Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Feb/09

22

The God Who Wasn’t There

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While reading my Sunday Telegraph this morning, my eye was caught by an ad for yet another proactive atheist venture, a movie (or at any rate a DVD) titled The God Who Wasn’t There. Its premise seems to be that Jesus of Nazareth didn’t exist. That doesn’t seem very likely to me — didn’t one of the Roman authors mention him? — but I’m no expert. Anyone seen this movie and got an opinion?

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57 comments

  • our founding truth · March 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    For me, they’re just more in a long string of deluded, nonsensical religious folks wasting their lives over nothing.>

    Not even psychiatrists buy this. You have no evidence to back up the assertion, the early Christians were deluded. This is an assumption based on nothing.

    The Dead Sea Scrolls accuracy of the copying not interpolation.

  • Grant Canyon · March 5, 2009 at 6:22 am

    “Not even psychiatrists buy this. You have no evidence to back up the assertion, the early Christians were deluded.”

    First, any psychiatrist who would make a medical determination about someone who died 2000 years ago is a quack.

    Second, you have, today, in this world, now, as we speak, plenty of people who are more than willing to lay down their lives because of their religious beliefs. Why should we believe that things were so different 2000 years ago?

    History is absolutely filled with examples of people defying their natural inclinations for life preservation, for the safety of their children, for sexual expression, for social harmony, etc., etc., all because of religious beliefs. Why are we to believe that the first century Christians any different? Because you really, really, really want their Jesus story to be true?

    Again, if Muslims are willing to become suicide bombers in order to advance Islam, does that make Islam true?? And if not, why should the fact that early Christians were willing to lay down their lives make their religion any more true??

    The Dead Sea Scrolls accuracy of the copying not interpolation.

    So? How is that relevant to anything? The issue is whether the fact that the New Testament referenced so-called predictions in the Old Testament means anything as far as the New Testament’s evidentiary value or lack thereof. It doesn’t. It just means that the New Testament authors read the Old Testament.

  • our founding truth · March 5, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Grant Canyon: Second, you have, today, in this world, now, as we speak, plenty of people who are more than willing to lay down their lives because of their religious beliefs. Why should we believe that things were so different 2000 years ago?

    Your reasoning is flawed. Not a reputable scholar for two-hundred years denies Jesus’ existence. Liars don’t make good martyrs. People do not die for something they know is false.

    Non-Christian sources support Jesus’ historicity more so than any other figure of the ancient world. The Apostles did not make up anything for the fact of history (critics included) reporting Jesus’ life and crucifixion. Josephus’ original in Arabic was not corrupted by catholics, written in 90 AD, is not taken from a made up story by poor fisherman. Same with Tacitus,(115AD) Suetonius,(117AD had access to official Roman records) Thallus,(52AD)by Julius Africanus, Talmud(135AD) Jews admit Jesus was crucified, Pliny the Younger(112AD) Emperor Trajan(112AD) Emperor Hadrian(117AD) Toledoth Jesu(400AD) Lucian(100′s).

    Any claim Jesus didn’t exist is foolishness.

  • Caledonian · March 5, 2009 at 11:12 am

    “Any claim Jesus didn’t exist is foolishness.”

    No, just undersupported.

    “Not a reputable scholar for two-hundred years denies Jesus’ existence.”

    Why bother? Even if they took the Christos cult seriously, it’s unlikely that there would be enough evidence to demonstrate that such a person *didn’t* exist even a few years after his supposed death.

  • Xenocles · March 5, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    OFT: Seriously, do you even think when you write this stuff? Why on earth would a Jewish Roman citizen write in Arabic? Well, he didn’t. Josephus’s works were originally in Greek. During their golden age the Arabs preserved a huge amount of Greco-Roman works in their own language, hence the Arabic translation. Should anyone be surprised that they faithfully copied that book the way they faithfully copied so many others?

  • Grant Canyon · March 5, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Your reasoning is flawed.

    Nonsense. That religious people have been throwing their lives away for millennia is a well-known fact. First century christians accepting martyrdom need not be different. It certainly suggests that there may be other reasons other than the truth of the New Testament for them doing that which they did. As I said, it may be enough to seal the deal for you, but not for me.

    Not a reputable scholar for two-hundred years denies Jesus’ existence.

    That’s no true, but so what if it is? The question is whether there is more documentary evidence of Jesus’s existence over any ancient personage. That scholars believe that Jesus existed is irrelevant, or at best, tangentially related to that question.

    Liars don’t make good martyrs. People do not die for something they know is false.

    Who said they had to be liars? Who said that they had to know it was false? Perhaps they were misinformed. Maybe they were crazy. Maybe the stories of their martyrdom are inaccurate. Perhaps they really, really, really wanted to believe the story was true to the point where they began to value that desire for belief above their instinct for self-preservation.

    The “Liar, Looney or Lord” argument (and its off-shoot applicable to apostles) is so full of holes, I’m surprised that anyone even brings it up anymore.

    Non-Christian sources support Jesus’ historicity more so than any other figure of the ancient world. The Apostles did not make up anything for the fact of history (critics included) reporting Jesus’ life and crucifixion. Josephus’ original in Arabic was not corrupted by catholics, written in 90 AD, is not taken from a made up story by poor fisherman. Same with Tacitus,(115AD) Suetonius,(117AD had access to official Roman records) Thallus,(52AD)by Julius Africanus, Talmud(135AD) Jews admit Jesus was crucified, Pliny the Younger(112AD) Emperor Trajan(112AD) Emperor Hadrian(117AD) Toledoth Jesu(400AD) Lucian(100’s).

    Second century and later sources are irrelevant. At most they can stand as evidence that others believed Jesus existed. They are not evidence of the truth of the others’ belief anymore than me writing, today, that Joseph Smith was visited by the Angel Moroni is evidence that that event occurred. I can, one or two centuries out, write what others believe, but that is not evidence of the truth of the matter asserted.

    Further, most of this writing is mere reportage on Christians, not Jesus. Of the first century sources, Josephus was born after the fact; doesn’t mention Jesus, except (maybe) in the context of writing about Early Christians and their beliefs. Thallus’s work is lost and references to it which exist are vague to the point of uselessness.

    So the written evidence of Jesus rests on (at best) a number of third- or fourth-hand sources. Nothing more. That doesn’t establish that he existed or didn’t exist, just establishes that he’s not the best supported figure in the ancient world.

    Any claim Jesus didn’t exist is foolishness.

    No, it isn’t. He probably did (or at least that there was a man around whom the god-man myth grew), but it isn’t foolishness, because so many of the mythical elements of the story have parallels in other god myths, that it is worthwhile to question whether this was made up whole cloth or not. But the question is not whether he existed or not, but whether there is more evidence for his existence than anyone in ancient history. And clearly there is not.

  • our founding truth · March 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Why on earth would a Jewish Roman citizen write in Arabic?>

    What does a copy manuscript conclude? The Arabic manuscript appears to be the original, and tells us the Christian manuscripts were most likely corrupted. Josephus is an excellent secular corroboration of the historicity of Jesus Christ, much closer to the recording of actual events than pagan personages.

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