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Christianity Thomas on 12 Dec 2009 12:22 am

Question from a Christian – “What do you do with the secular writings about Jesus Christ? Please explain to me how you could say that Jesus Christ never lived, that there was no Jesus Christ.”

A question from a Christian, in the form of a YouTube video:

nesbittdm asks:

I would like to pose this question to anyone who says that Christianity is completely false, or that there is no God. What do you do with the secular writings about Jesus Christ? Please explain to me how you could say that Jesus Christ never lived, that there was no Jesus Christ. Because there were many, many secular writings, and to me that would be extra-biblical proof – proof outside the Bible – that definitely corresponds with what is in the Bible. What would be your answer for that?

First, we look at the evidence that Christians use to claim that Jesus did exist. The 35 minute video below (in 4 parts) provides a summary of that evidence. It opens with:

I would like to present to you the case for the historical evidence of Jesus. Lately there have been many people who have been claiming that there is no evidence to verify his actual existence… First you should know that this view is a new one. All throughout history skeptics used to claim that Jesus did not rise from the dead, or that his miracles were only parlor tricks, or that his disciples stole his body from the tomb. But they never claimed he didn’t exist. Claiming he never existed only became possible recently, due to the long period of time that has passed since the first century. In actuality, there is much more evidence for Jesus’s existance than there is for almost any famous or important person of that time. In this presentation, we will be using only non-Biblical evidence. In other words, we won’t be using the Bible to prove the Bible. We will also be stopping after every account to address the typical skeptical questions about each claim. I warn you though – if you watch this video you will no longer be able to believe that there is no evidence for the existence of Jesus, and you might even start to question the integrity of the research of those who have told you that there isn’t. I will be quoting from the website TheDivineEvidence.com

- Part 2
- Part 3
- Part 4

The evidence includes:
1) The writings of Cornelius Tacitus (55 – 120 AD) – “considered one of the greatest historians of Rome.”
2) The writings of Lucian of Samosata – “second century satirist”
3) Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 AD)
4) Pliny the Younger
5) Celsus – Second century Roman author and opponent of Christianity
6) Gaius Suetonius Tranquilius (69 – 130 AD) – “prominent Roman historian”
Etc.

So how do Atheists refute this? By noting that there are no eye-witness or contemporary accounts of anything mentioned in the Bible. Example:

Therefore, the fact that historians make small mentions of Jesus after-the-fact, and often with words like “superstition” attached, is meaningless. Note that none of the historians above was alive when Jesus was supposedly alive. They are all working with hearsay. The fact that no contemporary historian mentions Jesus is stronger than the fact that later historians did write about him using hearsay.

This page carries that argument further, noting that there is ample contemporary evidence to prove that Julius Caesar existed, but none for Jesus:

Evidence that Confirms the Existence of Caesar is Legion

Unlike the mythical Jesus Christ, we know what Caesar looked like and we have a complete history of his life. In turn, general, orator, historian, statesman and lawgiver. We have words written by Caesar himself and words written by both his friends and his enemies. Artifacts confirm his life and death, as do his successors. Caesar established a style of government – and a calendar – which endured for centuries…

Then:

The ringing claim of “more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for any other person of his day” is followed by a potpourri of ancient sources, as if a list made long enough could disguise the fact that NOT A SINGLE SOURCE EVER QUOTED IS FROM THE TIME OF THE GODMAN.

Early non-Christian writers, including the favourite hostages – Josephus, Suetonius, Pliny and Tacitus – are discussed here.

Note what we are being asked to believe: That the God who created the universe sent his only son to earth, and that this son did things like gathering thousands of people together and feeding them with loaves and fishes that materialized out of thin air…

…But not a single eye-wittness or contemporaneous account exists.

That is not believable.

60 Responses to “Question from a Christian – “What do you do with the secular writings about Jesus Christ? Please explain to me how you could say that Jesus Christ never lived, that there was no Jesus Christ.””

  1. on 12 Dec 2009 at 12:59 pm 1.JTB said …

    nesbittdm may enjoy this thread from the forums:

    Did a man named Jesus rise from the dead?

  2. on 12 Dec 2009 at 1:53 pm 2.Foster said …

    Atheist still climbing even the historical Jesus did not exist? That would put them right there with holocaust deniers. To be fair I know a few atheist personally quite well and even they admit Jesus did exist.

    Why are atheist so passionate about destroying the belief system of someone they claim does not exists? Could it be they are attempting to somehow ease their own fear that he did exist and he is who he claimed to be? Seems quite likely.

  3. on 12 Dec 2009 at 3:50 pm 3.Michael said …

    I’m not a Christian, myself, nor do I follow any other religions, but the stridency and obsessive interest of atheists for Christianity is proof enough that something’s wrong in the atheist’s mind.

    I don’t spend a second of time on refuting the Easter Bunny. You guys need to get a life, work on your own psychological problems, and stop trying to straighten out the rest of the world.

  4. on 12 Dec 2009 at 4:03 pm 4.Rich said …

    Foster is being intellectually dishonest by comparing those of us who doubt the historicity of the jesus character to those nutcases that doubt the holocaust.

    Personally, i note that the story is so convoluted that a core historical figure might have existed. If it was *completely* fabricated, why not just match up to the prophecies in the old testament without the strange BS that puts jesus in the right place as a child? There was never a census as per the biblical story – but the writers had no other way to get the core jesus character to Bethlehem.

    That being said, the core figure was clearly nothing like the person described in the bible. If there was a revolutionary figure performing miracles, contemporary historians would have noted this. There would be judicial records kept by the romans. No such documentation exists – and judging by how notorious he became, you would expect that documentation to exist. We absolutely know that many of the miraculous events attributed to jesus were attributed to other previous godmen. Virgin birth- nothing new. Healing the sick – nothing new. Walking on water – nothing new. Resurrection after three days – nothing new.

    Even if we had eyewitness accounts, they would be worth little more than the fiction we and off-hand hearsay comments we do have. Why? Because first hand reports of miracles are quite common today, and nobody takes them seriously. Why take it seriously when a miracle is reported in pre scientific religious context of the 1st century roman empire?

    So what do we have? No eyewitness accounts. A religious document that has been translated and manipulated over the course of history. The same document was assembled BY A MAJORITY VOTE from a large number of gospels – ranging from referring to jesus as a man to those that made wild claims about his powers. No extra biblical account of miracles – and all extra biblical accounts of any kind are of debatable authenticity. No other evidence of any kind. A history of similar claims made of other religious figures that everyone dismisses. A history of manipulation by the church – pious fraud in the name of advancing their beliefs.

    How much can you tell about this core person that you presuppose existed?

    Tell me again that we’re in the same boat with holocaust deniers.

  5. on 12 Dec 2009 at 4:14 pm 5.Rich said …

    Michael – i appreciate your point of view. However, how many wars are started based on people hearing voices from the easter bunny? How many people in power may see a silver lining in a mushroom cloud over jerusalem because of how they interpret the holy book of the easter bunny? How are the easter bunny followers currently impeding medical research in the US? How are the easter bunny followers trying to inject unscientific nonsense into the biology classes? How are the easter bunny followers abusing children by making them constantly fear a nonexistent hell, and feel life long guilt for being unable to follow arbitrary moral demands? How are the easter bunny followers encouraging bigotry by setting up in-group vs out-group sentiments and “only our beliefs are right” mentality?

    Those of us who govern our lives by reason and evidence will be more intolerant towards those ideologies that have a stronger effect on our lives. I don’t attack the easter bunny, because nobody is currently making world-affecting choices based on myths of its existence.

    Dogma of any kind should be considered wicked. Belief without evidence is not a virtue. I’m not an atheist. I’m merely a person who leads a good life and is governed by reason, evidence, and rational discourse. I’m merely a person who has been unconvinced by the wild claims of religion, and seeks to unburden the world by pointing out the danger in accepting those wild claims without question.

  6. on 12 Dec 2009 at 4:51 pm 6.Severin said …

    “So how do Atheists refute this?”

    We do not.
    If Jesus existed, O.K., fine!
    Omly – he was not a god!

  7. on 12 Dec 2009 at 5:17 pm 7.DMG said …

    Why are atheists obsessed with disproving Christianity?

    The United States is spending trillions of dollars, and thousands of young men are coming home with severe physical and emotional trauma, because a god supposedly told our president to invade two countries.

    We treat fellow human beings like dog shit because of the way they were born, because an ancient and inconsistent book condemns their lifestyle.

    Our science programs spend more time arguing over a demonstrably false book than they do actually teaching science, because people insist this book is true. We now lag behind dozens of countries in education.

    Christian extremists blow up buildings and execute doctors.

    If Christians would do us all a favor, and follow their own damn book before insisting that everyone else follow it (particularly the parts about keeping your faith to yourself), then I would have no problem with their religion, and would probably leave it alone. But they don’t. Despite the fact that they can’t be bothered to follow their own book on so many issues, they still demand that all of America follow it on the issues that they choose. If I wanted to like in the dark ages, I would move to Saudi Arabia. Society has advanced however, and now feels that women and gays should be treated as equals. Its tough to deal with, I know Christians, but I would appreciate if you would stop trying to force your primitive beliefs on all of my country.

  8. on 12 Dec 2009 at 5:18 pm 8.Severin said …

    “…but the stridency and obsessive interest of atheists for Christianity is proof enough that something’s wrong in the atheist’s mind.”

    What, then, to say about ALL religions, which have obsessive interest in ALL the people in the world, for milleniums.
    If atheists are strident and obsessive, what to say for churches, and religion followers?
    Their “interest” in people, both believers and atheists, is not “obsessive”, it is VIOLENT.
    Their stridency and their VIOLENT interest in atheists AND non-atheists, their aggressive propaganda, their fight for every “soul”, religious wars waged in name of their gods, millions of people killed and tortured in name of religions and their gods, are not proof enough for you that, just maybe, there is something wrong in THEIR mind?

  9. on 12 Dec 2009 at 6:16 pm 9.CSpan said …

    http://nobeliefs.com/exist.htm

  10. on 12 Dec 2009 at 7:42 pm 10.Zortan said …

    “We treat fellow human beings like dog shit because of the way they were born,”

    Marriage is not a right, it is a privilege. No proof they are born that way. On the contrary, in my state a big lawsuit brewing over a gay couple where one is NO LONGER gay and a child is involved….ashame. Enough with born that way evidence abounds they are not. Christians die in MUCH greater number all around the world. Point refuted.

    “Our science programs spend more time arguing over a demonstrably false book than they do actually teaching science”

    Incorrect. The Bible is not taught in the classroom and when it is it is a valuable text of history and culture. Point refuted

    “Christian extremists blow up buildings and execute doctors.”

    I believe 5 times in 20 years. Atheist murdered million upon millions over 30 years. Point refuted,

    “Society has advanced however, and now feels that women and gays should be treated as equals.”

    Unlike the atheist governments they are here in the US. WOman can marry men and men can marry woman. Mormons are not allowed to practice polygamy so maybe they have an actual case of bigotry to complain about. Your point again refuted.

    DMG you have been proven a fraud. BE gone with you.

  11. on 12 Dec 2009 at 7:48 pm 11.Horatio said …

    “That being said, the core figure was clearly nothing like the person described in the bible. If there was a revolutionary figure performing miracles, contemporary historians would have noted this.”

    Actually if you have studied the historical Jesus you would find that to be incorrect. First, we have few of the the records from the Roman Empire. Many have been destroyed by fire, age and the like. Secondly. a Jew born in an unimportant village is not likely to make it in the ancient records of Rome in the first place. Even the Biblical narratives relate well how unimportant his birth was at that time. Amazing the impact this unimportant Jew has had on the world huh? Must be something to it.

    Deny all you like. No way this legends lives to this degree unless there is legitimacy behind it.

  12. on 12 Dec 2009 at 8:19 pm 12.Severin said …

    “Deny all you like.”

    Both denying and confirming Jesus’es existance as a historical person are irrelevant.

    If he did not exist, Bible and christianity are lies.

    If he existed, christians have to prove he was a god.
    Not only to SAY it!

  13. on 12 Dec 2009 at 9:59 pm 13.Fabiooltje said …

    Mohamed existed. We have historical evidence for that. It doesn’t mean that he was the prophet of god.

  14. on 12 Dec 2009 at 10:48 pm 14.Steve Ahlquist said …

    Why believe in Jesus and not Heracles? Both have about the same amount of evidence in their favor.(Actually Heracles has a bit more, and even early Christian writers believed he existed as a human, if not a god. He’s mentioned by both Homer and Herodotus.)
    But most believe Heracles is a myth, and many believe Jesus is real. I would posit that Jesus is the myth of the moment, and no more believable than Heracles.

  15. on 12 Dec 2009 at 11:34 pm 15.Toby said …

    “Marriage is not a right, it is a privilege. No proof they are born that way. On the contrary, in my state a big lawsuit brewing over a gay couple where one is NO LONGER gay and a child is involved….ashame. Enough with born that way evidence abounds they are not. Christians die in MUCH greater number all around the world. Point refuted.”

    Point(s) not refuted.

    If you really believe this about marriage, then you should respect my belief that you should get no special exemptions from being married whatsoever. It should not be a special state, but merely another meaningless religious ceremony that had nothing to do with any legislation whatsoever.

    Showing that there is such a thing as a dysfunctional gay marriage does not mean all gay marriages are dysfunctional. The Relationship Advice of the Bible is about as sound as that of the Qu’Ran or any other medieval book.

    The fact that the people dying are Christian or religious does not make it any less of an atrocity, if anything, it just makes it worse. I don’t think anyone should need to die over a silly book.

    “Incorrect. The Bible is not taught in the classroom and when it is it is a valuable text of history and culture. Point refuted”

    True. It is not taught as fact anymore in most (most!) schools, although a lot of children are home-schooled and get a disproportionate amount of Bible. However, the main point here, that religion is a massive waste of resources that could be used on real things like Knowledge and Progress, is irrefutable. There are serious debates with serious agents who want to replace Evolution with Intelligent Design. Biblical Morals have had a profound impact on sex education and on censorship. While the school may not in most cases embrace actual Biblical dominance, a lot of the information that children take in is dominated completely by Christian values and that is damaging us. Point not refuted.

    “I believe 5 times in 20 years. Atheist murdered million upon millions over 30 years. Point refuted.”

    I assume you are referring to Lenin and Stalin here. Atheism did not murder those people, a person who did not believe in God did, and it was not inspired by Atheism. You can’t be “inspired” by atheism to do anything, it is simply a lack of belief in God. There is no tenet saying you should kill anyone at all, ever. Nothing Lenin or Stalin did was rational and their actions were not condoned by “atheism,” because atheism is not an organization and can’t condone anything – nor would it.

    However, Christianity WAS used as a tool by Hitler to get into power and to justify his actions, directly. Christianity was a direct factor in the War in the Middle-East. Christianity was directly responsible for the Dark Ages and the Crusades. It is Directly Responsible for Witch-Burnings, even today! This of course is all pussyfooting around the Catholic Church’s Direct Involvement in what is going on down in Africa, or the civil rights atrocity that is going on against the gays right now. These are just the things that are literally done in the name of God, not just “done by a Christian.” I have yet to see an atrocity “done in the name of atheism.” Point not refuted.

    “Unlike the atheist governments they are here in the US. WOman can marry men and men can marry woman. Mormons are not allowed to practice polygamy so maybe they have an actual case of bigotry to complain about. Your point again refuted.”

    Your government is supposed to be secular, it’s in the constitution, but I am assuming you agree with that. You do not appear to know what bigotry means. You are saying people who choose to believe in mormonism should be allowed to change the institution of marriage, as far as I gather, but people who are gay (whether they choose to be or not is irrelevant given the former point) should not. This argument refutes itself, so I’ll just say this: Point. Not. Refuted.

  16. on 13 Dec 2009 at 12:11 am 16.Zortan said …

    “Showing that there is such a thing as a dysfunctional gay marriage does not mean all gay marriages are dysfunctional.”

    ANd I never claimed it did. It is a choice, not an innate trait. The fact individuals routinely switch proves it to be so. Pressure from Gay & Lesbians groups to make it a born trait are not supported. Point made AGAIN.

    “a lot of the information that children take in is dominated completely by Christian values and that is damaging us”

    Prove it don’t just claim it. I personally no many hundreds of christian families and kids who are outstanding citizens. Our founding government opened in prayer, read the Bible and honored Christian traditions. Seemed OK then. You point refuted AGAIN.

    “Atheism did not murder those people, a person who did not believe in God did, and it was not inspired by Atheism”

    Men with an atheist belief murdered those people because they insisted to the state there was no God. If you did otherwise you met the gulags. Stop making excuses and just admit your belief systems opens the door for power hungry monsters. Unless you can prove your belief is any more humane than another you have nothing. Pointing to evils in other beliefs does not justify your own. Your point refuted AGAIN.

    “You are saying people who choose to believe in mormonism should be allowed to change the institution of marriage, as far as I gather, but people who are gay (whether they choose to be or not is irrelevant given the former point) should not”

    AH, no I am not. Marriage should not be redefined by either. I agree with the earlier point that government should not be involved at all. Your point refuted AGAIN.

    Toby if Heracles was so powerful and to be worshipped, then why didn’t his tradition live on? Even his daddy Zeus died out. Jesus lived on in a HUGE way.

  17. on 13 Dec 2009 at 12:26 am 17.Ben said …

    Sir Frederick Kenyon, a former Director of the British Museum and one of the greatest authorities on the subject, said in his book Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts:

    The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, or early translations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.

  18. on 13 Dec 2009 at 12:40 am 18.Toby said …

    “ANd I never claimed it did. It is a choice, not an innate trait. The fact individuals routinely switch proves it to be so. Pressure from Gay & Lesbians groups to make it a born trait are not supported. Point made AGAIN.”

    Similarly, switching preferences does not prove that it is a choice. That some people are bisexual does not prove that no one is gay. Similarly, considering the massive social pressures currently resting on people to say they are straight even when they aren’t, any such switch is certainly a biased source of information. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if it is a choice. Religion is most certainly a choice.

    “Prove it don’t just claim it. I personally no many hundreds of christian families and kids who are outstanding citizens. Our founding government opened in prayer, read the Bible and honored Christian traditions. Seemed OK then. You point refuted AGAIN.”

    Prove what? That Christian groups instigate abstinence-only legislation? That Christian morals skew our view on sexuality in strange and unnatural ways, saying it’s not alright for us to show tits but okay for us to show someone getting their brains blown out? If you want proof that your founding fathers, your founding government, wanted government to be secular, it’s right there in the constitution:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    “Men with an atheist belief murdered those people because they insisted to the state there was no God. If you did otherwise you met the gulags. Stop making excuses and just admit your belief systems opens the door for power hungry monsters. Unless you can prove your belief is any more humane than another you have nothing. Pointing to evils in other beliefs does not justify your own. Your point refuted AGAIN.”

    What was that you said, prove it don’t just claim it? This is a pretty extraordinary claim, and requires some pretty extraordinary evidence. Stalin and Lenin were atheists, certainly, but it was never the reason for what they did. There is no information available to this effect. No more than Hitler did what he did BECAUSE of Catholicism. I do not have to prove that my beliefs do not cause this, you have to prove that they do. I can prove that yours does by pretty much opening a random page in history or the old testament. Mine has no such examples. Lenin and Stalin are the product of a totalitarian ideology that – if it resembles anything in this debate – most closely resembles the indoctrination of religion.

    “AH, no I am not. Marriage should not be redefined by either. I agree with the earlier point that government should not be involved at all. Your point refuted AGAIN.

    Toby if Heracles was so powerful and to be worshipped, then why didn’t his tradition live on? Even his daddy Zeus died out. Jesus lived on in a HUGE way.”

    That a lot of people believe something is not evidence that it is true. For instance, a lot of people have believed: That the earth is flat. That space is a liquid. That there are witches. That there are fairies. That there is a God.

    If Jesus was so awesome, how come there is not a single first-hand witness account of his actions? You’d think someone would have taken some note if he was really that great. Maybe, just maybe, he was just some guy, and his followers thought he was really great, and once he was dead they started exaggerating about him to make other people feel like they did. Maybe he is just a rumor that grew out of proportion. It seems more plausible than that the sum of human knowledge is completely off the marker.

    If marriage should not be possible to redefine by anyone, then how can the mormons legitimately (according to you) complain of bigotry? You must be a little bit more consistent I think.

  19. on 13 Dec 2009 at 1:28 am 19.Horatio said …

    LOL DO you realize the number of polarizing views among the FF? No my boy, I go by actions and the actions I outlined above are in the record and undeniable. Nice try but all your quote states is the there would be no state church as in England. There you go, they did not establish a state church but they did pray, read the Bible and honor Christian traditions. They even adjourned congress for a SS parade! Why didn’t you throw out the old wall clause TJ sent to the Danbury Baptists? :)

    “Lenin and Stalin are the product of a totalitarian ideology that – if it resembles anything in this debate – most closely resembles the indoctrination of religion.”

    Having studied Russian history as an ungrad,from an exiled Russian bureaucrat you are wrong. But, hey as you stated earlier, prove it and I’ll switch to this assessment. To claim they were not impacted by his very worldview is mere foolishness. They are not the product, they are the instigators embolden by the atheist philosophy.

    “That a lot of people believe something is not evidence that it is true. For instance, a lot of people have believed:”

    True enough but it doesn’t make it wrong either. This old worn out argument does not answer the question but only deflects from the previous statement. I’ll allow you to try again.

    “If Jesus was so awesome, how come there is not a single first-hand witness account of his actions?”

    Much like the fossil record, more accounts missing doesn’t mean they didn’t exists. There are MANY fist hand written accounts. See the New Testament. For that matter, look at Ben’s post above. If more believers don’t make it true why would more accounts? Could just be made up lies, right?

  20. on 13 Dec 2009 at 1:49 am 20.ZOMGBananas said …

    Zortan – So your contention on gay people is that it’s a choice, not something inherant from their birth? I ask you – do you have a preference on qualities in a partner? Do you prefer them to have blue eyes, or black hair? Can you explain exactly why these qualities are ones you pick? I would wager that your answer would be something along the lines of “I just like it” or “it appeals to me”.

    That said, if your partner, whom you love very much, has black hair, but a religious institute (any) says you cannot be with her because their teachings say you may only marry a brunette, how would you feel? That example seems stupid to you, right? You love them just the same as any other person loves their partner – the only difference is you prefer black hair as against the brunette you’re told is the only one you can be with? It’s the same thing that’s being imposed upon gay people.

    To be honest, I have seen more lies, cheating, dishonesty and immorality from believers in God, than I have from those who don’t. My old pastor cheated on his wife (and they have two children), I’ve known priests who have molested little boys (in the process, not only lusting after flesh, but also commiting homosexuality), I have been lied to and deceived personally by believers on the street wanting me to hear their story. This, all from the people who claim to have the monopoly on morality! And these transgressions are all forgiven

    The point is – if you guys pick and choose just which parts of the Bible are ones to be followed, and that you openly ignore half the teachings Jesus supposedly gave, then how do you expect people to take you seriously when you say Jesus actually existed? Especially when there is barely any evidence to prove he did exist in the first place.

    How can you claim to have “the one true faith”, yet there are multiple versions of it, and none of them can fully agree upon anything? Surely if it was the one true faith, then there wouldn’t be any discrepencies? There wouldn’t be people who believe in other gods or religions?

    Before trying to prove Jesus existed, and that he was the son of God, you really should brush up on what He said, live it (honestly), and THEN sell it to me. You’d never buy something from a salesman who had no clue about the product, or didn’t use one himself – why do you expect me to believe and trust in what you’re trying to sell me?

  21. on 13 Dec 2009 at 2:13 am 21.Toby said …

    LOL DO you realize the number of polarizing views among the FF? No my boy, I go by actions and the actions I outlined above are in the record and undeniable. Nice try but all your quote states is the there would be no state church as in England. There you go, they did not establish a state church but they did pray, read the Bible and honor Christian traditions. They even adjourned congress for a SS parade! Why didn’t you throw out the old wall clause TJ sent to the Danbury Baptists? :)

    Nothing you have said is undeniable. There are polarizing views in every group. If you are a Christian, you cannot in good conscience say you navigate by action alone, since faith is what matters.

    You saying they prayed or whatever is your claim. Prove it. Prove the other things you have said here. To me it all seems like unsubstantiated wishful thinking, and since you are the one making the claim, the burden of proof is on you.

    “Having studied Russian history as an ungrad,from an exiled Russian bureaucrat you are wrong. But, hey as you stated earlier, prove it and I’ll switch to this assessment. To claim they were not impacted by his very worldview is mere foolishness. They are not the product, they are the instigators embolden by the atheist philosophy.”

    I believe I asked for proof, not for you to repeat yourself and add an argument from authority. You are the one making a claim, you are the one who has to back it up. Perhaps they were impacted, perhaps they were just going to do what they did anyway, but the effects of communism do not need anything but communism to explain them. Atheism does not necessitate any other belief: An atheist does not necessarily have to follow, say, secular humanism. It is up to him to decide, independently and with reason, what he thinks is the best way. This is like saying Evolution logically leads to Eugenics. Evolution states that the greatest possible variance is optimal, in direct opposition to Eugenics. Atheism does not “support” anything, since it is merely the lack of a supernatural support for something. Religion can not claim this, it very specifically wants you to do terrible things, and speaks explicitly of terrible deeds that have been done.

    “True enough but it doesn’t make it wrong either. This old worn out argument does not answer the question but only deflects from the previous statement. I’ll allow you to try again.”

    I was refuting your statement, not proving anything. Since you admit that it does not prove anything, and nothing I believe hinges on how many others believe it, I will leave the matter settled here. It is your basic argument that needs to try again, in this case:
    “Toby if Heracles was so powerful and to be worshipped, then why didn’t his tradition live on? Even his daddy Zeus died out. Jesus lived on in a HUGE way.””

    “Much like the fossil record, more accounts missing doesn’t mean they didn’t exists. There are MANY fist hand written accounts. See the New Testament. For that matter, look at Ben’s post above. If more believers don’t make it true why would more accounts? Could just be made up lies, right?”

    That is true, you can never prove totally that it’s true just by having a lot of accounts. However, considering the great number of accounts we have verifying the existence of other historical personae, and considering the significance of the alleged existence of Jesus, the burden of proof should be much, much stricter than it has been so far. Yet every account of Jesus comes from the Bible or the Vatican, and the best they are able to come up with, given the apparent ocean of evidence they claim to possess, is “that it is probably in there somewhere and this probably isn’t true for anyone else.”

    I have never said anyone has proved he didn’t exist, my standpoint remains extremely clear: You can not prove that he did, and saying he existed is the falsifiable claim, you cannot prove a negative. The proof that he did is so poor, that there is no real reason to believe it was the case. The burden of proof is most definitely on you in this case, for pretty much every claim you are making.

  22. on 13 Dec 2009 at 2:36 am 22.Horatio said …

    “Lenin and Stalin are the product of a totalitarian ideology”

    Will you be proving this Toby or just throwing it out as opinion. You might want to include atheist ideology. I know its tough to admit atrocities done in the name of your worldview but it is a reality. The teaching of Christ speaks loudly against such acts so I could easily claim no murder has REALLY ever been done in the name of Christ. Twisting is so easy Toby.

    You admit you cannot prove Jesus did not exist. Good, we have a starting point. We now possess about 5,300 Greek manuscripts. Early on, the NT books were translated into other languages, which seldom happened with other Greek and Latin writers. This means that in addition to Greek, we have something like 8,000 manuscripts in Latin, and an additional 8,000 or so manuscripts in other languages such as Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopic, Coptic, Gothic, Slavic, Sahidic and Georgian.

    In addition we have the writings of Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Flavius Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Celsus and Gaius Suetonius. Now, you must prove these writings to be in error or prove these manuscripts were all manufactured lies. No other ancient writings come close to be preserved in this manner.

    Well, I’m not attempting to change your mind. Just pointing out the strength of the written record you must deal with. I wish you well in your endeavor.

  23. on 13 Dec 2009 at 2:57 am 23.Toby said …

    “Will you be proving this Toby or just throwing it out as opinion. You might want to include atheist ideology. I know its tough to admit atrocities done in the name of your worldview but it is a reality. The teaching of Christ speaks loudly against such acts so I could easily claim no murder has REALLY ever been done in the name of Christ. Twisting is so easy Toby.”

    There is no such thing as an atheist ideology. Atheism means non-theist. That is, the entire concept is that you look at the various kinds of theism, and go, that does not make sense. That is atheism. Period. If someone does not drink coffee, does that mean they have the same ideology as someone else who does not drink coffee?
    You are not making any sense here at all. I do not have to prove that they were not influenced. The standard assumption to go with is that they were not influenced until you can prove that they were. You have not. So here we are.

    “You admit you cannot prove Jesus did not exist. Good, we have a starting point. We now possess about 5,300 Greek manuscripts. Early on, the NT books were translated into other languages, which seldom happened with other Greek and Latin writers. This means that in addition to Greek, we have something like 8,000 manuscripts in Latin, and an additional 8,000 or so manuscripts in other languages such as Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopic, Coptic, Gothic, Slavic, Sahidic and Georgian.”

    Yes, and none of them prove that he exist. If they did they would have simultaneousl proven the existence of God, because they all write about him, too. They are all either in Biblical Texts, or they are reports of hearsay. All of them. It is like the text above states: The fact that we have 5300 Greek manuscripts, 8000 manuscripts in Latin, and 8000 in other languages that you mention, and none of them are first hand accounts, speaks stronger than that we have that many books about it. Like I said, you would think someone might notice, and not 200 years afterward. You can find at least the same amount of material, if perhaps not as old, among people who believe in alien abduction. And there you will find witness accounts. I thought we already decided that the amount of material wasn’t even relevant, so why are you doing this? You are not making much sense. Either way, the burden of proof is still on you to prove that he existed.

    “In addition we have the writings of Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Flavius Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Celsus and Gaius Suetonius. Now, you must prove these writings to be in error or prove these manuscripts were all manufactured lies. No other ancient writings come close to be preserved in this manner.

    Well, I’m not attempting to change your mind. Just pointing out the strength of the written record you must deal with. I wish you well in your endeavor.”

    Yes, and I am saying that all of it, every last piece, coherent or not, is hearsay. None of them even profess to have been there. The fact of the matter is that historical Jesus was not anything special until someone made a religion about him. This religion, by far one of the most successful in history, however, does explain why we have so much material left. The church was, after all, for a long time the arbiter of what was knowledge and the main custodians of that knowledge. That they would choose to prioritize Jesus is no mystery, and that they would produce a lot of writing on him – still not a mystery. You have not proved anything here, so your beliefs are not yet rational.

    Again, I am not saying there is proof there was not a guy named Jesus. I am just saying there is an equal lack of proof indicating that there was. All there is is a lot of deliberation on the mythical persona of Jesus, but that does not cut it. Especially not considering the attention he supposedly got at the time, you’d think there was something. Since I can’t find it, since you can’t show it to me, I have to assume that there is no reason to believe it exists.

  24. on 13 Dec 2009 at 5:59 am 24.Spence said …

    I doesn’t believe Plato nor Socrates existed either. It is all hearsay.

    don’t five me writings either. I want to see the testimony of a live witness.

  25. on 13 Dec 2009 at 7:35 am 25.Toby said …

    Well, the thing is, you can believe that if you want. That is okay with me. The fact of the matter is that our history of them is largely just the best assumption available to us, but it may be entirely false. I can’t prove to you that they do, but there might be evidence there somewhere already if you go look for it. The thing is, it really isn’t that important for them, and here is why:

    There is a vital difference between the classical philosophers and Jesus: If they were fictional characters, somebody still came up with those questions. We would attribute it to an unknown, if there was no Plato or Socrates, but we would still talk about shadows on cave-walls. We would still find those ideas worth-while, in large part because they are mainly just ideas. Food for thought.

    This is not true for Jesus. If Jesus was a lie, and the Bible is just made up of a collection of allegories and tidbits gathered here and there from contemporary religions with no supernatural Son of God behind it, it is just humbug. Then it’s just a bunch of stories. Sure, there may be some wisdom to be found in it, but it would be obvious that it was not a document to live your life by any more than The Brothers Grimm should be allowed to determine your lifestyle. You don’t kill people over the consequences of something you know never happened, well, not if you are well-adjusted. Sauron does not scare you, because he is fictional, but he would be terrifying if you thought he existed. The fact that there is no clear position as to whether or not Jesus existed is a strain on the legitimacy on the Bible, and since Christianity claims that he did and furthermore that he did all those things, the burden of proof lies on Christians to prove that. The great thing is, Christians – scientists and laymen – aren’t the only ones trying to prove it. Secular scientists and laymen are interested too! If the evidence is there, then they are helping you. They have come up conspicuously empty-handed so far though.

  26. on 13 Dec 2009 at 1:17 pm 26.Burebista said …

    Toby

    I think of you as the proverbial horse. If you don’t want to drink do not drink. It is true we have those who do not believe the holocaust, moon landing or even believe the world is a sphere. I find it laughable but there it is…….Go through all the research done by men like Josh McDowell (and others) who have researched this thoroughly. There is more evidence for Jesus than any man in ancient culture. His ideas were radical and life changing for the positive. If somehow I end up being wrong, I’ll be in the same hole in the ground as you with no regrets.

  27. on 13 Dec 2009 at 6:23 pm 27.Toby said …

    Thank you for that condescending argument from authority.

    To state categorically that there is more evidence for Jesus than for any other man in ancient culture is just a bold-faced lie. There are men in ancient cultures of whom we have mummies. Just by that virtue, there are ones we know more certainly existed than others. Jesus just has a convenient excuse as to why there is no body. I am pointing out that the lack of contemporary recognition of Christ is truly astounding. 200 years later is contemporary. If you want to argue against it, show me a witness account or a record where he is directly mentioned. Show me someone from a court who noticed him, or some other scribe who went to one of his many public speeches that were supposedly so influential.

    The fact of the matter is that, considering how important he supposedly was, and considering the implications of his existence, there is a more stringent need for evidence of his existence than the existence of any other historical figure. There are also a lot of reasons to suggest the entire story of Jesus was merely plagiarized from other folklore as well, and that begs the question as to whether it was all made up or there was some person that those myths were attached to. I think there is a very plausible chance that he never was, but that he is a construct made to tell a story. I cannot see any evidence that this is wrong – that said, I will not say it is more plausible than that he actually existed, just that it is not less plausible either.

  28. on 13 Dec 2009 at 7:40 pm 28.Severin said …

    „Men with an atheist belief murdered those people because they insisted to the state there was no God“

    Shame on you!

    Jews were not masacred because they insisted there was no god! Most of masacred Jews, probably more than 90% of them were very religious people. Their pains and deaths were not caused by their negation of god, but by personal hate of a powerful monster Hitler, who WAS a christian, and who personally said in his speaches that god himself showed him a way to lead Germany.
    Most probably his hate origins from his religion. He was a lunatic, but was not an atheist.

    There is no way that Stalin was an atheist.

    But, even if he (and Hitler, and Pol Pot, and Mao) was atheist, who has ever said atheists are resistant to insanity?

  29. on 13 Dec 2009 at 7:48 pm 29.Severin said …

    “Stop making excuses and just admit your belief systems opens the door for power hungry monsters.“

    How many atheists in power do you know, except several listed above (IF they were atheists)?

    American governments in power during slavory?
    Popes who ordered masacres of „heretics“
    Japanese emperor and Japanese military leaders, who caused terrible war crimes?
    Soth African goverments whic ran apartheid for almost a century, torturing and masacring humans.
    Middle age rulers who masacred during cruisade warrs.
    All of them, and many many others, were they all atheists?

    I am not saying that there is no lunatics among atheists, and that no atheist did any crime ever.
    What I am saying is that some 99.99% of „legal“ and massive crimes done during human history was ordered and done by people which believed in god(s). Moreover, they usually used their gods as axcuses for massive crimes. They COMMITED crimes IN NAME of their religions and gods!

    If you make a summary, 99.99% of power hyngry monsters in human history were (very) religious people.

  30. on 13 Dec 2009 at 8:25 pm 30.Burebista said …

    Argument from authority Toby? Eh. no it is not. It is an argument based on the evidence uncovered from the authority. Authorities are actually good sources of information. Look into it. Study up on the fallacy, you miss use it here.

    We have more evidence for Jesus through the written record than any man in ancient culture. But since you don’t like authorities due to the silly fallacy you employ without merit I won’t bore you with that.

    Four books give an accurate record of Christ’s life one being a noted historian. They record his words and his testimonies. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All independent authors of separate books conveniently grouped in the Bible. You didn’t think there was always a NT did ya?

  31. on 13 Dec 2009 at 11:12 pm 31.Toby said …

    It is an argument of authority if what you are essentially saying is saying that this guy really knows what he’s talking about, and then never actually bring up what he’s talking about. If all you’re going to say is that he’s really smart and he disagrees with me, that is an argument from authority. If you elaborate on what basis he disagrees with me, the actual argument I am supposed to be countering, it is not.

    That we have a greater written record of Jesus than any other historical figure may be, true, I don’t know. It seems plausible considering the Church has been writing about him for almost 2000 years though. Most of this written record was made after his death, by people who believed. That does not mean he existed. Furthermore, his legend does closely resemble other legends of the region and time, such as Mithra.

    All conveniently put into a single volume that has been the sole charge of a powerful political organization with an irrefutable vested interest in the book being proven to be real, whatever the case might actually be. I am not saying that means that’s what necessarily happened, I am just saying that considering the Church and its history, there is a realistic enough risk that it did that it should be considered. Furthermore, the way in which the Bible was assembled does nothing to alleviate any concern one might have that it all might have been made up. There are differences between the testimonies, especially between John and the others, which I find hard to explain and don’t think should be there.

  32. on 14 Dec 2009 at 1:09 am 32.Observer said …

    Why not assume there was a Jesus? What difference does that make? Did George Washington really cut down a cherry tree and then confess? Who knows, who cares? Assume there was a Jesus, an advocate of a more liberalized form of Judaism, say a Gnostic Judaism? Again, so what? Recall, the New Testament was written 200+ years after the death of said Jesus. These are stories from the Middle East- bullshitting is a major art form there.

    Christianity is obviously stupid and ridiculous. There is even more obviously a very strong psychological draw. We should spend more time figuring out what that is, and finding a cure rather than discussing something as pointless as whether Jesus existed.

    Whether or not an historical Jesus existed or not is not important. The resurrection, wine and loaves, etc. are all complete nonsense. Christianity was a clever way for the Pontifex Maximus to maintain his power, but also to expand it all over Europe.

  33. on 14 Dec 2009 at 1:28 am 33.Observer said …

    I was just poking around this website, and found the cartoons. The “Abstinence, not 100% effective” piece is very funny. This gets back to the Jesus was a real person thing again. There was an historical Jesus, and he was a bastard. There was writing about it in the Babylonian Talmud at one point, but was excised after one of the many slaughters of Jews by Christians in the Middle Ages. I believe Jesus was referred to as the hairdresser’s son. This is why the virgin birth myth is so important. This was a known fact at the time.

    It also presents a quandary around Jesus being in the same line as King David: Either Jesus was sired by a descendant of David and was a bastard, or he was the product of a virgin birth, and not a descendant of David, and hence cannot be the Messiah. There is also that troubling bit of Hebrew in Isiah where Moshiach is not born of a virgin, but rather the more natural maiden. But it is all nonsense and rubbish, so why get hung up on a couple inconsistencies.

  34. on 14 Dec 2009 at 1:59 am 34.Toby said …

    I thought the abstinence thing was pretty funny too. I agree with the other things you said, except that I still do not consider the question of Historical Jesus’ existence to be completely settled. I’d like to point out that at no time have I said I there was proof he didn’t exist, just that there was a distinct lack of proof that he did. There are mentions but they are either mythical or by hearsay – that is, someone reporting what someone else has supposedly seen.

    I am guessing that in the Talmud you’re talking about the example of Yeshu. The Talmuds (Babylonian and Palestinian at least) were written down at least two hundred years after the death of Christ. Jesus was a very common name, and there is dispute as to whether it refers to Jesus Christ or the follower of a Jehoshua, who lived about a hundred years before Christ. The latter claim is made by a Gerald Massey, if you want to read more about it.

  35. on 14 Dec 2009 at 3:52 am 35.Horatio said …

    “I am just saying that considering the Church and its history, there is a realistic enough risk that it did that it should be considered.”

    Well, other than the fact we have manuscripts in place before the church even existed. Sure other than that little caveat. I haven’t personally observed these manuscripts, just read about them from other authorities :)

    Bureabista I have found it really isn’t Jesus they have issues with. It just seems to be a disdain for Christianity. Arguing against his existence which is not supported is just a exercise in their disdain. Why they argue so vehemently against something they claim is a fairy tale in reality shows you where their mindset really lies. I have never spent a minute arguing against ET, Allah or FSM.

  36. on 14 Dec 2009 at 9:36 pm 36.TheGreatHairyOne said …

    I must say I am quite disappointed with the theistic arguments presented in these comments. We’ve got plenty of wild claims (5000 references? Really? 5000?) and not a single shred of actual evidence.

    Horatio/Burebista/etc – it’s simply not sufficient to throw out a wild claim and not back them up. You have to provide evidence, usually a link to a scientific paper will do. At least provide *something* we atheists can actually review and discuss rather than pure conjecture or personal stories.

    There’s plenty of evidence supporting a mythical Jesus (refer the Bible and writings of early christian authors), but non biblical evidence for an actual physical Jesus is rare and questionable (refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus as a good starting point). So unless you guys have some new evidence which the historians haven’t seen yet, I’ll stick with the academically accepted view, which is “most likely myth”.

    Cheers,
    TGHO

  37. on 14 Dec 2009 at 11:23 pm 37.Horatio said …

    Green Hairy One,

    You may want to look into bathing or stop picking your nose. Well anyhow:

    You break my heart that you will stick with your theory. A wiki article? Really? that is your scientific “evidence”. Did you miss all the posted information, quotes above too?

    With all the books available at Amazon you cannot find a single researched book on the historical Jesus but you mange to find wiki? There are so many and you missed them all? Just shows you are a lazy individual and you have no real concern to discover the truth.

    See ya Greenie.

  38. on 15 Dec 2009 at 1:40 am 38.AntiRoss said …

    Horatio,
    You’re just not getting it. Not getting the point that your favourite saviour is probably made up.
    There is no convincing evidence that Jesus ever walked the earth.
    Mark, himself, most likely wrote his gospel as a teaching vehicle only, not as a history book. From there the other gospels were fleshed out, so to speak.
    There are plenty of good solid books out there exploring in intricate detail the complete lack of confirmation of Christian claims.
    The books that you refer to, at least the ones that I have read, are all written by Christians, or by people that have simply accepted certain details as fact without questioning their source.
    Never mind all the precedents of every single aspect of Christianity. It ain’t original buddy.

    Basically, you, and the rest of the masses, are trying to tell us that the son of the creator of the universe showed up in this ridiculous setting, with this ridiculous story, and no actual contemporary historians noticed. No one. The son of your god arrived, and it was only noted decades later.
    We’re supposed to believe that?
    You are the gullible ones. You’ve completely bought into what you were taught and are utterly incapable of thinking that it might all be complete crap, foisted upon you by priests and emperors.
    Your comment that Romans would not have noticed is incorrect. Romans kept meticulous records, and some figure feeding thousands loaves and fishes, or trashing a temple would have got immediate attention.
    But, he didn’t.
    For such a supposedly important character, a god no less, there should be some evidence, and maybe even some miracles that weren’t parlour tricks.

  39. on 15 Dec 2009 at 3:11 am 39.Horatio said …

    Oh AntiRoss stop drinking the Kool Aid. I don’t listen to priest or anyone else on the life of Jesus. He is as likely a real individual as anyone else in the ancient world. You guys who fear his reality only offer the “possibility” he didn’t exist to bolster your obvious bias. Do a little study, read some of the works of Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel or Edersheim. Hey, even visit the archeological site below. Remember when Pontius Pilate was not a real person (although ew was in the Bible) and then archeological evidence was discovered?

    If it makes you sleep better, believe what you like.

    http://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/evidence-for-jesus.htm

    Oh Yeah!

  40. on 15 Dec 2009 at 3:12 am 40.TheGreatHairyOne said …

    Horatio,

    I’ve reviewed your posts and fail to see any links – did you forget to put them in? As I noted in my post, the wiki is a starting point. It provides a great number of references to further examine.

    I have read various commentaries on Tacitus, Josephus, etc., etc. I’ve read several books which “prove” Jesus existed (all written by christian apologists and not historians/archaeologists), and I’m still yet to see any actual evidence supporting that Jesus was anything beyond mythical.

    So do you have any actual evidence, backed up by scientific enquiry, or are you just pontificating your personal faith? Nothing wrong with that, but understand that many of us adhere to a higher level of intellectual comprehension of reality beyond “god said it, thus I believe it”.

    Cheers,
    TGHO

  41. on 15 Dec 2009 at 3:36 am 41.Horatio said …

    Swing and a miss TGHO! Try again lol

    I provided historians who wrote on Jesus (start with the Bible and those authors). I posted authors above along with a link. Of course if you dismiss all the writings, and archeology supporting the writings you can drink your green Kool Aid and yell Oh Yeah! as well.

    Good luck Grain Hairy one. If you keep your eyes closed I can’t open them for you.

  42. on 15 Dec 2009 at 5:19 am 42.AntiRoss said …

    Well, Horatio, the idea of considering the bible as a document to confirm itself is nuts. It’s the very definition of circular reasoning.
    And Lee Strobel is actually a perfect example of what I mentioned above. And how can you possibly offer biased authors and then in all seriousness accuse us of bias?
    Tell you what, I’ll counter your Strobel (“The Case for Christ”) with Doherty’s “Challenging the Verdict”. Strobel’s whole case rests upon opinions, and opinions only, of Christian apologists.
    Books like this are written not for critical thinking, but for people like yourself who want their opinions and beliefs confirmed. It is the harder road to gradually realize that the religion you grew up with is based on mythology, and midrash used to re-interpret older texts. And yes, it is done by reading opposing opinions, (eyes open) not just lawyer-like manipulations by Strobel. C’mon, can’t you see through Strobel’s obvious reaching here?
    Edersheim, at least, seems more scholarly, if dated. Here’s a link to a near-contemporary of his, give or take fifty years, might be a fun read for you…it just touches on a few issues nicely.
    http://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/bible/library/myth.shtml

  43. on 15 Dec 2009 at 6:20 am 43.TheGreatHairyOne said …

    Horatio Comment #41,

    Unfortunately you’ve been tripped up by your own dishonesty – you posted your comment #39 whilst I was posting my comment #40, and thus I did not see your link. My comment #40 is a reply to your comment #37, not your comment #39.

    I’ve reviewed the link in comment #39 – dubious at best. Beware sites and people with an agenda, it corrupts their arguments. In browsing the site, I failed to find the qualifications of the authors – do you have that information? Are these people actual archaeologists, or just apologists? There are some clear errors within their arguments, such as on the Carbon dating page (http://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/carbon-dating.htm), which makes several incorrect claims about how carbon dating actually works. I’m wondering if this site is actually reliable.

    Try as you might, you cannot actually use the Bible as a historical reference document. Too many of the items within that book are of dubious reliability.

    I have read Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel, and both are very low quality. Firstly, neither of them are academically trained archaeologists. Secondly, their books are not written with critical thinking in mind, rather they accept common christian opinion without deep analysis. And finally, both of those gentlemen have an agenda, which flavours their arguments.

    Edersheim I was not aware of, however it seems as though his writings are at least 100 years out of date (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Edersheim). Much of the archaeological work done in this area has been done since the 1950′s, so I believe that his arguments can be safely discarded.

    So I ask you again – can you present any (scientific) evidence to support your presuppositions?

    Cheers,
    TGHO

  44. on 15 Dec 2009 at 1:13 pm 44.Horatio said …

    “I’ve reviewed the link in comment #39 – dubious at best. Beware sites and people with an agenda, it corrupts their arguments.”

    So in the construct of Ross & hairy I should believe your biased sources over my supposed biased sources. Why do you think they are Christians…LOL. Ah, sure fellas not really.

    Edersheim is 100 years out of date? What does time have to do with the evidence and the argument? Nutty at best

    Last the “BIBLE” is made up of works from many authors. This may be a surprise, but the thousands of manuscripts are not called the “BIBLE” but the work of many authors along with all the other sources provided. Therefore it is not circular reasoning. That would be true only if one author wrote it.

    Good Luck with all that fellas.

  45. on 15 Dec 2009 at 3:57 pm 45.Scott said …

    Several very important factors arc often overlooked when considering Christ’s post-resurrection appearances to individuals. The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning. One of the earliest records of Christ’s appearing after the resurrection is by Paul. The apostle appealed to his audience’s knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: “What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’ Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago.” Let’s take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history.

  46. on 15 Dec 2009 at 9:05 pm 46.Severin said …

    “Last the “BIBLE” is made up of works from many authors.”

    I am endlessly thankful for this!

    Because I thought the Bible was a word of god. So I was said by all believers I ever met, correspodenced with, discussed, On these pages you can find also many such claims.

    So, IT IS NOT A WORD OF GOD! It was written by many authors! many gods, or what?

  47. on 15 Dec 2009 at 9:34 pm 47.Severin said …

    “What does time have to do with the evidence and the argument?”

    Simple question: if your friend saw a car accident and described it in details to you some 2 months after it happened, who would be better witness, you or your friend?
    If YOU were an eye-witness of Christs come-back to Earth, would you wait 20 years or more to say your impressions to somebody?

    According to Bible, appearance of Jesus was not small event! He atracted attention of a lot of people. He attracted attention of authorities as well, and attention of existing scientists, writers, priests,…

    And NONE of them ever made a smallest notice about the enormeous event he witnessed as an eye-witness. At least not one you can find anywhere.

    Some 100 years after, hearsays combined from hundreds of “witnesses” (dead ones!) appeared, were combined and recombined for naex few centuries, untill finaly the catholic church, very strong at that time, aproved a version to be shawn to believers.

    The story about Jesus from Bible does not differ a bit from the story of Mormon church written by Joseph Smith only

  48. on 15 Dec 2009 at 9:46 pm 48.Horatio said …

    Scott I’m not sure 500 would be enough for this group. I think they may be looking for an eyewitness living today. I can understand skepticism on resurrection but on the living historical Jesus it is more of a wish and may I say prayer? he never lived.

  49. on 15 Dec 2009 at 9:48 pm 49.TheGreatHairyOne said …

    Horatio #44,

    No, you’re not meant to just accept our links and evidence either. You’re meant to critically analyse, rationally deduce and actually use your brain. Understanding and recognising bias helps in the analysis. Very simply – are you going to just continue to be spoon fed or are you going to find out for yourself?

    Edersheim died in 1889. That’s before the majority of the archaeological work performed in the Middle East. That’s before the science to examine the majority of the findings was actually developed. Edersheim did not have access to the evidence we have access to today. He did not have access to the practical scientific methods we have access to today, like electron microscopes and PCR. As such, his work is very much out of date and can safely be discarded.

    Scott #45,

    Firstly Paul was writing at least 30 years after these events had occurred. He wasn’t an eyewitness to those events. He has taken the existence of the 500 on hearsay, not on actuality.

    Secondly, where are all the independent accounts from these 500? I’d love to give them their day in court and listen to what they actually have to say. Surely being a witness to such a momentous event would inspire you to actually write something down?

    Thirdly, Dr Yamauchi isn’t taking the word of these 500, he’s taking only the word of Paul that these 500 actually existed. And so we’re not dealing with an event witnessed by 500, but with an event written about 30 years later by one man who is claiming that it was witnessed by 500.

    Finally, why didn’t anyone ask them? Why didn’t early members of the christian church go to these 500 and record their names, addresses, professions and what they saw that day? Where are those 500 gospels?

  50. on 15 Dec 2009 at 10:02 pm 50.Severin said …

    Continued
    The story about Jesus from Bible does not differ a bit from the story of Mormon church written by Joseph Smith only some 150 y. ago. And MILLIONS have “hooked” to it!

    Again and finally: what if a Jesus existed. What if a Jesus was crucified.

    It was common name at that time, ans thousends were crucified in Roman Empire. Perhaps several of them really called Jesus.

    What should be necessaryly proved, to give divine properties to a Jesus, was his resurrection and raising of his BODY to haeven.

    Imagine: thousends witnessed it, and no one made a single notice about such a glamurous event, but hearsays about it appeared a century after.
    Please!

  51. on 15 Dec 2009 at 10:12 pm 51.TheGreatHairyOne said …

    Horatio #48,

    500 would be plenty if they had left any actual and verifiable evidence.

  52. on 16 Dec 2009 at 1:01 am 52.Horatio said …

    “And so we’re not dealing with an event witnessed by 500, but with an event written about 30 years later by one man who is claiming that it was witnessed by 500.”

    Experienced immediately after the event. Why does the date of writing make his account untrue? Why would he lie? What would he gain? He lived the life of pharisee and left that to then live a life of beatings and separated from the upper crust pharisee community. Sorry, you logic makes zero sense. Men don’t take on a life of an outcast based on lie. Sorry one question for you. Why would Paul lie? It is believed he probably was at Jesus’ crucifixion since he was part of the pharisee community. Why would he lie?

    Take your advice and use your brain Hairy. Human motivation dictates he was telling the truth. Not to mention Matthew Mark, Dr Luke and John back his assertions.

  53. on 16 Dec 2009 at 3:18 am 53.TheGreatHairyOne said …

    Horatio #52,

    Do you have some evidence to back up your assertion that Paul was at the crucifixion of Jesus? Paul’s conversion is dated between 33AD and 36AD; in Galatians he describes his first trip to Jerusalem, and notes that it was three years after his conversion, so 36AD at the earliest – this is roughly 3 years post-crucifixion. How could have Paul been there if, by his own writings, he didn’t visit until 3 years after the event? Paul also wrote that his conversion was due to a vision of the resurrected Jesus; which, by default, would have to be post-crucifixion.

    As for your question “why would he lie” – as far as he was concerned, he probably wasn’t lying. He probably thought he was telling the truth. That’s fine at that point in history. However these days humans in general require a little more robustness of evidence before believing in a claim put forward by someone.

    Do you believe that witches exist? And they regularly cast spells and bring good or bad luck down upon people? That they can control the weather, and summon demons and other weird magical powers? If you don’t, consider that tens of thousands of people across the world do believe in witches, and do insist that they have eye witness accounts of people changing their shape, casting spells and so on.

    What about homoeopathy? Oujia boards? Flat earth? Auras? Ghosts? UFO abductions? Vampires? All of these have way more than 500 eye witnesses currently alive today, right now. Do you believe in all that as well?

  54. on 16 Dec 2009 at 5:35 am 54.Vitta said …

    Hear Hear TheGreatHairyOne!

  55. on 16 Dec 2009 at 10:44 am 55.Severin said …

    “Sorry, you logic makes zero sense.”

    Sorry, but yours does.
    If someone (Dr Yamauchi) is, 2000 years later, quoting a “witness” who put on paper some stories 30 years after the event happened, it was nothing but hearsay.
    So time HAS a lot to do with accuracy of a testimony.

    Ask any policeman about reliability of eye-witnesses for events happened 1/2 h ago!
    And ask any of them, or judges, about reliability of hearsay witnesses 30 y. after an event happened.

    Try reliability of this stement:
    “Homer wrote in Odyssay that there were mermates and cyclops. Homer existed, he have heard the story from some sailors, so it must be the truht.”

  56. on 16 Dec 2009 at 11:55 am 56.Horatio said …

    Acts records that Paul made two other trips to Jerusalem prior to the one in Acts 15, and both of
    them took place before his first journey, In Ga. he refers to his first trip since his conversion

    Paul was educated by one of the top Pharisee teachers of the day. He is not a man to go off on the deep end based on a lie. You admit he believed it along with thousands of others. They would have known if Jesus was a liar three days after his death. If he was a lair do you think his disciples (along with Paul) would give their life for a lie? People do not die for a KNOWN lie.

    No, you offer no other valid explanation and you have failed to prove any of the writings are fraudulent. It seems Christ is still angering people today to the point of even being blind to his very existence.

  57. on 16 Dec 2009 at 5:18 pm 57.Scott said …

    One of the major problems with the legend hypothesis, however, which is almost never addressed by skeptical critics, is that the time between Jesus’s death and the writing of the gospels is just too short for this to happen. This point has been well-explained by A. N. Sherwin-White in his book Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament.{2} Professor Sherwin-White is not a theologian; he is a professional historian of times prior to and contemporaneous with Jesus. According to Sherwin-White, the sources for Roman and Greek history are usually biased and removed one or two generations or even centuries from the events they record. Yet, he says, historians reconstruct with confidence the course of Roman and Greek history. For example, the two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than 400 years after Alexander’s death, and yet classical historians still consider them to be trustworthy. The fabulous legends about Alexander the Great did not develop until during the centuries after these two writers. According to Sherwin-White, the writings of Herodotus enable us to determine the rate at which legend accumulates, and the tests show that even two generations is too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts. When Professor Sherwin-White turns to the gospels, he states that for the gospels to be legends, the rate of legendary accumulation would have to be “unbelievable.” More generations would be needed.

    In fact, adding a time gap of two generations to Jesus’s death lands you in the second century, just when the apocryphal gospels begin to appear. These do contain all sorts of fabulous stories about Jesus, trying to fill in the years between his boyhood and his starting his ministry, for example. These are the obvious legends sought by the critics, not the biblical gospels.

    This point becomes even more devastating for skepticism when we recall that the gospels themselves use sources that go back even closer to the events of Jesus’s life. For example, the story of Jesus’s suffering and death, commonly called the Passion Story, was probably not originally written by Mark. Rather Mark used a source for this narrative. Since Mark is the earliest gospel, his source must be even earlier. In fact, Rudolf Pesch, a German expert on Mark, says the Passion source must go back to at least AD 37, just seven years after Jesus’s death.

  58. on 17 Dec 2009 at 1:51 am 58.TheGreatHairyOne said …

    Horatio #56,

    Are you talking about Acts 9:26-27? The problem with this is that Acts was written by Luke around 94AD. Galatians was written by Paul around late 40′s AD. Galatians is Paul’s own account of his actions and the events in his life. Acts is Luke’s hearsay account written roughly 50 years later.

    On top of that, both accounts still state that Paul’s conversion occured due to a vision of a ressurected Jesus – which is clearly post crucifixion. As such, placing Paul actually at the crucifixion is a fantasy, unless you can produce some actual evidence.

    Do you have any evidence to back up your claim that “Paul was educated by one of the top Pharisee teachers of the day”? Who was this teacher?

    “People do not die for a KNOWN lie” you state. So your conversion to islam is imminent? Considering that in modern times large numbers of islamics cheerfully blow themselves up for their religion, contrast that to the currently low numbers of christian martyrs, the conclusion is that islam is “more truthful” than christianity.

    I’ve already stated that Paul most likely thought he *was* telling the truth. I ask you again – do you believe in ghosts, vampires, witches, ufo abductions, homeopathy, etc., etc.? If not, why not? There’s plenty of eye witnesses to all of these, currently alive right now. Do you think all of these people are also telling the truth?

    As for you attempting to claim that I am somehow angry at Jesus, I may as well claim that you deny Thor because he stole your lunch money. It’s not even an argument.

    Scott #57,

    “To short for this to happen”. This is an amusing claim, because if any contemporous historians had actually mentioned Jesus in their documents we wouldn’t need to prevaricate. We’d have the actual histories written down, and we simply do not.

    You are incorrect (or Sherwin-White is) as Diodorus is the earliest historian to write about Alexander, with Curtius closely behind him. Both wrote in the 1st century AD. Arrian and Plutarch both wrote in the second century AD. Furthermore, your implication that we only have those sources for Alexander is incorrect; we have actual archaeological evidence for events that were contemporus with Alexander’s life, such as the Battle of Gaugamela and the Decree of Philippi (refer
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Alexander_the_Great). We have many disparate writings about Alexander, such as the Book of Arda Viraf and the Babylonian Chronicle concerning Alexander and Arabia
    (http://www.livius.org/cg-cm/chronicles/bchp-arabia/arabia_02.html).

    As noted earlier, Scott, the bible is not a reliable source for historical evidence pointing to the existence of Jesus. There’s too many questions about the timing and authenticity of the text. It is the lack of contemporary documentation regarding Jesus which is telling when it comes to this discussion. If contemporary historians had mentioned Jesus in their texts then I would happily admit to his historical existence. Without actual evidence however, it remains an open discussion.

  59. on 29 Dec 2009 at 3:39 am 59.Vinny said …

    Scott,

    You might want to actually read what Sherwin-White wrote for yourself rather than William Lane Craig’s distortions.

  60. on 29 Dec 2009 at 4:39 am 60.Xenon said …

    Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.

    Acts 22:3

    That was for TGHO who missed this verse in Acts. Go figure.

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