Easter Critique: the Bible Can’t Even Get its Own Punch Line Straight (Infographic)

Easter Critique: the Bible Can’t Even Get its Own Punch Line Straight (Infographic) April 14, 2017

Christians, what happened on that very first Easter? This is an open-book test, so no pressure. The only requirement is that you must use all of each gospel story. No cherry picking, please—every “fact” claimed from the crucifixion through the resurrection and ascension must be worked into your composite story.

With four accounts inspired by an infallible deity, this should be no problem.

In practice, however, it’s trickier. If you thought harmonizing the two birth accounts (Matthew’s magi and murderous Herod vs. Luke’s census and shepherds) is troublesome, consider the chart below. It lists every claim from each gospel. They harmonize like bickering children.

(Chart reprinted with permission of Atheists and Agnostics of Wisconsin.)

resurrection big one

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 4/5/15.)

Image credit for chart: Atheists and Agnostics of Wisconsin (used with permission)

Image credit for lamb: moonjazz, flickr, CC

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  • Max Doubt

    “Easter Critique: the Bible Can’t Even Get its Own Punch Line Straight”

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4d045bbe9a2ef9dd8a6086dbb945c3881de216d7a6212ed6b59cf2fdfe75668e.jpg

  • sandy

    I’m always amazed that for such a significant event, the foundation of Christianity, nobody recorded what day let alone year Jesus was crucified. Except, we are left with “when is Easter this year?”

    • AG

      Yeah, the date of his death is almost as problematic as the date of his birth.

      • sandy

        Yes, the same holds true that with that miraculous birth, the moving star, Herod, wisemen and no one recorded it or just kept that great day alive through oral tradition. Of course, to attach dates to a birth or death would be creating a fact susceptible to verification. If it’s a made up story the last thing you would want to do is put dates around it.

        • Greg G.

          It’s amazing that wise men from the East could follow a star they saw in the east and wind up in the west.

        • Michael Neville

          It’s a miraculous story. That’s miraculous with a capital MIR!

        • TheNuszAbides

          the odds were literally astronomical.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the last thing you would want to do is put dates around it.

          that’s kind of what makes “Matthew”‘s excruciating retcon so fascinating.

        • sandy

          retcon…good choice

    • rubaxter

      It’s some time around Master’s Week, which is fast becoming the more important of the two, even here in the L’il Ole South…

      • sandy

        I’m from the great white north and Masters week always signifies the start of the golf season. Masters Sunday at my house is the most important day of the year!

        • John Gills

          Isn’t Masters week just an extension of St. Patrick’s day, what with ‘the wearin’ o’ the green’ and all?

        • Michael Neville

          That’s why the Masters is played in O’Gusta.

    • They didn’t know it would be significant then.

      • mordred

        Yeah, people rising from the grave, angels flying around, earthquakes and darkness at day… Probably happened all the time back then!

        • It happened in a lot of the records of the time, apparently.
          But, leaving aside the allegations of the supernatural, I doubt anyone then could have foreseen that Christianity would take over a significant proportion of the world.

        • mordred

          That I agree with.

  • JustinL

    No wonder they put Matthew first. It’s like a Jesus fanfic. It’s The Force Awakens of the Bible.

    • AG

      I was going over the separate accounts of the resurrection today and that’s exactly what I thought. When you read it, you see that Matthew loads on the detail and dramatics. You’ve an angel appearing in a violent earthquake to roll back the stone. He sits on top of the stone, glowing like lightening, while talking to the women. The guards are still there, shaking in their boots. It’very cinematic compared to the other accounts.

      • What I find funny is when apologists talk about how the gospels are real history because they don’t embellish the story like apocryphal gospels do.

        Maybe they don’t as much, but there are some pretty impressive things happening in the gospels…

        • Greg G.

          Elisha’s Feeding of the 100 gets embellished by 50 times and again by 40 times.

        • So you’re saying Jesus should have got his disciples to accidentally poison the multiplied food so that he could show his power in healing with flour power?

          OK, that was the story before, but when I was much younger “There is death in the pot” was one of my favourite lines…

      • TheNuszAbides

        i’m considering re-reading gJohn in light of a few analyses i recently came across. hesitant because (a) there’s so much more i am and could be reading, (b) the smugness and arguable Jew-hatred.

        • AG

          I’m doing my own analysis of Galatians right now and am shocked at how much Jew hatred is in there that I never saw before.

        • Greg G.

          Calibrate your sarcasm detector on Galatians 5:12 where Paul says he wishes the circumcisers would go the whole way and castrate themselves.

        • I found the same as a believer when preparing a talk on what our attitude to Jews should be today. The community I was in was very much “It’s all about the hope of Israel! We should support Israel no matter what! It’s all in the promises to Abraham!” etc. Suffice it to say that I demonstrated this didn’t really match what the New Testament said.

        • Michael Neville

          there’s so much more i am and could be reading,

          That’s the main reason I’m not reading the Bible these days. I’ve just finished Theodore Roosevelt’s The Naval War of 1812* and I’m about to start Eric Hobsbawm’s The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848. I don’t see squeezing in anything Biblical for quite a while.

          *Roosevelt was a clear, concise writer. He goes into great detail but when his sources are ambiguous he says so and explains why he chose one source over another. His two main faults were his nationalism (which he plainly admitted) and his dislike of William James, who wrote a history of the War of 1812 from the British viewpoint. James, whom I’ve never read, was apparently an even greater nationalist than Roosevelt and not above embroidering or even distorting the facts to put the British in a good light and the Americans in a poor one. Roosevelt spent half a chapter denigrating James and sneered at him repeatedly throughout the rest of the book.

        • “Roosevelt spent half a chapter denigrating James and sneered at him repeatedly throughout the rest of the book.”

          Sounds lovely.

        • TheNuszAbides

          reading-wise, i’m always biting off more than i can chew all at once. taking interest in ‘hard’ sciences in the last few years, on top of everything else, hasn’t helped that habit. and the only things i’ve ever actually re-read were read out loud to others. gJohn will likely remain in the largely-unexamined fog of decades past.

        • Pofarmer

          For fun, read Revelation with the outlook that it is Ancient Astrology as the basis for the Jesus story. It actually makes a lot of sense read in that light. Thanks to, I think, Bruce Molina.

          http://vridar.org/?s=revelation+astrology

    • Michael Neville

      More like The Phantom Menace of the Bible.

      • TheNuszAbides

        would you say The Empire Strikes Back in Acts?

        EDIT: gets kinda convoluted if you figure Yahweh is more-or-less Palpatine.

    • Shan

      Matthew is my fave telling, too. It’s the one with zombies.

      • Greg G.

        What would Easter be without zombies? Boring, that’s what!

        • (((GC)))

          Wasn’t Jesus himself, in the story, a zombie?
          Or a lich?
          Captain Cassidy argues that Jesus was more accurately a D&D-style Rakshasa. (“He’s not a zombie. Or a lich.” at Roll to Disbelieve)

        • Greg G.

          Interesting. After the Twelve are assembled in the early chapters of Mark, all but Peter, James, John and Judas disappear except for one mention of Andrew. Jesus may have been eating them. The Last Supper may have been him trying to explain himself eating flesh and using bread as an example.

        • Kevin K

          Followed by the mention of his girlfriend from Canada?

    • Kevin K

      Still better than Jar Jar Binks.

  • Jim Jones

    I’m sure the gospels should all say “The story of Jesus as imagined by the authors”.

    • TheNuszAbides

      paraphrased from a recent comment by Kodie which i nominated for mandatory warning label: “actual events may not have been quite as exciting as depicted.”

      and of course, Red Dwarf’s ‘lost page 1’: “To my darling Candy / All characters portrayed within this book are fictitous and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.”

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HollywoodApocrypha

  • Michael Neville

    Isn’t Easter when Jesus looks out of the tomb and if he sees his shadow then there’s six more weeks of winter?

    • rubaxter

      I thought he shouted, “Mom!! Who bit the ears off my chocolate rabiit??!!”

      • Greg G.

        Wait, a minute. You had “jelly beans” first.

    • Greg G.

      If he doesn’t see his shadow, he bites the ears off the chocolate bunny.

      • rubaxter

        Ha! Beat you to it!!

        • Greg G.

          I saw the “1 New Reply” but was too busy typing and editing.

  • rubaxter

    This sounds to True Believers ™ like taking a spade to a souffle, but actually resolves to taking a shovel to a cowpat, for educated Adults.

  • epicurus

    Funny how the centurion beside Jesus at the Crucifixion can say “Truly he is the son of god” just because of the way Jesus breathed his last breath (Mark 15:39), but two soliders see angles come down, roll away the stone, and hear the angels speak, and after fainting from fear, then just go on their way and take a bribe to say they fell asleep (Matthew 28). And the chief priests who hear the soliders story don’t seem to show any astonishment. They may have thought Jesus a fraud, but if angels really did appear, that should have sparked interest. But no. the story doesn’t really matchup with human behaviour patterns.
    I really liked the move “Risen” with Joseph Fiennes because the henchman of Pilate sees Jesus die, but then sees him alive later and it rocks his world but he doesnt really know what it means- he feels compelled to follow the disciples but keeps a distance trying to figure it out. It’s just not obvious what it means but he can’t just ignore it and go back to a normal life.

    • Michael Neville

      With all the zombies wondering around Jerusalem a couple of angels wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

      • epicurus

        Haha, yea, that’s right.

  • Joshua Babbitt

    Ask yourself, where does the name “Easter” come from? What about the bunnies and eggs? Why is Easter always on a different day? These traditions come from paganism, and are an abomination to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible does not support celebrating Easter. http://creationliberty.com/articles/easter.php

    There are no contradictions in the King James Bible (God’s Word). I will not explain away these supposed “contradictions” in my post, because you will only scoff at the truth, and your’re ready to make a post scoffing right now, I’m I wrong?

    So, for anyone seeking the truth of God’s, read Romans 1, and Romans 3
    Chapter 1 https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Romans-Chapter-1/
    Chapter 3 https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Romans-Chapter-3/

    Which is show you the proof of God, and the wickedness in your heart.

    Have you kept the Commandments of God?

    Ever told a lie?- “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (Ex 20:16)
    Ever taken something that’s not yours?- “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex 20:15)
    Ever desired someone else’s stuff?- “Thou shalt not covet” (Ex 20:17)
    Ever cussed God’s name?- “Thou shalt not take God’s name in vain” (Ex 20:7)

    You have broken God’s Law, and therefore the penalty must be paid.
    “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
    -Romans 6:23

    Repent (which is that grief, guilt, and godly sorrow that one has done wrong), and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Greg G.

      Ever told a lie?- “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (Ex 20:16)
      Ever taken something that’s not yours?- “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex 20:15)
      Ever desired someone else’s stuff?- “Thou shalt not covet” (Ex 20:17)
      Ever cussed God’s name?- “Thou shalt not take God’s name in vain” (Ex 20:7)

      I have never killed anybody but I have eaten bacon cheeseburgers. The OT forbids seething a kid in it mother’s milk (which is what happens when you melt cow’s milk cheese on beef) and forbids eating pork (where bacon comes from). I have had dozens of them. So there is no hope for me.

    • Michael Neville

      and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

      Belief isn’t something one can turn on. There has to be a reason to believe in something. Your boilerplate proselytizing isn’t a reason to believe in anything other than we’re not going to buy what you’re selling.

      • (((GC)))

        …and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

        Wouldn’t an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving deity use proper grammar that wouldn’t be(come) awkward to 21st-century English speakers?

    • Mr. A

      Well of course we’re going to scoff. We’ve just seen contradictions from the four different texts, and you’e ignored them on the grounds that you can’t explain them.

      And then you cite the bible as proof of Jesus. You know who else does that? Hindus with thier Shruti. Does that mean they’re right too?

      So here’s a riddle for you: you claim we scoff at the truth. We claim you scoff at the truth. Throw in every other religion just to be safe. How do we know who’s right withot invoking any of our beliefs (which are biased and cannot be used)?

    • ZenDruid

      Everyone give due diligence to the monster under Joshua Babbitt’s bed.

      Then, you are free to point and laugh.

      • Michael Neville

        It appears that Josh B was a drive-by evangelist, dropping his turds of wisdom and then disappearing into the æther.

        • Greg G.

          I didn’t plan on celebrating Easter until Josh dropped in. Now I’m going to find a chocolate bunny to celebrate it properly. A solid chocolate bunny, not a hollow one.

        • Otto

          But a hollow one encapsulates the spirit of the holiday far more closely.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, but there should be something meaningful about it and for me, it’s chocolate.

        • Otto

          It is hard to argue against solid chocolate, nay impossible. I give…you win.

        • (((GC)))
        • epicurus

          I would think a hollow bunny would be a better encapsulation – its contents have left, like a hollow empty tomb. 🙂

    • So much here to object to – hope you enjoy the scoffing you asked for?

      Romans 1 gives Paul’s personal opinion that his God is the only way to explain creation. In my personal opinion, he is wrong about that. I may lack his extensive knowledge of Hebrew scriptures, but I have access to all the things humanity has discovered in the last 2,000 years that he didn’t know about.

      As for the commandments of God, these supposed commandments are said to be given by God during the Israelite wilderness wandering – an event which many historians suggest never happened. That sounds like “made up by humans” to me, but YMMV.

      But I’m surprised you’re only interested in four of the ten commandments rather than the full ten. Is remembering the sabbath one of the commands of God? Well, I obviously don’t know about you, but when I was a Christian we met together on Sunday, not on Saturday, and didn’t observe all the rules about rest and doing no work. I would guess that is true of the majority of Christians in the western world – are they also breaking God’s commandments?

      Personally, I expect to die: Not because I’ve broken God’s law, but because of natural biological processes. I also expect animals to die in just the same way: because of natural biological processes. Are you also accusing those animals of breaking God’s law?

      Finally, since I hate misleading and incomplete marketing, you forgot to mention that you are inviting us to join you in a life of slavery:
      “and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
      – Romans 6:18 (ESV)

      I guess I should forgive you for that, since your only use of Romans 6 was to remind us we were mortal, not to offer us the gift of God which was actually Paul’s point.

      • “As for the commandments of God, these supposed commandments are said to be given by God during the Israelite wilderness wandering – an event which many historians suggest never happened.”

        “Which *many* ‘historians’ *suggest* never happened”…??!

        I mean, it obviously happened, because a bunch of people have written about it for ages. It is an event we both know about and can discuss without having to give much context. It is as valid a thing to have happened as anything else ever written in books is.

        Jesus dumbs the Commandments thing down and says – just love God and love your neighbor as yourself – if you want to keep it simple.

        • I find it hard from your tone to know whether to take your comment seriously or not.

          But if it is serious, having an event written down in a book does nothing more to make the wilderness wanderings true than it does to make the Odyssey or the Iliad true. All three of them involve improbable divine intervention with minimal or no independent historical evidence to support those claims.

        • “But if it is serious, having an event written down in a book does nothing more to make the wilderness wanderings true than it does to make the Odyssey or the Iliad true.”

          They all are true. That is why you can reference them to me, and I don’t have to ask, “What is this Odyssey you speak of?” Because we both know The Odyssey.

        • I’m happy to accept that those records exist. I’m not happy to accept that they describe things which actually happened.

        • TheNuszAbides

          George Carlin did a better job.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5rLWJntz-o

      • epicurus

        He lost me with the “King James Bible is God’s true word” schtick.

        • Sure thing. I had plenty I wanted to say about that too, but decided I had more important things I wanted to focus on.

    • mordred

      […]Why is Easter always on a different day? These traditions come from paganism, and are an abomination to the Lord Jesus Christ.

      So the Jews are Pagans now? Good to know that!

      I will not explain away these supposed “contradictions” in my post,[…]

      Now here’s a surprise.

      • Probably some Jews are Pagans. Why are you throwing labels around?

        • Michael Neville

          Which Jews are pagans? First define paganism and then show that certain Jews meet that criteria. Be specific.

        • TheNuszAbides

          First define paganism

          at bare minimum.

        • I wasn’t the one accusing Jews of being Pagans. I’m just assuming that usually in any group where members can be part of another group, it is probable (possible?) some of them are.

          I don’t know the definition of paganism. I could Google it for you, but that is about the easiest thing in the world for any of us to do.

        • Greg G.

          Paganism is not an actual religion. It is any non-Abrahamic religion. Jewish can describe a person’s religion or ancestry so a person of Jewish ancestry could take up a paganistic type of religion.

        • mordred

          There are actually Jewish pagans who try to recreate the old Canaanite polytheism in which YHWH was just one of the players.

          But to clarify what I meant with “Jews are Pagans” (though I suspect all but jazz got it), I was only referring to Joshua’s assertion that the Easter date, which is determined using a lunisolar calendar like the Jewish tradition at roughly the same time as Passover (when the events are supposed to have happend) is one of it’s Pagan elements.

        • Michael Neville

          You accused some Jews of being pagans without knowing what paganism is or having any evidence to support this claim. I strongly suggest you refrain from doing this sort of thing on this blog because otherwise you’ll be verbally torn to shreds.

    • Snowflake

      Why use the King James Bible?

      • Because that was the one dictated verbatim by Jesus. Duh!

        • Snowflake

          Silly me.

      • TheNuszAbides

        worked for Joseph Smith!

    • Ever desired someone else’s stuff?- “Thou shalt not covet” (Ex 20:17)

      I’m glad you brought this one up, because the no-coveting commandment is often overlooked. Being envious is a really bad thing!

      And then those atheists whine about there not being commandments against slavery, rape, or genocide. Priorities, people!

      /sarcasm

      • Michael Neville

        So jonesing the guy next door’s barbecue grill is a no-no? I’m in a lot of trouble then.

        • TheNuszAbides

          somehow i had been convinced that Envy and Jealousy were both Deadly Sins, and spent years (of passive response) distinguishing them from each other when (often) someone would use the latter word to refer to the former concept (mostly, saying “i’m so jealous” in the exact same sense folks once more often said “i’m green with envy”).

          but duh, why would Yahweh frown on jealousy? … hmm, perhaps because only he gets that prerogative … he sure as shit doesn’t frown on any of his own killing, post-First-Rainbow(TM)-Ever anyway.

      • epicurus

        A christian nation should not allow any corporate takeovers – one company coveting anothers assets.

    • TheNuszAbides

      abomination

      sorry, that terminology only carries weight when i’m in Roleplaying Game Mode.

      • You mean, when you are playing God?

        • Susan

          when you are playing God?

          How would one go about playing a non-existent claim with inoherent qualities?

        • TheNuszAbides

          definitely depends on the game.

    • RichardSRussell

      “God’s truth”, is that kind of like “Madoff’s ethics” or “Armstrong’s sportsmanship”?

    • TheNuszAbides

      but what if those cherry-picked ~Commandments~ only apply within the In-Group?

      • I’m pretty sure there is a reason Jesus is willing to simplify things when he is asked which are the most important Commandments; to love God, and to love thy neighbor as thyself. Just give love, to everyone, and there ‘shouldn’t’ be any problems.

        • Halbe

          Ah, you go for Nice Jesus™! Too bad that you have to ignore about 90% of the OT to make the Nice Jesus™ concept work…

    • Otto

      Are you related to Charlie and Raymond?

  • SeeingClearly

    Mr. Babbitt: We wouldn’t be having any discussions about unbelievable stories of unbelievable events because there are so many obvious contradictions in accounts written many years after the events supposedly happened…if your deity eliminated all doubt by appearing to all here on Earth and demonstrating his all-powerful control of the entire universe, as you say he has. Of course, for you to feel very good about it, he’d have to clearly verify that he was the god of YOUR religion, because there are, as I understand it, at least 1400 recognized religions or major religious philosophies on Earth right now (and, of course, thousands more presently out of favor but very popular at sometime in history). Anyway, just one current appearance certainly doesn’t seem much to ask of someone who is in complete control of everything…and that would solve your problem of trying to prove something (his existence) for which you currently have zero proof. Maybe you could just send him a little prayer to that effect…and he’d come to your rescue. Or, since he’s not there, maybe not.

    • Jesus = “He’s us”

      God presents himself in front of you every day and you bomb him and spit on him and tell him he has zero proof of his existence when he gives you a nice computer to talk all smarmy on.

      • Michael Neville

        Got any evidence that your god isn’t a figment of your imagination? I didn’t think so. Come back when you can show your god, or any other god, actually exists. Until then, you can just fuck off.

        • I can post pictures of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. That is about the best ‘evidence’ I can convey across the internet. I also do not deny the existence of the FSM, even as a red herring.

        • Greg G.

          Ramen!

        • Michael Neville

          What does the FSM have to do with the topic at hand? Please explain why you brought up this non sequitur.

        • Because that is a thing that exists, because we both know of it and can have this conversation, referring to it in acronym-form, at this point.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s a non-answer. I ask again, why did you bring up the FSM? We (or at least I) know that it was invented in 2005 by Bobby Henderson as a satire to protest the Kansas State Board of Education’s decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. That has nothing to do with evidence to support the existence of your favorite pet deity.

        • Susan

          because we both know of it and can have this conversation

          A human concept exists with which some humans are familiar.

          Is that what you mean by “exist”?

      • Jazz: you need to give us some evidence. Most of us would follow the evidence; your problem is that you have none.

        Or do you? Don’t give us platitudes–give us evidence and argument to show an open-minded person that the Christian view is correct.

        (And I’m not sure that that’s the actual etymology of “Jesus.”)

        • Greg G.

          (And I’m not sure that that’s the actual etymology of “Jesus.”)

          You are correct. They didn’t speak English back then. “Jesus” comes from “Hey, Zeus!”

        • And here was I thinking it was from Joshua, “Yahweh saves”.
          I guess that’s why Paul cites verses talking about Zeus in Athens…

        • Greg G.

          Acts 17:23 has Paul trying to convince the Athenians that the Unknown God honored by an altar he saw is actually Yahweh. I understand that many sources speak of altars that honored “unknown gods” (plural) but none that honor a singular unknown god.

          Acts 17:28b says “As some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring,’” which appears to be a quote from Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus and/or Aratus’ Phaenomena.

        • Again, if everyone’s argument is the preposterousness of an all-powerful being, then surely you could concede that *if* such a being existed, He would be conscious/clever enough to come up with a good name on Earth?

        • al kimeea

          Allah seems a nice name.

        • Kodie

          No, no, we can’t name him Jesus Christ, it sounds like something you shout out when you stub your toe or your husband put the milk back in the fridge with one drop.

        • al kimeea

          Hey Seuss! Blasphemer.

        • I mean, I have evidence, but you won’t like it.

          My evidence is the hundreds of millions (billions?) of people documenting and/or confirming their own contact with God.

          I mean, that equates to every other type of evidence, but those people are crazy, so it doesn’t count…right?

        • Greg G.

          Animals have a hyperactive agency detection systems. It keeps us safe from predators and imagined threats.

        • Yes, and we know this because we are conscious beings capable of understanding systems and creating new ones.

        • My evidence is the hundreds of millions (billions?) of people documenting and/or confirming their own contact with God.
          I mean, that equates to every other type of evidence, but those people are crazy, so it doesn’t count…right?

          Well, sure. The Muslims are crazy, obviously. And the Hindus? Don’t get me started.

          Tell you what: let’s just start with the presupposition that every believer in the supernatural is nuts, except for your beliefs. Does that sound like a fair starting point?

        • No, I don’t think that every believer in the supernatural is nuts, so why would I join you in that presupposition?

        • Join me? That’s not my presupposition, either. Perhaps there’s a lesson here.

          But perhaps my initial point went over your head. You point to other believers to support your Christian position. But what good is that? You can’t agree with those believers on the names of the god(s). Heck, you can’t even agree on the number of gods.

          When you and your fellow believers are on the same page, get back to me. Until then, no, their completely incompatible views of the supernatural are no asset for you.

        • “Tell you what: [LET’S] just start with the presupposition that every believer in the supernatural is nuts, except for your beliefs. Does that sound like a fair starting point?”

          Perhaps I misunderstood?

          “You point to other believers to support your Christian position. But what good is that? You can’t agree with those believers on the names of the god(s). Heck, you can’t even agree on the number of gods.”

          Why would I presume to name a being that created, not just me, but the whole of everything, initially?

          I point to the whole of existence, and its endless examples of creation, as support for my position. I couch it in Christianity, because that is what I am most familiar with, and have not been given reason yet, in all of my existence, to denounce Christian teachings, when taken as a whole.

        • Perhaps I misunderstood?

          Does it sound like a fair starting point? I was being sarcastic, so I don’t think it is.

          You?

          Why would I presume to name a being that created, not just me, but the whole of everything, initially?

          Because you’ve been told his name? Or is this a trick question?

          I point to the whole of existence, and its endless examples of creation, as support for my position.

          Hold on—let me see if I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying that the uncanny ability of science to provide natural explanations, plus the lack of evidence for the supernatural, means that we should tentatively conclude that there is no supernatural. Is that right?

          I couch it in Christianity, because that is what I am most familiar with, and have not been given reason yet, in all of my existence, to denounce Christian teachings, when taken as a whole.

          May I suggest that the lack of evidence for Christianity and the tsunami of natural explanations for phenomena that used to have “God did it!” as the explanation indicates that Christianity is not a good worldview?

        • Kodie

          We’ve established that you’ve been taken in by their lies and go back out into the world to repeat them. People aren’t nuts, they’re just not as intelligent as you want to think.

        • Greg G.

          It is just that religion is very good at exploiting the fears and tendencies of humans, and installing the fears they need to exploit.

        • Kodie

          Thus creating a very special mental instability.

        • Kodie

          Crock.

      • Max Doubt

        “God presents himself in front of you every day and you bomb him and spit on him and tell him he has zero proof of his existence when he gives you a nice computer to talk all smarmy on.”

        You are probably unable to objectively distinguish between what you think of as a god and any other figment of your imagination. Remember, your god can’t do anything outside your own head. It can’t move things, bend things, shrink things or grow things. It has no weight, no length, no width, no color, no flavor, no smell. It doesn’t attract or repel anything by magnetism or gravity, and it doesn’t emit or absorb heat, sound, light, or any other radiation.

        There isn’t anything your god can do that I can’t do, and there are a few things I can do that your god quite clearly can’t. I have the power of visibility which is pretty awesome when you think about it. I can measurably change the state of the universe. And I can objectively demonstrate that I exist. Your god seems quite incapable of doing any of that, or anything at all beyond the borders of your very own mind. Since gods match pretty much all the criteria to define them as figments of individual’s imaginations, wouldn’t it be most reasonable to accept that’s what they are?

        • “You are probably unable to objectively distinguish between what you think of as a god and any other figment of your imagination…

          And I can objectively demonstrate that I exist.”

          Erm, not anymore, you can’t.

      • Michael Neville

        Jesus = “He’s us”

        Jesus is a Hispanic name and doesn’t have an English etymology.

        • Surely – since most/all of the anger towards religion seems to be based on the assumption that God is *totally* all-knowing and all-powerful – He would be clever enough to make his name on Earth work in multiple languages?

        • Michael Neville

          WTF? I’m fluent in two languages and can (or could) get by in two more but gibberish is not one of them. You need to work on being more lucid and comprehensible in your comments.

        • Right, but with that attitude, it seems unlikely that you are God (could be wrong, if so, thanks for everything).

          You can understand several languages enough, but did you invent the languages? If God invented all of the languages, he was probably smart enough to come up with a good name when he came to Earth.

        • Michael Neville

          Since fictitious, imaginary, non-existent critters don’t invent anything, you’re still in non sequitur land.

        • No I’m not. If you want to keep ignoring the point I am making that is fine. But I am very sequitur.

          Language exists. Skilled linguists exist.

        • Michael Neville

          But gods do not.

        • Kodie

          Jazz is just easily impressed because things rhyme so it must be god.

        • Well, yeah. “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” If it was true for OJ, it’s true for other domains as well.

        • Halbe

          Could you clarify “the point you are making”? Because I really have no idea. Nothing you have written so far seems to have any bearing on the OP afaics.

        • Kodie

          100% of the “anger” or any emotion toward the religion is the religious. The people who talk about the figment of their imagination as though he is real, the people who tell us we have to believe in the figment of their imagination and do what he says, or we need it to feel better, assuming we don’t do ok.

          Here you are showing us that Jesus rhymes and wow, how fucking gullible and easily impressed by shit are you? You think we’re mad at god? That’s a lie. That’s why we hate YOU. I can’t speak for others, but I am not especially fond of you and your donkey fucking lies.

          There’s no god to be mad at, but here you are, trying to hide behind “him” and not take responsibility.

        • Michael Neville

          I can’t speak for others, but I am not especially fond of you and your donkey fucking lies.

          You’re certainly speaking for me in this case.

        • Kodie

          I was more thinking “hate” is (for some) a very powerful word, and they don’t say they hate anyone just for having a different opinion. However, there is a certain level of irritation that they either have no idea they are doing, or have every intention of doing. I find jazzwitherspoon less than honest. He is all over the place, and quickly racking up a long list of typical Christian arguments without supporting any of them.

          Atheists are bleak
          Why do atheists hate god if they think he doesn’t exist
          Science doesn’t know everything
          I’m just here to offer you some help
          The universe was created from nothing
          Humans were created special
          You can’t prove god doesn’t exist
          Millions of believers can’t be wrong
          Historical ignorance – the earth and people are doing fine depleting the earth of resources that sustain us
          I’ll pray for you
          Rhyming makes it true

          That’s just in about 2-3 days and relatively few posts, maybe less than 50. From what I can tell, he doesn’t stick around supporting these turds of wisdom, he just keeps a pocketful of Christian tropes and thinks maybe one of them will land, or just to be especially irritating.

      • Kodie

        Awful lot of chitchat concerning this imaginary guy. What is this mythical bomb “him” and spit on “him” and tell “him” “he” has zero proof of “his existence”. My mom gave me this computer. It was invented by scientists and engineers and manufactured in probably China by babies.

        I don’t know any “him”.

      • Kevin K

        No, he doesn’t.

      • adam

        “God presents himself in front of you every day and you bomb him and spit
        on him and tell him he has zero proof of his existence when he gives
        you a nice computer to talk all smarmy on.”

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38a372d179f379b51cdb5f1c227e4a5bd6dd543347d09566c2aedd943b72e754.jpg

        God doesnt build computers Dell does.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Jesus = “He’s us”

        Where do you pull this crap from?

        God presents himself in front of you every day and you bomb him and spit on him and tell him he has zero proof of his existence when he gives you a nice computer to talk all smarmy on.

        How can you be so asinine with just the one head?

        Which god?

      • adam
  • RichardSRussell

    The Good Lord Above answers several important Easter questions here.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    I do not know what happened.

    Which is the more annoying claim to most atheists? 1) Jesus was bodily resurrected. 2) Jesus was spiritually resurrected.

    Or are both equally ridiculous?

    • Greg G.

      3) Jesus was imaginarily resurrected.

      • Daniel G. Johnson

        I think that may be a subset of spiritual resurrection…to image something for a reason. I could be wrong.

        • Greg G.

          I think spiritual resurrection would be a subset of imaginary resurrection. So would bodily resurrection.

        • Daniel G. Johnson

          ok

    • Michael Neville

      I find the bodily resurrection more annoying. Spiritual resurrection is really a meaningless noise, akin to “your deceased loved-one is in heaven now”. That’s a claim that doesn’t actually say anything and Jesus’ supposed spiritual resurrection is equally vague and inconsequential.

      Bodily resurrection is an extraordinary claim without extraordinary evidence. It argues for the divinity of Jesus but in an “everyone knows” sort of way. Nothing other than the collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible supports a bodily resurrection. So it’s annoying to me when Christians claim that “of course” Jesus had a bodily resurrection.

      • People get cardioverted every single day. Even a robot can do that.

        • Michael Neville

          Being defibrillated does not cause resurrection. As Miracle Max said of Westley in The Princess Bride: “He’s only mostly dead.” Try again.

        • Ah, so now we are arguing semantics, using quotes from movies?

        • Michael Neville

          No, I’m saying that defibrillation does not bring the dead back to life. Nothing brings the dead back to life. If you say that Jesus came back to life then you have to provide evidence for that claim. The collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible is not evidence.

        • Tony D’Arcy

          Man goes to doctor who tells him “Your heart is fucked ! But don’t worry, I’ll send you to the hospital where they have a de-fuckulater !”

        • Greg G.

          Doctor: You have ten to live.

          Patient: Ten what? Weeks? Months?

          Docor: Nine, eight, seven…

        • Halbe

          And? Are you claiming Jesus got CPR after the crucifixion? Your fellow Christians might have a slight problem with that…

        • Greg G.

          Are you claiming Jesus got CPR after the crucifixion?

          New theory: The Greeks invented a mechanical defribrillator made out of brass.

        • Kevin K

          Resuscitation is not the same thing as resurrection.

          You can try to resuscitate a cold-dead stinking body if you’d like — ain’t gonna work. But you’d probably be arrested for abusing a corpse.

      • Daniel G. Johnson

        Well, the goofy thing to me is that while for some Christians, Jesus got a bodily resurrection (some Christians go with spiritual), the vast majority of Christians only want a spiritual resurrection for themselves. How did that happen? In the Judaism of Jesus’ day (Pharisaic & Essenes as opposed to Saducees) , all good Jews got a bodily resurrection in the messianic era. So, Christianity developed a bifurcated resurrection: bodily for Jesus; spiritual for Jesus’ peeps.

        Lewis Black says: I’m stayin’ right here. I get this.”

        • Clement Agonistes

          If Revelation counts as what the majority of Christians want, then both spiritual and, eventually, bodily resurrection happen. Most Christians would probably agree that they are good with whatever God decides, and such debates are for entertainment value only.

        • Ficino

          I never heard that a mere spiritual resurrection of believers is Christian doctrine. Usually it’s that the soul w/o the body goes to heaven or hell (or Purgatory) and then at the last day, all bodies are resurrected and united to the souls. In the ancient creeds, the resurrection of the dead refers to the bodily resurrection of all people.

          I think only the Jehovah’s Witnesses and some other sects insist that the soul is not conscious between the person’s death and the resurrection of the dead at the last day.

        • Pofarmer

          Certain Christian sects only believe in the later, bodily resurrection, and not the spiritual one first. I didn’t really realize that until my Grandmother funeral a few years ago.

        • Daniel G. Johnson

          Do you think a lot of ordinary Christians have the re-connection idea? Most I’ve known is the: heaven or hell gig, and then that’s it. (I’ve also not met a lot of Christians who are credal scholars.)

        • Daniel G. Johnson

          As I think more about your point, I suppose it would be an interesting term paper or dissertation to do an exhaustive history of the re-connection concept. It would be a later development generally. It would not be a Jewish idea…specifically a Jewish-Christian idea of the first century.

          But back to bodily resurrection specifically. Do you have a notion as to why Jews came up with it?…as opposed to just going with spiritual resurrection/afterlife?

          Then. You know what the most fantastic aspect of this bodily resurrection of Jesus is…..most people don’t think of it…even Christians:

          The Ascension.

  • Dave Griffin

    If you really care about annoying claims, try any which is either completely unfalsifiable, too physically absurd / revolting to be worth considering, or both. With a brutally executed dead guy walking around and displaying his stars, you have a winner there which is hard to miss unless you were preconditioned to accept it. Like I was, and now I see the terrifyingly, gruesomely violent story for what it is. The purpose (said gods gift of forgiveness) is insult on top of injury unless, like Hitler and Mussolini, you accept the ends as justification for the means. Anyway, a God who cannot settle his issues with his own creation when they behave just as he created them to be without killing his own son would be more in need of forgiveness than any of us. Also, if you believe the Creation myth, give it some thought: what use did people like Adam and Eve have for a four pound brain if they really existed in such a garden)?

  • Clement Agonistes

    Forgive me for being so late (2 years) to the table, but are you guys vouching for the “atheists and Agnostics of Wisconsin” timeline on the Gospels? 50 years as the earliest? You don’t think that is, maybe, some serious spin, as opposed to well-researched”?

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone suggest that the Gospels did not exist in verbal form before they were written? I mean, Paul referenced verbally teaching the gospel in his letters from the 50s.- 2 decades removed from Jesus’ death. The expert consensus is that Mark was written 30 – 35 years after Jesus’ death. The written form would just be formalizing the existing verbal versions that everyone was familiar with.

    Hey, can any of you born after, say, 1960 think that you could get a pretty close approximation to the lyrics of the Ballad of Jed Clampett or Gilligan’s Island? How about if those lyrics were of epic importance in your life? Do you think that if you had not heard them for 50 years you could still remember them?

    And, then there is the niggling over differing emphases of the accounts. “Oh, God wouldn’t do that.” atheists, who know what God thinks. Now there’s a bizarre concept!

    • The gospels are thought to have been written down in roughly 70 (Mark) to 90 or 100 (John). Are you saying the consensus says something else?

      Yes, the gospels were likely the written form of stories circulating in that church at that time.

      Do you think that if you had not heard them for 50 years you could still remember them?

      Who knows? There’s a big difference between a vivid memory and an accurate one. I’ve written several posts about our fallible memories.

      atheists, who know what God thinks. Now there’s a bizarre concept!

      If I could know for certain what God would or wouldn’t do, perhaps I could say something with certainty. But that’s not my goal.

      We’re given claims about Christianity. Do they make sense? It doesn’t matter what God would do; the buck stops with me, and I need to decide on the incomplete evidence I have with the imperfect brain I have.

      • Clement Agonistes

        The consensus on Mark is that it was written between 66 and 70 (you are choosing the latest, but at least you are within the consensus). So, let’s do the math and see how your source does.

        Jesus dies in 33.
        Mark is written in 70.
        70 – 33 = 37.

        The absolute earliest that you source allows for the writing of Mark is 50 years. This would be 13 years prior to that, at best (70 was the extreme possibility).

        Even 33 years after the event would be enough to make your point. Why insinuate that it could have been as much as a century afterward? Well, that doesn’t serve the desired narrative, does it? If your source is willing to throw accuracy to the wind in order to serve an agenda, what else are they willing to do in service to that cause?

        The memories of witnesses are notorious for having discrepancies. It is what we should expect. Here, there is an expectation of perfection. Only if the accounts are exactly the same are the accounts credible. Of course, if they were identical, then they could be dismissed for copying each other. This isn’t an exercise in trying to find the truth; it is an exercise in confirmation bias.

        [Paraphrasing] “It only makes sense that God would do what I say he would do. There are no other conceivable options.” You are absolutely correct that eventually it all comes down to what makes sense to us. The vast majority of the time we see what we expected to see. Nothing is so difficult as stepping out of ourselves and seeing things with fresh eyes. You looked at poor information, couldn’t see that it was poor, and passed it on, vouching for its truthfulness. And, now that you are aware of the truth, you will set the record straight.

        . . . . . or keep on doing what your audience expects from you.

        Can people change their minds after all?

        • Greg G.

          The consensus on Mark is that it was written between 66 and 70 (you are choosing the latest, but at least you are within the consensus). So, let’s do the math and see how your source does.

          Jesus dies in 33.
          Mark is written in 70.
          70 – 33 = 37.

          The absolute earliest that you source allows for the writing of Mark is 50 years. This would be 13 years prior to that, at best (70 was the extreme possibility).

          From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel#cite_note-ReferenceB-42

          Scholars variously assess the majority (though not the consensus[40]) view as follows:

          Mark: c. 68–73,[41] c. 65–70.[42]

          I lean toward the mid-70s for Mark. But I have seen arguments for the crucifixion being in 30. However, I think the story is fiction so there were no actual events to date from. Paul never mentions Pilate. He mentions King Aretas in 2 Corinthians 11:32 but he was in power for nearly 50 years beginning in the BC era, so we don’t have a definite way to date him precisely.

          Even 33 years after the event would be enough to make your point. Why insinuate that it could have been as much as a century afterward? Well, that doesn’t serve the desired narrative, does it? If your source is willing to throw accuracy to the wind in order to serve an agenda, what else are they willing to do in service to that cause?

          The later date is for the other gospels. Luke has so many parallels with Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews that can only be from Luke actually using that writing, that Luke had to be later than that, so no earlier than the very end of the first century. But there is reason to think it may be from Marcion’s time.

          The memories of witnesses are notorious for having discrepancies. It is what we should expect. Here, there is an expectation of perfection. Only if the accounts are exactly the same are the accounts credible. Of course, if they were identical, then they could be dismissed for copying each other. This isn’t an exercise in trying to find the truth; it is an exercise in confirmation bias.

          Paul never met Jesus. Everything he knows comes from OT scripture that was already centuries old. He argues that his knowledge is not inferior to the “super-apostles”, a ballsy statement if he thought they knew Jesus. The “according to the scriptures” in 1 Corinthians 15 tells you that the “appeared to” is about revelation from the scriptures, not a manifestation of a dead guy. That comes from reading the fictional gospels back into the epistles.

          [Paraphrasing] “It only makes sense that God would do what I say he would do. There are no other conceivable options.” You are absolutely correct that eventually it all comes down to what makes sense to us. The vast majority of the time we see what we expected to see. Nothing is so difficult as stepping out of ourselves and seeing things with fresh eyes. You looked at poor information, couldn’t see that it was poor, and passed it on, vouching for its truthfulness. And, now that you are aware of the truth, you will set the record straight.

          . . . . . or keep on doing what your audience expects from you.

          Can people change their minds after all?

          Paul expected the Messiah to come during his lifetime. Later epistles forged in his name had to make excuses like “a thousand years to the Lord is like a second”. Christians have been misreading the Bible for two thousand years because of tradition. Christians say that the serpent in the Garden of Eden was the devil. Even Paul says something about it. Then why did God punish serpents?

        • Clement Agonistes

          The article you cite from Wikipedia states in the topic above that one (Origins) that “scholars generally agree that early oral traditions … precede the canonical gospels.” The entire idea of having to remember 50 year old events from scratch is absurd,

          But, let’s plunge on anyway as if common sense didn’t exist. The quote you cite from that article was talking about the Gospels in general, not Mark in particular. No matter how generous we are with the facts, gMark is still written long before Bob’s a&A of WI assertion.

          They could have said “30 – 70” years after, covered their bases, and still made their point. Instead, they chose to stretch the truth beyond the breaking point. Combine that with the ignoring of the oral tradition, and you have Bob citing people who set out to deceive their readers because their cause was more important than the truth.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Why would a still living God need oral traditions or books to preserve the events? Perhaps God expired and no longer exists? Maybe God is stuck on some remote planet and made use of the greater mobility of written language? Maybe Jesus is an invalid or an ilusive cryptid, so people made up stories of what they wished Jesus could do and say?

        • Jim Jones

          > Why would a still living God need oral traditions or books to preserve the events?

          “Then I began to see that not just the scribal text but the original text itself was a very human book. This stood very much at odds with how I had regarded the text in my late teens as a newly minted “born-again” Christian, convinced that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God and that the biblical words themselves had come to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

          As I realized already in graduate school, even if God had inspired the original words, we don’t have the original words. So the doctrine of inspiration was in a sense irrelevant to the Bible as we have it, since the words God reputedly inspired had been changed and, in some cases, lost.

          Moreover, I came to think that my earlier views of inspiration were not only irrelevant, they were probably wrong. For the only reason (I came to think) for God to inspire the Bible would be so that his people would have his actual words; but if he really wanted people to have his actual words, surely he would have miraculously preserved those words, just as he had miraculously inspired them in the first place.

          Given the circumstance that he didn’t preserve the words, the conclusion seemed inescapable to me that he hadn’t gone to the trouble of inspiring them.”

          Misquoting Jesus – Bart Ehrman

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          More like there is no need to “inspire” a religious text when omnipresence allows one to not need written language’s easier transportation. Immortality means the writing won’t outlive the author to preserve their thoughts. Maybe God has a poor memory? Text is also a more limited form of communication as we often lament on Disqus. If a God exists, the existence of the texts and books arguing for its existence makes no sense.

        • Clement Agonistes

          That would probably go hand-in-hand with why God would give us the ability to reject Him in the first place.

        • Kodie

          Definitely goes hand-in-hand with a man-made cult.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          God doesn’t mention anything about people rejecting it. I certainly don’t remember that happening.

        • Clement Agonistes

          He didn’t say anything to you about it? Not in any of your numerous conversations?

          Well, that’s hard to explain.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          God did tell me that he will not confirm anything about his Gospel I have presented to you. “You will just have to trust in what God said”, he told me to tell you.

        • Pofarmer

          I realized something else this morning as I was cruising through facebook. All of these posts by Christians extolling “Jesus is Risen, Truly he is the King, Hallelujah”. Or some version thereof.

          Uhm, no, no he isn’t. Jesus is no more with us here today than he was Friday.

          And there is no reason that the Ancient people saw it any other way. There is absolutely no need of any historical figure. At all.

        • Greg G.

          The article you cite from Wikipedia states in the topic above that one (Origins) that “scholars generally agree that early oral traditions … precede the canonical gospels.” The entire idea of having to remember 50 year old events from scratch is absurd,

          In Galatians, Paul spent the first two chapters discrediting Cephas and James and is still sarcastic about the circumcision faction in Galatians 5:12, wishing they would castrate themselves. He rhetorically asks the Galatians who has bewitched them. It is most likely Cephas and James because he could have said that the Galatians could have asked Cephas if they had been to the tomb on Easter. Instead, he quotes OT verse after OT verse in Galatians 3:6-14 to demonstrate that the Lord was crucified, never mind the unsound structure of his logic.

          But, let’s plunge on anyway as if common sense didn’t exist. The quote you cite from that article was talking about the Gospels in general, not Mark in particular. No matter how generous we are with the facts, gMark is still written long before Bob’s a&A of WI assertion.

          Some argue that Mark was written after 80. The article itself doesn’t rely on the dating, it is about the inconsistency. That’s easier to explain if the gospels were written 50 years later rather than 50 days later.

          They could have said “30 – 70” years after, covered their bases, and still made their point. Instead, they chose to stretch the truth beyond the breaking point. Combine that with the ignoring of the oral tradition, and you have Bob citing people who set out to deceive their readers because their cause was more important than the truth.

          That’s an irrelevant detail of the graphic. They make their point with or without the date. There is no definite starting point for the date. The 30-33AD dates are guesses anyway. The gospels can’t even get it straight whether Jesus was arrested before or after the Passover meal. The crucifixion story is supposed to imitate the scapegoat ritual for the taking away of sin, but that is an Atonement Day ritual which is months after the Passover. The Passover is not a sin offering.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Some argue” that Matthew was written before 70 A.D. That is an extreme view, and I think you’d agree that we ought to stick with what the mainstream of experts say rather than the fringe.

          Passover remembers when God’s people were liberated from slavery (of sin), and spared from (eternal) death.

        • Greg G.

          “Some argue” that Matthew was written before 70 A.D. That is an extreme view, and I think you’d agree that we ought to stick with what the mainstream of experts say rather than the fringe.

          I think the tradition that Matthew was the original gospel is wrong. It is clear that Matthew copied Mark so it must be later than Mark. But if there was ever a field of study where the consensus of scholars should be questioned, it is one where the consensus is cited instead of the evidence for which the consensus is based.

          The nativity story in Matthew has many parallels to the nativity story of Moses with the king/pharaoh wanting all males under 2 years of age killed. But in the Bible account, the pharaoh is trying to reduce the population of the Jews and there is no account of the baby’s father being warned in a dream. In both Josephus’ account in Antiquities 2 and in Matthew, the king/pharaoh acts to eliminate male babies regarding a prophecy but the father is warned in a dream. In Antiquities 17 is an account of Herod having some relatives killed and a mention of Pharisees having the power of prophecy which may have been turned into wise men. The Bible and Josephus describe the use of gold, frankincense, and myrrh but Matthew lists them in the same order that Josephus does, not in the order in the OT. That is evidence that Matthew was using Antiquities and would be from the late 90s or the second century.

          Passover remembers when God’s people were liberated from slavery (of sin), and spared from (eternal) death.

          Nope. That is just Christian spin doctoring. For the Jews, Passover is about the escape from slavery. All but two, IIRC, of the Hebrews even made it to Israel. Atonement Day is a few months later and is about an escape from sin.

          But Egyptian archaeology shows us that the Hebrews were never in Egypt in large numbers. Archaeology of the Sinai shows that there was never a large group of people wandering around for 40 years. Israeli archaeology shows us that the Hebrews were just Canaanites with a different religion, at least, it shows pretty much identical cultures where some sites had pig bones and some didn’t.

          The Bible heroes with lots of hair, Elijah and Samson, for example, are sun god legends turned into people. Bald Elisha would be a moon god made human because of monotheism.

        • Kevin K

          Matthew fixes some of Mark’s more-egregiously bad geography, doesn’t he?

        • Greg G.

          Yes, he does try to patch up a few things. Mark has Jesus teaching about divorce but he is following the script in 1 Corinthians 7:10-12 where Paul is writing to people who lived under the law that allowed women to divorce their husbands though, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 has no such provision. Matthew drops the part about the women divorcing men since Jesus was talking to his disciples who would never have thought about that.

          I wonder if Matthew knew all that stuff or if he was trying to rehabilitate Mark after reading a critique.

        • Kevin K

          Why would people assert Matthew was first if it’s clear that he had the better geography? Surely, they’re not claiming independent provenance, are they?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, one wonders why Luke decided to go it alone on the geography test rather than crib from Matt?

        • Kevin K

          I’ m also puzzled by the disparate genealogies. Since so much of one is a direct lift from the other — why spend any time at all on a completely and utterly different genealogy?

          We’ll never get to the bottom of it. But the one thing we can say for certain — they weren’t divinely inspired; else there would be no disagreement.

        • Greg G.

          I think Luke saw the problems with Matthew’s genealogy. Matthew makes a big deal about there being three set of 14 generations. In ancient numerology, David’s name spelled in Hebrew was “DVD” or “4 + 6 + 4” in numerology. But Matthew omitted 4 names from the second set of fourteen while including a name who was cursed. The final set of fourteen is only thirteen generations. It is no wonder that Luke would have rejected it.

          Luke produces a genealogy from the Septuagint (Cainan is not in the Masoretic version) that has God as generation 1 and Jesus as generation 77. The Abraham to David line is the same as Matthew’s and each are on multiples of seven. But Luke departs from the Solomon line. Perhaps monarchy succession wasn’t important to Luke and it avoids some problematic issues. Several names are very similar to Josephus’ Hasmonean heritage. Nahum and Amos are also the names of OT prophets with OT books named for them. There are two ancestors named Melchi which could be a play on Malachi while Naggai could be a play on Haggai.

          Randel Helms, Who Wrote the Gospels? Millenium Press, 1997, argues that Luke may have been an upper-class woman who lost a child, among other details. Bernard D. Muller, The Great Omission in Luke’s Gospel, makes a similar argument with very little overlap with Helms, so together they provide nearly two dozen reasons for the conclusion. If Helms argument is correct, Luke may have rejected Matthew’s nativity story because of the baby killing. Luke would then have created a story based on the census from the beginning of Antiquities of the Jews 18.

        • Clement Agonistes

          When the science supports you, you embrace it. When it contradicts you, you reject it. “Some argue” is not a good standard.

          Since we’re going off on the trivia tangent, have you ever understood why gMark is considered to be the first written Gospel? It’s the shortest, and it makes more sense that a short version was added to than a long version being edited down. My own personal experience is that I would have several versions of my own account, starting a draft version and then as many edited versions as time allows.

          The Christian version of your spin is that recurring themes are evidence of God.

        • Greg G.

          When the science supports you, you embrace it. When it contradicts you, you reject it. “Some argue” is not a good standard.

          If tradition is supported by the evidence, I accept it. If it is contradicted, I reject it.

          Since we’re going off on the trivia tangent, have you ever understood why gMark is considered to be the first written Gospel? It’s the shortest, and it makes more sense that a short version was added to than a long version being edited down. My own personal experience is that I would have several versions of my own account, starting a draft version and then as many edited versions as time allows.

          There are many reasons I take gMark to be the first gospel. It’s length is not one of them though the stories being shortened in the other synoptics is an argument. Mostly it is that gMark has passages that are missing in the other gospels. It is easier to understand if the other gospels omitted them for theological reasons but it makes no sense for aMark to have added them.

          The Christian version of your spin is that recurring themes are evidence of God.

          We have recurring themes from Homer’s Odyssey throughout history from Virgil’s Aeneid to O Brother, Where Art Thou? That is evidence of Zeus. Either that, or it is just how literature works.

          But we see 45,000 different Christian denominations and growing. If they were on to some truth, they should have converged by now. At best, they agree on enough things to be considered Christian. This makes Jesus’ prayer the biggest prayer failure of all time:

          John 17:20-23 (NRSV)20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

          To make it a success, Christians would have to be in agreement enough to be impressive to the rest of us. Instead, it looks like any other religion invented by humans.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “The Biggest Prayer Failure Of All Time”. Catchy phrase. Somebody ought to use that as a title for a blog entry.

          Not all prayers get answered, huh? Well, not at first.

        • Greg G.

          “The Biggest Prayer Failure Of All Time”. Catchy phrase. Somebody ought to use that as a title for a blog entry.

          I stole the argument from Neil Carter who titled his blog post as The Most Fantastically Failed Prayer in History. It’s an even better title.

          Not all prayers get answered, huh? Well, not at first.

          Sure, something happens occasionally that is similar to something that was prayed that you can pretend was an answer but most get put on the back burner and forgotten. This one has been stale forever. We see disagreement in Paul’s letters. We see lots of variations of Christianity by the second century. We see Christians killing one another over their differences of opinion. The only way to make the prayer appear true now is to lie about the past until everybody forgets about two thousand years of disagreement.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Or, Christians will be unifed in Heaven.

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          It would still be the biggest prayer failure of all time because it has to impress the world, not heaven.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Because, the world needs to see the Disciples being one?

        • adam

          “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
          that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in
          you…that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me… ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/71f3381208d933f12f13799886a78bdcc552c0093e78866bebadf67a538af4a4.jpg

          By Jesus’s own words

        • Greg G.

          The passage says, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word.” So Jesus is not limiting the agreement to disciples but to all believers.

        • Clement Agonistes

          There are 20 verses in that passage. In only 2 of them, Jesus pauses from talking about the Disciples, and then goes immediately back to talking about the Disciples:

          “I have given them the glory you gave me [taught the Disciples what God had given Jesus.], that they [Ds] may be one as we [God and Jesus] — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then, the world [now we are back to the others] will know that you sent me and have loved them [Ds, again] even as you have loved me.”

          90% of that passage is about the Disciples. You took something that was only 10% true and tried to present it as 100% true. You took a square Christian peg and tried to pound it into a round atheist hole. This is not an exercise in seeking truth, but of serving bias.

        • Greg G.

          Read it again but pay attention to the beginning where it says, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word.” It could not be more clear that the prayer is not about only those present.

          But even if I grant that it is about the disciples only, Judas is still present so the prayer still fails and you cannot hang on to the hope that it will be fulfilled eventually. If it is reduced to a dozen people, it cannot be impressive to the world. People have been sentenced to death by 12 people and exonerated later.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I agree with you that Jesus prays for non-Disciples in v 20-21. Jesus prays that n-Ds “will believe in me” through the message (“glory”) Jesus had given the Ds. N-Ds would then be one with Jesus and the Ds. Jesus would be one with n-Ds in Heaven. He won’t be around 24 hours later to be one with new Christians.

          I read that whole discourse as trying to stop the infighting the Ds were prone to. The next years are going to be rough ones for them.

          If you just want to rub it in that Christians have failed miserably to live up to their stated principles, you have my whole-hearted agreement.

        • Greg G.

          Sigh. The rest of the sentence in the next verse is “that the all may be as one.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Our translations differ slightly, but I included that thought in my summary above. How can Jesus be one with Christians who don’t exist (haven’t been converted) yet? That he will never meet on Earth?

          Only in Heaven – “to be with me where I am.” (v. 24)

          This is a tough, tough read. The reference to “those you have given me” fits well with the idea that not everyone has been given to Jesus – only some.

        • Greg G.

          The prayer fails if he only meant disciples because of Judas, remember? So, it fails whether it includes everybody else in attendance or everybody alive in the world. So it can also not include everybody across time.

          That leaves all believers at any given point in time. That has never happened.

          It cannot be in heaven as it is supposed to be in order to impress the world. The world can’t see heaven.

          It isn’t really a tough read. It’s only tough if you try to read it as not a failure.

        • The consensus on Mark is that it was written between 66 and 70 (you are choosing the latest, but at least you are within the consensus).

          You say the consensus is 70 or a little earlier? What I’ve read is that it’s 70 or a little later.

          If you have evidence of the former (that it’s the consensus view, not that this or that scholar accepts it), I’d like to see it.

          The absolute earliest that you source allows for the writing of Mark is 50 years. This would be 13 years prior to that, at best (70 was the extreme possibility).

          And there’s my question: 70 as the extreme outside possibility is not at all the consensus view as I understand it.

          Even 33 years after the event would be enough to make your point. Why insinuate that it could have been as much as a century afterward?

          Because they include John. Or is this a trick question?

          If your source is willing to throw accuracy to the wind in order to serve an agenda, what else are they willing to do in service to that cause?

          I think you’re splitting hairs. If you’re saying that the outside date for John is 110, which gives 80 (not 100) as the date for the latest gospel after the event, I can accept that. I assume that the “50 to 100” that’s got you concerned was rounding. That’s not what I would’ve done, but it’s not an egregious error.

          The memories of witnesses are notorious for having discrepancies. It is what we should expect.

          Fair enough. Given that, what then do we do with the incredible, unbelievable stuff the gospels have in them?

          Here, there is an expectation of perfection.

          I expect that the omnipotent Creator of the Universe can get out a message that is unambiguous and that doesn’t look like yet another nutty supernatural tale told by a prescientific, credulous society.

          [Paraphrasing] “It only makes sense that God would do what I say he would do. There are no other conceivable options.”

          No, try again. [Quoting exactly] “We’re given claims about Christianity. Do they make sense? It doesn’t matter what God would do; the buck stops with me, and I need to decide on the incomplete evidence I have with the imperfect brain I have.”

          Respond to this version.

          You looked at poor information, couldn’t see that it was poor, and passed it on, vouching for its truthfulness. And, now that you are aware of the truth, you will set the record straight.

          You’re right that, instead of “50 to 100 years,” I would’ve put “40 to 80 years.” Thank you working together to get that straight.

          Can people change their minds after all?

          Show me compelling evidence of something important to change my mind on, and let’s see. You’ve already discovered that I’m quite happy to correct small issues.

        • Jim Jones

          “If the Bible and my brain are both the work of the same infinite god, whose fault is it that the book and my brain do not agree?”

          — Robert G. Ingersoll

        • Clement Agonistes

          I have 2 points here:

          1. 50 years as a date for the first written Gospel is factually incorrect, given the state of the art in studies of the Gospels. I think I have already shown you compelling evidence that changed your mind, and you have resolved the error to my satisfaction — kudos to you for that.

          2. The implication that the Gospels were only known to 1st century Christians through vague memories 50 – 100 years after the fact. I include in this your cite’s list of differences between the details of the Gospels.

          a. The majority (tip of the hat to Greg, again) of experts agree that the Gospels had an oral tradition before they were put in writing. Paul is on record discussing the gospel he transmitted orally decades before the written versions.

          b. It is widely agreed that the 4 Gospels had differing emphases. Like normal eyewitness (Peter was Mark’s source) accounts, we would expect to see differences in significance. Add in the different audiences and themes, and it would be even moreso.

          On the topic of atheists defining God’s thought process, you did it in your reply, above:
          “I expect that the omnipotent Creator of the Universe can get out a message that is unambiguous …”

        • 1. Thanks for the kudos, but I think you’ve made far too much of this minor issue.

          a. The majority (tip of the hat to Greg, again) of experts agree that the Gospels had an oral tradition before they were put in writing.

          Was there a disagreement about this?

          Paul is on record discussing the gospel he transmitted orally decades before the written versions.

          I’ve written about this “Gospel of Paul.” Yes, he preceded Mark. I don’t know what that gives you, because the Jesus of Paul’s writings is pretty sparse.

          On the topic of atheists defining God’s thought process, you did it in your reply, above:
          “I expect that the omnipotent Creator of the Universe can get out a message that is unambiguous …”

          Show me an alternative.

          We humans are given the God hypothesis. We have no better option than to evaluate it as seems plausible to us. It could be that God has all sorts of properties that would startle either of us, but why imagine that?

        • Clement Agonistes

          My claim is that God is the wisest possible being. Your claim is that the decisions of God make no sense to you. IMO, those 2 statements are not mutually exclusive. An infinitely wise being might make decisions that seem unwise to a less-wise being. My alternative is that God has a good reason for choosing to communicate His messages in a manner that is not 100% clear to 100% of people.

          The Jesus of Paul’s writing sticks with the major points, rather then the trivial details that your post addresses, Is the major point of 9/11 that Delta Flight 11 hit the South Building at 8:03, or that thousands of people died and America went to war against al Qaeda?

          Your source made factual errors. You dismiss those errors in much the same way you see Christians dismissing disagreements over details of Jesus. That’s because you know the truth, and the truth is more important that the minor details. You put on atheist-colored glasses, and then see everything in an atheist hue. It’s what humans do.

        • Greg G.

          The Jesus of Paul’s writing sticks with the major points, rather then the trivial details that your post addresses,

          Paul’s writings have “Jesus”, “Christ”, “Jesus Christ”, or “Christ Jesus” 300 times in about 1500 verses of the authentic Pauline epistles. That’s once for every five verses. He loved talking about Jesus but it’s mostly adulation about the Lord in heaven. Yet he doesn’t see fit to give any detail?

          Paul’s Sources about Jesus is an older post of mine that shows the details Paul gives past, present, and future, citing the verse where Paul gives it and where the information can be found in the Old Testament.

          It doesn’t appear that Paul knew anything about a first century Jesus but he insists that his knowledge is not inferior to the the knowledge of the “super-apostles.” He says he spent time with Cephas and met James. Did they fail to mention that they knew Jesus? Or is Paul telling us that he knows they didn’t know of a first century Jesus either?

        • Clement Agonistes

          You have cited a couple of chapters from the Corinthians toady, and both mentioned crucifixion and resurrection – 1st century Jesus events of some note. Of course Peter, et. al. brought it up. They also discussed how to keep angry Christians from beating the snot out of Paul (loving people that they were). They traveled together. I cannot imagine them having common cause and it not coming up.

          Paul also discussed the Lord’s Supper – another 1st century event. I am baffled that you could arrive at such a conclusion as Paul knew nothing when that seems to be at total odds with what Paul wrote.

        • Greg G.

          You have cited a couple of chapters from the Corinthians toady, and both mentioned crucifixion and resurrection – 1st century Jesus events of some note. Of course Peter, et. al. brought it up. They also discussed how to keep angry Christians from beating the snot out of Paul (loving people that they were). They traveled together. I cannot imagine them having common cause and it not coming up.

          1 Corinthians 15:3-8 says “according to the scriptures” about “appeared to”. Paul used the same word for “appeared to” for his revelation that he did for the others, which means he didn’t think it was any different that his own. Since his revelation was from reading scripture and he claims his knowledge was not inferior, it follows that he was not saying they saw a resurrected Jesus. He goes on in the following verses to argue for the resurrection. Apparently Cephas was the first to start reading the scriptures that way, followed by others.

          Paul also discussed the Lord’s Supper – another 1st century event. I am baffled that you could arrive at such a conclusion as Paul knew nothing when that seems to be at total odds with what Paul wrote.

          1 Corinthians 10:14-22 has a pattern where Paul gives an exhoratation, asks a question or two, then answers the questions using the same metaphor as the questions. But in the third sequence, there is no answer. We do find the answer in 1 Corinthians 11:30-31. That indicates a seam where an interpolation happened. So 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 is a small part of a large interpolation, probably taken from Luke who got it from Mark. The story seems to draw from Psalm 41:9 for the breaking of bread and Isaiah 53:12 for the “pouring out”. That is how aMark seems to have built some of his stories by combining a couple of OT passages, often with other literature.

          PS: the small part of the interpolation would be from Luke 22:15-20. The rest of 1 Cor 10 is similar to 1 Cor 8:1, 6-13. 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 shows similarity to the Pastorals.

        • My claim is that God is the wisest possible being.

          And this is meaningless until this “God” person exists. The burden of proof is yours.

          Your claim is that the decisions of God make no sense to you.

          I say that the God, as claimed by some Christians, is not a particularly benevolent being; therefore, the claim that the Christian god is an omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving being is false (based on the obvious caveats that I’ve mentioned before).

          An infinitely wise being might make decisions that seem unwise to a less-wise being.

          Very true. And very irrelevant, since that’s not what we’re wrestling with.

          My alternative is that God has a good reason for choosing to communicate His messages in a manner that is not 100% clear to 100% of people.

          An interesting hypothesis. (You can imagine what I’ll demand that you do next.)

          The Jesus of Paul’s writing sticks with the major points

          Of the gospel story? No, hardly at all.

          Your source made factual errors. You dismiss those errors in much the same way you see Christians dismissing disagreements over details of Jesus.

          Have you mentioned these errors to me? If I’ve made errors, I want to correct them.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The (your) hypothetical we are discussing is what we would expect God to do. God, you claim, would not give us an imperfect view, seen dimly as if through foggy glass, of Himself. This is one of the ways we can know that God does not exist. Your claim requires no proof as it is only considered as a hypothetical. The same rule applies to me (we are fair, aren’t we?).

          We are also discussing the Christian concept of God. That means considering all of the qualities attributed to God by Christianity. While the message itself my be one of beneficence, that is not the point. The point is whether that message must be unambiguous. God could certainly make no effort at all to communicate the message, but that (again, given the Christian premise) is not the case. You willingly accept the premises of total power and total knowledge, but total wisdom is where you draw the line. You can never be totally powerful or totally knowledgeable, but totally wise is a trophy you already have displayed proudly on your mantle for all to see. So, no, you don’t get to exclude wisdom from the hypothetical as long as Christianity is the topic. God could have a perfectly good, wise reason for His communication decision.

          The “gospel” is the good news that we are meant for something better than death. Paul relates that Jesus is God, came to Earth to die for our benefit (sounds beneficent to me, but your mileage may vary), and then rose from the dead, proving we can do the same. Those are the major points of the gospel. Everything else is derivative. Paul taught the major points. You want to quibble about minor details.

          You made the error of automatically accepting what a sympathetic source erroneously stated as fact. Not only have I mentioned this error (surely after 2 years, I was not the first?), but you have already acknowledged it. Do we really need to play this game? We are not children, here.

        • The (your) hypothetical we are discussing is what we would expect God to do. God, you claim, would not give us an imperfect view, seen dimly as if through foggy glass, of Himself. This is one of the ways we can know that God does not exist.

          Yes, except that we don’t know anything in this domain. It’s probabilities.

          While the message itself my be one of beneficence, that is not the point.

          The Christian benevolence claim fails our honest evaluation; therefore, the Christian claim should be rejected as being unlikely.

          The point is whether that message must be unambiguous.

          Must be? Not a claim I make. I say that an omnipotent and omniscient god could trivially make an unambiguous message that would be clearly understood by everyone.

          You willingly accept the premises of total power and total knowledge, but total wisdom is where you draw the line. You can never be totally powerful or totally knowledgeable, but totally wise is a trophy you already have displayed proudly on your mantle for all to see.

          Huh? I don’t claim to have total knowledge. This has been plain in my previous comments.

          God could have a perfectly good, wise reason for His communication decision.

          I’ve already agreed to this, and I’ve already dismissed it as irrelevant. Let’s not bring it up again.

          The “gospel” is the good news that we are meant for something better than death.

          Not particularly good news when part of it is that we’re worthless sinners who deserve to die.

          Paul relates that Jesus is God, came to Earth to die for our benefit (sounds beneficent to me, but your mileage may vary), and then rose from the dead, proving we can do the same.

          I don’t think “Jesus rose from the dead, and you can do the very same thing!” is what Christianity claims.

          Those are the major points of the gospel.

          The short paragraph of Jesus that comes from 1 Cor. 15 (or all of Paul’s writings if you prefer) is a very different gospel than you get from any of the canonical. Seems to me that you dismiss the remaining 99.9% rather quickly, but this is a tangential discussion.

          You made the error of automatically accepting what a sympathetic source erroneously stated as fact. Not only have I mentioned this error (surely after 2 years, I was not the first?), but you have already acknowledged it. Do we really need to play this game? We are not children, here.

          I’m not so sure. If I were to write it, I’d say 40-80 years. It actually says 50-100 years. It was a guest post, and not mine to change. You keep bringing this up, and I can’t figure out why. You’ve found a small tangential error . . . so what?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Everything hinges on God having infinite wisdom. Christians need that attribute, and atheists cannot even consider it. If God is wise, then everything else follows. The 2-yr-old doesn’t perceive vaccines as sensible because he doesn’t have the necessary wisdom. You can dispense knowledge until you are blue in the face, and the 2yo will not grasp the benefit. it is just cruel and immoral.

          40 years still doesn’t cover your bases. If Mark was written at the early end of when experts think it was written, that’s 33 years (66 – 33 = 33).

        • adam

          “Everything hinges on God having infinite wisdom.”

          So then WHERE does a God get ‘infinite wisdom’

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/13282502375d3da24cf6b663f813609c25b2ff6c1bdd9b750a6d095cf6c73c07.jpg

        • eric

          We could be 2-year olds at the doctor’s office. Or we could be pigs in a slaughterhouse. That’s the problem with claiming God’s choices are inscrutable – it’s consistent with both. The only way you can support a claim of the former rather than the latter is to take the teachings at face value, and as I said before, when you do that, his communication strategy makes no sense. It’s not benevolent to make ‘asking Jesus for forgiveness’ be the requirement for salvation and then neglect to inform 90% of the world’s population at the time that they have to do that.

        • Everything hinges on God having infinite wisdom. Christians need that attribute, and atheists cannot even consider it.

          Why do I have to keep going over this? The robot zombie atheist, programmed by Pope Richard Dawkins, unchangeable in its thinking is not me. I’m delighted to consider a God with whatever properties you want—infinite wisdom, boxers rather than briefs, passionate knitter. I don’t care.

          Are we on the same page yet?

          If God is wise, then everything else follows.

          And if I’ve won the Powerball lottery, then I’ll buy your country club just to have you kicked out of it.

          Should I start counting my millions on this “if”? Should you imagine what follows on your “if”?

          My suggestion: let’s not say “If [super crazy thing] . . .” and then speculate about what follows until [super crazy thing] is shown to be plausible. First things first, in other words.

          The 2-yr-old doesn’t perceive vaccines as sensible because he doesn’t have the necessary wisdom. You can dispense knowledge until you are blue in the face, and the 2yo will not grasp the benefit.

          How many times must I go over this? Yes, if God is infinitely wise, he might have good reasons for his genocide and support for slavery that we simply can’t understand, just like the child doesn’t understand vaccinations. How is that relevant? Show me that this dude exists first, and then we can worry about hypotheticals.

          40 years still doesn’t cover your bases. If Mark was written at the early end of when experts think it was written, that’s 33 years (66 – 33 = 33).

          I’m bored now. Jesus is widely thought to have been crucified in 30. Mark is widely thought to have been written in 70 or later. 70 – 30 = 40. Enough math lesson? Do we really need to do more? I don’t care.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The hypothetical proposition before us is that a Christian version of God exists. That version means God isn’t merely omnipotent, but also wise. We have to take all of the baggage into consideration, not cherry-pick to confirm out own bias.

          Now, if you would like for me to consider the hypothetical proposition that God does not exist, then I would have to accept all the baggage that goes with that hypothetical. I cannot, as part of accepting the hypothetical that God does not exist, assert that God does exist.

          You SAY that you accept the terms of the hypothetical, but then deny that God could make a decision that doesn’t make sense to you.

          I could speculate and come up with any number of reasonable explanations that fit the Christian view. Given that so many here dismiss every utterance from a Christian as defense of Christianity (a no-win scenario for any Christian), there is no interest in an open-minded consideration of a view other than the atheist one.

          33 A.D. is the dominant date for Jesus’ death. 66 – 70 is the majority opinion on the writing of Mark. You are cherry picking an early death for Jesus and a late date for Mark. 33 years is a possibility that would be excluded from your revised range. Either we are shooting for accuracy, or we don’t care. I can lay out the facts for you, but i cannot change your mind. Some people are like that.

        • adam

          “Now, if you would like for me to consider the hypothetical proposition that God does not exist, then I would have to accept all the baggage that goes with that hypothetical.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6597272c55aa1dd14b2602406d98ba576903e53dce5800dd7f26a6fb2ca9728c.jpg

          Which is the same baggage you carry for not believing in Zeus.

        • You SAY that you accept the terms of the hypothetical, but then deny that God could make a decision that doesn’t make sense to you.

          Wrong again. Since I don’t know how to make my position any clearer, I won’t bother trying.

          I could speculate and come up with any number of reasonable explanations that fit the Christian view. Given that so many here dismiss every utterance from a Christian as defense of Christianity (a no-win scenario for any Christian), there is no interest in an open-minded consideration of a view other than the atheist one.

          If you want to suggest good reasons why an atheist ought to consider the Christian argument, I’d be happy to hear it. Many other readers would as well.

          Either we are shooting for accuracy, or we don’t care.

          Accuracy, is it? Cool—then tell me exactly when Jesus was crucified and when Mark was written.

          Can’t do that? Golly, then I guess we’re back to looking at probabilities and guesses from the experts.

          I can lay out the facts for you, but i cannot change your mind. Some people are like that.

          Well, you know what they say—the great thing about being an atheist is knowing what you’ll be thinking tomorrow. No atheist has ever changed his mind.

          But you have me intrigued now. Show me that 33 is the dominant date for Jesus’s death. And since you keep going over and over and over and over this, I’m sure you don’t mean that this is a 55% to 45% kind of split decision among the experts. I’m assuming you mean that this is the overwhelming consensus. If so, that’ll be news to me, and I’ll appreciate the correction, and that will salvage this conversation.

          When you’ve done that, show me the same thing for “66 – 70 is the majority opinion on the writing of Mark.”

        • Clement Agonistes

          I presume you are being sarcastic when you say no atheist has ever changed his mind. We are not talking about a generic atheist here, but you.

          Now, let’s stop playing these word games about “precise”, “exactly”, “overwhelming”, and “dominant”. We are talking about a range. A range that needs to include the earliest and latest mainstream time period. A range does not need to be precise (et.al.), but inclusive.

          The Wikipedia article on Jesus has death in either 30 or 33.

          That same article has early dates for: Mark at 60 A.D., Matthew at 65, Luke at 65, and John at 70. Worst-case scenario, your 40-yr beginning point for your range begins at 73 A.D., possibly missing all of the Gospels. I suggested 30 years as a more inclusive figure. It still makes your point. I don’t get why this is such a sticking point.

          And, we still haven’t dealt with the issue of an oral tradition that precedes the written Gospels. We still haven’t dealt with the Q Source which would have preceded the written Gospels. We haven’t dealt with the length of time taken to write them. If a person started writing notes for a future book, recollections could have pre-dated the finished product by years, if not, decades. The whole idea of elderly people trying to remember vague details from 50 years earlier is silly.

          Because you don’t care anyway. This isn’t why you believe what you believe.

        • Pofarmer

          The NT Gospels aren’t books. You can easily read Mark in one setting in an hour or so. Which is one reason some people think it was originally a play.

        • I presume you are being sarcastic when you say no atheist has ever changed his mind. We are not talking about a generic atheist here, but you.

          What’s the difference? The typical atheist changes his mind, and so do I.

          Now, let’s stop playing these word games about “precise”, “exactly”, “overwhelming”, and “dominant”. We are talking about a range.

          Do you have a larger point? Or is splitting hairs with specific dates your sole interest here?

          That same article has early dates for: Mark at 60 A.D., Matthew at 65, Luke at 65, and John at 70. Worst-case scenario, your 40-yr beginning point for your range begins at 73 A.D., possibly missing all of the Gospels.

          Is John in 70 the consensus view? If not, then don’t muddy this conversation any more than it has been so far.

          I suggested 30 years as a more inclusive figure. It still makes your point. I don’t get why this is such a sticking point.

          Nor I.

          And, we still haven’t dealt with the issue of an oral tradition that precedes the written Gospels. We still haven’t dealt with the Q Source which would have preceded the written Gospels. We haven’t dealt with the length of time taken to write them.

          How are these relevant?

        • Clement Agonistes

          You don’t see why it is a sticking point, yet you ask for cites in defense of my view. If it’s not a sticking point, stop making it stick on that point. Let’s just go with a range that includes the earliest mainstream date out of respect for the science.

          They are relevant because they contradict the innuendo of the article that the story is only being remembered 50+ years later.

        • Philmonomer

          I’ve read through your entire exchange with Bob. At one point, he says this:

          If you want to suggest good reasons why an atheist ought to consider the Christian argument, I’d be happy to hear it. Many other readers would as well.

          Why should I, an atheist, believe in Christianity?

        • Clement Agonistes

          I suggested to another participant that they consult the writings of atheists who have chosen to believe in Christianity. They would have more credibility than I do.

        • Philmonomer

          I saw that after I wrote my comment. I saw that you said: C.S. Lewis, Andrew Klavan, and Lee Strobel.

          I’ve read some stuff stuff by C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters), nothing by Andrew Klavan (I’m not familiar with him), and some stuff by Lee Strobel (The Case for the Resurrection).

          Is there anything in particular you recommend?

        • Pofarmer

          I think C. S. Lewis is much like Lee Strobel. It’s kinda doubtful that he was really an atheist.

        • Philmonomer

          I don’t know enough about their stories to speculate.

        • Pofarmer

          They actually don’t have more credibility, because the arguments are the same.

        • Philmonomer

          Being unfamiliar with Andrew Kalvan, I googled him and just read his piece in CT. See

          http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/september/how-man-of-coasts-and-cities-found-christ.html

          I found it, literally, unbelievable. (I see that it is based on his book. Maybe the book has more.) By unbelievable, I mean it doesn’t match up with my understanding of most people’s experiences, including my own experience. It seems that there is an entire backstory missing. (Was he attending a Church at the time? Was he being exposed to Christianity? Surely there is more to this story.)

          In this regard, he just says, out of the blue, “Thank you, God.” And this entire world is different? Huh? I don’t buy it.

          [EDIT: To be fair, he does say “Slowly, I came to understand that his life, words, sacrifice, and resurrection formed the hidden logic behind every novel, movie, or play that touched my deepest mind.” Huh? What is this about? “Slowly” he came to realize these things? Was he going to Church? What was happening? It seems like this is where the real story is.].

          Here I go. “Thank you, God.” You can check back with me to tomorrow.

          (I don’t mean for that last bit to be flippant. I mean it seriously. Or as seriously as I can muster, as I don’t believe in God. The statement itself presupposes a belief in God.) For a related topic, see:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/tag/atheist-prayer-experiment/

        • Clement Agonistes

          At least part of the backstory is that he had thrown himself into thinking about the ramifications of being an atheist. From a moral standpoint, it just didn’t match up with his conscience. That conflict started him on his “slow” journey to try “TYG”.

        • Philmonomer

          [I have the bad habit of continuing to edit comments after I post them, as I re-read my comments. After an hour or so, I usually let it go. I mention this only to state that you may not have read the latest version of my comment–although the latest version probably doesn’t change much.]

          I understand why people have Andrew Kalvan’s experience (if I understand what you are saying). People feel that their moral intuitions are really, really true.

          However, that seems to me, at least, to not reflect reality as I see it. To my mind, our morals are products of our nature and our nurture. I’m pretty sure, if I grew up in the South, in 1840s, as a white male, I’d find slavery ok (You just have to treat your slaves well, as the Bible says.). I think that’s the way morality works, as seen by, well, the world.

          In this regard, the “moral ramifications” of being an atheist are exactly the same as the “moral ramifications” of being a theist. In both cases, we get morality that is a product of our nature and our nurture. But you don’t have to turn to Christianity for morality. As an atheist, you can turn to Humanism. Or Buddhism. Or a variety of other non-theistic religions. Or a variety of moral systems put forward by Philosophers.

        • Kodie

          In my experience, Christians cannot be more moral generally than anyone else. You got your regular prohibited activities, if they think those “major” behaviors are all that counts, but pretty much all I see are people who can’t help being selfish about many things, or self-centered, or judgmental of others. I mean, day-to-day behaviors where one might:
          1) it’s ok, nobody really cares (even if there is a sign or a law)
          2) It’s ok when there are no other options
          3) I have my own personal boundaries I would never dare to cross and neither should anyone else, so I judge people harshly in a couple of minor behaviors that really disturb me
          4) I deserve to break my own standards but nobody else can, so I will judge people harshly.

          Morality doesn’t only touch on murder, rape, slavery! I still contend that rape is accepted mostly in our society, just by looking at debates that excuse rapists and want them to get away with it, or try to hold rape victims responsible (and perhaps even pregnant). Morality is day-to-day behavior. Stealing little bits from other people, their time, their turn in traffic, oppressing people, using manipulation to get them to do something they don’t want to do for your own purpose… you know, those people who text at the light and don’t look up so you wait a couple beats and then honk, and they give you the finger and drive really slow so the next light starts to turn then they speed through. Given the high proportion of Christians to other people, and the frequency of certain shitty behaviors, most of these assholes gotta be Christian, right? No, fuck you, you did a bad thing that holds people up, and all I did was honk. What the fuck is so disturbed in people as to get so bent that they think they’ll just fuck with people for honking at them? So anyway, the idea here is minor bullshit = Christians behaving selfishly and rationalizing their behavior rather than praying to god for forgiveness and hoping to do better the next day.

        • Kodie

          So why do you think an atheist would find this more credible? How credible to you find just how many atheists used to be Christians? From what moral standpoint are you talking about?

        • Philmonomer

          I didn’t wake up with the world looking entirely different today. Indeed, I had completely forgotten about my “Thank you, God” from yesterday. I only saw it skimming through my old comments.

          But the day is young. Maybe there is more in store for me?

          (Also, maybe I did the prayer wrong? Maybe I should pray “Thank you, Brahma” now? Hmmm, but what if something happens today? Whom to thank? Maybe I should change the prayer each day? One day Brahma, another day, Allah, etc.? But surely something will happen to me one day, even if I don’t pray at all. How do I know the prayer is related to what’s happened, and not just the fact that “life happens”? Ugh.)

        • Clement Agonistes

          Yeah, I tried walking across the swimming pool yesterday, and fell in. Clearly that settles the God issue.

          It was a lucky thing I chose the shallow end, and was wearing my bathing suit!

          I wonder, would God (hypothetically, of course) really have a name? Or, is that a human convention? I mean, it would have to be an English name (“God”), since the Bible is in English.

          Let’s hope that the ambiguity of it all isn’t to keep out the sarcastic.

        • Philmonomer

          Let’s hope that the ambiguity of it all isn’t to keep out the sarcastic.

          I wasn’t being sarcastic. I was actually thinking outloud.

        • Philmonomer

          Yeah, I tried walking across the swimming pool yesterday, and fell in. Clearly that settles the God issue.

          It was a lucky thing I chose the shallow end, and was wearing my bathing suit!

          I wonder, would God (hypothetically, of course) really have a name? Or, is that a human convention? I mean, it would have to be an English name (“God”), since the Bible is in English.

          I think I’m not following you. If I understand you correctly, it doesn’t matter what/who I pray to, as it’s all the same?

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m not a universalist (if that’s the term), if that’s what you mean. I just don’t think God has a name. “Allah” translates to “God”.
          I may not be right about this, but I recall C.S. Lewis saying he didn’t even use words when he prayed. Does the thought precede the thought in words? Can a person think without words anymore?

        • Philmonomer

          In order to correctly understand reality, and to “be saved,” don’t you have to believe that God is triune in nature, and that Jesus Christ was God?

          I’m not talking about the “Name” of God, I’m talking about the underlying belief the name is referring to. If I worship Allah (and thus don’t believe Jesus is God), that’s a very different thing than worshiping the Christian God (and believing in the triune God).

        • Clement Agonistes

          IMO, the limited goal of “being saved (from death)” is that one must be perfect. There are 2 ways to achieve this: 1) Actually being perfect, like being Jesus, or a young child, or 2) Being forgiven (having imperfections removed). My understanding is that Muslims do not ask Allah for forgiveness. They do what they can, and hope for the best. Allah willing, they go to Paradise.

          I don’t see how one separates out the components there, though. How can one be forgiven if one doesn’t also believe that there is a mechanism (Jesus) for evil to be forgiven. How does one know what to ask forgiveness from without the Holy Spirit working on their conscience?

          i was trying to lighten things up a little. Sincerity was my point. Klavan’s “Thank you, God” moment was probably a sincere stepping over the line moment for him.

        • Philmonomer

          IMO, the limited goal of “being saved (from death)” is that one must be perfect. There are 2 ways to achieve this: 1) Actually being
          perfect, like being Jesus, or a young child, or 2) Being forgiven (having imperfections removed). My understanding is that Muslims do not ask Allah for forgiveness. They do what they can, and hope for the best. Allah willing, they go to Paradise.

          I don’t see how one separates out the components there, though. How can one be forgiven if one doesn’t also believe that there is a mechanism (Jesus) for evil to be forgiven. How does one know what to ask forgiveness from without the Holy Spirit working on their conscience?

          From a Muslim’s (or athiest’s) point of view, why does there have to be a “mechanism” for forgiveness? Why can’t God just forgive?

          i was trying to lighten things up a little.

          Sorry, I missed that you were trying to lighten things up. It’s always appreciated.

          Sincerity was my point.

          I was being sincere too. But I can only be so sincere if I don’t believe in God. [I mean this purely as an analogy: Can you sincerely say “Thank You, Zeus”? I suspect you can’t, because you don’t believe in Zeus.]

          Klavan’s “Thank you, God” moment was probably a sincere stepping over the line moment for him.

          I agree that’s much more likely. But that isn’t actually what he says in his Christianity Today piece. His piece makes it seem like there is a causal relationship between his praying “Thank you God,” and his changed world. [Note that we are now, here, distinguishing between the Klavan’s story as told, and what “really happened.” This strikes me as not dissimilar from the Gospels/Acts.]

        • Clement Agonistes

          You were being sincere
          … with limits.
          … not sincerely sincere.

          You know, the secret of sincerity is that once you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.

          You looked up an article about Klavan, sensed that there was more to the story. I was trying to fill in the missing links. The man writes for a living. He gets a volume discount on ink. Don’t take my word for it — get your info straight from the horse’s mouth.

        • Philmonomer

          You were being sincere
          … with limits.
          … not sincerely sincere.

          I don’t know what this means. I was being sincere. How can I be “sincerely sincere?” Truly, I don’t know what this means.

          You looked up an article about Klavan, sensed that there was more to the
          story. I was trying to fill in the missing links. The man writes for a living. He gets a volume discount on ink. Don’t take my word for it — get your info straight from the horse’s mouth.

          I don’t understand your last sentence. Write to him? Read his book?

        • Clement Agonistes

          “I was being sincere too. But I can only be so sincere if I don’t believe in God.”

          OK, that’s not really “sincere”. An omniscient being might pick up on that kind of thing.

          Get in the internet. Every writer-wannabe has a website and/or blog. The real thing has got to have more than just one interview in a magazine. I think he had an article in the Wall Street Journal a couple of months ago that might have been tied to a book or something.

          atheists always ask for convincing evidence. I purposely pointed to atheists who found convincing evidence. Either you guys (sincerely) wanted an answer to you question, or it has just become a meaningless cliche from over-use. I dodged the question by pointing to them; you are entitled to dodge the answer.

        • Philmonomer

          OK, that’s not really “sincere”. An omniscient being might pick up on that kind of thing.

          I can’t voluntarily chose to believe in something I don’t believe in. Can you voluntarily chose to believe in Zeus?

          I did the best I could. It seems like God should 1) know that and 2) try to meet me half-way? I can’t go any further (as, again, you can’t with Zeus.)

          I purposely pointed to atheists who found convincing evidence. Either
          you guys (sincerely) wanted an answer to you question, or it has just
          become a meaningless cliche from over-use.

          Surely it’s ok to think those atheists were wrong? (Although we should examine their evidence and their stories, too. As Bob does here., and as I do.) There have also been scores of Christians who have become convinced, in the last couple years, that there is nothing to Christianity, and they have become atheists. You think they are wrong, right? That’s ok.

          I dodged the question by pointing to them; you are entitled to dodge the answer.

          I don’t believe I’ve dodged any answers. Indeed, I’ve specifically asked you for recommendations.

        • Clement Agonistes

          That was one heck of a post!

          I did a little checking, and Klavan does have a website. Apparently he is big on PJ Media. There wasn’t a ton of stuff there that we would find relevant. There was a link to an interview that I thought filled in some of the blanks we were talking about. If I did this right, here is the site. Fast forward to around 8:20 – 11:00. Klavan is a difficult guy not to like.

          https://www.dropbox.com/s/ewnz6tf8sb9jzq9/Andrew%20Klaven%20interviewed%20by%20James%20Beverley.wav?dl=0

          Speaking of which, yes, I do read GID, and like Bob, Neil has a gift for words and is sharp as a pilum. However, I have a suspicion that he is Bruce Banner, and people are pissing him off. His wife victimizes him. His kids victimize him. The parents…. in-Laws, … atheists … random people on the street are looking at him funny. Any second now, he is going to turn green and go nuts.

          Lee Strobel’s website is worthless. His backstory is that his wife converted, and then he set out to show here the evidence that would un-convert here. Instead, the evidence convinced him.

          Strobel and Klavan are both remarkably sympathetic to atheists.

        • Yes, Godless in Dixie is a great blog. I often think, “I wish I’d said that” when I read his stuff.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Lee Strobel’s website is worthless.

          Ya don’t say!

          His backstory is that his wife converted, and then he set out to show here the evidence that would un-convert here. Instead, the evidence convinced him.

          Nah, it’s a wee bit more than that.

          He raised and challenged the arguments that Christians rely on, asked apologists to explain them, then accepted those explanations with any counter arguments in rebuttal. Not the same thing at all.

          He is a liar for Jesus.

          For a self-professed investigative reporter, he seems utterly incapable of asking difficult questions, providing citations for his claims, confronting people when they make overly vague or conflicting statements if said statements cohere with his views or assertions, and seems to take The Bible at face value without argument. Likewise, his description of his atheist past sounds suspiciously like the way atheists are depicted by Christians (e.g. that he was rejecting God, despite knowing or suspecting that He existed(!), in order to be able to sin freely).

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lee_Strobel

          I’m surprised you proclaim him as a shining light of the sort of evidence that is convincing, given that he is an apologist that is a creationist, journalist and an intelligent design proponent.

          He certainly has your eye wiped.

          Strobel… remarkably sympathetic to atheists.

          In what way?

          When he says shite like this…

          “On the surface you can build a scientific case for Darwinism. In reality, though, the more you examine it, the more its pillars rot under scrutiny….I was told, for instance, that the fossil evidence supports Darwinism, and that you can reconstruct the progression of animal life through fossil discoveries and so forth. That’s simply not true. What the fossil record shows is the sudden appearance of fully formed creatures, with no precursor animals, and really no substantive change afterwards.”

          …he is just another ignorant fuckwit who is shite talking.

        • Philmonomer

          That was one heck of a post!

          I’m not sure what this is referring to.

          I did a little checking, and Klavan does have a website. Apparently he is big on PJ Media. There wasn’t a ton of stuff there that we would find relevant. There was a link to an interview that I thought filled in some of the blanks we were talking about. If I did this right, here is the site. Fast forward to around 8:20 – 11:00. Klavan is a difficult guy not to like.

          Thanks for the link to the interview. I tried listening to it, but I don’t have dropbox. Maybe I’ll try to get it. Is there a way you can link to the webpage where you found it, rather than the actual interview itself?

          Speaking of which, yes, I do read GID, and like Bob, Neil has a gift for words and is sharp as a pilum. However, I have a suspicion that he is Bruce Banner, and people are pissing him off. His wife victimizes him. His kids victimize him. The parents…. in-Laws, … atheists … random people on the street are looking at him funny. Any second now, he is going to turn green and go nuts.

          I don’t know enough to speculate.

          Lee Strobel’s website is worthless. His backstory is that his wife converted, and then he set out to show here the evidence that would un-convert here. Instead, the evidence convinced him.

          I’m generally familiar with him. The movie is out. The criticism that I’ve heard (in trying to research his “Case for Christ” he doesn’t talk with any actual atheists/critics) seems accurate.

          https://infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

          Strobel and Klavan are both remarkably sympathetic to atheists.

          Ok.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The “good post” was not sarcastic. You stated your case well, did it concisely, and made great points.

          The Klavan interview was from following a website link on his blog post about the “Seminary”.

          By “sympathetic”, I mean they are open-minded, and freely acknowledge good points. No screaming, insults, or threats of Hell that you get when you deal with morons.

          Clearly, what can be convincing to one person falls on deaf ears with another. I don’t think any of us are the factual beasts we think we are.

        • Philmonomer

          The “good post” was not sarcastic.

          I didn’t think it was sarcastic, I was just confused by the words–“one heck of a post!” (Does that mean you think it’s long? Comprehensive? It’s good? You’re expressing ambivalence about it? )

          You stated your case well, did it concisely, and made great points.

          Thank you.

          The Klavan interview was from following a website link on his blog post about the “Seminary”.

          Thanks. That helps.

          By “sympathetic”, I mean they are open-minded, and freely acknowledge good points. No screaming, insults, or threats of Hell that you get when you deal with morons.

          Ah. That makes sense.

          Clearly, what can be convincing to one person falls on deaf ears with another. I don’t think any of us are the factual beasts we think we are.

          Agreed. I think we are products of our nature and our nurture. And neither is any sort of guarantee that our understanding of the world reflects an underlying reality. Trying to separate out what is “real” from what isn’t, is a life long effort–with no guarantee of any sort of success.

          (As but 1 example–there are millions of smart, informed, earnest people in India who really believe in reincarnation (and can point to the “scientific” studies that prove it). We (in our culture) tend to not even give it a second thought, as it’s clearly not true (at least in our own mind)).

        • Ignorant Amos

          You think they are wrong, right? That’s ok. (Do you read “Godless in Dixie?”

          Ryan Bell is another. He was blogging at “A Year Without God” on Patheos, but now posts at “Life After God”.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yearwithoutgod/

          http://www.lifeaftergod.org/

          And “Why I Believed” by Kenneth W Daniels is a must read.

          This is a story of a true Christian who believed for nearly three decades, having grown up the son of evangelical missionary parents, later becoming a missionary himself. Yet he slowly lost his faith and now no longer holds it. In this part-autobiography, part-exposé, Ken traces his journey from evangelical missionary to secular humanist while remaining part of a committed Christian family. He looks back at a number of reasons he remained a believer for over a decade after his initial doubts began at university, critically evaluating each one in a separate chapter. Whether or not you agree with Ken’s conclusions, you will find his journey and his reasons for taking it fascinating and informative. You will end up better understanding, if not appreciating, the mind of apostates whose desire is to follow the evidence wherever it leads

          http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11081433-why-i-believed

          One comment at “Goodreads” is quite poignant …

          As someone raised as a Bible-believing Christian, who minored in Biblical studies in a Christian University and served on several mission trips in his youth, who devoted the “first fruits” of his life to the Lord and believed at one point that his main goal was to die while firmly holding intact the convictions he had developed as a 13-year old . . . I am totally the target audience of Ken Daniels. I know the Bible intimately, having read it four or five times (in two languages) since I was 12 years old (I am now 51). I had even considered working with Wycliff Bible Translators as he did, at one point in my youth. In other words, as I negotiate this dark woods in the middle of my life, I believe this is the book I was rather fearfully seeking and not sure I would ever actually find.

          I found this to be an honest and vulnerable book, absolutely devastating in its kind, gentle tone. Unlike the shrill atheists we seem to hear a lot from these days (and who totally turned me off on atheism as a philosophy and on atheists as a community), Daniels speaks understandingly of just how pervasive is faith and how difficult the path away from it. He is honest about the longing he still feels for the days when he “walked in the courtyards of the Lord”, yet describes in unflinching detail the logic behind his gradual loss of faith. As I read this book, I felt respected and supported by him as I progress through my own “deconversion”, and the language he uses (and the Scripture he quotes) gives him great credibility with believers who must, if they are honest, connect on some level with his doubts.

          Of course there are loads of other testimonies out there too.

        • Philmonomer

          Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll look into it.

        • Michael Neville

          atheists always ask for convincing evidence … Either you guys (sincerely) wanted an answer to you question, or it has just become a meaningless cliche from over-use.

          If you provide convincing evidence then I will be convinced (this is known in the rhetoric business as a tautology). So far neither you nor any other apologist for any gods (there are more than your pet deity) have provided convincing evidence so I remain unconvinced.

          Other atheists may have been convinced (although far more theists have been convinced to dump theism) but as for me, I’m unconvinced. And it isn’t my fault that you can’t find convincing evidence.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “meaningless cliche” ………….. check.

        • Michael Neville

          No matter how hard you try, you can’t blame me for your lack of convincing evidence.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Yeah, I think I can do that. You are the guy who decided what “convincing” would be, not me.

        • Michael Neville

          You’re right, I do decide what is convincing. However you’re the one presenting the evidence. I have no choice as to what evidence you show, it’s strictly your decision. So it’s still not my fault that your evidence isn’t convincing.

        • Susan

          “meaningless cliche

          You are making a claim you can’t support. It’s reasonable to point that out.

          There’s nothing meaningless about that.

          If it’s cliche, it’s because it’s a response to meaningless theist cliches.

          What choice do we have?

          Theist makes claim.

          Non-theist asks them to support their claim.

          Theist resents the cliche.

          Oh well.

        • Susan

          I purposely pointed to atheists who found convincing evidence.

          But you purposely avoided providing convincing evidence.

          Pointing to people who are convinced they’ve been abducted by extraterrestrials is not evidence that people have been abducted by extraterrestrials.

          Pointing to people who are convinced that evolution is a conspiracy is not evidence that evolution is a conspiracy.

          So, how about providing evidence?

        • Philmonomer

          You were being sincere
          … with limits.
          … not sincerely sincere.

          Years and years ago, I was living abroad and didn’t speak the language. There were Mormons in my town, and I befriended them. They gave me the whole Mormon spiel. Guess what, they weren’t there to convert me! They weren’t there to try to convince me of the truth of Mormonism! (This blew me away.) God could do that. All they wanted was for me to read the Book of Mormon with them, and ask God, sincerely, if it was true. Just ask God if it is true.

          That was a revelation to me. All you need to do is sincerely open yourself up to the truth (doesn’t matter what the truth is: Mormonism, Christianity, etc.) and you may find the truth! Genius.

        • Kodie

          If god is forgiving, he shouldn’t need to be begged. That’s not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness on the part of the forgiver is wiping the slate clean because they want to. Repaying a debt is another way to wipe the slate clean, but it’s not the same. Begging someone to wipe the slate clean is not getting forgiven, it is payment against some kind of debt.

          You Christian assholes don’t even know what the word means.

        • Susan

          There are 2 ways to achieve this: 1) Actually being perfect, like being Jesus, or a young child

          There is nothing perfect about Jesus or a young child.

          Being forgiven (having imperfections removed:.

          When I forgive someone, I don’t remove their imperfections. These things are not the same.

          How does one know what to ask forgiveness from without the Holy Spirit working on their conscience?

          You’ve lost me. Completely. Try addressing the subjects you raise instead of reiterating goo.

          Forgiveness as you describe it makes no sense and has no meaning. Worse, it requires something apparently imaginary.

          People forgive every day without a Holy Spirit doing a damned thing.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The question posed was asking about Christian doctrine. I was obliged to answer it in terms of Christian “goo”.

          I note that you replied with atheist doctrine, though. One man’s goo is another man’s doctrine.”

        • Susan

          The question posed was asking about Christian doctrine

          And I explained why that doctrine makes no sense.

          I note that you replied with atheist doctrine, though.

          What do you mean?

        • Clement Agonistes

          It makes perfect sense to Christians .. and the topic is Christian beliefs. You are inserting you beliefs as the final arbiter of what Christians believe.

        • Kodie

          If you ignore reality, anything can make sense. You haven’t answered a single one of my posts, and I already wrote on how Christians don’t even know what the word forgiveness means. You had no answer for that, and nothing about it affected you. You just keep repeating your beliefs instead of responding to challenges. Weak.

        • Greg G.

          How can one be forgiven if one doesn’t also believe that there is a mechanism (Jesus) for evil to be forgiven. How does one know what to ask forgiveness from without the Holy Spirit working on their conscience?

          I have learned to not loan money to people who can get their debts forgiven and their conscience cleared by talking to a Holy Ghost.

        • Clement Agonistes

          This gets to the point of sincerity and trying to isolate the various interlocked components. The guy who is going to God for forgiveness for adultery, while texting the woman he is cheating with, isn’t that sincere.

          It always kind of grates on my ears when I hear a Christian say, “You must do [some good behavior] in order to be saved.” The better word choice is you “want” to do good. The implication of jumping off a cliff is falling. The implication of choosing Christianity is doing good (and seeking out what that good is).

          Phil asked about the Trinity and the Moslem. IMO, once you make that leap of Christianity, all the implication naturally fall.

        • eric

          The implication of jumping off a cliff is falling. The implication of choosing Christianity is doing good

          They are clearly not analogous, or there would be no Christians in jail.

          It also seems deeply anti-Christian to imply that Christians can’t be sincere if they are walking around intentionally doing bad things (like texting their extra-marital lover). The religion embraces the concept that if you do bad but sincerely believe, God will forgive you. AFAIK Christian theologians think every single Christian is in the same boat as the guy texting his lover while sincerely believing. To claim that the texting is an indication of insincerity leads to the reductio conclusion that there are no truly sincere Christians, as all of them do or have done some bad thing.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Clement Agonistes

          I’ll trust that God can look into our hearts and determine who is truly sincere, and who is not.

          Greg’s analogy was the guy who is borrowing money with no intention of paying it back. Man, in my book, that is stealing. Mapping out how you are going to steal doesn’t sound like somebody who doesn’t want to steal. But, that’s just me.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t think they had no intention of paying it back when they borrowed it but found it was harder to part with the money when the time came.

        • eric

          I’ll trust that God can look into our
          hearts and determine who is truly sincere

          LOL, there was literally only a 1 hour difference between you evaluating texting guy as not sincerely Christian, and you asserting you trust in God to make that evaluation instead of you.

          The same basic flipping occurred when we discussed God’s communication strategy. You first say God wants good for us but then when confronted with a communication strategy that doesn’t look so good, say God’s motives are inscrutable. Huh?

          Don’t you see the problems with practicing such ‘apologetics of the moment’?

          Mapping out how you are going to steal doesn’t sound like somebody who doesn’t want to steal.

          Agreed. But how do you go from “wants to steal” to “doesn’t believe in God”? It seems to me both empirically and theologically justified to say that a venn diagram of the circles “wants to steal” and “believes in God” is going to show some overlap. Does it make logical sense? Perhaps not. But we humans are not Spock. Doctors sometimes smoke, my sincerely-trying-to-lose-weight self sometimes has that cookie, and sincerely-believing-in-God Christians sometimes plan and execute thefts.

        • Clement Agonistes

          OK, I thought the guy texting his mistress while asking for forgiveness for adultery is an open-and-shut case of insincerity. You thought I was jumping the gun. So, I am allowing for my own fallibility and deferring to the being who truly does get to make that determination. Perhaps a sarcastic “What-ever” would have been in order?

          BTW, “inscrutable” wasn’t my word choice. Someone else, Michael I think, used that term. Ironically, my comment was in response to Atheists passing judgment on God. I threw out that Christian doctrine – the topic – stated that God is infinitely wise, and there might be a perfectly good, wise, reason for things being done the way they have been done. I even threw in, at no additional charge, what I thought was a plausible reason (an excuse for those who want to opt out). “Inscrutable” isn’t a particularly bad spin on what I am saying, but it’s slightly off-target.

          Your last paragraph was really good. I lost you on that first sentence, but you clarified it well. Yes, I totally agree that Christians can do evil (and with your previous assertion that atheists can do good. I should have acknowledged that point better.) In all cases, it comes down to how motivated one is by one’s belief system.

        • Susan

          ‘ll trust that God can look into our hearts and determine who is truly sincere, and who is not.

          On what basis?

        • Clement Agonistes

          When someone says they have faith in something, it means a level of trust. My view of reality is that God is worthy of my trust. I have faith in God.

          If I’m wrong to put my trust in God, it doesn’t matter anyway.

        • Kodie

          Why does it matter to you or your beliefs if others do not find the evidence you find convincing convincing?

          I mean, you want to do what you want to do. That’s fine, as long as you don’t use your god as a hammer to bash others with what you think your imaginary friend wants all of us to do, your beliefs don’t affect me. Why does atheism affect you?

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m not sure that any of your premises apply. This doesn’t have to be a zero sum game. We can all win and get what we want out of a civil exchange of opinions.

        • Kodie

          What premises are you talking about?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Great, let’s stop the discussion and deal with this. Participate with me.

          First: “Why does it matter…?” What do you think the premise of that question is? I am being asked “Why”. That implies that something which exists (a premise) would need an explanation. Take it for here…

          Next: “That’s fine …” Take a stab at the premise.

          Last: “Why ..?” See “First”.

        • Kodie

          Did I ask you to be a dick about it too, or did you just throw that in as a bonus? I asked you why does it matter to you, and you didn’t answer me. I know why it matters to me. You’re the dick who didn’t answer my question, nor any other question or comment I have made since you arrived.

          When you finally did, you were a total dick about it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I thought you were just venting. All your posts sound to me like you are calling me a dick. How do you “reply” to being called a dick (“Am not!”)? Give me something to work with.

        • Susan

          We can all win and get what we want out of a civil exchange of opinions.

          Kodie made some civil points and asked you a civil quesion.

          Why don’t you respond to them?

        • Susan

          it means a level of trust

          I asked you very specifically on what basis?

          If I’m wrong to put my trust in God, it doesn’t matter anyway?

          Why doesn’t it matter?

          Beliefs don’t have consequences?

        • Clement Agonistes

          The comment that you were asking about with an open-ended (not specific) question about was related to a throw-away humorous comment about what I thought would be clearly insincere intentions.

          The context has been the Christians perspective. From the CP, why can’t a person merely ask for forgiveness while planning his next, same activity? I opined that such a thing show a lack of sincerity; remorse. It was pointed out that from the CP, sincerity is not mine to judge. I conceded the point. I am not a mind reader.

          That’s when you entered. In the context of the discussion, your question was out of place; as if you had not been following the flow of the conversation. The CP presumes both God’s existence and a set of attributes. It is a given, from the CP that God is omniscient, and therefore knows whether our intentions are sincere or not. Perhaps the better answer to your question would be “It is a premise of the discussion.”

          For the purposes of this discussion, if there is no God, then there is no CP, and no premises to discuss. It doesn’t matter. If we were having a hypothetical discussion about what we will do if it rains today, and it doesn’t rain today, then it didn’t matter.

        • Susan

          The comment that you were asking about with an open-ended (not specific) question

          How is “on what basis?” not a specific question? You made a statement. I asked sincerely “On what basis do you make that statement?”

          was related to a throwaway

          Nothing throwaway as far as I can see. Someone was asking you about the logic of your position and how you can show it makes sense and how it can be differentiated from other positions that are unable to support themselves.

          In the context of the discussion, your comment was out of place

          I disagree. I thought it was a perfectly reasonable question.

          The CP

          There is no the CP.

          presumes both God’s existence and a set of attributes

          And I asked “on what basis” does it presume that? I will repeat my request that you define what you are claiming and how you support that claim/

          Perhaps a better answer to your question would be “it is a premise of the discussion”

          No. It’s a terrible answer. I already know that you accept that premise and that you expect us to proceed on that premise.

          I had a very simple question. Why should you or anybody else accept that premise?

          if there is no God, then there is no CP,

          All kinds of contradictory “CP”s exist. They don’t require the existence of an entity that you have neither defined nor supported with evidence. We don’t need “God” (whatever that means) to exist for people to imagine stuff.

          Your comments about rain are in no way connected.

          “On what basis?” is an honest and straight forward question.

          Stating that christians believe stuff isn’t any sort of answer.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, there is not Christian perspective, right. There are no Christians who have a perspective, right? You see, this is what is wrong with this knee-jerk, automatic rejection of anything said. That’s nuts. The entire purpose of this blog is to “examine” the CP. If I has said the Sun rises in the East, you’d just say it rises in the West. “It’s not an argument’ it’s just contradicting what I say.”

          Same deal with “specifically”. Apparently, this means so much to you that the obvious vague nature of your question isn’t even apparent to you. You didn’t ask a specific question like, “What is the capital of Norway?”. You asked, “What do you like about Norway?”

          And, Norway isn’t the topic of the conversation.

          The conversation was about whether the Christian perspective makes sense …. internally. Clearly, from the atheist perspective – externally – it doesn’t make sense. With regard to the Easter accounts of the NT, does it makes sense that they would disagree IF there truly was a Jesus who had a divine aspect.

          You were trying to divert the conversation away from a topic you have not participated in to a different topic that never goes anywhere, but reliably destroys conversations. That is playing games, and Homey don’t play that game.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So, there is not Christian perspective, right. There are no Christians who have a perspective, right?

          There is no “the” Christian perspective. There are many Christian perspective’s. Your’s is one amongst many. Even in the past few weeks there have been Christians with a variety of perspective’s. That is why Susan makes a point of asking the same question of each religious, or Christian, visitor that pops by. We aren’t a bunch of mind readers.

          You see, this is what is wrong with this knee-jerk, automatic rejection of anything said. That’s nuts.

          Nothing has been rejected yet, because you’ve presented Susan with nothing to reject. You’ve yet to answer her enquiry.

          The entire purpose of this blog is to “examine” the CP.

          That might be your take…but my take is different. There are many Christian perspectives and Bob deals with a variety of them. Things like creationism, bible inerrancy, fundamentalism, pro-life, morality, separation of church/state, the Trinity, etc., etc., the list is long and varied. Christian’s don’t hold a unified perspective on any of them. Not even what they believe about god’s or Jesus.

          If I has said the Sun rises in the East, you’d just say it rises in the West. “It’s not an argument’ it’s just contradicting what I say.”

          Why talk nonsense? It does you no favours. You are on an atheist site. A place where a contradictory viewpoint to your own is going to be a given. You are engaging in argument which by definition is an exchange of diverging or opposite views. What is your point in being here?

          Same deal with “specifically”. Apparently, this means so much to you that the obvious vague nature of your question isn’t even apparent to you.

          There is nothing vague about the question, “On what basis do you trust that God can look into our hearts and determine who is truly sincere, and who is not?”

          On what basis do you hold such “trust”? Where does it come from?

          Specifically, on what basis do you develop and evaluate expectations you have of the trustee?

          You didn’t ask a specific question like, “What is the capital of Norway?”. You asked, “What do you like about Norway?”

          And, Norway isn’t the topic of the conversation.

          What is it about believers and crap analogies?

          You were trying to divert the conversation away from a topic you have not participated in to a different topic that never goes anywhere, but reliably destroys conversations.

          Is that because it is a hard question and one you can’t answer reasonably? You don’t get to dictate who here asks what question of whom or when.

          Susan likes to cut to the nitty-gritty…the discussion about how many angels can dance on the point of a pin is just building castes in the sky until we get the important details outta the way.

          Some of the rest of us just engage in the arguments regardless…it’s like catnip and we enjoy it.

          That is playing games, and Homey don’t play that game./blockquote>

          It isn’t playing games, it is asking you to clarify your position. A position viewed as ballix based on an unsubstantiated premise not demonstrated.

          But here’s a pro tip…if Homey doesn’t wanna play games, you are under no obligation to reply. Liberty to pick and chose as to who and when is each person here’s prerogative.

        • Pofarmer

          What is it about believers and crap analogies

          Constant as the Sun.

        • Clement Agonistes

          For the love of Pete. The “issue” was an off-hand comment that God judges, not me. The judgement of God is not just a Christian doctrine. Moslems, Jews, and even Deists share this belief. If there is a sect of Christianity that doesn’t believe this, I am unaware of them.

          I use analogies because you guys do not seem to understand what I am saying. If you don’t understand what we are saying, how can you “examine” it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          For the love of Pete. The “issue” was an off-hand comment that God judges, not me.

          Right. Either you meant it, or you didn’t. If you meant it, then it may be an off hand remark you can’t justify, hence Susan’s line in questioning. If you didn’t mean it, then say so.

          The judgement of God is not just a Christian doctrine. Moslems, Jews, and even Deists share this belief.

          Who cares? It is a Christian here making the claim. If it was a Muslim or Jew, they’d be getting asked the same. I doubt Deists share the same belief, why woul a Deist god give a feck? But I could be wrong, and if am and a Deist pitchedup here saying same, they’d beasked to justify the statement too.

          If there is a sect of Christianity that doesn’t believe this, I am unaware of them.

          I wouldn’t doubt it. Ever hear of the various Christian Atheist sects?

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

          I use analogies because you guys do not seem to understand what I am saying. If you don’t understand what we are saying, how can you “examine” it?

          I know what an analogy is used for Clement. My complaint is the that historically, Christians that have used analogies on this site, have used very poor analogies. Yours was no better than the worst of them. It is a standing joke among the regulars here at this point.

        • Pofarmer

          Most deists, in my experience, believe in a non-interactive God.

        • Greg G.

          The religion embraces the concept that if you do bad but sincerely believe, God will forgive you. AFAIK Christian theologians think every single Christian is in the same boat as the guy texting his lover while sincerely believing. To claim that the texting is an indication of insincerity leads to the reductio conclusion that there are no truly sincere Christians, as all of them do or have done some bad thing.

          Then the only way to be a good Christian is to be in a perpetual state of sincere guilt.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Clement Agonistes

          I love the “pearly Gates” jokes. In this one, God/Peter/Angel is like the maitre d’. Of course, “Gregory” is at the PG because, like every human, he is waiting for judgement. You’d think G/P/A would know this kind of thing, right?

          Humor doesn’t have to be accurate, though, to be funny. I’d like a follow-up joke of that awkward moment when the victim and the murderer meet.

        • Greg G.

          I’d like a follow-up joke of that awkward moment when the victim and the murderer meet.

          adam has one of those.

        • Greg G.

          I was never convicted of that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You’d think an omniscience would know.

        • Greg G.

          The better word choice is you “want” to do good. The implication of jumping off a cliff is falling. The implication of choosing Christianity is doing good (and seeking out what that good is).

          I have found that one does not need religion to do good or to want to do good. If a person wants to be a good person, they are, at heart, a good person. It’s then a matter of putting it into practice. One does not need an imaginary pat on the back from an imaginary friend.

          But I am talking about absolving oneself of responsibility by asking an imaginary friend for forgiveness instead of addressing the responsibility with the person harmed. That’s using religion to do the opposite of good and believing everything is OK.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I think what you are pointing out is how nebulous “taking responsibility” is. Like “good”, it can mean just about anything a person wants it to mean.

          “I want to sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, apologize to anyone who was offended my brutal murder of three children.”

          The scenario you described is one in which the offender thinks he is taking responsibility by admitting the offense and apologizing for it. You point (I may be reading too much into it) is that if there is no God, then he is not taking responsibility.

          A person has to have a developed conscience in order to sense the need to take responsibility for a wrong. For a psychopath, conscience is a puzzling, abstract concept.

          As a theist, I think conscience is God tugging on your sleeve. The “pat on the back” is the good feeling you have after making the “right” choice. And, we all “take responsibility” when we answer to God. IMO, you are observing God without recognizing Him.

        • Greg G.

          The scenario you described is one in which the offender thinks he is taking responsibility by admitting the offense and apologizing for it. You point (I may be reading too much into it) is that if there is no God, then he is not taking responsibility.

          Yes, but whether there is a god or not, they feel absolved even though the person harmed is still harmed in a way that could be remedied by actually taking responsibility. It prevents “God tugging on your sleeve.” They could split their tithe between paying back the money but then they would have to face the frowns of the church leadership.

        • Kodie

          You’re attributing a rather normal human scenario to an invented agent. I mean, you feel feelings that you don’t even think you feel – you think god is implanting feelings in you somehow. You don’t know how animals work, you don’t know how humans work, and you don’t know how human brains work. You live inside of a fuzzy bubble where your imaginary friend is the reason for everything instead of going outside to learn about the rest of the world. In your opinion, the universe must revolve around you and congratulate you for making a good decision.

        • Kodie

          The implication of jumping off a cliff is falling. The implication of
          choosing Christianity is doing good (and seeking out what that good is).

          The implication of joining Christianity is because you think you’re broken and a failure and you are begging the petty tyrant in charge to spare you from certain doom. You are mixing up sincerely asking a figment of Clement’s imagination for forgiveness and sincerely choosing to do good and seeking out what good is. I don’t know why you think a person needs to ask god’s permission to be a good person or to demonstrate a quality of sincerity in the endeavor of good. The implication of Christianity is “how can we break people down and then make them think they only have one choice how to feel better? How can we make everything else look worse and worthless and not real or not fulfilling or insincere by comparison?

          It’s a fucking sales pitch. Common marketing. You don’t want your neighbor to think your didn’t wash your dishes, choose Brand AMAZING GOD dishwashing liquid.

        • eric

          How can one be forgiven if one doesn’t also believe that there is a mechanism (Jesus) for evil to be forgiven

          No physical mechanism only works if you believe in the mechanism. Planes don’t drop out of the sky if you don’t believe they can fly. So your asking how is perplexing to me; this is factually the way things work. Your expectation that belief in a forgiveness mechanism is required before the forgiveness mechanism will work goes against the way we observe the world to work. Yours is the strange idea, the one that requires a how. As in, how could it not? What about my internal belief would prevent some external mechanism from working, would prevent some other person from making the internal, mental choice to forgive me?

          That belief requirement is not even how *my* forgiveness works. I forgive my son some misdeed and let him go play, the reality of “he can go play” is utterly independent of whether he believes I’ve forgiven him or not.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The question was framed in the context of Islam. Islam has God. It has an afterlife. If you check off all the boxes, you . … well, who knows, maybe you get to Paradise. That is why you see the presentation to young Muslims that if they have done bad things, their only hope is to do something really special – sacrifice their lives in the name of God.

          So, Phil asked about the Trinity. The Jesus aspect of the Trinity is forgiveness of sin. In Christian belief, only the perfect can enter Heaven, a perfect place. But, we are imperfect. We do bad things. If a person recognizes what they have done wrong, and asks for forgiveness, it can be granted. Without the Jesus aspect, yeah, you have Islam.

        • That you keep going on and on about this point baffles me. However, as I’m pretty sure I made clear, if you show me the consensus view is very strongly in favor of 33CE for the death and 66-70CE for the authorship of Mark, I will have learned something, and this seemingly pointless hairsplitting will have actually provided some benefit.

          Let’s just go with a range that includes the earliest mainstream date out of respect for the science.

          Earliest? Science? I don’t follow. Why don’t we go with the date (or date range) that is the consensus of relevant scholars (if such a consensus exists)? Why would you possibly want the earliest date rather than the consensus?

          They are relevant because they contradict the innuendo of the article that the story is only being remembered 50+ years later.

          Expand on your concern here, because I’m missing it. I think the comparison with a presidential election from 50 years ago is a decent way to illustrate the problem. Provide a better comparison.

          You’ll say that the 1968 election of 50 years ago was important but not life changing, like Jesus was. That’s true, but then they didn’t have occasional accurate reminders about Nixon, the Vietnam War, the protests and the assassinations during the summer of 1968, like we do.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I threw out the word “consensus” because Greg was right – consensus does not mean the same as majority. That said, several of us have cited Wikipedia’s articles about the individual Gospels, Jesus, and the Gospels as a whole for the information you request here.

          I am going with the general agreement of relevant scholars. I want the most accurate statement.

          I’m OK with the ’68 election. I had thought about JFK’s assassination. The problem with both of those is the general knowledge of them. I even brought up a 9/11 analogy – is the important detail who was sitting in seat 17B on AA Flight 11, or that the airplane flew into a WTC building? Details are nice, but the headlines are that Nixon was elected, JFK was killed, and the building fell down. The headline of Jesus’ crucifixion is that he was crucified. Did it matter that JFK was shot on the 22nd really matter? Did it really matter if Nixon gave his victory speech at the Hilton? Those details are great, but window dressing.

          Do you think the SS agent who jumped onto the car remembers an amazing number of details? Do you think the doctors who treated JFK thought he might pull through? They have told these stories untold numbers of times. Guys like Peter would have been telling their story almost daily. Mark wouldn’t even need to translate after a while – he’d know it by heart.

          I totally think these oral traditions had mixed up details. Eyewitnesses are going to make errors, be influenced by others, and tell their story the way they remember it. When these accounts were written down, people thought about reconciling the details, but opted not to out of respect for the sources. It is ambiguous. But, it is also communication. And, the headlines are consistent.

          I’d like you to expand on your 68 election point.

        • consensus does not mean the same as majority.

          I missed that. Tell me why.

          I am going with the general agreement of relevant scholars. I want the most accurate statement.

          Me, too. But you have a different sense on the consensus. Show me.

          I even brought up a 9/11 analogy – is the important detail who was sitting in seat 17B on AA Flight 11, or that the airplane flew into a WTC building?

          The point is that flashbulb memories (“Who could possibly forget the details of something so important and dramatic??”) are largely discredited. You know of the Challenger memory experiment? I’ve written about this and other examples of fallible memory.

          Details are nice, but the headlines are that Nixon was elected, JFK was killed, and the building fell down. The headline of Jesus’ crucifixion is that he was crucified. Did it matter that JFK was shot on the 22nd really matter? Did it really matter if Nixon gave his victory speech at the Hilton? Those details are great, but window dressing.

          How far does this go? Given enough time, arbitrarily far, I’d imagine. You can forget/get wrong details from something that happened yesterday. After 40 years, especially if other people are involved, pushing and pulling the story, is it still just little details? How can we be sure?

          Guys like Peter would have been telling their story almost daily. Mark wouldn’t even need to translate after a while – he’d know it by heart.

          Meaningless, given the time gap and the magnitude of the story. For a biography or an ordinary person, sure, this would be compelling. But for what could be the most incredible story possible? No, this won’t do. “If Mark wrote what Peter said, it’d likely be true” is hardly enough.

        • MR

          would have been telling their story almost daily.

          Actually, not so meaningless if true, Bob. The science says the more often we access a memory, the more likely we are to change it. Our memory of something that we haven’t thought of since it happened is actually more likely to be closer to the truth than something we think about and talk about often.

          Memory is malleable and subject to change each time we access it. I’ve read this several places, but a quick search came up with:

          Not only are our memories faulty (anyone who has uncovered old diaries knows that), but more importantly Schiller says our memories change each time they are recalled. What we recall is only a facsimile of things gone by…. One implication of Schiller’s work is that memory isn’t like a file in our brain but more like a story that is edited every time we tell it. To each re-telling there are attached emotional details. So when the story is altered feelings are also reshaped. —Psychology Today

          I’ve told the story before of overhearing some elderly neighbors arguing at a friend’s house. The 80 year old wife yelled at her 90 year old husband, “The difference is, you can’t change, I can!” It was such a cute, bittersweet argument and I had to tell my friend about it. I pretty much forgot about it, but he had continued to repeat the story to friends and family over time. About two years later he was telling the story at a party, but he was telling the story as if he had overheard it. He had basically cut out the middleman, me, and had begun telling the story in first person. The thing was, he had told the story so many times, he actually believed he was the one who had overhead the conversation! I had to give him explicit details that he couldn’t account for before he would believe me. (I did not do this in front of everyone, but took him aside and said, “You know that was me, right?” He was incredulous.)

          It’s not only possible, but likely that if the disciples were telling their stories over and over and over, they were slowly but surely rewriting the entire story in their minds.

          [edited]

        • Good point.

          My favorite memory anecdote is told at the beginning of this post:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/11/fallible-memories-and-the-development-of-legend/

        • MR

          That was one of my favorite posts.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How are these relevant?

          Especially when no one knows what the oral tradition contained. It could just as easily contained heresies that got redacted out.

          As for the hypothetical Q source. That is far from universally accepted. The Farrer hypothesis has no need for it at all.

        • I knew about that hypothesis, though not by that name. Interesting.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Farrer#Work

        • eric

          The hypothetical proposition before us is that a Christian version of God exists. That version means God isn’t merely omnipotent, but also wise. We have to take all of the baggage into consideration, not cherry-pick to confirm out own bias.

          The problem as I see it is that ‘taking all the baggage’ in your case amounts to circular reasoning. Sure, we could start with the premise that God exists AND is perfectly benevolent AND seemingly bad decisions are actually inscrutably good ones. But then you won’t be able to convince any non-Christian that God exists, is benevolent, or that the inscrutability claim is justified. You’ve just asserted as premises all the interesting claims you want to defend. Nobody is going to be swayed by the demand that they must first accept the entire kit n’ kaboodle of Christian theological claims in a single all-or-nothing lump before they are allowed to argue whether some aspect of Christian theological claims makes sense. You can see how that theological demand amounts to circular reasoning, can’t you?

        • Pofarmer

          I could speculate and come up with any number of reasonable explanations that fit the Christian view.

          Of course you could, and that’s the problem. If you don’t like that answer, oh look, here’s another one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The “gospel” is the good news that we are meant for something better than death.

          Paul relates that Jesus is God, came to Earth to die for our benefit (sounds beneficent to me, but your mileage may vary), and then rose from the dead, proving we can do the same.

          Did Paul relate that though? Or is that just later Christians reading the gospels back into his corpus? Where does it say Jesus came to Earth? Because that would be a very, very, important detail that all scholars have previously missed.

          Those are the major points of the gospel. Everything else is derivative. Paul taught the major points.

          Yeah, that doesn’t quite fly. He teaches the main points in such an ambiguous manner that doesn’t necessitate an earthly Jesus. Even when he is making a point of order to his readers, where citing what Jesus was supposed to have done or said from the later gospel accounts, would copper fasten his assertion as authoritative, he doesn’t. It’s almost as though Paul is ignorant of all those not-so-minor details later found in the four gospels.

          More troubling is that much of Paul’s gospel is in contradiction to the Jesus of the later gospels. And they are not minor points either.

          http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/books/175-pauls-contradictions-of-jesus.html

          You want to quibble about minor details.

          Except many of them are far from minor details and it is something of a concern to a lot of scholars. And the apologetics that have been employed to excuse these omissions are not feasible in the real world.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/12/what-did-paul-know-about-jesus-not-much/

        • Ignorant Amos

          The “gospel” is the good news that we are meant for something better than death.

          It’s only good news if one believes an eternity of anything is more preferable to death. No thanks.

        • eric

          This is one of the ways we can know that God does not exist. Your claim requires no proof as it is only considered as a hypothetical. The same rule applies to me (we are fair, aren’t we?).

          Actually I would say that the null hypothesis does not require equivalent evidential support before being accepted; that’s why we call it the null.

          And the reason for that is very practical; humans make a near-infinite number of claims of entities and causal relationships. To require evidential proof before rejecting them would lead to a form of philosophical paralysis, where we couldn’t believe anything without conducting experiments. Is there a fairy behind me right now? I can’t reject without experimental evidence to the contrary! Is there a ghost in my cupboard? I can’t reject without experimental evidence that it doesn’t exist! Did the phase of the moon cause the my shirt stain? I can’t reject that idea until I test it! See the problem with that approach?

          The sensible approach is to provisionally accept the null (no such entity; no such physics principle or causal relationship between things) until we have some reason to think that such an entity or causal relationship exists. I provisionally accept that the moon doesn’t cause shirt stains and there is no ghost in my cupboard until evidence or a solid argument convinces me otherwise. And the same should go for more divine ghosts too…if you weren’t preconditioned to believe in one. It’s only when the “accept the null hypothesis as a starting point” approach implies bad things for your Christian beliefs that you suddenly demand parity of evidence for it.

        • adam

          ” God, you claim, would not give us an imperfect view, seen dimly as if through foggy glass, of Himself. ”

          So why does a God have the need to deceive?

          “God could certainly make no effort at all to communicate the message,”

          Which it communicates clearly in other instances.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d75f40886a30963d29f96e7ac5c05cad2aeb7bf5d71b350bbea60643eeff355.jpg

        • adam

          “My claim is that God is the wisest possible being. ”

          And how did it get to be so?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

          Why didnt it realize that slavery IS wrong?

        • eric

          An infinitely wise being might make decisions that seem unwise to a less-wise being.

          Inscrutability is a double-edged sword; if you claim humans can’t understand why he communicated the way he did, then you can’t claim to understand the purpose of the message. Maybe he did it this way to deceive us. Or screw with us. Or maybe the gnostics were right and there is a hidden meaning which only some few deep thinkers will learn (and everyone else goes to hell).

          The only way to get out of the ‘inscrutability’ bind is to give some credence to the face value/plain meaning of the text. And at face value, it’s incredibly stupid for a God who loves us and wants us to be saved to use a geographically local oral tradition to communicate the salvation requirements. It leaves too many people ignorant of those requirements, of Jesus’ very existence.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m sure that if we put our minds to it we could come up with some plausible explanations that make sense. My list begins by observing that animal don’t have the option of choosing. No matter how much I might love my animals, they don’t have the same spark we do. But, they do get the same gift of existence. Worst-case scenario, we get that. Not everyone is going to opt for God. There is a culling out of those who do not want to be with God. IMO, there is no satisfying some people.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are a “humans are at the top of the evolutionary ladder” type of guy then?

        • Kodie

          The more I learn about animals, the less sense your god claims make. By your put-down of animals, or unwarranted elevation of humans above them somehow, I can see you know shit about animals. Literally, manure. And pretty much all I can see from humans out and about is how much they are animals, not how different they are, but how same. HOW SAME. What spark are you talking about? The rumor fed to you from a theologist?

        • adam

          “My list begins by observing that animal don’t have the option of choosing. ”

          And humans are animals.

          ” Not everyone is going to opt for God.”

          Not everyone is content to be delusional.

          ” IMO, there is no satisfying some people.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9370bdaaa4ce47ef14fd6ff4ae1eeedf100948a5914eb7992c570698c1cbafcf.jpg

        • eric

          there is no satisfying some people

          That may be true, but any critter worthy of the appellation “omnipotent” should be able to do better than 30% of the population convinced of its existence after 2,000+ years of messaging…and any critter worthy of the “benevolent” appellation should want to.

          Look, if God beamed his salvation message into everyone’s brains and only 99% of people accepted it, you’d have a point. I would grant you the recalcitrant 1% is due to obstinate human nature, not God’s inadequacies. But that is nowhere near the situation we are actually in. According to Christianity’s own theology, untold millions and billions have gone to eternal suffering, hell, and damnation at least in part because God chose to communicate the way he did, and this communication strategy did not reach or convince large swaths of people. That’s not all-loving; it’s not even close. And if you want to say it’s inscrutable or inexplicable, I’ll agree, but I’ll point out again that “inscrutable” is at least equally consistent with ‘malicious god’ or ‘trickster god’ than it is ‘benevolent god,’ while ‘inexplicable’ is far more consistent with ‘human-generated story’ than ‘benevolent god who wants us to believe in him’

        • adam

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9bfb7cbb09a39ae8911c3879d7def113ab5277eb302961e16b02b2a649a0e7d6.jpg

          but I’ll point out again that “inscrutable” is at least equally consistent with ‘malicious god’ or ‘trickster god’

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your premise is that God would not do [long paragraph]. How do you know God would not do that? How do you know that God is really only interested in 1 or 2 of us and the rest can just live out their lives and die like any other animal (or plant, to satisfy the easily-offended)?

          You say in one breath that God did not convince large swaths of people, and then in the next that billions have been convinced by the available evidence. Those don’t jibe. What that tells you is that some get it and others don’t. Nothing more. As Bob pointed out recently, you can lay out the case under people’s noses, and some of them will change their minds while other just entrench all the more ferociously.

        • Greg G.

          You say in one breath that God did not convince large swaths of people, and then in the next that billions have been convinced by the available evidence.

          What evidence? We keep asking but all we are given are ambiguous claims that only a gullible person would be convinced by. But there are people who are gullible enough to accept other religions on the same evidence.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The evidence that Christians find convincing and you don’t. Clearly, any evidence that you don’t find convincing isn’t really evidence, is it? And, anyone who does find it convincing, is “gullible”. You’ve created a no-win scenario for those that disagree with you, and confirmed your own bias in the process.

          The point above is that large swaths of people do believe in the Christian interpretation of God. An even larger swath (Christianity-Plus) believes that there is a single creator of everything. That number swells even more when one includes those who believe in the supernatural. They have sufficient evidence to justify their beliefs.

          They must be the idiots to your superior intelligence.

        • Greg G.

          Provide the evidence that convinces you.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’ve been down that road with atheists in the past, and it leads nowhere. I would commend to you the accounts of atheists like C.S. Lewis, Andrew Klavan, and Lee Strobel

        • Kodie

          It doesn’t go well because it’s not evidence. You go ahead and believe whatever you want to. Why does it bother you that others might not agree? Do you need… validation for your beliefs? Sorry, your apologists’ accounts are unimpressive. They bought bullshit like you did. Does it really tick you off when people remind you that your beliefs are indefensible bullshit? I mean, if you can’t defend it. You’ve had other conversations with other atheists and it goes “nowhere” because you don’t learn anything new, and you don’t have anything new.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Clement Agonistes

          Since you are going to dismiss Stroble’s writings without reading them, maybe you will consider one of the other choices I presented.

          The name-calling, BTW, is what I was trying to avoid having aimed at me

        • Ignorant Amos

          C.S. Lewis is from my home town of Belfast. He seems to have been very confused and easily lead. I’ve read some bit’s and piece’s, but nothing that impresses.

          The name-calling, BTW, is what I was trying to avoid having aimed at me.

          Where is the name calling?

        • Greg G.

          I never heard of Klavan. Lewis asks us to consider “Lord, Lunatic, or Liar”, a false trichotomy that omits “Legend”. Strobel pretends to be a skeptic but goes with only softball questions.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Must be this guy….

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

          How did you finally come to believe in Jesus?

          No one could’ve been more surprised than me, really. I had started to pray—almost off-handedly, almost as an experiment. But the effect of it on my life was huge. In fact, over the course of, say, three or four years, I realized that steady personal prayer had changed and improved my entire life, inside and out. And I was humbled by that, you know, and I sort of said to God, “Dude, you’ve done this incredible thing for me, and I’d like to do something for you. But I’m just me and you’re, like, God. What can I possibly do?” And the answer came back to me almost instantly: I had to get baptized. And I was, like, “You gotta be kidding me! Do I even believe in that?” But when I started to think it through, I realized that I did.

          One of my biggest fears confronting baptism—took me five months to work through it—was I didn’t want anyone to think I was turning my back on Jews, trying to escape my Jewish identity. The default mode with some Jews is to assume you’re trying to “pass as gentile” or blend in or that you hate your Jewishness and are joining the enemy. All understandable, because the Jews are the most mistreated group of people on the face of the planet and some of that trouble has come out of Christian sources, which stinks. Oddly, though, accepting Jesus made me feel more Jewish than I ever had, religiously at least. I had no connection to the Old Testament particularly, until I accepted the New.

          https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v19-n02/andrew-klavan/

        • Clement Agonistes

          The mainstream of study says the guy actually existed. If he existed and said something crazy, then he is crazy.

          There’s more to Lewis than that one quote.

        • Pofarmer

          The mainstream of study believes about 97% that the guy was a deity. Around 60% work for institutions that require statements of faith.

        • Greg G.

          The mainstream came to that belief as children, not as scholars and not as critical thinkers. If they came upon it rationally, there should be a way to lay out the evidence to show it as more likely than not.

          When they start with the assumption that the gospels are basically true, they are assuming the conclusion. Then they assume the existence of other documents to support their initial assumption. There probably were other sources but they assume they are lost to history.

          Many ancient authors wrote “midrash”, as the Jews called it, “mimesis”, as the Greeks called it, and “imitatio”, as the Romans called it. The Jews based their midrash on OT scripture. The Greeks and Romans often borrowed from Homer. GMark appears to have combined those sources and the news of the day. The miracles are repeats of the miracles of Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Hermes, and Vespasian. Many of the non-miracle parts appear to have similar bases. When those passages are removed, gMark is Jesus going to places immediately.

          The other gospels rely on gMark’s fictions, so they are unreliable, too. Matthew appears to be borrowing topics from the epistles, especially eJames, and putting the words in Jesus’ mouth. GLuke has lots of “coincidences” with Josephus in the parts that are not from Mark and Matthew, and even more in Acts. GJohn appears to have read Philo of Alexandria and also included some Egyptian theology about Isis and those gods.

          But the mainstream prefers to ignore the likely sources of the gospels.

          There’s more to Lewis than that one quote.

          But Lewis doesn’t get any better than that one quote.

        • Kodie
        • Susan

          I’ve been down that road with atheists before and it leads nowhere

          So, you’ve got nothing.

          They must be the idiots to your superior intelligence.

          Greg didn’t say you were an idiot. He just asked you for evidence.

          He didn’t say his intelligence was superior.

          He asked you for evidence.

          Got evidence?

        • Pofarmer

          They have sufficient evidence to justify their beliefs.

          Sure they do. So do Scientologists. So do Mormons. So do Jainests. So do Buddhists. So did the Aztecs. So did the Navajo and the Inuit.

        • Susan

          So do Scientologists. So do Mormons. So do Jainests. So do Buddhists. So did the Aztecs. So did the Navajo and the Inuit.

          So do people who give their savings to psychics and faith healers. So do people who believe in vampires. So do racists. So do anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers. So do Trump supporters. So do gamblers with addictiion problems. So do “Elvis lives” advocates. So, do “Paul McCartney is dead” advocates.

          So do “OJ is innocent” people.

          People are terrible at evaluating evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          People are very good at rationalizing the beliefs they already hold, though.

        • Susan

          People are very good at rationalizing the beliefs they already hold, though.

          It’s a hell of an untrustworthy combination.

        • Pofarmer

          Which leads us to Feynman.

          “Never fool yourself, and you are the easiest one to fool.”

        • Kodie

          There must be an evolutionary advantage though, right? I think if one is bad at evaluating evidence, but it was really easy to change your mind according to the blowing of the wind, it wouldn’t be better. I feel like there must be something to sticking to one thing, attaching a feeling that it must be right, defending it to critics, etc.

        • Clement Agonistes

          — and atheists.

          Therefore, I should reject any beliefs anyone has?

          Those people you mention all would have an innate sense that there is something beyond the natural world. Does that rouse your curiosity at all?

        • Pofarmer

          Does that rouse your curiosity at all?

          Sure it does. I want to know why people believe these things. So far, “Because the Angel Moroni spoke to Joseph Smith” hasn’t been a valid answer. We look for the universal attributes that cause religious belief.

          http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/10/religion-for-the-nonreligious.html

        • BlackMamba44

          That was an amazing read. 🙂

        • Pofarmer

          Thank you.

        • Greg G.

          Therefore, I should reject any beliefs anyone has?

          It depends on how outlandish the beliefs are and whether they have evidence or a reason to support their beliefs. If someone says their grandfather has an Edsel in his barn, I might take their word for it. Even a Corvette. But if he says his grandfather has a spaceship capable of interstellar flight, I’m going to need evidence before I accept it.

          If you say you have a voice in your head, I might believe you but I will be suspicious of what you say you learned from that voice.

          Those people you mention all would have an innate sense that there is something beyond the natural world. Does that rouse your curiosity at all?

          Sure, but the first people who came up with those didn’t have an understanding of the natural world, so they couldn’t distinguish those things as not being of the natural world. Now we understand how weather works, what the stars, planets, and meteors are. We don’t have to imagine that they have anything to do with a supernatural realm. Neither should you.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You are still doing it – you are dismissing other people’s intellect in order to validate your disagreement with them. “It’s understandable that ignorant people from the past would be stupid. They didn’t know about the natural world (observatories be damned).” So, what about modern, scientifically-inclined theists?

          It’s not that easily dismissed. When I asked about curiosity, I was hoping it went deeper than the surface layer.

        • epeeist

          It’s understandable that ignorant people from the past would be stupid.

          Except that isn’t what is being said. The claim is not that people of previous eras were stupid but that they didn’t have the accumulated knowledge that we do.

        • Greg G.

          So, what about modern, scientifically-inclined theists?

          They have fallen in love with an explanation that no longer explains anything it was contrived to explain so they look for things to explain that the ancients couldn’t know about. Modern theists ask what came before the Big Bang, and give their answer with no more evidence than the ancients had for thunder and lightning.

          When I asked about curiosity, I was hoping it went deeper than the surface layer.

          We all have thoughts pop into our heads. Some are immediately rejected. Some we must consider before rejecting them. Some might be good ideas that must be tested which might make one rich through the betterment of science and technology. But there is a set of ideas that can pop in that cannot be tested. We should be skeptical of them because most wild ideas are wrong. If there is no good evidence for anything like that, we should be especially skeptical. When we start to contrive excuses for the lack of evidence, it’s time to reject the idea until there is good evidence for it. All ideas about the supernatural fall into that last category. There is just no way to distinguish a true idea from a wild, random idea. It’s like choosing to believe the DeLorean in grandpa’s barn is capable of time-travel.

          It is about critical thinking and the recognition of the foibles of our brains. We are susceptible to confirmation bias. That is useful for creatures trying to find enough food to survive. Checking locations where food was found before is no worse than random searching at its worst but occasionally it re-inforces something right.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, why do modern theists with all the access to science develop a bias against science and continue to say ignorant shit? You have an unwarranted preference for human intelligence, and you don’t know shit about animals. Shit, you mean you can’t even get PBS shows in your house? They come right into your house, all you have to do is turn on the fucking television and park yourself. So, why are you still so biased against animals?

        • Kodie

          I feel like atheism has already been explained to you, but you ignored it, so you have no excuse for your extreme mistake. Do you believe the claims of those other religions? Why not? I don’t either, and neither do I believe your claims. What am I supposed to do with not being convinced of equivalent claims from many cultures of some supernatural events/cosmic contact with some other realm, etc.? I DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU. You have to do better or else I have no choice but to call myself an atheist. Are you the first honest Christian? All signs point to no.

        • Kodie

          Most of the topics on this blog pick at the gaping holes in whatever you consider “evidence”. It lacks credibility. If you defend one item of “evidence”, you can’t defend all of them without contradiction. Yes, you NO WIN. It’s not bias, it’s how critical thinking works. Large swaths of people do whatever everyone else is doing. Try to tell me they are all independently convinced because of your “evidence”. Try.

          Then you go and try to bring animals into your argument. I can already tell you are biased against animals and know nothing about any of them.

        • adam

          “You say in one breath that God did not convince large swaths of people, and then in the next that billions have been convinced by the available
          evidence. ”

          MOST people do not believe in the same God as you.

          So ONE of you is a disasterous failure.

        • Joe

          How do you know God would not do that?

          Ho does anyone know what a God will do, won’t do, can do, did do………?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Christian’s are forever claiming that us mere human mortals cannot possibly fathom the mind of YahwehJesus by knowing God type shit….and then they set about claiming to know just such God type shit.

        • Max Doubt

          “As Bob pointed out recently, you can lay out the case under people’s noses, and some of them will change their minds while other just entrench all the more ferociously.”

          The case on the existence of a god is this: You are unable to objectively differentiate between what you believe is a god and any other figment of your imagination.

          The case on accepting your claim as true is this: Since you can’t make an objective distinction between your supposed god and any other figment of your imagination, your claim that gods are real can be dismissed as just another among many things you imagine.

        • Greg G.

          How do you know God would not do that? How do you know that God is really only interested in 1 or 2 of us and the rest can just live out their lives and die like any other animal (or plant, to satisfy the easily-offended)?

          How do you know that God would do anything for that matter? How do you know that God even cares whether you believe or not?

          If anyone can claim that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, we can presume that God would act according to those adjectives. If we see unnecessary suffering, we know that there is no being that is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent as that being would have the power to prevent all suffering and would care enough to prevent it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          As I said earlier, wisdom is the linchpin. I get statements like, “that is stupid”, “It doesn’t make sense…” It isn’t stupid, and makes sense if those actions are taken for good reason. In the Christian hypothetical before us, God is all the things you described plus totally wise. If you take away that, you don’t have the God of Christianity any more.

          And, yes, I do see how this puts you in a no-win situation (welcome to my world, BTW).

        • Greg G.

          Suffering exists.

          “Omnipotent” means having the ability to do anything but it is undone by questions like, “Can God make a rock so big…” The weak definition of “omnipotent” is the ability to do anything that is logically possible to do.

          If suffering can achieve any positive outcome, then that outcome is logically possible to do. That means that the claim of a weak omnipotence means that the outcome is possible to achieve without the suffering, which means the suffering is superfluous. But even if there is a being that is sufficiently powerful to achieve the outcomes of suffering, so there is a problem without even the assertion of omnipotence.

          If there is superfluous suffering, then it is sadistic for an omnipotence or a sufficiently powerful being to permit it. A sadistic streak rules out that the being is omnibenevolent.

          No amount of omni-wisdom can get around that. You must choose between omnibenevolence (or not-sadistic) and omnipotence (or merely sufficiently powerful).

          Since suffering exists, either there is no being capable of preventing it, no being that cares enough to prevent it, or no being that is capable of doing either. I think there are people who would choose to prevent all suffering if they could. I think one of my old dogs would’ve done it. Unfortunately, none of them are gods.

          When you decide which you must remove from your conception of God, ask yourself if it is even worth believing in what remains.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Earlier, I used the analogy of the immunization of a 2-yr-old. The 2yo only sees the suffering. The parent has good reason to immunize the child. The suffering exists. The parent has the power to prevent that suffering, yet chooses not to.

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe we could talk about the indoctrination of a 2 year old.

        • eric

          You did. But the analogy of pigs being kept complacent in a slaughterhouse fits the evidence just as well, and you have no way to tell the difference if God’s choices are not understandable by humans.

          OTOH if you claim we can understand those choices by reading the Bible, then it appears based on the bible that God’s idea of benevolence is not our idea of benevolence. Which is equivalent to saying he is not benevolent the way we define it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, the narrative that the child tells himself is that his parents love him, and are worthy of trust (having faith in them).

        • eric

          We get the narrative. Everyone understands your analogy. What you don’t get is that you have nothing, nada, bubkis, as reason or evidence to support the analogy being valid. If it holds, you might have an explanation. Now give us some reason to think it does hold – a reason that doesn’t involve circularly assuming the bible is true in order to prove that the bible is true.

        • Clement Agonistes

          What I have is the Christian attribute of God that He is totally wise. In the hypothetical being discussed, the issue was whether God would communicate perfectly. It isn’t a question of whether God exists or not. It is a question of whether the Christian version of God fits reality. We seem to agree that the attribute of omnipotence gives Him the power to do communicate perfectly. That doesn’t make it the right thing to do. It doesn’t follow that God might not have a wise reason for choosing imperfect communication. “good enough” could be the best choice.

        • Greg G.

          Sometimes that child’s narrative is correct.

          My great-grandmother died when my grandfather was four years old. He didn’t like his step-mother.

          My grandmother told me a story he had told her about the girlfriend he had before he met my grandmother. He was going to visit her one day. Just as he got to the door, he heard her arguing with her mother. He was so shocked that someone would say such things to their real mother that he turned around, walked away, and never saw her again.

          I wonder if my grandfather had an idealized image of his mother that his step-mother had no chance of meeting. Any punishment he may have deserved would seem to be far in excess of what his real mother would have meted out. He had no experience in working out one’s anger with one’s mother, yet still loving one another.

          On the other hand, I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t called it off with that girl when he did.

        • Kodie

          The narrative is that no one sadistically brings their child to get vaccinations and cackles while their child is in pain. Everyone involved does everything they can to calm, soothe, comfort, and prepare the child for a little pinch. And it doesn’t hurt for a very long time, so the child can actually learn that some pains like shots that we need hurt but they hurt as little as they possibly can.

          But why would you give a child cancer or starve them to death?

        • epeeist

          Earlier, I used the analogy of the immunization of a 2-yr-old.

          But your analogy doesn’t work. Your god is supposedly omnipotent and could therefore ensure that something like immunisation does not entail suffering. A parent, not so much.

        • Kodie

          You’re a sick fuck.

          I know this has already been addressed, I believe it was eric. You have no reason to believe any suffering that humans go through is for good. You only have to cling to the hope that it is because you can’t cope if it isn’t. Sorry, but that is your poisonous religion blinding you to suffering to glorify your imaginary friend. Read your disqus replies and find that post by eric (IIRC, that’s who it was).

        • Joe

          If there was a way of immunizing the child without an injection, do you think it would be better to do that instead?

          The suffering is not beneficial, the antibodies produced by the body are what is beneficial. The suffering is unnecessary, but it’s the best we as humans can do.

        • Greg G.

          Parents are not omnipotent and must choose the lesser of the two evils. An omnipotent being would not have to choose the lesser of two evils.

          If a parent could give the kid a piece of candy that provided the immunization just as effectively, which do you think a parent would choose?

        • Clement Agonistes

          The parent and the child are human. Neither is omnipotent or omniscient.

          It’s just analogy to help you understand that something good might appear cruel to someone who is not wise. Do you grasp that such a thing is possible?

        • Kodie

          Another patented shitty Christian analogy that erases human suffering by pretending it’s great! Why are you guys always trying to moralize and lecture people on behavior when creating suffering must be the best?

          I don’t think you understand the implications at all. Go die and ask god, that’s how you answer difficult questions. I answer them – we are animals on a planet in an indifferent universe, where we try to get along, don’t always agree, and we’re all in this together as best we can do. It’s not always pleasant or good. That’s it. That’s the answer. Your fairy tale makes you a monster by comparison.

        • Kodie

          Kind of tangential, but why do we have to learn anything. If there is any good that comes from suffering, why do we have to improve, and why doesn’t everyone improve through suffering? It would be “bring on the suffering” if so.

          I was listening to Boston Public Radio the other day during the Boston Marathon, and they had a guest on who was bombed, and his wife was bombed at the marathon 2013, and he was talking about how she had just gotten a service animal from NEADS, I mean they’re amputees. The commentary went on, she’s not actually doing so great. It’s hard to come back from a trauma so great and devastating. This is not made easier by thinking, it’s been 4 years, everything should be as close to normal as it can be by now. And she’s not. This is not made easier by people like, say, me or anyone else in this town, who wasn’t there, who might look to inspiring victims who are not only getting on with their lives, but running that marathon with their prostheses and handcycles and giving the big fat middle finger to terrorists. And she can’t.

          Part of this “suffering for good” narrative leans heavily on those heroic handicapped people, which is a sociological topic in itself. Using other people to feel good about yourself, or depending on caricatures like the merry retard, the handicapable wheelchair athletes, etc. as a source of inspiration is actually kind of sick. They don’t like to be exploited! They’re humans, not cartoons! They don’t feel like putting on a show to impress you or inspire you. It’s a matter of sometimes they overcome their differences, but sometimes they feel obligated to dance for your pleasure, to show you they “can do it” so you don’t feel pity. Can’t they just be people who are normal like you or me, who is who they are and isn’t putting on a demonstration.

          Another “suffering for good” area that strikes me is the poverty-stricken baby from the inner city who overcomes all odds and has a fantastic life – well, nobody in that situation should have an abortion just in case we get that one who triumphs over their circumstances, who keeps their head on straight in this environment, who can go the distance and get out of the ghetto. Is that a possibility? That’s always a possibility. It’s not a good enough reason to stay pregnant and give birth.

          In the “forgiving” nature of Jesus, these Christians are taught to look – in very specific cases – to the long shot. We can safely ignore people who don’t inspire us, we can even denigrate them as a population and call them welfare queens, for example, or find it surprising that someone in a wheelchair isn’t patient and adorable in that certain way. I keep saying this is just the most patronizing kind of argument. I mean, it looks like you don’t have to actually have your legs blown off in a sudden terrorist explosion to learn something, but too bad you don’t also learn about exploiting others.

        • eric

          Your premise is that God would not do [long paragraph]. How do you know God would not do that?

          As Bob said, what we do is think about whether the actions of Jesus and hiddenness of God is consistent with the concept of God as described by Christians. We aren’t testing all possible conceptions of God for consistency with the world, because clearly some conceptions will be consistent with it (deism, tricksters, etc.). We’re testing the standard Christian conception, which portrays God as able to communicate his wishes to humans, omnipotent, loving…and standing by not-communicating while people go to hell out of ignorance of Jesus. That’s an internal inconsistency for which there is no sound explanation. And no, ‘God’s ways are inscrutable’ doesn’t cut it, because Christians spend lots and lots of time trying to convince non-Christians that God’s wishes for humanity and his benevolence is very scrutable.

          So I don’t know what a deist or a trickster God would do. But I can say that your conception of God appears inconsistent with your Bible’s description of his actions.

          You say in one breath that God did not convince large swaths of people, and then in the next that billions have been convinced by the available evidence. Those don’t jibe.

          Of course they do, because there are 7 billion people on the planet now and even more when we consider thousands of years of history. So, 30% of 7 billion is both ‘convincing billions’ and ‘not convincing large swaths of people.’

          God cares about the people who could not and did not hear about Jesus in the centuries after his life, when the gospels were being orally propagated and written down, right? And the souls who lived B.C., right? So how is oral transmission of the requirements for salvation to a small percent of the world’s population in 30 AD, and growing slowly from that time forward over 2,000 years, being benevolent towards those other people?

        • Kodie

          You are confused. God didn’t convince all those people. Their lizard brains following whatever their neighbors think is a good idea did.

          Some don’t get it. They think that’s evidence of god.

        • Michael Neville

          How do you know God would not do that?

          Because according to your propaganda your god is omnibenevolent (along with assorted other omnis). An all-good, all-loving god would not have invented Hell and send people there for forever because they didn’t believe in him. That’s what an abusive, sadistic god would do. So make your choice, does Hell exist or is your god omnibenevolent?

        • Greg G.

          My list begins by observing that animal don’t have the option of choosing.

          If given options, animals will choose. When we were kids, we fed our dog a can of dog food on top of dry dog food. She always chose to eat the canned food first and chose to eat the dry food when she was hungry or just had the munchies.

          I had two dogs a few years ago. One loved to swim and the other would wade until she accidentally found a deep spot, then she chose to stay on the bank with me. One of them liked to scratch her back on the limbs of some bushes while the other never did that. Both of them were free to do the same things but each had their own preferences.

          Koko the gorilla learned sign language similar to the signs used by the deaf. She can express her choices in language.

          A researcher did the same with several chimpanzees. The baby of one of the chimpanzees learned to sign from the other chimps and from humans but he preferred to sign with the chimps until one intern came. He would watch her talk to him by sign for long periods more than any other people. It turned out that she had a brother who was deaf and she had been signing her whole life, so she was more fluent than the other humans. The chimpanzee made a choice.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Choosing …to believe or not believe in God.

        • Greg G.

          There are hundreds of things in my office. I cannot choose to believe they exist or do not exist. I am compelled by the evidence that they exist to conclude they do exist. I cannot choose to believe there is a million dollars in the filing cabinet.

          Choosing to believe something is pretending to believe it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Just to be clear, a dog choosing one brand of dogfood over another is not the same as a human choosing to believe in God. No other animal has anywhere near the intellectual capacity that we have. Not all choices are created equal. You draw a false equivalency here.

          Come on, Greg. This is not a tactic worthy of you.

        • adam

          ” a dog choosing one brand of dogfood over another is not the same as a human choosing to believe in God.”

          Why not?

          ” No other animal has anywhere near the intellectual capacity that we have. ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a29efcba0ee94d4f84d4a43b6bc78a04d7180523d05f7132222fdad4c7046acd.jpg

          How does that demonstrate itself in the face of believing childish things?

        • Greg G.

          The dog argument was because you were not specifying the choice and I was not following the thread. But you have not addressed the post you replied to.

          Choosing to believe something is pretending to believe it.

        • Joe

          Not all choices are created equal. You draw a false equivalency here.

          You’re right, choosing a brand of dog food is infinitely more important than choosing something that is imaginary.

        • Pofarmer
        • Kodie

          What kind of animal believes whatever all the other animals say to believe without any credible evidence? Not me.

        • MR

          In your zeal, you overlooked responding to the actual post:

          There are hundreds of things in my office. I cannot choose to believe they exist or do not exist. I am compelled by the evidence that they exist to conclude they do exist. I cannot choose to believe there is a million dollars in the filing cabinet.

          Choosing to believe something is pretending to believe it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Either Greg misunderstood my point or was purposely diverting the conversation. I had already addressed similar comments, and repetition served no purpose.

        • MR

          Following the thread up, I do not see that this is addressed. Perhaps you could link to your answer.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t know how to do that, and can’t find anything on this thread anyway.

          I will be glad to clarify my point about animals not having the same intellect as humans, if that would help. Do you have questions about that, or is this merely an effort to run the conversation off the rails?

        • MR

          It’s not at all an effort to derail the conversation; you’re quite free to continue that vein with Greg. It seems to me, however, that the principal point of this argument is about “choosing to believe.” Greg brought up a powerful point that I’d like to see you address. If you’ve already addressed it, it shouldn’t be that difficult. If you’re purposefully avoiding addressing it, that seems a “tactic not worthy of you.” So, please, how does one “choose to believe” that something exists? Please address Greg’s point.

        • Kodie

          You go to your disqus account and scroll down until you find your comment(s), and then click on where it says the time (4 hours ago, 3 months ago, etc.) next to your name. It will feature that post and provide a url directly linking to it. If you want to direct links to the Cross Examined site on Patheos, highlight any comment using the same method, but you can copy the comment number at the end of the url and paste it over the comment number on the random post you selected and then copy and paste that url to a post where you support your claim. Or pretend you said something you didn’t say.

        • Greg G.

          No, I don’t understand the concept of choosing to believe something. I can’t choose to believe the moon is made of green cheese. I might have believed it when I had no idea what the moon was so I would have accepted what my uncle said. But when I learned to figure out that I need to find out how someone knows something before accepting a claim, it became impossible to accept that the moon was made of any kind of cheese.

          I may choose to take a chance on a lottery ticket knowing I probably won’t win while enjoying the fantasy that I might, but I’m not trying to convince the Rolls Royce dealer that I will be able to afford one because I don’t expect to win and I can’t choose to expect to win.

        • Clement Agonistes

          OK. So the post I was replying to asserted that there was no good reason for God to choose to leave out some people. I replied that the human intellect allows for a being which is capable of deciding whether or not to believe in God.

          Animals don

        • Greg G.

          But why would a god leave out those who are compelled to believe by evidence and favor those who choose to believe with no good evidence. It seems that a rational god would do it the other way around to weed out the gullible.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You are asking me to speculate on my earlier speculation, but OK:

          I think the whole “evidence” line is hooey. Evidence the size of Jupiter still wouldn’t be enough.

        • Greg G.

          Size doesn’t matter. It is the quality of the evidence.

        • Joe

          That’s what I tell my wife, anyway.

        • MR

          Perhaps you can help provide some insight on what kind of evidence would be enough. If a Hindu said to you, “Christianity is wrong, my religion is the one true religion, and I can provide you whatever evidence you like,” what evidence would convince you?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Oddly, I had a discussion with a Hindu yesterday. She stated that the Christian concept of God fits under the Hindu umbrella. We got a chuckle out of Hinduism winning by a score of 18 – 3.

          I think Bob stated it well a couple of days ago – (paraphrasing) we are all responsible for ourselves, and have to make our own decisions with what we have to work with. Christianity is the best fit for my view of reality. As I said earlier, I think the whole “evidence” thing is hooey. We’re not talking about a chemical reaction here. We are talking about a view of reality. We make massive leaps of faith without proper evidence, and don’t give it a second thought. Then, all of a sudden, it’s “I need evidence”. Sure, but first go back to Square 1 and undo those leaps. Question everything.

        • Philmonomer

          This week’s The Atheist Experience with Matt Dilahunty (Podcast) talks about this at length. That is, the episode talks about hard solipsism. The upshot was that one shouldn’t confuse “the lack of absolute certainty” about something with taking it “on faith.” They are two different things.

        • Clement Agonistes

          My thought is, “What difference does it make?” Even if I only existed in the mind of some other being, this is what I’ve got. For me, this is as real as it gets.

          However, at its core, I am willing to accept my own existence as a “given”; without evidence. The limits I have can allow for nothing else. I cannot resolve the issue. Demanding evidence is absurd.

        • Philmonomer

          However, at its core, I am willing to accept my own existence as a
          “given”; without evidence.

          What do you mean “without evidence”? You have lots and lots of evidence for your own existence. Now you might ultimately be wrong about that evidence (you could be a brain in a vat), but you have lots of good reasons to believe that’s not true.

          The limits I have can allow for nothing
          else. I cannot resolve the issue.

          You cannot ultimately know whether “last Thursdayism” is true. Or whether you are a brain in a vat. But, again, you have lots of good reasons to think those things aren’t true. Just because you can’t be absolutely sure you are NOT a brain in a vat does NOT mean that we have to take it on faith that we aren’t brains in a vat. Or that we have no good reasons to believe that we aren’t.

          Demanding evidence is absurd.

          No, it’s not. Christ rising from the grave, for example, is an incredible event, miraculous. We have good reason to believe it didn’t happen. We would need to demand a lot of evidence to demonstrate that it did.

        • MR

          Demanding evidence is absurd.

          So you might as well believe anything anyone ever tells you.

        • Philmonomer

          Good point. As far as I can tell from Celment, he seems to be saying that just because we can’t be absolutely certain about anything, it means we are justified in believing anything. Obviously, that’s absurd.

        • eric

          He also seems to be saying that no evidence God could provide would change anyone’s mind (his quote: “Evidence the size of Jupiter still wouldn’t be enough”). Besides being biblically contradicted and facially absurd, that claim makes God’s omnipotence and omniscience quite impotent. Evidently He’s unable to do what revival-tent preachers claim to do practically all the time. Popoff is/was a fraud, but he was evidently superior to Clement’s God at swaying people’s opinion. He could change minds using mere stage magic in a way Clement implies God is incapable of doing even with actual magic.

        • Clement Agonistes

          1. It is impossible for anyone to come back from the dead after about 20 minutes.
          Jesus had been dead for a couple of days.
          So, Jesus could not have come back from the dead
          Because it is impossible for anyone to come back from the dead after about 20 minutes.

          2. It would take a non-natural event in order for Jesus to come back to life after being dead for a couple of days.
          There is no convincing natural evidence for a non-natural event happening to Jesus (only unreliable eyewitness or hear-say accounts).
          So, there was no non-natural event that brought Jesus back to life.
          Because there is no convincing natural evidence for non-natural events.

        • Philmonomer

          I’m not sure I’m following you. But, if you are paraphrasing things you think I’d say, you’ve got it wrong.

          It is impossible for anyone to come back from the dead after about 20 minutes

          I don’t know that this is impossible. As an initial matter, we have several things going on here 1) what do you mean by “dead?” 2) we have actual instances of people coming back from “the dead” after 20 minutes (just google it).

          However, if your larger point is that, if someone is really, really dead (not just “brain dead” or some version of “not quite dead”), then they don’t come back to life after say, several hours, than I agree.

          However, I don’t know that “it’s impossible.” That’s a claim about the world that I can’t prove. I say that it is extraordinarily unlikely. I say that it has probably never happened. Whenever people claim something like this has happened, the evidence falls apart.

          Jesus had been dead for a couple of days.
          So, Jesus could not have come back from the dea.

          Someone claiming as a fact that Jesus has come back from the dead would be extraordinary. It would require a great deal of evidence to believe it (as we know, generally speaking, people don’t come back from the dead. We don’t know it’s impossible.)

          Because it is impossible for anyone to come back from the dead after about 20 minutes.

          Now, this is an amazing claim. How do you prove it?

        • Clement Agonistes

          The “20 minutes” was not the trick part of that post. But, you are right to be suspicious.

          1) “Dead” is dead. Not Princess Bride, “only mostly dead”. Not trapped under the ice in a freezing pond dead. The Real McCoy dead.
          2) For the sake of clarity, let’s make it, “3 hours without breathing, no pulse, and a Roman spear through the chest. Pilate is not going to fetch the defibrilator while Caiaphus delivers CPR.

          D-E-A-D. Not “resting”. Not “stunned”. Not “pining for the fjords”. He has passed on. He is no more. He has ceased to be. He has expired. He has gone to meet his maker. He is a stiff. He is pushing up daisies. His metabolic processes are history. He has kicked the bucket. He has shuffled off this mortal coil. He is an ex-person.

          What I was trying to do was to state your logical case in a concise, unambiguous manner. Now, do the assumptions lead logically to the conclusions? Are those assumptions solid and supported? Are there any logical fallacies? This is purely an exercise in logic.

        • Philmonomer

          D-E-A-D. Not “resting”. Not “stunned”. Not “pining for the fjords”. He has passed on. He is no more. He has ceased to be. He has expired. He has gone to meet his maker. He is a stiff. He is pushing up daisies. His metabolic processes are history. He has kicked the bucket. He has shuffled off this mortal coil. He is an ex-person.

          Ok, this was pretty funny.

        • Philmonomer

          Got it. I think I responded (between my two comments) where I agree and disagree with your summary of my “logical case.”

          It isn’t my position (or, as far as I know, any atheist’s position here) that we can know it was impossible that Jesus was raised from the dead. I think Bob mentioned, many comments ago, that we are talking about “probabilities.”

        • Michael Neville

          +1 for the Monty Python reference.

        • Philmonomer

          2. It would take a non-natural event in order for Jesus to come back to life after being dead for a couple of days.

          If someone was stone cold dead for several days, and they came back to life, I’d take that to be a non-natural event (assuming that there was not an explanation available–e.g. new technology).

          There is no convincing natural evidence for a non-natural event happening to Jesus (only unreliable eyewitness or hear-say accounts).

          Huh? The evidence that we have that Jesus actually rose from the dead is poor. (Why are you throwing in the adjective “natural” to describe evidence? ) The much more likely explanation is that disciples/followers had visions of him after he was dead and/or people came to tell stories of other people having seen him (sort of like urban legends). People came to believe that he had risen from the dead, when he had not, in fact, done so. (In fact, we know this sort of thing happens.)

          So, there was no non-natural event that brought Jesus back to life.

          I don’t know that there was “no non-natural event” that brought Jesus back to life. I just consider the odds of it happening to be incredibly small. The overwhelming likelihood is that it did not happen.

          Because there is no convincing natural evidence for non-natural events.

          The most likely explanation is that Jesus was not brought back from the dead, because the evidence we have is poor, and is (generally speaking) consistent with other stories of people having visions of dead/departed ones.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just about sums it up bar the 20 mins bit.

          Dead means no longer alive. It is impossible for anyone to come back from the dead,… period.

          So, Jesus could not have come back from the dead Because it is impossible for anyone to come back from the dead after about 20 minutes.

          Thanks for showing Christianity a nonsense.

          Christian theology is summarized in creeds such as the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. These professions of faith state that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, descended into hell, and rose from the dead, in order to grant eternal life to those who believe in him and trust in him for the remission of their sins….His incarnation, earthly ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection are often referred to as “the gospel”, meaning “good news”.

          The Resurrection being….

          Resurrection is the concept of coming back to life after death. In a number of ancient religions, a dying-and-rising god is a deity which dies and resurrects. The death and resurrection of Jesus, an example of resurrection, is the central focus of Christianity.

          The resurrection of Jesus is the Christian religious belief that, after being put to death, Jesus rose again from the dead. It is the central tenet of Christian theology and part of the Nicene Creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures”.

          So according to you and Paul, your faith is futile.

          “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”(1 Cor 15:17–19)

          Glad we cleared that up. Next?

        • Kodie
        • epeeist

          Because there is no convincing natural evidence for non-natural events.

          You are begging the question, first show that there exist “non-natural events”.

        • Greg G.

          You have prima facie evidence that you exist. A reality is presented to you. You can interact with the reality that is presented to you. In this reality as it is presented, we can imagine things that are not in the reality presented to us. We can imagine things that are in the reality presented to us. Evidence is how we distinguish which parts of our imagination are part of the reality presented to us.

          We can imagine many sorts of super-realities that our reality is a subset of but it would be impossible to tell which of the imaginary super-realities is real because there is no evidence in the reality presented to us to make the determination.

          Making a choice to believe in one is as foolish as choosing to believe you have 102 million dollars in the checking account presented to you in this reality and not 101 million or 103 million dollars. It’s just an arbitrary choice.

          You are presented the same evidence for being a dream of Vishnu, last Thursdayism, a brain in a vat, a product of a creator. You do not have a legitimate basis for choosing one over the other because there is no evidence for any. They are all imaginary concepts.

          Suffering is one bit of evidence present to us in this reality that rules out the possibility of a being that is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent. So that is one imaginary concept we can reject because of evidence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We got a chuckle out of Hinduism winning by a score of 18 – 3.

          Both of you being heretical IS funny.

          Both are monotheism’s.

          Depending upon who ya believe of course.

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

          https://www.himalayanacademy.com/readlearn/basics/fourteen-questions/fourteenq_1

          But then the Trinity and 330 million nonsense starts.

        • Kodie

          Christianity doesn’t so much fit one’s view of reality more than suggest it.

        • Kodie

          You don’t get it by now, the amount of evidence is not more important than the quality. Your standards are low and you see millions of shitty arguments that do not correspond to one another at all as equal to 4 really good pieces of evidence that also correspond to one another.

        • Kodie

          It’s about god’s ego, that’s why they all have to be humble (only to god, not to other people) and admit out loud how stupid we all are compared to god, but anyone trying to be smarter or say they have a better idea how to pull all of this off is not humble enough to be chosen. It’s outrageous to god when you tell him how to do his job. Maybe you’ve ever had a really dumb boss who goes into fits when someone makes better sense than he/she does. God isn’t here to go into fits, so these Christians have to demonstrate what that’s like.

        • Joe

          . I replied that the human intellect allows for a being which is capable of deciding whether or not to believe in God.

          Why is that a good reason, and not merely a reason?

        • Greg G.

          human intellect allows for a being which is capable of deciding whether or not to believe in God.

          That’s ‘s more akin to fear than intellect. The intellect does not choose to believe. It accepts or doesn’t accept with no choice involved.

        • MR

          If I said I choose to believe in Thor, imagine the howls!

        • Clement Agonistes

          I meant intellect in the sense that one can only make a decision if one knows there is a choice. A squirrel doesn’t know about truth or beauty or justice, or morality. A squirrel doesn’t know he has options.

        • Greg G.

          A squirrel recognizes a place to hide nuts and where to dig the ones he buried. He makes a choice when he digs one up.

          Birds recognize beauty in the selection of mates. They remember when another animal or person steals food it has sequestered and will move a hidden morsel if it realizes a bird or person who has stolen from it in the past may have seen it hide the food, but not if a different bird or person sees it. That shows that they recognize truth, justice, and morality.

        • MR

          A squirrel doesn’t know he has options.

          Yeah, Greg, as a human being, you have the option to believe this nut doesn’t exist.

        • Greg G.

          No matter how hard I choose, he still exists. No matter how hard I choose, the IRS hasn’t sent me a $10 million refund.

        • Kodie

          Do you know anything about squirrel? Do you have squirrel values? Why would you expect an animal to have human values? Why do you think human values are the best for any animal other than humans? Your problem is you think these are superior values. They are to humans because we use them. You don’t eat acorns, and squirrels don’t use an oven or buy mattresses at the furniture store.

          You’re an ANIMAL.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The point was made that God would communicate unambiguously – everyone would understand clearly what God was saying.

          I suggested that God might have a good reason for communicating in a way that some get and some don’t. Off the top of my head, I came up with (what I think is) a plausible possibility – not everybody should get it.

          It is possible that the message only has to be good enough so that those who are open to the idea will get the message. I stated that that what defines Man is the ability to grasp concepts. Man has the ability to make a choice about believing in God or not.

          You replied that animals do make choices, like which dogfood they prefer. I have been trying (ambiguously, it would seem) to make the distinction between a choice about food and that of a concept.

          So, given your view of reality, there is really no choice – God cannot exist. That’s fine, but within the Christian view of reality, such a choice can be made – the Christian gets it.

          In this discussion of Christianity as a hypothetical view of reality, the atheist view does not even come into play. “Could God have a good reason for communicating in a way that some people don’t get?” Bob’s (et.al.) assertion is no. God communicating in an ambiguous manner is not compatible with a Christian view of reality. It has to be compatible with the Christian view, not the atheist view.

        • Greg G.

          It is possible that the message only has to be good enough so that those who are open to the idea will get the message. I stated that that what defines Man is the ability to grasp concepts. Man has the ability to make a choice about believing in God or not.

          This describes gullibility. Humans can grasp concepts whether they exist or do not exist. We can conceive of Little Green Men from Mars but that doesn’t mean they exist. Why should we choose to believe in them? We can conceive of angels moving furniture in heaven but that is not the cause of thunder. Belief should require some discernment. One should have a good reason to believe in Yahweh and not Zeus or Vishnu. An arbitrary choice is just luck if it is right but just silly if you are not even considering a real being.

          You replied that animals do make choices, like which dogfood they prefer. I have been trying (ambiguously, it would seem) to make the distinction between a choice about food and that of a concept.

          Yes, making a choice between things that actually exist in reality and making a choice about believing an imaginary concept is quite different. Even when I believed in Santa Claus, it was not a choice, I believed what people were telling me because I could not investigate the matter. When I could investigate it, I found it was not true, so I could not choose to believe in Santa Claus nor flying reindeer. It was the same with the Easter Bunny.

          When Sparkling Moon (another occasional commenter here) presents his reasons for believing in Allah and the words of the prophet, it sounds like he is trying to make a case for Rudolph. When a Christian makes a case for God as “the ground of being”, it sounds like somebody who knows reindeer can’t fly but Santa still exists.

          When you try to advance that we should read Strobel or Lewis, it is like you are saying we should listen to the King’s courtier explain that the material of the King’s robe is very fine gold when everybody else thinks he is naked.

          So, given your view of reality, there is really no choice – God cannot exist. That’s fine, but within the Christian view of reality, such a choice can be made – the Christian gets it.

          There is no evidence for any gods. They could exist within my view of reality as gods would likely be very good at hide and seek. I don’t think any of them can be both omnipotent and omnibenevolent because the evidence of suffering is undeniable. Proposing the existence of a being with those two properties would be turning a blind eye to those who are suffering any excruciating ailment. The common view of the Christian god is absurd. Why would anybody choose to believe in that?

          So, given your view of reality, there is really no choice – God cannot exist. That’s fine, but within the Christian view of reality, such a choice can be made – the Christian gets it.

          No, the existence of a god thingie must be compatible with reality. The existence of suffering means the omnipotent benevolence doesn’t exist. You should try to come up with a religion that complies with reality. There won’t be any competition.

          If you think you are in communication with an omnipotent benevolence, you are wrong. It would be better if you are in communication with an imaginary being than an omnipotent malevolence.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I agree – grasping a concept does not equate with accepting it as a reality. Let’s keep in mind that we are discussing this from a hypothetical view that Christianity is true. The reality, of course, is that God does not. Chill. I am offering pure speculation; plausible explanations for seeming inconsistencies in Christianity.

          Dogfood exist; God does not. Chill. One question to me was how Christianity might reconcile the ambiguous nature of God’s communication. Off the top of my head, God is culling out some people. It fits.

          I was also asked what evidence could convince an atheist that God existed. The best person to answer that question in my mind is someone who actually was an atheist and saw convincing arguments. You don’t have to read them if you don’t want an answer to your question (which is my opinion, and why I sidestep an unpleasant argument).

          You don’t believe in the supernatural. Great. But, you can discuss it in the abstract. If we discussed whether Superman could out-run The Flash, we don’t get angry and say they don’t exist. Fans of Superman and The Flash “get it”. They understand what Green Kryptonite can do and how lead shielding can alter its effects. Christians “get” how God can use evil for good purposes (the torture and death of Jesus, for instance).

          Reality, BTW, is a concept. Word.

        • Greg G.

          I responded to the “what would it take” challenge by saying an omniscient being would know, an omnipotent being could, and an omnibenevolent being would if it was important, Evidence would work.

        • MR

          So, given your view of reality, there is really no choice – God cannot exist. That’s fine, but within the Christian view of reality, such a choice can be made – the Christian gets it.

          No. One does not choose to believe in the existence of something. One can believe in the existence of something based on evidence, one can believe in the existence of something based on the conviction of others, but one does not choose to believe something exists. If God existed, I’d welcome that knowledge, but I cannot choose to believe he exists anymore than you could choose to believe Thor exists.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Do you choose to believe you exist? Or do you have evidence outside of your own perception?

        • MR

          What? Are you saying that you choose to believe you exist? Bwah-hah-hah. You don’t even know what you’re arguing anymore. No, I do not choose to believe I exist. Choosing doesn’t enter into it. That’s the point. Think about it. Do you choose to believe you exist? Do you choose to believe Thor doesn’t exist? Come on, you’re not worthy of these tactics. Is it so hard to be honest?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Then this should be a breeze for you. Show me the evidence that you exist without using your own perceptions.

          The deal is that you chose to accept your own existence without so much as a hint of thought. It is the single most important aspect of reality, yet you have never questioned it; never proved it. Thor scoffs at the prospect that he does not exist. He laughs at those who suggest otherwise. He questions their honesty. He did not chose to believe he exists; he merely does.

        • MR

          Why do you guys always end up being so dishonest? No, I don’t choose. It’s not choice, Einstein. What sense does it make for me to say, “I choose to believe I don’t exist.” We don’t choose to believe something exists or not. Could you choose to believe in Thor? Maybe you could be convinced to believe in Thor, but you’re not choosing. Imagine yourself saying, “Today, I choose to believe in Thor.”

          I happen to be interested in Egyptology. Imagine I said to you, “Egyptology is so interesting, I think today I’ll choose to believe in Osiris.” You’d scoff at me, and rightly so. It’s not choice. Could you choose to believe in Osiris, or would you need to have something more? What would it take for you to believe? Are you telling me you could simply choose? Phht. I say you’re lying. As an experiment, try telling your family you’ve chosen to believe in Thor and let me know what their reaction is.

        • Greg G.

          Do you choose to believe you exist?

          I have no reason to think I am not.

          Or do you have evidence outside of your own perception?

          I have no evidence of anything outside my perception.

        • Kodie

          Can you explain why you think that’s even relevant? God is fucking imaginary. The epic tale of humanity described in the bible as broken and in need of salvation from an external mystical source is only a fairy tale. You have an imaginary friend, without whom, you feel life just isn’t meaningful enough to keep from killing yourself.

        • Kodie

          Liar. You did not address anything of the sort. Meanwhile, you also ignore other relevant comments and persist with your broken morality about suffering being “like a 2-year-old getting a shot”, we are too childlike to understand why go hands us shitloads of overkill of suffering just to make a point? Just to make us better people? Are you fucking serious? Listen to yourself, you’re sick and ignorant.

        • Kodie

          It’s not in the filing cabinet, but you’re warm.

        • adam

          “Choosing …to believe or not believe in God.”

          Why would they want to believe in such foolishness?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b771a4ec57ad060b4acaad214ae436df6fd8facae4a468d9a6df580cb6f8dc21.jpg

        • Joe

          to believe or not believe in God

          Why the false dichotomy?

        • Max Doubt

          “Why the false dichotomy?”

          I’ll get that one. Dishonesty, that’s why. It’s one of the things Christians do best.

        • Kodie

          I choose to use my brain and my brain says your claims lack veracity. Try again.

        • Joe

          I’m sure that if we put our minds to it we could come up with some plausible explanations that make sense

          Such as? We could come up with thousands of reasons. Some could be true, only one could be true, or none could be true. How would we know?

          I might love my animals, they don’t have the same spark we do

          If your defense involves having us accept that animals aren’t alive, you are not going to win any sane folk over to your cause.

        • Greg G.

          Was there a disagreement about this?

          Only that he was saying “consensus” until I provided a source that said it was the “majority”. But it may only be a majority when you include scholars who have signed a promise to believe that Matthew’s zombie apocalypse was real.

        • Pofarmer

          given the state of the art in studies of the Gospels

          Talk about a contradiction in terms.

          I think what you mean is “Given how apologists masquerading as scholars have managed to attempt to push the dates of the Gospels forward.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Either you respect the science or you don’t. I am not using Christian-friendly r dates of the 60s in deference to the science. I will throw myself at the mercy of Bart Ehrman if it will help get past this evasion.

          (Spoiler Alert: It won’t.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          (Spoiler Alert: It won’t.)

          It might.

          From Bart Ehrman’s Jesus, Interrupted, pp. 144-145 (number formatting is mine):

          1. Even though it is very hard to date the Gospels with precision, most scholars agree on the basic range of dates, for a variety of reasons . . . .

          2. I can say with relative certainty — from his own letters and from Acts — that Paul was writing during the fifties of the common era . . . .

          3. [H]e gives in his own writings absolutely no evidence of knowing about or ever having heard of the existence of any Gospels. From this it can be inferred that the Gospels probably were written after Paul’s day.

          4. It also appears that the Gospel writers know about certain later historical events, such as the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 ce . . . That implies that these Gospels were probably written after 70.

          5. There are reasons for thinking Mark was written first, so maybe he wrote around the time of the war with Rome, 70 ce.

          6. If Matthew and Luke both used Mark as a source, they must have been composed after Mark’s Gospel circulated for a time outside its own originating community — say, ten or fifteen years later, in 80 to 85 ce.

          7. John seems to be the most theologically developed Gospel, and so it was probably written later still, nearer the end of the first century, around 90 to 95 ce.

          8. These are rough guesses, but most scholars agree on them.

          The rest of the article questions Ehrman’s assertions and with convincing reasons.

          http://vridar.org/2009/05/07/how-the-gospels-are-most-commonly-dated-and-why/

        • Clement Agonistes

          Thanks for doing that research, Amos.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No problem. I don’t see how it helps you out though?

          Ehrman puts the terminus post quem after 70 CE…so 71 CE or later. Given that there is no consensus on the year of the crucifixion, providing there was one, then your dating concern is moot.

          The best you get is 38 years given a death year of 33 CE, but it was probably finished more than 41 years after the alleged event.

          Edit. To fix

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your list stated after Paul (who died in the early 60s), and “around 70”, not “after”. You’ve already demolished the TPQ in the article, and made 40 questionable. And that is from a source which is not sympathetic to theists (demolishing another argument).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Your list stated after Paul (who died in the early 60s), and “around 70”, not “after”.

          Whaaa? Are we reading the same blog?

          What it actually says is, “so maybe he wrote around the time of the war with Rome, 70 ce”

          Go back and read the list again.

          4. It also appears that the Gospel writers know about certain later historical events, such as the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 ce . . . That implies that these Gospels were probably written AFTER 70.

          Is it feasible that Mark was a work in progress?

          At the link source…

          Again with Mark’s gospel, Ehrman offers logical reasons, underlying evidence, for dating Mark after Paul, and some time from 70 c.e. onwards.

          So “after” is just fine.

          But the key point to notice is that Ehrman uses this relative date of Mark (relative to the other gospels) to assert that maybe he wrote around the time of the war with Rome, 70 ce. Ehrman is presenting the standard dating method found in most basic texts that treat the subject. The only grounds that are offered for dating Mark to “around 70 ce” are that it was written before Matthew and Luke.

          Again, even the absolute (as opposed to relative) dates are not so certain as appears here, since it has been reasonably argued that the events in Mark’s “Olivet Prophecy/Little Apocalypse” echo more specifically the events of the Bar Kochba war in the early second century. (See an *earlier post* for details and links.)

          *earlier post*… http://vridar.org/2007/02/10/little-apocalypse-and-the-bar-kochba-revolt/

          You’ve already demolished the TPQ in the article,…

          Yeah, but that is another issue altogether and is looked at in other comment’s. My purpose here was to address your challenge….

          Either you respect the science or you don’t. I am not using Christian-friendly r dates of the 60s in deference to the science. I will throw myself at the mercy of Bart Ehrman if it will help get past this evasion.

          Ehrman clearly doesn’t support you 60’s dates.

          … and made 40 questionable.

          The whole subject is questionable ffs.

          And that is from a source which is not sympathetic to theists (demolishing another argument).

          Demolishing which other argument?

        • Clement Agonistes

          The argument that the mainstream of science in dating the Gospels should be ignored (in favor of a fringe) because the experts are only Christians.

          I threw myself at the mercy of Ehrman’s dating, so I’m sticking with that. That said, it’s worth pointing out that Ehrman’s rationale for dating Mark at 70 or later is because Jesus predicted that the Temple would be destroyed. It is impossible for Jesus to accurately predict a future event because that would require that Jesus have supernatural powers, and Ehrman’s beliefs about the supernatural say that is impossible. Ergo, Mark had to know about the Temple’s destruction

          IOW, were it not for his bias, he would opt for an earlier date. The problem with bias affecting science is real with Ehrman.

        • Pofarmer

          My irony meter is smoking.

        • Joe

          Reality tends to be biased in favour of non-magical explanations.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The argument that the mainstream of science in dating the Gospels should be ignored (in favor of a fringe) because the experts are only Christians.

          Nope. Because of their Christian bias they are not doing the science properly.

          We keep hearing the word “mainstream”, which I presume is meant to be synonymous with majority or consensus, but when asked for evidence of who this mainstream is, we get crickets.

          I threw myself at the mercy of Ehrman’s dating, so I’m sticking with that. That said, it’s worth pointing out that Ehrman’s rationale for dating Mark at 70 or later is because Jesus predicted that the Temple would be destroyed. It is impossible for Jesus to accurately predict a future event because that would require that Jesus have supernatural powers, and Ehrman’s beliefs about the supernatural say that is impossible. Ergo, Mark had to know about the Temple’s destruction

          Yeah, I think you’ll find that’s how the science of the historian actually works Clement.

          IOW, were it not for his bias, he would opt for an earlier date. The problem with bias affecting science is real with Ehrman.

          Seriously? You want to allow the supernatural into science? You think that because Ehrman won’t entertain miracles into the discipline of history he is being bias? Waoh!

          You see that’s the problem right there. That’s what I’m talking about with many of your Christian scholars, that sort of nonsense you are touting.

          I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assert you will have nothing to do with the supernatural claims in the history of other religions. Joe Smith really did get gold plates from Moroni and he has the affidavit’s of eight witnesses to prove it? Mo rode a winged horse to visit the archangel Gabriel to get God’s message’s? Nessie is real? The Roman emperor’s were god’s? FFS, anything goes with that sort of inanity.

          The argument historian’s use goes like this….

          1#A miracle is by definition the most improbable of events; the probability of a miracle is infinitesimally remote.

          2#A historian can establish only what probably happened in the past.

          Therefore,

          #A historian can never establish that a miracle happened.

          History is an art. It is a science too but not as much as it is a form of art. It is about what probably happened in times gone by. The probable is as far as you are going to get for it is impossible to work out what actually happened. The historian has to realise that people in the past made mistakes and often lied and often got away with it. So the historian does not read something in an ancient writing and assume it is true for there is no evidence against it. No. He looks with suspicion at it. If he agrees with it he only means he is going to assume that it is probably true until new light might come. In history, it is vital not to think that because something is possible it is therefore probable. A historian says something seems probable but that is not the same as saying it is probable. The historian cannot even consider miracle stories as probably true or possibly true. It is not that he is biased. It is just that history is ruined if you imagine its full of miracles. The historian who says that Hitler was a saint and an evil alien double replaced him would have credence.

          So I’ll pretend you were just joking when you stated that Ehrman was bias for not assuming the supernatural claim of prophecy to be the more likely than the story being written after the event.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I agree that the beginning point of any science is skepticism. One cannot want one result so badly that one ignores the evidence.

          But, that cuts both ways. Here, we’ve got an experiment where any evidence that points in a particular direction is automatically rejected. No, you follow the evidence where it leads.

          Christian bias about dating would lead to much earlier dating of the Gospels. Atheist bias leads to much later dating. The mainstream is between the two extremes. For discussion’s sake, I put my bias aside and go with an arbiter – the mainstream. Note that you and I are able to discuss this because we’ve got a common ground.

          In this case, IMO, it isn’t really supernatural that Jesus made a prediction that came true. That is different than, say, healing a leper. There are a lot of predictions made by Jesus that haven’t come true (by my understanding). Sometimes you just get lucky and they come true.

          Jesus’ prediction about the Temple is kind of hazy, isn’t it? It falls, but then 3 days later, Jesus raises it up again. OK, I get that Jesus would become the Temple in a manner of speaking, but the Temple was still intact when Jesus died. I don’t think this qualifies scientifically as a supernatural event. So. suppose we take away this assumption. Does Ehrman fall back on some other science to arrive at a figure? It’s for sure he wouldn’t come up with a later date.

        • Greg G.

          Christian bias about dating would lead to much earlier dating of the Gospels. Atheist bias leads to much later dating. The mainstream is between the two extremes. For discussion’s sake, I put my bias aside and go with an arbiter – the mainstream.

          Yeah, that was how I did it until I actually looked at the evidence and the ways the mainstream came to their mainstream conclusions. It’s like the analogy of the way laws and sausages are made, except they don’t clean the casings.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Yeah, me too. That’s how I know the Gospels were written so much earlier.

          I never cease to be surprised by how right I am. Everything I see confirms that I am right.

        • Greg G.

          I never cease to be surprised by how right I am. Everything I see confirms that I am right.

          You must be doing it wrong. When I believed as you did, everything I looked at confirmed that I was right until I saw some other things and didn’t close my eyes and cover my ears. Look at things from both sides. The other side of the most beautiful paintings are off-white and paint-stained.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Christian bias about dating would lead to much earlier dating of the Gospels.

          Well, that bias certainly does influence their view of the evidence in many cases, for sure.

          Atheist bias leads to much later dating.

          Maurice Casey and Professor James Crossley are two exceptions that I can think where that doesn’t apply. Both are scholars that date Mark’s TPQ at 40 CE.

          http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/02/11/biblical-scholar-james-g-crossley-interviewed-fascinating/

          The mainstream is between the two extremes.

          Why? If, as you say, this is so scientific and is evidence based that is?

          For discussion’s sake, I put my bias aside and go with an arbiter – the mainstream.

          Not if the “mainstream” is biased you aren’t. If the mainstream is not using sound methodology, then their results skewed.

          Note that you and I are able to discuss this because we’ve got a common ground.

          It is merely a point of interest to me. I have no faith riding on any horse in this race. If Mark was authored in the 40’s CE it wouldn’t change anything about my views regarding the veracity of that gospel or the truth values of the ridiculous claims within that text.

          In this case, IMO, it isn’t really supernatural that Jesus made a prediction that came true. That is different than, say, healing a leper. There are a lot of predictions made by Jesus that haven’t come true (by my understanding). Sometimes you just get lucky and they come true.

          Well it’s unusual for a Christian to come here and admit such a thing, if sincere, but I think your use of the word “prediction” rather than “prophecy” is a bit sneaky.

          The New Testament refers to prophecy as one of the spiritual gifts given by the indwelling Holy Spirit [Rom 12:6]. From this, many Christians believe that the gift of prophecy is the supernatural ability to receive and convey a message from their God.

          Catholics define prophecy as….

          Prophecy consists in knowledge and in the manifestation of what is known. The knowledge must be supernatural and infused by God because it concerns things beyond the natural power of created intelligence; and the knowledge must be manifested either by words or signs, because the gift of prophecy is given primarily for the good of others, and hence needs to be manifested. It is a Divine light by which God reveals things concerning the unknown future and by which these things are in some way represented to the mind of the prophet, whose duty it is to manifest them to others.

          http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12473a.htm

          Now of course, you might be right, it just could be a prediction that got a hit 40 years after allegedly being made. But let’s be realistic here. Did the story about Jesus get to the ears of the author of gMark, he wrote it down decades before it happened, then “tah-dah!” it came true? Or is it more likely it was retconned into the story from a real event to add substance to the central character.

          All bias aside, what sounds the most pragmatic to you? Bearing in mind the overall context of what was going on at the time?

          Jesus’ prediction about the Temple is kind of hazy, isn’t it?

          Well he doesn’t predict that it will be the 10th Legion at 3:30 pm on Wednesday 12th March 70 CE, if that’s what you mean, but let’s think about that for a wee minute.

          32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

          You can’t be giving details then come out with that statement about stuff not happened yet.

          According to the story the disciples did ask for more details. And got this answer…

          Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

          But when? Well that’s the $64,000 question.

          33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

          If Mark applied detail to the Temple destruction prophecy that came to pass, aka prediction after the fact, how could he have Jesus be so vague on the details of the other stuff?

          It falls, but then 3 days later, Jesus raises it up again. OK, I get that Jesus would become the Temple in a manner of speaking, but the Temple was still intact when Jesus died. I don’t think this qualifies scientifically as a supernatural event.

          Hence the assumption that it is vaticinia ex eventu.

          Some scholars regard statements attributed to Jesus in the Gospels that foretell the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple as examples of vaticinia ex eventu, these scholars believe that the Gospels were all written after the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70, in which the temple was destroyed. However some Christian scholars reject this notion as the fulfillment of the acclaimed prophecy; the destruction of the temple is not recorded in the gospels or in the other letters and date the new testament scriptures before AD 70.

          So. suppose we take away this assumption. Does Ehrman fall back on some other science to arrive at a figure? It’s for sure he wouldn’t come up with a later date.

          Here’s the rub though, if there is one scholar that would wish to date the texts closer to the time Jesus is purported to have existed, it’s Bart Ehrman. He’s the man that has stretched rationality to breaking point by inventing all sorts of hypothetical sources for an historical Jesus nearer that time. It makes no sense to infer he is being bias with his dating of Mark.

          Ehrman is agnostic by the way.

        • Why the obsession with gospel dates? Pick your earliest date, and your problem remains: you have supernatural claims in an account written by an ordinary person. Why believe it? You don’t believe any other religions’ books, do you?

        • Clement Agonistes

          I didn’t expect that I would need to be “obsessed” with it. I thought you would instantly see the error in the article and want it to be as truthful as possible. As I pointed out early on, and you point out above, the problem remains.

          Yet, look at the resistance. You are still sticking by your guns on this (I can pick an early date, but not you?) You are supposed to be the Science Guy. Creationists are the ones who ignore the science, not atheists.

          The article, of course, is spin – “lying with a smile”. It is 2 years old, and no one in the echo chamber ever thought to question whether an article that advocated their opinion might be accurate or not.

          The point of finally getting around to remember an event “50 – 100 years” after the fact is that elderly and dead people have lousy memories. Living, middle aged people who have been telling the same story every day for decades, however, are going to do really well. They may get unimportant details wrong, but those are the same mistakes in Year 33 that they made in Year 1.

          As we discussed earlier, we all believe what we believe because it fits our view of reality the best.

        • I thought you would instantly see the error in the article and want it to be as truthful as possible. As I pointed out early on, and you point out above, the problem remains.
          Yet, look at the resistance. You are still sticking by your guns on this (I can pick an early date, but not you?)

          Pick whatever date you want, just justify it. I’ve asked you repeatedly: if your dates are the consensus view, then show me. On this subject, my goal is to take the consensus view.

          As for “50 to 100 years,” I’ve already made clear that I would use 40 – 80, but it’s not my article. You think that it’s outrageous to have that “50 to 100” sitting up there? Well, then it’s good that we had this little discussion here to explore the issue for the lurkers. You can sleep peacefully tonight.

          The article, of course, is spin – “lying with a smile”.

          Lying? Show me. Show me that there are zero scholars who think that Mark could’ve been written in 80CE or beyond.

          The point of finally getting around to remember an event “50 – 100 years” after the fact is that elderly and dead people have lousy memories. Living, middle aged people who have been telling the same story every day for decades, however, are going to do really well. They may get unimportant details wrong, but those are the same mistakes in Year 33 that they made in Year 1.

          I’m not sure where you’re going here. Are you saying that memories would be reliable across 50 years (or 40 or 30 or whatever gap you want)?

        • Clement Agonistes

          It is the Zombie Question (it just won’t die). OK, I will be the one to take you to the water, but you will still hve to drink for yourself:
          From Wikipedia:

          Dating

          scholars use higher criticism
          to propose likely ranges of dates for the original gospel autographs.
          Scholars variously assess the majority (though not the consensus[40]) view as follows:

          Mark: c. 68–73,[41] c. 65–70.[42]

          Matthew: c. 70–100,[41] c. 80–85.[42]

          Luke: c. 80–100, with most arguing for somewhere around 85,[41] c. 80–85.[42]John: c. 90–100,[42] c. 90–110,[43]

          Greg noted that the article made a distinction between “majority” and “consensus”.

          Spin is not lying, but I thought that was a cute quote. Spin is an attempt to slant the presentation of facts toward a particular biased viewpoint. Lying requires knowing that what was being said was not true.

          Now, once exposed to the truth, some people will change their minds and retract the bad information. Others continue to defend the untruth. Which camp are you in?

          I made a couple of points there:

          1. Remembering something 33 years after the event is easier than remembering 50 years later, or when one is dead. I had hoped you might at least concede that last one.

          2. These accounts were being repeated multiple times weekly. The opportunity for memories to fade weren’t there. It might be comparable to you forgetting that you were an atheist.

        • Now, once exposed to the truth, some people will change their minds and retract the bad information. Others continue to defend the untruth. Which camp are you in?

          Those sound like the dates that I’m familiar with.

          I made a couple of points there:
          1. Remembering something 33 years after the event is easier than remembering 50 years later, or when one is dead. I had hoped you might at least concede that last one.

          Uh huh.

          This is uninteresting. The point is that “Oh, it’s not 50 years but only 33 (or 3) years! So you see, the story could quite easily cross that time gap intact, and we should take the gospels as history!” is bullshit.

          2. These accounts were being repeated multiple times weekly. The opportunity for memories to fade weren’t there. It might be comparable to you forgetting that you were an atheist.

          Challenger memory experiment.

          Human memories are ridiculously unreliable. Read some of my posts about memory for examples. And even if we say, “Well, the stories could have crossed a gap of X years intact!” so what? That is the foundation on which you’re going to argue the reliability of the gospels?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Clement…….
          “1. Remembering something 33 years after the event is easier
          than remembering 50 years later, or when one is dead.”

          Bob……
          “The point is that “Oh, it’s not 50 years but only 33
          (or 3) years! So you see, the story could quite easily cross that time
          gap intact, and we should take the gospels as history!” is bullshit.”

          Now, I just clarified what my point is. And, this is at least the second time I have done that for you after you tried to interject a straw man argument. My point is crystal clear, and it is not the one you just fabricated.

          You guys are spinning here. You are trying to stretch the truth and present the facts in a way that makes your good points look better than they really are. In this case, the facts just got stretched farther than accuracy allows. Either you have the integrity of your stated principles or you don’t. If the frank and earnest facts don’t support your view, well maybe your view just isn’t very worthy. I have views that I really, really want to be true also. What we want has to serve the facts, not the other way around.

          I have been up front with you here. I haven’t even contested the upper end of that range, even though it is 20 years out of the mainstream consensus, too. 133 A.D. at least guarantees that that consensus falls within it. Heck, 30 – 2000 years would cover it, too, FTM.

          When they interviewed the Parkland Hospital doctors who treated Kennedy 50 years after the event, they nailed it. They were able to pin-point entry and exit wounds. It was burned into their memories. It was a supremely important event in their lives. These events changed the direction of the Apostles lives. It became the focus of their existence.

        • My point is crystal clear, and it is not the one you just fabricated.

          OK, then I guess it’s my fault. I’ll throw in the towel–I’m unable to understand your point.

          If the frank and earnest facts don’t support your view, well maybe your view just isn’t very worthy.

          But since you do understand what’s going on, help a brother out. What are our two views, and where am I digging in my heels simply to avoid the embarrassment of admitting that my argument is in a heap at my feet?

          I have been up front with you here. I haven’t even contested the upper end of that range, even though it is 20 years out of the mainstream consensus, too. 133 A.D. at least guarantees that that consensus falls within it.

          And I’ve said let’s not make the gap 80 or 100 years; let’s make it whatever you want. Make it a month–I don’t care. Now: where does that leave us? Surely you have a point besides just a concern about the accuracy of time spans. Share it with us.

          It was burned into their memories. It was a supremely important event in their lives. These events changed the direction of the Apostles lives. It became the focus of their existence.

          Lay it out for me. Specifically, what are you saying here? Is it simply: (1) the apostles saw something fantastic, (2) memories like that are reliable long term, (3) they recorded those accurate memories in the NT, so (4) we can trust the supernatural stories in the New Testament?

          (1) is begging the question, and (2) is false. We can go into more detail, but let me first understand what your point is.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It would help you understand if you could put aside your preconceived notions about what I should be saying.

          Early on, I enumerated my points. Point #1 was that 30 years would be a more accurate early number for the mainstream range of the writing of the Gospels. You were willing to go down to 40, but no further. You stated I could name any point, but I had to show you that something under 40 was within a consensus; majority range for Mark. I, and others here have put up quotes from Wikipedia showing a 66-70 A.D. range for the writing of Mark 33 A.D. is a viable dating for Jesus death. I even did the Math for you; 66 – 33 = 33. That gives a 7-yr margin for error before we bump up against the 40-yr early end of the range.

          Now, after demanding that I show you how i arrived at 30 years as a more inclusive, accurate, mainstream early figure, you “don’t understand” the (enumerated) point you have to have cites for in order to agree to. What am i to do with that, Bob? It could be that there is some emotional baggage here clogging up our quest for the truth. That is the kind of thing that prevents people from acknowledging a mistake once the facts have been laid out before them.

          The 2nd of my enumerated points had to do with memories and has a tangential connection to the 1st enumerated point. Even if it were 50 + years before eyewitness accounts were committed to paper, the nature of seeing your friend executed in such a prolonged and horrible way tends to stick with a fellow. The frequent recounting of that account prevents it from changing.

          The closest I’ve ever come to such a thing was witnessing the aftermath of a double murder. It was 20 years ago, and I go over my account about once every 5 years. It is the exact same account I told the police on the day it happened. I made one mistake in my account, and when I get to my mistake, I add in the correction. I have spoken with another witness about 2 years ago, and his account is the same as the one he told on that 1st day also. He made an error (of assumption about something he did not witness) also.

          The more impactful the memory; the more likely the account is to be remembered. Biochemically, the adrenaline of the moment won’t even allow people to forget events they want to forget.

          Yes, witnesses will make errors …. of detail, not the big picture.

          Let em be clear on a couple of possible points in your favor. Even if gLuke was not written by Luke (sorry, Greg, I forgot the subscript for the person), there is no way he was an eyewitness. The intro to his Gospel says as much. If Mark was the “naked boy” who ran away at Jesus’ arrest, he may have witnessed some of the ending events, but I don’t count him as an eyewitness, either (his version is generally thought of as Peter’s, which adds cred back). If Matthew and John either wrote their accounts with their own hands or dictated them, then they were eyewitness accounts. All accounts underwent later edits; some very late. That reduces credibility.

          I think your points (2) and (3) are questionable on the big picture events (you are spinning). (1) and (4) are premised on one’s opinion of reality.

        • Pofarmer

          the nature of seeing your friend executed in such a prolonged and
          horrible way tends to stick with a fellow. The frequent recounting of
          that account prevents it from changing.

          Well, according to the Gospels accounts, none of them saw it. But, even without that said, I don’t think that the second statement is necessarily true.

          The more impactful the memory; the more likely the account is to be
          remembered. Biochemically, the adrenaline of the moment won’t even
          allow people to forget events they want to forget.

          I think this is somewhat backwards. I don’t have time at the moment to go link diving, but my understanding is that every time we access a memory we change it in some small way. It’s part of the recall and re memorizing process. The more times we bring up a memory, the more it get’s changed.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I meant “seeing” in the sense of “going through”. However, John’s Gospel has him at the base of the cross through the whole event.

          I was thinking of wartime accounts for men, and being raped for women. They not only remember the big event, but excruciating details that they don’t want to remember. Therapy for them may involve adrenaline while dredging up those memories with a therapist offering positive feedback to “re-cast” the event to make the constant horror mitigate.

          Repeated re-telling also means you’ve got an audience that can correct any deviations. Paul even mentions events from the Gospels and urges his audience to seek out those accounts from others who were ware of them.

          For clarity, the big events are:
          1) Death.
          2) Resurrection.

          All accounts, even Paul’s agree on those.

        • Philmonomer

          Repeated re-telling also means you’ve got an audience that can correct any deviations. Paul even mentions events from the Gospels and urges his audience to seek out those accounts from others who were ware of them.

          Many Christian scholars think this part (below) of Paul’s letters is the very oldest–going back to just a few years (or, some argue, months) after Jesus was crucified:

          3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

          However, none of the Gospels (or Acts) have this appearance to the 500!. What’s that about? Where are all these super accurate memories that tell the story of Jesus’s amazing appearance before the multitudes?

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’ll take a crack at that one. First, Paul was not an eyewitness to that event, regardless of how many people were there. That means he heard about it second-hand. “So, Peter, how many people saw this?”

          “Everybody. We were all there. Tons of people saw it.”

          [Paul notes that there are about 500 Christians in Peter’s group by now]

          In terms of big picture items, in that short snippet, you’ve got death, resurrection, and appearance. Those are all the headline items. The details … not so much.

          My point above was that Paul referred listeners to the witnesses for corroboration. There’s accountability.

        • Philmonomer

          “Everybody. We were all there. Tons of people saw it.”

          What’s the “it?”

        • Clement Agonistes

          the event.

        • Philmonomer

          What event?

          I’m not following you. My point is that the Gospels and Acts don’t record an event (an appearance of the resurrected Jesus) that is witnessed by 500 people.

          So I’m not sure what event you are referring to.

        • Greg G.

          First, Paul was not an eyewitness to that event, regardless of how many people were there. That means he heard about it second-hand.

          Paul uses the same word for his “appeared to” that he uses for the others. It’s an indication that Paul didn’t think his “appeared to” was any different than his own.

          Since Paul insists that he did not receive anything second hand. He says it was revealed to him, he quotes scripture as being what the Lord said, and he says he got it from the scriptures. We can verify this by noting that everything he says about Jesus can be found in scripture. Furthermore, he insists that his knowledge is not inferior to the “super-apostles” so he must think that they have no better access to information than his.

          So when Paul says that the Lord “died and was buried according to the scriptures”, he is saying that it comes from Isaiah 53:5,9 and ” that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures,” he means Hosea 6:2. He is not saying that anyone saw a manifestation. Cephas saw it “according to the scriptures” first, told the twelve, then a large crowd who went along with it, then James began to see it. Finally, Paul began to read the scriptures the same way.

        • Philmonomer

          In terms of big picture items, in that short snippet, you’ve got death, resurrection, and appearance. Those are all the headline items. The details … not so much.

          One of your points was that a huge, important, event, lives on in your memory forever. You retell the story.

          I would think that an appearance of Jesus to the multitudes would be such an event. Being at such an event would be simply amazing–such that the story would persist, by those that were there, and by others who heard the story. But there’s no such story in the Gospels (or Acts)–remember these are supposed to be written by eyewitnesses, or by people who had directly spoken to eyewitnesses.

          That seems problematic.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It’s possible that there were two separate events. But, I thin the are describing the same event. In my fun scenario, Peter s, “Everybody was there”, means “me and about 15 other people”, and Paul thinks he literally meant “every Christian in our group”.

          More likely is that this is your “telephone” scenario here Paul is hearing this from a guy who talked to a guy who ….

        • Greg G.

          Peter: “There was me and Andrew, no wait.. there was five other people, no… there were a hundred others!”

          Paul: “I’ll put down five hundred.”

        • Philmonomer

          It’s possible that there were two separate events.

          I don’t know what possible “two separate events” you mean here.

          But, I thin the are describing the same event.

          What event? You still have not provided an event. Specifically, there is no appearance of the resurrected Jesus in the Gospels or Acts where Jesus appears to 500 people.

          Again, you have said such big/traumatic/memorable events become embedded in memory, as the story is told and retold over decades. The details may change, but not the big event. I claim that seeing the resurrected Jesus, for yourself, in front of a multitude of people, would be such an event. And yet there is no record of it in the Gospels or Acts.

          In my fun scenario, Peter s, “Everybody was there”, means “me and about
          15 other people”, and Paul thinks he literally meant “every Christian
          in our group”.

          ?

          More likely is that this is your “telephone” scenario here Paul is hearing this from a guy who talked to a guy who ….

          Again, I don’t understand. Paul isn’t playing the telephone game. He is quoting (so the Scholars claim) the very oldest creed of Christianity–something that was put in place months (or a few years) after Jesus’ death.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’d have thought that one of those dirt bag Roman, messiah murdering, fucks, sticking a spear into the crucified Jesus was worthy of a mention too.

          No one witnessed the resurrection according to the yarn, so the appearance of a resurrected Jesus is an assumption.

          Then there’s the resurrection of Elvis…

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

          http://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/683314/ELVIS-NOT-DEAD-Graceland-groundsman-filmed-THIS-MONTH-is-King-aged-81

        • Clement Agonistes

          In the 21st chapter of John, the Apostles have gone back to fishing on the Sea of Galilee and meet up with Jesus on the shore. Could it have been a harbor of sorts with fishermen, employees, families, and markets for the fish?

        • Greg G.

          Revelation 22:18-19
          18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19 if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

          Does this warning mean only Revelation or the whole Bible?

          The Greeks had a story about Pythagoras seeing some fishermen and made a bet with them that if he could say how many fish were in their net, they would release the fish. He got the right number though the number is not given in the versions of the story that have survived. But 153 was a meaningful number to the Pythagoreans. It is the sum of all integers from 1 through 17. The Greeks only worked with rational numbers and to get the height of an equilateral triangle, you multiply the side by 153 and divide by 265, as 265/153 was the most accurate approximation they had for any square root.
          1.7320261 = 265/153
          1.7320508 = Square root of 3

          If you have two circles that pass through the other’s center, the intersection with a little extra for the tail, forms the fish symbol. The ratio of the length of the line between the intersecting points and the length of the line between the two centers is the square root of three.

          So it looks like this fish story was stolen from the sixth century BC Greeks.

          Oops, looks like I called down the curse from Rev 22:19.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It was just Revelation. They were never written as a single book. That came along with the advent of the codex.

          It’s even more involved that you make it out to be. Take “153”, and add the individual digits. You get “9”. ( is the perfect cube of 3 – the number of the Trinity AND the letters in “net”. So, the Trinity “caught” the fish, and the Disciples are “fishers of men”, so the Trinity will catch men and take them away from their natural environment. Nature is now removed from men and replace by the unnatural – religion. Fish die out of water, and men die because of religion. The story is warning people to be atheists.

          But that’s not all! If you multiply the digits, you get “15” – the number of Disciples plus Paul, Mark, and Luke!! But, then there is Judas, so that makes it 14, and 14 is twice 7. 7 is lucky, so 14 is, like super lucky. So, atheists are super lucky that they understand the significance of 153.

          Any number you pick is going to be subject to this kind of stuff. Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence. They were fishermen. They got paid by the fish. They caught 153 fish, ate a couple, and made good coin that night.

        • Greg G.

          It was just Revelation. They were never written as a single book. That came along with the advent of the codex.

          Those guys who added the other 65 books to it are really in trouble. Wait! The Catholics added the Apocrypha, too!

          Any number you pick is going to be subject to this kind of stuff. Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence. They were fishermen. They got paid by the fish. They caught 153 fish, ate a couple, and made good coin that night.

          I gave you the relationship of this number for all those fish symbols that Christians stick on their cars.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They were never written as a single book. That came along with the advent of the codex.

          Bang goes “a first century book of the NT” hypothesis.//s

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s even more involved that you make it out to be. Take “153”, and add the individual digits. You get “9”. ( is the perfect cube of 3 – the number of the Trinity AND the letters in “net”. So, the Trinity “caught” the fish, and the Disciples are “fishers of men”, so the Trinity will catch men and take them away from their natural environment. Nature is now removed from men and replace by the unnatural – religion. Fish die out of water, and men die because of religion. The story is warning people to be atheists.

          Some bubbles being talked now. Sarcasm is one thing, but at least try to be funny.

          A couple of things.

          You do know “net” is an English word, right?

          The first century Palestinians may have spoken a number of languages, but net isn’t among them.

          And everyone here not a believer knows the Trinity is a lot of incoherent nonsense made up after the story as an apologetic.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Paul didn’t know any disciples (with a feckin’ small “d” ffs, what is this shite of capitalising words that have no requirement to be so?), he only knew apostles…the difference might be subtle, but it is important.

        • Greg G.

          Indeed, “disciple” is used only in the gospels and Acts. The NIV shows a couple of uses in Isaiah.

        • Clement Agonistes

          In Matthew, Jesus tells the Disciples to go make disciples. I’m still not clear on just when the transition takes place. The event at issue took place when they were Disciples, ad Paul retold the story when they were Apostles?

        • Greg G.

          Mark invented the Jesus story and started using “disciple”. “Disciple” does not appear in any NT book but the gospels and Acts.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Tell me what term you want me to use and I will use it.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t care what term you use, just remember that “disciple” is never used in the epistles. Paul only used the word “apostle”. The gospels use both terms but I think the Twelve are only called “disciples” in the gospels while Paul calls those who were supposed to have been in the twelve “apostles”.

          I don’t think they were called disciples until Mark used the word.

        • Clement Agonistes

          When Jesus was teaching them, they were Disciples. There is a line around the time of Jesus’ death where the transition occurs. By the time Paul was writing about his contemporaries, they were Apostles, and he and Mark and Luke et.al. were among that number.

          I will be going with Apostles to avoid this problem.

        • Pofarmer

          Then it’s awfully fucking funny that Paul doesn’t dileniate those who got their information directly from Jesus as Disciples, or former disciples, and claims that they got their information the same way he did. You are rubbing your tummy and patting your head and doing jumping jacks to make sure everything lines up, regardless of what the plain reading would state.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I am not following your point here. Can you clarify with the verses you are referring to? I think of Apostles as being Original 12 plus lots more, including a number who never laid eyes on Jesus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are reading the much later gospels back into the Pauline corpus.

          It makes perfect sense to read the New Testament in its current order. The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John introduce us to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The book of Acts gives us the early history of Christianity, ending with the career of Paul. The letters of Paul and the other apostles, Peter, John, James, and Jude, come next, and the mysterious book of Revelation provides a climatic finale to the whole. It all makes perfect sense—unless one is a historian.

          Historians read the New Testament backwards. Over the last hundred and fifty years they have made a significant discovery. If the New Testament writings were ordered chronologically, according to the dates the various books were written, a wholly different picture emerges, with radical and far-reaching implications. Historians disassemble these various sources in an attempt to understand them in chronological order. They focus on a precise set of questions: Where do we find our oldest and most authentic materials? How and when were they passed along, edited and embellished? Who was involved in this process and what theological motivations were operating? As it turns out, this seemingly destructive process of “disassembly” yields positive and fascinating results. ~James Tabor

          James Tabor has a very interesting thesis on the empty tomb and Resurrection narrative.

          https://jamestabor.com/how-faith-in-jesus-resurrection-originated-and-developed-a-newold-hypothesis/

        • Clement Agonistes

          I want to nit-pick just a little. Historians have not “discovered” this. One discovers a manuscript that has always existed. This is a new interpretation of of what we already know exists. And, it’s not one that is shared by anywhere near a majority of historians.

          Yes, the Gospels were written after the letters, but one thing the vast majority of historians do agree on is that there was an oral version of the Gospels before there was a written version. The gospels themselves pre-existed their writing.

          Tabor also speaks of the Q Source as something discovered. It is a theory. He speaks of knowing its content, as if we had found a copy. FWIW, I like the Q theory, but it is a construct to help solve the Synoptic problem. That problem is that the various authors are thought to be borrowing from each other, yet each has sources other than a Gospel. The theory forces a fit.

          So, I see some major obstacles to Tabor’s theory, starting with his bias that he is right. It feels like forcing the experiment results to fit the Hypothesis.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, the Gospels were written after the letters

          Not all of the letters. The Pastorals and 2 Peter are later.

          2 Peter 1:16 (NRSV)
          For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.

          It says they do not follow cleverly devised myths but then references the cleverly devised myth from Matthew 17:5.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I want to nit-pick just a little. Historians have not “discovered” this.

          I think he means the “new” methodology being applied is the discovery. At least that’s how I’m reading it.

          And, it’s not one that is shared by anywhere near a majority of historians

          Of course…there doesn’t appear to be one interpretation that is shared by the majority of scholars and that is a big problem as far as I’m concerned.

          Yes, the Gospels were written after the letters, but one thing the vast majority of historians do agree on is that there was an oral version of the Gospels before there was a written version. The gospels themselves pre-existed their writing.

          Which gospels? What was in that oral tradition? Don’t forget, the lucky four gospels came as a result of binning a lot of other gospels, some we know about, others I can imagine we don’t. We can claim an oral tradition, we can’t claim to know how many or what they contained.

          Tabor also speaks of the Q Source as something discovered. It is a theory. He speaks of knowing its content, as if we had found a copy. FWIW, I like the Q theory, but it is a construct to help solve the Synoptic problem. That problem is that the various authors are thought to be borrowing from each other, yet each has sources other than a Gospel. The theory forces a fit.

          The “Q” source is not necessary.

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

          So, I see some major obstacles to Tabor’s theory, starting with his bias that he is right. It feels like forcing the experiment results to fit the Hypothesis.

          Oh I agree wholeheartedly. I’m using him as an example of the sorts of scholarship that is out there and what they are teaching.

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

          If it sticks and it is promulgated by his students, who knows how popular it could get. A bit like the “Q” hypothesis perhaps.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The Q Source is necessary to solve the Synoptic Problem. Without it, it is just as likely that all three were produced independently, or that Mark was the last written.

          The Gospel of Thomas is the only one that is comparable time-wise.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Q Source is necessary to solve the Synoptic Problem.
          Without it, it is just as likely that all three were produced independently, or that Mark was the last written.

          Nope.

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

          The Gospel of Thomas is the only one that is comparable time-wise.

          How do you know?

          How do you know what made up the oral tradition?

          How do you know what got burnt in the purge of heresies?

          How do you know the earliest dates of all the Apocrypha works?

        • Clement Agonistes

          You keep putting up that same cite as if it proves the point. It does not. The cite even provides an argument against it. It demonstrates that a SP exists. It does not solve the SP.

          As to all of the apocryphal gospels written in the name of an Apostle, some are dated hundreds of years later. Thomas is the only one that has a realistic chance of being written early. I am going on the opinions of the experts.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You keep putting up that same cite as if it proves the point. It does not.

          I’m not putting it up because it proves the point that there was no “Q” document. I’m putting it up because it is an alternative hypothesis with at least the same explanatory power, and in fact, is the more pragmatic. For some reason unbeknownst to me, that is something you are unable to grasp. It might not be the correct hypothesis, but that is irrelevant to being able to rubbish your insistence that the “Q” document is necessary to solve the synoptic problem, itisn’t.

          The cite even provides an argument against it.

          FFS, the argument provided at the Wiki comes complete with rebuttals.

          It demonstrates that a SP exists.

          And what? We know it exists…apologists have been trying to solve it since Augustine.

          It does not solve the SP

          You keep saying this, but don’t explain why. Alternatively, experts claim it does…and a cursory reading of it demonstrates why it does.

          Farrer Theory (Mark without Q):
          The last theory that will be discussed here is commonly called the Farrer Theory. Like the previous few theories, the Farrer Theory gives priority to Mark. Matthew was the second to be composed, followed by Luke. Matthew would have used Mark, while Luke would have used Mark and Matthew. This theory eliminates the need for a theoretical Q because both the triple tradition and the double tradition are explained without the need of an outside source. The leading supporters of this theory include J. H. Ropes, A. M. Farrer, M. D. Goulder, and Mark Goodacre (http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/q/). The advantage of the Farrer Theory is that it seems to solve the Synoptic Problem without the use of hypothetical external documents.

          https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/q.cfm

          Coincidentally, I was just reading a critique of the Ehrman/Price debate by Richard Carrier…

          .Notice Ehrman does not tell the audience any of this. He just asserts Q is an established fact and is therefore an “independent” source. It isn’t. It’s a highly dubious, highly contested, highly doubted hypothesis, as even its own defenders like Kloppenborg admit. (IMO, it’s worse: the Q hypothesis is wholly indefensible and I cannot fathom why any rational historian would still be defending it.) For example, even if Q existed, how do we know Q is not a redaction of Mark, and Matthew and Luke just used that redaction, thus explaining their material that agrees with Mark, and the material that agrees with each other? We don’t. Therefore, theories based on Q “lacking” Markan material have exactly no basis in any evidence or logic. Such theories are viciously circular (they define Q into existence as material shared by Matthew and Luke but not Mark; and then act surprised that Q lacks Markan material). Which means, fundamentally fallacious. There is a reason David Hackett Fisher wrote a book demonstrating and explaining that historians really need to start learning logic, because they are frightfully bad at it.

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11435

          As to all of the apocryphal gospels written in the name of an Apostle, some are dated hundreds of years later.

          Yeah…and many aren’t, and it is the many that aren’t that matter in this discussion.

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/apocrypha.html

          Thomas is the only one that has a realistic chance of being written early. I am going on the opinions of the experts.

          Which experts?

          The Didache…first century?

          The Epistle of Barnabas…first century?

          There are plenty that fall within the required date range…check them out.

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

          It only takes one to make my point and you’ve already conceded The Gospel of Thomas…so what are you now arguing about?

        • Clement Agonistes

          RE: Synoptic Problem: We still have the problem with unique material for each author.

          The Didache is fine and dandy, but is more of an Operators Manual than a Gospel. I think there is an important distinction here that needs to be made. “Scripture” is important writings that are valued. “Canon” is the “must-read” of scripture. Didache, and possibly some of the others you mention are scripture. When people tried to use scripture as canon, that was a problem.

          When the various churches got together to make the canon official centuries later, some OK scripture was eliminated based on how old it was and whether they could be tied to an Apostle. Hebrews is a great example of an extremely old scripture that was tied (erroneously) to Paul. Mark and Luke were key figures from the Apostolic Age with ties to Peter and Paul.

          The Epistle of Barnabas wasn’t a Gospel, either. They didn’t think it was the Barnabas who was a companion of Paul. And, it was too young. Some of these made it into early canons. They made the semi-finals. Some of them may have had material which could be supportive of both the idea of an oral tradition and extra witness accounts. Please, throw me into that briar!

        • Pofarmer

          When people tried to use scripture as canon, that was a problem.

          The problem was that many of the sources didn’t agree. The Didiche is an interesting example of this. Mainly because it is clearly non-trinitarian, and clearly doesn’t support the Catholic idea of the Eucharist.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It’s been a long time since I read the Didache, but I remember it saying to baptize in the name of the Trinity. Maybe the Catholic idea of the Eucharist is different than mine.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There was all manner of scriptures, including various gospels, being used during the first two centuries. Many dated to the early half of the second century. The synoptic gospels were not canon until the fourth century. Clement is considering the Apocrypha vis a vis the four canon, in light of them becoming the big four. He is being anachronistic in order to fit his bias.

        • Greg G.

          We still have the problem with unique material for each author.

          We see that the authors are capable of turning non-Jesus material into Jesus material. The problem is the assumption that they actually had information about Jesus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Didache is fine and dandy, but is more of an Operators Manual than a Gospel. I think there is an important distinction here that needs to be made. “Scripture” is important writings that are valued. “Canon” is the “must-read” of scripture. Didache, and possibly some of the others you mention are scripture. When people tried to use scripture as canon, that was a problem.

          I see we are down to splitting hairs now. There is 27 books in the NT and only 4 are gospels. Others preach a gospel, but they are not gospels.

          Of the many gospels written in antiquity, only four gospels came to be accepted as part of the New Testament, or canonical. An insistence upon there being a canon of four gospels, and no others, was a central theme of Irenaeus of Lyons, c. 185. In his central work, Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus denounced various early Christian groups that used only one gospel, such as Marcionism which used only Marcion’s version of Luke, or the Ebionites, who seem to have used an Aramaic version of Matthew as well as groups that embraced the texts of newer writings, such as the Valentinians (A.H. 1.11).

          It is not in dispute that from it’s inception, Christianity was made up of a diversity of sub-groups/cults with all manner of beliefs and scriptures to go along with them. Many of these scriptures were destroyed, many of them we only know about through a third party writing, and many of them are still extant in one form or another.

          But since you are hair splitting…

          Gospel of Mary…100-180 CE?
          Oxyrhynchus Gospel 1224…50-150 CE?

          The heresy of Docetism is early enough to matter.

          The opponents against whom Ignatius of Antioch inveighs are often taken to be Monophysite docetists. In his letter to the Smyrnaeans, 7:1, written around 110 AD, he writes:

          “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.”

          While these characteristics fit a Monophysite framework, a slight majority of scholars consider that Ignatius was waging a polemic on two distinct fronts, one Jewish, the other docetic; a minority holds that he was concerned with a group that commingled Judaism and docetism. Others, however, doubt that there was actual docetism threatening the churches, arguing that he was merely criticizing Christians who lived Jewishly or that his critical remarks were directed at an Ebionite or Cerinthian possessionist Christology, according to which Christ was a heavenly spirit that temporarily possessed Jesus.

          Either way, early on there was plenty not following what later became the orthodox church. Where were these ideas coming from so early in he churches history?

          When the various churches got together to make the canon official centuries later, some OK scripture was eliminated based on how old it was and whether they could be tied to an Apostle. Hebrews is a great example of an extremely old scripture that was tied (erroneously) to Paul. Mark and Luke were key figures from the Apostolic Age with ties to Peter and Paul.

          A bit of an all around clusterfuck when ya realise what made it in, and what didn’t. The Gospel of Thomas has it’s authorship in the opening, something the canon gospels don’t enjoy.

          “These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down.”

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Early enough” is kinda the problem, isn’t it.

          It’s not splitting hairs to insist that a discussion of Gospels be limited to Gospels.

          Note how you define persecution as a very localized thing when that suits your purpose, and empire-wide when that serves.

          The point of orthodoxy is maintaining the original meaning,

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Early enough” is kinda the problem, isn’t it.

          Nope…that’s you making it that way.

          You made a comment by way of an attempt in negating the impact of Apocryphal writings as of no consequence.

          As to all of the apocryphal gospels written in the name of an Apostle, some are dated hundreds of years later.

          That thinking is erroneous and demonstrably so. You are retconning the winners back into the early church.

          The Gnostic heresies are testament to that alone. There were numerous communities using numerous scriptures saying various unorthodox stuff during the first three centuries of the faith, and those are the ones we are aware of.

          It’s not splitting hairs to insist that a discussion of Gospels be limited to Gospels.

          Yeah, that’s fair enough. I could pull the old definition of the word gospel canard, but since I used the word “gospels” let’s just stick with those scriptures designated gospel in the title.

          Note how you define persecution as a very localized thing when that suits your purpose, and empire-wide when that serves.

          Whaaa? WTF are you on about? I’ve not defined persecution as anything, the sources I’m citing have. But feel free to support your assertions to the contrary and we can take it from there. That’s how this works.

          The point of orthodoxy is maintaining the original meaning,

          What was the original meaning? We only have what was preserved.

        • Ignorant Amos

          RE: Synoptic Problem: We still have the problem with unique material for each author.

          Why is that a problem? How does the “Q” document save it?

        • Clement Agonistes

          It’s

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aren’t you forgetting to mention the problems with the 2SH?

          It’s a problem because instead of two sources (how Q helps) we have 3, and in the hands of historians, that makes the story more likely to be true.

          But the Farrer Hypothesis ISN’T a three source hypothesis. No element is reliant on three sources.

          https://trainingforfutureministry.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/fig-3.jpg

          The three source hypothesis is a bit different and relies on a hypothetical “Q” type document of sayings.

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Synoptic_problem_Three-Source_hypothesis.png

          The Farrer Hypothesis isn’t a three source hypothesis, anymore than using “Q” is a four source hypothesis. The thing is, we have the three elements of the Farrer Hypothesis without inventing a hypothetical source that isn’t real.

          Nothing you’ve suggested rules out the Farrer Hypothesis or makes “Q” necessary.

          OK, that is a bigger problem for Jesus-deniers than …

          Nope.

        • Greg G.

          Q is not necessary. Matthew copied gMark while Luke copied gMark and gMatthew. Q is an excuse to not have to explain the differences between them. Luke skipped from Mark 6:46 to Mark 8:27 in mid-sentence in Luke 9:46, often called The Great Omission. If you accept that Luke copied gMark, then you can go with Luke copied gMatthew and skipped stuff just as with gMark.

          (I don’t have my notes but I think I have the right verses, or pretty close.)

        • Clement Agonistes

          Here is the write up in Wikipedia:
          “Q is part of the common material found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke but not in the Gospel of Mark. According to this hypothesis, this material was drawn from the early Church’s Oral Tradition.[1][2][3]
          Along with Markan priority, Q was hypothesized by 1900, and is one of the foundations of most modern gospel scholarship.[4] B. H. Streeter formulated a widely accepted view of Q: that it was written in Koine Greek;
          that most of its contents appear in Matthew, in Luke, or in both; and
          that Luke more often preserves the text’s original order than Matthew.
          In the two-source hypothesis, the three-source hypothesis and the Q+/Papias hypothesis
          Matthew and Luke both used Mark and Q as sources. Some scholars have
          postulated that Q is actually a plurality of sources, some written and
          some oral.”

          Just to be clear, I did not say it was necessary. I said it was a construct to help solve the SP. No satisfactory solution has yet been reached. That’s why it is a problem. If we take away Q, then we are stuck with a Markian Priority that doesn’t fit. At that point, the possibility of 4 separate sources becomes a possibility, and minority historians cannot deny Jesus as a true historical person. Q supports your point of view. Embrace it.

        • Greg G.

          Luke more often preserves the text’s original order than Matthew.

          That is circular reasoning. They assume that because Luke follows Mark’s order so he must have followed Q’s order.

          Q supports your point of view. Embrace it.

          I did embrace it. I rejected it because it is not necessary, Luke copying Matthew” fits the evidence better, there is no evidence for Q. I change my mind when I get evidence to the contrary.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Q belongs to another age, an age in which scholars solved every problem by postulating another written source. The evangelists were thought of as ‘scissors and paste’ men, compilers and not composers, who edited together pieces from several documents. Classically, the bookish B. H. Streeter solved the synoptic problem by assigning a written source to each type of material – triple tradition was from Mark; double tradition was from ‘Q’; special Matthew was from ‘M’ and special Luke was from ‘L’. Most scholars have since dispensed with written ‘M’ and ‘L’ sources. The time has now come to get up-to-date, and to dispense with Q too.

          http://www.markgoodacre.org/Q/ten.htm

        • Clement Agonistes

          The idea of Q begins with the premise that there could be nothing supernatural. It’s premise is that none of the Sn events in the Gospels happened. Once you eliminate those, you are left with just another historical mystery to unravel. A collection of sayings from a real person that were weaved into the Synoptics fits with that view.

          Eliminating Q makes an already complicated problem even more complicated. It could mean 3 separate sources for the Synoptics, making their report more credible.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Eliminating Q makes an already complicated problem even more complicated. It could mean 3 separate sources for the Synoptics, making their report more credible.

          Nope…it really doesn’t.

          http://www.markgoodacre.org/Q/farrer.htm

        • Greg G.

          Eliminating Q makes an already complicated problem even more complicated. It could mean 3 separate sources for the Synoptics, making their report more credible.

          More complicated but not more credible. aMark used some of Paul;s letters supplemented by OT passages and Greek literature. The other gospels copied from him. aMatthew appears to have used James as a source for Jesus’ sermons, aLuke used both and made up the trip to Jerusalem from Deuteronomy. I think aJohn used Mark and some Alexandrian literature such as Philo and material copied from the pyramids, even. I think aMatthew and aLuke knew gJohn but mostly rejected it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          If you were at a Craps table, this would be the equivalent of betting that you can roll 5 “12”s in a row.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Q Source is necessary to solve the Synoptic Problem. Without it, it is just as likely that all three were produced independently, or that Mark was the last written.

          Repeating it won’t make it a fact. The “Q”source is not necessary and it can be negated…demonstrably so.

          The Farrer theory has the advantage of simplicity, as there is no need for hypothetical sources to be created by academics. Instead, advocates of the Farrer theory argue, the Gospel of Mark was used as source material by the author of Matthew. Lastly, Luke used both of the previous gospels as sources for his Gospel.

          The Gospel of Thomas is the only one that is comparable time-wise.

          You demand hypothetical sources and oral tradition on the one hand, but won’t accept that there is no way of knowing what they contained on the other. What do you think the Apocrypha texts were based on?

          When Constantine recognized Christianity as a bona fide religion, he failed to notice that in the three centuries after Jesus died, the religion had become a clusterfuck of competing sects and ideas. The true nature of Jesus was the source of some particularly heated debate, and because people are kinda jerks, things shifted to overdrive in a hurry. Invisibility, levitation, miracle healing, indestructibility, and various other X-Men superpowers were seen as necessary attributes to emphasize that Jesus could have escaped a date with a crucifix if he wanted to but was destined to die instead, redeem mankind, and be reborn. As such, tomes like Pseudo-Cyril Of Jerusalem On The Life And The Passion Of Christ implied Jesus was an actual shapeshifter who could change his appearance at will because he possessed a superpowered energy body that only looked like a human one.

          To make things even more intriguing, one early Gnostic sect called the Carpocratians depicted Jesus Christ as not only a sexual being but a full-on libertine who indulged in flamboyantly gay and bisexual antics with his followers. That’s right, the Gnostic JC was AC/DC.

          Sadly, Jesus’ experimental phase didn’t last. Although the concept of the Holy Trinity was still a work in progress, and every region or local congregation put a colorful spin on the Jesus story, only a few powerful bishops held any real power. In 325 BC, they convened at Nicea at the behest of the emperor to determine the “official” doctrine Christianity would run with. The proto-versions of the views we know today were committee-punched into the Nicene Creed, and the Church happily started persecuting the hell out of anybody that disagreed with them. Luckily that was just a one-time thing, and they never, ever did it again.

          http://www.cracked.com/article_23368_5-secret-things-you-wont-believe-about-early-christianity.html

          There was a lot of book burning in the early days and heresies were rampant. The story has been heavily redacted.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I think we are limited to dealing with what we do have, not what might have been destroyed. In my version, vast quantities of early Christian documents were destroyed by non-Christian persecution. It wasn’t until centuries later that Christian had sufficient power to persecute.

          It is also worthy of note that Christianity wasn’t just a Roman world thing.

          The Constantine thing gets a lot of spinning of the truth.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think we are limited to dealing with what we do have, not what might have been destroyed.

          Yeah…we don’t have a “Q” document or what was the oral tradition. What we do know is that there was various heretical beliefs and the texts they used were destroyed by the orthodox winners.

          In my version, vast quantities of early Christian documents were destroyed by non-Christian persecution.

          Nope…not until the Diocletianic Persecution at the beginning of the 4th century is there any record of the destruction of Christian texts.

          The Diocletianic Persecution started on March 31, 302, with the Roman Emperor Diocletian, in a rescript from Alexandria, ordering that the leading Manichaeans be burnt alive along with their scriptures. This was the first time a Roman Imperial persecution ever called for the destruction of sacred literature. On the following year, on February 23, 303, Diocletian ordered that the newly built Christian church at Nicomedia be razed, its scriptures burned, and its treasures seized. Later persecutions included the burning of both the Christians themselves and of their books. As related in later Christian Hagiography, at that time the governor of Valencia offered the deacon who would become known as Saint Vincent of Saragossa to have his life spared in exchange for his consigning Scripture to the fire. Vincent refused and let himself be executed instead. In religious paintings he is often depicted holding the book whose preservation he preferred to his own life (see illustration in Saint Vincent of Saragossa page.) Conversely, many other Christians, less courageous, did save their lives by giving away their Scriptures to be burned. These came to be known as Traditores (literally, “those who give away”) from which the modern word “traitor” is derived.

          Not long after that is when the Christians started the book burning.

          The books of Arius and his followers, after the first Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.), were burned for heresy by the Roman emperors Constantine, Honorius, and Theodosius I, who published a decree commanding that, “the doctrine of the Trinity should be embraced by those who would be called catholics; that all others should bear the infamous name of heretics”.

          It wasn’t until centuries later that Christian had sufficient power to persecute.

          Nope….it was 22 years.

          And that’s when the opposing scriptures began to be destroyed. Arianism, Pelagianism, Donatism, Marcionism and Montanism among them.

          It is also worthy of note that Christianity wasn’t just a Roman world thing.

          Itwas when the book burning by Christians started.

          The Constantine thing gets a lot of spinning of the truth.

          You’d like that to be true wouldn’t ya?

          When the Church, after the era of persecution, was given greater liberty, a censorship of books appears more plainly. The First Ecumenical Council of Nicæa (325) condemned not only Arius personally, but also his book entitled “Thalia”; Constantine commanded that the writings of Arius and his friends should everywhere be delivered up to be burned; concealment of them was forbidden under pain of death. In the following centuries, when and wherever heresies sprung up, the popes of Rome and the oecumenical councils, as well as the particular synods of Africa, Asia, and Europe, condemned, conjointly with the false doctrines, the books and writings containing them. (Cf. Hilgers, Die Bücherverbote in Papstbriefen.) The latter were ordered to be destroyed by fire, and illegal preservation of them was treated as a heinous criminal offense. The authorities intended to make the reading of such writings simply impossible. Pope St. Innocent I, enumerating in a letter of 405 a number of apocryphal writings, rejects them as non solum repudianda sed etiam damnanda. It is the first attempt at a catalog of forbidden books. The so-called “Decretum Gelasianum” contains many more, not only apocryphal, but also heretical, or otherwise objectionable writings. It is not without reason that this catalog has been called the first “Roman Index” of forbidden books.

          http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03519d.htm

          And don’t forget about the book burning reported in The Acts….

          18 Many believers came forward, confessing their evil practices and giving a full account of them; 19 and a number of those who followed magic arts made their books into a heap and burned them in public: the value of these was reckoned up, and proved to be fifty thousand silver pieces. 20 So, irresistibly, the word of the Lord spread and prevailed.

        • Clement Agonistes

          There were numerous persecutions. Nero quickly come to mind. The emperor in the 90s also. Centralized persecution was not even the most common form. Localities throughout the empire did their own persecutions. Today, Syria and Egypt do not have persecution policies, yet it still exists. Rome would have winked at local persecution.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah…persecutions aren’t the issue here, it is the destruction of texts and what their content might have been, that is the question.

          Btw, Nero’s alleged persecution of Christians is highly dubious.

        • Greg G.

          The Gospel of Thomas is the only one that is comparable time-wise.

          I think Mark may have used an early version of gThomas for the matching sayings from the end of chapter 3 to near the end of chapter 4. But I think many of the gThomas sayings numbered in the 60s appear to have come from gLuke.

          Else the matches could be Gnostic versions of the gospels and Mark may have had a different source or invented them.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And there are other early Christian writings that fit the timescale.

          The Didache for example.

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/didache.html

        • Clement Agonistes

          The GOT is cited as support for the Q hypothesis. It clearly has commonality with Gospels, and is heavy with quotes. It is not Gnostic.

        • Greg G.

          It is not Gnostic.

          You are right and I was wrong about that. That clause is so poorly worded, I am not sure what I was trying to say either.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It is not Gnostic.

          Not everyone agrees with that though, do they?

          Elaine Pagels for example.

          http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl_thomas.htm

        • Pofarmer

          but one thing the vast majority of historians do agree on is that there
          was an oral version of the Gospels before there was a written version.

          Which is another thing we simply can’t know. What precludes the Gospel of Mark simply being made up from other teachings and stories? After all, a great many of the stories in Mark are other OT stories combined with some Homeric stories. There’s not much in there to be “original” or to have needed an oral history. If there’s a kernal, even the Jesus seminar can’t find it.

          http://vridar.org/2014/09/25/jesus-the-oral-performer-questioning-an-oral-tradition-behind-the-gospels/

        • Clement Agonistes

          We can’t know with absolute certainty, but the opinion of the majority of scholars is knowable.

        • Pofarmer

          And yet I’ve never seen a clear exposition on why the Gospels aren’t a total fiction. There isn’t complete agreement on any of it being factual, and yet this character certainly must have lived. Reminds me of the Sackets.

        • Greg G.

          Acts uses “disciple/s” as many as 32 times depending on the translation, many involving Paul and not just the Twelve.

          I think that Paul’s authentic epistles would be reliable regarding the use of “apostle/s” and a strong indication that “disciple/s” was not a term used during his time. The Gospels and Acts are fictional stories so they are not reliable for much.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apostles are messengers. The apostles in the epistles had the message revealed through scripture and revelation. They then had to go tell that message.

          Disciples are pupils. In the gospel’s Jesus taught the disciples directly and they were instructed to go out and teach others.

          The term “disciple” is derived from the Koine Greek word mathetes, which means a pupil (of a teacher) or an apprentice (to a master craftsman), coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus meaning a learner while the more common English word is student. A disciple is different from an apostle, which instead means a messenger. While a disciple is one who learns from a teacher, an apostle is one sent to deliver those teachings or a message.

          Mark probably got the disciple idea from Isaiah 8:16. Mark liked using Isaiah as a source.

          Bind up this testimony of warning and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples

        • Greg G.

          Mark probably got the disciple idea from Isaiah 8:16. Mark liked using Isaiah as a source.

          Isaiah is the book Paul quotes from most often. Romans 9:33 quotes from Isaiah 8:14 but Paul never adopted “disciple”. It is as if he never thought of the other apostles as students of Jesus any more than he did himself.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Isaiah must’ve been the go-to scripture for NT source material.

          It is as if he never thought of the other apostles as students of Jesus any more than he did himself.

          Absolutely spot on.

        • Pofarmer

          ad Paul retold the story when they were Apostles?

          Uhm, no, Paul doesn’t know any Disciples, only Apostles, just like he became an Apostle.

          Paul wrote first, remember?

        • Clement Agonistes

          The event took place at one point in time (33 A.D.?), and the writing took place at a different time (50+ A.D.).

        • Pofarmer

          Doesn’t even come close to adressing the question. Why does Paul say explicitly that they got their information the same way that he did? And never infers discipleship at all?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Even when knowing a few disciples would’ve lent a bit of gravitas when he was name dropping.

          “Hey, listen up you guy’s when I’m telling you this stuff, I’m chums with these bunch of geezer’s who were pupils of the Big BeJaysus himself”

        • Greg G.

          But the writings with “disciple/s” came even later.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Any number you pick is going to be subject to this kind of stuff. Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence. They were fishermen. They got paid by the fish. They caught 153 fish, ate a couple, and made good coin that night.

          The point went right over your head. Humans are fascinated with numbers and lining them to meaningful reasons. That was Greg’s point.. We still do it today, but the ancient were “away with the fairies” in doing it.

          It’s better known as numerology these days.

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

          Your comment, though not intentionally, sorta makes Greg’s point.

          http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/08/100813-friday-the-13th-superstitions-triskaidekaphobia/

          http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/09/130913-friday-luck-lucky-superstition-13/

        • Clement Agonistes

          From Wikipedia:

          153 fish[edit]
          The precision of the number of fish as 153 has long been considered, and various writers have argued that the number 153 has some deeper significance, with many conflicting theories having been offered (see the discussion on the number 153 in the Bible). Discussing some of these theories, theologian D. A. Carson suggests that “If the Evangelist has some symbolism in mind connected with the number 153, he has hidden it well,”[14] while other scholars note “No symbolic significance for the number of 153 fish in John 21:11 has received widespread support”.[15]

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why specify the number 153? A coincidence do ya think?

          Discussing some of these theories, theologian D. A. Carson suggests that “If the Evangelist has some symbolism in mind connected with the number 153, he has hidden it well,”

          Well if D.A. Carson says that, then it must be the case.

          “No symbolic significance for the number of 153 fish in John 21:11 has received widespread support”.

          Unfortunately not everyone got the memo.

          St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory, and St. Cyril all offer ideas which are good theology, and which are plausible secondary meanings. However, their ideas were all different and their is no real evidence that any of their ideas would have been obvious to John’s readers.

          http://www.defendingthebride.com/ss/fish/conclusion.html

          Church folk have attached significance to the number 153 throughout history.

          http://www.defendingthebride.com/ss/fish/father.html

          Augustine of Hippo argued that the significance lay in the fact that 153 is the sum of the first 17 integers (i.e. 153 is the 17th triangular number), with 17 representing the combination of divine grace (the 7 gifts of the Spirit) and law (the Ten Commandments).

          Writers claiming a major role for Mary Magdalene have noted that in Greek isopsephy her epithet “η Μαγδαληνή” bears the number 8 + 40 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 30 + 8 + 50 + 8 = 153, thus, it is suggested, revealing her importance. Similarly, the phrase “τὸ δίκτυον” (the net) used in the passage bears the number 1224 = 8 × 153, as do some other phrases. The significance of this is unclear, given that Koine Greek provides a choice of several noun endings with different isopsephy values.

          There’s your “net” nonsense right there.

          The precision of the number of fish in this narrative has long been considered peculiar, and many scholars, throughout history, have argued that 153 has some deeper significance. Jerome, for example, wrote that Oppian’s Halieutica listed 153 species of fish, although this could not have been the intended meaning of the Gospel writer because Oppian composed Halieutica after the Gospel text was written, and at any rate never gave a list of fish species that clearly adds up to 153. It has also been noted that the Tetragrammaton occurs 153 times in the Book of Genesis.

          Evagrius Ponticus referred to the catch of 153 fish, as well as to the mathematical properties of the number (153 = 100 + 28 + 25, with 100 a square number, 28 a triangular number and 25 a circular number) when describing his 153-chapter work on prayer. Louis de Montfort, in his fifth method of saying the Rosary, connects the catch of 153 fish with the number of Hail Marys said (3 plus 15 sets of 10), while St Paul’s School in London was founded in 1512 by John Colet to teach 153 poor men’s children, also in reference to the catch.

          So it is clear that significance WAS attached to the number 153 by theologians, regardless of what D.A.Carson says.

          And they are still doing it.

          These sweeping statements about who supports what always intrigue me. They are very rarely supported with evidence.

          In the meantime, there IS evidence that apologists DO attach significance.

          https://carm.org/about-perseverance-153-fish

          http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/153.html

          What do the 153 fish signify? Scholars have long suspected a hidden numerical significance (Gematria). Whatever cryptic meaning the number might have communicated to John and his readers has been long lost and forgotten, but that does not stop teachers and interpreters from speculating.

          http://torahclub.ffoz.org/disciples/john/what-is-the-meaning-of-the-153.html

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Widespread (support)” does not rule out small amounts. Your dismissal of Carson (whoever the heck he is) is how one could also dismiss the proponents of the 153 theory … “Well, if John Doe says 153 is from Pythagoras, that settles it.” That’s is a debate tactic which goes nowhere. It is an Appeal To Authority is which we would argue for weeks about whose authority has authority. I am content that 1900 years has yet to produce even a substantial number of experts who think this theory holds water..

        • Greg G.

          The number 153 has some significance or it would not be mentioned. aJohn knew his readers would be educated in Greek. He would have expected them to know the story of Pythagoras and the fish in the net. It is not reasonable to assume that there is no connection just because we don’t have the precise source two millenia later, especially since there are similar connections throughout the gospels.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The number of fish caught had significance to a fisherman who made a living based on the number of fish he catches.

        • Greg G.

          In that context, there would be less significance for 153 than for 154.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This was supposed to be a miracle, remember? Normal rules don’t apply.

          Would it be more miraculous to be a nice even number like 150?

          Or would it be more miraculous to have the number of fish caught to be 153, which had some sort of a superstitious/supernatural/miraculous significance?

          Seems Christians throughout the ages thought so anyway.

        • Greg G.

          In Matthew’s genealogy, he makes a big deal about there being 14 generation from Abraham to David, David to the Exile, and the Exile to Jesus. The numerology for David’s name in Hebrew would be:

          D + V + D = 4 + 6 + 4 = 14

          However, Matthew missed four names in the middle set of 14 and lists only thirteen names after the Exile. He must have counted the Exile as a generation. One name he included had a curse put on him that none of his offspring would prosper. It’s no wonder Luke rejected his genealogy.

        • Clement Agonistes

          When you characterize it as rejecting, you are trying to read his mind. He does not call BS. He merely presents a different view of a similar thought with different emphasis to make a different point.

          If your point is that NT writers used numerology at times, I agree.

        • Greg G.

          Luke was writing a summary of the gospels he had at his disposal. He was obviously copying from gMark. If he includes a story, he accepted it. If he omitted text, he either didn’t accept it or flat out rejected it. If he writes something that contradicts a source he was using, then it is a rejection of his source material. If he consistently omits a certain type of story, it is more likely a rejection of the type, such as spit miracles and miracles that took time to be seen.

          Luke rejected some material in Mark, so there is no reason he would not reject material from his other sources, so the Q hypothesis is unnecessary. Luke wrote material that is contradicting Matthew’s genealogy and nativity stories, so it is more likely to be a rejection.

          PS: Yes, the numerology was the point I intended.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You are reading the mind of a person from a radically different time, culture, experience, and mindset. That doesn’t mean you aren’t right, or that human nature isn’t consistent over time, it just means that you are really stretching the number of rolls of the dice that have to go your way.

          If you expressed the same skepticism about the Pythagoras story as you express about the Jesus story, you’d have dismissed it long ago.

          People have been looking for a numerology angle on this story for centuries, and the overwhelming majority reject it. Sometimes, it’s just the number of fish. Your theory is plausible, but highly improbable.

        • Pofarmer

          Sometimes, it’s just the number of fish

          Unless there are no fish.

        • Clement Agonistes

          .. or the number of the fish needed to have symbolic importance, yes.

          Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, is it plausible that Paul was referring to this, same, event?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not if one believes that Paul’s knowledge is gleaned from scripture and revelation, like those he mention got their information too.

          When we allow Paul to speak for himself, rather than impose upon him the narrative world of the evangelists, we find a consistent picture throughout the letters. The governing force in his life’s work, as it is with all the competing apostles who roam the byways of the empire preaching the divine Christ, is the power of God’s Spirit, manifested through revelation and a study of scripture. No historical man who had recently begun the movement hovers in the background of Paul’s thought. His gospel comes from God, and its subject matter is the Christ, the intermediary Son who is the hallmark of the religious philosophy of the age. Everything Paul has to say about his Christ Jesus (including his features “according to the flesh”) comes from scripture, that window onto the higher spiritual world of God and his workings.

          Paul occasionally feels himself in direct contact with his Christ Jesus in heaven, receiving instruction from him, as in that handful of pronouncements which scholars call “words of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11, 9:14, 11:23, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). And he, like all contemporary Christians, awaits the arrival of this Son and Lord from heaven at the imminent End, when they shall set eyes on his person for the first time. In 1 Corinthians itself, Paul refers three times to the coming, the “revealing” of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:7, 11:26, 16:22). In not one of them, nor in any of the other dozen occurrences throughout the Pauline corpus, do we sense any suggestion that this will be a second coming, the return of a figure who had previously walked the earth in Paul’s own lifetime.

          http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp06.htm

        • Greg G.

          When did Peter learn to swim between Matthew 14:30 and John 21:7?

        • Clement Agonistes

          DID he swim in John?

        • Kodie

          I am not really following, but the number of fish sticks out to me because I’m more familiar with the bible using round numbers, estimates, other symbolic numbers. I don’t understand why numerology would enhance veracity of a story. If fiction writers were looking to make a symbolic point, they would pick a symbolic number for spooky reasons. Or it’s an account of what actually happened, and an actual number of actual fish that I can’t believe they counted, or if fishermen probably do count fish, why would it have been recorded for the bible. If it’s symbolic, that points to embellishment at least. It doesn’t make it more credible, but less.

        • Greg G.

          You are reading the mind of a person from a radically different time, culture, experience, and mindset. That doesn’t mean you aren’t right, or that human nature isn’t consistent over time, it just means that you are really stretching the number of rolls of the dice that have to go your way.

          Sure, I could be wrong on several specifics and still be fairly correct on the major points. It matters very little why Luke and Matthew omitted spit miracles and the naked boy, the fact remains that they did. That Luke and Matthew have different genealogies and nativity stories and that Luke most likely borrowed from Matthew since he admits to having writings from what he assumes are eyewitnesses, it means he rejected those of Matthew, perhaps politely omitting them, perhaps vociferously ripping the pages to shreds.

          If you expressed the same skepticism about the Pythagoras story as you express about the Jesus story, you’d have dismissed it long ago.

          I do reject the Pythagoras story as a fictional story, just as I reject the Odyssey and Elisha’s Feeding of the 100 as fiction. I just see those stories as the inspiration for the gospels in the form of Greek mimesis and Jewish midrash.

          People have been looking for a numerology angle on this story for centuries, and the overwhelming majority reject it. Sometimes, it’s just the number of fish. Your theory is plausible, but highly improbable.

          Perhaps aJohn knew a version of the Pythagoras story where Pythagoras picked 153. I doubt that the specific number was used for no reason. In the Bible, the number 40 is used very often but it usually meant “many, many” of “dozens” rather than precisely forty. At the moment, I cannot think of any other number greater than a hundred in the Bible that is not a round figure. Can you? [I Googled. Numbers gives the number of fighting men of Israel in Egypt as 603,550 and 601,730. http://www.biblestudywithrandy.com/2016/06/large-numbers-old-testament/ Those numbers illustrate the difference between precision and accuracy.] [The page cited points out that there may be symbolism behind the numbers and points out that 42 is often associated with death numbers.]

        • Clement Agonistes

          I think in Revelation, there were a 144,000 special saints or something. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are big on them.

          My point about the Pythagoras work wasn’t whether you believe the story, but when you believe the literary work came into being. I’ll bet the oldest copy of that document we have post-dates John’s story. If so, then only commentaries could tell us whether it pre-exisited the John story.

        • Kodie

          Oh good, you think the bible is a secret code book. My favorite kind of Christian!

        • Philmonomer

          There’s nothing in the text to support that.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You stated that here was no such story in the Gospels or Acts where Jesus was seen alive after His burial by 500 people. Where was Paul getting this from?

          I don’t think the appearance of Jesus in the room (with Thomas seeing the wounds) could possibly fit. But, the appearance out in public, in Galilee, where the Apostles and their extended families were from, where crowds had been interested in Jesus previously, it could fit.

          No, the account doesn’t say there was a crowd. But, it doesn’t comment one way or another. It is the only possible match.

        • Philmonomer

          So, if your goal is to make the Bible match up, then you can do most anything. You can simply make stuff up (because the Bible doesn’t explicitly say X didn’t happen.)

          You don’t want to admit the fact that the oldest part of the Bible has the statement that Jesus was witnessed by 500 people, but there is no story in the Gospels or Acts appearing to 500 people, is a major problem. (Again, this is a problem because, you want to argue that extraordinary events are etched in people’s minds. That people remember such events for the next 50 year. I’d argue that being a part of the multitudes seeing the actual risen Christ would be such an extraordinary event. And the story would be passed down–500 people took part in it!–by the followers of Jesus for decades. It would be one of his most stupendous achievements of the risen Christ! But, nothing.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Just as a reminder, you were the one who had the goal of the match up here. And, if I may quibble a bit, “took part” implies an active role. I can witness a bank robbery without taking part in it. It is our nature to spin facts to make them fit our conclusions.

          Which, is pretty close to what I was doing for you here. You asked how I square those accounts, and I gave you my best answer. I allowed for the possibility of 2 separate events, but this one could be a fit.

          You bring up the temporal difference in the letter of Paul and the Gospel of John. A Historian might give greater credibility to the oldest account. By the time gJohn was written, the author certainly could have read Paul’s letters.

          The Christian community that followed John was believed to be centered around Ephesus, one of the churches founded by Paul. One of the letters of Peter makes reference to the writings of Paul as being “scripture”, at a minimum indicating a widespread awareness of Paul’s writings. It would make sense that aJohn would be aware of Paul’s writings, including this account of this event. GJohn makes reference to the other accounts of Jesus’ life that were already out there.

          His emphasis could be different than Paul’s point. GJohn is far more focused on Jesus than the Synoptics. Perhaps he kept that focus on Jesus rather than the size of the crowd (that everyone already knew about). The bigger question here might be how the miracles of Jesus made so little impact on the masses. IMO, that’s where getting into the head of the e people of that time is important.

        • Pofarmer

          The bigger question here might be how the miracles of Jesus made so little impact on the masses.

          The straightforward answer would be because they obviously never happened.

        • Philmonomer

          Which, is pretty close to what I was doing for you here. You asked how I
          square those accounts, and I gave you my best answer. I allowed for
          the possibility of 2 separate events, but this one could be a fit.

          In sum, you don’t see a problem that the oldest and “best” part of the New Testament (Corinthians 15:3-8) provides that one of the core things that happened during Jesus’s resurrection was appearing to the 500, but there is no actual appearance to the 500 in the New Testament (including the 4 gospels, which tell the story of what Jesus did after he was resurrected!)

        • Clement Agonistes

          The short answer is no, I don’t have a problem with that because Paul’s older version is more Christian-friendly than John’s version. We’ve gone from doubting the 60-yr-old memories of a single witness to doubting the 20-yr-old memories of hundreds of people.

          Let’s keep the context of Paul’s letters in mind. He is writing to REMIND people of what they already know. Paul was not present at the Gospel/Acts appearances of Jesus. He heard about those accounts before he told about them. Some – unnamed – someone told him about an event that they were also telling others about. Paul was not the only one relating this oral tradition.

          Paul has been teaching that:
          Jesus had a message,
          Jesus was crucified to death
          Jesus was resurrected,
          Jesus appeared to people afterward.

          That is a fantastic summary of the Gospels. They might disagree about the details, but the major points are consistent. As I pointed out, John’s account of the appearance of Jesus could, plausibly jibe with Paul’s. You are arguing details – the species of trees in the forest.

        • Greg G.

          Let’s keep the context of Paul’s letters in mind. He is writing to REMIND people of what they already know.

          Paul had to remind the Galatians that Jesus had been crucified because someone had “bewitched” them, and demonstrated that to them via a series of OT verse quotes. If they forgot that, then other groups would need to be reminded of details about Jesus that could not be found in the OT. But he never does say anything about Jesus that cannot be found in the OT.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Jews were big on drinking people’s blood.

        • Philmonomer

          That is a fantastic summary of the Gospels. They might disagree about
          the details, but the major points are consistent. As I pointed out,
          John’s account of the appearance of Jesus could, plausibly jibe with
          Paul’s. You are arguing details – the species of trees in the forest.

          I am not one who disagrees with this most basic summary: 1) Jesus lived. 2) Jesus died (probably by crucifixion) 3) Followers came to believe they had seen a resurrected Jesus (for example, Paul believed this).

          That’s all I think we can reasonably know. The rest is just a guessing game at what most “probably” happened. No one really knows.

          What strikes me as most probable–indeed, almost surely what happened–is that people came to honestly (but incorrectly) believe that Jesus was risen from the dead. They founded a religion on the idea that Jesus’s resurrection was the first signs of a New World. They were wrong, but the religion lived on–changing as the times required.

          But there is no underlying Truth to the resurrection, or Christianity.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Do people come back from the dead? No. It would take a miracle for such a thing to happen. The defining characteristic of miracles is their rarity. If you are a gambler, don’t bet on someone coming back from the dead.

          So, how do you convince someone that such a thing has happened? If they witness it themselves, that would be one way. If I met someone that I knew had died a while ago, it would convince me. You and I don’t have that.

          I brought up the lack of contemporaneous accounts of Alexander TG. Why am I convinced that he existed and did the amazing things he is credited with? It’s because I can see the results. I can’t see the wind from inside my house, but I can see its effects. The effects on the Apostles, and converts over the centuries is undeniable. But, Historical Jesus and Historical ATG are people. Miraculous Jesus takes more.

          If one’s view of reality is that miracles are impossible, then there is no convincing.

        • Philmonomer

          If one’s view of reality is that miracles are impossible, then there is no convincing.

          I don’t know if miracles are impossible or not.

          Let’s assume for a minute that Jesus, actually, really, 100 percent rose from the dead. Why wouldn’t he walk down to the Temple, and show himself to everybody there–making hundreds of converts at once? Why not show himself to the very leaders who condemned him! He could convert the high priests, simply by showing up! He could convert an entire town, simply by staying and living with them for a few days (imagine you saw him literally pass through a wall with your own eyes!). That town could be known for the rest of history as the town where the resurrected Jesus lived!

          His resurrection could be a monumental in world history. The point on which the whole world turned.

          Instead, we got odd, weird stories of the resurrected Jesus showing himself only to his disciples. We get secret, hidden meetings, where Jesus shows up. We get his disciples sometimes not recognizing him! How crazy is that? Why would a resurrected Jesus possible want that?

          Based on the stories we have (and the stories we don’t have) about the resurrected Jesus, what seems most likely to be true? 1) He really was resurrected, or 2) some people came to erroneously believe he had risen?

          2) seems overwhelmingly likely to be true.

        • Greg G.

          Why wouldn’t he walk down to the Temple, and show himself to everybody there–making hundreds of converts at once? Why not show himself to the very leaders who condemned him!

          He obviously didn’t want to get crucified a second time. That’s probably why he has put off the Rapture for 2000 years.

        • Clement Agonistes

          This gets back to the idea that an infinitely wise being would think exactly like me.

          In the temptation of Jesus by Satan, Satan made a similar suggestion, and Jesus rejected it.

          Again, given the rarity of miracles, the overwhelmingly most likely option is “Not-Miracle”.

        • Pofarmer

          This gets back to the idea that an infinitely wise being would think exactly like me.

          No, this gets back to the idea that Christian theology sucks.

        • Philmonomer

          This gets back to the idea that an infinitely wise being would think exactly like me.

          This doesn’t follow. I am simply positing that 2) is more likely than 1). Could God have his own reasons for doing it like 1)? Sure. Do I think it’s likely? No.

          Why do you think 1) is the way it happened?

          (BTW, it seems like your answer could then justify anything. Do you think the story of Mohammad and the Koran is likely? No? Well, that is you thinking that an infinitely wise being would think exactly like you.)

          In the temptation of Jesus by Satan, Satan made a similar suggestion, and Jesus rejected it.

          I don’t think so. Why do you think so?

          Again, given the rarity of miracles, the overwhelmingly most likely option is “Not-Miracle”.

          I’m not following you; Jesus wasn’t really resurrected?

        • Clement Agonistes

          How can we posit anything about God’s decisions without knowing God’s mind? Granted, it’s a hypothetical proposition. We are obliged to think about it from our own perspective, inserting ourselves as God. I try that with my fellow human beings on an almost-daily basis and the number of times I am wrong is phenomenal. Crossing cultural thinking is tough.

          But whatever reason God – or any person, FTM – has to be for his own reasons unless he have no control over his own decision-making. That is The Most Likely Answer for all of us.

          In this case, I think #1 is the way it happened … because #2 (marching His resurrected self to the Temple) did not happen. But, you probably meant Jesus did not come back to life was the #2 option. That gets back to what Bob described as each of us looking at what is before us and taking responsibility for our choices. While I might (Heck, do!) have difficulties with each individual piece of evidence, taken as a whole they make a really good case that Jesus came back to life.

          If a good friend grilled me about whether my special someone (Girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse) loved me for real or was insincere, I am going to look at a number of pieces of evidence, but the most convincing evidence is the least reliable – my intuition. I think both you and I are using intuition in making our decision about Jesus.

          My point about voting “Not-Miracle” is playing the odds. For all practical purposes, big miracles like coming back to life after being dead-dead do not happen. So, if we considered a random proposition, “Did Person X come back to life after being dead”, you gotta go with the odds. It’s a billion:one odds.

          … assuming randomness. You stated it as “overwhelming likely” that Jesus was not resurrected … based on the (random) odds.

        • Philmonomer

          While I might (Heck, do!) have difficulties with each individual piece
          of evidence, taken as a whole they make a really good case that Jesus
          came back to life.

          I don’t think they make a really good case. A better case would include mass appearances to people hostile to him (such as those who condemned him to death), and converting them.

          I am going to look at a number of pieces of evidence, but the most convincing evidence is the least reliable – my intuition. I think both you and I are using intuition in making our decision about Jesus.

          it’s not merely my intuition. It’s the stories we have about the resurrected Jesus combined with the stories we don’t have, that makes me think Jesus did not really rise from the dead.

        • Greg G.

          Psalm 77 talks about the miracles God used to do. But even those are in the fictional parts of the Old Testament. That’s how it works.

        • Pofarmer

          I brought up the lack of contemporaneous accounts of Alexander TG.

          Which is still-dishonest.

        • Clement Agonistes

          1. Pofarmer says contemporary accounts of ATG exist.
          2. Clements says they don’t.

          3. The undeniable fact is that those accounts do not exist.

          How is it that Clement is the dishonest one?

        • Pofarmer

          We KNOW, for as close as certain as we can get, that contemporary accounts of Alexander the Great Existed. It’s not a point of contention. It’s true they no longer exist, but they most certainly did. What you’re implying, is that they never existed at all, much like the non-existent accounts of your favorite mythical character.

        • Clement Agonistes

          No, I am not implying that. All I said is that they don’t exist NOW.

          So, let’s go back to ATG. He has historians along with hi to record his exploits. Over the course of a day they witness a battle. Now, that evening, they are going to write down what they witnessed. In that moment before they commit their account to paper. where does the account exist? In their minds, right.

          So, Jesus’ Apostles witness his actions and words. Where does their account exist? In their minds, right? How is that different than ATG? If we apply the same standard to ATG that we do to Jesus, then ATG did not exist; did not conquer vast swaths of territory.

          Yet, we know better. The Persian Empire disappears. Greeks rule Egypt and Persia. Towns named “Alexandria” appear all over the place. People speak of ATG. And, 500 years later, we get the written accounts that survive today.

        • Pofarmer

          This dishonesty again? C’mon. This is Just dumb. With Alexander the Great, or even Hannibal, or King Herod even, we have what you would expect of Ancient historical figures. Nobody questions them. With Jesus, we have exactly the same sort of information you have on Rhett Butler or Scarlett Ohara. No primary source information, AT ALL. What you have is a story about a character. That’s it. You don’t even have any direct attribution to any of Jesus so called disciples, except later Church tradition. Jesus looks just as historical as Romulus or Hercules or any of 1000 other God men who stories were told of in the time period. There is no evidence of any primary sources for Jesus PERIOD, and the funny thing is, the accounts that we do have basically say this. They are unattributed and unsourced. They are theological tracts, not historical accounts, and don’t read as though they were intended to convey historical information. And where were most of the converts? Most of the converts were AWAY from Palestine where they couldn’t confirm the events of the stories anyway. You know where most of the converts weren’t? Jerusalem and Palestine, where there should have been a great number of converts if any of the events related in the stories about this character were real. But we don’t see large number of Jewish converts. Why? Because the Jesus character appears to be !00% made up. There is no agreement on any historical content that’s genuine. There are myriad allusions to OT miracles and Homeric fictions. Jesus family simply dissapears from history. Everything about it points to Jesus being just as historical as Mythras, or Horus, or William Sacket. And, ya know what? None of the converts or Christians TODAY can confirm the accounts either. They just take them on faith, exactly as early converts did. So, if no evidence is needed today, why would they have needed evidence then, in a time much more riddled with miraculous thinking? Please stop this stupidity.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I still don’t understand how speaking the truth earns me a personal attack. There is no primary source in existence for ATG. Our earliest surviving accounts are secondary, and centuries later. It is debatable whether the Gospels are primary or not. They are from mere decades later. The consensus of experts is that historical Jesus existed.

          Even IF my view had less support, your fallacious tactic is unwarranted. It’s the kind of thing one gets from a sore loser.

        • Pofarmer

          What fallacy am I committing?

          Were there Primary sources for Alexander the Great and do we know who they were?

        • Clement Agonistes

          ad hominem.

          Yes. Yes.

          Jesus?

        • Pofarmer

          Saying you’re dishonest is not an ad hominem. This is a dishonest argument.

          So, we’re agreed. We know that there were contemporary, primary sources for Alexander the Great. We know who they were, and when they wrote. Excellent.

          Do we have the same sort of sources for Jesus?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Man, I guess I just don’t know what “dishonest” (and “stupidity”, FTM) or “ad hominem” mean.

          We have better sorts of sources for Jesus.

        • Pofarmer

          “We have better sorts of sources for Jesus.”

          Than what?

        • Clement Agonistes

          … than what we have now. More corroborating witnesses = more confidence (better).

        • Pofarmer

          You can make up whatever you like, I suppose. Where are these corroboration witnesses?

        • Clement Agonistes

          I screwed up and addressed a different issue. It should read, “better than for ATG.” The sources for Jesus are more likely to be primary (given zero chance of that with ATG) and are more proximate to the event (30 – 70 years, compared to 400 – 500 years).

        • Pofarmer

          Actually, no, again. At some point you’ll be right about something. Stopped clocks and all that.

          As I exposed in apologist Lee Strobel’s interview with Craig Blomberg in The Case for Christ, this mistake is usually made by apologists confusing the earliest extant sources
          (those that have survived medieval textual transmission) with the
          earliest sources that were written (and available to subsequent
          historians) in antiquity. Strobel and Blomberg, for example, implied
          through ambiguous wording that Plutarch and Arrian (writing 400 years
          after Alexander) were the earliest biographers of his life [1], when
          actually the biographer Callisthenes of Olynthus was
          an eyewitness contemporary to Alexander, who traveled with him during
          his campaigns. Callisthenes’ biography is still partially preserved in
          fragments, which are read, studied, and used for information today
          by modern historians in edited volumes, such as Felix Jacoby’s Fragments of the Greek Historians. There were also several other eyewitness historians who recorded Alexander’s deeds, such as Anaximenes of Lampsacus, Aristobulus of Cassandreia, Eumenes, and Nearchus, among others.

          The problem that you have here, is none of the Gospels even claim to be sources. The Authors aren’t listed, the sources aren’t listed, etc, etc. These are theological tracts. Even the one Gospel that Purports to try to be historical, misses all the crucial parts for being a good historian. What you have, and what you wish you have, are two different things entirely. I’m sorry for your brainwashing.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I have not challenged that there were earlier “biographers” of ATG. In fact, when you specifically asked me about that, I agreed with you. So, you should be aware that this is a straw man. Jesus had a dozen or so early biographers of his activities. too.

          What is at issue is early written “accounts”. The oldest, surviving written account of ATG’s life was Plutarch’s account. We seem to agree that it would have been written about 400 years after the events. By modern historical standards, Plutarch was a joke. Even at that, the oldest surviving copy of that work is probably hundreds of years more recent – maybe 1,000 years after the events. “Copies of copies of copies.”

          But, it gets better. There is no “by Plutarch” on that account. …. just like the Gospels. … which were written while people who had witnessed the event were still alive, not centuries later.

          And, we have many manuscripts, and even complete Gospels from within 300 years of the events.

        • Pofarmer

          The oldest, surviving written account of ATG’s life was Plutarch’s account.

          Incorrect.

          And, we have many manuscripts, and even complete Gospels from within 300 years of the events.

          So. Fucking. What?

          We have untold copies of Gone with the Wind, and Sherlock Holmes.

          Until you tell me how you determined that the Gospels are not fiction, when they have every hallmark of fiction, I’m pretty much not interested.

        • Clement Agonistes

          My error – Diodorus. 300 years post-ATG, and the oldest copy is from 1,000 years after it would have been written. “Copies of copies…”

          So, we have a more contemporary writing of the Gospels, and less time for editorial re-writes.

          All I have been asking is that you apply the same standard to Jesus’ historicity that you apply to other ancient figures. If we apply your standards for Jesus, huge swaths of ancient history disappear…. including ATG. Teh majority of experts agree that Jesus was not a fictional character as you assert.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Teh majority of experts agree that Jesus was not a fictional character as you assert.

          But they can’t defend their assertion. That’s the point. The majority of “experts” have been wrong many times in the past. Scholars admit that when it comes to Jesus studies the edifice is flawed. Methodological rigor is not being maintained. Scholars have produced a variety of Jesus types from the same data. They all can’t be right, but they could all be wrong.

          There is a flaw in the consensus when it comes NT studies and quite a few scholars are pointing this out. Here’s a few of them…

          http://vridar.org/2015/04/17/unrecognized-bias-in-new-testament-scholarship-over-christian-origins/

        • Clement Agonistes

          When the science agrees with you, you embrace it as proof that you are right. When the science disagrees with you, “They don’t know what they are talking about.”
          … and you link to a site about bias.

          The irony positively drips.

          Yes, of course they defend their assertions. Heck, even morons like us are capable of doing that. Why would you even say such a thing?

        • Pofarmer

          The Irony is yours alone. Something like 97% of those involved in NT studies or Jesus Studies are Christians. Something like 60% of those work in places that require a statement of Faith for them to work there. That is an immediate and severe built in bias. If you think that Jesus is divine, then, of course, you are going to think that he lived. The point is, for the last few Hundred years, there have been people thinking that Jesus was a character,a myth, but they’ve been shouted down. We now have renowned Bible scholars, a Catholic Priest, and an Anglican Bishop who think that Jesus was a myth. We have historians saying that this ought to be debated, but it ought to be debated among Atheists, which I actually think is also correct. Believers can’t objectively look at this, which you, yourself, have basically proven here. We employ, as nonbelievers, the exact same methods to ATG and Jesus, and we realize that the “evidence” for Jesus, is the exact same as the “evidence” for the Angel Moroni. Or are you a Mormon? We have excellent evidence for Sathya Sai Baba, but we still don’t believe the Supernatural crap. What you need to understand, is that the ones who are trying to employ the science evenly are, indeed, we, the atheists. And, you still haven’t said what, exactly, in the Jesus stories, seperates the evidence in them from the Evidence of, say, Hercules?

        • Clement Agonistes

          You are presenting excuses, not facts. Non-Christians also agree on this, including the source you cited for ATG.

        • adam
        • Ignorant Amos

          I doesn’t matter…it is what can be argued with evidence.

          The source also has no truck with the gospels being independent of each other.

          https://celsus.blog/2012/10/19/methodological-approaches-to-ancient-history/

        • Clement Agonistes

          From Wikipedia (“Historical Jesus”):
          “The vast majority of scholars who write on the subject agree that Jesus existed,[5][6][7][8] ”

          and (“Did Jesus Exist? (Ehrman)”):
          Ehrman sets out to demonstrate the historical evidence for Jesus’ existence, and he aims to state why all experts in the area agree that “whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist.”[1][2]
          Ehrman examines the historicity of Jesus and includes some criticism of Christ mythicists. As he does in other works such as Forged and Jesus, Interrupted, he disregards an apologetics-based or otherwise religiously-charged approach to aim at looking at the New Testament using historical-critical methodology. He argues that a specific historical Jesus is likely to have really existed in the 1st century AD. Even as accounts about that figure later on brought in additional misinformation and legendary stories, Ehrman states, multiple reasons still remain to see things as framed around a flesh-and-blood actual person, at least at first.[1]
          Arguments for existence[edit]
          Ehrman surveys the arguments “mythicists” have made against the existence of Jesus since the idea was first mooted at the end of the 18th century. To the objection that there are no contemporary Roman records of Jesus’ existence, Ehrman points out that such records exist for almost no one and there are mentions of Christ in several Roman works of history from only decades after the death of Jesus.[1][3] The author states that the authentic letters of the apostle Paul in the New Testament were likely written within a few years of Jesus’ death and that Paul likely personally knew James, the brother of Jesus.[2] Although the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life may be biased and unreliable in many respects, Ehrman writes, they and the sources behind them which scholars have discerned still contain some accurate historical information.[1][3] So many independent attestations of Jesus’ existence, Ehrman says, are actually “astounding for an ancient figure of any kind”.[2] Ehrman dismisses the idea that the story of Jesus is an invention based on pagan myths of dying-and-rising gods, maintaining that the early Christians were primarily influenced by Jewish ideas, not Greek or Roman ones,[1][2] and repeatedly insisting that the idea that there was never such a person as Jesus is not seriously considered by historians or experts in the field at all.[1]
          Many specific points by Ehrman concentrate on what may be regarded as the ’embarrassments’ and ‘failures’ of the various depictions of Jesus Christ found in the gospels and the works of Paul point to an account based on a real person that got embellished rather than a completely made up figure.

        • Ignorant Amos

          When the science agrees with you, you embrace it as proof that you are right. When the science disagrees with you,

          You spill plenty of ink, but you are sparse in support of your accusations. What science is it you refer to and provide examples of where you think I’m being inconsistent.

          If the so-called science is not science at all, you are on dodgy ground. A lot of NT scholarship is not science.

          “They don’t know what they are talking about.”

          Nice straw man.

          … and you link to a site about bias.

          Holy fuck…I linked to a cite where a number quotes by scholars have been collated that supported my contention that there exists a high degree of bias among NT scholars…wtf do you want? You might want to try it sometime.

          The irony positively drips.

          It might, if you can demonstrate it.

          Yes, of course they defend their assertions. Yes, of course they defend their assertions. Heck, even morons like us are capable of doing that. Why would you even say such a thing?

          Yes, sorry, anyone can defend their assertions, it’s about defending them convincingly that is the problem.

          The two most recent attempts have been cluster-fucks and demonstrably so.

          What I meant to say was that the “majority” is suspect because the “majority” is bias and scholars admit it.

          On Evaluating Arguments from Consensus

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/5553

        • Clement Agonistes

          The science is what the author of those articles you linked me to were discussing. Using the same methodology, both ATG and Jesus were real people. One does not have to accept that Alexander was fathered by Zeus nor Jesus by God in order to conclude that they really existed.

          I Appeal To Authority because they have done the work that neither of us can do. They have devoted their life’s work to this kind of thing. They have a level of knowledge that we will never have. Like you, I want to deny the conclusions that do not fit my bias. To compensate for that, I accept what the mainstream says even when it may not fit my wishful thinking. You indulge your bias.

        • Pofarmer

          Once again, no, just no. The quality of the evidence for each is entirely different. For Jesus we have zero Archaelogical evidence. No original writings. No tablets, not scrolls, no inscriptions, no mentions, nothing at all from any contemporary at the time of his supposed life. What we have is fictional stories written sometime in the late 1st or early 2nd century about Jesus. So, tell, me, how does the evidence for Jesus differ from the Evidence for Rhett Butler?

        • Clement Agonistes

          For the sake of discussion, I defer to the experts.

          … who disagree with your conclusion.

        • Pofarmer

          So, then it should be easy. How does the evidence for Jesus differ from the Evidence for Rhett Butler? Or you could try William Sacket. There were a whole series of Sacket books, too.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Historians say that the Rhett Butler of “Gone With The Wind” fame was not a real person.

          Rather than go through a list of every name in history to determine my opinion, I am deferring (as I said in my previous post) to the experts (historians).

          This game-playing has gotten really tiresome. You are not serious.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, I’m entirely serious. I’ve asked several fairly prominent Apologists. “How do you determine if a text isn’t fiction before you asses it as history?” Crickets, or Bluff, which is what you’re trying to do.

          The fact of the matter is, unless you can show otherwise, there isn’t a single thing that would rule out the stories of Paul or the Gospels as fiction. And we have precedence for this in copious amounts, unless you believe that Mithras or Dionysus or Hercules were real. And, as an aside, at least one of the early Church fathers did, indeed, believe that Hercules was a real historical figure. They didn’t sort into neat categories as we do today, and they weren’t as skeptical of supernatural claims.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It’s a peculiar question, even without the Freudian typo. You are making a distinction that I don’t see. Fiction is the opposite of non-fiction. History is non-fiction. Determining whether something is history or not is the inverse of determining if it is fiction.

          All of it falls under the umbrella of determining what truth is. Each of us has our own value system for granting weight to various aspects. No matter how rigorous each of us thinks they are, our emotions are going to take the lion’s share of that weight.

          The ideas behind the scientific method and the rules of logic are to take as much emotion out of the process as possible. But even those have limits. No one is a blank slate. We fill in the blank spots with “default” (emotional) answers. The end result is what we believe is the truth. Go back through the Top Ten Most Important Decisions of your life and see how big a role emotions played. If you think they were made dispassionately, then you have no self-awareness.

          Both of us have beliefs about God, and they aren’t dispassionate. As Bob points out, some people can change their minds, but they are few and far between. Look at how well-received (yes, sarcasm) my mentions of atheists-turned-Christians were. “They weren’t REAL believers.” Christians say the same thing about their analogs. Thinking, facts, logic – they’re all concepts that we give lip service to.

        • adam
        • Kodie

          You’re right, I don’t think Rhett Butler had a major effect on people like Luke Skywalker or Rocky Balboa did.

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          Then layout their arguments. How did they arrive at their conclusions. Bart Ehrman tried to do it but relied on imaginary sources to make his case. Much of it was to assume Jesus existed, then claim the reports confirm it. But if you don’t make the assumption, then the reports look like literature about a legend.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Greg, this is the problem – you are going to believe whatever you want to believe and find an excuse to reject whatever you don’t want to believe. This isn’t some sort of methodological search for the truth; it’s a search for confirmation of your bias.

          Paul existed because we have letters purported to have been written by Paul. But, we have other letters purported to have been written by Paul, but weren’t written by Paul. The letters are real because they were written by Paul. Paul is real because there are letters written by Paul.

          And, the characters mentioned in Paul’s letters are real because Paul mentioned them.

          … except Jesus. Jesus is a fictional character in Paul’s letters.

          Ehrman uses “imaginary sources” … like Paul.

          It’s so random, Greg. The mind boggles.

        • Greg G.

          I was on the fence when I read Ehrman’s book on the subject. I thought if anybody could present the case for a historical Jesus, it would be him. I don’t care whether Jesus existed or not. It’s not the poor evidence in favor of the historical Jesus, it is the evidence that he was made up that persuades me.

          Since then, I have waited to see a presentation of the evidence that actually favors the historical Jesus. Most just give the consensus. It’s like they aren’t even trying.

          I know all of the evidence related to Jesus. There isn’t a lot. Just show the arrangement that makes it obvious. You haven’t even tried.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Decades ago, I heard a discussion about knowledge. There was a debate about who the last man to have read every single book in publication was. Regardless of who that person was, suffice it to say that it wasn’t long after da Vinci. Today, a person would be lucky if they could just keep up with the writings in their own area of specialty.

          I do not intend to read every publication pertaining to this era. I will not become an expert. I will not be reading every internet conspiracy and rumor site out there.

          So, yeah, compared to that standard, I will not be trying. I am willing to defer to the experts, as I have said repeatedly. I take it at their word that Neptune is out there, even though I cannot see it. I take it at their word that the Yankees won or lost last Saturday, even though I was not at the game. And, I take the experts at their word that Jesus existed, even though I want them to say more.

          Your mileage may vary. I cannot tell you the names of my ancestors from 500 B.C., but I am content that they existed, even if there is no evidence i can present to convince you of as much.

          I’ve been through these kinds of discussions with 9/11 conspiracy buffs, and their knowledge is amazing. They know everything there is to know about 9/11.

          … except the truth.

        • Greg G.

          You have most likely read all the evidence for Jesus already. Surely the consensus has shown how they worked it out, haven’t they? Why would they hide.it?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your post is too cryptic for me. Your “hide.it” looks like a link, but it goes nowhere (hiding it?). The “they” would be “historians”. The “it” – the process by which each of them arrived at their conclusions?

          No, I don’t think I have read all the evidence for Jesus. When I read the discussions the experts have, they are relying on information that is seemingly far removed from Jesus. One common theme is how much exposure 1st century Jews had to older materials from far-flung cultures. Another is what they would do with such information if they had it. What a 1st century Levant Jew would do is different than a diaspora or 5th century B.C. Jew would do.

          Amos’ apocryphal 2nd century Gospels were described as coming out of an oral tradition. Could they have unique, accurate information? I have read some of the writings of early church fathers, but nowhere near all. They take for granted a lot that you question (nay, assert the opposite).

        • Greg G.

          The “hide.it” was a typo. I must have hit the period instead of the space bar and Disqus interpreted it as a link.

          No, I don’t think I have read all the evidence for Jesus. When I read the discussions the experts have, they are relying on information that is seemingly far removed from Jesus.

          The extrabiblical things some count as evidence are at best evidence of people believing the gospels who were too young to have known an early first century Jesus from a distant land. There are no first century artifacts. All evidence there is are the early epistles and the gospels. I think they are evidence that Jesus was made up. The literature of the day that still exist shows that the gospels came from that.

          One common theme is how much exposure 1st century Jews had to older materials from far-flung cultures. Another is what they would do with such information if they had it. What a 1st century Levant Jew would do is different than a diaspora or 5th century B.C. Jew would do.

          Paul and his use of Greek Philosophy

          If someone was literate enough to write in Greek, they would most likely have studied Homer. Mark wrote in Greek, used Latinisms and Aramaicisms, but he explained the Aramaicisms, so his intended qudience could read Greek and knew Latin, but not so much Aramaic.

          Amos’ apocryphal 2nd century Gospels were described as coming out of an oral tradition. Could they have unique, accurate information? I have read some of the writings of early church fathers, but nowhere near all. They take for granted a lot that you question (nay, assert the opposite).

          Mark 14:51 tells of a naked boy in Gethsemane. None of the other gospels repeat that story. You won’t find it in the epistles. Did it really happen and the other gospel authors were too embarrassed to write it? Or did gMark treat the Book of Amos as just literature? It sounds like he was thinking of Amos 2:16, “And he who is stout of heart among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day,”

        • Clement Agonistes

          I discussed the naked boy earlier. A popular explanation also relates to the “anonymity” of the Gospels. It is Mark. In Acts, we find the Apostles meeting at Mark’s mother’s house, so we know he lived in Jerusalem and is in their company very shortly after Jesus’ death. In gJohn, aJohn is never referred to by name. It’s not a huge leap to think that a much older Mark is mentioning this time he had a brush with greatness in all its embarrassing glory.

          I want to pause for a moment on the topic of nakedness (Yay!). You mentioned Peter fishing naked at the end of gJohn. In both cases, it is their outer layer of garments being removed. They still have their “underwear” on. But, the embarrassment remains.

          I was talking about our Amos, not the OT prophet.

          I think one of the massive leaps of logic you are making is to equate Jews and Greeks. That whole dust-up of whether Gentiles should be part of the Jesus Movement (which was Jewish early on) related to the disgust Jews had for Others. This is the reason the experts categorically reject the idea of borrowing from other religions.

          Yes, when Paul made his arguments to Greeks, he used Greek arguments. He makes note in more than one letter of the resistance he was getting from Greek Jews who did not approve of it. The detente he got with James leaves the Jewish Christians still adhering to Jewish thought.

          The “just made up” has too many flaws. It is a conclusion with too little evidence and too many people to call “BS”. He (Paul) has to make up the whole thing for it to work. A good lie only involves one person. I like the conspiracy theory that Paul made up Peter, James, and everybody else better.

          IMO, the “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” story is one of those orphaned oral stories floating around without a Gospel to call home. I can see where there might be other legitimate accounts.

          I don’t know how much weight to give some of these stories, but supposedly when the India church that Thomas had founded first saw a written Gospel, they agreed that it was the same as the oral version they’d know for some time. They would be the “Control Group” if it were an experiment.

        • Greg G.

          I discussed the naked boy earlier. A popular explanation also relates to the “anonymity” of the Gospels. It is Mark. In Acts, we find the Apostles meeting at Mark’s mother’s house, so we know he lived in Jerusalem and is in their company very shortly after Jesus’ death. In gJohn, aJohn is never referred to by name. It’s not a huge leap to think that a much older Mark is mentioning this time he had a brush with greatness in all its embarrassing glory.

          These coincidences between the gospels stories and OT stories are the rule, not exceptions, except for the coincidences with Greek literature or the epistles.

          I think one of the massive leaps of logic you are making is to equate Jews and Greeks. That whole dust-up of whether Gentiles should be part of the Jesus Movement (which was Jewish early on) related to the disgust Jews had for Others. This is the reason the experts categorically reject the idea of borrowing from other religions.

          I point out those dust-ups between Paul and the Jerusalem Circumcision Faction.

          The “just made up” has too many flaws. It is a conclusion with too little evidence and too many people to call “BS”. He (Paul) has to make up the whole thing for it to work. A good lie only involves one person. I like the conspiracy theory that Paul made up Peter, James, and everybody else better.

          I don’t think Paul made it up from scratch. The Jews had their David and Solomon stories. But when the Exile happened, they had to hope they could one day get back to their kingdom. They imagined a Messiah would rise up. That never happened. Meanwhile, some began to read the Suffering Servant and other prophet stories as being about someone who actually suffered, died, and was now performing as an intercessory for their sins in heaven, which implies a resurrection. But there was still the hope of the Messiah, so the two ideas became melded, so the Messiah would come as a heavenly being and the dead would rise as the new kingdom began, the Kingdom of Heaven.

          Perhaps, it was Cephas who first started preaching this, followed by the Twelve, whatever they were, which gained 500 followers. James joined in and then Paul. Paul insists that the dying, burial, and rising was “according to the scriptures”, Isaiah 53 and Hosea 6, for example.

          But James and his followers were Jews who thought they should stick to the OT laws. Paul came up with “just believe” so that he could get Gentiles to accept it. Paul also inferred that this Suffering Servant died by crucifixion, though it seems other Christians didn’t buy that, particularly Cephas and James as he spends the better part of the first two chapters discrediting them and nobody else before start chapter 3 with astonishment that they believed somebody besides himself about the crucifixion.

          Galatians 5:14 is like a synopsis of Rabbi Hillel’s remark about the Torah: “Don’t do what your neighbor hates. All the rest is commentary.” James 2:8-10 says that is a good start but finishes with, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” Galatians talks about Abraham’s faith, James counters that with Abraham’s deeds. Galatians then brings up the faith of Abraham’s wife, and James brings up a different woman and her deeds. The rest of James seems to be a rebuttal to the topics Paul brings up in Galatians in order, but then James doubles back to hit a few more points in the order the are in Galatians.

          1 Corinthians 9 seems to be about the Jerusalem boys telling the Corinthians that they should not be financially supporting Paul so he is defending his income.

          IMO, the “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” story is one of those orphaned oral stories floating around without a Gospel to call home. I can see where there might be other legitimate accounts.

          It has been said that any story from Jesus worth repeating is worth making up and attributing it to Jesus.

          I don’t know how much weight to give some of these stories, but supposedly when the India church that Thomas had founded first saw a written Gospel, they agreed that it was the same as the oral version they’d know for some time. They would be the “Control Group” if it were an experiment.

          To be a control group, one would have to know when the story reached India and if it was originally based on a gospel. The Silk Road was opened a few centuries before then so the trade route allowed lots of people to make their way back and forth. The legend could have been added to over the course of centuries. It’s like Wisdom Speak/YoOhioGirl telling about the Flood narrative being nearly verbatim with older records when it was actually one line that was mistranslated as a guess using a Bible verse. Without that one line, it was as much like the Babylonian account as it was like the Hebrew account.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The beauty of the conspiracy theory with Paul making it all up is that it is so simple it actually could work. Your version is so complicated that any flaw brings the whole conspiracy down. Every assertion has something like a 10% chance of being true, and there are dozens of assertions. It’s winning the lottery if you are correct.

          Jews want Gentile converts. Well, James certainly doesn’t want them. Paul is the beginning and the end of that list, and there is no logical reason he would want such a thing. Maybe he just enjoys being beaten and imprisoned (and eventually executed).

          Come to think of it, James doesn’t exactly get much benefit out of this, either. As you go down the list, this is a terrible decision. A scam where they make out like bandits, now that works!

        • Greg G.

          The beauty of the conspiracy theory with Paul making it all up is that it is so simple it actually could work.

          I don’t have a conspiracy theory about Paul. I think he thought he had a real insight about his sincere beliefs, just like Cephas, James, and the others.

        • Kodie

          You are evidence that you had ancestors. The only reason you think you know Jesus existed as a historical figure was because you think he was magical and has magical powers. Other than that, even you don’t care if Jesus existed. If he wasn’t magical, he might as well not have.

          That’s how I feel, anyway. Who cares? I don’t have any issue if Jesus actually existed. You’re the one who has an issue if he didn’t.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t know their names. I don’t know the details of their lives. I don’t have written, contemporaneous accounts of their lives. i don’t have artifacts.

          Yet, even without those, I know they must have existed.

        • Kodie

          Because that’s how human reproduction has been demonstrated to work.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, if Jesus was a real, physical person, then he started a Church that went on to affect the world in a lot of ways. But, the evidence points to the one who started this church actually being Paul, who might also be a character in someone elses story, but probably not. If there was a Jesus, then he affected his followers. Thing is, just as we see with followers today, we don’t need a physical living Jesus to trigger belief and loyalty. What we need is the RISEN Jesus to do that. And there’s no evidence for that, you just believe it. So, even if there was a physical Jesus, that Jesus was inconsequential, but also unnecessary. It was the story of the Resurrected Jesus that took off and got converts, and there’s no doubt that didn’t happen. None at all. Just as it’s sure that Dionysus or Hercules or Thor didn’t do their exploits. It’s a combination of Jewish and Greco/Roman religion at a crossroads of time in the Mideast when spritual/mystical/woo thinking was greatly prevalent and history was often told in allegory and “great man” type tales. Hence the Odyssey and the Illiad, etc, etc. They didn’t tell history like we do, and they didn’t seperate fact from fantasy like we do, possibly becasue they couldn’t, or didn’t see it as important. So, basically what we see is iron age, superstitious ignorance passed up to the present day by credulous followers worshiping people who thought the sun hid behind a mountain at night.

        • Pofarmer

          You can buy a $39 telescope and see Neptune for yourself. You can check score sheets and double check the scores for the entirety of MLB. Experts don’t mind if you check their work. Jesus? Not so much.

          We know your ancestors existed because you exist.

          Which is an interesting comparison, actually, because we don’t have, and there really never were, any ancestors of Jesus. There was never any family or cousins involved in the Church. Joseph and Mary just dissapear from the story. Did James have no family as well? It’s almost like the whole thing was – fiction. Well, not almost, it’s exactly like that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jesus’s da was himself remember….the geneolgies are just more ballix.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, yeah, I’m saying IF there was this dude walking around………..

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye…never mind me, a was just being a tad facetious.

        • Greg G.

          Mary is mentioned in Mark 6:3 but Joseph is not mentioned at all in Mark. Joseph is mentioned in John 6:42 in a verse very similar to Mark 6:3 but Mary is never mentioned by name in John, even though the mother of Jesus is at the cross with two other women named Mary, and one of them is her sister.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Clearly, you have never tried seeing Neptune with an amateur telescope. We can see Saturn with the naked eye. Through a telescope, it is difficult even when you know exactly where to look. The telescope shakes. The rotation of the Earth gives you a limited window before it moves out of the field of vision. The great thing about Voyager was that the images we had through state of the art telescopes were of awful quality. Voyager gave us the first accurate images. Who knew Neptune had weather?

          I am taking NASA’s word for it that those images are real. I am trusting ESPN that their scores are accurate. I am taking historians word for it that Jesus was a real person. 99.9% of our information is based on the trust we have that other people are giving us the straight dope. At its core, we believe what we want to believe.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve found Saturn through an amateur telescope multiple times, it’s not particularly difficult with a star chart. I’ve been to amateur clubs who can find all the planets and really faint galaxies.

          The problem with your shit analogy is that we don’t have to take the experts word for it, we can VERIFY. For a couple thousand years we were told that all the things in the Gospels most certainly happened, because most everything was controlled by believers. The first Idea that Jesus might be a myth was published, I believe, in the 18th century, that’s a lot of inertia to overcome. We now know that most of the stories about Jesus in the Gospels are retellings of earlier OT tales sometimes combined with Homer. We now know that Moses with near certainty didn’t exist, or at least the Exodus story didn’t happen. What is that about the Straight dope? Believers haven’t given us the straight dope for thousands of years, why should they start now?

          At its core, we believe what we want to believe.

          To a certain extent. My goal, as Matt Dillahunty puts it, is to believe as many true things, and not believe as many false things as possible. I want to have justified belief. I don’t find that with the historicity of Jesus. Look at the Jesus Seminar. They determined that about 6-8% of what was written about Jesus might be historical, but they can’t even agree on the 6-8%. Robert M. Price has shown that the consensus is actually that NOTHING that is written about Jesus can be shown to be historical with any degree of certainty ACCORDING TO the experts in the field. There is no consensus. How can you have a consensus that someone is historical when there isn’t even a consensus on what about that person is the historical content? It’s complete rubbish. Trust is earned.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Neptune is the low-hanging fruit of astronomy, and I can’t just take you out in the backyard and show it to you. The shortcut we all use is just to assume some things to be true. If we applied the same standard to everything that you apply to Jesus, we would have to recapitulate the entirety of human knowledge, an impossible task. We don’t VERIFY everything. The things we like we just grant as being true. You assert as fact that Jesus is fictional, yet could not begin to prove such a thing. You just assume it, and that is good enough. It fits your beliefs.

          The idea that Jesus was a myth was thrown out on its butt about 50 years ago.

          The Jesus Seminar is legendary for it bias against Jesus. Their standard is that supernatural things are impossible. Therefore, every supernatural event cannot be historical. It’s circular reasoning, but a good standard for historians who need to be dispassionate about their topics. One cannot come to a conclusion about the supernatural using natural evidence. I’ve asked atheists if they would believe if they witnessed a supernatural event themselves, and the answer was no. They would be either delusional or missing the real explanation. Philosophically, the supernatural has no place in a naturalistic view.

          Uncertainty is still far removed from fictional.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Neptune is the low-hanging fruit of astronomy, and I can’t just take you out in the backyard and show it to you.

          Yeah, but if you and I were interested enough in seeing it, then we could make it a point to see it, wouldn’t we?

          The shortcut we all use is just to assume some things to be true.

          Bingo!

          If we applied the same standard to everything that you apply to Jesus, we would have to recapitulate the entirety of human knowledge, an impossible task. We don’t VERIFY everything.

          Balderdash.

          The things we like we just grant as being true.

          You do you mean, we are skeptic’s don’t forget.

          You assert as fact that Jesus is fictional, yet could not begin to prove such a thing.

          Nope…not fact…just a reasonable probability having looked at the best supported arguments on both sides. Have you reviewed the best arguments on both sides? I doubt it.

          You just assume it, and that is good enough.

          Nope…we’re skeptics, remember?

          It fits your beliefs.

          You keep getting this part arse backwards.

          The idea that Jesus was a myth was thrown out on its butt about 50 years ago.

          That’s what you think, but that’s because you assume stuff and appear to be very ignorant on the subject.

        • Clement Agonistes

          No, Amos, because I respect the science. You only respect it when it agrees with your bias. A blogger on the internet who agrees with you carries more weight for you than a host of scholars with expertise on the topic

        • Greg G.

          Not just any blogger. It is someone who actually looks at the evidence for Jesus and not just the consensus based on the consensus.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It is “a guy”.

          “A guy told me …”

          “… what I wanted to hear, and i find him very credible.”

          It’s human nature, Greg. We choose what we want to believe first, then go out looking for the “evidence”. We tell ourselves wonderful fictions about how dispassionate, analytical, and logical we are, but it is all emotions. That is why so few people ever change their minds.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “A guy told me …”

          Nope…not just a guy…this displays your ignorance.

          “… what I wanted to hear, and i find him very credible.”

          Nope….even Richard Carrier had to be dragged kicking and screaming to look at the issue. And it is a similar story with most of the others. An argument stands or falls on its own merits. Very few I’ve read make statements of certainty on the ahistoricist side…that’s the unscientific certainty we see on the other side.

          It’s human nature, Greg. We choose what we want to believe first, then go out looking for the “evidence”. We tell ourselves wonderful fictions about how dispassionate, analytical, and logical we are, but it is all emotions. That is why so few people ever change their minds.

          How’s that working out with your attitude to all religious and supernatural beliefs that are not Christian related? Fairies anyone?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Clement is a demonstration of that phenomena. He is part of the problem and can’t even see it. A consensus needs to be verifiable, not just words on a Wiki page.

          All and sundry claim this consensus, but no one can point to it. They can only point to somewhere that claims the consensus says, not who makes up this claimed consensus or how it was arrived at…except the one suspect attempt that has been well refuted afaicr.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Amos, because I respect the science.

          Get ta fuck outta here….you believe all sorts of non science shit….who are ya trying to kid here?

        • Clement Agonistes

          There is the science stuff.

          … and there is the non-science stuff.

          I respect the science stuff.

          Opinions – everybody’s got ’em.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I respect the science stuff.

          But only when it suits. Right?

          I thought you said you were a Christian? What is your position on the NT miracles and supernatural claims?

          Opinions – everybody’s got ’em.

          Correct. But be careful what you base those opinions on.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Does it suit me that the Gospels are written 30+ years later? No. Does it suit me that experts reject the supernatural stuff? No. It is respect for the science that obliges me to defer to it even though it goes against my personal opinion.

          Natural science can’t comment on supernatural (non-science) events. I respect the science where it applies. Where it doesn’t apply, I cannot reject it because there is nothing to reject – it says nothing.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, she respects this science. Them other guys not so much.

        • Greg G.

          The idea that Jesus was a myth was thrown out on its butt about 50 years ago.

          Larry Hurtado makes this claim. Neil Godfrey has shown that the book Hurtado cites clearly states that it did not address the arguments of the JMs not did it attempt to do so.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Bart Ehrman makes this claim, and states that probably 99% of experts in this area do too. He calls the 1% internet nuts.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bart Ehrman makes a whole host of claims that he can’t support on this issue. He even contradicts his own scholarship when it comes to JM.

          He has lied, misrepresented, miss attributed, fudged, poorly researched, made assumptions, straw manned, and been an all around arrogant douche on the subject. You don’t have to take my word for it, it has been demonstrated in detail in two books.

          Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists (2015)

          For a lay audience, and with help from historian Richard Carrier, religious studies scholar Raphael Lataster considers the best arguments for and against the existence of the so-called Historical Jesus; the Jesus of atheists. Parts 1 & 2 analyse the cases made by Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey, who assert that Jesus definitely existed. Their arguments are found to be riddled with errors, and dependent on unreliable, and even non-existing, sources. Parts 3 & 4 discuss the more sceptical work of Lataster and Carrier, who conclude that Christianity probably began not with a humble carpenter, but with ‘visions’ of a heavenly Messiah. This exciting collaboration makes it very clear why the Historical Jesus might not have existed after all, and, to those willing to adopt a commonsensical probabilistic approach, Jesus Did Not Exist.

          And…

          Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman s Did Jesus Exist?(2013)

          When New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman published DID JESUS EXIST? THE HISTORICAL ARGUMENT FOR JESUS OF NAZARETH, he not only attempted to prove the historical reality of a man called *Jesus of Nazareth*, he sharply criticized scholars who have sought to develop a new paradigm in the study of Christian origins scholars who have claimed that Jesus was a mythical, not historical, figure, and that the traditional, Jesus-centered paradigm for studying the origins of Christianity must be replaced by an actual science of Christian origins. In the present volume, some of those scholars respond to Ehrman s treatment of their research and findings, showing how he has either ignored, misunderstood or misrepresented their arguments. They present evidence that *Jesus of Nazareth* was no more historical than Osiris or Thor. Several contributors question not only the historicity of *Jesus of NAZARETH,* they present evidence that the site of present-day Nazareth was not inhabited at the time Jesus and his family should have been living there.

          Ehrman hasn’t entirely left his once deeply held faith; he knows Jesus existed. He has always known. He knew when he was a fundamentalist and experienced the Lord’s living presence. He knew when he was a liberal Christian and was touched by the very scriptures that began to look decidedly not the words of God. Now that the “problem of evil” has – more or less – deleted God from Ehrman’s belief system, Ehrman still knows that Jesus existed. His current Jesus does not amount to much but, hey, the guy is still evolving. And in the real world he wants to keep his job and go on selling books.

          http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/ehrman.html

        • Clement Agonistes

          This kind of thing always leaves me scratching my head. do you even realize what this cite reveals about your lack of self-awareness?

          You are quoting one atheist hammering another atheist (He’s still a damn Christian!) about a debate between atheists.

          … as if this would hold water with me.

          You’ve lived in this atheist echo chamber for so long that any hope of objectivity has been crushed. It doesn’t even occur to you that Ehrman might have a side to this also. Not only have your eliminated the Christian POV, you are also purging atheists who don’t adhere to the doctrines of your sect.

          And, to boot, the quote doesn’t even support your characterization of it. Light can’t penetrate this far down the rabbit hole.

          Carrier doesn’t have to be dragged into an argument, he relishes them. He had to “investigate” why Anthony Flew deconverted from atheism. What? Who “dragged” him into that. And, after announcing the results of his scientific inquiry, Flew had to call him out publicly as a liar.

          There was a huge internet give-and-take between Ehrman and Carrier. Ehrman was the calm adult, while Carrier was the adolescent, mistaking obscenities for historical fact.

          And, note above how many ad hominem attacks your source (“guy with a blog”) uses. Is that what passes for a factual presentation in your world? Crap like that shouldn’t even come into play in a serious discussion.

          But, it carries weight with you. That should have been a red flag that you have lost touch and are letting your emotions run wild.

        • Pofarmer

          If you would read Ehrman’s book. You might understand why that criticism has merit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are quoting one atheist hammering another atheist (He’s still a damn Christian!) about a debate between atheists.

          Did you even read the citation ffs? The point being made is that for some reason only unbeknownst to himself, his level of scholarship goes into the gutter when he talks JM. Folk are trying to figure out why this happens. s it because his wife is still a church going Christian and Ehrman regularly attends with her and his circle of Christian friends? Is it a matter of self preservation for his position at UNC? Is it the book cash cow he is heavily invested in that would take a bashing if he changed his view? Who knows?

          Ehrman is agnostic by the way.

          You’ve lived in this atheist echo chamber for so long that any hope of objectivity has been crushed.

          Spoiiiinnng!

          I’m not the one trying to close down the discussion.

          It doesn’t even occur to you that Ehrman might have a side to this also.

          Oh it certainly occurs all right. He definitely has a side, that’s the point.

          Not only have your eliminated the Christian POV, you are also purging atheists who don’t adhere to the doctrines of your sect.

          And then you digress to the moronic. The Christian POV eliminates itself. How ta fuck can a reasonable debate be had when there are such preconceptions about the subject being debated. Are you having reading comprehension issues with some of my citations? Let me help…

          Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists(2015)

          Carrier doesn’t have to be dragged into an argument, he relishes them. He had to “investigate” why Anthony Flew deconverted from atheism. What? Who “dragged” him into that. And, after announcing the results of his scientific inquiry, Flew had to call him out publicly as a liar.

          I’m sure you think this is somehow relevant, but anyway…

          Citation please?

          And in the meantime…

          https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/antony-flew-considers-godsort-of-369.html

          There was a huge internet give-and-take between Ehrman and Carrier. Ehrman was the calm adult, while Carrier was the adolescent, mistaking obscenities for historical fact.

          Yeah…I followed it at the time. It is still available. You are pissed if you think Ehrman was the calm adult. He kicked it all off with the infamous and erroneous HuffPo article.

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1794

          You must’ve been reading a different huge internet give and take.

          And, note above how many ad hominem attacks your source (“guy with a blog”) uses. Is that what passes for a factual presentation in your world? Crap like that shouldn’t even come into play in a serious discussion.

          Ad hominem is only fallacious if it is unjustified.Point out where Ken Humphrey’s is wrong in his review, that might be a better stance than trying to muddy the water.

          But, it carries weight with you. That should have been a red flag that you have lost touch and are letting your emotions run wild.

          Whatever. It is a review of a book that have read and concur with…have you read the book?

        • Greg G.

          You’ve lived in this atheist echo chamber for so long that any hope of objectivity has been crushed.

          Let he who does not live in a glass house cast the first stone. You live in an echo chamber. The NT scholars live in an echo chamber. They cite the consensus of opinion for people who were taught Jesus really existed as children but have never tried to put the pieces of evidence together to actually show that Jesus existed because they were told that the issue was put to bed fifty years ago.

          It doesn’t even occur to you that Ehrman might have a side to this also.

          Ehrman has a side that Jesus existed but he was not a divine being. I considered his opinion highly until he wrote a book to justify his opinion. It turns out his opinion relies on imaginary evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          Fr. Thomas Brodie is not an internet nut. Thomas L. Thompson is not an internet nut. Paul Hopper is not an internet nut. Robert M. Price is not an internet nut. Richard Carrier, despite the obvious ad hom, has the required credentials. He is not an internet nut. Raphael Lataster, is not an internet nut. He is published and has presented at Historical conferences.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, Ehrman does say that and his book to prove it only confirmed that there was no valid case for Jesus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Uncertainty is still far removed from fictional.

          That’s correct.

          The uncertain parts are different from the fictional parts.

          We are fairly certain about the fictional bits and uncertain about the rest. The rest being the minimal Jesus that are the bits that have the consensus, which doesn’t advance Christianity very much at all.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Can Neptune be seen through a telescope or not?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Not with a $39 one it can’t.

          And, spoiler alert, if you showed me a smudge and said it was Neptune, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I’d still have to take someone else’s word for it.

        • Greg G.

          I saw the rings of Saturn distinctly through a used telescope I bought for about $39 about 30 years ago.

          If you think its a smudge, wait a few minutes and check again. A smudge will be in the same spot but a non-earth object will have seemed to move due to the rotation of the Earth.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Not Saturn, Greg – Neptune. It is 3 times as far from the Sun as Saturn. It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that it was discovered. Brahe didn’t see it. Huygens didn’t see it. Newton didn’t see it.

          Our pre-Voyager images of it were a smudge. If someone told me what i was looking at was a galaxy or nebula, I would not know better. When I see the Voyager images, I just accept that the experts are truly showing pictures of Neptune and not faking it. We all have a methodology for deciding what we accept as truth and what we do not. I am forced to put myself in the hands of experts and accept the science. I don’t need to examine the electrical wires to trust that flipping the switch will turn on the lights.

        • Greg G.

          I definitely saw the rings of Saturn and did not mistake Neptune for it. I knew where to look for Saturn when I set up the telescope. It was definitely Saturn. It had a label. <8o)>

        • Ignorant Amos

          So, yeah, compared to that standard, I will not be trying. I am willing to defer to the experts, as I have said repeatedly. I take it at their word that Neptune is out there, even though I cannot see it. I take it at their word that the Yankees won or lost last Saturday, even though I was not at the game.

          More shite analogies. You can see Neptune if yer not a lazy bastard and have a notion to make the effort..You can see if the Yankees won or lost if ya were to get your finger out. Even I can do that here in Ireland with the click of a button via Kodi ffs.

          And, I take the experts at their word that Jesus existed, even though I want them to say more.

          Not all the experts though. Right?

          Are the experts ever wrong?

          I remember when the experts believed the Exodus was an historical event too.

          Your mileage may vary. I cannot tell you the names of my ancestors from 500 B.C., but I am content that they existed, even if there is no evidence i can present to convince you of as much.

          But we are expected to believe that Jesus lineage could be traced back 1000 years back in the first century? Behave yerself.

          I can guarantee my ancestors back to the LUCA and the evidence exists…names are immaterial and you are talking more bubbles.

          I’ve been through these kinds of discussions with 9/11 conspiracy buffs, and their knowledge is amazing. They know everything there is to know about 9/11.

          … except the truth.

          Then you should have no problem doing what the experts can’t….put the subject to bed once and for all…we are all waiting.

        • Pofarmer

          But we are expected to believe that Jesus lineage could be traced back 1000 years back in the first century? Behave yerself.

          We have all this lineage before, but after? Nuthin. That’s not weird, like, at all.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Not all experts are experts.”

          Yeah, there are some people who claim to be, but aren’t. They are usually the ones with the conspiracy websites and the theories that true experts roll their eyes at.

          We can go down a long list of scientific “truths” that turned out not to be. Therefore, you are right, and the experts are wrong. That’s the way it works, right? When they agree with you they are “experts”, but when they disagree, “experts make mistakes. As the saying goes, if you hear the sounds of hooves, you don’t assume zebras.

          Again, either we respect the science or we don’t. If we are throwing out all experts with the bathwater, then you just made the creationists day.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t just accept an experts word for it just because of a claim to expertise…unless I’m not interested, in which case I care not a jot. If I’m interested, I will look at the arguments and assess the evidence.

          Again, either we respect the science or we don’t. If we are throwing out all experts with the bathwater, then you just made the creationists day.

          So you accept the experts who propose the Farrer Hypothesis then? Of course not, that’s just silly pants nonsense isn’t it?

          Cry Creationism!

          http://mythicismfiles.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/cry-creationism.html

        • Clement Agonistes

          Is the Ferrier Hypothesis the consensus of experts? The consensus of experts is that Mark was the 1st Gospel written. I accept that. I don’t think they hold that belief because of the FH. If so, then yes, I accept it.

          I’ve never been clear on why Mark has to be first, but I’m OK with it.

        • Greg G.

          The Farrar Hypothesis is that Mark was first, Matthew copied Mark, and Luke copied from Mark and Matthew, dispensing with Q. The evidence for the FH are major agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark when they use Markan material and Editorial Fatigue where we see places where Matthew changed something in the Markan material but failed to maintain the change, where Luke also does that with the Markan material and cases where Luke does it with the Matthean material with no examples of it occurring in any other direction.

          Mark is generally held to be the first because of the quality of the Greek, the use of the historic present, the use of “kai” for “and”, the long descriptions of the stories with repetition, and passages that are easier to explain why they would have been omitted by authors using the material than why it would have been added to material that lacked it. That’s some of the reasons for putting Mark first.

          It shows that NT scholars are capable of using evidence which makes it curious why they cannot use evidence to lay out why Jesus had to have existed.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You are kind to provide the information. Amos provided a link to the Wikipedia article on the FH. I understand what it is and follow the rationale. As I said, I am OK with all of it. It just has that feel of something that could be reverse 10 years from now.

          As far as evidence goes, any evidence for any hypothesis is going to be thin. I looked into your hypothesis about the Pythagorean fish link, and Ehrman said the evidence is just too thin for him to accept it. Yet, it is evidence enough for you to make a conclusion.

          ,,, and you criticize others for stronger evidence.

          The issue isn’t evidence. It almost never is.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is the Ferrier Hypothesis the consensus of experts?

          I don’t think there is a consensus, but that isn’t the point, the point I was making it that experts can still be experts and differ.

          The consensus of experts is that Mark was the 1st Gospel written. I accept that.

          Indeed, that wasn’t always the consensus though, and there are still plenty of so-called experts that don’t hold to that consensus. This is the problem with this particular science, very little objectivity.

          I don’t think they hold that belief because of the FH. If so, then yes, I accept it.

          But you see, you don’t seem to know, which is fine. It doesn’t really matter on the grand scale of things as far as you are concerned. If it did, you could get into it and refine your knowledge.

          I’ve never been clear on why Mark has to be first, but I’m OK with it.

          You are happy enough to accept what you are being told as it matters not. Greg does know though. He has looked into it with some considerable amount of detail. The information is there for those interested enough.

          What we are trying to say is that the consensus in this debate is being accepted as a given. Most experts haven’t really looked at the arguments, they just accept the consensus and that is self perpetuating. If you read any of the scholars that have changed their minds and are now skeptic you will discover that to a man, they were part of the consensus prior to actually engaging in the research. Even some of those experts that were not completely convinced, have come out and declared that the argument is worth debating.

          You claim to follow the science. Science is provisional.

          When it comes to the science, miracles and the supernatural are non starters. Where do you stand with the experts, consensus and science when considering all the woo-woo? Does your attitude to the rationale start to breakdown at a certain point because of your Christianity? That’s a double standard too don’t ya know?

        • Clement Agonistes

          My choice is to go with the experts …. or the non-experts. I’ve gone through this with you, and all you offer is the conspiracy-talk of “so-called experts” and (paraphrasing) “if we don’t know with absolute certainty, then I am right”.

          If the science changes, then so will my argument here.

          I understand the limits of science. Historians and scientists are obliged to reject the supernatural and only consider the natural. It would be unfair of me to insist that they accept supernatural events.

          I discussed earlier Ehrman’s rationale for Mark being written in 70 or later. He cannot allow for a correct, supernatural prophesy of the destruction or the Temple. The historian has to assume that correct predictions of future events is a telling of past, known events. The presumption is the atheist position. You are already getting the benefit of the doubt.

          …. and that is not enough.

        • Pofarmer

          My choice is to go with the experts …. or the non-experts. I’ve gone
          through this with you, and all you offer is the conspiracy-talk of
          “so-called experts” and (paraphrasing)

          Uhm, No. If you bothered to actually look, you would know that there are experts with a great deal invested who think Jesus was a Myth. Fr. Thomas Brodie is one, who’s written about it at some length. Thomas L. Thompson is another, who championed the idea, now pretty much consensus, that the Exodus was a myth. Paul Hopper is another. Robert M. Price, who is a qualified NT scholar, is another. These are not “So called Experts.” They are experts in their own right, in the correct fields. And that’s without citing the experts that you would clearly find offensive.

          You are already getting the benefit of the doubt.

          That what? Reality is what it is? That no supposed supernatural event has ever held up to any kind of scrutiny? C’mon. Notice how much less we rely on faith healing after the adoption of Penicillin?

          Ignorant Amos asked you a very good question earlier. Do you accept the supernatural accounts of Mohammed? Do you accept the supernatural accounts of Joseph Smith? My own. Do you accept the supernatural accounts of Sathya Sai Baba? If not, why not?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Michael Faraday was a “non-expert” too.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m not talking about the OT. I’m not asserting “unanimous”. I hope these clarifications help.

        • Pofarmer

          This might come as a shock, but the New Testament was written based on the Old Testament.

        • Clement Agonistes

          That is a true statement … which is irrelevant to our discussion of consensus of NT experts. So, you’ve now scored 2 red herrings and one strawman in your last 2 posts.

        • Pofarmer

          Well what I assumed you were saying is that an Old Testament expert like Thomas L Thompson isn’t qualified to comment on the New Testament.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m glad that we cleared that up then. I didn’t follow how his OT comments applied to the NT.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think the point being made is that the onetime held consensus on OT studies was overturned.and Thompson’s work was pivotal to that. And guess what, Thompson is also a Jesus ahistoricist.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_L._Thompson#New_Testament_writings

        • Greg G.

          Pofarmer is not talking about the OT either. Those listed have questioned the conclusion that Jesus was real and the methods used by those who think Jesus existed.

        • epeeist

          The presumption is the atheist position.

          No, the presumption, such as it is, is of methodological naturalism. Something that goes back to at least Adelard of Bath.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I view naturalism as a sect of atheism.

        • epeeist

          I view naturalism as a sect of atheism.

          Ah, so Humpty-Dumpty is alive and well.

        • Greg G.

          Methodological Naturalism is just the acknowledgement that we cannot investigate supernatural claims, so we study what can be studied. If supernatural claims were not so contrived to be untestable, this wouldn’t be necessary, as the claims could be testable. So, supernaturalists are very careful to not make testable claims and excuses for why the claims are untestable.

        • Ignorant Amos

          My choice is to go with the experts …. or the non-experts.

          So you are not consistent either then. On what basis would you go with a non-expert?

          I’ve gone through this with you, and all you offer is the conspiracy-talk of “so-called experts” …

          Why are they “so-called experts”?

          …and (paraphrasing) “if we don’t know with absolute certainty, then I am right”.

          That is a downright lie. It is the pro-historicity group that is making that claim. I claim that I don’t know and the arguments on the one side are more convincing than the other. You are handicapped with the bias of your faith, as are a huge raft of the “experts” and I have given you evidence that that is a major problem which is readily admitted by the academy itself. I carry no such baggage, my non-belief doesn’t rise or fall on an historical Jesus existing. The nonsense in the NT is still nonsense regardless. The subject has a purely interest factor for me, but you are struggling with this basic concept because you need it to be more than that.

          If the science changes, then so will my argument here.

          My arse, it will.

          I discussed earlier Ehrman’s rationale for Mark being written in 70 or later. He cannot allow for a correct, supernatural prophesy of the destruction or the Temple. The historian has to assume that correct predictions of future events is a telling of past, known events.

          And yet you didn’t accept the “science” in that assumption….a consensus position.

          The presumption is the atheist position.

          Nope…the presumption is the critical thinking skeptical scientific position. Which you didn’t accept.

          You are already getting the benefit of the doubt.

          Not me…you are getting the benefit of the doubt…that’s how the PTQ works.

          A ‘must’ for the historian, the question of dating is not always easy to resolve with confidence. Some documents are, of course dated, though in the case of chronicles, for example, may be much more recent that the events they describe. Historically a variety of dating conventions may be found. A useful guide here is C.R.Cheney’s Handbook of Dates. Where documents are undated, then there may be a variety of clues that allow an approximate date to be determined. These clues include names and events mentioned (and not mentioned), the form of the document, the style of the handwriting, and the language / phraseology used. Sometimes it is possible to say that a text must have been written after a certain date (terminus post quem) or before another date (terminus ante quem). Often it is possible only to say that the date is approxiamtely or around such and such a date (circa written as c.)

          …. and that is not enough.

          It is pretty simple, you state why you think Jesus existed and I, or someone else here, will give you reasons to counter that thinking. Referring to consensus just means that you don’t know the arguments and can be ignored.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t think you understood my first comment. My choice is to”
          a. Go with the experts or
          b. Go with the non-experts.

          Given those choices, I’m going with the experts. You asked about circumstances when I would go with the non-experts: When there is a highly divided opinion among the experts or no opinion at all. In those circumstances, I would go with my hunch.

          Speaking of which:

          “If the science changes, then so will my argument here.”

          “My arse, it will.”

          So, what is your evidence for that? You have been criticizing me for blindly going with the consensus, calling me lazy for doing so. That is the only evidence you have available. Yet, you are willing to risk going assless … based on an emotional hunch. The science could change in my favor. Sure, if that happened, you’d have nothing to sit on?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Given those choices, I’m going with the experts.

          What determines the expert from the non-expert?

          You asked about circumstances when I would go with the non-experts: When there is a highly divided opinion among the experts or no opinion at all. In those circumstances, I would go with my hunch.

          So there is a scenario where you will go with a non-expert and it is all about your hunch…thank you.

          So, what is your evidence for that?

          A fortnight ago you came here to rant about a pedantic inaccuracy you perceived in the infographic. You then argued for the earliest date for Marks gospel which you admit flies in the face of the science given the reason that historians place the PTQ after the fall of the Temple because they don’t do the supernatural. Of course you don’t see that prediction as anything supernatural, but the expert Bart Ehrman does, so who should we go with?

          You have been criticizing me for blindly going with the consensus,…

          Not one bit of it. I’ve been trying to point out that while a genuine consensus of experts is a very useful tool, it has it’s pitfalls. Others here have tried to explain the same thing. I’ve furnished you with reasons why the consensus on the issue is flawed. That you prefer to disregard the issues is your prerogative, but don’t pretend they don’t exist.

          … calling me lazy for doing so.

          It’s only lazy if you are happy enough with what is being put forward while arguing with folk who’ve bothered to look at both sides of the argument.

          To use your Neptune analogy, If someone pointed to a light in the sky and claimed it was Neptune, you might just accept it as of no consequence. But if something important was reliant on your acceptance, you might want some stronger verification than someones word for it…or even many peoples word for it, especially if the many people were getting there directions from the first guy.

          That is the only evidence you have available.

          You punt to a flawed consensus. I’ve been reading books on both sides of the argument for the past 7 years or so. Books with supporting bibliography. Books written by not just guys on the internet. Books by scholars. But let’s take a look at an example of a guy on the internet.

          Ehrman castigates Rene Salm as a guy on the internet with no credentials and a nut job. Rene Salm is an amateur for sure, but an amateur that gets his work rubber stamped by experts. An amateur whose research has resulted in the relevant field having to revise previously held scholarship. An amateur that Ehrman lied about. An amateur whose research has shown those interested to look that the experts with religious bias have fucked about with the evidence. Give me an honest enthusiastic amateur over a dishonest and biased expert any day of the week.

          Yet, you are willing to risk going assless … based on an emotional hunch.

          Nope.

          The science could change in my favor.

          You aren’t getting this at all are you? The science in the field isn’t changing per se. It is a different take on the same data. One that doesn’t start from any presupposition. One that answers ALL the questions more pragmatically.

          Sure, if that happened, you’d have nothing to sit on?

          I’m not making certainty claims, so I’ll be okay. Besides, my position isn’t reliant on the hypothesis being correct. It’s just a hobby…it’s all good.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Expertise would require extraordinary knowledge in the area at question. For instance, even an expert in ancient Rome might not be an expert in the ancient Levant. But, that person could tell us a lot about the Roman side of interaction with the Levant.

          The earliest dates for the Gospels would be in the 40s. I reject that here BECAUSE it is not supported by a consensus of the experts. What I did support was using the early range of what experts agree on (66 A.D.) as the early range for the writing of the first Gospel.

          As to the science, when the King James Version of the Bible was written, they only had maybe a dozen old sources, the oldest of which went back to about 1000 A.D. Today, we have something like 5,000 sources which are older than what the KJV had. A LOT of discoveries have been made. The data has changed, and it has had an enormous impact on the conclusions of the experts. If some new manuscript or commentary is found, it could change the conclusion of the experts. If their conclusion changes, i will go with that, just as i have been doing here.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Expertise would require extraordinary knowledge in the area at question.

          Correct.

          Experts have a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field. In specific fields, the definition of expert is well established by consensus and therefore it is not always necessary for individuals to have a professional or academic qualification for them to be accepted as an expert.

          The term is widely used informally, with people being described as ‘experts’ in order to bolster the relative value of their opinion, when no objective criteria for their expertise is available.

          The problem arises in the area of Jesus Studies.

          The term crank is likewise used to disparage opinions. Academic elitism arises when experts become convinced that only their opinion is useful, sometimes on matters beyond their personal expertise.

          Now how many of the the “experts” who make up the consensus are not religiously biased and have studied the material? Bart Ehrman didn’t even know the material existed, let alone studied it, yet feels qualified to comment anyway.

          For instance, even an expert in ancient Rome might not be an expert in the ancient Levant. But, that person could tell us a lot about the Roman side of interaction with the Levant.

          That’s right. Ehrman is an expert on the NT and early Christianity. Carrier has a doctorate in Ancient History. Both can claim expertise on different aspects of the subject. But only Carrier has done the intense research on both sides of the debate…so whose the expert?

          The earliest dates for the Gospels would be in the 40s. I reject that here BECAUSE it is not supported by a consensus of the experts.

          Which experts though? Using what dating methods?

          What I did support was using the early range of what experts agree on (66 A.D.) as the early range for the writing of the first Gospel.

          Which experts? Based on what criteria? Ehrman claims that most scholars agree with him on a 70 CE dating of Mark.

          I suggest that the reason is that the assumption of historicity underlying the gospel narrative, and its related model of ‘oral tradition’, demand as early a date as possible for the written gospels. In other words, the absolute date range is ideologically or hypothetically grounded.

          http://vridar.org/2009/05/07/how-the-gospels-are-most-commonly-dated-and-why/

          Ya see, there is a lot of punting to consensus, but when it’s drilled down into, the consensus tends to evaporate.

          The data has changed, and it has had an enormous impact on the conclusions of the experts. If some new manuscript or commentary is found, it could change the conclusion of the experts. If their conclusion changes, i will go with that, just as i have been doing here.

          You are missing the point. It doesn’t need to be an addition of more data to change a conclusion. A change of methodology and a different appraisal of ALL the data we currently know about in existence might well be enough if we can get the scholars to look at it. As has been the case with those that have already changed their minds on the subject.

          And this reminds me of one other common charge against Doherty that has come from mainstream biblical scholars. Some think that he does not engage with modern critical scholarship. His work is, on the contrary, thoroughly woven with responses and appeals to modern critical scholarship. Most instructive in this respect was Doherty’s introduction to an online discussion group for biblical scholars a few years back. The topic of Doherty had come up, and the mainstream academics were nearly unanimous in poo-poohing Doherty’s ideas — despite it being quickly clear that none of them seemed to have any first hand acquaintance with his works. Doherty himself joined the group to argue his case, and one can see the result from the moment of his introductory email on the Crosstalk list. Doherty has invited scholars such as Jon Dominic Crossan to address his views and critiques of their works. The claim that Doherty is not prepared, or is unable, to defend his argument before the scrutiny of mainstream scholars is simply false.

          http://vridar.org/2010/05/27/how-and-why-scholars-fail-to-rebut-earl-doherty/#more-7212

        • Pofarmer

          The earliest dates for the Gospels would be in the 40s. I reject that here

          Please do note that Clement Agnostisies is being a complete and utter hypocrit.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I see several points here:

          1. Experts may be “so-called experts”. By innuendo, you are casting doubt on those who are recognized as the most knowledgeable people on the face of the planet in the area being discussed. But, the do not agree with you. Therefore, you muddy the waters.

          This is a logically fallacious argument.

          2. “Ehrman does not know the material existed and did not study it.” What material? How do you know this? is the material relevant?

          3. Ehrman is merely an expert. But, Carrier has a PhD, and by innuendo, Ehrman does not. Logically fallacious, and factual wrong. Carrier has a PhD in “Ancient History”, whereas Ehrman … does not? Ancient … Chinese History? Egyptian? New Testament? …. or “Roman”? Cha-ching! “Roman”. It has relevance, but tangentially so.

          But Carrier has done “intense research”, whereas Ehrman ….?

          4. Ahh, but “which experts” say 66 A.D. is the early range” The ones cited in the Wikipedia article that YOU provided.

          5. “Doherty … blah, blah, blah.” Yes, he is out of the scholastic mainstream. and if you value a PhD in the subject matter, he does not have one.

          All of this is a wonderful exercise in Confirmational Bias. You and your sources spin the facts, and then take that slant for another spin after that until they produce the desired bias.

          Wake me up when the mainstream scholastic consensus no longer says your sources are fools.

        • Ignorant Amos

          1. Experts may be “so-called experts”. By innuendo, you are casting doubt on those who are recognized as the most knowledgeable people on the face of the planet in the area being discussed. But, the do not agree with you. Therefore, you muddy the waters.

          This is a logically fallacious argument.

          By your own admission, an expert has to have extraordinary knowledge on the specific subject under discussion. How many of the consensus you punt to have an extraordinary knowledge of BOTH sides of the subject in question? By their own admission, very few have. Very few have even bothered to read the best arguments on the JM side. Of those that have, quite a number have come out and said the debate is worth having. there are knowledgeable people on both sides of this debate and quite a few of them haven’t a fucking clue about what is being argued and that can be demonstrated. Regardless of who agrees with me, if an expert is not an expert on the subject matter, but claims to be an expert on the subject matter, they are making an argument from authority…that’s fallacious. Counting said authority in a consensus is also fallacious. It isn’t me who is muddying the waters in the debate.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Consensus” allows for some who will disagree with the position. They are few, far between, and can be listed by name. I am not arguing that the consensus is unanimous.

          I will also allow that people without higher degrees (Doherty, for example) can become experts. His lack of a higher degree might be because his thesis cannot stand up to scientific scrutiny. Carrier is the kind of advocate that you accuse Christian experts of being. He has an agenda, and a conflict of interest in his position. His area of expertise is in Roman history, not that of the Levant.

          The argument you make has assumptions with questionable bases. I’ve read the voluminous exchanges between Ehrman and Carrier, and the best points Carrier raises are in his area of expertise (Rome), and are nit-picking, not of substance.

          These arguments are the same kind of thing one sees with urban myths and conspiracy theories.

        • Greg G.

          “Consensus” allows for some who will disagree with the position. They are few, far between, and can be listed by name. I am not arguing that the consensus is unanimous.

          What matters is the basis of the consensus. Most of the scholars in the consensus did not come to the consensus for scholarly reasons. They were brainwashed as children, which ultimately led to them becoming scholars in the field. Their training never considers whether Jesus actually existed. Since there is a consensus, they never question it. So the consensus is based on the consensus of people who have never seriously considered the question.

          I will also allow that people without higher degrees (Doherty, for example) can become experts. His lack of a higher degree might be because his thesis cannot stand up to scientific scrutiny.

          Why hasn’t any scholar refuted his points if they cannot stand to scrutiny?

          Doherty has a bachelor’s degree in Ancient History and Classical Languages but he says he had to drop out of his masters program for health reasons.

          Carrier is the kind of advocate that you accuse Christian experts of being. He has an agenda, and a conflict of interest in his position. His area of expertise is in Roman history, not that of the Levant.

          Carrier thought Jesus mythicism was ridiculous until he looked at the arguments. So did I until I started looking at some of the arguments, then started studying the Bible more closely until I was on the fence. I was having problems finding an actual argument in favor of Jesus’ existence based on the facts.

          I expect it would be hard to find any Jesus mythicist who had not originally accepted the consensus view. As an atheist, it doesn’t matter whether Jesus was an actual human, it is only an academic question whether he existed.

          These arguments are the same kind of thing one sees with urban myths and conspiracy theories.

          Sure, but the Jesus historicists hold the urban myth and they assume the Jesus mythicists have nothing but a conspiracy theory.

        • Pofarmer

          He has an agenda, and a conflict of interest in his position.

          If Carrier has a conflict of interest then EVERY “scholar” who is also a professing Christian has a worse one. That’s gonna knock out about 97% of your consensus right there.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, if you can conceive of Christian bias, can you conceive of atheist bias? Let’s look at where Jewish, Moslem, and Hindu scholars of that era stand. I chose Ehrman because he is not Christian, and theoretically (but not in reality) removed you guys’ objection of Christian bias.

        • Pofarmer

          What era?

        • Clement Agonistes

          100 B.C. – 100 A.D., in the Levant.

        • Pofarmer

          There were no Muslims between 100 BC and 100 AD. To my knowledge there’s no Jewish mention of Jesus until about 600 AD. So I don’t know what you’re trying to get at.

        • Clement Agonistes

          TODAY’s Muslim and Jewish scholars don’t have a Christian bias.

        • Greg G.

          Muslim scholars have an Islamic bias, which says Jesus was a prophet.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I thought about that after I posted that. While they certainly wouldn’t be guilty of “Christian Bias”, they might have a bias toward the existence of Jesus. So, I retract “Muslims” from my list. I don’t know if there are other non-Christian religions represented (other than Jews and Hindus). I brought up Ehrman as an example of a non-Christian who holds that Jesus existed.

        • adam

          ” I brought up Ehrman as an example of a non-Christian who holds that Jesus existed.”

          AS non-divine, OF COURSE.

          But of course, Jesus was a VERY popular name back then.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jewish scholars have an investment in the story too, but for different reasons. Many want to claim a Jewish legacy behind Jesus.

          “A number of Jews think that a lot of Christian ideas are nonsense,” explains Levine. “‘How could somebody believe in a virginal conception? How could somebody come back from the dead?’ They think it’s a form of paganism, but when I point out that these Christian claims find root in a Second Temple Jewish context, they’re surprised.”

          http://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/1870/jesus-and-the-jews

          I’m not quite sure how that supports an historical Jesus. I guess it doesn’t really matter at the end of the Jewish day.

        • Pofarmer

          Why would there be an atheist bias on whether or not Jesus was a historical person?

        • Clement Agonistes

          That kind of sounds as if you don’t think it is a real thing; as if observing its existence isn’t enough to convince you it really exists.

          What a great analogy to the overall conversation. Atheists want concrete proof of the existence of something, yet when they experience it on a daily basis, they still cannot be convinced something exists.

          So, first, the observation: Take a photo of the atheist main page on Patheos, and how many blogs are devoted to Christian topics? Do you see, maybe, a 2:1 ration of Christian:Muslim topics (the ratio of respective believers)? do you see 100% discussing aspects of atheism as a philosophy of living one’s life and dealing with reality?

          We see almost all blogs expressing hostility to Christian belief. So, we all recognize this is reality, right? I mean, regardless of the explanation, it does exist.

          So, your question specifically asked why an atheist scholar would be biased against the existence of Jesus as a historical person. I am forced to speculate here, because answering such a question would require me to be a mind-reader. I think it is because Historical Jesus is a foot-in-the-door to Divine Jesus, and that is a thought which undercuts their entire view of reality. Just as being a Christian marries one to the idea of a DJ (for most sects), being an atheist marries one to Fictional Jesus.

          What is The Hardest Thing for a person to do? Admit a mistake. You think this is why Christians stick so rigidly to their beliefs. We think the same for you. For a person of Richard Carrier’s arrogance, admitting a mistake of philosophy is that much tougher to admit. Throw in that his view sells books and personal appearances, and it becomes even more necessary to compromise his professionalism.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So, first, the observation: Take a photo of the atheist main page on Patheos, and how many blogs are devoted to Christian topics? Do you see, maybe, a 2:1 ration of Christian:Muslim topics (the ratio of respective believers)? do you see 100% discussing aspects of atheism as a philosophy of living one’s life and dealing with reality?

          Probably even greater than 2:1 to be honest. There’s good reason too. Take Cross Examined for example. It is a blog populated by mostly ex-Christians. The Christian god is the one we are all versed on since childhood. Christianity is the one that has the biggest effect on us all. What is an atheist philosophy?

          But just so you know what ex-Muslim bloggers blog about…

          http://exmuslimblogger.blogspot.co.uk/

          So, your question specifically asked why an atheist scholar would be biased against the existence of Jesus as a historical person. I am forced to speculate here, because answering such a question would require me to be a mind-reader. I think it is because Historical Jesus is a foot-in-the-door to Divine Jesus, and that is a thought which undercuts their entire view of reality. Just as being a Christian marries one to the idea of a DJ (for most sects), being an atheist marries one to Fictional Jesus.

          You are losing the plot Clement.

          Atheists are an equal opportunities god denier. Just because your experience is with mostly ex-Christian atheists you have it in your noodle that he is special. That Caesar was an historical person add’s no more weight to his god claims than those claims of the followers of Jesus. If we found a first century gospel signed by Jesus and countersigned by 12 mates and notarised by Pilate himself, it wouldn’t mean squat about a divine miracle working Jesus. That boat sailed along time ago. That you have this mindset is telling though.

          What is The Hardest Thing for a person to do? Admit a mistake. You think this is why Christians stick so rigidly to their beliefs. We think the same for you.

          Helloooo! Mork calling Orson, come in Orson?

          Most of us were Christians…some even fundies. We know the texts and the arguments, better than most practicing Christians as it transpires.

          For a person of Richard Carrier’s arrogance, admitting a mistake of philosophy is that much tougher to admit.

          If you even had the foggiest idea about what it is you are talking about you’d understand how pathetic you are being.

          Throw in that his view sells books and personal appearances, and it becomes even more necessary to compromise his professionalism.

          Holy fuck…that’s exactly what Ehrman has done. How uncannyis that?

          And the rub there if true, is that the same logic would apply to everyone. So let’s just concentrated on the content of the arguments and no more of this nonsense, shall we?

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, you tell me: Why is there such a reluctance among atheists to admit that Jesus most likely was a real person? Like Caesar, admitting a person really lived is totally separate from claims of deity. I point out that the consensus of experts is that Jesus was a real person, and the hornets come pouring out. If he was just another dead guy, then big deal.

        • Greg G.

          Why is there such a reluctance among atheists to admit that Jesus most likely was a real person?

          I do not see any such reluctance. Most atheists, as far as I know are OK with the idea. IA, Pofarmer, and I have looked for the evidence and found it lacking. The extra-biblical evidence tells us what second century Christians believed, apparently based on the evidence we have. I think the gospels are based on literature that was not really about a first century Jesus. I think the epistles were based on an incorrect reading of the OT scriptures.

          If you can provide proof that the Jesus mentioned in the epistles actually existed, I would change my mind.

          I point out that the consensus of experts is that Jesus was a real person, and the hornets come pouring out. If he was just another dead guy, then big deal.

          Yes, we will point out that the consensus of New Testament scholars is that Jesus was a real person, too. We will also point out that the consensus does not appear to be based on the facts presented.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, we will point out that the consensus of New Testament scholars is that Jesus was a real person, too. We will also point out that the consensus does not appear to be based on the facts presented.

          How many ways can this be said ffs?

        • Aram Nurala

          Most people don’t deny Jesus existed. Heck, most people beyond the Richard Carrier fanboys don’t really care. The truth is, there were no doubt plenty of street preaching rabble-rousers around AD 33, of which no doubt some were named Yeshua (a common Jewish name), and no doubt some were executed for being proper annoying, stirring up rebellion and shit. Indeed, thanks to the Roman occupation of the time half of Judea fancied themselves the Messiah. So yeah, it could be that in a most basic sense of the concept, the NT character of Jesus is based on a real person or persons. However, the vast majority of the NT character of Jesus is clearly embellished and fantastical.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which is one definition of mythicism.

        • Aram Nurala

          Fair point.

        • Aram Nurala

          So, I’ve been thinking about this comment, and surely my approach above isn’t so much a ‘definition of mythicism’ as simply the default position. After all, anyone who doesn’t believe in magic being real must hold it, no?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course.

          Everyone not invested in the Christian yarn that is the NT is a JM of some stripe.

          Your synopsis above fits at least one definition of Jesus Myth Theory. Not necessarily the one Carrier or his fanboys espouse.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jesus_myth_theory#.22Jesus_Myth_Theories.22

          A number of characters in fiction are built on the skeleton of a, or a conglomeration, of actual people. Nevertheless, they are still fiction and never existed as portrayed in the texts.

          My two favourites at the moment are Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter.

          Anyway, don’t pay any attention to me, I was being a wee bit facetious in that glib comment.

        • Aram Nurala

          On my end, I submit the ‘fanboy’ comment was unwarranted, and thus remove it from discovery. Although I find Carrier to be an unlikable human being, this doesn’t mean his theories, ideas, and research aren’t genuinely compelling.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The “fanboy” pejorative doesn’t bother me. I’m a fan of his work, not the man.

          I realise he courts a lot of his own bad press, but in the same vein, some of it is just jumping on the bandwagon.

          It get’s right on my goat when imbeciles use that aspect of his character to try and refute his arguments. He could be the biggest arsehole in the world, and quite a few think he is, but that has bugger all to do with whether a point he makes is valid or not.

          There are plenty of others making the same points as Carrier, but the Christian interlocutor prefers to go after what they have been brainwashed to believe is the low hanging fruit of Carrier’s demeanour as a valid rebuttal to his claims. As witnessed here very recently.

        • adam

          “Why is there such a reluctance among atheists to admit that Jesus most likely was a real person? ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b8e21f4f245797969c0947a765da8794c812826b9b5e6d1a040a884b1ee550af.jpg

        • adam

          “Why is there such a reluctance among atheists to admit that Jesus most likely was a real person? ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0ded0c20f62b9d1996f93afe9c98e20dc6bf1035eaa16eb5acf23323c3cb09f.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          So, you tell me: Why is there such a reluctance among atheists to admit that Jesus most likely was a real person?

          But there isn’t a reluctance Clement. Most atheists give zero fucks about it one way or the other. Most atheists are like most Christians and haven’t bothered looking into the subject with any great depth. Some who have, have changed there opinion, some who have, are still happy for there to have been a guy that had a cult following, upset the authorities with some seditious rantings and got nailed up for it, his following continued after his demise, then was heavily mythologised later and worshiped as a god. It’s no great shakes either way. That’s what the only consensus that is being claimed that he lived, can agree on. Only Christian scholars believe all the other bells and whistles bullshit, but that’s not the scholarship in question here. They don’t count. That’s why when they bring such woo-woo to the table, they automatically disqualify themselves from the adults table.

          So what we have is what is understood as the minimal historical Jesus with no foot in the door for all the divine nonsense.

          Academic consensus

          The increasingly common view of Jesus among New Testament scholars as of 2007 is that “historical research can indeed disclose a core of historical facts about Jesus” but “the Jesus we find at this historical core is significantly different from the legendary view presented in the New Testament”. Some scholars maintain there were several possible “Jesus” candidates with no indication of which of them (if any) is “the” historical Jesus.

          Furthermore…

          It should be noted that at least one anthropology paper states in both its abstract and main text “there is not a shred of evidence that a historical character Jesus lived”.

          In June 2014, Richard Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt Sheffield Phoenix Press. ISBN 1-909697-49-2 became “the first comprehensive pro-Jesus myth book ever published by a respected academic press and under formal peer review”.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jesus_myth_theory#Academic_consensus

          “Most scholars think Jesus existed”

          As stated above, arguments regarding Jesus as a historical person tend to improperly mix reductive and triumphalist theories. So instead of debating the existence of an ordinary man one gets a lot of nonsense about miracles, earthquake, and darkness (any argument involving Thallos). That said the whole “most scholars think Jesus existed” is an argument from authority fallacy.

          Historians who are skeptical of the historicity of Jesus are often painted by theologians and apologists as fringe lunatics even when that skepticism is regarding how Jesus is depicted in the NT rather then him existing as a human being. However, these arguments rarely go beyond ad hominem attacks. with any points ignored. To be fair there is as much or even more nonsense on the Christ Myth side of things, but trying to say people like Robert M Price and Richard Carrier are in the same class as Acharya S. or Joseph Wheless is at best an insult.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jesus_myth_theory#.22Most_scholars_think_Jesus_existed.22

          “There is more evidence for Jesus than for X”

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jesus_myth_theory#.22There_is_more_evidence_for_Jesus_than_for_X.22

          There are a number of meanings as to what Christ Myth theory means and most non-Christian scholars sit somewhere along that spectrum. The issue is not a one size fits all, but opponents choose to take the most crank examples and tar everyone with the same brush. Something they wouldn’t tolerate if the counter was conducted.

          Like Caesar, admitting a person really lived is totally separate from claims of deity.

          Indeed. That would be Remsburg’s “Reductive Theory” vis a vis “Triumphalist Theory”.

          Something even most Christians can’t separate.

          I point out that the consensus of experts is that Jesus was a real person, and the hornets come pouring out.

          You do realise this is an online forum where argument between different claims is the norm and not just a back slapping arena, right. The “hornets” have come out to point out that there is more than one argument and quite possibly you are talking out of your arse. We owe it to the lurkers to counter your bullshit. At best, all you have made is an argumentum ad ignorantiam.

          It’s quite simple, if there is a slam dunk argument you think is overwhelming evidence for the historical guy, make it. I’m well up for being proven wrong. Wishful thinking doesn’t count.

          If he was just another dead guy, then big deal.

          Big deal indeed. Yet here you are arguing just another dead guy. Why is that Clement?

          And there you have it. You can’t even allow for him to be just another dead guy. That’s the reason why you are making it a big deal. It is no big deal to any of us here other than for truth value. You just don’t get it. Just another dead guy doesn’t get you to the resurrected dead guy. Kodie is right.

        • Clement Agonistes

          People are arguing the point with me. Is it just that knee-jerk “argue everything” attitude? If we all agree to it, why are we wasting time on it?

        • Pofarmer

          Did you just Tl:Dr IA’s post, because you don’t seem to have comprehended any of it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t know what TI is, but his first sentence was contradicted by the rest of his post. I thought my post was the best way to address it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How very unsurprising would that have been?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Wasting time on what?

          Let me lay my cards on the table.

          Bart Ehrman, and folk that agree with him, make the claim that an historical Jesus is a fact and he claims 99.99 percent of the real experts agree with him.

          I don’t think that is a justified claim on both counts.

          The is an argument being made that the figure of Jesus, as found in the Christian corpus, is not modeled on any single individual.

          A body of evidence has been arranged to support that thesis.

          As of yet, no individual thread of that body of evidence can be refuted.

          Indeed, the best arguments of the other sides position have failed to date.

          Now I’m not saying for sure that the argument for the thesis is fact, but it argues the data at least as convincingly for the thesis, as for the counter, and better. Furthermore, it answers the questions that an historical Jesus hypothesis can’t account for too.

          There are at least three of us here who are engaging you, that have read numerous well referenced books on both sides, sorry, well referenced on one side anyway.

          I am convinced by the arguments that the subject is not a slam dunk like non-Christians like Ehrman claims. His arguments on this to date have been pathetic and ripped apart by others more qualified and capable than I…and believe you me, his is the best of a bad bunch.

          Christians don’t count. Arseholes like McGrath argue a Resurrection, that rules them out.

          So, here I am, countering you with examples, like a couple of others, as best I can. But it’s very hard when your opponent only appears know part of the subject at hand.

          The arguments you are engaging in with us here are fallacious. Probably because you have decided to tie your colours to one particular mast.

          Because you seem to be unable of following links…

          The main problem with the book itself was the sheer number of errors, fallacies, and misleading statements that fill it. It is important to emphasize this: a handful of errors or fallacies would not condemn any book, as every book has a few, and a good book can more than compensate for that by being consistently useful, informative, and on-point in every other respect. But Ehrman’s book was so full of gaffes it is simply unsalvageable, and as I said, it resembles in this respect some of the worst Jesus myth literature, which I can’t recommend to people either, as it will misinform them far more than inform them. (Scholars can also correct their errors. If they are inclined to. Ehrman, so far, does not seem at all inclined to.)

          I could not list all the errors, fallacies, and misleading statements I marked up in my copy of his book. There were hundreds of them, averaging at least one a page. This shocked me, because all his previous works were not like this. They are superb, and I still recommend them, especially Jesus Interrupted and Forged. Their errors are few, and well drowned out by their consistent utility and overall accuracy in conveying the mainstream consensus on the issues they address (Interrupted is an excellent primer to get anyone up to speed on where the field of New Testament Studies now stands, and Forged is an excellent summary of why that mainstream consensus accepts that many of the documents in the New Testament are forgeries, and why that was known to be deceitful even back then, despite attempts to claim the contrary).

          But Did Jesus Exist? was a travesty. In my review I chose a representative selection of the worst mistakes, in order to illustrate the problem. Some readers took that as a complete list, and suggested those weren’t enough errors to condemn the book. Although they certainly are (not all of them, but many of them are damning and render the book useless at its one stated purpose), they are not a complete list, but just the tip of the iceberg, and that is the bigger problem. Those errors are examples of consistent trends throughout the book, of careless thinking, careless writing, and often careless research. Which means there are probably many more errors than I saw, because for much of the book I’m trusting him to tell me correctly what he found from careful research, but the rest of the book illustrates that I can’t trust him to correctly convey information or to have done careful research.

          And that was the gist of my review. So when, here, I check the state-of-play of the specific criticisms I made, keep in mind that these were only representative examples of hundreds of other errors in the book.

          I think I have an idea what happened, if reports are true that Ehrman has said he takes only two or three weeks to write a book: with the exception of Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (and a few related works), which summarizes many years of his own dedicated research (and thus is an excellent piece of scholarship, not aimed at laymen), all his books have been just summaries of “what he knows” from being a trained New Testament scholar (plus occasionally a small foray into specific independent research, as when he investigated the nature of forgery in the ancient world for Forged, which could have been completed in a couple of long days at a library). He is thus relying on field-established background knowledge. Which is fine when that’s what you are reporting on (as he usually does). But when you are going outside your field, you do need to do a bit more, and you do risk being wrong a bit more often (which is why it’s a good idea to field ideas in other venues before committing them to print: it gives you an opportunity to be corrected by experts first).

          I had said it was his “incompetence in classics (e.g. knowledge of ancient culture and literature) and ancient history (e.g. understanding the methodology of the field and the background facts of the period) that trips him up several times,” and that now makes sense: he is fully competent to make up for not being a classicist or specialist in ancient history, by getting up to speed in what he needed (which for this task might have taken a year or more), but instead he just relied on “what he knows,” which was all just what he was told or has read in New Testament studies. Which isn’t enough. Disaster resulted.

          Again, some of the details that concerns Carrier…

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1794

          That you think Carrier is just nit-picking is ridiculous.

          Raphael Lataster also takes Ehrman’s travesty apart in his book too, but I suppose you think he is just being unprofessional?…oh wait, ya’ve not read that book either.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Let’s review how we got here:

          1) Bob quotes atheist as saying that the earliest Gospel was written 50 years after Jesus’ death.

          2) I respond that the earliest date that the consensus of experts say Mark was written was 66 A.D. – as early as years after Jesus’ death.

          3) We have spent the next 2 weeks with you guy attacking the consensus. That is why this is a waste of time.

        • Pofarmer

          1) Bob quotes atheist as saying that the earliest Gospel was written 50 years after Jesus’ death.

          Which is the end of the normal range, 66-85CE

          2) I respond that the earliest date that the consensus of experts say
          Mark was written was 66 A.D. – as early as years after Jesus’ death.M

          Which is just the beginning of the accepted range, but is outside of what is normally considered as after the fall of the Temple in 70 CE

          3) We have spent the next 2 weeks with you guy attacking the consensus. That is why this is a waste of time.

          And? We’re within the consensus range of dates on one end, you’re within the consensus range of dates on the other end, but seem to actually want to put it, and have advanced arguments earlier than the consensus, if I remember correctly. What you’re trying to accomplish, I have no idea.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The earliest possible (consensus) date for a Gospel would be 66 A.D. IA put up a cite yesterday saying 65 A.D., I was duly chastised, and agreed to his figure.

          The latest figure from Bob’s source was 100 years after Jesus’s death – 133 A.D., which is also substantially out of the consensus of 110 A.D.

          So, if one wants to shoot for the most accurate range, it might look something like 32 – 80 years after Jesus’ death (He may have died in 30, moving the late figure).

          That might be comparable to expecting a WW II vet to remember some 1944 events he witnessed looking back between 1966 and now.

        • Ignorant Amos

          1) Bob quotes atheist as saying that the earliest Gospel was written 50 years after Jesus’ death.

          Nothing wrong with that. If there was a Jesus and he died in 30 CE, then a gospel writing of 80 CE is within the parameters of the date range for the synoptic gospels. No one knows when the gospels were written, so the date chosen by those atheists and agnostics of Wisconsin is as justified as the even more radical early dating of other more biased scholars.

          2) I respond that the earliest date that the consensus of experts say Mark was written was 66 A.D. – as early as years after Jesus’ death.

          And Bob said, so what? If it gives you a stiffy, have at it…he cares not a jot. Whether it was 50 years, or 36 years, or 1 year, the story still got garbled.

          3) We have spent the next 2 weeks with you guy attacking the consensus.

          Which consensus? Show us the list of who is on it and the methods they used, because they are all not using the same methods.

          We gave a lot of reasons why the consensus/majority cannot be trusted?

          As to the majority…as pointed out repeatedly….

          Although some scholars disagree, the vast majority of researchers believe that Mark was the first Gospel to be written, sometime around the year 70.

          http://www.bc.edu/schools/stm/crossroads/resources/birthofjesus/intro/the_dating_of_thegospels.html

          …but that is because of the reason for a PTQ that you don’t accept either…so you are sticking a finger up to the majority too

          That is why this is a waste of time.

          Which begs the question, doesn’t it?

          The debate moved well beyond the “consensus” dating of the first gospel. And you helped move it there.

        • Pofarmer

          In a similar vein to this Jesus hubub here, I thought this was interesting. I was reading a little bit about a local dude who said he got a miracle from Our lady of Guadalupe at her shrine in Mexico. So, of course, I went looking. Couldn’t find anything about that, but the history of the site and the legend is interesting.

          https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4201

          So the basic story is this.

          A legend well known in Mexico tells how it came to be. In 1531, the
          Spanish had been occupying Mexico for about ten years. An indigenous
          peasant, Juan Diego, was walking in what’s now Mexico City when he saw
          the glowing figure of a teenage girl on a hill called Tepeyac. She
          identified herself as the Virgin Mary, and asked him to build her a
          church on that spot. Diego recounted this to the Archbishop of Mexico,
          Juan de Zumárraga (1468-1548). Zumárraga was skeptical and told Diego to
          return and ask her to prove her identity with a miracle. Diego did
          return, and encountered the apparition again. She told him to climb to
          the top of the hill and pick some flowers to present to the Bishop.
          Although it was winter and no flowers should have been in bloom, Juan
          Diego found an abundance of flowers of a type he’d never seen before.
          The Virgin Mary bundled the flowers into Diego’s cloak, woven from
          common cactus fiber and called a tilma. When Juan Diego presented the
          tilma to Zumárraga, the flowers fell out and he recognized them as
          Castilian roses, not found in Mexico; but more significantly, the tilma
          had been miraculously imprinted with a colorful image of the Virgin
          herself. This actual tilma, preserved since that date and showing the
          familiar image of the Virgin Mary with her head bowed and hands together
          in prayer, is the Virgin of Guadalupe. It remains perhaps the most
          sacred object in all of Mexico.

          But then, of course, it gets interesting.

          The story is best known from a manuscript written in the Aztecs’ native
          language Nahuatl by the scholar Antonio Valeriano (1531-1605), the Nican Mopohua.
          By the European watermark on its paper, it’s known to have been written
          sometime after 1556. This was widely published in a larger collection
          in 1649 by the lawyer Luis Laso de la Vega. Zumárraga and Juan Diego
          were both dead
          by the time Valeriano wrote it, so where did he get his
          information?

          O.k. So maybe Valeriano was reciting an oral tradition or something?

          A red flag that a number of historians have put forth is that Bishop
          Zumárraga was a prolific writer. Yet, in not a single one of his known
          letters, is there any mention of Juan Diego, his miraculous apparition,
          the roses, or the cloak bearing the image, or any other element of the
          story in which Zumárraga was alleged to have played so prominent a role.

          So, it looks like Shortly after Zumarraga’s death, the story was simply, uhm, made up by a pious devotee.

          The name Juan Diego itself suggests that the story was a fictional
          invention. It basically translates as John Doe, a generic everyman,
          whose identity is unimportant. This doesn’t prove anything, since there
          certainly were real people named Juan Diego, but it is an intriguing
          element.

          Kinda like “Jesus” in Ancient Palestine. There would have been a ton of them walking around.

          And it certainly looks like the whole painting is kinda non-miraculous.

          The primary corroborating documentation of Marcos’ painting is a
          report from the Church in 1556, when this growing disagreement between
          the Franciscans and the Dominicans prompted an investigation into the
          origins of the tilma. Two of the Franciscans submitted sworn statements
          in which they expressed their concern that worshipping the tilma was
          leading the Aztecs to return to their traditional pagan ways. One
          described the image as “a painting that the Indian painter Marcos had
          done” while another said it was “painted yesteryear by an Indian”.
          Appearing on the side of the Dominicans, who favored allowing the Aztecs
          to worship the image, was Bishop Montúfar himself. As a result, the
          construction of a much larger church was authorized at Tepeyac, in which
          the tilma was mounted and displayed.

          Significantly, the 1556 report is the most extensive documentation
          concerning the Virgin tilma of its century, and it makes no mention
          whatsoever of Juan Diego, the miraculous appearance of the image, or any
          other element from the legend. If the miracle story did exist at that
          time, it seems inconceivable that it could have been omitted from this
          report. This strongly supports the suggestion that the Juan Diego legend
          had not yet been conceived. It also supports that Valeriano’s Nican Mopohua was written later.

          Now, why do I bring this up? Because we are constantly told that “legends about Jesus couldn’t have sprung up so close after his lifetime” and yet here we have clear evidence of the Church completely making up an event out of whole cloth while the bodies of the dead were nearly still warm. I think that the Gospel stories, like the Juan Diego story, was/were written to be hard to prove, because the author was writing total pious fiction to foster his religion. The marks wouldn’t know it, and the leadership wouldn’t popularize it, so the legend becomes “history” even though it’s 100% fabricated. There was a Bishop, but it looks very much like there never was a Juan Diego. Sound familiar?

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/r-andrew-chesnut/the-virgin-of-guadalupe-t_b_8752084.html

          3. Despite his recent canonization, there is no hard historical evidence
          that Saint Juan Diego ever really existed. In fact at the time of the
          controversial canonization process the abbot of the Basilica, Guillermo
          Schulenberg, resigned in 1996 claiming that Juan Diego had never existed
          and “is only a symbol.” The Nahua peasant was canonized, nonetheless,
          as part of a strategy to retain Indigenous Catholics who have been
          defecting in droves to Protestantism, especially Pentecostalism

          It’s hard to believe that either story took hold and have persisted, but they have and do.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Kinda like “Jesus” in Ancient Palestine. There would have been a ton of them walking around.

          The 6th most popular name at the time, apparently.

        • Greg G.

          Everybody not named Jesus would likely have a brother or a cousin by that name.

        • adam

          “Why is there such a reluctance among atheists to admit that Jesus most likely was a real person? ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0ded0c20f62b9d1996f93afe9c98e20dc6bf1035eaa16eb5acf23323c3cb09f.jpg

        • Pofarmer

          I WAS a Christian, idiot. That was the mistake.

          And allowing for an historical Jesus no more opens the door for the divine one than allowing for the existence of an historical Sayeth Sai Baba. Do you beleive in the miracles of Sayeth Sai Baba? You’ve got it exactly backwards.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I think it was Kodie who pointed out that if there was no person Jesus, then there is no moving on to the next step. It is the Rate Limiting Step. At that point, you have Judaism, and you guys are calling me names for being Jewish.

          If there was a person, Jesus, then the Christian can move on to discussing whether Jesus was divine or not. if you never come to bat, you can’t get a hit.

          Oh, and if I am the idiot, how come I understand what i am saying and you don’t? 🙂

        • Pofarmer

          “I think it was Kodie who pointed out that if there was no person Jesus, then there is no moving on to the next step”

          Once again, that’s not a problem for Atheists.

        • Kodie

          As I already told you, atheists don’t have a problem with a person existing or not existing. Christians have an obvious problem if a person Jesus didn’t exist. But you can’t conclude a magical Jesus even if he did exist. So let’s all pretend to agree a person Jesus existed, if that will make you so happy, and move on to the next thing, where you pretend that makes magical Jesus more likely.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Well, some atheists certainly have a problem with it.

          A person would have good reason to believe that Historical Jesus existed, even if they didn’t believe in Divine Jesus. One shouldn’t need to “pretend”. One shouldn’t need to hide behind “proof”.

        • Kodie

          Well, some people do care about historical accuracy, but then the guy (if he existed) is really only famous for one reason, which has nothing to do with history, so having existed is really nitpicky to me. It doesn’t matter. Christians of course have a greater stake because he can’t have been magical if he didn’t exist. Billions and billions and billions of people have existed, I’m not going to miss one.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Well, in that case, any historical figure is only one out of billions, and you wouldn’t miss any of them.

        • Kodie

          I can’t see how Jesus makes a difference any more than god makes a difference. Theists keep making a mistake about atheists in saying we are mad at or blaming god, or that saying Jesus did not or may not have existed, in your own words, scorches the earth. No, in either case, it’s the people. God doesn’t do stuff, but people do stuff in his name anyway, and that’s where we get the trouble. People exist and tell us we have to do this or that or follow their superstitious laws or change ourselves to please “god” not them, right? They think it’s not them.

          Jesus is reported to have done a lot of stuff, so who has the influence? Even if he existed as a person, he didn’t do the most important deeds attributed to him. The answer is still “it’s the people”.

          I am also not a history scholar, never have had that much of a grasp on the subject when I was at school. I think the teachers didn’t tell it right. Anyway, we have modern and ancient reports of public figures that aren’t complete, or are “revised” to exalt the figure, and they really existed and did at least some of the things we know about. I’m talking about people like Christopher Columbus or Mother Teresa or even Joe Paterno. People don’t want the reputation stained. You don’t want Jesus to not have existed, even if his life wasn’t remarkable and it was all built up legend stuff like George Washington and his cherry tree or Plymouth Rock. George Washington existed, and the rock at Plymouth Rock is a rock in Plymouth, but humans don’t really want the watered down boring version or that it was completely embellished or invented at all. How can we look to Jesus as a hero if he was just some guy who didn’t walk on water or feed the masses? What if he was just crucified and buried and died like a normal guy, then what can he do for me?

        • MR

          Very nice, Kodie, and an extra ^1 for “They think it’s not them.”

        • adam

          We would only miss Jesus by the division and hatred he bred and breeds.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f94b0037eccec85b544dc3d581c61382e53517cfe2cd379c0be014b4d64b78f9.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Consensus” allows for some who will disagree with the position. They are few, far between, and can be listed by name. I am not arguing that the consensus is unanimous.

          *Facepalm*

          I was thinking here that you were reasonably competent and today you are just going to pot.

          I will also allow that people without higher degrees (Doherty, for example) can become experts. His lack of a higher degree might be because his thesis cannot stand up to scientific scrutiny.

          Calls for speculation not in evidence. If we are allowed to make shit up then we can all go home now. Oh, that’s right, the Bible is full of it.

          Carrier is the kind of advocate that you accuse Christian experts of being. He has an agenda, and a conflict of interest in his position.

          Yeah, if you can demonstrate that then I’ll concede those points. As it is, you are reduced to following the propaganda or just pulling guff out of your bottom.

          His area of expertise is in Roman history, not that of the Levant.

          Seems you are stupid on that score too.

          The argument you make has assumptions with questionable bases.

          See, here’s how it works. When I make an argument which you think are assumptions with questionable basis, what is normal form is to counter with evidence.

          I’ve read the voluminous exchanges between Ehrman and Carrier, and the best points Carrier raises are in his area of expertise (Rome), and are nit-picking, not of substance.

          You see, that is questionable going by the way you are ignorant on a number of points discussed that are outlined in the tet-a-tet. It’s also wrong.

          And just one more time…seeing how much of a struggle you seem to be having in grasping the finer details.

          Twice Ehrman says I have a Ph.D. in “classics” (p. 19, 167). In fact, my degrees are in ancient history, with an undergraduate minor in Classics (major in history), and three graduate degrees (M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D.) with four graduate majors (Greco-Roman historiography, philosophy, religion, and a special major on the fall of Rome). One of those, you’ll notice, is in the religions of the Roman empire–which included Christianity (and my study of Christianity featured significantly in my dissertation work). I shouldn’t have to explain that the classics and ancient history departments aren’t even in the same building, much less the same major. Although I did take courses from each and studied under both classicists and historians, and have a considerable classics background, it’s a rather telling mistake of his to think (and then report) that I am just a classicist and not a historian, much less a certified historian of Christianity (and, incidentally, its surrounding religions, ignorance of which we have seen is Ehrman’s failing).

          And just so you can get a grasp on the situation.

          The critique that upset Ehrman…

          Ehrman on Jesus: A Failure of Facts and Logic

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1026#

          These arguments are the same kind of thing one sees with urban myths and conspiracy theories.

          And yet their rebuttal seems such that NO scholar has managed it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Yes, that is the kind of arrogance and nit-picking I am talking about from Carrier. Like you, he mistakes name-calling and obscenity for a logical argument.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, that is the kind of arrogance and nit-picking I am talking about from Carrier.

          Arrogance…are you for real? How many scathing book scholarly reviews have you read? You do know it’s Ehrman he was critiquing right? Of course he’s not a bit arrogant, is he?

          Have you read any other scathing critiques of Ehrman’s dross? I’m guessing not.

          Since when does arrogance condemn anyone’s expertise anyway. You are engaging in an ad hominem fallacy.

          Yeah, nit-picking…behave will ya?

          If you are happy as a layperson to be lied to and deceived by those “experts” you rely on to furnish you with accurate information, then knock yerself out. Oh, that’s right, I’d forgot, that’s how you Christians like to operate.

          Like you, he mistakes name-calling and obscenity for a logical argument.

          The problem you have Clement, is that you are that ignorant of the subject, you don’t know what you are talking about. Ehrman started the whole fracas and besmirching of character’s.

          But that really isn’t the issue. The apologist always resorts to tone trolling when they can’t rebut an argument. What about the argument’s? Oh, that’s right, you can’t, because that’s how you Christian’s like to operate. Argue from ignorance.

          Your tone trolling is very quaint, but we see it around here all the time, and like you, fuckwits mistake it for a logical argument, so pah!

        • Clement Agonistes

          You brought up “professionalism”. Where does name-calling fit in with professionalism? You also brought up Carrier’s degrees, making a deal out of it, and then ignored Ehrman’s degrees, with the implication that Carrier’s PhD (in anything) trumps whatever background Ehrman might have. Then, in the next post state that everybody knows they both have PhDs. Well, why mention only one if it is common knowledge?

          It’s the same thing with this whole “you are ignorant” argument – it’s not (and argument). It’s just the part of the whole confirmational bias that needs to tear down others to make confirm your righteousness.

          I read that whole exchange between Carrier and Ehrman. (CB makes you feel better to suggest otherwise). Carrier is insecure about his background, so he is very sensitive about his degrees. He likes being “Dr.” Carrier. He nit-picks over Ehrman’s characterization of his background as if it were a mistake of epic importance.

          Whenever Carrier brought up a legitimate mistake, Ehrman acknowledged it. When the tables were turned, Carrier did not acknowledge his own mistakes,and resorted to more nastiness and name-calling. Ehrman is professional; Carrier is not. I don’t even agree with Ehrman, but I respect his attitude and class. Carrier is unworthy of respect.

          People like Carrier are obsessed with their own cult. Worshippers like you only encourage their out-of-control behavior, forgiving every mistake and rewarding every grandstanding tactic. It’s like the talented young athlete who gets away with crimes.

          So, if you got specifics, bring them on. If all you have is innuendo and name-calling, you are wasting my time.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You brought up “professionalism”.

          Nah, I’m pretty sure you brought it up here…

          There was a huge internet give-and-take between Ehrman and Carrier. Ehrman was the calm adult, while Carrier was the adolescent, mistaking obscenities for historical fact.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/easter_critique_the_bible_cant_even_get_its_own_punch_line_straight_infographic/#comment-3278795909

          Where does name-calling fit in with professionalism?

          You see, this is why I’m calling foul on your claim to be aware of the whole debacle. Carrier starts here after Ehrman’s display of scholarly “professionalism” in the HuffPo article.

          Ehrman Trashtalks Mythicism

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/10035

          You also brought up Carrier’s degrees, making a deal out of it, and then ignored Ehrman’s degrees, with the implication that Carrier’s PhD (in anything) trumps whatever background Ehrman might have.

          I made no such implication. I went to great length in citing evidence for my claims.

          Now I know you are lying about being well informed about the back and forth. Ehrman makes a large part of his argument around the issue of qualifications. He sets the bar so hypercritical so that he can rule out the mythicists as unqualified to take part in the field. You made the inference that a historian in one area has no relevance in another when you said…

          For instance, even an expert in ancient Rome might not be an expert in the ancient Levant. But, that person could tell us a lot about the Roman side of interaction with the Levant.

          My comment was in trying to point out that Carrier is not only just as qualified in the study of Christianity.

          But, since you insist on pounding this issue just as Ehrman does, unlike Ehrman, Carrier IS qualified in areas of expertise outside the history of Christianity. Which means his knowledge on the contemporary history is also not just in the Levant, but outside it aswell, and IS superior to that of Ehrman’s. In fact it is demonstrably so, when he shows Ehrman’s ignorance on that list of details you claim is “nit-picking” but failed to recognise that the list is a small number from the total in the book. But then YOU haven’t read the book. The one where Ehrman spills a lot of ink attacking credentials and professionalism and while doing so, makes a pigs arse of himself by fucking up the details he “nit-picks” those he attacks by making erroneous claims. So, much so, that those he attacks felt the need to write a rebuttal book in order to put the record straight and highlight Ehrman’s fuck ups. That’s another book I’ve read, so know what I’m talking about.

          Then, in the next post state that everybody knows they both have PhDs. Well, why mention only one if it is common knowledge?

          No, no, no, Clement, everyone that has “claimed” a knowledge of the online wrangle between the two, should know. You claimed to have followed the argument. Ergo know the argument. Apparently not.

          You want to be a fucking pedant over my use of Ph.D and expert…tell me this smart guy, can an “expert” hold a doctorate, and can someone holding a doctorate be an expert?

          It’s the same thing with this whole “you are ignorant” argument – it’s not (and argument). It’s just the part of the whole confirmational bias that needs to tear down others to make confirm your righteousness.

          But Clement, you are ignorant on the issue. Dress it up anyway ya want, but it is what it is unfortunately. When you display ignorance of the arguments, that means you ignorant. If you don’t know about a detail, that is the very definition of what it means to be ignorant.

          Example:-Your 5 point list is a display of ignorance, just take number two, which I don’t remember seeing a reply to my answer, but anyway…

          3. “Ehrman does not know the material existed and did not study it.” What material? How do you know this? is the material relevant?

          The extra-biblical material being used in the mythicist argument and the whole academy of scholarship written on the subject. I know this because first, Ehrman admits it, and second, he shows no knowledge of it’s existence in his writing. If you have to ask it’s relevance, then not only are you ignorant, but stupid too.

          I read that whole exchange between Carrier and Ehrman. (CB makes you feel better to suggest otherwise).

          Well, if you say so….I’ll leave it to the third party observer to decide.

          Carrier is insecure about his background, so he is very sensitive about his degrees. He likes being “Dr.” Carrier. He nit-picks over Ehrman’s characterization of his background as if it were a mistake of epic importance.

          Jaysus fuck. This is getting frustratingly tedious now.

          A large part of Ehrman’s anti-mythicist argument is based on this “credentials” argument. He first brought it up in the HuffPo article and it continued in the book. It is the historicists bag. J.M’s give zero fucks about it otherwise. The J.M.’s want the arguments solidly addressed. It is you lot that are trying to use it as obfuscation ffs…the same goes for the tone trolling professional conduct fuckwittery.

          It wasn’t only Carrier’s credentials either, but you SHOULD know that already too ffs.

          Whenever Carrier brought up a legitimate mistake, Ehrman acknowledged it. When the tables were turned, Carrier did not acknowledge his own mistakes,and resorted to more nastiness and name-calling.

          Lies…citation please. Ehrman acknowledged some of the mistakes. Show where the tables were turned and Carrier was wrong, but didn’t acknowledge it?

          Ehrman is professional; Carrier is not. I don’t even agree with Ehrman, but I respect his attitude and class. Carrier is unworthy of respect.

          You are entitled to your opinion of course, much like arseholes, most people have one, quite often full of shite.

          People like Carrier are obsessed with their own cult. Worshippers like you only encourage their out-of-control behavior, forgiving every mistake and rewarding every grandstanding tactic. It’s like the talented young athlete who gets away with crimes.

          Spoiiiinnnng!

          And now you’ve made this completely about Carrier and not the arguments…how often have we seen this happen before? Bloody pathetic tactic.

          So, if you got specifics, bring them on. If all you have is innuendo and name-calling, you are wasting my time.

          And there is the icing on the cake.

          You, Clement, have made this about everything other that the arguments. That’s because YOU are trying to argue from a position of ignorance. That’s because you haven’t done any due diligence prior to opening your gob.

          I’ve posted a whole litany of arguments in another comment and a link to the JM Wiki…let’s see how ya get on.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, you were inferring “professionalism” from my post reporting that Carrier used obscenities. OK, fine.

          Here is your post I was responding to:

          “He [Erhman] has lied, misrepresented, miss attributed, fudged, poorly researched, made assumptions, straw manned, and been an all around arrogant douche on the subject.”

          You, BTW, used the word “professionalism”.

          In the HuffPo article, Ehrman never mentioned Carrier by name. The closest was complimentary – one of the few PhD mythicists.

          You uploaded Carrier’s review of Ehrman’s book – did that look like something a scholar says? Carrier got his feelings hurt, and he responded the way a child responds – lashing out with bad words.

        • Ignorant Amos

          In the HuffPo article, Ehrman never mentioned Carrier by name. The closest was complimentary – one of the few PhD mythicists.

          So what? Where does Carrier pull Ehrman up on him being attacked personally?

          Carrier never refers to Ehrman attacking him personally in his first article following the HuffPopiece..

          The title of Carriers rebuke was “Ehrman Trashtalks Mythicism”. Carrier is a mythicist who believed Ehrman unjustifiably trashtalked the position he takes. Is it “professional” of Ehrman to write such an article besmirching a section of scholars because he vehemently disagrees with them? Apparently it is, because according to you, Carrier is being the aggressive one, not Ehrman.

          The only reference to a scholar and the credentials nonsense by name is Thomas Thompson.

          Carrier see’s blatant errors and falsehoods in Ehrman’s scholarship in the HuffPo article and felt it just and proper to point out those errors.

          Please…try and read the stuff prior to commenting.

          Even just the bit headed, “Attacking Academic Freedom”

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/10035

          You uploaded Carrier’s review of Ehrman’s book – did that look like something a scholar says?

          Whaaaa? Are you serious?

          Carrier got his feelings hurt, and he responded the way a child responds – lashing out with bad words.

          Feelings hurt how? WTF are you on about now?

          It was a blog review of a poorly written and badly researched book. Deal with the points that get critiqued, fuck Carrier’s hurt feelings or that he lashed out childishly, it is irrelevant to the errors he points out…ffs, will you give up on this bullshit already.

          Tell ya what. Forget about Carrier…take up Raphael Lataster’s critique of Ehrman’s book if you want tone trolling Carrier and his lack of professionalism to make an argument against him. Though you are just being pathetic.

          Or pick one from the list here….

          http://michaelturton2.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/reviewing-ehrman-did-jesus-exist.html

          http://vridar.org/2012/11/07/thomas-brodies-review-of-bart-ehrmans-did-jesus-exist/

          http://vridar.org/2012/11/08/now-an-ebook-dohertys-rebuttal-of-ehrmans-case-for-the-existence-of-jesus/

          http://vridar.org/2013/05/13/bart-erhman-and-another-unprofessional-blow-at-mythicism/

        • Clement Agonistes
        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah, this is much better.

          The title should read…

          Dear Richard (and everyone else that has slated DJE? since), please admit you screwed up with your review of Bart Ehrman’s latest book

          Having read through the comments, there is a conglomeration of opinions. It’s interesting that a few share your view, almost verbatim.

          The Incredible Halq wrote his blog post BEFORE Carrier had responded back to Ehrman on these few data points, so he can be forgiven for NOT knowing the later outcome. The debacle went on well after that.

          You, on the other hand, can claim no such innocence, because you have claimed to be well versed in the argument to date.

          So, to the nitty-gritty. Chris Hallquist takes just a few of Carrier’s complaints, supposedly refuted by Ehrman, and deduces that Carrier dropped the ball and the whole review is a screw-up. The few data points of Carriers critique could be looked at in order of ascendancy as in probably the least importance, but let’s look at them anyway.

          From the Incredible Halq blog…

          These are just two examples, but having read both blog posts, I’m convinced that on every point, Carrier’s accusations of incompetence etc. are unsupported. That’s really bad. This is true even if Carrier is right about some of the academic points at issue. For example, I suspect he may be right about the prefect/procurator issue, but the relevant journal articles just aren’t widely enough known even among experts.

          See, here’s the rub. Not even known among what expert’s? If something is outside one’s field of expertise, then one has no business expressing an opinion in a book as if one IS an expert. Carrier’s point exactly. Just do one’s due diligence and ask and cite a fucking expert…just like Ehrman did AFTER Carrier’s justified complaint about Ehrman’s boo-boo….which is the point of a friggin’ book critique in the first place ffs.

          Was Pilate a Procurator?

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1151

          The Osiris issue seems to be about interpretation and source material.

          The Halq says…

          I’d emphasize here that even if Carrier were right about how to interpret Plutarch, he still made a completely unsupported and incorrect assumption about the basis for Ehrman’s conclusion about Osiris.

          So Carrier isn’t wrong? It’s ambiguous at best? But wait a wee minute….apparently not…

          Are There Dying and Rising Gods?

          On all of this take note: Ehrman says his views are the standard in the field, but in defense of the claim he still only names one advocate (Smith). In the link above, in support of my view, I name eight. And in my chapter on resurrection bodies in The Empty Tomb I cite more, including abundant primary evidence. So you decide who to follow on this point.

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1151

          Did Ehrman Screw Up His Citation of Pliny?

          Here Ehrman agrees with everything I said and insists it was just a typo and he knew everything I said already (that he was referring to two completely separate letters, and he should in each case have said “a” letter in “book” 10 that contains all of Pliny’s Trajan correspondence and not have called both letters “letter” 10, and that neither letter connects the two contexts, only modern scholars do). But he still failed to say any of this to his readers (thus even his excuse does not rescue the book from the charge of misinforming the public and therefore being unreliable).

          More importantly, I do not believe he’s telling the truth here. Because the wording in the book does not look even remotely like he knew that two different letters were being discussed, or that their connection was a scholarly inference and not something directly revealed in the context of “the letter” he twice references. I’ll just quote the relevant section in full [skipping only incidental material] and leave this one for you to decide (emphasis added):

          “…Pliny is best known for a series of letters that he wrote later in life to the Roman emperor, Trajan, seeking advice for governing his province. In particular, letter number 10 from the year 112 CE is important, as it is the one place in which Pliny appears to mention the existence of Jesus. The letter is not about Jesus himself; it is dealing with a political problem. In Pliny’s province a law had been passed making it illegal for people to gather together in social groups… The law applied to every social group, including fire brigades….and so villages were burning.

          In his letter 10 to the emperor Pliny discusses the fire problem, and in that context he mentions another group that was illegally gathering together. As it turns out, it was the local community of Christians.” [~Ehrman]

          So you tell me. Is Ehrman now lying about what he actually thought when writing the above?

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1151

          On each point…crickets from Ehrman.

          So what we have here is a critique of a critique that on hindsight, doesn’t do what you think it does…but you’d know all this stuff if you weren’t lying about knowing all this stuff.

          Like I’ve already stated…there is at least two book length rebuttals in print outlining Ehrman’s un-scholarly clusterfucks. I have read both, and Ehrman’s DJE? I own all three.

          In the meantime, a chapter by chapter review by one of those other folk on the receiving end of Ehrman’s antics.

          http://vridar.org/other-authors/earl-dohertys-response-to-bart-ehrmans-did-jesus-exist/

        • Clement Agonistes

          That’s the kind of nit-picking I am talking about – “Was Pilate Procurator or Prefect?” Heck, there was a time when atheists said Pilate was just another fictional character in the myth.

          As a study in Confirmational Bias, this is really instructional. Carrier manages to elevate meaningless details to epic importance, thus proving he is righteous, and his opponents are liars. This was my other grip about Bob’s article. “Who can possibly remember details 50 years later?” “Getting details wrong is proof that Easter never happened.”

          The logic is abysmal.

        • Pofarmer

          Heck, there was a time when atheists said Pilate was just another fictional character in the myth.

          I’ve looked, and I can’t find any support for this. I found it written in either an apologists book or blog post, but I don’t think there’s any other support that this was actually a thing.

          And, alas. Whether Pilate was a procurator or a prefect isn’t meaningless. It’s one more data point that the author of the Gospel didn’t really know what he was talking about, and was writing from 2nd or 3rd hand knowledge from some distance away. Some say Rome, some are now saying Syria.

          “Getting details wrong is proof that Easter never happened.”

          Nah, but it could certainly be the hallmark of a work of fiction.

          The logic is abysmal.

          Don’t be too hard on yourself.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s the kind of nit-picking I am talking about – “Was Pilate Procurator or Prefect?”

          Spoooiiinng!

          Say’s the guy who entered this thread with nit-pick.

          See, Ehrman wrote a catastrophe of a book and it was directed at the layperson. Now the reason the issue has some relevance is because we (the layperson) rely on the expert to use their expertise and educate the rest of us by being somewhat reliable. The book needs to be accurate so we don’t go spreading misinformation in places like this forum.

          But regardless, Carrier has admitted he was wrong to expect Ehrman’s “expertise” to extend that far.

          Ehrman didn’t accept his error and cited a source.

          Carrier show’s why it is still wrong, but concedes it is an error that even more knowledgeable folk on the subject and in the academy make.

          Carrier has retracted the accusation of it being an academic error.

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1794#14

          There’s that changing of one’s position ya were accusing Carrier of not doing right there.

          You should know this already, you said you followed the row at the time.

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1026#

        • Clement Agonistes

          It had been years since I read their exchange. My impression at the time was that Ehrman was the adult, calmly discussing carrier’s objections one-by-one. Where Ehrman made mistakes, he admitted them. Where he felt he was right, he presented the basis for his assertions.

          Carrier, OTOH, was totally unprofessional, to the point of childishness. He substituted name-calling for facts, jumped to conclusions about Ehrman with no basis, and seemed to have a goal of being a total douche. Carrier presented arguments that were far more appropriate for a forum like this than a discussion among peers. That kind of behavior is a red-flag for someone ( an adolescent) on the losing end of an argument. i understand why Ehrman might lose interest in an abusive, childish exchange.

          It also give me an insight into why you might think copying Carrier’s tactics is appropriate. I’m not into playing that game. Like Carrier, you may presume whatever you wish from my silence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It had been years since I read their exchange.

          Me too…but I remember the overall gist and most of the bullet points. I’ve been reappraising myself over recent days due to our argument…you would’ve done well to do the same.

          My impression at the time was that Ehrman was the adult, calmly discussing carrier’s objections one-by-one. Where Ehrman made mistakes, he admitted them. Where he felt he was right, he presented the basis for his assertions.

          Your impression at the time and now is flawed. I’ve been going to considerable lengths to demonstrate such. Are you bias much do ya think?

          Carrier, OTOH, was totally unprofessional, to the point of childishness. He substituted name-calling for facts, jumped to conclusions about Ehrman with no basis, and seemed to have a goal of being a total douche.

          I could give zero fucks about your opinion…Carrier maybe a complete douche in many folks eyes, it has zip zero shit to do with whether he was/is right or wrong. That is what interests me more.

          If it’s opinions that count in your world…

          Carrier’s attacks were wholly substantive in nature and not at all ad hominem. But rather than either defend the substance of his work and/or apologize for its egregious errors, on Facebook Ehrman is misrepresenting Carrier’s criticisms as merely personal in nature: ~ Daniel Fincke

          Dr. Daniel Fincke has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2012/04/ehrman-evades-carriers-criticisms/

          Carrier presented arguments that were far more appropriate for a forum like this than a discussion among peers.

          No shit Sherlock…it was posted on his blog…ya, know, like this one? It wasn’t in a discussion forum among his peers for goodness sake. Wise up a tad, will ya?

          That kind of behavior is a red-flag for someone ( an adolescent) on the losing end of an argument. i understand why Ehrman might lose interest in an abusive, childish exchange.

          How much are you going to flog this nonsense of a dead horse? It is becoming cretinous now.

          It also give me an insight into why you might think copying Carrier’s tactics is appropriate.

          You can’t refute the central points…because you don’t know them, fine. So now you take Ehrman’s tact and make it about Carrier and not his critique.

          I already offered you alternate critiques of DJE? since the character of Carrier so upsets your sensibilities, but I guess you need the Carrier thing as an out. That’s okay…we can leave that as your legacy. It’s nothing we aren’t used to in these circumstances.

          I’m not into playing that game.

          Of course not, that’s because it’s a game that you are getting a right royal reaming and there’s only so many times one can have a new arse torn.

          Like Carrier, you may presume whatever you wish from my silence.

          Me, and everyone else reading your futility. It’s colloquially known around these parts as you are off to Croydon. Which basically means you have nowhere else to go in the discussion…you’ve been owned…Bye-bye now.

        • Pofarmer

          Carrier presented arguments that were far more appropriate for a forum like this than a discussion among peers.

          Carrier was posting on a forum like this.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But, but, but, Clement says he was well aware of the back and forth between Carrier and Ehrman at the time, so how could he not know such an obvious detail like that?

          Knew the argument’s, my arse!

        • adam

          “you may presume whatever you wish from my silence.”

          Pofarmer has already called out your deliberate ignorance below.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As a study in Confirmational Bias, this is really instructional. Carrier manages to elevate meaningless details to epic importance, thus proving he is righteous, and his opponents are liars.

          You are really struggling with this whole issue, aren’t you?

          They are not a few meaningless details.

          Ehrman wrote an article for the HuffPo promoting his book and poo-pooing mythiscists.

          Carrier took umbrage because being a mythiscist he felt that Ehrman was unjust in generalising all mythiscists as cranks, so he hit back.

          Carrier then takes delivery of Ehrman’s book and after reading it is flabbergasted at the litany of fuck-ups in said book.

          Carrier reviews the book and outlines a few of the more glaring problems….which includes lies.

          Carrier is not alone in this conclusion, but because he has an arrogant way about him, heis the one that takes the most flak.

          There is no confirmation bias. If you knew the slightest iota of what you are talking about, you’d know this. It is well outlined in Carrier’s own words if you weren’t so wrapped up on your own ignorance you would find out before spewing such slobbering nonsense.

          When one can demonstrate that ones opponent has lied, then one has every right to claim the upper ground.

          • CARRIER: I carefully explain that hundreds of errors plague his book, and that I chose only a representative sample of them, a representative selection of all the errors in the book (and a large sample, to demonstrate I wasn’t joking about their being a lot of them), and that it was their vast number that ruined the book and made it useless to any and every reader–as I put it, a “sad waste of electrons and trees.”

          • EHRMAN: Complains that I picked on only a few mistakes and no book can be condemned for a few mistakes. Also claims I only picked random mistakes and didn’t address his “mounds of evidence” for the historicity of Jesus. Then says some other silly things.

          • CARRIER: I myself said in my review, many times, that a few errors would not condemn any book (as we all make them). But I didn’t pick on only a few mistakes; I documented a great many serious mistakes, and even the many mistakes I wrote about were, as I repeatedly said, just a fraction of all there were. A book can be condemned for that scale of error. And I did address his evidence (of which there were not “mounds” but barely a molehill), in the whole second half of my review demonstrating that his methods of arguing from it were illogical.

          • EHRMAN: No reply.

          You are embarrassing yourself in continuing on this line. Give it up already.

        • Greg G.

          That’s the kind of nit-picking I am talking about – “Was Pilate Procurator or Prefect?” Heck, there was a time when atheists said Pilate was just another fictional character in the myth.

          Can you cite a single atheist who ever claimed Pilate was fictional? That appears to be Christian fiction that arose after the Pilate Stone was discovered. I think there was some debate whether Pilate was a prefect (a military governor) or a procurator (a civilian governor) but that was settled by the stone that he likely commissioned himself that says he was a prefect.

          Pilate is mentioned by Philo and Josephus. Josephus says that the position was changed from prefect to procurator after Pilate was gone. But the passage where Jesus is mentioned in Tacitus was written in Latin that Pilate was a procurator. That makes the passage suspect. If Tacitus was getting his information from official documents, it is likely that Pilate’s title would be evident. That fact that the title is wrong in Tacitus means it could be an interpolation or he was just taking the information by word of mouth.

          Richard Carrier argues that writers of the day often used “procurator” indiscriminately for the two positions.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Richard Carrier argues that writers of the day often used “procurator” indiscriminately for the two positions.

          I don’t think so…or at least that’s not how I read him.

          Carrier argues that Pilate held the dual office of Prefect and Procurator, but that writers of the day referred to the more senior position of Prefect…or both, but not the less authoritative position of Procurator on its own.

          He argues that Tacitus was well aware of such a tradition as he was being promoted up through the ranks at the time of said trend and could have not been aware that such was how this referencing was the norm.

          Carrier sites three expert’s and their work to demonstrate this trend in his essay….

          On the Dual Office of Procurator and Prefect

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/TheProvincialProcurator.pdf?x23333

          This subject is a bone of contention for Carrier as he spent a lot of time and work researching the subject. So I guess he was miffed when he seen a scholar ignorantly shiteing all over the subject.

          A Procurator was a position that any Tom, Dick, or Harry could hold. It was a civil position with no military clout per se, other than being able to name drop the emperor’s authority by way of getting things done. But abusing the position and getting caught, brought on the wrath of the state.

          From Carrier’s thesis…under the sub-heading…

          The Procurator in the Time of Augustus

          The lines later blurred between prefects and procurators, hence many prefects in later sources are referred to, seemingly interchangeably, as procurators, and one possible reason for this is not hard to guess at. As the empire became more and more like an undisguised monarchy, and the public and private treasuries more and more blurred, the power of procurators became more and more real—even when still informal, their authority could be hard to challenge. Disobeying a procurator surely became in due course synonymous with disobeying their employer—who happened to be the emperor, and (as one might say) you didn’t take the emperor to court. So it would not be surprising if we found, well after the Julian period, imperial procurators sharing the emperor’s status
          in being above the law . That was a view of the emperor ’s legal status that was certainly post-Augustan. But there is a more demonstrable reason for the lines to be blurred at this level of the Roman government: it was often practical to simply hire an existing prefect as a procurator, since his private role as financial agent of the emperor would then be immediately backed up by his formal constitutional power as a prefect.

          The whole paper is a good read…

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/HerodSyrianGovernor.pdf?x23333

          A Prefect on the other hand, was a state military position held by a member of the equestrian class…otherwise known as a knight. All Prefect’s could be Procurator’s, but never the other way round.

          Tacitus would not have denigrated a knight by referring to him with the more offensive title of that of a property manager (Procurator), when he had the far more prestigious title of the military authority for the region (Prefect). Hence the suspected entry in Tacitus. The real Tacitus would have known better. A later Christian interpolator most likely not. Therefore it is not nit-picking to pull Ehrman up on his error. A layperson casually reading “DJE?” wouldn’t know any better. I certainly didn’t.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. I think the following had been my takez away.

          The lines later blurred between prefects and procurators, hence many prefects in later sources are referred to, seemingly interchangeably, as procurators, and one possible reason for this is not hard to guess at.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Pilate is mentioned by Philo and Josephus. Josephus says that the position was changed from prefect to procurator after Pilate was gone.

          I can’t see how this interpretation of Josephus works. Given what is known about both the rank of Prefect, and the position of Procurator at the time, it seems highly unlikely.

          Neither Philo or Josephus use the term “Procurator”, but a Greek word, epitropos interpreted as such. Apparently Philo uses the same word to refer to Prefect, Proconsul, and Legate. It seems Philo sees the word to mean an administrator. Strong’s Greek dictionary gives us similar…an administrator (one having authority)

          According to Carrier’s research, Procurators only had real authority when they were also Prefects.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ#The_rank_of_Pilate

          Tacitus was referring to an execution, something beyond the remit of a simple Procurator and Tacitus would definitely know this fact.

          TL;DR

          Even so, the practice of appointing procurators as prefects, or vice versa, is well attested. In the reign of Augustus, the supreme example is the prefect of Egypt, who was also the procurator of Egypt. 93 Egypt is an excellent example of the strange (to us) character of ancient government: all land in Egypt was originally owned by the kings. Upon his victory over Queen Cleopatra, all of Egypt became the private possession of
          Augustus, and he kept it that way to prevent any Senatorial upstarts from using it as a base to launch another civil war. Thus, all “taxes” in Egypt were technically paid directly to Augustus and not to Rome as such, and hiring the prefect of the province to be chief
          procurator as well would be too convenient to pass up. It is also fairly certain that all the prefects of Judaea were also procurators. For example, under Tiberius, Pontius Pilate was, besides the prefect of Judaea, also procurator there. 94 Pilate clearly engages in actions
          related to collecting and spending imperial money, suggesting procuratorial duties, though of course his actual legal powers would stem solely from his attested position as prefect.95 But the decisive evidence is the contemporary Philo, who reports that “Pilate was one of the prefects appointed procurator of Judaea” ( Leg. ad Gaium 299); Josephus also calls Pilate a procurator in BJ 2.169. Josephus, in fact, routinely calls the prefects of
          Judaea procurators (as noted earlier), and their activities often clearly involved financial matters. Upon the removal of Archelaus in 6 A.D. all the king’s land and property no
          doubt became the private possession of the emperor, and tribute previously paid directly to the emperor continued to be so, making the role of the Judaean procurator of sufficient gravity that prefects had to be assigned the duty.96

          There is no evidence that any province, no matter how small, was ever governed by a procurator lacking a prefecture. In the words of Jones, “two emperors so careful of constitutional proprieties as Augustus and Tiberius” would not have made mere procurators provincial governors, “and a careful examination of the evidence has made it very improbable that they did,” noting that inscriptions from the period always describe
          small-scale governors as praefectus—or praeses or pro legato (which mean essentially the same thing).97 Jones believes that this began to change in the reign of Claudius, but his evidence is re-examined and the conclusion refuted by Millar .98 In general, Jones’
          contrary evidence is either ambiguous as to whether attested procurators were in fact also governors, or fails to account for procurators acting illegally , procurators who were also prefects, etc. In the latter category are some cases where the men in question are referred
          to in sources by the lesser title only by way of abbreviation, or perhaps covert social commentary, as when Tacitus describes Pilate as a procurator in his account of Christianity in the context of the Neronian fire ( Annals 15.44); for we know in fact (from epigraphic evidence) that Pilate was a prefect, and Tacitus (as a consular senator) would know that, but Tacitus would surely have found it more suitably embarrassing to say that Christ was executed by a procurator , which fact also played into Tacitus’ running theme throughout the Annals that procurators were being given more authority than they ought Millar could not find any evidence before Severus of procurators exercising jurisdiction, and abundant evidence that emperors actively opposed procurators assuming such powers.100 Millar discovered that “The legal evidence shows clearly that procurators never had a recognised right to exercise criminal jurisdiction,” 101 though beginning some
          time late in the 2nd century procurators gradually acquired the right to judge certain civil cases that concerned them. Of course, this may have simply been another convenient abuse of the constitution, this time taking advantage of the fact that any citizen (perhaps
          even freedmen) could be appointed iudex (not a magistrate, but only a judge hearing.

          We know Tacitus had a bee in his bonnet over the granting of imperial powers to procurators (as noted earlier) and thus had every reason to be overly rhetorical in emphasizing what annoyed him about this. The passage in dispute by Millar and Brunt is a rant against appointing Knights to government (a privilege which, Tacitus laments, had used to be reserved for Senators). He begins with the general complaint, that Claudius
          often said parem vim rerum habendam a procuratoribus suis iudicatarum ac si ipse statuisset, “that his own procurators ought to have the same judicial power as if he himself were speaking,” and that the Senate passed a decree confirming this plenius quam antea et uberius, “more fully and broadly than before.” Reading between the lines, the actual Senate’ s decree may have simply assigned the of fice of iudex to imperial procurators (while limiting their jurisdiction to civil courts, and even then only to cases involving imperial property—judging from the later epigraphic evidence collected by Millar and even Brunt). But Tacitus gives as his first example (of what he is saying was then expanded under Claudius) the Egyptian “procurator” being given judicial powers by
          Augustus, and we know this was accomplished by appointing that agent prefect, and not by simply granting judicial power to procurators. Tacitus then names other examples of (what in fact were) Knights being appointed simultaneously as procurators and prefects (a detail Tacitus elides so as to make the facts seem more shameful). So when he closes this rant with the quip that Claudius libertos quos rei familiari praefecerat sibique et
          legibus adaequaverit, “Claudius even made the freedmen who governed his private estates equal to himself under the law,” Tacitus is most likely (and intentionally) glossing over the actual fact of the matter: that Claudius was appointing his procurators to be
          prefects (these would almost certainly have only been Knights) or in some cases simply iudices (judges), so they could simultaneously make and adjudicate their own claims (and it is here that freedmen would be involved). Even if we take Tacitus more literally,
          Millar’s conclusion then prevails: the only freedmen procurators Tacitus mentions being given judicial powers are those in command of his private estates. And yet I doubt this was accomplished in any other way than simply declaring them civil iudices with confined jurisdictions. All the other procurators were equestrian prefects. But however one reads Tacitus on this point, he still says that this development only began under
          Claudius. In the time of Augustus it is clear that procurators in and of themselves were nothing more than the private employees of the emperor, and had no more formal legal authority than private citizens.

          Perhap’s I’m just reading it all wrong.

          But the passage where Jesus is mentioned in Tacitus was written in Latin that Pilate was a procurator. That makes the passage suspect. If Tacitus was getting his information from official documents, it is likely that Pilate’s title would be evident. That fact that the title is wrong in Tacitus means it could be an interpolation or he was just taking the information by word of mouth.

          Exactly. And I can’t see how Tacitus could take such a thing as word of mouth. He had to have known that Pilate was first and foremost, the Prefect in the region at that time. Given Pilate’s notoriety for being a particularly bad bastard in the things he done, according to Philo and Josephus anyway. Things outside the remit of Procurator at that time.

          The first-century C.E. Jewish historians Flavius Josephus and Philo of Alexandria also portray Pilate in a negative light—as autocratic, excessive, stubborn and indecisive. According to Josephus, Pilate’s ten-year stint as governor of Judea ended in 36 C.E., when he was sent back to Rome to answer charges of overstepping authority, provoking rebellion and persecuting the Jews. Philo reports on Pilate’s predilection for bribes, robbery, excesses and executions without trial.

          I can’t imagine for one moment Tacitus was not aware of the works of either. Or am I just being a tad incredulous?

        • Clement Agonistes

          My understanding is that Carrier was arguing just the opposite, and Ehrman’s Roman expert stated what you just said (evoking another flame).

          What you point out about Tacitus was the problem with having only written records – there were accusations of fraud. Unless the documents were from a desert region (Egypt, or the Dead Sea area), the originals did not survive. We are dependent on copies from many years later. So, we throw out the baby with the bath water when it comes to anything that corroborates the NT.

          Finding the stone blew up the argument that our only confirmations of Pilate’s existence were interpolations.

        • Pofarmer

          Finding the stone blew up the argument that our only confirmations of Pilate’s existence were interpolations.

          Full stop.

          When was this argument EVER advanced?

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s a Christian straw man.

        • Pofarmer

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/TheProvincialProcurator.pdf?x23333

          On the Dual Office of Procurator and PrefectRichard Carrier,

        • Ignorant Amos

          Poor Clement…he doesn’t realise that Carrier wrote a thesis as part of his dissertation well before Ehrman’s boo-boo on this issue, but he is refusing to acknowledge the superior expertise still running with his position.

          Clement must be incapable of following links to sources and understanding their value.

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1151#pilate

        • Clement Agonistes

          My memory was bad. I was thinking the NT was the source of disagreement, and it was Tacitus.

        • Greg G.

          IA pointed out Carrier’s argument. I misremembered and may have conflated the argument.

          Tacitus usually gives his sources but he does not for that passage. I think it is absurd to think he went through 80 year-old scrolls from Judea just to verify that Pilate crucified somebody named Jesus. So, at best, Tacitus was getting the information from Christians who were getting it from the gospels.

          Finding the stone blew up the argument that our only confirmations of Pilate’s existence were interpolations.

          You still haven’t produced anyone ever saying that Pilate never existed. As far as I can tell, it is something a Christian said and other Christians repeated. It’s an example of how the belief in a first century Jesus could have been propagated.

          It doesn’t rule out that the Tacitus quote is not an interpolation, either. The contradiction between Tacitus and the hard evidence adds fuel to that fire.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, if it weren’t for the stone, how much more ferociously would atheists be arguing that the absence of good evidence for Pilate just shows yet another potential data point doesn’t exist? You are already casting doubt on Tacitus’ account as it is.

          If the Pilate Stone “proves” Pilate existed, then it begs the question, “Was it unproven, before?” Who needed proof? It’s uncharacteristic of atheists, right?

          The stone was discovered in 1961. There wasn’t a lot of atheist chatter on the internet back then. If common sense isn’t enough, tell me what’s in it for me and I’ll give it a go if it’s worth the effort.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If the Pilate Stone “proves” Pilate existed, then it begs the question, “Was it unproven, before?” Who needed proof? It’s uncharacteristic of atheists, right?

          Ha ha haha….you are a funny guy.

          The Pilate Stone is a contemporary inscription from Pilate’s time. Historians can never get too much evidence.

          The artifact is particularly significant because it is an archaeological find of an authentic 1st-century Roman inscription mentioning the name “Pontius Pilatus”. It is contemporary to Pilate’s lifetime, and accords with what is known of his reported career. In effect, the writing constitutes the earliest surviving record and a contemporaneous evidence for the historical existence of this person; otherwise known from the New Testament, Jewish Literature and brief mentions in retrospective Roman histories, which have themselves survived in still-later copies.

          The stone was discovered in 1961. There wasn’t a lot of atheist chatter on the internet back then. If common sense isn’t enough, tell me what’s in it for me and I’ll give it a go if it’s worth the effort.

          You made a wild claim. You were asked to justify it. Your reply is now, that there wasn’t much atheist chatter on the internet back then. News flash Clement, there was no internet in 1961…so it is just common sense that there must’ve been this invented hypothesis somewhere before the PS was discovered, right? We now you’ve pulled this from your arse. This is a new level of numptiness even for you Clement.

          Where was the atheist claims of Pilates non-existence being made prior to the discovery of the Pilate Stone?

          [Steps back to watch the hole digging get deeper]

        • Greg G.

          So, if it weren’t for the stone, how much more ferociously would atheists be arguing that the absence of good evidence for Pilate just shows yet another potential data point doesn’t exist? You are already casting doubt on Tacitus’ account as it is.

          Tacitus calls Pilate a procurator in Latin. Another source says that the position became procurator in about 44 AD. I think it was in Josephus but I do not feel as certain of that as I did yesterday. So there has been a question whether Pilate was a prefect or a procurator for centuries. The other sources were in Greek and did not use a Latinism but a more general term for “governor”. IA cited it this morning but I am too lazy at the moment to find the comment. I will if you ask.

          I do not know of anyone who has ever questioned the existence of Pilate. If he was interpolated into both Josephus and Philo, I would expect there to be accounts of him crucifying Jews somewhere. But Josephus has accounts of crucifixions around the time of Archelaus after Herod the Great died and during the war in the late 60s AD. We have accounts of Jews being slaughtered by Pilate but not a single crucifixion.

          So quoted Christian literature that atheists thought Pilate never existed. You have not cited a single person who questioned Pilate’s existence. To validate the claim, you would need to find two people, since it is plural, and prove they were atheist.

          It seems that a Christian interpolator would be more likely to use “procurator” instead of “prefect” than for Tacitus to do it.

          Nevertheless, I do not care whether it is interpolated as far as evidence for Jesus goes because it only provides evidence for the existence of Christians who read the gospels, particularly Luke, which is the only gospel that has Pontius Pilate.

          If the Pilate Stone “proves” Pilate existed, then it begs the question, “Was it unproven, before?” Who needed proof? It’s uncharacteristic of atheists, right?

          It is evidence that Pilate existed. There was enough evidence before that to accept that Pilate existed. It is the mention of him being a “Prefect” that makes it interesting.

        • Clement Agonistes

          If the evidence before the stone was written off as an interpolation, then it would not rise to the level of evidence. The stone is what gives credibility to the writings. Heck, you are even making a deal out of his first name, for petes sake.

          I ran across an atheist questioning whether the stone had been faked. This is my world.

        • Greg G.

          If the Tacitus quote was suspect before the Stone that called Pilate a prefect was found, the Tacitus quote would become even more suspect since it is strong evidence that Pilate was a prefect.

          People have been faking things related to the Bible stories to make a profit for centuries. How many shrouds have there been? How many skulls of John the Baptist? How many splinters from the cross have been exhibited? It has been said that there were enough to build the Ark.

          Whether the Pilate Stone is authentic should be debated. The existence of Pilate does not hinge on it, in any case.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I ran across an atheist questioning whether the stone had been faked. This is my world.

          Of course you did.

          And there’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis.

          Talk is cheap and you wouldn’t lie of course.

          Anecdote doesn’t help you out much here unfortunately.

        • Michael Neville

          And there’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis.

          Kristy McColl knew that guy too.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sha did, aye….but he’s a liar and I’m not sure about Clement.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Greg G.

          Thanks, again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nevertheless, I do not care whether it is interpolated as far as evidence for Jesus goes because it only provides evidence for the existence of Christians who read the gospels, particularly Luke, which is the only gospel that has Pontius Pilate.

          This is just more of Clemently obfuscation tactics.

          Nobody here raised the fictional Pilate ballix…he did, along with his imaginary pre-1961 Pilate Mythicist atheists.

          He is now displaying a level of dishonesty that is demonstrable. The problem with telling lies is the need for a good memory.

        • adam

          “He is now displaying a level of dishonesty that is demonstrable.”

          Demonstrably Apologetics.

          Can’t do apologetics without dishonesty….

        • Ignorant Amos

          I guess so indeed.

        • adam

          It is sad, but demonstrably true.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So, we throw out the baby with the bath water when it comes to anything that corroborates the NT.

          The problems with the Tacitus passage are a lot more numerous than his just getting Pilates credentials up the left.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Tacitus

          “The Prospect of a Christian Interpolation in Tacitus, Annals 15.44” Vigiliae Christianae, Volume 68, Issue 3

        • Greg G.

          So, we throw out the baby with the bath water when it comes to anything that corroborates the NT.

          We only suspect Christian interpolation because there are so many examples of it. Here is some evidence of it:

          Hippolytus, Josephus, Essenes: Christian editing of Josephus?

          Hippolytus often quote Josephus but sometimes it turns into something else. Perhaps his source was altered or he was altering the text but it does not agree with the Josephus we have received. Usually it is more plausible that what we have is what Josephus wrote. If Hippolytus has an altered copy, his contemporary, Origen, may have had an altered copy. If Eusebius knew there were altered copies about, he might have been inspired to add his own edits. The Josephus versions we have are thought to be from Eusebius’ version, which would likely have been from Origen.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Sooooo, you are explaining why you throw out the baby, too. There is a difference between a healthy skepticism and an unhealthy cynicism.

        • Greg G.

          I told you I am not throwing the Tacitus quote out with the bath water. I only pointed out that there is reason to be skeptical of such quotations. How do you get “we should throw out the baby with the bath water” from “We only suspect Christian interpolation because there are so many examples of it”? Are you trying to argue against what you wish we were saying?

          Those quotations are irrelevant because they only show that Christians existed in the second century and say nothing about a first century Jesus besides the reflections of the gospels.

          The gospels appear to be based on fictional literature. The early epistles seem to be based on misunderstandings of the OT scripture. All we have is evidence of a path for the false belief in the existence of a first century myth.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You only accept Tacitus because of the stone. Take that away, and Tacitus is just another conspiracy theory like Paul or the Gospels.

          I mentioned the atheist putting forward the theory that the stone was a fake because this is the mindset. We choose to believe whatever we want, and then rationalize it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If the Tacitus passage is completely genuine, then he doesn’t know that Pilate was a Prefect.

          I mentioned the atheist putting forward the theory that the stone was a fake because this is the mindset.

          What a loada codswallop. You are making crap up to make a point that isn’t there.

          We choose to believe whatever we want, and then rationalize it.

          Yeah…I was a Christian once myself…no way could I rationalise it.

          We can’t chose to believe whatever we want ya clown.

        • Greg G.

          You only accept Tacitus because of the stone. Take that away, and Tacitus is just another conspiracy theory like Paul or the Gospels.

          False. I do not accept the Tacitus quote because of the Stone. The Stone increases my skepticism of it being authentic. I think it may have been a conspiracy because we have so much evidence of other writings that have been altered by Christians. Note that I said “may have been” for a reason. I accept things on the strength of the evidence. If the Tacitus quote had said that Pilate was a prefect, the Stone would strengthen my acceptance of it.

          I do not think Paul or the Gospels were part of a conspiracy theory. I think Paul was sincere but mistaken in his reading of the Old Testament. He was not the only one. I am torn as to whether the Gospel of Mark was sincere but mistaken or simply a fictional story written for entertainment. I think the other gospels were probably sincere but mistaken.

          I mentioned the atheist putting forward the theory that the stone was a fake because this is the mindset. We choose to believe whatever we want, and then rationalize it.

          That is projection on your part. My opinion is based on the strength of the evidence. I have no emotional stake in this. If I see reliable evidence that I am wrong, I will change my position. I was a Christian and wanted to stay a Christian but the evidence said otherwise. The evidence is more important to me than my beliefs.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Snap!

        • adam

          “I mentioned the atheist putting forward the theory that the stone was a fake because this is the mindset. We choose to believe whatever we want, and then rationalize it.”

          the primary basis of FAITH, for religions

        • Clement Agonistes

          It’s always easier to recognize our traits in others, isn’t it?

        • adam

          Sometimes, although I dont do religious ‘faith’ or supernatural MAGIC.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b12fa1635e121ebbb3409640826d721ba93278771f0064bd133804faa3f01397.png

        • Clement Agonistes

          Do you think that quote applies to your trust in atheism’s “truths”?

        • Michael Neville

          There are no “truths” in atheism nor are there truths. The only thing atheism has is a disbelief in gods. No faith is needed for a lack of belief. Evidence will change our minds. You have any?

        • Clement Agonistes

          “There are no “truths” in atheism nor are there truths.”

          Is that true?

          OK, you kind of just handed that one to me, but that is the risk of cliches.

          True or false:
          1) You are certain that if you do not see evidence, you will not believe in God.
          2) When you die, you are sure that will be the end of your consciousness.

          “Faith” is an synonym of “trust”. Do you trust your judgement about God? Do you have trust that you are right?

        • Michael Neville

          I handed nothing to you. I stated a simple fact, a fact so simple that even you should be able to understand what I wrote. But maybe I’m overestimating you. Do you need a hint about what “disbelief in gods” means?

        • Clement Agonistes

          OK, now this IS awkward. You stated that there is no such thing as truth. I (jokingly) asked you if that statement is true. This is when we both laugh and you recognize how absurd such a statement is.

          Instead, you double-down, stating that what you said is a FACT…. as if a fact is something separate for the truth…. which does not exist… except that would require knowing that is true… and there is no such thing as truth.

          My mind is spinning from the absurdity. Yet, there it is, WITH the added element of insulting MY intelligence … for pointing out the absurdity.

          Yes, of course i understand what disbelief in God means. Unlike you, I also understand all the ramifications of that statement. I attempted to soldier on through your absurdity, trying to treat you with respect, and you can’t even comment on the content of that post, choosing to insult me instead, as if that is a logical argument.

          Charity has its limits, Michael. I can’t continue this Theater of The Absurd if that is all you can muster up. I presented my case in as passive of a manner as I could to spare your pride. I’m not going to waste any more time if cliches and indignation are the best you can do.

        • Ignorant Amos

          https://image.slidesharecdn.com/biaspdf3505/95/biaspdf-5-638.jpg?cb=1422625078

          The lesson to be learned today is simply to be aware of your own biases, your own perceptions, and what might be influencing you at a given moment in time. To follow a ‘gut feeling’ is not wrong, especially if there is time to doubt it before accepting it as a basis to make a decision. Be aware of your own biases; allow doubt to strengthen your convictions. Find a counter-argument that either leads you further into doubt or further into conviction. Just be careful not to perpetually seek confirmation of your biases; otherwise, your perspective, for better or worse, will never change and neither will your perceptions. To paraphrase Francis Bacon once said, “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your complete absence of self-awareness is noted.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • epeeist

          Instead, you double-down, stating that what you said is a FACT

          Propositional statements are true or false, the statement “Pontius Pilate was Prefect of Judea” is true if and only if Pontius Pilate was Prefect of Judea.

          Facts are truth-makers for propositional statements.

        • Clement Agonistes

          OK, let’s look at how that applies in this situation. Michael stated, “”There are no “truths” in atheism nor are there truths.”

          So, the propositional statement is that there is no such thing as truth. As an exercise in logic, if one accepts the proposition as being true, and applies it to the statement, how does one know that the statement is true?

          I just assumed that the absurdity of that statement was self-evident. If there is no such thing as truth, then the statement is not true.

          It isn’t meant to be a comment which adds to the conversation. It is meant to be a conversation-ender. Note that I asked several questions, and have yet to get an answer. No one wants to address those core issues of the conversation. Adam just ignores it (perhaps it is the only topic he doesn’t have a meme for). Michael goes the red herring route, and you change the subject (or, charitably, don’t know what the subject was)

        • epeeist

          So, the propositional statement is that there is no such thing as truth.

          It isn’t particularly well worded, but I think I see what he is getting at.

          Take the classical propositions “All ravens are black”. Every time we see a raven and it happens to be black then this provides backing for the statement. However this does not make the statement true in the sense of “universal, necessary and certain”, it is defeasible by the existence of single non-black raven.

          So would you count the proposition as true in that it corresponds to the facts, or would you simply mark it has having some level of probability?

          Your answer is crucial in that it carries over into a discussion of what counts as knowledge. To use the classical definition we know p (for example that all ravens are black) if p is true, we believe p and we have justification for that belief.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Oh, for the love of pete, why do we have to play this game?

          “With rare exceptions, ravens are black.”

          There is an objective truth, and we all know it exists.

          Look, if you guys don’t want to discuss the topic, just say so.

        • epeeist

          Oh, for the love of pete, why do we have to play this game?

          Your petulance at being presented with a brief summary on theories of truth and epistemology are noted.

          But if you aren’t interested then I see no point in further discussion on the topic.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Evasion duly noted. Hope springs eternal, even in the absence of reasonable expectation for it.

        • epeeist

          At the moment I can’t decide whether the things I am saying are beyond your comprehension or whether you are simply a complete arse.

          It is very obvious that you have little if any knowledge of even the most basic of concepts when it comes to that branch of philosophy called epistemology.

        • Clement Agonistes

          My question(s) only relate to epistemology in a tangential manner. I presume that all of you have gone through such an exercise, and arrived at your conclusion. So, I ask:

          1) Do you trust that process? I conclude that yes, it is true that you trust that process (or else you wouldn’t have your conclusion), and

          2) If there were evidence to the contrary, would your process would not have produced a different result? Again, yes, that is true.

          So, that statement from Hebrews applies to virtually every conclusion a human being embraces as true.

          If I am missing something here, you have not explained it. I may well be an ass, but but I am one who is capable of comprehending a good explanation. That is why I keep attempting to explain my thought in different ways rather than resort of name-calling.

        • Kodie

          Don’t kid yourself that you’re not name-calling. When you don’t listen and give a relevant response and you keep trolling like a typical dishonest Christian with your tropes and faith beliefs to misrepresent what the atheist position is, you’re calling dirty names. Are you hard-of-learning? What you’re getting back is what you give out.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Spoing! spoing! spoing! spoingity-spoing-spoing!

          There goes another box of meter’s ffs.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But you aren’t playing by Clement’s rules….

        • Greg G.

          So, the propositional statement is that there is no such thing as truth.

          No, it isn’t. Atheism is only about one thing, and that is the disbelief in any gods. It is nothing but not accepting a solitary proposition. It is not the proposition that no gods exist. There is no proposition to it.

          You may as well argue that “bald” is a hair color, that “OFF” is a television channel, that “perfect health” is a form of disease.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Greg, I’m not making this up. Here is what he said, “”There are no “truths” in atheism nor are there truths.”

          Now, he could have clarified. He could have done a re-do. Instead he fired back that it is a fact that there are no truths.

          What you stated are truths. Yet, there are no truths. If there are no truths, then nothing can ever be discussed. There is no proposition.

          Now, we can put that absurdity aside, or blindly embrace the cliche as some sort of well-thought-out philosophy. IMO, this whole diversion is for the purpose of killing an conversation that was going in an uncomfortable direction.

          Just tell me that you do not have trust your own decisions; that you do not have confidence that you know what you are talking about, and I will drop this like a hot potato. Otherwise, let’s stop this game-playing about terms we all understand clearly.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, atheism makes no claims. Zero claims means zero truth claims.

          Atheism rejects one truth claim without accepting its converse. It is not a philosophy as it is only the rejection of one claim.

          Just tell me that you do not have trust your own decisions; that you do not have confidence that you know what you are talking about, and I will drop this like a hot potato. Otherwise, let’s stop this game-playing about terms we all understand clearly.

          I trust my own decisions as strongly as I trust the evidence by decisions are based on. If I find my understanding of the evidence was wrong, or contradictory evidence comes to light, I no longer trust my decision. Trusting a decision that appears to be wrong is irrational.

          If I buy a stock, it is because my research leads me to believe the stock price will be going up, but I set a stop-loss because I may be wrong. I learned the hard way to not hold onto a stock until the price comes back up to the price you bought it in order to not lose money on it. Monkeys are caught by putting an orange in a box with holes big enough for a monkey hand to reach in but too small to remove the fruit. The monkey can’t escape because it refuses to let go of the prize. We have to retrain our monkey brains to be more rational.

        • Clement Agonistes

          In that case, I make no truth claims, either. How can you know that i make no truth claims – well, because i just told you so. That is absurd. The mere act of rejecting a truth claim is a truth claim.

          Do you have faith that not making a truth claim is the proper course of action? Great, check Step One. Do you have a level of certainty that leads you to not make a truth claim? Great. case closed. We don’t even need the absurdity of denial to address the issue from Adam’s meme.

          Someday, I’d like to see how agnosticism fits into this game.

        • Kodie

          You’re really stuck on the Christian belief that atheist say “there is no god” as a claim. There doesn’t seem to be any god, just like there doesn’t appear to be a herd of zebras in my apartment. You are making a claim that
          (a) there’s a god
          (b) god created everything
          (c) god has certain other qualities
          (d) I can’t provide evidence, but you can’t provide evidence god doesn’t exist

          You have a terrible understanding of what it’s like not to believe the theist claims, or what to call it. You call it “faith”, you call it a “truth claim” or something. You believe there are “atheist truths” which you don’t explain. You point to a herd of zebras in my apartment, and I say “I don’t see any zebras”. You say, well they were here when you went out, maybe they’re in the closet. I look in the closet. No zebras. You say, well maybe they shrunk really small and hiding in coat pockets and boots. I look, they’re not there. You say, maybe there’s a small door at the corner at the bottom of your closet they walked through. Nope. You say, maybe they snuck out while we were taking everything out of your closet to look for them, but they were here, I saw them, I felt them. This … this hair is a zebra hair! I say, I do have a cat, it’s a cat hair. You say, that’s a truth claim, you can’t prove it wasn’t from a zebra!

          I mean, I probably could, if I had a microscope, but this is ridiculous. I don’t see any zebras, I don’t see evidence of zebras, I am waiting for you to show me these goddamned fucking zebras you keep talking about and trying to make laws I have to follow to protect these zebras. All I’m saying is not until I believe you. You can go ahead and believe in the zebras, but don’t command me to be delusional like you without any evidence of zebras. I live in a tentative state of waiting for the ridiculous things you say to be in evidence, that is essentially, there are no zebras in my apartment until proven otherwise, not there are no zebras in my apartment, period.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “There are no zebras in my apartment”. Is this a claim or not?

          Well, in light of recent developments, i am changing what i have said in the past. Now,

          (a) I do not believe there is no God.
          (b) I do not believe that God did not create everything.
          (c) God does not have an absence of qualities.
          (d) You reject all evidence.

          (OK, so (d) is still the same…)

          Now, let’s pick up that argument that theists are dishonest for presenting non-disprovable assertions. ROTFLMHO.

        • Kodie

          So, you’re saying there are zebras in my apartment. Good choice, stay stupid.

        • MR

          What is your faith level that there aren’t zebras in your apartment? 😀

        • Kodie

          I’m still not sure there aren’t kangaroos in the neighborhood.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I am asking whether you are making a claim of fact or not when you assert there are no zebras in your apartment.

        • Greg G.

          Define “zebra”. Is spellcheck correcting your attempt to spell “brassiere”?

        • Kodie

          Read carefully – I never said there are no zebras in my apartment. I said I find the claim that there are zebras in my apartment incredible. Before you made the claim that there are zebras in my apartment, it never crossed my mind, because I never saw any. You failed to show them to me, and now I have to have some kind of position regarding your claim: “I don’t believe you.”

        • MR

          It’s an attractive argument because it seems to level the playing field. They don’t see the absurdity of it, and don’t understand that the argument wasn’t made to convince an opposing party; it’s made for them so they don’t have to think about things themselves. It’s like they think they’ve been given a new piece of spiritual armor to combat atheism. Meanwhile, we’re like, “Why do you keep waving around that wooden stick?”

        • Greg G.

          In that case, I make no truth claims, either. How can you know that i make no truth claims – well, because i just told you so. That is absurd. The mere act of rejecting a truth claim is a truth claim.

          Saying “I don’t think I will win the lottery if I buy five tickets” is not the same as saying “I think I will not win the lottery if I buy five tickets.” I still might buy five tickets but I won’t retire unless I do win which is the first case. If I thought the latter, I wouldn’t buy the tickets.

          If I say that I don’t know that there is life in another part of the universe, I am not claiming that I know there is no life elsewhere in the universe.

          I can say that I believe there is no being that is omnipotent and benevolent because that combination of properties is incompatible with the existence of suffering but I cannot rule out some vague amorphous blob that did something once that caused reality to exist.

          There is a difference between saying I do not believe something and saying I believe it is not the case.

        • Clement Agonistes

          If you made those 2 statements to any random, rational person on the street, they are going to hear them saying the exact same thing. You guys have been living in this echo chamber for so long that you have lost touch with reality.

          Honestly, I am laughing in disbelief that this conversation is even happening. If you guys are pranking me, I’m calling you on it.

        • Kodie

          Maybe they don’t know how to speak English.

        • Greg G.

          Anybody with normal intelligence or above can see the difference in the pairs of statements, especially after it has been pointed out to them. I don’t why you can’t…. Oooh.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Guilty.

        • epeeist

          If you made those 2 statements to any random, rational person on the street, they are going to hear them saying the exact same thing.

          Accepted, but it doesn’t make them correct. In doxastic logic the first is written:

          ~s:ps has no belief in p

          while the second is written

          s:~ps has belief in not p

          As you can see they are different. As for “pranking”, the notation is taken from Gensler’s Introduction to Logic. You can look up the details on his web site.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Philmonomer

          a) I believe “Philmonomer owns a dog.”
          b) I believe “Philmonomer doesn’t own a dog.”

          Which statement describes you? Neither, right? You have no reason to believe one or the other. You reject both. You can say:

          I don’t believe “Philmonomer owns a dog.”

          But that is NOT the same as saying “I believe ‘Philmonomer doesn’t own a dog.'” THAT is a positive statement about the world, that would (in theory) require some evidence (for example, to answer the question “Why do you believe Philmonomer does not own a dog?”)

          Similarly, “I don’t believe ‘God exists'” is NOT the same as “I believe ‘God doesn’t exist.'”

        • Clement Agonistes

          You and Epeeist have done a wonderful job of clarifying that point. I see now the distinction you are making. It is a nuanced one, to be sure. In looking up the definition, both are used.

          I’d like to run with your analogy for a bit. All analogies fail at some point, but I think it can help clarify some of my points, as well.

          First, the question we would be addressing is, Does Phil own a dog?” (Does God exist?). My initial reply would be, “I don’t know.” I guess that makes one an agnostic.

          However, one doe not have to lay eyes on the dog in person to be convinced the dog exists. For instance, one might observe that Phil buys dog food. But, there are other plausible explanations for buying dog food. One might also observe how loving Phil is around dogs, or that he has dog hair on his clothes. One might even observe all of these on a subliminal level and just have a “sense” that Phil owns a dog.

          It wouldn’t take much to move one from the unevidenced “don’t believe” to the evidenced “don’t believe.” But, even that would depend on whether one cared whether or not Phil owned a dog. Most atheists I know aren’t the type to discuss it in a forum like this. They are far more concerned with the day-today cares of life. Most Christians, IMO, fall into a similar category as well. If they do give it much thought, they are content with “Any port in a storm” – just finding an excuse to continue with their beliefs.

          Which, in a roundabout way brings me back to my criticism of the theme of this article – the Wisconsin atheist was creating a way to dismiss uncomfortable facts that make continuing to believe what they wanted to believe more difficult.

        • Susan

          You and Epeeist have done a wonderful job of clarifying that point.

          Yes. They made excellent points of logic. Kodie also did an excellent job of illustrating the position of someone who doesn’t believe what you believe vs. someone who does.

          All analogies fail at some point.

          Do they ever. This is why we call them analogies.

          On points of logic, epeeist and Philnomer and Kodie’s analogies still hold fast.

          My initial reply would be, “I don’t know.” I guess that makes one an agnostic.

          So far, so good.

          However, one doe not have to lay eyes on the dog in person to be convinced the dog exists.

          Because we know dogs exist. And that many people own them.

          So… here is where you’ve missed the point of the analogy.

          Phil and epeeist have tried to explain logical problems (using analogies that… point to epistemological requirements) and all you’ve done is pretend that (whatever you mean by “God”) exists as reliably as a dog exists..

        • MR

          To continue the analogy:

          Does Susan own a snow fairy?” My initial reply would be, “I don’t know.” I guess that makes one an agnostic.

          However, one does not have to lay eyes on the snow fairy in person to be convinced the snow fairy exists.

          Oops. Fail.

        • Philmonomer

          First, the question we would be addressing is, Does Phil own a dog?” (Does God exist?). My initial reply would be, “I don’t know.” I guess that makes one an agnostic.

          I, too, am an agnostic. I don’t know if God exists or not. I am also an atheist: I suspect the most likely state of affairs is that no God exists. (Specifically, deism could be true: God got the whole thing started and walked away. The universe would look exactly the same. I think it is hugely unlikely that an interventionist God is true. That is, a God who cares about us or intervenes in human affairs.)

          However, one doe not have to lay eyes on the dog in person to be convinced the dog exists. For instance, one might observe that Phil buys dog food. But, there are other plausible explanations for buying dog food. One might also observe how loving Phil is around dogs, or that he has dog hair on his clothes. One might even observe all of these on a subliminal level and just have a “sense” that Phil owns a dog.

          Sure.

          It wouldn’t take much to move one from the unevidenced “don’t believe” to the evidenced “don’t believe.”

          I’m not sure I understand this sentence. Are you saying it would be easy not to believe, despite the evidence? That is, despite the evidence, one still doesn’t believe “Phil owns a dog?” (Because, for example, the evidence is weak?) Sure, that could happen. But then you need an explanation for why 1) you view the evidence as weak or 2) maybe it’s outweighed by evidence to the contrary. Regardless, you’d need some explanation.

          But, even that would depend on whether one cared whether or not Phil owned a dog.

          Ok. That seems trite, but sure. Most people who write blog posts or comment on atheist blog posts care whether or not God exists. (Or at least find the question worthy of a response.)

          Most atheists I know aren’t the type to discuss it in a forum like this. They are far more concerned with the day-today cares of life. Most Christians, IMO, fall into a similar category as well. If they do give it much thought, they are content with “Any port in a storm” – just finding an excuse to continue with their beliefs.

          Most athiests I know care about these things. At least they have reasons for why they think the way they do.

          Which, in a roundabout way brings me back to my criticism of the theme of this article – the Wisconsin atheist was creating a way to dismiss uncomfortable facts that make continuing to believe what they wanted to believe more difficult.

          The Wisconsin atheist? I’m not sure what this refers to. Something in the original blog post? I guess I should reread it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “I’m not sure I understand this sentence. Are you saying it would be easy
          not to believe, despite the evidence? That is, despite the evidence,
          one still doesn’t believe “Phil owns a dog?” (Because, for example, the
          evidence is weak?) Sure, that could happen. But then you need an
          explanation for why 1) you view the evidence as weak or 2) maybe it’s
          outweighed by evidence to the contrary.”

          The nuance, if I remember correctly, was that “I don’t believe Phil owns a dog” implies that there is no dog to be owned. whereas “I believe Phil doesn’t own a dog” implies that there is a dog.” In one case, there is evidence enough to imply a dog; in the other case, not. We could have evidence enough to think that Phil might – propositionally – own a dog. now.

        • Philmonomer

          I think this misses the nuance. (And BTW, you are right, in most common every day speech, “I don’t believe Phil owns a dog” and “I believe Phil doesn’t own a dog” are the same thing).

          There is, technically, a difference though. The first one–“I don’t believe ‘Phil owns a dog'” means (to my mind) “I have no opinion on the matter as to whether Phil owns a dog . I don’t believe he owns a dog, I also don’t believe he doesn’t own a dog. I simply have no opinion on the matter. I don’t know.”

          The second one, “I believe ‘Phil doesn’t own a dog,'” means that you have an affirmative belief about the state of Phil’s ownership of a dog. You believe he does not own a dog. Presumably, you have some reason to believe that.

          I think most of this debate/nuance is sort-of silly in the world of God-belief. Most people either have a belief in (a) God, or they lack a belief. I don’t think most people see it as being, essentially, a 50-50 proposition (although I suppose there are some out there), and thus have no opinion on the matter. Most people (in the Western world) either see it as likely to be true (or is definitely true) that God exists, or likely to not be true (or almost certainly) not true.

          I think where this comes into play is who bears the burden of proof in a discussion about God. An atheist can say “I don’t believe “God exists.” and maintain that they have no burden of proof (in the same way “I don’t believe “Phil owns a dog.” means you have no burden of proof as to whether Phil owns a dog.) The burden of proof would be on the person who states “Phil owns a dog” is a true statement about Phil’s ownership of a dog. Presumably, that person would have to explain why they think that/what evidence they have for Phil’s ownership of a dog.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which, in a roundabout way brings me back to my criticism of the theme of this article – the Wisconsin atheist was creating a way to dismiss uncomfortable facts that make continuing to believe what they wanted to believe more difficult.

          Or perhaps you are over analysing the whole “50-100” year thing and want it to be something that it’s not. Maybe the Wisconsin Atheists just don’t think the issue needs to be so exact in order to get the message across. The two sentences in the following paragraph after the offending claim screams that to me. Try reading the whole lot in context, it makes a world of difference ya know?

        • epeeist

          Someday, I’d like to see how agnosticism fits into this game.

          A-gnosticism uses the same privative alpha as a-theist, meaning “without”. So agnosticism means without knowledge while atheist means without belief. They are two different axes.

          Most atheists are also agnostics, they do not have belief in the existence of gods but they admit they cannot know for certain that such entities do not exist.

          Theists, if they are honest, are also agnostic in that though they do believe they cannot know for certain that their god does exist.

        • Greg G.

          Theists, if they are honest, are also agnostic in that though they do believe they cannot know for certain that their god does exist.

          It’s funny when they insist they know God but tell us God is infinite so we can’t comprehend him.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I have doubts, if that is what you mean. However, as you define “atheist”, it sounds like agnosticism to me. In both cases, the person is keeping their options open if evidence comes along. Both have a default of averring that no God exists. In terms of confidence, both seem to have a sufficient level of certainty based on what they have (not) seen.

          I would expect that, in spite of the bluster, atheists and agnostics have doubts as well. My observation with Christians is that outbursts of the type I experience here go hand-in-hand with doubt. IMO, anyone who says they have no doubts is either a liar or a fool.

        • Greg G.

          If you make a claim, then you have the burden of proof. Most definitions of gods are contrived to be untestable, so what it the point in taking the burden of proof? But the god of many Christian types is supposed to be both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, but the existence of suffering is incompatible with that combination of properties, so we can rule that one out.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You and I discussed biologic programming. You pointed out that there could be conflicting programs at work, so one might take precedence over another.

          Last night my wife and I were discussing motorcycle helmets. Even when the laws required them, some people refused to wear them. So, in spite of a law that was for their benefit – benevolent, they rebelled, and in some cases brought grievous harm (evil) on themselves. They had the Free Will to disobey and reject benevolence. They rejected that benevolence on the grounds that IT was evil – trying to keep them from enjoying the wind in their hair.

          The undisprovable aspect of this is that what we perceive as evil may be brought on by our own actions, may be misunderstood to be evil, and/or could serve some greater good (a program which takes precedence). So, no, we can’t rule that one out (unless we are also all-knowing and all-wise).

        • Almost all atheists are agnostics as well.

        • Michael Neville

          As I already knew, you’re confused about atheism and agnosticism. As epeeist told you, atheism is about belief and agnosticism is about knowledge.

          Do I know if gods exist? No I don’t. There is a possibility that one or more gods as commonly defined and described do actually exist. There is also the possibility that every proton in our galaxy will spontaneously decay into a muon, a pion and a scattering of neutrinos in the next ten minutes. I consider both possibilities to be on the same order of magnitude, But I cannot rule out either possibility because I don’t know if proton decay will happen or if gods exist.

          However due to the complete and utter lack of any plausible evidence for the existence of gods, I don’t believe they exist. That makes me an atheist.,

          BTW, you’re still a condescending prig and ignorant to boot. But you do have a large vocabulary, which hides your ignorance.

          Let’s get back to your claim that I made a “truth” or truth statement. I didn’t since I just said that atheism is the disbelief in gods. A truth, “truth”, TRUTH or even T*R*U*T*H*! statement would include a statement about the existence of gods, not about my belief. The fact of my disbelief is merely a claim, it isn’t a truth, since I make no statements about whether or not gods exist because, as I said before, I don’t know if they do or do not exist.

          See, I knew you needed to have atheism explained to you, even though you thought you didn’t.

        • epeeist

          However, as you define “atheist”, it sounds like agnosticism to me.

          Do I have belief in the existence of gods? No, therefore I am an atheist.

          Do I know for certain that gods do not exist? No, therefore I am an agnostic.

          I am an agnostic atheist because I do not know for certain that gods do next exist but given the lack of substantive evidence I lack any belief that they do.

          Just to confuse you further, which doesn’t seem to be too difficult to do, I am going to throw another word into the mix. My position could also be described as igtheist in that I have never seen theists come up with a definition for their god which provides a common and comprehensive list of verifiable properties.

        • adam

          “In that case, I make no truth claims, either.”

          So you dont claim bible God is real?

        • Ignorant Amos

          They just don’t get it.

        • Michael Neville

          Truth is an ideal which can be approached but never achieved.

          Unlike you, I also understand all the ramifications of that statement.

          If I can presume on your patronizing condescension for a moment, could you please tell me which ramifications of atheism am I missing. Please be specific because I’se a poore iggnerant athiest who dont’ nowe all them thar ramerifications cause I is iggerant.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, let’s start with the “truth” (Patronizing Warning: There are no “truths”): Atheists believe there is no God. Good so far?

          Now, let’s move on to answering the questions I asked since (PW) you will bend over backward to avoid answering them.

          1) TRUE. You are certain that if you do not see evidence of God, you will not believe believe in God.

          You have stated as much, and it is a staple of atheist cliches. So, we’re still good?

          2) TRUE: When you die, you are certain that there is no Heaven or Hell.

          If there is no God, this stands to reason. If you had doubts about either option, the stakes are too high to simply ignore. Good?

          Now, let’s tie these back together. Adam’s quote from Hebrews is that faith is being sure of what we hope for (you hope death is the end of consciousness), and we are certain of what we do not see (you have not seen evidence of God and are therefore certain there is no God.

          My question to Adam was whether that statement from Hebrews applied to atheism. Clearly, it does. Atheists have trust (faith) that their beliefs are correct.

        • epeeist

          Atheists believe there is no God. Good so far?

          No.

          To reiterate a post I have made before and the recent one on the nature of truth.

          Let’s take the statement “Gods exist”. The negation of this is “Gods do not exist”. Now consider the sentence “I believe that gods exist”, how does one negate this. There are three possibilities but only two are of interest. The first is to negate the belief, thus “I do not believe gods exist” while the second is to negate the proposition, “I believe that gods do not exist”.

          The first is the one that the very large majority of atheists I have come across would commit themselves to.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Well, in that case, I present a belated homage to Star Wars Day with the Yoda version of my creed: “Not believe there is no God, do I.”

          Look, pick your own wording so we can move on to the interesting part of the post.

        • epeeist

          Look, pick your own wording

          I already did.

        • Clement Agonistes

          And yet ….

        • epeeist

          I tried to show you as politely as I could what the position taken by the majority of atheists.

          Again, if you aren’t interested then why should I bother continuing the discussion?

        • Clement Agonistes

          If you don’t want to discuss the topic, why go through the pretense. I asked very simple, fundamental questions related a trite, cliched meme, and you’d think I had asked you guys to flap your arms and fly to the Moon. Clearly, this is a delicate subject. If you don’t want to discuss it, don’t discuss it. But don’t do Swan Lake trying to dance around it.

          If the premise of the entire discussion is a quest to discover the truth, but one party states that there is no such thing as truth, then the discussion is pointless for both parties.

          Regardless of what the wording is of the atheist position, the question still applies – do a person have faith in their position, whatever it is? If we are going to ridicule people for having confidence in their position, are we prepared to apply that same standard to our own position?

        • epeeist

          But don’t do Swan Lake trying to dance around it.

          I haven’t, I plainly stated that the majority of atheists take the position that they lack belief in the existence of gods. That’s it, no more than that.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Understood. We won’t talk about whether atheists have any level of confidence in their positions.

        • Kodie

          I have a lot of confidence that theist arguments are not substantial enough, and often too silly, for any adult to believe. Yet billions of adults are convinced. I believe those adults exist.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Finally! An admission of faith.

        • Kodie

          Do you love misrepresenting people so you can “win”? Not one honest Christian so far.

        • Clement Agonistes

          And you wonder why Christians do not respond to your posts. …

        • Kodie

          Because they know I’m not buying their bullshit, I’m guessing. You should all figure out at least one new argument, something that isn’t so weak, makes you look like a weak thinker.

        • MR

          makes you look like a weak thinker.

          It’s like an inability to hold the opposing viewpoint in mind to even consider it. They just can’t seem to make that mental switch sometimes. “Must. Not. Consider. Opposing. Viewpoint…. Must. Not. Think.” Ask them to repeat your own argument to make sure they understand it, and watch them dance and weave and feint. It’s like the third rail. “If I touch it, I die!”

        • Greg G.

          Rational people apportion their beliefs according to the strength of evidence supporting that belief.

          Theists believe things according to how much they wish it to be true with no regard for the evidence or the complete lack of it.

          It’s a matter of what the confidence is in. Why have confidence in your wishes?

        • Clement Agonistes

          If I said that my brother loves me, and you have never met or interacted with my brother, then I would have evidence of love, yet you would not.

          Now, that evidence could be bogus. My brother may hate my guts (hard to believe, right?), but be faking it. The evidence is mostly based on my wishful thinking. Your version is that no rational person would ever believe another person loves them unless they had incontrovertible evidence of that love …. which does not exist.

          There’s something to be said for wishful thinking.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t know for sure whether my wife loves me but she treats me well. I don’t have enough money to make it worth her while to do it if she didn’t love me. So the evidence is very strong that she does.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Well, thank goodness you are not trying to defend that proposition here. There are lots of other women you do not think love you. Therefore, her love does not exist.

          And, you have yet to show evidence they consider to be evidence (they have not experienced your wife’s love as you have). Without evidence that convinces them, you are just a [insult of choice].

          If your wife truly loved you, you would have absolute proof of it. That’s the way love works. Well, according to those who don’t want your wife’s love to exist. After all, many of them used to believe just like you, but don’t any more. Surely, that must carry a lot of weight with you?

          So, why have confidence when it is only wishful thinking?

        • MR

          It’s like claiming that not believing in dragons is a faith position. What’s your faith confidence level for not believing in Zeus? Phht. They don’t hear how stupid it sounds. The two don’t equate.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Those words were too confusing…pick different ones.

        • Pofarmer

          Pascals Wager

          Still sucks.

          Manipulative asshole you are.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Does Ms. Reynolds know you are not in class?!

        • Pofarmer

          I haven’t been in class in 30 years.

          Asshole.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Sorry. It was an understandable mistake, given your adolescent name-calling and inability to participate in an adult conversation.

        • Pofarmer

          There is no “Adult conversation” when you start invoking Pascals wager and threatening people with Hell.

          Fuck.

          You.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I did not threaten anyone, Perhaps if you had stayed in class instead of wandering the hallways, your reading comprehension would be better.

          And you’re definitely not going to have sex with me with that attitude. Flowers? Candy?

        • Michael Neville

          You really are a condescending, patronizing prig. Do you practice in front of a mirror or does it come naturally to you?

          1. Yes, because none of the evidence for the existence of gods (remember, there’s more than your favorite deity) is convincing to me, I remain unconvinced of the existence of gods. If you or anyone else presents convincing evidence for gods then I will be convinced of their existence. Whether or not they’re worthy of worship is an entirely different question.

          2. When you and I die we will revert back to the condition we were in before we were conceived. Heaven and Hell are inventions of people either afraid of death or wanting to control others with promises of eternal rewards or threats of eternal punishment.

          The usual concept of Hell held presently derives more from Dante and John Milton than it does from the Bible. The Christian heaven, singing hymns of praise to a narcissistic megalomaniac, would become very boring after about the first ten or fifteen seconds.

          Other Heavens are equally unattractive. The Jewish Heaven is an eternal debating society arguing over Talmudic minutiae, a topic of minimal interest to me. The Islamic Heaven is the wet dream of a 15 year old male virgin, I stopped having those dreams when I became sexually active. The Norse Heaven is a perpetual brawl and steak house, culminating in a battle where everyone dies (what happens after Ragnarok is never explained). The Buddhist and Hindu afterlives are good, essentially becoming nothing, which is what I think will happen anyway only without the messiness of reincarnation.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t know what a “prig” is, but it must be something bad. That said, I’m not sure how practicing in front of a mirror would make me a better one. Typing out words on my computer seems to be all that is required to earn me the invective.

          As to points 1 & 2, we seem to be in agreement. You confidently hope there is only death at the end of your life, and are confidant that what you do not see does not exist. These are the components of “faith” in the quote Adam provided from Hebrews about which you needed clarification.

          I asked Adam if he thought that quote applied to him as well as Christians. I think it does. So do you. So, next time there is a Prig Convention, we can share a table together.

        • Michael Neville

          No, we are not in agreement. There is zero faith involved in not believing in gods, just zero evidence for their existence. But you’re one of those Christians who are convinced you understand atheism better than atheists do and like to condescend to those who disagree with you, so I won’t bother to try to explain reality to you.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You are putting words in my mouth that I did not say.

          Also, “trust” and “faith” are synonyms. “Faith” just carries baggage for you.

        • If faith carries baggage but truth doesn’t, then they’re not synonyms.

          Remember the book I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist? What definition of “faith” are they using?

        • Clement Agonistes

          “If faith carries baggage but truth doesn’t, then they’re not synonyms.”

          That is kind of my point – for Michael, they are not synonyms. But, according to the dictionary (and thesaurus), they are. Michael has an emotional; knee-jerk reaction to the term.

          No, I don’t really remember the book. It’s a cute turn of a phrase though, isn’t it? Kinda like that “Everything I learned in Kindergarten” or whatever. Am I supposed to reject the dictionary for the cute book?

        • Some definitions equate faith and trust. Others don’t. Simply from a language standpoint, conflating them seems like a bad idea. Two different definitions—belief firmly ground by evidence vs. belief not the result of following evidence and not dissuaded by counter-evidence—are useful.

          The book was written by Geisler and Turek and is an in-your-face refutation that faith and trust are equivalent (since in the book they make the very point you’re making).

        • Michael Neville

          Faith and trust are not synonyms. They’re related but not identical. I am not a scientist of any flavor. I have trust in science because the experts have reached consensuses about various aspects of science and the popularizations they give of science make sense to me. But the main point of trust is that the experts seem to know what they’re doing. Faith is believing in something with zero evidence to support it. You believe in your god even though there’s zip point shit evidence to even suggest that your god is nothing but a figment of collective imaginations which don’t even agree with each other.

          You want trust and faith to be synonyms because then you can pretend that atheism has faith just like religious superstition does. That pretense lets you feel superior to atheists and claim that we’re as faith-driven as you are.

        • Clement Agonistes

          1. Yes, they are synonyms. I could play the part of Mr. Sarcasm, and direct you to the dictionary, but rather than add to your pain, here it is for you:

          faith

          /fāTH/

          noun 1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something:

          The … First … Definition … is trust”

          … And, right along with that is “confidence”. This is in harmony with the Hebrews definition that Adam was belittling. Belittling other people is the easiest thing there is to do, and it accomplishes nothing positive. You guys’ reaction to the simple, logical, observation that Adam’s insult applies equally to his own thoughts should at least tell you how little you like be treated the way you treat those with different thoughts.

          2. You and I could be separated at birth. Once again, we agree about something – “scientific consensus.” I was hammered by your comrades for appealing to the SC about the NT. Science, of course, is of only marginal help is establishing the truth or falsehood of God’s existence. What little evidence there is will be instantly rejected.

          3. I want faith and trust to be synonyms because (a) they are, and (b) I want you guys to be shooting down real arguments of theists, not straw men.

        • Michael Neville

          I gave examples of how trust and faith are not synonyms and I notice you didn’t even try to contradict those examples. As I explained before and you ignored, trust relies on evidence, faith is what you use when you don’t have evidence, as Paul explains so succinctly in Hebrews 11:1.

          You want atheists to have “faith” because you think that will drag us down to your intellectual level. As a result, you refuse to acknowledge that “I don’t believe in the existence of gods” requires no faith at all. Incidentally Adam’s comment was not an insult, merely an observation. If you feel insulted by it that’s your problem, not ours.

          We reject your “evidence” for your god because it isn’t evidence. It’s arguments based on multiple fallacies, slight of hand and wishful thinking. We don’t need science to reject your evidence, logic works just fine.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Paul didn’t write the epistle to the Hebrews, some other anonymous clown wrote it…just saying.

        • The … First … Definition … is trust

          What a curious not-coincidence! I looked up “faith”
          (Merriam-Webster dictionary) and only found “trust” as subdefinition 2b(2). Y’know, it’s almost like they’re not synonyms.

          1
          a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty lost faith in the company’s president
          b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions acted in good faith

          2
          a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
          b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof clinging to the faith that her missing son would one day return (2) : complete trust

          3
          : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs the Protestant faith

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m not sure I follow your point here. Are we definition-shopping? Was the first definition that came up from Bing not good enough? Is “losing faith” in the company’s president not the same as “losing trust” in the company’s president?

        • Sorry–I thought my point was quite clear: faith and trust aren’t synonyms.

        • Kodie

          Why not replace the company’s president with “god”. You will (should) immediately recognize the difference.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Words have different meaning