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You cannot prove Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem

 

Two billion Christians believe the Gospel evidence actually proves Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. However, as I will now demonstrate, this Gospel evidence does not prove Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem.

The following simple argument compares two almost identical scenarios, one the orthodox scenario advocated by most biblical scholars, and the other an alternative scenario advocated by yours truly.

The differences between these two scenarios do not effect the final outcome in any way, but the implications of the differences are enormous.

Orthodox Scenario             

C 30 AD        Jesus resurrected in Jerusalem

C 36 AD         Peter tells Paul about the resurrection [their first meeting]

C 40-65 AD   Paul propagates Peter’s claims [1 Corinthians 15: 3-9]

C 70-90 AD   Gospel authors immortalise Peter’s claims in their gospels

Alternative Scenario          

 C 30 AD        Jesus not resurrected in Jerusalem

C 36 AD          Peter lies to Paul about an alleged resurrection in Jerusalem

C 40-65 AD    Paul propagates Peter’s lies

C 70-90 AD    Gospel authors immortalise Peter’s lies in their gospels

So either Jesus was resurrected & Peter didn’t lie to Paul [orthodox scenario] or Jesus wasn’t resurrected & Peter did lie to Paul [alternative scenario]. Both scenarios produce exactly the same final outcome, namely Gospels portraying a resurrection in Jerusalem. In the orthodox scenario the resurrection accounts are based on Peter’s original claims and in the alternative scenario they are based on Peter’s lies.  Because the final outcomes are identical in both cases, we cannot now differentiate between these two possible scenarios.

Conclusions                          

To validate the orthodox scenario &/or to reject the alternative scenario you must either prove Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem or prove Peter didn’t lie to Paul.

Since both scenarios result in exactly the same Gospels, depicting exactly the same resurrection in Jerusalem, the existence of these Gospels does not prove Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem nor does the existence of these Gospels prove Peter didn’t lie to Paul.

There is no other reliable evidence available. Therefore the orthodox scenario cannot be validated and the alternative scenario cannot be rejected.

Therefore you cannot prove Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. QED

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Was Jesus Resurrected in Jerusalem?

Mythicists like Richard Carrier argue that Jesus probably never even existed. I don’t subscribe to this minority view for two reasons. One, there are now much easier ways to explain what did or didn’t happen in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and two, Occam’s razor suggests the best explanation is invariably the simplest explanation.

Most biblical scholars, including many who are not Christian apologists, now accept that the following facts are almost certainly true:

C 30 AD                  Jesus crucified in Jerusalem

C 33 AD                  Paul converted on the road to Damascus

C 36 AD                  Paul learns of the resurrection in Jerusalem

C 50 AD                  Paul meets Peter in Jerusalem for the second time

C 54 AD                  Paul writes 1-Corinthians

C 70-90 AD            Gospel authors write gospels

The current Christian argument supporting Christian claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem is presented very succinctly by Gary Habermas in a U-Tube video called The Resurrection Evidence that Changed Current Scholarship. In this fairly long video, which is just one of many similar videos, Gary Habermas argues that the resurrection accounts found in the gospels, all of which appeared within 40-60 years of the actual resurrection, can truly be trusted, because they are all based on very reliable eye witness evidence that was relayed to the gospel authors by a very reliable intermediary.

It is claimed that the resurrection accounts in the gospels are reliable because they are all based on information provided by Paul in 1-Corinthians 15: 3-9. It is further claimed that this information in 1-Corinthians is itself reliable, because it is based on what Paul was told c 36 AD, when he first met Peter in Jerusalem. In other words, the resurrection accounts in the gospels are all based on eye witness accounts provided by Peter at that first meeting. You could even say the gospel authors just immortalised Peter’s claims in their gospels.

On the surface, this Christian argument appears very powerful, but it does have a very small, but very significant flaw. This flaw is the subject of this short blog.

We know this first meeting in Jerusalem took place c 36 AD, because in Galatians 1: 18, Paul tells us that this meeting occurred about three years after his conversion experience on the road to Damascus. We can also infer with some confidence, that this meeting was when Paul first learned of the resurrection in Jerusalem. However, because there’s no independent evidence to verify the veracity of what Paul was told, we cannot know for certain, that Paul was told the truth about the Jerusalem resurrection. In the above Christian argument, it is just tacitly assumed that Paul was told the truth about the Jerusalem resurrection. Now although this seems to be a perfectly rational thing to do, albeit unconsciously, I can think of at least one very plausible scenario that could have resulted in Paul being told a cock & bull story about a resurrection that never happened, but you’ll have see The Christianity Myth for more details.

This ignored uncertainty about the veracity of what Paul was told at that first meeting c 36 AD raises an interesting dilemma for Christians. If Paul was lied to about the resurrection in Jerusalem, Paul would not know he had been lied to. He would simply propagate the lies unknowingly, and the gospel authors would then immortalise these lies unknowingly. The final outcome would still be exactly the same, but there would now be two possibilities to consider. If Paul was told the truth at this first meeting, the gospels would portray a resurrection that did actually happen, but if Paul was not told the truth, then the gospels would actually portray a resurrection that never happened. How do we differentiate between these two possibilities? Quite simply, we don’t, because we can’t. Those who actually knew the truth about this Jerusalem resurrection are long dead, and there is now no way we can verify the veracity of the resurrection claims made at that first meeting in Jerusalem. You either make a tacit assumption to believe Paul was told the truth, or you simply accept there’s no absolute proof this resurrection ever happened.

So was Jesus resurrected in Jerusalem as Christians claim? Paul obviously thought so, and so did the gospel authors, but was their belief based on fact, or was it based on bogus allegations? We’ll never know because even today, the resurrection allegations made at that first meeting in Jerusalem remain both unverified and unverifiable. Therefore, we can never say with any certainty that Jesus was in fact resurrected in Jerusalem. However, looking on the bright side, we can now use this uncertainty to topple the last remaining bastion of Christian support for this Jerusalem resurrection. We can now deny this resurrection ever happened and still explain the existence of the gospels, a feat thought impossible until now.

So, the Christian belief that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem is indeed a simple matter of faith. A faith based entirely on a simple tacit assumption that Paul was told the truth at that first meeting in Jerusalem. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now. This simple tacit assumption is Christianity’s unspoken and unacknowledged Achilles heel and all fellow atheists should strive to point this out to Christians whenever the opportunity arises.

Personally, I’d like my world view to be based on something a little more substantial than unverified allegations made 2000 years ago in Jerusalem.

 

So Who Goes To Hell?

Will it be heaven or will it be hell? A quick tongue-in-cheek assessment.

According to Christians, all Christians go to Christian heaven & everybody else, including Muslims, goes to Christian hell.

According to Muslims, all Muslims go to Islamic heaven & everybody else, including Christians, goes to Islamic hell.

So, if Christians say Christians go to Christian heaven, & Muslims say Christians go to Islamic hell, does this not imply that Christian heaven & Islamic hell are one and the same place?

Likewise, if Muslims say Muslims go to Islamic heaven, & Christians say Muslims go to Christian hell, does this not imply that Islamic heaven & Christian hell are also one and the same place?

So if Christian heaven & Islamic hell are one and the same place, and Islamic heaven & Christian hell are one and the same place, what happens when you die?

Well, according to Christians,  you would end up either in Christian heaven or Islamic heaven, and according to Muslims,  you would end up either in Islamic heaven or Christian heaven.

So who actually goes to hell?

At this point, a little common sense rides to the rescue and reminds us that all this heaven & hell stuff is just theistic bullshit.

Are Christianity & Islam Fundamentally Different?

is-18Islam’s holy book is called the Qur’an. This holy book is a record of the many messages that Mohammed received from Allah, the God of Islam. These messages were relayed to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. They started to arrive in 609 AD, and they continued to arrive at random intervals until Muhammad’s death in 632 AD.

is-15

Christianity’s holy book is called the Bible, although technically, only the New Testament part is relevant to Christianity. This New Testament contains four Gospels, each of which records the life & teachings of a man called Jesus. Christians believe this Jesus was the son of their God. They believe he was first crucified in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and then miraculously resurrected back to life shortly afterwards. Each of these four independently written Gospels maintains this Jerusalem resurrection was witnessed by many individuals.

Islam’s pedigree therefore seems to be based entirely on Mohammed’s unsubstantiated & unverifiable claims that he received messages from Allah via the angel Gabriel. Christianity’s pedigree on the other hand seems to be based on many witnesses to an alleged resurrection in Jerusalem. On the face of it, Christianity’s pedigree seems more robust than Islam’s pedigree. However, as I am now about to demonstrate, Christianity’s cornerstone, the alleged resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem, may also be based entirely on one man’s unsubstantiated and unverifiable claims.

Most Christians will automatically disagree of course, but let’s take a closer look at the resurrection claims found in the four Christian Gospels and see what happens. This alleged resurrection was apparently witnessed by many worthy individuals, but unfortunately, the only supporting evidence, is the evidence found in the Gospels themselves. Obviously the original Gospel authors believed Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem, otherwise they wouldn’t have written their Gospels, but why did they believe this? The answer to this question varies, depending on who you ask.

Those wishing to maintain the existing status quo [Christian apologists, Christian theologians & some scholars of ancient history], claim the Gospel authors believed this because these authors actually witnessed the resurrection or were close associates of eye witnesses. Apologists therefore argue the Gospels are historically accurate eye witness accounts. They do this because it’s the only evidence they have and, therefore,  it’s essential they establish the authenticity of this Gospel evidence. All very well, but establishing this authenticity comes with a price tag.  The average life span  back then was less than 60 years, and the alleged resurrection happened c 30 AD. Therefore, if you claim these Gospels are based on eye witness accounts, you must also claim these Gospels were written before c 70 AD , otherwise your reliable eye witnesses were just children at the time of the alleged resurrection.

However, many other scholars of ancient history claim the Gospels were probably written between 65 AD and 100 AD. If  true, all eye witnesses of this alleged resurrection would have been long dead when these Gospels were written. This implies the resurrection accounts in the Gospels are based on second-hand hearsay evidence. This is not a problem because this second-hand evidence was provided by Peter & by Paul, both of whom Christians regard as impeccable sources. More knowledgeable Christians readily accept that Peter first told Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection when they first met. They also readily accept that Paul then relayed this information to his early Christian communities. Christian apologists even make a virtue out of the fact that Paul was actively preaching about the resurrection only a few decades after it allegedly happened.

Thus there are really two possible scenarios to be considered. For convenience I will label them the “Early Gospel Scenario” and the “Late Gospel Scenario”. The “Early Gospel Scenario” asserts the resurrection accounts are historically accurate eye-witness accounts, implying the Gospels were written before c 70 AD. The “Late Gospel Scenario” asserts the Gospels were written between 65 AD and 100 AD, implying the resurrection accounts are based on second-hand hearsay evidence provided by Peter originally and then later relayed by Paul.

In the “Early Gospel Scenario”, Peter’s original claims are automatically validated by the independent eye witness accounts, and it becomes all too obvious why Christian apologists continually strive to convince us their Gospels really are based on historically accurate eye witness evidence. However, in the “Late Gospel Scenario”, you cannot use the Gospels to validate the veracity of Peter’s original claims. The Gospels accounts are themselves based on Peter’s claims, and thus they cannot be used to validate these claims. Therefore, in the “Late Gospel Scenario” Peter’s claims have to be accepted at face value. Presumably, this is what the original Gospel authors did 2000 year ago. They just accepted Peter’s claims, as passed on by Paul, and then simply immortalised these claims in their ensuing Gospels. This “Late Gospel Scenario” therefore implies that Christianity is also based entirely on one man’s unsubstantiated & unverifiable claims, in this case, claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. We should therefore think twice before claiming Christianity’s pedigree is more robust than Islam’s pedigree. As I’ve just demonstrated, it could be just wishful thinking.

My past experience with Christians leads me to conclude that most Christians will just rubbish these suggestions and continue to claim their Gospels are historically accurate eye witness accounts that can be trusted, but at least you now know why they do so. Christians, however, should note the implications of the “Late Gospel Scenario” and start acknowledging the tacit nature of their assumptions that Peter told Paul the truth about the Jerusalem resurrection. Until Christians can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that their Gospels were written before c 70 AD, there will always be the possibility that Peter simply lied to Paul about this Jerusalem resurrection. If he did lie, we would never know, because Paul would simply relay Peter’s lies unknowingly, the Gospel authors would simply immortalise Peter’s lies unknowingly, and the world would end up with Gospels portraying a Jerusalem resurrection that never actually happened.

517isbb0czl-_sx311_bo1204203200_Christians will no doubt bulk at any suggestion that Peter lied about this Jerusalem resurrection, but I can think of several reasons why he may have done so. I’ve addressed this issue in The Christianity Myth, which you can now read free of charge. So there you have it. A distinct possibility that Islam is based entirely on the psychotic hallucinations of a chronic epileptic suffering from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, and another distinct possibility that Christianity is based entirely on simple lies told by a simple peasant fisherman from Galilee. In my humble opinion, it’s about time we consigned both these ancient belief systems to the dustbin of history.

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I’m Right! Therefore, You’re Wrong! QED

Th4100811989_42f1f0101ceists always rely on the same unconvincing and totally blinkered arguments. They assume everything consistent with texts found in their Holy Book is true, and everything that conflicts with this Holy Book is untrue. They do this because they actually believe their Holy Book is the word of their God.

snoopy_cartoon

It really is that simple. As far as theists are concerned, that’s just the way it is. They never bother  to substantiate their assertions. They just point to their Holy Book and claim they are right. In reality, they simply define what they think is right, and if you disagree, then by their definition you are wrong. QED.

Atheists run into this brick wall all the time. I use to stand my ground and fight back, but these days, more often than not, I’ll just move on and leave them to their delusions. I don’t even bother to steer them towards my book anymore. There’s no point. The few theists brave enough to read it, pick the book up thinking its rubbish, and then proceed to confirm they were right. Most theists it seems have great difficulty thinking outside of the box. Anything threatening their long-standing status quo is robustly dismissed, and all suggestions that they might be wrong are automatically rejected with the usual “I’m right, therefore you’re wrong” attitude.

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A Very Simple Choice?

This very short post is inspired by that small band of theists, notably Christian theists, who seem to have great difficulty understanding why most non-theists and atheists are intrinsically just as moral as most theists.

Imagine yourself in a small room. You have never heard of any god and you are asked to make a simple choice. There are two doors A and B, each of which lead to a secular world. Door A leads to secular world A which is governed by two simple rules. Rule 1 of this secular world A is dog eat dog. Rule 2 of this secular world A is survival of the fittest.

Door B leads to secular world B which is governed by three simple rules. Rule 1 of this secular world B is love your neighbour as yourself. Rule 2 of this secular world B is treat others as you want to be treated. Rule 3 of this secular world B is failure to observe either of the first two rules results in instant transfer to world A.

You have free will. You have all the information you need to make a choice. The choice is yours. Which world would you choose to live in?

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Still Deafened by the Silence

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Click here to read  book  free of charge

This new re-interpretation of first century Christianity, questions Christianity’s origins, and challenges Christianity’s credibility, because it requires no divine-intervention of any sort.

Made possible by recent medical advances, this new re-interpretation implies that Christianity is nothing more than a simple 2000 year old misunderstanding.

The Christianity Myth demonstrates why Christianity is probably nothing more than a simple pagan belief system, first started by Paul, after his simple hallucination on the road to Damascus was inadvertently reinforced by a simple lie told in Jerusalem. These seemingly outrageous claims  are fully compatible with the evidence currently available.

When I made this book freely available some time ago, I fully expected a Christian push-back, but so far, I’m deafened by their continued silence.

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Do I have to go to church?

Taken from the Isaiah 53:5 Project yet again.

“Do we have to go to church?” Any atheist reading this will automatically assume we are about to address issues related to religions in general and Christianity in particular, but they would be wrong. I chose to re-blog the following article, because it illustrates the importance of something which religious people take for granted, and secular people tend to overlook. All religions recognise the importance of nurturing their flocks and all religions recognise the benefits that accrue from safety in numbers and free association with like-minded people. That is why their flocks are encouraged to regularly attend their churches or their mosques etc.

Atheists can and do utilise the digital world to nurture the intellect,  but this will never entirely emulate the benefits accrued from gathering together in a physical sense. I have featured the following article because it demonstrates the benefits obtained, when like minded people gather together regularly, to promote a common interest. Atheists should take note and make more effort to “unite in the virtual world”, in much the same way as Christians unite in the real world, not to nurture the “spirit”, but to nurture the “intellect”. Our “spirits” can be nurtured in so many other ways. Atheists should be encouraged to regularly engage with other like minded people at least once a week, at a time to suit them. Consider it as the digital equivalent of “going to church”. It’s the best way possible to promote the ever rising tide of secularism, and we would be foolish to squander the opportunities presented by the digital age.

BY THE ISAIAH 53:5 PROJECT on AUGUST 6, 2015

Do I Have to Go to Church?   By:  Barry Cooper    © ExploreGod.com

I have better things to do than go to church. Do I have to go to be a Christian?

Church attendance in the West, even among Christians, is falling. According to a recent study, attendance at church services in any given week has declined among Christians by 9 percent since 1991. Now only a minority of Christians (47 percent) can be found at church during a typical week.1

In a culture that sees independence and self-reliance as hallmarks of a truly successful person, church can feel like an imposition on our time and energy. We ask if we have to go to church in the same reluctant way we might ask, “Do I have to go to the dentist?”

But what if followers of Jesus only truly flourished when in community with other like-minded believers? What if true fulfillment could only be found in serving them rather than ourselves?

via Do I have to go to church? | The Isaiah 53:5 Project.

Why I Can Never Be a Christian

As I understand it, all you have to do to become a Christian, is believe Jesus is the Son of God, and then accept him as your lord & saviour. You also have to believe Jesus was resurrected by God after his crucifixion in Jerusalem. Those able to buy into all this, automatically qualify for several intangible benefits. For example, in times of trouble & strife, Christians can wrap themselves up in the Christianity comfort blanket and wait for things to improve. Christians can also readily rid themselves of all feelings of guilt & helplessness by saying a few simple prayers for those less fortunate than themselves. Christians can even allay fears of their own eventual demise by contemplating the usual promises of eternal salvation. However, to access all these benefits, Christians have to stick their heads in the sand and ignore a few awkward details.

Christians have to ignore the growing mountain of medical evidence that suggests Paul just hallucinated on the road to Damascus. Paul’s recorded symptoms during his conversion experience are fully compatible with the symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy and many similar religious conversion experiences are well documented in the medical literature.

Christians have to ignore the fact that there are no independent historical records whatsoever to back up Christian claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. Josephus confirms the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem, but the only evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is that found in New Testament itself, and you can be forgiven for thinking “well. It would say that wouldn’t it?”

Christians have to ignore the fact that we still have little idea who actually wrote the Gospels, and ignore the fact that we only have estimates of when they did so. Christian apologists would have us believe the Gospels are historically accurate eye witness accounts, but many other scholars maintain the Gospels were written by unknown authors well after the death of all concerned. The Gospels could therefore be nothing more than second-hand hearsay accounts.

Christians have to ignore the distinct probability that the veracity of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem depends entirely on the veracity of what Peter told Paul when they first met, some three years after Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Christians now readily accept that Peter told Paul all about the Jerusalem resurrection when they first met. But Christians then just tacitly assume that Peter told the truth.

And finally, Christians have to ignore all the Gospel inconsistencies & contradictions that make a mockery of any suggestion that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

Well, that’s it. Rant over. So what’s your excuse?

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Why the Deafening Silence?

How did Christianity really start? Was in the result of a virgin birth in Bethlehem, a supernatural resurrection in Jerusalem and a divine revelation on the road to Damascus? Or is Christianity just the logical end product that was produced when a simple hallucination on the road to Damascus was reinforced with a simple lie told in Jerusalem?

A few weeks ago, I posted what I thought was a very provocative 3-part series suggesting how I think Christianity actually started. I fully expected it to stir up a bit of a hornet’s nest. Instead, I’m now deafened by the silence. Not a single comment from the Jesus is a myth fraternity and, even more surprising, no reaction whatsoever from Christians. Why this deafening silence? I’m basically claiming that all you really need to explain Christianity and the New Testament is a simple hallucination on the road to Damascus and a simple lie told in Jerusalem. Put these two simple ideas together, and voila, Christianity without any need for a resurrection in Jerusalem.

I fully accept that I can’t prove Paul hallucinated on the road to Damascus. Likewise, I accept that I can’t prove Peter lied to Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection. But then again, Christians have to accept that they can’t prove Paul didn’t hallucinate on the road to Damascus and they also have to accept that they can’t prove Peter didn’t lie to Paul.

We, therefore, now have two explanations of how Christianity started. One is the 2000 year old orthodox explanation, with all the super naturalistic explanations you would expect from an ancient pantheistic culture. The other is a simpler, more pragmatic, 21st century reinterpretation of the same basic facts. If my version of first century events seems far too simple, just remember Occam’s razor which states:“When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.”

You can find out why Paul hallucinated on the road to Damascus by clicking here, but you’ll have to read The Christianity Myth if you want to know why Peter lied to Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection, and why Peter’s lies were later immortalized in the Gospels .

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