Metro State Atheists

Promoting Science, Reason, and Secular Values

An Example of Faith in Practice

One of the interesting quirks of faith-based religions is their tendency to encourage absurd behavior in substitute of useful. I suppose this is because once you think you have an answer, you stop looking for it; and if you end up being wrong, a faith-based approach solidifies and glorifies your error; no chance for correction is possible. From this disadvantaged point, the faithful will be left in the wake of the progress of those who continue seeking and discovering. The exception is when circumstances have allowed the faithful to be such a dragging obstruction to the progress of others that no wake may be had in the first place.

I was amused to find an artifact of this sort of behavior while aimlessly browsing the ‘net the other day. I discovered a group collecting people against something called the Freedom of Choice Act, or FOCA. The group had succeeded in collecting 42,716 members, last I checked. The purpose of the group is to issue a message instructing its members to do the following:

“. . .We must stop this horrific act before it becomes a law.

The Plan :

To say a novena (9 days of prayer) along with fasting

starting on January 11th. For Catholics, the prayer of choice will be the rosary with intentions to stop the FOCA. For all other Christians, we I encourage you to pray your strongest prayers with the same intentions, also for nine consecutive days. The hope is that this will branch and

blossom as to become a global effort with maximum impact. We have very little time so we all must act fast. Just do three things:

1) In less than three days: invite all your friends to this group. (espescially those that you know are Christian)

2) Start the novena on January 11th and pray for nine

consecutive days.

(please also fast for at least two days during the novena). . .”

This clever plan brings to mind an image of an advancing army whose members periodically drop off from the ranks to bury their heads in the sand; from which location they might strategically avoid seeing the enemy’s approach. The advantage that their rational enemy has is the knowledge that it’s not actually useful to speak to oneself and frivolously skip meals while fighting a battle.

-Weston

************************************************
(Full message: )
“If you are opposed to abortion then there is bad news on the horizon. For those of you who do not know, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is set to be signed if congress passes it on January 21-22 of 2009. The
FOCA is the next sick chapter in the book of abortion. If made a law then all limitations on abortion will be lifted which will result in the following:

1) All hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, will be
required to perform abortions upon request. If this happens Bishops vow to close down all Catholic hospitals, more then 30% of all hospitals in the United States.

2) Partial birth abortions would be legal and have no
limitations.

3) All U.S. tax payers would be funding abortions.

4) Parental notification will no longer be required.

5) The number of abortions will increase by a minimum of
100,000 annually. This is an estimation.

Needless to say this information is disturbing, but sadly
true. As Catholics, as Christians, as anyone who is against the needless killing of innocent children, we must stand as one. We must stop this horrific act before it becomes a law.

The Plan :

To say a novena (9 days of prayer) along with fasting
starting on January 11th. For Catholics, the prayer of choice will be the rosary with intentions to stop the FOCA. For all other Christians, we I encourage you to pray your strongest prayers with the same intentions, also for nine consecutive days. The hope is that this will branch and
blossom as to become a global effort with maximum impact. We have very little time so we all must act fast. Just do three things:

1) In less than three days: invite all your friends to this group. (espescially those that you know are Christian)

2) Start the novena on January 11th and pray for nine
consecutive days.

(please also fast for at least two days during the novena)

Remember that with God all things are possible and the
power of prayer is undeniable. If you are against the senseless killing of defenseless children then the time is now to do something about it!”

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January 30, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Center For Inquiry, Christianity, creationism, Epistemology, god, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Metro State Atheists, religion, science, The Holy Bible | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“The Jesus Fraud” Blog Series-Con Argument #1 (Flavius Josephus)

The writings of Falvius Josephus have been touted by Christians and some non-Christians alike as being indisputable evidence that the Jesus of the New Testament, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, was a historical figure that actually existed.  The evidence for this view has be stated in a previous blog.  In this blog, I will critically examine this claim and show that not only is it not sufficient evidence to show that Jesus of Nazareth really existed but the evidence for the claim has been cherry picked and greatly flawed and thus isn’t all evidence for the existence of the historical, real Jesus of Nazareth.  The sentence that is cited as evidence is “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” (Source:http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/josephus/ant20.html#EndNote_ANT_20.24b).  I was astonished by this, until I found the sentence in the paragraph in question.  In order to make an objective test, let us examine the paragraph in full, not it part, as the proponents have done.

“1. AND now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, (23) who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. (24) Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”(Source: The Antiquities of the Jews, CH20, Paragraph 9:1)

One should take notice of something quite striking; the bolded text above doesn’t say “Jesus of Nazareth”.  It says “Jesus, the son of Damneus”.  Strictly deriving from context, there is nothing inconsistent in asserting that the James mentioned in the line in question, which is italicized and underlined in the text above, is the bother of the Jesus mentioned in the bolded line.  Context dictates this since they are not separated explicitly (ie Josephus didn’t say that Jesus, the son of Damneus is not the same as Jesus brother of James who they called Christ).  Also, there exists no break in the story such that anyone could assert they are different people in the context.  It is quite common for writers to be general about the mention of a name, in this case of Jesus in the italicized and underlined line, and then when the story begins to center around that aforementioned character, to be far more specific about the character, as in the bolded line.  Furthermore, Christ is Greek  means nothing more than “the anointed one”.  Literally, this means that one would be blessed with or covered in [holy] oil. (Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_anointing_oil, Greek meaning of Christ)  It wouldn’t be out of the question, as far I know, that a “high priest” such as “Jesus, the son Damneus” was, would be called a Christ, an anointed one.  So from this line of reasoning, we have a different Jesus than the one of bible who is contemporary of Josephus who not only could very well had a brother named James.

However, this could also be where the Gospel writers got their Jesus of Nazareth who had a brother named James.  This proposition isn’t all all out of the realm of possibility in the slightest, for several reasons.

  • Around the time Josephus was writing, it has been well established that there was rampant Jewish Messiahism among some groups of Jews in modern-day Israel.
  • Although the earliest possible date for the first Gospel, of what would become the New Testament, is 70ad; the earliest, physical, dated Gospel of Mark dates, approximately, to around the year 90ad.  This would give ample time to the author of the Gospel of Mark to construct his Jesus character based on the high priest, Jesus, the son of Damneus.  The author of Mark obviously would have embellished the story, which is also not out of the question.  Further, as the above point indicates certain groups were actually looking for the Messiah and thus had a bias towards those who appeared to have the features of the Messiah.
  • The name of Jesus was quite common in the first century, and even before.  This can be demonstrated by the fact that there exists an apocryphal Old Testament book called “Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach” which is considered part of the “Deuterocanon”. (Source: Early Jewish Writings)  Although this writing isn’t in the canonized bible, Jewish or Christian, it does show that the name Jesus wasn’t a particularly unique name in the biblical scheme of things.

However, let us take an aside and begin by assuming that this passage does refer to Jesus Christ.  What does this mean exactly?  Suspending what has previously been said in this work and simply starting with the assumption that the passage does, in fact, specifically refer to Jesus Christ of Nazareth of the New Testament tradition, we can better understand the positive implications promoted by believers, namely, that this passage is definitive evidence Jesus Christ of Nazareth of the New Testament tradition was a real historical figure.  The problem with this idea is that it is not “definitive” evidence.  Such a claim is vast overstatement.  This is due to the fact that one cannot assert the following isn’t a real possibility: Josephus may very well have been writing about a healer, seer and “moral teacher” being talked about and believed in at the time her wrote the passage above.  Problem is we have the first Gospel, Mark, being written about the same time, nearly 40 years after the supposed death of Jesus Christ, in the year 70ad (as said before this is earliest date scholars can agree upon based solely on context and the fact they are disregarding the notion that Mark was writing prophecy; how could he since he was writing history?  Furthermore, how reliable is a 40 year old, unverified story about a traveling preacher, of which there were many for a good part of the first century. (Source: Michael Shermer, from his appearance on Penn & Teller: Bullshit)).  If this is the case, then, like the first paragraph of the first book of the Antiquities of the Jews (discussed later in this paragraph in more detail), Josephus could simply be writing the story down as if it really happened when he had no way of knowing whether or not it really did or not.  This doesn’t say much for Josephus’ credibility which, as far as I know, has gone unchallenged.  Although it is true that Josephus was a fairly accurate and reliable historian, it should be pointed out that in the first paragraph of the first book of the Antiquities of the Jews that Josephus copies, nearly verbatim, the first chapter of the book of Genesis of the Torah (and/or Old Testament).  This is no surprising given that Josephus was a devote Jew.  However, the Genesis is not in anyway history.  At best it’s mythology.  It should be further pointed out that if the passage in question is authentic and speaking about Jesus Christ of Nazareth as spoken about in the New Testament, it is the only one from the First Century.  All other “historical” references to the figure, known as Jesus Christ, come to us much later, the earliest of these being the beginning of the second century, coming only with more Gospels which were mostly copies of the Gospel of Mark, with minor changes and embellishments.

Further, if the both the passage of Josephus is authentic and the Gospel tradition are to be reliable (which they are most certainly not, given the historical inaccuracies in them, which will discussed more detail in the next blog)  then, Jesus (according to the aforementioned tradition) would have caused quite a stir in then Roman province of Judea; claiming to be or having it claimed of him that he was the King of the Jews (direct challenge of Roman authority which wasn’t tolerated), claiming to be or having it claimed of him to be the Son of (the Living) God (same issue as the last), and causing a social disturbance in the Temple (which the Romans watched closely as to be able to quell any uprising or rebellion of any kind, no matter how small).  Also, Josephus leaves a majority of the story out, suggesting that it wasn’t a large or important movement of the day, given that, as mentioned before, there were many such “messiahs” walking the Earth in the first century.  However, assuming it was a big deal and Jesus was a real threat to Roman authority, there were a great many Roman historians who had a opportunity to write about him (and the fact that the Romans prevailed by killing him).  The Roman historians had every reason to write about him, insofar as they were able to defeat him and his “movement”, which it should mentioned constituted of, at minimum, 12 other men, 11 excluding Judas later in the story, and about 2 women, Mary his mother and Mary Magdalene.  So, this “world-changing-messianic” movement, had at most a total 14 people (not including Jesus himself).  This wouldn’t have been  much of a threat and one Roman historians would have been very inclined to record since the Governor of Judea, a member of the overall Roman governance system, was successful in stopping him and his “movement”.  Yet, to date, not a single document, produced by these many Roman historians of the day, has been provided to me or anyone else in the study of this issue, that mentions Jesus Christ of Nazareth of the New Testament tradition.

Thus, from the evidence and analysis given above, it is not likely that Josephus was writing about Jesus Christ of Nazareth of the New Testament tradition.  Also, even if it was truly authentic, it is not clear that it wasn’t written in a contrived way (just hearsay, as what he wrote in book 1, paragraph 1) or that it is terribly important given he is the ONLY source, outside of the Gospel stories, to “prove” Jesus Christ existed.  The bar I have set for the evidence that would definitively prove  the existence of Jesus is no higher than it is to prove that other ancient figures existed.  For example, for Alexander the Great, we have many  records of him that are not Greek or Egyptian in origin, which lends a great deal of credibility to the claim that Alexander the Great existed; this is of course aside from the monuments that bore his name and the military victories he oversaw and orchestrated.  Further, if this one reference by Josephus is not speaking of Jesus Christ of Nazareth of the New Testament tradition, then the one solitary piece of evidence outside the Gospels that he existed is no longer valid and it further unlikely that the Jesus Christ of Nazareth of the New Testament tradition never existed at all.

Joel Guttormson

President

Metro State Atheists

Sources are listed inline with the material or linked inline.

January 19, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Center For Inquiry, Christianity, creationism, First Century, god, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, New Testament, News, Old Testament, philosophy, Politics, Pseudoscience, religion, Rome, science, The Holy Bible | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

“The Jesus Fraud” Blog Series-Pro Argument #1 (Flavius Josephus)

Please read “The Jesus Fraud” Blog Series before reading this

The first “pro” argument for the existence of Jesus Christ that will be discussed in this series is the writings of Flavius Josephus.  I will presented the argument by using quotes from those who support the claim, which is, that Flavius Josephus clearly and definitively refers to Jesus as a historical figure in the Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20 Paragraph 9.

From krissmith777: “there is the second mention of Jesus made by Josephus. You can argue that this is a forgery as well, but that argument falls when a word study is done on the passage.” (here is referring to the claim above)

krissmith777: “The second mention of Jesus made by Josephus is believed almost universally to be authentic and written by Josephus himself.”

krissmith777: “It’s in the 20th book of the Antiquities of the Jews in the ninth chapter. Depending on which system you prefer to cite Josephus you’d find it in “Antiquities of the Jews 20: 9, 1″ which is entire paragraph system.”

The argument is that since this passage is authentic, written by Josephus himself, and he mentions Jesus in passing along with his brother James, then this implies and proves Jesus Christ was a historical figure and existed.

Please let me know if there is anything wrong with this presentation of the Flavius Josehpus argument.  I will not accept anything about the Testimonium Flavium as krissmith777 said “Personally I would not appeal to the Testimonium Flavianum to show that Jesus existed” because we have agreed that it is most likely an interpolation and thus not written by Flavius Josephus himself and, consequently, not evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ.

Proponents will have one week to suggest corrections.  If you disagree with this argument, please hold your comments.

The Con Argument is here.

Joel

President

Metro State Atheists

January 12, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Center For Inquiry, Christianity, creationism, First Century, god, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Metro State Atheists, New Testament, philosophy, Pseudoscience, religion, Rome, The Holy Bible, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Joel’s Commentary on appearance on Bob Enyart Live 1/7/09

Introduction

As many of you know, I was a guest on the KGOV program, Bob Enyart Live.  Bob is the pastor at Denver Bible Church and host of the show bearing his name.  If you missed the show you can listen to it here.  Since the show is only half an hour, there were things I didn’t get to explain or talk about in the detail I would have liked.  Further, since Bob is the host, he is obviously going to control the speaking time and thus I was left with less than he had, further added to the lack of time I had to explain and expand on my points.  However, this is not way a swipe at Bob or the way he conducts the show, it’s the way it is with any radio show regardless of topic.  The topics I wanted to address are: the discussion towards the end relating to my statement that design and beauty are subjective, that “Bob and Joel agreed that Christians do not assert that God came into existence with the writing of the Bible. Thus inconsistencies, even if they were shown to exist in Scripture, would not disprove God’s existence.”(Source: http://www.kgov.com), and that “being a person has more to do with the non-physical realm of ideas, logic, relationships, and reason, than it does with chemistry and physics.” (Source: http://www.kgov.com).  I was going to tackle the Einstein quotation, but a comment left on a previous blog addresses the topic/point well enough that I don’t not feel that further elaboration is necessary.

1. Beauty and Design are subjective

“The eye may be useful, and apparently well adapted for vision, however it could also serve as a moderately good tetherball for some appropriately sized people or sophisticated mice.”

As previously stated, this discussion occurred toward the end of the show and left neither I nor Bob the sufficient amount of time necessary to address each other’s point to the extent they deserved.  In an effort to state this correctly I will quote directly, both myself and Bob.  Bob begins by claiming “there is a universe of extraordinary beauty and sophistication and obvious design”.  To which I responded “…everything you just said, design and beauty, those are subjective claims”, to which Bob said “design is not subjective”.  Here is where the discussion prematurely ended due to time constraints.  Thus, this is where I’d like to begin my expansion of my claims and a refutation of Bob’s.

Bob and I agreed that beauty is subjective but disagreed with me about my assertion that design is.  When it comes to object of human manufacture, this is true.  However, to reverse the ‘watchmaker’ example, suppose one does in fact come upon a watch.  One who is ignorant of clocks and watches and possibly the idea of time itself may derive a alternative idea of what the device, that we call a watch, is designed for.  This may be stretching a bit, given we must assume the person finding the watch is more or less an idiot.  Therefore, let us examine my claim only using examples to drive the point home.  When I say design is subjective, I obviously do not mean it literally.  What I mean when I say that is observations of some structure or object cannot lead one to infer design automatically or because something “looks complicated”, which is what Bob and most creationists mean when they say something is designed.  Further, if design isn’t subjective then creationists should stop using the term as in the following sentence: “the eye looks designed”.  The word “looks” has a contextual sense of subjectivity; its a word that, used in this context, implies that the viewer/speaker is offering his/her opinion of the observation, not stating a fact of any kind.  However, one need not include the work “looks” in the statement;  such is the case with Bob’s statement “there is a universe of extraordinary beauty and sophistication and obvious design”.  He means design in the way I described above.  This is, in fact, a subjective use of the word design.  Bob used the eye example, like most creationists do.  He says that the eye is designed for vision.  That’s a subjective claim, because evolution wasn’t trying for an eye that has vision, per say.  Vision is an incidental by product of the arrangement of the different “parts” of the eye working together.  I will now attempt to drive home my point using my own example.  Let us suppose we have an ordinary hammer.  There are those that would say that a hammer is “designed” to drive nails into wood, or some other equally pliable material.  Now, suppose further that we happen to find this same hammer used as an axle for a toy truck.  Now, although the hammer works as an axle for the toy truck, it wasn’t designed for this purpose; or was it?  The fact that it works as the axle for the toy truck might be used as evidence that the hammer was, in fact, designed for this purpose.  However, this assumption is baseless and is flawed because it is fraught with the bias of seeing it work this way in this particular, specialized instance.  To bring this back to the famous eye example brought up by Bob; the eye may be useful, and apparently well adapted for vision, however it could also serve as a moderately good tether ball for some appropriately sized people or sophisticated mice.  So, to wrap up my point.  The appearance of design can be and is, most of the time, quite deceiving.  This is precisely because the human brain is wired such that it seeks out patterns and logically systems in things that may not have them at all, such as clouds.  Therefore, it will also seek out a “reason” for something being the way it is; its design.

2. Biblical/Scriptural inconsistencies do not disprove God’s existence

“God is then, at best, reduced to a highly intelligent extraterrestrial capable of creating life on a planet and futilely attempting to affect that life by writing a book.”

This, on the surface, appears to be true.  In fact, on some level it is.  This is useful for getting out of the circular logic of “God wrote the bible, the bible asserts that God exists, therefore God exists”; for if God didn’t write the bible, then what it says about God’s existence is irrelevant to some degree  and since it’s the not the foundation of the argument for his existence, one has broken free of the circle.  However, Bob asserts that the bible is “the infallible word of the living God”.  Starting with this premise, the following are also true (written in order of implication): God exists, God is perfect and thus infallible, God wrote the bible, the bible then is perfect and infallible as a prefect being cannot beget imperfection.  Therefore, any imperfection, however slight, would ,at minimum, call God’s perfection into question.  But, following the implications of this, we see that the following would then be true if any imperfection were discovered in the bible: God exists, God isn’t perfect or infallible, God wrote the bible, the bible isn’t perfect or infallible.  Thus, we’re left with an imperfect, fallible God.  What good is this?  God is then, at best, reduced to a highly intelligent extraterrestrial capable of creating life on a planet and futilely attempting to affect that life by writing a book.  In other words, God would be a super intelligent cosmic mad scientist bent on power, self satisfaction and the cessation of boredom.  Of course, this doesn’t disprove God exists but it sure lends quite a bit of doubt.  In fact, it creates enough doubt to make it more reasonable not to believe in such a deity.  (Notice that this line of reasoning can be applied to all three monotheisms, not just Christianity.)

3. Being a person has more to do with the non-physical realm…than it does with chemistry and physics

“Then with this 60% of soul and spirit, shouldn’t all dogs go to heaven? “

This is hefty claim, even by theological standards.  I’ll start by taking a tally of those things “about us” that are physical, aka comprised of tangible matter and energy.  Our DNA, made of amino acids, which are molecules composed of atoms; our nervous system is made of nerves and energy in the form of electrical impulses which are generated by internal and external stimuli which are themselves are physical; lastly, and most importantly, our brain, composed of tissue, fluid and neurons which are themselves are physical matter. Further, these neurons “communicate” with one another via chemical and electrical signals, which are also physical.  The brain receives information about the world via stimuli provided by the aforementioned nervous system and its various specific subparts (ie eyes, ears).  So far, we’re looking like pretty material beings.  However, Bob asserts that things like memories, personality, consciousness and ideas are non-physical and thus are proof of, at least, a realm beyond the purely material.  I attempted to point out on the show that memories are stored in the brain via the chemical and electrical impulses that the neurons use to communicate with each other.  Personality can be seen in what is commonly referred to the “animal kingdom” (though I don’t care too much for this distinction as it implies that we’re higher than animals when we clearly are animals).  For instance, any individual of our closest evolutionary cousin the chimpanzee exhibits what we recognize as personality.  To “move down” , so to speak, the “animal hierarchy” (again these terms are misleading) to our more distant relatives; dogs are said to have personalities of their own.  Their owners tend to use words and emotional descriptors usually and generally reserved for humans.  Some dogs also have a uncanny memory that we humans have attempted to harness via artificial selection.  So if dogs have memories and personalities, shouldn’t they have, at least 2/3 of soul and spirit, as Bob claims we do because we have these properties.  Then with this 60% of soul and spirit, shouldn’t all dogs go to heaven?  No.  They don’t because they haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior.  Poor dogs.   But I digress. The only property, as far as science can tell thusfar, that we have attained that is different from the rest of the animals that cohabit this planet, is consciousness.  What is consciousness exactly?  Its not easily defined, is it?  Let us examine what it means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Consciousness is “The state or faculty of being conscious, as a condition and concomitant of all thought, feeling, and volition; ‘the recognition by the thinking subject of its own acts or affections’” and “The state of being conscious, regarded as the normal condition of healthy waking life”.  What is conscious, you might ask?  It is “having internal perception or consciousness: a. of a fact. b. of one’s sensations, feelings, thoughts, etc.”  However, as far as science can tell us to this point, this is also a manifestation of the matter and energy of the brain;  similar to memories and personality, described earlier.  This leads to an interesting thought concerning the story of Adam in the bible.  In the traditional bible story, Adam and Eve are walking around naked without a care in the world.  That is until, according to the story Eve eats the apple and all the sudden they become “aware” of themselves.  So one could in a sense posit that Adam and Eve weren’t conscious until this point.  According to Bob consciousness is an important, if not the most important part of what he called the soul and spirit.  So, Adam and Eve weren’t conscious human beings until they ate from the tree of knowledge.  The last of the non-physical things Bob brings up is ideas.  It is true that ideas are nebulous.  However, what can be said is that not all ideas are 100% original.  Ideas stem from combining, sometimes consciously and subconsciously, memories, stimuli, and logic.  Thus, like the other things our brain does ideas are also is a manifestation of physical matter.

Conclusion

I hope this has helped clarify some of my points and my refutations of Bob’s points.  This isn’t in anyway intended to be an attack on Bob Enyart, his show or anyone close to him.  I don’t want this to be misconstrued as me “getting back at him” nor is it saying that I was shortchanged during the show in terms of time.  This was simply an expansion of my views and thoughts on certain topics of the show I didn’t feel got enough explanation or attention.

January 11, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Center For Inquiry, Christianity, creationism, Events, First Century, god, Interview, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Language, Metro State Atheists, Morality, New Testament, Newsletter, Old Testament, philosophy, Politics, religion, Rome, science, The Holy Bible, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Joel Guttormson on Bob Enyart Live 1/7/08

In case you missed the show, you can listen to it online here.

Soon, Chalmer and I (Joel) will have blogs up commenting on different aspects of the show.  Watch this page tomorrow as we’ll be posting links to the blogs in this post, in case you don’t see them on the main page.

Joel’s Commentary

Chalmer’s Commentary

Thank you!

Joel

President

Metro State Atheists

January 8, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Calculus, Center For Inquiry, Christianity, creationism, Differential Equations, Events, First Century, god, Interview, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Lecture, Mathematics, Metro State Atheists, Morality, New Testament, News, Newsletter, Old Testament, philosophy, Politics, Press Release, religion, science, The Holy Bible, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joel Guttormson debates radio show host Bob Enyart (AM 670)

From Theology Online:

“Atheist Billboard spokesman, Joel Guttormson, (“Don’t Believe in God, You’re Not Alone”) will debate Radio talk show host Bob Enyart this Wednesday on Bob’s radio and Internet show (AM 670, Internet www.KGOV.com) .

Both sides have been sent information on the other (Bob’s show with his interview of Dan Barker was sent to Joel, and Joel’s website https://metrostateatheists.wordpress.com/ was sent to Bob).”

The show will at 3pm MT, Wednesday January 7th.

Here is the  link to Bob’s interview with our friend Dan Barker.

Commentary on the show can be viewed by using the links below:

Joel’s Commentary

Chalmer’s Commentary

Metro State Atheists

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Art, Astrology, Astronomy, atheism, Bacteriology, Bible, biology, Blurb, Calculus, Censorship, Center For Inquiry, Chemistry, Christianity, creationism, Differential Equations, Events, First Century, god, Humor, Interview, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Language, Lecture, Mathematics, Medicine, Metro State Atheists, Microbiology, Morality, Movies, New Testament, News, Newsletter, Old Testament, Organic Chemistry, Party, philosophy, Pictures, Poetry, Politics, Poll, Press Release, Pseudomedicine, Pseudoscience, Qoutes, religion, Rome, Satire, science, Scientology, Sirius, splendid elles, The Holy Bible, The Trickster | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Jesus Fraud- Announcement.

Due to some sources having some validity issues (the Zietgeist wasn’t a ‘source’ per say.  It was a place holder since I was using many of the same sources they did, independent of knowing they used said sources).  These sources include but are not limited to G. Massey and Acharya S.  Also influencing this decision is the many good comments and challenges to this idea.  Therefore, I will be doing this as a series of blogs.  The structure of which will be the following:

A blog will be posted giving as full account of the argument I will be refuting in the unbiased way possible.  Sources may include comments i have received on previous blogs.  I will leave this up for about a week so that I may receive feedback on the “pro” argument so I do not commit the Strawman fallacy.  Feedback should be an attempt to correct something in the argument that I have missed or misrepresented, thus, please do not post refutations on these.  Then, once I have that, I will post a blog in refutation of the argument.  Comments on this are also appreciated, and all manner of comments are welcome.

Thank you to all that posted comments on the original Jesus Fraud blog.  It is because of you that this series is possible.

To access the blog series please use this link: https://metrostateatheists.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/the-jesus-fraud-blog-series/

Joel

President

MSA

January 4, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Christianity, First Century, god, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Metro State Atheists, New Testament, philosophy, religion | , , | 2 Comments

The Jesus Fraud-3 Arguments (Preliminary Work-Want Feedback)

Please read the announcement via this link: Jesus Fraud blog announcement

And then, CLICK HERE .


The Jesus Fraud

Summary

By Joel Guttormson

Introduction

The Jesus Fraud is a book I am in the process of writing. In it, I intend to show, quite definitively, that the New Testament character of Jesus Christ is a composite character that most probably did not exist in the flesh, and thus, not a historical person. I use the term “most probably” because I am open to new evidences and findings, as rational and scientifically minded people should be. Therefore, I encourage all who read this, and the eventual volume to follow, to challenge me on my points, and to check my facts and evidence. It should be observed, that if no objection or refutation can be brought against my arguments, points, and evidence that would cause such a degree of reasonable doubt as to reconsider the position completely, then it should stand as the most likely account of the character of Jesus Christ. I intend to take into consideration those objections that deal merely with faith, and faith alone. Further, I intend to take into consideration the evidence that is claimed to exist for Jesus Christ’s historicity. I then intend to show the evidence against the historicity of Jesus Christ and that this evidence is not only abundant but also compelling. The intention of this abstract and info table is to engage in discussion those that disagree with me and to find further objections to my position as part of the research for this volume. Thus, herein my contact information has been made available at the conclusion of this abstract.

Argument 1: Jesus is a composite

It can be demonstrated that the myth and accompanying story of a dying-rising savior demigod is abundant in ancient societies throughout history and that Jesus fits the subsequent archetype of those stories that preceded ‘him’. Some of the civilizations that had this type of god included in their myths include, the Egyptians, Persians/Romans, Greeks, and Indians (India). From Egypt, we have Horus. The story of Horus is the oldest recorded story of a dying-rising savior, dating to around 3000BC. A summary of the Horus story is as follows: “Horus was born on December 25th of the virgin Isis-Meri . His birth was accompanied by a star in the east, which in turn, three kings followed to locate and adorn the new-born savior. At the age of 12, he was a prodigal child teacher, and at the age of 30, he was baptized by a figure known as Anup and thus began his ministry. Horus had 12 disciples he traveled about with, performing miracles such as healing the sick and walking on water. Horus was known by many gestural names such as The Truth, The Light, God’s Anointed Son, The Good Shepherd, The Lamb of God, and many others. After being betrayed by Typhon, Horus was crucified, buried for 3 days, and thus, resurrected1 ”. From Persia, and later taken up by the Romans, we have Mithras (Mythra) dating to 1200BC. The story of Mithras is as follows: born of a virgin on December 25th, he had 12 disciples and performed miracles, and upon his death was buried for 3 days and thus resurrected, he was also referred to as “The Truth,” “The Light,” and many others. Interestingly, the sacred day of worship of Mithras was Sunday1”. From Greece we have Dionysus dating to 500BC, whose story is as follows: “born of a virgin on December 25th, was a traveling teacher who performed miracles such as turning water into wine, he was referred to as the “King of Kings,” “God’s Only Begotten Son,” “The Alpha and Omega,” and many others, and upon his death, he was resurrected1”. Finally, from India, we have Krishna dated to 900BC, but the legend may be older, whose story is as follows: “born of the virgin Devaki with a star in the east signaling his coming, performed miracles with his disciples, and upon his death was resurrected1”. One will be quick to notice a few themes or details that run through all of these characters. Let us now compare these to the story of Jesus, first written no earlier than 70AD: “Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary on December 25th in Bethlehem, his birth was announced by a star in the east, which three kings or magi followed to locate and adorn the new savior. He was a child teacher at 12, at the age of 30 he was baptized by John the Baptist, and thus began his ministry. Jesus had 12 disciples which he traveled about with performing miracles such as healing the sick, walking on water, raising the dead, he was also known as the “King of Kings,” the “Son of God,” the “Light of the World,” the “Alpha and Omega,” the “Lamb of God,” and many others. After being betrayed by his disciple Judas and sold for 30 pieces of silver, he was crucified, placed in a tomb and after 3 days was resurrected and ascended into Heaven1”. There is something in literature that is referred to as Lord Raglan’s Hero Pattern. It is a list of attributes, taken from the story of Oedipus, and is as follows: “1. Hero’s mother is a royal virgin; 2. His father is a king, and 3. Often a near relative of his mother, but 4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and 5. He is also reputed to be the son of a god. 6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather to kill him, but 7. He is spirited away, and 8. Reared by foster -parents in a far country. 9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but 10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future Kingdom. 11. After a victory over the king and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast, 12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor and
13. And becomes king. 14. For a time he reigns uneventfully and 15. Prescribes laws, but
16. Later he loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and 17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which 18. He meets with a mysterious death, 19. Often at the top of a hill, 20. His children, if any do not succeed him. 21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless 22. He has one or more holy sepulchres2”. Jesus gets 18/223 or 81%. Here it is sufficient to suspect this section by adding only that it is obvious that character of Jesus was not unique but may have originated independently, even by first century standards and thus, it is more likely that these characteristics were not inspired by a figure named Jesus.

Argument 2: Jesus is the SUN of god

From above, and from experience with Christianity, Jesus Christ is the supposed Son of God. The reality however, may be that he is not the Son of God but rather the Sun of God. I shall elaborate. “The cross of the Zodiac [is] one of the oldest conceptual images in human history. It reflects the sun as it figuratively passes through the 12 major constellations over the course of a year. It also reflects the 12 months of the year, the 4 seasons, and the solstices and equinoxes. The term Zodiac relates to the fact that constellations were anthropomorphized, or personified, as figures, or animals1.” The sun, in the cross of the Zodiac is in the middle of the cross, and as it travels with the 12 constellations through the months of the year, something strange happens around the time of the Winter Solstice. The shortening of the days and the expiration of the crops when approaching the winter solstice symbolized the process of death to the ancients. It was the death of the Sun. By December 22nd, the Sun’s demise was fully realized, for the Sun, having moved south continually for 6 months, makes it to its lowest point in the sky. Here a curious thing occurs: the Sun stops moving south, at least perceivably, for 3 days. During this 3-day pause, the Sun resides in the vicinity of the Southern Cross, or Crux, constellation. In addition, after this time on December 25th, the Sun moves 1 degree, this time north, foreshadowing longer days, warmth, and Spring. And thus it was said: the Sun died on the cross, was dead for 3 days, only to be resurrected or born again1”. Here I would like to comment about the Southern Cross constellation. During this time the sun was cruxified, thus giving us, crucified. After which the sun dies, and rises after 3 days. Furthermore, it can be shown that the birth sequence is entirely due to astrology. Let us look at the main attributes of the Jesus story. First, we have Mary, the Virgin; next, we have the three kings or Magi that follow the Star in the East to locate and adorn the newborn savior. The astrology of this story is as follows: Mary is the constellation Virgo, alternatively known as Virgo the Virgin, Virgo in Latin means Virgin. Virgo is often referred to as the House of Bread, depicted by a Virgin holding a sheaf of wheat. Bethlehem in Hebrew literally translates to “House of Bread”. Thus, “Bethlehem is a reference to a place in the sky, not on Earth1. Now, the three bright stars that comprise Orion’s Belt are called the Three Kings; the star in the east is Sirius, the brightest eastern star. On December 24th, the three stars of Orion’s Belt line up with the brightest star in the east, Sirius[TW11] . However, stars never change their position relative to one another, this arrangement results in the line-up of stars pointing to the site of the sunrise on December 25th. This is why the three kings follow the star in the east to find the sunrise, or, the birth of the sun. This is the reason that all the savior gods enumerated in Argument 1 have identical birth sequences. Now, what about the rising part? “[T]hey did not celebrate the resurrection of the Sun until the spring equinox, or Easter. This is because at the spring equinox, the Sun officially overpowers the evil darkness, as daytime thereafter becomes longer in duration than night, and the revitalizing conditions of spring emerge1”. Finally, there are things said, by Jesus, and elements in stories in the New Testament which point, not to a begotten Son of God, but rather an allegorical, anthropomorphized figure. For instance, when Jesus is said to feed the multitudes in Matt 14:17, he supposedly does so using two fish. The symbolism of the two fish is taken directly from the Zodiac. Pisces, or Pisces the Two Fish, is the age in which Jesus was supposed to have been born. To show this, we need only look to the New Testament again. Luke 22:8-10 “Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’ Where do you want us to prepare for it?’ they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you3”. Jesus, supposedly, is referring to the Age of Aquarius, represented as “The Water Bearer”, and as it happens, the Age of Aquarius immediately follows the Age of Pisces, starting around the year 2150AD1. Thus, it is easy to see that Jesus may be the Sun, but not the Son.

Argument 3: Lack of contemporary evidence

The final argument I shall present herein deals with the yet undeniable fact that there is not a shred of convincing documented evidence outside of the New Testament of the existence of Jesus Christ. Specifically, I am speaking of the Romans, who recorded nearly everything during their time in power. They were systematic and meticulous. Among the things that the Bible mentions that the Roman historians do not, is the slaughter of the innocence, also known as the flight to Egypt. It should also be noted about that particular tale, this it is taken directly from the book of Exodus. I shall now furnish a list to the reader of just the Roman historians that had an opportunity to write down an account of Jesus, if he existed. (The dates and number of historians is larger than it should be because I am giving the other side the benefit of the doubt.) Alus Perseus (60AD), Columella (1st Cent. AD), Dior Chrysostom (c. 40-c.112AD), Justus of Tiberius (c. 80AD), Livy (59BC-17AD), Lucan us (63AD), Locus Flours (1st-2nd Cent. AD), Petronius (d. 66AD), Phaedrus (20BC-50AD), Philemon (1st Cent. AD), Pliny the Elder (23?-69AD), Plutarch (c. 46-c.119AD), Pomponius Mela (40AD), Rufus Curtius (1st Cent. AD), Quintilian (c.35-c.100AD), Quintus Curtius (1st Cent. AD), Seneca (46?BC-65AD), Sillies Italics (c.25-101AD), Statius Calicoes (1st Cent. AD), Then of Smyrna (c.70-c.135AD), Galerius Floccus (1st Cent. AD), Galerius Maximums (c.20AD ). Again, the above make only the vaguest references Christ. Since Christ is nothing more than a title, in Greek Christ means “the anointed one”, and does not necessarily refer to Jesus. This brings us to the highly touted, Josephus Flavius. This Jewish historian was not even born until 37AD. Like some of the historians above, he lived when he could have recorded heresy, but did not. Josephus recorded events, many events, which are verifiable and verified. The passage that is cited by Christians as being written by him has in doubt and appears to be interpolation by later Christians such as Eusebius4”. Thus, there is most likely, no verifiable evidence of Jesus’ existence.

Conclusion of Summary

To conclude this summary, I need only offer the opportunity for those claiming Jesus to exist to falsify the information contained within this summary. As I continue my research on this topic, opposing theories and views can only help me, as it will expand my view and perspective on the subject. My contact info is listed below so you may continue to share your views with me if you wish. I would like to thank you for reading this and taking the time to engage in conversation on this topic. (As a matter of completeness, the bibliography contained herein does not reflect the totality of sources I shall be utilizing for the volume to follow.)

Contact Information

Joel Guttormson

Email: metroatheists@hotmail.com

Bibliography

4. “Eusebian fabrications: the Testimonium Flavianum” Ken Olson. July 29, 2000.

3. International Bible Society. Bible Gateway. 27 April 2008. 27 April 2008 <http://www.biblegateway.com/&gt;.

2. Sienkewicz, Professor Thomas J. Lord Raglan’s Hero Pattern. 31 August 2008 <http://department.monm.edu/classics/courses/clas230/mythdocuments/heropattern/default.htm&gt;.

1. The Zeitgeist Movie. n.d

December 8, 2008 Posted by | Astrology, atheism, Bible, Christianity, First Century, god, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, New Testament, religion, Rome, science, Sirius, The Holy Bible | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments