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50 reasons (NOT) to believe in god

#50 Jesus Christ is either who he says he is, or he is the biggest con man history has ever known.

You know, I was really expecting a real clincher for the last one, but this is just a big letdown. That's it? That's the theist's best argument? Shit.

Other than that someone said Jesus said the stuff he supposedly said in the Bible, what other evidence have you got that he really said it? And could you submit that evidence in a court of law? If the theist doesn't have any evidence that could pass one of the hearsay exceptions in court, they got nothing. You know, there is a reason the rules about hearsay exist: hearsay is unreliable. It's perfectly possible that the followers of Jesus were the biggest conmen history has ever known.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 1st, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
I haven't commented on your responses to these 50 items until now because I wasn't sure that there was anything that needed to be said, but I wanted to mention my disappointment at this last one because...well, you said it best "That's the theist's best arugment?"

What I wanted to know is where you got all these originally and which particular sect of wacko they belonged to? Any particular process in the decision making for what points to refute and what points to skip, or where to find these crazy assertions to begin with?

I rather think that the body of evidence available suggests that there may have been an historical figure that was Jesus, but I don't for a moment think that he was a the son of God. I think perhaps he may have been incredibly charismatic and held great influence, but...well, I also look to see what other traditions have the exact same story in different words to see where the Christian stories were created. There was a really good book at Borders, but I forget the title, and in it, the whole book was a chapter by chapter dissection of where stories in the bible came from and from what prior religious traditions they were inspired or augmented. Most of these ended up being from Mesopotamian or Egyptian in original...if I can find it again and you're interested, I'll let you know.
Aug. 1st, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
The list originally came from another blog I read. The author was sent the list, apparently because some Christian woman was upset that the guy was an atheist was trying to 'save' him. He left it up to his commenters to refute because he thought the list was just silly and unsophisticated. But sometimes I get commenters here that say they are new to being atheists or being open about being atheists and they don't know what to say when people try to argue with them. I remember when I was newly open, I faced a lot of that, and my views were not well-formed, and I hadn't given these specific arguments much thought... I knew there was something wrong with them, but not how to articulate it. I learned the hard way, but having ready arguments to defend yourself from attack is a necessity if you are going to acknowledge being an atheist publicly... so I decided to refute them one at a time as public service. Plus, it gave me something to write about on a regular basis for a while.

As for which arguments I decided to refute, some of that is experience, some of it depends on my area of expertise. I'm a bit of a science geek, of course, and my degree in Classical studies also came up quite a bit, particularly with respect to Jesus talk. Sometimes, there is so much wrong with it, every word is like a new error. Beyond that I don't know where they came from specifically, though, I've heard most of them before, and trolling around believers' websites is usually the best way to come up with a good list of things to talk about/refute... I'm just not sure I have the stomach for that last option.

As for Jesus himself, we have very little evidence for the existence of Jesus other than the Bible, and that is part of the problem. I tend to agree with you that there was probably some person upon whom they were based, probably some nobody with a dozen followers, kinda like the Lundgrens or David Koresh. :) (Only he apparently didn't kill his followers.) But much beyond that, there is a good deal that is pure fantasy, and the comparisons with pre-existing mythologies tends reinforce that interpretation, and the faulty geography and other historical problems (like the lack of a census during any period in which Jesus is alleged to have been born), etc. don't make the argument that we can know anything substantive about his life from the Bible. Only those things which are not refuted, copied from other traditions, or in flat-out contradiction to the other books MIGHT be true. Because the Bible was written by his followers, we can't even be sure he was charismatic because of course they would have thought so. David Koresh is charismatic to his followers, as is Warren Jeffs.
Aug. 3rd, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
These arguments are horrible and some make no sense whatsoever.
Aug. 4th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
They ARE horrible, but these are exactly the kinds of arguments I hear all the time. Most people are not nearly sophisticated enough to come up with good arguments, and they just repeat nonsense as though it was profound. There are so many factual errors in most of them, there is not even any point in commenting on the logical fallacies most of them suffer from even if one assumes their facts are true.

The sad thing is that people believe these things are true and convincing.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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