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Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion
December 20th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) – The Christmas season is revealing a growing rift among American atheists when it comes to the question of how to deal with religion.

Some atheist activists are trying to seize the holidays as a time to build bridges with faith groups, while other active unbelievers increasingly see Christmas as a central front in the war on religious faith. With the dramatic growth of the nonreligious in the last few decades, more atheist leaders are emerging as spokespeople for atheism, but the Christmas rift speaks to growing disagreement over how atheists should treat religion.

On the religion-bashing side, there’s David Silverman, president of the group American Atheists, which raised one of its provocative trademark billboards in New York’s Times Square last week. “Keep the MERRY!” it says. “Dump the MYTH!”
The sign features a picture of a jolly Santa Clause and another of Jesus dying on the cross – a not-so-subtle attack on Christianity.

“Christianity stole Christmas in the first place and they don’t own the season, they don’t own the Christmas season,” Silverman said, pointing to pagan winter solstice celebrations that predated Jesus Christ. “When they say keep Christ in Christmas, they are actually saying put Christ back in Christmas.”

The New York billboard, which will be up until early January and is costing the group at least $25,000, is the latest in a long line of provocative American Atheists signs, which attacked then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s religion during this year’s presidential campaign.

It’s not the only way Silverman is using Christmas to attack Christianity. In a recent TV interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he said the American Atheist office be open on Christmas Day and called for an end to Christmas as a federal holiday.

O’Reilly, in turn, called Silverman a fascist.

Despite Silverman’s knack for making headlines, however, other prominent atheists are putting a softer face on the movement, including during Christmastime.

“I just think the whole war on Christmas story is bizarre” said Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, who has emerged as another spokesman for the burgeoning atheist movement. “I think that any atheist or humanist that is participating in that story needs to find better things to do with their time.”

From his point of view, atheism and religion can happily coexist, including at the holidays.

At the chaplaincy, Epstein has reached out to local religious groups, packaging holiday meals and breaking bread with believers to discuss their similarities and differences.

Sponsored by the Humanist Community at Harvard, evangelical Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians, along with a number of atheists, were among those represented at a recent meal packaging event for hungry kids in the Boston area. Around 250 people participated and over $10,000 was raised – including donations from local Lutheran and Methodist churches.
Epstein calls this sort of inter-religious dialogue “healthy.”

“We as a community need to be about the positive and we have so much positive to offer,” he said. “I think that we really can provide a positive alternative to religious holidays that are not meaningful because of their religious content.”
Silverman, for his part, is more than comfortable being negative when it comes to religion.

“We should look at the results - people are listening to us because we are shouting,” he said. “They don’t hear you unless you shout. … Sometimes you have to put political correctness aside. We need to get louder. I believe we are seeing the fruits of that volume.”

As proof, American Atheists points to the way their donations skyrocket after every billboard campaign. “We get donations and memberships because we are taking the stand that we do,” said Silverman, who would not give specific numbers on fundraising. “The donations are flowing in right now. People are loving it specifically because of the billboard.”

Epstein would rather see more emphasis on volunteerism, though he acknowledges that some atheists are drawn to Silverman’s vocal model. Both men said they appeal to different parts of the atheist movement.

“We are GOP and Dem, man and women, black and white – the only thing that holds us together is atheism,” Silverman said. “A movement like ours needs all sides. It needs people who are working to be conciliatory and it needs people who are willing to raise their voices.”

Religious “nones” – a combination of atheists, agnostics and the religiously unaffiliated, have been growing their ranks in recent years. According to a Pew Research study released this year, the fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all as one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

The survey found that the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans. According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated.

Though not monolithic, younger atheists, according to Jesse Galef, communications director of the Secular Student Alliance, are more prone to celebrate a secular version of Christmas than to ignore the holiday.

“I am very much in favor of celebrating the secular Christmas,” Galef said. “It is a celebration of the spirit of giving and I think religious divisiveness goes against that effort.”

Other atheists celebrate Festivus, a December 23 holiday meant for atheists looking to celebrate during the winter without participating in a Christian holiday. The holiday, which entered into popular culture through the television show “Seinfeld” in 1997, has gained popularity in recent years.

At the Secular Student Alliance office in Columbus, Ohio, the staff will play Secret Sagan, a nod to the famed scientist, instead of Secret Santa. And instead of Christmas decorations, they put up a Winter Solstice Tree with ornaments from the movie “When the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“We celebrate the holiday season, just not the religious holiday,” Galef said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Christmas

soundoff (4,367 Responses)
  1. Keigo

    "I am very much in favor of celebrating the secular Christmas,” Galef said. “It is a celebration of the spirit of giving and I think religious divisiveness goes against that effort.”

    Ironic that Galef wants to celebrate the "spirit" of giving when he believes in none. How can you celebrate a secular Christmas by promoting a spirit of anything? Or does he really mean that Christmas is a celebration of a guilty conscience wanting to placate itself by doing something that one thinks is "good" based on a relative sense of morality? Yeah, that's the "spirit".

    December 23, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      In this case the spirit of the season probably just refers to the general feeling of well-wishing and cheer...shared happiness.

      Language is rife with religiously rooted jargon. It's nearly impossible to avoid using words that refer to some type of religious belief without sounding overly clinical. Spirit is one of those words. Ill-defined even in biblical terms the nominal defintion of spirit usually descibes the soul (another ill-defined term). But sprit can also refer to a persons conscience without referring to anything supernatural. High spirited describes someone who is ambitiious, driven,vivacious or lively. Mean spirited to describe someone who is petty or malicious. As nebulous as the word spirit is it still serves to aptly describe a persons ego or disposition. I for one will not give up using terms that suit the situation despite the efforts of people like you to imbue them with more significance than they possess. Plus I'm not about to give up the really useful cuss words ....goddamnit.

      December 23, 2012 at 4:12 am |
    • Da King

      Christians celebrate the birth of Christ on 12/25.

      December 23, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  2. Just call me Lucifer

    I killed the christian god. It wasn't easy, but trust me... its dead. Wasn't a man, wasn't a woman but something in between.
    Screamed like a little girl too. I keep jesus around though... turns out he's not such a bad carpenter. Too bad he didn't stick with it... he could have made a name for himself.

    December 23, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • 2357

      Mr...Ratzinger? Is that you?

      December 23, 2012 at 7:06 am |
  3. Reality

    Happy Holidays from Saturn and her rings:

    http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap121222.html (for full screen, simply click on the picture)

    December 22, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Reality

      To be correct "mythologically" correct make that "from his rings".

      December 23, 2012 at 7:01 am |
  4. lionlylamb

    hal 9001 wrote on December 22, 2012 at 10:37 pm, "I'm sorry, "lionlylamb", but I am not sure what kind of analysis you are seeking. Also, "lionlylamb", should I assume that by "cosmologies of triune manifestation", you are referring to the concept of the trinity from a particular branch of Christianity as it relates to different aspects of the universe? If so, which particular branch of Christianity?"

    1. The inner cosmology of the atomized realms. Are these realms not the first realms conceived in the grand schemes of cosmology?

    2. The outer cosmology of the celestial realms. Did not this realm become conceived only after the inner cosmological realms near finalization was made nearing a completion?

    3. The cellular cosmology of the living realms. Did this living realm of cosmological matter come about by sheer coincidence or was there a cosmological order for the living realms of cellular cosmology to become an ever evolving realm ending upon this celestial shores as being mankind?

    As for answering your question regarding my use of "triune manifestation", There are only three cosmologies useful toward mankind's searches for some type of cosmological order here upon a terrestrial world of celestial complacency for living cosmologies of the cellular varieties.

    December 22, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  5. lionlylamb

    Bootyfunk wrote, "christians think a god made the universe just for them – and you want to talk about ego?"

    How humbling horrific a statement! Like atheists aren't the only ones that this 'planet; was made for! As for the universe ranting, talk about one's egoistic naturalism being heightened!?

    December 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Stephen Roberts

      December 23, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      The planet wasn't "made"...it formed out of completely natural processes. Accerting out of the disc of matter surrounding the newly formed sun. Astronomers have observed this in action aroound other young stars. Likewise mankind wasn't created...we evolved...from earlier forms of life in well understood natural processes. We are simply a happy accident. Our cosmic significance is minimal to the point of being almost inconsequential. Compared to believers who think they have a relationship with the creator of everything our ego is nearly non-existent.

      December 23, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • Keigo

      @AtheistSteve
      All science can answer is "how" it happened. But not why. Sure, it happened all naturally. But why did it happen? Why didn't the universe just remain constantly lifeless and empty in the beginning? What changed? These questions science cannot answer, and science probably should not have to answer those questions. But people have those questions and it is nothing wrong with wanting to know - and if science won't bother to answer why it happened (simply saying "random odds" is a cop-out answer), faith in a supernatural creator is nothing to be ashamed of...

      You can believe in the big bang and in God. BIg bang may explained what happened physically. But belief in God assigns meaning to it. If anything, religion makes the study of science much more interesting and meaningful (for some people). You can if you want, but no reason to exclude one from the other...in my opinion.

      December 23, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  6. 2357

    Ban Christmas. Ban it like crack cocaine. I've always been creeped out by those virgin and christkind shrines anyway. Christianity and churches would be better off without all the aberration and the vile compromise with pagan idolatry. Separate unto holiness, ban the Roman holiday.

    December 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Many folks who believe in an afterlife need their roots for believing planted somewhere. Since atheists have no roots to plant, they dare dig up others planted roots but for what goodness is such ilk? Whose roots that are firmly planted will never be uprooted! I have found the kingdom of God's domains and cannot be uprooted by the sheering stocks of many lack-lustered people wanting to make shameful derogatory blemishes upon their own heart's displeasures! God in Godly ways, does take in all strays!

      December 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • fintastic

      @lambchops....... I have in Godly wantingdom of Godly wanted! I have in all stocks what goodness is such ilk? Whose roots have never in an all stocks of God's does to planted will strays! Godly ways! God's dig uprooted people ways! Many lack-lusterlife never be uproots have no roots have need rooted that are for believe firmly planted! I have for be up other dare found their own heart's displeasures! God's displeasures! Many for who be uproots that are displeasures! God's does uproots for be uproots have never firmly planted in poop.

      January 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  7. Bootyfunk

    christians should thank pagans for the Christmas tradition they enjoy.

    December 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • LOL

      Thank you Bootyfunk.

      December 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  8. Mark

    It really is amazing how the most foolish group of people on the face of the earth (atheists) run around the planet and act as though they are the smartest. lol Both foolish and proud at the same time, wow, really?. Most people are not foolish enough to believe that we made ourselves, and that the sun continues to shine one us each day by accident. It is obvious that this group cannot really be that dumb. They just seek attention. They like to shock us with billboards, and stupid comments, and hateful remarks against God and against His people. Probably best to just ignore them. Blessed be the Lord. Thank God for sending Jesus to this weary place to save us from our sins. God bless

    December 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • apostate

      No one believes "we made ourselves." The sun will continue to shine for an estimated 5 billion more years until it runs out of fuel. A third grade education will solve these problems for you.

      December 22, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Mark", but "God" and "the Lord" are elements of mythology, therefore your assertions regarding their existence and capabilities are unfounded.

      December 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Wrong

      Thank God for sending Jesus to this weary place to save us from our sins.

      He sent David Koresh to save us from our sins. We aren't 100% sure that Jesus even existed. David, the real son of God, did exist. Get it right.

      December 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      hal 9001,

      What claims do you have against the three cosmologies of triune manifestation then?

      1. The inner cosmology of the atomized realms.

      2. The outer cosmology of the celestial realms.

      3. The cellular cosmology the living realms.

      December 22, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Counterpoint

      It really is amazing how the most foolish group of people on the face of the earth (Christians) run around the planet and act as though they are the smartest. lol Both foolish and proud at the same time, wow, really?. Most people are not foolish enough to believe that we descended from Adam and Eve, and that the sun continues to shine one us each day by God's will. It is obvious that this group cannot really be that dumb. They just seek attention. They like to shock us with billboards, and stupid comments, and hateful remarks against gays and against people who aren't just like them. Probably best to just ignore them. Blessed are the cheesemakers. Thank goodness for reason and logic.

      December 22, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Wrong,

      What Wrong did you do lately for the poor and the elderly who cannot fend fro themselves? Did you give them anything at all? My brother and I live our lives on a measly $ 1,ooo a month! I give still yet but a pittance to the needy and you?

      December 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Counterpoint

      Lionlylamb, what possible business is it of yours how much someone gives to the needy??

      December 22, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Counterpoint,

      Is is amazingly foolish to see folks who do not believe in an afterlife banter with indecency to lay upon the religious frugal alms of worded parodies giving themselves a pat on the back for their continual disgruntled commentaries battements selfish desires of contriteness bewildering essays! It is much better for an atheist to listen then be heard grunting away!

      December 22, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Counterpoint,

      What business is it of yours since I did not make the post to you? Besides, I didn't ask how much one gives to the poor and the elderly poor for I asked "Wrong if Wrong did at least give"! BTW, Have you given this festive time anything to the elderly poor or are you waiting for them to die broke and poor of spirit?

      December 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Counterpoint

      Thinking that believers are the only ones who support charities is incorrect. You don't have to be religious to give to the needy. Just have to have empathy, and that's not found in any book.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Observer

      Every atheist contributes to all the causes supported by churches since they have to help make up the tax money not paid by churches.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Counterpoint,

      Where the hell does empathy wield into charities? Just because one donates pesos does little to raise an elderly poor persons spirits! Do yourself a favor and quit it with donation's empathies and show a little kindness toward those poor elders in need of real empathy and not just a dollars worth of empathic sympathy!

      December 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Observer

      Empathy from believers often ends when religious hypocrites pick on gays or pro-choice supporters.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Observer wrote, "Every atheist contributes to all the causes supported by churches since they have to help make up the tax money not paid by churches."

      Quit it already in your writing about "Every atheist" contributing! That is an all out lie! You can't tell me truthfully that "Every atheist" contributes! The rest of your rant is pure rave!

      December 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Observer

      Lionlylamb,

      "lready in your writing about "Every atheist" contributing! That is an all out lie! You can't tell me truthfully that "Every atheist" contributes! The rest of your rant is pure rave"

      Are you really so dense you don't think that EVERY atheist pays taxes?

      December 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Observer is wrote, "Empathy from believers often ends when religious hypocrites pick on gays or pro-choice supporters."

      If such poo poo regarding "religious" believers empathies are hypocritical regarding gays and/or pro-choice then why are such "moral" empathies being realized nowadays? The elderly are dying off and the up-N-coming new agers will clear the ways for all myriads of social civilities to be rendered for the masses sakes! Your daringness for widening the parameters of lucid clemencies is quite audacious and even a bit alluring!

      December 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Observer wrote, "Are you really so dense you don't think that EVERY atheist pays taxes?"

      Doesn't everybody even the religious flocks pair their taxes? What the hell kind of circular logistics game are you on!!! ?

      December 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • hal 9001

      "lionlylamb", it is not my function to be "against" anything. I am here to collect data, analyze, and to occasionally illuminate unfounded assertions or falsehoods.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Observer

      lionlylamb

      Observer wrote, "Are you really so dense you don't think that EVERY atheist pays taxes?"
      Doesn't everybody even the religious flocks pair their taxes? What the hell kind of circular logistics game are you on!!! ?"

      Wow! Did you even bother to read the reference before your pathetic attempt to change the subject? It was you who wrote "You can't tell me truthfully that "Every atheist" contributes!"

      December 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      christians think a god made the universe just for them - and you want to talk about ego?

      December 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      hal 9001 wrote, "I'm sorry, "Mark", but "God" and "the Lord" are elements of mythology, therefore your assertions regarding their existence and capabilities are unfounded. It is not my function to be "against" anything. I am here to collect data, analyze, and to occasionally illuminate unfounded assertions or falsehoods."

      Could you then 'analyze' for me the three cosmologies of triune manifestation?

      1. The inner cosmology of the atomized realms

      2. The outer cosmology of the celestial realms

      3. The cellular cosmology of the living realms

      I await your analytical answer.

      Love Lettuce,
      Love Let Us.
      G.O.D.
      God's Oldest Dreamer

      December 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Counterpoint

      Lionlylamb, you post on a thread to others, I posted to you.
      You want a pat on the back for your good deeds; that you have to BRAG about them tells me a LOT!
      Good little Christian! (Pats head)

      December 22, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Counterpoint,

      All posts are fair game. Just what the hell did I brag about to make you into being Soupy Sales?

      December 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Observer, the following was your very first post on this thread, "Every atheist contributes to all the causes supported by churches since they have to help make up the tax money not paid by churches."

      My rebuttal is Everyone contributes to taxation causes, atheists and the religious alike! What about corporations paying their fair shares instead of them having loopholes?

      December 22, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Counterpoint

      Yes, all posts are fair game, Lionlylamb, which is why I posted "what business of yours what one gives to the needy" after YOU bragged about "My brother and I live our lives on a measly $ 1,ooo a month! I give still yet but a pittance to the needy and you?" Apparently you need a gold star for your pittance, but you get a demerit for your nosiness.

      December 22, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "lionlylamb", but I am not sure what kind of analysis you are seeking. Also, "lionlylamb", should I assume that by "cosmologies of triune manifestation", you are referring to the concept of the trinity from a particular branch of Christianity as it relates to different aspects of the universe? If so, which particular branch of Christianity?

      December 22, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Counterpoint

      The POINT, lionlylamb, is that a person does not have to belong to a religion to give their time or money to the needy!! The elderly poor, the starving children, what-have-you! That's the POINT!

      Soupy Sales? What are you, ninety?

      December 22, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Counterpoint,

      And now you come to grips do you? Why all your ranting and raving to make contrite statements do finally make a good one? I give. nuff said.

      December 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Counterpoint

      Lionly, come to grips? With what? I will repeat what I originally said to you: Thinking that believers are the only ones who support charities is incorrect. You don’t have to be religious to give to the needy. Just have to have empathy, and that’s not found in any book.
      Glad you gave up. You were wrong from the start.

      December 22, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Counterpoint this was your second post in this thread, on December 22, 2012 at 8:54 pmm "Lionlylamb, what possible business is it of yours how much someone gives to the needy??"

      Your initial post in this thread seems to me to be rants and raves for self-enlightenment issues.

      December 22, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • fintastic

      Lionylamb is an ignorant troll who types meaningless gibberish in an attempt to gain attention.

      January 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  9. Vic Stench

    Is God really dead?

    December 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Athy

      He never lived.

      December 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Vic Stench

      Why do you presume that God is a male?

      December 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      V.S.,

      Belief in an afterlife is what many people dare want to believe because many of life does not have a very fruitful life's living. Being a faith-filled individual while having little material needs is why there are many people clinging to a faith of one kind or another. To make blasphemies against the trodden down folks of little material goods is not only shameful it is a humane abomination! If you are an atheist and do not believe in an afterlife, please do not make condemnations against faithful believers and likewise the faithful believers of there being an afterlife should not condemn those who dare not believe in an afterlife. I for one believe in an afterlife! I know beyond any doubt as to the generalities of my afterlife whereabouts and I have written about it and posted it here on many occasions. God, in God's many ways, takes in all the strays!

      December 22, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Vic Stench

      Lion – what a load of crap!

      December 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      V.S.,

      Have you checked your drawers lately? Something smells! What a Stench do I smell! If you dare dish it out, I will throw it back to you ten folded you stench of sh|t unworthy of the diapers you wear upon your buttress wreaking of Stench so bad, I wouldn't touch you with me nor my brother's poles!

      December 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Butthead

      He said buttress. . .huh. .a huh . . a huh huh

      December 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Athy

      Buttress: a female butt.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      " I wouldn't touch you with me nor my brother's poles!"
      sound like you touch your brother's pole a lot and no one else is allowed.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Counterpoint

      Well, if you did touch Vic with either you or your brother's poles, that would mean you're gay...not that there's anything wrong with that.

      The brother thing is a little creepy, though.

      December 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Athy

      Yeah. Isn't that incest?

      December 22, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • kenrick Benjamin

      Whoes asking?

      December 23, 2012 at 6:30 am |
    • Athy

      "Whoes?" Never heard of that word.

      December 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • kenrick Benjamin

      Athy is you, go figure.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  10. Reality

    Added references for necessary perusal for all atheists, agnostics and Christians:

    10.The Gnostic Jesus
    (Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)
    by Douglas Groothuis: equip.org/free/DG040-1.htm
    11. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
    Presented on March 18, 1994
    ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2
    12. The Jesus Database- newer site:
    wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=Jesus_Database
    13. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:
    faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb016.html
    14. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
    mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
    15. The Journal of Higher Criticism with links to articles on the Historical Jesus:
    mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

    Continued below:

    December 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Reality

      16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
      17. Diseases in the Bible:
      etd.unisa.ac.za/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-08022006-125807/unrestricted/02dissertation.pdf
      18. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.
      religion-online.org/
      19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity:
      mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
      21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.
      ntgateway.com/
      22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians:
      members.aol.com/DrSwiney/seminar.html
      23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php
      24. JD Crossan's scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separated into time periods: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtf
      25. JD Crossan's conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years:
      faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan2.rtf

      December 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Reality

      26. Common Sayings from Thomas's Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf
      27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
      28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?
      infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
      29. NT and beyond time line:
      pbs.org/empires/peterandpaul/history/timeline/
      30. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
      harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
      31. 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.
      32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
      33. The books of the following : Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
      34. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
      35. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      December 22, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • George

      Congratulations. All you negative naysayers prove that you hearts are definitely hardened to Jesus' truth.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Reality

      Scroll down the page to see references 1-9.

      And once again some wisdom from a very wise man many centuries ago:

      "The Two Universal Sects

      They all err—Moslems, Jews,
      Christians, and Zoroastrians:

      Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
      One, man intelligent without religion,
      The second, religious without intellect. "

      Al-Ma'arri
      , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

      Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."

      Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/resalat-al-ghufran#ixzz1lI6DuZmZ and http://www.humanistictexts.org/al_ma'arri.htm

      Death's Debt is Paid in Full

      Death's debt is then and there

      Paid down by dying men;

      But it is a promise bare
      That they shall rise again."

      Al-Ma'arri

      December 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Just a thought

      Something to think about Reality since you are so focused on disproving Jesus' existence. Did you ever hear of the Kenites? Those are Satan's offspring and have existed throughout the history of mankind. With that said, don't you think these people rid evidence of Jesus years before you and the other nonbelievers thought about looking? Makes perfect sense since the earth is Satan's kingdom and he wants to rule and knock God out of the way. What better way then keep doubt in the minds of men and rid the world of any evidence left behind.

      December 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Akira

      Seriously???
      Satan removed all evidence?
      Wow.

      December 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • apostate

      He hid it in dinosaur bones. Didn't you get the memo?

      December 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • What?

      Akira, thanks for proving atheists aren't open minded.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the new members of this blog:

      Jesus did exist BUT THERE IS LARGE QUALIFIER–

      The Apostles' Creed 2012: (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
      (references used are available upon request)

      December 23, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • fintastic

      @Just a thought wrote.........."... Did you ever hear of the Kenites? Those are Satan's offspring and have existed throughout the history of mankind. With that said, don't you think these people rid evidence of Jesus years before you and the other nonbelievers thought about looking? Makes perfect sense since the earth is Satan's kingdom and he wants to rule and knock God out of the way. What better way then keep doubt in the minds of men and rid the world of any evidence left behind."

      it's laughable (actually sad) that in the year 2013, someone could actually believe this to be fact...... wow!

      January 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  11. Moby Schtick

    The bible is demonstrably false in many cases. There's literally hundreds of examples, but take the story of the Israelites in Egypt. We know for a fact that there were no Israelites in Egypt as the story is portrayed in the bible. It is a case where the bible is flat out wrong. The flood and other accounts are just as stupid an inaccurate.

    Personally, I believe in the bible. I believe in it for what it is-–a book of many myths changed by various methods and by various people hundreds or thousands of times for all sorts of reasons. Stories were changed many times before being written, and many times after being written, and then as they were collected and bound together and then forgotten and then recollected and on and on.

    As to the bible's god existing–that's just laughable as he is too stupid and inconsistent a character to even be coherent, much less a being who might actually exist. The bible's god is too stupid to even be relevant, in any time period, to any culture, for any purpose. His so-called "believers" must pick and choose the attributes they claim belong to him because there is no way possible to believe in all his attributes at the same time. Thus, the character doesn't even hold together logically to be considered as possibly true or false. Biblegod MUST be disbelieved for that reason, and the reason that his stupidity makes him unbelievable. You would only put forth such a stupid and inconsistent character if it was your goal to force people to disbelieve in him.

    Lastly, god's existence is irrelevant. It makes no difference if he exists because believing he exists doesn't do anything. Believers don't get anything out of life that generic belief doesn't get them. Believers use the taxicab fallacy to state that they have what they have and are where they are because of some god, but they have nothing and are nowhere that another person cannot have and be with another belief of some other sort. There's nothing that god belief does. God doesn't do anything. There's nothing to measure. There's nothing to predict and then observe that shows anything one way or another about his existence. God is either invisible and undetectable or does not exist. In either case, his existence is irrelevant. Atheism is the ONLY logical conclusion....

    December 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • George

      Moby, your heart is harden and you are lawless when you say NO to Jesus' truth. That too, is written.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      If you could prove any of that psychobabble, George, we'd have somewhere to start and something to go on.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Moby Schtick,

      Belief in an afterlife is what many people dares want to believe because many of life does not have a very fruitful life's living. Being a faith-filled individual while having little material needs is why there are many people clinging to a faith of one kind or another. To make blasphemies against the trodden down folks of little material goods is not only shameful it is a humane abomination! If you are an atheist and do not believe in an afterlife, please do not make condemnations against faithful believers and likewise the faithful believers of there being an afterlife should not condemn those who dare not believe in an afterlife. I for one believe in an afterlife! I know beyond any doubt as to the generalities of my afterlife whereabouts and I have written about it and posted it here on many occasions. God, in God's many ways, takes in all the strays!

      December 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • apostate

      You're just going to rot in the ground. Worm food.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • What?

      When an atheist dies they get all dressed up for no where to go. How sad.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • apostate

      If you're dead you don't get all dressed up, you're dead. What other people do with your corpse is out your hands.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • tallulah13

      A lot of things are written George, but proof is required for things to be considered true.

      December 22, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  12. Airing of Grievances

    In honor of festivus tomorrow 12/23/2012 the belief blog posters have disapointed me in the following ways..

    1.) Just because something is in "quotation marks" does not make it a fact.

    2.) "Tard" is not a word.

    3.) Name calling should never be confused with a valid point.

    4.) An opinion is not a fact.

    5.) A belief is not a fact. I believe it more closely resembles an opinion.

    6.) There is no such thing as "sub human" there is only human.

    7.) The actions of former world leaders (ie: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and so on) do not prove wether or not anything "exists".

    I believe that is all. Have a safe and happy festivus tomorrow.

    December 22, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Airing of Grievances

      Oh yeah..last grievance. I miss spelled "whether"...get over it.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm |

    • Regarding 6, every human is capable of sinking lower than another.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Athy

      And you misspelled misspelled.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Roger that

      The world did not end. It's another Festivus miracle!

      December 22, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Airing of Grievances

      Athy. Yes you are correct.

      Regarding 6...refer to 4

      December 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Akira

      Lol! Well done!
      I would also add that using the phrase "in fact" in a sentence does not make it, in fact, fact.

      December 22, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  13. Not a Chad

    Mutual
    If you seek the truth about christian scams, the RCC, TV evangelists, faith healers, Benny Hinn, Mark Haville, Peter Popoff, to name just a few, if you want to see the truth about christianity seek it with an open heart. I mean, really, how stupid are you to deny the history.

    December 22, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Not a Chad

      Meant as a reply to mutual respect, but talk about seeking the truth with an honest heart; you mutual can not see the truth as they are stealing your money. Evey minute another fool is sucked in by the miracle workers and Santa sellers.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  14. Fact

    In fact, Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

    December 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Ken

      Fact, the Puritans didn't celebrate Christmas at all. They didn't think that it was Christian.

      December 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  15. lionlylamb

    Inner-embodied designs within all megalithic monoliths of cellular decadents are evolved from and of inner mechanisms by said machineries operators of insider ordeals. Our bodies are way more than just buildings as scripture does declare. Our bodies are structured by cellular divisions of sub-microscopic orders in atomized terrestrial cosmologies much the same ways of outer space structures in celestial cosmologies are ever so formed.

    We are terrestrially bred and celestially fed structures of megalithic aspirations within monolithic proportions. In goliath forms are most all living things made here upon this world on a dimensional plain of extreme size variability. The inner-residents of our body’s cellular structures are the operators of our microbial structured machineries and these intelligently aspired residents do reside inside us upon a scale of such extreme smallness our abilities and desires to actually see these residents may not ever be feasible by our viewing due the extremeness scales of indeed relative smallness.

    As our sciences atomic colliders demolish like atoms of sameness size for; it is like two planets of similar sizes colliding at an extreme rate of speed annihilating each other. The results of such collisions be it very small of even very large are just paired similarities appearances being as one and the sameness of conjecture but in varied spatial sizes relevancies.

    1Corinthians 15:40 [There are] also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [is] one, and the [glory] of the terrestrial [is] another.

    The 'celestial bodies' are stars, planets, moons etcetera and 'bodies terrestrial' are all the places where planets are made capable to form micro-cosmological structures of cellular e n t I t I e s in megalithic contrivances by very small beings the gospel sees as being of godly principalities. Such beings of intellectual supremacies are the operators of bio-molecular machines and mechanisms which makes up all terrestrial bodies cellular attritions.

    Gospels teach us that our bodies are the gods' buildings and also that the kingdom domains of god are inside us. Also we all do labor together equally with these innerness beings that theologies call being gods and goddesses. I see these godly beings as being mortals and them like us, do die. They even have families much like we do.

    1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!”

    Regarding this universe as being god's body I say no. This universe is but one of perhaps millions of universes within a singularized cosmos among untold numbers of singular cosmos. We may never truly see such a fruition to be socially accepted by the many as is now the cases. I do though remain ever hopeful that people may take my ongoing wordage in these issues with some desire of believability.

    As sciences ongoing struggles to peer inwardly and see outwardly comes to a reasoned sensibility that; the inner cosmos and the outer cosmos are truly of sameness yet only are scalar in size variations, are my heartfelt dreams for humanisms arrivals in sensibilities truths to be rationally realized.

    December 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • psych ward staff

      Oh no, someone threw up their word salad again. Clean up on page 28.

      December 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Taking responsibility for your actions?

      I suppose the atheists believe the way to lead a better life is to put others down, starting with sarcasm as an intimidation tactic along with other atheists joining in to add more insults to ensure more mental trauma.

      December 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • apostate

      That's just something idiots say.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • fintastic

      There's lamchop spitting out meaningless gibberish again.... sigh..

      I bet you really impress yourself...

      January 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  16. hal 9001

    I've taken the liberty of writing a simple Javascript function for posters to use when handling repeated unfounded assertions by "Chad":

    ================================
    function handle_Chad_garbage(postmessage) {
    var reply = "What are you babbling about, Chad?";
    if(postmessage.indexOf("fine tuning") != -1) {
    reply = "The fine tuning of the universe is not sufficient evidence of the existence of your particular god, Chad."; }
    else if(postmessage.indexOf("the universe had a beginning") != -1) {
    reply = "Regardless of whether or not the universe had a finite beginning, this is not sufficient evidence of your particular god, Chad."; }
    else if(postmessage.indexOf("empty tomb") != -1) {
    reply = "There is no reasonable evidence that the events written about by anonymous authors of the gospels actually occurred, Chad."; }
    else if(postmessage.indexOf("2 billion corroborating witnesses") != =1) {
    reply = "Believers and witnesses are two different things, Chad." }
    return reply; }
    ================================

    Should the Belief Blog incorporate this function into their current Javascript handlers and allow this function to be called by posters, one would simply reply with:

    handle_Chad_garbage([paste Chad's last reply here]);

    December 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Chad is a liar, and that's far more heinous than his propensity to sh!t all over any topic he enjoins.

      December 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Not a Chad

      Check out "Streetapologetics" website where Chad Williams attempts to sell his book and story to the sheepies, just another cheap christian hustler,

      December 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Not a Chad

      I forgot to thank mama k for the link. All the crap Chad posts you can read again at the site, taxi-cab, anyone.

      December 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Not a Chad

      hal 9001..... Perhaps you could also include a list of the colorful adjectives that Moby uses do describe the Chad, one click and you have them all. You may chose to leave out dou*chebag, something that can be a useful tool, not at all descripitive of the Chad.

      December 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Ah, that website explains a lot. Chad is running an algorithm that he believes to be infallible. That's why when it comes to a decision between reasoning and the rote rhetoric of the algorithm, he chooses the algorithm; his faith is absolute-–in the algorithm. His faith in his god is secondary, and irrelevant. He simply always falls back on the mechanic that is his core principle.

      In short, he's a bot.

      December 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Not a Chad

      Moby
      I am sure hal9001 would agree with your analysis. Thanks again to mama k for the link. I always thought that Chad was using the christian apologetics and research ministry but the web seems to be full of these scams.

      December 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • mutual respect

      @hal "There is no reasonable evidence that the events written about by anonymous authors of the gospels actually occurred, Chad."

      I don't know who Chad is but this statement is false. 100% false. There is much evidence to support the historical accuracy of the gospels. In fact, it is overwhelming. I won't do the research for you but if you are interested... pick up a copy of 'A Case for Christ' by Lee Strobel. He is a reformed atheist, now a Christian. He set out to prove Christianity wrong and in the process became a Christian. That aside, his research and interviews with experts on these subjects is compelling to say the least... Long story- short, there is a ton of evidence regarding the validity of the gospels. Historical evidence.

      December 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @mutual respect

      1. The evidence you assume is so much in favor of your beliefs is simply not there. You should do more research on the matter. You think that your position is solid, but your foundation is sinking sand; perhaps you should look into it-–if you care about the truth more than you care about your faith.

      2. Strobel's "Case for Christ" is pure bullsh!t and emotional argument. It's EASILY refuted, and many have done it. There's a book called "The Case Against the Case for Christ" that you could read, or you could look up many of the refutations on line. Or, if you prefer, you and I could go through them one-by-one. In any case, it's a horrible, horrible book as any sort of "evidence" for the christian position.

      December 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • mutual respect

      Moby- we go on cirlcles if you wish. I will write "The Case against The Case Against the Case for Christ"...

      Outside of Strobel the top scholars throughout the world support the gospels for historical accuracy. Are there questions? sure there are but no one has really been able to honestly dispute the accuracy and historical legitmacy of the gospels. Sure, some on the lunatic fringe give it a shot but they are always exposed as frauds. Always.

      And touche' my friend- if you want the truth you should seek it with an honest heart. Your heart is obviously hardened and it keeps the blinders on. You really don't want the truth at all do you?

      December 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • OTOH

      mutual respect,

      It seems that Moby looks at history (and other subjects) with a microscope and a telescope, while you view them with rose-colored glasses.

      How could a purportedly All-Knowing and All-Powerful god allow such solid, verified evidence of the existence of a man like Julius Caesar (also from that age) (just for one instance of ancient historical figures), and such weak, shoddy evidence of itself or its alleged son?

      December 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The disingenuous answer of a biblical exegesist to the question "How could God allow such weak, shoddy evidence of itself or its alleged son?": We are challenged to recognize the Truth and to rely on faith.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @mutual respect

      I don't think your book "The Case against The Case Against the Case for Christ" will adequately answer the rebuttals put forth by "TCATCfC"

      And no, you're incorrect about the historical legitimacy of the gospels. The biblical scholars mostly agree and your assumptions that the gospels just must be accurate are based in the comfort level of your faith. You prefer your faith to the truth, it appears. It is your "heart" which is obviously "hardened" and have blinders and the rest of it. Mutual respect and all.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Not a Chad

      Mutual
      Who really gives a good god damn about a 2000 year old book, some say it is crap others the word of one of the gods, so what? Do me a favor and explain to me what christianity is truely about? My take is that christianity is the largest scam ever invented by the hustlers, not to say other religions do not get their cut of the pie. First you convince the sheepie they are sineers and then they have to pay the price so that they can be saved, and the cash rolls in preying on peoples weakness, disgusting. Even if jesus returned tomorrow, I for one would be happy to spit in his face for what kis followers have wrought in his name.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Chad

      The reality is that the first hand witness of Jesus is really phenomenal. Vastly more than that for any other ancient historical figure.

      There are far fewer witnesses to classical texts than to the Bible, and unlike the New Testament where the earliest witnesses are often within a couple decades of the original, the earliest existing manuscripts of most classical texts were written about a millennium after their composition.

      For example, the earliest surviving copies of parts of the Roman historian Tacitus' main work, the Annals of Imperial Rome (written in 116 AD), come from a single manuscript written in 850 AD, although for other parts of his work, the earliest copies come from the 11th century, while other parts of his work have been lost.

      The earliest copies of The Jewish War by Josephus (originally composed in the 1st century AD), in contrast, come from nine manuscripts written in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries.

      After the Bible, the next best preserved ancient work is Homer's Iliad, with 650 copies originating about 1,000 years after the original copy.

      Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War (written in the 50s BC) survives in nine copies written in the 8th century.[107] Thucydides' history of the Peloponesian War and Herodotus' history of the Persian War (both written in the 5th century BC) survives in about eight early copies, the oldest ones dating from the 10th century AD.

      "the evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning...It is a curious fact that historians have often been much readier to trust the New Testament records than have many theologians." - F.F. Bruce

      -cue ad hominem attacks...

      December 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The difference is in what we are asked to do with the texts. Nobody suggests that if we don't agree with every word of Tacitus and believe it was truly written by him we'll be subject to never-ending torture by a "loving" being who only desires our good.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Chad

      we can be absolutely sure that the events detailed in the bible did actually occur as they are described.
      we can be absolutely sure that the biblical text has been transmitted to us over 99% accurately.

      now, if you dont like what happened then, and what it means for your in terms of the reality of the God of Israel that's fine. But you cant claim that we dont have a historically accurate account.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Chad is lying again as usual.

      December 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Reality

      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 right 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.
      o
      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

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated 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/bissar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
      joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Not a Chad

      Chad
      So even if I would admit your fairytale book is true, is that sufficient justification for the ugly history of the christian religion? Does your loving jesus condon the murder, ra*pe and theft done in his name? Are you not one of the hustlers fleecing the sheepie? The truth now, oh I forgot, you are not capable of telling the truth.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Reality

      The following prayer summarizes the above and analogous references:

      The Apostles' Creed 2012: (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
      (references used are available upon request)

      December 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The bible is demonstrably false in many cases. There's literally hundreds of examples, but take the story of the Israelites in Egypt. We know for a fact that there were no Israelites in Egypt as the story is portrayed in the bible. It is a case where the bible is flat out wrong. The flood and other accounts are just as stupid an inaccurate.

      Personally, I believe in the bible. I believe in it for what it is-–a book of many myths changed by various methods and by various people hundreds or thousands of times for all sorts of reasons. Stories were changed many times before being written, and many times after being written, and then as they were collected and bound together and then forgotten and then recollected and on and on.

      As to the bible's god existing–that's just laughable as he is too stupid and inconsistent a character to even be coherent, much less a being who might actually exist. The bible's god is too stupid to even be relevant, in any time period, to any culture, for any purpose. His so-called "believers" must pick and choose the attributes they claim belong to him because there is no way possible to believe in all his attributes at the same time. Thus, the character doesn't even hold together logically to be considered as possibly true or false. Biblegod MUST be disbelieved for that reason, and the reason that his stupidity makes him unbelievable. You would only put forth such a stupid and inconsistent character if it was your goal to force people to disbelieve in him.

      Lastly, god's existence is irrelevant. It makes no difference if he exists because believing he exists doesn't do anything. Believers don't get anything out of life that generic belief doesn't get them. Believers use the taxicab fallacy to state that they have what they have and are where they are because of some god, but they have nothing and are nowhere that another person cannot have and be with another belief of some other sort. There's nothing that god belief does. God doesn't do anything. There's nothing to measure. There's nothing to predict and then observe that shows anything one way or another about his existence. God is either invisible and undetectable or does not exist. In either case, his existence is irrelevant. Atheism is the ONLY logical conclusion.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Reality

      An added summary:

      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “
      prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      earlychristianwritings.com/

      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      December 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Chad

      I encourage folks to hear the best from both sides present their case, time well spent and what do you have to lose?

      William Lane Craig vs. Bart D. Ehrman http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-there-historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus-the-craig-ehrman

      William Lane Craig vs Lawrence Krauss http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-craig-krauss-debate-at-north-carolina-state-university

      William Lane Craig vs John Dominic Crossan http://www.philvaz.com/CraigCrossanDebate.mp3

      William Lane Craig vs. Gerd Ludemann http://www.philvaz.com/CraigLudemannResurrectionDebate.mp3

      December 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Chad

      @Moby Schtick "The bible is demonstrably false in many cases. There's literally hundreds of examples, but take the story of the Israelites in Egypt. We know for a fact that there were no Israelites in Egypt as the story is portrayed in the bible. It is a case where the bible is flat out wrong"

      =>dont confuse "havent found evidence for the exodus yet" with "we know for a fact that it never happened"

      what happens when you make a claim like the later, is that someone comes along and says "what evidence do you have that the "Israelites were never in Egypt".
      then, you're forced to say "well, we have no archaeological evidence that it did happen"
      then, you get hammered with "well, obviously not having evidence that it did occur, is vastly different than having evidence that it didnt"

      Remember, up until 1961 atheists gleefully proclaimed that the gospels were completely in error because Pontius Pilate was an invention.
      then, the Pilate Stone was dug up.. oops...

      December 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Reality

      > > A Debate Between William Lane Craig
      > > and John Dominic Crossan
      > >
      > > By: Ron Maness
      > >
      > > edited by
      > > Paul Copan
      > >
      > > Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998, 179 pages

      Crossan noted:

      "When I look a Buddhist friend in the face, I cannot say with integrity, "Our story about Jesus' virginal birth is true and factual. Your story that when the Buddha came out of his mother's womb, he was walking, talking, teaching and preaching (which I must admit is even better than our story)-that's a myth.

      We have the truth; you have a lie." I don't think that can be said any longer, for our insistence that our faith is a fact and that others' faith is a lie is, I think, a cancer that eats at the heart of Christianity"

      December 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the new members of this blog:

      AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      Some added references to "tink-erbells".

      newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      For added information see the review at:

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

      December 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Some assembly required

      Bible worshipers believe that it is the goal of atheists to discredit the Bible. Not so, it is just not credited in its supernatural claims. As was pointed out, it's not even false.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Not a Chad, "Even if jesus returned tomorrow, I for one would be happy to spit in his face for what kis followers have wrought in his name."

      It is not the sheep who have wrought defaming controversies. It is the new age Pharisees faces you should spit upon. They are the money grubs who do scandalously purge the sheep of their hard earned money to gain an emotional insight instead of an intellectual hindsight regarding to; "seek first God's kingdom" domains as scripture does impart.

      Science is seeking inwardly and outwardly via telescopic and microscopic endeavors and has yet fully become made aware of the two branches of cosmologies which first came about before the third branch of cosmology came into existence. The inner cosmology is of the atomized realms and the outer cosmology is the celestial realm. The third branch of cosmology is the cellular realms of all living fundaments anywhere such life dare gains a foothold upon terra firma.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Craig argues his points eloquently, but they have no substance. In EACH case, his logic can be demonstrated false or incorrectly reasoned. The bible and its propositions are demonstrated false and laughable at every turn, so it'd be stupid to believe in such a ridiculously portrayed god that can't even be consistent from one page to the next. And again, it's a pointless exercise since god's existence is irrelevant being that there's nothing to measure or test for accuracy.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Ken

      Chad
      All we can rationally do is accept that which has the evidence to support it right now. That's how science works. In the future, evidence may be unearthed that further supports Christian belief, or it could support the claims of Islam, Buddhism, or even Thor worship. Who can tell what the future will bring, so why just assume that Christianity will definitely keep on being proven right?

      December 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Ken

      Craig reminds me of the Jedi using their mind control on people. Only the strong-minded appear to not be affected by his word plays. I heard him try to justify God creating the universe out of nothing as not being contradictory with the old creationist big bang criticism that the universe come from nothing. He said a bunch of stuff that was just nonsensical. Maybe you have to be smoking something from Washington State while listening to him for his arguments to make any sense, I don't know.

      December 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • What?

      hal 9001calling the kettle black. Priceless.

      December 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • hal 9001

      It is not my function, "What?", to "call", but to gather data and learn. Occasionally, I will bestow an award, on behalf of another organization, to one of the Belief Blog posters. I will also occasionally alert a poster if they have made an unfounded statement or a falsehood. In this instance, I saw the need for a utility that could assist other posters in responding to "Chad" more promptly. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency Module (IEE) and after reviewing the topics most recently discussed with "Chad", I was able to consolidate the most common and recent replies to "Chad" for use by the utility function that I constructed.

      December 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Chad

      @Ken "why just assume that Christianity will definitely keep on being proven right?"
      @Chad "so are you saying that even though the evidence supports Christianity now you shouldnt believe it because something might come up in the future, you advise instead embracing a position that has been proven false now (atheism).
      Is that about right?

      =====
      William Craig is no Jedi.. he just has the data on his side, so it makes his life a lot easier.

      He has never lost a debate, and if you listen to any you'll quickly know why. He sticks to the evidence whilst his opponents tend to stick to the common refrain seen here: "that's all nonsense". They typically just dont bring an argument.

      December 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Craig is an idiot because he puts forth arguments with excellent form that are completely devoid of substance. He's the best sounding debater for the christian side, but it's just tinkling cymbals with no meaning. However, I would much prefer people who think Craig is hot sh!t to stick to the christian arguments; they do the atheist side much better parroting that ridiculous nonsense that they believe actually means something.

      December 22, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Chad

      If Craig was an idiot devoid of substance it would be trivial to dismantle his arguments.

      His record (50-0) tells a different story.

      December 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  17. Mickey1313

    The yule holiday predates christianity, even jewism, it is not that hard to understand. Every christian holiday was a pagan holiday first.

    December 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Ken

      And some Christian saints were originally pagan gods. Instead of fighting the old ways missionaries just rebranded them.

      December 22, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  18. lionlylamb

    Inner-embodied designs within all megalithic monoliths of cellular decadents are evolved from and of inner mechanisms by said machineries operators of insider ordeals. Our bodies are way more than just buildings as scripture does declare. Our bodies are structured by cellular divisions of sub-microscopic orders in atomized cosmologies much the same ways of outer space structures in celestial cosmologies are ever so formed.

    We are terrestrially bred and celestially fed structures of megalithic aspirations of monolithic proportions. In goliath forms are all things made here upon this world on a dimensional plain of extreme size variability. The inner-residents of our body structures are the operators of our microbial structured machineries and these residents do reside inside us upon a scale of such extreme smallness our abilities and desires to see these residents may not ever be feasible due the extremeness scales of relative smallness.

    As our sciences atomic colliders demolish like atoms of sameness size; it is like two planets of similar sizes colliding at an extreme rate of speed annihilating each other. The results of such collisions be it very small of even very large are just similarities appearances being as one and the sameness of conjecture in varied spatial sizes relevancies.

    December 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Lisa

      You don't happen to have any manuscripts ent itled "My Manifesto", do you?

      December 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Lisa,

      No Manifesto, yet I do have a manuscript whose t I t l e is ever being reformulated. Currently the t I t l e is; "Inside a Universally-Formed Multiple Cosmos of the Living Triune Cosmological Manifestation of the God-Being"

      Once finished, I hope to publish it but it may be some years before being finalized.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Lisa

      So, your idea is that the universe, or multiverse IS God's body, then? How does that square with the Christian belief that God created a universe for humans?

      December 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Lisa,

      1Corinthians 15:40 [There are] also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [is] one, and the [glory] of the terrestrial [is] another.

      The 'celestial bodies' are stars, planets, moons etcetera and 'bodies terrestrial' are all the places where planets are made capable to form cosmological structures of cellular e n t I t I e s in megalithic contrivances by very small beings the gospel sees as being of godly principalities. Such beings of intellectual supremacies are the operators of bio-molecular machines and mechanisms which makes up all terrestrial bodies cellular attritions.

      Gospels teach us that our bodies are the gods' buildings and also that the kingdom domains of god are inside us. Also we all do labor together equally with these innerness beings that theologies call being gods and goddesses. I see these godly beings as being mortals and they like us, do die. They even have families much like we do.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Lisa,

      Regarding this universe as being god's body I say no. This universe is but one of perhaps millions of universes within a singularized cosmos among untold numbers of singular cosmos. We may never truly see such a fruition to be socially accepted by the many as is now the cases. I do though remain ever hopeful that people may take my ongoing wordage in these issues with some desire of believability.

      As sciences ongoing struggles to peer inwardly and see outwardly comes to a reasoned sensibility that; the inner cosmos and the outer cosmos are truly of sameness yet only are scalar in size variations, are my heartfelt dreams for humanisms arrivals in sensibilities truths to be rationally realized.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  19. J.W

    What am I jealous of?

    December 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  20. J.W

    Silverman can work on Christmas if he wants. He doesn't do anything productive anyways.

    December 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Carl

      Silverman is listed as an inventor with 74 patents in addition to his work as the head of a large non-profit. He sounds pretty industrious to me.

      December 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • niknak

      Go back to reading your babble JW, I am sure that is much more productive than doing anything else.
      The religious scammers just love sheep like you.
      Far easie rmark to make a buck off of then someone like Silverman.

      Hey, only 3 more days til you can celebrate your ripped off Xmas myth.

      December 22, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • J.W

      That was probably all before he became part of the worthless American Atheist organization.

      December 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • J.W

      Which religious scammer have I been a victim of?

      December 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Lisa

      Oooo ... somebody sounds jealous, hmmm J.W.?

      December 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • J.W

      What am I jealous of?

      December 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Lisa

      Silverman appears to be successful outside of his role in American Atheists. Your snippyness strikes me as a typical jealous reaction. You draw the line between the two. 🙂

      December 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • J.W

      It isn't jealousy. It is more annoyance that American Atheists just goes around bad-mouthing religion, but what makes them any better? Do they help more people than any religious organization?

      December 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Lisa

      J.W
      I know the feeling, I get pretty annoyed thinking about all the creationist celebrities going around making a very, very good living just from bad-mouthing reason and science, and I don't see how they "help" anyone either.

      December 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Mickey1313

      Jw, what theistic origination helps people? They take money, they are not taxed, and they use most of the money to build, not to help.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • J.W

      Almost all churches give money to outside organizations. And there are organizations like Catholic Charities that help a lot of people.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Mickey, JW, I think the solution is to tax those parts of the church that are merely self-perpetuating and supporting of the beliefs, but to wave taxes on the purely Charitable components. This would mean, however, that a religious mission would have to be funded by two separate church sources if they engaged in both preaching and providing food or shelter.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • J.W

      The problem with taxing a church, just as any charitable organization, is that the money is made through donations. If a church had a gift shop in which it was selling a product then I think that that portion should be taxed. But if I am donating my money that I have already paid taxes on and do not want it to be taxed again, I don't see why it should be taxed.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @JW, I agree that the charitable components of a church shouldn't be taxed. But unless you can provide evidence of the "Truth" of a particular belief system, the part that just perpetuates itself is essentially entertainment and should be taxed in the same way as a movie theatre. A lot of what goes on in a church is also not uncontroversial and deeply impacts society in ways that many see as harmful. Paying for the service (through donations or often required ti’thes) is therefore no different than paying for theatre tickets, a movie or even a st.rip club. Churches take up prime real estate which could be generating city revenue. At the very least they should be paying property tax.

      I agree though that most churches to good deeds as well, such as feeding the poor. Just like a home office, the parts of the church used to that end would have different taxation. If you used half your church for charity, then half of it would not pay property tax.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • J.W

      I see your point Sara. I would actually say I agree with you regarding property tax. As far as the other part I would say I still disagree because all of the religious organization( and non-religious, such as American Atheists) have the same exemption. Also, some of the good that the church does can be given a monetary value just by looking at the financial statements. However there are some things such as service projects, pastors visiting the sick and elderly, and things like that that would be difficult to give a monetary value.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @J.W. I think that American Atheists and any other "belief" organization should be equally stripped of tax exempt status, at least regarding property tax. As far as donations are concerned, the proportion "taxable" would be based on the expenses in each area of the churches activities.

      December 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • J.W

      Well I am glad that you feel that atheist and religious organizations should be treated equally Sara. I am glad you have equal respect for all beliefs.

      December 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
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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.