Jesus: Fact or Fiction?

Into statistics? Curious what everyone else thinks? Then start a poll here.

What are your opinions about Jesus?

He never existed
9
19%
He was just a man
22
47%
He was a prophet
2
4%
He was God incarnate
14
30%
 
Total votes : 47

Jesus: Fact or Fiction?

Postby koin4life » Sat Jan 28, 2006 7:59 pm

What are your opinions about Jesus?
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Postby Slim » Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:41 am

It seems almost certain that the mythical Jesus Christ is based on a real person. However it seems quite certain to me that he was a normal human being, born of two human parents.
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Myth figure

Postby Atheist37 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 4:45 am

Slim,

The early Catholic church did a great job of creating history where once stood only myth. I had a chance to see a short film called "The God Who Wasn't There" by a reformed born-again Christian, and the case is very compelling. Check out http://www.thegodmovie.com for details.

Also, Dan Barker is a guy who was a born-again Christian, missionary, and composer of Christian songs and musicals. In his book "Losing Faith in Faith" he presents excellent evidence that Jesus never lived. Imagine if 100 years from now a religion based on Harry Potter was started. If you really wanted to believe a "Harry Potter" actually walked on Earth you could convince yourself, but an objective observer would discover the fictional basis very quickly.
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Postby koin4life » Tue Feb 07, 2006 6:02 am

Actually, the Catholic church didn't need to create history. A historian during the 1st century named Josephus wrote 4 books about things that occured. He wrote about the Jewish-Roman war, and his historical accounts are held in high regard. He has several passages that mention Jesus specifically. "About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. .... When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amoung us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affectino for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him."

Josephus was part of the pharisees, so for him to recognize Jesus and his miracles would go against what he believed, yet he still does with historical accuracy. To say the Catholic church came up with the myths is false because Josephus recognized these events during his lifetime whihc spanned from 37 AD to near 100 AD. Also, another historian during the 1st century named Tacitus mentioned Jesus in his works.
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History

Postby Atheist37 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 7:00 pm

While Josephus and Tacitus (through Pliny the Younger) mention Jesus, they lived after the supposed death and resurrection. Why are there no eye-witness accounts? Even the gospels are not eye-witness accounts, they were written more than a generation after the events were supposed to have occurred.

One obvious answer is that the Christian cult was being promoted at that time. It was mostly a political movement and a grab for power, and as such it was well served by passing off mythological stories as documented fact.

Headline: "Man dies and comes back to life after three days!" And not a single person thought to write it down until thirty or forty years later. The Christian argument is that it was 2000 years ago and a lot of history has been lost. My question is, why did God let that happen?
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Postby koin4life » Tue Feb 07, 2006 7:55 pm

What would the early apostles have to gain by following Jesus? It was obvious he didn't come to be a earthly king, because he said the disciples should still follow authority. That being said, why would a disciple continue to proclaim Jesus when he knew it would cost him his life? If they knew Jesus was false, they wouldn't have given their life for him.
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Why follow Jesus?

Postby Atheist37 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 9:49 pm

Koin, do you wonder why jihadists become suicide bombers? The jihadist is a tool of the political and religious elite. He is being sold a load of paradise and he's buying it with the cash on hand, his life. There is clear and compelling evidence that religious zealots are being manipulated by those hungry for power, what evidence do you have the early Christians were not manipulated in this time-honored way?

By the way, I don't pass any judgement on the goals of the early Christians. If they were trying to build a more peaceful and equitable world then perhaps we owe them some measure of gratitude. But you should realize, during that time in history it was the rule and not the exception to claim a divine source for political ideals. Keep in mind it is very likely that Jesus never existed, so those disciples never saw him directly. They just heard stories from Paul and his crowd.
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Postby koin4life » Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:58 am

The evidence that I see early Christians were not manipulated for power is the fact that nobody came to power becuase of their deaths. Christ didn't serve as a springboard for power in the earthly world. This is an important reason why the Jews did not like him as well because he wasn't going to be a military king for them.

Once again, Jesus's ideals were not for politcal means. He stated this because he still payed taxes to Cesar. His goal was to bring people both Jew and Gentile into a personal relationship with God and to bring forth a means for their salvation. To say that Jesus never existed is ludicrous because there are many people both Christian and not that corroborate this. Everyone assumes other historical figures existed, like Alexander, but it wasn't until well after he was dead that his biography was written, something like 200 years. Christ's story was written less than 40 years in some circumstances after his death. Why would we accept one biography written 200 years later, and not accept the other written fewer than 50 years later by multiple sources that all verify the same things?
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Postby whoosanightowl » Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:26 am

koin,
Everyone assumes other historical figures existed, like Alexander, but it wasn't until well after he was dead that his biography was written, something like 200 years. Christ's story was written less than 40 years in some circumstances after his death. Why would we accept one biography written 200 years later, and not accept the other written fewer than 50 years later by multiple sources that all verify the same things?


Well, for myself, the main reason is that other historical figures were never said to have performed miracles, been God incarnate, arose from the dead, etc. They were human beings, period. There is nothing about them that makes them unbelievable. Faith is not required to accept that they existed or did what they are said to have done.
The number of biographys is irrelevant. Many accounts, which verify the same things, could be just as true or false as only one account. For instance, there are hundreds if not thousands of people who have testified to having seen aliens from outer space, many even claimed to have been abducted by them. Their testimonies are similar, if not exact, sort of like those of the gospel writers. They could be telling the truth or they could be telling stories.
The time span is also irrelevant if the content is not reliable, and accounts of supposed miraculous events automatically make it highly suspicious to anyone thinking rationally. Without valid proof to support supernatural claims, it is unreasonable to consider it to be true. [/quote]
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Politics

Postby Atheist37 » Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:05 am

I really doubt the persecution of the early Christians would happen absent of any political threat they posed. Up until the US Constitution was written, every government on Earth had been associated with one or another religious belief. That is the genius of Jefferson, creating a secular state. Keep in mind that from Constantine until the Reformation (1200 years!), the Catholic Church ruled the western world, and that is the church started by St. Paul. Everything we know about the alleged life of Jesus comes from St. Paul and his buddies, a bunch of revolutionaries in the truest sense.
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Postby eltraen » Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:24 am

Atheist37 - Why do you think that early Christianity was solely a veiled political movement? I am thinking that there would have been easier way to rally people around an idea. There was an established Jewish population, why pick off a few here and there and a few Gentiles instead of utilizing a larger population base? While persecution of early Christians in cases was borne of a perceived political threat, do you think that political power was their goal?
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Postby koin4life » Wed Feb 08, 2006 11:52 am

Regardless of whether you believe Jesus performed miracles, my point that you were quoting dealt with whether or not Jesus existed as a person. I was saying it is ludicrous to believe he didn't even exist as a person.

Also, you say the number of biographies is irrelevant, which isn't really true either. If I wrote a biography about you, and made it extremely harsh, and no other biography was written about you, then that doesn't mean my biography would be true at all. But, if several biographies were written about you saying you were harsh, all from different sources, then it's more likely to be true (or a massive government conspiracy).

I think a important arguement is why would Jesus ever be portrayed the way he did by Christians and non-Christians. Christians would obviously want to portray Jesus in a positive light. But, in doing so, they put a death penalty on their heads, at least the early Christians did. If Jesus wasn't who he said he was, then they would be willing to die for something false. Now, looking from the other side, what do non-Christians have to gain by portrayinJesus in a positive light. If they didn't like him, they could easily have portrayed him in a negative light, sort of a revisionist history. If he was portrayed in a negative light, which didn't happen, then at least that idea could be true and the Christians could be lieing. The only reason they would portray him in a positive manner would be if it were true.
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Postby Norton » Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:59 pm

Atheist37,

You typically have very thoughtful arguments and insightful comments and I look forward to more.

But I must agree with Koin here, it's fairly ludicrous to believe that Jesus didn't exist. Possible, of course. Remotely probable, not at all. It's really not even worth the time to list all the evidence and all of the most liberal, non-Christian historians who would laugh at such a claim. If you think Jesus didn't at least exist as an influential Jewish leader who was crucified by the Romans, you have no basis whatsoever to believe that people like Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar existed either.

So let's move past those wacky conspiracy theory claims... You're smarter than that.

Norton :smt026
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Postby Atheist37 » Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:50 am

Norton, my main point remains. There is not a single eye-witness account regarding Jesus, nor a single word penned by him. If I was God and came to Earth to bring salvation, I would write something down! Anybody who wants to explore the issue further, this website http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm is extremely thorough and well documented. There's not much else to say so I will close the issue.

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Postby koin4life » Thu Feb 09, 2006 6:31 am

You are comparing today's society with that of the time Jesus was alive. During that time, it was more common to pass along a verbal history, as was such with the OT. People during that time period had a lot better memorization because they had to remember things in order to pass them down. Today, we are able to write things with ease, so the concept of memorization has died down. Also, as I stated before, anti-christians during the time period referenced Jesus in their works as well. Let me me ask you this if you are at least willing to entertain one more question.

If the pharisees can remember the entire old testament, and pass that along, why would it be unlikely that the authors of the NT could not remember and pass down their stories until they are written down?
Last edited by koin4life on Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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