Jesus Mythicism

I tend to shift interests every so often, and I seem to be moving back towards questions of religion right now. I think this may be partly because of the new book by Bart Ehrman arguing that Jesus really existed. I was disturbed to discover the prevalence in the atheist community of belief in Jesus mythicism. This is simply not a very reasonable position. The fact that the accounts of Jesus almost certainly had various accretions does not make him equivalent to any random legendary figure like King Arthur or Achilles.

It’s a good reminder that simple-minded ‘skepticism’ is as likely to lead you astray as not being skeptical enough.


4 thoughts on “Jesus Mythicism

    • It disturbs me especially because I just don’t see the motivation for it, except to try to avoid the whole issue of Jesus and the origins of Christianity. Which, for me, like, I think, for you, are more compelling than metaphysical arguments about the existence of God. I suspect, for all their claims to see nothing remarkable about Jesus, this behaviour suggests otherwise.

      • Yeah, I’m agreed on both points.

        The other thing that bugs me about this is the implied general ignorance of (or dismissal of) history in general. I mean, how do these people think we know about most historical figures? Think about, say, Socrates. You have three very different portrayals of him (much more different than the gospels) in Plato, Xenophon, and Aristophanes—and then if you include later stuff, you have Aristotle maybe acting like Plato’s Socrates just is Socrates? Which is also a bit confusing. And so on. So Socrates seems to have been a marvellous figure, but it’s a very legitimate question just how accurate any of these portrayals are, or how much these guys were even trying to be faithful to Socrates. So…. what then? Are we supposed to reject the existence of Socrates?

        If anything, we’re blessed by a enormous amount of (at least roughly) contemporary testimony on Jesus and Socrates! Imagine if you turned this kind of skeptical eye on Pythagoras or Heraclitus or Hippocrates.

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