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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. tony

    Im a christian. but im just curious on what you guys think... what would happen after we die??., just curious..

    April 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • mandarax

      I assume by "you guys," you mean non-believers. I imagine that since there is no sacred doctrine that everyone is required to accept, that we hold a variety of opinions.

      For me, I would adamantly insist that I don't know – and neither does anyone else – but I would also point out that doesn't mean that it is equally probable that there is nothing, or that some non-physical essence of you will separate from your brain and body and ascend to another dimension where it will be judged by an immortal supernatural being and either allowed into paradise or condemned to eternal torture. Based on what we currently know about the universe, one of those is much less probable than the other.

      The best evidence we have of what it is like not to be alive is what it was like before we were born. We have no memories of that whatsoever, and thus there is nothing to suggest we existed outside our bodies. From what we can observe, a person does not have a consciousness or an existence before their nervous system forms, and doesn't continue to exist after their nervous systems fail.

      Just my two cents, but of course I don't know. Keep in mind as you are being told elaborate stories that no one else knows either.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Mike Kusiak

      I am responding to John Blake's article above datet April 7, 2012 and the Osirus name that was discovered. This will also bolster evidence on one side of the Jesus debate.
      Very few people in the world know that the biblical Lazarus story has been told before. Actually, the New Testament’s cast and crew used a variation of the same names found in, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, aka. The Papyrus of Ani. Before these writings went into print on paper, they were written in hieroglyphics on pyramids and carved on the exterior of a deceased person's sarcophagus (stone coffin). The essence of the Egyptian story and the New Testament copy are the same. They both tell the story of living again as a result of death. To the literal, it’s the physical rebirth from death and to the spiritual, it’s the allegoric spirit’s rebirth. Based on historic writings, the story was equally misinterpreted then, as it is now.
      Now let’s look at this same story copied from the original Egyptian hieroglyphics written on pyramids in Egypt. They are referred to as the ‘Pyramid Texts located at the Necropolis of Saqqara. They date back from 2700-2200 B.C.
      A few of the key features in common with both stories are, ‘Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead’ vs. Horus raising ‘El-Azar-Us’ or ‘El-Osiris’ from the dead. Another is ‘Bethany’, where Lazarus lived. Bethany is Egyptian for ‘Beth-anu’ which means House of the Sun.
      Lazarus was dead and in the grave for four days and was raised back to life. The fourth day of the well established Egyptian winter solstice was December 25th. This was the day that the sun came back to life after its allegoric dying, which is the shortening of daylight hours. On this date, the Egyptians celebrated the new birth of the sun. That was the same date that Mary gave birth to the spirit which in the Biblical story line was depicted in the material life of Jesus. On that date the sun/son was born. This entire story is found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
      The story of the human Jesus, the physical Saviour, was supposed to put an end to Moses’ law and the materialism of the world that Moses created. But no one ever looked behind the veil of Moses. The fundamental Jesus actually turned man further away from the spirit and strengthened his material view.
      Interestingly, this was not the first attempt to close man’s spiritual eye. Throughout history, there have been more than sixteen such saviours which through various stories depict the life, death and resurrection of a supernatural human. When one begins to see through the metaphor, he realizes that he goes right back to light vs. darkness, spirit vs. material, subconscious vs. conscious. A look at the other similar saviour stories can be read in two other books, The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Kersey Graves,1875 and The Anacalypsis, by Sir Godfrey Higgins, 1833.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Mike Kusiak

      Jonas is the prophet depicted as being in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights. Jon 1:17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. This is another winter solstice symbolism. The fish is symbolic of Christianity. Fish in that verse in Hebrew is ‘dagah’ which means, “to cover over, to be dark.” Christianity is the great cover of darkness. It hides Eternity from the mind. That symbol is proudly displayed by Christians all over the world.
      His emerging from the belly of fundamental Christianity is his spiritual rebirth from the darkness of the literal word. Peter was the son of Jonas, yet remained in darkness. Jonas emerged from the fish. Peter did not. He could not comprehend spiritual rebirth, He remained fundamental in his understanding. Thus the definition of Peter is ‘rock’.
      Mat 12:39 “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” Christians are still waiting for the chance to deny having the triple six tattooed on their forehead or right hand, but there shall be no physical sign given to them. The metaphoric sign is already there. Hopefully now they can see it.
      Jonas demonstrated rebirth out of the great fish of Christianity, while his human son Peter remained hard and seeking a sign. The Church was built on this rock and the followers unknowingly did receive their allegoric sign, on their right hand and forehead. This literally is the sign of the cross enforcing belief in the triple six trinity which they brought to fruition.
      Mat 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” His Holy Spirit is the strength of the fundamental Church.
      Then in the verse above, Jesus said to Peter, “when you were young,” meaning when you were still a Gentile, a child, you walked where you pleased, you were free. “But when you get old,” is the time when you fell behind Moses’ vail. During this time, another (spirit) shall gird thee and carry thee where you would not go on your own. This is the time of Semitic belief and conscious slavery.
      “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.” Peter did not comprehend the allegoric death and rebirth demonstrations throughout the Bible.

      April 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  2. Cain

    •He believes that “there are many paths to the same place,” and he doesn’t believe that God would “consign four-fifths of the world to hell” for not believing the gospel.
    •When asked about his belief in the afterlife, he says he doesn’t know if there is one.
    •Obama defines “sin” as “being out of alignment with my values.”
    •Obama says that one need not embrace “Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior” to avoid judgment.
    •When asked “Who’s Jesus to you,” what Obama didn’t say is as important as what he did say. He confesses Jesus to be a “historical figure” and “wonderful teacher” but says nothing about Jesus being a Savior, Messiah, or Son of God.
    •He confesses that he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to his own church’s “set of doctrines.”

    April 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • mandarax

      I am personally reassured by every one of those statements. It's when I hear powerful people say the opposite that I get anxious.

      April 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Blakers

      Sounds like an atheist to me.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:26 am |
  3. TheMostWise

    Every reasonable person knows it's a myth....Every delusional person believes in its magic....There are not two realities..
    Rational people recognize the 'only reality'.....there are no gods, devils, angels, hells or other magical characters. Deluded minds will cling to these ridiculous ideas because they..."want to believe them".....not because they have evidence that they are real...because there is no such evidence...thus they are fairytales believed by deluded adults.

    April 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • James Kimble

      Having faith in the God who took on flesh and became man and dwelt among us, who died for us, who overcame the grave and lives today, having personally witnessed miraculous healings of people i"ve known all my life, having spoken a language that I never learned yet was clearly understood by someone who spoke that language, having a peace and joy in my life that is beyond anything that could be called "happiness"... that is my life. Say whatever you like, you can't take one moment away from me. Christ is real and He lives.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  4. Learn from a 7 year old

    Who is Jesus?

    A 7 year old-Jesus is God who existed before the world was formed.

    Shame on you on Blake even a 7 year old knows the answer to the question and it is never too late for you. Wisdom sometimes is found in the mouth of babes!

    April 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • mandarax

      Oh come on. That's not an original idea of a 7 year old, that is an idea that a 7 year old has been taught to think by the adults around him. That same 7 year old can tell you facts about the easter bunny. That does not consitltute wisdom.

      April 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Rsqdvr911

      Nice try..... Now can you please ask the same question to a fellow 7 year old child in the heart of the middle east and Hindu Kush mountain regions of South Asia, or from the Masai and zulu tribes in Africa, or from the mountains of Tibet and Nepal, or from the aboriginal tribes of Australia, or from a recently discovered Indian tribe in the heart of the Amazon rainforest of Brazil or Papua New Guinea, etc., as I am interested to know wisdom from them also and what their take on Lifes grandest mysteries are.

      April 22, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  5. Martin

    Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

    Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

    John 20

    April 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Get Real

      Martin,

      "Thomas said..." Suuuuure he did.

      And George Washington said, "I cannot tell a lie".
      And King Arthur pulled a sword from a stone.
      And Paul Bunyan carved out the Grand Canyon with a hoe.

      April 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  6. Jason

    Your religion is nothing more than the time and place you were born. If you had been born in the middle east, you'd probably be a Muslim. If you were born in India, you'd probably be Hindu. If you had been born in Europe 1500 years ago, you'd follow a pagan religion.

    Of the major historians in the Mediterranean at the time of Jesus, none mention him. Don't bother playing the Josephus card. It's been proven to be a forgery and as mentioned several times, he also thought Hercules was real.

    Here's the biggest part, Western religions are entirely ego based. "MY god revealed himself to ME because he loves ME. God hasn't chosen to speak to you because your heart isn't open. You're not doing things right. I am doing right." At least with Eastern Religions they get rid of the guilt and focus on eliminating the ego. Christianity is a joke....and this is coming from a former Christian with 30+ years of devotion.

    The fear of living without Christ is too much for most followers. They've been promised they're going to see their dead loved one's again. Who would want to miss out on that treat?

    And finally, the Bible says that people will not believe. Well, imagine that! A Jewish Zombie crawls out of a hole after being dead for 3 days, speaks a few riddles and then flies off into the sky and some of us choose not to believe that load of BS?

    April 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  7. janice

    I believe in a God who rose from the dead. If i didn't my faith would be in vain and all you unbeleivers would be in deep doodoo.The God I believe in does not fit into any kind of human thinking because He is God and NOT a man.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • momoya

      How exactly would unbeliever be in "deep doodoo" if YOUR faith was in vain?. Aren't unbeliever in for deep doo doo regardless of how vain or valid your faith is?

      April 22, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • mandarax

      momoya, I think it might be another example of a believer who is just unable to construct effective sentences, as opposed to presenting poor logic.

      April 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  8. Mike

    Jesus was just a man and religion is a mental illness. It's fiction and you know it!

    April 22, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  9. True

    As a Latter-day Saint (Mormon), here are just a few of my favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon about Jesus Christ.

    "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:26).

    "And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent" (Mosiah 3:17).

    "Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness" (Alma 7:14).

    "Behold, I [Mormon] am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life" (3 Nephi 5:13).

    "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning" (3 Nephi 11:10-11).

    April 22, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  10. Z

    "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."

    Um, Jesus couldn't have been born on December 25th. Censuses only occurred in the summer, not the winter.

    April 22, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  11. Glenn

    "looking for Jesus is like looking down a well. All you see is your own reflection."

    In a pagan world, it's not difficult to imagine who the mentally ill may have been. Just as many of the mentally ill today who grew up in a Christian world are forever lost. Some can cope with medications. The evolution of culture/religion is an exercise of mental health in which people have claimed to find the one right answer for all.

    This is not the way nature intended it to be. This is the result of culture/religion forcing their own perceptions on others. It happens in every culure. The devout beliefs of the Middle East suicide bomber reminds me of Jesus.

    The face of the mentally ill changes from culture to culture and from generation to generation.

    April 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  12. Sorvino

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfSp5-U2RFY&w=640&h=390]

    April 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • FaithIsNotAVirtue

      Wow, scary that these people are amongst us that can't make a decision without some imagined friend.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  13. Robert Brown

    Jesus is no myth. If you can’t accept the Bible and the testimony of millions of Christians then consider the writings by Josephus, Julian the Apostate, Tacitus, & Thallus. He was also written about in the Talmud.

    April 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Jones Dixon

      Spot on!!!!

      April 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Glenn

      In a world when knowledge was limited and the imagination ruled, why would anyone just accept ancient writings as the entire truth ?

      April 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Glen,

      If you can’t accept any historical accounts of Jesus, would you consider the testimony of Christians alive today?

      April 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Glenn

      I've already said I believe in Jesus as a man. I don't believe in things which defy nature. Because pigs don't fly and dolphins don't wander the forest don't assume it's an issue of all or nothing. I have nothing against some of the teachings. Never will I be a true Christian or a true ancient pagan. It just is not possible.

      April 21, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Yes, just take one teaching that leaves out all the supernatural. For example, love your neighbor as yourself. If everyone did that one thing it would virtually end all crime and wars. That is pretty amazing coming from a simple carpenter 2000 years ago.

      April 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Glenn

      Yes and I believe in human rights today.

      April 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • BurghThing

      if you accept the writings of Tacitus and Josephus than Hercules existed too....in fact Tacitus talks more about Hercules than he does Jesus

      April 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • momoya

      What a smoke screen.. It's stupid to think that a god cares or involves himself with humans but can't seem to communicate the reality of his own existence and clearly prescribe his desires.. The christians and muslims would have you believe this is some sort of game where we humans can only worship god correctly without any direct proof and concise direction that the big guy makes obvious to ALL.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Rsqdvr911

      Ever notice what an innocent young child with limited experience and knowledge would answer when you ask him/her how an airplane, car or computer  works. He or she will usually answer there is a little human in there that makes it run, move or fly, instead  of saying there is a microchip inside that box and/or combustible engine that makes it work Dad. Observe how the child also anthropomorphizes his/her answer. This carries over when we become adults when face with such mind boggling questions like, where did we come from, where are we going, what is the origin of the universe, etc.....

      April 22, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • Robert Brown

      momoya,

      God does care. He communicated his existence and desires through creation, the written word, and Jesus. There are many reasons why folks don’t believe. There were people who witnessed miracles that Jesus performed and yet they didn’t believe. Jesus even explained that some wouldn’t believe even if someone came back from the dead and told them. God could force everyone to believe but instead he made us with free will. It is our choice.

      April 22, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • momoya

      Robert,

      Nobody can PROVE that your god cares.. Your belief that he does and communicates is only your opinion, since you can't prove that he does as you say.. As such, your belief is merely a philosophy.. We atheists want you believers to recognize this fact and act accordingly.. The christian god isn't an emergent truth like math or chemistry, and it's disgusting that you treat it as if it is.

      There are many reasons why folks don't believe in one god or another–mostly it has to do with where and when you were raised.. It's taught behavior, not an emergent truth..

      Witnessing miracles means nothing as the bible claims many miracles were done with some other power than gods; if proof of miracles don't mean they're of god, then miracles only imply a supernatural realm–not god's favor on the miracle worker.. Besides, a miracle would go against the logic of christians who say that if god proves himself he is taking away free will. .

      You should stop assuming that you are correct in your stance, and take another look at what the evidence implies.. For god to continually allow so much confusion over his nature; for god to continually allow people to do evil in his name; for god to continually allow any person to believe anything they want about him based on social dynamics, time period, and geography–is fricking stupid.. I don't have the ability to believe in a non logical god who won't explain the rules of his game to the players, or even assure the players are still really playing, but judges them as if they did..

      April 22, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Believer

      Momoya
      You dont think we have looked at the evidence? I have and it points to Christ. We have more evidence that Jesus existed than Julius Caesar. Also you cannot explain the growth of christianity logically. If the tomb was not empty the enemies of Jesus would have produced his body and crushed the religion. We know that there were several other self proclaiming messiahs, but when they died so did their following. Why did Jesus followers spread after he died then? Something happened in that tomb that made cowardly fishermen turn into brave martyrs. The disciples gained nothing by this religion, according to your standards, they gave up everything were persecuted and killed. How do you explain this?
      As for your questions of why God does not reveal himself fully to us, you should read the book of Job. Job asks these questions plenty of times. The basic answer is this, we are finite human beings. How can we even begin to understand an infinite God? How can we demand the all knowing all powerful God to tell us everything? We cannot even begin to understand him. Yet he has revealed himself through his son Jesus.

      April 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • momoya

      Believer

      Yes, I think you have looked at what you deem "evidence.". I believe you have considered it with as much confirmation bias as the muslim has considered his evidence for his belief..

      We do NOT have as much evidence for Jesus as Julius Ceaser.. The fact that you don't recognize this reality is proof of your confirmation bias.. There are a lot of reasons why Paulianity gained acceptance.. The Jesus myth is just that, there's no evidence for Jesus as single individual and there's no evidence of a Jesus-type figure in any tomb–much less evidence for an empty one.. Again, you are considering anecdotal fables from thousands of years ago as "evidence.". It isn't.. We know that when a crime or accident occurs, just a few seconds later witness testimony is VERY fallible.. Any cop will tell you.. Witnesses get the wrong color and shape and size and everything else possible wrong–just a few minutes later..

      I've read Job at least 20 or 30 times.. I studied the bible intently for nearly 50 years.. I am an atheist BECAUSE of the bible, not in spite of it.

      If we can't even begin to understand god and his ways, then why pretend with any belief?. If god is really as far as you say from human understanding, then why do you and most people around the world claim to understand much of what he says and much of his ways?.

      Why does god make math and chemistry and gravity so obvious, when none of it matters in god's judgement game?. Why does your god write a book that has a multiple factual mistakes?. According to you, god wants people to believe in him and worship him correctly, so why doesn't god make his presence and desires knowable to all people?. It's just too far-fetched to believe that there's a god who won't make his presence and will obvious but yet judges a person eternally for playing a game wrong that the pawn didn't even know he was playing..

      April 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  14. Muneef

    I do not know much about the stories of Jesus in the Bible to debate but at least I believe in Jesus stories in the Quran that it was no myth...
    ---

    But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said, "Who are my supporters for [the cause of] Allah ?" The disciples said," We are supporters for Allah . We have believed in Allah and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]. 3:52

    Our Lord, we have believed in what You revealed and have followed the messenger Jesus, so register us among the witnesses [to truth]." 3:53

    And the disbelievers planned, but Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners. 3:54

    [Mention] when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ. 3:55

    And as for those who disbelieved, I will punish them with a severe punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers." 3:56

    But as for those who believed and did righteous deeds, He will give them in full their rewards, and Allah does not like the wrongdoers. 3:57

    This is what We recite to you, [O Muhammad], of [Our] verses and the precise [and wise] message. 3:58
    --

    And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, "Believe in Me and in My messenger Jesus." They said, "We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to Allah ]." 5:111

    [And remember] when the disciples said, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said," Fear Allah , if you should be believers." 5:112

    They said, "We wish to eat from it and let our hearts be reassured and know that you have been truthful to us and be among its witnesses." 5:113

    Said Jesus, the son of Mary, "O Allah , our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers." 5:114

    Allah said, "Indeed, I will sent it down to you, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you – then indeed will I punish him with a punishment by which I have not punished anyone among the worlds." 5:115
    ----

    O you who have believed, be supporters of Allah , as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, "Who are my supporters for Allah ?" The disciples said, "We are supporters of Allah ." And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant. 61:14

    April 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  15. TheMostWise

    You know it's a myth! ...Believing in the reversal of two-day rigormortis makes one ...'delusional' in believing it as reality.

    April 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  16. J

    http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/god-so-loved-the-world/

    April 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  17. Glenn

    I too believe in the crucifiction of christ. Given the roman society of the day, it is almost inconceivable that Jesus is a myth.

    I believe in the science of genetics and the desendents of the vast Roman Empire still exist today. I believe most pagans of today through education and the evolution of culture do not recognize their own ancestory. Pagans tend to life in real or present time and become very much a product of their own environment.

    As a natural born pagan who was raised in the sixties, when the church had far more influence over present society, I can say it is possible to indoctronate small children in the teachings of any religion or culture. As a man who suffered through many years of mental illness, I can say the teachings of the church are not consistent with my own perceptions of the world has dictated by genetics. I still have an innate understanding of the ancient religions even though science prevents me from believing.

    What I don't believe in is the stories associated with the bible which require "blind faith". If pegasus, chineese dragons don't exist, why would I assume angels do ? This is the diversity of nature brought to you by genetics. Different people imagine different things and most of it remains unproven.

    April 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      You said science prevents you from believing. Don’t you at least find it interesting that while creation may or may not have taken six literal days, as we know them, the order of events in the Bible is the same as what modern science claims? Keeping in mind that Moses is thought to have written Genesis over 3000 years ago. He must have had some real inside info.

      April 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • BurghThing

      i have an honest question about the creation story in genesis....why did god have to rest on the 7th day? (Genesis 2:2) why would an all powerful being need rest? how does an all powerful being tire?....i seriously would like to hear an answer to that...im not mocking you or your beliefs in any way....ive decided to read the bible from cover to cover and present these kinds of questions to a pastor or priest to see if they have any answer....if they do....thats a step in the direction of me being able to believe

      April 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Glenn

      I read the Greeks talk of being "a toad on the pond in a vast wilderness". What insight would Moses have ? Did he really life 600 years without healthcare ?

      April 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      BurhThing,

      I had read some commentary on that subject but couldn’t remember where. A quick internet search revealed several possibilities; the word for rest in the original text has multiple meanings the more relevant one being to cease, God was leading by example telling us to rest on the seventh, he was really just taking time to admire all he had done, or the whole book of Genesis is allegory and shouldn’t be taken literally.

      Personally I have never given it much thought. But since you brought it up it does seem unlikely that the God of creation would become so tired that he needed a break. Then again, if there was nothing and everything we can perceive of creation came out of him. Then maybe he did need a little time to recoup. I don’t believe the whole book is allegory. I would lean more to the admiration and or setting an example.

      I read a little on one site that seemed pretty good. I don’t agree with all the commentary but some of it seems to make good sense. As you read and have questions you might want to check it out. It is http://www.provethebible.net. I really enjoy the Bible commentary by J. Vernon McGee. It is a radio program called the bible bus or Thru the bible. It has a website where you can listen to that days program or you can download the whole thing and listen when you can. I don’t have the site here in front of me but if you search his name it will come up.

      April 22, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Cory

      Robert Brown, so your saying that light came before the stars and the sun that exude it?

      April 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      No, I think “let there be light” was when our sun ignited. One possible explanation is that the plants had to grow a while before enough oxygen was created to clear the atmosphere enough so that the sun, moon, and stars were clearly visible from earth. So, they were included in the narrative when they became visible from earth.

      April 22, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • EMPkind

      The Biblical account of Creation is not the same as modern science's timeline of events.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  18. Selby

    LOLOLOL.....you mean people are JUST realizing that the story of Jesus, from the virgin birth to the resurrection, looks awfully familiar to other stories of pagan gods?? Really? Nobody noticed before?

    April 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  19. nestor

    about faith.you have to be born into a religious family and from a very young age they have to teach these things and that will make you a believer with blind faith in jesus.that was not the case with me and i find it real hard to have it ,it was never taught to me and i was not born with it.so i have a problem with faith and believing yet when anything comes out right i find
    myself saying thank you jesus.so i am stuck in this paradox.like the minotaur of greek mythology who was stuck in the labirynth and could not find his way out...

    April 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • JM

      The Bible says "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."

      I take that as a promise. Right now, we believe by faith. At some point, we will actually see with our eyes.

      If you read stories about the lives of real believers, it's amazing what God has done in their lives. Read The Hiding Place (Corrie ten Boom) sometime. Incredible. Most of us ignore God (or just say He doesn't exist and leave it at that).

      April 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Glenn

      Actually it was the people of ancient Greece who were stuck in a labrinyth. The culture was based on their knowledge of the natural world. It was they who were unable to let go of their connection to nature and where having difficulty progressing as their culture evolved. Hence. the half man, half animal creature who lived in a maze.

      April 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Glenn

      Not being a product of the twenty-first century is crucial in understanding the ancient world.

      April 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Mike W

      When religion finally runs its course, knowledge and "truth" will win out...it can be no other way...

      April 22, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  20. The Messiah

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

    April 21, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • preacherman

      Oh good now Jesus has a lawyer. And lawyers can always be trusted right?

      April 21, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • momoya

      Are they myths? Yes, yes they are..

      April 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      Wow! I guess the discussion is over.

      April 21, 2012 at 2:37 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.