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Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Jesus Christ | 5 comments

Searching For The Historical Hercules

While most people today don’t believe Hercules was actually born of a virgin or was half god, there is universal agreement among Zeus-worshiping scholars that there was a real historic Hercules. In fact, only those who have an anti-Zeus bias reject the historicity of Hercules.

University of Notre Dame Philosophy professor Gary Gutting, recently wrote an article in the New York Times arguing against the atheistic view toward Zeus. He argues that Zeus very well may have actually existed. I think that if Zeus existed, than Hercules must have existed too. If we were to reject the historicity of Hercules, then we would also have to reject the historicity of Socrates, Plato, Jesus, and Bill Clinton.

Gutting has a PhD. in Philosophy of Religion. He studies religions for a living. This isn’t just a faith-based opinion; he is an expert and a scholar. So Fox News should stop embarrassing itself by questioning his faith. His article is a scholarly work by someone who has a PhD in Religion! This is what he does for a living. He has a PhD in the Philosophy of Religion. PhD! PhD! PhD! While you may never have heard of him, among Zeus scholars in America, he is kinda a big deal.

Okay, this shit is about to get real. No one takes any claims about a historical Hercules or a historical Zeus seriously. Why? Because it is ridiculous to believe that there were such figures in history and there is zero contemporary evidence to support claims of their existence. Zeus was alleged to be a deity hiding out on Mount Olympus. No one saw him. Hercules was at least alleged to be a half person, but still there is no reason to believe that his exploits were based off any real person. Yahweh and Jesus are much the same. They are purely fictional characters – who are we going to look for next, the historical Superman? You don’t know that there wasn’t someone named Clark living in Kansas.

Despite the fact that there are zero contemporary accounts of Jesus and all we have are the Gospels and some vague references to someone called “the Christ” in writings written many years after his alleged death (which may have even been forged), there is nothing and yet we have scholars and experts (mostly Christians) who assert that there must have been a historical figure that these fanciful tales were based on. Why?

Go ahead and ask them for some evidence; I dare you. You will get a barrage of anger Christians telling you that these people are experts and scholars and that even though we have contemporary accounts both praising and criticizing Plato and Socrates by people who knew them, that we would have to immediately stop teaching all of Plato’s works because there is allegedly more evidence for a historical Jesus than there is for Plato. Really? I don’t think that is true and even if it were true, we could still teach the books, we could just add a footnote saying that we don’t know who actually wrote them.

Okay, where is the evidence? The answer is the authoritative word of PhD scholars like Reza Aslan and others. In fact, the belief in a historical Jesus is apparently “universally accepted” by theologians and Christian historians. There is more evidence for a historical Jesus than there is for Socrates, Plato, Hercules, and Bill Clinton!

Okay, where is the evidence? Repeat. These people have PhDs! They are scholars and therefore have authority. There is just one problem; the evidence is where the real authority lies and there is no evidence that Jesus or Hercules were anything more than fictional characters. If you strip Hercules of his half-godness, why would anyone accept anything else about his exploits as possibly true? Same thing applies to Jesus. If you strip him of his supernatural magic, then why would anyone take seriously anything else from the story?

Why is it merely assumed and asserted that there must have been some historical figure at the core of the stories without any real evidence to back up such claims?

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  • SmilodonsRetreat

    Having read some articles on this recently, I was shocked by what is considered “nearly unimpeachable evidence” of Jesus. Here’s the various methods (from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_for_the_historical_Jesus)

    In order to analyze biblical passages, Käsemann introduced the criterion of dissimilarity, that compares a gospel passage (e.g. a statement by Jesus) to the Jewish context of the time, and if dissimilar, places weight on its being on safe ground.[39]

    During the second quest the criterion of embarrassment was also introduced.[5] This criterion states that a group is unlikely to invent a story that would be embarrassing to themselves.

    The criterion of historical plausibility was introduced in 1997.[5] This principle analyzes the plausibility of an event in terms of components such as contextual plausibility and consequential plausibility, i.e. the historical context needs to be suitable, as well as the consequences.[5] In recent research, the criterion of plausibility has found favor among scholars over the criterion of dissimilarity, and accounts that fit the historical context are viewed as more likely to be valid.

    The criterion of rejection and execution was developed in 1985.[5] It is quite different from other criteria and does not directly point to individual saying or act of Jesus as authentic, but focuses attention on the fact that Jesus was rejected by the Jews and executed by the Romans and then asks what words and deeds would fit into this scenario.

    The criterion of congruence (also called cumulative circumstantial evidence) is a special case of the older criterion of coherence.[47] The criterion of coherence, also called the criterion of consistency and conformity, looks back at what has already been established as historical, and tests if a new hypothesis is consistent and coherent with what is already known.

    That’s is. That’s how Bible “scholars” have determined that Jesus is real. It’s because he would have embarrassed the people of the time, and his actions were relevant to the world at the time. The rest is just assuming what they want to be true and then finding supporting evidence.

    Using those pieces of logic, I don’t see how we could accurately judge whether Bill Clinton existed or not.

    I honestly don’t know how anyone can use these criteria to judge the historical accuracy of anything.

    • Jim Jones

      I compare the gospels to Superman comic books. They parallel quite nicely, leading to the conclusion that either Superman is real or Jesus isn’t.

  • f_galton

    There is one tiny part of the Hercules legend that to me indicates the stories are based on a historical figure.

  • Oo

    Congrats, you literally said nothing in an entirely too long post that has nothing to do with any evidence towards a historical figure who may have inspired the character of Heracles. I hope you blog nonsense for an eternity in Tartarus. Also, no, I’m not defending the existence of Jesus, I agree completely, however the title is completely misleading and I hate you for that. Better luck next time.

    -the Motherfucker

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      I think you missed the context of this post which was written in August of last year. It was a satire about Reza Aslan’s Fox News appearance. When he kept pointing out that he was a religion scholar and that he does this for a living.

      As for the title of the article, it fits the article completely. The article is about the silliness in a claim to search for an historical Jesus by showing the silliness of searching for an historical Hercules. Sorry you didn’t like the article. If you like, I’ll refund your money. ;-)