About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Socrates vs. Jesus

I have been reading Ronald Gross' Socrates' Way, a philosophical self-help book. Though rather simple, it actually is a good introduction to both Socratic thought and methods, as well as ways in which philosophy can help in everyday life -- just as Socrates meant. Anyway, probably more on the book in the future.

Right now I just wanted to share the following thought. The book occasionally compares Socrates to Jesus. This has been done before (indeed, some of the early Church fathers considered Socrates a pre-Christian saint, whatever that may mean), but it does bother me.

True, the two teachers do share some (though by no means all) their ethical precepts. So do many other great figures of the past (Buddha, for example), and of course so do many contemporary thinkers. Moreover, those precepts are rather generic and quite obvious from the point of view of a workable society (e.g., there wouldn't be much of a society if people felt it were ok to go around randomly killing each other). Hence, the similarity there is superficial.

The difference, on the other hand, is huge. Jesus -- for all we know (since he didn't actually write anything down, another superficial similarity with Socrates) -- claimed to be divine (hence inherently superior to his disciples) and taught by (divine) authority. Socrates claimed to be just a humble person trying to figure things out, and encouraged people to use reason, not faith, to understand what life is about. The Socratic dictum was the same found at the entrance of the oracle at Delphi: Know Thyself, not "got Jesus?"

I can't imagine a sharper difference between the two figures, and in my book Socrates beats Jesus hands down. Next time you face an ethical dilemma, it would make much more sense if you asked yourself: "What Would Socrates Do?"


  1. Is the comparison with Jesus not simply a marketing ploy to avoid alienating christian readers? Or is this too cynical?

  2. That would be very strange "marketing" indeed! No, the comparison is genuine, and I'd like to hear what people think of it.

  3. There's actually some controversy whether the character of Jesus has any basis in historical reality, or is purely mythological. As far as the texts of the gospels, I've read persuasive objections to the widespread teaching that Jesus claims to be divine. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, Islam teaches that he claimed no such thing. I'm not sure if Islam disputes the accuracy of the gospels, or if it accepts them as given, but disputes the Christian interpretation. The arguments I read were written from the point of view of a liberal Christian biblical scholar.

    In any case, I find the character of Jesus as presented in the gospels to be very problematic and far from admirable. Beyond the generic universals you mention in your post, I think he makes a very dubious role model.

    1. The Bible is claimed to be the Word of God, correct? And Jesus did claim to be God come to earth to bring redemption for man's sins.

      We can prove that the Bible is true because we have seen many prophecies from it come true time after time. Also, we have seen it's principles put to work and proven. We have hundreds of identical copies of the original Bible, while Socrate's works simply have a few. Socrate's principles may be similar to those of the Bible, but with fate, chance, and free will, they completely differ.

      Which one sounds more reliable now?

  4. The comparison between the two should be given a bit more credit than it has in this analasis. The similarities are astounding. Imagine, 400 years before Christ, socrates was teaching very similar ethical principles. They both had an enormous influence on western thought, and consequently Jesus may have been influenced by socrates inadvertantly. And most interestingly both jesus and socrates were persecuted for their beliefs. Aside from the fact that jesus was viewed as more than a man, it looks to me that they lived a very similar life, and they both died for what they belive in.

  5. But the most profound difference seems to have escaped you: Socrates argued rationally for his positions, using reason to explore the human condition. Jesus went mystical and used the questionable authority of a god to make his case.

  6. Could it be possible that Jesus and Socrates were the same? Jesus is the Jewish answer to the story of Socrates after they came into contact with the Greeks. Two men who are very similar, one who came about when those two cultures met? The Jews learned the story of Socrates and took that and put a Jewish mysticism / god-fearing spin on it and voila, enter Jesus, the son of God.

    In the end it is the same story only changed due to the differences in cultures. Cultures that were inherently different due to the very different basis of them (nomadic vs. city-states). While the Greeks were in cities worshipping rationality the Jews were wandering around, living off the land believing they were at the mercy of an angry God. It seems plausible that the Jews could have just modified a story that they heard from the Greeks?

  7. Jesus = Christianity
    Socrates = ???? Socratic Method????

    The Bible = The Word of God
    Socrates thinking was at a human level and did not inspire to become a better person.

    Jesus forgave those that persecuted Him
    Socrates, well I don't think he forgave anyone and just died a mortal

    Jesus was resurrected.
    Socrates was not.

    Popularity of Jesus outweighs Socrates hands down. Even people try to write books and movies to highten the hoopla towards Jesus even if it is controversial.

    Overall, Jesus is the way to a better life and Socrates is no comparison.

  8. I beleive that we as human beings by relinquishing who we are do ourselfs a disservice. Being moral is the understanding between what is right and what is wrong. There may be some gray areas but most are quite apparent. To look outside of yourself instead of within you give away your fate to whats available from whatever your church not god believes. I think most people are just scared to tackle the adventure of life on their own. Like the ancients taught before there ever was the word of GOD (not gods) spoken.

  9. Socrates - Use logic.
    Jesus - Use Gods Logic.

    The 613 Mosaic Laws God gave man are Logical(common sense), 1. Dont murder, lie, cheat etc.

    Socrates logic seems to go hand and hand with Jesus's logic of the Laws.

  10. That seems pretty darn illogical to me...

  11. Matthew 7:15
    "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
    Trusting solely in one's own reason is false. It might appear to make sense outwardly, but is essentially empty, subject to human flaws.

  12. Indeed, but wasn't Matthew himself human? :)

  13. Yes Matthew was human, but this saying wasn't from Matthew. It was from Jesus. Matthew was the recorder. Of course, Jesus was human as well but Jesus was perhaps the most attune to God as any other human who ever lived, to the point that Jesus's thoughts and actions were exactly as God wants.

    Socrates re-telling of a soldier who had a near death experience (I believe his name was Ere? somebody help me on that) and his analogy of the shadows in the Cave showed that he understood that we are spiritual beings and that there is life outside of what we currently are experiencing as physical life. Socrates taught us much on how to live in

    They have many similarities. Neither wrote down their teachings - much of what we know of their teachings was recorded by their disciples. They were both exceptional orators. Socrates taught by cross examination while Jesus taught through metaphors and parables.

    They both believed in the necessity of doing what one thinks is right even in the face of universal opposition, and the need to pursue knowledge even when opposed.

    However, where Jesus exceeded was that for Socrates the issue of primary importance was ethics, living a good life, whereupon Jesus taught us WHY we need to live an ethical life and not just how to live one.

  14. I believe that you are mistaken in saying that Jesus claimed to be divine. There is no direct quote in which Jesus himself says he is divine. He asks his disciples "Who do you say I am?" and the disciples reply with their answers. Jesus, I do not believe, ever said that he was the son of God or in anyway divine, though I invite you to prove me wrong with a Bible verse.

  15. Oh, and anonymous, it is Plato's cave, not Socrates' cave. Though, they could be said to be the same since just about everything about Socrates was written by Plato.

  16. to answer your question about Jesus claiming deity...
    there are tons of instances in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) where Jesus blatantly claims divinty. one specific verse:
    "The high priest asked Jesus another question: 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed God?' Jesus answered, 'I am. And in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God, the Powerful One, and coming on the clouds in the sky.'"

  17. Could he not be speaking in the sense that we are all childen (sons/daughters) of God?

  18. "What would Socrates do?" I'm not sure even Socrates himself would be able to answer that question. Surely he saw himself as a virtuous man, but he failed to discern what virtue truly was. So he could do nothing viruous save for what he thought was right for himself. Christ taught clearly what virtue was--to love God and others as yourself--and challenged people to follow in this truth. What would socrates do? He'd probably ask someone else.

  19. The relationship between the early Church fathers and their philosophical background played an important role in shaping the direction of the Church during the 4th century and afterword. There are many elements from the Stoics interwoven even through Paul's work. He was purported to have corresponded with Seneca, though it has also been strongly argued that those epistles were manufactured in the 4th century. Even if he didn't correspond with Seneca, the early Church fathers probably needed to establish a connection between the dominant Roman Stoic philosophy (which was directly decended from Socrates) and the nascent Christianity. We read through the lens of the writers of the Bible, who, under the Roman Empire (or even that descended from Alexander's Hellenistic rule) would have understood well the philosophical thought of the day...

  20. You all are great writers and great philosophers. However, you all can do much better if you do not mix the holy and the sacred with the non holy, the non-sacred.
    The writing of a writer easily identifies him to what he stands for and in whom he believes. We need to stop worship man like us, God gives them a gift or a talent, God did not ask us to make them little gods.
    It is Ok to admire them and to praise them. I praise you too for being able to brake the fear and to express yourself. But, we are not supposed to treat subject that may go beyond our knowledge. If Jesus can raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out demons, help the deaf to hear, the mute to speak, the captive to be free, the blind to see, and to predict what will happen to him and that happens as He predicted and thousands of year prophets announced his coming and he came and left and he will come. He will judge each one of us, He will judge Socrates for His behavior good and bad, how can we try to look for similarity between the two.
    Whatever quality Socrates had, he had to; so do we. We are born to do good, to be sweet, to help others, to understand them, to not kill, to not do evil. to build an honest community, to become good leaders, good citizen, helping our governments and protect the poor.
    This is what God places in His Bible before Socrates was even born. Solomon did more. He had more wisdom. Doing all the good thing will normally place us in the rank of virtuous people. Why cannot we be virtuous? We lost self control. But we do not the weakness of any man because God did not reveal it to us. We need to wait for the eternal judgment of God.
    Socrates did not suffer for the world neither died for the world. He had intelligence he made it available like any good teacher today who writes many good books.
    Your job is good he helps people to read more and understand better. Those who know Jesus but did not know Socrates will learn from you. However, those who know Socrates, but did not know Jesus will never know who Jesus was at least in His best part. Thank you any way you are very open minded and better than me.

  21. As many of you have pointed out, there are similarities between the two of them. I'm not sure that's an issue. You can banter back and forth all you want about who was better.

    The issue I see is the logic behind some of the arguments here.

    Many of you who stand firmly or even shade towards the side that Jesus was "better" use references to God, the bible (the word of said God), and the idea that Jesus claimed to be God.

    Now, I am by no means trying to refute the existence of God. I cannot prove or disprove that. With that, neither can any of you.

    So without the direct proof of existence that God exists, from a logical, philosophical standpoint, you cannot reason that Jesus was better because he was God, or that he came from God. And without the proof that God exists, the "word of God" holds much less merit.

    Socrates was a fantastic individual, as was Jesus. The issue of who is better really will lie in your own heart, and your own opinions.

    But really, doesn't it matter much more who you are, rather than who they are?

    I'm sure they'd be much happier to know that you learned something from them that has made your life better and taught you something about yourself.

  22. Just a couple of pet peeves:

    1) I hate it when Plato is attributed to Socrates, although its hard to figure out when exactly Plato stopped documenting Socrates and started inventing him

    2) When people mention off the cuff that Jesus' philosophy must be superior, simply because he was divine...

    Fine then, a challenge; let's take what Jesus thought was his most important message, and do the same with Socrates, and try to see which one lasts the longest in providing us with a moral guide.

    Rather than repost my entire argument here, you can read it here:

    If you can disprove my logic, I'll attend one Christian mass in the denomination of your choosing.

  23. To the anonymous individual questioning Jesus' claim to divinity:

    You could argue that in reference to the 'Son of God' that he did not claim any unique status in being a child of God.

    The problem comes in with the 'Are you the Christ' part. That's not a name, it's a title. They were NOT saying something akin to 'Are you the Bob, the one I keep hearing about, the Son of God?'

    The Christ, or the Messiah (Hebrew), or the Christos (Greek), means 'Anointed One'. You could paraphrase what they said as 'Are you the Anointed One, the Son of God, whose was prophesied in the Tanakh (Old Testament)?'

    So, at least according to Matthew (which was most certainly not written by anybody who knew Jesus firsthand), Jesus did claim to be divine.

  24. One of the fundamental flaws in Christianity is the dogma of ‘substitutionary sacrifice’, the belief that the death of Christ redeemed mankind by taking away the sins of the world. This doctrine, of course, is based on the primitive practice of scapegoating.

    The British philosopher AJ Ayers wrote:

    ‘Christianity is the worst religion in the world. It rests on the doctrine of redemption through substitutionary sacrifice which is intellectually contemptible and morally outrageous’.

    To be a Christian one must believe in the efficacy of scapegoating. Since time immemorial scapegoating has been one of the most destructive and despicable features of human behaviour. Socrates himself was one of the most illustrious victims. The Jews in Nazi Germany were, of course, also victims of scapegoating. Scapegoating is standard practice in politics, workplaces and in society in general to punish, expel and/or destroy ‘dissidents’and ‘enemies of the people’ who are considered ‘undesirable’, for whatever reason. One of the most common reasons for scapegoating individuals or groups is their questioning the authoritarian fallacies endorsed by the ‘moral majority’ (ie, the 65% of people on average who, according to Stanley Millgram’s famous experiment, are prepared to do anything if told to do so by an authority figure.)

    As a species, we will never come to grips with the most serious and chronic problems that beset us until we first try to systematically eradicate scapegoating as a panacea for our social, political and organisational ills. In this regard, Christianity, given its intrinsic doctrinal basis as above referred to, is not only useless but actually exacerbates the dire situation we are now in.

  25. Well, am I right or am I right? In the spirit of Zenophanes and his philosophical descendants, including the great Socrates, I would greatly welcome a dialectic response to my previous post. Remember - you religiosos, particularly - qui tacet consentire.

  26. I see. Still no response! I wonder if I'm being frozen out, ostracised or, if I may coin a word, 'Socratised' out of this blogging community. If so, all I can say is plus ca change...

  27. J,

    I don't think you're being Socraticized (nice term :) it's just that people tend not to check old posts...

  28. Thanks for that ackowledgment, Massimo. By the way, as it may annoy certain interlocutors that I haven't provided information about myself, perhaps I should explain. Firstly, I have tried to enter details in that regard but, for some technical reasons that I as an IT ignoramus do not understand, I wasn't able to do it. Secondly, I wouldn't have disclosed very much information anyway due to unfortunate goings on in my real life environment. They may not burn heretics at the stake anymore, but they have other ways of achieving a similar outcome! As they say in Russia, 'If you're not paranoid, you haven't got all the information.'

  29. Although many of their teachings on how to live with virtue are parallel, one main difference between them is that Jesus made a point of saying that those who live unpleasant lives are the ones who are being just and virtuous and will be rewarded in the next life, whereas Socrates taught that living a just life was the only way to be truly happy in life. So for Jesus being just would lead to a good afterlife even if it made for a unhappy life on earth and Socrates claimed nothing about an afterlife only that being just would make your life on earth a happy one.

  30. Truth is irrefutable. Isn't it, Rachel.

  31. If we examine the bases of the methodologies/philosophies employed by both Jesus and Socrates it seems to come down to the issue of LOVE-COMPASSION-JUSTICE for your fellow man. More tangibly speaking Socrates said "a virtuous man would not do harm to his enemies" and Jesus said "do good to them that despitefully use you". They both engaged themselves in the pursuit of the TRUTH (epistemologists). Jesus said "I am the truth",why, because in an essence the truth is reality and a lie is a fantasy. Both MEN'S rudimentary philosohy I beleive held the position that a lie should not be accepted or embraced under in circumstances. Social conditions if predicated on a lie can not and will not ever improve the conditions of the populous. If the fantasies of the people in accepting a lie persists in outweigh-in the fundamental irrefutable consequences of ascribing principles of evil and negativity to socially accepted behaviors, well, to put it plainly, is idiotic, void of logic and backward, which if you have not noticed is where civilization is headed.
    A matter pertaing to a conflict can not be resolved honestly or justly if the proponents of the truth are insidiously ingnored to further the agenda of the ignorer? The real question should be what is the motivation propelling this blatant attempt to bury the truth that a lie may succeed? and at what cost? I do not see the reaoning associated with the competitive tone between Jesus and Socrates in the sense that this dialogue has framed them as adversaries.On the contrary they are allies in the struggle against ignorance.When you reflect on the substantive issues they addressed. Socrates illuminated the way for Jesus to expand upon his philosohies in order to bring them to the pennacle that truth had to offer(KNOWLEDGE). Jesus had aspired to such a high level of attainment in the area truth which is equivalent of knowledge faith began to develop, if I be killed my Father will raise me up again, because the knowledge of the truth is POWER.That is why they killed Socrates as well as Jesus to maintain the status quo. From the little bit I know about Socrates it appears that he dealt in the here and now philosophy and Jesus took it to another level involving the spiritual/unseen world. You have to acknowledge that there are phenomenon that exists in our world that can not be recognized with the naked eye such as atoms.I believe that Jesus employed the philosophies of Socrates either serendipitously or through academics.This enabled Jesus to see in another dimension. This is why Jesus spoke of spiritual things. Either way, one persons plants, the other person waters and God brings the increase. I see this as a procession of knowledge that adheres to the principles of truths. This may not be the proper academic terminologies, so I am going to give it to you in a subculture literary venue. The truth bares the fruit of productivity, conversely a lie bares the sore taste of disappointments, labors which are expended in vain ect.. A lie has a beginning an a end,whereas the truth replicates itself infinitively.Example: when a theory in any field of study that is found out not to possess the merits it was thougth to contain that theory is canned. Why because it was fruitless.I read where a wise man said if the fig tree bares no fruit then hew it down.A lie should be dealt with in like manner. Darwins theory of evolution still to this day bares no fruit.Why do we even to this very day continue to let that false doctrine be taugth to our children when it has not passed the test of empirical evidence? When a lie runs it's course it inevititably has to collide with the wall of truth which no lie can penetrate. Darwin's theory not only contains one flawed premise but two."As might be expected, a fatally flawed theory does not work". It met the wall. Why hasn't it been hewn down yet? I also read that PEOPLE are going to rather except a lie rather than the truth. What are we barbarians,shame on us. Jesus and Socrates colleagues not combatants.

  32. That's all fine and dandy, bunny, but what about the fallacy of substitutionary sacrifice?

  33. How can Christianity have anything to do with truth, when it is founded on a fallacy?

    How can it have anything to do with compassion, when it promotes the belief that 'sacrificing' (ie persecuting and/or torturing and/or murdering) an innocent victim is a good thing?

  34. Truth is irrefutable. Isn't it, bunny?

  35. O.K j said this thing about substitutionary sacrifice can ownly be comprehended in the context in which the creator wanted it to be understood and that is by believers.The bible says that the "wages" of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord(Romans 6:23 KJV)The bible says that there is a wage, an amount a price, that the collector of sin debt has to be paid.And in order to have this debt canceled there must be a shedding of blood."And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."(Hebrews 9:22 KJV)Just think of it like this j said, it is the policy of the administration that it be done this way and FORGETABOUTIT. NOW THAT'S THE TRUTH.PEACE

  36. J said that last comment by anonymous is actually bunny said. Some how it got messed up.

  37. Scapegoating or substitutionary sacrifice is the victimisation of an innocent human being. It is immoral, irrational and can serve no good purpose.

    Any religion or belief system based on the dogma that scapegoating is useful and good cannot be moral or rational. It cannot credibly claim to be concerned with morality, truth, compassion, justice or love, because scapegoating, upon which it is based, is the antithesis of all these things.

    The simple truth of these statements is irrefutable, no matter what mumbo jumbo is invoked to try to confuse matters.

    Peace, Man.

  38. Or Woman, as the case may be.

  39. Wow, very good topic. Okay well I didn't read all the post but here goes:

    J, when I was 14 I got arrested for ripping radios out of cars. Now since, according to state law, i was too young to offer financial reconciliation guess who had to pay up. My parents did. In fact, you as a citizen of the polis or the victim of my car jacking ways would no doubt hold my parents as responsible. This is how the idea of Christian redemption works -- God sacrificing, making payment; atonement for another, is not illogical at all.

    As for Socrates, well his cave analogy is indeed his own as I think all the poets and historical writings of the time reference or allude to this analogy (try Aristophanes Clouds -- simply marvelous)

    To me, the most interesting thing about Socrates teaching (now granted this maybe Plato) in relation to the person of Jesus is the idea of the Philosopher King. Lets be honest, Socrates as a philosopher is more interested in truth than he is in making a job description for himself -- so i dont buy that argument in regards to his idea here. The fact is, the logos leads him to rationalize that the only end to the ills of man is a person who is able to both be excellent in philosophizing (his eyes to the heavens) and two, be excellent in ruling (his eyes to the earth). This two nature idea (pahilosopher and king) in the Republic is indicative of the judaic account of the Priestly King (that which is claimed as Christ in the gospels). And lets not even go into the fact that the polis because of injustice must kill this person, nor shall we jump into the Heavenly City that Socrates wishes for vs the New Jerusalem that John describes in his masterpiece comedy Revelations --maybe in a subsequent post :)

  40. Well, Jim, firstly, I suppose, I should thank you for not shouting at me like the previous contributor. It is unfortunate that you did not read the previous recent posts because if you did you would have a better understanding of what the topic of those posts actually was.

    The anecdote about your youthful misdemeanour is not relevant to the topic of scapegoating (or ‘substitutionary sacrifice’, to use those lovely weasel theological terms so dear to religiosos). To spare you the bother of reading those posts I will again explain what scapegoating is. Perhaps the must succinct and memorable definition of scapegoating is that of Sir James Frazer in his classic anthropological study, The Golden Bough, where he called it, ‘The Expulsion of Embodied Evils’ (p. 562).

    According to the perverted logic of scapegoating, all the sins, real or imagined, of a group or society are attributed to or blamed on a particular individual or sub-group. This falsehood is then used as a pretext to persecute, expel and/or destroy the individual or sub-group in question to ‘expiate’ (another weasel theological term) or expunge the sins of the society or larger group. Can anything be more irrational, unethical and downright evil? Yet this is a fundamental tenet of Christianity.

    The incident from your youth that you cite had nothing to do with scapegoating or substitutionary sacrifice. That was a matter of a pragmatic financial transaction where your parents compensated somebody for the damage caused by you to that person’s property. Such a payment does not imply any displacement of blame from the guilty to the innocent (an intrinsic function of scapegoating) no more than payment of bail on behalf of somebody charged with a crime implies that the party paying thereby becomes guilty of the crime. (Presumably your parents explained to you that the fact that they were paying for the damage you had caused did not exonerate you of your guilt and that you understood that to be the case.)

    To justify the horrific torture and murder of Christ on the absurd ground that it somehow removed the sins of the world is to defend the indefensible. To adopt that position is to likewise justify the murder of Socrates on trumped up charges as well as the murder of his fictionalised doppelganger in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. It is also to justify all the abominable acts of scapegoating in history, including the mass murder of purported witches and heretics by the Church and the mass murder of Jews and others by the Nazis (all of whom, by the way, had a Christian background).

    I shall end this contribution with two apposite quotes, the first from Albert Einstein:

    ‘A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear and punishment and hope of reward after death. It is therefore easy to see why the Churches have always fought science and persecuted its devotees.’

    The second quote is from Thomas S Szasz, that great hunter of witch hunters:

    ‘I believe, indeed, that in the rejection, or transcending, of the scapegoating principle lies the greatest moral challenge for modern man. On its resolution may hinge the fate of our species’.

  41. "Such a payment does not imply any displacement of blame from the guilty to the innocent"

    Sure it does. My parents never committed the act so they never took the blame, nor did Jesus commit any sins. But my parents made the payment which compensated 100% for the blame. In this sense the payment itself became and nullified the guilt. In Christian teaching the Father is like my parents and Christ is the payment, and likewise this is why Christian doctrine must believe and say that Jesus became sin.

    Look I'm not out to defend Christian dogma, but you should at least understand it if you are going to use logic to carry you through these Christian waves of faith (to sample another saying of Plato).

    Insulting any faith with name calling and peppering your posts with angst doesn't help anyone understand these "greatest of things", and is certainly a more poetic gesture than philosophic. Nor (I'm convinced) is it going to help you in your quest for understanding (if that is your quest).

    Now if you've been wronged in the past by any faith based group then my sympathies and heart are with you man, but you're going to live with a lot of anger if you don't learn to forgive and move on.

    But now that's an interesting idea. Forgiveness takes an act of love and Socrates never has much to say about Love as a virtue. Wisdom, Courage and Moderation are his justice. What is justice? The Polemarchian answer in the Republic was to give to friends good and enemies bad (give each what he deserves). Now Jesus brings something new to the conversation. Jesus says, love your enemies and bless those who curse you. Why would anyone want to do that, for surely that is the road of suffering? The answer is that in loving your enemies they might become your friends.

  42. Jim, I am not going to be dragged down into the level of discussion to which you have now descended with your emotive response and your assumptions about me personally.

    The fact that you have resorted to the age old 'ad hominem' ploy is in itself an acknowledgment of your failure to logically rebut my position.

    If you are not amenable to reason, there’s nothing more I can do to help you.

    Real faith, in my view, is faith in ones capacity to think conscientiously and rationally and to confront falsehoods and iniquities wherever one finds them.

  43. J said your position is a position which we expect the unbeliever to take, one of ridicule and skepticism. The less enlightened ask if there was a God why would He do it that way? The point is that God can do whatever God wants to do that's what makes God God.When Job questioned God in the bible God asked Job where were you when I put the sun in the sky or where were you when I put the stars in heaven or the seas to stop at dry lands edge. Job finally understood what God was telling him I'm God and your not. J said I challenge you to study the concept of sacrifice from a biblical prospective. I mean research the scriptures and find the fallacy in it and get back to me.Remember this all started when we compared Socrates to Jesus, but I have heard no mention of Socrates in these interchanges....

  44. looking at some of the earlier "bunny" posts and others, I'd like to point out some significant inaccuracies about Socrates views.

    Something was said to the effect that Socrates dealt with "the here and now" and "dealt in the here and now philosophy and Jesus took it to another level involving the spiritual/unseen world." Please, please read Socrates before using him to support your points. If you've read ANY of Socrates or Plato, you would understand that they both believed in the idea of an afterlife. First of all, the entire allegory of the cave (Plato) talks about the soul: the illusion of reality, looking beyond the physical to find the spiritual. We know for sure that Plato was either a follower of Socrates or the creator of his character. Either way, he shares distinct similarities with Socrates. In Gorgias, Socrates finishes the book with his explanation of his belief in the final judgment of one's soul. The condition of the soul determines where one will spend eternity. He just calls those places different names than Jesus did: Elysian fields (Heaven) and Tartarus (Hell). Of course we call THAT Greek "mythology", and the Bible absolute "truth". Funny how that works.

    It's highly unlikely that the Bible is the origin of the idea of an afterlife. It's really not the origin of most of its ideas. Many parts of it are essentially a twist on cultures that existed before it, esp. Babylonian culture, which it so adamantly condemns. I would go into detail about the inconsistencies in the Bible and the inaccurate interpretation of it, but there have been entire books written about those things. If there hadn't been a billion Christian-friendly translations and apologetic revisions of the Bible, perhaps we'd be able to better judge its content. I guess the original "Word of God" wasn't good enough.

  45. Archie, when I said that Socrates was dealing in the here and now I was referring to what the writer quoted in Socrates v Jesus, "Socrates... encouraged people to use reason, not faith, to understand what life is about". I was addressing her comment and if you read my comment I said that I am not that fimilar with Socrates. I believe I defended both Socrates and Jesus as great thinkers, each worthy of recognition, not as combatants but co-workeres in the struggle against ignorance the stem root of all evil.

  46. Bunny, even though I have very important and urgent things in my life to attend to at the moment, I’m replying to your latest post as you requested and as a matter of courtesy.

    It doesn’t matter what text(s) you adduce in this regard, whether it’s the Bible or Grimm’s Fairy Tales, you cannot justify the unjustifiable. Or to quote from Shakespeare, ‘The devil can quote scripture to suit his purpose’.

    The truth of what I have said regarding the fallacy of substitutionary sacrifice has not been refuted. It cannot be refuted because, as I have said, truth is irrefutable.

    Regarding your inference that I have not mentioned Socrates in my contributions, that is not so. If you read my posts you will see that I have repeatedly mentioned him.

    What is more important, however, than mentioning Socrates’ name is the spirit of Socrates, by which I mean the mode of thinking and living that he is associated with and of which he is still generally regarded as one of the greatest exponents.

    As far as I am concerned, the most useful purpose of a discussion such as this is not to compare Socrates and Jesus as persons but to compare the systems of thought and living that they respectively represent. As I have already suggested, the question is not whether to have faith or to have no faith. In my view, the question is whether one has faith in and commits oneself to a rational and ethical mode of living or an irrational and unethical mode of living. As I have made clear in my posts, Socrates represents the former mode and Christ (or at least Christianity, since it is not clear what exactly Christ as a person represents in terms of intellectual or ethical principles) represents the latter.

    It is disappointing that nobody of the Socratic ‘faith’ became involved in the discussion in support of me. The only people besides me who became engaged in the ‘substitutionay sacrifice’ discussion were of the Christian persuasion. I was left fighting it out with a number of opponents on my own. The fact that I prevailed in the discussion is not the issue – truth will always prevail so long as there is somebody to take the trouble to uphold it. It does make it easier, however, to fight for the truth if one has at least the moral support of others.

    I hope that the silence of my would-be intellectual and moral allies is not due to a kind of despair that, notwithstanding the outcome of a minor skirmish such as our debate here, the war is lost anyway. If it is lost, it is probably because human beings as a species have renegued on the great tradition that Socrates represents. This betrayal is well documented, as for example in Francis Wheen’s excellent book, How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World. (Why do I have the feeling, Bunny, that you have never read a book of this kind, that is to say, a book that would challenge the indoctrination you have displayed in this debate?)

    Since the Atlantic Revolution of the late eighteenth century, Europe and North America have been in a position to lead by example in introducing ‘Enlightenment’ principles to humanity on a world wide scale. Instead they have flouted these principles wholesale in abusing and exploiting the people and resources of the world without any regard for ethical, rational or environmental considerations. They have raped the world and sucked the marrow from the bone.

    The (middle aged) generation in the western world to which I belong has been the beneficiary, on a material level at least, of that imperialism and as a result it is one of the most fortunate generations in history – if not indeed the most fortunate. However, it now seems that the party is over. No empire lasts for ever and unfortunately there are signs that our empire will not go down without bringing all of life on this planet down with it. To quote from a Leonard Cohen song, ‘I’ve seen the future and it’s murder’.

    Clinging to belief systems that are obviously false is not going to help our situation but only worsen it. Christianity, as above pointed out, is not only fallacious but also dangerous and iniquitous, since the dogma of substitutionary sacrifice facilitates the scapegoating of the brave, sane and rational minority who are prepared to speak out against the authoritarian fallacies of the masses that are leading us to perdition. Hence the significance of the Thomas S Szasz quote in my previous post.

    Please excuse the length of this post. As nobody else is saying here what needs to be said, it is up to me to say it.

  47. OK, having pressed the button, released that last post into cyberspace and thought about it, I now realise that my comments regarding the capacity of Europe and North America to propagate in a benign manner the Enlightenment ‘faith’ were simplistic and incorrect. In Europe the Enlightenment/ humanist intellectual tradition was probably never in a sufficiently strong position in the 19th century for it to be exclusively the driving force in national or international politics. It wasn’t until after the First World War, for example, that democracy took root in Europe and then it was subverted by the totalitarian dictatorships of fascism and Stalin. All of which underlines the fragility of ‘Enlightenment’ institutions and the tremendous power of the irrational forces that constantly threaten to destroy them, thus replicating on a collective level what Freud said about the psychology of the individual.

    That’s what happens when one tries to say too much in too short a space and when one has not given sufficient attention to what one has written.

  48. J Said, everyone that I told to read the post said that you would have and excuse not to do the research and they were right much to my dismay. I would like to congratulate you on your insight into your self corrective post- thought condemantion that you addressed, very good. Emotionalism sometimes interferes with the the reality of a situation and we say things to that try to fortify our positions even if it is totally fallacuos. Example, your arguing with your girl friend and you bring up something that happened 10 years ago that she did but is not RELATED to the debate at hand, that's called transferring to avoid. I like your ability to communicate your position, but I disagree with it. Are you ascerting that Christianity is dangerous like some of the more radical eastern religions? And, as far as the books that I have read, what I do as an apologist is eliminate fact from fiction through RESEARCH NOT AVOIDANCE,whatever the topic is, Garbage in Gargabe. I think we need a few qualifiers, do you believe in a HIGHER POWER? Let us start for with that . And by the lenght of your last post you could of done a considerable amount of researh on the concept on SACRIFICE. Do you eat fish, meat or poultry? The reason why I think your alone on this issue that we have been debating is because people are comfortable believing what they think to be true, but the Bible says," There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.(Proverbs 14:12 KJV)It takes a strong person to really seek the truth, anyone can believe whatever is convenient, for instance the fallacy of tradition, Jesus has been portaryed as european for so long a great majority of the western poplution believes that he is. I enjoy you this is Bunny

  49. OK, anonymous/bunny, or whoever you are, in view of the confusion as to your identity, I now have to suspect that there is some kind of wind-up going on – something that probably should have occurred to me sooner.

    Anyway, anonymous/bunny, thank you for saying you enjoy my humble contributions to this debate and I would like to return the compliment. By the way, since you ask, I am a vegan. I have been for many years and I expect I will be for the rest of my life. My reasons for being vegan are primarily ethical. It should be noted that some of the greatest thinkers and artists in western civilisation have been vegans or vegetarians. By the way, why do you assume that I’m male?

    Your comment about Jesus not being European suggests a misunderstanding by you of what I said in my previous post about the Enlightenment. And on the question of the existence of a ‘Higher Power’, I would refer you to what Bertrand Russell said about the ‘first cause argument’.

    Regarding the research that you mention, I already know more than enough about the Bible to understand what it is all about. I note that you have ignored the question I raised in my last post as to whether you have read any literature that problematises or challenges your Bible centred world view. I believe you need to consider the importance of the difference between being indoctrinated and being informed.

    I have already made it clear what my view of Christianity is. Of course, I regard people such as Muslim fanatical theocrats as extremely dangerous and repugnant. However, ‘why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye’?

    As already indicated, I believe the only hope for humanity is for us to face up to the reality of our situation in a rational ethical manner. As Freud said, that is not an easy way to go. In this regard he used the expression, ‘the strain of civilisation’, but it is better in the long run than the irrational escapism of religion.

    Regards, J.

  50. Socrates is concerned with Justice and supported its cause against the sophists of Athens of his time. His main purpose was to make justice rational in the face of strong and compelling arguments for injustice. (such as Thrasymachus in Bk I of the Republic.)

    The difficulty, was that many of the debates end up in Aporeia... that is, neither side has decisively won the dialogue. So, if one were already inclined to the side of justice Socrates could help you see that your belief was rational in the face of opposition, but could not convince someone commited to radically different premises. (such as callichles in the Gorgias)

    However, Justice is still on tenous grounds so long as one holds to the faith that it is, after all, the best of things. One is always in danger of backsliding or being seduced and never quite completely convinced. (at least, us normal people of not nearly heroic a disposition and temperance as Plato's Socrates)

    Hence, I can see why a religion that seems to have a 'Just man' who remained just in spite of all hardships and being possesed of great power, (see Ring of Geiges example BK II of the Republic... who could remain just with such a ring? Can such a man truly exist?Well, christians say... yes he can and did. Read this passage with Jesus in mind and well, it's not proof, but one can certainly see how a platonist would find Jesus very compelling! ) and a system that rewards the just in the end (heaven) and combines this with a God that's very amenable (compared to other deities lying around) to a merging with the platonic doctrine of the forms, would be very tempting to some platonists.

    That is to say... briefly and crudely, for the Platonists who loves justice and virtue and yet despairs because he is not so sure that it IS better than injustice, Christianity can say, supposedly from the highest of authorities and with the starkest of signs, that yes, oh men of virtue, your faith in justice is well grounded. Do not despair. The universe may seem like a crappy place to live in but persevere, for it is, after all, the true and the best path that you follow.

    Yeah, kind of talking off the top of my head there, but that's my thoughts on Socrates and Jesus. Socrates gives us a good account of justice, and can, by rational argument, get us to at least suspend from dispensing with it entirely and embracing injustice, but cannot deliver the 'goods' (i.e. that justice is best) in quite the spectacular way that Christ can(IF that is, you believe him). So I see them actually going together quite well.

  51. So please do me a favor people and can you share some insight on the similarities and differences between Martin Luther King Jr. and Socrates? My philosophy professor asked us to do an assignment (the assignment will be turned in before people will most likely to respond and I have my paper pretty much written) where we needed to state the differences and similarities between Socrates and either Jesus OR Martin Luther King Jr. (I choose Jesus for mine and your (ALL) arguments help me in strengthening my paper (thank you). I thought that my professor asked an interesting question, one I thought you might appreciate and I am eager to see the responses. I also gave my professor the link for this site because it has intrigued me so much. I bid you all good luck in finding the answers.

  52. Possibly, Jesus was the Christian adoption of Socrates; a Socrates for the poor. Socrates was already considered a messianic role model by the pagan elite. Striking similarities:

    (1) Both claim to represent the divine. (Socrates is fulfilling the prophesey of the Gods and threatens the jurors with divine retribution after the sentencing).
    (2)Neither claim to fear death.
    (3)Both tell their followers not to interfere with the execution.

    Its possible that Socrates is goading the jurors and hopes for the death sentence.

  53. >>Socrates claimed to be just a humble person trying to figure things out, and encouraged people to use reason, not faith, to understand what life is about.<<

    This is incorrect. There is quite a bit of hubris. Read the trial. He considers himself a person on a divine mission; the gods have sent him to englighten the Athenians. Socrates "humby and reluctantly" accepts the divine pronouncement that he is the wisest of all men.

    Socrates did, in fact, conflate the Athenian gods into one God. And he was quite the mystic (possible a believer in reincarnation). And despite his pretense to rational arguments - they are piss poor (at least by modern standards); he seems unable to understand the idea of ambiguity in language.

    Anyway, the similarities between these two figures are more compelling than their differences.

  54. Well Massimo, it seems you don't have a lot of people agreeing with you on the subject, but I agree all the way.

    I think it is just hard for people to found their lifes on their own ratio completely, because there seems to be no solid ground if all premises can be refuted when proven wrong. I suppose they just think the bible will tell guide them when moral issues arise and some even believe the history and the stories about the origin of heaven, earth, animal and man the absolute truth.

    To the rational mind these stories have long been refuted. Concerning moral issues you can take any part of the bible that suits your own rationale best.

    I agree with you in the opinion that Socrates is to be preferred above Jesus, because Socrates doesn't expect you to have absolute faith in his way like Jesus does. All he does is take a premise and analyze it rationally. When taken a different look at things or when new facts arise the conclusions can be different, which puts our morals and explanation of natural an spiritual issues on a less solid base then the Gospels do.

    Some reactions were kind of funny because I read a Tucholsky story once written somewhere in the thirties where Hitler and Goethe are compared by a fictious member of the Hitler Jugend writing an essay about the two. Of course Hitler wins hands down on popularity and effectiveness as does Jesus in some reactions here.
    (story is either in "Zwischen Gestern und Morgen" or in "Panter, Tiger und Co". I read a dutch translation myself.

    Also Darwins theory is refuted as not being fruitful. It can of course only be fruitful in understanding natural history, like for instance the distribution of Cichlids in the Great African lakes attributed to the rise and fall of water levels. It is not an economic or a physics theory that gives us an effective means to make money or nuclear power.

  55. nice Aristotelian interpretation. I'm not sure why Aristotelian's imagine they understand Plato. Maybe since they can read they assume they comprehend. I'm always a bit befuddled by this.

  56. As a Christian I agree with J's criticism of the doctrines of substitutionary sacrifice and scapegoating; and I believe Jesus would do too. He was only the last in a line of great Jewish prophets who expressed very much the same view. See, for example, Amos 5.21-24: "I hate, I despise your religious feasts ... Even though you bring me burnt offerings I will not accept them ... But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream." Or Micah 6.6-8: "With what shall I come before the Lord? ... Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams? ... Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgressions? ... [No] He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Or Hosea 6.6: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." This last passage was quoted by Jesus, Mt.12.7: "If you had known what these words meant, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice', you would not have condemned the innocent." And the lawyer who was given as high praise by Jesus as anyone (Mk.12.28-34): "To love [God] with all your understanding and all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices", to which Jesus, seeing that he had answered wisely, replied "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

    The idea that the death of Jesus was a sacrifice which had the effect of absolving human beings from their sins in the eyes of God did not come from Jesus but from Paul, who was educated by the great Jewish lawyer Gamaliel in the Temple, with its daily sacrifices and rituals and the ceremony of the scapegoat. It was later developed by Augustine, Anselm and Calvin into the doctrine of penal substitution, which a leading English churchman has recently described as a "monstrous" doctrine, abhorrent to all right-thinking people. A.J. Ayer is only right about this particular aspect of Christianity, which I agree is morally outrageous. More and more members of the Church of England, clergy and laity, are coming round to this point of view. It is quite untrue, as J says, that "To be a Christian one must believe in the efficacy of scapegoating." J must have met a particularly narrow brand of Christianity if that is all he can see in it. There is a great deal more, both in the teaching of Jesus and in quite a lot of the commonsense observations and advice given by Paul in his letters. One should always look for the best in any religion before expressing a judgement on it.

  57. Dear Massimo,

    I was interested to come upon your blog because I just published my latest book, Socrates and Jesus: The Argument that Shaped Western Civilization. In the current heated atmosphere of debate between atheists and those who attempt to reconcile Judeo-Christian doctrine with modern science, I believe it takes a middle way that tries to show how the Judeo-Christian and Greek Socratic traditions have both made crucial contributions to the forging of our unique western culture.

    The book argues that the dynamism of Western culture, for better or worse, has arisen because unlike most great cultures, which have a unitary mythology, Western civilization is driven by two constantly completing belief systems: the Judeo-Christian, personified here by Jesus, and the Greek philosophic-scientific tradition personified by Socrates. The dialectic of these two belief systems constitute the moving parts of Western civilization and accounts for its aggressiveness, individualism, inquisitiveness, and propensity for democracy. The book follows this debate about how society means from its origins through the various phases of Western civilization to the current day.

    Socrates and Jesus is currently available from the publisher (www.Algora.com), Google Books, electronically, and on Amazon, and is working its way into the bookstores, although the official publication date is January, 2010. Would it be OK if I corresponded with the site (I'm sort of a blog novice) -- Best -- Michael Hattersley

  58. Ok, i have noticed a lot of general wrongness in these comments, the bible is NOT written in anyway by Jesus, people wrote about him, similarly to socrates. Socrates also did not develop "the land of forms" as you called it (actually called the realm of forms), it was Plato. Thirdly, comparing the ideas and greatness of the two is clearly wrong, as Sesus preached faith, Socrates preached reason, Jesus claimed divinity, whilst Socrates knew he was mortal. HOWEVER, it IS fair to compare their lives, as both led similar lives, and in the same way it is fair to say that both had a major impact on modern philosophy.

  59. Hi guys I'm just a student learning about socates and Plato and I do believe in Jesus. I just want to say that all off you have some very interesting points. And I just want to say what I see so far the biggest defference between the two is that socrates came to question and try to reason everything will Jesus came to say and to show how to live and why to live a good and faithful life. Jesus showed us how to love and why to love. That is the biggest thing is to love no matter what the cituation may be. Once you experiance God you just know that he is real and than devolope the faith that we are not going to know all the answered the world or our mind throws at us but just not to dwell so much on the answered but to take what we do know and share that with other to let them know and encourage others. We are here to serve and mainly to love for Jesus loved us and gave himself for us. I once hurd that "I didn't ask Jesus to go on the cross and die for me, so why should I even care" I beleive that is how much he loves us is that he doesn't have to ask us if he could die for us but he will do it anyways just to know that we may have a chance to be saved.God Bless you guys and pray for you all!

  60. Socrates wouldn't let people like you have blogs. Read the Republic, he was against democracy and all for censorship.

  61. There's nothing illogical about the bloggers opinion. I think it is plausible that the Christians were influenced by philosophers of their time. It makes some sense that Socrates may have influenced some students on their quest to find truth. The school of Socrates taught a critical way of looking at authority figures-- they taught that reason is truth-- there's some similarities in the ethics and teachings of both groups. It's just that Jesus is a deity who may just be a deified concept of some sort. I think there is some underlying principle behind Jesus that didn't come out so well... Perhaps certain people were ignorant of philosophy and put their own stamp on the religion of Christianity. It makes some sense that Buddhism and Christianity influenced one another and Socrates may have influenced both to some extent. I cannot prove it without a doubt--but I can say that there's no doubt that they have some similarities.

  62. It is my view that Jesus is not a good role model - much like a maligned hollywood star with a drug problem. Jesus had superpowers, Socrates was just a man. Children can become like their fathers because they are similar beings. A man cannot become like a god. The fundamental flaw lies in that a man only knows what it is to be mortal and thus cannot know what it is to be a god without experiencing it. Just as well a god cannot know what it is to be human because a god only knows what it is to be a god.
    Jesus cheats by imposing the idea of God even though this idea is flawed by the fact that it is a result of human thought. Human thought should not be trusted if it cannot be reasoned.
    Socrates wins because he was mortal and true to his nature. Jesus was mortal and then not. By the way, Jesus doesn't "quite" die for our sins because, well, he's still alive. The flaws are endless. I used the above because christianity is about being like christ..mission impossible. Jesus knew that God exists, he didn't have faith. People don't know that God exists, that's why they need faith. Christianity is extremely inconsistent due to the inconsistent and inconceivable life/existence of Jesus.
    Again, Socrates wins by technical knockout

    1. Wow, that was just....wow.
      Comaring Christ to a maligned hollywood actor with a drug problem is far from the truth. Technically, if you die and come back to life, you still died, so yes, he died for our sins. Suddenly because Socrates was a mortal he beats the Good Shepherd? The man who had been innocently crucified? You're statement is completely illogical, and is built around your own personal bias. You are aware you are comparing the lives of two men who never wrote anything down, and their testimonies are from others who knew them, right? BTW, being a Christian is to strive to be like Christ. Yes, despite your own personal judgement (as poor as it is) people can and have become more Christ-like.

  63. Reading through all the above posts, I believe that Socrates is a better role model since he was human.

    Using Jesus as a role model will (like the above poster states) frustrate inevitably due to his "divinity".

    Although, striving to follow Jesus' virtues (knowing that one can never BE Jesus) isn't wrong. His virtues were humane and positive.

    As for Christianity being "based on a fallacy", I somewhat disagree. Sure the concept of scape goating is bad (for HUMANS). But what about divine beings or gods? Who's to really say whats what for the divine?

    Again... Religion comes down to faith. ALL religions do. You either believe in something or you don't. Trying to convince people otherwise is quite impossible and will only cause frustration for both parties


  64. The belief that we know our fate and our God(s) is a belief that is not wise to follow. We have never seen divinity and can therefore only guess what it truly is.

    Socrates believed in Gods or a God, but he never stated anything more. He explained that he did not know their names or their image, but he believed in their existence most likely because he came to the conclusion that something must have created the reality we know. He believed in the Greek characters such as Orpheus and Odysseus, but no evidence suggests he believed the stories of these characters completely. He did believe in their characteristics, however.

    Socrates did believe himself a gift of God. He believed that he was chosen to teach philosophy and virtue. This is similar to Jesus. He stated this at his judgement and even stated that the multitude should not blame his murderers. That he forgives them.

    The problem with the time period was that most people were not literate. So, somewhere along the line, people altered the truth. There is strong evidence that Christianity is based off of paganism. There is strong belief that there were more books to the Bible. So, what people believe now may be the consequence of the past.

    I do not suggest people stop believing in God(s), but do consider that people cannot claim truth to something which is only perceived within text. If that were the case, I would be able to claim that fiction is nonfiction.

    I do suggest people realize what is perceivable. Do what is virtuous and understand how ignorant humanity is. Wisdom is something no one can achieve, but in our pursuit of wisdom, we will achieve a world much greater than the one we see now.

  65. As Linus put it

    "There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."



  66. I have to disagree with the article. Jesus clearly is much more of a better choice then Socrates. What I have noticed in this article is that because Jesus was divine, you jump to the notion that he was better than his disciples. Even though that yes, he is the author and perferctor of life, by no means did he ever assume superiority to any of them. In fact, Jesus refers to them as friends and not servants. The HUGE difference between Socrates and Jesus is that Jesus is/was the Messiah that was prophesied to come and save us all. Socrates, a dedicated man to philosophy and Athens, was just a man. They served much different purposes. Yes, he was wise, but the wisdom of Christ is so easy to understand that a child could get it. You make it seem that faith and reasoning are on two seperate plateus, when the two work hand in hand. Perhaps if you hadn't taken a secular stance, and rather an unbiased one, you may have assumed a better explanation for your conclusion. Socrates may have been great, but he never said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", and "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

  67. It's weird that none of you seem to remember that Socrates claimed to have a "divine sign" from time to time. So, although he is a tad bit more logical than Jesus, he still was only trying to obtain the truth due to the Gods and the Prophets at Delphi; similar.

    1. The story of Jesus is an anology for the story of Socrates. The most profound similarity is where Jesus died for the sins of mankind...Socrates dies for the sins of mankind (that is the will of democratic society operating under free will in the Apology). The difference is Socrates actually existed, where biblical stories are consciously created to explain these pre-christian stories as Homer's epics demonstrated how profoundly stories can shape societies (the spread of the Hellenistic world), Christian theology was written with this effect consciously in mind in order to try and shape the idead society (from the republic: philosopher kings at the top, warriors, and most everyone else producers with trade specializations) which in the post christian era (feudalism) had the clergy (philospher kings), the monarchy and nobles (warrior class), and the serfs (producers). This is also why the reformation was considered so Heretical, it broke with this tradition as the warriors usurped control from the philospher kings. This also explains why Catholics believe god must be mediated by the clergy to the people, in order to allow the Philospher king to do his job, from a book that has every answer to every situation (even if your looking for opposed answers to previously asked questions).

      Therefore it is not a choice between Jesus or Socrates as one is an abstraction and projection of the other.

  68. @Yamekoffsky. I think you are right there. Maybe the best description of early christians is a greek sect that is being drawn into Mosaic monotheism and incorporating the greek values into this hybrid religion. As I think of it there is a nice analogy between the philosopher and his pupils and Jesus and his disciples.

  69. I disagree. They are remarkably similar by challenging the morals of their societies by speech and example, eventually paying the price by freely giving up their lives. Aristotle in the identical position fled the city to avoid his trial. As you pointed out, their teachings were not unique. You used their teachings as a straw man and missed the point: their conviction that truth was more important than their lives. Many moral teachers talked the talk. Fewer walked the walk. Only a handful willingly chose to seal their works as a martyr when offered an alternative.

  70. I disagree. They are remarkably similar by challenging the morals of their societies by speech and example, eventually paying the price by freely giving up their lives. Aristotle in the identical position fled the city to avoid his trial. As you pointed out, their teachings were not unique. You used their teachings as a straw man and missed the point: their conviction that truth was more important than their lives. Many moral teachers talked the talk. Fewer walked the walk. Only a handful willingly chose to seal their works as a martyr when offered an alternative.

  71. There is a number of possibilities (may be more): that Socrates and Jesus had existed or not, that they are a group of scholars, that they are the figment of someone's imagination... We suppose that Socrates predates historically Jesus, which would make Jesus a disciple of Socrates; we can continue from there, trying to make the most of that philosophy, and incorporating Einstein's, Heisenberg's and the Hadron Collider's contribution to our sense of truth and reality.

  72. The reason Jesus is better is because he offered a way to a state of grace or enlightenment. Socrates may well have been enlightened himself and certainly valued spirituality above any material concerns but he leaves no method to follow in his path other than to know thyself, which is a good start but difficult to accomplish.