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KT45
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My father (a pastor) and I had a conversation. Every time we talk about if Jesus is real or not the same questions pop up. Here is the first one

 

What is the pay off? Why create a religion that is “fake” if there is no gain or if it isn’t true. And why would people die and allow themselves to be persecuted for a fake religion? I respond by saying there is a gain and the gain is political and social reconstruction. Most of Jesus’ story is about benefiting the poor and attacking the political leaders at the time to cause reform. To make their cause greater and to make the orthodox Jews listen they would have to be backed by a so called messiah. Therefore making one up would be feasible. Why would they die for a fake messiah? Well people die for political causes all the time. If an idea, whether fake or real will help benefit future generation’s people will die for it. Whether the original founders of the Christian cult believed in Jesus or not doesn’t matter. They were willing to die for social reconstruction.

 

Now this may be right or wrong. I also believe that the Gnostic Christian believers were persecuted and not the Christians but I have to study more. Can anyone provide insight?

 

Well anyway usually after saying that I am then asked “well what is the point of spreading the religion outward to the world” If you want social reconstruction in your “neck of the woods” why spread this message to the world?

 

To this question I don’t really have an answer or a response. Assuming Paul was real I have no reason why others would spread a religion based on lies would spread. I see no monetary or political gain in doing so (there is no monetary because originally you were supposed to spread money out evenly to all people). The only possible explanation would be the government. Since the government could gain from a religion that can easily go from pacifist to militant depending on what part of the bible is taught, it’s easy to see why possibly a government could see that this religion could be quite useful. But again this is an assumption. Any ideas here?

 

Other questions that pop up are the issue with pagan religions and symbols. I usually say I see a relationship between symbols and the other pagan cults with Judaism and Christianity. Here is his usual response

 

When I bring up pagan religion similarities with the bible he merely says the bible clearly states that you should stay away from pagan religions so any similarities don’t matter. I usually come back at him saying well if I was going to create a religion that I stole from other religions then of course I would say don’t mess with those religions. That’s the best way to keep a scam alive is to say to stay away from finding the truth. His reply is if the whole culture around the time Christianity started was against pagan religions then where would they pull there resources from? I can understand that, If they are not in circulation in the culture how who they get a hold of them? Since I don’t have a concrete answer I usually leave that question alone. I say that it was most likely the Romans but I have no evidence to back up my claims. Any help here?

 

We have other discussion and debates but I’ll bring them up later. Can I get some assistance with these or do I merely need to study more?

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I ask that this be moved to Rant and Replies section where it would probably be more important.

 

I'd also like to ask three more questions along with the ones in the above post.

what is the most highly accepted peer reviewed journal for the following:

Historic?

Scientific?

Archeological?

 

I'm just tried of christians claiming that such and such are accepted by historic or scientific community

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We can keep it in Colosseum for now. Me'thinks.

 

Regarding "And why would people die and allow themselves to be persecuted for a fake religion?"

 

Constantine and his successors persecuted the other denominations of Christians, while they were Christians themselves. So the heretic Christians that died during that period, either believed a lie and died for it, or believe a truth and todays Christians believe a lie.

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We can keep it in Colosseum for now. Me'thinks.

 

Regarding "And why would people die and allow themselves to be persecuted for a fake religion?"

 

Constantine and his successors persecuted the other denominations of Christians, while they were Christians themselves. So the heretic Christians that died during that period, either believed a lie and died for it, or believe a truth and todays Christians believe a lie.

I'll try to reword my question. I can see why someone would die for a jesus that would send them to hell if they didn't believe. But why would someone die for a figurative Jesus if they knew it was figurative? From what I know the Gnostics now believe in more of a spiritual jesus and not a physical one. So why die for something that didn't exist?

 

Oh and could you point me to a source that talks about the persecution. When did Constantine become a christian and when did he start persecuting them? Why were some christians fed to lions by constantine (or is it nero) and others weren't?

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I'll try to reword my question. I can see why someone would die for a jesus that would send them to hell if they didn't believe. But why would someone die for a figurative Jesus if they knew it was figurative? From what I know the Gnostics now believe in more of a spiritual jesus and not a physical one. So why die for something that didn't exist?

The same way one would die for their principles. :grin:

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Exactly - if people are convinced something is true, and important enough, they will die for it if the situation comes to it. How many died to promote the various strains of Communism throughout the world? Does that make Communism valid, because people were willing to die for it?

 

Or Jim Jones' cult - they were obviously convinced that Jimmy was on the level and ready to die for his religion. Does that make Jimmy's cult accurate?

 

Many more examples can be cited. Sometimes, it helps to turn their own bullshit excuses back on them. A little logic coupled with some facts is all your argument needs to be based on. This may not make a Xian zombie see reason, but it's a good strategy. You'll make a good case for your side of the equation, at the very least.

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I think that from what I have read the Jesus myth is based on probably a few different people that were around during that time period and they all kind of got combined into this larger idea. People had the stories passed down to them so they thought it was real and worth dying for. As far as the death of the disciples that is accounted for in the gospels, that could be just heresay. No one knows. The problem is the consistancy and sources of the Bible. They don't give a clear picture of what was going on. It is probably likely that whether Jesus existed or not, the idea of Jesus and the person of Jesus got fabricated and people followed because they were told about it and it was appealing (hope, revolution, etc.). Also, the reason that the Christians would have drawn from Pagan sources is to make the religion, as it progressed, more palatable to people in those other religions. Since Romans were the controlling power and then you also have Greece where Christianity spread, those two places were full of Pagan religion. That's why there are so many similarities. Regarding the later warnings to stay away from Pagan religions: this is obviously a ploy to make people continue to follow Christianity. There were many things added to the religion later that were never addressed in the beginning. There are also very many texts left out of the Bible that give a better idea of what all the different Christians thought. Also, people were willing to die for this because they truly believed Jesus to be the savior of the world and that there were rewards waiting for them. This idea was passed down to them and they believed it in the same way people believe it today.

 

The few resources I can point you to that might give you some ideas about Jesus and the history surrounding him are, of course, Asimov's Guide to the Bible and the Jesus Seminar Books. The Jesus Seminar, in case you didn't know, is a group of scholars, historians, etc., that basically make it their mission to determine what we can actually KNOW about Jesus if anything at all from history and text. It is very comprehensive, but if you are truly interested you will enjoy it. The main point of all of this to make to your dad is that no one really knows if Jesus really existed outside of the Biblical text. When there is someone with such widespread fame, they are usually noticed in many historical documents. There are things to consider such as the fact that Jesus never wrote anything down himself and that the earliest writings about Jesus were long after his death. At the very least, we cannot get a clear read on who Jesus was and what he did. That alone is enough to make some people leary of following a religion based on this mystery figure.

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I'll try to reword my question. I can see why someone would die for a jesus that would send them to hell if they didn't believe. But why would someone die for a figurative Jesus if they knew it was figurative? From what I know the Gnostics now believe in more of a spiritual jesus and not a physical one. So why die for something that didn't exist?

 

Oh and could you point me to a source that talks about the persecution. When did Constantine become a christian and when did he start persecuting them? Why were some christians fed to lions by constantine (or is it nero) and others weren't?

 

To die for what you believe is common. The suicide bombers even go to face death willingly on their own accord. That's in my opinion a step further than just being a martyr. It is to willingly die without persecution. There are examples of Atheists that died in prison for their faith. Or take the witches during the medieval times. To die for a cause isn't automatically a proof of truth in the belief, but that people stand up for what they believe to be true. The Christian martyrs definitely believed in their religion, but so did the pagans that were persecuted and killed, or the Philistines or Moabites in the OT. They wanted to protect their rights to believe what they always had believed. It's human nature.

 

Constantine sent troops to deal with the Donatists at Carthage in 317, that was the first attack from Christian against Christian. It resulted in banishments and executions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatist

 

The Arianists refused to accept the Nicene creed and got exiled, and their books burned. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arianism

 

Then we have Gnostic Christianity, Marcionism and Montanism, etc... all persecuted to one extent or another. I don't have any documents at the moment to reference for actual martyrs during that time, but the Byzantine history was quite bloody and the rulers killed each other at a whim, and opposition was suppressed violently, so it's not a stretch to say "heretic" Christians were killed by Orthodox Christians, and sometimes the other way around. Heretic is nothing but to declare the non-ruling religion as a target for everyone. The version of Christianity that won, was nothing but the one that won, it was not the only faith that existed. If Constantine had been Gnostic, most Christians today would have been Gnostic and so on...

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Also, the reason that the Christians would have drawn from Pagan sources is to make the religion, as it progressed, more palatable to people in those other religions. Since Romans were the controlling power and then you also have Greece where Christianity spread, those two places were full of Pagan religion. That's why there are so many similarities.

I was thinking that too. Once christianity started to move into the Greece you start to begin to see the similarities with the greek gods and christianity like hades, virign mary (athena) etc. But I'm not sure when christianity got to Rome so can't really tell how much of the bible was influenced by the greek culture. Most of the similarities I've seen so far that are very strongly connected with the gospels are egyptian stories like those of Horus and Isis and such but I don't see how that particular story could have gotten to the jews for them to borrow it. I would need to know how pagan sources actually made it inside the jewish culture which would probably be around by the time Mark was being written. What I'm really asking is what stories were in circulation inside the jewish community around the supposed death of jesus and how would they have gotten there?

 

Regarding the later warnings to stay away from Pagan religions: this is obviously a ploy to make people continue to follow Christianity. There were many things added to the religion later that were never addressed in the beginning.

Agreed

 

The few resources I can point you to that might give you some ideas about Jesus and the history surrounding him are, of course, Asimov's Guide to the Bible and the Jesus Seminar Books.
From your other post you seem to really like Asimov's Guide to the bible. I'll have to give it a read through one day :grin: .

I'm not so sure about the Jesus Seminar thing. Not because it's unrealiable, it's just that if I brought that up as a source most christians wouldn't even pay attention to it since Marcus Borg is among the scholars that even very liberal christians don't seem to respect.

 

Constantine sent troops to deal with the Donatists at Carthage in 317, that was the first attack from Christian against Christian. It resulted in banishments and executions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatist

What year did Constantine convert to christianity? Just want to see if the persecutions of other christian denominations happens after he converts.

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Just look up Council of Nicea, Constantine, and/or events that correspond to it in any encylopedia. Wikipedia is our favorite here....

 

Most will tell you that the subject matter was brought on to eliminate factioning and civil unrest in the empire. They slowly started to incorporate other pagan beliefs, stories, and festivals to bring about a common ground between religions. It also help convert pagans because of commonalities. Most of this is speculation and scholarly guesses, but of course youre not going to find a specific document that says "oh yeah... we did it to convert people." Also read the events that took place after Constantine passed away and how it resulted in the Church's rise to power... Also take a look at the pod cast .:webmaster:. did on how Christianity took advantage of the masses during the eras of the Black Plague.

 

I remember watching a documentary on tv the other month claiming, many of the beliefs, traditions, and symbols attributed to early Christianity really werent original at all. Symbold and traditions were already part of the Roman culture long before Christianity began. These include, "last supper" or the "daily bread" meals taken by people together, the cross, symbols of the dove and fish, etc.

 

Im out of town right now... and lazy... but ill get back to you with resources that make these claims.

 

-rhem

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Constantine sent troops to deal with the Donatists at Carthage in 317, that was the first attack from Christian against Christian. It resulted in banishments and executions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatist

What year did Constantine convert to christianity? Just want to see if the persecutions of other christian denominations happens after he converts.

I think its hard to say when he converted. He had the vision at 312, like a Paul on the Damascus road kind of thing. But he didn't have this vision without having some knowledge and understanding of Christianity before that. I heard somewhere that he had Christian education, but I'm not sure about that. So the Donatists and Arianists were persecuted after his vision. He didn't get baptized until his death bed though. He was the first emperor to use Christianity as a political tool, and he really did believe, since he delayed his baptism to the deathbed of the reason that he thought it would wash away all his sins just before he went to Heaven. The irony is that it was an Arianist (IIRC) that baptized him.

 

I wonder, some odd years ago there were these big demonstrations in China, where students were out on the streets protesting the Communistic regime. Some of the kids were literally run over by tanks... Or take some people that burn themselves to death to demonstrate against unfair politics. People do kill themselves for what they believe is true, because the mind can't distinguish between what we believe is true and what we know is true. We keep on mixing it up all the time, and many times what we believe also becomes what we "know".

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Why create a religion that is “fake” if there is no gain or if it isn’t true. And why would people die and allow themselves to be persecuted for a fake religion?

 

I think this whole idea of someone (intentionally) creating a fake religion is not correct, and there is nothing in the written record, that I'm aware of, that would indicate this. If this is your argument, your pastor dad is gonna have a field day with it, and leave you scratching your head.

 

Of course they believed it. Just because the gnostics and docetae didn't think Jesus had been an actual man does not mean they thought the whole thing was made up. Don't project your view of the world onto the thinking in the first century. It was a very different time, with very different ideas.

 

Paul believed what he wrote about (if you subscribe to the idea that Paul was a historical person). Lots of early christians died for their beliefs. That doesn't mean they're true. Any more than dying to catch a ride on the Hale Bop comet means it's true.

 

People will get convinced of something, and of course some will be willing to die for it. Particularly when your belief tells you that you're headed to paradise.

 

Just look at all of the "martyrs" for Islam.

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I firmly believe that the gospel writers knew that they were fabricating a story. Just like I firmly believe that Joseph Smith knew he was fabricating a story, when he sowed the seeds of Mormonism.

But it's possible that the people who made up these stories thought in some way that they were actually serving God somehow by illustrating his deeper, hidden truths to the world. Who knows?

 

By the end of the second century (when christianity began growing) no one would have the slightest idea whether any of it was true or not. Of course they believed it. But people believed all kinds of wacky shit back then. (kind of like they still do)

 

And yes, people did die for christianity. Like I said before, this proves nothing. Orthodox christians killed gnostics, too. Does that mean that gnosticism was the true faith?

 

The story that the apostles (or disciples - depending if you're in the epistles or the gospels) died martyr's deaths may not even be true. There's truly no evidence that any of those events actually happened. It's christian legend. That's all.

 

A good resource for some insights into early christianity is "A History of Christianity" by Paul Johnson. I strongly suspect there are historical facts in there that your pastor dad is not aware of.

 

I read it until about the fifth century - then lost interest - (it's over 500 pages long)..

 

"Beyond Belief" by Elaine Pagels is also good.

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I read about as much too of A History of Christianity. It's only the early Christianity that interests me anyway. Because the problems come from the root, and not from all the brances afterwards.

 

And only the first emperors of the Byzantine empire are really interesting also.

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What year did Constantine convert to christianity? Just want to see if the persecutions of other christian denominations happens after he converts.

There are two different stories about his supposed conversion depending which biography you read so look at them both (one involves the cross in the sky and the other is the painting of the chi-ro on the shields before the battle)...both were written after the fact. More than likely he stayed with Sol Invictus and Apollo until his supposed death bed coversion by Eusebius (but since Eusebus is the source we can't know for sure). Xianity was just an attempt to unify the empire under one religion.

 

mwc

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I was thinking that too. Once christianity started to move into the Greece you start to begin to see the similarities with the greek gods and christianity like hades, virign mary (athena) etc. But I'm not sure when christianity got to Rome so can't really tell how much of the bible was influenced by the greek culture. Most of the similarities I've seen so far that are very strongly connected with the gospels are egyptian stories like those of Horus and Isis and such but I don't see how that particular story could have gotten to the jews for them to borrow it. I would need to know how pagan sources actually made it inside the jewish culture which would probably be around by the time Mark was being written. What I'm really asking is what stories were in circulation inside the jewish community around the supposed death of jesus and how would they have gotten there?

Actually, one of the reasons for the Macabean revolt was because of the Helenation (sp?) of the region. The people of Jerusalem would have been quite familiar with the Greek culture including their gods. The temple stopped sacrificing to YHWH and starting sacrificing to Zeus. So the idea of the Great God and his Son would not have seemed a "far away" idea. Many Jews integrated willingly into this culture and there was a self-imposed diaspora with Jews leaving the area and settling elsewhere. After the Maccabeas revolted and reclaimed the area many of the Hellinstic ways and ideas remained. The Greeks and their ways came to the Jews and not the other way around.

 

mwc

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I think the problem is that no matter where we stand: believing in the story of christ, or believing that it's all a myth, we tend to take for granted that whatever caused the story to come about happened when the story says it happened.

 

I used to go into arguments thinking the same thing, then I realized that there's as much as a 12 year margin of error regarding the date of Jesus' birth. Additionally, there were other stories of religious rebels that were targeted by the church, the name Jesus, as well as the variants of that name was very common in that era, and as far as I'm aware (correct me if I'm wrong) the only apostle who's existence is historically verifiable is Paul, the only one who never actually met christ in the flesh.

 

Knowing these things, it is much easier to understand that there would be people who'd give their lives for this cause. It's really no different than other cults whose adherents were brainwashed and died thinking they were party to a truth that would justify their martyrdom. The story developed over a course of decades, possibly centuries, driven along by actual figures, one or more of whom may actually have been named Jesus, or Yeshua, or Joshua. These events were reported by people who may have been apostles to those figures, till it was finally co-opted by Paul, who came from a definite Mithraic influence, and turned the central figure from a wise man, favored of god, to a literal son of god, whose death was actually meant to save the world.

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I read about as much too of A History of Christianity.

 

:lmao: I KNEW you didn't make it any further than I did through that book. Remember, we were gonna read it and compare notes? It doesn't exactly read like a Stephen King novel, does it?

 

Gotta admit that there's some impressive homework behind writing that book, though.

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Yeah! I know. Since I have admitted that I'm a bit ADD, I can only focus on a good book if it keeps my interest. And it was good in the start, but then, heck, too many names and places. But I have studie a little bit more about the Byzantine, and I think if I keep on reading other sources from different angles then the History of X can be good to read again... maybe... But I remember that someone said they read it in school and had the same experience, good at first, but then boring.

 

The book would have been a bit better (and I wish this for other history books) to have more pictures of tablets, and more of when/where/how the sources to the different facts and information. It's quite hard to go back to references and try to get books or places for pictures of old stone tablets or images of papyrus fragments, so one book with all those in there would be cool.

 

Oh, another cool reference book would be a "Bible" with both canonical and all apocrypha, in chronological order. That would be a good reference book. (But probably big enough to use as a roadblock) The new True Christian Bible, reintroduce all the books those evil orthodox removed. :)

 

I think th

And I agre

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The greek influence on christianity (Hellenism) didn't begin when christianity moved into greece. It started hundreds of years earlier in Palestine - after the conquest by Alexander the Great.

 

MWC's post is really good about the Maccabean revolt and the way that the jews were accepting Greek concepts and philosophies - and it was causing problems.

 

As far as Egyptian influence, remember that the largest Jewish contingency in the diaspora (meaning outside of Jerusalem) was in Alexandria. Egypt.

 

The gospels may not have originated in Judea at all. (In fact, there's pretty good evidence that they did not)

 

The original authorship could have been Rome, or Alexandria, or Syria, or god knows where.

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I think the problem is that no matter where we stand: believing in the story of christ, or believing that it's all a myth, we tend to take for granted that whatever caused the story to come about happened when the story says it happened.

 

And, what if the original character that began the story was Jesus (Yeshu) Ben Pandira - as many Jews claim? This would have allowed for another 150 years for the oral tradition, sayings, and legendary stories to be told around the campfire.

 

Without television or internet discussion boards, what else did those clowns have to do?

 

It's a wonder by time they were done that they didn't have this Jesus character creating the universe or something.

 

Oh wait a minute. That is kinda the point where they figured - "okay - that's good enough"

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:woohoo:

Thanks for the post but the questions just keep coming.

Okay I understand why people would die for this religion whether Jesus was real or not. I also understand how Greek and Egyptian and other pagan ideas could become incorporated into the philosophy. Now this question.

 

Why start such a movement?

I can see why constantine would accept it. It's just easier to control people under one belief system. But why would they want this story told during the time Rome ruled Jerusalem? To inspire people, to give the people desperately wanting a messiah to have one, to give what they believed is inspired tales from god?

 

Also before Constantine got a hold of it. Why would believers try to spread this message that seemed to be soley for the jews? Why even try to preach to gentiles anyway?

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Again, remember that a gentile got a hold of the strands of the story and twisted it to his understanding. His understanding didn't quite agree with the Jewish understanding of the story and only the gentiles would have been ignorant enough to go with it.

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Why start such a movement?

 

For one thing - it wasn't movement. I've recently said this elsewhere on this site - but - it was "movements"..

 

Early beliefs about christianity were all over the map.

 

And remember, EVERYBODY then worshipped something. Dionyus. Mithras. Hercules. Horus. Bacchus.

 

Hell, lots of people had several religions at the same time. Christianity was one of the first to say - okay - if you wanna worship Jesus, you gotta get rid of that other guy.

 

There's even some pretty convincing evidence that Mithraism didn't just fade away. It was deliberately absorbed and combined with christianity. That's why many of the rituals are common to both.

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