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

Postby whoosanightowl » Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:47 pm

Koin,
It would depend on a few important factors. For one, I would need a legitimate doctor (not some quack who could have been paid to go along with the claim) who has known the person for a while, to testify to the fact that he was totally blind in the first place and now can clearly see. For another, any possibility of a natural reason for visual healing would have to be ruled out completely.
It is definitely not something I'd just take a few people's word on who I don't even know, which is what believing in the bible requires.
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Postby koin4life » Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:51 pm

What if everyone in the town the person lived at could attest to them being blind?

Also, it is common that Luke is considered to be a physician, so there is the doctor for you.

You don't know who wrote many of your textbooks from school, yet you take their word for it.
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Postby whoosanightowl » Wed Mar 08, 2006 9:05 pm

What if everyone in the town the person lived at could attest to them being blind?

Everyone in the town didn't attest to anyone being blind in the bible that I'm aware of, but if they did, where are their written testimonies?

Also, it is common that Luke is considered to be a physician, so there is the doctor for you.

Did Luke ever claim to know any of the blind people personally or treat them as his patients so his testimony (if it is his) would be valid?

You don't know who wrote many of your textbooks from school, yet you take their word for it.

If any textbooks claimed extraordinarily events which go against the laws of nature or miraculous, I would not take their word for anything they said either.
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Postby koin4life » Wed Mar 08, 2006 9:19 pm

When Jesus heals a blind man, the disciples, neighbors, and those that had seen the man begging all said he was blind. Then, when the Pharisees interviewed him, the man's parents said he was blind as well. That is more than just a group of people.

No, Luke never claimed, but my point was to show you that someone that is a physician considered the acts miraculous, even when his job told him otherwise. Granted, he wouldn't know nearly anything compared to today's standards, but it's likely he would no more about it than the common person.

It seems you are being bias against miracles. If you say a miracle with your own eyes, would you say there must be some natural law that hasn't been discovered yet? My point is that if you witnessed a miracle, would you change your minds? Then, what if someone you trusted witnessed a miracle and told you about it, would you believe them? If so, why wouldn't you trust the writers?
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Postby whoosanightowl » Wed Mar 08, 2006 9:53 pm

When Jesus heals a blind man, the disciples, neighbors, and those that had seen the man begging all said he was blind. Then, when the Pharisees interviewed him, the man's parents said he was blind as well. That is more than just a group of people.

Actually this is just what the author of the story said, there is no evidence that any of these other people claimed anything pertaining to a blind man, who may have not even really existed in the first place. The whole story could have been created to further the idea of Jesus being able to perform miracles and therefore his being divine.

It seems you are being bias against miracles. If you say a miracle with your own eyes, would you say there must be some natural law that hasn't been discovered yet? My point is that if you witnessed a miracle, would you change your minds? Then, what if someone you trusted witnessed a miracle and told you about it, would you believe them? If so, why wouldn't you trust the writers?

Yes as a matter of fact I am biassed against miracles because I think there are scientific reasons that would expain things which appear to be miraculous that we just aren't aware of yet. So no, I probably wouldn't change my mind if I or someone I knew and trusted claimed they witnessed a miracle.
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Postby Atheist37 » Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:17 pm

koin4life wrote:It seems you are being bias against miracles. If you say a miracle with your own eyes, would you say there must be some natural law that hasn't been discovered yet? My point is that if you witnessed a miracle, would you change your minds? Then, what if someone you trusted witnessed a miracle and told you about it, would you believe them? If so, why wouldn't you trust the writers?

When the Red Sox were down three games to nothing against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, nobody thought it possible that they could come back and win 4 games in a row. Especially against the Yankees! But they did, and then went on to sweep the Cards in the World Series, winning the final game on the night of a lunar eclipse. That's about the closest thing I've ever seen to a miracle. It would be only human to give in to superstition and claim divine intervention in that amazing season. But I can also see a perfectly natural and logical explanation for all of it. The Red Sox were the best team in baseball that year. The eclipse was just a coincidence.

What would it take for me to believe a true miracle? If Hurricane Katrina had instantly disappeared before hitting the Gulf Coast, leaving a clear blue sky, I would consider that a miracle. Sometimes hurricanes weaken dramatically but they never just disappear in an instant. And even though I was nowhere near there, I would believe the news reports and satellite photos because they have typically proven to be reliable at least when it comes to weather reporting.

Or, if a group of stars in the sky re-arranged themselves into a cross or a fish symbol, violating all known laws of physics, I would consider that a miracle. I could probably give a few more examples. But when it comes to blindness, I know there is something called "hysterical blindness" that can go away instantly just by talking to the victim in the right way. So miracle blindness cures, and miracle paralysis cures, etc., are very suspicious in my mind (especially 2000-year-old cases).

Here's a funny miracle performed by faith healer Peter Popoff. He rented a couple of wheelchairs and put them in the front row. When a couple of old ladies came in with canes, his assistant offered them the front-row seats. They were then wheeled onto the stage and told to stand up and walk. He asked them "can you walk?" They said yes, of course. It's a miracle! Praise Jesus. Pass the collection plate. Even most Christians wouldn't believe a Peter Popoff miracle, the guy is notorious.
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Postby eltraen » Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:57 pm

Peter Popoff is a scam artist and no one should believe he is a miracle worker. The Amazing Randi proved as much. He and some assistants managed to get one woman called up to the stage and "healed" at multiple "revivals". The problem was, the woman wasn't sick, and wasn't even a woman, but a male volunteer in drag. Popoff's wife was in his ear via wireless radio reading off prayer cards. That's how he found the sick in the audience. And the wheelchair trick is how healings often happened. His new con is "Miracle Spring Water." He is part of the problem of the way Christian's are often perceived.
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Postby spongebob » Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:49 am

I know that subject is contradictory, but I can explain. Jesus, if he existed at all, of course would have been human. There's no evidence anyone has ever existed who was more than human. But he would have been a rebel not unlike Martin Luther King or William Wallace. One's life is well documented and firmly grounded in fact; the other is a mythological figure who has been likened to Jesus. The likelyhood of a rebel who defied the old Jewish laws is high. His followers would have been ardent followers and determined to do whatever was necessary to keep his movement alive even after his death. This would include speading false stories and claims about his power and influence to coincide with certain prophecies in order to portray him as a god. We don't have to try very hard to find examples of this kind of exaggeration in just about any culture on earth. Stories of giants, elves, kings, dragons, heroes and so forth demonstrate the capacity for human hyperbola.

So, yes, he most likey existed, but as a man who was made into myth.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Postby koin4life » Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:07 am

His followers would have been ardent followers and determined to do whatever was necessary to keep his movement alive even after his death.


I'm glad you mentioned this. The followers were distraught after Jesus died. They went into hiding. Finally, after Jesus's reappearance, they became even more bold than they were during his ministry to them. How can this be explained?

I also don't see how the message of Jesus coincides with a rebellious group, trying to take over power.

Finally, I think it would be interesting if anybody can take words from Jesus and point out any contradiction, or any ill-will / "evil" doing against people. My conclusion is that it cannot be done, but I would like to see if others are able to do it.
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Postby mikedsjr » Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:23 am

sponge,

I ditto what Koin stated.

To me, this seems to come down to the 3 L's. Is Jesus a liar, a lunatic, or Lord?
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Postby spongebob » Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:06 pm

koin4life wrote:
His followers would have been ardent followers and determined to do whatever was necessary to keep his movement alive even after his death.


I'm glad you mentioned this. The followers were distraught after Jesus died. They went into hiding. Finally, after Jesus's reappearance, they became even more bold than they were during his ministry to them. How can this be explained?

I also don't see how the message of Jesus coincides with a rebellious group, trying to take over power.

Finally, I think it would be interesting if anybody can take words from Jesus and point out any contradiction, or any ill-will / "evil" doing against people. My conclusion is that it cannot be done, but I would like to see if others are able to do it.


There is simply no evidence that Jesus existed, much less was supernatural. But there's a good likely hood that a man existed during his time that might have rebelled against the old Jewish traditions. Actually, there's real evidence that there were religious sects that did this. I suspect the Jesus myths come from one of these sects. To build a religion, one needs to fulfill prophecy and define a martyr. The stories of Jesus's life and supernatural deeds fit this perfectly, all written after his death mostly by unconnected people.

This is not a new theory. There's a very entertaining novel based on this idea called The Crucifixion Conspirators. There are nonfiction books as well, but this one is actually fun to read.

I'll answer the second question in another post...I'm sleepy right now.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Postby Atheist37 » Mon Mar 20, 2006 1:25 am

mikedsjr wrote:To me, this seems to come down to the 3 L's. Is Jesus a liar, a lunatic, or Lord?

Mike, you most likely know that Jesus didn't write one word of the New Testament. The question you must ask is in relation to the Apostle Paul. Was he a liar, a lunatic, or (a mouthpiece for) the lord? As best as I can tell from my own research, Paul was a very skilled leader who used the Jesus myth to gain power. I guess that makes him a liar. I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert, so please read up on Paul (and not just the Christian propaganda).
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Postby koin4life » Mon Mar 20, 2006 6:23 am

Hopefully I can answer some of the questions:

I think denying Jesus existence really damages the rest of your claims. The reason is because many historians during that time period have left accounts of Jesus. From a book I read, there were 18 different non-christian historians that all referred to Jesus. I think it's impossible that this occured unless Jesus was real...maybe not divine, but real. Tacitus, Pliny the younger, and Josephus are just 3 of those 18. You can still accept that he existed without accepting that he was God.

On another note, I think trying to say Paul created stories about Jesus to gain power is equally absurd. The reason is because of his significant transformation. He went from being a Pharisee that persecuted Christians to a martyr for Christianity. Not only did this happen, but many of the things Christianity enforced were opposite to jewish tradition. Thus, for Paul to follow Christianity, he would have to completely give up his traditions as a jew. Also, who is Paul trying to lead a revolution with? The jews most likely wouldn't follow him because he turned their back on them and went to someone they hated. The Christians wouldn't follow him if it weren't true because he was persecuting them. The roman's wouldn't follow him because if they did it would be a deathwish because it went against the roman empire.

I think a lot of conclusions are being drawn that have no basis or a weak basis at best.
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Postby whoosanightowl » Mon Mar 20, 2006 7:51 am

I think a lot of conclusions are being drawn that have no basis or a weak basis at best.

And such is the case for Christianity!

I see nothing absurd about Paul rejecting his Jewish heritige in order to gain political clout amoung the gentiles. That was the group he took his message to, not the Jews. The pagans had many deities so he could easily convince them to buy into his new god. He's also the one that put forth the most effort in spreading that message, sounds like a politician to me!
As for his flip-flop from Jewish traditions, Paul may have had an issue (a thorn in his side) that the leadership wasn't giving him the recognition he felt he deserved for being such a great persecutor of Christians (assuming he ever really did persecute Christians).
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Postby koin4life » Mon Mar 20, 2006 8:12 am

The pagans had many deities so he could easily convince them to buy into his new god.


True, but Paul was saying get rid of all those other deities, repent, and worship just this one. That doesn't fit in with pagan thought.

As for his flip-flop from Jewish traditions, Paul may have had an issue (a thorn in his side) that the leadership wasn't giving him the recognition he felt he deserved for being such a great persecutor of Christians (assuming he ever really did persecute Christians).


Paul was there when Stephen was stoned, and he gave approval to it. Paul also asked for a letter to find out who in Damascus was a Christian so he could go arrest them. It also says Paul imprisoned many Christians. This doesn't sound like someone that wants to lead a revolute. You don't alienate the very people you are trying to lead. Even the person Paul went to was afraid to meet with him.

Now, you can say these events probably did not happen, but I think it's a lot more likely they did happen. The reason is because this would have to be a rather elaborate hoax for everyone to commit in order for it to work, and you don't see any hint of this occuring until probably the 19th or 20th century, which happens to coincide with Darwinism. To me it seems that people today look for ammunition to descredit Christianity, and they go reaching for things in hopes of showing it is wrong. If you ask well-known historians, I don't think they will doubt that these events took place, and this is the ones that aren't even Christians.

There was an interesting quote in a book I read that was attributed to a former director at NASA. I am paraphrasing here because I don't have the book in front of me. Science has been denying religious thought in hopes they would come to a naturalistic conclusion that is against the biblical creation. When science finally climbed the mountain of discovery to determine how the universe was created, they only realized that it was in line with biblical creation, and that the theologens were sitting on top of the mountain for centuries.
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