Friday, April 10, 2015

Five Atheist Arguments published a story that claims the reveal '5 Atheist Arguments You Can Beat'. But does it deliver on that promise?

1) Jesus Never Existed
“How do you know that Jesus even existed?” is a surprisingly common argument. Since the release of Bill Maher’s documentary, Religulous, it’s become popular to compare Jesus to other deities, such as the Egyptian Horus. After connecting a few exaggerated similarities, Maher’s claims have led resurgence in the doubts of Jesus’ existence at all. Fortunately, scholars overwhelmingly agree that Jesus of Nazareth did exist. These aren’t just Christian scholars, either. Professor Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, many of whose books debate conservative Christian thinking, has recently published a book addressing and debunking the claims of Jesus’ non-existence. In addition, many ancient sources outside of the Bible, such as the Roman historian Tacitus and the Jewish historian Josephus, mention Jesus in ways that align with the biblical story.
I hate to break it to belief net, but the question of if Jesus ever existed at all is much older than Maher's (quite good) film. The fact that Jesus seems plagiarized from earlier deities really should raise many questions.

But it seems that belief net is seriously misunderstanding what some scholars are opining. First off, the belief among scholars that Jesus probably existed is a thought that has been losing subscribers as time has gone on. Why is that? Because as time continues to pass, there is still no actual proof of
Jesus' existence.

Back to belief net's misunderstanding though... Of those scholars that feel that Jesus actually existed, his existence isn't of the sort Christians typically assume. You see, most feel that either Jesus (the man) existed or someone the story was based on. What isn't being claimed is that he definitely existed as  the supernatural son of God. We know Joseph Smith actually existed. But does that mean Mormonism is actually true? Also, many likewise think that Muhammad existed. So should we assume that Islam is also true? You see, even if a religious figure is found to have existed, nothing is proven until the claims of this figure of are also shown true. So the proving of a purely human Jesus would actually destroy Christianity.

2) You Can’t Trust the Gospels
An area of research that is debated to this day is the authorship of the gospels. Many Christian academics believe that the gospels were not written as eyewitness accounts, but later after hearing oral traditions. If even Christian scholars believe that the disciples weren’t the actual authors of biblical texts, then how can Christians possibly believe in their accuracy? There are two equally intelligent responses here. 
I've never heard one intelligent response to this, so two would be amazing! I'm all ears...
While there is some scholarly material available such as Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses that defends the gospels were eyewitness accounts, the precise date of publication ultimately doesn’t matter as much as skeptics claim. 
Someone can call them eyewitness accounts all they want. Muslims claim the Qur'an is made of eyewitness accounts. So do Christians trust that the Qur'an is reliable then? Also, the facts show that the gospels can't be eyewitness accounts. The publication dates are too new. They couldn't have been written by those that they are attributed to (if they even existed). They are internally contradictory. So if they were eyewitness accounts, they were accounts recorded by people with a terrible memory. Reading them honestly and examining their history easily shows that they are at best, unsubstantiated stories that were passed on and later recorded. In short, the gospels are nothing but hearsay.
The full resolution is WELL worth a download and look!
In his Word on Fire series, Father Robert Barron compares the Gospels to modern history to add a bit of context. Suppose, he says, you were to read a newly written book about the JFK assassination. Even though the book itself may not have been written by someone who witnesses every moment, we don’t automatically assume that the information has been corrupted and has lost its reliability. The same applies to the Gospels.
I thought that these were supposed to be intelligent responses... The JFK assassination comparison is a terrible one. You see, the JFK assassination has something the gospels don't. Mountains or evidence that it happened. Anyone can easily have tons of video and historical evidence at their fingertips in the matter of moments. But when it comes to the gospels, there is absolutely zero proof that it's claims actually occurred. So the two aren't comparable at all.

3) The Crucifixion
If Jesus was really God’s son, why would God want him to die? Christopher Hitchens, a prominent member of the New Atheist movement, writes “Once again we have a father demonstrating love by subjecting a son to death by torture, but this time the father is not trying to impress god. He is god, and he is trying to impress humans.” If the crucifixion were simply God showing His strength, then we really might be in trouble... Fortunately, this is not the case. Brian Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missiouri, notes that “the crucifixion is not what God inflicts upon Christ in order to forgive. The crucifixion is what God endures in Christ as he forgives.” Jesus is our model for God’s character, and as Christians we worship a God who forgives even those who crucify Him, “for they know not what they do!” This is not God demonstrating His power over us, but His love and power over death.
Actually it is not a show of love at all. It is a display of control, and nonsense. The crucifixion has many problems...

1) There's no proof that it happened.
2) It was immoral.
3) It was entirely unnecessary.
4) Requiring the acceptance of Jesus as your savior as well as the crucifixion means that his 'forgiveness' is not true, but rather blackmail.

But remember, you can say that this was God's plan in order to forgive sin. But it is a terribly sick plan! And a pointless one too. For if God wants to forgive he could simply do so without all the pageantry, or an unnecessary and brutal human sacrifice.

4) The Miracles are Impossible
People often doubt the miracles of Jesus, ranging from virgin birth to his resurrection and everything in between. No rational-minded person, skeptics claim, could possibly believe in a man who fed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and fishes or who raised a man called Lazarus from the dead.
Correct, no rational mind can believe such a thing without evidence that it occurred. Supply evidence, and that's another story. But it's oddly suspicious that these supposedly great miracles were not deemed as important enough for anyone of that time to bother recording historically.
That’s what’s so special about miracles: they don’t make sense! Frankly, miracles wouldn’t be miracles if they were physically possible. Whenever Jesus performs a miracle in the gospels, the crowds or disciples are in awe precisely because of how unbelievable these actions were.
Wait, wait, wait... The argument is seriously that they don't make sense? Talk about weak! So do Christians believe that Zeus actually throws lightening bolts? That Poseidon actually controls the seas? That Muhammad actually rode a winged horse up to Heaven? That Joseph Smith really did have magic seer stones and golden tablets? That Ganesha actually has an elephant head? That Prometheus literally gets disemboweled by an eagle over and over every day? That scientology is correct about alien souls in humans and atom bombs in volcanoes?

None of these things make sense, so by the argument given, all the wild claims of every religions must be true. Yet, Christians will typically laugh at these claims made by other religions. But why? They really shouldn't since the Christian claims are just as absent of evidence as these other claims are.

5) Christians are Hateful and Bigoted
What about the crusades? Or the Spanish Inquisition? Religion has always driven people to commit horrible acts of violence that would have never occurred if people weren’t so easily brainwashed, right? This is another common argument the seeks to discredit God and religion, but interestingly it does so by attacking human sin, the very problem Christianity seeks to remedy.
As the old saying goes, "With or without religion you will have good people doing good, and bad people doing bad. But for a good person to do bad, that takes religion." Obviously this is overly simplistic, as religion is not the only thing that can cause good to do bad. But it does take some sort of closely held belief or opinion.
Certainly not everything done “in the name of Christ” is truly Christlike. Since the time of Constantine, Christianity has been a significant part of Western culture, often intertwined with politics and government. As author David Robertson notes in his book Magnificent Obsession, it’s difficult to divorce Christianity from the dominant position it’s held in society. This often unfairly places the blame on Christianity for the misdeeds of men acting out of fearful intolerance and greed, both of which Jesus adamantly opposed. The best thing we can do is pray for the grace to live out Jesus’ commandments the best we can, and show the world what God’s love can truly mean.
The problem is that what is 'Christlike' is not clearly defined. And that is because just like most of the Bible there is much contradiction at play.  If Jesus was only about forgiveness, love and acceptance, that would be one thing. But the problem is that Jesus also spoke of bringing a sword, bringing division and that the old law still stands. So one can easily point to a section of the Bible to show that the Crusades actually were 'Christlike'.

The Nazi's thought they were doing God's work when they were exterminating Jews and other
minority groups. Southern slave owners claimed that the Bible showed that slavery was their God given right. The witch burnings were justified by the Bible by it's perpetrators. Christians today point to the Bible when they try to openly discriminate against homosexuals. Christians in third-world countries swear they are following the Bible when they are beheading people for being gay or a non-believer, or burning them alive under suspicion of witchcraft to this very day.

And then there are those that feel that say that it's Christlike to feed the hungry, to love your enemies and turn the other cheek. That you shouldn't judge, shouldn't be greedy, and to love all. But here's the problem. Both sides are right. The Bible is a text that is so fractured and contradictory that it condones and promotes just about everything. This includes promoting direct opposites. And that's a huge problem. A text that condones everything ultimately restricts nothing. Worse yet, it can justify terrible acts by those that feel they are following their God's will. And the sad truth is, there's almost always a verse that they can point to to self-justify their motivation.

Obviously all Christians aren't hateful and bigoted. But it's clear that being sufficiently fanatic or immersed in the theology can easily lead to those ends.

So in conclusion, we ended up with a list that didn't deliver on it's claims one iota. Sure, five arguments were presented, but none were defeated.

-Brain Hulk

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