Hello Fellow Atheists: So here's a question. It's been bothering me for some time now and I just want to get your perspectives. When I first became a believer I was handed the book "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. I read it and at the time it made sense to me. I didn't question it much at the time. Now that I am an Atheist I'm curious what others think about it. There are only three options given in this book. Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the true son of God. Of course I know some of you believe that he never existed at all, (I do not). So I want to explore this further. 

Which is it? 


Is it none of the above?

Why? (back yourself up with evidence)...

I hope this discussion can be educational in nature for those of us who are still learning. Thanks!

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RE: "Forgive my mouthiness today." - it's an acquired taste, but you get used to it --

Hey, I said I was getting used to it - what more can you ask for?

I would say a liar and a lunatic. However, I know most would say that being a lunatic would entail that you don't know you are lying. However, I would say that the lunacy came after the lies. There were quite a few people claiming to be messiahs at the time (look up Apollonius of Tyana or Arthrongs). Is it possible that they were all children of God? So they were either all right or wrong. I think that they either believed what they were preaching/claiming (but not right) or they were using the previous beliefs of people to gain some sort of power (Arthrongs led men into battle, power is necessary to do that). It's tough to get into the mind of these ancient people due to lack of their own writing and first hand evidence. I think that it is plausible that a flesh and blood man named Jesus was walking around claiming to be the messiah. There are enough second hand accounts for me to think so (and so many other also recorded messiahs during the 1st - 5 centuries) there is some debate as to whether he existed as a human claiming divinity, but I would go with he existed.

Can it be lying if you don't know it's wrong?

Lying involves intent to deceive.

Now one could repeat a lie one heard, because one believed it, but that does not make that person a liar.

I think he was none of the above - at least not fully.  I think he was religious in his own way, which requires a certain amount of intellectual dishonesty, and although I often call theists bald-faced liars I actually believe they have a behavioral disorder which makes 'truth' a very ambigous concept for them.  In this way, they are not truly liars nor truly crazy - but a sort of mix of the two.

Even the bible doesn't quote him as making an explicit messiah claim.  I think he got caught up in the zeitgeist of his time, making vague references to end time prophecies while surrounded by a culture desperate for a messiah.  My best guess is that if he really did have a trial/crucifixion as described, he likely really wanted to renege on all that was being claimed on his behalf but couldn't see any way of coming clean without becoming the scourge of the only community he had ever known.  His best shot was hoping there really was a god that wanted him to be a martyr.

It's really hard to call him a liar, because any who ever quoted him in the New Testament, wrote at the earliest, forty years after he allegedly ever lived, and it's highly unlikely that those four people, the last of whom wrote a full hundred years after, ever actually knew him or had any idea what he might have really said.

The same goes for the lunatic accusation - you can't call a man a lunatic if you don't know what he said, and we don't, so Alex, I guess we'll have to go with, What is none of the above?


As in, a real guy a legend got built up around.  You can see the process happening if you read the gospels in the order they were written (Mark Matthew/Luke, John).  (I've never seen a solid-seeming claim for whether Matthew or Luke was written earlier than the other.)  In Mark, Jesus was portrayed as thinking he was the Messiah (but shhhhh don't tell anyone, apostles!).  There were references to Son of God but the Hebrews used that phrase to refer to Moses and the entire nation of Israel.  In later gospels there are more and more miracles added.  It took this stuff getting into the hands of Greeks before it became meaning Jesus was like Herakles (another son of a god), thus Matthew and Luke, and John before it became clear that Jesus *was* God.

Had John not been written and the Johannine branch of Xianity not gotten started, perhaps the whole thing would be rather different today.

There is no real historical evidence for his existence during the time he lived.   But, assuming hypothetically he was a real person and I had $100 to bet, I'd put $75 on "well-intentioned but crazy," $24.99 on "con man," and one penny on "real son of God."  You want me to back it up with evidence...sorry.


Ethan - your link sound quite similar to the accumulated evidence for god:

Scientific evidence for God's existence

The following is a compilation of all scientific evidence for the existence of a god.

Assuming you're talking to me, I'm not clear as to what you mean, where does whose name come from?

Yup, Timmy wrote it while in Rome.

So do you believe that Timothy was referring to himself in the third person, along with planning to venture to meet himself, in Hebrews 13:23?

"I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you."

That line sounds like it was written either by Paul or someone of Timothy's approximate rank in the early cult.


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