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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. mwanga denis

    Why waste time on someone who has never existed?
    It is hard to convince someone who has ever tasted the BEING of JESUS CHRIST.
    The bible is clear, it talks about the Messiah from Gen to Rev.
    Is there a difference between Goliath and David?
    Then we will separate Light from darkness using the same Book.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • momoya

      It's pretty easy to distinguish between light and darkness without any book.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things*.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      * ignore fake Jesus posts it never provided proof

      April 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • otto

      Prayer helps people to justify flying planes into buildings,......so yes prayer changes alot.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:12 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! ~,~ ;-P"

      April 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Jesus

      "ignore fake Jesus posts it never provided proof"

      More lies and desperation proving my posts continue to be correct. LOL!

      April 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  3. make your own Jesus

    To argue that Jesus existed or not is really a futile effort. What I find interesting is how after more than 200 years we are still talking about this man. Would those who think Jesus existed be more faithful if proof is found? What would those who don't believe in his existence do if somehow their claim is validated? Perhaps it was purposely intended for Jesus existence not to be proven so that we, as believers or non-believers, can't draw conclusions to justify or excuse our own inadequacies and shortcomings utilizing a religion or in this case, Jesus. Let's worry about our own existence and see how much we are doing to make the existence of others easier and worth living...

    April 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      ah yes, and then we can kill our babies, build nuclear bombs to destroy our selves, and ultimately become extinct and forgotten. Great plan!

      April 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • momoya

      You do realize that your argument can be used for any of the other gods we still discuss today, right?. In fact, many of the gods being discussed today have survived a lot longer than Jesus.. Some of those gods were believed in longer and more fervently than Jesus..

      April 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • momoya

      AH, that's a really stupid argument considering the vile and disgusting acts christians have done throughout the ages and in the United States over the past 300 years or so..

      The tenets of christianity were used by believers to support:

      Manifest Destiny - whereby perhaps 50 million Native Indians were slaughtered in horrific ways by christians who believed Indians had no soul and could not be saved

      Slavery - whereby the entire culture of contents were drastically shifted by believers who observed slavery in the bible and treated blacks and others as sub-human.

      Atomic Bombs - all built and ordered by believers in government

      Murder - countless acts of murder have been committed by believers.. These conflicts were either justified by religion or carried out by believers who used personal justification for killing other humans

      April 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • otto

      "build nuclear bombs to destroy our selves, and ultimately become extinct and forgotten. Great plan!"

      People of faith are working overtime to bring about the end of the world, people without faith would rather stick around.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  4. Atheist Hunter

    The Roman historian and senator Tacitus referred to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate and the existence of early Christians in Rome in his final work, Annals (written ca. 116 AD), book 15, chapter 44.[1]

    The context of the passage is the six-day Great Fire of Rome that burned much of the city in 64 AD during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero.[2] The passage is one of the earliest non-Christian references to the origin of Christianity, the execution of Christ described in the Canonical gospels, and the presence and persecution of Christians in 1st-century Rome.[3][4]

    Scholars generally consider Tacitus's reference to the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate to be both authentic, and of historical value as an independent Roman source, [5][6][7] In terms of an overall context, historian Ronald Mellor has stated that the Annals is "Tacitus's crowning achievement" which represents the "pinnacle of Roman historical writing".[8]

    The passage is also of historical value in establishing three separate facts about Rome around 60 AD, namely that there was a sizable number of Christians in Rome at the time, that it was possible to distinguish between Christians and Jews in Rome and that at the time pagans made a connection between Christianity in Rome and its origin in Judea.[9][10]

    April 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • momoya

      100 years provides plenty of time for a myth to be established, especially when it piggybacks on previous myths that already inform the minds of the culture.. The myth of Paul Bunyan and other figures in American folklore arose in mere years or decades..

      April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Brilliant!

      April 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Know What

      Atheist Hunter,

      Do you think that George Washington really had wooden teeth? Chopped down a cherry tree as a kid? Threw a silver dollar across the Potomac? These were/are widely broadcast legends. Fortunately, in this day and age, we are able to track them down and debunk them... unfortunately, this was not done in the old Ages of Gullibility.

      http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/historical/a/presidents.htm
      http://www.mountvernon.org/content/facts-falsehoods-about-george-washington-0
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folklore_of_the_United_States

      April 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  5. Adam

    CNN you disgust me. Never talking about truth. That's why I come here. Just to see how much more s*** you've put into this dam toilet you call a news agency.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  6. J.W

    Can't we all just agree that every deity is real?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • LinCA

      That depends on your definition of "real".

      April 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • mandarax

      I can easily agree that they are all equally real.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  7. Atheist Hunter

    Bible Shy? Then.....
    Josephus, in the book Jewish Antiquities" wrote:

    "At that time lived Jesus, a wise man, if he may be called a man; for he performed many wonderful works. He was a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. . . .And when Pilate, at the instigation of the chief men among us, had condemned him to the cross, they who before had conceived an affection for him did not cease to adhere to him. For on the third day he appeared to them alive again, the divine prophets having foretold these and many other wonderful things concerning him. And the sect of the Christians, so called from him, subsists at this time" (Antiquities, Book 18, Chapter 3, Section 1).

    April 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • pooryorick23

      The "scholarly consensus" regarding this passage is that it is based on an authentic paragraph, though a later Christian editor may have modified it a bit. For example, Josephus would not have said "He was the Christ"

      But I agree that it is very good proof that Jesus was an actual person, along with the other two references in Josephus about Jesus.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Know What

      Josephus was a Jew. He remained a Jew until he died. Don't you think that if he really believed that this preacher, Jesus, was the Messiah - "God" - he would have joined up with the new cult?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • TR6

      "At that time lived Jesus”

      With this line Josephus admits he never actually met jesus and everything that follows is just repeated gossip. Repeated gossip is all the “proof” anyone has the jesus actually existed.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  8. Atheist Hunter

    Our calendar is based upon the birth of Jesus both counting backwards (BC) before His birth and forwards (AD) after His birth. Why would we base our calendar on a myth?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • LinCA

      Sleep though history classes, didn't you?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      B.C. (adv) – Bing Dictionary
      B.C.before birth of Jesus Christ: used to indicate a date that is a particular number of years before the traditional date of the birth of Jesus Christ

      The meaning of AD is Anno Domini or Year of our Lord referring to the year of Christ’s birth. The meaning of BC is Before Christ. CE is a recent term. It refers to Common Era and is used in place of A.D. BCE means Before Common Era.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • JSMAN

      I find it unbelievable that CNN would run an article like this on the most important day of the Christian calendar. Whoever allowed this article to be posted on Easter day needs to be fired on the spot. To say the least, this was terribly insensitive, not to mention blasphemous. Sure, rational debate is healthy; just don't do it on Easter Sunday. At least show a little respect for the worldview that helped build the USA and gave us schools such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Oxford.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • momoya

      AH, by that argument Thor is real because of "Thursday.". I mean, why would we base our week on a myth??!?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Know What

      Atheist Hunter,

      The B.C./A.D dating system was the brainchild of a monk named Dionysius in the 6th century. The Church was very powerful in those days and controlled many aspects of society... still, his dating system took hundreds of years (nearly 1000) to be inst-ituted world-wide. Many cultures still keep their ancient calendars going on the side.
      Tip: If you find a coin or sculpture stamped with the original date of 222 A.D. or something like that, don't pay over a nickel for it.

      - and -

      Every week (52 times per year) in English-speaking places we have:

      Tuesday = Tiu's day (Norse god)
      Wednesday = Woden's day (Norse god)
      Thursday = Thor's day (Norse god)
      Friday = Frigga's day (Norse goddess)
      Saturday = Saturn's day (Roman god)

      And every year we have entire months named:

      January = in honor of Janus (Roman god)
      February = Roman purification rite, februa
      March = in honor of Mars (Roman god)
      April = in honor of Aphrodite (Greek goddess)
      May = in honor of Maia (Roman goddess)
      June = in honor of Juno (Roman goddess)

      April 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • momoya

      @JSMAN

      Sorry to disappoint you, but i'll not be showing any respect to a religion that says a perfect, loving, caring god is going to torture people with fire for all eternity.. That's disgusting, and I have no intention of keeping silent on that point.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Eric

      Before the gregorian calendar there were MANY other calendars that were based on religions you assumedly believe to be false. So why is the calendar that coincides with your beliefs REAL while the others are dismissed as based on mythology? Oh, because it coincides with YOUR beliefs and not other peoples'.

      But if you must, keep giving the church your money, then, believer. The pope needs another golden chalice to drink from while the poor of the world he's supposed to be helping die of starvation.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • mandarax

      Good response, Know What.

      Atheist Hunter: what pathetic reasoning!

      April 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      I never said Satan didn't exist. He just use names like thor, etc.

      Anno Domini (abbreviated as AD or A.D.) and Before Christ (abbreviated as BC or B.C.) are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars. This calendar era is based on the traditionally reckoned year of the conception or birth of Jesus of Nazareth, with AD counting years after the start of this epoch, and BC denoting years before the start of the epoch. There is no year zero in this scheme, so the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC. This dating system was devised in 525, but was not widely used until after 800.[1]

      April 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      momoya
      ....You torture yourself. He's not leading you to hell, you're going there on your own.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • otto

      "Why would we base our calendar on a myth?"

      January
      Named after the Roman god of beginnings and endings Janus (the month Januarius).

      February
      The name comes either from the old-Italian god Februus or else from februa, signifying the festivals of purification celebrated in Rome during this month.

      March
      This is the first month of the Roman year. It is named after the Roman god of war, Mars.

      April
      Called Aprilis, from aperire, "to open". Possible because it is the month in which the buds begin to open.

      May
      The third month of the Roman calendar. The name probably comes from Maiesta, the Roman goddess of honor and reverence.

      Well your logic makes all these gods real too.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • momoya

      AH, you seem to have no idea at all how logic works..

      I claim that it is wrong and foolish to worship a god who would even build an eternal torture chamber–regardless of if I or anybody else goes there or not.. Just because you base all your logic on selfish motives doesn't mean others do.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • momoya

      @AH

      So this is the logic you've laid out:

      Jesus = True because of the calendar
      Thor = True but a being entirely different than how Thor has ever been described ever (no logic provided for this silly reasoning)

      By your logic, I can say, "Jesus is true but a being entirely different than how Jesus has ever been described ever."

      I'm cool with that.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • TR6

      So the fact that it is convenient to use a reference system created by religiously trained “intellectuals” in the middle ages when the Christian religion ruled the western world is your best “evidence” for the existence if jesus? I’ve seen better evidence for the existence of UFOs

      April 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • TR6

      @Atheist Hunter;”momoya ....You torture yourself. He's not leading you to hell, you're going there on your own.”

      If heaven is going to be filled with the likes of you, child buggering priests and the blessed televangelists, I would much rather hang out in the other place with Momoya and Gandhi

      April 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • WASP

      @momoya and TR6: i'll bring the beer for the party down stairs. couldn't think of spending eternity with stuck up, holier than thou christian freaks.....i would hang myself in heaven if that happens. lmfao. now i have met some christians i wouldn't mind chilling with.....but very few.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • momoya

      Yep.. Even if I did believe in the god of the bible, I would ask him to send me to hell rather than enjoy his company.. I just don't think I have anything to discuss with a being who would commit such violence and horror of his own free will..

      April 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • whattyaknow

      "The Church was very powerful in those days and controlled many aspects of society..."

      @ Know What..

      NOT only "those days" but also TODAY.

      I have some tip for you: Get it over with, already.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • WASP

      @AH: seeing you're a bit out of date. we currently use BCE and DCE. Before Current Era and During Current Era.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      " but i'll not be showing any respect to a religion that says a perfect, loving, caring god is going to torture people with fire for all eternity.."
      When one understands the depth of pain and suffering that it costs God to redeem us, then it is not hard to understand the reason for severity of penalty for rejecting what He offered to us, fallen human race. Why do you, anf peopel lioke you, think God commanded His people to tell others, to preach to them the goodness and mercy of God that's extended to them?!
      Yet you, AND people such as yourself interpret it as annoying, show-down- the- throat nuisance, and label us who do so with all kinds of derogatory names.... Has it ever occurred to you that it is because of caring for your souls that we do it, because we know what is awaiting you?!

      But I rejoice in God's justice! And if those whoo refuse Him do so because their rebelion and hatered for God, because of love of sin that's in them, then God is JUSTIFIED for letting them go their own way, which leads to HELL. Because if they didn't want Him as their father, they have to go then to satan whom they chose to be their father. There is no middele ground! That's very simple to understand, and doesn't require an atorney to explain the logic of it to you! You should be able to reason this out, since you'ra the ones that ar ethe reasonable ones!

      April 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Commenter

      Prism,

      We can tell so much about a person by how his imaginary god behaves...

      I am so glad that you were not my parent. Can anyone out there imagine what it'd be like living under the control of this @Prism person? I hope that you do not live anywhere near me - I hate to think of you being a co-worker or neighbor or having any interaction with you at all.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  9. Candace

    People shouldn't question his existence

    April 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • HumanistJohn

      Why?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • mandarax

      ...because gods are fragile things.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  10. Atheist Hunter

    Any careful and objective study of the facts that surround Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection will convince anyone that Jesus is real and that He is who He said He was. Many people have done research specifically to discredit the reality of Jesus and who He claimed to be or examined their atheistic beliefs and ended up proclaiming the truth of Jesus and the Bible. Some of these that have written their story in a book include Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, Sir William M. Ramsey, and Randall Niles.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Clark1355

      What facts? And where did you get them? You cant tell me that the gospels are reliable. They were written at least 70 years after Jesus supposedly died and written in Greek. I dont know if I would base an entire religion on such flimsy information.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  11. pooryorick23

    The three reasons given for Jesus not existing:
    – Pagan stories. I'll give you this one.
    – No credible source outside Bible. How about Josephus? I thought everyone agreed that at least part of his paragraph on Jesus is genuine.
    – Paul never mentioned a historical Jesus. Flat wrong. 1 Corinthians 15:3 – "... that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried..." It's tough to die and be buried if you didn't "historically" exist.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Eric

      Spongebob squarepants died and was buried. There, since i wrote it, he must exist. Nobody would ever write something down to make themselves seem more credible. Just wouldn't happen.

      Hard to die and be buried if he didn't exist, right?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Jason Bibbs

    Hey John Blake, if you have any balls why don't you write about Allah or mohamad or whatever they call him

    April 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • momoya

      How do you know that he hasn't already done so?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  13. Atheist Hunter

    Raising the potential mythology of Jesus is a fair question and believing in the Jesus myth is an acceptable position as long as such a conclusion is based upon a careful, unbiased examination of the evidence and not based upon what we want to believe. Many of us may want to jump to that conclusion just to avoid our responsibility toward God and to our neighbors that we would be forced to consider if Jesus is real and is who He says He is.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • momoya

      AH, I think the sort of confirmation bias you warn against is much more prevalent among believers than atheists.. The atheist has no god belief to get in the way of his fact finding in the matter, whereas the theist has his entire "forever" at stake..

      What motive has the christian to research the facts honestly if there is a chance that their faith might be shown misplaced?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Candace

      A MYTH! JESUS LIVES, WHAT A SAD THING TO THAT PEOPLE QUESTION THAT

      April 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • momoya

      It's interesting that we can debate whether or not Jesus and the bible is a myth, but we can't debate whether or not math and chemistry are myths.. Hmmm.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • momoya

      It's interesting that we can debate whether or not Jesus and the bible is a myth, but we can't debate whether or not math and chemistry are myths.. Hmmm..

      April 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Play Jerry

      Atheist Hunter,

      Do you know that plagiary is a 'sin'? Is your copy/paste authorized? - Copyright © 2002 – 2012 AllAboutJesusChrist.org, All Rights Reserved - just to name 'one' of your instances of this...

      April 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • momoya

      Yep.. Even if I did believe in the god of the bible, I would ask him to send me to hell rather than enjoy his company.. I just don't think I have anything to discuss with a being who would commit such violence and horror of his own free will.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  14. Atheists are myth

    They exist but only LESS.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • momoya

      Structurally speaking, that's not even a sentence (does not have all the necessary parts to be one)..
      Logically speaking, it doesn't contain any at all..

      conclusion: must be another christian

      April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  15. Atheists are myth

    "The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth"

    HE is both man and GOD!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • momoya

      But according to quantum physics he can only be determined to be one or the other at any given time?

      You do realize how stupid it is to say that a person or thing is 100% one thing while being 100% something else, too?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  16. Miserry beastmas

    The (666) beast has just been born, today. Best reason for all atheists and all other anti-christ to celebrate.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      What?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Miserry beastmas

      Bette start hunting

      April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Don' need too, I'm in a nest of em.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • momoya

      It's just that your bullets are made of fluff and your aim is so terrible..

      April 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      I'm fishing and you're nibbling right now momoya!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • momoya

      Hunting and fishing are two different things, AH.. Why are you changing horse analogies mid-stream?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • LIss

      Good thing I'm good hunter....
      You want to the use the damn Bible as your reference, you best get your reference straight.
      Just because you don't want to listen to a calm debate, doesn't mean you have to call "Anti-Christ".
      Its people like you who screw this world up and give Christianity and religion as a whole a bad name.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  17. steama

    MYTH! Nothing more to say.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Jesus Lives!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Cousin Ned

      @Atheist Hunter
      Jesus Lives in the minds of simpletons everywhere.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  18. Miserry beastmas

    The beast has just born, today. Best reason for atheists and all other anti-christ to celebrate.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  19. Reality

    ONE MORE TIME – 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 10, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Reality is Jesus Lives! You're blinded! So sad!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      Only for the newcomers---------

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  20. Samantha

    Jesus was real. VIsit the Creation Museum in Cinci, OH. You'll learn alot. I will pray for you none believers. :)
    God Bless:)
    also watch the passions of christ

    April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Andrew

      Is that the museum where they show dinosaurs and man co-existing together? What a joke!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      The Creation Museum is a $27 million investment in the propagation of Old Testament mythology at the expense of human knowledge, intended to further reinforce the ignorance of the gullible, and keep far more millions flowing into the offering baskets of fundamentalist churches nationwide.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • anon

      You do know that the screenplay for the Passion of the Christ was used by Goebbels to incite hatred of Jewish before WW2. Also it turns out Mel Gibson is anti semitic so if that is your basis for believing it is seriously warped. The creation museum is a jok that place shows people riding dinosaurs like horses. It is a fact that never happened as there is this globally occurring geologic formation called sedimentary layers. Look it up. The layers show a time table. Within that time table it shows that dinosaur bones were there a very very long time before the earliest man or even apes were walking or crawling on earth. Please stop consuming our precious oxygen.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Madtown

      watch the passions of christ
      ----
      Mel Gibson's movie?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • CR

      @ Anon – you saying the Flintstones is a lie? If dinosaurs and man did not coexist, then how did the cave men power their elevators huh?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:28 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.