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Tough Answers to Atheists Debate

Written by: Unknown    Posted on: 03/18/2003

Category: Christian Living

Source: CCN

                        Answers To Tough Questions

Below you will find a public exchange between myself, a Christian, and an atheist, who uses the screen name PHOTO ONE on the PC-Link network. She made some serious charges against Christianity, which I present first.  My responses followed, and I thought this might help you in some way. My responses were taken from a book by McDowell and Stewart, titled: "Answers to Tough Questions".  I hope you find some use for this material. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Subj:  Religion is a myth. From:  Photo One Posted on: PC-Link

Christianity is just an old myth. Jesus never existed.

The Bible was written centuries after the events took place and cannot be relied upon because so many people changed it. There was no concept of recorded history during that time period. Nobody recorded history. It's all fake.

Christians are all united in their belief in Christ, and that's about all they are united in.

Various Christian bishoprics were engaged in a power struggle in which the chief weapons were bribery, forgery, and intrigue, with elaborate fictions and hoaxes written into sacred books and ruthless competition between rival parties for the lucrative position of God's elite.

The "unity" of the early Christian church was acheived by bloodshed, repression and Inquisition.  The church itself was built to make men powerful; it was not the gentle pilgrims spreading the "good word".  It was a very lucrative institution, and it did whatever it had to do, including mass murder, to remain in its state of power.  They sought to control the minds of the populace because therein lay their wealth and power.  .

End of PHOTO ONE'S posting. ----------------------------------------------------------

      ************** MY RESPONSES *****************

There are still many people today, like Photo, who make the claim that Jesus never existed, the He was only a mythical character.

Betrand Russell (one of Photo's favorites) put it this way: "I may say that one is not concerned with the historical question. Historically, it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did, we do not know anything about Him, so I am not concerned with the historical question, which is a very difficult one. I am concerned with Christ as he appears in the Gospels" (Why I am Not a Christian, page 11 note 8).

Those who make such statements are not historians, but are surprisingly ignorant of the facts.

The New Testament contains 27 different documents which were written in the first Century A.D.. These writings contain the story of the life of Jesus and the beginnings of the Christian church from about 4 B.C. until the decade of the A.D. nineties.

The facts were recorded by eyewitnesses, who gave firsthand testimony the what they had seen and heard. Moreoever, the existence of Jesus is recorded by Jewish historian, Falvius Joesphus, who was born in 37 A.D.. He wrote: "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 and many of the Gentiles.... when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had him condemned on the cross... he appeared alive again the third day. (Antiquities XVIII, III)

Although his passage has been contested because of a reference to Christ, the fact of his existence is not in question.

Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 112), a Roman historian, writing about the reign of Nero, refers to Jesus Christ and the existence of Christians in Rome. Tacitus, in his "Annals, XV, 44" and in his "Histories" refers to Christianity and the burning of Jerusalem in 70 A.D..

Roman historian Seutonius (A.D. 120) references Jesus in "Life of Claudius" and in his "Epistles X".

The testimony, both Christian and non-Christian, is more than sufficient to lay rest any idea that Jesus, in fact, never existed. We know more about the life of Jesus than just about any other figure in the ancient world. His birth and death are detailed more than the most ancient figures whose existence is taken for granted by historians.

"Indeed it has been argued--and I think very rightly--that myth theories of the beginnings of Christianity are modern speculative hypotheses motivated by unreasoning prejudice and dislike. 'It would never enter anyone's head,' says Mereshovsky, 'to ask whether Jesus had lived, unless before asking the question the mind had been darkened by the wish that he had not lived.'" (Roderick Dunklerly, Beyond Gospels).

There seems to be some kind of general consensus among Atheists that the New Testament documents were written many years after the events took place and hence do not contain reliable information. However, the fact is that the life of Jesus was written by eyewitnesses or people who recorded firsthand testimony. The writers were all living at the same time these events transpired, and they had personal contact with the events or with people who witnessed the events.

There is strong internal testimony that the Gospels were written at an early date. The book of Acts records missionary activity of the early church and was written as a sequel by the same person who wrote the Gospel according the Luke. The Book of Acts ends with the Apostle Paul being alive in Rome, his death not being recorded.

This clearly shows that it was written before he died, since other major events in his life had been recorded. Since Paul was put to death by Neronian persecution in the year 64 AD, it is clear that the Book of Acts was composed before this time. If the Book of Acts was written before 64 AD then the Gospel of Luke, to which Acts was a sequel, had to have been composed some time before that, probably in the late fifties. This would make the composition of Luke at the latest within 30 years of the events. Since Matthew was written before Luke,' it is clear that the first Gospels were composed well within the times of the events.

This evidence led the liberal scholar John A.T. Robinson to re-date the new Testament documents much earlier than most modern liberal scholars would have us believe. Robinson argued in his book, "Re-Dating the New Testament" that the entire New Testament could have been completed before the year AD 70.

These facts also led W.F. Albright, the great Biblical archaelogist to comment: "We can already emphatically say that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after AD 80, two full generations before the date between 130-150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today."

There is a strong possiblity that the Apostle John's banishment to Patmos under Domitan was as late as AD 95-96 in Revelation I. There is strong tradition John wrote Revelations there at that time. This is testified by Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius and Irenaeus (New Testament Survey, Gromacki).

The evidence points out that (1) the documents were not written long after the events but within close proximity to them, and (2) they were written by people during the period who were acquainted with the facts or were eyewitnesses to them. The inescapable conclusion is that the New Testament picture of Christ can be trusted.

From "The Bible and Archaeology" we see the following: "The interval between the dates of original composition of the New Testament and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as the were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established." This was written by Sir Frederick Kenyon, former director and principal librarian of the British Museum, an expert and authority on ancient manuscripts and their authority.

This ends my response.  I hope this helps you resolve any doubts which you may have about the Bible's authenticity. You may know someone who doesn't put much trust in the Bible... you may want to share some or all of this information with them as you witness to the truth.

God Bless you. Rob

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