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#13823 - 01/22/06 08:46 PM Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
You've just got to read and enjoy this:

"ROME, Italy (AP) -- Lawyers for a small-town parish priest have been ordered to appear in court next week after the Roman Catholic cleric was accused of unlawfully asserting what many people take for granted: that Jesus Christ existed.

The Rev. Enrico Righi was named in a 2002 complaint filed by Luigi Cascioli after Righi wrote in a parish bulletin that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he was born of a couple named Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth.

Cascioli, a lifelong atheist, claims that Righi violated two Italian laws by making the assertion: so-called "abuse of popular belief" in which someone fraudulently deceives people; and "impersonation" in which someone gains by attributing a false name to someone.

Cascioli says that for 2,000 years the Roman Catholic Church has been deceiving people by furthering the fable that Christ existed, and says the church has been gaining financially by "impersonating" as Christ someone by the name of John of Gamala, the son of Judas from Gamala.

He also asserts that the Gospels -- the most frequently cited testimony of Jesus' existence -- are inconsistent, full of errors and biased, and that other written evidence from the time is scant and doesn't hold up to scholarly analysis.

Prosecutors, who in Italy are obliged to investigate such complaints, initially tried to have the case dismissed, saying no crime could be verified.

But Cascioli challenged them, and Judge Gaetano Mautone set a hearing for next Friday in Viterbo, north of Rome, to discuss preliminary motions in Cascioli's bid to have the court appoint technical experts to review the historical data and determine if Jesus really did exist."

Source:
http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/01/22/christ.book.ap/index.html
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#13824 - 01/23/06 12:18 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
jjw Offline
Superstar

Registered: 09/07/05
Posts: 636
Loc: USA
Cute:
"experts to review the historical data and determine if Jesus really did exist."

I would enjoy just being in the audience.
jjw

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#13825 - 01/23/06 02:32 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
So would I though I personally I've no doubt there was a self-annointed trouble-maker by that name.

What I'd love to see come out is the most authoritative reference to the crucifixion, that in the Quran, in which it states that following custom of the time he bought his way out with money. Not a particularly god-like act. Faked the balance and escaped quite possibly to the Western Mediterranean.
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#13826 - 01/23/06 04:25 PM Re: Did Jesus exist?
Blacknad Offline
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Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
"...the most authoritative reference to the crucifixion, that in the Quran..."

- Why is it the most authortative reference to the crucifiction?

'how can a man a thousand miles away from the scene of a happening, and 600 years after an event, pronounce as to what had transpired?" '

I can't work out why you say it is more authoritative than accounts written much closer, both in time and geography.

Blacknad.

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#13827 - 01/24/06 12:27 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Because the Islamic scholars at the time had no axe to grind one way or the other. The Jews had good reason to dismiss him as a fraud. The Christians an equally good reason to try to make him into something he wasn't.

Always trust the independent new source more than the one with a vested interest.

And, it should be noted, his mother is more important to Islam than to Christianity. In Christianity his mother is quickly forgotten. In Islam she is a major figure.

BTW: There is essentially nothing in Christian theology that was written down at the time, nothing that hasn't been intentionally or accidentally mistranslated by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. By the time anyone else saw any text it was far too late to even approximate the original. Why do you think there are so many obvious inconsistencies and contradictions?

And look at all the direct quotes? Heck no one today, even with video cameras, can remember a quote accurately 2 hours later.
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#13828 - 01/24/06 12:55 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
There is essentially nothing in Christian theology that was written down at the time, nothing that hasn't been intentionally or accidentally mistranslated by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. By the time anyone else saw any text it was far too late to even approximate the original.

REP: Only someone who has little understanding of historical literature would make these sweeping statements. I think your words also demonstrate ignorance about the oral tradition of passing on information. These were not people sat round camp fires telling stories - these were passed down by people who's career entailed being trained to memorize details to exacting standards.

'For those who wish to examine the historical reliability of the Bible, the test of reliability must be tested by the same criteria that all historic documents are tested:
Bibliographical Test
Internal Evidence Test
External Evidence Test
The Bibliographical Test of the New Testament is what I will present here. The others can be given if you need them.
The Bibliographical Test examines the reliability of the texts we have in regard to the number of manuscripts (MSS) and the interval of time between the original and the exiting copies.

There are more than 5,300 known Greek manuscripts, of the New Testament. Over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and at least 9,300 other earlier versions (MSS). And there are more than 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existance.
No other historical document begins to approach those numbers. The Iliad by Homer is the closest with only 643 manuscripts that still survive. In the entire range of Greek and Latin literature, the Iliad ranks second to the Bible in possessing the greatest amount of manuscript testamony.

Surviving manuscripts of the New Testament:
Greek
?.Uncials??...??.267
?.Minuscules??.2,764
?.Lectionaries??2,143
?.Papyri??...???.88
?.Recent Finds?...?47
ToTal :??????.5,309 Extant Greek MSS

Latin Vulgate??....10,000 plus
Ethiopic????...?2,000 plus
Slavic??????...4,101
Armenian????....2,587
Syriac Pashette??....350 plus
Bohairic??????.100
Arabic???????...75
Old Latin????..??50
Anglo Saxon???..??7
Gothic??????...?..6
Sodgian???????.3
Old Syriac?????......2
Persian???????..2
Frankish???????.1

The time span between the original writings of the New Testament and the earliest known existing manuscripts is about 250 ?300 years later. The closest known work is Pliny the Younger written in 75-160A.D. The earliest known copy is 850 A.D. a time span of 750 years.
The New Testament has about 20,000 lines, the Iliad has about 15,600 lines. About 40 lines (400 words) of the New Testament are in doubt ? ? of 1%. 764 lines of the Iliad are questionable ? 5%.

Following are some other historical books with the number of (MSS) and time intervals:

Ceaser - 100-44 B.C; Earliest copy: 900 A.D - 1,000 yr. Time Span; 10 Copies

Plato - 427-347 B.C; Earliest copy: 900 A.D - 1,200 yr. Time Span; 7 Copies

Aristotle - 384-322 B.C; Earliest copy: 1100 A.D - 1,400 yr. Time Span; 49 Copies

Sir Fredrick Kenyon, director and principle librarian of the British Museum, states:
?Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established?
The writings of Ceaser, Plato and Aristotle are highly regarded and considered trustworthy by literary scholars- even though the nearest existing manuscript is 1,000 yrs. after the original writing. To dismiss the New Testament as unreliable therefore, is to dismiss the reliability of every existing piece of historical document in existence.'


Cascioli reminds me of those who refuse to acknowledge the Nazi holocaust.

Blacknad.

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#13829 - 01/24/06 01:01 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
On the work of copying or translating texts...

'Like all of the ancient historical writings, they were orally dictated to scribes. Being a scribe was a profession just as an accountant is today, and they had very strict procedures when scribing. Papyrus, Parchment, or Vellum were the common "papers" used. They also used clay tablets or wax tablets, and sometimes even stone (scribed with an iron pen).
Oral repetition was also used by people who memorized the writings and would orally present the writings to those who could not read.
Talmudists (A. D. 100-500) were responsible for cataloging Hebrew civil and canonical law. They operated under strict regulations in regard to the scriptures.
1.) The synagogue roll must be written on the skins of clean animals.
2.) They must be fastened together with strings made from clean animals
3.) Every skin must contain a certain amount of columns, equal throughout the entire codex.
4.) The length of each column must not extend over less than 48 lines or more than 60 lines; and the breadth must consist of 30 letters.
5.) The whole copy must be first-lined; and if any three words be written without a line, it is worthless.
6.) The ink must be black and prepared according to a definite recipe.
7.) An authentic copy must be the exemplar, from which the transcriber ought not in the least deviate.
8) No word or letter, not even a yod, must be written from memory, the scribe not having looked at the codex before him.
9.) Between every consonant, the space of a hair or thread must intervene.
10.) Between every new parashah, or section, the breadth of nine consonants.
11.) Between every book, three lines.
12.) The fifth book of Moses must terminate exactly with a line; but the rest need not do so.
13.) The copyist must sit in full Jewish dress.
14.) Wash his whole body.
15.) Not begin to write the name of God with a pen newly dipped in ink.
16.) Should a King address him while writing Gods name he must take no notice of him.

Rolls in which these regulations were not observed were condemned and buried or burned; or they were banished to school to be used as reading books.
When a manuscript was verified that it had been copied with the exactitude prescribed bu the Talmud, it was considered authentic and equal in value to any other copy, and given equal authority.
The earliest translation was Old Syriac Version about 150-250 A.D. It was of the four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The point being: the accuracy of any translation will stand up to the most intense literary scrutiny.'

-from 'Intellectual argument for whether the Bible is corrupt or not'.

Blacknad.

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#13830 - 01/24/06 01:35 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'm well aware of oral tradition. I am also well aware that it is always inaccurate: No exceptions. Any half-way decent law school class contains an exercise that proves, beyond any doubt, that eye witness accounts are unreliable. I know ... I was fooled when I took the class just like everyone else. And we weren't right 10 minutes later much less 10s of decades later. If god existed he should have given them a video camera.

And I'm being serious. You are a goat farmer in the middle of nowhere and some guy comes down from a mountain and tells you about a burning bush ... vs. someone comes down and shows you a video. Which is the miracle?

Jesus' disciples did not include a scribe.The writers of the Talmud didn't write about Jesus Christ. But the writers of the Quran were scholars with a tradition of accurately recording events and Islamic texts clearly state that your religion's golden moment was a fraud.

So I challenge you to apply your own argument to the issue ... or do you only believe you argument when it supports your prejudice? Sorry to be harsh but you can't have it both ways ... Scribes are accurate when I like what they wrote but I can ignore them when I don't. Let me again remind you my major complaint is not religion ... it is hypocrisy. Strive to be consistent.

Consider for a minute the number of books considered at the Councils of Nicea. How many of the possible biblical texts were included? How many were not? How was the decision made what to indclude and what to exclude? The truth is that you have NEVER read a single excluded book such as the Book of Jasher. I encourage you to do so.
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#13831 - 02/05/06 12:48 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Dan,

I?ve been quite busy lately, but I?ve been mulling over some of your points.

Regarding the Muslim scholars, I don't really understand what Muslim scholars you refer to. The Quran was written by Muhammad and it states that Jesus was not crucified. It also states that Allah took Jesus up to heaven, but earlier it talks of the day of Jesus' death. It doesn?t seem to have a coherent view.

You said, 'Always trust the independent news source more than the one with a vested interest.'

The whole of Islam relies upon the idea that Jesus was not God's final revelation, but that Muhammad is. This doesn't seem very independent. I would think that Muhammad, writing 600 years later, is much less to be trusted than Paul, who wrote Galatians only twelve years after Jesus' death. Now as someone who had tried to stamp out Christianity by assisting the stoning of Christians, Paul must have undergone something significant to end up by being willing to die for his belief in Christ.

So if I'm going to trust anyone it would be Paul who was near the epicentre and not Muhammad, who pointed to no evidence for his assertion.

You also said that 'The writers of the Talmud didn't write about Jesus Christ.?

Now the writers of the Talmud were no friend to the Christians but:

?Raising the issue is an article by Steven Bayme, the American Jewish Committee's national director of Contemporary Jewish Life, which declares that Jews must face up to the fact that the Talmudic narrative "does clearly demonstrate ... fourth century rabbinic willingness to take responsibility for the execution of Jesus."

"Jewish apologetics that 'we could not have done it' because of Roman sovereignty ring hollow when one examines the Talmudic account," Bayme said. He contends that Jewish interfaith representatives are not being honest in dialogue if they ignore the explicit Talmudic references to Jesus.?


Of the three sources you mentioned: the Islamic scholars, the Jewish writers and the Christians, there is only one that denies Christ?s crucifixion, and that is the one you want to accept. To me it seems to be the most distant and least trustworthy.

Blacknad.

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#13832 - 02/05/06 01:52 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Dan,

In another post you presented a list of inconsistencies in the gospels.

You are correct, but you will draw a different conclusion than many biblical scholars.

The following is a very good examination of the inconsistencies:

http://cluelesschristian.classicalanglican.net/?m=200401


?Christian scholars argue that the very fact that there are inconsistencies between the Gospels is more consistent with eye-witness accounts than if there were no inconsistencies. Eye-witness accounts are never exactly the same. They are however similar. In all accounts women were the first to find the empty tomb. In all accounts it was early in the morning either just before dawn, at dawn or just after. In all accounts the tomb was empty and the witnesses experienced an angelic manifestation. Had the accounts been fabricated, then those wishing to perpetrate this hoax would have reconciled the accounts rather than immortalizing the various differences. In addition, had the intention of the Gospel writers been to ensure credibility, more reliable witnesses than women (who were not respected in Jewish society) let alone Mary Magdalene (who had recently been exorcised) would have been selected.?

It seems to me that the gospels were collections of eyewitness accounts and as such contain differences limited to small detail. The major details are the same throughout ? Jesus existed, performed miraculous acts, was crucified, and then appeared to individuals and groups (including a crowd of 500).

His disciples were broken and despairing but something caused them to undergo a massive change and go out and face the antagonistic Roman world and embrace grizzly deaths for their beliefs in most cases ? leaving the question, ?who would die for something they patently knew was false??


If the gospels we have today were a deceptive construction foisted upon us by a perverse church, then the inconsistencies would almost certainly have been edited out.

They were obviously written separately, without collusion, at different times, but were consistent on major (and the important) points.

I am reassured by the fact that the inconsistencies have survived.

Blacknad.

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#13833 - 02/05/06 04:33 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
> Regarding the Muslim scholars, I don't really
> understand what Muslim scholars you refer to.

Simply that Muslim scholars wrote a lot about the characters of the New Testament. In fact they wrote about many of the same events and wrote a lot more about Mary than one can find in the Christian writings after the Council of Nicea got done gutting them.

> The Quran was written by Muhammad and it states
> that Jesus was not crucified.

Mohammed didn't actually write his book any more than Jesus wrote his. But you are correct. According to Islamic scholars Jesus was not crucified. So why is one account taken as the word of god and the other as heathen nonsense. And I dare you to look at the preceeding sentence and figure out to which I refer in either case. The point being that the views are equivalently correct, equivalently incorrect, or none-of-the-above.

> It also states that Allah took Jesus up to
> heaven,

Every religion has everyone going there. That should be no surprise.

> but earlier it talks of the day of Jesus'
> death. It doesn?t seem to have a coherent view.

That is incoherent? Everyone dies before ascending to heaven. The question is how they died and under what circumstances.

> You said, 'Always trust the independent news
> source more than the one with a vested
> interest.'

Well it certainly makes more sense to trust an independent news organization when trying to figure out he-said/she-said between political parties so why not hear too?

> The whole of Islam relies upon the idea that
> Jesus was not God's final revelation, but that
> Muhammad is. This doesn't seem very
> independent. I would think that Muhammad,
> writing 600 years later, is much less to be
> trusted than Paul, who wrote Galatians only
> twelve years after Jesus' death.

Ah but there is a huge difference. By the time we get to Galatians at 600 AD we have not a single copy of the original text in the original language. We essentially know nothing upon which we can base a conclusion.

> Now as someone who had tried to stamp out
> Christianity by assisting the stoning of
> Christians, Paul must have undergone something
> significant to end up by being willing to die
> for his belief in Christ.

And every person that stored by beaches on DDay did the same. This argumetn does not impress me.
My father might have been pleased with the honor
but I am not so easily manipulated.

Perhaps revenge from being treated as he was. But then we also need to ask whether the events you describe actually took place. What is the source? How reliable is it? Is it believable that someone who "knew for a fact" what the facts were could so easily be swayed first one way then the other. Heck the Senior Senator from Arizona wasn't that
weak and he never shared bread with the Son of God. So think about Paul from the standpoint
of reason. Are his transformation reasonable given the knowledge he had? And if they are
reasonable whose to say he wouldn't have flip-flopped yet again given his mental instability.

> So if I'm going to trust anyone it would be
> Paul who was near the epicentre and not
> Muhammad, who pointed to no evidence for his
> assertion.

But Paul is mentally fragile at best. Read your own description of what he did.

What he turned into though is undeniable ... a true believer. Take look around at other true believers. Look at the people that drank Kool Aide with Jim Jones. Want the rest of this sordid list?

> You also said that 'The writers of the Talmud
> didn't write about Jesus Christ.?

> Now the writers of the Talmud were no friend to
> the Christians but:

4th century. I meant at the time of Jesus's life. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

> Of the three sources you mentioned: the Islamic
> scholars, the Jewish writers and the
> Christians, there is only one that denies
> Christ?s crucifixion, and that is the one you
> want to accept. To me it seems to be the most
> distant and least trustworthy.

Au contraire. There is no belief in Judiasm of Jesus Christ being anything more significant than any number of other prophets. He is just one more ... not the son of God, not someone that has a split-personality problem with the holy spirit. Not one who counted for enough to even warrant a single passage in the Torah.

But lets return to the top of this missive. You make a point that the Islamic texts are inconsistent. The reality is that ALL texts are inconsistent: Especially the Christian ones as I have pointed out with Chapter and Verse.

So you are trying to argue as to why you should believe one inconsistent version whereas I am arguing that none read as anything remotely approaching the level of integrity and consistency I would expect from a divinely inspired work ... unless it is divinely inspired fiction.
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DA Morgan

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#13834 - 02/05/06 04:53 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
> You are correct, but you will draw a different
> conclusion than many biblical scholars.

That is certainly your right. But given they are scholars and you are not what standing
does your opinion have?

> The following is a very good examination of the
> inconsistencies:
> http://cluelesschristian.classicalanglican.net/?m=200401

<snipped>

> It seems to me that the gospels were
> collections of eyewitness accounts and as such
> contain differences limited to small detail.
> The major details are the same throughout ?
> Jesus existed, performed miraculous acts, was
> crucified, and then appeared to individuals
> and groups (including a crowd of 500).

If the Bible was intended to be read like the court-reporters notes in a Superior Court trial you'd have my vote. You see I understand that in a Superior Court trial the intention is for the jury to make a decision between two sides that are presenting the truth in the way that is most favorable to their case.

We, on the other hand are talking about the word of God. There is NO miracle if the stories
are not consistent. There is NO hand of god if the eye-witnesses can disagree about what happened. There is not divinely inspired writing if it is open to mistranslation and editing.

What you have done with your argument is reduce the Bible to an attempt to persuade the jury. And while I will agree that this is precisely what it is. Comparing the Bible to the work-output of a couple of professional liars does not strike me as a great argument for the divinity of Christ.

> His disciples were broken and despairing but
> something caused them to undergo a massive
> change and go out and face the antagonistic
> Roman world and embrace grizzly deaths for
> their beliefs in most cases ? leaving the
> question, ?who would die for something they
> patently knew was false??

Oh nonsense. What did those disciples experience not experienced by the all-to-human Senator McCain of Arizona in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp? And McCain hadn't spent the previous years travelling with the son of God. He was just an average guy doing his duty on behalf of his country.

There are a lot of people that have been in situations equal to or worse than what happened to the disciples. How many survived Abu Gharab? Reread your sentence and substitute Saddam Hussein for Romans. This argument is weaker than jello pudding.

> If the gospels we have today were a deceptive
> construction foisted upon us by a perverse
> church, then the inconsistencies would almost
> certainly have been edited out.

Not at all. You need to study more about the origins and history of your church. For example who in Europe opposed the printing of the Bible and why? It is easy for you in 2006 to make this argument hoping no one has a memory. But history teaches us that the church never wanted or intended the masses to read it ... much less read anything at all.

> They were obviously written separately, without
> collusion, at different times, but were
> consistent on major (and the important) points.

I strenuously disagree. Lets go back to your original argument about how important it was for scribes to accurately reproduce a text without a single error. It is well known that a scribe making a mistake in a Jewish Torah was required to burn it and begin again no matter how small the error. Now you know for a fact there is no original text here. You know for a fact the original was not written in Greek or English. You know for a fact it was heavily edited ... just ask King James. And now you want us to shrug our shoulders at inconsistencies ... even small ones? Not a chance.

> I am reassured by the fact that the
> inconsistencies have survived.

So where is the black line that separates too may inconsistencies from not enough? Do we now have license to declare any stories that are TOO consistent fraudulent? You can't have it both ways.

I am convinced that the inconsistencies have survived because once printers started distributing copies of it those that pointed them out were quickly dispatched by the Inquisition ... meaning the church ... for all sorts of ills. You need to study the church's history. It killed and tortured those that pointed them out in an attempt to silence them.

So if they were so happy about the inconsistencies proving their case ... why didn't they point them out? Even now, in 2006, find me a major Christian denomination that is willing to stand up and make your argument? The silence will be deafening.

I return to my statements in response to your first posting ... these are the arguments of an attorney ... a paid liar ... trying to make his case based on a preponderence of the evidence. Not good enough for god. Not good enough for the creator of the entire universe. I expect something better. In fact I DEMAND something better. what say ye?
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#13835 - 02/05/06 05:42 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
With apologies for not rereading some of my typos. I am visiting my mother and typing on an unfamiliar keyboard using an unfamiliar operating system (Windows). But I am sure you get my point.

I'd likely be persuaded by your arguments if we were discussing Tommy Jones who witnesses say they saw running from the bank shortly after the robbery. But this is not about a bank robbery. This is not about the unprepared statements of witnesses caught off-guard. This is supposed to be a divinely inspired historical account that we can use to guide every act in our lives and follow into the grave whereupon we will be wisked up to heaven to meet the creator of the universe.

I sense that you are caught here. On one hand you are struggling for arguments that will affirm your faith. And for that you have my sympathy. But the problem is that far smarter people than both of us have shot at this target and they always end up with the fact that you must accept religious teachings on faith (there is no proof) and you can't convince a true-believe that logic matters. Why is the death of a disciple any more meaningful than the death of a Japanese kamikaze pilot? Didn't both die for their belief? Does this make the Emporer divine? How easy for you to dismiss one while clinging to the other: Why?

Why is the torture of one man for about one day any more significant than the torture of millions? The suffering in Nazi concentration camps and cancer wards trumps anything supposedly dealt the son of god. And Mohammed is going to stand up and claim a trip to the Dana Farber Cancer Research Center never happened.

And even if you come away from this feeling like your faith survived. Why didn't Jesus know about penicillin? Why did he, split-personalitied to the Lord God, create smallpox?

In science it is not good enough to claim a theory because it explains one observation while sweeping the balance of recorded observations under the rug. The question I put to you is can you, based on any reasonable use of your intelligence, explain all of the known facts?

1. The genocide of every person on the planet excpet the members of one family?
2. The cold blooded murder of all males in a country.
3. The invention of smallpox, malaria, childhood leukemia?
4. The creation of Satan? the Apple? the Snake?
5. The intentional creation of flawed humans ... whose flaws include the torture of other innocent living beings (human and otherwise)?

And the list is very very long.

You have my respect for coming back and facing what you knew would be coming. But that does not mean that I believe any of your points is sharp.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#13836 - 02/05/06 12:21 PM Re: Did Jesus exist?
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Dan,

Sorry ? another long one.

I don't agree with all of your points. They can be argued back and forth - and the position we come away from them with is based upon the position we came to them with.

There are many scholars who have studied the available evidence and come to the conclusion that there is a case to be made, including many non-religious scholars and some who reluctantly became converts as a result of their investigations - such as:

'Dr. Frank Morrison, a lawyer who had been brought up in a rationalistic environment, had come to hold the opinion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was nothing but a fairy tale happy ending which spoiled the matchless story of Jesus. He felt that he owed it to himself and to others to write a book which would present the truth about Jesus, expose the misconceptions, and dispel forever the mythical story of the resurrection.'

He ended by writing 'Who moved the stone? - The book that refused to be written'.

There are many, many academics that have come to a similar conclusion, as there are many, many who would find the evidence lacking.

I have noticed that a good number who attack the evidence seem to have a strong anti-Christian feel about them and I question their lack of bias - just as you would for those who state the evidence is compelling.

So I am left standing in the middle and you rightly ask the question - 'But given they are scholars and you are not what standing does your opinion have?'

Well I understand that academics who have had the time and means to study the evidence fall on opposing sides - so you are spot on when you say 'they always end up with the fact that you must accept religious teachings on faith'.

Though this is a very different type of faith to that of accepting Harry Potter as fact, (as you have drawn the parallel elsewhere). This at first seems to be a silly assertion, but does contain some truth, however it is still faith of a different order. Faith in Christ entails an experiential process that leads to conversion and certainly contains an experiential element that sustains that faith after conversion. I would probably not still be a believer if that were not the case. And the existence of Hogwarts is not pointed to in any historical sense - however contested the evidence may or may not be.

Much of the argument can only be referential to a position we already hold. For instance, you ask, ?How were the books of the bible chosen?? ? insinuating that this was an unreliable process, possibly corrupt and manipulative. A response is that God (as part of that process) ensured we have the texts that best help us get at the truth. Of course it is self referential and you would deny this because you don?t accept God in the process.

You state, ?We, on the other hand are talking about the word of God. There is NO miracle if the stories are not consistent. There is NO hand of god if the eye-witnesses can disagree about what happened. There is not divinely inspired writing if it is open to mistranslation and editing.

Here you are asserting that God could not be involved if eye witness accounts disagree (even in the small detail). It can be answered that God is using humans to convey what He wants and He does it despite their inability to remember and agree on the minutia (and what?s more the four accounts give us differing perspectives on the same events) ? but if what we have helps us to arrive at a position of truth then it is sufficient. Now you don?t think an all powerful God would work in that fashion, but I don?t see how you could constrain him one way or the other ? it is again a matter of opinion.

Your questions about ?God allowing evil and suffering and creating disease and not giving us the cure?, on one hand points, within your framework, to an incoherent nonsense, but in the Christian framework point to lack of understanding of the divine mind and what he is achieving in His creation. And here I know this statement will be preposterous to you and is probably the greatest example of the irreconcilability between the believer and unbeliever ? the believer wants to add to the argument, (God restoring ? eternal existence ? God knowing what he is achieving - we are not able to understand his actions due to insufficient information etc.) - and the unbeliever wants to stick to the basic argument that we suffer and so your view that God is good is fallacious ? therefore He is nonsense and cannot exist.

And this goes on and on.


The question in the end is, ?What evidence can we really have for the actions of an individual two thousand years ago that would satisfy us?? I would say none ? even if the entire events could have been videoed we would suspect tampering and trickery. Even if we were transported back to witness it we could either accept or believe we were dreaming or having an illusion. And we will discount it based upon whether it seems reasonable to us ? if we had accounts of Socrates healing the blind we would probably discount those portions and claim they were additions etc. And if Socrates? whole life was characterised by such things then we would possibly assign his life to myth and/or reclassify Plato?s writings.

One thing seems to be clear - God has left us all with the option to completely discount Him if we want to and to be able to rationalise it and live comfortably without it as well, but we also have enough to reach faith by and that opens the door to an experience of life that is fundamentally different to that before we accepted.

Regards,

Blacknad.

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#13837 - 02/06/06 04:04 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
> Sorry another long one.

Well better "one" than "two."

> I don't agree with all of your points. They can
> be argued back and forth - and the position we
> come away from them with is based upon the
> position we came to them with.

That you agree with any though is interesting. I can't wait to read further.

> There are many scholars who have studied the
> available evidence and come to the conclusion
> that there is a case to be made, including many
> non-religious scholars and some who reluctantly
> became converts as a result of their
> investigations - such as:

Or so they say. I find these claims of original reluctance a bit disingenuous.

> 'Dr. Frank Morrison, a lawyer who had been
> brought up in a rationalistic environment, had
> come to hold the opinion that the resurrection
> of Jesus Christ was nothing but a fairy tale
> happy ending which spoiled the matchless story
> of Jesus. He felt that he owed it to himself and
> to others to write a book which would present
> the truth about Jesus, expose the
> misconceptions, and dispel forever the mythical
> story of the resurrection.'

Assuming he is telling the truth rather than, as an attorney, making the best case he can for his client. That is quite an assumption methinks. And one based upon no information one-way or the other.

> He ended by writing 'Who moved the stone? - The
> book that refused to be written'.

> There are many, many academics that have come to
> a similar conclusion, as there are many, many
> who would find the evidence lacking.

All of which conclusively proves nothing either way.

> I have noticed that a good number who attack the
> evidence seem to have a strong anti-Christian
> feel about them and I question their lack of
> bias - just as you would for those who state the
> evidence is compelling.

You may be right that some are anti-Christian but I rarely if ever see that in my colleagues. What I see is an strong bias against all forms of mental intoxication. We want to evidence that something is more substantive than an invisible purple rhinoceros or Harry Potter.

> So I am left standing in the middle and you
> rightly ask the question - 'But given they are
> scholars and you are not what standing does your
> opinion have?'

That is precisely where almost everyone is. And to have asked you that was a bit of a red herring as I have little respect for the opinions of self-annointed experts unless they earn that respect through cogent argument support by verifiable evidence. And more important than can they argue their case ... can they explain the supporting evidence for the other side's case too.

> Faith in Christ entails an experiential process
> that leads to conversion

Only because that is the expectation. You move to France the expectation is that you will learn to speak French and support the best interests of the country.

> and certainly contains an experiential element
> that sustains that faith after conversion.

Not to be demeaning here but so does LSD. And Timothy Leary was as much a "true believer" as any Christian.

My point being that personal experience is unworthy of being used in most cases. Certainly unworthy when discussing the origins of the universe. You have not experience Hogwarts ... but many have experienced 100 mics of acid. And there is nothing that makes your experience any more valid than theirs.

> ... you ask, ?How were the books of the bible
> chosen?? insinuating that this was an unreliable
> process, possibly corrupt and manipulative.

That was no insinuation. That was a statement of belief based on evidence having read accounts of how the decisions were made in Nicea and thereafter.

> A response is that God (as part of that process)
> ensured we have the texts that best help us get
> at the truth.

Seems to me you just shot to death your claim just a day ago that inconsistency is good. Even a high school student knows that if the point of the exercise is ""texts that help us get at the truth" a passing grade is not created by multiple conflicting accounts. Including the fact that Islam directly disputes one of the central tenants of the faith. Lets keep in mind that Islam looks extremely favorably on Jesus and his mother so they had no axe to grind.

> Of course it is self referential and you would
> deny this because you don?t accept God in the
> process.

I don't accept the invisible purple rhinoceros. What you are giving me here is warm, fuzzy, cuddly stuff. Where is anything verifiable? You can't create the entire universe and everything in it and leave as the sole evidence a text no one has ever seen. Even the framers of the US Declaration of Independence did better. Several hundred years later I can, and have, read the original. Where was the original text from Paul 200 years later? Where is there even evidence he could read and write?

> Here you are asserting that God could not be
> involved if eye witness accounts disagree

In a sense. What I am asserting is that if God had any hand in writing the documents they would be divinely inspired and therefore accurate, nay perfect. Imperfection is not a godly attribute.

> It can be answered that God is using humans to
> convey what He wants and He does it despite
> their inability to remember and agree on the
> minutia

This deserves a one word answer: Why?

Apply yourself to this simple question. Assume you are god for the moment. You have created everything and you wish to instruct your creations. What methodology would you choose? A method that would work or one that would fail? A method that would inevitably lead to errors in interpretation and judgement or a method that would be understood universally by those you created?

You are describing a god that is not just imperfect but a fool.

Agree with him or not I can guarantee you more people understand the message JFK was trying to get across when he said "I am a jelly donut" (in German). Even the Germans. Imagine yourself with the full powers and abilities of the god you imagine. You want to convey what message to the people that exist and all future generations? What is the message and how best to deliver it? I bet an authorless book, original text never found, repeatedly mistranslated by Popes and Kings would not be your choice. I'll bet multiple authors with different opinions of what happened wouldn't even be considered. And yet at the same time you claim this deity to be smarter than you are.

Well lets examine the success of this deity. He's made more Moslems than Christians. He has made more bloodshed than peace. He has made me to point out that this is all nonsense. And then we have the nasty fact that he also made smallpox which you seem to go to extraordinary lengths to ignore.

Just as any surgeon in any major hospital has saved more lives than Jesus Christ ... it is equally true that Osama bin Laden and Karl Rove have more accurately and forcefully delivered their messages. I don't like either the messages or the messengers ... but I get it: No questions asked.

> but if what we have helps us to arrive at a
> position of truth then it is sufficient.

If an inconsistent message has ever helped anyone arrive at truth please point out that example to me. This is getting remarkably close, once again, to finding the truth in a courtroom by trying to tell which of two attorneys is the better liar.

> Now you don?t think an all powerful God would
> work in that fashion, but I don?t see how you
> could constrain him one way or the other

You are correct I can't constrain him. But what I can do is point out that if this is his best attempt he is a dismal failure. That if this is teh best he can do in communicating with humans he is either a moron or a fool. I'd not try to constrain you if you decided to protest global warming by pouring gasoline on yourself and setting yourself ablaze. But I would consider you an idiot for doing so. Well in your case I'd likely go looking for a fire extinguisher so that statement isn't completely true ... but you get the point.

> Your questions about ?God allowing evil and
> suffering and creating disease and not giving us
> the cure?, on one hand points, within your
> framework, to an incoherent nonsense,

Not nonsense at all. If you have a sentient entity then it did it with intent and design and thus is cruel and malicious by definition.

> but in the Christian framework point to lack of
> understanding of the divine mind and what he is
> achieving in His creation.

I don't care what was in Hitler's mind when he ordered the gas chambers built. I know the result. I know not what was on the mind of Stalin when he murdered millions in Russia. I know the result. I do not need to know the mind of god to evaluate the result. A god that doesn't give a damn about results is a pretty poor god by any standard.

If you create smallpox you MUST accept responsibility for what it does. There is no shrugging of the shoulders allowed.

>God restoring eternal existence God knowing what
> he is achieving

I don't understand the first point but I do understand the second. Lets assume you are correct. That god knows what he is achieving with the creation of malaria. Please do recall he looked at his creation and was glad and satisfied. That included malaria didn't it? If the creator of the universe created smallpox and malaria but intent. Thinks they are good. And knows what is being achieved. Then what kind of monster is that god? If a human did it we'd haul them before the World Court in the Hague and the outcome would be a foregone conclusion.

> we are not able to understand his actions due to
> insufficient information

Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. What you are asking here is for sentient beings to surrender all logic, all reason, all ability to render an opinion and just accept that something they do not understand and can not comprehend has some really good lovable reason for the painful murder of newborn children. Even you don't believe this. This argument came out of a book or pamphlet and you are quoting it or getting this nonsense from a third-party advisor. I know for a fact you don't believe it as you are not that mindless and not that capable of cruelty. I have the same feeling right now I had when I told Justine that if I wanted to talk to a parrot I'd buy one.

> and so your view that God is good is fallacious
> therefore He is nonsense and cannot exist.

Not my argument at all. My argument is that if one accepts your version of god one must accept a god that is cruel creating diseases and committing genocide. On the other hand if one looks for any verifiable evidence it can not be found.

Look at everything you have written. Not a single statement of verifiable fact. Lots of smoke and mirrors ... but no statements of verifiable fact including that you personally experienced something.

> The question in the end is, ?What evidence can
> we really have for the actions of an individual
> two thousand years ago that would satisfy us??

I disagree I really could care less about Jesus in the sense you raise him here. Did he live? Absolutely. Did he die? Absolutely though some may argue when and where. There are only two things that relate to the story ... (1) was Mary a virgin. You'll never know. (2) was he resserected? And again you'll find no verifiable evidence. There is no CNN video-tape reporting of either event. Take these two things away and you have nothing.

> I would say none even if the entire events could
> have been videoed we would suspect tampering
> and trickery.

True. Just as there are people that claim the moon landings were fake. But the situation here is different. The moon landings are believed by almost everyone on the planet. Those that claim otherwise are viewed as a few squirrels that ate a few too many nuts. The vast majority of the people on this planet do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. This screams incompetent messanger at best ... fraud at worst.

> One thing seems to be clear - God has left us
> all with the option to completely discount Him

A point of agreement between us. So I ask you to again to be objective. For what purpose would a messenger INTENTIONALLY deliver an ambiguous message? Have you ever in your life experience met someone delivering a message who didn't care whether you got it accurately?

You seem willing to forgive god incompetence? malice? A large number of all too human failings. Why? I thought he was supposed to forgive you.

Sum it all up. You have faith. Faith in what? And what does that faith get you? Are you only a good person because of fear of eternal punishment? No!
So your behavior is not related to that faith. Does the earth only spin on its axis because of that faith? No! Continue this ad nauseum. And apply Occam's Razor.

Whether your god exists or not nothing would be different except.

1. If everyone agreed there was no god the religious wars would stop.
2. If everyone agreed there was no god they would have to admit that when they act well or poorly they, and they alone, are solely responsible.
3. If everyone agreed that there was no god they could not excuse the suffering of the poor and ill because of some nonsense about how they are blessed.
4. If everyone agreed that there was no god the money spent building billion-dollar monuments to the clergy might be allocated to actually doing good work.

There are my four points. Give me your four points that show how anything on this planet is better for a faith-based belief system existing. Pointing out how the substance underlying the belief system makes it different from a belief in the invisible purple rhinoceros.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#13838 - 02/06/06 03:36 PM Re: Did Jesus exist?
soilguy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 414
Loc: North Carolina
Personally, I have to doubt the veracity of things written decades or centuries after the events in question took place. I can go along with the existence of Jesus, even with no contemporary evidence, but the crazy-ass magic stuff is out of the question, and smacks of writers gilding the lily to make the story more similar to pre-existing myths, and more acceptable to the pagans.

Muslims writing about the events 600 years later do nothing for me. I don't see how they could have been unbiased, either.
_________________________
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
--S. Lewis

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#13839 - 02/06/06 09:46 PM Re: Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
I agree. I am putting it into this discussion because, quite frankly, all three middle-eastern religions claim to be the one true faith sprung from the same roots: Abraham/Ibrahim.

And they have been using this idiocy for millenia to justify genocide, torture, and now the moronic terrorism that allows GWB to justify gutting the Constitution of the US.

Not a single one of these religions can point to their original text. Not one of these religions has been uncorrupted by politics. Not one of these religions has led by setting a good example. And all use an authorless book, of unknown providence, and with an interpretation that changes whenever it is convenient.

They are all using FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to control the behavior of people and extract money from them. To enslave the minds and the bodies and give nothing in return save for some vague promise that after you blow yourself up you will be rewarded.

No act of logic known to science can explain a born again Christian willing to kill people at an abortion clinic to honor the sanctity of life. Nor a president that holds life so sacred he supports the death penalty and started a war without provocation.

Organized religion has been the single most dangerous and destructive force known to this planet followed closely by nationalism which at its base always claims "God is on our side."

Blacknad has suprised me by demonstrating a willingness to use his brain though his most recent missive looked a lot like someone else's thoughts ... not his.

I can't save souls. But I am trying to save a mind.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#13840 - 02/07/06 04:13 PM Re: Did Jesus exist?
soilguy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 414
Loc: North Carolina
I can't disagree with anything you just said here. I won't deny that sometimes, organized religion can do some good -- for instance, leading the civil rights movement in the US. But on the whole it seems like an amoral tool that is used for evil purposes at least as often as it is used for good.
_________________________
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
--S. Lewis

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#13841 - 02/07/06 05:49 PM Re: Did Jesus exist?
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
I like your example of organized religion doing some good and pointing to the civil rights movement.

Now juxtapose that against the most ardent force in America trying to keep blacks in pseudo-slavery: The Christian churches of the South.

It was another case of a religious war ... and the only reason I feel at all good about it is that the good guys (in my opinion) won one.

If it hadn't been for "good" Christians and their churches supporting the KKK, supporting segregation, supporting the poll tax, supporting the drinking fountain, equal-but-separate schools, etc. policies it would not have taken a civil rights movement to solve the problem.

And it doesn't take too much imagination to look at present-day America and see those good Christians again trying to deprive a group of equal rights under the law.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#13842 - 02/11/06 01:32 AM Re: Did Jesus exist?
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
DAN: "A point of agreement between us. So I ask you to again to be objective. For what purpose would a messenger INTENTIONALLY deliver an ambiguous message? Have you ever in your life experience met someone delivering a message who didn't care whether you got it accurately?"

Dan, the message may seem ambiguous, but those who choose an honest exploration of God find things that confirm the message.

Someone I know, in their work for the church, has been present at a couple of exorcisms. I know he is utterly trustworthy but he has admitted that he has seen physical manifestations that are beyond the explainable ? heavy objects moving across the room etc.

This to me is evidence, of a sort, for something beyond materialism. What would you want me to do with it? I know he is not a liar and I know he is not someone who has ever touched hallucinogens or prone to flights of fancy or is stupid enough to mistake a natural action for a supernatural one. I do not have the luxury that you do of just imagining that I am making this up, or that he is untrustworthy.

I have another friend who had broken his wrist and it had set out of shape, causing a limitation in movement. At my church he was prayed for and those in the group saw his wrist move and click into place and he now has full movement.
Now aside from the question, ?Why would God heal a stupid wrist and not a dying child?? ? what am I to make of this? People I know to be exceptionally reliable and honest (because they believe their faith calls for a commitment to honesty), have attested to a physical healing. How do I discount this? ? it would be dishonest of me.

And I have seen and experienced many things over the years that confirm my faith.

I can't be entirely objective - who really can - but philosophically it's no crime.

Blacknad.

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