C. S. Lewis Gets it Wrong: Liar, Lunatic, Lord … or Legend?

C. S. Lewis Gets it Wrong: Liar, Lunatic, Lord … or Legend? August 3, 2015

Some say that Jesus wasn’t divine but was still a great sage. Christian apologist C. S. Lewis has no use for this argument. Here is his widely quoted rebuttal:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.

“Patronizing nonsense”? We have no problem with wisdom taken from the Koran or the story of Gilgamesh or the Upanishads or any other book of religion or mythology despite their being wrong about the supernatural stuff. Thomas Jefferson stripped the supernatural away from the New Testament to find something useful. Even fiction can have great wisdom—The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran comes to mind. Assuming that the Bible’s supernatural claims are false, why must that invalidate its wisdom, too?

But let’s return to Lewis’s famous trilemma: Jesus must have been a liar (he knew that he wasn’t what he said he was), a lunatic (he was crazy, so that explains his wild claims), or … maybe all that he said was true. In that case, he must be Lord.

But this ignores the ferociously obvious fourth possibility, that the entire Jesus story is legend.

We understand that stories can evolve into legends with time—the Iliad, Merlin the magician, Prester John, William Tell, John Henry, the Roswell UFO story, and so on. I wrote about the legendary growth of the tale of the Angel of Mons here. Are we to set aside all that we know about nature and imagine instead that a supernatural God sent supernatural Jesus to earth to do supernatural things? We need a lot of evidence to make that jump.

Christian scholars themselves acknowledge the growth of legends within Christianity. That’s how they dismiss Christianity’s unwanted noncanonical gospels—the gospels of Thomas, Mary, and Judas; the Infancy Gospels of Thomas and James; and many others. Their limp argument is that legends take hold … just not so quickly as to affect their favorites. Nope.

The plausible natural explanation for the Jesus stories is that they were told orally for decades, and they grew with the retelling, changing to fulfill imagined prophecy from the Law or to ensure that Jesus took on the traits of competing religions. Remember that Palestine was the crossroads of Greek, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian cultures.

As Jewish Christianity was reinterpreted through Greek culture, the recipients wouldn’t have just known about Dionysus and Friends, many would’ve been followers, all the more reason to expect a religious amalgam as the result. (I’ve written more about Dionysus vs. Jesus here.)

I’ve discussed this with Christians in the past and have some idea of the objections that they raise. In the next posts, I will discuss and hopefully resolve twelve Christian objections to the Legend hypothesis.

Whenever you find any statement in Christian writings 
which you can make nothing of, do not worry. 
Leave it alone. 
— C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 11/28/12.)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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  • MNb

    Fifth option: self delusional, like all the other messias claimants.

    • Kevin R. Cross

      I think that comes under “Lunatic”.

      • MNb

        I considered that, but non-lunatic people also are capable of deluding themselves. I’m one example, during the last 12+ months of my marriage. With hindsight I see how foolish I was thinking it could be saved (and to her credit it was my ex-wife who cut the knot).
        Moreover I think “self-delusional –> lunatic” falls for the trap Lewis set for his trilemma. The apologist will argue “no, he wasn’t a lunatic, look at this, this and this” and conclude Jesus didn’t delude himself either.

        • Kevin R. Cross

          That would open another category altogether – “Loser” perhaps?

        • MNb

          I like it, especially given his end time prophecies and “Father, why hast thou forsaken me.” Next time some apologist presents the False Trilemma I think I’m going to use it.

      • Brian

        He doesn’t have to be insane: he could be genuinely misinterpreting things and coming to the conclusion he’s the messiah. People used to believe that dreams were these real, important things, so if a person got a message in their dreams and believed it, would that make them insane? Or if they believed themselves to be psychic?

        Or if Jesus believed because his disciples propped him up and acted as though he was correct? (Google “no touch martial arts meets reality” for hilarious contemporary examples of this phenomenon)

        • Kevin R. Cross

          MNb made the same point. I think it’s a good one, but it put’s Jesus in another unpleasant category – “Loser”.

        • Brian

          If the shoe fits… 🙂

  • josh

    There’s no one like Lewis for patronizing nonsense. (Except Chesterton, from whom he cribbed.)

  • valleycat1

    As I recall, the argument is also made that he could not have been a liar, lunatic, or mere legend because then people would not have been willing to follow him to the extent that Christianity got a foothold as a major world religion. So no matter what you really think of him, he actually is the son of god because Christianity is a major world religion.

    • And yet Christianity grew quite slowly. Compare that with Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian mystic who died with millions of followers.

      And, since other religions have gotten big, I hope a Christian antagonist wouldn’t claim that Christianity is true simply because it’s popular. He’d have to say the same about Islam, Hinduism, and others.

      • Brian

        I fully expect a lot of apologists who claim Christianity is the one true faith because it’s the most believed to convert to Islam in about 2050, when that becomes the dominant religion.

  • busterggi

    “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.”

    true, too bad he couldn’t see the obvious.

    • Without Malice

      Amen. Most of the teachings of Jesus are rather mundane and don’t amount to a hill of beans as far as showing a person how they should live their lives. Some are downright idiotic, like his teachings about eunuchs that caused tens of thousands of men over the ages to castrate themselves, or his teaching about divorce that forces a woman to stay with a man who might be beating the hell out of her. The Golden Rule was already ancient by the time of Jesus so it can’t rightly be called one of “his” teachings. And any man who wants to lay claim to being the Son of God but believes in a literal Adam and Eve and thinks that diseases, mental illness, and epilepsy are caused by evil spirits and demons is nothing be a deluded and ignorant man who thinks much to highly of himself. Or, maybe a lunatic.

      • Ron

        Agreed! I don’t think Jesus’ teachings offer anything original or beneficial.

        • Kevin R. Cross

          To be fair, he was a bit more towards the “forgive” end of the “Forgiveness – Vengeance” scale than most of his contemporaries.

        • TheNuszAbides

          too bad they weren’t taking notes when he clarified that “not peace but a sword” bit!

      • Eloquently stated, thanks.

  • Rob

    For a long time, I knew Lewis only as the author of the Narnia series of books. These days, I like to remember Lewis only as the author of the Narnia series of books. Those books made the world a better place, the others didn’t have nearly the same impact.

    • Sophia Sadek

      Lewis had some exposure to non-Christian esoteric traditions earlier in his life. That is probably why he writes good fiction. His retrogression into Christianity is rather unfortunate. It is something he shares in common with early Christians such as Augustine.

    • Just to play devil’s advocate, Lewis’s Christian apologetics books have been cited by loads of people as being key to their understanding of Christianity. I doubt they found any good arguments there, but they could convince themselves that they had intellectual grounding for their beliefs.

      • SteveK

        Do you have intellectual grounding for your belief that these people didn’t find any good arguments in his books? I’m wondering how anyone could possibly sustain your belief knowing that arguments become convincing when they are supported by experience – and you don’t know anything about their experiences, Bob.

        • I’m not saying that the arguments weren’t good from their standpoint; I’m saying they’re not good from mine.

          I’m wondering how anyone could possibly sustain your belief knowing that arguments become convincing when they are supported by experience

          “Personal experience” doesn’t sound very reliable when people from every religion point to it to support their religions’ incompatible claims.

        • Kodie

          These “personal experiences” are very often influenced more than these people would care to admit by the people who they surround themselves with. Everyone has “personal experiences,” they just don’t all attribute them to the same (magical) thing – it’s only when they are without any other explanation and some idiot like Greg or Fabio or SteveK is willing to be so helpful and suggest that it is what he thinks it is, and they are ignorant enough and gullible enough to believe, and not skeptical enough to question the source.

          Anyone who claims their personal experiences with Jesus happened isolated from other people or influences that were already present in their lives is lying. The power of suggestion explains so much and yet these people all think they have had personal experiences that couldn’t have been anything else, i.e., a conscious and intentional “message” that someone doesn’t understand their emotions and experiences that always always always is translated by some know-nothing, maybe comes with a sandwich or a cup of coffee. MARKETING.

        • And the world they imagine is one populated by only atheism and Christianity. They seem unaware that their “yeah, but what about the experiences?” argument doesn’t look so good when the existences of all the other religions is thrown into the mix.

        • Kodie

          Although other religions exist, you don’t even need them for example. Every Christian who comes here and says “we’re not all like that” or criticizes you on the basis that you are attacking beliefs nobody who is “taken seriously” believes, etc., you have a sample of Christianity coming by your door to give you their best arguments, because you are always wrong about everything, Bob. This is the stupidest argument I have ever seen. I don’t see a lot of differences in Christian beliefs, you could say “superficially”, but often they are the significant dogma differences between, say, a Christian and a Muslim, or something. I don’t see so much difference there as they do either. If one personal experience says everything is the devil trying to steer us from our sacred path to the lord’s doorstep, and another personal experience says to love everyone like Jesus would, I think they are both fools.

          People who live as though their lives are being recorded in the great ledger in the sky are fools, and people who think if it’s not being recorded in the great ledger in the sky then why bother paying for stuff you want or respecting another person’s consent or looking for a legal parking space when you can just park in front of a hydrant, are fools. Who can’t figure out why to be generous or considerate to another person without attempting to sacrifice their selfishness to the ooga-booga? Have you read the article I posted twice about the guy who was recovering from the KKK? Even the KKK’s main spirit of attraction was morality and love, and you can motivate people well towards any hateful end by making it about their personal experience – they don’t hate black people! The just love white people and want to elevate themselves morally!

          You can see the same messages from Christians all around – seeking some kind of moral judgment over everyone else, labeling things as they see them through their personal, influenced, experiences. Just yesterday, I see on my facebook someone posted a billboard like the ones adam posts with a quote signed “-God” only it wasn’t a quote from the bible, “I need your help with this”, being one man-one woman marriage, and the comments still have people quoting Leviticus, along with waiting for science to confirm that homosexuality is a born trait and not a choice, in the same comment. So they admit science can overturn the bible as regards what is and is not sin against god. It can’t just let people be and accept that they are not hurting anyone. They are not just interested in teaching their own children to hate others and possibly themselves, they are in their hateful way trying to “elevate” humanity to an acceptable moral level to please their god. When people say “god is love” or “Jesus is love,” and sometimes that “love” takes the form of “hate,” I mean, if you are motivated to believe there is a literal hell, it is technically “love” to save as many people as you can from ending up there. Isn’t it? They’re taught to judge people as they think god does, but it’s funny how god needs some asshole to pay for a billboard to put words in his mouth to remind his followers that it’s all up to them and not himself, and they will still believe because babies and sunsets.

          Apologetics is invented to address the obvious criticisms and reinforce the religious person’s stupidity and aversion to living in the real world, so a lot of Christian opposition sounds the same. Obviously Christians have the same questions and observations we have, or they wouldn’t have come up with these phony, convoluted answers where “it’s just made up” and “people are surprisingly (?) easy to manipulate emotionally and satisfy with a pile of words that goes nowhere” should be enough. Their personal experiences are influenced from other people – for example: how do they all know the difference between lust and love, what is fornication and what is sanctified sexual intercourse. All the books about Christian marriage advise the wife to submit to her husband’s needs at any time, lest he go stumbling and cheating and divorcing her. And they also want to know with absolute certainty that homosexuality is not a choice before they stop trying to ruin other people’s personal experiences with their own judgment.

          You don’t need a lot of other religions to make the point – Christianity is diverse, and even in your one single blog in the whole internet, you get enough of a spectrum of Christians who will boost each other’s posts, make similar arguments, remind you how many billions of people believe Jesus is Lord, and also tell you that their personal interpretation of the bible doesn’t match your criticism of any other Christian on the planet, so they are the only true Christian.

        • I missed your comment about the KKK. That’s a helpful insight. I’d imagine that the Fred Phelps/Westboro Baptist thing would be similar–they’re just giving us the tough love that we need.

          Here’s that billboard. God needs our help? What a loser–let’s worship him.

          http://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/4b04fe9d2f110129061ff85284f6151bc15e24cb/0_108_800_480/master/800.jpg?w=1920&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&s=d7e0c14ce5a0e6c02bca8654fad0f924

        • Kodie

          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/hatred/
          “Recovering from Hate”. It’s long but I endorse reading this long article. I found it compelling though I often would have stopped reading if the article is too long – I read the whole thing. There is something for everyone, even almost a car chase… (I have to admit there is no actual car chase, but there is a car).

        • Excellent–thanks.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Who can’t figure out why to be generous or considerate to another person without attempting to sacrifice their selfishness to the ooga-booga?

          hopefully this is now on Bob’s short list for Closing Quotes.

        • SteveK

          “Not good from mine” is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about, Bob. You are relying on someone’s personal experience to argue that it’s “not good from mine”. Ironic.

        • Kodie

          He’s gone to try to tell your bone-headedness why the arguments do not stand up. If you’re weak and easily persuaded, that’s your own problem. If you can’t bring the arguments “because combox” then don’t blame everyone else who says your arguments suck.

        • SteveK

          So “not good from mine” is a believable argument that explains why the arguments don’t stand up?

          What were you saying about weak and easily persuaded?

        • Kodie

          Are you illiterate?

        • I’m not talking about personal experience; I’m talking about apologetic arguments that don’t hold water. What are you talking about?

        • SteveK

          I’m talking about the grounding for your belief that these people couldn’t find any good arguments in his books. Your answer was that the arguments are not good from your standpoint, but might be good from their standpoint.

          It seems obvious that “standpoint” include someone’s personal experience – yours and/or others – but I’ll let you correct me if I’m wrong.

        • Kodie

          We can’t argue there aren’t people who would just go along with CS Lewis’ pathetic arguments, but they’re ignorant. Ignorant people exist and they believe a lot of shit just because they want to. Is that so hard to understand?

        • SteveK

          You’re speaking for Bob now? Okay. So “standpoint” is founded upon ignorance? Bob and these people, from their own standpoint, believed certain things. That seems to fit what Bob said above when he based everything on “standpoint” so maybe you’re right.

        • Kodie

          Is your head solid bone?

        • MR

          False equivalency. Don’t you just love these apologetic tactics?

          If someone finds CSL convincing, but hasn’t considered Bob’s rebuttals, or that Lewis is making assertions based on hearsay, then their “standpoint” is not as sound as someone who does take those things into consideration. Not all standpoints are created equal, but SK here wants people to think that every opinion is as valid as every other. [edit: include reference to Bob’s post]

          SK could contribute to the dialog by providing his own standpoint, but, oh those tiny, little comboxes just won’t let him. Who knows what insights he’s withholding from the world! That or he’s just creating a smokescreen: Spread doubt; contribute nothing.

        • Greg G.

          Has anybody pointed out to SK that comboxes expand and scroll?

        • MNb

          SK sticks to the medieval idea that knowledge is dangerous for simple minds like you and me and hence should be kept secret. We might abuse that precious knowledge, you see.

  • UncleanUnicorn

    The whole thing, including his existence – if probably legend.

  • wtfwjtd

    Lord, lunatic, liar, or legend. Why arbitrarily consider these categories as mutually exclusive? There’s plenty of good evidence that Jesus was both “lunatic” and “legend”, and one could probably make a good case for the “liar” category as well.

    So, the odd category out here is “Lord”–once we discard the supernatural from the gospels, like we do with all other ancient literature, there’s no reason whatsoever to ascribe Jesus to this category. But he’s a great fit for the other categories.

  • Cognissive Disco Dance

    “But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.”

    Guilty as charged. I would happily patronizingly say maybe Jesus wasn’t god but I guess he was a smart dude, so as to not offend or even to get someone to shuddup and/or go away for two seconds.

    • I hear lots of people throwing Christians a bone by saying that Jesus was a great teacher, but I don’t see much there.

  • Otto

    This line of logic drives me nuts. Creating 3 possible options and then cutting the legs out of 2 of them doesn’t make the 3rd option correct by default. It is the same flawed think a creationist uses when they argue evolution is wrong…EVEN if they were able to prove evolution to be completely wrong at it’s core that still doesn’t make creationism correct.

    • It’s the logical fallacy of the false dilemma (or trilemma in this case).

    • Sophia Sadek

      It is another way of saying, “I can’t think of anything else, so it must be one of these three things.”

      • Taneli Huuskonen

        “Why did you punch him in the face?”
        “I couldn’t think of anything else to do.”

  • I think I’d go for 90% legend, 10% lunatic.

    Lewis’ trilemma argument has the same weakness as much of historical apologetics does; it falls apart unless we accept that the Gospel writers were in a position to know what they were talking about, and were completely honest and accurate. Worse still, it relies heavily on the latest Gospel, the Gospel of John, since it’s not clear in the others that Jesus was claiming divinity. The idea that non-believers might not accept every quote in the Gospel of John as genuine seems lost on people who use this argument.

    The objections to the Lunatic option seem based on ignorance of what a “lunatic” is. There isn’t a binary choice between rolling on the floor foaming at the mouth, unable to put a coherent sentence together, vs. complete sanity. It’s perfectly possible and common for someone to be delusional and also be capable of speaking coherently and mostly behaving normally. Why couldn’t the same be true of Jesus? The claim to be the Messiah isn’t shown to not be delusional by the fact that the claimant can also say sensible and moral things; most delusional Messiah claimants can do the same.

    • steele

      Even if you discount the Gospels, what about Paul who wrote within 5 years of Christ’s death. Even if you don’t agree with Paul it is hardly likely that 5 years is a long enough time for legendary features to develop (not the 40 years Bob implies).

      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-evidence-for-jesus

      As far as the self delusional claim, I think this the weakest claim an atheist can make of the 3. Liar would seem much more likely as Jesus did not exhibit the typical characteristics of the narcissists who claim messiah status.

      • Dys

        The first of Paul’s letters is thought to have been written about 52 ad. If you consider that Jesus’s death is usually placed in 33 ad, you’re looking at almost 2 decades, not 5 years.

        And I always find it curious that people say that 5, 10, 15, etc. is somehow an insufficient timespan for legendary features in a story to develop considering that we know for a fact that legendary features can manifest rather quickly in narratives.

        • steele

          Sorry you are right I meant to say that Paul’s writing source a tradition that goes back to within 5 years of Jesus’s death but the point is still the same it is less than 40 years that Bob quotes and IMO not enough time for a legend to develop

        • Royce_Benjamin

          The IMO is key in your statement. Your opinion is wrong. Legends arose about Tupac Shakur shortly after his death. Many people have seen him. Legends about people can also develop while they’re still alive.

        • James

          Ditto Elvis – almost immediately many of this fans were claiming that his death was faked.

        • steele

          Oh you mean like the legend that Barack Obama is a good president, true but history and reality shows that to be false. That aside the only people that want to believe Jesus is legendary are atheists and those that can’t accept the miraculous.

          I did see the Tupac hologram though so Tupac may be alive, lol

        • Dys

          You might try actually addressing his point instead of completely avoiding it. Otherwise it might start looking like you don’t have anything approaching a real rebuttal, and are just hoping nobody notices.

        • steele

          When you can pony up something better than 9/11 conspiracies as evidence of legend maybe I will take you seriously enough to respond

        • Dys

          In other words, you’re going to completely dismiss the fact that legendary attributes can attach themselves to stories in far less than 5 years because it’s inconvenient to your beliefs. Got it.

        • steele

          Yep just like you ignore plain evident facts of authenticity to Jesus life that most historical scholars accept.

        • Greg G.

          You are unaware of the problems with the evidence.

        • Dys

          Nah, I think he’s aware, but as he’s made clear, if it’s inconvenient to his beliefs, he’s ignoring it.

        • Greg G.

          Anyone who wins the cognitive dissonance battle, loses.

        • TheNuszAbides

          In Soviet Russia, whoa is you!

        • Rudy R

          There may be a majority of historical scholars that accept the existence of a man named Jesus, but the same majority accept that he was NOT the son of God, a miracle worker, etc. but just an itinerant, rabbi. There is, however, legitimate scholarship that proposes that Jesus never existed.

        • Dys

          Except, seeing as how I’ve not actually given my position on the matter, you’re lying out of ignorance.

          But thanks for admitting you’re going to ignore inconvenient facts. And considering that exaggeration and legend building are far more likely than that a magic man was spawned from an aethereal magician to work miracles, I daresay you’re not qualified to judge what deserves to be taken seriously on the subject.

        • MNb

          We don’t. We just refuted your claim that legends can’t develop within five years.
          Are you dishonest or lying? Both perhaps.

        • MNb

          Obama being a good or bad president is not a legend. So you don’t even know what the word means.

        • Alicia

          Or Elvis, who was seen in supermarkets for years after his death, including by a coworker of my mother, who claimed that he winked at her.
          My mom pointed out (to me, not her friend) that if you were a man of a certain age who looked like Elvis, having chances to wink at astonished old ladies in supermarkets would pretty much be what made life worth living.

        • Philmonomer

          This “not enough time for legend to develop” stuff is nonsense. Legends can develop shortly after people die, or even while they are alive.

          The only people who believe “not enough time for legend to develop” are people who want to believe.

        • MNb

          “IMO not enough time”
          Your opinion is simply dead wrong, because refuted by empirical evidence. That evidence is presented on this very page.

        • steele

          Really how so, because someone quotes conspiracy theories and mentions George Washington legends. This isn’t even worth refuting if that is your evidence for Jesus being a legend. It’s rather laughable really.

          http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-myth.html

          Sorry my opinion is easily better than those “evidences” lol

        • Dys

          The “not enough time” excuse is really just wishful thinking to preserve belief, and not something that deserves to be taken seriously.

        • MNb

          “This isn’t even worth refuting if that is your evidence for Jesus being a legend.”
          First of all I didn’t claim that Jesus was a legend. I claimed that a lot of legends were attached to Jesus.
          In the second place I was addressing “IMO not enough time” and nothing more. This is refuted by the GW legends which were developed while he still was alive and by my own link to 9/11 legends. If it’s possible to develop legends on such short notice in the 18th and 21st Century we can totally assume it was possible in the 1st Century as well, when people were far less skeptical.

          Further what Dys writes. You’re the laughable one, which is confirmed by your link, which is totally irrelevant for my point.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Paul *himself* complains that other people have gotten the story wrong. Whatever the length of time between Jesus and Paul, it was obviously–based only on the evidence in Paul’s letters–long enough for multiple versions of the story to develop.

      • Greg G.

        Paul refers to “Jesus”, “Christ”, “Jesus Christ”, and “Christ Jesus” in the seven epistles with the least disputed authenticity over 300 times plus by pronoun or the ambiguous “Lord” but usually about him in heaven. The other three dozen or so times he talks about Jesus, it is in terms of the Old Testament, not as a contemporaneous person.

        • steele

          Stop listening to this Richard Carrier crap. Paul references Jesus’s brother James in Galatians.

          http://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/

          Paul was referring to the real person of Jesus. This mythicist garbage is just that.

        • James

          The mythicists have a legitimate point: when the supernatural elements are removed from the story, which is customary with historical interpretation (every Egyptian pharaoh, for example, for over 3k years claimed to be a living god), then there isn’t much left to the story, all of it told at best second hand (i.e. hearsay). Where Carrier goes wrong, in my opinion, is there are embarrassing elements to the story that appear to have been redacted and reworked by later writers, which indicates something of a real man is at the root of the legends. For example, the Roman’s didn’t perform censuses the way the Gospels depict it and Jesus wasn’t a Roman citizen or even a resident of the Roman empire; Galilee was a nominally independent puppet state circa 1 CE. The story seems to be a literary deus ex machina, conveniently explaining why a famous Nazarene would have in fact been born in Bethlehem. The later elaboration of the virgin birth seems to have been a response to common criticism (Celsus, etc) that Jesus was illegitimate & abandoned by Mary’s husband. So many legendary qualities were attributed to him between 5 to ~200 years after his death that it’s tempting to dismiss all of it as hopelessly unreliable.

        • Greg G.

          Where Carrier goes wrong, in my opinion, is there are embarrassing elements to the story that appear to have been redacted and reworked by later writers, which indicates something of a real man is at the root of the legends.

          Historians typically reject miracle stories in ancient writings. But Randel Helms, in Gospel Fictions, shows that the miracles in Mark come from the literature of the day. Other scholars have shown that other passages in Mark come the literature of the day, too. Nearly every passage in Mark is a reworking of a combination of Greek literature with some OT references included, or just OT based. We can also identify many of the sources for the other gospels. So if we dismiss those passages, too, we can see that the gospels are fiction.

          Then when we stop reading the gospels into the epistles and see that they are not interested in the life or teachings of Jesus, we have to ask “Why?” Notice that every mention of Jesus, besides the adulation verses, has information that can be found in the OT.

          I think the Nazarenes, a Messianic sect of Judaism, thought Jesus had lived and died in their distant past, after David but before Isaiah, and all they knew was what they gleaned from their scriptures.

          After the destruction of Jerusalem, all they had were some epistles and some gnostic writings until Mark wrote an allegory which was taken as history.

        • Greg G.

          I am not aware that Carrier has made any of the points I posted. Everything I said is from my own personal research.

          I have read about a dozen of Ehrman’s books. I thought Carrier was a bit over the top with some of his criticism but the link you gave is mostly Ehrman admitting Carrier was right on those points.

          I was aware of the evidence for and against the historical Jesus but I thought there must be something that I don’t know for why scholars insisted that Jesus was real. I expected Did Jesus Exist? to lay out the evidence in a way I had never seen before. It didn’t.

          Then I read Doherty’s The Jesus Puzzle and Price’s The Christ-Myth Theory. Many of their explanations make more sense than the traditional interpretation.

          Galatians 3 begins with Paul asking who has bewitched them. After Paul spent the first two chapters discrediting Peter and James, we know he knows the answer to his question. Paul recounted the incident in Antioch where Peter ate with the Gentiles until the Jews of the “circumcision faction” arrived and tells how he stood up to Peter about that.

          Paul shows disdain for Peter, James, and John by saying he doesn’t care about the positions of the leaders in Galatians 2:6 and specifies them by name in Galatians 2:9. He includes James as being part of the “circumcision faction” as being who sent the two that made Peter stop eating with the Gentiles in Galatians 2:11-12. Paul displays his disdain for them with great sarcasm in Galatians 5:11-12 by saying, “I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!”

          Now consider the opening to the letter. Paul often says that he was sent by God but in Galatians 1:1 he specifies that he was not sent by human authorities. What human authority sends people on missions? Paul points out that James does that in Galatians 2:12. So when Paul calls James, the Lord’s brother, he is sarcastically saying that James has put himself at the level of Jesus.

          In 1 Corinthians 9, someone seems to have questioned whether the Corinthians should be supporting Paul financially. In verse 5, he uses the same sarcasm about “the brothers of the Lord”.

      • Otto

        Paul didn’t report on any of the words spoken by Jesus that the Gospels report on…so Paul’s writings can be dismissed as to the Tri-lemma issue.

      • MNb

        “it is hardly likely that 5 years is a long enough time for legendary features to develop”
        You’re immensely underestimating human imagination. An example:

        http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/sep/08/terrorism.september11

        Within a year.

        “Jesus did not exhibit the typical characteristics of the narcissists who claim messiah status.”

        He didn’t? The Sermon on the Mount contains quite some narcissism – Jesus repeatedly trying to surpass OT regulations after declaring that he came to fullfill the law. Quite an ego.
        Other examples are Mark 3:31-33, Mattheus 19:29 and Lucas 9:59-62.

        • Otto

          Not to mention the “No one can come to the Father except through me” quote…that is completely narcissistic. He pretty much said “It is my way or the highway”.

        • MichaelNewsham

          Or how about cursing and destroying a fig tree that doesn’t miraculously produce fruit out of season just because Jesus happens to be walking by and feels like having a fig?

        • MNb

          I’m willing to let that one pass, because that story is meant as criticism of the jewish people. It’s not about him. But several other examples put Jesus himself in the centre of all attention, whether you take them literally or metaphorically.

        • Kodie

          Anyone who instructs people to cut off ties to their family and home to come follow him is speaking cult language.

        • Alicia

          Assuming, of course, that he said it at all. John’s Jesus is a little…. special.

        • josh

          “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.”

          Typical narcissist authoritarian.

      • As Otto said, Paul didn’t quote Jesus to support his beliefs about who and what he was. So Paul’s writings are irrelevant to the Trilemma argument; they show only what Paul thought about Jesus, not what Jesus claimed about himself, and it is the latter that is important for the Trilemma argument.

        Your statement about Paul presumably comes from your source’s claim that “for example, what he passes on in his first letter to the Corinthian church about the resurrection appearances, has been dated to within five years after Jesus’s death”. This is not a statement about the date of Paul’s writing; it is speculation about the date of a source he may have used, a source which may have been changed either by Paul or by his predecessors, and which may have been an oral tradition not written down before Paul. There’s plenty of room there for legendary development, and it tells us nothing about the accuracy of the rest of what Paul wrote.

        (Your mistake there is not particularly surprising, since Christian apologetics tends to be written in a way that encourages such misinterpretations. WLC can correctly state that he hasn’t actually lied, since he only made a claim about one passage of Paul’s that probably does have an earlier origin, and which could plausibly come from almost any time between Jesus’ death and Paul’s writing. But he should realise that the casual or non-critical reader will latch onto the five-year claim and incorrectly think that we have written Christian texts reliably dated to that time. We don’t.)

        What behaviours of Jesus do you think were incompatible with delusion?

        • steele

          As I indicated below I did mean to say Paul cites a source that goes back to within 5 years of Jesus’s death, even that being said Paul was writing within 20 years (less then the 40 Bob claims) of Jesus’s death and was speaking with people that knew Jesus directly.

          Galatians 1:18-19

          18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_to_the_Galatians

          Paul wrote Galatians (which even Bart Ehrman an agnostic accepts) in the 50s at the latest within 20 years of Jesus’s death and referred to people that knew Jesus personally that where still alive.

          Paul’s accounts are anything but legendary, he refers to a real person Jesus, says he is the Son of God and rose from the dead. It’s not that complicated, you may not agree with the theological spin but to say there is legendary embellishment is rather naive. Paul quotes sayings of Jesus

          Acts 20:35

          35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

          This doesn’t read like legendary embellishment to me, why doesn’t Paul come up with something with a little more wow factor. You might say the Gospel writers did embellish Jesus life with the miracles (not that I agree) but most of the miracles where done in a way to teach a message and Jesus would use to glorify God.

          Lastly as far as Jesus behavior his compassion and love of the poor, plus his great teachings hardly seem compatible with a self aggrandizing megalomaniac like the Koreshs/Jim Jones type who abused the people under their leadership.

        • Otto

          Ummm….Paul didn’t write Acts…so we are back to the point that Paul didn’t report on what Jesus said concerning the issues of the Ti-Lemma.

        • steele

          What do you think Acts is? It is a historical account written by Luke, a traveling companion of Paul, recording what Paul said. What about

          1st Corinthians 11:23-25

          23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[f] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

          Here is Paul quoting what Jesus said at the last supper with his disciples.

        • Otto

          It was written by “Luke”…not Paul and you attributed the Acts quote to Paul in an effort to place the source to within 5 years of Jesus (a stretch itself). The earliest dating of Acts is 63CE with many placing it much later. I just don’t find this line of argument to be the least bit honest.

          As to Corinthians…I don’t care what Paul said regarding Jesus because he never met Jesus and he claimed all his information regarding Jesus, including this passage of the Lord’s Supper, came from his Revelation…so nothing Paul wrote can be connected to the C.S. Lewis Tri-Lemma issue of whether Jesus was who JESUS SAID he was. All of that would come from the Gospels which were written much later, plenty of time for legends to formulate, i.e. your argument regarding the Tri-Lemma is a non-sequitur.

        • steele

          So Paul writing in the 50s less than 20 years after Jesus’s death was just making up what Jesus said and the disciples James, Peter, etc. just gave him the right hand of fellowship because why exactly. You don’t think the disciples would have corrected Paul and his lying about what Jesus said?

          Read the reasonable faith link Paul is citing an old Christian creed regarding the resurrection that goes back to within 5 years of Jesus’s death.

        • Otto

          Paul specifically said he got ALL his information regarding Jesus from revelation and specifically discounts all information he supposedly got from James, Peter, etc….don’t blame me for the issues that causes. The point is you can’t use Paul as a citation for whether Jesus was who JESUS SAID he was, and that point stands.

          As to WLC…when the term “intellectual dishonesty” is used he is the first person that comes to mind. I am surprised people take him as seriously as they do. He is slick though…I will give him that.

        • steele

          Except in Corinthians were he says

          1st Corinthians 15:3-5

          3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

          He received that from the Christians before him not revelation. And yes I know the Galatians verse and they are not in contradiction.

        • Greg G.

          Paul says he got his info from revelation but the revelations seems to come from scripture. Paul uses the same word all the way through 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 for “appeared to” that he uses for himself. Many Bible translation say “according to the scriptures” instead of “in accordance with the ccriptures” but the former seems to be more accurate.

          Christ died for our sins

          Isaiah 53:5 (NRSV)
          But he was wounded for our transgressions,
          crushed for our iniquities;
          upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
          and by his bruises we are healed.

          that he was buried

          Isaiah 53:9 (NRSV)
          They made his grave with the wicked
          and his tomb with the rich,
          although he had done no violence,
          and there was no deceit in his mouth.

          he was raised on the third day

          Hosea 6:2 (NRSV)
          After two days he will revive us;
          on the third day he will raise us up,
          that we may live before him.

          So Paul is saying that Cephas, the apostles, the 500, and James saw Jesus the same way Paul did, they read about him in the scriptures.

        • Otto

          As I said, what Paul claimed about Jesus has nothing to do with the Tri-Lemma issue. The Tri-Lemma only concerns what Jesus supposedly said about himself and nothing you have written refutes my point about that.

          And yes they are in contradiction…just because you and other believers like the dishonest WLC have rationalized away these issues doesn’t change the obvious contradiction.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m worn out in this shit, but nearly everything you’ve attempted to quote Paul saying is believed to he a later interpolation into his work. The mention of the 12 and the 5oo almost certanly is. The last supper passage is part of a much longer interpolation a chapter long, and is the only instance of Paul supposedly quoting something Jesus said or did. Most of ther est by you is wishful thinking that has been refuted numerous times.

        • Otto

          But…but…William Lane Craig!!!!

        • Pofarmer

          William Lane Craig is a charlatan, and anyone who unquestionably reads him is an imbecile.

        • MNb

          I have a hunch that was actually Otto’s point ….

        • wtfwjtd

          “Paul is citing an old Christian creed regarding the resurrection that goes back to within 5 years of Jesus’s death.”

          –steele

          “For I neither received (the gospel) from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

          –Paul, Galatians 1:12
          So you are calling Paul a liar, and are agreeing with Otto. Nice Job.
          You don’t have any idea when Jesus was born, or when he died, either. Trying to claim “an old Christian creed” “goes back within 5 years of Jesus’s death” is simply wild speculation and wishful thinking. There is no evidence whatever to support this nonsense, it’s just ad hoc to try and rescue your weak assertions.

        • steele

          My weak assertions like what the facts, lol

        • Otto

          Ummm…like the fact you attributed Acts to Paul and when called on it you basically said ‘yeah but Paul knew Luke’ as if that somehow fixed your flawed “fact”

        • wtfwjtd

          …The Holey Bible, as edited by steele

        • Pofarmer

          Acts is fiction, based on Josephus.

        • Alicia

          I find this theory that Acts is based on Josephus very curious. I mean, yes, they use the same story tropes, but saying one is based on another is like saying one formula western is based on another. They are cultural artifacts taking advantage of the narrative norms of their setting.

        • Pofarmer

          What do you mean “used the same tropes.”?

        • Alicia

          My understanding of the reasoning for saying that Acts is “based on” Josephus is that they both feature similar exciting chase scenes and ship wrecks and damsels in distress and thrilling confrontation scenes on the synagogue steps, or whatever it is that they both feature (been years since I read Acts, never read Josephus).
          My point is that two works of dramatized recent history can have the same features not because they are based on each other but because they are both following accepted narrative norms.
          Or in other words, correlation does not equal causation.

        • Pofarmer

          Either way, it doesn’t speak well for the historicity if Acts. But, there are numerous reasons to think The author of Luke used Josephus as a source.

        • Greg G.

          Well they could be coincidence. That works for the first four or five coincidences but when it gets up into the dozens, it shows a pattern. It is more likely that one knew of the other. When you look at Acts 21:38, there are three elements (the Egyptian, the Sicarii, and the wilderness) which appear in two consecutive sections of the same chapter of Book 20 of Antiquities of the Jews, each about three different things. Josephus says there were many bad guys in Judea and lists three of them. The same three are mentioned by Luke.

          You underestimate the details between the shipwrecks:

          Acts 24 through Acts 28 and Vita (Life of Josephus 3)
          Procurator of Judea was Felix (Acts 24:2)
          Jewish religious leaders (Paul in Acts vs. priests in the Josephus account)
          Felix imprisons Jewish religious leaders (Acts 24:27)
          Prisoners are sent to Rome (Acts 25:10-12)
          The Jewish religious leaders are unjustly accused (Acts 24-26)
          Both sail to Rome (Acts 27:1)
          The trip is to undo the injustice done (Acts 25:11)
          The ship sinks (Acts 27:41-44)
          In the Adriatic Sea (Acts 27:27)
          Josephus and Paul become leaders (Acts 27:31-38)
          Everybody lives (Acts 27:44)
          They go through Puteoli (Acts 28:13-14)

        • Alicia

          The idea that Acts is written by Paul’s companion Luke has not been accepted by serious Bible scholars for over 100 years.
          That both the book called Acts and the book called Luke are written by the same person is accepted, but no one pretends to know anymore who that person was.

        • Bob seems to be making the 40 year claim exclusively about the Gospels (although near the end of that article it’s more ambiguously worded. If you read this Bob, I would suggest adjusting the reference to “New Testament books written 40 to 70 years after the death of Jesus”, to make it more clear that it refers only to the Gospels and not to the NT in general).

          Paul’s meeting with James and Paul doesn’t do much to demonstrate the reliability of his claims about Jesus, since he’s not simply repeating what those witnesses have told him. He states openly in the same letter that his information about Jesus doesn’t come from human sources, he’s getting it through what he thinks is a direct revelation from Jesus. Paul is making historical claims based at least in part on visions, in order to promote a particular theological view of a historical person; if that doesn’t qualify as legendary embellishment, I’m not sure what would.

          Acts has an extra possible layer of embellishment, since it isn’t written by Paul himself, so we also have to account for whatever purposes the author of Acts had. What Paul says here isn’t relevant for the Trilemma anyway, since it doesn’t mention Jesus’ claims about himself. At most, it shows that Jesus came up with a nice platitude once, which is compatible with any of the options in the Trilemma.

          Lastly as far as Jesus behavior his compassion and love of the poor,
          plus his great teachings hardly seem compatible with a self aggrandizing
          megalomaniac like the Koreshs/Jim Jones type who abused the people
          under their leadership.

          Most delusional people are not Jim Jones. Violent cult leaders like that get in the news and stay in people’s memories, while the guys who have a couple of crazy beliefs while being nice to everyone don’t get that famous. They just get known as the local eccentric, or if they’re more successful, as the founder of one of the myriad small cults that nobody cares about because they’re peaceful.

      • Atrus

        Legends can easily develop within 5 years of someone’s death. Hell George Washington had legends develop about him WHILE HE WAS STILL LIVING! Also we don’t know what all is original. Its possible the story written only 5 years after Jesus died has been edited and changed and embellished upon by people coming after growing the legend that Paul had started.

      • James

        Paul never even met Jesus and he did not get along well with Peter and James – he’s not the best source to rely upon. Legend can and does spring up in a hurry – think about the Roswell “aliens,” JFK conspiracy theories; Big Foot sightings, etc. Or to use a religious reference, the Bab (Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi) – when he was executed by firing squad in 1850, almost immediately his followers were claiming they had witnessed a miracle – that the Bab had survived the initial fusillade completely unharmed and he could have escaped, but he refused to do so, and that he then willingly accepted martyrdom on the second attempt. They even miraculously recovered the “intact” body, despite it having been fed to dogs according to the Muslim executioners. Of course, only followers of the Bahai faith accept the miracle claims. As for Paul, he never claimed Jesus was the son of God, a rather important omission on his part.

        • steele

          “As for Paul, he never claimed Jesus was the son of God, a rather important omission on his part.”

          Ummm…yeah he did

          Romans 1:1-4

          1 Paul, a servant[a] of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David[b] according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,

        • James

          Yes, and he also never met him. By your logic Muhammad was the great prophet of Allah because that’s what his followers believed, if they had never actually met Muhammad.

      • wtfwjtd

        The third paragraph down in that links states: “This doesn’t mean that there aren’t sources outside the Bible which refer to Jesus. There are.” And then it lists not a single source outside the Bible! As for that famous Josephus passage, it’s widely believed even among believing scholars to be at least a partial forgery. Besides this was written after the time of Jesus’ supposed life, not during, so it’s second-hand info at best anyway.

        Here’s another howler from WLC:
        “Even the most critical historian can confidently assert that a Jew named Jesus worked as a teacher and wonder-worker in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius”

        Well, yeah, historians agree there were at least dozens of these wonder-boys roaming around claiming to be the messiah! That one of them got himself killed, and his body disappeared in criminal’s grave, is no big deal, and hardly earth-shattering. Legends spring up from just this sort of thing all the time. So what?
        You, and your pal WLC, are going to need to do a lot better than this. This weak-as-water nonsense is mind salve for the already convinced believer, and nothing more. More accurately, this should be called “The unreasonable faith.”

      • Brian

        5 years isn’t long enough time for legendary features to develop? Turn on the news and you’ll see legendary features developing in hours or days. AND, we have the ability to fact check stuff now in ways they wouldn’t have then.

    • And your thoughts on the Legend option?

      • I wouldn’t say that Jesus is entirely legendary, but there’s not much historical trace of him left, and the historical figure has mostly been obscured by legend. The Christian conception of Jesus is essentially a legendary figure, distantly inspired by a Galilean cult leader.

        We shouldn’t treat legend and historical figure as mutually exclusive alternatives. Why can’t it be true that Jesus really existed, and also true that the allusions to divinity in John’s Gospel are legendary additions?

        • I’ve never stated that Jesus didn’t exist. Yes, of course there could be a totally natural dude about whom supernatural stories were later told.

        • That wasn’t aimed at you specifically, more a comment on how the two alternatives are too often treated. On one side, there are examples such as Steele’s replies to me, in which he seemed to think that Paul meeting Jesus’ brother was somehow relevant to the question of whether unrelated claims about Jesus were legendary. On the other side are the mythicists, who try to extend the legend hypothesis to cover data that I think are more easily explained by the existence of a real figure.

          It seems most plausible to me that Jesus is a mixture of a real person who led a small messianic movement (Lunatic), and mythical embellishments that his cult added after he died (Legend).

  • Wow, how intellectually dishonest of Lewis to simply advise ignore things you can’t explain. I don’t agree with him, but I didn’t think he’d go that far.

  • MichaelNewsham

    “He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg—”

    As I point out whenever the Trilemma comes up, most of the heavy lifting in the argument comes from the use of “poached egg”. Replace it with what Jesus is said to have claimed, and it reads

    “”He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is God–”
    and the listener will immediately recall any number of stories, jokes, cartoons, historical figures and fictional characters who claimed they were a god/goddess, God Himself, or a relative of God. I knew a psych nurse who worked with the criminally insane who knew two Marys, both the Mother of God.

    Put that way, the argument loses its bunch, as it leaves the reader with the feeling that, yeah, Jesus could be just another in this long string of deluded people.

  • Aram McLean

    Hey, didn’t I see that unicorn tapestry at Stirling Castle?

    • Rare Bat

      I thought I saw it on, how appropriate, one of the Narnia books…

  • Royce_Benjamin

    Against our better judgment, let’s assume Jesus really did say everything the gospels depict him as saying. The Lord, Liar, Lunatic argument still fails in quite a rage inducing fashion. I’m talking about the lunatic option. Lewis seems to be relying on an ignorant and extremely harmful misconception of mental illness. The mentally ill cover a wide spectrum. The vast majority are not the type that fling poo and need to be restrained in a strait jacket to stop them from drinking their own urine. Most are able to function very well in society to the point that you probably aren’t even aware of how many people you interact with on a daily basis suffer from some form of mental illness. Lewis, writing more than half a century ago, might be forgiven for his ignorance. People today, not so much. This Lord, Liar, Lunatic argument helps perpetuate an utterly false and harmful lie about the mentally ill, which in turn contributes to the stigma they face. That’s why this stupid argument infuriates me.

    • Sophia Sadek

      It is fashionable to characterize religious figures as lunatics. Las Casas has been called mentally ill for his efforts to curb Spanish atrocities against native Americans. The accusation fits very well with Plato’s paradigm of the Cave of Ignorance. Anyone who has exposure to a higher level of education will come across as a lunatic to those whose exposure is limited.

      • steele

        I think Lewis’s is correct to say a man who claims to be God either is lying or a lunatic. Jesus made bold claims to divinity that if he was not God I think most people would agree he is a nut job. It has nothing to do with education in this case although I would agree with you Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth when all he was trying to do was educate them.

        As I said I think the lunatic option of the trilemma is the weakest for the atheist to attack. I am not a big fan of the trilemma only because legend could be an alternative, not a very plausible one but one none the less.

        • Sophia Sadek

          There is what Jesus claimed and then there is what others claimed that Jesus claimed.

        • MNb

          And I think Lewis forget a few options – like Jesus deluding himself.

          “most people would agree he is a nut job.”
          Not in that time and place.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          Jesus made bold claims to divinity…

          Your mileage may vary, depending on which gospel you reference. Which is a curious thing in itself…

        • Philmonomer

          I think Lewis’s is correct to say a man who claims to be God either is lying or a lunatic.

          Taking the synoptic gospels at face value, he clearly believed that he was in a special relationship with God, as he was ushering in the kingdom of God–where the world will be transformed. He doesn’t actually claim that he is God, though.

          Jesus made bold claims to divinity that if he was not God I think most people would agree he is a nut job.

          I don’t think he made bold claims to divinity. To the extent he said anything bold along these lines, he did so in private, to his followers. If you are a follower, you don’t think the person you are following is a nutjob. Moreover, the writing down of these comments came years after the comments were (allegedly) said. If you’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus is God, it would be fairly easy to read back God-ness into such comments. That is, I’m skeptical he made them at the time.

        • I agree that the lunatic option is the most difficult to refute since such a claim would require more information than is provided in what little is attributed to him. We can’t be sure the historical Jesus existed or which if any of the deeds and statements attributed to him are recounted accurately. Any claim of lunacy would be a stretch. There little enough evidence that he existed and even if he did no way to verify if what is in the gospels is accurate or not.

        • Kodie

          I think these people have no idea what lunacy would entail. They all describe “transcendent” experiences that put them in direct connection and relationship with this figment of their imagination. I’ve known people who think (at least some of the time) that they are the second coming of Christ, and it doesn’t take much.

          People who believe they have psychic abilities are similar. Cold reading is something of a parlor trick and we know how it works, but I don’t even think people who call themselves “psychic” understand what they are doing. It’s not a talent everyone has or tunes in to, and they are themselves fooled by other people who claim to have psychic powers, and are told they have a “gift” and taught how to train themselves to “intuit” the clues and put together some kind of presentation. Well, you get to the part where they are just saying whatever comes to mind… and no, I don’t think all of them are lying, just like believers in Jesus aren’t technically lying.

          Believing as a person that you are more special and gifted than another person with special powers or talents they all don’t have, and using this “bonus” as an attraction is not that difficult. I am not thinking of American Idol and America’s Got Talent auditions and the like – most of those people are probably more talented than anyone they know, and yet they’re awful. They are mostly not shy about it either, and devastated to learn that they should probably stick to singing in the shower. If you do have a talent and are not shy, you have a shot at getting people to follow everything you do. People look up to athletes and actors and musicians having political opinions, and they abuse their influence even if they are uninformed. You can’t even say “abuse” because those people believe they are smart (and some of them legitimately are) and informed and have been “given a responsibility” to “make a difference” if they can use their influence to do so.

          So was Jesus full-on crazy? I don’t think it needs to go that far for someone to take an elevated status in their community thinking their message is vital to share and “save” people from whatever they weren’t saved from before. Just look around today, aren’t there some people you wish would just listen to you or someone you’d admire instead of sticking with their shitty old ways? Leadership is a quality people can have, it’s just that the message may be good or terrible. I also think the legend of Jesus has grown since the bible was finished, so whatever Jesus might have said has been further exalted, elaborated, exaggerated to support whatever church wants to make money sending out parishioners as pawns to gain new members and keep the cash flowing. It’s hard for me to think anyone involved really understands how it’s about the money, and always think it’s their job to save everyone from dying and going to hell or save everyone from having an abortion or being gay, save everyone from behaving against their political priorities and internal laws they decide are “higher” morality. I hardly ever seen any of them walking the whole walk themselves, they are looking outside themselves for persons “lower” than they are to talk to about Jesus and save them, but in their daily life, justify being selfish, greedy, entitled, etc.

          This is an interesting (kind of long) article about a guy and how he was recruited to the KKK, promoted to leader of his chapter, and got out of it with much difficulty to create a recovery program to help others. It also relates to religions and messages of “love” and “morality” used to attract members, as well as some brain science:
          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/hatred/

        • MNb

          I rather think these people pull off a very common trick: use words in an ambiguous meaning and change meaning when it suits.

        • Kodie

          Anyone since Jesus who claims to be a messiah is someone they would admittedly be suspicious of and ordinarily detained for public safety in a mental ward. Because it’s crazy! to say you’re god. They’re not asking the subject to prove they’re a messiah, they are denying anyone alive the possibility of being their lord returning in the flesh. Isn’t that interesting? It’s never plausible or possible to claim you are god and actually be one. Bordering on offensive and blasphemous, but at the very least, put that person in a holding cell for observation and medical care. That’s the fullest benefit of the doubt they are willing to extend to anyone claiming messiah.

    • James

      Well said. A narcissist, for example, is quite capable of passing themselves off as a normal person. They are often charismatic and they believe their own grandiose self-image. And narcissism was not a well studied, reasonably well understood medical diagnosis back then.

  • Sophia Sadek

    The people who think of Jesus as some sort of divine being are the ones who pay the least attention to what he taught his students. They put an image of him on a pedestal and kowtow to it with the assumption that they could not possibly learn from anything he had to say. Those who actually took him seriously were persecuted as heretics.

  • Brian

    I get that Lewis didn’t, in the 1940’s, have access to Wikipedia, but we do. No one would be so crazy as to claim to be the Messiah?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_claimed_to_be_Jesus

    BOOM.

  • RichardSRussell

    Even if we accept Lewis’s trilemma at face value, surely the “Lord” option is the least credible of the 3 alternatives.

  • Brian

    Bob, I think you could go further than just adding the one other option: I think that he also could have been simply wrong, either accidentally or intentionally.

    He could have genuinely convinced himself that he was God (assuming he ever even said that), and simply been incorrect. This would seem analogous to me to someone who sincerely believes they’re psychic. They don’t have to be insane to not be able to read minds.

    He could have also been tricked, and purposefully made to believe he was the Messiah, for any number of reasons. This would be analogous to one of your friends throwing a rock to make a noise while you’re, say, pretending you have telekinetic abilities. Or saying you’re making correct guesses about what you’re thinking when Jesus was actually getting it wrong.

    His disciples could have believed him and simply reinforced his belief that he was correct, in the same way that no-touch martial arts teachers believe they’re really gifted because they’re students ACT like they are:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEDaCIDvj6I

    I suppose ‘deluded’ could be a better term for this.

    • Yep, those are interesting options as well. Thanks for adding them.

      I’m just eager to jump to the one that has all the evidence behind it: Legend.

  • SteveK

    >> “But this ignores the ferociously obvious fourth possibility, that the entire Jesus story is legend”

    Not ignored, but rather considered and then rejected as nonsensical an idea as the possibility that Obama is Kenyan. Hey, it’s possible.

    • Greg G.

      Maybe Jesus never claimed to be the son of God and those stories are legends.

      • James

        Yep. Which is what Biblical scholarship seems to show.

        • SteveK

          Seriously? Studying the Bible leads to the conclusion that Bible doesn’t teach that Jesus was God?

        • Otto

          That was my conclusion…yes.

        • James

          If you read it in the original language and read it critically, yes, it doesn’t support the nonsense that modern Christians say about it.

      • SteveK

        Maybe Obama is Kenyan.

        • Otto

          Alex?….Alex Jones…? Is that you?

          Jesus Christ on a cracker WTF does Obama have to do with anything. Holy red herring Batman!

        • SteveK

          It has nothing to do with it. It was a statement with as much possibility of being true as Greg’s statement. It’s easy to say things.

          Speaking of easy to say statements, look at Greg’s recent reply. It’s another statement. I could reply with something equally possibly true, but I’m not going to.

        • MNb

          “with as much possibility of being true”
          How do you calculate that?

        • SteveK

          Possibly true in the logical sense.

        • MNb

          Well, in the logical sense it’s also possibly true that the Earth is flat, so that says exactly nothing.

        • SteveK

          Exactly. “Nothing” is the term that sums up Bob’s post.

        • Greg G.

          Just as some ideologues made up stories about Obama being born in Kenya, some ideologues may have made up stories about what Jesus said over the years.

        • josh

          Maybe Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But the smart money says otherwise.

    • James

      History is full of self-claimed prophets, gods incarnated as humans, historical figures ascending into heaven; theophanies, visions, etc – and how many of them do you accept as credible? Do you perhaps attribute them to legend or myth-making? Not a single claim of supernatural or paranormal activities has ever been substantiated – that’s a heck of a burden of proof that you’re just assuming away with a wave of your hand. Supernatural claims have a very long history of being discredited and shown to have far more humble, mundane causes. I need more than a 30+ year a-contemporaneous, non-eyewitness hearsay source before I’ll believe any supernatural explaination.

      • SteveK

        My answer varies depending on who you’re talking about.

        • Otto

          Ahh…special pleading for the win…

        • SteveK

          You don’t know my reasons, yet you somehow know I’m guilty of special pleading. Jeepers.

        • Greg G.

          James asked, “how many of them do you accept as credible?” about “self-claimed prophets, gods incarnated as humans, historical figures ascending into heaven; theophanies, visions, etc”

          Do you think any are credible? Do you have a long list such claimants that you find credible?

        • SteveK

          I’m not an expert on any of these people, but if you want an answer – even an “I don’t know” answer – get specific.

        • Greg G.

          Do you think Jesus is credible as a self-claimed prophet, a god incarnated as human, or a historical figure ascending into heaven?

          Do you know of any other character in history that you would attribute any of those to?

        • SteveK

          I do think Jesus is credible. I don’t know any other character in history that held the same credibility markers that Jesus did.

        • Greg G.

          Thank you for the straight answer. But why squawk about special pleading?

        • SteveK

          Because you don’t know my reasons for finding certain things credible (or more credible on a relative scale). You can’t know if special pleading is occurring without knowing the reasoning.

        • Greg G.

          Will your reasons fit in a combox?

        • Otto

          Well I usually don’t need to know a persons reasons for accepting dubious supernatural claims but not others to know they are using special pleading…because every single person I have come in contact with that does accept some supernatural claims but not others has used it.

          But I will give you the benefit of the doubt here…show me your reasoning to accept some supernatural claims and reject others sans special pleading. Be the first to pull it off.

        • SteveK

          I don’t have the time to address such a generalized question. If you have a specific question, ask.

        • Otto

          What makes your supernatural beliefs correct and all others incorrect?

        • James

          I had a long conversation recently with an apologist – I told him he was using special pleading, which rather irritated him. Apologists like pointing out the superficial differences between Christianity and any given other religion, totally oblivious to the fact that other religions are equally superficially different from one another. And all of them rely on “faith” to cover the considerable gap between the extraordinary nature of their claims and the paucity of evidence that supports them.

        • Otto

          Oh Christians like to pretend there is actual historical evidence for their beliefs (empty tomb, eyewitnesses, etc). When it is all looked into there is ZERO evidence that would be allowed in a court of law or that any historical scholar would accept for any of the supernatural claims. It all boils down to the same empty belief as any other religion. There is more historical evidence of Joseph Smith and Mormonism…yet they reject that out of hand for the very same reasons we reject Christianity.

        • Kodie

          They liken their religious beliefs to settling on a spouse/mate for life. Once you find them, you stop looking around. But that’s not even how marriage works – it’s quite common to have a spouse, it’s quite common to have had several, and to not lose your eyesight or curiosity for another after you’re married, but that’s not even the point. Every spouse has a spouse, and they are all different. Just because they stopped looking doesn’t mean the one they found is the only one they could have married, and if they die or divorce or get rejected, it is not unheard of in the least to replace your mate with another one.

          I know what I’m trying to say but I don’t have enough time to say it. There are billions of other people on this earth, many of them adequate to marry. They don’t all like you back, and that’s just another thing, but they aren’t all the same, interchangeable human being (unless that’s what you’re into, I guess? some archetype who adheres to a list of qualities you’re superficially looking for, like a lot of religious people are, anyway).

          I just don’t know how you “know” you have the right god because one was marketed to you successfully, leaving all the others to seem like cheating. If you found out your god wasn’t real, maybe a lot of people do look for a replacement to fill that void left they’d gotten used to. Some people can’t be alone, even if their friend is imaginary.

        • James

          They pass off second-hand hearsay as eyewitness accounts, ignoring the fact that even eyewitnesses – people who are otherwise credible and who can be cross-examined by well trained lawyers – are very often wrong, as has been shown by volumes of jurisprudence, psychology experiments, etc. And as for hearsay, as you pointed out, criminal courts don’t accept it at all except under very specific, limited and well-justified circumstances, usually only when it’s well-supported by other evidence. Which is exactly what apologists don’t do, hence special pleading.

          In a court of law, there are three types of evidence: material, circumstantial and testimonial. The best type is material – and no religion remotely presents compelling material evidence. The whole field of apologetics is fundamentally about making excuses for their lack of material evidence, delivered rhetorically, like a good sales pitch for a bad product.

          Conversely, testimonial evidence is the least reliable type – this is why people believe in ghosts, the living Elvis, Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster. When this is pointed out to them, suddenly these unknown, illiterates who lived in a very superstitious world where disease was caused by witches and demons are alleged to be completely reliable and above reproach, neatly meeting the burden of proof for extraordinary claims – ‘cuz faith.

          In my experience, nearly all apologists/evangelists believe that their intuition trumps any and all evidence. Hence, they pick and choose which evidence that can be twisted to fit their faith paradigm while ignoring everything else. What they seem to forget is how their intuition – what WLC would call a “properly basic belief” – was learned in the first place. If dogmatic claims really were properly basic, there would be no need for evangelists.

    • Otto

      When one writes about an issue and then tries to refute the issue it is considered and then rejected…when the issue is not even addressed as if it does not exist at all it is by definition ignored.

    • Makoto

      Okay, I’m game. Could Obama be Kenyan? Although external items (in the form of newspaper posting, birth records, etc) have shown that he was likely born in Hawaii, it is possible that those were fabricated as part of the story of him becoming president.

      After all, it is a powerful story, though somewhat common – he is the 44th president of the US, and there have been many other leaders of many other countries as well, so we have to consider the risk/reward scenario. Would people be at risk today for falsifying those records in order to get Obama elected? Absolutely. If someone could come up with a smoking gun during, or even after, Obama’s tenure as president, it would be the biggest new story of a long time.

      So, let’s try a slightly different tactic. “But this ignores the possibility that the Vishnu story is legend”. Would this also be rejected as nonsensical an idea as the possibility that Obama is Kenyan?

      • SteveK

        If there’s evidence to support the Vishnu story as being credible then I would say no. I don’t know if there is or isn’t so I can’t really answer.

        • Makoto

          Plenty of evidence! They’ve got holy works, statues, ancient tomes and traditions to back up their belief in Vishnu.

          But I guess this does beg the question – what do you consider to be credible evidence?

        • SteveK

          You could be right. Maybe it’s all very credible. Credible evidence is a contextual thing so I’d have to know the context and I doubt we can cover all the nuances here in a combox.

        • Makoto

          Well, you seem to find some evidence for Jesus to be credible based on your earlier post, we could start there for comparison’s sake.

        • SteveK

          It’s too large of a task for a combox. There’s a whole lot of contextual evidence to consider.

        • Makoto

          So, there’s nothing you can say to support or deny Jesus, Vishnu, or Kenyan Obama? Is that the point we’re at?

        • SteveK

          I could say a lot about Jesus. I just don’t have the desire to do it in a combox. I appreciate the curiosity but there are better places you can go to get answers.

        • Greg G.

          Most other places do special pleading for Jesus. What is different about your reasons? If it is significant, going elsewhere won’t help but if it is not significant, it will fit in a combox.

        • SteveK

          Then I suggest you take up your complaint with these other people.

        • Greg G.

          I generally don’t go to places like that. If they want to talk about the subject, they can come to a blog that I hang out in, like you have.

        • Kodie

          I suggest for the future, you keep your thoughts to yourself in the combox if you’re not totally prepared to be challenged to go the full distance within the combox. I’m so sick of this lame excuse for bringing shit up and then dropping it because you don’t feel like there’s enough space or time or room to fully express your thoughts.

          Let me give us the TL;DR version: I don’t have it! I can’t do it! I fail!

        • SteveK

          People say something to me, and I reply. What can I say, Kodie, other than “I’m guilty” of typing out my replies in a combox? LOL

          Now, I don’t promise to answer every question or jump through every hoop, and neither do you. So thanks for the advice, Kodie, but I’ll pass.

        • Kodie

          I presume you’ve bitten before and it didn’t go so well, so you’d rather dangle this hidden evidence and then decide you’re just not willing to share it for lame reasons. Typical Christian! The good news just can’t mean that much to you, you love to gab it up but then you just don’t want to show your hand when it’s time. You’d rather we call you a liar without evidence than with.

        • SteveK

          You’ve presumed incorrectly. Any other rookie mistakes you’d like to write down?

        • Kodie

          Any time we get a Christian who sticks their foot in, by the time it gets real, they just don’t want to, for whatever reason, give too much more because they all get burnt. I don’t think that’s a rookie mistake – I’ve seen it happen over and over and over and over.

        • SteveK

          You’re into stereotyping too?

        • Kodie

          A lot of Christians have no problem typing as much bullshit as they can into a combox. Don’t blame the combox, blame the bullshit. Please if your bullshit is contextually different in any significant way, don’t stop trying to convince us all now.

        • MNb

          No. She is collecting examples of a phenomenon she described. Can’t you tell the difference?

        • MNb

          Why should we think that Kodie presumed incorrectly? Because of your beautiful blue eyes?
          You’re patching an empty statement with just another one.

        • Makoto

          Oh, I totally agree, there are much better places to learn. After all, I’ve read such things, about Jesus, Vishnu, and Obama. And I find them interesting topics that can have bite sized things pointed out in comment boxes – like, say, attempting to link Kenyan Obama with the historicity of Jesus! Just wish there was a follow through that could defend that idea from you. Because you seem to wriggle away from your point at every turn, implying that if only you had more space, etc.

          In other words, you seem to be typing quite a bit, but saying nothing.

        • SteveK

          Must everyone answer every question posed to them? If so, I can give you a long list to work on.

        • Makoto

          As can I. Plenty of works, historical and recent.

        • Kodie

          I am sorry if it’s your laundry day or whatever, but you start stuff and like the typical Christian, don’t feel like finishing it. You’re certainly answering every single post like we’re waiting for you to say something, only you just come with your excuses.

          I know what it’s like to be busy, so there are times I just don’t start something I’m not prepared to finish. I might just walk away, but I never post comment after comment after tedious excuse-laden comment about how I just don’t think it’s right to start getting long-winded about something in a combox. I’ve seen some freakishly long comments that aren’t even mine in a combox. What makes people think they can’t even scratch the surface so why bother, it’s a fucking combox. If you have something to say, why do you start it in a combox knowing ahead of time you’re just not down with completing your mission? Aren’t you familiar with the usual challenges? When you say stuff that you know people will follow up with questions you will either have to answer or change your mind, sit on your thumbs and say “sorry, I didn’t expect to be asked to write my thoughts down… in a combox. Really, that’s fucking lame.

          Another typical Christian tactic is not to write anything but tell us we have to read long books or articles elsewhere without any introduction as to why. People will write 20-50 new comments about how they don’t have to give any summary to the article they posted, and they have nothing original or thoughtful to say, themselves. Your tactic is equally stupid and transparent.

        • SteveK

          If replying to another person’s comment (Bob’s) in order to correct their thinking is “starting stuff” then I’m guilty. I never said I’d elaborate, but please, continue to imagine and pretend that I promised and failed. It wouldn’t be the first time you did that.

        • Otto

          Except you didn’t correct anything…you made an assertion with no support for it.

        • SteveK

          I didn’t offer support, true. But corrections don’t require support in order to be correct. If I correct your math mistakes I don’t need to support my work with citations and footnotes. You might *want* me to do that, but I don’t need to in order to correct you.

          Anyway, my statement wasn’t intended to come with support, but if you’re interested to know more you can look into it.

        • Otto

          Complete BS…if you correct a math mistake I can go over your work to VERIFY if your correction was in fact correct. I don’t need citations and footnotes to see if the math adds up.

          What you did was make an unsupported statement that Lewis considered the ‘Legend’ option and rejected it out of hand. There is nothing to support your baseless assertion, i.e. the math does not add up. You didn’t correct anything because there is nothing to verify that you are in fact correct.

        • SteveK

          >> “You didn’t correct anything because there is nothing to verify that you are in fact correct.”

          Don’t blame me for you being lazy. You’re welcome to blame Bob for not doing the necessary research.

          http://www.christasus.com/Letters/CSLWhatAreWeToMakeOfJesusChrist.htm

        • MNb

          “Don’t blame me for you being lazy.”
          Matth. 7:1, SK, Matth. 7:1.
          You’re the lazy guy. It took you more than a day to even provide a link for a claim you made.

          “Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends.”

          How does CLS measure how artistic a literary passage is? What’s his method? The big fat thumb he sucks on?
          If he has a method to measure this, what’s the foundation of his claim that legends need to be artistic?
          This only shows what a shallow thinker CSL was.

        • SteveK

          It took me more than a day to do YOUR work? Well, shame on me. Tsk, tsk.

        • Kodie

          It is none of our own responsibilities to convince ourselves what you wished we would simply believe without evidence. That lazy Christian shit is pathetic. Why no convincing argument? Why no evidence? Why are we on a wild goose chase to find your arguments for you?

          Just another reason to hate Christians!

        • SteveK

          Don’t forget to type out this same comment to Bob. He didn’t do his homework and offered no evidence for the legend theory. Do you hate Bob too?

        • Kodie

          Idiots like you get things wrong all the time – like how Bob proposed that legend would be another answer. You’re the one in denial, asshole.

        • SteveK

          I agreed multiple times that legend is another possible answer. Do you need me to do the work of linking to my comments? Probably, but I’m not going to do that because I’m lazy.

        • Kodie

          I didn’t see that but I did see you have plenty of energy to answer every post with some words that are not the argument for lord that you can’t fit in a combox. If you have nothing left to say, why are you still hanging around?

        • SteveK

          If you stop talking to me, I might go away. I still might go away even if you continue but this would likely help expedite things.

        • Otto

          Bob responded to the Tri-Lemma put forth in ‘Mere Christianity’, as such his point is still valid. That C.S. Lewis went back and addressed it after the fact does not change the fallacious conclusion reached by Lewis and others through the use of that specific apologetic.

        • SteveK

          Bob expanded the argument in the book and then tried to claim that Lewis ignored the expanded part of the argument. We know Lewis didn’t ignore it so Bob got that wrong.

          The book didn’t include Bob’s argument (that Lewis considered) because – I don’t know – maybe it didn’t fit into Lewis’ plans for THAT book. Seems reasonable.

          Bob’s only useful point is “I would have written that book differently than Lewis.”

        • Otto

          First, Lewis did ignore the expanded part of the argument in the book.
          Lewis then addressed it seemingly later because – I don’t know- maybe someone like Bob pointed out to Lewis that he failed to address a fourth possibility and so he then addressed it as a weak afterthought.

          Bob’s real useful point is that when there are multiple possible options as to the truth of any claim, refuting all known options but one does not make the one option therefore true by default. Any possibility still would need to stand on its own merits.

        • She is very hateful. But her double standards give Bob a free pass.

        • MNb

          It’s not my work. You made the claim that CSL considered the possibility of legend, not me. Hence it’s your work – superfluous usage of capitals or not.
          Plus thanks for not addressing the content of my comment.
          You’re just another dishonest apologist.

        • SteveK

          I did make the claim – and what I said is true. I never claimed that I would provide a source so you could check. I thought you’d be interested enough to do that yourself if you didn’t believe me. I was wrong.

          Apparently you’re also not interested in checking Bob’s claims either – or you just believe unsupported claims – or you don’t believe him and for some reason you aren’t badgering him like you are me. Hmm….

        • Otto

          Bob addressed the Tri-Lemma argument and why it is poor. Apparently you don’t care to take Lewis to task for using a poor and fallacious argument.

        • SteveK

          Bob address an expanded version of the argument, which is not the argument in the book. You might as well complain that the argument in the book is poor because it failed to address the possibility that Jesus is Lord, just not the Lord of you and I. Maybe Bob will write about that next.

          In fact, you could say that Bob’s argument is poor based on the fact that he didn’t cover this obvious possibility.

        • Otto

          Yes, Bob expanded the argument because Lewis failed to do so in the book. Lewis addressed it as an afterthought which doesn’t help the argument one bit, but apparently Bob didn’t know about it. Bob failed to know Lewis addressed the Legend issue in the same shoddy way Lewis addressed ‘Liar’ and ‘Lunatic’. So what? Even though Lewis did address it later it is still a fallacious and poor argument!

        • SteveK

          Lewis’ argument is bad and for a different set of reasons Bob’s argument is bad. Fine. I only commented on the latter one being true 🙂

        • Kodie

          But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.

        • Otto

          You made a claim and were called on it. I am not going to filter through every piece of apologetics that Lewis wrote. You stated that it was considered and rejected and we asked for a citation for your claim…you finally provided one, good for you.

          I will agree that Lewis considered it and rejected it now so your claim stands.

          However this from what I can tell looks to be done as an afterthought on Lewis’ part. He did not originally address it before he put forth the fallacious ‘Tri-Lemma’, it was seemingly done afterwards. It is also a pretty weak attempt.

        • SteveK

          Yes, Bob got it wrong. Bob said Lewis’ argument ignores the possibility of legend, but Bob didn’t tell us that Lewis factored this into his argument when he dismissed it as a possibility because it lacked credible evidence.

          Did Bob not know this? Why don’t you beat up Bob for his misleading statements rather than beat up on me for not doing what Bob failed to do?

        • Greg G.

          What are we to do about reconciling the two contradictory phenomena? One attempt consists in saying that the man did not really say these things; but that His followers exaggerated the story, and so the legend grew up that he had said them. This is difficult because His followers were all Jews; that is, they belonged to that Nation which of all others was most convinced that there was only one God — that there could not possibly be another. It is very odd that this horrible invention about a religious leader should grow up among the one people in the whole earth least likely to make such a mistake. On the contrary we get the impression that none of His immediate followers or even of the New Testament writers embraced the doctrine at all easily.

          So what if the legend came from the Jews? The entire New Testament was written in Greek. Here’s what Josephus had to say about first century Jews and the Greek language:

          For those of my own nation freely acknowledge that I far exceed them in the learning belonging to Jews; I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations

          Only the gospels give Jesus quotes and they were written after the destruction of Jerusalem. That would be no sooner than forty years later and some over sixty years later. Anybody with knowledge from the first third of the first century would have bigger problems to deal with than refuting documents they couldn’t read.

          They are not artistic enough to be legends.

          Mark is written in a chiastic structure (Chiastic Structure of Mark by Michael Turton). Mark uses the Greek art of mimesis to combine the literature of the day into a new story, and left cues to the reader that he was doing that. Lewis wouldn’t allow the thought that he was not reading history to enter his mind.

          And the art of inventing little irrelevant details to make an imaginary scene more convincing is a purely modern art.

          I doubt that.

          Surely the only explanation of this passage is that the thing really happened? The author put it in simply because he had seen it.

          Lewis is way off base.

          Then we come to the strangest story of all, the story of the Resurrection. It is very necessary to get the story clear. I heard a man say, ‘The importance of the Resurrection is that is gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.’ On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men, the difference being that in Christ’s case we were privileged to see it happening. This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought. Something perfectly new in the history of the universe had happened.

          The Egyptians had beaten them to the idea that “the human personality survives death”. Isn’t that what mummification was all about? There are Greek adventures about traveling to Hades and back. There are similar Sumerian legends.

          Furthermore, Elijah and Elisha performed resurrections of the dead in 1 Kings 17:22-23 and 2 Kings 4:32-36.

          Hebrews 11:35 (NRSV)
          35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.

          Hebrews 11:35 refers to 2 Maccabees 7:1-42 which has from the second son:

          9 And when he was at his last breath, he said, “You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.”

          and from the mother to her seventh son:

          29 Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again along with your brothers.

          The question is, I suppose, whether any hypothesis covers the facts so well as the Christian hypothesis. That hypothesis is that God has come down into the created universe, down to manhood — and come up again, pulling it up with Him. The alternative hypothesis is not legend, nor exaggeration, nor the apparitions of a ghost. It is either lunacy or lies. Unless one can take the second alternative (and I can’t) one turns to the Christian theory.

          Sorry, CS. The “legend” option still stands.

        • SteveK

          I never said Lewis had a good argument. I only said that Bob got it wrong when he said the legend option wasn’t considered as a possible option. Bob said it was “ignored”.

        • Kodie

          Same wishy-washy lazy evasive Christian shit we always get. Will none of you set yourself apart?

        • SteveK

          You can always read the comments below and follow the link. Apparently you all require other people to do things for you. Will none of you set yourselves apart?

        • SteveK

          I’m sorry you had to write so much in response to a problem that you invented and now expect me to resolve.

        • Kodie

          Yet you’re compelled to tell me what else is on your mind multiple times. You don’t want to respond to every post but you do. It lacks content, but I’m sure you don’t have anything interesting or informative to add to the discussion, even if this weren’t a scary combox.

        • MR

          Whar’ ahm from, that thar’s called a cop out.

        • James

          Religious people always expect others to be credulous when it comes to their own sketchy claims, but turn instantly into uberskeptics the moment the conversation turns to a completely unrelated religion, especially one much older than Christianity, such as Hinduism. What they fail to perceive is that they’re engaging in special pleading – their argument seems to be that their personal intuition that their own beliefs, conveniently, are true somehow bolsters the sketchy evidence they actually present to trump another religion’s equally sketchy evidence.

      • But Donald Trump’s researchers found all kinds of interesting things in Hawaii that they’ve never bothered to reveal because reasons!

        • Otto

          Yeah wasn’t there a big announcement that was never announced?

    • The conception of Jesus that you call “nonsensical” is in actuality the “broad consensus of modern New Testament scholars”:

      http://wwwuser.gwdg.de/~gluedem/download/pope_review.pdf

      But Lewis doesn’t even deign to cite the huge degree of scholarly support for Christ’s divinity as a later legendary addition. He doesn’t even mention it, if only to reject it. Instead he insists that Liar, Lunatic, and Lord are the ONLY options.

      Well, Liar is certainly the option that characterizes Lewis in this instance.

      • MNb

        Ah, thanks, yesterday I was looking for someone like him, but couldn’t find anything. Lüdemann is an interesting character:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerd_Ludemann

        “Lüdemann stated that his studies convinced him that his previous Christian faith, based as it was on Biblical Studies, had become impossible.”
        Also note the reaction of the Confederation of Protestant Churches in Lower Saxony: they wanted to have Lüdemann fired. That’s the 1980’s we’re talking about.

      • SteveK

        Note the context of Lewis’ words, “He has not left that open to us.” Lewis was looking to scripture for what Jesus said and did. Lewis was not looking to other sources.

        So taking that into account, did Jesus himself leave it open to us that he is a legend? No. This option is nowhere found in scripture.

        You’re expecting Lewis to write about topics he had no intention of writing about – and then calling him a liar when he didn’t. Nice.

        • MNb

          “did Jesus himself leave it open to us that he is a legend?”
          Did Jesus himself write the Gospels?
          No.
          So it’s totally possible – it was highly common 2000 years ago – that the authors attached all kind of legends to the character.
          CSL wrote about a trilemma. It’s a false one.

        • SteveK

          It’s possible Obama is Kenyan. People forge documents all the time therefore it’s totally possible. If all you want to say is “it’s possible” then I agree with you (hurrah!). Lewis would likely agree with you because you’re simply making a logical statement of possibility.

          Is there evidence that that directly supports the “Jesus was a legend” theory. I don’t see anything from Bob but maybe it’s out there. I don’t pretend to know these things.

          But just looking at Bob’s post here, all he has done is reference other legends and added his imagination into the mix as the glue that holds everything together.

          Based on Bob’s evidence and the way he imagines everything happened, you and I are supposed to make the non-sequitur leap ourselves. You’re doing it. I’m not.

        • MNb

          “It’s possible Obama is Kenyan. People forge documents all the time therefore it’s totally possible.”
          Sure. So the first time I read it I was willing to consider it. Unfortunately for you the comparison doesn’t speak for you, because there is evidence that he isn’t. At the other hand there is evidence that legends were attached to Jesus totally unlike the Kenyan Obama. One good example is the infanticide described by Matthew. To put it in your own words: it’s possible that the infanticide is not a legend. It’s just far likely than Obama being Kenyan.
          And because evidence it’s not just a logical statement, which was your lame answer elsewhere on this page.

          “Is there evidence that that directly supports the “Jesus was a legend” theory.”
          Direct evidence is welcome, but not necessary. Indirect evidence also matters. The fact that it was common 2000 years ago – which you with your typical dishonesty totally neglect – is such indirect evidence.
          Plus I did not write that “Jesus was a legend”. It’s telling that you try to turn what I wrote into this strawman. Again: I wrote that all kinds of legends were attached to Jesus. That’s not the same.

          “the non-sequitur”
          Where did I wrote non-sequitur? I wrote that it’s a False Dilemma, because CLS leaves out several options without any justification. That’s another strawman.

        • SteveK

          >> I wrote that all kinds of legends were attached to Jesus.

          Authors attach various stories to all kinds of things so this is not news to me. What would be news is if you had evidence that any of the stories actually happened as part of earth’s history.

        • MR

          Right?! Too bad that combox isn’t big enough for ya.

        • MNb

          Indeed. That’s exactly why CSL wrongly dismissed the option of Legend. Thanks for confirming that it’s a false trilemma, because that’s the only point made in the article.

        • SteveK

          The one and only point I contested is that Lewis ignored the possibility of legend. On that point, Bob got it wrong.

        • Kodie

          He waved his fucking hands! He didn’t 100% ignore it, but from all accounts, none of which you presented as if it’s so important to you, CS Lewis waved his hands about legend and moved along to keep his focus on his preferred narrative.

          Look how many times can I write “he waved his fucking hands” in this inadequately sized combox? Probably 400 times.

        • Lewis says nothing about believing scripture to be inerrant, which is obviously not the view of someone who believes that Christ was a good teacher without being divine.

        • Otto

          ‘So taking that into account, did Spiderman himself leave it open to us that
          he is a made up superhero? No. This option is nowhere found in Marvel comic books.

        • SteveK

          He didn’t. His authors did.

        • MR

          Precisely. It seems absurd to me for CSL to even pose such questions unless he were responding to something written by Jesus himself. Otherwise, he’s simply speculating on hearsay.

        • Otto

          Well lets go take a look at who the authors were exactly…oh we can’t because they are completely anonymous, which is another reason not to trust what they said Jesus said. Who the heck knows if any of it is true.

          Because remember, this is about what Jesus said and claimed about himself…except we have no idea if Jesus actually said or claimed anything written in the Gospels because Jesus didn’t write them…unknown people many years later did. They therefore cannot be trusted as valid source.

        • SteveK

          Maybe Jesus never said anything. It’s possible. Obama might be Kenyan too.

        • MNb

          Yes. But one is not as likely as another.
          You’re really in love with your binary thinking, aren’t you?

        • SteveK

          You’re into the statistical notion of “more likely” and “not as likely” and you’re complaining about me being binary? Does the word irony mean anything to you?

        • adam

          “Obama might be Kenyan too.”

        • SteveK

          Good to know. Thanks.

        • Otto

          Maybe there was no historical Jesus…

        • Jesus himself leave it open to us that he is a legend?

          Jesus was quoted. That’s it. Who knows the accuracy of the quotes?

        • SteveK

          Once again, that issue was not intended to be covered in the book. Neither was the legend issue. Lewis considered the legend issue (and others) outside the book. Your complaint boils down to this: Lewis should have covered the legend issue in the book rather than outside it.

        • Susan

          Lewis should have covered the legend issue in the book rather than outside it.

          Of course he should have. The trilemma is a terrible argument. There are more than three possibilities. That means the argument is no argument at all.

          His weak, ad hoc response to the ‘legend’ possibility after he produced the trilemma is no more impressive than the original argument.

          I’m not sure what your point is.

        • MNb

          The only point that can be made in CSL’s defense is him criticizing apologists iso formulating an argument for god. If that’s the case he failed, because christians only use it as a new argument.

        • SteveK

          My point is that Bob got it wrong. Lewis considered the legend issue but chose not to write about it in the book. Bob said Lewis ignored it, which is false.

          As an aside, there are more than 4 possibilities and Bob didn’t include the others. So for the sake of consistency, I expect everyone to start chiding Bob for getting it wrong by not listing the others and limiting our options to Liar, Lunatic, Lord and Legend. Ironic.

        • Kodie

          Lewis dropped the legend option out of sight to focus on his preferred narrative. He waved his hands 400x in a combox and said let’s just focus on what I want you to focus on instead of considering that the whole thing is fiction.

        • Susan

          there are more than 4 possibilities and Bob didn’t include the others.

          Lewis tried to make a forcing argument, claiming that there are only three possibilities. This is the argument that Bob addressed.

          It’s a false structure to begin with and presenting one other possibility is all that’s required to destroy the argument. The argument fails.

          A book could be written about all the other possibilities we can come up with but it’s not necessary.

          EDIT:

          I expect everyone to start chiding Bob for getting it wrong

          I upvoted MNb’s chiding of Bob. There’s no point in repeating it.

        • SteveK

          >> “Lewis tried to make a forcing argument, claiming that there are only three possibilities. This is the argument that Bob addressed.”

          Bob got that wrong too. Bob ignored the context of Lewis’ argument and then blamed Lewis for messing up an argument Lewis didn’t intend on making.

          All arguments have premises. Lewis frames his argument by first accepting as true the premise that the words of Jesus are accurately recorded history. Lewis considered it and thinks it’s a justified premise.

          Disagree if you want with the premise, but that’s the premise of the argument. He then says, here are your 3 possible conclusions.

          Bob is complaining about the *premise* of Lewis’ argument, not the conclusion. Bob is altering Lewis’ argument and then blaming Lewis!

        • Kodie

          Sorry you have mired yourself in the most dishonest enterprise of the past 2 millennia. There is no way his premise can be taken as honest and correct if he waves his hands about why he personally does not accept legend as an option. He says very essentially “Jesus (himself) has not left that option open, so let’s just discard it.” The premise is fiction based on fiction. There is no room in this liar’s apologetic scheme for the blotto mind of the Christian to say hey wait a minute, what are you doing, what about “legend”? Preaching to the choir is not an honest argument.

        • Susan

          Bob is complaining about the *premise* of Lewis’ argument, not the conclusion.

          Bob is informally arguing against the conclusion by challenging the premise.

          If your only point is that Bob did not address the structure if “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said”, then you should have spit that out in the first place.

          If one were to accept the premise for the sake of argument, of course there are more possibilities than Lewis suggests.

          It still does not lead to Lewis’s conclusion.

        • SteveK

          Challenge the premise all you want. Just don’t say that the argument itself ignores ‘legend’ as one of its conclusions. See my analogy on Socrates.

        • Susan

          Just don’t say that the argument itself ignores ‘legend’ as one of it’s conclusions.

          It ignores it in the premise. This is better?

          Is this all you’ve got? That Bob didn’t formally address the ‘if… then…’ aspect of Lewis’s argument?

          The problem with the argument is that it ignores the possibility of ‘legend’ in its premise.

          P1 is not necessarily true. The argument fails on that.

          Even if P1 were necessarily true, the conclusion does not follow.

          The whole argument is a mess from front to back.

          Shouldn’t you have chided Lewis for this by now?

        • SteveK

          It doesn’t *ignore* it any more than the argument I wrote ignores the legend option for Socrates.

          But hey, if this is the way you prefer to view arguments then you already know that in every argument you’ve given me you ignored the “Susan is wrong” option (and others). Bob too in his argument.

          Let the chiding begin!

        • Susan

          It doesn’t *ignore* it any more than the argument I wrote ignores the legend option for Socrates.

          We know what a deductive argument is around here.

          If you can’t demonstrate that Lewis’s argument is valid and that its premises are necessarily true, you’ve got nothing.

          Stop being coy.

          in every argument you’ve given me you ignored the “Susan is wrong” option

          Gosh, I’m wrong all the time. We are discussing Lewis’s argument and you’ve done nothing to show that it is valid or that its premises are necessarily true.

          This has nothing to do with me but with the structure and premises of Lewis’s argument. I could never have been born and it would still be an unsound argument. .

        • SteveK

          We were not discussing the validity of his argument – at least I’m not. My only argument is that Bob got it wrong when he said Lewis’ argument ignores the legend option.

        • Kodie

          You’re not making that argument. You are only making that complaint.

        • Kodie

          The premise is challenged. Lewis is not trying to make an honest argument, he is just trying to convince people to believe what he says, so of course he is going to leave things out and misdirect people not to consider other possibilities. Could you be more of a puppet?

        • SteveK

          By analogy, here’s what Bob is doing.

          Me: Here’s my argument
          All men are mortal.
          Socrates is a man.
          Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

          Bob: Your argument stupidly ignores the possibility that Socrates was a legend.

          Me: I didn’t ignore it, it’s just not part of *this* specific argument.

        • Kodie

          You ignored it when you asserted that Socrates is a man. I saw someone working at Home Depot once named Socrates, so maybe you were talking about him.

        • SteveK

          This is your best defense of Bob’s mistake?

        • Kodie

          When you ignore obvious oppositions to your arguments, you are let me spell it for you D-I-S-H-O-N-E-S-T. If you are happy when your favorite apologists take the dishonest route and ignore obvious opposition to their arguments, your best you can do is say “derr, that’s the best you can do?????” If Socrates is a legend, why even make the example – if it doesn’t set off alarms, then your audience is ridiculously uninformed, just like you want them.

        • SteveK

          So that was your best.

        • Kodie

          You don’t have anything to say, so that was as good as you’re going to get.

        • Susan

          By analogy, here’s what Bob is doing.

          No. He isn’t. He is challenging Lewis’s premise.

          Lewis’s premise is not ‘All men are mortal.’ nor is it ‘Socrates is a man.’

          It is: ‘Jesus actually said what people say he said.’

          His following premises are ‘These are the only options.’

          Did you just discover syllogisms or something?

          EDIT: http://www.iep.utm.edu/val-snd/

          A deductive argument is said to be valid if and only if it takes a form that makes it impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion nevertheless to be false. Otherwise, a deductive argument is said to be invalid.

          A deductive argument is sound if and only if it is both valid, and all of its premises are actually true. Otherwise, a deductive argument is unsound.

        • SteveK

          Again, challenge the premise all you want and tell me how the argument doesn’t go through. But don’t tell me that the legend option was IGNORED by Lewis as part of THIS argument.

        • Susan

          don’t tell me that the legend option was IGNORED by Lewis as part of THIS argument.

          It was ignored in the first premise, the one that suggests that Jesus said what people claim Jesus said.

          Back to Lewis’s argument:

          Is it valid?

          Are the premises true?

          CSL is the one making the claim.

          Bob explained why he doesn’t accept one of the premises on which it is based.

          I have challenged the premise (as has Bob) You haven’t met the challenge, nor has Lewis.

          In a deductive argument (don’t make me explain this again), you must provide a valid argument and then you must demonstrate that the premises are necessarily true. This is basic. You haven’t and neither did Lewis.

          It’s unsound.

        • SteveK

          >> “It was ignored in the first premise, the one that suggests that Jesus said what people claim Jesus said.”

          Translation: Arguments with premises that are thought to be justifiably true are guilty of ignoring – yes, ignoring – the possibility that the premises are false.

          I’m speechless. I’m also done with you.

        • Susan

          Translation: Arguments with premises that are thought to be justifiably true are guilty of ignoring – yes, ignoring – the possibility that the premises are false.

          No translation. Deductive arguments with premises that are not necessarily true are unsound. Lewis fails.

          I’m speechless.

          OK.

          I’m also done with you.

          There’s not much point in going around the same merry-go-round so it’s just as well.

          You’ve ignored the fundamentals of deductive arguments and continue to do so.

          There’s no place to go from there.

        • MR

          The take away for me is that even SK understands CSL’s argument was shit.

        • Susan

          I hope so. I’d hate to think he doesn’t.

          He didn’t spend a second defending it. Just went after Bob, ignoring the point of the article.

          He thought he could beat us over the head with ‘All men are mortal.’

          Whatever SteveK thinks is irrelevant.

          The argument is shit.

        • MR

          Well, he already admitted that CSL’s argument was bad, which is the point of Bob’s post. He’s just got a hard on to catch Bob on some technicality.

        • As best as I can figure it, SteveK’s argument has devolved into complaining about the title. I suppose if I’d put “according to Mere Christianity” or something similar, he’d have nothing left to whine about.

        • Pofarmer

          I didn’t see where Steve K. Actually had an argument.

        • SteveK

          This: “Deductive arguments with premises that are not necessarily true are unsound.”

          Is not what I commented on.

          This is what I commented on: “It was ignored in the first premise,”

          “Ignored” ≠ “not necessarily true”

        • Kodie

          Are you playing stupid or actually stupid?

        • Susan

          Are you playing stupid or actually stupid?

          It’s apologetics. Shifting the burden, as always.

        • Kodie

          I think he comes from the same place as Jenna Black:

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

          It’s a dishonest argument to state premises that aren’t true or thorough, and to just dismiss the inconvenient opposition you’d rather not deal with so you can go ahead and make baseless assertions. Yeah, Lewis “didn’t” deal with legend as an option, he dealt with it by waving his goddamned hands that it wasn’t a serious factor. He asserted that it wasn’t a serious factor because it would break the propaganda he was trying to push, just like any Christian ignores what they can’t argue, and bullshits what they can.

          But SteveK is actually stupid if he thinks we can’t see through him.

        • Susan

          Yeah, Lewis “didn’t” deal with legend as an option, he dealt with it by waving his goddamned hands that it wasn’t a serious factor.

          SteveK is trying to teach us about deductive arguments and pretends that they can’t fall apart on their premises.

          This is either dishonest or ignorant. It’s very basic stuff.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t think he is playing.

        • MNb

          It was ignored in Mere Christianity, as part of THAT argument indeed. You weren’t so obsessed by your trivial point you would have written something like

          “Yeah, CLS ignored the option Legend in Mere Christianity, but in his 1970 book God in the Docks, ie published 7 years after he died, he wrote …..”
          Then we would have had something to talk about iso you getting frustrated because your particular fetish doesn’t get satisfied. You know, that’s what mentally healthy people do. “Hey! That guy makes a mistake due to lack of information! Let me help him out.”
          Not you. Or perhaps you’re getting high from all the attention and have found a way to enjoy it as long as possible. Who am I to tell?

        • Otto

          Funny how I (and others) have addressed your point that Legend was taken up by Lewis after the fact but you keep implying that it was addressed beforehand…seems rather dishonest.

        • SteveK

          Wrong.

          “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?” 1950
          “Mere Christianity” 1952

          I know I’m repeating myself, but you guys just won’t stop telling lies.

        • Kodie

          You were asked to show the relevant passage a few days ago, but you didn’t.

        • Otto

          Well when I pointed this out before you did not respond to me with this did you. You provided a link of a later writing and I pointed out it was after Mere Christianity…you did not respond as Kodie also points out.

        • Susan

          “What are we to make of Jesus Christ? 1950

          I’ve hunted and hunted and still haven’t found any evidence that the essay was written in 1950. Every source seems to link it later than Mere Christianity.

          It should be simple enough for you to provide a link.

          I know I’m repeating myself, but you guys just won’t stop telling lies.

          As far as I can tell, we’re reporting the facts as we find them. If you have evidence that this essay is from 1950, why haven’t you provided it? This is my third request.

        • SteveK

          I found several places online that referenced 1950 as the original publishing date but I wanted to find the most credible place – and I found it in CS Lewis’ book (link below).

          I’ll take the heat for not knowing it was originally published as part of a different set of works, “Asking them Questions”. My bad, but it only took me 10 minutes of searching the web to find this out and I’m no web guru.

          The link below is from CS Lewis’ book “God in the Dock”.

          https://books.google.com/books?id=loE7BAAAQBAJ&pg=PR18&lpg=PR18&dq=%22what+are+we+to+make+of+jesus%22+publish+date&source=bl&ots=SfQ9PWwpJ2&sig=k2sq-cDESEgi04xLjhDAi8soJPw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEIQ6AEwB2oVChMI14eDvqidxwIVhROSCh3JGgYb#v=onepage&q=%22what%20are%20we%20to%20make%20of%20jesus%22%20publish%20date&f=false

        • Susan

          I found several places online that referenced 1950 as the original publishing date but I wanted to find the most credible place – and I found it in CS Lewis’ book (link below).

          Thank you. It’s standard to provide citations for claims you make.

          it only took me 10 minutes of searching the web to find this out and I’m no web guru.

          I spent at least ten minutes because I wanted to consider that Lewis wasn’t speaking ‘ad hoc.’ I googled his essays, his bibliography, his chronological bibliography, really spent much more time than I had to in order to be charitable.

          It does seem to have been composed in 1950 as you said.

          Then I found this in the preface Lewis wrote for Mere Christianity.

          The contents of this book were first given on the air, and then published in three separate parts as ‘Broadcast Talks’ (1942), ‘Christian Behaviour'(1943) and ‘Beyond Personality'(1944). In the printed versions, I made a few additions to what I had said at the microphone, but otherwise left the text much as it had been..

          Unless you have evidence that the ‘few additions’ were his handwaving away the Legend possibility, I’m afraid we’re in the same spot.

          We’ve made progress in the sense that you’ve at least put some effort into supporting your claim.

          Respectfully, I hope you continue to take responsibility for further claims. It’s important.

        • SteveK

          I already said that we don’t know when it was thought out prior to being written down. We’re not in the same spot unless you want to pretend that we know. Bob said it was ignored. That’s pretending to know. It’s not pretending to know when you look at the context of MC as I’ve already explained.

        • Susan

          I already said that we don’t know when it was thought out prior to being written down.

          No. You accused me of making false ‘ad hoc’ claims and then typed ‘1950’ as evidence that it was written before the horrid trilemma argument. .

          (Edit: You called us lazy liars. Ring a bell?)

          We’re not in the same spot unless you want to pretend that we know.

          The evidence so far indicates that Lewis’s dismissal of the very obvious legend response is ad hoc.

          These are red herrings. Even if it wasn’t ad hoc, the argument would have to stand on its merit.

          It doesn’t.

        • SteveK

          In my view, the point of the Tri-Lemma is not to generate an exhaustive list of options. The point is to show that Jesus is either Lord or he’s not.

          Lewis breaks down the “he’s not God” option into several categories based on Jesus’ own words but they all result in the same conclusion for his readers – don’t worship this guy as the Lord he thinks he is, because he’s not.

          Breaking the list down further into 10, 100, 1000 options leaves you with the same conclusion so it’s rather pointless of Lewis to waste time doing that. He’s already made his point with the 3 options stated. Who doesn’t love it when authors use alliteration in sets of 3?

        • Susan

          In my view, the point of the Tri-Lemma is not to generate an exhaustive list of options. The point is to show that Jesus is either Lord or he’s not.

          In my view, the point is to exclude other obvious options in order to prove his conclusion. It’s either dishonest or inept.

          Breaking the list down further into 10, 100, 1000 options leaves you with the same conclusion so it’s rather pointless of Lewis to waste time doing that.

          What conclusion is that?

          Who doesn’t love it when authors use alliteration in sets of 3?

          It’s not very charming in a logical argument.

          P.S. I noticed you haven’t retracted your accusation that we are lazy liars and that I made a false accusation about Lewis’s ad hoc reasoning. The evidence seems to go against those claims. The decent thing to do would be to acknowledge that.

        • SteveK

          The “he’s not God” conclusion.

          I won’t retract what is true. Lewis reads the Gospels as a trained and educated literary expert prior to becoming a Christian. Lewis concludes they don’t read like legend. Lewis believes the Gospels enough to convert in 1931.

        • MR

          I likely would have converted in 1931, too, considering the times. The culture was strongly religious and scientific knowledge was not nearly so advanced. I, personally, have serious doubts that Lewis would in this day and age have been a Christian and marvel that Christians continue to trot him out fifty years after his death.

        • Susan

          Lewis concludes they don’t read like legend. Lewis believes the Gospels enough to convert in 1931.

          All that fuss about 1950. The accusations that we lie and are lazy and that the example you gave from Lewis’s writings was not post hoc.

          And now, it turns out you were talking about 1931 all along.

          How dishonest.

        • SteveK

          Comedy gold

        • MNb

          Yes, you provide quite a lot of it. So I’m happy you’re logged in again.

        • the point of the Tri-Lemma is not to generate an exhaustive list of options. The point is to show that Jesus is either Lord or he’s not.

          How can you conclude something so incredible as “Jesus is Lord” without having a complete list of possibilities?

          Sounds like you’re agreeing that the Trilemma is incomplete. That’s progress.

          If I can summarize your complaint, it’s, “I’ll admit that Lewis’s famous quote from Mere Christianity doesn’t consider Legend as an option, but that’s OK because he considers it elsewhere.” Is that it?

        • SteveK

          Jesus is Lord, or he’s not Lord is already an exhaustive list of possibilities. If you can add to the list let me know.

          The Trilemma is complete according to Lewis, yes. According to you, no.

          Lewis considered it while reading the Gospels as an educated literary expert. Yes, it was elsewhere.

        • Jesus is Lord, or he’s not Lord is already an exhaustive list of possibilities

          I just re-read Lewis’s quote in MC. Nope, this dilemma is not what he’s talking about, but thanks for the tangential comment.

          The Trilemma is complete according to Lewis, yes. According to you, no.

          And according to you, no, since you handwaved about how Legend was indeed addressed by Lewis elsewhere.

        • SteveK

          Elsewhere as in before.

        • And Lewis’s Trilemma remains broken. Like I said.

        • SteveK

          Lewis is talking about what Jesus’ words allow us to conclude about him. Jesus’ words don’t allow us to conclude that Jesus is a historical legend.

        • Sounds like yet another way the Trilemma fails.

        • SteveK

          Look, Bob, a person can think Jesus was a fictional character and STILL be forced to conclude only certain things about him when looking only at the words attributed to him. This is what Lewis set out to do in that section of the book. You can do it too, Bob. Give it a try.

        • Kodie

          STILL be forced to conclude only certain things about him when looking only at the words attributed to him.

          Even you have to be forced to conclude the words were only attributed to Jesus and that leaves legend open. Lewis swept it under the rug but hey, how do you like his lumpy rug, really suits the decor.

        • MR

          the words attributed to him

          Precisely, Lewis fails from the get go because they are not Jesus’ words. Lewis cannot make his claims unless the person who wrote those words was the same person. We would need a text that says, “I, Jesus, say I am the Lord,” but Jesus wrote nothing.

          Lewis’ entire premise is based on hearsay. Fail.

        • adam

          “Look, Bob, a person can think Jesus was a fictional character and STILL
          be forced to conclude only certain things about him when looking only at
          the words attributed to him. ”

          No, you can only STILL be forced to conclude only certain things about the FICTIONAL CHARACTER when looking only at the words attributed to the CHARACTER in the STORY…

        • I don’t know what we’re talking about anymore.

          It’s pretty simple: Lewis in this widely quoted section of his book makes a Liar, Lunatic, or Lord trilemma. Bazillions of Christians have cited it as and effective argument. Sounds like a good thing for me to comment on, eh?

          So I did, in this post. And the argument sucks.

          But instead of trying to shore up the argument or attack my response, you just want to imagine that Lewis has been misquoted or misunderstood. It’s simply: I started the post with the quote, and then I showed how it’s utter crap. If he or you or someone else addressed the Legend issue, that’ll just have to wait for another post.

          Or you can show us here, in the comments. Go.

        • SteveK

          The argument may indeed suck. My comment wasn’t about the argument itself. My comment was about your false statement that Lewis ignored the legend option as he looked at Jesus’ words in this section of the book.

        • Kodie

          The argument does suck. Your comment was to divert energy because you’re a troll.

        • SteveK

          I told you long ago to stop responding to me and I’d probably leave soon. I only intended to leave one comment and not return to this blog post. I would have left days ago but people just won’t leave me alone. How about you do your part by not replying to me?

        • adam

          ” I would have left days ago but people just won’t leave me alone. ”

          Yes, it is OUR fault you have no self-control………. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9091e9a5059c826bcc8036659cb8523cf423bcf4da9f85facadcc2b81d23e88b.jpg

        • SteveK

          It’s your fault for clicking on “Reply” and typing out a response to me. If you had some self control you wouldn’t click on “Reply” and I wouldn’t come back to this post. Give it a try.

        • adam
        • SteveK

          Why do you keep repeating this? You’re not responsible for what I do. What I do is not your fault or blame.

          You clicking on “Reply” – that’s on you.

        • adam

          So Kodie IS right again, you are just a troll…………..
          or just someone going through psychotic episodes. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b402f68acc6f88689eb10cd9bda718bf2441df93d4b2083465a3e8b80c526ec8.jpg

          “You’re not responsible for what I do. What I do is not your fault or blame.”

          “It’s your fault for clicking on “Reply” and typing out a response to me.
          If you had some self control you wouldn’t click on “Reply” and I
          wouldn’t come back to this post. “

        • SteveK

          I’m someone who has the time to speak when spoken to. Would you rather I not reply to anything you say on this blog post? Just say the word and I’ll do that.

        • Kodie

          I left you alone and you’re still here, dick. Get a life.

        • SteveK

          When I wasn’t talking to you, I wasn’t talking to you.

          So why did you feel the need to start replying to my comments again knowing that I would come back?

        • adam
        • Kodie

          But you were still saying stupid shit to other people. What compels Christians to answer every post with empty comments pretending they either already answered or will later, but they can never directly make a relevant comment to anything and then, refusing to be relevant or even interesting, insist that they will leave as soon as no new comments come in reply to them? If the comment is “be relevant” and you do not have the capacity to be relevant, at least be honest and don’t say anything.

          Because “Jesus” just loves the shit out of a useless pest you pride yourself to be.

        • SteveK

          My comments are relevant to the things being said to me – including this one. Whether you find them to be stupid, useful or interesting is not within my control.

        • MNb

          I can’t remember Adam asking you to neglect him, so that he will quit the forum. My bet is rather that Adam wants you to stay, because you give him lots of opportunities to satisfy his favourite fetish: posting cartoons with quotes.
          You love your false analogies, don’t you?

        • Greg G.

          Some of us are amused that you have nothing to say but can’t shut up.

        • SteveK

          Can you explain?

        • Greg G.

          I shouldn’t have to.

        • MNb

          “I only intended …..”
          The road to the christian hell is paved with good intentions.

        • Greg G.

          Nobody cares whether you post or not. When somebody interesting comes along, you’ll be forgotten.

        • So there’s an implied “Let’s just assume that the New Testament is an accurate record of the statements of a man named Jesus from the first century” at the front?

          I was doing Lewis the honor of assuming that he was making an apologetic that was actually applicable to Christians. That’s certainly how Christian apologists use it.

          If you’re saying that, instead, Lewis was just doing a little thought experiment with an unfounded assumption and no apologetic value, that’s nice. I think the rest of us see the argument differently.

        • SteveK

          Do you have a copy of the book? I do. If you read the forward section he explains the purpose of the book.

        • adam

          “If you read the forward section he explains the purpose of the book.”

          So you are saying it wasnt apologetics?

        • Kodie

          As far as I can tell from google books, in the preface, Lewis explained why he retained the familiar tone of his radio talks, and then went on at tedious length why Christians shouldn’t argue with each other, especially in the company of non-believers, regarding the intricate beliefs of the particular denomination of their choice, as it’s a serious turn-off. The foreword was written by someone else who sells this horseshit as difficult to believe but totally worth it!

          And that was with 3 pages missing from the preview! No wonder he freely ignored ‘legend’, he was deleting with extreme prejudice any reason not to write this book.

        • adam

          “and then went on at tedious length why Christians shouldn’t argue with each other, especially in the company of non-believers, regarding the intricate beliefs of the particular denomination of their choice”

          Well of course, because THIS exposes fracturing that wouldnt exist if it’s ‘god’ were real.

          Propaganda is much like MANURE, it works best when it is spread.

        • MR

          Also in the preface, far from hauling out his “literary historian” laurels, he describes himself as “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England, not especially ‘high’, nor especially ‘low’, nor especially anything else.” He’s certainly not claiming any authority on the matter.

        • Susan

          Do you have a copy of the book? I do. If you read the forward section he explains the purpose of the book.

          What do you think the purpose of the book is based on the foreword you read?

        • adam

          ” My comment was about your false statement that Lewis ignored the legend option as he looked at Jesus’ words in this section of the book.”

          Lewis DID ignore the legend option for the same reason YOU do…………

          HE BELIEVED that the words of a set stories written with Jesus as the main character WAS ACTUALLY the word of ‘god’, without any evidence, or perhaps the LACK of evidence of the time led him to BELIEVE that these are actually DIRECT QUOTES from ‘god’.

          AGAIN, without any demonstrated of this actual ‘god’ creature.

        • SteveK

          In the same way biology books “ignore” music theory. The writers believed that music theory isn’t something you discuss in a biology book.

        • adam

          No, because OBVIOUSLY he had an AGENDA.

          ” The writers believed that music theory isn’t something you ”
          But Lewis is NOT discussing music and biology,

          Legend is in the same debate field as lunatic and liar and he IGNORED IT as an option because of the way it exposes his fallacy.

        • SteveK

          From the introduction of MC…

          “Oddly enough, you cannot even conclude, from my silence on disputed points, either that I think them important or that I think them unimportant.”

          Well, everyone except Bob.

        • adam

          No, because OBVIOUSLY he had an AGENDA.

          ” The writers believed that music theory isn’t something you ”
          But Lewis is NOT discussing music and biology,

          Legend is in the same debate field as lunatic and liar and he IGNORED IT as an option because of the way it exposes his fallacy.

        • And Lewis’s argument remains crap. You’re just finding more interesting excuses.

        • SteveK

          I’m not talking about his argument. I said that multiple times. My “interesting excuses” all reference quotes from Lewis himself, in context.

        • I’m not talking about his argument.

          And I am. Obviously.

          Sounds like this thread is mercifully at a close.

        • Kodie

          His agenda was publishing this book. If he hadn’t ignored ‘legend’, he couldn’t revisit the infatuation he obviously has with the sound of his own words. He doesn’t seem to know how to get to the point, and by cutting out large swaths of material that could and should have been discussed, he gets a neat trilemma. I wonder how lunatic and liar made the cut, but the entire premise of the book relies on believing not only that Jesus lived, but that he was exactly who Christians believe him already to be. So why invent a stupid trilemma in the first place? Seems a total convolution in this point in the novel, created to show that one is conflicted and thorough, but barrels through those barriers with a strong will to believe this horseshit is true anyway. The religious are always telling us how hard it is to walk on the path to belief, how reality (they call demons or satan or whatever) are pulling them from a righteous path. How totally expected for a religious propagandist to plant a fake conflict in his story so it has that queer twist about it that real things have.

        • Kodie

          The same way you wouldn’t do more than pay lip service and quickly dismiss the obvious objection to the story of Jesus Christ being true in a piece of propaganda.

        • MNb

          When somebody tells me an urban legend (for instance about sandwich with monkey meat) he/she usually doesn’t leave the option “legend” open either. That doesn’t mean I have to choose between true story, lie or madness. So it remains a false trilemma.

        • Susan

          In the same way biology books “ignore” music theory.

          More like ‘in the same way biology books ignore homeopathy’.

          I’m a musician by trade and music theory is a description of the music we make. That’s all.

          It’s extremely useful when I’m charting a song. Useless when it comes to describing life on this planet and the existential and medical implications (just for beginners) that biology covers.

          Both are more useful than homeopathy and apologetics.

          One is just make-believe healthcare and the other is just bad arguments to cover up worse arguments…

          or worse arguments to cover up bad arguments…

          I lose track some times.

        • Greg G.

          Worst arguments to cover up worst arguments.

          The nicest way to put it is “every apologetics argument is better than the next”.

        • SteveK

          >> “More like ‘in the same way biology books ignore homeopathy.”

          In that way too. Just look at all the things that get “ignored” for one reason or another.

        • MNb

          Good job missing Susan’s point: the reason matters.

        • SteveK

          What part of “for one reason or another” don’t you understand? Sheesh, you’re dense!

        • MNb

          What part of “for one reason or another” specifies the reason? Think again who is the dense one – not me.

          Spoiler: I assume it’s such a bad one we shouldn’t call it a reason anymore. Perhaps the reason was because his wife menstruated badly. Who knows? You?

        • SteveK

          Mine was a generic comment. I didn’t reference anything specific so how could I give a specific reason?

          Lewis gave his reasons in the book for sticking to the basics and avoiding controversial points. Does any of that matter to you?

        • adam

          “Lewis gave his reasons in the book for sticking to the basics and avoiding controversial points.”

          Yes, because he had an agenda already.

          “Does any of that matter to you?”

          Of course, there are specific reasons biology ignores homeopathy, they are called EVIDENCE

        • SteveK

          You agree he gave reasons in the book. Good for you.

        • adam

          “You agree he gave reasons in the book. ”

          Yes, DECEPTION….

          Which you apparently have no problems with.

        • SteveK

          I must have missed where Lewis says this in the book. Susan demands that everyone provide references and citations so off you go.

        • Kodie

          It matters because it’s dishonest. The basics of Christianity are “ignore anything that might trigger your skepticism about this horseshit.”

        • MNb

          Shifting the goalposts doesn’t change the fact that you missed Susan’s point: the reason matters.

        • SteveK

          I understand.
          Lewis gave us these reasons at the front of the book.

        • Susan

          Lewis gave us these reasons at the front of the book.

          You have a copy of the book. Just type the reasons.

          I just read the preface and foreword of the book and some of the first chapter. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

          He doesn’t ‘stick to the basics’. He seems to ‘ignore the basics’.

          What do you mean by ‘controversial’?

        • Susan

          My comment was about your false statement that Lewis ignored the legend option

          Show me in the the argument where he addressed the legend option. Lewis sidesteps what seems to be not only a plausible explanation but one of the most obvious explanations.

          He does this without justifying it in the argument. That’s why the argument sucks so very badly.

          If the argument doesn’t address it, the argument ignores it.

          Bob S. (and many, many others) are forced to write articles to explain, “Now, wait a second… what are you trying to pull?”

          CSL is trotted out as a great intellectual ‘ex-atheist’ and I (and it appears many others) remain unimpressed because the reasoning he demonstrates on the subject of theism is so flawed.

          Please defend the trilemma or pick what you think is CSL’s best defense of the centrality of yahwehjesus and defend that or just stop.

          The most obvious response to this :particular piece of uncritical goo by CSL is “How do you exclude legend?”

          That’s if you can make it past his ‘hypothetical’ language designed to implicitly claim without having to support it that the words people claim about Jesus were actually and literally spoken by a specific guy.

          It’s rotten from the ground up.

          Unless you care to defend the actual argument, in which case I’m all ears.

        • SteveK

          >> “If the argument doesn’t address it, the argument ignores it.”

          Arguments can’t ignore anything. The person making the argument can ignore things, yes. If a person doesn’t intend on addressing the legend option, are they ignoring it? No.

        • MNb

          Do you know how we Dutch call people like you? Antfuckers. You’re not capable of discussing the big thing and hence focus obsessively on irrelevant details. Of course Susan meant “the person making the argument”.

          “If a person doesn’t intend on addressing the legend option, are they ignoring it?”
          Yes.
          Ignoring means not mentioning something that should have been mentioned, regardless of intention. CSL ignored the option Legend in Mere Christianity, intentionally or not.

        • SteveK

          >> “Ignoring means not mentioning something that should have been mentioned, regardless of intention.”

          There’s a reason why it wasn’t included. You said before that “the reason matters.” Does that still hold true?

        • InDogITrust

          If Jesus is a legend, there are no “Jesus’ words.”
          To argue that Jesus’ words prove he is Lord is the same as arguing that the empty tomb proves he rose from the dead.
          I have seen no evidence for the “empty tomb” and only a very little teeny tiny itsy bitsy bit of evidence that there are “Jesus’ words.”
          Convince me that there was a Jesus, convince me that he said the words you base your argument on, and then we can address the Trilemma.

        • SteveK

          Convince me I should care that you aren’t convinced.

        • Kodie

          Steve, why are Christians so lame?

        • SteveK

          Convince me I should care what you think.

        • Kodie

          Nitpickers like you care what everyone thinks or they’d keep their lame thoughts to themselves.

        • SteveK

          Well, you’re wrong about me caring what you think. You must enjoy being wrong because it happens so often.

        • adam

          “Steve, why are Christians so lame?”

          When you try and demonstrate that something that is IMAGINARY is actually REAL, it is just lame from the start.

        • adam

          So I guess Paul Bunyan’s words dont prove that Paul Bunyan was real either….

        • I’ve read the words of the Wizard of Oz. Sure sounds to me like he believed he existed.

        • adam

          “Lewis is talking about what Jesus’ words allow us to conclude about him.”

          Let me correct you,
          Lewis is talking about a story with words attributed to the character in the story named “Jesus” and what those words allow us to conclude about him.

          “Jesus’ words don’t allow us to conclude that Jesus is a historical legend.”

          Just as Paul Bunyan’s words dont allow us to conclude that Bunyan is a historical legend.

        • SteveK

          No correction necessary. I agree with every word you said. Bob would agree with you about Paul Bunyan, but Bob gets it wrong when it comes to Jesus. Why is that?

        • adam

          How is Bob getting wrong when it comes to Jesus?

          Just as Paul Bunyan’s words dont allow us to conclude that Bunyan is a historical legend but certainly the STORY can.

        • SteveK

          Ah, but Lewis is referencing the words of Jesus. The possible conclusions that Lewis draws cannot include legend because, to quote Lewis, “He has not left that open to us.”

        • adam

          “Ah, but Lewis is referencing the words of Jesus.”

          No, as you have just agreed:

          Lewis is talking about a story with words attributed to the character in the story named “Jesus” .

          Same as with Paul Bunyan’s ‘words’.

          They tell you nothing except what the STORY tells you.

        • SteveK

          I see that you’re right. I should not have agreed so let me correct that here. Lewis is talking about what he (Jesus) would allow us to conclude. It’s pretty clear from the context.

        • adam

          “Lewis is talking about what he (Jesus) would allow us to conclude. ”

          Yes, Jesus the character in some stories in the book.

          Same validity as words of Paul Bunyan.

          ” It’s pretty clear from the context.”
          Yes, it is clear that they are both mythological stories.

          Other than that, NOTHING is clear about the validity of the supernatural or legends.

        • Kodie

          If WE KNOW an actual person actually said those things, WE WOULD KNOW what they were was not a legend. This is pretty circular. If Jesus isn’t real, how could the things he said lead someone to understand that he isn’t real? If he never said those things because he’s fictional. Look, you’re not following the red bouncing ball, like your pal Jenna Black. Dense as fuck.

        • Ron

          Which words? And how do those words inform us that Jesus wasn’t a legend?

        • Kodie

          You can’t say things unless you really exist!

        • Ron

          Good point. Guess I’d better get busy kissing Hank’s ass so I can collect my million dollars and avoid getting the shit kicked out of me.

        • Scott_In_OH

          In my view, the point of the Tri-Lemma is not to generate an exhaustive list of options. The point is to show that Jesus is either Lord or he’s not.

          You are wrong. Lewis is trying to convince us that Jesus is Lord. In order to do that (using the form of argument he chooses to use in Liar, Lunatic, or Lord), he needs to make an exhaustive list of possibilities and discredit all but Lord. His list is not exhaustive, as it doesn’t include Legend (or some others); therefore, he hasn’t made his case. (Another objection might be that he hasn’t actually discredited the possibilities of Lunatic or Liar, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.)

          If his list is not exhaustive, then he has posed a false dilemma (in this case, trilemma).

          — Do you vote Republican, or are you just a lazy welfare cheat? No, I’m a hard-working American who votes Independent most of the time.

          — How did you get in this house? Are you a friend of the family, or are you a burglar? No, I’m the babysitter.

          — Do you practice abstinence, or do you sleep with everyone you meet? No, I’ve had 5 sex partners in my life, including 2 right now.

          — Do you support 1-woman-1-man marriage, or do you think bestiality and incest are OK? No, I think marriage between consenting adults is fine.

          — Do you think Jesus was a liar, a lunatic, or a lord? No, I think he was a legend.

          Posing the di(tri)lemma tries to trick the listener into thinking there aren’t any additional possibilities. If there are additional possibilities, the argument fails.

        • MNb

          “Lewis is trying to convince us that Jesus is Lord.”
          That may be not entirely correct. CSL may try to convince us that if believers accept Jesus’ words for what they are that the only possible outcome is “Jesus is Lord”. That’s obviously an open door and of course it’s not how christian apologists use it.
          Plus still it’s a false trilemma – Jesus might have deluded himself. Then he was neither Lord, nor a Liar (he believed himself what he said) nor a Lunatic (people can delude themselves in all kind of ways).

        • SteveK

          >> “If his list is not exhaustive, then he has posed a false dilemma (in this case, trilemma).”

          Lewis is directing the argument to the people who think Jesus was a great moral teacher but not God (i.e. the people who don’t think he was a fiction)

        • Scott_In_OH

          His list still needs to be exhaustive. In order to knock the legs out of two possibilities and proclaim the remaining one to be the truth, which is what Lewis does, his list needs to include all reasonable possibilities.

          It is quite possible to think Jesus was real, said some great things, but his story was exaggerated. I.e., he was part legend.

        • Kodie

          Wait – Lewis is directing his argument to the people who think Jesus is god is the legend and then diverting attention to anything else.

        • Susan

          Lewis is directing the argument to the people who think Jesus was a great moral teacher but not God (i.e. the people who don’t think he was a fiction)

          One can believe he’s not necessarily ‘a fiction’ and still not find him a great moral teacher.

          So, you’re saying that Lewis is addressing a group of people who don’t think Jesus was a fiction and also think he was a great moral teacher but don’t think he was supernatural.

          I wonder what percentage of those people have read the gospels.

          Still, even if one were to grant all of the assumptions that that particular group of people accepted, his list is still not exhaustive.

          Jesus could have been mistaken. He could have been misquoted.

          His message could have been horribly misunderstood by sincere followers. He could have been an alien.

          I could type and type and type and type the possibilities.

          Lewis uses rhetoric (and was well trained to do so) in place of well constructed arguments.

          If you think his Liar, Lord, Lunatic argument makes a good argument, please say so and defend it.

          Stop nickel-and-diming.

          If you don’t but you think he has a better argument or if you have a better argument, please produce it.

          .

        • SteveK

          The argument doesn’t do much for me.

        • SteveK

          Regarding your false ad hoc claim…

          “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?” 1950
          “Mere Christianity” 1952

          Yes, this is when the writings were written down which means he thought about these issues before he wrote. When? I have no idea.

        • Susan

          “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?” 1950

          Please provide a link or specific quotes that make your point. I’ve only found excerpts and don’t feel like wading through it all to see if there’s a point there.

        • MNb

          Then CSL’s intention was intellectually dishonest. Surprise. Not.

        • Lewis made clear that his 3 options were the only 3. Tell us why he omitted “Legend.”

        • SteveK

          I expect the reasons were similar to why you omitted the other options beyond the 4 that you mentioned here.

        • Unlike Lewis, I’m willing to (and have) considered other options. And Lewis continues to be stuck with just 3.

        • SteveK

          Lewis continues to be deceased. Lewis did consider other options, including the legend option. I linked to his writings on that already. You’re wrong, Bob.

        • I gave the relevant quote from Lewis’s very popular Mere Christianity. I quoted it in full. No context was lost. And Lewis doesn’t touch the Legend hot potato.

          You’re wrong, Bob.

          Guess again. If your point is that elsewhere Lewis does a pathetic job of addressing the Legend option (as MNb helpfully noted), I’ll agree. That wasn’t the topic. And since Lewis’s response was so poor, it doesn’t change things.

          But if you want to highlight Lewis’s Legend argument that wasn’t in MC, feel free. Let’s see if it’s worth all your arm waving.

        • SteveK

          >> “If your point is that elsewhere Lewis does a pathetic job of addressing the Legend option (as MNb helpfully noted), I’ll agree.”

          We’re making progress. What happened elsewhere lead to the argument in the book. It goes like this, Bob.

          a) At some point a person becomes convinced that X is reasonable.
          b) You enter into a discussion about Y and use X as your starting point to help justify conclusion Z as it relates to Y.

          You do this, we all do this. Nothing was ignored and I’m glad you can see this now.

        • Otto

          “We’re making progress. What happened elsewhere lead to the argument in the book.”

          And yet ostensibly Lewis addressed ‘Legend’ after Mere Christianity so saying it lead to the argument in the book doesn’t seem genuine.

        • SteveK

          Look down the page and you’ll see that you’re wrong – as usual. I copied the comment here. You could have checked yourself, but being lazy is a virtue around here.

          ————————————–
          “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?” 1950
          “Mere Christianity” 1952

          Yes, this is when the writings were written down which means he thought about these issues before he wrote. When? I have no idea.

        • Susan

          You could have checked yourself, but being lazy is a virtue around here.

          I asked you to please link to the full essay and provide quotes from it to support what you were saying. You didn’t.

          I made an effort but found only excerpts, none of which had anything to do with your claim.

          I’m not going on a wild goose chase in the hopes that I will find something that makes sense of your position.

          I’ll ask again. Provide a link and relevant quotes from the earlier work.

        • Otto

          Regardless Bob’s comment still holds because he addressed the argument Lewis’ made in Mere Christianity regarding the Tri-Lemma and that argument failed to address the Legend option.

          Your comment as usual drips with condescension…let me guess, you are a Catholic.

        • C.S. Lewis’s trilemma is broken. That’s the point.

          I used Lewis’s exposition of the argument from Mere Christianity. It’s flawed. That’s what the post is about.

        • SteveK

          You made a point of saying Lewis ignored legend. On that point you are wrong. That is my only point.

        • Perhaps you haven’t read the Lewis quote that I was referring to? Lewis ignored legend. It’s all there in black and white.

  • curtcameron

    A few years ago, I heard an interview with Francis Collins, where he attributed much of his conversion to Christianity to Lewis’s Mere Christianity, so I decided I should read it (actually listen to the audio book).

    To say I was unimpressed is an understatement.

    Back in the 1970s, I recall cringing when I would see the comedian Andy Kaufman. He was constantly doing things that were so stupid, that he should be embarrassed, but he didn’t seem to be, so I got embarrassed for him, and it was very uncomfortable. I got the same sense reading MC, that I was embarrassed for Lewis making such profoundly stupid arguments.

    I recall thinking, while listening to the book, “It sounds like he’s building to say X, but surely he wouldn’t say that, would he? Oh, no, he just said X! Ahhhhhhh!”

    He started with the Proof of God from Morality. Does he think we all share the same moral values? Has he never seen morality enforced in the other animals? What an idiot!

    Then he got to the Trilemma, and it was just as face-palm inducing.

    As I recall, the first two-thirds of the book set about proving God’s existence and Jesus’s divinity, then the last third dealt with how Christians should behave, now that he’s demonstrated its truth. I got partway through that last section and gave up.

    • It is indeed incredible that Mere Christianity is credited with so many conversions. I suppose that says a lot about Christians’ desire for evidence and argument.

      • It is amazing you are credited with no conversions. You just attract atheist trolls who commit ad homs and other logical fallacies non-stop. The pied piper of trolls.

        • Susan

          who commit ad homs and other logical fallacies non-stop.

          That’s quite a claim. Non-stop? How long have you been here?

          Hello. Welcome to the conversation. 😉

          You sure got a Bob crush.

          If you could point us to a discussion where ‘atheist trolls commit ad homs and other logical fallacies non-stop’, then I will take you seriously.

          Until then, all I see is a (kind of creepy) Bob crush.

          (Don’t feed the trolls! Don’t feed the trolls! Dammnit Susan!

          Don’t feed the trolls!!)

          Out.

        • Read Kodie’s posts. I can not provide any better evidence. And, yes, don’t respond to Kodie. That would be feeding the trolls. But if you are brave, disagree with her. Don’t call her names, just criticize her idea. She will call you names (ad hom) and present red herrings (more logical fallacies). Bob loves me. He has written many emails to me. 🙂 If you know him, he gets a bit obsessive over these things. Tell him Mic says hi.

  • Jerry P.

    Lewis seems to be addressing only those who think Jesus was all kinds of fabulous, but not a god. If you don’t think Jesus was all that great in the first place, his argument isn’t meant for you. I think the argument doesn’t work even if framed properly, but I often see the argument posed without the intended framing, which makes the argument not only bad, but laughable.

    • MNb

      That’s probably correct, but not the way some christians use it.

    • Those were the very people who should have been told that there was, and had been for some time, a common form of biblical scholarship that supported the belief that Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not divine. Lewis was certainly familiar with the scholarship that proposed Jesus’ divinity as a later legendary development.

      But he chose to obscure this scholarship that most directly and simply answered the challenge of his false trilemma; he obscured it to those who would have most welcomed it.

      Lewis was a Liar.

  • JedRothwell

    Lewis’ statement is a logical fallacy: a false dilemma. (Actually a false trilemma.)

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/false-dilemma.html

    You mentioned the possibility that the story is a myth. Another possibility is that Jesus said this, he meant it, but he was mistaken. It should not be considered crazy because many people in those days claimed they were the Son of God.

    There are many incremental possibilities. You propose that “the entire Jesus story is legend.” Perhaps it is part legend and part true. Perhaps he did not claim to be the Son of God but other people said he was. Or someone else made this claim, and their story later got mixed up with his. There is no way Lewis or anyone else can list the full, clear-cut, exclusive set of possible answers. This is not mathematics.

    • False binaries are common these days. False trinities are more rare. I guess I should give Lewis credit for complicating thing a bit. Too bad it’s still the same shit with one extra option. I’m increasingly convinced that Apologetics are not at all about convincing nonbelievers to believe but convincing otherwise intelligent believers that their beliefs make far more sense than they do.

  • The scholarly comparative study of high christology in the later gospels vs low christology in the earlier, was well established in Lewis’s day. Contemporaries and predecessors of Lewis proposed that Jesus may never have considered himself God – that these legendary claims were invented by later writers. This scholarship lead directly to the consideration of Jesus as a great moral teacher without divine aspirations. And this picture of Jesus had spread from the scholars to the laymen of Lewis’s day.

    So when Lewis conveniently left out the “legend” option in his trilemma, the most logical answer to his challenge, this was no simple oversight. Lewis was quite familiar with the biblical scholarship of his day. He left out the “legend” option deliberately.

    Which leads me to a disturbing conclusion. Whatever Jesus was, Lewis was a Liar.

  • Bruce Gorton

    A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.

    This to me illustrates how CS Lewis was a mediocre at best thinker. If Jesus’ teachings are good, then his divinity or even existence shouldn’t matter.

    If Jesus would be a madman for saying what he did as a human, then saying them as a God would simply make him an insane God.

  • 90Lew90

    I really fail to see what the fascination is with CS Lewis. He’s from my neck of the woods and I find him slightly embarrassing. I can’t think of him as anything other than a children’s author and don’t like the Narnia stories. When he ventured into philosophy proper he was humiliated by Elizabeth Anscombe. I don’t understand why Christians wave him around as though he’s got anything compelling. He’s always struck me as dishonest insofar as he seems to make a case not for the truth of his religion but because he knows it’s ridiculous and his whole plea is to be let off the hook because he knows it. What kind of message is that? “Yes, I know it’s ludicrous. Just leave me to it.” I have more respect for the bishop Ussher, also from here, who knew a lot less than Clive Staples Lewis so had more excuse, and went to the bother of counting back biblical chronology to come up with the 6,000 year figure to date the planet. And what a waste of time that was too.

    • MNb

      “and don’t like the Narnia stories”
      Neither do I. Neither did my son when he had the right age.

      “I don’t understand why Christians wave him around …..”

      They haven’t got much better, have they? Plus he’s a convert – CSL claimed to have been an atheist.

      • Otto

        I loved fantasy books, the Narnia stories were too simple, I never cared to read another after the first.

      • He wasn’t a real atheist. Real atheists don’t convert to theism.

    • Wm. Lane Craig appears to be a modern CS Lewis–providing “scholarly” credentials to crappy ideas.

  • Alicia

    Personally I don’t have any problem with “Lunatic,” and I didn’t even when I was Christian-esque.

    • Otto

      I don’t either…I don’t think Lewis successfully refuted this one at all.

      • 90Lew90

        Of course he was a lunatic. So was Paul. Which makes the whole thing seem a very bad joke.

        • adam

          “Which makes the whole thing seem a very bad joke.”

          Or just slick propaganda….

      • James

        The standard Christian apologetic for explaining Muhammad, Buddha, Zoroaster, Bahá’u’lláh, the ten founding gurus of Sikhism, etc is that they were either liars or lunatics – concluded on the basis of the very same quality of evidence as what they have for Jesus. Apparently, it’s only special pleading if one doesn’t really believe his or her’s own sales pitch.

  • Alicia

    Ok, so now I’ve actually read the comments, and I think I see the problem.
    Lewis is reading the gospel narratives and treating them as accurate reports about Jesus’ claims for himself.
    If you accept that premise, then yeah, you are in a bit of a pickle, as far as Jesus being one of those three things.
    But once you accept the reality of how humans create myths around our heroes, so that it would be impossible for the gospels to present an accurate historical account of what he did (even if bloodless historical accuracy were a value in that time and place, which all evidence indicates it was not), then the gordian knot falls apart in your hands.
    Jesus said some things. Other people said things about him, or put their words in his mouth. It is impossible from this distance to know with a certainty which is which, so there is probably no point in basing too big of an argument on one theory of Jesus’ self image.

    • adam

      “Jesus said some things.”

      I do find it interesting that we have quotes from Jesus, mostly likely a generation past Jesus, without any documentation that he actually said them.
      Yet, we have almost no accounts except for his final days…

      Not that impressive for a ‘god’

      • Otto

        And yet Lewis used the lack of information about Jesus’ life as if that somehow confirmed the Gospels, he argued that someone writing a legend would have given lots of detail about such times for a character…another terrible argument.

      • Kodie

        Not that impressive for “the” “god” – look, he fucked up creation, he blamed the people he made, he flooded the world but instead of starting all over again, he preserved a bare minimum of 8 humans and one pair of every animal to repopulate the entire earth. What the fuck and nothing killed them all in the meantime. We got a couple thousand elephants now, a handful of pandas, etc. Sure, god, this will work out great. A few thousand years later, instead of starting all over again, because he promised never to kill everyone all at once ever again, only whenever he gets really angry, he will wipe out several to dozens of thousands at one go, but usually a couple thousand per day anyway…. he devises a new plan. Let’s save everyone on earth – the hard way. Impregnate a woman, and wait a few decades until this kid really can carry the load. So how many people died unsaved while Jesus grew up? Then he will do his messiah thing and get killed and a few hundred more years pass before anyone really hears about him. In a world of 7 billion people currently, there are people who have never heard of Jesus, and all these Christians can think about is endangering them by making sure they’ve heard the good news so they can freely reject it because it’s bullshit.

        Instead of killing Jesus young and having him rise from the dead, what he should have done is make him immortal and perform miracles all over the world and save people himself, instead of let dimwits forward this spam mail by word of mouth. I have to say it’s kind of a surprise this took off at all, but if god were really interested in saving people from having to send them to hell where he’d obviously rather send everyone, there are probably a lot of better ways.

    • Interesting–so Legend wasn’t a plausible option given Lewis’s presupposition that the gospel was history. That’s a huge leap, but having made it, I see that that might be a charitable way to look at Lewis’s train wreck.

      • Alicia

        Well, I guess charitable in one sense. The idea that the gospels were highly embroidered documents intended to persuade rather than inform was very much available on the marketplace of ideas at the time he was writing. My thesis that he nonetheless ignores it makes his argument explicable, but it still makes him stupid and/or blinkered.
        On the other hand, we all address our pet causes (religious or otherwise) with prior convictions that render us blind to the obvious solution, so there you are.
        My main field is nutrition, and if you want to see tendentious arguments based on unswerving commitments to assumptions of dubious merit, then come over to my neck of the woods. Unfortunately that just seems to be how humans work.

  • MNb

    OK, BobS, because SteveK seems to be very anal on it and possibly will lose a week of sleep if you don’t get chastised I will do it. If you hear a loud moan it’s SteveK getting off.

    YOU WERE WRONG! CSL TOTALLY TALKED ABOUT THE OPTION OF LEGEND! HERE IT IS!

    http://www.christasus.com/Letters/CSLWhatAreWeToMakeOfJesusChrist.htm

    PAY CLOSE ATTENTION!

    “Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends.”

    SHAME ON YOU!

    Does this affect the conclusion of your article, that Lord, Lunatic, Liar is a false trilemma?
    No.
    Does CSL show that we can dismiss the option Legend?
    No.
    Did that quote come from Mere Christianity, the book you address?
    No.
    Was the book that quote came from, God in the Dock, published before Mere Christianity?
    No.
    So how relevant is this quote to your article?
    It only shows you haven’t consumed every fart produced by CSL.

    SHAME ON YOU FOR NOT INVESTIGATING EVERY FART PRODUCED BY CSL, YOU LAZY BUMMER!

    • Just to be peevish, I will argue that my original bitchslapping of Lewis was justified because I did honestly and thoroughly treat his trilemma in Mere Christianity. But your addition is helpful to bring in the rest of the formidable Lewis corpus.

      • MNb

        Of course. I implied this when I pointed out that God in the Dock was published after Mere Christianity.

  • David Schmidt

    Bob, do your homework. Lewis discounted the possibility of legend. Lewis noted that the style of the Gospel were unlike the myths of other cultures. Rather the Gospels were written in a clear, non-exaggerated way. As an intellectual, Lewis knew more about myths than you do. So I’m going to trust him over you.

    • IMHO, sometimes the fact checking skills on this blog aren’t that stellar. This post is a re-run and you can read about the flaws that were pointed out in his misunderstandings back in 2012. I’m sure people misrepresent Mr Seidensticker’s views and he probably doesn’t appreciate it. So this should be an easy thing for him to grasp.

      • You need to point out the errors. Be specific. Simply stating that you’re not impressed does nothing.

        you can read about the flaws that were pointed out in his misunderstandings back in 2012

        I wonder if the “flaws” were things like you (don’t) point out. A comment reading “I’m unconvinced” or “this post sux” does nothing to make the case.

        • Greeting to you, sir. As I said, it is my opinion. IMHO if Lewis were alive today, he would suggest you are missing the point and changing his message to suit your personal needs. And Mr Seidensticker, let me point this out: stating I’m unimpressed with your writing does something. As a member of the audience you are writing to, it does matter. By your own simple standards – you just saying something does nothing also does nothing. Thank you for sharing your humble opinion. Go enjoy your vacation. Quit checking on your blog! And let me put it this way: I’m not going to be checking your blog anymore. The comment sections are attracting some ugly nastiness. I encourage you to try and attract a more intelligent and open-minded audience. Let go of the idea you have to always be right. You are not listening very well to others. I’m off to go smoke my peace pipe, happy blogging to ya!!! Any issue you have with my opinion is just your problem. I don’t care what you think. Delete this. Think about. Ignore it. I’m done.

          http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png

        • As I said, it is my opinion.

          An as I said, that’s not the problem. The problem is that your opinion isn’t backed up with examples of errors plus the corrections.

          IMHO if Lewis were alive today, he would suggest you are missing the point

          I bet you’re right. And the problem remains: where are these accursed errors?

          stating I’m unimpressed with your writing does something. As a member of the audience you are writing to, it does matter.

          Of course. If you say you’re unimpressed (or offended or whatever), then you are.

          By your own simple standards – you just saying something does nothing also does nothing.

          And I await with ill-concealed eagerness anything that will help me correct the problem. You’ve cracked open the door to heaven for me and slammed it in my face. Dang.

          I’m not going to be checking your blog anymore. The comment sections are attracting some ugly nastiness.

          Ah, if only your comments could be that necessary breath of fresh air.

          I encourage you to try and attract a more intelligent and open-minded audience.

          Suggestions?

          Let go of the idea you have to always be right. You are not listening very well to others.

          I’d ask for evidence, but I bet I’d get my hand slapped again.

        • Kodie

          You have an opinion,so what? Thank you for your considerate and overblown departure and thank you for saving future minutes reading your vapid posts. Nobody will miss the absolute lack of content.

        • MR

          Are you sure that wasn’t Greg?

        • Kodie

          Greg would never say he was leaving.

        • Greg G.

          It looks like Steve K got raptured. (Guest (aka TruthCheck, or something like that), with his pointed critiques, reminded me of Shem the Penman for some reason.

        • I suspect that TroofCheck was really someone named Abby. She’s gone–until her next drive-by.

        • MR

          Deception. It does a Christian good.

        • adam

          Ms. Normal?

    • Lewis discounted the possibility of legend.

      Yes, let’s consult the great Lewis on the matter: “It is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.”

      Just kinda feels right? Sorry, but that doesn’t make a very convincing argument.

    • MNb

      David Schmidt, do your homework. Scroll downwards a bit and notice that I’ve already chastized BobS for this. Unlike you I gave the specific quote where CSL discounted the possibility of legend.

    • Otto

      From what I have seen Lewis addressed Legend as an afterthought subsequent to Mere Christianity…and just dismissed it with the same poor arguments he used with Liar and Lunatic.

      • David Schmidt

        Lewis was a literary critic of the higher degree. And whether or not it was an afterthought, his opinion as an expert in this far outweighs Bob’s opinion. Furthermore, if you read Lewis’ autobiography, you will see that his opinion regarding the lack of evidence for “legend” actually occurs prior to his conversion to Christianity. Lewis was an Atheist at the time when he recognized that the style of the gospels were far different that mythological writings. This recognition was one of the “signposts” that brought Lewis to faith in Christ.

        • Otto

          Lewis was an Atheist at the time when he recognized that the style of the gospels were far different that mythological writings.

          And here is an expert explaining why the Gospels are structured as Myth. Lewis’ opinion is not the end all and be all on the subject.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e7uhaed594

        • David Schmidt

          The difference is that Lewis didn’t have an agenda when he recognized the gospels weren’t myth whereas this individual does. Furthermore, the bigger point regarding Bob’s posit is that Bob is claiming something about Lewis that isn’t correct. I understand Bob doesn’t agree with Lewis, fine. But don’t be dishonest about it. Bob has a tendency to do that in order to “look good.” and to appear smarter than he is.

        • Susan

          The difference is that Lewis didn’t have an agenda when he recognized the gospels weren’t myth whereas this individual does.

          Show us in the video where the speaker’s work is flawed or dishonest. He does attempt to make a case in detail.

          Lewis just hand waved the idea away with an argument from his own authority.

          Who’s got the agenda?

          The same way people here have pointed out the flaws in Lewis’s arguments, you’re supposed to address the case Carrier makes. HIs credentials are solid. (EDIT: Your original point was that CSL had better cred than Bob S.)

          Bob has a tendency to do that in order to “look good.” and to appear smarter than he is.

          Provide a link showing us where he does that in this discussion or in the article.

          Bob addresses the argument. You and SteveK have made no effort to defend the argument and I don’t blame you. It’s indefensible.

          Let it go. Provide a better argument.

          As much as you’d like this to deteriorate into an extended ad Bobinem, unless you have something to say about Lewis’s argument, you and SteveK just come across as a couple of goofs.

          Do you like CSL’s Trilemma? Do you think it’s a good argument?

        • MR

          an extended ad Bobinem

          Nice.

        • Otto

          LOL..’my guy didn’t have an agenda and yours does’ is the argument of a 12 year old.

        • David Schmidt

          Goes to motive and bias.

        • Otto

          At no point have you demonstrated your statement to be correct. Carrier presents a detailed reasoned argument for his position. Lewis says he is right because he is an expert and ‘it just doesn’t look like a myth to him. Now who is arguing with an agenda? I would say you are.

        • Google image search “Bob Seidensticker”

          Image number 5 or 6 will tell you all you need to know.

        • Oh, and stand back. Bob has a reputation of being a baby and throwing a tempter tantrum, watch out for his next blog post to be extra passive-aggressive. But that characterization from Google image search is spot on.

        • MNb

          That picture doesn’t look like BobS at all.

        • I don’t know who that sweaty slob is in the picture.

        • MNb

          Then why did you call her Bob in your previous comment?

        • Troof: Tell me more about this reputation. I missed that.

        • MNb
        • Is this him? He is cute. I see why Kodie wants to suck his dick.

          http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mwYTROrq1x8/Va10WXbPZcI/AAAAAAAAAAk/wnNvhn9woj8/s1600/sEIDENSTICKER.jpg

        • MNb

          Finally! Yes, that’s him.
          You shouldn’t project your own secret desires on other people. That makes you look foolish..

        • MNb

          That’s not BobS either.

        • MNb

          That’s not BobS.

        • Oh, well. Good night MNb.

        • MNb

          Thanks. Enjoy your self delusion the rest of your life.

        • Troof: I’m too stupid to get it. Explain it to me.

        • adam

          “The difference is that Lewis didn’t have an agenda when he recognized the gospels weren’t myth whereas this individual does.”

          Reference needed

        • Lewis was a literary critic of the higher degree. And whether or not it was an afterthought, his opinion as an expert in this far outweighs Bob’s opinion.

          Here’s Lewis’s opinion: “[Christianity] is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.” Is this literary opinion you were referring to? I find that inadequate.

          Are you saying that Lewis’s trilemma in Mere Christianity is indeed incomplete but that he satisfactorily answers the Legend challenge elsewhere? Then I invite you to provide that response.

        • Pofarmer

          If Lewis was such a great literary critic, why is he primarily known for his apologetics?

        • David Schmidt

          It is his apologetics that most people think about when they think about Lewis. Thankfully, most of us can be good, even great in more than one area.

          As an example of Lewis’ academic work, you can read the Preface to Paradise Lost. It is a serious of lectures he gave on Milton’s epic poem. He was a professor for I believe at least 30 plus years spending time at Oxford and then Cambridge in England. He knew several languages including Greek and Latin and was able to read the New Testament in the original language.

          Some claim that Lewis was possibly the best read individual in England during his life, though how one determines this, I don’t know.

          If you want to know more about Lewis there are several biographies on the market. I believe the most recent came out in 2012 and traces his intellectual development throughout his life by analyzing his writings, books, letters, etc. chronologically.

        • David Schmidt

          Read “Surprised by Joy.” It is Lewis spiritual autobiography.

        • Susan

          Read “Surprised by Joy.” It is Lewis spiritual autobiography.

          Definitely catholic. “Go read this. Someone smart explains it somewhere and my point will be proven.”

          Does Lewis satisfactorily answer the Legend challenge somewhere?

          Are you able to explain in your own words how Lewis does that? It’s a simple question.

        • Thanks, but that probably won’t happen soon. Can you summarize the relevant bits?

  • Mat Rooker

    Legend or Lord? Bob, have you done any historical research on other prominent figures in antiquity? If so would you use the same criteria for judging the validity of what was said about them or what they actually said….or is it just because Jesus poses a problem to your presupposition of naturalism? Can he only be a legend because you can’t accept him as lord?

    • MNb

      Irrelevant for this article, that only says that Lord, Lunatic or Liar is a false trilemma. It’s CSL (and if you defend him, you) who has to exclude the option Legend.
      Plus you also have to exclude the option Self Delusion. It’s totally possible (I don’t have to show that it is the correct option) that Jesus believed what he said, wasn’t a lunatic nor a son of god but just mistaken.
      Then the trilemma has nothing to do with historical research. The option Legend and historical figure are not mutually exclusive. Neither are self delusion and historical figure.
      Finally naturalism in this context isn’t a presupposition. You’re also a naturalist – you recognize that there is a natural reality plus some more. But even the rejection of that some more (ie a supernatural reality) isn’t a presupposition, but the conclusion of three good arguments. I’ll save them for another time, because they have little to do anymore with CSL’s false trilemma. Because believe it or not, for the sake of this analysis we accept that the option Lord is possible. Our complaint is that CSL without any justification left the option Legend out and mine is that he never considered self delusion.

      • Mat Rooker

        The trilemma has everything to do historical research…Did Jesus rise from the dead? Have you actually studied the arguments for the resurrection….and please don’t take this down the probability road…sorry, not being rude or disrespectful

        • MNb

          You are not rude but you are disrespectful, because you ignored what I wrote. So I repeat:

          “Our complaint is that CSL without any justification left the option Legend out.”
          Plus you try to restrict me with

          “please don’t take this down the probability road.”
          before I even started. That’s also disrespectful.

        • Mat Rooker

          Then I apologise for the restriction…I just find it a poor argument and tiresome to get bogged down in 🙁 In response to your repeat…sorry I thought others had already argued that CSL excluded the legend option as he had addressed in his other writings and his professional background?

        • MNb

          Apologies rejected. You have done me no harm.

          “I just find it a poor argument”
          That’s your full right. However it has little to do again with the (false) Trilemma so I’m going to save it.

          “CSL excluded the legend option”
          Yes, but not in his book Mere Christianity. Plus his reasons to reject it are incredibly shallow, even to his own poor standards. Plus christians continue to present it as a trilemma iso a quatrolemma. And that is the biggest problem.
          Plus christians hardly ever consider the option of self delusion of course.
          That’s the point: if you want to set up an argument like this you have to make sure you have exhausted all possible options.

        • Mat Rooker

          Well I don’t think you have really demonstrated 4 categories…just because you believe his reasons are shallow…if your argument is solely fixed on CSL shallow reasons for rejecting the Legend option, we can go do the path of appealing to another authority…but that won’t do for you I believe…I think this maybe something that you are set on believing to make a point that really doesn’t hold well?

        • MNb

          “just because you believe his reasons are shallow”
          You attack a strawman here. I never wrote “just because ….“. I maintain that CSL’s Trilemma is a false one because he did not consider two extra options without any justification. And you actually confirm it with

          “I don’t think you have really demonstrated 4 categories”

          1. I demonstrated 5.
          2. Still you think I didn’t.
          3. You’re not a liar.
          4. You’re not a lunatic.
          5. You’re not right.
          6. Hence you’re deluding yourself. Or I am. That still confirms that the Trilemma is false.

      • Mat Rooker

        Wouldn’t self-delusion fall into the lunatic category?

        • MNb

          No. Mentally sane people perfectly can delude themselves. I have done it. Almost an entire nation (Germany) did it around 1939.

        • Mat Rooker

          That sounds a contradiction in terms….self delusion is not a healthy state of mind, so it would mean that you would be suffering from some mental instability or narcism…they have accepted a distorted view of reality….there were many self proclaimed messiahs in Jesus’ day and after, what made Jesus stand out against them?

        • MNb

          “self delusion is not a healthy state of mind”
          So you conclude that every single German who in 1938 thought Hitler the best thing since whenever but had changed his/her mind in 1945 a lunatic? According to that standard I’d say every single human being is a lunatic. That leaves this option meaningless.
          It’s not a contradiction in terms. You can perfectly not be a lunatic while being in an unhealthy state of mind. I assume you don’t call people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrom lunatics. Or do you?

        • Mat Rooker

          Define your terms I think as we may be understanding things differently…..plus your germany argument is flawed, because most of them were deceived not self deluded…which goes into the liar category

        • MNb

          Self delusion is simply “the act of allowing yourself to believe something that is not true.” Mind you, at this point I’m not saying yet that Jesus deluded himself. I’m saying two things:

          1. Self delusion is not lying, because someone who deludes him/herself is convinced that what he/she says is true;

          2. Lewis didn’t consider this option.

          “plus your germany argument is flawed, because most of them were deceived not self deluded”

          Then obviously you know little about German history between 1933 and 1945. Every time a German said “if only Hitler knew …..” he/she deluded him/herself that his cronies were responsible for everything that went wrong, not the Führer himself.

          Oh – and you reject scientific research, probably without realizing it.

          http://www.2knowmyself.com/psychology_of_self_deception

        • Mat Rooker

          “According to psychology, self deception is one of the popular escapement methods that people use to prevent themselves from feeling guilty while in the same time allowing themselves to escape from something that they don’t want to face.”

          -Well that ruled out Jesus 🙂

        • Kodie

          Good for you, you are self-deluded. You blatantly mistook an example for the primary symptom.

        • Mat Rooker

          Well my mistake or should I say self delusion…sorry whats the primary symptom? If you want define your terms better I would not get so confused…or is that deluded?

        • Kodie

          You ruled out self-delusion for Jesus because he didn’t match the first example you read. That’s just illiterate but it can lead to delusion.

        • Mat Rooker

          That wasn’t an example it was a generalisation of the condition….wow your really good 😉

        • MNb

          How? Did you question Jesus yourself?
          Plus the quote doesn’t say self deception is exclusively used for this purpose.

        • Mat Rooker

          Well this line of reasoning will led nowhere….ok where would you like to draw the line as self deception and lunacy? You choose

        • MR

          Which side of the line do the people I mentioned fall on, i.e., the priests, pastors, imams, shamans, religious lay folk, etc., of the religious beliefs that you do not hold?

        • Mat Rooker

          Well either they are all false or one is true…narrows it down little

        • MR

          Your ability to answer questions seems to be deteriorating. Are those people self-deluded or crazy?

        • Mat Rooker

          I have been responding to three different people at the same time for the past 2hours and have been awake all night trying to finish an assignment on Hinduism….so quite possibly 🙂

        • Mat Rooker

          Oh please….is drinking peoples blood and eating there flesh crazy, self-delusional or a lunatic…please you define…its your game, your rules 🙂

        • MR

          I’m not talking about your religion, I’m talking about theirs. Do you believe muslims are lunatics or self-deluded or do you want to call them something else?

        • Mat Rooker

          No you tell me…what are your definitions….otherwise we will not come to any agreement or even an agree to disagree…is every religious person a lunatic, self-deluded or lying?

        • MR

          That’s not the question. Plus, even I’m straying from my original question, so let’s both back up. Is someone who is not your religion (we’ll say a non-Christian) who thinks themselves to be a prophet of their god, or even a non-Christian lay person who believes that their god gives them messages, are those people self-deluded or lunatics? I have no problem answering that question, why do you? I’ll give you my answer, and then you can tell me if you agree or not:

          I do not believe that a non-Christian who believes they are a prophet or who believes they receive messages from their god are lunatics. They might be, but the vast majority I believe are likely simply self-deluded.

          One step at a time: What side of the line do you believe they fall on?

        • Kodie

          It was defined for you before, when you said self-delusion was not a healthy state of mind and equate it with lunacy. So you have your religion you feel perfectly sane and healthy in your mind, I assume? Billions of other people on this earth would say you’re wrong in your beliefs, as you would say they are wrong in theirs, so do you think they’re all fucking insane, or do you think they are generally healthy in the mind and believe something that isn’t true, according to you? Do you think they are malicious and lying about their beliefs? And why isn’t what they believe true, how do you know?

        • Kodie

          The one that got to you first is true? How lucky.

        • Mat Rooker

          How do you know I have got the first is true….is that a truth claim?

        • Kodie

          You don’t know any religions, you have to hear about them from other people. Whoever made the best presentation in your own personal judgment is your belief. You said out of tens of thousands of different religious beliefs one could have, only one can be true or none of them are, so how do you know you’re right, and how much work did you put in to cross the others off your long list?

        • MNb

          Where the line is you should ask a professional psychologist. I’m not. The question is irrelevant for my point: you don’t need to be a lunatic to deceive yourself. Hence it’s a seperate option.

          “Well this line of reasoning will led nowhere”
          Oh yes, it will. It leads to the unevitable conclusion that self-delusion is an independent option and hence CSL’s trilemma is a false one. You don’t want to go there because you realize it will be hard, if not impossible for you to dismiss this option. And if the option self-delusion remains open you can’t use CSL’s trilemma anymore to “prove” that Jesus was Lord.
          You’re just not honest enough to admit it. That’s why you want to cut this line of reasoning off. Call me unsurprised. Unfortunately for you some christians are actually more honest than you.

          https://corthodoxy.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/whats-wrong-with-c-s-lewis-trilemma-liar-lunatic-or-lord/

          Even this goof (generally speaking) recognizes the problem:

          http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2012/12/trilemma-or-quadrilemma-answering-the-legend-critique-of-lewiss-lordliarlunatic-argument/

          “Of course it assumes that the NT record of Jesus’ teachings is generally accurate”

          A priori there is no reason to accept this assumption. That means the option Legend needs to be investigated (like Gilson does, no matter if I accept that analysis) and that implies accepting it’s a false trilemma. It’s only an accurate trilemma on the assumption that the NT is generally accurate. That makes it worthless as an apologetic argument and hence I’m willing to accept the explanation that CSL didn’t intend it to be one. At the other hand God in the Dock, where CSL rejects the option of Legend, indicates he thinks it’s an argument after all. The fact that he’s not clear about this shows the shallowness of his thinking.
          Gilson not realizing this is one reason I call him a goof. So of course he doesn’t talk about self-delusion either.

        • Mat Rooker

          Could you explain abit more on your german argument again…I think your saying (sarcastically) that people didn’t think that Hitler was doing the right thing…that he had no idea….is that right…I don’t want to misunderstand you

        • MNb

          I’m not saying that at all, let alone sarcastically. Trust me, when I get sarcastic you will immediately notice.
          What I’m saying is that people were convinced – by means of self delusion – that Hitler intended what was best for them and for the country. that he honestly served their interests. He wasn’t and when the Germans realized it it was far too late. They woke up a very, very hard way. And not even all of them; immediately after the war 20% of the population still thought Hitler had been the right person for them.

        • MR

          I’m not saying that at all, let alone sarcastically. Trust me, when I get sarcastic you will immediately notice.

          Trust me, when he gets sarcastic you will immediately notice.

        • MR

          Hi, Mat, an example related to what MNb is saying which comes to my mind are people who believe themselves to be prophets of (pick a) God or even every day people who believe they receive messages from (pick a) God. I don’t believe every priest, preacher, imam, shaman…, or mother, wife, husband and son who believes these things are lunatics, but certainly most are self-deluded. I would suggest that all are, but certainly you can agree that the ones who don’t believe what you believe are.

        • Mat Rooker

          Yeah I hear what your saying…but someone who calls themselves the son of God, tells people to eat his flesh and drink his blood….stirs up his own religious leaders to want to kill him for blasphemy….you would conclude that they were a lunatic…..the degree that you would place Jesus in the self-deluded category would be a bit generous to say the least. Wouldn’t you agree?

        • MR

          Certainly possible if you have people around you supporting your delusion. Plus, simple self delusions can lead to lunacy. A self-deluded person can start the ball rolling for legends that build around them. There are many possibilities, so how do we determine truth? How do you determine the truth of this matter?

        • Mat Rooker

          the same way we all do, evidence, reason and perhaps some of the ol’ supernatural 😉

        • MR

          I have no evidence for the supernatural, do you? Evidence and reason to me point in a very different direction.

        • Mat Rooker

          What would class as a supernatural event for you? What evidence would determine that it was supernatural…and is that standard of evidence needed for everyone?

        • MR

          Well, let’s pick something. Do you believe in ghosts?

        • Mat Rooker

          Yeah…Spirits

        • MR

          Um…, okay, give me something supernatural you don’t believe in.

        • Mat Rooker

          I believe everything is supernatural….I don’t separate reality, thats enlightenment thinking 🙂

        • MR

          So you believe in vampires?

        • Mat Rooker

          Yes…dont you? what type? the actual undead ones or those who self delusion and drink peoples blood?

        • MR

          Yeah, I think you’re beginning to see where this is headed and why your supernatural argument sucks. Do you hear that noise? That’s cognitive dissonance kicking in.

          For the supernatural things you don’t believe in, ask yourself what it would take for you to believe in them and get back to me when you’re ready to be sincere.

        • Mat Rooker

          Good retreat…just because there maybe things that you and I don’t believe in does not necessarily follow that they do not exist…wouldnt you agree?

        • MR

          You’re the one retreating unless you really expect me to believe you believe in vampires. I’m interested in exploring your argument. If you don’t think your argument will hold up, then fine, we can end it here.

          But, my answer likely mirrors your answer. If you want to explore that, then be honest and come up with something supernatural you don’t believe in that other people do. If you really believe in everything, well, then, I’m afraid for me that lunatic label’s looking like a pretty good fit for you, but I don’t really believe that.

        • Kodie

          Just show us that evidence that a miraculous non-natural feat actually occurred in history and then we can find it also to be true. If your evidence is weak, don’t expect us to fall for your lame story, either.

        • MNb

          OK. Do you believe there are fairies in my backyard tending the flowers so that they blossom beautifully? Just because MR doesn’t believe in them it doesn’t necessarily follow that they do not exist. So do you believe this claim? Remember, there are 500 anonymous witnesses for this claim.

        • MNb

          Really? Is your computer supernatural? The desk or table you have placed it on? The chair you’re sitting on? If yes, please explain.

        • MNb

          “you would conclude that they were a lunatic”
          Not necessarily.

        • Kodie

          Look, even if you’re a god, why put on the drama of this delusional-sounding ritual? You will automatically have people thinking you’re weird and that seems antithetical to his ostensible purpose for being god appearing as a human. If you were alive at the time, wouldn’t you think this guy’s a nut? If someone did this now, you would think they were a nut.

        • Mat Rooker

          Sorry what ritual? the communion?

        • Kodie

          The ritual you called blasphemy and lunacy. If a man appeared lately to call himself the messiah and told you to eat his flesh and drink his blood, you wouldn’t believe another word out of his mouth. If the priest told you to go along with this silly cracker and juice exercise, you’d get right in line.

        • Mat Rooker

          Ahhh got you….sorry I wasn’t living in that context but from the historical documents that we do have…apparently it divided the people….after all they were expecting a messiah due to to people who predicted his coming years before hand and the religious leaders didn’t want a peaceful messiah, but a military commander to overthrow the romans…you should study the context, its very interesting from a historical perspective if nothing else 🙂

        • Mat Rooker

          I mean based on the article that MNb gave me to look at…I really don’t see Jesus in that self-delusion category. Plus the other self proclaimed messiahs were more along the line of insurrectionist not blasphemers and speaking profound truths on ethical and justice issues.

        • MR

          Because you don’t see him in that category, can you definitively say he was not? Can you definitively he say he existed? If he existed, can you definitively say the things we have about him are true?

          You brought up an interesting point that I like very much. You mentioned using “the same criteria for judging the validity of what was said about them or what they actually said.” Can you give me an example? Maybe we can explore that.

        • Mat Rooker

          I suppose you could start with a number of historical figures…Julius Caesar? Plato?? George Washington…I mean how far can you go and what evidence is relied upon to validate historical events.?

        • MR

          That’s fine. Thanks. So, what are your thoughts on Caesar, for example. What likelihood would you give his existence?

        • Mat Rooker

          I would say he existed as he did write his own account but we have to attest historically that they are his accounts suppose the accounts that we have. The oldest we have is 900 years after the event…thats quite far removed, but there are others as well. The NT is extremely attested and close to actual events

        • MR

          I was hoping to take this a step at a time lest we confuse things. To stick with Caesar for now, what likelihood would you give his existence given the things you mentioned?

        • Mat Rooker

          sorry… I bet your a teacher 😉

          Yes

        • MR

          Not professionally. 😉

          Caesar was deified. Do you believe he was a god?

          [edit: my bad I should have asked]: What likelihood would you give to his being a God?

        • Mat Rooker

          No…sorry

        • MR

          That’s not what I asked. What likelihood would you give? None. Miniscule. half and half?

        • Mat Rooker

          Define God

        • MR

          A god as they claimed he was.

        • Mat Rooker

          and what was that?

        • MR

          Do you believe that Caesar transcended humanity and was a god worthy of worship?

        • Mat Rooker

          Was there a god greater than him or is he only over humanity? Is he the greatest conceivable being or just one of many gods….trite

        • MR

          See, you don’t want to take it one step at a time. It’s a simple question. What likelihood would you give to his being a God?

        • Pofarmer

          Jimminy Christmas. Something tells me we’ve got another one from non-thinking Christian.

        • MR

          I dunno, this one might actually be thinking since he’s so reluctant to answer my simple questions. I can’t imagine any of you guys having such a difficult time answering my questions. But, maybe, just maybe, he’s beginning to see the flaw in his argument. The big question is whether he will be honest about it, or take the typical apologist weasel route.

        • Susan

          Is he the greatest conceivable being or just one of many gods….

          What do you mean by greatest?

          Conceivable by whom?

          Define ‘gods’.

        • MNb

          Ask the Roman Senate who deified the first JC some 7 decades before the second JC claimed to be the son of a god. Do you accept this declaration of the Roman Senate? It’s a simple yes or no question.
          The fact that you refuse to answer it makes your intellectual integrity look bad.

        • MNb

          “I really don’t see Jesus in that self-delusion category.”
          Irrelevant for what I wrote. I wrote that CSL’s trilemma is a false one because he (and apologists after him) doesn’t consider this option. The proper method is first to exhaust all possible options and only then thoroughly research them. Rejecting either Legend or self-delusion (or both) implies admitting that CSL’s is a false trilemma.

        • Mat Rooker

          Not really its taking it to its original reason why it was brought to only a trilemma…it seems you are the one intent to expand it out again to other possibilities which have been ruled out by someone with perhaps a sharper intellect than ours? Have you considered that possibility?

        • MNb

          “its original reason why it was brought to only a trilemma”
          Nope. As soon as you provide a reason (original or not) why you reject a fourth or fifth option you implicitely admit it’s not a trilemma anymore and confirm that the Trilemma is false.

        • Mat Rooker

          I provided a reason for self delusion (its liar or lunatic your reason is ‘not necessarily’- thats a reason?)…CSL has also addressed it but you reject the argument as shallow….maybe the depth he went to was to help those who struggle with such concepts…thats the great thing about his writing…but I supposed he is not here to defend himself or go into more depth for you unfortunately 🙁

        • MR

          thats the great thing about his writing

          Dude, Lewis’ entire argument is baseless because he’s presupposing that Jesus a) existed and b) said the things attributed to him. Jesus left no writing, unlike (possibly, as you pointed out) Caesar. Lewis’ entire argument is intellectually dishonest unless he knows for a fact that Jesus said those things. Otherwise he’s working solely on hearsay from documents that, at best, were written decades after the fact, of which we only have copies written hundreds of years after the fact.

        • Mat Rooker

          I think your presuposing because Jesus never wrote anything, that CSL argument is dishonest…thats not what we base historical events on…and the NT has the best documental evidence of any ancient document….and you discount a lot of other evidences which would take to long to go into here

        • Kodie

          Too much evidence that might convince people but nah. Not enough time for that.

        • Mat Rooker

          Well let me ask you this…if Christianity was accurate and correct would you become a Christian?

        • Kodie

          Let me tell you, first, you’re not the first Christian to talk. If you have Christian accuracy in hand, why isn’t everyone a Christian? There might be something wrong with your arguments that you’re not willing to see – first of all, that “legend” is a possibility. If another religion has an accurate story that you’re not just going to presuppose is one of their cultural legends, will you convert? Let us know how that goes.

        • Mat Rooker

          I had already explained that legend was ruled out….based on CSL his credentials and his prior unbelief and subsequent conversion and that was good reason to disregard the re-adding of legend

        • Kodie

          Conversion is not a good reason to believe someone else – how do you know he wasn’t fooled? His “credentials” as some kind of scholar, you will just believe anyone who is called professor, you don’t need to personally check his arguments for the bullshit?

          And that’s no reason for me to believe anything you’re saying either. You get your reasons from terrible arguments, and don’t need to think. I’m so sure you know what you’re talking about, as if!

        • MNb

          You explained but you were and remain wrong. CSL first wrote Mere Christianity, in which he formulated his (false) trilemma. Only later (and it was only published 7 years after his death in the book God in the Dock) he tried to address the option Legend. Of course his credentials, prior unbelief and subsequent conversion are not a good reason at all to omit the option Legend, let alone self-delusion.

        • MNb

          As for me: yes. I even can tell you my standard.
          Now you. If an atheist could show you that christianity isn’t accurate would you deconvert? And what is your standard? Do you for instance accept ad hoc arguments and post hoc explanations?

        • MR

          It is dishonest. Lewis is presupposing Jesus said those things. Let’s not hand wave over the fact that these are based on the conditions of IF Jesus existed, and IF the words said about him were true.

          You feel fairly confident that Caesar existed, do you feel as confident that he was a god? Forget texts, we have evidence of actual shrines dedicated to him starting from two years after his death. Are you convinced he is a god?

          If I wrote nothing about my life and were to die, and a few years later people told you that I claimed to be a shapeshifter, are the only options for you to consider that:

          a) I was lying
          b) I was crazy
          c) I was actually a shapeshifter

        • MNb

          The trilemma is not false because of any historical research. It’s false because it neglects two other options without any justification. Trying to weasle around this doesn’t change anything.
          Mind you, unlike MR I’m willing to accept that Jesus said those things. That doesn’t by any means rule out the options Legend and self-delusion.
          Example: a Dutchman tells you the urban legend of the sandwich with monkey meat.

          https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broodjeaapverhaal

          The Dutchman can totally believe it (actually a few did in the 70’s), so he/she is not a liar. The Dutchman is mentally healthy, so is not a lunatic. That doesn’t mean the urban legend is true. There are other options. Hence it’s a false trilemma. The same for CSL’s version.

        • MNb

          CSL has not adressed the option Legend in Mere Christianity. When apologists present CSL’s trilemma they always omit that option. Hence it’s a false trilemma, albeit one that CSL later tried to repair.
          CLS never addressed the option self-delusion. Neither do apologists. So it remains a false quatrolemma.
          The fact that it took CSL so long to even ask himself if he had exhausted all possible options shows that his thinking was shallow.

        • Kodie

          CSL exposed how dull and dishonest his intellect was in composing the trilemma. The fact that “legend” is a category that deserves some treatment, he decides to avert it and attack something easy to handle.

        • Kodie

          For example, let’s say you were totally convinced of the cause as a young Nazi recruit. You’re appointed to deliver Jews to their concentration camps, and you meet another young Nazi on a transport who shouldn’t have mentioned but is a little on the fence. Rather than turn him in as a traitor because he could turn on you and Hitler, you use your Nazi passion to commit him to the cause also, and by the end of the trip you are the closest of Nazi friends. These Nazis were not lying, just like Christians don’t think they are lying when they repeat arguments that are not true.

        • Mat Rooker

          Well thats an issue of morality…and if it is a moral dilemma, what basis would you argue that the Nazi’s did anything wrong? It always ends up here!!!

        • MNb

          It has precious little to do with morality. Point is that those nazis weren’t lying and still were convinced they were right. That’s what self-delusion means.

        • Mat Rooker

          so you never heard of proper gander? It always been marvellously used within the art of war…which is built on deception

        • MNb

          Historians largely agree that the support Germans gave to Hitler was not build on propaganda alone.

        • Kodie

          It’s built on the best way to motivate people to join up. The leader may be honest or dishonest, but is self-deluded to believe his cause is righteous. He just needs manpower, so how to appeal to humans to join up? That is a little bit of deceit but not because the cause is not believed to be righteous. I don’t know why this isn’t obvious, you think you are never fooled? You think you are never bought with propaganda? You think you are not here right now because someone somewhere appealed to you to join their cause through deceit and now you think you are righteous?

          You’re a pawn.

        • Mat Rooker

          Really and who’s side have you signed up for? You including yourself in this equation…you think that your not fooled? wow theres no greater delusion then pride

        • Kodie

          I’m not signed up for any side. I don’t believe there is credible evidence for any gods, and you are a fool if you believe there is. Why does the evidence you’re given do such a job on you?

        • Mat Rooker

          So its your belief that holds you back…”I’m not signed up for any side. I don’t believe there is credible evidence for any gods” Its amazing you claim to be neutral but your not. lol

        • Kodie

          You don’t have the time to use whatever amazing new evidence you have to convince us. So stop complaining.

        • Mat Rooker

          What evidence do require? Also can you affirm that your judgement of any evidence that you require is without presupposition and biased?

        • Kodie

          Can you affirm that what you call ‘evidence’ isn’t your bias toward what you prefer to be true? You came here to hassle Bob for pulling “legend” due to his own presuppositions toward naturalism, but if you were honest, you would have to consider the concept your religious beliefs are based on are preposterous, and you wouldn’t be thorough or honest if you don’t at least address the possibility of it being a legend. You look at all religions like this or just yours gets a pass?

        • Mat Rooker

          It seems to me you think yourself a bit of an authority on what constitutes self delusion….could you be self deluded now?

        • MNb

          Sure. I’m still neither liar, lunatic or lord. Thanks for confirming that the Trilemma is false.

        • Mat Rooker

          but you could be self deluded about your false trilemma though?

        • MNb

          If I’m deluded about CSL’s false trilemma (the fact that you call it mine indicates you are the one who deludes himself) it’s still a false trilemma, because I’m still neither liar, lunatic or lord. So your argument is self refuting.
          If you want to dispute this you must point out the error in this logic. Asking random questions is not nearly enough.

        • Mat Rooker

          And so skip to the nuremberg trials… where the nazi argued that they had done nothing wrong….what standard are you holding them too?

        • Kodie

          You mean the one where they thought “just following orders” was a decent excuse?

        • Mat Rooker

          sure…

        • MNb

          Irrelevant for my point: that many Germans deluded themselves around 1939 by trusting Hitler.

        • Kodie

          The issue is not that difficult. You are having a problem understanding self-delusion. You are having a problem understanding that people can be convinced to do things they would otherwise not do or would think to be drastic and heinous. Read this article about KKK recruitment and recovery: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/hatred/

        • MR

          Another good example, Kodie.

        • Mat Rooker

          To be convinced to do something is not self delusion…it means you have been deceived.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you think the difference is. Deceit cannot happen without the victim’s participation. If you want to love white people and feel morally superior to others, the KKK is the organization for you, despite whatever else it entails.

        • Mat Rooker

          Is there a difference between intellectual superiority and moral superiority?

        • Kodie

          What are you drinking?

        • Mat Rooker

          Is there a difference? what is better for you to feel morally superior or intellectually superior?

        • Kodie

          Moral superiority is kind of a poison. Did you read the article? If you feel morally superior to any certain class of people, the things you can be manipulated to do to them, because they deserve it and are wicked to the core, compared to you.

        • Greg G.

          It is just a matter of who does the deceiving. I was the best chess player in a small high school. I was pretty good while I was in the military and in the dorm at college. I thought I was pretty good at chess. Then I entered a chess tournament and found out just how good real chess players were. It was self-delusion that made me think I was good at chess.

          It was the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

        • Kodie

          Billions of religious people you’re calling unhealthy – you said it, not me.

        • Mat Rooker

          So whats the alternative on an naturalistic or atheistic worldview….non religious leaders who have been responsible for some of the most bloodiest atrocities, and those who follow them….would you have to conclude that the only healthy mindset is one that fits in with the status quo?

        • MNb

          “non religious leaders who have been responsible for some of the most bloodiest atrocities, and those who follow them”
          Thanks for confirming that people are capable of deluding themselves. That includes religious folks.

        • Kodie

          You’re fooled all the time – I was just at the store and saw red and yellow peppers were $1.00 each and green peppers were still $1.49 per pound. Everyone doesn’t watch out for everything all the time. The other day I checked my receipt and noted I was charged $1.49 more than the shelf tag specified on another item, and walked back into the store to complain. I thought I was due the difference I had already paid, but the clerk was counting out a full refund, to which I spoke up that he’d done his math wrong and giving me back too much. 99% of the time, I don’t even look at the receipt.

          I don’t know why you think atheism is itself responsible for bloody atrocities. Religion gets you to think everything that’s true isn’t true, and what isn’t true is, and then you behave from wrong. It’s so easy to be fooled and so easy to be convinced you’re correct and everyone else is wrong, and so easy to put your faith in the wrong sources and authorities, and be perfectly healthy in the mind. Humans aren’t machines, we are fallible, malleable, and eager to go along with the crowd. If someone says Jesus rose from the dead, how far are you willing to go to say that sounds really ridiculous? Because it does. There is no evidence of that happening.

    • Kodie

      Do you accept him as lord because you really really really really really want this ridiculously mythical story to be factually true? What about ‘rising from the dead ok yeah that happened’ doesn’t sound like a legend to you? How can you dismiss Jesus as legend if you are (presumably) quick to label other religious figures legends their followers are just “confused” about?

      • Mat Rooker

        You would have to look at all of them…but I wasn’t just referring to religious figures…also regardless of how much I ‘really’ want any legend or historical record to be true, has no bearing on whether it is true or not

        • MNb

          It has 100% bearing on what you think is true or not. And how are we going to tell the difference?
          See what I mean underneath? If you want to show that supernatural stuff about Jesus is true you are the one who has some explanation to do.

        • Mat Rooker

          How does my ‘really’ believing something to be true have any bearing whether what i believe is true? Your talking about blind faith…not faith based on what we do know

        • MNb

          Like I wrote – you have to do some explanation, in this case about how you can know anything about the supernatural stuff regarding Jesus.

        • Kodie

          The way you posed the question to Bob also applies to you. What other propositions do you deny plausibility because they oppose naturalism or your preferred example of supernaturalism? You don’t have to look at all of them. Did you look at all of them before you decided on a coin flip that they were not true?

    • MR

      Hi, Mat, you probably haven’t had time to review all that Bob has said on the matter, but Bob doesn’t argue necessarily that Jesus as a person was a legend, though, I believe he leaves that as a possibility, but, principally that the miraculous claims attributed to Jesus, the stories surrounding him, etc., are likely legend.

    • jimlefferts

      Do you not have your own presupposition? Upon what research is it based?

    • I go where the evidence leads. But if you think I’m applying criteria with an agenda, show me. Show that my criteria oblige me to say that Julius Caesar (or whoever) from history must be legend.

  • Mat Rooker

    Well its 6:25am so Im out for now 🙂 Peace

    • 90Lew90

      Off to work?

    • MR

      You seem to have bailed on us, Mat. I’m still very interested in hearing your answers to some of the questions I posed, like what it would take for you to believe in some supernatural thing that you don’t currently believe in, and to what degree you believe in the possibility that Caesar was a deity. Have you awakened from your slumber?

  • MNb

    Our two apologists SteveK and MatR at least implicitely recognized that the options Legend and Self-delusion have to be investigated. So let’s investigate the five options.

    1. Lunatic: no, given time, place and culture. There were lots of messias claimants and claiming you’re the son of god was very possible as well. To the standards of that time etc. you didn’t need to be a lunatic to make that claim. Of course if we’re going to use the standards of our time Jesus totally was.
    2. Liar: no. It’s totally possible that Jesus believed sincerely what he said.
    3. Legend: yes, at least partly. The infanticide as described by Mattheus is a legend beyond reasonable doubt.
    4. Self-delusion: yes. People delude themselves (or get deluded for that matter; it’s also possible, though there is no evidence, that Jesus got talked into his messias schtick) all the time.

    Note that points 3 and 4 are not mutually exclusive. That alone refutes CSL’s trilemma as an argument for the christian god. So option 5 does not necessarily follow and the unbiased bystander doesn’t need to accept it. Of course there are reasons to reject option 5 immediately, but at the moment that would distract.

    Like I already suggested the trilemma can be saved on the assumption that the NT is accurate. However that assumption is based on another assumption: that the NT is god’s word. The argument becomes “god inspired the NT hence it must be true; hence the options Liar and Lunatic must be rejected; hence Jesus was Lord.”

    That’s a circular argument still totally unacceptable to that bystander. In other words: the common attempt to save the trilemma makes it worthless as an apologetic argument.

  • crazypreacher52

    C. S. Lewis is much easier to dispute with, now that he’s dead. I’d have loved to have had you face to face with him and you could say all these things to him, and we could hear his replies
    ! 🙂

    • Yes, I would’ve liked that. Most well-known apologists figure that sharing a stage to debate a lesser-known atheist like me is poor strategy.

      Lewis had his books to make his case. I doubt he could do it any better in person.

      If you know a Christian apologist who wants to engage in an online debate about some of the big questions of Christianity, let me know.

      • crazypreacher52

        There is little use in debating those who have already made up their minds in advance. Both views are faith based. If you’re ultimately right, you’ve lost your soul…If I’m wrong, we’re both food for the worms?

        • adam

          “Both views are faith based.”
          But only ONE is not based on the biblical definition of ‘faith’, that being – wishful thinking.

          “you’ve lost your soul…”

          What ‘soul’
          Where have YOU or anyone else demonstrated that it is anything but IMAGINARY?

        • crazypreacher52

          You’re a hoot, Adam! Why don’t you take up knitting, or something constructive? You’re like a parasite, feeding off of that which you don’t believe? Is that not strange?

        • adam

          And THIS is the VERY BEST your ‘faith’ prepares you for in demonstrating a soul?

          Is THAT not strange?

          “Both views are faith based.”
          But only ONE is not based on the biblical definition of ‘faith’, that being – wishful thinking.

          “you’ve lost your soul…”

          What ‘soul’
          Where have YOU or anyone else demonstrated that it is anything but IMAGINARY?

        • Greg G.

          “you’ve lost your soul…”

          That’s a nice soul you have there, adam, it’d be a shame if something was to happen to it.

          It looks just like God.

        • adam

          You mean like Mafia blackmail…

        • Greg G.

          I would have said “Exactly” but I just saw the Ernie Chambers meme you posted that compares the Catholic church with the Mafia.

        • “that which you don’t believe”? Some nonexistent things don’t matter much in modern society–fairies, for example. God belief is quite another story. Christians are the bull in the china shop, which is why those who don’t accept their beliefs can’t simply ignore them.

        • MNb

          I haven’t made up my mind in advance. As a child I sung in a church choir and learned the Lord’s Prayer by heart. When I was 13 or 14 and confronted with the god question the first time I started out as an agnost.
          Any apologist is welcome to show which step from agnosticism to hardcore atheism was wrong. I have changed my answer to the god question at least twice last decades, so it might happen again. None of my steps were faith based though.

        • crazypreacher52

          Quite interesting revelations on your part! Perhaps, I have misjudged you? I am a Bible believing, evangelical Christian & Pastor….both, because of the proof of God’s power to change my life for the better in 1971, and by the evidence of my own rational inquiry. What question would you like to raise first?

        • adam

          Let’s go with your own ‘rational inquiry’ that should be interesting…

        • crazypreacher52

          Too big a topic. You raise a specific “God question”, and I will give you and your millions of readers my answer?

        • Give us the intellectual reasons for why you are a Christian. (Or do you have none?)

          Or, give us reasons why we should adopt your faith.

        • crazypreacher52

          Your adversarial tone is a real turn off…..and so that’s what I’ll do….just turn you OFF!

        • It’s your call. Seems like an odd response, though. You’ve got a captive audience of sinners. Don’t pastors like pulpits? Don’t you want to give us a brief but compelling reason to accept the existence of your God?

        • adam

          And your tone is a turn off as well.

        • MNb

          Uh oh ….. long toes. That isn’t promising. Good chance that I will step on them as well as we reenact my spiritual journey.

        • Kodie

          If you didn’t want to be asked, you shouldn’t have opened your mouth!

        • MR

          Nice weasel!

        • Kodie

          Come on, I think it’s mighty considerate to realize he’s going to get his ass kicked and decide not to waste our time with his horseshit.

        • adam

          “because of the proof of God’s power to change my life for the better in 1971, and by the evidence of my own rational inquiry. What question would you like to raise first?”

          This is your ‘proof’, I want to see this proof from your ‘own rational inquiry’.

          Your personal testimony is meaningless to me.

        • Kodie

          How do you pretend to know god?

        • MNb

          OK, let’s begin with where I began more than four decades ago, when I was 9 or 10 – before I even became aware of the god question – and precede from there.

          “I am a Bible believing …..”
          Does that mean that according to you you and I are far nephews via Adam and Eve?

          Now let’s jump to almost four decades ago.
          Do you accept the atonement doctrine?

          Next question:
          “the proof of God’s power to change my life”
          What do you mean with proof? See, as a teen I called myself an agnost because “you can’t prove or disprove god”.

        • Good ol’ Pascal’s Wager. If you really don’t see how that doesn’t help, I can explain.

          As for faith, no I don’t have faith (as in “belief not grounded in evidence”).

          So you imagine that I’m the closed minded one? I’m happy to examine new evidence and arguments. I’ve been doing that for years; unfortunately, it all sucks. You have something better? Show me.

        • Dick Wheeler

          What do you call faith? Christians have faith in an unseen god. It can’t be verified by science. No proof.

          Another “faith” is what Mendeleev had after he constructed the periodic table for elements in which he left gaps. He had hard science showing him many elements but there were gaps. He used the orderliness of the elements to conclude that the other elements, like what would be named, Germanium and Gallium, would fit the gaps. Scientific work after he died proved him right. Scientists did the same with the sub-atomic particles, especially the Higgs Boson. Science predicted its future discovery. Let’s call this confidence based on science pointing in a clear direction. Or call it what ever you want.

          Another “faith” or confidence is in a historical event like, “I know that we landed on the moon because of moon rocks, movies, testimony of astronauts who are still alive today, etc. of which the people and direct evidence (moon rocks) I have not seen personally. I trust the experts (the astronauts and moon rocks geologists guys) and know the historical record is trustworthy. Call this historical evidence. This type of evidence doesn’t need to repeat itself to be true. What I mean is, You don’t need to repeat the life of Abraham Lincoln to know he lived once long ago.

          Then there is one more type of “Faith.” and that is where science and history do not offer any help. I call this the “history” of our existence before “science” started. Call it the second before the big bang. Where did the matter that later became the universe come from? God? No that can’t be. Before there was something there was nothing and I really mean nothing. Was there space? Well if there was and I could travel back to that existence, could I measure a meter of space? If I could then I would be somewhere. I would be next to that meter of space, I just measured. Space has dimensions. Three, no four dimensions. Maybe five, but we haven’t proved that. So has space always existed before time? If there was no space where did space come from to hold all the matter that would come from . . . . somewhere. Einstein said time and space are relative and are dependent on each other. So no space, since no time. But wait if there was no time how could the second before the big bang exist? I’m confused. Does science know? I have never heard of any proof based on the scientific method of time or space before the big bang. There are only theories. How can any of these theories hold any weight because they, I am guessing, will require the use of time and/or space to explain them. Or was there a time (opps) I mean an existence when time and space didn’t exist. Ok ifthat is true were did time and space come from, I mean in a spacial sort of way, WHERE did time and space dome from. If there was time and space all the time, where was it? Was or is there an end to space? If there is an end to space what is on the other side? If there is no end where did it all come from. Wow. Unlike the hard science that Mendeleev and the Higgs Boson guys had to help point them to a sure thing, the scientific community doesn’t have a clue do they? I mean a hard science, prove it, kind of clue.
          If this doesn’t fry your brain, try this next one. When we knew about atoms, we didn’t know about protons, electrons and neutrons. Then we went sub atomic and found all the real little stuff. So have we found the smallest particles or are they made up of more? When will we know we found it all? Will science someday in 4000 years be able to say we found the smallest particle. We don’t have any proof of that.
          Will science really answer all our questions?
          How do you scientifically explain the idea of, “Amazing”

        • Christians have faith in an unseen god. It can’t be verified by science. No proof.

          Not only does it not have proof (which I don’t ask for), it doesn’t have evidence (which I do).

          Another “faith” is what Mendeleev had after he constructed the periodic table for elements in which he left gaps.

          Let’s call that “trust.”

          Let’s call this confidence based on science pointing in a clear direction. Or call it whatever you want.

          Trust.

          Will science really answer all our questions?

          Maybe. Maybe not. What does it matter? You got anything better?

        • Dick Wheeler

          You didn’t respond to my statement on history. What is our connection to history.

          Faith No proof no evidence?
          or
          Trust as in Mendeleev’s Table
          or
          Something else?

          History is vital to how we live even though it is separate from science. We use history in a huge amount of our decisions on a daily basis. In who we marry or not. In where we work. Who we vote for or not. Why I bought a Chevy. Why I trust religion or not (because it has failed us in the past.) Why I trust science (because “in the past 2 centuries” it has shown itself to build us a better life.)
          “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

          Also in you last statement are you saying that science is all we got so let’s go with that no matter how incomplete it might be.

          How do you connect with the non-scientific and non-historic like
          honor
          respect
          love
          or are these things biochemical?

          Just asking these things to understand your point of view. There are many different brands of atheism just like there are many different brands of theism. I would like to respond after I understand you response to the above.

        • adam

          “Faith No proof no evidence?”

        • are you saying that science is all we got so let’s go with that no matter how incomplete it might be.

          I’ll quote myself: “You got anything better?”

          I have no idea what honor, etc. have to do with the conversation. Are you saying that they point to the supernatural? I would disagree.

          All “brands of atheism” say, “There is no god” or “I have no god belief” or something similar.

        • adam

          “What do you call faith?”

          If you are going to talk about biblical faith, then use the definition given by the bible:

          Wishful thinking.

          “Another “faith” is what Mendeleev”

          AGAIN, not biblical faith when evidence is apparent.

  • crazypreacher52

    If Christianity is simply a man made dogma designed to control people, and get their money, with no real substance, then it indeed is worthless. However, millions of credible people over thousands of years, have attested to personally experiencing the eternal God in very positive, life changing ways. Facts about God will only take one so far, then, you must step out on faith, then the answer comes-the proof, is in the reality of personally experiencing
    God for one’s self.

    • Pofarmer

      You do realize that Muslims, Hindu’s, Scientologists, Mormons and many others all make the same claim, correct?

      • crazypreacher52

        Of course, you are correct in your assertion. I have no verifiable way of convincing others that I am right and the others wrong. I can only say, that for me, the issue is not simply about winning an argument, or convincing everyone to my view, but rather, it’s about finding that divine connection, and then compassionately sharing with others, what you have discovered, and where you found it.

        • MNb

          “it’s about finding that divine connection”
          You already assume there is something to find.

        • Kodie

          And you think you’re credible? Seriously, finding religion is like finding a diet. You found the best one ever and you can’t stop boring people they have to try it, it’s the only one that works! You’re really just a fanatic.

        • That you look like you came from the same bin as people of other beliefs which you reject, it seems that you should have little confidence that your conclusion is any different from the wrong conclusions of all those other people.

    • MNb

      How do you know those people are credible in that respect? Why wouldn’t people like me, who never had such experiences, be more credible?
      Btw a few days ago I accepted your invitation to ask a few questions. Have you already given up?

    • They use faith? To conclude that the most fantastic claim possible (the universe was made by an intelligent creator, for which there’s no obvious evidence), we use faith? What kind of confidence can you have in your conclusion?

      • Steve Smith

        They use faith to follow the teachings of Christ. By doing so one can find that loving those around you is the true key to lasting happiness and joy. Christians conclude through experience that the more we follow Christ the greater capacity we have to love those around us; our joy is then increased. Christian faith actually has little to do with how the universe was formed.

        I do have a question. Is it more difficult to believe in an intelligent creator than it is to believe that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin (see big bang theory)?

        • Kodie

          Jesus Christ has nothing to do with the positive effects of following certain concepts that he allegedly taught. Christians mistakenly conflate whatever emotional transformation they may or may not have experienced with the interference of a supernatural deity and not on the psychology and sociology of the human animal. They become wrapped up in superstitious thinking because their skepticism is suppressed by the parlor trick and become pawns of their church [edited to add] and their Christianity becomes more about group acceptance than being a good person to others [end of edit]. Christians also try to appeal to rational thought by being incredulous about how the universe formed and starting long tangents about it.

        • Steve Smith

          You can substitute any other group for ‘Christians’ in your post and I think it would be equally true as you describe characteristics of human beings in general. Christians do suffer from the same flaws that are typical for all human beings. But can you fulfill a rational thinker’s needs to show that Christians suffer from the flaws you mention at a greater rate than other populations? I do agree that Christians appeal to rational thought.

        • Kodie

          I said they TRY. I don’t know what the rest of what you’re talking about is.

        • If Christianity to you is all about improving your love of your fellow man, then that’s a nice definition. Teach it to your fellow “Christians.”

          To your question: yes, it is much easier to accept the scientific consensus–that is, accept what has evidence–than to accept the claims that are pretty clearly just Bronze Age mythology and legend.

        • Steve Smith

          Of course, that is why we go to church. It helps when we frequently remind each other of the commandment to love one another. It gives us strength to apply mercy more than vengeance. This is well illustrated in the novel Les Miserables.

          Ok. How about this consesus: Eisenstein, Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Volta, Pascal, Kelper, Kelvin, Pasteur, Born, Heisenberg and every other scientist that made discoveries that all modern science is based on. All were Judaeo/Christian. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christians_in_science_and_technology if you need more.

          True, it is easier to accept that which has evidence. Are you saying that Christ’s teachings to love one another and be merciful rather that vengeful has no evidence of positive outcomes for individuals and societies?

          So what is your evidence that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin?

        • Greg G.

          Who is Eisenstein in your list? He isn’t on the Wikipedia page.

          There is no reason a Christian cannot do good science unless he or she lets religion have the final say.

          So what is your evidence that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin?

          Nobody knows that is true. The evidence shows that superclusters of galaxies are moving away from each other and accelerating. Nothing can exceed the speed of light through space but space itself can. So they will continue to accelerate away from one another until they are traveling away faster than light so they will be more red-shifted until they are no longer be visible.

          But working backwards implies a dense energetic universe made of other phases of matter and energy. But at some point, quantum mechanics take over.

          The world is an oblate spheroid so the person who says the world is a sphere is wrong but not as wrong as the person who says the world is a circle (“It is he who sits above the circle of the earth…” –Isaiah 40:22). Who are we to believe: people who cannot reconcile Relativity and Quantum Mechanics or people who didn’t know where the sun went at night?

        • Steve Smith

          My point is that if you believe a “dense energetic universe made of other phases of matter and energy” that we have never seen might exist then why can’t one believe that a Intelligent Creator who one has also never seen might exist as well?

        • Greg G.

          Why assume the creator is intelligent? People have been attributing intelligence to all kinds of observable phenomena for thousands of years. We can predict weather without reading the mind of an intelligent weather creator. Earthquakes are better explained by tectonic plates colliding and shifting that an angry hidden deity. The germ-theory of disease has been more successful than the demon-theory of disease.

          You have an explanation that hasn’t panned out for thousands of years but you are still looking for something to explain with it.

        • Steve Smith

          You need to get out and meet some Christians as you appear to be in a deep state of ignorance about what they believe. It’s like you have not talked to a Christian since the 14th century. I know a lot Christians and none of them believe as you claim, that angry Gods and Demons cause catastrophes.

          The building blocks of life, RNA, DNA etc. cannot be synthesized from raw materials by the greatest scientists we have. Not even close. It has been shown that the complexity is such that it would be statistically impossible for a strand of RNA to form by random processes, that is it would take more time than the age of the universe to randomly form a RNA strand. Whatever formed RNA, it was a whole lot smarter than we are.

        • Greg G.

          I think you should talk to more Christians outside your bubble. I converse with “Six Day Creationists” to the “God is the ground state of being” Christians. I was just thinking about a guy who argued for Noah’s Flood and said that the Ark had a moon pool in the bottom so they could empty the animal feces and nobody could convince him that it would cause everything to suffocate because the Ark would have to be air-tight to keep the moon pool from being a big hole in the boat.

          Why would you think the only alternative is that RNA formed by completely random processes? How do you know that there are not so many possible strands of RNA that could have worked to start it off that it is statistically impossible for at least one to not form somewhere if there were hundreds of possible sites on every grain of sand in every pool of water at varying temperatures flooding and drying with the tides, concentrating and diluting in streams during rain and sun for millions of years. There are billions of galaxies with billions of stars and billions of planets in each.

        • You need to get out and meet some Christians as you appear to be in a deep state of ignorance about what they believe. It’s like you have not talked to a Christian since the 14th century. I know a lot Christians and none of them believe as you claim, that angry Gods and Demons cause catastrophes.

          Christianity is a really big tent. It’s hard to imagine not being able to find a Christian with just about any belief.

          If you’re saying that the handful of Christians you hang out with don’t believe that one of Satan’s little wizards is (metaphorically) hiding behind every shrub and tornado and tectonic plate, I’ll believe that. But there are lots of Christians who do.

          The building blocks of life, RNA, DNA etc. cannot be synthesized from raw materials by the greatest scientists we have.

          Now you’re saying “Science has no answer for abiogenesis; therefore, God?” You need to work on that one.

        • Kodie

          I find it really weird that only atheists think so many wrong Christians is a problem. I mean, I’m not trying to start a religious war, but religious people seem to think they’re the ones that got it right, and every other kind of Christian is in the margins and really kind of ignore them. I mean, of course they’re silly, but why bother thinking about them! Huh? You don’t believe that immature nonsense, and neither do they, except when they sound so similar and ignorant. The “we’re not all like that”, but why are so many people like that? How come so many people who call themselves Christian become utterly convinced that they are saved via whatever means they were convinced?

          I find this to be the most interesting. Yeah, there is the 45,000 denominations of Christianity alone. The “you’re an atheist for every other religion except yours, I go one more” idea. Christians can’t fucking explain the mechanism by which so many people were convinced of a religion that’s not theirs. They never face that.

        • Just “Isn’t it marvelous that I was born into the right religion?” isn’t enough. It’s compounded by “Isn’t it marvelous that I also was born into the right denomination?”

          The obvious conclusion isn’t obvious.

        • Kodie

          You sound so sure of yourself for someone who was fooled because he didn’t understand anything about statistics or understand actually how old the universe is.

        • I could quibble with some names on your list, but for someone like Newton, of course he was Christian. (1) He was living in an almost-universal Christian environment. (2) Being (the right kind of) Christian was a requirement for his position in Cambridge. In fact, he wasn’t the right kind of Christian and had to get the king to issue a waiver so that he didn’t have to take holy orders. That’s right–Cambridge professors had to be clergy as well.

          That Newton was a Christian is historical trivia. Have Newton be 30 years old today and then ask him if he’s a Christian. Anyway, “Newton was a Christian” says zero about Christianity being true.

          So what is your evidence that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin?

          I accept the scientific consensus. You imagine that you’ve got the education and the smarts to tell Science where they’ve got it wrong? You can do that on your own. I have no interest in that project.

        • Steve Smith

          “Newton was a Christian” says that a man way smarter than you or I, along with all the other great revolutionary scientists of modern times whose greatness was born out by an ability to question current flawed “scientific consensus” believed in God. Do you really think you have a greater capacity for rational thinking than these guys?

        • Greg G.

          Newton wouldn’t be mentioned except that he did good science. He might be nothing but a footnote in the Bible without that. Did you know that Newton was a Unitarian and rejected Trinitarianism? His biggest contribution to Christianity was proving that the text “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” of 1 John 5:7 was not in the early Greek manuscripts.

        • You’ve missed the issue.

          The intelligence of these great scientists from long ago isn’t the issue. It’s the environment we live in. My environment is far different from Newton’s–we now know that science answers questions. Religion hasn’t taught us a single new thing about objective reality. Our modern environment would also be a lot more welcoming to someone who wonders if the nutty claims within Christianity really are worth someone’s faith. Remember that faith is inversely proportional to academic and scientific achievement–7% of a survey of members of the National Academy of Sciences are theists, for example.

          And keep in mind (as I noted before) that Newton was a nonconformist within Christianity. You can bet that he’d be an atheist today.

        • Kodie

          Why aren’t you a Christian?

        • epeeist

          So what is your evidence that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin?

          The ΛCDM version of the Big Bang theory has a substantial amount of evidence including the CMBR and its polarisation as well as the existence of baryon acoustic oscillation, element nucleosynthesis and isotopic distribution, red shift/distance measures, galaxy formation.

          What have you got the counters all of this, apart from personal incredulity of course?

          EDIT: Typo

        • Kodie

          What is your evidence that an invisible person is managing the earth like his own personal dollhouse?

        • Steve Smith

          I do not believe God is invisible. He just resides outside of this world. But if you seek for him with honest heart he will reveal himself to you. He does manage the earth and similar to many little girls and their precious dollhouses does so with much affection.

          Evidence is in the extreme complexity at all levels of life. Extreme complexities, such as RNA or proteins that cannot be explained by Darwinism. The extreme complexity of the ecosystem on earth that just happens to provide conditions needed for life. No other planet even comes close. How can such intertwined complexity appear out of random processes?

        • Kodie

          That’s not evidence, that’s assumption based on incredulity. Darwinism isn’t the same as evolution. It strikes me that you use the term “Darwinism” to mark yourself an ignorant pathetic gullible theist. I’m not as dumbfounded by the emergence of life as you are. It’s chemistry.

        • Steve Smith

          Ok, replace Darwinism with evolution and the statement is still true. Maybe you can help me in my ignorance and explain the difference between evolution an Darwinism. Also, I would like to know why you think I am pathetic. Is this what you think of all people with whom you disagree?

          A gullible person will believe a thing without explanation. It would be gullible of me to believe that RNA formed out of random chance when it has been shown that it is statistically impossible for it to do so unless one can give a reasonable theory of how that could have occurred. But you nor anybody else can provide a theory. I am actually being the opposite of gullible.

          You are likely not dumbfounded because you do not know that all chirality in the fundamental building blocks of life is right handed. The “chemistry” that we understand tells us that it is impossible to form such molecules under random conditions and we don’t know how to do it under the most controlled conditions. I understand this because I am a chemist. But, perhaps you are a smarter chemist than I am and can show me where I am ignorant.

        • Kodie

          Your incredulity is not an argument that it is “impossible.” If you’re actually a scientist, I don’t know why you’d prefer to use a lazy religious term like “Darwinism” even if biology is not your field.

        • Maybe you can help me in my ignorance and explain the difference between evolution an Darwinism.

          You’re the one who rejects the word that the grown-ups use. You do it.

          It would be gullible of me to believe that RNA formed out of random chance when it has been shown that it is statistically impossible for it to do so

          Why should anyone debate you on this point? It doesn’t matter to you. Abiogenesis and related puzzles are simply some of the many questions science has no answer to yet. When it’s resolved, you’ll just use a different question. Your argument devolves into, “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God,” which is no argument at all, particularly since science has told us much about how reality works and Christianity has told us nothing.

        • Michael Neville

          Your ignorance and incredulity aren’t arguments against evolution, they’re just evidence of your ignorance and incredulity. Color us completely unimpressed by ignorance and incredulity, which many of your fellow Christians have flaunted before us often times before.

          If you want to learn about the evidence for evolution then pick up a book like Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish or Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True. The website TalkOrigins [LINK] can answer many questions you may have about evolution. But coming to this particular blog, where none of us are biologists, and pretending you’re not gullible when you’ve obviously been drinking the creationist koolade is not the way to find out about evolution.

        • Steve Smith

          I have no argument against evolutionary principles. Evolutionary principles have done much to give us understanding of the world around us.

          But that which you call my ignorance is really the ignorance of all of humanity. No human, including Jerry Coyne or you, has ever presented a successful theory worthy of verification by scientific study of how the chemical building blocks of life came to be. It turns out that formation of such building blocks are statistically impossible under a random process.

          This leaves atheists with no explanation of how they came to be. For an atheist to maintain his belief in “no god” he has to have FAITH that science will uncover a process that appears to be impossible. The only other alternative is for the atheist to be ignorant of such facts.

        • Greg G.

          Are you sure? Here is an article on how the building blocks of RNA could have formed and it also has remarks from a scientist who thinks the RNA model is unnecessary.

          https://www.nature.com/news/building-blocks-for-rna-world-made-from-simple-ingredients-1.19901

          ETA to add the link

        • Michael Neville

          I see, you accept evolution but you don’t like abiogenesis. That’s where your ignorance and incredulity lead you. I apologize for thinking you were an ignorant, incredulous anti-evolutionist when you’re really an ignorant, incredulous creationist. Please forgive me for mislabeling the ignorance and incredulity that cause you to reject reality.

          Now that we’ve settled that, please explain how FAITH, or as normal people write it, faith, is required for me to say: “Due to the lack of evidence for gods, I do not believe they exist.” Please be specific.

          If you want me to accept that some magical sky pixie created life then you have to show evidence to support this fantasy. Poking holes in abiogenesis won’t work, I need positive evidence that your favorite magic sky pixie (a) exists and (b) created life. Or else I’ll think you’re just talking out of your ass.

        • I have no use for faith. Neither do scientists.

          What I have in science is trust. As for abiogenesis, that science will find a naturalistic answer is a good bet. A very good bet.

        • Phil

          “belief in “no god” he has to have FAITH” oh no, oh no! Not that old chestnut again. So tedious.

        • Phil

          Can you give a reasonable theory of how a god could have occurred?

        • Greg G.

          I do not believe God is invisible. He just resides outside of this world.

          Visibility requires photons to be emitted or reflected, then collected by a receiver like the retina of an eye or the film in a camera. A small range of the spectrum is visible to earth lifeforms and there are some stars that are so hot, most of their light is emitted at higher frequencies than can be seen but they are moving away from earth so fast the light is red-shifted to longer wave-lengths. What do you mean when you say you do not believe God is invisible? If he is outside the universe, he is not visible from here.

          Evidence is in the extreme complexity at all levels of life.

          Complexity is the hallmark of unguided natural processes, not an intelligent process. You have an explanation that has been shown to be wrong for everything it has tried to explain for thousands of years, but you are still looking for something it can explain.

        • Joe

          Extreme complexities, such as RNA or proteins that cannot be explained by Darwinism

          But can be explained by chemistry.

          Or by using a trope about a creator god that everyone is familiar with, but really isn’t justified.

        • It seems to me that God is no more evident than unicorns or any other fantastic being. Can you give us anything better?

        • Phil

          ” He does manage the earth and similar to many little girls and their precious dollhouses does so with much affection” How can you possibly know this?

        • epeeist

          Ok. How about this consesus: Eisenstein, Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Volta, Pascal, Kelper, Kelvin, Pasteur, Born, Heisenberg and every other
          scientist that made discoveries that all modern science is based on. All were Judaeo/Christian. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wi… if you need more.

          A number of these were from the time when it could be injurious to your health to not be Christian. Einstein was ethnically Jewish but said, “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.” (Source).

          And of course you are cherry picking, no mention of Dirac, Feyman, Weinberg, Higgs , Bohr and both Pierre and Marie Curie as contrary examples.

          Oh, and not forgetting Darwin who said, “I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the son of God.” (Source).

        • Steve Smith

          Remember, a consensus is not unanimity. The majority believe in a higher intelligence.

          Galileo was persecuted by the church for his scientific endeavors yet still remained faithful to a higher intelligence. Any explanations for that behavior?

        • Kodie

          Remember, you are just using consensus wrong, but that’s to be expected when you’re so ignorant.

          What explanations would you offer for that behavior? He still believed there was a god but not in the prescribed way of the government. Government shouldn’t try to demand certain beliefs or expressions of belief, that’s what it means.

        • Steve Smith

          Show me how I am using consensus wrong

        • Kodie

          Well, the scientific consensus is a knowledgeable bank of research and confirmation using the scientific method, not guess-so’s and guess-not’s of your religious assumptions. Your usage of consensus was to name a list of scientists who also happened to be theists, but that doesn’t mean they are creationist dummies like you either, and it’s just a list. The List of Steves numbers 1426 so far.

          https://ncse.com/list-of-steves

          That is 1426 scientists named Steve, which apparently doesn’t include you, who don’t deny evolution like a dummy. Although you claim to be a chemist, let’s pretend I accept your claim, but there’s no excuse for someone who is familiar with the scientific method to be so ignorant.

          https://ncse.com/project-steve

        • Steve Smith

          When have I denied evolution? For those who assume too much I will make the record clear. I accept principles of evolutionary biology. You now can add me to your long list of Steves. Does this change your assessment of my intellect?

          As you seem to be such an expert, perhaps you can apply the principles of evolution to the formation of RNA?

        • epeeist

          The majority believe in a higher intelligence.

          Do they? Followers of Yahweh don’t believe in your Christian god, neither do the Muslims or Hindus. Every religion in the world is in a minority. On top of that Christians can’t agree amongst themselves what the attributes of their god are, hence the tens of thousands of denominations.

          Galileo was persecuted by the church for his scientific endeavors yet still remained faithful to a higher intelligence.

          Fifteen years before Galileo wrote on heliocentricism Giodarno Bruno had been burnt at the stake for heresy. It wasn’t safe to pit yourself against the church.

          But if you want to play the numbers game then I am happy to do so. Only 7% of the American National Academy of Sciences believe in a personal god of any kind, here in the UK it is only 3% of the membership of the Royal Society that do so.

          If you look at the Pew Forum on science and religion you will note that scientists are far less likely to be believers than the general public

          You might also note that the majority of philosophers don’t believe in god.

        • Greg G.

          Remember, a consensus is not unanimity. The majority believe in a higher intelligence.

          The majority do not believe in your religion, therefore the consensus is that your religion is wrong. Does that mean you will change?

          The majority believe in the wrong religion, which tells us that most people are wrong about religion. They are wrong because they believe for poor reasons.

        • That’s your response? Your argument lies in tatters at your feet so instead of either defending it or admitting that it was wrong, you just change the subject?

          Maybe you could change the subject to baseball next time. I bet no one would notice.

        • Michael Neville

          Galileo was already excommunicated by the Church and the Inquisition was visiting him to ensure the provisions of his house arrest were not being violated. Do you honestly think he was going to do anything besides fervently announce his faith in God? If you think otherwise I have some nice oceanside property in Manitoba you might be interested in purchasing.

        • Steve Smith

          He could have said nothing about God instead of taking an intellectually dishonest course as you seem to convinced yourself. Here is why your logic fails. If he wanted to get out of trouble the path was clear to him and everybody else. It was to renounce his scientific beliefs, not alter his belief in God for which nobody had a problem with.

        • Michael Neville

          Do you think the Inquisition just breezed into Galileo’s home, offered a little small talk (How ya doin’? How’s Mrs. Galilei and all the little Galilei?) and then wandered off to the nearest tavern? We’re talking about a guy who barely escaped being burned at the stake after being convicted of heresy. Galileo had pissed off a lot of people, including Pope Urban VIII AND Cardinal Robert Bellamine (one of the judges who convicted Giordano Bruno and sentenced him to be burned at the stake), a strong defender of geocentricism. When the Inquisition visited Galileo they quite specifically asked him about his beliefs. His daughter’s book about him is quite specific about that.

          Your apology for calling me intellectually dishonest, while not expected, will be accepted.

        • Steve Smith

          It was not my intention to label you as intellectually dishonest. My intention was to say that if Galileo said he believed in God when he did not then he would have been intellectually dishonest. I then observed that you seemed convinced that Galileo had taken an intellectually dishonest route.

          My apologies for not being more clear as I did not want to infer that you are intellectually dishonest.

        • Greg G.

          Galileo may have been a business decision.

          Have you ever read about the methods of the Inquisition? The most sensitive parts of the body are far from vital organs so they could torture a persons for months, everyday and let them contemplate the next day’s treatment. They would crush a finger, day after day. They would sit the person on an A-frame and add weights to the feet until the coccyx snapped.

          Have you heard the saying “hold one’s feet to the fire”? They would lock their victim’s legs in place over a fire. They would slather lard on the feet to keep the nerve endings alive longer, then cook the feet to a crisp. They would also lock the feet in metal boots and pour boiling oil into them.

          When they cut out a person’s tongue, it wasn’t one slice. They used something like needle-nose pliers to nibble a snip at a time.

          They would have a person watch another torture such as putting the head in a vice with a cap on top and base for the chin, then slowly tighten it. It was painful at first, then the teeth would shatter. The eyes would pop out. Eventually the nasal cavities would collapse and allow the person to suffocate.

          There were many other tortures but I am afraid I will have enough nightmares from mentioning these.

          If a person told them what they wanted to hear, even if it was false, the person would still die but the torture would stop and the person would consider it a bargain.

        • The Lord moves in hideous ways.

        • Greg G.

          The Inquisition was never known for its appreciation of intellectual honesty.

        • Pofarmer

          I think you ignore the amount science and religion were entwined. Have you actually read the charges?

        • Joe

          . It helps when we frequently remind each other of the commandment to love one another.

          What about the commandment to sacrifice a firstborn?

          Ok. How about this consesus: Eisenstein, Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Volta, Pascal, Kelper, Kelvin, Pasteur, Born, Heisenberg and every other scientist that made discoveries that all modern science is based on. All were Judaeo/Christian.

          And unlike you, they were modest enough to know when to separate their religious beliefs from their actual work.

          Why did you leave Muslim scientists off that list?

        • Michael Neville

          Instead of talking to us about your Christian love, why aren’t you talking to your fellow Christians? Why aren’t you telling the evangelicals that their hatred (and that’s not hyperbole) of LGBTQs is not a “true key to lasting happiness and joy”, especially for the LGBTQs? Why aren’t you writing to Pope Francis, telling him that declaring transsexuals to be untermenschen does not show love? In short, don’t preach to us, preach Christian love to other Christians. God knows they won’t listen to us.

        • Phil

          So if you didn’t go to church you would forget to be nice and start applying vengeance? I find it is second nature and don’t need reminding. I feel sorry for you.

        • Kodie

          Isn’t it funny, they think we’re the weak-minded ones who just want to be our own god and behave like monsters. Religious people need more coaching.

        • Susan

          Is it more difficult to believe in an intelligent creator than it is to believe that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin

          No evidence for the first. Mountains of evidence for the second.

          Next?

        • Steve Smith

          Please enlighten me with evidence, preferably empirical, that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin. Since there are “mountains of evidence” this should be easy to do.

          Please show flaws in this logic: RNA was created from raw material without any intelligence. Humans do not have the intelligence to come up with a viable mechanism to create RNA from raw material. Therefor, humans are less intelligent than no intelligence.

        • Greg G.

          Please enlighten me with evidence, preferably empirical, that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin. Since there are “mountains of evidence” this should be easy to do.

          Any number of photons can occupy a given space. The shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy. So it is not illogical that any number of high energy photons could occupy a small space.

          Alan Guth’s theory that space and energy could come into being simultaneously. It has only grown stronger over the last four decades.

          Please show flaws in this logic: RNA was created from raw material without any intelligence. Humans do not have the intelligence to come up with a viable mechanism to create RNA from raw material. Therefor, humans are less intelligent than no intelligence.

          It’s a pile of non sequitur. Humans create RNA without intelligence all the time the same way a head of lettuce does. Fires can start without intelligence and for billions of years, no intelligence could start a fire. Now humans can.

        • epeeist

          Please enlighten me with evidence, preferably empirical, that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin.

          I have given you evidence for this in this post.

          Please show flaws in this logic

          No cat has eight tails; every cat has one more tail than no cat; therefore every cat has eight tails.

          Your first statement begs the question in that it uses the word “created” which implies a creator. You second statement assumes that because we so far have not come up with a mechanism for abiogenesis that we never weill. Your last statement is an equivocation of the type I used above.

          EDIT: Added context

        • Kodie

          I think every cat should have nine tails, which is one more tail than no cats have.

        • Joe

          RNA was created from raw material without any intelligence. Humans do not have the intelligence to come up with a viable mechanism to create RNA from raw material.Therefor, humans are less intelligent than no intelligence.

          The major flaws are in the second and third sentences. We have a mechanism, but physical constraints are currently standing in our way. The last statement is blatantly false.

        • Steve Smith

          What are these physical constraints and mechanisms? Please enlighten me as I am a chemist as I would be very much interested in building genetic material from scratch.

          The last statement is absurd but is a direct consequence of the first statement, making it absurd as well, unless you can show how the second statement is not true.

        • Joe

          The main physical constraint is that atoms are small and we are many times larger. We simply do not exist on that scale.

          I am also a chemist, btw. Yet I never used magic in my line of work.

        • Greg G.
        • Please enlighten me with evidence that you’re on firm ground when you say, “Yeah, I know that I’m neither a physicist or a biologist, but the current theories (about which I know very little) just really bug me, y’know, so I’m going to reject the consensus view of the people who actually understand the evidence. Which isn’t me.”

        • Steve Smith

          Who are you quoting?

        • I made that clear. It’s my paraphrase of you.

        • Phil

          Pardon your ignorance but a singularity doesn’t have a volume.

        • Joe

          I do have a question. Is it more difficult to believe in an intelligent creator than it is to believe that the entire mass of the universe fit into a volume less than the head of a pin

          Where was the creator when the universe was so small?

        • Phil

          And Jesus was ok with slaves?

    • Kodie

      It’s actually a parlor trick to fool yourself into giving them your money.

      • Steve Smith

        Do you consider it a problem if that money goes to helping others who lack the basics of life and supporting a community that you know will support you when you are in need? I would say that such money is well spent!

        • Kodie

          I think there are other, better ways of donating to the needy if you want them to get more of the money you donate instead of buying new hats for your priest.

        • Steve Smith

          Nearly all the leaders in my church are not paid. The church does not buy them hats either. Here is a good description of the welfare program in my church from PBS.

          http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2016/06/24/mormon-welfare-program/31091/

          I would be very interested if you know of any that are more efficient.

        • You’re saying that the good works done by your church is outstandingly efficient. I wouldn’t doubt it. I’m sure there are lots of individual examples.

          The problem is when you look at the church in aggregate. Last time I checked, Americans give $300 billion per year to charities. $100 billion of that goes to churches and related organizations. A well-run charity will have an overhead of 10% or less, but what is the overhead of the collection of organizations that gets that $100B every year? What fraction of their work goes to good works that help people?

          Problem 1: we don’t know. Churches are embarrassed about their finances, so they are allowed to keep the books secret (unlike ever other nonprofit). Problem 2: they might only pass along 2% of their income to good works. Or maybe it’s 10%. Whatever it is, it’s really, really low. The church is like a country club–it’s an expensive machine to keep running–and, seeing the church as a charity, it has 90-98% overhead.

          Seen this way, the Church gets an F on charity work. I wish it were otherwise.

        • MR

          I used to help with administrative work for a local church. I was shocked at how small of a percentage went toward actually helping people, even with the added income of renting out space to other churches and groups. I guess I imagined that every dollar I put in the offering plate was going toward some children’s cancer ward or feeding some starving child in Nicaragua. Instead, a small fraction went to “missionary work,” which I think included the expense of sending church members to some Latin American country to “mission.”

        • The church itself is a big, expensive machine, very inefficient if you imagine its purpose to throw money at social problems. I think it’s quite analogous to a country club on this issue.

        • Steve Smith

          Throwing money at social problems will never fix anything. The only fix is to change behavior. This is where churches excel. People are taught to be honest, not steal, not be idle, no sex outside of marriage, help others find jobs, etc.. If everybody followed those rules then social problems would all but vanish.

          What is the atheist’s plan to fix social problems?

        • Throwing money at social problems will never fix anything.

          Weren’t you just bragging about how generous your church is?

          The only fix is to change behavior. This is where churches excel. People are taught to be honest, not steal, not be idle, no sex outside of marriage, help others find jobs, etc.

          No, churches don’t particularly excel here. The prisons aren’t full of atheists.

          If everybody followed those rules then social problems would all but vanish.

          Yeah, and if everyone was celibate before marriage we’d have fewer unwanted pregnancies. As policy, that’s simply unrealistic. Similarly, wagging your finger at someone and saying, “But you’re making Jeebus sad by doing bad things!” isn’t particularly realistic.

          What is the atheist’s plan to fix social problems?

          Atheism is just one answer to one question. If you mean “liberals,” I think it’s to increase government’s involvement in social problems.

          Why that is a problem for conservatives is a little hard for me to understand. Sure, I understand that big government and lots of taxes can be a problem, but government is another word for community. If I were a Christian, I’d like to see those atheists contribute to fixing social problems without having the church pick up the slack.

        • Greg G.

          Weren’t you just bragging about how generous your church is?

          It’s generous with its own members. They trade $20 bills.

        • MR

          As if the non-religious aren’t capable of teaching moral behavior. Phht.

        • Greg G.

          What is the atheist’s plan to fix social problems?

          We see lots of social problems that correlate to religiousity. The more religious a state is, the greater the crime rate, poverty rate, the divorce rate, the employment rate, and many other negative rates. OTOH, the states that rank best are also the states that are the least religious. This correlation holds for counties, too, or so I have read. I have verified the rankings for the state level several times.

          Many Christian religions actually discourage education because they lose members when they get too well-educated. They rely on superstition.

          Perhaps people are relying on God to use his power to fix things but that never works.

          Two hands clasped in prayer is two hands not carrying their load.

        • Pofarmer

          Apparently Steve has never heard of Humanism.

        • MR

          Many Christian religions actually discourage education because they lose members when they get too well-educated. They rely on superstition.

          I do some (secular) volunteering for a local Mormon ward and overheard two people discussing how bright one of their daughters is and discussing her future prospects. The girl’s father brought up college and the woman who runs the volunteer work just kept shaking her head and saying, “The schools are just so liberal…, They’re so liberal….” It was this subtle shaming. I was just taken aback and horrified for this young girl.

          Also, I just found out that Jehovah Witnesses discourage their members from university because, you know, the end times, so what’s the point? I realized that that likely played into my aunt not encouraging her college age son to go to school. I had sat down with him a few years ago to explain it was the best thing he could do for his future. Of all her children, he was just made for higher education. I talked to her, too, and said she should do everything she could to encourage him. She agreed, but in the end it all came to naught. I realize now that she was just paying me lip service. He had a couple service industry jobs, and then last we spoke about him she was excited that he was being considered for a security guard position. I wanted to cry.

          [edit: to reinsert sentence inadvertently deleted.]

        • Greg G.

          I see you are trying to pick a fight between Steve and Christine.

        • MR

          Not pick a fight, but here are two people no doubt sincere in their convictions yet who have incompatible beliefs. They’re trying to convince us that they’re correct, but can they convince each other? If one of them really does have compelling arguments, well then, it should be easy to convince a person who already believes on some level in the supernatural, right? So, remove the supposed atheist bias and let’s see how convincing their arguments are to each other.

        • Michael Neville

          Churches have centuries of experience in teaching people how to become haters and bigots. Evangelicals excel at hating gays, trans people, non-whites, non-evangelical Christians, non-Christians, women, and the poor (you show this hatred quite well when you pretend that if the poor and disadvantaged went to church then their problems would vanish). Evangelicals hate everyone who isn’t a straight, white, conservative, fundamentalist male. Doesn’t that make you proud to be a Christian?

        • epeeist

          What is the atheist’s plan to fix social problems?

          Perhaps you ought to look at the societies with the highest social well-being index. You could check how religious they are.

        • Pofarmer

          I imagine Steve is nigh immune to evidence of that sort.

        • epeeist

          I imagine Steve is nigh immune to evidence of that sort

          FIFY

        • to add to Greg G.’s comment, allowing religion to die would be a good first step. The US has higher religiosity but poorer social metrics (homicide rate, alcoholism rate, STD rate, and so on) compared to Europe and other developed countries. And that’s not a coincidence–it appears that poor social metrics encourages religion. Curiously, many conservative leaders’s policies show that they’re eager to continue those poor social metrics. The answer is to fix society and allow religion to atrophy.

        • Kodie

          Some of those behaviors you list don’t really need changing, and none of them require magical guidance.

        • Kodie

          When churches hound parishioners to donate 10% of their gross income (as I understand it), and figure what’s some kind of average, that’s a fuckton of money. If they were giving it all away to the needy, they’d want everyone to know how many schools they built and how many hungry people don’t just get a Christmas dinner, but food on the table every night. The government would have no work left to do! I once did a salvage/demolition of a rectory, and it was huge. We got to save some neat fixtures before they were going to raze the property and build a brand-new modern rectory. I didn’t work at that place too long, but we were going to go back to salvage the church before it too was demolished and rebuilt.

          These buildings seemed perfectly habitable. The rectory seemed to be a beautiful old building that had been updated with shag carpeting and sponge painting and whatever, but could have been restored rather than entirely rebuilt. We were taking things (mostly Victorian-era hardware and moulding and fireplace tile, etc.) out of there that must also have been expensive and fancy when the place was built. Seems vain to me. I feel like churches want to spend more money marketing themselves to appeal to more people to make more money, just like any business. Where does it all go?

        • Steve Smith

          Yes, Mormons donate 10% of their income to the Church. And yet, despite this, many amass large personal fortunes (i.e Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Bill Marriot). Like everything else in this world, The Church does needs money to operate and maintain places of worship. Excess money is sent to poorer parts of the world to help the establish needed infrastructure. The infrastructure supports organizations that teach leadership skills and provide wholesome recreation for young women and men. A community of friendship is created for all members that gives each member opportunities to help take care of each other.

          The welfare system in my Church is so effective that food is provided for every member throughout the world as well as for some who are not members of the Church. If the whole world followed my church’s welfare plan then, as you correctly observe, there would be nothing for the government to do with respect to poverty.

        • Greg G.

          I Gave At Church: Mitt Romney and the Tithing Gimmick
          https://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-dantonio/mitt-romney-and-the-tithing-gimmick_b_1877447.html

          The pitiful truth of church spending on pure charity would not surprise anyone who has ever visited the offices of a typical bishop (or other administrative leader) and then the site of an ordinary church social service operation. Whether you are at the Archdiocese of New York or Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City, church leaders will welcome you into plush offices that are well appointed and technologically up-to-date. (Lunch, if it’s served, will be good.) Church service organizations are, without fail, provided in far grittier settings by workers who are underpaid, over-burdened and often seem poorly nourished. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between the caregivers and the folks seeking help.

          Given their low priority placed on helping others with no religious strings attached, it’s hard to understand how donating money to a church qualifies anyone as a humanitarian act. In fact, donations made to churches mainly serve to reinforce the private segment of society that you have either joined voluntarily or entered as a birthright. (In almost all cases the members of these subgroups consider themselves better than others and entitled to special treatment in the afterlife.) Considered this way, tithing not so much an investment in humanity as it is an affirmation of people like yourself, and a down payment on your eternal fate. And anyone who mentions religious giving in the context of taxes, is making an argument for private engagement over the truly public good.

        • Steve Smith

          HuffPo makes a goofy judgement. HuffPo expects a church to take care of non-members before taking care of it’s own. There is no justification for such a judgement. The logic is that helping feed a member of your own flock is not charity. So flawed.

        • Greg G.

          How luxurious must the Mormon administrators’ offices be before they help non-members?

          Matthew 19:21 (NRSV)21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
          cf. Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22

        • Pofarmer

          I mean, c’mon, the non members aren’t worthy.

          “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If
          you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to
          pieces.”

          Dueling bible verses is fun.

        • Greg G.

          James 2:15-16 (NRSV)15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?

        • If a church helps out its community, that’s a nice thing. Better would be if society patched the holes that the church had to deal with.

          If a church demands that recipients of aid sing for their supper, that’s not completely unexpected. But that underscores why it’s better when society steps in to fix the problem.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why a church wouldn’t help the neediest first, no matter who they are. Is church supposed to be an exclusive club? Yeah, members pay their dues, so I can understand why you think they should help paying customers first, and forsake everyone else unless they have extra to give. You were telling me before, me specifically, that your church was amazing and organized about charity.

        • Kodie

          I feel like you are trying to impress me. Of course a church needs money to operate itself, it’s a business. You seem to think because your church might be more economical with its tithes than others that I’d change my post or something. The business of the church is to sell you something like salvation and then pass the hat. Some are rather intrusive about how much they know about your income and how far they will go to get the 10% dues you owe them to belong to their club. Assuming all that money goes to a good cause is a matter of foolishness. Most of that money goes toward operating the church, and quite a bit of it goes toward effecting outcomes I personally disagree with. What is your problem if I decide my charitable donations don’t filter through your church, but still help people?

        • Steve Smith

          I have no problem with that. I’m am always looking for worthy organizations outside my church to contribute to and I thought you would have some good suggestions.

        • If your particular church is an efficient doer of good works, that’s great. The church as a whole is very, very inefficient. It has as much right to be a nonprofit as a country club.

        • Steve Smith

          The problems you cite are all based on conjecture. Please cite some evidence that supports your figures. This might get you started: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/18/charity-overhead-23-percent_n_1803027.html

          https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Guide-to-Giving/America-s-Top-50-charities-How-well-do-they-rate

        • MR

          Neither one of these references discuss churches.

        • Cite evidence? Of what? In the US, all nonprofits are obliged to open their books (by filing an IRS 990 or equivalent every year) … except for churches. Awk-ward. Y’know, it’s almost like they have something to hide.

          If you want solid numbers about the money churches give to good works, I’m afraid I can’t give them. The books are closed, remember?

          I’m not sure what the point of the articles is. You’re saying that some nonprofits have more overhead than 10%? Sure, that’s true, but 10% is still a popular benchmark for a tightly run operation. Churches look very different from an operation like United Way or CARE or Oxfam.

        • Steve Smith

          Cite evidence that faith based organizations give only a small percentage to help individuals.

        • What are you saying? That we’ll assume that churches give away 90% of their income unless proven otherwise?

          There is no hard evidence. Closed books, remember? I’ve cited what little evidence we have here:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/05/are-churches-more-like-charities-or-country-clubs-2/

        • Kodie

          Ok, so you’re a Mormon. I’d rather not funnel donations through a cult in order to help people out. I didn’t read your article but I will take it for argument’s sake, yours is not like the others. The problem is people assume their church donations are for the needy, and then either they really aren’t, or come with steep conditions, like listening to a sermon. Then there’s the other problem of what your church stands for, which I happen to disagree with. I’m certain there are things you and your fellow parishioners think is a good cause, and I do not. Plenty of tithes and such might not go toward your leaders’ fancy cars, but inventing programs to straighten gays, and pay rent for your missionaries to live all over the world and knock on doors.

        • Steve Smith

          My church stands for following Christ. Christ’s ministry was focused on showing how to love one’s neighbor. Are you saying that you disagree with the idea of loving one’s neighbor?

        • Kodie

          I disagree with your cult’s definition of love.

          You don’t need Jesus to be an asshole, but it helps.

        • Loving one’s neighbor sounds good, but the Bible is a big book. Christians can (and do) mine it for just about anything they want–government policy, license to do what they want, and so on.

          Fred “God hates fags” Phelps wasn’t making up those Bible quotes.

        • MR

          Hi, Steve, I was wondering what you would respond to someone like Christine GradyMiller, a devout Christian.

          Mormonism is a cult and their book is not verifiable by archaeology or history.

  • Brian Considine

    I always find it amusing how atheists think being a skeptic makes them right. That they can posit a possible alternative answer and that resolves the matter. Sorry. Not. I was an atheist in my adult life, up to the age of 36. Rejecting God is easy. It’s also very shallow thinking about things that actually matter in life for which atheism offers no answers.

    • I always find it amusing how atheists think being a skeptic makes them right

      That would be amusing! You’ll have to show me an atheist who thinks that way.

      I’m trying to follow the evidence. It leads me to the conclusion that there is no supernatural. Did I err? Show me. Give me reasons to believe whatever you believe.

      • MR

        Nothing he said about atheists is correct. Sigh…, we’re always up against the strawman atheist. Sad.

  • Robert Limb

    So Bob Seidensticker is, by his own admission, a “lesser known atheist”. I was going to say more about this article – suggest that those who think the author had a point would find “The Jesus Semlnar” congenial, but that they should also read – for instance – L.T. Johnson’s “The Real Jesus”…but, well, what’s the point? A lot has been written since then. The Jesus Seminar and its critics – Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eye-Witnesses”…”

    But why does an atheist have an interest in trying to prove that Jesus is a mere legend? Maybe that’s just easier to deal with than Lewis’ “trilemma”, I don’t know.

    • epeeist

      But why does an atheist have an interest in trying to prove that Jesus is a mere legend? Maybe that’s just easier to deal with than Lewis’ “trilemma”, I don’t know.

      Remember that Bob lives in a country where the Christian right have a significant influence on all three divisions of government, executive, legislature and judiciary.

      As it is I take the argument to show that Lewis’ trilemma falsely restricts the possibilities for Jesus to the ones for which he could offer a modicum of apologetics.

      I would extend Bob’s argument, Quine’s ideas on underdetermination show that not only can we offer any number of hypotheses for a particular set of phenomena but we can protect these hypotheses using ad hoc auxiliaries. In other words, Bob doesn’t take the argument far enough.

    • Pofarmer

      Yes, yes, yes. The “real” Jesus. You might notice that there are as many “real” Jesus’s as there are authors that write about him. That’s possible because their’s no actual evidence of the “real” Jesus. Jesus is as “real” as Rhett Butler, and the evidence for both is identical.

      • Christian denominations increase at 2 per day. So much for the Bible being a coherent instruction manual.

      • Robert Limb

        It’s the name of the book. And I’m not suggesting you read it. And no, I hadn’t noticed. In fact, I only get one Jesus from the four gospels, actually. But if you wanted to follow up your affirmation with some examples from your research, that might be interesting.

        • You may indeed get only one, consistent Jesus out of the gospels, but I’m sure you realize that many other people find other Jesuses there.

        • Robert Limb

          You’re welcome to join in the game if you feel like it.

        • You mean that I could cobble together a Jesus out of verses that I prefer and put him forward as a candidate? Sure, but that’s not what I do.

        • Robert Limb

          Is that what Bart Ehrman, Reza Aslan have done, in your opinion? That’s a bit of a let-down.

        • You’ve lost me.

        • Pofarmer

          Apparently Robert has never heard of the Marcionites, or Gnostics, or Docetists, or Cathars.

        • Or the 7th-Day Adventists or Christian Scientists or Unitarians or Shakers.

          “45,000 denominations” makes the point nicely, IMO. (And, to acknowledge your list, that’s just the denominations today.)

        • Pofarmer

          Even ignoring the denominational/theological differences, there have been a great many authors posit a great many visions of what/who the “real” Jesus was back in the day. I suppose I should feel guilty for not doing a comprehensive search for your guest.

        • Should we take the charitable approach and assume that he is actually ignorant and is eager for input?

          But I jest. Here’s one more data point: “Since the 18th century, three scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were often developed during each specific phase.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_for_the_historical_Jesus

        • Robert Limb

          Thank you for the additions. They will come in useful. I’ll just remind you that I began by saying that you would find “The Jesus Seminar” somewhat to your taste. It does not appear to be referenced in the wikipedia article you quoted. Try here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar.

          All I added was that to be honest, you should also read the criticism of the exercise – and it was in this context that I cited Luke Timothy Johnson’s book. None of this was intended to be polemic or even contradictory

          Incidentally, in all the examples you cited, there are very very very few who think that Jesus is no more real than Rhett Butler (to use Po Farmer’s own example), although of course, the docetic idea of “exist” might be a bit different to yours or mine. Even your man Reza Aslan thought Jesus existed.

          There is a whale of a difference between reading up on someone and producing a work which can be close, or very far from the given data – and affirming that there are no data in the first place.

          Incidentally, that is the one glaring fault in your initial thesis. All Lewis was suggesting is that people who do believe in Jesus’ existence cannot claim that he was a great teacher whilst rejecting the very idea for which he was willing to die.

          If Jesus is only a legend, ipso facto he was not a great teacher – so the famous trilemma is not wrong, it becomes irrelevant.

        • Thank you for the additions. They will come in useful.

          If our top-of-the-head lists were new to you, you will be amazed at how diverse Christianity is and has been. The typical idea of most Christians is that “Christianity” is what they practice at their own neighborhood church. It’s startlingly diverse now, in not just diverse but contradictory ways, and that’s, of course, after many other variants have been pruned away and either left to die or actively suppressed.

          I’ll just remind you that I began by saying that you would find “The Jesus Seminar” somewhat to your taste.

          I’m quite familiar with this group, being a fan of Robert M. Price, though I haven’t read any of their work.

          All I added was that to be honest, you should also read the criticism of the exercise – and it was in this context that I cited Luke Timothy Johnson’s book.

          Looking at the comments above, I don’t see that reference. Can you give it?

          Incidentally, in all the examples you cited, there are very very very few who think that Jesus is no more real than Rhett Butler

          You can read Robert Price or Richard Carrier if you want more on the Jesus Myth side of the argument. Frankly, I haven’t studied up on it, so I have no useful opinion except to agree that it’s plausible (and fascinating). For my work here, that’s a tangent. I’m happy to accept, for argument’s sake, that there was a real Jesus at the start of Christianity.

          Even your man Reza Aslan thought Jesus existed.

          Why is he my man?

          Incidentally, that is the one glaring fault in your initial thesis. All Lewis was suggesting is that people who do believe in Jesus’ existence cannot claim that he was a great teacher whilst rejecting the very idea for which he was willing to die.

          Have you read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran? It’s 100% fiction, but it has more relevant wisdom in one chapter than the entirety of Jesus’s quoted words.

          And you can imagine what I think of the “willing to die” bit. The dude was out for a day and a half—not that big a sacrifice.

        • Robert Limb

          Well, thank you for your systematic and very revealing reply. I will probably be quoting you, but not by name.

          I mentioned the title of L T Johnson’s book in my first post – but it’s the principle. If you want to be better informed, I’m just suggesting that it’s always good to have both sides of an argument. You can get quite a lot from Wikipedia, which seems to be your favourite source – and I’m not knocking it.

          I’ve been known to quote Khalil Gibran and weddings and funerals. “The prophet” is a delightful poem, we can agree on that. Comparisons are odious. Would you say there is more value in one Mozart or Rossini aria than in the entirety of Beaumarchais?

        • I will probably be quoting you, but not by name.

          Is that a threat?

          If you want to be better informed, I’m just suggesting that it’s always good to have both sides of an argument.

          I’m not following. You say that because you’re concerned that I don’t much care about being well informed?

          “The prophet” is a delightful poem, we can agree on that. Comparisons are odious.

          Comparisons don’t bother me, and I’ll stick with mine: there’s far more wisdom in The Prophet than in the entire Bible.

        • Robert Limb

          Well, I’m willing to accept your word for it. Your mate Po Farmer gave up after just two. Who are these many other people?

        • I’m willing to accept your word for it.

          Because your understanding of Christianity must be identical to all other Christians’ view? I think you need to get out more.

        • Robert Limb

          I think this conversation has run it’s course. I have found it quite enlightening, but probably not in the way you intended.

        • “Intended”? How could I have had any intentions in a conversation with nothing on the other side?

        • Robert Limb

          OK. You joined in a conversation which I was having with Po Farmer. Both you and he said that there were loads and loads of “Jesuses”. You have come up with two – maximum (because I’m not sure about Bart Ehrman’s contribution). So it seems legitimate, even if it may be erroneous in actual fact, not to take you seriously. Jesus does not exist because Ehrman no longer believes in him and Aslan (not the lion, obviously) thinks he was a Zealot. I will not be replying again unless you come up with something worthwhile.

        • Do you really not understand the problem that 45,000 denominations of Christianity poses to the Christian who declares that the Bible is reliable?

          I will not be replying again unless you come up with something worthwhile.

          Works for me.

        • Pofarmer

          Some examples of What? I believe it was Bart Ehrman who noted that Jesus was a rorsach test and many authors have had many different opinions. Reza Aslan with “Zealot” for instance. Your example. There are a great many opinions on who the real Jesus was.

        • Robert Limb

          You get the idea. I’m fascinated.
          Jesus is a rorsach test. OK, a little anachronistic, but never mind.
          Jesus the Zealot. Well, at least that gets the historical context right.
          So two authors, two “Jesuses”. Keep ’em coming, why stop when you’re having fun.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m not in the mood to be your huckleberry at this moment. If you’re interested, you can figure it out.

        • Robert Limb

          Well to be honest, there are more important things I should be doing, too. But it’s not a question of “figuring it out” I can’t very well figure out who these people are that you claim to know, can I?

        • Pofarmer

          For Pete’s sake. Just take a look at Bart Herman. Misquoting Jesus or Lost Christianities would be a teensy start.

        • why stop when you’re having fun.

          Because no one knows what you’re saying. Do you have a point?

    • So you’re saying, “Why read an amateur when there’s a stack of apologetics books written by smart Christian scholars?”

      That’s fine, but after you’ve done so and you want to give your new ideas a test drive, see what atheist bloggers have to say about them. If amateur bloggers can dismantle these arguments, then perhaps the scholars weren’t backing the right horse.

      Lewis’s trilemma is flawed since it avoids the obvious naturalistic option. Doesn’t it bother you that Lewis made such a blunder (or deliberately ignored an inconvenient possibility)?

      But we’re avoiding the point here. I say that “legend” best explains the gospel story. You’ve given no rebuttal. Would you like to make one?