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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. No need to believe

    There is a Jesus, because religion has lied so much that it has no choice but to believe. There is also a mohammad because all those people have to die for something. The point is you choose to believe because to not believe would take away the voice of those from the past. The truth is win you see the end, you will all be pretty disappointed I think.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  2. nogodshere

    Hey Yakobi, atheist here, keep that dogma off me or I'll run it over with my karma! You make excellent points; most of my friends are wonderful people who do good things that help many people. The xians I know are horrid hypocritical bigots. I kid you not.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  3. GoGiants

    Xian logic: The Giants are winning right now ergo God musta done it! Seriously, this notion that just because we haven't all the answers to our origins – yet – that must mean the specifically evangelical Christian God poofed us into existence is just plain ludicrous. I am so sick of that flawed and silly reasoning it makes me want to ridicule them until they stop it already. After all, I don't fear eternal damnation like they do for behaving badly! I'll just put myself to bed without supper! Silly, silly sheeple they are.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • GodisaGiantsFan

      Duh!!

      April 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • GodPot

      " I don't fear eternal damnation like they do for behaving badly! "

      Obviously neither do they or they wouldn't behave the way they do and attempt to justify their hate and violence of others all while praying for their favorite NFL/MLB/NBA team to do well...and to cover the points...

      April 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  4. Pipe-Dreamer

    The main reason why atheistic molestors seldom get caught are due that they molest other molesters,,,,Keeping molestation an all in the family is atradition and yes even the religious do the same ilk,,,,

    April 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Really?

      Why do Christians make ups so many unfounded lies, the only thing you are doing is proving the atheist right.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • momoya

      PipeD quote: May all of you live one's Life austeriously and be it not with the too much stains of sin!
      PipeD quote: I too could care less about others who willingly sin... your eyes' out,,,, go right ahaed and keep on sinning!

      Contradicting yourself: Proven..

      April 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  5. RANDY WHITE

    One hundred years from today every single name mentioned is this article will be long forgotten, except one. What do you suppose the experts will say to that.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • momoya

      They will say, then: "Wow, that momoya lady was so smart and ahead of her time.". Why do you ask?

      April 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • GodPot

      Yes, Albert Schweitzer will be remembered 100 years from now, what has that got to do with anything...

      April 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • GodPot

      Between Albert Schweitzer & Jesus, who will be remembered for the things they actually wrote down to pass on to other generations?

      I'll give you a hint, only one of the above wrote anything down that we know of... the other had people several decades later write down things i'm sure he would have written if he had the chance but obviously papayrus and ink weren't invented yet while he was alive, right? Otherwise you would think he might have made a note or two, you know, being God and all and wanting to impart his wisdom to mankind...I mean, he supposedly went to all the trouble of hand carving stone with his laws on his first visit with Moses...

      April 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Rose Dreamer

      I love it...there's just something about His name!!

      April 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls.

      With any luck it will be something like "That jesus fuker, he sure fooled a bunch of people for a long time but we now know he was no more a god than Zeus!"

      April 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • otto

      I know the name Zues and Thor, Jupiter and Minerva.

      Does that make them real gods too?

      April 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  6. Christians molest children and other living things

    Prayer won't change that.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • just sayin

      You name is spot on

      April 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • GodPot

      True true. I'm sure lots of good, loving and caring parents have prayed that their children be kept safe in God's hands, I just don't think many thought to pray to keep them safe "from" God's hands...

      April 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Atheists hide teir molestations in plain sight,,,, their own kind!

      April 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  7. Pipe-Dreamer

    Nonimus wrote on Monday, April 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm, stating, "@Pipe-Dreamer, With such a name it would seem logical to expect comments about you smoking a pipe. "This Celestial Cosmos is riddled with way more than just our knowable to us universe! The actual size and immensity of the Celestial Cosmos is beyond thye perceptions of many science ladled folks!"
    What makes you think that?"

    What makes ME think that you ask? Does not many high-minded and socially endowed science-orientated folks stop themselves in theorizing the wholeness of the Celestial Cosmos by fixating their perceptions of Celestial grandness on there being just a singular universe? (At least that's the opinion I get when I watch science orientated Tv shows.) The chances are way above average that the Celestial Cosmos does literally contain trillions upon trillions of universes!

    April 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Wow

      "At least that's the opinion I get when I watch science orientated Tv shows."

      That explains a lot about your posts. LOL!

      April 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      WoW,,,,,,,

      Where esle should one get their reality "fix" from? Gimme a break from your as-sinine inuendos will ya? I grow tired and weary of your faltering sense of unbridled ridiculing ways,,,,,,,,,,,,

      April 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "Does not many high-minded and socially endowed science-orientated folks stop themselves in theorizing the wholeness of the Celestial Cosmos by fixating their perceptions of Celestial grandness on there being just a singular universe?"

      I'd hate to try to diagram that sentence. Regardless, I asked what made you think there are such things, not others. Never mind, it is not important. Take another toke from the pipe that you don't smoke and go on dreaming.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Nonimus,,,,,

      Can you prove to me that the Celestial Cosmos is made up of but one universe and no more? I have faith in my belief that there are untellable amounts of universes within the Clestialized Cosmos. Can you prove my faith wrong?

      As also, I have much Faith in God the Almighty Creator of all things Celestial and I have much faith in God's Sons who took of Creation's bits and pieces and made all Terrestrial based Life forms and Life Formations. Can you prove me that my faith is wrong or will you sink to bantering and scoffing my Faiths?

      April 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • momoya

      Who cares about all your little "faiths?". Unless you can prove them, they're just more mental ma.st.erbation.

      April 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  8. Jake

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZgT1SRcrKE&w=640&h=390]

    April 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • tevii

      I am not religious at all, but Zeitgeist is full of historical inaccuracies. There is no evidence to support that all the gods were born on Dec. 25. crucified and resurrected 3 days later.
      There is some value to this video but take it with a grain of salt and still do your due diligence.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  9. Reality

    Summarizing with a prayer:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    April 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  10. EJ

    OhPlease – not all Christians believe that Jesus appeared on a piece of toast. Typical jump-to-conclusions atheist?

    April 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "Typical jump-to-conclusions atheist?"

      Like you just did? LMAO!

      April 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Cq

      And not all of them would believe that surviving a car crash with "just" a concussion was an obvious sign of a miracle, but I just watched a whole congregation on TV give an Amen to that explanation. Toast images are just another flavor of miracle, no more ridiculous really than stories of lucky survival, or chance encounters.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  11. HeavenSent

    God talks to insane people.
    Amen

    April 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      God talks to everyone, yet some hearts are so hardened they refuse to listen. He also speaks through the actions of the Saints and the countless, scientifically inexplicable events known as miracles to believers that have happened and continue to happen throughout human history. Faith does not require or need proof.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • just sayin

      Miracles happen in all religions from all gods

      April 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Faith does not require or need proof." Correct, if it did then it would be called "Fact" so please stop confusing your unfounded faith with facts.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @SouthernCelt, No ramblings of the imagination require proof. That's what makes them creative fantasies. All of us have bizarre dreams from time to time, but only a select few of us try to pass those off as reality.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  12. monae75

    There were a few hundred men that lived during the 60 year period of the alleged time of The Christ. There is nowhere on unadulterated written record that dates to the time that it was supposedly written to proven ANYTHING thing in either the New Testament to be true. The Old Testament has been rewritten countless times as well RE WRITTEN not transcribed or translated. The 'god' of Adam and Eve is not the Jewish god War god Yahweh. The War god Yahweh is the god of the 3 main Western religions. Yahweh is not nor has ever been a god of love and mercy.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      There is only one God!

      April 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • VanHagar

      "There were a few hundred men that lived during the 60 year period of the alleged time of The Christ." Only a few hundred men lived during that time? Really? (Actually, most scholars have him living approx, 33-34 years–how many men do you suppose lived during that shorten time span.)

      Take your meds and then post again please.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • One God

      Allahu akbar!

      April 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Admiral Ackbar

      "It's a trap!!"

      April 9, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      There are at least a billion Christians, not counting the other monotheistic faiths that do believe in God, and a few like you who don't. If Reality really is just a majority opinion, then you have no grasp on Reality.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @SouthernCelt, That you believe reality is just a matter of opinion would explain why you've been so easily suckered by the god delusion.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      monae75 wrote, "There were a few hundred men that lived during the 60 year period of the alleged time of The Christ."

      That's all the men that there was? I'd like to think thousands or more men did live back then,,,, Who am I to argue?

      April 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • GodPot

      "If Reality really is just a majority opinion, then you have no grasp on Reality."

      I'm sure that worked well for the believers in a flat earth, at least until the majority decided it was a sphere.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      @ashkaray, you should read more carefully. I said "if. Without anything real to compare it to, I accept reality at face value.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @SouthernCelt, Maybe you should write more carefully instead. It's hard to read, "If Reality really is just a majority opinion... " as something other than the supposition that reality IS just a matter of opinion. Like saying, "if the sky really is blue... "

      April 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things, .

    April 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Jesus

      `Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! ... `

      April 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      Fraud alert avoid fake Jesus posts

      April 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Fraud alert avoid fake Jesus posts"

      Thanks for continuing to prove Christians like you are liars and my posts are correct because of your desperation

      April 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  14. EJ

    CQ – do you have a reading comprehension problem?

    "I don't think you can go through life basing every decision and belief on logic – and I am an extremely logical over-thinker (almost to a fault, at times)."

    I never said that I go through life never basing my decisions on logic or reason – I actually said the exact opposite.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • momoya

      EJ

      Why doesn't your god provide enough proof for people who are naturally skeptical of such a huge claim?. Why is faith for your god and religion "a virtue" when faith for another god and religion is not a virtue?

      April 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  15. biggal195

    Alfred H. Ackley said it best in 1933 in one of the best songs ever written: "You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!" Still says it all!

    April 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!" "

      Sorry but the scientist have proven it's all about a chemical reaction in your head, it has nothing to do with your heart.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  16. Nii

    Religion requires faith. One definition is to believe strongly about what u can't see. Another is to trust and obey what is said in the Bible so that through experimental practise u will discover emotional maturity and ethical behavior.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Nii

      And yet, people can reach emotional maturity and ethical behaviour without the use of the Bible.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • WASP

      @nii: yes religion requires faith.....better known as no proof what so ever. i will take my science over your "no proof required" book any day.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Huh?

      "Another is to trust and obey what is said in the Bible so that through experimental practise u will discover emotional maturity and ethical behavior."

      History has shown that Christians can't follow those teachings, they are murders, drunkards, greedy, adulterers full of hate and bigotry. Just look that the posts from them.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Nii

      HAAWAIGUEST
      You are most definitely right. It takes mOre than knowing the words in the Bible to achieve emotional maturity and ethical behavior. However the practise of the teachings are the same whether u do know or do not or simply ignore the Bible. This is what Christ meant by He is the Way.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  17. reason

    Watch what anthropologists, archeologists and religious historians seeking the truth have to say about where god came from:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg&w=640&h=390]

    April 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  18. HeavenSent

    Who in their right mind would vote for a Mormon?
    Amen

    April 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      I find that the most ironic; one religion looking at the another one like it's crazy. Go figure.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @AverageJoe76, Agree. It's like patients in an asylum trying to decide who is the craziest.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  19. EJ

    There is nothing logical about religion. You can't try to understand it or rationalize it – it is what it is, and you either believe it or you don't. If you do, then you are a faithful person. Meaning, you can believe in something without seeing it – even if it is illogical. If you don't believe, then I guess you require concrete proof of everything in this life, which must be exhausting. I don't think you can go through life basing every decision and belief on logic – and I am an extremely logical over-thinker (almost to a fault, at times). Certain decisions and beliefs have to be and should be based on emotion, feelings, and faith.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Drew

      Yes, in CERTAIN situations, I can see making a decision based on faith or emotion. Basing your ENTIRE LIFE on a leap of faith is foolhardy at best and outright stupid/dangerous at worst. Would you tell a child to stop learning at age 5, go through life based on what their parents tell them alone, without question or learning anything for themselves? That's exactly what highly religous people do.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • momoya

      You oversimplify.

      The type of decision required of someone implies a particular level of skepticism.. You tell me you drive a convertible.. You don't offer any proof, but I decide to believe anyway because you seem like a nice guy, and it's no big deal to believe you..

      But switch that to your claim that your car is serial #00001, and I need to buy it from you at a cool million.. The level of skepticism goes way up, doesn't it?. You want my million bucks, so now you're going to have to prove that you have that car and that it's worth a mil. You see how that works?

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.. A god believer has a freaking extra-extraordinary claim.. The atheist is right to be skeptical because the claim is so huge and because there is no evidence for it.. Skeptics don't require logic and reason and proof for everything; they require logic and reason and proof for really, really huge things like worldviews and god beings and camaros worth a million bucks.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • EJ

      That is not what MOST religious people do. There are extremes in any group of people, not just those who believe in a religion. I don't base every decision in my life solely on my Christian beliefs. When I buy a car, I don't ask "What would Jesus do?" No, it is a decision that should be based on logic. Now, when I am dealing with people that irritate the hell out of me, that's when I have to look deep and rely on my faith to remind me how I should handle the situation (i.e. I follow the mottoes "Treat others the way you want to be treated;" "Love your neighbor as yourself.")

      April 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @EJ,
      "If you don't believe, then I guess you require concrete proof of everything in this life, which must be exhausting."
      There is a difference between living rationally, if that is the right term, and requiring "concrete proof of everything."

      "Certain decisions and beliefs have to be and should be based on emotion, feelings, and faith"
      Emotions and feeling are real. No one is arguing about that, at least I don't think anyone is. However, basing what you think is real on whether it makes you feel better, or on what you feel to be true, makes it no more real, or true, than wishing. Perhaps, basing decisions on subjective criteria only makes sense when the outcome is also subjective, e.g. which flavor of ice cream should I have, or do I love her/him and should I marry her/him.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Cq

      People who don't go through life basing their decisions and belief on logic typically get conned and swindled out of all their valuables, right? Can you honestly tell me that you don't make at least some of your decisions using logic and reason? If you do, then why are you making a special exemption when it comes to Jesus?

      "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man" W. C. Fields

      And Heaven is cheating actual death, right?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • EJ

      momoya – fair enough and I can certainly see your point. But that is the essence of faith – believing in something when it is really, really hard to do so. It is easy to believe in something little and simple, like you said. But to believe in something HUGE that defies all logic – that is faith. Some people care about it, and others don't. I know plenty of people who are atheists and I don't shun them for it because they aren't up in my face about my beliefs (and vice versa). I like them because they are good people regardless. That's the way it should be – we should be respecting others for their beliefs, rather than constantly trying to change or refute them.

      And don't say that all Christians do is "preach" and try to change the way others think – there is a segment of Christians who do that. There is also a segment of atheists who do it. The door swings both ways. Honestly, it's not that terrible to spread the word of God (or in the atheists situation, to make a case for why God doesn't exist), so long as it is done respectfully.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I follow the mottoes "Treat others the way you want to be treated;" "Love your neighbor as yourself.

      But, why do you follow them?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • EJ

      Damn reply button didn't work:

      CQ – do you have a reading comprehension problem?

      "I don't think you can go through life basing every decision and belief on logic – and I am an extremely logical over-thinker (almost to a fault, at times)."

      I never said that I go through life never basing my decisions on logic or reason – I actually said the exact opposite.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Cq

      EJ
      I know that it's really romantic to believe in something against all odds only to be proven right in the end, but nobody has proven Jesus which makes this dedication actually one of those other stories, the sad ones where people waste their entire lives on a pipe dream.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • EJ

      Nonimus – I follow them because it is the right way to treat people. We are all in the same boat on this planet, so we may as treat everyone with respect. Why do you follow them? You know those words are quotes from (and originated with) Jesus, right?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • EJ

      CQ – I don't expect you or any atheist to understand what I am saying – it would go against the essence of your beliefs. My point is that having faith is about believing in something that doesn't make logical sense. It has nothing to do with whether I want something to be true – to me, it is the truth, even if it makes no sense. It's not rational, but that is the way that it is. I don't need proof that Jesus existed – I have FAITH that he existed, even without actual proof (although I would argue that there is proof of Jesus' existence, but my statement could apply to many other aspects of religion). And the majority of human beings feel the same way.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Cq

      EJ
      Sorry for the misquote.

      Why then why do you make the exception for Jesus? As I said, only the greedy allow themselves to be conned. Aren't you allowing your greed for an afterlife and relationship with a super-powerful friend to cloud your better judgment?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @EJ,
      "We are all in the same boat on this planet, so we may as treat everyone with respect. "
      So where is faith needed in this logic?

      p.s. thanks, yes, I'm aware of the source.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Cq

      EJ
      Does every choice to have faith in something that doesn't make logical sense actually pan out? Like I said, that's a romantic idea and plenty of novels, movies, and even a few real-life cases have ended up with people having their beliefs vindicated, but how common do you think this actually is?

      Tell me, do you "Love" Jesus?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • EJ

      CQ – it is not a romantic love, obviously, but yes, I do love Jesus. Because He did something for me that most people wouldn't. I have a certain "love" for everyone, just some more than others and in different ways.

      I think it is common in little ways and signs. You're right; you don't hear about "big" miracles everyday. But people see the little things on a regular basis, you just don't hear about it.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Cq

      EJ
      The majority of human beings are not Christian but, if majorities count for anything, then the majority who were not Jesus followers in the beginning seem to work against your argument. For every new discovery, one or a few people find out the truth before everyone else, and worldwide atheism is growing, right?

      April 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • EJ

      CQ – No, but the majority of human beings believe in something. Whether they be Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu – they believe in a higher power, regardless of the name.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I love the signs like Jesus on the toast or tree stump.
      Amen

      April 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "I love the signs like Jesus on the toast or tree stump."

      They altered the image of Christ to make it more appealing to the masses the real Jesus didn't look anything like the way he is portrayed today. Typical dumb Christian.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Cq

      EJ
      You love Jesus, but you don't think that this emotional state is clouding your judgment any? It's a bitter fact of life, but sometimes we fall in love with things and people who aren't good choices for us, right? Every failed inventor, for example, let their love of an idea blind them to the fact that it couldn't be made to work. How sad, we would say, that he wasted his life on this.

      The problem with "common in little ways and signs" is that these are indistinguishable from just mildly unusual things that can be allotted to pure chance. It's like believers put on "God-colored glasses" and see the ordinary world unnaturally, or something.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Cq

      EJ
      And the majority of human beings at one time use to believe the Earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the Earth until people discovered the truth and started reeducating them. Before these religions came on the scene the majority of humans believed in what, fertility goddesses or animal spirits? Does popularity of a belief at one particular moment in history make it true for all time?

      April 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Know What

      EJ "You know those words [Golden Rule] are quotes from (and originated with) Jesus, right?"

      No, they did not originate with Jesus. That type of philosophy far predates Jesus - even Confucius said, "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself" 500+ years before - and there are other examples which predate Confucius.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Cq

      The rabbi Hillel, who may have taught Jesus as a boy before he died, is quoted as saying "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn"

      Jesus was probably of the Hillel school, whereas his Pharisee critics were most likely of the Shammai school.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      @CQ, Rabbi Hillel died before Jesus was born, Rabbi Gamaliel (Hillel's grandson) was a Jesus contemporary. Paul of Tarsus was Rabbi Gamaliel's star pupil until God literally knocked Paul "off his as*" and turned him into Saint Paul.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Cq

      SouthernCelt
      Last I heard Hillel likely died 10 CE. I've never heard of a link between him and Paul. If there was one I can't see where Hillel rubbed off on him. Paul was way too authoritative.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  20. Pipe-Dreamer

    Phosphorus wrote to me on page 92 on Easter Sunday Night, April 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm, stating, "To confuse social statistics and demographics with numerology is a rather remarkable mistake. Nice try, Pipe-Dreamer. Keep smoking your pipe, and leave the actual science and math to us adults. Besides, it's probably passed your bed time. With the lines I've seen you spitting out in this blog and some of CNN's previous religious blogs, you may want to brush your teeth for an extra few minutes. Talking that much (I'll be polite) can really make one's breath wreak. Nighty-night!

    FYI Phosphorus, I smoke no pipe,,, haven't for many so many years,,,,,, I do however smoke filtered cigars. Science you say? Here's a weenie of science for ya! Long ago in the ancient timeperiods of Greek and Roman civilizations, there were these Theological Philosophers who made stories as to just exactly what was the smallest things and their roles in the meanings of Life. In their still known to us writings they did write that the smallest things known were the "elemental gods". Todays scientists do scoff at such an idea and they have renamed an old fling to call these "elemental gods as being atoms putting to bed the ancient Theological philosophers' understandings. So much for pragmatisms' lamentations!

    Another tid-bit to ponder upon is the exact size of this "Celestial Cosmos we find ourselves living within. Just how big is it really? Do you agree with our sciences' rather mundane stand that the universe is all there is out there? If you do then you get the booby prize! This Celestial Cosmos is riddled with way more than just our knowable to us universe! The actual size and immensity of the Celestial Cosmos is beyond thye perceptions of many science ladled folks!

    Another diddy to feast upon is called "Fractal Cosmology" Ever heard about it? Probably not so here is the main jist of it! Fractal Cosmology deals with the very real possibiliy that there are places where there are universes within universes.

    These places where there are "inner-universes" must and I dare say again, must be sheltered from the outward universes blasts of stellar radiation. What a better place to hide Micro-universes than within all forms of living bodies! Here's the clincher! All Life Forms and Life Formations are all made up of cellularized universes that are living places for the elemental gods' ever so smalled living generations of inward living life forms and life formations! Many verses of the KJVB does back up this diddy of thoughts!

    Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is INSIDE you.

    1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building

    May all of you live one's Life austeriously and be it not with the too much stains of sin!

    April 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • momoya

      Why does it matter if a nonbeliever sins much or little?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Yakobi

      I find it amusing that the atheists I know are a "helluva" lot less sinful than most self-professed xtians!
      What's that, I say? Xtians are hypocrites? No way!

      April 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Austeriously"? What is WITH you and the made-up gobbledy-go -ok?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Pipe-Dreamer,
      With such a name it would seem logical to expect comments about you smoking a pipe.

      "This Celestial Cosmos is riddled with way more than just our knowable to us universe! The actual size and immensity of the Celestial Cosmos is beyond thye perceptions of many science ladled folks!"
      What makes you think that?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      momoya,,,,,,,,

      I too could care less about others who willingly sin. Only when one willingly wants to stop their sinningways will I care about them. Sin your eyes' out,,,, go right ahaed and keep on sinning!

      April 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Yakobi,,,,,
      It's easy to point out the frailties of people. It's even easier to poke fun of Christians' who continue on in sin. Afterall, Sin is a Christian tradition to try and stay away from.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • momoya

      You're like your god, Pipe, contradicting yourself like that.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      momoya,,,,,

      "contradicting" myself I am now being accused of? Prove it! Show me the money!

      April 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • momoya

      PipeD quote: May all of you live one's Life austeriously and be it not with the too much stains of sin!
      PipeD quote: I too could care less about others who willingly sin... your eyes' out,,,, go right ahaed and keep on sinning!

      Contradicting yourself: Proven.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • eagle eye

      All accounts must be settled and some stains are difficult to remove. As we were born to this life we will continue to be born again and again until the accounts are settled. The worst stains deal with human contacts as we are the crown of this creation and even the least offence of hurting someones feelings is accounted for. Even be careful of the animals you kill for the graveyard of you belly as they also have hearts that beat. Sinners may yet become saints.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • momoya

      Hey, PipeD, I think we found your soulmate.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Yakobi

      So who is more of an xtian–the pious atheist or sinful xtian?

      April 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • nogodshere

      Hey Yakobi, atheist here, keep that dogma off me or I'll run it over with my karma! You make excellent points; most of my atheist friends are wonderful people who do good things that help many people. The xians I know are horrid hypocritical bigots. I kid you not.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Nonimus

      The "main" difference within the two quotes you hold above my head is this,,,,

      1. PipeD quote: May all of you live one's Life austeriously and be it not with the too much stains of sin!

      2. PipeD quote: I too could care less about others who willingly sin... your eyes' out,,,, go right ahaed and keep on sinning!

      One quote or quote numbered is as one deals with hope(s) of sinning less while wuote numbered as two deals with one's willingness to sin while not really caring about one's willingness to continue on in sin. Point game set and match.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • momoya

      The sentiment of the first quote is meaningless unless it is better for a nonbeliever to sin less versus more..

      You're dumb, but not too dumb to understand that simple fact.

      April 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • eagle eye

      Sorry Pipe-Dreamer, I did not know that my response to you had to go thru the little girl filter of Momoya. Looks like she gets off on insulting people. Interesting, a pushy Atheist and her side kicks. Their Egos are overbearing.

      April 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • momoya

      And that's how a christian talks about the unsaved, folks.. Are lies and insults all you can muster for your god, here, beagle pie?

      (If you need me to point out what are your lies and insults, I can do that for ya!)

      April 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • beagle pie

      Their are no Christians here so I don't know what the unsaved means. I follow no religion, the beat of a different drummer. Do not need your opinions on lies and insults. If your feelings were hurt then I apologize. I will cut off my head and through it on the ground and stomp on it. (Allegory for maintaining my humility).

      April 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
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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.