Sunday, May 17, 2009

If you believe in the resurrection of Jesus, why don't you also believe these things?

I have to admire the frankness of Paul the Apostle who admitted that belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus is fundamental to faith in Christianity:

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 1 Corinthians 15:14 (KJV)

Christians pay little attention to the historical record surrounding this supposedly miraculous event. Now let's be clear on what they believe: Jesus was crucified and was dead as a doornail on Good Friday. He remained dead on Holy Saturday and presumably started to rot as he lay in his tomb. He then rose from the dead sometime on Easter Sunday.

[I have deleted the following sentence for reasons that are explained in the discussion thread following this post] That Jesus was crucified is a well-attested event of Roman history. The first written account (Mark 16) of the supposed resurrection was not written until around 70 AD. If you research this point, you will discover two pivotal facts:

1. Jewish prophets had been promising the arrival of the messiah for hundreds of years prior to the crucifixion of Jesus.

2. The earliest manuscripts of Mark 16 break off abruptly at 16:8, where the men at the empty tomb announce Jesus' resurrection, lacking post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. The modern text of Mark 16:9–20 does not appear in the earliest manuscripts.

In other words, it appears that the myth of Jesus' resurrection evolved many decades after the supposed event. However, let's assume that you are still willing to believe that it happened. My question is why all Christians are unwilling to believe that ALL of the following ocurrences are true as well:

1. That Muhammed ascended to heaven on a winged horse.

2. That an angel named Moroni (also resurrected, by the way) appeared to Joseph Smith Jr. and assisted him translate the Book of Mormon from ancient egyptian written on gold plates.

3. That 75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and detonated hydrogen bombs in the volcanoes. The thetans (i.e. souls) then clustered together, stuck to the bodies of the living, and continue to do this today. You might recognize this as one of the beliefs of Scientologists.

4. Castrating oneself is the only true path to salvation - see the Skoptsy sect.

5. Transubstantiation and infallibility of the Pope.

6. Blood transfusions should not be used under any circumstances in medical treatment.

7. Everything and everyone are just figments of your imagination. You are God and you are truly alone.

If Christians are willing to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, I don't understand why they aren't willing to believe #'s 1 -7. Why are any of them any less probable?


  1. That Jesus was crucified is a well-attested event of Roman history.




    This will be a first if you can produce a citation.

  2. G beat me to it. The historical record is extremely weak on whether Jesus was crucified or whether he existed at all, with no mention of him in contemporary, outside sources apart from the Christian tradition. Even the Gospels themselves were written many decades afterward, and Paul with his epistles written before that, never met Jesus in person.

  3. I also am somewhat surprised by the statement that Jesus' crucifiction is a well attested event of Roman history. I will agree that is more attested than his alleged rise, but neither are well documented.

    In terms of number four, too bad the Roman Catholic Church does not adopt that practice for the Priesthood; small boys everywhere would be grateful.


  5. Please, fix your post or provide citation.

  6. Lets not detract from the point of this post - if christians believe a man rose from the dead becasue the bible says so, why don't they believe the posted claims?

    G - i think thats a bit much, so what, the man made a mistake, i wouldn't say it has embarrased us all. It's much more embarrassing in my opinion to simply believe in the resurrection. I'd rather get my facts messed up on the roman documentation of jesus christ than on whether or not god exists.

  7. What Roman documentation? THERE ISN'T ANY.

  8. Late to the party but "That Jesus was crucified is a well-attested event of Roman history" is a real WTF, alright.

    The historical record of the era is extensive. There is an enormous corpus of contemporaneous documentation. Strangely, not one mention of the "King of the Jews" making a big scene in the temple and Pntius Pilate playing politics with his life and so on and so forth. Not a single mention. Nope, not even one teensy weensy note anywhere.

    Jesus and Christinanity* are best understood as urban myths.

    *my preferred spelling

  9. What they all said.

    If anyone is interested in actual "documentation" or Jesus, there are only a few sources.

    Josepheus talks about Jesus being crucified and ressurrected, but the passage is widely believed to be an interpolation given that it is unrelated to the preceeding and following paragraphs (which are themselves related) and that it is a single paragraph about the jewish messiah in a book about the history of the jews.

    Pliny the elder and Tacitus both only talk about christians as a new sect and may, IIRC, mention that the christians claim that their leader was crucified and ressurrected. Neither actually provide evidence for such a claim.

  10. David,

    Josephus was not a contemporary of JC. He was born several years after JC allegedly died.

    The damning point is that nothing outside of the bible supports any of it's claims. Go google the Salon article "King David was a Nebish" to see more damning evidence that the bible is most fabrication.

    Back to the original point, it's amazing that the Roman make no mention anywhere of JC. Not one contemporary historian mentions him.

    Even worse, not one contemporary wrote down what he allegedly said. All we have is hearsay which was written down decades after his death.

  11. It's worth noting that the Testimonium of Josephus is generally considered to be highly dubious and vague at best, and an outright fabrication (perhaps by Eusebius) at worst. No serious historian would call this text reliable, unless they had an axe to grind.

  12. So if you don't believe in Atheist Missionaries main claim, that Jesus' existence was recorded in History, why would you believe anything else he says.

    If you can't even get that little fact right, what is the point of reading onwards.

  13. I've been out drinking since I published this post which contains the erroneous suggestion that the crucifixion of Christ was a "well-attested event of Roman history". It appears that many believe I was drinking while I wrote this post.

    Let me be clear: No one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All claims about Jesus derive from writings of other people. There occurs no contemporary Roman record that shows Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus. Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus. All documents about Jesus got written well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings..

    Whether Jesus existed in fact or not is irrelevant to the purpose of this post.

  14. cakesy, they read because they know I am here 24/7 preaching the word of reason.

  15. No Atheist Missionary it is VERY pertinent to your post. the historical record doesn't claim to have crucified Jesus. You must have been drinking because you got that IMPORTANT fact dead wrong. As for you preaching the truth, seems you dont understand all the facts just yet

  16. bigbrotherlord, How does establishing the fact that the Romans crucified one more Galilean Jew in any way further the suggestion that he died, started to rot, came back to life and was God in the flesh? Regardless of whether a majority of historians were to agree that Jesus of Nazareth existed (or not, as I have now admitted seems to be more plausible), the point I was making in my post is that those who believe in the resurrection should be willing to believe anything. Relying on "historical Jesus" to support the tenets of Christianity is no different than relying on "historical Muhammed" to support the tenets of Islam. I don't see how A gets them to B.

  17. Look, here's the problem. Suppose you had written a piece on geography and your first paragraph made the claim that circumfrence of the earth at the equator is 670 miles. You would have brought all reading to a screeching halt in the same way as you do here by stating "That Jesus was crucified is a well-attested event of Roman history."

    The fact that no contemporary of JC makes mention of him is a key fact in the argument that much of his story is the result of embellishments added long after his death--that is if he lived at all.

  18. I thought you might be interested in learning about OUR Jewish traditions which embrace the real Christ. We are the Frankist Association of America. One of our members has a new book out:

    These are our teachings passed on through generations. If you can't afford the book you can see the website of one of our teachers -


    Beth El Jacob Frank

  19. the true Messiah: Marcus Julius Agrippa. ... and all along I thought it was Caligula. Sales Rank: #1,105,447 in Books. Out of pity I ordered it. I buy books like some people buy bottled water. My purchase should have the same effect on the ranking as David Duval's recent U.S. Open finish (2009) had on his World Golf Ranking.

    Thanks for the recommendation. I enjoy all flavors of delusions.

  20. Less than twelve hours later: Sales Rank: #146,819 in Books

    Huller, I wouldn't go quitting your day job jusy yet - if you have one.

  21. I came to this website mostly because of curiousity and hoped that there would be more evidence than Christians claim they have or perhaps something that would intrigue me but I have found that this website provided me nothing more than boredom I have found at a two hour mass and I'm more convinced that people are only selfish, want to be their own God and their lives have no purpose, if they follow this particular system of belief that's stated on this page. It's also made me wonder why we haven't found as many transitional forms as Darwin stated we should by this time..We'll all see what the grave holds or afterlife is like after our lives on this wonderful planet we call earth.

  22. You are just naiive, unlearned, lack of knowledge and reasonning. You are just ignorant about what is history about. Go and read more books.

  23. bawhte, I am perplexed by your comment. Are you suggesting that the resurrection of Jesus is a well attested to historical fact? If so, it is you who needs to do some reading and honest introspection.

    If I took you out to a lake and you saw me walk on water with your own eyes, would you believe me if I told you I was the second coming of Jesus? Of course not. You would apply your natural sense of skepticism and (quite reasonably) look for a non-supernatural explanation for what otherwise appeared to be a miracle. If you would react that way to a miracle you saw with your own eyes, why would you believe 2000 year old miracle tales that were written decades after the supposed events?

    I ask you to consider the fact that it is quite possible for a historical figure to be turned into an invented saviour. In this regard, I commend a reading of Edmund Standing’s excellent essay “Against Mythicism: A Case for the Plausibility of a Historical Jesus” which can be found here:

  24. “Nero inflicted the most exquisite tortures on the people commonly called Christians who were hated. Christus, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the wicked superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated but through the city of Rome”
    Cornelius Tacitus (55-120AD) – Roman Historian

  25. Just thought you might enjoy the fact that I'm using your image of the stone rolled away from the tomb in Sunday's Easter Service. Thank you for your contribution to the celebration of the most important event in human history.
    You are also a talented apologist, noting that hundreds of years of Jewish texts give over 200 specific prophecies fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews were the consummate record-keepers, and the odds of fulfilling just 8 of the prophecies is mathematically absurd (less than one per the total number of human beings ever to live). Happy Easter!