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Ask the Patriarch 18
An Agnostic position on Jesus

From: Natalie Lejeune

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I was doing research for my religious studies class, and one of the questions I had to answer was what are an agnostic's views on Jesus.

Natalie Lejeune

the Patriarch replies:


Generally, an agnostic does not need to take a position on Jesus. Agnostics claim the existence of God is not known, and really that is as far as it has to go.

Without knowledge of a deity, the agnostic would similarly state that any claims that Jesus was the "Son of God" or an aspect of god (as part of a trinity) are also unknowable.

As to the existence of a human being named Jesus who lived in the early part of the first century and who founded (or was the inspiration for) Christianity, the position of agnostics is all over the map - the range is from outright denial of his existence through full acceptance that such a person did live.

What you should be aware of is that Jesus (more correctly transliterated as Yeshua) was a common name at that time - it was the name of almost one man in ten.. Strange isn't it that of all the people mentioned in the new testament, only one had that name? It seems statistically improbable that Jesus Christ never had a noteworthy meeting with another Jesus, yet he cured / revived two different men named Lazarus, a much rarer name. It's almost as if the various writers deliberately tried to turn a common name into a unique one.

My own view is that it is probable (but not certain) a real person did exist who inspired the Christian religion. I have come to this view, not based on the gospels which are full of misinformation, but on the existence of several Christian communities by the middle of the first century - communities which predate the written gospels.

But accepting that Jesus Christ probably existed is no different than accepting that Muhammad existed, that Siddhartha Gautama existed, that Joseph Smith existed, that Mary Baker Eddy existed, that David Koresh existed, that Do existed, or even that I exist. But their existence (including my own) says absolutely nothing about the validity of the belief systems they promulgated.

So whether Jesus Christ existed or not adds nothing to our knowledge of whether or not there is a god. As I wrote in a footnote to Ask the Patriarch 14 as a reply to certain missionaries - "Don't bother with the details of your particular beliefs. First, prove that there is a supreme deity - and only when I'm convinced there is one, will I worry about which cult's embellishments are worthwhile."