Monday, February 21, 2011

Debating the Idiots, Part 2

Continuing our look at comments on Opposing Views since I left, we’ll now take a look at them from start to finish to see if there’s anything interesting or in need of response on the specific subject of Jesus existing. We’ll also note some of the oddball comments now and then…like this one from “Odd Duck”:

I believe it’s quite possible someone like Jesus walked the Earth or maybe it was actually someone named Jesus who was a man of great word and honor…..But that ”Virgin Birth” deal, that’s the one that really throws it ”Out of the Ball Park”, so to speak…...Give me a break…..Would this then mean that the ”Blessed Virgin Mary” is the FIRST female to encounter Artificial Insemenation? Just asking…..Organized Religion destroys everything…..It IS ”The Root of All Evil”.....Happy Holidays!!!

Um yeah. Whatever. There’s a lot of comments on top from people who apparently didn’t notice the topic was Jesus’ existence and took the chance to rant about other things. We don’t get anyone who does get to that topic until a guy named “Jim Harrison” says:

The only reasonable conclusion to this argument is that the state of the evidence precludes and will probably always preclude drawing any conclusions about whether there was a real man named Jesus who had something to do with the origin of Christianity. The historical Jesus is unrecoverable, and his mere existence is one of the many things we don't know and aren't going to find out.

The only reasonable conclusion, huh? Unfortunately, Jimmy never explains WHY this is the “ONLY” reasonable conclusion; he doesn’t lay out an epistemology for deciding if a person is historical or not; he doesn’t answer any of my arguments, not here or later (this was his only comment). So all we have here is a drive-by commenting that expresses a summary conclusion of what Jimmy wishes was true.

Suspending judgment on this issue is not much of a problem for nonbelievers interested in understanding Christianity as a historical phenomenon because, contrary to a well-nigh universal prejudice, knowing the origin of a tradition isn't very important—its the elaboration that creates the significance. The funny thing is, the question is also not particularly important for old-school believers either since establishing the historicity of Jesus is the least of their problems. The authenticity of a paragraph in Josephus isn't going to make the notion that a god-man died for our sins and rose from the dead more or less plausible to anyone who isn't already one of the faithful.

Well, that much is true. I do have to frequently beat people on the head to make them aware of how critical an issue this is; in one sense, we owe thanks to Zeitgeist for bringing the issue to the fore.

By the way, is anybody considering that there is a third possibility besides the existence or nonexistence of a historical Jesus? It seems perfectly plausible to me that there may have been two or more Jesuses who got melded together as the Jesus of the NT.

Uh HUH. It’d be funny except that’s what G. A. Wells has actually gone to these days. But no, no one with any serious credentials considers such a wacky idea. Why do there need to be “two or more”? Just one will fit the data just fine. Unfortunately, here again, Jimmy declines to explain any of his wacky theories in a way that makes them open to criticism. I can’t imagine why not.

After this, we have several more rant and rave messages that have nothing to do with the topic at hand; folks manage to insert such topics as American slavery, Paul revamping Christianity, atheists having psychological problems, etc etc. One nut recommends the ridiculous “Messiah Truth” website, which is more conspiracy theory than scholarship. Another nut tells Frank Zindler:

What a clear and convincing bit of writing you have put together for this ‘debate’. My hat’s off to you. I agree with your argument, that Jesus was not significant, historically.

Clear and convincing eh? Never mind that Zindler ran from the forum in flames with such monumental errors as still thinking Tacitus’ works could have been forged in the 15th century (in spite of mss from the 9th-11th century).

No, there’s no more arguments to address on the actual topic, from the top down, until we get to a guy named “chuckly74,” who writes:

Jesus most probably was just a myth, which has been blown out of proportion and made false tales into "truth".

Most of the gospels written about Jesus were written much later after he "died". One of the gospels, the gospel of Mark, mentions the destruction of the temple, which came about in the year 70 CE. Jesus is supposed to have died around the year 30 CE. There is at least a 40 year gap in the writing of the gospels and the life of Jesus. A 40 year memory gap might not neccessarily hold up as a valid interpretation of an actual event that happened, if such an event took place.

Um, right. We’ve been through this “dates of the Gospels” before, and the temple destruction prophecy doesn’t warrant a post-70 date. So, no call for that “40 year memory gap,” either, though in a society where information was transmitted in memorable formats, not even a 100 year gap would be that big a deal. Besides, writers like Tacitus report stuff from even longer periods than that. I mean, c’mon…these are stale canards, people.

Also, there are passages in scripture that make statements saying that Jesus was not a real person. In Hebrews 8:4, it says: "If Jesus had been on earth, he would not even have been a priest." The church ITSELF discounts the idea that Jesus was an actual human being.

I'm not sure what that tells you, but I'm pretty sure it means something.

Yes, it means someone’s been taking Earl Doherty too much at his word. We handled that one long ago at the link below.

We’ll check in again tomorrow with some more. Pretty dull, isn’t it? But don't worry, eventually we'll; get back to mr. spin again. At least he's somewhat interesting, even if not much brighter.

On Hebrews 8:4

No comments:

Post a Comment