Well, of course I believe that these men were acting under the inspiration
of God. My rationale for my position is two fold:
a) creating such a religion is hard, since as you pointed out lots of other
people created religions and none of them achieved anywhere near the
acceptance. If it was something man was inherently capable of doing, why
don't we have more examples? Do you want to nominate one?
b) Why? What possible motivation could these people have had for creating
something that led to their alienation and execution? Sure, people have
died for some crazy things - but they really believed them! Why die for
something you know to be a lie? Were they also lunatics?
Are you, essentially, arguing that the founders of Christianity were a
bunch of extraordinarily gifted yet sadistic/masochistic human beings who
deliberately distorted the life of a nice guy, only in order to deceive
millions and give themselves a life of persecution and suffering?
If so, OK, I just want to be clear.
-- Ernie P.