Historical Jesus

“But surely there was an historical Jesus,
Who walked on the earth, and who died on a cross—
He might have been God, or he might be a prophet,
Whoever he was… what a horrible loss!”

Well, honestly, no. I have heard all the stories,
The claims that the evidence can’t be denied—
But the jury’s still out; there’s no verdict I’ll swear to,
I don’t know he lived, and much less, how he died.

But frankly, the question is really much simpler
Than if there’s a Jesus in whom I believe—
The purpose of Christ is irrelevant, really,
Unless there’s a literal Adam and Eve.

If Eden is only a fable or parable,
Not how the life on our planet begins,
If Adam and Eve are not literal people,
No Jesus is needed to die for our sins.

And here, there’s an answer; there wasn’t an Eden
There wasn’t an apple, there wasn’t The Fall
Original Sin is a fictional concept
So Jesus was never required at all.

So, go ahead—argue that Jesus existed;
Muster your evidence; make me aware—
His reason for being was falsely constructed,
So… “Was there a Jesus?” I really don’t care.

Our own Richard Carrier is featured in a CNN story on the debate over an historical Jesus. Oddly, NPR recently did a story on whether Adam and Eve actually existed. Seems its easier to get evangelicals to question this latter myth (at least according to NPR–CNN reports a survey of Protestant pastors that shows an overwhelming rejection of evolution).

I suspect that part of it is “sophisticated theology”. There is no requirement that your average church congregant actually know what he or she believes, whereas the pastors are expected to be able to answer a few questions about it. So, given the overwhelming evidence for evolution, even most believers accept its truth. They don’t stop to think that, without a literal fall from grace, there is no original sin for Jesus to atone for. No Eden, no need for Jesus. (I know, the whole idea of a god sacrificing himself to himself to account for a mistake he made thousands of years earlier makes no sense to begin with, but it’s not *my* mythology.)

Suddenly, maybe this whole thing is as silly as everybody else’s religion always seemed to be.


  1. Otrame says

    Nail on the head… Again.

    I am agnostic about the “real” Jesus, though I think those who say no have an argument. But I like to say I have no dog in that fight, because, while it is a very interesting historical question, it doesn’t actually matter to me, one way or the other.

  2. theophontes 777 says

    @ Cuttlefish

    Hehe, I love your poems. And you make an interesting point (at least for xtians).

    The original need to sacrifice of year/corn gods was not based on “original sin”, as it was a yearly (or even bi-yearly) event. The god is sacrificed to the new year but, importantly, also acts as a scapegoat. As scapegoat, he is first scourged in order to purify him. As a pure receptacle, he takes on the sins of the community (not “original” but recent sins) which die with him. He rises after a few days as the new year-god (either the victim is replaced or a substitute is killed).

    The argument from goddists is that the jews would know these rituals to be pagan and guard against them. This is rather a poor argument, as jeebus itself was beyond the pale by their lights, but also because they themselves had scapegoats (literally goats) and had earlier had human sacrifice (Isaac, DUH!) anyway.

    (Yes, I have been arguing with liars-for-jeebus lately. It is easter after all.)

  3. theophontes 777 says

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Hey! ‘Tis I, theophontes.

    (My nym hasn’t really changed. I just added 777 at the end. And see also the little pic of me smiting the chimera, on the right.)

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Sarah, that’s what comments are for–I’m sure you’ll be correcting me any time now.

  5. theophontes 777 says

    @ Sarah

    Man you’re an idiot. Can’t even get your facts straight.

    FTB now has a site for godbots who want to club together and make their case. Linky here. Don’t be belligerently bothering our bard. I have negotiated a thread dedicated to your ilk. You are given carte blanche to prove your points. (If you can.)

  6. grumpyoldfart says

    But surely there was an historical Jesus,
    Who walked on the earth, and who died on a cross—

    I could accept an historical Jesus who walked on the earth, but the devil-dodgers are saying that he walked on the water!

    Sounds a but suss to me.

  7. rikitiki says

    Well, of course Jesus existed…

    …just like those who had all the same
    attributes (virgin birth, sacrificed, died,
    rose from the dead, etc.). That would be
    Dionysis, Mithras, Tammuz, Horus/Osiris,
    and about 10-15 or so more I cannot now

  8. says

    Good post Cuttlefish. You were spot on with the lack of a need for Jesus. If only the moderately religious would take a moment to think on that…

    It really is sad (and angering) that we have to continuously have the whole evolution debate. On the plus side, I should try to encourage any children I may decide to have to enjoy science, it appears as though there may not be as much job competition for them in the future…It frustrates me a great deal to realize that it is the next generation who will be woefully unprepared for life in this century if the fundies have their way.

  9. theophontes 777 says

    Jesus wasn’t the Messiah, it was some other guy with the same name.

    Not far off the mark. Mohammad (inspired by Gabriel so it must be true) claimed that jeebus was not crucified, but had a stand in replace him on the cross.

    Now a christian researcher has indicated we cannot even be sure that there was a cross involved at all. Jokes about jeebus-on-a-stick may prove to be closer to the goddist literature. Link to more.

  10. carpenterman says

    Ah, Cuttlefish, nice ‘Life of Brian’ quote! My favorite Monty Python movie.
    Actually, it shouldn’t even matter if Jesus ever really existed. You can be a good Christian (or just a good person) by simply obeying his instructions: be kind. Be peaceful. Be generous to the poor. Good advice from anyone, really.
    Here’s another quote (five points to anyone who can identify the source): “Perhaps it does not matter if he never returns. Perhaps the words are more important than the man.”

  11. carpenterman says

    Oh, fine. You got it. But a true geek would not have needed Google. You’re probably one of those poor, misguided people who waste their time on things like careers and families and education.
    Seriously, though; the minutiae available on-line never ceases to astonish me.

  12. Clare says

    I have to admit that it had never occurred to me that accepting evolution negates the old sacrificing yourself to yourself thingie for original sin.

    Sometimes it amazes me that after all this time away from religion, the ideas are still so deeply embedded in my brain that I don’t see the obvious contradictions until they are pointed out to me. And this one’s a doozy.

    Thank you.

  13. savoy47 says

    “I know, the whole idea of a god sacrificing himself to himself to account for a mistake he made thousands of years earlier makes no sense to begin with.

    The whole thing would sell better if they said that: god came down and allowed himself to be tortured and crucified by the Jews and Romans to atone for his OWN genocidal atrocities. Sorry guys, my bad, but look I brought this new testament for ya! Now, can’t we all just get along?

  14. echidna says

    Amusingly enough, Ken Ham makes exactly this argument, that original sin depends on a literal Adam and Eve, to bolster his position that evolution is false.

    His axiom is simply that if there is a conflict between his religion and science, that his religion takes priority. That’s the bit he gets wrong.

    Sarah@3, at least tell us what error was made before you call our bard an idiot – otherwise the term applies more aptly to you. I noticed you did not follow up Theophontes invitation to the other thread.

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