Jesus, Paul Bunyan

todangst's picture

If I were to say that the claims for Jesus are just like claims for Paul Bunyan, you might become upset. You'd probably argue that serious claims for Paul Bunyan's existence are ridiculous, or that no one really believes in Paul Bunyan, and that the comparison is unfair for these reasons alone. 

But notice that none of these complaints are actually rational arguments against Paul Bunyan. Arguing that a claim is false because it is ridiculous is a logical fallacy known as an "appeal to ridicule.' We all know examples of claims that appeared ridiculous but were actually true, it was once ridiculous to suppose that man could fly. Arguing that a belief is true or false based on its popularity is also a logical fallacy, known as 'ad populum'. Again, we can all think of popular claims that were shown to be false, such as the idea that the earth was the center of the solar system.

So when we rule out Paul Bunyan as a real person, how do we really come to this conclusion logically?

We do so mainly through two means: by citing a lack of reasons to hold to the belief, and by citing how the claim violates what we do know of the world. We know that there are no good reasons to believe that Paul Bunyan really existed. There's no evidence that such a man existed, despite the fact that such a giant would have been an incredibly noteworthy individual. At the same time, we know claims for Paul Bunyan violate what we know of the world, and claims that ask us to contradict what we already know of the world requires extraordinary evidence:

As David Hume wrote in An Enquiry Concerning the Human Understanding: 

[A] weaker evidence can never destroy a stronger... [N]o testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish. (Enquiry X) 

Hume saw that since the laws of nature are based on literally trillions of observations by billions of people over thousands of years, second hand testimony of miraculous violations of these laws were likely to be false. 

So what happens when we apply how we really rule out Paul Bunyan claims to Jesus claims? The exact same problems arise: there's no evidence to support an actual 'Jesus', despite the incredible effect such a divine being would have had on his times. And "Jesus" claims violate what we know of the world.

So, when we are consistent we find that there is no rational difference in the claims.

How about a human Paul Bunyan?

A very avid Bunyan-ite might want to find away around these insurmountable problems by making a more humble claim for Paul. So imagine that I am now claiming that Paul Bunyan did exist, but that he was actually a French Canadian logger, called 'Paul Bonjean'. He was not over 100 feet tall and able to knock down a swath of trees with one swing...

...but he was a big guy who could knock down a tree quicker than any other lumberjack around. 

Now that I have watered down my claim to something within the bounds of nature, would you agree that "Paul Bunyan" was real? Probably not, because you sense you were a victim of a 'bait and switch'. This "Paul" that you are being given is no longer 100 feet tall, no longer a man of myth. You'd argue that a "human Paul Bunyan" is an oxymoron - Paul Bunyan, by defintion, is something more than just human. Finding a human Paul Bunyan as the origin of the legend proves that the legend is myth. 

Jesus vs Paul Bunyan

So, let's now apply this all to "Jesus" claims. It turns out that Jesus claims are in fact just like Paul Bunyan claims when we look at the situation rationally. There's no good reason to believe either claim and both violate what we know of the world. And interestingly enough, just as the attempt to 'salvage' Paul Bunyan as a 'man who inspired the legend' actually demonstrates that really isn't a Paul Bunyan, the same situation holds true for "Jesus".... Jesus as a a man who inspires the legend is no more "Jesus the Christ" than a tall guy with an axe is "Paul Bunyan."

 

So, let's now apply this all to "Jesus" claims. It turns out that Jesus claims are in fact just like Paul Bunyan claims when we look at the situation rationally. There's no good reason to believe either claim and both violate what we know of the world. And interestingly enough, just as the attempt to 'salvage' Paul Bunyan as a 'man who inspired the legend' actually demonstrates that really isn't a Paul Bunyan, the same situation holds true for "Jesus".... Jesus as a a man who inspires the legend is no more "Jesus the Christ" than a tall guy with an axe is "Paul Bunyan."

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'

digitalbeachbum's picture

I agree. Jesus might have

I agree. Jesus might have been real but he wasn't the legend he was made out to be.

I've used this when discussing jesus with theists. Jesus was supposed to be this amazing miracle worker but his so called works we limited to only a very small area. One would expect that if the son of the creator of every thing stepped foot on this planet that word of his existence would have spread all over the world. Yet, only a very small number of people in a very limited area actually believed in him. His popularity grew after his time, so I often associate him to painters who are nothing when they are alive but after they die their paintings become extremely popular.

I'm sure that when jesus was alive that he had his group of followers but for the most part it would be him meeting with others who not only rejected his teachings but disproved his miracles just by being present at the events. I can see it now, "Timmy wasn't blind. The dumb idiot just says he is blind so he can get attention. Now you have these jesus idiot come along and feed in to his bullshit."

 

Vastet's picture

All good reads, nice to see

All good reads, nice to see them updated. And this one was new, for me at least.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

butterbattle's picture

Sweet, a new article (?). I

Sweet, a new article (?). I don't remember seeing this one before.

Mostly covers the same ground, but a useful analogy nevertheless. 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare

Brian37's picture

 Great example except this

 Great example except this is also how all religions get started. A real place or real person exists, but ledgends get turned into religions and those legeds end up becoming political.

George Washington existed, but the "Cherry Tree" story is a legend. 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Vastet's picture

^ Red herrings and reading

^ Red herrings and reading comprehension failure.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

Brian37's picture

Vastet wrote:^ Red herrings

Vastet wrote:
^ Red herrings and reading comprehension failure.

Name me one religious founder that popped out of dirt like Adam, with no prior parents or prior ideas that they drew from.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Vastet's picture

^Brian compounds his

^Brian compounds his fallacies with more fallacies.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

Brian37's picture

 And by all means keep

 And by all means keep repeating "That proves we wouldn't be here without religion". 

Bad argument. Pretty still is not an excuse to cling to the past. If it were then the fact that Islam think's it is pretty to subject women to stoning to death for adultry or forcing a rape victim to marry their accuser, you should be a Muslim. 

Religion exists because of humans flawed percetions, it is natural in that you cannot rid the world of it, but it is still not an excuse to give it a pedistal outside of the right to express the idea. If we go by your bullshit "what's the harm" we never would have progressed to our secular western values. 

Religion only has the real effect of creating a group, but that does not mean by accepting that reality means we should never say "did it ever occur to you maybe it is all made up and you don't really need it?". How many religions do you and I rightfully reject? 

You like theists stupidly mistake human rights and the idea itself. If I was really out to oppress religion or dissent I wouldn't be continually conversing with you. Their rights are not in danger from me.  Their logic is something that should bother them. Otherwise why the fuck do you even question religion yourself? If I never joined this website and you being an atheist as I am you would still question religion. 

So what it really still amounts to is that you don't like me our my tactics. Now ask me if I give a fuck.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Brian37's picture

 Ok McFly, let me dumb it

 Ok McFly, let me dumb it down as much as I can for you.

 

RELIGION IS MAN MADE. We would not progress to a more human western society if we did not question religion.

Don't question it yourself if you are out to blindly protect it which you yourself don't blindly protect.

All your childish pissyness is because of a personal beef you have with me.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Vastet's picture

Brian37 wrote:And by all

Brian37 wrote:
And by all means keep repeating "That proves we wouldn't be here without religion". 

Now we see Brian introduce more fallacies. Because he didn't have enough going.

Brian37 wrote:
Bad argument. Pretty still is not an excuse to cling to the past. If it were then the fact that Islam think's it is pretty to subject women to stoning to death for adultry or forcing a rape victim to marry their accuser, you should be a Muslim. 

Brian can never have enough strawmen.

Brian37 wrote:
Religion exists because of humans flawed percetions

Brian will never understand religion.

Brian37 wrote:
it is natural in that you cannot rid the world of it, but it is still not an excuse to give it a pedistal outside of the right to express the idea. If we go by your bullshit "what's the harm" we never would have progressed to our secular western values. 

More strawmen.

Brian37 wrote:
Religion only has the real effect of creating a group

It is rather amusing to watch Brian come so close...

Brian37 wrote:
but that does not mean by accepting that reality means we should never say "did it ever occur to you maybe it is all made up and you don't really need it?". How many religions do you and I rightfully reject? 

...and then throw it all away.

Brian37 wrote:
You like theists stupidly mistake human rights and the idea itself.

More strawmen, if nonsensical gibberish can qualify as strawmen.

Brian37 wrote:
If I was really out to oppress religion or dissent I wouldn't be continually conversing with you.

Brian thinks he's conversing with me. He still doesn't comprehend that I'm simply pointing out his flawed positions. Talking to Brian is a pointless exercise in futility. Much like talking to most other theists. The only benefit is public ridicule. I'm all too happy to provide this service to the public.

Brian37 wrote:
Their rights are not in danger from me.

Brian lies. Not only their rights, but their very lives are in danger from Brian. Or they would be, if he were ever to have any power.

Brian37 wrote:
Their logic is something that should bother them.

There is no real difference between Brian logic and theist logic.

Brian37 wrote:
Otherwise why the fuck do you even question religion yourself? If I never joined this website and you being an atheist as I am you would still question religion. 

Brian still doesn't comprehend that I attack all irrational positions, his included.

Brian37 wrote:
So what it really still amounts to is that you don't like me our my tactics. Now ask me if I give a fuck.

Again with the martyr complex.
Ironically, if Brian really didn't care, he wouldn't respond to my criticisms. So obviously Brian does care.

Brian37 wrote:
Ok McFly, let me dumb it down as much as I can for you.

Brian can't get much dumber. If he got much dumber he'd be unable to even feign the ability to communicate.

Brian37 wrote:
RELIGION IS MAN MADE.

Brian loves making unprovable and false claims.

Brian37 wrote:
We would not progress to a more human western society if we did not question religion.

See?

Brian37 wrote:
All your childish pissyness is because of a personal beef you have with me.

Martyr complex again.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

Brian37's picture

 HA YOU FUCKING

 HA YOU FUCKING IDIOT

Martyrs  are humans who think they will live forever. I am no ones hero nor do I desire to be a "martyr".

When I talk about you painting me as "evil" I am talking about your childish reaction to me. I do NOT think you are evil, I simply think you are full of shit.

Martyrs want to live forever. I have no disire to live forever. 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Vastet's picture

Brian37 wrote:HA YOU FUCKING

Brian37 wrote:
HA YOU FUCKING IDIOT

Brian thinks expletives and insults in all caps are effective. But they aren't.

Brian37 wrote:
Martyrs  are humans who think they will live forever.

Brian again demonstrates how little he grasps of the English language, by suggesting the definition of martyr is the exact opposite of the real definition of martyr.

Brian37 wrote:
When I talk about you painting me as "evil" I am talking about your childish reaction to me. I do NOT think you are evil, I simply think you are full of shit.

Brian fails to grasp that evil is a broken and meaningless term. He also doesn't realise that he's the only childish one here.

Brian37 wrote:
Martyrs want to live forever. I have no disire to live forever. 

Again Brian thinks repeating lies makes them truth.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

Beyond Saving's picture

Brian37 wrote: HA YOU

Brian37 wrote:

 HA YOU FUCKING IDIOT

Martyrs  are humans who think they will live forever.

Lol. Anyone care to lay some bets on whether Brian is ever going to acknowledge being 180 degrees wrong on yet another easily verifiable fact?

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X

iwbiek's picture

no, he'll just point to the

no, he'll just point to the fact that his stupidity will be on display here forever as evidence that he's an honest guy. that's his current argument: he never actually SAYS he's wrong but he "leaves his mistakes up for all to see" (as if he had any power to take them down anyway).

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson