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Subject: Death and the lack thereof rss

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Pragmatically turning whims into principles
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This comes from a question in another thread.

Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead?

Naturally, either he did or he didn't. I say he he did (nothing like being up-front about things).

We know that whatever happened, it caused the following things:

a) His body disappeared, and was never rediscovered. Christianity could have been stopped in its tracks if the body of their 'risen' savior had been once paraded around the streets of Jerusalem- but that never happened. And given the way Christians were persecuted in those early days, it seems more than person would have liked too.

b) The disciples grief was turned to joy! Somehow, these men who had fled when Jesus was taken to be crucified (who can blame them? The romans could be pretty mean when they wanted too) began to preach he was risen, and eventually were killed themselves for it. It seems they were convinced that he was, in fact, risen, or else why endure all that trouble? And if even one of them had confessed to perpetrating some deception, it would have given Christianities' enemies all the ammunition they needed to bring it down. But this seems never to have happened. It speaks out against them stealing the body themselves, for if they were the masters of such a grand deception it would seem they came to no profit by it. Nor could they have merely been the victims of hallucinations, for that would have left Jesus' body securely in the tomb. Somehow, they were convinced that he was in fact risen.

So. Is he alive? If not, what happened?

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Since this is a question of faith, faith, and faith and cannot be proven, what responses do you expect to receive?
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perfalbion wrote:
Since this is a question of faith, faith, and faith and cannot be proven, what responses do you expect to receive?


Surely if the resurrection occurred, it would have done so at a historical time and place? So it's a question of history and evidence as well as faith.
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Redhawke wrote:
perfalbion wrote:
Since this is a question of faith, faith, and faith and cannot be proven, what responses do you expect to receive?


Surely if the resurrection occurred, it would have done so at a historical time and place? So it's a question of history and evidence as well as faith.


You're right. Now you just need to prove that it occurred in a manner that demonstrates appropriate scientific rigor, which means ignoring any of the religious writings that presume that it did.

Since it's not possible to either prove that it did or did not happen (unless you're holding out a time machine on us), it's a matter of faith. If you believe, you believe. If you don't, you don't. Demonstrable evidence of either is exceptionally unlikely to be found.
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perfalbion wrote:
Redhawke wrote:
perfalbion wrote:
Since this is a question of faith, faith, and faith and cannot be proven, what responses do you expect to receive?


Surely if the resurrection occurred, it would have done so at a historical time and place? So it's a question of history and evidence as well as faith.


You're right. Now you just need to prove that it occurred in a manner that demonstrates appropriate scientific rigor, which means ignoring any of the religious writings that presume that it did.


Uh, no. It just means considering their merits along with those that say it did not.

If you don't think that discussing this would be profitable, well, no one's forcing you to participate.
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Knock yourself out. I just wouldn't expect any great discussion or revelations.
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Historical record is pretty sketchy, but assuming the tales of the resurrection of Jesus were at least based on fact...

Graverobbing + impersonation explains the resurrection just as well as the supernatural version, which isn't difficult to view as a post-hoc rehashing of Odin's sacrifice.

Consider the following two statements:
"It's me, Jesus, I've been resurrected, and now I have a new body (the old one was damaged)"
"It's me, Jesus, I've been resurrected, and my body is whole again"

Would the first one have been that much harder to believe than the second? If you already believed that Jesus was the son of God, neither is especially unlikely.

Years later, instead of ascending to heaven, he might have just fallen in a river, or travelled away from the region. Faced with his sudden disappearence, all it takes is one person to leap to the conclusion that he ascended, and that idea would take like wildfire.

This process of one person's word becoming 'known' fact still happens today. Chicken fat in KFC/McDonalds milkshakes, for instance?

I'm not saying that the Bible's account of Jesus is wrong (though I don't personally believe it) - I'm just saying that there is inadequate historical evidence to conclude that it's right.
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KAndrw wrote:
Historical record is pretty sketchy, but assuming the tales of the resurrection of Jesus were at least based on fact...

Graverobbing + impersonation explains the resurrection just as well as the supernatural version, which isn't difficult to view as a post-hoc rehashing of Odin's sacrifice.


Why would someone impersonate a guy who had just been executed (which, incidentally, happened quite often to anyone who said they were the messiah. The romans weren't be on revolutions)? Why would they steal a dead body and leave the graveclothes behind? (it wasn't uncommon for thieves to take the graveclothes and leave the body, but it would be something unusual for someone to take the body and leave the clothes. Carrying a naked dead guy around would attract attention, too.) And that's before we come to the guards.

Quote:
Years later, instead of ascending to heaven, he might have just fallen in a river, or travelled away from the region. Faced with his sudden disappearence, all it takes is one person to leap to the conclusion that he ascended, and that idea would take like wildfire.


No, in order to come to the conclusion that he has ascended, you need a missing body and the belief that you've seen him first. Otherwise, the conclusion most people will come to is that he's simply disappeared by virtue of being dead (public execution and all that).

Quote:
I'm not saying that the Bible's account of Jesus is wrong (though I don't personally believe it) - I'm just saying that there is inadequate historical evidence to conclude that it's right.


So what do you think happened? Graverobbery and impersonation, or something else?
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Redhawke wrote:
Why would someone impersonate a guy...

Because he believed he was Jesus? Because other people told him to? Because he wanted to carry on Jesus' work?

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No, in order to come to the conclusion that he has ascended, you need a missing body and the belief that you've seen him first.

Rubbish - people jump to inane conclusions all the time. If you believe that somebody is the messiah and they disappear, it makes perfect sense to assume they've returned to God.

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So what do you think happened? Graverobbery and impersonation, or something else?

I think a bunch of stories and myths were passed around orally, then assembled post-hoc into a narrative. Graverobbing and impersonation seems the most plausible explanation for the 'resurrection'. Disappearance seems the most likely explanation for the 'ascension'.

Another possibility is that there was more than one person walking around calling himself Jesus. One is crucified and buried in a cave, then shortly afterwards another one shows up. People wonder what happened to the original, and urban myth springs up that somebody went out and checked the cave, only to find empty burial clothes.

Either way, the stories are well within the realm of creativity seen in modern urban myths.
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An alternate question to consider:

Either Mohammad ascended to heaven on a winged horse or he did not. Regardless, we know two things:

a) His body disappeared, and was never rediscovered. Islam could have been stopped in its tracks if the body of their 'ascended' prophet had been once paraded around Arabia- but that never happened. And given the way Muslims were persecuted in those early days, it seems more than one person would have liked too.

b) His followers' faith was amazingly strengthened! Somehow, a entire subcontinent of people who worshiped a pagan pantheon of folk religion converted to the Religion of Peace within a few generations. His followers were convinced to pick up swords and risk great bodily harm to advance the cause of Islam. It seems they were convinced that Mohammad was, in fact, the one true prophet of Allah -- or else why endure all that trouble? If even one of them had confessed to some inside knowledge of Mohammad being a fake or fraud, it would have given Islam's enemies all the ammunition they needed to bring it down. But this never seems to have happened.

So did Mohammad's early followers hallucinate a pegasus? No, because this would have left Mohammad's body still on earth to be found and used against them. They were totally convinced that Mohammad was a prophet and did, in fact, ascend to heaven on a winged horse.

It seems likely that Mohammad did, in fact, ascend to heaven. If not, what happened?

(And when you thoroughly understand the reasons you reject the above story, then you'll understand the reasons non-Christians reject yours.)

Best,
Kevin
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dysjunct wrote:
An alternate question to consider:

Either Mohammad ascended to heaven on a winged horse or he did not. Regardless, we know two things:

a) His body disappeared, and was never rediscovered. Islam could have been stopped in its tracks if the body of their 'ascended' prophet had been once paraded around Arabia- but that never happened. And given the way Muslims were persecuted in those early days, it seems more than one person would have liked too.

b) His followers' faith was amazingly strengthened! Somehow, a entire subcontinent of people who worshiped a pagan pantheon of folk religion converted to the Religion of Peace within a few generations. His followers were convinced to pick up swords and risk great bodily harm to advance the cause of Islam. It seems they were convinced that Mohammad was, in fact, the one true prophet of Allah -- or else why endure all that trouble? If even one of them had confessed to some inside knowledge of Mohammad being a fake or fraud, it would have given Islam's enemies all the ammunition they needed to bring it down. But this never seems to have happened.

So did Mohammad's early followers hallucinate a pegasus? No, because this would have left Mohammad's body still on earth to be found and used against them. They were totally convinced that Mohammad was a prophet and did, in fact, ascend to heaven on a winged horse.

It seems likely that Mohammad did, in fact, ascend to heaven. If not, what happened?

(And when you thoroughly understand the reasons you reject the above story, then you'll understand the reasons non-Christians reject yours.)

Best,
Kevin


You do realize Mohammad was dead and buried, and his (occupied) tomb is with us today? That's why I reject it. Body of Jesus, anyone? Anywhere?
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My take on it.
Not convinced that a historical Jesus existed. James has clear history. But Jesus? Let's assume he existed.

If he was human and only human and assuming he was totally dead then rising from the dead is a miracle or supernatural event.

If he was a, or the, deity then thats supernatural already and rising from the dead is par for the course.

Once supernatural events are accepted our understanding of space and time becomes irrelevant and loses its power to predict or explain. We then rely on our metaphysics which are suspiciously congruent with cultural beliefs.

Either something supernatural happened (I doubt us drawing correct conclusions about this) or something natural happened. If it was natural then he didnt exist or he wasn't dead on the cross or people were wrong when they say they saw him.


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Redhawke wrote:
Body of Jesus, anyone? Anywhere?

I'm pretty sure that its in India according to the locals there.
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Redhawke wrote:
You do realize Mohammad was dead and buried, and his (occupied) tomb is with us today? That's why I reject it. Body of Jesus, anyone? Anywhere?


Whoops, you are completely correct -- my bad. I am, obviously, not a Muslim. However this doesn't significantly alter the counterargument. Your argument is essentially:

1. There is a historical claim of an event with an initial improbability, because the event is of a type which we don't see in our own lives (in your case, someone dying and then coming back to life).

2. Then an argument is advanced that some people's behavior changed radically after the event allegedly happened, and the only possible explanation for this change is that the improbable event actually occurred.

The problem with this argument is that there are many possible explanations for #2. People passionately believe false things all the time and change their lives as a result. I offered an argument from a Muslim perspective (to make it accurate, replace "ascended to heaven on a winged horse" with "provided prophecy from the true and living God") but there are innumerable parodies one could make of your argument -- in fact, one for every major religion or belief system that you reject.

- Is it really possible that a young boy with next to no formal education could really have fabricated a work of ancient scripture that would have inspired thousands of modern people to move halfway across a continent? Therefore, Joseph Smith Jr. must have received and translated the golden plates as described in his narratives.

- Many of the Buddha's followers witnessed him being in two places at the same time. Even ancient peoples knew this was impossible. The dominant Hindu culture wanted nothing more than to get rid of this pesky reformer. All that they needed to do was expose a body double attempting to imitate Gautama Shakyamuni -- yet they couldn't do it. Therefore, the Buddha's miracles must have actually happened.

- (etc.)

Best,
Kevin
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KAndrw wrote:
Redhawke wrote:
Why would someone impersonate a guy...

Because he believed he was Jesus? Because other people told him to? Because he wanted to carry on Jesus' work?


Because he was a wanted criminal? Who was under sentence of execution?

Besides that, it seems to defy belief that an impostor could fool a large number of people who had been very close to Jesus for a number of years- not just the 12 disciples, but his family and other close friends as well.

Let's not forget- there were guards in place to prevent such an occurrence. And once again, the question- why leave the graveclothes and carry a naked body around with you?

Quote:
Quote:
No, in order to come to the conclusion that he has ascended, you need a missing body and the belief that you've seen him first.

Rubbish - people jump to inane conclusions all the time. If you believe that somebody is the messiah and they disappear, it makes perfect sense to assume they've returned to God.


Perhaps, but if you see someone be executed, it makes perfect sense to assume they are dead. Also (and this applies to the above point as well) none of his followers were expecting a resurrection. They took to locking themselves in an upstairs room not because they expected their savior to show up again at any moment, but because they were scared that they might be next!

Quote:
Quote:
So what do you think happened? Graverobbery and impersonation, or something else?

I think a bunch of stories and myths were passed around orally, then assembled post-hoc into a narrative. Graverobbing and impersonation seems the most plausible explanation for the 'resurrection'. Disappearance seems the most likely explanation for the 'ascension'.


My main critique of this idea lies in the fact that the gospels were written quite soon after the events themselves, in archaeological terms. Within the lifetimes of those involved, in fact. If any myths were added to them, they were added quickly. So quickly, in fact, that the Pharisees could have said, "I met Jesus once, and he was nothing like this." I know of no situation, however, where this occurs from the archaeological finds we have (if you do, please, share).

The life of the Apostles speaks to the fact that they were either genuinely deluded or in possession of the truth, not the deceivers themselves if deception did occur.

Quote:
Another possibility is that there was more than one person walking around calling himself Jesus. One is crucified and buried in a cave, then shortly afterwards another one shows up. People wonder what happened to the original, and urban myth springs up that somebody went out and checked the cave, only to find empty burial clothes.


What happened to the real body then? There was a lot of hatred and criticism of Christianity in those early days, but I know of no ancient author who levied the criticism that Jesus body had (that it was derived from pagan myths, for example), in fact, been found.

Quote:
Either way, the stories are well within the realm of creativity seen in modern urban myths.


I disagree, but I'm not sure that's the point. I do think the scenarios you outlined are improbable in the extreme (okay, so there's some irony that the guy who believes in the resurrection is discussing improbable things. Whatever.)

Thanks for thumbing my post, by the way. Can't say I expected that from a guy who doesn't agree with me.

Pinook wrote:
Redhawke wrote:
Body of Jesus, anyone? Anywhere?

I'm pretty sure that its in India according to the locals there.


For that to be the case, he would have to have lived through his execution. I don't know enough about the specific example you speak of to comment on it in its own merits, but if you'd like, permit me the luxury of research and I'll have an answer for you in a day or two.
 
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dysjunct wrote:
Redhawke wrote:
You do realize Mohammad was dead and buried, and his (occupied) tomb is with us today? That's why I reject it. Body of Jesus, anyone? Anywhere?


Whoops, you are completely correct -- my bad. I am, obviously, not a Muslim. However this doesn't significantly alter the counterargument.


It makes you seem more reasoned, though.

Quote:
Your argument is essentially:

1. There is a historical claim of an event with an initial improbability, because the event is of a type which we don't see in our own lives (in your case, someone dying and then coming back to life).

2. Then an argument is advanced that some people's behavior changed radically after the event allegedly happened, and the only possible explanation for this change is that the improbable event actually occurred.


No, you're missing how vitally important the missing body is for the case of the resurrection. Just as we know Mohammad didn't ascend to heaven on a white horse because we have his body, we could know that Jesus was not raised by his body being present. But it's not, and as far as we can tell, it's been missing since that first Easter morning.

I don't know how you'd put that in the terms you laid out above. But still, it's important.

Quote:
The problem with this argument is that there are many possible explanations for #2. People passionately believe false things all the time and change their lives as a result. I offered an argument from a Muslim perspective (to make it accurate, replace "ascended to heaven on a winged horse" with "provided prophecy from the true and living God") but there are innumerable parodies one could make of your argument -- in fact, one for every major religion or belief system that you reject.


Sounds nice in theory, Kevin, and yet I've not seen one that I could not shoot down on it's own merits. That's what made the resurrection of Christ different to me, back in my atheist days- I could debunk the others. This one I could not.

Quote:
- Is it really possible that a young boy with next to no formal education could really have fabricated a work of ancient scripture that would have inspired thousands of modern people to move halfway across a continent? Therefore, Joseph Smith Jr. must have received and translated the golden plates as described in his narratives.


I take it you've never read the Book of Mormon?

Our Mormon friends may disagree with me (which might be bad, since I expected them to be my allies in defense of a real resurrection, but oh well), but the Book of Mormon is not a book that an educated man would write. In brief, it is filled with contradictions (both with itself and standard Mormon doctrine), historical inaccuracies, grammar and spelling mistakes, and just plain bad writing. And not very politically correct, either.

(No, you don't get to levy the same charge against the Bible. There's another thread for that.)

Quote:
- Many of the Buddha's followers witnessed him being in two places at the same time. Even ancient peoples knew this was impossible. The dominant Hindu culture wanted nothing more than to get rid of this pesky reformer. All that they needed to do was expose a body double attempting to imitate Gautama Shakyamuni -- yet they couldn't do it. Therefore, the Buddha's miracles must have actually happened.


Again, this really deserves it's own thread, but briefly:

- Many Buddhists deny the law of non-contradiction, so the evidence doesn't matter to them at all (maybe they deny and not deny it at the same time though).
- The records of Buddha's miracles are generally found in works long after the events themselves occurred. This is not the case with the Gospels, or any of the Bible for that matter.

 
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There are an awful lot of assumptions underlying this entire thread. Primarily that the Christian accounts of what happened some two thousand years ago is accurate even in a vague sense.

In regards to the lack of a body, why are we assuming that a)There even was a Jesus, b) There ever was a crucifixion and c) even if there was who's to say that a body wasn't produced?

As for the disciples, same deal. Why are we assuming that the disciples we know of were real people, why are we assuming that the accounts of their joy and martyrdom are factual and why are we assuming that there weren't any speaking out against the truth of the resurrection?

Do you have any idea how poor our records are of that era? To just assume that the few surviving records we have are the truth is a massive fallacy, specially if they are of religious origin.
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Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed and Elvis are all kicking back at Antone's this weekend.

Not that I blame them- Alejandro Escovedra is playing tonight and I can't go! *argh*

http://www.antones.net/

Ok, Non snarky answer...
Jesus, and all the others, are alive because the traces of their lives resonate with our own today. Their lives still have profound meaning to us, years after the death of their physical body. What is important are their IDEAS.

The rest is, as they say, are details. What's REALLY important about Jesus' teachings? His ideas of the New Covenant with God based upon love and brotherhood? Or that he "came back from the dead"?

Given that his ideas transcended his sacrifice on the Cross, I'm not that concerned about the rest.

Then again, I have very odd views about religion, or so I've been told............

Darilian
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kopje koffie wrote:
There are an awful lot of assumptions underlying this entire thread. Primarily that the Christian accounts of what happened some two thousand years ago is accurate even in a vague sense.

In regards to the lack of a body, why are we assuming that a)There even was a Jesus, b) There ever was a crucifixion


Jesus is referenced in many extrabiblical sources. Josephus is the most famous but by no means the only example.

Quote:
and c) even if there was who's to say that a body wasn't produced?


The utter lack of testimony on this subject by even those who were unsympathetic towards the Christian religion. There were many people who came up with different ideas about what Jesus said and done, but none of them ever denied that his body was missing.

Quote:
As for the disciples, same deal. Why are we assuming that the disciples we know of were real people, why are we assuming that the accounts of their joy and martyrdom are factual and why are we assuming that there weren't any speaking out against the truth of the resurrection?


I know of no gospel, Christian, gnostic, or otherwise who denied the resurrection. Do you? Sure, they disagreed about its implications and nature and so forth, but universal is the idea that a resurrection did occur among the earlier community of even those loosely called christians. .

Quote:
Do you have any idea how poor our records are of that era? To just assume that the few surviving records we have are the truth is a massive fallacy, specially if they are of religious origin.


First, you should know that by most standard imposed on ancient documents for accuracy, the Canonal Gospels pass with flying colors on every account. They were a) Written quite soon after the events themselves, b) Have many copies in existence, each retaining mostly the same in content (though I do not deny that any differences exist).

Darilian wrote:
Ok, Non snarky answer...
Jesus, and all the others, are alive because the traces of their lives resonate with our own today. Their lives still have profound meaning to us, years after the death of their physical body. What is important are their IDEAS.


Their ideas are important, yes. But what good is the idea of a redeeming savior without a resurrection, a conquering of death, hell, and the grave?

Quote:
The rest is, as they say, are details. What's REALLY important about Jesus' teachings? His ideas of the New Covenant with God based upon love and brotherhood? Or that he "came back from the dead"?

Given that his ideas transcended his sacrifice on the Cross, I'm not that concerned about the rest.


But his death on the cross is useless without his resurrection. Any men may die. What makes him different from others without a resurrection? I could die of crucification. His resurrection makes him unique, noteworthy.

If you claim to be a christian and contend his rising again is of no importance, think again!

Corinthians 15:14 wrote:
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.


If you are not a Christian, then naturally the above is of no importance to you.
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Redhawke wrote:

Jesus is referenced in many extrabiblical sources. Josephus is the most famous but by no means the only example.

For a discussion of the Historicity Of Jesus see http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/scott_oser/hojfaq.htm...
 
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Jesus is referenced in many extrabiblical sources. Josephus is the most famous but by no means the only example.

But, Josephus was not a contemporary of Jesus. He lived AFTER the time of Jesus. Can you name a single extrabiblical contemporary who wrote of him? Me neither.

From Wikipedia:
There are two extant references in Josephus on Jesus, the one directly concerning Jesus has come to be known as the Testimonium Flavianum. These passages appear in The Antiquities of the Jews, written in the year 93 by the Jewish historian Josephus. All extant copies of this work, which all derive from Christian sources, even the recently recovered Arabic version, contain the two passages about Jesus. The authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum has been disputed since the 17th century, and by the mid 18th century the consensus view was that it was a forgery.

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Redhawke wrote:
kopje koffie wrote:
There are an awful lot of assumptions underlying this entire thread. Primarily that the Christian accounts of what happened some two thousand years ago is accurate even in a vague sense.

In regards to the lack of a body, why are we assuming that a)There even was a Jesus, b) There ever was a crucifixion


Jesus is referenced in many extrabiblical sources. Josephus is the most famous but by no means the only example.


Many? Try zero contemporary sources and a handful of sources decades later, typically derived from earlier religious records.

But regardless, the existing records are insufficient to call your conclusions in the original post logical. We need to first assume a great deal of things which we cannot possible know.

As an aside, how do you feel about the (far more contemporary) sources claiming that Alexander the Great was visited by Zeus in Egypt and told he was his son?


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To be frank, I would be amazed if Yoshka's body were found because I think it unlikely he existed rather than being an amalgam of several people and mythologies. Of course, I'm not a Christian.

A Christian believes Yoshka existed etc. So, it seems to me that the OP will carry much weight with Christians and little or none with non-Christians.

NOTE:
I thumbed the post about Mohammed's body in spite of the fact we know where his tomb is located precisely because it was intended [details aside] to ask you to look at the question from a non-Christian perspective. It takes much of Christian mythology for granted implicitly.

Redhawke wrote:
dysjunct wrote:
An alternate question to consider:

Either Mohammad ascended to heaven on a winged horse or he did not. Regardless, we know two things:

a) His body disappeared, and was never rediscovered. Islam could have been stopped in its tracks if the body of their 'ascended' prophet had been once paraded around Arabia- but that never happened. And given the way Muslims were persecuted in those early days, it seems more than one person would have liked too.

b) His followers' faith was amazingly strengthened! Somehow, a entire subcontinent of people who worshiped a pagan pantheon of folk religion converted to the Religion of Peace within a few generations. His followers were convinced to pick up swords and risk great bodily harm to advance the cause of Islam. It seems they were convinced that Mohammad was, in fact, the one true prophet of Allah -- or else why endure all that trouble? If even one of them had confessed to some inside knowledge of Mohammad being a fake or fraud, it would have given Islam's enemies all the ammunition they needed to bring it down. But this never seems to have happened.

So did Mohammad's early followers hallucinate a pegasus? No, because this would have left Mohammad's body still on earth to be found and used against them. They were totally convinced that Mohammad was a prophet and did, in fact, ascend to heaven on a winged horse.

It seems likely that Mohammad did, in fact, ascend to heaven. If not, what happened?

(And when you thoroughly understand the reasons you reject the above story, then you'll understand the reasons non-Christians reject yours.)

Best,
Kevin


You do realize Mohammad was dead and buried, and his (occupied) tomb is with us today? That's why I reject it. Body of Jesus, anyone? Anywhere?
 
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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For the record, Josephus was two or three centuries later than the date at which it is claimed Yoshka existed.
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I'm only chiming in because I'm interested in the logical exercise, not in proving anyone or anything wrong.

The motive for pretending that Jesus rose from the dead can't be so easily dismissed. His resurrection made him a big deal. It defied the authority of Rome, gave hope to the oppressed, and firmly cemented the authenticity of his teachings. Since messianic figures were often executed, some might have considered Jesus' message worth the subterfuge of distinguishing him via resurrection.

Leaving so quickly after his resurrection would provide a cover for impostors to not keep up the ruse and risk being found out or executed and starting over with another impostor. If they had kept it up, the hypothetical ruse would have been easily foiled.

Convincing a crowd or two could have been enough. Word of mouth is powerful; people sometimes believe all sorts of things today simply on word of mouth, despite documentation in written or video form of what actually happened. Governor Palin didn't say, "I can see Russia from my house," and Vice President Gore did not say, "I invented the internet." In an era without such documentation, word of mouth would be all you had. Once word of mouth was on Jesus' side, no amount of documentation from Rome would have been considered credible.

Once there was momentum behind the resurrection of Jesus, I doubt Rome's producing the body would have made a difference. Given the sorts of processes that occur in dead bodies in hot climates, one subjected to the tortures that Jesus went through might become unrecognizable fairly quickly. It would have been easy to dismiss it as another person mutilated to fit the description. Given that the empire was vile enough to have tortured one citizen to death, they'd certainly be willing to torture another to discredit the first one. WIthout CSI: Jerusalem to make the call, it's God said, despot said.

Regarding Jesus' body. If any of his followers wanted to fake his resurrection, they would have to consider disposing of the body, no matter how sacred it might be. It would be a liability to keep it for future veneration.

If the resurrection was faked, then one of the perpetrators saying, "If you don't believe it, you don't believe anything else we teach," fits in the scheme. It is also simultaneously true in two very different ways. In one way, making the resurrection so pivotal to Christianity meant there was no backing out later; questioning the credibility of the resurrection meant questioning everything else. In another way, it would be possible to separate the Before and After as Jesus and Not Jesus. The teachings of Jesus weren't necessarily invalidated by the actions of his followers after his death.
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