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Christmas and Easter

church, no bus
Poll #1831510 Christmas and Easter
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 17

2000 years ago, give or take a few:

View Answers
A baby called Jesus was born
13 (24.5%)
In a stable or place where animals were kept
7 (13.2%)
To a virgin called Mary
9 (17.0%)
As prophesied 600 years earlier by Isaiah
8 (15.1%)
And angels sang in the night skies outside
7 (13.2%)
And a star was seen overhead
9 (17.0%)

Thirty years later, give or take a few:

View Answers
A guy called Jesus was crucified, and then
13 (52.0%)
The Romans took his body out of the tomb
0 (0.0%)
The Jewish authorities took his body out of the tomb
0 (0.0%)
The early Christians took his body out of the tomb
0 (0.0%)
His dead body was still in the tomb when people were claiming he was risen
1 (4.0%)
He rose from the dead, thus confirming his teaching and himself as divine
9 (36.0%)
He rose from the dead, but this doesn't show he's divine
0 (0.0%)
Something else which I will explain in a comment
2 (8.0%)


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
I very nearly checked "And a star was seen overhead" out of pedantry because provided it's dark and not cloudy, there are a lot of stars seen overhead just about anything. Especially since there was less light pollution back then.

Also, I look forward to hearing the Zombie Jesus theories arising from anyone choosing "He rose from the dead, but this doesn't show he's divine".
Apr. 5th, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC)
I think it's a fairly plausible position to think that the post-crucifixion encounters with Jesus read like a standard ghost story (he appears in locked rooms, he suddenly vanishes, his friends don't recognise him and then they do etc), so I think 'the disciples really did encounter Jesus after he died' and 'this doesn't mean he's God, he was just a ghost like lots of other people' is as self consistent and defendable as many other interpretations. I'm not sure 'he came back as a ghost' is entirely equivalent to 'he rose from the dead' though.
Apr. 8th, 2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
The Ghost story version does rather suffer from the fact that it occurred to the disciples as well, so Jesus proved he wasn't by eating something, and inviting them to touch him (Luke 24v37-43).

I would agree with you that ghost != resurrection though.
Apr. 5th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
I very nearly checked "And a star was seen overhead"

LOL. I thought the same. But I decided it was best to be clear, and assume that was referring to a specific star :)

And I know I've said this before, but I always assumed that if Jesus were any form of undead it would be a vampire: self-willed, lots of psychic powers, devoted followers, raised _other_ people from the dead, etc, etc. I mean, he doesn't die from being crucified, he dies when he's stabbed with a stake. Admittedly, after the resurrection his appearances are a bit sketchy, that could well be a zombie but I think the evidence the other way is more convincing :)
Apr. 5th, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
Doh. I tightened up the wording of several options relative to their initial version, but missed that pedantic out :P Although given my friendslist it's probably close to impossible to find any wording of any poll that nobody would make a pedantic comment on :)
Apr. 5th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
I really should finish my series reading Mark's gospel :)

FWIW, my honest best guess is that there probably was a specific guy referred to in the gospels, presumably called Jesus, whose preaching happened roughly as described. But the miracles and the birth story were wishful thinking on behalf of the witnesses and recorders.

I'm not sure about the crucifiction: I think _something_ happened, and I agree it's a bit more startling than most historical anomolies, but to me, something like "Jesus was crucified, someone had a vision/dream/hallucination that they saw him, several other people copied that, people were sufficiently convinced to become missionaries, someone embellished the story a bit to add in the 'proof' bit of it" seems reasonably plausible compared to the alternative.

I'm sorry for bringing religious debate to LJ, but I thought you deserved more of an answer than a tickybox :) I'm curious to see which combination other people tick.
Apr. 5th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
No need to apologise! Or at least, if you think there is need to apologise, then I should probably be the one doing it; I pretty much asked for it by posting this set of questions :) And needless to say, I'm also very curious to see what other people say!
Apr. 5th, 2012 03:10 pm (UTC)
The poll is currently saying five participants, but only four people's answers are showing. Is there a secret Jesus-mythist lurking around and not being properly counted, or is LJ buggy (or both)?
Apr. 5th, 2012 03:51 pm (UTC)
If you want to see poll results but don't want to give an opinion, you can just tick 'submit' without clicking anything. I do that sometimes.
Apr. 5th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
But you can also see results by clicking the poll and View Results, so people shouldn't need to do that.

I thought it was someone who answered the poll but didn't agree with any of the tickyboxes. Unfortunately this means we can't see who they are. And there are now two of them.
Apr. 5th, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC)
If anyone has done this, they can change their answers by clicking the poll link then clicking "Fill out poll".

I had thought that LJ would tell me who the people who don't think Jesus existed were, but it seems it won't. Darn. I will bear this in mind when designing future polls.
Apr. 5th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
It's an art :->

And yes, I wanted a none-of-the-above option.
Apr. 5th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
It seems natural that filling in none of the boxes ought to function as "None of the above". I suppose it would have worked more that way if one of the questions had had an answer that none-of-the-above people could tick, but I like to keep my polls fairly minimal. Ah well. Your comment serves where the LJ technology fails :)
Apr. 5th, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
But if you click 'submit' then the poll is viewable in your friends page without having to click the poll and then click view results, so it's easier to see when someone else has voted.
Apr. 5th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
More than two.
Apr. 5th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
2000 years ago, give or take a few, a baby called Jesus was born in a stable or place where animals were kept to a young maiden called Mary.

Thirty years later, give or take a few, a guy called Jesus was crucified. The soldiers cut him down too soon, so he didn't die.

Later, people tied his life in with a load of prophecies, stars, etc. to support their preaching.
Apr. 5th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
Google fail, but the chap who's tomb he used had 2, and he could have been moved to the other one. Also, recently there was a corpse found with matching wounds to Jesus in a tomb with a stone on it, ie matching the description. But I'm suffering from google fail so can't find it. medieval_bunny studied it.

Otherwise I have two thoughts - either not actually dead. Or is dead, but disciples have mystic experiences after whilst in shock.

I do believe he was a good man, if a little off the wall. I met a man who worshiped an Indian lady as god/jesus's reincarnation etc whilst in India. I can't remember her name; but there's a whole religion about the lady. And it hit me that it was exactly like early Christians and Jesus.
They even had albums of bad photography showing her 'aura'.

I think that put the last nail in the coffin for me of Jesus being any more divine than the rest of us.

We are all children of God in some form however.

And some people are inspired and inspirational leaders; and I think he was.

However the number of wars and deaths Christianity has caused, I think the buddhists have got it a bit more right really.
Apr. 19th, 2012 11:19 am (UTC)
One of the more convincing arguments for Jesus' resurrection to me is the variety of resurrection appearances, to a number of different people, attested by a variety of authors relatively few years after the events; and in particular the appearance mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:6 to "more than five hundred" people. Paul explicitly mentions that most of these five hundred are still alive - i.e. were eyewitnesses who the Corinthian recipients of the letter could go and ask themselves.

I definitely agree that the Church throughout history has frequently failed quite spectacularly to follow Jesus' example.
Apr. 19th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
"as to one abnormally born." - what does that mean?

Meanwhile it's not like Christianity was ever a peaceful cult, if you're not in the club you're going to hell, and
'I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.' he says apparently.

... I don't know; I think it's important to look at such texts in the historical context in which they were written, by the men who wrote them, what their aims were, and also see the books that were discarded from the final cut of the Bible, but the committee, of men, that chose what went in it.

The Indian lady - there is a WORLD of propaganda about her (I wish I could remember her name; I remember looking it up in the past), and countless devotees prepared to witness her miracles and saintliness. But we think they are crackers. I find it strange that the same people who distrust the various false messiahs do not apply to the same critical thinking to their own handed down creed...

Sorry, faith ran out here a while a go and I'm very sceptical of believing anything other than 'Jesus did exist' and 'he inspired people and sometimes said wise and helpful stuff'. Which is fine.

I just don't rate blind belief without thought. Specially when it says take the sword to your family, and discard people who don't think like you and send them to hell.

I think tolerance and acceptance and peace are much more important...

Having said that; I accept and am at peace with people disagreeing with me! :)

If it's helpful to believe the old book to the letter, that's ok, so long as you don't start shooting people who think differently...

(hope this isn't too harsh, I don't mean to be unfriendly. I am genuinely interested in what other people believe and why. If find is fascinating, and I'm kind of sad to have lost faith. I had it as a young teenager, a long time ago...
Apr. 19th, 2012 12:48 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, it doesn't come across as unfriendly and I'm not offended - I'm perfectly happy to have this conversation if you are. (And I'm not "trying to convert you" either :) - just answering the questions since you asked them.)

It absolutely is important to look at the Bible and other such texts in their historical context, what they meant to the original authors and hearers etc. I very much value being at a church which does that, and which doesn't encourage "blind belief without thought" but quite the opposite, tackling difficult Bible passages and encouraging the members to think things through with complete integrity. I believe that Christianity makes sense, logically, and that there are a number of rational reasons to believe it. I agree with the quote attributed to Galileo saying "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

Jesus is a thoroughly intriguing person. He says he's come to bring a sword, and yet he goes out and shows love to the lepers, outcasts and prostitutes; his harsh words are almost all saved for the religious leaders. Jesus modelled acceptance of people as they were, except for those leaders who were interfering with the common people's attempts to worship God by laying extra laws on them. He confronts the people in power, but stops his disciples from using violence, and is called the Prince of Peace.

Christianity doesn't say that we should be dividing our family, although Jesus does indeed say that *he* will if some follow him and some don't. Jesus most definitely didn't "discard people who don't think like" him, and that's absolutely not what Christians should be doing either. I think the Salvation Army and Christian development charities like CAFOD, Tearfund, Christian Aid etc have got the right idea here.

You mention "the committee of men that chose what went in" the Bible... I'm curious how else you think it could have worked. If there's anything claimed to be Scripture at all, surely it's got to be up to people to choose what writings they believe are God-inspired and which ones aren't. Christianity has always said that God guides the actions of people through his Holy Spirit, and so it's natural to expect that the majority of the church leaders would reach a consensus on which books were God-inspired.

Phew, that's probably enough for now - but I'm happy to continue the discussion later on :)
Apr. 19th, 2012 01:20 pm (UTC)
Apr. 19th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
(Just realised this may have been misinterpreted: By "that's enough for now" I didn't mean for you to not reply - I'd love to hear your thoughts on my comments above. I just meant I wouldn't be posting any more replies myself until tonight!)
Apr. 24th, 2012 12:27 pm (UTC)
re bible writers - I think it's just that I've met one too many people who say 'The Bible is God's Word!' and use that to blindly believe whatever they're told (I presume they don't read the whole thing or they'd be stoning their neighbours for stealing their sheep etc, then again, given the religious wars, and 'we're are on the side of God' (quite ignoring that the opposition are also on the side of their God, which may in fact be the same thing))....

I had a friend who said people AT THEIR CHURCH would obviously Go to Hell because they thought it was enough to be nice to each other go to heaven, and they were Obviously wrong! (I can't actually remember what it was that made you go to heaven. Accepting Jesus as God or something - what about the ones who haven't heard of him?!)

And it made me very sad that people sometimes seem to care about all the wrong things.

To be honest I gave up on the ins and outs of the bible, and I honestly don't care who it was written by, nor whether Jesus is seen as human or divine.

I think we're all human, and all life is a bit divine, and my definition of God is thus suitably wooly as to be not quite meaningless, but I certainly don't see a chap on a white cloud passing judgment. I see an electron spining off in random directions... the wings of a butterfly beating and causing a chain reaction. The sunshine on the raindrops making everything beautiful...

And thus in religion; which I do value, I look for these things:

Comfort in tradition - I like hymns, I like that humanity has been Thinking about things of the spirit and values them. I like quiet contemplation of prayer. I like the act of wishing for things to be better, and thus being in a better place to bring about such changes. And I like the stability (which is not something I ever thought I'd say. I used to be horrified at people who went to church for the pomp rather than god. But god, if it is, is everywhere; you don't need a building to house a god, nor to appropriately worship one, thus the point of churches must be something else, like community).

I like the bits of religion which, as a result of man studying man for centuries, help us to live better lives - the guidance and support and wisdom one can find in any of these ancient tried and tested texts. I think some bits are now out of date - don't eat seafood was related to it making you ill, ditto pork. Sex - well if it leads to babies and disease that causes problems. With contraception not so much - however the Emotional side of relationships is still an issue I'm not sure is dealt with... And actually, having looked for readings on Love in the bible for our marriage (What a challenge!!!) maybe that isn't really covered in that book.

I look for wisdom and inspiration.
You could say that those things ARE god. That Goodness is God And I would be happy with that.

Whether or not there's a body in the ground from a long time ago, or a star or not etc - it simply isn't relevant to me.

The resulting wisdom, if it is there, when it is there, is what counts, whether or not Jesus was saint or lunatic.

(which, according to the aforementioned friend, means I'm a heretic and Going to Hell! Fortunately I don't believe in heaven and hell, so that's ok then...)
Apr. 16th, 2012 10:43 am (UTC)
I'm mildly surprised more people didn't answer actually, and also that there wasn't more variation. It seems like 6 people believed everything, 3 people beleived Jesus existed and was crucified, and an unknown number of people didn't think Jesus even existed. And the only exceptions are (i) one person who thought "a star was seen overhead" (ii) one person who thought Jesus was crucified and the body was still in the tomb when people thought they saw him (iii) one person who thought something else which will be explained in comments :)
Apr. 19th, 2012 11:21 am (UTC)
Well, my friendlist is a fairly small and select group ;) (Technically I suppose it's the people who've got me on their friendslists, but it's fairly similar.) But naturally, having been mentioned in a discussion over on atreic's journal, the number of participants has climbed significantly! ;)
Apr. 24th, 2012 12:31 pm (UTC)
yes I thought the 'believe everything' and 'believe nothing' distinction was pretty shockingly impressive too!
Apr. 24th, 2012 12:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah. It's a little more mixed now :)
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
I only just spotted this after seeing atreic refer to it on her journal.

Hopefully, you won't think I'm being pedant-y just for the sake of it, but I found this quite difficult to fill in, as follows:

"A baby called Jesus was born". A baby was born and then he was named Jesus, yes.

"In a stable or place where animals were kept". I couldn't agree to this one because Scripture only affirms that Jesus was born in a manager, and doesn't mention a stable/animal place. Not sure whether the presence of the manger should imply the presence of the stable, or whether refusing to acknowledge a stable / animal keeping place is staying within the Scriptural witness...

"To a virgin called Mary". ARGH. Due to the common Hebrew translation of "virgin" as young woman, it would be possible to tick this statement without believing in a virginal conception. I wasn't sure whether you were trying to ask if we believed in an historical Mary (much like statement one) or a virginal conception, or both.

"As prophesied 600 years earlier by Isaiah..." Again, this is tricky. Do we have to believe that Isaiah wrote Isaiah or is it ok to believe in Isaiah as a divinely inspired compilation of texts written by a number of authors? Or were you saying that it doesn't matter what we believe about the way Isaiah was written, and just asking about whether we believe Isaiah contains a prophecy about Jesus? I got all hung up on the 600 years part because what you believe about authorship affects the dating.

"He rose from the dead, thus confirming his teaching and himself as divine". A minor quibble, but I was reading the secondary literature about the Council of Nicea today, and finding that belief in Jesus' divinity wouldn't be that unusual because all sorts of things/people were understood to have divine attributes. What matters is not so much his divinity (we are all partakers of the divine nature) or his resurrection (he raised others from the dead) as his being of one substance with the Father, which we as human beings are not.

Apr. 19th, 2012 11:12 am (UTC)
BTW, sorry for the late reply - LJ isn't notifying me of new replies to this post!

I'm rather amused by the degree of pedantry here, but I can see why it's important. I think I've adopted some of andrewducker's poll-writing style: deliberately phrase things in pretty bold terms, and if people want to give a more nuanced view, let them do so in the comments.

The manger vs stable point seems quite a technicality; we're told there was no room available in the inn, so I'm not sure quite where else it might have been. I guess it's just about possible the inn kept the manger in their common room? I've been told that current Biblical scholars think it was actually a cave where animals were kept rather than a stable - amusingly, this was by a ten-year-old boy; but his father is a New Testament scholar at Tyndale House - the joys of teaching Sunday school at Eden Baptist!
Apr. 24th, 2012 12:53 pm (UTC)
"To a virgin called Mary"

I remember a fierce disagreement about this issue. I don't have any first-hand knowledge, but the best impression I got out of it was that Isiah used the ambiguous Hewbrew word (and could most plausibly be read as referring to contemporary events and not making a prediction about the future at all), but the new testament unambiguously used the Greek word for "virgin", and said that Isiah predicted such a thing would happen.

But I like the pedantry, Alex's strategy of eliciting comments by being decisive in the poll options appears to work :) Maybe we should have a follow-up poll :)
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
Another visitor from
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Another visitor from <lj-user="atreic">'s LJ...

I've left the poll blank. Back when I was a first year undergrad, I let the CiCCU mission evangelise at me; I sort-of got half-way convinced by the historical evidence, but I could never make sense of what it was that I was expected to believe in. It felt like an extraordinary claim was trying to be justified by evidence that was merely good, but might it have been good enough? For a while there was a deadlock in my mind, it was not a happy time.

Anyway, I ended up thinking, "there's lots of alternative explanations, only one has to be correct, my bet isn't on any one horse", and that gave me at least some peace. Hence the poll not being filled out. It was 2000 years ago, and I'm not sure what the epistemic practises were like in that age.
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