There are a few reasons why Christians are Christian. One of the main reasons is to do with Jesus and who he was and what he did. After all if he was who he said he was and performed those miracles, rose from the dead then it would be foolish to deny his claims about being the son of God and that the way to heaven is through him. What's a way to convince them that the gospels cannot be true?

 

 

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There is no proof of the existence of Jesus in the divine form claimed by Christanity, there is only historical conjecture because of the paucity of information concerning his life.Which is somewhat remiss of the son of man is it not ?

 As to your claim that proof of his existence, accepted by Historians, is part of the acceptable lexicon of historical authenticity, could you please present it here.

You may like to read the following skeptical approach to the existence of Jesus. It re-enforces my point that proof of his existence (whether in his divine purveyor of miracles form or not) is open to debate. And not as a fact accepted by Historians

 http://nobeliefs.com/exist.htm

 Of course xtians will disagree, however, the onus of proof lies with them as they are the people making the assertive claim that he existed.Much as  they do with God, but as they argue that they are one and the same entity, the same criteria applies. That is, it is not for atheists to prove a negative it is for the theist community to supply evidence to support their claim. However, as we have been waiting 2000 years for the proof of his existence I wont hold my breath.

It re-enforces my point that proof of his existence (whether in his divine purveyor of miracles form or not) is open to debate. And not as a fact accepted by Historians

Nobodies like Jim Walker notwithstanding, virtually all scholars agree that Christianity was based on a historical figure.

Nobody or not he is simply following a doubting skeptical agenda which posits the idea that  Jesus is a mythical character, and again there is no consensus amongst scholars there is only learned conjecture. Which is based on the best available evidence. Perhaps you might like to take a look at G.A. Wells and consider whether he is also a "nobody"

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Albert_Wells

G.A. Wells has not been a Jesus Myther for more than a decade (it's best to read the Wikipedia articles you link me to, since I've been over this stuff before) but I'll let that slide... just like the fact that he's not actually a historian but a philosopher.

NT scholars, whether Christian, Jewish or atheist, agree on very little when it comes to the life or ideas of Jesus, but what there is a consensus on is that Jesus was not a mythical character. You won't even need half your fingers to count all those who give credence to alternative ideas.

The fact is, Jesus Mythicism has existed for a century and a half and apart from the beginning of New Testament analysis, has never gained much of a following. The thesis has recently got a publicity boost among the general public thanks to atheists apologists like Pete Doherty or Dan Barker, and downright kooks like Acharya S or Freke and Gandy... (the same can be said for creationism, incidentally).

The fact is that we have multiple documents within decades of Jesus' death reported death, who all agree on the big lines of who he was. In addition to that we have two non-Christian sources who confirm his existence within a reasonable period of his death.

This is -by the standards of Ancient history- some pretty good evidence. Jesus Mythicists have spent hundreds of thousands of words trying to show that when faced with a multitude of documents who all say they're referring to the same guy within a few decades, the most reasonable conclusion is to think that they're not actually referring to that one guy (in the same way that creationists try to convince us that dozens of radio-carbon datings referring to the same date is somehow just a coincidence).

The constructions they come up with range from the totally insane, to the conspiracist, to the farfetched, but any fool can see that the historicist position is always going to be the most parsimonious.

Which is why it's held by the overwhelming majority of scholars, religious or not.

 So GA wells is a philosopher, ok, so does that mean he is unable to write anything of historical importance ?

You  then write of multiple documents fine I'll buy into that, as long as you can point them out to me.

 Then you write of 2 non-Christian sources,  but have not bothered to name them. I will, therefore, assume you are referring to Josephus and Tacitucs.Are you aware that the Josephus documents have long been considered suspect and it is now widely believed ( by Ehrman amongst others ) that they were tampered with at a later date ?

 You appear to believe that the debate is over, however, Ehrman has written on the subject recently. Admiitedly he comes down firmly on the side that Jesus did exist. But the fact that he felt moved to write it suggests that the debate is far from over.

 As for me I am not asserting that he did not exist, all I am saying is  that it is a subject worthy of debate please follow the link to an ad for Ehrmans book

http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Did-Jesus-Exist-Bart-D-Ehrman/?i...

So GA wells is a philosopher, ok, so does that mean he is unable to write anything of historical importance ?

Unable? No. Just unlikely.

Consider how we think about, say, creationist mathematicians or creationist engineers making a case for a Young Earth. Are they unable to write anything sensible about biology? Perhaps not.

But if the entire community of actual historians/biologists remains unconvinced, any fool can see that their case is simply not that good.

And again, GA Wells has already changed his mind on this issue, so you might want to pick a better example.

You  then write of multiple documents fine I'll buy into that, as long as you can point them out to me.

Both the gospels and Paul's original Epistles (6 or 7 of them) document the beliefs of early Christians, and all of them seem to believe in the existence of a Jewish preacher called Jesus, who lived in Nazareth and was crucified by Pontius Pilate somewhere in the 30's CE. So a few decades before they were writing (which is about analogous to stories about what happened in the 60's or 70's).

The most likely origin for these beliefs is that there actually was such a guy. Alternative explanations can be offered, but it's not hard to see that they're always going to be more farfetched than the historicist position.

Then you write of 2 non-Christian sources,  but have not bothered to name them. I will, therefore, assume you are referring to Josephus and Tacitucs.

Correct.

Are you aware that the Josephus documents have long been considered suspect and it is now widely believed ( by Ehrman amongst others ) that they were tampered with at a later date ?

I'm well aware of that, but it's a bit too slick. See, we have one reference to Jesus in Tacitus and there's actually two passages in Josephus referring to Jesus (one being the Testimonium Flavianum and the other being a reference to Jesus' brother James). Only the TF is actually suspect since it has clearly been altered to some extent, which means that even if we drop this from the argument altogether, there's still two well-accepted references to Jesus by two very capable historians.

And even when it comes to the TF, the majority opinion (especially since the 1970's when an Arabic-Coptic transscription of this passage was found, which seems to be the original) is that this passage has been altered by late Christians - not invented out of whole-cloth. The interpolations, after all, stick out like a sore tooth, but the rest of it is classic Josephean.

 You appear to believe that the debate is over, however, Ehrman has written on the subject recently. Admiitedly he comes down firmly on the side that Jesus did exist. But the fact that he felt moved to write it suggests that the debate is far from over.

You seem to misunderstand his intention of writing his book then. Ehrman is writing for a popular audience with this book; he knows that Jesus Mythicism is a position that a large part of the public holds, and he's writing a book to show them the reasons why the existence of Jesus is accepted by virtually all scholars.

This is no different from Richard Dawkins writing books arguing for evolution. To take this as an indication that there's still debate on whether or not evolution has occurred in academic circles, would be mistaken. 

The debate on this point is over in academic circles. Which is why it's so sad to see atheists falling for the side that has repeatedly failed to substantiate its claims.

As for me I am not asserting that he did not exist, all I am saying is  that it is a subject worthy of debate please follow the link to an ad for Ehrmans book

I'm all for more historically literate people, so by all means go read Ehrman's new book (as well as his former books, which are quite formidably as well). I don't have an issue with this subject being debated.

The issue I have is that the debate tends to be waged very deceptively, while (like the creationism-evolution) it's over in academic circles. So debate the subject by all means and test your beliefs... but let's do so while keeping the facts in mind.

What scholars? Biased Christian ones?


The vast, vast majority of scholars. Christian and non-Christian.

Many seem unaware that the most respected scholars in modern Bible scholarship, like Bart Ehrman, Geza Vermes, Paula Frederiksen and Maurice Casey, are all non-Christian. Yet they don't have any time at all for Jesus Mythicism... because it is largely a position based on ignorance about the historical method.

The Bible presents no more than second hand hearsay.


I agree. And second hand hearsay is more than enough to verify someone's existence, especially if there are different strains of hearsay (multiple gospels and Paul) which we can contrast against each other.


For the vast, vast majority of Ancient figures -even spectacularly famous ones- we don't have first-hand sources, let alone "forensic" or "archaeological" evidence. What were you expecting to find? Jesus' clothes and ID?

You know, if you don't have a clue about how historical analysis works, it's best to stay out of conversations of this kind.


As I said nothing. No contemporary or primary sources to confirm a jesus of the christian variety ever lived.


The same can be said for Hannibal, Arminius, Boudicca and tens of thousands of other extremely important figures.

So does this mean that (a) we shouldn't believe any of these people ever lived or (b) those standards of evidence are unrealistically high, and we should scale them to correspond with the amount of evidence that can reasonably be expected.


If that last sentence was too hard for you I can use smaller words, don't be afraid to ask.


Maybe because the points are valid and they have no argument to counter it.


Yes, yes, of course. And the only reason biologists don't accept the truth of creationism is because "they can't counter it", I'm sure.

The reason Jesus Mythicism has zero academic traction among non-Christians is because it relies on embarassingly bad arguments. Like yours:

You totally avoided the other points in my previous post no doubt countering what you thought you could defend with trivial mumbo jumbo.


That "trivial mumbo jumbo" was an analogy that utterly destroyed your facile attempt at an argument.

However, it clearly whistled several miles over your head, so I'll put it more simply: since we don't have any archaelogical and forensic evidence for thousands of other well-attested figures in the Ancient world, to expect it for this particular figure is unreasonable.


This is not my first go around with this.


Really? It's not showing.


Fact is no evidence exist outside the Bible of this jesus......and what does exist is hearsay and interpolation on the part of later scribes to insure the lie continues.


That's a nice try, but unfortunately it's far too simplistic.

First of all, to wholly disregard the Bible is fallacious. The Bible is a set of books which contains at least 3 independent attestations of Jesus' existence. Attestations of this kind can not be taken at face value (nothing in Ancient history is) but can't be wholly discarded either.

Second, we also find two references to Jesus in Flavius Josephus. One of these references has been contested (the Testimonium Flavianum) but the consensus among scholars is that there was an original reference to Jesus there originally - especially after the discovery of a Coptic-Arabic transscription of the passage which lacks the interpolation. And then there's another reference later on to Jesus' brother James, which is not contested at all.

And thirdly, there's another extra-Biblical reference to Jesus in Tacitus, which is also considered genuine by virtually all scholars (since it is actually anti-Christian and entirely in keeping with Tacitean grammar).


That's good enough evidence to make the existence of a historical Jesus the most likely hypothesis... unless you want to try to create an alternative one and back it up with at least as much evidence.


Really? Carry that argument into a court of law and see how far you get.


There is a very clear and rather obvious difference between a judicial process trying to find out what happened at a crime scene a couple of years ago, and a couple of millenia ago.

The fact that we don't have contemporary accounts for the existence of Jesus is about as significant as the fact that we don't have his dental records; the two are irrelevant for roughly the same reason.

For those curious, this set of replies was addressed to a user named "CW", who has now apparently deleted his account and all his replies (curiously a few hours after this post), but reincarnated himself in the account of "CP Hold".

I apologise for the inconvenience, but for those interested the argument can still be followed.

I lost my breath silently reading all of that...

Anyway, I like your argument and I fully understand and agree having no previous knowledge on the subject. 

It takes some time for new atheists to learn that they don't have to bunker their position now that it's rational. It's an old habit from defending irrational ideology based in mysticisms. It'll sink in one day that their no longer playing defense. I think "CW" might have exchanged the old christian pill box of, "faith" for "Jesus was never real". CW hasn't come to realize it's irrelevant if he was alive or not, it brings nothing to the table.

Did you know Snow White was a real person? The motives in the real events were the same but the dwarves were orphan children forced to work in mines. Not magic diamond mining hobits. The children found her raped and beaten half to death. They hide her for a short time but eventually she was discovered and the same person that had her dragged off the first time succeeded in poisoning her the second time. Does that validate witchcraft and resurrection kisses? Nope. CW will figure it out soon enough.   

Hi Brian,

It takes some time for new atheists to learn that they don't have to bunker their position now that it's rational. It's an old habit from defending irrational ideology based in mysticisms. It'll sink in one day that their no longer playing defense. I think "CW" might have exchanged the old christian pill box of, "faith" for "Jesus was never real". CW hasn't come to realize it's irrelevant if he was alive or not, it brings nothing to the table.


I think that's one aspect of why this idea is appealing to atheists, yes. I don't think it's a coincidence that many of the people who peddle this thesis, are ex-fundamentalists of some kind. When they deconvert, they seem to go from the extreme of "Everything the Church tells me is the infallible word of God" to "Everything the Church told me is a lie, and is the result of wicked and psychopathic institutions with a fetish for world domination willingly and consciously perpetuating these lies."

They trade one kind of black-and-white thinking for another. Since a large part of rationality is arguable to be able to think in shades of gray, they don't seem to make much progress at all.


But many others find it appealing, not because of this defensive appeal, but because of its offensive appeal. Many of us spend at least some part of our lives debating with religious people, and for the New Atheists actively seeking to deconvert others, there's always the call of the Dark Side: to beat Christianity with the biggest stick you can find (i.e. Jesus did not exist) instead of with the biggest reasonable stick you can find (i.e. Jesus was wrong).

It's a temptation.


Did you know Snow White was a real person? The motives in the real events were the same but the dwarves were orphan children forced to work in mines. Not magic diamond mining hobits. The children found her raped and beaten half to death. They hide her for a short time but eventually she was discovered and the same person that had her dragged off the first time succeeded in poisoning her the second time. Does that validate witchcraft and resurrection kisses? Nope. CW will figure it out soon enough.   


I didn't know that, no. Certainly interesting: it shows that most stories are ultimately based on some kernel of historicity.

Still, I hesitate to use that comparison because one of the things that seperates actual fairy-tales of this kind (even though they can still be historical to some extent) from the gospels is that the gospels are very specific about where the described events took place, what timeframe and who was involved. It's not "long long ago in a land far away", it's "Jesus was born in this town, when this guy was king, was crucified by this guy and met such and such".


Some of what they say is contradictory, of course, but they all (Paul, all the gospels, Tacitus, Josephus) agree that Jesus was some Jewish preacher living in the 20's and 30's who got crucified by Pilate. Jesus Mythicists find all kinds of nifty alternative explanations (read: assumptions) for how all these people could think this and still be totally wrong... but clearly the most likely explanation is always going to be that they all agree on when and where the guy lived because the guy lived then and there.


That explanation needs no contrivances or elaborate assumtpions. It just works.


Kind regards,


Matt

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