Apparently you can't do polls on here.... but

Do any of you think that Jesus actually existed? What do category do you fall into?

A. Believed he existed, claims are false

B. Believed he existed, claims are exaggerated

C. Don't believe he existed

D. Believe he existed, claims are true (sorry had to leave the idiot category open)

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I really don't know if he existed or not. Certainly the historical record does not establish that he did. If he did exist he was just a man another man.
It's VERY convenient that [Paul's] the only who one who was known to have had contact with the Jesus of the New Testament.

Important distinction: Contact with Jesus' ghost; not Jesus himself. The earliest of Paul's letters are dated at least 30 years after Jesus supposedly died. By his own writings, Paul states that he never met Jesus in person, only saw a vision of Jesus on the Road to Damascus.

To date there are exactly zero credible eye-witness accounts of Jesus while he was still alive. While that in and of itself doesn't prove non-existence, it doesn't bode well for existence. Especially for a guy who was supposed to have stirred quite the religious/political hornet's nest. Especially since Rome was quite good at record-keeping for its time.
Yeah, you would think that the "multitudes" he fed with the five loaves and two fishes would have sent a thank-you note. Or the crowds he appeared to after the resurrection would tell a friend or two. You'd think they would write home about it. Or Pilate would. Or Herod, who marveled at Jesus "fame". Or someone who saw the eclipses and dead saints walking around would have mentioned it. Or the "slaughter of innocents" from Jesus birth would have at least gotten a mention somewhere.

But no: Zip, nothing. It's almost as if it never happened.
C. Jesus is a fictional character in a fictional book.
-Staks
Well, even if one could say there might have been a "historical Jesus", no one who is a "Christian" really cares who he was.
There wasn't a historical Jesus any more than there was a historical Voltamort.
I select answer C. I don't believe such a person existed. He was most notably cobbled together at the Council of Nicea by the Roman Emperor Constantine. There is evidence that this character is a composite of many people and not actually a single individual.
Of course, whether he existed or not doesn't make a bit of difference.

It seems to make a great deal of difference to the believers and it was one of the final nails in the coffin of my own Xian upbringing. All the contradictions and hypocrisy were bad enough, but then to start digging and learn there's no evidence that Jesus was even a real person? Of all the lies that the institution of Xianity drilled into my impressionable child-brain, perhaps the greatest of all is that such a person even existed in the first place.

Whenever I ask a Xian friend, it does seem to come down to believe in historical Jesus is a requirement to follow the religion.
Which is why, incidentally, the historicity of Jesus is allowed such a lower threshold of evidence than, say Hercules. Because no one believes in the Greek Gods anymore, but unless you fudge the facts with Jesus, people tend to get upset.
B. Given the evidence for his existence as a historical figure (Tacitius Annals 15.44, to name one), I believe he did exist. Further, given the enormously powerful effect he apparently had on so many and despite not really performing any significant actions to otherwise justify such, I cannot but conclude that there had to have been very strong reasons for the effect he had on others. Thus, while I certainly do not believe what the Biblical Gospels have to say, and even less what Paul or any of his other male "disciples" promulgated, yet there was obviously something rather remarkable and peculiar about the man and his insights... and, thus, I cannot discount the possibility that he might have attained potentials we have yet to discover, and that... as he actually taught... are nevertheless within our grasp. The historical "Jesus" (Yeshua) might very well have developed capacities and potentials related to that called the "Noetic Sciences" (noetic.org) that have absolutely nothing to do with him as any "Son of God," but instead speak to the potentials within each and every one of us.

When one reads between the lines of the "Gospels," one cannot but be struck by the fact that Jesus was not at all attempting to start up some new religion... but was, to my view, attempting instead to wake people up to their own true potentials, nothing more... or less. Whether the "miracles" attributed to him were real or not (and I doubt they were... or at least were not as portrayed), yet the attitude "Jesus" reportedly projected regarding them and what he taught following them reflect a very non-religious and highly heretical mindset that I find truly fascinating and worthy of consideration despite my general abhorrence for all things religious.

When he supposedly walked on water and Peter asked to join him, Jesus immediately told Peter to come right on out and do it! And Peter actually did... for a few seconds. Such an account in a religious "scriptural" text is nothing short of astounding! No "god" or "prophet" that I know of would ever lower himself or his abilities to the common man! And yet, here and elsewhere in the canonical Gospels, Jesus does this time and time again. His message seemed very clear and pointedly NON-religious: all of this YOU can do, too, and without any need for priests, rites, rituals, or ordinances, with no need for religion. Thus, given this, anything I read that puts words in his mouth that are directly contradictory to his reported actions forces me to discount such words as the later embellishments of the "orthodox" leaders who took over after his death and who, thus, needed justification to subjugate all such believers under themselves.

It seems glaringly apparent that the actual historical Jesus did not involve himself in so much as a single religious dogma, rite, liturgy or any other such ritualistic quackery, nor attempt to lord (no pun) any such supposed "authority" over anyone. Again... for a supposedly religious text, this is absolutely extraordinary, if not entirely unprecedented.

Jesus was forever teaching that what he did was really no big deal at all... that all such was within the reach of everyone. In fact, he was constantly chiding others because they couldn't do what he did ("Oh ye of little faith"... remember?). Thus, again, indicating that he was not attempting to aggrandize himself at all, but was instead attempting to have others see their own deeper potentials ... and develop them.

Sadly it was, instead, his followers after his execution who so self-servingly turned it all into some new "religion" and, thus, completely hijacked and then derailed what his true teachings were into the true train wreck that later became orthodox "Christianity."

If you want a real laugh sometime, just compare the teachings of Paul (the real founder of what we today call "Christianity") with the canonical "Gospels" and you will find that Paul didn't have a clue to what Jesus was really teaching. Jesus taught self-empowerment while Paul taught just the opposite: religious orthodoxy and submission to religious hierarchy. To my view, this realization has given me a far deeper appreciation for the actual historical "Jesus" and what he might have actually known.

Thus... it seems to me that the real "Jesus" was most certainly not any "Son of God" (which, by the by, the "Messiah" was never prophecied to be!), did not teach religion nor attempt to elevate himself above everyone else, at all. What he seemed to teach, after first awakening people to who they truly are... is self-empowerment. This seems rather akin to the lessons found in my absolute favorite allegorical book: Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Small wonder that, despite never really accomplishing anything historically extraordinary, yet two millennia later, he is still remembered ... and just as greatly still misunderstood. Hence the religious "abortion" that is modern "Christianity."


Again ... just my $0.02 worth.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

Eh, looks awfully dodgy to me. And it is just an explanation of the supposed origin of the religion the Christians themselves were shopping around, nearly 100 years after the fact.
Your beliefs about Jesus rely on books of doubtful authenticity written many decades after the man Jeshua supposedly lived. All you can safely say is that the authors of the gospels did not believe in the same Jesus as Paul did.

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