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Debate An Atheist Historian on the Historicity of Jesus

Discussion in 'Religious Issues' started by Paul7, May 18, 2017.

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  1. Paul7

    Paul7

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    Will Durant wrote the following statement in The Story of Civilization, Vol III: Caesar and Christ.

    “The Christian evidence for Christ begins with the letters ascribed to Saint Paul. Some of these are of uncertain authorship; several, antedating A.D. 64, are almost universally accounted as substantially genuine. No one has questioned the existence of Paul, or his repeated meetings with Peter, James, and John; and Paul enviously admits that these men had known Christ in his flesh. The accepted epistles frequently refer to the Last Supper and the Crucifixion…. The contradictions are of minutiae, not substance; in essentials the synoptic gospels agree remarkably well, and form a consistent portrait of Christ. In the enthusiasm of its discoveries the Higher Criticism has applied to the New Testament tests of authenticity so severe that by them a hundred ancient worthies, for example Hammurabi, David, Socrates would fade into legend. Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the evangelists, they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom, their flight after Jesus’ arrest, Peter’s denial, the failure of Christ to work miracles in Galilee, the references of some auditors to his possible insanity, his early uncertainty as to his mission, his confessions of ignorance as to the future, his moments of bitterness, his despairing cry on the cross; no one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so loft an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospel. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of the life, character, and teaching of Christ, remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature of the history of Western man.”
     
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  2. Japle

    Japle John, Viera, Fl

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    “The contradictions are of minutiae, not substance; in essentials the synoptic gospels agree remarkably well.”

    Really?
    Read all four accounts of Jesus’ death and notice the differences.
    Was Jesus crucified the day before the Passover meal was eaten or the day after?
    Was Jesus crucified in the morning or the afternoon?
    Did Jesus carry his cross or did Simon carry it?
    Did both robbers mock Jesus or did one mock him and one defend him?
    Did the curtain in the temple rip before or after he died?
    Who went to the tomb on the third day? Was it Mary alone, Mary with other women, how many women and what were their names?
    Was the stone rolled away before they got to the tomb or not?
    When they got to the tomb, did they see one man or two men or one angel?
    Did the women tell anybody or were they silent?
    Did they tell the disciples to stay in Jerusalem or to go to Galilee?
    Did the disciples never leave Jerusalem or did they go to Galilee?

    The answers to those questions depends on which Gospel you read. The Gospels are certainly not reliable historical sources.

    “That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so loft an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospel.”

    So, Odysseus was real, too?

    I’m not questioning Jesus’s reality. Sure, he existed. But tales of the supernatural aspects of his life can’t be trusted.
     
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  3. Geko45

    Geko45 Smartass Pilot CLM

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    "I find in the Universe so many forms of order, organization, system, law and adjustment of means to ends, that I believe in a cosmic intelligence and I conceive God as the life, mind, order and law of the world."
    - Will Durant
     
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  4. Paul7

    Paul7

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    I think I already said he wasn't a Christian.
     
  5. Paul7

    Paul7

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    Nonsense, first of all, some of what you list aren't discrepancies. If one author describes one person at an event and another two, both can be right. What we see in the Gospels are what we see in modern court testimony, agreement on the big picture and minor differences on the rest. No two witnesses to Lincoln's killing at Ford's theater had the exact same account, the same could be said for differences in accounts of other undisputed historical events. And if the Gospels were a fabrication, why have ANY differences?

    Does anyone say he is? Durant's example compared the historicity of Jesus with other accepted other historical figures, and pointed out the skeptics double standard when it comes to Jesus.

    This thread isn't about the supernatural events, but His historicity, which some skeptics on GTRI doubt.
     
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  6. powernoodle

    powernoodle

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    Of course they are reliable, and each of your purported contradictions is easily addressed. Were the Gospel writers to give identical accounts - thereby eliminating what you claim are contradictions - you would surely allege collusion or plagiarism. As they are not collusive, you allege discrepancies. So if you start with a presupposition - i.e., "I don't want God to exist" - rather than following the evidence, you can never be satisfied.

    If you and I gave first-hand eye witness accounts of John Hinckley shooting Ronald Reagan, our accounts would not be identical. I might say "three shots" and you "four". I might say that Hinckley was tackled by the Secret Service, whereas you might say they grabbed him.

    Which was it? Three or four shots? Tackled or merely grabbed? Who hit the ground first - Delahanty, McCarthy or Brady? I bet we might not agree on that either. Is that proof positive that Hinckley never shot Reagan? Of course not. Come on now.

    That's a typical straw man argument, which is given to distract rather than persuade. No one here is claiming that Odysseus was a historical figure (though he could have been), so refuting a claim that no one made does not further your argument.
     
  7. Geko45

    Geko45 Smartass Pilot CLM

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    Perhaps not a christian, but you don't really think an atheist says things like "I believe in a cosmic intelligence and I conceive God as the life, mind, order and law of the world" do you?
     
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  8. neon

    neon

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    How in the world do you think the universe could exist without God?
    Science has shown that the properties of the universe depend on the remarkable fine-tuning of the cosmological constants which define the properties of matter. Turn the dial even slightly to change one of these critical parameters and the universe would be completely different from the one we inhabit and, in most cases, incompatible with life. As the physicist Steven Weinberg has commented: ‘There is reason to believe that in elementary particle physics....there is simplicity, a beauty, that we are finding in the rules that govern matter that mirrors something that is built into the logical structure of the Universe at a very deep level’. It is a remarkable fact that conscious beings have appeared who can understand and describe the properties of this mathematically elegant universe. Yet there is no explanation for the existence of such a universe within the framework of scientific naturalism. To say that it ‘just happened’ displays a startling lack of curiosity. The more science uncovers of the remarkable universe we inhabit, the more pressing becomes the need to explain the reason for its existence, and the more obvious becomes the failure of naturalism to provide any satisfactory explanation. source:bethinking:


    upload_2017-5-19_16-8-13.jpeg


    Molly:)


    +++
    Psalms 139:13and14
    For thou hast possessed my rains: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb: I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
     
  9. Paul7

    Paul7

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    Do you have a point? Mine is he isn't a Christian, something you guys say you want for such verification. Don't ask me why.
     
  10. Paul7

    Paul7

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    They already do that, they're either complaining about 'discrepancies', or saying since there are similarities, NT book X is copied from book Y. The goalpost moving makes you dizzy.
     
  11. Geko45

    Geko45 Smartass Pilot CLM

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    Why are you asking me a non-sequitur? That was a quote from Will Durant and I posted it merely as an indication of what he believed (i.e. he was not really an atheist as Paul7 implies in the thread title).
     
  12. Geko45

    Geko45 Smartass Pilot CLM

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    "Not a christian" is not synonymous with "atheist"

    Your thread title is "An Atheist Historian on the Historicity of Jesus".

    My point is that atheists don't generally go around saying that they believe in a "cosmic intelligence" that they identify as "god". Durant was clearly a theist of some form and not an atheist.

    What you are doing would be like me saying that prominent christian scholars believe in evolution and then citing Richard Dawkins as an example. Dawkins is not a christian and Durant is not an atheist.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  13. NMG26

    NMG26

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    Yeah, thread title should be, "A Theist historian...."
     
  14. Paul7

    Paul7

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    “Does history support a belief in God? If by God we mean not the creative vitality of nature but a supreme being intelligent and benevolent, the answer must be a reluctant negative.”

    —Will & Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History (1968)
     
  15. Paul7

    Paul7

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    No different than the atheists who told Jimmy Kimmel they would pray for his sick child.

    Durant called himself a reluctant atheist.
     
  16. Paul7

    Paul7

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    Yes he was.

    “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.” –Will Durant6

    • Durant, an atheist, recognizes the tendency of atheistic thinking toward moral relativism. At the same time, he tacitly recognizes that there is a “moral life,” something inherently good that atheism has historically pulled away from. Can every person’s morals be different according to preference, or does religion point us toward a transcendent truth about right and wrong?"
    http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/atheism-quotes-faq.htm
     
  17. Geko45

    Geko45 Smartass Pilot CLM

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    Even if you were right with the rest of what followed then this would still be wrong. Nobody suggested that you were saying that. It is clearly being offered as analogous scenario. There is comparable evidence for the historicity of the Iliad and Odyssey as there is for the historicity of the gospels. So, if that sort of evidence should be considered proof of the existence of jesus and/or his divinity then it should logically also be considered proof of the supernatural characters and events described in Homer's works. Which is prima facie absurd (which is the whole point of the argument, that both scenarios are equally absurd).

    And this would have been a red herring fallacy and not a strawman as you incorrectly stated above. But, since it's actually an argument by analogue then it is neither of those fallacies and instead a perfectly valid counter argument to what you posted.
     
  18. Geko45

    Geko45 Smartass Pilot CLM

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    As reported by Jimmy Kimmel...

    And I'll repeat my direct quote from Durant:

    "I find in the Universe so many forms of order, organization, system, law and adjustment of means to ends, that I believe in a cosmic intelligence and I conceive God as the life, mind, order and law of the world."

    It doesn't matter what he mistakenly identified himself as (or your second quote which is what someone else identified him as), he clearly believed in some sort of pantheistic and conscious god. So, not an atheist.
     
  19. Guss

    Guss

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    I don't think it's implausible that the man we know as Jesus existed. But there is nothing to convince me of his divinity.
     
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  20. Paul7

    Paul7

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    And I'll repeat my direct quote from Durant:

    “Does history support a belief in God? If by God we mean not the creative vitality of nature but a supreme being intelligent and benevolent, the answer must be a reluctant negative.”

    —Will & Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History (1968)

    LOL, so your quotes are valid, mine aren't? It's like arguing about whether someone is an agnostic or atheist, both will be toast in the end, and both are skeptics and not Christian.

    I've come across several sources referring to Durant calling himself a 'reluctant atheist'.
     
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