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General Discussion
The evidence for Jesus

Atheists, it is commonly claimed on the atheist experience that there is little evidence for Jesus' existence.

I will challenge this by proposing that i will eat a page of my bible if you can find one new testament scholar/ancient historian from a credible university that says that Jesus never existed.

I highly doubt your chances as most intelligent people will acknowledge his existence and the incredible amount of historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus

Robert Price made such a claim during the Jesus Seminars. See http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/

What historical evidence is there for the resurrection? The gospel accounts contradict each-other and they were all written so much later, they couldn't possibly be first person accounts. We don't even know their authorship. I don't know of any credible source outside the Bible that confirms the resurrection account. Do you?

However Don the questions you pose to me are not representative of the thoughts and beliefs of credited scholars and new testament professors. Very very few of them actually think that there is little historical evidence for the resurrection, they can explain any 'contradictions' which you see and they do see the gospels to be first person accounts. Find me these experts and then i will see value in your position

Don't you think a "professor" teaching at a seminary or religious institution would have a bit of a conflict of interest when it came to towing the party line on a core tenet of Christianity?

You and I are perfectly capable of examining the evidence ourselves for the resurrection if there were any. I'm asking you to read one of your cherished professors and present the argument here in your own words.

It's well known that the gospels are in conflict (http://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=stone). It's well known that the earliest one was written no earlier than 90 AD and could not be a first person account. Even if it were, it would still be a story with NO other basis.

Combine these with the fact that other EARLIER mythologies in Rome around the time of the invention of Christianity had their own resurrection stories, including Attis, Mithra, and Persephone. All of these resurrections have about the same amount of evidence for them: just stories. Are you saying yours is true and these are not?

We don't have to prove that an invisible God does not exist, but that is not the same thing as proving something about a historical human figure.

Not all of the Biblical scholars are believers many of them left the clergy after analyzing the evidence. Many modern archaeologists, scientists and Biblical scholars know there are no original New Testament documents. There is no evidence that Jesus ever existed. There are no sculptures or paintings of Jesus. There are no artifacts or writings by Jesus or his contemporaries. We have proof that a historical figure lived a hundred years before Jesus - Julius Caesar. We have Julius Caesar's own writings. We also have actual letters that were written to Caesar and letters that Caesar wrote. Contemporary historians wrote about the life of Caesar. However, the prodigy (child genius) Jesus never wrote a word. Jesus never wrote anyone a letter and we do not have any original documents written by his disciples or followers. Big surprise scholars are not being invited to churches and seminars to spread the "news."

The Gospels are the sole source of information about a historical Jesus. Everything that we know about Jesus and Christianity depends on that source. The Gospels claim Jesus delivered the Lord's Prayer during the Sermon on the Mount, but scholars have found that the Sermon on the Mount was written in the Dead Sea Scrolls at least 100 years before the alleged life of Jesus.

Scholars have found that verses and saying attributed to Jesus existed long before he was invented. Confucius 6th century BC Chinese sage and founder of Confucianism from the Analects "love thy neighbor as thyself. Do nothing to thy neighbor, which thou wouldst not have him do to thee hereafter". This saying was not original to the Gospels.

Unknown authors wrote the Gospels the names are only titles. Nobody knows when they were written or who wrote them.

In Matthew and Mark the Romans crucify Jesus, but in Luke and John it is the Jews who crucify him. Numbers 23:19 states that God is not a man. God was not born, and God certainly did not die. The 'Gospel' contradicts itself and the New Testament contradicts the Old Testament about God? Biblical scholars didn't notice?

A true scholarly account of actual historical events or a historical person refer to sources that trace to contemporary writing of the event or subject themselves, or to personal or eyewitness accounts. None of the Gospel writers give reliable sources to eyewitnesses; it's all hearsay. None of the Gospels existed during the alleged life of Jesus including those discovered at Nag Hammadi.

None of the original New Testament manuscripts exist today; we only have copies of copies. Scholars (people who study ancient documents) have concluded that much of Matthew was copied from Mark. Mark was written first. There is no reason to believe that there ever was a document Q. It has never materialized. Luke admits his writing is a retelling of earlier reports. He was not an eyewitness. The Gospel of John disagrees with events described in Mark, Matthew, and Luke. How is any of this proof?

Paul's letters are the oldest Christian texts, but they were not eyewitness accounts of the events or the life of Jesus. Paul never met an earthly Jesus. His letters were written long after the fact. Bible Scholars doubt that Paul wrote all of these letters. They believe he wrote some of them. Paul's sparse recounting of stories about Jesus come from other myths and his own imagination.

Someone named John or James wrote the epistles of John and James but who wrote these epistles. That is not known because those names were as common as dirt, and these writings are not eyewitness accounts.

Epistles of Peter: The author of these letters was very familiar with the language of the Greek Bible. There is an absence of influence from the language of the Hebrew Bible, and it is clear that the author was at home in Greek rather than Semitic culture, and that is not likely to have been the case with Simon Peter. Peter was supposedly a lowly fisherman, without a formal education. No uneducated person wrote that letter.

We know (even the Church) admits that there are vital records missing from the Council of Nicaea and that the documentation recording the true nature of the creation of Jesus Christ was later suppressed or destroyed. Bishop Eusebius the author of many lies said, "How it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine, and for the benefit of those who want to be deceived." Eusebius sat on the right of the emperor Constantine at that meeting, and under those conditions, two thousand bishops, priests; deacons came together to debate and decide what would be the one new religion. At that time there were many beliefs and gospels. There were numerous varieties of Eastern and Western divinities and beliefs. There were violent arguments between the bishops over inclusion of particular writings that promoted their god.

There are historical accounts that claim the assembly of men at Nicaea were illiterate, simple creatures who understood nothing. Dr Richard Watson, a disillusioned Christian historian and previously Bishop of Llandaff in Wales, referred to them as "a set of gibbering idiots". It was this useless body of men who were responsible for the new Roman religion.

Eusebius served as an ecclesiastical church historian and bishop, and he had great influence in the early Church. Eusebius openly advocated the use of fraud and deception in furthering the interests of the Church. The first mention of Jesus by Josephus came from Eusebius (none of the earlier church fathers mention Josephus' Jesus). Scholars have determined that Eusebius not Josephus was responsible for those writings. This is why Eusebius wrote, "how it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine, and for the benefit of those who want to be deceived."

There are no independent sources for the Gospel's Jesus that has not been absolutely discredited. Some Christians use brief portions of the Talmud, (a collection of Jewish civil a religious law, including commentaries on the Torah), as evidence for Jesus. They claim that Yeshu (a common name in Jewish literature) in the Talmud refers to Jesus. However, this Jesus, actually depicts a disciple of Jehoshua Ben-Perachia at least a century before the alleged Christian Jesus. The Palestinian Talmud was written between the 3rd and 5th century C.E., and the Babylonian Talmud between the 3rd and 6th century C.E., at least two centuries after the alleged crucifixion.

The Jesus story is a combo Christian - pagan legend; it is not evidence for a historical Jesus. Celsus pointed out the same flaws in the Christian cult that has been noted by scholars today. By burning anything that contradicted their books they silenced the critics, and started re-writing the past. This is why any claim that there had to have been a historical Jesus fails. A study of the true circumstances of Christianity's beginnings (although this is difficult) considering how much of their "heroic" past was burned and destroyed, reveals precisely the pattern expected if the Jesus religion was an offshoot from other existing religious myths.

It took political change and a lot of lying to institutionalize the Christian religion. There were no actual witnesses, contemporary followers or miraculous apostles. This new religion was designed to take out other competing religions. All the other religions died out or were destroyed - leaving our current orthodoxy.

"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!" - Pope Leo X 1513 -1521

To address your challenge - providing proof of our position:

Let me begin by saying that this is a crude attempt to shift the burden of proof, and it isn't even eloquently disguised. If someone states that something exists (in this case, Jesus), then it is THEIR responsibility to prove said existence. If i said that I own a Ferrari, despite the fact that Ferrari's are very real and tangible items, you would (rightfully) demand proof of ownership.

The party that makes the posit provides the evidence for something. It is NOT our job to disprove your claim, but your job to prove it.

To address your logical fallacies - Argumentum ad populum, and appeal to authority

Just because "most intelligent people" say, think, or do something (and yes, i noticed your weasel word in there) does not make it any more or less true. For many years, a good deal of people much smarter than ourselves believed that Zeus struck down people with lightning. For many years, a good deal of people much smarter than ourselves thought Ra drove the sun across the sky in a chariot. Does that make them correct as well?

In short - populism does not grant legitimacy.

Finally, your subtle (and when i say subtle, i actually mean not subtle at all) appeal to authority. You ask us to seek out a biased source to, in essence, confirm your assertion AFTER you shifted the burden of proof. Id say it was clever if you actually did that on purpose. Two things here:

1. Even if that source had ALL the answers and did indeed prove Jesus was a real person, that evidence would be widely available for EVERYONE. I would imagine that a guy literally returning from the dead would have mountains of proof and evidence (as opposed to some scrawling in ONE 3000 year old book) that a simple Google search could find. It wouldn't take a theologian to be able to figure it out.

2. All it would take is ONE shred of hard, concrete evidence to blow atheism out of the water forever. The fact that NO religion has produced any evidence of this sort whatsoever stacks the odds against any form of gods existing.

All you have done is come here, issued a challenge for US to go seeking out information for YOU. You haven't done any of the work, any of the searching, or any of the research to make a logical valid argument. You haven't provided any "evidence for Jesus" outside of the bench-stock material of logical fallacies and burden shifting.

First of all for all the logically naive, the burden of proof is anyone making a claim, that is assertion, proposition, etc... Even atheists have a burden of proof, yet they try to shirk when ever they can. Even the hosts of the TAE do this by claiming that atheism is a "lack of belief". What nonsense. Proof is sometimes used synonymously as evidence, for example how Catholics use faith like belief. So, if you mean certainty, then you need to be more specific. The Gospels are evidence of the existence of a man from Nazareth named Jesus. So, if evidence is the same thing as proof, then Darren it has been proven. Whether you belief that Jesus existed is inconsequential. What you believe does not matter, because the man existed regardless of what you think. There is no fallacious reasoning here. You mention an appeal to authority. Are you irrational or inconsistent? I would give you another option to be fair and logical, but I think these two options suffice. Scientists are the only people allowed to form a consensus on a topic? If we were talking about evolution you would be waxing on about the consensus of scientific opinion. Hypocrite-- that is the other category I'll grant you. Also, get a dictionary, because your use of populism is flawed. What is your "proof" that Socrates existed? How about Heraclites? Or, what about Timur? Also, you confuse the existence of Jesus with making the claim God exists. I do not think theism is being argued here. Jesus existed, but that does not prove theism or atheism nor does it disprove them. Perhaps you should get your info straight before making assertions that you have no evidence for. Just a thought from a theist. I would hate to think for you.

Back again beating that dead horse of trying to define the word the way you want.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism

a·the·ism noun 1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God. 2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Thank you Don for providing me evidence that you do not pay attention. I am not the one defining the word the way I want. That would be you genius. Thank you for for the definition that shows you to be wrong. You say atheism is a lack of belief, then you cite it as a belief. You are not very consistent are you? By the way, I am not sure how old you are, but your sarcasm and attempt at wit is pathetic.

Perhaps you should try reading the second definition.

Fool

Hello TheistX,

1) I live in Austria - here, we have an alternative expression for atheism and that is 'free of belief'. To me, that describes much better my world-view and it does not place a negatively connotated label on people.

2) I am not quite sure, why you are pointing at atheism having also a burden of proof. Does this weaken Darren's arguments? Did Darren make an unsupported claim? So the whole thing looks like a strawman.

3) And your 'What is your "proof" that Socrates existed?' is another strawman. The fact that someone can't give proof/evidence for X does not free others from giving proof/evidence for Y.

4) Your 'Scientists are the only people allowed to form a consensus on a topic?' sounds like, you envied scientists or you were afraid of a conspiracy of the Evil. If you have new insights or access to scientific knowledge in the field of evolution let us know it. I am sure the scientific community will take it under scrutiny.

5) Later in your comment you are stating 'I do not think theism is being argued here'. May be you missed some lines in Simone's comment, but she was speaking of 'incredible amount of historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus'. So I'd be interested, how you came to the notion that this discussion is just about evidence for the existence of a common human being called Jesus.

TheistX said, "First of all for all the logically naive, the burden of proof is anyone making a claim, that is assertion, proposition, etc... Even atheists have a burden of proof, yet they try to shirk when ever they can. Even the hosts of the TAE do this by claiming that atheism is a "lack of belief"."

Atheism is the absence of belief - I don't believe your assertion - now the ball is in your court - and you can't prove a thing.

TheistX said, "What nonsense. Proof is sometimes used synonymously as evidence, for example how Catholics use faith like belief. So, if you mean certainty, then you need to be more specific."

You need to learn how to convey your thoughts with some explanatory remarks. What the hell are you talking about Catholics use faith like belief? All religious belief is based on faith alone - there is no proof of any god/gods existence. All of it is based on hearsay and "personal" experiences.

TheistX said, "The Gospels are evidence of the existence of a man from Nazareth named Jesus. So, if evidence is the same thing as proof, then Darren it has been proven. Whether you belief that Jesus existed is inconsequential. What you believe does not matter, because the man existed regardless of what you think. There is no fallacious reasoning here.

There are no references to a historical Jesus by any known contemporary historian. There exists no documents from the ancient world by witnesses or followers stating that Jesus had risen from the dead. No literate person in the time period, which Jesus supposedly lived in, mentioned him in any known writing. All of the documents about the alleged Jesus came well after his supposed death. The Gospels are writings from unknown authors, and the names assigned them are just titles. They could not serve as historical evidence for a historical Jesus, because they are hearsay accounts. They were not written in Jesus' lifetime. There exist no contemporary record of Jesus; no evidence of a City called Nazareth in the 1st century, and originally there was no belief in a human Jesus. The Gospels contradict each other; and there is plenty of evidence that the Jesus myth was copied from existing earlier myths. The miracle working savior god who is betrayed and then crucified was part of pagan religions of the time.

Celsus pointed out the Pagan myths that the Jesus myth was copied from. However, some of the stories came from misinterpretations of Hebrew words. For example, Nazareth was not the name of a place; Notzri was the name of a social reform group. In the fourth century the Emperor Constantine, due to efforts of his mother St. Helena, started looking for the city of Nazareth in Palestine to build a basilica, when it wasn't found they just named a village that already existed Nazareth. There is not a shred of evidence for a city named Nazareth in the period of the alleged Jesus (the city named Nazareth after Jesus supposed lifetime).

In the Gospel of Mark Jesus is referred to as the son of Mary, a description reserved for the illegitimate. There is no miracle birth and he only says Jesus came from Nazareth, a misinterpretation of the word Notzri. Whoever wrote the book titled Mark obviously had read that Jesus was a Notzri but didn't know what it meant. There is no mention in Mark of a virgin birth. This is because at the time the book titled Mark was written these myths had not existed. Whoever wrote Matthew incorporated many of Mark's myths and added on a few. The objective of Matthew was to make Jesus into the promised Messiah of the Jews, but his genealogy conflicts with the one in the Old Testament. Luke's gospel was written to explain the new religion to the Gentiles. These pathetic obvious dubious Gospels were canonized in spite of protests from many bishops. TheistX said, "You mention an appeal to authority. Are you irrational or inconsistent? I would give you another option to be fair and logical, but I think these two options suffice. Scientists are the only people allowed to form a consensus on a topic?

Ancient historians look for evidence (writings, sculptures, artifacts and dwellings) any archaeological discovery. Unbiased scholars who have look for the evidence have found nothing to prove anything written in the Gospels. They find there is insufficient justification to assume the Gospel stories true - the Gospels are nothing more than layers of myths.

TheistX said, "If we were talking about evolution you would be waxing on about the consensus of scientific opinion. Hypocrite-- that is the other category I'll grant you. Also, get a dictionary, because your use of populism is flawed.

You need facts to support any theory. The fact that evolution occurs is indisputable. The Theory of Evolution (evolution is a fact because it has been observed many times) and evolution is the basis for all biology.

Creation science or intelligent design isn't science (that's the consensus of scientists) because there are no Creation Science theories. Creation science or intelligent design is religion masquerading as science, and that is what the court decided in Dover Pennsylvania.

TheistX said, "What is your "proof" that Socrates existed? How about Heraclites? Or, what about Timur? Also, you confuse the existence of Jesus with making the claim God exists. I do not think theism is being argued here. Jesus existed, but that does not prove theism or atheism nor does it disprove them. Perhaps you should get your info straight before making assertions that you have no evidence for. Just a thought from a theist. I would hate to think for you."

It seems to me that you hate to think period! There is nobody insisting that people should believe anything if they decide that there is insufficient evidence. They will not burn in hell forever - that's the difference.

While I may not be able to come up with conclusive, bible-eating proof, we can progress beyond the traditional binary proof/no proof viewpoints by applying the scientific method and statistics.

Based on the Drake equation for calculating the probability of existence of extra-terrestrial civilisations, I have come up with the Jesus Toast equation:

J = Jt / (L * S * T) = Probability that Jesus exists through toast revelation. where: L = number of loaves sold in the USA per year S = Average number of slices of bread per loaf T = Average % of slices of bread in a loaf that are toasted Jt = Number of apparitions of Jesus on a slice of toast in a year.

The closer J is to 0, the less likely a supernatural Jesus existed. The closer J is to 1, the more likely he did exist. Let's run the numbers for 2011:

Jt = 3, L = 1,272,000,000, S = 19, T = 37% (all of these values have been thoroughly researched or empirically plucked out of thin air - whichever was easier).

... gives us a J value of 0.000000000033549 (i.e. virtually zero)

It was this extremely low probability value, and a switch from toasted bread to bagels, that ultimately led me to lose faith in the existence of a supernatural Jesus and hence Christianity.

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