Bono: Jesus is divine or nuts!

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122 thoughts on “Bono: Jesus is divine or nuts!

      • Maybe. Jason.

        There is a theory that, wanting to bring about change, he and his followers staged a miracle in line with a few other, foreign, religious stories. They felt it was time for people to understand God better, that love should be emphasised.

        They didn’t allow for the Roman spear in the side, so it was a big fail. But his followers were determined to keep the story going, so desperately they felt the need for change, for ‘a closer walk with God.’

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      • I’m not so sure that his followers were necessarily in on it. Judas sure didn’t take things well. The historian Josephus suggests that those who performed the crucifixions may have been from the poor class of citizens – I would hazard to say that maybe they were the ones in on it, if that’s how it played out.

        The Roman spear in the side I find to be questionable whether 1. it actually happened (as it is only in the Gospel of John, a Gospel with the clearest motive to make Jesus divine without doubt), or 2. that a single stab wound was guaranteed cause of death if it did.

        They really should have just broken his legs like they did with the others, just to be certain.

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      • We have 2 sources of contemporary evidence, the New Testament itself and the Jewish writings (Talmud and Josephus) These are the most likely and the most direct sources – since Jesus was a Jew, only his followers and his opponents would be concerned with his life and teachings.

        John A.T. Robinson, a liberal theologian of England, has acknowledged that all of the New Testament books were written in the first century. He also has admitted that the book of James was penned by a brother of the Lord within two decades of Jesus’ death, that Paul authored all the books that bear his name, and that John, the apostle, wrote the fourth Gospel . The New Testament contains irrefutable evidence of the existence of Jesus.

        The Talmud’s testimony to Jesus’ existence is all the more valuable, as it is extremely hostile. It charges that Christ (who is called Ben Pandera) was born out of wedlock after his mother had been seduced by a Roman soldier named Pandera or Panthera.

        Respected scholar, the late Bruce Metzger of Princeton, has commented upon this appellation:
        “The defamatory account of his birth seems to reflect a knowledge of the Christian tradition that Jesus was the son of the virgin Mary, the Greek word for virgin, parthenos, being distorted into the name Pandera ”

        Yet Atheists reject the primary sources we have and then complain we have no primary sources.

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      • As a non-believer in the supernatural divinity of Jesus, I have difficulty understanding the “Jesus is a complete fabrication” approach. If it was truly a work of fiction, I would have liked to see more certainty that Jesus was actually dead before his resurrection.

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      • Jason, I think Judas is well fitted to be part of a hoax. There seemed to be connivance between him and Jesus about the betrayal. Of course he would be devastated if Jesus actually ended up dead, and it’s quite understandable that he would blame himself for his own role.

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      • And he was ‘resurrected’ with adifferent body! Those who knew him well and met him afterwards, didn’t recognise him. A ring in?

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      • Re the spear in the side, I undersood that was necessary to make sure death occured quickly and the body could be taken down before th Sabbath, partiularly since it was Passover. A slower death from breaking legs might not have got the job finished in time. ??

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      • Actually they presumed Jesus dead, gave him the spear to be sure (though only according to the Gospel of John), and broke the legs of the two crucified with Jesus to quicken their deaths.

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    • There’s no serious historian claiming there is contemporary evidence for the historical Jesus either. Myth is still on the table.

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      • Harvard professor Dr. Simon Greenleaf took myth off the table , when he said, “According to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.”

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      • So Simon Greenleaf just has to make a general assertion to take something off the table? I look forward to your post detailing Dr Greenleaf’s contemporary evidence for the historical Jesus in the morning.

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      • Bryan, you’re not responding to what I’ve actually said. I’m not asserting Jesus was a myth, but without contemporary evidence, you can’t dismiss the possibility.

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      • And how can you tell if an historian is reputable or credible. Well for a starter they acknowledge that Jesus existed.

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      • Hi John,

        Of course the census of Luke, the massacre of the innocents, the bit where the sky went dark and the dead walked out of their tombs – things like that might have raised a mention somewhere. If they actually happened.

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      • None of the sources you cite are contemporary to the life of the historical Jesus, or are or claim to be eyewitness testimony to the life of Jesus. Some scholars date the texts of the NT to 150 AD at the earliest (Ehrman) others earlier (Robinson). We have no consensus on the authorship of James, and the book itself does not claim the author was Jesus brother.

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      • Again, it’s a matter of opinion whether the sources are contemporary to the life of Jesus. But most scholars accepted as credible believe they are.

        It’s just not true that that none of the sources claim to be eyewitness testimony to the life of Jesus
        The author of the gospel of John refers to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved” and claims to be a member of Jesus’ inner circle.

        Interestingly, recent scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls points to the authorship of the gospels by the traditionally accepted authors. Reginald Fuller, an Episcopalian and Professor Emeritus at Virginia Theological Seminary, with Dr. Carsten Thiede, has analyzed three papyrus fragments from the 26th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew; the fragments date to the year 40, which would indicate that the author was an eyewitness to our Lord’s public ministry. Jose O’Callaghan, studying fragments of the Gospel of Mark and using paleographic means, dated them at 50, again indicating an eyewitness author.

        Martin Luther’s description of the Epistle of James is not consistent. In some case, Luther argues that it was not written by an apostle, but in other cases, he describes James as the work of an apostle.

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      • The years 40 and 50 AD are not contemporary to the historical Jesus, and again credible and reliable scholars (including one you cited) have no consensus as to the earliest dates for NT texts. We know the author of John isn’t Jesus disciple because he writes (John 21 24) ” This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.” Not “I am the disciple and I testify that what I say is true”.

        Also, references to eyewitness accounts (your references to Luke and Mark) do make them eyewitness accounts themselves.

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      • Well, I – and most historians – would disagree with your view and your approach to historical evidence. . I assume you are not an historian but you are entitled to your opinion. Believe what you wish Stu.

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      • Bryan and all,
        regarding the argument here about ‘primary sources’ and contemporary evidence,
        I notice that not one of our resident apologists acknowledges that there is not a single bit of evidence or documentation mooted that comes from the actual time period that Jesus is supposed to have been living in. Sure, individual scholars have stated their ‘opinion’ that the Gospels, or at least certain of them, were written early in the piece and were actually circulating shortly after the life of Jesus. But there is still no evidence of this. Most do not suggest this. And the overwhelming opinion of the scholars including those in the Catholic authorities is that none of the Gospels was composed by the individual whose name is, we observe, NOT attached to the document until middle or late in the second century.

        Paul displays very little knowledge about the earthly life, actions and teachings of Jesus as we learn about them from the Gospels. There are quite a few spots in his Epistles, when his arguments would have been greatly strengthened if he had been able to quote from accounts that were extant. I have not been able to find any evidence that regardless of just WHEN the Gospels were composed, they were circulating prior to the second century. The very first references to anything resembling them appear to be mentioned by Justin part or half-way through the second century. And then the quotes or details he offers out of the ‘Memoirs of the Apostles’ are few in number, and not completely convincing.

        Cheers again, Rian.

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      • None of what I’ve stated above is based on beliefs or wishes. No historian (I have an honours degree in the subject, including units in evidence and methodology) would suggest that contemporary evidence applies to material written after an event by people weren’t eyewitness to the event they were writing about.

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      • As I said, ignore the evidence put forward if you wish. Most real historians – the ones who actually work in the field – disagree with you. I’m assuming you are ignoring the biblical evidence.

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      • Point me to the evidence I have ignored Bryan, and I’ll deal with it. I never claimed to be a professional historian, and I’ll leave it others to interpret what you meant by “real”. No real, credible, reliable authority would define contemporary evidence as being that from secondary sources after the events described. Feel free to point me to one that does.

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      • Strewth, yours of 18.55. Monday.

        Yep good point. But it might be argued that the old proverb applies there, which ran … The first casualty in war is truth. In which case the truth simply cant come out while there is major fighting going on. After the war, then one will find hopefully that people are free to tell it as it was at that point.

        Bit different I would suggest in the case of ‘truths’ regarding the life of Jesus. Despite Palestine being occupied by hostile Romans, nevertheless it does appear that Jesus and the Disciples, regardless of criticism from certain Jews and their Sadducean leaders, they did get around the country without being gagged or persecuted in ways that the church leaders were possibly were more enabled to do during the late 30s to 50s.

        I for one do not believe that the Gospels were written earlier than the scholars suggest about 70 to 90 or so, but there would surely have been no barrier to such documents or their beginnings being written during the lifetime of Jesus. But there is no real evidence that the Disciples were learned or educated men for the most part and close study of the Gospel contents that we have, do indicate a much later period for their production. We see this from the sheer development and embroidering the accounts as it progressed from Mark’s bare report through to the elaborate work in John’s Gospel And as well, it is commonly argued that until the time following the Resurrection and the Ascension, the disciples had no real idea of just what it had been all about. In any case, it has been pretty well established that most of the Gospel material was assembled in other countries and not locally in Palestine..

        I’m a little bit surprised that no-one has brought up another ‘tired old argument’, which describes how if by any chance the Gospel writers had got it wrong, plenty of people who knew the truth would have protested well before the end of the century. And thus no-one protested, so the Gospels were proven to be accurate.

        All very well, but what we read in the Epistles of Paul are many accounts and references he makes to folk who actually DID protest. I listed these the other day. Paul was battling over and over again about the dissenters. Note that there are warnings in the Christian Testament against individuals who claimed that Jesus had not come in the flesh, for example. So docetic Gnostics were arguing quite early in the piece. Loads of people actually did think they knew better. But of course, the orthodox Catholic party won the day and the very greatest effort was put into destroying the wicked lies and writings of the heretics. The views of the latter were known very little until the finding of certain forgotten documents happened during the last 100 odd years.

        It was claimed by the early Church Fathers that there were many many heresies developing from an early time. I seem to remember the number 200 mentioned. Dont know if that was true. And some of the ones they refer to in their writings we simply know nothing about. Look at that verse in Revelations about the Nicolaitans that I was discussing the other day. We don’t know really who and what they were.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • It would seem clear that Stu is a pretend historian who hasn’t read the Bible – he didn’t even know the author of John claimed to be an apostle – but prefers to use information from internet sites.

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      • Jarvis – I never claimed to be a professional historian. If you read my posts you’d have seen I quoted John directly (from the Bible not an internet site) to demonstrate that the author of John wasn’t the Apostle John. I brought that to Bryan’s attention a second time, but my post was moderated out.

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      • Stu, you said none of the gospels claimed to have been written by eyewitnesses. Wrong, and you should have known that if you had actually read the Bible as you claimed.
        As I pointed out – and you ignored – the author of the Gospel of John—claims it to be an eyewitness account, the testimony of the unnamed “disciple whom Jesus loved.” (“This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true” [John 21:24]).

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      • Bryan – My post clearly shows that I have quoted the Bible. Nor have I ignored your claim that the author of John claims to be an eyewitness – I’ve countered your claim. John (21:24) says ”This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.” He doesn’t say (as you would if you were the eyewitness) “I am the disciple and I testify that what I say is true”.

        Contrast this with Pauls letter to the Galatians – where the author uses the first person to describe events (eg “I saw Cephas” “I saw the brother of the Lord”).

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      • Bryan – if the author of John claims to be eyewitness to the events he is talking about why does he say “his testimony” and not “my testimony”? Ignore the biblical text and appeal to any authority that support us as you wish. Just note there are plenty of scholars, including Ehrman, who disagree with your claim about the authorship of John.

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      • (“This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true” [John 21:24]).

        Why does the author sometimes write in the third person? It may depend on the culture and personal style. Some historians state that first person point of view is almost exclusive to personal letters (as in some of the NT writings) until the second century.
        The Gospel of Matthew is also written in third person because it is an eyewitness account of the Ministry of Jesus Christ. Not the ministry of Matthew
        Who wrote the Gospel of John is a question that remains unanswered, though noted theologians throughout the ages maintain that it was indeed the disciple John who penned it. It was only in the late 18th century that the authorship of John was questioned. It certainly wasn’t in the early days of Christianity..and there’s plenty of evidence for that I show you if you wish.

        Whatever, I believe the four Gospels are the inspired Word of God. Does that not make Him the author? What do you think?

        Stu, I am curious. What is your motivation for insisting you KNOW who wrote or did not write the gospels? Are you an atheist, agnostic or something else?

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      • The synoptics are written from a third person point of view, describing the events as if the authors had personally observed all of them and were reporting what they saw at the time. Thus they are basically descriptive in their approach. John’s Gospel, on the other hand, although also written sometimes from a third person point of view, is more reflective, clearly later than the events he describes. The author of the Fourth Gospel very carefully separates himself from the events he describes (cf. the role of the Beloved Disciple in the Fourth Gospel). However clear it is that he was an eyewitness of the life of Jesus, it is no less clear that he looks back upon it from a temporal distance. While we see the events through his eyes, we are carefully guided to see the events of Jesus’ life as he now sees them when he wrote. We understand more of the significance of the events described from the position the writer now holds than an eyewitness could have understood at the time the events took place. In this sense John’s Gospel is much more reflective.

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      • My motive is to have an informed debate about the historicity of the biblical Jesus and the Gospel. Nothing sinister happening here! You should already have worked out from previous posts that I am an atheist – which in this particular thread has zero bearing on my interest in the topic. So, this is what your NT scholar says on the topic at hand:
        “Scholars today, outside the ranks of fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, are virtually unified in thinking that none of these ascription [that the NT Gospels were written by eyewitnesses to the events] of authorship is probably correct. One important point to notice is that none of the Gospel writers ever identifies himself by name or narrates any of his stories about Jesus in the first person. The Gospels are all written anonymously, and the authors describe the disciples, including the disciples Matthew and John, in the third person, talking about what ”they” did (not what ”I” or ”we” did).”
        Source: Ehrman, Bart D. Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument For Jesus Of Nazareth. page 46, 47.

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      • Bryan – so long as your view of my motives is based on on what I actually said -you’re welcome!

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      • Excellent Bryan, we agree “My motive is to have an informed debate about the historicity of the biblical Jesus and the Gospel.”

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      • So you didn’t accept my stated motive, and disingenuously imposed another one on me. One which I explicitly advised otherwise.

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      • Stu: “My motive is to have an informed debate about the historicity of the biblical Jesus and the Gospel… that I am an atheist – which in this particular thread has zero bearing on my interest in the topic.” (Stated motive)

        Bryan: “Thanks for being honest about where your motivation lies.” (Acceptance – at least in writing of stated motive)

        Stu: “Bryan – so long as your view of my motives is based on what I actually said -you’re welcome!” (Suspicion of disingenuousness in acceptance of stated motive).

        Bryan: “No I didn’t accept your stated motive. Your motivation and bias is obvious.” (Confirmation of disingenuousness in acceptance of stated motive).

        It’s much easier to project false motives and bias and make ad hominem attacks, than engage in reasoned debate.

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      • I find it hard to comprehend how an atheist can look at all the evidence for God and the Bible and not be converted.

        At the same time, the atheist looks at his evidence and cannot comprehend how I could believe in God and the Bible.

        How can this be?

        It is not because one of us is stupid and the other intelligent. Nor is it because only one of us accepts some things “by faith” — we both do that — because our knowledge is limited.

        The explanation is that the atheist is like a color-blind person looking at a rainbow — he just does not see it all — even though he looks at it and thinks he sees it.
        Argument and logic will never convince any color-blind person of the beauties of the rainbow.

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      • That is an interesting way to look at things Lisa. I’ve heard people say it doesn’t matter what proof they are shown, they will not believe in Jesus and the eyewitness accounts in the Bible because “it is impossible, therefore any evidence that seems to point that direction is flawed.”

        It is a waste of time to argue with people who think like that.

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      • The facts of Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection, are a matters of history. There are more documents that prove the facts of Jesus life, death, and resurrection from the dead, than any other event of human history. Why then are various atheists groups trying to re-write history and claim that the gospel accounts of Jesus Christ are a myth?

        Dr. Simon Greenleaf, was a Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University. He was one of the greatest legal minds the world has ever known. He wrote the famous guide for substantiating legal evidence in a court of law entitled, ”A Treatise on the Law of Evidence.” This guide for legal evidence is considered to the present day by many, to be the greatest legal volume ever written.

        Dr. Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. Determining that he would expose the four gospels in the new testament that describe Jesus life, death, and resurrection as a “myth”, he set out to disprove their claims by the rules of evidence used in the courts of law. Upon thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection — Dr. Greenleaf came to conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most substantiated events in all of human history.

        In his book, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, Dr. Greenleaf stated:

        “it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD, . . .”
        (Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p.29).

        Dr. Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best supported event in all of history. As a result of his work in determining the validity of the four gospels, Dr. Greenleaf committed his life to Jesus Christ as a Christian.

        Simon Greenleaf’s principal work of legal scholarship is called a Treatise on the Law of Evidence (3 vols., 1842–1853), it remained a standard textbook in American law throughout the Nineteenth century.

        Dr. Greenleaf has this to say about the validity of documents of ancient history in regards to their admissibility as valid evidence in a court of law:

        “An ancient document, offered in evidence in our courts, is said to come from the proper repository, when it is found in the place where, and under the care of persons with whom, such writings might naturally and reasonably be expected to be found; for it is this custody which gives authenticity to documents found within it.’ If they come from such a place, and bear no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes that they are genuine, and they are permitted to be read in evidence, unless the opposing party is able successfully to impeach them.`’ The burden of showing them to be false and unworthy of credit, is devolved on the party who makes that objection. The presumption of law is the judgment of charity. It presumes that every man is innocent until he is proved guilty; that everything has been done fairly and legally, until it is proved to have been otherwise; and that every document, found in its proper repository, and not bearing marks of forgery, is genuine. Now this is precisely the case with the Sacred Writings. They have been used in the church from time immemorial, and thus are found in the place where alone they ought to be looked for. They come to us, and challenge our reception of them as genuine writings…“

        The basis for validating the accounts given in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the new testament, is due to their being used for over 2,000 years by the church to substantiate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At no time in history has anyone ever been able to impeach these documents and prove that they are not historical and factually accurate. On this basis, the accounts of Jesus life are without any doubt true and valid matters of history. They were written by the accounts of eye witnesses who saw and heard the events take place.

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      • Why do some atheists quote the Bible out of context?To be honest, I think it’s mostly intellectual laziness. Understanding context requires setting aside preconceptions and putting some effort in. Most times they don’t understand that if you want to argue something, you must understand what you’re arguing for and against.

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    • Bryan, none of the sources you cite are contemporary to the life of the historical Jesus. If you focus what’s actually posited, you’ll find you’ll have to repeat yourself less often.

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      • Just so we’re absolutely clear Bryan (et al) and to use you own words: “I’ll repeat what I said. No reliable or credible historian denies Jesus existed.” I agree with you Bryan. Nor am I asserting that Jesus never existed.

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      • Bryan, yes I am a historian by qualification. But I’ve asked specific questions about contemporary evidence which go beyond an appeal to authority.

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      • Just so we’re absolutely clear Stu (et al), is history your profession and if so in which area of history, or are you stating you once studied history? And if so, was it New Testament-era history? Just curious.

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      • •As far as the historians of the day were concerned, Jesus was just a “blip” on the screen. Jesus did not address the Roman Senate, or write extensive Greek philosophical treatises; he never traveled outside of the regions of Palestine, and was not a member of any known political party. Jesus did not change the social, political and economic circumstances in Palestine It was left for His followers to do that ..the superiority of evidence for Jesus is seen when we ask what he thought.”

        The historian R. Harris adds that “Roman writers could hardly be expected to have foreseen the subsequent influence of Christianity on the Roman Empire and therefore to have carefully documented” Christian origins. How were they to know that this minor Nazarene prophet would cause such an uproar?

        •Jesus was executed as a criminal, providing him with the ultimate marginality. This was one reason why historians would have ignored Jesus. He suffered the ultimate humiliation, both in the eyes of Jews (Deut. 21:23 – Anyone hung on a tree is cursed) and the Romans (He died the death of slaves and rebels.).
        On the other hand, Jesus was a minimal threat compared to other “Messiahs” of the time. Rome had to call out troops to quell the disturbances caused by the unnamed Egyptian referenced in the Book of Acts. In contrast, no troops were required to suppress Jesus’ followers.

        To the Romans, the primary gatekeepers of written history at the time, Jesus during His own life would have been no different than thousands of other everyday criminals that were crucified — at least until his followers inspired a reason for depth investigation.

        •Jesus marginalized himself by being occupied as an itinerant preacher. Of course, there was no Palestine News Network, and even if there had been one, there were no televisions to broadcast it.
        Jesus never used the established “news organs” of the day to spread His message. He traveled about the countryside, avoiding for the most part (and with the exception of Jerusalem) the major urban centers of the day. How would we regard someone who preached only in sites like, say, Hahira, Georgia?

        •Jesus’ teachings did not always jibe with, and were sometimes offensive to, the established religious order of the day. It has been said that if Jesus appeared on the news today, it would be as a troublemaker. He certainly did not make many friends as a preacher.
        •Jesus lived an “offensive” lifestyle and alienated many people. He associated with the despised and rejected: Tax collectors, prostitutes, and the band of fishermen He had as disciples.
        •Jesus was a poor, rural person in a land run by wealthy urbanites. Yes, class discrimination was alive and well in the first century also.

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      • Jesus might not have been much different than many others but what separated him from the rest is He came back from the dead. You said no militia was needed to supress the followers of Jesus, I will add that, since the day He rose, we have not been suppressed at all.

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      • Bryan, if you answer my questions (about contemporary evidence), I’ll be happy to have a conversation about which of us is more qualified to discuss the topic of a historical Jesus.

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      • Apart from anything else, the primary documents of the New Testament confirm Jesus’ existence.

        In his book Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, historian Bart Ehrman points to the credibility of the New Testament as solid contemporary evidence for Jesus.

        Professor Ehrman marshals all of the evidence proving the existence of Jesus, including the writings of the apostle Paul.

        “Paul knew Jesus’ brother, James, and he knew his closest disciple, Peter, and he tells us that he did,” Ehrman says. “If Jesus didn’t exist, you would think his brother would know about it, so I think Paul is probably pretty good evidence that Jesus at least existed,” he says.

        John A.T. Robinson, a liberal theologian, has acknowledged that all of the New Testament books were written in the first century. He also claims that the book of James was penned by a brother of the Jesus within two decades of Jesus’ death, that Paul authored all the books that bear his name, and that John, the apostle, wrote the fourth Gospel.

        The gospel of Luke clearly tells us that in his day, there were many eyewitnesses that could be interviewed to learn the truth:

        Luke 1:1-4
        Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

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      • None of the NT writings were written by contemporary witnesses of the earthly Jesus or even claim to be. Paul only met Jesus in a dream and there’s no evidence that the book of James was written by the brother of Jesus. There’s certainly no theological consensus that the epistle of James was written by a relation of Jesus (check out Martin Luther’s views on the matter).

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      • That’s your opinion but it is out of step with most scholarship. We know certainly that the canonical gospels, or the material that became the canonicals, was in circulation as early as the 40s and 50s. We know that written documents existed as early as the 40s.

        The eminent New Testament scholar John A. T. Robinson maintained that there are no real grounds for putting any of the NT books later than 70 A.D. His main argument is that there is no clear reference in any of them to the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple which occurred on September 26th of that year. This cataclysmic event brought to an end the sacrificial worship that was the centre of the Jewish religion and it should have merited a mention in the NT books if they were written afterwards. In particular, one would have expected to find a reference to the event in the Epistle to the Hebrews, for it would have greatly strengthened the author’s argument that the Temple worship was now obsolete.

        Robinson dated the composition of Matthew from 40 to 60, using dots to indicate the traditions behind the text, dashes to indicate a first draft, and a continuous line to indicate writing and rewriting. Similarly, he dated Mark from 45 to 60, Luke from 55 to 62, and John from 40 to 65. And some scholars go for even earlier dating.

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      • Defythenarrative, there are cases where resurrection has featured in other religions. On http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection you will find details of the following-

        1 Ancient religions in the Near East
        2 Ancient Greek religion
        3 Hinduism
        4 Judaism

        6 Islam
        7 Zen Buddhism

        as well as these examples in Christianity
        5 Christianity
        5.1 Resurrection of Jesus
        5.2 Resurrection miracles
        5.3 Resurrection of the Dead
        5.4 Platonic philosophy

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      • Bryan.. to yours of 10.16 and 12.15 on 24th March,
        Now really, – ‘most scholarship???’ ‘We know certainly —‘???? ‘As early as the 40s?’ I’ve never read that from any reputable source. Now if the John A.T. Robinson who Bryan cites is the same John AT Robinson who wrote the notorious ‘God is Dead’ material in the 50s, AND if he is the very same John AT Robinson who was a close friend and colleague and mentor of today’s (shudder) Bishop John Shelby Spong, (I pause here dramatically to cross myself!!!!) then I’d point out that he was virtually disqualified and detested by just about all conservative and evangelical contemporary theologians when he was writing. Have they changed their minds????

        I don’t really think Bryan, that you will find more than just one or two legal experts who would agree with your quoted gentleman, that the Resurrection of Jesus is one of the best proven and attested facts of history. Better perhaps than the claim that Captain Cook circumnavigated the globe in the 1770s? Better do you think than the fact that Queen Victoria reigned in Britain in the 19th century? Better than the claim that there were two big World Wars in the 20th century? Oh, come on.

        Look it has been pointed out legitimately over and over again, that extraordinary claims just demand extraordinary evidence. And heaven knows, the resuscitation of the corpse of a genuinely executed individual after two or three days, is a most extraordinary claim. At the very most, all we have to support it is a clever and complex argument based on circumstantial evidence. Again there is no obvious and direct evidence for such a Resurrection, other than the claims and reports understood to have come from Christian believers.

        I have said a few times in this forum, that I have no arguments whatsoever with individual Christians who have had experiences of personal renewal or salvation through ‘intervention’ or whatever from the God and his Christ. I don’t doubt that loads of Christians over 2000 years have treasured a beautiful relationship with Christ. But I also have no doubt that loads of Islamic faithful have enjoyed a profound sense of relationship with their God, as well. I am constantly reminded of Paul’s affirmation that ‘the letter killeth while the spirit giveth life’.
        Rian.

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      • Now Bryan, further to your argument at 10.16 today,

        More than once, I’ve seen you put down dissenters’ posted comments here with the dismissive term ‘once again that tired old argument’ etc. And here you are tossing around those tired old quotes from Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny. Heck, they prove nothing other than the obvious fact that there were Christian believers at the end of the first century. Is there any single reader of this blog who is not familiar with those pieces?

        Let’s face it, there are few informed people about who would argue against the likelihood that someone called Jesus was crucified by the Romans some time about the 1st century. In fact, since the name (translated for us as Jesus) was not at all uncommon during the period, especially among patriotic Jews and Zealots; and since the Romans crucified huge numbers of Jewish insurgents, there would surely have to have been many such victims who bore the name. Josephus mentions, if my memory serves me correctly, some 6 individuals who bore the name. Also, I would point out that the term/word/name/title of Christ or Christos is highly ambiguous.

        Few months back, Bryan, you applauded the new book by Bart Ehrman (an avowed atheist or agnostic) which was claimed to demonstrate once and for all the historicity of Jesus. But it seems that you are not aware of the fact that shortly afterwards a 550 odd page book was published which devastatingly dissected Ehrman’s thesis. The various authors of the 21 chapters are all specialists in their fields who in general had been highly approving of his previous books.
        The title is ‘Bart Ehrman and the Quest for the Historical Jesus’, and it demonstrates clearly how the author was guilty of sloppy thinking and poor scholarship, as well as examples that appear like sheer dishonesty. It is published by American Atheist Press of New Jersey.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Whatever verifiable witness reports there might be from the life of Jesus, they may not have be as accurate as later ones. If you read letters of someone who was part of, say, the Russian revolution, would that give a more realistic picture than historians can put together in later years? Sometimes we can be too close to events, not be able to see the forest for the trees.

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      • Rian, I know Robinson and Spong were both derided by various literalists, particularly in other denominations, but many thought they were a breath of fresh air, and were voicing what others felt but weren’t authoritative enough to be considered, if voiced.

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      • Hi Strewth,
        Yep, Robinson and Spong have been dirty words to so many traditional theologians. I count myself blessed and fortunate to have been born into a period of human history when researchers are exploring far beyond the bounds of trad theology and many more folk carry an open mind into these issues.

        In my day, another guy who upset the ‘puritans’ was Leslie Weatherhead. And before him Loisy, and I guess many more.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • HI John R. – regarding your comment quoted here….

        ‘On the other hand, Jesus was a minimal threat compared to other “Messiahs” of the time. Rome had to call out troops to quell the disturbances caused by the unnamed Egyptian referenced in the Book of Acts. In contrast, no troops were required to suppress Jesus’ followers.’

        Well, it is not quite so black and white. I’d suggest that you look at the rather exaggeratedly big force that was sent out, according to the Gospel, to arrest Jesus in the Garden. Just check all of the Gospels on this. Actually described there as a ‘big multitude’. They appear to have been prepared for a heavy stoush.

        Of course it might have been an exaggeration about the numbers. Recall how it was an unbelievably huge troop of Roman guards who eventually arrested Paul in the Temple. One does wonder.
        Rian.

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      • Jesus had a claim to the throne. He was (apparently) an associate of Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy trader. Rather than being a poor carpenter, he may have inherited a builder’s business. Peter was not employed as a fisherman, but owned fishing boats and a family fishing business with James and John, the sons of Zebedee’s. (Peter’s brother Andrew, who was a disciple of John the Baptist at the time, introduced Peter to Jesus.)

        He associated with some important women . Luke tells us that certain wealthy women helped the group: “some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means” (8:2-3).

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    • Ah the old Trilemma argument. In taking it as true that some things in the Gospel records are true, Jesus just had to be either Liar, Lunatic or Lord as CS Lewis argued. (Or as I’ve seen it put in other sources – Bad Mad or God.) It was based on a ploy that Lewis used many times in his writings. Just recently I was doing a reread of certain of his books, and found that at key points in his argument he would create a dichotomy of this kind, quite obviously omitting alternatives, and presumably hoping that no-one would notice. It is one of the biggest weaknesses in his apologetics.

      Among several additional definitions to Lewis’ three alternatives, there are – Legendary, Symbolical, Misquoted, Fabricated, Sincerely Misguided, Elaborated on, Doctrinal parable and exposition, and maybe some others. Stu came up with a couple of these.

      And as for Lewis’ smug and dogmatic declaration that what one ‘mustn’t do’ is to state that Jesus was just a wise and noble teacher, or some such. Well! That is just sheer sophistry and bluff.
      Cheers, Rian.

      Like

  1. And to think it was only earlier this month that Bryan was telling us to ignore what celebrities say.

    Now Bono is worth listening to.

    Like

  2. An extensive list of early Christian writings, (authentic? I don’t know)
    beginning with –
    Dated AD
    ” 30-60 Passion Narrative
    ” 40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
    ” 50-60 1 Thessalonians
    ” 50-60 Philippians
    ” 50-60 Galatians
    ” 50-60 1 Corinthians
    ” 50-60 2 Corinthians
    ” 50-60 Romans
    ” 50-60 Philemon
    ” 50-80 Colossians
    ” 50-90 Signs Gospel
    ” 50-95 Book of Hebrews

    And ending with
    300-311 Peter of Alexandria
    300-320 Pseudo-Clementine Homilies
    300-340 Eusebius of Caesarea
    300-350 Manichean Acts of Leucius Charinus
    300-390 Letters of Paul and Seneca
    300-400 Apocalypse of Thomas
    300-400 Freer Logion
    300-600 Gospel of Gamaliel
    303-316 Lactantius
    310-334 Reticius of Autun
    320-380 Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/index.html

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  3. “According to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for….etc ?(name your favourite Christian myth).

    It’s just not true. Most of the Gospel accounts are simply hearsay. They would be inadmissable in any court, unless you could cross-examine the witnesses, of which there never are any in anecdotal accounts, which are notoriously erroneous and fabricated and exaggerated for effect.

    It is useless to claim that 500 people saw something or other. Who exactly were those supposed witnesses and can we question them? Would they be any more reliable than the witnesses who claim that Sai Baba walked on water? Do they have a vested interest in Jesus not dying, or being raised from the dead? as if anyone actually ever is.

    Were the accounts written at a time when superstition was rampant and “miracles” were the gossip fodder par excellence, the favourite entertainment of the period? Yes.

    Wishful thinking gone mad, but not material that any self-respecting judge would admit as evidence. A religiously affected judge? Maybe. A safe call? Nope.

    And as for the choice that Jesus was either divine or a nutter, then if he really believed that he was dying for everyone else’s sins then clearly he was a nutter.

    It’s not logical and it didn’t work.

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      • I was thinking the exact same thing when I read Rol’s comment before going to bed last night.

        I feel very sorry for you Rol. But there you go, we know how you feel about us!

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      • Why should one be afraid of the light ? Bryan and Monica can you tell me how acceptance of Christianity has negatively impacted on you ?

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      • I don’t think anyone should be afraid of the light (the truth). But obviously some are. Becoming a Christian is not easy in some ways but I don’t see facing the facts as in any way negative.

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      • Hi Bryan (and Monica)

        Ok then should I sign up what burdens would I face, what negative impacts would their be. How, overall, would the quality of my life diminish ?

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      • What burdens would you face? Ignorant comments, stereotyping etc from those who refuse to acknowledge the truth. This is the way it is. But why would your life diminish overall if you faced the truth? I don’t believe it would.

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      • Hi again Monica and Bryan,

        So there’s no downside specific to Christianity but there’s a lot of benefit. I hope that’s a fair summation of what you’ve been saying.

        I’m finding that very difficult to reconcile with people being “afraid of the light”

        What is there to be afraid of and why are some so afraid ?

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      • I suspect that some people are afraid of the light- the truth, the love – because they are too afraid to confront it. It’s like avoiding love because some people think that’s safer than maybe giving their hearts to someone else. But as someone said, the only place to avoid love is in Hell.

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      • Hi Bryan,

        Afraid of love ? I’m finding that a difficult concept to get my head around.

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      • Hi Bryan,

        Really ? You must know some people who I’d consider pretty unusual. I’ve known a few afraid of commitment, or risk, or heartbreak. But I don’t know anybody afraid of love.

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      • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

        And that, in your experience, is something people are often afraid of. I’m still having difficulty getting my head around it.

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      • I really don’t know why you don’t understand. Some people are so abused, so damaged that they are afraid to give themselves to another. It happens. I’ve been around damaged kids lately who have that awful history and they are afraid to love. It’s sad but very real.

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      • I’ve known some shockingly abused kids who’ve still managed to love their mum or dad – despite the abuse. Kids who’ve been quite traumatised at the notion that they might have to be removed from either mum or dad’s care.

        But abused children are (thankfully) not the norm. If you’re basing your views on the population as a whole on what abused children go through then your conclusions may well be erroneous, indeed are likely to be erroneous.

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      • HI Bryan,

        My assumption is that when we are talking about love and people’s response to it we are talking about the norm. What would the average joe do.

        There’s far to much variation in humanity to reasonably do otherwise.

        Some people are afraid of love, some are overly eager to embrace it. But you can’t take the behaviour of the extremes and apply it to the middle.

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      • HI Bryan,

        I’ve expressed how hard it is for me to get my head around people being afraid of love.

        You’ve pointed out that (in your experience) some people are afraid of love and specifically given the example of abused children.

        To me that’s a short (but fair) summation.

        When I say it’s hard for me to understand that people are afraid of love I’m talking about the regular average joe. And in my experience the the average joe isn’t afraid of love.

        Even if we do look at extremes as your recent “share the bread” comment shows love can endure in even the harshest and most inhospitable of places. .

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    • Hi Bubba,

      No I can’t…..”tell you how acceptance of Christianity has negatively impacted me”, because it hasn’t. Sure, I went through a lot of stuff I wish I hadn’t, but that was from people (Christians), not God. And even the bad stuff I suffered, like character assassination and rejection, well, in hindsight, I now count it all joy because it has made me a much stronger, and dare I say, fearless person, in the long run, which is all part of the learning process.

      Bubba, I am so, so grateful to God for His love.

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  4. I guess it all comes down to how you define TRUTH.

    An atheist defines truth according to the dictionary definition and the standard accepted meaning of the word. i.e. A FACT which can be VERIFIED.

    A Christian defines truth as “anything from the bible or Christianity required to be accepted through FAITH.

    The dictionary defines religious FAITH as:-A strong belief in a SUPERNATURAL power or powers that control human destiny.

    It then defines Supernatural as:- Not existing in nature or subject to explanation according to natural laws; not physical or material. In other words, without any means of proof outside of the mind and a wish to believe. i.e. IMAGINARY.

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  5. Mon,
    “I feel sorry for you, Rol.”

    Why? I have none of your fears of the oblivion of death. I take responsibility for my actions, without relying on an imaginary god to forgive me, or blaming them on an imaginary devil.
    I wish only the best for people without asking imaginary spirits to step in for them or hoping my loving god will punish them. As there is only this life, ( which is why it is called “life” and why death is called death……..because that’s what it is, nothing more, nothing less.) then that is the best reason to try to make this life the best it can be for you and for everyone you know, and for the whole of the global society.

    Unfortunately the mix of religions, in particular Islam and your choice of any other one, can only lead to suffering on a global scale. Most modern Christianity (modern?) is less barbaric than it often has been, but while its Holy book retains the recipes for barbarism it has relied on in the past, then its potential for evil remains dormant. Anyone who looks can see the problems with Islam all over the world.

    These religions began as examples of all of the thousands of tribal religions that have ever been and gone. They were not meant to be more than tribal. However, due to innovations in human communications and technology of the past two millennia a few have spread around the world, but their tribal or (“chosen” or supremacist) aspects remain, to cause perpetual mayhem and conflict.

    It amazes me that women can take seriously a religion that tells them they are stupid. Or men, who are forbidden the evils of alcohol but promised rivers of wine in Paradise, or who are not to look at women but are offered virgins galore in Paradise.

    The blatant con-trick of the payoff only after you die would have to be the fraud of all time. Why would anyone believe it? It doesn’t make any sense.

    OK, but you want to believe it, right? Because it calms your fears of the oblivion of death etc, right? It tells you something you’d rather hear, right?

    Hmmm.

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    • No Rol,

      Not right. Believe it or not, like you, I too need evidence before I will accept something as truth, and based on the evidence I have seen and experienced for myself, I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt, that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit exist. Nothing could coerce me to say otherwise….nothing!

      And fear of death? No way! For most of my life I’ve had a death wish, fully convinced that I would end up in Hell…..so no fear of death here Rol. You are talking to the wrong Christian here. But the Lord’s healing grace changed all that for me, thank God, and now I face each day knowing that I no longer face it alone.

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      • Mon,
        “I too need evidence before I will accept something as truth”

        Yes, but you are easily conned, to be blunt. You don’t evaluate the evidence with a highly critical eye or mind. You WANT to believe.. With enough of that mind-set you will literally accept anything as being true. You don’t see through the sophistry of common religious propaganda, because people have been parroting the stuff for thousands of years and you get used to hearing it all and seeing people accept it. So it seems normal and doesn’t ring the alarm bells for you that a dispassionate critical thinker will hear.

        If you haven’t critically evaluated the “evidence”, looked for weaknesses or alternative explanations, or considered the likelihood that people are more likely to lie or exaggerate than that a miracle has actually occurred, then you have probably “accepted something as truth” when you really shouldn’t have.

        The “evidence” for the pivotal Christian myths can be so shot full of holes with a little critical thinking that only determined believers can really accept them. And you are certainly one of those.

        You are also one of those I have mentioned before whose faith has become a badge of honour. Religious faith is always a barrier against truth because you must not question. Take the barrier of faith away and the truth will become clear to you.

        Then you will really face what you are afraid of, when you are no longer hiding behind faith.You might even become strong enough to face the fact that you ARE facing each day alone, as we all do, and that you don’t really need imaginary protective spirits to help you through.

        You might even feel free when you are released from having to hope for a heaven or fear a hell or worry about how your version of Big Brother is judging your every thought and action.

        But security blankets can be hard to relinquish.
        Even if they are only imaginary.

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      • Oh dear Rol,

        You actually made me cry. Why? Because one of us is obviously deluded.

        God bless you anyway old chap. I really have grown to love you over the years….and I wish with all my heart that you will live on forever in God’s loving embrace.

        Love you Rol. xxoo

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  6. Mon,
    “Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit exist. Nothing could coerce me to say otherwise….nothing!”

    Exactly. Your position is based on personal emotion, so no evidence would ever get you to change your mind. Therefore your position is illogical and fanciful. You have a strong emotional investment which clouds your judgement and makes any consequent position very unsound.

    Bryan,
    “Experiences are surely evidence to those who experience them”

    Ye….es. But if they are largely based on highly subjective and self-interpreted emotional experiences (with other possible explanations) then they are not necessarily related to any realities they may be claimed to represent. Furthermore, such “experiences” are inclined to join the multitude of anecdotes that further fuel the religious imaginations of believers.

    “You’ve got it all round the twist again Rol. Cheers.”

    Would you mind being less ad hominem and a ;little more specific in your analysis, Bryan?
    What exactly have I got wrong there?

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    • Mon,
      Delusion (Wordweb) :- an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary.

      There is no evidence for the existence of any god. Any so-called evidence always assumes such an existence being self-evident and is interpreted by believers in that light.

      Prayers are not “answered” any more frequently than chance happening, and if you ask God for a new leg or arm, you won’t get it, unless you happen to be a salamander, which at least shows it ought to be possible. Jesus promised you will get WHATEVER you pray for. Clearly he was wrong. People who think they will get what they pray for are deluded.

      People who believe that 5000 plus people were suitably fed with a few loaves and fishes are deluded. Etc. etc. etc.

      “I wish with all my heart that you will live on forever in God’s loving embrace.” Thank you for the sentiment, Mon. I do already feel that I have been “blessed” (not by God but by circumstances) and I have so much to be grateful for. I truly am grateful for my life, my family, my friends, my gifts, my health, my experiences.

      I wouldn’t mind people’s religious beliefs except for the fact that they are resistant to reason, therefore resistant to change. So when you get conflicting religious views you get a recipe for hostility and violence.

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      • One more thing. One often hears it said that everyone is entitled to their opinion. But as a wise person said,”You are NOT entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.”
        I would add that anything else is simply special pleading to avoid the onus of logical justification..

        I put beliefs in the same category.

        Like

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