Of all the horrible memes, the most horrible is the meme that there is some doubt over the existence of Jesus. It comes in many forms: the “Jesus Myth” and the” Multiple Jesus” hypothesis are perhaps the most popular. Proclaiming themselves to be enlightened and educated, many “New Atheists” have joined ranks with astrologers and the Flat Earth society.
The meme is horrible because to believe it one must be wilfully blind to the methods of historical study. To abandon history is to lose sight of our identity and to lose all hope of wisdom. It is immoral, because if we can rewrite history on a whim we can absolve Hitler of guilt for the Holocaust or devote ourselves to racist myths.
Agnostic Bart Ehrman deals with the issue quite decisively here:
And sets out a brief response in this Huffington Post article. Greg Boyd responds to Bill Maher’s “rationalist” delusions here. Ben Witherington deals with the imagination of another “sceptic” here.
Historian James Hannam has the best online responses to the Christ Myth theory. He explains why we can trust Josephus, dispenses with alleged parallels in pagan mythology and evaluates the evidence from Paul’s letters.
But, critically, he explains why denying the existence of Jesus would mean abandoning the historical method altogether. Our evidence for Jesus’ existence is better than the evidence for Hannibal! And he argues that one might as well doubt the historical Shakespeare!