Question on Jesus - AskTheAtheist.com
What evidence is there to support that Jesus never existed? What about all the evidence Christian historians point to?
First, I think it's important to understand the incredible amount of information one has to look over tediously before they can reach a conclusion of a historical or ahistiorical nature. The truth is, I've been researching this subject for seven years and there are things I'm just starting to skim over now.
Now that that is out of the way, let's tackle your questions. You ask, "What evidence is there to support that Jesus never existed?" First and foremost, if you can provide me evidence to support that fairies don't exist, I'm all ears. One can't ask to disprove a negative, because there is nothing to disprove. One must look at the available evidence that already exists (or doesn't...as in this case) and determine if that evidence is sufficient to establish historicity.
To help you better understand this lets use an example given by Christians where they assume that we mythicists assume the historicity of somebody famous without evidence. Aristotle is usually totted around the most by some ignorant or misinformed person as having no contemporary evidence of his existence - as a standard if you will to suggest that Jesus should be considered to be on the same level of accepted historicity as Aristotle. However when comparing the list of evidences between the two, there is no compatibility. Here's a brief list of the diffrences between Aristotle and Jesus:
- 1. Facts about Aristotle’s life are not in question. We know when he was born, when he died (384-322 B.C.E), who his parents were, (Nicomachus – father – who was a physician to King Amyntas III, and Phaestis his mother) who his friends were and who his teacher was (Plato).
- 2. Most importantly, over 45 works are attributed TO him, although some of those are said to be dictated by some of his students in one of his many schools which he taught at.
- 3. Aristotle never claimed to be perfect, or a God, or even a son of a God. Nobody has a dogmatic philosophy on the life of Aristotle. If Aristotle didn’t exist, nobody’s world view would change.
- 4. Aristotle changed the course of time, coming up with several new schools of thought, including new ways to look at math, science, philosophy, politics, and ethics. His original thoughts and views helped form and shape the politics of a world.
- 5. Alexander the Great was taught by Aristotle.
- 6. Every Greek philosopher and scientist throughout the ages has used Aristotle as a base for their works. Including Harpalus, Hephaestion, Nicomachus and Theophrastus. Even Aquinas used Aristotle.
- 7. All of the information we have about Aristotle does not conflict with history.
- 8. There is no reason to doubt the existence of Aristotle, because there is such a large amount of evidence for his existence, as well as nothing that conflicts with history and historical accounts of Aristotle and his life.
- 1. Jesus’ early life is obscure. We do not know his birth date, or even the year. We don’t have the year of his death. If you are claiming Jesus was just a man, of course nothing exists to prove a natural birth so this evidence is non-existent. We know nothing of his childhood, save at 12, then he vanishes again. And we know his parents first names.
- 2. Jesus never wrote one book, one sentence, not even as much as a letter.
- 3. Jesus claimed to be all three of these attributes, and more. And over 33 million people around the world follow the idea that Jesus was these attributes and more. If Jesus was shown not to exist, his message would be lost and people would no longer be Christian (Because the definition of a Christian is to believe in Christ as the Messiah, that he died for our sins).
- 4. None of Jesus’ supposed teachings are original. Justin Martyr also admits to Trypho that Jesus’ teachings and that of the Christians were documented earlier in the Greek philosophies of Aristotle (ironically), Socrates, and Plato. All of the teachings of Jesus can be found in religions that existed hundreds if not thousands of years earlier. In John 1:1, a similar passage can be found in Heraclitus.
- 5. No major figure in History ever had direct contact with Jesus. No historical commentary about any major figure in history ever places them near or around Jesus in any fashion. In all the volumes of Josephus, never once does it state that Herod murdered a great multitude of infants at the birth of some savior figure. Nor does it state anywhere that Pilate killed Jesus in any Roman record.
- 6. No great work of science or philosophy ever came from Jesus, or one of Jesus’ followers. All are void of intelligent thought, and contain evidence of following in the footsteps of servitude.
- 7. In the trial alone of Jesus, there contains anywhere from 14-27 infractions of Sanhedrin and Roman law. This does not include a large sum of historical contradictions outside of the trial, which traverse into the hundreds.
- 8. In every aspect of Christ’s supposed life, there is reason to question his existence because of the errors, contradictions and fallacies not only within the Bible, but concerning the utter lack of evidence concerning the events of his life.
And this is not the half of it. Aristotle not only wrote tomes of prose in his time, by his own hand, but also contemporary accounts exist of Aristotle. As Richard Carrier states on Aristotles contemporary accounts, "There is one fragmentary inscription dedicated to Aristotle still extant at Delphi that I believe was erected in his lifetime. We have substantial portions of the Elements of Harmonics by Aristoxenus, a contemporary of Aristotle, which mentions him briefly. Anaximenes of Lampsacus (not the presocratic of the same name), also a contemporary, wrote an Art of Rhetoric that survives, and it addresses Aristotle. Theophrastus was his pupil and contemporary and we have some few of his writings, but I don't know off hand if they mention Aristotle by name. Isocrates was his contemporary and sometimes opponent, and he may have mentioned him, too, but again I can't say for sure if he ever actually names him in extant works. There was certainly a great deal of contemporary writing about Aristotle, but as far as I know little to none was preserved, except in later sources. TLG shows a few hundred contemporary, named references to Aristotle, which are cited or quoted by later authors." Carrier also suggested a book, "Lloyd's book "Aristotle" would probably say what else there is."
This is vital because we have NO accounts of cointemporary evidence for Jesus. None. The earliest extant manuscripts for Jesus date to Paul, thirty years after Jesus supposedly died, written by a man who never met Jesus, knows nothing about him, or about any of his deeds, or miracles or speeches. Paul doesn't attribute any words to Jesus nor does he seem to - in any fashion - refer to Jesus in a physical, literal sense.
After Paul, we have a forty year gap of nothingness. At the very end of the first century CE, we have rumors (just rumors) of hearsay about a being Jesus. The earliest Gospel fragment we posess is the P52 fragment, and it's barely a scrap of parchment from what appears to be John. But it's too weak a source to use to compare. That is it. And when is this P52 fragment from? 130 CE and no earlier. That's a hundred years after the supposed death of Christ. Now here's the funny part, we have works from Aristotle that survived from 500 years before THAT, and yet we can't find one contemporary account of a man who is said to have walked on water, and preformed all these miracles, or even rose from the dead?
I hope that helps you understand a little bit as to the problems associated with the question of whether there can be a way to disprove a negative, and also with understanding what sorts of evidence is looked for when trying to determine historicity. Your second question is far easier to answer, as I have already written extensively on the subject.
At this link HERE you will find all you need to know about the supposed evidences for Jesus and why they hold no water. You can ALSO check out THIS LINK for additional information on the Mythicist position and the case against a historical Christ.
Oh, by the way....welcome to the campaign.