Monday, June 15, 2009

A Conspiracy of Lies

That’s what atheists say about the New Testament and particularly about Jesus’ followers - they lied about seeing the resurrected Jesus. Sure they did. And then they endured years of hardship and beatings and torture and ultimately death, all for a lie that they invented. Listen to someone who actually knows about being caught in a conspiracy.

“Watergate involved a conspiracy to cover up, perpetuated by the closest aides to the President of the United States - the most powerful men in America, who were intensely loyal to their president. But one of them, John Dean, turned state’s evidence, that is, testified against Nixon, as he put it, “to save his own skin” - and he did so only TWO WEEKS after informing the president about what was really going on - TWO WEEKS! The real cover-up, the lie, could only be held together for two weeks, and then everybody else jumped ship in order to save themselves. Now, the fact is that all that those around the president were facing was embarrassment, maybe prison. Nobody’s life was at stake. But what about the disciples? Twelve powerless men, peasants really, were facing not just embarrassment or political disgrace, but beatings, stoning, execution. Every single one of the disciples insisted, to their dying breaths, that they had physically seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead. Don’t you think that one of those apostles would have cracked before being beheaded or stoned? That one of them would have made a deal with the authorities? None did.” Chuck Colson.

13 comments:

PersonalFailure said...

I don't say it's lies, but I will say two things: it's been 2,000 years. We don't have the original writings, nor do we have any other eyewitness testimony, nor do we have any physical evidence to examine.

Beyond that, it is well known that acts of martyrdom encourage other acts of martyrdom. That's why we whisk terrorists to out of the way places never to be heard from again instead of publicly punishing them- because by martyring them, we'd just be encouraging other martyrs.

The example you chose was a bad comparison. Who's willing to martyr themselves for a corrupt politician? Nobody really. Everybody's willing to martyr themselves for god.

Beyond that, sincerity of belief is not proof that that belief is founded in fact. I've seen women cling, with fierce sincerity, to the belief that their husbands were not murderers or rapists. Solid physical evidence said otherwise.

Còmhradh said...

"That’s what atheists say about the New Testament and particularly about Jesus’ followers - they lied about seeing the resurrected Jesus."

This is false. I daresay it is actually a lie*.

The writers of the Old Testament were writing what they knew. None of them were actual eyewitnesses to the events that they described, and they were oftentimes writing allegorically, or writing in the fashion of the time which did not see a problem with embellishment or plagiarism. They wrote from myth into myth, and with a limited concept of science sought to explain their world.

The writer of Luke is no more a "liar" than any other fiction or mythology writer.

As for the comparison of Christianity to Watergate - while I find that humorous, I'm fairly certain no mass media existed in the First Century CE. There was no Bobimus Woodwardius taking notes in a chariot parking garage from "Deepicles Throaticus" Maricuius Feltvm.

Even had one of the disciples cracked under pressure (maybe by, I don't know, denying that he even knew Jesus THREE TIMES), it either wouldn't have made for good storytelling, or would have been passed off as torture-forced confession.

*I call it a lie because you must know better and are peddling this nonsense to advance your position against atheists. Interesting that you would stoop to the very thing you accuse others of.

Well, not interesting, actually. I'm quite used to this sort of behavior.

Makarios said...

Oh, good. I'm glad you're ok. I haven't seen any posts by you for awhile. Maybe I've just missed them.

"don't say it's lies, but I will say two things: it's been 2,000 years. We don't have the original writings,"

No, we don’t, but then we don’t have the originals for any works of antiquity. I was telling the guy who feels powerful because he eats bacon that regarding Alexander the Great, all we have are two small fragments from 150 years after his death. The rest is from 300 - 500 years after his death yet, that doesn’t make any difference to historical scholars who evaluate these works. They still believe that we know about the historical Alex the Great.

Here’s the thing Personal, and it’s important. The Gospels and Acts are cited by a SERIES of reports, regularly employed to establish authorship of secular works; and when this test is applied to the Gospels, their authenticity is firmly established. This “chain of testimony” (that’s important to historical scholars) exists from the Epistle of Barnabas (a contemporary of Jesus and His disciples), the Epistle of Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas, all the way to Eusebius.

In fact, as has been repeatedly stated, there is better testimony for the authenticity of the New Testament books than for ANY classical work of antiquity.
==============
“nor do we have any other eyewitness testimony,”

Well, then you ARE saying they’re liars. John says he was an eyewitness. Luke says he spoke to eyewitness and he is a good, good historian, even by secular standards. Paul says he was an eyewitness. Mark and Matthew obviously had eyewitness reports and they may have themselves been eyewitnesses.

We have 23 extra biblical sources who say they spoke to eyewitnesses. So how do YOU know there weren’t any, and please, I have a pretty high view of your intellect, please don’t refer me to youtube.
=========
“Beyond that, it is well known that acts of martyrdom encourage other acts of martyrdom.”

There’s a big, big difference between the martyrs of today -Those who are killed during the act of killing others - and Christian martyrs of all ages but esp. the early church - Those who were killed for what they believed, namely, Jesus Christ was crucified, died and was buried and on the third day He rose again. Or as Paul said it in 1st Corinthian 15:1-8 or thereabouts.
===========

“Who's willing to martyr themselves for a corrupt politician? Nobody really.”

Well, not martyr in a dying kind of way, but like Colson said, these guys couldn’t keep the lie going for even two weeks. And all they were looking at is embarrassment or perhaps a little prison time.
===========
“Everybody's willing to martyr themselves for god.”

Ah, but Personal, NOT for a god they know is a lie - THEIR LIE!
=========

“Beyond that, sincerity of belief is not proof that that belief is founded in fact. I've seen women cling, with fierce sincerity, to the belief that their husbands were not murderers or rapists. Solid physical evidence said otherwise.”

Oh, I know. I've worked with them. However, we’re not talking about a belief. We’re talking about THEIR testimony that got them tortured and killed. Testimony that, if you’re correct, THEY KNEW to be false. People just do not do that.

Makarios said...

Comhradh - I posted to Personl before I saw your comment. Thank you so much for bringing up the example of Peter. Here's a guy who denied Jesus three times, and for good reason I think. I haven't even seen someone whose been crucified (Peter would have)and I'd be ready to bail out at that stage.

But something happened. Something big happened. I don't know about you but it would take at the very least, a resurrection for me to make that kind of turn around.

Same for Jesus' brother James. He and his whole family thought Jesus was nuts. Yet we find ALL of them two months later, hanging with the rest of the disciples and proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. Why? What would make that dramatic difference? Again, only one thing that I can think of.

Còmhradh said...

"I haven't even seen someone whose been crucified (Peter would have)and I'd be ready to bail out at that stage.

But something happened. Something big happened. I don't know about you but it would take at the very least, a resurrection for me to make that kind of turn around."

That's the difference between you and I: it wouldn't take a miracle for me to stand up for my convictions.

I don't need to see Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi resurrected in order to preach nonviolence, and neither did their followers. Why is it so necessary for Jesus to be resurrected for Peter to grow a spine? Because in your story, it absolves him of the *need* for courage. Sure, he'd have to have a stiff upper lip for a bit, but who cares? Romans crucify him upside down, and he gets a cushy job working the door for eternity. Remember, Jesus though he was being forsaken by his god when he got nailed to the cross. Peter, he knew that bliss was around the corner.

I don't need the promise of eternal reward to do the right thing, even if it's obvious that doing the right thing is going to lead to suffering and death. It's the right thing.

Makarios said...

"it wouldn't take a miracle for me to stand up for my convictions."

How noble of you. The thing is, we aren't talking about those kind of convictions. We're talking about recognising Someone for who He claimed to be, God incarnate. Peter had mistakenly been expecting a very different kind of Messiah; one that would free the Jews from Roman rule and change the world.

It wasn't until after the resurrection and it was only because of the resurrection that Peter understood that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be.

That wouldn't work for you though because you don't believe in miracles. Remember? That's why Jesus said when talking about you, "Even when I rise from the dead, some still won't believe."
=========
"I don't need the promise of eternal reward to do the right thing,"

Oh paleez, You don't even live up to your own code of ethics.

Atheists simply don't or can't get it. Christians don't try to do the right thing in order to get some reward. Why? Because there isn't a person on earth who can be good enough to be good enough to merit eternity in heaven. The good that we do is for two basoc reasons:

a) God's Spirit, Who resides within us gives us love for others, and

b) We wish to please the One who loved us enough to die for us so that our sins could be forgiven.
Jesus said, "The one who loves Me is the one who obeys Me."

When you honestly love your spouse or partner, you try to do things that please h/her. It's the same here. I long to please my Lord and Saviour because He first loved me with such a love that words cannot express. He'll do the same for you, you know. All you have to do is let Him.

Còmhradh said...

"It wasn't until after the resurrection and it was only because of the resurrection that Peter understood that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be."

So Peter followed Jesus around for three years listening to him preach peace and love and harmony with all mankind, waiting, just waiting for Jesus to pull out a sword and kick the Romans out of Jerusalem? And it was only when Jesus did nothing to prevent his own death that Peter realized that Jesus was the messiah?

Huh, a coward and an idiot.

"Oh paleez, You don't even live up to your own code of ethics. "

Here we go again, guy on the internet that knows me better than I know myself.

"Christians don't try to do the right thing in order to get some reward."
"We wish to please the One who loved us enough to die for us so that our sins could be forgiven."

And yet, the majority of Christians of today bear so little resemblance to the Christ in your Bible.

Makarios said...

“So Peter followed Jesus around for three years listening to him preach peace and love and harmony with all mankind, waiting, just waiting for Jesus to pull out a sword and kick the Romans out of Jerusalem?”

Well, it seems that every religious Jew at the time was waiting for release from Roman rule / oppression. Those who didn't know Jesus were certainly expecting a violent rebellion. Which only added to the confusion of the disciples who, as you said, tried to comprehend how Jesus could be both the Messiah and be so dedicated to peace. Rome was certainly not going to leave the region because Jesus said, "Please." They didn’t “get” Jesus at all. One day when the people in general thought Jesus would become their King they were covering the road with Palm branches and coats. The very next day, when they saw him as weak and pitiful, on His way to be executed, when their expectations had been raised through the roof only to be dashed yet again, they wanted to be first in line to kill Him.
==========
“And it was only when Jesus did nothing to prevent his own death that Peter realized that Jesus was the messiah?”

No. Are you being disingenuous? Or do you really not get it? It was only when Jesus, who was obviously dead and buried, confronted Peter as the risen Christ, victorious over death as only God could do, that Peter and the other disciples (who by the way were sceptics of claims of His resurrection until physically confronted by Him) recognised who Jesus really really was. Peter and the others ate with, walked and talked with Jesus for over a month after His resurrection. The change in them from cowards, hiding behind locked doors to fearless men testifying what they’d seen was so dramatic I can only think of one conclusion.

Was Peter an idiot? You aren’t the first to say so. All of them, really, come off as pretty dull and Jesus said as much to them on a few occasions.
=============
"Oh paleez, You don't even live up to your own code of ethics. " Here we go again, guy on the internet that knows me better than I know myself.”

The thing is, NONE of us, not a single person in the world lives up to our own standards of conduct; certainly not the standard by which we judge others. You’ll notice from your own excuses that you judge others by their behaviours but you judge yourself by your intentions. You’ll justify your “little” lies and so on. And if you tell me that you NEVER lie that would be just one more to add to your list. You’re right, I don’t know you per se, but I do know human nature.
===========
“And yet, the majority of Christians of today bear so little resemblance to the Christ in your Bible.”

Yes I know. It’s a true embarrassment and disgrace. I don’t think anyone hated hypocrites as much as Jesus. He was absolutely livid with rage at those who said one thing but did another. Like you He was incensed with the religious leaders of the day. On the other hand, Jesus showed tremendous mercy toward those who were probably “worse sinners” both quantitatively and qualitatively, yet were searching with an open mind for something better in life.

“I have not come to save those who think they are righteous. I’ve come to save those who know and admit they are not righteous.”

The thing is, everything that humans touch turns to crap, including religion. On the other hand, it would be wrong to judge Tiger Woods by how I play golf after watching one of his dvd's or Mozart by how I play his music.

Jesus doesn’t need me or anyone else to make excuses for Him. And neither you nor I will have to answer for anyone else’s behaviours save our own.

Còmhradh said...

"They didn’t “get” Jesus at all."

You're not holding this Peter guy up as a shining example of Christianity here. You're basically telling me that the Rock, who followed Jesus around for three years of poverty, foraging to live, and constant sermons about how we should all be excellent to each other had no idea that Jesus wasn't going to deal with the Romans? Then you say that the only thing that really solidified his conviction was watching Jesus crucified and supposedly resurrected*, but even after that, had to be told repeatedly by Jesus how exactly to act. Well, that makes a bit of sense, considering your take that he spent three years not listening to Jesus. Not the best guy to have lead your movement, though, so who's the bigger fool here?

* - I say supposedly, because even if you take all of the other fluff in the mythology to be true, this one doesn't stand up to any sort of scrutiny. Crucifixion, as Monty Python explained, is a horribly long process that oftentimes took days to die... and wasn't always a death sentence! There are a number of recorded cases of people being crucified for a set amount of time, perhaps a day, and then being let go. Sure, chances are good that infection would then kill you, but the point here is that Jesus lingered on for three whole hours, which by crucifixion standards was a walk in the park. But again, we're talking about Stone Age writers attempting to explain their world with a limited understanding of the way it actually works. Had I no knowledge of such things, and I saw a guy nailed to a tree one day and wandering around a few days later, I might think "HE ROSE FROM THE DEEEEAD!"

-----
"The thing is, NONE of us, not a single person in the world lives up to our own standards of conduct"

I guess that would require you to know my standard of conduct in order to pass that assessment, now wouldn't it? So there you go, claiming to know me again. If only I had a dime for every time someone had claimed that...

-----

“And yet, the majority of Christians of today bear so little resemblance to the Christ in your Bible.”
"Yes I know. It’s a true embarrassment and disgrace."

And your contribution is a daily screed about how horrible and deluded atheists are. Speck and plank, Makarios, speck and plank.

Makarios said...

“You're not holding this Peter guy up as a shining example of Christianity here. You're basically telling me that the Rock . . .,”

It’s empirically evident that Jesus took a band of nobodies, and changed the course of history with them.
=============
“had no idea that Jesus wasn't going to deal with the Romans?”

How could he know that? The Jews of the time had one expectation and one expectation only for the Messiah. Freedom from oppression. Jesus came to bring them freedom from oppression alright but it was spiritual freedom, not physical.
============
“Then you say that the only thing that really solidified his conviction was watching Jesus crucified and supposedly resurrected*,”

Well, YOU explain -
.The tomb was empty
.The disciples went from cowards to fearless
.The sceptic Paul went from Christian killer to disciple
.The sceptic and brother of Jesus, James went from thinking his brother insane to worshiping him as God
.The existence of the Christian Church.
These are historical facts. I say only the resurrection explains ALL of them. You say . . .?
===========

Comhradh, they didn’t get it and it’s doubtful if you and I would have been any different. Think about! Your best friend tells you that next week he is going to die. He tells you which religious leaders are going to kill him. AND he says that three days later he will rise again from the dead. Would you understand it? Not hardly.
=============
“but even after that, had to be told repeatedly by Jesus how exactly to act.”

Prior to the resurrection we have Peter, a man who took out a sword and tried to kill someone. After the resurrection and after being indwelt by the very Spirit of Jesus we have a “new creation” who encouraged others toward a life of peace even in the face of some of the most brutal persecution humans have ever known. We know from extra Biblical accounts that Peter lived what he wrote.
========
“Not the best guy to have lead your movement,”

I would say the results were quite dramatic. Within a few years Rome adopted Christianity as the national religion and today it numbers over 2 billion strong.
===========
“There are a number of recorded cases of people being crucified for a set amount of time, perhaps a day, and then being let go.”

There is ONE case of two people being taken down from the cross after it was found they’d been wrongly accused. There are zero cases of anyone surviving a Roman flogging AND a Roman execution.

The medical evidence is overwhelming that Jesus was dead as dead can be when He was taken from the cross.
===========
“But again, we're talking about Stone Age writers attempting to explain their world with a limited understanding of the way it actually works.”

Out of all the things that are written about Jesus’ final day, few are explained as clearly and accurately has his death. Water and blood do not come gushing out of a person’s chest cavity, after being run though with a spear if the person is still living. That is a post mortem phenomenon. If you want, I’ll give you a couple descriptions from secular pathologists explaining that Jesus was incontrovertibly dead.
===============
“I guess that would require you to know my standard of conduct in order to pass that assessment, now wouldn't it?”

No, actually. It wouldn’t.
I've worked in the federal prison system for ten years. I've met some of the worst that humanity can offer. Yet every single one of them had some code of ethics by which they attempted to live.
===========
"And your contribution is a daily screed about how horrible and deluded atheists are. Speck and plank, Makarios, speck and plank."

Horrible? No, I’ve never said that. You might be a “better” person than I am.

Deluded? Absolutely.

Còmhradh said...

"It’s empirically evident that Jesus..."

About the only thing you could truthfully finish that sentence with is "...is a common Hispanic name."

------

“had no idea that Jesus wasn't going to deal with the Romans?”

"How could he know that?"

Maybe by listening. Where in the Bible does Jesus say "and after I've convinced everyone to be nice people, I'm going to murder all the Romans!"?

------

"Well, YOU explain -
.The tomb was empty"

He wasn't dead.

".The disciples went from cowards to fearless"

He wasn't dead and convinced them that his message was more important than his or any of their lives

".The sceptic Paul went from Christian killer to disciple"

Conversions happen all the time.

".The sceptic and brother of Jesus, James went from thinking his brother insane to worshiping him as God"
.The existence of the Christian Church.
. I say only the resurrection explains ALL of them. You say . . .?"

I say that this application of logic also explicitly validates every other religion on the planet. Is that really what you're arguing?

------

"These are historical facts."

No, they are not. There is not one piece of corroborating evidence to suggest that Jesus lived or died as he is described in the Bible. He is, at best, a pastiche of various historical and mythological figures. Describing the Bible as "fact" is disingenuous or an outright lie. Funny that, considering this thread started when you called atheists a pack of liars.

------

"Think about! Your best friend tells you that next week he is going to die. He tells you which religious leaders are going to kill him. AND he says that three days later he will rise again from the dead. Would you understand it? Not hardly."

I think I'd apply a little logic to the situation rather than blindly believing such a ridiculous claim.

------

"I would say the results were quite dramatic. Within a few years Rome adopted Christianity as the national religion and today it numbers over 2 billion strong."

with 38,000 different recognized denominations, few, if any, of whom can agree on which is correct, as well as hodge-podge syncretic variations such as Santeria and Christian Wicca. And then there's the tendency for members of one group to deny that members of another group are actually Christian. Peter did a bang-up job there, huh?

------

"Out of all the things that are written about Jesus’ final day, few are explained as clearly and accurately has his death"

Really? And what were his last words, again?

------

"If you want, I’ll give you a couple descriptions from secular pathologists explaining that Jesus was incontrovertibly dead."

Can you attach Bill Frist's video diagnosis of Terry Schiavo with that report, too?

------

“I guess that would require you to know my standard of conduct in order to pass that assessment, now wouldn't it?”

"No, actually. It wouldn’t.
I've worked in the federal prison system for ten years. I've met some of the worst that humanity can offer. Yet every single one of them had some code of ethics by which they attempted to live."

And that somehow qualifies you to asses my standard of conduct and declare that I'm not living up to it? Surely, you could make quite a living as a psychiatrist, or perhaps a pay-per-minute psychic.

------

"Horrible? No, I’ve never said that."

You certainly aren't charitable. Or honest.

Makarios said...

"He wasn't dead."
Do you really not know the forensic evidence described? Or are you just ignoring it?
===========
"He wasn't dead and convinced them that his message was more important than his or any of their lives"
. Here is a man who had been flogged, from which many people died
. Here is a man that was in hypothalamic shock from blood loss from the flogging
. Here was a man who had been crucified, nailed hands and feet and run through with a spear
. One proof of His death is that water and blood came gushing out of His chest cavity after being thrust through with a Roman spear. When a Roman soldier was told to make sure a criminal was dead, he would do exactly that.
. Here is a man who had been wrapped in a hundred + pounds of spices and a hundred yards of linen - this includes his head so if he hadn’t been dead He would have certainly suffocated.
.Here is a man who spent at least 50 + hours in an ice cold tomb
.Here is a man who was sealed in the tomb with a two ton rock
And YOUR supposition is that He somehow
. survived the flogging,
. survived the blood loss
. survived the crucifixion
. survived the stabbing of the spear through his heart and chest cavity,
. He undid more than a 100 yards of linen wrapping (even though it was discovered as it had been lain, as like a cocoon),
. Moved a two ton stone,
. Snuck past guards and
. Walked several miles into town on crushed ankles and
. Appeared before His disciples as a victor over death; a victor over death to such an extraordinary degree that they went to their deaths proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection and power over death.

Is that what you’re saying?
==========
“Conversions happen all the time.”
Yes, but only when people encounter the real Jesus.
==========

"I say that this application of logic also explicitly validates every other religion on the planet."
How so?
============
“There is not one piece of corroborating evidence to suggest that Jesus lived or died as he is described in the Bible.”
Are you ready? It’s too long for this type of reply so I’ll give it to you in a new post. I’ll call it Comhradh, just for you.
==========
“Funny that, considering this thread started when you called atheists a pack of liars.”
Where did I say that?
------
“I think I'd apply a little logic to the situation rather than blindly believing such a ridiculous claim.”
Yes, and so did they. None of them believed that Jesus had risen from the dead until they couldn’t do that any more because they were confronted with the reality of a Jesus who was obviously alive and not as some barely living survivor of torture.
------
“with 38,000 different recognized denominations,
And what does that mean to you?
==========
“Really? And what were his last words, again?”
I’m talking about the physical details of His death. However, I would say His last ‘important’ words were, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit." And if He hadn’t been nailed down I imagine it would have been with a fist pumped into the air as He cried, "It’s finished!”
And THAT is why, seeing the unusual way in which Jesus died, that the Roman guard gasped,
“Surely this man WAS the Son of God.”
========
"And that somehow qualifies you to asses my standard of conduct and declare that I'm not living up to it? Surely, you could make quite a living as a psychiatrist,"
That’s exactly how I made my living; working in the field of Mental Health.
------
You certainly aren't charitable. Or honest.
Saying that you may very well be a better person than I isn’t being charitable? Well, I’m honest enough to admit that I’m not nearly as honest as I should or want to be.

Còmhradh said...

"Do you really not know the forensic evidence described? Or are you just ignoring it?"

What forensic evidence? Show me one scrap of physical evidence to suggest that any of this actually happened.

-----

“Conversions happen all the time.”
"Yes, but only when people encounter the real Jesus."

So, when Cat Stevens converted to Islam, he did so because he encountered the real Jesus? That makes no sense whatsoever.

-----

"I say that this application of logic also explicitly validates every other religion on the planet."
"How so?"

You held forth the existence of the Christian church and the conversion of a former skeptic as proofs for Jesus. This can be applied to every religion. Therefore, it must prove those religions. Show me how:

A former skeptic now believes in Jesus + the Christian church existing = proof of Jesus

Does not equal

A former skeptic now believes in Mohammed + the Muslim church existing = proof of Mohammed

-----

“There is not one piece of corroborating evidence to suggest that Jesus lived or died as he is described in the Bible.”
"Are you ready? It’s too long for this type of reply so I’ll give it to you in a new post."

Oh, yes. I'm exicted to see what research you have that proves that Jesus actually existed... considering scholars through the ages so far have no come up with any.

-----

“with 38,000 different recognized denominations,
"And what does that mean to you?"

It means that your "rock" wasn't a very stable foundation. If Jesus was the true son of your all-powerful god, you'd have more than 1/3 of the world's population in your camp, and all of them would agree on your points of faith.

-----

“Really? And what were his last words, again?”
"I’m talking about the physical details of His death."

Oh, ok. Keep moving those goal posts.

-----

"However, I would say His last ‘important’ words were, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.""

So all the other stuff he said was not important? Interesting. Which other quotes from Jesus do you consider not important?

-----

"Well, I’m honest enough to admit that I’m not nearly as honest as I should or want to be."

But not honest enough to stop making claims that you have to know aren't true.