Sunday, 6 November 2011

Jesus Is Risen - And Pigs Can Fly!

As though the idea of Jesus being born specially to saved us from his father's anger with a blood sacrifice isn't bizarre enough, Christians would have us believe that his death was only for a few days and that he rose again, ascended into Heaven and is still alive to this day. One wonders what the point of dying in the first place was, but enough has probably been said on that already.

Let's now look at the rose again and ascended into Heaven part.

The evidence for this is to be found where? You've guessed it; in the Bible which was written by people who wanted you to believe Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and is still alive. No other evidence exists outside the Bible and no contemporaneous written accounts of it appear anywhere in any records or any non-biblical sources what so ever.

The accounts in the first four books of the New Testament of the Christian Bible is all there is. Now, Christians would have you believe they were all written by eye-witnesses to the events who were close associates of Jesus. Of course, they offer no evidence to support this at all. We are expected to take it on faith.

Basically, the entire thing hangs on two alleged events:
  • Jesus' tomb being found to be empty.
  • Jesus appearing to some of his followers soon afterwards, then going bodily up to Heaven.

So, lets look at the four accounts:

Matthew 28:1-20. Mary Magdalene and 'the other' Mary arrive at the tomb and an earthquake occurs. Then an angel appears and rolls back the stone from the mouth of the tomb and sits upon it. The keepers (i.e. the guards who had been placed there to make sure the body wasn't stolen) 'became like dead men'.

The angel says that Jesus has risen and takes them to see where he had been. He then tells them to go and tell the disciples. On the way Jesus appears and tells them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee where they will meet him.

The 'keepers' are then bribed by their officers to say they fell asleep but none-the-less somehow saw Jesus' followers come and steal the body. (We are not told if anyone believed this idiotically implausible story, nor are we told how Matthew knew about the secret bribe).

All eleven of Jesus' disciples then go to Galilee and meet Jesus on a mountain.

Matthew says nothing about Jesus ascending to Heaven.

Mark 16:1-20. Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James and Salome go to the tomb but this time the stone has already been rolled back. There is no earthquake and no angel sitting upon the rolled-back stone. Instead they find a young man sitting inside the tomb. He tells them Jesus is not there but has risen. He then tells them to go and tell the disciples, and Peter, what has happened and to make their way to Galilee where they would meet Jesus.

However, the women were afraid and fled and said nothing to anyone. We are not told how Mark then knew this.

Jesus then appeared to Mary Magdalene, but when she told the disciples, they didn't believe her. He then appeared to two of the disciples as they walked in the country. They told the others but still no one believed them.

Afterwards, Jesus appeared to all eleven in a room and told them they were to go and preach and all those who believed them could cast out devils, speak new languages, handle serpents, drink poison with impunity and heal the sick just by touching them.

Jesus then goes to Heaven but we are not told how, when, who witnessed it or how Mark came to know about it.

Luke 24:1-53. Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the Mother of James (and maybe other women; it's not clear) go to the tomb and find it open and empty. Two men appear standing near to them. They tell the women that Jesus has risen.

The women then go and tell the eleven disciples but they don't believe them, so Peter goes to check. Peter wonders what has happened.

Two men then go to Emmaus, about 7.5 miles from Jerusalem - we aren't told why - and there Jesus appears but they didn't recognise him! He then spent all day with them and had a meal. Suddenly they recognised him and he vanished. They then go back to Jerusalem and tell the eleven disciples that Jesus had appeared to Simon!

Jesus then appears and they give him some fish and honeycomb. He then takes them to Bethany and ascends to Heaven.

John 20:1 - 21:25. Mary Magdalene went alone to the tomb. It was open so she ran to get Simon Peter and 'the other disciple who Jesus loved' and they ran back to the tomb, Peter arriving last. Then the disciples went home and left Mary Magdalene alone at the tomb. When she looked in she saw two angels sitting down. Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there but didn't recognise him. Then she recognised him but wasn't allowed to touch him.

Jesus tells Mary to go and tell the disciples that he is going to ascend to Heaven. That evening, in a closed room, Jesus appears to all the disciples except Thomas Didymus. Thomas doesn't believe them so after eight days, Jesus appears again and convinces Thomas.

Jesus then appears a couple more times during which he helps them catch some fish.

After that, John seems to get bored with the tale and finishes it like a schoolboy ending a bad essay with "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." No mention of ascending to heaven.

So, those are the four 'witness' statements. Imagine a District Attorney or Counsel for the Prosecution presenting four 'eye-witness' statements as confused as these before a court and expecting to get a conviction.

They can't agree whether the tomb was open or closed when the women arrived, how many women there were, how many angels there were, whether the angels were inside or outside the tomb, whether they were standing up or sitting down, who said what to whom and whether Jesus appeared to them and told them to go tell the others, or whether an angel did. They can't agree on who told whom and whether the women actually told anyone or not. And we're expected to believe that, according to one account, the women told no one, being too afraid, yet somehow someone else was able to relate what they witnessed.

The 'eye-witnesses' who were supposedly amongst the eleven disciples, can't agree on whether they went to Galilee to meet Jesus or whether he appeared amongst them in a room in Jerusalem. Two of the eleven appear to have been in Emmaus with Jesus all day but didn't recognise him, yet others say all eleven went to Galilee. Another account has all eleven together in the room in Jerusalem but one says Thomas was missing. Two accounts say nothing about Jesus ascending to Heaven, another places it in Bethany a few days after the alleged resurrection, and the third mentions it in passing but doesn't say where it happened. Nor can they agree on how long it was before Jesus ascended. John has him hanging around long enough to work all manner of miracles - enough to fill more books than the world could contain, apparently, and never does get to the actual ascension. None of the others, just like contemporaneous historians, seemed to have noticed all these additional miracles.

And these confused, contradictory, highly embroidered, and quite obviously not eye-witness accounts are what the entire Christian faith hangs on.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. I put it to you that these statements are merely hear-say at best and cannot possibly be the statements of eye-witnesses to the same events. The claim that they are so is a lie beyond any shadow of a doubt. They cannot even agree amongst themselves which town they were in at the time. I put it to you that the entire evidence from these witnesses should be dismissed as the evidence of liars and scoundrels.

I put it to you that, since these statements are the only evidence offered, there is no case to answer.

No wonder such a huge store is placed on believing by 'faith' and not looking too closely, if at all, at the 'evidence'. No wonder the church portrays questioning this 'evidence', and not merely being gullible enough to accept it without question, as some sort of character weakness.




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20 comments :

  1. You hit the target perfectly, Rosa :)

    Stacey_Dixon

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  2. This blog would make a great sermon one Sunday for the faithful. We would need to bring a defibrillator for the more mature members of the congregation. Brilliant as always, Rosa.

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  3. So, the baby jesus organised some fish and honeycomb for the folks after his return to this mortal coil. That's a better deal than what's on offer these days at McJesus everywhere, you know the wine and cracker menu. Small serves too. At lest with fish and honeycomb, you can follow one course with sweets which is an always better way to finish a meal or a small snack. They might want to change the "body 'n blood" of the baby jesus bit though, that's a bit of a turn off as for most people, the thought of nibbling and sipping flesh and fluid from another human is just bit sick. Good luck with the new menu.

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  4. Talking of resurrection: Before Jesus was risen more wonderful things happened. When Jesus died on the cross we can read about an amazingly thrilling event in Mt 27:50-54 (King James Version):

    50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

    Looks like rising from the dead was not so uncommon in those days. But the faithful Jesus is God-believers and pundits can explain even those verses, see: http://sabdiscussionboard.yuku.com/topic/1260#.ULvGJ-TxZVM .

    It's so easy to explain contradictory Bible verses if you don't care a bit about logic and scientific reasoning. Theological reasoning is always full of bullshit. So why would it be otherwise just here? *rhetorical question*

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  5. Hi Rosa,

    I really got your brilliancy from this post regarding Jesus! We all know the many people don't go through the scriptures in fact some doesn't want to do it because of their business. They listen to others and follow. I think, if everyone goes through the scriptures then it'll be really easy for all to understand the right things the way you have put here.

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  6. Hi Rosa- I would like to commend you on referencing scripture in your analysis of what happened to Jesus. I would like to point out that the way you interpret each of the Gospel stories is filled with a post enlightenment bias. I would not agree with your interpretation of your sited passages. The way each Gospel is told is to reveal a specific theological idea to a specific audience as opposed to portraying history as developed after the 1800's. I would recommend that you read scholars who work from the original language to get a better understanding of why each of these authors told the stories in the manner that they did- writing at different times in different parts of the empire. sljwatts

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    1. Guess I made the mistake of looking at the words and taking them to mean what they say. What I should have done was to decide what they should mean before reading them, then assume that's what they must mean, regardless of what the words actually were.

      Obviously, this reading the Bible so you can dismiss the errors and contradictions and tell yourself it is inerrant and must have come directly from an omniscient god because it always agrees with you, takes a great deal of skill.

      What I'm still puzzled about though, is why you bother opening it at all.

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  7. Hey Rosa- No you should not decide what these stories should mean before reading them and then assume that's what they must mean. What fun is that? It takes all the joy of exploration out of reading a good book. Good reading of scripture is done with an understanding that you are engaging a foreign culture- written in a different language that sometimes does not translate from one language to another easily, a different philosophy of life- i.e. ancient Greek philosophy and ancient Hebrew understandings as well as a culture that is learning how to treat people they don't recognize as equals such as women and slaves. Have you ever thought about the people we don't understand are equals today- not the ones we know we mistreat? But the ones we are totally unaware of mistreating? Those are some of the thoughts that come to me as I read the Bible.
    The way one tells a story changes throughout time. These stories were never meant to stand up to post enlightenment analysis. They are meant to raise questions and to encourage one to think about the messages or ideas they portray.
    Jonah, for example, is a wonderful comedic story. Everyone likes to focus on the whale, but the story for me is one of being asked to save your enemy. Jonah, a Jew, is asked to give the civilization that is trying to destroy Israel a chance to survive. He doesn't want to do it and tries not to, but he that gets foiled by the fish deal... (you can hear the laughter as the whale vomits Jonah on the beach) and after being the worse prophet in history by going into the city and practically whispering the repent message- he goes up on a hill and sits there wishing his enemies would die. God gives him a silly weed to make him comfortable by giving him shade. Then the weed dies. God uses this to point out to Jonah his lack of compassion for people in the city. Jonah is whining about his lack of shade caring for a weed over the families with real lives below. What a hoot of a story.
    You don't have to believe in God to understand that loving you enemy is sometimes hard, but the right thing to do. Too bad this form of caring has not penetrated the world.
    Why do I open this book? I find numerous stories that talk about goodness and compassion. They challenge me to think. Our ancestors told stories that have a truth that can still speak to modern man.sljwatts

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    1. You can get that from any book of fairy tales without having to embarrass yourself by suspending critical thinking and pretending the stories are real in spite of the self-evident fact that they can't all be.

      By the way, maybe you didn't notice but the blog said nothing at all about Jonah or whales.

      >You don't have to believe in God to understand that loving you enemy is sometimes hard, but the right thing to do. <

      Strange then that most of the Old Testament is about killing enemies and even Jesus tells his followers to kill his enemies (Luke 19:27). Maybe you were reading a different book of fairly tales after all.

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  8. I don't believe all the stories are "real" I believe they are meant to make you think. I do believe some are real, but books like Jonah and Job are stories with a message, just as Greek dramas give a message. I do not feel embarrassed at all that I analyze writings with the thought of the time they are written. One of my projects from the time I was very young was to recreate certain time periods. For example Tudor England where I read the writings of scholars of that time, look at the art of that time as I read the literature and history. It helps you to keep from inflicting the thought of your times on a past.
    I am aware that the blog is not about Jonah and the Old Testament, but I was answering your question about why I read the Bible. I read the Bible because it makes me think and gives me lessons that are good ones to live by. Does scripture describe a world that is perfect? Absolutely not, it describes families that are dysfunctional, it describes times when war has destroyed civilization and it left people who were raw and hurt. Instead of hiding these base feelings, they put them in writing, as well as their desire to be a great kingdom which when you read a bit farther did not really work out for them.
    Luke 19:27- thank you for this reference. This again, is not part of the "real" parts of the Bible, it is a parable that teaches through metaphor- but I bet you knew that. sljwatts

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    1. So all the stories about a god telling us to kill naughty children, rape victims and people who eat shellfish and wear mixed-fibre clothing are just to make us think, eh?

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    2. What references are you referring to? sljwatts

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    3. I'm surprised you were unaware of the contents of the book you are telling people you read. Maybe that explains your comments about it.

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  9. Scripture has a repetitive nature where information is restated with through different theological lens as people from different times and different civilizations reflect on this material. I can be much clearer in my comments if I know what you are quoting. But if you are unaware of where you are quoting, I can give you some references and we can see if they are close to what you are referring. sljwatts

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    1. Do you think calling writing 'scripture' gives it a special magical quality or is it just a traditional devise which you've found works on gullible people?

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  10. Scripture is a synonym for writings in the Bible.
    The Bible is a vast library of Books written over many thousands of years. It is poetry, fiction, comedy, laws, parable, an ancient understanding of how to write history, and an infusion of ideas into the culture of mankind. Much of it's message is done with metaphor, which is the connection of two dissonant words that when put together create thought.
    I started this discussion to talk with an intelligent woman who had something to offer the world, but I find that this discussion is nothing more than a time for you to hurt and abuse others. I am so sorry because I had hopes of some thing more. I am not here to convert you and am not here to make you read something you don't want to read. I am thus stopping this discussion and I am sorry we couldn't get to a place above the desire to "get someone." I wish you well Rosa and hope that you find some peace in the world. May your life be well and bring you happiness. sljwatts

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    1. Scripture means writing.

      The title of the book it is written in does nothing to convey any additional magical quality to the words or to make what they say into reality.

      You may want to check a dictionary rather than making up definitions to suit your argument. You could do the same for the word 'metaphor' so you can use the correct meaning in future.

      I find discussions easier to conduct if we stick to commonly accepted meanings of words. I don't know about you.

      Thank your for your closing smug condescension. It illustrates neatly what religion is used for by people who aren't too bothered about truth.

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  11. I understand where Anonymous is coming from about how he (or she) reads the myth stories of the Bible. They are culturally fascinating and important to know because of their impact on Western Culture. It is the same reason why we should read or have knowledge of the works of Shakespeare. Anonymous indicates that he (or she) reads the Bible myth stories as allegory or metaphor that teaches a moral lesson and is not meant to be taken literally. In the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment Eras we view the Bible from a much different perspective thanks to the critical analysis of the text and of the history of how it came into existence and evolved over the centuries. When reading these NT stories in the context of 1st century Judaea and the messianic expectations of many Jews in that time these stories make much more sense. Note that this has absolutely no relevance to the veracity of the different, conflicting accounts of Jesus of Nazareth or of the resurrected Christ. As a Historian I understand these are myth stories meant to tell a specifically Jewish view of their world at that time. With the embarrassing problem of the Delayed Paraousia the early church had to reinterpret and change their myth story to reflect the reality that the Son of God did not return as promised to inaugurate the Kingdom of God on earth. We can appreciate the stories of the Bible like we do the works of Shakespeare. The problem comes in when adherents to the Christian faith insist that the Bible is more than just a book of great literature and myth stories. When supernatural claims are made for the Bible they fail the tests of history, of critical thought, of science and of reality. We should read the Bible like Aesop's Fables and place as much authority in them as we do other cultural folklore and fairy tales. Anonymous didn't make it clear if he (or she) read the Bible as folklore literature or as the divinely inspired text of the Judeo-Christian god.

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    1. In fact, grafting a legendary god onto the Jewish 'Messiah' tradition renders it absurd and distinctly non-Jewish (which may well explain 'Matthews' ludicrous attempts to make Jesus look like the fulfilment of Jewish prophesy). The Jewish Messiah would never have been presented as a god as he was only ever going to be a specially chosen human. This is probably also why Paul abandoned any pretence that Christians needed to be Jews and to comply with all the Laws of Moses, and was at pains to point out the non-Jewish nature of the sect he was promoting.

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