Shadowy History of Christianity.

Barabara G. Walker’s, Man Made God, summarizes a lot of material from other sources.  This helps develop an overview of where Christianity came from.

She discusses one of the ancients whose influence continues today, the historian and Bishop, Eusebius.   Some of what he wrote continues to be used as important Christian material.  But, he was also a participant in some shenanigans.

When the Roman Emperor, Constantine, made Christianity the state religion, he demanded all the gods of that time be made into one.  Toward that end, he convened the Council of Nacia where the Bishops of that time made sure that happened.  The Trinity and the Nicene Creed resulted.

Who better to bring all this together than Eusebius, a writer and favorite of the Emperor, Constantine.  We see him there, not at the time of Jesus, but four hundred years later hammering into place what became today’s Christian faith.

Then, there is the only piece of writing that claims to record the activities of the Jesus preacher “written at the time of Jesus”.  This is found in writing attributed to Josephus, a historian recording events at the time Jesus was supposed to have lived.

In the earliest copies of the Josephus writing, there is no account of a Jesus.  Then, some 400 years later another historian quotes Josephus writing about a Jesus.  The historian who “found” this when others had not (inserted it himself many believe) was the propagandist and promoter of Christianity, Eusebius.

Those of us who don’t believe have our reasons.

 

 

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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78 Responses to Shadowy History of Christianity.

  1. Henry says:

    “but four hundred years later hammering into place what became today’s Christian faith.”

    Jon, your premise is the current Christian precepts never existed prior to 400 A.D. (or 325 A.D.) I disagree with this. I acknowledge that gnostic versions existed as well prior to 325 A.D. that atheists for some reason seem so very fixated upon. However, these don’t seem to align with the writings of the apostles very well.

  2. pk says:

    I don’t get your title, “Shadowy History of Christianity”. It sounds so scary. So who originally came up with the “Christianity/Jesus” concept then? Was it the apostles, or didn’t they exist like Jesus? Was it the apostolic fathers, if they even existed? Was it the Roman Empire? Maybe it was Hitler.

  3. Stan says:

    Sorry, in Mathew, at least first century

    Matthew 28:19-20

    New International Version (NIV)

    19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity 150 years earlier then you place it.

  4. Stan says:

    1 Corinthians 15:3-4[106] reads: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” This contains a Christian creed of pre-Pauline origin. The antiquity of the creed has been located by many Biblical scholars to less than a decade after Jesus’ death, originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community.

    Wow, by AD 43, very early

    • Stan says:

      Lucian, a 2nd century Roman satirist, wrote, “the Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.”

      About a decade after Josephus’ writings, Pliny the Younger (c. 61 – c. 112), a Roman governor, wrote to Emperor Trajan concerning how to deal with Christians, who refused to worship the emperor, and instead worshiped Jesus. His letters show the Christians in his day to be very strongly devoted, and enough of a problem for him to request advice from the emperor.

      Tacitus, writing c. 116, included in his Annals a mention of Christianity and “Christus”, viewed by most scholars as a reference to Jesus. In describing Nero’s persecution of this group following the Great Fire of Rome c. 64, he wrote, “Nero fastened the guilt of starting the blaze and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome.”

      Suetonius (c. 69–140) wrote in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars about riots which broke out in the Jewish community in Rome under the emperor Claudius. He said, “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [ Claudius ] expelled them [the Jews] from Rome”.[139] The event was noted in Acts 18:2

      The Talmud, a series of religious documents created by Jewish scholars between 200 and 500 AD, refer to Jesus using the term “Yeshu.” These references probably date back to the 2nd century.[142] One important reference relates the trial and execution of Jesus and his disciples,[142] saying “On the eve of Passover they hung Yeshu and the crier went forth for forty days beforehand declaring that “[Yeshu] is going to be stoned for practicing witchcraft, for enticing and leading Israel astray….But no one had anything exonerating for him and they hung him on the eve of Passover”

      • entech says:

        How did Yeshua who was hanged become Jesus who was crucified?
        With no traditional Jewish belief in bodily resurrection before the end time how did Yeshua the Jew become Christ resurrected?

        Of course, it could be part of the invented religion of Paul.

        • Stan says:

          Hung on a cross? I think the way they portray the crucifixion as hung on the cross as an accurate description.

          So you picked one out of 6 to argue, what about the rest? If you look at the messiah prophecies you will find both what reasonable thinkers would say are crucifixions and resurrection. Christ was not just A Jew but the Son. There also were Jewish traditions of resurrection of all at the end of time. Not all Jews agreed, there were arguments between the Pharisees and the Sadducees about this. The Monty Python sketch about the Judea Freedom Front or what ever were not that far off. So what Jewish group do we pick as the official group? Even the First Christians in Jerusalem considered themselves Jews first.

          • entech says:

            What needs to be said about the other five, no one denies Christianity existed for all that time. No where outside of the Bible do you read of the life of your Christ only of the church named after him.
            There was more than one Yeshua. I am not impressed by the prophecies, mostly vague and inconclusive and if you search backwards long enough you will find find something near enough to what you want, it gets closer when translated through a couple of languages with a desired end in view.
            Resurrection for all at the end of time yes, individual intermediary events no.

          • Stan says:

            When a new translation is made they go back to the oldest and most original material they can find. It is never a translation of a translation. Why should they do that?

            I(t is funny that we have only 1-2 copies of the work of Plato but we take everything in them as the actual word of Plato. Mean while we have hundreds of copies and fragments of the Bible from the earliest time and except for spelling mistakes or minor word placement are exactly the same but we call into question wither it is faithfully copied.

            As far as the Messianic Prophecies, there were hundreds in the Old Testament and Christ was able to fulfill all of them. Not bad writing for a bunch of uneducated fisherman and tax collectors.

            I wish we could keep a scorecard, half of the unbelievers don’t believe Paul existed, the other half think he was a conspirator. Why he should have invented a religion which would sooner or later bring him to violent death I don’t understand. It was never IF but WHEN he would be killed for his beliefs.

    • entech says:

      The epistle was written from Ephesus (16:8), a city on the west coast of today’s Turkey, about 180 miles by sea from Corinth. According to Acts of the Apostles, Paul founded the church in Corinth (Acts 18:1-17), then spent approximately three years in Ephesus (Acts 19:8, 19:10, 20:31). The letter was written during this time in Ephesus, which is usually dated as being in the range of 53 to 57 AD

      • Stan says:

        Entech…..This contains a Christian creed of “pre-Pauline” origin. Placing it before his time in Corinth or Ephesus. I do like that you did some digging for that instead of just saying “False”.

        Either way it is still less then 400 AD, the time which Jon thinks it ALL happened.

        • entech says:

          Still a searcher not just a denier. I think Jon is talking about the time it was all formalised 3-400 years after. For a long time it could have gone in many directions, adoptionists, gnostics, marcionites and so on.

          • Stan says:

            There is a lot of writing pre-Constantine from the early Church fathers totally ignored by Jon. I just finished a book call the “The Mass of the Early Christians” Which traces the Mass back to the early churches in the first century. In one of the letters of Paul it calls for almost the same format still used by the Catholic Church even.

            You have to ignore a lot of data in order to declare that the church is basically the form we know it wasn’t started soon after the death of Christ.

          • entech says:

            That there was a form close to the final version need not be doubted, the final version wrote the history, most of the original writings of the failed versions were destroyed and we know most about them from the critiques, the “against all heresy” type writings, it is a bit ironic that most of what is known is from the critiques. But not all died out, bits of gnosticism keep coming back into vogue and “The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Arian Catholicism” is still extanr.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 9:11 “That there was a form close to the final version need not be doubted, the final version wrote the history, most of the original writing of the failed versions were destroyed..we know about them from the critiques, the ‘against all heresy’ type writings…”

            Exactly. There were all kinds of “Christianity”, many “christs”, “messaiahs”, “chosen ones”, “sons of god”, “those prophsized”, “the one who died for our sins” and all the rest. Inevitably there was one like that which emerged and a “prophesy” could be found to match the end result. So many Christians think the faith is popular because of what happened in the first 40 years, CE. The real keys to why Christianity is so popular happened 300-400 years later. When it became ONE story, with ONE approved book, under ONE dictatorship with most competing stories burned and their followers killed, the world had “Christianity”. Without a government forced standardization it was just a few thousand iterant preachers going around saying they heard voices.

            Stan, I like it that you are reading a lot of history. I’d only suggest you pick up some books that were not written to justify the faith, but to poke holes in it. After that you can poke holes in those poking holes.

          • Stan says:

            Jon, how many times have you read the Bible or read the books that support the Faith. That finger can be pointed both ways but it seems to be a requirement of only the Faithful.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Stan 2:10 I was a practicing Christian for over half a century–perhaps longer than you have been one. I read the Bible virtually every day–could not write this blog without reading the Bible. I read several blogs everyday on Christian sites. I read about people’s Christian testimony in the newspaper more than once a week.

            There is one conclusion that seems to me solid, the version of history provided by officials and practicioners of the faith is differenct than that of others. For example, people of faith discount the importance of 4th Century dictatorship adopting Christianity, forcing it on the population and destroying its competition. I suppose they conclude it would have happened w/o the force of an army and government. Others of us conclude something different.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; In the time frames you reference, sometimes the organized church worked with the state. Sometimes the state worked with the church. Sometimes they worked as one. Sometimes for the good, but mostly for the bad, as individuals with ambition on both sides had agendas. As they do to this very day. Bearing that in mind, It still does not make or break “The Church”. Equally as much was done to harm the church then, with reprecussions up to today. Still “The Church Universal” exists, and will continue to exist, in spite of ourselves. Today, I see the greatest enemy of “The Church” as being some within that church. Bad examples, poor witness, doctrinal indiference, sectarianism, and self righteousness with no humility, are but a few examples. But then again, this is not new, but is more visable due to technology. On the other hand, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We do need to be reminded by you of the past. By and large, the church is more than aware of it, and tries to work around and through it in a positive constructive manner.
            As I have said before, this is more of a family matter, and no one else’s business. I do believe there is enough sibling rivalry within “The Church”, to supply much constraint, but even then, there are always” kids gone wild”. Still a family matter. Not yours. Unless you are of the kind that would like to break up families, steal the children and seduce my wife. This would appear to be the case many times .
            Now take your pencil mustache , your Sen-Sens and see to your own business.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 4:55 “Sometimes they (church and distatorships of that time) they worked as one.. Bearing that in mind, it still does not make or break ‘The Church’”

            I think you are saying the Church dogma would remain the same. That must be correct in some cases, others not. In my reading, the Trinity was imposed by the state, thus changed the dogma.

            Now if you are saying the course, size and influence of Christianity was not influenced by the Roman dictator, who supplied the muscle to convert the masses, that’s hard to accept.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Actually, there is strong evidence that the emperor, and even a pope had Arian leanings, and he (Alexander) refused baptism until just before his death. The forced conversions then and later is a different matter, which produced mostly paper Christians. Overplayed by the faithfull, and overestimated by the detractors. Somewhere in between is what actually happened.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Re. the Trinity, ie. “The Triunity of the Godhead”; There is ample evidence for it in both the OT, and the New. If you choose to deny it, that is up to you. Then, and as now there are some that disagree. I don’t believe Constantine, (I should have said Constantine in my last post instead of Alexander), was as concerned over the matter as much as he was concerned about unity. As it were, the Bishops were in heavy involvement, and didn’t simply act at the whim of the Emperor. The councils were primarily called to clarify dogma on this and other matters, such as the hypostasis, and the hypostatic union. A similar situation happened in Germany with Fredrich William lll and the Prussian Union. His desire was a unified religion for a unified state. He forced the Lutherans to merge with the Calvanists, with insuing confiscation of property and prison for Lutherans who didn’t comply. That lasted only about 30 years, but in the meantime many “Old Lutherans”, (A name) left Prussia/ Saxony, and wound up in Australia, and Missouri USA, the start of the LCMS. Even then as now forced compliance will not work in the long run.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; I think you would have to agree that in “Germania”,(land of the Barbarian), the old pagan influences, customs and traditions didn’t disappear easily. Even through the middle ages, and even into the time of the Reformation, some of those old superstitions were in strong abundance. If Constantine had as much absolute power in conjunction with the Catholic church as you imply, those superstitions would have been gone a long time ago. Yes, some of those traditions were inculturated into the Catholic Church, but with different symbolism, and content. Want to buy a Christmas tree? Yule log? (from the sacred grove).

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 7:57 “..the od pagan influences, custom and tradition didn’t disappear easily..some of these old superstions were in strong abundance. If Constantine had as much absolute power..these superstitions would have been gone a long time ago.”

            Yes, it could have been he was unable to completely change the entire society. As you say, many pagan beliefs and symbols were just incorporated into Christianity. Could it be the people who were still practicing something that was essentially paganism called is Christianity and even thought it was Christianity?

            I have a question on you use of terms, “influences”, “custom”, “tradition” and ‘superstition”. Why do you use these terms for paganism and beliefs for Christianity? Are not the tenets of paganism the beliefs of those who follow it? Or, if they are superstitions, would not, or example, the prayers performed by Christians also be superstitions?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Want to burn a witch?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; First of all, I have never said that pagan beleifs were incorporated into the Christian faith. I did say that some of the rituals, (non liturgical) were inculturated into, but with different meaning and content.
            Re. “could it be that they were practecing”…..Yes, that could be entirely true. Up to and including the Middle Ages. Many people were illiterate, lived in the background, and poorly catechised if they were at all. They were told to trust the preist, and in many cases, that was about it. That is why at the time of the Reformation, Luther wrote two catechisms. The small for children and new members, and due to the (in many cases) lack of any training, instruction, and positions bought, the Large Catechism for preists. Many preists were almost as theologically/biblically illeterate as their peasant members. A good breeding ground for the continuation of “the old ways”. There even is a term for those who practiced “the old ways” ; “crypto paganism”. During the early years of this country, there were “crypto Calvinists” within staunchly Lutheran congregations, trying to influence them into Calvinism. Zinzendorf was found guilty of this, along side with the Moravian members.
            As for “terms”, many could be used interchangably. such as custom, tradition, ritual because both sides had all of these.
            The “Paganism up to and including the Middle Ages, was really closer to the soil. Think Celtic. I am not aware of a canon of beleifs, other than ritual, cures, fertility, etc. Ghosts, spirits, charms and chants gave both cure and comfort. You I suspect will equate this to Christianity, and in the Dark Ages, there may have been a fine line between both in some instances. But apart from that, the Scriptures clearly delineate the differences. I am also confident some of the clergy during those times took advantage of the situation for their own benefit. After members were properly chatechised, most of the old superstitions fell by the way, but I’m sure some still held on. We talked about trolls a while ago, and then there were warts, etc. More “Old wives tales”,(sorry ladies), than superstition, nevertheless, a faint waft of unknown memory.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 11:31 Thank you for taking the time to elaborate on the details of how a person from your perspective would see the difference between pagans, pagan rituals and those of Christians.

            As you would no doubt predict, your sentence, “…the scriptures clearly delineate the differences (between legitimate beliefs and superstitions)”, does not convice me there is any difference. One set of people, the pagans, believed the cycles of nature was the god calling the shots, another set, the Christians, saw an invisible ghost located in the sky just high enough to be out of sight.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Not aware of, nor hever heard of the kind of ghost you describe.

  5. entech says:

    What is history but a fable agreed upon.
    Napoleon Bonaparte

  6. Stan says:

    I would argue against “All gods as one” Were there still people worshiping the Pantheon or the Caesars at this time?

    There is too much material such as copies of the Epistles and copies of the Gospels from before the time period you claim for combining the various religions. Christianity is not a conglomeration of ALL religions in the Roman Empire. Demanding that there be one religion and it being Christianity yes.

    And as you can see there were many writers speaking of the Christians long before Constantine.

  7. Wanna B Sure says:

    Stan; Well done ! In spite of that all, most non-believers will continue to look for excuses not to believe. Some honestly, some decietfully. And they work very hard at it. Church history for them is a weapon, not a utensil for a clearer understanding. Church history is not the source of faith, merely a weak confirmation of it. The detractors pick and choose much, ignore more, and twist the most obvious so far out of proportion that they convince themselves as to the correctness of their position. Only parts of the puzzle that fit their picture are used, while the rest are rejected. Yet at the same time they accuse orthodoxy of the very same practices, they are steeped in it. Yes, there were false starts and finishes in the first centuries. The councils and Creeds were the result of these. Entech mentioned the Arian issue. No, it hasn’t gone away. The Jehovah’s Witness are here along that line also. Their presence does not make it so, neither do the gnostics. There is an over abundence of extra-biblical material available. Mostly Gnostic. Mostly fancifull, much of it out of contextual timelines. The Lost Books of Eden certainly should not be taken seriously, but some do. Then there are the apocraphal books, and the dutercanonicals. (intertestemental books). Interesting, but not something from which doctrine should be derived, due to their inconsistencies of times, places, and people etc. Most recently there are the Nag Hammadi materials, and I don’t think it will end there.
    The bottom line is that none of these materials are the source of faith, nor the sustainer of that faith,
    Those of nonbelief claim they want evidence to believe. That won’t happen, although it sounds nice. It won’t happen because they reject the evidence. I have not seen any reliable evidence not to believe. If you have had children, you can relate to the child resisting eating something. Let’s say peas. No amount of convincing or evidence as to the goodness of those peas will make that child accept them. If you try to force it, they become more stronly entrenched in to the hating of peas. First it is the texture, too hot, too green, then the flavor, etc. So it is also with unbelief. Later in life, that child loves peas. (This is a true story in my family).
    Yesterday there was the question of consensus. That will not happen. There is nothing to concede. The only thing atheism will accept is capitulation, and that is not going to happen. The only viable consensus is that neither side kill the other in the discussion.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wanna 1:06 “Church history is not the source of fatih, merely a weak confirmation of it.”

      That’s an honorable statement, except it’s not just a “weak confirmation”, it is no confirmation. Faith comes from somewhere with the human mind–I don’t know where. For those who have it, it’s obvious they like it and I’m happy for them. For those of us who don’t, we’re happy not to have it. May we all live happy lives together.

    • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

      I wouldn’t want to eat peas either, if they were responsible for misogyny, homophobia, and the deaths of thousands of innocent human beings. In fact, I would have no faith that peas where good for me in lieu of the evidence given, their historical past, and the book that tells me peas are good is not even accurate what so ever.

      Where was Jesus from? Galilee? Nazareth? Boston?

  8. Stan says:

    While learning almost anything of difficulty there is a time where a person has to take something on faith to make progress, after that point revelation are made that makes it look much simpler then it did. Whither calculus or physics or chemistry we all run into a wall eventually when something just doesn’t make sense. At this point we have to rely on a teacher or teaching that lifts us past our common sense for a moment. After that you get that Ahaa moment and what was a roadblock becomes clear.

    People who cannot make this leap call the subject too hard or unnecessary and abandon even trying. I ran my head into that roadblock for 50 years before I had that Ahaa moment. I was not trying to justify why I should believe but why I didn’t have to. I was not blindly indoctrinated.

    The beliefs and traditions of the Catholic Church have been consistent and documented from the time of the death of Christ. Yes there were many “Christs” but Christianity as we know it survived great persecution during the early years and has been consistent with it’s message from the beginning. Why would it include the Gnostic gospel when it conflicts with the other Gospels. It isn’t a requirement for it to be “fair” to the others who tried to change or subvert the message. In the Gospels themselves Christ says to beware of those who would pervert the message and be strong in your faith. Why SHOULD I have to give fair shake to the “other” teachings if they are not consistent with our Bible?

    As atheists and free thinkers I would think the Gnostic writings would be even more repulsive being steeped in numerology, mysticism and secret knowledge. Yet you use it as a bat to beat us over the heads with when we reject them. Christianity is really simple if you stick to the Gospels and the letters. Have faith and you will be saved. No secret truths, no special handshake.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Stan 1:47 Thanks for the reflective post. There is nothing wrong with chosing to disregard as not true all the competing “Christ figures” and ancient writings. Wanna does that as well.

      You write, “In the Gospels themselves Christ says to beware of those who would pervert the messagge and be strong in your faith.” This, of course, would have been said by all the other propagandists of that time, and of any other time including the present. For some reason, people of faith seem to believe it only applies to those who followed Christianity.

      I’m not criticizing you for having faith. I’m only pointing out its history is not in sync with history outside the faith.

    • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

      Haha, nice Stan. You first paragraph just describe why faith is an equivalent of cheating on your mid-terms. Copying someones answers without even understanding how you got there or if they ar eeven correct. Any Mathematician, Physicist, or Chemist would laugh at the idea that they just had “faith” that was a correct answer. No, instead they would provide a theorem and along with that data and evidence supporting. Go ahead ask one person you just describe if they use faith. Second, I am a bit lost are we “learning” or proving an idea. You basically mashed the two together when they are not the same what so ever.

      “People who cannot make this leap call the subject too hard or unnecessary and abandon even trying. I ran my head into that roadblock for 50 years before I had that Ahaa moment. I was not trying to justify why I should believe but why I didn’t have to. I was not blindly indoctrinated.” <- This is what we call in my field "Sour grapes" look it up and really apply it to what you just said.

      You may have "faith" in the gospels but it is based in a book that doesn't even know where Jesus was born, why this isn't a problem for you leads back to our "Sour grapes" now doesn't it?

      • Stan says:

        So Demosthenes, you learned physics and Calculus without a text book or a teacher. My, you must be smart. Ok, that was sarcastic, but it would seem you never struggled. No, that was sarcastic also.

        What I said was that at times you have to make a leap of faith, then when you look back the logic becomes clear. I really wish everything came to me as easily as it seems to come to you. My best teachers have described that look that comes into a students eye when they say “I get it” as the main reason they teach.

        As far as where Jesus was born, Bethlehem, says so in several places and predicted in the Old Testament. I could pull out a long form birth certificate and you probably wouldn’t believe because you chose not to believe.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Stan; I’m afraid demo is a “birther”.

        • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

          Hah, no certificate needed. Just if you have faith in the gospels who is correct Luke or Matthew? They both contradict each other. I would guess it was Matthew who screwed up his translations in his religious zeal to prove Jesus was the messiah. Let’s not even review the historical dates or why an absurd census like this would occur. All in all looking at the evidence one could conclude that the character Jesus in the bible was not one real historical person but many shadowy figures mashed into one, per Jon’s blog post.

          Leaps of faith and Learning are not the same what so ever. Only godbots leap from A to Z and say god/faith got you there…… when in reality Stan, like you said, you learned the alphabet and that is how you got to Z.

          • Henry says:

            D- “Only godbots leap from A to Z…”

            Quite obviously, the premier atheist thinking mind employing high-powered reasoning skills do not make leaps of logic. [sarcasm]

            D- “Let’s not even review the historical dates or why an absurd census like this would occur.”

            Yes. This argument has popped up before. Apparently, the armchair atheist historian in the year of our Lord 2012 has better knowledge than the historical accounts written close to the time of the event. That is….kind of a leap of logic for the atheist.

          • Stan says:

            Both say born in Bethlehem, is there somewhere else I am supposed to look? I am not planning on reading both tonight just to satisfy you.

            Census’s are for tax purposes….Rome loved it’s taxes.

          • Stan says:

            “Only godbots leap from A to Z…”

            Sometimes you get to M and hit a wall while learning. You look forward to N and suddenly M makes sense. allowing you to continue.

            Others get to M, don’t understand, never look to see what M does in relation to N-Z and declare everything after L as null and void because it stupid and I don’t need that anyway. Much as an adolescent refuses to learn math because they won’t ever need it and it’s too hard.

        • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

          Didn’t bother trying to understand the grapes comment one bit did you, I guess you leaped before you looked.

          • Stan says:

            If I understood where “sour grapes” fell into the conversation I would comment. But you seemed to make some sort of “leap” yourself. I don’t read minds. I also think you may have a reading comprehension problem.

            Let me rephrase it for you. I came to believe at a time when I was doing my best to find reasons not to believe. I was actively pushing against faith.

            Sour Grapes = The phrase sour grapes is an expression originating from “The Fox and the Grapes,” one of Aesop’s Fables. It refers to pretending not to care for something one does not or cannot have.

            (Today, the term is often used to refer to someone being a “sore loser”.

  9. Bob says:

    I enjoy putting the retarded books, the bible, torah, koran down everyday. Why? BECAUSE THEY’RE RETARDED.

  10. Long John says:

    Stan, “Christianity is really simple if you stick to the Gospels and letters”; I can’t believe you said that !!

    • Stan says:

      Yes, no special knowledge beyond belief in the Trinity, have faith that God’s grace will bring you to heaven, love one another as yourself. The rest is really window dressing. A child can do it, adults are always looking too deep it seems.

      • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

        Yeah cause indoctrinating children that 1 and 3 are the same well before basic mathematics are even taught is a good thing, Or telling your child if you don’t believe as you do they will go to hell, and really? you are throwing in the golden rule? to sweep it all under the rug.

        Please keep that sort of teaching the hell away from my children.

        • Stan says:

          Demosthenes, are you a fan of Enders World?

          I have had much better luck pushing love and a life together in Heaven with all ages then Hell and sin. Sin is to be forgiven by God’s Grace, then hell is not a factor. The Golden rule is the New Commandment given by Christ all though you will also find it in the Old Testament.

          This was one of the big differences between the God of the Jews and the pagan gods. Besides the fact the Jewish God was portable and all over but the pagan gods usually resided in a rock or tree and were bound to a certain territory or trait.

        • Stan says:

          Have you ever taught anybody anything Demosthenes? You teach things to them as they are ready to understand. Adding and subtraction comes before calculus. Reading comes before composition. We usually teach the golden rule, be kind to others first, long before the Trinity.

          Sin is talked about but I usually use it to define ethical behavior. Do not steal, do not hurt others. Maybe there would be less crime and bullying if children were actually taught this instead of the “Do what ever you can get away with” attitude I am seeing in people.

          These children of your? Real or hypothetical?

  11. Michael Ross says:

    Not related but. . .
    Atheist Dawkins wants Bibles in public schools:

    http://zionica.com/2012/05/22/richard-dawkins-supports-bibles-in-schools/

    • entech says:

      Dawkins is quite specific, he wants the King James bible in schools. A work of literature is that is derived from Tyndale and used by Shakespeare. A essential part of an English education. But best not read too critically.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      I think Dawkins would be quite content if read critically. I believe he would be concerned if it was read literally. Especially hyper literally, not considering all the various literary styles, and contexts. I have some of those concerns too.

  12. Long John says:

    Make kids read the whole Bible and it will turn them into athiests real quick. All most church goers hear are the positive parts.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Re. “All most church goers hear are the positive parts”; I don’t think that is true at all. In liturgical churches, where the lectionary is used extensively, the bad parts are included, and not brushed over. In fact, the entire lineage of the Jewish people, and including the family tree of Jesus is full of murder, rape, jealousy, swindle, incest, “spilling of his seed on the ground”, and on and on. Nothing new today, as it is all revealed to have happened back then too, with all the warts.
      If you go to one of these megas, new age, or Neo-Evangelicals, you may be at least partly true. There, the subject matter is chosen by the local pastor, at the pastor’s preference, and preached in a thematic manner. No warts.
      In reality, there needs to be a balance of both, transparency, which includes the warts,( and) the aloes. This is called “The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel.

    • Stan says:

      The Catholic church will read the whole bible over a three year period. I have head a lot about sin and Hell over the years. I have also heard of God’s Love just as much if not more because the message of the New testament is Love and forgiveness , the old Testament is the Law and sin.

  13. entech says:

    Fascinating Subject Jon. This one has turned into a contest where those that will believe anything accuse those that fail to accept their truths of not believing anything.

  14. Wanna B Sure says:

    There is a disconnect between what the Bible says in various parts, what Christianity takes from the totality, and what non-beleif does not accept. Much is made of the “contradictions”, re. Demo on the location of the birth. I don’t know why it is so important to him, as he dosent’ accept any part of it anyway. Probably just an arguing point. No, we don’t or can’t know all the fine details. They are not necessary. Is it important that we know the species of fish served at the feeding of the 5000? I hardly think so. Archeology has revealed some things, disproven some misunderstandings, and much with open ended questions not yet answered. Archeology does not provide all the answers, nor can it. When I was younger, there was a place called Pumpkin Center. An old time gas station that sold gas, candy, ice cream pop, and a few groceries. We would stop there for a pop and a candy bar sometimes. For a time, they also bought jack rabbits, and with the money we could buy pop. They would also buy empty pop bottles for two cents. That like many others like it closed down years ago. Nothing remains of it. I don’t see even the driveway through the ditch anymore when I drive by. Only us old folks remember, but in conversation, the name comes up in reference to location of an accident, tornado, or some such thing. Anyone younger, or recently moved in neighbors wouldn’t know what we are talking about. I would guess an archeologist would have a hard time locating it without help. Because there is absoloutely no trace of it ever having been there. By some people’s reconing, it couldn’t have existed. Just something written down in someone’s memory or letters. That was only 60 yr. ago. What would one expect of locations from 2000 yr. ago. It couldn’t have been because they couldn’t fine the city limits sign, and population. A community back then may have been just an assembly of shacks, with a communal outhouse, or not. Iron age or bronz age, not much difference then. Some of the same people who disregard the Biblical narrative put more credability in the story of Atlantis, and have spent millions to prove it. Adolf did the same thing with the Holy Graile, and the Sword of Destiny. Many people still search for the Garden of Eden, and Noah’s Ark, as if their faith depends on it, and for some, mabey it does. Although all these things are interesting, none of them are of any terrible importance. To put too much emphasis on these things leads to speculation, and justification of the unimportant, as in the case of the “flood” being discovered in Ur of the Chaldees. The “flood layer”later was shown to be just an extreme localized flood, and a few feet away, it didn’t exist. The archeologist was embarrased, as he well should have been. Good intentions don’t justify extreme eisegitics. If you look for something, you may find it, if you deny something, you may find the evidence you are looking for. Both sides may be wrong.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      The empty pop bottle sales reminded me of a “one or two swallow drink”. Before pop cans, glass bottles were all there was. There were pop bottles in the ditches and we would walk the roads, and pick them up and sell them. The thing that caused some of these lost bottles was people would have a bottle of pop, and take one or two swallows out of it, and fill the rest with whiskey, (anyone remember Four Roses)? put the thumb over the top, and gently rotate it until it was mixed. Most women went for a “one swallow”, and the men did the “two, sometimes more. Whoda thunk it. five empty bottles would buy a full new bottle of pop. We walked a lot of roads, but the highways were the most productive. I still have a few of those bottles that I didn’t sell.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wanna 2:28 Interesting post that explains some other short posts you have made in the past in which I could not understand your thinking. It happens I read your post after writing a draft of tonight’s blog which is related to information passed down.

      Isn’t is reasonable to argue, however, that if much of a source of information is riddled with errors and facts that conflict with one another we should be suspious of all of it? That is, if there was no town of Nazareth, no census requiring the Bethehem story and on and on, maybe we should wonder?

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Jon; No, I don’t think we need to be “suspicious” of it. Wonder, and question yes, but an unanswered question is not an answer. Who knows what will be discovered in the future? The state Israel has not been dug up to a depth of 50 feet, and been sifted. There are arguments even here in the States as to the location of where” Washington slept here”. Something may be revealed yet in the future Not to jump to a conclusion on something we CANNOT know. Nor do I think it is objective to consider things which we don’t or even can or will know to be considered an “error” or “fact”. Different times long past, and not understood as well as we would like does not put the burden of proof onto the texts. The burden is on patience. I just don’t think “it” is necessary for validation OR rejection. I don’t think archeology could tell you that some of those empty pop bottles were used as a delivery system for a mixed drink.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Jon; Ps. There also seems to be a sometimes confusion between “inspired” and dictated. Then too, there is the problem of language. local usage/variances of the same foundational language, different time-frame understanding, translation, transliteration, and yes errors in translation transferred into customary understanding, then perpetuated. And then there is the misuse of the various literary devices used in the various books of the Bible. Although I don’t know the ancient languages, I do trust most that are and have shown to be reliable, and have cross referenced some of them on their positions related to this and other topics at hand. I believe it is remarkable that there are not substantially more “questions”than there actually are.

      • Stan says:

        Jon, have you ever had to testify in court? When 2 or more witnesses are called for the same case the testimony will not be perfect between them even though they saw the same event. Education, experience or even the angle at which they saw the event will influence the testimony. Yet people still get convicted. I would be suspicious if they matched too close. It would mean that the witnesses collaborated on the testimony.

        One of the things I questioned is why, if the Gospels were so close, did they both to put them all in? Like you say, it would have been better to just use one, or synthesis them into one. For conspirators smart enough to fool the world for 2000 years this is a pretty elementary mistake.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Stan 5:30 “..have you ever tesified in court? When 2 or more witnesses are called for the same case..will not be perfect between them…”

          I have testified several times. Yes, people see different things. But, you have left out the first step, where the attorneys, who are officers of the court, agree on a series of facts so they know what they are to debate. If someone is dead, they establish they are dead. Then they argue about the accused.

          In argumenst about religion, anything goes. No one has to prove there is a spiritual element, they can just say they “feel it to be”, even if no one else feels the same thing. With religion, we should establish if the god is in one’s head or “soverneign”, then debate who or what it is.

          It is obvious why there are several gospels, at least to those of us who are skeptics. Each writer copied from the previous one, but felt the story needed to be “ginned up”. Thus, the first one written had no story of the virgin birth. The next ginned it up with the virgin birth to put the god figure on the same higher plain with pagan gods, who also had virgin births. Other stuff was put in to fit the prophasies that were found, etc.

          • Stan says:

            And then put them all together in the Canons so they looked like idiots…..makes so much sense when you put it that way. If I had done it I would either had ONE Gospel or made sure they all matched.

            You still can’t convince me that a text which you consider so weak is still being discussed almost 2000 years later. If it is that weak it would have been buried with the Gnostic Gospels.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Stan 5:10 “If I had done it I would either had ONE Gospel or made sure they all matched.”

            As would have I. We all have to wonder what they were thinking or why. I have a Pastor friend who writes a private column says he thinks those who compiled the Bible meant for it to reflect arguments that were going on or had gone on–and–it was not for today’s audience but for ones a thousand-odd years ago.

            I agree it is remarkable it is still read. In the hundreds of thousands of years of the history of humans, this might not be so unusual. If the past is any indication of what is ahead, this faith will pass and be replaced by something else. Europe is no longer majority Christian.

          • Stan says:

            “I agree it is remarkable it is still read. In the hundreds of thousands of years of the history of humans, this might not be so unusual.”

            Unusual statement, you realize we haven’t been reading for that long. “Some people base their answer on which language got written down first. If you’re counting absolute oldest, probably Sumerian or Egyptian wins because they developed a writing system first (both start appearing in about 3200 BC).”

            Oh, and thanks for pointing to Eusebius. had it on my Kindle for months, just started reading it. Liking it so far :)

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; ” No longer majority Christian”. Yes, I believe that is true. As has been declared by some, it will be Muslim, and the trend points that way, with imigration, and high birth rates. Sharia law is the goal, as is forced compliance. by past history, and No one will have a choice. Christians, Atheists, gays, females, etc. It may take 200 more years, but it just may happen. It is good Jon that you have the foresight to see it.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 3:04 Europe might become a majority Muslim some day, that would be a bad thing. Then, it might go back to being Wiccan, not good either.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Trends Jon, trends. If one considers Sharia Law as implimented in some places, even “majority” is questionable. I have seen interviews of advocates of Sharia living in England convinced of it’s inevitability. Their manner of spelling “Jihad” is; A-K-4-7. Choice would not be an option. Goodbye Christian, atheist, gays, female freedom. There are areas in London now that are no-go for police, and if memory serves, same for France. I have read that France is 28% Muslim now, and the Muslims are practically salivating in the inevitable outcome. Yes, some may be “moderate”—yet, but when a feeding frenzy starts, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Think Afganistan///Taliban. That’s what some of them think today,( and publicaly). Think honor killing. In one interview I saw, the subject mocked and laughed at the Europeans. Saying that zero population growth compared to their high birth rate, plus imigration will bury Europe.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            The Wiccans are also on their list, and they would have them for lunch.

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