Saturday, June 13, 2015

'The Onion' NASA conspiracy guy no different from the 'Jesus never existed' people...Goofy

The next time a friend hits you with a conspiracy theory, tell them that they sound as silly as this guy.

Slow-Witted Conspiracy Theorist Convinced Government Behind NASA
Posted by The Onion on Friday, June 12, 2015

Most conspiracy theorists are as goofy as this one presented by the satirists at The Onion. Whether they're the Truthers claiming that 9/11 was an act of the US government, the assassination conspiracists who say that Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone in killing John F. Kennedy, or that small band of ill-informed New Atheists who claim that Jesus Christ never existed, this is how conspiracy theorists sound: Heedless of facts, intellectually challenged, lacking in common sense.

Don't misunderstand. Conspiracies are hatched all the time. But eventually, conspiracies that do exist, are found out, especially big ones involving lots of people. Someone talks. Motives change.

And big conspiracies have an especially short shelf life in our hyper-mediated age. You can get away with being a white woman who claims to be black for a little while, for example, but eventually the digital trail leads to your door.

Conspiracies usually fall apart under the weight of counter-incentives. In other words, a group of people may hatch a conspiracy. But when potential pay-offs or the threat of prison or death come along, the conspiracy falls apart. Someone cracks.

This is why the present assertions from some that Jesus never existed are absurd. It posits a gigantic conspiracy surrounding the Christian message: that God was born into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, that He led a perfect life, that He died on a cross, that He rose from the dead, and that He ascended into heaven, where He lives now. (And that all who repent and believe in Jesus have life with God.)

The New Testament reports that thousands saw Jesus. It also reports that more than 500 people encountered Him after He rose from the dead.

If all of it--Jesus' life, His resurrection, and everything else--is a big conspiracy, it would be one of the world's strangest.


Because none of its "perpetrators" had anything to gain, from spouting such a message if it weren't true.

And they had everything to lose: their lives, whatever property they possessed, their chances for success.

Agnostic New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman does not accept the Lordship of Jesus, nor His divinity.

But he recently wrote an interesting piece making mincemeat of the assertions of some of today's New Atheists that Jesus didn't exist.

Here's a portion of what he wrote in response to these conspiracy theorists on The Huffinton Post:
With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) -- sources that originated in Jesus' native tongue Aramaic and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life (before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves). Historical sources like that are pretty astounding for an ancient figure of any kind. Moreover, we have relatively extensive writings from one first-century author, Paul, who acquired his information within a couple of years of Jesus' life and who actually knew, first hand, Jesus' closest disciple Peter and his own brother James. If Jesus did not exist, you would think his brother would know it.  
Moreover, the claim that Jesus was simply made up falters on every ground. The alleged parallels between Jesus and the "pagan" savior-gods in most instances reside in the modern imagination: We do not have accounts of others who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and then were raised from the dead (despite what the sensationalists claim ad nauseum in their propagandized versions).  
Moreover, aspects of the Jesus story simply would not have been invented by anyone wanting to make up a new Savior. The earliest followers of Jesus declared that he was a crucified messiah. But prior to Christianity, there were no Jews at all, of any kind whatsoever, who thought that there would be a future crucified messiah. The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who overthrew the enemy. Anyone who wanted to make up a messiah would make him like that. Why did the Christians not do so? 
Because they believed specifically that Jesus was the Messiah. And they knew full well that he was crucified. The Christians did not invent Jesus. They invented the idea that the messiah had to be crucified. [Here, I disagree with Ehrman. While Jewish popular culture didn't accept the idea of a crucified Messiah, I believe that such a Messiah is anticipated in the Old Testament.]
One may well choose to resonate with the concerns of our modern and post-modern cultural despisers of established religion (or not). But surely the best way to promote any such agenda is not to deny what virtually every sane historian on the planet -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, agnostic, atheist, what have you -- has come to conclude based on a range of compelling historical evidence.  
Whether we like it or not, Jesus certainly existed.
The theory that the assertion of Jesus' existence is all the result of some elaborate conspiracy, is no different from all the other silly conspiracy theories that people use to deny reality. And like many such conspiracy theories, deeply destructive and ignorant.

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