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. wellhung jew

    If jesus died for your sins, why do you still have them?

    April 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Righteo

      How did an immortal die?

      If an immortal who knows he is immortal pretends to die, is there any sacrifice at all?

      Why must people accept faith when all the apostles got evidence?

      April 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • You said it Brother

      Because they are ours.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • One one

      Where did the sin come from in yhe first place? From god's curse on all humanity because Adam and eve wanted knowledge. So somewhere along the line, god changed his mind and decided to lift his curse. How did he do it? By sending himself down to earth to be tortured and killed, of course !

      April 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Fair enough

      Ok that's fair enough honest question, as a Christian here is the answer. It's not about elimination of sins, because we all do. it's about the salvation of forgiveness for sins, Jesus died to take the blame for our sins. We are clean and pure regardless of our sins, due to Jesus's scarifice. It's called faith, and it's the underpinning of our morality.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • momoya

      yeah but why doesn't jesus forgive freely.. Why does he care if a person believes in the forgiveness? When I give somebody a gift, it's tangible and obvious, but they are free to disbelieve it if they want too.. Your god's gift can't be sensed or proved or anything, and it only works if somebody believes it works?!? Really?!?!? Do you realize how stupid that sounds?

      April 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • One one

      @momoya, worse yet, if you don't accept the "gift" Jesus sends you to he11 to be tortured forever.

      2 Thessalonians, 8-9:"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

      April 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Fair enough

      Momoya, your have already been forgiven and you have already been saved, by Jesus Christ. It's done. There is nothing you can do, that would override that- question is when are you going to pass along that understand ing to others, who need to be saved. That's what it's all about.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • lesliecgriffith

      Jesus died to ATONE for our sins. He didn't die to make us perfect, he died as the ultimate sacrifice. He was without sin and therefore the ultimate sacrifice. Now when we pray and confess our sins (because we're not without sin) then we are forgiven and our sins are forgiven. We have been given free will so if we choose to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness, we are.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  2. Martin

    It's ironic that these books that try to show evidence there really was a Jesus, fail to come up with any credible evidence, and convince many Jesus was totally a myth. The problem is the authors don't understand evidence, falsability, or the scientific method. They have a believer's mind, not a rational mind. The solve complequated quadratic equations by using a B for belief.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Martins Mother

      I want to apologize for my retarded son- in gthe words of Jesus Christ our lord and saviour- I say about Martin. Forgive him he knows not what he says.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • You said it Brother

      I like your mom.She is funny and kinda sweet.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • jim

      Say Oh wise one, Why is it that Quantum theorists have now discovered that all Creation is based on wave energy (or string theory) where various interwoven octaves create the building blocks of everything that exists. Sound is in the form of waves. "The Lord spoke and it was" (a parable) Light is in the form of waves. "I am the light that is above all things, I am the all" (a comment on quatum mechanics). And by the way..so are you the light that is above all things, you also "are the all".

      These waves of creation are energy pulses in a three diminsional fabric where only information exists. Waves do not move but transfer information. The endless pistons that repeat these waves seak rest but never achieve it as they constantly invert to be their opposites, to repeat this dance endlessly. Except at zero polarity where everything is voided be created once again in infinite variance creating the illusions that are all things – through the observation of the ego, I.E. mind. For only God exists, and the pulse of his desiring. The ego sees only the response to desire and considers this life, but only God lives, we are an illusion of his thinking. Got it?

      April 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  3. Dhammond

    Amusing. Despite going to catholic school, and going to church regularly, it was obvious to me by age 10 that Christianity, like all other religions, is just a reflection of our own weaknesses as a species. We need to explain thunder, the seasons, pain, suffering... We create gods to give us answers. People believe things based on what they are told by elders growing up... Live in. Time of Zeus, these people would believe in Zeus. The "reality" of the universe has nothing to do with the particular time and place in which you live, yet, if we lived in the most other places and times, no one would have even heard of whatever religion you happen to believe in. Sorry... It's just a story to comfort us. That's useful, and necessary for people... But that doesn't in any way make it "real" outside you own imagination.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  4. Tony

    I have nothing to lose being a Christian. Hey Atheist Guess what you have to lose. Enough said. I Love you Jesus

    April 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • One one

      Except your grasp on reality.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You have lost all reasoning.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      So your saying your faith is actually nothing more than a worthless shell game. Nice.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Righteo

      Actually, if you picked the wrong religion, you have jsut as much to lose. That's one of the problems with Pascal's Wager – to do it right, you must adhere to every religion on Earth.

      But thatks for dropping by and threatening us with your Christian love.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • YeahOk

      What if Islam is right? Better believe in that too, just in case.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • lesliecgriffith

      Tony, you're right. God is the one true God. And I do wonder why so called Atheists are so opposed to something they claim doesn't or never did exist. That tells me that there is some part of their heart and intelligence that makes them wonder if they should be so committed to "nothing". My thought for you is that if you don't believe in anything, why not study the Bible and ask God to come into your heart? Hey...if he doesn't exist, then at least your belief in nothing can be as nothing as you want. But if it turns out it's "something" then you will realize that God made you for a purpose and that you have more to live for than this world. Sounds like a good trade to me. Bottom-line here, it doesn't matter what any Christians say here, God loves you and me despite who we are. But, on the last day of your life, do you want to stand before God and have him say "I never knew you, depart from me". At that point there will be no chance. THINK about it.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • One one

      It seem like discussions with Christians always end up in the same place. BELIEVE OR BURN !!!

      April 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  5. One one

    Spring = rebirth = resurrection. It's No coincidence spring is the time of Jesus' claimed resurrection. It all tracks back to earlier pagan religions and the movements of the sun and changing seasons. I believe the sun and seasons exist.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Actually, the vernal equinox – which marks the arrival of spring – occurs on March 21. Easter can occur almost that early, or as much as 7 weeks later. It isn't spring that's being observed here – it's a gentile version of Passover.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  6. Pipe-Dreamer

    The Holy Gospel According to Pipe-Dreamer

    In the beginning God did establish the governances of Creation and thru the establishments of Creationism did God make manifest each and every Cosmos of existentialism. Thus in the beginning was Creation itself born within the glimmer of Godly thought. God was well pleased with Creationism's existence.
    In the passing of Time God did move about the elemental gods and brought order where was none. Thus were the first moments of Creationism's Creations established to become the stars and the stars' planets and the planets their moons. In God's graces did these things come to be.

    Now there came to the awareness of God a planet of extreme interest. God's elemental gods were creating their own creations and these gods of the elemental kinds did call their creations life forms. Not to be outdone by such trivialities, God stuck His big nose in and wham He created all mannerisms of life beyond what the elemental gods could do! God was well pleased with His creations of life and He rubber-stamped His approval! He, God, called one of His better creations a man because He, God was enamored with this man's likeness.

    Thusly God grew bored and He went elsewhere while leaving it up to the elemental gods to guide man and all the creations God did manifest upon this planet we now know of as being our Earth.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  7. Mark

    You people are delusional, there is no god & there might have been a prophet named Je-sus. I am so glad I am Atheist and I don't have to worry about any religion or god.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      @ Mark,,,,

      Your being ranked as an "Atheist" gives you what sort of right to call a society "delusional" for it is you and your lot that decieves the whole world!

      April 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • lesliecgriffith

      I wonder if you've ever thought "what if I'm wrong?" I'm assuming if you're a proclaimed Atheist, that you have studied the Bible and somehow came away not believing. If that's the case, then I do pray that God removes the veil from your eyes. If you read the Bible, and just don't want to believe, then I also pray for you. In either scenario, my contention is that if you believe in nothing, then why not choose to open your heart and ask God in. If he's not real...what have you got to lose.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • lesliecgriffith

      Mark, being a Christian isn't a worrying about God at all. When you turn your life over to God, he takes on the worry. I challenge you to read the Bible (if you haven't already) and ask God to open your eyes (just go along with me on this and pretend..God won't mind). If you open your heart and MIND (which I believe you have) to really seek to understand Christianity, you'll come away a changed man. God made you and is just waiting on you to seek him out (you don't have to tell anyone at first if you do). Then imagine living every day with hope and love from God and with the promise of something beyond this World.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • JesusTapdancingChrist

      It takes a VERY simple mind for the 'believers' to be confident that their Belief is the ONLY correct answer for entry to the Afterlife. What if Buddhists are right? Or Hindus? What if Catholics but not Protestants? Religion – Taking advantage of the Simpleminded for 5 millenium and counting.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

    Really? Today CNN is posting this article on the holiest days of Christianity? I dare you putting a similar article about Mohamed on Ramadan? Christianity is under attacks from all sides, Muslims, Atheists, CNN etc… I invite my Christian brothers and sisters around the world to stand up and defend what we believe in. That’s right CNN over 2 Billion people live and die by the faith that Jesus was born from the virgin marry, crucified, died and on the 3rd day rose from the death and he is seated at the right hand of the father. You don’t like this fact, or some lunatic wants to poke holes on our religion beliefs, I’d say to that lunatic who wrote this article…maybe it’s time for Prozac for you.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

      My pastor told me I have an intellect rivalled only by garden tools.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Speaking of Prozac...

      This is not an attack, and this blog has published numerous articles examining the historical basis of other faiths, most often around their major holidays when interest and attention to such things peaks.

      Next time, try reading the article before ranting. Try getting someone to help you with the bigger words.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • DarthWoo

      Had the Internet existed 2000 years ago, I'm sure you could pretty much replace every specific religious reference in your post with references to the Roman pantheon, and lower the 2 billion to an equivalent population of the then known world. It wouldn't have made it any more true back then, just as it does not now. Feels bad getting knocked off a pedestal, doesn't it?

      April 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Daniela

      I was very offended that this was also published on Easter Sunday. You have your beliefs, we have ours. Today is not the day to be doing this.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • why

      I agree, this garbage is specifically intended to offend, and timed for Easter Sunday. they would not dare attack the jewish or islamic religion the same way.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  9. just sayin

    I guess I'm not the sharpest knife in the chandelier, am I?

    April 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • just sayin

      Try being your own ident ity, instead of a fraud. God bless

      April 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  10. You said it Brother

    Group mentality of false ideology, join the band wagon so you don't get left out. Jesus couldn't have been Christ or else he would have known that by tampering with the faith of men, he would be procreating a corruption of theological logic and it would turn into the exact same ignorant hypocrisy that he resented within the jewish community. I'm not saying that a Christ figure didn't exist, Just that he would be wise enough to not over step his standing within the divine message. The base is that its about God and why He sought resonance among men with the concept of good, not about his servants or their supposed standing within that context. Unless of course you still beleive that humans are the only sentient beings in all of
    eternity that realized the difference between good and evil. Seems if the story were true. That Jesus himself didn't know what he was doing.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  11. Pipe-Dreamer

    God loves Life so much He will never willingly and anymore stand in our ways which are not His Kingdom's ways! We are in the Celestial Cosmos while God and His Kingdoms lay within the Cellular Cosmos of His Grand Design! God and His Brethrens and His Sons and their Generations will swoop among our dead bodies and divide all that is inside our dead bodies to become of God's Kingdom Domains which are in the plants and in the fish ofn the seas and in the birds who fly thru the air! Eat this bread for it is of my body which is being ransomed for all humanists once and forever and drink this wine for it is of my supplicants' blood which is to be shed and given up to you for and in times of weakedness.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Jon

      Are you high?

      April 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Um, Pipe-Dreamer, what exactly is in that pipe? And could I have some.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • pastel zombie

      Hey Pipe-Cleaner, Cannibal much?

      April 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  12. Martin

    What is so ironic here is that these Christian writers, in demonstrating their lack of faith, try to show evidence their myth was really a man. In so doing they opened a Pandora's box, and behold...no credible evidence! Thus creating more free thinkers, agnostics, atheists, and secularists. If ya have a good myth going, ya should just shut up and let the sheep eat the grass. Now a stampeed has been created away from belief bliss. People are daring to question and think?

    April 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Martins Mother

      Martin, I told you not to play with computers anyway- there are sheep in the field waiting for your attention. I wish my birth control worked better- you useless freak.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  13. No one

    Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

    April 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  14. YBP

    Unfortunately, there is an immeasurable distance between the many who have been taught to believe and the few who have actually engaged in unbiased, secular Religious Studies.

    Look into it. I did.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  15. CJ

    Very unlikely one guy existed. If it inspires Christians to do good, it just doesn't matter though.

    However, for the millions of those selfish, ignorant Christians who dominate the most powerful nation's politics, yes you GOP/Tea Party – it does, it shows how little you know about anything. Ever.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • YBP

      Well put.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  16. DarthWoo

    What a hearty coincidence that Easter celebrations predated Christianity by several centuries as celebrated by various so-called Pagans. Ditto for Christmas. It seems that Christianity has very little originality to it when you start to examine prior history.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  17. Joe G.

    This was a poorly written article. There are times where the information presented is shown to be false and taken from weak sources. I expect better from CNN.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • notheism

      Joe, could you be more specific?

      April 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Thanks for the detailed, closely reasoned refutation.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Max

      which information is false? Please, be specific.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ..

    April 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • notheism

      You are right, it does, for the worse.


      April 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • YeahOk

      I prayed you would stop posting the same thing over and over. Didn't work.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • just sayin

      That cross drawing stuff sure is hard.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • YeahOk

      "That cross drawing stuff sure is hard."

      Gonna test the pre tag.

      Testing one two

      April 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • One one

      Atheists don't tell children and other living things that god sends them to h e l l to be tortured forever for not believing as they do.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • CJ

      Why are my kids thoughtful, sympathetic and kindhearted, who do charity without question, who consider the poor worthy of help, and who grasp the beauty of all human lives?

      When most fundy kids spend their time in church doing no good? Hating non-believers?

      You are deeply insulting to humanity, dear obscurantismo...

      April 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • YeahOk

      "Gonna test the pre tag."

      Doesn't work. Guess ya need a lot of   tags.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Max

      please, keep praying and stop posting.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Dave

      Atheism....Every day now.........you have to stop with this crap.
      One one. No they don't but my father did say if you play with it too long you'll need glasses.
      I'm 65 and I wear glasses. Go ahead kids, it's worth it.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • just sayin

      Too many just sayin. God bless

      April 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • just sayin

      You just did. God bless

      April 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  19. Martin

    it's a myth, that's why ya need faith. what ever happened to the faithful? oh ye of little faith.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Martins Mother

      that does it, im telling your father. I only I wish knew who he is.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  20. notheism

    For those complaining about this article being posted today, imagine how an atheist feels every Easter, Christmas or other religious day when almost everywhere they go, such beliefs will be forced upon them.
    Give me a break; it is about time that CNN published an article like this.

    April 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Standing ovation, loud applause!

      April 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • CJ


      April 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Believer in Jesus as my Savior

      Since when has anyone ever force their belief on you? Just because you see people at church or they try to explain their beliefs to you does not mean they put a gun to your head and forced you to listen and believe. What do you think a Christian feels like when they are told that they are ignorrant, biased, stupid, bigots just because they have faith in a greater power? I have to listen to athiest ideals everywhere I go, many times I have to hear it in conjunction with some hurtful comment directed at believers, yet I don't complain and throw a hissy fit.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Believer in Jesus as my Savior
      "Since when has anyone ever force their belief on you?"

      You are joking, right?

      April 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • incredulous

      Since when has anyone ever forced their beliefs on us? Since christians declared this a christian nation and attempt at every turn to amend the Const itution with laws that only support their religion. This is a secular nation, yet we see god on money now and in our pledge (since the 50's). You are trying to change laws to force us to submit to your antiquated beliefs and its affecting our government, schools, libraries, hospitals, homes, bodies and bedrooms, and it must STOP. We are a secular nation, and all religions (and no religion) are welcome. Never, EVER forget that. We get your religion shoved down our throats at every turn, and we are coming out in droves to remind you that it will not work. Mmmkay? Thanks!

      April 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Tom

      No one's forcing anything on you. Believers have a commission from Jesus to spread the good news. To make sure that people are aware of His message of salvation. And then try to be living examples of Him. Period. What you decide to do once you've heard it is entirely up to you. You decide whether your viewpoint is short term worldly or eternal. Whatever your choice, it doesn't affect my beliefs, and neither does your criticism and ridicule. You don't like Christmas, Easter, etc., so what? Ignore them. By denigrating those to whom they are significant you display crass, petty, and intolerant behavior. If that's really you, then knock yourself out.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Valval

      Hey, I am an atheist and I don't feel angry on Easter-I laugh. I am still in disbelief people believe in any of it. It's ridiculous. I know most of them have been brainwashed since birth but at the least, I am sure their subconscious works. They do things that contradict the bible everyday-things like going to the doctor. They must know the reality of life and death even if they don't admit it. I think that is why atheist are more hated than gays of muslims. They know that we know they are idiots. As an atheist, I do not get angry on holidays. I get angry every other day because you are right-we have had this "sheet" shoved down our throat our entire life. Religion has invaded every aspect of society. The recent "debate" about birth control needs to be the last straw. (Not abortion-BIRTH CONTROL PILLS). Birth control is the intelligent thing to do. I hope that people who really don't believe in god and are tired of appeasing these people and their imaginary friends will put their foot down. Women especially, who know the reality of an unwanted pregnancy and how that could ruin the rest of their life, need to stand up because let's face it ladies, IF men could get pregnant this wouldn't be an issue. And yes CNN needs to stop it, too. GROW UP, people. Nothing happens when you die. You just die. You won't be disappointed because you will be dead. Stop wasting your finite time on fairy tales and go out and enjoy life.

      Religious people: Stop and think how much energy goes into everything everyone does in this world trying to please everyone's imaginary friends who apparently hate each other and want to kill you. Think about what the world would be like if that energy was used for the good of all people in this life which is REALITY.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Tom

      @Incredulous: Are unions political? Are farmers political? Are small business owners political? Sure. Every group has a stake in politics. Christians are no different. It is natural that they, also, will lobby politicians to enact laws that favor their beliefs. It would be unnatural if they didn't! How does this hurt you? So what if our money says "In God We Trust?" Does this hurt you personally? Consider how you are affected when teachers go on strike, or by farm subsidies or the lack of them, or by small businesses that go under. Chances are you're much more affected by these than the actions of Christians, yet you somehow manage to go on living despite them. So why do you reserve your your unique hatred only for Christians? Christians have to tolerate you. Why don't you tolerate them? Or is the simple answer that you're intolerant.

      April 8, 2012 at 4:41 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.