Sunday, March 25, 2018

Doubts You Don't Have to Have

For most of 30 years I only went to church at Christmas & Easter...when forced to by family. I wasn’t sure how to describe my faith, but believer is not the word I would have used. Now I think calling people atheists & christian or believer & unbeliever is too black & white. I think most of us live in the gray, messy middle between 100% faith & 100% doubt. Now I define faith as belief in spite of doubt rather than the absence of doubt. What changed it all for me was reading a book that addressed a lot of doubts. Now I know some doubts are just due to not having enough information.

Jesus was a myth.
Non-christian historians Josephus & Tacitus writing in the 1st century verify Jesus executed by crucifixion on the order of Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. Many other historical references too, so that Jesus lived & died is not in doubt.
Resurrection is a borrowed myth.
In older myths no god dies for mankind’s sins & rises on the 3rd day as proof of divinity. Christianity couldn’t borrow from later myths.
Resurrection is a legend that developed hundreds of years later.
Crucifixion occurs ~30-33 AD.  April 5, 30 or April 1, 33 AD from lunar cycles & dates Pontius Pilate in power.1
1 Cor. 15:3-7 contains early oral creed listing appearances.
Circulates around 35-39 AD when Paul meets Peter & James Brother of Jesus in Jerusalem.
Jesus was just a good rabbi.
In the Gospels Jesus often called himself the Son of Man.
Dn 7:14 refers to the Messiah as the Son of Man.
No one else uses this term anywhere else in the New Testament.
In Mk 14:61-64, Jesus uses Son of Man coming on the clouds & sitting with God. The high priest tears his clothes & calls it blasphemy.
They looked in wrong tomb.
The Talmud says Sanhedrin didn’t argue the body was in another tomb. They said disciples stole it.
Disciples stole the body & lied about Jesus’ resurrection.
Liars make poor martyrs.
Deaths show they weren’t lying:
  • Stephen stoned in Acts 7 shows danger early on before Saul’s conversion to Paul & Christianity.
  • James Brother of John beheaded by order of Herod Agrippa in Acts 12. No later than 44 AD when Herod Agrippa dies.
  • Tacitus reports Nero’s persecution of christians after Rome burns in early 60’s AD.
  • Paul beheaded in Nero’s persecutions according to Eusebius around mid-60’s.
  • Peter also executed in Nero’s persecutions according to Clement of Rome, Tertullian & Origen.
  • James Brother of Jesus stoned in Jerusalem by order of Sanhedrin council according to Josephus around 62 AD.
Why would skeptics like Paul & James Brother of Jesus lie just to die? Most of us would lie to avoid dying!
Appearances due to hypnosis or hallucinations.
Explanations don’t work for the large group appearances.
Only some are susceptible to hypnosis in a large group.
Like dreams, people don’t share hallucinations. Each sees something different.
Jesus passed out on the cross & revived in the tomb.
Crucifixion is slow death by asphyxia.2
Passing out on the cross is like passing out underwater.
Death occurs within minutes.
Jesus at least 'passes out' first.
Later guards break the legs of the other 2 to speed up suffocation, so the bodies can be buried before sundown to avoid work on the sabbath.

Guards died by crucifixion if victim survived.

  1. Colin J. Humphreys & W. G. Waddington, “Dating the Crucifixion”, Nature 306, 743-746, 1983. Note dates of 4/7/30 and 4/3/33 in the paper are Julian calendar dates rather than the modern Gregorian dates listed here.
  2. William D. Edwards; Wesley J. Gabel; Floyd E. Hosmer, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ”, JAMA, 255, 1455-1463, 1986.

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