Alright so I might as well lay out what’s been going on. This individual I have been conversing with on Reddit has been very friendly and willing to discuss his views. He raises questions or responses to questions very well and I am still not fully informed on everything.
I apologize to those if I seem like spamming but I’m really just wanting help and if you enjoy debating / talking with people then I’d appreciate you commenting:
I’ll try to keep my answers short. If you want me to go into details on anything specific, let me know.
- How could orthodox Jews follow a man who claimed to be God?
First, people convert between religions all the time. People join cults all the time. Why would a Muslim, who doesn’t believe God can be a man, convert to Christianity? Why would someone raised in a Christian household abandon their life in America, fly to India, and join a Hindu cult?
Second, even according to the gospels it wasn’t the most educated orthodox Jews who followed Jesus. The religious leaders, those who had spent the most time and dedicated most of their lives to their religion rejected Jesus. It was the peasants, fishermen and prostitutes, who famously followed him.
If Jesus did not resurrect, how did Christianty spread?
If God did not speak to Muhammad in a cave, how could Islam spread? If an angel did not reveal the golden plates to Joseph Smith, how could Mormonism have spread? The simple answer is that people are credulous and willing to believe things, even extreme, supernatural claims, that aren’t always true.
Why would his followers die for him knowing the resurrection was fake?
First, what do we actually know about the life and death of the earliest Christians? How do we know they died for their beliefs, and how do we know that they were in a position to know if it were fake or not? All it takes for someone to die for a lie is for that person to be convinced it’s true. Why were Mormons willing to face persecution? Why was Joseph Smith willing to be beaten, tarred and feathered, ran out of town, and eventually arrested and gunned down by a mob of people, if he didn’t actually believe what he preached? Why would the people who confessed to witnessing the golden plates not recant their testimonies when faced death and persecution?
Second, most of the earliest reports of Christian persecution are political. For example, Nero blamed the Christians on a fire that damaged a large portion of Rome. They weren’t being persecuted for their beliefs, but because they were a political scapegoat. A minority that didn’t have the power to fight back.
At best it would have only been a small handful who actually experienced the risen Jesus. Only a small handful who could have been in a position to know whether Jesus had truly been raised or not. At most the bible claims that just a little over 500 people saw Jesus alive again. Every other Christian who may have been martyred for their faith would be converts who believed what they were told, not what they witnessed themselves.
An atheist YouTuber, Paulogia, does a good job talking about this topic in a couple of his videos:
- Why would someone make up a religion like Christianity?
Why does anyone make up any religion?
And when you’re talking about a group of peasants living under the boot of a military occupation, looked down upon by the religious leaders of their community, a new religion that says “blessed are the poor” and “woe to the rich” would be a very attractive belief system. Christianity may not offer a person much material wealth and power here on earth, but it promises mansions, streets of gold, and an end to all suffering in the afterlife. No matter how miserable you are here on earth, you’ve got heaven to look forward to…that’s a belief that would easily appeal to the lowest, poorest, and weakest members of society.