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Christianity, The Fractured Faith


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MH good post. You know the topic. I understand that Jesus took his views from Hillel, and was influenced by Confucious [the golden rule] and by Buddha [pacific struggle]. Jesus' teachings were not new in the sense that many teachers in the area had the same notions, including John who was Jesus' cousin i believe and had a marked influence on Jesus' teachings. Most scholars believe that Jesus existed, i just find it interesting that no hard evidence exists that he was real. I would assume that writings, books, pottery, clothes, jewellry, written accounts - something anything would exist that confirms his reality.

Christian aetheism is possible if you believe that the universal 'God' is a set of universal rules found in nature not in preachings. You can believe in the Sermon on the Mount or its implications i suppose, but not believe in the righteousness of the Church to manage your morality.

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i just find it interesting that no hard evidence exists that he was real. I would assume that writings, books, pottery, clothes, jewellry, written accounts - something anything would exist that confirms his reality.

Well, firstly we do have the accounts of Josephus, Suetonius and the miscellaneous Hebrew critics of Jesus. Secondly, I don't believe that hard evidence would really prove anything. Just look at the Turin Shroud and the surrounding controversy, it's existence has succeeded in proving absolutely nothing, either way.

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Well the Turin shroud is a hoax. It dates from the Middle Ages. Other historical religious figures including Buddha and Confucious are littered by evidence of their lives here on earth. Christ has no such evidence. This strikes me as peculiar since he only lived 2000 years ago and various other contemporary figures have plenty of supporting evidence of their lives. Christ has none - only some words written in Mark 35 years after his death and some other thoughts from observers after his death on his life. But nothing tangible, concrete exists.

Liberal and mainline theologians generally believe that Mark was the first gospel written, and that it was composed about 70 CE. Matthew and Luke were authored up to 15 years later. John was written after Luke. None of the authors identities are known. If these dates are correct, then it is unlikely that any of the authors were eyewitnesses to Jesus' ministry. In spite of their claims, they were relying on secondary or tertiary sources, and accumulated church tradition.


>There were about 40 Roman historians who wrote during the first two centuries. With the exception of Tacitus and Seutonius [the latter reference a Chrestus who was a Roman trouble maker and both wrote 2-3 generations after Christ died] none stated that Jesus existed in the 1st century.

> Jewish literature: The Talmud states that Jesus lived in the 2nd century BCE. However, this passage itself dates from the early 2nd century CE. The authors were probably basing their writings on a reaction to some of the dozens of Christian gospels circulating by that time.

> Pope Leo X (1513-1521): He is quoted by Barbara Walker in her Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Page 471, as having said "What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!" Rev. Taylor, in The Diegesis, Page 35, has a slightly different quote from the same Pope: "It was well known how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us."

There is a good chance that Christ is like Moses - a composite figure, largely apocryphal.

I doubt very much that there was an actual Jesus. Hence the disorganised nature of Christianity.

Michael Martin. He is a professor of philosophy from Boston University who examined the major beliefs of Christianity. He concluded that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Jesus existed.  Earl Doherty, writing in the Humanist in Canada magazine 1 believes that early Christian leaders saw Jesus as the Son of God who was a spiritual, not human being. He writes: "If Jesus was a 'social reformer' whose teachings began the Christian movement, as today's liberal scholars now style him, how can such a Jesus be utterly lacking in all the New Testament epistles, while only a cosmic Christ is to be found?" If Doherty's assessment is true, then Christianity would have many points of similarity to other contemporary religions in the Roman Empire - particularly Mithraism who also viewed their founder Mithra as spiritual rather than as an actual historical human being.
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I Google'd for "Pope Leo X fable" and found many interesting hits, some of which trace the origin of that "quote" to a fictional work by John Bale, an apostate Carmelite turned Protestant. Pope Leo X was no exemplary pope, but I would not let one or a few bad popes bring down the Church. I mean, there have been some lousy American presidents, but I would not let their badness detract from what is good about America.

I would not be as quick in dismissing the Shroud of Turin as fake--I saw a documentary about it on Discovery Channel a few years ago that subjected the Shroud to some current scientific technologies (Xray, DNA analysis, etc.) and left the question still open in the end. And there are other relics supposedly from the cross and the nail. But my faith would not hinge on the authenticity of any of these.

John the evangelist is supposedly the same John, one of the twelve apostles, the one who was exiled rather than martyred like the others. So one of the Gospels may indeed have been written by Jesus' contemporary.

I think that God intentionally left the scientific proof ambiguous at best, because when it comes to matters of faith, seeing is not believing, rather, believing IS seeing. Your free will to believe or not becomes meaningless if you are overwhelmed with worldly proof. Cop-out, you say, but that is how God works. Who are we to tell Him how to run things? He gives us free will; He abides by it. Faith can never be a matter of coercion, no matter how we humans fail in this regard.

Christian atheism is an oxymoron. "Christian" hails from Jesus Christ, Christ meaning the Anointed One or Messiah. And if you follow Jesus, then you follow His belief in God the Father. And you commit to obey the two commands He said to be the most needful: love God above all, and love your neighbor as Jesus has loved you. Not much room for atheism there.

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Christian aetheism is possible if you believe that the universal 'God' is a set of universal rules found in nature not in preachings. You can believe in the Sermon on the Mount or its implications i suppose, but not believe in the righteousness of the Church to manage your morality.

Why do people not rape, rob and take their anger out on each other when presented with an opportunity? Because of God or simply consience? Why, when explorers found primitive societies around the globe did they all expouse the same type of laws, that being "The Golden Rule?" Why is there such a thing as "Honor among theives?" Why will the worst of society pass the salt and butter when asked at a prison cafeteria?

It's human nature, an instinctive action to be good and help even when it goes against the sense of self. Was it instilled by a higher being? Is the bible simply a manual or warning to those who don't get it that the man is gonna get you if you're bad?


I think that God intentionally left the scientific proof ambiguous at best, because when it comes to matters of faith, seeing is not believing, rather, believing IS seeing. Your free will to believe or not becomes meaningless if you are overwhelmed with worldly proof.

So true. If given proof that God exists as does heaven and hell and that He decides who will go then, I would imagine all sorts of terrible people like Stalin would convert (on the surface) to get free admission.

I do not think the New Testament is the word of God but rather the historical record of what had happened during an extraordinary period. I think that many events have been distorted and embellished to suit the agenda of the writers. However I would like to add something;

I went to Saladeen's Fortress once with my Syrian driver. We were lost in the hills and didn't have a shmick of where to go. Stopping in front of a small cottage where an old guy was jerking around with some sheep in front behind a small stone wall. We stopped the pickup and got out and walked over to him. They did all sorts of shaking hands and putting hands to head and chest and five minutes later we leave and I ask "So, did you find out where it is?"

"He doesn't know." Astonished that this old guy didn't know as Iit would be like asking a person from Naples where Mt Vesuvius was I asked him why. "He has never been out of the village in his life, but he thinks it is this way." and on we went. It was totally wrong direction giving but we stumbled on the dam place an hour later.

Point being is that people in Jesus' time did not travel. They, like the old Syrian guy did not want to know of the world beyond the rugged hills they lived in. They did not talk to strangers. They didn't run away with strangers, particularly poor strangers. People were openly hostile to strangers an more than likely stoned strangers. What power did this Jesus have that he could travel in safety and could make employed people leave with him?

The other thing about the Bible is that it is so different from other stories. Most are fire and brimstone, thunderbolts, vengeance, God's interferring, beating, instructing and more or less being oppressive. The Bible is so calm and peaceful that on first look it is unfathomable that anybody could be drawn to it. Hardly a premise for an ancient best seller like the Illiad or Oddesy yet it was and is. If fiction, it was a heck of a lot of work put into something that was so experimental and would likely not be well recieved. That is as reason why I think that it has much in historical fact.

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[Note on a post above; shroud of turin has been proven many times to be a hoax [unless you read Time Magazine], and the name Christ means 'teacher' and in Greek Chrestus is a common name, so the name itself means nothing. It is like calling someone 'father'. And on travel during 'Jesus' time, in Mark and other books on Jesus' travels all sorts of mistakes are made on distance, name of cities, and time to travel etc. It is clear that many 'trips' are just made up stories and that the author had little clue about the geography of the area.]

I don't believe the Bible nor the preachings of the prophets [not Christ since i don't believe he existed] were peaceful.

It is obvious in an uneducated illiterate population that Hell and damnation are useful devices to make people conform. The bible was written over a period of 1000 years and was used as a roadmap to civilise the baser instincts of man and allow some common set of values and rules to regulate social interaction. That in and of itself is a good idea.

To achieve this Yahweh is not portrayed as a loving god, but a vengeful, even fickle god.

The added layers of the bible, added on to the moral ethical code, refer to supernaturality, which is used to illustrate the validity of the claim of god [or of Jesus] and to ensure compliance.

Miracles, extra-terrestrial phenomena and magic are allegories not meant to be literal events. This would hold true for Christ - he never existed but his story presents compelling God inspired arguments to adhere to Church doctrine and follow his example - or suffer in hell if you don't.

The bible is a useful tool, you can believe in pieces of it, but to state that it is peaceful is wrong, and to state that to be an atheist and a Christian is incompatible is wrong as well.

Both Aristotle and Plato could well qualify as believers in God but aetheistic in the interpretation of what is that God. Building out on their philosophies you could make the case, made by Medieval scholars such as Abelard, Petrarch and Da Vinci, that secular ethics based on biblical morality is valid. 'Christian' is a word - the actual moral ethical case made in the Sermon on the Mount was made by many other teachers and religions. The name attached to it is rather unimportant - what is important is the impact that these teachings had on Western civilisation. In a secular age marrying these ideals to modernity and aetheism is entirely logical and justified. To be more accurate these philosophies must be known as 'Judaeo-Christian'.

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What do you think about the radical turnaroud in philosophy when dealing with others that is propagated in the NT Bible?

It isn't written by eqauals of the Romans but victims who had every right to preach violence and continue with the OT.

Jesus, fact or fiction, changed a way of life that was violent. That to me says something was up, something much more than a bunch of smart people runnng around spouting off foolishness. Picture today, a Leftie turning our minds around without facts or reason (like they have any LOL) and then believing in something that is completely foreign. Something did that.

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True, like i said Jesus - a fake though he is - represents a higher ideal. But his teachings were not new, they had been discussed for centuries. Hillel predates Christ by a century, Buddha by 5 centuries and Confucious by 5 as well. The innovation with Christ was that Peter and Paul were able to marry the doctrine, with the person, with the supernaturalty, with the wrath and damnation of a fickle god. Scaring the hell out of peasants is a useful tool to keep them in line.

Keep in mind as well that for 800 years the figure on the cross being crucified was a lamb - not a man. It was not until the Renaissance that the figure of the man on the cross was burned into the European mind. This followed a papal decree in about 800 AD that the lamb be substituted by a man. Jesus was an ideal, not a real person.

Walter R. Cassels, the learned author of "Supernatural Religion," one of the greatest works ever written on the origins of Christianity, says:

After having exhausted the literature and the testimony bearing on the point, we have not found a single distinct trace of any of those Gospels during the first century and a half after the death of Christ."

How can Gospels which were not written until say 50-150 years after Christ is supposed to have died, and which do not rest on any trustworthy testimony, have the slightest value as evidence that he really lived? History must be founded upon genuine documents or on living proof. Were a man of to-day to attempt to write the life of a supposed character of a hundred and fifty years ago, without any historical documents upon which to base his narrative, his work would not be a history, it would be a romance. Not a single statement in it could be relied upon.

Another problem -- Christ is supposed to have been a Jew, and his disciples are said to have been Jewish fishermen. His language, and the language of his followers must, therefore, have been Aramaic -- the popular language of Palestine in that age. But the Gospels are written in Greek -- every one of them. Nor were they translated from some other language. Every leading Christian scholar since Erasmus, four hundred years ago, has maintained that they were originally written in Greek. Foreign Gospels, written by unknown men, in a foreign tongue, several generations after the death of those who are supposed to have known the facts -- such is the evidence relied upon to prove that Jesus lived.

Another problem - Gospels that were written in the second century no longer exist. They have been lost or destroyed. The oldest Gospels that we have are supposed to be copies of copies of copies that were made from those Gospels. We do not know who made these copies; we do not know when they were made; nor do we know whether they were honestly made. Between the earliest Gospels and the oldest existing manuscripts of the New Testament, there is a blank gulf of three hundred years. It is, therefore, impossible to say what the original Gospels contained.

Can you imagine someone writing FDR's biography on hand me down foreign translated 150 year old transcripts and calling it history ? Me thinketh not.

Leo X - who said Christ was a fraud - was funny enough the son of Lorenzo il Magnifico - the personification of the Renaissance. Leo let Rome dissolve into licentiousness, built huge palaces for his cardinals, engaged in a massive arts building program, hired Michaelangelo and others, and taxed the hell out of Europe to pay for it.

If you want the source of Luther and of German Protestantism - look no further than the centuries old greed of the Church, the sales of indulgences, the overtaxation and the raucous lifestyle of Church leaders, replete with servants, concubines and easy money. Add to this the competing claims of 3 popes during the 15/16th centuries, rationalism, secularism, the printing press, literacy, and the nationalist movements inspired by Henry the 8 and Luther and voila, you have the end of the Church and its power.

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Please see my posting under "Was Jesus a Fraud." It's not a matter of Proof. It's a matter of Faith. I would like to comment though, that your idea of a Christian Atheist, has some merit. I like how it puts Christ as an example. Many Christians see Christ only as their means to salvation, which I believe he is. I also believe that he is the ultimate example of how we should try to live, and that is a point that many Christians seem to overlook sometimes.

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I am not sure which bible you refer to, but it does not sound like the one I read. I do agree that the Bible is not peaceful, rather peaceable. It leads you to live not according to what you like, but to aspire to a higher ideal, to settle for nothing less than perfection in yourself--a constant internal battle with your fleshly desires.

At the same time, it tells of a God who is a loving Father, full of mercy and patience, faithful even when we are not, seeking the one who is lost, ready to forgive when we ask for forgiveness, exalting the humble and lowly, pleased with sincerity of heart, near to the brokenhearted, protective of widows and orphans and sojourners, exhorting us to be perfect as He is perfect.

Read the Bible directly, so you can discern when someone else has misinterpreted it or quoted it out of context. The Bible must be read and interpreted in its entirety, not just the pieces that seem to suit one's particular notions. It helps if one has the aid of someone who is well-versed in the context of the times it was written, so that cultural differences can be bridged. That is what the Magisterium of the Church is about--the teaching authority, ever solicitous over the integrity, translation, and interpretation of the Bible.

Unfortunately, the Protestant movement chose to cut itself off from this unifying source, giving rise to personal interpretations and even translations that were not true to the original. Hence, the sense of disorganization that you perceive. I think this "Babel" of biblical interpretation signifies God's assertion that no man can ascend to heaven of his own accord, save through His grace.

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