Can you prove Jesus existed outside of Bible (so called) evidence?

by punkofnice 78 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Phizzy

    Pure Faith is enough for you Humbled, and I respect that.

    What I find annoying is when people try to take me for a fool and trot out all the old rubbish that has already been dealt with to try to prove their Jesus existed.

    There is no proof that would satisfy the sceptic that Jesus of nazareth existed.

    Despite that, my gut feeling is that such a charismatic preacher did exist, and that sometimes we get some of his real words come through the myth and legend, if very little real history, but I can offer no proof for my gut feeling.

    (Maybe I should stop eating so many Chillies, my gut might not keep on giving me feelings !)

  • KateWild

    There was no 0 CE, Kate :-)-apogs

    oops my mistake xx

  • Apognophos

    One line of reasoning I have heard that seems to really make sense, is that if things about Jesus were fabricated, if his apostles/disciples made up those things, then they wouldn't have died for it. Let's say you decide to start a religion with one of your friends and you are going to pretend your friend is the son of God and he ends up getting killed for it, would you then die for what you knew wasn't real?

    It's an interesting point. I agree, I don't think they would have been willing to die if they knew they made him up. But the actual situation is a bit more complicated.

    1. Who actually died, out of the ones who originally, personally followed Jesus and claimed to have witnessed his miracles? Did they die willingly or while shouting out, "No, I take it back, I'm sorry!" Back then all you had to do was disrespect a Roman ruler a little too much and you were history. Stephen got too worked up over his faith and the Jews were inflamed into stoning him on the spot. I don't believe we have good records of what actually happened to many of the first disciples, just the later orally-transmitted stories of the early Church, which contain lots of tales of martyrdom that first show up centuries later. We can barely even tell which references in the Gospels are to which apostles because their names keep changing, let alone do we know their life stories!

    Sidenote: Rutherford didn't willingly go to jail, either. If he knew his writings were going to land him in the pokey, he would have never written that stuff.

    2. Some people are just crazy. Marshall Applewhite made up his own UFO religion and then killed himself along with everyone else. Jim Jones did the same, but Applewhite actually had a companion who traveled with him until she died, and they were both devoted to the nonsense they worked out together.

    3. Don't forget, many of us were prepared to die for our beliefs, and none of us ever saw Jesus, or knew someone who claimed to have seen him! We took the word of ancient writings, and the authority that came from generations of people before us who believed that the first generation of Christians saw him. When you stop and think about it, no generation, no link in the chain, derives strength from the total length of the chain; each link stands or falls on its own. So the number of people who believe is not material when none of them were claiming to be eyewitnesses except for the first ones.

    As for the first ones, it's difficult to even know what the apostles taught, who claimed to know Jesus personally. Keep in mind that none of Jesus' personal acquintances probably wrote anything that we have today. No Gospels actually name their own authors; those names were assigned later in the nebulous early history of the Church. That means that whatever they believed and claimed to have witnessed could have mutated after they died or orally conveyed it to someone else.

    One theory that is considered credible is that Jesus was originally a mythical figure based on the Jewish prophecies about the expected Messiah, and only later was given a body, a convenient birthplace, and other mortal aspects in re-tellings of the story. In this case, Jesus could have started out as an unseen savior (like Applewhite's comet UFO), and thus his earliest followers were not even required to believe that they or anyone else saw him. Only as the stories spread through an uneducated, illterate population did they turn into what we have today.

    Considering that the general population of the modern world is about 1,000x more educated than they were, and we still have a need for sites like Snopes to debunk urban legends that circulate through our advanced computer networks thanks to our innate gullibility, it's not hard to imagine that random claims back then would spread like wildfire if they were appealing.

    Why would the earliest apostles have been willing to be martyred if they were teaching about an unseen Jesus? First, see point 1, that we don't know how willing they were! Next, consider that many groups have been persecuted and killed for purely philosophical differences. The fact is, most beliefs evolve, they don't spring into being. The teachings about a Messiah came out of the most fertile ground imaginable, being at a time when the Jews wanted a deliverer and had lots of old writings to pore over in search of a hope for their future.

    Over time, this could have evolved into what we call Christians. We can't assume that something definitely happened around 30 CE that created a new religion, as we have some of the earliest birth pangs of the church preserved in the NT, like the decision to start preaching to Gentiles, making this no longer a religion just for Jews -- and then the debate over whether Gentile Christians were beholden to the Mosaic Law. This process indicates an evolution of thought over time, not a sudden birth based on one influential man's teachings.

  • nicolaou

    Pure Faith is enough for you Humbled, and I respect that.

    I don't.

  • RunAsFastAsYouCan

    I believe in the message of jesus. I don't have to prove anything. You can believe whatever you want. have fun. In the old days they would stone you for your beliefs. In the Jayhole house of horror they stone you too. It seems like the most wild eye'd former jw's are the most outspoken athiests. and i could pretty much care less because i never walked in their shoes.

  • snare&racket

    All the historical rferences are long after when he apprarntly lived, but coincide with the formation of the belief system.

    Also there were lots of messiahs and the jewish ones knew the Isiah verses with the prophesied name.... guess what , they all called themself Ieshua,

  • Gopher

    OK - Runfast. Time for a reply:

    I believe in the message of jesus. I don't have to prove anything. You can believe whatever you want. have fun.

    If you really cannot prove anything, is your faith based perhaps on a fantasy or tall tales passed down from misty ancient times? If the evidence for Jesus were solid, there'd be nothing left to "believe". It would be fact.

    There is no need to downgrade others who don't want to believe but rather ask for verification about fantastic beliefs or statements.

    In the old days they would stone you for your beliefs.

    True. Or actually to put it more correctly, they might stone you for your non-belief. Or in the Inquisition you could have been subjected to any number of torture devices. This shows the dangers of "belief" systems run amok, especially with insecure people at the controls. Secure people have no need to physically force others to try to get them to believe the same, and have no need to physically harm or kill people who don't accept non-factual faith-based dogma.

    In the Jayhole house of horror they stone you too.

    Not sure if you can equate shunning to stoning, but both types of discipline are imposed by those who are insecure of their positions.

    It seems like the most wild eye'd former jw's are the most outspoken athiests.

    First - the word should be spelled 'atheists'. I guess "wild eyed" is in the mind of the beholder. The reason ex-JW's often become atheists is that because we were so thoroughly deceived and exploited by a religious system (more so than people who spent much time in other milder, less-demanding religions) that we felt the need to go back and re-examine everything we were ever taught about God and spirituality.

    Atheism is actually the default position with which we are born. Belief in specific gods and deities only comes from human tradition and teaching, sometimes at the point of a sword or from people who threatened to stone anyone who didn't follow their program. So maybe atheism is just a lack of belief, a certain skepticism, rather than 'wild-eyed' craziness. Maybe there is a certain reason and thoughtfulness behind it.

    and i could pretty much care less because i never walked in their shoes.

    And that's pretty much the point -- most of us as atheists DID walk in believers' shoes at one point, because we were taught that way or convinced of it earlier in our life. And you who have never been on the other side of the fence -- you come on here and cast aspersions on the minority in society called atheists, just because their viewpoint differs from yours. I hope you don't wish us to be stoned (in the violent sense, not the drunken sense).

  • humbled

    Phizzy and Nic--I'm pretty pragmatic about Jesus.

    If you have time, check out a web page. It's rwandanstories.

    There is a choirmaster who tells how he climbed out of his sunday clothes to kill people with a machete. On the other hand a video interview (about 3 min.) tells of a man so good that his killers--They couldn't kill him--they had to find a stranger to do it. Those stories and many others are followed by the practical repentance and practical forgiveness communities(without any mention of religion) have taken up to recover from the gravest of mental and other wounds left by massive slaughter. Wounds of victims and perpetrators.

    the accounts illustrate what I mean by pragmatic.

    Do I have faith? When I first followed Jesus' teachings I was a conventional believer-- fully indoctrinated by the church. It wasn't until I actually undertook to apply the teachings that I experienced profound effects. Was that faith?

    Then I see now there is no proof of his life and actual words and yet I still experience the greatness of the lessons. So I am not a person of faith, am I?

    I do not see a reason to throw the baby(Jesus) out with the bath just because I'm "smarter" now.

    Phizzy said he can respect my faith. may be there isn't a word for my lack of faith. He has some of the same things going on in his consideration of Jesus. I confess, I eat hot chilis too.

    As I say,I am a pragmatist.

    edit: there's no more proof of Socrates as there is for Jesus either--Socrates never himself wrote anything either.....

  • dazed but not confused
    dazed but not confused

    Yes! Jesus exists outside of the bible. Just watch the video I posted on another thread...

  • RunAsFastAsYouCan

    Believe what you want dude. I could care less in the least. As long as you don't push it on my kids and trap them in a cult. It's cool. No biggie. I'm cool with the spiritual, or not. You don't have to believe anything i believe. You haven't walked in my shoes.

    You ladies can't prove or disprove anything. Neither can I. So what. I'm fine with the mystery. It's kind of like getting to peak behind the curtain when you die. I'm not paying anyone for my beliefs and i don't have to mark any silly time card. I get the benefits of a clean conscience and forgiveness. I get the benefits of grace. I pray. It helps me. I don't ask to move mountains but maybe some day i will.

    Right now i pray a lot for my kids. For the wisdom to help them stear clear of the vicious cult. Right now i pray a lot. Every day. For guidance and direction. I pray and thank the lord. You can say all your athiest shit that you want. I couldn't care less.

    I don't know. Go rent a fucking billboard and shout it from the mountain tops if you want. Whatever makes you happy.

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