Jesus vs Atheists
Why are atheists so vociferous about Jesus' existence? What difference does it make if there really was an apocalyptic prophet named Yeshua who preached in Judea? Why do they insist on saying he is a complete myth?
Why do they resort to the typical tactics of Christians, cherry-picking information and passing on rumors without researching?
I myself was guilty of this. It's so easy to see something online or hear someone I like say something that fits in with my worldview and just take is as gospel without thinking critically.
The consensus of leading biblical scholars today say the evidence points to a historical figure. We have as much or more information to verify Jesus' existence than we do for some of the great philosophers from Greece. I think Socrates never left any written evidence either but no one gets bent out of shape when we assume he existed, based on other inferences in teasing out his history.
But my point here is, why does it matter at all? I wrote about this last year: The Jesus Horus Link Revisted For Christmas. Who cares if Jesus existed or not? It certainly doesn't change history. The western world is still saturated with Christianity either way, even the increasingly secular countries.
Personally, I've become comfortable with the consensus that there was a man whom the myths are based on. Just because we accept his existence doesn't mean the whole New Testament is factual or that we have to give up our heathen card and become True Believers. It doesn't mean that he walked on water, was born of a virgin, or ascended into heaven, etc. So where's the threat?
I can also look at the Paul Bunyan story. If you told me there really was a man by that name, I wouldn't get upset about it. It still doesn't mean he had a giant blue ox.
I'm no biblical scholar by any means. I will leave that to the knowledgeable people who find it much more interesting than I do, just like I leave the details of what happens at CERN to the scientists there, and all the other brilliant people who can grasp what is going with particle physics, and interpret the data. I understand I don't know even a fraction of the information and nuances of either field, among many others, and that's just fine.
I can bake awesome cookies though, so I'm not completely useless! :)
Nicholas Bruzzesse and I have a Skype talk planned for the near future where we will talk about such things. He hosts the wonderful The Skeptic's Testament, which is all about "thinking skeptically about religion". In fact, he just did an episode which is about what is known of Jesus' birth story, Episode 2:11. I have only had a chance to listen to half of it but it's very interesting, as usual.
We can never know exactly what happened 2,000 years ago. That's not how history works. So let's not quibble over silliness, when what matters is how Christianity impacts our world today. If a man who preached the End Times existed all those millennia ago walked the earth is irrelevant. What matters is that people actually believed the legends and created a religion out of it - and then spawned another religion several hundred years later.
If you combine all forms of Christianity and Islam, the effect is staggering, now and throughout history since their creations. About 55% of the world is either Christian or Muslim, which is about 3.8 billion people. That is what matters. And what we do about it now is the most important of all.
So what about you? What do you think? And why does it matter if he did exist?