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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You got me there. I am no historian. Now I feel bad for buying the book. Maybe I can get a refund. I am beginning to think all history is unreliable. I guess I do not care about the history of Jesus because I do not believe in any god. I am now going to leave this dialogue to, what seems to me, are professionals at this topic. I apologize for my ignorance on this matter. I still give Michael an amen. Why not ? It won't be recorded in history.
Hey, no need to feel bad about it, we all make mistakes; in fact it's a testimony to your rational mindset that you're instantly willing to admit that. I wasn't trying to scare you off: I know I'm pretty combative when correcting certain statements, but trust me, it's in good sports.
I think the beauty of historical analysis is the same as that found in other branches of science: there are no dogmas and unchanging truth that is set in stone: everything is potentially changeable if good evidence is supplied, and it is this willingness to change our current beliefs when evidence is presented that makes it the best available tool to understand and unravel the richness of the past.
Of course, the corollary of this is that it might seem very "unreliable". That unreliability stems mainly from the fact that evidence is constantly weighed and re-examined though, not from some innate weakness.

And, in my opinion, it's a subject atheists should be interested in. Not only because part of our argument is that religion is a corrosive belief system that does more harm than good (and for that proposition you need, by necessity, a decent historical knowledge) and most interestingly of all, many of the very best arguments against Christianity are to be found by this historical analysis: I guarantee you that reading how Jesus' original (highly Jewish, as well as highly weird) teachings were altered and transformed by decades of non-Jewish influences and Gentiles, can only consolidate your atheism and make you a better and more knowledgeable debater.

And I'm by no means a professional historian either. But I am fairly well read on the subject :)
I am beginning to think all history is unreliable.

I certainly wouldn't go that far.

What I would say is that some historical facts can be in dispute; say when the source is a copy of a copy of a copy of a document written in an effectively dead language.

Then you get historians that add their own editorial takes as if they are fact.

In particular, when you're talking about a hot and emotional topic like religion, it is extremely difficult to get unbiased information.

When it comes to the historicity of Jesus, it is such an emotional issue for some, and there is so very, very little secular, empirical information out there; most of which is dodgy at best, it's no wonder we get so many wildly different conclusions by the so-called experts!
Actually I would ascribe the wildly different conclusions by experts ("so-called"? Lets not be anti-intellectual) to personal bias. Way back in 1906 Albert Schweitzer's ground breaking classic, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, cautioned about reconstructions of the historical Jesus that bear too close a similarity to their reconstructors.
This is in fact exactly what we see in reality:

Biblical fundamentalists like William Lane Craig look around and see an absolutist Jesus preaching the inerrant word of God? Well gee, what a surprise.
Liberal Christians (like the majority of the famous "Jesus Project") investigate the New Testament and come back with a liberal hippie Jesus who preached about love, respect and decency? Gosh, what a surprise.
Atheist posterboys and apologists like Richard Carrier or neo-pagans like Acharya S see a Jesus who didn't exist at all but is a conglomeration of various pagan myths (conveniently giving them a bigger stick to beat Christianity with)? Again - what a surprise.

The reason I read works by Bart Ehrman, Paula Frederiksen, Dale Allison, Geza Vermes is because their work has a ring of authenticity: the Jesus they come up doesn't really conform to their biases; Ehrman calls himself an Agnostic, Frederiksen is a cultural jew, Dale Allison is some kind of nominal Christian and Geza Vermes' beliefs are pretty much unspecified. Yet they come up with a flesh-and-blood Jesus who preaches apocalypsism (which none of them believe in or would have any reason to promote) and has some rather weird ideas.

Unlike the aging hippies of the "Jesus Seminar" they aren't arguing for a Jesus that is simply a reflection of their own ideologies, but for an uncomfortable and not terribly attractive Jesus who fits his historical and religious context. All of this lends it a ring of authenticity that the protestant literalist Jesus, the contrived hippy Jesus, or the pagan non-existent Jesus can never have.
I'm an atheist, but I also accept that Jesus is real.

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" - that is from the King James bible.

Sounds like how we atheist view life right? You need to use rational thought, the scientific method, always move forward and never fall into a trap of circular knowledge.

The teaching of Jesus were corrupted by churches, they turned it into religion. They use it to control the masses.

Soon, Atheists and the open minded and rational religious will form a new understanding of our history and our future.

Think about it, so much has been hidden from us. What did Jesus see wrong with the world? Why did he have a problem with the money changers?

Ask yourself, what are most humans ensalved to? Capitalism is not ethical - it only creates winners and losers and eventually a few concentrate all the power. We are watching the world wide economic system collapse, it is a failure. This cycle of boom and bust will not serve us in the future. We will throw off this system, end wars, poverty, racism, homophobia, learn not to hate, how to love, and we will learn how technology can be used to improve our lives - not enslave us for someone else's benefit.

I only ask you to look at what is happening to our world right now - there is a song by Pearl Jam - "Given to fly"

Go listen to it, remember that Eddie Vedder has maintained that he is atheist. Listen to the song in that context.

I love all of you.
You seem to have tangled reality up with a world of emotion. You're just replacing one revelation with another, some sort of ultimate goal or knowledge or truth. You have started with conclusions, and everything you work towards uncovering seems to be designed to support your conclusions. You have good intentions it seems, but you're letting them tint the way you see the world. You've just created a recipe that merges political systems, religion, philosophy, technology, etc into some grand truth. This is just religious dogma 2.0, and it is counter productive towards actual enlightenment.
My god(excuse the pun) lighten up. I was trying to throw some humor into the mix. Sorry about that. I wont happen again.
Who are you talking to?
I was speaking to you. I thought you were responding to a post I entered. Again I am sorry. I am a confused old man. Oh what a tangled web I weave.
Hey, I'll be the first to admit I could be wrong.

I think a chance for proof may be coming.

Look at it this way, if what I'm saying is reality - then it will be something with the power to bring the religious and secular world together.

As opposed to the religious being right - and all the atheists going to hell

or

All the atheists are right and the vast majority of the world's population continue to go crazy and destroy this planet and humanity with it.

So - the hypothesis I have, I hope to be right, but I accept it is certainly possible I am wrong - no one has infinite knowledge.

Let's just leave it at that - the world is certainly going crazy lately, let's see what happens.
Did you ever state your hypothesis?
You can figure it out by reading my posts.

Look, the natural reaction of primitive people to advanced cultures is to think they are Gods. It happened to the Mayans when the spanish came - people have those kinds of reactions to things they don't understand.

People who knew better around the time of Jesus (the elite), took that belief and turned it into religion to control the masses.

The people who run the major churches and banks today are one in the same. The are the elite.

Do you think for a second that all the televangelists getting rich off uneducated people's money actually believe the drivel they spew on TV?

They are driving around in luxury cars just like the bankers.

I'm telling you, the secular and religious on this planet are divided by lies.

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