Is there any proof that Jesus existed as an actual flesh and blood person outside of the Bible?
In the second film – all the ‘historical’ writers were bishops…
In addition, the other historical authors are known or suspected to have been re-writing history, in attempt to historicalise his existence.
I don’t buy into the explanations that are given by Christians that there is no record of Jesus because the records were burnt… OK so the records were burnt – all of the records? If all of the records were burnt why do we know so much about the Roman empire? Or were just the records about Jesus burnt?
Perhaps Jesus did exist – and perhaps he did perform miracles, but if I went around walking on water and curing people, turfing water into wine – I think there would be plenty of records of it kept somewhere… after all some pretty mundane records about ‘normal’ people and rulers are found… so why not Jesus… perhaps god erased all the records?
It is all a bit clutching at straws really… and the evidence that is provided, it is all pretty weak, if anything it proves that people were so keen to create a mythical figure to support their religion… a bit like an accountant cooking the books.
Christ is supposed to have been a Jew, and his disciples are said to have been Jewish fishermen. His language, and the language of his followers must, therefore, have been Aramaic–the popular language of Palestine in that age. But the Gospels are written in Greek–every one of them.
Are you having a laugh? Your statements are completely unsupported by any facts. You can’t simply make statements and pretend we have scholarly debate about the existence of Jesus. People would ridicule you unless you provide them with some decent rebuttal. On the issue of burning, we know Rome was burnt, we know the whole library went into flames, but there are other sources that you willingly ignore. We also know of the persecution that followed burning of Rome. Fact that you don’t believe is not my problem, that is your personal to you problem. As for the issue of Greek and Aramaic and New Testament note following. There are plenty of reasons to believe that Book of Hebrews and Gospel of Matthew were originally written in Aramaic but letter translated into Greek. After all Greek was the language that everyone used everywhere else. If you are going to be missionary and talk to others then what you need is naturally to speak and translate relevant texts into that language. Not that difficult to understand.
On translation it is very difficult to understand – Greek is a different language to Hebrew, and the countries where it is spoken are 1000s of miles apart. If the countries were next to each other it might be a plausible explanation.
As for the burning of Rome – so if the whole library was burnt – where does all of our other information come from? Was just the stuff on Jesus burnt? Was it all kept in Rome – do you know this? How do you know this?
A Christian said to me “but you believe dodos existed don’t you”.
Yes I do – because I can go to the natural history museum and see a stuffed one, and there are accounts from different people and different discoveries that are unrelated – this is evidence proof that the dodo existed.
But for one moment – put all this aside… and think about this story of Jesus for a while.
The history of the human race is at least 200,000 years old – so why did Jesus pop along only 2000 years ago – why were the people of Egypt celebrating gods a few thousands years before Christ was supposedly born – if god existed like the bible says he does, the people of Egypt wouldn’t have worshipped their gods – why did god wait all those years before he sent his son to save us from our sins?
And if we all descended from Adam and Eve, why the pyramids? Surely, the pyramids would be celebrating a single god, or Adam and Eve as the father and mother of the human race… but they do not.
And actually when you look at the material facts – the bible is translated – there are some scrolls in clay pots that are dated circa 150 BCE.
But the Egyptian pyramids pre-date these scrolls and are written in stone – so if you are going to believe in any god you should by your own standards be worshipping an Egyptian gods – because there is evidence (stories like in the bible) written in stone that exist in all their glory – that required the crafts and skills of thousands of people (witnesses as you would call them). So why not believe that religion instead… it seems to me to have a lot more evidence than Christianity has ever coughed up.
[“On translation it is very difficult to understand – Greek is a different language to Hebrew, and the countries where it is spoken are 1000s of miles apart. If the countries were next to each other it might be a plausible explanation.”]
Between Old Testament and New Testament Alexander the Grate conquered most of the area that we see reported in the New Testament. In the same way Romans built roads for us, Greeks made everyone learn Greek if they were going to do business with the rest of the empire. So you could argue that at the time Greek was like English today, i.e. everyone spoke the language.
[“As for the burning of Rome – so if the whole library was burnt – where does all of our other information come from? Was just the stuff on Jesus burnt? Was it all kept in Rome – do you know this? How do you know this?”]
No this is not what I said, only that there is a strong possibility that with the burning of the Rome and persecution of the Christians subsequently much of the evidence of Christianity would have been destroyed or put away. From your history lessons you will remember that first Christians did indeed meet in graveyards for the fear of being found out and killed.
[“A Christian said to me “but you believe dodos existed don’t you”. Yes I do – because I can go to the natural history museum and see a stuffed one, and there are accounts from different people and different discoveries that are unrelated – this is evidence proof that the dodo existed. But for one moment – put all this aside… and think about this story of Jesus for a while.”]
I’m not going to engage in this one as it does not concerns you and I here.
[“The history of the human race is at least 200,000 years old – so why did Jesus pop along only 2000 years ago – why were the people of Egypt celebrating gods a few thousands years before Christ was supposedly born – if god existed like the bible says he does, the people of Egypt wouldn’t have worshipped their gods – why did god wait all those years before he sent his son to save us from our sins?”]
Let me ask you this how do you know about the Human history, is it because someone told you about it? Of course the answer has to be yes, but here is the follow up question how do you decide which one to trust? Is it their credentials, for if it is then there are plenty with credential that will disagree with your assertion? Is it evidence that was dug up? Then how do you choose whose interpretation of that evidence are you going to choose? You can see where I’m going with this, all information and imparting of information is passed on to us, it is our critical thinking that helps us decide, but question that follows that one is are you aware how best to use your logic and critical thinking?
[“And if we all descended from Adam and Eve, why the pyramids? Surely, the pyramids would be celebrating a single god, or Adam and Eve as the father and mother of the human race… but they do not.”]
Well actually did you know that at there was a ruler of Egypt that did believe in a single God? Following is from Web page on Egypt;
“The reign of Amenhotep IV (“ay-MEHN-oh-taip”) threw Egypt into religious turmoil. He believed in a single god called Aten (‘`AH-ten”), who was represented by the disk of the sun. He changed his name to Akhenaten (“AHK-nah-ten”) and built a new capital city. This was a wonderful period for artists, architects, and poets, who were all given freedom to experiment. However, rivalry between Akhenaten and the priests of the old religion soon brought civil unrest to the country. Egypt’s domestic problems plus Akhenaten’s hatred of war in turn led to the loss of its Asian empire.”
[“And actually when you look at the material facts – the bible is translated – there are some scrolls in clay pots that are dated circa 150 BCE. But the Egyptian pyramids pre-date these scrolls and are written in stone – so if you are going to believe in any god you should by your own standards be worshipping an Egyptian gods – because there is evidence (stories like in the bible) written in stone that exist in all their glory – that required the crafts and skills of thousands of people (witnesses as you would call them). So why not believe that religion instead… it seems to me to have a lot more evidence than Christianity has ever coughed up.”]
Actually there are few issues you need to consider before you make such claims, between 1446 to 1250 BC Israel and Egypt share common history as Jews were there for some 300 years. Last part of that history Jews were treated as slaves. Two dates given are dependent on to whom you are talking to. But never the less you can see that we know stuff about Jews (Old Testament) lot earlier than what you are saying. Also Moses being educated in the Kings (Pharaoh) palace was well equipped to then record Jewish chronicles.
Incidentally creation story seams to be shared by many nations around world. And if you are to believe them then we indeed share same ancestry and that beginning then removes your obstacle that one nation emerged before the next and we should therefore worship their God. In other words if stories of our early human history are similar then there is the likelihood that all those civilisations may have also known same people at the beginning of the story telling process that started those stories.
Secondly, you do need to analyse what is being said, and based on that information you should hopefully be able to deduce who is copying whom. Many Stories in the Old Testament have also been verified through Historical studies and Archaeology, so I would not give up on my faith just yet.
Lastly if you are giving me a religion that is hard to challenge as there are no way of testing it i.e. like mythical stories that you will find in Ancient Egypt when you compare this with the Bible you can easily see which one sounds realistic and which one is just made up. Study of some ancient literature should help you with understanding this, CS Lewis was an expert in this subject and if you are going to take experts word then why not his, he made it known numerous times that Ancient Bible does not read and does not sound like any other ancient literature. So before we go on further with this can I suggest you look up some literature on the web and check them i.e. then compare these stories with the Bible.
Defend the word
“Lastly if you are giving me a religion that is hard to challenge as there are no way of testing it i.e. like mythical stories that you will find in Ancient Egypt when you compare this with the Bible you can easily see which one sounds realistic and which one is just made up. ”
The Egyptians are interesting – especially as their texts are older than the bible, and written in stone – which can be tested… If I was to bet that there was a god, I would believe in their religion – as it has the most proof.
So big fish that eat people (Job) and Unicorns doesn’t sound made up to you? How about people walking on water… or making a woman out of a rib of a man sounds pretty made up to me… no more believable than the Egyptian gods. As for a language or text not like any other – I think that when I see the Egyptian hieroglyphics – they look wonderful, nothing quite looks like them – must have taken them hours to do that… and lots of witnesses too – I reckon it might be probable by your reckoning that man couldn’t have possibly written those stones, or carried that great weight – impossible without diggers I would say – perhaps god helped them – afterall the pyramids are massive – god must have helped them…
You know what you are right – it depends on how you interpret stuff after all.
What I am really interested in is the Mesopotamian religions.
Mesopotamians believed that the world was a flat disc, surrounded by a huge, holed space, and above that, heaven. They also believed that water was everywhere, the top, bottom and sides, and that the universe was born from this enormous sea. (sounds like something out the bible doesn’t it).
Ancient Mesopotamians had ceremonies each month.
The theme of the rituals and festivals for each month is determined by six important factors:
The phase of the Moon (i.e. you mean they did easter and christmas too wow that’s amazing);
waxing Moon = abundance and growth;
waning Moon = decline, conservation, and festivals of the Underworld;
the phase of the annual agricultural cycle;
equinoxes and solstices of the solar year (here is the sun again – that pesky sun keeps rising over and over again doesn’t it);
the mythos of the City and its divine Patrons;
the success of the reigning Monarch (the king);
commemoration of specific historical events (founding, military victories, temple holidays, etc.) (sounds like romans and Hebrews a little – similar theme must be true???)
Primary gods and goddesses (holy spirit)
Coincidence – maybe, or maybe someone copied the idea?
By the way in geological terms the bible isn’t ancient!
[“The Egyptians are interesting – especially as their texts are older than the bible, and written in stone – which can be tested… If I was to bet that there was a god, I would believe in their religion – as it has the most proof.”]
What proof? Please stop just making things up, you don’t make yourself look good by ignoring facts. I think my previous answer on the origins of the same stories is taken out of context you really should read carefully.
[“So big fish that eat people (Job) and Unicorns doesn’t sound made up to you? How about people walking on water… or making a woman out of a rib of a man sounds pretty made up to me… no more believable than the Egyptian gods. As for a language or text not like any other – I think that when I see the Egyptian hieroglyphics – they look wonderful, nothing quite looks like them – must have taken them hours to do that… and lots of witnesses too – I reckon it might be probable by your reckoning that man couldn’t have possibly written those stones, or carried that great weight – impossible without diggers I would say – perhaps god helped them – afterall the pyramids are massive – god must have helped them…”]
First: Let me point out that nobody is talking about letters that make up words and sentences. What we are talking about is if the stories contain rebukes of the story heroes as you will find in the Bible. Secondly you grossly underestimate human intelligence and ingenuity by ridiculing complexity and probability of this being the work of humans. Lastly your view on miracles is related to your philosophical views not scientific influence. God could use physical laws to control the situation or use one law to overcome the other. Same as we in aviatics use force, speed and engineering to overcome gravity.
[“You know what you are right – it depends on how you interpret stuff after all. What I am really interested in is the Mesopotamian religions. Mesopotamians believed that the world was a flat disc, surrounded by a huge, holed space, and above that, heaven. They also believed that water was everywhere, the top, bottom and sides, and that the universe was born from this enormous sea. (sounds like something out the bible doesn’t it).”]
Actually you will not find anything of this kind in the Bible, Bible talks about water but this can easily be explained by vapour as you can deduce from the Genesis story.
[“Ancient Mesopotamians had ceremonies each month. The theme of the rituals and festivals for each month is determined by six important factors: The phase of the Moon (i.e. you mean they did easter and christmas too wow that’s amazing); waxing Moon = abundance and growth; waning Moon = decline, conservation, and festivals of the Underworld;”]
I hate to repeat this again so I will only refer you back to my previous answers and check the rebuttal on the Zeitgeist story I directed you to this previously you obviously didn’t bother to check that have you?
I don’t want to go into minute details here but we have covered this materialistic scientism before, we just will not agree. Despite the fact that no serious scientist even Richard Dawkins would not claim that Science has all the answers. So how come you are so confident, I can only conclude that it has to be faith on your part, so you choose to believe in one religion but refuse to consider the other.
[“the phase of the annual agricultural cycle; equinoxes and solstices of the solar year (here is the sun again – that pesky sun keeps rising over and over again doesn’t it); the mythos of the City and its divine Patrons; the success of the reigning Monarch (the king); commemoration of specific historical events (founding, military victories, temple holidays, etc.) (sounds like romans and Hebrews a little – similar theme must be true???) Primary gods and goddesses (holy spirit) Coincidence – maybe, or maybe someone copied the idea?”]
Let me just refer you to other material as you obviously are not going to take my word for it.
And here is some more on this same blog.
I can’t go over same material again and again. Either bring new evidence or just re read the old one.
[“By the way in geological terms the bible isn’t ancient!”]
That is dependent on your world view, here is something you should think of, The Bible is much older than you and me. So if the age is anything to go by you should listen to it should you not according to your logic. Secondly in terms of eternity 200,000 years is nothing just as much as 3,500 years of Biblical history of Israel is nothing to you.
If the Bible is talking about the beginning then it can rightly claim that it holds understanding about where we come from. And that is what you should be concerned with.
Hi – I don’t comment on many sites but had to on yours. It’s fantastic! I really like how you write – very to the point. Thanks for having this site. I’ll bookmark it and visit regularly. I have a web site with daily Bible readings on it. Please bookmark it – it as at http://www.GotTB.com. God’s Peace!
Thanks for your support, I have bookmarked your web page and will like wise check it. What I find especially exciting about your blog is that it is full of scripture. Often we wonder of to left and right thinking that we have the answer and all along we find God has provided us so richly with his good book. Thanks very much and please keep it going it is easy to give up under the burden of everything else we may have to deal with in our lives.
May God bless you and your family and give you his peace and joy. In Christ Jesus
OK, and how do u explain the gap of 70 years between the historical Jesus and the bible Jesus.
It is quite amazing that NO other writers ever mention any of his miracles.
It`s not a problem of wether Jesus existed or not as a historical person, the question is whether he was really as it is described in the bible.
There are few things that you should consider here; we know that number of texts that Apostle Paul penned down in the New Testament are written around 60 AD, which is around 30 years after the resurrection or death of Christ. Secondly Gospel according to John which was recorded around 95 AD and you should remember that we are dealing with the eyewitness here. We have a partial manuscript which was discovered in 1920’s fragment that is from this Gospel (John) today this is displayed in Manchester UK.
Most scholars have dated this manuscript to around 125AD. Some have admittedly objected to this date and are reportedly split into two camps one suggesting 117 – 138 BC whilst others would like to stretch it further i.e. pre 100 AD to possibly 150 AD. If you take earlier date then you are dealing within couple of years of the original text and even if you stretch it to the maximum you still have 40 to 50 years from the original manuscript.
But note that this does not mean that we don’t have earlier manuscripts it just means that we don’t know of the earlier manuscripts. This study is still ongoing therefore I believe we will continue to find data that strengthens early writings. There were few others manuscripts but these have been disputed, as this is often not precise science.
However note that age of the manuscripts does not mean that the original was not written much closer to the original time. In fact many sceptical scholars speculate that there was original source called “Q” which would be within the time frame of life of Christ. Or Just after and that would mean that any objections are unjustifiable, note that we are not talking conservative Christian scholars here so no need to be sceptical on the contrary. Lastly if you doubt in the life of Christ, his teachings and deeds should you not doubt about other historical philosophers or characters like Plato and so on. Naturally you don’t, as it would be too risky for your reputation but yet it is OK to doubt the context of the book that is much closer to its time than any other ancient literature. This could appear to be double standards, but I guess you will have some other explanation for your doubt.
Defend the Word
“But note that this does not mean that we don’t have earlier manuscripts it just means that we don’t know of the earlier manuscripts.”
Excuse me… but you don’t have to have something to know it exists?
Now that is what I call delusion. How can you be sure that something exists if you or no one else has ever seen it or documented it or studied it.
The issue for me regarding the development of bible, is that the authors were human, just like humans are today – they had motives, some good and some bad.
To believe that these people were any different to the leaders and ‘prophets’ that are alive today is preposterous. Do we have prophets with magical powers alive today – who can walk on water and do other mystical things… erm no.
There are about 3 main points you should have considered, and I’m sure these are included in our previous chats.
1. We hold loads of manuscripts from early church fathers, who have quoted New Testament, we can reconstruct almost entire New Testament apart for one small book that is one chapter in size, its about the slave the Epistle of Philemon has 335 words only, and it’s the only one not in the writings of the early church fathers. We have segments of all New Testament books, it is only the fact that entire books appear later, but as I said before in historical terms this is much closer than any other historical document recognised as reliable, they are behind New Testament by many hundreds of years. It is fascinating to me to see people like you, who claim that they love science and history and are ready to accept something that has far less documentation, books which are far more removed from the original manuscripts then the Bible. This just shows how people show bias against Christianity.
2. “Development of the Bible” meant a very high price had to be paid for many of its authors, that meant death and persecution, and anyone wanting an easy life, care free would not opt out to write lies and distortion. For such obvious bravery demands as a minimum wanting others to know the truth. Secondly your rejection of supernatural is linked to materialistic philosophy and therefore your argument is not scientific but world view related. If there is a God then he could inspire people to write down his words. Simple as that!
3. You assertion that today we don’t have special people, is not in agreement with what some billions of people believe. How do you know that your subjective opinion is any better then those who oppose your world view? Have you got any evidence contrary to that? Now I don’t disagree with you, but I want you to see that you give a lot of assertions, but what is needed is more logical argumentation. Secondly at no point did the Bible say that there are magical things or people, only God who was sometimes involved in altering natural laws on a very rear occasion to further his plan for humanity. There are no stories in the Bible to say and Isaiah just went on like a circus monkey performing miracles, such stories only exist in the minds of atheists who have not read the Bible.
I like how your comments have absolutely no logic to them at all – just random scattered objections that don’t actually make sense when scrutinised.
To have seen something in order to know it exists. I’m guessing you’re an atheist (or at best an agnostic), so believe fully in The Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution with no intelligent/creative design (although I apologise if my assumptions are wrong).
On your logic, The Big Bang or Evolution could not have happened. The reason? Well it wasn’t recorded by ‘witnesses’, it was devised by theorists to explain something that we never really will be able to say with 100% conviction (because we weren’t there). There is no hard evidence in scientist’s/our their hands to testify to this being truth – only best scientific guesses. And given how scientific thought and development progresses with time, whose to say they won’t find something to blow these ideas out of the water? If you think this is an impossibility, I refer you back to your comments about people once thinking the earth was flat….
Scientists themselves won’t admit that there is 100% conviction these are definite, unquestionable truths. Hence The word “Theory” that is tacked on to the Big Bang title and “Theory of” that prefixes Evolution. As a note, believing in BBT and TOE doesn’t mean you’re necessarily not a Christian, as the (theoretical) science of how something came into being/evolved doesn’t explain what (or who) started it.
At least Jesus has witnesses. Oh, and so did the miracles you dispute – which I’ll also cover in a moment.
“The issue for me regarding the development of bible, is that the authors were human, just like humans are today – they had motives, some good and some bad.”
I don’t get what you’re trying to say here. Clearly the Bible had motive – to spread the Word of God. But you appear to suggest there was some other, possibly underhand motive. This again has no logical conclusion. The Gospels were written by eyewitnesses close to Jesus. They were not men of wealth, power or politics who could in any way use these accounts to control or manipulate. In fact Peter specifically told congregations the church belonged to the people, not him, so if anything they absolved themselves from any sense of power and control and simply spread the Word, letting those who wanted to believe do so. Many were in fact persecuted for following the Word or listening to preaching or preaching themselves. The reason it was believed and has stood the test of time is they weren’t just writing stories and then telling everyone – they were simply writing their accounts of events witnessed by hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
“To believe that these people were any different to the leaders and ‘prophets’ that are alive today is preposterous. Do we have prophets with magical powers alive today – who can walk on water and do other mystical things… erm no.”
All this shows is you’ve completely missed the point of Jesus’ life an death. Jesus’ ‘mission’ if you like from God was to sacrifice himself for us to deliver us from sin and in his resurrection allow us to be with God, through Him. Therefore the ‘mission’ ended with Christ’s resurrection. So there is no logical reason for there to be future ‘prophets’ sent by God, since it ended with Christ.
I think you need to read up on what a Theory actually is – in science the word Theory means something quite specific.
Scientific Theories sometimes start out with a hypothesis – when evidence is gathered that supports the hypothesis it slowly becomes a theory.
For example Gravity is a Theory – there is strong evidence for gravity, we do not dispute the existence of it sensibly speaking.
I am an atheist, I do not believe in the god of the bible, for the same reasons that you do not believe in the god of the egyptians – to me it is no different, there is no evidence for the god of the bible – if there was we would not be having this debate and there would not be multiple religions – there would be one.
Scientists do not claim to be 100% certain about anything – even the existence or non-existence of god. It is a a question of probability. Where as most Christian’s will believe 100% that Jesus existed, yet many would dispute the existence of Robin Hood – yet both have similar types of evidence that support their existence.
If you were born in India would you be a Christian – or would you be a Hindu exclaiming that you religion was the right one and Christianity was wrong… your religion is no more right than Islam or any other belief in something supernatural that can not be proven or dis-proven to exist.
In contrast – science knows that the earth is round, and knew it was round even before we blasted people out into space to look back upon it to see that it was round – with their own eyes – this is why we can say that the earth is round – or that it appears to be round within the realms of our understanding of reality – which is reasonable, given that we we can only observe what we can observe.
” The reason it was believed and has stood the test of time is they weren’t just writing stories and then telling everyone ”
Like king Arthur? Robin Hood? How about Santa or the Easter Bunny? All have stood the test of time.. .as for time, it is only 3000 years – that’s not a long time considering the history of th human race is about 250,000 years old that we know of.
“Clearly the Bible had motive – to spread the Word of God. But you appear to suggest there was some other, possibly underhand motive.”
You mean like making money and generating a followig to give people power? – i.e. the Pope and the very wealthy Catholic Church… (don’t beleive everything you read about Christianity: http://mostlywater.org/mother_teresa_faithless_fraud_and_hypocrite)
“All this shows is you’ve completely missed the point of Jesus’ life an death. Jesus’ ‘mission’ if you like from God was to sacrifice himself for us to deliver us from sin and in his resurrection allow us to be with God, through Him. Therefore the ‘mission’ ended with Christ’s resurrection. So there is no logical reason for there to be future ‘prophets’ sent by God, since it ended with Christ.”
Except of course for his return…
Here is my reply
You don’t hear physicist making claims that Gravity is as sure and trustworthy as Evolution do you? So your argument is only half valid. And for the Big bang, you should know that it is not the only theory in town. On the issue of Evolution I don’t think you need to worry as I don’t think Jonny was disputing this only point it out that question is not settled as some may claim it to be. On the issue of History and God, we can easily bring the issue of conscience and Old Testament and both are frequently brought in by Christians so your argument again is short sighted.
Final point on money making institution that you call a church is not necessarily what I or Jonny would call the church. So again you may be barking at the wrong tree.
And should we not forget how you skilfully try to persuade us that mythical creatures are just as likely to be true as Jesus or God. When you know that there are many scholars that don’t believe in first but whole heartedly support second. And you and I talked about this before, so again you just don’t take on board what you are told, you should start taking notes that may help you in the future debates.
You don’t hear physicist making claims that Gravity is as sure and trustworthy as Evolution do you? So your argument is only half valid. And for the Big bang, you should know that it is not the only theory in town. On the issue of Evolution I don’t think you need to worry as I don’t think Jonny was disputing this only point it out that question is not settled as some may claim it to be. On the issue of History and God, we can easily bring the issue of conscience and Old Testament and both are frequently brought in by Christians so your argument again is short sighted.
Tildeb: “I wonder why god waited for so many thousands of years – let’s estimate on the low end just to be safe – and let a thousand centuries pass before deciding to pay us a visit in the person of Jesus and thus ’save’ humanity and ‘deliver’ us from our sin. Why so long? Look how highly we rank as god’s special creation, so that many over 100,000 years could live and die without a moral compass, without having been given the Good News, possibly suffering the torments of hell (separated from god, that is) all unaware through no fault of their own. Seems a bit capricious of a loving god to me.”
Defend the Word: You make so many assumptions and I fear that this is due to your selective reading material. You should consider what others have already done to answer many such questions. First of all do you have any evidence that God was inactive? We have two stories of Creation in genesis could it not be (Just speculating here) that for the age issue this could be sufficient answer you seek. On the issue of moral compass, how about the fact that we have this issue of morality which you could not explain simply through the process of evolution, if anything what we see that evolution demands that weak are oppressed and that is demonstrated in the actions of Hitler and Stalin. So rather then answer this you raise further question which can only be answered by the universal morality could and should be originating from the source that is greater then the creatures that we are.
Tildeb: This raises a few very legitimate questions: did god not care? Did he decide to put off man’s only means of salvation because something else required his undivided attention? Maybe he is just neglectful. Surely he couldn’t be that intentionally mean-spirited could he? I mean, come on: why wait so long when we are assured the suffering of Man is of such special interest to him… enough, apparently, to come on a special mission and die horribly on our behalf?
Defend the Word: Let me answer this in two parts, first of all say God did not care, who are you and I to hold him accountable. If he is the creator and you are the creature he created does your understanding surpasses his? God does not work on the principle of lovey dovey emotional nonsense. Secondly, when the Bible talks about the God of love, it is clear that his desire and intention is for all to be saved, but that also we bare some responsibility. Lastly for someone who stands on the outside, could you not possibility be blinded by your own preconceptions?
Tildeb: Why not send this vital message to a culture that already had writing like the Chinese and perform a miracle like bringing down the Great Wall in its entirety for hundreds of millions to marvel over? Why do the raising of dead and curing the lame to a bunch of ignorant desert nomads? Why continue to have every single bit of divine revelation appear in the same geographical region filled with illiterate sheep herders? Is it a case of inattention or just plain old neglect do you think? Maybe god is really bad at understanding how to get his message out? Seems a rather droll bit of backwater theatre, doesn’t it? God would have to be almost incredulously unaware how to spread his Word effectively and/or efficiently and/or convincingly for the Jesus story to be true, and I suspect any god worthy of the name could do a bit better job than this tosh, wouldn’t you agree?
Defend the Word: You make some valid points if they were to be true however note following.
1. Developed writing and civilisation development is not the criteria that anyone in their right mind would use to separate worthy from unworthy.
2. multi Cultural influences on Israel are significant and they certainly came into many contacts with many different nations therefore they are perfectly placed to spread this message. They were known for their travelling and when you look historically by the time of Jesus you could find Jewish synagogues all over the Roman Empire.
3. If you carefully examine story of Abraham and his background you will note that they had sewer system 1000 years before we had it here. So you need to polish up on your history and archaeology before you can make such claims. This over exaggeration of “primitive man” and supposedly advanced humans today is so overblown out of all proportions that it is laughable. Just look at what they were capable and without any technology that we use today.
4. Finally their location is incredibly important as they are the gate to Europe and middle east so any trading would use that route.
Tildeb: And I think you will have a rather stimulating discussion with good muslims who may take umbrage with your notion that The Big M was not a prophet. Just a word to the wise there, eh?
Defend the Word: Actually we will leave this to you. I’m sure you will be very obliging on answering that question to anyone who may be asking it. This would be of no relevance to the discussion that you would have with someone who calls himself Christian.
There are billions of Christians and billions more that believe in God yet atheists are this small group of people and think we are all crazy – it’s fascinating. How did they become so delusional? To think that we are all mindless followers or only the wealthy – The poorest, up through the wealthiest, most affluent, intelligent classes of people believe in God. They cannot believe that we ever questioned anything or studied it. They are clearly one sided and choose to remain that way. They should seek the truth in everything – look at both sides and then make a rational, intelligent, fact based decision. God bless you Defender for all you are doing on this blog!
Pretty admirable post. I stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say your information seems legit. Will keep posted. Thanks.
There are billions of Christians and billions more that believe in God yet atheists are this small group of people and think we are all crazy – it’s fascinating.
No its not fascinating…
600 years ago most of us believed the world was flat, that doesnt mean they were right.
If you think being in the majority means you are right…clearly you don’t follow your own mantra of seeking the truth.
your post basically says
‘everyone else thinks so…so it must be correct’
there is much documentation on Jesus’ life. However not all of it indicates he is the son of God….
Jesus was almost definately someone who walked the earth. Such a prominent figure can not be made up. At the very last he is an amalgamation of several similair men, or something like that.
The question is whether or not he ascended to heaven
The entire basis of Christianity, or being a Christian is the belief that Jesus was the son of God, sacrificed himself for us and ascended into heaven.
That brings us to the next point and that is that Christianity is more testable then some other religions which are purely philosophical in nature and teaching. But before you could claim that your atheism has merits and logical consistency you must prove why you doubt. Or this is simply because you choose to be more sceptical as a preference to deciding to investigate it with the view that it may be true.
Testable, DTW? That’s a great idea: we are told repeatably that prayer works, that god answers prayers. There are many biblical references to exactly this, including claims supposedly made by Jesus. So let’s test that truth claim… go ahead… pray for something that only a supernatural power could provide…
See what I mean? The test shows the claim is false. Do the test a thousand times. Same result. That is the justified conclusion.
But rather than deal with that truth – that prayers are answered on exactly the same frequency as chance alone and not the least indicative of a supernatural creative god, – those who choose to believe in spite of powerful evidence that the faith claims are false will expend much intellectual effort trying to justify why the unfavourable and consistent results reveal a more profound truth using and twisting the meaning of words and relying on serpentine rationalizations. It is the honest appreciation of truth backed up by explanatory evidence that determines whether or not a belief is justified. If the belief is not justified as in the case of prayer, then why hold it? Holding the false to be true means that some other notion is held in higher esteem than is the truth. That, not an explanation of why someone should NOT believe, is what requires justification.
You, for example, value belief in the christian god above and beyond your respect for the truth, like the lack of efficacy of prayer. If you respected the truth, and tested the idea of whether or not the truth claim about the efficacy of prayer was justified, you would not believe in the power of prayer. Why? Because there is no reason to award this notion any validity. Because you DO award this unjustified notion that prayer is efficacious and evidence for god, it is YOUR job to explain why this other notion outweighs the truth. It is not the job of those who accept the tested results and conclude that prayer does not work to continue justifying why they accept the truth; it is the job of those who reject the justified conclusion to justify why they do NOT accept the truth.
Because there remains no meaningful evidence for the existence of god, there is nothing BUT good reason for rejecting the failed hypothesis that god exists. That LACK of meaningful evidence justifies doubt.
This would all work if it was not for one little thing and that is that today there are literally millions of people who will swear that they have been healed or have witnessed a miracle so your point is completely based on your personal experience and your world view. You can see that your disbelief, is not based on facts but rather opinion and presuppositions which are not founded on a reliable data but sweeping statements. I have personally mentioned before, that personal prayer is answered and have given personal testimonies.
And some of my friends will also include things like leg that was lengthened, cancer cure and Obsessive compulsive disorder healing. And before I forget two friends one of whom was alcoholic and a woman that was a heavy drug user for number of years both have since been free from this addiction and the only reason this is the case as per their own testimony is power of prayer.
And note that these are not unique in any way, you can get personal testimonies wherever you look on the internet. So the only thing that could possibly motivate you is your inner desire that the hopefully this almighty God may possibly not there. So I guess it comes down to the question of trust, do you believe people or would you rather call them liars even when you can’t provide any evidence to the contrary. So which one is it going to be?
your point is completely based on your personal experience and your world view
No it’s not. It’s based on double blind studies that reveals no causation by prayer.
Maybe you don’t understand why it is this kind of testing that outweighs grandma’s assertion that the unexpected cheque in the mail was an answer to her prayers. Assertions and attributions are not evidence, DTW. Causation is evidence. And to show causation, one must test the hypothesis so that prayer causes divine intervention. No such evidence exists. Period. There is no evidence that prayer causes divine intervention with medical cures. There is no evidence that prayer causes divine intervention with regeneration. There is no evidence that prayer causes divine intervention in rehabilitation. All of these occurrences are not evidence for prayer causing divine intervention.
Does that mean I call people who rely on personal testimony liars? No. I call these people believers, regardless of the subject. Are the two words synonymous? Of course not. But people have a responsibility to use the critical faculties they possess if they care more about the truth than their preferences.
And you continue to use an invalid argument that is just flat out wrong: you continue to tell people to prove something doesn’t exist or accept the notion that failure means something does. You’ve got it exactly backwards. Why? THINK! If something does not exist, then what possible evidence can there be? Prove to me a large pink invisible elephant does not live in your inner ear. The best you will be able to do is provide me with the opposite assertion: there is no evidence FOR it living in your ear. Only positive evidence can be used as proof. Only the absence of something that ought to be but isn’t can count. God’s existence, for example, should reveal evidence for its presence. The absence of this evidence is indicative that the hypothesis is wrong. Atheists are quite correct to look around and see nothing indicative of a divine supernatural presence. But of even greater importance is evidence FOR a presence. Atheists are quite correct to ask those who suggest that the presence is there to say “Show me.” Failure on the part of the faithful to provide such evidence is even MORE potent proof that the divine supernatural presence is an unjustified truth claim. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with ‘trust’ and everything to do with the absence of evidence FOR the hypothesis.
What? You should read carefully what I said, really! I never mentioned any absence of information on your part and how that demonstrates validity of my case. You are so quick to answer that you have not read what I said, I have given you specific examples and you can find many more on the net, your decision to distrust those is your personal decision and should not be counted as legitimate rebuttal. You should know better then that after all you claim to abide by logic, so do. There are many such examples in fact for many Catholic saints they demand verification from doctors before new saint could be canonised, and if you are after such evidence then by all means check them out. Note that I ma not a Catholic but as they say any evidence would do to show that your hypothesis is just based on some very strong wishful thinking and not people who believe in power of prayer.
Your world view originates from David Hume and he himself didn’t hold to the views that many atheist have adopted and twisted, secondly you could not possibly claim that you have been present throughout human history or everywhere at once and not just at one point in time in your life but across your life time and then time that with entire human history. You will very quickly see that your philosophical argumentation is based on presuppositions that are not based on factual data, case closed.
I never mentioned any absence of information on your part and how that demonstrates validity of my case.
You use this idea as a cornerstone of your debating style: prove your non belief, prove god doesn’t exist, show me evidence of what isn’t there!
From just this thread:
March 8 6:39: when you can’t provide any evidence to the contrary
March 7, 1:01: do you have any evidence that God was inactive
March 7, 10:30 you must prove why you doubt
Your specific examples do not show causation! They show people who SAY that their prayers were answered. That is not, repeat not, evidence for causation. It’s not a personal decision to point out that these testimonials are not evidence for causation; it a factual observation that these testimonials are not evidence for causation! That is the very definition of a legitimate rebuttal!
So a secret team is sent by the Vatican to establish whether or not a ‘miracle’ took place. It creates a ‘secret’ report and delivers it to the Pope. Lo and behold, someone becomes a saint! There’s evidence for a miracle! Some of these reports are incredibly bad: the latest I read was a woman’s cancer remission in 2009 being attributed by the Vatican ‘team’ to a First Nations girl who lived on the opposite side of the continent 450 years earlier, who magically influenced the cancer patient over time and space. And you want me to take these ‘scientific’ claims of ‘miracles’ seriously… as EVIDENCE FOR CAUSATION? You are willing to do this rather than perform your own set of tests right now right here and pray for supernatural intervention to provide you something you cannot get in any natural way? You won’t do the obvious test but your faith is so strong that the power of prayer is real that you will excuse the absence of any and all evidence of causation and believe instead in what a priest or church tells you. And you accuse me of holding opinions “not based on factual data”?
My ‘world view’ is not from any of the Hume’s thank you very much. Unless and until evidence of the supernatural meets the requirement of providing evidence, I’ll be content to keep to the natural.
January 2, 8:15 Have you got any evidence contrary to that?
I see what you mean but I am astounded that you fail to see simply flaw in your thinking. I never said you should believe in fairytales as you unjustly accuse me of. I have given you plenty of examples and things to rebut. And this is what I think is rather hilarious that you then not having an answer then try to taunt me with “I have not rebuttal for you Mr Defend the Word but shame on you for demanding it from me”. You should really consider your logical processing of information and should not challenge such simple and obvious things if all you have is. I have no answer but you should not demand it. Should you???
For you to demand that I pray this very moment and you to witness miracle is as ridicules as me saying demonstrate to me that you are real and that this is not product of computer random generated data that raises all your questions. What grounds will I have if you demand this to be repeated just 5 minutes after supposed miracle happens? None and fact that miracles by definition are not repeatable events is completely lost on you. You understanding is rather remarkable, for someone who comes with some real jams and you do come with very interesting and insightful thought, you tend also to come up with some rather worrying lack of understanding on very basics logical thinking.
Just think about it, fact that God once did miracles does not demand by any logic that he therefore must do them today. Also note that even whit his activity today these are events that are testable historically and not in laboratory. And the fact that you would refuse to accept this shows your lack of understanding of philosophy of science and lack of understanding of what constitutes historical evidence. I would suggest that you find this for yourself and if you can’t work it out from what I already said many times before I will try and rephrase it, to hopefully improve on my previous communications.
But Jesus tells us (Matthew, I think) very specifically that if we pray, we will receive god’s intervention. That’s why I suggest that you test whether or not that truth claim is justified. It is not. It is not justified and you don’t have to go with my belief that the claim is unjustified; you can prove it to yourself. Once you know that Jesus makes false truth claims, you then have good reason – just cause – to allow some element of doubt to remain present in ALL of Jesus’ truth claims.
Could you provide the exact reference from the scripture and then we can look at the context of what you are referring to. There is nothing in the Bible that says that in the future these things will go on. This is why we have some Christians who hold that all miracles have ceased, and this is not uncommon to many churches, in other words, if this has not stopped them from believing in God why should that make you refute his existence in any way?
Could it be that the claims made by Christ were only meant for the people he was referring to? Note that I don’t have such theological belief, but as you can see logically it is not inconsistent with the faith in God. That is exactly what many deists have believed throughout the history. They believed in a God who is removed from the acts of interference within human history. May I suggest that you yet again make assumption in the text that simply is not there? But I am itching to know what part of the Biblical text you wanted to use to defend your theory. But I’m guessing that it is based on misunderstanding on your part. God never wanted us to treat him as some kind of cosmic vending machine.
I do strongly believe that God answers all our prayers but that some times the answer to our request is resounding “NO”. And at other times where appropriate and often only as a last resort will he interfere in our lives. In other words where all options have been exhausted, where opportunity for other humans to get involved is non existent and it does not serve any self gratification purpose but rather is a prayerful request that is not self obsessed. And last but not least, question has to be directed at many Christians who never ask in prayer in the first place.
Could you provide the exact reference from the scripture and then we can look at the context of what you are referring to.
The context is that the Bible offers us evidence that Jesus is a liar.
KJV: If ye have faith and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
And all things, whatsoever, ye shall ask for in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
The common interpretation is that the certainty of faith will move mountains just as surely as Jesus withered the fig tree and that we can provide evidence of this through prayer: ask and you will receive.
But that’s not true, is it? It is not our certainty of faith that causes prayers to be answered, or millions of loved ones would be alive at the fervent behest of those who prayed for their bodily salvation. Nor does any kind of serpentine interpretation justify Jesus’ claim about the absolute power of prayer… other than falsely assert that we have more control over natural forces than we actually do, so that when our prayers go unanswered as they inevitable do, we can feel guilty that perhaps our certainty of faith had to be just a tad less certain than we thought or our prayers would have been answered. We, so the twisted notion goes, must be blamed for the failure of our own prayers to yield the promised results rather than hold Jesus’ unjustified truth claim responsible for telling us a lie. And make no mistake about it: prayer has been shown to possess the same efficacy as chance and placebo… hence no evidence for supernatural intervention.
Isn’t it convenient to interpret this passage to be time and place sensitive? Or that only his chosen disciples were granted this power?
If the act of writing is intended to successfully communicate the transfer of meaning, then to interpret this passage to mean something other than what it says may allow you to feel good and reject the notion that Jesus was a liar, but as far as the bible is to be considered the in-errent word of god made flesh through Jesus, then at the very least we have a major problem in translating that message with anything resembling clarity.
What I see from what you say is that you are happy to make statements and not back them up but then you demand that statements given by many Christians who have made personal claims are deluded people. This is very inconsistent with your “Logical” approach to the argumentation which leads us to he, said she said mentality. What I said and I maintain it is that if you have evidence that people are making things up you must provide such data, otherwise it is fair to say that in any court of law you would be not acceptable as a witness. On the issue of interpretation, I have clarified that I do not personally hold to miracles being confined to the first century Palestine but at the same time I think you are only looking at the one side of this text.
Here is the lesson plan you should take home and consider from Matthew 21
1.) Jesus is teaching his disciples that is his disciples not you or I.
2.) Jesus is telling them that faith is important though not the only ingredient of work of God.
3.) Without faith you can not serve God, in fact it is this faithfulness to God that is of greatest importance when we consider our walk with God.
4.) Finally let me make sure you understand that many of the promises in the Bible are conditional promises and have what we call caveat, I mentioned this before, that you and I can not treat God as some kind of vending machine so here are Biblical verses so you don’t think I’m just making things up.
Staying within the boundaries of Gods law is essential – you could not kill and expect to have your prayers answered and that goes for all and any sin.
1 John 3:22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
Living according to God’s will is a prerequisite: There is a difference between demanding or asking for his will. You must have heard Christians say it before “God willing”
1 John 5:14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
Self obsession and not focusing on needs of others often results in failure.
James 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
You mentioned that many people have prayed for their relatives to be healed. But your implication is short sighted, if we are only focused on what happens now we will louse sight of the eternal things. Tell me which one is more important just hypothetically lets say you believe in heaven and eternal life. Should we focus on temporary relief of their eternal salvation.
Look what Hebrews says about Jesus and suffering and learn important lesson on how Christians see this problem;
Hebrew 2: 10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Putting the ‘failures’ of my logic to the side, the issue is whether or not there is evidence that prayer is efficacious. Because there is not, I assert that this lack of efficacy is evidence that Jesus, who is said to have asserted that it is, lied.
There are many biblical references that tell us about the efficacy of prayer, some attributed to Jesus. So when we test this assertion, we find consistently that prayer is not efficacious: the first person accounts to the contrary can be explained as the same probability as chance and the same efficacy of placebo. What that means is that prayer is as likely to be answered as by sacrificing a chicken, doing a dance, wearing the right socks, and other equally superstitious claims of cause and effect. There is no evidence that prayer causes divine intervention and, in fact, can be shown to affect those prayed over with a slightly increased negative result (heart surgery, infection rates, complications).
I would expect an interpretation of this consistent failure of prayer to show efficacy from you and other devout people to follow standard operating procedure: the fault for prayer’s failure must be ours. For prayer to be efficacious, we cannot possibly relate its failure to its truth claim. No, no, no. If we believe, we must assume it to be true (thus rendering any REAL AND MEANINGFUL investigation useless because we already ASSUME the answer to be true) and expend energy to explain why the fault must ‘logically’ be elsewhere, usually with us. And this, of course, is exactly what you have done.
You even have gone so far as to insert the old notion that suffering – as part of prayers not answered – itself is god-sanctioned. But look at how you must intellectually twist in the wind to explain the obvious and consistent failure of prayer to be efficacious.
Occam’s razor is pertinent here: the solution to the failure of prayer to be efficacious is probably far less convoluted than various biblical interpretations would have us think. Prayer fails the efficacious test because it isn’t true – there is nothing actually there to respond to prayers. As a testable truth claim, prayer simply doesn’t work… Jesus’ and your assertions to the contrary notwithstanding.
By all means prove what I think wrong not with twisted interpretations supposedly speaking on behalf of god’s intentions and reasons and excuses for this failure of prayer to be efficacious; prove me wrong by establishing that prayer is effective beyond chance and placebo. You will gain far more converts with this kind of evidence than you ever will with interpreting the data to always favour biblical claims.
After all that lovely flowery language, you say very little. Your eloquence in speech needs to be translated in the way you formulate your thought. May I suggest you re read things from the beginning as you will find that some of your objections are answered already. I.e. you make one claim and I can make the other but we must come down to substantiating it, I give you examples and you refuse to accept them. I think it is fair to say that beside me pointing to your inconsistency we must agree to disagree and maybe one day you can reflect and hopefully take some points on board and maybe even consider their importance to you personally.
Note that Christians are not stupid and more trusting in fact you should consider that Christians once stud where you are in the state of disbelief and only after assessing their views could they make right choice based on all the relevant data. And that means not perverting the Bible and pretending that it says something it does not. In other words, do miracles happen yes, is faith important, of course it is. But does that mean that we must demand miracles and get them on and off like an opening and closing of the tap, the answer has to be No! God is not our servant, he is a God and we are his creatures so we should learn to find our rightful place and not elevate ourselves above him.
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I’m not clear why what you call my eloquence needs to be translated into my thought, but to make matters as simple as possible, let me hit the highlights:
I think Jesus lies.
Why do I assert that? Because I have evidence.
What is that evidence?
The evidence is that Jesus says that prayer works and it does not. Not ever. Not for anyone. Prayer does not work any better than shaking a rattle or saying the magic words or squinting really hard.
Therefore, Jesus lies. This I know, for the bible tells me so.
And that, DTW is all the relevant data that is required to be studied to make my point a valid and justified criticism. Anything more is just, as you yourself so eloquently write, “lovely flowery language.”
To refute this point, you means are really very simple: provide efficacy beyond chance and placebo that prayer itself – by even by the most holiest of holy believers in the highest deserving fashion and in the most grovelling way imaginable – causes divine intervention.
Thanks Tileb its appreciated that you are being straightforward in your comments. But I have to say I am amazed at your ability to know stuff that is beyond knowing. I guess we ought to accept your assertion that Jesus was a liar as you must have been there, and you obviously have theological qualifications or in-depth understanding that places you in an authoritative position to make such assertions.
You can see that my sarcasm is meant humorously, but I hope it drills the issue down. Despite the fact that I give you real life examples (eg Drug addicts and Alcoholics who quite their drinking despite many previous attempts and many involvements of psychologists and other counsellors etc, woman that had her leg lengthened of in my case where God provided for my material needs during my days as a young student with number of different people decided to give me financial gifts etc) you ask for more, I have given you more options to investigate things further on your own or to consider other alternatives to the text in question that you disputed. In have also provided you with other Biblical texts that explain in details what we should and should not expect when praying. But I guess you are not interested in listening, which is rather disappointing. I took you for someone who was little bit more open to learn even if that meant admitting their own mistake.
What is however welcomed is that once striped down your statement becomes obvious, and people can easily see how ridiculous your assertion is, this could be forgivable if you did not have all the other information provided to you, but your mistake is that you do not want to admit that you were mistaken.
You are welcome, DTW. I do try to be honest, which often means I can be honestly trying.
You are not alone in your amazement. What extra knowledge people attribute to my perception is often only that which people overlook, the case of what Jesus was reported to have said plain to all yet diabolically difficult to accept as meaning what it says. It ios very challenging for people to rely on the same words but attribute a different meaning in some convoluted way to have what is said appear to mean something totally different than what it actually means. Often, this kind of apology requires many years of specialized training in theological obfuscations but fortunately for us, the bible can be read and understood to mean what it says without any divine intervention to support what the theocrats would have us believe in place of the scripture.I am glad you haven’t fallen into this trap but use the source as much as I.
But a problem that continues to thwart your understanding of why prayer is not efficacious – a key point in my argument – is why first person accounts are insufficient. The reason is pretty simple: we can fool ourselves into believing just about anything. Because the level of subjectivity is complete in first hand accounts, we have nothing to use in comparison except what the person says. I’m sure you can see the problem attributing this method as meaningful if you consider just how often your own assessments – being married – have been wrong or have failed to take into account other input – like from your spouse. A simpler description of the problem of firsthand accounts is how often they are wrong: first year psych courses often stage an event and then collect data on perception, revealing just how wildly different are the accounts derived from just single event. That someone says they grew one leg longer because of prayer in no way substantiates that claim. And each and every study on prayer reveals no efficacy because of prayer. I’m sorry if that fact bothers you but… understanding why something that is not shown to be efficacious is not efficacious is not a ‘mistake’; rather, NOT understanding why first person accounts don’t count as meaningful evidence is.
My assertion is based not on my opinion or beliefs or wishful thinking but on what the source material says and what each reader can prove to his or her own satisfaction: prayer doesn’t work. Prayer does not cause mountains to move, the sick to heal, the amputated limb to grow back, the blind to see, the dead to rise, and so on. There is no evidence beyond what people like Jesus say prayer can accomplish to suggest that prayer actually is efficacious. If that statement is wrong, then by all means prove that it is wrong not by saying it is but by proving efficacy of prayer. If you can do that, I have no problem changing my mind based on best evidence and will gladly admit that I was mistaken.
It is very rare now days to find someone so bright and patient to want to continue to engage in a long and meaningful conversation and for that I am very grateful. But now on the single point on which we have touched on number of different occasions. I know you would prefer testable evidence but by the nature of it miracles or answer to our prayers that are miraculous which is where you are focusing your attention at this moment are non empirical by nature. Otherwise they would be called something else.
My next point was that in fact for events of that nature we must examine them partially as historical event and this is regardless of how recent they may have been, and partially we will need to utilise forensic examination where by we can see if things are different to what they use to be. I.e. the example I give you, it would be easily testable and verifiable if you simply check doctors notes, same goes for any addiction or psychological problems, which some believe may have been recorded in the Bible as the form of demon possession. Whatever the true definition when you record a change in behaviour then this can be taken to be a form of evidence that if no medication was involved it would then merits honest acceptance as an answer to prayer.
I appreciate your intellectual thirst for knowledge and understanding and in a way this is where you and I don’t differ that much but what both of us have to be careful of is to state that we know everything. Intellectual pride can lead to stagnation rather then progress and this is why I continue to read books that I may not agree with or they may have most of the content which is diametrically ideologically opposed to my way of viewing this lovely world.
Interesting you bring the issue of psychological differences and how we differ in our processing of external events, but you have to be careful not to use extremes. You will also note that in the court of law two witnesses would be sufficient to testify against murderer, as would be analysis of the forensic data. So we could not call upon subjectivity as an excuse, otherwise we limit ourselves to “I think therefore I am” certainty, and with that in mind I would argue that if that is all we have we have another argument on consciousness which point to God and if that is where you want to go I would be glad to oblige. However you will note that I go the other way where I think fact that we can make sense out of empirical testing where we can necessarily make sense of this data strongly demonstrates that God therefore must be part of this logical process.
Anyway lets focus back onto original question and let me outline efficacious (Effective) prayer issue. Rather than simply being words that go up to the ceiling, they have meaning on many different levels.
1. Personal benefits should not be discounted as non important, so even if it was so to speak simply the case of placebo effect is would still have great value. But personal could not be tested by you and I and therefore could not be assessed as untrue and therefore must be left to the individual to decide.
2. Miracles or answers on prayer are not meant to be demands on God, nor are they meant to be proof of his existence.
3. Answers on prayer are different to what Jesus told his apostles and is therefore not logically contradictory to the expectation that prayers would be answered. You can not prove that Jesus told you specifically “to believe” and if you could prove such thing why are you not believing in him?
4. Perception is not necessarily wrong and therefore could not be logically justified as evidence against answers to prayer, note massive logical inconsistency on such claim. Talk to millions of people in Africa or Southern America and places like China see what they tell you of your assertion that miraculous answers to prayers don’t happen. By some analysis it could be argued that when the need is at its greatest then the likelihood of miracles seams to increase in line with the life’s hardships.
5. But most important point is that if you are to discredit this issue you yourself would have to prove that this is not personal perception that could be somehow logically warped in your own mind. Let’s go back to that point that personal perception in not necessarily wrong, and from that we can build on the next stage that we are limited with time and space and could not possibly have all necessary knowledge and understanding to show that miracles are somehow impossible. So this brings us to the point that answer to prayer that may be miraculous in nature are at least 50 / 50 logically possible. And I say this not on the bases that if we can think about it, it must therefore be possible but based on the fact that there are many human reports that have been tested though not necessarily in a laboratory.
This evidence was easily observable otherwise how would be know that they are prayers that have been answered. Also note that scepticism is not uniquely linked to atheists on the contrary we have many Biblical figures that had doubts which have been satisfied. It is this falsehood that is logically skewed and needs correcting, before we can proceed any further with this notion that we could logically test this and persuade the opposition. And for atheists this often means “Idiot ignorant Christians” which kind of defeats any attempt by atheist to engage Christians and at the same time claim that they are either logical or rational. As any engagement with irrational being would equally be irrational behaviour. I know this from the Biblical texts that Solomon noted down for us. SO fact that you are returning and attempting to reason is not only very admirable but also proves that our perceptions are not drastically different and we can continue to exchange ideas in a significant and meaningful way.
The entire basis of Christianity, or being a Christian is the belief that Jesus was the son of God, sacrificed himself for us and ascended into heaven.”
Ask a Muslim what they believe regarding Jesus and you will get a different answer. So your robotic religious statement that you churn out with your Jesus blinkers on doesn’t prove anything.
You will indeed get a different answer if it is a different religion. The same way as you will get different scientists arguing different versions of how the world was created, different beliefs such as whether there is a universe or multiverse. Not all religions are in agreement and not all science is in agreement, so I’m not sure what that statement was meant to prove or suggest.
What you believe is a question of faith. In as much as someone can evidence as much as possible a single universe, others can evidence how there could be a multiverse or a parallel universe (that firing atoms experiment that I can’t remember off the top of my head now).
Neither can be fully proven – if they could there would be no debate it would simply be fact – it is down to people’s faiths to decide whether or not they believe or not.
You don’t believe in God or Christianity and that is fine – as it cannot be proven, a statement of atheism is still a faith. I happen to. Neither of us can claim to be right or wrong because neither of us can 100% prove the case. That is why it is called a faith.
It’s not my place to tell you you’re wrong, in the same way it’s not your to say I am. People should respect each others views and either agree or disagree accordingly. For one of us to turn around and say one of us is definitely wrong would be nothing short of arrogant – no side has been able to show greater insight and knowledge or to say that they posses greater understanding that no one else can understand?
A lot of atheists – and I don’t necessarily count you here, it’s just a general statement – seem to feel some sense of higher or superior knowledge in asserting their non belief and that their knowledge or intelligence is greater than that of a Christian. Yet in truth, neither group has more exacting evidence over the other. Again that is why it is a faith.
I am happy for you to believe in god, that is your business.
What I take objection to is religious people controlling society – indoctrinating children, and pushing their word onto others – when they have no proof of god’s existence at all. I don’t want bishops in govenment – they are not qualified to pass legislation anymore than a virgin nun is qualified to give sex education lessons.
Evolution does have proof – mountains of it, and yes it does have as much proof as gravity, if you think otherwise you are utterly deluded. The only reason why you pick on Evolution is because it has an obvious contradiction to a Jewish text written 3000+ years ago, which a another ‘human’ read and decided to write his own religion from (the NT) – just like cults do today.
There is no controversy over evolution not on the magnitude that you would need to claim that it is not true – as true as we know that atoms exist, dna exists, nuclear fusion exists, number theory, radioactivity etc etc.
Let me put this another way – I know exactly – and I mean EXACTLY – what it would take for me not to believe in evolution and so does everyone else who understands it – and so far, no one has brought forward this evidence. Neither scientists or religious people who have been looking for the last 150 years – what they did find was more evidence for the theory – not less.
Now if you want to believe that god created evolution as his vehicle for creation then fine – I am happy with that, but to say that evolution is not true is intellectually dishonest – and you know it is.
As for the big bang, this is some what irrevevant – evolution has nothing to do with the universe being created, that is a different branch of science all together – and too be honest I have not made my mind up about the beginning of the universe, and it is not likely I will ever find out – however I await more information, hopefully from the LHC, but I am certainly not going to put it down to god (and by god I mean the god of the bible) -just yet.
Creation could be a process – not sentient at all – like the fusion reaction in the sun. Many years ago humans prayed to the sun, just like you pray to Jesus. We don’t pray to the sun anymore because we know what it is, it stands to total reason that the same will be true of the universe.
Perhaps we are the thinking sentient part of creation…? And before you say this is not mathematically possible – it is – read about
And before you say ‘it is only a theory’ – it is only a theory, a theory that is applied in the modern world.
Medicine is only a theory – but if you get cancer, would you wait it out and pray – or would you be in the hospital getting checked out by equipment that is designed by the knowledge of these theories?
You make the same misconception that all religious people state – Atheists are not 100% certain of gods non-existence, we just happen to believe that it is not very likely – because there nothing, except for a book, some men in funny hats, and some people (many of whom are very vulnerable, and many more that know no different) who follow the men in funny hats and do exactly what they say and agree with everything they say because they share the same religion.
If you notice the Church – whether it is the Catholic Church or your Church or any Church, gets very upset if you challenge the bible – this is because the men in funny hats do not like people asking questions. And the religious censor debates – they particularly do not like it when humour is used – yet they are happy to publish to mock Darwin without having any expertise in the field of biology what so ever.
So this is not just a matter of faith – it is a matter of intellectual responsibility, honesty and the ability to challenge without fear of those who think they can tell others what to do because they have powers given to them by god.
But you are OK with the fact that our children should be brainwashed with all the crap you find on TV, things that are thought in our schools that are not factually correct. And any other political indoctrination in other words anything as long its not Christianity, I call that discrimination but then again I would not expect anything less from atheists as they always go out of their way to destroy if at all possible any religion but more often them not this means attacking Christianity.
On the issue of Evolution my finding is that people who disagree with Macro Evolution that is people that I had chance to talk to, they seam to have far better understanding of the theory then those who claim to have all the answers. It comes down to that same saying “he who shouts loudest rather than, he who really knows”.
On the Issue of Sun, you should note that Christianity and Judaism strictly forbids praying to inanimate objects so your comparison is yet again so far removed from what is needed in order for you to address this issue adequately. Your prejudice continues to distort your ability to understand what is being discussed. And on the issue of Medicine it is actually classed as science we know that due to all the millions of tests that are conducted every year. No such test exists for Evolution so be careful not to compare apples with pears, this is either omission by misunderstanding the issue or not taking into account all necessary parts of your analysis when coming to final conclusion.
On the issue of faith and church ridicule, how would you respond if equal amount of ridicule is directed at things that are dear to you? I don’t expect sincere answer as I would doubt that you would be truly objective, that is unless you are prepared to share things about yourself and your family that could be open to ridicule. I remember that on more then one occasion you have shown great sense of protection towards your children and rightly so.
You will indeed get a different answer if it is a different religion. The same way as you will get different scientists arguing different versions of how the world was created, different beliefs such as whether there is a universe or multiverse. Not all religions are in agreement and not all science is in agreement, so I’m not sure what that statement was meant to prove or suggest.
Right. Let’s line up the ‘scientists’ who accept gravity and place them on one side of a line, and all those ‘scientists’ who deny gravity and place them on the other side. What can we conclude? If the numbers are about equal on either side of the line, we can say that there is no scientific consensus.That’s a justified conclusion. What we cannot deduce with legitimacy is whether or not gravity itself may or may not be true.
But what will happen if we line up actual scientists and ask them to take a stand on whether or not gravity is true? Yup, you guessed it: we can conclude that there is scientific consensus that gravity is true. That’s an important first step in our quest to know more about whether or not the theory of gravity is true.
The next question is why is there scientific consensus? And that answer is interesting and meaningful. Nowhere in any of the answers will you find a scientist claiming that gravity is true because we believe it to be so. That’s not what informs the theory of gravity any more than some kind of belief informs evolution. Thinking to yourself that scientific consensus indicates another kind of belief is not only ludicrous, but disingenuous. It is patently untrue and a gross violation of the common language we use. Using belief in this sense to link science with religion is a word game meant to cause confusion rather than clarity.
Just because some scientists may inform their truth claim about gravity this way or that in no way, shape, or fashion, indicates some kind of disagreement about the consensus that gravity is true. Just because some scientists may inform their truth claim about evolution this way or that in no way, shape, or fashion, indicates some kind of disagreement about the scientific consensus that evolution is true. To paint this issue about the scientific consensus that evolution is true as anything less that overwhelming is a gross misrepresentation of the truth about the consensus and not about the theory’s truth value. Again, the honest person will want to know why the consensus is so lopsided (about 96.5% of biologists) rather than pretend that the 3.5% who stand on the other side of the line is somehow indicative of a legitimate controversy. There is no controversy in a scientific sense of consensus.
Inserting the notion that there are many ideas about abiogenesis and multiverses is honest. It means that there are many hypotheses. Which one is true? We don’t know (yet). That reveals a STRENGTH of scientific inquiry and not a weakness… a hypothesis’ truth value is dependent on its explanatory power that can be repeatably tested and yield consistent results, predictive, and falsifiable. When a hypothesis meets that criteria, it becomes a theory, which is the strongest assertion in science that some explanatory idea is true. You can bet your life on it. And in all likelihood you already do, whether you know that or not.
So, you are right: abiogenesis has not yet reached that point, nor has multiverses. But evolution, like gravity, has. It is no longer any kind of hypothesis (that you describe with the word ‘belief’) but a fact, a clear recognition of the consensus of its explanatory power.
So you show a rather poor understanding of these important differences and distinctions when talking about science and various kinds of conclusions drawn from it. But of greater concern is your abuse based on your clear lack of understanding of your conclusions that are, to keep my language clean and respectful, wrong and spectacularly so.
There is only very small problem with this. This is me saying very cheekily, you make your claim which is not consistent with what scientists are saying. Actually if you examine closely you will find that most people that “accept” evolution say that it is the best explanation not that it is a fact. And there is a very good reason for this, i.e. if in the future better solution is found then by default it would replace evolution. Secondly many people who accept evolution and this includes me, will say that it only operates to the very limited extent and can therefore not explain variety of species.
Next very important point in question here is that you paint completely incorrect picture, there is nobody out there that is not Biologist who would say gravity and evolution are testable in the same way. So this statement is completely disingenuous, we see different criteria of testing, one is forensic in nature and second is testable in the laboratory. That is unless you have some kind of time travel machine and have managed to overcome physical laws, as according to the modern science that kind of time travel is impossible.
Lastly we have debated this issue of intimidation and ridicule that exists within scientific community and I have also posted interesting post recently that shows how flared scientific community can be. I.e. Many reporting incorrectly their findings, plagiarising 1 in 4 don’t believe that their colleagues have been honest either about their findings or their work authenticity. So to put it bluntly number games are not appropriate when you deal with subjective and bullied group, what is fascinating is actually as you go lower down, from professors to PhD’s proportion of people who disagree with evolution jumps to around 30% or there about. Again this could be explained as bunch of like minded people who hold power by any means necessary.
So may I suggest that based on these issues you should seriously reconsider what you said earlier.
Personal claims don’t count for anything.
If they did then everyone could become a doctor, or a specialist in anything.
My personal claim is that everyone who has employees me has been made a rich beyond their wildest dreams…
Or that everyone I have touched has been healed of their illness.
Just like Thomas (the Apostle) – I need to see hard fact, hard evidence before I will believe…
If that is what gives you comfort at night then that is fine with me. But note that your faith is based on assumptions and should be recognised for what it is. You refuse to accept things and you base your assertions not on verifying but on dismissing sounds like faith to me.
Previously Defend the Word: “What I said and I maintain it is that if you have evidence that people are making things up you must provide such data, otherwise it is fair to say that in any court of law you would be not acceptable as a witness.”
Misunderstoodranter: [You mean like a alibi that has been made up? That is to say a personal account does not account for anything. If there was a murder in your home, and you said you were out at the time of the murder – the police would not take your word for it would they.]
Defend the Word: What are you on about? How is this relevant to miracles in the Bible or today? We are not saying absence of information but information that is provided on a voluntary basis two are completely opposite concepts I hope you know that.
Misunderstoodranter: [And so it is true of miracles – in addition, the unexplained is not a miracle either – it is just unexplained – which is why the unexplained has both positive outcomes and negative ones – like for example, the bermuda triangle (negative outcome of the unexplained) or the unexplained survival of a man who should have died in a plane crash (the positive outcome).]
Defend the Word: Whilst you are claiming that there is an option of unexplained you fail to spot that you use this as an excuse when this is even if just possibly not justified. So if the possibility is there one out of 3 then you could not make claim that it is single option. This is pure statistics and not that complicated either.
Misunderstoodranter: [However, spot the issue with this logic – the plane still crashed, 100s of others still died – yet most people would still see the positive of one survivor in a higher light than the negative of the hundreds of deaths. And so it is with divine intervention – when it goes well you associate it with god. When it goes bad – you don’t. Football teams thank god for winning – but they do not thank god for loosing.Earthquake victims thank god for aid (human organised and delivered aid) but not for the earthquake (which would according to most religious people require gods work to enact).]
Defend the Word: Not sure where you get this idea from, from my experience and I have over 40 years of it. People tend to be more negative then positive and that is the case even amongst Christians. You continue to focus your attention on extreme cases and extreme people and then attempt to use that to justify them as the normative case. But when we are on the point of extremes note that Miracle is by definition one of event so what is your problem with this concept????
Misunderstoodranter: [When assessing the effectiveness of god, miracles and prayer you need to take a step back and look at the possibilities. Ever heard of the birthday problem? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_problem Some things appear to be impossible and appear to be miracles when in fact they are not – they can be explained by pure chance.]
Defend the Word: As statistician I can tell you that Birthdays are not same as miracles, likelihood is not same as miracle. You don’t get any likelihood of being healed by chance when your consultant tells you, you have less then two months to live, do you?
Misunderstoodranter: [And other stories – are just that – they are just stories, for people to tell to make themselves more popular, or to show their allegiance to a religion ‘wow look Jesus is real he cured my cancer’ – (never mind the army of doctors and decades of medical research that benefited the situation, and never mind the millions that die from cancer everyday and prayed just as hard…) Or equally the mental gymnastics ‘well it was gods plan to train those doctors to save me from cancer – thank god for doctors’…. which is just nonsense, if god wanted doctors medical science wouldn’t be a constant discovery that it is.]
Defend the Word: I appreciate your cynicism and to the certain extend I go along with it. But there is a point where I have to differ with you, beside many false claims there are some that are completely genuine. So yes to testing but yes to acknowledging advance of medicine etc. but non of this disputes the real thing. In fact thousands of years before you the Bible is warning people to look out for counterfeits, so I would again say that your negative experience dictates your philosophical outlook but two may not be connected fully to the full reality. In other words partial picture only shows partial issues.
Misunderstoodranter: [Religion is a cult, and like any cult it requires tall stories and mystical happenings to create wonder and sense of mystery in order to keep it alive. Miracles do happen – but actually when you step back it is just the outcome of numbers. If you threw a million people out of plane flying at 10,000 feet the chances are one might live – and that one that does, would probably claim it to be a miracle.]
Defend the Word: And atheism is full of tall stories, i.e. All Christians are liars, all religion is evil, There is no God, etc. I love how you love to fall upon the statistical game. But what is interesting and fair is that statistics themselves demand that miracles should not happen precisely because they are out of ordinary. Ordinary being that which we can expect to happen when conformed to the laws of nature. So your argument has no merits here, it is full of holes and I would recommend you reassess with some honesty what you are saying.
Misunderstoodranter: [There are 6,800,000,000 people (approximately) on earth, that’s a lot of probable outcomes – a lot of falls, a lot of recoveries a lot of accidents and illnesses with happy endings – but it is also true that far more ended with negative outcomes – and never lived to to claim it to be a miracle.]
Defend the Word: I love that you make such claims, it shows such great authority and more. Your faith is rather amazing and commendable but it is not any different to the faith of anyone else who believes in miracles. You base your claims on things you could not possibly know due to the magnitude of the information but you are confident of your understanding I call that faith in the unknown.
I think the difference here DTW, is that you put your good fortune and other peoples good fortune down to divine intervention. Atheists on the other hand put it down it down to chance and reason.
If you have a car accident DTW – is that gods doing? Just exactly where is the demarcation boundary?
I had a friend who one day noticed she was getting taller, at first she paid no attention to it and thought it was her imagination or her clothes shrinking. It wasn’t – she was growing – and at her age 45 she found this a little amusing at first.
Now, I heard her talking to a friend, her friend was saying ‘wow how strange – this is good I would love to be taller’ – at which point, I said – I think you need to see a doctor and find out what is going on.
A few months later, she told me what had happened after booking an appointment with her GP – this amazing growing was nothing of the sort, it was in fact a symptom of a tumour that was growing in her head and pressing on her pituitary gland, which was releasing hormones into her blood and causing her to grow.
Now – at which point does the luck come in? Did god make her grow – to make her happy?
Did god send me to advise her to see a doctor?
Did god give the doctor the skills to diagnose the problem?
Did god make the tumour benign?
You probably should know that she is OK, the tumour is benign – no luckily for her she is not religious, and had the good sense to see a doctor for tests.
Strange but true.
Let me answer this quickly
1. Yes I had serious accident, and yes this could have been Gods doing. As a result I have massive metal rod in my thigh bone. But this is neither to say that God was or was not doing it. I never prayed for it and that is the main difference.
2. Getting taller is different from having uneven leg discrepancy therefore non relevant here. Physical and mental disorders are not logically linked to any argument that could either prove or disprove answer to prayer. Answer to prayer is linked to specific request and hence your example is void.
3. Did God bring you in contact with her to advise her to see the Doctor maybe and if you were not there he could have used someone else. But equally if he was not involved in that particular case you could not use single example to negate the obvious lack of logic in your conclusion that therefore God does not answer prayer. Note that common sense is a strong argument for existence of God for how else could you work out system of logic and rationality if chaos is all that there is. In stead we have great understanding of the world around us and cam make good sense of what each thing means so either way you should give prays to God.
misunderstoodranter: “1. Yes I had serious accident, and yes this could have been Gods doing. As a result I have massive metal rod in my thigh bone. But this is neither to say that God was or was not doing it. I never prayed for it and that is the main difference.”
You are right it is the main difference and exactly my point with prayer – you attribute gods actions to how you feel about the outcome.
I don’t hold god accountable to anything – because, god didn’t cause you to have an accident, and nor did god fix your leg. You are fortunate to live in the West where medical treatment is abundent – that fact is not gods will, any more than it is god will that poor countries do not such access.
Just as the lady who was growing miraculously was not a miracle, it was medical science. Her fortune is on many levels – she is born in a country with access to the NHS, and her peers (i.e. me) are educated to a standard to advise with common sense – people don’t just grow for no reason, and that growth may not be a good thing, or an answer to her wishes to be taller.
If she was born in a country that based their observations purely on supernatural and she didn’t have access to the NHS her outcome may have been much different as would the outcome of your accident.
If you were born in a country with no medical science you might have lost your leg or be crippled.
God has nothing to do with with either of these two ‘miracles’ and actually when you really think about it they are not miracles any more than being born in the west is a miracle, or having access to clean drinking water is a miracle – it is just good fortune. If you think otherwise, then what you are actually saying is that people who live in countries who do not have access to such facilities are punished by god….
Defend the Word: I think I answered your comments adequately first time so I will just refer you to them again.
Miguel: First of all ,I need to clear the air.I was raised catholic ,then became christian,but found out they are the same.I did my homework an came to the conclusion that it is a made up european belief.The proof is all written on the walls,an cannot be changed or altered.It all started with Alexander the Greek,(not the great,the greek),into Egypt in 332 BC. Alexander knew that in order to rule Egypt he had to be accepted and made part of the Ancient Egyptian sacred society.He was rejected and demanded that they receive him as god.First form of racial supremacy.At Alexander’s death in 323B.C.E.Ptolemy 1,Lagi,(also called “Soter”,title given to him for his military conquest ,It means “savior”.Using “Ausara” (Osiris),And the sacred Bull of Memphis,”Apis”then came out with the name “Serapis”.It was the Egyptian priest that sold out and started the first Melchite Cpotic church.Later on came the council of Nicia in 325AD ,issued its command that all should worshop he.Pope silvesta was the first black african to serve the greek/roman empire in eygpt.I also found 30 pages of inconsistancies in the bible.Dont take my word for in ,do the reserch.Dont be afraid of the truth,it can only set U free. We are no longer under the roman rule. wake and stop living the lies. And yes I do believe in the God of the Universe that I don’t see.Look up Serapis/and inconsistances of the bible.You will be schocked into reality.
Defend the Word: Wow I’m not sure where you got your information from but you have mixed up loads of facts with same rather fanciful footwork.
First let me state it that I am not a Catholic but do believe that there are true Christians who attend that Church. I oppose their teaching and if you read my blog will find me highlighting some of their old misrepresentations. Main point to raise for you would be that yes there are adoptions and adoptions of the local costumes, for those who don’t know what I’m talking about it’s the story of saints and holidays that were converted from original Pagan stories into Catholic saints and Holidays.
This however does not mean that there was a conspiracy on anyone’s part to introduce new religion in order to help some ruler govern his country in a “more acceptable” way. First of all note that the New Testament is clearly displaying Jewish ideas and teaching. Note that First Christians were called Atheists because they did not believe in many gods. Secondly once the separation was made in mid 60’s AD Christianity had suffered due to loss of protection it enjoyed previously as one of the sects of the Jewish nation.
Similarity in the “Names” especially the title “Soter” is just short of exaggeration by implied association. Fact that both you and I speak English does not mean we are both from England. We must be very careful that we don’t make false conclusions based on the strength of the conversation but on the strength of the evidence. Person may be persuasive and impressive but may be catastrophically wrong.
I love early church history precisely because even at the very beginning we see things were not always perfect. It only reminds me that I must go back to the very beginning of the Christianity to its originator. As for the evidential side of your argument I would suggest that you must back it up with proper historical evidence before trying to throw into the air information that is partially correct with information that is based on seriously unsupported presuppositions.
Every year we go in circle because we see slight variation of the staff that was exposed as false 50 years ago. I would suggest that we must check the validity and accuracy of what we believe with books that do not necessarily agree with our views then we must apply historical, textual and logical tests. This is the only way you could get to the bottom of the question that you are wrestling with. Alternatively you could visit blogs that deal with these topics and ask for some opinions which may help you in evaluating all sides of the argument.
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