Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Prep for the CompTIA A+ certification exam. Save 95% on the CompTIA IT Certification Bundle ×

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 1) 501

Matthew's gospel was written in Hebrew.

No Hebrew manuscript of Matthew has ever been found. The claim that it was written in Hebrew comes from two fragments written by second century bishops, who also said that they had never seen a Hebrew manuscript.

In fact, there is enough linguistic agreement between the gospels that most historians (and linguists) believe that all four were written in Greek. The people who say Matthew was written in Hebrew (or Aramaic) are in every case proponents of the extraordinary claims of Christianity. It's like saying that you believe Obama was born in Kenya because some Fox News blonde said so.

Comment Re:I should have thought of that (Score 1) 195

My point is that if a bank is pointing towards a particular option it's because it's the one they are going to make the most money on

I know the arguments:

"Climate scientists are all getting paid billions by fat Al Gore"
"The media is in the tank for climate change because they want to destroy the economy"
"If climate change was real, then why was there so much snow last winter? Boom!"
"The numbers that Citi came up with for climate change cannot be trusted because they're all getting paid billions by fat Al Gore and they took a bailout in 2009"
"Insurance companies projections on climate change should be ignored because they're all being mind-controlled by the Marxist/Fascist Obama. And fat Al Gore (who owns his own fleet of jets piloted by John Travolta and leaves his air conditioner running 24/7, even in the winter)."

Am I missing any?

Banking is merely legalized theft.

That is partly true. But banking itself isn't legalized theft, but it is the way Citicorp does it. However, Citicorp is a huge conglomerate with shareholders and divisions and investments in lots of industries and probably stand to lose a lot more from climate change than they stand to gain.

And how exactly is slowing climate change supposed to mean staggering new profits for Citi? The entire carbon credit industry is projected to get as big as $30 billion. This is about half as much as Citi pays in fines every few years.

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 1) 501

Yet we have quite a lot written about some ancient carpenter

Even the historians who support a historical Jesus don't believe he was a carpenter. Just for the record.

The original Greek word used in the passage calling Jesus a carpenter is "tekton", which means "builder". Considering how few structures in that period were made of wood, it's far more likely that a historical Jesus, if he existed, was a stonemason.

Some historians believe the "builder" story was just cover for the political activities of Jesus. The way politicians put on work clothes and go clear brush to make people believe they're just regular folks. There's also a very good argument that the Jesus of the bible was actually royalty. From what I've read, the most compelling argument is that the stories of Jesus were actually allegory describing the campaigns of Titus Flavius. And since Josephus was a known traitor in collusion with the Romans, it would make sense that he was acting as a Titus Flavius' press agent and made up the story of Jesus out of whole cloth.

This does not diminish one bit the teachings presented in the gospels, and I have great respect for Christians. The Pauline books are a bunch of hokum in my opinion. Paul is the one who turned the Jesus story into a religion, and all of his personal kinks were carried along for the ride.

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 1) 501

Also, Josephus mentions Jesus in his historical texts.

Josephus was born after Jesus died. The historicity of his writings are suspect.


Also, the two (2) references to Jesus that Josephus makes were almost certainly scribal additions, added much later by someone who was not Josephus.

"Josephus was born after Jesus died, so in the most charitable interpretation, he is simply passing along second-hand information. More damning, scholars almost universally agree that this was not original to Josephus. He was a Jew, not a Christian, and this isn’t what he would’ve written. Also, the passage interrupts the flow of the book at this point (that is, the book would read better if this passage were removed), and it is briefer than similar summaries in the rest of the work. This is what you’d expect from a later addition.
From the Jewish standpoint, Josephus was a traitor. Formerly a Jewish commander, he defected to the Roman side during the First Jewish-Roman War in around 67, and his history was written in Rome. Jews had little interest in copying his works to keep them in circulation, and it was mostly Christians who copied them. They might have been motivated to “improve” Josephus.
The earliest copy of the Testimonium Flavianum is from Eusebius (324 CE or earlier). That it is traceable back to Eusebius raises concerns. He is not considered an especially reliable historian, and it’s possible that he added this paragraph.
The second passage is a bit long, so let me summarize. Ananus was named the new high priest. He was eager to establish his authority, and he sentenced a group of men to death, one of whom was James the brother of Jesus. There was an outcry against this execution (perhaps it was hasty or was built on insufficient evidence—the text isn’t specific), and concerned citizens petitioned the Roman procurator to rein in Ananus. The procurator agreed and removed Ananus from the high priesthood, “and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”
Let’s return to James, one of the unfortunates executed by stoning. The text says:
  [Ananus] assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others
While this doesn’t celebrate the miracles of Jesus, it does at least establish the existence of Jesus Christ in the first century, since the book was written in about 93 CE. However, David Fitzgerald (Nailed, p. 58–61) summarizes a Richard Carrier argument that makes an intriguing case that this isn’t what it seems to be.
The first problem is that this isn’t how other accounts describe the death of James the Just, the brother of Jesus Christ and first bishop of Jerusalem.
Next, notice the clumsy sentence structure:
“the brother of Jesus,
who was called the Christ,
whose name was James ”
rather than simply “the brother of Jesus, whose name was James.” Imagine if “who was called the Christ” was originally a marginal note in a copy that was merged into the manuscript by a later scribe. Scholars can point to many examples of these scribal insertions. In the form that we have it, it’s like a chatty email that drops “and then I saw Jesus” into a rather boring summary of a trip to the mall. Surely the reader of Josephus would say, “What?? Who cares about James? Go back and elaborate on that Christ bit!” This is what journalists call “burying the lead.”
The argument for that phrase being an addition goes from intriguing to convincing when we consider how the passage ends. Who replaced the hotheaded Ananus? It was “Jesus, the son of Damneus.” (Don’t forget that Jesus or Yeshua was a popular name at this time.)
Before, you had some random guy named James, highlighted for no reason from the list of those who were killed. But delete the “Christ” phrase as a later addition, and the story makes sense. Ananus the high priest irresponsibly kills some people, and he’s removed from office. The title is transferred to Jesus the son of Damneus, the brother of one of the men killed, as partial compensation for the wrongful death.
The most charitable interpretation of Josephus gives faint support for the Christian position—Josephus simply is passing along hearsay of supernatural events. We would give this the same credibility deserved by any ancient book with supernatural claims.
A critical review shows why both of these could be later additions, suggesting an original Josephus with no references to Jesus Christ. This is just educated guesswork, and scholars don’t argue this position with certainty, but dismissing it is a poor foundation on which to build any truth claims of Christianity."

Comment Early to bed... (Score 2) 60

Lack of sleep puts you at risk for just about everything in the way of illness.

Go to bed, people. Don't look at any screens for at least a half-hour before you hit the pillow and it will help you fall asleep.

Sleep is wonderful. Get 8-9 hours if you can. The longer you sleep the more you'll dream and dreams (even nightmares) are crucial for good mental and physical health. In fact, some of the best days I've ever had seemed to come after a night with one of those nightmares where you wake up shouting, jumping off the bed and grasping the covers.

Artificial lighting has screwed us up a bit. If I could, I'd go to bed a few hours after dark and wake up at dawn every day. I do it during the summer, but where I live it gets dark pretty early in the winter.

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 1) 501

Well, actually, I have a poor sense of smell and if you want to refute the wikipedia article and challenge the sources, do so. That onus is yours.

I won't refute the Wikipedia article. I will quote it:

"Criticism of Jesus research methods[edit]
A number of scholars have criticised Historical Jesus research for religious bias and lack of methodological soundness, and some have argued that modern biblical scholarship is insufficiently critical and sometimes amounts to covert apologetics.[141][142]

Theological bias[edit]
John Meier, a Catholic priest and a professor of theology at University of Notre Dame, has stated "... I think a lot of the confusion comes from the fact that people claim they are doing a quest for the historical Jesus when de facto they’re doing theology, albeit a theology that is indeed historically informed ..."[143] Meier also wrote that in the past the quest for the historical Jesus has often been motivated more by a desire to produce an alternate Christology than a true historical search.[28]

The British Methodist scholar Clive Marsh[144] has stated that the construction of the portraits of Jesus as part of various quests have often been driven by "specific agendas" and that historical components of the relevant biblical texts are often interpreted to fit specific goals.[29] Marsh lists theological agendas that aim to confirm the divinity of Jesus, anti-ecclesiastical agendas that aim to discredit Christianity and political agendas that aim to interpret the teachings of Jesus with the hope of causing social change.[29][145]

The New Testament scholar Nicholas Perrin has argued that since most biblical scholars are Christians, a certain bias is inevitable, but he does not see this as a major problem.[146][147]

Lack of methodological soundness[edit]
The historical analysis techniques used by biblical scholars have been questioned,[27][28][29] and according to James Dunn it is not possible "to construct (from the available data) a Jesus who will be the real Jesus."[148][149][150]

W.R. Herzog has stated that "What we call the historical Jesus is the composite of the recoverable bits and pieces of historical information and speculation about him that we assemble, construct, and reconstruct. For this reason, the historical Jesus is, in Meier's words, 'a modern abstraction and construct.'"[151]

Donald Akenson, Professor of Irish Studies in the department of history at Queen's University has argued that, with very few exceptions, the historians attempting to reconstruct a biography of the man apart from the mere facts of his existence and crucifixion have not followed sound historical practices. He has stated that there is an unhealthy reliance on consensus, for propositions, which should otherwise be based on primary sources, or rigorous interpretation. He also identifies a peculiar downward dating creep, and holds that some of the criteria being used are faulty. He says that the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars are employed in institutions whose roots are in religious beliefs. Because of this, more than any other group in present-day academia, biblical historians are under immense pressure to theologize their historical work. It is only through considerable individual heroism, that many biblical historians have managed to maintain the scholarly integrity of their work.[152][153]

Dale Allison, a Presbyterian theologian and professor of New Testament Exegesis and Early Christianity at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, says, "... We wield our criteria to get what we want ..."[27]

According to James Dunn, "...the 'historical Jesus' is properly speaking a nineteenth- and twentieth-century construction using the data provided by the Synoptic tradition, not Jesus back then and not a figure in history."[154] (Emphasis in the original). Dunn further explains that "the facts are not to be identified as data; they are always an interpretation of the data.[155]

Since Albert Schweitzer's book The Quest of the Historical Jesus, scholars have for long stated that many of the portraits of Jesus are "pale reflections of the researchers" themselves.[22][156][157] Albert Schweitzer accused early scholars of religious bias. John Dominic Crossan summarized the recent situation by stating that many authors writing about the life of Jesus "... do autobiography and call it biography."[22][158]

Scarcity of sources[edit]
Bart Ehrman and separately Andreas Köstenberger contend that given the scarcity of historical sources, it is generally difficult for any scholar to construct a portrait of Jesus that can be considered historically valid beyond the basic elements of his life.[159][160] On the other hand, scholars such as N. T. Wright and Luke Timothy Johnson argue that the image of Jesus presented in the gospels is largely accurate, and that dissenting scholars are simply too cautious about what we can claim to know about the ancient era.[125]"

Comment Re:"Action" cheaper than "Inaction" is a surprise? (Score 1) 195

Do you know what a derivative is? Then why are you repeating the total face value number like it means anything. How much were the total premiums?

Do you know what a carbon credit is? How much is the total value of the energy those carbon credits represent?

The point is, the fact that the entire carbon credit market is worth $30 billion proves the financial industry isn't going to make "staggering amounts of money" from it. And the fact that institutional investors will be trading carbon credits (as well as carbon credit derivatives) is an indication that more people than just "the financial industry" are going to make money from them.

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 1, Informative) 501

Very simply, the best evaluation of what evidence we have is that there was this guy named Joshua in first century Judea and Galilee. He preached and was likely executed as a political criminal by the Roman Imperial government. His followers believed he was the Son of God and founded a religion that became Christianity. And that is about as simple as a story as you can make it, which to me seems like the most likely history by far.

So, you're saying that the most likely Jesus wasn't Jesus?

There were scores of "messiahs" around at the time of the Roman occupation. The zealots had half of them. Their followers all deified them and their disciples and their disciples children all created origin stories for them. It was basically Marvel vs DC, except all the heroes were Jewish.

Look, I'm a big supporter of Christianity. I think faith is a good thing. But there's no historical Jesus and I'm not sure why it even matters.

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 1) 501

Tell you what. You look at the section of the citation that you provided on the research proving the existence of Jesus and come back and tell us whether you think the methodology passes the smell test.

It's all based on conjecture, writings from the 3rd and 4th centuries and wishful thinking.

See for yourself. It's your own goddamn citation.


Comment Re:I should have thought of that (Score 4, Interesting) 195

Surely you can trust a BANK. And of all the banks, Citibank is surely the most trustworthy. /SARCASM

So let's see..we'll make a list of the people who cannot be trusted when it comes to climate change:

1. Climate scientists
3. The Insurance Industry, which is already figuring climate change into their actuarial tables
4. The energy industry, which is already using climate change models in their strategic planning
5. The military, which is already using climate change models in their strategic planning
6. The financial industry

I guess all that's left for you to trust is Alex Jones, Breitbart, Fox News and Jesus. Good luck with that.

Comment Re:"Action" cheaper than "Inaction" is a surprise? (Score 1) 195

Because it's not as though the financial industry could make staggering amounts of money from 'Carbon Credits'.

The largest estimate for the potential size of the carbon credits market is $30 billion.

The derivatives market is worth $1.2 QUADRILLION.

The financial industry is not going to make "staggering" amounts from carbon credits when the entire carbon credit market isn't even a rounding error compared to what they're making in derivatives. You want "staggering" I would suggest looking at derivatives, which total SIXTEEN TIMES the entire GDP of the world.

The US financial industry alone paid twice as much in fines over the past few years than the total value of the carbon credit market.

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 2) 501

But for Christianity the evidence for it's truth does exist if you carefully consider what is being actually claimed.

I've read McDowell's book. He basically lays out the same non-existent evidence that theologians have for centuries and then does a lot of conjecture. There is no evidence for Jesus existence that comes from Jesus' time. The rest is backfill from post-Paul. It's why the gospels were written in Greek instead of Aramaic or Hebrew.

Joseph Atwill makes a compelling case for the "historical Jesus" actually being allegory for the acts of Titus Flavius.

Comment Re:Well, that's embarrassing (Score 1) 501

As you say, lack of evidence has bupkis to do with people's faith. They believe despite the total lack of evidence, not because evidence exists.

There are so many historical holes in the Bible that Christian apologists have spent more than a millennium trying to explain them away. And people still believe.

A certain percentage of the population has an innate need to believe what cannot be proven. I think this is a feature of humanity, not a bug.

"Ahead warp factor 1" - Captain Kirk