Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is Talking to Atheists Hopeless?

The evolution of atheist thought is interesting to watch.
. First it’s - “Jesus was just a man.”
PROBLEM: documents from antiquity show that some very “other” things took place during the life of Jesus.

. Then it’s - “There are no extra Biblical documents referring to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Show me even one and I’ll change my mind.”
PROBLEM: As it turns out there are dozens of extra Biblical references to Jesus from the time of Jesus and /or his disciples, from both friend and enemy alike.

. So it’s - “Well, you can’t trust that information. If it comes from an eyewitness, I won’t accept it because I declare that eyewitness testimony isn’t reliable. If it comes from a student or close associate of the eyewitness I won’t accept that either because I declare that it’s hearsay and hearsay isn’t reliable either.”

. Finally it’s - Jesus didn’t even exist.
I don’t know what Oy Vey means, but I think it might fit here. I just read today, “A fanatic is one who entrenches himself in invincible ignorance.” That certainly fits most of the atheists with whom I’ve spoken regarding the life of Jesus.

So the atheist boasts to h/herself, “Now that I’ve effectively eliminated any evidence that disagrees with my world-view, I solemnly declare that I will fearlessly follow the evidence regardless of where it might lead.”

This kind of retreating and changing of boundaries and definitions goes on and on and on in the atheist’s world. Reality is, if you debate with an atheist, that person will reject offer after offer. On the other hand, ask an atheist what evidence s/he would consider reliable regarding the life of Jesus and the silence that follows will extend on into infinity. That’s because the atheist’s rejection of Jesus has nothing to do with evidence or the lack thereof. The rejection of Jesus is a choice that is made regardless of evidence. Some have said, “If Jesus appeared in front of me, then I’d believe.” The fact is, the atheist would NOT believe if Jesus just appeared in front of h/her. That type of event would entail and miracle and atheists do not believe in miracles. If Jesus appeared the atheist would come up with a naturalistic explanation for seeing Jesus and that would be the end of it.

The only point that I can see, in talking to atheists on the net is that there might be someone who is an honest seeker listening in. For the rest? Well, as the saying goes, “The gates of hell are locked from the inside.”

52 comments:

Transplanted Lawyer said...

I appreciate and understand your perspective, but I still disagree with you. The contemporaneous evidence of Jesus' existence is sketchy at best.

As it turns out there are dozens of extra Biblical references to Jesus from the time of Jesus and /or his disciples, from both friend and enemy alike.

What are they? I'm an enthusiast for history from this period, and I would be curious to read them. I've read Josephus and Tacitus and the passages from them are at minimum subject to very substantial criticism.

...ask an atheist what evidence s/he would consider reliable regarding the life of Jesus and the silence that follows will extend on into infinity.

A Roman record of the crucifixion would do nicely. If it happened, such a thing existed, at least at one time. The Romans were impressive bureaucrats who took their law and order very seriously. Jesus was tried before Pilate, according to the Gospels; where, then, is the document he allegedly gave to the Sanhedrin authorizing the crucifixion of Jesus? Such a document has never been found.

If Jesus appeared the atheist would come up with a naturalistic explanation for seeing Jesus and that would be the end of it.

If someone who called himself Jesus presented himself to me, my first reaction would be to think he was a lunatic. If someone seemed to appear before me out of thin air, yes, my first instinct would be to think that I was on the receiving end of some kind of illusion -- and yours would be, too.

If someone performed a real, honest-to-goodness miracle in front of my very eyes, and not some sleight-of-hand or other illusion, I agree that I'd have to re-evaluate my thinking. But that doesn't mean that I'd believe anything that someone claims to be a "miracle;" whether you're an atheist or a Christian or something else, you shouldn't should leave your mind so open that your brain falls out. An extraordinary claim (e.g., "cancer can be cured with prayer") requires extraordinary evidence.

The rejection of Jesus is a choice that is made regardless of evidence.

My experience has been that this statement is at least equally true for the proposition of accepting Jesus. There are also plenty of closed-minded Christians who refuse to consider the possibility that maybe the "evidence" they point to is not as compelling as they'd prefer it to be.

I also see a lot of similar closed-mindedness from (some) Christians about scientific evidence for evolution -- but I haven't read enough of your blog to determine your stance on that issue and your post isn't really about evolution.

Rather, your post is an argument that atheists are foolishly closed-minded about not accepting Jesus in light of the evidence. My response to that is, aren't we asked to accept Jesus on faith? The apostle Thomas was criticized for his skepticism about encountering the resurrected Jesus. So it seems to me that if I were interested in being Christian, whatever evidence you cared to offer me would be irrelevant. If you have evidence that I should "accept" Jesus, then if I do so only after reviewing and accpeting your evidence, that isn't really faith, is it?

JD Curtis said...

The contemporaneous evidence of Jesus' existence is sketchy at best. That's an interesting theory. I'm not aware of a single, credible historian who would doubt His existance but, moving on...

I've read Josephus and Tacitus and the passages from them are at minimum subject to very substantial criticism.

Re: Josephus, I'm sure youre referencing the "Christ" reference from The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, chapter 3, section 3. I was just reading this earlier today......
"This passage is viciously attacked by skeptics, Why would Josephus, a general and a Jewish priest, ever write something like this? Therefore it must be interpoliation, inserted into The Antiquities of the Jews by some Christian at a later date. Yet not a strand of evidence backs up this idea. Every single manuscript of The Antiquities of the Jews, without exception, contains that passage."

D James Kennedy, Skeptics Answered pg 77, 1997, Multnomah Books

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Well, that's easy -- when were these manuscripts created? If they were created after the early 300's, then they were the product of Eusebius, who not only had both the means, motive and opportunity to have made the interpolation in "definitive" copies of Josephus, but also who considered fraud in the name of advancing the faith to be morally justified.

Makarios said...

What are they?

http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/08/not-again.html
===========
A Roman record of the crucifixion would do nicely.

To say that the Romans kept a record of every one of the 10 - 20,000 executions of criminals that were carried out is ridiculous. Jesus was no body to the Romans. And even if a record of His execution was kept, that a 2,000 year old document is still in existence is remote at best. Nevertheless in the above post I give you a reference to “The Lives of the Caesars.”

JD Curtis said...

So in other words, no, you can't supply a single shred of evidence that this WAS interpoliation other than conjecture and speculation.

We still have to address the two other Jewish accounts of Jesus, the accounts of nineteen different pagan writers and then there are the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. There's far more evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead than Alexander the Great ever lived and almost nobody questions that. If youre a lawyer, then have you ever heard of a scholar named Simon Greenleaf?

Gorth Satana said...

"There's far more evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead than Alexander the Great ever lived and almost nobody questions that."

That's ridiculous. Completely ridiculous.

Makarios said...

The amount of evidence that we have concerning Jesus is actually very impressive. We can start with approximately nine traditional authors of the New Testament. Another twenty early Christian authors, and four heretical writings mention Jesus within 150 years of His death on the cross. Moreover, nine secular, non-Christian sources mention Jesus within the 150 years of His death: Josephus, the Jewish historian; Tacitus, the Roman historian; Pliny the Younger, a politician of Rome; Phlegon, a freed slave who wrote histories; Lucian, the Greek satirist; Celsus, a Roman philosopher; and the historians Suetonius and Thallus, as well as the prisoner Mara Bar-Serapion. In all, at least forty-two authors, nine of them secular mention Jesus within 150 years of his death. Why am I telling you this? Let me make a comparison.

Julius Caesar, was one of Rome’s most prominent figures. Caesar is well known for his military conquests. After his Gallic Wars, he made the famous statement, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Only five sources report his military conquests: writings by Caesar himself, Cicero, Livy, the Salona Decree and Appian. If he made such a great impact on Roman society why didn’t more writers of antiquity mention his great accomplishments? Yet no one questions whether Julius made a tremendous impact on the Roman Empire. Yet within 150 years of his death, more non-Christian authors alone comment on Jesus than all of the sources who mentions Julius Caesar’s great military conquests within 150 years after his death.

One more example. Tiberius Caesar was the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus’ ministry and execution. Tiberius is mentioned by ten sources within 150 years of his death: Tacitus, Suetonius, Velleius Paterculus, Plutarch, Pliny the Elder, Strabo, Seneca, Valerius Maximus, Josephus and Luke. Compare that to Jesus’ forty-two sources in the same length of time. That’s more than four times the number of total sources who mention the Roman emperor during roughly the same period. If we only considered the number of secular non-Christian sources who mention Jesus and Tiberius within 150 years of their lives, we arrive at a tie of nine each.

Flute said...

Makarios, I have a feeling I've read that before.
Ah, yes.
Unless you wrote "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus" most people would consider that plagiarism.

Gorth Satana said...

Lighten up Flute.
Plagiarism is fun.

Why we know Alexander the Great existed:
Because others, contemporaries wrote about him.
Because of coins issued with his portrait, during his reign.
Because of his conquest of the Persian empire.
His entries in India. The mutiny of his soldiers there.
Because his generals existed too, became kings in their own right, and are well documented.

But the basic facts are clear. There is for instance archaeological evidence for the burning of the palace at Persepolis. More importantly, his conquests left dynasties in his wake. The dynasty of Ptolemy, for instance, continued to rule Egypt up to the time of Cleopatra. This period is known as the Hellenistic Era.

For Jesus, on the other hand, there is no conclusive evidence to back the literal interpretation of the Bible. For instance, the story that after the crucifixion the dead rose up and walked through the streets of Jerusalem (Matthew 27:53) is backed up by no external commentator. One might have thought that for dead ‘saints’ to stalk the streets of a major city of the Roman Empire would have excited some comment.

The text we are supposed to have received from Josephus is now known to have been edited in later centuries, and scholars are divided as to whether Josephus actually wrote about him at all.

The difference between Jesus and Alexander is that Jesus is a historically trivial figure, whose actual life affected his world in small ways if indeed he existed at all. Had Jesus worship not emerged from a pack of competing religions in the fourth century, he would not today be remembered. Alexander, on the other hand, commanded tens of thousands of men, and conquered an Empire stretching from Corfu to Karachi. It is hardly surprising if his real historical legacy looms rather larger.

Incidentally, according to some sources he also claimed to be the son of God, or at least the son of a God. Whilst at Siwa, Egyptian priests are supposed to have told him he was the son of Amun.

And one piece of evidence for Alexander can be found in the Book of Daniel. In Chapter 8, one of the usual tedious metaphors is, unusually, explained. It describes a Greek king, and Biblical apologists like to claim that it refers to Alexander.

Stephen Jay Gould school claimed that religion and scholarship occupied separate, non-overlapping worlds. I don’t agree with this view, but it would help the case for it if religious buttinskis didn’t keep shoving their noses into subjects they clearly aren’t qualified to discuss.

(I didn't even read what I cut and pasted)

His Lordship said...
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Makarios said...

"Jesus was no body to the Romans."

Did you just say that your Lord and Savior was a nobody?

You stopped the sentence three words too early.
===========
The Sanhedrin had full authority to try that case -and even had the authority to perform the execution themselves"

Where do you get THAT from ?

Makarios said...

Unless you wrote "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus" most people would consider that plagiarism.

Page number please.

Gorth Satana said...

I'll see if I can beat Flute.
The passage starts on page 127.

Gorth Satana said...

And to prove it, the sentence before it is:
"Only fragments have been preserved, mostly by Eusebius."

I win!

Jared said...

Wait, hang on, "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus," is that the book that say something about only having five sources written about Julius Caesar?

Gorth Satana said...

Almost.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Makarios, thank you for citing your sources. Most apologetics do not bother to do that. I've sourced your scholarship, and respectfully, I've found it wanting. Reviewing the bulk of it, however, was very enjoyable.

I think our difference of opinion comes from the definition of what a "contemporaneous" writing is -- you seem to think that something written within 150 years of the events described in the Gospels is "contemporaneous" and it seems to me that it is not. If I wrote about events that took place in the 1860's, we'd call that "history," and that's how we should look at the vast bulk of your sources.

Lordship, it is my impression that the Romans reserved crucifixion to themselves; the Sanhedrin were not permitted to use that form of execution under the Roman occupation. One of the sources Makarios cites is a Talmudic analysis of writings from that era, and the Sanhedrin do not consider themselves to have authority to crucify.

JD, I don't know that Josephus was edited by Eusebius. I know that Eusebius had the means, motive, and opportunity to do it and by accident of the historical record, copies of Josephus made under his authority became the "definitive" versins. I also know that Josephus wasn't the most reliable of sources to begin with. But even if we assume Eusebius was a faithful scholar who resisted the temptation to "help" Josephus out, it still wouldn't be contemporaneous evidence of the events of the Gospels.

As for Alexander the Great, there's tens of thousands of coins minted with his picture, and huge amounts of contemporaneous (meaning written while Alexander was still alive) documents discussing him and the logistical efforts needed to support his activities. Sure, he became a figure of legend after his death - so did George Washington.

And there are more than five historians who wrote of Caesar's conquests in Gaul (and many other activities of Caesar). Atticus, Cicero, Cato, and other contemporaries all wrote about it in correspondence and letters, as did a whole population of literate and intensely concerned Romans. Oh, and you can actually go to France and still see the physical remains of Caesar's seigeworks at Alise-Sainte-Reine.

JD Curtis said...

Sorry, I'm only aware of Arian who wrote of Alexander about 400 years after the fact.

1. Does the number of people who wrote of Alexander exceed the number 49?

2. Is the historical distance from which they relate the claimed events closer or later than that of the gospels?

Anonymous said...

I have been reading through past posts and comments, and have come to the conclusion that this entire blog is a beautifully crafted train wreck.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

JD, the proposition we are discussing is the historical evidence for Jesus, not the historical evidence for Alexander. And I think that you're ignoring Nearchus, Ptolemy, Clietarchus, and Aristoboulus, Callisthenes -- whose contemporary writings I concede in advance have been lost and therefore who can only be studied in secondary sources like Arrian, Plutarch, and Curtius Rufus -- Callipus of Cyzicus, hundreds of official decrees recording instructions sent back to places like Athens, Ephesus, and Corinth from the absent king, as well as (in addition to what Gorth wrote about) dozens of structures built by Alexander scattered across Alexander's domains and the remains of battle sites with arrowheads, weapons, and skeletal remains of dead soldiers, allowing archaeology to contribute to the ample historical record in a way that has no cognate in Jesus' story. As for the lost manuscripts of Callisthenes, as Makarios himself points out, "that a 2,000 year old document is still in existence is remote at best."

But the status of the historical record of Alexander the Great is not relevant to this discussion, and you've proven nothing about Jesus by questioning primary sources for Alexander. That argument is a red herring and a distraction from what Makarios originally wrote about -- which is whether atheists are reasonable to reject belief in Christ in the face of the myriad historical documents he claims exist to "prove" the Christian mythology. At best, the argument about Alexander is one that says "Secondary sources can be considered reliable as well," which is a proposition that no reasonable person would disagree with.

But there is also no question that secondary sources are not as highly-valued as primary sources. Makarios referred us to a list of Examination of those documents that he claimed were primary sources and they turn out to be secondary or even tertiary sources. They also turn out to not contain the kind of direct reports as they were represented to have had. The relevant evidence, in other words, is not nearly as strong as Makarios would have the credulous reader believe.

To the neutral reader observing this discussion, I would urge you to go look up Makarios' sources and decide for yourself.

JD, since you've chosen to attack the historical record of someone who lived centuries before Jesus rather than defending the historical record for Jesus himself, that is a concession on your part that the actual subject of inquiry -- the allegedly contemporaneous records of Jesus and his ministry -- is something which you would rather not defend. In my first post on this topic, I wrote: "There are also plenty of closed-minded Christians who refuse to consider the possibility that maybe the "evidence" they point to is not as compelling as they'd prefer it to be." So thank you for proving that point for me, JD.

I also notice that no one at all has responded to the last question I asked in response to Makarios' proposition: "If you have evidence that I should 'accept' Jesus, then if I do so only after reviewing and accepting your evidence, that isn't really faith, is it?" I was really hoping for a response to that point and no one has addressed that point at all.

I'd look forward to Makarios rebutting my criticism of his evidence (which at least was on point), and I'd look forward to an apologetic explaining to me why any of this "evidence" is relevant to the "faith" that Christianity demands of me. Further discussion of Alexander, however, is not something that I would consider responsive to the issue at hand.

With that, I've said all that I have to say here. So you all can have the last word if you wish it.

Makarios said...

TL, I give this in reply to your question, not because it will change you or any of the atheists who pass through here. I give this in case someone else, someone open-minded and genuinely wanting to learn is listening in.

http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-would-that-be.html

Makarios said...

If you read my post again, you will see that I was describing an evolution of thought, an evolution designed to move the line of defence so as to never need to accept the historical reality of Jesus. Point number two of my post addresses what you are trying to do here. i.e., There is no extra Biblical documentary evidence for Jesus, moves to, well this isn't the right kind of evidence and so on and so on.

Transplanted Lawyer said...

Okay, I wanted to leave this alone but I can’t in good conscience let that last point sit without response.

I'm not the one moving the goal posts here. That would be Makarios.

I'm the one insisting on an invariable metric for evaluating evidence – the metric defined in the original post. Makarios is the one who has unilaterally changed the evidentiary threshold "from the time of Jesus and /or his disciples" to "within 150 years of His [Jesus'] death on the cross." Those are different standards. I’m only holding Makarios’ evidence to the standard he originally set for himself.

Makarios made this claim in his original post:

As it turns out there are dozens of extra Biblical references to Jesus from the time of Jesus and /or his disciples, from both friend and enemy alike.

His source material was identified by way of reference to a post he made in August:

http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/08/not-again.html

So, I analyzed the sources set forth in that earlier post to see if indeed they were indeed "extra Biblical references to Jesus from the time of Jesus and /or his disciples". My results are reported here at my own blog:

http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com/2009/09/sourcing-apologetics.html

Makarios originally defined "evidence" as a source dating "from the time of Jesus and /or his disciples." Not a single one of his sources meets that definition. More than half his sources are from the twentieth century.

So at least in this exchange, it is the apologist, not the skeptic, who has suffered an “evolution” in standards of proof. My standard of proof has remained constant – and that standard is the one which Makarios set out at the beginning of the exchange.

Now, I promised I would give Makarios the last word, and barring further obfuscations like the one I’ve just cleared up, I will make good on that promise.

JD Curtis said...

I'm not conceding anything TL. I merely stated that there is more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ than the existance of Alexander the Great.

So far I have heard, Arian, (400 years after the fact)

Nearchus was a sailor in charge of some ships, not a historian or writer. (Unless he left behind some books that I don't know about. We know of him through Arrian also.)

Ptolemy was a general of Alexander's. For arguements sake, let's assume that he left behind writings re: Alexander.

Clietarchus. I move that we throw him off the list. From his Wiki entry...."Quintilian (Instit. x. I. 74) credits him with more ability than trustworthiness, and Cicero (Brutus, II) accuses him of giving a fictitious account of the death of Themistocles. But there is no doubt that his history was very popular, and much used by Diodorus Siculus, Quintus Curtius, Justin and Plutarch, and the authors of the Alexander romances. His unnatural and exaggerated style became proverbial...
His work, completely lost, has survived only in some thirty fragments preserved by ancient authors, especially by Aelian and Strabo." Specious at best.

Aristobulus of Cassandreia. apparently Arrian referenced him, although his works have been lost. Lets leave him on the list for now.

Callisthenes. Ditto, much like the above. Lost works, later references attributed to him.

So do you concede that, given there are 49 DIFFERENT SOURCES documenting the existance of Jesus Christ, (the majority of which proclaim his resurrection) AND YOU ONLY HAVE 4 that this trumps your evidence for Alexander the Great or are you completely daft, blind and close-minded?

Gorth Satana said...

Why we know Alexander the Great existed:
Because others, contemporaries wrote about him.
Because of coins issued with his portrait, during his reign.
Because of his conquest of the Persian empire.
His entries in India. The mutiny of his soldiers there.
Because his generals existed too, became kings in their own right, and are well documented.

But the basic facts are clear. There is for instance archaeological evidence for the burning of the palace at Persepolis. More importantly, his conquests left dynasties in his wake. The dynasty of Ptolemy, for instance, continued to rule Egypt up to the time of Cleopatra. This period is known as the Hellenistic Era
.

JD Curtis said...

Speaking of coins, Mak, have you heard that they now have coins with the likeness of Joseph on it that were found in Egypt? Perhaps this will go down as another example of skeptical idiots, spouting off factual nonsense proving they have no clue what they are talking about such as those who dismissed out of hand the existances of Nineveh, Assyria, the Hittites Nehemiah's Wall and King Saul, simply because they were first known only through the scriptures.

JD Curtis said...

Just for snickers and giggles, I googled the words [archaeological discovery disproves Bible] and guess what? NOTHING, thats what. Try it yourself if youre interested. Nothing there disproves the Bible.

His Lordship said...
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His Lordship said...
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Makarios said...

Why did they do a whole lot of things?

. No trials were to occur during the night hours before the morning sacrifice
. Trials were not to occur on the eve of a Sabbath or during festivals
. All trials were to be public; secret trials were forbidden
. All trials were to be held in the Hall of Judgment in the temple area
. Capital cases required a minimum of twenty-three judges
. An accused person could not testify against himself
. Someone wa required to speak on behalf of the accused
. Conviction required the testimony of two or three witness to be in perfect alignment.
. Witnesses for the prosecution were to be examined and cross-examined extensively
. Capital cases were to follow a strict order, beginning with arguments by the defense, then argumetns for conviction
. All Sanhedrin judges could argue for acquittal, but not all could argue for conviction
. The high priest should not participate in the questioning
. Each witness in a captial case was to be examined individually, not in the presence of other witnesses.
. the testimony of two witnesses found to ber in contradiction rendered both invalid.
. Voting for conviction and sentencing in a captial case was to be conducted individually, beginning with the youngest, so younger members would not be influenced by the voting of the elder members
. Verdicts in capital cases were to be handed down only during daylight hours
. The members of the Sanhedrin were to meet in pairs all night, discuss the case, and reconvene for the purpose of cinfirming the final verdict and imposing sentence
. Sentencing in a capital case was not to occur until the following day.
Now are you going to say that because there was a gross miscarriage of justice, none of this happened? Do you do the same today? When you hear about a miscarriage of justice today, do you say, “The trial never happened”?

Of course not! For me, one of the most irritating and frustrating things about atheists is that they talk about how logical, reasonable and honest they are yet they judge any documents dealing with Jesus completely different than they do for other works of antiquity.

Reality is, Jesus went through six trials, three before the Jewish religious authorities and three before the civil authorities of Rome. Every single one of them was illegal.

Gorth Satana said...

"For me, one of the most irritating and frustrating things about atheists is that they talk about how logical, reasonable and honest they are yet they judge any documents dealing with Jesus completely different than they do for other works of antiquity."

There are many many works of antiquity that claim various gods did this and that, that various people were demigods/gods or supernatural events happened. It's YOU that has the double standard when judging these documents.

JD Curtis said...

There are many many works of antiquity that claim various gods did this and that, that various people were demigods/gods or supernatural events happened. It's YOU that has the double standard when judging these documents.

Sure. Archaeology has been a friend to the Bible. What foundational document by any other competing religion has more archaeologically verifiable facts than the Holy Bible? Make your comparison and post it here. Furthermore, please provide the name of the writers of said documents and tell us if they close to the originals.

His Lordship said...
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Gorth Satana said...

I feel like making a Harry Potter comparison here.
"All the cities mentioned in Harry Potter exist! Queen Elizabeth the second exist! Harry Potter must be true!" (Note: I've not read the Potter)

Now. Where are the original copies of _ANY_ of the books in the Bible?

JD Curtis said...

Now youre being silly Gorth. Youre making a demand (original transcripts) that no reasonable historian would make. My earlier entry pertained to archeologically verifiable facts from the foundational documents of comparative world religions, not recently published books that the author states outright are works of fiction.

Makarios said...

HL - I don't know the answers to your questions. All I know is that YOU not knowing the answers doesn't mean that it didn't happen. It just means that you don't understand something that took place in history however many years ago.

Makarios said...

Of course we don't have the originals but neither do we have the originals of a number of trusted documents. What we do have is a solid, solid paper trail from the orignals. Gorth, check this out, particularly point number one.

http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/04/who-wrote-gospels.html

DaveBuck said...

JD,

There are claims in books of the bible that can be proven false. The creation story in Genesis cannot be true, for example. The fossil record demonstrates that animals came about and died and came about not in one day. Same for Adam and Eve. Fossils and other evidence show humans were around much longer.

Geographic, fossil, and other evidence overwhelmingly debunk any possibility of a worldwide flood that killed ALL animals except two to seven of each, especially in the last 10,000 years when the biblical story would have you believe.

As for Jesus, the only contemporaneous evidence for his existence are perhaps the gospels. But, even those seem to be written a generation or so after his supposed death.

The only extrabiblical writings put forth in this thread are not contemporaneous. Instead, a limited few of them support that 'Christians' existed and that those Christian's believed Jesus rose from the dead.

In what I've read, we've proved that Christians existed. But, there seems to be more proof (based on what we are calling evidence in this thread) that Joseph Smith experienced a divine prophecy than there is for Jesus rising from the dead. Can we agree on that?

Given the evidence provided in this thread, we should also agree that it is very reasonable for one to doubt the supernatural claims made about Jesus.

But, I'm not hopeless. If a Jesus (or someone else for that matter) pops up today and starts instantly healing amputees and curing spina bifida in front of all our eyes over and over, well I won't be a skeptic for long.

Makarios said...

Dave, you say, "All we have is the proof that Christians existed," without realising, that in itself is a huge indication that something took place.

The fact that the tomb was empty is an indication that something took place.

The fact that the murder of Christians and sceptic / unbeliever in Jesus, Paul, became a wordhipper or Jesus indicates that something took place

The fact that the sceptic and brother of Jesus, James, and in fact Jesus' whole family (who prior to His resurrection thought Him to be insane) became worshippers of Jesus indicates that something took place.

These things require an explanation and the ONE thing that explains them all is the resurrection of Jesus. And THAT is why we have evidence of Christians in first century Palestine. If you want to dig a little deeper, there is more information here:

http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-would-that-be.html

Gorth Satana said...

Youre making a demand (original transcripts) that no reasonable historian would make.

The books are written by a god! (God-breathed) If that were true, completely different rules would apply. We know that the copies of books of the Bible are different than other copies of books of the Bible, who knows what the originals said?

Who was it that said There are more differences between biblical manuscripts than there are words in those manuscripts?

Makarios said...

Bart Erdman says that there are 400,000 errors in a document containing only 138,000 words. Do you know how those errors are defined?

Gorth Satana said...

Ok, I've got the book in front of me now.
According to Ehrman, there are 200,000 textual variations. He says the vast majority "are the result of mistakes, pure and simple slips of the pen, accidental omissions, inadvertent additions, misspelled words, blunders of one sort or another"

"Do you know how those errors are defined?"

They are NOT "errors", they are textual variations. We do not have the originals to compare.

Makarios said...

Does Erhman tell you how he arrives at the number 200,000 pure and simple slips of the pen, accidental omissions, inadvertent additions, misspelled words, blunders of one sort or another"?

Gorth Satana said...

Yes.

Makarios said...

Well? Don't you think you should let these other people know what constitutes 200,000 errors?

Gorth Satana said...

You want me to condense a section of the book containing several chapters in one blog comment?

It's not that simple.

Hey, while we are on the subject, this is very interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novum_Testamentum_Graece#Accuracy_of_the_New_Testament

(This doesn't include spelling errors)

Makarios said...

Gort doesn't want to tell you so I will. I the letter "a" was written when it should have been the letter "u" and that error was transferred to 80,000 copies, that is counted as 80,000 errors. If the work "and" was written as "as well" and that was trasferred to 60,000 copies, that constitutes another 60,000 errors.

Gorth Satana said...

LOL, that's not true.

Gorth Satana said...

If you think that's how he went about it, how about you quote him to prove it?

Gorth Satana said...

Not going to try?

Makarios said...

I don't have his book. Perhaps you could just set me straight.

Gorth Satana said...

It's a bit hard to summarise an entire book into one blog comment.
I'm rereading the book. It's good. I read the first hundred pages yesterday.

What did you think of
In "The Text Of The New Testament", Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden, Vogels, Merk, Bover and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9%, or 4999/7947, agreement.[9] They concluded, "Thus in nearly two-thirds of the New Testament text, the seven editions of the Greek New Testament which we have reviewed are in complete accord, with no differences other than in orthographical details. Verses in which any one of the seven editions differs by a single word are not counted. This result is quite amazing, demonstrating a far greater agreement among the Greek texts of the New Testament during the past century than textual scholars would have suspected […]. In the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation the agreement is less, while in the letters it is much greater".

From the earlier wiki link.