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Welcome to atheists (and others)

March 3rd, 2014

handshake

In this blog I explore questions of belief and disbelief, ethics, evidence, etc, all relating to the question of whether God exists. Readers agree and disagree, and some accuse me of inconsistency or dishonesty.

I thought it might be worthwhile setting out, particularly for the benefit of non-believers who visit, how I try to work, and what readers can expect from me.

What you can expect here

Where I’m coming from

I believe in God and I try to follow the way of Jesus. The purpose of this blog is to present how I see the evidence for this belief, and offer those who don’t believe the same the opportunity to read, discuss, hopefully learn new things, share what they know and think, and consider without being browbeaten or insulted.

Evidence and information

Where relevant, I try to base my discussion of issues on what the best experts (scientists, philosophers, historians, etc) conclude. And I try to present this information fairly. I am a layperson on most of these matters, so to do this I put considerable effort into reading books and webpages by the best scholars, who I reference.

Presenting my views

I develop my views based on this evidence, in as open a manner as possible – outlining all the main views and why I come to my conclusions.

Bias and fairness

I recognise we all have biases, viewpoints and emphases. I try to be fair to all views, and to make clear my own assumptions.

Freedom to consider

I don’t press anyone to follow my view. I lay out the information and arguments, but the choice is yours and I respect that. I understand that others will choose differently.

Friends, not enemies

I enjoy friendly discussion, and all viewpoints are welcome. I see no reason why people who disagree cannot discuss amicably – we are all trying to make sense of life, and can always learn from someone else.

I am not interested in discourteous or combative discussions. If I occasionally overstep the mark in discussion, I will apologise.

You are welcome

Therefore people of all beliefs or none are welcome to discuss or comment here. I am not offended by disagreement and I am happy to have alternative views expressed. I want to be friends.

What I expect here

I hope anyone commenting will have a similar approach and I expect comments to remain polite. Nasty comments will be deleted to keep the site welcoming to others.

Thanks and welcome

Thanks for reading my blog. I welcome any feedback but if it is critical comment, please give some examples.

Photo Credit: Richard.Asia via Compfight cc.

80 Comments

  1. Jesus mentions his core teachings :

    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    Matthew 22:36-40

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A36-40

    It does not mentions of Jesus himself being a god. Your believing him as god or son of god is most unfair to Jesus and his teachings.

  2. Hi paarsurrey thanks for reading and commenting. You are a living example of someone who believes differently to me but we can still discuss amicably!

    I don’t think we can sum up Jesus’ teachings about himself and God in one quote – we need to consider everything he said and did. Scholars agree that he was reticent on this subject, but christians generally agree that he gave plenty of reasons for believing he was divine. My page Jesus – son of God? summarises the evidence, and my blog posts How on earth did Jesus become God? and Was the divinity of Jesus a third century invention of the church? summarise what historical scholars have concluded.

    As a Muslim these ideas may be hard for you to understand, let alone accept, but I hope this at least explains how most christians think on the matter. Best wishes.

  3. Paarsurry is absolutely correct. There are several stand out bible verses that clearly indicate that Jesus did not consider he was Yahweh (”God”).
    The disciples may have considered him divine, only after the discovery of the empty tomb and later the apparent appearance where he ”materialized” but they were Jews, and at no point did they consider him ”God”.
    The mere thought would have been anathema to them.
    This title was only been conferred upon him much later and after the break with the Jerusalem church, supposedly founded by James.
    The doctrine of Christianity is by and large, founded on Paul’s doctrine, not Jesus, and the label of ”God” in the form of the Trinity is a wholly church construct.

  4. Hi One Sceptic. There’s a lot of unsubstantiated statements there. And many of them are not supported by the historical evidence.

    May I suggest you do some reading on the matter first. You could start with the pages on this website which I referenced to paarsurrey (I have read several books on the subject) and then perhaps we can talk.

    I don’t think further discussion is worthwhile if you won’t check the evidence first. Thanks.

  5. The evidence for Jesus being god is all down to interpretation.

    That Pauline doctrine won the day over the Jerusalem church is history.

    Whether or when Jesus was truly considered god is pure conjecture. That it was written into the Christian creed and eventually declared law is fact.

    I would be interested which statements you consider unsubstantiated in relation to those you consider backed by verifiable evidence for your case?

  6. One Sceptic, I didn’t use the words “verifiable evidence” – I said your statements were unsubstantiated and unsupported by the historical evidence. If you want to know more please read the 2 blog references I gave – they will give you a summary of what evidence there is and references to scholars you can check out.

  7. “Insider bickering is the price we pay for pitching a big tent, I suppose.”

    Hi Doug. I suppose. 🙂 Thanks for visiting.

  8. I have read your links and the views presented are also not supported by history.
    The ‘Jesus was made God view is however substantiated by evidence that the title was bestowed upon him by the Church and this was written into the christian church creed and made law.
    These are facts.

    They concur with Paarsurry’s statement.

    The god view of Jesus is based on interpretation and manipulation of the text, not evidence.
    But rather than direct me to even more links, I am interested in your view and in particular how do you dismiss Paarsurry’s ( and every other Muslim) claim?

  9. One Sceptic.

    1. What did you read by Larry Hurtado (possibly the top scholar on this matter), James Crossley, Andrew Chester, Martin Hengel, Richard Bauckham, Maurice Casey, Geza Vermes or James Dunn (the scholars I referenced)?

    2. What specifically did they say on this topic that you thought was “not supported by history”?

  10. @Doug B:MAR 04, 2014 @ 11:19:27
    “Insider bickering is the price we pay for pitching a big tent, I suppose.”

    I don’t get you exactly. Please elaborate.

    Thanks

  11. @One Skeptic:MAR 04, 2014 @ 11:09:29
    “The evidence for Jesus being god is all down to interpretation.
    That Pauline doctrine won the day over the Jerusalem church is history.”

    I agree with you here.

    The Christians; their 32000+ denominations; they don’t follow Jesus and the core teachings of Jesus; instead of following Jesus, they follow Paul and want that innocent Jesus also should follow sinful Paul and the sinful Church.

    Thanks

  12. Take Casey, for example. He holds out for the Q source regarding the bible. He also believes in an Aramaic gospel. There is evidence for neither.

    The links to Hurtado and Crossley eventually led to their personal sites or /and Amazon.

    I could find nothing that Vermes said which substantiated any of your claims. I gave up after that.

    Feel free to provide quotes from the ones I gave up on if you feel it will strengthen your case.
    Much of what you wrote was too biased for me.

    A scholar such as EP Sanders for instance uses the same material and he is generally considered one of the top christian scholars in this field.

    And then a scholar such as Professor Bart Ehrman disagrees with divinity claims and he is apparently a world class authority on the bible, yes?

    All use the bible as reference.
    Christians interpret it one way. Non Christians interpret it another.

    Common sense and what evidence there is support the latter.

  13. Common sense and what evidence there is support the latter.

    This is simply not true as I showed in my blog posts. The experts hold various views but the evidence doesn’t support either view conclusively – a range of views is possible, something your comments simply don’t show. But it seems that the preponderance of scholars is leaning towards Hurtado’s view which is quite contrary to what you are saying.

    I’m sorry, but I’m going to stop responding on this matter. You don’t seem to want to read the experts fairly, and as this post was about avoiding argument, I will do exactly that. Thanks.

  14. Unklee, ‘evidence” is there to interpret. We can only state for certain what, if anything, we know as ”fact”.

    We know as fact that the divine nature of Jesus was a huge bone of contention during the formative years of Christianity.
    It goes without saying that such a belief required a vehicle to develop and propel it: this was the church.
    The Church, wrote into law the definition and dissent was put down, often ruthlessly.
    This is fact, unklee so why dispute it?
    All bible scholars use the bible as reference.
    It’s interpretation regarding the god question and the divine nature of Jesus is almost solely dependent on whether one is a christian or not. And for the christian, faith is required.
    Otherwise Muslims would accept the Christian claims, as would others.

    And without faith, the evidence does not support divinity or claims of Jesus being Yahweh (‘God’)

    How on earth is that not true?

  15. @ Paarsurry.
    Thank goodness!
    For once, someone who sees the history as I do.
    Paul and his doctrine was definitely what Christianity became largely based upon.

  16. I think this is a cracking question and I really enjoy the banter. Most thinking Christians I know (broad Protestant evangelical) are a little ambiguous on trinity yet also see the divinity of Jesus as kerygmatic. After all, this is God we are talking about. There are simply lots of verses particularly in John (eg john 1:1) and Pauline epistles (eg Col 1:15 etc) and others (eg Hebrews) which are fairly easily used to justify a belief in Christs position as the only begotten son, who’s nature is divine and who is the image of the invisible God. I freely admit the the bible doesn’t say ‘Jesus is God’, but those of us who see these characteritics in Jesus can justifiably worship him. And that is actually the point.

  17. I freely admit the the bible doesn’t say ‘Jesus is God’, but those of us who see these characteritics in Jesus can justifiably worship him. And that is actually the point.

    Which is exactly the point that is being made.
    “Those of us who see the characteristics.”

    ”Jesus is God” is neither said nor did Jesus himself say it.

    Any implication derived from the texts is solely due to interpretation, supported largely by the Church, who were responsible for collection, selection and redaction of the texts to be included in the final ‘book’

    If the issue were cut and dried then we’d all be Christian, which, free will not withstanding, one would expect such a god to have ensured we were all made aware of the ‘facts’ through a more reliable source than a few scruffy disciples from a dirt poor middle eastern Roman outpost and a few highly selective texts cobbled together largely at the insistence of a corrupt Emperor with the help of at least one corrupt and unstable member of the clergy, Eusebius.

  18. paarsurrey: MAR 03, 2014 @ 22:46:52
    I further have to add:
    A very clear testimony of Matthew:
    Matthew 13:34
    “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable”

    http://biblehub.com/matthew/13-34.htm
    It is for this that I say that the Christians should believe the core teaching of Jesus as mentioned in Matthew 22:36-40:
    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    Matthew 22:36-40
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A36-40

    It makes it very clear that Jesus never declared himself a god or son of god in literal and physical terms; and whatever Jesus mentioned elsewhere the Christians should take that as symbolic and in parables terms and interpret it in the light of these clear teachings. It is a common sense approach.
    Had he been a god, in literal and physical sense, he would have told it in unequivocal and straightforward terms? Whom he was afraid of that he could not declare his god-head himself? Why did he leave this the most important issue for others to announce posthumous?
    Even a weak human being won’t make such a blunder.

  19. @One Skeptic:MAR 04, 2014 @ 14:22:11

    “Jesus is God” is neither said nor did Jesus himself say it.

    Any implication derived from the texts is solely due to interpretation, supported largely by the Church, who were responsible for collection, selection and redaction of the texts to be included in the final ‘book’

    If the issue were cut and dried then we’d all be Christian, which, free will not withstanding, one would expect such a god to have ensured we were all made aware of the ‘facts’ through a more reliable source than a few scruffy disciples from a dirt poor middle eastern Roman outpost and a few highly selective texts cobbled together largely at the insistence of a corrupt Emperor with the help of at least one corrupt and unstable member of the clergy, Eusebius.” Unquote

    I agree with you here.

  20. Paarsurrey. You believe Jesus was a prophet? If somebody worshipped a prophet instead of God then the prophet would tell the person to worship God, not him. This is what the apostle Peter says in Acts 10.

    But in the gospel you are quoting from in Matthew 28:9 it says, “And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.”

    But Jesus accepts their worship. He doesn’t tell them to stop.

    In fact this happens a lot. I can think of:

    John 9:38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him
    Mark 5:6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.
    Matthew 15:25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
    Matthew 2:11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

    It is clear that people worshipped Jesus. I can find nothing that says otherwise.

    I can also think of others who said not to worship men, demonstrating that it was not a common practice to worship anyone but God….
    Acts 10:25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”
    Angels too:-
    Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

    The prophet Mohammed (pbuh) respected Jesus as a prophet and worker of miracles. You should investigate more what the bible says about Jesus. How do explain that he frequently received worship from men? This would be evil.

    There are many other reasons people simply say ‘Jesus is God’. If you take my point about worship seriously we could talk about others next! God bless you!

  21. One Skeptic. Your ID gives away your agenda. If it were ‘all cut and dried’ then Jesus wouldn’t have asked his disciples who they thought he was. When Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16) Jesus noted that it was on this declaration of the identity of Christ that the church is built.

    ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Is a question we all need to answer.

  22. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

    You will note that Son is NOT god.

    The leap from ”son” to ”god” was a church construct.
    and the Trinity was the only way the church could get away without being considered polytheist.

    Paul did not consider he was god either.

    The whole notion would have been anathema. It was a church construct plain and simple otherwise why was there dissent?
    And even more telling, why was it necessary to write it into law and pursue heretics and force them to accept or liquidate them?

    For what it’s worth, ”Son of God” has a number of interpretations, as I’m sure you are aware.
    And the only thing Christianity hinges on is the resurrection.
    And how many people accept this?
    Faith and interpretation. Not evidence and not fact.

  23. Hi paarsurrey,

    In this post I outlined how I try to approach topics like this. First I look at the historical evidence as determined by the best secular scholars then I form my opinions. Let’s do that here.

    These are the conclusions of the best historical scholars as far as I can determine, about what people of his day believed and what we can reasonably conclude from the evidence.

    1. In his lifetime Jesus is reported to have said and done some very interesting things. Most scholars agree that he didn’t make any explicit claim to be God but said many suggestive things that need to be interpreted. Most scholars would say he should be seen as a prophet, rabbi (teacher) and miracle-worker (whether they believe he actually did miracles or not). Some would go further and say he saw himself as Messiah, or “son of God”, which itself had several meanings.

    2. After he died and (his followers believed) was resurrected, his followers began to worship him, something no Jew would do to a mere human.

    3. As the first century went on, they tried to explain their beliefs about him, and eventually came to see him as the unique son of God. Some scholars (e.g. Hurtado, Hengel, Bauckham) believe this happened within a decade or two, while other scholars (e.g. Casey, Dunn, Vermes) believe this took longer, but still by the end of the first century (as evidenced in the Gospel of John).

    Those are the conclusions of some of the most respect historical scholars. From those conclusions, we can each decide our own beliefs. Like My Goaty Beard I believe the worship of Jesus, even in his lifetime, and the evidence summarised in Jesus- son of God?, especially the statement of Matthew 11:27: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” all give me reason to believe that he was indeed the unique son of God.

    You need to understand that the word “God” is often used in two ways. In Trinitarian doctrine, we should use the terms “God, the Father” and “God, the son”, and carefully distinguish between the two but sometimes we get careless and just use “God” to mean the Father. This then makes it seem like we mean Jesus was the Father when that isn’t the case.

    I accept this isn’t the only interpretation one can come to and I respect your right to come to a different conclusion. But I think it is important that we distinguish our beliefs from the historical evidence, as I have done, and not deny the historical evidence just because we don’t like it.

    Does that explain things any better? Thanks.

  24. It is highly irresponsible to trust anything written in Matthew. This is the same gospel that contains the “Zombie Apocalypse” and other assorted claims at the time of the Crucifixion.
    It is also the same gospel that contains the erroneous genealogy of Jesus.
    Acknowledged by the Catholic church as fiction.

    Furthermore the writer of Matthew used the gospel of Mark extensively for his own work – more than 600 verses .

    Considering the gospel writers are complete unknowns; that even the Catholic Church, the original NT compilers, recognize this fact why would anyone other than a Christian brought up in faith accept anything written in the Gospels as historical truth?

  25. I accept this isn’t the only interpretation one can come to and I respect your right to come to a different conclusion. But I think it is important that we distinguish our beliefs from the historical evidence, as I have done, and not deny the historical evidence just because we don’t like it.

    In the name of truth and evidence I recommend everyone read this document from Raymond E. Brown, a well-known Catholic theologian .
    http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christian_Credibility.htm

  26. @One Skeptic:MAR 04, 2014 @ 23:04:14
    “Faith and interpretation. Not evidence and not fact.” Unquote

    I think it would be more correct to say that it is blind –faith and wrong interpretation of the Christians that they following Paul and the Church and make Jesus a god or son of god against express core teachings of Jesus and Moses and the prophets of the OT. Jesus would love to worship the One-True-God and abhor anything against it.

    Quran mentions it:

    [4:172] O People of the Book, exceed not the limits in your religion, and say not of Allah anything but the truth. Verily, the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only a Messenger of Allah and a fulfilment of His word which He sent down to Mary, and a mercy from Him. So believe in Allah and His Messengers, and say not ‘They are three.’ Desist, it will be better for you. Verily, Allah is the only One God. Far is it from His Holiness that He should have a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. And sufficient is Allah as a Guardian.
    [4:173] Surely, the Messiah will never disdain to be a servant of Allah, nor will the angels near unto God; and whoso disdains to worship Him and feels proud, He will gather them all to Himself.

    http://www.alislam.org/quran/search2/showChapter.php?ch=4&verse=172

    Thanks

  27. @One Skeptic:MAR 05, 2014 @ 10:43:07

    I agree with you.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that the gospels were written by some anonymous scribes; and that these were named after the disciples of Jesus only to add credence for the public.

    Matthew might have been unaware as to what has been written in his name by Paul and or the Church.

    Thanks

  28. Paarsurrey. If you are saying that Matthew’s gospel is intrinsically unreliable then why did you start off by quoting it and telling Christians to follow only the bit you quoted?

    On the other hand, if you quote Matthew because you think it is true, why don’t you respond to my quotes that show Jesus was worshipped by his followers?

    The Christian bible clearly shows that Jesus was worshipped and Christianity is right to worship Him. Using quotes from the Quran is a different argument altogether.

  29. @MyGoatyBeard

    The Christian bible clearly shows that Jesus was worshipped and Christianity is right to worship Him.

    Christians most certainly interpret this as such.
    Whether it is right is a matter of opinion and not anything you have justified here.

    It does not add any more credence to the bible and certainly not to the gospel of Matthew.
    The Catholic Church were responsible for it compilation under the direction/encouragement/patronage of Constantine so who knows what went into the ‘mix’?
    We know why there were four gospels, but we don’t know who, how, or where…or even what.

    There are continual claims of political motivation surrounding so many aspects of religion why would we think it was any different for a conniving SOB like Constantine; that his motives were somehow pure?
    He had more than a passing vested interest to see all the ”problems” ironed out.

    The naivety of Christians is to assume nothing untoward went on before, during and even after the compilation of this ‘book’ and to turn a blind eye when blatant errors & contradictions are pointed out.
    Or maybe they cough awkwardly and simply turn the page?
    There is always the insistence that the laymen turn to the ‘experts’ regarding interpretation of the text, it validity, inerrancy etc.
    So who better than the Catholic Church itself, and one of its foremost theologians, Raymond E Brown.
    I have provided a link here on this post and his explanation is succinct and without ambiguity, in all but a slight smudging of the lines regarding an open statement from a former Pope concerning the Resurrection.

    Now this is an expert I would listen to as he is open and honest in his appraisal of ‘Matthew’ on such topics as the “Virgin Birth” and the Genealogy issue.

    The question is, why are you not so open? And what information or qualifications do you possess that should be taken into consideration over and above an expert like Brown?

  30. Thanks for an elaborate information on Christianity.

    A pleasure. All the information is out there, it is simply a matter of digging it up and not be put of by apologetics or dogma of any sort, from any quarter but discover the truth.

  31. @ unkleE:MAR 05, 2014 @ 01:10:45

    “In this post I outlined how I try to approach topics like this. First I look at the historical evidence as determined by the best secular scholars then I form my opinions. Let’s do that here.”

    Why ignore Jesus’ clear words of his core teachings that he quoted from the OT Bible; and it is the same as told by Moses.

    Jesus a human being son of Mary who did not claim to be a literal and physical god or son of god; yes there is historicity of such a person; but if one looks for a Jesus a literal/physical god or son of god; there is no historicity of such a person.

    The sinful Paul who was a confirmed enemy of Jesus and his disciples; when he got sure that Jesus son of Mary a human being had not died on the Cross and after treatment in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea by the physician Nicodemus he had made good his escape and went out of Judea and the Roman Empire; Paul thought of a novel plan to take revenge from Jesus.

    He exploited the sentiments of Jesus’ followers who remained behind whom Jesus had not informed of his plans as he had to move out secretly lest he is again arrested and persecuted.

    Paul invented the story that Jesus had died on the Cross but resurrected from the dead and has ascended to skies and appointed Paul as his successor; thus on the one hand Paul invented a new religion in the name of “Christ” a misnomer called Christianity and on the other hand he avenged his animosity towards Jesus by killing Jesus’ core teachings; of course with the collaboration of the Church.

  32. Paarsurrey. I agree there is only one God and it is only him that we should worship. It is sinful to worship anybody else. There are not three Gods – so I agree with you in that. Jesus is not one God out if three. There is only one God and I only worship that one God.

    In the gospel that you quoted, Jesus forgave sins:

    “And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.’ And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil IN YOUR HEARTS? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Rise and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ — he then said to the paralytic – ‘Rise, take up your bed and go home.’ And he rose and went home.” Matthew 9:1-7

    Note that the religious people decided that Jesus was blaspheming when he forgave people.

    I am very pleased to know Jesus. He shows me what God is like – forgiving, loving, and he takes people’s rejection of God (their sin) very seriously indeed. People who continue to reject God are extremely foolish and we should be wary of listening to them.

  33. The sinful Paul who was a confirmed enemy of Jesus and his disciples; when he got sure that Jesus son of Mary a human being had not died on the Cross and after treatment in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea by the physician Nicodemus he had made good his escape and went out of Judea and the Roman Empire; Paul thought of a novel plan to take revenge from Jesus.

    He exploited the sentiments of Jesus’ followers who remained behind whom Jesus had not informed of his plans as he had to move out secretly lest he is again arrested and persecuted.

    Paul invented the story that Jesus had died on the Cross but resurrected from the dead and has ascended to skies and appointed Paul as his successor; thus on the one hand Paul invented a new religion in the name of “Christ” a misnomer called Christianity and on the other hand he avenged his animosity towards Jesus by killing Jesus’ core teachings; of course with the collaboration of the Church.

    Where do you get this stuff from?

    1. Paul has only been attested as an enemy of the church some time after Jesus’ death and converted thereafter, a type of event not unseen. Describing him as “a confirmed enemy of Jesus and his disciples” is utterly tendentious. Do you have any reason to suppose his conversion wasn’t genuine?

    2. There is hardly any reasonable doubt that Jesus was crucified and died upon the cross. There is no reason to believe Jesus ever went out of the Roman Empire (his movements are described in Galilee, Judea, Syro-Phoenicia and Decapolis).

    3. Nicodemus was not a physician, he was depicted as a member of the Sanhedrin. There is no evidence he was a physician.

  34. @MyGoatyBeard :MAR 07, 2014 @ 14:43:30

    “Paarsurrey. I agree there is only one God and it is only him that we should worship. It is sinful to worship anybody else. There are not three Gods – so I agree with you in that.”

    Thanks for your appreciation; in fact by this you agree with Jesus , Moses and all the prophets as confirmed by Jesus in his core teachings.

    Regards

  35. Further to my post of MAR 07, 2014 @ 12:28:48 ; I have to state that only sinful Paul knew of his own own fabrication; it is for this that he had to admit:

    14and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.…

    http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/15-14.htm

    So that is the focal point to be discussed here; if Jesus did not die on the Cross then Christianity the invention of Paul is in vain. Then Jesus’ core teachings become clear for those who have been trapped into believing Jesus was god or son of god; into the reality that there is only One-True-God and none else; and trinity is nothing else but idolatrous; it was neither believed by Jesus, nor by Moses, nor by the prophets as declared by Jesus himself unambiguously.

  36. @Paarsurry.
    Excellent summation.

    Christianity hinges on the Resurrection and the Christian argument is all about plausibility, even stooping to use the criteria of embarrassment. There is no proof and no substantiated evidence.
    There is no true doctrine of Jesus of Nazareth. It is Pauline doctrine from beginning to end.

  37. Paarsurrey: “Thanks for your appreciation; in fact by this you agree with Jesus , Moses and all the prophets as confirmed by Jesus in his core teachings.”

    Yes I worship only one God, and Jesus is the exact representation of God.

    What do you think of Jesus forgiving sins?

  38. Hi paarsurrey,

    This post is partly about distinguishing fact from opinion. I wonder whether you are thinking this way? A fact is something for which there is very good evidence and those who know most about the subject accept.

    You speak out your opinions as if they were facts. I could do the same about my opinions, we would disagree, and the discussion would go nowhere. So let’s not do that. Let’s see if we can limit our discussion to facts for a moment shall we, and see how far we can get?

    I have read quite a lot on this subject, and I think the following are facts (i.e. they would be accepted by the majority of historical scholars, whether they be christians or not):

    1. Jesus existed as a real person and the gospels tell us useful historical information about him. (That doesn’t mean that everything in the gospels is accepted as historical by all scholars, but neither is everything in any historical source.)

    2. Jesus was known in his day as a itinerant teacher and miracle-worker, regardless of whether the scholars personally believe his teaching or not, and whether they think he really performed miracles or not.

    3. Most scholars believe that describing Jesus as a Jewish prophet is a good way to describe him, whether they believe his prophecy was true or not.

    4. There is not agreement among scholars about whether Jesus thought he was the Jewish Messiah, though I would think a majority might think that. And there is even less agreement about whether Jesus thought of himself as divine. I would think the majority would think that any claims in that direction were not very explicit.

    5. There is therefore not agreement on how quickly his followers came to see him as divine. Some scholars say it was within decades, perhaps even years (and I think this group is now the majority), while other say it wasn’t until late in the first century.

    6. Virtually all scholars conclude that Jesus was executed by the Roman authorities and truly died.

    7. A majority of scholars believe that after his death either his tomb was found empty and/or that his disciples had some visionary experience of him alive, whether those scholars believe he was really resurrected or was not.

    I can support each of those statements by copious reference to the best historical scholars around. None of this requires christian belief – I have read non-christian scholars and know atheists who would agree with all those statements.

    So I would be interested to know if you are willing to accept those statements as the conclusions of historical scholars, or not. I’m not yet asking whether you personally agree with them, just whether you accept them as statements of what the scholars conclude. Thanks.

  39. History is written by humans of the humans; there is only One-True-God so there is no history of any god; if one insists then one’s concept is definitely a human construct; with Christianity believing Jesus as literal or physical god or literal or a literal physical son of god, then it is a brain-child of sinful Paul; a construct of Paul’s.

    With the Renaissance in the West the Westerners realized of this reality and since the Christians insisted on the godhead of Jesus so the Westerners started denying that there was no God implying deeply that Jesus was not a god or son of god; and they also denied any historicity of Jesus altogether.

    This is how Christianity started giving space to Atheism etc; or losing ground to them.

    I have observed on internet discussions that some Christians who were previously Atheists have reverted to Theism but they don’t defend Christianity anymore; instead they attack the unreasonableness of Atheism etc; and they are good at it.

    If one denies the core teachings of Jesus (Moses and prophets) as elaborated in my previous comments; then a Christian has to leave NT Bible and in distress they come to history which also does not support them for the reasons above mentioned.

  40. Hi paarsurrey,

    Do I take it from your answer that you don’t accept what the scholars say about history and Jesus?

  41. A fact is something for which there is very good evidence and those who know most about the subject accept.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact

    A fact (derived from the Latin factum, see below) is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be proven to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts. Scientific facts are verified by repeatable experiments.

    So, in fact, nothing that is claimed about Jesus can be considered a fact. Not a thing.

    There is not agreement among scholars about whether Jesus thought he was the Jewish Messiah, though I would think a majority might think that.

    my hilight

    This is a blatant untruth.
    Furthermore you go out of your way to accuse Paarsurry of being unable to distinguish fact from opinion yet you include such a statement, “I would think”, which is clearly opinion and has no grounding in fact.

    Paarsurry is merely approaching your beliefs from his perspective using his understanding of Christianity as he has been brought up to believe.
    How is this any different to your perspective about his (?) religion?

  42. @john : MAR 09, 2014 @ 13:10:19

    uncleE won’t mind you. This thread is specific for Atheists; I am just writing one from “others”.

    Kindly express your thoughts fully. Please

  43. I have read quite a lot on this subject, and I think the following are facts (i.e. they would be accepted by the majority of historical scholars, whether they be christians or not):

    Would you care to name a few or provide links so that we can consider their evidence for ourselves.

    1. Jesus existed as a real person and the gospels tell us useful historical information about him.

    This is not fact as there are those scholars who disagree.

    2. Jesus was known in his day as a itinerant teacher and miracle-worker, regardless of whether the scholars personally believe his teaching or not, and whether they think he really performed miracles or not.

    This is a claim made by mythicists such as Bert Erhman and not historicists.

    3. Most scholars believe that describing Jesus as a Jewish prophet is a good way to describe him, whether they believe his prophecy was true or not.

    Evidence. This seems to me to be conjecture.

    4. There is not agreement among scholars about whether Jesus thought he was the Jewish Messiah, though I would think a majority might think that. And there is even less agreement about whether Jesus thought of himself as divine. I would think the majority would think that any claims in that direction were not very explicit.

    This seems to be your opinion. If it ain’t, provide a link please or a reference.

    5. There is therefore not agreement on how quickly his followers came to see him as divine. Some scholars say it was within decades, perhaps even years (and I think this group is now the majority), while other say it wasn’t until late in the first century.

    Again links to relevant scholars.

    6. Virtually all scholars conclude that Jesus was executed by the Roman authorities and truly died.

    This can’t be the case when there are scholars who question the existence of the said Jesus. You may need to stop lying.

    7. A majority of scholars believe that after his death either his tomb was found empty and/or that his disciples had some visionary experience of him alive, whether those scholars believe he was really resurrected or was not.

    Again links or references to who these scholars are. And to make this quite easy for both sides, you have said you have read a lot on this subject. You can easily point me to the relevant pages of the material you will tell me to read that way it doesn’t take months going through it. You know that no reinventing the will thing.
    I hope this is not asking too much of you

  44. UnkleE and others, before you have a field day flaying my skin. I will correct number 2. Erhman is a historicist arguing for a historical Jesus while Carrier and others argue for Jesus myth.

  45. This is not fact as there are those scholars who disagree.

    This was a response to:

    1. Jesus existed as a real person and the gospels tell us useful historical information about him.

    Keeping your correction to 2 in mind, may I ask you whom you consider as those scholars? I can think of Price and Brodie as scholars, but that’s it. Carrier definitely isn’t a scholar. Even the Jesus Seminar thinks that the Gospels contain some authentic sayings of Jesus.

    6. Virtually all scholars conclude that Jesus was executed by the Roman authorities and truly died.

    This can’t be the case when there are scholars who question the existence of the said Jesus. You may need to stop lying.

    We have a report by Josephus about Jesus’ execution under Pilate’s authority. There are clear issues within the passage on Jesus, but that this part is not problematic is well accepted.

    What evidence do you possess that he is lying?

  46. We have a report by Josephus about Jesus’ execution under Pilate’s authority. There are clear issues within the passage on Jesus, but that this part is not problematic is well accepted

    I could be wrong, but Josephus talks of the trial of James and not of Jesus. Maybe you could point me to the right direction here.
    As to the first question, I sure would compile a list.

  47. It’s in the Antiquities, book 18, 63 and 64. The claims that Jesus was the Messiah and that he was resurrected are considered as inauthentic by scholars. Other parts are also disputed by some, but no notable scholars question the authenticity of the entire passage.

  48. but no notable scholars question the authenticity of the entire passage.

    Not a single notable scholar or archaeologist considers the Pentateuch historical.
    So, using the criteria of consensus you will agree with these experts, yes?

  49. @IgnorantiaNescia

    There is no reason whatsoever to believe there was a core to the 100 word passage. Clement of Alexandria, who’s library (and copy of Antiquities) was bequeathed to Eusebius made not a single mention of the TF. Odd, wouldn’t you say?

    Let’s however (for the sake of argument) grant you that there was an original sentence which was tampered with in the 4th Century. Why, in your honest opinion, did this happen?

  50. @One Skeptic : MAR 07, 2014 @ 20:11:27

    “I have always wondered why Paul never sought out Mary?”

    Jesus went out of Judea and out of the jurisdiction of the Roman Empire lest he is caught again by the Jews and hanged again. He took his mother Mary along with him. Paul must have known it; but he won’t tell it lest he is exposed.

    It is reported that during Jesus’ journey to India, Mary died in the way towards Kashmir and is said to be buried at Murree, a hillstation near Islamabad Pakistan.

    The name Murree is after the name of Mary the mother of Jesus; one may Google for it and read so many entries on it.

    Thanks

  51. Paarsurrey: I googled it. Murree is from the Urdu.

    You still haven’t answered my questions about why so many different biblical writers referred to Jesus being worshipped (and not protesting against it) and forgiving sins. These are massive claims that associate Jesus with God. What do you think?

  52. There is no reason whatsoever to believe there was a core to the 100 word passage. Clement of Alexandria, who’s library (and copy of Antiquities) was bequeathed to Eusebius made not a single mention of the TF. Odd, wouldn’t you say?

    Not at all odd in my opinion, there wouldn’t be much reason for a Christian writer to quote this part if it did not contain the pro-Christian claims. So we have only Origen mentioning it (and possibly also Eusebius quoting it) when it wasn’t yet tampered with.

    Let’s however (for the sake of argument) grant you that there was an original sentence which was tampered with in the 4th Century. Why, in your honest opinion, did this happen?

    I gravitate towards a deliberate “correction” to either make it less offensive to Christians or to create a useful apologetic quote. I suppose a gloss is also possible, but it seems less likely because purging an equivalent of “he was believed to be” has been involved.

    Note that I’m not very sure about a pre-Eusebian date any more – there are indications that Eusebius’ text was “corrected” later, as there are translations/paraphrases of Eusebius that do not contain these interpolations.

  53. It is reported that during Jesus’ journey to India, Mary died in the way towards Kashmir and is said to be buried at Murree, a hillstation near Islamabad Pakistan.

    The name Murree is after the name of Mary the mother of Jesus; one may Google for it and read so many entries on it.

    Mary would have called herself Maryam or Miryam, with Maryam still being the current Aramaic form. Forms corresponding to the English “Mary” in sound would have been a much later development. There is not a shred of evidence that Murree is etymologically related to “Mary” (as MyGoatyBeard noted, the etymology is in fact Urdu) and if so it is most likely a British influence, as Persian and Urdu also have names for her with a final -m.

  54. You may need to stop lying.

    Hi Makagutu, please note the words just above the comment box, especially “Insulting, rude or aggressive comments will be deleted.” I regard this as an unnecessary and insulting comment. I haven’t removed it because I want to answer your otherwise thoughtful and worthwhile questions, but please be more careful with your accusations, especially when they are (as in this case) quite unjustified. We can disagree without getting personal. Thanks.

    This is not fact as there are those scholars who disagree.

    Firstly, I should point out that, by scholar, I mean someone who (1) has a relevant PhD degree, (2) is or has recently been working and publishing in the field, and (3) has the respect of their peers as evidenced by publication in peer-reviewed journals. It is a matter of observation that many who might be regarded as christian apologists meet these definitions, though others don’t, and most mythicists do not. The scholars I quote are from neither extreme, but are among the most respected NT scholars in the world, and many of them are not christians.

    I said “the majority of historical scholars” not every one. I have only come across a couple who doubt Jesus’ historicity (and at least one of them – Price – may no longer meet the requirements I have set out), but I know scores who conclude as I said, and who say that is the vast consensus. Consider this statement by Bart Ehrman: “I don’t think there’s any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus”. For a long list, see Quotes on Jesus as a historical person.

    This is a claim made by mythicists such as Bert Erhman and not historicists. …. Erhman is a historicist arguing for a historical Jesus while Carrier and others argue for Jesus myth.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you are getting at here. Bart would agree with my statement, as would Michael Grant, Maurice Casey & EP Sanders, none of whom are christians.

    Evidence. This seems to me to be conjecture.

    Again I think Ehrman, Casey, Sanders & Grant (for example) would hold this view and would see it as much more than conjecture. For instance, Casey writes in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (p356): “Thus many people regarded Jesus as a prophet, and Jesus used the term “prophet” of himself. …. this category should be taken very seriously in any historical assessment of his ministry.”

    This seems to be your opinion. If it ain’t, provide a link please or a reference.

    Two clauses/sentences are clearly my assessment of the situation (because it is hard to count the numbers), but the others are fact. There isn’t agreement about either of these matters.

    You must realise that Messiah didn’t mean ‘divine’ (that’s why I had a separate statement for divinity), but means ‘anointed’ and hence came to be used of the king, especially the king that the Jews believed would eventually come and re-establish the glorious kingdom of David.

    Craig Keener, in ‘The Historical Jesus of the Gospels’ (p266) argues that Jesus saw himself as Messiah but was reticent to say too much about this, and mentions EP Sanders, Martin Hengel in support of the view that the majority of scholars think this way.

    Maurice Casey, in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (p392ff) argues against this view, but indicates his is the “radical” and less supported view. He believes Jesus “saw himself as the kind of figure who was later to be hailed as ‘Messiah’ though he did not use the term himself …”

    Again links to relevant scholars.

    You can find all you want in Was the divinity of Jesus a third century invention of the church?, where I mention the views of 8 scholars.

    This can’t be the case when there are scholars who question the existence of the said Jesus.

    Again, note I said “the vast majority”, not “all”, and that is the case. The death of Jesus is probably the most secure historical “fact” about Jesus, being attested in 4 gospels plus many other sources including Tacitus & Josephus, not being really questioned by anyone much in ancient times, and not being the sort of thing christians would invent.

    Again links or references to who these scholars are.

    Gary Habermas surveyed 1400 scholarly articles on the resurrection and found that about 75% believe that Jesus’ tomb was empty. Maurice Casey, EP Sanders and the Jesus Seminar are all sceptical scholars who accept the disciples had some “visions” of Jesus apparently alive after his death, though they don’t necessarily accept that Jesus was really resurrected, and of course most christian scholars would too (e.g. NT Wright, Craig Evans, etc).

    I’m sorry this is such a long post. I hope you will find it useful. I will be interested in your response.

  55. @IgnorantiaNescia

    Apologies, I wrote Clement of Alexandria, but i did in fact mean Origen. It was Origen’s library (and copy of Antiquities) that was bequeathed to Eusebius, and he made no mention of the TF…. a clear indication that there NEVER was any aboriginal core to the passage.

    So, the question stands: don’t you find it odd that Origen, one of the early churches marketing managers, didn’t mention it?

    “I gravitate towards a deliberate “correction””
    -What you mean here, of course, is forgery. Outright forgery… deliberate tampering with a historical document to give an illusion of life where there was none.

    Perhaps you can also answer me this: why do police detectives today plant “evidence” at a scene?

  56. @unklee

    Gary Habermas surveyed 1400 scholarly articles on the resurrection and found that about 75% believe that Jesus’ tomb was empty.

    Habermas is Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and chairman of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_University

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_University#Biology
    Liberty University teaches young Earth creationism as an explanation for the appearance of life on earth. The university works with young Earth creationist organizations including Answers in Genesis.[114][115][116][117] In biology classes students are taught both creationism and evolution and that creationism offers a better explanation of biological diversity than evolution.[118][119] In October, 2006 the university published an advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education in an attempt to recruit staff to its biology department. The advertisement stated that the university was “seeking faculty who can demonstrate a personal faith commitment to its evangelical Christian purpose” and specified that “compatibility with a young-earth creationist philosophy [is] required.”[120]

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/02/responding-to-the-minimal-facts-argument-for-the-resurrection-habermas/

    Are you sure you want to continue to use Habermas as a reference?

  57. Apologies, I wrote Clement of Alexandria, but i did in fact mean Origen. It was Origen’s library (and copy of Antiquities) that was bequeathed to Eusebius, and he made no mention of the TF…. a clear indication that there NEVER was any aboriginal core to the passage.

    So, the question stands: don’t you find it odd that Origen, one of the early churches marketing managers, didn’t mention it?

    No worries, we all make errors. I guessed you meant Origen, but thanks for clarifying.

    I suppose we simply disagree here. I agree Origen didn’t quote the Testimonium Flavianum, but he did allude to it when he wrote that Josephus didn’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah. That is quite much to infer from the section about Ananus and James the Just, so it likely derives from a more sceptical original of the Testimonium Flavianum.

    But then we must recall what the original Testimonium contained: saying that Jesus was believed to be the Messiah and other statements that are too sceptical to be of use to Christian apologists. At least it was in that form useless in absence of any Jesus Mythicists. Who didn’t exist until the late eighteenth century.

    I think this blog covers simlar and some other things rather excellently, the part starting from “Pre-Eusebian References to Josephus’ Antiquities”: http://armariummagnus.blogspot.nl/2013/12/the-jesus-myth-theory-reponse-to-david.html

    “I gravitate towards a deliberate “correction””
    -What you mean here, of course, is forgery. Outright forgery… deliberate tampering with a historical document to give an illusion of life where there was none.

    Perhaps you can also answer me this: why do police detectives today plant “evidence” at a scene?

    Yup, forgery. And I’d suppose police would do to implicate innocent people. The Testimonium was of course not doctored to do that, but of course it made an apologetically useless text into a highly convenient one.

  58. Sorry OneSkeptic, I missed this one:

    Not a single notable scholar or archaeologist considers the Pentateuch historical.
    So, using the criteria of consensus you will agree with these experts, yes?

    I would definitely agree, though I actually know of an archaeologist who actually disagrees.

    I don’t intend to use the scholarly consensus as a hard criterion, though, but rather as an immediate justification for a layman’s views. It’s a bit as how we can simply accept the scientific consensus of evolution and climate change and don’t have to first debunk all sorts of pseudoscience.

    Of course, there are legitimate areas of debate in all these subjects (e.g. punctuated equilibrium in evolution, degree of feedback in climate science), but they aren’t raised very often outside the dedicated literature.

  59. @ Ignorantianescia.

    I would definitely agree, though I actually know of an archaeologist who actually disagrees.

    Fair enough. The Pentateuch, is fiction.
    Now on to the NT.

    Scholarly consensus is that, there was likely a character called Jesus, an itinerant eschatological preacher/rabbi who was probably crucified by the Romans.
    And this is the only thing the scholarly consensus agrees upon.

    Currently, I agree with these experts. I take it that you do as well?

    Every thing else is pure conjecture and for the Christian , faith.

  60. @unkleE:MAR 08, 2014 @ 23:33:33

    “Do I take it from your answer that you don’t accept what the scholars say about history and Jesus?” Unquote

    Hi unkleE

    I think it is a strange question.

    History is not 100% truthful, as you know; there are always scholars differing with other scholars of history.

    If the Christians don’t accept what they believe to be Jesus’ (their god or son of god) words expressing his own core teachings where he quoted and referred to OT, Moses, and prophets; how they think others would accept what lesser scholars have written about history and Jesus?

    Moreover history is not written only in Europe that Jesus never visited; history is also written in other countries where Jesus and Mary and other disciples of Jesus actually visited. Will that be acceptable to you? Please.

    To believe in history or scholars of history is not a prime article of faith or a pillar of faith of Islam:

    Articles of Faith
    • Unity of God
    • His Angels
    • His Books
    • His Prophets
    • The Last Day
    • Divine Decree
    Five Pillars of Islam
    • Kalima
    • Prayer
    • Fasting
    • Zakaat
    • Hajj
    http://www.alislam.org/

    Is believing in history or scholars of history the prime tenet of Christianity?

    I don’t think so

    Thanks and regards

  61. To believe in history or scholars of history is not a prime article of faith or a pillar of faith of Islam

    Hi paarsurrey, I didn’t ask whether it was a prime article of faith but whether you accepted the verdict of historians. I’m getting the picture that you generally don’t, is that right?

    History is not 100% truthful, as you know; there are always scholars differing with other scholars of history.

    Agreed. But where the scholars are pretty much agreed, I think we can have reasonable confidence in their conclusions, just as we can have reasonable confidence in the conclusions of scientists. But I’m getting the impression you wouldn’t allow history or science to change your religious views. Is that correct?

    I am quite interested to hear your Islamic views, as we discussed when you first commented, but I am no more likely to be convinced by them that you were convinced when some of us quoted the Bible at you. The conclusions of scholars gives a reasonable neutral base from which to have a discussion. Without it, discussion becomes little more than “Yes it is!” “No it isn’t!”.

    Is believing in history or scholars of history the prime tenet of Christianity?

    No it isn’t, but there are many things I think (about many things) that are not prime tenets of christianity. In this matter, I follow the advice of CS Lewis, that if God and truth seem to be diverging, follow truth, because you’ll find that was where God was all along.

  62. @unkleE: MAR 11, 2014 @ 02:12:43

    “I think we can have reasonable confidence in their conclusions, just as we can have reasonable confidence in the conclusions of scientists.” Unquote

    I think it is knowledge through Revelation which primarily guides us in the ethical, moral and spiritual realms. History or science cannot make a mortal one an Immortal one. Even if there would be persons who rely on history or science as a perfect guide; and they say with consensus, they cannot make one a god.

    So with reasonable confidence by which you mean a controversial simple majority ,it can guide us little in such prime issue of Christianity as to confer on Jesus godhead or son-ship of god which even Jesus did not claim in a very straightforward manner; I think it would be most unwise.

    And it is against the core teachings of Jesus; why go against him to make him a god or son of god?

    Thanks

  63. And it is against the core teachings of Jesus; why go against him to make him a god or son of god?

    How does one argue against this?

  64. paarsurrey, One Skeptic:

    All Christians worship only one God. The error you make is thinking that Christians worship 3 Gods. This is not what Christians claim to believe. So Christians obey the commandment issued by Jesus that paarsurrey keeps quoting. We only worship the one, true God.

    But paarsurrey is happy to quote the verses from Matthew that he likes, but doesn’t respond to the other verses I mention in Matthew that speak of Jesus:-
    1. being worshipped (John 9:38, Mark 5:6,Matthew 15:25,Matthew 2:11)
    2. forgiving people (Matt 9:27)
    and I would add:
    3. Jesus claiming that he came to ‘fulfil the law’ (Matt 5:17).

    Paarsurrey – do you just want to ignore these verses because you don’t like them? If you want to quote Christian scriptures then you should consider all of them shouldn’t you? I am very happy for you to quote scripture because I believe it is part of the revelation of God.

    Why do you think Jesus received worship, forgave sins and even spoke of fulfilling the law of God?

  65. @Mygoatybeard

    I, for one, am fully aware that Christians only worship one god: Jesus;
    the transmogrified literary construct that is Yahweh of the Old Testament.
    What you, and apparently most other Christians are unaware of, or refuse to accept, is that ”godhood” was bestowed upon Jesus by the Church.
    The dispute over Jesus’s status/his nature raged from the word go but Jesus was never, ever considered to be God(Yahweh) until the Church decreed it and wrote it into Law.
    I feel you are incredibly ignorant of the history of your own faith and recommend you take a little time to study it.

  66. Paarsurrey: I know what OneSkeptic thinks, but how about you?

    What do you think of the numerous mentions by different authors, one of whom you quote as speaking God’s truth, and which tell of Jesus being worshipped, of forgiving sin against God, and of even claiming to ‘fulfil’ the law of God? Do you think there is truth in these things?

  67. @MyGoatyBeard :MAR 11, 2014 @ 22:33:06,MAR 13, 2014 @ 07:13:29

    Christians should follow acts and deeds of Jesus; he introduced no new form of worship; he and his mother Mary never went to a Church; they used to go in the synagogues and followed what was done there. Jews worship none but Yahweh as told by Moses in the OT.

    Christians of different denominations are used to changing the text of the Bible and they make it to suit to their beliefs:

    Matthew 15:25
    21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
    23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
    24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
    25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
    26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
    27“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
    28Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

    http://biblehub.com/niv/matthew/15.htm

    21 aJesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of bTyre and bSidon.
    22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, aSon of David; my daughter is cruelly bdemon-possessed.”
    23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting1at us.”
    24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to athe lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
    25 But she came and abegan 1to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
    26 And He answered and said, “It is not 1good to take the children’sbread and throw it to the dogs.”
    27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; 1but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
    28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, ayour faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed 1at once.

    http://biblia.com/books/nasb95/Mt15.20

    There is no mention of any worship in Matthew 15:25.
    Instead of changing their beliefs and making them in conformity with the core teachings of Jesus and Moses and the prophets; they change Jesus and try to shape him as per their wishes.

    Thanks

  68. @paarsurrey: Thanks! You make some really good points. Thanks for taking the time to address this.

    I do think that translations change as languages change. Obviously we don’t use the same language now in England that we did 400 years ago. So ‘Worship’ is translated in the versions you quote as ‘Bow down’ and ‘kneel before’ him. Not ‘worship’ – you’re right!

    But paarsurrey, do you bow down and kneel before anybody nowadays? I would only do that to God.

    Let me be very honest with you and tell you that when I first became a Christian I wondered about Jesus being called God. I read the New Testament for hours every day then one day I read this passage from Matthew 23:37:-

    ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.’

    Who do you think is speaking?

  69. @Mygoatybeard

    Who do you think is speaking?

    Shrug. I’ll have at go at this. Whoever wrote Matthew?

    This is based on the fact that the gospels were written decades after the events by non eyewitnesses and ”Matthew” used ‘Mark’ as a template for his version. 600 verses at least…
    And it is important to remember that “Matthew ‘ cited the Zombie Apocalypse as ‘fact’.
    How trustworthy this writer was is wide open to debate.

  70. In fact a movement for purification of Bible (NT) is needed.

    1. What Jesus actually said and quoted by Bible should be jotted down.
    2. Jesus’ core teaching should be distinctively noted as his firm and unambiguous teachings; and it should form as touchstone of his sayings
    3. All such sayings which are dubious and not as firm as the core teachings should be interpreted under the firm meanings of the core teachings; else separated as weak narrations or fabricated in his name and not having told by Jesus.
    4. For the contradictory verses; those which are against reason or common sense and not in line with the core teachings should be discarded.
    5. All such teachings which in essence have no origin in the OT should be discarded as Jesus was a Jew and his advent was for the revival of the teachings of Moses.

    This way the Christians could come out from the mess that was started by Paul and associated by the Church.

    These points have been inferred from the core teachings of Jesus as already mentioned by me in this thread.

    Yet; this is to be done by the Christians themselves while they get prepared to join in and to welcome Jesus’ Second Coming which has in fact already taken place.

    Thanks and regards

  71. Jesus mentions his core teachings:

    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Matthew 22:36-40

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A36-40

    The method of purification of Bible suggested by me is reasonably inferred from the above Jesus’ core teachings.

    1. “This is the first and greatest commandment” hence, I think, Jesus would be happy if it is used as touch stone of his teachings and those which contradict with it are dubious and must be discarded.
    2. “All the Law”; here he means that his teachings are for revival of Moses’ law; those of his teachings that conform to it only that must be accepted the rest discarded. This adds further purity to # 1.
    3. “And the Prophets”; if the teachings have been mentioned by the prophets that further would ensure correctness.
    4. “Love your neighbor as yourself”; all teachings that your neighbors don’t understand being mythical, not accepted by common sense and unreasonable should not be accepted.

    Quran also confirms this principle:

    [3:8] He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book; in it there are verses that are decisive in meaning — they are the basis of the Book — and there are others that are susceptible of different interpretations. But those in whose hearts is perversity pursue such thereof as are susceptible of different interpretations, seeking discord and seeking wrong interpretation of it. And none knows its right interpretation except Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge; they say, ‘We believe in it; the whole is from our Lord.’ — And none heed except those gifted with understanding. —

    http://www.alislam.org/quran/search2/showChapter.php?ch=3

    I think with this measure Judaism, Christianity and Islam; even other revealed religions (Buddhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism etc) come on to the same page.

    Thanks and regards

  72. @paarsurrey

    I realise that you are interpreting the bible in the light of the Quran. I don’t see a need to do that because I don’t see a problem with all that has been said in the Bible.

    I’ve given you lots of quotations (and there are many more) that imply Jesus was so much more than just a man. Of course you can simply say that they are wrong and the Quran is right. Anybody can believe what they like (in fact on this thread you can see a very strong belief which directly conflicts with yours and mine). The question is ‘what is the truth?’

    I don’t see any need to ‘purify the bible’. There is only one God who we should worship, and the bible gives wonderful insight into who he is. I am sure that we cannot fully understand God, but I think Jesus is the best picture of God that we can have. He demonstrates love, grace and truth so perfectly with how he lived and the fact that he died to rescue us from the punishment that we deserve.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas. I hope you read about the Jesus of the bible without feeling you need to change what the original authors wrote.

  73. Before I state my question, I would like to extend to you the same courtesy that you have to me. I will tell you where I am coming from.

    I am technically an agnostic, but I generally argue that atheist views are more rational and consistent than those of theists. That said, I do not believe that the historical evidence has been proven to adequately substantiate the primary argument made by either side. Instead, I maintain that it is erroneous to assume that profound meaning be attributed to historical accounts simply because their origins are rooted in antiquity. Specifically, I consider the acceptance of unqualified statements made by historical men – without reproducible evidence – as truth, irrational. Such statements should and must be validated by the contemporary populace. From my perspective, this is the true crux of the theist vs. atheist debate.

    I acknowledge that the existence of God has not be proven nor disproved. However, in probabilistic terms, if the probability that God exists is 50%, the probability of it being sentient is 25%, and thus the ultimate probability of it being interventionist – as prescribed by Abrahamic religions – is only 12.5%. This implies that the existence of God, as maintained by most religions, is more unlikely than likely.

    Speaking from this position, I pose the following question. How do Christians rationalize the patterned nature of the dispersion of faith in general?

  74. Hi Mark, thanks for visiting and commenting. May I say upfront how much I appreciated your comment. It is clear, courteous and logical, and promotes discussion rather than promoting disagreement. It was a pleasure to read. I would like to have the same attributes, but I’m sure I don’t always.

    Having flattered you unmercifully, let’s get down to business.

    I maintain that it is erroneous to assume that profound meaning be attributed to historical accounts simply because their origins are rooted in antiquity.

    I agree with this statement.

    I consider the acceptance of unqualified statements made by historical men – without reproducible evidence – as truth, irrational. Such statements should and must be validated by the contemporary populace.

    I presume you are referring to the Bible? My belief is based on the New Testament, which has been studied to death by contemporary scholars of all persuasions from vehement atheist to faithful believer. They don’t all agree of course, but there is a reasonable consensus on some basic issues (see Jesus in history).

    I regard that consensus as telling us about evidence and truth. Not certainty, because of course new information can be found, just as in science, but as close to “knowledge” as we humans can get about the past.

    My belief goes beyond the historical consensus of course, but only in ways I believe are justified by the evidence, and more probable than any other possibility. We do that in many parts of life.

    if the probability that God exists is 50%, the probability of it being sentient is 25%, and thus the ultimate probability of it being interventionist – as prescribed by Abrahamic religions – is only 12.5%. This implies that the existence of God, as maintained by most religions, is more unlikely than likely

    I think this is only true for what is called the “prior probability”, that is, prior to looking at the evidence. Bayesian probability begins with this prior probability and shows how it can be modified as one considers the evidence. I believe a strong case can be made to justify a much higher probability once the evidence is considered. (See The Probability of God and Miracles and probability: the adventures of a maths nerd.)

    How do Christians rationalize the patterned nature of the dispersion of faith in general?

    I can only give you how I see it, which is as follows:

    1. Belief is clearly passed on to new generations by the teaching of families and culture, and it is also taken up by people who grew up in a different belief. The data suggests that somewhere between 25% and 50% of christians today converted rather than grew up in the faith (see How many christians are converts?). So individual choice is an important reason for the current spread of religions – even where a culture is predominantly religious today, it had to begin by lots of people making choices of many years.

    2. I would have thought that was all fairly clear and uncontroversial. But are you then alluding to the question of what happens to those who grew up in the “wrong” belief? I see little problem there. The Bible (in just a few places) and two of the most prominent christians of the last century (CS Lewis & Billy Graham) all indicate that people are judged by God according to what they know, not according to what they don’t know. So all have equal opportunity to be accepted by God. This isn’t pluralism, for I don’t believe all are equally correct, but I believe God’s grace in Jesus reaches out to everyone, whether they know it or not. But not all choose to act according to the light they have been given.

    I hope that answers your question. I’d be interested to read your response. Thanks.

  75. @MyGoatyBeard ;MAR 21, 2014 @ 18:24:09

    “but I think Jesus is the best picture of God that we can have”

    Jesus was just one picture of the One-True-God (I don’t mean from god here trinity or jesus); there were many pictures and Jesus was just one of them.

    Regards

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