Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When was Jesus born?

Merry Christmas, everyone.


Mary Smith said...

I always thought it wasn't clear from historical references other than the bible, if he even existed.

WCG said...

I think you're right, Mary. Now, I'd always assumed that there was a historical Jesus, but as I've learned more about it, I have to say that I just don't know, one way or another.

I think that most scholars (and not just the Christian ones) think that there was a historical Jesus of some type, although they're all over the place after that.

I mean, they can't agree on who or what Jesus was, which means that they don't really agree about much. And there seems to be a growing minority who don't think there ever was a historical Jesus.

Of course, the whole birth narrative is bullshit, whether there was a historical Jesus or not. And I don't just mean the magic stuff, either. All of it was clearly written later by people who wanted 'the Messiah' to fit what they expected.

None of the anonymous authors of the Gospels even claim to have met Jesus, and as this video demonstrates, they get even simple facts wrong. But heroes - let alone demigods - needed to have a birth narrative back then, so storytellers supplied it.

PS. Bart D. Ehrman is one scholar who argues strongly for a historical Jesus. But I've only read a couple of his books ("Forged" and "Misquoting Jesus"), which were excellent and quite interesting, but don't touch on that issue).

On the other side, Richard Carrier and Robert M. Price are among the scholars who disagree. I don't know who's right, and I don't really care.

Yeah, it would be interesting to know for sure, but as you know, even if there was a guy named Jesus, that's a long, long way from demonstrating that he was a god!

Mary Smith said...

Oh yes the demonstration that he was a god part...two things..1) if I sincerely wanted to be Christian or any religion for that matter, I'd want to research it as best as I could to see how much validity there was in it, so as not to feel I was believing in something made up and 2) just imagine what the world would be like if religion of all types just focused on being good, doing the right and moral thing and treating others like you would want to be treated. Wouldn't it be better to preach that you get to heaven by being a good person rather than believing in a certain creed and storyline? No religion does this. They are far more concerned with dogma, believing the "correct" things, stories, interpretations and all of this encompassed with if you don't get "it" right, you're going to spend an eternity in hell. This to me is what needs to change, if we are ever going to have peace, not only in the big picture of war, but the everyday squabbles and accusations of who's right. I've always struggled where this need to be "right" and "chosen" comes from psychologically.

WCG said...

Mary, for most people, when they "want to be a Christian," wanting to believe is all that matters.

Skepticism - questioning, doubting - is not encouraged in Christianity. In the Bible story, 'Doubting Thomas' was not an admirable Christian. Then, as now, you were just supposed to believe.

Of course, that's a problem for you and me. (Why would a god want us to be gullible? Humans often have their own selfish reasons to encourage gullibility, though.) But it seems to work for many people.

Dogma won't ever end, as far as I can see. It's human nature. Certainly, arguing over who's right will never end. (Even atheists do that. We vehemently argue among ourselves.)

Likewise, you'd think that a god would be completely unconcerned with dogma (and why in the world would a god need to have human beings worship him?). The whole thing just cries out for being man-made.

But America showed the world how to have peace, even if many of us no longer appreciate it ourselves: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the strict separation of church and state.

Disagreement is human, and there will always be the faith-based among us. But all we really need is respect for diversity - not just tolerating diversity, but recognizing it as a positive good.

When people disagree with me, that tests my own beliefs. And if my beliefs were never tested, then how could I have any confidence in them? (If someone changes my mind, I'll thank him for that. I'm not threatened by the possibility.)

Other than that, most differences between me and other people don't affect me at all. Diversity in that sense just makes the world a more interesting place.

I hope we'll someday get rid of war (and terrorism, which will be much, much harder), but I wouldn't want to get rid of disagreements. We won't, anyway, but we would never progress without "everyday squabbles and accusations of who's right."

We don't have to hate people who disagree with us. Even most religious people understand that. Not all, unfortunately.