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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 • Evangelical • Faith • History • Jesus • Uncategorized • Virgin Mary

soundoff (8,771 Responses)
  1. Nii

    PHOSPHOROUS
    You also did not see the MOSAIC LAW. What noise are u making about grammar? You don't even know what the Mosaic Law is? Google or Wiki it then. Don't sit here and spew unintellectual opinions about shorthand. It is correct and grammatical.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • b4bigbang

      No, it isn't. It's lazy.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Bill

      It's not ok to be lazy?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Phosphorus

      Actually, most college professors will dock a student for using your text speak. Some will fail the student right out. In the professional world, an email or a memo with text speak could spell doom for your career. If you use text speak on a job application, or in your resume, then you would have committed a form of employment suicide. As for the impression that it gives, it makes you look like a teenager with a few catchy phrases that were learned in one of your elective classes. It takes away from your credibility. Besides, the Law of Moses does nothing to impress those who have read the Old Testament and understand how disgusting of a man Moses was written to be. The man was a murderer and a thief, and by today's standards, if he was alive, he'd be tried on numerous counts for crimes against humanity. If the stories have a shred of truth to them, you should be ashamed for honoring this so-called law. I do not recognize any authority from the likes of Moses, therefore, I do not recognize your authority either. Genocidal mad men that hold conversations with burning bushes are no place to derive authority.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Marquette

      This is a social forum, not a college class. It is youthful to use text speak and is acceptable in most social forums that youth has its say on...I admit I am older and tend to write like an older person, this does not make me an old fudydudy anymore than Nii text speak mekes him/her lazy. Name calling is usually not indicative of rigorus intellectual argument, is it?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  2. tony

    Just about any 9th grader on up can bring a repeatable demo of many of the laws of physics to a debate. No-one in the World, not even any great religious leader, can yet bring a demo of any godly act to a debate or anywhere else. No godly evidence, most likely no god.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Marquette

      Although the world is physical, there is also a mental, spiritual element. Think about when Einstein was seeking to prove his theory of relativity and was depending on others in far flung parts of the world to adequately photograph an eclipse to give demonstration to his theory... would it really make the theory any less viable if none of the photographs had adequately developed and therefore couldn't "prove" his theory just then? Think of God as a theory a waiting proof, not an unproved theory

      April 9, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • bingheidy

      tony,

      God created man with freewill, ability to love and to be loved.
      There are many godly man that will never curse or said harsh word like most people in this forum.
      They know how to demonstrate God's love and character.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  3. Famous

    Agnostics see the world and the Universe as filled with limitless possibilities. Did Jesus exist or not? Maybe....on either count. It will probably never be proven or disproven...at least not to the satisfaction of believers and non believers. It seems a great waste of time and effort to defend your beliefs, so why not just be happy in what you believe and allow others to do the same.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Marquette

      A faithfilled Christian will not argue about faith because they are confident. They will seek to be kind, respectful and loving in their opinions. I like that you are happy and do not need to be angry or judge others harshly for having a different opinion. Thank you.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • wrob

      Whether or not to adopt a belief system is a personal one. No, I can't prove that Jesus was God. But questioning his *existence* raises the burden of proof beyond that of any comparable historical figure, and betrays a personal bias. There are plenty of critics on this forum, as there always are, but notice that the smart ones stop short of calling him a myth.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Cq

      In practice you cannot live as an agnostic forever, you either have to live as though God exists, or doesn't. If you live as though God exists, then you're actually a believer, but if you don't, then you're a non-believer. So, which way do you live your life?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why can't one live as an agnostic? If I simply don't know whether there is a God or not, what's so impossible about living with that uncertainty?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Marquette

      I disagree Cq, in practice one lives ones life as best as they are able and being good does not equate to being a believer, being good is its own reward and its own life style, just as being bad does not necessarily make one a non-believer. As many scandals attest believers are just as frail and can fall just as hard as non-believers.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't think Cq was implying that belief in a god was required for 'moral' living; however, I'm not quite sure how living one's life differs depending on one's belief, unbelief, or uncertainty. Cq?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • What IF

      Tom, Tom,

      Ok, so you are agnostic. Do you live your daily life as a non-knower by praying, worshipping, conducting rituals to a god or gods one day and not the next? One week and not the next? No, I'm betting that you live your life a-theistically - without the belief in a god or gods.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you think all believers go to church? Pray regularly? That's not true in my experience. There are many people who believe there's a God, but have no interest in going to a church or praying on a regular basis or participating in religious rituals.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I also know of people who are doubtful of the existence of a god but go to church pretty faithfully and participate in the religious rituals such as Communion, even though they are unsure there's any supreme being. Often they do so because it's what their family has always done and it's expected of them.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • What IF

      Tom, Tom,

      It's a spectrum - from atheistic agnostics to theistic agnostics, with a range of variations between. I don't have a problem with the label, 'agnostic', but from reading some of your posts, it seems like you tend more toward the atheistic agnostic inclination.

      Besides, at the root of it, agnosticism has to do with lack of knowledge, and atheism has to do with lack of belief.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Josh

      That might make sense, but you forget you're talking to humans. This is going against either side. There are some that are content with their beliefs and respect the beliefs of others. However some religious feel the need to force their beliefs on others and some atheists are just as intolerant and overbearing in their beliefs. I enjoy civil debate about peoples' viewpoints and beliefs but there is nothing quite so irritating as someone who is arrogant about it. The religious cannot prove the existence of God and the atheists cannot disprove the existence of God. Despite this you'll find a few out of either party that will insist they absolutely know and you're an idiot if you don't agree.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  4. salahkamel707

    the Holy Qurqn says that Christ is messenger of God . the Quran is the only still unchanged holy book
    we , Muslims . believe in all messengers of God, all holy book
    the jews changed your beliefs to doubt in Christ. the jews cut the hands of the Egyptian chritian soldiers during 67 war , as there was a cross drawn on their hands, saying that Christ has not come , and that who they crossified was an outcome of adultery and christ will come from jewish side only
    the jews destroyed your economy, corrupted your beliefs to transfer you to zionists, their cursed Talmud , read it fools, say that the jews have the right by God to destroy all other people and they are promised by God to take christians , by millions, and Muslims as slaves
    they took your economy, stole your uranium and military secrets , but they are safe , as your presidents are controlled by strings, like puppets , by AIPAC
    you can not but to hate christ, Muslims and obey your masters in Tel aviv
    you suffer from Stockholm syndrome , go to a vet, a dog doctor to become no zionists
    or it is too late

    April 9, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • vanderquestion

      If you believe in the Qurqn then you must show respect to all the messengers. By showing disrespect and hate you are not fulfilling the tenants of the Qurqn. Can such a man look the faithful in the eye?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Archangel Michael

      For my dear Moeslim Brother, Salahkamel 707. Your comment above has already harshly made a judgment bad for others and your faith is the only Holy. I beleived that your comment degraded and bring ashamed for you. Because, in the eye of GOD those who are arrogant and blaming others will be downed. Just like lucifer, the father of all lies been cast out from the Heaven. Because lucifer though that he deserved much better than human made from soil.

      For my atheist brothers. Thank you for your comment who refuse to beleive Jesus. Because, it is not you who choose to beleived in HIM. But, Jesus whom choosing you. In other words, happy for those who are touched by HIS grace, HIS words through the Holy Bible. It is by fact, there is something beyond human comprhension which involve the Higher Power. Asked those who received genuine miracle of their life when being touched by Jesus. They are the witness of HIM. But Jesus does not need human witness whereas HE asked us to loved GOD as we loved towards others beyond our skin color, culture and faith.

      Last but not least, for my Christian brothers, have a Happy Easter Day [Passover], "Jesus has Risen", the power of darkness & evil crushed by HIS blood.Amen

      April 9, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  5. Nii

    ATHEISTS see how u insult Christians who can actually tackle your misconceptions about Christianity? Ignorance is bliss they say. B4BIGBANG, DO YOUR GAY FRIENDS KNOW THAT U USE THEIR SE.XUAL ORIENTATION AS AN INSULT. So much for atheists love gays. I always knew it was hypocrisy. Lol

    April 9, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • nomdefaitour

      There is an ancient but suppressed gospel that suggests Jesus was bI se ual. It is described that he spent the night with a young man whom he had raised from the dead.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Alpa Chino

      You embarassing yourself, dude. Again.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Marquette

      I have spent the night with many people that I did not have s-e-x with...has that never happened to you? This does not make me bi-anything, never mind buying what your selling.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Bill

      Is it possible that people who don't realize they've been embarrassed or insulted are blessed? Are is it possible that ignorance is a blessing.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  6. Mateo

    If you have no higher power in your life, you only rely on your own. So when you fail at something, or become weak and lose your power, there is no one to carry you through. Every man's strength comes from a higher power, some just refuse to hear or see the truth that it was a higher power that was able to carry them through. He works mysteriously, through people and creatures, the elements and the unknown, in order to be there with us not just during the good times but the bad.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • tony

      I can bring a repeatable demo of many of the laws of physics to a debate. No-one in the World can yet bring a demo of any godly act to a debate or anywhere else. No godly evidence, most likely no god.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • vanderquestion

      Who set the laws of physics in motion so that they could be demonstrated ?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Alpa Chino

      People should learn to be responsible for themselves and their own actions. Otherwise they never quite grow up.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • bingheidy

      tony,

      God created man with freewill, ability to love and to be loved.
      There are many godly man that will never curse or said harsh word like most people in this forum.
      That's what we call living epistle and they know how to demonstrate God's love and character.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • oppo

      It seems that the ME religions are summarized from Babylonian texts, which is itself summarized from Sumerian texts. In the original Sumerian texts, they described how GodA predicted the floods (natural disaster) but kept it a secret so that the human species would be wiped out, but GodB, GodA's brother secretly told one guy to build the ark. Humans were created by GodS (GodA's sister) out from a clay vessel by merging their DNA with a local animal (ape?). The Sumerian texts give elegant explanations where current religious stories create conflict and they said that 'they will be back'. Actually the conflict was created when the Babylonians decided to merge all the 3 Gods to create 2 figures (god and satan) as a dichotomy view, to prevent human disunity arising from selective loyalty created by the conflict between the 3 gods.

      However, the discussion now is about the new testaments. If the Sumerian texts were extrapolated (& if you believe it), it seems that Jesus (& others) could be real, if you look at their personalities. GodB (emotional) and GodS (scientific) really cared about the humans, but GodA was more secular. They could have emplaced knowledge into selected humans to manipulate human loyalty. The Sumerian text portrays the humans as god-like but lacking 2 chromosomes for longevity. Now there is partial archaeological evidence of the Sumerian story – see the crow's project.

      Anyway, if you want to believe that Jesus (& others) is real, it seems you cannot run from the Sumerian view of history. It also seem to partially fit into human evolution theory as well.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Mateo

      I agree, The Big Bang Happened. I also believe that it was initiated by a greater power I call God. Just like an artist creating a piece of art, God initiated the big bang as an art project. God, the higher power that initiated the Big Bang would require the intelligence of a quantum super-computer, making Him capable of tracking every sub-atomic particle as it expanded outward and collided with other particles. Scientists do this at CERN in Switzerland when they smash atoms together. With knowledge of the beginning, He would have all the information he needs to create a model for the future. He is able to forecast our existence and everything therein. Omnipotent and Omnipresent. I could very well see the universe being a construct like the holo deck on Star Trek, only the super computer that created our existence is God and not the USS Enterprise.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  7. bingheidy

    Can somebody explain where the source of life is?? Is there anybody on this earth can create "a Mung Bean seed" that can grow?? It is easier for me to believe that there is a God who created this universe, than to believe evolution or the big bang theory.

    Isa 43:7
    Everyone who is called by My name,
    Whom I have created for My glory;
    I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”

    John 14:6
    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.“

    John 3:16
    16 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.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • tony

      Taking the "easy way" sums you up.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Mateo

      All the above. The Big Bang Happened, and was set off by God, and just like an artist creating something, He did so out of love for the craft. This artist is God and has the intelligence of a super computer capable of tracking every sub-atomic particle as it expanded outward, just like scientists do at CERN in Switzerland. With that knowledge He can forecast our existence and everything therein.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  8. Mike R

    The story of Jesus showed us his biggest expression of love: to give your life for someone else. Now, here's a question in comparison: Do you need to believe in Santa Clause to have the spirit of giving, without expecting anything in return?

    April 9, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • JeebusChribus

      Nope! That's Socialism!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • tony

      Sacrificing life of love of family actually kept happening for thousands of years before Moses, let alone Christ, showed up. Animals and Insects have done it for milliennia. Read any Assyrian or Egyptian history.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Interesting

      Religious people DO expect something in return. They expect heaven, a very big reward in their paradigm. If you give something with expectation of getting something in return, what you are doing is not charity.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  9. Nii

    DIEGO
    Since u do NOT understand the meaning of MESSIANIC JEWISH OR how I studied the LAW(MOSAIC) to become a Christian. why are u quipping here? If it was not past midnight in Ghana I wud stay on n correct ur misconceptions. If u do not understand Democrats u don't learn from GOP only.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Phosphorus

      Seriously, anyone educated in law would know how ridiculous it looks to comment how intelligent you are in one sentence, and then show how lazy you are by using text speak. Your use of grammar gives away that you are not educated in law, or if you are, I really feel sorry for your clients.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • vanderquestion

      Nii is probably just younger than you or I and uses text speak as a normal way to communicate. However, being youthful does not make Nii unintelligent. When he was speaking of the law (Mosaic) he was speaking of the law of Moses.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Phosphorus

      A man educated in Mosaic Law would know better than to use text speak when attempting to show authority or generate credibility.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  10. nygex

    I have never understood the idea of life after death or why so many people hold this belief. Everything we are is stored in our brain. We don't have redundant drives sitting out there waiting for our death so that we can access all our information in the afterlife. We've seen what happens to people with some form of physical brain trauma. Why do people think that a decayed or cremated brain is somehow going to be intact in the afterlife? The brain performs billions of physical activities each day to process thought, store memory, etc. – it's not magic.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Snow

      simple.. fear of death.. and fear of unknown.. solution? easy.. make up a dude who would wake you up and make you live for eternity..

      That there is the corner stone of religion..

      April 9, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Bill

      Maybe the brain is not a storage unit but a multi facetted antenna.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  11. Glenn

    Given the historical evidence relating to the Roman empire and their own practices, I find it difficult to believe that people would debate the existence of Jesus. Just as it find it difficult to believe people do not accept the notion that the desendants of the Roman people have somehow disappeared.
    When one talks about religion or culture, one has to accept these perceptions of the world are innate as the science was not yet available to contradict their beliefs. As Jews, Muslims and Christians look back on their own ancestory, why does no one ask what happened to the ancient pagans ?
    It is because pagans are an entirely different people. They tend to evolve as the science and traditions change. They readily accept present day ideas. Many non-believers fail to recognize their own ancestors because of the primitive nature of the culture. Without science and knowledge all things become possible and they were.
    I believe in Jesus but necessarily the stories surrounding his life often written generations later. The desire to create a church and progress as humans both emotionally and spiritually for Christians and Jews was the fundamental driver for the church. The ends justified the means and the imagination ruled.
    It's the non-beleivers who are looking for something else. Something rational and founded in science, not tradition.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Psyniche

      I'm a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, and have no vested interest in this conversation. But even I can see CNN's unabashed bias. Shame on you, CNN.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Bill

      Believers and non believers are still searching for truth or should be. I don't think we're much closer to the truth than they were 2000 yrs ago.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  12. trollin

    Daaaaamn! Dats a lot of people posting up today! Obviously hit a sore spot with lots o bible thumpers, fo sho!! Time for us jig-aboooos to find god. Maybe we can worship da cooon god of da niiggs!!

    April 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Bill

      What does da cooon god of da niiggs promise?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  13. Lenny Pincus

    Watching the development of the Mormon Church provides a perfect example of how myths create religion. Jesus, the brother of Lucifer, hanging in upstate New York. Star babies from hidden planets populating the earth. The head honcho boffing the Blessed Virgin.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Cq

      Try Scientology. That was created by a bona fide science fiction writer who stated publicly that the real way to get rich was to start a religion, but people still believe the story he gave them. The lesson is: People are gullible and will believe the most outrageous things if they see advantage in it for them. It's also how people fall for scams from con men.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  14. WachetAuf

    This is very difficult stuff. It is subject of no ultimate proof nor is it capable of being disproved. And, it is a great shame that men are unable to discuss it with open minds, admit their doubts and human frailties, and humbly have a conversation intended, not to convince but to elucidate.

    At worst, the story of Jesus is a compelling story about a man who offered a new paradigm for living peacefully with one another. If he, or the men who wrote his story, had modern science/explanations we would find a man who would have described the two brains of men. One is the primitive. The other holds powers of higher reason. Jesus would probably have described man's natural primitive tendencies toward narcissism. He would probably have described Satan as the first naricisssist who is trying to lead us toward our destruction, away from a very wise set of rules which promote peace, happpiness and prosperity.

    The next part of Jesus's message is that he was not a man who belonged to any group. His message was aimed at individual responsibility. That is not a message intended for the empowerment of groups. He did not call for group action. He called for individual action, healing within ourselves. Groups have been destroying Christianity for two thousand years. Just look around and take it all in. Some church groups seem to hate other religions.

    The message of the Bible has been twisted by this primitive impulse to join insular groups. Because of the group think which has given us only one model for two thousand years, it is virtually impossible for the average man, including myself, to escape the group think and sort it all out.

    It is quite possible that Satan (metaphorically, if you will, literally if it turns out that the Bible story is literally true) inserts himself into all groups and infuses them with pagan traditions, like the celebration of Christmas and Easter. It is simple. If Satan can distract us for a moment, then another moment and another, for two thousand years, we will have lost the connection with the original message.

    The true message of the Cross which we must seek out, for peace on this earth, is the evil of narcissitic, authoritarian leadership. if you dare start asking honest questions of those in authority, if you say anything which might weaken their power, those in authority will kill you. The message of the Cross which we must finally infuse into Christianity, is the evil of those in authority and that we must take care not to allowit to happen again. Except, that it continues to happen. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. If that message will be emphasized, and if we will stand up to resist the corruption of powerful authoritarian regimes around the world, we would be a much better world. But, we must learn the art of critical thinking and learn to think for ourselves, not simply be parrots and enablers of authoritarian leaders wherever we may find them. We can start by practicing critical thinking in our families, in our local communities. Try it. It is an adventure. The world needs it badly.

    This is not to say that some men, and some governments have not been lead by Jesus' message, the great U.S.A. included. We have been blessed by those who have learned Jesus' lessons. So we cannot throw the baby out with the bath water.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Exactly, WatchetAuf.
      Regarding the continual repeat of bad authoitarian leaders, it appears to be part of Nature.
      It's summed up most succinctly by The Who in their song "Won't Get Fooled Again" where Daltry sings:
      "Meet the new boss; same as the old boss".

      Sure got that right!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • b4bigbang

      In other words: Doobiedoobiedoo.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • rtbrno65

      I've read your post twice and still have no idea what you're trying to say.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Ashrakay

      Only religious people make it complicated, because in reality it's very simple. Things that can be supported by evidence or direct observation and can later be verified = REALITY. Everything else = IMAGINATION.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Cq

      WachetAuf
      If Satan can manipulate traditions like that then what was to stop him from impersonating Jesus on the road to Damascus and convincing Paul that the simple rabbi was actually the son of God?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Mateo

      I want to remind everyone that Newton's "Laws" of Motion, The "Laws" of Thermodynamics, Quantum Theory and Einstein's Theory of Relativity are all THEORETICAL, but atheists neglect this FACT. When an atheist argues against God using science, then they are a fool.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Ashrakay

      @Mateo, You show your scientific ignorance when you present theory in science as something other than accepted fact. Look up the definition sometime. You'll find a variety of meanings.

      April 9, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  15. themnaghmar

    People have tried for 2000 years. From Nero to Dawkins and CNN. And yet, they have failed miserably. And that' is a proof that nobody can argue against.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      AMEN themnaghmar!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Phosphorus

      So, the fact that people have tried to reason with the insane and irrational for a few thousand years is evidence of religious truth? I would argue how insane that logic is, but if resurrected zombies, talking snakes, arcs full of representatives of every living creature, forbidden fruits of knowledge, eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of a deity, and a whole mountain of insane "truths" can't convince you, it's not because your religion is right...it's because you're brainwashed and a fool.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  16. Shangheyed

    Ok, now where are all the christians burning tires, calling for death threats against CNN for posting this Anti_christian retoric? If it were an article about islam and its so called prophet you think islam would react with comments to the blog or would they be killing their way to the CNN office to of after the infidel that questions its version of insanity. Why will not CNN write the same article about islamic faith? Why does CNN not write artcles about how islam builds its mosques on top of Christian and Jewish temples subjugating any religion in its path... why does CNN fear the truth about islam but is happy to print conjecture and what ifs about another religion. Get some balls CNN your picking on the Christians again, easy targets indeed.

    Islam is the problem and a poster child for how a religion can go bad...and western press is afraid of calling them out because if you call out islam they will kill you..., you call out jesus, he and his flock just complain on line....

    April 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Hey Phosphorus, did you know that your armchair 'diagnosis' of Christians as being "insane and irrational " is the *exact* rationale the Soviet dictatorship had for imprisoning Christians and other religionists in mental hospitals, torturing them with electroshock, telling them that all they had to do was renounce their religion and the pain would stop?

      Tsk tsk. Good thing you're just a harmless internet troll rather than running a country.
      Still, your thought pattern raises its ugly head every generation or so, and we have to send our soldiers off to war to defeat your kind. world-wide.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ooooh, you've sent your soldiers? Goshers!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I certainly hope they can figure out where to go, considering you can't even manage to get your replies in the right place!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  17. Lee Laico

    What a disgusting thing to have out on Easter sunday CNN. I bet you would never ask the question, Mohammed, Myth or Real?
    CNN should be ACN anti Christian Network

    April 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • rtbrno65

      You're right, they should be because we need something like that.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • b4bigbang

      You're right Lee, because ole Teddie-boy Turner and his wifey, Hanoi Jane know full well that the Muslims would slap a fatwa on his rump and come after him, and that prospect probably has him soiling his Depends.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • neolib

      And why a news network has to be religious in America ? Is it a christian country REALLY ?

      April 9, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • Know What

      b4, "wifey, Hanoi Jane"

      Heh, she's one of you now, Bub!... a born again, and all that jazz.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:17 am |
  18. izabel

    JESUS, HE NOT STORIES HE IS THE TRUTH WHITOUT JESUS LIfE HAS NO MEANING.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Mort Sahl

      So is Charles Manson

      April 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Phosphorus

      Ten bucks says that if you enroll in college long enough to correct your grammar and spelling, you'll learn enough to become skeptical about your religion as well.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @izabel: Wow, slightly brainwashed!! Life has plenty of meaning for those of us who don't believe in your jesus dude that can't be proven to exist (the records are questionable at best and even if he did exist, he was nothing more than a man...just another human, no special powers...nothing). You've been mislead by the fear mongering people who raised you and the church. Time to grow up, get an education (maybe , given your complete lack of proper grammar, you're actually still in grade school) and come away from the fairy tales.

      April 9, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  19. Live them ALONE

    Please live the innocent beasts alone with their thoughts and points of views of the orld, live their god in their minds!!!!.A dog , a chicken and a cat as well as an ant do not thinks by themselves.

    For christ sake is like telling a little girl she is not a princess and a little boy that his Dad is not a hero.

    No ethics at all.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • rtbrno65

      "For christ sake is like telling a little girl she is not a princess and a little boy that his Dad is not a hero."

      What's wrong with being honest with children?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  20. Nii

    Atheists on here may be former Xtians but their display of opinion as truth is really unbecoming of people who claim to be more knowledgeable of Xtianity than Xtians. If we use Sabbath instead of Saturday wud it make it Jewish. Saturday does not make it pagan either. Easter is just Passover Weekend.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Oh, knock it off, Nii. Everyone knows you're gay.

      April 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Nii, the atheists can't defeat the Christians' superior position, so they're usurping Christians' posting monikers!
      Quite pathetic actually.
      God Bless you from the REAL b4bigbang!

      April 9, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • b4bigbang

      That post was NOT from me. I can't stand your silly ranting, Nii. You sound like a complete nut-job. You make ME look sane.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Cq

      b4bigbang
      It takes so little to undermine your position that atheists just get bored, and that leads to mischief like posting under your monikers. Sometimes, when one of you believer guys actually make a good point, especially when the grammar and spelling improves, I suspect that an atheist posted that under one of your names. I often think up pretty good arguments for your position during the course of a debate and wonder why none of you think of using it, so I can see the temptation of playing both sides.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:20 am |
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About this blog

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