The mind is an interesting thing. Often times, people are able to convince themselves that something is true when they know it is not; not really all that uncommon (maybe uncommon to the degree of the current discussion). In any case, who would die for something they knew was untrue? I don’t know. However, I am aware that people do odd things for odd reasons; people have delusions; people misunderstand events; people, are people, and at times, are subject to some rather outlandish perceptual mistakes; people draw fantastic conclusions from events that don’t warrant them. Any one of these seems far more likely than the alternative you propose. Besides, these people followed Jesus for years and were already convinced he was the Messiah. Is it that unlikely that one or two of the Apostles made a mistake and thought that Jesus was resurrected and the others, based on the commitment they already had to Jesus’ Messiahship, were easily convinced?
Common sense, if not logic, tells us that a hoax just couldn’t be perpetuated for 2000 years.
That depends. If true, Christianity promises something that I think most people would want: ‘eternal’ existence (who besides Buddhists and maybe Hindu’s would choose non-existence over existence?) that is ‘heavenly’- a promise of something greater than what one has, a benevolent ‘father’ looking out for us, ‘answers’ to ‘unanswerable’ questions, etc. etc. When an idea addresses
Additionally, credulity is not proprietary to the less intelligent, uneducated or mentally unstable. Credulity affects most everyone, at some point or another, regardless of how intelligent, how erudite or how in control of their mental faculties. When an idea presents the promises that Christianity does, it isn’t that difficult to see why people would believe it.
Another thing that would help such an idea remain prominent is that, in addition to one’s own eternal life, the eternal life of everyone one cares about is promised to. Who wouldn’t want to be reunited with all of those one has loved? However, just wanting it is not enough.
I couldn’t help but notice that your empirical evidence is based on the assumption that religious fanatics act just like muslims. Not all do and we certainly can’t determine with any real accuracy how fanatics behaved 2000 years ago.
So would it be safe to acknowledge the possibility that religious fanatics 2000 years ago would eagerly die for something they knew was untrue?
One other thing I’ve notived too is that none of the cults of religious fanatics ever grew to be global like Christianity did. Islam really isn’t the same because of the techniques of expansion. Islam uses murder, terror, fear, dictatorships, etc to gain and keep control. Christianity never did that, at least not to the extent of Islam (I’m thinking of the Crusades, witch-burnings, inquisitions, etc) and it never lasted long.
Well, I may have to disagree with some of this statement. The Holy Inquisitions lasted about 300 years and, while no exact amount of victims is known, the estimate is between 600,000 to 9,000,000. An interesting book that was cosidered the technical manual for inquisitiors, Malleus Maleficarum by James and Sprenger is available to read if you can stomach it. During the six and seventh century, the Muslim world was the most enlightened civilization- yes, Baghdad was the cultural and intellectual epicenter of the world. There are multiple reasons for the decline of Islam, however Christian Crusades did their part. The point being, Christianity has quite a few blemishes of its own.