I don't understand the faith people put in religious texts

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LaserGuy
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:07 am UTC

thorgold wrote:First of all, the original authors were eyewitnesses to the events described.


We have no evidence that the works called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written by the people whose names are attached to them, nor is there any evidence that they are written by eyewitnesses. Most of the New Testament works are anonymous, except for the letters of Paul. The Gospel of John in particular is believed to be written in approximately 100 AD, making it unlikely that any of the disciples, if such people existed as described, would have been alive to write it. Matthew and Luke are clearly derivative works based off of Mark, not independent accounts. At best, we have two complete accounts, John and Mark, as well as evidence of perhaps another account, Q, which may be independent of Mark, but whose authorship is also unknown.

thorgold wrote:Even by extremely liberal estimates, the gospels were written by 62 AD - 30 years after Jesus' death. By conservative estimates, they were written within a decade.


Citation needed. Mark is generally believed to be the earliest Gospel, written around 70 AD. The others follow it by a few decades yet.

thorgold wrote:All but one of the twelve were executed - Peter in particular was crucified, which is even now considered the most painful method of murder devised by man in history. If the Apostles lied about Jesus, or even if they were telling the truth, why die over it unless it was authentic?


They probably did believe it was authentic. Doesn't mean it was. Fanaticism for a particular belief doesn't actually impact its truth value. We have lots of examples of people willing to commit really, really, insane things, up to and including death, based on completely false beliefs. We have plenty of examples of legends growing remarkably quickly out of a tiny nugget of truth.

thorgold wrote:However, the Jewish Misnah (the collective work of leading Rabbi over the centuries on the Talmud) makes mention of Jesus - positively. The Misnah, written by the fiercest antagonists to Christianity, itself confirmed Jesus' supernatural acts, only disputing the source of his power being demons rather than God.


Except these many of these references are believed to have been written in the 3rd or 4th century, so the authors would have access to the Gospels, and may have been writing in response to these, rather than based on any historical accuracy of the texts.

thorgold wrote:Josephus


Given that Josephus was born after the death of Christ, his accounts are little more than hearsay. As is, the references he makes to Jesus are pretty sparse.

thorgold wrote:Pliny the Younger


Same problems as above. Pliny the Younger was born 30 years after Jesus' death.

thorgold wrote:Even the miracles of Jesus were corroborated. The earthquake and darkness that struck the world after Jesus' death were recorded by Thallus, Julius Africanus, and Phlegon


Only Thallus would have been alive to see it. Curiously, he also fails to mention the hundreds of zombies coming out of their graves as described in Matthew, which ought to be somewhat more remarkable than either an earthquake or a solar eclipse.

thorgold wrote:Finally, consider the fact that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses. If eyewitnesses of Jesus were writing false things, why do we have no record of sceptics?


Presumably because the legends of Jesus' miraculous powers appeared only long after his death. It's interesting, for example, that Paul never mentions any events in Jesus' life explicitly, nor any of the miracles later attributed to Jesus. Paul's works, are, of course, the earliest Christian works and predate the Gospels by some decades.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby krogoth » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:32 am UTC

thorgold wrote:If eyewitnesses of Jesus were writing false things, why do we have no record of skeptics? Wouldn't someone say "I was there, he didn't heal that man!" or "He didn't feed 5,000 men!" Yet we have no records of people denying his miracles.
Because that doesn't make such an entertaining book? Let alone the lack of reason in that day and age to spend so much of your quite valuable time dismissing something only 1-2 people have written about (as per LaserGuys notes)?
Not to mention the difficulty orally dissuading people whom have been indoctrinated.
R3sistance - I don't care at all for the ignorance spreading done by many and to the best of my abilities I try to correct this as much as I can, but I know and understand that even I can not be completely honest, truthful and factual all of the time.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Technical Ben » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:50 am UTC

But there are critical writings. None of the critical writings either agree on the "facts" they present (so no consensus) or provide accurate details to allow us to confirm their authenticity.
For example some of the critical writings were obviously written to be fanciful and add stories not relevant to a historical record. Other are obviously not written with eyewitness or correct information, as they make mistake over simple facts. Such as who was ruling or what local customs were. Things that eyewitnesses would not get wrong.

Just like we have critical writings about history and science today. Which ones do we assume will survive, the correct ones, or the incorrect ones?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby morriswalters » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:09 am UTC

krogoth wrote:
thorgold wrote:If eyewitnesses of Jesus were writing false things, why do we have no record of skeptics? Wouldn't someone say "I was there, he didn't heal that man!" or "He didn't feed 5,000 men!" Yet we have no records of people denying his miracles.
Because that doesn't make such an entertaining book? Let alone the lack of reason in that day and age to spend so much of your quite valuable time dismissing something only 1-2 people have written about (as per LaserGuys notes)?
Not to mention the difficulty orally dissuading people whom have been indoctrinated.


You can add to that the difficulty of preserving any written text for any length of time whatsoever. Writing was expensive, both to create and maintain. You can speculate that it was always written to a point of view, since somebody had to sponsor it. The only way to preserve and spread any work was by copying it by hand, over and over again. Try that for a large body of text.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Technical Ben » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:42 pm UTC

Did those who copied the texts do so for personal gain or because it promoted their ideas? I remember large chunks of the Bible being against popular ideas and the rulers of the time. So it seemed to do neither for them.
However, did it do so because it followed the facts? Was it protected because they saw it as giving truthful comments on the current situations?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby morriswalters » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:36 pm UTC

One can presume that Christians did it to further Christian aims. If you wish to have a unified narrative than you need a record which doesn't depend on the vagaries of human memory. There is no truth to be found nor any facts. It's too long ago to know with any certainty what really happened during Christ's time if he did exist. He would have been important mainly to his followers so that he is not mentioned in the remaining records or is mentioned in only in passing is not surprising.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Falling » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:45 pm UTC

krogoth wrote:
thorgold wrote:If eyewitnesses of Jesus were writing false things, why do we have no record of skeptics? Wouldn't someone say "I was there, he didn't heal that man!" or "He didn't feed 5,000 men!" Yet we have no records of people denying his miracles.
Because that doesn't make such an entertaining book? Let alone the lack of reason in that day and age to spend so much of your quite valuable time dismissing something only 1-2 people have written about (as per LaserGuys notes)?
Not to mention the difficulty orally dissuading people whom have been indoctrinated.


Or most importantly, the earliest gospel is believed to have been written 30+ years after Jesus' death. There probably weren't that many eye witnesses and memory starts getting unreliable after a few decades.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby thorgold » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:28 am UTC

Counterpoint to Laserguy:
Spoiler:
LaserGuy wrote:We have no evidence that the works called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written by the people whose names are attached to them, nor is there any evidence that they are written by eyewitnesses. Most of the New Testament works are anonymous, except for the letters of Paul. The Gospel of John in particular is believed to be written in approximately 100 AD, making it unlikely that any of the disciples, if such people existed as described, would have been alive to write it. Matthew and Luke are clearly derivative works based off of Mark, not independent accounts. At best, we have two complete accounts, John and Mark, as well as evidence of perhaps another account, Q, which may be independent of Mark, but whose authorship is also unknown.

I'd actually hoped someone would call me out on the identity of the authors, as I noticed that was one area I missed in my last post. The authenticity of the documents as written by singular authors is a fairly reasonable question: these works are 2,000 years old, how the heck do we know that the authors we attribute truly wrote them?

First, consider the identity of the authors of the New Testament. We have no Gospel of Peter or Gospel of James; we have Matthew, a tax collector, Mark, a student of Peter, Luke, a student of Paul, and John, the "beloved" apostle. Furthermore, we have Paul, who prior to his conversion imprisoned and murdered hundreds of Christians, along with the brothers of Jesus (who were largely unmentioned). Why would the authorship of the most important books of early church doctrine be attributed to relative nobodies? Why not give the authorship of the book of Matthew to Peter, the forefront leader?

Essentially, if the gospels were fabricated a century after the fact by groups of people, we would not have such credits - it doesn't make sense. The gospels would be all the more powerful if they were believed to be written by the well-known apostles, the movers and shakers in the stories of Jesus. In fact, the Gospel of John, the only gospel attributed to a major apostle, was the one that saw the most trouble being accepted as canon by the early church due to disputes over its authorship!

The standard of determining canon in the early Christian church was threefold - first, the authorship must be confirmed without question to be of someone who had close proximity to Jesus, namely an apostle. Second, the document could not, in any way, shape, or form, contradict existing canon. Third, the document had to be accepted as canon by the entire Christian church. There's a reason the canon took 200 years to assemble, and that's because the entirety of the (initially small) Christian church had to agree on the canonocity of a work - if any church disagreed, their disputes had to be addressed in full. To say that the gospels were fabricated is one thing, to say that a community numbering in the thousands managed, in one accord, to create four unique manuscripts that falsified events that occurred within living memory is analogous to the conspiracy theory that the moon landing was hoaxed. It's simply not possible that the early church even had the ability to falsify the gospels, let alone wipe out all records to the contrary!

And yes, I said "living memory." Your proposed dates for the Gospels are, simply put, wrong. Whatever scholar you cite as putting the date for John at 100 AD would be laughed out of a legitimate academic circle - even the Jesus Seminar, which declared 80% of the gospel to be fabricated, stated that the gospels were written by at least 67 AD! As I'll mention later, the absolute latest possible date for the gospels to be finished is 67 AD - the death of Paul. We know this because of the interconnected events mentioned in the New Testament works tie them to be written before Acts - which is written from the point of view that Paul was alive. So, Acts had to be written before 67 AD - so the other books had to be written before Acts, and they all weren't written within a year of each other (especially considering that Paul's missionary journies about a decade, and his letters were written after the primary gospels).

Second, I love that you mentioned Q. I have a question, though: What is Q? Really, what is it? Can you point at a sheet of papyrus we have lying around and say "this is Q?" Do we have any manuscripts? Copies? Copies of copies? No, we do not, because Q does not exist. Q ("quelle," German for "source" for those unaware) is a completely hypothetical document that is the result of a thought experiment. If one assumes that the gospels are simply copies of each other - Matthew copied Mark, John copied Matthew, et cetera - there must be one "source" from which they all borrowed material. That source is Q. Q exists for the sole purpose of filling the void proposed by the theory you pose, and outside of theory there is absolutely no evidence for Q.

So why is there so much correlation between the Gospels?

If you ask four people to watch a movie, then ask them to write a report on that movie, you'll get four wildly different essays. One may focus on the powerful soundtrack, one may be parody of the bad acting, another may summarize the plot. Yet, all the essays will mention the same material... because they're based on the same subject. Why is it so hard to believe that the Gospels share the same subject matter because they were written about the same subject? The gospels differ in that each author observed and recorded different details - Matthew saw fit to emphasize certain parables while Mark focused on others. If Matthew details the same parable as Mark in the same tone, does that mean he copied? Or perhaps he's using that excellent cultural memory I mentioned in my previous post to recall the same event!

thorgold wrote:All but one of the twelve were executed - Peter in particular was crucified, which is even now considered the most painful method of murder devised by man in history. If the Apostles lied about Jesus, or even if they were telling the truth, why die over it unless it was authentic?

They probably did believe it was authentic. Doesn't mean it was. Fanaticism for a particular belief doesn't actually impact its truth value. We have lots of examples of people willing to commit really, really, insane things, up to and including death, based on completely false beliefs. We have plenty of examples of legends growing remarkably quickly out of a tiny nugget of truth.

Fanatacism would lead to the same conclusion, but consider, again, that these were eyewitnesses. True witnesses to an event rarely are full fanatics - it's the 2nd-hand believers that fall prey to extremism, and the dangerously insane. Eyewitnesses, able to draw on personal memories of events and judgment of a person or belief, will not - simply out of rational instinct - follow a false belief to the death.

thorgold wrote:However, the Jewish Misnah (the collective work of leading Rabbi over the centuries on the Talmud) makes mention of Jesus - positively. The Misnah, written by the fiercest antagonists to Christianity, itself confirmed Jesus' supernatural acts, only disputing the source of his power being demons rather than God.


Except these many of these references are believed to have been written in the 3rd or 4th century, so the authors would have access to the Gospels, and may have been writing in response to these, rather than based on any historical accuracy of the texts.

Even if you throw out the corroborating evidence, the fact still stands that the Jews - the most adamant deniers of Jesus' deity and purpose - made absolutely no counterclaim to the records of his miracles. No historical source even hints that Jesus' miracles were forged, or that the events were falsified - if there had been any doubt as to the authenticity of Jesus' miracles, the Jews would've leapt upon it.

thorgold wrote:Josephus, Pliny the Younger

Given that Josephus was born after the death of Christ, his accounts are little more than hearsay. As is, the references he makes to Jesus are pretty sparse.

Same problems as above. Pliny the Younger was born 30 years after Jesus' death.

The time separating them from Jesus is irrelevant - both were a historians whose works spanned the entirety of the Roman empire - Pliny wasn't around for Caesar, yet his works remain! Jesus was a carpenter from Nazareth who made claims to be God and was crucified for blasphemy. It wasn't like he was unique in that regard, there were blasphemers and cultists everywhere. So why mention this one guy from a backwater town who was killed two years into his ministry in histories comprable to the Encyclopedia Brittanica?

thorgold wrote:Even the miracles of Jesus were corroborated. The earthquake and darkness that struck the world after Jesus' death were recorded by Thallus, Julius Africanus, and Phlegon

Only Thallus would have been alive to see it. Curiously, he also fails to mention the hundreds of zombies coming out of their graves as described in Matthew, which ought to be somewhat more remarkable than either an earthquake or a solar eclipse.[/quote]

thorgold wrote:Finally, consider the fact that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses. If eyewitnesses of Jesus were writing false things, why do we have no record of sceptics?

Presumably because the legends of Jesus' miraculous powers appeared only long after his death. It's interesting, for example, that Paul never mentions any events in Jesus' life explicitly, nor any of the miracles later attributed to Jesus. Paul's works, are, of course, the earliest Christian works and predate the Gospels by some decades.[/quote]
Again, false - belief in his miraculous powers, again, is traceable within a lifetime of Jesus.

However, as for Paul, his not mentioning Jesus is completely reasonble. First, he wasn't there - his apostleship was granted after Jesus ascended, during the "Road to Damascus" story. He only knew about Jesus from second hand sources, and would not be in a position to write doctrine about Jesus' life in the same way as the apostles. He does, however, write extensively about Jesus' appearing him on the road to Damascus - the one event he was an eyewitness for! Second, Paul's works were letters, not gospels. He wasn't writing history, he was writing letters of encouragement and teaching to his planted churches. The only time he goes at length in to history is when he's defending his legitimacy as an apostle in Corinthians, and even then he says "You already know this, but I have to tell my story again just to make things clear!"

Saying that Paul not talking about Jesus' life should raise suspicious is a faulty logical argument.

For the majority of your arguments, there's a cheap cop-out: Occam's Razor. For you proposed counterarguments, there's a list of premises longer than my arm that must be true in order for the Bible to be falsified. First, all of the apostles had to be clincially insane, thousands of Christians had to unanimously agree to edit events in living memory, historians of the era had to be incompetent (both mentioning the Christian church as influential, yet failing to mention challenges to their falsifications), among countless others.

Consternated Counterpoint to MorrisWalters:
Spoiler:
morriswalters wrote:One can presume that Christians did it to further Christian aims. If you wish to have a unified narrative than you need a record which doesn't depend on the vagaries of human memory. There is no truth to be found nor any facts. It's too long ago to know with any certainty what really happened during Christ's time if he did exist. He would have been important mainly to his followers so that he is not mentioned in the remaining records or is mentioned in only in passing is not surprising.

It's disheartening to read a counterargument when it's blatantly clear you didn't read the entirety of my argument, but I'll play ball. Not only would a unified narrative on the scale of the Bible be impossible by even modern methods, but the Bible is abound with historical fact. The existance of Pontius Pilate was once believed to be false - "Hah!" skeptics said, "The Bible references a nonexistant official!" Queue 1961, when several well-preserved scrolls directly mentioned Pontious Pilate's actions during... yep, the mid 30s AD. Or, in Luke's case, the existence of "politarchs," was pointed to as falsitude until, in the mid 80s, coins were found that mentioned politarch officials in cities in southern Judea.

Truth and facts for you, right there.

NOR is it "too long ago to know with certainty." As I have said, we have manuscripts that date well within the first century - copies of documents, but copies that themselves date from the first century! Does a story become unreliable simply because of time, even if records explicitly from that time continue to exist? Do the letters on the page rearrange themselves to dilute meaning?

NOR is he unmentioned by outside records. As I have said (how I loathe this phrase, now), Jesus is mentioned by several eminent political historians of the era - Josephus and Pliny the Younger, specifically, though others (for whom citations and specifics elude me) existed. Josephus in particular went into some detail on the alleged life and works of Jesus - Josephus, whose works spanned the entirety of Roman history in Israel! Why mention a carpenter who was "important mainly to his followers?" Normal people aren't given articles in the history books, and yet there Jesus is!

Again, I find the blatant double standard... ludicrous! Specifically, "It's too long ago to know with any certainty what really happened during Christ's time if he did exist." Do you kid? Do you intentionally provoke consternation with feigned naiveté? By all the evidence I have presented, for you to claim that even the base historical accuracy of the Bible, disregarding theological topics, is falsified... eGADS, man, I am horrified.
I resate the last lines of my previous post. Assume that all my arguments are wrong - all of them, and your theories are correct. Even by your proposed standards for the Bible, it's still the most accurate and reliable text in history! Countless copies from the first century to the tenth, countless secular verifications, unheard of proximity of writing to the events!

If your goal is to make a high enough standard that the Bible is considered false, go ahead. Just don't go and apply that standard only to the Bible - if the Bible is doubtful as a historical document, so is the rest of human history before the 19th century.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:49 am UTC

thorgold wrote:I'd actually hoped someone would call me out on the identity of the authors, as I noticed that was one area I missed in my last post. The authenticity of the documents as written by singular authors is a fairly reasonable question: these works are 2,000 years old, how the heck do we know that the authors we attribute truly wrote them?

First, consider the identity of the authors of the New Testament. We have no Gospel of Peter or Gospel of James; we have Matthew, a tax collector, Mark, a student of Peter, Luke, a student of Paul, and John, the "beloved" apostle. Furthermore, we have Paul, who prior to his conversion imprisoned and murdered hundreds of Christians, along with the brothers of Jesus (who were largely unmentioned). Why would the authorship of the most important books of early church doctrine be attributed to relative nobodies? Why not give the authorship of the book of Matthew to Peter, the forefront leader?


There is a Gospel of Peter. Several, in fact. And a Gospel of Philip, Thomas, Nicodemus, Bartholomew, Judas Iscariot, Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, to name a few. There are probably dozens of others that are lost to us. The Gospels that are currently in the Bible are the ones of the group that won favour at the various church councils in the 2nd and 3rd Century to canonize them. The ones that are apocryphal didn't make the cut, for various reasons such as denying Jesus' divinity (an issue of some contention at the time). I'm assuming that you would consider most of these to be, if not outright fabrications, at least pseudepigraphical, yes? The idea that the entire church came to a consensus on these matters is nonsense. The Novatianists, Gnostics, and Arianists certainly did not agree on many of the details of theology, or necessarily which Gospels were worth including (and were subsequently labeled heretics and persecuted by the orthodox Church).

thorgold wrote:And yes, I said "living memory." Your proposed dates for the Gospels are, simply put, wrong.


Citation needed.

thorgold wrote:If one assumes that the gospels are simply copies of each other - Matthew copied Mark, John copied Matthew, et cetera - there must be one "source" from which they all borrowed material. That source is Q. Q exists for the sole purpose of filling the void proposed by the theory you pose, and outside of theory there is absolutely no evidence for Q.


Sure there is. But the point isn't that the Gospels of each other--at least, not directly. Mark is generally agreed to be the first Gospel, or possibly a contemporary of Q. Matthew and Luke contain material lifted verbatim from Mark, but also share material, again, verbatim, that is not found in Mark. The idea that independent writers would have, word for word, the same text as another source, is extremely implausible. So, at very least, Matthew and Luke both had access to Mark, and possibly to either each other, or to some other source, which has been named Q.

thorgold wrote:If Matthew details the same parable as Mark in the same tone, does that mean he copied? Or perhaps he's using that excellent cultural memory I mentioned in my previous post to recall the same event!


Doesn't work so well when you're dealing with exposition:
Matthew wrote:he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

Mark wrote:he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

Luke wrote:and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up, left everything, and followed him.


I will not comment on the so-called "cultural memory" phenomenon that you are describing except to say that there are plenty of people in modern times who have memorized texts at least as complicated in the Bible (many Muslims still memorize the entire Qu'ran at an early age, for example), but do not display otherwise outstanding memories for everyday events, speeches, or other texts that they have not studied extensively. If you have evidence to the contrary, I would be happy to consider it.

thorgold wrote:Fanatacism would lead to the same conclusion, but consider, again, that these were eyewitnesses. True witnesses to an event rarely are full fanatics - it's the 2nd-hand believers that fall prey to extremism, and the dangerously insane. Eyewitnesses, able to draw on personal memories of events and judgment of a person or belief, will not - simply out of rational instinct - follow a false belief to the death.


On the contrary, there are plenty of examples of eyewitnesses to events behaving irrationally in response to them. How many people have seen the moon landing and believe it was a hoax? How many saw 9/11 and believed it was controlled demolition, or that a missile hit the Pentagon? How many people believe that they have been abducted by aliens? Many cult suicides, such as the Jonestown incident, include the deaths of the cult leader and all followers, eyewitnesses and second-handers alike. Religious persecution or martyrdom is not a uniquely Christian phenomenon.


thorgold wrote:Even if you throw out the corroborating evidence, the fact still stands that the Jews - the most adamant deniers of Jesus' deity and purpose - made absolutely no counterclaim to the records of his miracles. No historical source even hints that Jesus' miracles were forged, or that the events were falsified - if there had been any doubt as to the authenticity of Jesus' miracles, the Jews would've leapt upon it.


The Jews believed he was a sorcerer. At the time, belief in magic was fairly common. There aren't any records disputing the miracles performed by Buddha, Mohammad, or Hercules either, some I'm assuming you believe these are all true as well?

thorgold wrote:The time separating them from Jesus is irrelevant - both were a historians whose works spanned the entirety of the Roman empire - Pliny wasn't around for Caesar, yet his works remain! Jesus was a carpenter from Nazareth who made claims to be God and was crucified for blasphemy. It wasn't like he was unique in that regard, there were blasphemers and cultists everywhere. So why mention this one guy from a backwater town who was killed two years into his ministry in histories comprable to the Encyclopedia Brittanica?


Uh, because Christianity was a somewhat influential or interesting movement at the time? Certainly the later works--those of the third century for example--would have had every reason to include discussions of Christianity--whether there was actual evidence for the events or not--because Christianity was the ascendant religion of the Empire.

thorgold wrote:For the majority of your arguments, there's a cheap cop-out: Occam's Razor. For you proposed counterarguments, there's a list of premises longer than my arm that must be true in order for the Bible to be falsified. First, all of the apostles had to be clincially insane, thousands of Christians had to unanimously agree to edit events in living memory, historians of the era had to be incompetent (both mentioning the Christian church as influential, yet failing to mention challenges to their falsifications), among countless others.


No, the assumptions are simple. The Gospels were not written within living memory of the disciples. As you have yet to present any evidence for this claim, I don't see any reason to grant you that they were written during this period, particular when we have evidence to suggest the contrary (and even if they were, I don't, for the reasons I note in the second assumption, feel that this actually severely undermines my argument). Second, we know that most of the people in this period were uneducated, illiterate, superstitious, and it was extremely difficult to communicate with distant groups. This is consistent with the time and place. There were many stories during this period about gods, people raising from the dead, people performing miracles. Indeed, there were a number of contemporary resurrection cults to Christianity. If people believed stories about miracles performed by Zeus and Aphrodite and Hercules, why not Jesus? Miracles are easy to believe in when you live in a world that you do not understand or control: A thunderstorm becomes a miraculous event; a sickness becomes a terrible daemon. Stories grow in the telling, and cross-contamination of stories between religions is common (do you think it is a coincidence that there are a dozen or so different religions that all have a virgin birth?) These two assumptions are sufficient.

Don't get me wrong, it is entirely possible that there was a charismatic preacher named Jesus, or something similar, who lived in region of Palestine sometime within the time around 0-30 CE. It is entirely possible that he was executed for heresy by the Romans. What we don't have sufficient evidence for are the claims that he had any sort of divinity or magical powers.

Josephus in particular went into some detail on the alleged life and works of Jesus - Josephus, whose works spanned the entirety of Roman history in Israel!


What? Nonsense. Did you even read the links I provided? There is only one undisputed reference to Jesus in all of Josephus' works "And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus... Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned."

The piece of text that you are mostly like interested in, the Testimonium Flavianum, is hotly disputed in academic circles, and is probably, in whole or in part, a later interpolation of his works. This, again, is not all that uncommon for this period in time.

If your goal is to make a high enough standard that the Bible is considered false, go ahead. Just don't go and apply that standard only to the Bible - if the Bible is doubtful as a historical document, so is the rest of human history before the 19th century.


I don't consider the Bible false in its entirety. It is too large and complicated text for that. Some parts of it are almost certainly true. Others are possibly true, possibly false. Others are almost certainly false. The problem is that most of the parts that are almost certainly true are the parts that are rather uninteresting to the average reader. Much like how, we have found evidence for the existence of the city of Troy, and there is evidence to suggest that the city (well, one of the cities built on that location, at least) was destroyed in a war in a period that corresponds well with the Homeric works. So it is entirely likely that a Trojan war did in fact happen. That does not mean that there were ever an Achilles, Hector, or Odysseus, or that these men did anything remotely resembling the feats attributed to them.

[edit]Fixed quotation
Last edited by LaserGuy on Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:54 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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krogoth
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Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:58 pm UTC
Location: Australia

Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby krogoth » Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:43 am UTC

I don't have the skill or patience to write out a full rebuttle, and once again I am just repeating similar things to LaserGuy, (maybe I should become LaserGuys deciple)

The fact that there are people and places similar to those used in the texts isn't a great proof that all the works are true.
Dracula is a work of fiction,though it does contain some historical references.
Harry potter mytical, still contrains real locations.
Southpark contains stories of real people and real places.

thorgold wrote:If your goal is to make a high enough standard that the Bible is considered false, go ahead. Just don't go and apply that standard only to the Bible - if the Bible is doubtful as a historical document, so is the rest of human history before the 19th century.


There are three very good reasons to hold the bible to higher standards than most other works about history.
1. It's the the current subject of this topic.
2. It's a book that aprox 1/3rd of the planet put all their belives in, and pull the standard of living from
3. It's full of magic (highly improbable events)
R3sistance - I don't care at all for the ignorance spreading done by many and to the best of my abilities I try to correct this as much as I can, but I know and understand that even I can not be completely honest, truthful and factual all of the time.

morriswalters
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Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby morriswalters » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:41 am UTC

Thorgold, I neither claim the Bible is true or false, but the facts are subject to debate, and always will be. Any ephemeral event from that era would be. There will never be certainty about this. The Bible itself is a book written by committee long after the fact. In the context of it's era it would be hard to say anything about their thought process as they put it together, why some texts were included and others excluded. If you are a Christian your faith guides you and you believe, if your not then it you won't.

brenok
Needs Directions
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Location: Brazil

Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby brenok » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:59 pm UTC

thorgold wrote:For the majority of your arguments, there's a cheap cop-out: Occam's Razor. For you proposed counterarguments, there's a list of premises longer than my arm that must be true in order for the Bible to be falsified. First, all of the apostles had to be clincially insane, thousands of Christians had to unanimously agree to edit events in living memory, historians of the era had to be incompetent (both mentioning the Christian church as influential, yet failing to mention challenges to their falsifications), among countless others.


I hope you are aware that, despite all the very advanced information technology and media of today, many people don't know that Scientology was a hoax created by a sci-fi writer, right? People are credulous, and were much more 2,000 years ago.

And for the Occam's Razor: so you think it's ok to assume that there was somebody who was immaculately conceived, walked over water, fed 5,000 people with a handful of bread, turned water into wine and made thousands of dead people wake up? Are you really talking about this book full of contradictions?


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