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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. zombiehoosier

    The "Jews would never use Pagan beliefs" argument holds very little water with me. Of course, if, IF early Jews made up Jesus they modeled his story after Pagan beliefs, its what people understood back then. They knew these stories and were comfortable with them. Was Jesus real? IDK, but the same goes for God, want someone to worship you – keep it simple and familiar. Does it matter? No, faith is faith regardless of fact checking, the message is what matters to the faithful. To those who don't believe, understanding the truth of history has always been and always will be our most valuable resource.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  2. PancakeVision

    There is a reason why we have separate words: belief, faith, knowledge. I kind of get a kick out of it when people say things like, "I know that (choose your faithy-beliefy term) is so. Faith and belief may sustain individuals in times of crisis; they have caused more mayhem than anything else, and will continue to do so.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  3. Nii

    One other thing that saddens me is that atheists don't understand that ethical behaviour is seen as normal by Psychaitrists n since it is promoted by religion scientists dont discourage it. An ethical God isnt wicked just cos he does what u don't like just as ur parents punishing u for wrong isnt.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • nomdefaitour

      Was it ethical for your god to ra pe a young girl and to force her to bear his spawn? None of you christians seem to want to answer that question. Yours is a hideous and malevolent faith.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • sam stone

      And, or course, true ethics are stuck in the Iron Age.....

      April 9, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Marquette

      I know you think reframing what Christians view as sacred in a violent, base and viciuos way is clever, but it is not. It is disrespectful to the listener and it cast any discussion in a violent, base and vicious manner. If you don't want a discussion, but just need to vent, keep it on that emotional level. But don't be surprised if you fail to convince anyone who isn't already a believer in your point to your side

      April 9, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • nomdefaitour

      It was a violent, base, and vicious act, and deserves to be described as such. Ii was also just another example of Christians stealing myths from pagan religions....there word for the offspring of the divine and mortal are called demigods, and there were many in ancient times., i.e. Hercules, Achilles, Alexander the Great.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • Cq

      Nii
      Eventually we grow up and get to be in our parent's shoes as adults, so we get to understand that point of view, but believers never get to grow up and be a god themselves. That's where your argument here fails. Christianity wants to treat us as children forever, never questioning least we feel Almighty Father's back hand, right?

      April 9, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  4. b4bigbang

    Did you know that atheists' 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?

    Good thing they're just harmless internet trolls rather than running a country.
    Still, their thought pattern raises its ugly head every generation or so, and we have to send our soldiers off to war to defeat their kind.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • just sayin

      You are one tall stack of stupid.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • sam stone

      Harmless internet trolls? As opposed to you, pendejo?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • sam stone

      The fact that others see your beliefs as irrational does not mean they are correct. Get back on your knees, slave

      April 9, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • TR6

      Comunisum is just another murderous, dogmatic form of religion, just like christianity. Your christians were marterd by another religion.

      April 9, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  5. topcat

    To all christians i encourage you to hold to your faith, for it is what we live by. the scriptures tells us that we can only please God by having faith in him not man.Remember to keep your eyes on the prize of the higher calling which is in Christ Jesus. these statements are beneath us.the bottom line is your either with Jesus or your not!!! . They can debate over and over and over but the bottom line is" your either with him or not". Remember Jesus said my sheep know my voice, so if they don't reckonize his voice then that must mean they are not his. WOW HUH!!! DUH!! I Pray that they see the "real truth" after all it is him JESUS !!!!

    April 9, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Amen topcat – He is risen!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Psyniche

      Are you trolling, or just really that deluded?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • News Flash!

      JESUS HAS ARISEN!

      No wait, he must have falleneth down again, because nobody can see him.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Phosphorus

      Understand as well, that to accept this truth, you must reason to yourself that the wisdom of bronze-aged pastoral shepherds that wandered around the desert had more knowledge and wisdom about the world than we do today. Isn't it something that gawd only appears to people in their minds? I mean, nobody professes that gawd approaches them in a physical or material way. That would just ruin the whole dumb faith thing, wouldn't it, if there was actually physical evidence to analyze! Nobody else can see him, hear him, or feel him unless if they experience a trauma, have a short circuit in their brain, or were indoctrinated at a critical moment in their life or as a young child. Gawd is a figment of human imagination. So, stay strong in your convictions! Join your Dark-Age brethren and celebrate your gullibility!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • jduck99

      See religion brings out the best in humanity......

      April 9, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • Cq

      topcat
      "Remember Jesus said my sheep know my voice, "
      You seem to forget that shepherds don't keep sheep for their well-being; they keep them for selfish ends, fleecing them regularly and eventually consuming their flesh. Sheep aren't exactly known for their intelligence or independent spirit either. They are easily led, even to the slaughter house. Think of that the next time Jesus, or one of his earthly pastors, is referred to as a "shepherd of people", Ok? They are actually praising you for being so gullible.

      April 9, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  6. Al

    I doubt seriously that Jesus existed and asking questions like, "would Paul have done this or that or would Matthew have done this or that" carry no weight for me. First, you have to assume that these other figures are real, historical figures. Secondly, you have to assume that you know what they would or would not do and what their motivations are. In any case, it matters little. If there were an involved god like Jesus, s/he'd have a far more sane way to make him/herself known than such a silly mythological tome as the bible is.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • Thad

      silly little book? no other book in the world have as many men and women willingly died for to maintain the truths held in it. Over half the book has been passed down by the Jewish people for more than 3000 years. There is no normal man written, man inspired book, that comes close to the Bible. Let alone completely reveals the plans of a living God. You should seriously consider reading it. I would beg you to.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Al: "...I doubt seriously that Jesus existed..."

      You do realize Al, that your viewpoint is so far out in the fringe that even liberal academia rejects it?

      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.”

      And another:
      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.”

      April 9, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • sam stone

      " Let alone completely reveals the plans of a living God."

      Claims are easy to make.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • Cq

      Thad
      Lots of Americans have died to maintain the truth of the Declaration of Independence and the Const_itution, and together they're not even as long as some of the books in the Bible.

      April 9, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  7. nomdefaitour

    Christians should wear a mark of shame for all the crimes committed in the name of their God: pogroms and genocide of entire cultures, the exploitation of the masses (in too many ways to count but lets start with the selling of indulgences...), torture, burning "witches" and other non believers at the stake, the Crusades and other intervene wars of religious aggression, etc. etc. The crucifix is a badge of shame and all christians should the pardon of the humanity they have so abused and murdered for 2 thousand years.

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

      ...not to mention the fact that demons are still being exorcised in the name of Christianity today. Scalding hot water, acid, poisons, red-hot rods, and drowning are some of the methods that are still employed to get rid of demons. Oh, I almost forgot...the carriers of these demons are often very young children!

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDOQZ8npSCA&w=640&h=390]

      April 9, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Elena

      your comment couldn't be more stupid, with that logic Jews also should were a mark!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • nomdefaitour

      You show your true colors now...all Christians really hate the Jews and applaud what Hitler did. You see them as christ-killers. Just like Mel Gibson's drunken rant that the Jews are responsible for all wars, your hidden nature is revealed.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Marquette

      you are right that many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion. As a human I am ashamed of that past and fearful of it being repeated in the future. That is why I am striving to have a kind, respectful discussion about this sensitive, emotional topic, rather than just a knee-jerk, ridgid diatribe reenunciating tired cliches that do more to continue the cycle of retribution than anything else. We need to actually hear each other and to respect each others opinions in order to prevent similar horrors from happening as these terrible things exist not just in the dim distant past but are happening everyday around the globe.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Nomdefaitor, in the same way that atheists refuse to claim Stalin, et al as one of their own, we Bible-believing Christians refuse to claim bloodthirsty Roman Pope dictators as our own.

      As a matter of fact, it could wisely be asked "what do atheist dictators and Roman Pope dictators have in common?"
      Answer: They both have a rich history of murdering mass numbers of Christians.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • nomdefaitour

      Marquette, the most salient point that I can make is that religion (especially Judism, Christianty, and Islam) poses the most significant threat to the planet and to the survival of mankind than any other looming threat. There are men in all these religions, men who BELIEVE in the coming armegadon, with their fingers on the nuclear key! And they think when they blow up the world that they are going to fly off on angel wings to some paradise. The world needs to set aside these bronze age mythologies and find a new morality....one that doesn't include blowing up the planet.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • nomdefaitour

      When I went through Army ROTC, I remember a Major telling us the battle of armegeddon was coming and that we would be the generation to fight it. There are people out there who are LOOKING FORWARD to the destruction of this planet and these man have the means!

      April 9, 2012 at 2:05 am |
  8. Glenn

    CNN, most Christians don't bother reading your subtle attacking rants on Christianity. Everyone with an IQ over 90 knows that the articles are primarily posted to provide a base for atheists (not ALL atheists – I know some nice ones, but the pig-headed ones anyway) for countless, recyled jokes/slurs and insults on the religion. I don't think i've ever seen this website post an aritcle that's purely positive on the faith. They are all sensasionalistic (probably spelled that wrong, if it's even a word), conflicting with the doctrines of the faith, or downright negative. This one challenging the existance of Christ happens to fall on Easter Sunday. Why doesn't CNN simply just grow a pair, and establish an atheist blog, and do away with their Belief Blog? Also, is CNN simply anti-Christian, or are they anti-religion in general. I assume the former since i've yet to see an article attacking Islam or some other faith.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Psyniche

      Stop your whining. Christians have had control of the government/media for a milenia... Time for some reason to take control.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • wrob

      Yes Psyniche, "reason" did take over a few times back in the 20th century.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • sam stone

      Gee, Glen....feeling a bit put upon?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • sam stone

      glen: it is a belief blog. we are speaking of belief. get over yourself

      April 9, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  9. JD

    Can I "report abuse" to the editors/writers of CNN? This is really a joke to honest journalists out there. I've never read a more one sided (yet weak) argument against a people group by a major news agency. This isn't journalism, it's not even a reasonable argument, it's biased jab at Christianity. Well done CNN, I'm subscribing to NYTimes.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Kyle

      Love how all the christians act like this is some kind of personal attack. They read the article and completely ignore the fact that both sides are represented in the article, but considering that 75% of the country is christian giving them some exposure to arguments from the other side would be more useful then an article just stroking their already held beliefs.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  10. Nii

    Atheists don't just say the Gospels were myths they think that means they were fictional. It is this assertion we challenge as Christians. However, the more you understand through practise the Bible's spirituality the more it becomes probable like Chemistry. This is why atheism fails to disprove it

    April 9, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Psyniche

      So, why, exactly, did Jesus exist? What was his mission?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Phosphorus

      The part of science that involves rejecting a null hypothesis or failing to reject a null hypothesis begins with a...you guessed it...a hypothesis! Religious faith does not generate a hypothesis. It generates philosophy that is accepted by faith, and only by faith, because no amount of reason or logic can support it. Nice try, Nii. I'll give you credit for your effort, but not for its overall effect.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Jim P>

      I think you've been into the chemicals a bit too deeply. Your post makes no sense. I don't need to disprove the gospels any more than I need to disprove the Easter Bunny. They claim to report certain events. They are demonstrably wrong in a number of major points (like earthquakes ocurring on certain dates and even who was the Roman governor of Judea).

      The burden of proof is on those who claim they are authentic and historically accurate or even that they were written by who is claimed to have written them. Absent proof, I have no god reason to believe they have any greater value than the hundreds of other "gospels" that survive from that period. (Gospel writing was a major industry in first and second century Judea and surrounding areas.)

      April 9, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • jduck99

      There is no proof that a historical jesus ever existed. You would think someone else may have noticed and don't you apologists bring up Justin Martyr that one small paragraph was a forgery. No witnesses, different versions and all of the gospels borrowed from each-other. The bible is man made, it is all man made. Don't you people read your history. Christianity was a cult and then the Roman Empire created the religion you know as Christianity and then everyone decided they didn't like that and made up their own versions, Protestant, Lutheran, and then someone completely threw that out and created Islam and Mormonism and so on and so on.....blah, blah, blah they all borrowed from each other. Watch the mythos that sums it up. It's all the same story over and over.... Myth plain and simple, but you religious people keep on believing in your myth. Just leave all of us alone and stay out of our government, so that we can all live in freedom from each other's beliefs......

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

      A literal interpretation of a spiritual or philisophical story is the wrong frame of reference. The Bible is a discussion, through parables, about the nature of both faith and God. The Bible is a compendiun, not necessarily the be-all end-all, of how prior civilizations viewed their world and the known universe. Moreover, it has been subjected to all the pitfalls humans are capable of through editing and translation. Knowing the Bible is not a newspaper or a history book is the first step on the spiritual journey that allows you to see how the underpinning spiritual truth are still relevant to how people should treat each other today. That means that not every word quoted out of context can or should be justified or explained. The world is so much larger and has so much much more detail than it did 2000 years ago but some truths about the human condition are eternal.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  11. Elena

    cant believe this article is still here!!

    April 9, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Know What

      Yep. Believe it or not, you did not put an end to the discussion with your steel-trap (sarcasm) arguments earlier. That must be a real shock to you, eh?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Elena

      No need to put an end to anything, I know what i know, and i don't care if the rest is too ignorant to understand it. I could write about my experiences, will atheist believe it, of course not and I don't care, i don't have to prove what i know it is enough that I know it!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • Marquette

      That's right–a faithfilled Christian is confident but strives to express their opinion in a kind and respectful way as required by their faith.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Phosphorus

      Elena, if your experiences all took place in your mind, and were simply misfiring neurons that produced hallucinations born of imprints that you had already experienced from various sources of external stimuli, how would you know? If you had an insane moment for a brief amount of time that felt perfectly sane, how could you know the difference? You might think, "oh, I would know," but the truth of the matter is that it would have felt real, so you would naturally think it was real.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • jduck99

      It is a poorly written article I agree, but really this is CNN we are not going to get deep intellectual discussions here....

      April 9, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • sam stone

      yet you still come back

      April 9, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  12. God

    He's responsible for some good camp fire stories as told in the Bible.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  13. ab

    So, most Jesus deniers are Internet kooks, but most people who believe in an invisible man and believe that a virgin gave birth to a child that grew up, performed a whole slew of "miracles", died, and was magically resurrected are completely sane and reasonable?

    Interesting...

    April 9, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Psyniche

      Awww, come on, you make it sound so crazy...

      April 9, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • ricardo65

      Love it! Yes, exactly.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • wrob

      Not kooks, just willing to put aside reason and accept an extremely unlikely explanation of how Christianity spontaneously came into being. In a word: "faith".

      April 9, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  14. Psyniche

    So, if Jesus existed and everything that he said, and that was said about him (in the Gospels) is true, then he came to 'save' us from an unimaginable Hell that was created by his loving Father... did I get that right? If I was a Christian, then I think I'd want to just sweep this whole Easter/Resurrection Day thing under the rug...

    April 9, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Marquette

      No, I'm sorry, you did not get it right. The unimaginable hell was not brought about by God, but by mans' free will and choices. Other than that....

      April 9, 2012 at 1:03 am |
  15. Nii

    PHOSPHORUS
    Darth Vader was written about as fictional. Even with illiteracy the story won't stand. Even with cultures of oral tradition only like mine. There is a strict division b/n fiction n history. Christ was written about as a historical figure. His brother James de Just is de 1st Bishop.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Psyniche

      Nii
      The fact that you even responded to that with an argument shows how low you're willing to stoop to make your point. Go back to your copy of "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" and leave the discussion to the rest of us.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Phosphorus

      Are you really so lazy that you can't even use a simple word such as "the" correctly? You have to use "de" instead? That looks so ghetto..."His brother James de Just is de 1st Bishop." You have lost all credibility. Congratulations!

      LMFAO @ U :-D

      April 9, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Marquette

      Phosporus, please stop harping or nit-picking on small things. Show yourself to be bigger than name calling. Do yourself justice.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Phosphorus

      A man educated in Mosaic Law and an engineer by profession should do himself justice and transition away from the lazy mode of communication that is plaguing the youngest generation right now. I'm sorry to see that you find it perfectly acceptable for a man who claims so much authority to speak from.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:06 am |
  16. Jon

    Have fun with your monotheistic mythology. Whether he existed or not is irrelevant. It is all based upon the same timeless story of a resurrection, 12 disciples, and yadda yadda yadda... same story that was told long before J.C. ever came around. Get over yourself Christians, Catholics, Mormons, etc, let's just focus on Science and trying to live peacefully amongst each other

    April 9, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • bingheidy

      Jon, can scientist solve the problem in economic crisis today?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • ricardo65

      bing, Christianity sure can't. Economics is not a hard science and you likely know that. But what the heck does religion have to do with the economy besides sucking money from fools?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Marquette

      you are right, it is not the small "facts" that are important .. the goal of all religons is to have us live in peace, treat each other with kindness and respect each other so that we don't need to argue about the small things.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • Don

      jesus can't hes dead...So ill take my chances with the scientist's that are alive

      April 9, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  17. Ken Losey

    A Chinese Christian friend of mine made a comment about Yue Yue, the two-year old who was run over – twice – in Foshan last year, and then ignored by 18 passers-by as she lay bleeding on the road. My friend said that happened because people don’t believe in a higher power and a religion that can guide them. I disagreed with her, told her I think the problem was a lack of courage, because it takes courage to feel compassion for a stranger and to help them.

    I don’t think you need to believe in Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, or a “higher power” in order to know how to live on this earth with others, in order to want to help people, to feel compassion for the poor and the suffering, and to feel love for fellow human beings. These are all natural, HUMAN traits, not given to us by gods or religious teachings. What humans lack is the courage to be this kind of naturally good person.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Marquette

      I agree, the purpose of all religions is to help guide people to aspire to live in the humane way you describe. Some people inherently know how to do that–a revealed truth– some people must be helped to see that and have the strength and courage to live like that. Everyone must come to their own understanding based on their abilities. Giving respect to others helps us all understand faster.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Phosphorus

      Another purpose of religion is domination, manipulation, and control. Those are rather important purposes that were left out.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:07 am |
  18. Mike

    Obviously Jesus exists, I met him when I was on vacation in Mexico.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Phosphorus

      I met him once while smoking some salvia from Central America. He asked me if I had any change.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • sam stone

      I think he cuts my neighbor's lawn, and I smoked some white widow with him

      April 9, 2012 at 2:09 am |
  19. billy_Spudd

    What is the big surprise?! When you have a bunch of grown adults believing some guy parted the red sea, god rode around in an ark, etc. etc and then you have others believing god sent his 'only son' on some screwy mission 'to save mankind' and could walk on water. What rationale says that people like this have the authority to challenge people who say that stuff was all made up? Just because the lunatic fringe is the mainstream, doesn't mean they are right or even possessing of the courage to seek the Truth. If god is real, then he will be found in the evidence of the Universe, afterall, he made it, ...didn't he? A Supreme Being who has to be defended by liars is no Supreme Being, but a crabbed invention of low-minded, manipulative and cynical men.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  20. Phosphorus

    Our Lord, Darth Vadar, was written about in far more books than Jesus was. By Christian logic, this is evidence that Darth Vadar was a real person. He was not just a Lord, but he was also the Father!!!

    April 9, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Phosphorus

      This was confirmed in the Gospel of Luke Skywalker.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Psyniche

      LMAO

      April 9, 2012 at 12:49 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.