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Do atheists deny the existence of Jesus, or his ressurection?

I am a bit confused, lately I have seen some atheists deny that Jesus even existed at all. The debate over whether or not his claims were true seems much more practical to me. Do atheists in general believe that Jesus never existed, or is it just a radical few?

Posted: May 5th 2009

Dave Hitt www

Once again, we need to point out that there are is only one Universal Atheist Belief: Gods are not real. That’s it. Some other beliefs are common among atheists, but none are universal.

Since we don’t believe in god, the question of Jesus’ resurrection is a moot point. The question of his historical existence, though, is an interesting one. Some atheists are very interested in it, others, not so much. (I fall into the latter category.) Personally, I’d guess he is based on a real person, someone with incredible charisma, and who was probably a good magician. If he didn’t exist we’ll never be able to prove it, though, so while I find it a slightly interesting question, I don’t consider it an important one.

But that’s just me. Other atheists have entirely different opinions on both the facts of the matter and the importance of it.

Posted: May 10th 2009

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Eric_PK

“Deny that Jesus existed” is fairly loaded language – it’s basically saying that somebody willfully ignores the overwhelming evidence of something.

Many atheists that I’ve met, not believing in the divinity of jesus, find the question of his existence to be uninteresting.

I’ve studied this a bit. The contemporary non-christian evidence for his existence is very thin – the passage in Josephus is widely believed to be a forgery (note).

It’s also true that the story of jesus is by no means the only messiah story going around at the time, and it’s not inconceivable that Christians adapted a popular myth to their own purposes. Much like they established “Christmas” to overlay the existing winter solstice celebrations (clearly just a marketing move) and “Easter” on or near the passover celebration.

And none of this was written down until at least 50 C.E., some of it likely later, which given the lifespans in those years means that the gospels are recorded oral tradition, not eyewitness accounts. And the accepted group set of gospels wasn’t really firmed up until the 5th century – there are other books that didn’t make the cut.

I don’t have a strong personal opinion. I think it’s possible that jesus existed as a person, and I also think that he is just a creation of the oral tradition.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying this. I find it interesting that the vast majority of christians have little or no knowledge of the early history of the church or the bible.

Posted: May 7th 2009

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jonecc www

Your question is phrased as if the subject was a matter of personal contemplation. Atheists, almost by definition, would not approach it in that way.

We don’t assert or deny the existence of Jesus in the same way that a theist might assert or deny the Trinity. For us, it’s a historical question. I would imagine the majority of us would say that we weren’t qualified enough to offer a definitive opinion, not being trained historians. At the time of writing there are two answers to the question, and both of them are very cautious about making any definite factual claims on the subject.

In the same way, we don’t have a position as such on the nature of light, the big bang, the politics of the Middle East or the likely fortunes of Bristol City football club.

Having said that, we would probably agree that the most important tool in addressing any factual question is the available evidence. The lack of evidence is our primary reason for disbelieving in the certainty of a God in the first place.

Posted: May 6th 2009

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George Ricker www

Atheists generally have no belief in gods, so it would follow that atheists generally have no belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ or in any of the supernatural events associated with his life as recounted in the New Testament.

Whether or not there was a historical person on whom the stories about Jesus were based is a separate issue. I suspect most atheists would agree there might have been. However, the evidence for such a person is very sketchy, at best. There is no first-hand documentation outside the Bible, and what is in the Bible is generally thought to be hearsay, at best, and not eyewitness testimony.

On a personal note, I used to be inclined to think there probably was a historical Jesus, or, at least, a person around whom the stories were collected. However, the more I have studied the subject, the more I have seen that view as problematic. The most I can say right now is that there may have been such a person, but I am not at all convinced of it.

Posted: May 6th 2009

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SmartLX www

Atheists do not believe that the Christian God exists. Neither therefore do atheists believe that Jesus, if he existed, was the son of God, or that he had divine assistance with which to rise from the dead or perform any other miracle.

There’s no contradiction in thinking Jesus did exist while also thinking the above. Many, indeed I think most, atheists think there was a historical Jesus in some form. Therefore the position that there was no Jesus at all is something additional to atheism. I’ve seen it called “Jesus mythicism”.

Personally, I think that there’s enough documentation to suggest at the very least the existence of a man on whom the stories of Jesus were based. I object to claims that his existence has been conclusively established, because the documentation is all there is.

No confirmed physical evidence of Jesus, his family, his first followers or even the town of Nazareth has ever been found. Even in the realm of documentation, there’s not a word written by the man himself (only quotations by others), no likenesses of him, no contemporary records of his dealings with the bureaucratic Romans and no written mention of him by anyone at all until years after his supposed crucifixion. Therefore I use the words “supposed” and “supposedly” a lot when referring to Jesus and his actions in the gospels, even those which are not supernatural.

None of this means he didn’t exist, because some of the above can be said about many historical figures. The important point is that Jesus’ existence is not a rock-solid premise on which to base apologetics.

Posted: May 5th 2009

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logicel

It is my understanding that most biblical scholars regardless of their theism/atheism regard Jesus Christ as a historical figure who existed.

Since atheism is simply lack of god belief, calling an atheist who also regards Jesus as not even being an historical figure as a radical atheist makes no sense as all atheists do not have god belief, and that lack of god belief is what defines an atheist not what kind of historical figure she/he believes to have existed. Theists could also reject Jesus as a historical figure, are they then radical theists?

Posted: May 5th 2009

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