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"The Player" Got Played…

Sacerdotus

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The atheist (@justfole) who has more names than Lucifer responded to my Christmas challenge.  I responded back.  My words are in black and his are in blue.

Source: http://mousecop.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/sacerdotus-christmas-challenge/

////Here I will be responding to the challenge set forth by the person known only as Sacerdotus. I recently “debated” him on the idea of whether “god” could be definitively proved or disproved. I assume the debate ended in a draw, as nobody was declared the winner. I don’t care, I don’t do this for the fame and glory, I do it because it entertains me, and hopefully entertains and/or educates anyone who happens to come across it. Although fame and glory would be nice.

His “Christmas Challenge” came in the form of a YouTube video, for some reason, which was composed of three textual images and the theme song from Family Feud.///


Sacerdotus replies:

Not to be arrogant, but it is obvious that I won the debate.  🙂  You were not able to counter my arguments.
Anyhow..

I appreciate the time you took to take this Christmas challenge which other vocal atheists did not even try to engage.  From Dawkins to Harris, even caricature account Rubicondior; none attempted to take the challenge.

///Sacerdotus shows that he is disingenuous right from the beginning in how he phrases his questions. They are clearly not legitimate, logical questions, but I will respond to them as written.///

Sacerdotus replies:

The questions are indeed valid.  As a matter of fact, they originate from a discussion I had with a former professor of mine during Christmas vacation when I visited.

The questions seek the truth regarding the accusations against Christ.

There is nothing illogical about this.  If someone were to claim that you are not who you say you are, you will do all that there is to do to prove your identity.  How can this be illogical?

Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for atheists to call “disingenuous” those questions that dissolve atheism and its claims.

////I will address the questions individually so as to be as clear as possible. First, let’s begin with a brief explanation. This “challenge” is directed specifically at atheists, not any and all non-Christians. Right away, Sacerdotus is redefining atheism, as he is wont to do on Twitter. He knows full well what atheism is and what it isn’t, as he is told in every conversation he has with every atheist he converses with on Twitter. Probably in other mediums as well. Atheism is nothing more than not believing in any gods. When a religion says, “This is our god,” the atheist says, “I don’t believe that.” End of story. Nothing more, nothing less. Simply, the lack of belief in gods. An atheist can and will have any number of individual beliefs, and all of which are completely unrelated to atheism, which is simply not having a belief in god. Atheism does not provide answers to the origins of the universe, the origins of life on this planet, the theory of evolution or the Big Bang, or whether Batman could beat Superman in a fight. (He could) Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with it.///

Sacerdotus replies:

These questions have nothing to do with the definition of atheism, but on its claim that Christ is a myth.  Around Christmas time, atheist organizations pay lots of money to place billboards claiming that Christ is a myth.  Here is one put on in NYC’s Time’s Square.

Moreover, if atheism does not provide answers to the origins of the universe or life etc, then why disqualify God as a causal possibility?  The dismissal of God indicates that one has knowledge of how it all started otherwise God would not be left out of the equation.

/////You are to prove with evidence that Christmas is indeed a myth and that no such person named Jesus Christ was born or existed which instigated the formation of the world’s most powerful religion.

Since this challenge was addressed to atheists, I will respond first from the perspective of an atheist, then I will address the specifics of the question.

In order for me to not believe your story, I do not need to disprove it, or even provide any evidence to the contrary. I need simply to not believe you. If you want to convince me, you must provide evidence that I find convincing. Otherwise, I will continue to not believe you.///

Sacerdotus replies:

This is not about believing or not believing.  It is about classifying Christ and Christmas as a “myth.”  There are religious individuals who believe in Christ, but do not believe in the “Christmas narrative.”

/////Whether Sacerdotus is intentionally being disingenuous here by phrasing the question how he did is not relevant, so I won’t address his motivation. However, the question is fallacious. ”Christmas” is not a myth. Christmas is a well-known holiday. It exists. Nobody would deny this. There are over 2 billion people on this planet who currently practice some form of Christianity, and therefore probably celebrate Christmas. Now, in terms of proving the traditions that are related to Christmas are rooted in myth, I can easily reference Saturnalia, or Yule, or the fact that only the extraordinarily ignorant claim the Jesus’ birthday was really December 25th. There are a lot of people who have dedicated a lot of time explaining the origins of the holiday we call Christmas. Google it if you like. I like this site, it’s pretty straightforward and detailed. It details the origins of many Christmas customs, such as gift-giving, mistletoe, Santa Claus, and the Christmas Tree.////

Sacerdotus replies:

The intention of the questions is to sort out fact from fiction.  It is not about believing or disbelieving in the matter.

Christmas is more than a national holiday, it is an event that concentrates on history’s most important figure: Jesus Christ.  The questions are not addressing the secular holiday aspect of it, but its origin – whether it is factual or not.

This is not about customs or rituals that secular society has placed on the celebration.  It is about the origin and veracity of the celebration.

////It is of course not possible to prove that a person did not exist, especially when you factor in that this person was alleged to have existed over 2000 years ago. However, the shocking absence of evidence regarding the existence of Jesus is more than enough proof for me to doubt his existence. Certainly to strongly weaken any claim of importance, much less divinity. There are absolutely zero (ZERO) outside sources that reference Jesus. Not a single Roman account of his speeches, miracles, or crucifixion. Not a single witness to his speeches, miracles, crucifixion or resurrection wrote a single document telling of what they witnessed? Christians claim hundreds of people were witness to the resurrection, yet not a single primary account survives to this day? The earliest written account has been dated to approximately 70-100 CE. Well after his alleged “death.” All of the earliest nonbiblical accounts only reference Christians, and what they believe. These accounts do not even attempt to verify the divinity of Jesus Christ, they only talk about the fact that there were people at the time who called themselves Christians. So there is an astounding lack of evidence that a god came to earth, took human form, “died” for a few days, then flew away into the sky. It is, as I said, not possible to prove there was not a man named Jesus who lived at the time claimed, and who provided the foundation for the religion called Christianity. But, as this challenge was directed to atheists, not historians, my response is simple:///

Sacerdotus replies:

If one can trace a person to an author, then it is indeed possible to prove that said person did not exist.  For example, if someone were to ask if Ichabod Crane was real or not, the answer would be no.  If asked for evidence, the response would be the mentioning of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

In regards to evidence of Jesus, there are indeed sources outside of Christianity that give witness to Him. These are some: Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Josephus, The Babylonian Talmud, Lucian.

“Nero fastened the guilt . . . on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome” – Tacitus Annals 15.44

“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.” – Pliny the Younger (Pliny, Letters, transl. by William Melmoth, rev. by W.M.L. Hutchinson (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935)

“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he . . . wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate . . .condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life. . . . And the tribe of Christians . . . has . . . not disappeared.” – Josephus (Josephus, Antiquities 18.63-64, cited in Yamauchi, “Jesus Outside the New Testament”, 212)

“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald . . . cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.” – The Babylonian Talmud (The Babylonian Talmud, transl. by I. Epstein (London: Soncino, 1935), vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a, 281)

“The Christians . . . worship a man to this day–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws”  Lucian ( Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13, in The Works of Lucian of Samosata, transl. by H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949), vol. 4.)

In addition to this, the witness of the Gospels and early Christians are taken seriously by scholars even today.
Even the most anti-religious or secular historians accept that Jesus Christ did walk this Earth.  The dispute among most secular scholars is whether or not He was Divine.

Here are 2 examples:

“This sceptical way of thinking reached its culmination in the argument that Jesus as a human being never existed at all and is a myth…. But above all, if we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus’ existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned. Certainly, there are all those discrepancies between one Gospel and another. But we do not deny that an event ever took place just because some pagan historians such as, for example, Livy and Polybius, happen to have described it in differing terms…. To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ myth theory. It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first rank scholars.’ In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.” – Michael Grant (Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels

“The Christian evidence for Christ begins with the letters ascribed to Saint Paul. Some of these are of uncertain authorship; several, antedating A.D. 64, are almost universally accounted as substantially genuine. No one has questioned the existence of Paul, or his repeated meetings with Peter, James, and John; and Paul enviously admits that these men had known Christ in his flesh. The accepted epistles frequently refer to the Last Supper and the Crucifixion…. The contradictions are of minutiae, not substance; in essentials the synoptic gospels agree remarkably well, and form a consistent portrait of Christ. In the enthusiasm of its discoveries the Higher Criticism has applied to the New Testament tests of authenticity so severe that by them a hundred ancient worthies, for example Hammurabi, David, Socrates would fade into legend. Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the evangelists, they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom, their flight after Jesus’ arrest, Peter’s denial, the failure of Christ to work miracles in Galilee, the references of some auditors to his possible insanity, his early uncertainty as to his mission, his confessions of ignorance as to the future, his moments of bitterness, his despairing cry on the cross; no one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so loft an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospel. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of the life, character, and teaching of Christ, remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature of the history of Western man.” – Will Durant (Caesar and Christ)

////I don’t need to disprove Jesus’ existence. The clear lack of supporting evidence is more than enough for me to feel comfortable not believing your claims of divinity. As to whether there was a human preacher named Jesus who gave speeches and was crucified by the Romans for starting trouble? Irrelevant. There were a lot of people who did exactly that. There was a group of Jews called the Zealots who were waiting for their messiah (who would usher them in to a new kingdom) and incited rebellion against the ruling Roman Empire. Coincidentally (?) they were led by a man named Judas. They were so much of a headache, that the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 CE and scattered the Jews, which is commonly referred to as the Jewish Diaspora.////

Sacerdotus replies:

As demonstrated above, evidence exists that a man named Jesus Christ who founded Christianity walked this Earth.  Yes, there were some who called themselves “Messiah,” but none had the success that Jesus had.  This is testament to the veracity of Jesus’ claims.  The Messiah in order to fit that description had to present certain qualities about Him.  Jesus obviously fit the mold and was believed.  Had He been a fraud, Christianity would have died out in its infancy alongside all the other sects.

////As I’ve already referenced, the similarities between Christmas and other pagan myths is myriad. Bring it up on Twitter and you’re sure to have seen this image, at least once.///

Sacerdotus replies:

Scholars have long debunked claims of similarities made by anti-religious folks.  No historian takes seriously the claims that Christ is a borrowed mythology.  While these gods are said to have a birthday on December 25th, one must remember that it was the Catholic Church that designated the 25th as Christ’s birth in order to facilitate the conversion of Pagans.  Some believe Jesus was actually born in March.  Also, the calendar that we use today was not used by those who wrote on these gods, so the December 25 birth claims for them are not accurate.

///There is no one originator to the origin of Christmas or its traditions. Christmas is simply the blending of several cultures’ winter festivals. It has no one “originator” and no intention other than to provide joy in what was, without modern heat and electricity, a very depressing and difficult time for people. What better way to keep your spirits up through the cold winter than by having a major celebration on the shortest and darkest day of the year? That’s the origin and intention behind having a celebration at the winter solstice.///

Sacerdotus replies:

If there is no originator or origin of the Christmas myth, then you have publicly declared it to be an historical event.

If the person and events surrounding Christmas were indeed a myth, then you would have been able to trace it to an author just like I traced Ichabod to Irving.

///You must explain why this myth was so powerful that it spread globally as Truth and is taught in university curriculum in history and theological departments.

To this I will simply respond: It wasn’t. Christmas is not and was not taught in university curriculum in history as truth. Perhaps it was taught in theology, but that’s not hardly surprising, is it? Theology is the teaching of religious belief, so of course they would teach about specific religious beliefs. An honest theology course, however, would not teach it as “truth” and would hopefully encourage its students to investigate the origins and truth of the holiday for themselves. Any history course that teaches any religious belief as fact is not a legitimate history course. So I will simply reject this question on its merits as dishonest and fallacious.///

Sacerdotus replies:

It wasn’t?  It is a federal holiday in the United States.  The one and only religious federal holiday I might add.  This means a lot considering that the United States is clear in regarding any endorsement of religion by its government.

The fact that it is taught in many history and theology departments indicates the veracity of it.  There are no “Greek Divinity schools” or curriculums that prepares students for ministry in Greek or Roman pagan mythology.

///You must explain why this myth is still relevant 2000 + years later.

This is easy. Christmas is fun. People enjoy getting together with their families, and giving and receiving gifts. “Christmas” as a holiday and celebration is completely detached from any religious implications. Sure, since Fox News declared a War on Christmas a few years ago, there has been a marked increase in the number and visibility of religious decorations, specifically nativity scenes, but still the ruling character of Christmas is Santa Claus. Big fat guy, white beard, flying reindeer. Not Jesus in any recognizable way. The tree, the wreath, the mistletoe, the gifts, the stockings, the eggnog. None of that originates in the Bible or in any teachings of Christianity. (See the image above) Not really sure what you mean by “relevant” but I hope I have sufficiently answered your question. People like to have fun, especially in the winter when the weather is unpleasant.///

Sacerdotus replies:

Christmas is fun?  Studies show that Christmas or the holidays triggers Season Affective Disorder.  People become depressed, stressed, some even commit suicide.  The burden of buying presents for all and wondering if they will enjoy them; plus the stress of shopping in stores, deceased family members who are no longer present, the deployment of a loved one to war, or even nostalgia bring people’s mental state down.

Nevertheless, Christmas is still relevant.  So relevant that atheists feel the need to launch campaigns against it.

///You must explain how billions have encountered this mythological being named Christ and how this person has worked miracles in their lives if He never existed.

This one is even easier than the last. Short answer: they haven’t and he hasn’t. First of all, he wasn’t named “Christ,” that was his title. Christ means “the anointed one.” It wasn’t his name.

Any and all religious experiences are completely subjective. People who say they’ve seen Jesus or that he’s intervened in their lives would say it was Allah if they were raised in a Muslim country, or perhaps Vishnu if they were raised in India. The vast majority of these alleged miracles are completely trivial and commonplace events. It’s a “miracle” that my favorite sports team made a dramatic comeback at the end of the game and achieved victory. Thank you Jesus! It’s a miracle that I survived that car crash. Thank you Jesus! It’s a miracle that my dog woke me up by barking and I was able to get out of my burning apartment before I died of smoke inhalation. Thank you Brahma! Oh wait, you seem to be under the impression that the only “god” performing miracles and intervening in people’s lives is yours. You’re mistaken. People of all religious faiths are witness to the same types of miracles that you imply Jesus is performing. People see what they expect to see. Christians see Jesus. Non-Christians don’t. Even Christians who claim to have seen Jesus can’t agree on what he looks like. There is no scholarly agreement on the race and appearance of Jesus. Over the centuries, he has been depicted in a multitude of ways.///


Sacerdotus replies:

They haven’t?  So people never experienced God? Never had prayers answered?  What rock have you been living under?  I invite you to conduct a survey.  Visit any churches of whatever denomination and ask them if they have experienced Jesus.

Any experience can be subjective, but when large amounts of people have it, then there is something more to them than subjectivity.

Miracles can occur to anyone, not just Christians.  There is only ONE God listening.  The miracle happened for a reason.  Miracles usually occur to convert.  A miracle is not as trivial as you attempt to describe it.  In order for a miracle to be miracle, the laws of nature/physics must have been suspended and the event defies all we know about existence.  

*********************************************************************************

//Apparently, “The Player” (me) Got Played… or at least,

Sacerdotus seems to think so. He has responded to my

acceptance of his Christmas Challenge on his blog, and I

will attempt to address the many issues with his response

here.

First, he accuses me of having “more names than Lucifer,”

which is a personal attack that I don’t understand. I am

known to him on two forums, Twitter and this blog, which

was inspired by conversations I have with people on

Twitter. In both forums I am known as “Mouse Cop.” Add to

that my government name, and you could say I have 2 names.

My online pseudonym, and my real life name.

Second, he claims to have won our “debate,” despite there

having been no set criteria for declaring a winner, and no

comments were allowed on his blog where the debate took

place, so objectively, no winner could be declared.

However, if you read the conversation, it is clear that I

won. I won for the same reason he says he won. “Because I

said so.” Ha!

Anyway, on with the show!///

Sacerdotus replies:

It is self evident that your argument collapsed before all.  The “Lucifer” comment was a remark concerning your constant changes of designation online. Debates are won by how strong arguments are made and how
one dismantles the opponents arguments.  A close analysis would show that you failed to show that God does not exist or is not possible.

//Sacerdotus begins by responding to my analysis of the way

he phrased his questions, concluding that he was being

disingenuous and that the questions were phrased in a way

so that they would be impossible to legitimately answer.

His response://

Sacerdotus replies:

Again, “The Player” is playing word games.  The questions are valid and academic in nature.  They seek the truth regarding the Christmas narrative – mainly the person of Jesus Christ.  If the questions are impossible to legitimately answer, then the conclusion is that the suggestion that Christmas is a myth is not strong.  In my previous post I provided quotes from atheists who say themselves that Jesus is not a myth, nor does He originate from one.  No scholar, no historian would claim that Jesus and all He entails is a
myth.

///So you see, because the questions originated from a

conversation with someone who we are supposed to assign

credibility (a professor), the questions themselves must

have credibility. Sorry  that’s not how it works. The

questions are as the questions are: illogical trick

questions. If, as he claims, “the questions seek the truth

regarding the accusations against Christ,” then the

questions should have addressed the validity of Jesus

Christ, which they clearly did not.///

Sacerdotus replies:
The questions derive from a conversation.  They were not quoted verbatim.  I do not understand where he gets the idea that the questions do not address the validity of Jesus Christ when the very first one asks:
“You are to prove with evidence that Christmas is indeed a myth and that no such person named Jesus Christ was born or existed which instigated the formation of the world’s most
powerful religion.”

///Atheism, strictly speaking, does not “disqualify God as

a causal possibility,” as long as we are talking a

metaphysical, abstract concept of a “god” and not your

specific, petty, jealous, bitter, omniscient, “benevolent”

monstrosity of a “god.” Atheism is, again, in its simplest

form, “I don’t believe that story about your god.” It makes

no claims about the origins of the universe, and does not

assert the complete absence of higher forms of life, or an

intelligent creator of our universe. “Atheism” is not

believing your explanation. That’s it. There could very

well be a god. He might even be as vain and egotistical as

you claim he is, but I don’t believe you have any knowledge

of this god, and I don’t believe anyone who claims they do.

That is atheism. “I don’t believe you.” That’s all it is.

The dismissal of one explanation does not indicate

knowledge to the contrary. The dismissal of one explanation

indicates critical thought. Your explanation does not sound

legitimate, and although I do not personally know how the

universe began or how life began on this planet, I do not

believe that explanation. I don’t need to know the exact

mechanics behind the collapse of the Twin Towers to

disbelieve the ludicrous conspiracy theories circulating

around.///

Sacerdotus replies:
Atheism has many divisions under its umbrella.  The survey I am conducting currently shows this.  Not all atheists think the same. Some claim with confidence that there is no God whatsoever, others claim that they do not know whether God exists or not. Some say that God might exist, but not in the way religions define Him.

However, this challenge is not about atheism, but about the idea that those who represent it pay money to display on billboards – “Christmas is a myth.”  The dismissal of one explanation indicates knowledge of the matter because in order to make this conclusion, the evidence must have been analyzed first.  For example.  If I say that there is no way that OJ Simpson killed anyone, then I am speaking because I know something that is filtering my judgement which forces me to make this conclusion.  Decisions cannot be made without prior knowledge on the matter being decided upon.  I cannot choose to go left without knowing there is a right.  A lack of knowledge of what right would change my perception of what left is.  Similarly, I cannot know what cold is without experiencing its contrast.

//I addressed that point. None of those people met Jesus,

and only discuss Christians, not Christ. They do not offer

validation to the beliefs of Christians, they only discuss

the existence of Christians. This is proof of the age of

the religion itself, not proof of its core beliefs. He

offers quotes that support this.

Tacitus discusses Nero’s hatred for Christians, and

explains who the Christians are and what they believe.

Pliny the Younger also only describes who the Christians

are and what they believe. “They were in the habit of…”

They all say the same thing. They describe the Christians

and their beliefs, they do not provide testimony in support

of those beliefs. There are no eye witness accounts of

Jesus or any of his alleged miracles. The “witnesses of the

Gospels” were not witnesses, and not written by the

apostles whose names are attached. They are anonymous,

written many years later, and some clearly have more than

one author. Don’t take my word for it, I’m not a biblical

scholar. Read anything by Bart Ehrman, he’s the guy who

knows. His bio from Amazon:

Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books,

including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus

and God’s Problem. Ehrman is the James A. Gray

Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading

authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus.//

Sacerdotus replies:
A historical account does not need to be an autobiography in order to be a valid source.  Historians during the time of Washington or Lincoln did not need to be near them 24/7 in order for their accounts to have value.  The quotes provided mention Jesus. Tacitus mentions Christ as suffering at the hands of Pontius Pilate.  This is an account of an individual and what occurred to this individual at a point in time (reign of Tiberius).  Pliny the Younger describes how early Christians worshiped Christ.  Notice that Pliny the Younger calls Christ by that name and does not  infer that Christ was a myth or legend.  He is obviously aware that this Christ was seen as a God among men.  As a magistrate of Rome, he had to give a report to the empire.  This report had to be done carefully and accurately.

Again, no scholar negates the authenticity and validity of the Gospels as historical documents.  They have been proven to be worthy of historical study, not just religious.  Mark is the oldest Gospel and was written around 60 AD.  One of the reasons why the Gospels don’t date earlier is because the early Christians believed in the “parousia” or the second coming.  They did not find a need to document the events so soon if the end was coming soon.

//Whether or not Jesus was a man is not relevant. The issue

is whether he was divine, and there is a stark absence of

any supporting evidence. Thus, I can and do easily dismiss

any such claims of divinity.

It’s funny that in trying to dismiss my assertion that

Christmas is an amalgam of various customs from several

different pagan groups, Sacerdotus provides evidence of

exactly that. Thanks, buddy, for making my point for me.//

Sacerdotus replies:
It is indeed relevant.  This would prove He actually existed and that He was what He claimed He was – the
Messiah.  There is no absence of supporting evidence.  Pliny the Younger testified that the Christians worshiped Christ as a God.  No one will worship another man unless that man has demonstrated a superiority that no other mortal can match.  The customs you mentioned are not part of the Christmas
narrative and are dismissed.  The challenge does not mention secular customs that were added to the holiday.

//I think Sacerdotus got a little confused and forgot which

side he was arguing on. This was essentially my whole

point. Christianity “borrowed” various aspects of pagan’s

beliefs in order to “facilitate the conversion of pagans.”

“Oh, Odin has an eight-legged flying horse, and he delivers

gifts to good children at the winter solstice? Well, that’s

not actually Odin, it’s St. Nicholas. And he didn’t have

one 8-legged flying horse, he had eight individual flying

reindeer. See, we’re just like you!”//

Sacerdotus replies:
Nothing was borrowed.  You missed the point.  The Church in her wisdom assimilated the pagans into the fold by making a date that was the birth date of other gods to be the official date of the Son of the One and True God.  This made the transition easier from paganism to Catholicism.  The suggestion that Odin is “Santa Claus” is ridiculous.  This is the same thing that uneducated people try to do with Christ.  They seek to blend stories in order to present the claim that they are one in the same.  “Santa Claus” is the secular caricature of St. Nicholas of Tyra See here for more information: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2011/12/santa-is-real.html

//Christmas is not “an historical event,” because Christmas

is a recurring event. It happens every year. It has

historic roots, but to call it an historical event would

automatically confer the same description to all holidays.

Flag Day is an historical event. It also occurs once every

year. As does Diwali and Yom Kippur. Those must also be

historical events, and thus as true and factual as

Christmas. I hope Sacerdotus can see the faulty logic he is

employing here.//

Sacerdotus replies:
You have just contradicted yourself.  You state that “Christmas is not an historical event” and then state “that
it has historical roots.”  There is no faulty logic, just a straw man on your part.  “Christmas” in the challenge
refers to the holy day the Catholic Church celebrates.  It is not referring to the commercialized christmas with Santa Claus, snowmen, wreathes, trees, presents and all those things.  This is why you are confused.  Santa Claus, trees, decorations, snow men, carols etc are irrelevant to this challenge.  The challenge deals with the historical event that is celebrated on Christmas – the birth of the Son of God to a Virgin.

//For one thing, I don’t think anyone knows what the

“events surrounding Christmas” even are. What is the

celebration supposed to mean? Why the tree and the gifts

and the wreaths and the eggnog and the abominable music?

What events? Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of

Jesus’ birth, but Sacerdotus has already acknowledged that

that is an artificial connection made to ease the spreading

of Christianity to pagan groups who celebrated the winter

solstice. This isn’t really the point, but the way he

phrases his statements is what leads me to call him

disingenuous almost every time we interact.

The logic here is that since Ichabod Crane is a character

in a Washington Iriving novel, and we can trace his origin

to a specific author, we can eliminate him as a factual,

living person. This of course is completely fallacious

reasoning. We eliminate Ichabod Crane as a real person only

by providing enough evidence that the character in the

novel was not based on any real person. Usually, authors

explicitly state this to avoid any confusion. (and

lawsuits) So Sacerdotus reasons, because we can’t trace the

story of Jesus to a single author, therefore the story must

be completely accurate. This is an excellent argument

against historical accuracy, not for. Because the authors

of the New Testament are anonymous, and often

contradictory, it becomes hard to validate any of its

claims, much less all of them. But again, it is not

possible to disprove the existence of a human man named

Jesus living at the time Christians claim him to have

lived. As I’ve already made clear, this is irrelevant.

Claims of divinity are not believed, and that’s all that

matters.
It could also be said that the Vedas cannot be traced to a

single author, therefore Hinduism must be true. But I don’t

think Sacerdotus would willingly make that claim, even

though he does by his logic.///

Sacerdotus replies:
Are you serious?  The events surrounding Christmas are the birth of Christ, the manger/cave, shepherds, wise men etc.  The tree and other things are secular additions.  These have nothing to do with the events surrounding Christmas anymore than a birthday cake has to do with you coming out of your mother.

The Catholic Church and our separated brethren who celebrate Christmas do so in order to commemorate the birth of the Savior.  Again, you misunderstood the Dec. 25 tactic.  For
example.  If a biologist whose studies focus on evolution states that he/she found evidence that the first phase of evolution took place on Jan. 1 and that day is New Years for most of the world; eventually that date will become associated with the “first phase of evolution.”  This is what the Church did.  They took a date that pagans celebrated (remember pagans outnumbered the Church at the time) and transformed it into a different celebration which expedited conversion.

In regards to Ichabod Crane:  Did Washington Irving make any disclaimers regarding said individual?  If not, then the suggestion that Ichabod Crane could be a fictional character based on a real person is fallacious and unfounded.  This is the typical Reductio ad absurdum fallacy.

The difference between Christ and Crane is that the latter is known to be a fictional character.  This character exists specifically to entertain the plot of the story.  Christ is different.  Christ walked and lived among human beings.  No one ever called Christ a myth until the 18th century via the inferences of David Strauss.

Again, no scholar would make the suggestion that Christ was a mythological character.  The Vedas is known to originate from folk culture and was passed down orally using literary devices.  They are not of divine origin.  Hindus do not believe them to be the “word of Krishna.”  The Vedas are in a sense, a collection of philosophical and allegorical concepts based on what the people who wrote it learned as they matured in life.

///The United States really isn’t that clear. It states

that Congress won’t make any laws establishing an official

religion or prohibiting the practice of any religion.

Giving government workers the day off on Christmas is not

establishing Christianity as an official religion, or

making is more difficult for other religions to practice.

Regardless, let’s go with his logic here.

The United States government will not endorse any religion.
Christmas is a federal holiday in the United States.
?????
Which is a better conclusion: Christmas is therefore not

truly a religious holiday by its nature, or the United

States is secretly openly endorsing Christianity as the one

true religion?///

Sacerdotus replies:
I think that is clear enough.  The US government cannot endorse any religion as its own. The government cannot state that Judaism, Christianity or Islam is its official religion.  You misunderstood my argument, please reread it. I never said the establishment of the holiday was establishing Christianity as the official religion.

///There are no ministries for religions that haven’t been

practiced for almost 2,000 years, therefore Jesus! Sorry,

I’m not convinced by your argument. A nondenominational

theology department will teach and study all religions

equally. A Christian based theology department will teach

Christianity as truth. A Muslim based theology department

will teach Islam as truth. None of this “indicates the

veracity” of any religion. All this proves is that these

religions exist today (unlike the Greek and Roman

polytheistic belief systems), and that people continue to

study them. Also, it’s worth mentioning, that there are

countless university courses that study Greek and Roman

mythology. I’m sure these courses are labeled theology, as

well.///

Sacerdotus replies:
There are no ministries?  The Catholic Church has never had ministries?? Really??  Where have you been my friend?  Again, you missed my point…  The fact that theology departments exists shows that academia takes these faiths seriously.  Christianity, Islam, Judaism have real founders.  They are not religions that came together from fables or stories.  These are actual historically significant faiths that can be traced to a real individual who walked the earth.  Whether or not they teach truth is not relevant to this discussion.  No university will have courses that will teach Greek or Roman beliefs in the same way it teaches Christianity, Islam or Judaism.  We know Zeus, Jupiter etc are myths.

////We conclude with a change in topic. We move away from

Christmas specifically, and onto the idea of a personal

god.//

Sacerdotus replies:
This was part of the challenge.  If Jesus is not real and is a myth, then who the heck do people experience in their lives?  This is a more blunt way of asking.

//No, they haven’t. An answered prayer is a coincidence. It has been proven that prayer is ineffective. It has also been proven that prayer can be detrimental to your health.//

Sacerdotus replies:
Coincidence?  The math doesn’t add up when applying it to cases of answered prayers and its frequency   Studies by Dale Matthews and Sally Marlowe show otherwise.  The findings showed healing after prayer was done.

///I’ve already said subjective experience is not proof. People experience what they expect. Think you’ll see Jesus, see Jesus. Think you’ll see Vishnu, see Vishnu. Think Cortes in his shiny armor riding his horse is the return of Quetzalcoatl, have your entire civilization exterminated. A person’s expectations color their perception. This is not proof of your god.//

Sacerdotus replies:
To psychologists it is.  Psychologists need to learn of these experiences in order to study the phenomenon   It may not be proof to you, but to social scientists, they are.  When I say personal experiences, I mean the spiritual life of the person, not visualizing certain persons.

//Here is an oft-repeated claim for which there is NO evidence. How do you know that there is only one god listening? Maybe they’re all listening, but only to their respective followers. Perhaps the Hindu gods only have power over Hindus and regularly interact in their lives. Perhaps Jesus only has authority over Christians and can only intervene in their lives. These are claims which are not supported by any evidence, and there is no reason to believe them. That’s why I don’t believe any of them.///

Sacerdotus replies:

Well think of it this way.  What are the chances that Leonardo Da Vinci and “John Doe” will paint the Mona Lisa at the same exact time, in the same exact manner?

If there were more than one God, there would have been multiple “big bangs” instead of one originating from a SINGULARITY.

Your analogy with Christ and Hindu gods is ridiculous.

1) Hindu gods are known to originate from folk religion.
2) Jesus Christ was an actual man who lived among us and founded the Catholic Church upon Peter the Rock.
3) Who answers prayers, Krishna or Jesus?  I invite you to try it.  Pray to Jesus and Krishna, see who answers.  Go ahead, I dare ya. 😉

///And this has never happened. Not once. Therefore, no miracles have occurred, and any claims to the contrary are erroneous.///

Sacerdotus Replies:

Are you serious?  Miracles happen all the time. Visit Medjugorje and you will actually see them.  Had you lived in St. Padre Pio’s time (60’s), you would have seen the miracles God performed through him.  Visit the shrines around the world where the Blessed Mother appeared and see for yourself the miracles.

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