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 The Historical Jesus 
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Well thought out post Nick

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December 23rd, 2009, 2:05 am
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Nick wrote:
I don't want to worsen your mood, Alan, but consider this: The fact that a group of people believed there to have been a man called Jesus, alive a couple of generations before, is evidence that there may have been such a man. It is not conclusive evidence, (and certainly no evidence whatsoever for any of the claims made about him) but it strikes me as more probable that Jesus existed than that the whole story is without any foundation, and is a work of pure fiction.

We must enlighten christians about the extreme flimsiness of the evidence, and demonstrating that his life was of apparently supreme indifference to the Romans, but trying to maintain the complete non-existence of Jesus seems to me to be neither necessary, nor achievable. I have no qualms with there having been a man called Jesus, just with his supposed life and teachings. The stupidity of believing in virgin births, miracles, rising from the dead and bodily ascension into heaven (all of which are obviously myths) would seem to me to be much more fertile ground for undermining faith, rather than worrying about the non-existence of Jesus. If we could prove the non-existence of Jesus, we'd really be on to something. But we can't.

I agree. Besides, it is impossible to prove the non-existence of anyone. Let me give you an example. My brother was born on 1 February 1988 and he died on 9 February 1988 in the same clinic he was born in. At the time, there was no policy of state issued birth and death certificates in Bangladesh so we don't have either. So, I can't prove with certificates that he existed. Yet, if you asked the neighbours and the people who dug the grave and attended the funeral they would testify that he existed. These people are dying one by one. Within a few decades none of them will be alive. How would anyone then prove that my brother existed? I have told our son about my brother. If he survives and remembers he may tell others about it. Doesn't the same apply for Jesus - the mortal man?


December 23rd, 2009, 5:02 am
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Trinoc wrote:
Alan C. wrote:
It does to me, take away Jesus and Christianity is dead, a result!
Take away big Mo and Islam would be dead, that would be another good result, would it not?
Do you really think many people would abandon a religion just because its founding legends turned out to be fiction? You can't combat irrational beliefs with rational rebuttal.

Look at the number of people who still follow the biblical God even though they accept that Genesis did not really happen.


Exactly right! There is enough evidence available to show that belief in god/gods or to follow religion is delusional, but people who have those beliefs are mostly not interested in the evidence that shows where their god/gods originated or that Jesus was Christian derivative of Mithras, even to the virgin birth and miracles and Christians even used the old Mithran church in Rome to establish the Roman Catholic church.

http://www.near-death.com/experiences/origen048.html

I have a Pentecostal church friend who just would never believe that god didn't exist and didn't write the bible. Even knowing that the first bible was written in Greek he denies that god would have spoken Greek anyway but must have channelled thoughts! Delusional? Yes!

Will he believe that god/Jehovah/Yahweh was invented by the Hebrews/Jews/Canaanites who previously worshipped many gods, but chose to worship just the nastiest and most demanding of them, Yahweh, their god of war? No, he won't! Sure was nasty! My friend still thinks that he's going to heaven to live for all eternity with god. Who would want to? Nasty, viscious, judgemental!


December 23rd, 2009, 6:20 am
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freddofrog wrote:

I have a Pentecostal church friend who just would never believe that god didn't exist and didn't write the bible. Even knowing that the first bible was written in Greek he denies that god would have spoken Greek anyway but must have channelled thoughts! Delusional? Yes!


When I was doing my theology degree our Old Testament lecturer assured us that the language God spoke was Hebrew. :wink:

It has long seemed odd to me that Christians say that my eternal salvation depends on whether or not I believe certain questionable assertions about history. To me, this doesn't seem a very sensible arrangement on God's part. :laughter:


December 23rd, 2009, 8:25 am
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I'm inclined to think the Jesus stories were probably cobbled together from stories about one or more real people, some or all of which could have been called Yehoshua (Hebrew for Jesus ... a common name), except for the Nativity which seems to be a complete fabrication, or rather two different complete fabrications (Matthew & Luke). It's always easier to get a myth off the ground if you include a bit of truth that people can verify ... just look at modern myths about the paranormal, alt. med. and so on.

It is a fallacious argument to say that Christian belief is tied to the historical existence of Jesus. A starting point of any theistic religion is the rejection of objective observation as evidence against divine claims (though of course any observation that seems to confirm these claims is somehow regarded as valid). Believers would continue believing even if Jesus was shown conclusively never to have existed, and non-believers would continue not to believe even if he was shown to be a real person.

If we latch on to the "Jesus did not exist" argument as evidence against Christianity then if evidence was found that there was such an individual we would have shot ourselves in the foot. Believers would claim (wrongly of course) that our only argument against them had been defeated and therefore their beliefs were correct. The fact that the existence of a person behind the myths says nothing about the supernatural claims would be conveniently swept under the carpet.

We should stick to the important issues. The existence of Jesus as an individual person is moot but irrelevant. The only important point is that all of the supernatural stuff is baloney.

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December 23rd, 2009, 12:02 pm
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Trinoc wrote:
Believers would continue believing even if Jesus was shown conclusively never to have existed, and non-believers would continue not to believe even if he was shown to be a real person.
I disagree with the second half of your statement. If someone could show me some substantial evidence that a person named Jesus existed, I wouldn't stand by a claim that it wasn't true. First, I'd look like an idiot and second, I'd have to give up my 'I'm a rational thinker' badge.

Trinoc wrote:
Believers would claim (wrongly of course) that our only argument against them had been defeated and therefore their beliefs were correct.
Believers claim our arguments are wrong now so that wouldn't be a change. I suppose the same could apply for believing in a god. We have no complete evidence but we do have strong statistical likelihood that god doesn't exist. I'll go out on a limb here and choose option B--no god. I think the same thing applies here. Statistically speaking, it's just as likely that Jesus did not exist based on evidence presented.

At first, I thought the distinction wasn't important as to whether he existed or not but as I got to thinking about it, why are we giving credence to the idea that this character existed at all? Because the church decried it so? Because it'll mess up BCE and AD in our reference to the past? :D No, what's more likely is that we've heard about this dude for so long that we forget to question how he came about. It doesn't just stop at jesus though-- what about mary and her claims to fame as well. Did she even exist? Sorry, now I'm just getting off topic. :D

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December 23rd, 2009, 1:47 pm
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Trinoc wrote:
I'm inclined to think the Jesus stories were probably cobbled together from stories about one or more real people, some or all of which could have been called Yehoshua (Hebrew for Jesus ... a common name), except for the Nativity which seems to be a complete fabrication, or rather two different complete fabrications (Matthew & Luke). It's always easier to get a myth off the ground if you include a bit of truth that people can verify ... just look at modern myths about the paranormal, alt. med. and so on.

It is a fallacious argument to say that Christian belief is tied to the historical existence of Jesus. A starting point of any theistic religion is the rejection of objective observation as evidence against divine claims (though of course any observation that seems to confirm these claims is somehow regarded as valid). Believers would continue believing even if Jesus was shown conclusively never to have existed, and non-believers would continue not to believe even if he was shown to be a real person.

If we latch on to the "Jesus did not exist" argument as evidence against Christianity then if evidence was found that there was such an individual we would have shot ourselves in the foot. Believers would claim (wrongly of course) that our only argument against them had been defeated and therefore their beliefs were correct. The fact that the existence of a person behind the myths says nothing about the supernatural claims would be conveniently swept under the carpet.

We should stick to the important issues. The existence of Jesus as an individual person is moot but irrelevant. The only important point is that all of the supernatural stuff is baloney.


:clap:

What I was tryiong to say, but much less clearly.

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December 23rd, 2009, 1:49 pm
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What would constitute a conclusive evidence that Jesus and Mary and Joseph existed? What would constitute a conclusive evidence that the supernatural claims about Jesus e.g. virgin birth, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection are true?


December 23rd, 2009, 2:21 pm
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Marian wrote:
Trinoc wrote:
Believers would continue believing even if Jesus was shown conclusively never to have existed, and non-believers would continue not to believe even if he was shown to be a real person.
I disagree with the second half of your statement. If someone could show me some substantial evidence that a person named Jesus existed, I wouldn't stand by a claim that it wasn't true. First, I'd look like an idiot and second, I'd have to give up my 'I'm a rational thinker' badge.
I wasn't suggesting that non-believers would deny the historical evidence, simply that they would (rightly) continue to deny that it has any supernatural significance.

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December 23rd, 2009, 3:22 pm
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Compassionist wrote:
What would constitute a conclusive evidence that Jesus and Mary and Joseph existed? What would constitute a conclusive evidence that the supernatural claims about Jesus e.g. virgin birth, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection are true?
There are few fields where evidence can be completely conclusive ... maths and logic, basically ... but historical facts can be established with reasonable certainty if they have been reported by several independent sources which don't share a common axe to grind. I the case of Jesus, not only is this corroboration absent, but its absence itself is historically remarkable, given the number of obsessively detailed Hebrew, Greek and Roman chroniclers who were around at the time.

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December 23rd, 2009, 3:26 pm
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Have you seen this post by Maria?

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December 24th, 2009, 12:48 am
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Trinoc wrote:
Compassionist wrote:
What would constitute a conclusive evidence that Jesus and Mary and Joseph existed? What would constitute a conclusive evidence that the supernatural claims about Jesus e.g. virgin birth, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection are true?
There are few fields where evidence can be completely conclusive ... maths and logic, basically ... but historical facts can be established with reasonable certainty if they have been reported by several independent sources which don't share a common axe to grind. I the case of Jesus, not only is this corroboration absent, but its absence itself is historically remarkable, given the number of obsessively detailed Hebrew, Greek and Roman chroniclers who were around at the time.

I agree. Thank you. Thanks Alan H for the link to Maria's excellent post.


December 24th, 2009, 1:06 am
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Alan H wrote:
Have you seen this post by Maria?
Eek! I hadn't spotted the earlier thread. Maria did all our homework for us! :)

Some reading for the morning, I think.

PS. I don't know whether this is answered later in that thread, but I think the Mayan calendar that all the 2012 fuss is about started at zero. Maybe they didn't suffer from zerophobia like European Christians (zero is the number of the Devil and other such crap).

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December 24th, 2009, 1:27 am
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Compassionist wrote:
What would constitute a conclusive evidence that Jesus and Mary and Joseph existed? What would constitute a conclusive evidence that the supernatural claims about Jesus e.g. virgin birth, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection are true?


A few YouTube videos? :laughter:

Extensive genuine historical records, not just a name mentioned here or there, eye-witness reports, quality investigative journalism, seeing it with my own eyes...

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December 24th, 2009, 1:02 pm
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Trinoc wrote:
Some reading for the morning, I think.
OK, I got as far as James using the thread as a pulpit and people started posting pictures of tinfoil g-strings, but life's too short to read the rest.

I spotted a possible pitfall, though. It appears that references to Nazareth as a major place start about 300AD, but Wikipedia suggests earlier references, and a conveniently-timed archaeological "discovery" suggests that a small place of that name existed around the time of Jesus' alleged birth.

Regardless of whether or not any of this is valid, it is a mistake to attach the supposed non-existence of Nazareth to what we say about the supposed non-existence of Jesus. If it should turn out that Nazareth really did exist at the time it would say nothing at all about Jesus' existence. Similarly, even if Jesus did exist, the Nazareth part of the story could have been added later.

We would, however, have shot ourselves in the foot once again (see my earlier post) since believers could point to the fact we had used the non-existence of Nazareth as a pivotal argument, and that it had been shown to be wrong.

It's important to stick to the arguments which are germane to the point at issue, whether it's the existence of the man Jesus or of his alleged divine nature. Semi-attaching these issues to other ones which we see as supporting our point (like Nazareth) risks our arguments falling down over an irrelevancy if these other issues should turn out to be wrong.

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December 24th, 2009, 1:21 pm
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Trinoc wrote:
Trinoc wrote:
Some reading for the morning, I think.
OK, I got as far as James using the thread as a pulpit and people started posting pictures of tinfoil g-strings, but life's too short to read the rest.

I spotted a possible pitfall, though. It appears that references to Nazareth as a major place start about 300AD, but Wikipedia suggests earlier references, and a conveniently-timed archaeological "discovery" suggests that a small place of that name existed around the time of Jesus' alleged birth.

Regardless of whether or not any of this is valid, it is a mistake to attach the supposed non-existence of Nazareth to what we say about the supposed non-existence of Jesus. If it should turn out that Nazareth really did exist at the time it would say nothing at all about Jesus' existence. Similarly, even if Jesus did exist, the Nazareth part of the story could have been added later.

We would, however, have shot ourselves in the foot once again (see my earlier post) since believers could point to the fact we had used the non-existence of Nazareth as a pivotal argument, and that it had been shown to be wrong.

It's important to stick to the arguments which are germane to the point at issue, whether it's the existence of the man Jesus or of his alleged divine nature. Semi-attaching these issues to other ones which we see as supporting our point (like Nazareth) risks our arguments falling down over an irrelevancy if these other issues should turn out to be wrong.

I agree. There may have been many messianic figures around that time. One of them may well have been called Jesus. The issues I have are with the claims of virgin birth, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection and the overarching claim to divinity. I have explored these issues through books and discussions with Christian missionaries but none of them have been able to provide substantive evidence apart from contradictory claims from the Bible.


December 25th, 2009, 8:01 am
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Marian wrote:
Compassionist wrote:
What would constitute a conclusive evidence that Jesus and Mary and Joseph existed? What would constitute a conclusive evidence that the supernatural claims about Jesus e.g. virgin birth, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection are true?


A few YouTube videos? :laughter:

Extensive genuine historical records, not just a name mentioned here or there, eye-witness reports, quality investigative journalism, seeing it with my own eyes...


Thank you. Of course, all of these could be part of the Maya (the Hindu concept of perceptual reality being an illusion) or the Matrix (neuro-interactive computer simulation) or some other illusion! I think there is no substitute for omniscience. Unless I am omniscient, I can't and won't know it all for sure.


December 25th, 2009, 8:03 am
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Compassionist wrote:
Of course, all of these could be part of the Maya (the Hindu concept of perceptual reality being an illusion) or the Matrix (neuro-interactive computer simulation) or some other illusion! I think there is no substitute for omniscience. Unless I am omniscient, I can't and won't know it all for sure.


If this is an illusion, I want to talk to whoever is running the film projector or I want my money back!
Omniscience is not an obtainable state at this time but you can check back when our new product calender comes out next week. Thank you for calling and have a nice day. :D

Seriously though, although no one knows it all, I still believe you need to stand for something or you'll fall for anything. (I can't remember who originally said that). Sometimes, I think sitting on the fence lets us off the hook of clarifying our stance and taking action. I should know, I'm Canadian and we are professional fence-sitters! :)

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December 26th, 2009, 1:11 pm
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Marian wrote:
Compassionist wrote:
Of course, all of these could be part of the Maya (the Hindu concept of perceptual reality being an illusion) or the Matrix (neuro-interactive computer simulation) or some other illusion! I think there is no substitute for omniscience. Unless I am omniscient, I can't and won't know it all for sure.


If this is an illusion, I want to talk to whoever is running the film projector or I want my money back!
Omniscience is not an obtainable state at this time but you can check back when our new product calender comes out next week. Thank you for calling and have a nice day. :D

Seriously though, although no one knows it all, I still believe you need to stand for something or you'll fall for anything. (I can't remember who originally said that). Sometimes, I think sitting on the fence lets us off the hook of clarifying our stance and taking action. I should know, I'm Canadian and we are professional fence-sitters! :)


I agree with you. It took me a long time to come to my current stance as an Ex-Muslim Ex-Christian Ex-Theist Strong Agnostic Atheist Causalitist Compassionist Humanist. The most important word here is Compassionist (hence my username). The two most important words are Compassionist Humanist (hence I am a member of the Humanist Society of Scotland). The three most important words are Agnostic Compassionist Humanist (because I am not omniscient and omnipotent and unable to become omniscient and omnipotent despite my sincere wish to be so). The four most important words are Agnostic Atheist (the existence of suffering shows that God is / Gods are either imaginary or evil) Compassionist Humanist. Enough!

I don't like the fence-sitting option even though I was a fence-sitter from 17 August 2002 (when I left Islam and stopped praying) to 12 January 2003 (when I became a Christian (Protestant) and began attending church regularly. I found fence-sitting a rather disorientating experience. It is not surprising that I became a Christian after that given that I was low and desperate for a cure from bipolar disorder type 2.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that if you are neutral about an elephant putting its foot on the tail of a mouse, the mouse would not appreciate your neutrality. I agree with him but it might be safer not to oppose the elephant and that would be of value to the neutral bystander. For example, in 1971, when the West Pakistani Army had invaded East Pakistan (Bangladesh) the UK took a neutral stance while USA and China sided with Pakistan and India and the USSR sided with Bangladesh. Of course, they all had their ulterior motives for doing so. I don't know what stance Canada had taken about Bangladesh, it was probably neutral. It all comes down to the fact that if one has enough power one can get away with anything. There is no justice, just suffering and unfairness. C'est la vie!


December 26th, 2009, 1:33 pm
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Some stories for anyone who's not convinced about how the Jesus myth came about.

Pre-Christian Christmas Stories with Other Gods
Compassionist, you should try and get Mrs compassionist to read them. :)

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December 26th, 2009, 3:38 pm
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