acting in the name of Jesus christ.

      3) Last time I checked, Romans 3:23 was still part of the christian canon.

      • Rich

        In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (who is a secular agnostic) wrote: “He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees” Ehrman, B. (2011). Forged : writing in the name of God. p. 285.
        Michael Grant (aclassicist) states that “In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.” in Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels by Michael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200
        Richard A. Burridge states: “There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.” in Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34

        • Yoav

          In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (who is a secular agnostic) wrote: “He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees” Ehrman, B. (2011). Forged : writing in the name of God. p. 285.

          While Ehrman is a well respected scholar his position is far from being as unopposed, by other historians, as his statements sometimes make it seem. Another thing that people like you conveniently forget, when trowing Ehrman around, is that the Jesus he insist is a fully verified historical figure share very little resemblance to the Jesus you believe in.

      • Rich

        @Nox.
        1) I very much doubt you don’t accept that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was a real historical figure – what you DO doubt I believe, is that He is all that He is claimed to be in the New Testament.

        2) I wouldn’t be in a hurry if I were you to believe that the people in the religious hierarchy throughout history were necessarily acting in the name of Jesus Christ EVEN IF they stated that they were doing so. Matthew 7:20 “Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.”

        3) Absolutely, Romans 3:23 is part of the Christian canon, as is Romans 3:24 “being JUSTIFIED freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
        Therefore, no longer miserable sinners.

        • kessy_athena

          First, “Christ” is a title that very few people around here would acknowledge. As for whether or not Jesus of Nazareth was a real person, I’m skeptical. I admit that I haven’t looked into the question all that deeply – mainly because it just doesn’t really interest me – so I make no claim to expertise and have low confidence in my impressions of the subject. However, my understanding is that the earliest Christian writings (I believe the letters of Paul, in particular) tended to speak of Jesus as more of a spiritual figure, rather then an historical one, and that the details of Jesus’s life were only filled in by much later writings. Furthermore, as the Romans made no note of any the purported events surrounding Jesus’s life, at the very least the Christian accounts are clearly grossly exaggerated. And considering that early Christianity was an underground radical political organization with revolutionary ideology, believing what they say about their own origins strikes me as being in about the same category as believing North Korea’s official biographies of Kim Jung-il and Kim Il-sung. So I find the historicity of Jesus to be extremely dubious at best.

          • Michael

            my understanding is that the earliest Christian writings (I believe the letters of Paul, in particular) tended to speak of Jesus as more of a spiritual figure, rather then an historical one, and that the details of Jesus’s life were only filled in by much later writings.

            While we don’t have a perfect record of the earliest depictions of Jesus, writings for some details of his life must have arisen within a couple decades of his alleged death. And while we don’t have early versions of the stories, the remaining versions certainly make Jesus out to be a real man. His lineage is discussed, Mary described as his mother (though Mark does not claim she was a virgin) and Joseph as his father, he holds sermons, performs miracles, leads masses, and eventually is crucified and rises again. While Christian dogma has changed immensely since its origin, the core has always been the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

            This does not prove that Jesus existed, but it does prove that people said such a man existed not long ago.

        • Jabster

          Richy … Richy … may I call you Richy?

          You were a twat last time you posted here and you’re still being a twat. You talk bollocks and then then you talk some more bollocks. Can’t remember when old JC said that was the thing to do – can you?

          • Rich

            Hi Jabster how u doing? Have enjoyed past discussions trust you are well :0)

            • Jabster

              I’m doing fine twat boy … still enjoying trolling this blog I see.

          • Rich

            Yes of course you may call me Richy…..and I’ll call you Jabbers lol :)

        • Nox

          You didn’t really say why they came to that conclusion. You just told us some people whose names we’re supposed to be impressed by have said Jesus existed.

          Why?

          Why do they think that?

          The opinions of scholars are only more important than the average person’s opinion, because scholars have a better grasp of the evidence. Theoretically, they have the potential to base their positions on facts instead of empty speculation. Without telling us what information they are basing their positions on, their names and conclusions tell us nothing useful.

          I happen to know Ehrman’s stated reasons. I don’t agree that they justify his conclusion, but he does have stated reasons (if you actually read Forged instead of just copying a selective quote from an apologetics website, I’m sure you also know what his stated reasons are), and his stated conclusion is a lot more nuanced than that quote suggests. He ignores that those scholars of antiquity he refers to worked for the church, and as Yoav mentioned, he is guilty of portraying his position as not seriously opposed when it is. But Ehrman is not arguing that the Jesus of the new testament existed. He is arguing that the myth of Jesus in the new testament was loosely based on a real person.

          1)

          Yes and no. I accept that the story started somewhere. The idea that there were wandering preachers with an apocalyptic messages in 1st century Palestine seems certain. It’s only the connection to the Jesus tradition that is questionable

          I’ve previously said on this website that while we have nothing which could really qualify as evidence for a historical Jesus, it is slightly more likely that some real person was the basis of the myth.

          But it doesn’t matter what I believe. For the same reason it doesn’t matter what Ehrman believes. Because none of us have any f*cking way of actually knowing. What matters is not what one person or another believes. What matters is what is true. Why would you even want to know my opinion unless there is some chance it could be true.

          After spending as much time as Ehrman pondering this question (and basing my opinion on many of the same reasons and sources), I can confidently say I don’t f*cking know if Jesus existed. Neither does Ehrman. Neither do you. No one does. There’s no conclusive reason to rule out his existence, and our best available reasons to accept his existence are not good enough reasons to justify that conclusion.

          If there ever was a historical Jesus, he is completely lost to history. Even if he did exist, so little can be known of the real person, and so much myth has been built upon him, that he is now a totally mythological figure.

          Jesus could not have possibly been all he is claimed to be in the new testament (a list with quite a few conflicting claims). Someone like that would have been noticed by somebody. For a guy who did miracles in front of thousands of witnesses and split jewish society in half, apologists shouldn’t have to resort to these made up references from the 2nd Century.

          There were people in Judea writing stuff in 33 AD, and no one seems to have noticed this Jesus character until after his church became established. And once the christian church shows up, suddenly everyone’s telling stories about Jesus. And all these stories are coming from christians, and most of them from christians writing after 70 AD who never would have seen Jesus themselves if he did exist, and all of them saying completely unrealistic things about Jesus.

          And that body of late, anonymous, unrealistic, religiously motivated literature from men who would have had no way of knowing if Jesus existed, is now all the evidence we have for the existence of any Jesus.

          So when Russell said there was no evidence for the existence of Jesus, he was right. There isn’t. There is nothing suggesting his existence which is anywhere near reliable enough to qualify as evidence.

          Any reason to believe a historical Jesus can be at most based on inference. The best reason to think a historical Jesus existed is that the simplest and most straightforward explanation for the origin of the christ cult is some actual person. There isn’t evidence of this person (and the christ cult could have easily made up christ). It just makes slightly more sense that way.

          2)

          Then why should we take their word for anything? These are the same guys who made up the religion in the first place. The religious hierarchy you are trying to disassociate Jesus from decided what would and would not be included in christianity. And the result of them doing this is the belief system you are trying to defend.

          I’m all for rejecting the authority of priests, but you are here trying to make Jesus a more credible figure. And you’re attempting to do that by shunning the authority of the church? Why do you think so many people accept Jesus as a historical figure if not because the church told them he existed?

          What it seems like you are suggesting is we should take the word of priests when they tell us Jesus existed, or Jesus was the son of god, or which books should be in the bible, but not take the word of those same priests when they say god wants you to murder heretics.

          Is god guiding his church, or are they just making sh*t up?

          If god is guiding his church then their fruits reflect negatively on him as much as on the church. If the church is just shamelessly making sh*t up, why should we take their word on anything.

          3)

          Believing that being a good person is completely separate from doing good things is no more morally helpful than believing you are just a horrible person.

          • Rich

            @Nox.

            “What matters is what is true.”
            Those few words are very potent.
            So it doesn’t matter IN THE SLIGHTEST whether evidence which will satisfy people who approach life from their particular interpretation of science and logic can be found for Jesus of Nazareth being at the very least a man of history, and at the most, the Son of God . WHAT MATTERS IS WHAT IS TRUE!
            You say ” If there ever was a historical Jesus, he is completely lost to history. Even if he did exist, so little can be known of the real person, and so much myth has been built upon him, that he is now a totally mythological figure.”
            So let’s say for argument’s sake that there actually was a Jesus of Nazareth, and that in addition he was the Christ, whose life was ALL that is stated in the New Testament.
            What you are saying is that , on the basis that 2000 years later you can’t find enough evidence to support this, Jesus, although as real as you and I, is viewed as totally mythological, and everything about him is dismissed as irrelevant.
            Is that what it comes down to for you and others on this blog – “I will not allow my thinking to be influenced by anything other than what has been proved as fact by modern scientific tests, but then I will change my mind later on in time when the tests that were employed before were either found to be unreliable, or more evidence comes to light which contradicts what we had all become convinced of previously.”

            • Troutbane

              Rich,
              I was going to leave this to Nox to reply, but he seems to have wandered of. I will say this, I have read what you worte like ten times. And honestly, this is what it sounds like:
              “Are you saying 1+1 is equal to 2? Lets assume the Bible says it does not and is true, then are you saying you would thus accept that 2+2 equals 4 despite what I believe?”
              Really, I cannot figure out what you are saying. You seem to be complaining that truth and any evidence pointing to the truth are bad and why cant we just take faith, which is better then evidence, even when the evidence is sound and reasonable.
              Seriously, maybe retype this, cause you are not making sense.

            • Nox

              Let’s say for argument’s sake that I am the christ. Now that we’ve said it for argument’s sake, you should just believe it.

              Do you see what step I’ve skipped there?

              That is the step you skipped in your most recent comment.

              If you want to believe what is actually true, instead of only finding a way to call true what you want to believe, following the evidence is the best chance you have.

              For those of us (such as you and me) who were not in Palestine 2,000 years ago, the closest thing you have to any way of knowing the truth is looking at what evidence is currently available.

              What you are trying to do here is skip the evidence, skip any attempt to find the truth, and declare the new testament (or whatever you imagine the new testament says) to be true without having any reason to think it is.

              Accusations of closemindedness are hollow at this stage. You haven’t given me any reason at all to change my mind. Give me any real reason to think I’m wrong and we’ll talk about changing my mind.

              What matters is what is true. But why should I think what you are telling me here is true? Whether it actually happened is a slightly different question than whether I believe it. But if you want me to believe it, there needs to be some reason to believe it actually happened.

              This is why your original claim was that there is evidence for Jesus’ existence. Before you were unable to bring forward any evidence, you completely understood why evidence is important. And now that you can’t find evidence for the thing you want to call true, suddenly you don’t understand why evidence is important.

              Another thing you appeared to understand before, but do not appear to have understood when you made that last comment is that the Jesus story(s) in the new testament being entirely true is a different concept than the Jesus story(s) being based in some degree on some real person.

              It is the claim that some Jesus existed that we have no evidence for or against. We can know whether the Jesus of the new testament existed. He didn’t.

              Much of his biography is plagiarized from earlier myths. Much of his teaching is based on a misunderstanding of the old testament. The four canonical gospels contradict each other constantly. The gospels were written by people who never saw Jesus, and they don’t seem at all concerned with telling what actually happened. The character of Jesus is incoherent and badly explained in any of the gospels. And the idea of god having to kill his son so he could forgive us for being created with sin would be bullsh*t even if the rest were true.

              The character of Jesus as portrayed in the new testament is impossible. The thing that is a genuine possibility is that he is partially based on the original founder of christianity.

              If that were the case, there’s a chance Jesus wouldn’t have left any evidence (which is fortunate since he didn’t). So we might find ourselves now in the 21st Century with no evidence for a man who did exist.

              I’m still not sure what you think we’d be missing by not knowing about the existence of an entirely human Jesus, or how the existence of an entirely human Jesus would make christianity true.

              What matters is what is true. But how do you find truth? If you have no good reason to think something is true and no good reason to think it is false, the proper response is to reserve judgment. Not to declare it true and ask others to believe it based on how unknowable it is (and when you build impossible claims on a foundation of unknowable claims, unknowability ceases to be an applicable defense).

            • Rich

              @Nox.
              Can I just clarify something – are you saying that you consider that most people who ever lived are mythological?
              And that if the Jesus of the New Testament never acted in any way or never claimed to be anything which contradicted physical laws you would be more likely to accept the possibility that he was a real man of history?

              @Troutbane
              I am saying that 1+1 may not always = 2.

              Apologies for brevity owing to time constraints.

            • Troutbane

              Wow, you are an idiot. And I’m not saying that in an ad hominen attack. You have obviously read what was presented, pushed it through your brain, and came out with idioitic shit.
              On the Jesus angle, Nox has said here and before it is possible a man like Jesus existed as an apocalyptic preeacher in the years during the Roman occupation of Judea. So no worries there: wandering hippy guy preaching about the end of the world and his 12 amigos= possible. The historical problem lies in the fact that the only record of this guy are the ramblings of religious nuts and their spiritual decendants, who have a motivation to make even more shit up and twist history to fit their own preconceived desires.
              Magical proclamations, however, require some kind of proof or evidence, of which none exists, anywhere, in any reliable historical source. Ever. Ever ever ever. And dontcha think it should stand out? Dontcha think the Romans woulda said something about this guy healing people and performing magic tricks? Dontcha think the Chinese woulda noticed the Temple Veil ripping? If you have somehow found these proofs of magic, please present them here. I can just as easily claim that Siddhartha sat under a bodhi tree and magically turned Mara’s arrows into flowers. See, everything I just wrote must be true since there was a story written about a former prince (who may have existed) turned pauper who founded Buddhism. Heck, Keanu Reeves even was in a film about it, so it must be absolutely true, all of it.
              Are you seeing your problem? You are unable to disconnect the possible historical shit from the mystical fairy tale shit. And the historical shit doesn’t even have a good stack of evidence on its own.
              And 1+1 always equals 2.
              You’re an idiot.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Wow, Rich, what happened? I thought you had a better handle on things than this. Of course Nox doesn’t think most people who ever lived are mythological. The people who lived… lived! They left evidence that they lived, in the form of written records, houses, pots, middens, wells, weapons, graves. The issue is you’re talking about a particular individual to whom all sorts of stories and properties were added, and there is zero evidence that this particular individual existed or that an individual consisting of these properties ever existed. I already explained in an earlier reply to you, that you don’t seem to have gotten around to reading, that we can have evidence for peoples and events in the past without being able to give you the name and address of a random cobbler in Pompeii. You seem to be deeply confused and hung up on the difference between people existing and a particular person existing. You are arguing, whether you intend to or not, that if we don’t take your word for it that Jesus existed, we might as well not believe anybody was living in 1st century Palestine. That is ludicrous. You know better, you’re not an idiot (Troutbane’s assessment notwithstanding) but you have tied yourself in knots trying to defend the indefensible.

              That does seem to be a position Christians often wind up in. From the problem of evil to the historicity of Jesus to the Trinity to the conflicting instructions to love your neighbour and stone them at every opportunity, Christianity is a nightmare to keep straight in your head.

            • Rich

              @Bill, Nox, Troutbane, JohnMWhite.

              Apologies that this post won’t read as clearly as I would like – working long shifts doesn’t give enough time to formulate well laid – out arguments.

              However just to say I am not suggesting that Jesus existed on the basis that theoretically he COULD have done, I am saying that I believe he was a real man of history and also Jesus the Christ as laid down in the NT, partially because the many prophecies of a Messiah in the OT time period were fulfilled precisely in Jesus Christ , partially because most of the world uses a calendar in which the number of the year is the number of years since Jesus’ birth, which would be incredibly unlikely if he had never existed and had almost no influence in his generation and in every generation since, and very importantly you are throwing out the massive massive evidence of the thousands of NT manuscripts themselves on the basis that they were written by “crazy religious people”. So you seem to be predisposed to not accepting the NT as evidence, having somehow made up your minds that religious people are cranky crazy nutjobs. How do you come to this conclusion? Maybe because the historical and present day religious figures you draw your conclusions from are those which received attention because they are very very poor illustrations of what a true christian believer should be, given that it is usually the surprising or scandalous stories that get in the news, rather than the lives of true disciples of Christ.
              In suggesting that Jesus the man was also the Christ, we are dealing with something so unusual and unique in terms of a person who was born of a virgin, who had the power to heal all sorts of illnesses, to have authority over demons, to forgive people’s sins, to cause food to materialise to feed thousands, and who was resurrected after being crucified by the Romans. Given these details, this would also fall into the category as some of you have suggested, of myth or fairy stories on which your way of thinking seemingly does not give you the option to speculate. How can you be so sure that the above is not true? Nox says there is no conclusive reason to rule out the existence of Jesus as a man of history, so what is the conclusive reason why he could not also be the Christ?

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Rich, I don’t mean to be rude and this may come across as insulting, but you appear to have a rather child-like grasp of the idea of Jesus’ historicity. I suspect this is not because you are stupid but because you have never had cause to question your assumptions about Jesus that were likely poured into your head from birth. Jesus is as likely to be a real man for fulfilling prophecy as Anakin Skywalker. We are already questioning the source of these prophecies. Why would you think that the bible’s claims about Jesus existing are bolstered by the same book’s claims about Jesus fulfilling prophecies written in the same book?

              Most of the world uses the Western calendar for economic reasons. Many countries and societies have their own local calendar as well, which you seem entirely unaware of. The Roman empire developed the Julian calendar decades before Jesus’ supposed birth, and this was later modified by the Pope to become the Gregorian/Western calendar. With the Roman empire than the Roman Catholic church dominating Europe, what calendar was likely to become favoured? This calendar was created in the 6th century by the Pope, by the way, it has no bearing on the likelihood of Jesus existing. This is a massive assumption you have made that could have been avoided with the slightest research. I hope you learn something about making such assumptions when it comes to Jesus and Christianity.

              Of course we won’t accept the NT as evidence – it is a religious document written by adherents to that religion. It is biased and its authors have a conflict of interest. Why would I believe a word of it? This is how history works. It is also not contemporary and the various manuscripts were written and changed by multiple authors over a lengthy period, undermining its credibility further. How do you think historical sources are evaluated? Again, sorry if it seems insulting, but you seem to have picked a fight without even knowing how to evaluate who wins.

              Your last paragraph flies in the face of your first. You clearly are trying to argue that we should take Jesus’ existence (and godlike abilities) seriously purely because “maybe”. That’s just bad logic and again is not how arguments work. To reiterate what you have already been told, Jesus’ story is far from unique, and whether it is unique or not is irrelevant to the point that there is zero evidence for it. You are still offering no reason to consider any Christian claim to be remotely true.

            • Bill

              “I am saying that I believe he was a real man of history and also Jesus the Christ as laid down in the NT, partially because the many prophecies of a Messiah in the OT time period were fulfilled precisely in Jesus Christ…”

              What prophecies? How were they fulfilled?

              “…partially because most of the world uses a calendar in which the number of the year is the number of years since Jesus’ birth, which would be incredibly unlikely if he had never existed and had almost no influence in his generation and in every generation since…”

              The months of January, March, May and June were named for Roman Gods. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are named for Norse Gods. Widespread use of such a naming scheme would then also be incredibly unlikely if those Gods didn’t exist?

              “…very importantly you are throwing out the massive massive evidence of the thousands of NT manuscripts themselves on the basis that they were written by “crazy religious people”. ”

              Actually, I’m throwing them away because of a lack of coroborating archeological and documentary evidence regarding their contents. Factually true things can be written by “crazy people.” (Although I’m not sure I’d describe the authors of the Bible as crazy). But the factual truth of such writings must be independently verifiable.

              Also – - circular reasoning is circular.

              “In suggesting that Jesus the man was also the Christ, we are dealing with something so unusual and unique in terms of a person who was born of a virgin, who had the power to heal all sorts of illnesses, to have authority over demons, to forgive people’s sins, to cause food to materialise to feed thousands, and who was resurrected after being crucified by the Romans. ”

              Such “unique” claims require strong evidence before deserving belief. Where is it?

              “How can you be so sure that the above is not true?”

              Because we know that things for which there is no evidence tend -with high probability – to not be true.

              Convince us otherwise. Show us all this evidence you claim exists. Either that or take the usual believer cop-out and admit “it’s a matter of faith” and move on.

            • Rich

              Going back to the reading of Bertrand Russell’s essay which was the basis for this discussion, it is very interesting to note that he does not include as a reason why he was not a Christian that he doubted the historicity of Jesus – in fact the words he uses imply that he accepted that Jesus was a historical person, although he did not accept Jesus was divine or that he was the best and wisest of men.
              And to my mind, Russell’s reasoning whereby he concludes there is no God is very weak, for example he mentions the first-cause argument which states there is a cause for everything, the first cause being God, which he rejected at the age of 18 when he considered the question “who made me?” which immediately suggested the question “who made God?” and it would seem he couldn’t handle this intellectually which is no evidence to show there is no God.
              It staggers me that you guys have dismissed the New Testament as evidence for Jesus at the very least being a man of history. The number of manuscripts of the NT , of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.
              Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thuycides, of Cicero, of Virgil; yet our knowledge of their writings depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds, and even thousands. (Source F.G.Kenyon – lifelong Bible scholar especially New Testament as an historical text).

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Ok, Rich, I tried to be nice, but now you’re making it clear you are not interested in either a discussion or providing the evidence you swore you had. We don’t care if Russell happens to accept Jesus was probably a real person – he has no evidence to do so. Just like you. It is merely his opinion. He is not a priest or a prophet, so we are not bound to agree with his every random opinion like the faithful think they are. He could well be right, we cannot 100% discount the possibility, the point is that there simply is no credible evidence for this particular person and certainly no evidence he did any of the things claimed by the sole source you are interested in, the New Testament.

              Your summation of the first-cause argument is ludicrous. Neither Russell nor the rest of us lack the intellectual capacity for dealing with the question (Who made god?), but it appears you do. The fact that the question “who made god” winds up with one of two answers (either god magically made himself, making it just as possible the universe made itself, negating god’s specialness or usefulness as an answer; or god was made by something else that creates an infinite regress of “who made that?”) makes it pretty simple to use as evidence against the existence of god. It’s logic and you missed it in your haste to bolster your faith.

              It staggers me that you continue to use the New Testament as some kind of historical source. Wait, no it doesn’t, because you’re completely enthralled with your faith and incapable of considering that it could possibly not be true or that at least the source of it could be less than reliable. Just like every other boring Christian to turn up here and try to argue that their magic book is not nearly as problematic as real world history demonstrates. You are ignoring pretty much everything I said in my previous post which points out just why it doesn’t matter how many manuscripts you have for NT documents and why the New Testament is not a historical source that can be considered at all credible. Go back and read it and actually reply this time, otherwise I will just not bother dealing with you again, since you do not appear to be interested in a real discussion and are at present only trying to assert your faithful bona fides. We’re not impressed.

              Also, not sure where you got the idea the bible was so special compared to every other book in the ancient world. That’s just made up. Again, you are beholden to your faith and it has caused you to completely turn off any method of critically assessing information. You sound like a cheerleader for this book, not somebody actually trying to have a conversation about it.

              You’re getting it backwards with the other writers. Sophocles and Virgin didn’t claim to be the son of god, rise from the dead, cause earthquakes and hours of darkness at their death, create a plague of zombies throughout Jerusalem or found an apocalyptic cult that eventually took over the Roman Empire. Their writings are their writings. Passages attributed to them can be weighed against a body of evidence – their other writings and the context of the times – to ascertain whether they were likely written by these figures specifically. The gospel manuscripts are not Jesus’ writings, they are the writings of his fanboys who came 60-100 years later; even the most contemporary NT sources are around 30 years later and those are not talking of a distinct individual called Jesus anyway. There is no reason to believe the religious claims of religious writers who are members of that religion and who are not even first-hand witnesses, especially when these extraordinary events were not noted by anybody without a vested interested. Do you understand the concept of bias? Do you think Christians are incapable of making stuff up or writing down hearsay and rumour? Do you realise that the gospels cannot possibly be historically accurate because they contain mutually exclusive facts within them, such as Jesus having two different lineages, being born at the time of a census that never took place as described, being born during the reign of Herod that cannot have happened at the same time as other incidents in the gospels and being raised in Nazareth which was not occupied during the lifetime of Jesus? Do you even care, or is it all about faith?

            • Rich

              @JohnMWhite

              I have read your previous posts and I understand the arguments you have presented, but I don’t draw the same conclusions as you do.
              You seem to immediately dismiss the NT on the basis that it was written by religious people, as if they are so unattached from the physical world and real events that anything they write and record for posterity is invalid.
              You are asking for evidence, and yet you know that you cannot produce evidence for many things, and also evidence can be there but undiscovered, or it can be destroyed, which doesn’t in the slightest invalidate events of history. Also you as atheists or agnostics accept that you can never have absolute certainty about anything. Someone on here (Nox) has stated with absolute certainty that the Jesus of the NT never existed, which he should not be able to say as an atheist. I can completely understand someone who says that as far as the evidence indicates to them they cannot state categorically that Jesus was a man of history, but it would seem that even if you felt you had all the corroborating evidence required , you could still not state with absolute certainty that he did indeed exist.
              Regarding the prophecies in the OT regarding Jesus coming to be the Jewish Messiah, these are substantiated by the NT:
              The books of the Old Testament contain many passages about the Messiah—all prophecies Jesus Christ fulfilled. For instance, the crucifixion of Jesus was foretold in Psalm 22:16-18 approximately 1,000 years before Christ was born, long before this method of execution was even practiced.
              Some Bible scholars suggest there are more than 300 prophetic Scriptures completed in the life of Jesus.

              Although this list is not exhaustive, you’ll find 44 messianic predictions clearly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, along with supporting references from the Old and New Testament.

              Prophecies Jesus Fulfilled

              44 Prophecies Jesus Christ Fulfilled
              Prophecies About Jesus Old Testament
              Scripture New Testament
              Fulfillment
              1 Messiah would be born of a woman. Genesis 3:15 Matthew 1:20
              Galatians 4:4
              2 Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:1
              Luke 2:4-6
              3 Messiah would be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:22-23
              Luke 1:26-31
              4 Messiah would come from the line of Abraham. Genesis 12:3
              Genesis 22:18 Matthew 1:1
              Romans 9:5
              5 Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac. Genesis 17:19
              Genesis 21:12 Luke 3:34
              6 Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob. Numbers 24:17 Matthew 1:2
              7 Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. Genesis 49:10 Luke 3:33
              Hebrews 7:14
              8 Messiah would be heir to King David’s throne. 2 Samuel 7:12-13
              Isaiah 9:7 Luke 1:32-33
              Romans 1:3
              9 Messiah’s throne will be anointed and eternal. Psalm 45:6-7
              Daniel 2:44 Luke 1:33
              Hebrews 1:8-12
              10 Messiah would be called Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:23
              11 Messiah would spend a season in Egypt. Hosea 11:1 Matthew 2:14-15
              12 A massacre of children would happen at Messiah’s birthplace. Jeremiah 31:15 Matthew 2:16-18
              13 A messenger would prepare the way for Messiah Isaiah 40:3-5 Luke 3:3-6
              14 Messiah would be rejected by his own people. Psalm 69:8
              Isaiah 53:3 John 1:11
              John 7:5
              15 Messiah would be a prophet. Deuteronomy 18:15 Acts 3:20-22
              16 Messiah would be preceded by Elijah. Malachi 4:5-6 Matthew 11:13-14
              17 Messiah would be declared the Son of God. Psalm 2:7 Matthew 3:16-17
              18 Messiah would be called a Nazarene. Isaiah 11:1 Matthew 2:23
              19 Messiah would bring light to Galilee. Isaiah 9:1-2 Matthew 4:13-16
              20 Messiah would speak in parables. Psalm 78:2-4
              Isaiah 6:9-10 Matthew 13:10-15, 34-35
              21 Messiah would be sent to heal the brokenhearted. Isaiah 61:1-2 Luke 4:18-19
              22 Messiah would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4 Hebrews 5:5-6
              23 Messiah would be called King. Psalm 2:6
              Zechariah 9:9 Matthew 27:37
              Mark 11:7-11
              24 Messiah would be praised by little children. Psalm 8:2 Matthew 21:16
              25 Messiah would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9
              Zechariah 11:12-13 Luke 22:47-48
              Matthew 26:14-16
              26 Messiah’s price money would be used to buy a potter’s field. Zechariah 11:12-13 Matthew 27:9-10
              27 Messiah would be falsely accused. Psalm 35:11 Mark 14:57-58
              28 Messiah would be silent before his accusers. Isaiah 53:7 Mark 15:4-5
              29 Messiah would be spat upon and struck. Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
              30 Messiah would be hated without cause. Psalm 35:19
              Psalm 69:4 John 15:24-25
              31 Messiah would be crucified with criminals. Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38
              Mark 15:27-28
              32 Messiah would be given vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34
              John 19:28-30
              33 Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. Psalm 22:16
              Zechariah 12:10 John 20:25-27
              34 Messiah would be mocked and ridiculed. Psalm 22:7-8 Luke 23:35
              35 Soldiers would gamble for Messiah’s garments. Psalm 22:18 Luke 23:34
              Matthew 27:35-36
              36 Messiah’s bones would not be broken. Exodus 12:46
              Psalm 34:20 John 19:33-36
              37 Messiah would be forsaken by God. Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
              38 Messiah would pray for his enemies. Psalm 109:4 Luke 23:34
              39 Soldiers would pierce Messiah’s side. Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34
              40 Messiah would be buried with the rich. Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
              41 Messiah would resurrect from the dead. Psalm 16:10
              Psalm 49:15 Matthew 28:2-7
              Acts 2:22-32
              42 Messiah would ascend to heaven. Psalm 24:7-10 Mark 16:19
              Luke 24:51
              43 Messiah would be seated at God’s right hand. Psalm 68:18
              Psalm 110:1 Mark 16:19
              Matthew 22:44
              44 Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin. Isaiah 53:5-12 Romans 5:6-8

              All of the above presumably you would believe as long as you had corroborating evidence.
              People have suggested in posts that where Jesus Christ is concerned, in regard to the claims of his uniqueness, strong evidence is required.
              There is a verse in the NT where Jesus says “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
              I have found an amazing freedom in simply trusting in God’s word, and although gaining knowledge and confirming facts with evidence is something that I do consider important, it does have severe limitations when you see everything in life on that level, and in my experience it has been superseded by faith.
              :0)

            • Bill

              OK, you’ve actually listed the prophecies you think Jesus fulfilled.

              Now, if you would be so kind as to present the non-biblical evidence showing that the prophecies pre-dated the existence of this Jesus, and that Jesus actually fulfilled the prophecies.

              Surely you can agree that if the son of god actually walked the earth doing miracles, encouraging rebellion etc… there should be lots of ancient text talking about him. The Romans, who allegedly cruxified him, surely would have created some record of his existence and actions. (Particularly give the Roman love of record keeping.) Please point us toward this evidence, which you claimed exists.

              As near as I can tell, the “evidence” you present is the Bible. That’s not sufficient. If you want to convince us you are going to have to do better.

            • Nox

              Did you actually read any of those verses you just listed?

            • Troutbane

              Your skills at copy and paste from http://christianity.about.com/od/biblefactsandlists/a/Prophecies-Jesus.htm are amazing.
              Also, literally look up point 1′s old testament reference. It says absolutely nothing like that. Genesis 3:15:
              “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
              If you cant even bother to read the book you claim is so awesome and accurate, and, even worse, if you claim falsely things from it, why then should we listen to anything you have in regards to this magical book? As far as I am concerned, you will simply lie to believe whatever it is you’ve been taught to believe, because those lies somehow make the universe a better place and somehow, amazingly become your version of truth.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Ok, Rich, I’m done. I’m not going to keep using you as a chew toy, you lost your flavour long ago. I hoped you were an honest person looking for answers in earnest and were just making naive mistakes, but you are not interested in a conversation, you are evangelising, simply cheerleading for your arbitrarily chosen magic book. You can type reasonably well so I sincerely doubt you are so ignorant as to not understand what the term ‘bias’ means, you just select to ignore its ramifications because you have your own bias.

              Similarly, I doubt you’re stupid enough to not understand that what some anonymous authors 30-100 years removed from the events wrote is not remotely reliable evidence for anything, you again are simply indulging in special pleading because it cannot enter your head that the bible might not be reliable. Unfortunately, you do demonstrate some level of stupidity by quoting a bunch of bible verses at me as if I give a shit what they say. Your magic book is meaningless to me. It is fan fiction. Without external corroboration it is nothing more than that. Like I said, Anakin Skywalker fulfilled some prophecies written down by someone, somewhere – does that mean we should acts as though he probably existed?

              Your final paragraph is simply an admission of failure, the exact retreat to “it’s a matter of faith” that Bill predicted. Well done, you fulfilled a prophecy, you must be Jesus Christ. I guess we found you exist after all.

            • Sunny Day

              :0)

              Rich, is that supposed to be a clown nose or a blowjob.
              I can’t tell.

            • Rich

              @ Troutbane
              That I copied and pasted some material from a website is no issue since I have every reason to believe it is sound material.
              The OT reference you refer to on that site is the New International Version translation of the verse which although uses different words to the New King James or King James Version, the meaning is unaltered so that’s no issue.

              @Nox.
              I have read quite a few of the verses and the more I read them, the more it impresses on me that we are dealing with truth – sound historical truth, not just spiritual truth.

              @JohnMWhite
              Fair enough, if you have had enough that’s up to you, but in calling the Bible a magic book you are contradicting sound reasoning. Many scholars of repute, both christian and non-christian after extensive archaeological and textual research have become convinced of the ,accuracy of biblical history, culture, prophecy and science.
              If the contents of the Bible has not yet been proved to your satisfaction (if that were ever possible since you show marked bias by your references to it being a magic book and fan fiction) then you should be reserving judgment on it and not making childish comments indicating that you are not willing to consider it’s truth.
              All the best.

              @Bill
              If you do some research on the historicity and reliability of OT manuscripts you will find your answers – here is a short piece from livescience.com:
              Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing — an inscription dating from the 10th century B.C., during the period of King David’s reign.

              The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible’s Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.)

              Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further. But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older, scientists announced this month.

              As for expecting there to be evidence from 1st century Roman history regarding the miracles, teachings, and death of Christ (not sure there would be anything in their records of his resurrection) , yes, one would think there should be non-biblical evidence and I need to check this out.

              @Sunny Day.
              You haven’t changed I see.

            • Rich

              @Troutbane
              I hope this section from Matthew Henry’s commentary will throw some light on the prophetic nature of Genesis 3:15 and that you can see the connection from it, and that it actually does make sense as pointing to Christ. Many of the other prophecies are much clearer, for example, Messiah would be sent to heal the brokenhearted: OT prophecy Isaiah 61:1-2 NT fulfilment Luke 4:18-19 .
              Please look at all the prophecies together and don’t throw them all out because one is difficult to understand.

              From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary : Genesis 3:14,15.
              God passes sentence; and he begins where the sin began, with the serpent. The devil’s instruments must share in the devil’s punishments. Under the cover of the serpent, the devil is sentenced to be degraded and accursed of God; detested and abhorred of all mankind: also to be destroyed and ruined at last by the great Redeemer, signified by the breaking of his head. War is proclaimed between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. It is the fruit of this enmity, that there is a continual warfare between grace and corruption, in the hearts of God’s people. Satan, by their corruptions, buffets them, sifts them, and seeks to devour them. Heaven and hell can never be reconciled, nor light and darkness; no more can Satan and a sanctified soul. Also, there is a continual struggle between the wicked and the godly in this world. A gracious promise is here made of Christ, as the Deliverer of fallen man from the power of Satan. Here was the drawn of the gospel day: no sooner was the wound given, than the remedy was provided and revealed. This gracious revelation of a Saviour came unasked, and unlooked for. Without a revelation of mercy, giving some hope of forgiveness, the convinced sinner would sink into despair, and be hardened. By faith in this promise, our first parents, and the patriarchs before the flood, were justified and saved. Notice is given concerning Christ. 1. His incarnation, or coming in the flesh. It speaks great encouragement to sinners, that their Saviour is the Seed of the woman, bone of our bone, Hebrews 2:11,14. 2. His sufferings and death; pointed at in Satan’s bruising his heel, that is, his human nature. And Christ’s sufferings are continued in the sufferings of the saints for his name. The devil tempts them, persecutes and slays them; and so bruises the heel of Christ, who is afflicted in their afflictions. But while the heel is bruised on earth, the Head is in heaven. 3. His victory over Satan thereby. Christ baffled Satan’s temptations, rescued souls out of his hands. By his death he gave a fatal blow to the devil’s kingdom, a wound to the head of this serpent that cannot be healed. As the gospel gains ground, Satan falls.

            • Bill

              “If you do some research on the historicity and reliability of OT manuscripts you will find your answers”

              I’ve looked. It is neither historical nor reliable.

              You however claim to have evidence that it is. Somehow you keep coming up short on presentation though.

          • Troutbane

            Rich,
            Just in regards to what I said about that first proof of prophecy:
            Are you that fucking dense, really? Do you really think I won’t look up the shit you just said:
            Genesis 3:15 KJV:
            “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
            Genesis 3:15 NIV:
            “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[a] and hers;
            he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
            How the holy fuck can this be interpreted as “Messiah would be born of a woman”. How? Please explain how this means that in the future a messiah will be born of a woman and just a woman? How? I know that there is a particular thought concerning how this means that, so why don’t you explain it, because, to me, it the most utterly total bullshit since it is referring to the snake which tricked Eve into eating the apple. If you even take a cursory glance at the surrounding passages this is beyond utterly clear, and this is one of those bullshit proofs which someone claimed years ago and which still circulates.
            This is NOT a prophecy!

            All that aside you are STILL unable to understand that we here agree with you that portions of the Bible as historical may in fact be true. Its the magical stuff that has no outside proof that we doubt. For some insane reason, your brain cannot accept that. Its like if you watched episodes of Star Trek , and, because they mention Earth and humans in it, it must all be true and an accurate depiction of the future.

            • Troutbane

              Rich:
              Amazingly good (and unoriginal) word salad to attempt to claim something is there that isn’t. This passage has been so over hyped and interpreted that the only way it works is to basically rewrite everything it says.
              The original passage literally was about people not liking snakes. Its a creation story. It is not about Lucifer or Satan despite what some church leaders proclaim. They basically went back and said serpent = the Devil because it was a method of reconciling issues and giving a name to the serpent. This is basically the same as a tale about “How the Elephant Got His Trunk”. Its a Bronze Age creation myth hyped up to try and make other unrelated passages more relevant. And NOWHERE does it mention a savior. It mentions descendants. Born from women. Like EVERY human being ever born. Its not about a virginal messiah, its about humans. You have to perform so many mental gymnastics to link this back to a messiah, Im surprised every Biblical scholar who backs this claim isnt in the Olympics.
              The fact you have to have Biblical Scholars interpret this shit for you means that you have no argument on your own for why this is a prophecy and also that this “clear” book is nothing more then disjointed jumbled stories that require a biased mental frame to say shit it doesnt say.
              And you STILL havent provided any non-Biblical proofs of Jesus magic. All Im doing here is pointing out how crappy even the intrepreted logic is for this fairy tale book. Whether it is about a messiah or isn’t that does nothing to prove that some guy in Judea fulfilled these and then walked on water.

            • Rich

              @Troutbane.
              Why is it that you call the Bible a fairy tale book. Smacks of bias, and pre-judging the issue.
              What I would expect a person of reason who is enthusiastic to gain knowledge and is not a theist to say is “I don’t know if the Bible is true on the basis of the evidence which I have seen. If evidence comes to light to show the Bible is true I will believe it.”
              But you and others on here are so quick to spout your “fairy tales and magic” rhetoric that you don’t come across as even being open to consider that it may not be so.
              And you have a problem, because the life of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament involves miracles of healing, having authority over the weather, having the ability to frustrate physical laws such as when he walked on the water, forgiveness of sins, and resurrection from the dead, which are supranatural. Therefore, on the basis that gathering evidence is a logical procedure, do you expect that it could be possible to obtain evidence for illogical events??
              Perhaps it is possible, for example, each disciple who saw Jesus walking on the water
              could have written an account of what happened, and those accounts could have survived so as to provide eye-witness evidence, but would that evidence be accepted as proof that Jesus actually walked on the water, or more likely, would it be met with skepticism because to walk on water is illogical?
              And I would suggest, in regard to the verse you picked out for special attention- one verse which is difficult to connect with the Messiah being born of a woman, out of 44 OT prophecies, that it is unreasonable to then ignore all the others. Isaiah 7:14 is very clear ” Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” , substantiated by Matthew 1:22-23 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
              And in any case, it is important to consider the symbolic aspects in the Bible, and to separate these from the literal aspects, so it’s not an altogether straightforward process to assess the Bible’s validity as if it should be read straight through with no need for clarification or explanation.
              By the way I am aware that you have asked for non-biblical proofs of what you refer to as Jesus “magic” and I intend to see if I can find anything which could be of interest to you because one would think on the face of it that there should be some record but I wonder if any records would have been suppressed by the Romans because Jesus and his followers were perceived to be a threat, mistakenly believing that they were dealing with a political organisation, and they quite likely wanted to sweep the details under the carpet.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              In the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Rich, look up the word ‘bias’ in a dictionary. My socks have a better idea of how to interpret historical sources than you. How many times does the point have to be made to you that you can’t just take an author’s word for it if that author has a clear conflict of interest and was clearly not an eye-witness and has no third party support for his claims whatsoever? Should we all start believing in the Force yet?

            • Rich

              The force is total fiction, not found in any records which could be authentically historical.

            • Bill

              “The force is total fiction, not found in any records which could be authentically historical.”

              You don’t like “The Force” because of a lack of historical accuracy? Well can we count on your belief in the following texts, all of which have as much historical accuracy as your Bible?

              The Tipitaka
              The Book of Mormon
              The Mabinogion
              The Book of the Dead
              The Homeric Hymns
              The Chaitanya Bhagavata
              The Quran
              The Torah
              The Guru Granth Sahib

            • Rich

              @Bill
              Could you please then provide comprehensive evidence that all OT manuscripts are not historical or reliable – it’s not good enough just to say you haven’t found any.

            • Troutbane

              Rich,
              I am pounding point one home because it was the first one. I dont need to skip to number 2 yet until number 1 is satisfied. Dont start skipping to other prophecies, focus on one at a time. I will give you a hint now, most of these have been analyzed on this site and debunked.

              “I don’t know if the Bible is true on the basis of the evidence which I have seen.”
              I have seen evidence that the Bible has contradictions and historical falsehoods, therefore I disagree with this statement.
              ” If evidence comes to light to show the Bible is true I will believe it.”
              Read what I say very slowly, I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT. Please reread that again and again and again.
              The trouble with claiming “magic” is that you have no proof. PROOF. Not religous statements. Not stories you have read, but actual PROOF. You have a series of stories written down years or centuries after the events described not backed up by any other contemporary culture’s historical records. Some of this crap was even stolen from other culture’s myths that we can historically document existed before the ancient Hebrews came onto the scene.

              And Im gonna call bullshit on the literal versus symbolic crap. We call John C on it, we will call you on it. Its a cop out because it means you can make the Bible say anything you want by claiming symbolism when it disagrees with you and literal when it agrees.

            • Troutbane

              “Could you please then provide comprehensive evidence that all OT manuscripts are not historical or reliable ”
              Rich, you are a fucking idiot. We keep saying that not EVERYTHING in the Bible is made up. There is SOME historical stuff in there. Some of the events described maybe happened (maybe not exactly as the Bible suggested). But just because the books say, mention Egypt, and Egypt was a real nation and maybe there were even some Semmitic slaves lived there and maybe even escaped, doesnt mean then that Moses parted the fucking Red Sea.
              Besides, it is up to the person MAKING the claim that something happened to then PROVE the claim. You cannot prove a negative.
              Youre an idiot.

            • Bill

              @Rich

              Let’s start with the creation story. Thanks to the wonders of carbon dating, we now know that all life was not created within a few days.

              Oh yes, and the whole “earth is 6,000 years old” thing. (Follow the “begats” my friend.) The lack of archeological/geological evidence supporting a world wide flood. (Never mind the scientific impossibility of getting two of every species on earth in the Ark described.) The lack of any archeological evidence supporting the exodus.

              And those are just some of the big items. When you look at some of the more minute details (Like the Phillistines not existing in Canaan at the time claimed in genesis; The lack of actual domesticated camels in the near east at the time the Bible claims etc..) it becomes clear that whetever this book is, it is not a history text.

              Combine that with the lack of scientific reliability, (the sun moving around the earth, the exitence of dragons etc…) and it becomes very clear that as a statement of facts this is not a reliable text.

              Now you may be sitting there saying: “But you’ve failed to show every word of the OT is historically false. It mentions Jerusalem and we know that exists. It mentions Kind David and we know he was real.” While techincally true, the reason we know those things is because they are independently verified OUTSIDE of the Bible. What we are asking for is that kind of proof. You just don’t seem to want to provide it.

              Moreover, there comes a point when the innacuracy of a large portion of a text requires you to question the accuracy of the entire text. If this is the innerant word of god – as Christians claim – surely it should do better than getting something like a world wide flood wrong.

            • Rich

              Troutbane,
              Bill stated that he had done the research and found the OT manuscripts to be neither historical nor reliable.
              He didn’t hint that they were even partially historical.
              You people are contradicting each other which doesn’t look good.
              There is a problem in putting your “faith” as it were – in evidence

            • Bill

              “Bill stated that he had done the research and found the OT manuscripts to be neither historical nor reliable.
              He didn’t hint that they were even partially historical.”

              Yeah – I didn’t say there was no history either. I’ve addressed your question above. Now please provide us the evidence

              “You people are contradicting each other which doesn’t look good.
              There is a problem in putting your “faith” as it were – in evidence”

              We really aren’t. We are all saying that the lack of historical reliability in the Bible leads us to distrust it as a reliable source.

              Faith and evidence are the opposite of one another, so your last statement makes no sense.

              Are you ever going to provide the evidence you claimed exists?

            • Rich

              …..in evidence, because evidence can be incomplete, unavailable, incorrect, and fallible owing to human error.
              With evidence you are establishing the PROBABILITY that something happened which is based on human reasoning, which is fine for what it is , but you are NOT establishing whether something is TRUE, and I will say again that you as atheists fully accept that you cannot make any statement with ABSOLUTE certainty, because you don’t deal in immutable truth.
              The probability that someone can be raised from the dead, for example, is NIL using human logic, but I maintain that certain people, including Jesus Christ, HAVE been raised from the dead. That kind of thing can’t be verified in the normal logical scientific way.

            • Bill

              OK, now I’m done with you too.

              Look, evidence has its linmitations, but it is the most reliable methodology for determining what is true. What you seem to be missing is that fallibility, potential unrealiability etc… doesn’t bother. We accept that in the future new evidence may come to light and we may have to change our views. We are ok with that. The evolution of human thought through the evaluation of evidence has led to tremendous advances.

              I find your desire for absolute certainty ironic. There is a greater probability of the truth of our position than yours because we have evaluated the evidence supporting it. Without that evidence, you have no support for your position. You’re just telling us what you think, not what’s true. (You can “maintain” whatever you like. That doesn’t make it true.) In other words, our position is a hell of a lot closer to absolute truth than yours.yet you are the one who claims absolutes matter.

              It appears you came here to convince us of the truth of your position. We are open to hearing it, and we told you how you can convince us. Provide the evidence supporting what you say. Your failure to do so is disappointing.

            • Troutbane

              Rich,
              Would you accept that the following is true without external unbiased evidence?

              According to the Haedong Kosung-jon, in the year 527, when Ichadon was executed in Korea, “the earth shook, the sun was darkened, beautiful flowers rained from the sky, his severed head flew to the sacred Geumgang mountains, and milk instead of blood sprayed 100 feet in the air from his beheaded corpse”.
              http://www.sherwinvjones.com/gyeongjublog/2010/03/martyrdom-of-i-cha-don/

              If not, then what you are engaging in is special pleading, specifically that the level of reliability of evidence that you would accept to back up a claim as true differ from one situation (Christianity/Judaism) to another (Buddhism). Special pleading is a logical fallacy and in my opinion the ass hattiest of the logical fallacies.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Rich, why do you consider the Force to be complete fiction? Think hard about that one and get back to us when you manage to see the wood for the trees.

              And if that’s too taxing, what about Harry Potter? It has a real place in it (Britain) and real institutions (the Westminster Parliament, King’s Cross Station) and real people (the UK Prime Minister) who really did come to power on the date implied in the text. Explain why we shouldn’t therefore assume Harry Potter was a real wizard capable of coming back from the dead.

            • Nox

              (1/2)
              (Apologies for the lack of brevity owing to being asked to explain something I’ve already explained. Not trying to take over the thread. Just trying to avoid any possibility of confusion. And recent events on this thread have convinced me all of this does need to actually be spelled out.)

              “And that if the Jesus of the New Testament never acted in any way or never claimed to be anything which contradicted physical laws you would be more likely to accept the possibility that he was a real man of history?”

              Contradicting physical laws is a very, very small part of what I meant by impossible. Water into wine isn’t a problem if you already accept you’re reading a story about someone with matter altering superpowers.

              What I’m saying is, if our only sources for his existence weren’t so full of errors, bias and flagrant lies, I would have significantly more confidence in the possibility that he was a real man of history.

              And I’ve said a few times on this thread I do accept it as a possibility. I’m just not going to play along with you trying to conflate that possibility with other less possible things.

              The logical connection between historical Jesus and bible character Jesus only works in one direction. Some Jesus needs to have existed in order for christ to have existed.

              So I can see why you’re concerned with getting me to admit he really existed. But how far do you really think that gets you?

              If some Jesus did exist that does not in itself mean he was christ.

              Regardless of whether Jesus was a real person, the new testament still cannot be an accurate reflection of any real person. He is either a real person the new testament authors lied about, or an unreal person the new testament authors made up and lied about.

              “I have read quite a few of the verses.”

              No you didn’t.

              “I am saying that I believe he was a real man of history and also Jesus the Christ as laid down in the NT, partially because the many prophecies of a Messiah in the OT time period were fulfilled precisely in Jesus Christ”

              “The books of the Old Testament contain many passages about the Messiah—all prophecies Jesus Christ fulfilled.”

              Not even f*cking close.

              It is true enough that the new testament says Jesus fulfilled some prophecies from the old testament. Repeatedly throughout the four gospels we see Jesus say or do some thing, and then the narrator tells us Jesus said or did this thing so that something would be fulfilled which was spoken of by the prophets.

              The problem here, is that we can actually look up the passages the new testament authors claim to be quoting from and see that not one of these passages is about what Matthew says it is about. Repeatedly the gospels tell us that some event in Jesus’ life was a fulfillment of some old testament prophecy. But when we read the actual ‘prophecies’ it becomes clear that most don’t say what they’re quoted as saying, none make any mention of Jesus at all, most are clearly about something besides Jesus, most are not even predictions, and the ones which are contain conditions which rule out Jesus.

              If you’re not going to read this link, you should at least check out Matthew 1:18-23 and Isaiah 7:1-17 for a fairly obvious example of what I’m talking about.

              “partially because most of the world uses a calendar in which the number of the year is the number of years since Jesus’ birth, which would be incredibly unlikely if he had never existed”

              Not really the world. The former roman empire and its offshoots. And the Jesus based calendar wasn’t even adopted until two hundred years after the roman empire converted to christianity. An abbott in the 6th Century decided the year of Jesus’ birth.

              Dionysius surely believed Jesus existed. But like Tacitus and Paul he was in no position to know.

              “and very importantly you are throwing out the massive massive evidence of the thousands of NT manuscripts themselves on the basis that they were written by “crazy religious people”

              The manuscript argument that you are trying to copy here was intended to answer a completely different question. It is intended to demonstrate that the gospels were not changed over time.

              It doesn’t demonstrate that since the “thousands of manuscripts” figure is arrived at by counting manuscripts from the middle ages and later. A thousand years after Jesus the church had teams of scribes copying the already established scripture. So now we have a lot of copies of their work. Doesn’t retroactively make the source more reliable.

              The oldest manuscript we have for any of the gospels (the P52 Document) is a scrap of papyrus from the first half of the 2nd Century. It is about the size of a cocktail napkin with fragments of seven verses and nothing more. The oldest almost complete manuscript we have (the P66 Document) is from around the end of the 2nd Century and contains slightly less than one gospel.

              But even if what those apologists told you were true, that would only reflect on whether the gospels had been changed since they were originally written. The number and quality of manuscripts does not reflect at all on whether the original writer was telling the truth.

              “Can I just clarify something – are you saying that you consider that most people who ever lived are mythological?”

              No. Unless you and I are using completely different definitions of “mythological”, I don’t see how you could possibly get this out of what I said. Troutbane and JohnMWhite already addressed this (thanks guys), but no I don’t think most people who ever lived are mythological. That is not something I said or a reasonable interpretation of anything I said.

              I do think most people who ever lived are unrecorded. Most were not recorded in any historical account (which is only part of the problem with Jesus), most were forgotten shortly after their deaths, and a great many have decomposed completely by now. So there is now no direct evidence for most individual people who have ever lived (even if the existence of their descendants implies some ancestor must have existed).

              And most of them we should logically expect to have not been recorded whether they existed or not. There is no reason to suspect there would be any contemporary documentation of a random slave in Sumeria (this defense doesn’t work with Jesus since there should have been some record of him if he existed, at least if his ministry was anywhere near as successful as the new testament says it was).

              Being unrecorded is not the same thing as being mythological. A mythological character is one who is made up. And a mythologized character is one about whom things have been made up.

              George Washington, Alexander of Macedon, Julius Caesar, Muhammed, Joseph Smith, and William Shakespeare are all examples of real people who have been heavily mythologized. All of them existed. And all have had fictional details added to stories about them.

              Even though we have justifiable confidence that they did exist, we have to take into account the credibility of the source and the plausibility of the claim in trying to figure out who they were. When we look at primary sources which call Caesar a god, historians don’t usually accept the god part or completely discard the source. Real people can still be lied about.

              Anyone can say anything about anyone. That doesn’t make everything anyone says true. I could say right now that Jesus scored 22 points in the Knicks-Celtics game last week. In saying this I would be further mythologizing Jesus. You would almost certainly classify that as a made up detail.

              Matthew and Luke, which are both based on Mark, contain details not found in Mark. Since this suggests those details were added to the story after its initial composition, I would probably classify those as made up details. All four contain details ripped off from earlier dying and rising savior characters. Since these parts were not about Jesus in the first place and were only added to his story to make him sound more impressive to pagans, I would also classify those as made up details.

              You already believe some people have added untrue stories to their accounts of Jesus. Most likely you believe this about all the christians whose interpretation of Jesus is different from yours. You and I only disagree on how much of the Jesus story is bullsh*t.

              When I said Jesus was so mythologized as to be rendered totally mythological, I meant such a majority of the details of his biography are made up that we can never hope to know anything about the real man if he did exist.

              That is not the same thing as being definitely made up from the beginning. It’s just that any real person that might be in there has been utterly overwhelmed by the things which have been made up about him.

              All parts of the Jesus stories in the new testament now fall cleanly into two categories. (1) Things which might be true which we have no reason to think are true and can never possibly verify. And (2) things which are definitely not true.

              Since the entire argument for the existence of Jesus is the credibility of the new testament, and the entire argument for the credibility of the new testament is ‘you should just take its word, it’s the infallible word of god’, the presence of any definitely not true things is a problem.

              If the gospels can not be relied upon to tell us who Jesus was, how can we ever have any idea who Jesus was?

              I don’t expect you to think this is a problem since you believe the gospels are a reliable way to know Jesus (and presumably do not believe they contain untrue things) (even though I just gave you several examples).

              When you remove all the stuff that is definitely untrue or probably untrue, or the stuff we can actually see being added on to the story through the different versions, and temporarily set aside the stuff the gospels disagree irreconcilably about, the Jesus story you’re left with is ‘there was this guy and he did some stuff’ (and even that is based on the word of people who didn’t have any way of knowing). What are we supposed to do with that?

              If Jesus was not the messiah, if Jesus was not the son of god, if Jesus did not fulfill those prophecies, if Jesus was not born of a virgin, if Jesus did not heal the blind and lame and cast out demons, if Jesus did not ever say the things he is quoted as saying in the gospels, if Jesus did not die on the cross and rise from the dead, then what the f*ck does it even mean to say Jesus existed?

              Some guy existed? Okay I guess. Some guys exist sometimes. There was a jewish leader who pissed off the romans and got executed? There were actually a few of those. What does that tell us?

              Again, I don’t expect you to think this is much of a problem since you still do think Jesus did all these things. But you only think that because someone who didn’t know told you and you accepted it as true without checking.

              And what documentary record there is seems to suggest that is what christians have been doing since the beginning.

              You believe Jesus is real because someone who never saw him told you he was real. That person believed Jesus was real because someone who never saw Jesus told them he was real. That person in turn believed because someone who never saw Jesus told them.

              The second generation of christians believed Jesus was real because the first generation who never saw Jesus told them he was real. And the first generation of christians believed Jesus was real mostly because Paul told them.

              And how did Paul know Jesus was real? He had a dream about Jesus.

              The book of Acts explicitly says Paul got his knowledge of Jesus from a vision (a dream) he had about Jesus. And in the vision, Paul didn’t know who Jesus was. That would be the same Paul who is our earliest source for this character, as well as the man who wrote most of the new testament and was pretty much in charge of determining doctrine for the early church and telling the rest of us who Jesus was.

              The people who wrote the gospels would have been further removed than Paul. There is no reason to believe any of them ever saw Jesus themselves.

              If these people (who wrote fourty to ninety years after 33 AD) did not ever see Jesus themselves they are not in a position to know if Jesus ever actually existed (and not in a position to tell us who he was).

              They didn’t know whether he did the things they describe him doing. They didn’t know whether he said the things they quote him as saying.

              You have probably been told in church the gospels were eye witness acounts. That is just one more thing your church has lied to you about.

              In addition to containing internal evidence that they are not the accounts of witnesses, the gospels do not ever claim to be the accounts of witnesses. Remember that the gospels are anonymous. They do not ever say ‘this was written by Matthew’, or ‘this was written by John’. The names were added arbitrarily long after the last one was written.

              Priests assigned authors to these gospels so they wouldn’t be anonymous anymore, in an attempt to make them more credible. But the names they added do not really help with that.

              The apostle Matthew would not have been present during the most important parts of the gospel of Matthew. Matthew doesn’t even meet Jesus until chapter 9. That’s a few chapters after “Matthew” transcribes a three page speech from Jesus (the Sermon on the Mount).

              The book of Matthew does not portray the apostle Matthew going along on all those private conversations between Jesus, Peter and John that Matthew records. Nor does it claim the apostle Matthew was with Jesus at his trial, nor at the cross, nor at his tomb, nor in the room when the guards are talking to the Sadducees, nor with Joseph when he was talking to the angel. Yet Matthew relates all these conversations and events in the third person omniscient perspective (as though he were there, or as though he were making up a story with no concern for accuracy or logic).

              Mark and Luke are nowhere to be found during Jesus’ lifetime. There is no place in any of the gospels where either of these two men are mentioned at all.

              The names Mark and Luke are derived from the letters of Paul. What Paul indicates and christian tradition states is that both of them were converted by Paul (in Mark’s case that would be Paul via Barnabus).

              So whatever knowledge Mark and Luke would have had about Jesus they would have received from Paul. And whatever “knowledge” Paul would have had about Jesus, he got from a dream. If the gospels of Mark and Luke really were the accounts of Jesus written by Mark and Luke, they would be hearsay, not the accounts of eyewitnesses.

              The book of John is claimed to have been written by the apostle John. And if it were that would be a way around some of the problems with the other three. But the author of John (who was almost certainly not jewish and never actually identifies himself as the apostle John) doesn’t tell us what Jesus said to him and Peter.

              In fact, prior to the last supper (which John gives a completely different account of) he doesn’t seem to remember any of the events mentioned in the other gospels.

              Unlike the alleged author of John, the alleged authors of Matthew, Mark, and Luke would not have been anywhere near Jesus during the sermon on the mount, or in the garden of Gethsemenee. None of these men would have been on the Mount of Olives during the transfiguration. None of the three would have been anywhere near the cross when Jesus died (though unlike Mark and Luke, Matthew would have been one of the very few people to ever see Jesus after his resurrection). None of the four would have been at his trial or out in the wilderness while he was talking to Satan.

              Yet they all write about these events as persons who were there, even going so far as to transcribe intricate conversations that they could not possibly have heard. But John, who along with Peter, should have known the most about these events is conspicuously silent.

              John says many words about Jesus. But it’s very sparse on biographical details. John’s Jesus exists to be a sacrifice and to be a mouthpiece for the sacrificial theology that is the main message of John (see John 3:16 for a summary of this theology).

              In John’s account, the spelling out of this sacrifice and its implications was the biggest part of Jesus’ teachings during his life. Contrast this with Mark’s Jesus who made such a big deal out of keeping it secret from everyone, Luke’s Jesus who spells it out for the twelve apostles, or Matthew’s Jesus who leaves ten in the dark and privately explains a very different version of his prophecied death to Peter and John.

              Matthew tells us John was at the sermon on the mount. John doesn’t mention it. Matthew tells us John was present at the transfiguration. John does not. Matthew tells us John was with Jesus in the garden. John doesn’t remember.

              Matthew, Mark and Luke tell significantly different versions of the same story. John tells a completely f*cking unrelated story.

              Any story coming to us from four bickering witnesses who weren’t there would be highly suspicious. The sloppy method by which Jesus’ biography and teaching were preserved isn’t one of the verifiable reasons the gospels aren’t true. But it is still something that reflects negatively. Is that how a perfect being would choose to preserve his message? Leave it to people he never talked to directly to write down conflicting versions after he left.

              If there weren’t so many visible errors in the gospels, this would still be a f*cking huge leap of faith. With such a thin string connecting Jesus to christ, the only way to believe the gospels are reliable is to believe people don’t ever believe falsehoods and pass them on as fact.

              Yet people do believe falsehoods and pass them on as facts. It happens all the time (including in this thread). In the internet age, we can fact check most things in seconds, and people still indiscriminately forward bullsh*t stories to each other without checking.

              Compared to how much effort it would have taken you to check that calendar thing or read Genesis 3, it would have been basically impossible for a christian living in Corinth two thousand years ago to find out what was happening in Jerusalem. You repeated numerous falsehoods here without even trying to check. Why is it so inconceivable for people who can’t check to do the same thing?

              But as I said, this isn’t one of the verifiable reasons the gospels aren’t entirely true. This is only one of the reasons the gospels lack the necessary credibility for their extraordinary claims. The verifiable reasons the gospels aren’t entirely true are the things the gospels say which are verifiably untrue.

              These can be broken into two categories, contradictions and errors (the following list will be mostly focused on internal contradictions).

              There are places where one biblical account disagrees with another. In these cases, even though we don’t know what really happened, we can still say with justified certainty that they can’t both be right. They can both be wrong. But they can’t both be right.

              There are places where one or more biblical account contains crippling plot holes, basic logical errors, indefensible theology, or incorrect statements about real people and places. Here the problem is not the bible contradicting itself, but the bible contradicting reality.

              I realize I’m making a lot of assertions that probably seem completely out of left field to you. I mean, errors in the bible? Who ever heard of such a thing.

              Of course I wouldn’t ask you to take my word for any of this. I assume you do own a bible and can check my claims for yourself. As someone who considers the new testament to be completely true, surely you’ll take the new testament’s word for this. So let me give you a few examples…

            • Nox

              (2/2)
              In the first verses of the new testament Matthew gives us a genealogy (of Jesus’ stepfather) which already contradicts the 1st Chronicles version of this same genealogy. Then in Luke 3, Luke gives us another version of Joseph’s paternal lineage. Luke lists 42 generations where Matthew claims there should be 28. Matthew says Jesus was descended from David through Solomon. Luke says Jesus was descended from David through Nathan.

              And then there’s the virgin birth, which as you just saw was based on an incorrect reading of a prophecy in Isaiah. Unlike some later miracles, this does not admit to the possibility of witnesses. If it were true, only Mary would have really known. This detail is of course only mentioned by Matthew and Luke (Mark and John begin with Jesus’ baptism and tell us nothing of his childhood).

              Matthew and Luke give us slightly different versions. Luke starts with the divinely overseen conception of, not Jesus, but Jesus’ cousin John the baptist. Matthew mentions nothing of John’s birth or whether he is related to Jesus. Matthew mentions nothing of the shephards in Luke’s story, and Luke in turn makes no mention of the wise men in Matthew’s story (that last one’s not technically a contradiction, you just can’t get an entire nativity scene from any one gospel). Matthew has the angel appearing to Joseph to tell him his wife will conceive by the holy spirit. Luke has the angel appear to Mary and could be read as suggesting the angel impregnated Mary by a more traditional method.

              Herod killing all the children in Bethlehem is another detail which is only mentioned by Matthew (not Mark, not Luke, not John, not even Josephus mentions this). And even though Matthew 2 portrays him killing all those children in an attempt on Jesus’ life, later in Matthew 14 Herod doesn’t seem to have any idea who Jesus is.

              Matthew has Joseph living in Bethlehem (where Jesus is born at his house), then fleeing to Egypt then ending up in Nazareth after the death of Herod. Luke has Joseph living in Nazareth, going to Bethlehem (where Jesus is born at the stable of an inn) for the census that isn’t mentioned by Matthew, and then returning to Nazareth with no side trip to Egypt.

              Luke says that Caesar ordered this census to be carried out on the entire world. This never happened. The closest real world match is a local census of Syria and Judea that was conducted in 6 or 7 AD. Only roman citizens (as in not jews) were counted for that one, and there was nothing about returning to the hometown of your ancestors (which would be a nonsensical provision).

              Luke 1 and Matthew 2 tell us Jesus was born during the reign of Herod. Luke 2:2 tells us Jesus was born while Quirinius was governor of Syria. If both were true this would mean that Jesus was born before 4 BC but somehow still after 6 AD.

              After a brief interlude at the temple, Matthew and Luke skip forward 18 years and join the gospels of Mark and John already in progress. The earliest event which ties the four together is the baptism of Jesus. This story occurs in Matthew 3:1-17, Mark 1:7-12, Luke 3:2-22, and John 1:28-36. Matthew and Mark say this happened in Jordan. John says it happened in Bethebara. John says that John didn’t know Jesus, even though Luke says they were closely related. John does not even have Jesus being baptized, but simply paying a visit to John, so John can tell everyone he is the messiah. Matthew, Mark, and Luke have Jesus going immediately into the wilderness for fourty days after his baptism while John has him at a wedding in Cana three days later. At this point Mark tells us Jesus spends fourty days being tempted by the devil, while Matthew says Jesus fasted for fourty days before the devil came to him.

              Then Satan tempts Jesus by misquoting the old testament to Jesus, and Jesus responds by misquoting the old testament back at him (and this isn’t the last time we see him misquoting torah, in Matthew 19 he can only remember six of the six hundred thirteen commandments).

              While Satan is tempting Jesus he takes him to a high mountain where they can see the entire world (Luke literally says “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time”). This is one of the many statements in the bible which would only make sense if the Earth was flat.

              A couple more quick notes on John the Baptist. According to Jesus (Matthew 11:14), John was the reincarnation of Elijah. According to John (John 1:21) he was not. Matthew 4:12 states that John was in prison by the time Jesus came out of the wilderness and recruited his first apostles. This statement also occurs in Mark 1:14-17. But John 1:40 tells us that Andrew and Peter met Jesus through John. Three chapters later (John 3:24) (after Jesus has recruited more apostles) we are told “John was not yet cast into prison”.

              Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20 give similar enough accounts of Jesus recruiting his first apostles , but Luke 5:1-10, changes significant details, and John 1:35-42 is a completely different story from the other three. Matthew and Mark both agree that Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, and saw two brothers fishing at the shore. He tells Simon and Andrew that he will make them fishers of men. They drop their nets and follow him. After Jesus, Simon, and Andrew walk a little further down the beach they see two more fishermen, John and James, the sons of Zebedee. He calls them and they become the 3rd and 4th apostles. Luke tells us that James and John already knew Peter and Andrew, and were partners in some sort of fishing venture before any of the 4 men met Jesus. And he changes the setting of the story from the shore of the Sea of Galilee to aboard a boat at sea on the lake of Gennesaret. John has Andrew already following John the Baptist before he meets Jesus. Andrew follows Jesus and converses with him then goes to get his brother Simon (Peter) and bring him to Jesus. These are not just different details. These are different stories (and the three which list all twelve apostles give different lists).

              After this Matthew has Jesus delivering his version of the sermon on the mount (in Luke’s version the location and the sermon are changed). After this Matthew has Jesus meeting Matthew.

              In between these events (in Matthew 8) we read of a centurion who came to see Jesus to request his dying servant be healed. Jesus tells the centurion he will go to his house to heal the servant, but the centurion tells Jesus he is powerful enough to heal his servant from there with just a word. Jesus does this and goes on his way. In Luke 7:2-10 we read a slightly different account where the centurion sends the jewish elders to go get Jesus to help his dying servant. They get Jesus and he goes with them to the centurion’s house. When they get there, the centurion sends out some other servants to tell Jesus the house is not worthy to have him inside and to just heal the dying servant from outside. Jesus does this and goes on his way. Neither Mark nor John ever mention anything about this incident.

              In the next chapter (9) of Matthew we read of another miracle healing, and once again Luke (8) tells a different story. Luke and Mark tell us Jairus’ daughter was dying and Jesus healed her. Matthew tells us she was already dead before Jesus brought her back to life.

              In Luke 7, right after Luke’s account of the centurion, Jesus brings another dead person back to life. It doesn’t give his name, but presumably it isn’t Lazarus since this guy was being carried out of his house when Jesus resurrected him. Then later in John, Jesus brings Lazarus (who had been in the tomb a few days) back to life. Then when he is crucified the bodies of several dead men come to life and appear to people in Jerusalem. Then a few days later Jesus comes back to life. In Acts 9 Peter brings Tabitha back to life. But then later in Acts 26 and his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul refers to Jesus as the first dead person to ever become alive (not counting the ghost of Samuel, this happens at least twice in the old testament).

              I sort of glossed over this in the last paragraph, but let’s actually take a moment to look at Matthew 27:53.
              51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
              52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
              53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

              Mark, Luke and John didn’t seem to notice this zombie invasion. Neither did anyone else.

              An equally bizarre claim can be seen in Matthew 16:27-28 and again in Matthew 24:34, where Jesus falsely predicts his second coming will occur two thousand years ago. He spells out the matthean end of the world story, tells people he’s going to come back to judge mankind and destroy everything. And then he tells his audience of 1st Century jews “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom”. Judging by the regularly predicted apocalypses, every generation of christians seems to have interpreted this as a personal message to them.

              Something most christians predictably do not consider to apply to themselves is Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 19:21. Something like “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven”. Right before this Jesus is asked how to secure one’s place in the kingdom. He says follow the six commandments (in Luke’s version he only mentions five), and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor. This is completely different from John’s criteria for entry which is all about being cleansed and has nothing to do with following any part of the Torah.

              Lose the possessions isn’t the hardest advice Jesus gives. In Matthew 19:12 Jesus seems to be advising his followers to castrate themselves. In Mark 16:18 he only tells them to drink poison and handle snakes.

              Back in Matthew 17, Jesus tells his disciples “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove”. This is one claim in the new testament that is completely testable. It is a test god consistently fails.

              This whole time John’s been off telling a completely separate story, but when Jesus gets to Jerusalem, the four accounts merge a little. Not to the point of being harmonious. Just to the point of talking about some of the same events. Not counting Jesus’ baptism (which doesn’t count for reasons outlined above) the first major event which is mentioned in all four gospels is the passover seder (or last supper).

              Mark describes an unorthodox passover seder with a couple recognizable elements from jewish tradition. Matthew and Luke less so, and John doesn’t even try (which makes some sense as John actually says in 18:28 and 19:14 the crucifixion took place before passover). Mark has Jesus only saying three lines here. Take this bread, take this wine, and one of these here will betray me (John devotes five chapters to its version of these three lines).

              Then they go to the Mount of Olives and have another conversation. Luke portrays this conversation on the mountain (plus an extra scene of the disciples bickering and Jesus telling them to serve each other and that they would sit in judgment of Israel with him)as happening in the room during dinner. After Jesus and his apostles leave the Mount of Olives, Mark has Jesus go to the garden with Peter, James and John to ask god for a different cup. Luke (22:39) portrays this prayer as happening on the Mount of Olives.

              Both portray Jesus’ arrest happening right after. So we get Jesus being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemene from Mark (also Matthew and John), and Jesus being arrested on the Mount of Olives from Luke.

              At Jesus’ arrest, Mark, Luke and Matthew have Judas identifying Jesus with a kiss. John has Jesus openly identifying himself. Earlier at the last supper, Matthew and John had Jesus openly identifying Judas as the betrayer, while Mark and Luke did not.

              In Matthew 27 we read one account of what happened to Judas. Judas goes back to the high priests and throwing the thirty pieces of silver on the floor, walking away and hanging himself. The priests use the money to buy a field, and Matthew uses the words “Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day“. According to Acts 1 Judas bought a field with the money he threw away in Matthew. Later while he is walking in the field he falls and dies.

              At his trial, Mark, Matthew and Luke portray Jesus not saying much and refusing to answer questions. John portrays Jesus giving a speech. All four portray his trial(s) as being presided over by different people in different orders, and being charged for different things.

              Matthew has Jesus being taken to Caiaphas right after his arrest and sent to Pilate the next day. Pilate doesn’t understand what Jesus is being charged with, but the people demand his death so he orders the crucifixion. John has Jesus being taken to Annas after his arrest instead of Caiaphas. Luke has Jesus being sent to Herod and then back to Pilate.

              All four resolve with Pilate agreeing to execute Jesus. Jesus is whipped (or maybe not) and John tells us he carried his cross up to Cavalry (Luke, Mark and Matthew have a man named Simon conscripted to help carry Jesus’ cross).

              All four describe Jesus being crucified, yet in the book of Acts (5:30, 10:39, and 13:29), both Peter and Paul state that his method of execution was hanging. And Peter is quoted as using the odd phrase “whom ye slew and hanged on a tree” while talking to the Pharisees.

              All four say there was a sign on Jesus’ cross. Matthew 27:37 and John 19:19 say Jesus’ name was on this sign. Mark 15:26 and Luke 23:38 say otherwise.

              According to Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 the others who were crucified with Jesus reviled him. Luke alone tells the story of the man who repents on the cross (how did Luke know this?). John says nothing of these other crucifixes except that they were crucified with Jesus.

              Matthew (27:34), Luke (23:36), and John (19:29) say the soldiers gave Jesus vinegar to drink while he was on the cross. Mark says it was wine mixed with myrrh.

              Matthew, Mark, and Luke all have Jesus on the cross at the sixth hour (noon). John has the sundial strike 12 while Jesus is in the judgment hall with Pilate.

              In Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:39 the centurion in charge of the crucifixion remarks “truly this was the son of god”. In Luke 23:47 this line is rendered as “truly this was a righteous man”. There is no parallel verse in John.

              Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 quote Jesus’ last words on the cross as the opening of Psalm 22 (“My god, my god, why have you forsaken me”). Luke 23:46 has Jesus saying “father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” and then immediately dying. John 19:30 has Jesus saying “it is finished” and then immediately dying.

              Matthew’s account says the moment of Jesus’ death was accompanied by an earthquake, the ripping of the temple veil and zombies roaming Jerusalem. John mentions none of this. Mark and Luke have the veil being ripped, but no earthquake or zombies.

              One of Jesus’ disciples, Joseph of Arimathaea requests the body of Jesus and places it in a tomb with a stone blocking the door. In Matthew’s version the priests are worried the disciples will steal the body (even though Matthew just told us they already have the body) so they have guards stationed outside the tomb.

              A couple days later some women (Mary Magdalene and the other Mary according to Matthew, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome according to Mark, Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them according to Luke, just Mary Magdalene according to John) go to the tomb.

              Mark, Luke and John have the Marys arriving at the tomb to find the stone already rolled away when they get there. Matthew, who added guards to the story has an angel come down from heaven and smite the guards, then remove the stone and sit on it.

              In all four stories there is some entity who tells the women Jesus isn’t there, but this takes four different forms. Matthew says one angel outside the tomb. The angel talks to the women right away (it’s fuzzy on whether they ever look in the tomb). Luke has them enter the tomb and not find Jesus then two men appear inside the tomb with them. Mark has one man already sitting there waiting for them when they go inside. John has Mary look inside and see two angels standing by where Jesus’ body was.

              In these four accounts the man/men/angel/angels give four different messages which Mary (and the others?) respond to quite differently. Matthew has the angel tell them ‘Jesus isn’t here, he is risen. Go tell his disciples’. Mary and Mary obey these instructions and go tell the disciples. Mark has the man say ‘Jesus isn’t here, he is risen. Go tell Peter’. Mary, Mary and Salome do not obey these instructions. They run away and don’t tell anyone.

              Luke has the two men say ‘why seek the living among the dead? Remember Jesus said he would come back?’. Mary, Mary and Joanna suddenly remember Jesus saying this. They go tell the disciples and Peter comes to look in the tomb.

              John has the two angels ask Mary Magdalene why she is crying. She tells them it is because someone has taken Jesus’ body. She turns around and sees Jesus standing there outside the tomb. Upon seeing Jesus, John 20:15 tells us Mary Magdalene thought he was the gardener.

              John and Matthew have Jesus appear to the eleven remaining apostles right after this. In the other two books, Jesus has a few more phantom appearances before manifesting to the eleven (as in the only eleven people aside from Mary that the gospels claim ever saw the risen Jesus).

              In Luke 24:13-31 Jesus appears to two of his followers. They don’t recognize him. He sits and talks with them for a few hours and they still don’t recognize him. Then they realize it is Jesus and he suddenly disappears.

              And then, in a closed room with no other witnesses, Jesus appears to the remaining eleven apostles.

              And that’s it.

              That’s the end of the story in all four gospels. Closed room. Eleven witnesses. Fade to black. End credits. And sometime later Paul tells some people in Corinth who wouldn’t be able to check that the risen Jesus was seen by five hundred people.

              I do not just randomly dismiss the new testament. The new testament is its own testimony against itself.

              So let’s say I do temporarily grant the historicity of Jesus.

              Keeping in mind that all these things I just mentioned are in the bible, and keeping in mind that I do already know about them and can’t be lied to, what reason could you give me to ever think the new testament might be an accurate record of Jesus?

            • Joseph O Polanco

              Concerning the Lukan and Matthean genealogies, there’s a facile explanation since every single human being has two complementary genealogies. Therefore, the dissemblance in nearly all the names in the Lukan genealogy of Jesus as compared with the Matthean is quickly resolved in the fact that Luke follows the stemma of Mary, thus showing Jesus’ natural descent from David, while Matthew shows Jesus’ droit juridique to the throne of David by descent from Solomon through Joseph, who was legally Jesus’ father.

              Both Matthew and Luke signify that Joseph was not Jesus’ actual father but only his adoptive father, giving him legal right. Matthew goes away from the approach used throughout his genealogy when he comes to Jesus, saying: “Jacob became father to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” (Mt 1:16) Notice that he does not say ‘Joseph became father to Jesus’ but that he was “the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born.” Luke is even more pointed when, after showing earlier that Jesus was actually the Son of God by Mary (Lu 1:32-35), he says: “Jesus . . . being the son, as the opinion was, of Joseph, son of Heli.”—Lu 3:23.

              Since Jesus was not the natural son of Joseph but was the Son of God, the Lukan genealogy of Jesus would prove that he was, by human birth, a son of David through his natural mother Mary. Regarding the genealogies of Jesus given by Matthew and by Luke, Frederic Louis Godet wrote: “This study of the text in detail leads us in this way to admit—1. That the genealogical register of Luke is that of Heli, the grandfather of Jesus; 2. That, this affiliation of Jesus by Heli being expressly opposed to His affiliation by Joseph, the document which he has preserved for us can be nothing else in his view than the genealogy of Jesus through Mary. But why does not Luke name Mary, and why pass immediately from Jesus to His grandfather? Ancient sentiment did not comport with the mention of the mother as the genealogical link. Among the Greeks a man was the son of his father, not of his mother; and among the Jews the adage was: ‘Genus matris non vocatur genus [“The descendant of the mother is not called (her) descendant”]’ (‘Baba bathra,’ 110, a).”—Commentary on Luke, 1981, p. 129.

              Actually each genealogy (the Matthean table and the Lukan) shows parentage from David, through Solomon and through Nathan. (Mt 1:6; Lu 3:31) In examining the lists of Matthew and Luke, we find that after diverging at Solomon and Nathan, they come together again in two persons, Shealtiel and Zerubbabel. This can be explained in the following way: Shealtiel was the son of Jeconiah; perhaps by marriage to the daughter of Neri he became Neri’s son-in-law, thus being called the “son of Neri.” It is possible as well that Neri had no sons, so that Shealtiel was counted as his “son” for that reason also. Zerubbabel, who was likely the actual son of Pedaiah, was legally reckoned as the son of Shealtiel, as stated earlier.—Compare Mt 1:12; Lu 3:27; 1Ch 3:17-19.

              Then the accounts indicate that Zerubbabel had two sons, Rhesa and Abiud, the lines diverging again at this point. (These could have been, not actual sons, but descendants, or one, at least, could have been a son-in-law. Compare 1Ch 3:19.) (Lu 3:27; Mt 1:13) Both the Matthean and the Lukan genealogies of Jesus digress here from that found in 1 Chronicles chapter 3. This may be because a number of names were purposely left out by Matthew and possibly also by Luke. But the fact should be kept in mind that such dissimilarities in the genealogical lists of Matthew and Luke are very likely those extant in the genealogical registers then in use and recognized by the Jews, not adjustments made by Matthew and Luke.

              We may rationally conclude, therefrom, that the two lists of Matthew and Luke concatenate two truths, to wit, (1) that Jesus was veritably the Son of God and the natural heir to the Kingdom by transcendent birth through the virgin girl Mary, of David’s line, and (2) that Jesus was also the legal heir in the male lineage from David and Solomon through his adoptive father Joseph. (Lu 1:32, 35; Ro 1:1-4) If there was any accusation made by hostile Jews that Jesus’ birth was illegitimate, the fact that Joseph, aware of the circumstances, married Mary and gave her the protection of his good name and royal kinship abrogates such slander.

              Remember too, the scribes and Pharisees as well as the Sadducees were vitriolic foes of Christianity, and they would have used any possible argument to expose Jesus to obloquy. Even so, it is compelling that they never impugned these genealogies. If either the Matthean or Lukan genealogies of Jesus had been falsified or erroneous, what an opportunity it would have been for these bitter oppugners to evince it then and there! For until 70 C.E. they evidently had ready access to the public genealogical registers and the Scriptures.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              Two registrations are mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures as taking place after Judea came under subjection to Rome. Such were not merely to ascertain population figures but, rather, were mainly for purposes of taxation and conscription of men for military service. Concerning the first of these we read: “Now in those days [c. 2 B.C.E.] a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus for all the inhabited earth to be registered; (this first registration took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria;) and all people went traveling to be registered, each one to his own city.” (Lu 2:1-3) This edict of the emperor proved providential, for it compelled Joseph and Mary to journey from the city of Nazareth to Bethlehem in spite of the fact that Mary was then heavy with child; thus Jesus was born in the city of David in fulfillment of prophecy.—Lu 2:4-7; Mic 5:2.

              Bible critics have said that the only census taken while Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was governor of Syria was about 6 C.E., which event sparked a rebellion by Judas the Galilean and the Zealots. (Ac 5:37) This was really the second registration under Quirinius, for inscriptions discovered at and near Antioch revealed that some years earlier Quirinius had served as the emperor’s legate in Syria. (The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, by W. Ramsay, 1979, pp. 285, 291) Concerning this, the Dictionnaire du Nouveau Testament in Crampon’s French Bible (1939 ed., p. 360) says: “The scholarly researches of Zumpt (Commentat. epigraph., II, 86-104; De Syria romana provincia, 97-98) and of Mommsen (Res gestae divi Augusti) place beyond doubt that Quirinius was twice governor of Syria.” Many scholars locate the time of Quirinius’ first governorship as somewhere between the years 4 and 1 B.C.E., probably from 3 to 2 B.C.E. Their method of arriving at these dates, however, is not solid, and the actual period of this governorship remains indefinite. His second governorship, however, included 6 C.E., according to details reported by Josephus.—Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 26 (ii, 1).

              So historian and Bible writer Luke was correct when he said concerning the registration at the time of Jesus’ birth: “This first registration took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria,” distinguishing it from the second, which occurred later under the same Quirinius and to which Gamaliel makes reference as reported by Luke at Acts 5:37. http://bit.ly/14nGVLe

            • Joseph O Polanco

              The text at Matthew 27:52, 53 concerning “the memorial tombs [that] were opened” as the result of an earthquake occurring at the time of Jesus’ death has caused considerable discussion, some holding that a resurrection occurred. However, a comparison with the texts concerning the resurrection makes clear that these verses do not describe a resurrection but merely a throwing of bodies out of their tombs, similar to incidents that have taken place in more recent times, as in Ecuador in 1949 and again in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1962, when 200 corpses in the cemetery were thrown out of their tombs by a violent earth tremor.—El Tiempo, Bogotá, Colombia, July 31, 1962.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              *applause*

              Good luck, Rich.

            • Jabster

              @JohnMWhite

              Rich will have an answer though … he’ll either reply but about something else or wait a bit and start replaying someone else in these thread as though these comments were never made.

              It really doesn’t matter what you say – Rich will just carry on regardless as frankly he’s a complete idiot.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Thanks, Jabster, that’s really helpful and not at all off-putting or liable to give the guy cover to throw up his hands and decide we’re only interested in insulting him so he shouldn’t bother even trying to tackle what Nox put an extraordinary amount of time and effort into.

            • UrsaMinor

              Yeah, I’m thinking Jabster could be replaced with a simple script that just calls everyone an idiot.

            • Jabster

              @JohnMWhite

              WTF are you on about … have you not read his replies. He’s not going to give you a straight answer so what do you think you’re achieving. Playing with some idiot isn’t exactly hard is it?

              @UrsaMinor

              Fuck off you twat … oh sorry that’s just the script.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Sigh.

            • Jabster

              @JohnMWhite

              Sigh what John?

              Let’s be honest here you think Rich is an idiot as much as I do so what do you think is going to happen from continuing to engage him. Do you honestly think that he’s going to suddenly throw his hands in the air and say you’re right your reasoned argument has convinced me of the errors of my ways. That’s not going to happen is it?

            • UrsaMinor

              I rest my case.

            • Jabster

              @UrsaMinor

              I called you a twat not an idiot …

            • Sunny Day

              I guess there’s only one right way to play with a chew toy who knows less about bias than Johns socks. Can you both write down those rules and post them someplace where the whole world can see and follow. That is, unless you are not completely done.

              Rich is using unlicensed and weapons-grade obliviousness. If Jabster’s repetition of what he has said in the past drives him away then he would have succeeded where all of your repetitions have failed in penetrating Rich’s skull.

              As for the work Nox has done, good for him! I’m glad to see him dust off an old post and swap out a few parts to get additional mileage out of something he has used before. Comparing Rich’s density to the others I expect it to perform about as well as its done in the past. Reading something from Nox is always enjoyable and its just how he plays with his chew toy.

            • Rich

              @Nox.
              I have to say I am impressed with the immense detail of your post, it appears you have put in a lot of time and effort, although it seems it’s information which you have previously supplied elsewhere (which is certainly no criticism).
              It took a while to read that huge entry and this response will only be brief, and I don’t think it is necessary to respond to each specific “error” that you have pointed out, but I would like to comment in a general sense regarding the lack of non-biblical evidence for the historical Jesus. I previously said that there was plenty of evidence in this regard, and listed Tacitus, Lucian, Seutonius etc, which was pointed out to be lacking as evidence because their writings were produced after the lifetime of Jesus. Admittedly, there IS a lack of documentary evidence OUTSIDE the Bible written in the lifetime of the historical Jesus. It would be amazing if there WAS an ancient record of Jesus outside of the Bible. Jesus lived over 2000 years ago. He is an ANCIENT figure from history, and there are some things that we need to remember about historical figures and events from this period of time:
              1. There are amazingly few manuscripts of ANY text written during Jesus’ time
              2. Historians of this period wrote amazingly little about religious figures anyway
              3. Jesus was active for an amazingly short period of time (just three years)
              4. Jesus ministered in an amazingly remote corner of the Roman Empire

              I believe that a man called Jesus lived, and that he is the Christ, but I know that under your definition of what counts as evidence, there is not enough of it to convince you.

              In regard to your detailed list of NT references indicating “errors” in the gospels, I would put it to you that, an evidence that the gospels are true (whether or not they were written by Matthew, Mark , Luke and John – and it seems they were not) is that the details of the same events in the different gospels differ. If each gospel was basically exactly the same, word for word, it would suggest more that they were made-up, in the attempt to appear authentic. To give an illustration, I work in a hospital with young people with mental health issues and learning disabilities; often there are incidents where a young person “kicks off” and exhibits physical and/or verbal aggression. After each incident, staff must complete an Incident Analysis Form giving the exact details including the words that were said, the sequence of events, and the time that the incident started and finished. If four staff members had to individually complete the form, I guarantee that they would NOT tally in every detail, and could well contradict each other in places. This would NOT indicate that the incident had been fabricated, but actually suggests its authenticity.
              It’s reasonable to believe the same thing happened with the gospels. The four writers wrote down events as they saw them.

              All the best.

            • Troutbane

              “is that the details of the same events in the different gospels differ. ”

              So you admit the Bible has errors and contradictions in it? So then, what parts are to be believed as truth and which are not, and how do you make that determination?

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              “It would be amazing if there WAS an ancient record of Jesus outside of the Bible. Jesus lived over 2000 years ago”

              That’s awfully convenient. You truly believe that no third parties would have written down anything about a man who walked on water, changed water into wine, raised people from the dead, came back from the dead himself, whose death caused earthquakes and plagues of zombies in one of the most important cities of the ancient world, and whose birth brought about the mass slaughter of thousands and thousands of infants at the behest of a mad (and real) king? You don’t think that perhaps it is more likely that your source that comes from a movement that worships this person could not just be unreliable?

              And we have plenty of records for other people and events 2000 years ago and beyond. You can’t get off the hook simply by invoking age.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              As an aside, these parts just make my head hurt:

              “If each gospel was basically exactly the same, word for word, it would suggest more that they were made-up, in the attempt to appear authentic”

              That’s not how scholarship, history, evidence or reality work. Sorry. And you are presenting a false dichotomy here – it is not a choice between highly contradictory accounts that at times tell very different (sometimes mutually exclusive) stories and the same thing written four times word for word. There is a broad middle ground that could provide credibility. The fact that these stories disagree so strongly with one another cannot be argued to be evidence of credibility. Don’t even try it. You know better.

              “It’s reasonable to believe the same thing happened with the gospels. The four writers wrote down events as they saw them.”

              The four writers (there were actually more than four, the completed gospels are amalgamations of writings cobbled together over a lengthy period with different authors contributing) didn’t see the events. Not at all. You continue to miss the main point here – why should anybody give any credence to the contradictory writings of people who didn’t witness the events, were likely not even alive when they happened, and whose claims have zero back-up from any other source anywhere on Earth? It is the very opposite of reasonable to believe a word they say. If you want to give up and invoke faith (like you already did, so why you’re going back to reason now I do not know), fine, faith is just something some people end up with, like the flu. But you’re not going to get anywhere arguing black is white.

            • Nox

              JohnMWhite,

              Thank you.

              Jabster,

              Aside from changing the setting of the car crash argument used by most apologists from a street corner to a hospital, that was exactly
              what I thought Rich was going to say.

              Rich,

              So the fact that they’re lying just proves they’re telling the truth?

              When real incidents happen, people often do give conflicting accounts based on personal biases or where they were standing at the time.

              So I can see why it would be tempting to make this argument (assuming you just copied it from Josh McDowell without thinking about whether it makes any sense). But this doesn’t actually address the problem.

              Multiple witnesses giving conflicting accounts is an example of human error. A concept which doesn’t work very well with inerrancy.

              When two sources say two things that can’t both be true, this does not mean they are both telling the truth. It means one or more of them is wrong or lying.

              These different accounts don’t just tell different parts of the story. They don’t just focus on different details. They don’t just narrate from different perspectives. They say mutually exclusive things. To believe Matthew is to disbelieve Luke. To believe Mark is to ignore John.

              The only reason so many christians are able to think they simultaneously believe all four is because so many christians have never read your own f*cking holy book.

              “If each gospel was basically exactly the same, word for word, it would suggest more that they were made-up, in the attempt to appear authentic.”

              No. What that would mean is three of them were completely copied from the earliest. Also completely word for word copies would make three of them redundant. That’s not what anyone is asking for.

              They don’t need to be word for word. The problem isn’t that they aren’t word for word copies (there are places where they are, does this suggest they were made up). The problem is that they make conflicting claims.

              If one gospel said Jesus had a beard and another gospel said Jesus had a pet camel, those would be the type of differing details we could see in two completely true accounts. If one gospel said Jesus liked wine and another said Jesus lived in Nazareth, those would be the type of differing details we could see in two completely true accounts.

              If one gospel says his last words were “it is finished” and one says his last words were “father into your hands I commend my spirit”, then you are dealing with a square circle. There is no way both can be true.

              At least three out of four (and by all indications all four) must have been passing on corrupted information they had heard or making sh*t up.

              The similarities in the gospels and the possibility that they passed on what they heard would work against the possibility of the gospel writers making up Jesus from scratch. But we already know the gospel writers didn’t completely make up Jesus.

              Paul on the other hand (who wrote around twenty years before the earliest of the gospels), very well might have completely made up Jesus. And Paul tells us basically nothing about Jesus’ earthly life. Then around twenty to eighty years later, people who would have got their information about Jesus through Paul start writing biographies of Jesus.

              Biographies which get more detailed over time. The further these authors get from Jesus, the more they suddenly know about him. Almost as if they were working with the already existing story elements and adding in sh*t they made up along the way.

              If a story is comprised entirely of fictional accounts, it is no different from a fictional story. Which means our only sources for Jesus’ existence are fictional stories.

              That is on top of it already being a ridiculous story to begin with. If we ignore all the small specific problems and look at the larger story on its own terms, it is still nonsense.

              The tribal god of the jews (who stole most of the stories in Genesis from the babylonians) wanted to let people into heaven, but he couldn’t because he was still angry about man without knowledge of good and evil eating a piece of fruit a few thousand years earlier. He wanted to be able to forgive people for something someone else did before they were born. But he needed a blood sacrifice. He needed this to allow himself to forgive because he himself demanded there must be a blood sacrifice. So he decided the only way to satisfy his own demand for blood was for him to sacrifice himself to himself so that he could potentially forgive humans for being created guilty. Even by sacrificing himself to himself he could not save everyone from his own indiscriminate wrath. It is only those who are willing to believe this insane bullsh*t (and willing to accept an innocent man being punished for their actions) who can avoid the blind wrath of a vengeful god through the blind protection of a loving god.

              Isn’t that essentially what you’re saying when you say Jesus was “the Christ”?

              “I don’t think it is necessary to respond to each specific “error” that you have pointed out.”

              If you’re going to continue asserting inerrancy or putting “error” in quotes, it kind of is necessary. But I don’t actually expect you to respond to each one (the only way you could is to claim the bible does not say what it clearly does say).

              I do expect (not actually expect, but you get what I mean) anyone who so loudly accuses others of prejudging an issue to actually look at evidence presented to them on the same issue, and not merely assume it is wrong because it does not conform with what they want to believe.

              At the very least you should read your own god damn bible and see for yourself what it says.

              Don’t take my word. But don’t just ignore what you have been shown. I gave you chapters and verses. If I’m wrong the bible will not corroborate what I have said. If you’re sure I’m wrong you shouldn’t be afraid of what you will find if you read the book.

              You made a lot of untrue claims here. I think most of them stemmed from being misinformed (mostly because I recognize them from popular christian apologetic literature). That is, you asserted what is not true because you thought it was true. You thought it was true because someone told you and you didn’t check. Now you have been shown conclusive evidence that many of your claims are not true.

              You can still lie. But you no longer have the option to honestly not know. And if you’re not going to address the evidence which has been shown to you it would be pretty dishonest if you just went out and made those same disproved claims to someone else.

              “1. There are amazingly few manuscripts of ANY text written during Jesus’ time.”

              In this context, “amazingly few” is a highly subjective number (in comparison the chinese have amazingly many original manuscripts from the 1st Century). Thanks to the time gap, the zealous book burning carried out by the christian church (and to a lesser degree muslims), and a few hundred major wars since 1 AD, we have no manuscripts for most texts written during Jesus’ time.

              But then no one is saying Aristotle is the son of god. He is right about the things he was right about and wrong about the things he was wrong about, regardless of who wrote his words. The Iliad’s value is literary. If Homer did not write it, it is still the same poem. We know Sun Tzu was at least three different people, but many of “his” observations still hold up.

              The bible is different. The bible absolutely needs to be authentic to possibly be what most christians say it is. If the gospels are not the accounts of witnesses they are the accounts of random distant people. If the words of Jesus are not the words of Jesus they are lies by definition before you even get into whether the quoted statements are true.

              The bible is all about argument from authority (even the very few positive teachings Jesus has are not phrased as “do this because it’s a good idea” so much as “do this because I said so”). If the authority is fictional or not accurately represented, the bible is nothing more than argument from illegitimate authority.

              It has been believed by most christians and officially believed by most sects of christianity that the gospels were inspired by the holy spirit. And this claim is the most common way of defending them once a christian does admit they weren’t witnesses.

              This does not solve anything. If they were not divinely inspired, these four (or more) nonwitnesses have nothing to tell us about Jesus. If they were divinely inspired, the holy spirit getting so much sh*t wrong points to some bigger problems with taking the word of this god.

              You are already saying god intervened massively to introduce this message. But then god cared little enough to let the message decay? For god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son for whoever believes in him, but then just sort of forgot the whole f*cking thing, and left the preservation of this message up to the record keeping integrity of humans (and humans who can’t agree with each other on what that message even was)?

              Did it never occur to Jesus to write a gospel himself? It seems like he could have used some of those miraculous universe ruling powers he was supposed to have to ensure his gospel wouldn’t be burned out of existence by his own followers.

              If the salvation/damnation scheme laid out in the new testament were true, it would be an important thing to know. And god couldn’t invest it with a little more credibility?

              If that message were true it would be vitally important for all of mankind to hear it. If you believe the rest of basic christian doctrine, you believe we are all going to be judged by whether we accepted this message. This would mean god designed the system so most people who ever lived would be sent to hell for not ever hearing it. And those who did hear it would never be given any reason to believe it beyond the word of liars.

              Along with any humans before Jesus dying with no chance of salvation, any humans born after the death of Jesus or born around the time of Jesus anywhere in the world aside from a remote corner of the Roman Empire, would die without ever hearing one good reason to believe in christ.

              That isn’t a problem for me. Those people are dead. Their pain is over. But you worship a loving god who sent them to hell to punish them for his own sh*tty planning. If you are right then Bertrand Russell is in hell right now because god refused to give him any honest evidence.

              That is not a god I would worship if I did think he existed.

              “2. Historians of this period wrote amazingly little about religious figures anyway.”

              Historians of this period wrote quite a lot about certain religious figures. Once people noticed Jesus a few centuries after his death, people wrote plenty about him as well.

              “3. Jesus was active for an amazingly short period of time (just three years)”

              Where do you get the three year figure from?

              You didn’t get it from the new testament.

              “4. Jesus ministered in an amazingly remote corner of the Roman Empire.”

              And an all knowing god decided to put him there because he couldn’t think of any better way to deliver or preserve his message? So not only did god give us a woefully insufficient documentary record of himself. He intentionally manifested in a backwoods province where no one would see him?

              The thing about private revelation is it’s only revelation to the first person. When that person tells a second and that second tells a third it becomes hearsay. Any all knowing god should know this.

              But this god apparently delivered his central revelation to all humanity by privately appearing in a room with a dozen people two thousand years ago. All he has given the rest of us is hearsay (and again, that is hearsay from people who are demonstrably wrong about many things).

              If an omnipotent god existed and was insecure enough to give a f*ck whether people believed in it, there should be no difficulty in giving people a legitimate reason to believe.

              If god were the omnipotent being christians are always saying he is, you shouldn’t have to rely on these sh*tty arguments. You shouldn’t have to lie for a true god. A true god should be a reasonable proposition that you could make a sound argument for. But you shouldn’t even have to do make good arguments for a true god. A true god should be visibly present in the real world and in no need of apologetics.

              No god is visibly present in the real world. Which leaves defenders of the faith forced to make bad arguments for his existence. If a true god needs you to lie in order for him to appear true, this should tell you something.

              “I believe that a man called Jesus lived, and that he is the Christ, but I know that under your definition of what counts as evidence, there is not enough of it to convince you.”

              It’s not really that strict of a standard. I’m not asking for a photo of Jesus. I’m just asking you for any real reason whatsoever. One true statement which positively suggests existence or divinity (the only catch is that the true statement can’t be complete bullsh*t).

              If you don’t know of any actual reasons to think Jesus existed, why do you believe it?

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Looks like Rich ran away. Jesus doesn’t like cowards. Not that I can prove that, or demonstrate he existed as a distinct individual with preferences, but if you can’t prove otherwise you should reserve judgement and do as I smugly and self-righteously say! Rich would have wanted it that way.

            • Jabster

              @JohnMWhite

              Which is exactly what I said would happen … ho hum. It’s so nice to be right ;-)

            • Sunny Day

              Be careful, don’t sprain yourself.
              :)

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Knew you couldn’t resist getting in your petty shot, Jabster. Keep preening that enormous ego of yours. I was never surprised you were right and I never argued that anything different would happen, my point was simply that your inability to act like anything other than a petulant whiny brat makes the likelihood of getting a decent conversation out of somebody like Rich even closer to zero. You used to actually respond with substance now and again. I don’t know what happened to you but it’s a shame to see you have turned into a bratty bot.

            • Sunny Day

              I was talking to both of you, and I was wondering if John knew enough to leave well alone.
              Hey I get to be right too!

              Now we can all stand in a close circle and congratulatory pat each others back confident that we each secretly knew better than the other guy. Isn’t it great to be sooooo smart!

              Rinse, Repeat.

          • Jabster

            @Sunny Day

            Damm does that mean that you’re more right than me!

            @JohnMWhite

            … yawns. If it makes you feel better about yourself by out witting the likes of Rich whose IQ barely reaches double figures then go ahead.

            • Rich

              @JohnMWhite – I am not a coward, thought I’d just confirm that, because the evidence you had in that I had not posted for some days could have suggested otherwise.
              I was tiring of a discussion that wasn’t likely to progress any further.

              @Nox – another huge wall of text, and, with respect, in so far as your worldview/philosophy is concerned, the term “there’s none so blind as those who will not see” comes to mind, but equally you would think that about myself. But your mentality is excluding you from accepting what may be true, because of your bias, and yes it definitely IS bias, to make conclusions from reason ONLY. My assessment is that you and your likeminded friends are all looking inwards, and agreeing amongst yourselves inside a bubble that you don’t even know is there!
              Anyway it’s been interesting, might see you round, probably in church because I believe in the impossible.

            • Troutbane

              Yeah Nox, I’m with Rich. How dare you use reasonable cogent points to make your case. And then providing passage reference and everything? Wow, how can you expect to win debates with tactics like that? It is so biased to not simply believe that what you had been taught is the only truth and all other points are wrong just because they would make your beliefs look stupid if they were right.
              You’re a Goddamn communist.

            • trj

              it definitely IS bias, to make conclusions from reason ONLY.

              Sounds like a quote ripe for Fundies Say The Darndest Things.

            • Sunny Day

              Rich, this WHOLE FUCKING DISCUSSION with you is about us not simply taking your word for anything.

              You wretched nincompoop.

            • Rich

              @ Troutbane
              It’s not a case of thinking that I would look stupid if beliefs contradicting mine were proved to be true; I am actually agreeing with your approach up to a point, because to establish evidence to back up what one believes is reasonable, and I believe in reason, and logic, and the value of gaining scientific knowledge, but I also believe that sometimes events happen which defy accepted reason, logic and science.
              If you are living your life whereby you will only act on what has been scientifically proven to your satisfaction, I truly believe that you are missing the real reason for our existence. Do you really think that if there is a god, this god would make it IMPOSSIBLE for you to disbelieve?? If you had the kind of evidence for the miracles and resurrection etc of Jesus that you and your colleagues have been demanding, you would have no option but to believe, and that is not freedom, and surely none of us wish to hold to a belief/philosophy where we have not utilised our free will.
              So what I am saying is that living our lives based on science/evidence/reason alone is not enough; its brilliant, its sensible, its commendable, but it doesn’t MAKE anything true, and there is much that is true which cannot be explained by science alone.
              It’s as if you have started to piece together a 1000- piece jigsaw puzzle, but you were only given 500 pieces and have assembled them, and even though it looks incomplete you are admiring it as the finished article.

            • Troutbane

              Rich:
              “Do you really think that if there is a god, this god would make it IMPOSSIBLE for you to disbelieve??”
              If there is a god out there, I would think we would have some way of knowing. We don’t. Right now, the only people who claim there is a god are people who were told there was a god or read a book in which it says there is a god and chose to believe. THAT’S it. There is literally no other proof. It’s been the stupidest version of the “Chinese whisper” ever.
              If an all-powerful God allows his creations to suffer forever because of his own arbitrary rule system, one which is so obfuscated as to allow MOST human beings to not follow those rules; that doesn’t make him loving, it makes him a colossal dick.
              What’s really annoying is you started this discussion here with how there was proof. You were proven wrong. Now you say there is no need for proof. You tried to logic God into existence and now you are backing off when your logic and arguments were shown time and time and time again to be wrong.

              “it doesn’t MAKE anything true”
              Um, yes, yes it does. Nothing untrue exists. Nothing unreal exists. Nothing unnatural exists. If they exist, they would cease to be non-existent. The virtue of being reasonable and measureable and quantifiable and testable and interactable and verifiable makes something real and true.

              “It’s as if you have started to piece together a 1000- piece jigsaw puzzle, but you were only given 500 pieces and have assembled them, and even though it looks incomplete you are admiring it as the finished article.”
              It’s more like there is a cat jigsaw puzzle that someone is putting together but the religious fundie in the room keeps telling them to stop putting pieces together because they know it’s a whale. Now imagine the fundie starts torturing and killing people for not only daring to keep working on the puzzle, but also for anyone who talks about the whiskers and pointed ears they can clearly see in the half finished puzzle.

            • Rich

              @Troutbane

              What is very important here is how you define evidence, and I believe your definition of evidence is too narrow.
              No, finding evidence for something does NOT make it true. What is true and real is already true and real; the discovery of evidence simply points to what is already there.
              “The virtue of being reasonable and measureable and quantifiable and testable and interactable and verifiable makes something real and true.”
              No it does not.

            • Sunny Day

              I feel its like having a jigsaw puzzle and your told by someone speaking with pretend authority its a picture of a cat. They make dire predicions about the ultimate fate of those who do not offer the proper supplication.

              Undaunted, you fill in a bunch of pieces with no cat to be found. You’re told the cat is located in the unfinished areas. As you work toward filling in the puzzle they grow ever more agitated and claim cat keeps changing position. Piece by piece the cat gets smaller and smaller and located in ever wierder places.

              Eventually you wonder why you ever listened to them in the first place and hope they will jut shut the fuck up and knock the dust from their sandles. Eventually they move on to claiming the puzzle you’ve been working on is just a piece of a larger puzzle with a cat.

              Rinse, Repeat.

            • Sunny Day

              Meh swapped Cat for Whale.
              whatever.

            • Sunny Day

              Great, now it wants to play at redefining what words mean.

              What was that evidence you offered Ricky?

            • Nox

              Failing to agree with your preferred delusion is not a weakness in the evidence based approach.

              The god we’re talking about needs to actually be real for not believing in him to be any kind of mistake. If your god were real, failing to think of him as real would be a weakness of relying on evidence. Since your god is not real, thinking of him as real is a weakness of relying on unfounded assertions.

              “Do you really think that if there is a god, this god would make it IMPOSSIBLE for you to disbelieve?”

              A lame excuse for an lame god.

              First, I think if there is a god, it’s got a f*cking universe to worry about and probably doesn’t give a f*ck whether people believe it exists. I mean that’s the kind of petty smallminded sh*t I’d expect a bronze age tribal god to care about. Hardly befitting any being who could make this place.

              If a god exists without meeting the bare minimum standard of believability, then f*ck him. That’s god’s failing, not mine. I’m still making the right choice by not believing in ridiculous entities.

              If god exists as described in the bible, f*ck him too. He is an unjust tyrant who has done everything in his power to keep people weak and stupid. If I discovered that the incoherent character known as yhvh somehow were real, I would do the only reasonable thing anyone could do in that situation. I would acknowledge his existence and refuse to serve him.

              If a god exists who is in any way affiliated with the bible or the christian church, f*ck him too. Such a god is either that unjust tyrant or incredibly incompetent.

              You don’t actually believe what you’re saying here. You just think it’s a good excuse to use in the moment. You only think this because you saw someone use this excuse and didn’t think about whether it was a good one.

              What you actually believe is that god is all powerful and micromanages the world. You believe he has given you enough proof to make it impossible for you to disbelieve. And you believe god constantly interferes with the choices of humans.

              When christian theologians talk about free will they are not saying humans have a choice in their own actions. They are saying humans can be blamed for god’s mistakes because we chose to eat the fruit. The entire concept of free will as it exists in christian theology is just a shoddy attempt to explain away one of the crippling plot holes in the garden story (and keep us guilty and in need of salvation). So let’s not pretend the god you’re talking about has any real concern for free will.

              In the real world we are already faced with many situations that compel us to believe one way or another. Many things are so conclusively proven that we would be going against our own senses to believe differently. No god stops this from occurring. Almost as if no cosmic entity were crafting the Universe to always give us a choice about what to believe.

              And in the book people are faced with situations which demand their belief in the judeo-christian god. Hundreds of times throughout the book god does miracles right in front of people. Did those people get any choice about whether to believe? Did god not care about their freedom to choose to believe?

              Did he give Noah a choice not to believe? Did he give Moses a choice not to believe? Did he give Mary a choice not to believe? Did he give Peter a choice not to believe?

              The premise you are saying this in support of is that Jesus is the christ. Think about what that means. That means god already interfered so overwhelmingly in human history as to leave all of us completely without the ability to make any free choices ever (unless you consider a choice with a gun to your head free).

              So no, I don’t believe for a f*cking second that you really believe god wouldn’t make it impossible not to believe.

            • Jabster

              @Nox

              … and relax :-)

            • Len

              I like Nox’s point that (if you follow through the thinking of Christian theologians) humanity’s free will really only existed when Eve ate the fruit in the garden. Since then we’ve all been stuck with (and punished for) her use of that free will. We’ve had no chance to exercise free will ourselves.
              What a loving heavenly father he must be to treat us like that [/sarc].

              And this is a good illustration of believing what’s on the box: http://imgur.com/6xtvf

            • Rich

              @Sunny Day

              So you think I’m a wretched nincompoop do you? Actually, I have to thank you as that comment reminded me of my dad who used to quote the words of a headmaster he used to work with in a boys prep school in the north of England when my dad was a schoolteacher. The headmaster used to call boys who were unable to answer his questions “incomprehensible nincompoops.”
              Such language these days would probably result in him losing his job. Things aint what they used to be!
              :)

            • Jabster

              @Rich

              Nope, he probably thinks you’re far worse than that – I certainly do.

              Anyway … you seem to have forgotten to answer any of the questions put to you by Nox – is that because you have zero answers?

              I’ll let you carry on floundering now in your own stupidity as you seem to enjoy it.

            • Sunny Day

              Poor Richy,
              Too dishonest to confront and answer the questions he supposedly offered evidence for. All he can do is deflect, dodge, and bring up irrelevancies. Please continue to be the sterling example of what we can expect of Christianity and theists in general.

            • Rich

              @Nox
              Hello again. A while ago you asked for any real reason whatsoever in support of Jesus’ historicity and divinity, one true statement which positively suggests existence or divinity.
              I have no reservations about using the New Testament for this, because to ignore the very documents which provide firsthand accounts from people who were close to Jesus Christ is unreasonable. Just because these documents exist doesn’t prove their authenticity of course, what matters is IS IT TRUE?
              The apostle Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 15 verses 3 – 8 state:
              “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
              In verse 17 of the same chapter it states “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile.”
              If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead then, for me, there is no point in discussing any of the many other issues you raised.
              I was reading a book today by Lee Strobel, who was educated at Yale Law School, was the award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, and a spiritual skeptic until 1981. The book examines the credibility of the evidence for the resurrection, and it is very convincing.
              Follow this link to see his testimony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AT_bMuFBfs

            • Custador

              1) The New Testament is not a first-hand testimony. The earliest gospel was written decades after Jesus’ time, generations after anybody who could actually have encountered him if he was real.

              2) …

              Actually, there’s no need for a point number 2), because your whole post basically reduces to “the Bible was written by people who were there, therefore we should believe it”. The Bible’s writers were NOT there, and around a dozen documentary historians who were in the places Jesus was supposed to have been, in the times he’s supposed to have been in them, did not mention him once, in all of their writings.

              3) What part of “evangelism is not evidence” do you not grasp? Personal testimony of what you “just know in your heart” means precisely dick, and the same goes for the personal testimony of a dodgy non-historian who you put forward as an historian. It’s bunk. There is no evidence for the resurrection, because there is no evidence that Jesus Christ ever lived.

              4) Hi guys, I guess I’m back. I’ll tidy up the forums tomorrow. Probably.

            • Sunny Day

              I offer up the Book of Spider Man to prove that he is real.

              http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=78991

            • Yoav

              Rich
              So your only response to Nox giving you a detailed explanation as to how the gospels are not firsthand accounts is to stick your fingers in your ears, shut your eyes, and screem EYE WITNESS ACCOUNTS until you turn purple. While I hope Nox continue to write his wall’o'text for the benefit of the rest of us (I know I always learn something new from them), he’s clearly wasting his time on you.

            • Rich

              @Sunny Day
              I hope you realise that to compare Jesus Christ to Spiderman is so hugely way out of line and unreasonable it’s just baffling.
              I have never said to anyone that simply because Jesus appears in a book that makes him real.
              This website is concerned with “reasonable thoughts.”
              Maybe you’re just trying to be funny.

            • Custador

              You think storied about a very strong, very fast man who can climb stuff and swing from stuff are “so hugely way out of line and unreasonable [they're] just baffling” when compared to stories about a guy who can walk on water, transmute matter, heal (at the time) incurable diseases on contact (these days Leprosy is easily dealt with using Doxycycline, can I get an AMEN!), and return from the fucking dead?!

              Your credibility meter needs calibrating.

            • Rich

              @Yoav, Custador

              Over 30 years ago I was bullied for a time at school. One day some classmates who wanted to stick up for me got hold of the bully and pinned him against a wall so I could punch him. When I attempted to do so, my clenched fist came into contact with the brick wall behind him and my knuckles started bleeding. And when a teacher found out I was put in detention.
              I was there. I witnessed what happened. It is true.
              I didn’t write down what happened. But it happened.
              Generations later, there is no evidence that it happened, but it still happened.
              In terms of the record of the sightings of Jesus Christ after his resurrection as stated in the NT, the fact that the documentary evidence for this was not written down on the day or within a few weeks, or even a few years, does not matter. The fact is that we do have this evidence; many historians, both Christian and secular, accept it as good evidence, there are other secular historians who do not, but why specifically do they not? My supposition is that other issues prevent them from looking at the evidence impartially eg if Christ rose from the dead, that means it’s possible for people to rise from the dead, but if people can rise from the dead, then the physical laws that govern the universe can be frustrated, which is unreasonable, but I have been educated to believe that everything in the universe has to have a reasonable explanation, and on that basis I can’t consider that Jesus Christ was resurrected.

            • Custador

              It is not generations later, and you just have written it down, you complete clown! You have just created a first-hand account of events about your life. Since it does not cast you in a particularly good light, and none of the details are particularly extraordinary, an historian would probably judge your account to be true.

              Now, if in about a hundred years, after you have died, and your children have died, your grandchildren tell that story to your great-grandchildren, and they write it down but embellish the story and say that you smote the bully so mightily that your fist trailed flames and punched him through the wall, then you have something more akin to the New Testament, and an historian would look at that story and correctly dismiss it as bullshit, maybe based on a tiny grain of truth, but bullshit nonetheless.

              Are you seriously telling me you can’t see the difference? Really?

            • Len

              @Rich: If you were put into detention, then the teacher who put you there would have made a record of that. That record would corroborate your story. If your descendents try to embellish the story in 100 years (as Custy mentions), then the records from your school – which count as contemporary, independant records to the event in question – would specify what happened (detention) and why (you and some friends punched a bully). Even if the records don’t explicitly mention that you didn’t have fiery fists, at least they would mention the fact of your punching the bully and getting detention. But even that level of corroboration is missing for Jesus’ life. Of all the things he supposedly did, in all the places, as supposedly witnessed by all the people – no-one else wrote about it.

            • Nox

              Custador,

              Welcome back. I was really hoping we’d see you again!

              Yoav,

              Thank you.

              Rich,

              I’ve read The Case For Christ. It has nothing but the same sh*tty arguments you’ve been copying here dressed up with a sh*tty detective story.

              Whether you say this part out loud or not, any ‘this is true because the bible says so’ statement includes the presupposition ‘everything in the bible is true’. As I’ve already demonstrated that it isn’t, I shouldn’t have to explain why that verse does not meet the stated requirement of “one true statement which positively suggests existence or divinity”. This is why I included the caveat that the true statement can’t be complete bullsh*t.

              We already know you have no reservations about using the new testament as an authoritative source. That’s all you have done since you got here. But the problems with that have already been explained to you. The new testament does not provide firsthand accounts of people who were close to Jesus (the new testament actually says the guy you were quoting there did not know Jesus while he was alive and you’re still citing him as a witness).

              You are recycling claims that have already been refuted in this same thread.

              The new testament was not written by people who knew anything about Jesus firsthand. We’ve covered this. You have been shown strong evidence that they were not. You have made no attempt whatsoever to address any of it.

              Can you offer anything more compelling than ‘some guy who never saw Jesus himself thought he was christ’? We already knew about that. It was part of what myself and others were referring to earlier when we said there was no real evidence.

            • Troutbane

              But, but, but….MAGIC!

              And with that well-thought articulated arguument, Rich converts us heathens.

              Well played Rich, well played.

            • Rich

              Matthew’s gospel (28:17) records that when the resurrected Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples in Galilee, they worshipped Him; BUT some doubted.
              If those who had spent a lot of time with Jesus and knew Him well, and had been told by Jesus (Mt 26:32) that after He had been raised He would meet them in Galilee, would you expect that they would have doubts that it was really Him?
              I think it’s reasonable to expect that at least some would have doubted, after all, almost nobody who had ever lived had been raised from the dead before; it just didn’t fit in with what normally happened to people.
              So if those who were closest to Jesus had doubts, it is not surprising that 2000 years later, many generations later, people who only view Jesus as some bloke who was the leader of a movement trying to resist the Roman first century rulers, have huge doubts.
              Notwithstanding this fact, there are historical documents in existence whose writers state, as fact (unlike fictional characters such as Spiderman who were never portrayed as anything other than fictional), that Jesus was raised from the dead, and many people who had seen him before he was crucified, saw him again, alive and well.
              The apostle Paul was a contemporary of Jesus’ brother James, and he knew Jesus’ closest disciple Peter. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were probably written between A.D 55 & 65, with John’s gospel probably written between A.D 80 & 90 – which is hardly generations after the life of Jesus. They were written by men who knew Jesus . There is some non-biblical evidence regarding Jesus’ historicity as well. One of the most concrete proofs of Jesus being a genuine living being comes begrudgingly from the Jewish Talmud. Although uncomplimentary, it is still truthful acknowledgment:
              “we learn that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock, gathered disciples, made blasphemous claims about himself, and worked miracles, but these miracles are attributed to sorcery and not to God.” (Ibid)
              Given that there has been such a large amount of discussion and debate between secularists and christians over many years on the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, at least it is an indication that it is not a subject that can easily be disproved.

            • Custador

              Matthew is the earliest gospel, and is generally dated around 70AD. And in a time when life expectancy was maybe 40, and it was normal to marry and bear children in your early teens, 70 years was generations. None of the gospels could possibly have been written by anybody who was there, and it’s a huge stretch to believe that they could even be second-hand, as opposed to third or fourth hand.

              And all of this has been demonstrated to you, time and time again. And still you ignore it. Your hand-waving is tedious.

            • Rich

              Due to Matthew’s strong Jewish characteristics, some scholars date his Gospel around the early part of A.D. 50 when the church was largely Jewish and the gospel was preached to the Jews only (cf. Acts 11:19). Again, others who find that Matthew (and even Luke) were dependent upon Mark usually date his Gospel later, anywhere between A.D. 65-75.
              Even if it was written in A.D. 70 it’s less than 40 years after Jesus’ death.
              To say that none of the gospels could possibly have been written by anybody who was there is making a claim which you can’t demonstrate to be true.

            • Custador

              No, some CHRISTIAN scholars date LUKE that early. People who don’t have a vested interest, and/or who are intellectually honest, do not. As for the rest you fail at math, and at explaining why no third party accounts back up the Bible. At all. Even a little bit.

            • Sunny Day

              “I hope you realise that to compare Jesus Christ to Spiderman is so hugely way out of line and unreasonable it’s just baffling.”
              LOL. Why, because one is ancient mythology, the other is pop culture?

              “I have never said to anyone that simply because Jesus appears in a book that makes him real.”
              This thread is full of you doing nothing but that.

              “This website is concerned with “reasonable thoughts.”
              You should try reading the about page. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/about/

              “Maybe you’re just trying to be funny.”
              I often times try to hit two birds with one rock. It’s a pity Theists are too hard-headed to feel it when it hits.

            • Troutbane

              One of the most concrete proofs of Jesus being a genuine living being comes begrudgingly from the Jewish Talmud. Although uncomplimentary, it is still truthful acknowledgment:
              “we learn that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock, gathered disciples, made blasphemous claims about himself, and worked miracles, but these miracles are attributed to sorcery and not to God.” (Ibid)
              Rich, could you provide the actual reference to the Talmud that says this? I am very interested in what it says and the surrounding text.

            • Rich

              @Troutbane
              Sorry I don’t have the actual reference, but the quote was reproduced in the book Jesus Under Fire (Zondervan 1995)
              http://www.christianbook.com/jesus-under-fire-michael-wilkins/9780310211396/pd/21139

            • Custador

              “Scholars are also divided on the relationship of the passages, if any, to the historical Jesus, though most modern scholarship views the passages as reaction to Christian proselytism rather than having any meaningful trace of a historical Jesus.”

              http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_the_Talmud

              Your ability to ignore inconvenient facts is tiresome.

            • Nox

              So, what you’re saying is that you haven’t actually read the Talmud passages you were pretending to quote a second ago? You just read a piece of christian apologetic literature that said they were there, and repeated the claim without even looking into it at all?

            • Rich

              @Custador, Nox

              I have to say I did not research the Talmud sufficiently, and having looked into it further I would have to agree that there is no consensus as to whether the Jesus of the New Testament is mentioned at all in the Talmud.
              Best wishes.

            • Rich

              @Nox.
              I have been reading one of your posts on the main forum (to which you gave a link) which went into great detail about OT prophecies which are believed by Christians to be fulfilled by Jesus Christ; what I will say is that I do believe that as a Christian I should not pull out a single verse or a few verses out of context and make huge conclusions from that without first of all understanding the context in which it was written.
              I was looking particularly at the passage in Isaiah Chapter 7, the accepted (by Christians) messianic prophecy being 7:14 and fulfillment in Matthew 1:23.

              It is true, in my experience anyway, that these messianic prophecies are often quoted in sermons, and there is little detail given regarding the context in which they are found, which is not evidence that they don’t refer to Jesus Christ, just that to “blindly” accept it as accurate is foolish.
              And it is unfortunate that some evangelical Christians give that impression, that we are not thinking, reasoning beings who no longer use our minds since we now take everything on faith. But that would be a huge over-simplification.

    • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

      I have to ask, why did you even bother? All three of your points are completely off-base and demonstrate significant ignorance. I don’t think you are stupid, but point 3 in particular suggests you have not even been paying attention to your own bible. Point 2 is semantic trickery that nobody is going to let you get away with on an atheist blog and with point 1, you’re just plain inaccurate and clearly did not even go looking before running with the assumption that there is evidence for the historic Jesus. Unless you are about to surprise us with some unknown documentary evidence for the existence of Jesus as a distinct individual, I’m not sure what you hoped to accomplish.

      I don’t want to join the pile-on, but I am genuinely curious why you thought saying these things was going to help. Did you think your audience here would go “oh, he has a point, I guess Jesus did sort of exist and all that Inquisition stuff and several attempts to wipe out the Jews and the Crusades and killing natives across the planet in the name of Jesus had nothing to do with Jesus!! Not to mention all that stuff about how we are depraved sinners didn’t really mean we are depraved sinners at all!”

      Words have meanings. Actions have consequences. And historical sources actually have to be demonstrated to exist.

      • Rich

        @JohnMWhite
        Can you provide historical evidence that your forebears who lived at the time of Christ actually existed? Can I do the same for my forebears? No. And yet we know they existed.
        In the case of Jesus Christ of Nazareth we DO have plenty of evidence that He existed, which is not disputed by most scholars. The evidence available, however, not least that provided by those that lived alongside Christ, is strangely dismissed as invalid by you and those who think along the same lines as you, but why is this the case?
        If you were to outline several tests for the reliability and accuracy of a piece of secular literature, and then apply these tests to the Old and New Testaments, and then a comparison is made between the historicity of the Bible and classical and historical literature, the logical conclusion based upon evidence is that if one rejects the Old and New Testaments as being reliable, then, if you are honest and use the same tests, you must throw out all classical literature and disregard history.

        • kessy_athena

          Most of classical literature was not written by radical revolutionaries intent on overthrowing society and dismembering civilization and Frankensteining it back together to suit their crazy ideology.

          • Rich

            For someone who hasn’t looked into the question all that deeply maybe you don’t have the authority or knowledge to make claims like that regarding the writers of the New Testament. To say that early Christianity was an underground radical political organization with revolutionary ideology, is incorrect.

            • Jabster

              … but to say you’re a complete twat is correct and god told me so.

            • kessy_athena

              I haven’t looked that deeply into the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical person. I *have* read a good bit of Roman history. Roman society was extremely religiously tolerant and diverse, and the government did not persecute people for simply following an odd sect. Nor did the Romans crucify people for stealing a loaf of bread – crucifixion was the most severe punishment under roman law, and was only applied to the very worst of the worst, people the Romans felt it necessary to make an example of. A sect that claimed their leader was crucified would only appeal to those segments of society that felt that Roman rule was unjust and illegitimate. The Roman authorities would only crucify leaders of a movement that was committing serious crimes and would only persecute an entire religion if that religion were actively working against Roman rule.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

              Kessy, I’ve been given a possible explanation for that (if Jesus did exist, I mean, which is unsure). Now admittedly, this is coming from my old rabbi, so it’s from a sideways perspective to a lot of Christian ones.

              Basically, wandering ‘prophets’ with lots of followers in Jerusalem around Passover stirred up riots more than once. So the Romans would arrest them for sedition or breaking the peace or whatever and crucify them as a warning to not stir up riots. The Sanhedrin (Jewish high court) would sometimes “arrest” these people and hold them in protective custody until the holiday was over and the crush of pilgrims was done, which would prevent both riots and crucifixions.

              I don’t know enough to know if this is historically plausible or not. I just know that I’ve heard this explanation for the Jesus story- arrest by the Sanhedrin and why the Romans might crucify someone who didn’t seem that important.

            • kessy_athena

              M, I believe that is essentially correct. From the Roman perspective, those riots were more like small scale rebellions, and on more then one occasion morphed into large scale rebellions. So as far as they were concerned, the sorts of preachers who’d stir up that kind of trouble were in fact rebels and trying to make war on the Roman state, and they treated them accordingly. I don’t know that much about the local Jewish authorities of the time, but I would assume they would (correctly) view it as being in their own self interest to prevent any trouble that would prompt the Romans to intervene. As for Jesus of Nazareth, assuming he existed and the narrative we have about him is correct at least in broad strokes, he must have done *something* to incur the wrath of the Romans. While the Roman legal system was certainly not perfect and people were sometimes wrongfully convicted or railroaded for political reasons, my assumption would tend to be that unless there’s reason to think otherwise, if someone got crucified, they probably did something to deserve it. That doesn’t mean they were necessarily important in any way, just criminal.

              But I was really talking about the early Christian movement after Jesus’ time, not about Jesus himself. Most Romans would have made the same sort of assumption about someone who was crucified that I do, so a sect that claimed their founder was crucified would only appeal to a certain unsavory segment of society. And some of the leaders of the early church were themselves crucified. All that combined with the general Roman religious tolerance paints for me a picture of the early Christian movement that’s very different from the notion of a virtuous, peaceful spiritual movement that was unjustly persecuted by the evil awful Romans.

        • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

          “Can you provide historical evidence that your forebears who lived at the time of Christ actually existed? Can I do the same for my forebears? No.”

          Er, speak for yourself. I can provide evidence for Celtic civilizations from which I am descended who were around at the time. I’ve stood in a cairn built by neolithic ancestors, so that’s going back much further. Why did you presume the answer was no? If you’re asking about a distinct individual, obviously I cannot say “Ulfric mac Fhergus existed in 3AD and is my great, great, great, etc. grandfather”, but that’s nothing like what we’re talking about. None of my forebears claimed to be the son of god and rose from the dead.

          “In the case of Jesus Christ of Nazareth we DO have plenty of evidence that He existed, which is not disputed by most scholars. The evidence available, however, not least that provided by those that lived alongside Christ, is strangely dismissed as invalid by you and those who think along the same lines as you, but why is this the case?”

          Post proof or retract. I’m not interested in having a conversation where you act like a five year old and say “yeah-huh!” If you’re going to appeal to authority and insist there is evidence, start showing it.

          “If you were to outline several tests for the reliability and accuracy of a piece of secular literature, and then apply these tests to the Old and New Testaments, and then a comparison is made between the historicity of the Bible and classical and historical literature, the logical conclusion based upon evidence is that if one rejects the Old and New Testaments as being reliable, then, if you are honest and use the same tests, you must throw out all classical literature and disregard history.”

          I’m not going to throw Tacitus out the window because he never claimed things that were logically or physically impossible. I’m also not going to live my life based on the writings of Tacitus because I’m well aware his work is an imperfect historical source like every historical source ever. There’s a difference between sources that are imperfect but generally corroborated by other sources/facts, like much of historical literature, and plain made up nonsense like the bible. This is the book that claims the entire world was flooded, which requires more water than there is on the planet, and that there was some kind of mad census enacted by the Romans where everyone had to go to their home town (as if that wouldn’t mangle the economy with everybody downing tools and wandering off for a few weeks) that every historian ever managed to miss.

        • Bill

          “In the case of Jesus Christ of Nazareth we DO have plenty of evidence that He existed, which is not disputed by most scholars.”

          Can you please provide this evidence?

          • Bill

            Rich,
            I see you’ve returned to spar with others. Can I assume that you will not be providing the evidence you referenced?

  • Thin-ice

    Rich, oh Rich, where are you? Can you please answer Lurker111′s request of you. I would love to know of all this non-biblical evidence of Jesus’ existence that you claim exists.

  • princeshakaz

    The world is an ocean of ignorance which self-centered human beings bath and dance in joyfully. The Individuals which do not believe in god are those who have put upon their eyes shades of illusion. They believe that by denying Gods existence it means they are logical and rational. They understand not the spiritual knowledge contained in religious texts, therefore they will try to corrupt and destroy what they do not understand. May we all return to the spiritual abode.

    • kessy_athena

      Who are the really self centered ones? The humans who think the universe is essentially indifferent to humanity’s existence, or the humans who think the entire universe was created specifically for their benefit by a creator who apparently exists only to care about humanity?

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      Um, please elaborate. What spiritual knowledge in the religious texts are you referring to? I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m not down with the rape-y and genocide-y and child sacrifice-y and Hell bits, but what do I know? What’s the super special secret spiritual knowledge those are supposed to impart to me?

  • Joseph O Polanco

    “Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.”

  • Joseph O Polanco

    Thankfully, we’ve progressed a great deal since Russell. Flavius Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian who was a Pharisee referred to Jesus Christ in the book Jewish Antiquities. Although some doubt the authenticity of the first reference where Josephus mentioned Jesus as the Messiah, Professor Louis H. Feldman of Yeshiva University says that few have doubted the genuineness of the second reference. There Josephus said: “[Ananus the high priest] convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.” (Jewish Antiquities, XX, 200) Yes, a Pharisee, a member of the sect many of whose adherents were avowed enemies of Jesus, acknowledged the existence of “James, the brother of Jesus.”

    The influence of Jesus’ existence was felt through the activities of his followers. When the apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome about 59 C.E., the principal men of the Jews told him: “As regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.” (Acts 28:17-22) They called Jesus’ disciples “this sect.” If they were everywhere spoken against, secular historians would likely report about them, would they not?

    Tacitus, born about 55 C.E. and considered one of the world’s greatest historians, mentioned the Christians in his Annals. In the account about Nero’s blaming the great fire of Rome in 64 C.E. on them, he wrote: “Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.” The details of this account match the information regarding the Jesus of the Bible.

    Another writer who commented on Jesus’ followers was Pliny the Younger, the governor of Bithynia. In about the year 111 C.E., Pliny wrote to Emperor Trajan, asking how to handle Christians. People who were falsely accused of being Christians, wrote Pliny, would repeat an invocation to the gods and worship the statue of Trajan, just to prove that they were not Christians. Pliny continued: “There is no forcing, it is said, those who are really Christians, into any of these compliances.” That testifies to the reality of the existence of the Christ, whose followers were prepared to give their lives for their belief in him.

    After summarizing the references to Jesus Christ and his followers by the historians of the first two centuries, The Encyclopædia Britannica (2002 edition) concludes: “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.” http://bit.ly/ZvQvvd

  • Joseph O Polanco

    In his book “The Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus”, Michael Licona provides a list of scholars who attest to the historicity of Christ’s murder and resurrection which includes Brodeur, Collins, Conzelman, Fee, Gundry, Harris, Hayes, Hèring, Hurtado, Johnson, Kistemaker, Lockwood, Martin, Segal, Snyder, Thiselton, Witherington, and Wright.

    Concordantly, British scholar N. T. Wright states, “As a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.” (N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today (September 13, 1993)), p. 26.

    Even Gert L¸demann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, himself admits, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”(Gerd L¸demann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 80.)

    These are just a minute sampling of the research the massive throng of scholars who all attest to the historicity of Christ’s resurrection – http://amzn.to/13MQiTE

    Prominently, in his book, “Justifying Historical Descriptions”, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:

    1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.

    2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.

    3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.

    4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.

    5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.

    6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as the resurrection solution.

    As an aside, when asked, “You accept the historical Jesus?”, Albert Einstein’s reply was

    “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

    –Albert Einstein, from an interview with the Saturday Evening Post


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