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Posted byIgnostic7 years ago

Supernatural claims about the distant past can be neither verified nor debunked.

This is why Jesus had to rise from the dead 1,900 years ago. No credible person in the present could get away with passing off a modern day resurrection story as the truth.

The only sort of people claiming that supernatural events still occur are the members of the Heaven's Gate cult and their ilk. 1,900 years ago, Christians were that ilk. This is why it took hundreds of years for Christianity to catch on....assuming there really were people around in 33 AD who believed a crucified criminal was God and had just risen from the dead.

BTW, for modern Christians, the rationale for belief is...

"It is said to have happened a long, long time ago. Millions of people over the centuries have claimed to believe it happened. I live in a society wherein many people continue to claim that they believe it happened. Therefore, it must have happened."

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level 1
2 points · 7 years ago

The thing is you don't need to debunk them at all. No evidence for a supernatural claim means no reason to believe it.

level 1
Comment deleted by user7 years ago(1 child)
level 2
IgnosticOriginal Poster1 point · 7 years ago

Parts of the Gospels paint the disciples in a bad light (Peter betraying Jesus), yet they are included anyway.

The same thing happens in Homer's Odyssey. The crew of Odysseus is also painted in a bad light.

The first witnesses to see Jesus resurrected were women, even though a woman's testimony was worth less than a man's at the time;

The followers of Dionysus were largely women. Having women in the story was a way to appeal to a Hellenistic audience.

Christ's disciples were willing to die for their claims that he was a Messiah and could perform miracles. No one is willing to die for a lie.

In the New Testament we find that only one disciple died a violent death, James the brother of John. This is recorded in Acts 12.

According to Acts 12, Jesus stands by and allows James, brother of the beloved disciple, to be martyred while in the very next passage He saves Peter from the same fate by having Peter's chains fall off and the prison doors swing open. The motif of chains falling off and prison doors swinging open, BTW, is plagiarized from an ancient Greek play, The Bacchae.

In the next passage of Acts 12 Jesus kills the king who had James put to death. Wouldn't it have been more kind to save James? Apparently, Jesus wanted the brother of his favorite disciple to be murdered in order to spread the faith. The Lord certainly works in mysterious ways.

Other than that one passage in Acts, the only evidence we have for martyrdom of Apostles is relatively late Church Tradition claiming that Jesus' original band of merry men died martyr's deaths. The Bible does have Jesus sort of prophesying that Peter would be martyred. But then the Bible also has Jesus prophesying that, within the lifetime of the generation alive to hear him speak, Jesus would return to earth to destroy all of his enemies and take over the world.

Assuming any of the disciples did die violent deaths, we do not know why they were killed.

We know that the Pharisees were jealous of the Apostles for their popularity and/or performance of miracles. We know that the Jews opposed the Christians for their attempts to persuade people to abandon the Mosaic law. And we know that the Roman civil authorities opposed Christians for their refusal to participate in offerings to the gods of Rome. Early Christians could have been killed for reasons other than belief in a resurrection. And just what did these earliest Christians believe about the resurrection?

According to the earliest secular sources, the first believers to be martyred, worshiped a god named, "Chrestus".

"...Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Chrestians by the populace. Chrestus, 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,..."

(Tacitus, Annals, 116 AD, book 15, chapter 44)

We know from the Church's writings against Marcion that the followers of Chrestus believed that Jesus only "appeared" to be crucified. The earliest Christian Chrestian martyrs died for this belief. Nobody dies for a lie.

Many were whipped, crucified, went hungry, put into prison, etc.

Assuming this is true, what did they die for? Paul never laid eyes on the risen Christ and he allegedly died for his beliefs. If you read 1 Cor 15:5-8 you will see that Paul makes no differentiation between the nature of Christ's appearance before him and the nature of Christ's appearance before the disciples. 1 Cor 15:5-8 is the earliest reference to the risen Christ. It could be that all of the first Christians, not just Paul, but all of them only saw visions of a risen Christ and not a real man walking the streets of Judea.

Some books in the Bible were written well within 100 years (Some even as early as 30-40 after Christ's death).

Now think about this for a minute. Would you trust the first written account of the Kennedy assassination if it was written 30-40 years after the event?

Witnesses who saw him alive after his crucifixion could certainly try to hunt down the remaining alive witnesses and corroborate the story for themselves.

Eyewitnesses could write their own accounts. But none of them did.

level 1
2 points · 7 years ago · edited 7 years ago

Yes, supernatural claims about the distant past can be verified. We could find some prophecies that we could time before it was fulfilled for example.

This is why it took hundreds of years for Christianity to catch on....

edit: Hundreds of years? What crap are you talking about? Is it as late there as it's here?

level 2
IgnosticOriginal Poster6 points · 7 years ago · edited 7 years ago

We could find some prophecies that we could time before it was fulfilled for example.

For example, Jesus' claims of a second coming during the lifetime of his disciples.

Hundreds of years? What crap are you talking about?

When in the early fourth century Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, the Christians amounted to no more than five to ten percent of the population of the Roman Empire. Even after the conversion of Constantine the growth of the religion was by no means rapid. In Antioch, certainly one of the most important and oldest centers of Christianity, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius (emperor from 379-395), Christians made up no more than twenty percent of the population which numbered about half a million. These considerations show that Christianity did not spread like wildfire with its self-evident truths compelling people to immediately embrace the religion.

level 3

For example, Jesus' claims of a second coming during the lifetime of his disciples.

I think you're referring to Matthew 24:34.

The translator's notes (right column) in the NET bible say this:

This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret. Various views exist for what generation means. (1) Some take it as meaning “race” and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away. But it is very questionable that the Greek term γενεά (genea) can have this meaning. Two other options are possible. (2) Generation might mean “this type of generation” and refer to the generation of wicked humanity. Then the point is that humanity will not perish, because God will redeem it. Or (3) generation may refer to “the generation that sees the signs of the end” (v. 30), who will also see the end itself. In other words, once the movement to the return of Christ starts, all the events connected with it happen very quickly, in rapid succession.

The Greek word translated as generation is Strong's 1074, which it defines as "age, generation, nation, time". But I don't speak Greek.

level 4
IgnosticOriginal Poster1 point · 7 years ago
level 5

Sounds to me like just another possible explanation. Although it seems difficult to place the writing of revelation before 70AD.

I'm not saying what I posted above is the correct one, but only to show that there are interpretations that avoid contradiction.

level 3
1 point · 7 years ago

For example, Jesus' claims of a second coming during the lifetime of his disciples.

I think we have discussed this already, but I didn't mean anything like this. Just was implying that your title is kinda flawed and there are indeed ways...

under Constantine, the Christians amounted to no more than five to ten percent of the population of the Roman Empire

Umm, yeah that. Though I'm pretty sure it didn't become "the official religion" but that he allowed any deity be worshippen and protected christians and all others from persecution. Could have something to do with it? But the "growth of the religion" was pretty rapid indeed, it spread wide, it didn't get whole populations, but that's pretty much what Jesus implied would happen anyway. I'd say 5-20% of any population is pretty nice.

level 4
IgnosticOriginal Poster6 points · 7 years ago

Though I'm pretty sure it didn't become "the official religion"

"Constantine also shifted to a somewhat hostile stance towards Pagans, as opposed to a simple supporter of Christianity. Pagan sacrifice was forbidden, and treasures of many temples were confiscated and given to Christian churches (excepting those temples dedicated to the Imperial cult). "

Christianity: The Official Religion of the Roman Empire

but that he allowed any deity be worshipped and protected christians and all others from persecution.

Not quite.

Then later....

"Even temples re-established by Julian were simply overrun by fanatic Christian mobs. Despite Julian's efforts, hindered by his short reign of 2 years, Paganism continued on the path to virtual extinction.

The final death knell of the Pagan faith came only a generation later, under the rule of Theodosius. An ardent Christian, and recognizing the amazing growth of the still relatively young faith, Theodosius and his western counterpart Gratian, recognized Christianity as the official religion of the Empire in 380 AD. Gratian too, likely at the partial behest of Theodosius refused the title of Pontifex Maximus (head priest) and it was bestowed instead on the Catholic Pope in Rome. Severe punishments for Pagan, and especially 'heretic' Arianism were enforced and the established Churched prospered."

Christianity: The Official Religion of the Roman Empire

And then came several hundred years of Christian Shariah law.

level 5
1 point · 7 years ago

K, fine, it's not like my sources concerning Constantine are that good.

level 4

Nope. At first, he merely prohibited the building of non-Christian sites of worship, but allowed the old ones to remain. But by the end of his reign, he was ordering the pillaging of traditional Roman temples and the slaughter of their priests and rape (followed by slaughter) of the priestesses.

R. MacMullen, "Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D.100-400", Yale University Press, 1984

"A History of the Church", Philip Hughes, Sheed & Ward, rev ed 1949, vol I chapter 6

In fact, it was his influence that lead to the rape and torturous death of one of the greatest mathematicians of her time, the brave Hypatia.

level 2
1 point · 7 years ago

we could find some prophecies that we could time before it was fulfilled for example.

Fair enough.

Seeing as it never happened despite the millions of them, supernatural is therefore debunked.

level 1
-1 points · 7 years ago

But eye witnesses willingly gave up their lives for their belief! Eye witnesses don't give up their lives for a LIE. ;)

level 2

In addition to Basilides' comment, I just want to say: uh yeah, they do. People give up their lives for stupid, stupid things all the time. How many soldiers did Germany field in WWII, and how many of them died? Wouldn't most people now think that their lives were given to a horrible cause, and that if they were basically good at heart, that they must have been deceived and manipulated into supporting that cause?

Argument by martyr doesn't work because any cause can get martyrs really easily. Humans are more than willing to toss their lives away.

level 3
1 point · 7 years ago

He (my brother who claimed this) would maintain the Nazis were doing this to attain power, because society expected them to, via coercion etc., and thus it's discredited and not the same. Whereas the original Christian martyrs were sticking out their necks at a time when it was illegal/frowned upon (though I don't know the time frames for exactly how Chrisitanity was treated, and frankly the prosecution could easily be overblown to romanticize the whole spread. It makes more sense to me that it was just a backwater cult at most points until Constantine made it an official religion).

level 4

Well, I'm not talking about Nazis; I was talking about Germans under the Nazi regime. There's a big difference there: the average soldier didn't think he was going to get a lot of power and influence by risking death on the battlefield. The average German soldier wasn't that different from the average soldier of any other country. And actually, a lot of the same techniques for influencing Germans into being ready to go to war are at play here in the US, too.

The persecution of early Christians varied depending on where they were, but most of the worst stories did happen, and it certainly was dangerous to be Christian at first; likewise, after Constantine, it quickly became very dangerous to not be Christian.

level 3

I think there's a difference between a soldier an one of the apostles. For example, the apostles were crucified upside down-- not exactly the same as being killed with a bullet. And many of the Christian martyrs had the option of recanting, at which point they would be set free. I mean, being fed to the lions, used as a human torch, etc.-- we're not talking about things you'd see in war, we're talking about pure pain and suffering.

level 4

Then don't think about soldiers dying on the battlefield. Think about all the fighters who have been tortured for weeks or months on end. Trust me; there is no comparison between a harsh execution and denying someone even the release of death.

I actually know a fellow who used to work at Guantanamo Bay. He taught me a few really nasty tricks. If you doubt that a human can, in fact, suffer worse physical harm than early Christians, I would be happy to use a pair of rusty pliers to enlighten you.

level 5

Okay. The people at Guantanamo are fighting for a cause, and if they give up secrets the mission will fail. If they give up secrets, then their friends will die.

What did the early Christians have? If they say they don't believe in a person they've never seen they can be spared being a human torch. No friend of theirs dies. They certainly weren't benefiting financially from their faith. What incentive is there to keep a belief in something-- what's the motive for not recanting?

level 6

What incentive is there to keep a belief in something-- what's the motive for not recanting?

What are the motives for any martyr? If the mere fact that they were willing to die painful and torturous deaths makes their religion valid, then what religion in the world isn't valid?

level 7

I think that when it comes to multiple generations removed from the source, sure, a martyr could be convinced to die painful deaths because they truly believe in the view they support. When it comes to first generation-- particularly those that would have stolen the body, etc.-- there's nothing to gain by the martyrdom.

It would be a whole lot easier to recant if you had the body stashed somewhere and knew it than if you were multiple generations hence and just had the faith, though I believe that none of the first generations did recant, though it's possible that future generations did.

I admit, it's not the strongest of arguments!

level 8

Then why do first generation martyrs die for other religions?

level 9

Can you provide examples?

level 2
kabas1 point · 7 years ago

are you serious?

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