Author Topic: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels  (Read 24165 times)

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Offline skepticlogician

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When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« on: April 20, 2010, 06:27:53 PM »
I know you all know that there are tons of contradictions one can find in the Bible.
But I'm particularly curious about what theists have to say about this one (SmartNoodles, this one is for you too :)).
So, here it is:

Was Jesus born before 4 BCE, as it can be deduced from Matthew 2:1, or was Jesus born after 6 CE, as Luke suggests in Luke 2:1??

Here are the quotes:

Matthew 2:1
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem..."

You just need to go find in history when did King Herod live. Although I'm sure you can find it elsewhere, Wikipedia is a very reliable source, so if you look it up, you can find that Herod the Great died in 4 BCE (although other sources point to 1 BCE, but this shouldn't make a big difference since Jesus was born when Herod was still alive, which means his birth happened before 4 BCE). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_the_Great


Luke 2:1-2
"1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)"


And we all know that this Census was the reason for Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. So, let's apply the same criteria here and go to history to figure out when this Census happened. And Luke clearly gives hints about this by mentioning that this happened "when Cyrenius was governor of Syria". So, let's go to Wikipedia one more time, and we can find that this census happened in the year 6 or 7 CE. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_of_Quirinius


So, clearly these two gospels are contradicting each other.
Theists, SmartNoodles, what are your answers to this?

Edit: typo
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 06:51:50 PM by skepticlogician »
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Offline Emily

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2010, 06:32:57 PM »
I am waiting impatiently for the replies from the theists. The NT didn't start off on the right foot if they wanted to keep the books consistent.
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Offline jetson

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2010, 07:00:12 PM »
Don't hold your breath.  Excuses forthcoming...wait for it...wait for it...

Offline Emily

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2010, 07:05:48 PM »
It's true. I have found the Christian "answer" and it's nothing but excuses. This one is interesting because there is history to back up the circumstances surrounding his supposed birth (not to back up his birth, but to back up both Herod's death in 4BCE, and the census in 6CE.) And well, you can only be born once. Maybe this is what they mean by being 'born again'. Jesus was born again.  :shrug IDK.
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Offline JesusHChrist

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2010, 07:08:54 PM »
Possible explanations:

It's a metaphor!
You need to read the original language!
You're taking it out of context!
Pray to the Holy Ghosty for Ghost-guidance!
The devil has blinded you to the Truth!
Oh, look! A butterfly!
At least I'm goin' to heaven, you dirty heathen.
Love the Christian. Hate the delusion.

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Offline kardula

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2010, 08:21:59 PM »
Possible explanations:

It's a metaphor!
You need to read the original language!
You're taking it out of context!
Pray to the Holy Ghosty for Ghost-guidance!
The devil has blinded you to the Truth!
Oh, look! A butterfly!
At least I'm goin' to heaven, you dirty heathen.


I'm a little more distracted by cookies than butterflies, nice try though.

The answer is...one of them is wrong. As to which one, I have no clue.
The wiki artcle presents that Luke wasn't really concerned with historical accuracy as much as he was a narrative of the birth of jesus...sounds plausible to me, and fits in with my first assertion that either Luke or Mark is wrong on their dates.

Offline Emily

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2010, 08:38:24 PM »
Wait, what? The bible is wrong?!?  I'll buy that.
:)


The answer is...one of them is wrong. As to which one, I have no clue.
The wiki artcle presents that Luke wasn't really concerned with historical accuracy as much as he was a narrative of the birth of jesus...sounds plausible to me, and fits in with my first assertion that either Luke or Mark is wrong on their dates.

If Luke wasn''t concerned with historical accuracy then why is he concerned with the "accuracy" of Jesus' birth? Why write about it at all?!?  Why did he include the census in the book? Clearly someone is wrong, if Jesus was born at all.

Also, if the author of Luke wasn't concerned with the accuracy, why did he write this in the first chapter;

1Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

 2Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

 3It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,


I think he'd take every measure to make sure there is no doubt the book of Luke is accurate, that includes Jesus's birth.



« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 08:48:19 PM by Emily »
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Offline kardula

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2010, 08:54:03 PM »
Wait, what? The bible is wrong?!?  I'll buy that.
:)


The answer is...one of them is wrong. As to which one, I have no clue.
The wiki artcle presents that Luke wasn't really concerned with historical accuracy as much as he was a narrative of the birth of jesus...sounds plausible to me, and fits in with my first assertion that either Luke or Mark is wrong on their dates.

If Luke wasn''t concerned with historical accuracy then why is he concerned with the "accuracy" of Jesus' birth? Why write about it at all?!?  Why did he include the census in the book? Clearly someone is wrong, if Jesus was born at all.



So you've never told or read a fairy tale? Aesop's Fables? None of that? Not that I'm saying that the bible is a fairy tale (though it does contain some) or that jesus never existed, my only contention is that the bible included a book written by someone more concerned with other aspects of jesus than the date of his birth. Think of it like the stories we hear about Guns N' Roses and all of their backstage debauchery, some of it seems a little far fetched to believe, but that doesn't mean that it never happened or that the band never existed.

Offline Emily

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2010, 09:02:58 PM »
\ my only contention is that the bible included a book written by someone more concerned with other aspects of jesus than the date of his birth.

And my (and the OP's contention) is that that book includes something that happened historically[1]. Two somethings actually: Heroid's death and the census by the Romans which happened ten year apart. Did you know that Mark and John don't include the birth of Jesus, but discuss his other aspects?!? Does that add to your contention? I still don't understand why Luke wrote about it at all?!?  :shrug
 1. I use historically losely
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 09:11:43 PM by Emily »
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Offline kardula

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2010, 09:20:09 PM »
\ my only contention is that the bible included a book written by someone more concerned with other aspects of jesus than the date of his birth.

And my (and the OP's contention) is that that book includes something that happened historically[1]. Two somethings actually: Heroid's death and the census by the Romans which happened ten year apart. Did you know that Mark and John don't include the birth of Jesus, but discuss his other aspects?!? Does that add to your contention? I still don't understand why Luke wrote about it at all?!?  :shrug
 1. I use historically losely

sounds like we're in agreement. Either Luke or Matthew is wrong about their times in which Jesus was born. I don't know what compelled Luke to write about it. Mark and John don't do anything for my contention since I was only referring to Luke.

Offline jetson

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2010, 09:25:51 PM »
Actually, The Bible is much closer to a fairy tale than one might think.  Unless something truly miraculous is discovered, it is fairly safe to say that large chunks of stories in The Bible are NOT backed up by modern archaeology and Biblical scholars (even theologians.)

It's truly time to abandon any hope of connecting Biblical bullshit to real life, as there are far too many time related discrepancies, historical failures, unknown characters, and bizarre mythology to consider any of it as useful.  It's like using greek mythology as an anchor to true history and knowledge!  Too funny...

Offline Emily

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2010, 09:39:40 PM »


sounds like we're in agreement. Either Luke or Matthew is wrong about their times in which Jesus was born. I

I am so confused right now. From reading the two narrative accounts it will lead to confusion (as shown) And even god supposedly said this;

1 Corinthians 14:33 (King James Version)
 33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints

And I also don;t believe any scripture should be wrong, if it were from God. That's based on this passage;

2 Timothy 3:15-17 (King James Version)


 15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Why would the bible include a wrong scripture, if all scripture is inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine... [well, you read it]
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Offline kardula

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2010, 09:44:56 PM »
Actually, The Bible is much closer to a fairy tale than one might think.  Unless something truly miraculous is discovered, it is fairly safe to say that large chunks of stories in The Bible are NOT backed up by modern archaeology and Biblical scholars (even theologians.)

It's truly time to abandon any hope of connecting Biblical bullshit to real life, as there are far too many time related discrepancies, historical failures, unknown characters, and bizarre mythology to consider any of it as useful.  It's like using greek mythology as an anchor to true history and knowledge!  Too funny...

For the longest time many scholars believed that Troy never existed and was the stuff of fairy tales...until we found it. But there were those who believed it existed before rediscovering it, did that make them wrong that whole time?

I don't view the bible as being the literal word of god as is if god possesed a human's body and wrote the scripture's that way. I believe that some of the bible is clearly inspired by god but written by man and I believe that man is fallable and therefore the bible is fallable. I don't believe the bible should be taken literally especially because there is no emperical evidence. Hell, I'll be the first person to admit that my beliefs are not based on emperical evidence but rather on personal experience. I can't convey that to anyone and because of that I could never expect to convert anyone so I don't try. Ultimately I use the bible as a guideline for moral behaviour.

Offline JesusHChrist

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2010, 09:49:32 PM »
Ultimately I use the bible as a guideline for moral behaviour.

Uh oh.
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Offline skepticlogician

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2010, 09:50:51 PM »
The answer is...one of them is wrong. As to which one, I have no clue.
The wiki artcle presents that Luke wasn't really concerned with historical accuracy as much as he was a narrative of the birth of jesus...sounds plausible to me, and fits in with my first assertion that either Luke or Mark is wrong on their dates.

Bingo! Exactly my point (and rather obvious, for that matter).
The thing is that you guys hold the Bible as inerrant, perfect, inspired, but with this little example you can easily disprove all those qualifications you attribute to the Bible. And this is NOT the only issue or contradiction you can find in the Bible (I will be posting other interesting ones soon. But don't wait for me, just look at the other ones that have been posted on different threads already).
If ANY of the Bible is erroneous (as I've clearly demonstrated), how can you tell what's correct and what's erroneous, ANYWHERE in the Bible? This should NOT be the situation for a book that is supposed to be GOD's WORD, because that was about the only special left as an excuse for theists to hold the Bible in such a high position!
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Offline skepticlogician

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2010, 09:56:29 PM »
I don't view the bible as being the literal word of god as is if god possessed a human's body and wrote the scripture's that way. I believe that some of the bible is clearly inspired by god but written by man and I believe that man is fallable and therefore the bible is fallable. I don't believe the bible should be taken literally especially because there is no emperical evidence.

In the light of what you just said, I can't believe that you don't see the HUGE problem with that.
The Bible is full of errors, as any OTHER book can be. Then what's so special about it?
You say that God inspired it... what god? The god the Bible talks about? Why would you believe what the Bible says if you yourself admit is full of inaccuracies??
Can you see the fallacious CIRCLE?
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Offline Emily

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2010, 09:58:57 PM »
y. I believe that some of the bible is clearly inspired by god but written by man and I believe that man is fallable and therefore the bible is fallable.
Some books of the bible do state they were inspired by god.

Quote
I don't believe the bible should be taken literally especially because there is no emperical evidence.

Then why believe it?

Quote
Hell, I'll be the first person to admit that my beliefs are not based on emperical evidence but rather on personal experience.

And personal experience means nothing unless there is empirical evidence to support the position.

Quote
Ultimately I use the bible as a guideline for moral behaviour.

What moral behavior do you take from the bible?
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Offline kardula

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2010, 11:03:39 PM »
I don't view the bible as being the literal word of god as is if god possessed a human's body and wrote the scripture's that way. I believe that some of the bible is clearly inspired by god but written by man and I believe that man is fallable and therefore the bible is fallable. I don't believe the bible should be taken literally especially because there is no emperical evidence.

In the light of what you just said, I can't believe that you don't see the HUGE problem with that.
The Bible is full of errors, as any OTHER book can be. Then what's so special about it?
You say that God inspired it... what god? The god the Bible talks about? Why would you believe what the Bible says if you yourself admit is full of inaccuracies??
Can you see the fallacious CIRCLE?
I do see the huge problem with that I do I see the fallacious circle. Through personal experience I believe that the god mentioned in the bible is real.

Offline kardula

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2010, 11:17:31 PM »
Quote
Then why believe it?

I've talked to god.

Quote
And personal experience means nothing unless there is empirical evidence to support the position.

I pretty much agree, but there are several things from the human experience which lack emperical evidence, namely the belief in love, but people will still believe in it.

Quote
What moral behavior do you take from the bible?

Being humble (i try at least), confidence that I can accomplish anything, general kindness towards others, don't have sex with animals...all basic stuff explained in the bible. I also generally take anything that aligns with the witches rede as well. I believe these (amongst others) to be fairly universal.

Offline skepticlogician

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2010, 11:22:31 PM »
I do see the huge problem with that I do I see the fallacious circle. Through personal experience I believe that the god mentioned in the bible is real.

Ahhhh... OK. So your belief in god is exclusively based on your personal experience.
So, you DO admit that the Bible is a rather common book, nothing special about it, so we can discard it as evidence for god, coming from your point of view, right?

To be honest this is truly original, as I don't remember anything like this before. Tell us more about this experience you have with god. What's in it that tells you that God is real?
By the way, many of us claimed to have this special experience with god in the past, when we were Christians. That's why I wonder if there's more to it... :)
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 11:34:56 PM by skepticlogician »
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Offline skepticlogician

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2010, 11:33:32 PM »
I've talked to god.

YOU talked to God? All Christians claim to do this through prayer and stuff, nothing to it.
But, has God talked back to you, as in physically audible? THIS would really be something! Please share it with us! :)


Quote
I pretty much agree, but there are several things from the human experience which lack emperical evidence, namely the belief in love, but people will still believe in it.

A rather loose comparison, as love is not a person (as you claim God is).


Quote
Being humble (i try at least), confidence that I can accomplish anything, general kindness towards others, don't have sex with animals...all basic stuff explained in the bible.

You DO realize that all these 'moral qualities' are not original from the Bible, right? You can forget about the Bible and still be able to find them in other philosophies.


Quote
I also generally take anything that aligns with the witches rede as well. I believe these (amongst others) to be fairly universal.

A Wiccan too???
Now I'm really confused!!
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Offline kardula

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2010, 11:56:47 PM »
1. Shouldn't everyone's belief in god be based on their personal experiences? I see no reason for anyone to use my experience with god (as it is entirely unique and only pertains to me), I therefore would not be able to use someone else's experience with god as justification for his existence.
2. I've conversed with god. I can't say it was physically audible as I was the only one around and I didn't exactly take a recorder to me lol. I talked to him/her, he/she talked back. I guess I read "talked to" as conversed with as opposed to "talked at." I can talk at a wall, I can't talk to. But I'll try to stick with conversed to avoid confusion.
3. I didn't think I claimed god to be a person, if I did then I retract those statements. God to me is not a person.
4. Yes, pretty much all of my moral qualities that I take are found in multiple religions, most of my moral qualities are universal. The ONLY reason that I believe in the bible or the christian god (my version of it at least) is because of my conversations with god. My morals have not changed much from days as a wiccan (I am a former wiccan, I chose wicca as a creed because the witches' rede made the most sense). I believe that most christian morality is generally universal.

5. I do personally see the bible as a special book...but not much more special than my other favorite book, Gene Simmons' Sex, Money and KISS
6. At no point in time can a book simply be read to use as justification of anything. Dinosaurs would not exist without fossils, I could read stories from ancient greece about terrifiying thunder lizards, but at no point could I accept that as being proof of their existence. Now if i ran into one and was the only one I knew to do so, that would be different. But without experiencing something, and the only record being written in books, this lack of evidence leads no other choice than to concede that something doesn't exist. Similar to Atlantis.

Offline Petey

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2010, 07:33:07 AM »
Either Luke or Matthew is wrong about their times in which Jesus was born. I don't know what compelled Luke to write about it. Mark and John don't do anything for my contention since I was only referring to Luke.

Or they were both wrong.

You mentioned earlier that "Luke wasn't really concerned with historical accuracy as much as he was a narrative of the birth of Jesus".  This does not bode well for supporting the idea that either account is correct.  The author of Luke is typically regarded as the most "historian-like" of all the gospel authors.  Certainly much more so than the author of Matthew, who constantly misquotes and misinterprets old testament writings in order to make them "prophetically" fit his Jesus character.  So if one argues that the account in Luke was not historically accurate, then the odds are pretty good that this holds for both accounts.
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Offline kardula

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2010, 08:49:06 AM »
Either Luke or Matthew is wrong about their times in which Jesus was born. I don't know what compelled Luke to write about it. Mark and John don't do anything for my contention since I was only referring to Luke.

Or they were both wrong.

You mentioned earlier that "Luke wasn't really concerned with historical accuracy as much as he was a narrative of the birth of Jesus".  This does not bode well for supporting the idea that either account is correct.  The author of Luke is typically regarded as the most "historian-like" of all the gospel authors.  Certainly much more so than the author of Matthew, who constantly misquotes and misinterprets old testament writings in order to make them "prophetically" fit his Jesus character.  So if one argues that the account in Luke was not historically accurate, then the odds are pretty good that this holds for both accounts.

So because the one that's generally regarded as the history oriented one is also generally regarded as being wrong by theologians in regards to the date of jesus' birth we must therefore deduce that both of them are wrong? I agree that it's possible neither one of them is correct, but I doubt the probability that both are wrong based on your assertion.

Offline Gimpy

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2010, 08:53:45 AM »
Clearly kardula is having you on.

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2010, 09:17:37 AM »
1. Shouldn't everyone's belief in god be based on their personal experiences? I see no reason for anyone to use my experience with god (as it is entirely unique and only pertains to me), I therefore would not be able to use someone else's experience with god as justification for his existence.
I suppose if everyone has their very own god.


Quote
2. I've conversed with god. I can't say it was physically audible as I was the only one around and I didn't exactly take a recorder to me lol. I talked to him/her, he/she talked back. I guess I read "talked to" as conversed with as opposed to "talked at." I can talk at a wall, I can't talk to. But I'll try to stick with conversed to avoid confusion.

as has been claimed by every theists who has ever existed.  They have "special" conversations with their god.
Quote
3. I didn't think I claimed god to be a person, if I did then I retract those statements. God to me is not a person.
but god is an entity correct?  The one in the Bible or have you decided that you know better?
Quote
4. Yes, pretty much all of my moral qualities that I take are found in multiple religions, most of my moral qualities are universal. The ONLY reason that I believe in the bible or the christian god (my version of it at least) is because of my conversations with god. My morals have not changed much from days as a wiccan (I am a former wiccan, I chose wicca as a creed because the witches' rede made the most sense). I believe that most christian morality is generally universal.
Which makes it not "Christian" morality at all.  I suppose it does make one feel important to be one of those that god deigns to talk with. 
Quote
5. I do personally see the bible as a special book...but not much more special than my other favorite book, Gene Simmons' Sex, Money and KISS
ah, one of those, eh?  You pick and choose what you want to believe in and create god in your image.
[/quote]6. At no point in time can a book simply be read to use as justification of anything. Dinosaurs would not exist without fossils, I could read stories from ancient greece about terrifiying thunder lizards, but at no point could I accept that as being proof of their existence. Now if i ran into one and was the only one I knew to do so, that would be different. But without experiencing something, and the only record being written in books, this lack of evidence leads no other choice than to concede that something doesn't exist. Similar to Atlantis.
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sure they would.  We just wouldn't know about them.  And just like having one book or one version of one person's god, there is little reason to believe any of the nonsense theists claim.  You seem to acknoweldge that the bible can be wrong.  And it only seems that you have your own magic decoder ring to tell you adn only you waht is "right" in it.
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

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Offline Petey

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2010, 09:34:21 AM »
So because the one that's generally regarded as the history oriented one is also generally regarded as being wrong by theologians in regards to the date of jesus' birth we must therefore deduce that both of them are wrong? I agree that it's possible neither one of them is correct, but I doubt the probability that both are wrong based on your assertion.

I'm not asserting that we must deduce that they are both wrong.  I'm simply saying that it's a possibility that wasn't discussed previously, and in my opinion is the most likely scenario.

This is not based solely on the "historicity" of Luke vs. Matthew.  I just focused on that point since it was the original topic of the thread.  It is also based on multiple inaccuracies, contradictions, self-contradictions, and blatant lies throughout all of the gospels, the dates these works were written, and the complete lack of outside corroborating writings or evidence.  I simply see no reason to trust these authors any more than other authors of mythology.
He never pays attention, he always knows the answer, and he can never tell you how he knows. We can't keep thrashing him. He is a bad example to the other pupils. There's no educating a smart boy.
-– Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

Offline jedweber

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2010, 10:01:41 AM »
Or they were both wrong.

I think that's the most likely conclusion. The birth narratives were probably legendary elements that arose later from a need to fill in Jesus' backstory and give him a miraculous pedigree. That's supported by the fact that the earliest sources (such as Paul and Mark) show no knowledge of these stories whatsoever.

This kind of contradiction isn't really a problem for Christians who aren't literalists, they accept that the gospels contain embellishments and legendary elements. It's a problem for fundies, but if it bothers them, they'll probably just go and find some apologetic that makes excuses, and consider the case closed.

Offline SmartNoodles

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Re: When was Jesus born? - Contradiction between gospels
« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2010, 07:25:26 PM »
Luke 2:1-2
"1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)"


Let me say up front that I am not a Greek language scholar and this verse was originally written in that language.  According to some Greek scholars however, a very strong case can be made that the verse should have been rendered:

2 (This taxing became most prominent when Quirinius was governing Syria.)

The reason it makes sense, having been added in parenthesis the way it was, is that this AD 6 event was very onerous to the Jews and became a large factor leading to the war that occurred years later.