Euhemerization Means Doing What Euhemerus Did

Photograph of a marble statue depicting Euhemerus as a bearded toga wearing bare shouldered man in thoughtful pose.Just a quickie today. Several people have asked this question in one form or another:

I’ve read a number of people who claim that your use of the term “euhemerization” is incorrect. These typically give definitions along the lines of the following in Wikipedia: “Euhemerism is an approach to the interpretation of mythology in which mythological accounts are presumed to have originated from real historical events or personages.” This is consistent with what you say about Euhemerus in Element 14 [of On the Historicity of Jesus, pp. 114-24], but in Element 45 [Ibid., p. 222] you use the term in the inverted sense, [whereby] people were invented based on gods, rather than gods being invented based on people.

I do wonder where the confusion arose among people (and I’ve seen a lot of them online) thinking euhemerization means turning a real person into a god. That’s not euhemerization. That’s deification. Julius Caesar was deified. He was not euhemerized. Euhemerized gods are always historically non-existent.

Obviously the word “euhemerize” means doing what Euhemerus did. That’s what the word means. Even just in its grammar (the -ize suffix in Greek and English means “to do like,” hence “to do like Euhemerus did”). But also in how it originated and why. Euhemerus took celestial (ahistorical) gods (Zeus and Uranus) and then turned them into historical men. Not the other way around. Therefore, anyone who does that is doing what Euhemerus did. They are therefore euhemerizing a god. Just as Euhemerus “euhemerized” Zeus and Uranus.

I don’t know why anyone thinks otherwise. Or how it would even make sense to think otherwise. But maybe this is what’s confusing people…

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The Question of Free Will Is a Gateway to Philosophy & Social Justice

Cover of Sam Harris's Book Free Will, which is the course text we will be using next month, red puppet theatre box showing the letters of the title hanging from puppet stringsPreparing to teach my online course on the science & philosophy of free will in a couple days reminded me, as I looked over the reading materials and thought-provoking questions I’ve prepared: this is my favorite class. Anyone who joins in will find in it a fascinating way to introduce yourself to the whole of philosophy, as it touches on everything from semantics to metaphysics to epistemology to political and moral reasoning, even aesthetics (such as through analyzing the lived experience of feeling free or trapped), and even leads you to a better understanding of consent, and the social role and value of personal autonomy, and the substantial reality of what it means to increase your own self actualization, and what it actually takes to do that (and what it actually means to fall short of it).

I think these are really good reasons to remind people again to take my course, if exploring these things with an experienced expert interests you. If so, you can register anytime from now through the first few days of August. You’ll also need to have or get a copy (print or electronic) of Sam Harris’s Free Will. The course officially starts this Saturday.

Rare Fine Bound Editions of My Books: Special Auction!

Photograph of the three fine bound volumes in dark brown artificial leather with gold lettering and decoration, standing on Dr. Carrier's desk..Yep. You might want. These are fabulous. And presently unique. But even if duplicated, they will remain extremely rare. I’m giddy at the craftsman’s work on them. They are an aesthetic achievement that harkens back to the old days of leather-bound books in private libraries. And I’m auctioning them off to help support my continuing enterprise as an independent scholar. So I have just two simple questions. Do you want an elegant fine bound hardcover edition of my most popular books? And at the same time to help support my continuing work, research, and activism? Then get in on this rare opportunity!

Summer is always slow for paying gigs. So I need to make up a $2000 shortfall in projected revenue for this quarter if I am to hit my target to get through the year. I have several special things in the works to do that. And this is the first: I have commissioned a local master craftsman and bookbinder to convert three of my books into what you see depicted. I have taken one copy each of Sense and Goodness without God, On the Historicity of Jesus, and Hitler Homer Bible Christ, and had them hand-bound in high quality artificial leather by an expert European craftsman, with gold lettering and styling, and stitched pages. Each will be inscribed personally, by me, in pen, to the auction-winner’s specifications (reasonable requests only, of course).

Any of these lovely books will adorn a library in prestigious fashion, old school, reminiscent of the days when monographs were elegantly crafted. It’s why I made them. Aesthetically, this is what books should always look like. But alas, few publishers produce books that look like this anymore.

Same as before, only the books are scattered and at different angles to see their binding and fronts.Four things to note: [Read more…]

Speaking at DragonCon. Need a Costumer!

Dragon Con logo, a yellow dragon outline on a blue ball, with the title arced across the front, photo of crowds behind.This is a call for someone to hire! I will be a featured guest speaker for Skeptrack at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA this September (4th-7th, 2015). I’ll give a new and fancier-than-ever talk on ancient technology (“Real Steam Punk”), possibly also be on a panel of some kind, have an hour table & signing slot somewhere on the schedule, and be in the parade dressed with other Famous Skeptics.  I’ll have fuller details in early August and blog then about all that. But it’s the parade I want to get a jump on now: I need a costume!

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Christians Freaking Out Over Freedom: Polyamory Edition

Photo Dr. Carrier took of his bottle and glass of wine at the airport. Venue menu on the table reads Carlolina Vintages. Bottle label reads Restless Soul Red Table Wine, from Old North State Winery. Label depicts drawing of a rising skeleton's arm lifting up a glass of wine.So when I came out as polyamorous in February, the godless Slymepit blew a gasket. But so did Christians. Their freakout was quaint. And hardly substantive. So I just filed it as something to amuse over when I had time. Now as I sit for hours in the Raleigh-Durham airport awaiting my flight home, drinking a lovely bottle of Carolina wine from the Old North State Winery, what better fun than to survey the Christian panic over poly?

First I’ll summarize a sample of some of what happened, then delve into a long treatment of the most thoughtful (albeit still totally wrong) example…

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Study the Science & Philosophy of Free Will with Me!

Logo for Partners for Secular Activism. The letters PSA in blue, in an art decco font, over a light grey watermark of a compass pointing near to north, all on a white backround.Join an affordable one-month online course in August, where I’ll teach and discuss the philosophy of free will, including the scientific facts relating to it, the legal evidence relating to it, the medical ethics relating to it, and more. Let others know, too! Anyone you know who might be interested. This is one of the ways I support my work in history and philosophy. And it’s useful. And fun!

This is your chance to ask a published philosopher and historian of philosophy all the questions you have about the subject, and also to become more informed about it and how to discuss it with others, as well as just hone and exercise your philosophical mind in general, on an important subject in law, morality, and life. A better understanding of this subject will benefit your personal life, your political thought, your attitudes toward prison reform, your understanding of consent and personal autonomy, and a great deal else.

The course begins next month (in roughly two weeks). It requires buying only one small, affordable textbook (Sam Harris’s Free Will, print or electronic). All other materials will be provided. The approach to Harris will be critical, but constructive, and backed with further materials showing the actual application of free will as a concept in the real world, not just in the ivory tower.

Among things covered will be:

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Black Lives Matter = Humanism at Work

Foundation Beyond Belief logo, a green tree or leaf like image that is actually the continents of prehistoric time, against a white background, tag line, Humanity at work.Brayton and Gaudette produced a really excellent video smartly summarizing the statistical facts about racism in America and why humanists should care about this and make even more effort to do something about it. Check it out on YouTube.

And if you like that, consider registering and attending the Humanism at Work conference later this month in Boston. It’s the annual conference of the Foundation Beyond Belief, the largest atheist charity I know. Check out their website for more.

-:-

Appearing in Cary, North Carolina

Banner for the Triangle Freethought Society, showing a thinking human head in profile with an atom symbol in the brain area against a triangle background, as if the head is protruding from the triangle like a ship's hatch, all on a soft bluish grey background.I will be a special guest for the Triangle Freethought Society in Cary, NC this Friday night, July 17th, at RallyPoint Sport Grill, 6pm until late. I won’t be giving a formal presentation. I’ll just be hanging out and circulating and open to chatting with anyone about anything. And I’ll have some books to sell and sign (probably On the Historicity of Jesus).

You must be a member of TFS to attend. But guess what? You can join TFS at the door! Their annual dues are super low, and even lower for students and seniors. Their website is being rebuilt, but they have a Facebook page and most usefully a Meetup page. And there is a bit more about them at the Carolinas Secular Association. They have engagements from time to time in Raleigh and beyond, serving the whole Research Triangle area.

Don’t Be Explicit in Other People’s Spaces: An Apology

This is an apology for a mistake I made. In a comment thread on Ophelia Benson’s blog about the effects of porn on unwanted violence in the bedroom, I gave as examples for my own points relating to that cases from my own personal sexual experience, which despite one content warning nevertheless got too detailed and explicit for Benson and many of her readers.

I became too defensive when attacked over that and I handled the whole matter poorly. I was too blinded by defensiveness in fact to adequately see things from other people’s perspective. Although some people appreciated what I wrote, and I value their perspective too, others who’s opinions I also respect did not, and that caused me to reexamine everything and (I hope) recognize where I went wrong and what to do about it.

I don’t want to distance myself from the people who thanked me, who included people who feel isolated from what men actually think or can think about sex and were glad to have access to it for a change, and people who deal with being attacked and demeaned and shamed for their fetishes and kinks and were thus understandably defensive about people seeming to attack and demean and shame me for the same.

But there are better ways to serve those needed ends. And I understand that now. I am always very frank and open about my sexlife. And I am often surrounded by people who are the same, and who appreciate that. So I too easily forget the world does not live in that bubble. And I didn’t realize the significance of that before now.

Explicit content is not universally wrong. It can even still serve the purposes I originally stated there and intended. And I may blog separately about that, in a better way. But content warnings are necessary for that even in your own space. And they aren’t sufficient in another’s space. You need to know it’s permitted there first, that it will be acceptable. And I now realize it’s your responsibility to check that beforehand. Because what results if you don’t can affect people badly in ways you don’t intend and wouldn’t want.

To all of those people who were harmed by my actions, I apologize. I did not want to cause harm, and regret having done so. This is another mistake in my life I shall endeavor to improve myself on and not make again. And I thank those whose remarks helped me to see that.

There are better ways to advocate for wider acceptance of sexuality and sexual diversity, and better ways to discuss the impact of porn on our lives too.

Speaking at American Atheists in Puerto Rico!

Photo of the hotel the convention is at, the Sheraton hotel and casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with the statement Aug 21, American Atheist Regional Convention 2015 at Puerto Rico.American Atheists is putting on an excellent conference in Puerto Rico this August (21st-23rd, 2015). And I’m one of the honored speakers. Atheists in Puerto Rico wanted me to speak on my work on the historicity of Jesus, and so I will. I’ll also be attending the whole convention and happy to converse with anyone there, so feel free to say hi! (Although, alas, I don’t speak Spanish, I’m pretty sure plenty of folks will speak English well enough to chat or translate.)

I will also be staying in PR after the conference for about a week to do more events locally (whether casual or formal), but for news on that, keep your eye on the Facebook wall that week of Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico.

American Atheists may or may not be selling some of my books that weekend. I haven’t gotten confirmation on that, but I’m sure they are making an effort. But no matter what I’ll happily sign anything you buy or bring.

And it’s not just me there. There’s an awesome lineup!

Read on…

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