The Reason Rally and the Jesus Allergy

Why is it so many have a problem with simply the existence of Jesus? Let’s talk about it in today’s Deeper Waters blog.

With the Reason Rally coming, many atheists have come to this blog to share their…um…wisdom. What has been remarkable to see is the antagonism to the idea of Jesus. No. Not really the Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah. No. This is to the acceptance of any existence of Jesus whatsoever.

In reality, a claim like this is akin to going to a geological convention and claiming that the Earth is flat. Most historians writing about Jesus will reduce the idea of the Christ myth to a footnote if even that. Still, this doesn’t stop the rants of atheists thinking they’re making powerful arguments.

We are told that there is no contemporary evidence of Jesus. To begin with, this would not fit with the Pauline epistles that scholars across the board hold to be authentic. For those who don’t know, these are Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. In the world of NT studies, to think that Paul did not write these is ludicrous.

Furthermore, there are several creedal statements in these epistles themselves and these would have been part of an oral tradition that predates the epistles. In these traditions, we also have testimony to the existence of Jesus. Most notable is the creed that is in 1 Cor. 15.

IF we went a little bit further, we have the gospels. Even if we place them 60-70 years after the Jesus events are reported to have happened, this is a much shorter time distance than most historians would have written about in the ancient world. This does not mean one has to accept everything in the gospels as historical, but one can realize they are built around a historical figure.

Go still not much further and we have the beginning of the Early Church with the apologists and other fathers. Notably, none of their opponents were trying to make the claim that Jesus never existed. In fact, a number of them even agreed that Jesus did things that were considered to be miracles.

If we use the line that there is no contemporary evidence, then we have to throw out the huge majority of ancient history. We can easily get rid also of the idea that there was a Jewish War in 70 A.D. After all, no one wrote about this except Josephus, and he obviously was making it up as a Jew himself to get sympathy for his people….

Ah. Josephus. We all know that the reference to Jesus in his works is entirely an interpolation.

Do we?

Now it’s believed that it’s quite likely that a part of it was interpolated, but that’s only a part. Can someone produce the Josephus scholar who says that the entire thing is an interpolation?

Furthermore, this is just one passage. There is another reference to Jesus in the Antiquities in Chapter 9 of book 20 and this reference is not called into question at all.

Of course, there are other references such as those of Tacitus and Lucian and Suetonius.

The question is what best explains what I wish to refer to as a Jesus allergy amongst these new atheist types? Is it a fear that if even if the existence of Jesus is conceded then everything else comes in? Do they really think that this is an all-or-nothing game? It certainly is a characteristic of fundamentalist thought.

It certainly does not come from a study of history. In all of these claims of Jesus never existing, a real approach to historiography is never given. It would either take away too much or it would make it impossible to really claim anything as it would be too nit-picky.

Is it a not wanting to do any actual work in historical study? It would be much easier to just say Jesus never existed instead of actually having to study the Bible and seek to see how it ought to be interpreted. That does not mean you have to believe that it is true. I believe there is a true interpretation of the Koran, and that means that any interpretation that disagrees with what the author wrote is false, but that does not mean that the content of that interpretation is true.

Could it be that these atheists are so antagonistic to that idea that they want to just take the easy way out? Could it also be a part of the concept that we can admit no truth to the Bible or to religious thinking that we must simply believe everything sincerely believed by Christians is delusional?

Richard Dawkins himself has said that it is possible to mount a serious case that Jesus never existed and uses G.A. Wells as an example. Wells is not a historian however, but a professor of German, and his case is not accepted in NT scholarship. Making a case is not the same as making a good case. Would Dawkins accept it as much if we said that because apologists exist, one can make a serious case that God exists? Is it because there is an ID movement that we can make a serious case that there is a designer? Dawkins would not accept any of these, but accepts that because Wells makes a case, it means it must be a serious case.

To the atheists who are coming here, it is best for you to drop the idea that Jesus never existed. It is not taken seriously and to make a case only shows a lack of understanding of historiography and gives reason for those of us who are Christians to not take your case seriously.

By the way, it’s not just Christians like myself who make this case. Please note the following video where Bart Ehrman answers the question directly in the company of atheists:

Considering Ehrman is a champion of biblical matters to the New Atheists, hopefully they’ll take him seriously here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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137 Responses to “The Reason Rally and the Jesus Allergy”

  1. J. P. Holding Says:

    And BTW Wells changed his mind later on — he believes now that there were maybe 2 people named Jesus…last I checked.

    As editor of the most comprehensive book on this subject — and probably even more so than Ehrman’s — any of you fruitcakes who believes in this “Christ Myth” crap are welcome to debate me at TheologyWeb….you’ll get shredded the way Kenneth Humphreys did if you do.

  2. Simplexion Says:

    Hi J.P. Holding,
    Have you read ‘Proving History’ by Richard Carrier? He looks at using Bayes theorem for analysing historical evidence. Using a Bayesian method for analysis has been successful with many areas of scientific study.
    He finds that using this method makes the likelihood of Jesus of the Bible being a historical person as highly unlikely. He also comments that using Ehrman’s arguments are outdated as he doesn’t use Bayes theorem in his research.
    Do you think that Ehrman can argue his point with updated views about analysing historical evidence?

    • J. P. Holding Says:

      I don’t do math formulas, but as the saying goes- — garbage in, garbage out. I’ll leave it to Dr. McGrew to say more. Suffice to say the Christ myth remains a nutcase province.

  3. Tim Says:

    Unless Richard Carrier has significantly improved his grasp of Bayes’s Theorem in the last year or so, this book is not going to be interesting to anyone except his most devoted fans. To be blunt, he is not very good at it, a fact that has been documented in several places now.

    If Carrier actually argues that the use of Bayesian methods renders the existence of a historical Jesus broadly similar to the one depicted in the Gospels improbable — not having read the book, I cannot be certain that your description is correct, but I rather suspect that it is — it is not a promising sign.

    Ehrman has his clay feet, but he does at least understand the general nature of an inference to the best explanation, which is often a non-technical way of running an inference that could be explicated in Bayesian terms. To suggest that if Ehrman doesn’t use Bayes explicitly his arguments are ipso facto outdated is, frankly, risible.

  4. Simplexion Says:

    I’m not saying that Richard Carrier has a good grasp of Bayes theorem but as he says, “I had the book formally peer reviewed by a professor of mathematics, and consulted with a few other professors of mathematics during its development.”
    It might not be precise and absolutely correct, but I feel the main argument is that currently historians are examining the evidence for Jesus using poor methods.
    So, you are stating that Carrier has a poor grasp of Bayes theorem without reading his book about that subject?

    My personal problem with the historical Jesus is how often he is referred to as being supernatural. It is just way too often and it is complete nonsense to accept that he did ANY of those supernatural feats.

  5. Simplexion Says:

    Because anything supernatural is complete nonsense, now or 2000 years ago. It was nonsense then, it is nonsense now. The only difference is we have the knowledge to know that it is complete nonsense.
    If you are arguing that the supernatural feats done by Jesus were historically accurate too, you lose a majority of your credibility. You can argue that he may have existed as a normal man but adding supernatural abilities to it is completely against reason and evidence.

    • Tim Says:

      “… anything supernatural is complete nonsense, now or 2000 years ago. It was nonsense then, it is nonsense now. The only difference is we have the knowledge to know that it is complete nonsense.”

      What line of reasoning leads you to this conclusion? It would help me to understand better where you are coming from if you would lay out at least some of the facts that you believe close the question in favor of naturalism and show how they support your conclusion.

  6. Simplexion Says:

    Anything supernatural goes against science. That is it. There is no evidence of anything ever being supernatural. That is all.

    • Tim Says:

      “Anything supernatural goes against science.”

      This doesn’t seem at all obvious. And I don’t think it’s just me. Isaac Newton believed in miracles; he wasn’t too bad at science. So, once again: what line of reasoning has led you to this conclusion?

      “There is no evidence of anything ever being supernatural.”

      Again, this does not seem obvious. What would count as evidence for a supernatural event, in your opinion?

  7. apologianick Says:

    Could we also get a definition of “natural” and “supernatural”?

  8. Simplexion Says:

    For something to be classed as supernatural it would need to demonstrate that the laws of nature have been violated, to the exclusion of all possible natural explanations.
    This has never been done. I do not see how this could ever be done because it would have to defy the laws of nature.
    Now if you really want to understand the fact that the supernatural is completely improbable you should do some research. It shouldn’t be hard. I don’t think this is something that needs to be looked into further.

  9. apologianick Says:

    But this still does not define what natural and supernatural. it tells me supernatural things violate the laws of nature, whatever those would be, but it does not tell me what the things are themselves and how they differ from natural things, whatever those are.

  10. Simplexion Says:

    Supernatural = turning water to wine, rising from the dead, ascending to heaven, walking on water, raising other people from death, healing the sick (using nothing), multiplying matter i.e. fish and bread, mind reading, killing fig trees with words, etc…

    • Tim Says:

      Okay, that isn’t a definition, but we can work with examples. Now, what would count, in your judgment, as evidence that someone had (say) risen from the dead?

      I’m not asking what would count as conclusive evidence; I’m just wondering what you would consider to be some evidence.

  11. Nick Says:

    Those are examples and not a definition. It would be like defining dog as “poodle, beagle, pug, terrier, pit bull, etc.” They tell me what you consider to be a dog but not the definition by which you recognize the example.

  12. Simplexion Says:

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=define%3A+supernatural

    • J. P. Holding Says:

      Wow, what an answer. A Google search. Why not wave a white flag while you’re at it?

      Here’s a clue for you — the dichotomy between “natural” and “supernatural” is 100% contrived. What you call “supernatural” isn’t in the least against “science” and is a distinction that was wholly invented.

      You pick up a box — that doesn’t violate the law of gravity. It no more violates that law when God picks up that box. There’s no violation of “science” either way.

      Do yourself a favor — try learning from credible sources, rather than just accepting the latest fundy atheist fad arguments uncritically. Apparently when you were a Christian you were no more critical, and nothing has changed in that regard.

  13. Derek Says:

    “My personal problem with the historical Jesus is how often he is referred to as being supernatural.”

    Then your “biggest problem” is no problem at all, as Craig Keener’s recent work on Miracles demonstrates.

  14. Peter Grice Says:

    This seems to be new corroborating evidence predating the gospels: http://bit.ly/ABhnsq

    If you believe there was no Jesus of Nazareth, the education system’s failed you. Or worse.

  15. Simplexion Says:

    I don’t think fairy tales are fact. I think the education system was more successful with me than any person who follows a religion.
    That article does not in any way prove the existence of Jesus. It seems you never learnt how to critically think, maybe the education system has failed you. Oh wait… I am beginning to argue like you lot, using ad hominems really helps my argument.

  16. Peter Grice Says:

    If that is so, you must have been away the day they taught the difference between corroboration and proof…

  17. Simplexion Says:

    You put forward corroborating evidence and then say my disbelief of Jesus of Nazareth is the failing of the education system to teach me. That means that the corroborating evidence is essentially proof that I am wrong for this disbelief because if it isn’t proof then the education system couldn’t have possibly failed me.
    Also, after reading more about this discovery it loses a lot of its strength. Tabor is a bit of a laughing stock it seems, he also makes outrageous claims about that “fish”.

  18. Peter Grice Says:

    Here’s what you’ve missed. My link refers to news just published. Your education predates this. Therefore, in no way would I imply a link between the two.

    Instead, my second comment was a general observation, drawn from what was known about the matter long before today’s news. And not directed to you specifically. I hadn’t even read your comments.

    It is a truism: the education of anyone who believes the Christ Myth has somehow failed them.

  19. Simplexion Says:

    Yes… News just published of a finding from a couple years ago.

    No, it is not a truism. I do not believe with certainty that Jesus of the bible did not exist but I find it HIGHLY unlikely that he did, even as just an ordinary man.

    Treating someone, who finds the “Christ myth” as being very much possible, the same as conspiracy theorists doesn’t help your cause. It is an ad hominem.

    Anyway, Thank you for making me look into the historicity of Jesus more and strengthening my understanding that Jesus of the bible was unlikely to have been a living person.
    If you can counter the problem that contemporary writers at the time of Jesus failed to write a single word about him, especially ones who would have been very interested in him, then I will be on my way to change my mind.
    Peace. I’m done.

    • Tim Says:

      “If you can counter the problem that contemporary writers at the time of Jesus failed to write a single word about him, especially ones who would have been very interested in him, then I will be on my way to change my mind.”

      Ahh, there may be a cure for that.

      Herodotus and Thucydides never mention Rome. Neither does any other Greek historian of that era. The works of Thucydides appear to have gone unremarked by Xenophon and Aristotle, being first mentioned by Polybius some time in the second century B.C. — that is, more than 250 years after they were written. Pliny the Younger, who gives a vivid description of the eruption of Vesuvius, makes no mention of the destruction of the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii; nor does Suetonius, though he mentions the eruption. Josephus alone mentions Herod the Great’s imprisonment of all of the chief men of Judea in the Hippodrome with orders to kill them all in the hour of his death. John Milton and Jeremy Taylor were contemporaries, each with a voluminous literary output; neither mentions the other. The same is true of Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare. Addison never mentions Shakespeare — Shakespeare! — in his “Vision of Poets.” Ulysses Grant does not, in his two volumes of memoirs, mention the Emancipation Proclamation.

      Examples like this can be multiplied almost endlessly. If we are capable from learning any methodological lesson whatsoever from the study of history, it is that the argument from silence — that mainstay of destructive biblical criticism — is a bruised reed.

      The better educated among Christianity’s critics have long understood this point. For example, take the judgment of that urbane nineteenth century apostate, Ernest Renan, in The Apostles (New York: Carleton, 1875), p. 227:

      “As to the Greek and Latin writers, it is not surprising that they paid little attention to a movement which they could not comprehend, and which was going on within a narrow space foreign to them. Christianity was lost to their vision upon the dark background of Judaism. It was only a family quarrel amongst the subjects of a degraded nation; why trouble themselves about it? The two or three passages in which Tacitus and Suetonius mention the Christians show that the new sect, even if generally beyond the visual circle of full publicity, was, notwithstanding, a prominent fact, since we are enabled at intervals to catch a glimpse of it defining itself with considerable clearness of outline through the mist of public inattention.”

      As for the literature of the first century, the New Zealand classicist E. M. Blaiklock sums it up very well:

      “It is a sombre fact that practically everything written during the lifetime of Christ has perished. Parts of one unimportant historical work survive from the years of His ministry or their vicinity. The badly written history of Rome by Velleius Paterculus, a retired army officer of Tiberius turned amateur historian, was published in A.D. 30. The procuratorial records of Palestine were much less likely to be preserved. Two-thirds of Pilate’s name has recently been found in an inscription at Caesarea along with a reference in one word to a shrine of Tiberius — an oddly brief authentication of the procurator and his preoccupations. Jesus is authenticated in no other way, outside the gospels, save by Josephus and a sentence in a Roman historian. Such has been time’s destruction. The decade of the forties has left little, save that the pleasant fables of the Macedonian freedman, Phaedrus, were written during those years.

      “The same remark is almost true of the surviving literature of the fifties and sixties of the first century, when the first three gospels, and most of the letters of the New Testament, were being written. Bookends set a foot apart on this desk where I write would enclose the works from those significant years.” (E. M. Blaiklock, Man or Myth (Singapore: ANZEA, 1983), pp. 12-13.)

      • J. P. Holding Says:

        Hey, Dr, McGrew! I want to make a video for my YT channel using all that, okay?!? :D

      • Tim Says:

        JP,

        Sure. Email me if you want more — that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to arguments from silence.

      • Simplexion Says:

        Hi Tim,
        Aren’t you glad that J.P. pointed out that you have a doctorate?

        Anyway, thanks for the response. It is much better than Mr. Holding’s ad hominems and aggression.

        First, I would like to point out that we are talking about a person who was running around performing miracles and claims being thrown around that he was the son of God.

        Do any other historians mention Rome at the time or is it just Greek historians who ignore it?

        All the men you talk about were just authors. Why would you compare the fact they went unmentioned to the son of God not being mentioned? I understand your point being that there are many discrepancies in history about historical persons but it is just arguing that Jesus may have existed as an ordinary man. Are you willing to accept that Jesus was not the son of God?

        One question I have for you, because I am curious. Do you know of any other book with as much miracles and supernatural, as the New Testament contains, that is accepted as containing historical facts?

        I am well aware that Jesus may have existed (as an ordinary man) but I am very sceptical of that claim. I definitely do not accept that Jesus existed as the son of God and performed miracles, as miracles are complete nonsense.

      • Tim Says:

        “Hi Tim, Aren’t you glad that J.P. pointed out that you have a doctorate? “

        (Shrug.) It’s all one to me.

        “First, I would like to point out that we are talking about a person who was running around performing miracles and claims being thrown around that he was the son of God.”

        … in a fringe offshoot group rejected even by the Jews, who were themselves widely despised in the Roman empire in the first century. This wasn’t big news.

        “Do any other historians mention Rome at the time or is it just Greek historians who ignore it?”

        There are no other contemporary historians.

        “All the men you talk about were just authors. Why would you compare the fact they went unmentioned to the son of God not being mentioned?”

        Because the only people who thought he was the Son of God were Christians, and you’re asking about non-Christian sources.

        “I understand your point being that there are many discrepancies in history about historical persons but it is just arguing that Jesus may have existed as an ordinary man.”

        I don’t think I mentioned discrepancies here, so I am not sure what you mean. My understanding is that we are discussing the question of whether someone named Jesus who even broadly fits the non-miraculous parts of the Gospel descriptions (a Jewish teacher who gathered disciples, proclaimed the arrival of the kingdom of heaven, ran into trouble with the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was at least claimed by his followers to have appeared to them alive shortly thereafter) existed.

        “Are you willing to accept that Jesus was not the son of God?”

        I think the public historical evidence for the resurrection is excellent, and I think that vindicates His claim to be the Son of God. But even if the resurrection weren’t well supported, there would still be ample evidence for his existence.

        “One question I have for you, because I am curious. Do you know of any other book with as much miracles and supernatural, as the New Testament contains, that is accepted as containing historical facts?”

        Yes: the Old Testament.

        “I am well aware that Jesus may have existed (as an ordinary man) but I am very sceptical of that claim.”

        I think it would be a good thing for you to get over this skepticism. In my opinion, it is promulgated online only by people who have a very poor grasp of how history is done or who are in the grip of an overmastering ideology – or both.

        “I definitely do not accept that Jesus existed as the son of God and performed miracles, as miracles are complete nonsense.”

        I understand the claim. However, it does not seem to me to be the outcome of any compelling line of argument.

      • Simplexion Says:

        Tim, Do you think that your Christian beliefs could reduce your ability to analyse the historicity of Jesus critically?

        “Yes: the Old Testament.”
        Any books that have nothing to do with Abrahamic religions?

      • Tim Says:

        “Tim, Do you think that your Christian beliefs could reduce your ability to analyse the historicity of Jesus critically?”

        I don’t think they’re doing so, any more than you think your non-Christian beliefs are reducing your ability to analyze the historicity of Jesus critically. Can we both put amateur psychology aside now and talk about the actual public evidence?

        “Any books that have nothing to do with Abrahamic religions?”

        None that I’ve seen have credentials anywhere near as good. As far as historical evidence is concerned, they’re not even playing in the same league.

      • Simplexion Says:

        My atheism has no affect on how I analyse anything, in the same way that my aunicornism has no affect. However, your belief that the person of the subject we are talking about is the son of God and a cornerstone of your beliefs, will affect your analysis.

        Can you point me in the direction of some reading that can support your statement of the Bible’s credentials?

      • Tim Says:

        “My atheism has no affect on how I analyse anything …”

        As I said. Now we each know where the other thinks he stands as far as bias is concerned. So let’s move on to data.

        “Can you point me in the direction of some reading that can support your statement of the Bible’s credentials?”

        I’d love to! And to that end, I have a question.

        This is a special area of interest and study for me, and I have a vast amount of material on it — several thousand volumes pro and con. My temptation is to “dump the truck” in the face of a question like this. However, it could seem as though, in doing that, I’m trying to pull a debating trick, listing hundreds of thousands of pages of stuff when it’s unreasonable to think you would even start on such a massive reading list.

        So in all seriousness, how much reading you are actually interested in doing? A book? Two? I’ll tailor my suggestion to your candid answer, and I’ll try to tell you what you can reasonably expect to find in what I recommend.

      • Simplexion Says:

        I think a book from each side of the argument would be handy. Whatever ones you think are the most valid.

      • Tim Says:

        I’m prepared to recommend two books with contrasting opinions, but I want to be very clear about what I’m doing. I will recommend the best work that I disagree with. What that means, however, is that it’s not going to be a fringe book like something by Robert M. Price; it will be a more nearly mainstream work, and therefore you will find that it does not give much time to the Jesus myth position.

        I’m saying this up front so that you don’t cry “foul” after you see my recommendations. If you want me to recommend a book espousing the Jesus myth position, then I will do that instead, but I will have to do so under the explicit understanding that I don’t think that the arguments are even remotely plausible.

        Take your pick!

  20. Peter Grice Says:

    Yes, that’s how it works: finding => couple of years => popular news. Not sure why that’s relevant.

    Ad hominem is not rhetoric. It’s replacing argument with personal attack. The argument here is ably provided in the op’s piece. An implicit argument is the (legitimate) appeal to the (counter-biased) authority of Ehrman. Christ-deniers I can understand, as the case for that requires more deliberation. But Nazarene-deniers… those who think there was no man of influence here… those were certainly not there that day in history class. Not you of course! Just the revisionists I mean. Cheers…

  21. apologianick Says:

    Ah. The simpleton is a fine example of a google scholar. Asked to define a word and he sends me to a web search with Google. So I’m looking up Supernatural. Which season of the series do I watch to get your meaning of the term, or can you just limit it to one episode?

    Or maybe you could just tell me what you mean by the term. That could be easier. It would also require you to think for yourself so it might not be easier now that I think about it.

  22. J. P. Holding Says:

    Dr. McGrew: Thanks! I’ll stick with just that — YT audiences are notoriously not able to keep concentration for too long, and that should do the job! :D

  23. Derek Says:

    You have offered nothing. Do understand that? Nothing. You have raised objections that anyone barely familiar with ancient historiography, any historiography, knows are nonsense.

    Your two criteria listed this far have been:

    1) No (or at least, not many) stories relating a historical figure in “supernatural” terms (what-eva that means):

    “My personal problem with the historical Jesus is how often he is referred to as being supernatural. It is just way too often and it is complete nonsense to accept that he did ANY of those supernatural feats.”

    2) The figure must have one (two? three? ten?) contemporary figures who corroborate his/her existence:

    “If you can counter the problem that contemporary writers at the time of Jesus failed to write a single word about him, especially ones who would have been very interested in him, then I will be on my way to change my mind.”

    1) Already answered. Are you aware just how many figures in history have “supernatural” phenomena associated with their lives? This does nothing to affect their historicity in the opinion of professional historians. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.

    Like I said, as Keener has shown, even today eyewitnesses report what they believe to be nature and healing miracle associated with people we know exist right now. This does not mean their interpretation is correct (maybe they have been fooled, or where under considerable stress or something), but it proves that eyewitnesses report miracle accounts and truthfully believe they occurred. 

    Since your argument is the presence of “supernatural” feats in historical Jesus tradition renders it suspect since “that stuff don’t happen,” this shows you how wrong-headed that is. What about Socrates? Vespasian? Thomas Aquinas? John Wesley? Or any of the so-called healers who live right now?

    Why do you think Ehrman continues to think Jesus lived despite his non-Christian beliefs? Because this problem is, again, no problem at all.

    2) Another arbitrary criteria as someone else in these comments has already pointed out. Who needs to corroborate the corroborators? If Plutarch, Philo, Josephus and Tacitus all mentioned Jesus, you guys would say, “but those manuscripts are sooooo late and could have been tampered with by Christians! Besides, the evidence Philo or Plutarch lived is bad too! Show me photos of the guys and I will believe they existed to believe Jesus existed!” In fact, I could easily see mythers (in the event that there were many first and early second century authors who mentioned Jesus) assert that that evidence is suspect, because Jesus was such a small fry there would be no way all those authors would mention him!

    You need to pull your nose out of Carrier and stop throwing around bad arguments you haven’t given ANY critical thought to.

    “Treating someone, who finds the “Christ myth” as being very much possible, the same as conspiracy theorists doesn’t help your cause. It is an ad hominem.”

    I afford the same courtesy to holocaust hoaxers (who are making strange bedfellows of Christ mythers of late) and 9/11 truthers. All three are nuts in my book.

    “Anyway, Thank you for making me look into the historicity of Jesus more and strengthening my understanding that Jesus of the bible was unlikely to have been a living person.”

    If you truly see nothing in all these comments that challenges your belief in Jesus’ likely non-existence then I thank God you have nothing to do with professional historiography. “Lincoln didn’t exist either! There’s no way someone who looks that fake on a five dollar bill really lived!”

    (cuckoo clock in background)

  24. apologianick Says:

    So the simpleton is saying we should not believe Jesus existed because he claimed to do miracles and be the Son of God.

    Now because of these claims coming from some preacher from Nazarene supposedly, he doesn’t seem to think that we should take them seriously. They’d be prima facie nonsense.

    However, he seems to think it’s valid to ask why didn’t anyone else take them seriously? Surely Rome should have seriously looked into the claim of a preacher from a backwater society doing miracles and claiming to be the Son of God.

    Or maybe Rome would do what the simpleton is doing, just laugh it off.

    So in other words, he’s complaining that about other authors having the exact same attitude that he does and yet complaining that they should have had the opposite attitude.

  25. apologianick Says:

    Ah yes. Well someone who claims Jesus never even existed I have a hard time taking seriously, but I see you base taking someone seriously not on their arguments but how you feel about yourself.

    • Simplexion Says:

      Wrong. My claim is that is it unlikely that Jesus never existed. I am not claiming that he definitely did not exist. Although, I am claiming that he definitely did not exist as a miracle working son of God that rose from the dead.

      • Simplexion Says:

        ever not never.

      • J. P. Holding Says:

        Which amounts to an admission that you’re ill-equipped and in over your head as the reason why you won’t be more definitive.

        Your frequent appeals to things like bias show that you’re merely a dabbler who regurgitates what you read in popular sources.

  26. Derek Says:

    “Wrong. My claim is that is it unlikely that Jesus never existed.”

    Good. It is unlikely he never existed. Far more probable, in light of actual evidence, that he did.

    You persist in this belief in spite of good evidence to the contrary. Which means you are delusional, ignorant, or both.

  27. Help me, Jebus! « Simplexional Says:

    [...] I asked a Dr. Tim McGrew (this might be him) whether he knew of any other book with as many miracles and supernatural, as the New Testament contains, that is accepted as containing historical facts? His response was the Old Testament. I asked whether there was any other book that was not a one about the Abrahamic religions and his response was that he didn’t know of any. You can read through the comments yourself by clicking this link. [...]

  28. apologianick Says:

    I have a hard time thinking Simpleton could examine the evidence accurately. After all, he has an anti-theistic bias that is influencing his looking at the data.

    Yep boys and girls. This is the way the bias argument works. Instead of looking at the data one puts forward, one looks at the person instead.

    Argue the data. Not the person.

    • Simplexion Says:

      You say “argue the data. Not the person,” yet you constantly refer to me as Simpleton. Do you not see how that goes against that statement?

      I do not have an anti-theistic bias. I lack belief in gods (I find no reason to accept or outright deny the existence of gods), and I am only anti-religious in that I dislike having religious/magical agendas pushed into politics. This has no affect on how I treat the information in regards to the existence of Jesus as a man.

      It does make me biased in how I treat the information in regards to Jesus existing as a miracle working, son of god. I choose not to discuss this aspect or the historical “evidence” that Jesus was raised from the dead; as it is completely moronic to even add these to an historical argument.

  29. Derek Says:

    “As stated by David in that video, a big problem is the lack of documentation by people who would have been very interested in writing about Jesus. There were authors that had a massive interest in everything to do about Jesus at the time of his “apparent” life time, yet other works of theirs survived but absolutely nothing to do with Jesus did. Why?”

    Two factors. 1) Very little has survived time. 2) You need to list who these people are individually and why it is a big problem they failed to mention Christ individually. For example, why do historians believe Gamiliel, Hanina ben Dosa, Shammai, Hillel, and Honi all lived when there is so little said about them from near-contemporary sources? Why doesn’t Philo mention all of them? If Plutarch is expected to mention Jesus, why not these guys too? This goes for all the writers anyone thinks should have mentioned Jesus. Why should we expect each one to mention Jesus? Where should each one have been expected to mention Jesus? This is your burden.

    Responding that if Jesus were truly God, and truly working miracles, he would have been mentioned everywhere is nonsensical. The first objection would only fit if the NT demanded that Jesus’ miracles were meant to bring attention from Greece, Rome etc. They were not. Again, lots of people claimed to possess magical or God-given powers. The NT does not mention them because early Christians did not believe or care about them. So it was the same for Jesus from the perspective of non-Christians. The second also fails. Turning water into wine or multiplying bread wouldn’t have been that impressive to a lot of people beside the actual followers of Christ. Many would have simply denied he’d actually done these things, as you are doing right now. These events do not stack up with things historians and other writers cared about, like wars, and diseases, and politics.

    If you have the inclination to relate all of these old canards, you could at least try to address people who have responded to them already:

    http://www.tektonics.org/qt/remslist.html

    The very simple answer is that these writers wrote about what they cared about. If someone asserts Valerius Flaccus should have mentioned Jesus, they need to explain why he should have done so in his work on Jason.

    “A claim made by many people, when stating to them that Jesus most likely did not exist, is that there is as much evidence for Alexander the Great (or other historical persons) existing as Jesus. That is simply not true. There might be similar amounts of documentation, but there is archaeological evidence from his lifetime that go much further to confirm his existence than anything to do with Jesus.”

    There is more archaeological evidence for the guy who conquered everything from Macedonia to the borders of India then there is for an itinerant Jewish preacher who had a public ministry that last probably three years!? No way!? The historical claims differ in terms of the level and quality of evidence required for each one. If it was being claimed that Jesus did what Alexander did, then there would be a disturbing lack of evidence for his life. Those are not the claims though. The evidence that Jesus lived, quantity and quality, is more than enough to prove he lived as a man in Palestine in the first century.

    “I also have a big problem with using the New Testament as evidence. There is no way an historian would use the Alexander romance as evidence except in minor ways. From my understanding there is not any other person, who is accepted as existing historically, that has as much supernatural happenings as surrounds the story of Jesus in the Bible.”

    Your understanding is incorrect. Badly incorrect. News flash: the vast majority of the people of the world for the vast majority of human history have not shared your small-minded, anti-supernatural/suprahuman/paranormal account of reality. Supernatural claims (though not always endorsed by the one recording them) are peppered in varying degrees throughout works from the ancient (to modern) Near East, Israel, Greece, Rome, India, etc. Even though many historians have operated under the unwarranted and un-argued assumption that all real historical events must be naturalistic ones, this has not caused them to condemn, as myth, any account which contains miracle/supernatural reports or even ones with many miracle/supernatural reports. Hanina, Honi, and Paul of Tarsus all have miracles associated with them from the ancient Palestinian context. Paul is known only from the NT. But historians have no problem with these guys existing. From our own modern context, Simon Kimbangu, William Wade Harris, and the mad monk Rasputin of Russia all had significant amounts of miracle stories associated with their lives. That does not mean they did not exist. Your requirement here does not make sense. The New Testament is more than useful for gleaning info about Jesus, even if you dogmatically, without any critical thought, reject (out of hand) miracle reports.

    “Would you believe Alexander the Great actually existed if the majority of stories and historical documents about him contained all sorts of supernatural occurrences? No? Then why believe that Jesus actually existed as a man?””

    I would if the evidence for his existence is the same as it is right now. Are you saying that you would reject his existence; despite the overwhelming amount that exists testifying that he did what history says he did, just because of your bias against the supernatural/miraculous? You’re just not critical enough to engage these arguments.

    “I asked a Dr. Tim McGrew (this might be him) whether he knew of any other book with as many miracles and supernatural, as the New Testament contains, that is accepted as containing historical facts? His response was the Old Testament.”

    And that is true. Historians find lots of confirmed historical events in the OT even if they hold to naturalistic presuppositions.

    “I asked whether there was any other book that was not a one about the Abrahamic religions and his response was that he didn’t know of any. You can read through the comments yourself by clicking this link.”

    I’m not sure why he said that, but any number of literary works from the ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman contexts contains various levels of miracle/supernatural reports while also reporting information historians are confident in. Off the top of my head, Josephus is one very close to the time of the NT’s development. He repeats a lot of the OT miracle material and also reports on miracle-workers in and around the first century. This does nothing to cast doubt on the whole of his reporting though. You need to familiarize yourself with the relevant literature before you go shooting your mouth off next time.

    “I also have a big problem with McGrew; in the fact that he holds strong Christian beliefs. For him to evaluate the evidence critically would be very difficult (as with many other historians with strong religious beliefs).”

    We all have biases. Are you seriously denying you do not? No big wonder why you so easily shrug off the opinion of actual, trained historians. You effectively eliminate the other side of the debate, and then are amazed that no one agrees with you. The bias that does not allow for critical thought is clearly your own here.

    “Even in the discussion I had with him he said, “I think the public historical evidence for the resurrection is excellent, and I think that vindicates His claim to be the Son of God.” Even if there is public historical evidence for the resurrection of any man, why would you believe it? It is completely against reason; no person has or ever will rise from the dead after 3 days. Maybe in the future with modern medicine we might be able to achieve that feat but other than that it is complete nonsense.”

    I find it amusing that you can’t wrap your head around the simple assertion that a man existed in history (not a very controversial assertion), and yet feel so confident that your extremely limited, narrow-minded, personal experience in your particularly small part of this great world allows you to declare that one such and such has occurred whilst another such and such has not throughout the entirety of human history all around the world. To me, that is not only a bias, that’s an irrational superiority complex.

    “There is also an interesting paragraph on the Wikipedia article for the Christ myth theory that fits with what I am saying:”

    Wikipedia? Irish what? Again, its no wonder you can’t bring yourself to agree with real historians over and against Fitzgerald and…some dude on…wiki…

    “I know this is an argument that can’t be won either way, unless they find Jesus’ diary. There is no way to say without a doubt that Jesus of the Bible never existed, but I will say that it is highly unlikely that he did. If he did exist, he definitely did not perform any miracles or rise from the dead.”

    Until someone takes me back in time to the 1860’s, I suspend belief in Abraham Lincoln.

  30. Derek Says:

    The above is from this dude’s linked blog post.

  31. Walt Says:

    I came to this post as an interested atheist, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by all of the ridicule going around. This would be a seriously interesting discussion if you all would respect one another. You do not at all need to respect each other’s ideas, but you must not intentionally ridicule the people you’re debating.

  32. apologianick Says:

    @Walt. To endorse the Christ-myth in the face of strong strong evidence to the contrary even atheist NT scholars would have no problem granting and meanwhile telling those who are more well-read on the topic that they are incorrect because they have a Christian bias is not respectful.

    Some people are straight-forward. Others hide behind the image of respectability and passively-aggressively go after their opponents.

    Around here, people are given what they give. Respect is not a guarantee. It is earned.

  33. Walt Says:

    @apologianick. “To endorse the Christ-myth in the face of strong strong evidence to the contrary even atheist NT scholars would have no problem granting and meanwhile telling those who are more well-read on the topic that they are incorrect because they have a Christian bias is not respectful.”

    –Well said. I agree that there’s no reason to consider someone’s motivation when debating an argument.

    “Some people are straight-forward. Others hide behind the image of respectability and passively-aggressively go after their opponents.”

    –See above

    “Around here, people are given what they give. Respect is not a guarantee. It is earned.”

    –Well I’ve tried to be respectful so far, so I hope that I will continue to receive the same. I look forward to continued discussion.

  34. apologianick Says:

    Oh I do think we should consider someone’s motivation. If I think someone really cares about truth, I’m willing to dialogue with them. If I think they are already concluded that anyone is an idiot because they are a Christian, then as one who has some authority in the Christian community, well that’s why a shepherd carries a rod. There are wolves out there.

    If you’re an honest and truth-seeking skeptic who can dialogue, I have no problem.

    • Simplexion Says:

      I really care about the truth. I don’t think all Christians are idiots because they are Christian. However, I do think all Christians are deluded because of their Christian beliefs. The usual reason for these delusions is they were thrust upon them by authoritative figures (parents) from a young age.
      To think someone is an idiot for having beliefs that were held by their parents and passed on, is a bit… idiotic. I will be more inclined to think someone is an idiot if they fall into the area of the minority that choose to follow a religion, of their own accord, at an age of reason with no authoritative persuasion.

  35. apologianick Says:

    Simpleton: You say “argue the data. Not the person,” yet you constantly refer to me as Simpleton. Do you not see how that goes against that statement?

    Reply: Nope. Doesn’t go against it at all because you’re not arguing data. You’re not familiar with the data. Hence, you’re being a wolf.

    Simpleton: I do not have an anti-theistic bias. I lack belief in gods (I find no reason to accept or outright deny the existence of gods),

    Reply: Oh please. Another case of “Atheism is just lacking God belief.” Spare me. By that standard then, supposing God exists, then it could be that atheism and both theism are true since theism is a knowledge claim that says God exists and atheism just says “I lack belief.” God could exist and atheism could be true in that people lack belief. Congratulations. By your definition two contradictory propositions can both be true.

    Sorry. Atheism is a positive assertion that God does not exist. It is not a statement of personal psychology.

    Simpleton: and I am only anti-religious in that I dislike having religious/magical agendas pushed into politics.

    Reply: Your equation of religion with magic shows what kind of mindset I’m dealing with and as I said, you get what you came with. I take it you have no problem with anti-religion in politics whatsoever.

    SImpleton: This has no affect on how I treat the information in regards to the existence of Jesus as a man.

    Reply: Nonsense. If you knew anything about historical Jesus studies or NT scholarship or historiography, you’d know your claim is bogus and your criteria is bogus, but you only have that criteria to feed an anti-theistic bent.

    Simpleton: It does make me biased in how I treat the information in regards to Jesus existing as a miracle working, son of god. I choose not to discuss this aspect or the historical “evidence” that Jesus was raised from the dead; as it is completely moronic to even add these to an historical argument.

    Reply: And here we have it. He complains about me calling him a simpleton, but it is okay to say your opponents have beliefs that are completely moronic and lack common sense.

    Dialogue is sadly impossible with the willfully ignorant.

  36. Walt Says:

    @apologianick – I’m not a particularly bad speller, but I’m new to the forum and find that I actually have to look up the spelling of your name, usually copying and pasting, to get it right. I actually do make an effort to spell your name as you represent it. I don’t speak for anyone else here, but I would appreciate your effort to give Simplexion the same respect.

    Regarding your last reply to me, it does no one any good at all to argue between the lines in a written debate. It doesn’t seem to me that either Simplexion or myself is being passive aggressive or dishonest, and I wouldn’t presume that your motivation is anything other than what you write. All I can do is explain to you that I actually am interested in discussing this blog post and treat you with respect. If that is not enough to earn your respect, then I’ll bow out and you won’t need to ward me away with any rhetorical rod.

  37. Derek Says:

    Walt,

    You should understand several things here. First, Simplexion made it clear in his second comment he doesn’t care about dialogue, rational or other wise:

    “It is just way too often and it is complete nonsense to accept that he did ANY of those supernatural feats.”

    So, what we believe is “nonsense”, but we are not allowed to say anything like that to him?

    Second, the Christ-myth offends not one person in here because of their Christian beliefs. If all it took to scare me (or Nick, or JP) away from Christianity was empty rhetoric, Dawkins and his various tantrums would be more the sufficient. 

    I am offended by the Christ myth for the same reason a non-Jewish scholar of WWII is offended by holocaust hoaxer literature: it is ridiculous for anyone to believe, in light of the evidence, that Jesus (as a human) did not exist. It is even more annoying when he shows he has given little to no critical thought to the arguments, preferring instead to parrot the various claptrap he’s heard here or there.

    You in the other hand have been pretty cool, I think.

    • Simplexion Says:

      Wait… what? You are comparing the Christ myth to Holocaust denial? I’m sorry… I didn’t realise there was exceptional amounts of evidence to show that Jesus existed and in denying it I am being ludicrous.
      Again, I will repeat this. It is possible that a man named Jesus existed and that the Bible was written in regards to him. I don’t see how anyone can claim with absolute certainty that he did exist though and that is what you are doing.
      If he did actually exist he most certainly did not perform miracles or become zombie Jesus, as these things are impossible. You can argue, until you are blue in the face, that he did perform these miracles and I will giggle to myself. You may however argue that he did exist as a man and I will take your arguments seriously and look at the evidence you put forth.

  38. Simplexion Says:

    Atheism is a positive assertion that God does not exist. It is not a statement of personal psychology.

    Yeah, I know. All those atheist babies and animals, that have absolutely no clue about what a god is, are making positive assertions.

    Your equation of religion with magic shows what kind of mindset I’m dealing with and as I said, you get what you came with. I take it you have no problem with anti-religion in politics whatsoever.

    Well, in magic shows they aren’t actually claiming that their tricks are anything more than illusions. So, I guess you are right because the people actually believe the magic performed in religions with absolutely no evidence.
    I definitely do have a problem with anti-religion in politics. There should be no state that forces people into particular beliefs.

    beliefs that are completely moronic and lack common sense.

    Your beliefs are moronic and do lack common sense. You accept the existence of something with absolutely no evidence. That goes against common sense and rational thought.

  39. Walt Says:

    Derek,
    That’s fair – it seems that Simplexion is arguing against the supernatural attributes of Jesus rather than that the man existed. It seems that the point of the blog post has been uncontested. I’ve never actually heard or read anyone or anything that claims Jesus the person never existed, but I don’t doubt for a second that people still make this case. I guess there will always be flat earthers, holocaust deniers, etc.

    There are a few points I’d like to discuss, and I wonder if there’s a more relevant thread for them. I’d like to talk about natural v. supernatural as well as where historical fact becomes faith in terms of Jesus the man versus Jesus the Christ…for example I’ve read that his resurrection is widely supported, but were his healings? Feeding huge numbers of people? It seems like these are two separate discussions – let me know where I can start.

    Walt

  40. Derek Says:

    On the one hand:

    “I really care about the truth. I don’t think all Christians are idiots because they are Christian.”

    Yet on the other:

    “Your beliefs are moronic and do lack common sense.”

    So, our beliefs are moronic, but we’re not all idiots…You just can’t avoid saying stupid stuff can ya?

    • Simplexion Says:

      Did you just ignore most of the comment I made?

      The usual reason for these delusions is they were thrust upon them by authoritative figures (parents) from a young age.

      Being brainwashed by your parents and other authoritative figures does not make you an idiot. The beliefs that you have been told are fact are very much moronic. Does that make you a moron? No. It makes your human to accept your parents guidance without question. Not an idiot.

      • Tim Says:

        Simplexion,

        I may have missed a reply to my earlier question somewhere up above; the thread is getting long pretty quickly, so have pity on me if I’ve missed it and let me know whether you want a recommendation of

        (a) what I would consider to be a fairly decent book on the historical Jesus that I nevertheless disagree with, or

        (b) the best-of-a-bad-lot of the Christ myth books.

        *****

        And now, for something completely different …

        There’s a lot of fur flying here, and I’m loath to get into that, but I do want to comment on one bit:

        “Wait… what? You are comparing the Christ myth to Holocaust denial? I’m sorry… I didn’t realise there was exceptional amounts of evidence to show that Jesus existed and in denying it I am being ludicrous.”

        This is hard to say gently, and I have no desire to offend you, but yes, that’s how it looks to us — or worse, something like devout belief in a flat earth. You see, as we are looking at it, we have reason and public evidence heavily on our side, and you are the one who hasn’t looked into the matter very deeply and therefore don’t know what you’re talking about.

        It would be natural enough for you to look at it the opposite way. And I am not offended by that fact. But you won’t get anywhere by trying to accuse the Christians in this discussion of “just having faith” and “believing without evidence.” That might actually be true in some other online contexts, but not here. Collectively, we have probably put in tens of thousands of hours studying this subject into the ground. You have stumbled upon an enclave of Christian rationalists.

      • Simplexion Says:

        What is the evidence for the existence of Jesus of the Bible? Is it photographic? Archaeological? Or just text from old books?
        I will state this: I am more inclined to accept the existence of a man like Alexander the Great based on only old books than I am for Jesus, the son of God. This is only because the claims made surrounding Alexander are human as opposed to Jesus which are superhuman.
        If Jesus isn’t the son of God, what is the importance of proving his existence? He didn’t really do anything to change the path of history. The people that wrote the stories about him did that and then the fools that believed those stories as fact.

        And again… to compare denial of the existence of a man from thousands of years ago, with only literature as evidence, and denial of the holocaust which happened fairly recently and has photographic evidence of, among other evidence is completely bizarre.
        To deny vast amounts of evidence that require very little understanding of said evidence to understand it happened in the past is ludicrous. To deny loose evidence that require a large amount of knowledge of all the literature mentioning the subject is fairly standard.

        Is it wrong of me to think Jesus most likely never existed? Probably. I just can’t get through the severely muddied waters of the existence of the magical Jesus. it’s too difficult to accept that he existed without some better evidence than the mess that is the Bible.

        Oh… and just recommend me the best 2 books you think support your argument. I will ignore the Jesus myth books.

      • Tim Says:

        “If Jesus isn’t the son of God, what is the importance of proving his existence? He didn’t really do anything to change the path of history.”

        Hmm … I’m trying to think of any person who has done more to change the path of history, ever. No one is coming to mind.

        “[J]ust recommend me the best 2 books you think support your argument.”

        Okay! Out of many good choices, I’ll pick:

        1. Paul Rhodes Eddy and Greg Boyd, The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007)

        Link

        2. N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003)

        Link

      • Simplexion Says:

        I’m enjoying having my comments taken out of context, when they are sitting directly above where they are being taken out of context.

  41. Derek Says:

    Walt,

    “That’s fair – it seems that Simplexion is arguing against the supernatural attributes of Jesus rather than that the man existed.”

    No. That’s what I’ve been trying to pound through his thick head. Here’s what he said:

    “My personal problem with the historical Jesus is how often he is referred to as being supernatural. It is just way too often and it is complete nonsense to accept that he did ANY of those supernatural feats.”

    and…

    “Anyway, Thank you for making me look into the historicity of Jesus more and strengthening my understanding that Jesus of the bible was unlikely to have been a living person.”

    So, his argument is that because Jesus is recorded as having worked miracles, he is UNLIKELY to have existed. I have pointed out that this does not make any sense. Hundreds of people in ancient history, even some alive today, lived and live (as historians agree) even though they were reported to have worked miracles. Without even needing to agree as to whether miracles did or did not happen, you and I can agree this argument is a really bad oversimplification. Really bad. Really.

    Also, when speaking to people trained in historical inquiry, like myself, the language of probability goes a long way. To say that it is very likely that Jesus did not exist requires some good evidence, just like saying it is likely he did requires good evidence.

    When confronted with counter arguments, he decided to shift gears and assert, in his blog post and comments, that the reeeeal problem is historians and scholars like McGrew cannot be trusted to do critical work, because they are also Christians!

    Problem is, the vast majority of non-Christian historians and scholars also agree the Christ myth is crap. Like Carrier is trying to do with his Proving History book, all he is trying to do is change the rules of the game cause he doesn’t like that his side is losing, losing bad.

    But this is a good forum to discuss the things you mentioned. The short answer is yes, many critical scholars believe there is good evidence Jesus was regarded as a miracle worker very early. Josephus, Trypho (a early to mid second century Jewish opponent of the Christian apologist Justin) and other relate that Jesus did things that were not normal. The opponents typically assert that he was a magician or powered by Satan, but they agree with the miracle tradition. They do not contest it. Whether you can believe he did them or not hangs on the philosophical questions that ask if miracles are possible, but historically speaking, the evidence is strong. 

    Working from just this historical angle tells us only so much though. Maybe Jesus was a good trickster (scholars in the early 19th century tried to explain how he did some of them naturalistically, like asserting that he had his disciples hide all the bread and fish and then pretend to multiply them), or maybe the first Christians just saw what they wanted to see. But if you check out Craig Keener’s most recent two volume work on miracles, you’ll see that he shows there is no reason to deny the first disciples truly believed he performed healing miracles and exorcisms, as many of these reports continue to this day.

  42. apologianick Says:

    You seem respectable so far so let us see what happens.

  43. Derek Says:

    “Wait… what? You are comparing the Christ myth to Holocaust denial? I’m sorry… I didn’t realise there was exceptional amounts of evidence to show that Jesus existed and in denying it I am being ludicrous.”

    The fact you did not recognize this is not my problem. It is yet further evidence that you do not know enough to comment on this issue with any level of critical understanding. This is, indeed, how scholars of ancient history view the Christ-myth.

    “Again, I will repeat this. It is possible that a man named Jesus existed and that the Bible was written in regards to him. I don’t see how anyone can claim with absolute certainty that he did exist though and that is what you are doing.”


    Quoting your own words to you is a pain, I wish you were smart enough to simply keep this all straight yourself:

    “Anyway, Thank you for making me look into the historicity of Jesus more and strengthening my understanding that Jesus of the bible was unlikely to have been a living person.”

    Like I said to Walt. You are speaking to people trained in historiography. The language of probability (likely, unlikely) weighs heavy. This statement told me that you are all but convinced Jesus did not exist. It is also not my problem that you cannot, apparently, make you position clear. BTW, for an atheist, “the Bible” was not “written in regards to Jesus,” just the NT.

    “If he did actually exist he most certainly did not perform miracles or become zombie Jesus, as these things are impossible.”

    This was not your initial argument. Your initial argument was that the fact Jesus was said to have done so many miracles counts against his historicity. You can’t even keep up with yourself.

    “You can argue, until you are blue in the face, that he did perform these miracles and I will giggle to myself.”

    I’ll bet you do that a lot. There isn’t much going on in between those ears of yours to keep you otherwise occupied. You can reject, with no argument, that miracles do not happen until you croak. I do not care. I pay attention to people who actually present evidence and arguments, not dogmatic presuppositions.

    “You may however argue that he did exist as a man and I will take your arguments seriously and look at the evidence you put forth.”

    What I’ve been doing dude. Haven’t even commented on whether or not I believe he did them.

    “Did you just ignore most of the comment I made?”
    I ignored the fact that you explained away the reasons for belief of an entire group of people with a ridiculous and offensive generalization. Like me saying, oh, I don’t know, all atheists are angry because they had horrible, sexually abusive relationships with their fathers. As such, the project that anger to God.
    “Being brainwashed by your parents and other authoritative figures does not make you an idiot. The beliefs that you have been told are fact are very much moronic. Does that make you a moron? No. It makes your human to accept your parents guidance without question. Not an idiot.”

    Interesting you assume my parents were both Christians. It seems that there is no end to the things you will assume without any evidence. As far as the “moronic beliefs but not morons” argument goes, only someone with your reasoning abilities can get that I guess. But even if your nonsense made…sense…the conclusion doesn’t logically follow from the premise, which is a form of the genetic fallacy. My parents taught me not to hit mouthy idiots either. They also taught me to critically weigh everything I was told was fact. Once again, you just have onhelluva superiority complex.

    • Simplexion Says:

      So… one of your parents is Christian? Any Christian here who doesn’t have at least one Christian parent, please speak up.
      It is a generalisation that fits pretty damn well. It would be the majority of the religious who inherited their beliefs from their parents. A very small minority come to a religion through their own reasoning.

      • J. P. Holding Says:

        That would be me, little fellow. Not one Christian parent or grandparent. Only Christian in the family was a nutty uncle who hit his kids (and even me once), acted bipolar, and thought evangelism was best performed using TURN OR BURN T-shirts. I grew up thinking Christianity was lunacy like his.

        I affirm all that has been told you by Tim and Derek. Now you have no excuse for your childish little rants about bias.

        The simple fact is that you have a severe case of the Dunning effect when it comes to this topic.

      • Simplexion Says:

        Did you have parents that followed an Abrahamic religion?
        Also, the only positive claims I am making are in regards to miracles and paranormal. You lot are making positive claims that Jesus definitely existed and most likely was the son of your god. Therefore, how do I have a severe case of the Dunning effect when I am making no positive claim about the existence of Jesus. I claim he may have existed as a man but I feel it is highly unlikely.

  44. J. P. Holding Says:

    No, Simpleton. They were members of an obscure cult. Now don’t go moving the goalposts because your original claim got beaten into pulp. I can see the little wheels turning in that concrete head of yours, and eventually you’ll add so many qualifications that you’ll make it so that you can conveniently ignore anything said by anyone who isn’t an atheist, has been one for at least 10 years, doesn’t live within 100 miles of a Christian, had atheists in their family back to 15 generations, and doesn’t get proper dental care.

    The Dunning Effect is manifest in that you are utterly unaware of how ignorant you are. You are arguing here with people trained in historiography, including one with a doctorate, as though you actually have anything legitimate to say to them. You don’t. You have no training in that field; all you have is what you have read second or third hand from equally untrained and ignorant atheist sources.

    Now shut up with the childish “dah, what were your parents” canards. It’s nothing but your genetic fallacy convenience and has zero to do with the arguments.

    • Simplexion Says:

      I will start with a quote from Bliss of Bliss n Eso, “I heard you don’t have to wear a suit to argue the truth.”
      I was also presented with this blog just after I read your comment and feel it applies to this;

      You are arguing here with people trained in historiography, including one with a doctorate, as though you actually have anything legitimate to say to them.

      ..and on that, here is an argument against you directly on your “obscure quote” defense because, “Who would join an obscure cult?
      He is an historian and he has a doctorate… should you argue against him? He also has much less of a bias, considering he doesn’t believe the main part of the fairy tale of Jesus as being the son of God as fact. It is very hard to take an historian with a doctorate in philosophy seriously when they believe the person, they are studying, was raised from the dead after 3 days; 2000 years ago. It is a very very heavy bias and a massive problem with research into the historicity of Jesus.
      I did not use my argument of authoritative passing on of religion as an argument against your evidence of Jesus. However, it is a known fact that most people who are religious have the same religion as their parents.

      You have no training in that field

      Although I have no training per se, in the field; I have about 7 years of Sunday school and reading of the Bible. I have Christian parents… well my Dad doesn’t identify as Christian anymore but my Mum still goes to Church every Sunday.
      I am more ignorant, than a lot of you, about the historicity of Jesus but the arguments against his existence seem much more plausible than the arguments for.
      One of the biggest problems with Christians arguing for the existence of Jesus is that they have to argue that side. If they argue that he didn’t exist they have no good reason to be a Christian anymore. This is a HUGE problem.

      • J. P. Holding Says:

        @Simpleton:

        >>>He is an historian and he has a doctorate… should you argue against him?

        Yes. His doctorate is so new is still squeaks when he turns around; and he has drawn the scorn of numerous far more experienced people with doctorates, including other atheists like R. Joseph Hoffman. It might be a good idea for you to regard his work critically, rather than giving him the position of Jesus Christ in your life.

        >>>>He also has much less of a bias, considering he doesn’t believe the main part of the fairy tale of Jesus as being the son of God as fact.

        And as dumb as you are, you don’t see that as a bias. :D

        >>>Although I have no training per se, in the field; I have about 7 years of Sunday school and reading of the Bible.

        How utterly laughable that you think this means diddy-squat in terms of being able to authoritatively comment on these matters.

        >>>I am more ignorant, than a lot of you, about the historicity of Jesus

        Stopping you there tells the whole story. You are utterly unqualified to judge the plausibility of any arguments in this field.

      • Simplexion Says:

        …and you are utterly unable to discuss something without throwing around insults. Your debating skills are terrible and you just come across as an absolute douchebag.
        Your arguments are challenged with citations and statistics and you happily ignore someones credentials because they are fairly green. You tell me to look at things critically but expect me to accept ludicrous claims made by you and cast, meanwhile insulting everyone in sundry.
        You need to start behaving more like your fictional friend, Jesus. Because you may be Christian but you are far from Christ. I will converse with anyone else here but you can keep your worthless insults to yourself.

  45. Walt Says:

    @JP
    No, Simpleton.

    —This incessant re-naming of Simplexion reminds me of my dad. He used to call Dr. Haygood, the Christian marriage counselor that worked with him and my mom until they got divorced, Dr. Nogood. I think ridicule is a miserable preface for your comments.

    They were members of an obscure cult. Now don’t go moving the goalposts because your original claim got beaten into pulp. I can see the little wheels turning in that concrete head of yours

    —You were just starting to make an excellent argument, and they you inserted an absurd metaphor. The truth is, you cannot see at all what is in Simplexion’s head, but you can get some reasonable clues by looking at a neurology textbook. Still, you really have no way of knowing.

    , and eventually you’ll add so many qualifications

    —You started to pick back up on that good argument…

    that you’ll make it so that you can conveniently ignore anything said by anyone who isn’t an atheist, has been one for at least 10 years, doesn’t live within 100 miles of a Christian, had atheists in their family back to 15 generations, and doesn’t get proper dental care.

    —And then you interrupt it with this. What does this even mean, dare I ask? Do you mean to say that Simplexion will conveniently ignore anyone who doesn’t get proper dental care?

    The Dunning Effect is manifest

    —On the verge of a compelling argument…

    in that you are utterly unaware of how ignorant you are. You are arguing here with people trained in historiography, including one with a doctorate, as though you actually have anything legitimate to say to them. You don’t. You have no training in that field; all you have is what you have read second or third hand from equally untrained and ignorant atheist sources.

    —And then you undermine your appeal to authority with an attempt to completely shut Simplexion out of this elite conversation.

    Now shut up with the childish “dah, what were your parents” canards.

    —My experience is that if you actually want someone to shut up, telling someone to shut up is the least effective strategy.

    It’s nothing but your genetic fallacy convenience and has zero to do with the arguments.

    —Something I agree with.

    • J. P. Holding Says:

      @Wilt:

      >>>I think ridicule is a miserable preface for your comments.

      I think it’s a great preface, and so do many others. Your opinion is noted, and discarded as merely subjective and ill-informed.

      >>>> The truth is, you cannot see at all what is in Simplexion’s head

      Yes I can. Fundy atheists like him are a dime a dozen, and I’ve been dealing with them for 15+ years.

      >>>And then you interrupt it with this. What does this even mean, dare I ask? Do you mean to say that Simplexion will conveniently ignore anyone who doesn’t get proper dental care?

      You might want to get some treatment for that humor impairment. The art of hyperbole apparently escapes you.

      >>>nd then you undermine your appeal to authority with an attempt to completely shut Simplexion out of this elite conversation.

      Don’t be silly. One of his arrogance and ignorance will never shut up. That’s not the point at all.

      >>>My experience is that if you actually want someone to shut up, telling someone to shut up is the least effective strategy.

      Precisely. You don’t get it. ;)

      • Simplexion Says:

        Yeah, Wilt. You don’t get his wonderfully brilliant humour or something. Just remember, if you disagree with Mr. Holding you don’t get it. It also means you are arrogant, ignorant, dumb, and other words to attack your person with no backing.
        Now, remember kids; it is ignorant to argue the existence of a man that lived 2000 years ago but reasonable to think it is historically accurate that he not only existed but was raised from the dead and is the son of a god. The latter is definitely the least bat shit crazy of the 2.

      • Wilt Says:

        @JP
        >>>I think ridicule is a miserable preface for your comments.

        I think it’s a great preface, and so do many others. Your opinion is noted, and discarded as merely subjective and ill-informed.

        —It’s clear you think it’s a great preface. Of course my opinion is subjective, but I’m not sure how you would recommend i inform my opinion to better appreciate your ridicule.

        >>>> The truth is, you cannot see at all what is in Simplexion’s head

        Yes I can. Fundy atheists like him are a dime a dozen, and I’ve been dealing with them for 15+ years.

        —The idea that you can see what’s in his head and/or mind is subjective and ill-informed. Do you mean to say that you have been dealing with atheists so long that you cannot help but generalize and/or stereotype?

        >>>And then you interrupt it with this. What does this even mean, dare I ask? Do you mean to say that Simplexion will conveniently ignore anyone who doesn’t get proper dental care?

        You might want to get some treatment for that humor impairment. The art of hyperbole apparently escapes you.

        —It’s not so much the hyperbole that I don’t get as it is your poor syntax. I was simply pointing out your inadequate sentence structure. Your impressive use of hyperbole is noted.

        >>>nd then you undermine your appeal to authority with an attempt to completely shut Simplexion out of this elite conversation.

        Don’t be silly. One of his arrogance and ignorance will never shut up. That’s not the point at all.

        —What is the point then of telling one to shut up? A show of strength, perhaps?

        >>>My experience is that if you actually want someone to shut up, telling someone to shut up is the least effective strategy.

        Precisely. You don’t get it.

        —I confess that I don’t understand why you told him to shut up. You got me there!

  46. Cerebrum123 Says:

    I may be wrong on this one ,and correct me if I am ,but didn’t Alexander the Great make claims to be divine? If he did then this makes Simplexion’s complaint about Jesus’ being unlikely to have existed based on miracles and being the Son of God moot ,doesn’t it?

  47. J. P. Holding Says:

    @Simpleton:

    >>>…and you are u1tterly unable to discuss something without throwing around insults.

    I tend to do that when dealing with idiots like you who earn them.

    >>>Your arguments are challenged with citations and statistics

    And I have replied to them with corrections and refutations which have been ignored.

    >>>and you happily ignore someones credentials because they are fairly green.

    Oh it’s far more than that…eg,

    http://www.classicapologetics.com/m/McGrew.Carrier.pdf

    http://rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/play-mythty-for-me-dr-carrier-carries-on/

    http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2011/02/richard-carrier-and-domesday-watermills.html

    Before, you uncritically followed Jesus Christ. Now you uncritically follow Richard Carrier. Nothing has changed except the color of your hat.

    >>>You need to start behaving more like your fictional friend, Jesus.

    I guess Matthew 23 was missing from your Bible, you viper. :D

  48. RumTumTugger Says:

    @Simplexion,
    if it was the same 7 years of Sunday school I went through no wonder your arguments are so simple and you can’t think critically.

    Luckily unlike you I got better and with the help of a Dad who taught me to think critically and finding folks like JPH and Apologianick, I do have an answer for the truth that lies in me. You on the other hand have chosen to continue in your uncritical thinking about things and would not see the truth if it hit you in the head.

    RTT

  49. Simplexion Says:

    Faith in gods is exactly the opposite to critical thinking. You believing in a god means you are not applying critical thinking to things you should be.
    Accepting that a god is real with absolutely no evidence is not thinking critically. There is absolutely no good reason to believe in ANY god.
    It is impossible for me to say that there is definitely no god. Although I think that is most likely, I can only say that there is probably no god. The reason for this is because NOBODY can prove that something does not exist. This is why the common rhetoric to “Prove that my god does not exist,” is “Prove that the invisible pink unicorn does not exist.”
    I will finish with this; there is probably no invisible pink unicorn but I am just going to think there is definitely no invisible pink unicorn.

    • Tim Says:

      Simplexion,

      You write:

      “Accepting that a god is real with absolutely no evidence is not thinking critically.”

      I agree.

      The problem is that I think this description doesn’t apply, since I disagree with your next line:

      “There is absolutely no good reason to believe in ANY god.”

      Instead of slinging slogans at one another, shall we engage in a discussion of the matter like rational men? I’m willing to go first and put up evidence for what I believe. You’re free to reject my evidence, but then you will have the burden of explaining why you reject it.

      Does that sound fair?

      • Simplexion Says:

        Sure.

      • Tim Says:

        Simplexion,

        Okay. First up: some definitions.

        I take the claim “E is evidence for H” to mean this:

        If E were true, H would be more probable than it would be if E were false.

        This is equivalent to saying that E would be more probable if H were true than it would be if H were false.

        To say that there is evidence for a claim is not to say that there is no logical possibility of its falsehood. The set of propositions that can be shown to be guaranteed by logic alone is rather restricted. So I am not claiming, and will not try to argue, that there is no logically possible scenario, no matter how crazy, in which the claims I advance as evidence are true but there is no God.

        Before we get into details, we can see that there are several possible outcomes of the discussion. Here are the ones that I suspect would be of greatest interest:

        1. I fail to present anything that even meets this definition of evidence.

        2. I present something that meets this definition, but it isn’t enough — the evidence, though real, is too weak to underwrite serious belief.

        3. I present something that meets this definition, and if it were considered by itself, it would be sufficient to underwrite serious belief; but you bring up countervailing considerations that reduce the probability, on the whole, to a level where it is on balance too weak to underwrite serious belief.

        4. I present something that meets this definition, and if it were considered by itself, it would be sufficient to underwrite serious belief; you bring up countervailing considerations, but I defuse them, leaving some form of theism as the most reasonable option.

        5. I present something that meets this definition, and if it were considered by itself, it would be sufficient to underwrite serious belief; you have no countervailing considerations sufficient to undermine its force, and so the evidence I have presented carries the argument.

        Next, I need to define another term in order to make it clear what I am arguing for.

        I am undertaking to present evidence for the existence of a being who meets, at least broadly, the description of the Judeo-Christian God. So let me offer a definition:

        God is a person without a body (i.e. a spirit) who is eternal, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and the creator of all things.

        In addition to this definition, the Judeo-Christian scriptures provide us with various descriptions of what God has done on a more fine-grained scale. At a certain stage in the argument, I may adduce evidence that there is a being who has brought about one or more of the things that, in the scriptures, God is said to have done.

        Any dissent so far?

      • Simplexion Says:

        Yeah, that’s cool. I want to add some special pleading like your friends here though. All religion is bat-shit crazy and you are unable to change this fact in any of your arguments.

        Just kidding, let’s have some discussionating.

      • Tim Says:

        Simplexion,

        Okay. Here’s a first clue for the riddle of the universe: consciousness.

        According to theism — as I defined it above — God is a conscious, personal being, and he is eternal. That means that, according to theism, consciousness is built into reality at the ground level. It doesn’t have to emerge from matter, somehow; it has been there all along.

        Atheism might build in consciousness in some fashion or other; perhaps there is no God, but there have always been conscious beings in the universe. But nearly all atheists opt for a form of materialism: there has always been matter (or mass-energy, if you prefer), and consciousness comes along later.

        Here’s the problem: no one has a good idea why physical processes are ever accompanied by experience, much less why some given physical process should be accompanied by one sort of experience (say, the experience of seeing green) rather than another (say, the experience of tasting something sweet). We know that certain stimuli produce certain sensations, of course. And we can chase it up the trail of afferent nerves some distance. But we have no idea why these particular neural events are associated with any experience, let alone these particular experiences.

        And we are not even making progress. This is not an area like weather forecasting or geophysics or cosmology where we can see clear progress in our understanding of physical reality. When it comes to consciousness, we’re stuck. We know a great deal more than (say) Plato did about the physical accompaniments of consciousness, though we are ignorant of a great deal more. But we know nothing more about consciousness itself than Plato did. And we don’t even know what a materialist solution would look like.

        Thoughtful materialists, in a candid moment, will admit this. Colin McGinn, who is certainly no friend of religion, holds that the problem cannot be solved because we are simply not equipped to figure it out. (Google “hard problem” and “McGinn” for more information on this.)

        I will not claim that the existence of consciousness proves the existence of God; that would be an overstatement. I do think, however, that it is a phenomenon that fits better into a theistic view of reality than into a non-theistic view. Non-theistic ways of accommodating it look to me to be either cobbled together (“… oh, yes, and just add consciousness in there”) or to be exercises in wishful thinking (“We’ve solved other problems — we’ll get this one in the end!”)

        Over to you.

      • Simplexion Says:

        Does an ant have consciousness?

  50. apologianick Says:

    No evidence?

    hehehe. Such statements just reveal ignorance.

    Okay. I’ll start with the first way of Thomas Aquinas for my theistic argument. Feel free to give your refutation to it.

  51. apologianick Says:

    And you wonder why you’re called a Simpleton.

    Actually, Aquinas’s argument is not the typical cosmological argument vis a vis Craig. Craig’s argument could be demolished and Aquinas’s would work fine.

    Aquinas’s runs on the concept of potentiality and actuality with actuality being that which is and potentiality being the capacity of something to change, which Aquinas refers to as motion. Change of any kind is considered motion.

    Aquinas asks us to look at what is the ultimate cause of any motion itself and in doing so he points out the problem with an infinite regress per se as opposed to an infinite regress per accidens. Craig’s argument relies on per accidens. Aquinas says you can have a per accidens infinite regress.

    Aquinas then says that in order to explain the continually actualizing of potential, one must have something that is not part of the loop. This must be something that is pure actuality in its nature. If it is pure actuality, it has no potential and is thus incapable of change.

    To ask “What created that?” or “Who created that?” is to show the height of ignorance with Thomistic thought. If this something was created, then it was something that had potential and thus itself needs to have an explanation.

    This also comes further with the argument that is more along the lines with the Second Way and is best expressed in “On Being And Essence.” In this, Aquinas points out that God is the only being in existence who has no distinction between essence and existence, which even angels in Christian thought have that as they are essence + existence. God is the only being who has essence = existence and thus is the cause of existing in all other things.

    To ask “Who created God?” is to ask “Who created existence?” which is a contradiction. Something must exist in order to create existence. Your usual atheist response that assumes that no Christian ever thought about this shows your massive ignorance. Dawkins would have had an answer beyond the five ways if he’d just read the next chapter in the Theologica on the simplicity of God. Unfortunately, I doubt he even read the section on God’s existence but rather read them on Wiki instead.

    Now try giving an educated answer that shows you’ve thought about something for at least 2 seconds. Of course, claiming that on your part could make me want to say “ECREE!”

    • Simplexion Says:

      Fine, lets ignore the massive problems with all of this argument and accept it. In accepting that this god is the only thing which has no distinction between essence and existence why do we need to attach the title “God” to it.

      Why do you attach the Christian god to it? Why not the Hindu gods or the other versions of the Abrahamic god? Why not just call it nothing, as your understanding of “nothing” is most likely very different to a physicists understanding of “nothing”.

      If it is also true that this god was necessary to make the universe, why would it take any interest in what occurs in the universe? Why attach human thought to it? Why would it be interested in a particular living thing on a particular planet of hundreds of billions to choose from?

      Something must exist in order to create existence.

      If this is a fact, which it might not be, why does this thing that must exist be your Christian god? Does it need to be supernatural, intelligent or sentient? This is why this is not evidence for the existence of a god. It is an argument for a first cause that could then be called “God”.

  52. Peter Grice Says:

    “You believing in a god means you are not applying critical thinking to things you should be.”

    In Christianity, faith itself is generated through critical reflection upon evidence. That is a biblical understanding of it. As for how it occurs in the lives of contemporary believers, it is the same. Or it should be—if a given individual’s thinking is not particularly critical, the nature of the evidence is not altered. The presence of uncritical Christians is the exception that proves the rule. Christian thinkers have a thoroughgoing understanding of how a rational faith is constituted, the full range of evidence considered, and the rational justification process involved.

    For you to suggest, Simplexion, that belief in the Christian God “means” (equates to) an absence of critical thinking, and to reduce the panoply of evidence to your interpretation of it—such that the same evidence no longer admits any other interpretation—is ignorance and bigotry of a high-order. Nobody could frame it so, with awareness of how evidence works, much less Christianity. That category-distorting ignorance is also on display regarding the denial of the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth. It is simply illegitimate to categorically reject the best evidence for his existence, namely, the existence of countless people who knew him and each other (among them, his own younger siblings, James and Jude, and his public disciples, all who became central figures in the early church). You may not agree with their regard for him as a miracle-worker, but it is ludicrous to suppose that they did not know the man they all believed they did. Shame on you for claiming critical thought for yourself, in light of such a risible attitude to history. Similarly, you ought to know better than to treat evidence exclusively. I was trying to be charitable earlier, blaming the education system and all, but I’m losing confidence its failures run quite so deep…

    • RumTumTugger Says:

      If as I suspect his 7 years of Sunday School were like mine I am not surprised he can’t think critically. He must not have had the influences I had to inoculate me from such uncritical fundy thinking.

      All I can say is that he has no understanding of biblical faith which is trust based on evidence and until he decides to really look at all the evidence with critical mind he clams for himself he will still be at heart that fundy child he was in Sunday School repeating the empty words of those he has chosen to teach him without looking at them with a critical mind. Until he does he will never be taken seriously by true critical thinkers. Like JP, Apologianick, etc.

      RTT
      safe in the hands of a trustworthy God.

  53. apologianick Says:

    Simpleton: Fine, lets ignore the massive problems with all of this argument and accept it.

    Reply: No massive problems given however. Maybe you should point one out.

    Simpleton: In accepting that this god is the only thing which has no distinction between essence and existence why do we need to attach the title “God” to it.

    Reply: Because in philosophy in medieval times, God was used to describe whatever was ultimate.

    Simpleton: Why do you attach the Christian god to it? Why not the Hindu gods or the other versions of the Abrahamic god?

    Reply: It could be one of those. A Jew could use this argument. A Muslim could use this argument. This argument does not establish the identity of the God but simply His existence and a few attributes of His. Which God it is cannot be known by reason alone but can only be known if that God gives specific revelation. You’re essentially saying there’s a problem in the argument because it doesn’t address what it was never designed to address.

    Simpleton: Why not just call it nothing, as your understanding of “nothing” is most likely very different to a physicists understanding of “nothing”.

    Reply: Because nothing lacks actuality. Whatever it is must exist in order to be actual.

    Simpleton: If it is also true that this god was necessary to make the universe, why would it take any interest in what occurs in the universe? Why attach human thought to it? Why would it be interested in a particular living thing on a particular planet of hundreds of billions to choose from?

    Reply: The argument doesn’t address that. Thomas Jefferson could have used this argument to establish that there is a God. Whether this God cares about us and has any interest in us is irrelevant. The argument is not to establish Christian theism, but simply theism.

    Simpleton: If this is a fact, which it might not be, why does this thing that must exist be your Christian god?

    Reply: Yes. It is a fact. This might sound odd to you Simpleton, but things that don’t have any existence whatsoever can do nothing. Now why must it be the Christian God? Again, it doesn’t have to be. It could be Allah. It could be the God of just Judaism minus Christianity. It could be the deist God. The argument only establishes theism.

    Simpleton: Does it need to be supernatural, intelligent or sentient?

    Reply: First, I don’t accept the natural/supernatural distinction. Second, it might be none of the other two things. We don’t know yet. Further thinking using reason and examining the claims of revelation will tell us. All it’s establishing is theism.

    Simpleton: This is why this is not evidence for the existence of a god. It is an argument for a first cause that could then be called “God”.

    Reply: It’s evidence for the existence of a being who is ultimate and pure actuality of which, there can be only one.

    Now please, that’s a childish response to the argument and one that shows no understanding of it other than what Pope Dawkins has said.

    • Simplexion Says:

      Because nothing lacks actuality. Whatever it is must exist in order to be actual.

      You might want to talk to a Physicist about this.

      The argument is not to establish Christian theism, but simply theism.

      I don’t see how it is an argument for theism. It is nothing but an argument for first cause.

      Yes. It is a fact. This might sound odd to you Simpleton, but things that don’t have any existence whatsoever can do nothing

      Do you have any evidence that these things are fact? I don’t think there is any scientist who would state that the first cause argument is factual. It’s plausible, not factual. Read this very entertaining short story for an option against first cause.

      Second, it might be none of the other two things. We don’t know yet. Further thinking using reason and examining the claims of revelation will tell us. All it’s establishing is theism.

      If it is neither sentient or intelligent, then what good is it calling it a god? Are you just aguing from the deist point of view that whatever created the universe is god and it takes absolutely no interest in the events that occur in the universe?

      This is a problem. You are using a large amount of special pleading in all of your argument. By saying whatever started the universe is a deity is allowing theism to be correct no matter what. Why must this first cause be a deity?

      It’s evidence for the existence of a being who is ultimate and pure actuality of which, there can be only one.

      It is not evidence for a being that is ultimate and pure actuality. This is again special pleading. You are saying there can only be one pure actuality, but why is this and why is it a deity?

      Now please, that’s a childish response to the argument and one that shows no understanding of it other than what Pope Dawkins has said.

      I will ignore any idiotic comments like this.

  54. Derek Says:

    Had a tooth out Friday. Back again.

    “If Jesus isn’t the son of God, what is the importance of proving his existence? He didn’t really do anything to change the path of history. The people that wrote the stories about him did that and then the fools that believed those stories as fact.”

    Ridiculous. Western history was/continues to be completely centered around accepting or rejecting the guy. No wonder your ability to interpret ancient history is so bad, you don’t know what’s going on around you right now.

    “And again… to compare denial of the existence of a man from thousands of years ago, with only literature as evidence, and denial of the holocaust which happened fairly recently and has photographic evidence of, among other evidence is completely bizarre.
To deny vast amounts of evidence that require very little understanding of said evidence to understand it happened in the past is ludicrous. To deny loose evidence that require a large amount of knowledge of all the literature mentioning the subject is fairly standard.”

    1) My comparison was like this: in NT and ancient historical studies, the Jesus-myth is regarded about as seriously as the holocaust hoax is regarded by WWII historians. That is, it is not regarded seriously. This is a fact. Which leads to 2) You aren’t arguing about Jesus anymore. You’re arguing about historiographical standards. Why believe Paul existed? Why believe Plato existed? Why believe Charlemagne existed? The standard of evidence differs from context to context. The people who study the lives of any human great or small who existed before photographs do not mind that there are no pictures of them. 3) “Vast amount of evidence” and “loose evidence” are tags that also vary from context to context. In the world of ancient history, scholars believe there is A TON of evidence that shows Jesus existed. This evidence is remarkable given what is usually available for people with similar lives/claims to Jesus (Honi, Hanina). Understanding the holocaust requires “very little understanding?!” It is easy to see why this history stuff is so hard for you to grasp. You do not have the discipline.

    By the way, there are lots of holocaust-hoaxers who would assert there is no reason to believe the holocaust happened. Photographs? What do they really prove? People can lie about what appears in photographs. There is no such thing as evidence that is not interpreted. And, by extension, there is no such thing as evidence that cannot be manipulated to say something it doesn’t say.

    “Is it wrong of me to think Jesus most likely never existed? Probably. I just can’t get through the severely muddied waters of the existence of the magical Jesus. it’s too difficult to accept that he existed without some better evidence than the mess that is the Bible.”

    I am baffled that you can say you are “probably” wrong but just can’t admit it because of your bias. Know what that is called: a bias. Actually more of a delusion. You still have not responded to the data I presented that shows miracle claims associated with a figure have zero to do with whether a person existed or not

    “So… one of your parents is Christian? Any Christian here who doesn’t have at least one Christian parent, please speak up.
It is a generalisation that fits pretty damn well. It would be the majority of the religious who inherited their beliefs from their parents. A very small minority come to a religion through their own reasoning.”

    My point was that it is not relevant. It was also that you are something like a racist. “All black men are thieves because they didn’t have father figures.” Christian, atheist or whatever, many people come to beliefs for many different reasons. You’re comments are offensive and further evidence that you do not have the intellectual disciple to engage in these discussions. Like a member of the Aryan Nation giving a speech on good race realtions.

    “I claim he may have existed as a man but I feel it is highly unlikely.”

    You’re claim that it is unlikely is not acceptable given the evidence and the weight of the critical scholars who support it. A holocaust-hoaxer would say, “I feel the idea that millions of Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis is highly unlikely.” See, you aren’t that different after all.

    “It is very hard to take an historian with a doctorate in philosophy seriously when they believe the person, they are studying, was raised from the dead after 3 days; 2000 years ago. It is a very very heavy bias and a massive problem with research into the historicity of Jesus.”

    There’s your bias again. “I only take historians seriously who agree with my metaphysical presuppositions 100%!” No, you’re not a radical at all.

    “Although I have no training per se, in the field; I have about 7 years of Sunday school and reading of the Bible.”

    A joke.

    “One of the biggest problems with Christians arguing for the existence of Jesus is that they have to argue that side. If they argue that he didn’t exist they have no good reason to be a Christian anymore. This is a HUGE problem.”

    I could easily say, “One of the biggest problems with atheists arguing for the non-existence (or likely non-existence) of the Jesus who worked miracles and was God’s son is that they have to argue that side. If they argue that he did exist and worked miracles they have no good reason to be an atheist anymore. This is a HUGE problem.”

    Good observations by the way. Like nobody knew that before you’re brilliant mind came around…

  55. Peter Grice Says:

    “If it is also true that this god was necessary to make the universe, why would it take any interest in what occurs in the universe?”

    You’re kidding, right? If there is purposive intent behind the universe, it is unreasonable to expect that this should abruptly cease. Why portray the opposite presumption? (A: convenience).

    “Why would it be interested in a particular living thing on a particular planet of hundreds of billions to choose from?”

    Hundreds of billions of what, planets? (That is quite the inflation from the state of the search for habitable planets!!). For one so insistent upon evidence, what is your evidence that there is life comparable to humanity in some place other than on Earth? In any case, why assume that God is not also interested in life elsewhere? (A: convenience).

    Are not many of your questions loaded with presumption?

    • Simplexion Says:

      Sorry, did you read my questions, asking the opposite, as statements? See the question mark there… it means it is a question, not a statement. Why presume I am making statements when I have put a question mark at the end of the sentence (A: Fuck knows).

      I don’t assume that if a deity exists that it wouldn’t care about another particular species on another of the billions of possible HABITABLE planets, I am just questioning whether it seems plausible that it would care about any insignificant (in terms of the size of the universe) species of animal. Why does the life have to be comparable to humans? Just because we have evolved particularly for thought doesn’t mean we should be more important than a Dolphin.

      My presumptions come from the information that apologanick is stating.

      • Peter Grice Says:

        Nice try. Questions are open to scrutiny, and since rationality is important, they should be legitimately posed. Your first question presumes that the burden is not on yourself, which is obviously not the case as I explained, and your second flagrantly assumes that – were there other life (despite there being no evidence) – God would not be interested in it. You’ve been called out, so you appeal to punctuation and resort to swearing. Way to go!

        You’ve moved from saying there are hundreds of billions of planets to choose from, to saying merely that this is possible.

        You have STILL not supplied your missing premise to relate size to significance. My own hidden premise is that you are intending to provide argument.

        “Why does the life have to be comparable to humans?”

        Because that’s what you implied, taken in context. You referenced the Christian understanding, when you said “Why do you attach the Christian god to it? … why would it take any interest in what occurs in the universe? … Why would it be interested in a particular living thing on a particular planet … why does this thing that must exist be your Christian god?”

        Are you tracking what you said, or making it up as you go along? In the Christian scheme, the particular planet is Earth, and the particular thing on Earth that God is most interested in, are those beings made in His “image,” the pinnacle of life here, the ones for whom He incarnated and suffered, etc. You cannot be ignorant of this.

        Then you lapse back into your own worldview, where there is no significance for human beings. Why do you do this? (A: convenience).

      • Simplexion Says:

        Here Peter… here is my mouth. You are welcome to put as many words as you like into it. Thank-you.

      • Peter Grice Says:

        No need. It is your responsibility to articulate your thoughts and adhere to conventions of communication and argumentation. I showed how I took you at your word, not your later retraction. If you don’t mean what you seem clearly to mean that’s fine once or twice, but in practice, the more you seem to depart from those conventions, the more it will seem that you’re doing so for convenience or in ignorance.

      • Simplexion Says:

        Oh wow. I is sorry my conventions of communications and argumentation are wrizzong. I will now attempt to clarify everything that I say with beautiful prose, so that you won’t have to put words in my mouth because we wouldn’t want you to have to make your argument on what I said, rather than on what I didn’t say but you felt that is seemed like I was actually saying.

        Why would it be interested in a particular living thing on a particular planet of hundreds of billions to choose from?

        Here, I will clarify this bit for you. I said hundreds of billions of planets because I was thinking of the entirety of planets, not just ones in habitable zones, which is only guesstimated in the billions. There… is that better? Can we get back to your jamming vocabulary into my cake hole?

      • Peter Grice Says:

        No apology necessary. Just say what you mean, preserve your own points, don’t mingle one worldview with another; progress should ensue. No doubt it is clear to others what I was pointing out, despite your childish retort about prose rather than logic. Do you actually care about this stuff? If so, why don’t you use appropriate criteria and methods?

        Let’s see how you fared with the point you just chose to clarify. Your original question was, “Why would [the Christian god] be interested in a particular living thing on a particular planet of hundreds of billions to choose from?”

        You know, this does seem to imply that there are many living things on many planets, in light of the repeated “particular.” In fact the language “interested in” and “choose from” suggests that this is what you meant. Your subject is life, on a planet, and it doesn’t seem to make much sense any other way.

        But you now clarify, “I was thinking of the entirety of planets, not just ones in habitable zones, which is only guesstimated in the billion.”

        Let’s plug in your clarification: Why would God be “interested in” life on Earth when he could “choose from” so many other planets (some potentially habitable, some not)?

        This is not a coherent thought. If you did actually assume that life is ubiquitous in the universe, that wouldn’t be a coherent challenge either. As I said earlier, there’s no evidence for that, and on Christianity, God would be interested in all life. After all, He created it. His caring for one thing doesn’t diminish his caring for another. If humans can pull that off with multiple children, it doesn’t seem too hard for God.

        The point is something different. The point is, why are you so persuaded of your own rational ability (particularly concerning the historicity of Jesus), when you’re not demonstrating that you know how to deal with these sorts of issues?

      • Simplexion Says:

        Derp.

      • Peter Grice Says:

        Proof positive, together with calling this “tactics” below, that you’re not interested in the paradigm called reasoned dialogue, which requires clear communication of meaning. I’m just following what you’ve plainly said. When given the opportunity, you don’t seem willing or able to clarify and strengthen your thoughts. I have plugged in your “clarification” of what you said, and the result is nonsense. It is just one example to illustrate a poor capacity for rational engagement. You’re clearly just trying to win some imagined debate, rather than elucidate the issues. If you want to keep stacking the decks with how you frame your questions, just don’t think it isn’t obvious to others what you’re doing…

      • Simplexion Says:

        Derper.

  56. Nick Says:

    Simpleton: You might want to talk to a Physicist about this.

    Reply: No need. A definition from physics doesn’t apply here. This is an argument of metaphysics and not physics and nothing specifically in metaphysics refers to that which does not exist. Aristotle defined it as that which rocks dream about. I know Physicists have a different definition, or rather even five different definitions. That does not apply here.

    Simpleton:I don’t see how it is an argument for theism. It is nothing but an argument for first cause.

    Reply: An argument you have yet to refute. The first cause is God in this case due to the first cause being ultimate and being immaterial in nature.

    Simpleton: Do you have any evidence that these things are fact? I don’t think there is any scientist who would state that the first cause argument is factual. It’s plausible, not factual. Read this very entertaining short story for an option against first cause.

    Reply: The new priesthood speaks. What a scientist says is irrelevant to metaphysics. You can be an excellent scientist, Christian or non, and it doesn’t mean you know metaphysics. It’s a separate field so if scientists don’t accept it, I say, so what? It’s not a scientific argument. You might as well say “Your understanding of Shakespeare is off because I can’t think of a single mathematician who accepts it!”

    Also, the fact at this point is that only existent things have causal power.

    Simpleton:If it is neither sentient or intelligent, then what good is it calling it a god? Are you just aguing from the deist point of view that whatever created the universe is god and it takes absolutely no interest in the events that occur in the universe?

    Reply: No. I’m simply taking the first step. I believe we can reason to omniscience and sentience as well. However, even if Deism is correct, atheism is false.

    Simpleton: This is a problem. You are using a large amount of special pleading in all of your argument. By saying whatever started the universe is a deity is allowing theism to be correct no matter what. Why must this first cause be a deity?

    Reply: If its causal power does not come from within itself, then it is influenced by another to act and thus, it is not the ultimate as it has potential. Matter is not capable of acting on its own. Only beings with will are. If this being is capable of acting to have causal power in existing things then it is a being that has will and since it is immaterial, this is a good candidate for what we call God. You’ve yet to deal with the crux of the argument, that there is a first cause.

    SImpleton: It is not evidence for a being that is ultimate and pure actuality. This is again special pleading. You are saying there can only be one pure actuality, but why is this and why is it a deity?

    Reply: Saying it is not does not make it so. The being must be pure actuality because if it has potential, then it is just as much on the chain as everything else and needs an explanation beyond itself.

    For Pure actuality, this must be a being who is perfect in every way. If there was another they would have to differ in that one had a perfection the other did not have. If that was the case, they could not both be perfect. If they have identical properties exactly, then they are the same being.

    Simpleton:I will ignore any idiotic comments like this.

    Reply: Everything you say about the argument confirms my opinion.

    • Simplexion Says:

      Oh hey, Special Pleading. How’s it going?
      I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced you to my friend, here.
      Special Pleading, this is Nick. Nick, Special Pleading.
      What’s that, Special Pleading? You already know Nick?
      WHAT? You know him intimately. Well, you should be introducing me to him then. Far out.

  57. Derek Says:

    “Yes, I know very little documentation has survived time. I posted a video with a basic rundown of why it is a problem anyone, at all, failed to mention Jesus. Yes, I understand these statements in the video have been answered by Historians/Theologians.”

    Mostly historians. If you understand that they have been answered, why are you still throwing that objection around? Probably because you don’t really care what the evidence is. Tacitus absolutely mentioned Jesus. So your claim that “anyone, at all” failed to mention him is false. The Josephus larger citation is debated, but the majority of NT and scholars of Josephus believe it’s core is good.

    “I do not know why historians believe any of those people exist. Is there archaeological evidence to support their existence? Is there any unbiased scholars who state those people existed? Is it only information from the Bible that points to their existence?”

    These comments further show why you should not be commenting on these issues. You simply do not have enough familiarity with the relevant literature/arguments. You are barely aware of the most superficial literature/arguments. And you have not even evaluated those very critically!
    No, there is no archeological evidence these guys existed. Why should there be? They were not conquerors. They were not kings. They existed in a very similar social-historical context to Jesus, only their own followers cared enough to preserve the information about them. If archeological evidence is required, many, many, many, many, many people that historians have no reason to deny existed, also need to be questioned. Yes, there are Jewish, Christian, and secular scholars who affirm their existences. And finally, no, they are not in the Bible. I am surprised that you did not know this given your extensive training in Sunday school and your years of studying the Bible closely enough to lend your opinion to the historical Jesus debate.

    “It is not in any way nonsensical to think Jesus would have been heavily written about if he were performing miracles in front of large crowds. A small amount of people running around saying they saw some miracles might be ignored but when a large sum of people are telling the same story, it makes it hard to ignore.”

    No. It doesn’t. The examples I have cited above show that. Are you aware how rare and expensive writing materials were in antiquity? Even if that were not a factor, why would, say, Jacob (a hypothetical first century observer of one of Jesus’ miracles, even assuming they were tricks or over-exaggerated) report very much about Jesus. He could easily have said what you say. “It was a trick.” Or, “he’s powered by demons.” Only people who cared about Jesus and his ministry would have preserved accounts about him. And, once again, many that may have been preserved would have been lost. As the vast majority of ancient literature has been. But you have already admitted that historians know why that argument is bad. You’d just prefer to continue believing it. Your delusion surfaces once again.

    “The reason that any person claiming to possess magic or God-given powers would have been ignored is because it would have been reported by a small amount of people and those things are IMPOSSIBLE. I deny miracles and the like because they are completely moronic. I deny the existence of faith healers, psychics, clairvoyants and any of that idiocy.”

    You do realize you just demolished your own argument right? Not to mention contradicted yourself? If the only people who cared about or witnessed Jesus’ miracles would have been a small amount of Jews in rural Palestine, why do you think we should even find one reference to Jesus in the works of Greek and Roman writers? Many historians have remarked that the fact Tacitus mentions him is amazing in and of itself. It is a fact of history that various people have been believed to be miracle workers. That is not up for debate. There are people who even today claim such. I do not care what you deny. Your original claim was that the amount (or even presence?) of miracle-material in historical Jesus traditions count against his overall historicity. I have demonstrated that that assertion is absolutely, completely, totally ridiculous. Even if I grant your metaphysical presuppositions, that argument is a bad one.

    “Yeah, Authors at the time would have been way more interested in politics than a guy performing crazy awesome magic tricks.”

    You have once again shown your own argument is junk.

    “You may argue for the existence of Jesus as a man to me. You may not argue the existence of Jesus as a miracle working son of God because that is just plain stupid.”

    I can do whatever I want dude. You can cram it with walnuts. I have NOT even once defended the historicity of Jesus’ miracles. Not once. I have shown, conclusively, that your argument that the presence of those stories does nothing, one way or another, to hinder Jesus’ historicity.

    “Good! You are arguing from the point of view that Jesus was just a man. This is acceptable and a valid point. It definitely makes sense to why a man preaching and doing nothing more would have less evidence than a mad conquering the world. Just make sure you tell all your friends that, so I can stop having to hear the moronic statement that there is as much evidence for as Jesus.”

    Sigh. You are so very thick. Again, historical claims for individuals differ in the level and quality of what is being asserted for each one. If I was asserting that Jesus conquered the world, or built a bridge to North America, or was a Jewish preacher who was crucified, my claim is only valid insofar as the evidence for it is stronger than possible evidences (or lack thereof) against it. There is as much evidence that Jesus existed, given what is claimed of him (even granting naturalism), as there is that Alexander the Great existed given what is claimed of him.

    “Really!? The vast majority of people have had a lack of understanding and been willing to accept things they don’t understand as fact? Calling me small minded is also incorrect. This video will show you why: http://youtu.be/T69TOuqaqXI”

    First, you are nothing more than a small-minded ethnocentrist. Second, no time for youtube. But the quality of your sources speaks volumes. Youtube, wiki, guys not trained in the areas they write whole books upon. Once again, you’ve a lot in common with holocaust-hoaxers.

    “And that is a huge problem with historians. They should be completing ignoring anything to do with the supernatural but use the text surrounding it as possible evidence.”

    Bias. Unproven assertions masquerading as fact. Small-minded drivel. But it’s nice to see what your real problem finally is. “Historians need to consult me and my worldview before they go about working in their field.” Yeah, you have a serious complex. Now the argument isn’t about Jesus. It’s about the standards of historiography. All you want to do is change the rules because you don’t like how the game is going against you.

    “Not to disregard the complete text because of that, but to ignore the bits that do contain miracles. It is a failure of critical thinking to believe any person can perform miracles.
The New Testament contains too much paranormal/supernatural events for it to be taken seriously. Although, there may be some moderately truthful information in there, too much of it is contains miracles. I’m not saying that it should be completely disregarded; I am saying it should be taken with a very very large grain of salt.”

    I don’t care what you think. The professors at my school, who are experts in classical and ancient near eastern history, do not care what you think. Indeed, from the late 18th century to the late 20th century many historians assumed that only naturalistic narratives could pass the test as to what was and was not historical. This did not hinder them in seeing Jesus as a historical man or the NT as a valuable source of ancient information in the slightest. You make grand, sweeping claims about things that you know nothing about. Not a sign of critical thinking ability.

    “I would be less likely to accept the history of Alexander the Great if stories surrounding him contained continuous statements of him being the son of God and performing miracles. I would have to accept that the evidence for his existence was too strong to deny though. I am not able to do the same with Jesus. The evidence is very weak and the stories of his miracles muddy the water.”

    No. Just more unproven drivel. It is noble that you admit your bias so colors your opinion that you would deny Alexander even now if some (what, 25%, 50%) of the information related about him contained elements that you do not accept based on your worldview (which is pretty young). You do know that there are lots of elements of his life that are related in supernatural/incredible terms right? What about extending the skepticism to events that are related in naturalistic terms but just seem imporbable? “I can’t see how this happened, so I don’t believe it did.” Your paranoia is staggering .

    “I know I have biases but I reiterate, miracles are nonsense. It’s fine for you to have faith in them. That is all you can do; have faith. Miracles do not occur, supernatural is a stupid idea except for great fictional storytelling, and paranormal is the same.”

    You are a small-minded, ethnocentric, raving child.

    “I can and I have said previously: Jesus may have existed as an ordinary man but I find it highly unlikely.”

    In the face of all the evidence, and critical scholarship, holocaust-hoaxers do the same thing…

    “At no point to I completely deny his existence. I just find it very hard to accept that he did exist.”

    What I said above.

    “Do you have a problem with Wikipedia as a source? You do realise that is a very very stupid thing to do. It is pretty rare for people to ignore Wikipedia now as a source. It is a good source of information and it’s quality is no less than any other Encyclopedia, as has been shown by studies: As accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica and accurate but poorly written.”

    Wikipedia is great for quick access to information. But not for critical evaluation of information. You quoted someone, with no credentials himself to comment on anything to do with Jesus, who was quoted on wiki. So yes. I do have a problem with it as a source. That’s why they don’t let you quote it as an authority in papers and journals, dude.

    “There are photos of Lincoln… genius.”

    So, now there needs to be photos of the person in question? How do you know those are really photos of Lincoln? People lie (especially for political and religious motivations) all the time. My point was that your standard of evidence, with regard to Jesus, is as ridiculous as a person now declaring he will not believe in Lincoln unless someone takes him back in time. But I know its hard for you to draw elementary connections like that.

  58. Derek Says:

    the above is, once again, from his blog

  59. apologianick Says:

    If you’re going to claim special pleading, you have to show specifically how it’s special pleading.

    • Simplexion Says:

      Re-read your last comment. Think about it for a bit and then tell me how you are using special pleading. If you fail to understand the problem. This discussion is over.
      At least you don’t go the twist my words route and take all sorts of extra meaning from what I’m not saying. That is just fucking annoying and makes discussion impossible. Mr. Grice needs a new tactic.

    • Peter Grice Says:

      “extra meaning” Simplexion?! lol, no I was just trying to make sense of your singular meaning, but when asked for your help, you made it worse! I understand why that makes you annoyed, though. Still, exactly as you’re doing here, you’re unable to back up what you say, which leaves you looking for a crass way out.

      • Simplexion Says:

        Umm… derp.
        Let’s look at all the things you have put into my mouth shall we, making it impossible to have a discussion with you.

        I asked a bunch of questions. You took those questions and responded to them as if I have made statements.

        I said something about the number of planets instead of the number of habitable planets. I admit this mistake. You then continue to go on about my mistake rather than responding to the original question.

        “your second flagrantly assumes that – were there other life (despite there being no evidence) – God would not be interested in it.”

        Nope, It doesn’t assume anything. It is a question asking whether a deity would take interest in an insignificant part of its creation. I made no such statement that a deity would not be interested in it.

        “You’ve moved from saying there are hundreds of billions of planets to choose from, to saying merely that this is possible.”

        Nope, I clarified that I had made a simple mistake. You can see why I did this and it makes a lot of sense, but I guess you can interpret it how ever you like and continue to use it as an argument against me.

        I’m going to give up here, because it goes on and on and on. You may now go back to attempting to influence Australian politics with your religious beliefs. Next time you are in a discussion, don’t continuously attack how something was stated or questioned and just respond to it. I am not going to clarify everything I say when you should be able to figure out what was meant by it. Also, don’t put words in other peoples mouths.

      • Peter Grice Says:

        You seem to believe your own narrative here. All is clear above. Let’s now inspect your hypocrisy:

        “You may now go back to attempting to influence Australian politics with your religious beliefs.”

        “Also, don’t put words in other peoples mouths.”

        Fact: I haven’t a shred of interest or involvement in influencing Australian politics.

        It must be great living inside conveni-bubble!!

      • Simplexion Says:

        ENGAGE is not a political group. It has been formed to engage people at the highest levels of Government, Education, Business, Medical, Legal and Law Enforcement professions – these include policy makers, key leaders and influential members of society – who have a genuine concern for the future of this nation, a desire to promote truth and justice and reverse the erosion of societal values and dysfunctional behaviour.

        Yep… not a political group but we will lobby government.

      • Peter Grice Says:

        When ENGAGE was active (it hasn’t been for a couple of years), it did NOT “lobby government.” You’re quite a clueless individual. This is a hibernated arm of the org I work for, in any case, which does unrelated things. But here’s the funny part: I just testified to a truth about myself: my total lack of interest in involvement in politics… and what do you do? Dispute what I say, even though my meaning was unequivocal (unlike your statements). See what I mean about the hypocrisy? The point of calling attention to your issues here is, once again, to question whether you are sincerely willing and able to engage the issues of this thread.

  60. apologianick Says:

    Wow. Simpleton accuses me of special pleading and then asks me to back his case for him.

    Unreal.

  61. J. P. Holding Says:

    @Wilted:

    >>>Of course my opinion is subjective, but I’m not sure how you would recommend i inform my opinion to better appreciate your ridicule.

    It would probably be helpful to do some depth cultural study. The art of insult was and is highly prized by many social groups. Today the art of the “dozens” is an example.

    >>>he idea that you can see what’s in his head and/or mind is subjective and ill-informed. Do you mean to say that you have been dealing with atheists so long that you cannot help but generalize and/or stereotype?

    Nope. I’ve been dealing with them so long that I can see that a good chunk of them are living stereotypes. Simpleton is a perfect example — shallow, devoted to endless stereotyped canards, gullible and accepting of what he wants to hear. His kind is all over YouTube, also.

    >>>—It’s not so much the hyperbole that I don’t get as it is your poor syntax.

    Riiiight. That was certainly foremost in your mind.

    >>>—What is the point then of telling one to shut up? A show of strength, perhaps?

    Guess again. It amuses me.

    • Wilted Says:

      >>>Of course my opinion is subjective, but I’m not sure how you would recommend i inform my opinion to better appreciate your ridicule.

      It would probably be helpful to do some depth cultural study. The art of insult was and is highly prized by many social groups. Today the art of the “dozens” is an example.

      —There are quite a few behaviors prized by many social groups that I want no part of, but your point is well taken. I’m still learning how to navigate this blog’s culture.

      >>>The idea that you can see what’s in his head and/or mind is subjective and ill-informed. Do you mean to say that you have been dealing with atheists so long that you cannot help but generalize and/or stereotype?

      Nope. I’ve been dealing with them so long that I can see that a good chunk of them are living stereotypes. Simpleton is a perfect example — shallow, devoted to endless stereotyped canards, gullible and accepting of what he wants to hear. His kind is all over YouTube, also.

      —I hope you would accept that there’s a huge difference between the ideas that one communicates in this forum and one’s identity as a person. To apply stereotypes to a user is a guarantee that any potential respect or open communication that could be facilitated in the forum is lost.

      >>>—It’s not so much the hyperbole that I don’t get as it is your poor syntax.

      Riiiight. That was certainly foremost in your mind.

      —Actually, it was. Your clever hyperbole didn’t seem to know whom it was insulting.

      >>>—What is the point then of telling one to shut up? A show of strength, perhaps?

      Guess again. It amuses me.

      —That’s fair, thanks for being honest. I hope that we can continue to deeper waters and have some good discussions on the interesting topics you raise in your posts. If on the other hand you’d prefer I don’t engage on this blog, then I’m happy to oblige and I’ll leave you all be.

      • J. P. Holding Says:

        >>>I hope you would accept that there’s a huge difference between the ideas that one communicates in this forum and one’s identity as a person.

        Yes. I only address the identity aspects that people directly manifest in their statements.

        >>>Actually, it was. Your clever hyperbole didn’t seem to know whom it was insulting.

        Or else a reader didn’t read as contextually as they should have.

        >>>—What is the point then of telling one to shut up? A show of strength, perhaps?

        >>> If on the other hand you’d prefer I don’t engage on this blog, then I’m happy to oblige and I’ll leave you all be.

        It’s Nick’s place — that would be his choice, not mine.

  62. Derek Says:

    More from his blog comments…

    “No, there is just a shit tonne of evidence that Abraham Lincoln existed. It is not even close to comparable to the existence of Jesus. Stop with the ridiculous comparisons, you and your friends seem to love outrageous analogies.”

    You don’t get it. The level of evidence you are demanding to not be “unsure” that Jesus existed is like someone, today, saying they need more evidence to not be unsure that Lincoln existed. There is as much evidence that Lincoln existed in his social-historical context as there is Napoleon existed in his as there is William Wallace existed in his as there is Caesar Augustus existed in his as there is Socrates in his as there is Akhenaten existed in his. Someone could argue that your evidence (that Lincoln existed) is really no evidence at all. How do you know those are photos of Lincoln? How do you know it’s not one big lie? Why do you blindly trust that scholars of American history are right about him existing? You are not consistent in your methodology. You demand more for Jesus. Again, revealing just how much your anti-Christian bias colors your perception of the world.

    “Yes, Donald Akenson, the historian, has no credentials to comment on how historians, looking into evidence for Jesus, don’t follow sound historical practices.”

    Akenson is a scholar of Irish history. If he made a comment about how scholars of Akhenaten or scholars of the Renaissance do not follow sound historical principles, I’d similarly ignore him. Just like I would ignore Gerd Lüdemann if he declared that scholars of Irish history do not follow sound historical principles.

    “This is also coming from someone who states continuously that “scholars agree”. Who are these scholars?”

    It is not my job to hold your hand through every step of the process. You are a big boy. Start with the material McGrew recommended. However, I will note that the vast majority of scholars who are Christian (Craig Keener was an atheist, NT Wright), Jewish (Geza Vermes), secular (Gerd Lüdemann, Bart Erhman), or something entirely their own (Maurice Casey, J.D. Crossan) affirm the historical Jesus.

    “Guess what? Wikipedia has this whole thing about having to cite sources.”

    You never addressed JP’s response (the links he posted) to your “Wikipedia is like EB” assertion. You said you would not respond to him. Cowardice? If they let you use wiki as a source in schools down in your corner of the globe, it’s easy to see why your critical thinking skills are so poor. Wikipedia is great for fast distribution of large amounts of information (whether good or bad), but it is NOT acceptable as a source, at least for serious students of…anything.

    “Yay! Another push for an outrageous analogy to be taken seriously.”

    Not an outrageous analogy, an appropriate one. This is how scholars of ancient history view the Jesus myth. Not my problem you can’t seem to get that.

    “This one is funny. Insulting me and calling me ethnocentric at the same time, like it isn’t massively hypocritical. Yes, I have laughed off your beliefs as nonsense (because they are) but I have at no stage insulted your person. This seems to be a common thread with your group.”

    Insulting my beliefs is not insulting my person? I see. So I can beat you bloody, but at least I’m not insulting your beliefs. Seeing them as two separate things is another example of your ethnocentrism. You provide far more entertainment than any clown. A two year old understands historiography better than you do.

    “Actually, it would be more like, “This doesn’t make sense, there should be a natural explanation, or it didn’t happen.””

    Paraphrasing what I said, basically. Good job.

    “My paranoia is only staggering and stuttering when I have consumed cannabis.”

    Makes sense. At least it’s not 100% your fault that you aren’t able to string one coherent thought together with respect to history.

    “If I was making a grand, sweeping claim about the historical accuracy of the bible, I would have said, “The whole Bible should not be taken seriously, AT ALL.” I just said it should be taken with a grain of salt, a swig of whiskey and some LSD.”

    Take the LSD, whiskey and mary jane out of the picture and you might actually be able to see why your belief with regard to the historical Jesus is such a joke. BTW, isn’t that what you did here:

    “And that is a huge problem with historians. They should be completing ignoring anything to do with the supernatural but use the text surrounding it as possible evidence.”

    I realize that your knowledge of ancient history is bad. Really bad. Really, really, really, bad. But by making a statement like this you are making such a grand, sweeping, dramatic, over-simplification that you are essentially taking 99% of history and committing it to flames, just because of your own methodological presuppositions. I’ll let your readers (whoever they may be) decide which one of us has the bias here.

    “I read this as, “Derpdy derp, derping derpenating derpy. Derp.””

    Given the variety and amount of substances you apparently consume on a regular basis, I’m not surprised that’s how painful reading is for you. But hey, at least now I understand why you shy away from libraries in favor of wiki.

    “All I said was that there is a huge problem with historians that allow themselves to accept the miracles and son of God bit of the historical evidence. Although it is wrong to say that them accepting this complete nonsense nullifies all of their claims, it is still hard to accept a lot of their claims as rational.”

    That is your problem. I have shown, to a painful extent that, even granting your small-minded presuppositions about reality, you cannot use the miracle material as evidence against Jesus’ historicity. BTW, historians can believe Jesus claimed to be God’s son, and still believe he existed. Those two beliefs are not mutually exclusive. On the philosophical matter, no matter how much you cry and whine the vast majority of the world is going to continue rejecting your dogmatic naturalism. You will grow old, die, and your corpse will drift on the wind as dust for thousands of years and the vast majority of the world will still reject your dogmatic naturalism.

    “Oh… so you will continue to call me small-minded without watching the 10 minute YouTube video that makes an excellent argument as to why it is wrong to call me small-minded…dot..”

    You got it sportsfan. When I am not taking arrogant chumps online to task for their incoherent beliefs, I read books and journals on historiography and philosophy from credentialed scholars of those fields (whether they be Christian, Jewish, atheist, whatever). Youtube I watch with friends when I want to see some dumb guy get a football or hockey puck to the groin.

    “To continue on the, “no-one would have noticed Jesus because he was a minor/’insert other excuse’ figure.” Your Jesus of the Gospels was connected to Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate and he was also tried on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, yet he someone avoided being recorded in non-biblical documents? Cool. He must have been exceptionally unremarkable.”

    Lots of people did lots of things those days that we have no documentation for. Are you in possession of first century Palestinian court documents? Are you aware of a massive collection of such documents? I am not. Because the vast majority of them are gone. A century and a half ago guys who questioned Jesus’ existence also questioned Pilate’s. Why? “Because the only place he done appear is in the New Testament and Josephus and Tacitus and those sources ain’t good enough son! Hyuck!” Your argument has changed again btw. At most it would be a strike against Jesus as the Son of God. That is, it would be, “gosh, this Jesus fellow was exceptionally unremarkable, so he can’t have been the Son of God like he said. The Son of God would have been more remarkable!” But that conclusion doesn’t follow. The other fellows I have already mentioned were significant first century religious figures, yet they are not mentioned in any documents outside of the ones we’d expect them to be mentioned in. Lots of historical individuals are only mentioned in one place at one time. This argument is stupid. Lastly, I’ll say this again, there is no disputing that Jesus was mentioned by Tacitus, the most trusted of first-early second century Roman historians. So your “non-biblical documents” assertion is false.

    “Lastly, if the evidence is as strong as you claim, wouldn’t all academic historians be Christian?”

    Ha! You really are just that stupid aren’t you? I have, again, not once argued for the historicity of Jesus’ miracles or his claim to be God’s Son. Not once. I showed why the vast majority of historians, who are qualified (not sniveling, internet whiner-geeks) and who are not all Christians accept Jesus’ historicity as virtually certain but reject his supernatural status: the two are not mutually exclusive. The one (assertion in the NT that Jesus performed miracles) does not cast doubt on the other (his existence).

    Being a Christian involves more than recognizing that Jesus existed though. But I could also turn this right around back at you:

    “Lastly, if the evidence that Jesus’ existence is a weak as you claim, wouldn’t all academic historians (especially Jews and atheists) be Christ-mythers (or, “I just think his existence is unlikely…ers”)?

    • Walt Says:

      Derek: Insulting my beliefs is not insulting my person? I see. So I can beat you bloody, but at least I’m not insulting your beliefs. Seeing them as two separate things is another example of your ethnocentrism.

      —This is an excellent point that I think should be taken more seriously. Also, the way you turn it around to make it sound silly reminds me of that wonderful Hollywood quote – they can take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!!!! cue music. I would say that you can box with someone in a ring and give him a black eye, but you’re not disrespecting the person. You can have a debate and tear down someone’s opinion, but you’re not disrespecting the person. The second you go after the person rather than his athletic performance or his debating performance, it’s a low blow in my opinion. How is this view an example of ethnocentrism?

      —Also, this is a minor point that I’m actually just curious about. You were listing historical figures in various time figures to illustrate that Jesus had a reasonable level of historical evidence for his context, and I was with you for everyone except Socrates. Are we reasonably sure that Socrates existed? It wouldn’t take away from your point at all, I’m just curious.

      • Tim Says:

        Walt,

        I’ll just jump in here to say that, yes, we are on completely secure ground in saying that Socrates existed. I’ve been teaching philosophy at the undergraduate and graduate levels for nearly 20 years now, and I’ve never heard anyone seriously question it.

        We have not only Plato’s works, not only references in Aristotle, but also Xenophon’s Memorabilia. We could dispute particular points (e.g., how much of what is in the Theaetetus really happened and how much is Plato’s literary invention?), but his existence is not in doubt among people who have relevant knowledge.

      • Walt Says:

        Tim, thanks for the info.

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