My responses are in bold text.
- Is there any physical evidence that Jesus existed? – No. He left no trace. His body “ascended into heaven.” He wrote nothing down. None of his “miracles” left any permanent evidence. There is, literally, nothing. —Just like 99% of the people who lived in the past 2000 years, does that mean that they did not exist?
- Is there any reason to believe that Jesus actually performed these miracles, or that he rose from the dead, or that he ascended into heaven? – There is no more of a reason to believe this than there is to believe that Joseph Smith found the golden plates hidden in New York, or that Mohammed rode on a magical winged horse to heaven. Probably less of a reason, given that the record of Jesus’ life is 2,000 years old, while that of Joseph Smith is less than 200 years old. —Yes. But let’s be clear, if we look at the gospels in the style of literature that they present their information, that of historical biography. in that, they are the earliest, best-attested record of any historical figure: more than Alexander the Great, more than Julius Caesar. Period. I find no one questioning the existence of those men, and extant records of them come hundreds of years after they existed. The gospels come within decades.
- You mean to tell me that I am supposed to believe this story of Jesus, and there is no proof or evidence to go by beyond a few attestations in the New Testament of a Bible that is provably meaningless? – Yes, you are supposed to believe it. You are supposed to take it on “faith.” —Yes, but not in the pejorative sense that the writer is using, but in the sense that the writer of the book of Hebrews (11:1) used it: that because we have something that can verified empirically (primarily the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, at least for those in the 1st century), we can believe the things that can’t be verified empirically (God, His nature, His promises).
But the writer does ask a good question:
“Why is it that human beings can detect fairy tales with complete certainty when those fairy tales come from other faiths, but they cannot detect the fairy tales that underpin their own faith? Why do they believe their chosen fairy tale with unrelenting passion and reject the others as nonsense?”
Let’s first rephrase the question: why is it that humans can detect fairy tales? Obviously because there are certain features of “fairy tales” that are obviously meant not to be taken with any seriousness. They operate within a view that is detectable to the hearer: “Once upon a time”, or “A long time ago in an enchanted land”, etc. When someone hears these statements, they automatically realize that anything that follows them is not meant to be taken seriously. Now, when we expand that out to religious claims, there are a lot of religious texts that begin similarly. And when one takes that into account, the bells go off. Now, having read a few religious texts other than Christian scripture, one automatically detects that many of those texts are meant to be allegorical, and often fall into the category of god(s)-of-the-gap(s) explanation. Now the biblical explanation is logical,
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.(Romans 1:22)”
Then there’s this question:
“Yet, when Christians look at their own religion, they are for some reason blind. Why?”
Then the writer cuts off the opportunity to answer by saying,
“And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that the Christian story is true.”
Well, what grounds does he/she give this? There is evidence outside of the Bible from historians such as Joesphus, Pliny, and Tacitus, the Jewish Talmud even contains the death warrant of Jesus, and this lecture details much of the evidence.
This “proof” is only proof that the writer knows how to create a self-referrencing straw-man argument.