Raphael Lataster, the author of There Was No Jesus, There Is No God has an article on The Washington Post’s website arguing that Jesus didn’t really exist. Here’s an excerpt from the article that I think makes a few mistakes in reasoning:
Did a man called Jesus of Nazareth walk the earth? Discussions over whether the figure known as the “Historical Jesus” actually existed primarily reflect disagreements among atheists. Believers, who uphold the implausible and more easily-dismissed “Christ of Faith” (the divine Jesus who walked on water), ought not to get involved….
The first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources. The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional Christ of Faith. These early sources, compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them. The authors of the Gospels fail to name themselves, describe their qualifications, or show any criticism with their foundational sources – which they also fail to identify. Filled with mythical and non-historical information, and heavily edited over time, the Gospels certainly should not convince critics to trust even the more mundane claims made therein.
Where do you think Lataster goes wrong with his argument against trusting the Christian writers of the Gospels? (It might help to make a list of all his claims in this passage, explicit and implicit.) How would you challenge his challenge? Tell us what you think in the comments below, then Brett will respond to this challenge on Thursday.
Today’s objection (from a veganism site) challenges us not to discriminate against non-human animals, and it gets right to the heart of human rights: What makes human beings valuable?
The most common manifestation of speciesist discrimination is moral anthropocentrism, which is the devaluation of the interests of those who don’t belong to the human species….
The lives and experiences of nonhuman animals are usually considered less important than those of human beings simply because they are not like humans. Yet nonhuman animals have emotional lives and feel pain, pleasure, fear and joy. Devaluing their lives simply because they don’t have some characteristics that most humans have is discrimination.
Every characteristic and circumstance that is used to discriminate against nonhuman animals — such as lack of rationality, language ability, social connections — also applies to some humans. Yet we don’t use those things to measure the worth of humans. Adult humans who can reason, infants, the cognitively disabled and orphans are all considered equally valuable. The reason we try not to harm other humans is because they can feel and suffer.
What do you think? Why should even the most helpless human be considered more valuable than a high-functioning primate? Answer this challenge in the comments below, and then Alan will post his answer on Thursday.
Here’s a challenge you might hear from a Christian:
In 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, Paul says, “[M]y message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” If Paul didn’t use “persuasive words of wisdom” when he went to the Corinthians, wouldn’t it be wrong for us to use apologetics today?
What do you think about this one? Tell us in the comments below how you would respond, then Brett will answer this challenge for us on Thursday.
This week’s challenge, taken from a blog comment, is about whether or not there can be real meaning in life if God doesn’t exist:
I personally don't understand why a relatively "local" sense of purpose (limited to the scope of what humanity can grasp) is deemed insufficient by theists. I don't understand why it has to be "all or nothing," why our precarious sense of "meaning" – infinitesimal against the magnitude of physical reality – must encompass the whole universe, or else we lack all meaning. That seems incoherent to me.
Can anything be called “meaningful” in a world without God? If not, why not? How would you answer this blog commenter? Give us your thoughts in the comments below, then Brett will post a video with his answer on Thursday.