Thursday, 29 December 2011

Jesus - History or Hoax?

This blog is derived from a Tweetlonger tweet by @dawkinsassange in reply to @tndan who cited Christianity: HOAX OR HISTORY by Josh McDowell as 'proof' of the historicity of Jesus.

I reproduce it here as a refutation of that book and of the many fallacious and inaccurate claims contained in it.

My thanks to @dawkinsassange for permission to reproduce it.

Pgs. 38-39 Appeal to Authority fallacy. Answered in this link.

Pgs. 40-41 No contemporary evidence of Apostles (earliest 150 AD)

Pgs. 41-44 Guilt by association fallacy & faulty analogy. The Watergate conspirators were not being promised eternal rewards in heaven. If these martyrs existed, I have no doubt they BELIEVED, which is irrelevant to actual events.

Pgs. 45-46 Appeal to Authority fallacy

Pg. 47 "Strong evidence that the NT written at an early date" not supported in text. Only assertions.

Pg. 48 "Oral tradition not long enough.." Proof? Evidence?

Pgs. 49-51 So there's no originals. Therefore unknown numbers of errors.

Pgs. 52-54 Much of the NT was admitted to be hearsay. The writer of Mark's confusion with Palestinian geography is circumstantial evidence that Mark wasn't there.

Pgs. 54-55 The contradictions between NT writers indicate lies.

Pgs. 55-58 An alternative explanation that doesn't include miracles is that it is all legendary.

Pgs. 58-59 Writers a hundred years after the event don't add a lot to historicity. In fact, there were many contemporary writers who never attested to Jesus.

Pgs. 59-60 Luke doesn't agree with Josephus.

Pg. 60 "One test of a writer is consistency" Agreed. Luke fails.

Pgs. 61-62 The same standard must be set to the Bible as other secular literature. No. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Otherwise it must be treated the same as other ancient records of legends such as Hercules.

Pgs. 62-63 Criterion of embarrassment argument. Limited in application and not proof that the event happened as described. May be used to fit writer's theology.

Pgs. 65-69 I felt the same joy when released from indoctrination.

Pgs. 73-79 Preaching and selling stuff.

Pgs. 81-83 Disagree. Bible is consistent only in it's inconsistency. It shows every indication of being written by ancient superstitious people.

Podcasts by Peter Coote (@cootey59) also dealing with this may be heard here.

Hoax or History? I vote Hoax

[Yet to be added: Josh McDowell's reply.]

[Further update: despite repeated invitations spread over several weeks, Josh McDowell failed to reply or even acknowledge the invitations.]

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  1. The Abrahamic myth does not get a free pass any longer. Just because it's the most popular myth, that doesn't mean it gets to pretend reality. If no one (jewish, muslim, or christian) who believes this myth can prove its validity, it does not get the benefit of the doubt. Why should anyone believe something that can't be proved?

  2. I want to recommend this article which analyzes the same topic: .

    A blogger called Ben Goren asks six questions concerning the historicity of the biblical Jesus. He challenges all Jesus is God-believers and wants them to answer those six questions.

    So far I've seen only one blogger, Neil Godfrey, a skeptic, taking up Ben Goren's Jesus Challenge. See: . He summarizes his views in the following way: "None of this “disproves” that there was a historical Jesus. But it does render any such historical person irrelevant to the formation of Christianity until further evidence or research tells us otherwise."

    To be continued... (see the next comment)

  3. Ben Goren himself answers the six questions by making the case for Jesus’s mythical nature. I quote:

    1) Jesus is a syncretic Pagan death / rebirth / salvation demigod in the mold of Osiris, Dionysus, and Mithras grafted onto Judaism.

    2) Justin Martyr, the very first of the Christian apologists writing in the early second century, devotes much of his First Apology to exactly this thesis. Indeed, once you eliminate all the prior parallels that he unambiguously identifies from Jesus’s biography, nothing else remains. Further, Lucian of Samosata describes “Peregrinus” as having been a con artist who interpolated Pagan religion wholesale into the nascent Christianity — and Paul’s introduction of the Mithraic (as identified by Justin Martyr) Eucharist into Christianity in 1 Corinthians 11 is a perfect example of this in practice, especially in the full context of the chapter.

    3) Justin Martyr’s explanation for the extensive imitation (his word) is that evil daemons with the power of foresight knew Jesus was coming and so planted false stories of Pagan demigods centuries in advance in order to lead honest men astray. His identification of the Pagan elements of Jesus’s story stand on their own; I do not think it much of a stretch to discount his supernatural explanation for the cross-contamination.

    4) At least superficially, the Gospels purport to be honest reporting of Jesus and his ministry as the God’s honest Capital-T Truth. However, again as described by Justin Martyr, they are nothing more than fantastic faery tales imitating well-known Pagan myths. The Gospel according to Matthew, for example, doesn’t merely report that Jesus died on the cross; in the same passage, he claims that the Sun was blotted out, the Earth shook, and all the graves opened and an horde of zombies descended upon Jerusalem. As such, even if the author sincerely believed he was honestly reporting factual history, the death reported clearly is not that of a mere mortal nor an historical figure. Such is the case for all other Gospel stories; the mundane events are an afterthought that only serve as insignificant vessels for the spectacular pyrotechnics. Concluding historicity from them is like concluding that Luke Skywalker was an historical figure because he grew up as an orphan on a farm.

    5) Jesus wasn’t noticed by his contemporaries because he hadn’t yet been invented — or, at least, he was just starting to be invented. The Pauline Epistles represent an early stage in that process when Jesus was more divine spirit than human interloper; the Gospels represent the point at which the Church later decided development was complete. (And the Angel Moroni represents Smith’s continued development.)

    6) What I propose of Jesus is no different from what virtually everybody would agree is true of all the Pagan demigods Justin Martyr identifies with Jesus — Bacchus, Perseus, Bellerophon on Pegasus, Mercury, Mithras, and all the rest. Examples of entirely mythical gods are legion in antiquity. We see the same pattern continue into modernity; Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard were historical figures, but the angel Moroni and Xenu are purest fiction. Similarly, the various authors of the New Testament texts were real humans, but the “stone soup” Jesus they collectively created over the course of a few generations is not.

    (End of quote)

    I just wonder: Why are the Jesus is God-believers so silent on this issue? Are they shy? Or do they, at heart, know - or at least suspect - that their answers mostly are full of wishful thinking instead of meeting scientific standards?


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