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Old 05-01-2001, 02:39 PM   #21
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bookman:
Quote:
Originally posted by Layman:
How about you start finding me some historians who agree with Doherty?

It is humorous that you, a fan of Doherty, accuse me of not appreciating the scientific method. The whole point of this thread has been that skeptics do not appreciate the study of history. And every skeptic response just confirms that point.
</font>
(emphasis mine)

If you could, please be more judicious with your application of that particular broad brush. I consider myself a skeptic, and I don't think that that sweeping generalization applies to me.
Thanks!
Bookman

P.S. This request is personal, and has nothing to do with my status as a moderator.

[This message has been edited by Bookman (edited May 01, 2001).]
Yes it was too broad of a statement.
 
Old 05-01-2001, 02:41 PM   #22
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Let me try to look at this from a bit of a different angle.

Personally, I have no great feelings one way or the other if Jesus is historical or not. To me that doesn't really afect the way I think about Christianity.

Having said this, one reason I can see for people to take the idea that he never existed seriously, may well be the very existence of the claims that he was divine, son of god, miracle worker etc. etc. If those claims would not be made, there would not be very much special about the guy, and a debate on his existence would probably hardly get off the ground....just like all those threads of the existence of Caesar .

It is exactly this attribution of divinity, and miracles etc, that makes the whole thing suspect. From a skeptical point of view, it is far more likely that those claims are made up to push an agenda (intentionally, or in good faith, I am not going there right now) than that the claims have a basis in reality.

And once the doubt sets in, where does it end? If the most essential attributes of the man are made up, why not the man himself too? Even stronger, who actually needs a real man if we are going to blow him up out of all proportion and transform him into a God?

Such arguments do not really apply to other characters in history who, whatever else is claimed about them, are still just humans. Even if Caesar's political skills, or his generalship, or his deviousness, are vastly exaggerated by the writers, they still need an underlying real person to make sense out of their history.

Not so for God-made-man.

Does this make sense at all?

fG

 
Old 05-01-2001, 03:11 PM   #23
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by faded_Glory:

Having said this, one reason I can see for people to take the idea that he never existed seriously, may well be the very existence of the claims that he was divine, son of god, miracle worker etc. etc. If those claims would not be made, there would not be very much special about the guy, and a debate on his existence would probably hardly get off the ground....just like all those threads of the existence of Caesar .</font>
This is why I brought up the point that at the time he died, Julius WAS declared to be divine, and was made a god by the Senate. The fact that no one believes he actually was a god any longer does not change this historical fact. So the problem becomes that the hyper sceptic is playing a double standard here. You cannot say that just because some today thinks that someone in the past is a god means you personally doubt that this person ever existed at all. Such beliefs are ludicrous, and require sceptics to ignore all of the evidence available to them.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">It is exactly this attribution of divinity, and miracles etc, that makes the whole thing suspect. From a skeptical point of view, it is far more likely that those claims are made up to push an agenda (intentionally, or in good faith, I am not going there right now) than that the claims have a basis in reality.</font>
Once again, no one on this thread is making any claims about the miraculous claims of Jesus' (or Julius') life. The ordinary and mundane facts of his life, can, however, be established, and with as much (or more) certainty than the events of virtually any other person from aniquity.

To doubt the mundane because you reject the miraculous is nonsensical. Do you reject the existence of Cleopatra or Ramses? Julius or Augustus Caesar? These people have been called divine in the past.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">And once the doubt sets in, where does it end?</font>
Yeah, this is a problem of discernment however. Sceptical scholars have been able to separate the man of legend and faith from the man of history. It is not hard to do.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If the most essential attributes of the man are made up, why not the man himself too?</font>
Why?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Even stronger, who actually needs a real man if we are going to blow him up out of all proportion and transform him into a God?</font>
Why is this relavent? True, without Jesus, there is no Christianity, but at the same time, if there is no Jesus of history, all sorts of other problems come up, and one is left trying to avoid or rationalize the evidence we have for the man.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Such arguments do not really apply to other characters in history who, whatever else is claimed about them, are still just humans.</font>
again. They were claimed to be divine though. Why does the fact that people no longer believe that they are divine make their historicity more likely?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Even if Caesar's political skills, or his generalship, or his deviousness, are vastly exaggerated by the writers, they still need an underlying real person to make sense out of their history.</font>
Agreed. The same holds true with Jesus and early Christianity. If He wasn't real, then the religion's existence becomes inexplicable.

Thanks for the reply fG, but I hope you can see why trying to use the idea that the divine claims for a man cannot be used to reject the idea that he never existed at all. That question must be answered based on the evidence, not on what we want to believe.

Nomad
 
Old 05-01-2001, 04:07 PM   #24
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Nomad,

It would be better if you didn't take this shotgun approach of replying to each of my sentences separately, but rather respond to my position as a whole.

Doubting someone's existence because of his alleged divinity is not the issue here. Dobting his existence because the available sources only exist because of his alleged divinity is the issue.

What I am trying to say is that Jesus without the divine attributes is nothing. He requires those attributes. Without them, why would anyone ever have writtten about him in the first place?

Not so Caesar, or the other examples you mentioned. Without the 'god' embellishment, they are still essential characters for history to make sense. In their case it is quite plausible to accept their reality because that is in no way contingent on their supposed divinity.

I do not reject the reality of Caesar, or Ramses, because they are important figures in ancient society, whose alleged divinity has nothing to do with the reasons we think they have existed. But, having doubt about the historicity of Jesus is not so ludicrous as you claim, simply because without his alleged divinity none of the sources you have to base his historicity on, would exist!

There is no double standard here. Caesar was real, irrespective of him being a god or not. Jesus may or may not have been real, but we can't really know for sure because he needs his divine attributes - or else he would not have been documented by anyone. Trying to separate his divine attributes from his historicity is very tricky because we wouldn't know about him had he not been considered god.

Clearer now?

fG

 
Old 05-01-2001, 04:10 PM   #25
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Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The assassination of Julius Caesar is a far less extraordinary claim than a man rising from the dead.

I don't know why I even bother, I really don't...
 
Old 05-01-2001, 04:12 PM   #26
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by gcameron:
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The assassination of Julius Caesar is a far less extraordinary claim than a man rising from the dead.

I don't know why I even bother, I really don't...
</font>
First bother to read the thread carefully. Nomad and I have made it clear that we are talking about the non-extraordinary events in Jesus' life.
 
Old 05-01-2001, 05:34 PM   #27
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Layman/Nomad: Several things here. From what I recall reading of Roman history, the Caesar's weren't declared divine until quite a bit down the line (I want to say Augustus or later). Julius himself was very pragmatic and what I remember of my readings of that history was also one of the chief priests of the Roman religion. I don't know where you're getting the miracles and stuff, but I think those legends are just that.

I had two college courses in Roman history and I don't remember this. I'll see what I can find, but I do question where you're coming from there.

I would also request clarification here. Are you asking if Jesus a "man" existed or Jesus the "bible myth" existed? Because I truly think they are two different answers.

The man is a possibility. I don't think we can know the details due to just how long ago and how poor the record is as well as its truthfulness. We are all but certain the early church engaged in alterations of records and destroying those they didn't like--so how can we even imagine any of these records hold any level of integrity?

I will grant you it is possible Jesus the man existed. Jesus of the bible--myth. Period. This gets back to Paine's "Outrageous claims require outrageous proofs". Which are simply not available. You can take them on faith--but that is absolutely it. Probably the reason most of us do NOT is the dishonesty and cruelity of the Christian religion. We simply do not trust it and will require it to go the extra mile to "prove" its the good guy and not the wolf in sheep's clothing?

Double standard? Maybe. But when an organization collectively called the Christian church is associated with so much bad, caution is absolutely called for.

Put it this way. You have two organizations. One has a 2000 year past of murdering those it doesn't like, converting at sword point, and so on. The other doesn't.

Are you fool enough to trust them equally?
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Old 05-01-2001, 05:40 PM   #28
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Lance,

So it is a sliding scale. The evidence is not what is important. Stopping Christianity is what is important.

Thank you for the clarification.
 
Old 05-01-2001, 06:20 PM   #29
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
. . .
Are you saying that I cannot find historians who believe in historical other historical events the same way I, as a Christian, believe in Christ? No, and I would not expect to. My faith in Christ is not just a product of my study of history. It is a present reality.
</font>
This is my point exactly. Belief that Caesar was assassinated is qualitatively different from "belief" in Jesus.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
But that is not what Nomad was arguing for, nor was it the source of my frustration. We were specifically discussing the nonextraordinary claims bout Jesus' life, which so many skeptics claim are unsupported.
So I don't know why you even bring up this last statement, expect it seems to be the pattern of many skeptics to retreat to that mantra anytime they start losing a debate about history.
Quote:
</font>
I don't know why I bother. I haven't noticed any skeptics losing any debates about history.

If your belief in Christ is not based on history, what difference does history make?

Do I have to "believe" in the non-mythological parts of Homer? How about the ordinary parts of Grim's fairy tales? The more realistic parts of Star Wars?

What basis do you have for separating the Gospels into two parts, one not believable by skeptics because it involves supernatural elements - and the other which has no supernatural elements, that we have to believe? Is the purpose to then get us to bootstrap our belief in the supernatural on the non-extraordinary claims, a la Josh McDowell? This must be the hidden agenda. Except it won't work. It's a house of cards.
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Old 05-01-2001, 06:32 PM   #30
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> This is my point exactly. Belief that Caesar was assassinated is qualitatively different from "belief" in Jesus. </font>
Why do you bother? I don't know. But from what I have seen of your posts you actually don't bother very hard.

You seem to intentionally distort my point. As should have been clear to you, I was not discussing "belief" in Jesus, I was discussing my faith in Christ.

Does History inform my faith? Yes. Is it all that my faith is? No.

Does that give you an excuse to claim that every assertion I make about Jesus must be supported by "extraordinary evidence" no matter how ordinary the specific claim being made? Not for any reason I can tell. It's just a clever debating technique that allows you to appear "appropriately skeptical" while flushing most of our historical knowledge down the toilet.

If you don't want to discuss history then why do you post here Toto?
 
 

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