Is It Important If Jesus Existed?
There is not much evidence to support the actual existence of the biblical Jesus. Does it really matter? Which is more important, the message of peace, tolerance, and love or the physical presence of an individual person who may or may not have actually existed?
The message of Jesus, as most would believe, is to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In modern language, treat people fairly, honestly, and without prejudice or intolerance. That’s pretty simple and good advice. True, it’s not always so easy to do, but, acting in our own best interests, it is a good way to live. Cheating people, taking advantage of them, or otherwise hurting someone unnecessarily will ultimately not be good for ourselves. So, whether Jesus actually existed is not nearly as important as following the very good, true advice attributed to him.
Consider this. What if there were no record of say, Thomas Jefferson, until 40 or 50 years after his death? Then, there were suddenly one, then several people writing about things he said or did. Would modern day people doubt his actual existence and believe he was a fable like Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill?
In the case of the historical Jesus, there is not one contemporary record of his existence. The Romans, who otherwise kept very good records, never mentioned a figure who was supposed to be socially, politically, and spiritually so significant. Not until the Gospel of Mark, written from 40 to over 100 years after the supposed crucifixion, is there any mention of Jesus. If we look at the fables of Horus, Attis, and Mithra, we see amazing similarities. Born in low circumstances on December 25, 12 followers, executed at an early age, son of a god, resurrected, the list goes on. It would appear that the early church, in need of a powerful central figure, “borrowed” from earlier myths to create a rallying point for their religion.
As stated by Dr. Bart Ehrman, Professor of religious studies at the University of North Caroline, Chapel Hill, NC said, “In the entire first Christian century, Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman scholar, politician, philosopher, or poet. His name never appears in a single inscription, and it is never found in a single piece of private correspondence. Zero! Zip references!”
Again, what does it matter? The important thing is the message. Be good to each other, help the less fortunate, do not discriminate because someone is not like you. Be like the Good Samaritan and act kindly to all. Are those things more valuable if they were spoken by an actual person or lessons a group of people agreed were important? Being able to assemble these things into a coherent collection of quotations from one person makes them easier to understand and practice. Maybe that’s what the founders of the religion had in mind?
Let’s All Have Faith
If something cannot be proven, there is likely to be a reason for it. If something cannot be seen, it can still be proven. Gravity cannot be seen by of our current technology. But its effects can be seen and measured. Just try dropping an iron weight on your toe. Or do you think that was a spiritual effect by god to punish you for being stupid enough to drop it on your toe?
Gravity can be measured, its actions observed and even predicted. I knew that weight was going to hurt your toe. You probably did too, so you decided not to drop it on your foot.
“But you must have Faith!” OK, I am willing to test that. Are you?
I invite you to the roof of my building. It’s not too high, between 25 and 30 meters (80 to 90 feet). I hand you a large belt and tell you to put it on. As you are buckling it, I explain that it is an anti-gravity belt I have built. I add that it repels gravitational force, just as ordinary magnets repel each other.
Like magnets, the closer it is to the earth, the more powerfully it works. So, when you first step off the roof, you’ll fall fairly fast. But as you near the concrete parking lot below, you’ll slow down until you stop just a short distance above the ground. Way more fun than bungee jumping, right?
Now go on, step off the roof. What? You want to know how it works? The entire secret was revealed to me by a space alien in a series of visions. He also told me that drinking too much alcohol was bad for me. I know that to be true, so this has to be true, too. It’s too complicated for you to understand anyway. You need me to interpret its action for you and for you to have faith.
Yes, I’ve already tried it, now it’s your turn. Off you go now. Take a leap of faith.