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9 Things Salon.com Gets Wrong About Jesus

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Salon.com recently published an article by former Evangelical-turned-freethinker Valerie Tarico titled "9 things you think you know about Jesus that are probably wrong".

There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking contained in her arguments, but they’ve been making the rounds in social media, and therefore worthy of a response. Below I respond to each of her major points.

1. Jesus was married, not single.

This tired old claim has seemingly been refuted more times than the earth has revolved around the sun, but Tarico backs it up with a rather recent discovery:

"When an ancient papyrus scrap was found in 2014 referring to the wife of Jesus, some Catholics and Evangelicals were scandalized. But unlike the Catholic Church, Jews have no tradition of celibacy among religious leaders."

The papyrus she refers to is known as The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Catholics and Evangelicals might have been scandalized by this if it was authentic, but it’s not. Owen Jarus of Livescience explains that “a growing number of scholars have denounced the business card-sized papyrus as a fake.”

Furthermore, the fact that ancient Jews had no tradition of celibacy among their religious leaders is irrelevant. Jesus was often at odds with the religious leaders of his time, and it is precisely because of him that the Catholic Church has a tradition of clerical celibacy. In Matthew 19, the disciples proclaim to Jesus that it is better not to marry, to which he responds, “He who is able to accept it, let him accept it” (Mt. 19:10-12).

2. Jesus had cropped hair, not long.

Tarico claims the traditional imagery of a long-haired Jesus is most certainly wrong. As backup, she refers to 1 Corinthians 11:14 where Paul writes, “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?”

How long is long? To understand Paul’s words here, we need to evaluate them in their cultural context.

When I was in high school, I remember seeing old pictures of the Beatles on their album covers from my mom’s collection. She told me that the length of their hair was considered long at that time. In those days, I laughed and thought, “That’s not long!” It was the late 1980’s and my hair was down to the middle of my back. What is considered long depends entirely on cultural context.

As further evidence for this claim, Tarico points to an ancient Roman depiction of Jewish men with short hair. If you look closely at the picture, two of the men have shoulder-length hair. What’s even more telling is that not a single one of them has a beard, but we know Jewish men of that time wore beards. It is more likely that the men are depicted this way because that was the cultural norm among first-century Romans, and not because it was necessarily representative of Jewish practice in the area where Jesus lived.

3. Jesus was hung on a pole, not a cross.

Tarico points out that the Greek work “stauros,” which is translated into English as “cross,” can also refer to a number of other shapes. Fair enough. But she also claims that the early Christians may have adopted the shape of the cross because it echoed shapes used by pagan religions of the time.

I’m skeptical of any argument claiming early Christians borrowed this or that custom from a contemporary pagan religion. In my own research I have found these supposed connections to be tenuous or even outright bogus. We know that some people in first-century Rome were crucified the same way Jesus has traditionally been depicted (cf. Seneca the Younger, “To Marcia on Consolation", in Moral Essays, 6.20), so there is no good reason to believe that Christians adopted this motif. It’s more likely that the traditional account is the correct one.

Tarico’s argument is also popular among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Fellow Strange Notions contributor Trent Horn has written a more detailed piece on this which you can read here.

4. Jesus was short, not tall.

Tarico points out that the typical Jewish male in the Roman Empire was just over five feet tall. Jesus is often depicted in traditional art being taller than the people around him.

This doesn’t mean he was a giant like Kim Jong Il’s super soldier. It just may have been that he was somewhat taller than the average Jew of his day. Either way, there is no evidence to support Tarico’s claim that Jesus must have been a short man.

5. Jesus was born in a house, not a stable.

Tarico writes:

"The miraculous birth story of Jesus is a late, maybe second-century addition to the Bible, and it contains many fascinating mythic elements and peculiarities. But the idea that Jesus was born in a stable was added to the Christmas story even later. In the original narrative, Joseph and Mary probably would have stayed with relatives, and the phrase 'no room for them in the inn (gr: kataluma)' is better translated 'no room for them in the upper room.'"

She is correct that “kataluma” is properly translated as “upper room.” It may not have been a stable in the sense that it was a separate structure used for housing animals only, but it was an area where animals were kept and cared for. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains:

"Mary laid her newborn child in a manger (cf. Lk 2:7). From this detail it has been correctly deduced that Jesus was born in a stable, in an inhospitable—one might even say unworthy—place." (Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives, p. 67).

Tarico is wrong, however, when she claims to know that the birth narrative is a late second-century addition to Luke’s Gospel. Luke 2:7 (the verse in question) can be found in Payrus 4, which dates from the early to middle second century. It’s safe to assume that this fragment was copied from an earlier manuscript, and there is no compelling evidence that the narrative was not part of the original.

6. He was named Joshua, not Jesus.

Tarico points out that Joshua and Jesus are the same name translated differently in English to distinguish between the Joshua of the Old Testament and the Jesus of the New Testament. But both names are Anglicizations of Yeshua. So he wasn’t technically named Joshua or Jesus.

Wikipedia has an explanation of the etymology of the name "Jesus" which you can read here.

7. The number of apostles (12) comes from astrology, not history.

Tarico claims that the number of apostles was probably chosen due to pagan influence:

"Astrotheology or star worship preceded the Hebrew religion, and shaped both the Bible and world religions more broadly. One might point to the 12 Olympian gods or 12 sons of Odin, or 12 days of Christmas or 12 'legitimate' successors to the prophet Mohammed."

The only evidence we have to indicate why Jesus chose twelve men to be the first apostles is related to the Twelve Tribes of Israel without reference to astrology (cf. Mt. 19:28). Furthermore, the number twelve is significant in many cultures, but that doesn’t mean that any one borrowed it from another. For example, the Twelve Nidānas in Buddhism identify the origins of suffering and ignorance, yet most scholars would not point to any causal relationship between early Buddhism and the pagan religions of the Romans (cf. Ronald H. Nash, The Gospel and the Greeks, p. 168).

8. The prophecies about Jesus were recalled, not foretold.

Tarico’s claim here is that the Gospel writers would have been intimately familiar with the prophecies in the Old Testament, and so they could have shaped their stories around earlier predictions. I don’t believe the authors shaped their stories around the Old Testament prophecies, but I do believe many of the prophecies were recalled by the authors to demonstrate how they had been fulfilled.

There are other prophecies of Jesus that did come to pass which did not appear in the Old Testament. For example, Jesus foretold the destruction of the Jewish temple. In 70 AD it came to pass. Some may argue this was also recalled by the Gospel writers, but this comes from a purely skeptical point of view that casts doubt on everything Jesus said. This brings us to Tarico’s final argument:

9. Some quotes are not from Jesus; others are uncertain.

Tarico takes a very skeptical approach to the sayings of Jesus in the Gospels. She explains, “no technology existed with which to record his teachings in real time, unless he wrote them down himself, which he didn’t.” It’s true that Jesus didn’t write anything down, but this should not be surprising given he lived in a primarily oral culture.

One passage she points to is the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). It’s true that many scholars believe this passage was likely added to the text at a later time. Most modern Bibles place the passage in brackets and include a footnote explaining that it does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. But as Professor Dr. Michael Barber explains, “It should be mentioned, however, that even many scholars who see the story as a secondary addition to the Gospel still believe that it relates a historical memory of Jesus.”

Regardless, this is not by itself a reason to doubt all (or even most) of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the Gospels.

Conclusion

In fairness, Tarico admits that these points are trivial—and they are. But her larger point is that she believes most of what we know about Jesus is probably wrong. As I've illustrated here, there are reasonable responses to every point she brings up.
 
 
(Image credit: Salon)

Jon Sorensen

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Jon Sorensen is the Director of Marketing for Catholic Answers, the largest lay-run apostolate of Catholic apologetics and evangelization in the United States. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 3D Animation and Visual Communications in 2004 from Platt College, Ontario. Before coming to Catholic Answers, he worked in the automotive industry producing television commercials and corporate video. He has also produced motion graphics for several feature-length films. Follow Jon through his website, JonSorenson.net.

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  • Mike

    You could've just said it's a piece about Christianity and it appeared in SALON! ;)

    • William Davis

      Yeah, salon is on the bottom of the list of places to go for historical knowledge.

  • James C. Elliott

    Q. How do we know without a calendar that we are close to a Christian Holy Day?
    A. The media is rife with articles and specials saying Jesus wasn't who Christians believe He was/is.
    Thankfully theirs is the speculation. We have history on our side, as Jon demonstrates in this article.

  • Mila

    So a papyrus that after radiocarbon dating suggests to be between the sixth and ninth centuries A.D. is what they are using to make their claims?
    Don't they get tired of these myths they are trying to create? Who would even believe this?

    • David

      Jesus is the biggest myth of them all.

      • Mike

        I hope for your sake you're right! ;)

        • William Davis

          I'm confident Jesus existed, but I'm also confident Hell came from the imagination of man.

          • Mike

            the existence of hell is what 'helped' me to become a christian - i wanted justice too much.

          • William Davis

            Justice for what?

          • Mike

            for humanity for us poor victims of injustice.

          • William Davis

            Fascinating. The main reason I am NOT a Christian is Hell. Hell is not justice, it is revenge. People in the time of Christ muddled the two, and we have come a long way since then. It is obvious to me that Hell is simply a product of the time it was created and human nature. Revenge is inherently unjust, here is pretty good article on the difference:

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201402/don-t-confuse-revenge-justice-five-key-differences

          • Mike

            i don't believe that justice is possible without the negative side of the equation - don't mistake hell for hollywood depictions of HELL and brimstone etc.

            it came down to such a deep deep thirst for things to be put right for every tear to be wiped away and yes for the wicked to be punished in some way - which way i don't know but at least to fully "see" the consequences of their actions, of our sinfulness of my sinfulness - i began to realize that i was no different in kind only in degree and that what this world was "really" about was not "material" or "physics" or whatever but precisely about right and wrong - i realized that the rest is just window dressing and that we are living in a moral universe a great moral drama of cosmic proportions, a real morality play of sorts...anyway something like that.

          • William Davis

            In justice, punishment is about correction, getting the "wicked" to mend their ways. Once they are dead, it's too late, shows over. Anything after death is just revenge.
            What you are getting at is the important of MEANING. Meaning is very important, and Christianity can provide a lot of meaning for people, I have no doubt that. Science is inherently divorced of meaning for objectivity, so we can't go to it for meaning. I prefer philosophy for meaning, and a lot of good philosophy has come out of Christianity.
            I get that hell can incentive a lot of people to do the right thing, but I think there are much better ways of doing that, and some of them are in Christianity.
            For those of us who have good reason to doubt anyway, hell is the tree trunk that "broke the camels back". Just my 2 cents :)

          • Mike

            why is before death ok but after it is revenge ie "bad"? if anything after its "proportionate"/perfect whereas "here" it is imperfect and therefore can be cruel.

            i think i know what it is about hell that freaks you folks out: eternity: that no crime no matter how depraved can justify an eternal punishment no matter how "soft" that punishment is. And so therefore as Christianity is nothing w/o afterlife it must be false OR the deprave caricature you folks like to make it out to be. Is this a fair summary?

          • William Davis

            It is not a fair summary. Think about it this way, all of the Nazis were evil. What is different between me and a Nazi? I was born in 1981, in the U.S, not in Germany around 1920 (so I'd be a very impressionable youth at the height of the Nazi regime). Would I have been a German in protest of the Nazi's? Maybe...maybe not. If I were born then I would not be me. This imperfect experiment with life is SUPPOSED to be over when we die. The afterlife is grasping after something that was never meant to be. It is a direct result of the survival instinct, and an unwillingness to accept impermanence of life. I accept that God has given me one life to live, and I should use it wisely to make the world a better place for all of humanity. This is a humble submission to the world God has created, nothing more, nothing less. It is an acceptance of reality with an open heart, and open mind.

          • Mike

            it sounds like you are appealing to your humble vanity/vain humility? is this a kind of "humble brag"?

            plus your characterization sounds again to me like something "buddhist" or "islamic" house of submission like, like a kind of despair.

            did i mention that i think that by far most 'atheists' are atheists not bc of any 'scientific' evidence but bc they come to a conclusion that they/their ideas are MORE not less moral than "god's"/the church's? in my experience 'atheists' are obsessed with morality/right and wrong and that and only that leads them to reject traditional morality and therefore god.

          • William Davis

            Modern morality has evolved past Christianity? Exactly! Christianity expressed a more evolved morality than Judaism. Now it is time to move past Christianity. One step at a time :) I'm glad we're on the same page. It's ok that some people like you have a less evolved morality, it isn't like these things evolve evenly, lol.

          • Mike

            maybe i am on the "wrong side of history"? maybe there is some force that is moving all of us in some more progressive direction where everyone will FINALLY be tolerant, progressive and just basically more "good", better, MORE christ like not less?

          • William Davis

            I can agree with that. I will say from the bottom of my heart, that my intentions are pure. I do not want to believe what makes me feel good, but what is true. I do not presuppose I know what is true, but only evidence and reason (combined with an open mind and noble intentions) can lead me to what is true. If I err, God knows my heart. If God judges, I know he will judge me justly. This is the core of my faith. I hope you know I have not taken this lightly, I have been diligent in my pursuit of truth since I was young. Am I perfect? Absolutely not, but we are inherently imperfect beings. It is who we are.

          • Mike

            sounds like to you maybe it's good vs. true. just seems kinda auspicious to me that you should kind of reduce the 'struggle' to good vs. true: i will reject what feels good to me if it isn't true - but what if what truth reveals to you as true is not good? it can work both ways no?

          • William Davis

            It seems you now agree that Christianity isn't good (you're pitting good vs true). Seems like progress. If you want to know why Christianity isn't true. Look at my comment history. It is absurdly long, and FULL of reason why Christianity isn't true. Has Christianity been useful? Absolutely. Is there good in Christianity? Yes. But is it completely true? Absolutely not.
            It does, however, provide a good theory of meaning that helps a lot of people. I'm not saying I have all the answers, but I am saying Christianity doesn't either.

          • Mike

            i think that christianity (RCC) may not have all the answers but if it doesn't have them nobody does.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So, what does the RCC have to say about gravitation? Seriously, there are many answers that the RCC church does not have that we have found through other methods.

          • Mike

            what a bizarre example to bring up: gravity! who cares about it when we can't even figure out how to provide every child with a stable loving home!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You said that if Roman Catholicism did not have an answer to a question than nobody does. I pointed out that Science gives us answers and predictions that Roman Catholicism never could.

            who cares about it when we can't even figure out how to provide every child with a stable loving home

            Some of us non-Catholics think our homosexual brothers and sisters could help in that regard.

          • Mike

            all kids deserve DIVERSITY! Male AND female: MOMMY and DADDY; if you want to deny that i'd make really sure God doesn't exist for your sake!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Kids deserve two parents. Evidence says that committed homosexual couples can make very good parents.
            God is going to punish me for thinking in accord with the evidence? Or is God going to punish me for supporting equality?

          • Mike

            Denying children a mom or dad is a gross injustice and morally reprehensible - you take your chances with God!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Why?
            Two gay parents do just as good of a job.

          • Mike

            ok, best of luck.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So are you going to stop making that claim since you cannot evidence it?

          • Mike

            you are distorting the teaching on purpose hoping to snare some unsuspecting catholic into doubt...you know what jc said about putting roadblocks to faith!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That is not what I am doing. I am talking about the Church teaching as I understand it. You have been unable to show that I am wrong. David and myself have cited various church documents, which is something you have not done.

            you know what jc said about putting roadblocks to faith!

            there you go again. Threatening Divine retribution on the poor unbeliever.

            I would say that the comments by the Catholics here are more likely to convince a doubting catholic to leave the faith than anything I could say.

            Edit: Wrong words

          • Mike

            you know very well that the mortal sin had NOTHING to do with meat or fridays but you on purpose pretend that you don't to create a false impression of a craven institution interested in trivialities. that's distorting teaching on purpose to create scandal in unsuspecting catholics.

            i am not threatening i am giving you fair warning trying to help you.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Eating meat on Friday's in lent is grave matter. If it is done with consent and knowledge then it is a mortal sin. Both myself and David have referenced Church documents to that effect. Do you have any Church documents saying that it is not grave matter?

            The Church is an institution focused on trivialities. One of those trivialities is eating meat on a Friday. Another is wearing condoms. Still another is missing mass on Sunday.

            I am not purposely distorting teaching. If I am wrong in my interpretation, all you have to do is show me, with relevant church documents, and I will admit that I am in error.

            i am not threatening i am giving you fair warning trying to help you

            I don't think an all-good God considers any of these things worthy of eternal punishment. The Catholic Church does. That is one reason why I disagree with the Catholic Church.

          • Mike

            You know perfectly well that Meat and Friday have NOTHING to do with the mortal sin but you continue to pretend that you don't. David knows exactly what the issue is so check out his comment but i know you know.

            If you put up fake obstacles to ppl's faith on purpose like you are doing you will have to account for that.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You know perfectly well that Meat and Friday have NOTHING to do with the
            mortal sin but you continue to pretend that you don't. David knows
            exactly what the issue is so check out his comment but i know you know

            Mike, all you have to do is cite the relevant church teaching or find an apologist that agrees with you. As far as I can tell, David agrees with me. Eating meat on Friday's during lent is a material sin that is also a grave matter.

            If you put up fake obstacles to ppl's faith on purpose like you are doing you will have to account for that.

            More threats mike? Firstly, I don't think God exists, but if i did, I would assume that he also knows my heart. I think Catholicism is wrong on these issues. God might even agree with me. I at least have an argument. You seem to resort to name calling and threats.

          • Mike

            ;) ok if you want to characterize the issue in such a particular way as to make the church out to be what you've already apriori decided it is then ok.

            BTW I am not threatening i am just repeating what the church teaches that if you on purpose knowingly make false assertions that you know are likely to scandalize ppl with the intent of leading them away from the church you are committing a very grave sin - and this is true even from a strict secular perspective: trying to trick ppl into believing their beliefs are evil is just plain cruel.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            No, Mike, I thought this when I was Catholic. I noticed that fellow Catholics couldn't explain this, but instead resorted to name calling or book suggestions. I see this hasn't changed.

          • Mike

            explain what? that directly knowingly disrespecting the church's very minimal requirement is a grave sin? see david's analogy to a marriage, he seems to get it.

            i am not name calling i am saying that i know you know the truth and yet you pretend you don't in order to lead ppl away from their faith in bad faith for false reasons...doing that is well the church says it's very bad.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            No, explaining why the Church views trivial matters as grave matters.

            David's analogy explains one type of grave sin, but does not explain all types.

            I do want people to question their faith, but I do not wish them to do it for false reasons. I am not deliberately lying about what the Church teaches. I notice you have still not explained what the Church teaches by citing relevant sources. Instead you impugn my personality or my motives.

            I actually miss the Lenten observances. I just don't think that not doing them is grave matter.

          • Mike

            but it had nothing to do with eating a burger on a friday it had everything to do with disobedience to a very solemn requirement.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It has everything to do with eating a burger on a Friday, if the solemn requirement is to not eat meat on Friday.

          • Mike

            there you go again.

          • David Nickol

            Suppose the right side of Main Street is a no-parking zone Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. You get a ticket for parking on the right side of Main Street on Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Would it make any sense to say it has "nothing to do" with cars, parking, the time of day, and the right side of Main Street? It doesn't make any sense to me.

          • Mike

            If you want to present the issue as one of parking WITHOUT being honest and explaining that parking is just the particular instance of the actual principle which is respect, loyalty, practice etc. then you are unless you are really ignorant or confused of the issue, just being deceptive on purpose.

            I charge that reilly knows perfectly well what the underlying motivating principle was and that it had nothing at all to do with consuming meat which as YOS pointed out is not "haram" or doing something "forbidden" on friday which is not like doing things on saturday for jews.

          • David Nickol

            If you want to present the issue as one of parking WITHOUT being honest . . . .

            For some reason I cannot fully explain, this discussion is getting uncomfortably personal. I suggest that you and I no longer exchange messages.

          • Mike

            i am sorry for that...i hope everything's ok. take care.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            He has been leveling a lot of personal attacks. He thinks I am deliberately lying to trick people into leaving Catholicism.

          • Roman

            There is not a single statistically credible study that proves your contention that "two gay parents do just as good of a job". Every study that purports to prove this is anecdotal and/or fails to meet the standards for a statistically significant test, e.g., small sample size, bias introduced in selecting participants, self-analysis of parental performance by the the gay parents themselves instead of professional sociologists or psychologists, etc. On the other hand, there are many statistically significant studies that show that the further you depart from a family that has a biological father and mother, the more problems the children have The "New Family Structures" study by Mark Regnerus is one of the more recent to show this.

          • Ignatius Reilly
          • Roman

            Luke didn't demolish anything. He simply pointed out that the most common criterion for significant is a p>.05 alpha level, i.e., 5% of all analyses will reveal false positives. This is only relevant if the difference between the gay/lesbian parents group and other family structures was small, i.e., 5% or less. But that is not what Regnus found. He found the differences were much greater than that, i.e., statistically significant. He also showed "that the children of lesbian mothers and gay fathers tended to do worse than those from any heterosexual family structure, including more unstable, non-intact ones." The link below lists all 57 statistically significant comparisons between the children of lesbian mothers versus other children who did not grow up in a biologically intact family:

            http://www.frc.org/issuebrief/homosexual-parent-study-summary-of-findings

            There are many other good studies that demonstrate the unique contributions that biological mothers and biological fathers provide to children proving that a man and a woman united in marriage do not equal a man+man or woman+woman from a child's perspective or his/her welfare.

          • Roman, I don't think you understand what you're talking about when it comes to statistical analyses. First, it's p ). Second, you're clearly conflating effect size and statistical significance when you say:

            This is only relevant if the difference between the gay/lesbian parents group and other family structures was small, i.e., 5% or less. But that is not what Regnus found. He found the differences were much greater than that, i.e., statistically significant.

            A difference has to be significant to be interpreted; otherwise, it's not considered to be a difference. How large the significant difference is is where effect size comes in. It's possible for an analysis to have a relatively large effect size without being statistically significant in a small enough sample. Likewise, it's possible to find a significant difference in a large enough sample that has a very small effect size.

            Also, that was one of three or four comments on that page I made about the Regnerus study; see my other comments for why the results should not be interpreted as Regnerus suggested.

          • Roman

            Actually, I am quite familiar with statistical analysis. I'm an engineer and I use statistics in my work. But its late, I'm really tired, and I tried, unsuccessfully to simplify my comments. (the> sign was a typo). I'll look at your other comments tomorrow and get back to you. Didn't realize you had a long exchange with Brandon.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            There were multiple comments. I think you just looked at one. To briefly summarize:
            1) There are serious methodological issues in the Regnerus study. He did not compare stable heterosexual couples with stable homosexual couples. For this reason alone, we can dismiss his study.
            2) If No Difference is true, we would expect an occasional study to find a difference.

          • Papalinton

            Diversity is the answer: a mum and dad, a dad and dad, a mum and mum. What a great mixture and diversity than the catholic 'one size fits all' definition of family. Indeed in many cultures around the world, not the least Australian Aboriginal communities, dads have no parental responsibility for their sons. It is the uncle or grand uncle that is responsible for the upbringing and development of the child.

            We must look outside the theological box for real answers to humanity's biggest social and societal challenges.

          • Mike

            Yes real diversity in the house: all human beings are the result of a man and women coming together; kids deserve both all ppl deserve both to deny them that is very serious sin imho.

          • Roman

            Indeed in many cultures around the world, not the least Australian Aboriginal communities, dads have no parental responsibility for their sons.

            Last time I checked, Australian Aborigines were not exactly at the top of the world social order.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Maybe we should sail over there and convert them. Be careful about judging cultures that you do not understand.

          • Mike

            Check this out regarding mortal sins:

            "The Catholic teaching on mortal sin was called into question by some within the Church in the late 20th century after the Second Vatican Council. In response to these doubts, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the basic teaching in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor. It is also maintained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states: "Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell."[20] However, the Catechism does not by name say a specific person is in Hell, but it does say that "...our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back."[21] Most significantly, the Catechism also proclaims that "There are no limits to the mercy of God...."[22] and that "...although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offence, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God."[21] We cannot see into their mind to know if it was deliberate or committed in full knowledge that it was a grave matter. Also, like the Parable of the Prodigal Son God forgives those who repent sincerely. Vatican II, in its Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, shows that mortal sin is still mortal sin although some people have tried to twist the writings.[23]"

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin

          • Marc Riehm

            Every believer of every religion throughout the ages has thought the exact same thing about his faith system. And those beliefs have evolved and diverged widely, even within the RCC. They will continue to do so. The RCC today believes things that it did not 50 years ago. The Church of 50 years ago believed things that it did not 1000 years previously. 500 years from now, beliefs will be different again. Such statements as yours are meaningless.

          • Mila

            What of those beliefs changed?
            And I'm not talking whether wearing a hat to Church was believed to be a sign of reverence 50 years ago but it is no longer regarded as such today. I'm asking about dogmatic changes. Changes in the faith.
            The Church is now facing incredible attacks precisely because it has not change Her doctrine to accommodate to modern-day fallacies that are nothing but old and recycling movements.

          • Mike

            ok thanks marc.

          • Pofarmer

            The RCC "answers" are built on vapor, starting with "The Fall" and proceeding on from there. It's all hot air. You can't have answers when you don't even know the right questions.

          • Mike

            so we've all just been wasting our time? damn it why didn't somebody tell us sooner!

          • Pofarmer

            Well, they tried starting in about the 1500's. Celsus gave it a shot before that. Ya'll are reason resistant. Modern science basically kicks the wheels out of most of Catholic Theology, yet the Church blunders on as if it's opinions were still the only ones. Carry on, I say.

          • Mike

            Cool thanks man...i really needed that! you had me worried there for a sec!

          • Pofarmer

            "but bc they come to a conclusion that they/their ideas are MORE not less moral than "god's"/the church's? i"

            That's a pretty low bar. But that's not why I became an Atheist. I became an atheist because Christianity in toto, and Catholicism in particular, doesn't make sense in the light of what we know in the modern world.

          • Mike

            i think the exact opposite.

          • Pofarmer

            Meh.

          • Mike

            Meh.

          • William Davis

            Mark 11:25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”[d]

            You kind of act like you are holding some grudges, I'd take that advice from Mark. Buddha said holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot coal to through it at your enemy, you are the one who gets burned.

            The oldest gospel, Mark, only talks about hell in 1 place. That place is heavily interpolated, check it out:

            https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%209

            The NRSV shows all kinds of variances in the passage (starting with v42)

            The word for hell is actually Gehenna, which was a place where worshippers of Baal burned children alive.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gehenna

            Since Jesus and Paul preached a bodily resurrection of the dead, it is reasonable to associate this with a destruction of this body, i.e. annihilationism. I think I'm accurate in saying that Yeshua of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus did not believe in your conception of hell...a serious problem for you.

          • Mike

            grudges? i suppose i am but w/o getting into semantics i'd just call it a "thirst for justice". now i do really mean justice not some sadistic impulse to return pain with pain or torture or like i said some hollywood version of.

            it's kinda weird for me to see you ref buddha bc it seems to me that MANY atheists like buddhism...zarathustra and all that - also to me weird that many secular jews seem to find solace in that philosophy.

          • Marc Riehm

            There have been many wise and peaceful people in the past. The Buddha was one of them. Jesus was another. We can learn much from both of them.

          • Mike

            i agree.

          • Marc Riehm

            Is it a "thirst for justice" that compelled you to warn of damnation upon someone who spoke out in favor of gay parents?

          • Mike

            yes

          • Mike

            not gay but same sex: a women and a man who are both gay can provide a mom and dad.

          • Marc Riehm

            Hell came into existence about 70 AD.

          • Ezra Casa

            i don't believe that justice is possible without the negative side of the equation

            Cannot justice be served without an eternal hell where persons suffer for all eternity for their transgressions for which they have failed to confess and repent of in this life? The list of those sins which are considered mortal include many things in which many persons indulge, which the church considers immoral and deserving of hell, things which are not even illegal. I am not speaking here of serial killers, genocide or pedophilia , crimes for which hell if it existed may be deserved even if confessed or repented of.

          • Mike

            that's not the roman catholic church you're describing believe me i've been to confession and i've read the catechism and i think that what you have in mind is a hollywood version a caricature meant to scare unsuspecting atheists and other secularists into staying away from religion.

          • Ezra Casa

            I am not naive' as you seem to think. I know that the RCC no longer teaches hell as a place of eternal fire in any literal sense, I was speaking about a place of eternal suffering. And I know that the church no longer teaches that God sends anyone there, but that those who go there choose to do so. Does the church not teach that there is such a place as hell or state of existence after death where some humans end up?

          • Mila

            You might want read what the Church actually teaches and not what the media, that is constantly trying to create a myth about the Church, says the Church teaches.

          • Ezra Casa

            I don't see what the media, entertainment and otherwise has to do with the church teaching on hell. No atheists takes the movie stuff seriously enough to base their opinion

            Catechism of the RCC:
            1035
            The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity.Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sindescend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."615 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation fromGod, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

          • Mila

            Yes that is perfect. Hell is eternal and souls who die in a state of mortal sin will be punished eternally. See my explanation below as to what that entails.
            Hell will be our unrepentant moral sins which separate us from God. Those sins will separate us from God forever. Eternally! Not because God wants to, but because we won't be able to see or be in God due to our sins.

          • David Nickol

            Not because God wants to, but because we won't be able to see or be in God due to our sins.

            Yes, this is a matter in which God's hands are tied. Although he is omniscient and omnipotent, there's nothing he can do.

          • Mila

            He can give us mercy, but we need to repent in order to receive that mercy. And we can't repent if we don't think anything is a sin. If we don't think there is a morality or even a moral law giver.

          • David Nickol

            But the three conditions you have cited for committing a mortal sin are that the act must be seriously wrong, the person must know it is seriously wrong, and the person must give full consent to the act. If that is the case, and a person sincerely believes nothing is a sin, he cannot fulfill the conditions for a mortal sin.

          • Mila

            Yes, that's right. If the conditions are not met then that person has not committed a mortal sin and grace still lives in him.
            His judgement might become weak and cloudy and that might lead to committing more serious crimes with all conditions met, but you are right if those conditions are not met then that person didn't kill eternal life inside him/her.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I think the Catholic Church would insinuate that such ignorance is actually impossible.

          • Ezra Casa

            Yes that is perfect. Hell is eternal and souls who die in a state of mortal sin will be punished eternally.

            Seems a bit harsh.....by any standard of justice. Hell and suffering for all eternity , harsh justice even for a catholic who is aware of church teaching, who dies without confessing or repenting of adultery or deliberately missing mass without good reason, and any other number of 'sins'... etc.

          • Mila

            It is hard. I struggle with it every day. But we also know that the mercy of God is infinite. We can't just talk about justice and not include mercy in the equation. None of us deserve to go to heaven. All of us depend on mercy.

            Many think it is not fair, but what if we live in a world today where, because we think it is harsh that criminals be put in prison, we let them roam around the streets freely. We wouldn't have much of a civilized world or even feel secured or happy.

            But we do condemned ourselves.
            When we sin we diminish our capability to reason to see truth and our conscious justifies the sin. It becomes corrupted.

            We become accustomed and justify our actions. We become desensitized and become less charitable towards others. The charity that cares for the person next to us and not for humanity as an entity that is.

            We become stupid, more ignorant, confused and even more inclined to commit other bad offenses.

            We can see this in our day to day life. We notice a robber with no remorse feeding on his addiction to steal and becoming evermore less aware of his offense. We see murderers who after committing their crimes do not feel a thing of remorse about it and go about living a normal life as if nothing happened. We see people all the time growing in their malice and reacting furiously against those who strive to do good. We see people all the time reacting violently, slandering, and attacking those who reveal the truth about their offenses by mere contrast. It happens to all of us. It hurts and we want to hide when someone tells us that what we are doing is wrong.

            Now, imagine when all of our being is revealed and all of our actions put to the light and we can see the consequences of them all. The eternal consequences of them that is. Imagine when we are put in contrast with holiness. We will run and hide from that Holiness because we won't want to see who we really are inside. We would want to escape and thus become separated from that light that reveals us. That separation is the separation from God and that equals eternal suffering. The separation from God, existence itself is what will be hell. We condemned ourselves if we don't receive the mercy of God. How do we receive mercy? By repenting. We can't repent if we don't think anything is a sin, if we don't think there is anything to repent of. If we don't think there is a morality or even a moral law giver.

          • Ezra Casa

            We seem to be talking past each other. I am not at all speaking of the ramifications of legal justice for criminal behavior in this life, nor do I think it can be used as metaphor for the topic of hell .
            I am speaking to the harshness of the church's stance on justice in the afterlife that results in an eternity of suffering for someone who misses mass deliberately or commits adultery without confessing or repenting. Though I am not a believer, I can actually understand the concept of purgatory as a purification or enlightenment process which may involve some degree of personal regret or angst....and the church now teaches that purgatory may not be a place, but is more of a process or state of purgation, that may happen at the instant of death and may not involve a period of time such as decades or hundreds of years, as they used to teach even in my lifetime. That would make more sense than does an eternity in hell for relatively minor offenses, that by anyone's standards and that the church teaches are 'mortal' sins deserving of eternal damnation and torment.I think many in the church are rethinking their stance on hell, even theologians. hence....though they are softening their stance on the teaching, they cannot actually admit to any change in the doctrine, but now some will actually teach....that though the teaching stands, we don't actually know if anyone has actually gone to hell or that anyone will actually go to hell.

          • Mila

            "I am speaking to the harshness of the church's stance on justice"
            Have you not read anything I wrote? We condemn ourselves. The Church doesn't condemn us. It would be much harsher to lie and say that everything will be fine.
            The Church can't distort or soften the message in order to please people. The Church is not the mail editor but the mail carrier.
            We read about hell all over scripture. Jesus Christ mentions the consequences of our actions very harshly. "if your eye causes you to sin, then pluck it out... It is better to enter heaven with one eye than...."

            I don't know where you are getting your information about purgatory. I suspect it must be a protestant source.

            Here is a timeline from the Council of Florence, to the Council of Trent and other papal encyclicals regarding purgatory.

            http://www.catholicessentials.net/purgatory.htm

            Here is the catechism regarding purgatory:
            http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm

            "That would make more sense than does an eternity in hell for relatively minor offenses"
            The Church never taught that minor offenses, non-mortal sins will result in an eternity separation from God, i.e. hell. In fact, it always taught the conditions for mortal sin that I mentioned above.

            I think your problem is that you do not go to Catholic sources but repeat the misconceptions of those who never bothered to read what the Church actually teaches.
            Above I posted what the Church actually teaches and taught all throughout history regarding purgatory.

          • Ezra Casa

            The Church never taught that minor offenses, non-mortal sins will result in an eternity separation from God, i.e. hell.

            The relatively minor offenses to which I referred are the ones such as adultery or missing mass which the church says are Mortal sins deserving of hell for eternity.

            Purgatory explained in an article by prominent Catholic author and speaker Steve Ray. In actual fact purgatory may not involve a duration of time at all and may be experienced in a moment. From the article. So I may not be as far off in my understanding as you seem to assume.

            One thing that needs to be understood is that the Church has no jurisdiction over souls in purgatory, only over those on earth. And, the Church has been given no further revelation
            on the details of Purgatory. It is something alluded to in Scripture, so we know it exists, but as to what it actually is, we have not been told. Some theologians have tried to describe it as a “place” and “period of time” but in reality we do not know any details. So the church does not say that Purgatory involves the same kind of time as we experience
            here on earth (knowing there are different kinds of “time” such as earthly time, eternity, etc.), or even time at all. Cardinal Ratzinger,, a very trustworthy theologian, says that Purgatory may involve “existential” rather than “temporal” duration. It may be someone “experiences”, but experiences in a moment, rather than something that endures over time.”

            http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/Purgatory.pdf

          • Mila

            The Church never taught that adultery was a minor offense or that missing mass was a minor offense. Both are commandments.
            The problem is that the modern person views adultery as minor or that not observing the Sabbath is minor.

            Those are grave offenses and they never were minor offenses. The Church can't say the commandments are invalid or that some are good but others aren't.
            Thou shall not commit adultery and remember the Sabbath are not up for editing or discarding.
            It would be hypocritical for the Church or any church for that matter to teach otherwise.

            "Ratzinger,, a very trustworthy theologian, says that Purgatory may involve “existential” rather than “temporal” duration."
            That is true. We are in time now but we will be outside of time.

            Here is a great lecture on time I highly recommend it. It helped me a lot understand the outside of time concept.
            If you have the time, it is worth it.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BupbLOorCTc&list=PLA1hGXgJhlNQKyDWHIB4YVwTn2PF1I8RM

          • Ezra Casa

            The Church never taught that adultery was a minor offense or that missing mass was a minor offense.

            Exactly! That was my point....relatively minor offenses not deserving of a jail sentence or an eternity of suffering in HELL in the eyes of most people including Catholics. I will view your video and get back to you.

          • Mila

            My point is that they are not minor and that the Church can't say something contrary to the Commandments. That would be disobedience.

            I can understand why someone who is not a Christian or a Jew would think "remembering the Sabbath" is minor, though if they claim to be either they should know the commandments and know about the sacrifice taking place. However, I truly don't think adultery is minor. It is a destroyer of the family. It is surrendering to lust. It is greed. It is lying. It is grave matter, right there the sole nature of the sin involves serious capital offenses. Not to mention the consequences of that offense. The family is the nucleus where we learn and develop the most virtues. It is also were we experience/live/receive unconditional love, ideally. There is a saying "destroy the family and soon your civilization will follow" Everything crumbles with it. No family, no individuals that can flourish. Take a look at various examples we have today within our society who suffer from a lack of that structure that helps us realize our potential; the family.

            Yes, watch the video. It is a bit long but during the first two vids (only 10 minutes each) Kreeft explains the concepts of time. It is fascinating!

          • Ezra Casa

            However, I truly don't think adultery is minor. It is a destroyer of the family.

            On that I can agree....But relatively minor in comparison to murder or child abuse etc....certainly not deserving of an eternity of suffering in hell?

          • Marc Riehm

            Salvation is not just a matter of repenting for one's wrongdoings. Belief in Christ is also key.

            Think the right things - enter eternal bliss. Think the wrong things - enter eternal suffering. A binary system for a grey world.

          • Mila

            True repentance doesn't include repeating sins, whether they are sins of thought, actions, verb, omission.
            The message is that of repent and believe. We must repent every time we sin. True repentance includes the attitude not to repeat sins or even avoid occasions of sin.

          • Papalinton

            It seems to me catholics are serial and congenital offenders. It is so much easier to sin or commit an offence when one knows they can go into the confessional, every weekend, and with a few hail marys have all their sins absolved at the crossed sweep of the hands. It's called the path of least resistance.

            What's the difference between 'repentance' and 'true repentance'? Where does the dogma make the distinction?

          • Mila

            "It seems to me catholics are serial and congenital offenders "
            A bit arrogant to say.

            A Catholic or any Christian knows what repentance is.

            There is only repentance and not just pretending one is sorry.
            It wouldn't be real repentance if a guy said he was sorry to his girlfriend but continue to beat her.

            Here is the catechism...

            IV. INTERIOR PENANCE

            1430 Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, "sackcloth and ashes," fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.23

            1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one's life, with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).24

            1432 The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart.25 Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: "Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!"26 God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced:27

            Let us fix our eyes on Christ's blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance.

            1433 Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved "the world wrong about sin,"29 i.e., proved that the world has not believed in him whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings sin to light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion.30"

          • Marc Riehm

            This is true. Also, Hell is the destination for unbelievers, so long as they learned about Jesus. If you learn about Jesus but reject the teachings, you are bound to Hell, no matter whether you are "good" or "bad". However, if you do NOT learn about Jesus, you cannot be condemned to Hell, as your unbelief is not your fault.

            Therefore, missionaries commit a great evil.

          • Phil

            Hey Marc,

            I think the view of heaven and hell you present is to simplistic. There is no real line between Jesus and his teachings--Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus presents in his very person and teachings the truth of reality. The teachings are simply putting into words what he embodies in his very person--the truth. So to truly reject his teachings is to reject the person of Jesus. If faith does not have works, it is dead. "Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works."

            In short, hell is near complete separation from God because the person is turned so inwards upon herself in pride or despair. We could be said to literally become what we have trained ourself to desire here on earth. We become a complete act of self-love, devoid of the love of God. We become a complete act of despair, not allowing mercy to pierce our heart.

            If a person does reject Jesus and teachings right now, the question to ask in one's heart is why do I reject Jesus and his teachings?

          • Marc Riehm

            Hell is also the destination of good people who heard about Jesus but didn't become believers.

          • Mila

            Padre Pio was asked what he thought about modern people who didn’t believe in hell.

            “They’ll believe in hell when they get there.” he replied.

          • Marc Riehm

            There are a variety of reasons why I don't believe in heaven and hell. Your viewpoint is one of the main ones: I simply do not believe that an infinite deity would condemn people to infinite suffering for believing the wrong thing, especially given how grey our world is, and how many dissenting (and equally believable!) belief systems there are. The whole story of Original Sin, followed by 4000 years of randomness, followed by the redemption of Christ, and the whole binary, black-and-white nature of it, is not worthy of an infinitely good deity.

          • Mila

            You just stated "Belief in Christ is also key."
            He did come for our sins....
            If you don't believe in original sin then why was Christ needed for our salvation?

            We would still be in paradise had we not fallen with our original sin.

            Don't believe in original sin? Just turn on your TV for proof.

          • Marc Riehm

            When I made my remark about "belief in Christ", I was commenting on Catholic beliefs, not my own. Often on this website Catholic commenters skirt around the core RCC dogma that salvation is only possible via correct belief, and I think there are a philosophical problems with this viewpoint.

            I don't believe that mankind was ever in paradise, or ever will be. Evolution (which is accepted by the RCC) has ever been red in tooth and claw. There is no reason to believe that it was ever not that way. Our imperfect (aka "sinful") behaviour as human beings today fits in well with our less-advanced past, and our continual struggles to improve ourselves. We don't need to invoke original sin to explain our behaviour - making note of our "animal past" is a perfectly sufficient explanation for our shortcomings.

          • Papalinton

            And what evidence, proofs, facts is Pio basing his response on above that which we all have known, been a party to, read about and have had access to for centuries, that is not the traditional crock of theological crapola?

          • Mike

            yes hell is real, a real "place" where you will go in your "new" body for eternity if you don't want anything to do with God - if you don't believe in God don't worry you won't ever meet him and you'll never know him; have you ever read the great divorce?

          • Mila

            In order to commit a mortal sin, three conditions must be met:
            1) It must be grave matter (see Commandments)

            2) Committed with full knowledge

            3) It must be deliberate

            You must also realize that the state is not God, therefore that they are legal is not an indication that they are permissible in the eyes of God. A good example would be abortion.

            "Cannot justice be served without an eternal hell where persons suffer for all eternity for their transgressions for which they have failed to confess and repent of in this life?"

            When we die, Truth itself will reveal who we are. Our own sins will become that eternal hell where persons suffer.
            God is all consuming spiritual fire. Purity, justice, Truth, beauty. Our sins will prevent us from entering His glory.
            We can only hope for mercy, but mercy is given when we repent. If we don't repent or even think we sin, then how can God give us mercy. That mercy starts here as we can repent here. We do have free will in this short time for a reason. We repent, we get grace. Grace is what will equip us to resist that consuming fire.
            Consuming fire is our destiny. Becoming more like the heavenly fire so that we can endure more of the heavenly fire is what we need to do. We can't do that if we retain sins. "Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience"
            "whose sins you shall retain, they are retained"

          • David Nickol

            You must also realize that the state is not God, therefore that they are legal is not an indication that they are permissible in the eyes of God. A good example would be abortion.

            And yet, so many in the pro-life movement say the mother is the "second-victim" of abortion and has been mislead by the "abortion industry" and society in general to believe abortion is not wrong. Therefore, women who procure abortions should not be punished (legally).

          • Mila

            "many in the pro-life movement" are not God.
            I don't judge mothers or even abortionists or anyone working to promote that industry. I just judge that the killing is wrong.

          • Marc Riehm

            But Mike, that's not what heaven and hell are about. They're not about rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. They're about thought control - rewarding those who think the right way, even if in their lifetimes they behaved criminally, and punishing those who held the wrong ideas, even if they led just lives.

          • Mike

            ok i am ok with that in principle: a repentant debaucherous pig like karamazov will be saved; a judgmental do-gooder prig will not be.

            have you read flanner o'connor? really creepy stuff i think you'd like it.

          • Marc Riehm

            Why do you paint the hellbound non-Catholic as a "judgmental do-gooder prig"?

          • Mike

            who said they were non catholic?

          • Mila

            " rewarding those who think the right way, even if in their lifetimes they behaved criminally, and punishing those who held the wrong ideas, even if they led just lives."
            Not really, unless you think a criminal thought the right way when committing his offense.
            Or that bad ideas lead to just lives.
            Bad ideas? I can have a bad idea as to how to fix the lamp, but that doesn't mean is a sin or that it will have an eternal consequence.
            Ignorance of one's actions might lessen or remove the imputability of our actions but not the consequence.

          • arod69

            Your concept of hell as revenge doesn't make sense to me. Revenge by whom? God? Why would an omnipotent immutable God need/seek revenge on anyone. Nothing we do here can harm Him by definition so therefore God has no need for revenge. Frankly the idea that God requires revenge is at best laughable. When we further explore the Christian idea of God, that He is love, then the notion makes even less sense (see 1 John 4).

          • William Davis

            Your comment doesn't make sense to me, lol.

          • Do you think hell is a consequence? As in: we will reap what we sow?

          • Mike

            yes

          • That is more along the lines of what I understand, too.

          • William Davis

            Welcome to SN :) Did you ask your female preacher about the passage we talked about earlier?

          • Thanks. My female preacher? I think I said I would talk to some pastors about it, yes. I haven't had a chance to yet.

          • William Davis

            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/barrierbreaker/how_christians_are_using_respect_to_win_the_argument_against_atheism_in_6_steps/#comment-1899616462

            I don't take comments on faith and religion message boards too seriously. I have female pastors - I will talk to them about it. I will show them what you said and how I responded. I'll also show it to some non-believer females I know. If they say it demonstrates a lack of courage I will come back and thank you for your acute observations.

            Give me a week or so. I'll let you know.

            I didn't expect you were being honest with me. I value the truth greatly. This is why I am not a Christian. Yet again a Christian reinforces this idea.
            It is not that non-Christians are necessarily any better in this, but here is the point: A difference, that makes no difference, is no difference at all.

          • I haven't had a chance to speak with the ones I know. Sorry.

            I'm not surprised you would jump to these conclusions and find yet another chance to brag about how awesome you think you are!

            And to you: Welcome to Strange Notions! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have over the past year.

          • William Davis

            You said give me a week or so, it's been 17 days. You game me a promise with a time frame, and failed to keep it. We'll see if you EVER keep it. It will really show something about your character if you don't keep it.

          • Sorry, dude. I've had a lot going on. You never replied nor suggested any interest in hearing about other people's points of views and understandings. If you want to know how other people understand it and how it may be different from your understanding I'll try to get some other points of views.

          • Mike

            hmmmm.

          • Doug Shaver

            I value the truth greatly. This is why I am not a Christian.

            Do you always infer that anyone who disagrees with you does not value the truth?

          • William Davis

            Nope. Mike has made his motives pretty clear to me over time. I think you value the truth (though your motives are less clear than Mike's), don't take the Mythicist comment to mean I question their motives. I got sucked into a lot of conspiracy thinking when I was younger, and studied it along with critical thinking formally, something that has been a big help. The idea that all the early Christians were so excited about a myth has a strong conspiracy element about it. When I was into conspiracy theories, I still valued the truth.

          • Doug Shaver

            The idea that all the early Christians were so excited about a myth has a strong conspiracy element about it.

            I share your skepticism about conspiracy theories, which is why I don't believe any mythicist theories that include conspiracies. But I see no reason to suppose that any conspiracy was necessary in order for some early Christians to believe in a historical Jesus even though there was none. But by "early Christians," I don't mean the first Christians. I don't believe that the Christians of Paul's time ever heard of any Jesus of Nazareth. I believe they worshipped a Christ Jesus who, in their minds, had never lived on this world. The gospel Jesus did not occur in anyone's thinking until the late first or early second century, and it was not the result of any conspiracy to invent him.

          • Papalinton

            Yes Doug. The Jesus of Nazareth is a later invention of an agglomerated christianity fashioned over a four hundred year time span, up to the Nicean convention of 325CE. Nazareth was never on any pilgrimage route for believers until it became fashionable with Helena, mother of Constantine, visited there. No christian seemed to have even know or cared about Nazareth until that time.

          • Doug Shaver

            I said nothing about Nicea. The time I mentioned was about 200 years before Nicea.

          • Papalinton

            What you say is correct. Paul's Jesus was not physically of this earth. And the gospel Jesus was constructed through the ensuing battles of competing ideas of varying regional traditions emanating from the first and second centuries, Marcionism, the Ebionites, the Ascetics, Gnostics, and later, the Montanists and even Manischeanism of St Augustine, to mention a few. The Nicean conference was ostensibly the moment formalising what would constitute conventional christian belief and what would not.

            Bart Erhman has a comprehensive look at these in his book: "Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scriptures and the Faith We Never Knew".

          • Doug Shaver

            The idea that all the early Christians were so excited about a myth has a strong conspiracy element about it.

            Some mythicists do espouse conspiracy theories, but the rest of us don't. The version of mythicism I accept holds that the gospels were written in the early second century, possibly based on earlier versions written in the late first century, and were intended as works of fiction, not history or biography. Some Christians then came to believe that they were stories about the founder of their religion, and the idea spread until it came to be regarded as orthodoxy. No conspiracy necessary, just ordinary people making a mistake like ordinary people do all the time.

            Of course, the notion that a mistake of that sort could persist into modern times rubs an awful lot of people the wrong way, and not just Christians. Plenty of secularists don't like it one bit, either.

          • William Davis

            That's a pretty good explanation of the more plausible mythicism. Isn't the idea that people are that gullible at the very core of conspiracy thinking? Sure people are gullible, but they usually don't take things that seriously unless they have some evidence other than a story. Stories usually do not start evangalistic cluster groups that spread like the gospel. Once a vocal cluster of people start spreading ideas, they definitely tend to change, but I can imagine what started that original cluster if not an actual person (Yeshua) who had a real following. Why was Paul convinced that Jesus died and resurrected? You have to be a real person to die. I've seen no good explanation of Paul mentioning Jesus's brother, I've seen plenty of mythicist try to explain it away, but never successfully.

            It's a struggle to separate healthy skepticism from conspiracy thinking, they are quite related, you have pointed out the core bias differing mythicists from non-mythicists. It is a different view of human nature. Not that different, but different enough to affect our probability calculus of such things (calculated probabilities and inference is a core part of our intelligence). Great post :)

            If you're interested, some of these core parts of "who we are" are going directly into artificial intelligence. It will likely be required to sacrifice accuracy and introduce fallibility to achieve intelligence in machines. Biasing seems to be at the very core of how our neocortex processes information. This video opened my eyes as to what Elon Musk, Stephen Hawkins, and Bill gates are worried about, and using the terms like existential risk...

            http://numenta.com/?video=youtube:izO2_mCvFaw

          • Doug Shaver

            Isn't the idea that people are that gullible at the very core of conspiracy thinking?

            I have not read enough conspiracy theory to do a proper analysis, but I don't they are uniquely cynical about human gullibility. The unique feature of their thinking, it seems to me, lies in their perception of the efficacy of political and economic power. Give a few rich people access to political power, they think, and then nothing important can happen that they don't want to happen.

            Sure people are gullible, but they usually don't take things that seriously unless they have some evidence other than a story.

            I have seen what looks to me like a great deal of evidence to the contrary.

            Stories usually do not start evangalistic cluster groups that spread like the gospel.

            The notion that Christianity grew with unusual speed is not supported by any evidence besides the uncorroborated claims of certain apologists. Reliable data for the first few centuries are hard to get, but the little we can get indicates that Christianity spread no faster than any other new religion ever has, until it was made the official religion of the empire.

            Why was Paul convinced that Jesus died and resurrected?

            According to his own testimony, he was convinced by a revelation from God.

            You have to be a real person to die.

            Oh, Paul thought Jesus was real, all right, but in the intellectual environment of the first-century Middle East, you didn't have to live in this world to be a real person. You could live in a part of the universe that we moderns refer to as outer space. That isn't what the ancients called it, of course. They called it "the heavens."

            I've seen no good explanation of Paul mentioning Jesus's brother, I've seen plenty of mythicist try to explain it away, but never successfully.

            There is nothing to either explain or explain away. Paul does not say that anyone was Jesus' brother. Not in those words. The words he does use can be so construed, but I have seen no good argument for the implausibility of any other construal.

            It is a different view of human nature. Not that different, but different enough to affect our probability calculus of such things

            I think the best mythicist arguments do not require any assumptions about human nature that reasonable historicists actually disagree with. I don't deny that we're working with different assumptions, but I don't think they're about human nature as such.

            We're all working from some set of assumptions, and I suspect that the resolution of this debate, when it comes, will depend on figuring out which side has the most defensible set of assumptions. And I'm guessing that the final analysis will go something like this:

            Mythicist: We assume A, B, C, and D. Do you have a problem with any of those assumptions?

            Historicist: No problem. We agree that it's reasonable to assume A, B, C, and D.

            Mythicist: Well then, considering all the evidence on those assumptions, the nonexistence of Jesus is more probable than his existence.

            Historist: Yes. However, it is also reasonable to assume E, F, and G. And on those assumptions added to the others, his existence is more probable than his nonexistence.

            Mythicist: We don't agree that it's reasonable to assume E, F, or G.

            And there it will stand.

          • William Davis

            Is there a good online resource for the specific theory you are discussing? Sounds like mythicism needs to be divided into different categories.

          • Doug Shaver

            Sounds like mythicism needs to be divided into different categories.

            We do have our factions. But if you survey all the literature that tries to answer the question "How did Christianity get started?" you will find, I strongly suspect, a lot more different theories that include a historical Jesus than theories that don't.

            Is there a good online resource for the specific theory you are discussing?

            I am aware of no single website that I can recommend without a laundry list of reservations and qualifications. In my judgment, there are three scholars whose work is most deserving of serious attention. I do not entirely agree with any of them, but the issues on which they agree make what I regard to be a compelling case.

            The one who got me started was Earl Doherty, whose website (http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/home.htm) was recommended to me some 15 years ago. The website is essentially an online version of his first book, The Jesus Puzzle, with voluminous supplementary material, but it includes a summary of his argument at http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/jhcjp.htm.

            Next to get my attention was Robert M. Price. He wrote several books that, while not primarily devoted to advocacy of mythicism as such, were sympathetic to various parts of the mythicist argument. Then a few years ago he summarized his thoughts on the subject in The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems. His website (http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/) includes reprints of dozens of his journal articles, but most are irrelevant to the historicity issue. Those that are relevant do not usually address the issue itself but presents material that does support mythicist arguments. Unfortunately, the list is not categorized, but if you'd like to do some browsing it's at http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/theolist.htm.

            Then there is Richard Carrier, who has contributed a couple of articles to Strange Notions. I have found nothing on his own website (http://www.richardcarrier.info/) that says in effect, "Here, in a nutshell, is my argument," but he has posted such an article at http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2014/08/car388028.shtml.

          • Doug Shaver

            It will likely be required to sacrifice accuracy and introduce fallibility to achieve intelligence in machines. Biasing seems to be at the very core of how our neocortex processes information.

            I agree. Natural selection could not have produced infallible intelligence, and we won't be able to, either.

            And thanks for the link. That was very interesting.

          • Mike

            hey, are you from a protestant background?

          • What do you mean?

          • Mike

            i mean are you a catholic or protestant like william d. from a conservative fundamentalist as he says background? will d. says he's from a fundie background but he asked you about a female preacher and female preachers are only in liberal protestant congregations so just curious.

          • Not really either, but I feel comfortable in both group's churches. I certainly don't have a Protestant, Catholic or conservative fundamentalist background. I'm interested in following Jesus Christ and the religion that the Book of James says is pure in God's eyes. I do know female pastors - one I know works with a Catholic church on a bus stop ministry in one of our city's poorest and most oppressed area.

          • Mike

            oh ok i've never read that book. well i hope you follow your interests...take it easy.

          • You've never read the Book of James?

          • Mila

            You mean the Epistle of James?

          • Yes.

            In that letter it says: "Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father, is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows in their hardships, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world."

          • Mila

            Yes, a faith that does not result good works is dead.
            Religion is a relationship with God. Pure religion will produce that, but we are fallen and thus we need the sacraments He instituted in His Church to aid us.

          • Yes, I need God's help everyday.

          • Mike

            no i am a bit ashamed to say i've only ever really read 2/3 gospels and acts and genesis and trying to get through exodus but "iam a catholic" so i don't need to read the bible ;)

          • Mila

            Hey I'm Catholic and I read the bible and read it every night. Don't generalize :)
            After all it was we who gave and preserved the canon for the world.
            Now it is interesting to see an interest in the epistle of James since he clearly states fundamental Catholic doctrine of good works as a result of grace.

          • Mike

            i try to read it but i get sucked into convos on SN with atheists! LOL! ;) while my wife yells at me from upstairs: "would you come to bed already it's 11pm"!!

          • Ok, thanks for chatting!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Why would someone join a religion before reading their holy book?

          • Alexandra

            Is religion only for the literate?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The most educated societies tend to reject religion, so I would not say it is only for the literate.

            Mike is certainly literate and able to read the bible. I would think that literate people would want to do research before they accepted a religion. Such research would include reading the holy book and reading important authors.

          • Alexandra

            "Mike is certainly literate and able to read the bible. I would think that literate people would want to do research before they accepted a religion. Such research would include reading the holy book and reading important authors."

            Of course. The Church agrees with you. See "catechumens". (Currently, the average instruction takes a year.)

            http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/HOW2.htm

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I'm not very impressed with the instruction of Catechumens.

          • Alexandra

            What specifically is your objection?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That Catechumens don't actually know much about the Catholic faith. When I received first communion, I passed an examination on Catholicism. Same when I was confirmed. Same when I graduated high school.

          • Alexandra

            If this is true, the primary failing is in the individual.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I disagree. I think there is plenty of blame to go around.

          • Mila

            In our case as well as 2/3 of all Christians the holy book came out of the Church. Not the other way around.
            For many centuries people didn't read the book. The book is part of the sacred tradition.
            Jesus Christ didn't leave a book to be oftentimes misinterpreted by fallible human beings, especially after the 1500s. He left His spirit and His Church that is guided by His spirit.
            Martyrs who died for religion, especially during the first centuries, didn't have a book.
            I understand in modern times some people view the book as the sole guidance for religion, but that is fatal, as we can see with thousands of different interpretations of the book.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            In our case as well as 2/3 of all Christians the holy book came out of the Church. Not the other way around.
            For many centuries people didn't read the book. The book is part of the sacred tradition.

            I don't see how this is particularly relevant. Mike converted in the 21st century. The Bible is a very important part of Catholicism. It should be read before conversion, especially if the converter cared about knowing the truth.

            Jesus Christ didn't leave a book to be oftentimes misinterpreted by fallible human beings, especially after the 1500s. He left His spirit and His Church that is guided by His spirit.

            I would expect the person considering conversion to also read the Church's interpretation of the bible and other important works. One must then try to judge the interpretation.

            Martyrs who died for religion, especially during the first centuries, didn't have a book.

            Martyrdom in the early church is overstated. Not sure why it is important though. We are talking about 21st century converts, who should use all the resources at their disposal.

            I understand in modern times some people view the book as the sole guidance for religion, but that is fatal, as we can see with thousands of different interpretations of the book.

            People considering conversion should still read the book.

          • Mila

            Yes they should but not with ignorance and prejudices.
            I have been Catholic my entire life and only when I was an adult I read the bible. It only reassured me what I already knew about the faith.

            So, martyrdom is overrated? Who told you that? Your history teacher
            I guess throwing people to the lions while singing hymns is overrated.
            So overrated that every time they would kill Christians more and more appeared.

            I was reading the martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch not long ago. He asked his colleagues not to fight to liberate him. He went running towards the lions dressed with his vestments. That day many converted.

            There are many more martyrs today. You know what that means? Their blood will not be in vain just like the blood of the early Christians. They are the seed of the Church.

            Without a bible, persecuted, and with the potential to die a horrible death, they still converted and gladly died for the faith. What a witness!!

            And as I stated the bible came out of the Church and not the other way around. For centuries people people didn't have a bible. For centuries and Christianity grew and grew. The pillar and bulwark of truth is the Church.

            You can read a book or even many that teaches you about the law of gravity. It doesn't mean that the force of gravity will stop working until you read about it.

            "The Church is the body of Christ, not a collection of people choosing to worship together. It really is the body of Christ and its authority remains despite the weakness and sinfulness of the individual members entrusted with that authority. The Church is a living and supernatural reality, "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim 3:15) Holly Ordway

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Yes they should but not with ignorance and prejudices.
            I have been Catholic my entire life and only when I was an adult I read the bible. It only reassured me what I already knew about the faith.

            So should catechumens read the Bible before or after they convert?

            So, martyrdom is overrated? Who told you that? Your history teacher
            I guess throwing people to the lions while singing hymns is overrated.
            So overrated that every time they would kill Christians more and more appeared.

            I said overstated. Meaning that martyrdom did not happen as nearly as often as most Catholic think it happened. It is the myth of martyrdom.

            I was reading the martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch not long ago. He asked his colleagues not to fight to liberate him. He went running towards the lions dressed with his vestments. That day many converted.

            How do you know this actually happened?

            In many cases, when a martyr died, many were not converted.

            There are many more martyrs today. You know what that means? Their blood will not be in vain just like the blood of the early Christians. They are the seed of the Church.

            Who are the martyrs of today? Why does the Church have an unhealthy obsession with martyrdom?

            Martyrs are not the seed of the Church. The Church propagated in other ways.

            Without a bible, persecuted, and with the potential to die a horrible death, they still converted and gladly died for the faith. What a witness!!

            A witness to their extremism. Most of these martyrdoms probably did not happen.
            You seem to think that people held the faith without understanding it, but they were great witnesses because they died for the faith. Not sure what this has to do with 21st century converts reading the bible before they convert.

          • Mila

            "How do you know this actually happened?"

            Letters of Smyrna. Look it up.

            "A witness to their extremism. Most of these martyrdoms probably did not happen."
            Evidence points to the contrary.

            "Who are the martyrs of today? Why does the Church have an unhealthy obsession with martyrdom?"
            All over the place. So many Christians being killed for the faith today it would be utter denial to not even see what is going on. I don't blame you. American "news" are not real news at all.
            BTW, there was a non-believer among the 21 Egyptians just martyred. We hear in the audio he professed Jesus Christ right before the knife started to cut his throat.

            It's not obsession. It is fact. Look it up. Even the most anti-Christian sources don't deny the martyrdom of early Christians and today we see in India, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq martyrdom. People in prisons for the sole reason they are Christians. Someone would have to live in a bubble of denial not to see this. Now we see deniers of the martyrdom. Why deny? There is plenty of historical documentation. Why deny? That's the real issue here.

            I don't think you would know what I mean by "seed of the Church"

          • Doug Shaver

            Evidence points to the contrary.

            Your church's traditions affirm the contrary. There is no other evidence.

          • Mila

            Denial has never been a good observer of history

            Evidence is all over the place and from secular sources as well. You just need to be humble and search.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_martyrs

          • Doug Shaver

            You just need to be humble and search.

            Just because I disagree with you doesn't mean I have not searched. And I know how to do a real search for evidence. When I searched, I did not stop after reading Wikipedia.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I think you mean letters to Romans. The letter itself has an unhealthy obsession with martyrdom.

            "A witness to their extremism. Most of these martyrdoms probably did not happen."
            Evidence points to the contrary.

            The evidence is very scant.

            "Who are the martyrs of today? Why does the Church have an unhealthy obsession with martyrdom?"
            All over the place. So many Christians being killed for the faith today it would be utter denial to not even see what is going on. I don't blame you. American "news" are not real news at all.
            BTW, there was a non-believer among the 21 Egyptians just martyred. We hear in the audio he professed Jesus Christ right before the knife started to cut his throat.

            That is a great evil. That wasn't what I was getting at though. Growing up, I was occasionally told that their would be a great martyrdom of Christians in America during my lifetime, This is what I was talking about.

            It's not obsession. It is fact. Look it up. Even the most anti-Christian sources don't deny the martyrdom of early Christians and today we see in India, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq martyrdom. People in prisons for the sole reason they are Christians. People killed for their faith. Someone would have to live in a bubble of denial and pride not to see this. Now we see deniers of the martyrdom.

            It is a Catholic scholar at Notre Dame that is suggesting that early church martyrdom is exaggerated. You are conflating early church martyrdom with modern martyrdom.

            Why deny? There is plenty of historical documentation. Why deny? That's the real issue here.

            Because the evidence is scant and even in America Christians have a persecution complex.

            I don't think you would know what I mean by "seed of the Church"

            I just don't think that Christianity grew because non-believers watched believers get killed and tortured.

          • Mila

            Perhaps you can provide evidence that the Roman emperors didn't persecute the Christians.

            Nero, Diocletian, and Galerius gave the Christians flowers and lollipops and that is why Constantine didn't need to stop the persecutions and legalize Christianity.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            How long was Christianity in existence and only three emperors persecuted Christians?

          • Mila

            You know you can easily open a history book and actually look at the law and policies regarding Christians of the Roman Empire.
            There is enormous evidence of court papers and testimonies from the Romans that that was going on.

            There was basically at least 10 emperors from the first to fourth century who harshly persecuted Christians.

            Even the lame wikipedia has some of those accounts.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Christian_policies_in_the_Roman_Empire

          • Ignatius Reilly

            How do we know that Nero persecuted Christians after the fire?

          • Mila

            I thought you had an issue as to whether the persecutions were real or not.
            It's not an issue as to when but that they happened.
            Trying to deviate from the main point?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            No, I think the Christians were persecuted at times, but I think the persecutions are overstated. I am not trying to deviate from the main point - I am trying to focus on the point that I am making.

            The written sources nearest to the time are Suetonius and Tacitus, correct?

          • Mila

            Regarding more modern Christian persecutions, well we can deny the Armenian massacre of over a million Christians. We can forget about the Cristeros (children included), we can also forget about the persecutions in Russia.
            Let's not look at the laws of China, North Korea
            Let's just say that in Iraq and Syria, and Egypt, and Nigeria, and pakistan... the jihadists don't kill Christians but dance the conga with them.
            Let's pretend nobody is in prison camps or awaiting death for the sole reason they are Christians.

            It never ceases to amaze as to how blind people can get when they hate something irrationality. In this case Christianity.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            What is the point of this? I agree that there are parts of the world in which Christians are persecuted. I do no think the West is one of those places.
            This is also irrelevant to early Christian persecution.

          • Mila

            I don't think anyone said in the west. Not physical persecution at least.
            So much for the persecution complex you mentioned earlier ha!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I think American Christians are often obsessed with a coming persecution. They also tend to claim they are being persecuted when the government suggests a contraception mandate.

          • Mila

            I'm not American but to force someone to go against their religion is persecution. Not physical persecution but nonetheless religious persecution.
            It was not a suggestion but actual law.
            And American Christians are not obsessed with a coming persecution. The government IS persecuting their religious liberties otherwise they wouldn't force religious institutions to directly go against their religion.
            You might not like their religion and what it teaches but this is religious persecution. The government can't force anyone to provide anything. Much less something that goes against their religion and that does not deal with matters of life or death.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I tend to side with the Christians when it comes to these matters. I don't think anyone is trying to persecute them though.

          • Ignatius Reilly
          • Mila

            You may enjoy this book
            http://www.amazon.com/Persecuted-The-Global-Assault-Christians/dp/1400204410

            Here is also a wiki link for you
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_martyrs

            Btw, do a quick search and write in the search box "crucified Christians"
            You can see even videos from extreme websites crying out allahu akbar while nailing someone to a cross or cutting their throats.

            Do me a favor look up Armenian crucified Christians as well.

            Also search Church burnings in Nigeria Boko Haram.

            Look up Al-shabaab and see how they go into Christian schools and pluck the eyes and burn the kids alive in Ethiopia.

            Complete towns in Iraq overrun by ISIS and women and children killed for the sole reason they were Christians.

            Also look up Muslims playing soccer with the heads of Christians they just killed in Syria.

            I could go on and on. Only someone who so anti-Christian will deny what is in front of their eyes. Complete denial.

          • Ezra Casa

            I would imagine that the works of anti-Islamic propaganda Robert Spencer have a prominent place on your bookshelf?
            By saying this I am in no way condoning terrorism of any sort. Sad that one has to make such a caveat when criticizing an author....but that is the pitiful state of "free speech" to which we have descended.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Spencer_%28author%29

          • Mila

            The irony is that you can actually read this from sources such as CNN, Reuters, and practically every global news source.
            You can also go on the websites of the Jihadists and see them do it with their propaganda videos.
            Ezra, I'm sorry but trying to bring someone up and demonize him has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of what is going on.
            I could post pictures here but they too gruesome.
            Again, someone would have to be so anti-Christian to not see reality. Driven by pride and not facts.
            Even the UN claims, an organization with the largest body being Islamic, doesn't deny this.
            It amazes me that you even brought up Robert Spencer to demonize him and somehow try to deny this happens. Unreal! A new low!

          • Ezra Casa

            Amazing....you are fond of warning us not to get our impression of Catholicism from the media. ;-)

          • Mila

            Are you actually denying the killings of Christians Ezra?
            How ridiculous your statement, especially from someone who just tried to demoniz someone who was not even in the conversation.
            Fact, Christians are being persecuted and martyred. Not because the media says so. In fact, the media doesn't even report on half of it, but because it is fact. You can look it up from reports and from even the jIhadists websites.
            The media lies and in the case of Christians killed it tries to omit.

          • Ezra Casa

            Are you actually denying the killings of Christians Ezra?

            Of course not!....you seem to be deliberately trying to misunderstand me. I am not trying to demonize Spencer...just not in total agreement with what he purports as the truth of Islam.

          • Mila

            Fair enough, but I was surprised that someone would even bring up a name not mentioned and even link a wiki as if anything he said makes the point of Christian persecution not valid.
            I didn't even mention him. I am talking about Christian persecutions and martyrdom and one doesn't need to go to him for that.

          • Ezra Casa

            How ridiculous your statement

            Please be specific about my ridiculous 'statement' that I may respond in defense of your caustic reply.

          • Mila

            The thing about bringing up someone I hardly ever read to try and make the point of Christian persecution and martyrdom today and in the past invalid.
            I could do the same thing. There are plenty of atheists saying and doing horrible things, would that make any point your are trying to make invalid?

          • Doug Shaver

            Are you actually denying the killings of Christians

            The fact of Christians being killed is not evidence that they are killed because they are Christians.

          • Mila

            Tell that to the jihadists who go and burn the Church's who kidnap Christians who force them to convert and who crucify them. I would think that if they killed them for other reasons they wouldn't crucify them.

            Do a quick image search on google and see the crucifixions in Syria, etc.

          • Doug Shaver

            Tell that to the jihadists

            I'm not talking with jihadists. I'm talking with Christians. You're the ones who want me to believe that people are killing you for being Christians and for no other reason.

          • Ezra Casa

            Are you actually denying the killings of Christians Ezra?

            Where did I ever deny that terrorists have killed Christians?

          • Mila

            A self-proclaim atheist state imprisons and sends Christians to labor camps where they are also tortured.

            https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2014/06/north-korea-end-persecution-christians-after-reports-us-tourist-detained/

            North Korean anti-religion campaigns
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_North_Korea

          • Mila
          • Ignatius Reilly

            I am talking about early Christians. I do not deny that Christians are getting killed by Islamic radicals. I don't care much for Islam either.

          • Mila

            From Reuters: About 100 million Christians persecuted around the world.

            http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/08/us-religion-christianity-persecution-idUSBRE9070TB20130108

          • Doug Shaver

            A Christian organization says Christians are being persecuted.

            If I thought I could believe what Christians say just because they say it, I would be a Christian.

          • Mila

            One has to be willfully blind not to see the persecutions in North Korea, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, etc etc.
            And it's not just Christian sources.
            One can also go to the jihadists themselves and see their propaganda.

          • Doug Shaver

            One can also go to the jihadists themselves and see their propaganda.

            My skepticism applies to all propaganda, not just Christian propaganda.

          • Mila

            Their propaganda is to incite violence. If you go to their websites you can see them committing the acts. Burning Christians alive, beheading them, while desecrating Churches, etc.
            In fact, the media shows nothing. If they only show 10% of the brutal persecutions.... Just now they are beginning to show the minimum and people are claiming it's Christian propaganda. I wonder what world they live.
            The irony is that they are not just killing Christians they are also killing other religions and non-believers, but in order to deny Christian persecutions they will also deny their own.

          • Doug Shaver

            Their propaganda is to incite violence.

            That's exactly why I don't trust anything they say. That includes anything they say about themselves or their motivations.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That is less than 5% of the worldwide Christian population. Christians are not being persecuted everywhere and at all times.
            In some cases now and throughout history, Christians have persecuted the Christians that they had doctrinal differences with.

          • Papalinton

            Mila's: "Martyrs who died for religion, especially during the first centuries, didn't have a book."

            Martyrdom tells us absolutely nothing about the truth of a belief, only the intensity of the emotional baggage.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            This is true

          • William Davis

            Martyrs who died for religion, especially during the first centuries, didn't have a book.

            Justin Martyr often quoted from the gospels and called them the "memoirs of the apostle", making scholars believe they were originally anonymous. Justin Martyr was one of the first real Martyr (other than maybe Paul) hence the name. It's amazing how little so many Catholics no about their own religion.

            P.S. No one has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit

            https://mettarefuge.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/thich-nhat-hanh-on-buddhism-mindfulness-and-the-holy-spirit/

            One need not subscribe to a creed in order to aspire to virtue.

          • Mila

            St. Justin Martyr died in 165 AD

            The canon was compiled in the late 300s
            And yes the gospels he did quote. They were written by the Apostles. It wasn't until Gnostics invented and distorted gospels that the Catholic Church had to correct that error and compile the canon. If it wasn't for heretics!

            Let's look at some of the quotes of St. Justin Martyr.

            "We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these, but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151])."

            I wonder why don't some Christians today don't believe in the real presence. Amazing how little they know about Christianity. I wonder if the Catholic Church wouldn't have compiled the books how many other heretic gospels they would have taken serious.

            It's it good that you actually know minimal of the early Christians. Keep digging. You'll find out how Catholic they were, especially when it comes to the real presence.

            I'm wondering if the early Christians from the say 180 AD didn't believe in a creed. Well we can discard the apostle's creed for that matter.

          • Doug Shaver

            Keep digging. You'll find out how Catholic they were,

            Not surprising, considering that for almost a thousand years, only Catholics were preserving any documents from the ancient world. They didn't have to destroy any documents they didn't like. Simple neglect would have ensured their disappearance from the historical record.

          • Mila

            Here is the description of the Mass from the first apologia of St. Justin Martyr

            “ No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

            We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

            The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

            On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

            On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen”. The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

            The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

            We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.“

          • Papalinton

            It was Justin Martyr that confessed, in his First Apology [Old gods become new? :o) ]

            "And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter."

          • Mila

            He was talking to Greeks obviously And was refuting the myth that Christianity was atheistic. See Greeks weren't used to worshiping one God.

          • Mila

            Here is Justin Martyr's refutation from his apoligia

            Chapter 6. Charge of atheism refuted

            Hence are we called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them inreason and truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.

            http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm

          • Doug Shaver

            Justin Martyr often quoted from the gospels

            I've read Justin. I don't remember him doing that.

          • Papalinton

            "For many centuries people didn't read the book. The book is part of the sacred tradition."

            No. That is not correct. No catholic was allowed to read the bible unless you were an ordained priest. To do so was a punishable offence. People in the general community did not have personal access to the bible until the Protestant revolution.

            "The same book tells us that the pillar and bulwark of truth is the Church."

            No. The church fashioned for itself the misperception it was the pillar and bulwark of truth. It was an institutional decision.

          • Mila

            Nope, there was no printing press. The bible was on scrolls and parchments. Even before the reformation the bible had already been translated into different dialects. It was also the Catholic Church that was teaching people how to read and write.

            And that the Church is the pillar and bulwark of truth was not an institutional decision. It is actually in the bible 1 Tim 3:15. I would imagine the Church would have wanted people to read that part especially, but I guess they chained the bibles as you said.

            Here is a good excerpt you might find interesting.

            The Bible was on scrolls and parchments during the early centuries of Christianity. No one had a "Bible". Even into the Middle Ages, each Bible was written by hand. Most people were, at best, only functionally literate. That is partially why they used stained glass windows and art to tell the Bible story. The printing press was not invented until 1436 by Johann Gutenberg. Note: The Gutenberg Bible, like every Bible before it, contained the Deuterocanonical books - the "extra" books as they are called in Evangelical circles.

            So prior to 1436, the idea of everybody having a Bible was out of the question, even if they could read. Yeah, I know it's hard to imagine a world without photocopiers, printing presses, email and websites...

            After the invention of the printing press, prior to Luther's Bible being published in German, there had been over 20 versions of the whole Bible translated into the various German dialects (High and Low) by Catholics. Similarly, there were several vernacular versions of the Bible published in other languages both before and after the Reformation. The Church did condemn certain vernacular translations because of what it felt were bad translations and anti-Catholic notes (vernacular means native to a region or country).

          • Mike

            bc the book isn't even 1 book but many books plus the catechism is a good start too also the roman church is open and liberal in its approach to ppl: it has many roads leading to it.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So it is too long to read before you convert? Mike, I have a very strong impression that you do not understand the Catholic faith.

            also the roman church is open and liberal in its approach to ppl: it has many roads leading to it.

            Do any of those roads involve learning about the faith?

          • Mike

            what are you going on about? if you don't believe in the sky fairy quit worrying about it and get outside more!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I find that many Catholic do not know the faith that they promote.

          • William Davis

            I've always thought you can't believe something you don't understand. So if mike doesn't understand Catholicism, he's on his way to hell with us, lol.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            This is what I don't understand about hell. If God is the source of all that is good in my life, would I not repent of all my sins after a split second of hell, which is the total absence of that goodness (plus some torture)? It would seem that one second of hell would make me want God forever. However, at that point, according to our Catholic friends we have already made our choice, so we will just have to suffer forever.

          • Doug Shaver

            female preachers are only in liberal protestant congregations

            I belonged to a Pentecostal sect so conservative that we thought most other Pentecostals were going to burn in hell. The sect had a few ordained women as ministers. Not many, and some members of the sect thought there shouldn't be any, but they were there.

          • Mike

            interesting but i know literally nothing about that 'charismatic' world - actually i saw a talk given by ross douthat and in it he said that he grew up in a upper class NE secular family but in his very early teens his mom got into that pentec. world and they started going to services in diff. places - just struck as weird that someone from that background would get involved in something so "weird".

          • Doug Shaver

            My family was secular, too. I was converted to evangelical Protestantism was I was 12. My parents didn't convert, but they were committed to not interfering with anyone's religious activities, including their children's. The Pentecostals recruited me when I was 14. I bailed on fundamentalism of all kinds when I was 18 and hung around liberal churches for a few more years.

            The negative consequences of my involvement with fundamentalism in general, and with that Pentecostal sect in particular, plagued me for years afterward, and still do in some ways. However, I learned some things that I am very glad to have learned, and it seems unlikely that I could have learned them any other way.

          • Francis Miller

            No, it is a choice that is freely taken. Choosing life without God means death. Hell is death of the soul. There can be nothing worse and so made for us to be a fearful and fearsome place if we can use the word place, for being without God is being nothing. We have very little ability to discern who is closer to being a saint or to being lost, only God does. What he gave us is himself, Jesus Christ, and his grace to accept forgiveness and to aid us to choose rightly. The atheist argument for nothing leaves me unmoved, it like evil does not exist in itself but is derivative. Evil needs goodness to foil or ruin, atheism needs faith to spoil and ruin. To believe in nothing offers no starting place. In every age it must ally itself with the current 'thinking'. Atheism is ancient but rarely pure. The current fixation it has with gnosticism at least gives it something to crow about. But offering only nothing as if it were something is mean, cold and desolate. Unlike the atheist line of hopelessness wrapped up in magical thinking, we all remain people of hope regardless. That is why such arguments remind me of this, "People will believe anything, even the truth." GK Chesterton.

          • Mike

            excellente.

          • William Davis

            Threatening me with the death of my soul isn't a problem. Souls are simply a heuristic, they don't actually exist. I'm hardly concerned with the death of something that doesn't exist :)

          • Francis Miller

            If you are right that there is nothing beyond materialism, then you are correct. The delusion of meaning in life or what makes up life is truly humbug. Life is then pointless and arbitrary. The problem is that such a view feels so wrong. It explains so little that it must be dismissive and not reasoned with evidence that we and nature are much more than we simply appear. Jesus taught that he came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. Why bother? We bother greatly because life has meaning and purpose.

          • Mila

            For me hell is the rejection of God. It has absolutely nothing to do with revenge at all. I mean here we are in a temporary state with free will and the possibility to get grace, supernatural help. Without that supernatural help nobody will resist the glory of God.
            When I was nine years old I started to choke and I panicked. I went into a desperation mode and just froze. I couldn't breath through my mouth or nose. I just stood there frozen. All I did was ask with all my will for God to help me. In an instant I was outside my body and I was paralyzed while looking at my body from above. I didn't feel anything physical at all, but I felt this enormous purity and joy that it was impossible to endure. I was paralyzed in that state while I looked at my body frozen. It's impossible to explain with words, but those who think that there is nothing after this will be surprised.
            And unfortunately it IS possible to resist God. The same glory of God will burn those who didn't let Him perfect our fallen nature or at least plant that seed of grace. God will be all consuming spiritual fire for those who never equipped themselves to resist that all consuming spiritual glory. We are fallen and thus can't resist Him.
            The glory of God will be hell for those who rejected Him. And this is visible even now in the body to a lesser degree of course.

          • William Davis

            I do not resist God. I believe in a God who is better than yours, a God who is just, a God who is honest, a God who would not associate himself with a Church that deceives. Bad people cling to faith as a life raft, and are quick to condemn others for no reason other than subscription to a creed. This is tribalism of the worst sort.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribalism

          • Doug Shaver

            And unfortunately it IS possible to resist God.

            Then he is not omnipotent.

          • Mila

            He is but we are not.

          • Doug Shaver

            If I can prevent him from getting something he wants, then there is a way in which I have more power than he does.

          • Mila

            It's not that you can prevent Him from getting something He wants, it's that we reject what He gives us.

          • Doug Shaver

            it's that we reject what He gives us.

            You say so. I have rejected nothing from him.

          • Papalinton

            "For me hell is the rejection of God."

            So Hell is just a state of mind. I figured that out decades ago.

          • Mila

            That's what will get us to Hell. Hell is living without God. Not only a state but also a place as both soul and body are lost

        • Ignatius Reilly

          Why? Is God going to send him to hell because he is not a catholic?
          Try not to judge the ways of God.

          • Mike

            God will not force him to accept him if he doesn't want God, he will leave him alone for ever...it's his and your choice - choose wisely.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Maybe God thinks that we have accepted him, but is sick an tired of the religious who do all sorts of evil in his name.

            Maybe God prefers honest compassionate atheists. I think you have an impoverished notion of God, which leads you to believe that he sends people to hell.

          • Mike

            who said atheists can't go to heaven?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            you keep insinuating it. Arguably the church used to teach it:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extra_Ecclesiam_nulla_salus

          • William Davis

            Doing evil is one thing, doing evil in the name of God is somehow worse because of the repulsive hypocrisy involved.

          • William Davis
          • Ezra Casa

            Something re: hell that you may find interesting.

            http://www.uscatholic.org/church/2011/09/has-hell-frozen-over

          • Mike

            Hell is real and i believe it is real; justice is impossible w/o hell; btw it's essentially a moving away from God who is goodness itself.

          • Doug Shaver

            God will not force him to accept him

            If he wants me to accept him, he can do it without the use of any force whatever.

          • Mike

            fair enough but if someone decides affirmatively they don't want him like say hitchens would seemed very determined to reject any such possibilities then that's a tough call but if like you you remain open but unconvinced i think the church says well the mercy of god is infinite so we hope for the best outcome.

          • Doug Shaver

            if someone decides affirmatively they don't want him like say hitchens would seemed very determined to reject any such possibilities . . . .

            He was responding to what believers say about God. To many of us, what believers say about God does not look like anything we should want to exist.

            Of course, Hitchens knew better than to think that the Christian God couldn't exist just because he didn't want it to exist, but the notion that all atheist arguments are motivated by antipathy to Christian teachings is demonstrably untrue. I've known a few atheists to say that in their opinion, it would be great if Christianity were true, but they nevertheless feel compelled to conclude, from their examination of the evidence, that it probably isn't.

            but if like you you remain open but unconvinced i think the church says well the mercy of god is infinite so we hope for the best outcome.

            If God's notion of justice is anything like my own notion of justice, then I'm supremely confident that I have nothing to worry about if he is real, and that is not because I think I'm such a good person that he couldn't possibly have any objections to the way I've lived my life. I think nothing of the sort.

            Now, a Christian might respond that I'm unwarranted in supposing that God's notion of justice is so consistent with my own. Very well, it could be very different. But if it is, I'm not going to waste any of my precious time trying to second-guess him or trying to guess which of the umpteen religious sects in this world have made the right guess.

      • Mila

        Then why try and distort the history of what is supposedly a myth?
        If I didn't believe in unicorns, then why would I try and say that their hair was blue rather than white or any other color for that matter?

        • David

          Obviously, the person who wrote the article thinks he was real. I don't. If I had written this, I would have jumped right to the most important point which is that jesus is a fiction.

          • Mila

            Fair enough.
            Here is another article by the same author of this one, Valerie Taric.... "Five Reasons to Suspect Jesus Never Existed"
            http://valerietarico.com/2014/08/28/jesus-myth-or-history/

          • David

            Well there you go, that's better.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            From the bottom of the article you linked:

            Not being an insider to this debate, my own inclination is to defer to the preponderance of relevant experts... I shall assume that the Jesus stories probably had some historical kernel.

            It seems that she does believe that a historical Jesus existed and just wrote that article to present that side of the argument.

          • "I would have jumped right to the most important point which is that jesus is a fiction."

            I first find it odd that you would describe Jesus' non-existence as a "fact." You must have some overwhelming proof to confirm that he certainly did not exist (not that he possibly didn't exist, but that it's a fact he doesn't exist.) Can you perhaps share just the single, strongest bit of evidence in this regard?

            Also, I'm curious whether you realize that *no* mainstream historical scholar believes Jesus is a fiction. Even the overwhelming majority of *atheist* biblical critics believe Jesus existed, including most notably Bart Ehrman, who wrote a whole book defending that fact.

          • William Davis

            Yeah, Jesus mythicism reaks of conspiracy thinking. They think even Josephus and Tacitus were "in on it." This isn't to say all mythicists are dumb or anything, but there must be some reason that people worship Jesus instead of Hercules.

          • Doug Shaver

            Yeah, Jesus mythicism reaks of conspiracy thinking.

            Some of it does. Most of it doesn't.

            They think even Josephus and Tacitus were "in on it."

            You're talking about Atwill's theory. Most mythicists think it's about as credible as they think Christian orthodoxy is.

          • William Davis

            The claim that the Josephus and Tacitus references are forged is the usual response. The way I worded it fit the conspiracy thinking theme, I used it since it exists.

          • Doug Shaver

            The claim that the Josephus and Tacitus references are forged is the usual response.

            It might be the usual response in online forums. The people doing the heavy scholarly lifting are not so simplistic.

          • Marc Riehm

            ...there must be some reason that people worship Jesus instead of Hercules

            The same could be said for Buddha, Mohammed, Jim Jones, or David Koresh.

          • William Davis

            I was arguing for his existence, not saintliness. I'm confident Jesus was a man, not God. Christ myth theory says Jesus never existed. All of the cases you just mention indicate that a historical figure was behind the religion. I'm not saying I know Jesus existed, but it seems more plausible than not.

          • Marc Riehm

            Sorry, I misunderstood. And I agree - it seems very unlikely that there was not a man who started this all!

          • Doug Shaver

            including most notably Bart Ehrman, who wrote a whole book defending that fact.

            And that book was a travesty. Many of us mythicists were looking forward quite eagerly to its publication, and were sorely disappointed when we finally got to read it. We expected something much better from someone with his track record of excellent scholarship.

            I do agree with you, though, that to state Jesus' nonexistence as a simple fact is way overstating the case.

        • Doug Shaver

          Then why try and distort the history of what is supposedly a myth?

          The people who are saying Jesus was married are not the same people who say he never existed. Try to remember that the people who disagree with you can also disagree with each other.

          • Mila

            Of course, I know disagreement exists among non-theists, anti-theists, etc.

            My bad, I'm Catholic so for me Jesus Christ is God incarnate so an atheist arguing something about Jesus Christ I automatically think he/she is talking about God. :)

            Anyway, the source is a forgery. It is at least 600 years older than Christ, so I would think any group can discard it as evidence of Christ's history.

          • Doug Shaver

            Anyway, the source is a forgery.

            I agree it probably is, but it would not matter much as a historical source if it were authentic. I do not equate authenticity with credibility.

          • Mila

            "I do not equate authenticity with credibility."
            I don't understand what you mean here. Can you elaborate?
            If something is not authentic, why would I give it any credence at all?
            For example, with this case. They did radioactive testing and the "gospel" dates to at least 600 years after Christ. Why would I take anything they say about how Jesus Christ lived and how his appearance was like from a forgery?
            I rather read from the witnesses themselves even if they are copies.

          • Doug Shaver

            If something is not authentic, why would I give it any credence at all?

            My point was to dispute the implication, "If it is authentic, then we should believe what it says."

            However, inauthenticity does not always render a document worthless as historical evidence. People have reasons for producing forgeries, and if we can figure those reasons out, we can learn something about the social or political conditions in which they lived. The Donation of Constantine doesn't tell us anything about Constantine, but it enlightens us about things that were happening in the 8th century or thereabouts, which was when it was produced.

          • Mila

            If they crucify Christians could that be because they are Buddhist?

          • Doug Shaver

            When they crucified anybody, it was usually because someone in a position of authority thought they had committed a crime for which crucifixion was the stipulated punishment.

          • Mila

            Well today they do it because it represents how Christ died.
            I don't want to post pictures here but you can look up Christian crucifixions 2014

      • David, do you really think Jesus is a myth or are you just being facetious?

        • David

          Yes, I really think jesus is a myth.

          • In that case, you might be interested in the many articles we have on the issue, ranging from atheists to Catholics who believe Jesus was, in fact, not a myth:

            https://strangenotions.com/tag/mythicism/

          • David

            I've read them and I find them as unsatisfying as pretty much everything else that has been posted here.

          • Mike

            What would "satisfy" "you"; what would satisfy "david"?

    • David Nickol

      So a papyrus that after radiocarbon dating suggests to be between the sixth and ninth centuries A.D. is what they are using to make their claims?

      As I pointed out at length in another message, no one is using The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife to make an argument that Jesus was married.

      • Mila

        I'm not just saying that claim specifically. I'm actually saying any claim at all. Nobody can claim anything about Jesus at all from a gospel forgery that is at least 600 years older than Christ.

  • Stuart

    As for #4, does it really matter how tall He was? I'm sure, some of His Apostles/the people around Him were taller than Him. He is probably just depicted taller than others, because He was a teacher and a leader, so it brings attention to Him and like He is speaking from a higher place with authority. Plus, it would look weird in art, if Jesus was in the middle of a group of people teaching and they were looking down on Him. It would come off more as He was being talked down to or scoffed at, rather than Him doing the teaching.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Another point to add about The Gospel of Jesus' Wife is that even if it is not a forgery, it dates from a few hundred years after Jesus' life. So it would, at most, only show that a group of later Christians believed he was married, but nothing about the historical Jesus.

    My take on the question of Jesus' marrital status is that it could go either way. The gospels don't say much (if anything) on the topic, and it seems that the Church tradition could have just as easily been born out of early Christian asceticism (which itself could have just as easily been born out of philosophical reasons than out of any example set by Jesus.)

  • This is quite interesting, the scrap of papyrus is called an unreliable fake because it is anonymous, dates back only to 9th century, we cannot confirm the chain of ownership, its in the wrong language, and is interpreted as contrary to other gospels?

    The majority of the earliest New Testament fragments do not date back earlier than 10th century, are often not in the language the "author" would have written them and we don't know where they came from. At least I one of the epistles if Paul is pseudynonmous.

    Since when does being a fake prevent a text from from counting as scripture? The canon of the Bible was assembled based whether it met with the theological views of the councils that compiled them and not even all Christians agree on what is scripture.

    • Doug Shaver

      Since when does being a fake prevent a text from from counting as scripture?

      The issue is not whether it is a fake. The issue is whether most early church authorities believed it was a fake.

      At least I one of the epistles if Paul is pseudynonmous.

      The current consensus is that at least three are. And if they were just now being discovered, they probably wouldn't begin to pass muster.

      The early authorities didn't know quite as much as we know about how to identify forgeries. They weren't known to be forgeries (or proven to be probable forgeries) until modern times. By then, their canonical status was so entrenched that the Catholic Church said they were authoritative even if faked. Protestants, for their part, decided either to agree with the Catholics or to dispute the scholarly consensus.

  • Point 8 is an interesting issue to demonstrate the difference between having theological versus historical principles guide the dating of a document. As far as I can tell mainstream historians use the "prophecy" of the destruction of the temple to date Mark at no earlier than 70 AD or so. If you disagree, feel free to edit the Wikipedia entry to "probably dates before 70 AD" and back up your edit with reputable historical references.

    The reason this will be difficult is because history applies methodological naturalism. It takes it as a given that the author of Mark did not discuss the future of Jerusalem buildings with a person who could read the future, but rather, that he know the buildings would be destroyed because he had survived or was living through the Roman crushing of the Jewish revolt.

    Yes, reputable scholars can use this "prophecy" to justify their beliefs, but this is theology, not history. It is ironic to see historical critical methods used to call the marriage fragment a fake to be igonred, then ignore these principles in defending prophecy in the bible.

    The same can be said for the myths of Jesus fulfilling prophecy of a man being born from a young woman and some of the last words of Christ. These texts could easily have been copied in from the Old Testament, rather than the OT predicting someone would independently write them. The game is up with the gospels, they are often word for word the same, this does not imply that they miraculously and independently came up with the exact same text. It implies they are not independent!

  • David Nickol

    1. Jesus was married, not single.

    This tired old claim has seemingly been refuted more times than the earth has revolved around the sun, but Tarico backs it up with a rather recent discovery . . . .

    Actually, all Tarico says is, "When an ancient papyrus scrap was found in 2014 referring to the wife of Jesus, some Catholics and Evangelicals were scandalized.

    Tarico does not adduce The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is evidence that Jesus was married. She merely points out that the idea that he was married "scandalized" some Catholics and Evangelicals. Whether the papyrus is a forgery or not has little impact on whether Jesus was married. Karen L. King, the scholar who brought the papyrus to public attention made no claim that the papyrus proved Jesus was married. Note this from the New York Times.

    She [Karen L. King] repeatedly cautioned that this fragment should not be taken as proof that Jesus, the historical person, was actually married. The text was probably written centuries after Jesus lived, and all other early, historically reliable Christian literature is silent on the question, she said.

    But the discovery is exciting, Dr. King said, because it is the first known statement from antiquity that refers to Jesus speaking of a wife. It provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.

    “This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” she said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”

    Even assuming the story of the boy Jesus in the Temple is true (which seems doubtful to me), there is virtually noting known about Jesus from that point until he is in his thirties. Could Jesus have been a widower?

    • William Davis

      I don't remember all the detail, but Bart Ehrman is pretty convinced Jesus was never married (and he tends to not take hard stances on things). It is fact that a large percentage of men were unmarried because so many women died in childbirth. Paul's point of view in 1 Corinthians 7 (that is best if a man not touch a women) seem to be very common in early Christianity according to Bart. It is almost certain that Jesus had brothers (Bart says Catholics in his classes get mad about it because of the perpetual virginity of Mary). Not only does Paul write about James the brother of Jesus, but it is in Mark and other writings.

  • David Nickol

    2. Jesus had cropped hair, not long.

    The truth that Jesus had long hair is at the very core of the Catholic faith. Given the nature of this site, I think it would be insensitive to speculate otherwise.

  • David Nickol

    9. Some quotes are not from Jesus; others are uncertain.

    Is there a reputable biblical scholar in the 21st century who would actually claim that all the quotes in red in a red-letter New Testament English translation are the words of Jesus as faithfully translated from the Greek, as faithfully translated from the original Aramaic Jesus spoke, as faithfully remembered or recorded by those who heard Jesus in person?

    I don't think so.

    • Doug Shaver

      Is there a reputable biblical scholar in the 21st century who would actually claim . . . ?

      That depends on your criteria for deciding who is reputable. The scholars you're talking about would be, almost certainly, all inerrantists. Among people whose opinions I respect, inerrantists are generally not held in high repute.

  • Mike

    Off topic but interesting:

    http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1523413.ece

    it's about philosophy of mind and the "mind-body" problem; here's an interesting bit: "You see that there is – must be – more to matter than physics can tell us."

    • Loreen Lee

      Thank you for posting this link here, even tough it is most relevant to the last discussion. Yes. We talk of panpsychism and even pantheism.on the other hand , but as with many, (most, all) concepts, the difficulty seems to be in bridging the gulfs between them. The article did suggest that even if that computer does present the 'behaviorist' and 'functionalist' requisites that it can 'think', we still are faced with another 'gap'. Wittgenstein's comment cannot be dismissed in this regard even with respect to 'human consciousness': "We do not have 'private access'" or 'we cannot know another's mind'. I myself feel that 'subjectivity' is a far more important concept that 'objectivity'. After all, with respect to the Christian God, at least, it is hypothesized that such a consciousness is omniscient. If that were the case the concept of objectivity would perhaps/indeed be redundant. No wonder, (even within the compass of some kind of identifying with such an 'ideal') it is held to be the ultimate explanation and source of objectivity. We have not only the 'problem of consciousness', however. As the article so rightly stated, we also do not know 'what matter/physicality IS'. Thanks again for posting.

  • David Nickol

    4. Jesus was short, not tall.

    . . . It just may have been that he was somewhat taller than the average Jew of his day. Either way, there is no evidence to support Tarico’s claim that Jesus must have been a short man.

    Or it may have been that Jesus was of average height for his time. Or it may have been that he was shorter than average. As far as I can tell, there is no reliable evidence whatsoever about the height of Jesus. There are no physical descriptions by anyone who could possibly have seen Jesus in person, and any artwork depicting Jesus is also too late to have been based on firsthand knowledge of his personal appearance.

    • William Davis

      Well I think Jesus had one blue eye and one brown eye ;P Sometimes you have to wonder what these people are thinking...

  • David Nickol

    8. The prophecies about Jesus were recalled, not foretold.

    I will go out on my own limb here and state that there are no prophecies/predictions of Jesus in the Old Testament. John L. McKenzie, S.J., does't go quite that far in this passage from the entry from Prophet, Prophecy in Dictionary of the Bible, but it is worth quoting (even though I disagree with his assumption that there is "messianism" in the Old Testament):

    It is a common misconception of OT prophecy that it means prediction . . . . This misconception cannot be based upon the NT conception nor on the formula "that it might be fulfilled." Often there is obviously no prediction (e.g., Mt 2:15); there is a reference to an OT character or event which illustrates the reality of the process of salvation, the reality which is "fulfilled" in Jesus Christ. He and the Church are the new Israel and their experience appears in the experience of the old Israel, much as the OT ancestor shows in his life and character the of his descendants. Many of these predictions are intended to illustrate the place of the redemptive suffering in the process of salvation; the Jews were not receptive to the idea of a Messiah who saved through suffering and death, and it was necessary to show that the scandal of the cross appears in the messianism of the OT . . . . In these passages the NT writers take a specialized and apologetic view of the OT which is not intended to be a general exhaustive interpretation. "Fulfillment" is more than the fulfillment of a prediction; it is the fulfillment of a hope, a destiny. a plan, a reality.

    • William Davis

      I think I like John McKenzie already, this quote is awesome:

      ”I think my colleagues in theology and exegesis are open to the charge that they have become mandarins, who speak only to other mandarins about topics which are of interest only to mandarins in a style of discourse which is gibberish to any except mandarins, and one sometimes wonders about them too. Scholarship is and ought to be a form of public service and not an expensive enterprise dedicated to the production of a few more mandarins who can spend a leisurely life in the production of other mandarins”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_L._McKenzie

      • Loreen Lee

        I found his quotes on 'resist not evil'. It reminded me of Neitzsche's saying: There was only one Christian and he died on the cross.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    Heck, the grasp of statistics is not to firm. It doesn't matter what the average height of men was in a population. Roughly speaking, half the men are going to be taller.

    (The other assumption is that the intention of all art is photographic reproduction. But in some styles of art, the sizes of persons portrayed represents their relative importance.)

  • Doug Shaver

    There is sensible skepticism, and then there are other kinds. In the referenced article, Tarico is often not being sensible.

    1. Jesus was married, not single.

    Assuming he existed, we don't really know one way or the other. Many skeptics wish they could prove he was, and the wish seems to color their evaluation of the evidence. Whenever we're talking about Christianity's history, that sort of wishful thinking is entirely too common on all sides. Of all the documents considered most reliable by most Christians, none says that he was never married, but it does seem unlikely to me that if he had had a wife, she would never have been mentioned, or that any mentions that were made would have vanished without leaving any trace in the historical record.

    2. Jesus had cropped hair, not long.

    Sorensen reminds us that "What is considered long depends entirely on cultural context." Of course, but Tarico's point is that in the context of first-century Jewish culture, the hair on Jesus as portrayed in traditional Christian art would have been unacceptably long. Unless the church is going to claim infallibility for its artists, I don't see why this claim ought to provoke anyone's indignation.

    3. Jesus was hung on a pole, not a cross.

    Tarico's appeal to the original Greek proves that it was not necessarily a cross, not that it was anything else. It possibly was just a pole, but possibility is not probability.

    4. Jesus was short, not tall.

    Most men of his time were shorter than most men are nowadays. But for any time and place, most men are within a standard deviation of whatever the average is for that time and place. And, there is a roughly equal likelihood of their being noticeably either taller or shorter than that average. If by "tall" Tarico means "above average" and by "short" she means "below average," she has no argument that Jesus was more probably one than the other.

    5. Jesus was born in a house, not a stable.

    This item is a silly waste of time. Tarico's argument depends on her declaring victory for one side in a debate among textual critics. Sensible skeptics don't do that when writing such a short article for such a general audience as the readership of Salon.

    6. He was named Joshua, not Jesus.

    I'm with Sorensen on this one. His real name was neither Joshua nor Jesus.

    7. The number of apostles (12) comes from astrology, not history

    I agree with Tarico that it's not historical. The connection to astrology, though, is probably more tenuous than is supposed by people attracted to astrotheological hypotheses.

    8. The prophecies about Jesus were recalled, not foretold.

    I agree with Tarico's conclusion, but I find her argument pitifully weak.

    9. Some quotes are not from Jesus; others are uncertain.

    Again, conclusion OK, argument not OK.

  • Michael Murray

    A rather longer discussion here about the possible shape of the cross.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrument_of_Jesus%27_crucifixion

    I guess it would have made the original article far less exciting but a much better article would be "Lots of things we aren't really sure we know about Jesus". But then it might turn into a Bart Ehrman book.

  • Galorgan

    I find the Tarico article to be poor and understand why a Catholic would want to respond to it. However, it does little for stimulating conversation here. I'm only hearing about the article through this website and most of the other atheist commentators seem to agree that it is a poor article.

    • Marc Riehm

      Exactly. It's just a piece of trite, attention-grabbing, journalistic trash.