an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

Archive for the month “February, 2011”

Joseph Dunnam, homophobe with murder in his heart

I asked Jesustweeter Joseph Dunnam what Jesus had to say about homosexuality after he’d spent an evening spewing out some old fashioned homophobia….

…this bemused me, so I asked if Joseph felt that people deserved capital punishment due to their sexuality…

Fucking hell, what a nutcase. Isn’t it a bit worrying that people still think this garbage in the 21st Century??

How obscene is this?

http://www.unreachedoftheday.org/

I’ve seen some shit from Christians, but this takes the biscuit – praying for the ‘unsaved’? Where ‘unsaved’ merely means ‘non-Christians’?? Disgusting arrogance and idiocy

Logic and Fundies, not friends.

From Answers 4 Atheists (only 4? That’s aiming pretty low, even for Christian fundamentalists! Badoom Tsk! Ithangyoo!) comes an article claiming to explain why the Gospel records can be treated as reliable eye witness sources, despite flatly contradicting each other in several places.

It starts badly…

While there are ancient non-Christian sources that describe the existence of Jesus and the life of those who came to follow him (Josephus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Tacitus, Mara Bar-Serapion, and Phlegon, to name a few),…

Woah there, Jesus Johnny!! Let’s not go telling lies right off the bat! As we’ve seen, there are practically NO ‘ancient non-Christian sources’, so claiming there are as your opening gambit does not bode well for the remainder of your article. 


Ok, let’s see how they continue…

…the best and most thorough eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus are the New Testament Gospel accounts of Matthew, John and Peter (written through his scribe, Mark)….

Screeech! On come the brakes again!! Where are you getting the information that these are the people who wrote those gospels? It’s certainly not from the texts themselves, which at no point say who their authors are, and they weren’t even named until the 2nd century CE. Modern theology thinks that the authors real identities are lost in the mists of time.


Moving on….

The testimonies of these eyewitnesses are often disregarded, however, on the basis that they were written by “biased” Christians. But the Gospel authors are reliable according to the current standards we use to determine the validity of eyewitnesses: 

Yes, they’re often disregarded because there is no evidence whatsoever that they were eye witnesses, in fact it’s likely that the earliest Gospels were written between 30 and 40 years after the supposed death of Christ…that’s a lot of time for word of mouth to have completely changed the origins of the story.

Let’s look at the ‘evidence’ the site then presents

The Eyewitnesses Didn’t Start Off With a Bias
None of the three authors started off as disciples of Jesus. While John and Peter were disciples of John the Baptist, they clearly expressed doubt about the identity of Jesus and this doubt is recorded in the Gospels. In addition, Matthew was a tax collector and knew nothing about John the Baptist’s teaching. The eyewitnesses didn’t start off with a bias. 

But if they weren’t eyewitnesses at all (something which you’ve not shown any convincing contradictory evidence for), then all your left with is a literary device, designed to show that any one can come to Jesus.



The Eyewitnesses Only Became Christians In Response to What They Saw
While it is true that the Gospel writers eventually became believers, it is illogical and irresponsible to disregard their testimony. Imagine that two witnesses observe a liquor store robbery. They recognize the robber (from their neighborhood) and later tell police that it was John Smith. Both started off without a bias when they entered the liquor store. But as a result of what they saw, they now hold the position that John Smith is a robber. One could say that they are now biased; after all, they now hold a distinct view. But it would be illogical to disregard their testimony and demand a new set of witnesses who don’t hold a belief that John Smith is the robber! The belief of the witnesses was shaped by what they saw, NOT by what they believed BEFORE the robbery occurred. In a similar manner, the eyewitness Gospel writers formed a conclusion based on what they observed. 

Why is it ‘illogical and irresponsible’ to state that the Gospel writers aren’t reliable witnesses? You say that the ‘belief of the witnesses was shape by what they saw, NOT by what they believed’ but you have absolutely no evidence that this is true. In fact the likelihood is that the beliefs of the anonymous writers absolutely influenced what they wrote! Building an entire argument for reliability on such weak, logically false, foundations, is not a good way to go.

The Eyewitnesses Are Reliable In Other Areas
The Gospel writers record more than the life of Jesus. Their account of First Century life in Palestine is geographically and historically accurate in areas that have nothing to do with Jesus. The Gospel of Luke (and Book of Acts), for example, have been tested by many skeptics, only to survive as remarkably accurate historical records. 

Only they’re not, the New Testament is riddled with geographical errors. And why are you now bringing Luke into the story, when you ignored it earlier in your article? Is it because you know that the Gospels have lots of mistakes and you can’t bring yourself to go that far and outright lie?

The Eyewitnesses Had Little to Gain By Lying
One thing is for sure, the eyewitnesses all went to their graves (most in a dreadfully painful way) without recanting their eyewitness testimony about Jesus. The witnesses never gained anything in the way of money, sex or power from their testimony, and there is NO ancient record that records anything other than hardship and martyrdom for these eyewitnesses. They clearly stood by their observations in spite of the liabilities. 

But how do you know that? How do you know ‘for sure’? You don’t even know who the writers were, or when they wrote! To claim that the writers had little to gain is untrue as well, as the early Christian texts were designed to bolster up the faith of the nascent church. You’ve built your entire argument on the assumption that the Gospel writers were who the texts were named after, when there is no evidence at all to support this view.

And that’s it, apart from another short claim of reliability, that’s the whole argument. That’s meant to be an ‘answer to atheists’? The simplicity of the argument is insulting, and the faulty logic it’s built on is obvious to anyone with half a brain. In fact the logic is entirely circular, claiming they were eye witnesses and then using that as evidence for them being eye witnesses!

Answers for Atheists, you have failed.



Via DanVerg: The Genius of C L Taylor

No, you’re not (click to enlarge)

Brilliantly put together, Dan

John Frum, the Cargo Cult Messiah

Rather than going into a long post here, I’m going to point you at this article on Damn Interesting about John Frum and the Cargo Cults.

Have a quick read, then pop back…

…ok? Good.

The myth of John Frum originates from a time when global record keeping was far superior to that of the time of Christ. and it’s entirely possible that the man that inspired them might still be alive, yet no-one knows who John Frum was/is. Less than 70 years later we have no clue who he was.

Now consider that the earliest Christian Gospels were written at least 30 years after the events they claimed to narrate, in a world where the only way a story could be passed on would be via word of mouth, isn’t it then easy to see that Jesus could have been an inflated version of someone else, or not existed at all?

If the modern world cant work out who a man was when that man may very well still be with us, why would we believe that the more primitive people of two thousand years ago would do better?

Historical texts and Jesus

Below is a rather good list put together by Iasion, a member of AboveTopSecret.com as part of a thread called ‘List of early writers who could have mentioned Jesus‘, used under a Creative Commons licence.

I’m going to add in the actual texts from the writers to see if we get a clearer view (my additions are in italics)….


A well-known list of early writers from Remsberg is much bandied about by sceptics.


This list names a large number of early writers who lived about the time of Jesus, but who failed to mention him.


Some of the names on the list do not belong, because they just could not be expected to have mentioned Jesus. The Remsberg list is also without dates and subjects and places, and is unclear in identifying some authors.


So, I have updated and improved this list, taking it up to the mid 2nd century. Some of the writers listed need more details.






How Likely was a mention of Jesus?


The issue is really HOW LIKELY they would be to mention Jesus.


Factors which increase the expectation that Jesus would be mentioned in a work include :
* a large work (i.e. one which has large index of names)
* a work on an issue somehow related to Jesus or the Gospel events,
* a work whose genre tends to frequently mention or allude to many subjects and people,




I have thus classified these writers into broad categories –
* writers who surely SHOULD have mentioned Jesus (5),
* writers who PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus (4,3),
* writers who COULD have mentioned Jesus (2,1, or even 0.5),
* writers who WOULDN’T have mentioned Jesus (0)


I have given each writer a WEIGHT out of 5 as indicated.


As well as –
* writers CLAIMED to mention Jesus.






Of course, one writer who didn’t mention Jesus means nothing.
But,
when DOZENS of writers from the period in question fail to mention anything about Jesus (or the the Gospel events or actors), this argues against historicity.




The argument is sometimes made that these writers could not possibly have mentioned Jesus – because he was a minor figure and unrelated to the issues at hand.


This assumes that no such writer ever mentions a minor figure in passing, that they never make an aside about other events or figures who are not specially related to the subject.


Of course, this is not true, as the evidence below shows that many of the writers mentioned make many references to many other minor figures and often make excurses about other subjects and events and people.




I have included astronomers on the list who might have mentioned the Star of Bethlehem and/or the darkness at the crucifixion – if they had heard of them. This is a lesser issue then the existence of Jesus, and I have rated such writers as 0.5.






Summary of Results


The results of my current classifications is:


1 writer who surely SHOULD have mentioned Jesus (Philo.)


3 writers who PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus (Seneca, Plutarch, Justus.)


31 writers who COULD have mentioned Jesus.




(20 writers who could not be expected to.
6 writers claimed to mention Jesus, but disputed or suspect.)






Iasion


10th February 2005










WRITERS WHO SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED JESUS


PHILO


Philo Judaeus wrote very many books about Jewish religion and history, in the 30s and 40s, living in Alexandria, and visiting Jerusalem.


Philo was contemporary with Jesus and Paul,
Philo visited Jerusalem and had family there,
he developed the concept of the Logos and the holy spirit,
he was considered a Christian by some later Christians,
he wrote a great deal about related times and peoples and issues.


If Jesus had existed, Philo would almost certainly have written about him and his teachings.


Rating: SHOULD have mentioned Jesus or his teachings, but did not.
Weight: 5






WRITERS WHO PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED JESUS


SENECA


Lucius Annaeus Seneca wrote many philosophic (Stoic) and satirical books and letters (and Tragedies) in Rome.


Seneca wrote a great deal on many subjects and mentioned many people. He was a Stoic, a school of thought considered sympathetic to Christian teachings.


In fact,
early Christians seemed to have expected him to discuss Christianity – they FORGED letters between him and Paul.


How else to explain these forgeries, except as Christian responses to a surprising VOID in Seneca’s writings?


Rating: PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus or his teachings, but did not.
Weight: 4




PLUTARCH


Plutarch of Chaeronea wrote many works on history and philosophy in Rome and Boetia in about 90-120 CE.


Plutarch wrote about influential Roman figures, including some contemporary to Jesus,
Plutarch wrote on Oracles (prophesies),
Plutarch wrote on moral issues,
Plutarch wrote on spiritual and religious issues.


Plutarch’s writings also include a fascinating piece known as the “Vision of Aridaeus”, a spiritual journey, or out of body experience, or religious fantasy –
members.iinet.net.au…


If Plutarch knew of Jesus or the Gospel events, it is highly likely he would have mentioned them.


Rating: PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus or his teachings, but did not.
Weight: 4






JUSTUS


Justus of Tiberias wrote a History of Jewish Kings in Galilee in late 1st century.


Photius read Justus in the 8th century and noted that he did not mention anything: “He (Justus of Tiberias) makes not one mention of Jesus, of what happened to him, or of the wonderful works that he did.”


It is surprising that a contemporary writer from the very region of Jesus’ alleged acts did not mention him.


Rating: PROBABLY SHOULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 3






WRITERS WHO COULD HAVE MENTIONED JESUS




DAMIS


Damis wrote most of what we know about Apollonius of Tyana. He was a philospher and mystic exactly contemporary with Jesus and who was rather similar to Jesus – enough for some authors to argue they were one and the same person.


If Damis/Apollonius had known of Jesus, he could have easily have been mentioned as a competitor. A story in which Apollonius bested Jesus in debate would not be un-expected.


Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2






APOLLONIUS


See Damis.








PLINY THE ELDER


Gaius Plinius Secundus wrote a large Natural History in Rome c.80CE


Pliny wrote a great deal – his Natural History mentions HUNDREDS of people, major & minor – writers, leaders, poets, artists – often with as much reason as mentioning Jesus. (Of course like many other writers he talks about astronomy too, but never mentions the Star of Bethlehem or the darkness.)


It is not at all un-reasoble for this prolific writer to have mentioned Jesus or the Gospels events.


Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2






JUVENAL


Decimus Junius Juvenalis wrote sixteen satires in Rome in early 2nd century.


Lucian the Roman satirist DID ridicule Christians (as gullible, easily lead fools) in mid 2nd century. By the later time of Lucian, Christianity obviously was known to the wider Roman community. Whereas Juvenal wrote at a time when Christianity had only just started to rate a few tiny mentions (Pliny the Younger, Tacitus.)


Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2






MARTIAL


Marcus Valerius Martialus wrote satires in Rome in late 1st century.


Martial wrote a large body of poems about all sorts of things. He mentions many people, places, stories and issues – major and minor, within and without Rome, such as :
* Stoic suffering of discomfort and death,
* virgin’s blood,
* Roman funerary practices,
* the way accused men look in court,
* Roman soldiers mocking their leaders,
* anointing the body with oil,
* Molorchus the good shepherd,
* Tutilius a minor rhetorician, Nestor the wise,
* the (ugly) Temple of Jupiter,


This shows Martial mentions or alludes to many and varied people and issues.


He could easily have mentioned Jesus (or the Gospel events).


Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2






PETRONIUS


Petronius Arbiter wrote a large novel (a bawdy drama) the “Satyricon” c.60CE.


Petronius mentions all sorts of people and events in this large work, including :
** a CRUCIFIXION !
** a scene where guards are posted to stop a corpse being stolen,
** a tomb scene of someone mistaking a person for a supernatural vision,
* gods such as Bacchus and Ceres,
* writers such as Sophocles and Euripides and Epicurus,
* books such as the Iliad,
* Romans such as Cato and Pompey,
* people such as Hannibal, and the Governor of Ephesus,
* female charioteers, slaves, merchants, Arabs, lawyers
* baths, shipwrecks, meals…


This large work, cover MANY topics, including a CRUCIFIXION, and it was written just as Peter and Paul had come to Rome, allegedly. It could easily have mentioned Jesus.


Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2






PAUSANIAS


Pausanias wrote the massive Guide to Greece in mid 2nd century.


Pausanias’ work is vast and the index covers over 70 pages of small print, I estimate a couple of THOUSAND names are mentioned. He mentions a large number of minor figues from within and without Greece.


He even mentions a Jewish prophetess – a figure so minor she is essentially unknown: “Then later than Demo there was a prophetic woman reared among the Jews beyond Palestine; her name was Sabbe.” Phokis, Book X, 12, [5]


Pausanias also mentions the Jewish rebellion under Hadrian.


Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2






EPICTETUS


Epictetus is known for several books of Stoic religious and philosophic discourses in the early 2nd century. One of his disciples was Arrian, and thanks to him much of Epictetus’ works are extant.


Epictetus DID apparently mention “the Galileans”, which could be a reference to :
* the early Christians,
or
* the revolt under Judas the Galilean in early 1st century.


Either way, this shows quite clearly that Epictetus could refer to a figure such as Jesus.


Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2






AELIUS ARISTIDES


Aelius Aristides the Greek Orator spoke and wrote a History of Rome and other subjects – he seems to refer to the Christians as “impious men from Palestine” (Orations 46.2)


If he could mention people from Palestine, he could easily have mentioned Jesus.


Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2






FRONTO


Marcus Cornelius Fronto of Rome wrote several letters in mid 2nd century.


According to Minucius Felix, he scandalised rites practiced by Roman Christians – so he could easily have mentioned Jesus.


Rating: COULD easily have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 2






PERSIUS


Aulus Persius Flaccus wrote six fairly long satires in Rome in the mid 1st century, of a rather philosophic nature.


The argument that no Roman satirist could be expected to mention Jesus, is proven wrong by the case of a Roman satirist who DID mention Jesus (but only as echoes of later Christian beliefs.)


Persius wrote a reasonably large body of work that mentions many people and issues.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1






DIO CHRYSOSTOM


Dio Chrysostom (Cocceianus Dio) wrote many works and gave many speeches in various Roman and Greek centres in late 1st century, of which 80 survive e.g. the Euboicus.


Dio wrote a large number of works in the late 1st century – he certainly could have mentioned Jesus, if he knew of him.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1






AULUS GELLIUS


Aulus Gellius wrote Attic Nights (Nights in Athens), a large compendium of many topics and which mentioned many people.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1






LUCIUS APULEIUS


Lucius Apuleius wrote the Metamorphoses (the Golden Ass or Transformations of Lucius) and many other spiritual, historical, and philosophic works – several survive.


Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1






MARCUS AURELIUS


Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus wrote the Stoic Meditations in mid 2nd century – he (apparently) refers once to the Christians in XI, 3.


Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1






MUSONIUS RUFUS


C. Musonius Rufus wrote on Stoic philosophy in Rome in mid 1st century.


Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1






HIEROCLES


Hierocles of Alexandria wrote on Stoic philosophy in late 1st century.


Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1






MAXIMUS of TYRE


Cassius Maximus Tyrius, a Greek NeoPlatonic philosopher, wrote many works in mid 2nd century.


Rating: COULD have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 1






ARRIAN


Arrian wrote a History of Alexander c.120CE.


The subject is not related, but Arrian wrote a very large work which mentioned HUNDREDS of people, some not from Alexander’s time.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






APPIAN


Appian wrote a large Roman History (from the Gracchi to Caesar) in mid 2nd century.


It’s not particularly likely that this specific writer would mention Jesus.
But,
he wrote a LARGE work which mentions HUNDREDS of people.
Appian does mention some issues of HIS day (mid 2nd century), e.g. a decision by Hadrian.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






THEON of SMYRNA


Theon of Smyrna wrote on astronomy/philosophy in early 2nd century.


Theon wrote about philosophy. If Jesus and his teachings were known, it is entirely plausible for to mention them.


Theon also wrote about astronomy.
If he had heard about the Star of Bethlehem or the Darkness (as an event, or from the Gospels) he could easily have mentioned it.


Apologists frequently cite Phlegon and Thallus, astronomers who mentioned eclipses (but NOT Jesus or the Gospel events, that is merely later Christian wishful thinking) as evidence for Jesus.


An astronomer could easily be expected to mention those incidents, especially when apologists claim other astronomers of the period did exactly that.


The silence of early astronomers about the Star of Bethlehem or the crucifixion darkness argues these “events” were unknown until later.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






QUINTILIAN


Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, wrote the “Education of an Orator” in Rome in late 1st century.


One of the things Jesus was allegedly noted for was his PUBLIC SPEECHES – e.g. the Sermon on the Mount, which supposedly drew and influenced large crowds.


If Quintilian had heard of Jesus or the Gospels events, he could have mentioned the allegedly famous speeches of Jesus.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






LUCIUS ANNAEUS FLORUS


Lucius Annaeus Florus wrote an Epitome of Roman History.


Although not directly on subject, Florus wrote a large work which mentions many names. He could have mentioned Jesus if he had known of him.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






LUCAN


Marcus Annaeus Lucanus wrote the Pharsalia (Civil War) in Rome in mid 1st century.


In his large poem, the Pharsalia, he mentions some events from later times, and he covers many different issues and people in passing.
He:
* mentions an event from 56CE,
* refers to places as far afield as Sicily and Kent,
* refered to Stoic religious beliefs about the end of the world,
* refers to many books and myths and persons and events not part of the main story.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






STATIUS


Publius Papinius Statius wrote numerous minor and epic poems (e.g. Ode to Sleep and the Thebaid) in Rome in late 1st century.


Statius wrote many works on several subjects, he could have mentioned Jesus.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






HERO of ALEXANDRIA


Hero(n) of Alexandria wrote many technical works, including astronomy.


If he had known of the Gospel stories about Jesus, he could have mentioned them.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






GEMINUS


Geminus wrote on mathematics astronomy in Greece.


If he had known of the Gospel stories about Jesus, he could have mentioned them.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






ALBINUS


Albinus taught on (neo-)Platonism in early 2nd century, a little survives.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






ARISTOCLES


Aristocles of Messene wrote On Philosophy, early 2nd century.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






APOLLODORUS


Apollodorus compiled a large Mythology in mid 2nd century.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






HEPHAESTION


Hephaestion of Alexandria wrote many works in mid 2nd century.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






SEXTUS EMPIRICUS


Sextus Empiricus wrote Outlines of Scepticism in mid 2nd century.


Rating: COULD possibly have mentioned Jesus, but did not.
Weight: 0.5






WRITERS CLAIMED TO MENTION JESUS


JOSEPHUS


Much has been said about Josephus, but not here.


Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but may not have.


Here’s the text (taken from Wikipedia)

3.3 Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

In the Complete Concordance to Flavius Josephus, (edited by K. H. Rengstorff, 2002), it is claimed that the passage fails a basic test for authenticity, as it differs significantly from the style of the surrounding text.



TACITUS

Cornelius Tacitus wrote a celebrated passage about Jesus roughly 80 years or so after the alleged events – but he seems to be reporting Christian beliefs of his later times, not using earlier documents: he uses the incorrect title ‘procurator’ – the term used in Tacitus’ time, not Pilate’s; he fails to name the executed man (Roman records could not possibly have called him ‘Christ ‘); and he accepts the recent advent of the Christians, when Rome was known to allow only ancient cults and religions.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but probably late hearsay.

Here’s the text, again from Wikipedia

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite punishments on a class hated for their disgraceful acts, called Chrestians by the populace. Christ, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty (i.e., Crucifixion) during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. 
This text does nothing to authenticate Jesus, it was written significantly after the supposed events, and does nothing but confirm what Christians at the time believed.

NUMENIUS

In the 3rd century, Origen claimed Numenius “quotes also a narrative regarding Jesus–without, however, mentioning His name”

Numenius does not mention Jesus, just a story that was later attributed to him.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but probably late hearsay.

No mention of Jesus in the text

SUETONIUS

Gaius SUETONIUS Tranquillus wrote a histories/biographies of Roman Caesars c.120CE.

He mentions a “Chrestus” (a common slave name meaning “Useful”) who caused disturbance in Rome in 49CE.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but did not.

Here’s the text (taken from here)

“…drove the Jews out of Rome, who at the suggestion of Chrestus were constantly rioting.”

49CE is almost twenty years after the supposed death of Christ. This text does not mention Jesus.


PHLEGON

Phlegon wrote during the 140s – his works are lost. Later, Origen, Eusebius, and Julianus Africanus (as quoted by much later George Syncellus) refer to him, but quote differently his reference to an eclipse. There is no evidence Phlegon said anything about Gospel events – just evidence for later Christians believing his statements about an eclipse (there WAS an eclipse in this period) was really about the Gospel darkness.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but did not.

The original text is lost, but later writers claim he mentioned Jesus. There is no evidence either way.

THALLUS

Thallus perhaps wrote in early 2nd century or somewhat earlier (his works are lost, there is no evidence he wrote in the 1st century, in fact there is some evidence he wrote around 109 BCE, and some authors refer to him for events before the Trojan War!) – 9th century George Syncellus quotes the 3rd century Julianus Africanus, speaking of the darkness at the crucifixion: “Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse”. There is no evidence Thallus made specific reference to Jesus or the Gospel events, as there was an eclipse in 29, the subject in question. Furthermore the supposed reference to Thallus in Eusebius is likely a mis-reading.

Rating: CLAIMED to mention Jesus, but did not.

All writings are lost, no evidence either way.


WRITERS WHO COULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO HAVE MENTIONED JESUS

Dion Prusaeus
Paterculus
Ptolemy
Valerius Maximus
Pomponius Mela
Quintus Curtus Rufus
Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella
Favorinus
Phaedrus
Babrius
Silius Italicus
Marcus Manilius
Cleomedes
Dioscorides
Sextus Julius Frontinus
Nicomachus of Gerasa
Menelaus of Alexandria
Menodotus of Nicomedia
Tiberius Claudius Herodes Atticus
Valerius Flaccus

Missed off the list is Celsus, who probably wrote in the 2nd Century CE, 

Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god. 
Completely at odds with the Biblical story.


The extra-biblical evidence for the existence of Jesus is virtually non-existent, relying on various misinterpretations of the few contemporary writers that supposedly mention him. The only one that has anything in common with the Biblical version of events is Josephus, and that’s now commonly agreed to be a later insertion. 
Theists will often claim that these lists are biased by the desire of atheists to disprove Jesus, I hope that including the available texts does something to counter that accusation.





After a day of relative calm, C L Taylor is back on the Bullshit Express

Any thoughts that C L Taylor might have taken a lesson from his sudden twitter outing appear to have been misplaced. After a day of keeping (for him) a low-ish profile, he’s back to his swaggering, stupid ‘best’ today –

Yes, that’s right Chris, keep telling yourself that. The likelihood is that Chris isn’t even smarter than 75% of his own household, which probably includes a dog with a greater IQ score. For this clearly cretinous idiot to think that he’s smarter than three quarters of the ‘entire population of the world!’ shows just how deluded he is.

Perhaps he’s learned some lessons though, perhaps he’s realised that stating that he’ll abuse his position as a teacher to push his religious beliefs on his students isn’t a good idea. I mean, he’s bright enough to realise that boasting about going against the Constitution is a bad idea? Surely he’s picked up on that?

Apparently not! So, not only is he insisting that he’ll abuse his role as a teacher, but he’s then saying he’ll sue any school that tries to stop him? Wow! I’m sure they’ll all be queueing up to hire him now, especially after I’ve emailed all the schools in his district to make them aware of what a catch he is!

But there’s more!

That’s us told! Don’t ’embrass’ Chris or you risk messing with his family’s money!! What this even means is beyond me, considering that he seems to be working as a part time security guard whilst his wife, Anita, does the same thing full time.

Yesterday Chris made out that I was stalking him, far from it, I’ve just shown him how incredibly easy it is to track an individual down if they live in a tiny town and insist on using Facebook and Twitter. Even today he seems to be unaware that the people he wants to get jobs from are just as able to find out this information as I’ve been.

Chris, I warned you yesterday, and today you’ve carried on your idiotic rants. I’ve now no option but to email the schools in your local district to make them aware of your views.

Christian Whines Childishly About Being Called Childish

Some more absolute stupidity from the QueenQueequeg blog, this time she’s complaining that atheists accuse her of childishness, and then claims she’s being abused! It gets Brass Eye-esque when she says this in the comments –

Therefore- if I am indeed childish and some of them would like to indoctrinate me by tearing down my doctrines that were established only in adulthood—- are they child-abusing me?

4 minutes 44 seconds into the 2001 Brass Eye Paedophile Special, there’s a moment that reminds me of Rhombalombalala’s post. Click here to see the show, skip forward to 4:44 to see the bit I mean. If for any reason you can’t click on it, Chris Morris asks some members of the public for their reaction to the following statement ‘Dear Sir, I am a Paedophile, please can I have sex with this three year old now that she is twenty one’. They all react with horror and say things like ‘no way!’

Claiming that atheists trying to ‘indoctrinate’ her (what with? Facts? Forcing her not to go to church on Sundays??) is a form of child abuse, because the atheists say her theistic view are childish, is thoroughly ludicrous. Hasn’t stopped her squeezing out a whole blog post about it though….

Listen, Rhombula Conundrum, no-one can ‘child abuse’ you, as you’re not a child. It’s simple.

If that’s the kind of brain farts that pass for ‘logic’ in Christian fundie heads, then it’s no wonder that they’re so susceptible to believing the kind of arse guff that Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, and Ray Comfort vomit out of their nonsense flaps.

Christopher Taylor, of Conroe, Texas: Obviously Rattled

Yup, it looks like C L Taylor is trying to do some back peddling, after his vile outpourings of racism, idiocy, and homophobia ended up getting a far wider audience (thanks to a retweet by PZ Myers) than he probably ever thought they would. Hopefully being shown that what’s said in public can reach ears that you don’t want to hear will curb some of Chris’s more lunatic pronouncements.

Let’s look at some of his tweets made after his ‘outing’….

…oh….I see, just as demented as before. If he keeps this up the next step is going to have to be contacting local school boards – I couldn’t in good conscience do nothing if there’s a risk that this hate monger is going to have access to young minds.

CL Taylor, consider this a friendly warning.

A Short Post on Christian Morality

A Brazilian archbishop says all those who helped a child rape victim secure an abortion are to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

Have you ever read anything so disgusting? The whole story is here, by the way (it’s a couple of years old).

Not only does this vile human being think that a child should be forced to have twins resulting from a rape, but he’s then gone on to banish all those who helped her from his religion!

Is this the kind of behaviour that any just god would condone? Cos if he did, I’d have to say that god is a total dick.

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