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Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

A Response to Gender Confused Jesus

This is a response to http://957chatterton.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/gender-confused-jesus.html.

It is an article in a blog that purports to, ‘expose the absurdities of religion and the immoralities of many religions’. This particular article titled, Gender Confused Jesus’ has in an opening note what looks like some kind of disclaimer, ‘This piece is purely to provoke thought and poke fun, nothing more’. One can only guess as how these can be joined together in a coherent manner unless the thoughts provoked are be no more than poking fun thoughts? I personally think this ‘note’ was an afterthought to give the author an escape route if and when the flawed reasoning within it was brought to light as I am going to do in what follows. The author has always got the retort, ‘Well, it was only every intended to poke fun’ so you’re critique of it is misplaced’. Be that as it may the content of it has been voiced seriously by other atheists on twitter and in my view it warrants refutation.

The author begins with the claim that the alleged virgin birth of Jesus is a claimed proof of the divinity of Jesus. He doesn’t supply any references where this claim is made and I personally have not seen it used as such a proof and would be interested to see the structure of such a proof. He then goes on to claim, ‘Jesus is not the only individual in mythology to have this character trait. Horus, Perseus, and The Buddha were all also born of virgins. Note that all of the aforementioned figures are male’. This is the fairly common copycat Jesus claim and is beyond the scope of this article to interact with except to note that it isn’t a substantiated claim, absent even a reference to a source attempting to substantiate it, nor does the author seek to show how it would logically and necessarily follow that even if the claim was true that it would invalidate the virgin birth claim of Jesus.

The author then moves on to provide us with a science lesson on human reproduction and draws the conclusion that on the science of human reproduction that either Jesus was not a man or Mary was not a virgin or the whole story was made up before knowledge of human reproduction was sufficiently known. Following this he then tries to preempt an apologist objection to his argument but from where that objection is derived we aren’t told and provides with the ever nonsensical words of Richard Dawkins.

What he does not address and what is fatal to his argument is that it completely ignores the fact that whilst it is true what science says about the natural reproductive workings that the account is not recording a natural event but a supernatural event. That being so, how does he know what can or cannot occur? How does he know that the supernatural conception of Mary was not of such a nature as to falsify each option in his trichotomy. What can a supernatural conception accomplish? Is it bound by what occurs in a natural conception? None of these question are addressed and I would suggest the author would have no rationally compelling response to them that would save his argument. If one were to label the fallacy which the authors arguments falls to it would either be that of category error (putting supernatural events into the category of natural events) or a strawman argument that is then knocked down.

Whichever is the case, or both what we don’t have is a good argument for a ‘Gender Confused Jesus’.

Evidence for Jesus’ Existence

Evidence for Jesus’ Existence
This is part one of a longer article showing the evidence for Jesus’ existence. I am posting it in parts for two reasons:

a) It presents to the non-believer or poser of the question about Jesus’ existence with a first response.

b) It opens the article up to constructive criticism and critique

Let’s define two key terms first:

Evidence: ground for belief or disbelief; data on which to base proof or to establish truth or falsehood Jesus: the character who is the subject of the NT and other extra-biblical  documents, commonly referred to as Jesus of Nazareth

On those definitions we can state the subject line thus:

The ground for belief or data on which to base proof or to establish the truth of the existence of the character who is the subject of the NT and other extra-biblical documents and who is commonly referred to as Jesus of Nazareth.

To avoid any confusion we need further make a further clarification and will do so in the words of atheist and co-founder of http://www.infidels.org Jeffrey Jay Lowder:

“First, one should not define ‘historicity of Jesus,’ as many have done, to mean ‘whether the Christ of the New Testament existed — whether Jesus was born of a virgin, performed miracles, etc.’ This is both misleading and ahistorical. In light of Fischer’s principles of question-framing, it is clear that historical questions should not be framed in such a way as to beg other, equally legitimate historical questions. If one were to equate ‘historicity of Jesus’ with ‘whether the Christ of the New Testament existed’, that would make the question, ‘Did Jesus exist?’, equivalent to the question, ‘Was there a Jesus Christ who is the Son of God?’ But this fails to break the issue into its “constituent parts, so they can be dealt with one at a time.” I therefore suggest that we think of the ‘historicity of Jesus’ as meaning ‘whether the Jesus of the New Testament is based upon a person who actually lived’ and not ‘whether this person did the deeds the New Testament claims he did.'” [Independent confirmation and the History of Jesus (1997)

This rightly separates the Jesus who is the subject of the NT and the Jesus Christ of the NT and it is to the former we are speaking in this article.

On that being clear then, what evidence is there for this Jesus of Nazareth?

Well, if one reads the whole of that article by Jeffrey Jay Lowder then one would not need to go any further than the NT itself because, “independent confirmation is not necessary to establish the mere existence of the Jesus of the New Testament. There simply is nothing epistemically improbable about the mere existence of a man named Jesus. (Just because Jesus existed does not mean that he was born of a virgin, that he rose from the dead, etc.) Although a discussion of the New Testament evidence is beyond the scope of this paper, I think that the New Testament does provide prima facie evidence for the historicity of Jesus. It is clear, then, that if we are going to apply to the New Testament “the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material,”[19] we should not require independent confirmation of the New Testament’s claim that Jesus existed.” [Independent confirmation and the History of Jesus (1997)

Since it is perfectly reasonable that we apply the same criteria we should  apply to other ancient material containing historical material as we do to  the NT (to not so do would involve special pleading) then from the NT alone  we have prima facie evidence for Jesus’ Existence.