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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. Everett Wallace

    Lets get past Jesus and get to know The Trinity. GOD THE FATHER GOD THE SON GOD THE HOLYSPIRIT all three are GOD and GOD THE FATHER is the GOD HEAD, and when you say there is only one GOD this is true because WE are one in Mind not body and only the SON Jesus is in the flesh. If you are blind may you see and if you cannot hear then there is a Big problem, things are about to take place which will let all know who the TRINITY is.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • momoya

      So just assertions with no proof?. How boring.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Goddog

      The Trinity is not a self evident fact. There was quite a heated debate over this until it was finally decided. I don't believe in any of them so I am free of that whole burden.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Madtown

      The Trinity is another creation of mankind. You can believe in God without it. It doesn't make much sense.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      The Trinity
      1 John 5:7
      "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

      The Word being Jesus Christ.

      April 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      John 1:1
      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

      April 19, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Scott

      RB-Excellent!

      April 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • mandarax

      Grease is the word, is the word that you heard, It's got groove it's got meaning.
      1 John (travolta)

      April 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • AGuest9

      John 1, 5-7:

      "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent by God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him."

      April 19, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • AGuest9

      The only ent.ities mentioned in the totality of the first chapter of John are (in order): god, John, son, Moses, Jesus Christ. It goes on to say that only the "Son, who is at the Father's side". There is no mention of a trinity in John. There continues to be a debate because of the multiple translations of the source materials for the New Testament, that the enti.ties father son spirit was likely misinterpreted from father and son in spirit, but that there were not three "individuals", hence, no "trinity".

      April 19, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  2. Trancend

    I trust the word of God as the infallable repository of redemptive revelation. Im not trying to Judge anyone.... For myself ...reading the word combined with sincere prayer.... yeilded an unmistakable presence within me of the Holy Spirit. Ive led quite a life of questioning and pushing boundrys... Ive had lots of man made "experiences"... this was different..... Way different....
    I know it's not popular... and some would say fairy tales etc. I've heard it all.... and was once on the other side.( For ME)... It's like seeing a new colour. Cant explain it to anyone else.... and thats the way its meant to be... so that you have the free will to decide to trust Jesus Christ as your saviour. I will say that afterward...the scriptures made sence to me . After God enabled me to Itranscend my own egoistic ordering of the "unknown dark matter" that surrounds us all. . read what I wrote (Trancend) and feel what Im saying without an ego defense.
    Why would someone take such a position unless they were truly changed by Christ. .......All I can say is...Its real.buddy.
    Let go and let god.
    I will not comment again.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Madtown

      Trancend
      I trust the word of God as the infallable repository of redemptive revelation
      --------
      You can certainly believe whatever you want, it's cool. But, you're referring here to the bible? At least show a degree of logic and common sense. The bible was written by men, edited by men, it's individual books selected by men....how can you honestly call it the "word of God"? Read it all you want, but just keep in mind it's the word of man – about God. Human beings are exceptionally imperfect. Everything we create is likewise imperfect. As such, the bible cannot possible be "infallible", as humans have created it.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  3. Transcend

    FOR ME PERSONALLY>
    I trusted the word of God as the infallable repository of redemptive revelation. Im not trying to Judge anyone.... For myself ...reading the word combined with sincere prayer.... yeilded an unmistakable presence within me of the Holy Spirit. Ive led quite a life of questioning and pushing boundrys... Ive had lots of man made "experiences"... this was different..... Way different....
    I know it's not popular... and some would say fairy tales etc. I've heard it all.... and was once on the other side.( For ME)... It's like seeing a new colour. Cant explain it to anyone else.... and thats the way its meant to be... so that you have the free will to decide to trust Jesus Christ as your saviour. I will say that afterward...the scriptures made sence to me . After God enabled me to Itranscend my own egoistic ordering of the "unknown dark matter" that surrounds us all. . read what I wrote (Trancend) and feel what Im saying without an ego defense.
    Why would someone take such a position unless they were truly changed by Christ. .......All I can say is...Its real.buddy.
    Let go and let god.
    I will not comment again.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • momoya

      You can't say, "it's real," in the same post where you talk about it being 'awe shucks, fellas, it's just what makes me happy, don't hate on my personal joy.". If you're going to say, "it's real," then you need some evidence to show HOW it is real..

      April 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  4. BurghThing

    can any believers on here tell me why god had to rest on the 7th day? why would an all powerful being need rest? does an all powerful being tire? (Genesis 2:2)

    April 19, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  5. John

    There is only one God as the Holy Bible says. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4)
    Jesus Christ is the Almighty God

    April 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • momoya

      Evidently, he's about 5 or 6, or a dozen or so if we trace the myths back far enough, I'm sure.
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg&w=640&h=390]

      April 18, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  6. NutGrinder

    Why are you intelligent folk trying to argue with a re-tard?

    April 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  7. HUMPMAN

    By the way Mandarax i would be worried about your own grammer before commenting on others. And it looks like cat got your tounge iff poor logic is your only response.

    P.S we are not in Englesh clas

    Idiot: check

    April 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • mandarax

      Surely this is some sort of parody...

      April 18, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  8. HUMPMAN

    So for all non believers out there my task for you is to take a gun and kill your enemy and do it when your on your death bed so you don't have to do time, why not there are no consiquences after life anyways right?

    April 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • mandarax

      Poor logic: check.
      Poor grammar: check.
      Poor spelling: check.

      April 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Mister Jones

      Umm ... If you are on your death bed, how do you propose to get a weapon and track down said enemy? Isn't the death bed the last place you go? I suppose you could call your enemy, and hope that they show up. And, are nice enough to bring you a loaded weapon ... Sorry, I can't continue. I tried to apply logic to your statement, and it completely fell apart. Let's talk about something that makes more sense like a drunken old man loading a boat with two of every animal. ... Like insects. Or penguins.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  9. mandarax

    Ever notice how it is usually the ones who can't construct a sound logical argument, and who often can't spell or write clear sentences, that are the most thoroughly convinced of God and Jesus? Makes you wonder if that's more than just a coincidence...

    April 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • mandarax

      Bell (2002) reported that 39 out of 43 studies show a negative relationship between IQ and religious belief. Killeen, Wildman and Wildman (1974) found a negative relationship between IQ and superst.itiousness. Alc.ock and Otis (1980) found that belief in paranormal phenomena correlated negatively with critical thinking ability.
      (North American Journal of Psychology / March, 2012)

      April 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • FELLOWTRAVELER2012

      First, I would gladly challenge you or anyone on any measure of IQ you want. It's amusing that many atheists believe that they are more intelligent than theists. The funny thing is I sometomes say that, "I, too, used to be THAT smart" . So convinced in the foolishness of religion when i was younger. So arrogant to believe that I actually had some kind of working model of life, the universe, and everything. As it has turned out, after many years of CRITICAL THINKING, discussion, debate and research, I have come to the conclusion that narrow atheists, those that expressly say there is no God, and narrow theists, those that say unequivocally that there is a God, are both some of the most illogical, irrational and naive people i have ever met. The fact is none of us knows the ultimate truth. Even if anyone actually does know, they could never really convince someone with an opposing opinion. So what's the point in debating these things? Just accept that your physical body will cease functioning one day, and at that time the only thing that will matter to you is, "Will something of who I am survive the physical death of my body?" We'll see......Peace to all!

      April 19, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • momoya

      @Fellow Traveler

      1. There does seem to be a correlation between intelligence and atheism.. (stats are out there)
      2. Maybe its more that atheists believe that they use reasoning better than theists..
      3. Please give a brief over of the "critical thinking, discussion, debate, and research" upon which you base your beliefs about whatever it is that you are trying to say about what you feel about about "narrow theists" (whatever that means) and the like.
      4. Ultimate truth is most likely unknowable–at least with a brain limited as ours are.. Don't you agree?!? Who would think that they have that?!?
      5. The point in debating is to discover what arguments have more sound reasoning and which have less sound reasoning.. It's a philosophical tool that helps us to determine fact from fiction.. You don't debate because you know everything; rather, you debate because you DON'T know much at all and want to learn more.
      6. Why should atheists believe in a being that they can't verify as existing?.
      7. Why should anybody believe in actions or behaviors or motives that can't be proven to exist or rely on a being that can't be proven to exist?

      thanks

      April 19, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • fellowtraveler2012

      For Momoya:
      1) Stats, as you may be aware, really can be used to show whatever you want. Don't like the result the stats are showing? Just increase your sample size until you come upon the result you were looking for. Also, even IF the majority of theists were less intelligent than atheists, as based on some agreed upon test, that would not in any way prove that atheists are right or should be given more credence. Most people, of varying degrees of intelligence, once believed the Earth was flat. Their belief did not make it so. Ultimate truth alweays trumps majority belief.
      2) I'm sure atheists DO believe they are reasoning better than theists, as theists believe that they are reasoning better. Once again, one's belief does not translate into truth.
      3)No way to give a "brief" overview. Way too lengthy a discussion. However, most everyone is either a narrow atheist (absolute rejection of even the possibility of God), or broad atheist (don't know one way or the other but lean towards there being no God), narrow theist (absolute belief in God), or broad theist(not sure either way but leaning toward belief in God). I am a broad theist.
      4) I agree that ultimate truth concerning God is unknowable. I actually said that in my first reply. Who thinks they have that? Narrow atheists and narrow theists. Hence my original point that both groups are ignorant and illogical.
      5)I understand the point of debate and the desire to get at truth. The problem occurs when varying sides in a debate don't realize the nature of the issue. Issues that have both an ultimate truth AND where that truth is either known or knowable, can be successfully debated. For example, if the issue up for debate is the shape of the Earth. The ultimate truth of God, however, is not knowable. Hence debating it is a waste of time no matter how entertaining it is:)
      6) I'm not saying atheists SHOULD believe in a being they can't see, but rather, they should think about at least the POSSIBILITY of the existence of something that can't be seen. Did you know that scientists have discovered that physical matter only makes up 5-15% of the universe? That the other 85-95% is composed of something that they refer to as dark matter/dark energy? We cannot see, touch, hear, measure, or in ANY way detect this so called dark energy/dark matter but they know it exists based on the effects it has on physical matter. Not sure what it is either, but the possibilities are interesting!
      7)Once again, i'm not saying anyone SHOULD or SHOULD NOT believe in any particular thing that can't be readily observed, but rather to encourage people to keep an open mind to possibilities.

      Thank you

      April 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • momoya

      1. No, the fact that more intelligence correlates with atheism does not disprove a god.. (That's why I used the word "correlate."). It does show that people who spend their lives dealing in reason and logic have a tendency to not believe that god belief is reasonable and logical..

      2. No, one's belief does not "translate" into truth.. One's belief shows what he finds to be reasonable.. Talking snakes and donkeys and god sacrificing himself to himself to appease himself because of an invisible disease (sin) that affects and invisible body part (soul) is going to keep god from getting his way and force god into punishing people eternally in a fire-lake that he built and sustains even though he says to forgive and love one's enemies-–sounds pretty fvcking illogical and unreasonable to me and most scientists..

      3. I'm not aware of any atheists or organizations that use the "broad/narrow" description for atheism.. I normally hear the terms "weak atheist," and "strong atheist," but those t!tles are misleading, too.

      4. Ultimate truth is unknowable because of the limited size of our brains.

      5. Only by debate can both sides realize a better understanding of what the issues are.. It's cowardice to run away from debate because you don't think it'll go the way you want and center on the issue you feel is most representative of the conflict.

      6. Most atheists have thought about the possibility of god way more than god believers do.. God believers use faith (because they have no evidence to build from like math or chemistry).. Since god believers use faith, they rarely consider the POSSIBILITY of god's existence and instead always consider god's existence to be factual.. (Yes, dark matter data is fascinating.)

      7. Atheists ARE open to possibilities.. That's why they don't believe.. They are open to the possibility of god's existence, but withhold belief until a plausible god hypothesis comes along.. God believers are the ones not open to possibilities because they only think on the particular god in which they already believe.. If a christian or muslim cannot open his mind up to the possibility of another type of god than his belief dictates, then the closed mind is his.. Atheists are free to discuss any possibilities about god because they don't have bias towards any gods when they begin their process of consideration.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  10. just sayin

    I wonder if Jesus told dirty jokes? Did his nuts ever itch and did he scratch them? Did he $ h!t? If he did, was it truly Holy $h !t? Did he pleasure himself? These things must be answered. God Bless

    April 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  11. Patrick

    ....if you can still love after having suffered tremendous tragedy and heart break than there is a god ...

    April 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      What does that have to do with whether there is a god or not?

      April 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • momoya

      ummm no, no it doesn't.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • mandarax

      See what I said above about constructing logical arguments....

      April 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • mandarax

      and spelling, for that matter.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Becky Flores

      To all who do not believe that there is a GOD; how do you think you got here? I believe in GOD, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. Amen.

      April 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • just sayin

      Well isnt that nice...... You have a mental illness and need help.

      April 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Becky, I would have thought that cosmology and evolutionary biology would have been studied at some point while you were in high school.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  12. Bill

    To me the proof of the existance of Christ is in how many people spend their whole lives trying to convince people He didn't exist. They're not out there saying "Scientology is BS!" and writing books about it because it simply doesn't matter. After all, that would be like devoting their life's work to the cause of prooving the Three Stooges weren't real. Nobody would buy the books because a) we already know and it doesn't matter anyway. But Jesus Christ matters. At some point every person on earth has to, and will, take a position on Christ. Why? Because He matters. Even the most entusiastic Athiest will agree on that point. After all, if Christ didn't exist why would there be Atheists ? I actually have a lot more respect for agnostics...at least they're not out there trying to disprove the very thing that justifies their existance. If I was Freke I think i'd be annoyed by the fact that the very thing I say I don't believe in has had such a huge impact on my life's work.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      If there was no christianity there would still be atheists because there are other religions. How stupid do you need to be to think that? Why would we try to disprove something we don't think even exists? Ever hear of counter-arguments? Do you know how a debate works? The only reason that jesus matters in this country is because idiotic zealots want to trample all over the first ammendment and legislate their religion.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • mandarax

      "To me the proof of the existance of Christ is in how many people spend their whole lives trying to convince people He didn't exist."

      By that logic, the proof God doesn't exist is in how many people spend their whole lives trying to convince people He exists. Continuing to follow your logic, the fact that there are so many MORE people trying to convince people that God does exist, that we can surely conclude that he doesn't. Why would they have to evangelize so hard, for so many centuries, by force when they can get away with it, if atheism didn't matter so much?!

      April 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Bill

      By your own argument, atheists who live in Islamic countries and speak out against Islam's control of social affairs would be proving Allah exists..

      Are you sure you still want to use that argument?

      April 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Behold the Man

      Hawaii, mandarax, and momaya – keep up the good work!

      April 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      Bill

      To me the proof of the existance of Christ is in how many people spend their whole lives trying to convince people He didn't exist.
      >
      I really don't think you understand rational and sound thought. You are a fine example of the mental illness and defective thinking in our society. All I can say iS WOW

      April 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  13. Trancend

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Trancend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ will result in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Currently.... your constructing your own path that suits your sin lifestyle.

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find a truth you can take with you in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life. You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf, the greatest minds knowledge fate or are eventually plagerzed, your good deeds are forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated, your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over .
    Trancend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Relise your a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent....

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth.

    Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment. You don't get what you want you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Down is up. Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.

    April 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • momoya

      Did that for almost 50 years.. Christianity is bunk; god is bunk; religion is stupid behavior justified.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Behold the Man

      "your constructing your own path that suits your sin lifestyle" – see, it's this type of arrogance that turns non-religious people away from religions. You believe that only you live properly and that others embrace sin.

      I know a lot of people who consider themselves religious and yet they commit some of the worst sins around. Priests defiling children, evangelicals fleecing their flock, even my in-laws ("good" catholics) hate most non-white races and feel they are free to screw over others to enrich themselves.

      April 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Madtown

      Trancend
      Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late.
      -----–
      I'm always curious, what about human beings born into this world into a country where christianity just isn't followed, say a primitive African tribe. What becomes of these human beings(creations of God), when they pass away from this world? They have no chance at eternal life? Sounds like you're saying that they would not, because they never came to know Jesus Christ. Of course, this is due to no fault of their own, so you wouldn't think a loving God would punish them for it. How do see this problem?

      April 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  14. Paul

    Momoya: Faith is needed for religion?
    Such a faith is based on realities, such as design indicates a designer. I put it to you, that more faith is need for non-belief in a God. You prove to me there is no God?
    You are telling me that we came from nothing and progressed to a complex life form? That my friend is a huge leap of faith. They call your science a theory, because it has not been proved. Design and purpose gives far greater evidence of a God and a sound reason for faith.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:51 am |
    • Big Art

      @ Paul:

      Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that you are right, and it is reasonable to posit some intelligence behind creation.

      Now talk to me, if you will, about how reasonable it is to posit that said intelligence chose one human (i.e., Abraham) to bless above all other beings in creation–said claim being made in a manner reflective of many other similar claims made by many other similar peoples (Common "pagan" refrain: "Our God likes us better than you heathens!").

      Now talk to me about further about how reasonable it is to posit that intelligence has & sent a "Son," the worship of whom bestows preferential treatment from said intelligence upon said Son's followers, preferential treatment both in this life and the afterlife–said claim being again made in a manner reflective of many other similar claims made by many other similar peoples (Common "pagan" refrain: "Worship our King-Savior-Deity and have eternal life!").

      I think I may not be too far from you on there being "Something Higher" . . . but how much that Intelligence has to do with the infanticidal, homicidal, genocidal, humanicidal potentate described in the Bible . . . ?

      "Peace 2 U!"

      April 18, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • mandarax

      Paul, of course your understanding of the meaning of theory is wrong and has been addressed over and over, so I won't bother here.

      As for accepting a natural understanding of human life requiring "faith," that is perhaps more complicated. Our understanding of evolution, cosmology, biogenesis, etc is not based on faith because none of those understandings are simply assumed to be true, nor are they accepted through revelation. They have been arrived at through generations of collecting evidence, making observations, and adjusting ideas according to that evidence. Unlike religion, science doesn't assert the answer and then look for evidence, it proposes answers based on evidence and then continually re-evaluates them based on more evidence. Evidence-based belief is the opposite of faith.

      That's the simple difference, but to be honest for someone who knows little about science and has not had access to a decent science education it DOES seem like faith. Because they only know the proposed answers (and generally know them secondhand), but they understand nothing of the evidence behind them, or the process by which those answers were arrived at. Learn more about science, and you will see the difference more clearly.

      April 18, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • momoya

      @ Paul

      Yes, all religions need faith; they need faith as a "reason" to believe what has no verifiable proof.. We don't need to have faith when we do a math problem, we just use the emergent and obvious rules of mathematics.. Hindus and Muslims and Christians alike see the common sensibility of mathematics and use them as they have been proven to work.. Religion and cults have no such emergent principles, and if they did, everyone would see the common sensibility and use those emergent principles to work out a universal method of approaching god..

      If you'd like to prove that this universe has a designer, you first have to prove that it was designed.. If we had other universes we could see and test, perhaps we would find that indeed, some universes are designed and some aren't, and our universe seems as if it was one of the ones that was designed.. Incredulity is not proof of design.. Just because you can't understand the workings of the universe does not mean that a being who does understand it brought it into being.. I don't think that it takes much faith at all to insist that the universe was designed, because our minds work by searching for and finding patterns (designs) that help or hurt our survival.. But those people who believe our universe was designed have no method of showing that their particular, personal god is the one that designed the universe–they rely on faith for that sort of leap.

      The person making the claim must provide the proof.. You are making the claim that god exist; therefore, YOU must provide proof.. So far no god believer has provided proof, and any claim introduced without evidence can be dismissed without evidence... (If you simply assume your god exists, then I can simply assume he doesn't–since my position doesn't require any additional knowledge or facts, my position is the favorable one).. Atheists aren't claiming that god does not exist; atheists are claiming that the argument for god is invalid since it has no evidence.. There's no reason for the atheist to consider your god unless you provide evidence..

      NO, I am NOT telling you that we came from "nothing and progressed to a complex life form.". I claim that "nothing" never exists; there is always "something.". However, we do not understand most forms of energy and matter, so sometimes we see only quantum possibilities in places where you might say "nothing" is.. It's not a huge leap of faith to understand how complex life arose within the mechanism of our universe and on this planet.. It is somewhat surprising, but considering the infinite possibilities of matter it's not unreasonable–and here we are..

      It takes much more faith to believe in a god than not.. If you believe that complexity requires a designer, then you must believe that your god's complexity required a designer, and that god required a designer, and that god required a designer.. By FAITH, you claim that only minor forms of complexity need a designer.. By faith, you claim that the superior complexity of your god does NOT require a designer, but the inferior complexity of the universe requires a designer.. It takes a lot more faith to believe that then that we don't know how the universe came about.

      I don't call "[my] science a theory," and I have no idea what that even means... Some branches of science have theories, but that doesn't mean that we haven't proved much of the theory.. If you have a way to arrange the scientific data more efficiently and in a manner that makes more sense, then you are welcome to show your work to the scientific community and claim your Nobel prize and see your theory taught in classrooms and lecture halls across the world.

      The "design argument" fails because it has MORE application with MORE design; therefore, it CANNOT be used solely for the god of this universe, but MUST be used for god's complexity, and that god's complexity and so on and so on.. Science simply says that we don't know certain things, but we might know in the future.. So, we keep open any possibilities and don't use faith at all.. Plugging in the answer "goddidit" is LESS useful than simply saying, "don't know yet, let's keep looking," just like we atheists say about all of humanity's gods..

      April 18, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  15. Isaiah

    There is only one God as the Holy Bible says. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4) The Bible gives attributes of deity to God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit of God. We also know that there are not three God’s, they are One.

    "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18) Jesus Christ is not a created being. People are created and we can be adopted by God to be His children. But Jesus the Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" (Galatians 4:4-6)

    April 17, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Paul

      What do you think "only begotten" son means?
      And why does God call him his son?

      Jesus is not part of God in a supposed "trinity".

      April 18, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • Big Art

      @ Paul:

      You said: "Jesus is not part of God in a supposed 'trinity'."

      Please explain? So is he part of God in some other way? Or is he not part of God at all? And if not at all, who is he, and why should we care?

      "Peace 2 U!"

      April 18, 2012 at 4:13 am |
  16. jim

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Trancend the world illusion of enslavement. The world denounces truth.... Accepting Jesus Christ will result in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you. Currently your constructing your own path that suits your sin lifestyle. Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food .
    Just think if you can find a truth you can take with you in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life. You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf, the greatest minds knowledge fate or are eventually plagerzed, your good deeds are forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated, your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over .
    Trancend you egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Relise your a sinner and part of the collective problem... Repent.... Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence. Faith above reason in Jesus Christ. Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth. Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment. You don't get what you want you get what you are in christ. I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .
    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?
    Down is up. Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    April 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Mortimer Sneed

      What do you have to lose? How about 10% of your income. But if you enjoy your faith, go ahead and enjoy believing what you believe but remember to keep the 11th commandment, "Keep thy religion to thyself".

      April 17, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • PsiCop

      Re: "Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late."

      Why should I? Who are you to give me orders? And what are you going to do about it, if I refuse?

      I ask these things not to be confrontational, but only to illustrate that, if we were talking about anything other than religion, your declarations and mandates would be laughable, and carry no force at all.

      April 17, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Paul

      PsiCop; You have free will and no one is forcing you. But of course you will reap the consequences of your choice. You will never be forced, your choice to live or die!

      April 18, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • Madtown

      But of course you will reap the consequences of your choice.
      -----
      How would you know? And, what of people on this earth in a different country, who've never had the chance to hear/learn about Christ and the christian way? Do they also reap the consequences, through no fault of their own?

      April 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  17. WlliamZReeves

    The Chinese don't belive in Jesus.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  18. Jesus is God Almighty!

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    John 3:16

    April 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Esther

      כי ככה אהב האלהים את העולם עד אשר נתן את בנו האחד והיחיד שלו, כי כל
      המאמין בו לא יהיה יחיה חיי נצח

      April 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Esther

      Denn so hat Gott die Welt geliebt, dass er seinen einzigen Sohn hingab, damit jeder, der an ihn glaubt, nicht zugrunde geht, sondern ewiges Leben

      April 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Or

      לדמיין, לדמות, לפנטז

      Phantasie

      Fantasy

      April 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Jesus was a man, not a myth or a legend.

    April 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Faith
      Hebrews 11: 8-16
      By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in mult.itude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • just sayin

      Robert, only the Book of Harry Potter matters.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      No, but it is really good entertainment. My kids enjoy Harry.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • momoya

      FAITH, it's what gives religions use instead of plausibility; thus, a given god believer requests the non-believer use it for his god belief alone, not with any other sorts of god belief.

      April 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Really?

      Proving the existence of a man called Jesus by the Bible is no proof. There must be traces of historical facts. This is where the whole thing falls apart as there seem to be none. I'm reading the book and there seems to be many falseness that we have been taught by the Church (Catholic mainly) about the true Christ. The high crimes of that church are unforgivable.

      April 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  20. Hart

    Jesus came to show and teach people to care, to show love, understanding, kindness, to be noble, selfless, non-judgemental and accepting of others and their environment. Calling oneself a Christian means trying to follow his teachings even though being human we will make mistakes. Being a Christian does not mean being perfect or the best or the only worthy of God’s love. It means being humble and non assuming no matter what position or achievements one has in life.
    Jesus is a forgiving and loving God he knows our true weaknesses & with his spiritual guidance people will achieve true inner peace.
    However unfortunately there are people who use Jesus’ and God’s name in vain for their own gain. People who might call themselves Christians but do not know the meaning of being a Christian.
    Jesus existed and exists, there is so much that people cannot comprehend but need to have faith. "We walk by faith, not by sight." (I Corinthians 5:7)

    April 17, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • momoya

      All religions explain how faith is needed for belief.. What NO god believer can explain is why a person should use faith for his religion but not for the other religions ..

      You do realize that had you been born in a different country or in a different time period you'd be defending whatever religion/god you were brought up to believe in?

      April 17, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • mandarax

      As I have argued before, whenever you are required to believe in something in advance, and the evidence is invisible until you convince yourself to believe – you can bet you are being taken for a ride.

      That's why sugar pills "work," that's why faith healing "works," that's why pyramid power, Reiki healing, magnetic bracelets, and yes, that's why prayer "works." Things that actually have a physical effect work whether you believe in them or not.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Faith
      Romans 10: 9-17, That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
      For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Faith
      Hebrews 11: 1-7
      Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Faith
      Hebrews 11:17-22
      By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Faith
      Hebrews 11:23-31
      By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Faith
      Hebrews 11:32-40
      And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being dest.itute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Faith
      Hebrews 12: 1-2
      Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:44 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.