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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Belle, multi-faceted dynamics working at the same time is exactly what Chaos Theory talks about. That is exactly how one would describe the climate system,  human history and, some would even say, human thought itself. The fact that trends emerge and run through months, years, centuries or millenia doesn't change their chaotic nature.

There are many, many different world views that have Jesus at or near the center, and just as many that don't -- all these world views are, themselves, part of the multi-faceted dynamics you talk about.

@Arch: interesting perspective.

Here's another "interesting perspective" for you, Belle - what do you think of the "Fishers of Men" story in Mark? Rather dramatic, wouldn't you say? Yeshua says, "Come with me, and I will make you fishers of men --" and Peter, and his brother, Andrew from one boat, and the brothers, John and James, from another, both sons of Zebedee, the fisherman, illiterate fishermen all, drop their nets and go off, following this stranger, while poor old Zebedee, now finding himself shorthanded, was stuck with running down to the Home Depot parking lot, in hope of finding a couple of day laborers who knew anything about fishing.

Makes a good story, doesn't it? Dramatic reading. And Matthew, Mark and Luke all swear it happened, although none of the three are listed as being there at the time.

But the Gospel of John is attributed to John, the actual son of Zebedee, and if anyone should know, it should certainly be he, wouldn't you think? Read John - he says he and his brother James were followers of John the Baptist, and that he saw Yeshua walking on the other side of the Jordan River one day, and waded across to chat with him. Yesuha suggested John go with him to the home of a friend and spend the night. John did, and the next morning, they returned to the Jordan, where John picked up his brother James and they became followers of Yeshuah.

Both stories, involving the same person, can not have happened, so which did? And if one part of the NT is not true, what's to keep another part from being equally false, where does it end, and how can you tell? Sometimes it IS better to throw the baby out with the bathwater, especially if it's been in there too long - who needs a wrinkled kid?

@Arch

What the bible does document very well are the stories told by the cult of Jesus.  Although plenty of different stories developed, everyone seemed to agree on the twelve apostles.  Now perhaps 11 guys got together and made the whole thing up, inventing a twelfth apostle who killed himself for betraying the central figure of their story.  Those eleven guys not only invented Jesus, but did so without writing anything down because they weren't actually trying to start a church - uhm, that sounds a lot more complicated than just thinking there was a Jesus character in the mix somewhere.

The number 12  seems to have mystic connotations, and so many ex-gods also appear to count 12 as a magic number of disciples.  Here's Horus, but I gather Mithras also fits that bill.

Sure, and perhaps the 'mystic' value of 12 was just an extra validation for cutting the thirteenth apostle out of the picture.

Love it Strega!

While I agree that many of the elements of the Horus story may well have been regurgitated and applied to Yeshua, some of the Horus elements depicted in the comparison above, have in turn been modified from the original, to fit the Yeshua story.

Actually, Mithra comes closer to paralleling the Yeshua story than Horus.

Yes, actually lots of them co-incide.  This is perhaps broader:-

How about only a few guys getting together and concocting a story? Doesn't it seem a bit of a coincidence that Jacob/Israel had 12 sons, who became the 12 tribes of Israel, that there are 12 signs to the Zodiac, and 12 apostles of Yeshua? Twelve was a religious, mystical number. 72 scholars were chosen to translate the Torah into the Greek Septuagint, 72 is a multiple of 12 - 12 was a very important number then, and it has survived, present in a dozen eggs, a dozen donuts - why not 11? 13?

It's hard to say anything was "documented," unless the person doing the documenting was actually there, and it's hard to find someone who was.

Which guys?  What was their purpose if they weren't planning on starting a religion?  Why didn't they write their 'gospel' from the start to help them keep their stories straight?  Did these guys claim to be some of the twelve apostles, or did they come earlier and manage to indoctrinate 12 apostles, getting them to go around claiming they met Jesus when they never did?

If/when I hear a convincing explanation for the genesis of Christianity from pure fabrication I'll hop right on board.  To date, however, all I've heard are either extremely contrived or rather laughable conjectures.

How about 12 was a great mystic number, just the number of apostles that a mystic of the time would have chosen?

Assuming Jesus existed and he believed he was going to be resurrected to continue his teaching, one has a very simple explanation as to why nothing was ever written down during his life, or even shortly thereafter.  His apostles, being rather shocked by the horror of his execution and failure to Hulk out and defy death, began fabricating the resurrection story we now know, just to buy time as they figured out how they were supposed to proceed.  The rest was simply filled in by later generations because of the lack of contemporary documentation.

Heather, I'm not saying he didn't exist, but Belle has asked if he was a liar or a basket-case, and I'm saying that either conclusion proceeds on the assumption that he did.

I prefer not to base conclusions on assumptions - isn't it better to investigate and amass evidence that he did, before proceeding to such a conclusion? Isn't that the scientific method? I'm simply asking Belle to produce eye-witness testimony - accepting the fact that the witnesses are dead - and examine whether or not we have a case for his existence. I see nothing inappropriate about that.

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