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Tyronehster
 
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Reply to Gareth Ludeman

31 July 2012, 15:18

Hi Gareth. As promised, here is my, rather lengthy, reply to your questions. I’m sorry to have taken so long, but a lot of my research has come from books, so I’ve had to spend a fair amount of time doing the research.

Firstly, a bit of background. I’ve been a Christian for thirty-two years, but was, until then, an aggressive, banner-waving atheist or, to be honest, a Christian baiter and God-hater. I had all the answers, being brought up in a nominally Christian home, and being taught the little my parents knew about the Bible. The old saying, a little knowledge…?

My dad had the entire Time Life collection of books on the origins of life, the universe and everything (apologies to Douglas Adams) and I used to devour these books. They made so much more sense than the creation story.

So when God revealed Himself to me in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, I ran. I wanted nothing to do with these weirdoes, but eventually I succumbed and thirty-two years later I’m still serving Him.

Onto your first point. There were no eyewitness accounts, and there is no proof that Jesus existed as portrayed. I’m treating these two questions together, as it seems the logical path to follow here. I’ll start with Flavius Josephus. ‘At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.’ I personally did not use the more popular or contentious quote, as some historians believe Christians later altered the text, even though no evidence exists for such a claim.

The Jewish Talmud, compiled between 70 and 95 AD. ‘On the eve of the Passover Yeshua was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.’

Thallus 52 AD. Although his works exist only in fragments, Julius Africanus debates Thallus' explanation of the midday darkness which occurred during the Passover of Jesus' crucifixion. Thallus tries to dismiss the darkness as a natural occurrence (a solar eclipse) but Africanus argues (and any astronomer can confirm) a solar eclipse cannot physically occur during a full moon due to the alignment of the planets.
Phlegon of Tralles, a 2nd century secular historian, also mentions the darkness and tries to dismiss it as a solar eclipse. He also states the event occurred during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
‘On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness. The rocks were rent by an earthquake and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the Passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour falls on the day before the Passover. But an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time...’ Phlegon.

And perhaps the most damning of all, as it comes from one of the great Roman historians, and an avowed enemy of Christianity. He was not an eyewitness, but writing from hostile eyewitness accounts.

CELSUS (~ 178 A.D.) Celsus was a second century Roman author and avid opponent of Christianity. He went to great lengths to disprove the divinity of Jesus yet never denied His actual existence. Unfortunately for Celsus, he sets himself up for criticism by mimicking the exact accusations brought against Jesus by the Pharisees which had already been addressed and refuted in the New Testament. There are two very important facts regarding Celsus which make him one of the most important witnesses in this discussion:

Though most secular passages are accused of being Christian interpolations, we can accept with certainty this is not the case with Celsus! The sheer volume of his writings (specifically designed to discredit Christianity) coupled with the hostile accusations presented in his work dismiss this chance immediately.

The idea of Celsus getting his information entirely from Christian sources (another recurring accusation against secular evidence) is wholly absurd. Though he is obviously aware of his opponents' beliefs (as anyone who is engaging in a debate should be), Celsus wrote his exposition in the form of a dialogue between a "Jewish Critic" and himself. This gives us cause to believe he used non-Christian (probably Jewish) sources.

On Jesus' Miracles: ‘Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain [magical] powers... He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god... It was by means of sorcery that he was able to accomplish the wonders which he performed... Let us believe that these cures, or the resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves... These are nothing more than the tricks of jugglers... It is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of [miraculous] power...’
Not only does Celsus confirm Jesus' existence, he also tries to debate the source of Jesus' miracles. Like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, Celsus tries to dismiss these miracles as both demonic possession and cheap parlour tricks. However, he is clearly grasping at straws: On one hand Celsus accuses Jesus of performing magic learned in Egypt, then later states it is by the power of possession, then states the miracles were not really miracles at all but were illusionary tricks performed by a deceiver, then finally states the miracles never occurred!
On the Virgin Birth: ‘Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her hands. His mother had been turned out by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a Roman soldier named Panthera]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard.’
Celsus acknowledges Jesus' birth and existence but does not accept the concept of a virgin conception. He tries to dismiss Mary's premarital pregnancy as the result of an affair she had with a Roman soldier. Strangely enough, there is a very similar passage in the Jewish Talmud which makes the same accusation. This gives us reason to believe Celsus might have referenced Jewish sources for some of his arguments.
On the Apostles: ‘Jesus gathered around him ten or eleven persons of notorious character... tax-collectors, sailors, and fishermen... [He was] deserted and delivered up by those who had been his associates, who had him for their teacher, and who believed he was the saviour and son of the greatest God... Those who were his associates while alive, who listened to his voice, and enjoyed his instructions as their teacher, on seeing him subjected to punishment and death, neither died with nor for him... but denied that they were even his disciples, lest they die along with Him.’

Celsus' intentions were to argue that if the disciples really believed Jesus was the Son of God, they would not have forsaken Him at His arrest. Instead, he only ends up confirming the Biblical account! The Bible tells us when Jesus was arrested, the apostles denied being His followers. It was only upon Jesus' resurrection they understood the spiritual principles concerning Jesus' crucifixion and boldly went out to preach the Gospel. Celsus is also wrong with his statement, [they] neither died with nor for him. We are told by early historians all but one of the remaining apostles were killed for their faith.
On Jesus' Divinity: ‘One who was a God could neither flee nor be led away a prisoner... What great deeds did Jesus perform as God? Did he put his enemies to shame or bring to an end what was designed against him? No calamity happened even to him who condemned him... Why does he not give some manifestation of his divinity, and free himself from this reproach, and take vengeance upon those who insult both him and his Father?’

Celsus ridicules Jesus for the exact same reasons the Pharisees of His time ridiculed Him- if Jesus was the Son of God, why didn't He save Himself from the cross? Neither Celsus nor the Pharisees understood the spiritual implications of Jesus' death to atone for sin. Celsus also asks why no judgment came upon the Jews but history shows shortly after His death Jerusalem was invaded by the Romans, the Jewish temple was destroyed, and the Jewish people were dispersed for almost 2,000 years!
John the Baptist ‘If any one predicted to us that the Son of God was to visit mankind, he was one of our prophets, and the prophet of our God? John, who baptized Jesus, was a Jew.’

Celsus confirms Jesus' baptism by John but asserts that John was the only one who actually prophesied His coming- not the Old Testament
On the Crucifixion: ‘Jesus accordingly exhibited after His death only the appearance of wounds received on the cross, and was not in reality so wounded as He is described to have been.’

In this statement, Celsus confirms Jesus' death by crucifixion although he claims the only wounds Jesus received were those inflicted by the crucifixion (thus denying any previous torture had taken place). But not even history offers Celsus the benefit of a doubt as floggings were the standard form of torture given to victims prior to crucifixion. Celsus contradicts himself yet again when he later states Jesus was probably never even crucified but instead had an impostor die in His place!

Here you ask that I provide evidence of fulfilled prophecies. I am going to only provide prophecies which can be verified by outside sources, as many modern historians try to post-date the prophecies.

Some time before 500 BC, the prophet Daniel proclaimed that the long-awaited Messiah would begin His public ministry 483 years after the issue of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26)He further predicted that the Messiah would be cut-off (killed), and that this event would take place prior to the second destruction of Jerusalem. Abundant documentation from both Persian sources and Herodotus show that these prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In about 70 AD, Titus destroyed Jerusalem.

Isaiah 44-23-28.

“This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord,
the Maker of all things,
who stretches out the heavens,
who spreads out the earth by myself,
25 who foils the signs of false prophets
and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
and turns it into nonsense,
26 who carries out the words of his servants
and fulfills the predictions of his messengers,

who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’
of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’
and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’
27 who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry,
and I will dry up your streams,’
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’

Isaiah made this prophecy one hundred and fifty years before Cyrus was born and again, it’s borne out by both Persian sources and Herodotus in his Histories. Now we cannot prove that it was written one hundred and fifty years before the birth of Cyrus, but Daniel did show it to Cyrus after the death of Isaiah. And Cyrus did order Jerusalem to be rebuilt.

Now we move forward to the prophecies concerning Jesus, as these can in no way be post-dated. In about 350 BC, Ptolemy the Great carried out Alexander’s wishes that all the great works of the world be translated into Greek. Amongst these was the Torah or, as we know it, the Old Testament.

Psalm 22. A Psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honour him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfil my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

This was written about 800 BC, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it was an invention of the Jews. They did not order their book translated into Greek, and it was done three hundred and fifty years before Jesus was born!

Edom was a land that constantly persecuted the Jews and God warned them, through Jeremiah what their fate would be.

Jeremiah 49: 15-20.

“Now I will make you small among the nations,
despised by mankind.
16 The terror you inspire
and the pride of your heart have deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks,
who occupy the heights of the hill.
Though you build your nest as high as the eagle’s,
from there I will bring you down,”
declares the Lord.
17 “Edom will become an object of horror;
all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff
because of all its wounds.
18 As Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown,
along with their neighboring towns,”
says the Lord,
“so no one will live there;
no people will dwell in it.

19 “Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets
to a rich pastureland,
I will chase Edom from its land in an instant.
Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this?
Who is like me and who can challenge me?
And what shepherd can stand against me?”

20 Therefore, hear what the Lord has planned against Edom,
what he has purposed against those who live in Teman:
The young of the flock will be dragged away;
their pasture will be appalled at their fate.

This is Petra, and all the inhabitants of the area believe it to be haunted. No-one will spend the night there, and it is inhabited by wild animals. Again, this happened before 350 BC, but it remains in that state today. I would class that as a fulfilment of prophecy.

Jesus fulfilled eighty of over two hundred prophecies. The only ones not fulfilled were thos that are still to take place. The chance of that happening? 1 in 10 to the power of 15. A chance so minimal so as to be classed impossible.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a fairly compelling one. If you like, I can recommend a list of reading materials where you can check these things for yourself.

Quantum evidence of Jesus walking on water. We exist in three dimensions: four, if you include time. That, however, does not mean that those are all the available dimensions, as attested to by Max Planck. We and the atoms in the structures around us vibrate at different frequencies so, in essence, if we could attune our frequencies, alter our limitations, there is no reason not to be able to walk on water, or walk through a door.

For evidence of how solid water can be, do a belly flop. People who jump off bridges in order to commit suicide know how solid that water is. If we could move in six dimensions, we could move in these ways, as our atoms would then be under our control, in a sense, and made to vibrate in a way that would allow us to either walk on water or pass through solid material.

This is a very basic explanation of a very complex subject and, to quote David Deutsch, ‘If you think you understand Quantum Physics, it just proves you don’t.’

And to quote someone anonymous, ‘Why do clever people doubt, and stupid people not?’

Next point, the global flood. Again, I’ll quote extra-biblical sources.

In Greek Mythology Deucalion was a son of Prometheus ; ancient sources name his mother as Clymene, Hesione or Pronoia. The anger of Zeus was ignited by the hubris of the Pelasgians, and he decided to put an end to them. Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, had sacrificed a boy to Zeus, who was appalled by this savage offering. Zeus loosed a deluge, so that the rivers ran in torrents and the sea flooded the coastal plain, engulfed the foothills with spray, and washed everything clean. Deucalion, with the aid of his father Prometheus, was saved from this deluge by building a chest.

Like his Biblical equivalent Noah and Mesopotamian counterpart, Utnapishtim he uses his chest to survive the deluge with his wife, Pyrrha.

In various Hindu traditions, Manu, is a title accorded to the progenitor of mankind, and also the very first king to rule this earth, who saved mankind from the universal flood. He was absolutely honest which was why he was initially known as "Satyavrata" (One with the oath of truth). His wife is Satarupa (Shatrupa).

Now we cross another ocean, this time to South America, where they had their own flood story . One of the most significant surviving Mesoamerican literary documents and primary sources of knowledge about Mayan societal traditions, beliefs and mythological accounts is a product of the 16th century K'iche' people. This document, known as "Pop wuj" in proper K'iche - "the book of events" and originally written around the 1550s, contains a compilation of mythological and ethno-historical narratives known to these people at that time, which were drawn from earlier pre-Columbian sources (now lost) and also oral traditional storytelling. This narrative includes a telling of their version of the creation myth, relating how world and humans were created by the gods, the story of the divine brothers, and the history of the K'iche' from their migration into their homeland up to the flood and the salvation of a husband and wife, who repopulated the earth.

All of these accounts were said to have occurred around the same time. Of all these accounts, only one has a ship with the right dimensions, in a land-locked country. To me, it’s the only one that makes any sense.

Then there is the geological evidence of a global flood. And just for the record, I’m not of the opinion that the earth is six thousand years old. Ice-core samples from the Antarctic prove that to be wrong.

Nevertheless, one of the strongest pieces of evidence for a worldwide flood is the existence of what Dutch Geologist Nicolaas Rupke termed ‘polystrate fossils.’ Such fossils are found all over the world. They usually consist of fossil trees that were buried upright, and which often traverse multiple layers of strata such as sandstone, limestone, shale, and even coal beds. They range in size from small rootlets to trees over 80 feet long.  Sometimes they are oblique in relation to the surrounding strata, but more often they are perpendicular to it. For example, at Joggins, Nova Scotia, polystrate tree (and root) fossils are found at various intervals throughout roughly 2,500 feet of strata. Many of these are from 10-20 feet long and at least one was over 40 feet long. Very few of these upright fossil trees have attached roots, and only about 1 in 50 have roots and rootlets attached. Many of these roots and rootlets, are also buried individually. This strongly suggests that these trees did not grow in the same places where they were buried, but rather were uprooted and re-deposited there.

Similar circumstances occur at various other places in Nova Scotia, as well as in the United States, England, Germany, and France. Another place where large tree stumps are preserved without their roots attached is Axe Heiberg Island in Northern Canada.

This speaks to me of catastrophism and not uniformitarianism, as these trees could not possibly have survived the millions of years it would take for the rock strata to slowly and eventually encapsulate them.

And although there is much data on buried trees in the geological literature, most of it is over 100 years old, and difficult to access. One of the few articles on this subject was by Rupke, and in it he comments that:

‘Personally, I am of the opinion that the polystrate fossils constitute a crucial phenomenon both to the actuality and the mechanism of cataclysmic deposition. Curiously a paper on polystrate fossils appears to be a 'black swan’ in geological literature. Antecedent to this synopsis a systematic discussion of the relevant phenomena was never published. However, geologists must have been informed about these fossils. In view of this it seems unintelligible that uniformitarianism has kept its dominant position.’

This is disingenuous at best, and deceptive at worst. What are they trying to hide? The best, and most reasonable excuse I can think of, is that uniformitarianism and evolution are so closely linked, that an error in one would expose an error in the other.

Dr. Guy Berhault had this to say: ‘Regarding uniformitarianism, you can take it with a grain of salt. After reviewing geology texts on the subject of turbidites, I am following my courageous professor's advice. To paraphrase his words, I am taking uniformitarianism with a grain of sand, for the philosophy of uniformitarianism states that sedimentary layers form over many millions of years, while ... recent research has shown that turbidites form within a few hours.’

As we observe sedimentary strata throughout the world we see almost everywhere flat-lying (or "pancake") layered strata. Many of these layers are so extensive that they cover several states. Evolutionists believe that such layers were deposited slowly over millions and millions of years, or that they are simply 'river' deposits or river deltas. A growing number of geologists are beginning to see a problem with this interpretation. First because there is virtually no erosion between the layers and second, because the sheer size and extent of the strata suggests that the layers were neither formed by rivers, or river deltas. That's because many of the 'layers' are quite thick, and cover (literally) hundreds and even thousands of square miles, and in many instances are the size of the state of Utah, or even larger.

This, coupled with the presence of marine fossils that are buried in many of the layers, tells us that they were deposited by ocean currents (i.e. from a major, major Flood), like nothing we have ever seen before.

Then there is the case of fossilised whales. What is most interesting about it is how they were buried. In 1976, workers from the Dicalite division of Grefco Inc. found the remains of a baleen whale entombed vertically in a diatomaceous earth quarry.

‘They've found fossils there before; in fact the machinery operators have learned a good deal about them and carefully annotate any they find with the name of the collector, the date, and the exact place found. Each discovery is turned over to Lawrence G. Barnes at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The Whale, however, is one of the largest fossils ever collected anywhere... (It) is standing on end.. and is being exposed gradually as the diatomite is mined. Only the head and a small part of the body are visible as yet.

‘The modern baleen whale is 80 to 90 feet long and has a head of similar size, indicating that the fossil may be close to 80 feet long.’

‘In bogs covering glacial deposits in Michigan, skeletons of two whales were discovered ... How did they come to Michigan in the post-glacial epoch? Glaciers do not carry whales, and the ice sheet would not have brought them to the middle of a continent... Was there a sea in Michigan after the glacial epoch, only a few thousand years ago?’

‘Bones of Whale have been found 440 feet above sea level, north of Lake Ontario; a skeleton of another whale was discovered in Vermont, more than 500 feet above sea level; and still another in the Montreal-Quebec area, about 600 feet above sea level...’

In Mountains all over the world one can find sea shells and other marine fossils. These include the Sierras, the Swiss Alps, the Himalayas and many more.

In numerous places, rock strata are inverted, but the fossils are not. I believe quite simply, that the simpler organisms would have sunk to the bottom of the water at a faster rate than the more complex organisms, which would account, in a large part, for the fossil record.

I may have given you more evidence than you asked for, but it’s a vast topic, and would take a lot more than this forum to properly cover it.

It was a pleasure responding to your query.

Hi Gareth. As promised, here is my, rather lengthy, reply to your questions. I’m sorry to have taken so long, but a lot of my research has come from books, so I’ve had to spend a fair amount of time doing the research.

Firstly, a bit of background. I’ve been a Christian for thirty-two years, but was, until then, an aggressive, banner-waving atheist or, to be honest, a Christian baiter and God-hater. I had all the answers, being brought up in a nominally Christian home, and being taught the little my parents knew about the Bible. The old saying, a little knowledge…?

My dad had the entire Time Life collection of books on the origins of life, the universe and everything (apologies to Douglas Adams) and I used to devour these books. They made so much more sense than the creation story.

So when God revealed Himself to me in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, I ran. I wanted nothing to do with these weirdoes, but eventually I succumbed and thirty-two years later I’m still serving Him.

Onto your first point. There were no eyewitness accounts, and there is no proof that Jesus existed as portrayed. I’m treating these two questions together, as it seems the logical path to follow here. I’ll start with Flavius Josephus. ‘At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.’ I personally did not use the more popular or contentious quote, as some historians believe Christians later altered the text, even though no evidence exists for such a claim.

The Jewish Talmud, compiled between 70 and 95 AD. ‘On the eve of the Passover Yeshua was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.’

Thallus 52 AD. Although his works exist only in fragments, Julius Africanus debates Thallus' explanation of the midday darkness which occurred during the Passover of Jesus' crucifixion. Thallus tries to dismiss the darkness as a natural occurrence (a solar eclipse) but Africanus argues (and any astronomer can confirm) a solar eclipse cannot physically occur during a full moon due to the alignment of the planets.
Phlegon of Tralles, a 2nd century secular historian, also mentions the darkness and tries to dismiss it as a solar eclipse. He also states the event occurred during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
‘On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness. The rocks were rent by an earthquake and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the Passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour falls on the day before the Passover. But an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time...’ Phlegon.

And perhaps the most damning of all, as it comes from one of the great Roman historians, and an avowed enemy of Christianity. He was not an eyewitness, but writing from hostile eyewitness accounts.

CELSUS (~ 178 A.D.) Celsus was a second century Roman author and avid opponent of Christianity. He went to great lengths to disprove the divinity of Jesus yet never denied His actual existence. Unfortunately for Celsus, he sets himself up for criticism by mimicking the exact accusations brought against Jesus by the Pharisees which had already been addressed and refuted in the New Testament. There are two very important facts regarding Celsus which make him one of the most important witnesses in this discussion:

Though most secular passages are accused of being Christian interpolations, we can accept with certainty this is not the case with Celsus! The sheer volume of his writings (specifically designed to discredit Christianity) coupled with the hostile accusations presented in his work dismiss this chance immediately.

The idea of Celsus getting his information entirely from Christian sources (another recurring accusation against secular evidence) is wholly absurd. Though he is obviously aware of his opponents' beliefs (as anyone who is engaging in a debate should be), Celsus wrote his exposition in the form of a dialogue between a "Jewish Critic" and himself. This gives us cause to believe he used non-Christian (probably Jewish) sources.

On Jesus' Miracles: ‘Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain [magical] powers... He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god... It was by means of sorcery that He was able to accomplish the wonders which He performed... Let us believe that these cures, or the resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves... These are nothing more than the tricks of jugglers... It is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of [miraculous] power...’
Not only does Celsus confirm Jesus' existence, he also tries to debate the source of Jesus' miracles. Like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, Celsus tries to dismiss these miracles as both demonic possession and cheap parlour tricks. However, he is clearly grasping at straws: On one hand Celsus accuses Jesus of performing magic learned in Egypt, then later states it is by the power of possession, then states the miracles were not really miracles at all but were illusionary tricks performed by a deceiver, then finally states the miracles never occurred!
On the Virgin Birth: ‘Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her hands. His mother had been turned out by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a Roman soldier named Panthera]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard.’
Celsus acknowledges Jesus' birth and existence but does not accept the concept of a virgin conception. He tries to dismiss Mary's premarital pregnancy as the result of an affair she had with a Roman soldier. Strangely enough, there is a very similar passage in the Jewish Talmud which makes the same accusation. This gives us reason to believe Celsus might have referenced Jewish sources for some of his arguments.
On the Apostles: ‘Jesus gathered around him ten or eleven persons of notorious character... tax-collectors, sailors, and fishermen... [He was] deserted and delivered up by those who had been his associates, who had him for their teacher, and who believed he was the saviour and son of the greatest God... Those who were his associates while alive, who listened to his voice, and enjoyed his instructions as their teacher, on seeing him subjected to punishment and death, neither died with nor for him... but denied that they were even his disciples, lest they die along with Him.’
Celsus' intentions were to argue that if the disciples really believed Jesus was the Son of God, they would not have forsaken Him at His arrest. Instead, he only ends up confirming the Biblical account! The Bible tells us when Jesus was arrested, the apostles denied being His followers. It was only upon Jesus' resurrection they understood the spiritual principles concerning Jesus' crucifixion and boldly went out to preach the Gospel. Celsus is also wrong with his statement, [they] neither died with nor for him. We are told by early historians all but one of the remaining apostles were killed for their faith.
On Jesus' Divinity: ‘One who was a God could neither flee nor be led away a prisoner... What great deeds did Jesus perform as God? Did he put his enemies to shame or bring to an end what was designed against him? No calamity happened even to him who condemned him... Why does he not give some manifestation of his divinity, and free himself from this reproach, and take vengeance upon those who insult both him and his Father?’
Celsus ridicules Jesus for the exact same reasons the Pharisees of His time ridiculed Him- if Jesus was the Son of God, why didn't He save Himself from the cross? Neither Celsus nor the Pharisees understood the spiritual implications of Jesus' death to atone for sin. Celsus also asks why no judgment came upon the Jews but history shows shortly after His death Jerusalem was invaded by the Romans, the Jewish temple was destroyed, and the Jewish people were dispersed for almost 2,000 years!
John the Baptist ‘If any one predicted to us that the Son of God was to visit mankind, he was one of our prophets, and the prophet of our God? John, who baptized Jesus, was a Jew.’
Celsus confirms Jesus' baptism by John but asserts that John was the only one who actually prophesied His coming- not the Old Testament
On the Crucifixion: ‘Jesus accordingly exhibited after His death only the appearance of wounds received on the cross, and was not in reality so wounded as He is described to have been.’
In this statement, Celsus confirms Jesus' death by crucifixion although he claims the only wounds Jesus received were those inflicted by the crucifixion (thus denying any previous torture had taken place). But not even history offers Celsus the benefit of a doubt as floggings were the standard form of torture given to victims prior to crucifixion. Celsus contradicts himself yet again when he later states Jesus was probably never even crucified but instead had an impostor die in His place!

Here you ask that I provide evidence of fulfilled prophecies. I am going to only provide prophecies which can be verified by outside sources, as many modern historians try to post-date the prophecies.

Some time before 500 BC, the prophet Daniel proclaimed that the long-awaited Messiah would begin His public ministry 483 years after the issue of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26)He further predicted that the Messiah would be cut-off (Killed), and that this event would take place prior to the second destruction of Jerusalem. Abundant documentation from both Persian sources and Herodotus show that these prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In about 70 AD, Titus destroyed Jerusalem.

Isaiah 44-23-28.

“This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord,
the Maker of all things,
who stretches out the heavens,
who spreads out the earth by myself,
25 who foils the signs of false prophets
and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
and turns it into nonsense,
26 who carries out the words of his servants
and fulfills the predictions of his messengers,

who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’
of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’
and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’
27 who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry,
and I will dry up your streams,’
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’

Isaiah made this prophecy one hundred and fifty years before Cyrus was born and again, it’s borne out by both Persian sources and Herodotus in his Histories. Now we cannot prove that it was written one hundred and fifty years before the birth of Cyrus, but Daniel did show it to Cyrus after the death of Isaiah. And Cyrus did order Jerusalem to be rebuilt.

Now we move forward to the prophecies concerning Jesus, as these can in no way be post-dated. In about 350 BC, Ptolemy the Great carried out Alexander’s wishes that all the great works of the world be translated into Greek. Amongst these was the Torah or, as we know it, the Old Testament.

Psalm 22. A Psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honour him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfil my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

This was written about 800 BC, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it was an invention of the Jews. They did not order their book translated into Greek, and it was done three hundred and fifty years before Jesus was born!

Edom was a land that constantly persecuted the Jews and God warned them, through Jeremiah what their fate would be.

Jeremiah 49: 15-20.

“Now I will make you small among the nations,
despised by mankind.
16 The terror you inspire
and the pride of your heart have deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks,
who occupy the heights of the hill.
Though you build your nest as high as the eagle’s,
from there I will bring you down,”
declares the Lord.
17 “Edom will become an object of horror;
all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff
because of all its wounds.
18 As Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown,
along with their neighboring towns,”
says the Lord,
“so no one will live there;
no people will dwell in it.

19 “Like a lion coming up from Jordan’s thickets
to a rich pastureland,
I will chase Edom from its land in an instant.
Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this?
Who is like me and who can challenge me?
And what shepherd can stand against me?”

20 Therefore, hear what the Lord has planned against Edom,
what he has purposed against those who live in Teman:
The young of the flock will be dragged away;
their pasture will be appalled at their fate.

This is Petra, and all the inhabitants of the area believe it to be haunted. No-one will spend the night there, and it is inhabited by wild animals. Again, this happened before 350 BC, but it remains in that state today. I would class that as a fulfilment of prophecy.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a fairly compelling one. If you like, I can recommend a list of reading materials where you can check these things for yourself.

Quantum evidence Jesus walking on water. We exist in three dimensions: four, if you include time. That, however, does not mean that those are all the available dimensions, as attested to by Max Planck. We and the atoms in the structures around us vibrate at different frequencies so, in essence, if we could attune our frequencies, alter our limitations, there is no reason not to be able to walk on water, or walk through a door.

For evidence of how solid water can be, do a belly flop. People who jump off bridges in order to commit suicide know how solid that water is. If we could move in six dimensions, we could move in these ways, as our atoms would then be under our control, in a sense, and made to vibrate in a way that would allow us to either walk on water or pass through solid material.

This is a very basic explanation of a very complex subject and, to quote David Deutsch, ‘If you think you understand Quantum Physics, it just proves you don’t.’

And to quote someone anonymous, ‘Why do clever people doubt, and stupid people not?’

Next point, the global flood. Again, I’ll start with extra-biblical sources.

In Greek Mythology Deucalion was a son of Prometheus ; ancient sources name his mother as Clymene, Hesione or Pronoia. The anger of Zeus was ignited by the hubris of the Pelasgians, and he decided to put an end to them. Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, had sacrificed a boy to Zeus, who was appalled by this savage offering. Zeus loosed a deluge, so that the rivers ran in torrents and the sea flooded the coastal plain, engulfed the foothills with spray, and washed everything clean. Deucalion, with the aid of his father Prometheus, was saved from this deluge by building a chest.

Like his Biblical equivalent Noah and Mesopotamian counterpart, Utnapishtim he uses his chest to survive the deluge with his wife, Pyrrha.

In various Hindu traditions, Manu, is a title accorded to the progenitor of mankind, and also the very first king to rule this earth, who saved mankind from the universal flood. He was absolutely honest which was why he was initially known as "Satyavrata" (One with the oath of truth). His wife is Satarupa (Shatrupa).

Now we cross another ocean, this time to South America, where they had their own flood story .One of the most significant surviving Mesoamerican literary documents and primary sources of knowledge about Mayan societal traditions, beliefs and mythological accounts is a product of the 16th century K'iche' people. This document, known as "Pop wuj" in proper K'iche - "the book of events" and originally written around the 1550s, contains a compilation of mythological and ethno-historical narratives known to these people at that time, which were drawn from earlier pre-Columbian sources (now lost) and also oral traditional storytelling. This narrative includes a telling of their version of the creation myth, relating how world and humans were created by the gods, the story of the divine brothers, and the history of the K'iche' from their migration into their homeland up to the flood and the salvation of a husband and wife, who repopulated the earth.

All of these accounts were said to have occurred around the same time. Of all these accounts, only one has a ship with the right dimensions, in a land-locked country. To me, it’s the only one that makes any sense.

Then there is the geological evidence of a global flood. And just for the record, I’m not of the opinion that the earth is six thousand years old. Ice-core samples from the Antarctic prove that to be wrong.

Nevertheless, one of the strongest pieces of evidence for a worldwide flood is the existence of what Dutch Geologist Nicolaas Rupke termed ‘polystrate fossils.’ Such fossils are found all over the world. They usually consist of fossil trees that were buried upright, and which often traverse multiple layers of strata such as sandstone, limestone, shale, and even coal beds. They range in size from small rootlets to trees over 80 feet long.  Sometimes they are oblique in relation to the surrounding strata, but more often they are perpendicular to it. For example, at Joggins, Nova Scotia, polystrate tree (and root) fossils are found at various intervals throughout roughly 2,500 feet of strata. Many of these are from 10-20 feet long and at least one was over 40 feet long. Very few of these upright fossil trees have attached roots, and only about 1 in 50 have roots and rootlets attached. Many of these roots and rootlets, are also buried individually. This strongly suggests that these trees did not grow in the same places where they were buried, but rather were uprooted and re-deposited there.

Similar circumstances occur at various other places in Nova Scotia, as well as in the United States, England, Germany, and France. Another place where large tree stumps are preserved without their roots attached is Axe Heiberg Island in Northern Canada.

This speaks to me of catastrophism and not uniformitarianism, as these trees could not possibly have survived the millions of years it would take for the rock strata to slowly and eventually encapsulate them.

And although there is much data on buried trees in the geological literature, most of it is over 100 years old, and difficult to access. One of the few articles on this subject was by Rupke, and in it he comments that:

‘Personally, I am of the opinion that the polystrate fossils constitute a crucial phenomenon both to the actuality and the mechanism of cataclysmic deposition. Curiously a paper on polystrate fossils appears to be a 'black swan’ in geological literature. Antecedent to this synopsis a systematic discussion of the relevant phenomena was never published. However, geologists must have been informed about these fossils. In view of this it seems unintelligible that uniformitarianism has kept its dominant position.’

This is disingenuous at best, and deceptive at worst. What are they trying to hide? The best, and most reasonable excuse I can think of, is that uniformitarianism and evolution are so closely linked, that an error in one, would expose an error in the other.

Dr. Guy Berhault had this to say: ‘Regarding uniformitarianism, you can take it with a grain of salt. After reviewing geology texts on the subject of turbidites, I am following the courageous professor's advice. To paraphrase his words, I am taking uniformitarianism with a grain of sand, for the philosophy of uniformitarianism states that sedimentary layers form over many millions of years, while ... recent research has shown that turbidites form within a few hours.’

As we observe sedimentary strata throughout the world we see almost everywhere flat-lying (or "pancake") layered strata. Many of these layers are so extensive that they cover several states. Evolutionists believe that such layers were deposited slowly over millions and millions of years, or that they are simply "river" deposits or river deltas. A growing number of geologists are beginning to see a problem with this interpretation. First because there is virtually no erosion between the layers and second, because the sheer size and extent of the strata suggests that the layers were neither formed by rivers, or river deltas. That's because many of the "layers" are quite thick, and cover (literally) hundreds and even thousands of square miles, and in many instances are the size of the state of Utah, or even larger.

This, coupled with the presence of marine fossils that are buried in many of the layers, tells us that they were deposited by ocean currents (i.e. from a major, major Flood), like nothing we have ever seen before.

Then there is the case of fossilised whales. It's true, but what is most interesting about it is how it was buried. In 1976, workers from the Dicalite division of Grefco Inc. found the remains of a baleen whale entombed vertically in a diatomaceous earth quarry.

‘They've found fossils there before; in fact the machinery operators have learned a good deal about them and carefully annotate any they find with the name of the collector, the date, and the exact place found. Each discovery is turned over to Lawrence G. Barnes at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The Whale, however, is one of the largest fossils ever collected anywhere... (It) is standing on end.. and is being exposed gradually as the diatomite is mined. Only the head and a small part of the body are visible as yet.

‘The modern baleen whale is 80 to 90 feet long and has a head of similar size, indicating that the fossil may be close to 80 feet long.’

‘In bogs covering glacial deposits in Michigan, skeletons of two whales were discovered ... How did they come to Michigan in the post-glacial epoch? Glaciers do not carry whales, and the ice sheet would not have brought them to the middle of a continent... Was there a sea in Michigan after the glacial epoch, only a few thousand years ago?’

‘Bones of Whale have been found 440 feet above sea level, north of Lake Ontario; a skeleton of another whale was discovered in Vermont, more than 500 feet above sea level; and still another in the Montreal-Quebec area, about 600 feet above sea level...’

In Mountains all over the world one can find sea shells and other marine fossils. These include the Sierras, the Swiss Alps, the Himalayas and many more.

In numerous places, rock strata are inverted, but the fossils are not. I believe quite simply, that the simpler organisms would have sunk to the bottom of the water at a faster rate than the more complex organisms, which would account, in a large part, for the fossil record.

I may have given you more evidence than you asked for, but it’s a vast topic, and would take a lot more than this forum to properly cover it.

It was a pleasure responding to your query.

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