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5/01/2007                                                                                       View Comments

TO ALL OF YOU CHRISTIAN PASTORS, YOUTH LEADERS, STUDENTS OF THEOLOGY, AND OTHER WISE REALLY SMART PEOPLE WHO ARE HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH Jesus

By Dano

Exactly how does someone getting murdered, by being crucified, make me suitable or deserving to go to heaven, and if this is a requirement by God, that does qualify me to pass through the pearly gates, why do I have to believe it.

If God wanted and needed a sacrifice to himself before he will let anybody into heaven, then when the Romans finished killing Jesus, didn't we all have a ticket to paradise?

God supposedly knows which of us will believe it, and those who won't. What has that got to do with the deal? Once he gets his born of a virgin, boy murdered, then he should be happy. A deal is a deal.

Now I'm not going to ask you to explain how Jesus, and God, and the holy ghost can all three be the same being, or how Jesus knowing he was divine, and immortal could really die, because it would unfairly burden your intellect, so I will stick with the original question.

What has my belief got to do with the whole thing? God got what he wanted, so we all should be admitted to heaven! Case closed!

RIGHT?

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70 comments:

jfraysse said...

Absolutely right, Dano! But I know you didn't really want my opinion, ‘cuz I’m not one of those smart people to whom this topic is addressed. See you in Heaven!

Harlequin said...

You missed out it wasn't even a very good hanging onthe cross... the average was two days. The Big J lasted 4 hours max.

SCOUT said...

SPEAKING OF SACRIFICES: DOESN'T "THE LAW" DEMAND THAT ALL OFFERINGS BE TOTALLY CONSUMED BY FIRE TO BE ACCEPTABLE? I.E. A SWEET SMELLING SAVOR IN HIS NOSTRILS? IF SO, WHY WASN'T THIS LAW FULFILLED? NOT ONLY WAS HE CRUCIFIED, BUT HE SHOULD ALSO BE TOAST. MAYBE THATS WHY OUR PRAYERS NEVER GOT ANSWERED; WE HAD AN INCOMPLETE SACRIFICE! SOME OVERLOOKED FINE PRINT IN THE CONTRACT! MAYBE THATS WHY WE STILL HAVE SIN, SICKNESS, DISEASE, PESTILENCE, PLAGUES, TRINITY BROADCASTING NETWORK, CHRISTIAN RAP MUSIC, PETER POPOFF, ETC, & THE LIST GOES ON & ON & ON........

Chris said...

Although, I wrote the other day that I'm sick of reading rude Christian's bullshit on this site, I really had hoped they would reply to this post. I'm actually surprised to hear the crickets chirping for the past couple days as Christians fall silent.

This is a very "magical" teaching by the church. The first bit of magic is that physical sacrifice somehow solves a spiritual problem. The second bit, given that you can swallow the first, is that you have to accept the free gift of Christ's sacrifice, but there is no clear instruction on how to accept it. You're just supposed to magically know if you've done it right or not. It gets really interesting when you consider that in order to accept the salvation message, it must be presented properly. What about those leaders that fuck it up, and people like us ask intelligent questions that go unanswered and we end up "leaving the fold". Obviously we'll burn in hell for denying Christ, but what is the real reason that we burn in hell though? Is it because of the shortcomings of these leaders, or is it because we chose not to be naive like little children and accept the message with blind faith, in which case it is the shortcomings of nonreligious people who have steered us wrong?

After being presented with dilemmas like this one, the Christian usually comes to the conclusion that "God knows the heart of each person". Well, if that's the case, then why does he need you trying to convince me of something that you've only heard second-hand, and are likely to fuck up in your presentation? Do you think you can do a better job than God can converting me? He apparently had no problem talking directly to people like Moses, the prophets, and Paul. Hell, he even made a donkey speak to get through to people. Jesus himself spoke with thousands of people. Why not ask God to spread his own message instead of entrusting it to sinners who can't do it right? I have a funny feeling we'd hear crickets more often if you did.

Anonymous said...

I just asked someone a question like that. Basically, if Christ died for people (all or at least some), why didn't that sacrifice take effect immediately? Why the necessity to believe (which, after all, is "works" of the mind)? Either what he did was sufficient or it was not.

Despite them saying one doesn't have to "do" anything, there's always that catch. You "gotta believe!"

Doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

Most Christians will refuse to have this dicussion with someone who has taken an apriori position of God's non-existance.
They feel that even if they were able to get you to see, and understand, the internal logic of their theology at this point your underlying premise of Gog's non-existance would still make it a pointless exercise at best.

dano said...

Anonymous wrote:
"Most Christians will refuse to have this dicussion with someone who has taken an apriori position of God's non-existance.
They feel that even if they were able to get you to see, and understand, the internal logic of their theology at this point your underlying premise of Gog's non-existance would still make it a pointless exercise at best.
posted: May 03, 2007  "

Dano's answer to the latest Anonymous:
There is no way to say this, without appearing to have an apriori position about being an ex-Christian on an ex-Christian web site.

I am aware that you do not read much, because if you did you would know, that real live, borned again, true Christians, lurk on this site all the time, trying to answer our questions. They quote bible verse after bible verse, because they usually are not smart enough to understand the concept of "circular reasoning."

Any way, the reason I asked the question in the first place, is that my logic tells me that, if Jesus died as a substitute sacrifice, for me, in order for me to be forgiven for stuff that I might have done wrong, then my believing it is irrelevant!

So I ask again: What does my belief have to do with an event that took place 2000 years ago. He either died for my sins or he didn't!
Dan

Chris said...

chirp, chirp...

chirp, chirp...

Could someone please shut those crickets up?

Well, maybe I'm not giving the Christians enough time to formulate an answer. They have to defend their mythology all the time, they're way too busy for us. Take for example the 50 points brought up on this site:

http://www.godisimaginary.com/

I could devote my life to theology and probably never come up with a sufficient explanation for all of them.

In all seriousness, I wish people had brought up these questions to me a long time ago. I had my own questions, but like so many others here was encouraged not to think, just to have faith. And if that wasn't good enough for me, then "save your questions for heaven" they said. God will answer everything there. If I had come across sites like this one or the one above when I was younger, I could've saved myself a ton of grief.

Please, Christians if you're serious about promoting truth, start using your brains. There are too many people out there who deliberately use religion to take advantage of you. Aside from them, there are millions who have accepted the religious lies and have promoted it themselves because they assumed that all the research had already been done, and every important Christian "truth" has already been proven. This site is full of these people, who luckily have seen the darkness that Christianity really is. There are still millions more.

Some of you Christians might be afraid to think that there may not be a God. I was devastated when I found out, but I wouldn't go back if I had the choice. When I discovered the truth about Christianity, I wanted to kill myself. I felt that I had nothing to live for. Over 20 years of my life was all about living for God. Well, I'm still alive, and I've even started to enjoy life. Is it because I'm free to do any wicked thing that I want to do? No, absolutely not.

I can now see that every action (as well as every inaction) has a consequence, and that some of these consequences are "good" and some are "bad". We don't need a God to point these things out to us. It's completely obvious to the sane. There are many things that I won't do because they have "bad" consequences. Most importantly, the golden rule still applies to me. I don't want people mistreating me, so I try not to mistreat them. I can still live my life to help others. In fact, I can probably be more effective, now that I don't have to live up to impossible standards and try to please a God who accepts nothing short of perfection.

I still have a lot to figure out, but I'd much rather be doing it now so that I can live the rest of my life to its fullest. I would be quite pissed off if I deconverted on my deathbed 50 years from now. Waking up from the deception earlier rather than later is definitely worth it.

Anonymous said...

If I go to a doctor, and he tells me that I have an infection, but if I take these pills I'll be fine,
but if I don't take them I may die,and then I don't take them, and I die, whose fault is that?
If I know that you have a disease and I make a medicine specificly for your version of that disease, and I offer it to you and you tell me to take a flying leap, how is that my fault?
If ,as sadly some aids patients have done, you start taking the medication and then stop because it doesn't suit you,and the disease
comes back, only worse, how is that my problem?
In historic Christian theology " Faith" is the instrumental cause of salvation not meritorious cause.
Faith is like a needle thorough which the vacine of salvation is received.
No analogy is perfect, and as I said previously, it only makes any logical sense within the context of a belief in the existence of God. If God does not exist the question is meaningless.
Thomas

freethinker05 said...

Great post Dano,and a really great comment Chris. Peace, Roger S.

Anonymous said...

Dano said "Exactly how does someone getting murdered, by being crucified, make me suitable or deserving to go to heaven, and if this is a requirement by God, that does qualify me to pass through the pearly gates, why do I have to believe it."

The spiritual realm is something that we cannot fully comprehend and this is why God has done and continues to do all that is possible to let us know what He expects of His creation.

Man, who is both human and spirit has been given free will. This free will is the most tremendous gift (despite the fact that from the spiritual perspective, it's our greatest weakness) but it comes with a price. God wants us all to understand that any and all selfish acts contradict His holy and perfect will. By sinning, we have tainted our souls and no soul that is with blemish can be in the presence of God (ie. in Heaven). None of us can claim righteousness, none. We've all done things that are wrong & hurtful and we've done these things by our conscious choice.

If any man can acknowledge that he's done some mistakes in life (and I'm not talking about stubbing your toe) then he can agree that man's free will has caused him to do things that hurt others. Maybe:
- tease or physically hurt your sibling(s) while growing up
- steal when you know the other person earned that item and that it simply isn't right to take it
- carry strong judgmental and/or hateful feelings for any person or group for unwarranted reasons
- carry resentments despite multiple sincere pleas for reconciliation from the other person
- be quick to anger or impatience with coworkers, friends or family
- purposefully hurt our partner's feelings because of selfish reasons (ie. testing their love, inner resentments, inability to be honest and end relationship, etc...)
- lie to spouse or mate about what you were doing with friends
- disregard the sanctity of mind by letting it travel wherever it desires when it comes to impurity, hatred, lust, greed, etc...
- etc, etc....

Because God is pure spirit and perfectly holy, He knew that He could never allow us to be with Him at the end of our lives. His perfection would not allow Him to let us be with Him after death without something to "balance the equation". Suffice it to understand and accept that we are sinful beings. If we can accept this fact, then we might be able to understand how a perfectly holy being, God, would not be able to allow us to be with Him. In fact, I believe that in our sinful state, once we become pure spirit, our comprehension of God and His holiness will overwhelm us. To the point where we, ourselves, will be choosing to be separated from Him. His holy light will reveal everything about us, including all the gifts of life and spiritual graces that He had given us during our life.

To protect us from eternal separation, God had to do something that would cause a "loophole" for the human predicament. He decided that His son, the only righteous human to ever live, would be the holy sacrifice that He would give to humanity. God deemed it just to allow man to put their faith in His son, Jesus, for their salvation. By holding on to this faith in Jesus' ability to suffer for our sins, by paying the price we could never pay on our own, God has decided that man's soul can still be with Him in Heaven.

This new covenant that God has made with man has been presented to us in the New Testament and it is Good News indeed!

John

Lynn said...

Hi John, what do you mean, God's perfection will not allow him to let us be with him? Why? Why not? Doesn't that mean that there is something that god-the-all-powerful is powerless to do? Will we give god sinfullness cooties? What would happen if god let us hang out with him? Would he explode? Or wither into nothingness? Or would he just have to put up with our smell, kind of like hanging out with someone who doesn't shower?

lynn said...

PS- And John, you know, Jesus hung around with sinners his whole life, didn't seem to bother him. You know, whores, hypocrites, thieves, liars. So what's the problem? Jesus can hang but god can't??????

imaginary sky daddy said...

Chris said:

If I had come across sites like this one or the one above when I was younger, I could've saved myself a ton of grief.

I second that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn,
Please try to remember that "the spiritual realm is something that we cannot fully comprehend".

You ask: "Doesn't that mean that there is something that god-the-all-powerful is powerless to do?"

Indeed there is, He can't give us free will and, at the same time, force us to choose good in all the choices of our lives. We can't have it both ways.

At the end of the day, God's offer is quite simple. Do you agree that man is capable of sin, that you are a sinner? If yes, then don't you think you should consider accepting His offer of reconciliation? If you read the New Testament with this understanding and decide to sincerely accept Jesus' offer, you'll be choosing to live your life by working diligently at choosing everything good. During prayer time, you can begin to nurture a relationship with Jesus and discuss any successes or failures to this end. I would recommend seeking spiritual growth during prayer and not praying for anything worldly. Your journey with Jesus is to grow in holiness. It doesn't mean that we don't discuss our day to day stresses, He most certainly wants to share everything in your life. Just keep in mind the ultimate goal of your journey, being truly righteous, like Jesus. It's a tall order indeed and we will never succeed perfectly but God's redemptive gift in Jesus is what "balances the equation", if you will.

What was God's alternative to the human souls that meet Him?

Should He have chosen to responding the human souls with:
"I know you lived a life of unholiness, never even acknowledging My existence but come on in, welcome to Heaven."
"I know you understood that treating your spouse and children with such anger and violence is unacceptable but come on in, welcome to Heaven."
"I know you've taught your children to despise and/or deny me their whole life and that you've offended me with these actions but come on in, welcome to Heaven."

Despite the fact that these responses would be contrary to a God that is perfect Love, Mercy and Justice, is this a God we could respect or even love? Would our own children love us more if we let them do whatever they want and when they've hurt us enough, come to us and say sorry Mom and Dad only because the punishment is over their head? Would we believe that they are sincere? We certainly would believe they're sincere once we see them making an effort to turn away from the past hurtful behaviors.

With regards to your question on why could Jesus be with sinners, please remember that He was human, yet perfectly righteous. God is spirit and this is something we will only comprehend once we leave this world. At least He was good enough to let us know of His existence but all the while never taking away from our free will. He gives us the choice, the ultimate free will, to choose to be with Him or not...

John

Melissa said...

John said: "God is spirit and this is something we will only comprehend once we leave this world."

So, are you dead or did you just get back from a visit in that other world?

If you are just a regular living person, how do you make a statement like that and then expect other people to consider it to be a universal truth.

How do you "choose" the right thing, if you don't comprehend it?

AND, if you can't comprehend "it" until you leave this world, how could YOU know what God is or isn't? For all you know, he might be a big glowing glob of galactic gas and glue?

Would you trust or accept my version of faith, if I said the universe was made by a pair of leaping leprachauns in love, and they are waiting to give us our very own rainbow, upon entering their far out world.

They have been sending me messages, and I have been writting them down. They are my magic makers and I, their lucky charm.

Do you believe me John? I have no way to understand what it is I am believing. I keep listening for them. It is more like a feeling.

Please say you accept my faith, because if you deny this, you may not gain enterance into the far out world, where the leaping leprachauns live. And I, will have to find someone else to convince.

cheayee said...

This is a funny site....LOL.
I don't really know how to answer many of the questions, coz frankly I don't know.I didn't go to a bible college for that matter.

We all have our "truths". I do not expect people to agree with my statements, nor would I expect them to expect me to agree with theirs.

Believing in God is taking a "leap of faith". It is a personal decision.

Why did Jesus hang out with the sick, the weak and the whores? Man..that is a tough question...haha...that's because he has said before that he had come for "them". They needed Him more than us normal people. He came for the outcasts, and for those who would believe in Him. Yes, he came for those who was rejected. Why do you think he was born in a stable for that very reason? For the poor shepherds to go and see his birth.

As for being Holy, He meant that when he is in the Spirit form, because of who He is, and not so much because he can't hang out with us. Because his holiness will destroy a person who lived to see God's face.

I remember reading this because God had to cover himself to prevent Moses from dying by hiding his face when His Spirit form spoke to Moses.

God's light is so bright that the people who Moses was leading (after crossing the red sea) could not see his Moses's face after that as the light was reflected on moses' face, and he had to cover his face with a veil before talking to the people.

As for the thing about Hell and HEaven and blah blah blah, if you read in Genesis, please do notice that God did not create Hell in the first place. It was never his intention. Of course, as the story goes, there was a huge war in Heaven, and the devil got thrown out.

As for the thing about having contradictions about the bible belief...let's just say that every christian will go through that phase. I went through that...and I decided it was either I turn my back on this, or I worshipped the many 4-5 chinese gods that my grandmother did.That really did not strike my fancy...

and anyway, no matter how much reason or rationale a person like me tries to puts up for another person, it really does not make a difference...if they have already made up in their mind that they don't believe and will not believe.
I think...well, the best thing is do something a bit more productive with our time like go learn how to cook creme brulee or something!!

Jamie said...

Someone said:
Because God is pure spirit and perfectly holy, He knew that He could never allow us to be with Him at the end of our lives. His perfection would not allow Him to let us be with Him after death without something to "balance the equation".

I'm trying to figure out how this stuff ever made sense to me. Was it just because I heard it so often from such an early age that it never occurred to me to shake my head and say, "huh?!"

His holy light will reveal everything about us, including all the gifts of life and spiritual graces that He had given us during our life.

Then wouldn't it be prudent of God to let his holy light reveal that NOW? Instead of after it's too late? I know that some would respond that it's because we aren't yet spirit and so cannot understand yet. But God made us flesh, did he not? Adam had a body. If we can't "get it" until we are only spirit, it would seem God created us with a pretty major design flaw, from BEFORE the so-called "fall".

Truly,
Jamie

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you want conclusive evidence, that doesn't sound like true freedom from God to me? (a.k.a. free will).

He gives enough evidence for those that are willing to believe, He withholds enough evidence for those the don't want to believe.

You're free do what you want. Do what you wish but try not to forget that we are still accountable for all of it.

Creme brulee...hmm, Chaeye just gave me a good idea, dinning out tonight!
(I'll keep the creme brulee for the chefs)

Take care, John

Chris said...

John,

The free will you describe is ridiculous. Apply it to the flying spaghetti monster and you get the same result. If I really truly want to see evidence of the FSM, I will find the evidence. Should I then believe that his noodly appendage revealed that evidence to me?

Secondly, I know I can't prove this to you, but I really believed in God. This goes much further than just being "willing" to believe. I "did" believe. When you wake up from your fantasy, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Jim Arvo said...

Hello John,

You seem like a fairly reasonable person, so perhaps you can help me understand something. Why is it that believers always assume that we (non-believers) demand "conclusive" evidence of anything? I, for one, have never seen absolute proof of any empirical fact, so I don't require it, and don't expect it. What I do ask for is credible evidence; that is, evidence of a variety that is not based on logical fallacies, and has not been shown to be extremely unreliable in other contexts.

So, John, what I ask believers to provide is credible evidence of their respective deities. The existence of ardent believers, while a form of evidence, is perhaps the weakest of all evidence; I don't consider it credible in itself. Disliking the alternative is not evidence, as this is a logical fallacy. Explaining the unexplained with "god did it" is another form of fallacy. Can you provide something of substance to support your belief? That's what we ask believers for--not conclusive proof. Thus far, I've seen none.

lynn said...

Hi John, your god responds to the tiniest sin with "you sinned and no matter what the sin was, you deserve to spend ETERNITY screaming in a living death for ever, no reprieve, ever. that's it" This is justice? This is a perfect, loving god? This is "balancing" the equation? What in the world kind of balancing is that? Human parents who did anything close to that would be locked up for the rest of their lives, if not executed, and rightly so. And you never answered my question about why god can't tolerate us in our sinful state. Why not? And "we'll have it all explained to us when we are dead" is not an answer, it's just you saying you have no idea. And BTW, apparently, Jesus does NOT want to share everything in my life. He does not want to share my doubts or my ability to think, in fact, (according to you) he hates those qualities.

alanh said...

John wrote:

Sounds like you want conclusive evidence, that doesn't sound like true freedom from God to me? (a.k.a. free will).

John, can you explain how conclusive evidence takes away my free will? There's pretty good evidence that jumping off a cliff would be fatal, but I'm still free to do that.

He withholds enough evidence for those the don't want to believe.

What if you believed for decades, and one day came to the realization that you've never seen any credible evidence?

You're free do what you want. Do what you wish but try not to forget that we are still accountable for all of it.

Except it really isn't much of a choice, is it? Don't believe and you get a one-way ticket to hell.

freethinker05 said...

John,i agree with Lynn's comment about jesus not sharing our doubts,with the eXception of "ole doubting Thomas".Well, if its good enough for that mother-scratcher(thomas),then its good enough for everyone else. Peace, Roger S.

eel_shepherd said...

Anonymous John wrote:
"...If ,as sadly some aids patients have done, you start taking the medication and then stop because it doesn't suit you,and the disease
comes back, only worse, how is that my problem?..."

It's not. Your problem begins when the patient _doesn't_ get sick after all, even (especially) without the medicine, but your medicine-induced sickness keeps on getting worse the longer you keep taking it.

Just a point of information for you, John. When you are talking to the members here, bear in mind that there are actually at least two communities living (in harmony) under the same roof. Some of the members don't believe in a god at all (or don't care), and some believe in god, but just not Xtianity. If you are new to this site, you might not have had time to pick this up yet. Of course, if you think that there _is_ no god except as revealed by Xtianity, then that's a different matter.

For the former group, of which I'm a member, a lot of what the visiting Xtian has to say is just so much wasted verbiage, because we're out of phase. You calibrate your number system starting with 1 (god exists), and my number system starts at 0 (god doesn't exist unless and until you demonstrate that she does). That's okay by me, because I see it; but I've witnessed a lot of needless strife for Xtians who were unable to step back and look at the two calibration strips, who can't accept that they haven't scored a touchdown on what the other person considers his 1-yard-line.

Jesus, I can't get that creme brulee out of my mind. I can see myself eating some of that tonight but for the fact that I don't have any. See what you've done, Cheayee?
Is this what hell's gonna be like?

Anonymous said...

Eel_shep said- "Anonymous John wrote:
"...If ,as sadly some aids patients have done, you start taking the medication and then stop because it doesn't suit you,and the disease
comes back, only worse, how is that my problem?...""

I'm John and I never wrote that text. It was someone named Thomas.

For the person asking "Can you provide something of substance to support your belief?"

I think I can, it would be the four written testimonies with the obvious objective of conveying something truthfully. These men testified to us on what they witnessed and there's a long list of reasons why the historicity of these texts is reliable. I don't believe that they all chose to be killed for a lie. Like I said before, "He gives us the choice, the ultimate free will, to choose to be with Him or not...". It sounds like many of you have made your choice, I know I've made mine.

Take care,
John

Astreja said...

John, nobody really knows who wrote the Gospels, or why. They bear the names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but who knows where they really came from?

None of them were written in the supposed lifetime of Jesus... Whose "miracles" went completely unreported in the Roman occupiers' writings of that period. And there are no civic or astronomical records or lay writings to confirm any prolonged solar eclipse or earthquake in the region at the time that Jesus was supposedly executed.

We have not confirmed that the gospel "witnesses" ever existed. They, along with their eponymous books, could easily be literary fabrications.

The persona of Jesus (a very common name in the region, BTW) suffers from some profound psychiatric disorders consistent with authors who didn't know what the hell they were doing and didn't take the time to proofread.

I would be equally justified in demanding that you read the Poetic Edda and start offering blóts to the Norse gods... After all, the Eddas reference Atli, a.k.a. Attila the Hun -- A RealHistoricalPerson™.

Oh, and I have a crème brûlée mix down in my kitchen. Just desserts for all!

dano said...

John!!!
Why doesn't God just come on the nightly news and say?: "I made you folks with a lot of flaws, and I'm sorry that I tried to make it look like it was your fault, so I have decided to use my omnipotency to fix you. Starting now, the idea of evil and sin and suffering, and pain, and torment, is out.

It is no longer necessary for you to believe that I require any kind of Pagan sacrifice of any kind.

You will still be individuals, but I am going to be truly omnibenevolent from now on, and make you all happy"

He (she) (IT), can do "anything," right?
Dan

Jim Arvo said...

John replied to my query about supporting evidence with "...it would be the four written testimonies with the obvious objective of conveying something truthfully."

I think Astreja already gave you a very good reply. Let me emphasize that your assertion about the gospels being written "with the obvious objective of conveying something truthfully" is unfounded. They were all anonymous hagiographic tracts written long after the "fact". They borrow from and redact each other, and very likely other written sources (e.g. the hypothesized "Q" document). They are brimming with midrashic interpolation, and they show very obvious signs of embellishment through time. The authors themselves do not claim to be witnesses to any of the miraculous events, and they do not divulge anything specific about how they came to "know" of what they write. There are many hagiographic documents of this sort, and nobody takes them seriously--why are the gospels assumed to be different? Answer: that too is an article of faith.

He went on to say "These men testified to us on what they witnessed and there's a long list of reasons why the historicity of these texts is reliable."

No. There is a mountain of apologetics for this, to be sure, but it's all predicated upon simplistic arguments, such as the "independence" of the testimonies, or their "realistic tone", or the stature of the (unknown!) authors, or corroboration by other sources (there is essentially none), or proximity to the "actual" events (which is circular), or references to historically verifiable places or events (just like any good fiction), etc. etc. etc.

He also said "I don't believe that they all chose to be killed for a lie."

Nor do I. There is no reason to believe that any of them were actually martyred for the simple reason that we don't know who they were. But even if they were martyred, all it would show is that they believed what they wrote, just like the 9/11 hijackers believed they would find themselves in heaven with 72 virgins. People believe lots of wacky things to the point of martyrdom. If anything, such behavior should cast doubt on the belief; it certainly does not demonstrate that the belief is true.

This is actually a very big topic. Suffice it to say that many of us have studied the gospels extensively and find that all claims to their authority are extraordinary exaggerations based upon wishful thinking and misinformation.

Do you have anything else?

Anonymous said...

Dano states- "Starting now, the idea of evil and sin and suffering, and pain, and torment, is out."

I hear you completely, suffering sucks! The only way I make peace with this, is that true freedom and the inability to do evil are mutually exclusive. We can't have no evil and be free at the same time. So yes, i think anything is possible with God but He can't make things that are mutually exclusive, inclusive.

I also disagree that having conclusive evidence of God would still make us truly free. With this type of evidence I don't think that He'd really be receiving people that have honestly turned their will towards him. I don't know if this is a good analogy but it might be like a super famous/rich person wondering if her/his future spouse really loves them for themselves? I don't love Jesus because of fear, I love because I do see Him as righteous and I agree with His description of man being sinners. I love righteousness and always seek his guidance with life choices. I think that it's easy to love him if we recognize how great he is and we want to be like Him. Don't get me wrong I do still fear His judgment so I hope and work to be obedient to the little angel on my shoulder and not the little devil on the other. :)

Anywho, it's pretty interesting to discuss but after everything, it's always our personal choice. Nothing anyone ever said to me, made me believe, it was personal experience and I guess, God that helped/helps me with my faith. He's in charge of everything so he must have taken pity on me at some point. ;)

Cheers, John

Anonymous said...

John said- "I don't believe that they all chose to be killed for a lie."

Jim said- "But even if they were martyred, all it would show is that they believed what they wrote, just like the 9/11 hijackers believed they would find themselves in heaven with 72 virgins. People believe lots of wacky things to the point of martyrdom. If anything, such behavior should cast doubt on the belief; it certainly does not demonstrate that the belief is true."

Personally, I see a world of difference with what the hijackers believed and what the 1st Christians believed. Nothing these hijackers believed or it's 1st Muslims, was testimony of verifiable fact, it is the product of years of brain washing. The 1st Christians, and there were thousands, knew what was written in these Gospels and had lived during Jesus' ministry. They gave up their core beliefs and many, their lives, to follow Jesus. Again, i find it hard to believe that people chose to die for a lie.

I think that man is very capable of being led astray with manipulative individuals that claim enlightenment. Many of these persons have a charisma and a manipulative inclination that can convince hundreds even thousands to believe what they claim to have witnessed. Example, with the Koran, the only documentation of what Mohammed saw/learned in the cave, came many years after the fact. Nothing comparable to the Gospels and it had no factual statements that would lead it's followers to doubt if they could not corroborate the statements. The Gospels are full of these, the 1st Christians would have had an immediate uprising if the Gospel statement were truly false. Everything these Muslims believed are based on Mohammad's words. He must have been one convincing individual to amass such a following.

Present day Muslims and Christians are often believers through societal and/or family influences, there's no denying that fact. The difference lies in the 1st Muslims and the 1st Christians, worlds apart in my opinion.

John

stronger now said...

john

If god existed it would be within its power to reveal its existence without revealing its identity. Thus saving human free will. We would have the free will to decide what deity it is that revealed itself as god. We wouldn't be forced to automatically believe that it was jesus, or jehova, or a spahgetti monster, the choice would be ours.

If we receive proof of the existence of deity it doesn't automatically mean that the deity is the judao-christian god.

Also, sin is a biblical term that describes an act against gods will. Using it in an argument for or against god belief is concedeing that there is a god, he has a will, and we understand that will. To say man is sinful reverts the argument to "the bible says so". You haven't given us any credible evidence to believe the bible other than what's in the bible. I admit to being imperfect, but perfection is a standard that is arbitrary.

Jim Arvo said...

John, you've argued in a circle. You claim that the Christian martyrs differ from the Muslim martyrs in that their beliefs were "verifiable fact". Yet you use the (supposed) martyrdom of the Christians as evidence of this "fact". To break the circularity you must decide which position you want to establish first: that Christianity is based on fact (e.g. the divinity of Jesus), or that early Christian martyrdom itself constitutes factual support for Christianity.

John said "...i find it hard to believe that people chose to die for a lie." I hear this very line from Christians frequently, and it makes absolutely no sense. First, it's a straw man. Nobody is claiming that anybody willingly died for something that is known to be a lie. Please note that I said essentially the opposite. Both the supposed Christian martyrs and the 9/11 hijackers died for what they believed to be true. The point is--and I hope you can agree with me here--that people can and do die for mistaken beliefs. Martyrdom does not imply the truth of the belief.

As an aside, I'll inject a little note on logic. Let's look at the claim "people do not chose to die for a lie." One could express this in propositional logic as

known to be false ==> ~ martyr

where I use "~" as the symbol for logical negation, and "==>" is (material) implication. In other words, if something is known to be false (i.e. a lie), then nobody will be a martyr for it. I have no problem with this implication. Now, let's take the contrapositive of this implication, which gives us the logically equivalent statement

martyr ==> ~ known to be false

In other words, if somebody chooses to be a martyr, then it is NOT the case that they know it to be false. This is actually a weaker statement than the one I made, which is that they believe it to be true. I say it's weaker because

known to be false ==> ~ believed,

or, taking the contrapositive,

believed ==> ~ known to be false,

but the converse is not so: that is, if one does NOT know something to be false, it does not follow that one believes it. (I do not know it to be false that there is life on other planets, yet this does not mean I believe it to be so.) Therefore, my statement logically implies yours, but yours does not logically imply mine. In other words, my statement (a martyr actually believes what he dies for) is stronger than yours. For this reason, I'm perplexed by believers who respond to me by saying "nobody dies for a lie", as if it somehow contradicts what I said.

One last comment. John said "...the 1st Christians would have had an immediate uprising if the Gospel statement were truly false." This is quite an assertion! Is it your contention that every hagiographic account that was not correct caused some kind of a backlash? Did the Book of Mormon cause an uprising? How about the Koran? And, by the way, there is a difference between something being false and knowing that something is false. It is the latter that could cause a negative response, not the former. But that's another discussion.

Jim Arvo said...

Oh, one more thing....

By getting distracted with the minutia of contrapositives and converses, I forgot to point out the overarching problem with your argument, John. Asserting that something is "verifiable fact" clearly does not make it verifiable, nor does it make it fact. The entire point in question is whether the Christian dogma is factual or mythical. Therefore, any appeal to that commits the fallacy of begging the question.

Anonymous said...

I've read your post a couple times and I don't think my point has been understood or more likely, I didn't communicate it properly.

Jim said- "The point is--and I hope you can agree with me here--that people can and do die for mistaken beliefs. Martyrdom does not imply the truth of the belief."

I could not agree with you more. People will die for just about anything they believe in, this cannot be debated.

My point is that people will not die for something that they absolutely know to be a lie.

I think you hit on my point with- "And, by the way, there is a difference between something being false and knowing that something is false. It is the latter that could cause a negative response, not the former. But that's another discussion. "

It is this latter point you mention, "knowing that something is false", that would have caused the uprising and it is the whole foundation of my point.

The Gospels testify to miracles, raising of the dead, 500 witnesses of Jesus rising, 4 or 5 thousand people witnessing miracle of the bread, etc. The point being made is that the 1st century Christians were witnesses to all of it's claims. These people were 1st hand witnesses to the claims of the Gospels and that is why i say that no one would willingly die for a lie.

When Mohammad came out with his revelations, people took him on his word, they didn't have anything to corroborate what he claims to have witnessed. They didn't have a miracle that they all witnessed of any kind. They simply believed in Mohammad's cause. He must have been an amazing leader or/and a great provider of shelter, protection, community, who knows. Bottom line is, he could convince people to fight for his cause. There are many such people in history and most especially, in modern day times. How about Osama, Hitler, Koresh and many others. Some might argue, Bush, but now we're getting off topic.

On the other hand, early Christians did have something to corroborate. They could talk to the 500 people that witnessed the rising or maybe, they were one of the 500 people. They could speak to Lazarus or his family and many of them did see the miracle of the bread and fish. They could seek out the witnessses of the various healing or those healed themselves.

The David Koresh followers would have quickly fallen away if he had claimed miracles that they all witnessed. When they all knew that they had not witnessed any such miracles.

I hope this presents my point a little better.

Take care, John

alanh said...

John wrote:

I also disagree that having conclusive evidence of God would still make us truly free. With this type of evidence I don't think that He'd really be receiving people that have honestly turned their will towards him.

Well it wouldn't make us free, we already are free, are we not? By your description god is or will be receiving people who by geographical accident live in Christian regions, and are willing to believe something that is pretty irrational based on tenuous evidence (so I guess there won't be many scientists in heaven.) It would make some sense if the human race is an experiment and certain types are to be weeded out (although why torture the rejects forever,) however if its a parent-child relationship and god loves his children wouldn't a loving parent want all of his children to be "saved?" The other problem with this rationale is its hard to distinguish between a god that is hiding from critical examination and a god that doesn't exist.

Jim Arvo said...

John said "My point is that people will not die for something that they absolutely know to be a lie."

Yes, yes, yes. Absolutely. No debating it. Did you understand my point? My assertion is stronger than yours; it subsumes yours! Therefore, you are adding nothing to my original assertion, which nobody debates: martyrs believe in the cause they die for. However, that an a buck fifty will buy you a cup of coffee. Belief does not imply truth, as we all seem to agree.

John: "The Gospels testify to miracles, raising of the dead, 500 witnesses of Jesus rising, 4 or 5 thousand people witnessing miracle of the bread, etc."

John, John, John... What you are appealing to is stories of witnesses. You know absolutely nothing about the "500 witnesses," because your only source is Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (not the gospels). Paul says there were 500 witnesses; or, rather, his epistle does. Who were they? What did they see? How did Paul come to know of them? Why do none of the gospel writers appeal to this amazing fact? Same with the "thousands" of witnesses to the multiplying of bread and fish; that is a story with zero corroboration. It's not even a very original story.

John: "The point being made is that the 1st century Christians were witnesses to all of it's claims."

Yet not one eye witness wrote anything down. We do not even know who the gospel writers were. Their stories appeared a generation after the supposed events, and are strikingly similar to many other older savior stories. All we have comes through the genre of hagiography; no historian of the period mentions Jesus or any of the miracles. The best corroboration you have is Josephus, which appears to be a late interpolation. So, your statement is a gross exaggeration.

John: "These people were 1st hand witnesses to the claims of the Gospels..."

You have stories of witnesses, not witnesses. What if I said that hundreds of people saw a UFO land in my back yard? Would you take that as convincing evidence? I'll bet you would want to know something about those people, would you not? Why do you so eagerly swallow uncorroborated reports in the Bible?

John: "They [the early Christians] could speak to Lazarus or his family and many of them did see the miracle of the bread and fish."

And how do you know this? Can you show me any corroborating evidence that there was a Lazarus, and that he was raised from the dead? I suspect not. You are basing all these claims on the gospel stories which, for some reason, you think are reliable historically. I've already mentioned some of the reasons I think this is unfounded.

By the way, there are many miracle stories surrounding Muhammad's revelations. His dictation of the Koran is itself purportedly a miracle; Muhammad was illiterate, yet the most superlative poetry ever recorded in Arabic sprang from his lips over a period of twenty years (or so the story goes). Also, the Koran is purportedly replete with fulfilled prophecies and scientific evidence of its divine origin. I'll bet you don't believe a word of it, however. I'll bet you would be just as skeptical as we are, and would insist on examining all such claims very critically before accepting them. Why not do the same for the Bible stories?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like it all comes down to whether or not a person believes the historicity of the Gospels. I trust the secular and non-secular sources for the dates of these texts. Even the conservative analysis bring them into the 1st century and I'm sure i don't need to mention that Jesus was crucified at 30 AD.

These dates make the reports very credible to me. And "very", is a gross understatement in my opinion.

I guess we have to agree to disagree, not much else to discuss.

Thanks for letting me post on this site, I wish you all well. John

Jim Arvo said...

John: "...I trust the secular and non-secular sources for the dates of these texts [the Gospels]."

There is still much debate over the dates. Conservative scholars place the gospel of Mark around 70 AD, shortly after the destruction of the Jewish temple. More liberal scholars place it closer to the end of the first century, or even into the second. But regardless of the date, there is no corroboration of any supernatural event reported in the gospels; indeed, there is scant evidence that there was an actual Jesus behind the legend at all.

"...I'm sure i don't need to mention that Jesus was crucified at 30 AD."

And what evidence do you have for this other than the gospels? None, right? Right. The early epistles don't mention any historical context. Apparently nobody informed Paul that Jesus was a human who lived only decades before he preached. And apparently Paul felt no need to quote Jesus, or to mention his ministry, or his miracles, or the circumstances of his birth or death. Strange, don't you think? Why the silence from a source so close to the supposed events? (Most likely answer: The story was not invented yet.)

John: "These dates make the reports very credible to me. And 'very', is a gross understatement in my opinion."

This is again circular reasoning. Q: How do we "know" the gospels are reliable? A: Because they were written close to the date of the events. Q: How do we know when the events happened? A: The gospels tell us! Without the gospels there would be no Jesus tradition--at least not one based on an earthly Jesus. The author of Mark was apparently the first to fix Jesus in history. All the rest of history combined has so little to say about "Christ" that it would fit on the back of a post card, and none of it is unequivocal; i.e. clearly genuine, and not simply a second-hand report from believers.

I'm sorry to inform you, but your "gross understatement" is almost pure fantasy. Many religions have similar traditions, and believers cling to them just as ardently as you do to the Jesus story. Each one thinks that their story is real.

Okay, John. We agree to disagree.

eel_shepherd said...

John wrote:
"...[what these hijackers believed or its 1st Muslims]... is the product of years of brain washing..."

John, please pardon my misattribution of (poster) Thomas' text to you; my creme brulee levels were way down at the time. ;-/

With regard to the above quote, when I think of brainwashing, usually I think of nasty misuse of technology on prisoners and dissidents. What sorts of techniques were the early followers of Mohammed (ptui) able to apply to the hoped-for disciples, out there in the deserts, to win them over to faulty thinking?

Jamie said...

Someone said:
I also disagree that having conclusive evidence of God would still make us truly free. With this type of evidence I don't think that He'd really be receiving people that have honestly turned their will towards him.

What I want to know is how can we "honestly" turn our wills toward something that we don't have conclusive evidence for. It seems to me that the only way to honestly turn my will to God would be if he honestly showed up. Conclusive evidence of God's existence doesn't take away my choice, it just makes my choice clear. If God proved his own existence and told me to come with him or fry, then I'd be able to make an honest decision...

Audie said...

John: "The Gospels testify to miracles, raising of the dead, 500 witnesses of Jesus rising, 4 or 5 thousand people witnessing miracle of the bread, etc."

John, one question: have you ever been to Jerusalem? I have. its actually a pretty large city. There are tall building and even a 4-square block outdoor mall. Its pretty impressive! And in the middle of it all, there is the "old city" which was the jerusalem that existed up until the cruisades. And that is actually quite small (much smaller than i expected it to be).

So what is the point of this is? If Jesus had appeared to 500 after his ressurection, it would have changed the face of that city forever. You see, 500 people would be quite a high percentage of the people in the city at that time. They would have seen and known that he had risen, and Xianity would have taken off that day. But yet there is absolutely NO historical mention of Jesus even existing at all, let alone performing miracles, getting killed, and then appearing to 500.

I mean, Julius Ceasar didn't wipe his ass without someone writing about it, but yet noone wrote anything about this jesus guy until over 80 years AFTER the fact! sorry dude, I don't buy it.

ComputerGuyCJ said...

John said:

Sounds like you want conclusive evidence, that doesn't sound like true freedom from God to me? (a.k.a. free will).

John, do you believe in the pre-tribulational rapture? It seems to me that not only would such an event provide conclusive evidence of God's existence, but it would go extremely far in proving the authenticity of the Bible. I'd believe in Jesus again if I saw millions of people vanish into thin air, because that would be the very first prophecy that had ever been conclusively fulfilled.

Wouldn't this event take away my free will to believe in God on my own? His action would basically force me to believe, wouldn't it?

I hope we see more of you, John. It's obvious that you are a thinker, and it's refreshing to see a Christian in here like yourself.

SpaceMonk said...

computerguycj said: "I'd believe in Jesus again if I saw millions of people vanish into thin air, because that would be the very first prophecy that had ever been conclusively fulfilled."

Just because millions of people disappear doesn't mean it was Jesus that did it.
It could also be UFOs that beamed them up.
Actually that would be more believable...

ComputerGuyCJ said...

SpaceMonk said:

"It could also be UFOs that beamed them up."

Well, if aliens could do that, then we're pretty much screwed anyway, so might as well believe in a fairytale. Besides, it would only be seven more years, then I could go back to being an atheist again. I could live with that.

RPeter said...

I started reading all the comments on this post and eventually gave up because there was just way too much. But, because it's a blog and not a forum, I am commenting on the post not debating on a subject. So I will just comment on the post, piece by piece, because that's more fun.

"Exactly how does someone getting murdered, by being crucified, make me suitable or deserving to go to heaven, and if this is a requirement by God, that does qualify me to pass through the pearly gates, why do I have to believe it."
Well, why not? What else are you going to believe? Let's assume for a moment that it is all true, then why believe anything else? Just because you don't like the idea of believing in a man that bled and died on a cross for your sins and mistakes? It doesn't make sense.

Besides, the point of believing is to enter into 'relationship.' If I didn't believe my parents were actually REAL, i'd ignore them. You've got to believe in Christ to have a relationship with him, else how the heck do you think you're going to be able to pray and speak to him? By praying to Elvis or something?

"If God wanted and needed a sacrifice to himself before he will let anybody into heaven, then when the Romans finished killing Jesus, didn't we all have a ticket to paradise?"
Uh... yes. We do. The ticket is believing in Christ. Last time I checked, you need to TAKE a ticket to use it. Unless you'd like the ticket to magically get to the conductor somehow?

"God supposedly knows which of us will believe it, and those who won't. What has that got to do with the deal? Once he gets his born of a virgin, boy murdered, then he should be happy. A deal is a deal."
He IS happy. Problem is, you haven't made a deal with him. He has started 'negotiations' of reconciliation, so to speak, and you haven't bothered to come with your part. So what deal are you talking about here exactly? Are you wanting him to force it down your throat or something?

"Now I'm not going to ask you to explain how Jesus, and God, and the holy ghost can all three be the same being, or how Jesus knowing he was divine, and immortal could really die, because it would unfairly burden your intellect, so I will stick with the original question."
For starters, where the heck did you get the idea that Jesus was immortal before he died? Maybe you were reading the Unauthorized Misquoted Version of the Bible or something? Secondly, I could tell you that the whole deal with the Trinity is a 'mystery', much like the same way that a man and a woman love each other is a 'mystery' but since you obviously don't like poetry or metaphor or mysteries(because every mystery needs to be answered, by the looks of your post) then I'd have to ask you how come water comes in different forms? Let me guess your answer : It does. Well, guess what? God comes in three different persons. Try and explain first cause to me... your answer? "I dunno." Do you believe in the Big Bang? If so, what caused the big bang? Let me guess? "We don't know." So that's an acceptable answer, hmmm? There are things we know and things we don't. Get over it, no one's going to figure it out because God is unfathomable. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be God, and then he wouldn't be the delight to get to know that he is. A God who can be perfectly explained in textbooks and maths formulas is no God at all. The only guy who knows the answer to your question anyhow is God himself. The same guy who created water in different forms. You're welcome to ask him that question yourself.

I never understand this kind of thing anyway - are you attacking Christian's intellect, or whether or not God is real? All you seem to be doing is attacking Christian's intellect. Anyone can do that.

And since when is life just about intellect? Isn't it also about experience? Of course it is.

"What has my belief got to do with the whole thing? God got what he wanted, so we all should be admitted to heaven! Case closed!"
Firstly, you're assuming that if someone doesn't KNOW about Christ and believing in him, he is going to hell. If you read your Bible it doesn't say that. It says God will judge each person seperately.

But this evades the question - and the question is: YOU DO KNOW this truth and what are YOU going to do about it? If you're going to reject it then you've taken the 'ticket' already given to you and thrown it into the rubbish. You've made your choice, and I don't believe God will just give up on you, but you've got to realise that you've rejected God yourself. So, since you prefer not being around God he might (in his grace) just send you to the place where there is no God - and that place would be a hell of hells. But that's your choice.

Loved your post.

Steven Bently said...

So in the final analysis: God created the universe including 125 billion galaxies in just six days, just to see how many people would believe in Jesus, yeah that makes a lot of sense.

Genesis 6:6 "And it repented the Lord, that he had created a man and a woman."

Genesis 6:1/2 And it is not written anywhere in the Bible that God repented creating Satan
and allowed all evil to exist because humans where such a great threat to God and their Hearts were so wicked, but Satan is so wonderful, but humans need to die, suffer and burn, unless of course you believe in Jesus.

Genesis 6:3/4 Satan being the most beautiful angel in Heaven is God's most favorite piece of work.
Although he kicked Satan out of Heaven, Satan can continue his work for the Lord in deceiving and sending people to hell.

No one in America would be worshipping the Bible-God had Christopher Columbus brought over the Qu'ran. Columbus thought he was going to fall off the face of the earth, he had to have a savior that he could trust and pray to, so it was the Bible God's will that he discovered America and never fell off of the face of the earth.

So this makes the Bible true, because America was founded under Christian principles.

And so now Christianity has had over 500 years to build it's churches and establish the Bible as the one true book of God.

When people are born they soon see and notice all those churches and all the believers flocking to them and so therefore in their minds, this confirms to them, it must certainly be true, they do not tear down any churches, they only build new ones, and hardly no one is standing up against Christianity and opposing the teachings, so therefore it must certainly be true.

Mike brown said...

Like rpeter I too tried to read all the post's but I don't have all night. If I read Dano's question right it is how does Chris't sacrifice make us right with God. A fundamental problem here is a break down in basic understanding. Yes, Christ's death is a sacrifice but it is much more than that. Dano's mistake is to equate the sacrifice theory with an actual eternal reality. How does Christ' death save us?... that's a great question. the truth is that the Church doesn't really understand how it's possible either. We just know that it does something with in us... to us... and outside of us... all at the same time. The sacrifice Dano's discussing is an image not an actuality. What I mean is that the sacrifice is a metaphor it's a way of understanding what's been done not a way of say's what IS done. Its like trying to explaine to a four year old how a car works: Daddy turns a key and the engine goes' vroom!" It's a bit simplistic, but it's functional for the need. There are a LOT of metaphor's for How Christ saves us. If the sacrifice theory is unacceptable or too simplistic for you than perhaps you sould begin to look for a deeper meaning. Abelard in the 13th century believed that Christ's death saves us when we acquire it as an example. When we act like Christ and pick up our metaphorical "cross" and die then we become "acceptable" to God, and we begin the process of salvation. There are others who believe that it's not even the death of christ that saves us but the resurrection that brings salvation. So if the metaphor of sacrifce is too "stupid" for you perhapse your ready for advance automechanics.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Dano, you left out a ton of parts, all of which you can read in the Bible. You all are mixing Old Testament with New Testament. Of course youre confused. I like how "Scout" has merged two different ways of repentance. One of which was abolished when Christ passed from death to life, destroying the power of death. I'm a Marine, and if my organization went into battle without knowing what the enemy had, we would probably look like fools or even worse we'd all die. If you havent got the good sense to read the Bible and check out what youre up against than youre only going to make yourselves look like fools or worse off.....you'll die.
In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth and it was good....than man messed it all up. You cant blame God for the existence of the negative things in our lives. We did it to ourselves.
But why the hostility and the persistence at disproving God? Who are you answering to that you have to discredit Christianity? In who's name? To what reward? If there's no God, no Heaven and no Hell....then you could just keep your mouth shut until you die. But you devote so much time, time that you know you dont have, (because you know you'll die someday) to websites and publications to try and lead people to nothingness. If nothing is out there, what are you trying to persuade men to? You sound like foolish Generals of an army that has no objective. Leading men into the wilderness with no enemy, and no purpose. For what? No atheist has ever been able to answer me that...I doubt anyone on this mindless site will be able to either. The crickets have stopped chirping...I am a CHRISTIAN.

Anonymous said...

TO CHRISTIANS:
I am a Christian, so dont take this wrong....atheists dont care about our attempts to re-credit Christ in their lives, KEEP THEM COMING ANYWAY!
But to the ATHIESTS:
What are you wasting your time and energy on if there is "nothing out there"? Why have a site at all? Why publish books? Why be hostile towards people who know Christ? Sounds like you need lives, and I know just the person who can give you one!

Anonymous said...

chirp chirp athiests

Dave8 said...

Anony: "I'm a Marine, and if my organization went into battle without knowing what the enemy had, we would probably look like fools or even worse we'd all die."

I doubt you are a Marine, but speaking of advanced reconnaissance, how does a Christian scout invisible objects in order to prepare for the spiritual battle-field?

Jim Arvo said...

noname said "What are you wasting your time and energy on if there is 'nothing out there'?"

First of all, I think there is plenty "out there," although I have never seen any credible evidence that it includes invisible conscious entities of any description. As for spending time here, we each have our reasons. I personally have a few. For one thing, I find it interesting discussing theology with people whose ideas are radically different from my own, and I try my best to understand why they believe what they believe. But I also have something of an agenda: I feel that there is a great deal of bigotry shown toward non-believers, particularly in the US, and I would like to see that change. We see a lot of blatant bigotry toward non-believers of all stripes right here. I think it's sad that so many believers disparage non-believers--often it's out of ignorance. I do my best to combat it when I see it.

noname: "Why have a site at all?"

Look in the upper right-hand corner of any page at this site. See the link labeled "Site Purpose and Legal Disclaimer". You might want to start be reading that.

noname: "Why publish books?"

Many reasons. I suggest you ask each individual author. For some, it's an attempt to help others who may be trapped in unhealthy belief systems. For others, it's an attempt to head off the inevitable conflicts caused by conflicting religious dogmas (e.g. Christianity and Islam). For still others it's an intellectual exercise and/or an opportunity to demonstrate and encourage critical thinking.

noname: "Why be hostile towards people who know Christ?"

I'm not hostile to Christians, at least not for their beliefs. If they are antagonistic when they visit this site, then I have a tendency to be not-so-friendly in return. As for people who "know Christ," I am skeptical that anybody fits this description; at least I have seen nothing even that I would consider to be even mildly compelling evidence that such a person exists.

noname: "Sounds like you need lives, and I know just the person who can give you one!"

Thanks for the kind offer, but I think you must have us confused with somebody else. I and others here happen to have very productive and fulfilling lives. Why would you think otherwise? I hope it's not simply because our theological opinions do not match your own.

Chirp chirp!

Astreja said...

Anonymous: I am a Christian, so dont take this wrong...

It was too late for that when you showed up and started spouting nonsense at us.

But to the ATHIESTS:

The proper spelling is atheists.

What are you wasting your time and energy on if there is "nothing out there"?

Because many of the people who think that there *is* something out there... People like you, sir or madam... Come here to threaten, insult and generally annoy us.

If your idea of faith is to quietly pray in the privacy of your own home, I have no problem with that.

But there are those who indoctrinate and terrorize their own and others' children with tales of some mythical Hell; who come up to my door to preach at me; who interfere in the running of governments and the creation and maintenance of laws.

People who believe that the world was created by some invisible, silent, intangible being who wants us to follow the rules in one particular and rather idiotic book.

People who believe that a god who supposedly flooded an entire planet is the epitome of goodness.

For you I have no sympathy and no mercy. I take great pleasure in seeing you finally "get it"... When you use the brain that no god gave you, see through the bullshit, and walk away from the illusionary "relationship" that existed only in your own mind.

Jim Arvo said...

Hi Mike Brown,

Can we start with something a little more basic? Can you please explain to me what God/Jesus sacrificed on the cross? (Mind you, I think the entire passion scene is nothing more than midrashic interpolation, lifted straight from the pages of the OT, but for the sake of argument let's assume it was authentic.) After all, you do believe that Jesus is still alive, do you not? You believe that he rose bodily into heaven, right? So, if he is still alive, seated at the right hand of god, what exactly was sacrificed?

If an animal were sacrificed on an alter (as god once desired, apparently), and it came back to life, it would be considered a botched sacrifice, would it not? Even more so if the animal "knew" in advance that the arrangement was a temporary inconvenience, and it would soon be alive again, frolicking in the most beautiful and perfect pasture imaginable.

So, wouldn't the word "relocation" be more apt than "sacrifice"? (We can get to the absurdity of atonement by proxy later if you wish.)

dano said...

Pardon Me folks, for not being around to respond to your answers.

I have been very sick, but yesterday I checked myself out of the hospital against doctors orders, and am sitting here not feeling 100%.

I see that All of you Christian Pastors, youth leaders, students of theology, and otherwise really smart people who are having a relationship with Jesus, who tried to answer my questions, did exactly what I had anticipated, used circular reasoning, fuzzy thinking, and a whole mishmash of Christian mythology, the most of which was made up on the spot, as if you conferred with the big man yourself, just before you posted.

Aren't you ashamed to answer a man's simple questions with the same ole pagan mythology?

My guess is, that in some version of Christianity "The deal WAS done" as soon as Jesus got himself killed. I'm sure that one of the earlier stories didn't include the "Need to believe thing"

Thanks to Jim Arvo, Astreja, Dave8, Steven Bently, Jamie, and eel_shepherd, for not letting SANCTIMONIOUS Bullshit take over my post completely.

I was just going to say a prayer to whatever made me, and ask for better health, but then I thought: Shit! If it doesn't know exactly what I need, then how omniscient can it be?

If I get through this, I will be back, more unafraid than ever!

Dan

Dave8 said...

Dano: "I have been very sick, but yesterday I checked myself out of the hospital against doctors orders, and am sitting here not feeling 100%."

Dano, hope you get better, I'm rooting for ya'. Your logic and reason are missed. D8

boomSLANG said...

Hey Dano, I really hope you get to feeling better soon.

BoomSLANG(one freethinker to another)

mike Brown said...

Dan:

I'm sorry you have been feeling sick, I pray you will get better.

Jim: Thanks for the good natured approach you calm disposition is helpful for true communication. As to your question about Scripture: When you say you don't think Jesus exists do you mean ever or are you spouting the old stand by: "Jesus is really a myth" The simple fact of the matter is that the bible is NOT a single book the New Testament is a collection of letters and works circulated between 50 and -90 A.D. Yes it is a single book but many people make the mistake of thinking they were all created by a single author. They were compiled over the years it wasn't until the 4th century that we even could agree on what was holy scripture. Now as to Jesus not existing. if you take Pauls words in 2 corinthians 5:14 paul himself seemed to believe Jesus was an actual person with a real life. 2 corinthians being written between 56-58 A.D. If you look at 1 corinthian 15:12-58 (written no later than 56 A.D. paul talks about the resurrection of Christ. These works actually PRE-DATE the gosepls. If the resurrection is an interpolation into the gospel narratives what is paul talking about? Now you dont have to even believe in a resurrection or that it actually happend to agree with this. All this really prooves is that a jewish Pharisee believed Jesus was resurrected. That has to push the story further back than 70 a.d. Then the story has to become something told in the 40's . With Christ dying in the 30's one begins to wonder how such a fantastic story like the resurrection get's put so early into the Christian faith. Like I said you don't have to believe the resurrection or that Jesus was even God. For some reason whether the Gospels tell it accurately or not , the early Christian Jew Paul considered the resurrection to be an actual event and that Jesus existed. He came to believe this some time in the 40's (Galations 1:11-34) and wrote to the church in corinth in the 50's. Paul states that 250 people saw the resurrected Jesus. Once again you don't have to believe him but how did this interpolation occur? If it occured in the Gospel writters how did it occur in paul as well? The burden of proof is not on US to show that the early church did not believe in a resurrection the burden of proof is on you to provide evidence that it is an interpolation. Stating that it IS an interpolation is a type of game. By casting doubt without evidence it then becomes a game where we can disbelieve the Christ event without actually have to come to grips with the evidence.

Now I say this allowing full well that it is possible to disbelieve the resurrection. There are plenty of Jew's who didn't believe the resurrection, Paul included (until the 40's), and while I disagree with them, at least they were there and delt with the evidence honestly. They believed the resurrection was a hoax, they believed it was many different things but not a resurrection from the dead. Here we sit 2000 years later so smug and so confident that we forget that these were brilliant people who actually lived and died. Before we call Paul a liar (meaning that he made up the event even though he states things like: What I received I passed on to you, If Jesus didn't rise we won't rise, the gospel I preach was not made up) We should try and give these people to benefit of the doubt, not a blank free check but the benefit of the doubt. The way I see it play games like these are dangerous and unfair criticism to which Paul has no way of responding. It is in vogue to call anything we don't like: an interpolation. While some may be (stories here and there) I find it extremly doubious the central story (Jesus resurrection) of which the gospels and Pauls letters and the writter of Hebrews, Peter, all attest. Sure make the water into wine an interpolation, make even the miracles all of them interpolation, but I have a difficult time saying the central tenant, that people who lived concurently and wrote with in 20 years of it, cliamed to be a historic event as having NO basis in reality at all. As far as I'm concerned historically: Jesus was a real man who was killed by romans, something happened after he was dead that his followers believed he had rose from the dead. What that is becomes a question of faith but historically I stand on pretty solid ground saying that.
If you want to talk more here's my email

stonewall1012@netzero.com

mike brown said...

Jim

I seem to have failed to answer your question concerning sacrifice. You have to realize Christianity is primarily an expirence that is understood backwards. by this I mean that the event happens first and only after do we try and understand it. The christ's death as sacrifice is best explained in the book of hebrews if you really want to know. But you have to accept the fact that the reason the early church and Paul speak of it as such is because they thought of atonement in blood sacrifice terms. To be honest the more I study the Cross (meaning the death and resurrection) the more I am convinced that I understand what it IS less and less. It If you take Sausse seriously and people like Soren Kierkegaard you begin to understand that true "real" communication is never possible. We communicate with each other via signs and symbols in an imperfect manner. The Cross is a REAL event that changed me and nearly every christian you have spoken with, this means it is impossible to truely communicate exactally what the cross is in reality. In other words our minds and language are unable to comprehend all that has occured within and without us so we speak of the cross in metaphor and symbology not because it is a fake or made up thing but because it is TOO real and too life altering to say definatively what it is. Now I would contend that we all do this every day we just don't realize it. Words like peace, love, justice, goodness, contentment these words have NO external corispondance. Meaning you can not point to these things at all they have no material existance. They exist in relationship, meaning their significance lies in the complex interaction between ourselves and others. Are they real. Absolutely, unless when you tuck your children into bed at night you're saying nothing to them when you say "I love you".
The cross is the same thing. By dying and resurrecting Jesus is saying many many things to us. The significance of the cross can ONLY be spoken of symbolically, what it signifies what it means can only be fully known in the mind of God. Because we are finite we are unable to comprehen it all. The cross as sacrifice has meaning in a symbolic manner but not in an absolute manner. Lets take side journey for just a moment: Matt 9 Jesus heals a paralytic, notice He forgives the man his sins. Jesus has not yet been crucified or resurrected how is this forgiveness of sins possible? It's possible because Christ's death and resurrection is MORE than sacrifice. God can forgive sins as he chooses. The point is that as a symbol it means more than forgiveness it means Salvation.

I have to go now but I have enjoyed this little discussion please keep speaking to me

dano said...

Mike Brown wrote:
Jim
"I seem to have failed to answer your question concerning sacrifice. You have to realize Christianity is primarily an expirence that is understood backwards. by this I mean that the event happens first and only after do we try and understand it. The christ's death as sacrifice is best explained in the book of hebrews if you really want to know........"


DANO, the author of this post butt's in:

So Mike Brown!!

What I understand your answer to my question is this:

I cannot understand the "God created a different kind of man child, to have available, for sacrifice to himself" story, because I don't understand it, and the reason I don't understand it is, that I won't shut my brain off, and "Just accept it on blind faith" Right???

But then you have demonstrated much verbosity, to explain that you don't understand it either. Not to mention, much obfuscation.

So here is my answer: Per "Occams Razor":

The ole desert rats of 2000 years ago, put it in the bible, because a pagan blood sacrifice story was a standard part of most messianic religions that were being made up back then.
Dan

Jim Arvo said...

MB: "When you say you don't think Jesus exists do you mean ever or are you spouting the old stand by: 'Jesus is really a myth'"

That's a poor paraphrasing of what I said. But to answer your question, I think it is quite possible that there was no historical Jesus--I do not know for certain, but I lean toward the mythicist camp. Calling it an "old stand by" does not make the argument go away--if anything, it makes me think you are unfamiliar with the arguments. Are you going to stick with the old standby that the gospels are an historical account?

MB: "The simple fact of the matter is that the bible is NOT a single book the New Testament is a collection of letters and works circulated between 50 and -90 A.D. Yes it is a single book but many people make the mistake of thinking they were all created by a single author. They were compiled over the years it wasn't until the 4th century that we even could agree on what was holy scripture..."

Right...(although the range of possible dates is wider than you allow). We all understand that. Nobody here is making the simple mistakes you mention.

MB: "Now as to Jesus not existing. if you take Pauls words in 2 corinthians 5:14 paul himself seemed to believe Jesus was an actual person with a real life...."

Paul's words have been analyzed and argued over for centuries, and I'm not going to try to recap all that. But your stark assertion that Paul believed Jesus to be a real human being is by no means supported by Paul's epistles, let alone that he (Paul) came to know anything of Jesus except through scripture and revelation. Let's take a look at some of what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

So, what of all this talk about "dying" being "buried" and "raised" you ask? Does that not indicate a human Jesus? To our ears it does. That's one reason so many believers today think it so obvious that Jesus was a real man (that, and the fact that the gospels appear before the epistles in the NT, which lends a historical flavor to all that follows). But there was nothing in Paul's language that clearly indicates a human Jesus, as Paul and his audience were quite familiar with the Hellenistic notions of heavenly spheres that were popular at the time (particularly in Tarsus, where Paul/Saul was raised). It was common to speak of various deities living, dying, and coming back to life in other realms. Indeed, Mithra, Osiris, Isis, and dozens of others were thought to live in such a sphere, yet they "died", often grisly and untimely deaths, and even came back to life there.

To me it is beyond strange that Paul would speak of Jesus in the same way that people spoke of other deities, and NOT make painfully clear that Jesus has this very special attribute of having been a real man, who actually lived! It is beyond strange that Paul never links Jesus to any so-called historical event, such as his birth, his ministry, his trial, his Sermon on the Mount, his passion on the cross, the empty tomb, etc. It's all very abstract coming from Paul, who was by all accounts the writer closest to the "actual events".

Notice in the above passage, from 1 Corinthians, that Paul speaks of Jesus "appearing" to various people, including the 500 "brothers" and to himself. Nowhere does Paul assert that he actually met the man, except in a vision. Yet he makes absolutely NO DISTINCTION between that vision and the "appearances" to other witnesses. Nowhere does Paul express that his knowledge of Jesus, which comes from a vision and from scripture, is in any way different from anybody else's. Isn't it odd that he does not appeal to those who must have known the actual man, and heard his voice, and listened to his sermons?! There are many other oddities (even in the short passage above), but that will suffice for now.

No, Mike, Paul's words are inexplicably abstract and strange for someone who believed Jesus to have been a living breathing human being who had been put to death on Earth not many years before. Is it possible that there was a living breathing Jesus? Sure it is. I just don't think it's very probable given what evidence we have.

MB: "...If the resurrection is an interpolation into the gospel narratives what is paul talking about?"

I think you are confusing several things here. Nobody is suggesting that the entire idea of a resurrection is an interpolation in the gospels. I certainly have never suggested such a thing. I accept as a fairly well-established fact that an evangelist by the name of Paul (and others) believed in such a thing very early on--possibly the first half of the 1st century. However, there is almost nothing to suggest that this belief was anything more than what was believed of other deities at the time--i.e. a spiritual event that took place in one of the many heavenly realms (specifically, one of the "lower" spheres, which resembled Earth in that death was possible). There are absolutely no "historical" details attached to this event until the gospels. It is the latter that are very likely midrashic interpolations coupled with some other hero-type stories that were circulating at the time.

MB: "Now you dont have to even believe in a resurrection or that it actually happend to agree with this. All this really prooves is that a jewish Pharisee believed Jesus was resurrected."

I agree. He very likely did believe such a thing. But it does not appear that his conception of the event was anything like what is described in the Gospels.

MB: "...the early Christian Jew Paul considered the resurrection to be an actual event and that Jesus existed."

Probably only in a spiritual realm. If he believed in a more concrete Jesus, then he seems to have kept that to himself. However, this would have been very strange for it would have very clearly differentiated his Jesus from other deities of the time, and it would have been an enormously useful recruiting tool among the gentiles.

MB: "Paul states that 250 people saw the resurrected Jesus. Once again you don't have to believe him but how did this interpolation occur?"

Usually the number is translated as 500, but no matter. Paul refers to these "brothers" as having seen Jesus using the same language that he describes his own vision of Jesus. Paul mentions absolutely no other details about these appearances: he does not describe what they saw, who those people were, how they reacted, or how he came to know of those appearances. The Gospel writers also make no mention of this fact. For all these reasons, Paul's statement concerning the "500 brothers" is about as weak as any evidence could be.

MB: "Stating that it IS an interpolation is a type of game. By casting doubt without evidence it then becomes a game where we can disbelieve the Christ event without actually have to come to grips with the evidence."

Who is "casting doubt without evidence"? I've studied what many scholars have said on both sides of the issue, and I've carefully considered the evidence in both directions. I feel there is a great deal of evidence that the bulk of the Gospel stories consist of midrashic interpolation. The evidence is in the traditions of the time, and clues that appear in the Gospel stories themselves. There are some amusing blunders and redactions that point very clearly (in my opinion) to the process of interpolation. Couple that with Paul's strange silence on any historical aspect of the story, and I think the case becomes compelling that Jesus as a man was a later invention. However, I still allow for the possibility of such a man. I think the case is far from settled, and may never be.

MB: "...By dying and resurrecting Jesus is saying many many things to us. The significance of the cross can ONLY be spoken of symbolically, what it signifies what it means can only be fully known in the mind of God."

I actually agree with a few of the things you said; e.g. words being symbols that are only imperfectly understood, etc. That's all fine. I have no problem with such philosophical ideas (Wittgenstein is one of my favorite philosophers). However, I don't see how this helps your case unless you wish to admit that the word "sacrifice" is to be understood in some new way. In other words, unless you wish to admit that you cannot answer the question "what was sacrificed" because the word means something else altogether--in which case, we can make no sense of the assertion that Jesus sacrificed something. To me, this is just another species of the "God works in mysterious ways" mantra, which is equivalent to "I don't know".

MB: "...Christ's death and resurrection is MORE than sacrifice. God can forgive sins as he chooses. The point is that as a symbol it means more than forgiveness it means Salvation."

But now you are claiming that the action ACTUALLY WAS a sacrifice (in our usual understanding of that word?) and THEN SOME. If that is the case, then you should be able to point to something that was sacrificed, should you not?

To my ear, you still assert that something WAS sacrificed in a way that we can all understand--however, you did not say what that sacrifice consisted in. Can you boil it down to a more concise answer? "I don't know" would be fine--I'm just not sure that's what you're saying in the end.

mike brown said...

Jimarvo, thanks fore responding so throughly, I have enjoyed our conversation:)

You wrote: "However, there is almost nothing to suggest that this belief (the resurrection)was anything more than what was believed of other deities at the time--i.e. a spiritual event that took place in one of the many heavenly realms (specifically, one of the "lower" spheres, which resembled Earth in that death was possible).

Yes there are lot's and lot's of stories running around this time and they seem very interesting indeed. Theres a couple of problems with this theory, I heard this one as well. Problem 1: just because a story has a kinship to another story it does NOT follow that they copied each other. The similarity my be uncanny but that's not impossible.

If I (God forbid) fell in love with my mother and killed my father it does not follow that it is impossible for me to do these things simply because Oedipus was written. It is possible. What compounds this issue is the number2 issue:

The hellinizing you discussed certainly could be true of many many people but the Jewish mindset was very different. You accuse, I'm not sure who, of "making up" the story, but a common Jewish thought about resurrection was a bodily, physical resurrection. If you examine the maccabean's when threatened with his hands being cut off he said essentially: go head I'll get them back. This is not the words of a person dealing with neo platonic works. Go head and cite Philo I know he was pretty platonic but you must remember he is trying to appologize to a platonic world. The Hellinized -Jewish world is not as neat or clean cut as you make it out to be. When Paul speaks about having sex with a prostitute he claims this is done against Christ's body(1 corinth 6:18-20) His claims about what happens to people taking communion in an unworthy manner is also imformative in chap 11. So what ever spiritual - physical metaphysical assertions you are basing your assumptions on you need to be very careful. I don't think they are as clear cut as you would paint it to be.

mike

more to come I have to go to church

.:webmaster:. said...

Did you get that Jim? YOU NEED TO BE VERY CAREFUL!

Oh brother.

boomSLANG said...

MikeB: Problem 1: just because a story has a kinship to another story it does NOT follow that they copied each other. The similarity my be uncanny but that's not impossible.

This is very interesting, because in this case, we are supposed to view odds that don't look like "coincidence" AS merely coincidence, right? Right. Yet, in the "God is real" thread, another Christian would have us believe that his "premonition" that he would win some money was NOT merely coincidence.

So, from one Christian we get, it's "not impossible" that the odds of one set of circumstances are coincidence..... yet, we get an implicit "it is impossible" that it's coincidence from another, on a different set of circumstances. Anyone see the pattern, here?

BTW, yes!...be careful Jim Arvo! lol!

Jim Arvo said...

MB: "When Paul speaks about having sex with a prostitute he claims this is done against Christ's body..."

But people even today speak of "Christ's body," as in the Catholic communion ritual, and even in a literal sense, as in the morbid notion of transmogrification. Clearly, there is no Jesus walking the Earth in the flesh in the present, right? So, talk of "Christ's body" does not immediately imply a physical Jesus.

The larger point is this: Spiritual talk is often couched in physical terms--as powerful metaphors. Just look at what Christians say today about having a "relationship" with Jesus, and "talking" to him, or "walking" with him, as if he were a physical being. All this talk is curiously devoid of specific physical details, however, such as what Jesus looks like, or the tenor of his voice. We see something very similar in Paul's letters. He uses many physical metaphors, as do all believers, but he mentions nothing that fixes these details in the physical realm.

MB: "The hellinizing you discussed certainly could be true of many many people but the Jewish mindset was very different."

It's funny that you should mention the Jewish mindset. I'm quite aware of some of the implications, and I think this actually works quite powerfully against the idea of a human Jesus. The Jews regarded any anthropomorphizing of god to be a terrible blasphemy, and they put people to death for seemingly trivial infractions. It's nearly inconceivable that a Jew at that time would embrace the idea of god becoming human, which leads directly to another incongruity in Paul's letters. Paul would have faced enormous opposition from the vast majority of Jews if he touted the blasphemy of god becoming flesh. Yet we see no explicit defense of this idea in Paul's letters, which suggests that he never espoused the idea. How is it that reconciling the idea of a human Jesus with an all-powerful god dominated theology and created enormous rifts centuries later, but did not even warrant mention in Paul's time? (A very likely answer: the idea of a human Jesus was not on the table at that time.)

MB: "So what ever spiritual - physical metaphysical assertions you are basing your assumptions on you need to be very careful. I don't think they are as clear cut as you would paint it to be."

I honestly don't know what "physical metaphysical assertions" you're referring to. I've stated that Hellenistic ideas were widespread at the time, even in Paul's home town of Tarsus, and that Paul's statements about Jesus make perfect sense in that context. I'm making no assumptions or assertions here--I'm stating what I see as the facts. There is clearly much debate about what those facts imply--e.g. whether that is how Paul intended his statements. In my opinion, it requires a leap to assert that Paul knew of a physical Jesus, because there is scarcely a thing to suggest that he did. Moreover, there would have been tremendous incentives for Paul to emphasize this fact if he knew it to be so--at least among the gentiles (but not the Jews!)--as I briefly suggested before.

I don't think there is anything clear cut about the Jesus character, and I don't think I implied that there was. I said that I doubt we will ever know the truth with anything approaching certainty. The point I've been trying to make is that the case for a historical Jesus is not clear cut--in fact, it's surprisingly dubious. There is a wealth of tantalizing evidence that there was no historical Jesus, although nothing conclusive. In my opinion, those who lightly dismiss the idea of a mythical Jesus do so largely out of ignorance or because of the pervasive misinformation that churches often promulgate.

mike brown said...

I suppose I should be clear in what I'm talking about...

by metaphysical assertions I'm talking about the problem of Jesus's existance. Yes, when one demands absolute certainty than sure, you could doubt anything. As far as I'm concerned since Immanuel Kant few have promoted absolute certainty. I know your not claiming anything like that interestingly enough it requires some faith and trust especially when it comes to the ancient world. Knowing about the ancient world is very doubious and difficult. Things are not easily discerned.

Let me give a few examples: Alexander the Great if there is anyone who we all could agree upon as existing it would be Alexander the Great. But if you take a moment and examine the sources you discover they are rather quite doubious. They are as follows:

Plutarch - Written 75 A.C.E.

Arrian of Nicomedia – written 120 A.C.E.

Quintus Curtius Rufus – written 41 A.C.E.

Diodorus of Sicily – written between 60 -30 B.C.E.

Now I dont' doubt Alexanders existance and I feel that the four authors writtings are as accurate as we can get them. But they are not eye witness, they are not even collections from eye witness, they are combinations from secondary sources. Meaning that they are like reading a high school history book, they are third level sources.

Likewise, in Caesars conquest of Gaul we have his own words of the conquest, but thats it. Did Rome's control extend to Gaul, or was that only Caesar propaganda? Was it a conspiracy to build up Caesars powers? Of course such a question is unfair and kind of silly.

My point is that any knowledge about anything prior to 1500 A.C.E. is easily cast is doubt. That's my point. Unless your willing to say we know nothing about the world prior to 1500 we have to release our doubt and begin to give the benefit of the doubt.

You also wrote:

"It's nearly inconceivable that a Jew at that time would embrace the idea of God becoming human, which leads directly to another incongruity in Paul's letters."

I think your mistaking current evangelicalism with ancient kergyma. Certainly the early church considered Christ to be God, However they spoke of him as the messiah, the anointed one of God who God had raised from the dead. It was the resurrection that seemed to place Christ in a catigory all of his own. Which brings us to my last point

"Yet we see no explicit defense of this idea(incarnation) in Paul's letters, which suggests that he never espoused the idea."

You have to remember who he is writting to. Paul was writting to Greeks not to Jews. They didn't have a huge problem with god's becomming human it was the resurrection, the body coming back to life, that has a huge hang up for them. For them spirit was superior to Flesh. Lastly this back and forthness is funny to me...

Your Last post you said that the Jesus becomming God was a hellinized idea. But the gospel of Matthew is clearly a Jewish document. Mark you could make a good case for not, but Matthew. It is clearly written by a Jew for Jews. You yourself just stated that Jews were against this idea(incarnation). You can't have it both ways. How did a Jew around 70 A.C.E. get this idea about Jesus without being helIinized. If Jews were so againt God becoming flesh suppose than the somthing did happen so that is not clear cut. I'm just not clear on how your putting all this together. For me Occams answer is the easiest.

Matthew was written by a follower of the human teacher Jesus. Sure he allowed some developing theology to influence his story, but that is all part of the problem. Where did that theology come from so it could influence him (ie born of the Holy Spirit, miracles, resurrection)? Finally where are the Jewish assertions that Christ wasn't real? There are a pretty good number of anti christian Jewish writters who call Jesus a soceror magician, ect. where are the one's who claim he doesn't exist?

.:webmaster:. said...

"Certainly the early church considered Christ to be God,"

No, many of the early church considered him to be something less than Yaweh in the flesh. There are many other early scriptures besides those that were voted into the New Testament that assign the Jesus character a different role than that of a god.

"Matthew ... is clearly written by a Jew for Jews."

That is not clear; it is merely assumed. What is clear is that Matthew was written in Greek for Greek speaking people.

When it comes to ancient history, as soon as the writers start saying the hero in their story is a god with unbelievable supernatural powers, that's when the story starts to lose all credibility. Up until that point there may be doubt about certain parts of the story, but references to magic tens to relegate the story to the area of fantasy and myth. Or do you believe the often repeated stories that Zeus became a golden shower and impregnated certain women? If not, why not?

Jim Arvo said...

MB: "...when one demands absolute certainty th[e]n sure, you could doubt anything."

Please, let's avoid that old straw man. Nobody is demanding or expecting absolute proof of anything. It all comes down to the weight of evidence--nothing more.

MB: "...it requires some faith and trust especially when it comes to the ancient world."

I don't see where faith has any role at all. One can provisionally accept what one scholar says, weigh the evidence, and compare with what other scholars say. There is rarely a universal consensus, but often some diligence will reveal which argument is the stronger. That's all I expect. That's all I look for.

MB: "My point is that any knowledge about anything prior to 1500 A.C.E. is easily cast is doubt. That's my point."

If that's your only point, then we've nothing to argue about at all. Of course, the further back one goes in history the more difficult it is to get a firm grasp on the facts. I don't think anybody has suggested otherwise.

MB: "Unless your willing to say we know nothing about the world prior to 1500 we have to release our doubt and begin to give the benefit of the doubt."

You just drove off a cliff with that statement. Why would you decide to "release doubt"? I thought we just agreed that ancient history is filled with doubt. And why go to the other extreme and say that we know nothing, unless you are talking about being absolutely certain? If it's the latter, then you needn't appeal to ancient history. Virtually everything we "know" can be challenged. It comes down to degrees of certainty. In general, we are less certain of events in ancient history than we are of things in recent history. Of course, our level of certainty also depends on the type, quality, and quantity of the available evidence. I honestly don't see what the problem is, unless you insist on attaining absolute certainty; in which case, I urge you to pursue mathematics.

Concerning the Jewish mindset, let me clarify: Clearly there were, at some point, Jews who believed in god becoming flesh. Yes, that's not in dispute. My point was that there was an overwhelming bias against such ideas in the Jewish culture of the first century. Surely you will admit that the vast majority of Jews would have found the idea repugnant. Paul, being an evangelist (admittedly, mainly to the gentiles) was attempting to "sell" his view of Jesus, and therefore spent considerable effort in clarifying and defending various departures from previous beliefs. For example, he needed to address the status of the OT laws; i.e. where they still in effect or not? Did all males still need to be circumcised or not? How did one's status as a Jew or gentile enter in? However, Paul neither addresses the problems that arise from Jesus being a human (i.e. the blasphemy of that specific point according to the Jews), nor exploits this as a desirable feature (as it differentiates his deity from all the others) among the gentiles. It never comes up in Paul's writing. Given the many implications of that particular issue, I find it extremely strange that Paul would be silent about it.

Now, you have not leveled this charge, but apologists will often call what I just said an "argument from silence" and thereby disregard it. To head off any such charges, let me explain the difference between legitimate and fallacious applications of "arguments from silence". If I were to infer that your mother was an alcoholic from the fact that you did not state anything to the contrary in a five-minute conversation, that would be fallacious unless there was some reason to expect you would bring it up at all. However, I could make a rather strong inference that you were not on fire based on your lack of reference to such a circumstance, because I would expect you to make such a reference if it were true. This is what I'm saying about Paul. It's not that he simply fails to explicitly state his belief that Jesus was a human being, but that we would expect him to address the issue (for multiple reasons) if that were indeed his belief.

Although I've been clear about this from the start, it seems I need to keep hammering this point: These arguments do not prove anything. They simply raise additional doubts. Yes, there are numerous ways that one could explain Paul's writing without assuming that Jesus was mythical. For example, Paul's pervasive silence on historical matters is sometimes explained as a result of the shared "context" of his culture; that is, he did not write on matters that were well-known, and everybody already knew the facts surrounding Jesus. (I personally think this is a terrible argument, but some folks cling to it.) The question is far from settled, as I keep pointing out, and I doubt that it can be settled with anything approaching certainty in the absence of some stunning new archeological discovery. The question comes down to the balance of evidence. My feeling is that there is more compelling evidence pointing toward a mythical Jesus than toward a historical Jesus, so that's the way I lean at present.

Jim Arvo said...

MB: "where are the Jewish assertions that Christ wasn't real? There are a pretty good number of anti christian Jewish writters who call Jesus a soceror magician, ect. where are the one's who claim he doesn't exist?"

The assertions that Jesus was a sorcerer were recorded in the Talmud, and they are all quite late: at least second century, if memory serves. They were responses to an already pervasive Christian cult that had grown up around the idea of an earthly Jesus, which was already the dominant (but not exclusive) Christian dogma at that point. As for those who thought Jesus was spiritual (NOTE: "spiritual", not "mythical"), you needn't look beyond the Christians themselves. There were many different Christian cults in the first century, including those who maintained the more traditional Jewish outlook and believed in a purely spiritual Jesus (such as the Gnostics). They thought that all talk of a human Jesus was blasphemy, and completely rejected such a notion. I think it quite plausible that such views were indicative of the earliest Jesus cults.