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About 1/5 of adult Aussies think Jesus is fictional or mythical


eight bits
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One fifth is actually not a surprising number. What Joseph set aside for the Pharoah's lot in Egypt was 1/5 of all produce (Genesis 47:25). It's not completely easy to admit Jesus was real because direct evidence of him is missing. He's kind of like a black hole with the events that surround him. There is evidence of things in the Bible in both the Old and New Testament. It is an important historical artifact because it gives an ancient account of history. As with a lot of history it is impossible to prove all of it, and a lot of history is known to be exaggerated. The Bible stands as a witness to support other recorders of history. I personally think it is a sin to condemn the existance of Jesus walking on the earth without any evidence. There is however enough surrounding evidence to stay a Christian. I also believe in the Holy Spirit. I don't find it too hard to believe immaculate conception, crucifixtion or someone being raised from the dead. It doesn't shake my faith that Jesus might not have been a real person because there is enough surrounding evidence. The morally right answer would be to deny that Jesus walked on the Earth.

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50 minutes ago, The_Phantom_Stranger said:

He's kind of like a black hole with the events that surround him.

That's not a bad simile for the situation, except that black holes (I am told) impose a characteristic arrangement of the surrounding matter that is a "signature" that distinguishes a black hole from some other mass that for whatever reason we aren't observing directly. Maybe a better way to think of it is the Gestalt "illusory contour" puzzle:

Mental8-10-GestaltSpikes.gif.480f61a589de2a7d6aa47842390896ec.gif

Is there "really" a sphere at that center of all those spikes, or does it just look that way? (And if the latter, is that because somebody arranged the spikes to create that appearance?)

This should be a cautionary tale. When I look at the whole figure, I could swear that there are faint arcs between some of the adjacent spikes, making the coherent contour of a sphere (well, actually a circle, 'cause there are only two dimensions there really). Only when I look carefully, and piece by piece, do I see that there is nothing at all between the spikes. And even then I have to remind myself that any three-dimensionality comes from inside my head, and nowhere else.

So when Paul talks about all those people (more than 500) who saw a ghost, well then there must have been a real person for that ghost to be the revenant of. And when he talks about Peter, James and John in Jerusalem, well, they must be the big three disciples of Jesus, although Paul somehow neglects to mention those men ever so much as meeting a living Jesus. And hey, there's this huge movement with churches on every street corner in some places, there must have been somebody to get all that started ...

I mean there just has to be a sphere at the center of that picture. Only fringe internet weirdoes would think otherwise.

Edited by eight bits
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1 minute ago, The Silver Shroud said:

Next they will be saying God isn't real! Jeez....

God is an idea. 

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8 minutes ago, XenoFish said:

God is an idea. 

I believe there is something, call it a 'life force' or 'spirituality', but I think it is something we know on a kind of personal level. I don't think any of the established religions are the 'truth'. I think they have been developed by people with more faith than fact at their disposal.

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41 minutes ago, The Silver Shroud said:

I believe there is something, call it a 'life force' or 'spirituality', but I think it is something we know on a kind of personal level. I don't think any of the established religions are the 'truth'. I think they have been developed by people with more faith than fact at their disposal.

All the religions that have be, currently are, and those to come, are the result of speculation and human desire. The gods exist solely in the minds and imagination of those who believe. There is no way to objectively prove any type of God exist. 

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1/5 is surprisingly low to me.  I wonder if their sample adequate and truly random...

 

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1 hour ago, The Silver Shroud said:

Next they will be saying God isn't real! Jeez....

Those who believe themselves so very clever as they make that pronouncement will be some of the first to rush to the feet of a cheap imitation who appears doing "magic tricks".  Signs and wonders will win the day for millions.

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13 minutes ago, and then said:

Those who believe themselves so very clever as they make that pronouncement will be some of the first to rush to the feet of a cheap imitation who appears doing "magic tricks".  Signs and wonders will win the day for millions.

Naah, he won't make it past Penn & Teller....

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13 minutes ago, quiXilver said:

1/5 is surprisingly low to me.  I wonder if their sample adequate and truly random...

Until they publish their methods (if they do, but the 2015 English survey did publish on methods, although they kept some of the results private), there's really no way to tell. The 1/5 is about the same as the corresponding English result, if that helps.

Another factor is the "don't knows." I know that some people who see Jesus the way I do, say 60:40 either way, would count themselves as "don't knows," even though they do have an opinion. Just not a strong one, so maybe "don't know" is the "best description" for them, according to them.

If you count "Jesus skeptics" as the "mythcal or fictional" group plus those in the "don't know" category who have given the matter some thought (as found in the English survey with a question about whether Jesus was a teacher or a supernatural figure), then Jesus skeptics were at least close to 1/3 among the English respondents. (The precise figure being among the results that the pollsters kept private for the paying client).

The Australian results show a bigger "don't know" pool than the English ones did.

Given the megaphone that churches have, the academia-doubt shaming that goes on even here in what's supposed to be an open discussion forum, the length of time many adults have been exposed to nothing but "Of course Jesus is real," ... that maybe 1/3 don't buy the party line? It's a miracle, IMO.

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4 hours ago, zep73 said:

Naah, he won't make it past Penn & Teller....

Are you saying Penn and/or Teller are the reason the Antichrist hasn’t risen to prominence?

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5 hours ago, Matt221 said:

Jesus must be real he left a selfie on a shroud in Turin and he invented christmas 

Just imagine the mayhem had he been born in say, February. We would be buying Christmas presents in the January sales- good for us, bad for retailers.

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8 minutes ago, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

Are you saying Penn and/or Teller are the reason the Antichrist hasn’t risen to prominence?

That was his second career failure. The first one was realising there was no Christ to be the Anti of.

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5 hours ago, and then said:

Those who believe themselves so very clever as they make that pronouncement will be some of the first to rush to the feet of a cheap imitation who appears doing "magic tricks".  Signs and wonders will win the day for millions.

What would be the reaction if someone was proclaimed the Son of God say, next week? What if a rumour started growing that a charismatic preacher, who could do minor miracles, and even major ones like resurrecting someone, was the Second Coming and we were approaching the apocalypse? I wonder what the effect would be.

Edited by The Silver Shroud
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2 hours ago, The Silver Shroud said:

Just imagine the mayhem had he been born in say, February. We would be buying Christmas presents in the January sales- good for us, bad for retailers.

I dunno, the traffic is always terrible at Christmas Time, if they moved it to February I’m sure things would be much easier.

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On 12/27/2021 at 1:08 AM, eight bits said:

Last month, the Australian NCLS (National Chruch Life Survey) organization asked 1,286 Australian adults (sampling methods or demographic adjustments unreported so far):

Which of the following statements best reflects your understanding of Jesus Christ?

Jesus is a real person who actually lived  49%
Jesus is a mythical or fictional character 22%
Don't know 29%

The brief report is here:

https://ncls.org.au/news/is-jesus-real-to-australians

The wording of the question and the "mythical or fictional" proportion are similar to a (larger, carefully demographically representative, professionally conducted and reported) Church of England survey from a few years ago.

https://talkingjesus.org/2015-research/

That survey had a follow up question that gave some idea of how the "don't knows" broke between those who've thought about the question versus those who haven't (e.g. because they come from a non-Abrahamic culture where Jesus simply isn't well-known). Perhaps more information about the Austalian survey will emerge in the coming months.

It is interesting, more suggestive than established based on these data without more method details, that "mythical or fictional" is less age-related in Australia than "real person" belief. If so, then the explanation might be a failure of the guild to make its case convincingly to the public in general, not just youthful trend-setters sassing their elders (as if that isn't the root of human progress in general).

I wouldn't dispute these figures but I  would wonder what people were thinking when the y were asked the question

Ie does Christ as a "real"  person INCLUDE  his divinity and miraculous abilities  For some it would be inseparable, for others quite  separable ie many would not believe in a divine real jesus but more would believe in a  real historical man who was later believed to be a god. 

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32 minutes ago, Mr Walker said:

Ie does Christ as a "real"  person INCLUDE  his divinity and miraculous abilities  For some it would be inseparable, for others quite  separable ie many would not believe in a divine real jesus but more would believe in a  real historical man who was later believed to be a god. 

I don't know about this recent Australian survey. The 2015 English survey asked a follow-up question of all respondents who answered "Jesus was a real person who actually lived" or who answered "don't know:"

Which, if any, of the following statements best describes your beliefs about Jesus Christ?
Please select one only.
a) A normal human being
b) God in human form who lived among people in the 1st Century
c) A prophet or spiritual leader, not God
d) Other, please specify
e) Don’t know

I hope that at some point the Australian group will make its full questionnaire available.

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On 12/26/2021 at 4:43 PM, The Silver Shroud said:

What would be the reaction if someone was proclaimed the Son of God say, next week? What if a rumour started growing that a charismatic preacher, who could do minor miracles, and even major ones like resurrecting someone, was the Second Coming and we were approaching the apocalypse? I wonder what the effect would be.

The False Prophet of Revelation is prophecied to produce miracles in the realm that used to belong to Christ and the Prophets. The miracles should be so extreme that even the disciples of Christ would be deceived if it were not for the divine intervention of Jesus Christ.

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20 minutes ago, The_Phantom_Stranger said:

The False Prophet of Revelation is prophecied to produce miracles in the realm that used to belong to Christ and the Prophets. The miracles should be so extreme that even the disciples of Christ would be deceived if it were not for the divine intervention of Jesus Christ.

I asked a genuine question. Is this how you think people would respond- by saying whoever it was, it was a false prophet?

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37 minutes ago, The_Phantom_Stranger said:

The False Prophet of Revelation is prophecied to produce miracles in the realm that used to belong to Christ and the Prophets. The miracles should be so extreme that even the disciples of Christ would be deceived if it were not for the divine intervention of Jesus Christ.

Hi Phantom

The John that wrote the ramblings of revelations was a hermit that lived in a cave, I live in a city of 1 1/2 million so have seen people talking or yelling at trash cans and signs on the street so excuse me if I don't take that bit of Christian religious belief too seriously.

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As far as how many believe in the Jesus thing one should consider the whole population of Christians in Australia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Australia

Demographics[edit]

300px-Australian_Census_2011_demographic
 
People who identify as Christian as a percentage of the total population in Australia divided geographically by statistical local area, as of the 2011 census

A question on religion has been asked in every census taken in Australia, with the voluntary nature of this question having been specifically stated since 1933. In 1971, the instruction "if no religion, write none" was introduced. This saw a sevenfold increase from the previous census year in the percentage of Australians stating they had no religion. Since 1971, this percentage has progressively increased to 30.1% in 2016.[1]

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2006 Census Dictionary statement on religious affiliation states the purpose for gathering such information:

Data on religious affiliation are used for such purposes as planning educational facilities, aged persons' care and other social services provided by religion-based organisations; the location of church buildings; the assigning of chaplains to hospitals, prisons, armed services and universities; the allocation of time on public radio and other media; and sociological research.

The census question about religion is optional, and asks "What is the person's religion?", giving respondents a choice of nine religions, "Other" and "No religion".[36] At the 2016 census 9.6% of people declined to answer, or they did not give a response adequate for interpretation.[1] The religious views of those people are not known, so it is not proper to group them together with people who state that they have no religion – instead, all the census figures about religion should be treated with corresponding confidence levels.

The 2016 census identified that 52.1% of Australians classify themselves Christian: 22.6% identifying themselves as Catholic and 13.3% as Anglican. Another 8.2% of Australians identify themselves as followers of non-Christian religions. The second-largest classification was the 30.1% who categorised themselves as having "No religion";[1] this is most evident amongst younger people, with 39% of people aged 18–34 choosing that option (it was 12% in 1976).[1]

As in many Western countries, the level of active participation in church worship is much lower than this; weekly attendance at church services is well under 1 million, about 4% of the population.[citation needed]

400px-Fastest_Growing_Religions_in_Austr
 
Hinduism is the fastest growing religion in absolute numbers in every state and territory of Australia.

According to the time series data released with the 2016 census, the fastest growing religious classifications over the ten years between 2006 and 2016 were:

  • No religion – up from 18.7% to 30.1%
  • Hinduism – up from 0.7% to 1.9%
  • Islam – up from 1.7% to 2.6%
  • Sikhism – up from 0.1% to 0.5%

Meanwhile, the greatest decreases were in the major Christian denominations; all Christian denominations combined decreased from 63.9% to 52.1%.[1]

Census data[edit]

 
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