Did Jesus Exist? Joseph Atwill Vs. Steven Crowder |386|

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YouTube’s Steven Crowder asked, Did Jesus Exist? Joseph Atwill answers.

photo by: Skeptiko

Today we welcome Joseph Atwill back to Skeptiko. Joe is the author of Caesar’s Messiah, he’s been on this show before, but I invited him back because I ran across this very popular video that asked the question, Did Jesus Exist? The video was published by the popular YouTuber Steven Crowder and I thought it was interesting not just from a Bible-geeky standpoint, but as a way of understanding this new Christian confidence that’s rising in response to satanic/pedo/globalism stuff that’s hung on many liberals these days:

Alex Tsakiris: I want to go back to the Steven Crowder thing, so I’m going to play the, We Proselytize Less.

Steven Crowder: You know I’m a Christian… I certainly would say, you know, ironically enough, we get a lot of comments from atheists with Alexa. I think I proselytize, we all proselytize far less than the skeptical atheists’ community now.

Alex Tsakiris: So, this is a point that I think you and I might have a different of opinion on, but I get what he’s saying. There’s this new force among Christians who have this political chutzpah now, that Jordan Peterson, Dinesh D’Souza, Steven Crowder and I would even throw my friend Rupert Sheldrake in the category of saying, “Yeah, I’m a Christian, so what? It’s not relevant. Listen to what I say and evaluate my opinions on these other topics because I’m right.” I don’t think we’ve seen that in a while and I think when we contrast that with some of the, I’ll use the term ‘libtard’ silliness, there’s a certain traction they get because the left and the liberal point of view has been so exaggerated and has lost any connection with logic or reason, but these Christians are standing tall in comparison. What do you think?

Joe Atwill: Well, I think that’s true and I think that there are a lot of Christians that, as you say, stand against globalism, can be seen in some way standing against globalism because they’re trying to retain the culture and religion in the smaller group. They don’t want to sacrifice that, their cohesiveness and their values as globalism is just evaporating all of this stuff and taking it over with this atheistic machine world.

But, I would just point out that Christians are actually fairly easy to herd into globalism and that part of globalism is that the slaves seldom know they’re being enslaved, because the controllers are very, very smart.

I’ll give one really good example, to show you my point, which is that the first, one of the first globalisms that was ever created was the feudal system, whereby all of the different ethnicities and races, cultures in Europe were globalized and you have basically a monolithic religion that was used to set up the slave state and the religion was Christianity. Christianity was the mind-control device that the oligarchs had at that time to be able to basically set up a system where people wouldn’t rebel because they believed that there would be this workers’ paradise, that they just believed the representative of the Pontiff Maximus, the Pope, who was just obviously a mask for the ruling families.

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skeptiko-Join-the-Discussion-3 Alex Tsakiris: This movement against globalism is being driven by people like Steven Crowder, Jordan Peterson, the other folks that I mentioned, if not driven by, if that’s the wrong word, it’s being fueled by, it’s finding a voice through these people who are saying, “I know one thing for sure, I don’t want to go down the globalist path,” and the globalist path and the atheist path are intertwined and have been intertwined for the last 20 years, they’re almost impossible to separate.

So, I’ve laid kind of a lot on the table, what do you think about some of that Joe?

Joe Atwill: I don’t agree with it. I don’t there’s any entwining between atheism and globalism.

Alex Tsakiris: Philosophically, I’m not taking about organizations cross-fertilizing each other, I’m talking about philosophically. It’s a lot easier to get to globalism if I say, “You’re a biological robot in a meaningless universe Joe. You really are not more. There isn’t a spiritual essence to you that we have to worry about. There isn’t a moral imperative that we have to worry about. Forget all of that, what we basically have to do is manage your resource, utilization and distribution and that kind of stuff.”

Joe Atwill: I see your point, I just don’t think it’s correct. I think that there are atheists on both sides of the question and that the idea about the existence of God is seldom in play. I actually think that many of the globalists are, sort of, quasi-spiritualists. I think, if you looked at like the recent spirit cooking rumors, well, the spirit cooking is real enough, whether or not the context that it came up in is correct, I don’t know, but…

Alex Tsakiris: What do you think the context is that it came up in?

Joe Atwill: It came up in Pizzagate, with the WikiLeaks. You suddenly found out that Marina Abramovic was inviting the Clinton’s and Podesta to these spirit cooking dinners.

Alex Tsakiris: Let’s dive off into that. Something that I thought, going into this, I thought I would not do. Let’s dive into that because that’s such a Joe Atwill topic. Tell me your thoughts.

Joe Atwill: Well, in the WikiLeaks, there’s no question. They’re talking about spirit cooking and they also talk about Thelema, and that’s very important. In fact, in one of the WikiLeaks, someone is asking John Podesta for, what they referred to as a Thelema favor and that favor incidentally is an audience with the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Now, Thelema is the name of Aleister Crowley’s satanic religion. It’s not a word that is understood by the common people.

Alex Tsakiris: Some people would challenge you on the notion that it was a satanic religion. I wouldn’t, but let’s just kind of…

Joe Atwill: Well, it’s just how we want to refer to it. I can explain why I would characterize it as satanic, but it is certainly… Crowley is relating to metaphysical concepts, Isis, and in fact spirit cooking is just a representation of what’s called the Cake of Light and the Cake of Light was a ritual of Thelema that Crowley developed, and it’s actually based upon [unclear 00:05:15]. This is the guy in the first century and it was just kind of a hedonistic celebration linked to some mystery cults.

Crowley has mystery cultism just throughout his description of what Thelema is, they’re just part and parcel, the same thing.

Alex Tsakiris: As long as you’re talking about Crowley, before we leave there, the thing I always bring up on Crowley is, he’s a despicable human being by any measure. Even the people who do biographies on him, even the people who support him, will always go, “Well, he’s got a lot of great writings. I would never want to be friends with Crowley. I would never want to participate in some of the dehumanizing, just completely abhorrent thing he did to his closest friends, supposedly. I don’t believe in that, but gee, aren’t some of his writings great.”

I think later, if we have time, we can talk about that, because I think that’s critical to, kind of sorting out our own spirituality and the one thing that I guess I say is, why would you follow, why would you model yourself off of someone who doesn’t represent the kind of life that you want to live? It’s like, as above, so below, as below, so above, kind of thing. If someone isn’t walking the talk, then why do I care what they’ve written, you know?

Joe Atwill: Well, I mean Crowley, I couldn’t agree more. He is despicable by any standard. He was a British agent. I think that the whole metaphysical presentation that he created was a deliberate attempt to pollute culture and thinking.

You have to really, to understand Crowley, it’s kind of a long process, but basically, the key point to Crowley is that he received a Masonic diploma, in other words, it’s kind of a get out of jail card that the Masons give to certain individuals and he received it from John Yarker, who was the 77th member of the Quatuor Coronati. The Quatuor Coronati is something that, if you don’t understand it, you’ll never understand the 20th century. It’s just a critical component.    

Alex Tsakiris: Tell me what you think about these bracketed realities and my contention that we really have to overlay them on top of each other to understand what’s going on, or maybe to appreciate how we really don’t understand or can’t possibly understand Aleister Crowley.

Joe Atwill: Well, I think you’re correct and I think that the, sort of the depth of understand that you’re attempting to get is multilayered, as you have described it, and it’s just distinct in, kind of the way that I use Crowley in my analysis, which is, basically I don’t believe I can get into his mind and soul to that depth. I’m more interested in individuals in history as to how they fit into the logic of history, how an understanding of them creates explanatory power.

So, I’m just a literary and historical analyst, these are just my hobbies, what I do with my time typically. So, that’s how I approach someone like Crowley.

As far as this deeper world, the psychological situations with his father, I always, just the way I look at these individuals, is I try to look in their backgrounds to see if there’s reason to put, what I would call an Asterix next to the claims that they make about themselves, because the idea that Crowley comes from a Christian family is what is given to us, but he then ends up under Masonic control.

One thing that I always would say is that if you…

Alex Tsakiris: Are you aware of who his father was? That guy was a whacky Christian.

Joe Atwill: Yeah.

Alex Tsakiris: No different than a lot of the whacky Christians we’ve seen out there, fundamentalist Christians who have these extreme beliefs. Why would we want to reimagine that back into this other bracketed reality? Why do we want to say…? Because sometimes, that’s a frustration I have with you, I feel like, rather than deal with the metaphysical part head-on, or at least putting it over to the side and saying, “Well, I don’t understand how the metaphysical is at play here,” that doesn’t mean we have to then try and retrofit that, back-fit that into the political understanding of what’s going on.

People have spiritual experiences and live their life according to those spiritual experiences. Sometimes those spiritual experiences are shown to be extremely unhealthy, detrimental, evil, whatever you want to say. Sometimes they’re inspiring at the deepest level where we all look at that person and go, “Wow, that person is living the kind of life that we can all admire.”   

So, I don’t think that automatically has to do be reduced down to, kind of this materialistic dual political understanding of what that means.

Joe Atwill: I agree. I look in the backgrounds of people because I’ve just seen the pattern occur over and over again and I feel if I don’t use my understanding of reality in this way then I would be amiss.

I’ll just give you examples. The Bush family, right? They are purported Christians. You see them worshipping all over the place but they’re also Skull and Bones members. So, I look at this secrecy that Skull and Bones maintains as having a political force. I mean, I could give you examples that are just incredible of how this little tiny organization has influence on our political history. When I see, in back of people who purport themselves as Christian, I just feel that you need to apply that question when you find someone as influenced as Crowley.

Remember, Crowley casts a long shadow. He is a crackpot but by god, a long shadow. When you can have Podesta being asked for a Thelema favor, which is to see the president of the United States, there is some kind of secrecy, something about Crowley that has entered into our political reality that the public is not aware of.

Then, at the same time, look at John Lennon saying that he was primarily influenced, the Beetles are basically a reflection of Crowley’s adage. Timothy Leary said that he really got going because of Crowley. So, this is a long shadow, which I don’t think that just the idea that Crowley’s mysticism was attractive to people. I just feel that there’s…

Alex Tsakiris: But Joe, that’s not what I’m saying. Crowley has a long shadow, what I’m saying is, maybe because Crowley was talking to the right spirits and those spirits are now influencing life on this world and this existence. I’m not saying I believe that but I’m saying, that is, in a lot of ways, is a stronger explanatory model than to say, “Oh, the Grand Masters have used the Crowley writings to orchestrate this political chessboard over hundreds of years.”

I do want to try and go back to the Steven Crowder thing, so I’m going to play the, We Proselytize Less.

You know I’m a Christian.

I certainly would say, you know, ironically enough, we get a lot of comments from atheists with Alexa. I think I proselytize, we all proselytize far less than the skeptical atheists’ community now.

Alex Tsakiris: So, this is a point that I think you and I might have a different of opinion on, but I get what he’s saying. There’s this new force among Christians who have this political chutzpah now, that Jordan Peterson, Dinesh D’Souza, Steven Crowder and I would even throw my friend Rupert Sheldrake in the category of saying, “Yeah, I’m a Christian, so what? It’s not relevant. Listen to what I say and evaluate my opinions on these other topics because I’m right.” That confidence, I don’t think we’ve seen in a while and I think when we contrast that with some of the, I’ll use the term ‘libtard’ silliness, there’s a certain traction they get because the left and the liberal point of view has been so exaggerated and has lost any connection with logic or reason, but these Christians are standing tall in comparison. What do you think Joe?

Joe Atwill: Well, I think that’s true and I think that there are a lot of Christians that, as you say, stand against globalism, can be seen in some way standing against globalism because they’re trying to retain the culture and religion in the smaller group. They don’t want to sacrifice that, their cohesiveness and their values as globalism is just evaporating all of this stuff and taking it over with this atheistic machine world.

But, I would just point out that Christians are actually fairly easy to herd into globalism and that part of globalism is that the slaves seldom know they’re being enslaved, because the controllers are very, very smart.

I’ll give one really good example, to show you my point, which is that the first, one of the first globalisms that was ever created was the feudal system, whereby all of the different ethnicities and races, cultures in Europe were globalized and you have basically a monolithic religion that was used to set up the slave state and the religion was Christianity. Christianity was the mind-control device that the oligarchs had at that time to be able to basically set up a system where people wouldn’t rebel because they believed that there would be this workers’ paradise, that they just believed the representative of the Pontiff Maximus, the Pope, who was just obviously a mask for the ruling families.

Alex Tsakiris: You totally, 100% nailed it. I just want to move on.

Joe Atwill: Okay, sure.

Alex Tsakiris: It’s a great, great point. You know, the one thing I’d remind people of is, what I’m really hoping we’re going to do in this dialogue we’re having is give folks a fresh idea, in terms of how to answer this question, did Jesus exist, on a deeper level than it’s normally presented, on a deeper level than Steven, despite me liking and admiring his work, the deeper level than he and other Christians are generally able to do.

So, with that, I’m going to move onto the second clip, the, ‘Have You Heard’ clip.

I had never even really heard that position, that people were legitimately out there saying that Jesus was not a historical figure.

Alex Tsakiris: Stop right there, say that again Gerald. A smart guy, a likeable guy, taught Christianity apparently, what Steven said, and you haven’t heard about people who think that maybe the historical account of Jesus isn’t what we’ve been told?

Well, he’s not conversant with modern scholarship, where the question of Jesus’ historicity is being waged.

Alex Tsakiris: As we enter into this discussion and talk about did Jesus exist and we dive into the nitty-gritty of their argument and some of the research you’ve done, I want people to understand and wrap their arms around the, who you should trust, question, because I’ve got to tell folks, I have to tell them this over and over again because I’m talking to Joe Atwill, author of Caesar’s Messiah and a guy who, despite the unbelievably fantastic and influential research he’s done, if you do an internet search on this guy you’re going to think he’s the most discredited, unworthy scholar in existence, and I have to tell you folks, it’s not the case. I’ve interviewed a bunch of well-recognized biblical scholars, I’ve brought up some of them that I’ve interviewed on the show. Robert Price. Gary Habermas. I’ve even tracked down Joe Atwill detractors.

The guy in the upper righthand corner, I found had written this incredibly hostile view of Joe’s work. I’ve tried to fair it out, Joe’s work, at every turn, and this guy, Atwill, I’m telling you, he always comes out on top, at least in terms of all of the work that I’ve done, and that’s from somebody who doesn’t even agree with his concluding that, from tip to stern, Christianity was invented by the Romans. What I believe is that the central thesis of Joe’s work is that we have to look for the Roman influence on Christianity to understand that. I’m totally onboard with that, I just am not totally onboard with some of his other conclusions. That doesn’t really matter that much, but I think it’s important for you all to understand that, in terms of talking about this question of, who should we trust? What scholars should we trust? How authoritative is this person and that person?

Joe Atwill: I agree. I think that ad hominin and appeal to authority are just common logical fallacies that are everywhere inside religious studies. Bart Ehrman talks about the fact that no serious professor of university even thinks that the idea of Jesus as being potentially a fictional character is possible. I mean, these are appeals to authority. I think, it’s a lot better just to stand on evidence and analysis and just let the public make their own mind up.

Alex Tsakiris: The next topic that I really wanted to throw on the table, which I think is so important, and it’s really a stunner when you think about it and that’s the, should Christians care?

Well, I mean, a lot of Christians don’t think you have to go through this process to figure out, was Jesus a real person or not? They mainly just give you that and focus on, what did he do and what did he say?

Alex Tsakiris: So again, should Christians care?

Joe Atwill: Well, if they want their faith to be based on something that’s real, they should care.

Alex Tsakiris: The question that I think people have to ask themselves is, am I part of an organization whose primary purpose is manipulation, control and social structure or am I following the wisdom of a genuine historical spiritual master who walked on this world? I do not understand for a second how a Christian can claim to be a Christian and not have this question be central to what they’re about, and I would go one step further. This is very Joe Atwillian, if you don’t care, then you’re so far into the mind-control project that is Christianity that you are probably a lost cause at the start. If this isn’t a burning question to you, you’re already bought into the cult aspect of the whole thing.

Joe Atwill: I couldn’t agree more. I mean, if this is an important question that means that reason has been turned off and that basically you are a cult follower even though you wouldn’t want to admit it publicly, but if you aren’t able to defend historicity of Jesus, in my opinion, some part of your intellect has been switched off that is central to living a rational life.

In fact, there was a rabid atheist, Bart Ehrman.

I hear you, from [unclear 00:23:23].

Yeah, read that quote.

With respect to Jesus we have numerous independent accounts of his life and the sources lying behind the gospels (and the writings of Paul. Sources that originated in Jesus’ native tongue, Aramaic, and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves.

Alex Tsakiris: Let me jump in here first with the Bart Ehrman thing, because this drives me nuts. It’s back to what I was saying about the, which Jesus do you want to prove or disprove ever existed? When Christians latch onto Bart Ehrman’s Jesus, I think they have no clue what they’re talking about.

Here’s a Duke University religious scholar, who seems very keen on targeting Christians for his books, yet he has this very overt, he calls himself an agnostic, but anyone can see that he’s really an atheist position that he holds, and his understanding, his conclusion of Jesus is this, kind of nomadic, very minor figure of the time who’s this rebel without a cause, fighting this little skirmished battle and is just one of thousands and thousands of rebels who are crucified at the time. There is nothing special about Jesus. You’ve got hell of a long way to go from Bart Ehrman, to Jesus Christ, son of God, savior of the world. A lot of people don’t realize that and it’s disingenuous, intellectually dishonest for people like Gerald in this argument to say, “Well look at, even Bart Ehrman says that Jesus existed.” He’s not pointing to a Jesus that any Christian could… you couldn’t build a religion on the Jesus that he’s pointing to and he’s constructing.

Joe Atwill: Yeah, I mean there’s three categories. You have Jesus was God, Jesus was a man and Jesus was a fictional character. The second two categories are equally destructive to the first. If he was just a man, then there shouldn’t be a Christian religion at this point. If he didn’t exist, it’s preposterous, so it doesn’t matter if a scholar is in camp two or camp three, it’s not something that can be used as the basis for a religion. They shouldn’t really be citing Bart Ehrman in this way. What they’re trying to do is to say, “We can attack the idea of Jesus being a fictional character, not with evidence of Jesus having been in existence and a God but rather there are scholars who believe that Jesus was a real man in the first century. So, that somehow this would perhaps daunt the third argument, which should have nothing to do with the promotion of the first, that he was God.

Alex Tsakiris: Let me go onto the next one.

The bible didn’t just fall out of the sky. These are writings from people over, literally thousands of years for the old/new testament combined that we, kind of pulled together. These are books. So, we can go to each one of these letters and say, “Is this a reliable source?” and put it under some scrutiny.

Alex Tsakiris: What I hear Gerald saying, “Hey, it’s an established fact, we know where these books came from, we know who authored them, so let’s move on and take the gospels at face value.” It’s a preposterous claim but what are the basic arguments that we can make about that?

Joe Atwill: The statement is simply incorrect. There is no agreement, whatsoever, from scholars about when they were written or by whom. The idea that it’s just self-evident and established scholarship is preposterous.

Alex Tsakiris: Okay, let’s leave it at that.

Now, we’re going to talk about Josephus. You and I could spend an hour on this because…

Joe Atwill: Yeah, good old Josephus.

Alex Tsakiris: I have these Skeptiko moments that I really, kind of cherish, and I still remember the moment in our last conversation I think it was, and you were talking through Josephus along the lines of the accepted narrative and then at some point you said, “You know, really Alex, it makes more sense to look at Josephus as a completely fictional character,” and that was just a drop the mic kind of moment for me, but let’s see what Gerald has to say here.

Let’s just go to historians from the time period, right? The first entry, a Jewish historian, Josephus. He mentions Jesus in his work, The Antiquities of the Jews, in the interpolated, and that word basically means, they weren’t inserted. They were some problems with the document saying that they had been changed. They were absolutely right, they had been, but we now have documents that weren’t, and we know that they were totally fine. He’s a first century Jewish historian, right? So, he’s not a Christian out there pushing his views of who Jesus was.

Alex Tsakiris: So much to pull apart and again, this is going to get a little bit bible geeky folks, but it’s the path you have to take if you care about looking at this question in a meaningful way rather than the spoon-fed way that we so often get.

Who was Josephus, Joe?

Joe Atwill: Well, as history gives him to us, he was a Jewish scholar. He had been a general, a cohort of Messianic Jews in the war against Rome that began in 66CE. He was captured by the Flavian generals. He then was a turncoat, abandoned Judaism and became, basically a follower of the Flavian Caesar government. Following the war, they brought Josephus to Rome. The Flavians then had become the royal family and Josephus was given a townhouse in the Emperor’s palace and was told to write the history of the war.

So, two great works were produced. One was basically about the history of the Jews and the other was about the war between the messianic Jews and the Romans.

The idea that Josephus is some kind of independent Jewish voice is incorrect. He was, of course, a court historian of the Flavians.

Alex Tsakiris: So, let’s stop right there, because that’s an important point. That’s not disputed. I mean, no one disputes that.

Joe Atwill: No.

Alex Tsakiris: That he’s writing these histories under the employ of the Roman Caesar. So, that’s kind of point one. Why is Gerald repeating this narrative that we often hear? Actually, Christians will spin it two ways. Sometimes they’ll spin it as, he was a Jewish historian. Sometimes they’ll spin it as, he’s a Roman historian, but what they never kind of get is this transition that he goes through, a very suspicious transition that he goes through, from being a Jewish historian, to being a Roman historian and I think we have to walk that path a little bit and you have to tell folks some of the reasons why we might not want to trust the recorded history of Josephus, we might not want to trust the writing of Josephus, and we certainly might not want to trust the modified changed writings of Josephus.

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