"Jesus Hypothesis" is testable

The existence of Jesus is a testable hypothesis. The problem is that so many people want him to be real that no one has really looked at the question of his existence with real objectivity.

The Center for Inquiry Transnational is going to investigate whether or not we can say that Jesus actually lived. I have no idea if they can do this objectively, so I'll wait to see their methods demonstrated.

From the ExChristian.net article:

"What if the most influential man in human history never existed?" Without any assumptions or conclusions in view, that is the daunting task of the new Jesus Project, announced on January 28th at the University of California at Davis before an audience of Biblical and Koranic experts.

The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER), a project of the Center for Inquiry/Transnational, announced the new project at conclusion of its January 25-28 “Scripture and Skepticism” conference at the University of California at Davis. Articles featuring the new endeavor have already appeared in the Ottawa Citizen (January 10) and the Buffalo News (January 29).

The Jesus Project will be devoted to examining the case for the historical existence of Jesus, based on a rigorous application of the historical critical method to the gospels and related literature.

Unlike the “Jesus Seminar,” founded in 1985 by the late University of Montana Professor Robert Funk, the new Project regards the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was an historical figure as a “testable hypothesis.” R. Joseph Hoffmann, chair of the Committee since 2003 and former lecturer at Oxford University, said that the project has been called for by a number of scholars who felt that the first Jesus Seminar may have been—for political reasons—too reluctant to follow where the evidence led. “When you have pared the sayings of Jesus down to fewer than twenty, one begins to wonder about the survivors,” Hoffmann said.

According to Hoffmann, the goal is not to "disprove" Jesus or to sensationalize the question of his existence, but to acknowledge the question and examine it impartially—without theological or apologetic constraints.

It will be interesting to see their methods, findings and conclusions. But hey! Let me practice being psychic! I'll look into the future and predict that Christians don't like the conclusions, they won't like the study or the methods, and they'll heap lots of scorn on the whole idea because of course Jesus existed!

There. Will that prediction win me a million dollars?

1 comment:

Farris Thorne said...

"'What if the most influential man in human history never existed?' Without any assumptions or conclusions in view..."

Whoops. Seems that title of "most influential man" might be a bit of an assumption right off the bat; I'm sure with a few minutes time, almost anyone could come up with a lengthier list of nominees for that particular title.

But how can attendees expect assumption-free objectivity when they've already abandoned it in the first two sentences of their press release?

Okay, I'm venting. I'm a new reader to your blog, and I like what I'm seeing. I'll stay tuned.... ft