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? 

Or

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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@Nelson, Thank you for your response. So you would say that Jesus was a man who believed what he taught which makes sense to me...but I have a follow up question for you: Why do you believe he of all people has become a deity as opposed to merely a man who taught? For example I know all about the Council of Nicea, which is basically where his deity was decided and all of that but how is it that the Christian doctrine has been able to squeeze him into having fulfilled so many prophecies within the Old Testament? There were many teachers in his day and have been prior to and since then....why him?

Your best post to date, Nelson!

 

Hi Belle

Can I just ask you why you believe he really existed?

@Belle
I think he would not say that Jesus was anything unless he had no doubt that the Gospels are true records of things that actually happened -- and yet he has plenty of doubt.

Why did Jesus (either a real person or a imagined character), and not someone else, rise to proeminence? The answer may well be "for casual factors at casually appropriate moments". Do you know about chaos theory? Have you heard about the butterfly effect? That's a way to explain lots of things, including "why did it rain today" or "why did Katrina strike". Consider James Gleick's book about Chaos Theory.

This "why him" discussion may be quite absurd. To see how, consider: why did John Frumm (and not Frank Miles, or Benny Mack, or anyone else) become a deity?

See:http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=Jel5b...

Because the story of his life, Belle, was written with those prophecies in mind, not that he fulfilled them, but that his biographers did in the telling of his story.

For example, the temple sheep, that were born and raised for the sole purpose of sacrifice, were raised in a special room in a stone tower, called a Migdala, by temple priests in Bethlehem, and since Yeshua was intended by god to be a sacrifice to himself (try and figure THAT one out!) it was important that, like the sacrificial sheep, who were wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger for the first few hours of their lives to make sure they didn't injure themselves before they gained enough strength to walk well, so it was prophesied that the Jewish messiah would be born there. There is no record, and the Romans were excellent record keepers, of a Roman census that required Jewish men to go to the city of their birth to be counted, but since it was important for Yeshua to be born in Bethlehem, his biographers made up the story about the census, so there would be a reason why he would be born there, then return to Nazareth.

@Angela: A man named Jesus existed. Several did actually. It was a common name (as was Mary and Joseph). Most scholars would agree. His existence is pretty solid. I don't know of any compelling evidence otherwise, but to uncover why he has become a man-made deity - that is what I'm (along with all of you) exploring. I'm liking the hippie hypothesis, lol.

 

Hi Belle

 

 

"Most scholars would agree. His existence is pretty solid."

Really - I wasnt aware of that.

Which scholars would those be, Belle?

@Ricardo: I have heard of the butterfly effect and it's fascinating to me. I think the simpler an explanation the more likely plausible. One of the reasons I believed was because it made sense that he fulfilled the prophesies of the OT, therefore he must the the Messiah. It seemed pretty cut and dry when my faith was blind. But when considering the lack of evidence to support the hocus pocus parts of the Bible, the problem (imo) becomes "do you throw out the baby with the bathwater?" - a resounding NO. Therefore: I now feel like I'm going through reverse seminary just to unwind the mess and sort out what seems to me like it should be a very simple explanation if it carries any weight at all. The resources given and suggested thus far are appreciated.

So question Ricardo, how is it that the butterfly effect ties in with Jesus becoming a man made deity? Thanks for your insights.

@Belle:The butterfly effect ties in with the question you posed: "Why do you believe he of all people has become a deity as opposed to merely a man who taught?" Clearing that up a bit before proceding: since you are an atheist you must mean "he of all people has become perceived as a deity". 

Anyway, chaos theory says that there are some systems (chaotic systems) in which no change in parameters is too small not to influence the outcome in a great manner.. Small things have great effects. So, if human nature is chaotic (mathematically speaking it most certainly is) then there's no point in asking why X (rather than Y) was believed to be a deity. It just was. The flap of a butterfly wing may be as important to explain as anything else.

Life is chaotic. Try to answer "Why did Arnold Schwarznegger become Governor of California". It may be even more pointless if we are talking about a character in fiction "Why did Frodo and not any other hobbit get picked to carry the ring?"

So, Belle, the Butterfly effect ties in with any question similar to the one you posed initially, "Why do you believe he of all people has become (perceived as) a deity as opposed to merely a man who taught?"  The answer is "Butterfly effect".

"Why did Katrina strike South Florida (of all places) on August 25, 2005 (of all dates)?" The answer is, likewise, "Butterfly effect".

Yes Ricardo but the questions is intrinsically deeper than that IMO because we have centuries worth of ancient texts that have been crammed into a world view and Jesus is the main character. There are multi-faceted dynamics working at the same time which makes the chaos theory a little bit of a stretch in an of itself. What do you think? Hope that makes sense without writing paragraphs.

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