Most atheists with whom I have interacted wisely stick to the argument that religion and faith are silly notions after centuries of increasing scientific discovery, and that Jesus, while a fine guy, couldn’t be the son of a God that doesn’t exist.
I understand this belief system. I really do. I even respect it, as much as I would respect any non-Christian religious belief system with which I did not agree.
But some poor fools in subsets of the atheist camp insist on doing something more: Arguing that Jesus never existed.
The thing is, how many ancient people in the historical record—religious, philosophical or otherwise—can we really prove existed? Siddartha Buddha? Moses? Sun Tzu? Aristotle?
We accept the existence of certain people based on a faith in the historical record. Either they wrote things themselves, people wrote about them, or both.
The New Testament documents, the gospels and the letters both, are among the most enduring and complete historical records around. I’m not saying that they can be proven to be 100% accurate in the details, but many surviving historical documents about famous figures we know to have existed (like Alexander the Great) were written centuries after they died. Between fragments of multiple copies of the New Testament documents and complete documents from within mere decades of Jesus’ life and death, we have sufficient proof—combined with mentions of him by Jewish authorites and historians of the time—to make the case that he existed.
Argue all you want about the divinity or the details, but he existed, and he made a splash when he arrived on the scene. A splash with ripples that continue well into today and far into the future.
Yet there are some atheists who continue to go through convoluted arguments about how Jesus was made up, or Jesus was an amalgam of multiple figures at the time. They are intent on proving that he didn’t exist, which is just as fruitless, pointless and stupid as Christians who feel they have to find Jesus’ final resting place and prove that’s where he was buried or trot out the Shroud of Turin as definitely being the burial shroud of the Christ. I’m all for archeology and science. And sometimes, they can bear fruit on filling in gaps and explaining things that once didn’t make sense in the Old and New Testaments.
But proving that you’ve found something of Jesus’ probably is virtualy impossible. Just like proving he didn’t exist.
And I wonder, why the drive to prove he doesn’t exist? If you don’t believe in his divinity, fine. But why try to expunge him from the historical record?
Unless he threatens you. Unless on some level, you are afraid he might exist as savior and Lord, and your faith that he isn’t divine rests of trying to convince yourself he never lived at all, much less rose from the dead.
Mind you, I’m not talking about atheists in general, whom I can respect even when they irritate the hell out of me. What I mean are those who insist on trying to wipe Jesus out entirely.
Because they remind me too much of the people who try to insist the Holocaust never happened. Sure, we say it’s something you cannot ignore or deny, but look how their efforts gain a tiny bit of traction with every decade that passes, with every survivor of it who dies. One day, decades or centuries in the future, people will be able to easily say, “That couldn’t have happened,” and the Holocaust may one day be relegated to mythology, even though it happened. Or, people may say it was a huge campaign of lies and disinformation, and wasn’t nearly as bad as the record says.
So, unless you’re planning to negate the existences of a lot of other people in ancient history, please give up trying to disprove Jesus’ existence. It’s intellectually dishonest and smacks of a cover-up job.