'Proof' of God's Existence

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Bill Overpeck (TE)

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Jul 9, 1990, 5:45:40 PM7/9/90
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In article <1990Jul3.2...@acd4.UUCP> w...@acd4.UUCP ( Bill Overpeck (TE) ) writes:
>>many in this forum have suggested "shedding the
>>baggage" of traditional Christian values. I think it far more
>>enlightening to "shed the baggage" of modern rationalism in favor
>>of hope. Without an infinite point of reference, the finite points
>>are all meaningless. This can only lead to pessimism.

In article <4b61056...@apollo.HP.COM>,
pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim Perry) writes:
>Without attempting at this point to defend the defensibility of a rational-
>istic vs. a christian viewpoint, can't you guys at least get it through your
>skulls that there are people out here who think Christianity is complete
>fantasy and fabrication, who have no belief whatsoever in eternal life or
>an absolute sourceof moral behavior, and yet who have not tumbled into the
>depths of pessimism and nihilism. I, for instance, am such a person. If
>it makes you happy to believe in absolutes and infinite life, go for it!
>I don't, and yet I am perfectly happy and quite optimistic. It is one
>thing for you to claim that *you* can't be happy without such beliefs,
>and another to claim that others must share them for them to be happy.

Ok. I don't have trouble comprehending that someone with your world
view can be happy and optimistic. I would fudge, though, and say that
I suspect that in general, people with your world view have little to
be optimistic about (philosophically, not practically). But even at
that, I recognize that my perceptions are filtered by my biases.

A side question (just curious), do you really think there is absolutely
no historical basis for Christianity? All fantasy? Jesus Christ did not
exist? I'm not trying to bait you, I'm just wondering.

>It is all very well for believing theists to complain that "if there is no
>God then life has no meaning"; what they can't seem to understand is that
>there are many of us who don't believe in God and yet find happiness and
>meaning in life, which if this were a logical argument (it's not, being
>about religion) would count as a counterexample. By the arguments of
>theists in this group, atheists must be immoral depressives; the statements
>of atheists appear to give the lie to this. I suppose some may find this
>threatening to the implicit argument for their own beliefs, but hey, it's
>our turf.

Acknowledged. It is your turf.

>One more time: if you want to argue moral absolutism through fear of God,
>you have to show exactly how I, who fear no god, am immoral.

Actually, when I argue for moral absolutism, I tend to think and talk in
terms of God being the absolute. Morality has more of a behavioral flavor
and the argument for Christianity gets real muddy (you would probably say
it *starts* muddy) when focusing on rights and wrongs. Anyway, I'm not
interested in demonstrating that you are immoral. By (Christian) defini-
tion, we are all immoral but do many "moral" things.

>If you want to show that such absence of fear/belief causes pessimism,
>you must explain why I'm optimistic. I can see and understand (to some
>degree) what works for you; please understand: there are good and happy
>people for whom it doesn't work.

I was really referring to pessimism in a philosophical sense, i.e. the
contemplation of life ending in non-existence is potentially depressing.
But if that's not true for you, I believe you. (But I'm curious as to
how you deal emotionally with that inevitability?)

Bill

Graham Matthews

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Jul 9, 1990, 11:25:15 PM7/9/90
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Jim Perry:

>>If you want to show that such absence of fear/belief causes pessimism,
>>you must explain why I'm optimistic. I can see and understand (to some
>>degree) what works for you; please understand: there are good and happy
>>people for whom it doesn't work.

Bill Overpeck:


>I was really referring to pessimism in a philosophical sense, i.e. the
>contemplation of life ending in non-existence is potentially depressing.
>But if that's not true for you, I believe you. (But I'm curious as to
>how you deal emotionally with that inevitability?)

I don't know about others out there but I don't find any philosophical pessimism
in believing that life ends in non-existence.

As for the inevitability of death being difficult to cope with emotionally, I
don't have any problem - as you say Bill, death is an "inevitability". There is
nothing you can do about it and so you accept it and the non-existence that
goes with it.

There

Jim Perry

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Jul 10, 1990, 4:22:00 PM7/10/90
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Bill Overpeck (TE) writes:
>>> Without an infinite point of reference, the finite points
>>>are all meaningless. This can only lead to pessimism.
>
>In article <4b61056...@apollo.HP.COM>,
> pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim Perry) writes:
>>... there are people out here who think Christianity is complete
>>fantasy and fabrication, who have no belief whatsoever in eternal life or
>>an absolute source of moral behavior, and yet who have not tumbled into the
>>depths of pessimism and nihilism. I, for instance, am such a person..

>
>Ok. I don't have trouble comprehending that someone with your world
>view can be happy and optimistic. I would fudge, though, and say that
>I suspect that in general, people with your world view have little to
>be optimistic about (philosophically, not practically). But even at
>that, I recognize that my perceptions are filtered by my biases.

It depends on the details of philosophy: from your side of the fence I should
perhaps be pessimistic because whatever may happen in my life, once that's over
I suspect that will be the end of me as an individual. I am optimistic in
observing that I enjoy the life I'm living, perhaps can help human society at
least maintain itself if not actually better itself, by my actions and by
teaching my children also to do what is right (and in that capacity partake of
greater life). Probably you feel the same way, as far as temporal life goes.
I think the flip side to the "why aren't atheists pessimists?" question is "why
don't believers in paradise seek quick deaths?"

Frankly, I've never managed to fantasize an eternal life that appeals to me all
that much. Probably the greatest source of day to day gratification to me is
my relationship with my wife and anticipated family, and then the intellectual
stimulation of my work etc. (and of course discussions like this). All of
these seem inherently non-eternal. Certainly what I understand of Christian
teachings in this area indicate that the mundane human relationship part won't
apply (Matt. 22), and certainly apologists like C.S. Lewis indicate that we'll
be transformed into something different than what we are. I might want to live
forever, but what such apologists describe is not me. (Looking back, Lewis's
formulation of heaven in The Last Battle is one of the first intellectual
incidents in my childhood turning me off the idea). Likewise, the notion of
some part of me that's not my mind being continuously reincarnated doesn't hold
appeal.

>A side question (just curious), do you really think there is absolutely
>no historical basis for Christianity? All fantasy? Jesus Christ did not
>exist? I'm not trying to bait you, I'm just wondering.

Strong words to get your attention? No, what I disbelieve is the involvement
of deity in the story of Christ. I'm willing to accept that there is evidence
that Jesus existed and said and did something like what survives in the
Gospels, modulo the supernatural and miracles. But I doubt the existence of
JHWH in the first place, along with various necessities like Original Sin, and
see no reason to think Jesus was other than a man like any other religious
zealot. He said some good things, and some radical things, and some pretty
wild-eyed things. I'm not convinced by faith healing at this remove, feeding
multitudes is an odd verification of omnipotence, I don't believe in the
Messiah legend, and as I've mentioned before I'm totally unconvinced of the
various accounts of the resurrection as a miracle. Which is not to say that
some of that story might not have transpired, such as the body disappearing or
even surviving for a time (through perfectly natural means), which is a
historical if not theological basis for the development of the religion. I
didn't mean to imply that some Pauline cabal cynically invented the whole
story.

>>One more time: if you want to argue moral absolutism through fear of God,
>>you have to show exactly how I, who fear no god, am immoral.
>
>Actually, when I argue for moral absolutism, I tend to think and talk in
>terms of God being the absolute. Morality has more of a behavioral flavor
>and the argument for Christianity gets real muddy (you would probably say
>it *starts* muddy) when focusing on rights and wrongs. Anyway, I'm not
>interested in demonstrating that you are immoral. By (Christian) defini-
>tion, we are all immoral but do many "moral" things.

Fair enough; some in this argument have appeared to claim that we are moral
because we fear retribution for violating various laws, i.e. that not believing
in God we would have no reason to follow "you shall not murder". I think there
are purely natural/evolutionary bases for such morality, but that's compatible
with the belief that we're created that way (in God's image). My quibble is
with the notion that atheism implies immorality, which could of course lead to
ill-treatment of atheists.

>>If you want to show that such absence of fear/belief causes pessimism,
>>you must explain why I'm optimistic.
>

>I was really referring to pessimism in a philosophical sense, i.e. the
>contemplation of life ending in non-existence is potentially depressing.
>But if that's not true for you, I believe you. (But I'm curious as to
>how you deal emotionally with that inevitability?)
>
>Bill

See above. To one who believes in paradise, the thought that such belief might
be false would be depressing; this is not quite the same as not believing in
the first place (or adjusting to the idea over time) being depressing. I would
find an earthly life of sacrifice and self-denial in hope of eternal life
depressing. I don't think that describes Christianity as I understand it,
although I have been somewhat baffled by Christians who have implied that they
would live more riotously were it not for the sacrifices called for by their
religion.
-
Jim Perry pe...@apollo.hp.com HP/Apollo, Chelmsford MA
This particularly rapid, unintelligible patter
Isn't generally heard, and if it is it doesn't matter!

Mark Crispin

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Jul 10, 1990, 6:37:06 PM7/10/90
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In article <4b8341f...@apollo.HP.COM> pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim Perry) writes:

>Bill Overpeck (TE) writes:
>>A side question (just curious), do you really think there is absolutely
>>no historical basis for Christianity? All fantasy? Jesus Christ did not
>>exist? I'm not trying to bait you, I'm just wondering.
>Strong words to get your attention? No, what I disbelieve is the involvement
>of deity in the story of Christ. I'm willing to accept that there is evidence
>that Jesus existed and said and did something like what survives in the
>Gospels, modulo the supernatural and miracles. But I doubt the existence of
>JHWH in the first place, along with various necessities like Original Sin, and
>see no reason to think Jesus was other than a man like any other religious
>zealot. He said some good things, and some radical things, and some pretty
>wild-eyed things. I'm not convinced by faith healing at this remove, feeding
>multitudes is an odd verification of omnipotence, I don't believe in the
>Messiah legend, and as I've mentioned before I'm totally unconvinced of the
>various accounts of the resurrection as a miracle. Which is not to say that
>some of that story might not have transpired, such as the body disappearing or
>even surviving for a time (through perfectly natural means), which is a
>historical if not theological basis for the development of the religion. I
>didn't mean to imply that some Pauline cabal cynically invented the whole
>story.

Perhaps Jim Perry does not, but I do. I remain totally unconvinced
that JC was a historical personage. At best, I might be persuaded
that JC was put together out of bits and pieces of various "holy men"
(a.k.a. gurus, a.k.a. faith healers, a.k.a. cult leaders, a.k.a.
quacks), of which there seem to have been many wandering around
Palestine at the time. Perhaps "Monty Python's Life of Brian" is
closer to historical truth than the "Gospels".

There were plenty of reasons for the Paulines to have invented the
story. Fanatic nationalism and religious cults often go hand-in-hand.

_____ | ____ ___|___ /__ Mark Crispin, 206 842-2385, R90/6 pilot, DoD#0105
_|_|_ -|- || __|__ / / 6158 Lariat Loop NE "Gaijin! Gaijin!"
|_|_|_| |\-++- |===| / / Bainbridge Island, WA "Gaijin ha doko ka?"
--|-- /| |||| |___| /\ USA 98110-2098 "Niichan ha gaijin."
/|\ | |/\| _______ / \ "Chigau. Gaijin ja nai. Omae ha gaijin darou"
/ | \ | |__| / \ / \"Iie, boku ha nihonjin." "Souka. Yappari gaijin!"
Hee, dakedo UNIX nanka wo tsukatte, umaku ikanaku temo shiranai yo.

Charley Wingate

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Jul 10, 1990, 7:45:53 PM7/10/90
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Mark Crispin writes:

>I remain totally unconvinced that JC was a historical personage. At best, I
>might be persuaded that JC was put together out of bits and pieces of
>various "holy men" (a.k.a. gurus, a.k.a. faith healers, a.k.a. cult
>leaders, a.k.a. quacks), of which there seem to have been many wandering
>around Palestine at the time. Perhaps "Monty Python's Life of Brian" is
>closer to historical truth than the "Gospels".

Perhaps, but I don't think so. What proof do you have there such a process
ever happened?

Frankly, I smell a rationalization.
--
C. Wingate + "I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity
+ by invocation of the same
man...@cs.umd.edu + the Three in One, and One in Three."
mimsy!mangoe +

btif...@pbs.org

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Jul 12, 1990, 1:57:58 PM7/12/90
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In article <4b8c0bc...@apollo.HP.COM>, pe...@apollo.HP.COM
(Jim Perry) writes:

> In article <49...@milton.u.washington.edu> m...@Tomobiki-Cho.CAC.Washington.EDU (Mark Crispin) writes:
>>In article <4b8341f...@apollo.HP.COM> pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim Perry) writes:
>>> I'm willing to accept that there is evidence
>>>that Jesus existed and said and did something like what survives in the
>>>Gospels...

>>>I didn't mean to imply that some Pauline cabal cynically invented the whole
>>>story.
>>
>>Perhaps Jim Perry does not, but I do. I remain totally unconvinced
>>that JC was a historical personage. At best, I might be persuaded
>>that JC was put together out of bits and pieces of various "holy men"
>> [...]

>>There were plenty of reasons for the Paulines to have invented the
>>story. Fanatic nationalism and religious cults often go hand-in-hand.
>
> I don't rule this out, but it's more radical than necessary: now someone will
> pop up with a reference to Josephus and claim "aha! see: it's all true!" I do
> believe that Paul and his successors put a great deal of their own
> interpretation on the [supposed, if you prefer] life and death of Christ, but
> it doesn't really matter to me whether they invented the whole thing.

It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

/\ I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power
____/__\____ of God for salvation to every one who believes, to the
\ / || \ / Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the
\/--++--\/ righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith;
/\ || /\ as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live
/ \ || / \ by faith."
----\--/---- -- Romans 1:16-17
\/ -- Bruce Tiffany

Mark Crispin

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Jul 12, 1990, 5:28:08 PM7/12/90
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In article <9528.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.

Quite a few more than those listed in the gospels died on Guyana,
drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid in their final sacrifice to a hoax
(Jim Jones and the People's Temple). This included children, many of
whom resisted and tried to escape; all were caught and physically
forced to drink the poison.

David Hammerslag

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Jul 12, 1990, 6:01:47 PM7/12/90
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In article <50...@milton.u.washington.edu>,
m...@Tomobiki-Cho.CAC.Washington.EDU (Mark Crispin) writes:

|> Perhaps it was quite convincing to the superstitious minds of the
|> time. Remember that Christianity did not get a hold in the Roman
|> Empire until the society had already started collapsing. Before that
|> time, with high standards of education (and hygiene), the Romans
|> considered Christianity to be absurd.

Hmmm, which is it that causes me to believe: poor hygiene or not enough
education? How to decide? I bathe most days, I have lot of degrees...

|> In article <4b8c0bc...@apollo.HP.COM> pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim
Perry) writes:
|> >A religious zealot appears and gathers a
|> >considerable following through faith healing and minor miracles,
claiming to
|> >speak for God. These followers are so devoted that many would later
be willing
|> >to die for their faith in him.
|> >He sufficiently aggravates the religious establishment of the time
that they
|> >have him put to death.

|> There's a problem with all of this. First, Palestine was filled with
|> religious zealots at the time, each spouting forth his own particular
|> heresies of one established religion or another. Second, the Jewish
|> religious establishment of the time did not have the power to issue
|> death sentences.

Where is the problem? Perry didn't claim that the Jews carried out
the execution.

|> It just doesn't wash. JC did *nothing* that the Romans would be
|> interested in; and in fact was wimpy as religious fanatics go. Both
|> the Romans and the Jewish religious establishment would be more
|> inclined to ignore him, or at most bar him and his followers from the
|> temple at Jerusalem.

John's Gospel in particular tells us that the Jews sought a way to
kill Jesus, tried to arrest him a number of times, and tried to stone
him at least once. As for the Romans, Jesus' messianic claims and his
ability to incite the crowds would not have endeared him to the
Romans. One of Pilate's chief responsibilities was to keep the peace and
collect taxes.

|> In either case, note that JC's followers were a coalition of Jewish
|> heretics and various pagans, mostly drawn from the lowest and least
|> educated classes, who had a grudge not only against the colonial Roman
|> government but also against the well-to-do and educated classes among
|> the Jews.

I don't know that we know very much about very many early Christians.
We have some fishermen, a tax collector, a former prostitute, a
Pharisee, a member or two of the Jewish council, and a physician, just
to name a few off the top of my head. From where are you getting your
information?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
David Hammerslag | Keep an open mind, but not so open that people
ham...@uicsrd.csrd.uiuc.edu | throw garbage in.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jim Perry

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Jul 12, 1990, 10:18:00 AM7/12/90
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>In article <4b8341f...@apollo.HP.COM> pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim Perry) writes:
>> I'm willing to accept that there is evidence
>>that Jesus existed and said and did something like what survives in the
>>Gospels...

>>I didn't mean to imply that some Pauline cabal cynically invented the whole
>>story.
>
>Perhaps Jim Perry does not, but I do. I remain totally unconvinced
>that JC was a historical personage. At best, I might be persuaded
>that JC was put together out of bits and pieces of various "holy men"
>(a.k.a. gurus, a.k.a. faith healers, a.k.a. cult leaders, a.k.a.
>quacks), of which there seem to have been many wandering around
>Palestine at the time. Perhaps "Monty Python's Life of Brian" is
>closer to historical truth than the "Gospels".
>
>There were plenty of reasons for the Paulines to have invented the
>story. Fanatic nationalism and religious cults often go hand-in-hand.

I don't rule this out, but it's more radical than necessary: now someone will


pop up with a reference to Josephus and claim "aha! see: it's all true!" I do
believe that Paul and his successors put a great deal of their own
interpretation on the [supposed, if you prefer] life and death of Christ, but
it doesn't really matter to me whether they invented the whole thing.

Essentially, if the whole thing were a complete fabrication, I'd expect it to
be more convincing (admittedly this begs the question of why it has convinced
so many people, but so does the National Enquirer). I can read the Gospels and
believe that something substantially like the events it describes occurred
without believing them as Truth. A religious zealot appears and gathers a


considerable following through faith healing and minor miracles, claiming to
speak for God. These followers are so devoted that many would later be willing

to die for their faith in him. No problem: so far this describes Jim Jones,
among a great many others, so there's nothing unusual or supernatural about it.


He sufficiently aggravates the religious establishment of the time that they

have him put to death. Standard religious practice ;-). Later, once his
followers had carried away his body, it apparently disappeared, and some of his
followers later claimed to have seen him alive (complete with wounds) for an
indeterminate period before he disappeared entirely. The details on this phase
of the story are unclear and somewhat in conflict, but not convincing to me as
a miraculous event: there are several much less radical interpretations of the
same material, as presented. I guess the point is that given that a reasonable
person can disbelieve in the Godness of Christ even accepting the biblical
sources as historically relevant, why spend time arguing about those sources?

btif...@pbs.org

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Jul 13, 1990, 9:13:45 AM7/13/90
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In article <S`T$~S...@rpi.edu>, mitt...@ral.rpi.edu (Michael Mittmann) writes:
> In article <9528.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>>
>> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.
>>
> Off hand,
> Jim Jones.
> Ayatohla Komenhi (sp?)
> Hitler.
> The Bagwhan Shree Rashneesh (the guy who had the comunity in Oregon)
> Charles Manson
> Rev. Moon
>
> These all had a lot more than 12 people who did, or were willing to die for
> them. Does that prove that what they said was true?

You TOTALLY missed what I said. I said:

>> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.

In article <50...@milton.u.washington.edu>,
m...@Tomobiki-Cho.CAC.Washington.EDU (Mark Crispin) writes:


> In article <9528.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.
>

> Quite a few more than those listed in the gospels died on Guyana,
> drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid in their final sacrifice to a hoax
> (Jim Jones and the People's Temple). This included children, many of
> whom resisted and tried to escape; all were caught and physically
> forced to drink the poison.

It never ceases to amaze me that precisely the people who claim to be
so "rational" and appear to think of themselves as more intelligent than we
neaderthals who believe in God can misconstrue clear statements so easily.
Or maybe you're not as dumb as you seem; maybe you just do it on purpose to
try to dominate the debate.
Can you not see that the people who committed suicide BELIEVED the
hoax? To them it was not hoax. The disciples are alleged to have perpetrated
a hoax, for which they were willing to die, KNOWING it was a hoax! None of
them committed suicide, either.

Since this issue appears to be so readily misunderstood (unless you
guys really are perverting what I said on purpose), I'll also include some of
what I said to Paul Hager in e-mail concerning the issue.
===========================================================================
You have changed the meaning of what I said. People who died in
a jihad, or for the Japanese emperor, were fully convinced that they were
dying for a good thing. They died on purpose, too. This differs in 2 ways:

(1) Christian martyrs aren't suicidal. Given their druthers, they would
prefer NOT to be shot, flayed alive, burned at the stake, torn by lions,
imprisoned and beaten for years on end, have their children taken away never
to be seen again, etc., as has happened right down to this day. They are
WILLING to, rather than deny the Lord.

(2) In the case of the disciples and Paul, the men I was specifically
referring to, they have been charged here with perpetrating a hoax -- stealing
Jesus' body, etc. If this were true, then they knew Jesus hadn't risen from
the dead. To think that they would be willing to die horrible deaths for
a hoax they perpetrated -- for something they could not have believed in
themselves, even if they had managed to fool others -- seems to me to be
completely irrational.

Mark Crispin

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Jul 12, 1990, 5:10:14 PM7/12/90
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In article <4b8c0bc...@apollo.HP.COM> pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim Perry) writes:
>Essentially, if the whole thing were a complete fabrication, I'd expect it to
>be more convincing

Perhaps it was quite convincing to the superstitious minds of the


time. Remember that Christianity did not get a hold in the Roman
Empire until the society had already started collapsing. Before that
time, with high standards of education (and hygiene), the Romans
considered Christianity to be absurd.

>A religious zealot appears and gathers a


>considerable following through faith healing and minor miracles, claiming to
>speak for God. These followers are so devoted that many would later be willing
>to die for their faith in him.

>He sufficiently aggravates the religious establishment of the time that they
>have him put to death.

There's a problem with all of this. First, Palestine was filled with


religious zealots at the time, each spouting forth his own particular
heresies of one established religion or another. Second, the Jewish
religious establishment of the time did not have the power to issue
death sentences.

Only the Roman government had this power. Stripping the Jewish
religious establishment of such power probably greatly reduced(!) the
number of executions in Palestine. The Romans, like Western colonial
powers in the 19th century, were not adverse to using the death
penalty to eliminate barbarous local practices (e.g. the British
hanged wife-burners in India in spite of local objections; it wasn't
until the British left that wife-burning returned to India), but
eliminated the death penalty for acts that were, at most, infractions
(and often not crimes at all) in a civilized society.

The gospels admit this weakness, and, in the most anti-Judiac part of
Christian dogma, blame JC's crucifiction on pressure from a purported
Jewish mob.

It just doesn't wash. JC did *nothing* that the Romans would be
interested in; and in fact was wimpy as religious fanatics go. Both
the Romans and the Jewish religious establishment would be more
inclined to ignore him, or at most bar him and his followers from the
temple at Jerusalem.

This leaves a couple of possibilities:

1) JC is mythical, an invention of anti-Roman revolutionaries, drawn
from Jewish, Greek, and other pagan sources as a god-to-replace-
all-other-gods. This is my belief. [Note: I *believe* that JC
is totally mythical. This is different from *non-belief* in god.]

2) JC is a largely ficticious account of the life of a revolutionary
martyr, who was executed by the Romans for seditious and/or
terrorist activities.

In either case, note that JC's followers were a coalition of Jewish
heretics and various pagans, mostly drawn from the lowest and least
educated classes, who had a grudge not only against the colonial Roman
government but also against the well-to-do and educated classes among
the Jews.

_____ | ____ ___|___ /__ Mark Crispin, 206 842-2385, R90/6 pilot, DoD#0105

Jim Perry

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Jul 13, 1990, 10:20:00 AM7/13/90
to
In article <50...@milton.u.washington.edu> m...@Tomobiki-Cho.CAC.Washington.EDU (Mark Crispin) writes:
>In article <4b8c0bc...@apollo.HP.COM> pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim Perry) writes:
>>Essentially, if the whole thing were a complete fabrication, I'd expect it to
>>be more convincing
>
>Perhaps it was quite convincing to the superstitious minds of the
>time. Remember that Christianity did not get a hold in the Roman
>Empire until the society had already started collapsing. Before that
>time, with high standards of education (and hygiene), the Romans
>considered Christianity to be absurd.

This seems a bit of a cheap shot: the Romans with their high standards of
education and hygiene were not rationalistic atheists, but had their own
pantheon of supernatural deities and superstitious rituals. The collapse of
the empire may have encouraged them to consider alternative deities (the world
is ending soon and our god can save you). Still, if I were inventing a god
from whole cloth (or even knowingly assembling one from a hodgepodge of myths)
I think I could do better on the details of the story. Sure the basic mythic
elements of the sacrifice of the god/king were around, but if I were composing
the resurrection story I'd try to be a little clearer on what actually
happened, and make it a little more grandiose. As a zealot would tell the
story it has some oomph: "we/they killed our god and on the third day he rose
from the dead and blessed our church and ascended into heaven, and he'll be
back real soon now", but what's actually in the Gospels is much more ambiguous.
The tomb is found empty, some sort of messenger nearby announces that he's
risen, and Jesus is said to have appeared elsewhere in various contexts before
vanishing in various ways.

>There's a problem with all of this. [The Jews would have to get the Romans,
>who would be disinterested, to do the executing]

Good point, but the Gospels do seem to show that the Jews went to some effort
to do just that, and that JC went to considerable effort to annoy the
priesthood. This doesn't make all that much sense for a god, but an
antiestablishment zealot seeking followers among, as you say, the lower class
uneducated people, might do so. Would a falsifier make up details like that?
Is crucifixion by reluctant Romans inherently better martyr material than
stoning by Jews (good enough for Stephen?)

>This leaves a couple of possibilities:
>
>1) JC is mythical, an invention of anti-Roman revolutionaries, drawn
> from Jewish, Greek, and other pagan sources as a god-to-replace-
> all-other-gods. This is my belief. [Note: I *believe* that JC
> is totally mythical. This is different from *non-belief* in god.]
>
>2) JC is a largely ficticious account of the life of a revolutionary
> martyr, who was executed by the Romans for seditious and/or
> terrorist activities.
>
>In either case, note that JC's followers were a coalition of Jewish
>heretics and various pagans, mostly drawn from the lowest and least
>educated classes, who had a grudge not only against the colonial Roman
>government but also against the well-to-do and educated classes among
>the Jews.

I'm not sure I see the connection; such are the people likely to join a cult
movement, whether we're talking about a messianic faith healer or a fictitious
martyr. Frankly I haven't decided what the most likely "true story" of the
rise of Christianity is, but I don't consider the Gospels incompatible with the
life and death of an actual person. Cults don't require much justification,
and it seems conceivable that Paul latched onto the furor over the mysterious
disappearance of the body of a faith healer to form/further his own cult (not
necessarily in that calculated a fashion, of course: he quite likely actually
believed in it, but he certainly left his own imprint, such as his obsession
with sexuality as sinful).

Beyond this of course we could get into textual justification and alternate
historical evidence, and so on, but I see no point in further speculation at
this level.

Scott Gibson

unread,
Jul 13, 1990, 10:54:19 AM7/13/90
to
In article <9528.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>
> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.

Tell it to Jim Jones.


Scott

Michael Mittmann

unread,
Jul 13, 1990, 11:11:20 AM7/13/90
to
In article <9543.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>In article <S`T$~S...@rpi.edu>, mitt...@ral.rpi.edu (Michael Mittmann) writes:
>> In article <9528.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>>>
>>> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>>>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.
>>>
>> Off hand,
>> Jim Jones.
>> Ayatohla Komenhi (sp?)
>> Hitler.
>> The Bagwhan Shree Rashneesh (the guy who had the comunity in Oregon)
>> Charles Manson
>> Rev. Moon
>>
> You TOTALLY missed what I said. I said:
>
>>> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>>>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.
>
> Can you not see that the people who committed suicide BELIEVED the
>hoax? To them it was not hoax. The disciples are alleged to have perpetrated
>a hoax, for which they were willing to die, KNOWING it was a hoax! None of
>them committed suicide, either.
>
>(2) In the case of the disciples and Paul, the men I was specifically
>referring to, they have been charged here with perpetrating a hoax -- stealing
>Jesus' body, etc. If this were true, then they knew Jesus hadn't risen from
>the dead. To think that they would be willing to die horrible deaths for
>a hoax they perpetrated -- for something they could not have believed in
>themselves, even if they had managed to fool others -- seems to me to be
>completely irrational.
>

I would claim (although I have no evidence to back it up) that when Jim
Jones did his "miracles" he had other people involved in perpetrating the
hoax, yet they all died.

Additionally I do believe in self hyphnosis. I think that if I decided
today to believe in god, and spent two hours a day reciting how I wanted
god to help me, and how much I believed in him I would
1) eventually believe in god.
2) remember today as a day when I was first inspired by faith.
3) have convinced myself that it wasn't self hyphnosis.

Likewise I believe that If I spent much of my life going around saying
"then he rose from the dead" arguing with people that it realy happened,
getting great acclaim for being involved in it, staked my reputation on it,
and eventually started risking my life for claiming this I would believe
it.

This may seem ridiculous to you, but doesn't seem like it to me.
My best time for a mile was 5:17, which I did about 8 years ago,
in spite of the fact that I know that I have a tendancy to exagerate
my own deeds I keep remembering this time as a 5 minute mile, and
it is only because I conciously go back and check that I remember
that it was 5:17. If I would've had a strong need to have a good
mile time I probably would've convinced myself that it was 5:00 long
ago, and be working my way down to 4:40.


> \/ -- Bruce Tiffany

-mike

Michael Mittmann

unread,
Jul 12, 1990, 4:16:38 PM7/12/90
to
In article <9528.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>
> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.
>
Off hand,
Jim Jones.
Ayatohla Komenhi (sp?)
Hitler.
The Bagwhan Shree Rashneesh (the guy who had the comunity in Oregon)
Charles Manson
Rev. Moon

These all had a lot more than 12 people who did, or were willing to die for


them. Does that prove that what they said was true?

-mike

Jim Perry

unread,
Jul 13, 1990, 12:59:00 PM7/13/90
to
Bruce,

>>> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>>>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.

You're right, while people have demonstrably been known to die for a cause they
believed in, it's harder to understand why people would do so for a cause they
knew to be false. However, you've admitted that people have died for causes
that they believed in and yet which were in fact false (Jim Jones faked faith
healing by claiming to pull "tumors" from the mouths of victims; these were
chunks of meat previously concealed in a handkerchief).

From examining this thread I can't tell which hoax you think is being
suggested. I said something to the effect that there are non-supernatural
possible explanations for the belief in the resurrection of Jesus, but didn't
go into details. One such explanation is that all of the disciples conspired
to hide the body and concoct the resurrection story. Another is that the body
was simply lost or hidden, by a single individual, (perhaps Joseph), perhaps to
prevent desecration. Yet another is that Jesus didn't die on the cross, but
survived for a time, long enough to talk a little with his followers and take a
little food, perhaps. Yet another is that the body was carried off by zealous
cultists (but not the disciples, and unknown to them), in the sort of zealotry
that occurred at the funeral of Khomeini.

From the evidence in the Gospels, I favor the survival theory, but any of the
above will do to explain the empty tomb. An empty tomb can easily be
expected to spark resurrection stories, since Jesus was a prophet of
resurrection and may have implied his own. His appearance to his followers
could be explained by a delusion, which would explain their strange nature and
descrepant accounts. On the other hand, if he lived for a while, this would
still count as "rising from the dead" if the followers thought he died on the
cross; that he might be sickly, even dying, wouldn't matter, the miracle
occurred. This too would explain some of the strange nature of his appearances
and the discrepant accounts of the ascension, and would explain the emphasis on
the wounds.

Some of these explanations involve more of a hoax than others. If the "swoon
theory" were true, it would not necessarily involve any hoax on anyone's part.
On the other hand, even if it were a complete hoax involving all the disciples,
they still might have done it (for the same motives as a Jim Jones) and made
lots of converts; whether they believed they were justified by some holy end or
were simply out for power, having made their bed they had to lie in it. (Jones
died too).

What you have to remember is that while you may find some of these speculations
unlikely and unconvincing, your position is that Jesus was the personification
of God, the omnipotent creator of the universe. This is your prerogative, and
obviously your deep-felt belief, but strictly as an explanation of the empty
tomb, it's much more outlandish than any of the other proposals.

btif...@pbs.org

unread,
Jul 13, 1990, 3:47:25 PM7/13/90
to
In article <4b91a2d...@apollo.HP.COM>,

pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim Perry) writes:
> Bruce,
>
>>>> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>>>>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.
>
> You're right, while people have demonstrably been known to die for a cause they
> believed in, it's harder to understand why people would do so for a cause they
> knew to be false. However, you've admitted that people have died for causes
> that they believed in and yet which were in fact false (Jim Jones faked faith
> healing by claiming to pull "tumors" from the mouths of victims; these were
> chunks of meat previously concealed in a handkerchief).
>
> From examining this thread I can't tell which hoax you think is being
> suggested. I said something to the effect that there are non-supernatural
> possible explanations for the belief in the resurrection of Jesus, but didn't
> go into details. One such explanation is that all of the disciples conspired
> to hide the body and concoct the resurrection story. Another is that the body
> was simply lost or hidden, by a single individual, (perhaps Joseph), perhaps to
> prevent desecration. Yet another is that Jesus didn't die on the cross, but
> survived for a time, long enough to talk a little with his followers and take a
> little food, perhaps. Yet another is that the body was carried off by zealous
> cultists (but not the disciples, and unknown to them), in the sort of zealotry
> that occurred at the funeral of Khomeini.

I meant that if the disciples were involved in perpetrating a hoax
about the resurrection, it would be unbelievable that they would die the
terrible deaths they did rather than retract what they were saying. My point
is that they obviously believed Jesus was alive. I was not making any point
further than that.

> From the evidence in the Gospels, I favor the survival theory, but any of the
> above will do to explain the empty tomb.

Actually, all of the above have been pretty well disproven by others --
no need to go into it hear. (No way could a person survive the preparation of
the body for burial if not already dead, for example.)

>An empty tomb can easily be
> expected to spark resurrection stories, since Jesus was a prophet of
> resurrection and may have implied his own. His appearance to his followers
> could be explained by a delusion, which would explain their strange nature and
> descrepant accounts. On the other hand, if he lived for a while, this would
> still count as "rising from the dead" if the followers thought he died on the
> cross; that he might be sickly, even dying, wouldn't matter, the miracle
> occurred. This too would explain some of the strange nature of his appearances
> and the discrepant accounts of the ascension, and would explain the emphasis on
> the wounds.

I don't think there is any discrepancy in the resurrection accounts.

> Some of these explanations involve more of a hoax than others. If the "swoon
> theory" were true, it would not necessarily involve any hoax on anyone's part.
> On the other hand, even if it were a complete hoax involving all the disciples,
> they still might have done it (for the same motives as a Jim Jones) and made
> lots of converts; whether they believed they were justified by some holy end or
> were simply out for power, having made their bed they had to lie in it. (Jones
> died too).

Jones committed suicide rather than face the consequences of what he
had done, once the jig was up. The disciples were tortured and died. I see
a big difference.

Mark Crispin

unread,
Jul 13, 1990, 5:05:12 PM7/13/90
to
> Can you not see that the people who committed suicide BELIEVED the
>hoax? To them it was not hoax. The disciples are alleged to have perpetrated
>a hoax, for which they were willing to die, KNOWING it was a hoax! None of
>them committed suicide, either.

Jim Jones committed suicide along with his followers. He perpetrated
the hoax.

Quite a few adherants of Nazism died for its mythos, including those
who were around in its beginning and knew that Nazi mythology was a
hoax. Not all the Nazis who died for Nazism committed suicide.

They built their own Valhalla, and when the time came they burned "in
glory" along with it.

The JC apostles were no different.

Don't forget Jim & Tammy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert. They are still
living their hoaxes.

Richard Caley

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Jul 13, 1990, 8:59:34 PM7/13/90
to
In article <1990Jul12....@csrd.uiuc.edu> ham...@sp29.csrd.uiuc.edu (David Hammerslag) writes:

John's Gospel in particular tells us that the Jews sought a way to
kill Jesus, tried to arrest him a number of times, and tried to stone
him at least once.

This phrasing is saying something you probably don't mean. The gospels
say that some parts of the Jewish religious establishment were trying
to kill him. Let's not rake up deicide(sp?) here, besides there is no
evidence of his being suicidal:-).

As for the Romans, Jesus' messianic claims and his
ability to incite the crowds would not have endeared him to the
Romans. One of Pilate's chief responsibilities was to keep the peace and
collect taxes.

Actually I'd say the oposite, one of the ways in which the gospels
hang together is that Jesus is portrayed as being very careful _not_
to incite the Romans, ``Render unto Caeser'' and all that, and then
Pilate doesn't want to get involved A more dramatic story might have
been his standing up to the might of Rome and being martyred for it,
make a much better movie.

Now this could equally well be the result of Jesus ( be he political
leader, holy man, profit, God's sun whatever ) knowing how to operate
in the presence of a very powerful entity ( Rome ) or of someone who
was making the whole thing up having similar knowledge.

``Hey guys, were just trying to set up a little religion here, not
working against the Empire. Honest.''

Or, of course, it could be selection pressure. Those cults which
did glorify standing against Rome got flattened.

--
r...@uk.ac.ed.cstr ``I'm a young man at odds with the Bible,
But I don't pretend faith never works,
When we're down on our knees,
preying at the bus stop.
Hallelujah!''
- Tin Machine `Bus Stop'

Paul Hager

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Jul 14, 1990, 11:29:50 AM7/14/90
to
btif...@pbs.org writes:

> Since this issue appears to be so readily misunderstood (unless you
>guys really are perverting what I said on purpose), I'll also include some of
>what I said to Paul Hager in e-mail concerning the issue.
>===========================================================================
> You have changed the meaning of what I said. People who died in
>a jihad, or for the Japanese emperor, were fully convinced that they were
>dying for a good thing. They died on purpose, too. This differs in 2 ways:

>(1) Christian martyrs aren't suicidal. Given their druthers, they would
>prefer NOT to be shot, flayed alive, burned at the stake, torn by lions,
>imprisoned and beaten for years on end, have their children taken away never
>to be seen again, etc., as has happened right down to this day. They are
>WILLING to, rather than deny the Lord.

Seeing as this has been taken into the public forum, I think I should
respond. He dismissed two of my examples, I guess, because they
involved warfare. Of course, soldiers don't want to die either but
Mr. Tiffany eliminates them from consideration by saying they're
suicidal.

Let's focus in on this. What Mr. Tiffany is arguing is that people
who die for a cause passively and non-violently must BELIEVE they
are right. I never disagreed with this premise. What I have
disagreed with is Mr. Tiffany's oft implied and sometime stated
assumption that such strong belief equates to the belief being
true. It is this latter assumption of Mr. Tiffany's that I question.
All that is required to invalidate it is to find one person who
either died for something we know is wrong, or even simpler, find
two people who died for opposing beliefs. In the latter case, it
is clear that one set of beliefs must perforce be wrong.

Jews do not believe in the divinity of Christ. They have been
persecuted throughout the centuries. They have been killed,
disenfranchised, harrassed, beaten, driven out, etc., etc., etc.
They have been "given" the option of converting to Christianity --
some did, most did not. That Christians have been responsible
for most of this treatment is not germane. I put it to you that
these people BELIEVED they were right. But if they were right
then the Christian's were wrong -- that goes a long way to explain
the persecutions. It is true that some Jews did opt out -- did
convert and "assimilate". But all of the rest were so convinced
that they were willing to suffer and die for their beliefs. This
has been much longer lived and merciless a persecution for beliefs
than anything Christians have ever had to endure -- using Mr.
Tiffany's system of valuation I would have to say that the Jews
are right and the Christians are wrong.

For the cognitive impaired I will restate the argument in simple
terms:

If martyrs exist for two opposing belief systems,
at least one of them must be wrong.

Conclusion: martyrdom is insufficient to determine
the truth of a belief system.

>(2) In the case of the disciples and Paul, the men I was specifically
>referring to, they have been charged here with perpetrating a hoax -- stealing
>Jesus' body, etc. If this were true, then they knew Jesus hadn't risen from
>the dead. To think that they would be willing to die horrible deaths for
>a hoax they perpetrated -- for something they could not have believed in
>themselves, even if they had managed to fool others -- seems to me to be
>completely irrational.

As I told Mr. Tiffany, I assume that Jesus either was historical
or based on someone(s) historical and was not a "hoax" -- at least
in the narrow sense indicated above. I also told Mr. Tiffany, I
think a better explanation for the gospel accounts is the
telling and retelling of stories and rumors which were embellished
with each retelling until we emerged with the Jesus story in the
familiar form we know today.

I should also point out that people may not state the REAL reason
why they die. One could just as plausibly argue that a group
of men who were religious and political zealots DID perpetrate
a hoax to empower the local populace and get them to resist the
colonial forces. If it was THAT that they were willing to die
for, to admit the hoax would be to undermine the goal. With the
obvious failure of the political movement to gel, their stories,
which were being spread by word of mouth, would have been
transmogrified away from the revolutionary message. I think it
could be argued that the vestiges of the political message
still remain (I think Dr. Hugh Shonefeld, in his writings, has made
just such an argument). I don't subscribe to this argument
but it has been made -- the point being that even if the
disciples died in the manners the STORIES say, they may have
had a hidden agenda they carried to their graves.

--
paul hager hag...@iuvax.cs.indiana.edu

"I would give the Devil benefit of the law for my own safety's sake."
--from _A_Man_for_All_Seasons_ by Robert Bolt

Sudheer Apte

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Jul 14, 1990, 1:50:32 PM7/14/90
to
m...@Tomobiki-Cho.CAC.Washington.EDU (Mark Crispin) writes:

> ... The Romans, like Western colonial powers in the 19th century,


> were not adverse to using the death penalty to eliminate barbarous
> local practices (e.g. the British hanged wife-burners in India in
> spite of local objections; it wasn't until the British left that

> wife-burning returned to India)...

Just to set the record straight, wife-burning is murder by the Indian
Penal Code, and it has been for a very long time. The social reasons
for this repulsive phenomenon are complex, and efforts were being made
to change social conditions by reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy from
the nineteenth century onwards. So it is not correct that the British
eliminated the problem or that it "returned" after independence. The
incidents that still occur sporadically cause front-page news today;
unfortunately making an act a crime doesn't eliminate it entirely :-(

Thanks,
Sudheer.
-----------------
...{harvard, uunet}!andrew.cmu.edu!sa1z
sa1z%and...@CMCCVB.BITNET

Graham Matthews

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Jul 14, 1990, 10:47:43 PM7/14/90
to
In <9553.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:

> I meant that if the disciples were involved in perpetrating a hoax
>about the resurrection, it would be unbelievable that they would die the
>terrible deaths they did rather than retract what they were saying. My point
>is that they obviously believed Jesus was alive. I was not making any point
>further than that.

If the disciples thought they were going to be killed anyhow, regardless of
whether or not they retracted what they were going to say, then they might as
well retract nothing and die the heroes death.

graham

David Ash

unread,
Jul 15, 1990, 1:41:00 AM7/15/90
to
In article <9543.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:

>(2) In the case of the disciples and Paul, the men I was specifically
>referring to, they have been charged here with perpetrating a hoax -- stealing
>Jesus' body, etc. If this were true, then they knew Jesus hadn't risen from
>the dead. To think that they would be willing to die horrible deaths for
>a hoax they perpetrated -- for something they could not have believed in
>themselves, even if they had managed to fool others -- seems to me to be
>completely irrational.

But how do you know that something else didn't happen to JC's body, other than
the disciples taking it? i.e. maybe someone else took it, for reasons which
have been lost over time. You're placing a lot of faith in this one aspect of
things, and I think the better explanation is that the disciples somehow were
fooled into truly believing in JC's divinity. It is true that I don't have
a precise explanation as to how this happened, but many people have been
fooled in many ways over the years, and I think it more likely that JC's
disciples were fooled than that JC rose again from the dead.
--
David W. Ash
a...@sumex-aim.stanford.edu
HOME: (415) 497-1629
WORK: (415) 725-3859

Matthew Hannigan

unread,
Jul 15, 1990, 8:48:02 PM7/15/90
to
In article <9528.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
.. regarding the apostles and the veracity of the Bible ..

> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.
> \/ -- Bruce Tiffany

Well, the same document that tells you the hoax, also tells
you that they died. If it is wrong in one, then it's most
likely wrong on the other.

Anyway, I (for one) don't find anything incredible about people
dying for religion, hoax or not. All that's necessary is have
faith, and you'll be willing to die for it.

For what it's worth, I think the new testament is largely true,
except for the magical bits of course. Well, at least as true
as say Homer's Oddyssey (sp?), or at least as untrue. :-)

-Matt

btif...@pbs.org

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Jul 16, 1990, 8:38:14 AM7/16/90
to
In article <AWT$ZD*@rpi.edu>, mitt...@ral.rpi.edu (Michael Mittmann) writes:

> In article <9543.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>>>> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>>>>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.
>>
> This may seem ridiculous to you ...

It most certainly does. It takes more faith to believe that nonsense
than to believe Yeshua rose from the dead.

> ... but doesn't seem like it to me.

Maybe you've hypnotized yourself... :-)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

/\ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not
____/__\____ lean on your own understanding. In all your ways
\ / || \ / acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
\/--++--\/
/\ || /\ -- Proverbs 3:5-6
/ \ || / \
----\--/---- -- Bruce Tiffany
\/

btif...@pbs.org

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Jul 16, 1990, 8:57:12 AM7/16/90
to
Organization: PBS:Public Broadcasting Service, Alexandria, VA
Lines: 31

In article <graham.648010139@bizet>,
gra...@maths.su.oz.au (Graham Matthews) writes:


> In <9553.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>
>> I meant that if the disciples were involved in perpetrating a hoax
>>about the resurrection, it would be unbelievable that they would die the
>>terrible deaths they did rather than retract what they were saying. My point
>>is that they obviously believed Jesus was alive. I was not making any point
>>further than that.
>

> If the disciples thought they were going to be killed anyhow, regardless of
> whether or not they retracted what they were going to say, then they might as
> well retract nothing and die the heroes death.

**IF** they thought that, **THEN** YOUR OPINION is they might as well
die like heroes. You do not know they thought that (even so the kinds of
deaths most of them died would certainly have caused at least a FEW of them to
have mighty serious second thoughts about carrying on the charade any longer,
one would think); nor do you know they would decide to "die the heroes [sic]
death" if they did. You really haven't said anything of substance here.

btif...@pbs.org

unread,
Jul 16, 1990, 8:48:36 AM7/16/90
to
>> Can you not see that the people who committed suicide BELIEVED the
>>hoax? To them it was not hoax. The disciples are alleged to have perpetrated
>>a hoax, for which they were willing to die, KNOWING it was a hoax! None of
>>them committed suicide, either.
>
> Jim Jones committed suicide along with his followers. He perpetrated
> the hoax.
>
> Quite a few adherants of Nazism died for its mythos, including those
> who were around in its beginning and knew that Nazi mythology was a
> hoax. Not all the Nazis who died for Nazism committed suicide.
>
> They built their own Valhalla, and when the time came they burned "in
> glory" along with it.
>
> The JC apostles were no different.

Baloney. Or balogna, if you prefer. Jim Jones took the coward's way
out rather than face justice when the whole scam was blown. Most Nazis who
died in WW-II regarded themselves as German soldiers fighting for their
country and were not tortured to death for not renouncing Germany.
The disciples preached the gospel of the resurrection -- without the
resurrection, there is no gospel -- and if they did not believe it themselves,
it would be irrational to suppose they would suffer the way they did for most
of their lives on account of the message, and then die in terrible ways for it.
If you want to believe they would have because it makes you more comfortable
in your denial of Jesus, go right ahead. But don't come back in some other
thread arguing for the rationality of your position and the irrationality of
mine, because I for one will not buy it.

> Don't forget Jim & Tammy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert. They are still
> living their hoaxes.

Typical tactic of one who has no answer. These have nothing whatsoever
to do with men who died in faith, rather than renounce the "hoax" it has been
claimed they perpetrated. (I might as well start mentioning the names of some
Soviet politburo leaders and the things they've done and say, "There, so much
for your position." After all, they are atheists, aren't they? So they must
represent all atheists who ever lived!)

btif...@pbs.org

unread,
Jul 16, 1990, 9:08:05 AM7/16/90
to
In article <1990Jul16.0...@metro.ucc.su.OZ.AU>,

ma...@extro.ucc.su.OZ.AU (Matthew Hannigan) writes:
> In article <9528.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
> .. regarding the apostles and the veracity of the Bible ..
>> It seems incredible to me that all those men (except John, who lived to
>>an old age on the island of Patmos) would be willing to die for a hoax.
>> \/ -- Bruce Tiffany
>
> Well, the same document that tells you the hoax, also tells
> you that they died. If it is wrong in one, then it's most
> likely wrong on the other.

No, it doesn't. We know about their deaths from independent historical
sources.

> For what it's worth, I think the new testament is largely true,
> except for the magical bits of course. Well, at least as true
> as say Homer's Oddyssey (sp?), or at least as untrue. :-)

You probably don't realize the gaping hole you left open here in your
argument, and the temptation it is to blow you out of the water ... but, ah
well, forget it. I have a real paying job to attend to ... :-)

btif...@pbs.org

unread,
Jul 16, 1990, 9:03:17 AM7/16/90
to
In article <1990Jul15.0...@Neon.Stanford.EDU>,

This is a separate issue. Although I could go into many reasons why I
do not believe this happened, either, I won't. I was making a simple point in
refutation of the poster who theorized that the disciples stole the body and
thereby perpetrated a hoax. They would not have (knowingly) died for a hoax.
If you theorize that someone else stole the body (equally ridiculous, in my
opinion, but not what I was addressing), and the disciples were convinced of
the resurrection (they saw Him personally, after all -- that's pretty
convincing! It makes your argument a little less palatable, too.), then that
is another matter.

Michael Mittmann

unread,
Jul 16, 1990, 11:37:16 AM7/16/90
to
In article <9579.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:

>In article <AWT$ZD*@rpi.edu>, I (Michael Mittmann) write:
>>
>> Additionally I do believe in self hyphnosis. I think that if I decided
>> today to believe in god, and spent two hours a day reciting how I wanted
>> god to help me, and how much I believed in him I would
>> 1) eventually believe in god.
>> 2) remember today as a day when I was first inspired by faith.
>> 3) have convinced myself that it wasn't self hyphnosis.
>>
>> Likewise I believe that If I spent much of my life going around saying
>> "then he rose from the dead" arguing with people that it realy happened,
>> getting great acclaim for being involved in it, staked my reputation on it,
>> and eventually started risking my life for claiming this I would believe
>> it.
>>
>> This may seem ridiculous to you ...
>
> It most certainly does. It takes more faith to believe that nonsense
>than to believe Yeshua rose from the dead.
>

So you don't believe in self-hyphnosis?
How about other people doing it? If you don't believe in that how do
you explain people who are "brain-washed" in "cults"?

From my point of veiw resurection can't be explained within the rules
of the universe as I understand it, whereas people having delusions
can, so given a choice between one impossible event and 12 extremly
unlikely events, I would claim that the 12 possible ones happened.

To tell you the truth, I can't think of any set of events that were
reported to have happened 2000 years ago which would convince me that
God (in the christian sense) existed.

>> ... but doesn't seem like it to me.
>
> Maybe you've hypnotized yourself... :-)
>
>+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>
> /\ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not
>____/__\____ lean on your own understanding. In all your ways
>\ / || \ / acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
> \/--++--\/

Agreed, If I start with the assumption that God exists
and does things which don't necessarally make sense to
me, then the evidence which exists makes it fairly easy
to believe that God exists.

(un)Fortunatly the initial assumption just doesn't seem
reasonable to me.

>----\--/---- -- Bruce Tiffany
> \/

;-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-)
This posting has been a product of DabniCorp, and the spelling does
not represent the opinion of the Oxford unabridged dictionary, or any
other reputable lexographer.
DabniCorp-- We control your mind
- so you don't have to.
-mike

Jim Perry

unread,
Jul 16, 1990, 4:50:00 PM7/16/90
to
[disclaimer: I have some reason to suspect delivery problems, so I may not have
seen all relevant articles on this issue]

Also: I have used "cult" and "cultists" to describe the followers of the living
[pre-resurrection, if you prefer] Jesus; I'm not trying to offend, but
"Christian" is not coined until later and refers specifically to believers in
the resurrection. If there's a more palatable word, let me know. All quotes
NASV.

>> me
> Bruce Tiffany

>> [various speculations on alternative theories explaining an empty tomb]

>> From the evidence in the Gospels, I favor the survival theory, but any of the
>> above will do to explain the empty tomb.
>
> Actually, all of the above have been pretty well disproven by others --
>no need to go into it hear. (No way could a person survive the preparation of
>the body for burial if not already dead, for example.)

"Disproven" is an extremely loose term for the sorts of arguments (such as this
one) that I've seen advanced on this topic. First of all, the only evidence we
have at all is the 4 gospels, and those are hardly unbiased. I'll accept for
the sake of argument that these can, to the extent that the 4 agree, be taken
as some sort of argument for the historicity of the events described; that does
not mean that I'll accept that all four are literally true (I don't think this
is possible to argue, since they disagree on details), or that any of them are.

For instance, on this issue of whether and how Jesus was prepared for burial:
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke the body is simply wrapped in clean linen, in Mark
and Luke the women are explicitly returning to anoint the body when the empty
tomb is found, in John the body is wrapped in linen and spices, which might be
read as being "preparation for burial" but for the evidence of Mark and Luke,
but nowhere is any process such as embalming, evisceration, etc. implied (and
note that the resurrected Jesus is not made whole but retains His wounds, so
He'd probably be P.O.'d if they'd eviscerated Him).

Luke 23:52 [Joseph] went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 And he
took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into
the rock, where no one had ever lain. 54 And it was the preparation day and
the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 Now the women who had come with Him out of
Galilee followed after, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 and
they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested
according to the commandment. 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early
dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2
And they found the stone rolled away...

I'm afraid cast-off lines like "no need to go into it hear [sic]" tend to
reflect the weakness of the arguments they allude to. I've seen some of them
quoted in arguments like this one, or referenced in apologetics like
Montgomery's "History and Christianity" (I've been trying in vain to get my
hands on the McDowell "Evidence..." books for months without luck...).
Montgomery offers a variation on the Roman Efficiency argument, i.e. that the
Roman soldiers wouldn't botch a crucifixion because of their efficiency: "Roman
crucifixion teams knew their business (they had enough practice)". One simple
observation is that it's more likely that even a very efficient soldiery would
make a mistake than that a dead prisoner should come back to life from the
dead; somehow apologists tend to overlook that.

I believe the centurion in charge of the execution squad appears to have been
in collusion with the cultists:

Matthew 27:54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over
Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became
very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

Mark 15:39 And when the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw
the way He breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
...
44 And Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the
centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. 45 And
ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.

Luke 23:47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God,
saying "Certainly this man was innocent."

John doesn't mention the incident, and tells the story differently, with more
emphasis on events occurring in order to meet prophetic requirements, including
the division of Jesus's clothing and the unbroken legs and spear thrust. The
latter is often cited as conclusive proof of death: "but one of the soldiers
pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water."
Once again, it is more likely that a man could survive a spear thrust in the
side (if not for long) than that a man should come back from the dead. The
former has clearly happened, the latter is rare.

As to why the centurion would be collaborating: well, his comments are not
those of a good gods-fearing Roman polytheist, implying he might be on the side
of the cult. Again, he could simply have been bribed. Roman Efficiency
arguers will answer that Roman soldiers were above bribes or that Roman
discipline is strict; in answer to that consider Matthew 27:11-15, wherein the
priests, hearing of the empty tomb from the Roman guards, bribe those guards:
"they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, 'You are to say,
"His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep." And if
this should come to the governor's ears we will win him over and keep you out
of trouble."' And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and
this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day." Clearly
Roman soldiers were not above bribery, and there were clearly stories
circulating about the empty tomb being a hoax even at the time, stories that
the author of Matthew felt compelled to address, as again in Matthew 27:62-66.

Montgomery's second argument is that a swooned Jesus would be unable to move
the heavy stone by himself. This is probably true (but still it is more
likely that he could than that he was actually dead, came back to life, and
moved it by supernatural means), but does not preclude assistance, such as from
Joseph, who was alone [possibly with Nicodemus] in the tomb with Jesus and
could manifestly move the stone. (The women had followed and were there but
not in the tomb, they left and came back two days later, by which point the
body was gone).

I observe that these supposed refutations always seem to call in "common sense"
arguments, often to refute Biblical citations, in an odd twist. "The Romans
wouldn't let the cultists have Jesus's body", though the gospels all say they
did. "They wouldn't leave the tomb unguarded", but Matthew says they did (for
a day). "The disciples wouldn't be impressed by a half-dead man!": why not, if
they thought he was fully dead a couple of days ago? Some of them are actually
convinced by the wounds.

> I don't think there is any discrepancy in the resurrection accounts.

How many angels were present? Or was it men in white robes? Or does clean
laundry make one an angel? What, exactly, happened to Jesus? Show your work.

Mark Crispin

unread,
Jul 16, 1990, 6:10:30 PM7/16/90
to
In article <9583.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>I have a real paying job to attend to ...

Curious, about that. If Bruce Tiffany is typical of the sort of
people PBS is hiring, is it any wonder that PBS has gone so far
downhill?

Matthew Hannigan

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Jul 16, 1990, 7:47:37 PM7/16/90
to
In article <9583.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>In article <1990Jul16.0...@metro.ucc.su.OZ.AU>,
> ma...@extro.ucc.su.OZ.AU (Matthew Hannigan) writes:
>> For what it's worth, I think the new testament is largely true,
>> except for the magical bits of course. Well, at least as true
>> as say Homer's Oddyssey (sp?), or at least as untrue. :-)
>
> You probably don't realize the gaping hole you left open here in your
>argument, and the temptation it is to blow you out of the water ... but, ah
>well, forget it. I have a real paying job to attend to ... :-)
> \/ -- Bruce Tiffany


OK, what is the gaping hole? All I'm trying to say is that we
should have the same amount of skepticism towards all old stories.
My reference to the "magic bits" reflects my skeptic's attitude that
"extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence".
The Bible ain't extraordinary evidence.

Regards,
-Matt

Graham Matthews

unread,
Jul 16, 1990, 8:05:33 PM7/16/90
to
In <9580.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:

>Can you not see that the people who committed suicide BELIEVED the
>hoax? To them it was not hoax. The disciples are alleged to have perpetrated
>a hoax, for which they were willing to die, KNOWING it was a hoax! None of
>them committed suicide, either.
>>

Somone else:


>> Jim Jones committed suicide along with his followers. He perpetrated
>> the hoax.
>>

btiffany again:


> Baloney. Or balogna, if you prefer. Jim Jones took the coward's way
>out rather than face justice when the whole scam was blown. Most Nazis who
>died in WW-II regarded themselves as German soldiers fighting for their
>country and were not tortured to death for not renouncing Germany.

Someone else again:


>> Don't forget Jim & Tammy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert. They are still
>> living their hoaxes.
>
> Typical tactic of one who has no answer. These have nothing whatsoever
>to do with men who died in faith, rather than renounce the "hoax" it has been
>claimed they perpetrated. (I might as well start mentioning the names of some
>Soviet politburo leaders and the things they've done and say, "There, so much
>for your position." After all, they are atheists, aren't they? So they must
>represent all atheists who ever lived!)

You are shooting yourself in the foot here btiffany.
Since Jim Jones is dead how can you be sure that he committed suicide rather
than face justice when the whole scam was blown?

I would suggest that you cannot be sure and therefore your claims are bunk!
He might have died for his hoax - there are some strange people out there.

Your comments strike me as being the "typical tactic of one who has no facts".

graham

Graham Matthews

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Jul 16, 1990, 8:08:23 PM7/16/90
to
In <9580.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:

[stuff on Jim Jones deleted]

> The disciples preached the gospel of the resurrection -- without the
>resurrection, there is no gospel -- and if they did not believe it themselves,
>it would be irrational to suppose they would suffer the way they did for most
>of their lives on account of the message, and then die in terrible ways for it.
>If you want to believe they would have because it makes you more comfortable
>in your denial of Jesus, go right ahead. But don't come back in some other
>thread arguing for the rationality of your position and the irrationality of
>mine, because I for one will not buy it.

AS I pointed out in my last posting, you cannot be sure why Jim Jones
decided to die.

Therefore your claim that "if you want to believe that ... because it makes
you comfortable" can be applied equally well to your own statements.

This is what I meant last posting when I said you were shooting yourself
in the foot.

graham

Gaurang Hirpara

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Jul 16, 1990, 9:18:57 PM7/16/90
to

whew.

is this group a flame battlefield or something?

As you can guess i came in late, so can anyone summarize the
'proof' topic? I really can't tell from recent postings who is
on what sides, or more importantly, what the shadings on the
sides that do exist are.

~dan

btif...@pbs.org

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Jul 17, 1990, 9:08:06 AM7/17/90
to
Organization: PBS:Public Broadcasting Service, Alexandria, VA
Lines: 37

In article <1990Jul16.2...@metro.ucc.su.OZ.AU>,
ma...@extro.ucc.su.OZ.AU (Matthew Hannigan) writes:


> In article <9583.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>>In article <1990Jul16.0...@metro.ucc.su.OZ.AU>,
>> ma...@extro.ucc.su.OZ.AU (Matthew Hannigan) writes:
>>> For what it's worth, I think the new testament is largely true,
>>> except for the magical bits of course. Well, at least as true
>>> as say Homer's Oddyssey (sp?), or at least as untrue. :-)
>>
>> You probably don't realize the gaping hole you left open here in your
>>argument, and the temptation it is to blow you out of the water ... but, ah
>>well, forget it. I have a real paying job to attend to ... :-)

> OK, what is the gaping hole? All I'm trying to say is that we


> should have the same amount of skepticism towards all old stories.
> My reference to the "magic bits" reflects my skeptic's attitude that
> "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence".
> The Bible ain't extraordinary evidence.

It's simply too much to go into. I've spent too much time on this
already. I hate to let you down -- I'd like to be able to really get into
this. The hole to do with faulty methodology, not merely whether one can
believe the Bible. But I didn't intend to get off the subject. The central
thing I was saying: The apostles would not have died for a hoax. It has not
been refuted, or even scratched in subsequent postings. It's about time to
let it go.

btif...@pbs.org

unread,
Jul 17, 1990, 9:04:00 AM7/17/90
to
Organization: PBS:Public Broadcasting Service, Alexandria, VA
Lines: 45

In article <graham.648173310@bizet>,
gra...@maths.su.oz.au (Graham Matthews) writes:
> In <9580.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:

>> The disciples preached the gospel of the resurrection -- without the
>>resurrection, there is no gospel -- and if they did not believe it themselves,
>>it would be irrational to suppose they would suffer the way they did for most
>>of their lives on account of the message, and then die in terrible ways for it.
>>If you want to believe they would have because it makes you more comfortable
>>in your denial of Jesus, go right ahead. But don't come back in some other
>>thread arguing for the rationality of your position and the irrationality of
>>mine, because I for one will not buy it.
>

> AS I pointed out in my last posting, you cannot be sure why Jim Jones
> decided to die.

That makes no difference.

> Therefore your claim that "if you want to believe that ... because it makes
> you comfortable" can be applied equally well to your own statements.

I suppose so, but be that as it may (and I don't believe for comfort
sake, I guarantee you!), I would also say that it is much more reasonable to
assume that they apostles would NOT have died the way they did for a hoax, than
to believe they would. You have the weaker position.
The person who theorized that the disciples themselves may have been
tricked into BELIEVING a hoax had a much more rational and reasonable position
in this regard. Of course, there are gaping holes in that theory, too, but
I don't intend to digress.

> This is what I meant last posting when I said you were shooting yourself
> in the foot.

Better check your own foot.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

/\
____/__\____ Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth and
\ / || \ / the life; no one comes to the Father, but
\/--++--\/ through Me."
/\ || /\
/ \ || / \ -- John 14:6
----\--/----
\/ -- Bruce Tiffany

btif...@pbs.org

unread,
Jul 17, 1990, 8:58:51 AM7/17/90
to
Organization: PBS:Public Broadcasting Service, Alexandria, VA
Lines: 60

In article <graham.648172879@bizet>, gra...@maths.su.oz.au


(Graham Matthews) writes:
> In <9580.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:

>>> Jim Jones committed suicide along with his followers. He perpetrated
>>> the hoax.

>> Baloney. Or balogna, if you prefer. Jim Jones took the coward's way


>>out rather than face justice when the whole scam was blown. Most Nazis who
>>died in WW-II regarded themselves as German soldiers fighting for their
>>country and were not tortured to death for not renouncing Germany.
>

> Someone else again:


>>> Don't forget Jim & Tammy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert. They are still
>>> living their hoaxes.
>>
>> Typical tactic of one who has no answer. These have nothing whatsoever
>>to do with men who died in faith, rather than renounce the "hoax" it has been
>>claimed they perpetrated. (I might as well start mentioning the names of some
>>Soviet politburo leaders and the things they've done and say, "There, so much
>>for your position." After all, they are atheists, aren't they? So they must
>>represent all atheists who ever lived!)
>

> You are shooting yourself in the foot here btiffany.

> Since Jim Jones is dead how can you be sure that he committed suicide rather
> than face justice when the whole scam was blown?

I can't be positive. Admittedly, it's only an opinion.

> I would suggest that you cannot be sure and therefore your claims are bunk!
> He might have died for his hoax - there are some strange people out there.

You're entitled to think so. I think the man was insane, so even if
that were true, an insane man might die for a hoax. The apostles were not
insane, they were very much sane, and I still find it irrational to believe
they would knowingly die for a hoax. If you don't find it hard to believe
that they would, that's fine with me. My original statement, which no one
has yet refuted, is that I find it hard to believe the apostles would die for
a hoax. Furthermore, I think it serves the purpose of many in this group to
hope that they would.

> Your comments strike me as being the "typical tactic of one who has no facts".

This is unwarranted. The things I'm reading in this thread indicated to
me that most people are theorizing al kinds of things when they really know
very little about the history in question. But that makes no difference --
it's not important to have the facts straight, only to find excuses to doubt
the possibility of the resurrection. It's becoming pretty obvious who the
irrational ones are around here.

btif...@pbs.org

unread,
Jul 17, 1990, 3:15:22 PM7/17/90
to
David Hammerslag writes:

>> As for the Romans, Jesus' messianic claims and his
>> ability to incite the crowds would not have endeared him to the
>> Romans. One of Pilate's chief responsibilities was to keep the peace and
>> collect taxes.

Richard Caley replies:

>Actually I'd say the oposite, one of the ways in which the gospels
>hang together is that Jesus is portrayed as being very careful _not_
>to incite the Romans, ``Render unto Caeser'' and all that, and then
>Pilate doesn't want to get involved A more dramatic story might have
>been his standing up to the might of Rome and being martyred for it,
>make a much better movie.

>Now this could equally well be the result of Jesus ( be he political
>leader, holy man, profit, God's sun whatever ) knowing how to operate
>in the presence of a very powerful entity ( Rome ) or of someone who
>was making the whole thing up having similar knowledge.

No, it was because the first time he came, He came to die, to redeem
that which had been lost. That's why He told Pilatus, "My kingdom is not of
this world." That's why some of the more politically activist Jews couldn't
accept Him as Messiah, because -- ignoring the prophecies describing His
first appearing, such as Isaiah 53 -- they focused on the promise of a
physical kingdom and hoped for relief from foreign oppression. That is yet
to come -- and I believe very soon. (Even then His kingdom will not be
"of this world", but of God.)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

/\ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
____/__\____ fools despise wisdom and instruction.
\ / || \ / -- Proverbs 1:7
\/--++--\/
/\ || /\ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and
/ \ || / \ the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
----\--/---- -- Proverbs 9:10
\/
-- Bruce Tiffany

btif...@pbs.org

unread,
Jul 17, 1990, 3:14:22 PM7/17/90
to
In article <50...@iuvax.cs.indiana.edu>, hag...@iuvax.cs.indiana.edu
(Paul Hager) writes:

(I wrote:)


>>(1) Christian martyrs aren't suicidal. Given their druthers, they would
>>prefer NOT to be shot, flayed alive, burned at the stake, torn by lions,
>>imprisoned and beaten for years on end, have their children taken away never
>>to be seen again, etc., as has happened right down to this day. They are
>>WILLING to, rather than deny the Lord.

>Let's focus in on this. What Mr. Tiffany is arguing is that people


>who die for a cause passively and non-violently must BELIEVE they
>are right. I never disagreed with this premise. What I have
>disagreed with is Mr. Tiffany's oft implied and sometime stated
>assumption that such strong belief equates to the belief being
>true. It is this latter assumption of Mr. Tiffany's that I question.
>All that is required to invalidate it is to find one person who
>either died for something we know is wrong, or even simpler, find
>two people who died for opposing beliefs. In the latter case, it
>is clear that one set of beliefs must perforce be wrong.

Quit embellishing what I said. I did NOT say the resurrection
happened because the disciples believed it. I said I find it incredible that
they would die for a hoax. Some of you atheists/agnostics keep pulling out
red herrings and blowing a lot of smoke.

>Jews do not believe in the divinity of Christ. They have been
>persecuted throughout the centuries. They have been killed,
>disenfranchised, harrassed, beaten, driven out, etc., etc., etc.
>They have been "given" the option of converting to Christianity --
>some did, most did not. That Christians have been responsible
>for most of this treatment is not germane. I put it to you that
>these people BELIEVED they were right. But if they were right
>then the Christian's were wrong -- that goes a long way to explain
>the persecutions. It is true that some Jews did opt out -- did
>convert and "assimilate". But all of the rest were so convinced
>that they were willing to suffer and die for their beliefs. This
>has been much longer lived and merciless a persecution for beliefs
>than anything Christians have ever had to endure -- using Mr.
>Tiffany's system of valuation I would have to say that the Jews
>are right and the Christians are wrong.

This is largely incorrect, but not worth answering because it has
absolutely no bearing on my original statement.

>For the cognitive impaired I will restate the argument in simple
>terms:
>
> If martyrs exist for two opposing belief systems,
> at least one of them must be wrong.

Whether or not this is true, SO WHAT?

> Conclusion: martyrdom is insufficient to determine
> the truth of a belief system.

SO WHAT???

>>(2) In the case of the disciples and Paul, the men I was specifically
>>referring to, they have been charged here with perpetrating a hoax -- stealing
>>Jesus' body, etc. If this were true, then they knew Jesus hadn't risen from
>>the dead. To think that they would be willing to die horrible deaths for
>>a hoax they perpetrated -- for something they could not have believed in
>>themselves, even if they had managed to fool others -- seems to me to be
>>completely irrational.
>
>As I told Mr. Tiffany, I assume that Jesus either was historical
>or based on someone(s) historical and was not a "hoax" -- at least
>in the narrow sense indicated above. I also told Mr. Tiffany, I
>think a better explanation for the gospel accounts is the
>telling and retelling of stories and rumors which were embellished
>with each retelling until we emerged with the Jesus story in the
>familiar form we know today.

Again: SO WHAT? So that's what you think, Paul. Big deal! What has
that got to do with what I said?

>I should also point out that people may not state the REAL reason
>why they die. One could just as plausibly argue that a group
>of men who were religious and political zealots DID perpetrate
>a hoax to empower the local populace and get them to resist the
>colonial forces. If it was THAT that they were willing to die
>for, to admit the hoax would be to undermine the goal. With the
>obvious failure of the political movement to gel, their stories,
>which were being spread by word of mouth, would have been
>transmogrified away from the revolutionary message. I think it
>could be argued that the vestiges of the political message
>still remain (I think Dr. Hugh Shonefeld, in his writings, has made
>just such an argument). I don't subscribe to this argument
>but it has been made -- the point being that even if the
>disciples died in the manners the STORIES say, they may have
>had a hidden agenda they carried to their graves.

If you postulate this, you reveal your ignorance. It's no wonder you
go off on so many irrelevant tangents. The apostles urged people to obey the
governing authorities. I'd find it amusing to see you try to support your
hypothesis that they tried to get folks to resist the Romans.
This is obviously utter nonsense. No one has yet given a rational
answer to what I said, and many have failed to answer it at all, preferring
to bifurcate into unrelated diatribes. There isn't a shred of evidence for
a political conspiracy theory, for example. They died for the sake of the
gospel, and they believed Jesus rose from the dead, and so do I. (Note that
I did NOT say their belief makes it true, or their belief causes me to
believe, as you seemed to imply above.) Their belief didn't make it true;
they believed because it was true, and they were eyewitnesses.

Josh Smith

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Jul 17, 1990, 11:31:33 PM7/17/90
to

In prior articles, Bruce Tiffany (btif...@pbs.org) says that his claim is,
and always has been, that he finds it "hard to believe" that "the disciples
would die for a hoax". Additionally, that it has never been his belief that
the question of whether or not the disciples died for a hoax has any bearing
on the question of whether or not the events they described actually were a
hoax. Correct me if any of this is mistaken.

As I only recently joined this conversation, my question is this: Bruce,
to what is your belief in the unlikelihood of the disciples dying for a haox
relevant? That is, if you agree that the truth of "the disciples would not
have died for a hoax" is not evidence that what they died for was not a hoax,
then what is the point of bringing it up?

Boy is that convoluted. I'm not trying to be confusing, I'm trying to be
precise. One more try, with some shorthand. Consider Statement A to be "The
disciples would not have died for a hoax", and Statement B to be "The events
the disciples described actually happened". Then, since it seems that you have
agreed that A does not imply B, why are you still so concerned about A? My
questioning, incidentally, is not intended to imply that you haven't got a
reason; I'm genuinely curious as to what you're driving at by defending A, if
not B.

Totally irrelevant curiosity point, brought on by the symbol in your
signature: are you a Jew for Jesus? This has no bearing whatsoever on the
conversation at hand; it's just that I've only recently heard of this group,
and I'm curious as to what they believe, and wondered if I could take your
opinions as representative (to some degree) of JFJ's.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
| Reality: Josh Smith | Josh Smith '92 |
| Internet: iri...@cs.swarthmore.edu | Swarthmore College |
| BITNet: JB...@SWARTHMR.BITNET | 500 College Ave. |
| #include <witty.quote> | Swarthmore, PA 19081-1397 |
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Scott Gibson

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Jul 17, 1990, 7:20:40 PM7/17/90
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In article <9591.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>
>I think the man was insane, so even if
>that were true, an insane man might die for a hoax.

On what do you base your asssessment of his sanity?

>The apostles were not
>insane, they were very much sane,

On what do you base your assessment of the apostles' sanity?

>and I still find it irrational to believe
>they would knowingly die for a hoax.

Why do you find it irrational? Do you contend that no sane man has ever
knowingly died for a hoax? Can you demonstrate that A)they were sane, and
B)no one sane dies for a hoax?

>My original statement, which no one

>has yet refuted, is that I find it hard to believe the apostles would die for
>a hoax.

This is rich. How does anyone other than you refute a statement of your
beliefs? You're not asking anyone to refute that the apostles would not
die for a hoax, because you make no such claim. Your claim is about your
*belief* about whether the apostles would die for a hoax.

If you present the assertion that the apostles *could not* have knowingly
died for a hoax as a fact, how about providing some evidence for it?

> This is unwarranted. The things I'm reading in this thread indicated to
>me that most people are theorizing al kinds of things when they really know
>very little about the history in question.

Yeah, and one of the things they are `theorizing' about is that the apostles
would not die for a hoax; unfortunately, they are doing so without much
support, so it isn't much of a theory.

>But that makes no difference --
>it's not important to have the facts straight, only to find excuses to doubt
>the possibility of the resurrection.

Do you assert a resurrection? If so, support it with evidence. If you feel it
is the duty of others to refute the claim, and not of yourself to support it,
then how about refuting the existence of invisible pink unicorns?

>It's becoming pretty obvious who the
>irrational ones are around here.

It sure is; just look in the mirror.

scott

Scott Gibson

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Jul 17, 1990, 7:26:32 PM7/17/90
to
In article <9583.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
> You probably don't realize the gaping hole you left open here in your
>argument, and the temptation it is to blow you out of the water ... but, ah
>well, forget it. I have a real paying job to attend to ... :-)

and then, in article <9593.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>
> It's simply too much to go into.

Mr. Tiffany, how very pompous of you. And, of course, how convenient for
you that you *don't* intend to support this extraordinarily childish
argument.


Scott

Richard Caley

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Jul 17, 1990, 11:45:20 PM7/17/90
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In article <9599.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:

No, it was because the first time he came, He came to die, to redeem
that which had been lost. That's why He told Pilatus, "My kingdom is
not of this world."

One of the gaps that is noticable in Christianity is that we are never
told quite why the torture and death of the Son of God ( who is at the
same time a facet of God ) is somehow going to make up for the fall of
Adam and Eve. Now, since God is setting the rules He can presumably
make them what he wishes; if God decided that England winning a test
against the West Indies would redeem the world, then presumably that
would be the case. It would also make about as much sense.

That's why some of the more politically activist Jews couldn't
accept Him as Messiah

Mostly, so far as I can see, the Jews had a slight problem with the
fact that the old testement fairly explicitly promises that the coming
of the Messiah is meant to signal the creation of God's kingdom on
earth. There is no statment that he will be a relation to God, and
certainly no mention of a warm up lap :-).

One is left with the uneasy feeling that there is no reason to believe
that His next visit will be any more final. Maybe Elvis really was the
Second Comming and all the exciting stuff in Revelations is going to
happen at the Third...

--
r...@uk.ac.ed.cstr ``This time it would work,
and no one would have to get nailed
to anything''
-- Douglas Adams, THHGG

Rick Gillespie

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Jul 18, 1990, 12:43:46 PM7/18/90
to
In article <9591.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:

<<lotsa stuff about Jim Jones' motives deleted>>

> You're entitled to think so. I think the man was insane, so even if
>that were true, an insane man might die for a hoax. The apostles were not
>insane, they were very much sane, and I still find it irrational to believe
>they would knowingly die for a hoax. If you don't find it hard to believe
>that they would, that's fine with me. My original statement, which no one
>has yet refuted, is that I find it hard to believe the apostles would die for
>a hoax. Furthermore, I think it serves the purpose of many in this group to
>hope that they would.

Bruce, what is your proof that the apostles were not insane? The fact
that they didn't say they were? If Jim Jones could be insane (and I'll
agree with you that he was) and could convince so many people to die
with him, what proof can you offer that the same didn't happen with
Jesus and his apostles?
You have claimed that there is coroborating historical evidence of
the happenings documented in the New Testement. What are those
documents? I would, honestly, like to check them out myself.

This thread started with alternate theories for the resurrection (which
apparently is the foundation of Christianity). You have tried to
focus the discussion on ONE particular alternate, but haven't touched
much on the others. I don't think there is much point in continuing
the debate because you, and your unshakeable faith, won't admit that
there are *reasonable* explanations of the events of that time that
don't involve divine explanations.

Rick Gillespie | Solbourne Computer, Inc.
UUCP: ...![uunet,boulder]!stan!rwg | 1900 Pike Rd.
Internet: r...@solbourne.com | Longmont, CO 80501
"If you want to BE the man, you've got | (303) 678-4723
to BEAT the man!" |

Scott Gibson

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Jul 19, 1990, 10:17:00 AM7/19/90
to
In article <9616.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>
> That's part of the reason I'm not willing to go off on another joust.
>I spent too much time on the thing about the apostles. It does grow boring,
>too, and some of you guys begin to sound like a broken record.

Or, in other words:

...hiss...POP...hiss...POP...hiss...POP...hiss...POP...


Scott

Jon Taylor

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Jul 18, 1990, 6:02:58 PM7/18/90
to

btif...@pbs.org writes:

> Matthew Hannigan writes:
> > For what it's worth, I think the new testament is largely true,
> > except for the magical bits of course. Well, at least as true
> > as say Homer's Oddyssey (sp?), or at least as untrue. :-)
>
> You probably don't realize the gaping hole you left open here in your
> argument, and the temptation it is to blow you out of the water ... but, ah
> well, forget it. I have a real paying job to attend to ... :-)

Gosh, Mr. Tiffany is too busy to answer this point, but has plenty of
time to post five (5) consecutive responses to the discussion of the
apostles' deaths. Since the subject is pretty boring anyway, perhaps
he'll drop it entirely and spare us the excess diatribes?

Jon Taylor

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Jul 18, 1990, 6:44:52 PM7/18/90
to
In article <9591.2...@pbs.org>, btif...@pbs.org writes:

> My original statement, which no one
> has yet refuted, is that I find it hard to believe the apostles would die for
> a hoax.

How does Mr. Tiffany think anyone can refute his own belief? If he
chooses to believe something, there is no refutation possible! Not that
this is a problem - he has a right to his faith, and no one here is
trying to change him. The question I might ask is, why does Mr. Tiffany
keep posting here? I think this sentence gives us a clue:

> Furthermore, I think it serves the purpose of many in this group to
> hope that they would.

Mr. Tiffany seems to gain pleasure from insulting those who disagree
with him. Serves our purpose, eh? And what purpose is that? The
implication is clear: we are not searching for our own truth; we are
foolishly denying The Truth, as spoken by the Christian.

Hard to know whether this is a sly attempt at "witnessing" or just the
venting of a little Christian spleen!

btif...@pbs.org

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Jul 18, 1990, 10:46:52 PM7/18/90
to
In article <10...@paperboy.OSF.ORG>, j...@osf.org (Jon Taylor) writes:

> Gosh, Mr. Tiffany is too busy to answer this point, but has plenty of
> time to post five (5) consecutive responses to the discussion of the
> apostles' deaths. Since the subject is pretty boring anyway, perhaps
> he'll drop it entirely and spare us the excess diatribes?

That's part of the reason I'm not willing to go off on another joust.


I spent too much time on the thing about the apostles. It does grow boring,
too, and some of you guys begin to sound like a broken record.

-- Bruce

Harry Stanley Marshall

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Jul 19, 1990, 5:54:22 PM7/19/90
to
I'd say Jesus was probably a man. But that's it, just a man. He
probably believed very strongly that he was the son of god. This
belief probably rubbed off to a few people around him, and thus the
brainwashing began. It's amazing how much you can get a person to
believe in something. You con get people to swear they saw somethng
that never happened if you can get them to truely believe they saw it
(i.e. brainwash them.) I'd say that Jesus probably even healed some
people. By making them believe so strongly that they were healed by
god that they actually just overcame whatever thier problem was on
their own. It's amazing what the human mind can do!

------
Stan Marshall
Carnegie Mellon Univ.
hm...@andrew.cmu.edu

"Everyday I see myself in the mirror
But I do not know who's staring back at me" - Midwinter Night

Disclaimer: I'm sure *somebody* else around here agrees with me.

btif...@pbs.org

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Jul 19, 1990, 6:50:03 PM7/19/90
to
Organization: PBS:Public Broadcasting Service, Alexandria, VA
Lines: 33

In article <4ba187c...@apollo.HP.COM>,
pe...@apollo.HP.COM (Jim Perry) writes:

> (I've been trying in vain to get my
> hands on the McDowell "Evidence..." books for months without luck...).

I don't suppose you've tried a Christian bookstore. They carry lots
of books by Josh McDowell.

(I said:)


>> I don't think there is any discrepancy in the resurrection accounts.

> How many angels were present? Or was it men in white robes? Or does clean
> laundry make one an angel? What, exactly, happened to Jesus? Show your work.

I had thought to do just that, but changed my mind when I considered
the time involved (which is also why I'm not responding to the stuff above).
Instead, I'll do the next best thing and refer you to THE LIFE & TEACHINGS OF
CHRIST, Volume 3, "The Gathering Storm", by Gordon Lindsay (c 1983, Christ
For The Nations), Chapter 50, "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ", pages 251-256.
This book, too, should be readily available in your local Christian bookstore.
If it's not on the shelf, they can order it.

Matthew Hannigan

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Jul 19, 1990, 10:29:42 PM7/19/90
to
In article <9593.2...@pbs.org> btif...@pbs.org writes:
>
>In article <1990Jul16.2...@metro.ucc.su.OZ.AU>,

> ma...@extro.ucc.su.OZ.AU (Matthew Hannigan) writes:
>
>> OK, what is the gaping hole? All I'm trying to say is that we
>> should have the same amount of skepticism towards all old stories.
>> My reference to the "magic bits" reflects my skeptic's attitude that
>> "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence".
>> The Bible ain't extraordinary evidence.
>
> It's simply too much to go into. I've spent too much time on this
>already. I hate to let you down -- I'd like to be able to really get into
>this. The hole to do with faulty methodology, not merely whether one can
>believe the Bible.

Well, OK. I know the feeling. But I hope you'll allow me the suspicion
that my arguments are so powerful that you cannot answer them. :-)

> But I didn't intend to get off the subject. The central
>thing I was saying: The apostles would not have died for a hoax. It has not
>been refuted, or even scratched in subsequent postings. It's about time to
>let it go.

OK, fair enough. I would agree with you that (by itself) it hard to
believe that the apostles died _knowing_ it was a hoax. However, I
think there has been some crossed lines in the previous discussion.

I looked back over some saved articles and I think it was you who
chose to make the interpretation that some of us atheists implied
that the apostles died _knowing_ that it was hoax.
This is not a necessary interpretation. All that was suggested was
that someone carried out a hoax, not necessarily the ones who were
later martyred for this belief.

However, you don't even need to believe that there was a hoax.
Here are few other possibilities: he didn't really die;
he did die, but the 'resurrected' person wasn't really Jesus;
the story was largely invented, following on from old testament
predictions; and so on ... All these are more believable than
a hoax or a genuine resurrection.

[Aside .. see the the movie 'Jesus of Montreal'. It might
provoke or offend you, but you might find it interesting
and worthwhile. Anyway, I recommend it.]

> \/ -- Bruce Tiffany

Regards,
-Matt Hannigan

PS. I think your news posting program is scrambling the References:,
making them overflow into Followup-To:.

Jon Taylor

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Jul 20, 1990, 12:05:47 PM7/20/90
to

I'm not very interested in this thread, but I can't avoid responding to this:

In article <9628.2...@pbs.org>, btif...@pbs.org writes:

...in response to Mr. Perry's request to "show your work"

> I had thought to do just that, but changed my mind when I considered
> the time involved (which is also why I'm not responding to the stuff above).
> Instead, I'll do the next best thing and refer you to THE LIFE & TEACHINGS OF
> CHRIST, Volume 3, "The Gathering Storm", by Gordon Lindsay (c 1983, Christ
> For The Nations), Chapter 50, "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ",
pages 251-256.

I'm sorry: this is a cop-out. How long can it take to summarize 6
pages of a book? If Gordon Lindsay's arguments are at all coherent, it
should be possible to outline them in a couple of paragraphs. While
it's admirable to give references as Mr. Tiffany has done here, I think
we could expect a little more in terms of reasoned argument.

btif...@pbs.org

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Jul 20, 1990, 1:43:55 PM7/20/90
to
In article <11...@paperboy.OSF.ORG>, j...@osf.org (Jon Taylor) writes:

> I'm sorry: this is a cop-out. How long can it take to summarize 6
> pages of a book? If Gordon Lindsay's arguments are at all coherent, it
> should be possible to outline them in a couple of paragraphs. While
> it's admirable to give references as Mr. Tiffany has done here, I think
> we could expect a little more in terms of reasoned argument.

It could take 12 years if my experience in alt.atheism is any
indication. Rather than reel in a bunch of knee-jerk objections to every
single statement, and then have you jumping all over my case for saying
something and not being willing to fight over it, I figure this will quickly
filter out the people who seriously want to look into the matter from the
ones who merely enjoy attacking everything they can. Lindsay has done an
excellent job of showing the harmony in the resurrection accounts, and to
summarize it would be to leave gaps which people would jump on like a chicken
on a bug, demanding proof of this and evidence of that. Rather than risk
not doing justice to what Lindsay wrote, I refer you to him directly. If
you don't want to look it up, it's not I who is copping out.

Scott Hankin

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Jul 20, 1990, 7:12:03 PM7/20/90