By Brian Morris, Director of Plain Reason
WITH new credible evidence that Christianity’s founder was at best an ordinary Judean, and probably not even that, upholders of the faith become increasingly shrill.
The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming — in exactly the same way that countless celebrity court cases have been won on “indirect testimony”. Yet Christian apologists demand “proof” Jesus didn’t exist– deceitfully ignoring that one cannot prove a negative; it’s a logical fallacy, and an appeal to ignorance.
Co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity, Dr John Dickson, is being entirely dishonest when he challenges sceptics to name one New Testament professor who’ll say “Jesus never lived”.
It’s like saying, “find me a cardinal who denies the Pope is Catholic”. It’s a phony challenge, and like all illogical Christians he simply tries to shift the burden of proof. It’s his responsibility to provide just one gilt-edged eye-witness.
The argument in my recent article was that it’s unlikely a ‘flesh and blood’ Jesus existed, the dearth of supporting evidence is catastrophically poor. It’s far more probable he was created as a ‘celestial figure’, based on evidence from the new ground-breaking book by Dr Richard Carrier, “On the Historicity of Jesus”.
What is so mischievous about Dr Dickson’s scathing article is that he ignores completely Richard Carrier’s quite legitimate challenge — to present one irrefutable eye-witness account to Jesus’ existence. Equally, he can present his own peer-reviewed evidence to show Carrier’s meticulous research is somehow flawed.
That’s the challenge to John Dickson, and one that he is clearly unwilling to meet. He seems only capable of throwing invective and atheist slurs, rather than addressing any of the qualified points that were raised in my article.
The first point he might understand is that sceptics aren’t overly concerned whether Jesus was mortal, or a ‘celestial figure’ — like most of the ancient gods. Our primary interest is calling out apologists on the 2000 years of fabricated texts which underpin all the contemporary questions about Christianity’s provenance.[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]For centuries Christian historians (themselves Christian), have been ‘authenticating’ Christian history for other Christians. It’s the classic case of Dracula running the blood bank.[/quote]
But in recent decades professional secular historians have started to dig deeply into eons of unsubstantiated Christian claims of an inerrant New Testament.
There’s a litany of documentation pointing directly to pious fraud throughout the Gospels, Acts and Epistles. But John Dickson blindly ignore credible ‘neutral’ scholars; he prefers only “professors” from within his own narrow field. And there are many.
Prof. Gerd Ludemann confirms Paul the Apostle is not a valid eye-witness to the life and teachings of Jesus. Prof. John Gager says of the New Testament, in part, “not only was old material reworked, expanded, collated and reinterpreted, but new material was regularly interpolated.”
That sounds very much like “pious fraud“, if I understand the term correctly. The list is endless.
Dr Dickson has even more trouble with non-Christian sources — the ones that were meant to “verify” the stories of Jesus in all four Gospels. They don’t exist. He may wish to verify that by applying the same rigorous method of Bayes’s Theorem, which Carrier has diligently applied to his scrupulously researched work.
There’s a conflict of interest with Dickson’s position, much like the Christian historians who’ve used bizarre methods to substantiate their texts, and ignored all the fabrications. They relied on such absurdities as “Coherence” and “Vividness of Narration” — if the texts are “vividly written” and sounded “reasonable” then they must be “authentic”.
Richard Carrier provides compelling evidence that Jesus was created as a “celestial figure” and then written into history. He almost certainly did not exist as a mere mortal — the complete lack of eye-witness evidence is alarming; and that’s especially so in an era where exhaustive chronicles were kept. Jesus seems, incredibly, to have gone wholly unnoticed.
The point has been made that conclusive proof is not available, but there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence that Jesus is a creation of the early Christian cult.
Many celebrity court cases have been won entirely on circumstantial evidence — one, at random, is the conviction on Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber.
It’s a fair assumption that any celebrity court case on the historicity of Jesus would find — based on this wealth of circumstantial evidence — that Jesus of Nazareth did not really exist as a flesh and blood mortal.
Evidence for such a case is well documented in books by Richard Carrier, Earl Doherty, David Fitzgerald and several others. We trust Dr Dickson finds the courage to take up Carrier’s challenge and provide just one unequivocal source proving the existence of Jesus. If he fails, he might then consider eating a page of his Bible, that he so brazenly offered.
|Author||Brian Morris is Director of Plain Reason.
"Promoting science, logic, reason and critical thought"
He is author of Sacred to Secular: Why a corrupted Christianity demands a secular solution.