Ignorant Atheists & Ignorant Christians – Who Needs ‘Em?

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An interesting piece, debunking the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth is making the rounds, to be embraced by atheists.  These are the same people who criticize the religious right for embracing the Flintstone view of creation.  They dislike anyone who isn’t on board with their version of climate change. True believers, unless they are ‘fan’ based with something like sports, opera, or even Star Trek are terrifying. It doesn’t matter which side of an argument a true believer is on, they are still frightening.  A true believer refuses to listen to reason.  They rarely will allow a differing opinion or even consider entertaining the possibility that they might be wrong about something.  It just isn’t possible.

In order to be a true believer, one must pick and choose, ignore salient facts, and generally staple, fold, and mutilate in order to prove a point.  The argument may be circular, based on dubious information, and may become vicious when they are presented with documented facts that are contrary to their beliefs.  They have their sacred cows who must not be compromised.

The worst of the worst when it comes to true believers are (in no real order):

  • Christian Reconstruction – Right
  • Randians
  • Atheists fundamentalists
  • Bill Gothard’s ATI
  • Climate change deniers
  • Climate change advocates
  • Animal rights
  • Environmentalists
  • Militias/Sovereign Citizens/Oath Keepers
  • Tea Party Patriots
  • Code Pink pacifists
  • Religious fundamentalists of all ilks
  • Skeptics & Debunkers

Political activists are not true believers.  They are simply activists.  Activists are not true believers.  They are often paid for their activism, and can listen to reason.  A true believer, if the cause is dangerous enough, can be deadly.  Some of the worst non-religious true-believers are skeptics.  Not only that, they engulf the hard-core bully true believer religion of professional atheists.  Not normal people who are atheists.  They’re nice people.  These individuals are something entirely different.  They are as rude, crude, and vile as those who attack from the far, tea party right.  They are also extremely well organized.  Case in point is a recent article on Alternet by Valerie Tarico.   She wrote.  Her work has been disseminated by other sources, taken up as pure gospel (truth).  Never mind that her “facts” are a total mess.  There were over a thousand comments, many by the same group of people.  Anyone who disagreed with the author is slammed as a fool.  In order to criticize and get away from the true believers of atheism, she must be criticized elsewhere.

“…Some of her claims are unsurprising – which other messianic claimants in the Judaism of this period are mentioned by non-Jewish historians? And some are bogus – she claims that the story gets more and more detailed as time goes on, but what she points to are mythical additions such as the virgin birth, which indicates (against Carrier) that Jesus appears in the relevant sources to be a historical figure being mythologized, rather than the reverse….”

As a historian I find her ‘work’ to be a joke.

James F. McGarth debunks the debunkers.  A professor of literature, including science fiction, he made note of a interesting chart debunking atheists claims.

The Musings of Tom Verenna
The Musings of Tom Verenna

Now – this is the fact checking of the chart:

Exploring Our Matrix
Exploring Our Matrix

As Tom Verenna wrote, this is exactly why Christians and those who aren’t skeptical debunkers don’t take the hard core true believing atheists seriously.  They can’t get their facts straight.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 12.05.47 AMThere is nothing I enjoy more than debunking revisionist debunkers who think they have a grasp on history, and make fools of themselves. My favorite target is conservative and godly scholar David Barton who is a drooling idiot when he comes to manipulating and slithering through American history. Unfortunately, I put this article right up there with the works of Barton. Frankly, I’d love to see a debate between the author and Barton. I’d pay money to watch it, and bring the popcorn. It would be that entertaining.

“…As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references – nothing….”

Can anyone be this abjectly ignorant of Roman history? One of my pet peeves with people who mangle religious history on the far right is their inability to put it into historical and sociological context of the era. Where do I start here?

  • 1. Judea was an occupied nation, controlled by Rome. Granted, the Romans were anal when it came to record keeping, but there was no such thing as birth certificates, death certificates, and there was NO Roman trial. Some Roman based trial transcripts still exist, but they were Roman in a Roman court. Jesus of Nazareth was NOT tried in a Roman court.
  • 2. Jesus of Nazareth died c. 33AD or so. If you read your ancient history, there was a little event, about 33 or so years later that resulted in Titus destroying Jerusalem, and the temple, where records would have been kept. You might want to check your history on this one. Anyone who is remotely familiar with doing genealogy knows that, until ‘modern’ history, records were kept in courthouses, etc. and were subject to fire. An entire city, where the records of the era were kept, was burned. Get it? Of course that was no excuse. I gather if you want a miracle, we could find a computer disk or something with said records.
  • 3. Very few histories of the Jewish people exist from that time frame, simply because of the above. One that does, Josephus, mentions Jesus of Nazareth, but you are discounting him, because he was Jewish. If you know your history, Josephus basically betrayed his people, and became something of a Roman. His history was written to appease the Romans.
  • 4. We’re talking 2000 years ago. Even the great library of Alexandria was destroyed, but, no one debates the legendary existence of various and sundry books within it. Do you comprehend the movement of history and the fact that records disappear with age? Do you even comprehend a little thing called the so-called ‘Dark Ages’ when the vast majority of the written word and records of the former Roman Empire literally died?
  • 5. Why did the tales of Jesus of Nazareth survive the sack of Jerusalem, the collapse of Roman, the Dark Ages, the destruction of the great library of Alexandria, and two thousand years of attrition?
  • 6. The argument that the remaining centers of learning, the monasteries and churches did not pick and choose which manuscripts and books they wanted to survive. Quite remarkably, they weren’t into censorship the way the far religious right is today. They basically saved and copied anything they could get their hands on. They did not pick and choose – they treasured learning so much they saved everything they could possibly save. Books and learning were treasured.

The following is from a series of comments/replies I had with a true believer.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 12.07.12 AMQuite frankly, I don’t care what you choose or don’t choose to believe. If you want to debunk the historical authenticity of Jesus of Nazareth, have at it. But, do so from a base of historic and sociological context of the day and age. You don’t help your argument by discussing the fact that there are no birth or death certificates to prove the man did or did not exist. Fact is, birth and death certificates are a fairly recent invention. For the most part, if you are familiar with genealogical research, and obviously you aren’t, you know that most records, which managed to survive, in the western world, did so via church and parish records. After about the middle of the 1600s we can find decent genealogical records in the UK. Records in the southern states can be sketchy because of the Civil War. Records in certain parts of Europe are also difficult to find, at times, due to two world wars.

Try another argument, please. You can do so from a philosophical stand point. You can argue from a religious point of view. It’s like saying Hannibal did not cross the Alps with elephants because Rome sacked Carthage and burned all of their records.

I’m discussing the fact that the most important library of the ancient world was destroyed by fire. We will lever know what all was lost in it. Also the fact that the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by fire would have destroyed any records.

I think it is a point worth making. Why did the so-called undocumented tales of someone who never existed survive well into the Dark Ages and beyond if there was not some basis in fact? Odysseus existed. Homer existed. I suspect Achilles also was based on a flesh and blood human.

I happen to think that most legendary ‘characters’ were based on some sort of fact. I will put money on Gilgamesh having existed. I suspect the same is true of Beowulf. There is nothing wrong with a person being an atheist and not believing that Jesus of Nazareth was the son of God. No big deal. But, to blindly state that he did not exist, and use completely false and circular logic to attempt to prove a point is as pointless as trying to prove the point.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 12.06.40 AMThere is nothing more fun than delving into ancient history and archaeology. I’ve been doing so since I was maybe 12 years old. One thing I’ve learned is to never, ever, ever discount a legend until you can prove, beyond a point, that it is fiction. Merlin was a Welsh prince who left a remarkable body of poetry, which, unfortunately, has never been translated into English. Arthur was a very real, historical person.

For nearly 2000 years, it was thought that the Trojan was was fiction – legend, right? Why is it so easy to accept the oral traditions of a blind poet who was probably female, than it is to even possibly consider the written traditions concerning Jesus of Nazareth.

It dawned on me that I look at things as a historian and when dealing with a discussion like this I tend to flash back as a Medievalist, which was my specialty, along with post Roman Britain. It isn’t a fallacy. I find it rather fascinating. Why did the story of Jesus of Nazareth survive what was basically the destruction of much of the west’s knowledge?

The obvious answer is the fact that what remained of books, writing, learning, and science (in the west) was salvaged via the monastic and clerical system. You can point to this and suggest that there was an agenda, which there obviously was. But – they preserved anything they could.

I don’t get the problem people have with ‘inconsistencies’. We’re talking 2000 years ago. There are any number of inconsistencies. It’s the nature of the beast. If you tried documenting the life of John Smith from Any of the 13 Colonies in 1776, good luck. The family might have a Bible with a name inscribed, along with birth, death, marriage, and children. That’s it. While the DAR takes this is ‘primary source’, they like something else to back it up, but will allow it for documentation. What if you don’t find John Smith in the head of household 1790 census? Does that indicate he never existed?

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 12.01.38 AMFrankly, i don’t care what a person believes. I do expect intellectual honesty. Just because you have an agenda is no reason to suspend logic and reason. Classical scholar Michael Grant says that no serious historian will even consider mentioning that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist.

You want non- Jewish sources, no Christian – what about Tacitus? “…Roman historian Tacitus referred to Christus and his execution by Pontius Pilate in his Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44. The very negative tone of Tacitus’ comments on Christians make the passage extremely unlikely to have been forged by a Christian scribe and the Tacitus reference is now widely accepted as an independent confirmation of Christ’s crucifixion….”

According to Michael Grant: “…If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus’ existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned…”

In fact, aside from certain sources mentioned in this article, the Jesus of Nazareth as myth has very little scholarly support.

The greatest proof that maybe atheism isn’t all it cracked up to be is C. S. Lewis.

A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere…” C. S. LewisScreen Shot 2014-09-01 at 12.12.19 AM

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