Every now and then I’ll find someone’s top 10 or top 20 list of reasons to take some absurd proposition seriously and discredit them. Usually I don’t go looking, they just fall in my lap, as this one did, and the reasons are every bit as ridiculous as most of the rest I’ve taken a look at. This one came up with an infographic, they must be special. Well, short-bus special anyhow. I’ve added it to the right, please click for a full-sized image but it doesn’t make any more sense visually than it does in text, I assure you.
Therefore, let’s jump into “15 Reasons Intelligent People Believe in Jesus“.
1. Other Smart People Do. Among the worlds smartest and most influential people are those who believe in Jesus. Faith is no barrier for intelligence, as illustrated by the enormous list of way-too-smart people that believed in Jesus. 65.4% of Nobel prize winners between the years of 1900-2000 identified themselves as Christian. From rocket scientists to biochemists, believers have proven themselves to be just as intelligent as the rest.
Hey, let’s jump in with a logical fallacy, the Argument from Authority! Of course, they have to go back to the 1900s when science hadn’t progressed nearly as far, to find a decent list of believers for their list. Usually they go back to the 1600s or so, when religious adherence was the norm and people believed because the church took a dim view of anyone who didn’t toe their theological line. The fact is that in the modern world, more than 93% of the National Academy of Sciences are atheists and the religious are continuously losing ground in most of the serious sciences. This will, of course, be entirely ignored by the zealots.
2. Jesus Likes Science. Zoology was the first occupation. (see Genesis) The formation and incubation of modern science began with believers in Jesus in the mid 1500s. The Christian passion for truth drove the early scientists, who were mostly theologians, to seek natural knowledge. Jesus is not scared of truth, and if Jesus is true then science will eventually point to him.
This is complete nonsense, it assumes that the Bible is factually true without demonstrating anything of the sort. Because the whole of the creation story is factually incorrect, the idea that zoology is the first occupation (who was paying Adam for naming all of the animals anyhow?) is just laughably absurd. As I pointed out above, they have to go diving back into antiquity to have any hope of finding people who didn’t know about modern science, which has now answered most of the questions that kept older times mired in superstition.
3. His Life Was Predicted. There were 353 precise predictions documented about the coming arrival and life of Jesus. Most were not clearly understood until after Jesus’ life. It was clear enough, however, that the Jewish people had been expecting his arrival for centuries.
None of which are actually demonstrable. That’s the thing when you combine wishful thinking with an amazingly vague book that can be manipulated into meaning virtually anything. I’m sure we could come up with all kinds of predictions for alien visitation and multiple modern disasters, just like people have done with the writings of Nostradamus. Oh wait, people actually have done that with the Bible, haven’t they? Interestingly enough, they say the Jews have been waiting for the arrival of Jesus for centuries. Too bad they don’t consider Jesus to be the Messiah, huh?
4. The Disciples Were Convinced. The disciples believed that Jesus had risen from the dead, along with performing about a zillion other miracles. Scholars agree that the disciples found the tomb empty on the third day. Either they were all crazy, all deceived, or all right. One thing is for sure, they were convinced.
There’s no reason to think that the disciples ever existed, we have no independent historical verification of any of them, any more than we have independent historical verification of Jesus himself. We only have the Bible, which is a book of religious mythology. No credible scholars agree that the disciples, which haven’t been shown to exist, found any empty tombs, which also hasn’t been shown to exist. There is no evidence of anything of the sort.
5. The Eye Witnesses Were Willing To Die. If the eyewitnesses had made the story up, they would not have sacrificed their lives to prove that the story wasn’t fiction. Eleven of the 12 disciples were murdered in ridiculously brutal ways for their faith. All they would have had to do was shut up about it, but instead they were hanged, beheaded, boiled in oil, stabbed, stoned, crucified, beaten to death, to prove the story was true. Now that’s tenacity.
Again, they’re using a book of fiction to prove that fictional people died to prove the story in the book of fiction isn’t fictional. Even if it had been proven that these people ever lived and that they died in the ways described in the Bible, that isn’t proof that their claims were true. We have records of lots of people dying for their faith, we have modern accounts of Buddhist monks immolating themselves for what they believe. Does that prove that Buddhist beliefs are factually true? Of course not.
6. Historical Method Is a Trusted Process. Not only were the disciples convinced, but virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most Biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted.
Actually, no they don’t. Those who study the facts and not observe the faith are not so sure that Jesus ever existed, especially the Jesus as described in the Bible. There are many who assume that some real person must be at the center of the Jesus myth, but the born-of-a-virgin, miracle-performing, raising-from-the-dead Jesus described in the Bible? Nobody outside of religious believers buy into that load of nonsense.
7. You’re betting your Life, you might as well play the odds. All humans are betting their lives on a wager, that God does or does not exist. The consequences of not believing if it turns out to be true, are far greater than if one believes and it turns out to be false. Therefore a rational person should live as if God exists and seek to believe in him. Mathematically speaking, it’s the safest bet.
Oh good, let’s play Pascal’s Wager, another fallacious position. Complete and total refutations of this fallacy are available pretty much everywhere, it’s hard to believe that anyone but the utterly stupid or the willfully ignorant still use it today. In short, it assumes that there are only two positions, that the Christian God is real, or that no gods are real. It also assumes that the Christian God is so completely idiotic as to not know that someone is playing the odds and pretending to believe because it bears the best potential outcome. If there are any other gods out there, then blindly believing in the Christian version is distinctly dangerous, when it turns out that Krishna is the one true god, those Christians are in deep doo-doo.
8. He can’t just be a good moral teacher. He is either a crazy man, a compulsive liar, or he’s Divine. His teachings did not leave the option “Only a great teacher” open to us. If he’s a liar or a lunatic, his moral teaching is not to be trusted. However, his moral teaching has proven itself, so we are left with one option. Logically he must be Lord.
Let’s keep the stupidity rolling with C.S. Lewis’ “Lunatic, Liar or Lord” fallacy. Again, they assume that there are only a limited number of possibilities, then they create weak excuses to throw out two of those possibilities and proclaim their favored answer to be true. Of course, there are more reasons than just the three, the most logical being “Legend”. There’s no reason to think the Biblical Jesus ever existed.
9. It’s Effectiveness. The story of Jesus has proven to be unstoppable, as demonstrated by its growth throughout the world, constant cultural relevance, and intense personal acceptance. It overtook the Roman empire, and today 2.1 billion people, or about a third of the world identify themselves as Christians.
It wasn’t effectiveness that led to Christian supremacy, but force. By converting Constantine, he declared it to be the official religion of Rome. For more than a thousand years, the Catholic Church spread its religion via the sword, through Crusades and pogroms to wipe out and/or forcibly convert the pagan masses. It didn’t spread because it had a superior message but because it’s followers had superior weaponry.
10. Mythology Takes Time. Mythology takes time to develop. Jesus could not have gone from historical figure to folklore in the amount of time between his death, and the first writings of the Gospels. It would have been immediately rejected. Imagine someone trying to honestly claim that George Washington was a Ghost Hunter… Although it might make a fun Quentin Tarantino film!
In fact, Jesus remained relatively unknown for a significant amount of time after his supposed death. The early Christian church was far smaller than most Christians want to believe, we have examples of modern religions reaching much farther, having many more members and much more influence than early Christianity did in a fraction of the time. Look at Mormonism or Scientology today, both of which claim millions of followers within a few short years of their creation.
11. He was accepted by his peers. The most scrutinizing audience would be the contemporaneous observers of Jesus’ life. However, his story was accepted as truth, by a large portion of that contemporaneous audience. Not only did a huge number of eye witnesses believe he was Divine but the story is not refuted by ancient sources.
We have no independent eyewitness accounts at all from antiquity, there doesn’t exist a single demonstrable eyewitness account of Jesus whatsoever. This is, as with many of these absurd claims, just a bald assertion without a shred of objective evidence to back it up.
12. He provided an adequate cosmology. “Why are we here,” you might ask. The teachings of Jesus provide an adequate explanation for the purpose for the existence of mankind and the universe. Theoretical Particle physicists are still trying to develop the theory of everything, but billions of people around the world have found Jesus’ explanation adequate.
There is quite a difference between homespun philosophical masturbation and legitimate science, yet these people seem not to comprehend that simple fact. The teachings of Jesus provide an emotionally comforting answer for people who are not particularly interested in critically evaluating their beliefs. It’s all faith, no fact.
13. Faith in Jesus is good medicine. The belief in a loving benevolent Savior is a favorable perception that has measurable psychological, and emotional benefits regardless of his actual existence.
As are beliefs in other gods, having close friends and family and being part of a supportive community. Having a pet also has measurable psychological and emotional benefits. Give me a cat or dog any day.
14. His moral teaching works. In societies where Jesus’ teaching are applied properly they have been proven to enhance human rights, improve education, elicit gender equality, increase the value placed on children, and break down class inequality.
All of which only proves the vague nature of the Bible which can be twisted and contorted to support virtually any position, depending on which passages you pay attention to and which ones you ignore. However, the Bible is a host of horrors, supporting slavery, rape, murder, religious intolerance and social disorder. Picking and choosing which parts you like and pretending the rest doesn’t exist is absurd.
15. He performed Miracles to Back his Claims. The claims he made about himself were so audacious, he would have had to prove his authority by supernatural means. Luckily he did. Even those who were against him recognized that there was something supernatural going on. His opponents described him as a miracle worker, or a sorcerer. you can bet if there was any way for them to claim that jesus did not perform miracles, his opponents would have. It was too obvious. It was too well known. The populace was too well aware of his miraculous actions for his opponents to deny it. Multiple eye witnesses accounts verify that he performed supernatural acts, exercised demons, and rose from the dead.
Nope, no independent accounts of any of these things exist, there’s no better reason to believe that Jesus performed any miracles than there is to believe that Mohammed rode off into the sky atop a flying horse. Harry Potter was as much a wizard because there are books written about him. We find the religiously gullible believing things for which they get emotional validation without having any critical evaluation of the work in question.
So that’s 15 completely failed reasons why anyone should believe in Jesus. It isn’t even intelligent people, if they do believe these things, they’re people who believe despite their intelligence. There is no evidence for any of the claims, there is no logically laid-out reasoning to support them, it’s all blind faith and wishful thinking and only an idiot is going to fall for that, even if they are intelligent in other areas of their life. Infographic or no, this list is laughable in the extreme.