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The following writer was invited to comment on my site from his theist site.

Two facts:
1) It does not take long for myth to develop.
2) Some people will sacrifice a great deal to preserve a myth, even their lives.

These two points are a given. Now the issue is, what is point 3. Is it rational, merely on the basis of 1 and 2, to conclude that the Christian "story" must be a myth. You must have some objective criteria for determining fact from myth.

I could say, for example: 1) There are stupid people in this world. 2) Some stupid people send e-mail. 3) Ed sends e-mail, therefore he must be stupid.

This is irrational. I need objective criteria for determining who is stupid and who is not stupid or else it is merely my subjective opinion.

The same is true for determining fact from myth. What is the criteria you use? Is the account of Jesus, his death and ressurection, fact or myth? What about the story of the death of Socrates? Did he really drink the poison hemlock? What about Christopher Columbus? Did he really sail the ocean blue in 1492? What about Paul Revere? When you hear the "midnight ride of Paul Revere", do you believe it? Do you have objective criteria for accepting some elements of history while rejecting others as myth? -OR- is this simply Ed's subjectivity? -OR- Ed's anti-faith?

My initial thought is I reject all forms of spirituality based on what I consider the impossibility of Spirits (in individuals) and superspirits (god, godhead, supreme spiritual enlightenment; these are things that determine the "next step" of the individual's spirit: heaven, hell, abraham's bosom, recycling). Historicity is beside the point. An unfortunate use of words, I wanted to communicate the idea that proving existence of heros does not prove their heroic deeds

Italicized portions were writen after the fact.

You write: "based on what I consider..."

While you accuse me of claiming objectivity for what is merely subjective faith- how is it you are doing any different?

Historicity is vital. You cannot deal with a cosmological assessment of existence (spirits, etc.) apart from historicity.

All assessments of historicity or myth which involve no first person eye-witness testimony are based on a verdict derived from evidence. Another writer, who sent a carbon copy of his e-mail to the above writer, says this:

We can say Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or who he says he is. You are either going to hell or heaven.

This assumes the existence of souls, an existence taken for granted by all spiritual disciplines. The central tenets of spirituality should be justified BEFORE justification of particular spiritual systems, in your case: Christianity.

This e-mail was sent to both writers. Only one responded, the second. The first seems to think his argument was enough. The response I received was a general plea to convert to Christianity. "How can you say Jesus wasn't real" I was asked.My response follows:

I understand and appreciate your enthusiasm. I would not take it away from you.

As for eyewitnesses, Guatama said he was Buddha, as did others after him. Did these find enlightenment? Some of these opted to be Boddhisatvas and help Buddhists on along the path to true enlightenment. Are these Buddhist saints helping you?

The world is full of religions, all of which have witnesses and tales of changed lives. Why are your's more reliable?

Again, the e-mail was copied to both writers, and again, only one responded.

As far as a myth about Jesus. There is more proof to support that Jesus is God, resurrection, then there is to support the Paul Revere ride.

This e-mail went only to the second writer.

I am not an historian (and do not play one on TV). I will let historians speak for history.

Historian (and Christian) A. N. Sherwin-White, who is a resource for "Case for Christ" author Lee Strobel, writes "...however strong the myth forming tendency, the falsification does not automatically and absolutely prevail..." and "...those who had a passionate interest in the story of Christ, even if their interest was parabolical and didactic rather than historical, would not be led by that very fact to pervert and utterly destroy the historical kernal of their material." Rather than a rousing "yes" to Jesus' historicity, this is a definite "maybe".

Historian and biblical scholar Elaine Pagels, in the introductory material to her translation of the "Gnostic Gospels" asserts that Gnosticism was extant in the first century C.E. and taught that the resurrection was a spiritual, not a physical, event. This means the resurrection was already in doubt a relatively short time after the event was supposed to have happened.

Biblical scholars calling themselves the Jesus Seminar researched and presented a history of the gospel stories that is not orthodox. They've rated the sayings of Jesus and edited them to a core that born-of-the-spirit Christians would cringe at.

Josh McDowell confuses evidence that early Christians considered Jesus the Messiah (i.e. Christ) for evidence that Jesus is Messiah. These are different ideas. The first is supported, the second is not.

Apparently, the historians are not fully convinced or are confused.

No germane response was received from either writer.

I think I have cast reasonable doubt, or supported with reasonable thinking my doubt. I think I have answered the germane question of historicity, evaluation of history, and the germane question of why I doubt spirits. I think I have received no valid response. My resondants have not offered any logical argument, beyond my first respondant's ill-formed syllogisms. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Mail me.