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The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth
Does Easter celebrate a man, a savior, or a myth? Some say Jesus never existed and was a myth created by early Christians.
April 7th, 2012
08:32 PM ET

The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Timothy Freke was flipping through an old academic book when he came across a religious image that some would call obscene.

It was a drawing of a third-century amulet depicting a naked man nailed to a cross. The man was born of a virgin, preached about being “born again” and had risen from the dead after crucifixion, Freke says.

But the name on the amulet wasn’t Jesus. It was a pseudonym for Osiris-Dionysus, a pagan god in ancient Mediterranean culture.  Freke says the amulet was evidence of something that sounds like sacrilege – and some would say it is: that Jesus never existed. He was a myth created by first-century Jews who modeled him after other dying and resurrected pagan gods, says Freke, author of  "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?"

“If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don’t think anyone would be outraged,” says Freke, one of a group of mythicists who say Jesus never existed. “It’s a teaching story. What we’re saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It’s a parable of the spiritual journey.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

On Easter Sunday, millions of Christians worldwide mark the resurrection of Jesus. Though Christians clash over many issues, almost all agree that he existed.

But there is another view of Jesus that’s been emerging, one that strikes at the heart of the Easter story. A number of authors and scholars say Jesus never existed. Such assertions could have been ignored in an earlier age.  But in the age of the Internet and self-publishing, these arguments have gained enough traction that some of the world’s leading New Testament scholars feel compelled to publicly take them on.

Most Jesus deniers are Internet kooks, says Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar who recently released a book devoted to the question called “Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.”

Your comments on Jesus deniers

He says Freke and others who deny Jesus’ existence are conspiracy theorists trying to sell books.

“There are people out there who don’t think the Holocaust happened, there wasn’t a lone JFK assassin and Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.,” Ehrman says. “Among them are people who don’t think Jesus existed.”

Does it matter if Jesus existed?

Some Jesus mythicists say many New Testament scholars are intellectual snobs.

“I don’t think I’m some Internet kook or Holocaust denier,” says Robert Price, a former Baptist pastor who argues in “Deconstructing Jesus” that a historical Jesus probably didn’t exist.

“They say I’m a bitter ex-fundamentalist. It’s pathetic to see this character assassination. That’s what people resort to when they don’t have solid arguments.”

 The debate over Jesus’ existence has led to a curious role reversal. Two of the New Testament scholars who are leading the way arguing for Jesus’ existence have a reputation for attacking, not defending, traditional Christianity.

Ehrman, for example, is an agnostic who has written books that argue that virtually half  of the New Testament is forged. Another defender of Jesus’ existence is John Dominic Crossan, a New Testament scholar who has been called a heretic because his books challenge some traditional Christian teachings.

But as to the existence of Jesus, Crossan says, he’s “certain.”

He says some Jesus deniers may be people who have a problem with Christianity.

“It’s a way of responding to something you don’t like,” Crossan says. “We can’t say that Obama doesn’t exist, but we can say that he’s not an American.  If we’re talking about Obama in the future, there are people who might not only say he wasn’t American, but he didn’t even exist.”

Does it even matter if Jesus existed? Can’t people derive inspiration from his teachings whether he actually walked the Earth?

Crossan says Jesus’ existence matters in the same way that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s existence mattered.

If King never existed, people would say his ideas are lovely, but they could never work in the real world, Crossan says.

It’s the same with an historical Jesus, Crossan writes in his latest book, “The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus.”

“The power of Jesus’ historical life challenges his followers by proving at least one human being could cooperate fully with God. And if one, why not others? If some, why not all?”

The evidence against Jesus’ existence

Those who argue against Jesus’ existence make some of these points:

-The uncanny parallels between pagan stories in the ancient world and the stories of Jesus.

-No credible sources outside the Bible say Jesus existed.

-The Apostle Paul never referred to a historical Jesus.

Price, author of “Deconstructing Jesus,” says the first-century Western world was full of stories of a martyred hero who is called a son of God.

“There are ancient novels from that period where the hero is condemned to the cross and even crucified, but he escapes and survives it,” Price says. “That looks like Jesus.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus often cite two external biblical sources: the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote about Jesus at the end of the first century and the Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote about Jesus at the start of the second century.

But some scholars say Josephus’ passage was tampered with by later Christian authors. And Price says the two historians are not credible on Jesus.

“Josephus and Tacitus – they both thought Hercules was a true figure,” Price says. “Both of them spoke of Hercules as a figure that existed.”

Price concedes that there were plenty of mythical stories that were draped around historical figures like Caesar. But there’s plenty of secular documentation to show Caesar existed.

“Everything we read about Jesus in the gospels conforms to the mythic hero,” Price says. “There’s nothing left over that indicates that he was a real historical figure.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus cite another source: the testimony of the Apostle Paul and Jesus’ early disciples. Paul even writes in one New Testament passage about meeting James, the brother of Jesus.

These early disciples not only believed Jesus was real but were willing to die for him. People don’t die for myths, some biblical scholars say.

They will if the experience is powerful enough, says Richard Carrier, author of “Proving History.”

Carrier says it’s probable that Jesus never really existed and that early Christians experienced a mythic Jesus who came to them through visions and revelations.

Two of the most famous stories in the New Testament – the conversion of Paul and the stoning death of Stephen, one of the first Christian martyrs - show that people seized by religious visions are willing to die, Carrier says.

In both the Paul and Stephen stories, the writers say that they didn’t see an actual Jesus but a heavenly vision of Jesus, Carrier says.

People “can have powerful religious experiences that don’t correspond to reality,” Carrier says.

“The perfect model is Paul himself,” Carrier says. “He never met Jesus. Paul only had an encounter with this heavenly Jesus. Paul is completely converted by this religious experience, but no historical Jesus is needed for that to happen.”

As for the passage where Paul says he met James, Jesus’ brother, Carrier says:

“The problem with that is that all baptized Christians were considered brothers of the Lord.”

The evidence for Jesus’ existence

Some scholars who argue for the existence of Jesus says the New Testament mentions actual people and events that are substantiated by historical documents and archaeological discoveries.

Ehrman, author of “Did Jesus Exist?” scoffed at the notion that the ancient world was full of pagan stories about dying deities that rose again.  Where’s the proof? he asks.

Ehrman devoted an entire section of his book to critiquing Freke, the mythicist and author of “The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?” who says there was an ancient Osiris-Dionysus figure who shares uncanny parallels to Jesus.

He says Freke can’t offer any proof that an ancient Osiris figure was born on December 25, was crucified and rose again. He says Freke is citing 20th- and 19th-century writers who tossed out the same theories.

Ehrman says that when you read ancient stories about mythological figures like Hercules and Osiris, “there’s nothing about them dying and rising again.”

“He doesn’t know much about ancient history,” Ehrman says of Freke. “He’s not a scholar. All he knows is what he’s read in other conspiracy books.”

Craig A. Evans, the author of “Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence,” says the notion that Paul gave his life for a mythical Jesus is absurd.

He says the New Testament clearly shows that Paul was an early enemy of the Christian church who sought to stamp out the burgeoning Jesus movement.

“Don’t you think if you were in Paul’s shoes, you would have quickly discovered that there was no Jesus?” Evans asks.  “If there was no Jesus, then how did the movement start?”

Evans also dismissed the notion that early Christians blended or adopted pagan myths to create their own mythical Jesus. He says the first Christians were Jews who despised everything about pagan culture.

“For a lot of Jewish people, the pagan world was disgusting,” Evans says. “I can’t imagine [the Gospel writer] Matthew making up a story where he is drawing parallels between Jesus’ birth and pagan stories about Zeus having sex with some fair maiden.”

The words of Jesus also offer proof that he actually existed, Evans says.  A vivid personality practically bursts from the pages of the New Testament: He speaks in riddles, talks about camels squeezing through the eye of a needle, weeps openly and even loses his temper.

Evans says he is a man who is undeniably Jewish, a genius who understands his culture but also transcends his tradition with gem-like parables.

“Who but Jesus could tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan?” Evans says. “Where does this bolt of lightning come from? You don’t get this out of an Egyptian myth.”

Those who argue against the existence of Jesus say they aren’t trying to destroy people’s faith.

“I don’t have any desire to upset people,” says Freke. “I do have a passion for the truth. … I don’t think rational people in the 20th century can go down a road just on blind faith.”

Yet Easter was never just about rationale.

The Easter stories about the resurrection are strange: Disciples don’t recognize Jesus as they meet him on the road; he tells someone not to touch him; he  eats fish in another.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a resurrected Jesus suddenly appears to a group of disciples and gives them this cryptic message:

“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

And what did they see: a person, a pagan myth or a savior?

Albert Schweitzer, a 20th-century theologian and missionary, suggested that there will never be one answer to that question.  He said that looking for Jesus in history is like looking down a well: You see only your own reflection.

The “real” Jesus, Schweitzer says, will remain “a stranger and an enigma,” someone who is always ahead of us.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Art • Belief • Books • Church • Culture wars • Easter • Easter • Faith • History • Jesus • Uncategorized • Virgin Mary

soundoff (8,773 Responses)
  1. Pipe-Dreamer

    momoya,,,,,

    From reading some of your posts,,,, I find yours to be relativisms of quaint circularistic conveniences that the writer of such cannot be ambiguously nullified let alone be rightly justified.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • momoya

      Interesting.. I typically don't read your posts because I find them to be a waste of time.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  2. Moses

    I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

    Remember:
    Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car

    April 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  3. Atheist Hunter

    tevii.....i think speaking out against lies against our lord and saviour is worthy of Heaven. Don't You???? Or are you one of those who thinks, "be a good little christian and sit in the corner with your mouth shut and don't publicaly profess what you believe and you'll go to heaven." NOT! Paul didn't keep his mouth shut! Jesus said, "You are of your father the devil."

    April 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • sam

      ".....i think speaking out against lies against our lord and saviour is worthy of Heaven. Don't You????"

      Mmm, nope. Gotta do better than that, tough guy.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Zeus will smite thee!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      SAM....SO YOU BELIEVE THAT SPEAKING OUT AGAINST LIES WILL SEND ME TO HELL. NOPE. TRY AGAIN. DIDN'T SAY IT WOULD GET ME THERE, BUT IT WON'T KEEP ME OUT.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • tevii

      Well if you are going to attack me, i wish you'd reply in the correct location. I'm not sure what it is you are referring to. id be happy to put you in your place if i had a point of reference

      April 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  4. BUBU

    I believe in zombies, so Jesus rising from the dead isn't that far fetched for me. The Walking Dead should do an Easter episode.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • mom2boys

      LOL!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  5. Red

    We're unbelievably confident in ourselves...and it causes a disturbing uncertainty in our potential to get along...

    April 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  6. Bueller?

    No matter what anyone says or does. The answer will come on everyone's death bed. Then we will all know. I am happy to be a believer! If I'm wrong, then whatever happens happens, but if I'm right which I truly believe that I am, then I will live in eternity with God. Seems to be a pretty scary gamble on eternity don't you think?

    April 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • momoya

      Why do you think answers come with death?? That seems a stupid assumption to me.. And what happens if you've been serving the wrong god all this time?!!? Oh no!! What about Islam hell or any of the hells of the other gods?!!?!??!!?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      It's not a gamble. You honestly expect people who don't believe in fairytales to suddenly say, "Oh now I believe it". People who are intelligent and actually think about such things logically and objectively to suddenly denounce logic and reason and start believing in fairytales? It would be like me telling you you should believe in Santa Claus and then you suddenly being converted and saying "Yes! Now I believe in Santa Claus!" Grow a brain dude.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      This is Pascal's Wager, and empty, hollow shell game that is also a famous fallacy.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Bueller?

      A fairy tale is one thing, but your life, your eternal existence? That's another. ...about other religions. Not sure what to say about that really. I have my own convictions and my own beliefs and if that's what gets me through each day and through my life, then so be it.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • anagram_kid

      What one believes is irrelevant; religion is not about belief, but about behavior – what one may, must and is forbidden to say, wear, eat, read…etc. Problems arise when one group decides that their behavior is the ‘correct’ one and forces it upon others. Look no further than the recent contraception debacle.

      If you want to believe that Santa is real that is OK by me. When you tell me that I have to reinforce my roof to support a sleigh, a team of reindeer, a bag of toys and one very large man… then we have a problem.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Cold hard fact

      what's this if I'm wrong? Don't you know? Christainity is not a belief...it's knowledge ..Jesus would have to to KNOW....

      after two thousand years and all the massive humain mistakes mae in his name you had better KNOW!

      Good news!!! :) Jesus provides absolute knowledge of his resurrection ...its in teh indwelling of his Spirit ( Holy Spirit) in you...He comes whn you ask believing....

      If you take some time in prayer ask him for that!!! make it your top priority ...once you have proof... well... :) :) :)

      April 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Sybaris

      "about other religions. Not sure what to say about that really"

      Yep, religion depends on ignorance to perpetuate.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Michael P.

      So I should believe on the off chance that I am wrong? I should believe "just in case?" That is ridiculous and cheapens true belief, don't you think? And you can't make yourself believe somethign you don't. I hate bananas. The smell makes me gag. For about a year I tried to make myself like them. I bought them when I went shopping, tried to eat them, couldn't and they just rotted on the counter. Belief is the same way. Either you believe and have faith or you don't. I do respect that you acknowledged the possibility you are wrong. Not because you are, but because so many act like God's existence is a fact, when it is a belief, and there is a huge difference. As far as gambling on eternity, I am living the way I am because I believe in being a good person. Not because a book tells me to but because I was raised a certain way and have values that do not depend on the Bible for support. If there is a God and he is going to put more stock in why I act a certain way than in how I act, then I'm not sure he's the kind of God I'd want to follow in the first place.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bueller?

      @ Michael P - Interestingly put! Stay away from doze bananas!!!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  7. Todd

    They should call religious people Ostriches not Sheep. Religion is the dumbest thing mankind ever came up with, yeah that's right man created god. So many world problems would be solvable if people would just realize that. Just look at how all organized mythology is used to oppress people. Religion is evil. MAN CREATED GOD! Get over it.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Not as dumb as spending you day arguing against something you don't even believe in.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • momoya

      AH, I think you'd feel differently if 90% of the population was going around professing a belief in the Easter Bunny and had Easter Bunny churches on every corner and in every political office in the nation..

      April 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • sam

      Instead of crosses, there would be giant pairs of ears everywhere...

      April 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • momoya

      Theism and atheism deal with belief and disbelief in gods..
      Gnosticsim and agnosticism deal with knowledge of the spiritual..

      I am a mother and a wife; I am an atheist and an agnostic.. Most people who don't believe in god (atheists) also don't claim to have any spiritual knowledge (agnostic).

      April 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Cold hard fact

      Atheist hunter your foil is too great!~!!! :) :)

      April 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      momoya.............in short, lost without Jesus!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  8. justageek

    From Marrium-Webster – "Atheism – a disbelief in the existence of deity" You have to know about a deity to believe it does not exist. That's the 'disbelief part' goofball. Tell me what part of this thing I have wrong? Point me to your definition of an Atheist where it says to be an Atheist is not a choice but simply not knowing.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • momoya

      You don't have to know about something to lack a belief in it.. I don't believe in everything I don't know about it, because I don't know about it to know whether or not to believe it.. Silly christian.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • momoya

      Yes, atheists are just fine saying "I don't know.". We feel absolutely no compulsion to come up with a bunch of untestable and unproven bullsh!t to make ourselves feel better about what we don't know and the fact that we all die..

      Atheism isn't about "not knowing," it's about not believing.. You do understand the difference between the two?? I hope??

      Gnosticism is about KNOWLEDGE of spiritual things, so an agnostic does not claim to have spiritual KNOWLEDGE.. You can be a god believer AND be agnostic..

      Theism is about BELIEF in god.. If you lack a god belief, you are an atheist.. You are atheist to thousands of gods except you believe in one.

      By all means, do some research on this stuff and educate yourself if you want to be taken seriously on these topics.

      Since atheism is a lack of belief, it doesn't require a choice.. A baby lacks clothes when it is born; thus, it is born naked.. A baby lacks belief in god when it is born (obviously, since it does not have the mental capacity); thus, it is atheist..

      Things aren't the way you say that they are just because it's your opinion.. Seriously, do some research on these subjects so you don't come off like a complete fool on top of being an azzhole.. You've got the azzhole thing down, so you don't need to work on anything, there; you need to look up the terms you're using to make any sense to anyone

      April 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • justageek

      "You don't have to know about something to lack a belief in it.. " – Really? Name one thing that you do not know about but you believe it to not be true and I'll believe you.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Leo

      Momoya, If Atheist are just fine saying I don't know, why are you here?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • momoya

      Are you serious?!!? You want me to name something I don't know about?? Really??

      How about this, why don't you think of something I probably don't know about it, then ask me about it, then ask if I had any way to believe in it before I knew about it.. My gosh you are sooooooooo stupid!!!!!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • momoya

      I have my reasons, Leo.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Agnosticism is not knowing. Atheist claim they DO know and there is no god. Christians claim they DO know and that there IS a god. Personally, I'm an agnostic with pantheistic leanings.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • momoya

      Theism and atheism deal with belief and disbelief in gods..
      Gnosticsim and agnosticism deal with knowledge of the spiritual..

      I am a mother and a wife; I am an atheist and an agnostic.. Most people who don't believe in god (atheists) also don't claim to have any spiritual knowledge (agnostic)..

      April 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • justageek

      "Are you serious?!!? You want me to name something I don't know about?? Really??" – Yes. Because you claim that is what an Atheist is so it should be easy for you. You reject the notion of Atheism being a choice and confuse it with Agnostic or something along those lines. So please answer or realize you are wrong about what being an Atheist is all about.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Leo

      Momoya, I think you were once a believer and fell away. Did you know the scripture tell us that is one of the great signs just before the man of lawlessness is revealed? II Thes..

      I know many of those of you that come here against Christianity know what the bible says, but manage to come up with excuses not to believe or follow.

      We have some very clear signs that we are in the last days and one of the most compelling is the rebirth of Israel.

      As you see the other signs come about I hope you will turn back and ask for forgiveness!! He will forgive you!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • momoya

      @justageek

      Well, if you want me to name something I don't know about, I guess you'll be waiting for a long time.. Can you name something you don't know about??

      Theism = Belief in god
      Atheism = NOT a belief in god

      If I don't know about a particular god that was worshiped 20,000 years ago, then I lack belief in that god and am an atheist in regards to that god since I can't believe in a god I don't know about..

      April 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • momoya

      @Leo

      Leo, I don't want forgiveness from any god that would require it, and I especially do not want forgiveness from any god who tortures people for not doing what he wants.. I can that evil terrorism, no matter who does it– god or Bin Laden or Saddam.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • justageek

      "Atheism = NOT a belief in god" – Where in the world do you get this definition??? The true definition is "a disbelief in the existence of deity". Disbelief and not a belief are two different things. I don't believe in something I don't know about but I can disbelieve something I know about. Why are you so confused with that?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • momoya

      @justageek

      Typical = very common
      Atypical = not very common (see what the "a" does?!)

      Theist = belief in god
      Atheist = not belief in god (see what the "a" does?!)

      For an atheist to DISbelief, he'd have to know about the god, but the problem is that every other christian worships a different sort of god in a different sort of way who does different sorts of things for different sorts of people in different sorts of situations for different sorts of reasons.. Ya'll don't even have a consistent idea of what your god is.. There's nothing for the atheist to know..

      I do not believe in your god because you have not provided me any suitable proof.. Since I lack belief in your god, I am an atheist.. It's a simple concept; maybe go get an adult in the room to come over and help you with it.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • justageek

      "I do not believe in your god because you have not provided me any suitable proof" – Typical antogonist response. I never said I was a Theist.

      But please do point me to your definition of a Atheist. I really do want to know what credible definition is out there that is different than what I copied from Marriam-Webster. I never met a real life Atheist who didn't say their disbelief wasn't a choice. Never had one say they were born that way. All have said they are making their best choice based on what they know which is cool in my book.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • momoya

      Educate yourself? I don't know.. Try some courses in critical reasoning, maybe.. Good luck.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • justageek

      "Good luck." – Thanks.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • momoya

      You're welcome.. Have you figured out yet why atheists don't need to put forth any idea about the origins of the universe or the purpose of humanity? Or are you still lost on that one?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • justageek

      "Have you figured out yet why atheists don't need to put forth any idea about the origins of the universe or the purpose of humanity?" – No. Really hadn't put any thought into either. Really don't care if anyone doesn't care to figure out where we came from. Their choice as far as I'm concerned.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • momoya

      So you've changed your entire stance in the last few minutes.. On page 109 you say that atheists need to explain the origin and purpose of the universe to be on a level playing field with believers.. I'm glad you changed your mind.. good for you!

      April 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • justageek

      Need to explain – no. Like to explain – yes. My Atheist friends like to explain why we are here on the most popular science explanation being the big bang. Logical explanation to me but I do not concern myself with whether or not they are right. Just was saying on 109 that it's fun to watch the battles.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • momoya

      Ah, so now you've taken to LYING.. On page 109 you say that it would be "proof" for the atheist.. Why are you backing down, now??

      Here's your exact wording:
      >.>.>justageek
      "Why would atheism need to prove anything at all about "where we came from?"." – Maybe to prove your belief is right so we can end this battle once and for all? Wouldn't you like to prove your belief to be correct?<.<.<.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • justageek

      Ummm. Lying? About what? I was asking a question not making a statement. I wasn't saying you HAD to explain. I said wouldn't you LIKE to explain to shut up all the Theists. What's wrong with that?

      April 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • momoya

      Liar.. You said that having a particular explanation would be PROOF.. Now you're not saying that.. Why?

      April 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • justageek

      "You said that having a particular explanation would be PROOF" – You lost me now. I have no idea what you're getting at. I'd like to see you win the arguement with a Theist. I think that would be great. But for whatever reason you want to belittle me because I question you for proof. I might as well go back to the Theists side of the fence. People like you make Atheism seem more and more like a cult and if you question it then you are stupid or a liar or whatever else you want to say. Sounds just like an extreme Theist to me. My Atheist friends would be proud of you...not.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  9. Pipe-Dreamer

    God is God first and foremost! He,,,, God,,,, so very very long ago,,,, established the existentialisms' creed,,, for the Creation of the Celestial Nebulonic Chasms of the Cosmos o be born. The Celestial Chasms of Nebulisms are ever so steadily being manipulated by God's powers relative to existentialisms' decrees. The sovereign Cosmos holds in its' grasps all stellar forces of finite complexisms being but simplicities for God, the Creator of Cosmotic Relavencies.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • momoya

      Any argument that can be asserted for god can be asserted for god's god.. That's one stupid proposition!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  10. MJ

    "The Apostle Paul never referred to a historical Jesus".
    Acts 9 is the first recorded meeting of Paul and Jesus: Jesus revealed who He is to Paul. Paul fell to the earth and asked who are you Lord? Act 9:5" I am Jesus who you persecute.."
    So the author of this article has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. Just making up things that sound good to him. No Bibical authority at all.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Uh – funny how you sort of left out the whole setting of this story – in which Paul has a VISION of an incorporeal Jesus. Paul NEVER met the historical Jesus, and says as much.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Cq

      Acts was not written by Paul. He's a character in it, that's all.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • seyedibar

      Acts9 is a third person narrative, which wasn't part of Paul's own account. That particular passage in its original language seems to indicate not a physical encounter, but his first encounter with the message of a messiah. The defiling of the temple that set him on his course happened in 56 C.E. anyway, decades after Christ's supposed death.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  11. Terrentius

    OK

    The historical veracity of the Jesus Myth has long been a point of contention between myself and colleagues on spiritual paths; I have leaned, after much research, in the direction that we have a composite character comprised of the usual 1st century influences later pawned off as one Jesus Christ by the Churches. The natural evolution of Christian thought, i.e. the Nicene Council, the Trinity, the codification of Papal authority, the eventual Protestant Reformation, these are transitory, temporal sets of ideas forged into doctrine. By men. Arguing that any of them was 'inspired by God' invalidates the others, and heads into extra-canonical superpowers being extended beyond the 1st century to real winners like Constantine, Martin Luther, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, and Pope Benedict.

    T.'.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  12. loathstheright

    It doesn't matter if Jesus existed or not, it won't make God real, it is a myth and stories created by man.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  13. solex

    The big problem is that Jesus was supposedly executed by the Romans. The Romans kept EXCELLENT records down to how much cement was used to create the aquaducts. There is not one word about him or any of the incidents purported to have been accomplished by him. Nothing. Zero. They ONLY source for his existence are the first four books of the New Testament.

    He never existed.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Cassie

      That's like asking someone if Moses really existed. "Of course he's real, he's in the Bible." Whatever! Then why is there no archaeological evidence that he ever existed in Egypt?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • STLBroker

      The Romans crucified thousands of Jews. Nero lit them on fire and used them to light his garden. Show me these excellent records that record every single person they executed. I won't hold my breath in the meantime.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • J.W

      Where are all of the records being kept? I would like to know about every single person ever executed in Rome.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • David

      @STL – The problem with your argument is that your own Bible states that Jesus went before Pontius Pilate in a court of law. For those executed excellent records where kept. There is no doubt of that and even religious scholars wouldn't debate that. Rome prided itself on the rule of law, the very basis of our own judicial system today. If you know anything about Roman Law, and more importantly the demeanor of a man like Pontius (yes we have lot's of historical evidence of him) you would know that the account of Jesus' trial was a farce.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • J.W

      Where are the records at?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  14. Leo

    The scriptures written nearly 2000 years ago are just a useful and accurate today!

    Matthew 7

    1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

    7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

    12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • gager

      Sounds like you are judging.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Leo

      Those aren't my words? How could I be judging? I do hope you will read them and understand though!!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Cassie

      Leo, you're a fool if you think the scriptures are as accurate today as they were 2000 years ago. They're nothing but fanciful stories written to control man.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Just a lot of blah blah blah nonsense from ancient mythology. It means nothing at all.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • David

      While the faithful seek their reward, the rest of us will seek the truth. Arguing history or anything else that requires scientific rigor is useless when discussing mythology.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  15. Kyley

    "The Apostle Paul never referred to a historical Jesus." - lol

    1 Corinthians 15:12-17 says this (written by the Apostle Paul):
    "Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless..."

    So, not only did he refer to the historical Jesus, but he affirmed that if the historical event of his death and resurrection were a lie, then we may as well toss all of Christianity out the window. Which is what this article is attempting to do, accompanied with a whole host of skewed and outright false statements... This is just one of them...

    April 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Uh – you seem to have a hard time understanding what's meant by "first person account". It's also known as an "eye witness account". References after the fact don't really count, anymore than someone today quoting scripture can be considered an historical first person account of Jesus' existence.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Kyley

      I see... then Martin Luther King must have never existed, because I've never met him personally. ;-)

      April 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • sbp

      Kyley, you are quite dim. The point is, YOUR saying Martin Luther King really existed carries no weight, because YOU never actually met him. Same as Paul. Get it?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  16. Renee

    Osiris and Dionysus were both murdered and resurrected. I may not be an official scholar, but I do know my mythology well enough to know that! Osiris to rule the underworld - Dionysus to become a full Greek god so there is plenty of precedence for resurrection in mythology. I fully believe Jesus was real... I believe his resurrection is definitely fudged from the myths of the Greco-Roman world. Just look at the artistic comparisons of early Christian art and Dionysian art. Eerily similar.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • tevii

      Renee – yes, good for you to see that. But the resurrection myth in Christianity is most likely taken straight from Babylonian myths of Tammuz and the evidence is in Easter itself. Ive stated this in an earlier post but 2,000 years before Jesus, Babylonia was celebrating Spring on while simultaneously celebrating the resurrection of their god Tammuz. How did they celebrate? By painting eggs, hiding them and later searching for them. However, unlike the Jesus resurrection myth, Tammuz was resurrected with help of his mother Ishtar. The Semitic pronunciation of Ishtar is "easter"

      April 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  17. Jack

    Jesus didn't exist. He does exist. He's stil alive and well. He'll return. You'll all see! He will be back and you all will see.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Cassie

      Whatever it is you're smoking or huffing, you need to stop.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Frank

      OK-Just make sure you look busy when he shows up.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  18. MJ

    “If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don’t think anyone would be outraged,”
    The difference is that the "Good Samaritan" is a parable told by Jesus in answering a lawyer who asked, "Who is my neighbor" (speaking of caring for others and treating them rightly) – a story told to make a point. Whereas, Jesus is real, died for our sin and raised the third day and lives today.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  19. palintwit

    What if everybody had there own personalized hell waiting for them? Mine would be listening to Sarah Palin shriek for all of eternity.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  20. ShameonCNN

    CNN will answer to God almighty for their attempts to plant doubt into the minds of people and for all souls swayed and lost to hell from reading this trash! You think you are just doing a job but truth is money has become your god. A god who can not save you when what you think is fantasy becomes an undeniable fact. Yeshua/Jesus is alive and every knee will bow. Even all CNN staff. They will regret the day that they printed such trash for their almighty dollar. May you all come to believe in Jesus. He is your only hope! You think it's cute to get a rise out of people. Won't be so cute someday. You'll stand before the Jesus you mock as your righteous judge! You'll answer for any part in printing the garbage you do! Wake up CNN. You do the work of Satan!

    April 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Colin

      Thanks for the comment, Mr. Murdoch.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • gager

      shameon, please get some mental health help as sooon as possible.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • LinCA

      @ShameonCNN

      You said, "You do the work of Satan!"
      If your god is all powerful, satan exist with his consent.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • ShameonCNN

      Correction, CNN and gager. Find Jesus!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • OhPlease

      It's when you read the trash that "ShameonCNN" just wrote that you realize just how delusional these people are, it's pathetic. The bible isn't a real historical book and this nut case is loosing there mind over it. It's going to be so nice when this cult is no longer a part of our society.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I just get such a kick out of people who demand that others believe as they do, speak of the love of God, and then threaten that the alternative is to be cast into the lake of fire.

      Really, Shame, get a new song.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • tevii

      You, my dear are a fanatic.
      Let's pretend for a moment you are correct about all of it. Why do YOU feel compelled to say it, unless your wishing that upon anybody?
      Thank you for your preaching, but it is obvious you are not doing it out of the kindness of your heart. You are doing it from hatred. So if you are correct about any of it, we will all see you in hell as well.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Dave

      Absolutly ShameonCNN you tell like it is. They will be before Jesus someday and I would'nt want to be in ntheir shoes.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Dave

      Absolutly ShameonCNN you tell like it is. They will be before Jesus someday and I would'nt want to be in their shoes.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • lollin'

      lol

      April 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • ShameonCNN

      Tevii...........YES I AM!!!! A Jesus fanatic and so proud of it. Not one bit of shame. Seen the wonders of his works, feel his holy presence and love and stand in awe and humbled by him. A TOTAL FANATIC!!!! He gives my life meaning! Do you know what that is???? For life to make total sense??? DOUBT IT!

      Dave....Right On my brother!!!! See ya in Glory!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • otto

      Your god is an immoral p.rick....I wouldn't worship him even if he did exist.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "he gives my life meaning! Do you know what that is???? For life to make total sense??? DOUBT IT!"

      No, he doesn't you do that all by yourself if you would only use your brain. Our lives have meaning but you have to lie to yourself in order to feel justify in your delusion. There is no proof of your god and the story of Jesus was stolen from other religions during that time period. It's time you got a real education.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • tevii

      I certainly wasnt asking if you are fanatic. but nice response to the rest oif my comment. Your preaching bleeds of the hatred your religion is supposed to be opposed of. Good luck entering those pearly gates.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      otto....I seriously doubt you have to worry about it!

      OhPlease....then what is the meaning of your life?????

      April 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • sam

      This is adorable.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Satan

      You jerks leave me out of this, I wasn't even involved!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Cassie

      CNN didn't have to plant doubt in my head. Atheists are who they are because they've read the Bible – unlike religious fanatics such as yourself. If you really know your Bible, then you'd also know how it contradicts itself. So tell me, when DID this God of yours create the world? Did he do it in seven days like the Old Testament says? Or did he do it in one day? Go ahead. Try reading Genesis. It's all there in black and white. Two versions of the earth's creation all in the book of Genesis.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • otto

      Atheist Hunter,

      You are right, I don't have to worry about it.

      I have to worry about all the religious loons who think a god that needs constant validation from his creations or he will punish them forever is a 'just and merciful god' and are more than willing to do their gods bidding to rid the world of the sinful and impose their fear based dogma.

      "If you don't believe in my god YOU WILL BURN FOREVER.......but he loves you".

      Think about anyone you love, could you ever punish them forever because they made you mad?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.