The American Refugee Crisis: It’s Time for the Godless to Speak Up

Tens of thousands of refugee children are massing across the U.S. border. And we’re responding like the biggest assholes on the planet. It’s time to do something about it. At a minimum that means spreading the word, and speaking out. Getting more people to know that this is even happening (because the U.S. media is useless) is the first step toward effecting change. Writing your senators and congressmen (state and federal) is the second step. Tell them human decency and compassion and any sense of justice requires more, and that you approve adequate funding for a humane response to the refugee crisis, and are willing as a taxpayer to forfeit a couple bucks a year for it if need be.

If you want to cut to the chase, and just get started helping spread this message, read Hutchinson’s summary and petition. And sign that. And write all your legislators. But if you need some catching up first…

Here is a quick primer on what’s going on: [Read more...]

OHJ: The Hallquist Review

Cover of Richard Carrier's book On the Historicity of Jesus. Medieval icon image of Jesus holding a codex, on a plain brown background, title above in white text, author below in white text.This week I am doing a series on early reviews of my book On the Historicity of Jesus. If you know of reviews I don’t cover by the end of the first week of July, post them in comments (though please also remark on your own estimation of their merits).

-:-

One of those early reviews posted is by Chris Hallquist (at The Uncredible Hallq for Patheos), a notable atheist author who has a master’s in philosophy from Notre Dame. His review is billed as only “initial thoughts” and therefore might be revised or expanded in future posts. If so, I’ll blog those and add links at the bottom here (please let me know if he blogs again on the subject so I can do that). For now, here is my commentary on what he has posted so far.

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OHJ: The Covington Review (Part 1)

Cover of Richard Carrier's book On the Historicity of Jesus. Medieval icon image of Jesus holding a codex, on a plain brown background, title above in white text, author below in white text.This week I am doing a series on early reviews of my book On the Historicity of Jesus. If you know of reviews I don’t cover by the end of the first week of July, post them in comments (though please also remark on your own estimation of their merits).

-:-

One of those early reviews posted is by Nicholas Covington (at Hume’s Apprentice of SkepticInk), author and blogger, with a strong interest in counter-apologetics, naturalist philosophy, and historical argument. He is blogging his review as a series, and so far only parts 1 and 2 are available. I will post more as he does. But here is my commentary on part 1, on a question of method. My commentary on part 2 will go live July 7.

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OHJ: The Rosson Review

Cover of Richard Carrier's book On the Historicity of Jesus. Medieval icon image of Jesus holding a codex, on a plain brown background, title above in white text, author below in white text.This week I am doing a series on early reviews of my book On the Historicity of Jesus. If you know of reviews I don’t cover by the end of the first week of July, post them in comments (though please also remark on your own estimation of their merits).

-:-

One of those early reviews posted is by Loren Rosson III (at The Busybody), a notable librarian who is well-informed and well-involved in the biblical studies community. Interestingly, he compares my book to another that I have on my shelf (literally right behind me as I type) but have not yet read, arguing that Mohammed was also mythical: Robert Spencer’s Did Muhammad Exist? (which I’ve been told by all accounts is the best book on the subject; but don’t ask me my opinion on that topic, I have not examined it).

Rosson’s review is thoughtful and well stated. He is fair and accurate even when critical. That’s a good sign that one is not engaging in motivated reasoning nor has emotional or ideological blinders on. His review is also overall positive, and only focuses on his disagreements because they are more interesting to him (as one should expect).

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OHJ: The Lataster Review

Cover of Richard Carrier's book On the Historicity of Jesus. Medieval icon image of Jesus holding a codex, on a plain brown background, title above in white text, author below in white text.A variety of early online reviews have appeared of my new book On the Historicity of Jesus (including Amazon reviews, to which my responses, if any, will appear there in appended comments). I will blog a series on them this week. If you know of any reviews I don’t cover by the end of the first week of July, post them in comments (though please also remark on your own estimation of their merits).

-:-

One of the early reviews posted will be published in the Journal of Religious History later this year, by Raphael Lataster, a doctoral student in religious studies and a historicity agnostic. His review is accurate and positive. But he states one criticism:
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On the Historicity of Jesus Now Officially Available in Print

Cover of Richard Carrier's book On the Historicity of Jesus. Medieval icon image of Jesus holding a codex, on a plain brown background, title above in white text, author below in white text.Many already know, but for those who still haven’t heard, it’s no longer on pre-order: you can now buy On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, either direct from the publisher or (often at a discount) through Amazon (and other booksellers, so if you want to support your local bookstore, you can place an order with them). I get an additional commission if you buy through my Amazon store (which has many other recommended titles as well).

I’ll announce ebook and audio editions as they come, but expect that to be many months from now. I am negotiating deals for both. But with that and production, I hope to have the ebook edition out by the end of this year, and the audiobook by then or early next year. Eventually I will list all options here.

I will also compile responses to critics here as time goes on. And I will be teaching online classes each year using this book as a course text. The first of those will be this August (so if you want to take that, order the book now so you will get it in time), with a preparatory course on historical methods preceding that (so, this July, and that begins next week as of this posting).

Grief Beyond Belief Now Online

Grief Beyond Belief, a support group for nonbelievers dealing with the loss of a loved one, has now launched its official website. They are no longer just a FaceBook group! Check them out. Look over what they do, and see if there is any help they need. And spread the news. There are a lot of us who would want to find a site like that, and the resources it provides, but might not know it’s there.

Time to Submit Your Proposals for #FtBConScience This August

Are you a hard core godless activist, or working for or a major supporter of an atheist, secularist, skeptic, feminist, humanist or similar group, program, or organization? Or just a bona fide expert on something and want to share information with the godless community? Then this is an opportunity to promote your group or cause as shamelessly as you want. FTBCon has been very successful multiple times now with its free online conferences for the godless community. They draw an audience from around the world and are a great opportunity for atheists worldwide who can’t afford or aren’t able to attend in-person conferences.

We are looking for proposals for talks or panels. So, if you have a speaker (or speakers) you can arrange to give a presentation, live, to the public worldwide, online (from the comfort of their own home, or wherever), don’t miss out. And we’re interested in all sorts of topics, ranging from the arts to social justice to traditional stuff like philosophy, religion, activism, and more (you can look at past conference schedules to see what I mean).

This time we’ll be running FtBConscience on August 22-24 (2014).

We’ve put up a procedure for submitting proposals. And we would like you or your organization to have the opportunity to get in on the action.

If you come up with an idea for a panel of speakers or solo speaker that you can arrange and make happen, please submit your idea in the manner explained through the link below. You can use a panel or talk to promote your organization or cause as much as you like (we have no problem with your being shameless about it). We will handle most of the tech side of getting it on air (we use Google Hangout, so on your end, just good internet, decent computer, headphones, mike, and webcam are all you need, or rather all your speakers need; all events are broadcast live, and recorded for future viewing as well). We will also work with you for getting it on the schedule and advertised and described on our websites.

We might not be able to accept all proposals. And proposals must meet certain quality and values guidelines to be considered. Deciding what we’ll host is at our discretion. But if you’re serious, share our values, and have a good idea, it can’t hurt to ask.

If you are interested, or want to know more, read the following linked post, courtesy of Miri Mogilevsky…

Submit Proposals Before July 22

Appearing in San Francisco, Seattle, Alabama, Fargo, Austin, Sacramento, and All Over Western Canada

I have a lot of appearances coming up all over the country. Check it out…

(1) I will be discussing my new book On the Historicity of Jesus and selling and signing copies for my first time ever in San Francisco, California, Saturday the 26th of July (the publisher has confirmed my order of private stock and promises it should arrive in time). I don’t have the exact where and when yet, but good odds it will be the same time and place as my last talk (only this time on July 26, of course).

Note that I can only afford to procure and sell the softcover edition. The hardcover is prohibitively expensive for almost anyone (even me, and I get an author discount). But of course any copies you acquire yourself and bring to the event I’ll sign (indeed, I’ll sign anything you bring, even if not this book). And there should be enough time that if you order now you’ll have it then (see links for buying it through the publisher or Amazon, and the pros and cons of either, here). I mention this because several people have asked me about doing that.

(2) I will be speaking on or possibly debating the historicity of Jesus at this year’s Atheist Alliance of America conference in Seattle, Washington. They haven’t finalized the schedule so I don’t know which day of the conference I’ll be on, but I’ll be attending the entire con, which will be this August 7th-10th (2014). There will be many other great speakers as well, and receptions and banquets and a trip to Mt. Rainier (the schedule’s outline so far is here). Also stuff for kids (so parents might find this conference especially suitable). See the con’s front page online (link above). I hope to help the conference’s book vendor to stock copies of On the Historicity of Jesus (although see italicized note indented above).

(3) Exact details haven’t yet been finalized, but I am expected to make an appearance in Alabama on Friday the 12th of September. I’ll blog more about that when I know.

(4) I will be speaking at Zeteticon in Fargo, North Dakota, the weekend of September 13th-14th. I spoke at their first con a few years ago (before they got a catchier name). I’m eager to see how it’s grown. Other great speakers will be featured. I will be discussing, and selling and signing copies of On the Historicity of Jesus (see italicized note indented above).

(5) I’ll be debating the historicity of Jesus in Abbotsford, BC (Canada), on or about the 20th of September. I hope to be selling and signing copies of On the Historicity of Jesus in conjunction with the event (that will depend on working out trade details with Canada and the venue; see also italicized note indented above).

(6) I’ll be one of the two featured speakers for this year’s Bat Cruise in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, September 27 (they have more details here). I’ll be sharing the podium, and the cruise meet-and-greet, with Chris Johnson, who produced the fantastically gorgeous book A Better Life. This is an annual do put on by the Atheist Community of Austin. I will be discussing, and (if the venue allows) selling and signing copies of On the Historicity of Jesus (see italicized note indented above).

(7) As usual, I will be tabling at the Freethought Day Festival in Sacramento, California, this year on Saturday the 11th of October. I will also be attending the fundraising reception the night before (Friday the 10th). The whole festival is increasingly awesome and a must to visit. Full details here. Lots of speakers, entertainers, tabling by numerous groups and vendors, food, the whole deal.

NOTE: I shall be selling and signing copies of On the Historicity of Jesus (see italicized note indented above), but I also plan to liquidate my inventory of marred stock. Take note. That means I’ll be selling tons of copies of Sense and Goodness without God, Not the Impossible Faith, Why I Am Not a Christian, and (yes!) Proving History (and more) at scandalously dirt cheap prices. The downside is they are all (mildly) cosmetically defective in some way. The upside is that I’m selling them all for just $2 (Why I Am Not a Christian), $5 (all other softback titles) and $10 (Proving History). The copies I’ll be selling of Proving History only have damaged dust covers. The books themselves (it’s a hardback) are in top condition. Consider buying several copies of various titles to give to churches, libraries, charities, friends, enemies, or just to enjoy reading them yourself at very little cost. Help me clear it all out without a total loss!

But do note that I will not be selling On the Historicity of Jesus at discount. It’s brand new and expensive for me to stock. So it will be sold at a regular in-person rate (probably $30, which will be lower than the publisher’s list price, and for now it looks like even lower than Amazon’s).

(8) Then I will be touring Western Canada between October 14th and 20th. Exact details are still in development (I’ll blog more when I know more). But the plan is to have me speak in Regina and Saskatoon (Saskatchewan), then Kelowna (BC) and Calgary (Alberta), for four events in all, in that order. Most likely I’ll be discussing my new book On the Historicity of Jesus, which I shall try to sell as well (that will depend, again, on working out trade details with Canada and the venues; see also italicized note indented above).

(9) And of course I hope to be returning for Skepticon this November (21st to 23rd). Details are still in development. I’ll definitely blog about it when I know more. But for those unaware, that’s held in Missouri, traditionally Springfield. [I'm not on the roster for Skepticon this year. Other events in November or December may develop!]

If any more dates open up, I’ll add them here (plus remark on the addition in comments).

Why I Love Dadabhoy and Rad

I tool around the atheosphere at least a bit each week and see and read lots of cool stuff. This week two unrelated things struck me. This is where I gush about two of my favorite artists and thinkers, who achieve awesome without a Ph.D.

First the Rad

I have always been very impressed by Cristina Rad’s vlog. It’s pretty much the only one I watch (so I was very sad when she went on hiatus). This was not because all the others suck, of course, but because I have so little time to spare for that luxury, and I always know hers will be a virtuoso performance that I’ll learn something from. Rad’s work is always smart, informed, thoughtful, meticulous, and funny. And for her, constructing a video is art. And as an artist, she has an admirable talent that sometimes just leaves me in awe (I suspect most people just take her editing and design and informal scripting for granted, and don’t notice how clever it is, and how hard it would be for most to do well, and how above the curve for the medium it is, without fancy tech).

Photograph of Cristina Rad speaking at a conference, in front of a transparent podium, with a high end microphone attached, all against a black background, with long curly reddish hair pushed back and stylish jacket; she gestures to make a point.One thing I also love most in life is when someone makes an argument better than me. So all I have to do is point people there, confident it covers all bases, and I have no more work to do. They have all their ducks in a row, they hit every point, they anticipate every objection, they actually researched the matter, and they nail every fact and step of reasoning, leaving nothing more to be said. And they do it so tightly and engagingly you want to follow it all. And you are kind of in awe at how well the point is made. Matthew Ferguson’s take-down of the 10-42 apologetic is an example: something I wanted to argue but never found the time, yet not only did he do all the work of researching and composing it, he also did it better than I would have. It was a great day.

Cristina Rad also does that for me a lot of the time. And she did it again this week.

You may be tired of the whole Elliot Rodger debate, having read a zillion things on it already. That was one reason I never weighed in on it: others here at FtB and Skepchick and beyond already said everything there was to say, and I didn’t feel like there was anything more I could contribute of any quality. But I still had some thoughts on the matter. When Jaclyn Glenn went on her rant over it, and then notpologied for it, I immediately had arguments in my head against what she was doing, but I failed to think of any useful or productive way to articulate them.

Well, guess what. Cristina Rad just produced a response to Glenn that is everything I was thinking and more. She argues the case I had in mind, but way better than I would have. And it’s a paradigmatic example of Rad’s genius, as a communicator, editor, researcher, thinker. And artist (though this video has a more straightforward style). You definitely won’t be bored with this one, no matter how much Elliot Rodger stuff you’ve mulled through by now. Definitely watch her video. It’s packed with good information and analysis and insight. Not a second wasted. And it’s a pleasure to view and listen to: ELLIOT RODGER: MADMAN vs. MISOGYNIST (a response to JaclynGlenn). And hey, she’s a starving artist, too, so also upvote it if you deem it worthy. I believe you will.

Thank you, Cristina Rad. You are awesome. Don’t ever stop doing what you do best!

Then the Dadabhoy

So, while still being impressed by that, I noodled around the atheosphere some more, and almost right away happened on the latest by one of my favorite bloggers, Heina Dadabhoy. I also have so little time to spare for reading blogs that I have to be incredibly selective there as well. Dadabhoy’s blogging is always so well written, concise, witty and smart, and always teaches me things, something I didn’t know or hadn’t thought about, often both, that it always bears reading. I was struck by how paradigmatic an example of all that her most recent entry was, just like Cristina Rad’s latest vlog was for her. And that in a one-two punch in one sitting, by pure chance. So I’m praising her here, too. I’m sure you can cope.

Photograph of Heina Dadabhoy in a cute black peasant dress, looking thoughtful and happy in a power pose, with her short, lovely, curly dark hair and light brown skin (her family hails from India).I’m talking about Fellow Atheists: Quit Bragging About Our Prison Underrepresentation. I thought maybe it would be a quick but deserved winge about the fallacious trope of claiming atheists must be more moral than Christians because so few prisoners are atheists, maybe by calling up the usual problem with that: that declarations of faith are often highly motivated, and thus hardly indicative of honest belief, in a prison environment dominated by patriarchal Christian authorities. You pretty much need to be a Christian (or of some “God-fearing” faith) to get parole, or good treatment. And you are a captive audience to Christian evangelization (which gets favoritism from the authorities far over any hypothetical humanist evangelization there could have been but obviously totally isn’t). And you are in a population under extreme stress, poverty, and despair, whose everyday welfare is frighteningly unpredictable–a toxic mix of conditions so suited for causing religious belief that a sociologist could hardly design better conditions for it, short of a theocracy. So how on earth can we draw any conclusions about the population outside prison from underrepresentation of atheism in prison? That’s case enough, I thought.

Well, Dadabhoy surprised me. She didn’t go there (though she could have). She came at it from a completely different perspective, one also obviously correct, which adds a great deal more understanding to the problem, yet that I had not really thought much about before. And she expresses it in an amazingly brief, thought-and-information packed way. And even has time for a few related, context-clarifying digressions. Wow.

Thank you, Heina Dadabhoy. You are awesome. Don’t ever stop doing what you do best!