Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


No Unbiased Evidence for Jesus Existence

No information about Jesus  has come down except from his propagandists.
 
SILENCE SPEAKS OF THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS
 
The gospels say that there was a man called Jesus Christ a wonder-worker who was idolised by the whole country of Palestine for a time. If that is true, it is impossible to see how a prolific writer, an addict to writer’s cramp, like Philo Judaeus of Alexandria who entered this world in 15 BC and died long after the alleged crucifixion, could have not mentioned him or even the gospels meaning that they must have been secret.
 
What makes it worse is that Philo was a liberal Jews who liked to write about sects. He wrote about the Essenes who were fanatics (Jesus – One Hundred Years Before Christ, page 106, 169) and then only of the Palestine ones (ibid 168).
 
What is worse for the Christians is the fact that John’s gospel portrays Jesus as the Word of God or the Logos the one who is sent from God to man to reveal God to man and the Logos was one of Philo’s great themes and he wrote about it without even mentioning Jesus the so-called Logos. Philo’s writings have been described as a happy hunting ground for anybody who wants to know all about the Logos (page 244, Those Incredible Christians).
 
Philo worshipped the Word which is the only Son of God (The Jesus Mysteries, page 183). It is unthinkable that he would do that and not say something about Jesus who according to the John Gospel claimed to be the word of God in case his words would lead to Christianity gaining an influence over his readers.
 
Philo wrote about history as well as religion (page 136, The Jesus Mysteries). That was why he wrote a lot about Pilate (page 136 ibid). He was not averse to criticising religion for he condemned the Pagan Mysteries (page 66, The Jesus Mysteries). It is simply not true that his dislike for fanaticism and rebels may be the reason why he never spoke of the Messiah Jesus. That reason would mean that Jesus was a fanatic and a seditionist. Jesus - One Hundred Years before Christ (page 98) is wrong. There is no harm in just mentioning and not judging. Christianity, even in its gospels, was mostly teaching and philosophy anyway. The Essenes were not by any means as interesting as Christ and his Church and still he wrote as if the Christians never existed.

Justus of Tiberias produced a biography of King Herod and never mentioned Jesus. He composed a history book for Palestine that covered the days of Moses until after the death of Jesus (page 136, The Jesus Mysteries). His book is now lost but Photius of Constantinople read it roughly 900 years later and remarked on the conspicuous absence of anything on Jesus. Jesus was not even alluded to.

The pagan historian Suetonius published his The Lives of the Caesars in 120 AD. In Chapter 25, he recorded that some Jews had to be exiled from Rome for rioting under the instigation of a certain Chrestus. Chrestus was a popular name in Italy (The Jesus Mysteries, page 134). Christ means Messiah and the Jews could have argued about anybody if Christ was meant and not just Jesus for there were loads of Messiahs. And he blames this man Chrestus as if he were alive then and in Rome. Jesus however had been dead for years.

Pliny the Younger in 112 AD simply says that the Christians prayed to Christ as a God. It seems that that does not tell us if Jesus lived or not.

 

Pliny writes as if Jesus is a quasi-god not a real one.  That is interesting for in those times anything counted for a god and people cherry-picked what gods they wanted.  That could be a hint that this god was a problem for it was falsely claimed history said he was a good when it did not.  The other gods had no evidence for being real either but the difference was that there was no evidence that they were not real.  Jesus then may have been based on outright lies.

 

McDowell of course says that since Pliny mentioned Christians being martyred there must have been a Jesus. But lots of Christians have died for Jesus and did it without proof that Jesus lived. And what about the Christians Pliny said recanted? They could be used as evidence that maybe there was no Jesus for their belief in him was not strong. Pliny wrote that he did not know what the nature of the Christian faith was which answers those lunatics who claim that Roman priests like him had investigated Christianity. Showing what little influence the cult had the cult watcher and priest Plutarch never mentioned Christianity in any of his voluminous writings (Josh McDowell’s Evidence for Jesus: Is it reliable?). Obviously, Plutarch was so sure that the evidence for Christianity was feeble and ineffectual that it could not be a threat. Pliny said that he had to go to Trajan for any information he needed.
 
JP Holding dishonestly says that since Pliny says Christ was worshipped as a god that Pliny meant he was not a real god at all but just a man. He then says that it proves that Jesus existed! (Wells Without Water). A god is just a god and can be an angel or a natural force personified or a man or a myth. If I worship the goddess Venus as a goddess that does not mean I have evidence that a woman called Venus actually lived! Many would have said that though the Christians worshipped Jesus as God that they worshipped him as a god – its just the way people talk. Holding knows his argument is weak. From a pagan perspective, even if Jesus claimed to be God himself this God is just a God among many. Christians always said Jesus was a Jew and one major doctrine of that religion was that God does not become man. So Jesus believed that and he would not have wanted to be made a God. The Christians then making a God of him indicates that their testimony that Jesus lived is dubious for they distorted everything. There is no reason to think that Pliny thought that Jesus really was a God.
 
In the second century, Lucian of Samosata stated that Christ was put to death by crucifixion for introducing a new religion. This was about 170 AD in his book The Passing Peregrius. He stated that Jesus had created new rites and was crucified for that. He said that the followers of Jesus do not fear death for they think they are immortal for he told them that. And he said they take his laws on faith and hate worldly goods holding all things in common. Christians take this hostile testimony as valuable. But typically they do not take it as valuable when it says that Jesus was nailed to the cross for his rites and when he introduced communism both of which contradict the New Testament very seriously. The expression taking laws on faith implies that they had no time for evidence but only cared about what they wanted to believe. It adds weight to the possibility that Jesus never lived. It is interesting that they embrace death not because they are sure they will rise like Jesus did but because he told them death was not the end. He was more a prophet than a rising saviour.

Lucian complained that Christ’s followers abandoned the Greek gods and claimed to be brothers from the moment they were converted in his day to take Christ’s teaching on faith. So they treated one another as brothers in the physical sense. That is why James was called the brother of Jesus, it was the title he was given though he was not a physical brother. This is all important for it suggests that the Christians did not believe that they become brothers at baptism but at conversion and when he says they took all on faith he means they had no evidence for their ideas about Jesus. You don’t say somebody takes something on faith unless you mean that that faith is more an assumption than anything else. He fumes because of their departure from the Greek gods for whom there was no evidence but naïve philosophical assumptions and seeming answers to prayer so that gives you some idea of how bad he believed the evidence for Christ and his shenanigans was. Christians say that if Jesus never existed Lucian would have made that clear. But he thought their differences from paganism was refutation enough. He might have found it difficult to find out the truth about Jesus. That was a common enough problem in those days. Anyway he was writing only a short piece so why would he say Jesus’ never existed if he preferred to say other things?

In the British Museum is the letter of Mara-bar-Seraphion, a Syrian, which was written around or after 73 AD.

 

Here is the relevant bit: What are we to say, when the wise are dragged by force by the hands of tyrants, and their wisdom is deprived of its freedom by slander, and they are plundered for their superior intelligence, without the opportunity of making a defence?  They are not wholly to be pitied.  For what benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death, seeing that they received as retribution for it famine and pestilence?  Or the people of Samos by the burning of Pythagoras, seeing that in one hour the whole of their country was covered with sand?  Or the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them?  For with justice did God grant a recompense to the wisdom of all three of them.  For the Athenians died by famine; and the people of Samos were covered by the sea without remedy; and the Jews, brought to desolation and expelled from their kingdom, are driven away into every land.  Nay, Socrates did “not” die, because of Plato; nor yet Pythagoras, because of the statue of Hera; nor yet the Wise King, because of the new laws which he enacted.

 

Mara spoke of the death of Socrates, Pythagoras and the wise king of the Jews who was put to death by the Jews. This ancient record does not align with the gospels which say that Jesus was executed by Rome. It implies that Jesus was stoned to death which was how the Jews executed. But then the wise king might not be Jesus. There were other Messianic teachers who came to a bad end. Mara appears to have been a Stoic so he would not have approved of a Jesus who got angry so often and who ate well and liked wine like the gospel one.  A Jesus who heals would not be much of an exemplar for the Stoic whose core idea is to accept your lot.  He even said that Socrates and Pythagoras and the wise king did not die for good for they lived on in their teaching. This language excludes a resurrection. Socrates and Pythagoras who never rose are put on the same level as Jesus which is enough to show that Jesus never rose.

 

The traditions said the Jews lost their country over what they did to James not Jesus.  Hegasippus the Christian and a version of Josephus says that.  Mara could mean James was the king and if Jesus had royal blood James should have been king if James was his brother as tradition says.  Literal brother or not is an open question.
 
Mara said that it was just after the Jews killed the king that they lost their land and were driven out. Since he was writing soon after this disaster it implies that his wise king was killed in the late sixties AD. This suggests that there was a lot of confusion about this Jesus. The letter is not reliable because it falsely claims that Pythagoras was killed and he wasn’t. The wise king the Jews put to death gave them no advantage for their kingdom was left in ruins afterwards. This implies that it happened very soon after the king’s death for only if it followed quickly after the death could it be put down to the immorality of killing the king. So this king was put to death by the Jews in the late sixties AD. He would have got his information from Christians which shows that at the very least no two sects were telling the Jesus story the same way. That is an indication that Jesus never lived.   He wrote too late to be of any worth as evidence for Jesus.

 

Probably the best approach to the letter is to view it as being peppered with deliberate lies.  It contradicts facts and common knowledge for it to be anything else.  Nothing happened to Athens after Socrates died because of how he died. Pythagoras far from being incinerated in Samos left it and lived the good life.  Samos was not covered in sand and certainly not in an hour after the martyrdom of Pythagoras.   The fake news in it meant that the wise king may not have been a king but Ananias who is popularised in Josephus as being killed and thus starting off the ill fortune of Jerusalem.  Jesus did not accept pagan religion on any level so the wise king who is put on the religious level of Socrates and Pythagoras cannot be Jesus.  Some think that the king is the nebulous kingly figure, the teacher of righteousness, honoured by Essene lore. 

We have no way of knowing how old or real this letter really is which is why Gordon Stein rejects it as evidence for Jesus in his web page, The Jesus of History: A Reply to Josh McDowell.

Tacitus in 115 AD is supposed to have mentioned Jesus. All he wrote was that Christ suffered the extreme penalty in the time of Pilate and that it checked the pernicious superstition for a moment which broke out after in Israel and then in Rome. Many Christs were put to death. Why trust Tacitus dear Christians when he speaks of Christ and says Christ started superstition?   Why not believe that too? Why believe him when he wrote so long after the event? Why take him seriously when he didn’t say what kind of or quality of evidence he had? Historians sometimes have to depend on weak evidence.
 
The passage is nearly exactly the same as one in the work of a man called Sulpicius Severus who died in 403 AD. This man was known for his credulity and tall stories. He did not copy from Tacitus because nobody seemed to know of the Tacitus passage in those days. There is no evidence that they knew.  It appears then that the copyists copied the passage from Severus’s book into Tacitus. There is no evidence for the authenticity of the Tacitus text on Jesus (The Jesus of History, A Reply to Josh McDowell, Gordon Stein). If it is forged then it is proof that the Christians were manufacturing fabricated evidence for the existence of Jesus.
 
So we have no evidence from non-Christian writers that Jesus lived.