Sunday, April 3, 2016

Atheist Thought Experiments Debunked #7

                              "Jesus didn't invent the Golden Rule"


To most Christians, that sounds a little confusing because Jesus said it first, right? Well, allow me to write out the atheist thought process on this:

You see, to the atheist, Jesus is no one special. In order to justify that notion, they'll look for whatever they can to uphold that notion, no matter how little sense it makes. 

So how do they do that with the Golden Rule? First, they point out the teaching exists with other philosophers or moral teachers such as Confucius, and Laozi and an early version can even be found in ancient Egyptian writings.
So to the atheist, at best Jesus is just repeating what others have already said and at worst Jesus just stole from other people. So case closed, right?

Not exactly.

Three traits must be present in order to prove an idea was stolen:

-One came before the other
-The two ideas must have numerous traits in common
-One must have known the other existed

I'll do the first one last since I found something interesting about it, and start things off with the second one.

While some Eastern thinkers say something similar, all of them say it with key differences. Laozi speaks of a neighbor's gain; Mozi speaks of actions in terms of how to treat other's families. Sanskrit tradition does somewhat better by giving an objective standard to how to treat others (which is more than can be said about Zoroastrianism), but the teaching is directed towards a king, not an everyday person.

This then begs a good question: with all these others touting similar things, did Jesus actually know they existed? If we factored in His human knowledge, I don't see how. Historical rumors not withstanding, there's no evidence Jesus ever traveled to India or China, and even if He did, as a devout Jew, He would have had nothing to do with the pagan culture. Even if we factored in divine knowledge,  one mark by itself does not prove plagiarism.

So what of the first trait? Clearly, some did come before Jesus began preaching, right?
Not quite.
You see, when Jesus makes the statement, He also includes a side note where He says the teaching is a summation of Moses and the OT prophets. How is that important? Because the core teaching comes from Leviticus...a book most believe was written between 1440 and 1400 BC, LONG before any of these Eastern thinkers came along. Couple that with the fact Jesus is God Himself, that then means...

Jesus thought of it first and the other teachers are just a coincidence.

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