Atheist test

It's pass or fail kiddies, if you can't do step one, you don't qualify.  And by the way, Roger Penrose's "The Emperor's New Mind" is a better read.


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I'm fairly well aware of the things I don't know

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

That's the main reason I am an Agnostic and not an Atheist.

On the other hand you really don't need to have a knowledge of higher math to refute many of the religious fundamentalist's arguments.  You just need some basic knowledge of Biology to refute creationism for example.  Despite what that snarky video says, you can make fun of the fundies, even if you only have a degree in the social sciences.

{;-) Dan in Miami


gamerarocks's picture

Although I agree that a complete knowledge of the physics behind the big bang (or the big bounce) isn't necessary, I hardly think that basic biology knowledge is a marker.  Trailer parks steeped in religious intolerance with those who look upon their offspring as nothing more than a tax incentive understand basic biology just fine.

Here in the Buckle of the Bible Belt, I run into this...

Coaster's picture

"Your science is nothing but another belief system."

Yeah, you F#&@%$! dumbass.  A "belief system" founded on peer review, repeatable experiments, and VERIFIABLE FACTS!   JESUS F#&@%$! CHRIST!

Yeah, I've come close to being beat up a fair amount of times.  It seems having simultaneous issues of anger and low tolerances for stupidity is a poor recipe for making new friends. 

I think part of the definition of what a scientist is

Rajah's picture

Is someone who is open minded. Many of the real religious types I've met simply don't care about evolution, geology and such. They're not even curious.

My response to anti-scientists...

michael3b's picture

Do you drive a car? Yes? Ever hit the brakes ? Yes? Car mentioned in the bibble? No? Instructions on how to build internal combustion engine in bibble? No?  Coefficient of friction calculated and extrapolated to find materials suitable for brake pads in bibble? No?


Then shut the F#@& up.

Door to door atheists

Rajah's picture

First impressions and all

gamerarocks's picture

You can use DNA evidence to support the Theory of Evolution

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

You can also study the structure and biology of different plants and animals to show that they are related to each other and are descended from a common ancestor.

Physics and the Big Bang theory are only some of the ways to show that the Bible is not literally true when it comes to creation.

{;-) Dan in Miami 

Most definitely

gamerarocks's picture

but I don't think you can call DNA basic biology. 

I'm not disagreeing with your points, I just think you're overestimating the effects that science has on the majority.  When confronted by an abundance of facts, that same majority finds a way to emit the "It's only a theory" rejoinder.

I think the only issue is man decending from monkey's

TMundo's picture

...not plants or other forms of natural selection.  Just man evolving from a completely separate species.  That would negate the line in the Bible about God and Jesus creating man in their image.

That's right, God and Jesus together, as it says:

"[26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:"

However, it isn't like anyone really knows what God looks like, although I thought there were some vague descriptions in the Bible, I can't remeber.  I do know what people look like, so I assume God's got a humanoid look to Him.

More proof

FearlessFreep's picture

When you feel a man's nipples, you're observing proof of evolution.


The artist formerly known as Zorro.

Way too many athiests are smug assholes...

MH's picture

especially the young ones the guy's talking about, who basically look down their noses at anyone who has religious beliefs.  I believe in science and scientific principles, but I don't feel like I have the right to judge religious people - if religion helps you in life and makes you a better person, who am I to tell you you're wrong.  

Of course, there's always the negative side of religious belief (persecution, holy war, etc), but to me that's the fault of people using religion to manipulate people and advance their agendas, not the religion itself.


(agnostic, BTW)

I agree MH...

TMundo's picture

I don't like to hear that Christianity is  resposible for wars and persecutions, it's man's twisting of God's Word to fit his own agenda.

MH, look at it from my side of the Bible

Coaster's picture

If you knew me in real life, you know that I'd be a smug asshole whether or not I believed in God.  I mean arrogance is all some of us have and I want to maximize my potential. 

But seriously, atheism compared to agnosticism is an absolute position. It's like being pregnant:  You either are or you aren't.  Please don't confuse the certainty that is atheism with smugness and arrogance.  I'm 57, which means I've been an atheist for half a century.  People like me don't question whether or not there is a god, or even think much about the god question.  It has no meaning for us. 

Whether or not I respect a person has little to do with their religion, or lack of same.  People I respect include the spiritual Rajah and TMundo.  People I disrespect include the supposedly very spiritual and very disgraced Richard Roberts (Former head of Oral Roberts University and Son of Oral), and the rotting homophobic corpse of Jerry Falwell.  There are of course many many atheists worth all the disrespect I can muster including the Unibomber and Karl Rove.  I apologize to the Unibomber for putting him in the same category as Karl Rove. 


Rajah's picture

Hey, I don't drink THAT much!


Rajah's picture

Wouldn't feeling a man's nipples be proof of something else as well?

Not that there's anything wrong with that

Logical Extensionj? Okay, Reductio ad Absurdum

Coaster's picture

MH wrote:

if religion helps you in life and makes you a better person, who am I to tell you you're wrong.

Using your logic, a severely depressed person would be better off as a functioning drug addict.

Maybe they would be...

MH's picture

Especially if you count psycheatric drugs - if someone's severely depressed, they choose to use Prozac/Zoloft/whatever (I don't know if pot does anything for depression, and most other street drugs end up as more trouble then they're worth), and they're helped by them, then so be it.


Are you comparing religion to being addicted to drugs?

TMundo's picture

I suppose it would loosely depend on which religion you're talking about.  I mean Heaven's Gate or whatever cult David Karesh started would be extreme examples of self destructive religions.  But religions that help you to overcome mental disorders can't really be compared to illicit drug use, can they?

An answer for Michael3b

Rajah's picture

Jesus built my hotrod!

God, if there is a God, would more likely be incorporeal

Rajah's picture

Pure thought or pure energy

The fact that the Bible says God looks like us or vicey versa makes it suspect. What a cowinkie dink! Of all the creatures here on Earth only we were made in its image? I would rather imagine God looked like a whale than a puny human! The Bible is such an egocentric work of fiction! How much different is the Bible's version of God than the pagan's. The only difference I can see is the one god versus the many.

Rajah, God has 3 personalities in one...

TMundo's picture

God the Father, I think even Moses was nervous to look at him because of the awe.

God the son, aka Jesus, aka the Word made flesh, the Word itself to me is the difference between good and evil, the true rules that make up the universe.  It's like a force that what separates oil from water, but instead good from evil.  And of course made flesh for the sacrifice.

God the Holy Spirit, this is like the force in Starwars.

Quit capitalizing my name...

michael3b's picture

..I ain't no "proper" noun, Minister(y).

ps Long live my dang a long ling long!

Smug Athiests Suck.

Wulfgar's picture

They're as bad as hard-line idiot fundies. Athiest dicks still have to face Existence, just without the comforting (but probably) fictional beliefs that make the concepts of Life, Death and Suffering easier for manymany people to carry on from day to day and generation to generation.


Many religious persons belive that while their bodies become wormshit, their essence will continue on. The athiest only has the wormshit part to look forward to.



There may or may not be a God. I don't know and neither does anyone else. I do believe that (probably) there is no divine being, I don't belong to a church of any sort and dislike the negative aspects of organized religion while recognizing that it does have many positives that seem to me to pretty much balance out the bad...for whatever that's worth.


In any event, blaming religion for the Earth's problem misses the target; People are the cause. Religion is nothing more than one of the tools, as is just about any other social structure.







~I'm going to Hell and I just don't care.~



michael3b's picture

Except for the smug part. All smug people suck. Except for us, else this site would be empty.

Otherwise I will replay something I said earlier.  The person thinking a lottery ticket with a 1 in 1 billion+ chance of winning calling someone who refuses to play an asshole is wrong.  People made up god.  Nobody made up physics...except god...maybe. But I wouldn't bet the house on it.  In fact, I wouldn't bet my clipped toenails on it.

Not true

gamerarocks's picture

If Michael Jordan or Joe Montana act a trifle smug, would that necessarily be a bad thing?  If Albert Einstein or Jonas Salk behaved just a bit arrogant, would you hold it against them?  If the founding fathers saw how this country had done over 200+ years, don't you think there'd be a touch of smugness there?

Not necessarily

FearlessFreep's picture

They might be taken aback by Congress impeaching Clinton instead of Reagan and Dubya.


The artist formerly known as Zorro.

A comment or more

gamerarocks's picture

To reply to a few of the remarks:

Smugness; I don't consider myself smug about being an atheist.  I don't brag about the fact that I am for a variety of reasons.  One being that my religious views or lack thereof are my business, another being that studies show that atheists are the most reviled group of individuals in American society; more than gays, muslims, or any other group.  So keeping my beliefs to myself are in my best interest.  Believers in other religions are welcome to believe whatever they care to, but I don't feel my life needs to be based on a book of parables, nor judged by it.

Speaking of judgements, (and I admit a touch of smugness) when religious leaders attack other groups, gays for example, from a literal translation (how many translations later?) of a passage that is arbitrarily determined to be literal when others are said to be metaphorical, then yes I do feel a touch of smugness that I'm not led around by said people or making those judgements.  The other time I admit to a sense of smugness is when an image naturally occurs on a potato chip, treesap, in condensation, or the like and religious folk make 'pilgramages' to the sites.  To make a weak statistical reference, if there is a 1 in 30 million chance of something happening to a person, then there are 10 people in the United States that it happens to daily.  I don't see that as a miracle.  Personally I don't make such voyages when new scientific discoveries or breakthroughs are made.  (although I have visited JPL, a few observatories, and the odd natural history museum)  Judgements to me are for the court system, not for me to make about others ways of dealing with the lives we share.

Blaming a divine being for the actions of the minions who follow him or her is irrelevant at best.  Time machines would be a wonderful tool, cause personally the first two people I'd go get and bring back would be Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammad.  I'd be fasicinated by their reactions to the world of today.  (and who knows maybe be convinced to change my beliefs.  hey I'm talking time machines, so why not have a bit of fun with the idea.)

I don't know who specifically made the quote, but I'll paraphrase: "Christianity is a great thing; I can't wait to see it practiced."

nothing to see here

michael3b's picture

this was a repost


My biggest problem with the God/no God debate...

MH's picture

is that there's no way to prove that God does or doesn't exist (both sides have some good arguments, but nothing that I'd consider proof), so ultimately you have people attacking each other based on beliefs.  Question is, why is it so important (for many athiests and many religious people) for eveyone to believe the same thing?  For awhile now, my philosophy about religion is that I won't attack anyone's belief system as long as they don't attack mine (within reason, of course)

I do think it's a little scary that atheists are as reviled as they are - maybe if there were more people in the public eye who were well-liked that were openly atheist, this wouldn't be an issue (best known atheists I can think of off the top of my head is Bill Maher, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, and they're polarizing at best...)

The "Problem" is of in itself a problem

Coaster's picture

MH wrote:

My biggest problem with the God/no God debate is that there's no way to prove that God does or doesn't exist (both sides have some good arguments, but nothing that I'd consider proof)

It's logically impossible to prove the non-existence of anything. Asking atheists to prove there is no God only engages the lesser skilled in a low level semantic entanglement. Really, can anyone prove the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist? Those of us who have been touched by His Noodley Appendage might disagree, yea, take offense.

Invariably, those who advocate the existence of God rely on circular logic if you can pry them off of the faith thing, however momentarily.  God exists because the Bible tells them so, and they know the Bible is accurate because it is the Word of God.  Oh really?  Well who wrote The Gospell of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?  Well, okay:  Bobby Henderson wrote it, but I'm sure he was inspired by The Flying Spaghettin Monster Hisself.  It is interesting to note that the GotFSM was published in 2005.  In it, among other Truths, is stated that global warming is tied to the decline of the number of pirates.  Since publication, we've had a marked increase in incidents of piracy while experiencing a leveling out of global climate temperatures.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Saturday, My wife and I had lunch with the Tulsa Humanists, and yesterday, we had an especially good meeting of the Tulsa Atheists. Dude, I'm pumped!

I don't advocate shit

Rajah's picture

The only thing I believe in is the possiblity. I also believe in Bigfoot,lake monsters, ghosts and little grey aliens that go around abducting people. So what, does it hurt anyone one wit that I believe these things? No, it hurts no one. Can I prove any of it? No again, and why is proof so darn important? Let's face it, our chances of knowing everything are pretty slim. I think an open mind is more important. Sometimes my mind is so open me brain falls out!

Some say these near death experiences...

Rajah's picture

Are just a trick your mind plays as your brain is dying. And those alien abductions are just illusions caused by sleep paralysis. Yeah, there always seems to be skeptics around to spoil all the fun. Imagination is one of the most useful tools we have. Think where we would be today without it. Maybe God is just another invention that was necessary at the time. Ya gotta have something to keep the masses in line. How long can they be blinded by science?


I believe

RidingFool's picture

in the soul, ...(edited because it's a Monday)..., the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, long foreplay, show tunes, and that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, I believe that there oughtta be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astro-turf and the designated hitter, I believe in the 'sweet spot,' voting every election, soft core pornography, chocolate chip cookies, opening your presents on Christmas morning rather than Christmas eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last for seven days.


I believe...

FearlessFreep's picture

"I believe that a man should put a woman on a pedestal... high enough so he can look up her dress!"--Steve Martin


The artist formerly known as Zorro.

"Imagination is one of the most useful tools we have."

FearlessFreep's picture

"Think where we would be today without it." I couldn't imagine.


The artist formerly known as Zorro.

"How long can they be blinded by science?"

Agnostically Yours's picture

It depends on how long their attention spans are...

A kittycat can play with a ball of yawn -excuse me- yarn until infinity, but it's really hard to listen to a lecture about religion or science longer than 10 minutes.

I do...

michael3b's picture

...constipation: itsa baaad thing.

coaster- do you consider yourself religiously athiest?  j. krishnamurti, among many many brilliant things, said that the religious mind, the serious mind is the only one which can let go of god and all the other things, mental fragments, etc. that make us suffer.

in any case, there is no god. would you take a one in a 100 mukabillion chance on your life? pick a number between 1 and infinity. got it? it 18,756,286,999,131? No?

Sorry, you die.

Of course you wouldn't. Then why is it so easy for people to hop on the "prove to me there's no god" bandwagon? Because being able to say, since it is a simple true-false question, that there is a 50-50 chance of either being correct fuels and is fueld by self-righteousness. 

Really, only jesus knows for sure.


If there is a God then why does God allow all the suffering...

Rajah's picture

inthe world to take place?

A better question would be why do we allow it? We're suppose to have free will but some still hope an outside power will deliver us. When some one dies or a hurricane blows away your house they say "It was God's will". There's no guy in the sky looking down on us. If there is a God I believe it's an uncaring God. Do you worry about the microbes crawling around in your eye lashes? You probably didn't even know they were there til I mentioned it, sorry. Well it's the same with this God dude or dudette. There are millions of galaxies in this universe and probably many universeses. Do you really think a dude that's in charge of all that has time to deal with our petty problems? Yeah, God might as well not exist for all the good it would do us. Still it's nice to imagine there's a supreme being out there somewhere and I don't mean Diana Ross!

It's all relative

gamerarocks's picture

From what I understand, if god was all powerful then god could; if god was all good then he would.  If god solves all the problems at what point does free will not matter any longer?  If god is necessary then is evil necessary?

"God is a vivisectionist"

FearlessFreep's picture

CS Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) in SHADOWLANDS.


The artist formerly known as Zorro.

Chuck Norris has been dead for six years

Rajah's picture

But Death is too afraid to tell him

You're nothing

RidingFool's picture

but a bunch of ungodly heathens. Of course, if you're a heathen, what's with the ungodly modifier? Damned if I know, it just sounds better. Plus, the fundies understand it better. Or something. I don't know. I just know you're all a bunch of heathens. Oh, I already said that. Okay.


Coaster's picture

michael3b wrote:

Really, only jesus knows for sure.

I'm surprised that for all of his fame, there's not a shred of corroborating evidence that Jesus of Nazareth even existed.  All we have is a compilation of fanciful tales put together by the writers of the gospels between 40 and 140 years after the supposed crucifixion.  Therefore, many of the writers could not have even know Jesus.  As for the outside chance that some of the Gospel writers were personal buds of J.C, let me put it this way: How would you do today if asked to write in detail about speeches and events that occurred in 1968? 

Kind of makes me wonder if years from now, there will be a religion founded on the collected superhuman tales of Chuck Norris. 


You should be able to tell from my postings here that I'm rarely serious about anything connected with Religion. 

Coaster, Very, very few real

jazzdrive3's picture


Very, very few real historians who make their life's work the time of the first century think that Jesus didn't exist.  For every one, such as Ben Clayton (although his work still isn't taken that seriously), there are almost 50 others that have argued otherwise, and most of those DO NOT hold orthodox Christian views.  The truth is that there is pleny of corroborating evidence, but confirmation bias blinds certain people to this fact.  Ruling out the gospels flat out, for instance, is completely prejudicial.

"How would you do today if asked to write in detail about speeches and events that occurred in 1968? "

People who make statements like these have absolutely no idea of the role of oral history and storytelling during this period, particulary for the Jews.  Since most people couldn't read, this was the primary way of teaching and spreading news (I forget the name of the generally accepted definitive work on this subject, but I'm searching for it). These stories were obviously told and retold over and over again before they were finally written down.

And no, it's not like a game of telephone.  That's being willfully anachronistic.  Most rabbis had the entire old testament memorized word-for-word, and similar care was taken when passing on oral history, especially history that was "world-view changing", ie. Very very important to the ones telling it.

The ancients weren't as stupid as many of us post-Enlightenment like to beleive.

It's not so much whether or not he lived

gamerarocks's picture

it's whether or not the new testament is a book of parables.  Historians who acknowledge Mr Jesus existed also acknowledge that Mr Jesus wasn't the only one of his type running around that part of the world at the time.  There were more than a few prophets who performed interesting feats, were nailed up on crosses for them, and who were claimed to have been resurrected.  Mr Jesus may have simply had the best P.R. department.

There were more than a few

jazzdrive3's picture

There were more than a few prophets who performed interesting feats, were nailed up on crosses for them, and who were claimed to have been resurrected.

Name one.

There were certainly other people who claimed to be the Messiah, even as far as the 130's AD.  But they died horrible deaths, and as far as we know, not a single one of their followers claimed that Simon bar Kokhba or Judah had been resurrected.  Resurrection was unheard of.  People knew then, just as now, that dead people stay dead.

This is why, even in the book of Acts, the biggest point of contention and controversy is when someone claims that Jesus rose from the dead.


Zombies rise from the dead too

Rajah's picture

I suppose you're going to tell me they're not real either


gamerarocks's picture

For the life of me I can't find the book, but I'll keep poking around what library I have in front of me (having to have books in storage suck).  I do recall one prophet type who was supposedly crucified, rose from the dead, was visible to many onlookers and moved through walls.  (I don't recall though whether or not the moving through walls was done before or after death)  I believe he was from Alexandria but don't hold me to that.  There were others with similar stories about them.

As for the bible, Matthew 27 talks about the saints who arose and appeared to many others after Mr Jesus' resurrection.

Resurrection was a theme in a wide variety of religions at the time in Greece, Mesopotamia and Egypt, associated with their deities.

Please give me a

jazzdrive3's picture

Please give me a religion/myth and source.  And Mithras doesn't count.  There is no Mithras scholar in existance that thinks Jesus was even a remote copycat.  Only hacks wanting to sell books or sell movie tickets hold to the Mithras "theory", and they use horrible logic and reasoning, in some cases outright misdirection and lying.  And by scholar, I mean historians who claim Mithras and similar myths as their specialty.

As you'll find as you study most myths, especailly Grecian myths that the people in the first century would be most familiar with, is that when they talk about Resurrection, they are very clear that it CAN'T happen.  For example, when Apollo tries to bring back a child back from the dead, Zues punishes him with a thunderbolt. 

Virgil's Aeneid states in 6.127-31 that retracing one's steps back from the underworld and to life was impossible.

In the Illiad Achilles declares to Priam that he will be dead long before he could ever bring Hector back.  Similarily, Hector's mother declares that Achilles cannot raise up his dead companion Patroclus.

And this continues into the Athens dramatists.  In Aeschylus Eumenides, Apollo declares "Once a man has died, and the dust has soaked up his blood, there is no resurrection."

Many went further and denied the dead any existence. 

It wasn't just the realm of scolars and poets, but also common street-level wisdom, as seen in several popular anecdotes we have recorded.

This is just a small smattering.  And by small, I mean like 3% of what I could cite.

The immediate conclusion, however, is that Christianity was born into a world where it's central claim was KNOWN to be false.  Outside Judaism, nobody beleived in Resurrection.

The one possible exception would be Egypt, though it's not strictly relevent, since burial customs were not practiced in Palestine and the Osiris cult was in decline.  Augustine thought that mummification might hint at belief in bodily resurrection, it was more along the lines of death as opporutnity fullfillment, not something that needed to be reversed.  Egyptian beliefs are complicated, however, and I don't think anyone here would want to sit through a reading and explanation of the Books of the Dead

Suffice to say that mummifaction implied that the person is still alive, despite appearances.  A continued existence, but not bodily resurrection back into this life.

As for the role call of dying and rising deities, did any of the worshipers claim that a human or humans rose from the dead?  No.  All of these gods, like Adonis, Attis, Isis and Osiris, Dionysus, etc, were gods most people in the known world were familiar with. They knew the stories.  Nobody expected dead people or mummies to get up and walk around again.  No one wanted them too.

The god's death and resurrection was a metaphor of the cycle of seed-time and harvest and of human reproduction and fertility.  Again, at no point did anyone claim that a man died and then rose again to walk this earth in his same body, as resurrection meant during this time period.

Inside Judaism itself, where Christianity sprang forth, there is also NO sign of dying and rising gods and goddesses.  When they spoke of resurrection, it was not something they expected of their god YHWH. Nor was it something that happened over and over again.

Likewise the Christians, when speaking of the resurrection of Jesus, did not suppose it was somthing that took place every year, with the sowing and harvesting.

All this to show that the early Christians told a very different story from Adonis, etc.  Their answers to world-view questions radically different.  Their beliefs were simply not even on the same map.  Whatever the gods or crops might do, humans do not rise from the dead.   And their belief in his resurrection did not spring from thinking he was deity.  It was independant from that.

I've even heard he wasn't on the cross long enough

Rajah's picture

to kill him. If the Mel Gibson movie The Passion was accurate nailing him to the cross was unnecessary. He was beaten to hamburger before they put him on the cross.

Wasn't his girlfriend Mary who started the rumor that he had arisen? All you have are a few eyewitnesses who saw the dude walking around.  I think they wanted him to stand out from the other prophets so people would remember him and his words. It's  like the legend of Davey Crockett, the real man might not match the legend. Maybe his words are more important.

Girlfriend Mary?  No

jazzdrive3's picture

Girlfriend Mary?  No evidence for that, depsite what Dan Brown claims.  I suppose its possible, but there is no real reliable evidence to say so in the positive.

According to Paul you had over 500 eyewitnesses who saw him alive.  And it's hard to believe lowly, uneducated fisherman could convince anyone of anything, unless they had something to back it up.

And yes, if Jesus was indeed scourged before his crucifixion as the gospels claim, then there he would barely have any skin left on his back and would be closer to death than your normal crucifixion victim.

"I think they wanted him to stand out from the other prophets so people would remember him and his words. It's  like the legend of Davey Crockett, the real man might not match the legend. Maybe his words are more important."

This doesn't really hold up to what we know.  Early Christians were claiming that this Jesus was now king of the Earth, both Lord and Savior.  Lord and Savior were titles reserved for Ceasar, and Ceasar only.  So they were saying his authority trumped that of Ceasar's.

The counter-imperialist language in the New Testament is very striking, especially in Paul.

This didn't make any sense.  No Jew would go around claiming that a dead Messiah was now king.  A dead and crucified Messiah was a failed Messiah, pure and simple.  This is why all previous Messiah movements fell apart after their Messiah's death.  If the Messiah didn't lead Israel to overthrow the pagans/enemies and sit on a throne, he was a worthless Messiah.

And yet this is exactly what the early Christians were claiming that Jesus accomplished.

So SOMETHING happened for them to believe that.  And they claimed that he was resurrected, therefore reversing the sentence given him by Rome, and therefore vindicating himself as Messiah.  This is a crazy, radical claim.  But everything depended on it.  Like Paul says in 1 Corinthians, if Jesus was not raised, our faith is in vain, and we are to be pitied above all men.  Because it was the CENTRAL belief, the CENTRAL tenant and proof for them that Jesus was indeed Messiah and the promised king.

His words and actions would have been mostly meaningless if he had met his final day on the cross.






Paul never met Jesus btw

Rajah's picture

Yeah, he had a vision on the road to Damascus but that was after the business with the cross. Paul was a disciple after the fact. He wasn't one of the twelve.


jazzdrive3's picture

He still claims he saw him as Peter and the other apostles (and the other 500) saw him after his death.  He equates it. And it was enough to get him to convert and think that Jesus had bodily risen from the dead.  And he was heavily involved in the Jerusalem church during the earlier years after this conversion.

So he spent plenty of time with all of those folks.

Except that he hung around with a woman named Mary.

michael3b's picture

In any case, he was called Rabbi. And an unmarried Rabbi without children was unthinkable at the time. Some say the wedding at Cana was his.

Far as the resurrection thing goes, it is part and parcel of many esoteric groups that an initiate go through a "death" and "rebirth".  Many secret societies today do the same thing. Same same for the figurative "eating" of the guru's "flesh".  Some say this might account for the Lazarus incident.  So, if the 12 were thinking that this dude was the real deal to begin with, or that maybe he held the political sway they needed, then the Last Suppah and The Big Comeback would follow logically.

I don't care what anybody believes re: Jesus' true nature. The message he preached is clear and all well and good...but to look at the NT solely through the eyes of the converted is, in my opinion, to miss something.

There are two kinds of knowing

Rajah's picture

There's the kind you get for someone teaching you or from reading books. Then there's the kind that comes from experiencing it first hand. Now say I had one of those near death experiences. I come back and describe going through a tunnel and there's this bright light. Then I'm in heaven and blah blah blah etc. Now there's no way in hell I can convince you it happened and I saw the things I saw. And there would be no way in hell someone could convince me I didn't experience those things.

Exactly. But then what if

jazzdrive3's picture


But then what if 500 other people came out and said that yes, they saw exactly the same thing as Rajah.  And they began to completely change their lives because of what they saw.  People would be a little more likely to believe your story.

Replace "vision" or "near-death experience" with swearing they each personally saw and talked to a person that everyone KNEW was dead, and you'll start to understand where I'm coming from.

Being a Rabbi

jazzdrive3's picture

True, he was a rabbi, and followed the pattern fairly closely.  But he also redefined certain things, just as a big part of his ministry was redefining other Jewish symbols.  For one thing, he chose the dregs of Jewish society to be his disciples.  But I certainly don't rule out that me might have been married.  Who lays out the historical argument that the wedding at Cana was his?

Regarding resurrection, it's pretty clear that in the ancient world, resurrection meant one thing, and one thing only.  A reversal of death and the body coming alive.  The other clear things is that everyone, except the Jews, knew that it did not happen.

Far as the resurrection thing goes, it is part and parcel of many esoteric groups that an initiate go through a "death" and "rebirth".

It seems that baptism served this purpose for the early Christians, but it was a metaphorical acting out of Jesus's resurrection.  It had a concrete referrant.  Paul hints at this in both Romans and Colossians.

michael3b wrote:

to look at the NT solely through the eyes of the converted is, in my opinion, to miss something.

To look at it through the eyes of a typical first-century Jew is simply part of a good historical analysis.


michael3b's picture

jazzdrive3 wrote:

Who lays out the historical argument that the wedding at Cana was his?

Regarding resurrection, it's pretty clear that in the ancient world, resurrection meant one thing, and one thing only.  A reversal of death and the body coming alive.  The other clear things is that everyone, except the Jews, knew that it did not happen

To look at it through the eyes of a typical first-century Jew is simply part of a good historical analysis.

I forget where I read it, but someone said that he and mary wouldn't have been so big a deal, and he certainly wouldn't have been made aware of the wine shortage unless it was his wedding. I wasn't 100% convinced by the argument, but it isn't necessarily false, either.

How can resurrection have meant "one thing only" when it had a different, ritualistic meaning to egyptians and the essenes?

A first-century jew is not the same as the converted.

You've got all the answers

gamerarocks's picture

already, any facts or sources I site would be inconsequencial.  Enjoy the unwillingness to look at other information.

Eye witness evidence is the worse kind

Rajah's picture

One of the reasons most scientists won't take U.F.O.s seriously. Find a chunk of Jesus and you'll have something!

Science vs History

jazzdrive3's picture

We're not talking about science.  This is history.  Eyewitness testimony is about all history is.  Start discounting that, then you'll need to question just about every single assumption we have about anything that ever happened.

And like I said above, we discount the role and importance of oral history during this time period.  People would be careful to pass on important stories, verbatim, for the next generation.  It's not like someone unexpectedly witnessing a crime he doesn't really care about, and being fuzzy on the details.

This is a world-view changing story.  And from the evidence of how people treated important oral history, for us to dismiss it or treat it as simple "eyewitness testimony" is anachronistic and pretty disingenuous.

Far too often we fall into the trap of projecting our culture and world-view back on ancient texts and people, and that's where confusion comes from.


michael3b's picture

jazzdrive3 wrote:

We're not talking about science.  This is history.  Eyewitness testimony is about all history is.  Start discounting that, then you'll need to question just about every single assumption we have about anything that ever happened.

And like I said above, we discount the role and importance of oral history during this time period.  People would be careful to pass on important stories, verbatim, for the next generation.  It's not like someone unexpectedly witnessing a crime he doesn't really care about, and being fuzzy on the details.

This is a world-view changing story.  And from the evidence of how people treated important oral history, for us to dismiss it or treat it as simple "eyewitness testimony" is anachronistic and pretty disingenuous.

Far too often we fall into the trap of projecting our culture and world-view back on ancient texts and people, and that's where confusion comes from.


This is a bit absurd to me. You're saying that because these people (a very small group to begin with, who had a vested interest in their belief system) changed their lives that their word is gold?  One can't simply state that this whole Jesus business was nothing more than a deep religious experience and not at all a socio-political one and say that he is taking into consideration everything.  If I were a savvy political figure and knew, for example, that the OT predicted I'd show up on a donkey one day and everyone would greet me as a hero with palms, then maybe I'd rig such an occurence. Maybe.

And why shouldn't we question what we're told about any history which is not backed by scientific examination?  You know what they say about winners and the history books...

Vested interests

Rajah's picture

Come on, is this the kind of religion a commitee would design?

Should your enemy smack your cheek offer him the other cheek. WTF? What happened to the religion that gave me the right to smite my enemies? Now he's asking us to turn the other cheek? Sure this would work in kinky foreplay but not in battle!

Ye who is without sin cast the first stone. WTF again? I've been humping camels all day and I'm tired. Now he says I can't have any good ole entertainment? It's been ages since I've been to a good stoning!

Love thy neighbor. Geez, the Old Testament said we were the chosen ones and that we could kill our neighbors and take their land! Now we're suppose to be nonviolent and love them?

Give Caesar what is Caesar's. Oh, so now I'm suppose to be happy about paying taxes?

What's next dude? Are we to help lepers and the roadkill of this world? What happened to that religion that justified my lifestyle?


michael3b's picture

...but the masses are easily swayed into doing something against their best interests if enough self-righteous indignation is inspired.

Just ask the midwest.

It's hard to believe a thread about religion would reach 100

Rajah's picture

In this godless website

And to all you followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Rajah's picture

The cat ate your god

MY unwillingness? I can

jazzdrive3's picture

MY unwillingness?

I can gaurantee you I've pulled from every known ancient primary source on the subject and have laid out the data.  I'M not looking at other information?

All you did was give vague reference about resurrection in other religions.  I'm the one who cited which ones you most likely meant.

Sorry, that quick, easy accusation doesn't work with me, because it's simply not true.  Best just to admit you don't know what you're talking about.

Or do you have those facts and sources ready?  Please let me know.


Oh yeah

gamerarocks's picture

you're so right, I'm an illiterate moron with an IQ barely competing with my shoe size who knows zilch.  Since you're the one who can't read perhaps you'll take the time to try it again.  Buh bye.


jazzdrive3's picture

Again, not suprised to see that indeed you have no argument.  Here I thought we were discussing actual history and you were genuinely curious, but I guess not.  And it's really hilarious that you're the one accusing me of not reading.  Wow.

I guess it's more a matter of faith than anything else

Rajah's picture

But like I said before, the message he gave the world is more important. Whether he rose from the dead is irrelevant to me.

One of the things that bothers me about the Bible are the gospels that were excluded. Why include Paul's and exclude Thomas's? I'm more interested in another view of Jesus from someone who actually met him than someone's hallucination.

Since we are

gamerarocks's picture

why don't you ask the History Channel.  I'm not going to dig through my storage for it (as i stated and you ignored), but the History Channel and their biblical archeologists said the same thing, and something tells me they can 'site their sources'.

Resurrected: The Corroborating Evidence Argument

Coaster's picture

The majority of the populace in that corner of the Middle East was illiterate.  Hey, I live in Oklahoma, so I've experienced that first hand.  Yet, there were still plenty of literate people around.  Homer (Doh!) wrote the Iliad around 900 BC, Aesop wrote his fables and the 39 books which comprise the Hebrew Bible were compiled around 500 BC, and in year 15, the story of Romulus and Remus was published (I particularly liked the Zipity Doo-Dah song). (Time Line Link) I would have thought a miracle performing revolutionary prince of peace guy coming back to life after being tortured to death would have been huge:  This is the kind of thing one would definitely want to write about.  Of course if the poor dude bit it because of my sins, that could prove to be a bit embarrassing, but still, you'd think more than one person would have penned something memorable.  What gives?  Did St. Mark have a bad case of writers block for 40 years?  

I've actually got an open mind when it comes to corroboration of Christ's existence.  I followed closely the stories on Jesus' brother's ash box until it was proved a fake.  But I've yet to personally see anything that corroborated the existence of Christ outside of the gospels, the writers of which definitely having had a dog in that hunt.  An eye-witness account would have been nice, but I'm sure that was a big news day and there was much else going on.

The independent corroboration of Christ's existence is a matter of intellectual curiosity for me.  If and when Mary's scrap book is discovered chock full of Jesus memorabilia, written accounts, and Kodak snap shots, it still wouldn't matter one bit as far as my lack of belief in the supernatural is concerned. 

True, there were people who

jazzdrive3's picture

True, there were people who could read, but not as many for the original audience.  You start to see writings as the gospel begins spreading to the Gentiles, who were probably more prone to the written word.  Especially in cultural centers like Corinth where the population was more likely to be educated.

This is the kind of thing one would definitely want to write about.

But you aren't them, and they aren't you, and our culture looks nothing like theirs.  This is a big problem with a lot post-Enlightenment history.  We project too much of ourselves on them.  And maybe they did write some other things, we just don't have them.

And you're ignoring Paul, which even the most skepitcal historians must admit that 1 Corinthians and a few other epistles were written by him in the 50's AD.  And of course he wrote about Jesus, and about the apostle Peter and the other 500 witnesses.

If you want to argue whether or not he was actually raised from the dead, that's a valid objection.  Because dead people don't normally rise from the dead, and that's where the skepticism was leveled in the first century too. 

But it's a basic anachronism to deny Jesus even existed.  Like I said before, that argument is rarely taken seriously, because then your left stumbling for alternative explanations that get completely complicated and don't fit the data that well at all. Occom's razor. 

What fits the data best is that there was indeed a Jewish man name Jesus, who gathered a following who though he was a Prophet and Messiah (As mentioned before, this was common, so it shouldn't be too hard to believe, although Jesus's message, according to the gospels, was vastly different from the others).  Butfor some inexplicable reason his followers claimed he was really alive after he was crucified.

Take that away, and the explosive growth of this small Jewish sect, with was both similar and dissimilar (a common metric used to gauge authenticity) to regular Judaism, and the writings of Paul are almost impossible to make any sense out of without going through mental contortions and explanations that are nearly as unbelievable as resurrection itself.

Denying his existence simply shows that an atheists claim to pure "rationality" is as suseptible to confirmation bias as anything.  But the fact is that the gospels and the writings of Paul are important HISTORICAL documents, regardless of what some popular, historically-illiterate, mainstream quacks say (I'm looking at you Maher).

If you want a secular source, try Josephus's Antiquities.  Yes, the passage was definately altered by a later Christian apologist, but evidence suggests that the entire passage was not a later entry.  Eusebius quotes the whole things as-is in the year 324 AD. Origen mentions Josephus in 240 AD, but does not quote this passage, which of course makes it suspect.

The passage (likely later additions in bold):

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Although there is an earlier manuscript that instead says "He was BELIEVED to be the Christ." So maybe a verb just got lost along the way as well.  And of course Christ is simply a title, meaning "annointed", so it does not have to a be a profession of faith anyway.

Josephus also mentions him in passing in another passage that is not near as controversial, which Origen DOES mention, and is considered authentic by most scholars, when refering to James the brother of Jesus in Jerusalem.

Also look at Tacitus, the great Roman historian, who does not doubt his existence:

"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular."

I've heard the theory he may be a composite of many prophets

Rajah's picture

Of course I've heard the same thing said of Homer. We could have really used that library in Alexandria! Damn those roman pigs for burning it!

You should read "Another Roadside Attraction". One of the characters in that book found just the evidence you need in the catacombs under the Vatican. I'm puzzled why the early christians didn't save at least a chunk of him. It seems alot of churches in europe have their own chunk of saint under glass.

Here's a message for Coaster from Davey and Goliath

Rajah's picture

"No Rapture for you, Coaster!"

More than once

gamerarocks's picture

The Library in Alexandria was burned on multiple occasions.

Caesar was first acknowledged, but reports are conflicting as to what exactly was burned and the extent.

Aurelian may have split some of the surviving tomes.

Theododius I / Theophilus destroyed the Serapeum although what was there at the time is speculative.

Umar the Great stated that anything found would either be heresy or irrelevant when asked what to do about the library.

But the loss can't be changed, and what was lost is a tragedy to all.

It IS like a game of telephone

Agnostically Yours's picture

I can't even get the girl at the local Starbucks to remember that I want a nonfat mocha latte two seconds after I place my order. I highly doubt that these "enlightened" "educated" people managed to remember the entire old testament without including factual or interpretive errors. And why is the new testament necessary? And you mean to tell me that nothing in the Bible got lost in translation during it's many permutations...ever?

When I read the Bible, it seems to me that it comes from a bunch of people practicing memory games along the lines of:

Ok, I know the gist of this story but I don't remember all of the details so let me include a snake here and an ark there but you get my point...act like Jesus.

That's why the greatest comedic punchline shortcut is "...and the moral of the story is..." The set-up can be tweaked, but the "moral" is always the part that people remember. To interpret everything in the Bible is setting oneself up for folly.


Agnostically Yours's picture

I meant to write "To interpret everything in the Bible LITERALLY is setting oneself up for folly."

Damn, my meaning even got twisted during the admittedly short journey between my head and my fingers...

A deep coma was not understood in ancient times

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

All that zombie and resurrection stuff probably came from people who were thought to be dead, but were in fact in a deep coma.  If they awoke, people 2000 years ago - or even 140 years ago - thought it was a miracle or black magic.


 {;-) Dan in Miami 

PS:  Trying to figure out what miracles happened 2000 years ago is impossible.  Most of the time we can't figure out what happened inside cults that were in existence 2 years ago.


PPS:  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.


I have a theory on that walking on water bit

Rajah's picture

Jesus was a carpenter, right? Well, he carved himself a pair of water skies. Hmmm, that might look more like running on water. Oh well, to ancient eyes it would still look amazing. And that thing about feeding thousands with just a few loaves of bread and fish that's just good catering! The turning water to wine is a bit harder. Maybe there was an ancient form of Kool-Aid or something.


Back to the death thing : it use to be people had it rigged so they could ring a bell on the surface should they be buried alive. Now thanks to embalming that's nolonger possible also we have better ways of determining death now. The only creatures I know that rise from the dead are vampires and zombies. I wonder was Jesus hinting at that with that stuff about this wine is my blood drink it down and this bread is my body eat it up. Geez, what was he doing promoting vampirism or cannibalism?

Geez, what was he doing

jazzdrive3's picture

Geez, what was he doing promoting vampirism or cannibalism?

Ha! I think it was Pliny the Younger that made the same claim of Christians.  Well, not the vampirism part. They were looked down upon during a certain period of time as some weird form of cannibals indeed.


Agnostically Yours's picture

My dad visited some cities that are known to be the same areas mentioned in the Bible...

He told me about how one of those cities is known for its pools of mineral water. Well you know what happens in mineral water - things float! Jesus may have been stepping on some items that have great buoyancy. :)

And my dad also said there are really mounds and mounds of salt in...forgot the name of the place where Lot's wife supposedly turned into a pillar of salt.

Maybe the Biblical authors were practicing the age-old tradition of lying to get people in line, like those stories parents tell their children to get them to behave: "you keep rolling your eyes and they're gonna get stuck that way!" turns into "if you don't obey me, you're gonna turn into salt!" => "This one time...Lot's wife looked back and totally turned into a pillar of salt, so don't turn around!"

Speaking of the premature burial

FearlessFreep's picture

Someone on Youtube took funeral footage of James Brown lying in his coffin and used animation to show him coming to and screaming "I'M NOT DEAD!"


The artist formerly known as Zorro.

I think here's another

jazzdrive3's picture

I think here's another example of cultural bias and elitism (post-Enlightenment thinking).  We don't give the ancients enough credit.

We have proof that the Egyptians performed brain surgery hundreds of years before Rome, and that the patients survived and lived years afterward!  They knew more than we often assume.  Who knows what knowledge such as this was lost after the fall of Rome.

But consider this thought experiment. A Roman soldier, the most deadly soldier to ever walk the earth up to that time, trained in the arts of death as no other, would be in charge of overseeing a crucifixion.  This soldier would know if someone was dead or not.  If he messed up, and the enemy of Ceasar did not die on the cross, his life would be at risk.

Culteral elitism

Coaster's picture

jazzdrive3 wrote:

We don't give the ancients enough credit.

I know what you mean.  The greatest teacher/miracle worker who ever lived supposedly lived among a bunch of people, including 500 who saw him rise from the dead, yet nobody thought to write about him until 40 years after his death.  Back then, 40 years was more than a lifetime.  Chances are most of the gospel writers had not only never met Jesus, but that if Jesus had existed, they hadn't been born until after his death. 

I'd like to give the ancient people of that time more credit than that.  I can only imagine what went on then:  "Hey, what are you doing with that parchment and ink?  Don't ya know we got us an oral tradition?" 

Just who is it here who is being overly selective about what constitutes evidence?  You've read all of the ancient texts of that time but have you discounted the Talmud?  The Talmud mentions a Christ in 2 BC.  That would seem to me to lent credence to the theory that the Jesus Christ of modern fame was a composite.  Back in a Religulous thread, you've also discounted the tales mentioned by Maher of other religious figures having been born of virgins.  It would seem to me, that where the origins of Christianity are concerned, there's enough cultural bias to go around.

If Jesus really wanted to spread The Word, he would have stuck around and done a bit more preaching after his resurrection.  But I don't blame him for leaving, 'cause personally if it were me, getting crucified once would have been more than enough. 

I would credit Emperor Constantine with the survival of Christia

Rajah's picture

nity. Without his support this cult would have died on the vine.

Coaster according to Roman law

Rajah's picture

You survive one crucifixion they can't crucify you again

okay, I made that up

It probably wouldn't have

jazzdrive3's picture

It probably wouldn't have died out.  It had already been through hell and fire and almost always came out stronger on the other side.

You can easily credit Constanstine, however, with the sheer power the Catholic Church had to fill in the vaccuum for centuries after the fall of Rome.

Coaster, I have read parts

jazzdrive3's picture


I have read parts of the Talmud.  And Christ is simply the greek word for Messiah, meaning "annointed", perhaps signifying royalty.  It had no connotation of divinity until later.

The Christ the talmud mentions in the 2nd century is Simon Bar-Kochba (bar kosiba), who I've already mentioned.  He was proclaimed Messiah by Akiba, by tradition.

Again, Christ is just a descriptive word.  Nothing really special about it until much later.

Chances are most of the gospel writers had not only never met Jesus, but that if Jesus had existed, they hadn't been born until after his death.

Where exactly are you getting your "chances?" You might be able to make part of that claim for John, but with the synoptics it's very hard to do so, because you have the gospel of Luke, who most probably did live during the time.

I have no illusions of convincing anyone of anything, other than trying to get across the point that things aren't always as clear cut and simple as they seem.  And that there is overwhleming historical precedent for the existence of the man Jesus, which started all of this crazy discussion.

you've also discounted the tales mentioned by Maher of other religious figures having been born of virgins

Because Maher seems to be one of the worst in this regard.  What sources does he cite, what writers does he draw from?  He came across as dismissing the ancients out of hand, because they easily believed in a bunch of things WE THINK of as silly now.  Of course, that's not true.  They knew where babies came from, and they knew that dead people didn't come back to life.  Any claim otherwise would have been looked on as shocking and unbelievable.  And they were ineed looked on like that.  Where's his proof?  And again, who is he citing? I'd be happy and eager to look into it.

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