Don’t believe every Jesus conspiracy you read

Okay, I need to nip this in the bud. We’ve gotten a flood of email in the last 24 hours telling us we should check out this thing.

I’m inclined to conclude that it’s rubbish. Joseph Atwill has been peddling his Jesus conspiracy theories for years. He is not a historian, he doesn’t have any credibility on the subject. I’m not inclined to believe his “discovery” of a “confession” by Romans who invented Jesus, and even if it were verified to be real, I wouldn’t be inclined to assume they were telling truth either.

I’m not a historian myself so I don’t have the ability to thoroughly evaluate this information. But here’s a guy claiming to have a made a new discovery of significant academic importance, yet he won’t just release it to other scholars and the public. Instead, you must buy tickets to attend a lecture at which he will reveal his secret information in a week and a half. Scholarship does not work like that. You don’t reveal new information in a lecture and then let other scholars pore over it. You get it reviewed, verified, and debated first, and after it’s accepted by a significant number of credible reviewers, THEN you reveal it in a lecture. Jumping the gun like this is just pulling the equivalent of the cold fusion fiasco, and in this case it’s clearly a stunt to bring in some money.

Bother us about this stuff again after Atwill has finished his lecture and other mainstream historians have reviewed his work. Until then, don’t be gullible.

Added: Martin would also like you to read this review of Atwill’s work by Robert Price.

Update 2: Richard Carrier weighs in with much more detail; calls Atwill a crank.

“AS” strikes again

The 16-year-old who wrote to us with many proofs of god, featured a few posts below, has replied via e-mail. I wanted to share the reply, and my response, interspersed below:

well, to reply to you very first paragraph, lol.. does George washington exist? well, you know he does in fact exist because of documents, and history books. You know, he said MANY quotes, JUST like Jesus did.

No, it’s not “just like Jesus,” because Jesus never wrote anything himself that we know of. We have no autographs. And we have no records of Jesus supplied to us by reliable eye-witness, contemporary authors. So, it’s not “just like” what we have for Jesus when it comes to George Washington. The mountain of records available for the existence of George Washington, and the specific records by contemporary peer sources for his actions during his lifetime, and his personal correspondences, make George a historic person, where Jesus becomes more myth than man. And when we’re given events that sound even a bit “iffy” about George, we don’t accept them as accurate. So “he never told a lie” is discarded as myth. And with Jesus, so many of the claims about his life are outlandish, far beyond “he never told a lie,” that we have to reject quite a lot of what is recorded about him by even the second-hand sources. So, it’s not comparable at all.

how can you believe one side of history, like George washington, when you don’t believe in the history side about Jesus, doesn’t make sense AT ALL.

Because I already explained that history rests on evidence available—realizing that what we claim to “know” must be supported by what we can actually reasonably support. With Jesus, again, not one reliable contemporary eye-witness account. That means what we have are stories about stories. That’s not the best to work with in trying to piece together facts. The “historic” Jesus that is put forward by historians is nothing like the Jesus recorded in the Bible. I am willing to accept that there may have been a rabbi upon whom these myths were based, since this is expert opinion. I never said I think Jesus never existed. But I reject the miracle claims (as do serious historians), the same way I would reject them about Washington—or about Homer’s claims as I explained already earlier. I accept “Jesus” historically, with all the same requirements I apply to claims of all other historic persons.

expert? lol, who’s to determine an expert?? we could all be dummies here on the Earth. While some are smarter than others, I don’t think that term was correct, noone is completly 100% an expert on things, if they were we’d all have the answers.

If my sink breaks, I don’t call a heart surgeon. Would you? There are men and women who have devoted their lives to the study of specific areas of history. It has nothing to do with being smarter. It’s about them having access to the best evidence and information available—that the rest of us will likely never see. And also the fact they’ve studied these areas of history to a far greater extent than the lay population. That makes them better qualified to comment on the issue than you or I.

To claim nobody is any more expert in a historic opinion than anyone else is not reasonable. And to claim, then, that we can’t accept anyone’s explanations, even the most educated people in the field of history—as being “the most” trustworthy—undermines your own views as much as anyone else’s: If you can’t trust anyone—why trust the people who wrote and produced your Bible and told you it was about a god? If we have to put our trust in anyone—why would anyone assert it wouldn’t be the people who are best informed in any given area of study? Again, if you’re going to say that your beliefs don’t have to stack up to evidence or expert opinions, then why are we even talking about this? What is your method of determining if your beliefs are likely to be true or not, if you reject evidence and expert explanations of that evidence? What do you trust in that case, and why do you trust it?

And who said you have to know anything 100 percent? I’m saying that if you care whether or not your beliefs are likely to be true—then you will align your beliefs to the best evidence available and the most educated explanations of that evidence.

Example: I come home from work tonight, and my house is a shambles inside. My television and computer are gone and a window has been forced open, do you think it is more reasonable to assert that I have been robbed or that I have been violated by a poltergeist? It’s hard to accept that you seriously believe that evidence should have no bearing on our beliefs, or that some beliefs are more or less likely to align with the available evidence. What you’re claiming is that if we can’t “know” a robbery has occurred, then saying it’s a poltergeist makes just as much sense. And I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievable it is to hear someone say that. I hope you’re more reasonable in other areas of your life than you are in your religious beliefs—otherwise, you’re a con man’s dream come true—since you have no apparent method of telling fact from fiction, evidence and reason have no value in your worldview, and you’ll believe outlandish things based on stories.

And about the tower of Babel, NO they clearly were trying to get away from the flood, as well, as get to God.

No, they weren’t “clearly” trying to get away from a flood. You are simply wrong. Here is the entire script of the story of the tower. Where do you see any mention of any flood concerns from anyone?

Genesis 11
1And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Of course NONE of this matters if you don’t believe in God.

Uh, your subject line, just to remind you, is “AE Show – Proofs of God”—what good are proofs of the existence of god which are only convincing to people who already believe god exists? If your proofs of god don’t demonstrate a god exists to people who don’t believe god exists already, why exactly did you contact unbelievers to present these “proofs”?

My advise is, as BEST as I can give it, is that if you TRULY want to know if God, exist you WILL ask Him, to prove Himself to you,

And if you truly want to know if atoms exist, you will ask them to prove themselves to you. Do you approach other things in your life this way? When you want to know if a thing is real—you ask the thing? You don’t verify it against evidence and reality? You just “ask it’? This is NOT how we determine if things exist. This is not how to tell fact from fiction. This is not the process we use if we care whether or not our beliefs are likely to be true. Existence is manifestation in some measureable way. That’s what it means to “exist.” If your god exists, then it should not be difficult to demonstrate that. If there is nothing there to measure—then in what way is your god different than nothing? Did you read the Carl Sagan essay “Dragon in my Garage” that I linked you to? If not, I assure you it’s very short, but very useful in explaining why we don’t go around asserting things exist if we can’t actually tell them apart from nothing. It’s also the lesson of the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” in case you just don’t have time to read the Sagan essay.

If your god answers you when you ask him for things—as you’re telling me that if I need proof I can just ask—why don’t you pray and ask him for a proof that actually convinces nonbelievers? If he exists, you’ll get it, right? If he truly wished his adherents to seek and save the lost—that is, the unbelievers—why did he only supply you, this round, with reasons that you say only convince those who already believe?

 I can sit here and give you everything I know,

You just told me you can’t know everything, and that, therefore, “we could all be dummies here on the Earth.” So, why should I believe that you “know” any of these things you’re asserting? Why should I believe the people who told you these things “know” anything? What I know, is that you can’t claim to “know” what you have not verified and what you have not demonstrated to be true. When you admit you have nothing convincing to offer for why you believe what you believe, it’s ridiculous to immediately turn around and call it “knowledge.”

and every word in the Bible,

It’s like I’m sending letters into a void. Did you read what I wrote when you claimed your Bible was perfect and that even the strongest scrutiny hadn’t shown any errors? I sent you Bible translators’ notes, right out of the Bible, telling you there is forged material in your Bible. Why then would you use the Bible in your next letter without addressing how it’s reliable in light of the fact that it’s been edited with inserted passages? Why do you trust its content? I believe the Bible scholars, you don’t. So, I’m asking you, who do you believe, because you believe it’s perfect. Since that’s not the expert view, who has told you this, and why do you accept that as true above actual Bible scholars?

but it won’t mean 1 thing if you don’t see God for who He is.

And here I am again. Ironically, a Muslim once used this exact argument with me. He told me that if I read the Koran, it would convince me Allah is real. I told him I would get it from the library and read it. In his reply to that, he wrote that it would only be convincing if I read it believing it was written by Allah. I hope that sounds silly to you. And I hope you can understand why changing out “Bible” for “Koran” and “Jesus” for “Allah” makes it no less ridiculous.