Is the Bible simply a book?

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Postby ryguy » Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:27 pm

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:
Well...at least we have real scrolls with real writing on it. That's a heck of a lot more than the pieces of UFO that UFO/Alien believers don't have. At least it's something real to look at and debate.


Ahhh, but Ryan, we do have the SERPO "scrolls"! :lol: The point is, as I know you well know, that just because someone wrote something down does not go ONE IOTA towards proof.


That's not really a valid comparison because while there's no historic evidence for the existance of the "witnesses" McGovern, Herb, Gene when they wrote their witness accounts - nor do I recall hearing about any museum holding that 3000 page report...lol

There is plenty of historical evidence, besides the bible, that shows these apostles were real men who stood up, told everyone what they heard and saw - and were subsequently tortured and crucified for doing so.

This isn't an account dreamed up by the writers of the bible - historical accounts outside of the bible support the events surrounding those stories.

Yes these are witness accounts - but they aren't made by fake witnesses. Whether you choose to believe the witnesses is another story entirely, and you've every right to choose not to believe them. Just as millions maintain the right to believe what these men and those around them claimed took place over 2000 years ago.

But please don't compare their testimony to a hoax created by idiots using fictitious names who aren't even real.

-Ry
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Postby Chorlton » Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:32 pm

ScaRZ wrote:
Chorlton wrote:No one has to prove their faith to me.
Just the existance of God will do fine.


No man can.

That would come only from God drawing you first, then opening up your heart to understanding.


Facile argument.

Untill someone proves God exists to me, I'll rest happy with my idea that any god doesnt exist and any argument based on the presumption of a god is basicaly flawed without such proof.
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Postby ryguy » Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:40 pm

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:I agree with you on the example that the alleged Jesus provides for us. That is the best that anyone can do...set an example.
Ray


Alleged Jesus?

There's plenty of non-biblical evidence that the man was a real historical figure, and that the events surrounding him took place.

http://www.probe.org/content/view/18/77/

Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources
Written by Michael Gleghorn

Evidence from Tacitus

[snip]
In the introduction to one of his books, F.F. Bruce tells about a Christian correspondent who was told by an agnostic friend that "apart from obscure references in Josephus and the like," there was no historical evidence for the life of Jesus outside the Bible.{1} This, he wrote to Bruce, had caused him "great concern and some little upset in [his] spiritual life."{2} He concludes his letter by asking, "Is such collateral proof available, and if not, are there reasons for the lack of it?"{3}

The answer to this question is, "Yes, such collateral proof is available," and we will be looking at some of it in this article.

Let's begin our inquiry with a passage that historian Edwin Yamauchi calls "probably the most important reference to Jesus outside the New Testament."{4}

Reporting on Emperor Nero's decision to blame the Christians for the fire that had destroyed Rome in A.D. 64, the Roman historian Tacitus wrote:
Nero fastened the guilt . . . on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome. . . .{5}

What all can we learn from this ancient (and rather unsympathetic) reference to Jesus and the early Christians? Notice, first, that Tacitus reports Christians derived their name from a historical person called Christus (from the Latin), or Christ. He is said to have "suffered the extreme penalty," obviously alluding to the Roman method of execution known as crucifixion.

[snip]

Evidence from Pliny the Younger

Another important source of evidence about Jesus and early Christianity can be found in the letters of Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan. Pliny was the Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. In one of his letters, dated around A.D. 112, he asks Trajan's advice about the appropriate way to conduct legal proceedings against those accused of being Christians.{8} Pliny says that he needed to consult the emperor about this issue because a great multitude of every age, class, and sex stood accused of Christianity.{9}

At one point in his letter, Pliny relates some of the information he has learned about these Christians:

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food--but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.{10}

This passage provides us with a number of interesting insights into the beliefs and practices of early Christians. First, we see that Christians regularly met on a certain fixed day for worship. Second, their worship was directed to Christ, demonstrating that they firmly believed in His divinity. Furthermore, one scholar interprets Pliny's statement that hymns were sung to Christ, as to a god, as a reference to the rather distinctive fact that, "unlike other gods who were worshipped, Christ was a person who had lived on earth."{11} If this interpretation is correct, Pliny understood that Christians were worshipping an actual historical person as God! Of course, this agrees perfectly with the New Testament doctrine that Jesus was both God and man.

[snip]

Evidence from Josephus

Perhaps the most remarkable reference to Jesus outside the Bible can be found in the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. On two occasions, in his Jewish Antiquities, he mentions Jesus. The second, less revealing, reference describes the condemnation of one "James" by the Jewish Sanhedrin. This James, says Josephus, was "the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ."{14} F.F. Bruce points out how this agrees with Paul's description of James in Galatians 1:19 as "the Lord's brother."{15} And Edwin Yamauchi informs us that "few scholars have questioned" that Josephus actually penned this passage.{16}

As interesting as this brief reference is, there is an earlier one, which is truly astonishing. Called the "Testimonium Flavianum," the relevant portion declares:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he . . . wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate . . .condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life. . . . And the tribe of Christians . . . has . . . not disappeared.{17}

Evidence from the Babylonian Talmud

There are only a few clear references to Jesus in the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings compiled between approximately A.D. 70-500. Given this time frame, it is naturally supposed that earlier references to Jesus are more likely to be historically reliable than later ones. In the case of the Talmud, the earliest period of compilation occurred between A.D. 70-200.{20} The most significant reference to Jesus from this period states:

On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald . . . cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy."{21}

Let's examine this passage. You may have noticed that it refers to someone named "Yeshu." So why do we think this is Jesus? Actually, "Yeshu" (or "Yeshua") is how Jesus' name is pronounced in Hebrew. But what does the passage mean by saying that Jesus "was hanged"? Doesn't the New Testament say he was crucified? Indeed it does. But the term "hanged" can function as a synonym for "crucified."

[snip]


Evidence from Lucian

Lucian of Samosata was a second century Greek satirist. In one of his works, he wrote of the early Christians as follows:

The Christians . . . worship a man to this day--the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.{27}

Although Lucian is jesting here at the early Christians, he does make some significant comments about their founder. For instance, he says the Christians worshipped a man, "who introduced their novel rites." And though this man's followers clearly thought quite highly of Him, He so angered many of His contemporaries with His teaching that He "was crucified on that account."
Although Lucian does not mention his name, he is clearly referring to Jesus. But what did Jesus teach to arouse such wrath?

According to Lucian, he taught that all men are brothers from the moment of their conversion. That's harmless enough. But what did this conversion involve? It involved denying the Greek gods, worshipping Jesus, and living according to His teachings. It's not too difficult to imagine someone being killed for teaching that. Though Lucian doesn't say so explicitly, the Christian denial of other gods combined with their worship of Jesus implies the belief that Jesus was more than human. Since they denied other gods in order to worship Him, they apparently thought Jesus a greater God than any that Greece had to offer!

[snip]

I hope you see how this small selection of ancient non-Christian sources helps corroborate our knowledge of Jesus from the gospels. Of course, there are many ancient Christian sources of information about Jesus as well. But since the historical reliability of the canonical gospels is so well established, I invite you to read those for an authoritative "life of Jesus!"



"Alleged"....LOL
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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:00 pm

ryguy wrote:This isn't an account dreamed up by the writers of the bible -


That is precisely what the myth of the virgin birth is, Ryan. The fact that it came from earlier traditions implies that these folks (who I agree were real people) thought it would spice-up their story (and possibly gain converts from other traditions which have similar myths).

historical accounts outside of the bible support the events surrounding those stories.


Show me the historical events that support the virgin birth. Let's deal with this one, specific item that is part of the canonical call to faith. I don't disagree with your generalities of the facts that these were real people writing their accounts. But when the more astounding claims they make WITHIN their stories can be clearly shown to have been claimed in earlier traditions, that throws suspicion on the witnesses and their accounts... at least as far as this specific claim goes.

But please don't compare their testimony to a hoax created by idiots using fictitious names who aren't even real.


I will compare them only in those areas where the comparison fits. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If you are going to claim to be a witness to a man who lived called Jesus...not extraordinary. If you are then going to claim Jesus was born from a virgin...extraordinary... let's see the proof because a person claiming this is not sufficient.

Ray

Edited: "truth" to "proof"
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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:03 pm

ryguy wrote:Alleged Jesus?

There's plenty of non-biblical evidence that the man was a real historical figure, and that the events surrounding him took place.

(snip)
"Alleged"....LOL


Peace, Ryan. Let me clarify: The "alleged" part I only meant to apply to those claims of the man named Jesus that are extraordinary. It is ALLEGED that he was born of a virgin. It is ALLEGED that he resurrected from the dead. That is what I mean by the "alleged Jesus"... not that his whole life and existence was a myth.

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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:14 pm

I figured I should give some referential examples to support the fact that there were "virgin births" flying all around the ancient world... It certainly makes for a good story (and G-rated at that!). :lol:

http://www.entheology.org/pocm/pagan_or ... birth.html

According to one story, the Roman Emperor Augustus's mother was worshipping in the temple of Apollo when she fell asleep and was impregnated by the god [Suetonius Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 94]

Other examples of virgin born Gods:
Krishna was born of the virgin Devaki
Savior Dionysus was born of the virgin Semele.
Buddha too was born of a virgin,
The old Teutonic goddess Hertha was a virgin impregnated by the heavenly Spirit and bore a son.
Scandinavian Frigga was impregnated by the All-Father Odin and bore Balder, the healer and savior of mankind.


And then there is also a longer tome on this topic:

http://englishatheist.org/indexd.shtml

Thus we find that long before the Christian era there were already pictured in pagan places of worship virgin mothers and their divine children, and that such pictures included scenes of an Annunciation, an Incarnation, and a Birth and Adoration, just as the Gospels written in the second century A.D. describe them, and that these events were in some way connected with the God Taht, who was identified by Gnostics with the Logos.


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Postby ScaRZ » Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:17 pm

Chorlton wrote:Untill someone proves God exists to me, I'll rest happy with my idea that any god doesnt exist and any argument based on the presumption of a god is basicaly flawed without such proof.


How can I or anyone else prove God exist to you?

I could crack the whip attempting to do this very deed but that would only widen the gulf. If God doesn't exist in your heart and mind,then how could I ever place him there? All I or any other believer can do is sow a seed and the remainder is out of our hands.

Know matter how you or any non-believer attempts to tell me there is no God,I will never believe it. I guess you could say I'm just as strong a believer as you are a non-believer. I can't prove God exist to you anymore than you can prove to me God doesn't.
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Postby ryguy » Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:19 pm

Definitely - I live for redebating generations-old debates about the historic and physical evidence supporting various aspects of the biblical stories. I'd love nothing more than to spend hours and hours and hours trying to convince you why there's plenty of evidence, so that you can spend hours and hours convincing me that there's none, so that we can both walk away, having travelled no further down the road of understanding.... (Plus I recognize a reflection of my own stubborness in you.... lol)

One day, when I'm not up until 2 every morning working a second job, and trying to fit in precious few moments of time following up leads related to the new-age freaks that are littering this field with b.s....I'll come back here and we can have another go.

For now - I'll just offer to you that your beliefs are valid, and you have every right to have them.

-Ry
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Postby ryguy » Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:25 pm

ScaRZ wrote:I can't prove God exist to you anymore than you can prove to me God doesn't.


Stated even better:

Proving that God exists to an Atheist is like proving to a fish that he really is swimming in water.

The fish may not believe you because he can't see what's all around him - but the day he gets caught and pulled out of the water he'll find out for himself.

-Ry
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Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:55 pm

ryguy wrote:Definitely - I live for redebating generations-old debates about the historic and physical evidence supporting various aspects of the biblical stories. I'd love nothing more than to spend hours and hours and hours trying to convince you why there's plenty of evidence, so that you can spend hours and hours convincing me that there's none, so that we can both walk away, having travelled no further down the road of understanding.... (Plus I recognize a reflection of my own stubborness in you.... lol)


There's something we can agree upon!

But let me clarify something else: I DO believe in a God. And I believe the ultimate proof has been and will continue to come from science. But let me distinguish believing in a God from believing a claim made about someone who lived as a mortal. I apply the SAME rules of evidence to the extraordinary claims of Jesus Christ that I apply to the UFO nutters. There is and should be precisely zero difference. I continue to ask for specific backing evidence for the virgin birth and the resurrection. That approach is something you, Ryan, would not say is unreasonable when it comes to UFOs, the paranormal, etc. So why do you abandon this approach when it comes to the more sensational aspects of the life of Jesus?

FWIW, I DO believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, but precisely no more and no less than everyone else is. I also see Christ as a shining example for how one should live their life. But I do NOT believe that my salvation rests upon having to accept that Christ was the one and only son of God. The God I know does not work like that. The God I know is a very systemic God. I follow the example of Christ in how I live my life, in how I treat others, and even in deciding exactly what I think is worth dying for.

So this is what makes me a somewhat different breed of skeptic. I accept that there is a God, and that there was even a prophet named Jesus Christ. But for the claims of supernatural and/or paranormal events alleged to be part of Christ's life... for that I require the same level of proof that I would for the claims we are being visited, probed and/or even harvested by aliens! :shock:

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Postby Chorlton » Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:08 am

ScaRZ wrote:
Chorlton wrote:Untill someone proves God exists to me, I'll rest happy with my idea that any god doesnt exist and any argument based on the presumption of a god is basicaly flawed without such proof.


I can't prove God exist to you anymore than you can prove to me God doesn't.

Thats the UFO believers excuse sir.

You cant prove a negative.

Im not the one making the claims about a God existing.
You are, therefore YOU provide the proof he exists or consider your argument destroyed.

There simply is not one jot of evidence that any such god does now or has ever existed.
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Postby Chorlton » Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:20 am

ryguy wrote:
ScaRZ wrote:I can't prove God exist to you anymore than you can prove to me God doesn't.


Stated even better:

Proving that God exists to an Atheist is like proving to a fish that he really is swimming in water.

The fish may not believe you because he can't see what's all around him - but the day he gets caught and pulled out of the water he'll find out for himself.

-Ry

Firstly your fish analogy is ridiculous. Fish dont have a memory for more than what ? 30 seconds, then you are assuming a fish is actually aware of his surroundings or has an intellect when I suggest it is no such thing.

However Im rather alarmed that someone who demands proof of existance of a UFO or alien will happily accept the existance of something for which there is simply no evidence? (though I see the need for a place to examine and debate those ideas, such as we are doing now) Despite excavations all around the world, and investigations by how many people over the last 2000 years, there is still no evidence of the existance of any God.
Nothing, zero, nada.

Billions of people believing in something is no proof of existance, merely of a need of certain types of people to have something bigger than them to believe in. I believe in nothing bigger or better than me. I believe in no after life. I dont need to. Im happy with my mortality. I'm happy. God just aint there.
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Postby ryguy » Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:53 pm

Chorlton wrote:However Im rather alarmed that someone who demands proof of existance of a UFO or alien will happily accept the existance of something for which there is simply no evidence?


I know - ironic isn't it?

The difference, of course, is that I have never claimed that there is any evidence to be offered. Nor have I denied that what I hold is simply a belief, not a fact.

If you find my belief so offensive - well then I find your taste in music offensive. So there. :)

I hope you do understand the difference that I'm describing. There's a claim of tangible fact, and that's when evidence should be demanded. Then there's belief...and we all have hundreds, maybe thousands of beliefs that are not supported by physical evidence. Just don't make the mistake of calling a belief a fact without evidence.

It's one of the major flaws of the remote viewing crowd - they can't admit that what they hold is a belief, and not scientific fact.

See the difference?

-Ry
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Postby Chorlton » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:03 pm

ryguy wrote:
Chorlton wrote:However Im rather alarmed that someone who demands proof of existance of a UFO or alien will happily accept the existance of something for which there is simply no evidence?


I know - ironic isn't it?


No its a total contradiction. Irony doesnt come into it.
The difference, of course, is that I have never claimed that there is any evidence to be offered. Nor have I denied that what I hold is simply a belief, not a fact.


So then anyone coming ere saying they *believe* an Alien took them for a ride in a spaceship will be free from questioning then?
If you find my belief so offensive - well then I find your taste in music offensive. So there. :)


Ive never said it was offensive. I just find it bizarre you should demand evidence from other people for their beliefs yet not yourself.
And Im sorry but you havent the faintest idea of my musical tastes
I hope you do understand the difference that I'm describing. There's a claim of tangible fact, and that's when evidence should be demanded. Then there's belief...and we all have hundreds, maybe thousands of beliefs that are not supported by physical evidence. Just don't make the mistake of calling a belief a fact without evidence.

But I do.
It's one of the major flaws of the remote viewing crowd - they can't admit that what they hold is a belief, and not scientific fact.

See the difference?
-Ry


Nope I see someone running for an excuse
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Postby ryguy » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:04 pm

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:That approach is something you, Ryan, would not say is unreasonable when it comes to UFOs, the paranormal, etc. So why do you abandon this approach when it comes to the more sensational aspects of the life of Jesus?


I don't. I abandon spending the time it would take to unbury and dust off the mountains of non-biblical testimony in my archives from five years ago that includes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th hand accounts, photos and descriptions of relics, and documents from the period that support at least most of those accounts.

You should know me better than to think I'd believe stories like this lightly. I looked for evidence and I found it. And I'll be happy to spend time at some point in the future to share it all with you.

But just because I'm forced to put a long and drawn out debate with you on hold right now does not mean I'm waving a white flag Ray. It just means that with a dying sister in the hospital and 18 hour work days - I have a few tiny little issues that take a slightly higher priority at the moment.

-Ry
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