Intelligent Design

Larry Moran is a Jesus denialist

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In a recent post titled, Was Jesus a real person? – see what denialism looks like, Professor Larry Moran declares that as far as he knows, “the evidence that Jesus actually existed is not strong and, even more importantly, there’s no independent evidence that he rose from the dead or performed miracles.” Moran is miffed that Dr. James F. Grath, who has a Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, accused him (and Professor Jerry Coyne) of “denialism” for rejecting mainstream historical scholarship about Jesus and voicing skepticism about whether Jesus really existed. Moran complains: “Is it ‘denialism’ to think that the Biblical Jesus — the one who performed miracles and rose from the dead — didn’t exist because there’s no scientific or historical evidence that such a man ever lived?” When Dr. McGrath expressed his personal view that Jesus was a real historical figure even though there was no good evidence that he worked any miracles, Moran shot back: “The issue we’re interested in is whether the Jesus of the Bible actually existed… So you deny that the Biblical Jesus could have existed because miracles are nonsense but you aren’t a denialist. Right?”

What I mean when I say “Jesus existed”

Before I discuss the evidence for Jesus’ existence, I’d better be clear about what I mean when I say, “Jesus existed.” There are many atheists who accept this statement, even though they don’t believe that Jesus worked genuine miracles or rose from the dead. And although I am a Christian, I also believe that the question of whether Jesus existed can be settled prior to the question of whether He really worked miracles and rose from the dead. My view o this matter is hardly unusual: many historians and theologians distinguish between what they refer to as “the historical Jesus” and the Jesus that Christians believe in, or “the Christ of faith.”

However, Georgi Marinov, a commenter on Professor Moran’s blog, does not share this view. He objects that if we define the historical Jesus without reference to any miracles, then we are left with an empty husk of a man: “The problem with that Jesus is that he is so reduced in significance that he almost makes the whole historicity debate irrelevant and a giant waste of time.” And for his part, Larry Moran appears to share Marinov’s view, for he writes: “The ‘historical’ figure of Jesus certainly includes far more than just the fact that someone of that name may have been executed by the Romans about 2000 years ago.”

Marinov and Moran make a fair point here. So here’s what I mean when I say that Jesus existed:

(1) About 2,000 years ago, a Palestinian Jew named Jeshua was crucified by the Romans. He was commonly known in Greek as Jesus of Nazareth.

(2) This individual named Jeshua, or Jesus of Nazareth, claimed to be the “Messiah” – a term which in Jeshua’s day meant not merely a king chosen by God, but someone who would restore Israel to glory and usher in a new, Messianic Age. Jews claiming to the the long-awaited Messiah were not exactly a dime a dozen: only 20 such individuals are known to history, and only three of these (including Jeshua himself) lived in the first century. That fact alone makes Jeshua a rather distinctive Jew, for his day. While Jeshua seems to have been rather vague about when the restoration of Israel would take place, it is quite clear that he accepted the designation of Messiah when questioned by the Jewish High Priest, and that he saw himself as a cosmic figure who would one day come in power and be publicly vindicated by God. Whether Jeshua saw himself as a political leader is a more controversial question: according to one report of his interrogation by the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate, Jeshua couched his Messianic claim in a very modest fashion, declaring that his kingdom was “not of this world.”

(3) Jeshua was also widely believed to be a miracle worker, and there were many reports of him having performed miraculous healings which no-one in Israel could remember having seen before. In particular, he was said to have cured people suffering from blindness, deafness, epilepsy and paralysis. Indeed, it was for precisely this reason that many of his Jewish contemporaries believed that he was the Messiah. Whether the healings that Jeshua performed were supernatural acts or merely the result of autosuggestion, large numbers of sick people got well after presenting themselves to Jeshua. The fact that Jeshua was accused of sorcery by his Jewish contemporaries lends further credence to the claim that some of the healings worked by him were fairly remarkable. While many historians view reports of Jeshua’s having worked “nature miracles” as later accretions which spread after his death, it is worth noting that all four Gospels attribute to Jeshua the miracle of feeding 5,000 men.

(4) In his preaching, Jeshua emphasized the importance of loving God “with all your mind and with all your strength” and of loving your neighbor “as yourself” – teachings deeply rooted in Judaism (see also here). But his conception of who qualifies as one’s neighbor was a very broad one: as he made clear, it included social outcasts such as lepers, tax collectors (who were widely hated), public sinners and prostitutes, as well as “outsiders” (such as Samaritans) whom observant Jews would not normally associate with. Jeshua also made it very clear that people who did not feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter strangers, visit the sick and comfort prisoners, would not inherit the Kingdom of God, but would go to Hell. He also opposed the pettifogging legalism espoused by some of his Pharisaic contemporaries, although he shared with the Pharisees a belief in the resurrection of the dead. Jeshua was not, however, an anti-clerical: he told his followers to obey the Pharisees, even as he condemned the hypocrisy of some of their leaders. Jeshua’s own standards for personal holiness appear to have been quite rigorous. He preached a purer interpretation of the Mosaic law, but did not view himself as abrogating or superseding it.

(5) Finally, Jeshua was also believed by his followers to have risen from the dead, a short time after he was put to death by crucifixion. Some of his followers were subsequently put to death (by King Herod, by the Jewish Sanhedrin, by one High Priest acting in a very irregular fashion, and by the Romans under Nero) for their faith in Jeshua and for their insistence that they had seen him alive again, after his death, and that he would one day return in glory.

The foregoing description, far from being vacuous, makes some fairly substantive assertions about the historical Jesus: that he healed large numbers of people of various diseases in a way that impressed his contemporaries, that he claimed to be the Messiah – something which very few of his Jewish contemporaries did – and that he scandalized his contemporaries with his teachings. It also makes some assertions about what his followers believed about him – that the healings he worked were supernatural signs, that he had supernatural powers over nature (more questionable, on historical grounds), and that he rose from the dead and publicly manifested himself to certain people. A historian can make the determination, based on the documentary evidence, that such an individual actually existed, without committing themselves to the belief that Jesus was a supernatural being, or that he worked supernatural signs. The question of whether Jesus actually worked miracles and rose from the dead is thus a secondary one, from a historian’s standpoint. However, the question of whether he was believed by some of his contemporaries to have done these things can be answered decisively in the affirmative.

“But where,” it will be asked, “is the evidence that such an individual existed?” I would refer these readers to an article by amateur historian Tim O’Neill, who describes himself as a “Wry, dry, rather sarcastic, eccentric, occasionally arrogant Irish-Australian atheist bastard.” His online article, Did Jesus Exist? The Jesus Myth Theory, Again is well worth reading, as are his two previous articles, Nailed: Ten Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed at All by David Fitzgerald and The Jesus Myth Theory: A Response to David Fitzgerald. I defy anyone to peruse the evidence O’Neill presents and come away a skeptic about Jesus’ existence. And for anyone who may be inclined to take skeptical arguments seriously, The Daily Beast article, So-Called ‘Biblical Scholar’ Says Jesus A Made-Up Myth, by Candida Moss and Joel Baden, provides an excellent debunking of skeptical arguments. The authors write:

Let’s get one thing straight: There is nigh universal consensus among biblical scholars — the authentic ones, anyway — that Jesus was, in fact, a real guy.

Alternatively, for those wanting to read a more concise statement of the key evidence for Jesus’s existence, I might recommend my October 2014 post, Now Jerry Coyne doubts the historical existence of Jesus Christ, which summarizes the evidence neatly. I might mention that the Jewish historian Josephus (37-100 A.D.) is acknowledged even by atheist Paul Tobin (author of The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible and the Historical Jesus) to have been an eyewitness to the martyrdom of James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Messiah,” by stoning, as a young man of 25 or 26. Atheist amateur historian Tim O’Neill supplies us with the background to the story:

In 62 AD, the 26 year old Josephus was in Jerusalem, having recently returned from an embassy to Rome. He was a young member of the aristocratic priestly elite which ruled Jerusalem and were effectively rulers of Judea, though with close Roman oversight and only with the backing of the Roman procurator in Caesarea. But in this year the procurator Porcius Festus died while in office and his replacement, Lucceius Albinus, was still on his way to Judea from Rome. This left the High Priest, Hanan ben Hanan (usually called Ananus), with a freer rein that usual. Ananus executed some Jews without Roman permission and, when this was brought to the attention of the Romans, Ananus was deposed.

This was a momentous event and one that the young Josephus, as a member of the same elite as the High Priest, would have remembered well. But what is significant is what he says in passing about the executions that that triggered the deposition of the High Priest…

And now, here’s how Josephus describes the martyrdom of James, “the brother of Jesus,” in his Antiquities, XX.9.1:

Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so (the High Priest) assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Messiah, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.

That sounds pretty convincing to me.

In short: even if Professor Larry Moran thinks that the miracles attributed to Jesus are no more genuine than those worked by, say, Kathryn Kuhlman, there can be no reasonable doubt that Jesus actually existed, and that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate for claiming to be the Messiah, making him a trouble-maker in the eyes of the Romans, and also a thorn in the side of some of the Jewish leaders. And regardless of whether one believes Jesus rose from the dead or not, historians can certainly conclude, after carefully sifting the evidence, that some of his contemporaries believed he had risen from the dead, and that St. Paul’s account of the resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians 15 is a historically authentic one, which goes back to within 25 years of Jesus’ death. If Professor Larry Moran refuses to admit these facts, after studying the evidence, then yes, he is a “Jesus denialist.”

What do readers think?

POSTSCRIPT: In a comment below, Professor Moran writes:

I think there’s convincing evidence that a man named “Jesus” (or the local language equivalent) existed in the first century A.D. I think there’s evidence that he was executed by unknown means. I think there’s good evidence that he had a following while he was still alive.

That’s a small step in the right direction, although I note in passing that Professor Moran remains agnostic about the crucifixion of Jesus.

33 Replies to “Larry Moran is a Jesus denialist

  1. 1
    rhampton7 says:

    Be careful now. Using your criteria, Protestants are ‘Mary denialists’.

  2. 2
    Phinehas says:

    Does a comment have to make sense to qualify as a red herring? Just wondering.

  3. 3
    J-Mac says:

    Why is that surprising to you? You had no indications of this early on? What’s changed?

  4. 4
    bFast says:

    rhampton7, “Using your criteria, Protestants are ‘Mary denialists’” How so?

    The reality of the Jesus question is that there are four rich biographies of the man. These four rich biographies sometimes share the same stories from slightly different perspectives. The kind of variation you see is consistent with the variety one gets from multiple eye witness testimonies.

    I think it essential for an atheist to deny the miracles. After all, if miracles, then there’s more to nature than meets the atheist eye. That said, it is exactly the fact that it is essential that makes the atheist a fundimentally biased critic.

  5. 5
    JoeCoder says:

    New Testament historian and critic of Christianity Bart Ehrman:

    We have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period. I’m not saying this as a believer. I’m not a believer. But as a historian I’m saying you can’t just dismiss it and say ‘well, you know we don’t know’. You have to look at the evidence. So there is hard evidence I think.

  6. 6
    Mapou says:

    The only miracle dirt worshippers believe in is that life arose from dirt all by itself. It’s a powerful God indeed, one who can animate itself into living and create life from the dust of the Earth. Dead dirt is even more powerful than living organisms because it is the father of life itself.

    It’s all chicken feather voodoo science, of course, the kind of science that the Morans, Dawkins, Hawkings, Myers and Coynes of the world believe in. You can’t get more religious or superstitious than this. It would be funny if it weren’t so embarrassing.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    Mung says:

    I don’t think Larry is dumb enough to say that Jesus did not exist. He probably just doesn’t believe that he is realistically [read atheistically] portrayed.

  9. 9
    rhampton7 says:

    Mung,
    I think Larry would probably agree with Thomas Jefferson – that Jesus was a human teacher of moral philosophy, and nothing more.

  10. 10
    bFast says:

    Mung, “He probably just doesn’t believe that he is realistically [read atheistically] portrayed.” Love it.

  11. 11
    bornagain says:

    I guess it is not all that surprising that Moran would deny that Jesus really existed as a real person since, according to Moran’s own materialistic premises, he himself does not even really exist as a real person.

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    In fact, because of such absurdity that is inherent in materialism as denying the reality of ‘person-hood’, the name of Thomas Nagel’s book is entitled, “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False”

    A few more notes:

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.”
    An especially clear example is Galen Strawson, a philosopher who states with great bravado, “The impossibility of free will … can be proved with complete certainty.” Yet in an interview, Strawson admits that, in practice, no one accepts his deterministic view. “To be honest, I can’t really accept it myself,” he says. “I can’t really live with this fact from day to day. Can you, really?”,,,
    In What Science Offers the Humanities, Edward Slingerland, identifies himself as an unabashed materialist and reductionist. Slingerland argues that Darwinian materialism leads logically to the conclusion that humans are robots — that our sense of having a will or self or consciousness is an illusion. Yet, he admits, it is an illusion we find impossible to shake. No one “can help acting like and at some level really feeling that he or she is free.” We are “constitutionally incapable of experiencing ourselves and other conspecifics [humans] as robots.”
    One section in his book is even titled “We Are Robots Designed Not to Believe That We Are Robots.”,,,
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis
    within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    [Nancy Pearcey] When Reality Clashes with Your Atheistic Worldview – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0Kpn3HBMiQ

    Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let’s Dump Methodological Naturalism – Paul Nelson – September 24, 2014
    Excerpt: “Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism (MN). If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.
    MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.
    “That’s crazy,” you reply, “I certainly did write my email.” Okay, then — to what does the pronoun “I” in that sentence refer?
    Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,,
    You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse — i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss — we haven’t the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world — such as your email, a real pattern — we must refer to you as a unique agent.,,,
    some feature of “intelligence” must be irreducible to physics, because otherwise we’re back to physics versus physics, and there’s nothing for SETI to look for.”,,,
    per ENV

    And although Dr. Nelson alluded to writing an e-mail, (i.e. creating information), to tie his ‘personal agent’ argument into intelligent design, Dr. Nelson’s ‘personal agent’ argument can easily be amended to any action that ‘you’, as a personal agent, choose to take:

    “You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed the illusion of you of that event after the fact.”
    “You didn’t open the door. Physics did, and informed the illusion of you of that event after the fact.”
    “You didn’t raise your hand. Physics did, and informed the illusion you of that event after the fact.”
    “You didn’t etc.. etc.. etc… Physics did, and informed the illusion of you of that event after the fact.”

    Human consciousness is much more than mere brain activity, – 18 June 2011
    However, “If you think the brain is a machine then you are committed to saying that composing a sublime poem is as involuntary an activity as having an epileptic fit.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comm.....n-activity

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: But then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant: But more on that below.) Prometheus cannot be at once unbound and unreal; the human will cannot be simultaneously triumphant and imaginary.
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....oyne/?_r=0

    “What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.””
    Jerry Coyne

    “that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.”
    Francis Crick – “The Astonishing Hypothesis” 1994

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    at 37:51 minute mark of following video, according to the law of identity, Richard Dawkins does not exist as a person: (the unity of Aristotelian Form is also discussed) i.e. ironically, in atheists denying that God really exists, they end up denying that they themselves really exist as real persons.

    Atheistic Materialism – Does Richard Dawkins Exist? – video
    Quote: “It turns out that if every part of you, down to sub-atomic parts, are still what they were when they weren’t in you, in other words every ion,,, every single atom that was in the universe,, that has now become part of your living body, is still what is was originally. It hasn’t undergone what metaphysicians call a ‘substantial change’. So you aren’t Richard Dawkins. You are just carbon and neon and sulfur and oxygen and all these individual atoms still.
    You can spout a philosophy that says scientific materialism, but there aren’t any scientific materialists to pronounce it.,,, That’s why I think they find it kind of embarrassing to talk that way. Nobody wants to stand up there and say, “You know, I’m not really here”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVCnzq2yTCg&t=37m51s

    At the 23:33 minute mark of the following video, Richard Dawkins agrees with materialistic philosophers who say that:

    “consciousness is an illusion”

    A few minutes later Rowan Williams asks Dawkins

    ”If consciousness is an illusion…what isn’t?”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWN4cfh1Fac&t=22m57s

    Here Dawkins admits it is impossible to live as if his atheistic worldview was really true:

    Who wrote Richard Dawkins’s new book? – October 28, 2006
    Excerpt: Dawkins: What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do.,,,
    Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?
    Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02783.html

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    per Answers for Hope

    Verse, Quotes and Music

    John 8:58
    “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

    “Descartes said ‘I think, therefore I am.’ My bet is that God replied, ‘I am, therefore think.'”
    Art Battson – Access Research Group

    As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.”
    – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest mathematicians/logicians who ever existed)

    Phillips, Craig & Dean – Great I Am (Lyrics)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_VR-zwp2KA

  12. 12
    Mapou says:

    Why does Moran not believe in the miracles of Jesus but has no qualm believing in the miracle of life arising from inert dirt all by itself?

    Which miracle is harder to believe: Jesus instantly healing the blind and the paralyzed or inert dirt giving birth to life? What are the odds? Inquiring minds and all that.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    Pardon a comment or two.

    C S Lewis long ago highlighted that the problem, are miracles plausible boils down to, is God there. If that is a priori locked out — as with lab coat clad evolutionary materialism — then any and all sorts of talking points will be trotted out to dismiss evidence to the contrary; including historical documentation and legacy.

    Which, make Jesus the pivot of our civilisation’s history.

    That is one reason why I have emphasised that reality demands a necessary being root adequate to account for it, and that absent responsible, rational freedom, the project of discussion and warrant for knowledge on facts and logic collapses. Indeed, the project of being a real person collapses, as BA77 pointed out above.

    But such freedom is inherently moral, demanding a basis for our being under moral government.

    Thence, the IS-OUGHT gap multiplied by ontological and cosmological issues.

    The only serious candidate that can properly bridge is and ought as required is the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    In that context the evidence of messiah and the witness of the 500 sustained peacefully in the face of dungeon, fire, sword and worse, and the evidence down to today of lives transformed, cumulatively are unanswerable, hence the tendency to divert attention, ignore, suppress and dismiss.

    But, to do so, a price must be paid.

    For me, it is a no-brainer. Absent miracles of guidance in answer to prayer of surrender, I simply would not be here.

    KF

  14. 14
    Mung says:

    rhampton7: I think Larry would probably agree with Thomas Jefferson – that Jesus was a human teacher of moral philosophy, and nothing more.

    You think he believes that all that end of the world stuff was tacked on later by someone else who knew it was false?

    Seems to me that Jewish moral philosophers were called prophets.

  15. 15
    Andre says:

    It is true that the biblical accounts of Jesus could be biased but the truth about Christ is not found in the biblical books it is found in what his enemies said about Him. The very fact that the Jews who opposed him acknowledges him is a very reliable source of his historicity. Larry Moran is welcome to deny him in 2015. The people of his time that hated him could not do that because he was literally alive and among them.

  16. 16
    goodusername says:

    The very fact that the Jews who opposed him acknowledges him is a very reliable source of his historicity.

    What are you referring to?

  17. 17
    Blue_Savannah says:

    They can’t impugn Jesus’ character, so instead they try to claim He never existed. How pathetic.

  18. 18
    Andre says:

    Goodusername

    So Jesus did not exactly have many friends in the Jewish Sanhedrin

    example; http://www.halakhah.com/sanhed.....in_43.html

    If he never existed, why call him by his name?

  19. 19
    Larry Moran says:

    I think there’s convincing evidence that a man named “Jesus” (or the local language equivalent) existed in the first century A.D. I think there’s evidence that he was executed by unknown means. I think there’s good evidence that he had a following while he was still alive.

  20. 20
    Andre says:

    Prof Moran

    Thank you for that. You may now call him a madman or the Messiah.

    “Whomsoever shall speak a word against the son of man it shall be forgiven him.”

  21. 21
    Phinehas says:

    LM:

    Do you think there is good evidence that the people who followed him believed he rose from the dead?

  22. 22
    Barb says:

    Napoléon Bonaparte reportedly said: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires, but upon what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded his kingdom upon love, and at this day millions of men would die for him.”

    I have regarded Jesus of Nazareth as one amongst the mighty teachers that the world has had. . . . I shall say to the Hindus that your lives will be incomplete unless you reverently study the teachings of Jesus.”—Mohandas K. Gandhi, The Message of Jesus Christ.

    “A character so original, so complete, so uniformly consistent, so perfect, so human and yet so high above all human greatness, can be neither a fraud nor a fiction. . . . It would take more than a Jesus to invent a Jesus.”—Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church.

    “That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels.”—Will Durant, Caesar and Christ.

    “It may seem incomprehensible that a globe-spanning religious movement could have been triggered by a nonexistent person dreamed up as the ancient equivalent of a marketing device, given the ranks of incontestably real people who have tried and failed to found faiths.”—Gregg Easterbrook, Beside Still Waters.

    ‘As a literary historian I am perfectly convinced that whatever the Gospels are, they are not legends. They are not artistic enough to be legends. Most of the life of Jesus is unknown to us, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so.’—C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock.

    “It would require much exotic calculation, however, to deny that the single most powerful figure—not merely in these two millenniums but in all human history—has been Jesus of Nazareth.”—Reynolds Price, American writer and Bible scholar.

    “A man who was completely innocent offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.”—Mohandas K. Gandhi, political and spiritual leader of India.

    “As a child, I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.”—Albert Einstein, German-born scientist.

    “Jesus Christ, to me, is the outstanding personality of all time, all history, both as Son of God and as Son of Man. Everything He ever said or did has value for us today, and that is something you can say of no other man, alive or dead.”—Sholem Asch, Polish-born essayist as quoted in Christian Herald; italics theirs.

    “For thirty five years of my life I was, in the proper acceptation of the word, nihilist, a man who believed in nothing. Five years ago my faith came to me. I believed in the doctrine of Jesus Christ and my whole life underwent a sudden transformation.”—Count Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist and philosopher.

    “[Jesus’] life is the most influential ever lived on this planet and its effect continues to mount.”—Kenneth Scott Latourette, American historian and author.

    “Shall we suppose the evangelic history a mere fiction? Indeed, my friend, it bears not the marks of fiction. On the contrary, the history of Socrates, which nobody presumes to doubt, is not so well attested as that of Jesus Christ.”—Jean-Jacques Rousseau, French philosopher.

    Okay, Dr. Moran. If Jesus Christ never existed, then who are the above quotes speaking about? How is it that a variety of people from various lands, cultures, economic and social statures, and time periods all spoke of him? If he doesn’t exist, then who are they talking about?

    You think about that. I’ll wait.

  23. 23
    PaV says:

    Larry:

    Do you have “independent” evidence that your mother loved you?

    [IOW, knowledge isn’t limited to what we can learn from the lab]

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    Larry, thank you for your post.

    I don’t think Larry qualifies as a Jesus denier.

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    Design denier maybe…

    😀

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington says:

    I am not sure what the phrase “independent evidence” means. I think in this context it probably means “evidence that Larry Moran is willing to credit after filtering it through his philosophical prejudices.”

    We can substitute Larry for Richard in this

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d4FHHf00pY

    My favorite:

    Donall: Hey Conall, I just proved that there is no such thing as Barium.

    Conall: And how did you do that Donall?

    Donall: By throwing out all the samples of Barium.

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    LM, the very fact that the existence of Jesus is seen as up in the air by many so-called new atheists raises questions about that movement. As to the denial that he was crucified, that is the consent of the C1 documents and it is highly credible by embarrassment — a crucified messiah figure was a mark of a curse to Jews and disqualifying shame to gentiles. This then raises why it was that his message and movement prevailed nonetheless. The only serious answer is the historical rock of 500 eyewitnesses to his resurrection who — while patently not terrorists or a rebellion — could not be stopped by threat, force or torture. At the price of blood, they passed down to us the record so many so cavalierly despise and dismiss today. KF

  28. 28
    ppolish says:

    In the year 4000AD, if humans still exist, there will be yahoos who deny Darwin was a real person. Nevermind Noah’s Ark – where is the HMS Beagle? In the year of our Lord 4000. Oh wait, 4000CE.

  29. 29
    bFast says:

    Thanks Barry Arrington, I needed a good chuckle this morni

  30. 30
    J-Mac says:

    Larry is also a Darwin denialist, calling himself non Darwinists, so what makes you so surprised that Larry denies Jesus?

  31. 31
    goodusername says:

    Andre,

    I thought you meant by contemporary enemies. Even if we accept that the text is about Jesus (which seems doubtful IMO – it was a common name – this Yeshu died at the wrong time [perhaps a century prior to Jesus], on the wrong day [day before Passover] in the wrong way [hanging – although I suppose that can be stretched to include crucifixion], and with most of his disciples’ names being unfamiliar, and stories about them that’s completely unfamiliar), this was likely written by someone centuries later.

  32. 32
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Professor Moran,

    Thank you for your post. I am pleased to hear that you accept the fact that a man named “Jesus” (or the local language equivalent) had a following and was put to death in the first century A.D. “by unknown means,” although I’m a little surprised that you remain agnostic about the fact that he was crucified. Still, that admission of yours represents progress of a sort.

  33. 33
    Andre says:

    Goodusername

    That is just one reference there are many many more

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