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Atheists for Jesus - Comments

Andrew Charles's Avatar Comment 1 by Andrew Charles

I agree with Prof Dawkins' sentiments...

However, in the interests of science (and in this this case, historical truth) it must be said that we cannot talk anymore about Jesus as an historical figure if we are intellectually honest with ourselves. Professor Dawkins, I have a book entitled "Did Jesus Ever Live?" by L. Gordon Rylands printed in the 1930's. I have never heard of him nor have I been able to find a copy of this book anywhere. Perhaps you could find a copy in England, where the book originated, otherwise I would gladly send you mine!

Mon, 04 Dec 2006 10:59:00 UTC | #9776

Nina's Avatar Comment 2 by Nina

The transformative power of doing good, "being nice'" is a well-known, though rarely discussed in secular media, consequence of following Christ and live as He preached. As an example, see the Mennonites in Pennsylvania, translating His word into action through forgiveness. Are they blind, stupid followers or rational people who freely choose to act a certain way based on their particular theistic view? Who would we rather have for a neighbor--them or you, Prof Dawkins?

Mon, 04 Dec 2006 11:36:00 UTC | #9779

heymrrain's Avatar Comment 3 by heymrrain


But, you see, 'Atheists For Jesus' puts forward the point of view of real people, some atheists, whereas 'Jesus Loves Atheists' is putting forward the point of view of a fictional character.

I may as well have a T-shirt with 'Ronald McDonald Loves Tennis', or 'Oliver Twist Loves Kenny G', it would mean about as much as 'Jesus Loves Atheists'.

Admittedly, I've not read Oliver Twist for many years, so there may be some point in the book where he professes a fondness for 'smooth jazz', and it's just slipped my mind.

But I doubt it.

And by the way, no, I can't prove that Ronald McDonald doesn't like tennis. But that doesn't mean he does.

Tue, 05 Dec 2006 07:46:00 UTC | #9838

Sancus's Avatar Comment 4 by Sancus

Holy crap. I didn't know this article was going to be about the singularity!

Professor D., if you were moved to "the core" by the good Holloway, you must check out Ray Kurzweil's theory of evolution... his latest book is "The Singularity is Near" and you can see a sample chapter at

Wed, 06 Dec 2006 00:30:00 UTC | #9881

drbobsh's Avatar Comment 5 by drbobsh

I wonder if human "super niceness" would have existed in prehistoric times (i.e., those times in which natural selection did actually apply to humans). Human "super niceness" would more likely be an artifact of our more advanced society. One then wonders if HSN is an emergent property of advanced intelligent societies, and/or a necessary condition for long term survival of a life form.

Sat, 09 Dec 2006 00:15:00 UTC | #10195

michaelmichael's Avatar Comment 6 by michaelmichael

Having reached an atheistic outlook, I began to wonder where logic would take me when re-examing the story of Jesus. If there is no God then Jesus must clearly have lied when he claimed to be the son of God. If the laws of physics are immutable then clearly Jesus, either alone or more likely in concert with others, was being deceitful when he claimed to have performed miraculous cures, resurrections and other miracles like walking on water.

A serious study of what Jesus actually said leads a person to one of three conclusions about him: He was either a liar, an insanely deluded madman, or the Messiah, the Son of God. It is ridiculous to simply take the position that he was just 'a good teacher' and a nice person.

Atheists should NOT be for Jesus.

Fri, 30 Mar 2007 22:05:00 UTC | #26466

Shane McKee's Avatar Comment 7 by Shane McKee

Oh dear - the old fake trichotomy again - mad/bad/god. A couple of comments on this: firstly, it is extraordinarily insulting to anyone who has had mental illness, and is just a reinforcement of old Victorian stereotypes of the "insane". CS Lewis (for it was he) should have been ashamed of himself for coming up with it.

Secondly, it completely ignores the possibility that Jesus may have felt he was being called upon to do god's work in what he said, just like the zillions of religious people that inhabit our planet. I think it's safer to use the term delusion, like RD does.

Thirdly, there is the issue of Jesus being misreported. The Gospels are riddled with contradictions and non-sequiturs, yet one thing Jesus very explicitly did *not* do was go around proclaiming himself to be the messiah - other people tended to do that on his behalf (most notoriously Saul of Tarsus, the syncretist fanatic.

Fourthly, even if Jesus *did* claim to be "The Son Of God", it is not entirely clear (in fact it is extraordinarily unlikely, nay impossible) that he would have believed it to mean that he was "divine" - in fact, in several reported passages, he explicitly *denies* it. So *even if* he was the Jewish Messiah, there is no reason to make the daft leap into thinking that he was claiming divinity. And Messiahs (even resurrected ones) were two a penny back then. It's not Jesus' fault that his subsequent "followers" distorted not only his message and ethic, but his very person.

Jesus was Jewish, following in the tradition of the Galilean Hasid (read "Jesus the Jew" by Geza Vermes for further enlightenment on this). He was not the first to come up with his ideas, but they did seem to strike a chord. In fact, if anything (according to the bible) Jesus took the blasphemy challenge, and with the parable of the Good Samaritan made it very clear that *religion* is entirely unimportant; it is our ethic towards our fellow man/woman that is important.

Jesus needs rescued from Christians; whether that should be by Jews or atheists is an open question. To say that he was "a good person" is more than adequate.

Personally, I think that if Jesus had been around today, he would have been an atheist.

Sat, 31 Mar 2007 02:12:00 UTC | #26480

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 8 by DavidMcC

Richard: "Let's put it even more bluntly. From a rational choice point of view, or from a Darwinian point of view, human super niceness is just plain dumb."
I see religion, and, separately, morality as manifestations of emotion in modifying what would otherwise be "cold reason". Yet emotions are clearly a mixed bag of things that appeal and don't appeal to us atheists. When it comes to science, one needs cold reason, but we cannot always apply it in politics, otherwise we could become murderous machines - social animals without the positive social emotions of morality. It is regrettable that emotion gets applied to politics through religion instead of directly.

Sat, 31 Mar 2007 03:22:00 UTC | #26491

Enda80's Avatar Comment 9 by Enda80

"If the laws of physics are immutable then clearly Jesus, either alone or more likely in concert with others, was being deceitful when he claimed to have performed miraculous cures, resurrections and other miracles like walking on water."
That is a good point by Michaelmichael, one that McKee did not answer.
Of course, the problem is that in his article Mr. Dawkins did not clarify which doctrines or sayings of Jesus he felt were authentic and which were not.

"What was interesting and remarkable about Jesus was not the obvious fact that he believed in the God of his Jewish religion, but that he rebelled against many aspects of Yahweh's vengeful nastiness. At least in the teachings that are attributed to him, he publicly advocated niceness and was one of the first to do so."

For the latter, I doubt that with Confucius, the Buddha, Lao-Tzu, and others living centuries before the alleged Jesus he could be one of the first. However, I should note that Dawkins and many others would be wrong in thinking of the Biblical Jesus as nicer than the Hebrew Bible deity. In fact, the Biblical Jesus is worse. Why? He brings Hell into the Biblical picture!

The Hebrew Bible god killed people, but did not condemn them to eternal suffering. That idea does nto show up until the New Testament in the generally canonical Bible.

Also, the Biblical Jesus taught the imminent end of days.

Sat, 31 Mar 2007 05:10:00 UTC | #26503

Enda80's Avatar Comment 10 by Enda80

Note that the Biblical Jesus did teach that unbelief in him would lead to damnation and that there was a Gehenna/Hell. The Biblical Jesus also taught the concept of evil, with the idea of the Devil and the end of days. These were not parables or symbolic, as rendering them symbolic leaves them meaningless, and besides, what do liberals use these stories to teach? Most people today encourage planning one's life, not waiting for the fortuitous deus ex machina (literal or figurative). The fact that liberals do not often use these passages only shows how little they recommend themselves for figurative interpretation.

It seems incongruous to maintain that the Biblical Jesus was great or the greatest moral guide when one must dispose of so much of his thought.

Sat, 31 Mar 2007 05:17:00 UTC | #26504

Enda80's Avatar Comment 11 by Enda80

I also seriously doubt that the Biblical Jesus ever says that he thinks the stories from the Hebrew Bible are just myths or parables.

Sat, 31 Mar 2007 05:20:00 UTC | #26505

Homo economicus's Avatar Comment 12 by Homo economicus

At the Leicester Secular Society (oldest in the UK) one of the busts on the wall is Jesus. A humanist interpretation of his life is possible. Meaning from his life does not need miracles; it does need a good heart and a willingness to die for those you consider sinners.

Not a heart full of hatred wanting non believers going to a burning hell. Shame on those that do not aspire to the love of Jesus and call themselves Christians!

Sun, 08 Apr 2007 09:48:00 UTC | #28120

simplemind's Avatar Comment 13 by simplemind

Michealmicheal good point Enda80 said it all for me.
Jesus!? are you seriously going to adopt it for an atheist role model?
If he did exist then be my guest follow him. isnt that what christains aren doing?
Im an atheist and do not wish to be associated to anything biblical or from my culture kuran.
super nice will evovle when we leave blind faith and ignorance behind.

Sun, 08 Apr 2007 11:19:00 UTC | #28126

GreatCanadianAtheist's Avatar Comment 14 by GreatCanadianAtheist

Well I don't really think Jesus ever actually existed in any form, but I'm not sure, and I do agree that a lot of the things he was supposed to have said in the NT are pretty good moral lessons.

If you toss out all the nonsensical stuff he was supposed to have done, you end up with a fairly consistently good set of moral lessons. Well as far as I know!

I'm not sure if I would wear the T-shirt, although it might be a good way to start a conversation about stuff. I do agree that we need to find some persuasive way to spread "super niceness".

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 19:30:00 UTC | #29679

TXS.R.D.'s Avatar Comment 15 by TXS.R.D.

I agree with Dr. Dawkins. From what I've experienced as a theist 'shapeshifting' into an atheist, and having interacted with quite few atheists in my life, especially during last year, I'd think ethics-wise atheism and Christ are very compatible. In fact if Christ were to come back today, morally speaking, I'd bet he would endorse atheists before he would look in the direction of Christians and the rest of the others. Why? because most Chrisitans nowadays(and the others) are more into using Christianity to serve their own agenda as opposed to using themselves to serve Christ as he commanded.

As far as Christ's miracles. I believe he at least performed few of them. He was very focused man. From experience, I do know that the power of focus is almost unframable. Also, Christ is known for his love, and forgiveness (aside from what he has been quoted to say, as I believe, he must have been mis-quoted on numerous occasions); We, as humans have those qualities. In working to lay a base to how he could have done that. I'd say isn't it said that we, as humans only use 10% of our brain capacity? ...look how far we've come. Wouldn't it also be safe to presume that we might be deploying only about as much (10%) when it come to Love and Frogiveness we could actually deploy in all directions and for all reasons at all? I would answer very possibly. Knowing that love is the fondation of all good things in life and forgiveness is a powerfull mending, regenerating, re-inforcing force. And also knowing that Christ, via many testimonials, was an exceptionally gifted guy, I would dare to assume that his capacity for flawless love and and forgiveness could have been the primary ingredients in him being able to perform what he has.

Mon, 16 Apr 2007 21:52:00 UTC | #29888

FreeFromDelusion's Avatar Comment 16 by FreeFromDelusion

This is a joke, right?

What has Jesus got to do with ethics? He called a woman who was not of his 'chosen' race 'a dog' and refused to heal her, and only did so when she begged and pleaded (like a dog)!

'Do for others as you would have them do for you' is a good maxim, but this was around way before Jesus.

We should be encouraging people to embrace love as a goal for its own sake, not because some supposedly divine figure who had a load of myths written about him endorsed it!

This slogan will only make theists think that are endorsing their way of thinking!

Thu, 26 Apr 2007 09:29:00 UTC | #32598

TXS.R.D.'s Avatar Comment 17 by TXS.R.D.

We are not endorsing anything. Speaking about endorsing, to insure that one does not fall in the same tiny train of believing what has been said about Jesus and what he, has been quoted as saying; being atheist, it is safe not to cherry pick what one wants to believe is or is not true about Jesus. An example, the typical believer for example might believe, based on what's in the bible, that jesus is "the Light of the world", you as an atheist do seem to believe, and yes, based on what's in The Book, the very same book known as "the bible", that part about the woman being treated like a dog!!! what does really differenciate you from a believer? You too seem to believe, just not the same parts.

Fri, 27 Apr 2007 10:05:00 UTC | #32943

TXS.R.D.'s Avatar Comment 18 by TXS.R.D.

...and beside, dismissing jesus as god has nothing to do with endorsing him as teacher. What are teachers known to do (think about Dawkins for a sec if you're lost)? they are typically known to pass on what they have been taught, added to their own contributions to the following generations. jesus has more than generously done so, if he has been mis-quoted to the point where todays reader is not able to put in the proper context what Jesus might have actually said 2000 years ago, since the bible has been "written and re-written" numerous times since, Jesus shouldn't be blamed for that.

Fri, 27 Apr 2007 10:17:00 UTC | #32946

Barak's Avatar Comment 19 by Barak

The doctrines attributed to Jesus are not ethical in the slightest - they merely encourage gross hypocrisy.

Since when is failing to defend oneself from unprovoked attack ("turning the other cheek") ethical behaviour? Dawkins claims to be an "atheist for Jesus", but if I were to walk up to him in public and punch him in the face, would he turn around and willingly be punched again on the opposite side of his face? No, he wouldn't. He would attempt to defend himself, or demand that the police do so on his behalf. He would then insist on my being subjected to the processes of the judicial system.

Atheism will not be served by adopting a de-theised version of Christian hypocrisy. Ethical doctrines - whether deontological, utilitarian, virtue oriented or some combination of these - should be argued on their merits, and not linked to the hypocritical doctrines of a possibly historical figure widely admired by delusional theists.

Sat, 05 May 2007 15:53:00 UTC | #35176

TXS.R.D.'s Avatar Comment 20 by TXS.R.D.

Re-read and re-re-read his article, I think you completely missed his point.

Sun, 06 May 2007 21:58:00 UTC | #35459

michaelmichael's Avatar Comment 21 by michaelmichael

TXS.R.D. stated; "dismissing jesus as god has nothing to do with endorsing him as teacher". Fair comment, and yet I do choose to dismiss Jesus as a teacher.

That is not to say he didn't teach some good moral lessons. No, my point is that he was duplicitous and dishonest regarding his very identity. He raised the hopes of the Jewish people at that time and his story has fraudulently raised the hopes of billions of suffering people over the past two millenia.

Why do we call this liar the 'Good Teacher' and why in the name of reason, rationality and humanity would any moral person - atheist or believer - say that they are 'for Jesus'?

Not this atheist.

Mon, 14 May 2007 06:42:00 UTC | #37697

miguelcortes's Avatar Comment 22 by miguelcortes

Jesus was a cult leader. His group showed all the characteristics of a dangerous cult. His philosophy of passiveness and acceptance, might be good for helping very arrogant people in the short term, but in the long term you are creating an army of passive slaves. I don't think it's good to go to the extreme of super niceness, it's simply not in our best interest.

Sat, 19 May 2007 10:25:00 UTC | #39998

Jabie's Avatar Comment 23 by Jabie

'What was interesting and remarkable about Jesus was not the obvious fact that he believed in the God of his Jewish religion, but that he rebelled against many aspects of Yahweh's vengeful nastiness. At least in the teachings that are attributed to him, he publicly advocated niceness and was one of the first to do so. To those steeped in the Sharia-like cruelties of Leviticus and Deuteronomy...'

In light of the Gospel accounts of Jesus this statement is positively ridiculous, all the more so for a man who claims to believe what he does because of 'evidence'. What evidence do you have that Jesus rebelled from scripture? Every criticism he had of the pharasees and other leaders was in regard to their misuse and unlawful additions to scripture to burden the people. You flipantly disregard Jesus' belief in God as though it were unavoidable at the time of his birth, but on what authority do you base this? If: 'Accounts of Jesus's resurrection and ascension are about as well-documented as Jack and the Beanstalk'.( Does this mean that the accounts of Jesus being 'super nice guy' and yelling at the religious leaders are factual because you like them, and that the parts where he is crucified and resurected are false because you don't? His ministry was boun up with scripture and spirituality. I dare you to remove him from religion using the evidence available.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 18:12:00 UTC | #46046

flying goose's Avatar Comment 24 by flying goose

As to whether or not Jesus existed, I don't know of any current New Testament historians who would dispute his existence. Would he be an atheist if he lived today? He doesn't live today, in the flesh at least, so how can we know? Of course in his own day the Romans would have regarded him as an athiest, he didn't believe in idols. Slippery word atheist. That said I liked the article. If Richard Dawkins wants to be an atheist for Jesus, its a free country.

Fri, 17 Aug 2007 12:29:00 UTC | #60737

?'s Avatar Comment 25 by ?

I read this article a while back in Free Inquiry and enjoyed it. I also liked the book Jesus for the Non-Religious by Spong and some of Crossan's books on the Historical Jesus (he's an expert on early Christian history and a radical ex-monk with a very modern non-supernatural theology).

One can read the Gospels, edit out the obvious supernaturalism and demonology and come up with the idea of Jesus as an idealistic reformer and lover of the oppressed.

However, someone else could easily paint the portrait of an insignificant minor cult leader with no original ideas who influenced history only because his name was attached to a later, successful sect founded by Paul.

Jesus apparently died without writing a book or gathering a large following (twelve full-time followers, perhaps several dozen regular hangers on and the occasional admiring audience of a few hundred), so its easy to make him over in a variety of ways.

Maybe this is part of the appeal. He is a sort of floating, achetypal image of an "ideal man" who's handful of known aphorisms and parables can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways.

Fri, 17 Aug 2007 14:09:00 UTC | #60754

psikeyhackr's Avatar Comment 26 by psikeyhackr

In a rather interesting way Jesus was quite similar to atheists.

It is obvious from the gospels that he was regularly attacking religious leaders. Atheists don't mention the possibility that God thinks organized religion is stupid trash. Organized religion is just some people pretending they know more about God and metaphysical reality than everyone else and brainsoiling children into adopting their delusions of grandeur.


Tue, 18 Sep 2007 20:53:00 UTC | #67990

Roy_H's Avatar Comment 27 by Roy_H

Jesus was a jerk......

This is a very thought-provoking website!

Tue, 18 Sep 2007 21:34:00 UTC | #67994

Richard Morgan's Avatar Comment 28 by Richard Morgan

Shane McKee:
Personally, I think that if Jesus had been around today, he would have been an atheist. sounds a lot like "personally, I think that if Jesus had been around today, he would not have believed in himself."

"Atheists for Jesus" T-shirts are interesting in the same way as those T-shirts vaunting the fact that Carrefour is an "official sponsor" for the Rugby World Cup. Who is the winner in this unlikely association? Clearly it is Carrefour exploiting the popularity of Rugby in France.

So, who wants to wear a T-shirt exploiting the popularity of the Jesus myth? Atheists?
Aw, c'mon...
Why not "Vegetarians for MacDonalds" or "Greenpeace for Shell"?
This is certainly one of the silliest ideas to come out of that formerly brilliant biologist's mind.
Yes, I know, we're none of us getting any younger, but all the same...
Also, just a kindly word of warning here:

Could we achieve exponential amplification of the numbers of super nice people?
"We" being this generation? Or "we" being the followers of Richard Dawkins?

Tue, 18 Sep 2007 23:15:00 UTC | #68005

Yussy's Avatar Comment 29 by Yussy

I don't think we necessarily need more 'nice' people in the world. But we could certainly do with more 'good' people.

A nice person is simply one that doesn't offend you. You know the type. They'll say something like, "I believe in a woman's right to choose".

On the other hand a good person, say somebody like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, with condemn an evil like abortion, but at the same time give her entire life over to the service of others.

Wed, 07 Nov 2007 20:19:00 UTC | #82106

BAEOZ's Avatar Comment 30 by BAEOZ

We've got a live one here! Thinks abortion is evil and Mother Teresa was good.

Wed, 07 Nov 2007 20:25:00 UTC | #82107