Is Jesus a Myth as Atheists Claim?

Earlier this month, The Christian Post reported that the American Atheists group had sponsored billboards in several states as a part of the group’s “You KNOW It’s a MYTH” campaign. The billboards display pictures of Jesus, Santa Claus and devil images and ask, “What myths do you see?”¹

The promotion of Jesus as a myth has long been a tactic of atheists. But what are the facts?

Too often people don’t know how to respond to the assertions of atheists that Jesus never existed. An example of this was a 2005 Larry King interview with Ellen Johnson, then president of American Atheists.

“Well, I’m here to give the reality point of view, I guess, “ declared Ellen. “Because the reality is, there is not one shred of secular evidence there ever was a Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and Christianity is a modern religion. And Jesus Christ is a compilation from other gods: Horas [sic], Mithras, who had the same origins, the same death as the mythological Jesus Christ.”

Johnson and a blue-ribbon panel of religious leaders were discussing the question, “What happens after we die?” on a Larry King Live CNN broadcast. The usually unflappable King paused reflectively and then replied, “So you don’t believe there was a Jesus Christ?”

With an air of certainty, Johnson responded, “There was not. It is not what I believe; there is no secular evidence that JC, Jesus Christ, ever existed.”

King had no follow-up and went to a commercial break. No discussion of any evidence for or against Jesus’ existence was forthcoming. The international television audience was left wondering.²

Fifty years earlier, in his book, Why I Am Not a Christian, atheist Bertrand Russell shocked his generation by questioning Jesus’ existence. He wrote: “Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about Him, so that I am not concerned with the historical question, which is a very difficult one.”³

Is it possible that the Jesus so many believe to be real never existed? How can we know for sure that this man, whom many worship and others curse, was real? Is Johnson right when she asserts that Jesus Christ is a “compilation from other gods”? And is Russell right when he says that Jesus’ existence is “quite doubtful”?

For the answers to these questions, continue reading “Was Jesus a Real Person?”

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¹ The Christian Post, “‘You Know It’s a Myth’ Atheist Billboard Campaign Shows Jesus With Santa Claus,” December 1, 2011.  http://www.christianpost.com/news/you-know-its-a-myth-atheist-billboard-campaign-shows-jesus-with-santa-claus-63679/

²  Ellen Johnson and Larry King, “What Happens After We Die?” Larry King Live, CNN, April 14, 2005,  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0504/14/lkl.01.html.

³ Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1957), 16.