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October 9th, 2013
02:27 PM ET

Creationists taunt atheists in latest billboard war

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– A new video billboard in New York's Times Square has a message from creationists, "To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you're wrong."

The video advertisement at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan is one of several billboards going up this week in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, paid for by Answers in Genesis.

Answers in Genesis is best known as the multimillion-dollar Christian ministry behind the Creation Museum outside Cincinnati.

The museum presents the case for Young Earth creationism, following what it says is a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, which says the Earth was created by God in six days less than 10,000 years ago.

Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, said the idea for the advertisements came from an atheist billboard in Times Square at Christmas.

During the holidays, the American Atheists put up a billboard with images of Santa Claus and Jesus that read: "Keep the Merry, dump the myth."

“The Bible says to contend for the faith,” Ham said. “We thought we should come up with something that would make a statement in the culture, a bold statement, and direct them to our website.

"We're not against them personally. We're not trying to attack them personally, but we do believe they're wrong," he said.

"From an atheist's perspective, they believe when they die, they cease to exist. And we say 'no, you're not going to cease to exist; you're going to spend eternity with God or without God. And if you're an atheist, you're going to be spending it without God.' "

Dave Silverman, president of the American Atheists, said he felt sad for creationists when he saw the billboards.

"They refuse to look at the real world. They refuse to look at the evidence we have, and they offer none," Silverman said. "They might as well be saying, 'Thank Zeus you're wrong' or 'Thank Thor you're wrong.' "

Silverman said he welcomed another competitor to marketplace, noting that after atheists bought a billboard two years ago in Times Square that read "You KNOW it's a myth," the Catholic League purchased competing space at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel for a sign that read "You KNOW it's true."

"I would suggest, if they're actually trying to attract atheists, they should talk about proof and reason to believe in their god, not just some pithy play on words," Silverman said.

Ham says part of the goal of the campaign is to draw people to the website for Answers in Genesis, where he offers a lengthy post on his beliefs for the proof of God.

Ham insists that this campaign is in keeping with their overall mission. "We're a biblical authority ministry. We're really on about the Bible and the Gospel. Now, we do have a specialty in the area of the creation account and Genesis because that's where we say God's word has come under attack."

Ham said Answers in Genesis made the decision to split its marketing budget for the ministry between a regional campaign for the museum and this billboard campaign, rather than a national campaign.

IRS filings for the ministry in recent years have shown a yearly operating budget of more than $25 million. Ham said the marketing budget is about 2% of that, about $500,000 a year. Though they are waiting for all the bills to come due for this campaign, he said he expected it to cost between $150,000 and $200,000.

Silverman noted that his billboards were not video and cost approximately $25,000 last year.  He said another campaign was in the works for this year.

"They're throwing down the gauntlet, and we're picking it up," Silverman said, adding that his group would "slap them in the face" with it.

Ham said that despite criticism from other Christians for being negative and the usual criticisms from secularists he received on his social media accounts, the advertisements have been a success.

"We wanted people talking about them, and we wanted discussion about this. We wanted people thinking about God," Ham said.

The Creation Museum and the theory of Young Earth creationism are widely reviled by the broader science community.

In a YouTube video posted last year titled "Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children," Bill Nye the Science Guy slammed creationism, imploring parents not to teach it to their children. "We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future," he said. "We need engineers that can build stuff and solve problems."

The museum responded with its own video. 

For the past 30 years, Gallup Inc. has been tracking American opinions about creationism.

In June 2012, Gallup's latest findings showed that 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution.

For as long as Gallup has conducted the survey, creationism has remained far and away the most popular answer, with 40% to 47% of Americans surveyed saying they believed that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years.

The Creation Museum said it recently welcomed its 2 millionth visitor since its opening in 2007.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • Creationism • New York • Science

soundoff (8,748 Responses)
  1. Stone Cold

    Creationism? Really? How dumb could someone be to believe that??

    Look, evidence is everywhere but you have to go and read!! Try even today.... go to the B B C website and search for "European origins laid bare by DNA" and you find "proof" that creationism is not real 🙂

    October 11, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Topher

      Wow, great article! Love it when they have scientific evidence to evolve their theories around (rather than just making up any old bunk)

      October 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        Are you referring to the mountain of scientific evidence for evolution? As compared to the imaginings of the bible? Show us the evidence for the creationist version.

        October 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
        • Topher

          That wasn't me. That was Fake Topher.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
        • Topher

          I think I might be schizophrenic?
          Fake Topher is that you?
          –l- -p–a-

          October 11, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  2. Peaches

    Creationism defies logic and reason, and not in a good way 🙂

    October 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  3. The Perimeter of Ignorance

    As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains, throughout history most of the great minds gave virtually no mention to any god for their discoveries and explanations. (Ptolemy, Isaac Newton, Laplace, Huygens, Galileo.) That is, until they reached the problem they felt they could not and would never fully tackle. Dr. Tyson demonstrates this with writings including footnotes from the great minds in his talk "The Perimeter of Ignorance". Perhaps that is all God has ever been – a placeholder for discomfort or frustration over the unknown; an excuse when, for one reason or another, one gives up investigation.

    President Bush after 9/11: "Our God is the God who named the stars".
    How erroneous. Two-thirds of star names have Arabic names. They came from Islam's fertile period (AD 800-1100.) During that time Baghdad was the intellectual center of the world, open to people of all or no faiths. During that time were some of the greatest advances known to mankind: engineering, biology, medicine, mathematics, celestial navigation; along with many "naming rights" – the source of the names of the numerals we use, terms like algebra and algorithm – all traceable to that 300-year intellectually fertile period.

    Enter Imam Hamid al-Ghazali in the 12th century. He writes about math being the work of the devil. The fundamentally religious period of Islam begins, the intellectual "naming-rights" period of Islam ceases and it has since never recovered.

    Another poster pointed out that Dr. Tyson also stressed that non-believers have to acknowledge intelligent design because it has occurred throughout the history of science, even with some of the greatest minds. But for the latter, apparently it has only been an option when they felt they came to the end of their ability. Perhaps today's leading scientists should be mindful that newer discoveries and explanations have already replaced someone's god of the past.

    Young-earth Creationists are like al-Ghazali. They are simply attempting to stunt intellectual growth via commercial dissemination of their really, really, really bad "science".

    October 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • midwest rail

      It's not that it's really bad science. By their own definition, creationist science is not science at all.

      October 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
      • Billy

        Me thinks that's why science was in quotes.

        October 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        True – it's what they would call "disbelief." They are "faithless."

        October 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      “Perhaps that is all God has ever been – a placeholder for discomfort or frustration over the unknown; an excuse when, for one reason or another, one gives up investigation.”

      While all anyone can do is speak from their own experience, I’ve never personally heard anyone come to faith by this method.

      October 11, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
      • ME II

        I think he meant in the context of scientific writing.

        "That is, until they reached the problem they felt they could not and would never fully tackle. "

        Sounds like another phrase for "god of the gaps".

        October 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
      • jay

        Or when someone finds the truth, then science is just fun, you see trillions of dollars spent to prove there is no God, yet once you understand God and the game of life. Science can prolong life, yet it connot give you the meaning of life. All the science in the world most has been used to kill others, guns, bombs, chemical weapons. Created cancer, toxic waste and plenty of bad things designed to kill humans and make people rich...I love science don't you....hahaha...personally the world is a joke, its run by humans not God, or it would be Heaven as it was designed...freewill got us to this place in history, all the science in the world cannot save your soul, science cannot prove a soul exists yet we are different from every animal on the planet...explain please, why humans are the only species who truly evolved and separated from other mammals....alligators should be walking upright by now, they've been here for a billion years, yet they didn't evolve....hmmmm...I don't understand explain please.

        October 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • Thinker...

          What do you mean 'humans are the only creatures to have truely evolved'? At one time there were atleast 4 different variaties of hominids. We are just the only ones that survived. And why would alligators be walking on their hind legs? They are pretty well adapted to their environment already and don't really have any pressures driving them to evolve further. Our intelligence isn't a goal or and end being worked towards. It turns out that our intelligence is a remarkably effective method of survival, but it isn't the only one. Our single biggest advantage is our ability to communicate symbolically and pass information through the genrations. Another big advantage is our tendency to see agency in everything. While it creats silly things like volcano-gods, it also allows us to better predict the actions of other animals. We are only 'unique' because the other species like us died off. It is quite possible that since we have similar requirements for life we just out-competed them and drove them to extinction.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
        • doobzz

          ", you see trillions of dollars spent to prove there is no God,"

          Could you provide a citation for this?

          October 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
      • Billy

        jay: "why humans are the only species who truly evolved and separated from other mammals....alligators should be walking upright by now, they've been here for a billion years, yet they didn't evolve"

        uhhhhhh no.

        Also, check out the immune system the modern alligator has. Something for us humans to be jealous of.

        October 11, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • Lisa

        Whenever "Jesus, Take the Wheel" use to play on the radio all I can imagine was a woman giving up on managing their own lives. How very sad, not that she should simply give up, but for imagining that some kind of safety net like this actually existed. We can't escape our responsibilities so easily, I'm afraid.

        October 11, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  4. Repost

    PRICELESS (and TRUE)

    "We're not against them personally, we just think they are going to burn in hell."
    I have to say that this billboard, with intent or not, does inject just a tiny glimmer of humor into the line which is more than is usually present in any religious statement. So kudos for that.
    However, I prefer the humor of Mutantruth's line 'My imaginary friend is real. He told me so." That's it in a nutshell.

    October 11, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  5. Cell

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDhVQVqudH8&w=640&h=390]

    October 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • How funny!

      Physics is poorer than math, and evolution is poorer than physics – so don't believe. And the admission, "Minor changes within species happen..." – hello! That's evolution.

      October 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • Topher

        No. That's natural selection (or micro-evolution, if you will). But it's not what Darwin was talking about.

        October 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          Natural selection is "this change" is better than "that change" for this set of conditions. That's why we have antibiotic resistant bacteria. Duh.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • Topher

          So the bacteria evolved into what?

          October 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • Topher

          into more bacteria?

          October 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Topher

          That's right, Fake Topher. The bacteria became bacteria. And that's supposed to prove evolution.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • Rundvelt

          > That's right, Fake Topher. The bacteria became bacteria. And that's supposed to prove evolution.

          It does. If you have any knowledge about what evolution is.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • Topher

          Of course I do. It's nothing more than speciation. If it were Darwinian evolution it would no longer be bacteria.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • chubby rain

          Topher, the only difference between "microevolution" and "macroevolution" is time. The mechanisms (mutations, selection pressures, etc.) remain the same. With the advent of modern genetics, evolution is one of the most thoroughly vetted theories in science. And modern medicine has reaped the benefits.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
        • Topher

          chubby rain

          "With the advent of modern genetics, evolution is one of the most thoroughly vetted theories in science. And modern medicine has reaped the benefits."

          Except the scientific method rejects evolution.

          Again, for it to be Darwinian evolution, you'd need a change in kinds. This is just natural selection.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • chubby rain

          Topher, "kinds" and "species" are somewhat arbitrary terms. For instance, are horses and donkeys different species? They can produce offspring, but that offspring is sterile.

          Perhaps it would be helpful if you defined what you mean by "Darwinian Evolution".

          October 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
        • Topher

          chubby rain

          "Perhaps it would be helpful if you defined what you mean by "Darwinian Evolution"."

          An animal of a kind, let's say canine (dog) kind, becomes over a long period of time/generations, NOT a canine.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
        • chubby rain

          So your problem is with common ancestry, which has been thoroughly answered with genetic sequencing. We can identify proteins that play functionally similar roles in multiple species (for instance dogs and humans). There are certain sequences that are conserved – these are vital for function. The remaining sequences have a minor or negligible effect on the function and these are free to change. The fact that there are proteins in different species with identical functions and identical/near-identical sequences proves that both species originated from a common ancestor. The changes in nonessential sequences indicates when that common ancestor lived.

          October 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      No, his problem is with reality. The more I talk with believers, the more I see "belief" as "delusion." It's truly astounding.

      October 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  6. bill145

    46% of americans believe the world was created by god 10,000 years ago? That I don't believe. Maybe 46% of americans don't believe in evolution, but no way 46% of the US believes god created the earth 10,000 years ago.

    October 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Please feel free to take it up with Gallup. 46% comes from 2012. The data are pretty consistent over the years.

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/evolution-creationism-intelligent-design.aspx

      October 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • jay

      Simantics, the question is . Is every history book you've read growing up true, 100% true, or like when my history book omitted that Martin Luther King was killed by the Government. Funny I went to a public school which has a government curriculum and they didn't teach us the truth, google it...its proven in court...so what does this teach us, who can you really trust...No one, find God and you will see the truth. Everything else is a distortion to benefit someone, or something. Jesus taught you how to connect with God, yet the roman government killed him...do u see a pattern?

      October 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • How funny!

      Yes, all of these:

      2.1 Uranium-lead dating method
      2.2 Samarium-neodymium dating method
      Potassium-argon dating method
      Rubidium-strontium dating method
      Uranium-thorium dating method
      Radiocarbon dating method
      Fission track dating method
      Chlorine-36 dating method
      Carbon-14 dating method

      ... are faulty, even though they agree with each other geologically, ... but the Bible is right, and there's no proof.

      October 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
      • Topher

        Those DO NOT all agree.

        October 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
        • Rundvelt

          They do not agree in the way that they do not arrive at the exact same answer. They agree within a time range.

          If I look at the colour blue, I could say "it's greeny blue". You could say "No, it's flat blue". But we both agree it's blue. Creation science says "there is no blue". And that's why it disproves it.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • Topher

          They don't even agree on a time range. Carbon14 can't point to an old earth. If anything it rejects old earth outright.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • chubby rain

          You might want to take a college level physics course, Topher. Pay special attention when the professor starts talking about "half-lives".

          October 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • Madtown

          The only coursework Topher is interested in, would be continued study of the Good Book.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Observer

          Topher

          "Carbon14 can't point to an old earth. If anything it rejects old earth outright."

          Rejects outright? What a joke. Carbon14 won't work on items older than 60,000 years. Your ridiculous argument is similar to claiming that there's nothing longer than a foot since a ruler only goes for 12 inches.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
        • Topher

          Observer

          "Carbon14 won't work on items older than 60,000 years."

          True. Which is why it can't point at an old earth.

          "Your ridiculous argument is similar to claiming that there's nothing longer than a foot since a ruler only goes for 12 inches."

          Then why is it that we take a fossil that is supposedly millions of years old and find carbon in it? There shouldn't be any at that age.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
        • Topher

          Madtown

          "The only coursework Topher is interested in, would be continued study of the Good Book."

          That's a pretty fair as.sessment. The Good Book is the only thing that is meaningful to my life.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
        • chubby rain

          "Then why is it that we take a fossil that is supposedly millions of years old and find carbon in it? There shouldn't be any at that age."

          Because if you looked up the definition of half-life, like I recommended, you would know that carbon-14 theoretically never fully disappears from the sample. If you continuously cut something in half, you just get smaller and smaller pieces. Can you by eye tell the difference between 1/128 and 1/256 of an inch? That is why using carbon-14, which has a half-life of 5700 years, to date something millions of years old is in effective and shows an incredible ignorance of simple physics.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • Topher

          Chubby

          So wait, either it can date to more than 60,000 years or it can't. Which is it?

          October 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
        • chubby rain

          Carbon-14 cannot be used to date something older that 60,000 years (about 10 half-lives). You would have to use other isotopes, like those below. As you can see, there are quite a few that can confirm the age of the earth (4.5 x 10^9 years).

          Parent isotope End product Half-life(years)
          potassium-40 (40K) argon-40 (40Ar) 1.25 × 10^9
          rubidium-87 (87Rb) strontium-87 (87Sr) 4.88 × 10^10
          carbon-14 (14C) nitrogen-14 (14N) 5.73 × 10^3
          uranium-235 (235O) lead-207 (207Pb) 7.04 × 10^8
          uranium-238 (238O) lead-206 (206Pb) 4.47 × 10^9
          thorium-232 (232Th) lead-208 (208Pb) 1.40 × 10^10
          lutetium-176 (176Lu) hafnium-176 (176Hf) 3.5 × 10^10
          rhenium-187 (187Re) osmium-187 (187Os) 4.3 × 10^10
          samarium-147 (147Sm) neodymium-143 (143Nd) 1.06 × 10^11

          October 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Topher

          Chubby

          Thank you for answering the question. I'm not saying there aren't several dating methods that point to an old earth. There are. But there are far more that point to a young earth.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          How young is your young earth, Topher? Even 19th century scientists had sound reasons for believing the earth to be at least hundreds of millions of years old.

          October 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • chubby rain

          Topher, which ones have been used to prove a young earth? It has to be several and they all have to point to approximately the same date?

          October 11, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  7. What if Atheists are wrong?

    What if Atheists are wrong?[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLw7lgmR0M0&w=640&h=390]

    October 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • jay

      Two choices, Follow Christ or the Anti Christ...sorry there are no other choices...you believe In God or not, Jesus gives you a simple way to find God. If you have a relationship with God Great, if not we are suppose to pray for your soul, since you do not believe you have a soul, the anti Christ owns your soul, as dark as that sounds...its real, and its a game we all play. You will understand when the game is over...

      October 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
      • devin

        Ok Jay, I"m in!

        Don't believe in any of it anyway, but I choose the dark side. I'll come find you, Jesus, AND Lesus and we can start a new trinity with new rules.

        God is dead son, let him go...

        It's all in your mind. No Zeus, no Thor, no Osiris.

        No soul. No living after you die. It was all Bronze Age bunk, find a new god that fits the 21st century, I recommend SCI-FI as the new god...

        October 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • jay

          Ok Devin, answer me this why would you waste any energy on this cnn comment section, is life truly that boring, or does your dark side enjoy it...we both know the answer...

          October 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
        • Peaches

          Creationism seems to be very similar to Alchemy.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
      • Cristeros for Satan

        jay

        Two choices, Follow Christ or the Anti Christ...sorry there are no other choices...
        -------–
        Actually you are quite wrong and your post screams ignorance. Now go pray to your Lesus.

        October 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
      • tallulah13

        There are actually thousands of choices, Jay. There are as many choices as there have been gods worshiped by men. There is no evidence that any of them ever existed, not even your god, so you really can't count any of them out. So choose well. I don't think Osiris will give you points for worshiping the wrong god.

        October 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
      • Rundvelt

        Jay, think about this.

        God is a being of infinite power, infinite knowledge. And yet he relies on humans to give his message forth. Why is that?

        And if you answer "Free Will", see the Devil. The devil knows of God and chooses to defy him. Therefore knoweldge of God does not remove free will.

        And this message is so important, it means being tortured forever, but this being of infinite power does nothing to let us know and relies on humans and a total lack of evidence to have this message go forth.

        My quesiton is, why is your God so incompetient and silly?

        October 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • Ben

        jay
        More accurately, the two choices are "Follow Christianity", or "Don't follow Christianity", right? I've seen the case for Christianity, and it doesn't impress me enough to think it worthy of following. You see, truth is actually important to me.

        October 11, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
      • Maxwell's Demon

        Belief isn't a choice.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  8. jay

    What if we divided the united states into Democrats and Republican states, or Christ and Anti Christ states, see it doesn't matter everyone is going to fight until the day they die, and at that point you will see if it was worth it. Personal attacks are not Godly or cool, if you take pleasure from hurting others maybe just maybe your not a Christian, your a wolf in sheeps clothing, working for the Anti Christ movement...seriously, just go about your business and leave personal attacks for the man or women in the mirror...

    October 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Lisa

      If you do, you will be basically dividing the USA into the richer regions that are the most secular, and the poorer regions that are the most religious. Are you sure that your people can survive without our tax base?

      October 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  9. Lewis Black for President

    "There are people who believe that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, that they roamed the Earth at the same time. There are museums that children go to, in which they build dioramas to show them this. And what this is, purely and simply, is a clinical psychotic reaction. They are crazy. They are stone-cold-fvck nuts. I can't be kind about this, because these people are watching The Flinstones as if it were a documentary."

    October 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • jay

      THE LAND OF THE LOST, Marshall Will and Holly, and space creatures, and chaka...they all existed on that show at the same time...hahaha, so what if God likes games, since its called the game of life, clues but nothing that anyone can prove or disprove. Then you would spend your whole life searching for answers, yet if we have been around since caveman days someone would have figured it out either way, unless thats the whole point...you must have faith in something bigger than yourself...then the answer becomes clear. Why did Martin Luther King free his people, yet believed in God, and Moses, again someone or something gave them the power and wisdom to do great things , not for money...think about it...could it be a inspirational voice that guided both of them...they could have been selfish geocentric people which the world is full of, yet the risked everything to free some people...would U? Not if your an atheist...no reason to...its all about u...

      October 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
      • jay

        Geocentric, egocentric....you get the point...would you sacrafice anything for someone who is not directly related to you, if there was zero money to gain? Not likely, yet Christians have forever...real Christians...big difference

        October 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        It's like the original poster called for an example of the religious" crazy " and the " stone-cold-fvck nuts." and jay popped up like "You rang???...

        October 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  10. ME II

    Perhaps I've missed some, but it appears to me that there have been no Atheists yelling about how offended they are by this billboard. Or how discriminatory it is.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Ben

      It's actually kinda sad, like saying "Says you!" as a comeback from a really good zinger. It reaffirms my trust in atheist if that's the best response they can come up with.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Billy

      Could it be a quiet, calculated reaction for some? (Similar to how some hope that a really stupid politician gets just enough traction to win the nomination for their party so that, in the end, the landslide against said candidate will be huge.)

      October 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • ME II

      In comparison to the outrage by Christians at any hint of disagreement with their beliefs, it seems to be a much more grown up response.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Ben

      Maybe along the lines of, the best way to argue against creationism is just to get creationists to express their beliefs publicly?

      October 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • aldewacs2

      Atheists are just smiling and thanking the Pink Unicorn that Christians are at least trying to display a sense of humor. Sort of at the level of a 4-year old.

      October 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  11. JGN

    "We're not against them personally, we just think they are going to burn in hell."
    I have to say that this billboard, with intent or not, does inject just a tiny gllimmer of humor into the line which is more than is usually present in any religious statement. So kudos for that.
    However, I prefer the humor of Mutantruth's line 'My imaginary friend is real. He told me so." That's it in a nutshell.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  12. Universe

    In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

    “By the fig and the olive.
    Mount Sinai.
    And this honored town (Mecca).”* 95:1-3

    *95:1-3 The fig, olive, Sinai and Mecca possibly symbolize Adam, Jesus, Moses, Abraham and Muhammad, respectively. Thus, all major religions are represented.

    “We created man in the best design.
    Then turned him into the lowliest of the lowly.
    Except those who believe and lead a righteous life; they receive a reward that is well deserved.
    Why do you still reject the faith?
    Is God not the Most Wise, of all the wise ones?” 95:4-8

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is.” [19:35]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “Recall that your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a representative on Earth." They said, "Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?" He said, "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

    “They say , "We live only this life; we will not be resurrected. If you could only see them when they stand before their Lord! He would say, "Is this not the truth?" They would say, "Yes, by our Lord." He would say, "You have incurred the retribution by your disbelief." [6:30]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Lisa

      These "Answers in Genesis" types think you're dead wrong as well, you know? In their imaginations you'll be roasting alongside us for their enjoyment.

      October 11, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Reality # 2

      Now moving to the horror and terror of the Koran if you are infidel or even a Muslim of a different sect:

      http://www.muslimaccess.com/quraan/arabic/005.asp et al

      o "Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends." (Surah 5:51)
      o
      "Believers, when you encounter the infidels on the march, do not turn your backs to them in flight. If anyone on that day turns his back to them, except it be for tactical reasons...he shall incur the wrath of God and Hell shall be his home..." (Surah 8:12-)

      "Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme." (Surah 8:36-)

      "...make war on the leaders of unbelief...Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them..." (Surah 9:12-)

      "Fight against such as those to whom the Scriptures were given [Jews and Christians]...until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (Surah 9:27-)

      "It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true Faith [Islam] to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters [non-Muslims] may dislike it." (Surah 9:31-)

      "If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men." (Surah 9:37-)

      "Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home." (Surah 9:73)

      "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121-)

      "Say: 'Praise be to God who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in His Kingdom..." (Surah 17:111)

      "'How shall I bear a child,' she [Mary] answered, 'when I am a virgin...?' 'Such is the will of the Lord,' he replied. 'That is no difficult thing for Him...God forbid that He [God[ Himself should beget a son!...Those who say: 'The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,' preach a monstrous falsehood..." (Surah 19:12-, 29-, 88)

      "Fight for the cause of God with the devotion due to Him...He has given you the name of Muslims..." (Surah 22:78-)

      "Blessed are the believers...who restrain their carnal desires (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them)...These are the heirs of Paradise..." (Surah 23:1-5-)

      "Muhammad is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another." (Surah 48:29)

      "Shall the reward of goodness be anything but good?...Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents...They shall recline on green cushions and fine carpets...Blessed be the name of your Lord..." (Surah 55:52-66-)

      October 11, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  13. Frank

    Why is this a blog post and not a real article?

    October 11, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Gozer

      Why is this a blog comment and not a real post?

      October 11, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Sara

      Reduces the standards of journalism to which you have to pretend to adhere.

      October 11, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Uh... because this is the "CNN Belief Blog".

      October 11, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  14. Sue

    2000 years and still not a peep from Christian god. For that reason alone, a high degree of doubt is entirely reasonable, but more than that, the crazy, even self-contradictory claims in the Christian myths should make any reasonable person not believe in the Christian stories. Seriously.

    I'm fed up with Christian nonsense, and I think that religion is harming America's future, via suppression of critical thinking skills development, and more. Put up your modern evidence for your beliefs or shut up already. It's high time to put away the Christian fairy tales.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      2000 years seems like a long time from the human perspective doesn't it? How old did you say the universe was again?

      October 11, 2013 at 11:14 am |
      • Sara

        2000 years is a long time to go for someone who supposedly wants to get his message across. I'd call it either lazy, incompetent, or toying with your minions.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          or patience with slow learners

          October 11, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Topher

          Patience and grace considering what it will mean for most people when He comes.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • Sara

          Bill, that would only make sense if the individuals lived 2000 years and had time to work things out. With people punished or rewarded at the individual level, that would just make god kind of a jerk.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • Sue

          What Sara said. 100% agree.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:21 am |
        • sam stone

          gopher: you remain a coward

          how a nice day,

          schmuck

          October 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
      • The Demon Deacon

        As usual, another asinine comment from Boof Deacon the jerk .

        Stupid Boof, 2000 years, many human lifetimes, is too long to reasonably expect humans to wait for proof, and your stories don't hold together. Toss them already. You suck shit.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • Ben

        It's the metaphoric equal to a guy in his 70's still expecting his dad to return from a trip to the store he made to "buy some smokes" when he was 6. At some time, you just have to face that Daddy isn't going to come back, and get on with your life.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • Sara

          Good comparison. It makes me think of those sad stories about the dogs who wait every day for their master to come home. On the other hand, untruths also have soeme power to bring happiness, which is fine as long as they don't also bring dangerous unscientific thinking.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:31 am |
        • Topher

          Not a good comparison. It's a fallacy, actually. You're giving fallable human attributes to God.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:40 am |
        • Ben

          Topher
          "Fallible" human attributes like "Love", "Goodness", and being a "Father"?

          October 11, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Topher

          Ben

          "Fallible" human attributes like "Love", "Goodness", and being a "Father"?

          The father in your scenario displays none of these.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:48 am |
        • Madtown

          You're giving fallable human attributes to God.
          --------
          Also like jealousy, and insecurity through a need to be worshipped.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • Ben

          He's behaving exactly like the "father" in your scenario, isn't he? He makes a promise to return shortly, but is never seen again. It's easy to dream up some noble reason for my dad not to return to his kid. Maybe he got amnesia, was recruited by the CIA, or abducted by aliens.

          Lots of kids come up with stuff like that, and when Jesus failed to return, his followers came up with their excuses as well, including the idea that he must have been divine to be able to wait that long to return.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:57 am |
        • Topher

          Ben

          "He's behaving exactly like the "father" in your scenario, isn't he?"

          Well, no. And I'll tell you why. He's showing kindness and grace by not returning yet. We actually call this, among other things, the Age of Grace. Think about it. By not returning yet, more and more people have the opportunity to turn to Him. People like myself who shook his fist at God for nearly 30 years was able to eventually repent and trust in Him for my salvation. If Christ returned today, would you be ready? No offense, but I'm guessing not. So by His delay, He's showing you mercy.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • sam stone

          seems to correlate that the portions of the american society which have the highest rate of fatherless homes are the ones who have the most faith in jeebus

          i suppose they feel that knocking up a little girl and letting the world deal with the blatherings of the illegitimate child is a a godly thing

          ironically, letting someone else take the fall for your guilt is also part of this belief system

          October 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
        • sam stone

          We actually call this, among other things, non existence

          October 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • Ben

          The dad in my scenario could be staying away to protect his son from the mob. One could imagine lots of noble reasons for not returning, fiction is full of this kind of fantasy.

          If 2000 years delay is just to harvest more souls (kinda a selfish thing on God's part to do considering that he's supposed to destroy us as a species when he returns, right?), why not wait for 20,000 years, or 2 million? Had he returned in a few years, as expected, we'd never have been born. If it's just a numbers game, why does he need so many souls? Does their energy feed him, or something?

          It's not "mercy" unless I choose to think selfishly, as though my existence means something more than the billions of other people who died without believing in Jesus. If God didn't come back for all their sakes why would I be egotistical enough to think that I'm more important than all of them were?

          October 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
        • sam stone

          Ben: Isn't pure ego largely what this belief system (particularly the evangelists) is about?

          If you listen to them, they do not simply BELIEVE, they KNOW,

          Gopher is a fine example of that, as well as being a coward

          October 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • JWT

          Hmm ready for jesus to come back. Should I get a machete or a .44 ? Is there any kind of special metal needed to fight zombies ?

          October 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
        • Ben

          sam
          Thinking that the most powerful being imaginable would have a special interest in you personally, enough to bend reality and not allow you to actually die, and that the universe itself was specially created just for your kind, is about as egotistical as one can get, IMHO.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • Just the facts mam

        2000 years is a long time if you think the earth is only 6,000 years old

        October 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Lisa

      Yup, 2000 years of sitting on the edge of your seat sure does produce a lot of pains in the a$$! 😉

      October 11, 2013 at 11:16 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        We were talking about this last night. About how so many people are sitting on the edge of there seat waiting for God to do something, to show himself and how few people say "I will seek him"

        October 11, 2013 at 11:18 am |
        • Sara

          According to the story God did show himself to people, and has done so many times, and it was effective. If it works, why wouldn't he do it again? Favoritism? Laziness? Lack of clarity of purpose? Or perhaps a story that just doesn't hang together?

          October 11, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • Sue

          Baloney, Bill. And why should anyone have to "seek" an omnipotent being.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • Ben

          Bill
          By "seek" you mean "point to any random thing, and call that proof of God", right? Why not put on a blindfold, spin yourself around a dozen times, jab your finder out anywhere and yell "This is my proof of God" before uncovering your eyes?

          October 11, 2013 at 11:33 am |
        • A Frayed Knot

          Sara,

          Well, at the time that the alleged Jesus was around, doing his "God" schtick, the vast majority of the residents of the area did not buy it... and the Jews really wanted that Messiah to pop up too.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Ben

          Sara
          Maybe God died since then?

          October 11, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • Sara

          Frayed, those who got the good evidence supposedly bought it. Of course random people hearing it third hand didn't. It took centuries of snowballing gullibility to get to the point that people would believe this stuff from total strangers. A good theological explanation of why god rewards the gullible is what the story is missing.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • Sara

          Ben, Maybe he just lost interest.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:40 am |
        • Topher

          Ben

          "Maybe God died since then?"

          God can't die. First, He exists outside of time. Second, He is "from everlasting to everlasting."

          October 11, 2013 at 11:41 am |
        • sam stone

          more unsupportable claims from gopher. who could have seen that coming?

          October 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • Ben

          Bill
          How does anyone know that God can't die? How could even he know (if he were real) that he can't die? Nobody knows that they "can" die until they do. Who knows, maybe you're immortal? You haven't died yet, right?

          How would God even know that he is all-knowing? He could just be assuming it, while all the time being ignorant of lots of stuff. Similarly, he may think that he created everything, but how could he be certain that some other gods didn't help him, or that the universe just happened naturally and that he mistook a fart he made as having something to do with it? I really don't see how anyone thinking that they are omni anything could know that for sure. And how could he know that he always was, and didn't have parents? They could have abandoned him in his own little dimension, and he could have grown up none the wiser. None of us can remember being born, can we?

          October 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • ME II

          @Topher,
          You keep making claims as if they were true. Why should anyone believe your claims about such a God?

          October 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Maybe some people are either incapable of seeing or refuse. Is there a logical proof that this isn't possible?

          October 11, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • Ben

          Bill
          Maybe some people are incapable of seeing the validity of solid science, but I suspect that they just refuse to see it, or are sheltered from it by homeschooling parents and close-minded religious communities.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          I'll take that as a "no"

          October 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
        • Ben

          Bill
          I'm sure that you'll take it any way you want to, as you do many other things.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Paul

      "...via suppression of critical thinking skills development, and more."

      You want to see suppression of critical thinking skills? Try attending a public school or university.

      October 11, 2013 at 11:29 am |
      • Ben

        Luap ,sdrawkcab ssa.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • Thinker...

          Nice. Interesting way to get by the auto-censor though.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      2000 years? You mean since the Bible claims that a god appeared? Well, I don't believe the claims, so I'm at 12 billions years and counting.

      October 11, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  15. Jim

    It's not exactly a "taunt" as described in the t/tle of your post, it's more of a "nudge".

    October 11, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • An example of a taunt

      Bill Nye danced on the ballroom floor,
      Bill Nye had a great fall on the dance floor,
      All the apes could not put Bill Nye back on the dance floor again!

      🙂

      October 11, 2013 at 10:55 am |
      • cha cha cha

        [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZtHZM8XYUQ&w=640&h=390]

        October 11, 2013 at 10:57 am |
      • Lisa

        You only wish Ham and the other creationist b00bs could dance as well as Bill! 🙂

        October 11, 2013 at 11:13 am |
      • Rappin' for Our Lord

        [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kppx4bzfAaE&w=640&h=390]

        October 11, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Topher

      Or a "Come to your senses!"

      October 11, 2013 at 10:55 am |
      • Lisa

        What senses would those be? "Savior sense" instead of Spidy Sense?

        October 11, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • Topher

          Does the Doc Ock/Spider-Man still have Spidey-Senses?

          But I digress. What I mean is you already know God exists. You just suppress that truth in unrighteousness.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • ME II

          @Topher,
          Religious double talk. How do you know what other people know?

          October 11, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • Topher

          Because God says that it's true of everyone. He said He gave us the Creation and a conscience so that none of us will have an excuse. He also said He's written His laws on our hearts ... that's why we universally know it's wrong to lie, steal, commit adultery, etc.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • ME II

          @Toopher,
          "Because God says that it's true of everyone"

          Actually, you "think" your supposed God said that based on book(s) written a long time ago and your belief that they are true.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
        • In case you didn't notice

          you're doing this again, Topher:

          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YIj4rLYo0c&w=640&h=390]

          October 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • Valentine

          Topher,
          " He's written His laws on our hearts "

          Even your old book says that the "heart" stuff is not valid:

          "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" –Proverbs 28:26

          October 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
        • Topher

          ME II

          "Actually, you "think" your supposed God said that based on book(s) written a long time ago and your belief that they are true."

          Fair enough, though I'd say I KNOW it more than I "think" it's true. Either way, that's what God said in the Bible.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
        • Lia

          Topher
          I could just as easily claim that you "know" that Apollo is actually the sun. I can claim any number of things that could be in your head and that would be as valid as you're making any claims of what's in mine. You're not claiming to be a telepath, are you?

          How, prey tell, would I already know that God exists? If this were natural, what use was it for God to have the Bible ghost written for himself?

          October 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • sam stone

          nothng egogtistical about that, is there gopher?

          October 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      A nudge would be something more like, perhaps, providing a reason to believe in a god. I think that merely saying "you're wrong, niener, niener" more closely resemble a taunt.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  16. magicpanties

    My invisible pink unicorn created the universe.
    It says so in an old notebook I read.
    You can't prove this isn't true; therefore, it must be.
    So thank my unicorn for... everything.

    October 11, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  17. magicpanties

    Thank Zeus I have a brain and I know how to use it.

    October 11, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Ben

      Better to read your Greek mythology. Zeus and the other gods wanted to keep humans dumb like Bible god, and it took their hero, Prometheus, to steal knowledge for humanity like Adam did. He was punished pretty severely for it too.

      Along the same lines, their Pandora served the same role as Eve in bringing suffering into the world. Funny how all these old myths all seem to share the same themes, eh?

      October 11, 2013 at 11:21 am |
      • aldewacs2

        it's absolutely magical.
        Or .. balderdash?

        October 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    Christians arguing stories from their bible vs. scientific facts is like arguing about Santa's sleigh flying ... sure it says it flies in the stories but the facts are that there is no Santa (sorry kids), there is no magic sleigh, and there are no magical reindeer to guide his sleigh tonight. Anyone using any story in the bible as a fact to argue against scientifically proven evidence is deluding themselves and annoying the sane.

    And you Christians wonder why we atheists sound annoyed all the time.

    October 11, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Russ

      @ Dyslexic:
      if you're serious about this argument, take the 15 minutes to read this famous essay (from a life-long myth scholar on why the NT cannot be read as myth):
      http://orthodox-web.tripod.com/papers/fern_seed.html

      here's a sample:
      "I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage – though it may no doubt contain errors – pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned to read. I would recommend him to read Auerbach."

      October 11, 2013 at 10:20 am |
      • Sara

        Believers in every religious myth say the same thing.

        October 11, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • Russ

          @ Sara: no. you clearly did not read the essay.

          just regarding myth:

          1) ancient myth always arises 100s of years later than the supposed events. these "stories" arise within the lifetime of supposed eyewitnesses. that's a serious problem for myth.

          2) the genre alone is a major problem. IF – as is being claimed – this is fiction (much less even myth), there is nothing like it for another 1700 years. to claim this is purposefully fictional reporting is to equate it with modern, novelistic, realistic fiction. (for example, you never hear Homer saying "Odysseus left the cave around 3:30pm and rowed 3 or 3.5 miles out into the sea." such detail is a mark of historical reportage in the ancient world.) in other words, you are making an anachronistic claim (reading modern genre into an ancient world in which it DID NOT exist).

          just from genre, that's historically preposterous. it's to claim that the MOST read literary work in history had ZERO copycats just in style alone (NOTE: the apocryphal gospels DO NOT have this sort of detail). if it's purposeful fiction & clearly incredibly successful as such, why wasn't the genre copied for another 1700 years?

          SUM: ironically, you are re-narrating historical accounts to match your preconceived notions. THAT is a form of myth-writing (anachronistic self-projection). and YES, *that* is a myth that should be dismissed... a myth of *your* own making. but it's not actually engaging history or literature – much less an honest look at Christianity.

          October 11, 2013 at 10:42 am |
        • Sara

          Russ, if that were true I'd have to believe Joseph's Smith's strory of how he worked his magic stones.

          The point is that we're talking about a mixture of fact and fantasy. Certainly most of us will give that a guy existed and had some followers and was executed. But like Sai baba today, Joseph Smith in the 1800s and many others, followers add to the stories. There's a man right now in India who claims not to have eaten for years...witnesses and everything. Do you believe it?

          October 11, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • Sue

          Russ, your claims are pretty pathetic. Look, 2000 years and not a peep from Christian god. For that reason alone, a high degree of doubt is entirely reasonable, but more than that, the crazy, even self-contradictory claims in the Christian myths should make any reasonable person not believe in the Christian stories.

          I'm fed up with your Christian nonsense, and I think your religion is harming America's future. Put up your modern evidence for your beliefs or shut up already. It's high time to put away the Christian fairy tales.

          October 11, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • Sue

          2000 years and still not a peep from Christian god. For that reason alone, a high degree of doubt is entirely reasonable, but more than that, the crazy, even self-contradictory claims in the Christian myths should make any reasonable person not believe in the Christian stories.

          I'm fed up with Christian nonsense, and I think that religion is harming America's future, via suppression of critical thinking skills development, and more. Put up your modern evidence for your beliefs or shut up already. It's high time to put away the Christian fairy tales.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:03 am |
        • Russ

          @ Sara: your examples actually further my case.

          1) Joseph Smith's claims have been called into question – even by those among his followers. notably, unlike biblical doc.uments, any scholar has full access to the earliest manuscripts. the Dead Sea Scrolls can now be viewed online. in contrast, Joseph Smith's earliest writings are kept under lock & key – far away from the public. hmmm...

          2) Sai Baba has been rather thoroughly exposed – even accused of se.xual abuse. while Jesus' opponents certainly falsely accused him, they NEVER questioned the legitimacy of his miracles. that is astounding. the ways his enemies successfully charged him were twofold: a) among the Jews, as one who claimed to be God; b) among the Romans, as one who claimed to be King. BOTH accusations Christians still claim as central to our faith.

          SUM: again, proximity to the claims is key. and note the nature of the accusations.

          historically speaking, Jesus is the only historical personage to make such megalomaniacal claims and to garner such a huge following. unlike virtually any other person in history to claim to be God, the movement continued AFTER his death – growing exponentially. and – possibly most astoundingly – for the most critical, first 300 years, it grew NOT through political manuevering or military might. how did it gain such ascendancy in the most sophisticated culture in the world at that time (the same culture that gave us philosophy and cynicism)?

          as Yale historian Kenneth Scott Latourette has said:
          "Why, among all the cults and philosophies competing in the Greco-Roman world, did Christianity succeed and outstrip all others? Why did it succeed despite getting more severe opposition than any other? Why did it succeed though it had no influential backers in high places, but consisted mainly of the poor and slaves? How did it succeed so completely that it forced the most powerful state in history to come to terms with it, and then outlive the very empire that sought to uproot it? It is clear that at the very beginning of Christianity there must have occurred a vast release of energy perhaps unequaled in our history. Without it, the future course of the Christian religion is inexplicable."

          October 11, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • Russ

          @ Sue: it's precisely your critical thinking skills to which I'm appealing.
          you don't consider the disciplines of historical and literary scholarship as thoroughly modern?

          October 11, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • Sara

          Russ, all you're saying is that the Jesus story happened so long ago that any objections are long lost and trampled by centuries of an authoritarian church. Look, if you're that committed to gullibility, go for it.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • Doris

          I still find it quite telling that when faced with the charges of plagiarism, the main excuse of several early apologists (including J Martyr) could come up with was something similar to "it was the devil – he purposely planned things in reverse order to confuse the faithful" (diabolic mimicry/plagiarism in anticipation).

          October 11, 2013 at 11:50 am |
        • Russ

          @ Sara: no. again you are being anachronistic.

          for the first 300 years, the Church had no such political standing or power structure to filter out others. your conspiracy theory here requires a denial of the historical setting. the Roman Empire was decidedly pagan – and often outright anti-Christian – during that era.

          it also requires ignoring that most (if not all) of the NT accounts were written within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. Paul writes 1 Corinthians within 20 (if not 15) years of Jesus' death. there's simply not time to make this stuff up. he names the names of eyewitnesses. he claims Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once. he's doing that in the midst of the pax Romana – a time of unprecedented free commerce & travel. in other words, he's inviting fact checking.

          point being: Christianity (unlike most other major religions) is not contingent on a set of ethical teachings, but the historical fact of who Jesus is and what he has done (it's "news", not advice). Christianity does not get off the ground if these events cannot be corroborated.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris: why do you only cite that remark? why are you filtering out that the pseudo-Gospels & the apocryphal writings were disregarded because they were all demonstrable later & had no tangible link to the source? doesn't good modern scholarship equally value those two criteria? and if Justin Martyr thereby infers spiritual meaning behind fabricated & clearly false attempts to hijack the earlier message, while you may disagree with his spiritual beliefs, the historical problems remain for those later fabrications.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • Doris

          Russ: "it also requires ignoring that most (if not all) of the NT accounts were written within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses."

          Really?? First of all establish the validity of the eyewitnesses and then maybe that could be considered. Also, there is plenty of disagreement over the dating of the accounts. That's of course, before we get into the problems of authorship.

          Russ: "Paul writes 1 Corinthians within 20 (if not 15) years of Jesus' death. there's simply not time to make this stuff up."

          Hey – there were a lot fewer distractions in life then. So Paul was the Stephen King of his day.

          Russ: "he names the names of eyewitnesses. he claims Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once. he's doing that in the midst of the pax Romana – a time of unprecedented free commerce & travel. in other words, he's inviting fact checking."

          Really? Commerce and travel in those times ensures fact-checking? What eyewitnesses? What part of any of that cannot be considered hearsay and why?

          Point being – show me some "facts".

          October 11, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • Thinker...

          I would wager that Christianity survived because it was, like Judaism, an entirely different form of religion in a time where the dominant religions were obvious political tools. The Empire was stagnating and discontent was everywhere. Christianity provided something different from the status-quo of the politicaly controlled temples of the time. The culture of the Roman Empire was one of disregard for life and glory at all costs. Christians championed life and honesty and kindness in a time where this was severely lacking. It was infact aided by Emperors like Nero and Caligula who persecuted it while being widely hated by the populace. The empire was severly unstable and Christianity provided a 'certainty' to it that was not dependant on wealth or glory. Remember: in the various faiths of the time your position in the afterlife was determined by your wealth and glory in the world rather than by faith alone. The Empire was crumbling and it really did seem like the world was slowly ending for the people of the cities of the empire, so Revelation took on an added importance. Few of the greco-roman religions really had an 'end of days' in them at all. A Christian doomcryer at the time could resonate with the fears of the populace. The forbidden nature of Christianity would enhance its ability to survive as well. The problem from the Imperial standpoint was it forbid them from participating in the Imperial Cult which was a source of propaganda and funding for the Emperors. It was effectivly a peaceful rebellion. Constantine was smarter than the other Emperors of the period and instead of fighting it he co-opted it. He made it the official state religion, thereby pulling the teeth of the peaceful rebellion and providing a support base that would activly work to grow itself and prove its loyalty rather than just passivly go to the temple and pay the Imperial Cult taxes. Also by adopting it he got a say in the formation of the church which is no small thing in a time when the Emperor's viewed the leaders of the various temples as political threats. The veracity of Christianity is not a requirement for its survival.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • Doris

          Russ: "why are you filtering out that the pseudo-Gospels & the apocryphal writings were disregarded because they were all demonstrable later & had no tangible link to the source?"

          "demonstrable later" has always been questioned. What remains in the way of writings is one thing. That it sounds fishy from the early apologists is another.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris:

          1) 1 Corinthians is not in question.

          a) there is virtually unanimous affirmation among ALL scholars that it is genuinely Pauline. it's somewhat definitive.

          b) not only did Paul die by AD 64 (easily within the lifetime of most of the eyewitnesses of Jesus), but 1 Corinthians is normally dated as one of his earliest letters.

          c) in 1 Cor.15, Paul is clearly citing a tradition (the word used echoes the careful passing on of scholarly information as Jewish rabbinical scholars did – see the Dead Sea Scrolls as evidence of effectiveness there) that is ALREADY well established as he writes it.

          d) the validity of the eyewitnesses is the primary consideration. in the same way that a murder trial gets MUCH greater investigatory resources than a parking ticket, we're talking about the ULTIMATE thing. those who would follow Christ were not just figuratively or abstractly re-centering their lives around Jesus – many were dying for those beliefs. others were certainly being ostracized from their families. to think a close-knit Jewish community wouldn't take the time to write their cousins back in Jerusalem ("hey, have you heard of this stuff? anybody around there actually saw this guy Jesus?" – if not talk to them directly next time they made a pilgrimage for Pentecost or Passover, etc.) is naive at best. the personal cost demanded fact-checking. they were risking everything for this "news." they were literally staking their lives on it. while that could be claimed of other religions, this religion was uniquely centering the faith around the "news" of what Jesus did, not a set of ethical teachings to which one might adhere. fact-checking the news would be paramount.

          2) read what I have been writing to Sara. your position here requires a denial of the history of literature. it's anachronistic & therefore untenable.

          3) i think i covered this objection above. but to be clear, you said: "what eyewitnesses?" have you read the Gospel accounts? i mean, actually read them. they name the names of people. that means – WHEN (not if) people traveled in those places, they could go ask to talk to that person. and certainly, with many of the earliest Christians being Jewish converts, they DID make pilgrimages back to Israel, and if you worship somebody, you actually want to know all you can about them.

          a) along these lines, the Gospel accounts have repeatedly been criticized & then found faithful. for years, some scholars questioned the Gospel of John. it's theology was too rich. it had to be much, much later, they claimed. they said: clearly John had to be written well removed from the original context. as an example, they cited his supposed lack of knowledge of Jerusalem. take for example, John 5 & the five-pillared colonnade at the pool of Bethesda. no such thing had been found. so guess what they dug up in the 19th century? not only was it exactly as described, exactly where it was described, but it had been destroyed in AD 70 – meaning John must have had first-hand knowledge of Jerusalem prior to AD 70, making the extremely late dates some have advanced as all but impossible.

          b) moreover, take the names used in the Gospel accounts. only in the LAST TEN YEARS have we had the data pool & computing resources to check this. we now have regional data for name usage. in other words, we know the top 50 or so names used in varying places throughout the empire. so, when ALL the Gospels use the same names, not only is that somewhat incredible (considering different sources) but it's also something we can check. not just that the names were popular, but *the manner in which they are used.* for example, if a name is common, you would need a clarifier (i.e., if there were a lot of guys named Judas, you'd need to know Judas who?). and guess what? yet again, the Bible comes up accurate – IN ALL CASES. not only are the names faithful to the region, but the names that have clarifiers are ALL in the top 50 names of that region & time. SUM: if John (or any of the other Gospels) was written at a later date in a far removed location, these names would not match. even Jews in different cities within the Roman Empire at the SAME time had different popular names.

          the Gospel writers NECESSARILY had first-hand access to the time & place in question. while that doesn't guarantee the stories are true, it certainly kills 90% of the modern criticisms that attempt to dodge the content of the text by interjecting the side-bar discussion as a diversion.

          SUM: the historical FACTS corroborate the Bible's claims – even with NEW data only available to us in the last 10 years.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Thinker: yes, Christianity & Judaism were different than the other religions around them. But then why didn't Judaism grow like that? moreover, don't separate the social action from the theological content. Christians acted the way they did because of who Jesus claimed to be. the proximity to the events again presses the issue.

          secondly, and more problematic for you: the Roman Empire was NOT crumbling for most of the first 200 years of Christianity's growth among it. precisely the opposite – it was growing through Trajan, and continued to enjoy great power well after that. Christianity permeated the empire long before there were any doomsday concerns (as you put it). and Constantine's confession of Christ (political as it probably was) was DUE to the PRIOR growth of Christianity – not the beginning of its inroad. in other words, he simply had the political sense to recognize Christianity had already won.

          if you want to go deeper here, check out Rodney Stark's "Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries."

          October 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • Doris

          Russ, let me clarify. I have no problem with attributing Corinthians to Paul. It's what little evidence there is for the "witnesses" that are of primary consideration, much less the "miracles" they allegedly "witnessed". I would argue that increased commerce and travel would better permit charlatanism as much, if not more, as encourage "fact-checking". Did everyone in the region immediately accept the belief in Christ as the savior and accept the alleged miracles? If you think so, provide some evidence of that.

          You keep speaking of denial of history and literature as if it was the only belief at the time. As if all of the unknowns had been resolved that still are unknown with regard to authorship. You make claims for the Gospels that are still obviously a point of contention today. You seem confident that they were written in and about that region. That's not the problem. Reading the Gospels, no matter how good and consistent the stories, does not confirm who wrote them. Having a good fictional screenplay where the story is consistent with some particular time and place of its setting does not make a true story.

          And this "the Gospel accounts have repeatedly been criticized & then found faithful" – is simply a one-sided claim. I find that you are dancing around a lack of any solid facts.

          October 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
        • Doris

          And Russ, regarding "witnesses" – who were those 500? Any names? Did they write anything themselves?
          Regarding "fact-checking", who would be the earliest "fact-checker" to "fact-check" Paul's claims?

          October 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
        • Thinker...

          Russ:

          1) Judaism is and was non-evangelical and does not seek activly seek converts like Christianity does. The entire Jewish storey is about them being the chosen people of god. This puts an automatic barrier to conversion in place. It is kind of like an exclusive club where in many cases the only way in is by birth.

          2) In terms of the size of the empire you are correct, it was still growing rapidly. The problem was it was starting to crumble internally through the mind-boggling size of the empire and the poor means of communication between the capitol and the provinces. The entire reason the empire was split was because it was just to big to manage from Rome. Sharing power could not have been an easy choice and would only happen because the problems were just too big to contain any other way. Rome could not stop conquering and that was killing it. Rome itself stayed wealthy by conquering and looting new areas and through their constantly expanding tax base. Under the barracks emperors public order was kept only through 'bread and circuses' policies backed by the power of the legions, all of which was funded by conquest and exploitation of the non-citizens in the outer provinces. Christianity did start spreading before the empire really started to fall apart of course, but it didn't really start to pick up any steam untill the problems became harder to hide. It should also be noted that Christianity really started growing in the eastern provinces first and there were more jews there (and the first converts were predominatly jewish) and these areas were much more rebellious than Rome was. I do not discount the spiritual message of Christianity as a major driving force behind its spread either. Particularly the sin and redemption mechanic would have been very different from many of the other religions of the time and offers hope to those with very little. It also provides a sense of security and certainty that was lacking in many of the other religions and that is very important. I have little doubt that those that converted before Constantine truely believed and their piety was probably both maddening (particularly the non-violence) and admirable. After Constantine converted that would have changed of course, particularly for the Patricians; many of those conversions would have been politically motivated.

          I will look up that book though since it seems interesting and it is always good to expand your knowledge base! I am mostly going off of memory of a couple of religious history classes I took 6 years ago in college too so I need a refresher anyway.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
      • Ben

        Try reading CS Lewis. He readily admitted that Christianity was full of myth, but he weakly argued that the difference was that Christian myth happened to also be true. He couldn't offer any compelling reasons for this, but closed minds don't need silly things like "reasons" to believe what they do, right?

        October 11, 2013 at 10:27 am |
        • Russ

          @ Ben: exactly wrong. the link IS a CS Lewis essay... given either at Oxford or Cambridge... in front of biblical scholars.

          October 11, 2013 at 10:44 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Textual analysis pretty clearly shows that there was not a single unknown writer, but many authors.
        Even the most devout, literalist Christian has got to admit that much.....

        October 11, 2013 at 10:32 am |
        • Russ

          @ Doc: your argument is unclear. no one contests that the bible was written over 1700 years – so yes, there were many human authors (though notably throughout, the Bible continuously claims to be the Word of God – given through human agents... e.g., 1 Thess.2:13).

          however, i think you are claiming the Gospel accounts had multiple authors. with multiple accounts, that's not a controversial claim. within each separate account, that is very controversial.

          SUM: you appear to be equivocating. no one contests there were many authors among the 66 books of the Bible or even that there were at least 4 authors for the 4 Gospel accounts. but in biblical scholarship today it is hotly contested whether the texts can ONLY rightly be understood as singular, whole pieces of literature (e.g., did they have major redactions or not? do the accounts make sense if not read as a whole? etc.; textual variants are a separate, minor issue). so what are you claiming?

          October 11, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          I'm pointing out the illogic in your quote, which states:
          , some unknown WRITER (singular) in the second century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:01 am |
        • Russ

          @ Doc: read the essay. get the context. he's dealing with biblical scholars who hold varying positions. the argument is: even if one grants some of their positions, their historical claims regarding genre are absolutely illogical.

          pick any of the Gospels. take Lk.1:1-3 for example. the text clearly & painstakingly claims to be historical reportage. the accounts are permeated with superfluous detail (that screams 'this is an eyewitness account'). there's nothing like that in the ancient world among the genre of myth. there's nothing like that in fiction for another 1700 years.

          his point: to label these accounts as myth is historically untenable.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:31 am |
      • Roger that

        There are more versions of the NT than there are words in the NT.

        October 11, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • Russ

          @ Roger: you can't have it both ways. either there are a ton of resources (which goes to the credibility) or there's only one copy (which detracts from historical accuracy). which is it?

          1) you want to complain about versions. are you talking about in English? the original language was Greek – and we have tons of Greek manuscripts... and – as far as substantive content – they ALL agree. there is no doctrine or major statement of belief that is not repeatedly made in various portions of Scripture and repeatedly attested. and the proximity to the events in question (unlike virtually every ancient mythical account) leaves no room for corruption. eyewitnesses were still alive.

          2) the Bible (especially the NT) is the most attested ancient doc.ument in the world. for the biblical scholar, we have an embarrassing wealth of resources to compare. Suetonius is the closest second with just over 200 manuscripts. the NT has over 5700 manuscripts. and that's not counting quotations among other ancient authors.

          here's a great summary article on that subject (note well the comparative charts):
          http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

          October 11, 2013 at 11:12 am |
        • Roger that

          I'm talking about Greek. Jesus, one would think that an omnipotent god would make his message more clear. The gospels don't even agree with one another. Your god doesn't care or isn't very smart.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:48 am |
        • Roger that

          Or, my favorite, doesn't exist.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:50 am |
        • Russ

          @ Roger: your dismissive response makes it clear that you are unaware of enormous fields of scholarship. do you realize that it is Christians who were the most critical of Scripture over the last 2000 years? even the controversial higher critical methods of the last 200 years arose among Christian scholars. and there are volumes of scholarship on EACH of these topics – but by your take, Christians are all just idiots. i may disagree with other religions, but it is not my goal to be so shallowly dismissive – even if that faith is nihilism.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Summarizing with a creed (only for the new visitors):

      The Apostles' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      The above creed update is based on the following references many not available to people like CS Lewis:

      From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

      "That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

      “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

      “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

      “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

      I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

      See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

      Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.

      Part of Crossan's The Historical Jesus has been published online at books.google.com/books.

      There is also a search engine for this book on the left hand side of the opening page. e.g. Search Josephus

      See also Wikipedia's review on the historical Jesus to include the Tacitus' reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.

      From ask.com,

      "One of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Cornelius Tacitus is a primary source for much of what is known about life the first and second centuries after the life of Jesus. His most famous works, Histories and Annals, exist in fragmentary form, though many of his earlier writings were lost to time. Tacitus is known for being generally reliable (if somewhat biased toward what he saw as Roman immorality) and for having a uniquely direct (if not blunt) writing style.

      Then there are these scriptural references:

      Crucifixion of Jesus:(1) 1 Cor 15:3b; (2a) Gos. Pet. 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22; (2b) Mark 15:22-38 = Matt 27:33-51a = Luke 23:32-46; (2c) John 19:17b-25a,28-36; (3) Barn. 7:3-5; (4a) 1 Clem. 16:3-4 (=Isaiah 53:1-12); (4b) 1 Clem. 16.15-16 (=Psalm 22:6-8); (5a) Ign. Mag. 11; (5b) Ign. Trall. 9:1b; (5c) Ign. Smyrn. 1.2.- (read them all at wiki.faithfutures. Crucifixion org/index.php/005_Crucifixion_Of_Jesus )

      Added suggested readings:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

       4. Jesus Database, http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/intro.html –"The JESUS DATABASE is an online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.o-rg/wiki/Jesus_Seminar
      7. http://www.biblicalartifacts.com/items/785509/item785509biblicalartifacts.html – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT
      8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
      9.The Gn-ostic Jesus
      (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)
      by Douglas Gro-othuis: http://www.equip.o-rg/articles/g-nosticism-and-the-g-nostic-jesus/
      10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
      Presented on March 18, 1994
      ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2
      11. The Jesus Database- newer site:
      wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/index.php?t-itle=Jesus_Database
      12. Jesus Database with the example of S-u-pper and Eucharist:
      faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/jdb016.html
      13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
      mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
      13. http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/jesus.htmm- Historical Jesus Studies
      14. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
      15. D-iseases in the Bible:
      http://books.google.com/books/about/The_d-iseases_of_the_Bible.html?id=C1YZAAAAYAAJ

      16. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.
      religion-online.o-rg/

       17. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
      18. Writing the New Testament- e-xisting copies, o-ral tradition etc.
      ntgateway.com/
      19. JD Crossan's c-onclusions about the a-uthencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other NT e-xege-tes in the last 200 years:
      http://wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/index.p-hp?t-itle=Crossan_Inventory
      20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
      21. Luke and Josephus- was there a c-onnection?
      in-fidels.o-rg/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
      22. NT and beyond time line:
      pbs.o-rg/empires/pe-terandpaul/history/timeline/
      23. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
      harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
      24. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
      25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
      27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd Ludemann, Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
      28. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
      29. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      October 11, 2013 at 11:03 am |
      • Russ

        @ Reality: you read the Jesus Seminar guys as though they are the Bible. have you not read the critical scholarly response to their positions? they are merely self-projecting. they take LATER texts and presuppose these are the most accurate. the consistent rebuttal of Crossan's "Revolutionary Biography" was that he *came* to the text with the idea that Jesus was a cynic philosopher... and that's why he filtered out any other such conclusion.

        the Jesus Seminar has the same such approach. they want to filter out what the Bible says... and yet these are the earliest, most attested doc.uments. there is no other source. as I said to Sara above, this sort of re-narration actually & ironically fulfills the all-too-frequent accusation on this blog: this is myth. but it is a myth of your own making – not an actual engagement of the historical facts.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • Reality # 2

          Obviously, you did not note the numerous references to the studies of other NT scholars besides Professor Crossan.

          Regarding the Jesus Seminarians:

          Contemporary NT exegetes specializing in historic Jesus studies. Requirements to join, typically a PhD in Religious History or Religion with a proven record of scholarship through reviews of first to third century CE scripture and related doc-uments.

          October 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
      • Jeff Williams

        """is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened. """

        This is absurdly funny!!!

        Why, I've never hoid of such a thing as people making up stuff to suit an agenda. The noive of some people.

        October 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  19. rev

    i became a minister of the gospel and led thousands to saving faith after reading murdock's comic book!

    October 11, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • ME II

      Dare I ask... what is "murdock's comic book!"

      October 11, 2013 at 9:49 am |
      • Ben

        Daredevil, maybe? Daredevil's real name is Matt Murdock.

        October 11, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  20. It's True...

    Nothing like a religion story to bring out the Christophobes.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • ME II

      I have no fear of Christophers.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • sam stone

      or the savior sucking blowhards

      October 11, 2013 at 10:02 am |
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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.