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Geologists Found Evidence of the Crucifixion of Jesus Earthquake


The Crucifixion, Currier & Ives/LOC

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the earth shook during the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ:

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.” (Matthew 27: 50-51)

Now, geologists have discovered evidence of major earthquakes during that historical era:

To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.

Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 26 and 36.

The latter period occurred during “the years when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea and when the earthquake of the Gospel of Matthew is historically constrained,” Williams said.

Link


@Tonya

"You know atheist people God gives you the choice to choose to not follow Him and believe in Him but He would really like to save you before it’s too late if you would let Him."

I think it's worth restating and elaborating on this claim as well. Because this smacks of metaphysical libertarianism - the belief that human beings can make decisions completely independent of everything else.

The Bible itself does not seem to support this view. Although the claim is often given the wording "Free-Will", usage of the phrase "Free-Will" in the Bible is restricted to a few Old Testament verses, in which it is clear that it means "under no extrinsic obligation" (Ex. 35:29; Lev. 22:23; Ezra 3:5). This means that it does not necessarily equate to metaphysical libertarian beliefs.

Indeed, several verses in the Bible contradict this view. For example there is this whole lengthy discussion about God "hardening Pharaoh's heart" (Ex 7:13; Ex 8:19; Ex 9:12; Ex 9:35; Ex 10:1; Ex 10:20, Ex 10:27, Ex 11:10; Ex 14:8; Deut 2:30). Some confusion may arise over the fact that the Bible also says Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Ex 8:15; Ex 8:32; Ex 9:34; 1 Sam 6:6) unless one considers the possibility that God and Pharaoh are inseparable entities. As if the causal continuity which permeates the universe determining the motion of the planets and stars also determined that Pharaoh would harden his own heart.

Paul comments on this whole exchange later in Romans 9 saying "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Stating again that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. What reason does Paul give? Is it because of something Pharaoh did with a metaphysically free-will? No, Paul says "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy"

The entire chapter in Romans 9 is a rebuke of metaphysical libertarianism. Earlier in John, Jesus says "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44).

So, I mean, you have to be reading it with blinders on to believe that it says anything about God granting us the "Free-will" to follow him or not. Whether we do or not is clearly determined by God itself.
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@Tonya

The flip-side of unquestioning disbelief is unquestioning belief. The vast majority of miracles depicted in the Bible occur in John, and there is good reason - from the text - to believe that "John" was attempting to address doubts that arose during the time in which this collection was compiled (circa 200 A.D.) - which also dates the composition later than the actual life of John the Baptist.

All of the books of the Bible are compositions which were compiled one or two centuries after the lives of the people who they are attributed to, and during a time of fierce debate over what the actual history and teachings of Jesus were. The book of "John" introduces a lot of miraculous events which have analogs in older religious myths. It appears as though the author of John was determined to demonstrate that Jesus had fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. So words are added to the speech attributed to Jesus that are not found in any of the other synoptic Gospels and are entirely consistent with a desire to show that Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. This would have been a convenient way for the author of John to "prove" that his own belief in the life of Jesus as a miracle-worker was true, but the other Gospels don't include these miracles.

An alternative view is that Jesus was like a "just messenger" or a "wise philosopher" (Gospel of Thomas - verse 13). In which case, maybe his "miracles" were really just poorly understand acts that were nevertheless consistent with what now know from physics, biology and psychology, and still others were complete fabrications generate by those who wanted to support their own beliefs. If Birth is a miracle then it is a miracle of this sort - its a completely understandable biological phenomena - but perhaps a miracle nonetheless.

The belief that Jesus was a wise philosopher or great teacher seems to take the wind out of the sails of those who admire him as a superhuman descendant of the divine, and who wish to conceive of God as a cosmic father-figure. To restate a pertinent fact; these attributions to Jesus were in debate in early Christianity at the Council of Nicea circa. 300 AD. Thus, the Bible is itself not a definitive source on this and one's own preferences and biases weigh heavily into what one believes upon reading the Bible.
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The truth is if you who don't believe only knew how awesome God really is you would never want to be an atheist. If you ever experienced the warmth and love and security that you can have as a believer. The hope that I have as a believer is so wonderful. God is soo good. Honestly all arguments aside He's awesome and so full of love for His creation. Don't be afraid to believe your eternity is in the wings. There is more than this life, there is a purpose for your life. You are not here randomly just like are universe was not randomly formed out of nothing. It shows all the signs of an awesomely intelligent creator. If you cry out to Him He will hear you, he hears me. We are not here randomly to just work eat sleep and get up and do it again and then die. This universe is not some random happening. If you just look at conception and birth it's a miracle. It's not random honestly it takes more faith to be a non believer than it does to believe. Because nature and the universe cry out His name. And if we won't praise Him then the bible says the rocks will cry out! Watch them as the earthquakes increase.
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You know the religious people of Jesus day saw him perform countless miracles and every time they balked that oh he's doing this by the power of demons. They were constantly trying to trap Him with their cunning tongues and formulated questions. All because they really wanted to try to plant seeds of doubt into the minds of the people following Jesus and His sayings. They really didn't want to believe but it was all right there before their eyes, but their hearts were hard. Jesus was a threat to the way things had been operating in their little worlds up to that point. See if people don't want to believe they it doesn't matter what evidence you put before them they will balk. Unbelief and willful unbelief sometimes. They remind me of a child who has been shown evidence right before their eyes and they put their hands over theirs eyes and ears and say no no no it's not true!!!!!! It's actually a defiance to believe. No way would I ever want to stop being a believer and be like them left with no hope, that's why their arguments toward believers are such a waste of time.
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Blah Blah Blah, so full of Hot air but nothing beneficial comes out of their doubter mouths. Just let the atheists scoff all they want. All their balking is nothing but a waste of time. They will know the truth eventually, they are just blind and partly because they want to be. However don't spew all your unbelief off at Jesus. And never argue with them, it's of waste of time they don't listen. They are so afraid so they constantly convince themselves and attempt to convince believers that God doesn't exist. But the truth is they really don't KNOW!!!! But they are banking on what they want to believe which takes more faith to believe then believing in God. And there is know way I'm letting some atheist drag me to Hell with them. I do pray that that God will remove their blindness and arrogant assumptions, I really don't dislike them it's just they are sooooo annoying. You know atheist people God gives you the choice to choose to not follow Him and believe in Him but He would really like to save you before it's too late if you would let Him. After all He is your creator weather you like it or not.
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Exactly my point, they could be officially functionally identical, but most people will not accept that possibility because they have an identity invested one way or the other. I am here talking about why a website that rarely gets comments to it's posts suddenly gets 25+ naysaying comments from non-religious people. It's pretty clear that none of these people had strong enough opinions to express when the topic was how much human beings cheat, or anything else. This topic strikes a chord with a lot of people indicating an affective response to the subject matter. That this biases their thinking is guaranteed. calling someone a troll or other names is a useless thing and pretty much signals an unwillingness to think earnestly about what they are saying. It's one of those strategies we use when our self-esteem/values are threatened. Most religious/non-religious debates are a series of personal attacks, kind of like politics.... again, it's because people have so much invested in their private viewpoints, they really aren't interested in facts. You almost never see politicians talking about facts they didn't make up to suit their opinions.
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'Trade “universe” for “God” and bang, you’ve got Christianity.'

-Yeah. Pull the other one. Nice troll though. :)
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@epe "if I have any resentment at all it’s for people who insist it has some inherent value that I’m just ‘missing’ somehow because I haven’t actually ever met a ‘real’ religion."

This speaks precisely to my point though. As a person who used have that same feeling of resentment myself. The feeling is of an offense, generally. When human beings process information they do so in the context of being a social animal. The implications of the statement as far as social value are concerned are the first response of the human brain. The suggestion that there is something "I" am missing immediately engenders a negative affect for the proposition. Because it has implications for my own cognitive-affective self, my self-concept or self-esteem. To anyone who is just approaching this notion for the first time it will be difficult to grasp. Our minds are biologically determined to "puff ourselves up". And even the suggestion that our minds are biologically determined to do so has negative connotations for our view of ourselves, so it is not easy in principle to accept that view either. It amounts to saying that we are "selfish" but because we are so selfish and it underlies our cognitive-affect apparatus we are self-deluded into viewing ourselves differently. In other words; we feel like innocent righteous people, but everyone of us is unconsciously distorting reality through an information processing system that is geared toward personal sexual success and survival. We are nearly incapable of seeing the world correctly and are seemingly damned only to see the world through our egotistical lens. Our entire perception of things is colored by this fact.

As Albert Einstein said:

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Trade "universe" for "God" and bang, you've got Christianity.
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I think I've gotten to the point where I can safely call bullshit on this discussion. I can't take someone seriously if they insist that 'true' Christianity (and its Judaic roots) has no supernatural content, and that defines 'God' as identical to 'reality' or 'nature' (if so, then why use a separate term for it, one which has always had very clear implications to the contrary?)

My shoes are pretty much soaked through with piss at this point. I've let you pretend it's rain long enough. :)
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@epe

Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, and they will stand as a single one." (Gospel of Thomas, verse 23)

Actually, the claim that "real" Christians are "vanishingly small" is consistent with the Bible and Apocrypha.

The reason is as I've stated before, citing Matthew 13. People have cause to love or hate religion, and this love or hate affects their information-processing system. This is a well known consequence of affect on cognition, and a lesser known consequence of cognition on affect. By "well-known" I mean that it has scientific backing in the sociology literature.

Very few people are ever stable enough individuals to be in a position to regard things without either love or hate. We are prone to either, but not neither. We tend to either love or hate things in some measure. You say that you may have some "resentment" which falls into the "hate" category. Broadly speaking "love and hate" can be translated to "positive and negative affect". Which covers a broad range of human affect, from mild discomfort up to florid hatred with resentment lying in the middle somewhere. A non-dual state that is neither positive or negative toward the subject is incredibly rare, but it's what is required of the text.
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I don't have a dislike of religion so much as I have a dislike of how many religious people seem to want to impose their religion via statute. Personally, I don't have any use for religion, and if I have any resentment at all it's for people who insist it has some inherent value that I'm just 'missing' somehow because I haven't actually ever met a 'real' religion.
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No, actually, I'm not. I'm saying that if Christians actually practiced the Christianity you say is the *real* one, then nobody would actually have an issue with it, other than perhaps dismissing its supernatural claims as being implausible. My point is that the number of Christians who actually *don't* believe in the supernatural must be so vanishingly small that I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who would define it as being "the real" Christianity--even (and especially) if you asked Christians. You might think it's absurd, but I tend to think that what actual Christians believe their own religion means actually has a bearing on this discussion.

If Christianity truly has no supernatural claims at all, I'd almost have to claim that any 'true Christian' by your definition must be an atheist. Here, I'll let Dan Dennett explain it. ;) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iVCxx-GkMg&feature=player_embedded
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@epe

Now you are appealing to popularity on the issue Epe. You should know that this is a logical fallacy. Just because 100 million self-titled "Christians" think one thing does not mean that what they think is the end-all and be-all of Christianity.
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@epe

How so? I'm not claiming anything supernatural attributed to "God". You are missing my point because you keep referring back to your received interpretations. I am here arguing that God is an entirely ontological term which is identical in definition to "Reality" or "Nature". So if "God" is supernatural, then so are "Reality" and "Nature" and your point falls flat. Honestly, I think my original point stands, you have a reason to dislike religion and so you continue to bring your own absurd interpretations to bear on the discussion, when my own is dramatically different and does not include any supernatural claims.
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What good does it do us to argue over the definition of religion (or specifically Christianity) as you think it *should* have been, or as it might have been thousands of years ago, when it's in no way indicative of religion as currently practiced by any of its adherents? Or at least, not by the ones with whom anyone has an actual problem?
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@epe

I agree with the view of language offered by Julian Jaynes in his cult classic "The Origin of Consciousness In The Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind". His view, which is also shared by other linguists, is that all apparently abstract forms of language evolved out of metaphors for familial relations.

Jaynes argues that all of our terminology which we now regard as abstract or secular has its origins in older terms which referred to the family or basic human actions. I do not agree with some of Jaynes' etymology, but I can offer a few examples which I have independently discovered. For one; the term "Universe" comes from two Latin terms, neither of which means "Universe" but when combined gives a sense of the definition. Those two words are Latin "Unus" and "Vertere". The term "Unus" means "One" or "Singular" and the term "Vertere" means "To turn", the combination of the two words means "To turn on itself". So here we can see that the term "universe" which appears to us to be incredibly abstract and unrelated to a simple quantity or behavior is actually derived from a simple quantity and behavior, something turning on itself.

The purpose of pointing this out is to show that these kinds of terms are new in history. The term "Universe" is only as old as the 12th century, and was not in common use until around 1480. Which means when the Bible was written there was no such term as "Universe". Likewise the term "Cosmos" comes from Greek Kosmos meaning "Good Order" (a term used sometimes to refer to God or his creation). This term was not commonly used until the 12th century. "Nature" is not in common use until the 13th century and comes from natus "born," pp. of nasci "to be born," from PIE *gene- "to give birth, beget".

These words which take as oppositions of the term "God" did not even exist at the time when the Bible was written. Of course the term "God" didn't exist either, it has it's origins in PIE "-ghut" meaning "That which is invoked" or Gk. khein "to pour,".

The Jews used the Tetragrammaton to refer to God which is an acronym consisting of four Hebrew letters (Yud, Hei, Vav, Hei) sometimes depicting as "JHVH" and then it has been phoneticized as "Yaweh". But the four elements of the Tetragrammaton refer to four aspects of reality as acknowledged by the Jews. In Judaism there is no name for God as a whole, but there are names for varying aspects of God; e.g. Hashem, Havayah, Adonai, etc.. each of these names refers to a different aspect and are sometimes called "The Power, The Glory" or "The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit" in Christianity, rather than using the Jewish names.

In general it is considered to be a grave error and a sin to fall into idolatry over the name of God. God does not have a name because to name God is to place God on the same footing as all finite things. It is too easy for the mind to misinterpreted a name, so the Jews maintained a tradition of not naming God directly. This is paralleled in other traditions, for example the first line of the Tao Te Ching (Taoism) reads: "The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao." and the Muslims have thousands of names referring to different aspects of God and officially none that refer to God in totality.

So, if you are taking modern terminology back with you 2,000 years or so to the writing of the Bible you are committing an error of historical accuracy, because none of these terms existed. The terms which did exist did not refer to the totality of God, in order to avoid the potential for misinterpretation. It is my belief that the language of the time was primarily familial and did not contain words which would allow one to distinguish from the family. Hierarchies of all sorts were described in terms of familial heirarchies. The "Father" was largely considered to be the head of the family, so when talking about the all-encompassing reality, they referred to it as the "Father" of which we are all "Children".

This metaphor is still widely in use when referring to heirarchies of all sorts, consider the previous example of referring to Nature as "Mother". "She" is given the title of "Mother" because it conveys hierarchy through the well-known familial term.
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Also, apples and oranges. On the one hand you're talking about a method of observing reality and attempting to build a coherent framework to explain what's been observed--one which can be completely thrown out when new evidence contradicts it. On the other you're talking about a system in which you attempt to explain reality by filling in the blanks of what you *don't* understand with a supernatural explanation--and when observations tend to contradict the explanation, you throw out the observations. Which is more likely to eventually give you an accurate depiction of reality? While individual scientists can and do sometimes distort science for their own purposes, the system itself tends to be self-correcting over time. Not so much religion.

I should point out, however, that 'atheism' doesn't in any way imply support of the scientific method, only a disbelief in deities. Take Raelians for example. Please. ;)
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Believe what you want. It's nice you think Christianity is a good philosophy. I really wish actual Christians only thought of it that way, and not as a literal and exclusive source of fundamental truth. Actual Christians *say* they believe in a literal god that cares about and intervenes in human lives. Why would I not take them at their word and think 'oh, they only mean that metaphorically.' While undoubtedly it's true for the more liberal Christians, it is absolutely not for many others.

And no, no scientist I know of anthropomorphizes nature to the extent that they'd actually think the universe cared whether any particular life or life form succeeds or fails. Not true of the garden-variety religions adherent.
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@epe

But this is no different from H.G. Wells saying "Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative."

Nature "herself" metes out rewards and punishments for our behavior. If I wish to lose weight and attempt to do so by some method which is not amenable to "Natural Law" then I am sure to not lose any weight at all, I may even gain some. Nature has laws, called "Natural Law", which is hardly any different from "Divine Law". The imperative to obey them remains the same, nature punishes and rewards us according to "her" law. How is this any different?

The problem runs pretty deep. When the Jews looked upon the temples and statues constructed in the name of Zarathustra and Ahura-Mazda (a Persian creator God) they assumed that these statues were literal depictions of the Gods which the Persians worshipped. The same could happen today with Atheism, if one took the statue of "Science" outside of the Boston Public Library - which looks like a woman holding a crystal ball - as a literal depiction of "Science" then it would be easy to dismiss "her" existence as absurd. It is easy for us to see that this depiction of science is a mere parable, a metaphor carved in stone, but when we look upon the metaphorical carvings of another culture we are prone to see them as literal depictions and thereby completely miss the point of them.

As alluded to above, in the modern secular world we have no qualms about anthropomorphizing Nature and adorning her with feminine and human properties. "She" is even given the title of "Mother". So why is it that when the bible says "Father" in reference to God it is not immediately obvious to us that it is metaphorical?

I'll tell you why, because we don't want to believe that. Because most of us have built up an identity around a different set of beliefs. Either we believe that the term "Father" is a literal reference to a human figure because we cherish such a belief, or we believe so because we hate said belief and wish to condemn others who hold it. We have cause to misinterpret things which we identify ourselves either with or in opposition to. This is why in the Vedantic school of Hindu philosophy there is a doctrine (called "Advaita Vedanta") which is sometimes given in English as "Non-duality" and it is a state of mind sought after by Hindu meditators. In Buddhist parlance it is a state of "Non-attachment", or in SDT vernacular it is having a self-esteem which is "noncontingent" on any domain.

"Beyond love and hate everything becomes clear and undisguised." - Advaitatoons.blogspot.com
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Great. So we've come to the conclusion that Christianity is fantastic, but there aren't actually any 'real' Christians practicing it. I do not, incidentally, agree with the former (and I think you'd have to twist yourself into a pretzel to read both testaments and conclude that they offer advice that's in any way superior to what you could come to using reason, empathy, and a working knowledge of history).

Doesn't this kinda get away from the point of the article, though, which seems to be attempting to point to actual, physical evidence to bolster belief in what is, by your description, a metaphorical event?
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I should have mentioned a 9000 lbs elephant in this regard is the Danish philosopher/theologian Soren Kierkegaard. His work "Practice in Christianity" is a masterpiece and if comprehended punches massive holes in the logic of popular Christianity (particularly in the West).

"When we receive a package we unwrap it to get at the contents. Christianity is a gift from God, but instead of receiving the gift, we have undertaken to wrap it up, and each generation has furnished a new wrapping around the others." - Soren Kierkegaard

Some excerpts and other teachings of Kierkegaard: http://members.optushome.com.au/davidquinn000/Kierkegaard/Kierkegaard02.html
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If you need to strip religion down to the point where it's purely a philosophical concept, and ignore the fact that the vast majority of religious people *don't* actually interpret their own religion that way, then where does that leave us? Maybe in a theoretical world, if people actually *did* believe in their religion the way you claim it is, and did *not* literally believe in a god that is based on rewards and punishment, nobody would have an issue with religious people. But that's not actually the world we live in. Here, people *do* literally believe an external god is the source of all morality and will punish people who don't believe in their particular brand of religion. They literally believe that if they don't act in accordance with their interpretation of their religious texts, their god will punish them as well. They treat other people as if this were the case, and they attempt to legislate as if this were literally the case. And it has real-world consequences on those who do not believe similarly. It doesn't matter what *I* think about their religion, or whether you think I'm interpreting it incorrectly--they themselves, the adherents of the religion and their spokespeople, *do* act as if they believe it. And more troublingly, they insist that others need to follow its tenets as well.

We're not solipsists, here. We actually do have standards of evidence that turn out to be fairly useful for determining what actually has an effect in the physical world, and what does not. The scientific method, for one, has been extremely useful in helping to winnow down what's far more likely to be true, from that which is not at all likely to be true. Even when the current state of knowledge is imperfect, the method itself helps us to eventually adjust our understanding of reality. Take that against religious belief, which only adjusts grudgingly and with the most extraordinary of evidence to the contrary. In the case of Christianity, we're talking about a religion that emphasizes faith even in the face of contrary evidence, sometimes.
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@epe

I think the bulk of modern Western Christianity is misguided and deluded. Which is why I am primarily drawing on ancient scripture and the teachings of the upper eschelon of the Catholic Church. The Jesuits are also a great source of this information, and in particular a fellow named Anthony de Mello who was also a psychotherapist as well as a Jesuit. Thomas Merton, Abbot Placid, Father Thomas Keating, Pope Benedict XVI, Arius, these are a few example of members of various sects of Christianity which preach the view of Christianity which I am hear describing. These are not the Fred Phelps or Ray Comforts that you find in the Bible belt of the USA. These are people who dedicated their lives, largely in solitude, to understanding the teachings of the Bible.

The problem with religious fundamentalism in the United States is precisely that their self is contingent upon their version of Christianity. They have invested so much, lifetimes, generations, everything they have into these beliefs. Which is quite a bit different from the Jesuits of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who perform "spiritual exercises" for the sake of understanding the scripture. They do not immediately assume a literal understanding, but "meditate" for the sake of understanding. It is similar to the Zen practice of meditating on a Koan. A Koan is a parable, story, riddle, fable or similitude that, when meditated on, should produce philosophical/spiritual insight. It is not enough to simply "think about" the Koan, you must meditate properly, which requires some skill and at the very least an understanding of why it is necessary.

You are talking about people who don't meditate on the teachings. You are talking about 4,5 or 6 generations of distorted dogma being passed down unquestionably from one generation to the next. Yet, if you look at the practices of the Catholic Church, or of Zen monks, these are not treated like literal stories, but riddles to be cracked by the penetrating mind. So yea, there are plenty of people who distort the teachings to fulfill their needs for psychological security and postiive self-regard, but, as I've just shown there are plenty, particularly in the East, who do not take this passive approach to religious teachings.
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@epe

There is plenty of evidence for what I am saying - that religions tend to get distorted by people self-seeking (i.e. seeking comfort, positive self-regard, etc..).

And this is what the Bible teaches in so many more words. For example it says "Those who measure themselves by themselves are not wise." This refers to the act of social comparison, or the need for positive self-regard (self-esteem, also called "Ego" in many spiritual/religious traditions). In Christianity this "Ego" or need for positive self-regard is called "The Sinful Nature", "The Flesh" and "The Old Man".

Determining that this is what is meant is one thing, and then determining whether or not its true is yet another thing. If you will allow me to translate the religions terminology into modern psychology terms than I can show that the teachings of the Bible are essentially captured in Self-Determination Theory (e.g. Deci, Ryan, Tangney, Crocker, Leary, etc..)

This theory can be grounded in the functional analytics of the self-conscious mind as offered by Thomas Metzinger in his book "Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity". I want to stress this point, that if the teachings are properly understood they can easily be translated (perhaps using a Rosetta Stone) into different terminology. Christian teachings can be translated into Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Amerindian teachings, and they can also be translated into the "secular" terminology of modern cognitive neuroscience or social psychology.

At base, our brains are attempting to construct a model of reality, we do not have direct contact with reality. Rather information comes into our sensory organs and is actively reconstructed into a conscious image. Within this conscious comic-book version of reality there resides at the center of it all a "Self" or "Ego". That is the sensation that "I" exist independent of other things. But the truth is that each of us is a collection of nearly 100 billion nerve cells connected together in sophisticated ways with each other, totalling nearly 400 billion synapses (connections). In other words, the "Self" is "a heap of composite qualities" (Buddha). The sources of which recede infinitely into the causal nexus that comprises "reality". But rather than use the term "Reality" the Buddhists frequently use the term "Buddha-nature" and the Christians use the term "God". One Christian monk, Abbot Placid, said "You can think of 'Reality' when I say 'God'"

Going back to Anselm's Ontological Argument; if we simply ask ourselves what is "that than which nothing greater can be thought" we should arrive at "Reality" or "Nature" or "Universe" or "Multiverse" or something like this, because these are, in our secular world, the greatest things which can be thought. Not only are they the "greatest" in the sense of being the largest and most powerful, but they are also the "Greatest" ontologically speaking - which is why it's called "The Ontological Argument". "Universe" is such a broad thing that is encompasses all other things. There is nothing which is not in the "Reality". Thus, "Reality" is the greatest thing which can be thought. Now, "Reality" so conceived does not have a body either, if "Reality" had a body then it would not be reality, the defining characteristic of reality is that it is not a finite thing, as all other things are, but it is an all-encompassing, all-powerful thing. There is nothing which exists outside of "Reality" and everything which does exist is said to have the property of being "Real".

However, these terms are all synonymous: Reality, Nature, Existence, God, Universe, etc... And it is really quite senseless to say that "Reality exists" it is doubly more absurd to say "Existence is real" because the word "is" is another synonym of "existing". To say that something "is" is sufficient, to say that it "is existing" is redundant. To say that "Reality is existing" or "Existence is real" is three times the redundancy. So, long story short, what is meant by "God" is another synonym of "Reality" and "Existing" and "Is". You may hear sometimes from newagers about this "Is-ness" or "One-ness" and they are here talking about "Existence" in this all-encompassing conception.

These are rational assertions, some of which cannot rightly depend on "evidence". Since the "evidence" is entirely in how we use the terms. Nevertheless, you can discover the "vicious circularity" of dictionary definitions to assist in this realization. The "vicious circularity" consists of the fact that the dictionary cannot provide an adequate definition of any of these terms without simply appealing to one of their synonyms. The dictionary definition of "reality" is sure to say something like "Having the quality of existing", and then when you look up "Existing" in the dictionary it is sure to say something like "Having the quality of being real". The definitions refer back to each other and this is called the "vicious circle" of definitions. It is peculiar to the case of defining Existence since any other thing is merely a finite aspect of existence which can be defined in relation to other finite things, but reality/existence itself does not lend itself to other things with which to make any comparisons. Rather, each of us already knows what reality/existence is, and hence it is said that "Only the fool denies God", as it would be foolish to deny "Existence" it's place as the head of all thought.

Immanuel Kant called this totality of all thought "Omnitudo Realitatis" (all that is), and argued that all thought was predicated on it. That is, for example, in the act of perceiving the color red we are doing so entirely in relation to perceptions of other colors. This truth holds in modern neuroscience, we now know that conscious color perception is the result of a color-opponency process, whereby each color is created and defined in reference to all the other colors which we perceive. They are complimentary concepts that do not act independently at all. The same is true of shades, black and white are not independent shades, but we know only of black by virtue of it's relatedness to white (See e.g.: The Neuroscience of Nothing by Richard O. Brown on youtube). So these colors are to the color-opponency process as all thought is to "the All", and it is this "All" which is referred to by both "God" and "Nature".

In de Animalibus by Aristotle he writes "Nature (Gr. Natura) so-called because it is that from which a thing originates, that within which it is sustained and that unto which it terminates. Some people call this 'God'". This speaks to the fact that God versus Nature has always been a false dichotomy - at least since Aristotle - because both have identical meanings.
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I agree with Alex.

Humankind has been trying to make sense of its existence as far back as anyone can tell.

So, as an atheist, you rationalize that your answer is the true answer, and it may well be.

So how do you conduct yourself in the contemplation of your truth? Is your attitude any different from the intolerance of the religious people you disdain and heap scorn on? If it were merely logical and reasoning arguments you used, then Alex's comment would not be justified.

But I recognize exactly what Alex is saying. As soon as some topic here borders on the Christian faith (not always with other religions), there is a vocal anti-Christian backlash.

Religious and political ideologies are not the reasons for violence, but greed and the quest for power masquerading as those ideologies.
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...and if you really think anywhere near 'most' religious adherents don't actually believe in the supernatural, you're extremely optimistic at best, and delusional at worst. Why don't you ask the standard, run of the mill Southern Baptist whether they believe Jesus was literally the son of god, born of a virgin, and was physically tortured and died to expiate their sins--they're not going to give you some philosophical dodge about whether it being a metaphor.
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Ryan, isn't it all pretty much all beside the point if you don't actually have any evidence that *any* religious beliefs are actually *true*? You can dance around that all you want, and put a pretty, metaphorical face on it, but that's the actual crux of the matter.

I don't think I've misinterpreted the fact that all religion is based on the assumption, absent of any evidence, that there are supernatural forces at work in the universe. Absent that evidence, it doesn't matter how much you like a particular religion, or what good you think it does for its adherents--there's just no reason to believe a god actually exists.
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I can provide immediate scripture rebuke of several "pillars" of modern Christian thought, or what Christianity is widely believed to be, and some of these beliefs are common to Christianity in the west:

1) That God is a man: As I argued above, none of the representatives of the church have ever expressed this belief, quite the contrary.

2) That Jesus Christ is God/Good: "Why do you call me good, no one is good but God alone". (Mark 10:18). The dogma of Jesus as the "Only begotten son" originated from the First Council of Nicea c. 300 A.D. during the debate between the Trinitarians, represented by Athanasius and the alternative position (that Jesus is not God at all) represented by Arius. Athanasius won the favor of the council and the dogma won its place in the church, but not without qualification. Jesus is not literally God anymore than any of us are literally God. Yet, it is the "Christ" which is the "Only begotten son". The "Christ" is equivalent of saying "the Word" and in Greek it is written as "Logos". The Logos is the "Creative reason" which manifests itself in Nature. So, the "Christ" (Logos) is the "Only begotten son" not Jesus the flesh and blood human being. Jesus had a certain kind of philosophical insight which meant that he had knowledge of the Logos, which is how he became "Christened". In Kaballah - the esoteric branch of Judaism - this is called "equivalence of form".

"The world is a product of the Word," Benedict XVI stated, "of the Logos, as St. John expresses it. [...] 'Logos' means 'reason,' 'sense,' 'word.' It is not reason pure and simple, but creative Reason, that speaks and communicates itself. It is Reason that both is and creates sense." - Zenit.org

3) That God gave us Free-Will: "Therefor it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." "Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor" (Romans 9). This teaching is paralleled almost exactly by Gautama Siddhartha (Buddha):

"It is as if a potter made different vessels out of the same clay.
Some of these pots are to contain sugar,
others rice, others curds and milk;
others still are vessels of impurity.
There is no diversity in the clay used;
the diversity of the pots is only due
to the moulding hands of the potter
who shapes them for the various uses
that circumstances may require.

And as all things originate from one essence,
so they are developing according to one law
and they are destined to one aim which is Nirvana." - Gautama Siddhartha (Buddha)

So, a lot of these claims that you hear from low-level intiates into Western Christianity are really just complete misreadings of the text, and in most cases they aren't even the result of reading the text but from listening to others claim what the text says.
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@epe

1) Many religions contain apparently bad ideas, but that doesn't mean you either A) have to believe everything they say is false, or b) reject them wholecloth.

What atheists fail to realize is that you commit the exact same errors of judgement in reverse, but feel they are justified because you are convinced that religion is bad. So your errors of reason and judgement get a free pass. This is exactly what I've been saying, our identities cause us to commit one-sided errors in judgement in support of our existing views.

The doctrine of Karma is misrepresented here, Karma/Reincarnation simply means "Cause and Effect", think of it like the "Law of Conservation Mass-Energy". The energy remains while the form in which it is expressed changes. During oxidation of wood the wood "dies" - is burned up - and the "energy" is released in the form of heat and smoke. This smoke and heat is the "reborn" wood that has undergone oxidation. This is what reincarnation means, that the burning of the wood causes heat and smoke.

"This rebirth, this reincarnation, this reappearance of the conformations is continuous and depends on the law of cause and effect." - Gautam Siddhartha (Buddha)

I will literally have to go through all of your claims one by one to show how they are fundamentally misinterpretations of religious teachings. In general, there are no supernatural entities in religion, properly understood, but because of idolatry, because of the pursuit of self-esteem, people misinterpret the teachings to be more suitable to their desires for a father figure, heavenly bliss and eternal life. None of these religions actually promise any such things. The terms "dead" and "reborn" or "rerisen" refer to the spiritual transformation encoded within the text, it refers to a kind of ego-death or death of self-seeking. When someone says during a difficult task "I'm dying here" or when it is hot "This heat is killing me." this is the kind of metaphorical usage of "death" in religion.

In order to understand what I'm trying to illustrate, you need to understand that all of your received perceptions on religion may in-fact be completely and horribly misguided. Only then can you see that doctrines like that of Rebirth, Karma and Reincarnation have been distorted from their original meaning by those who are seeking self-esteem (idolaters) rather than any genuine inquiry into the truth of the matter.
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Very well put, Nick Gisburne.

You made many points that I too thought to myself, and I think you put them across very reasonably.

I read these comments this morning, and spent the day thinking about it (here and there). And it made me realise that religious people, scare the shit out of me.

Have you ever seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers? If I happen to find myself amongst people of religion, I find it is sometimes easier to straight up ignore every person in the room and act absent minded (like I am too distracted to join in this conversation), than to actually say what I think.
In my opinion, religious people have got to be the most intolerable people I've ever known. If you do not share their beliefs and ideals, you are not just left alone, bypassed, or even shunned. You are suddenly targetted, with fevor.
And it either goes two ways:
1# You are wrong, repent and join us and you will be saved.
2# You are wrong, burn in hell, for eternity.

And they won't stop until you are long gone.
And even then I am sure they mutter...
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"Children are trained to want to do as the society says they have to do. They have to earn their prestige in definitely fixed ways. The result is that people willingly propagate whole cultural systems that hold them in bondage, and since everyone plays the same hero-game, no one can see through the farce. - Becker (1971, p.86)
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Alex (#4), you say 'atheists are typically the most intolerant group you’d find on the Web'. If by 'intolerant' you mean 'intolerant of BS and willing to describe it as such' then yes, you are correct - atheists are intolerant of BS, and will show it for what it is.

Perhaps it's a reaction to centuries of history where questioning religious beliefs was not only unacceptable but downright dangerous. Of course in many ways it still is. You can walk through a town wearing a crucifix and it won't get a mention, not a negative one anyway. Try wearing a T-shirt saying 'I am an atheist' (or something similar) and see how that works.

In the US pro-Christian billboards are everywhere. When atheists try to put up their billboards (even purposefully inoffensive messages such as 'Are you an atheist? You're not alone') there is uproar. Which side is more intolerant?

In the 'real' world atheists don't try to blow up abortion clinics because of their non-belief in God. Or fly planes into buildings. Or... do I need to continue? I won't, since you are talking about atheists online. Perhaps it's just safer for atheists to criticise religion online, which says less about atheists and more about the angry and violent reactions towards atheists if they stood up in the middle of town and spoke against religion in the same way that street-preaching Christians speak FOR it.

I'd be curious to know how you judge the level of intolerance in order to come to the conclusion that atheists are the *most* intolerant group. How would you rank an atheist saying 'the Bible is a book of fiction' against a Christian who says 'homosexuality is an abomination' or 'gays should burn in Hell'?

How many atheists attend anti-religious meetings every week? Now think how many Christian attend pro-religious meetings every week, many of which rail against the lives of ordinary people which their religion tells them are living evil, despicable lives. Not all of them do, but they vastly outnumber atheists, of that there is no doubt.

Atheists are simply intolerant of intolerance. That's one of the reasons they are often so vocal. It's also true to say that there are more pro-religion stories on the web than anti-religion stories, which is why you might see more opposing views from atheists. But go find a mainstream pro-atheism story (if you can, they are rare) and watch the hordes of nasty, vicious followers of faith descend upon it. Compare the tone of their comments, which frequently contain hopes that non-believers will be burned for all eternity. Is 'your religion is just a book of fiction' more intolerant than that? I think not.

It's rare for atheists to send death threats, but many atheists (particularly female ones) receive online threats of death, rape, and other vicious acts, many of a personal nature, sent from religious folk. Atheists don't tend to do that. There are exceptions, nobody would say otherwise, just as I'm not saying that all religious people send death threats, but you simply can't compare one side with the other and conclude that atheists are the nastier bunch. It's just not true.

It doesn't take atheism to be wary of the more way-out claims of religious texts. All it takes is an examination of evidence. The fact that atheists are prepared to do that, while many religious people completely ignore evidence or refuse to even consider it in the first place, is very telling. Atheists tend to be intolerant of impossible or unreasonable claims. Evidence or GTFO probably sums it up nicely.

Going back to this story: 'a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 26 and 36'. That's a whole decade. Look up how many seismic events happen every single year all over the world. Thousands. Why would those 10 years be any different? Moreover, if the Bible WAS a book of myths, would it not be credible that a historical event (the earthquake) would be added to a story to give it more colour? Myths are stories told and re-told, to which details are added which were not necessarily found in the original version. I'm not saying that happened here, but it's certainly possible.

Many religious people will, I'm sure, simply point and say 'see, an earthquake when Jesus died - proof!'. They won't raise the point I just mentioned. They should. The fact that many won't is just another reason they should be criticised for their blind faith. If that's intolerance, I for one think there isn't enough of it online.
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1) The point about Harris and Buddhism is off-point. Many religions contain kernels of good ideas, but that doesn't mean you either a)have to believe in any supernatural claims in the same religions as being true in order to agree with those good ideas, b) that you have to take the religion as true or good as wholecloth (in fact, Buddhism also has ideas that tend to contradict social justice, since they revolve around karma and accepting ones' current place in society based on past lives), and c) that even the good ideas in any given religion lend credence to the other, supernatural claims held by adherents.

2) Show me exactly where Hitchens, or any other 'new atheist' has promoted violence against believers, or marginalization, or anything beyond trying to convince them their beliefs are untrue. Religion can and does have very real consequences for adherents and non-adherents that it attempts to control--rights for women, physical autonomy over their own bodies, not to mention psychological abuse. Meanwhile, a 'new atheist' makes a suggestion that there isn't actually any evidence for supernatural beliefs, and suddenly the hurt feelings of the religious are suddenly seen as evidence of intolerance by the anti-religious.

3) Nobody would have any quibble against religion if it were in a vacuum, and simply a matter of opinion. The problem is that it so often gets interjected into society in a way that can and does adversely the rights or even physical well-being of both people who have other religious beliefs, or no religious beliefs.

4) The so-called Christianity you describe is highly theoretical, and I doubt if you asked the vast majority of Christians what they actually believe, that Aquinas's description would be what they espouse. And I'm not talking about the fringe groups--there are many more biblical literalists in the world than what you're claiming--and they aren't arguing for a 'nothing greater than this', vague, 'first cause' sort of God, but the sort who, as described in the old testament, regularly interceded in and encouraged violent human behavior, and had very definite and specific opinions on human lifestyles.

5) Seriously?An atheist has to believe Christians believe in a 'man in the sky' in order to reject the bible as being improbable? Ask a person of any religion what god they believe in, and why they believe it, and an atheist will come to the same conclusion--because there simply isn't any evidence for it--either the 'man in the sky' or a vague 'force of intelligence' in the universe.

Sorry for typos. Small screen, terrible keyboard.
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So when it says something like "God the father" or even "the earth shook" these may only be parables approximating a deeper truth. If we listen to the great Italian Poet Dante Alighieri, he suggests that much literature, or at least his own, is Anagogical. He says his work must be interpreted with a four-fold method of understanding the literal, metaphorical, allegorical and anagogical interpretations. Dante's Divine Comedy (includ. Dante's Inferno) is not simply a literal bed-time story, rather it is an Anagogical (spiritually-significant masterpiece) which needs to be actively decoded by the reader. The Bible is the same kind of thing, in particular the sayings of Jesus Christ as he is quoted as saying in the above three verses.
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@epe btw consider the following three verses from Mathew 13 in light of what I said about having a sense of self-esteem opposed to the teachings of Christ and how that position can distort perception of the teachings:

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
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@epe Your example is a good example especially of football fandom. But the situation is a little bit different with non-religion, because there are people who do not attach themselves to religious identities, but there are also those who have an identity as being anti-religious. You look at someone like Christopher Hitchens and it's pretty clear that he was anti-religion. On the other hand someone like Sam Harris was more of a moderate non-religionist, he actually does find a lot of value in Buddhist wisdom. No, there are no anti-football-fans, but there are anti-religionists. I'm talking about those people who built up a social identity around their hostility towards religion and who have earned the praise and adoration of others for doing so. They will be encouraged more-so to commit violent acts against religion.

But apart from committing violent acts there is also the cognitive biases that are employed for the sake of maintaining one's own identity. In debate, generally, people employ cognitive biases, even formal logical fallacy with the goal of validating their position. For example; it can be adequately demonstrated that none of the acknowledged Saints or Popes have ever regarded God as an entity of human form, yet this is a position constantly pushed on them by "atheists". Perhaps there are fringe cults like the Westboro Baptists who believe that sort of thing, but it has never been a doctrine of the Catholic Church or of most Christianity. Yet, Atheists are vehemently unwilling to accept that the charge of "belief in a God-man" is not part of Christianity. Moreover, Anselm's ontological argument has nothing to do with this concept, as both Anselm and Aquinas adequately explain in their writings. With respect to Anselm's ontological argument, Aquinas had this to say "Perhaps not everyone who hears this word "God" understands it to signify something than which nothing greater can be thought, seeing that some have believed God to be a body."

Of course "something than which nothing greater can be thought" is the precise wording of Anselm's ontological argument so this is a reference to Anselm's argument. Aquinas is saying that the argument does not lead to a bodily concept, though many think it does. For many Atheists, I have found, they are unwilling to let go of the claim that Christianity teaches that God is or has a body. They rather insist that Christianity amounts to nothing more than the belief in a God-man floating around on a nimbus cloud zapping evil-doers, but this is actually just the Atheists propensity to distort the teachings of something which they have set themselves against. I.e. they have established a personal identity in contradiction of, and therefor are motivated to distort the information for their own purposes. This creates unnecessary conflicts without any good coming from it.
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As an analogy--football fans sometimes riot over the results of football games. Non-football fans also sometimes riot, for entirely different reasons. But the non-football fans are not rioting *because* of their lack of football fandom. See what I'm getting at here?
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Yes, obviously both religious and non-religious people kill, and they have their own motives for doing so. But the point being made here is that, while religious people can be driven *by their religion* to kill, the reverse hasn't been the case. Communist atrocities were not driven by a lack of belief in a deity, but by the political and economic ideologies that replaced it. You can't argue that the fault of communism was an excess of rational thought, free inquiry, or skepticism.
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btw consider that Jesus Christ himself - according to the Bible - was basically murdered because his opinions which he claimed as Truth differed so much from the status quo upheld by the ruling elite. Basically, all he did was talk about the possibility that they were wrong which earned him the title of Blasphemer. And this is just a threat to the existing power-structure and the existing Jewish identity. Which is why they killed him. His death signifies that human beings will kill each other over something as innocuous as opinions, and even correct opinions, humans will kill each other for threatening their dependencies and cultural mores and nothing more. You could be absolutely right, but if they don't "like" what you are saying, you could be brutally maimed or killed. Jesus, however, emphasized the importance of Truth over violence.
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Killing is caused by conflicts and threats to self-esteem. I.e. one person is an atheist and sees something that presumes to be evidence of some religious story and that is significant threat enough to their identity for them to react with hostility or at the very least, lack of consideration, compassion or a genuine willingness to understand or accept facts.

Of course the same works in reverse, which is why Giordanno Bruno and so many others were burned at the stake for claims that threatened the authority of the church, and therefor the Christian identity.

That is, the real evil in the world is your own mind and it's distorted views and selfish motives. Thus evil can be committed by Christians, Communists, or anyone else.

I always interpreted these sayings as metaphor "the earth shook" means essentially that people for a great distance were shocked, amazed or in awe over the events.
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The only thing atheists are intolerant of is imaginary nonsense thought to be real by dummies. Everything else is pretty much fair game.
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Oh, so it proves there were earthquakes back then, coinkydink with the supposed time The Cruci-fiction, of which there were many of those too back then. You can return to your usually scheduled programming now of burning witches at the stake.
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Except that communists didn't kill 'in the name of atheism', but in the name of communism and its authoritarian leaders. Nobody ever ran into battle with the cry 'because god doesn't exist!'. Atheism is a stance of one particular claim, that of whether a god exists or not--it's not an ideology.

And why is it you can't point out that a particular piece of evidence doesn't actually support a religious claim, without getting accused of hating religion?
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_killings_under_Communist_regimes

No, really, you folks who insist and insist on how religion has caused so many deaths, you really need to read up on communism.

If you wanna hate something so badly, you could maybe research a little more before believing just anything because you've decided you are anti-religion.
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An earthquake happened when the Bible said it did. Why does this bother anyone? It doesn't mean anyone should or shouldn't believe in God, it just means that the Bible writers accurately recorded an earthquake. I wish people would stop griping about this stuff.
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@mike in philly - I've been thinking about that.

What I was bumblingly trying to say was that in the Blogosphere, atheists typically respond to anything that don't jibe with their opinion with put downs and rudeness.

My comment above was in response to fauxscot's "this kind of crap is a waste of even free bandwidth."
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atheists are the "intolerant" ones???

how many have been killed over the course of written history by those spreading their God or Gods, and how many in the name of Atheism?

want to take a poll on whether people support censorship of any kind and whether or not those same people follow an organized form of religion? im gamble on those results, lol!

yeah, you might want to reconsider that statement Alex ;)
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@killer: Let's get away from "is God real or is God not real" for a moment and look simply at the premise of the headline and the facts of the article. If I said I would meet you on the afternoon of Friday, April 3rd in a specific year, would you wait around for ten years and accept that anytime within that decade's span was close enough? If so, I hope you packed a lunch. I think epe is quite justified in suggesting that the title is massively misleading. I would have made the point if it had not already been made.
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Sorry, this sounds like nonsense to me. I have trouble understanding how any adult can take bible stories as anything other than folk lore and myth. Perhaps that's an intellectual failing on my part; or perhaps, those who believe such things lack critical thinking skills. I'm content to let history make that determination.
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Yep, that's me. A little ball of rage. Grrrr so mad. The title is massively misleading simply because it is so definitive in its claim. Like I said, nothing to support that claim other than the crucifixion may have fallen within the 10 year span.

No one who matters, I'm not certain what you're saying about Polycarp and Papias. I can say, however, that most scholars believe Matthew to be written around 80-90 AD (so really it's more like 50-60 yrs after the earthquake). Matthew was written to address the dissolving community of Jews and Jewish-Christians after the destruction of their collective identity and the text clearly demonstrates this. Moreover, the author of Matthew used the Gospel of Mark as a source text (as did the author of Luke) and Mark was written no earlier than 70 AD.

As for the Magdalen papyrus fragment, you're referring to a redating of the fragment by Carsten Thiede which gained a lot of publicity, but is considered by most biblical scholars to be inaccurate. Most would date the fragment to around the end of the 2nd century, middle of the 2nd century at the earliest.

I don't mean to be a dick, if that's how this is being interpreted. I just love discussing this stuff.
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Partypooper, actually there is a fragment of Matthew in the Magdalen College collection that dates to the mid 1st century. That is within a decade or two of the crucifixion and before the destruction of the temple in 70ce which is also confirmed by the earliest church fathers Papias and Polycarp who were both alive in the late 1st century and early 2nd. Both knew John the apostle.
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So it's intolerant to point out that the actual evidence doesn't in any way support the claim being made in the title? Gosh, is the Spiderman fallacy now unassailable as well?
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I sincerely doubt atheists are the most intolerant group on the internet. After all it is the internet we're talking about.

Massively misleading title to this post. It is interesting to hear of the confirmation of an earthquake set within time constraints of the Gospel of Matthew. Nevertheless, that means all of nothing. There's nothing else other than a 10 year window of time connecting this to the crucifixion. Also the Gospel of Matthew contained information that indicates it was written after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and so was written in the late 1st century. That's AT LEAST 45 years after this major, major earthquake. It's not out of the question, in fact it's likely, that the author of Matthew incorporated this real event in to his gospel for portent's sake. The author of Matthew had a message (pro-Jewish) to convey and was exceptionally capable of using subtle touches of language, symbols, and history to do so.
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