The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth
Does Easter celebrate a man, a savior, or a myth? Some say Jesus never existed and was a myth created by early Christians.
April 7th, 2012
08:32 PM ET

The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Timothy Freke was flipping through an old academic book when he came across a religious image that some would call obscene.

It was a drawing of a third-century amulet depicting a naked man nailed to a cross. The man was born of a virgin, preached about being “born again” and had risen from the dead after crucifixion, Freke says.

But the name on the amulet wasn’t Jesus. It was a pseudonym for Osiris-Dionysus, a pagan god in ancient Mediterranean culture.  Freke says the amulet was evidence of something that sounds like sacrilege – and some would say it is: that Jesus never existed. He was a myth created by first-century Jews who modeled him after other dying and resurrected pagan gods, says Freke, author of  "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?"

“If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don’t think anyone would be outraged,” says Freke, one of a group of mythicists who say Jesus never existed. “It’s a teaching story. What we’re saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It’s a parable of the spiritual journey.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

On Easter Sunday, millions of Christians worldwide mark the resurrection of Jesus. Though Christians clash over many issues, almost all agree that he existed.

But there is another view of Jesus that’s been emerging, one that strikes at the heart of the Easter story. A number of authors and scholars say Jesus never existed. Such assertions could have been ignored in an earlier age.  But in the age of the Internet and self-publishing, these arguments have gained enough traction that some of the world’s leading New Testament scholars feel compelled to publicly take them on.

Most Jesus deniers are Internet kooks, says Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar who recently released a book devoted to the question called “Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.”

Your comments on Jesus deniers

He says Freke and others who deny Jesus’ existence are conspiracy theorists trying to sell books.

“There are people out there who don’t think the Holocaust happened, there wasn’t a lone JFK assassin and Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.,” Ehrman says. “Among them are people who don’t think Jesus existed.”

Does it matter if Jesus existed?

Some Jesus mythicists say many New Testament scholars are intellectual snobs.

“I don’t think I’m some Internet kook or Holocaust denier,” says Robert Price, a former Baptist pastor who argues in “Deconstructing Jesus” that a historical Jesus probably didn’t exist.

“They say I’m a bitter ex-fundamentalist. It’s pathetic to see this character assassination. That’s what people resort to when they don’t have solid arguments.”

 The debate over Jesus’ existence has led to a curious role reversal. Two of the New Testament scholars who are leading the way arguing for Jesus’ existence have a reputation for attacking, not defending, traditional Christianity.

Ehrman, for example, is an agnostic who has written books that argue that virtually half  of the New Testament is forged. Another defender of Jesus’ existence is John Dominic Crossan, a New Testament scholar who has been called a heretic because his books challenge some traditional Christian teachings.

But as to the existence of Jesus, Crossan says, he’s “certain.”

He says some Jesus deniers may be people who have a problem with Christianity.

“It’s a way of responding to something you don’t like,” Crossan says. “We can’t say that Obama doesn’t exist, but we can say that he’s not an American.  If we’re talking about Obama in the future, there are people who might not only say he wasn’t American, but he didn’t even exist.”

Does it even matter if Jesus existed? Can’t people derive inspiration from his teachings whether he actually walked the Earth?

Crossan says Jesus’ existence matters in the same way that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s existence mattered.

If King never existed, people would say his ideas are lovely, but they could never work in the real world, Crossan says.

It’s the same with an historical Jesus, Crossan writes in his latest book, “The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus.”

“The power of Jesus’ historical life challenges his followers by proving at least one human being could cooperate fully with God. And if one, why not others? If some, why not all?”

The evidence against Jesus’ existence

Those who argue against Jesus’ existence make some of these points:

-The uncanny parallels between pagan stories in the ancient world and the stories of Jesus.

-No credible sources outside the Bible say Jesus existed.

-The Apostle Paul never referred to a historical Jesus.

Price, author of “Deconstructing Jesus,” says the first-century Western world was full of stories of a martyred hero who is called a son of God.

“There are ancient novels from that period where the hero is condemned to the cross and even crucified, but he escapes and survives it,” Price says. “That looks like Jesus.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus often cite two external biblical sources: the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote about Jesus at the end of the first century and the Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote about Jesus at the start of the second century.

But some scholars say Josephus’ passage was tampered with by later Christian authors. And Price says the two historians are not credible on Jesus.

“Josephus and Tacitus – they both thought Hercules was a true figure,” Price says. “Both of them spoke of Hercules as a figure that existed.”

Price concedes that there were plenty of mythical stories that were draped around historical figures like Caesar. But there’s plenty of secular documentation to show Caesar existed.

“Everything we read about Jesus in the gospels conforms to the mythic hero,” Price says. “There’s nothing left over that indicates that he was a real historical figure.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus cite another source: the testimony of the Apostle Paul and Jesus’ early disciples. Paul even writes in one New Testament passage about meeting James, the brother of Jesus.

These early disciples not only believed Jesus was real but were willing to die for him. People don’t die for myths, some biblical scholars say.

They will if the experience is powerful enough, says Richard Carrier, author of “Proving History.”

Carrier says it’s probable that Jesus never really existed and that early Christians experienced a mythic Jesus who came to them through visions and revelations.

Two of the most famous stories in the New Testament – the conversion of Paul and the stoning death of Stephen, one of the first Christian martyrs - show that people seized by religious visions are willing to die, Carrier says.

In both the Paul and Stephen stories, the writers say that they didn’t see an actual Jesus but a heavenly vision of Jesus, Carrier says.

People “can have powerful religious experiences that don’t correspond to reality,” Carrier says.

“The perfect model is Paul himself,” Carrier says. “He never met Jesus. Paul only had an encounter with this heavenly Jesus. Paul is completely converted by this religious experience, but no historical Jesus is needed for that to happen.”

As for the passage where Paul says he met James, Jesus’ brother, Carrier says:

“The problem with that is that all baptized Christians were considered brothers of the Lord.”

The evidence for Jesus’ existence

Some scholars who argue for the existence of Jesus says the New Testament mentions actual people and events that are substantiated by historical documents and archaeological discoveries.

Ehrman, author of “Did Jesus Exist?” scoffed at the notion that the ancient world was full of pagan stories about dying deities that rose again.  Where’s the proof? he asks.

Ehrman devoted an entire section of his book to critiquing Freke, the mythicist and author of “The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?” who says there was an ancient Osiris-Dionysus figure who shares uncanny parallels to Jesus.

He says Freke can’t offer any proof that an ancient Osiris figure was born on December 25, was crucified and rose again. He says Freke is citing 20th- and 19th-century writers who tossed out the same theories.

Ehrman says that when you read ancient stories about mythological figures like Hercules and Osiris, “there’s nothing about them dying and rising again.”

“He doesn’t know much about ancient history,” Ehrman says of Freke. “He’s not a scholar. All he knows is what he’s read in other conspiracy books.”

Craig A. Evans, the author of “Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence,” says the notion that Paul gave his life for a mythical Jesus is absurd.

He says the New Testament clearly shows that Paul was an early enemy of the Christian church who sought to stamp out the burgeoning Jesus movement.

“Don’t you think if you were in Paul’s shoes, you would have quickly discovered that there was no Jesus?” Evans asks.  “If there was no Jesus, then how did the movement start?”

Evans also dismissed the notion that early Christians blended or adopted pagan myths to create their own mythical Jesus. He says the first Christians were Jews who despised everything about pagan culture.

“For a lot of Jewish people, the pagan world was disgusting,” Evans says. “I can’t imagine [the Gospel writer] Matthew making up a story where he is drawing parallels between Jesus’ birth and pagan stories about Zeus having sex with some fair maiden.”

The words of Jesus also offer proof that he actually existed, Evans says.  A vivid personality practically bursts from the pages of the New Testament: He speaks in riddles, talks about camels squeezing through the eye of a needle, weeps openly and even loses his temper.

Evans says he is a man who is undeniably Jewish, a genius who understands his culture but also transcends his tradition with gem-like parables.

“Who but Jesus could tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan?” Evans says. “Where does this bolt of lightning come from? You don’t get this out of an Egyptian myth.”

Those who argue against the existence of Jesus say they aren’t trying to destroy people’s faith.

“I don’t have any desire to upset people,” says Freke. “I do have a passion for the truth. … I don’t think rational people in the 20th century can go down a road just on blind faith.”

Yet Easter was never just about rationale.

The Easter stories about the resurrection are strange: Disciples don’t recognize Jesus as they meet him on the road; he tells someone not to touch him; he  eats fish in another.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a resurrected Jesus suddenly appears to a group of disciples and gives them this cryptic message:

“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

And what did they see: a person, a pagan myth or a savior?

Albert Schweitzer, a 20th-century theologian and missionary, suggested that there will never be one answer to that question.  He said that looking for Jesus in history is like looking down a well: You see only your own reflection.

The “real” Jesus, Schweitzer says, will remain “a stranger and an enigma,” someone who is always ahead of us.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Art • Belief • Books • Church • Culture wars • Easter • Easter • Faith • History • Jesus • Uncategorized • Virgin Mary

soundoff (8,773 Responses)
  1. inmyjudgement

    And if it seems evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve.

    But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Why would you think we would need to serve anyone? Don't you find that on the crazy side of normal?

      April 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • No religion thank you

      I'll be serving ham and deviled eggs myself.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • inmyjudgement

      A man can choose to serve something other than himself.
      A man can choose to serve something greater than himself.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Pojan

      to them, My soul is exceeding srwoorful, even unto death: Romans 8:6 To be carnally minded is Death. abide you here, and watch (Habakkuk’s Watchtower) with Me. Not Watch out for the soldiers of Herod or Pontius Pilate, but the true enemy, Satan, our own unrighteous thinking. (Habakkuk 2:1; I will stand on my watch [Watchtower)] and set myself upon the rampart, [The highest point on my watchtower] and I will look to see [Keeping my eyes always on the Lord, measuring myself against His Word, to see if my actions and thoughts line up.] what He will speak to me, [Granting us repentance] and how I shall answer when I am reproved. [Meaning corrected; this is His offer, to those who are on watch,]) And He went forward a little, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from Me: (He was afraid, I John 4:18; There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (Perfect Love, trust and believes God and His promises, this is FAITH and LOVE, they go hand in hand, because if you do not love God, you do not trust Him to be obedient in all things.) FEAR, is sin, and therefore, carnal, which is the death, He was referring to in the previous verse.) nevertheless, not as I will, (The way I’m thinking) but as you will. (The way the Father thinks). (There is the sin, repentance and confession of PRACTICING RIGHTEOUSNESS in the same sentence. Jesus practiced righteousness so that He might be an example to us in all things). The Father then poured forth His POWER OF GRACE for His Son to see the Joy set before Him, to endure the cross. YES, JESUS WAS TESTED IN ALL THINGS, JUST AS YOU AND I. II Corinthians 5:21; He made Him who knew no sin, sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (He sinned and Practiced Righteousness, to His Father, as our example.)Romans 3:27-28;Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. :28; Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law. (Romans 14:23 all that is not of faith is sin.) We would be forced to believe what we could not see by faith. They would be in the constant flow of His power, called grace; which would be the only source of their power. This is accomplished by practicing righteousness by believing His word, which says,II Corinthians 4:18;while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.Hebrews 10:38;But my righteous one’s (Ex. 19:4-6; Deut. 7:6,7; I Peter 2:9;) shall live by faith:And if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. (We cannot please God by doubting and walking in the temporal flesh. We can only please Him when we walk in the Spirit, trusting Him by faith.)Jesus removed Himself voluntarily from the Power (GRACE) of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11; Jesus emptied Himself…) Jesus came to earth as all man, He also was restored to the Father by repentance, for He was tested in all things just as we are tested. He also REPENTED and was Baptized, by John, unto repentance, for the remission of sin. And although He was a Son, He learned obedience through the things He suffered. (Fighting the Fight of Faith) Yes, Jesus too, came in the FLESH and was TESTED. (Mark 1:4;John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance)Hebrews 2:17,18;Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren, in all things, so that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.18For since He Himself was tempted in that which has suffered, He is able to com to aid of those who are tempted.Yes, Jesus too, had to Practice Righteousness. In the Garden of Gethsemane, which means the place of my crushing, we find Jesus, feared. Fear is the opposite of Faith, FEAR IS SIN! look in verses, (Romans 14:23 all that is not of faith is sin.)God is making us into Sons who love, By our own FREE WILL even if it takes A THOUSAND YEARS.Galatians 4:19;My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you. Isaiah 55:8-11;For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your waysAnd My thoughts than your thoughts.For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me void, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.We must see in His Light and walk in God’s big picture of His eternal unseen Spirit by faith. Just as Jesus our example. Those who will be Kings and priest in the millennium will teach others how to be conformed to Jesus image (Jeremiah 3:15;) and yes, it will be by their own free will. This is just an example of God’s higher thoughts. having our own free will and predestined to be conformed to His wonderful plan. (Jeremiah 29:11;)Revelation 20:2And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,The world will know how God intended it to be, before the fall. (From Grace) No one will have to fight the fight of faith, because, Satan, our own unrighteous thinking, is bound for a thousand years. We will be able to hear and receive the Truth with eagerness, zeal and passion. No longer will we hear in our prideful thoughts, “Don’t believe that hogwash” or “That’s not the way I was taught.” or else “That’s not the way my church believes,” Etc., etc. We will be living, as God intended, without fighting Satan, our own, stinking, thinking, at every turn, hitting us with arrows of doubt, fear, worry, sickness and the like, every sin of wickedness. We will trust God to meet all our needs, desires, there are no wants. Totally dependent on Him, in perfect fellowship, where we accept God’s Truth and where understanding and knowledge are crystal clear, full of God’s wisdom. For God has been and will be teaching us how to abide in His Power, where every need is met.Posted on your blog: Righteousness, the prophets plumbline. March 23rd 2010, I wrote: [Sin makes the righteous mourn. But, mankind cannot keep a set of rules. (Laws) God created us without sin, but he knew we would sin. In order, to be truly, one with our Creator, we had to be taught both sides of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and that our sinful way does not work. How can we know light, if we do not know darkness, or how can we know hot, if we do not know cold. God’s plan is perfect, and His method of teaching us, is to bring us to perfection. This 2000 year Age, is to teach us the effects of sin. The Thousand Year, Millennium Reign, is to teach us how to make the right choices. So, at the end of the Millennium, every knee will choose to bow and we will gladly confess Jesus, as our Lord, for we have finally made the right choice to turn control over to the One, Who made us, our Creator, Jesus. God does not want Robots; it has been our choice of Free Will, all along.] Yes, our will has become His will: His Word which He sent did not return to Him Void without accomplishing what it was sent to do.Just like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.Isaiah 10:22,23;A destruction overflowing with Righteousness. (The New man, the New self, when self relinquishes control of the throne of our lives to The Lord.)God’s wonderful plan of predestination and our free will. We are learning Love; How to be one with our Creator.This message is for His Kings and Priest, His elect, who Press into His Knowledge. Hosea 4:6; Jesus came not to do away with the law but, to fulfill by His mystery of PRACTICING RIGHTEOUSNESS by Faith. Abiding in Christ, Bob

      July 29, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  2. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Whichever you believe, man or myth, you still have to live in the real world.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • momoya

      Isn't that the truth?!

      April 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  3. Rusticus

    I neither know or care if Jeshua existed or Hashem exists. But why are so many of Jeshua's foillowers deaf to his commandments of love one another, turn the other cheek and feed the hungry? Rightist Christianity (the loudest minority) is an example of what I speak. How do these people follow the way of Jeshua? How are they like Maximilian Kolbe?

    April 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  4. The Central Scrutinizer

    Saying denial of a historical Jesus is like being a holocaust denier is ridiculous. The difference is that the evidence for the holocaust is overwhelming and the evidence for Jesus is non-existent. It is very possible Jesus never actually existed but it is not implausible that he was a real person also. Evidence has to match the claim. Making the claim that some person was alive in the past is not that astounding, but the fact that there is no contemporary evidence makes you wonder. Clearly the mythological Jesus is a fabrication and was based on previous man-gods who's fables pre-date Christianity. This is a case were a tremendous amount of evidence is needed to match the miraculous claims. Of course there is no evidence other than what the Bible says.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  5. championheart

    It's just odd that Paul, the first writer of any new testament book, did not write anything resembling the story in the later-written gospels, which to me means he had ideas about Christ Savior (i.e. Jesus Christ) that went beyond physical reality and look more like prophecy derivation and revelation. Paul says this stuff was revealed to him about Savior Christ.

    Forget about Freke. Read G.A. Wells. He shows a pretty good case for how even the next earliest writings did not include most of the supposed details in the gospels. And more.

    I used to be a Christian who believed in a word for word Bible truth, but when I saw the contradictions in the Bible from book to book, author to author, I looked deeper into the history. It's not what the church has told most Christians. And even if Jesus did exist, he was a man like MLK Jr to be admired, not a god who wanted to be worshipped.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • JHC

      Exactly. Well said.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Cq

      Revealed in dreams and visions. He never knew Jesus, but he had a "revelation" that Jesus could be applied to gentiles without requiring them to live as Jews according to the Law. Paul created Christianity; Jesus, the man, just wanted Judaism to be more human-centered. Jesus never wanted to create a new religion.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  6. Elena


    April 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • momoya

      Elena, have you ever considered that you might just be a moron?. That would explain a lot, wouldn't it?. Do you still think that "nothing states" exist?

      April 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  7. bob smith

    How about showing us the image from the book that this entire article is about?

    April 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  8. John

    It's message not the man.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  9. asdf

    "People don’t die for myths, some biblical scholars say."

    Apparently those biblical scholars are not students of history.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • JHC


      April 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Robert

      There are the Faithful standing in the Light of Truth in the Spirit, and there are those who stand in the Darkness of not knowing, not seeing, not hearing.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Al

      If people don't die for myths then 9/11 terrorists must really be in heaven then.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  10. Bravin

    All Biblical texts are written as philosophical models people could understand through the spoken word since many everyday people (in ancient time) were not literate. Every religion that has ever existed has ended, like the Greek Gods, Ra of ancient Egypt. If you study these old religions, you find similarities like virgin births, and the floods of real geological events. God's not dead, God didn't create the Universe, God created consciousness, and reincarnation is the cyclical evolution of the self. But it's just my opinion, I doubt any of us have it just right....

    April 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  11. Pipe-Dreamer

    As I said earlier, God is God and He cannot be torn from assundering ways of those who seek to ridcule the Faith-filled people of Christian values. You of the ill-willed know yourself well and try as you must you are ever the tormentor in order to keep Faith in God alive and well despite your selfish bigotrousness ways.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  12. akismet-9600b6eae079ff4c31a9ce3e4534d0b8

    Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

    April 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Christians don't believe in a zombie Jesus. Non-Christians don't believe in a zombie Jesus. So who are you wishing this to?

      April 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  13. Mike P

    It just AMAZES me how people talk about "God" and "Religion", when what they really mean is Christianity.

    They sure DON'T mean Islam, or Judaism, or any Eastern Religions (Hinduism, Buddism, etc...)

    When they talk about "God" – they DON'T mean Hanuman, Vishnu, Gonesh, or Kali.

    When they say "teaching God in schools", they mean teaching Christianity – you would hear SCREAMS TO HIGH HEAVEN if a Teacher DARED to even mention Gonesh as "God".

    H Y P O C R I T E S

    April 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      They are all the same liver lips! Imaginary and dangerous.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  14. Fifi

    The big issue here is the fact that Jesus' story is identical to PREVIOUS pagans's stories of death on a cross and resurrecting from the dead. Which should lead ALL of us to believe that Jesus' stories WHERE NOT TRUE. if anything, were mere copycat stories!!!

    April 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Dean

      I have studied the evidence and I am convinced Jesus existed. What blows me away with CNN is their lack of credible writing. You include Erhman and leave out some one like Josh McDowell or Graig or Habermas who can offer arguments the other way? CNN has a presumptious position, who's the nonbeliever sitting on the board controlling the writers spin? Here is a tip, don't go to CNN for your history lessons on facts or objectivity. Jesus hasn't left the option open for him to be anything but God, and if he didn't exist then we are all the most to be pittied! Thank God he has risen!

      April 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Bob

      The disciples appear in public and claim that a man was crucified and rose from the dead about 50 days before. Furthermore, they claim the hearers have personal knowledge of this, and should therefore follow that man. And they gain converts. Where else has this happened before (or since)?

      April 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  15. sez

    On the flip side a lot of athiests believe in "government" way more than they should. Government has more believers in this land anyway than religion. Thats a stupid thing to believe in anyway. As it has a couple of components one is religion the other is "live free" which this place is anything else but freedom with the way they endorse usury continually.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Al

      We get to democratically decide what laws to follow within the government system, but we are not allowed to vote on which things are really sins within scripture. Religion is a dictatorship; our democracy isn't.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  16. Reality


    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT 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

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. 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.

    (References used are available upon request.)

    April 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Bob

      If things really happened like this, something else would probably have happened: Just before the Romans are about to execute a follower of Jesus, he screams, "Stop, stop, don't kill me! I'll tell you where we buried the body." (Actually the Romans certainly would have followed the disciples and already known where the body was.) So the Romans would have retrieved the body and announced, "This rabble that follows the man called Jesus is really a pathetic lot. They claim their savior is alive. But here is the body. Anyone can see he is dead." And Christianity would have been no more.

      That probably would have happened. But it didn't.

      April 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  17. nomdefaitour

    If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead does that also mean you believe in zombies like on "The Walking Dead"?

    April 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Al

      The dead started walking when he died, according to the passion narratives.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • nomdefaitour

      I guess that means you really believe in zombies.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  18. UncleM

    The majority of the posts here from atheists are merely doubting religion based on lack of evidence. The hateful stuff wishing the atheists burn in hell are coming from the so-called Christians.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Al

      A few hundred years ago they would have answered all criticism with real fires and burned us at the stake. Religion is anti-freedom.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  19. jamest297

    OK. This is a special day for christians reading this forum, so I'm only going to publish this business case summary one time today – right here on CNN.

    This is a brief instruction as to how god failed in his business because of where and when he opened his business:
    God started his business in the middle of the world’s largest desert – among a group of illiterate and wandering tribes. God did this in spite of the fact that there were much larger civilization already thriving in India and China. In both India and China, there were already very large cities and the civilization was already mostly literate in that the populations could read and write.
    If god had launched his business in either of these two cultures, he would have gained a much larger global market share and obtained an insurmountable market share vs. Islam as an example. As it is, Islam started +/- 700 years AFTER Christianity and has now overtaken Christianity in global market share. Islam remains the fasted growing organized religious strain in the world. (Atheism, however is the fasted growing segment of the overall religious business landscape). So, not only did god blow a 700 year head-start, he also arranged for the mur_der of his one and only forever son in middle of the same desert and among the same group of illiterate wandering goat herders for crying out loud. That was a huge mistake on top of the earlier huge mistakes and meant that god sacrificed his Return On Investment (ROI) and eventual market share dominance by this very short-sighted set of decisions. Look where his business is today. It is losing customers faster than it can replace them by acquiring new ones; the business is in disrepute among many of its long-time customers; it is losing actual raw numbers of customers in some parts of the world where it used to be the only option; its customers are being mur_dered in many other parts of the world for simply being his customers – it’s a real mess. So, I’d suggest anyone starting a similar new business avoid these mistakes so that the mur_der you planned for your only son and then performed so that you could later use as a recruiting tool/story might actually produce a higher ROI for you than it did for god.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Elena

      are you talking about the illiterate and backwards jews!

      April 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  20. Elena

    Based on scientific facts the chair you sit on right now do not exist at all! could you believe that, is not a tale from the Bible it is QM idea, I am sure no atheist will dispute scientific facts!

    April 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • jamest297

      Elena, do you have an English version of this?

      April 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • YeahOk

      Elena will be presenting her groundbreaking scientific proof that souls or spirits of conciseness, and a higher supreme consciousness or being, which is the fountain of creations exists, in three, two, one...

      April 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Elena

      It is very clear what i am saying if you don't understand about the dual nature of particles then go read about the double slit experiment, and you can also read about the cat cat of Schrodinger! no wonder it sounds like Chinese to you!

      April 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • pastafaria

      @Elena I don't need evidence to know that the chair I am sitting in is real. I would hope, however, that if in 2000 years somebody tries to impose a system of values and beliefs on society based on what my chair would have "wanted" them to do, that these people have the intelligence and self respect to at least question my chair's legitimacy and authority as a proper source of these beliefs, as well as its actual existence. Unfortunately, after reading comments like yours, I'm not optimistic.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
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About this blog

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