At the invitation of Professor Robert, I'm starting a new thread.

Dr Bob, you are continually trying to draw clear distinctions between Catholicism and other (especially Christian) religions. I grant that Catholics are (a little) different, but, as they still fundamentally believe in the magic, invisible daddy in the sky, there is really NO difference.

Two points: The Bible (whether or not you take it literally) is the foundation of your (and all Christian) religions. A cursory examination of the Bible reveals a SMALL handful of usable tenets along with pages and chapters FULL of utter nonsense. The fact that any religion would base itself upon such a holey book, makes that religion as creditable as Joseph's golden tablets from God which he, unfortunately, misplaced.

God: I will be heartily disagreed with here, but I find the idea of God to be completely understandable. Here we have, at the dawn of civilization, various groups of totally ignorant people trying to put words, meanings, and causes to all manner of things which they couldn't possible understand. Combine this with a clever but ruthless set who have come to realize that, if they ascribed words, meanings, and causes to the world around them, people would actually BELIEVE them (as they no other source of information). These priests could and did use this power to govern the people - insisting that everyone in the tribe bow before them.

Then came the age of knowledge. We could start to actually understand all these things that the priests had, up till then, kept to themselves. As the power base for all civilized people rested with these priests, they were (and, of course, still are) wildly defensive of their position.

There is, however, NO CONCEIVABLE REASON for any educated person to believe in the supernatural - aside from these historic pressures.,

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Fantastic, Kris!  There should be a formula for that!

LOL.  Something like that I suppose!

Honestly, one of the things about Catholics is that we have a very strong theology of Church, as people of God.  So the "we" language is authentic within our faith or culture, but I certainly acknowledge @KrisFeenstra's point.  Feel free to substitute "that Bob guy" every time I say "we" if you like!

pseudepigriphal - What an excellent word.  I don't think I can reasonably use it ina sentence at work today at the rehab facility where I work, but I simply must try to work it in a conversation sometime soon.  I'm not even being sarcastic.  

All holy books are pseudepigriphal - otherwise known as codswallop, translated how many times, by how many different men???? All retro fitted to previous myths, dates changed to fit pagan holidays, and then taught as 'The Truth'.

In some ways you can think of Catholicism the way you think of a University - 

Nooo - if anybody did that, we would be 500 years behind, still sacrificing daughters, still stoning people to death, cutting off hands, playing with snakes. You will find that some cults still do all of this. So by what criteria do we ditch some things in the bible, and then not others?

Do you believe Noah's Ark really happened?

Do you believe in the virgin birth?

Actually, I don't know why I bother asking any question of Robert, he won't answer, or can't :).

Pseudepigraphal (hat's an "a" after the "gr" though I am not dinging anyone here but Professor Robert whom you've all copied on it--the spell checker doesn't like it either way) comes from pseudo and epigraph (that's how I spotted the spelling goof), and simply means the work wasn't written by the person the work claims to be written by.  Many works don't contain a claim of authorship and may be Bravo Sierra from one end to the other (as Suzanne correctly thinks) but aren't pseudepigraphal.

None of the gospels names the person who wrote it (there's no "Hi I am Matthew let me tell you about Jesus" in Matthew, for instance--and the title is not part of the actual text of the biblical book), so they are not pseudepigraphal.  Some of the letters from Paul that got into the bible are pseudepigraphal as there is little doubt in the minds of any well-versed biblical scholar who isn't a raving fundie that Paul did not in fact write them; I am thinking in particular of 1&2 Timothy and Titus, which reference church organizational structures that didn't exist until the 2nd century CE.  There are other letters where there is some doubt that Paul wrote them, so the scholars argue about it (2 Thessalonians, Ephesians and Colossians).  The latter two scholars tend to lean away from Paul being the author; 2 Thessalonians the split seems to be about 50-50.  Some of the other letters from other authors are likely pseudepigraphal too; I just don't have the list handy.

By the way one of the most famous pseudepigraphal works is 3 Corinthians, which was obvious enough of a fake not to get included in the Bible.

Some names are very common; if someone writes "I am John and this is what I saw" he could be entirely honest while not being the John--since he didn't say "I am John and this is what I saw when Jesus and I where gallivanting around Galilee and Judea."  (Not that the Gospel of John makes any claim as to the name of its author; I am making up an example to illustrate my point here.)  This may be what happened in the case of James; the James who wrote the letter might not be the James believed to be the brother of Jesus.

The book of Hebrews is for some reason widely attributed to Paul... but it does not say in its own text that it's from Paul, and it doesn't match his style.

Ironically if you look at the works that really were written by Paul, he wasn't as anti-semitic and misogynistic as we atheists like to claim he was; the nastiest of those statements are in pseudepigrapha and books that don't have his name in them.  That does not let Christianity and the early church off the hook though, as they chose to include the books with those sentiments in them.

I've confessed earlier that I'm not particularly interested in the Bible, but I do have a simple question (which may have been answered, but which I didn't see or possibly didn't understand). Was Jesus known in his own time?" I would think that someone raising the dead and performing other miracles would get quite a lot of "press". Basically, is there ANY tie between Jesus and any documentation or witnesses in his time? As virtually ALL of Jesus' attributes (from virgin birth to crucifixion [oops - to Resurrection - can't forget that with Easter coming up.]) were also ascribed to others prior to Jesus. What are the chances that Jesus never actually existed?

Good question, Mike.  The Romans recorded practically everything that moved, yet not a word about Jesus - there are scattered pieces of script that appear a generation or two after he supposedly lived, although many of these are disputable.  There is certainly nothing that resembles 'proof" as we use the term, that he did exist at all.


According to the story, Jesus was a carpenter - He could have even made a table and scratched his name into it.

But no - Nothing.


There is no contemporary Roman record of any of the events in the bible that would surely (if they had happened) would have caught people's attention, such as the aftermath of his death on the cross as recorded in the gospels (the ground opening up, a zombie apocalypse, etc.)

I don't think the Romans went around and recorded the name of every person living in Judea and Galilee either, though, so there is room for some semi-anonymous and perfectly ordinary carpenter to attract a small cult following preaching Jewish apocalypticism (the end times being near), then getting in trouble with the law and being executed.  Which I think is most likely what actually happened, but the evidence for even that much comes out of careful critical study of the bible--you can learn things even from studying untrue narratives--and is largely inferential.   I said this is what I think happened but in my thoroughly non-expert opinion I am only about 60-75 percent confident of it.

me - " What are the chances that Jesus never actually existed?"

SteveInCO - "about 60-75 percent confident of it"

Wow. Never expected an actual number. Thanks.

Well it's worth what you paid for it; I am NOT an expert, and I know this is just my opinion.

I think a second hang up you seem to have is with "the supernatural", whatever that is.  I think the word comes from modern new-age neopaganism.    You seem to want to associate Christendom with that sort of animistic druidism (magic and faeries and whatnot), even though Christendom has joined you in condemning such nonsense from its very beginning (back when such nonsense was actually mainstream).

  Professor. Robert I find this comment very interesting. Is your belief not based on a supernatural being, does your church not perform or practise certain rituals? What is the difference between your catholic god and the god the Xhosa or any other culture belief in, what is the difference between your rosary and the ritual beads of the traditional African? What is the difference between praying to god through Mary or the holy spirit in comparrison to the Xhosa praying to his Ansectors spirit to interses between him and the uThixo (Creator) The common denominator is that you both belief that what you belief is the truth, that the entity you belief in has the ultimate say in your life, live or die, be punished or blessed, both belief that their god is real and has a real influence in their lives. And the civilized majority would belief that the Xhosa god is a god created from myth.


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