Atheists 4 Jesus

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Jagella
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Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by Jagella »

...and I'm an atheist!
I've read the above phrase many times in online forums. The context of this quotation is very often a response to some tough scrutiny I have made of Christianity. For example, years ago I was discussing the reality of death and that nobody, including Christians, can escape it. Another member there reprimanded me saying I must allow Christians to believe what they wish. He finished his tirade with, you guessed it, "...and I'm an atheist!" His response to my criticism of Christianity is a bit off-base considering that I was not forcing anybody to give up their cherished beliefs. I was just telling the truth.

Much more recently I was reading Robert Price's The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems. Price discusses the phenomenon of atheists reacting very negatively to the notion that Jesus did not exist. On page 421 he says:
Atheists, I very much suspect, want to keep a liberal Protestant or a Reform Jewish Jesus, not so much for an icon of their own as a cane to use to whip, at least to twit, orthodox Christians. "You know, your Jesus was more like us than like you."
He writes on page 422:
Atheists must simply reject Jesus as they reject Jehovah, and for the same reasons. Even as the same imaginary entity. There is no Jesus left over for humanists to respect. That's "a bit of a blow" even for many who thought they were over religion...

...A second group of Atheists for whom the Christ Myth is a shocker would be those who, never having closely examined the theory, assume it is a crackpot idea like Holocaust Denial or disbelief in the moon landing. They don't want to associate the Atheist or Humanist cause with hare-brained schemes of this kind, as its apparent lack of credibility will then be seen to bleed over into Atheism per se, and Atheism's detractors will be happy to dismiss the one along with the other, though in fact they are quite different.
I think Price might be right. I'd add that many atheists might find a "real" Jesus to be very useful for other reasons. Accepting a Jesus divested of his divinity and magical powers allows one to fit in with the consensus. In so doing, one's ideas about Jesus may be more readily accepted than completely rejecting his hoped-for reality. (It appears to be a case of group think.) After all, it's tough enough from a social perspective to reject the god of Christianity. To reject even the hope of a real Jesus makes acceptance that much tougher.

So what are some other reasons that atheists might want Jesus?

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Re: Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by rikuoamero »

[Replying to post 1 by Jagella]
So what are some other reasons that atheists might want Jesus?
It would help if you identified what atheists actually are, what they must be in order to be held together as a group.
As far as I'm concerned, an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in a god or gods.

I'm an atheist, and yet, I have no want or desire, for a Jesus of any description. This is not to say that I do not want Jesus, in the same vein as I do not want to watch Barney the Dinosaur.
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Re: Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by JP Cusick »

Jagella wrote:
...and I'm an atheist!
I've read the above phrase many times in online forums. The context of this quotation is very often a response to some tough scrutiny I have made of Christianity. For example, years ago I was discussing the reality of death and that nobody, including Christians, can escape it. Another member there reprimanded me saying I must allow Christians to believe what they wish. He finished his tirade with, you guessed it, "...and I'm an atheist!" His response to my criticism of Christianity is a bit off-base considering that I was not forcing anybody to give up their cherished beliefs. I was just telling the truth.

Much more recently I was reading Robert Price's The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems. Price discusses the phenomenon of atheists reacting very negatively to the notion that Jesus did not exist. On page 421 he says:
Atheists, I very much suspect, want to keep a liberal Protestant or a Reform Jewish Jesus, not so much for an icon of their own as a cane to use to whip, at least to twit, orthodox Christians. "You know, your Jesus was more like us than like you."
He writes on page 422:
Atheists must simply reject Jesus as they reject Jehovah, and for the same reasons. Even as the same imaginary entity. There is no Jesus left over for humanists to respect. That's "a bit of a blow" even for many who thought they were over religion...

...A second group of Atheists for whom the Christ Myth is a shocker would be those who, never having closely examined the theory, assume it is a crackpot idea like Holocaust Denial or disbelief in the moon landing. They don't want to associate the Atheist or Humanist cause with hare-brained schemes of this kind, as its apparent lack of credibility will then be seen to bleed over into Atheism per se, and Atheism's detractors will be happy to dismiss the one along with the other, though in fact they are quite different.
I think Price might be right. I'd add that many atheists might find a "real" Jesus to be very useful for other reasons. Accepting a Jesus divested of his divinity and magical powers allows one to fit in with the consensus. In so doing, one's ideas about Jesus may be more readily accepted than completely rejecting his hoped-for reality. (It appears to be a case of group think.) After all, it's tough enough from a social perspective to reject the god of Christianity. To reject even the hope of a real Jesus makes acceptance that much tougher.

So what are some other reasons that atheists might want Jesus?
I see this as a very enlightened view.

And I like separating Jesus from God, and yes view Jesus as a person instead of being a God.

I have known of people who are non believers or Atheist and they will still get married in Church and celebrate Christmas and get buried in a religious cemetery with a religious funeral, and it makes no sense to fight against things which are petty or insignificant.

Being an Atheist does not mean one must dump the entire ten commandments either.
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Re: Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by Jagella »

[Replying to post 2 by rikuoamero]
As far as I'm concerned, an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in a god or gods.
Yes, that's my definition of "atheist."
I'm an atheist, and yet, I have no want or desire, for a Jesus of any description.
But don't you at least want to discuss Jesus? Isn't that what we're doing now? Discussing Jesus?

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Re: Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by Jagella »

[Replying to post 3 by JP Cusick]
I see this as a very enlightened view.
Are you referring to my view or Price's? I think Robert Price is a great thinker.
And I like separating Jesus from God, and yes view Jesus as a person instead of being a God.
Is Jesus a "person" like Alexander the Great or a "person" like Merlin the Magician?
I have known of people who are non believers or Atheist and they will still get married in Church and celebrate Christmas and get buried in a religious cemetery with a religious funeral, and it makes no sense to fight against things which are petty or insignificant.
Are you saying that Jesus is useful for social reasons?
Being an Atheist does not mean one must dump the entire ten commandments either.
While the Ten Commandments are not said to have originated with Jesus, he did preach that we should obey them. (Matthew 19:15-17) So you see Jesus as a good example of conduct?

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Re: Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by Furrowed Brow »

Jagella wrote:So what are some other reasons that atheists might want Jesus?
I suspect a lot of us atheists are moralists. We have a sense of right and wrong and good and bad and maybe for the most part we tend towards the liberal end of the spectrum. So when in these kinds of debates we focus on what the Christian Jesus means we often give Christianity the benefit of the doubt and project a liberal Jesus. On this view a loving, kind, and easy going, don't throw the first stone and love thy neighbour liberalness is what counts as good and rejected are what we see as bronze age overtones found in some interpretations of the NT we reject for moral reasons.

It is not that we want Jesus - though maybe some atheists do - we want religion in general and Christianity to be ..well...a post enlightenment religion built much in our own image. 8-)

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Re: Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by Mithrae »

Jagella wrote: So what are some other reasons that atheists might want Jesus?
Simply following the available evidence would be an obvious one, though it's understandable that Price wants to highlight alternative motives. Writing about a 'Pythagoras Myth' or 'Socrates Myth' theory would probably be considerably less lucrative than the Christ Myth, which perhaps partly explains why they are less popular topics: But if we did see those notions around like the (almost as fringe) Christ Myth, we really wouldn't feel compelled to invoke ulterior motives on the part of people who simply accept the status quo, would we? Doing so in the case of people who have been unswayed by the offerings of Christ Mythicists seems to be little more than a thinly-veiled ad hominem attack.

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Re: Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by Jagella »

[Replying to post 6 by Furrowed Brow]
It is not that we want Jesus - though maybe some atheists do - we want religion in general and Christianity to be ..well...a post enlightenment religion built much in our own image.
So we need to take care not to throw the baby out with the bath water? I have retained some of the morality that was taught to me in my Christian days. For example, Luke 3:11 teaches:
Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.
I have often shared what I have with those who may need it but don't have it. I'm not sure if I need Jesus to tell me to do so, though.

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Re: Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by JP Cusick »

Jagella wrote: Are you referring to my view or Price's? I think Robert Price is a great thinker.
I do not include any person into any view, as I just agreed only with the view, so the person(s) is irrelevant.

You said that you agreed with Price's view, but the view is all I cared about - not either person.

As in - I liked the view of separating Jesus from God, and yes view Jesus as a person instead of being a God.
Jagella wrote: Is Jesus a "person" like Alexander the Great or a "person" like Merlin the Magician?
Again = the person is irrelevant or just far less relevant.

The message is the point, and not the person of the messenger.

We (or I) are to follow the doctrine = Be not a respecter or persons, see Acts 10:34-35 ~ and of course that does not mean to disrespect anyone.
Jagella wrote:
JP Cusick wrote:I have known of people who are non believers or Atheist and they will still get married in Church and celebrate Christmas and get buried in a religious cemetery with a religious funeral, and it makes no sense to fight against things which are petty or insignificant.
Are you saying that Jesus is useful for social reasons?
No, I was saying that Christianity as like any religion serves many social needs of humanity.

The Church is not a person, and religion is not a person.
Jagella wrote: While the Ten Commandments are not said to have originated with Jesus, he did preach that we should obey them. (Matthew 19:15-17) So you see Jesus as a good example of conduct?
Again you are hung up on the person of Jesus, and you put Jesus as God, which is directly contrary to your OP, and contrary to what I agreed with.

My words were = The ten commandments are examples of conduct to follow.

The ten commandments is the message - no matter who was the messenger.
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Re: Atheists 4 Jesus

Post by Jagella »

[Replying to post 7 by Mithrae]
Simply following the available evidence would be an obvious one...
So your "wanting Jesus" is purely based on following the evidence for him.
Writing about a 'Pythagoras Myth' or 'Socrates Myth' theory would probably be considerably less lucrative than the Christ Myth, which perhaps partly explains why they are less popular topics...
You can make a lot of money on Jesus, that's for sure. A money-motive is hardly peculiar to mythicists, though. Bart Ehrman has at least one best-selling book in which he presents his model of Jesus: a Jewish peasant, apocalyptic preacher. So sticking with a "real" Jesus can be very lucrative.
But if we did see those notions around like the (almost as fringe) Christ Myth, we really wouldn't feel compelled to invoke ulterior motives on the part of people who simply accept the status quo, would we?
I'm not sure how I might feel about people who accept a historical Pythagoras or Socrates in the face of evidence against their historicity. If their reaction was as angry and abusive as the historical-Jesus crowd, then I might well think they have ulterior motives in insisting those figures were real people. I'm sure there was a real Martin Luther, but I would never angrily attack those who might doubt him. At worst I might find their doubt to be peculiar, and I might put forth some effort to convince them that there was a Martin Luther. If they remain skeptical, then I would just shrug my shoulders and let the doubters doubt. So why does the Jesus-history crowd not react to mythicism as dispassionately as I'd react to Luther mythicism? There just seems that something strange is going on among historicists in the face of mythicism.
Doing so in the case of people who have been unswayed by the offerings of Christ Mythicists seems to be little more than a thinly-veiled ad hominem attack.
Personal attacks are hardly peculiar to mythicists: I have endured a lot of abuse for merely doubting a historical Jesus.

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