Dear Letters Editor,
No, David Penberthy, you’re incorrect; the life of Jesus is not “a historical fact” (David Penberthy, The Advertiser, 18.4.14). You may not be aware that an army of Biblical historians and theologians concur; there is no historical evidence for Jesus, based on the “Bayesian Method” — the only credible technique for any type of historical research.
The Gospels of the New Testament refer to only narrow second hand snapshots of the adults life (and death) of Jesus and were written up to 120 years after the alleged death. And by unidentified authors. The Gospels only came together in 382 CE under Pope Damasus who had them translated into Latin — from many “divergent and re-copied” manuscripts in Greek.
But historians tracking back to the earliest Greek and Hebrew texts, and all the chroniclers alive at the time in question (or shortly after) have no record of this particular Jesus of Nazareth. Even the “Flavian Testimony” which makes reference to a Jesus, by the chronicler Josephus, has been shown to be a fake, like the Shroud of Turin.
David is correct that “our society is defined by…endless consumption”. We can thank the market economy for that, and religion too, which is explained in detail by R. H. Rawney in “Religion and the Rise of Capitalism”. Yes, people may believe in whatever religion they choose but do not foist it on the whole community.
The answer is not more religion, but less. A good start would be to include “Secular Ethics” into all schools, based on the programs run in NSW public schools by the St James (non-religious) Ethics Centre. Rather than threatening Hell on kids who do not obey a bronze age doctrine, ethics teaches students to resolve myriad personal and modern social issues by negotiation. Reports from these schools show a 70% drop in ill-discipline, confrontation and bullying. Maybe it’s time for a change of focus in the 21st century.
Director, Plain Reason