Jesus of where? A response by Frank Zindler to Bart Ehrman

(We welcome FTN guestwriter and fellow mythicist Frank Zindler, editor of American Atheist Magazine and Director of American Atheist Press, rebutting the “historical” Jesus of Bart Ehrman’s rendering in his recent book Did Jesus Exist?)

Frank ZindlerBart’s Subtitle

By Frank R. Zindler
fzindler@atheists.org

The subtitle of Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? promises The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. This leads prospective readers to expect that the Jesus of concern in the book is to be associated with the “town” of Nazareth and that it is this identifying tie between Nazareth and Jesus that will be the major investigative concern of the book. One would expect to find evidence supporting the historical existence of not just any-old Jesus. Rather, one anticipates learning the evidence supporting the existence of a Jesus who lived in a place called Nazareth at the turn of the era.

Evangelical and fundamentalist readers might further expect to learn whether or not the Nazareth from which Ehrman’s Jesus came was the place described in the gospels—a town big enough to have a synagogue placed “on the brow of the hill” (Luke 4:28-30).

Alas, the Jesus of Nazareth found in Bart’s subtitle is almost completely absent from the book. Only eleven times in the 360-page book can we find the expression “Jesus of Nazareth,” although the word “Nazareth” occurs 87 times. Three of the 11 appearances of “Jesus of Nazareth” occur on the title page, the copyright page, and a section heading. He appears two more times in the references at the back of the book, leaving a total of six places in the book where the phrase “Jesus of Nazareth” is actually employed by Ehrman himself. This averages one occurrence per every 60 pages! This fact does not promote the impression that Jesus of Nazareth is the actual character whose historical existence Ehrman intends to establish.

“The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence.

But it seems I have miscounted the number of places where Ehrman himself refers to Jesus of Nazareth. One of the six actually turns out to be a quotation from Albert Schweitzer:

“There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence…”

It is hard to see how this quotation supports Ehrman’s thesis, even though it is true that Schweitzer himself believed in the existence of an historical Jesus from somewhere or other. (In fact, Ehrman nonchalantly comments on page 191, “If Jesus existed, as the evidence suggests, but Nazareth did not, as this [mythicist] assertion claims, then he merely came from somewhere else.”

Jesus of Timbuktu!

So there you have it! Ehrman’s book proving the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth might actually be proving the existence of Jesus of Hoboken, Jesus of Rancho Cucamonga, or even the Jesus of Timbukthree instead! In the second edition of this book, I would suggest the subtitle be changed to read The Historical Argument for Jesus of Fill-in-the-Blank.

Of the remaining five places where Ehrman uses the phrase “Jesus of Nazareth,” one of them is a misrepresentation of the writings of the ancient Jewish historian Josephus:

“In his various writings Josephus mentions a large number of Jews, especially as they were important for the social, political, and historical situation in Palestine. As it turns out, he discusses several persons named Jesus, and he deals briefly also with John the Baptist. And on two occasions, at least in the writings as they have come down to us today, he mentions Jesus of Nazareth.”

Contrary to Ehrman’s claim, however, Josephus never refers to a “Jesus of Nazareth.” (Amazingly, Ehrman actually quotes the two disputed Josephan passages in his book where readers can immediately see that Nazareth does not occur in the passages quoted!) This fact is important, because Josephus, although he refers to forty-five places in Galilee and fortified a town less than two miles from present-day Nazareth, knew nothing of Nazareth itself. Naturally, then, he could not be witness to any character styled Jesus of Nazareth. Moreover, Josephus was from a priestly family. How could he have ignored a polis [city-state] that had a synagogue?

This leaves four references to Jesus of Nazareth for us to examine amidst 360 pages of expectedly well-written prose. One of the three remainders is a rather anecdotal comment about Ehrman’s experience at a Humanist conference where many of the participants expressed mythicist leanings:

“…many of them were completely taken aback when they learned that I have a different view, that I think that there certainly was a Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and about whom we can say a good deal as a historical figure.”

Formally, this anecdote is merely a reference to personal experience. Even so, it makes the concealed unsubstantiated claim that “we can say a good deal [about Jesus] as a historical figure.” One easily can forget that this hidden claim is a wild exaggeration. We can say a good deal about Jesus of Nazareth? Really? Why, then, does Ehrman say virtually nothing specifically pertaining to Jesus of Nazareth in his entire book?

Assorted fallacies

Two of the remaining three references to Jesus of Nazareth are simple instances of the fallacies of informal logic known as the appeal to authority and the ad populum (“three million Frenchmen can’t be wrong”) fallacies. The first quotation of this sort is from his argument that mythicists generally do not have enough specialized education to qualify them to write about a mythical Jesus of Nazareth. They aren’t experts:

“It is striking that virtually everyone who has spent all the years needed to attain these qualifications is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure.”

The second passage embodying these fallacies is found in the section of his book entitled “The Gospels and Their Written Sources”:

“Once it is conceded that the Gospels can and should be treated as historical sources, no different from other historical sources infused with their author’s biases, it starts to become clear why historians have almost universally agreed that whatever else one might say about him, Jesus of Nazareth lived in first-century Palestine and was crucified by the prefect [Ehrman corrects Tacitus concerning Pilate’s title] of Judea.”

Simply stating the obvious fact that the vast majority of New Testament specialists are historicists is not evidence for the concealed proposition “Jesus of Nazareth once lived in Roman Palestine and was crucified by Pontius Pilate.” That is a statement in need of proof—proof for which mythicists seek in vain in the pages of Ehrman’s book.

That fact leaves us with only one passage in the entire book where Ehrman uses the name “Jesus of Nazareth” as an integral part of his argument. This instance is found in his discussion of methodology to separate the miraculous Jesus from the mundane Jesus:

“The reason this line of reasoning is in error is that we are not asking whether Jesus really did miracles and, if so, why they (and he) are not mentioned by pagan sources. We are asking whether Jesus of Nazareth actually existed. Only after establishing that he did exist can we go on to ask if he did miracles. If we decide that he did, only then can we revisit the question of why no one, in that case, mentions him.”

We are left, therefore, with a book that isn’t really intended to prove the existence of a god-man who came from a place called Nazareth. Ehrman has hedged his bets and is attempting to prove the existence of any Jesus who can be pressed into service to explain a unitary origin of Christianity.

Why Jesus?

One may fairly ask at this point, “Why should this initiating stimulator have been named Jesus either? Wasn’t he named Jesus because the Aramaic equivalent (yeshua‘) means Savior? In Septuagint Greek, the word IESOUS can also represent the name Joshua. Maybe we should be looking for a Joshua instead of a Savior?

But why, exactly, would Ehrman suppose that Jesus is the first name of his putative character, rather than a title or epithet? He knows that Christ is a title, not a name. Why not Jesus? Moreover, wasn’t Jesus the ultimate name bestowed upon Paul’s “Christ Jesus” in the so-called Kenosis Hymn (Philippians 2:5-11)?

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him [Christ Jesus], and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”

Isn’t Jesus here a name of magical power given to a being who was called “Christ” before he was titled Jesus? Isn’t that why we still find occasional references to Christ Jesus instead of Jesus Christ?

Is it not the case that if – as the consensus of historicist scholarly opinion holds – unlike Hinduism and traditional Egyptian, Greek and Roman religions, Christianity began at a single point in time and was initiated by a single person, couldn’t that person have been named Ichabod as well as Savior? Couldn’t the name of Savior have been given to him after his death? If we no longer have to think of Christianity as having been founded by a “Jesus of Nazareth,” couldn’t it have been founded by someone named anything at all?

In Did Jesus Exist? Ehrman claims to have presented evidence for the existence of “Jesus of Nazareth.” Mythicists in the rebuttals that will follow me, however, shall look for evidence for the existence of Ehrman’s evidence.

Further Reading

Where Jesus Never Walked:

Nazareth is not mentioned even once in the entire Old Testament, nor do any ancient historians or geographers mention it before the beginning of the fourth century. The Talmud, although it names 63 Galilean towns, knows nothing of Nazareth. Josephus, who wrote extensively about Galilee (a region roughly the size of Rhode Island) and conducted military operations back and forth across the tiny territory in the last half of the first century, mentions Nazareth not even once — although he does mention by name 45 other cities and villages of Galilee. This is even more telling when one discovers that Josephus does mention Japha, a village which is just over a mile from present-day Nazareth! Josephus tells us that he was occupied there for some time. Today, Japha can be considered a suburb of Nazareth, but in Josephus’ day, I’ll wager, the people of Japha buried their dead in the tombs of the unnamed necropolis that now underlies the modern city called Nazareth….

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  1. Jesus the Nazarene
    The question of the origin of the phrase Jesus of Nazareth is a very good one to explore how the Christ myth evolved. René Salm, in The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus, edited by Frank Zindler, details extensive archaeological work in Nazareth that found no evidence of a town at the purported time of Christ. Link is http://www.nazarethmyth.info/

    Paul never locates Jesus physically, whether in Nazareth, Galilee, Jerusalem or Bethlehem. Why then did the Gospel authors say Jesus came from a town in Galilee? The evidence is sketchy. What seems most plausible to me is that the Nazarenes were a radical messianic Gnostic sect, linked to groups such as the Essenes and Ebionites, who provided a large part of the impetus for imagining that the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament had been fulfilled. However, with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, it is plausible that the Nazarenes were banned. So, early Christians faced political difficulties in describing Jesus as a Nazarene, without linking this title o a safer political basis. As Jesus was gradually carnalized, turned into a historical person, the Evangelists faced the problem of inventing a life story, in a way that would give some acknowledgement to the role of the Nazarenes while not going too far in a direction viewed as seditious. Hence the invention of Nazareth in Galilee.

    Jesus says (Mark 4:34; Matt 13:10-11, 34) that everything told to the public is a parable, whlle the truth is reserved for the initiates. The whole story of the historical Jesus can be viewed as a parable, a public story with a hidden symbolic meaning, designed to provide a believable account to expand public interest. For the Gnostic initiates, the whole story of Jesus is explained as a cosmic parable, with Jesus as a symbol of the sun. Nazareth too makes sense in this framework as a parable, aiming to provide a believable historical story, while also pointing to a concealed meaning.

    1. Jesus was supposedly born in Bethlehem , not Nazareth ! Mark chapter 2 who would be so stupid to postulate otherwise that the new testament says that, old testament prophecy says the messiah would be called a Nazarene , hence his mothers occupancy in Nazareth at the time of conception making her a nazerene hence by proxy also her child , and his birth name had it been registered anywhere it would have been Emanuel or even perhaps Yeshua, Son of Ha‘Elyon.But not Jesus and seeing how there was a death squad searching for a boy child his age it is quite likely his identity would had have to been hidden, hence why most intellectual Christians would not be foolish enough to even go looking for such documentation. And as far as an adult no census would he have taken part of since he claimed his kingdom was not of the earth or men. Just another dumb assumption made by many trying to justify their affiliation to an agenda orientated organization rather than gleaning the wisdom Jesus brings to the table, and instead of eating they want to argue where they sit at the table. It is wise to eat when fed truth and wisdom and then digest and look to be fed when hungry. , gandi Lived , is provable without a doubt , he liked Jesus but did not like the Christian church as represented, it seems Ehrman might fall in such a church

  2. Continuous Apologies
    I find it to be hilarious yet disturbing when people still trying to prove a thing even if it has been refuted several times. Bart Ehrman is no different to an eight-year old child arguing with his 20-year brother that Superman didn’t exist.

    In the documentary by Scott Burdick entitled “Great Minds Of Our Time”, Acharya told that in order to cover up myths, they will add more myths. Just like the inconsistency of Jesus’s genealogies made by Matthew and Luke. Just like Ehrman citing that the Jesus in TF came from Nazareth even if there is none. Well it seems that early Church Father Eusebius forgot to add that. Hahaha

    And of course, after this comment. Evemerists and Theists would troll on this site and I simply find it amusing. The more they attack, the more it becomes obvious and more people starts to investigate the mythical nature of religions.

    Cheers.

  3. Fact versus fiction
    Jonathan-Outstanding analogy, Theists and Evemerists have been attacking Acharya for years. She uses documented evidence from reputable scholars as well as her own work. They use logical fallacies and outright lies, all demonstrably so. If they abided by the rules of debate they wouldn’t even begin. Their position begins with lies and can only be supported by lies.

    1. They find it hard
      Well, I cannot really put the blame on these theists because they have been taught to cling to their faith whatever happens. I’m quite in the same situation. For almost 20 years I was studying in Catholic schools and in a Catholic university. It took me 3 years to fully digest and understood what Acharya S and the other people had presented. But when I studied Biochemistry as my college degree I realized that you are not supposed to believe blindly to some demonic possession because there are dozens of diseases which can fit instead of chanting Our Father and sprinkling Holy water. (e.g. meningitis, porphyria, wilson’s disease, herpes encephalitis, etc)

      These theists like Ehrman defends their faith because of their vested interests.

      To the trolls, let the trolling commence. 🙂

  4. For years I have respected Mr. Zindler’s scholarly
    It was Mr. Zindler’s enlightening articles on the American Atheists website which persuaded me that geographical and historical errors in the New Testament establish that Jesus of Nazareth is a creation of second century writers. Mr. Zindler’s thorough analysis of historical and archeological evidence convinces me that the town of Nazareth did not exist in the first century. He has demonstrated to my satisfaction that the marble fragment discovered in Caesarea in 1962 does not contain a reference to any town named Nazareth, particularly, any town with that name existing in the first century. I recommend Mr. Zindler’s article “How Jesus Got a Life” which can be found at http://www.atheists.org/content/how-jesus-got-life .

    Thank you, Mr. Zindler, for your scholarship, superb writing, and sharing of your well-reasoned opinions.

  5. Ehrman Stretching The Truth
    Frank R. Zindler’s excellent, detailed analysis of Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?” concludes with his (Mr. Zindler’s) two sentences:

    “In Did Jesus Exist? Ehrman claims to have presented evidence for the existence of “Jesus of Nazareth.” Mythicists in the rebuttals that will follow me, however, shall look for evidence for the existence of Ehrman’s evidence.”

    Those two concluding sentences by Mr. Zindler caused me to think the following:

    Bart Ehrman seems to be very qualified to have been the Director of the department that Winston Smith worked in – The Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Truth
    Wikipedia: Ministry of Truth.

  6. Mister Zindler does not proof anything . In ancient times it was quite common as it is nowadays to give the same name to a town or (little)village after the name of a valley or a region already in existence , may be for hundreds of years .
    A small region with a group of jewish people , some hundreds of people in a region or valley could on first hand been have named after the name of the region or valley they lived in . Called something like nazareth or nazzarene or something similar . If it were a couple of hundred people it would not have been mentioned in other historical scriptures .
    Later on , of course the usual practice of upgrading starts , only to give some body and cachet to the place of origin of Jesus . It is the same thing with the stories of king david and solomon , there is no shred of evidence that proofs they have ever existed .
    However in human history there have been a lot of preachers and self appointed prophets who were convinced that they had to spread some believe, so Jesus of Nazareth could have existed as a prophet who originated from a specific region or valley named something like nazareth
    Every one may believe in it .
    Every one may deny it , but they also don’t have any hard evidence of the non-existence of Jesus of Nazareth either .

    1. Silly position…Peter
      peter…look at the last line of your post. You said…”they don’t have any hard evidence of the non-existence of jesus of Nazareth either” It is not incumbent upon those that don’t believe to prove that the wild claims of someone else are not true…it is incumbent upon those that make the ridiculous claims to prove that they are true. Besides, when you prove that Nazareth didn’t exist when the story of jesus was supposed to have taken place, it absolutely destroys the christian fairytale.

      1. I agree with you.

        I also disagree with the CLAIM that there’s no evidence that no such person called Jesus of Nazareth (“Jesus _the_ Nazarene” in the original Greek!) as depicted in the Bible ever existed.

        There is a preponderance of evidence so vast, that when taken as a whole, becomes concrete evidence proving the mythicist position, and it strikingly contrasts with both the vast lacunae of concrete evidence supporting the Christians claim, and the discredited interpolations which Christian apoligists keep returning to ad nasaeum. both. And remember, anecdotes are not evidence.

        When ALL evidence concerning the existence of Jesus is gathered together at once to be vetted, and all ‘opinions’, anecdotes, and discredited interpolations are rejected, all that remains as credible evidence is that preponderance which soundly supports the mythicist position.

  7. This sure is an attempt to require proving a negative. Anyways, then you must admit as an evemerist that the rest of Gods and Goddesses must have had also a mortal counter part too, right? However, Acharya S. has plentifully answered through her books and numerous articles why the position that Jesus of Nazareth is the only god that had a real man as his historical core is simply B.S.

    1. It’s not about trying to prove a negative as that would be a fallacy in this particular case. We’re investigating the claims made by theists (specifically Christians in this case). Either there’s evidence to substantiate the claims or there’s not – and there’s not.

      Those who make the claim are responsible for providing the ‘burden of proof’ i.e. credible evidence to support the claims. Theists have always failed miserably in this task.

  8. Correction
    Acts not old testament sorry 🙁

    1. Posted comment not posted:sad: dusting off heels now, why is when the truth is presented it is not posted, another atheist with agenda to diembowel the truth for sake of preserving argument? How sad Here try again.Acts not old testament sorry 🙁

      1. Shane, every single one of your posts has been posted so, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

        1. Sorry
          Complete posting not going through mabye my fault on my end, any way this what I was trying to share; I believe on the words of Jesus and have faith that god exists , and until all that is to be known is known he shall remain hidden , hence the absence of all knowledge not yet discovered proves we need to keep looking, and when we get there surely blessings will come to All, most people who doubt probably think the tiniest thing is quarks and the largest thing the universe? Some people just want to justify their behavior based on what they know rather than what they don’t know ,- sad cause I’m guilty too, drafts don’t cause cold , viruses do but what is often underlooked upon is what causes matter that makes a virus and what causes the energetic forces that make up matter and why don’t we understand our thoughts produce the same energy found in all matter (electromagnetic) and what causes cause, effect? Be careful fellow humans what you effect, the cause just might be the wrong one. We are not so separate from what causes us that we should be so blind to who we belong too,, each other! Love your neighbor, and above all love God ( all that is hidden from the wisdom of man) with all your might, heart and soul and we will find that which is hidden and receive the blessing of having life eternal in bliss,!! Stopping at nuclear bombs is not nearly far enough of a discovery into the unknown but when monkey gets a hammer he uses it! Don’t be a monkey(animal) keep looking farther , cause monkeys are good at flinging poo it’s easy to see who the monkeys are. Peacen what they know rather than what they don’t know ,- sad cause I’m guilty too, drafts don’t cause cold , viruses do but what is often underlooked upon is what causes matter that makes a virus and what causes the energetic forces that make up matter and why don’t we understand our thoughts produce the same energy found in all matter (electromagnetic) and what causes cause, effect? Be careful fellow humans what you effect, the cause just might be the wrong one. We are not so separate from what causes us that we should be so blind to who we belong too,, each other! Love your neighbor, and above all love God ( all that is hidden from the wisdom of man) with all your might, heart and soul and we will find that which is hidden and receive the blessing of having life eternal in bliss,!! Stopping at nuclear bombs is not nearly far enough of a discovery into the unknown but when monkey gets a hammer he uses it! Don’t be a monkey(animal) keep looking farther , cause monkeys are good at flinging poo it’s easy to see who the monkeys are. Peace, it’s a jungle out there

          1. God/Jesus is supposed to be the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe yet, is incapable showing himself or leaving behind credible evidence of himself, which would:

            1. Save xians from persecution

            2. Convince billions more skeptics and Pagans thus, saving more souls, which is what all of this is suppose to be all about, right?

            So, either God doesn’t give care about you or he doesn’t exist. All theistic arguments have failed – there’s still not a shred of valid evidence for supernatural religious claims. If there were any credible evidence faith and euphoria would not be the main requirement.

            It seems more likely that religion is a human creation with an obsession of ridding the world of non-believers.

            For example:

            At the end of the tribulation, apocalypse and Armageddon, the book of Revelation makes it clear that eventually 2/3rds of the human population (all non-believers of course = [b]discrimination[/b]) will be killed in what the religious tolerance website calls “[i]the largest mass extermination of humans in history[/i].” ([url]http://www.religioustolerance.org/rapture.htm[/url]) With nearly 7 billion people on the planet right now that’s 5.25 billion who will be murdered in the ‘End Times.’ ([url]http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2329[/url]) What a sweet God you’ve got there (sarcasm).

          2. Too right! Religion is a man made institution , but also remember we might just find out that what we know as god does exist an permeates all existance and is the foundation for all life, for example people used to think birds flew because of supernatural energy , any lack of understanding of what is leads to malice and lack of foresight , and you might have to eat your words / sleep in the bed you’ve made through closed mindedness. There is always going to be a lot of people who will never see the truth veiled in allegory and it just might turn out that 2/3rds the worlds pop. Just might destroy themselves like fission through their hot temper and if you don’t understand energy or even Einstein’s theory of special relativity then you couldn’t possibly comprehend how your thoughts and deeds make you. You don’t have to head the words of Jesus to figure this one out, gandi, JFK , buddah , Krishna , or Mohammed all gleen the wisdom that if we are to be saved by our intellect alone then no justice would prevale for the feeble minded , and having that in mind ,,, what ever cosmic force that brings you life, also brings life to all. We just don’t fully understand yet, and until then that force will be known as only one’s intellect can facilitate. Which is NO excuse to hurt people..peace

          3. Shane: “Religion is a man made institution , but also remember we might just find out that what we know as god does exist an permeates all existance and is the foundation for all life…”

            You’ve come up with assorted excuses to cover for all the severe lack of evidence but, the one thing you haven’t done is acknowledge that there exists no credible evidence for Jesus.

            As a former Christian, I understand how hard that is but, as some point, one has to make a decision to be honest and respect oneself. I simply couldn’t lie or fool myself any longer. I’m far better off for it and so are all the other former Christians I know.

            Do you have anything to say that’s actually on the topic of this blog? I get the vibe that you’re about to start proselytizing soon.

            “The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by “God” one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying … It does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.”

            – Carl Sagan

          4. Also my god is sweet and nasty, just depends on how you treat him, just like the sun, it can be your best friend or sunburn you to death, which is no reason to curse the sun, but rather just might your lack of understanding , don’t hate the source hate its misrepresentation. Hating what is alive just might bring you death and misery, how is that unjust? Or are you just sunburned and can’t admit it? Love too be loved, hate to be hated, eye for an eye, or can you forgive? Maybe working together as one we can one day stand in the sun without worry , but as long as we are always trying to be on”top” ain’t no humble one dare going to help you or speak on your behalf, one might just remember that when some race of beings shows up to save the meek one day right before all haters die in ablaze o glory from all the damn nukes we got- peace

          5. There exists no valid evidence to support god as “sweet” or “nasty,” as there’s no credible evidence of gods existence.

            We here do not “hate” what does not exist. What we have distaste for and are tired of are people pushing their own faith and euphoria upon us all and shoving it down our throats when theists can’t even fulfill their responsibility of ‘burden of proof’ to back up their claims with valid evidence.

          6. schrodinger’s cat always comes to mind when people talk about burden of proof, and I’m not shoving anything euphoric down anybody’s throat . I enjoy intelligent par- ley. Besides mabye the proof is to far out for you believe anyway like believing a blind man could paint a sunset, you just can’t believe until you see it yourself,,, and that’s ok by me , I wouldn’t believe until I was shown either. But I have seen a blind man paint. And the world ain’t flat but I believe even though I have to trust someone else about the matter since I’ve never been in high orbit above earth. But like many I am still waiting to find out for Myself so I don’t have to be told. I’m sorry but the burden of proof lies only where it is accepted, perhaps that’s why I believe it stands only on the shoulders of the brave, cause people will mock. If you believe , then own it, if you don’t,,, own it. To thine own self be true, nobody can take that away unless you let them- peace

      2. Why is it religious fanatics are so illiterate and sound so crazy? 😡

        1. Ask and ye shall receive :http://www.psmag.com/culture/distrust-powers-anti-atheist-prejudice-37784/
          People sound crazy when they fear( they don’t see a lot of atheists in charity work, but they will take your money! Ask your self how many organizations formed by atheists to benefit the weak and downtrodden ,or ensure that people act right there are to dispell such myths , none in my hometown . 🙁

          1. Then you haven’t really checked, Atheists are the most generous ([url]http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/pellissier20111125[/url]) both on an individual level and by country.

            Perhaps atheists are either afraid to live in your town or maybe they’ve been run out or are afraid to publicly acknowledge they are non-believers.

            Study: Atheists Most Discriminated Minority ([url]http://freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=391[/url])

          2. How much do you know about kiva and their loans? Do they profit on interest payments and reinvest or pocket the money? Charitable organizations give me the heebie jeebies cause often times the actual charitable “work” is not done by the charities themselves but rather by volunteers who blindly believe in the good work they think they are doing or are non trustworthy and enjoy being the knight in shining armor, or they are paid lackeys . I tend to give my monies closer to home to organizations that cater to mentally/physicaly challenged and the homeless. But that’s just my preference, but always open to new ,possitive organizations worthy of word of mouth- peace

  9. For one I do not support the ridiculous claims of any such imagery as you might say:”The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. 
    However ludicrous the idea to you , recent scientific theory surrounding black holes is a cosmic record of every electromagnic goings on in the known universe, a kind of record of all . And while such theories exist , there is no credible evidence as such to date. And if a person where to look at the bible and actually have a desire to understand will easily see that it plainly states that god cannot be tested, found, or seen but evidence of his passing over the enterity of creation would be recognizable to the faithful pursuer. Just like science now says the totatallity of the physical universe is pervaded by more of what can’t tested, found ,or seen  , and it’s omnipresent . Science also states that it’s presence is only known by observing what’s not there among the inadequate substances that are observable but cannot account for the vastness  ( space)of all that is known.
    Now here’s my point , authors of such dribble postulating ridiculous mythology  as absolute fact is ludicrous , especialy in a scientific proven day and age and you won’t hear me pushing such tripe! If I do call me on it ! But don’t speculate on my faith, ask I will glady tell you. 
    I live in the bible belt buckle of America and that should answer any questions about my hometown but not of me. 
     Science not only proves I’m right that we don’t know everything, and that religious mythology is accurate to the degree of alogory and similar notions of scientific discoveries made in the last century, just not defined as such. How is any person faced with such a body of evidence let their faith be let go of ?  Not me! I just refuse to be fooled any longer by perpetuated myths but rather focus on the entirety of reality. It is a reality that religion exist , but so do nuclear bombs, both potentaly deadly or enlightening. Refusing the truth of either is beyond me. There is truth in everything but only the wise learn of it. If I were to have reservations about atheists it is the unmitigated persute to slam one home for truth when it remains a fact that Christians  don’t sacrifice people or animals, are generally nice people who wouldn’t have a desire to harm others unless being harmed , yet satanic and occult practitioners who sacrifice people, and love to harm others get great fanfare in comparasion but the lack of any open debate among atheist I’ve been exposed too. If you know different please say , because your first on the hit list just below Christians and Muslims for such satanic cults ( over 300,000+children are reported missing each year the USA alone, you would think religious and non religious people alike would find this more of pressing matter than debate over who is right in their search for wisdom)  perhaps it’s safer to ridicule the meek instead of uniting efforts to rid the world of sadists anywhere and everywhere . I know it makes me upset to talk so, I was raped as a teenager by a satanic cultist and Christians were and are the safest people to be around in my little piece of the world, yet even so my gaurd is up for wolves in sheeps clothing . So please don’t ridicule me in my faith it’s probly been tested enough. Head my words with kindness and forgiveness as I do the same for you . I wish nothing more forthan peace among all peoples , except the majority of those same people who are nothing short of animals and seek after no truth but their own and subject others too it for sadistic reasons and self gratification or to  gratify and appease their god. Being our brothers keeper is our only shot at ridding the world of a lack of understanding of truth, not myth. Sharing ideas in a forum such as this one helps the cause,,  the idea of presented plainly in the Christian bible( be your brothers keeper, do not forsake your fellow man) good ideas to be followed despite the myth and worthy of putting faith in if you ask me.- peace

    1. Say what?

      You’d think people who believed so strongly that they are correct would actually know how to communicate effectively.

      :s

      1. Are you talking about me? Suggestions for effective communication are gladly welcome.but if you just want to criticize you aren’t any help but just hurtful .effective communication takes at least two. But if you are talking too me it might be a hopeless cause, depending Your point of view. Cause plenty of people understand me on a daily basis , even if they don’t agree . Are you willing to explain to me how to understand your criticizim?

  10. Hi, peter. I realize you may well be long gone by now, but I’m going to address one of your points for the sake of correctness:

    ” In ancient times it was quite common as it is nowadays to give the same name to a town or (little)village after the name of a valley or a region already in existence , may be for hundreds of years .”

    “Nazareth” was described as a “city” (polis); it supposedly had a synagogue; it was large enough to drum up an angry mob; and it had a precipice that a person could conceivably be thrown off of. If you look up some modern pictures of what is now known as Nazareth, you will see it is a bowl with gently sloping hills to the one side. If this had been the place, the angry mob would have sought to roll him down rather than throw him off.

    “Nazareth” is only mentioned ONCE in the earliest gospel – Mark 1:9. In later passages, he is referred to as “Nazarene”, which most translations have substituted “of Nazareth” for. NOT the same thing. The Nazarenes were a sect of Judaism, so “Jesus the Nazarene” would be the equivalent of “Henry the Quaker” and “George the Methodist.” (per GA Wells, “Did Jesus Exist”, pp. 145-146)

    “Every one may deny it , but they also don’t have any hard evidence of the non-existence of Jesus of Nazareth either “

    Aw, and there you went and got all stoopid on us. What would “hard evidence of non-existence” look like? Like Justin Martyr’s insistence that the Christian Jesus was no different than the pagan gods? Like Theophilus of Antioch explaining that they were called “Christians” because they anointed themselves with holy oil, and explaining “resurrection” in terms of cycles of the moon and the seasons, of a person regaining strength after a prolonged illness, and no mention of the supposed godman? What of Theophilus of Antioch’s History of the World, tracing the lineage of Adam and Eve up to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, without a single mention of any “jesus”? Would it look like Justin Martyr’s “Dialogue with Trypho”:

    “But Christ … If he was born and lived somewhere he is entirely unknown.You follow an empty rumour and make a Christ for yourselves.”– Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 8

    What about Celsus, who, in “On the True Doctrine”, wrote:

    “Christians, needless to say, utterly detest one another; they slander each other constantly with the vilest forms of abuse, and cannot come to any sort of agreement in their teaching.

    Each sect brands its own, fills the head of its own with deceitful nonsense.”

    What of Melito, Bishop of Sardis (late 2nd Century CE), as described by the Rev. Robert Taylor in his “Diegesis”?

    What short of an absolute surrender of all pretence to an existence distinctive and separate from Paganism, is that never-to-be-forgotten, never-to-be-overlooked, and I am sure never-to-be-answered capitulation of their Melito, bishop of Sardis, in which, in an apology delivered to the emperor Marcus Antoninus, in the year 170, he…claims the patronage of the emperor for the Christian religion, which he calls “our philosophy,” “on account of its high antiquity, as having been imported from countries lying beyond the limits of the Roman empire, in the reign of his ancestor Augustus, who had found its importation ominous of good fortune to his government.”An absolute demonstration this, that Christianity did NOT originate in Judea, which was a Roman province, but really was an exotic oriental fable, imported about that time from the barbarians, and mixed up with the infinitely mongrel modifications of Roman piety, till it outgrew the vigour of the stock on which it had been engrafted, and so came to give its own character entirely to the whole system. (p. 249)

    If none of the above is enough to qualify as “hard evidence of the non-existence of Jesus of Nazareth,” then what, pray tell, could possible be? Look, if you want to believe because you *like* believing, nobody’s going to criticize you for that. That’s fine – that’s your right. But saying that your liking it somehow translates into demonstrable, objective proof?? That’s going just a BIT too far.

  11. Why did the cult of christianty become the largest religion in the world. How about the ‘snow ball effect” with a whole lot of luck. Certain unnamed Jews in the first century CE came up with a different idea about what the messiah should be like. The traditional war-like one apparently wasn’t coming so they tweaked the messiah notion a little to see if any fools would be interested. Well now, this new idea attracted a few Jews tired of waiting for the war-like messiah and certain literate Jews figured that they could get this new belief going. And guess what? It seemed to work. Some of the illiterate Jews thought it was a pretty good idea, and this cult slowly grew amongst the Jews. Then all kinds of different off-shoots began to develop concerning the cult. Were gentiles allowed in? Was circumsion still mandatory? What about the women? Kosher etc. Wow, this new thing is really growing, and thanks to the efficient ways of communicating and travelling in the Roman world this cult grew and grew until, by Jove, the emperor even said “Yes, this is the true religion” Wow, what a lucky break! Of course, by this time all the Jews that started the myths and knew that they were myths were long dead. So now almost everyone who was serious about this religion really believed the stories even if the stories were constantly changing. Jesus, Christ, or whatever one wants to call him certainly did not exist! He was a made-up figure just as all of the other messiahs were. It just so happened that with a hard-core group of followers and with the extremely good luck of living during the Roman Empire this low-shelf cult became a powerful and destructive religion.

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