Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Offending the god botherers

Are these things you quote here true?

I suppose that depends on your perspective.

You can either start with the premise that those who witnessed the events made true record of it, both the early Christians as well as those with no axe to grind, even those who would stand opposed to the burgeoning Christian "sect". How you then interpret that is down to your theology

or

You can start with the premise that you don't believe in God therefore no historical account, no matter who wrote and accounted for it or what weight of evidence exists for the events is "factual".

I suppose the latter is fine if you are intellectually consistent and refuse to accept any historical account of any event you haven't personally witnessed or experienced as having taken place. The alternative is that you are selective in what you accept as a historical account depending on your religious/political/philosophical lens. Of course if it's the former you have to accept that you progress through life in a state of ignorance, if it's the latter that you have difficulty in having your preconceptions challenged.

So on balance, given the weight of evidence that exists from many sources (not just the Biblical accounts), I would say yes, the events described are true. It then becomes a matter of faith as to whether you believe the events that took place are part of a relationship between the Divine and the mortal or just the unfortunate demise of a man who sought what he believed was for the good of his fellow man. I, for many reasons based in what philosophers call "apophatic encounter" prefer the former, I suspect you the latter. For me that's fine and I can afford all due respect to that perspective and am happy always to debate the points without necessarily wishing to convert you to my way of thinking or mock if you were to do the same in return.
 
I suppose the latter is fine if you are intellectually consistent and refuse to accept any historical account of any event you haven't personally witnessed or experienced as having taken place. The alternative is that you are selective in what you accept as a historical account depending on your religious/political/philosophical lens. Of course if it's the former you have to accept that you progress through life in a state of ignorance, if it's the latter that you have difficulty in having your preconceptions challenged.

I am far from convinced that they are the only possible personal philosophies permitted to any individual.

The first option is solipsism and I agree that is a daft way to view the world. It is what gives rise to beliefs like flat earth etc.

You do not have to accept historical evidence through your own personal filter. You can base your acceptance/rejection of any account based on a non-personal filter of "how likely is this"; "how good is the evidence";"is it multiply sourced"; "what were the motivations of the writer" etc. The fundamentals of historiography.

I reject many historical accounts (there be dragons, ships sailing off the edge of the world, the Chinese colonising America,all the von Daniken bollix, wacky stuff about aliens/pyramids etc). This rejection is not based on my personal values but rather an impersonal checklist of question everything unless "it is impossible/ridiculous", "it is axiomatic" or "it has it been addressed a thousand times already".
 
I suppose that depends on your perspective.

You can either start with the premise that those who witnessed the events made true record of it, both the early Christians as well as those with no axe to grind, even those who would stand opposed to the burgeoning Christian "sect". How you then interpret that is down to your theology

or

You can start with the premise that you don't believe in God therefore no historical account, no matter who wrote and accounted for it or what weight of evidence exists for the events is "factual".

I suppose the latter is fine if you are intellectually consistent and refuse to accept any historical account of any event you haven't personally witnessed or experienced as having taken place. The alternative is that you are selective in what you accept as a historical account depending on your religious/political/philosophical lens. Of course if it's the former you have to accept that you progress through life in a state of ignorance, if it's the latter that you have difficulty in having your preconceptions challenged.

So on balance, given the weight of evidence that exists from many sources (not just the Biblical accounts), I would say yes, the events described are true. It then becomes a matter of faith as to whether you believe the events that took place are part of a relationship between the Divine and the mortal or just the unfortunate demise of a man who sought what he believed was for the good of his fellow man. I, for many reasons based in what philosophers call "apophatic encounter" prefer the former, I suspect you the latter. For me that's fine and I can afford all due respect to that perspective and am happy always to debate the points without necessarily wishing to convert you to my way of thinking or mock if you were to do the same in return.

I appreciate your respectful and measured reply - in light of which it just wouldn't be classy on my part to try to discuss theology.
I would however, be grateful if you would clarify a number of things you have stated:

1. You state "So on balance, given the weight of evidence that exists from many sources (not just the Biblical accounts), I would say yes, the events described are true."
  • Would you please specify the non "biblical accounts" from "many sources" that you count as evidence.
  • Would you please explain why you count them as evidence - I mean, how do you know they are true?
  • Given the fact that there are so many glaring contradictions, inconsistencies and omisssions in the New Testament - how did you decide which accounts are true?
2. You specified the premise "those who witnessed the events made true record of it." - Would you please
specify which are accounts of actual witnesses, how you determined that they really were actual
witnesses and your methodology in determining which/what of their accounts are "true".

3. Given that in any debriefing following an incident there can be differences/discrepancies between the
accounts of the people involved, do you view religious scriptures as a special case in which discrepencies
should be ignored? If not, on what basis did you decide which accounts in the New Testament are
correct?

4. You responded to the question "are these quotes true" with "I suppose it depends on your perspective". - Is "truth" dependent on individual perspective?
 
Last edited:
@loofkar

Good post and one I don't really disagree with.

Whilst I am a lifelong atheist I pretty much accept most of the New Testament as history filtered through poor reportage, poor recording, multiple translations and the passage of time (but without the magical underpinning).

The main reason for this is that most of the biblical account of the life of Christ is supported by Roman historical sources (and is thus untainted by magical thinking).

So if a Roman wrote about both the Battle of the Teutoburg Wald/Battle of Minden and about roughly concurrent events in Israel it is not unreasonable to give equal validity to each of them (subject to the restrictions mentioned above).

It seems highly likely that a bloke called "Jesus Christ" existed and was nailed to a piece of wood. Whether or not he was the son of god is a different matter best left to the individual.
 
You do not have to accept historical evidence through your own personal filter. You can base your acceptance/rejection of any account based on a non-personal filter of "how likely is this"; "how good is the evidence";"is it multiply sourced"; "what were the motivations of the writer" etc. The fundamentals of historiography.

Briefly, to answerer a couple of those points:

Multiple sources - yes. Flavios Joesphus, Thallos, Pilate's Annals, Tacitus all wrote contempoary accounts of what they witnessed. Pilate wrote a first hand account.

Then there are the synopitic scripts that never made the canon of the gospels. Plus Paul's early accounts from the days he was persecuting the Christians. ten there's the Talmud and Mara bar Serapion.

You wojld have to ask each their motivations, but I think there's sufficient to say that cohort represents a broad view.


@loofkar

Good post and one I don't really disagree with.

Whilst I am a lifelong atheist I pretty much accept most of the New Testament as history filtered through poor reportage, poor recording, multiple translations and the passage of time (but without the magical underpinning).

The main reason for this is that most of the biblical account of the life of Christ is supported by Roman historical sources (and is thus untainted by magical thinking).

So if a Roman wrote about both the Battle of the Teutoburg Wald/Battle of Minden and about roughly concurrent events in Israel it is not unreasonable to give equal validity to each of them (subject to the restrictions mentioned above).

It seems highly likely that a bloke called "Jesus Christ" existed and was nailed to a piece of wood. Whether or not he was the son of god is a different matter best left to the individual.

Which is exactly my point. You can have a forensic disection of historical account in the form of cross-examination, but in the end as with a court case, it comes down to which narrative does the jury prefer based on the weight of evidence and the manner in which it was presented.

Where I think we would find common ground is on the "historical Jesus" , as I said before, where we might differ is on the narrative.
 
Last edited:
I appreciate your respectful and measured reply - in light of which it just wouldn't be classy on my part to try to discuss theology.
I would however, be grateful if you would clarify a number of things you have stated:

1. You state "So on balance, given the weight of evidence that exists from many sources (not just the Biblical accounts), I would say yes, the events described are true."
  • Would you please specify the non "biblical accounts" from "many sources" that you count as evidence.
  • Would you please explain why you count them as evidence - I mean, how do you know they are true?
  • Given the fact that there are so many glaring contradictions, inconsistencies and omisssions in the New Testament - how did you decide which accounts are true?
See my post above listing about half a dozen contemporary commentators, including Pilate himself. Ditto my post, they are largely corroborated by acheological evidence and each other, given they were written from very different perspectives.

The gospels don't contain glaring contradictions. Inconsistencies and omissions you would expect from any witness statement where there wasn't an element of copying. You also have to remember that the Gospels were written for different audiences and so emphasised different elements of the events. There is nothign to suggest that just because John would emphasis to a Roman audience the elements now referred to as dogmatic theology and Matthew the parabalic tradition for the (largely) Gallilean audience emphasised the continuity with Jewish tradition doesn't make them untrue.

2. You specified the premise "those who witnessed the events made true record of it." - Would you please
specify which are accounts of actual witnesses, how you determined that they really were actual
witnesses and your methodology in determining which/what of their accounts are "true".
Pilate P, Annals.

3. Given that in any debriefing following an incident there can be differences/discrepancies between the
accounts of the people involved, do you view religious scriptures as a special case in which discrepencies
should be ignored? If not, on what basis did you decide which accounts in the New Testament are
correct?
Again, you would have to point to an actual discrepancy that fundamentally challenges the narrative. If for example Matthew said Jesus went to the wedding in Canaa and John emphatically said he did not and that it was in fact John the Baptist you would have a point.

If Matthew described the wedding and omitted to describe Mary's attire while Luke included that detail then it doesn't really fundamentally challenge the premise of the account(s).

If you want to point to an instance where one gospel flatly contradicts another, as opposed to either having some detail in one that isn't contained in another, then we can look at it in some depth.
4. You responded to the question "are these quotes true" with "I suppose it depends on your perspective". - Is "truth" dependent on individual perspective?

It is insofar as there are those for whom no amount of evidence will ever meet their subjective test of the balance of probabilities. Put it this way, there will always be some that if Jesus was stood there in front of you, 5 wounds visible as they were to Thomas and able to see the kingdom of heaven and all the Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Choirs and Dominions of angels with the litany of Saints standing there to beheld would still convince themselves it was the product of a dodgy curry the night before.
 
.
loofkar said:
4. You responded to the question "are these quotes true" with "I suppose it depends on your perspective". - Is "truth" dependent on individual perspective?

It is insofar as there are those for whom no amount of evidence will ever meet their subjective test of the balance of probabilities. Put it this way, there will always be some that if Jesus was stood there in front of you, 5 wounds visible as they were to Thomas and able to see the kingdom of heaven and all the Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Choirs and Dominions of angels with the litany of Saints standing there to beheld would still convince themselves it was the product of a dodgy curry the night before.

So if, as you replied here, "it is" (dependent on individual perspective), do you believe there is something else that corresponds to the dictionary definition of "truth" i.e. "truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality" - as opposed to your determination that truth merely depends on individual perspective?
 
So if, as you replied here, "it is" (dependent on individual perspective), do you believe there is something else that corresponds to the dictionary definition of "truth" i.e. "truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality" - as opposed to your determination that truth merely depends on individual perspective?
My point is that my understanding is in accord with the definition.

I also make the point that if truth accords to facts, it depends on those facts you accept.

Granted this could lead to a circular argument, but as I said if you take that to its logical conclusion you could conjecture the fact that Jesus risen from the dead and ascended to heaven with the cohorts of the angelic throng could be stood in front of some people as a matter of fact and they would dismiss that fact as an ocular illusion caused by a bad curry the night before.
 
The gospels don't contain glaring contradictions. Inconsistencies and omissions you would expect from any witness statement where there wasn't an element of copying.

You just stated that the gospels don't contain contradictions, but the following is an example of contradictory accounts - not inconsistencies nor ommissions:
a. In Matthew 27:5 Judas hangs himself.
b. In Acts 1:18 he bursts open and his insides spill out.
c. According to the apostle Paul, neither of the above is true. Paul says Jesus appeared to "the twelve" after his resurrection. Mark 14:20 makes it clear that Judas was one of the twelve.

Bearing in mind that you do accept there are inconsistencies and ommisions, how do you decide which version is true?
Once you have decided which account is true, how do you trust anything written by authors of the other accounts?
 
You also have to remember that the Gospels were written for different audiences and so emphasised different elements of the events. There is nothign to suggest that just because John would emphasis to a Roman audience the elements now referred to as dogmatic theology and Matthew the parabalic tradition for the (largely) Gallilean audience emphasised the continuity with Jewish tradition doesn't make them untrue.

Nothing new about spin then?
 
You just stated that the gospels don't contain contradictions, but the following is an example of contradictory accounts - not inconsistencies nor ommissions:
a. In Matthew 27:5 Judas hangs himself.
b. In Acts 1:18 he bursts open and his insides spill out.
c. According to the apostle Paul, neither of the above is true. Paul says Jesus appeared to "the twelve" after his resurrection. Mark 14:20 makes it clear that Judas was one of the twelve.

Bearing in mind that you do accept there are inconsistencies and ommisions, how do you decide which version is true?
Once you have decided which account is true, how do you trust anything written by authors of the other accounts?

If you look at the whole of the passage in Acts, Peter is explaining to the church in Jerusalem that Judas is no longer one of the twelve and that his body (and this is where it depends on the translation "fell" or "was placed" in a field where his "sides/body split open and his intestines spilled out" (a common occurance after a body is hanged and left for a few days and the organs rot and expel gas) . At which point Matthias was chosen to replace Judas, making it twelve. You also have to differentiate Judas the Son of James and Judas Iscariot, the latter of whom betrayed Jesus the former remained a loyal disciple, bother reference in the passage

What that passage doesn't say is that Judas wasn't hanged, it described what happened to his body afterwards.

Mark 14 tells of the preparation for, and the holding of the Last Supper. Jesus foretells of his betrayal which Judas did before the Passover (so as not to be ritually unclean). It was after the Passover that Jesus was arrested, and tried, it was then that Judas hung himself.
 
Bearing in mind that you do accept there are inconsistencies and ommisions, how do you decide which version is true?
Once you have decided which account is true, how do you trust anything written by authors of the other accounts?
And how do you account for the Gospels that were omitted because they didn't fit the narrative of the time?
10 are listed here, but there are more.
 
My point is that my understanding is in accord with the definition.

I also make the point that if truth accords to facts, it depends on those facts you accept.

Granted this could lead to a circular argument, but as I said if you take that to its logical conclusion you could conjecture the fact that Jesus risen from the dead and ascended to heaven with the cohorts of the angelic throng could be stood in front of some people as a matter of fact and they would dismiss that fact as an ocular illusion caused by a bad curry the night before.


Is it central to Christian belief that Jesus's mother was a virgin? I am not asking in order to get into a discussion on theology. I'm asking because after hearing so much talk about the Virgin Mary, the thought arose, on a practical level, who could possibly have known whether or not she was a virgin prior to becoming pregnant?
 
Last edited:
I think Mary had children before she had the baby jesus.

I think the "virgin" bit refers to the nature of the conception, i.e it was "immaculate" insofar as there was no sweaty rumpy pumpy with god.
 

Latest Threads

Top