Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

Maybe you've heard the adage, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." It is not incumbent on the "non-believer" to prove their extraordinary claims for the "believer." The religious adherent believes there was a super-natural being performing miraculous, impractical, illogical and unscientific activities (along with a 600-year-old man gathering two of every species in the world and other outlandish evangelical apocrypha). The burden of proof falls on the individual making those claims to prove their contentions, not the other way around.

Logical objections to nonsensical medieval miracles are based on scientific evaluations, common sense, and the clear evidence of what we have, not what we don't have (aka, blind faith). Compare factual scientific and archaeological data to what's written in archaic text; to what was written 2000-4000 years ago, by men who thought we lived on a flat planet; by writers who had no knowledge of the Jurassic (about 200 million years ago) or Cretaceous (66 million years ago) epochs, and it would be tantamount to comparing Einstein to a first-grader.

The skeptic (or in religions parlance, the heretic) is not claiming, for example, the Greek son of God, Hercules, whose life resembles that of Jesus Christ in many ways, is actually a real historical figure. Therefore, the skeptics burden of proof should not be greater than that of the people making the extraordinary claims. Fallacious assertions such as Jesus walking on water, being raised from the dead, a 600-year old man - Noah - building an Ark, God parting the Red Sea, etc.

Christian theologians, scholars, and historians however, tend to rely on less evidence for proof of their faith, than for comparative religious mythology and for those who challenge their preposterous pious pronouncements. In other words, they want evidence for every minute detail when one speaks against their archaic beliefs, and all the believer needs is "faith."

The heretic is required to provide mountains of evidence, in different languages, various cultures, as far back into antiquity as you can go, to show conflicting motifs, contrasting themes, and origins.

In order to convince themselves that 2000 years ago, the god of the cosmos came to Earth (of all the other sextillions of planets that harbor thinking beings) in the womb of a virgin, performed miracles, raised the dead, transfigured on a mount, calmed a storm, resurrected himself from the dead, for all these miraculous events, Christians require nothing more than blind faith and ten percent of your monthly income.

There is no proof other than the New Testament, so their standards are extremely low. There are no physical artifacts from the first century that support such ludicrous claims. There are no autographs or originals of the Gospels or Epistles. There is no evidence in the literary record of the existence of the Canonical Gospels as they would have been before the end of the second century.

The Bible we have today is not quoted verbatim, and none of the fabricated, plagiarized literature, appears anywhere in the annals of human history.

Furthermore, there is not a shred of evidence to show that the gospels were written by the people whose names are presented in the Bible. We don't have proof that the authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, actually lived, as depicted in the New Testament.

The stories pertaining to Saint Paul, were not recorded anywhere (except the Bible). Fantastic stories like Paul being brought before Caesar (Acts 25:10), rampaging with hundreds of troops, he's in a ship wreck, escapes from a Roman prison, none of these significant events make it into the historical records of that particular time.

There is no information in any
contemporary writings of that particular epoch. Jesus is quoted and paraphrased to the tenth power. However, the plethora of forgeries and fabrications don't emerge until a century has passed. There really is no evidence for the entire Christian story other than the New Testament which is about 90 percent plagiarized from Egyptian mythology (the  later).

In addition, at the death of Jesus; 1st Corinthians, 500 people supposedly witnessed the resurrection; there were earthquakes, the sun darkened, the saints rose up out of the ground and wandered through the streets of Jerusalem; Matthew 27: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." None of this finds its way into the contemporary record. You have to wonder why. The believer can't just say, "provide me with all types of documentation related to pre-Christian cultures and apocryphal stories but I'm satisfied with what I read in the New Testament, with absolute nothing to back it up except outlandish fairy tales.

There were numerous historians writing during one of the best documented periods in human history. None of the historians mention any of the miracles the Bible says were performed by Jesus.

Historians such as:

  • Apollonius of Tyana, (Born: 3 BCE, Died: 100 CE) was a Greek Neopythagorean philosopher from the town of Tyana in the Roman province of Cappadocia in Asia Minor.

    "Being a 1st-century orator and philosopher around the time of Christ, he was compared with Jesus of Nazareth by Christians in the 4th century."

    Apollonius was born 3 years before the purported birth of Jesus so to come back 300 years later and "compare him to Jesus," defies logic and common sense. It was more like Christians comparing Jesus to Apollonius, 3 centuries later. This is not a chicken and egg scenario because historical records show Apollonius of Tyana was an actual person; there is absolutely no documented proof (again, other than the Christian holy book) that Jesus walked around performing miracles in Jerusalem.

    Furthermore, the character of Jesus has no last name, Christ or Christos is not really a name but an appellation, or title. It describes an appointment; a function in the theocratic structure of Israel.

  • Phaedrus (Athenian): name translates to "bright" or "radiant", was born to a wealthy family sometime in the mid-5th century, and was the first cousin of Plato's stepbrother Demos.

  • Philo Judaeus: called Philo of Alexandria (born 15–10 BCE, Alexandria - died 45–50 CE), he was a Greek-speaking Jewish philosopher, the most important representative of Hellenistic Judaism (Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism in the ancient world that combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture). Philo would have lived during the time Jesus walked the Earth; there is no mention of Jesus in his contemporary annotations.

  • Valerius Maximus: Latin writer and author of a collection of historical anecdotes. He worked during the reign of Tiberius (14 CE to 37 CE).

There are many more historians who lived slightly before, during, and after the apocryphal life of the protagonist of the Christian story, and none broach the subject of a guy who walked on water and rose from the dead.

Ok, that horse is dead, so lets look at the non-biblical records of the existence of Jesus, and this would be books of antiquity that do not quote the Bible. I'll wait...

Where are the legitimate historical records such as those that exist for Julius Caesar:

  • Born: July 100 BCE- Rome; Died: 15 March 44 BCE (age 55) - Rome. Without a doubt, historians would not have omitted - as Christians would have it - the most significant man/deity in human history. If you're about to pull Flavius Josephus out of your pious hat, you may want to do some research.
or Plato
  • Born: 428 BCE; Died: 348 BCE - philosopher and mathematician in Classical Greece, and the founder of "The Academy" in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.
or Xenophon
  • Born: 430 BCE; Died: 354 BCE - son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, and student of Socrates. 
Deny all you want, there is no way around the fact that if such a powerful entity perambulated the 90-mile stretch of territory (and with no means of travel except mules, he would not have been able to go very far), his life would have been recorded in history.

There was lots of construction going on in the area where Jesus was to have performed his ministry. The area was more of a crossroads, lots of traffic coming through, from the European continent into Egypt. Myriad people passed through this area and certainly would have heard and written about these miraculous feats.

Scholar of comparative religion and mythology, writer, historian, and researcher,
D.M. Murdock (aka Acharya S) states [paraphrasing]:

"It seems to be pretty obvious when you consider all the factors needed to understand, the context and milieu of the day, the only way you can sustain the gospel story is to have it in a vacuum; to remove all practicality around it."

"All the other cultures, you would have to be ignorant of all history, mythology, culture, and language of the time in order to maintain such a story."

Unfortunately, that's exactly what we have today; a collective sacrosanct, willful ignorance among Christian followers.

Murdock: I've actually had debates with people who have said, "oh, I don't want to know anything about those pre-Christian cultures because they were all evil."

At this point, there is no amount of evidence to convince the [brainwashed individual to study and do the research on his or her own]. Then you have the special pleading of "we can believe this, without a stitch of evidence, because it's 'faith'. But, we can't believe anything that you've said, without a mountain of evidence, that we will still reject."

This is where the canonical debate ends for me because, as I've told my children since they were old enough to understand, "it takes a fool to argue with a fool."