A recent study shows that roughly 40% of adults in England are either unsure if Jesus existed at all or believe he was a mythical or fictional character.
Was Jesus a Real Person that Actually Existed? Let’s Ask Historians
Bart Erhman, a man who is no friend to Christianity, who is known, in fact, for debating Christians and challenging their faith, takes on the issue. Erhman is also a first century scholar and historian.
In a Huffington Post article, titled, “Did Jesus Exist,” Erhman actually seems to compare the irrationality of denying the existence of Jesus to denying the Holocaust. Those are strong words!
In fact, he goes so far as to say that, “virtually every sane historian on the planet,” believes that Jesus existed.
Former Oxford Professor, Robert Van Voorst, agrees, writing,
“the theory of Jesus’ nonexistence is now effectively dead as a historical question.” (Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (Studying the Historical Jesus)
The Most Awkward Interview Known to Man?
In this clip, Erhman takes on a popular atheist, that refuses to be convinced of this fact. He explains well some of the reasons to think Jesus did actually exist.
Not only do we have the letters of Paul written as early as 51 AD (and possibly earlier), which Erhman affirms in the videos despite their Christian source, we have the gospels and evidence from a number of non-christian sources as well. Some count as many as 11 separate relevant non-christian sources, and whatever the exact count, there are definitely non-christian sources from the ancient world that suggest Jesus existed.
…in the world are roughly 40% of England residents either unsure Jesus existed at all (18%), or believe he is a myth or fictional character (22%)? Perhaps it is possible that fundamentalism is partly to blame. But not religious fundamentalism.
Certainly many people are just misinformed, but why are there people out there claiming to be authorities on the topic, and saying that Jesus never existed? Erhman, who, may I remind you, debates Christians on the truth of their faith, says that this anti-religious agenda is exactly behind the pseudo-scholarship that denies the existence of Jesus.
As he writes in the aforementioned Huffington Post Article,
“what better way [for people who are anti-religious] to malign the religious views of the vast majority of religious persons in the western world?”
And in Erhman’s interview with, “The Infidel Guy,” (see YouTube video above) it is hard not observe a sort of close minded fundamentalism present from the interviewer.
Many people are skeptical about the ideas coming from religious fundamentalists on the grounds that they have an agenda. However, to be rational, this skepticism should extend to anti-religious fundamentalists as well. We need to be skeptical when presented information from the militant atheist community. In fact, this misinformation from the anti-religous community is nothing new.
Remember being taught that Columbus discovered that the earth was round?
This myth created by a fiction writer Washington Irving, (the same guy who wrote about, “The Headless Horseman”) and it was reported as if it were a fact by John William Draper in an attempt to make religion look bad (source).
Draper reported that the religious authorities taught that the earth was flat while Columbus dared to defy the religious and proved them wrong. But, it never happened.
Anti-religious fundamentalism is the reason that you were taught that Columbus discovered that the earth was round.
We should remember that we must be especially careful not to just believe everything we hear. There is a form of fundamentalism that is just as filled with misinformation and irrationality as extreme forms religion… but this time it is not coming from a fundamentalist religious community, but from the radical atheist community.