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The historical Jesus-Why care?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on January 21, 2009

There is a lot of time and effort spent by people trying to find out if a man named Jesus actually existed or not. The search for the historical Jesus is resurrected time after time. But why care? Does this missing piece of evidence matter? Why should we as skeptics care if Jesus really existed or not?

I suppose the answer is that we don’t, we shouldn’t. Jesus’ existence has nothing to say about his supposed miracles. We know John Edward exists, I can pretty much guarantee that, but that does not have anything to say about his supposed psychic abilities. That much ought to be clear to anyone, it’s simple, straight logic. But then why are people so obsessed with the quest of the historical Jesus?

I think at the heart of this lies a logical fallacy. At least based on what I have observed, I think that the religious folks are more obsessed with this issue than the non-religious. After all they are the ones trying to prove something. I think there is a thought in their head, albeit I do allow for the possibility that in many cases this may be unconscious, that if they prove that a man named Jesus actually lived, preached and died on the cross, that would lend more credibility to the Bible as a historical book, thus lending more credibility to everything the bible says, including the miracles and the whole God stuff.

I suspect they think that proving that Jesus existed will make his described miracles more true, than if he didn’t. In a certain sense that is true. He would have to have existed in order to have performed these so-called miracles. But nevertheless, just because a man existed does not, on its own, increase the likelihood of him having walked on water. Furthermore, when we as skeptics analyze the so-called miracles, we’re already assuming, for the sake of the argument, that that human being existed. We’re not even worrying about that, because as I said, if we did not assume that, there would be no conversation to be had. So we’re already giving the benefit of the doubt to the believer. You say there was a man called Jesus who lived 2,000 years ago. Fine, I’ll accept that claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that claim alone is not so extraordinary. The miracle claims on the other hand are quite amazing, so for those we require much more evidence than a book.

So to answer my original question, we shouldn’t care. I don’t care, it makes no difference one way or another if Jesus turns out to have actually existed or not. It’s inconsequential to the issue at hand, and there’s nothing to be gained in this regard by that piece of information.

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One Response

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  1. Universal Heretic said, on March 12, 2009 at 6:19 PM

    I lean toward the Jesus myth, myself. But I would never use it in any sort of a debate or discussion about religion. It leads to too much confusion and is too prone to Christians making stuff up. It is fun, though.


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