So I'm thinking that when I have kids, I would really like to teach them about Jesus, not as the Messiah or as the Son of God, but as a moral teacher who taught lessons that I cherish such as pacifism, charity, compassion, and love. Of course, I would probably not teach them to worship or pray to him(I'd have to discuss it with my other half), but I think that Jesus ranks up there when talking about virtuous figures for children to model themselves after.

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--- Noah Petersen - Nietzsche would have found it ironic if he ever heard a religious person use the term "unwashed masses". They would've most likely been the targets of this label.

Steps to selling your dogma:

1) Present yourself as the expert, here to teach the people the error of their ways. Wear a lab coat. Use big words.

2) Make sure the people don't go wandering off to hear any view points except you and yours. The lab coat and big words help. Argue from authority. A lot.

3) Be charismatic; make the sales pitch sound good. Telling the people what they want and/or expect to hear is especially useful. But you can also use bullying tactics to underscore 1 and 2. ("You'll go straight to hell if you don't do as I say! ... You're an idiot who'll never go anywhere in life if you don't tow my party line! ... Worship as I command you or die at the point of a sword!").
I think you nailed that one! You know the old saying, "Just like mushrooms. Keep em in the dark and feed em a lot of shit"
Except that I *like* mushrooms.

Mushrooms are smarter ;-)
When I kidnap children to make my own, I'm going to teach them about Spiderman. Because at some point they're going to want to read the Bible and they'll ask me why I left all the ugly parts about Jesus out.
Oooh, good one Louis. I *heart* Spiderman. Not ridiculously super-powered like Superman. Peter Parker is a nerd, and he has a bit of a dark side with the whole angst-over-responsibility-of-power thing going on. Spidy was easily one of my top 3 favorite superheroes as a kid. Quite possibly number one!

Definitely a more realistic role model than a name out of a desert that might or might not have said all the nasty things in the buybull.
I take the middle road on the "did Jesus exist?" question. As Bart Ehrman explains, it is "plausible" that a real Jesus character existed. But, it remains a question that cannot be definitively answered. Vermes claimed that the real Jesus was just a preacher and his life had little, if anything, to do with the myth created by the later Christians about his life. And, I claim that the myth about Jesus derived 100% from local Palestinian savior mythology. So, a real Jesus is unnecessary for understanding his myth.

I don't think it is worthwhile to argue with Christians about whether or not Jesus existed, because it is an unanswerable question. More importantly, the Jesus of their mythology never existed and that story was based on pagan mythology which Christians claim to reject. And, it is possible to prove with a fair degree of certainty that the Jesus myth was a pagan Palestinian myth.
Add me to the list. I don't just think Jesus existed, I think several could have existed. In other words, I personally believe that the Jesus myth is based on an amalgamation of several early First Century messiah figures.

I have to agree with John D. Your sweeping generalities are baseless, and there are historians who support the idea that Jesus was a historical figure without buying into his divinity.
In continuation of my comment above, any modern Christian with any sense of morality must reject the Jesus myth, once they understand the origin of the Jesus story. The central tenet of Christianity is that the faithful must believe that Jesus died for their sins. Regardless of any other feature of Christianity, their belief in the resurrection of Jesus derived from the most horrible aspect of Palestinian religion, human sacrifice.

There is little doubt amongst archaeologists that human sacrifice was a unique feature of Palestinian paganism. There is physical and literary evidence of human sacrifice, beginning during the early Iron Age and continuing all the way into the Roman period.

There are some scholars who try to deny or downplay human sacrifice in Palestinian religion and claim that it was not happening during the 1st century CE. But, some really damning evidence has turned up. A sacrificed baby was found in Kadesh in the Galilee, dating to the time of the Early Christians. Also, a bunch of babies were found cast into a sewer in Ashkelon, dating to the Roman period. And, there a several literary references to child sacrifice from the Roman period and earlier. Some of the Roman period references tie the ritual directly to Christians.
--- Big Blue Frog comments... Add me to the list. I don't just think Jesus existed, I think several could have existed. In other words, I personally believe that the Jesus myth is based on an amalgamation of several early First Century messiah figures.

And that's where the cynic in me asks: "How are we defining Historical Jesus?"

If we are looking for one person as the originator of any number of sayings/ideologies in the canon bible, then Saul of Tarsus is way more likely to be "historical Jesus" than anyone named Jesus was. Because we do know with near-certainty that at least 7-14 of the books of the New Testament directly reflect Saul's own hand and there's yet more solid reason to speculate that as other scriptures/gospels got narrowed down into approved/unapproved lists, it was Pauline ideology that partially, if not largely, drove the 'approved' list.

Once again, this is where some of us caution against making an automatic connection between historical Jesus and the 'message' of the canon bible.

I made the comparison in another thread to a hypothetical search for Historical Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz. Frank Baum might have had a relative or friend named Dorothy in real life. She may even have lived on a farm with her aunt and uncle and kindly farm hands and said "Oh my" a lot. But the bulk of the book's content almost certainly comes from the author, not from Historical Dorothy Gale.
--- JstN Earthling - On the contrary, the ONLY people who honestly think Jesus existed are theists. There's not one historian that even wonders about the question for the most part. As an atheist I'm surprised to hear you [Kathryn Herzog] say "Few doubt Jesus' existence"

Sorry JstN, but I too have to chime in and say it's true: Historical Jesus as pure myth is a very, very minority opinion. Not the other way around.

The other end of the extreme is the Jesus Positivers; that Historical Jesus' existence is proven beyond a reasonable doubt and we can therefore find pieces of him in the canon bible.

The middle road, and the one that to me seems most logical and objective, is that based on the evidence, there very likely was a human, flesh-and-blood Jesus who would become the template/inspiration for bible-Jesus. However;

A) "Very likely." Not "Proven beyond a reasonable doubt." Especially big qualifier when debating Theists.

B) If such a person exist, zero evidence exists beyond name/place/occupation. I.e.; no evidence which, if any, sayings/deeds/ideologies in the bible belong to 'real' Jesus versus which ones belong to the author, or any of the various people passing down oral Jesus-tradition.

Which is why some of us feel it's important to put that huge brick wall between Historical Jesus and Biblical Jesus, especially when debating Theists. The oft-made argument is, "Well unlike Hercules or Thor, at least our god (Jesus) existed as a real person!" No. He didn't. Your god exists as a series of scripture stories about someone who walked on water and raised the dead and gave birth to himself, so he could kill himself, so he wouldn't be forced to send you and I to hell.
Was that for me? I'm the one with the Christian wife.




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