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-Atheist Billboard: So the Battle for Christmas Begins…

by Dr. D ~ November 27th, 2010

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The American Atheists Org. put up a billboard coming into NY City (on route 495 at Kennedy Blvd on the NJ side of the Lincoln Tunnel) with the message:

You KNOW it’s a Myth

This Season, Celebrate REASON!

And so the battle over Christmas begins.

Here’s the reason they spent a huge amount of money to put this message out. From the American Atheist website:

The purpose of the billboard is threefold:
1) To address those atheists who “go along to get along”, and to encourage them to come out of their closets
2) To attack the myth that Christianity owns the solstice season
3) To raise the awareness of the organization and the movement.

Response: I thought long and hard about exposing this billboard further. Writing about it actually helps to spread their message that only few driving along Route 495 in New jersey would have seen. However since it is now sort of all over the place on the web and even on TV news shows it is probably best now to look at the message and respond.

First of all their attack on the ‘myth’ that ‘Christianity owns the solstice season’ is completely wrong. Commercialism and malls have over taken Christianity when it comes to Christmas a long time ago. So the atheists have their own ‘myth’ going.

Secondly, their claim that the celebration of Christmas revolves around a ‘Myth’ is somewhat true when you consider Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and other features that have become part of the celebration.

Even the choice of December 25 came much later and definitely is not the real date of the first Christmas. Also, the ‘Wisemen’ probably showed up and visited the Christ Child a year or so after the event according to scripture.

Thirdly, if you really want to celebrate reason this season and take all of the myth out of it, read the actual Biblical accounts of the birth of a baby in Bethlehem that changed history for all time:

In Matthew (Mt 1:18-2:18) and in Luke (Lk 1:26-56, 2:1-40).

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25 Responses to -Atheist Billboard: So the Battle for Christmas Begins…

  1. rob

    Dear me,

    When will you understand, have anyone even looked into the Christmas celebrations and understood its origins. I mean Christ was NOT born on Xmas day. Please have a littler discernment about this!!!!!!!!!!
    Christmas is a PAGAN celebration. It was designed by the Roman Catholic church to replace and appease the ancient celebration of the Winter Solstiec and the birthdate of the Roman God (Saturn) . The so-called Holy Catholic church (sic), to bring and placate the pagan romans tried to amalgamate this into a Christian Celebration of Christ’s birthday.
    I get really angry when followers of Jesus then go about defending this Catholic abomination. It is PAGAN through and through. #
    Will you ALL please wake up. For the Lord DETESTS such practices for they are not of Him.

  2. Dr. D

    rob,
    Obviously you didn’t really read my post. In it I did mention that Dec. 25 was not the real day that Jesus was born. In many ways you are correct -it did start out as a pagan celebration that was co-opted by the church but has become a time when Christians reflect upon the the birth of Jesus.

    Discerning believers cut though all of the commercial and pagan elements and take the time during this season to worship the Son of God who came as a baby. That’s what the ‘mas’ part is all about-worshiping Christ.

    God didn’t send his Son to condemn the world but to save it. I believe that the celebration of His birth and the account of it in the scripture transcends all of the pagan and commercial junk and brings Jesus front and center for all to see.

  3. God Bless The Atheists This Christmas « Steve Sawyer, Online Columnist

    […] -Atheist Billboard: So the Battle for Christmas Begins… (answersforthefaith.com) […]

  4. Misanthropic Scott

    Interesting. So, you acknowledge that everything in the Christian celebration of Christmas is a myth. I’m impressed.

    However, to state that commercialism is an atheist endeavor is to claim that secular == atheistic. This is not the case. Many people in big business and very into consumerism are in fact religious. I personally am not a consumerist. I reduce, reuse, repair, and respect my stuff long before I get to the point of recycling. I shun gift-giving at the wintertime solstice with whatever vehemence I can get away with without alienating my family. And, I am an atheist.

    Oddly though, your third point about celebrating reason has nothing at all to back it up. You use bible quotes to back up reason? Are you serious?

    Adam and Eve had two sons. The end.

    The bible is far from reasonable. Instead, the bible mandates violent death for such crimes as homosexuality, working on the sabbath, and wearing a garment made of a mix of linen and wool.

    Further, the bible literally requires that you take on faith that for which there is no evidence. In what way is that a reasonable position? If you want to have your faith, go ahead. No one is stopping you. But to call it reason is to call day night and white black and humans god-like. None of these could be further from the truth.

    Reason says that the supernatural has never been observed, has no hard evidence, and should be disbelieved. It is only faith (and fear of death) that mandate belief in the supernatural and in an afterlife. There is certainly not a shred of evidence to support such a position.

    Enjoy your faith. Wallow in it. But, don’t try to pass it off as reason.

  5. Little John

    I’m impressed by Misanthropic Scott’s Faith!

    Scott, if you are indeed logical you’ll concede that it takes just as much faith to believe that we are here as the result of chance as it does to believe in God. (Einstein said that the odds of inteligent life coming about by accident is comparable to an explosion in a type factory resulting in a set of encyclopedias).

    We all have faith in something, and nothing can prove it other than the conviction of our hearts and minds.

    The difference is, we believe that love actually exists, and you believe that love is a random firing of synapses in brains that (against all odds) evolved from single celled organisms in warm puddles.

    Now that’s some powerful faith! Wecome to the ranks of the faithful!

    I wish you and yours a Merry Solstice, I’ll be happily wallowing in my faith).

  6. Little John

    Dear Rob,

    Christians would happily celebrate Christmas any time of the year. The birth of Christ has nothing to do with the winter solstice – as you rightly pointed out that was a pagan holiday. By celebrating Christmas at that time it was easier to hide from persecution, imprisonment, and torture at the hands of pagans aethiests, and Roman soldiers. Christians did that LONG before the catholic church got involved. it wasn’t until 274 AD that Christmas was officially held on December 25th, which in that year happened to be the date of the solstice.
    And it wasn’t until 354 AD, when Bishop Liberius of Rome officially ordered his members to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th, that the date was ordered by the catholic church.

    350 years or so is a lot of tradition, so it hardly seems odd that the date stuck.

    Which practices, exactly, does The Lord protest? Singing Christmas hymns? telling our kids about the manger story? Giving to the poor? Buying gifts for loved ones? Eating and laughing? Celebrating the birth of Christ? Lighting candles maybe? Spending family time together?

    It’s only a pagan holiday for those that celebrate it as pagans.

  7. Dr. D

    Little John: Thanks for your excellent comments. I definitely appreciate the help.

  8. Dr. D

    Misanthropic Scott,
    Actually I never said “that everything in the Christian celebration of Christmas is a myth”- quite the opposite. The Bible passages that I cite are not myths but the real reason for the season. It is built upon the testimony of reliable witnesses.

    The Christian religion is actually reasonable and scientific (though I am sure you would disagree). The basis of any scientific ‘fact’ is that it can be tested with the same results over time.

    For 2,000 years millions of people have come to Christ and have received his Holy Spirit and it has changed their lives. The same being-Jesus that appeared to Paul in the first century still visits people today. The same power that the original Apostles used in healing people in 40 AD is still healing people today. The Same Spirit that brought inspiration to the prophets of old is still speaking and counseling believers in the 21th century. The same Spirit transforms the thinking and lives of believers today as it did at the first- Giving power to individuals and groups of people to overcome their limitations and selfish desires.

    The evidence of our faith is in the lives of Millions over time who have testified and continue to bear witness that they have experienced a Spirit or being that originates outside of themselves transforming their very lives and bringing inspiration and comfort that they never heretofore experienced before becoming a believer in Christ.

    If you want to observe the supernatural up close and personal and experience the real evidence of Christianity for yourself all you need to do is accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
    Blessings,
    Michael

  9. Little John

    Dear Michael,

    Amen!

  10. Misanthropic Scott

    Little John,

    Starting from the bottom. Thank you very much for having the respect for my views to not wish me a Merry Christmas. I genuinely appreciate it. To follow suit, I genuinely wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Christian New Year (other faiths have their new year at different times).

    So, now on to the heated discussion. I hope you don’t mind a respectful but heated discussion.

    Scott, if you are indeed logical you’ll concede that it takes just as much faith to believe that we are here as the result of chance as it does to believe in God.

    Hmm…. Have you read anything about evolution? Are you aware of the cases where evolution’s predictions have come true? Once upon a time, creationists used whales and the lack of intermediate species between land animals and whales as evidence of creation. Then came basilosaurus and ambulocetus perfectly fitting in time and in the physical characteristics of intermediate species.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilosaurus
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambulocetus

    Once upon a time, creationists claimed that the feather was irreducibly complex and could not have evolved piecemeal.

    http://www.science20.com/adaptive_complexity/primitive_dinosaur_feathers

    Then, we had a real coup. There is the case of Tiktaalik. Neil Shubin wanted to see what the intermediate stage was between the fins of lobe-finned fishes (from which we evolved) and primitive land animals like amphibians. The pattern of one upper arm bone, two lower arm bones, and lots of “blobby bones” in the wrist and fingers seems to have fascinated him. What fascinates me is a bit different.

    He wanted to find these fossils. He knew the time frame. We had fish from 380 million years ago (MYA) and land animals with fully formed arms from 365 MYA. So, he looked in a geology text book for sedimentary rock from 370-375 MYA. He then further restricted his search to places that had not already been trampled by dozens of paleontologists since he was looking for something new.

    He came up with Ellesmere Island with outcroppings of 375 MYO rock outcroppings of the right sort. He organized an expedition. OK, it took three expeditions before he found what he was looking for, and named it Tiktaalik in the Inuit language of the locals who helped with the expedition.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiktaalik

    Knowledge of evolution, a geology text book, a prediction based on evolution, and it all worked out.

    You call that faith??!!? I call it hard evidence.

    (Einstein said that the odds of inteligent life coming about by accident is comparable to an explosion in a type factory resulting in a set of encyclopedias).

    That’s a new one on me. Would you mind citing a source for that quote? I’d like to get the context for it.

    We all have faith in something, and nothing can prove it other than the conviction of our hearts and minds.

    My faith is in that for which there is evidence. But then, that’s not really faith, is it?

    The difference is, we believe that love actually exists, and you believe that love is a random firing of synapses in brains that (against all odds) evolved from single celled organisms in warm puddles.

    Nice strawman you’ve got there. Let’s see what I can do with that.

    First, I strongly believe in love. I have been in love with the same woman for 25 years. We have a 23 year (and counting) happy, faithful, and very loving marriage.

    The plain hard fact that romantic love has a characteristic signature on an fMRI does not make the love any less real. Nor does the oxytocin that increases both trust and fidelity. In fact, the fact that such chemical processes come from within the neurobiology that is me, means that I can give the gift of love and feel the wonder of love freely and for myself.

    You, on the other hand, seem to believe that love was inserted into your brain by God. If that is correct, your spouse must be thrilled to know that your love is not really your own, but rather is the result of an arrow from cupid or the will of God. Would not that love be more meaningful if it genuinely came from you?

    Again, enjoy your Christmas. I genuinely do not mean to take anything away from your faith. I just want a bit of respect for my views, the least respected views in the once great U.S. of A., and a little understanding for the difference between faith and evidence. You have given me the former. I genuinely do appreciate that. Will you also concede the latter?

  11. Misanthropic Scott

    Dr. D,

    The Bible passages that I cite are not myths but the real reason for the season. It is built upon the testimony of reliable witnesses.

    Really? Reliable witnesses? Then why the long lag between Jesus’ life and the first writings about him? Why no corroboration from historians like Philo or Pliny the elder both of whom were writing history from the Hebrew side and the Roman side and made no mention of a controversial rabbi or a controversial crucifixion, certainly not one that would have the San Hedrin working on Erev Pessach!

    The Christian religion is actually reasonable and scientific (though I am sure you would disagree). The basis of any scientific ‘fact’ is that it can be tested with the same results over time.

    Right, tested with results. But, what would those results be? Where is the testable reliable evidence of any god or gods, let alone the particularly Christian one? Hell (oops), Christians still put lightening rods in church steeples. You can’t even show that God would not zap a church steeple. What happened to “thy will be done”? If God wants to destroy his house, why would you use knowledge of electricity to thwart His will??!!?

    For 2,000 years millions of people have come to Christ and have received his Holy Spirit and it has changed their lives.

    Ditto for Buddhism that is a religion with no gods. Ditto for Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. That merely says that spirituality has a positive effect on one’s health and mental outlook. It says nothing about its correctness since obviously the same effects can be achieved by contradictory means.

    The same being-Jesus that appeared to Paul in the first century still visits people today.

    Oh please! I thought we were having a rational discussion here. That some idiot sees Jesus in the Rorschach test on a piece of toast does not provide evidence of visitation by Jesus or anyone else. Evidence please. We’re discussing a physical property of the universe, whether this is a universe with or without a supreme being. That would be a physical property. You need the same kind of evidence to make this statement as for other properties of physics.

    The same power that the original Apostles used in healing people in 40 AD is still healing people today.

    Really?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3193902.stm
    http://www.medicineonline.com/news/12/3953/Study-fails-to-show-healing-power-of-prayer.html

    That said though, if you’re talking about healing from within, placebos work just as well. All that is important is that the person believe in the cure, not what the cure is. Faith healing is just another placebo.

    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/09-05-20/#feature

    The evidence of our faith is in the lives of Millions over time who have testified and continue to bear witness that they have experienced a Spirit or being that originates outside of themselves transforming their very lives and bringing inspiration and comfort that they never heretofore experienced before becoming a believer in Christ.

    Hearsay eyewitness accounts. Oh, now I’m really convinced. Are you aware that human eyewitness testimony is among the worst forms of evidence on the planet?

    http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan00/pi4.aspx
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyewitness_identification
    http://psy2.ucsd.edu/~hflowe/eyepsych.htm

    Blessings,

    Unlike Little John, you are being deliberately disrespectful here. So, even though I have come into your house (or blog) as a guest, I still feel the need to say “….”.

    You see, I live in New York. We’ve had just about enough blessings thank you very much. On 9/11/2001, some wackos decided that it was their life’s work to give us the blessings of their God. No thank you. I just want God (or more accurately, the self-proclaimed minions of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic desert war god) to leave me the … alone for a while.

  12. Dr. D

    Misanthropic Scott,
    Here I thought we were having a pleasant conversation. I guess not. If I was trying to be “deliberately disrespectful here” I would have said “God Bless You”
    Thanks,
    Michael

  13. Misanthropic Scott

    Dr. D,

    You did say “God Bless You”. That’s why I felt you were being deliberately disrespectful. The word blessing implies one or more gods. If that was not your intent and you mean to retract that, then I will also retract and apologize for my reaction to it. But, blessings is a religious word. That’s why I say gesundheit when someone sneezes rather than bless you. Though “superstitious sneeze thing” would be just as good in my opinion. It’s just not likely to win friends, well, perhaps some.

    So, if you’d like to pick up where we left off, feel free to attempt to answer my points.

  14. Dr. D

    Misanthropic Scott,
    No, I did not say “God Bless You” but ‘Blessings’ which from my perspective was merely an attempt to offer good will and not a point of disrespect nor even a religious thing but merely a salutation of well being. If you are offended by that then I am sorry and will refrain from using any graceful platitudes in the future. When I do actually mean something ‘religious’ I will say ‘may God bless you’ and mean it.
    I will pick up the conversation later.

  15. Misanthropic Scott

    Dr. D,

    I checked again. Words do change meaning over time. Perhaps in the age of the internet, they change more rapidly. Some dictionaries now do allow for a secular meaning of blessings that does not invoke one or more gods. This was not true when I last checked, which was solidly less than a decade ago, possibly half that.

    So, I will apologize and give you benefit of the doubt that your blessings may not have been religious in nature, though it still seems a bit cheeky to me to use the term when speaking respectfully to a known atheist.

    But, I will stick with my resolve to give benefit of the doubt and apologize for my misunderstanding and my reaction.

    I look forward to hearing your responses to either or both of my posts to you and to Little John. Take your time. I know I posted a lot of links, some with quite detailed information.

    Scott

  16. Dr. D

    Misanthropic Scott:

    It is amazing to me how we have strayed from the original discussion about Christmas. Normally I require all comments on this blog to be kept ‘on target’ with the original article and this certainly is not the case here. Nevertheless I will address several of your points since I am as guilty as anyone in expanding the conversation. Here’s the first one:

    Then why the long lag between Jesus’ life and the first writings about him?

    Long lag? I don’t think so. After all Jimmy Carter recently came out with a book about his White House years and he was President 30-34 years ago. I was married 36 years ago and yet I can recall the events of that day like it was yesterday. Plus what I don’t remember my wife does.

    The earliest writings that reference Jesus and early Christianity are those of Paul written between 48-60 AD/CE -beginning roughly 15 years after the death of Jesus. In I Corinthians he writes about the Last Supper and the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. In Chapter 15 he names Peter, James the brother of Jesus, and the Apostles, plus himself and 500 others as those who had seen Jesus after his resurrection. In Galatians he claims that he received the Gospel directly from the resurrected Jesus.

    The Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke-Acts were written before 70 AD/CE. Probably between 55-66 (22-32 years afterward). Internal references and evidence pretty much precludes a later date considering the Jewish War (66-70) and the changes following. Most scholars contend that the 3 Gospels contained earlier common and diverse source material that may have circulated orally.

    In the first century, memorization and oral recall of large amounts of material was quite common. Most Judean families maintained a lengthy genealogy in memorized oral form. Also, Rabbis were required to accurately memorize the entire Torah and the more respected were also able to substantially recite the Prophets and the Writings –that is the entire Tanakh (Old Testament).

    As long as most of the Apostles and early Christian leaders were all together in Jerusalem and neighboring areas there was little perceived need for a written Gospel. After the movement began to spread to Asia Minor (45) and then on to Greece and Rome (48-60) the need became obvious and more permanent written records of the oral traditions were made.

  17. Misanthropic Scott

    Well Dr. D,

    You like to stay on topic. So, we’ll have to agree to disagree about the meaning of reliable. I note that you did not mention the lack of corroboration with other historians of the time and did not address the issue of humans as credible eyewitnesses.

    I have a very strong tendency to go off on tangents and see where they lead. As such, I’ll stay away from this blog. I don’t want to be a bad guest. I will check back just to read occasionally to see if Little John or you choose to answer any more of the issues that I raised.

  18. Dr. D

    Misanthropic Scott:
    The following is a response to your next point. It took a while to research it all since I hadn’t really looked at some of these sources since I did my doctoral work in the early 80’s:

    “Why no corroboration from historians like Philo or Pliny the elder both of whom were writing history from the Hebrew side and the Roman side and made no mention of a controversial rabbi or a controversial crucifixion, certainly not one that would have the San Hedrin working on Erev Pessach!’’

    You mention a want of historical confirmations for Jesus and early Christianity. It is true that the movement was somewhat under the Roman radar and there are only a few passing references to be considered. However, in the final analysis ‘silence’ is not a very compelling argument as far as I’m concerned.

    Fact is, we have only a few historical writings extant from the first century period. It is not surprising that some small Jewish group would not really rise to the attention of the Roman writers at the time. Besides what they did write about Judaism at the time shows that they really didn’t even have a good clue. If what they said about the Jews cannot be trusted than why do we have any expectations that any references to early Christians would be all that accurate or satisfying?

    You could write a whole book on ‘what Pliny forgot to mention’ yet it would be meaningless in this discussion. What did Pliny the Elder say about Judaism proper? He may have referenced the Essenes community on the Dead Sea in a passing geographical reference in ‘Naturalis Historia’ but nothing about the religion per se.

    Tell me what did any of the Roman writers say about any other Jewish religious group? That is what early Christians were to the Romans, merely another Jewish group that caused trouble.

    Tacitus did write fancifully and with disdain about the Jews and their origins. The accuracy of his history here is laughable. Then he writes about the dealings of the Romans with Judea with far more certainty including the beginnings of the Jewish War and preparation for the assault on the walls of Jerusalem. All in the first 13 pages of Book 5 of his ‘Histories’. Unfortunately we only have 26 pages of Book 5 extant. Read a few pages and you will see what I mean about its accuracy on Judaism.

    AlsoTacitus did reference a group associated with the Fire of Rome in 64 AD/CE that Nero placed the blame on:

    “…Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite punishments on a class hated for their disgraceful acts, called Chrestians by the populace. Christ (probably Chrestus in the original), from whom the name had its origin. …”

    Suetonius also references Roman persecution of this group of Chrestiani who followed a leader called Chrestus:

    “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [ Claudius ] expelled them [the Jews] from Rome”

    Neither the Tacitus or Suetonius reference says a whole lot about the group in question but the references do square with early Christian recollection.

    Those who want to say that these ‘Chrestians’ were some other group called ‘the Goodies’ (which is what the word means) and a follower of a leader called ‘the Good guy’ are rather disingenuous and unconvincing particularly since the group in question was a Jewish group. Show me any references to another Jewish group with a name that sounds suspiciously like Christians? Unlikely and pretty far-fetched. It is far more likely that the Romans merely misunderstood their real name and tagged them with a similar sounding one instead.

    Later, Pliny’s nephew Pliny The Younger did mention ‘Christians on trial’ in a letter to Trajan in 112 AD/CE which the emperor responded to. This is an important early reference with far more info than any previous mention. By the early 2nd century the movement had risen to the level where it was being recognized directly by the Romans.

    Besides Tacitus, what did any of the other Roman writers say about the revolt of Judea in 66-70 AD/CE and groups and the leaders involved? Yet it was a major military campaign and we have the coins to show for it? What we do have comes mostly from Josephus.

    While we are at it Josephus did mention John the Baptist and James the Just (an early Christian leader and brother of Jesus). However his statement about Jesus is disputed and obviously has been heavily tampered with to the point that it is hard to be certain exactly what he did originally say.

    Origen mentions the Josephus references in “Against Celsus” circa 248 AD/CE and makes it plain that Josephus did not believe that Jesus was the Christ or Messiah. But by 325 and the writing of Eusebius, Josephus is quoted in its current form with the statement-“He was the Christ”. Obviously in the interim changes had been made to the text. Even greater and more obvious additions can be observed in the Slavonic editions of Josephus which were derived from the Aramaic manuscripts of his works.

    Nevertheless, most historians believe that Josephus did reference Jesus in some form or another even if we can’t fully recover his exact statement.

    What about Philo? I would like to know what he had to say about the Herodians. He was close to that ruling family and a nephew even married into it but he seems to be rather silent when it comes to that very interesting group of folks. Ditto for the Ananias High Priestly family in Jerusalem which he might have been directly related to.

    Point is, silence from ancient sources doesn’t really mean whole lot. Many documents cited by ancient writers are no longer extant and some have obviously been tampered with. A lot of what we do have is obviously inaccurate (ie. Tacitus on Jewish origins and history). Plus there were not that many sources in the first place.

    Nevertheless, it is obvious from the sources we do have that Christianity had its beginning in the first century and was becoming a large enough movement to cause the Romans some concerns by the time Pliny the Younger mentions it in 112 AD/CE.

  19. Misanthropic Scott

    Dr. D,

    I realize that history from the first century is a bit sketchy. The point I’m making though is that we really don’t have conclusive evidence that Jesus ever existed. You have good reasons for why we might not have such evidence even if he did exist. However, explaining the lack of evidence is not the same as presenting evidence. There is, to my knowledge, nothing providing evidence of the existence of the man. I am prepared to admit that he may have actually existed as a flesh and blood human, though of course not the son of God since there is not a shred of evidence even hinting at the remotest possibility of the existence of any gods.

    But, Jesus as flesh and blood would not be remarkable, just a very interesting philosopher and rabbi. So, I would not require extraordinary evidence in the case of an ordinary claim, such as a human being existing.

    That said, I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to make the case one way or the other. Therefore, in my mind, at least, Jesus is myth rather than historical fact. There may indeed be some truth to the myth. However, explaining why there is no evidence does not equate to proof of his existence.

    Further, Josephus himself is highly controversial as a source. Many have questioned the authenticity of his writing on the subject of Jesus.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

    Note also that wikipedia does state that the mainstream view is that Jesus probably existed. I am merely pointing out that his existence as a human being is in question. As such, he may be a fairly mainstream myth. Perhaps the evidence of his existence is somewhat greater than for that of Robin Hood and somewhat less than for King Herod.

    To me, that means he probably existed, maybe with a 60% confidence level. But, I’m just not sure probably is good enough to claim definitive history. So, I like to point out that there is still a pretty significant possibility that such a man never even existed. Certainly, I do believe that had he been tried by the San Hedrin on the eve of Passover against the policy and religion of the San Hedrin for working on a high holiday, and then crucified on the same day by the Romans, such a momentous event for both sides would have attracted some attention of the writers of the time. This is equivalent to the Supreme Court of the United States meeting on Christmas Eve to condemn someone to death that same day. Were such a thing to happen, it would be major news.

  20. Dr. D

    Misanthropic Scott:
    Obviously we going to continue to disagree on this issue. If it was just Jesus alone your myth theory might have some merit but his disciples carried on and built a whole movement. Without Jesus- no Jesus movement, no Apostles, no disciples, no writings.

    That would mean that sometime in the middle of the first century a group got together and decided to start a new religion based upon a myth, write letters and Gospels with teaching, symbols, and practices that reflect what we do know of 1st century Judaism from Josephus, Philo and Qumran and then carried on and even died for it even though they knew it was all a big lie? Not really a convincing possibility.

  21. Misanthropic Scott

    Dr. D,

    Wasn’t it just Paul who wrote about Jesus within the timeframe of living memory? Weren’t all the others written much later?

    That would make it just one person, not twelve who made the claim that Jesus actually lived.

    Even so, let’s look at the quality of these eyewitnesses for a moment.

    Judas’ defense attorney: Paul, you claim that my client betrayed the deceased and is thus is an accomplice in the murder of one Jesus Christ. Is that correct?

    Paul: Yes.
    JDA: Further, you claim that you saw the deceased walk on water?
    Paul: Yes.
    JDA: And, you claim that the deceased turned water into wine?
    Paul: Yes.
    JDA: And, lastly, you claim that the body was never found because he ascended bodily into heaven?
    Paul: Yes.
    JDA: Gentlemen of the jury (surely there would be no women on the jury in such a misogynistic culture), I ask you to consider this witness as completely unreliable. In fact, I think this witness is likely a drug addict or insane.

    I avoided mentioning the virgin birth thing as that is likely just a mistranslation from a language in which the word was equivalent to maiden and may have meant either virgin or unmarried woman.

    Anyway, this whole conversation is actually somewhat irrelevant if we’re discussing whether Christmas is a myth. The foundation of this myth is that the baby Jesus was the son of God. As God is a myth, obviously anything founded on the myth of God is also a myth. It’s not as if anyone is celebrating Jesus’ birth due to his competence as a philosopher. No one is similarly honoring Socrates, Plato, or Epicurus.

    The bottom line is that Christmas is indeed all a myth.

    Interesting discussion though.

  22. Dr. D

    Misanthropic Scott:
    Thanks for your comments and hanging on a little longer. I actually enjoyed your Judas’ defense and definitely an interesting discussion even if we continue to disagree.

  23. -‘God Is’ Billboard Replaces Atheist One | ANSWERS For The Faith

    […] A new sign sponsored by the Times Square Church of Manhattan reads:  "God is"  plus a word cloud of religious themes. The new billboard replaces the controversial  atheist one which carried a message declaring Christmas a myth: “You Know It’s A Myth”. […]

  24. -Atheists Say ‘Bah Humbug’ with Billboard Campaign | ANSWERS For The Faith

    […] Response: The billboard campaign is designed to create attention for their cause and they have succeeded once more. Whether you like it or not the atheists have every right to spend their money ridiculing the faith of others if they so choose. I think that last years billboard was actually more offensive. […]

  25. -Atheist ‘Christmas’ Billboard in Times Square | ANSWERS For The Faith

    […] Not that offensive at all considering their past efforts in 2010 and 2011. Last year’s featured and equated Satan along with Jesus which was far more offensive to […]

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