Dr. Richard Carrier and Naturalistic Explanations For Jesus’ Resurrection Appearances
Posted: 19 April 2017 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Skeptics have long posited naturalistic explanations for Jesus’ resurrection appearances to Cephas and the Twelve.  Maybe, out of terrible grief or some completely natural transcendent mental state, the disciples were hallucinating.  On the other hand, maybe the disciples were inventing resurrection stories to lend divine clout to, and carry on, Jesus’ social ethic cause of “loving your neighbor and enemy,” a ethical cause the disciples may have been willing to die for (like Socrates).

Historian Richard Carrier characterizes the possibilities in the following way in a recent blog post:

“Of course Habermas tries to sell Strobel on the tired apologetic line that “no one dies for a lie.” Surely not, “if they knew it was a hoax,” we hear said. This is a classic straw man. And as such, another lie. It’s one thing to ask how likely it is the resurrection appearance claims were a hoax. It’s altogether another to ask how likely it is they were like every other divine appearance experience in the whole history of all religions since the dawn of time: a mystical inner vision. Just as Paul tells us. Our only eyewitness source. Of course, a case can be made for the apostles dying even for a hoax: all they needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for. Even godless Marxists voluntarily died by the millions for such a motive. So the notion that no one would, is simply false.” see: http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12263

If you are interested, I have outlined the theory that the resurrection stories were “Noble Lies” here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.ca/

What do you think?  Should we have a naturalistic or miraculous explanation for Jesus’ resurrection appearances?

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Posted: 20 April 2017 04:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Carrier makes a good case. Unfortunately it takes 500 pages or so. It’s going to take a while to get his work into the general psyche, if that happens at all. There is also the whole mythicists movement that came before him that needs to be undone. His approach is to view history as history. Some churches are already moving in this direction, but most are still treating the gospels like they came before Paul. It’s accepted that they were written later, but most still believe they are some kind of eyewitness account. I think Christianity can survive changing Jesus back into a celestial being, but I’m sure Christian scholars are worried that it can’t be done without losing a lot of converts.

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Posted: 20 April 2017 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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john76 - 19 April 2017 07:44 PM

Skeptics have long posited naturalistic explanations for Jesus’ resurrection appearances to Cephas and the Twelve.  Maybe, out of terrible grief or some completely natural transcendent mental state, the disciples were hallucinating.  On the other hand, maybe the disciples were inventing resurrection stories to lend divine clout to, and carry on, Jesus’ social ethic cause of “loving your neighbor and enemy,” a ethical cause the disciples may have been willing to die for (like Socrates).

Historian Richard Carrier characterizes the possibilities in the following way in a recent blog post:

“Of course Habermas tries to sell Strobel on the tired apologetic line that “no one dies for a lie.” Surely not, “if they knew it was a hoax,” we hear said. This is a classic straw man. And as such, another lie. It’s one thing to ask how likely it is the resurrection appearance claims were a hoax. It’s altogether another to ask how likely it is they were like every other divine appearance experience in the whole history of all religions since the dawn of time: a mystical inner vision. Just as Paul tells us. Our only eyewitness source. Of course, a case can be made for the apostles dying even for a hoax: all they needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for. Even godless Marxists voluntarily died by the millions for such a motive. So the notion that no one would, is simply false.” see: http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12263

If you are interested, I have outlined the theory that the resurrection stories were “Noble Lies” here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.ca/

What do you think?  Should we have a naturalistic or miraculous explanation for Jesus’ resurrection appearances?

None of the above. Resurrection of a so-called divine being is standard issue mythology. In Jesus’ case probably tacked on hundreds of years later by some group trying to make their Jesus better than a rival group’s Jesus. No amount of hiding behind scholarly jargon and Jesus-speak has any real value - other to those selling books I guess.

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Posted: 20 April 2017 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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THIS GDAMN SPAM FILTER IS MAKING THIS FORUM UNUSABLE. I posted my post, did a minor update, then got caught by the spam filter. So I undid my change and now it still catches it. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

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Posted: 20 April 2017 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It’s not laid out here in an easy to follow sequence, but I read Carrier’s whole book. What he says is, the Jews developed the mythology of a celestial being who could be sacrificed in “heaven”, somewhere up in the sky, and that sacrifice would result in a cleansing of sins. Paul claimed to have this event revealed to him. Only after that did he get to see Jesus, as a spirit. He was never a man. 100 years, Paul’s vision was euhemerized, making the celestial being into an historical figure. There was never a Jesus or anyone like him, ever. He puts the probability of this around 78%, with variations is you can refute certain parts of his theory.

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Posted: 20 April 2017 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Nice summary, Lausten, you even taught me a word. I’ve long thought Paul hallucinated the Jesus myth. I had forgotten about the Jews expecting a sacrifice to atone for their sins. The Bible says Paul received his revelation after having a fit and falling off a donkey. Carrier has the background and credentials to propose this in a scholarly way. Too bad DougSmith and Mriana aren’t participating these days. I’ve enjoyed reading their exchanges regarding historical versus mythological Jesus.

Edit: fixed a typo

[ Edited: 21 April 2017 06:20 PM by DarronS ]
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Posted: 21 April 2017 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Good info, basically the point I was trying to make, which included Jews at the time. There’s a slightly different take in The Passover Plot, by another biblical scholar in the 60’s. He theorizes exactly what you said, but that several Jewish men of the day, Jesus ending up being the one that “took”, thought they were the ones to fulfill the myth, which of course at the time wasn’t considered a myth.

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Posted: 24 April 2017 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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And the “noble lie” theory of Christian origins is as old as the religion itself (see Matthew 28:11-15).

It is also (questionably) attributed to Pope Pious X, quoted in John Bale, Acta Romanorum Pontificum “For on a time when a cardinall Bembus did move a question out of the Gospell, the Pope gave him a very contemptuous answer saying: All ages can testifie enough howe profitable that fable of Christe hath ben to us and our companie.” Whether Pope Pious actually said this or not, it still shows the “noble lie” theory of Christian origins was definitely present in history.

The permission of lying under special circumstances would not separate the Hebrew and Christian scriptures from other ancient spiritualities. It would actually put them all very much in line.

The justification of lying hypothesis is very interesting. It resonates with much in spirituality … even shamanism ...where the neophyte is taken in with ‘magic’ to attract their attention and then is taken to the Truth… and the understanding that what they initially through was magic was simply deception ... and the recognition of how early they were deceived.

Justified lying occurs a lot in ancient spirituality. Confucius, in the ‘Analects,’ indicates “The Governor of She said to Confucius, ‘In our village we have an example of a straight person. When the father stole a sheep, the son gave evidence against him.’ Confucius answered, ‘In our village those who are straight are quite different. Fathers cover up for their sons, and sons cover up for their fathers. In such behaviour is straightness to be found as a matter of course.’ (13.18)” .

This is also true of the Code of Manu. Roger Berkowitz says of the Manu based society, that its division of society into four castes, each with its own particular obligations and rights, is a desired end because it reflects the natural order of society. He says ‘“The order of castes, the highest, the most dominant Gesetz, is only the sanction of a natural-order, natural legal- positing of the first rank, over which no willfulness, no ‘modern idea’ has power. It is nature, not Manu or the Brahmin legislators, that divides the predominantly intellectual from those who are predominantly physically or temperamentally strong, and both of these from the mediocre, who are extraordinary in neither intellect nor strength. The ancient Indian caste system is an artifice, a Holy Lie—but it is a lie that serves natural end.’

Similarly, we see the permission of lying in Islam. In the Pro-Muslim book ‘The Spirit of Islam,’ Afif A. Tabbarah writes, concerning the mandates of Muhammed, ‘Lying is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than telling the truth. To this effect, the Prophet Muhammed says: ‘He is not a false person who (through lies) settles conciliation among people, supports good or says what is good.’

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Posted: 25 April 2017 06:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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And we know the religious people of that time were constantly lying to get their message across.  Just read Bart Ehrman’s two books:

(1) Forged:  https://www.amazon.com/Forged-Writing-God-Why-Bibles-Authors/dp/0062012622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493169026&sr=8-1&keywords=forged+ehrman
and
(2) Forgery and Counter Forgery: https://www.amazon.com/Forgery-Counter-forgery-Literary-Christian-Hardcover/dp/B00IGYT3OG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493169095&sr=1-1&keywords=forgery+and+counter+forgery+ehrman

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Posted: 26 April 2017 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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You think Jesus is a trustworthy character?

Then why does Mark portray Jesus as a fallible human prophet who couldn’t perform miracles in his home town? :
“4Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is without honor only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own household.’ 5So He could not perform any miracles there, except to lay His hands on a few of the sick and heal them.” Mark 6:4-5″

Jesus’ family knew there was nothing particularly “miraculous” about Jesus (having been around him all his life), so they didn’t come to him for miracles.

So if we have a widely successful faith healer whose family knows Jesus is nothing special, what are we to think?

Perhaps Jesus was just a sham faith healer, just like every other faith healer in history.

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