The Big Question: Is the Bible still relevant today?

On BBC’s “The Big Question”, the question was asked “Is the Bible still relevant today?” As part of that discussion, it was said by a scholar of biblical history that the bible is mostly not factual. Although Jesus existed, David and Moses did not. Other panellists conceded that although the bible is a great book, it is more about “truth” than facts. A rational person would think that any fact is true by definition but religious people talk about truth as having a different meaning — their “truth” is a description of how people are, what makes them tick. It’s like a revelation about our psychology and out relationship to a god. This video is part of the full talk and is limited to this discussion.

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8 Responses to The Big Question: Is the Bible still relevant today?

  1. This program begins with two fallacies that atheists use regularly.

    1. The narrator builds the straw man by proclaiming that only history can be considered as fact.

    2. Then Dr. Francesca establishes herself as the authority for her own argument against the straw man by proclaims her personal opinion as the Gospel truth.

    All this in less than 40 seconds.

    I didn’t have the heart to continue further.

    • AtheismDefended says:

      So then what would YOU call factual? A zombie coming back from the dead?

      • Atheism,

        Your reply, “So what would you call factual, a zombie coming back from the dead?” is an example of a straw man.

        You the atheist, hallucinate an absurdity, assign it to your opposition and demand that the opposition explain the absurdity.

        If the atheist posts a video of other atheists making arguments based on logical fallacies, it is the atheists who need to explain that when questioned about it.

        It is not just or rational to deflect the atheist obligation of having to explain his own argument.

      • AtheismDefended says:

        Oh PULLESSE with the shifting of the burden of proof already. Your religion is as dead as your jesus is. I’ve seen your exotic type circle jerk arguments a million times before but what you are really saying is you theists in your various religious cults have not ONE shred of evidence for anything you believe therefore you are forced to try and put it on us. Wanna see the result? Hopefully I’ll be able to upload my entire set of FACTS here – based on my own YEARS of studies.
        I would be most delighted if you attempted to try and refute this. No one, to date, has done so. Most of you run for the hills. Anyway:

        The alleged secular sources for a historical Jesus??

        sources include: Barker, Ehrman, Moss, Arnheim, Doherty, Fitzgerald, Carrier, Remsburg,

        ALL serious scholars say that the Josephus quote is a fraud, put in by possibly Eusebius decades after Josephus died. Among many clues historians look for is continuity of a passage, ie: the subject matter flows in a way as to be understood logically and seamlessly. With Josephus’ text the verse right before the forgery and right after it discuss the horrible events surrounding Pilate’s killing of people. But, right in the middle of the story we have a jesus commercial as I call it! An obvious ADDITION made decades, maybe centuries, after the original writing by Josephus and, I might add, NO different than many parts of your bible which, in the nt, was repeated by orthodox fundies intent, just like YOU, on making the myths/legends of a christ going on and on.

        The actual Josephus forgery was: “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.“ (Ant., book 18, chapter 3)

        *My comment* – Josephus was an orthodox Jew, albeit perhaps not a very religious one but still a non-Christian. By using the word, Christ, among other things, he was committing blasphemy and would have been dealt with accordingly by local Jewish officials.

        Tacitus offers a vague reference to a Chrestus which was a name for something OTHER than the mythical Christos. Regarding any followers, Tacitus claimed a christ ( I say ‘a’ christ because many deluded prophets were going around during that time claiming to be a christ) was put to death as criminal, nothing about a magical comeback. Tacitus went on to CRITICIZE the followers for ‘their hatred of the human race’ and being PROSECUTED for their crimes such as their ‘depravity and filth’. Nothing about a Jesus or resurrection or miracles, etc.

        Pliny reference – In 112AD Pliny, the younger wrote, christians were singing a hymn to christ as to a god. Nothing about a jesus, etc. No different than saying hari kristnas were singing to lord kristna. And Pliny may have been referring to the other false christs going around claiming to be THE one and only. Why would they write unconfirmed things?

        Both Pliny and Tacitus say NOTHING about a specific jesus.

        *My additional comment – EVERYONE in a religious cult, xtian or otherwise, did that but the xtians were notorious for lying.

        Celsius derided them for fabricating crap out of thin air and even Origen, a Christian, admitted to incredibly sloppy transcribing from one manuscript to another.

        Philo Judaeus whom I’ll speak of in more detail shortly was an ancient historian who lived at the SAME time that a jesus allegedly lived and even resided in the same area. Philo said SQUAT about him or even his alleged followers even though other events of that time were judiciously recorded by him. Justus of Tiberius, a Galilean, was another contemporary of that time and also wrote NOTHING about their lord or his supplicants. In fact, a 9th century xtian, named Photius verified the lack of historical writings by complaining about Philo and others not mentioning anything about the cult – a tacit admission of sorts. *

        By Richard Smith

        Consider the following list. These are the historians and writers who DID live within Christ’s alleged lifetime or within a hundred years of it, after the time (41). Not ONE of them mentions a historical Jesus and/or any followers of his (some previously cited by me): Apollonius, Persius, Appian, Petronius, Arrian, Phaedrus, Aulus Gellius, Philo-Judaeus, Columella, Phlegon, Damis, Pliny the Elder, Dio Chrysostom, Pliny the Younger, Dion Pruseus, Plutarch, Epictetus, Pomponius Mela, Favorinus, Ptolemy, Florus Lucius, Hermogones, Quintius Curtius, Josephus, Seneca, Justus of Tiberius, Silius Italicus, Juvenal, Statius, Lucanus, Suetonius, Lucian, Tacitus, Lysias, Theon of Smyran, Martial, Valerius Flaccus, Paterculus, Valerius Maximus, Pausanias

        Nicolaus of Damascus (c. late 1st century B.C.E. – early 1st century C.E.) was, among many other things, tutor of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and personal friend, advisor and court historian to King Herod the Great. Nicolaus wrote a world history in 144 books up to the end of Herod’s reign, relying heavily on Herod’s personal memoirs and of course his own first-hand knowledge (Josephus cites Nicolaus as a principal source for his own account of Herod’s reign). Only a few fragments of this work remain, but if the nativity story in Matthew really happened, it is somewhat incredible that none of it was mentioned by Nicolaus. He would have been an eyewitness when the wise men came to Herod’s court and so badly troubled the King (“and all Jerusalem with him,” Matt. 2:3) that he summoned all the chief priests and scribes for an emergency meeting to learn more about this rival messiah. He would have been on hand when Herod learned that the magi had deceived him, went into a rage, and dispatched his soldiers to kill all the infant boys in Bethlehem “and all its districts” (Matt.2:16). Yet, Nicolaus says nothing of this.

        This phenomenon is not just restricted to the history writers of the first few centuries. Even in fiction writing there is evidence that Christianity remained a largely unknown religious movement on the fringe of society for hundreds of years. We know of at least half a dozen ancient pagan novels written between the late 1st and 3rd centuries. Yet notably, Christians are never encountered in any of them before the 4th century, even though these stories typically involved adventures across the whole known world and through all areas of society. For example, in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses he encounters a number of cultists from various religions, but never a single Christian.

        In the case of Jesus, his believers are left with two unhappy choices: either the Gospels were grossly exaggerating Jesus’ life and accomplishments, and Jesus was just another illiterate, wandering preacher with a tiny following, completely unnoticed by society at large – or he was an outright mythical character. One common reaction from apologists is to insist that there are huge gaps in the historical record of the first century, big enough to hide Jesus in. This is not just untrue – as we’ve seen, there were plenty of writers who had every chance and every reason to discuss Jesus in their surviving work – but this situation is worsened by yet another consideration. Christians themselves were responsible for the lion’s share of all ancient writings that survived. Remember it was the Church that for hundreds of years doggedly preserved the writings they approved of – and destroyed or simply neglected to maintain the ones they didn’t like.

        The following taken from Chapter 2, Fitzgerald, David (2010-09-30). Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All – Kindle Edition.

        He began by mentioning the so called eyewitnesses or just witnesses to a Jesus. He had a timeline showing that the majority of them did not even live during the time of this jesus and that most of their writing appeared 100 years or more after the alleged birth of this jesus. Few are even talking about Christ in any context. For the most part, they are discussing Christians, not Christ at all. The two who appear to even mention a Christ, namely those of Tacitus and Suetonius, are just snippets that happen to mention common Christian beliefs of their day in passing while actually discussing some other subject altogether, not making any grand pronouncements on Jesus’ historicity.

        *My addition*: the term, Chrestus, used by them was a common word meaning ‘friend’ among other things and had nothing to do with the messianic Christ.

        Fitzgerald goes on to show us there were many first century writers, philosophers, historians, and other commentators who had good reason to notice Jesus, and despite apologists’ fervent denials, a wealth of their writings still exists today. But these perfectly respectable sources are never on Christian lists of historical witnesses. They include important figures like Epictetus, Pomponius Mela, Martial, Juvenal, Seneca the Younger, Gallio, Seneca the Elder, Pliny the Elder, Plutarch, Justus of Tiberias, Philo of Alexandria, Nicolaus of Damascus and more. And these are just the contemporaries; there are still later commentators who we would expect to have mentioned Christ, but did not.

        Following are some living during or around the same time as this jesus.

        Seneca the Younger (c. 3 B.C.E. – 65) Lucius Annaeus Seneca, philosopher, writer, statesman, and de facto ruler of the Empire for many years, had three compelling reasons to mention Jesus at least at some point in his many writings. First, though regarded as the greatest Roman writer on ethics, he has nothing to say about arguably the biggest ethical shakeup of his time. Second, in his book on nature Quaestiones Naturales, he records eclipses and other unusual natural phenomena, but makes no mention of the miraculous Star of Bethlehem, the multiple earthquakes in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death, or the worldwide (or at the very least region-wide) darkness at Christ’s crucifixion that he himself should have witnessed. Third, in another book On Superstition, Seneca lambasts every known religion, including Judaism.1 But strangely, he makes no mention whatsoever of Christianity, which was supposedly spreading like wildfire across the empire. This uncomfortable fact later made Augustine squirm in his theological treatise City of God (book 6, chapter 11) as he tried mightily to explain away Seneca’s glaring omission. In the 4th century, Christian scribes were so desperate to co-opt Seneca they even forged a series of correspondence between Seneca and his “dearest” friend, the Apostle Paul! They were notorious forgers known for doing this elsewhere regarding letters from Paul or John to others discussing their various myths.

        Seneca’s silence is compounded by the fact that his older brother was Junius Annaeus Gallio (died 65 AD), who actually appears in the Bible. According to the author of the book of Acts (18:12-17), Gallio was the magistrate who heard Paul’s case and threw it out of court. If this is true, it’s curious that Gallio never seems to have told his brother about this amazing Jesus character that everyone was so excited about, since Seneca was very interested in just this sort of thing. But Seneca shows no sign of ever having heard of Christians or Jesus at all. It’s also strange that even in Acts, Gallio has never heard of Jesus. This makes no sense at all if Jesus was a famous miracle worker recently executed who had returned from the dead and remained in Jerusalem for forty days, as Acts also says.

        Jewish historian Justus of Tiberias (died c. 101) was a native of Tiberias in Galilee (not far from Jesus’ hometown), was personal secretary to King Herod Agrippa II (who allegedly met the apostle Paul), and even wrote a history of the Kingdom of Judah covering the entire time when Jesus lived. And it’s very interesting to read what he says about Jesus: Not ONE word.

        The MOST damning of all – Philo of Alexandria (c.20 B.C.E. – c. 50) Writer, political commentator and esteemed Jewish statesman, Philo was above all the greatest Jewish philosopher of the Greco- Roman world; he fused Jewish and Greek thought to create Hellenistic Judaism. Philo was one of the more prolific writers in the ancient world. Around thirty of his books still survive, among which are his commentaries on contemporary politics and events of note affecting the Jews. He was certainly interested in fringe religions, and not afraid to talk about them. He wrote a great deal on other Jewish sects of the time, such as the Essenes(a form of christianity as posited by some), but nothing on Jesus, or on Christianity either, even though his home of Alexandria was supposedly one of the early cradles of Christianity, ie: Eastern Church (Western Church was Rome). Philo was in just the right time and place to be a brilliant historical witness to Jesus. He lived before, during and after the alleged time of Christ, and he had strong connections to Jerusalem. He didn’t just spend time in Jerusalem – his family was intimately connected with the royal house of Judea. So when Jesus’ fame and new philosophy spread all across Judea and beyond, when Jesus had his triumphant procession into the Holy City, drove the moneychangers from the temple, was crucified, resurrected and ascended to Heaven, when Jerusalem experienced two major earthquakes, supernatural darkness, and all the dead holy people emerged from their graves and made their way though Jerusalem – Philo was on the scene through all of that. In fact, he could have quite literally been on the scene for all of that. Philo would have loved to have been able to speak firsthand with these great Jewish saints he wrote so much about. But apparently neither their return from the dead nor any of those other miracles made much of an impression on either him – or anyone else in Jerusalem – because he never makes the slightest mention of any of these events. This absence is particularly strange considering what a huge influence Philo had on Christian theology. The early Christians were Philo’s biggest fans. It was early Hellenistic Jewish thinkers like Philo who first combined Jewish thought with the idea of “The Logos,” i.e. the Word, as in “In the beginning was the Word,” and “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Philo also wrote of the pneuma (“breath”) as the inspiration of God, the supernatural power that flows from God into the human soul. The word pneuma appears almost 400 times in the New Testament, most notably as hagion pneuma – the Holy Spirit. As Frank Zindler has noted, without Philo, the idea of the Trinity couldn’t have been invented years later by the second century Christians.

        Following are some living after jesus.

        There are still many other candidates from the century or two after the time of Jesus that, although they would not have been eyewitnesses, still could have had reason to comment on Jesus, his teachings, or the miraculous events associated with him. Seeing how eagerly the Roman church pounced upon and preserved the barest mentions of Christ in pagan writings, we can be quite certain that if any of these writers had talked about him, the church would have done the same with their writings as well. Here are just a few:

        Pausanias was a 2nd century Greek travel writer whose stops included Antioch, Joppa, Jerusalem and the banks of the river Jordan. He was fascinated by all kinds of gods, holy relics and sacred or mysterious things, frequently pausing in his descriptions to relate local legends or digress on the wonders of nature, including earthquakes and meteorological phenomena. Says NOTHING about a jesus or his followers

        Aelius Aristides (117 -181) (not to be confused with the Christian apologist Aristides) was a famous Greek hypochondriac who wrote extensively on his own visions of various gods. He was obsessed with pursuing miraculous healing of his endless imagined illnesses, which stretched on for 38 years. He wrote his best work on sacred teachings, and his other writings are praised for their social history of Asia Minor (where many early Christian communities existed). Yet nowhere do Jesus’ sacred teachings or his impact on history appear.

        Marcus Cornelius Fronto (100-166) wrote Discourse against the Christians, of which only a single fragment survives. But judging by the reactions to his work, Jesus’ exploits never seem to have been mentioned.

        Maximus of Tyre (c. 2nd century) was a Greek philosophical lecturer who drew upon a wide range of philosophies and mysticism. In fact, it was Maximus who turned the early Christian theologians on to Platonism. But he has nothing to say about Jesus’ teachings.

        Athenaeus of Naucratis (c. 200) A Greek writer living in Egypt, Athenaeus wrote the monumental 15-volume work Deipnosophistae, “Philosophers at Dinner,” which records a series of seemingly endless, meandering conversations that range over most every conceivable subject, with countless digressions usually starting from some dinner-related issue (food or music or linguistics), but running off to encompass other things (like luxury, humor and pornography). It is rather odd that in all these conversations, Christians or Christianity never once came up. This may be because Christianity was a small movement not on anyone’s radar at the time – except this is almost 200 years after Christianity began and Egypt was supposedly one of the early centers of the faith. One of Paul’s rivals is Apollos, a popular Egyptian preacher (Acts 18:24-28), and Christian tradition claimed that Egypt had a line of bishops starting from the time of Mark.

        Lucius Flavius Philostratus (c.170 – c. 244) Greek-born Roman courtier and writer. He is best known for his biography of Apollonius of Tyana, but he also wrote Lives of the Sophists, a collection of biographical sketches of illustrious men. Like Jesus, Apollonius performs miracles and healings, drives out demons, prophesizes, gains a large following and comes back from the dead. But Jesus himself gets no mention from Philostratus in either book.

        Diogenes Laertius (c. early 3rd century) wrote Lives of the Philosophers, a monumental encyclopedia documenting in detail all the philosophical schools prominent in his day. Luke certainly painted Christianity as a philosophical school, so its failure to get even a brief mention suggests Christianity was still largely unknown even after two centuries.

        Sextus Empiricus (c. 3rd century) wrote a massive collection of books refuting practically every philosophy that existed at the time, in elaborate detail. Just as with Diogenes Laertius’ compendium of philosophy, Christianity never gets a mention.

        There are still more writers who covered a wide variety of subjects that might well have included Jesus or the events described in the Gospels, including Herodes Atticus, Lucius Apuleius, Aulus Gellius, Artemidorus Daldianus, and others. And these are just the writers we know about, yet not ONE of them refers to any historical jesus and/or any of the events described in their book of fairy tales – the bible.

      • Atheism,

        This post presented an argument against Christianity.

        I addressed that argument.

        Your argument, to be rational, must address the argument that I have actually made.

        If you want to start another argument just say so, but that still leaves my arguments against this post clear, clean and not refuted.

      • AtheismDefended says:

        No it most certainly does not because you are obviously confused. The title of this thread pertains to the bible which is used by the Christians. You then proceeded to draw a fallacious and quite silly construct against Atheists who as far as I know oppose Christianity. When I called you out on your nonsense with my extensive data you did exactly what all other theists do – obfuscate and tap dance. No problem. I’ve seen this behavior a million times before. Nice chatting with you. LOL

      • Atheism,

        You did not address my argument since my argument addresses the video and yours addresses your own personal hallucination of what you think Christianity is.

        If the video here addresses the Bible, why are you addressing your own hallucinated version of Christianity?

        Shouldn’t you be defending the claims and thought processes presented by the video?

  2. AtheismDefended says:

    The bible is a great book? Yes, most definitely for being one of the most bulls**t pieces of tripe in the history of mankind. Also, the article states Jesus existed but Moses & David did not? How about including Jesus with the other 2 okay? More and more is surfacing showing the historical Jesus was as fictitious as the mythical Christ was.

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