Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Is it Laziness or Lies?


Try something for me. Visit a Xian blog and ask for evidence that Jesus existed that is contemporary to his life. You won't get it, but you will get a whole bunch of references to the gospels being eye witness testimonies, references to Josephus, etc. It seems that most Xians you find are blissfully unaware of the problems that abound with these sources (i.e. that the gospels were written well after the fact and not by eye witnesses, or that the writings of Josephus were later fabrications by Xians desperate to support their mythology).

This bothers me. Why is it that Xians can't be bothered to find out the facts?

Well, as it turns out, not all Xians are too lazy to look things up. Some are, and they rightly deserve to be called out on it, but some actually do look these things up. The problem is that the experts of the religion (popular apologists like Lee Strobel or William Lane Craig) uncritically assert this baloney and dupe innocent others into unwillingly passing on falsehoods. Now, either these Xian "scholars" are themselves duped or they are intentionally passing on lies.

Maybe they are themselves duped. This has become a cottage industry, the passing on of Xian lore, the upkeep of the religion. The old "scholarship" of Xian "scholars" that declared these things doesn't get purged because people simply want it to be true. So, even the modern "scholars" have been duped and brought in, and they can't be bothered to look outside of their own interests to find out what the reality is.

Or, maybe they simply like their position of power or their ability to sell books to an ever-eager audience that so desperately wants Xianity to be true and to be historically supported. There's lots of reasons why they would intentionally seek to mislead the masses.

That the options come down to deceit or simply incompetence or laziness does not speak well of the Xian "scholarly" community.

20 comments:

Tiger said...

I don't think they're actively malicious. I think they've just mastered the art of cognitive dissonance.

Pine said...

GCT:

What type of evidence are you looking for? Can you produce the type of evidence you are requiring for my ancestors who lived during this time? For your own ancestors? Should we assume they didn't exist?

For that matter, I can't "prove" Adam, Abraham, Job, Saul or many of the other major Biblical characters lived 'historically' or 'archealogically'. Why is that a problem?

I mean, proving they lived wouldn't necessarily make the stories about them true, and not proving they lived doesn't detract from the fact they COULD have lived... so it seems like a moot point. Or am I missing something here?

Alan said...

Pine, I think you are missing something. You must believe these people existed if you want to attribute these actions and sayings to them.

"I mean, proving they lived wouldn't necessarily make the stories about them true, and not proving they lived doesn't detract from the fact they COULD have lived."

Yes but proving they didn't exist does make the stories about then untrue!

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

For me, it was very hard work to keep reconciling all the problems of scripture. I spent many a stressful night praying for God to show me how the problems I saw were not problems. Of course I read commentaries and full books on these problems and made them all go poof!

Once I stopped reinforcing the cognitive dissonance I could suddenly see all the glaring problems again.

Alan said...

Gee Mike, I'll bet you look back now and regret all that wasted time, all those stressful nights..

Pine said...

Alan:

Does lack of documented proof of their existence prove they didn't exist? Do you have 'evidence' these people did NOT exist beyond that?

If not, then why is my assertion invalid?

GCT said...

Tiger and Mike,
It could very well be simple cognitive dissonance. It's frustrating all the same.

Alan,
Welcome (I don't think I've seen you comment here before?)

Pine,
I would like to see evidence to support the claims made by Xians. One claim is that Jesus was born a virgin, did miraculous things, died by crucifixion, and was resurrected, yet there's no evidence for any of that. There's scant to no evidence that he existed, let alone that any of those things are true. A common claim of many Xians is that 500 people witnessed him resurrected, but there's no evidence this is so, except an account that this is so by someone who wasn't there, is writing well after the fact, and was most likely dealing with mythological stories that had been passed down by word of mouth.

Another common assertion is that the disciples were martyred for the cause, but again we have scant evidence that they existed, let alone what happened to them. There is some evidence that some (I believe 2 of the supposed 12) people that may or may not have been disciples of Jesus (same names and time frame) did meet ugly deaths. But, to claim that all 12 did and that we know they did and that we know what they saw, etc, is simply reaching well beyond what the evidence gives us.

So, yes, you are missing something. Without evidence that the Bible stories are true, we have no reason to think that they are. In fact, we have every reason to suspect they are not true due to the similar histories of other mythologies, etc.

Pine said...

GCT:

Not to split hairs, but I think we're mostly in agreement which is why I want to clarify my position here. I do not claim to have any information you are looking for, but I should also state I have not researched this.

So, my assertion is basically that:

1. Even IF hard evidence showing all the Biblical characters lived did present itself in the form of undisputable historic documentation this would still not prove that all the stories about those people were true.

2. Lack of evidence in historic documents regarding a person's life does not necessarily mean they COULD not have lived.

At best this discussion can only lead to further speculation. Putting the stories about them aside, is there any evidence I should consider which proves any of character of the Bible did NOT exist? If so, what is it?

Alan said...

GCT, hi this is my first time. I was trying to have a back and forth with Ned on Facebook and he suggested I come here. It looks like fun.

In Australia recently a religious TV program in the spirit of equal time did a program on the similarities between jesus, chrishna and buddha. I thought this might be interesting and while the show built to, in my opinion, the only possible conclusion it could, that the three stories are total myths, it ended saying that the three stories are equally valid... Blah give me strength! Not that its mostly christian audience would be swayed anyway but you can hope.

Pine, you're the one doing the speculating. As GCT said

"Without evidence that the Bible stories are true, we have no reason to think that they are. In fact, we have every reason to suspect they are not true due to the similar histories of other mythologies, etc."

The overwhelming evidence is they are made up stories and therefore not worthy of serious discussion.

Pine said...

Alan:

I am not defending (at the moment) the stories of the Bible. My only thought and assertion is that simply because no documented historical evidence exists for a person does not "prove" they did not exist.

Why all the talk about the stories? What have "I" asserted in my question in this thread other than these people could have existed? Didn't I even go so far as to concede that merely proving one's existence is not proof of anything that person was said to have done?

Sorry if I'm being really ignorant of what people are trying to say here... but I really don't see where the 'problem' of existence lies...

Alan said...

Pine said:
"I am not defending (at the moment) the stories of the Bible. My only thought and assertion is that simply because no documented historical evidence exists for a person does not "prove" they did not exist."

No, but neither does santa the easter bunny or the tooth fairy. I can't fathom why anyone would waste energy trying to prove an obvious nonsense. There is no documented evidence and the many similarities between many past "people" leads a sensible person to the obvious conclusion that none of it happened! They are stories to scare illiterate peasants into behaving. To some extent they worked then, to a vanishing lesser extent they work today. It is time to relegate them to the fairy tale books and get on with a non-magical real world life.

GCT said...

Alan,
"GCT, hi this is my first time. I was trying to have a back and forth with Ned on Facebook and he suggested I come here. It looks like fun."

Hope you stick around. Who's Ned?

Pine,
Alan pretty much said what I would have said. In the absence of evidence to believe in such fantastic tales and believe in the existence of such people, why should we? And, if we don't believe in the existence of these people, why believe in the Bible?

But, the point is that many Xians tend to want to support their theology, and they think they can do so historically. The problem is that they really can't. As you point out, even if they could show that Jesus existed, they can't show that any of the events happened as told in the Bible.

To make matters worse, some apologetic arguments are predicated on these stories being true and these people existing. Take William Lane Craig's arguments for example, where we claims that the disciples were there and wouldn't have died for a lie, or that the body had to be missing because Jesus was resurrected. He has not one scrap of proof to back up the assertions that he uses.

Alan said...

GCT, thanks, I think I'll stick around, this looks like fun.
Ned is Edward Brekelbaum/ nedsfaith. He pointed me here.

"To make matters worse, some apologetic arguments are predicated on these stories being true and these people existing."

This is where their whole edifice falls down. They have constructed this whole involved mass of lies over thousands of years and the entire thing is built on a total myth. It never happened!! I fail to follow some of the arguments because they seem to assume some things as a basis for later arguments that simply can't be proven.

GCT said...

Ah, nedsfaith.

I used to go to his blog and point out all the flaws in his arguments. I haven't gone there in a while. If he's directing people here, maybe I made an impression.

Pine said...

Alan and GCT:

Ok, fair enough. Let's say we have not a shred of proof for the stories. Do you assert we should assume there was no person named Jesus? Who lived at the time He was suppossed to have lived?

If so, then by the same criteria you are holding the Christian to, shouldn't we also assume our own ancestors did not exist except for those people who meet the criteria of documented historical evidence? If you feel this would be ridiculous, then why is it different?

If you feel that it is safe (or at least plausable) to say that a historic person bearing the name Jesus existed, then it is at least POSSIBLE (albeit slim) that the things written about Him happened as written. Why is further proof needed to establish the plausability?

I will have to spend some time researching a bit of this. I'm sure it'll come up in a class at Bible College eventually... or if I can't wait and have time I'll try to do some more research on my own.

GCT said...

Pine,
"Ok, fair enough. Let's say we have not a shred of proof for the stories. Do you assert we should assume there was no person named Jesus? Who lived at the time He was suppossed to have lived?"

It's not an assumption, it's a lack of belief. I'm saying that we have no reason to believe in Jesus, so we should not.

"If so, then by the same criteria you are holding the Christian to, shouldn't we also assume our own ancestors did not exist except for those people who meet the criteria of documented historical evidence? If you feel this would be ridiculous, then why is it different?"

We have evidence that our ancestors existed...namely that we are here. What my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather did, what his name was, etc. I can't tell you. Nor can I speculate on it. All I have evidence for is that such a person did exist because it is a necessary condition for me to be here. I am the evidence in that case.

"If you feel that it is safe (or at least plausable) to say that a historic person bearing the name Jesus existed, then it is at least POSSIBLE (albeit slim) that the things written about Him happened as written. Why is further proof needed to establish the plausability?"

It's possible that someone named Jesus did exist. It's possible that this person was a preacher of sorts. It's possible that the Bible stories are true. These are all highly unlikely, however, and the evidence that we do possess argues against these things being true (well, the last one at least).

"I will have to spend some time researching a bit of this. I'm sure it'll come up in a class at Bible College eventually... or if I can't wait and have time I'll try to do some more research on my own."

I suggest that you do that, and look for sources that are impartial.

Tigerboy said...

I remember a few years ago, when "The Passion of the Christ" was playing at the theaters, I overheard a conversation between two coworkers who had just seen the movie.

They said things like:

"Wow, I always knew that Jesus had suffered on the cross, but I hadn't realized how bad it actually was."

I wanted to scream.

Does anyone realize that there is no record of a Roman crucifixion of a Jewish preacher named Jesus? This guy supposedly attracted the attention of "multitudes." We have records of other Roman crucifixions. Other crucifixions are talked about by contemporary historians, but this guy who spoke to "multitudes"? Nothing.

These two coworkers saw a Mel Gibson movie, and now they are ready to testify about how the thing actually went down! They saw it, right there, up on the screen!

People tell stories. It is wired into our DNA.

Q: What is the motivation behind these Jesus stories?

A: To teach people morality, to teach people what to think, and to control their behavior.

If you have a story to tell, and the point of the story is to control my behavior, and your story is going to take huge liberties with scientific realities, and what I know to be true about the universe, you better have a little proof.

In the face of ZERO proof, you don't mind if I totally dismiss your little fable, do you? Thanks.

By the way . . . whether, or not, my grandmother existed, or George Washington existed, these have far greater evidence for their having been true--photos, locks of hair, paintings, wooden teeth, birth and death records, actual grave stones, household objects, RELIABLE anecdotal evidence, OBJECTIVE anecdotal evidence.

And, they have a far lower standard of proof, at least, for me.

My grandmother's existence does not carry a huge agenda about controlling people. Nobody ever used my dead grandmother to solicit donations. Nobody ever claimed that my grandmother brought people back from being dead. If they ever do claim those outrageous things, about my grandmother, I might need to take a MUCH closer look at those claims.

My grandmother was a sweet lady. She grew up in Detroit. She was a hard worker. Her favorite food was roast beef. She liked wearing polka-dot dresses. Does that information carry an agenda? No. Are any of those claims suspicious? No.

Jesus was born of a virgin. He raised the dead. He healed the sick, and he flew, bodily, up to the sky. Seriously? Do you think I'm that stupid?

Alan said...

GCT said...

Ah, nedsfaith.

I used to go to his blog and point out all the flaws in his arguments. I haven't gone there in a while. If he's directing people here, maybe I made an impression."

Yeah, I met him on Facebook while posting in one of my causes, "Abolish organized religion" or some such. He seemed to be arguing on the side of sanity, later turns out not. Anyway we have been chatting back and forth and he finally suggested I come here. He still has those erroneous ideas so I don't thing you made enough of an impression.

Alan said...

Tigerboy:
That's my whole point! They have built up this enormous structure with its rules, rituals, sayings, clothing and even diet restrictions, not to mention obscene sexual practices and it's all supported by absolutely NOTHING! A bigger joke/hoax has never been perpetrated. What I find even more staggering and makes me doubt the sanity of humans in general is the ease with which some schizophrenic madman can so easily convince them he's a messiah or some such and have them give him everything they have, even their life! Very sad...

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Alan said...

"Gee Mike, I'll bet you look back now and regret all that wasted time, all those stressful nights.."

I wouldn't say I regret them as they were all part of the process that led me to where I am today. It's all a learning process.

Were their more productive things I could have been doing? Of course. Would I have been doing more productive things? Who knows? Probably not. ;-)