Gary responds

I did a post last week about Gary, Bart Ehrman and Jesus.  I learned about Gary from Ruth .  When Gary decided to stop visiting Atheist / De-convertee’s websites, I told Ruth, “I don’t think we have heard the last of Gary and I don’t think he will stay away from the Blogs he’s been visiting. IMHO”

How prophetic was that !  🙂   Not hardly.  When someone has been exposed to the truth and admits that they don’t want to hear anymore .  They actually want to hear more.  DagoodS and Bruce must receive 99% of the credit for challenging Gary to begin with. And, my hat is off to Gary for coming by and commenting.  Though he said he wouldn’t debate here he did invite me to his blog if I wanted to challenge him.  I will be most happy to do so.  🙂

Gary’s comment to me:

Hey “KC”,

I made a public pledge a few days ago not to visit the websites of atheists, and here I am posting on yours! I’ve seen a couple of URL referrals on my blog from yours, so curiosity got the best of me.

Just so you aware I have read three of Ehrman’s books: Misquoting Jesus, Jesus Interrupted, and Did Jesus Exist. After reading the first two books I abandoned my fundamentalist Christian belief regarding the inerrancy of the Bible…and almost abandoned my Christian Faith altogether. We fundamentalists are like that. It is either all true… and I’m going to beat you over the head until you believe it too…or it is all a bunch of bullshit, and I’m going to toss it lock, stock, and barrel out the window!

Actually Ehrman’s third book helped to save my orthodox Christian faith. He makes a very good case for the historicity of Jesus and of Paul. Ehrman doesn’t believe that Paul really saw a resurrected dead guy, but Ehrman believes that Paul is a credible source regarding Jesus of Nazareth and that he was not a liar or fabricator of tall tales.

So how did Ehrman help me to keep my faith? This is what I learned from “Did Jesus Exist”:

1. Jesus did exist in the time and place that Christians say he did.
2. He was crucified by the Romans.
3. Paul says that the “saw” this resurrected dead man. No mention of having a dream or vision.
4. Paul says that he met and stayed for 15 days with two other persons who saw the same resurrected dead man, Peter, Jesus’ chief disciple, and James, his brother.
5. There was no such concept of a pacifist Messiah who would die and be resurrected in Jewish thinking. No Jew had ever heard of such a thing. Someone who claimed to be the messiah but was killed by the enemies of the Jews was automatically written off as a fraud. Previous messiah pretenders had been killed and written off. Why wasn’t Jesus written off?
6. Why would, at a minimum, several thousand Jews in Palestine and around the known world believe that a pacifist peasant from Galilee, crucified and killed by the hated Romans, was the Jewish messiah, unless…something really dramatic happened to convince them that he was no longer dead, and would one day be the Ruler of the Earth as OT prophecies said?
7. Pacifism and loving your enemy did not exist in the Greco-Roman world. Where did this illiterate peasant get such a concept? There is zero record of anyone else in history, prior to Jesus, preaching these concepts. A rich, upper class Roman preaching pacifism and peace makes sense, but a Jew under the boot of Rome? That makes no sense at all…unless he really was Divine.

So that is why I still believe.

I’m not interested in debating these points here. But you are always welcome to come to my blog and challenge me.

Take care!

Gary

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20 thoughts on “Gary responds

  1. It’s interesting to see Christians leaping onto Ehrman, and equally perplexing. Is there a mass-jettisoning of the “divine Jesus” character going on inside the the Christian mind?

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  2. “Pacifism and loving your enemy did not exist in the Greco-Roman world. Where did this illiterate peasant get such a concept?”

    Maybe he should look into interhemispheric intrusion, which can precipitate an event called ‘synaptic dropout’ or burn out. This is when synapses (connections between nerve cells) actually drop out of service after excess input. The result? Bliss, ecstasy, unconditional love, excessively moralistic, etc.

    Jesus (if he existed) was/is not unique to this brain phenomena. Not by a long shot. My guess is that some dude spent to much time alone in the desert.

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  3. Even Jesus’ family thought he was a little off his rocker . 🙂

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    • Ken, just thought you should know that when you don’t reply directly to me, I don’t get notification. So not sure if your comment was directed at me or just a general comment to all. This has happened a couple of times on your blog while we were in dialog. The only reason I got notification was because I checked “notify me of follow-up comments via email.” Not everyone does that. So if you haven’t gotten replies back in the past, now you know why. 😉

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      • Sorry about that , Victoria. I did mean to reply to you but I don’t always pay attention to which “reply button” I hit. My Bad.

        I will pay better attention in the future. 🙂 I’m still learning about the blogosphere 🙂

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  4. I and DagoodS are having a VERY interesting discussion on my blog regarding the issue of: Was any Jew expecting a suffering/dead Messiah. Check it out.

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  5. Here is an excerpt:

    Ehrman is making this argument to prove that Jesus really did exist; that Jesus of Nazareth is not a myth. However, I believe that Ehrman’s argument can also be used to support the Christian contention that Jesus of Nazareth arose from the dead.

    If no Jew was expecting an executed/dead messiah, then what Jew would expect an executed/dead…then…alive-again/ascended-into-heaven messiah?

    The tale of Jesus has just gone from completely unbelievable to any Jew, to completely IMPOSSIBLE to any human being!

    Why would ANY first century Jew believe the story of Jesus the Messiah…unless he/she saw, or someone that they knew and trusted saw,…a walking, talking corpse!

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  6. Well, I tried to “rescue” you, my atheist friends…but it seems I have failed.

    I made this comment to a Southern Baptist pastor on my blog who believes that the Gospels are enough evidence for atheists to believe:

    Just to be clear, Dagood, Bruce, Ruth and others of my atheist friends DO believe in the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. And Dagood seems to believe that Isaiah fifty-three IS speaking about a suffering Messiah.

    What they are not convinced of is the supernatural event of a Resurrection. I thought I had something with Ehrman’s statement that there is “not one shred of evidence that any first century Jew, prior to Christianity, would have believed in a suffering messiah”. If Ehrman is wrong, then my argument that the conversion of first century Jews to Christianity is good evidence for the Resurrection, goes down the toilet.

    Once again we are left with the testimony of Saul of Tarsus and the accounts in the Gospels. That evidence is going to have to be enough. It is for me, but not for them.

    There are some of my atheist friends who I think are happy to be ex-believers: they feel liberated, especially the ex-fundamentalists. But in others, especially Dagood, and maybe Ruth, I detect “resignation”: Someone gave them evidence that destroyed the foundation of their belief system—the inerrant Bible—and they are diligently searching every rock and cranny for any evidence to re-justify their faith….but time after time they come up empty.

    I thought I had found “it” for them. But if they don’t believe Ehrman on this, it was all false hope. I wish Ehrman himself would prove to them he is right on this one.

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    • Gary,

      You speak of Saul of Taurus and the Gospels. Well, Moses and Abraham are myths. We’ve known this for several decades now. So looks like Jesus and your buddy Paul have some explaining to do since they mentioned them. I can’t imagine someone needing to believe so badly that they will use such sketchy information (scriptures have been tampered) put together by very sketchy church fathers who used methodology such as deciding to just pick 4 canon gospels with no original manuscripts because “there were 4 corners of the earth.”

      My late husband had non-convulsive temporal lobe epilepsy also known as complex partial seizures (CPS) which developed about three or four years after a TBI (Traumatic brain injuries occur every 15 seconds in America). The doctors said he’d recover. Instead he had a sudden religious conversion. He had religious delusions and hallucination. You know, much like Paul did. Saw Jesus, heard Jesus, thought he was called to share the “good news”. Sudden religious conversion is a clinical term, as you should know, since you are a physician. Quoted in a medical paper one such experience from someone who had a sudden religious experience.

      “The religiosity of the epileptic has been recognized since the time of Esquirol [12] and Morel [35]. These, and later French workers (including [34]), have sought to explain the epileptics religiosity as being the result of his disability, social isolation and his enhanced need for the consolation of religion. A specific conversion experience after a fit was reported by Howden [22]. The patient believed that he was in Heaven. He would appear to have been depersonalized, as it took three days for his body to be reunited with his soul. He maintained that God had sent it to him as a means of conversion,
      that he was now a new man, and had never before known what true peace was. [Classics in Epilepsy and Behavior: 1970 Sudden religious conversions in temporal lobe epilepsy. Kenneth Dewhurst a and A.W. Beard Research Psychiatrist, Littlemore Hospital, Oxford, UK —Physician in Psychological Medicine, The Middlesex Hospital, W.1, UK]

      and this:

      “Because of these affective, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms, patients with CPS are frequently misdiagnosed. Seizures can include gustatory and olfactory hallucinations; micropsia or macropsia; and intense delusions involving bodily harm, déjà vu, or “out-of-body” experiences. CPS have also been associated with certain personality features including moral rigidity, hyperreligiousity, hypergraphia, and viscosity (or “stickiness,” e.g., difficulty ending conversations).” [A Complex Presentation of Complex Partial Seizures Joshua L. Roffman, M.D. and Theodore A. Stern, M.D. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry]

      Paul and my late husband had a lot in common. The early Greeks called epilepsy “the sacred disease.” See Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry “St Paul and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1032067/

      You are one trusting dude, especially since CPS/TLE is a very common neurological disorder. Approximately 200,000 people in America alone are diagnosed with epilepsy. Half of those will have CPS. That’s just one neurological disorder. Quote:

      “Hyperreligiosity is a major feature of mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, temporal-lobe epilepsy and related disorders, in which the ventromedial dopaminergic systems are highly activated and exaggerated attentional or goal-directed behavior toward extrapersonal space occurs.” [“The role of the extrapersonal brain systems in religious activity.”
      Previc FH. PMID: 16439158 PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

      So Gary, how do you discern, or do you go by your ‘feelings’? Ehrman states that there is no evidence that Jesus was divine. Most likely a dude who had an interhemispheric intrusion or CPS/TLE or some other neurological disorder. Or…

      Quote: Megalomania is a psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, omnipotence, and by inflated self-esteem.”

      With so many variables to consider, and I’ve only scratched the surface, you appear to be relying on your feelings and your burning desire to believe in an afterlife. It’s called death anxiety.

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      • You may very well be right, my friend, and to tell you the truth, I hope that you are right.

        I would happily give up heaven and seeing my loved ones again if it meant that no one else has to go to hell. Hell is an absolutely horrific concept. In my opinion, no one deserves to be burned alive day, after day, after day, without there ever being an end.

        I hope you are right: I hope that when we all die, the only thing that will happen to us is that our bodies will decay and provide nutrients for new life from the earth. And that’s it. However, if you atheists are wrong, and I buy into your story, I will suffer horrific torment, possibly being burned alive, in a black hole, in the center of the earth, forever and ever.

        Maybe some of you ex-Christians have been able to get that fear out of your heads. I can’t.

        I’m not going to take the chance of YOU being wrong. No, I will not deconvert from Christianity.

        I will obey God. Whether I believe in Him or not is irrelevant in Lutheran theology. I have been baptized. I am a child of God. As long as I do not reject God, or willfully disobey him, I will attain eternal life. The consequences of not obeying are too horrific for me to contemplate.

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        • Well Gary, hell means eternal death, not burning torture for ever and ever, although many have been indoctrinated to believer otherwise. But I can understand your trepidations. Many people live in torment that their loved ones will parish in a burning hell or they themselves. There is no peace when you are a Christian. Plus, you don’t really love god — you are simply wanting to save your hide.

          Also, I cannot, in good conscience, serve such a god who would send people to hell when they had absolutely no voice or say in coming into this world.

          But to each his/her own. Like I mentioned in another post to you — Ruth’s post — teaching children about hell is child abuse. If I’m wrong, and you’re right — I am more likely to make it to heaven than you are.

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    • I wrote: “Approximately 200,000 people in America alone are diagnosed with epilepsy.”

      That’s annually.

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  7. Sorry I’ve been away from my computer all day. What a nice exchange between Gary and Victoria. Wow Victoria ! You provided a lot of information I’m going to have to take time and digest !

    Gary, again I find it interesting you are putting all of your marbles in the Bart Ehrman Bag , an acknowledged Agnostic. I suggested on your site that if you really want an alternative view from a world renown and well respected scholar, read Geza Vermes’ book Jesus the Jew.

    I hope everyone has a great weekend !

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    • Ken. I didn’t post the actual links to the medical data because it would have gone to moderation if you have it set to default, and i figured you were away from your computer. But I have all the links and more on a post I did on my NRP blog. I have two blogs. So I will leave the link to the post in case you or Gary want to look further into the data I posted.

      http://neuroresearchproject.com/2013/06/21/preying-in-the-name-of-god/

      I hope everyone has a great weekend, as well. 🙂

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      • I almost forgot, Happy Mothers Day too ! Your profile says you have a close relationship with your daughter. I think that’s great ! I divorced when my 2 daughters were young but I was able to keep a special relationship with them as well. They are the apples of my eye ! 🙂

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  8. Pingback: How I Overcame Fear Using Mental Training Techniques | Victoria N℮ür☼N☮☂℮ṧ

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