Part 2 of Cent addressing atheists takes us back to May of this year, just as the big debate with Brian Flemming was wrapping up. If you didn't read it "live," it is worth your time to head over to the Debate Blog and have a look.
OK: before I bore you all to tears with addenda to the last exchange on DBlog, I have one last thing I want to talk about and then we can get back to more important stuff – like making fun of other Christians and antagonizing bloggers with more traffic than this site.
Brian Flemming said this:
I should mention that the above essay merely skims some conclusions that I have reached in my own research. This essay is by no means a comprehensive representation of the mythicist case, nor is The God Who Wasn't There, which is merely an introduction to the case. Earl Doherty, Robert M. Price, Richard Carrier and others (none of whom I speak for here) have made the case and various facets of it more comprehensively and far better than I can. I would encourage readers of the DebateBlog to experience these works directly, especially if you fear them.
The underlined part there is what grabs my attention.
See: when a Christian expresses the Gospel, there is no doubt that part of the message is about something scary. After all, we’re talking about a savior, right? And a savior is not someone who saves us from ice cream or from endearing friendship, is it? No: if we are talking about a savior, he must be saving us from something bad. The definition of “savior” is “one that saves from danger or destruction”; if we want a savior, or need a savior, or are talking about a savior, we are talking about something else dangerous that, frankly, we should have some kind of apprehension over.
In order to deliver the Gospel, we have to deliver the bad news, the danger that all men are facing without Christ. And part of that news is that Christ himself is coming back as the judge of all men. So the choice we are offering is that there is danger, that Christ can deliver you from the danger, but that if you reject His help He will be the judge who makes sure that you do not escape the danger – the punishment of your sin.
So in one way, we are saying, “You should fear this person Jesus – let me tell you about him.”
But in what way should I fear Doherty, Price, Carrier, or any of Flemming’s experts? Let me admit that I think Earl Doherty is a scary guy, but not in a way that makes me want to give him a bigger slot in my PDA’s calendar. In the best possible case for Flemming and his war on Easter, these fellows offer a truth which is a hollow victory for rationalism.
What do I mean by that? I mean that even if their case is not like trying to carry a pound of boiled angel hair pasta on a KFC spork, and that in fact they can prove that there’s no Jesus, they offer nothing to compete with the positive implications in faith in Christ.
For example, Brian was obliging enough to offer this in his last answer to me at the DebateBlog:
Growing up Christian and attending Christian schools, I heard about Jesus a lot. No doubt some of the values I hold I first learned from Jesus, if only by default.
So, what in Christianity has been "beneficial or worthwhile" to me? I guess it would be those things that I grabbed from between the nasty bits and made part of my own value system.
Now: that is a huge concession by any atheist. I’ll go on-record to say that I have never heard any atheist make that kind of concession while in a debate over the existence of God or Jesus.
But it is large enough that it leaves the door wide open to asking: so how will atheism fill that gap after the abolition of Jesus?
If atheism offers nothing to those who cannot self-actualize, it also offers nothing regarding a sustaining moral direction -- not because atheists today are bad people who have vicious ideas of right and wrong, but because the way they learned about right and wrong is the very thing they are attacking.
The source of western values is Christian philosophy; the way those values have been taught for millennia has been Christ and the Bible. If we count those things as the great evil lie which Eusebius and his ilk fabricated out of the hodge-podge of legends started by disgruntled Jews who wanted to be more like the pagans around them, the methods of instilling moral behavior in the next generation are gone.
Unless Brian knows something that no other atheist has been able to explain in the last 150 years. You see: you can’t throw out the Jesus but keep his wardrobe and expect to wear it as if it has always been yours. It doesn’t fit you, and everyone can spot a kid in hand-me-downs from a mile away. And nobody I know is afraid of a kid who’s wearing second-hand shoes.