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  1. Rob Coulter says

    I came out as an atheist almost two years ago after doing a lot of reading and forcing myself to become more introspective. I give a lot of credit to TAE for helping me to apply to my deconversion what I tell my students (I’m a substitute teacher; I figure I’ve taught nearly 4000 kids in the past 20 years). I remind the older students that learning isn’t about facts and figures, names, dates and places; instead, it’s about learning how to become a critical thinker. I tell the younger students that I’m not as concerned with whether or not they can answer every question correctly as I am concerned with their ability to explain their answers if someone asks. Educator, teach thyself.

  2. Monocle Smile says

    Oh, great. Andrew from Bethlehem again. He doesn’t seem to have learned anything over his years of calling. He still thinks he can do mental gymnastics to pseudo-define his god into existence with semantics rather than simply provide empirical evidence.

    As usual, he ends up rambling and spouting word salad. Russell was right to hang up on him…everyone would have fallen asleep before he put together a coherent sentence.

  3. Monocle Smile says

    Great, now this guy Nick pulls out even more crack pipe bullshit.

    I just pulled out my chapstick. I don’t need to spend 15 minutes babbling about philosophy, torturing logic, and playing stupid semantic games to show that my chapstick should exist. This is why I have zero regard for this new school of apologetics that deliberately avoids anything touchable by the scientific method. The very existence of this breed of apologetics is a concession that they have jack shit in the realm of actual evidence.

  4. says

    I’m actually commenting on That Other Show.

    It seems that The Church of the SubGenius has fulfilled its purpose of separating the wheat from the chaff. The email was obviously written by a Slackless Pink Boy. Now, although it is hard to admit that Russell appears to not have the requisite Slack to escape the epithet, he may still escape the Men From Planet X when X-Day comes on July 5th, 1998. All he needs to do is send $35 bucks to “Bob.” He doesn’t care whether you’re a Sub or a Genius, or a total idiot; your money’s still green, and you may Pay to Know What You Really Think. Benefits include Alien Sex. Now, this comes with the guarantee that “Bob” will meet you in Hell, if you weren’t saved, with $105 big ones as compensation.

    I wish you Good Luck, and Praise “Bob.”

  5. Dunno says

    Kind of a bummer that Russell cut the first caller short before he could even make his point. I believe his argument was going to be that, because we infer the existence of a parent from the observation of a child, or the existence of the outdoors from observations of an indoor space we’re in, we can similarly infer the existence of a supernatural (or extra-natural) realm “beyond” the natural universe.
    I’ve heard atheists try to argue this by saying that those kinds of inference are not actually rationally justified, or that the natural universe isn’t the same kind of thing as objects & phenomena within it, so the same logic doesn’t apply. But the approach I like to take is this: If the existence of a whole only makes sense when considered in contrast to the existence of all that is not that whole, & we thus infer the existence of a supernatural to oppose the natural world, then we now have an even bigger whole to deal with (natural + supernatural). By the caller’s logic, we are then called to infer something beyond this whole—some kind of super-supernatural realm—& so on ad infinitum. This is similar to the more common atheist point that “if everything that exists needs a creator, what created God? & what created that?”
    Hosts, a call may eventually prove to be a waste of time, but if you let it go for 15 minutes & then cut it short, you guarantee that everyone’s time has been wasted. Tracie was right; give the theistic callers the benefit of the doubt when possible. That’s the lifeblood of the show.

  6. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

     
    Unh, this is painful. Christian Existentialism, probably Paul Tillich’s.
     
    It’s bafflegab to begin with. Near as I can tell… His brand, based on phenomenology of Husserl/Heidegger/Kant, it’s all in terms of subjective experience and “Being” is some sort of ongoing interaction with the external world that provides content for your consciousness. It defines what it means to Be you, and it shapes how you will interpret reality next. Being opposes nothingness/meaninglessness/estrangement.
     
    [Something something] stirring stories about Jesus (who need not have existed) are a New Being, which you can choose to incorporate into yourself, to re-create your reality in the best possible way, conquer anxiety, take better actions, and love your destiny.
     
    [Something something] God is not a thing; God does not exist; God is Being itself; God is love. God is immanent because all things have Being, pantheism; God is transcendent in that… darn it, Christianity insists that something about God is above/beyond the universe, panentheism then. God is practically no more than a mental construct, but it can be real to you.
     
     
    Article: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Existentialism

    most of the philosophers conventionally grouped under this heading either never used, or actively disavowed, the term ‘existentialist’. Even Sartre himself once said: “Existentialism? I don’t know what that is.”
     
    In this article, however, it is assumed that something sensible can be said about existentialism as a loosely defined movement.

  7. Monocle Smile says

    Dude, Andrew’s called in like three or four times before. The clips are on YouTube. He rambles and fails to string words together every time. On one call, he did reveal what convinced him to become a Christian, and it wasn’t the half-baked mental masturbation bullshit he babbles about.

    because we infer the existence of a parent from the observation of a child, or the existence of the outdoors from observations of an indoor space we’re in, we can similarly infer the existence of a supernatural (or extra-natural) realm “beyond” the natural universe.

    This is a deeply flawed argument from induction. Because of my experience with Russian dolls, could I infer that the observation of a single Russian doll automatically means others bigger and smaller exist in the set? Perhaps, but induction only works until it doesn’t…like encountering a Russian doll that only has one in the set.

    “Atheists” are correct that arguments from induction can’t be used to demonstrate things like existence. We may live by induction and intuition, but we also run into all sorts of problems when we rely on them too heavily.

    Your ending spiel reduces to a “turtles all the way down” dead end. In addition, playing games with philosophy is not how we accurately understand reality. Like I said in my other comment, any attempts to use a philosophical argument for the existence of gods or the supernatural are instantly garbage in my book.

    Hosts, a call may eventually prove to be a waste of time, but if you let it go for 15 minutes & then cut it short, you guarantee that everyone’s time has been wasted.

    Watch Andrew’s other calls. Extending that call would definitely be a waste of time.

  8. Dunno says

    I didn’t realize Andrew was a repeat offender; that’s fair, I guess.

    It still seems to me that the point of debating on-air is to help unfamiliar listeners understand the kind of fallacious reasoning that theistic speculation tends to be grounded in. I feel it’s generally worth the time & effort to whittle a self-assured theist down to uncertainty for the benefit of the show’s more casual, less jaded listeners. Just my two cents.

  9. Claywise says

    Just finished listening to the podcast — Mondays are so great; I have both AE and This American Life to listen to on my bike commute — and I had a few thoughts.

    Sheep vs. goats

    I just got back from climbing three 14,000 foot peaks in two days in Colorado, where I live. While I was making my way up the most difficult of the peaks, by myself, the nearest climbers an hour behind me, I had a little epiphany that maybe my “totem” animal should be the mountain goat, or perhaps bighorn sheep. They amaze me with their confidence in high, dangerous places.

    I worked as a cowboy for many years and even got a degree in animal science/range management. Though I stuck to cattle, I got to work with sheep and goats. In recent years, I’ve had many fine meetings with goats where we live. And I’ve felt forever that the weird biblical formulation, sheep=good, goats=bad is totally off base.

    The Methodist pastor mentioned by the caller actually made a strong case for being a goat, not a sheep — one that I see reflected in the nature of these animals in their domesticated forms.

    Both sheep and goats (the first domesticated animal after the dog) are kept in herds and so are directed by herders. But where sheep are almost universally skittish and terrified, even after centuries of breeding, goats are remarkably self-confident, curious and joy-loving. Approach sheep and, often as not, they will jam together into a sort of sheep amoeba and charge off to another part of the pasture. Lambs are taught very young by adult sheep that the world is a scary-ass place and running and clustering are the best defense.

    Goats, on the other hand, typically will approach you, engage you, play with you. Goats love to explore and try new things; there are few things as charming as hanging out with baby goats and watching them experiment, jump up on anything — even you — and simply seem to enjoy themselves. Does are similarly friendly, generally, though not as playful as kids; bucks are bucks and as big, testosterone-driven animals, not that much fun to “play” with.

    Goats are the metaphorical equivalent of (to use a broad term) “freethinkers,” while sheep really are, well, sheep — frightened and easily herded. Some will accuse me of anthropomorphizing, no doubt, but it’s pretty clear to me which species “gets the most out of life.” I know who I’d rather be. Big surprise, then, that Christians endlessly hammer the sheep theme.

    Of course, both usually wind up under the butcher’s knife — not breeding bucks and does and rams and ewes, but everyone else unless they are pets (goats make great pets; sheep are not nearly as interesting or fun). But I find it fascinating how Christians always forget that part of the cycle: Yeah, the wonderful shepherd protects and (sort of) provides for his flock — and then, at some point, he unceremoniously slaughters them. Goats, by the way, tend to be much more accepting of the knife, where sheep in my experience struggle more — perhaps a metaphor for acceptance of reality among believers and non-believers.

    Sorry for the Ag 101 lecture. Couldn’t resist. You go, goats!

    Also, caller Nick got away with something, I think. He was describing the totality of everything that exists, but then sneakily slipped in “everything that could be.” Well, “is” and “could be” are very different things. He also rambled off an on about conceptualization, as did the other guy (No, dude, I didn’t get your “becoming an elephant” baloney either).

    C.S. Lewis (yeah, I know; I’m actually not a fan, except for his surprisingly honest memoir, “Shadowlands” — shacking up with a Jewish hussy, tut, tut, Jack!) wrote about the interesting German word, sehnsucht. It’s hard to get the precise meaning, but it’s the idea of longing for that which is not, even that which is not (seemingly) possible, combined with the ability to conceptualize such things. It was once described to me by a (pretty hip) retired Catholic priest as walking forever toward a longed-for horizon that you can never reach. One result is a kind of deep, sad longing.

    As a long-time science-fiction (and some fantasy) reader I’ve long felt this is a cruel branch of literature. It offers wonders galore and magic and things that, so far as we can understand the physics of the universe, can never, ever be. Lewis and others get mileage with some people by making assumptions about the imagination, but really, what is the point of creating beings that can conceive of things, terrifying or marvelous, that cannot be?

    The universe of “could be” is vastly larger than the universe that simply “is,” and we can imagine myriad things that simply cannot be (so far as we know). So while I think Nick pulled a fast one, I don’t think it really gets him anywhere.

    Finally: I love the show and have listened to podcasts since discovering it a few years back. Thank you.

    Russell and Tracie, you are both great personalities possessing strong intelligence. That said, I think you have a tendency to talk over one another, and over callers — is there some quasi-sibling rivalry between you? The show is free-wheeling, so I would never want it to lose that spontaneity. But I think my listening experience would be improved with a little less talking over.

    I know he’s had a lot of professional practice, but I think Seth Andrews handles callers incredibly well. His approach to callers deflects the very natural courtesies in which people feel they should engage — “Hey Michael (heh), hey Tracie, how’s it going?” — as well as the strange tendency people have to say things like, “I have a question for you” — well, you know, we thought you might… you don’t have to tell us … just ask! Seth seems to eliminate a lot of this by his very clear, succinct way of opening every call: “This is area code 666. Who am I speaking to?” He also has a great sense of when to neatly cut in and end a call that’s veering off into self-indulgence or irrelevance. He effectively balances letting people speak, but not letting tiresome bores wander through their endless, seemingly inconclusive arguments (“But back to Aristotle … it’ll just take me five minutes to get to a proposition of some sort…”)

    Anyway, as I say, Seth is a pro and it shows. Your show is great. A little less talking over would be even better.

    P.S. I’m no HTML expert, but I thought or would give me line breaks … I apologize that everything is crammed together.

    Baaaaah!

  10. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Dunno:

    a call may eventually prove to be a waste of time, but if you let it go for 15 minutes & then cut it short, you guarantee that everyone’s time has been wasted.

     
    Cutting it short also guarantees only 15 minutes will have been wasted.
     
    Article: RationalWiki – Sunk Cost
    Article: Wikipedia – Sunk Costs, Loss Aversion

  11. Matt Gerrans says

    I think the caller who claimed that your hand “becomes” hot when you feel something hot was not thinking deeply enough. You feel something as hot when your hand is much cooler than it is. If your hand attains the same temperature, it will no longer feel hot. You feel the relative difference in temperature. So, it kind of works out exactly the opposite as what he was postulating. That’s aside from the fact that the whole idea is nonsense, of course.

  12. corwyn says

    I think when provisionally accepting premises, there sometimes comes a point where even if everything that followed was flawless, and proved the thesis, I still wouldn’t care, because the premises were just so shaky. I reached that point a few minutes before Russel hung up. Would *anyone* really accept there being a supreme being based on premises presented, of existence of parents and siblings?

  13. travaldinho says

    The German caller from this show, who called to discuss consciousness, made me wonder if anyone tries to separate the resulting process from the biology in any other form in the body e.g. “sure you can show the biology of muscular fiber contraction, but where does MOVEMENT come from.”

  14. adamah says

    Claywise said:

    Goats, on the other hand, typically will approach you, engage you, play with you. Goats love to explore and try new things; there are few things as charming as hanging out with baby goats and watching them experiment, jump up on anything — even you — and simply seem to enjoy themselves.

    Yup, and that fearlessness would explain the behavior of the Argan tree goats of N. Africa:

    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/blog/2009/10/23/goats-in-trees/

    (That is NOT photoshopped.)

  15. Claywise says

    Eeeyup. You won’t see any sheep in trees. Though wild sheep, like the bighorns I saw this weekend, are pretty cool, too.

    Maybe it’s time for atheists to embrace goats as their animal avatar in opposition to the sheep.

  16. ChaosS says

    I’m pretty sure the Satanists already claimed the goat, and we have the Flying Spaghetti Monster…

  17. Tawn says

    “Hosts, a call may eventually prove to be a waste of time, but if you let it go for 15 minutes & then cut it short, you guarantee that everyone’s time has been wasted. ”
    So you let it go another 5 mins. Still no point is made. Now you choose to waste 20mins or keep going.. 5 mins later you choose to waste 25mins or keep going… eventually you reach the end of the show. No, when it becomes apparent that a caller is going nowhere and you’ve given him a fair chance you have to cut your losses asap.

  18. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Tracie and the panentheism caller
    You want a better way to describe what you mean when you say “When I learn about something, I become it” or whatever? Tell me what experiments and measurements you’ve done to confirm this. Give me an example experiment, and give me an example affirmative observation, and a negative observation.

    I’m willing to bet the caller could not make a concise coherent description of an observation which could prove him wrong, which means he’s not only not right, he’s not even wrong.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

    The default go-to when trying to figure out nonsense like this is: “Ok, could you be wrong? What should we expect to see in the world if you are wrong? Concrete specific experiment and confirming and falsifying observations please.”

  19. Muz says

    Is that Nick guy just trying to conjure existence from imagination?. Seems like it (in so far as I can figure out anything he’s saying).
    I think he’s used to people meeting him half way on that idea, hence his trouble articulating.

  20. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @”Supernatural” vs “natural” guy
    I love you!

    @How do you explain consciousness guy
    As a materialist, I don’t. I assume you mean “qualia” aka “first person experience”. (I would note that there’s not even a consensus definition and understanding of what that includes and doesn’t include.) Still, how do I explain first person experience? I don’t. I do not explain how first person experience arises from matter, because I do not know how it arises from matter. No idea. None at all.

    There’s a similar problem. I know that matter attracts other matter. We call this gravity. How do I explain gravity? I don’t. No idea. I know it’s there. I can describe its effects pretty precisely, just like I can describe to some detail how changes to a brain can affect the mind. However, I am at a complete loss how to explain why gravity is the way it is, and where “it comes from”, and I am at a complete loss to explain why first person person experience exists for some computation devices, aka brains. No idea.

    See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness

    IMHO, it’ll never be answered, because it’s impossible to do observation and falsifiable experiments. Almost by definition, it’s untestable.

    PS:
    An entirely separate but related question. Let me give the answer. Based on the available evidence, I’m pretty sure that you, and me, and any other mind of any human, has behavior which is identical to a mere physical machine. (Because we are just mere physical machines.) I believe that the brain is just a physical machine, operating according to mindless particle physics, and no more. I believe the evidence for this is very, very good.

    The alternative is that you think sometimes a “soul” or “spirit” touches some particles in the brain, and makes them not obey physics. I hope we can agree that the evidence is pretty strong that this does not happen.

    Even if you want to hide the soul or spirit in quantum indeterminacy, its effects are still detectable, if only in principle. It’s just a matter of gathering enough data, and it’s quickly starting to resemble god of the gaps.

    If the soul or spirit hides in quantum indeterminacy, and it’s not even in principle detectable, then it means it’s functionally equivalent to mindless forces, which was my original point. As for souls and spirits, “I had no need of that hypothesis”.

  21. corwyn says

    Not quite. The nerves are embedded in the skin, so they can’t determine what is going on at the very surface. Additionally, the only way they have to determine temperature is there own temperature, they can’t measure the radiant (light) heat. So the nerves actually have to heat up, to know that one is touching something hot. On the other hand, nerves work by the change in temperature, so if they are heating up quickly, they know they are in contact with something very hot.

    None of that makes his argument any less goofy of course.

  22. Monocle Smile says

    Ugh. Shades of post-modernism, what with stories being some idealized platonic entities moving in the ether and this idea of purely subjective reality. There seems to be some equivocation with the word “being” as well.

    Making sense of the word salad in the wiki article on Christian Existentialism is likely an exercise in futility.

  23. AhmNee says

    Though I stuck to cattle

    Why did you stick to cattle? Was there a horrible glue accident? Or a propensity to eat jam straight from the jar?

  24. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    They can’t just come out and say, “Personalities are influenced by past experience. You have some choice in what you experience next. Here are some inspiring stories we think can change your outlook on life for the better.”
     
    Gotta graft Christianese onto it and pretend that makes the theology sound. God’s that shot glass, so God’s real! *Sip* The holy spirit’s flowing through me!

  25. says

    @AhmNee Oh, man, you don’t want to know. It was ugly. You may know that horse/large domestic ungulate bones are used in the manufacture of natural glue. Suffice it to say there was a horrific accident on the range that day….. Marty Robbins even wrote a song about it.

  26. adamah says

    Yeah, I think Russell had the right idea in trying to get him to summarize, although it took 10 min to get to that.

    Perhaps a good approach is to ask the caller if he’s read any published scientific articles in journals (an answer he’s not likely to say “no” to, even if he hasn’t, since it would not speak well for his pseudo-sci ramblings).

    Then ask if he could present his abstract, the short blurb that takes no more a minute or two to read but which summarizes the study and its findings. If a caller cannot do that, they may not be ready for prime-time to present his argument for the existence of God.

    In fact, that might be something the call screeners could do to separate the time-wasters, or those who’s purpose seems to be to “run down the clock” by filling the show with pseudo-intellectual ramblings when there’s other legit theist callers with actual questions and not proofs.

  27. says

    What I’m mostly curious about that caller is what he means by “you become X”.

    If I observe a stove, and I at least partially become the stone… does that mean I become more metallic? Or do I form some kind of internal cavity that can cook food? Do I spawn knobs and a light bulb inside me?

    Having light bounce off the stove and enter my eyes doesn’t count… nor does the transfer of kinetic energy from the stove to my finger.

    A clear definition of what he means would really help, not that I expect one.

  28. favog says

    I was under the impression that Richard Carrier’s book has already been peer reviewed, and that it was that process taking longer than expected that caused it to come out in summer rather than spring. (Yeah, I was following the progress closely, and my copy sits on the shelf as my Next Read.) As far as the caller’s question, my understanding — from Carrier and others — is that not only is Tracie right about the post hoc fallacy, but many other factors make following transmission of ideas much more complicated than that, and there are a lot more ideas and inputs that are part of the transmission than the “Jesus is just Horus!” crowd seems to realize.

  29. adamah says

    Favog, I was a bit surprised the hosts didn’t point out the differences between the terms, ‘myth’ and ‘legend’, as I got the distinct impression the caller seemed not to differentiate, and was lax in his use?

    Eg if there was an itinerant apocalyptic Jewish preacher, a mortal historical character who actually lived who was crucified for sedition, then we’re talking about a legendary figure, and NOT a mythological figure.

    However, I’m not watching the show again to confirm (which would require wading thru pseudo-philosophical ramblings of the other callers), but that was the impression I got….

  30. favog says

    I think the distinction between “myth” and “legend” is a soft one, at least in some cases, that being in particular the ones where we don’t actually know which one to apply — and I think Jesus clearly falls into that category. “Ahistorical” might be a better term to apply to figures like him, except that most of the time you’ve got to go through the whole spiel to explain what that means which kind of negates the utility you’re attempting by having the word …

  31. favog says

    Actually, no, “ahistorical” is better as an umbrella term that includes both “mythological” and “legendary”. Mythological after all means “there (probably) was no guy” and legendary means “there (probably) was a guy (or two or seven)” that is the origin of the story. Making “ahistorical” mean the borderline case makes it usable only when the Baysian between the two options is close to 50/50. I doubt a term like that is useful as often as the mutually inclusive option.

  32. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah:

    I’m not watching the show again

     
    Russell (21:54):

    Bear in mind that once you’re talking about early Christians, which is like several decades after Jesus died – when you’re talking about having any semblance of the Christian church – you’re already way past the question of where the Jesus myth came from originally – whether it was a myth, or whether it was a real person whose details of his life were mythicized. […] Jesus may have existed, but it’s incredibly unlikely that he did the walking on water, and loaves into fishes, and rising from the dead kinda thing.

  33. Claywise says

    Yeah, I know. I’m sort of Mr. TL/DR.

    Short version: Goats are the best. Caller Nick tried to slip in a fast one. Tracie and Russell would do better not to talk over each other so much.

    More than 140 characters, but the best I could manage.

  34. johzek says

    Concepts are being confused with the act of conceiving or imagining something. A concept is the idea, it is a mental abstraction, of a class whose members share a certain criterion of similarity. The concept named by the word “man” is a concept of which Russell is a member, but Russell is not the concept nor is Russell conceptualized. If one is not in Russell’s presence one can imagine Russell, but this is all one is doing, just imagining. A particular member of a class is not the concept because the concept is the idea of the entire class. We are able to define concepts because of the similarity the members of the class share. Russell not being a concept, but only a particular member of the concept “man” is not defined but need just be described. Concepts are defined whereas the particular members subsumed by the concept are described.

  35. Robert, not Bob says

    Everybody’s overthinking this guy. He thought of a nice poetic phrase and is trying to hang a universal philosophy on it.

  36. adamah says

    Favog, yup, that was my point when I said the caller seemingly failed to differentiate any difference, and was using ‘myth’ when he was talking about issues related to ‘legend’.

    Sky Capt posted a quote where Russell mentioned stuff relating moreso to legend, but he never explicitly said the word, “legend”: the caller continued to use the words as if synonyms.

    (For anyone who’s unaware, ‘legend’ implies there’s an actual historical person at the center of the stories, or a “seed”, someone who subsequently had many mythological traits (eg healing, ascension, Son Of God, etc) piled on top to transform him into a ‘legend’ in the tradition of tall tales.

    ‘Myth’ implies a completely fictionalized character, eg God is a completely-made up construct, without any basis in reality, other than as visual and auditory hallucinations which were perceived by some, but completely lacking as a tangible referent.)

    The ‘legend’ creation process strikes me as way more probable, as we know of many other Jewish messianic claimants who existed in Palestine in the 1st century (they were a dime a dozen), many of whom also preached an apocryphal message of impending doom.

    That’s the overwhelming consensus opinion of the experts in the field of Bible scholarship and history, and it seems more-reasonable to me (eg anyone who’s looked into the evidence knows that even later Talmudic writings refer to Jesus as a historical figure, and not as a made-up myth: that seems like something later Jews would mention if he were a myth).

    Historicity of Jesus:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

    I don’t know why Carrier feels the need to over-reach on the claim (although if it’s anything like his A+ “you’re either for us or against us” statement, one can only imagine why).

    I tend to see the whole ‘Jesus as myth vs legend’ issue as a HUGE red herring, an issue as pointless as getting stuck in the La Brea tar pits: if the goal is to deconvert, it’s a non-winning point to argue, and it doesn’t get anyone closer to the truth of the falsehood of religion.

    There’s so many better grounds on which to challenge religion (immorality of slavery, etc). It’s a huge over-reaching claim.

  37. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah:

    ‘Myth’ implies a completely fictionalized character, eg God is a completely-made up construct, without any basis in reality

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Mythology, Nature of Myths

    The main characters in myths are usually gods, supernatural heroes and humans. As stories, myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests and closely linked to religion or spirituality. In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past. In fact, many societies have two categories of traditional narrative, “true stories” or myths, and “false stories” or fables.
    […]
    Legends generally feature humans as their main characters, whereas myths generally focus on superhuman characters.
     
    The distinction between myth, legend, and folktale is meant simply as a useful tool for grouping traditional stories. In many cultures, it is hard to draw a sharp line between myths and legends. […] Even myths and folktales are not completely distinct. A story may be considered true (and therefore a mythos) in one society, but considered fictional (and therefore a folktale) in another society. In fact, when a myth loses its status as part of a religious system, it often takes on traits more typical of folktales, with its formerly divine characters reinterpreted as human heroes, giants, or fairies.
    […]
    One theory [of myth generation] claims that myths are distorted accounts of real historical events. According to this theory, storytellers repeatedly elaborated upon historical accounts until the figures in those accounts gained the status of gods. […] This theory is named “euhemerism” after the mythologist Euhemerus (c.320 BC), who suggested that the Greek gods developed from legends about human beings.

  38. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah:

    That’s the overwhelming consensus opinion of the experts in the field of Bible scholarship and history

     
    Comment: Carrier on the state of that consensus

    There is no polling method in place, like there is (sort of) in philosophy.
    […]
    When you hear references to consensus […] you are seeing either bullshit (e.g. William Lane Craig will sometimes say a consensus exists when none does) or cognitive error (one interprets “the books/scholars I’ve read lately” with “the whole scholarly community”) or a reflection of intuitive polling of personal background knowledge from extensive literature surveys, which are how one normally researches and learns things at the postdoctoral level.

    Only that last is reliable.
    […]
    when I did my literature survey on the criteria-based methodology of Jesus studies, I consistently found dissent, not affirmation. The only scholars who affirm and use the methods are those who never examine their merits; whereas all the literature dedicated specifically to examining their merits concluded in the negative. So here we have a consensus (“most scholars think the methods are valid”) that is itself invalidated by the actual expert consensus (a uniform agreement among all method-testing specialists who have studied the validity of those methods).

  39. adamah says

    It’s very telling that in your excerpt Carrier “forgets” about the most obvious way consensus opinion is indicated: the author’s article(s) not only being published in peer-reviewed journals (eg Biblical Arch Review, etc), but then if the article being CITED by colleagues in THEIR articles.

    That’s exactly WHY Google gives a ‘citation count’ in search results for scholarly articles: to give a layperson a ballpark idea if the contents of the article are taken seriously by other published scholars in the field.

    And with a topic as well-published as whether Jesus was myth vs legend, that’s likely going to be difficult for Carrier….

  40. favog says

    As far as Carrier “over-reaching” and why, I’m wondering if you have any familiarity with his work. He doesn’t question the historicity of Jesus as a means of debunking religion. He questions the historicity of Jesus because he’s a historian who has examined the question because it interests him and the area of history he’s specialized in makes it an important question on a professional level. Russell’s right that it’s not that crucial for most people, but for those of us who are interested in it for any reason, Carrier brings out some interesting facts and provides some intriguing analysis. That’s why I’m looking forward to his book as my next read.

  41. corwyn says

    Moreover, since Carrier claims to be using Bayes’ Theorem for coming to his conclusions (which are by the way, I think between 1:3 to 1:12,000 against a historical Jesus), you can find exactly which of his bits of evidence you disagree with, challenge him on that, or just run the same calculation with your assessment of the probability of that evidence, and see where that puts the probability.

    Claiming that he is over-reaching without having done that strikes me as laughably ironic.

  42. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Synopsis:

    Post:
    Adam assumes Carrier does so in order to deconvert. In actuality, Carrier himself has made clear on many occasions that attempting to deconvert by arguing Jesus did not exist is a horrible strategy which no one should employ. Ex:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/4733
    Thus Adam engages in ignorant strawmanning.

    Adam attempts to argue against Carrier, but it’s obvious that he has no idea what Carrier is actually arguing about the historicity of Jesus, and thus Adam does another strawman. I doubt Adam could even describe what Carrier’s myth hypothesis even is.

    Adam cites the purported expert consensus of the history of Jesus. This is acceptable, although mistaken. Sky Captain corrects him next post.

    (Skipping a post ahead)
    Post:
    Sky Captain corrects Adam that the purported expert consensus on the history of Jesus is bad, and should not be relied on.

    Post:
    Adam brings up a new point and drops the original point about how the consensus of experts on the history of Jesus is bad. Not sure if conceded.

    New point: Adam takes the quote out of context and pretends as though that’s Carrier’s authoritative definition on consensus, consensus building, and the proper operation of modern science – which is obscene. The quote provided was only to show that the purported expert consensus on the history of Jesus is bad and should not be relied upon. It in no way purports to be an all encompassing description of consensus and the modern scientific method.

  43. says

    @adamh

    However, I’m not watching the show again to confirm (which would require wading thru pseudo-philosophical ramblings of the other callers), but that was the impression I got….

    Yea, because picking nits is best done without closer examination.

    (eg anyone who’s looked into the evidence knows that even later Talmudic writings refer to Jesus as a historical figure, and not as a made-up myth: that seems like something later Jews would mention if he were a myth).

    Nice appeal to authority! If Carrier left this obvious evidence out, he has some explaining to do. If not, then maybe you should read his book to see what weight it adds to historicity and see if you agree.

    (although if it’s anything like his A+ “you’re either for us or against us” statement, one can only imagine why)

    Your anti-feminist nit picking ad hominem aside, I will give you that Carrier makes it very difficult and tedious if you challenging him (at least in a written forum). In some ways, I think you and Carrier share this “style”. :)

    And with a topic as well-published as whether Jesus was myth vs legend, that’s likely going to be difficult for Carrier….

    I don’t think anyone, Carrier himself, is denying this. He is directly challenging the expert consensus with the new book, which means he has to refute the consensus conclusion soundly, actively respond to criticism to justify his data/methodology, and on top of that, deal with all of the irrational butt-hurt that the professed consensus holders are feeling and directing his way. Assuming that Carrier’s work is sound (I’m in no position to make a judgement), the long term trajectory of the consensus could be changed.

  44. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And with a topic as well-published as whether Jesus was myth vs legend

    Actually, I think that’s false. It’s not well-published at all. It’s barely published at all. IIRC, Carrier has said that only two books have been published actually defending historicity in almost a hundred years. (Presumably he includes only scholarly works, or purportedly.) That’s not well-published at all.

  45. adamah says

    Corwyn said-

    Moreover, since Carrier claims to be using Bayes’ Theorem for coming to his conclusions (which are by the way, I think between 1:3 to 1:12,000 against a historical Jesus), you can find exactly which of his bits of evidence you disagree with, challenge him on that, or just run the same calculation with your assessment of the probability of that evidence, and see where that puts the probability.

    Claiming that he is over-reaching without having done that strikes me as laughably ironic.

    What’s laughably ironic is you seem to believe that a non-member of the scholarly community in question (i.e. a lay-person) WOULD be able to come to any intelligent conclusion on a complex issue, instead of simply relying on the CONSENSUS OPINION of the recognized experts in that particular field.

    (And since the applicability of Bayes calculations to answering historical issues is a methodological question, your opinion or mine doesn’t mean jack. Granted, we’re entitled to form opinions, but to expect it to have any sway on the experts is delusional).

    That’s how modern society works, eg when a person has a brain rumor, they don’t go to med school to become a world-class neurosurgeon so they can decide the best treatment options. Instead, they have to trust the opinion of a specialist (and they’d be wise to seek out 2nd/3rd opinion) before they decide the right course of treatment for themselves.

    Just as a layperson is completely ill-equipped to decide which surgical methodology is the best way to remove his tumor, it’s not for a layperson to decide if Bayesian approach is snake-oil.

    It’s no different when going to an auto mechanic, a butcher, a plumber: all have professional standards which define competency, and it’s not up to outsiders to decide.

    Matt makes that same point in his Unholy Trinity Tour video, saying how deniers of science aren’t the ones to decide eg what standards are used in paleontology, evolutionary biology, etc.

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    No no Adam. You don’t get to run into the battle by citing specific evidence and saying “it seems to be based on the evidence”, and then run away at the first sign of trouble by citing expert consensus. Be consistent. Don’t be a hypocrite.

  47. adamah says

    Wikipedia said-

    This theory is named “euhemerism” after the mythologist Euhemerus (c.320 BC), who suggested that the Greek gods developed from legends about human beings.

    Sure, but that’s a red herring, since the discussion is about the historicity of Jesus. I’m perfectly-fine with Carrier’s definition of the term ‘myth’, as it’s not a problem with his usage or definition, but the position itself as a mythicist.

    And as I just explained to Corwyn, as a layperson, it doesn’t matter to me one bit, since I go with consensus opinion of experts who’ve determined long ago that there’s sufficient evidence to put the question to rest.

    Now, could all these experts be wrong? Sure, it happens. But it doesn’t take a Bayesian calculation to realize that 95% of the experts being wrong is more unlikely than 5% being correct.

  48. adamah says

    EL said-

    Adam assumes Carrier does so in order to deconvert.

    Lol! No I didn’t.

    EL, way to massively fail, right out of the starting blocks. I was careful to say, “I (referring to me, Adam) tend to view…”. I DIDN’T say, “Carrier must view mythicism as a useful tool for deconversion “.

    It’s called the law of identity: learn it.

  49. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Adam

    Adam assumes Carrier does so in order to deconvert.

    Lol! No I didn’t.

    Context:

    I don’t know why Carrier feels the need to over-reach on the claim (although if it’s anything like his A+ “you’re either for us or against us” statement, one can only imagine why).

    I tend to see the whole ‘Jesus as myth vs legend’ issue as a HUGE red herring, an issue as pointless as getting stuck in the La Brea tar pits: if the goal is to deconvert, it’s a non-winning point to argue, and it doesn’t get anyone closer to the truth of the falsehood of religion.

    There’s so many better grounds on which to challenge religion (immorality of slavery, etc). It’s a huge over-reaching claim.

    I thought you meant he’s “overreaching” because there’s so much better ways to deconvert. This seems to be strongly implied, because you immediately follow the “he’s overreaching” sentence with an explanation of why you think it’s an overreach – namely because there are other better methods for deconverting Christians.

    I admit that there are other interpretations of what you meant. However, they’re far more stupid, which is why i applied the principle of charity and assumed you were just ignorant of what Carrier is actually saying.

    Do you think he’s “overreaching” as a professional academic with a PhD when he publishes a peer reviewed book in order to start the process of trying to overturn what he thinks is a mistaken consensus of experts? I hope you don’t consider that overreach.

    Did you mean something else by “overreaching”? Such as?

    Any way you cut it, what you said was stupid and wrong.

    PS:

    It’s called the law of identity: learn it.

    Citing superfluous laws of logic, does not make you sound intelligent. It makes you sound like an ass. I hazard a guess because you are an ass.

  50. favog says

    Right. Respecting the consensus and bowing to the consensus are two different things. Simple inertia can make the consensus blunder in ways that any one can see as long as they’re not stupid and actually looking. This is one of those cases. You know why the consensus of the current generation is that Jesus counts as a historical figure? Because they’re bowing to the consensus of the previous generation. Wanna guess how the previous generation got their consensus? That’s right … failure to question the generation before that. There’ve been a few along the way who saw that there was nothing there, but they were shushed or ignored for the most part (or visited by the Spanish Inquisition). It really is time for some good scholarship to address this overlooked area, and while I’m not an expert in the field I can evaluate an argument on it’s own terms. Part of that is letting those who refuse to examine the argument that know that I won’t be assigning much weight to their opinion on the matter.

  51. adamah says

    Favog said-

    You know why the consensus of the current generation is that Jesus counts as a historical figure? Because they’re bowing to the consensus of the previous generation. Wanna guess how the previous generation got their consensus? That’s right … failure to question the generation before that.

    Cool. And you know the rule, I presume?

    “The one making the claim bears the burden of proof to provide supportive evidence.”

    This is the point of threads when members of the mythicist camp starts to reveal a shocking similarity to 9/11 truthers, alien abduction believers, and various misc. conspiracy hypothesists of all stripes.

  52. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Guys, Adam is entirely within his reasonable prerogative to demand good evidence from our side to go against consensus. That’s entirely fine. And Richard Carrier is doing exactly the right thing too, going through peer review with the evidence, and hoping to change the mind of the experts before teaching to laypeople.

    So, it’s fine if Adam wants to blow us all off on this point. I would do something similar if someone tried to argue against evolution. (Because I have more time than most, I often humor them and listen to their arguments, but that’s only because I’m being generous. It’s quite reasonable for me to dismiss creationists out of hand at this point precisely because scientific consensus.)

    Of course, this is in no way a defense of the several other idiotic things Adam has said in this thread. I’m waiting for a reply to my other post detailing them.

  53. favog says

    You want supportive evidence … I’ll soon be examining 696 pages of it, having seen some of it already in Carrier’s videos and other writings. Evidence that you have dismissed out of hand, upfront. So that you can turn around and say that it doesn’t exist. And that Richard Carrier is failing to meet his burden of proof.

    Cool. And you know the historical precedent, I presume?

    The church officials refused to look through Galileo’s telescope, because they knew there couldn’t be any moons around Jupiter.

    This is the point of threads when supporters of the consensus for no better reason than that it is the consensus start to reveal a shocking similarity to 9/11 truthers, alien abduction believers, and various misc. conspiracy hypothesists of all stripes out of their failure to realize that the consensus does sometimes change, and when it does it always starts with a minority of one.

  54. Elu Sive says

    Tracy if you’re reading this, I am a big fan of your approach. I admire the patience and how you dissect the fine points even though you can probably tell the discussion is not going to lead to a grand conclusion. You make really good points and you explain them with great clarity. I really think discussing those fine points and bringing the clarity to the caller and listens the way you do with your calm, postive and polite response is even more rewarding than having some hystrical fundamentalist recycling old claims based on the bible. What it does is inspire me to think about things in new ways and that is one of the major reasons I like the show.
    Russell: If you had just cut off the first caller I would have been disappointing and felt it was unfair but I think you gave him a fair chance by letting him get to the conclusion and then track back. Evidently he declined so it was the right call.

  55. corwyn says

    What’s laughably ironic is you seem to believe that a non-member of the scholarly community in question (i.e. a lay-person) WOULD be able to come to any intelligent conclusion on a complex issue

    Hilarious, since you were stating an opinion on the subject, and I was not.

    it’s not for a layperson to decide if Bayesian approach is snake-oil.

    That IS in my realm of expertise. Bayes is mathematically proven to be the optimal way of evaluating evidence.

  56. says

    Yea, Andrew didn’t seem to be listening. He just continued with his original argument (or more accurately: rambling) after Tracie, in the most clear language possible, told him that she (and Russell, I think the entire audience) doesn’t understand what he meant by the “whole/half/opposite/not” point.

  57. Russell Glasser says

    It’s sometimes called a von Neumann constant: an interval of time remaining that does not change no matter when you’re asking.

  58. says

    Tracy and Russell are both good at uncovering what psychologists call the “illusion of explanatory depth” where a person thinks they understand something until they have to explain it point-by-point to someone else. The socratic method is good for revealing how much we don’t know about something. Keep up the good work, guys.

  59. Conversion Tube says

    Adam

    You don’t get to use Science as an example of how you can’t argue with expert scientist about their knowledge of a given field and use that as an example of how you can’t argue with someone else about their claimed non scientific knowledge when they didn’t use science to gain that knowledge.

    Also a plummer doesn’t get to say hey you aren’t an expert plummer because you did some plumbing different than the way I would I have. I would have used copper and you used plastic therefore I’m right, you ain’t no plumber.

  60. adamah says

    Conversion Tube said-

    You don’t get to use Science as an example of how you can’t argue with expert scientist about their knowledge of a given field and use that as an example of how you can’t argue with someone else about their claimed non scientific knowledge when they didn’t use science to gain that knowledge.

    Look dude, depending on the context of a discussion, rationalists have decided long-ago to embrace scientific definitions for terms, which are based on CONSENSUS opinion of those experts in the field. Note the term, “consensus”: that is supposed to prevent the appeal to authority fallacy from occurring, where someone cites an authority in the field but they might be voicing the MINORITY opinion. That’s why an appeal to authority is a caution flag, indicating a need to check what the CONSENSUS opinion of those experts are.

    Some atheists want to change that approach, using Webster’s definitions of many of these terms for many different reasons (primarily as an excuse to deliver ad homs to believers, labeling them as ‘delusional’, ‘mentally-ill’, ‘idiots’, ‘sociopaths’, etc).

    Cool: you’ve just given YEC carte blanche to engage in their idiotic phrase, eg “evolution is ONLY a theory”, and they’ve got us over a barrel, since look it up in Webster’s and you’ll see the term ‘theory’ IS defined for layman’s usage, even listing it as a synonym for ‘hypothesis’.

    You’ve just lost the ability to claim ‘equivocation fallacy’, since you’re now forced to accept the layperson’s definition.

    You REALLY wanna give up that kind of ground to believers, joining them in the name of taking down a notch all those elitist snobby ‘think they know-it-all’ scientists?

    You’ve got a choice:

    1) “cherry-pick” which scientific terms you’re wanting to allow the experts define, and thus being inconsistent (not rational), or,

    2) accepting that scientific authorities actually DO exist, and they just might know shitloads more about stuff you can’t dream of knowing.

    They’re the experts, after all, and you can’t appeal to them ONLY when you and your precious agenda agree.

    Also a plummer doesn’t get to say hey you aren’t an expert plummer because you did some plumbing different than the way I would I have. I would have used copper and you used plastic therefore I’m right, you ain’t no plumber.

    My brother IS a licensed plumber with 40 yrs of experience involved in new construction, and I know plumbing first-hand (I worked as a ‘go-fer’ over Summers as teen for the guy he journeymanned for, before my bro got his own license and went solo).

    The ‘authority’ is the State building code inspector, a State employee who shows up on job sites to make sure all tradesmen (including the licensed plumber) has built according “to code”, ie in compliance with State laws which specify what is and isn’t acceptable (including stuff like using PVC for waste; besides which, copper is WAY TOO $$$ for the application of sewage, and no customer is going to pay for it).

    Such plumbing codes are passed primarily based on the consensus opinion of experienced plumbers who work their way up the ranks as on-site job inspectors, and who study what doesn’t work (failures). Hence they get to see what actually works.

    There’s also many plumbing trade journals, with experts publishing articles and discussing contemporary issues in the field.

    So even in plumbing, there’s a consensus opinion (and I mentioned it, precisely since it’s true, and anyone could verify it by googling “plumbing codes” if they didn’t know such things exist).

    Different Nations (much less States) have different building codes: that is demonstrated in dramatic fashion whenever buildings collapse in earthquakes in say, Turkey, where the standards aren’t as tight as those in the States. Buildings collapse, and the loss of life is much-greater than for a similar-magnitude quake in the US.

  61. adamah says

    Corwyn aaid-

    Hilarious, since you were stating an opinion on the subject, and I was not.

    Cool, so show me where I said ANYWHERE that lay-people are not allowed to have or to voice, their opinion?

    What I actually said is they’re likely only fooling themselves if they think as outsiders posting on the net they’ll have any sway on consensus opinion; most scholars are far too-busy to engage with laypeople on some random comments sections of a forum.

    You’re reading things into my words, a likely nasty carry-over from your Bible-thumping days (that is, if you are an ex-believer).

    That IS in my realm of expertise. Bayes is mathematically proven to be the optimal way of evaluating evidence.

    Cool, so presumably you’re now claiming to be a published HISTORIAN who’s recognized as a member of the scholarly community, and you have adopted Bayesian theory as valid to answer HISTORICAL questions?

    Because if not, your self-claimed “expertise” in Bayesian math is irrelevant; once again, it’s experts IN THAT PARTICULAR FIELD who decide on methodology used, and not ‘outsiders’.

  62. Frank G. Turner says

    I have often said as a teacher, the best way to determine if a person knows a topic is to examine their ability to explain it to someone else.
    .
    I have met a lot of people that THINK they understand science (e.g.: evolution) but clearly don’t when asked to explain it to individuals who actually HAVE been educated in that (or a related) field. I said something in another thread about an individual who I was not sure how to feel about when it came to William Lane Craig. I was not sure if I felt worse about, – that he was trying to argue WLC’s points when he clearly did not understand them or – that he thought that he did understand them when he didn’t.

  63. Frank G. Turner says

    Yeah a lot of people who call in seem to be sending but not receiving.
    .
    Too often I have asked arguers against evolution why they have not really made a concerted effort to understand it if they are going to argue against it and I never get a good answer.

  64. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah:

    embrace scientific definitions for terms, which are based on CONSENSUS opinion of those experts in the field

    A term is a unit of communication between parties. The only consensus that matters for a term is that the parties involved can come to shared understanding of the speaker’s meaning for use in discussion. An external definition is a shortcut, but not a necessary one (each field has jargon, and dictionaries offer several pre-fab definitions). A major part of this show is this basic aspect of communication, which you routinely fail to grasp in your interminable grandstanding.
     
    Experts’ opinions are for evaluating hypotheses and fact-checking. Their consensus is valuable only insofar as their methodology is sound and as they each have independently weighed the merits. It’s not so useful of mixed specialists who don’t have time to study other sub-disciplines.
     
    Are you still whining about not hearing “legend” in a show you don’t care enough to watch a second time? That word would add nothing to the discussion. The myth propogated by churches (however it began, that it wound up as myth is uncontroversial) could have been seeded by an earlier pre-existing myth or by a historical preacher. Russel was clear about this (see: the quote)

  65. Conversion Tube says

    The consensus in a social science with a rather large margin of error (looking at artifacts from 2000 years ago) is on much more shaky ground than say – the consensus on the theory of evolution.

    That’s what I was trying to say when you try to use science to expressbthe strength of consensus.

  66. Narf says

    Besides, aren’t those eastern mystics under the influence of Satan, according to the religion that Andrew was trying to prop up with the Satanic metaphysics? That has to disqualify the argument, somehow.

  67. adamah says

    Conversion tube said-

    The consensus in a social science with a rather large margin of error (looking at artifacts from 2000 years ago) is on much more shaky ground than say – the consensus on the theory of evolution.

    That’s what I was trying to say when you try to use science to express the strength of consensus.

    You’re mixing apples and oranges: there’s a difference between CONSENSUS of OPINION over issues being hotly-debated within the field, vs CONSENSUS over definitions of basic terms used within the field.

    The latter is rarely an issue of debate within a field, since changes in basic terminology usually occur at a glacial pace (eg the change in the definition of ‘delusion’ occurring in DSM-IV vs DSM-V).

  68. adamah says

    Adam said-

    (eg anyone who’s looked into the evidence knows that even later Talmudic writings refer to Jesus as a historical figure, and not as a made-up myth: that seems like something later Jews would mention if he were a myth).

    COB said-

    Nice appeal to authority!

    Nice ‘appeal to pity’!

    That’s a ‘two-fer’, since it suggests you’re not just confused about logical fallacies (e.g. it’s NOT an “appeal to authority” to cite non-contemporaneous independent SOURCES from the 2nd century: that’s an ‘appeal to a valid historical document’), but it also indicates you don’t understand basic methodology used in historical research.

    If you WERE correct about such documents being “appeals to authority”, then you’ve just eliminated all of what we know about many historical figures, including Alexander the Great, Socrates, etc. since what we know is from works written centuries after they lived.

    Back to the actual topic:

    Aside from Rabbinical and Greek references (eg Celsus) to Jesus as a real person, it should be interesting to see how RC tap-dances to explain how two independent writers of gospel accounts used two completely-different and contradictory solutions so as to have Jesus associated with Bethlehem (where the Jewish messiah was foretold to hail from, per Xian misinterpretation of OT prophecies).

    It was well-known at the time that the wiz-kid rabbi-to-be Jesus was born and raised in Nazareth (other gospel passages cite this as a well-known fact amongst the Jewish people, asking if Jesus wasn’t the son of Joseph, the carpenter from Galilee).

    Hence one Gospel account has Jesus’ parents fleeing to Egypt to escape King Herod’s decree calling for the slaughter of Jewish male infants; the family fled to Egypt, but returned to live in Bethlehem.

    The other account has the family returning to Bethlehem to take part in a census which required families to return to their ancestral homeland (the city where their ancestors lived 1,000 yrs before)! That’s where he was born in a manger in Bethlehem, and the family later returned to Nazareth after he was born and the census was completed.

    The two excuses are so completely different and so implausible, that such awkward attempts suggest a real historical figure at the core who actually WAS from Nazareth; both writers had to perform some elaborate tap-dancing to account for the disparity between Jesus’ well-known bibliographical details to make him fulfill OT prophecy.

    If Jesus were purely a fictional character, the creator of the Jesus myth wouldn’t need to work that hard: they’d simply make him be born in Bethlehem so as to fulfill OT prophecies, and it would be done by the stroke of a pen.

    Occam’s Razor says those details were added to explain away the conflicting accounts with a real person who was born in Nazareth; otherwise those extraneous and implausible details serve no explicable purpose to the mythicist.

    RC’s challenge is to hypothesize a plausible explanation to have Jesus born in Nazareth, if there wasn’t a real character.

    Adam said:
    (although if it’s anything like his A+ “you’re either for us or against us” statement, one can only imagine why)

    COB said-

    Your anti-feminist nit picking ad hominem aside,

    Who said anything about feminism?

    Oh, it was YOU….

    So are you now actually denying Carrier quoted Jesus, saying “you’re either for us or against A+”?

    Merely quoting what Carrier said is not an ‘ad hom': it’s a FACT. He’s a historian: he can verify what he said, if you doubt me (there must be videos).

    And if merely quoting him somehow makes ME a misogynist, then you’ve completely lost your marbles: you really should consider competing in the Illogical Olympics long-jump competition, since with your considerable talent for leaping to extreme hasty conclusions, you’ll likely take home a gold medal for your country.

    He is directly challenging the expert consensus with the new book, which means he has to refute the consensus conclusion soundly, actively respond to criticism to justify his data/methodology, and on top of that, deal with all of the irrational butt-hurt that the professed consensus holders are feeling and directing his way.

    Project much?

    It’s not about butts being hurt: it’s about Occam’s razor, where the more-plausible explanation is accepted, based on what scant evidence is available.

    Amongst many others scholars, Ehrman makes a very-compelling case for the evolution of Christology in his book, “How Jesus Became God”, and his work builds upon and extends the solid effort of others.

    And if the “works and plays well with ones colleagues” collegial approach is fundamentally-flawed, then God help us all, since that’s the basis of a lot of other human endeavors.

    Jesus’ divisive ‘overturning tables in the Temple’ approach is great for those with Messiah complexes trying to create merry bands of misfits on causes , but it rarely makes a positive impression outside of groups prone to extreme ideological stances.

    Assuming that Carrier’s work is sound (I’m in no position to make a judgement), the long term trajectory of the consensus could be changed.

    It’s refreshing to see you admit that you are not a scholar: I’m not either, but I’m an educated layperson who’s interested in the topic.

    What is it that makes it so hard for so many to admit?

    As to changing consensus opinion, sure, RC COULD. All Carrier needs to do is present compelling evidence: that’s not too dissimilar to what we say to religionists when we refuse to believe in things on faith.

    But if I were a betting person, it’s generally foolish to bet against the majority opinion, since rarely is the entire group wrong (although it happens: Google “half-life of facts” for a book explaining why all “facts” should have an expiration date on them, a warning not to grow too close to your cherished beliefs since they might be modified).

    The same dynamic applies to atheists (gasp!), who all-day-long pay lip service to how they’re committed to truth, come wherever may; but at the end of the day many don’t mean it, lacking the courage of their convictions to bury their ego and simply admit when they were flat-out wrong….

    The ‘superiority illusion’ is not just for believers.

  69. adamah says

    Sky Capt said-

    A term is a unit of communication between parties. The only consensus that matters for a term is that the parties involved can come to shared understanding of the speaker’s meaning for use in discussion.

    Lol! Really?

    So just as long as two people agree that ‘theory’ is a synonym for ‘hypothesis’ (eg “evolution is JUST a theory”), and just as long as they agree to that definition based on Websters, then you have no objections with whatever nonsense they come up with?

    You’re OK with their willful ignorance, their agreement to ignore the scientific definition of ‘theory’, which IS based on consensus opinion of scientists?

    Cool: you now sacrificed all rights to gripe about ignorant believers now, since you agree they have a right to make words mean whatever they want them to mean.

    ARE YOU SURE you’ve thought through the implications of what you’re suggesting? That truths are customizable, where it’s up to each individual to decide what they want to be true? Where truths can be based on two people agreeing truths into existence?

    Check yourself: are you a believer, or an atheist?

    An external definition is a shortcut, but not a necessary one (each field has jargon, and dictionaries offer several pre-fab definitions). A major part of this show is this basic aspect of communication, which you routinely fail to grasp in your interminable grandstanding.

    Uh, how is my pointing out a failure to define a term at some point during the conversation (if not done up front) proof of my NOT grasping the importance of making sure all parties are using a term to mean the same thing?

    You’re merely confusing yourself at this point, seemingly forgetting which side of the argument you’re trying to troll….

    Are you still whining about not hearing “legend” in a show you don’t care enough to watch a second time?

    Are you still adding non-sequiturial noise without even bothering to read the thread, when doing so would allow you to easily answer such questions for yourself?

    I mentioned the lack of the word ‘legend’ being explicitly stated, even if only for the benefit of members of the viewing audience who are likely unaware of the terms.

    Here’s a brief overview if you can’t read all posts of the thread:

    Since my initial observation, the thread has evolved into other subjects: we’re now discussing the role of scientific definitions in atheism.

    Some atheists (folks like you) are arguing against using scientific definitions (even in the context of a scientific topic, no less….), since presumably you want to use scientific definitions ONLY when it serves your agenda (eg to protest when a believer says, “evolution is ONLY a theory”).

    But then they wish to violate the rules of logic AND definitions used in science to revert to Webster’s definition to be able to call believers “delusional” without experiencing any guilt.

    Got it? Any questions?

    Here’s a question for you:

    Is your commitment to scientific usage and the rules of logic only respected when it fits your immediate needs?

    Or are some atheists only ‘fair-weather friends’ of science and rationalism, just as long as both remain as the ‘hand-maidens’ of atheism?

  70. adamah says

    Favog said-

    You want supportive evidence … I’ll soon be examining 696 pages of it, having seen some of it already in Carrier’s videos and other writings.

    Uh, nope: I specifically asked YOU for supportive evidence for YOUR conspiratorial claim; I didn’t ask for evidence on the question of Jesus as myth or legend.

    YOUR claim of conspiracy smacks of Alex Jones-level paranoid effluvia, complete with claims of things “they” don’t want us to know….

    If you’ve been paying attention I my general message, you’d know why you or I believing in the evidence supporting mythicism doesn’t matter, since we’re not the ones who have to be convinced: Carrier faces a tougher audience of more-experienced NT scholars who aren’t easily impressed or bamboozled by the new kid’s hand-waving.

  71. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Adam
    Really. You don’t know as much as you think you know. You’re not as smart as you think you are. You’re not as clever as you think you are. Take a chill pill.

    As I mentioned before, it’s rude and arrogant – and idiotic – to talk smack about someone’s position when you don’t even know what that position is. Yet you continue to do so about Richard Carrier. Example from else-thread:

    Carrier faces a tougher audience of more-experienced NT scholars who aren’t easily impressed or bamboozled by the new kid’s hand-waving.

    I ask again – do you even know what Carrier’s alternative hypothesis is? Describe it to me.

  72. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah:

    So just as long as two people agree that ‘theory’ is a synonym for ‘hypothesis’ (eg “evolution is JUST a theory”) […], then you have no objections with whatever nonsense they come up with?

    Whether “evolution is JUST a hypothesis” IS what such an argument would be about anyway. The faulty assessments of reality underlying the remark are unchanged and are still subject to correction, including any misunderstanding that biologists use the term differently (and the caution that continuing with the above usage outside the scope of the discussion can be misleading).
     

    That truths are customizable, where it’s up to each individual to decide what they want to be true? Where truths can be based on two people agreeing truths into existence?

    Linguistic conventions are customizable, Dave Adam W adamah.
     

    You’re OK with their willful ignorance, their agreement to ignore the scientific definition of ‘theory’, which IS based on consensus opinion of scientists?

    When someone’s ignorance is willful ignorance, thumping the glossary of a biology textbook would do no good.
     

    Is your commitment to scientific usage and the rules of logic only respected when it fits your immediate needs?

    No one is obligated to always use every profession’s jargon outside their own field. Nor even in lay conversations about those professions, although that can be expedient when everyone else is already familiar. Or jargon can be pretentious clutter and an impediment to understanding.
     
    quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
     

    Since my initial observation, the thread has evolved into other subjects: we’re now discussing the role of scientific definitions in atheism.

    You pivoted from wanting to insert “legend” and the ambiguous legend/myth distinction, to consensus, to science terms, to “theory” in biology, to no true rationalist.
     

    Cool: you now sacrificed all rights to gripe about ignorant believers now

    Deeming people ignorant and belittling them on that basis is your preoccupation. I’m not so attached to that ‘right’ as you seem to be.

  73. corwyn says

    Cool, so show me where I said ANYWHERE that lay-people are not allowed to have or to voice, their opinion?

    Care to share where you inferred that I was making anything like that claim?

    Because if not, your self-claimed “expertise” in Bayesian math is irrelevant; once again, it’s experts IN THAT PARTICULAR FIELD who decide on methodology used, and not ‘outsiders’.

    Sorry, no. Historians don’t get to decide what the half-life of Carbon-14 is, that is the purview of chemists or physicists. Similarly, historians don’t get to decide how to compute probabilities, that is the purview of Mathematicians.

    I do think it is odd, when you claim something, lay-people should be allowed their say; when I claim something, I need “expertise” (your quotes)

  74. favog says

    Wha –?

    I made no claim of conspiracy. I accused some people of being too complacent to asks a question, or listen to the occasional person who did. No need for a conspiracy here; the old rule of not ascribing to malice what can be explained by ignorance or stupidity applies instead. In fact, I was generous enough to ascribe it to apathy and inertia.

    And there you go again slighting Carrier’s work as “hand-waving” with the intent to “bamboozle”. I am going to repeat a central point here that several of us have been trying to make, more explicitly at some times than others: for you to pass judgement on an argument that you have admitted and shown that you have not even heard is less than classy on your part.

  75. says

    >Russell and Tracie, you are both great personalities possessing strong intelligence. That said, I think you have a tendency to talk over one another, and over callers — is there some quasi-sibling rivalry between you?

    No. This reminds me of another letter to TAE we received once asking “Why does Tracie hate Russell?” The fact is, I can be rude. I can talk over people. Matt doesn’t let me get away with it as much as Russell does, and so when I’m on with Matt, the letters say “Why doesn’t Matt let Tracie talk?” When I’m on with Russell, the letters ask about *me* talking over Russell. I’d have to go back and rewatch it, but I’m willing to wager that if we did a tally of Russell and I “talking over” each other, it would be *me* interrupting and “talking over” Russell. I also do/did this on Godless Bitches, and received a good many letters saying I need to learn to STFU and let other people talk. I *do* try to shut up a bit when I become cognizant of it. I’m just not always cognizant of it. But it’s a fault I have that I must try and be vigilant about. And if I am not on my guard, this is what happens. I don’t mind people pointing it out, because it helps me be more mindful. But Russell is not to blame and it’s not any sort of issue “between us.” It’s a fault of mine, and mine alone.

  76. adamah says

    Favog said-

    Wha –?

    I made no claim of conspiracy. I accused some people of being too complacent to asks a question, or listen to the occasional person who did. No need for a conspiracy here; the old rule of not ascribing to malice what can be explained by ignorance or stupidity applies instead. In fact, I was generous enough to ascribe it to apathy and inertia.

    No? What was this, if not a conspiratorial claim?

    Favog said-

    You know why the consensus of the current generation is that Jesus counts as a historical figure? Because they’re bowing to the consensus of the previous generation. Wanna guess how the previous generation got their consensus? That’s right … failure to question the generation before that. There’ve been a few along the way who saw that there was nothing there, but they were shushed or ignored for the most part (or visited by the Spanish Inquisition).

    Suppression of dissenting voices by the mainstream?

    “Visited by the Spanish Inquisition”?

    Dude, don’t try to deny it, as your words are still up there for all to see, lol! Your comments have got ‘mythicist conspiracy theory’ written all over them, just like a 9/11 truther!

    That’s why I said you get to prove YOUR claim of some cabal existing amongst Bible scholars, plotting against the poor downtrodden and suppressed mythicists.

    Hopefully you realize you let your imagination run away from you, and got carried away in your own rhetoric.

    The mythicist position is absurd, and ~99% of scholars agree: the credibility of anyone who sides with it is rightly questioned (although the topic is sure to sell books with the general public, whether for or against).

    And there you go again slighting Carrier’s work as “hand-waving” with the intent to “bamboozle”. I am going to repeat a central point here that several of us have been trying to make, more explicitly at some times than others: for you to pass judgement on an argument that you have admitted and shown that you have not even heard is less than classy on your part.

    That’s your assumption: I’ve never admitted to any such thing. Don’t put words in my mouth.

    Perhaps you’re falling for EL’s attempts to throw out shit-loads of BS and hopes something sticks (that’s her typical MO, in lieu of using facts and logic). I’ve tuned her nonsense out long ago.

    EL’s demand for me to summarize the mythicist position is analogous to the Xian who insists an atheist just doesn’t understand Xianity, and demands the atheist parrot back their gospel to them: it’s an absurdly-ignorant approach that deserves to be ignored (it’s usually leading up to a attempted shift of ‘burden of proof’).

    And if anyone wants to talk about the issue of Jesus as myth, I’ve offered merely ONE example of the contrasting Nativity narratives of Matthew and Luke, where both authors came up with radically-different solutions to overcome Jesus’ well-known roots in Nazareth, when OT prophecies called for a Jewish messiah to be born in Bethlehem.

    Start by countering that one, explaining why an unnamed source would write Jesus’ birth and familial history as in Nazareth, only to need to add a patch-job to have him be born in Bethlehem.

    See, the thing is there’s not been ANY recent findings to change the status on the issue, and what advances in methodology of Biblical scholarship that have been made (eg literary-critical analysis, use of stat analysis, etc.), make the mythicist’s claim even weaker than it was 150 yrs ago. I’ve looked at RC’s approach, and he’s not introduced anything that’s a “game-changer” (and Bayes theorem is the ‘handwaving’ in my reference above).

    However, the lack of new evidence hasn’t hindered some in the mythicist camp from CLAIMING they’ve found new evidence, but oddly enough it always turns out to be fabricated documents or hyperbole (aka lies).

    Atwill demonstrated this last year by announcing the discovery of an ancient letter which supposedly proved Jesus was a myth created by the Romans (and the NT was supposedly penned by Josephus)!

    Of course, it turns out there wasn’t any such letter, since it was just part of a book publicity stunt which grabbed headlines Worldwide to drive sales to a receptive audience starving to be told a story they want to be true. How is that any different from religions?

    I’m an ex-JW: I know all about how publishing companies need to generate publicity to drive sales: that’s the theory for why the governing body of JWs prohibited members from accepting blood transfusions (it was a headline grabber).

    D2D religions which exploit their source of free distribution aren’t the only ones who understand publicity stunts; some atheists sell books by telling an atheist audience what they want to believe, even portraying it as a ‘David vs Goliath’ battle against evil organized religion, with Price et al in the role of David.

    That kind of message strongly resonates with those who root for under-dogs, and those who aren’t concerned about evaluating available evidence.

  77. adamah says

    Corwyn said-

    Sorry, no. Historians don’t get to decide what the half-life of Carbon-14 is, that is the purview of chemists or physicists.

    Sorry, but no. Imprecise use of words is a pet peeve of mine.

    Historians, chemists, or physicists don’t get to DECIDE what the half-life of C-14 is.

    Instead, the half-life of C-14 is measured and DESCRIBED by these scientists, but it’s not DECIDED by them (as if chemists and physicists all got together in a room to agree on some arbitrary value, detached from the actual properties of the radioactive isotope).

    I know what you were trying to say: if disagreement arises (typically due to uncertainty in measurements, equipment, calculation errors, etc) then the community agrees to some value, but typically it’s based on averages of obtained values from various labs, etc.

    That’s what ‘standards’ are all about: trying to eliminate sources of inconsistency and errors. There’s professional societies (eg IUPAC) devoted to setting standards to enhance uniformity.

    http://www.iupac.org/publications/ci/2004/2601/1_holden.html

    Ironic that some are arguing against the right of experts to define terms and conventions within their respective fields, even in this very thread, no? It’s almost like some lived under a rock, and the existence of such organizations is news to them?

    Similarly, historians don’t get to decide how to compute probabilities, that is the purview of Mathematicians.

    Way to miss my point, Corwyn.

    AGAIN, the community of HISTORIANS have the right to decide to ADOPT whatever tools (including statistical methodologies) THEY think will facilitate THEIR efforts.

    OF COURSE multi-disciplinary efforts exist, where scientific inquiry is a team effort, but when it comes to deciding what constitutes acceptable standards of practice with EACH field, that’s SOLELY up to the individuals themselves to collectively decide.

    As a retired physician, I’ve seen many exciting technologies which were suggested by their manufacturers as being the new “standard of care”, only NOT to be adopted by specialist practitioners in the field; hence the equipment never became the “standard of care”, and NOT because it didn’t work, etc. it failed to become the new standard, simply because so few docs adopted the technology and the company went out of business (or docs went with a cheaper alternative of a competitor).

    All scholarly and professional communities use similar methods to decide how new standards are adopted: historians are no different.

    I do think it is odd, when you claim something, lay-people should be allowed their say; when I claim something, I need “expertise” (your quotes).

    Corwyn, unless you’re now going to deny your prior posts to this thread, you are in the pro-mythicist camp. I am not: I’m siding with consensus opinion.

    You may think you have been careful to avoid stating an opinion, but whether you realize it not, you actually have stated an opinion. As such, you don’t enjoy the cover of being able to ‘appeal to CONSENSUS opinion of historians’, since you’re challenging it.

    You even claimed to possess special expertise on BT, even though it turns out you’re not a historian.

    As a non-historian, you lack the training and experience to know whether BT is applicable to answering HISTORICAL questions.

    Re-read my comments, as I’ve made it perfectly clear that lay-people are free to voice an opinion on a subject, but if that opinion is CHALLENGING the consensus opinion of the community of experts of which they’re not even a member, then a flashing ‘yellow light’ SHOULD go off in their head warning them they might think twice, since they’d bear the burden of proof.

    Scientific and scholarly communities operate by those who are willing to put their reputations on the line to back their ideas. Laypeople and random bloggers don’t have ‘any skin in the game’, and they shouldn’t be given any cred to have to put on the line.

    RC may have the bona fides as a Cal/Harvard grad, but educational pedigree means little once a person is outside of school: it’s what they manage to do with their education that matters.

  78. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    >Atwill
    Note that we all know the guy is a crank, and his ideas are bullcrap.

    >gospel narrative about origin of Jesus
    I need to finish reading his book to give a proper reply. Off the cuff, I believe his explanation for that is this. I hope I get this right.

    Background: Carrier’s hypothesis is that there was a Jewish, pre-Christian idea that there was a son of Christian god named Jesus who lived in heaven and was the high priest of the Christian god in heaven. Early believers learned about Jesus through hallucination (whether real or faked). Like most mystery religions of the time, Christianity told one story to outsiders that was steeped in hidden allegory, a story about Jesus on Earth. When initiates reached a certain level in the cult, they got the real-deal, which was that Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected in outer space.

    Carrier argues that the gospel of Matthew was all allegorical. Every bit of the book was masterfully crafted to be a combination of allegorical teachings of Jesus to his followers. This was before placing Jesus in history was firmly rooted by everyone. Then, Luke was the third gospel, and by then the Christian culture had shifted and started placing Jesus as a human on Earth instead of in outer space.

    You are taking the text with the assumption that they understood Jesus was a guy on Earth to conclude that Jesus was a guy on Earth. What if instead the wholly unbelievable story in Matthew about the killing of every firstborn had some allegorical or propagandistic intent and effect?

    I need to finish reading Carrier’s book to know how he addresses this issue. I do not know offhand, but because of you, I’m going to read and find out, rather than dismiss a person whose position I actually don’t know on the basis that a crank says something superficially similar.

    PS: Yes you have the consensus. As soon as you want to start arguing about it though, which are you doing, you give up all right to use that as an excuse in the debate itself. That might still be good enough to dismiss my arguments in your own head, but stating “you are working against consensus” has no part in a discussion where we are talking about the nitty gritty details ourselves.

    Similarly, I am either going to dismiss a creationist as ignorant or a crank, but if I start getting into the details, I’m not going to give up when it goes hard and play the “experts are against you” card. Instead, I’m either going to put up or shut up.

  79. favog says

    I read some parts of that several times. I’m having a hard time believing I read those parts even once, but the evidence is right there. So let me get this straight … you’re saying that the Spanish Inquisition was not “suppression of dissenting voices by the mainstream”. You’re saying that they didn’t do any thing like that, that’s just my imagination running wild. It’s not like dealing harshly with heretics was what the SI was all about or anything like that.

    Of course, I’m not really thinking of the SI as a “conspiracy” in the sense that’s commonly used in the phrase “conspiracy theory” — those scenarios usually imply it’s being done covertly, and the SI was all about making examples of people. I realize that technically secrecy isn’t essential to the meaning of the word, but whether or not one wants to label the SI with the term “conspiracy” is unimportant. What is important is that in their hands, people with opinions like those of Thomas Paine or Richard Carrier were in for torture or death, which probably discouraged a lot of expression of that kind of thinking, just as it was intended to do.

    And then, or course, there’s this: “That’s why I said you get to prove YOUR claim of some cabal existing amongst Bible scholars, plotting against the poor downtrodden and suppressed mythicists.”. For the third goddamn time, I have expressly said that I do NOT claim there is a cabal existing among Bible scholars. I have said they are ignoring the proposition individually out of complacency, not some malicious scheme. Much like you’ve ignored that very point, and I would bet, will to continue to do.

  80. adamah says

    EL said-

    Note that we all know the guy is a crank, and his ideas are bullcrap.

    How do you know that, EL? On what basis did you reach that conclusion?

    Perhaps you were relying solely on RMP’s dismissal of Atwill, or did the consensus opinion of historians play any role in the decision?

    Background: Carrier’s hypothesis is that there was a Jewish, pre-Christian idea that there was a son of Christian god named Jesus who lived in heaven and was the high priest of the Christian god in heaven.

    You might read Ehrman’s discussion of this topic in his book, “How Jesus Became God”. He presents compelling evidence that shows the concept emerged in apocryphal Jewish intertestamental writings, but was later adopted in Xian doctrine saying Jesus pre-existed in Heaven as the archangel Michael.

    The emergence of the concept in Christology is documented as a relatively late addition, appearing circa 150CE (IIRC).

    Early believers learned about Jesus through hallucination (whether real or faked).

    See a problem?

    You mean to suggest that multiple individuals independently hallucinated the same concept of a Jewish messiah who was born in Nazareth, and they all hallucinated him speaking the same sayings, and wrote them down?

    Like most mystery religions of the time, Christianity told one story to outsiders that was steeped in hidden allegory, a story about Jesus on Earth. When initiates reached a certain level in the cult, they got the real-deal, which was that Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected in outer space.

    Yeah, you’re speaking of gnostic beliefs: you might read Elaine Pagels many books on the emergence of Gnosticism, and the myth of original Xian church.

    But the question is, WHO determined what the “real deal” Jesus was about?

    At least Atwill had the courage to NAME individuals behind his hypothesis, saying it was a powerful Roman family assisted by Josephus, writing the NT in the late 1st century. It’s utterly implausible for obvious reasons (for one, the writings of Paul predate the Gospels), but at least Atwill staked a position rather than relying on vague and nebulous innuendos of “they dun it”. Mythicists don’t usually ever get around to explaining who/what/when/where/why.

    Carrier argues that the gospel of Matthew was all allegorical. Every bit of the book was masterfully crafted to be a combination of allegorical teachings of Jesus to his followers.

    Yes, but WHO wrote Matthew? You’ve got a lot of ‘dots’ but you need to connect them.

    Is the Jesus myth the equivalent of the ‘lone gunman’ acting alone, or was there some pre-existing vast nebulous conspiracy?

    And where was the foci of this conspiracy? In the poor backwaters of Jewish Palestine, a region where the mystery cults of Persia and Greece wouldn’t have penetrated?

    This was before placing Jesus in history was firmly rooted by everyone. Then, Luke was the third gospel, and by then the Christian culture had shifted and started placing Jesus as a human on Earth instead of in outer space.

    Again, you’d do well to read Ehrman’s work above, as that sequence is assbackwards suugeted by the available evidence (namely, the early writings of church historians, who had no reason to lie on thoses point, since they were too busy trying to squash heretical beliefs within the Xian church).

    You are taking the text with the assumption that they understood Jesus was a guy on Earth to conclude that Jesus was a guy on Earth.

    No, you missed my point then.

    If there were a ‘sole gunman’ behind the Jesus myth, why would they write Jesus as being born in Nazareth, when they knew they were crafting a character to be the Jewish messiah who was said in Micah to be born in Bethlehem?

    Why not just write the character as having been born in Bethlehem, vs having to create excuses to explain away the inconvenient facts of a real mortal who was known to have been from there?

    What if instead the wholly unbelievable story in Matthew about the killing of every firstborn had some allegorical or propagandistic intent and effect?

    It most definitely IS theologically-driven, since Matthew is clearly targeted to Jews to convince them that Jesus WAS the Jewish messiah, and the account recapitulates the OT story of Moses, said to foreshadow the mortal Jewish messiah who would restore the Kingdom of David in Jerusalem, and lead the Jews to conquer their enemies (kicking the Romans out of Palestine, etc).

    But AGAIN, if you agree that Matthew was written to convince Jews that Jesus was the Jewish messiah (with a twist ending of being crucified, which ALSO was an inconvenient well-known fact had to be explained away), then WHY would the account contain a workaround to explain Jesus’ hailing from Nazareth, and not Bethlehem?

    These are amongst the types of discrepancies which no mythicist has adequately addressed, despite having over 200 yrs to dream up excuses.

    I need to finish reading Carrier’s book to know how he addresses this issue. I do not know offhand, but because of you, I’m going to read and find out, rather than dismiss a person whose position I actually don’t know on the basis that a crank says something superficially similar.

    Nope, not even close. I dismiss RC and other mythicists because they cannot account for these and many more problems, which aren’t actually problems if one uses logic and evidence (as the mainstream community does).

    PS: Yes you have the consensus. As soon as you want to start arguing about it though, which are you doing, you give up all right to use that as an excuse in the debate itself. That might still be good enough to dismiss my arguments in your own head, but stating “you are working against consensus” has no part in a discussion where we are talking about the nitty gritty details ourselves.

    Lol! Nope, not even close to reality.

    The consensus opinion STILL exists, whether one layperson can convince another or not. Just because two laypeople can’t debate has no bearing on the FACT the consensus opinion exists.

    The card has been played, and it’s always in play.

    You’d be wise to reconsider the absurdity of arguing against a position which an entire community who’ve dedicated their entire lives to studying the questions has agreed upon. Although not constituting science denial, it’s pretty damn close, suggesting someone who carries a strong anti-authoritarian “know it all” streak and ignores evidence, aka a dogmatist.

    Instead, I’m either going to put up or shut up.

    Oh, is that a promise?

    ;)

  81. adamah says

    Favog said-

    So let me get this straight … you’re saying that the Spanish Inquisition was not “suppression of dissenting voices by the mainstream”.

    Uh, no: the SI was about all suppression of heretics. Your conclusion to the contrary is YOUR problem; that’s your inserting ideas into words I didn’t write (eisegesis, aka interpolation).

    You’re saying that they didn’t do any thing like that, that’s just my imagination running wild. It’s not like dealing harshly with heretics was what the SI was all about or anything like that.

    Don’t be foolish: obviously SI occurred, but it occurred LONG-BEFORE the ‘mythicist myth’ arose, a product of the last ~200 yrs. Hence, the Jesus myth is very much a modern myth in itself.

    There’s absolutely no record of anyone even considering that Jesus was only a myth, including the early Church fathers (Irenaeus, etc) who defended the Xian faith from many challenges and left written records of their apologetics. There’s absolutely no mention in the meticulous records of the suggestion that Jesus was whole cloth myth.

    Back to you: you were attempting to use evidence of the SI as if to show likelihood of some modern conspiracy against Jesus mythicists, but those dots cannot be connected: they’re two entirely-unrelated subjects, products of a different place and time. It’s complete speculative, and I was asking you to provide evidence of your paranoid hypothesis.

    Of course, I’m not really thinking of the SI as a “conspiracy” in the sense that’s commonly used in the phrase “conspiracy theory” — those scenarios usually imply it’s being done covertly, and the SI was all about making examples of people. I realize that technically secrecy isn’t essential to the meaning of the word, but whether or not one wants to label the SI with the term “conspiracy” is unimportant.

    Do yourself a favor and look up the definition of ‘conspiracy’. The important part there’s COLLUSION amongt participants (called ‘co-conspirators’).

    Fact is, the dynamic you cynically suggested as a ‘conspiracy’ is in fact how academic and scholarly communities operate, except the process occurs IN PLAIN SITE, occurring in the OPEN for all to see. That’s the idea of submissions appearing in discussion sections in referred peer-reviewed journals, etc. The discussion occurs for all members of the community to see.

    Just because someone decides to broadcast their illogic to all of their colleagues doesn’t mean the community should be blamed for dismissing the individual as a crank, either naive/honesty-deluded, or driven by more nefarious motives (need for ego-gratification, desire for fame and notoriety or seeking status amongst non-academics, etc).

    Every profession has a few cranks who shoot their own credibility in the foot: consider it part of the natural selection process applied to academic and scholarly advancement. The competitive process generally works such that the cream rises to the top, and nothing substitutes for possessing true genius (eg Einstein).

    What is important is that in their hands, people with opinions like those of Thomas Paine or Richard Carrier were in for torture or death, which probably discouraged a lot of expression of that kind of thinking, just as it was intended to do.

    There you go with your underdog thing, comparing RC to TP, lol!

    Ever consider looking in the mirror and asking WHY you have a bias for siding with underdogs? I have no idea, but usually it’s an emotionally-driven reaction to ones own life circumstances.

    I’m not saying there’s not cases where the underdog is squashed, but have you ever considered how insulting such a suggestion is the professional and academic integrity of the very community of experts you’re trying to persuade, as if NO ONE ELSE but RC cares about truths?

    That’s exactly one of many reasons most experts don’t take the lay public seriously: they’re often driven by their emotions, and persuaded by reasoned analysis of the evidence.

    And then, or course, there’s this: “That’s why I said you get to prove YOUR claim of some cabal existing amongst Bible scholars, plotting against the poor downtrodden and suppressed mythicists.”. For the third goddamn time, I have expressly said that I do NOT claim there is a cabal existing among Bible scholars. I have said they are ignoring the proposition individually out of complacency, not some malicious scheme. Much like you’ve ignored that very point, and I would bet, will to continue to do.

    LOL! You are talking out of both sides of your mouth, referring to SI in reference to mythicists one minute, and now back-peddling. You expect me just to overlook your apparently-obvious flip-flopping, as if it’s not happening?

    Make up your mind: you’re shot-gunning like a theist by trying to claim both sides of the coin toss at once, despite both being mutually-exclusive.

    Is there currently a conspiracy amongst Bible scholars against mythicists or not, or were you getting carried away by making a comparison with the SI?

    Get back after you get the afore-mentioned kinks worked out of your position.

  82. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    You mean to suggest that multiple individuals independently hallucinated the same concept of a Jewish messiah who was born in Nazareth, and they all hallucinated him speaking the same sayings, and wrote them down?

    I suggest you familiarize yourself with mystery cults, and cults in general. For example, are you saying that the Heaven’s Day cult didn’t happen? Are you saying the Heaven’s Day cult was unlikely?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_%28religious_group%29
    On the contrary, shit like that happens all the time in primitive societies, and especially in the classic Greek and Roman era.

    At least Atwill had the courage to NAME individuals behind his hypothesis, saying it was a powerful Roman family assisted by Josephus, writing the NT in the late 1st century. It’s utterly implausible for obvious reasons (for one, the writings of Paul predate the Gospels), but at least Atwill staked a position rather than relying on vague and nebulous innuendos of “they dun it”. Mythicists don’t usually ever get around to explaining who/what/when/where/why.

    You just said that you respect someone who makes shit up more than someone who sticks to what the evidence shows. Just saying.

    Why is this impossible based on Paul’s writings? Carrier’s central argument is that the contention is largely over the authentic writings of Paul, and in the authentic writings of Paul, not once does he clearly talk about an Earthly Jesus, and his writings make much more sense if you go with the interpretation that Jesus was a celestial creature, who was created, lived, died, and was reborn in outer space (aka heaven).

    Yes, but WHO wrote Matthew? You’ve got a lot of ‘dots’ but you need to connect them.

    Is the Jesus myth the equivalent of the ‘lone gunman’ acting alone, or was there some pre-existing vast nebulous conspiracy?

    Was there a lone gunman who created the Heaven’s Gate cult? Was there a lone gunman who invented John Frum and the cargo cults?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult
    I’m sorry. People in poor conditions with no education are quite prone to inventing fantasies out of whole cloth. No conspiracy needed.

    And where was the foci of this conspiracy? In the poor backwaters of Jewish Palestine, a region where the mystery cults of Persia and Greece wouldn’t have penetrated?

    Says who? You’re saying that the style of the time happened in every other culture of the time, except the Jews? Every other culture of the time took their religion, combined it with Hellenistic elements, changed it from a city cult into a fictive kinship cult, changed it from a city cult to a personal salvation cult, whose leader was a celestial creature who was never on Earth, and had a passion in order to grant their followers victory over death? Come on. You’re being way too dismissive of the possibility.

    Again, you’d do well to read Ehrman’s work above, as that sequence is assbackwards suugeted by the available evidence (namely, the early writings of church historians, who had no reason to lie on thoses point, since they were too busy trying to squash heretical beliefs within the Xian church).

    What early church historians? IIRC, there’s no such thing until quite a bit after 150 AD. I also don’t get your point. You’re still laboring under the idea that it was a massive conspiracy of some kind instead of a rather natural progression of a cult which also happened in many other cults in the region at the same time. Also which happens in some forms today, such as the Cargo Cults and Heaven’s Gate.

    It most definitely IS theologically-driven, since Matthew is clearly targeted to Jews to convince them that Jesus WAS the Jewish messiah, and the account recapitulates the OT story of Moses, said to foreshadow the mortal Jewish messiah who would restore the Kingdom of David in Jerusalem, and lead the Jews to conquer their enemies (kicking the Romans out of Palestine, etc).

    I am an idiot. Please ignore everything I have written on this topic. Let me start afresh. So, let’s review what you said, for my own benefit if any.

    Aside from Rabbinical and Greek references (eg Celsus) to Jesus as a real person, it should be interesting to see how RC tap-dances to explain how two independent writers of gospel accounts used two completely-different and contradictory solutions so as to have Jesus associated with Bethlehem (where the Jewish messiah was foretold to hail from, per Xian misinterpretation of OT prophecies).

    It was well-known at the time that the wiz-kid rabbi-to-be Jesus was born and raised in Nazareth (other gospel passages cite this as a well-known fact amongst the Jewish people, asking if Jesus wasn’t the son of Joseph, the carpenter from Galilee).

    Hence one Gospel account has Jesus’ parents fleeing to Egypt to escape King Herod’s decree calling for the slaughter of Jewish male infants; the family fled to Egypt, but returned to live in Bethlehem.

    The other account has the family returning to Bethlehem to take part in a census which required families to return to their ancestral homeland (the city where their ancestors lived 1,000 yrs before)! That’s where he was born in a manger in Bethlehem, and the family later returned to Nazareth after he was born and the census was completed.

    The two excuses are so completely different and so implausible, that such awkward attempts suggest a real historical figure at the core who actually WAS from Nazareth; both writers had to perform some elaborate tap-dancing to account for the disparity between Jesus’ well-known bibliographical details to make him fulfill OT prophecy.

    If Jesus were purely a fictional character, the creator of the Jesus myth wouldn’t need to work that hard: they’d simply make him be born in Bethlehem so as to fulfill OT prophecies, and it would be done by the stroke of a pen.

    Ok. First, you’re operating under the assumption that the mythicist position is that there was a cabal of people with a specific aim to create a fake Jesus. That’s not Richard Carrier’s position. Who was the gunman behind John Frum? Who was in the cabal behind the creation of John Frum?

    You argue that Matthew and Luke are independent. Please. Luke copied a lot from Matthew.

    You basically argue “If Jesus was not a real person, the people writing the gospels could invent whatever they want”. We know Luke copied greatly from Matthew. There was a pre-existing tradition which Luke could not just throw away – Earthly Jesus or not. In essence, you are arguing that the only way dogma about a Jesus could arise was if Jesus was a real Earthly human. This is quite a silly argument. I shouldn’t have to say why.

    Let’s talk about this part specifically:

    It was well-known at the time that the wiz-kid rabbi-to-be Jesus was born and raised in Nazareth (other gospel passages cite this as a well-known fact amongst the Jewish people, asking if Jesus wasn’t the son of Joseph, the carpenter from Galilee).

    Let’s talk about this, shall we.

    Purportedly, one can argue strongly that based on the Greek structure of the word and the root, Nazarene is not the description for someone from a town Nazara, Nazaret, Nazareth, etc. If you know the Greek, it’s not like how Athens is related to Athenian.

    We have evidence that the earliest Christians called themselves Nazarenes, and if that was the name of a town, that would make no more sense that Platonists calling themselves Athenians as a way of saying that they follow Plato’s teachings.

    Nazarene was probably a title or description. For example, we have writers identifying “Jesus Nazaria” as meaning “Jesus Savior of Truth”. Also see Numbers 6, where it describes the Nazarites. A Nazarite vow involved consecrating yourself (such as by forgoing wine), and that might be the origin of the word.

    As another example, consider this:
    Acts 24:5

    For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout [a]the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

    Here, nazarenes cannot be referring to people from the town of Nazar -whatever.

    Note specifically that I agree various gospels describe an Earthly Jesus who was from the town Nazareth. Why did Mark include this? Why didn’t any of the authentic writings of Paul? Maybe it was a scribal copying error in Mark that confused the title for a similar sounding town. Then Matthew had that dogma to work with, and he did the best he could. Then Luke copied it, because it was dogma, but put his own spin on it, like he did for the rest of Matthew.

    Matthew almost certaintly didn’t invent a citation of scripture on this point. Moreso, it’s quite possible that Mark, Matthew, and Luke all had access to some scripture which is now lost, which they understood as saying the savior would be from Nazar-whatever. Thus, again, not independent. Just like with Bethlehem, they might have invented it to fulfill some prophecy.

    In short, it’s a huge mess with no obvious way out. We have no idea what the hell is going on here. History and mythicism seem just as likely because the evidence on this point is so bad.

    Or, that’s what I understand the evidence to be after a few hours reading up on this.

  83. adamah says

    EL said-

    I suggest you familiarize yourself with mystery cults, and cults in general.

    Thanks, but as an ex-JW who was RAISED in a cult (and lived thru the failed Armageddon prediction of 1975), I have extensively studied cults, both first-hand and by study, which I’ve applied to working with ex-cult members to aid their transition from cults.

    (PS oh, I read Gandy and Frekes book on mystery cults: does that count?

    Sarcasm intended, as hopefully that’s not your source of info on mystery cults,lol!)

    For example, are you saying that the Heaven’s Day cult didn’t happen?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_%28religious_group%9

    On the contrary, shit like that happens all the time in primitive societies, and especially in the classic Greek and Roman era.

    Uh, what the HELL does the Heavens Day cult have to do with the question of Jesus as myth?

    It’s like you believe circumstantial evidence from modern times topples actual historical evidence.

    Like many mythicists, you’re arguing from ignorance, using the, “but it just makes sense to me” position (see Tracies video on the subject) to connect dots that are on opposite sides of the Planet.

    You just said that you respect someone who makes shit up more than someone who sticks to what the evidence shows. Just saying.

    Exactly, since at least Atwill offered tangibles that can be quickly and soundly refuted by scholars.

    But much like theists (e.g. the caller Andrew from Bethlehem, who never gets to any point), the typical mythicist only hand-waves abstractions and operates on speculative hunches and hot air.

    You’re alot like Andrew right now, on this subject.

    Why is this impossible based on Paul’s writings?

    Holy Hades, EL. Really?

    You lack the self-awareness that you’re just like the theist who asks if it’s impossible that God exists, attempting to hand the burden of proof to the other side.

    Carrier’s central argument is that the contention is largely over the authentic writings of Paul, and in the authentic writings of Paul, not once does he clearly talk about an Earthly Jesus, and his writings make much more sense if you go with the interpretation that Jesus was a celestial creature, who was created, lived, died, and was reborn in outer space (aka heaven).

    It’s abundantly clear you haven’t bothered to read Ehrman’s book on the Jesus myth from a few years ago, as he effectively counters the mythicists’ misunderstanding.

    (I’ve already explained the concept of Jesus as a pre-existent spirit being was introduced into Xianity as a LATER belief, well-documented in early church writings.

    There’s TONS of evidence that early Xians were Jews who conceived of Jesus as a mortal, a human being who was a crucified Jewish messiah. Learn about the Jewish beliefs and expectations for a Jewish messiah, since it’s clear it hasn’t yet sunk in.

    Ehrman lays it out quite well in his most-recent book, “How Jesus became God”, as he covers the topic in an easy-to-read fashion that most lay-people can grasp.

    I’m sorry. People in poor conditions with no education are quite prone to inventing fantasies out of whole cloth. No conspiracy needed.

    Sure, it’s possible. Now all you need to do is provide evidence it DID happen for Jesus.

    Says who? You’re saying that the style of the time happened in every other culture of the time, except the Jews? Every other culture of the time took their religion, combined it with Hellenistic elements, changed it from a city cult into a fictive kinship cult, changed it from a city cult to a personal salvation cult, whose leader was a celestial creature who was never on Earth, and had a passion in order to grant their followers victory over death? Come on. You’re being way too dismissive of the possibility.

    Lotta buzzwords.

    Yes, it’s a possiblity that God could exist, but I’m still an atheist.

    Actual evidence needed. Prove it.

    See, the whole ‘dying/rising God’ claim is itself a modern myth: it wasn’t as common as claimed. Ehrman covers the myth in Chapter 7 of his book on the case for a historical Jesus.

    Furthermore, if you actually understood Jewish messianic expectations, as I said above, the original view of Jesus was that he NOT God, but a mortal; the later belief in Jesus as God was a later development in Xian theology (which NT scholars refer to as the emergence of ‘High Christology’).

    Ok. First, you’re operating under the assumption that the mythicist position is that there was a cabal of people with a specific aim to create a fake Jesus. That’s not Richard Carrier’s position. Who was the gunman behind John Frum? Who was in the cabal behind the creation of John Frum?

    Do you really want to bring up John Frum and cargo cults as circumstantial evidence in support of the Jesus myth?

    It’s like you don’t understand there WERE real humans at the core of ‘John Frum’ (and ‘Tom Navy’, another figure worshipped in cargo cults), namely those anonymous US military members who were in the region and delivered cargo to the troops during the WW II! There likely was an individual behind ‘John Frum’, who served as the basis of the legend. Other individuals were sources of modification of the legend, where black US soldiers apparently contributed to the mosaic of the ‘John Frum’ figure, since the story became that he was dark-skinned.

    No cultural anthropologist has EVER suggested that there weren’t US military members and European traders at the core of the cargo cults, so you might rethink analogies and find an example that doesn’t clearly fall into the category of “legend”.

    And even if you found some other example, in historical research, such are considered as ‘circumstantial evidence’ which is largely irrelevant, since it’s 2,000 yrs removed (!), on the opposite side of the globe, and hence occurring in a different culture.

    It’s no more relevant to 1st century Palestine than an 18th century Korean leader who claimed to be the son of God would be compelling to Jesus claiming to be the Son of God.

    To historians, although such circumstantial evidence IS considered, it’s TRUMPED by ACTUAL evidence, namely independent contemporary attestations from multiple sources which show no signs of collaboration, but do corroborate.

    If you’re doubting the validity of that basic premise, then you’re challenging the very foundational roots of historical methodology.

    What early church historians? IIRC, there’s no such thing until quite a bit after 150 AD.

    Papias of Hierapolis was an apostolic father who wrote circa 100 AD on the history and origins of the canonical Gospels.

    You argue that Matthew and Luke are independent. Please. Luke copied a lot from Matthew.

    Holy Hell, EL, do yourself a favor and learn the basics of NT scholarship, starting with the ‘2-source hypothesis': it’s been the prevailing explanation for over the last century, explainIng Markan dependency for both Matthew and Luke.

    There’s evidence to think there’s other non-Markan common sources (namely, the Q source, as reflected by the common beatitudes and wisdom sayings of Jesus). Both authors seemingly relied on OTHER works which served as independent sources for each (called M and L).

    That’s the consensus opinion amongst NT scholars as the best way to resolve the ‘synoptic problem’.

    As I explained a few months ago in another thread (heicart’s article on the lack of a tangible referent for God), the ‘2-source hypothesis’ still lacks the finding of a Q, a hypothetical document who’s existence is not attested by either early church tradition or existing fragments (i.e. there’s no physical referent).

    Nevertheless, it’s the consensus opinion, and it would properly be called a theory if a Q document were discovered (and the Gospel of Thomas has supported the concept of a Q document, but in lieu of finding it, it remains a strong hypothesis).

    So you want to discuss the evidence, but not only don’t you understand the basics of Bible scholarship, you don’t understand the basic premise of ALL historical research?

    Yet you feel qualified to attempt to doubt what you don’t even understand?

    At least you admit this:

    In short, it’s a huge mess with no obvious way out. We have no idea what the hell is going on here.

    Correction: YOU have no idea what’s going on here.

    Don’t project your personal ignorance onto others, since you’re just like a theist who argues from ignorance, but nevertheless concludes with, “therefore, God”.

    In your case, though, that doesn’t stop you from coming to this conclusion:

    History and mythicism seem just as likely because the evidence on this point is so bad.

    “Just as likely”? Is that your learned conclusion?

    Or, that’s what I understand the evidence to be after a few hours reading up on this.

    You mean you haven’t untangled it, after only a few hours of reading up on it?

    Shocker!

    ;)

    EL, before displaying the ‘arrogance of ignorance’ by taking on the consensus opinion of members of the Society of Biblical Literature and other scholarly NT academies, you might reflect on the wisdom of the ancient saying:

    “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt…”

  84. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Adam
    Your reply conssists almost entirely of strawman and out of context quote mines. You should feel bad.

    I cited Heaven’s Gate as an example that mass hallucinations happen, even in today’s society. I explained this point. You pretend I didn’t.

    Why is this impossible based on Paul’s writings?

    Holy Hades, EL. Really?
    You lack the self-awareness that you’re just like the theist who asks if it’s impossible that God exists, attempting to hand the burden of proof to the other side.

    You’re the one making a positive assertion of historicity. Thus you also take on a positive burden of proof to show all competing hypotheses are implausible.

    There’s TONS of evidence that early Xians were Jews who conceived of Jesus as a mortal, a human being who was a crucified Jewish messiah. Learn about the Jewish beliefs and expectations for a Jewish messiah, since it’s clear it hasn’t yet sunk in.

    And that’s Carrier’s hypothesis (more or less), except that it all happened in outer space. Depends on how substantially you care about the difference between an angel (Jesus) which died was raised from the dead, vs a human who died and was raised from the dead.

    Sure, it’s possible. Now all you need to do is provide evidence it DID happen for Jesus.

    Actual evidence needed. Prove it.

    No I don’t. I just need to construct a hypothesis which is plausible on the existing evidence. At the very least, that gets us to historisticy agnosticism.

    See, the whole ‘dying/rising God’ claim is itself a modern myth: it wasn’t as common as claimed. Ehrman covers the myth in Chapter 7 of his book on the case for a historical Jesus.

    You need to review Carrier. For example, Osiris / Isis, Zalmoxis, and Romulus cults. Also, doesn’t have to be dying and rising. You’re being too pedantic. The point is that many other cults had a god undergoing a passion, the same Greek word that was used for Jesus, which gave their followers victory over death. When you extend it to the common theme of a passion – which doesn’t necessarily involve the death and ressurrection of the savoir god, we get some more, like Mithras.

    Furthermore, if you actually understood Jewish messianic expectations, as I said above, the original view of Jesus was that he NOT God, but a mortal; the later belief in Jesus as God was a later development in Xian theology (which NT scholars refer to as the emergence of ‘High Christology’).

    Again, agreed. Carrier’s hypothesis is that Jesus was originally understood to be an angel in heaven, the son of god, a high priestess in heaven – not god himself. Comparable to how Zeus was the father of Hercules, and Hercules was more than a man, but Hercules could still die.

    Do you really want to bring up John Frum and cargo cults as circumstantial evidence in support of the Jesus myth?

    It’s like you don’t understand there WERE real humans at the core of ‘John Frum’

    Yes there were real humans at the heart of Christianity. Paul probably existed as a human on Earth. There were also humans, American military, at the heart of the Cargo Cults. The thing you miss was that there was no John Frum. The Cargo Cults hallucinated visions of John Frum. There never was a preacher named John Frum who said he would return in an airplane with cargo. There also wasn’t a conspiracy to invent John From and push him as a real Earthly historical person.

    Thus, you’re arguing against a position which no one here has put forth. Carrier’s position is not that Paul didn’t exist. Carrier’s position is that Paul hallucinated visions of a celestial Jesus, and that Paul did not meet an Earthly human named Jesus.

    Papias of Hierapolis

    Never heard of him before. I’m going to have to call bullshit. I’ll look into this later.

    starting with the ’2-source hypothesis

    And it’s also wrong. Q hypothesis is falling out of fashion because it doesn’t fit the evidence. It’s actually falling out of consensus with several recent papers publishing conclusively against it.

    In short, it’s a huge mess with no obvious way out. We have no idea what the hell is going on here.

    Correction: YOU have no idea what’s going on here.

    Nice job taking that out of context asshole. I did not say that I have no clue about the whole conversation.

    I did say that the community doesn’t know why Mark, and especially Matthew, says that Jesus had to be born in Nazareth, because that was not the original meaning of Nazarene. We know that was not the original meaning of Jesus the Nazarene. Thus the historical community has no clue why that happened. I put forward several of the current guesses. Thereby, I demolished your argument for the historicity of Jesus.

  85. corwyn says

    Corwyn, unless you’re now going to deny your prior posts to this thread, you are in the pro-mythicist camp. I am not: I’m siding with consensus opinion.

    And we have discovered your problem. You think that anyone who has a problem with your weak arguments must be on the other side. Sorry, You are wrong about that. You are wrong about me being a mythicist. You are wrong that my posts indicate, to a rational observer, that I am. You are wrong that historians get to determine how to do confidence equations. You are wrong that I implied that chemists get to decide what the half-life of C-14 is, I said it was in their *purview*.

  86. says

    Oh, Adam, ye of great alliterative regurgitation, allow this humble peasant the honor of keeping you distracted on these fine forums, lest you interact with those whom we oppose…

    Nice ‘appeal to pity’!

    Wow! Let me spell it out more clearly. You are asserting the historicity conclusion, based on your own assessment of the evidence, when you aren’t a historian in this field. I wasn’t questioning the evidence (pro tip: evidence is evidence, not something sentient that we can say has fallacious authority), I was questioning your assessment of it.

    And if merely quoting him somehow makes ME a misogynist

    I just died thrice from ironyitis.

    I’m an educated layperson

    Citation? I’m a bit skeptical of your authority…

  87. corwyn says

    Sure, confidence levels. Carrier gives range from 1:3 to 1;12,000 against, for the historicity of Jesus (argue it with him). That is a confidence range of 36 decibans. Not exactly cut and dried. Even the extreme end of the range is only 41 decibans, evolution is on *much* firmer footing, The coincidence of only two phylogenetic trees taken from different evidence (say fossils and DNA) alone is more than that.

  88. adamah says

    EL said-

    Your reply consists almost entirely of strawman and out of context quote mines. You should feel bad.

    Wait: you aren’t telling me how I should feel, as if to shame me? Don’t look now, but that’s a pretty-blatant “appeal to shame”!

    Hopefully someone who values rationalism will call you out on it, and shame you into submission!

    :)

    I cited Heaven’s Gate as an example that mass hallucinations happen, even in today’s society. I explained this point. You pretend I didn’t.

    Oh, I was wondering why you dragged Heavens Gate into this.

    You didn’t have to do that, since I don’t doubt the phenomenon of mass hallucinations: you could’ve simply cited the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, if your goal was to convince me of something I already accept.

    But once again, the possibility of mass hallucinations STILL doesn’t connect the dots, since it’s still (repeat after me…..) circumstantial evidence.

    (BTW, I’m still scratching my head over what Heavens Gate has to do with ‘mass hallucinations’?)

    You’re the one making a positive assertion of historicity. Thus you also take on a positive burden of proof to show all competing hypotheses are implausible.

    Fortunate for us both, that’s precisely what the community of NT scholars has already done, examining evidence for them to decide. Wasn’t that awfully considerate of them?

    And that’s Carrier’s hypothesis (more or less), except that it all happened in outer space.

    In outer space, huh…

    Hopefully RC gives credit where credit is due, since that sounds alot like Dougherty’s hypothesis from a number of years ago, saying Jesus was crucified in Heaven and the gospels are allegorical (it’s kinda true, as the principles of gnostic beliefs developed later in areas outside of Jewish Palestine, like Turkey and Egypt to come up with that thinking).

    But if that seems logical to you, I’m guessing your prior Xian indoctrination must be preventing you from wrapping your head around the concept that the earliest 1st century Xians were Jews in Palestine, and they didn’t think Jesus existed in Heaven as an angel before he was born.

    Instead, they thought Jesus was the Jewish messiah, a mortal, hence more akin to the high priest in Jerusalem. That’s why early Xians were struggling to make sense of Jesus dying at the hands of the Romans: that wasn’t found in any of the messianic prophecies, and in typical fashion of Xians they had to eisegetically-interpret OT prophecies to justify his death.

    Jesus was said by Paul to be resurrected as the “first fruits” of a general resurrection which was anticipated at the end times (resurrection of the dead is a belief emerging in Judaism at that time, and explains why Jews refuse cremation to this very day, believing the sacrum (the name meaning ‘holy bone’) is needed to serve as a “seed” for the body to grow around).

    Paul was an apocryphal Pharisee who persecuted Xians, who were were viewed as a threat to Judaism since their leader openly questioned the Pharisees and their oral laws, amongst other heretical and blasphemous violations of the Torah.

    I wrote about that topic here, how Jesus got caught in the crossfire of the raging battle between the Sadduccees and Pharisees:

    http://awgue.weebly.com/why-did-jesus-protest-washing-hands-before-eating.html

    The earliest Xian belief seems to be that Jesus was a mortal who was exalted, having earned the right to be taken up to Heaven (just like Enoch, Elijah, and Elisha had previously done in the OT, none of whom were conceived of as having been pre-existent angels in Heaven; again, that’s a later belief).

    That’s what ‘low Christology’ implies (where ‘high Christology’ was obviously a later development).

    Read Ehrman’s book, if you want to know the details.

    Again, agreed. Carrier’s hypothesis is that Jesus was originally understood to be an angel in heaven, the son of god, a high priestess in heaven – not god himself. Comparable to how Zeus was the father of Hercules, and Hercules was more than a man, but Hercules could still die.

    “High Priestess”? Was Jesus a cross-dresser?

    ;)

    Anyway, see above. That’s thinking that developed later in Xianity.

    The comparison to pagan “dying/rising Gods” was debunked by Smith, decades ago.

    The thing you miss was that there was no John Frum. The Cargo Cults hallucinated visions of John Frum. There never was a preacher named John Frum who said he would return in an airplane with cargo. There also wasn’t a conspiracy to invent John From and push him as a real Earthly historical person.

    You’re now arguing against the consensus opinion of sociologists, too?

    The identity of John Frum was likely a MOSAIC of individuals. The aforementioned ‘Navy’ cult was based on Navy sailors who visited the area; same phenomenon.

    And even if we conceded the point out out of pity, it’s still only CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, quite insufficient to trump ACTUAL evidence (like writings) that can be examined by other scholars.

    Carrier’s position is that Paul hallucinated visions of a celestial Jesus, and that Paul did not meet an Earthly human named Jesus.

    No Bible scholar claims Paul met Jesus while alive, as Paul even admits as much.

    Paul claimed to see Jesus on the road to Damascus after Jesus death and ascension. That’s just mainstream Xian theology, except with a secularist’s explanation of hallucination dolloped on top.

    It’s not “RC’s hypothesis”, but the consensus of all but the most-devout fundamentalist scholars.

    Adam said-

    Papias of Hierapolis

    Never heard of him before. I’m going to have to call bullshit. I’ll look into this later.

    Say what? Am I on Candid Camera? Where’s Alan Fundt?

    R u 4 realzies?

    :)

    Adam said- “Correction: YOU have no idea what’s going on here.”

    EL said- “Nice job taking that out of context asshole.”

    Isn’t “you took it out of context!” the battle cry of the cornered theist?

    I did not say that I have no clue about the whole conversation.

    From where I’m sitting, that’s a questionable premise indeed…

    ;)

    I did say that the community doesn’t know why Mark, and especially Matthew, says that Jesus had to be born in Nazareth, because that was not the original meaning of Nazarene. We know that was not the original meaning of Jesus the Nazarene. Thus the historical community has no clue why that happened. I put forward several of the current guesses.

    On the Nazirite thing:

    Why would Jesus as a Nazirite (a cult which took a vow to abstain from grape products, even raisins, amongst other things), perform as his very-first miracle turning water into WINE, and then at the Last Supper to command his disciples to drink WINE as his blood?

    That wouldn’t necessarily mean Jesus drank wine, you may be thinking?

    From:

    http://www.gotquestions.org/did-Jesus-drink-wine.html#ixzz3AxdarreA

    In Luke 7:33–44, Jesus said, “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard , a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”

    In verse 33 Jesus is making a contrast between John the Baptist’s “drinking no wine” and His own practice. Jesus goes on to say the religious leaders accused Him (falsely) of being a drunkard. Jesus was never a drunkard, any more than He was a glutton. He lived a completely sinless life (1 Peter 2:22); however Luke 7 strongly suggests that Jesus did indeed partake of alcoholic wine.

    Of course, Christ participated in drinking from the Passover cup (Mark 14:23).

    Wouldn’t the “Jesus was a Nazirite” hypothesis be like suggesting Superman wore underwear made out of Kryptonite?

    Oh, yeah: the Nazirite vow also required staying away from corpses: that pretty much rules out Jesus resurrecting the dead (Lazarus, the dead girl, etc).

    There’s indications that the Nazareth reference serves other theological purposes related to the messianic claim (ie reference to the ‘branch’ that was dead and brought back to life), so I’ll give you that.

    Thereby, I demolished your argument for the historicity of Jesus.

    Yeah, you sure did: you showed me a thing or two, and that’ll teach me to tangle with you, lol!

    (I’m concerned though, since I just noticed you didn’t put a smiley in to indicate an attempt at ironic humor?)

    ;)

  89. adamah says

    Cob said-

    Oh, Adam, ye of great alliterative regurgitation, allow this humble peasant the honor of keeping you distracted on these fine forums, lest you interact with those whom we oppose…

    I hope you don’t get a bad case of indigestion from that dictionary you ate for lunch!

    :)

    At any rate, thanks for volunteering to keep me distracted.

    (I kinda had my suspicions I was being patronized around here, as I was wondering if a few posters were just playing dumb on purpose? But your ‘keeping me away from the enemy’ explanation makes much more sense!

    PS uh, who’s ‘the enemy’, again?

    ;)

    Wow! Let me spell it out more clearly. You are asserting the historicity conclusion, based on your own assessment of the evidence, when you aren’t a historian in this field. I wasn’t questioning the evidence (pro tip: evidence is evidence, not something sentient that we can say has fallacious authority), I was questioning your assessment of it.

    Uh, so you’re back-peddling now.

    I thought you accused me of ‘appealing to authority’ when I was actually ‘appealing to evidence’ (ie those rabbinical writings).

    But sure, if you want to broaden it now to the entire Jesus myth, I’ll play along…

    So from what you just wrote above, how I can be guilty of ‘appealing to an authority’, when I freely admit I’m NOT an authority on the NT?

    Per you, I’m relying on my own layperson’s interpretation to reach a conclusion, but wait a minute: where did that pesky authority-figure go that you accused me of appealing to?

    (I swear I saw some random member of the Society of Bible Literature wandering around in here whom I was going to appeal to, but where the hell did he go?)

    See the problem?

    You’re not actually suggesting laypeople can’t reach conclusions, if they’re not experts in the field in question, are you?

    (I’d explain it to you, but I’m afraid you’d just accuse me of ‘man-splaining’. Maybe if you ask EL nicely, she’ll help you out, as I suspect she understands how ‘appeals to authority’ should work.)

  90. says

    I kinda had my suspicions I was being patronized around here

    Gee, you think?

    So from what you just wrote above, how I can be guilty of ‘appealing to an authority’, when I freely admit I’m NOT an authority on the NT?.

    You still don’t get it. Maybe I phrased it badly. Let me ask you a question. Why should I trust your assessment of the evidence? (Hint: The reason isn’t because you say so.)

    Per you, I’m relying on my own layperson’s interpretation to reach a conclusion, but wait a minute: where did that pesky authority-figure go that you accused me of appealing to?

    It’s YOU! You love to extrapolate all instances of name calling into an ad hominem, but you can’t extrapolate appeal to authority to include yourself? I’m dying!

  91. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Hopefully RC gives credit where credit is due, since that sounds alot like Dougherty’s hypothesis from a number of years ago, saying Jesus was crucified in Heaven and the gospels are allegorical (it’s kinda true, as the principles of gnostic beliefs developed later in areas outside of Jewish Palestine, like Turkey and Egypt to come up with that thinking).

    It is correct that Richard Carrier is basically extending the work of Dougherty. It was Dougherty’s book which convinced Carrier to look more into it. He praises Dougherty’s work highly while noting its flaws, and Carrier’s new work (On The Historicity of Jesus) is basically him improving upon Dougherty, making it professional, and getting it through peer review.

    But if that seems logical to you, I’m guessing your prior Xian indoctrination must be preventing you from wrapping your head around the concept that the earliest 1st century Xians were Jews in Palestine, and they didn’t think Jesus existed in Heaven as an angel before he was born.

    Instead, they thought Jesus was the Jewish messiah, a mortal, hence more akin to the high priest in Jerusalem. That’s why early Xians were struggling to make sense of Jesus dying at the hands of the Romans: that wasn’t found in any of the messianic prophecies, and in typical fashion of Xians they had to eisegetically-interpret OT prophecies to justify his death.

    And this is what we have to argue over. Carrier cites much evidence that there was a preexisting idea of a messiah who would die and give victory over death to the Jews. Then, when it failed to happen, it’s not much of a stretch that they could put this dying and rising messiah into heaven, aka outer space. (Earlier you made fun of “in outer space”, but that’s just the modern terminology for their concept of where heaven was.)

    Carrier then cites evidence to this effect.

    For example, Paul’s authentic letters never cite Jesus’s historical teachings. Paul’s authentic letters never refer to anyone else meeting an Earthly Jesus. Paul’s authentic letters never refer to any teachings of Jesus, etc., except those learned by hallucination and by reading scripture. The argument from silence is not foolproof here, but it’s significant.

    Carrier also cites Philo of Alexandria for this, along with the Ascension of Isaiah. When you take out the bits that are basically a later addition, a gospel cut-and-paste, the Ascension of Isaiah looks a lot Carrier’s hypothesis.

    You say that they understood the messiah to be a mortal and not an angel. Well, after the latest revisionist understanding of Daniel and no messiah, it’s not much of a stretch to argue that the resurrection happened up in heaven.

    What evidence do you have that the original Jewish understanding was incompatible with a messiah in heaven who could die and be resurrected?

    The comparison to pagan “dying/rising Gods” was debunked by Smith, decades ago.

    Debunked how? It looks pretty similar to me to the Isis / Osiris cult, Zalmoxis cult, Romulus cult.

    Yeah, you sure did: you showed me a thing or two, and that’ll teach me to tangle with you, lol!

    It depends. Are you going to stick by your Nazarian argument? Which is basically an argument of embarrassment? It’s a really bad argument. You shouldn’t bring it up.

  92. adamah says

    COB said-

    Why should I trust your assessment of the evidence? (Hint: The reason isn’t because you say so.)

    By George, COB, you’re getting very-warm!

    You’re on the right track, asking WHY should you trust the opinion of another layperson, esp. when you can rely on the consensus opinion of experts in that field?

    (Flip-side is, if you’re a layperson in a subject, you’d be wise to check your ego before challenging the overwhelming consensus opinion of experts in the field, or before relying on the opinions of other laypersons (esp. if they’re disagreeing with the consensus opinion of experts.)

    It’s YOU! You love to extrapolate all instances of name calling into an ad hominem, but you can’t extrapolate appeal to authority to include yourself? I’m dying!

    Calling another poster out on their alleged use of fallacies doesn’t require one to be an authority on the subject; and as you’ve conclusively proven time and time again (and even now), it doesn’t require one to possess even a basic understanding of the logical fallacies.

    In the end, one still needs to PROVE their allegation, or it stands to be refuted.

    With your failed allegation of ‘appeal to authority’, you’re just committed the ‘equivocation fallacy’ (with the word, “expert”).

    It’s like you’re unaware that in the context of this thread, the ‘experts/authorites’ are members of the field of NT scholarship; that’s a different subject than the logical fallacies, where possessing expert knowledge in that subject (say, a college professor who’s taught courses on logic and rhetoric) is not magically bestowed with expert knowledge in the other field (eg NT scholarship).

    So your allegation of ‘appeal to authority’ fails, and the fallacy you committed is equivocation.

    Do yourself a favor and learn what the ‘appeal to authority’ fallacy actually is (hint: it has nothing to do with one’s strong anti-authoritarian streak).

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