Another atheist blogging on science and free thinking.
One of the more frustrating things about dialogue with Christians is they never seem to listen to your questions. For example, if you ask
“What evidence do you have that substantiates your claim that god exists?”
they seem to hear
“let’s spend lot’s of time in debating what evidence really means so I can take whatever answers you provide and try to misrepresent them until I think I can spot a tiny gap. At which point allow me to throw a truckload of bullshit at that gap- over your objections of dishonesty- asserting that this meets the standards of evidence.”
If I’m asking for evidence, that’s what I want. Not a prolonged, agonising exercise in wordplay until you think the opportunity to drop a whole bunch of assertions that aren’t evidence, into the debate as evidence, is created.
There are simple standards of evidence that are used in scientific or legal settings that stress the elements of corroboration and objectivity. That’s the standard you need to reach to make a god-claim credible.
A number of things can be guaranteed in life. One is that a Christian will employ ‘Pascal’s Wager’ on you if you’re an atheist. This wager acknowledges the lack of evidence for a god, but so turns faith into a gamble instead. If Christianity is right, they avoid an eternity of torture. Which is such a big deal, it’s worth wasting your current life as a drone to the deathcult just in case.
It doesn’t work for three main reasons
Trying to debate Christians often means entering a Kafkaesque world. Theists are big on grandiose claims, bad at follow-through. For example, we have the standard form for the historicity of Jesus.
Xtian- “The historical evidence for Jesus is compelling”
Xtian- “Silly, of course there’s lot of corroborative evidence”
Xtian- “No, I’m not going to do your research for you
Xtian- hey, being an asshat with no intellectual honesty is my right as a Christian. If you wanted to talk to someone with integrity, you picked the wrong cult.
Ok, I may have made up the last retort, but the fact is simple. If you make a claim about something, you are under an obligation to try to substantiate that claim. Avoiding that obligation is a kind of deceit that does your religion’s standing no good.
Often some devil-dodger will make a whole lot of claims or assumptions about my values and beliefs. It gets tiresome responding to them all, so here’s the quick ‘cheat-sheet’ version
that conversation didn’t start circulating until around 2004, and it was going around before that without Einstein’s name attached.
Also, Einstein was a self-described agnostic, not believing in any sort of personal god.
Also, specious logic abounds in the entry; something an amazing thinker like Einstein would not have used.
(Some versions of this story even make out that Einstein claimed to be Christian- an astonishing detail given his Jewish heritage. There’s a reason the Nazi’s weren’t his biggest fan)
Martin Luther (arguing against heliocentric solar system proposed by Copernicus)
Christians like to toss the Gospels out as evidence that Jesus existed and his claims to divinity are supported. And further, the historical record for Jesus is just as good as, if not better, than say, Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great.
It is absolute nonsense.
Rather than being decent biographies of Jesus, the gospels are stunningly sparse on personal details. There is no equivalent to the tales of Julius Caesar being captured by Cilician pirates or Alexander taming bucephalus. Rather the gosepls present largely a collection of parables and religious anecdotes.
The damning bit is simply the character of Jesus. This is made obvious by the contrast between the Jesus described in Mark versus John. The Jesus in Mark is completely at odds with the Jesus of John. Mark’s version of Jesus describes a human-like being who feels emotions. John’s Jesus is a serene character who floats through the story feeling nothing.
Unlike Julius Caesar, there are no independent corroborating accounts from other ancient writers. Julius Caesar has his Cicero, Jesus no one. There is no archaeological evidence to support the Gospel accounts. There is no earthquake damage such as that described in Matthew. No Jewish, Hellenistic or Roman author recorded the dead that rose from their graves after the resurrection.
In contrast Caesar left a detailed account of his activities. Gallic battle sites (e.g. Alesia) were excavated under the guidance of Napoleon III. Hundreds of artifacts were discovered that corroborates Caesar’s accounts. The Romanisation of Gaul supports the notion that Caesar conquered Gaul.
Even the divine claim by Jesus is unremarkable for the time. Caesar was a descendant of the Roman goddess Venus. Alexander was a descendant of the demi-god Hercules.
The gospels in short, are unreliable pieces of evidence to support the claims of Christianity, and it is only by the intellectual dishonest gambit of ignoring the archaeological evidence that any equivalence with Caesar can be maintained.