I am really sorry if this has been posted before.
If you knew me in person, you would know I love getting into discussions with people about religion. One of the questions that seems to keep coming into the discussion loop is Jesus.
So I was at a social gathering the other night at a restaurant and I dropped my silverware and out of habit I said "Jesus Christ!" And a random girl that was a friend of a friend said, "Don't use the Lords name in vain."
So obviously we got into a debate.
I brought up the point in the discussion that Jesus never existed. Well everyone looked at me like i was off the wall insane...
At that point the discussion just turned into incoherent ramblings and Grrrr... So frustrating that people base their whole life on hearsay! Simply dumbfounding!!!
Help me feel better... seriously.
Thank you, I understand your position better now. And I can find at least some common ground now.
I don't think the position is reasonable that we shouldn't expect there to be evidence in contemporary Roman writing. What's more Christian clergy seemed to agree and made their point stick by falsifying history and insert passages in Tacitus and Josephus.
The evidence for censorship you are talking about is by the Christian orthodoxy trying to wipe out the traces of the earliest religious competiton (there hasn't been any "the Jesus movement" that spread out and diversified, instead the tree is chronically reversed) out of which they rose as victorious. Not evidence for wiping out traces of Roman or Jewish writings. By the time they had access to those we have now evidence they did the exact opposite.
So there is not a lack of evidence, there is actually no evidence at all that withstands close scrutiny. So you're basically left with tradition and that's that. Maybe an enlightened person could throw out all the supernatural stuff and keep what's left, but on what basis this is justifiable exactly I wouldn't know.
Nevertheless I am not saying that the mythology isn't rich and that the mythological Christ figure wasn't all important for early Christian sects and we shouldn't explore answers to what exactly the roots of Christianity are. Even if we can trace the genesis of the Christ mythology back to an epileptic insult of Paul on his way to work, this doesn't diminish the importance of that research in any way. But you don't have to uphold a false premise, namely there must have been a kernel of truth to this Jesus myth in order for it to be meaningful. No, there isn't a kernel of truth to the stories of Robin Hood and Rome wouldn't crumble if no Romulus or Remus ever sucked on canine-titties, but this doesn't make the mythology any less valuable.
Neither does the absence of a historical Jesus devalue in any way the real history of Christianity in all facets and how it impacted world history: art, science, philosophy and so on.
So there we basically agree, I think.
I am not concerned here with how Christians might cope with or react to the absence of any historical Christ that's their business entirely. I am only interested as to whether this or other Christ figure existed or not and if so, what can we say about him with any confidence. It is misleading to talk about a "scientific fact" here we shouldn't question precisely because there is no evidence, we are talking about applying scientific methodology to historical research. And you are right there are limitations to what can be done in historical sciences, you can't do repeatable experiments. What you can do is increase confidence in certain theories about what happened by using evidence and (scientifically validated) background knowledge. In this sense there is a difference in methods, a difference in levels of certainty, but not in basic scientific methodology.
If you don't have any evidence and your background knowledge does not allow you to make any conclusions one way or the other, you have nothing. In this case I maintain our background knowledge of the period favors the existence of historical evidence. (This would then be the main point of contention.) And since there is none the balance swings in the direction of there being no historical Jesus figure.
I don't understand what you want to say with your Golden Rule argument. You can trace back the Golden Rule in different shapes and forms to earliest written history. There are copious amounts of evidence all over the world. You can't deny it, you can only turn a blind eye to it. But that is the complete opposite in the case of a historical Jesus where there is no evidence and where you are not only perfectly in your right, but the only sensible thing to do is to deny it for the reasons I gave.
I agree completely. I could say that Adolf Hitler didn't exist, but there seems to be enough evidence to suggest he did (even though I have viewed none of it first hand).
If the gospel writers made the whole story up, then they made his sayings up also. The story surely circulated for years (about 30) before anyone wrote it down. The timeframe that it is originally written in is ok for the story of the life of Jesus, as many famous people in antiquity were written of 30, 50, even 70 years after their death. However, the resurrection is a different story.
If Jesus had really rose from the dead, it would have been written of spontaneously - in real time. Crowds numbering thousands would have followed him wherever he went. His resurrection would have been undeniable to the Jewish leadership - there wouldn't be a discussion about the empty tomb, as Jesus would be walking among the people. Even enemies like the Romans would fall down and worship him. And they would have written all about it.
Was Jesus a real man? There isn't any reason to think he wasn't.
Did Jesus rise from the dead? Almost certainly not. The gospels provide the only story, and it is riddled with inaccuracies.
Also... why do people always say this line? "I believe he existed but I don't think he did all those magic tricks..." GRRRRR what do you base it on? The bible?
I can go for that. Jesus said many worthy things.
But the resurrection? No way.
I dont see why it matters if he existed or not.
What if I told about a friend of my parents who is named Bob. Bob is awesome, he can defy gravity, walk on water, and he even went to a grave yard and broght back someone that was dead. Unfortunately Bob died right before I was born. But every morning I talk to him as if he were still here. He helps me cope and sometimes he even talks to me and tells me what to do.
I would be locked up in a psych unit for schitzophrenia.
So my point is that even if he did exist and start a religion, it doesn't make him god, and it doesn'mean that there were actual miracles that took place.
Clarification- meant miracle in the modern fundamentalist christian sense. Meaning that it can be explained by defying the laws of nature through supernatural means.
And since I didnt answer the original question. I think its possible that he existed as a man but there is no real proof. But that the events of his life are made up. More like a modern day cult leader. Possibly a con artist.