Catching Up 2: Ophelia Benson & Advocating Trans Person Rights

I’ve been too busy to blog about all the things I wanted to this month. From the Black Lives Matter protest to the Ophelia Benson departure to a weird John Loftus flameout currently going on. So here I’m quickly trying to catch up. Second on deck: the Benson departure…

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Please Donate to the Southwest Secular Student Conference!

Snapshot of the front website page for the conference, showing Heina Dadabhoy, who will be speaking at the event, along with many others.This September the SSA is putting on a conference for students across the U.S. at the Claremont Colleges. They need financial support to pull it off. They will announce a full lineup of speakers and workshops soon, but they already have Heina Dadabhoy, Greta Christina, and Sikivu Hutchinson on deck, and more to come. I’ve been to several. These conferences are generally pretty awesome. So please donate today!

I’ve explained before why the SSA deserves your financial support in general (so if you don’t know, definitely see what I’ve already said about that). Conferences like this are needed to grow the size and number, and improve the effectiveness, of campus groups throughout the Western states (the SSA helps fly student leaders in from campuses all over the West to get trained and motivated at these conferences), to spread reason, secularism, and liberation from religion. And to college students, the future of our country. This is especially needed to combat Campus Crusade for Christ and similar organizations pushing religion onto students.

My readers might like to know in particular that Claremont Colleges is where the innovative New Testament critic Dennis MacDonald holds a professorship, and where Dr. Phil Zuckerman has launched the first college major in Secular Studies in America (and he might be a featured speaker as well). So this is a great rallying point for an SSA conference. Indeed, if you can attend, you might want to! Especially if you want to get more involved in community activism, as a lot of what these conferences cover is how to kick ass at that.

But above all, help spread godless freethought across the colleges of the Southwest by helping support this conference financially. Anything you donate will be useful.

Looking for Place to Stay in Georgia and Pennsylvania

Photo of hotel capsules outdoors, single concrete pipe segments, the circular cap on either end a hinged door, simple bed and lamp inside. From Austria. Google wacky concrete pipe hotel to learn more.Anyone who wants to host me, with bed or couch, for a night or two this September, please let me know! Here’s the skinny…


I’ll be speaking at DragonCon in Atlanta this year (I’ll be there from the 3rd of September through the 7th), and then at PAstahCon in Harrisburg the following weekend. No efficient reason to fly home in between and then all the way back out. So to help them save money for their conference, I had the PA coordinators just fly me from Atlanta to Harrisburg the following Friday (the 11th of September). But that leaves me homeless in Georgia from the night of the 8th (Tuesday) to the night of the 10th (Thursday).

So I’m looking to piece together places to crash those three nights. It doesn’t have to be in Atlanta, if you are willing to come get me (and bring me back). I’m fine even with long drives. If you want to host me, and can anytime in that window, please email me (or message me on FaceBook). And yes, if you want to throw dinner parties with me as your guest, or anything akin, you can do that. As long as it’s informal.


To make my life easier I’m also staying an extra night after PAstahCon, which is in Harrisburg (September 11th through 13th). I have no place yet to crash on the 13th (Sunday night). I fly home later the next day.

So I’m looking for any place to crash that one night. It doesn’t have to be in Harrisburg, if you are willing to come get me (and bring me back). Again, I’m fine even with long drives. If you want to host me, and can that night, please email me (or message me on FaceBook). And yes, if you want to throw a dinner party with me as your guest, or anything akin, you can do that, too.

Please get in touch!

You will be helping me and the PAstahCon coordinators a bunch.

Tim Hendrix on Proving History

Tim Hendrix wrote a critical analysis of my book Proving History two years ago, and recently made it available online. Coincidentally I also just discovered a review of the book in College & Research Libraries Reviews, which had been published in June of 2012 (pp. 368-69). That was only one long paragraph, but I was surprised it understood the book and took a positive angle on it, concluding:

The use of a mathematical theorem to establish reliable historical criteria can sound both threatening and misguided. However, Carrier describes and defends the theorem in layman’s terms, demonstrates that historians actually think in terms of probabilities while rarely quantifying them, shows how all other axioms and rules in historical methodology are compatible with the theorem, and then gives it a practical workout on recent studies on the historicity of Jesus … [in which] Carrier shows how the criteria for judging whether or not Jesus was a historical figure (coherence, embarrassment, multiple attestation, contextual plausibility, etc.) are replaceable by Bayes’s Theorem, which “if used correctly and honestly . . . won’t let you prove whatever you want, but only what the facts warrant.”

Hendrix (who has a Ph.D. relating to Bayesian studies) gives it a much closer look on its technical aspects in applying Bayes’ Theorem. There are some issues of grammar that suggest English might not be Hendrix’s first language (he also uses British spelling conventions), but his writing is good enough to work around that (most of the time).

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D.M. Murdock Battling Cancer & Needs Support

Photograph of D.M. Murdock.Fellow Jesus myth advocate D.M Murdock, widely known as Acharya S, is dealing with a particularly vicious onslaught of cancer. Given the fact that the U.S. is just about the only first world nation left that doesn’t cover its citizens’ non-elective medical bills, the best we can do is try to help each other pay for our very survival. Murdock and I don’t agree on a lot of things (and not just on the methodology or mythicism issues). But I’m pretty sure we do agree on this. And I believe she deserves a leg up. If you want to help her survive, both literally and financially, send a little her way. Her fundraiser is ongoing here.

Dinner for Patronage? At Skepticon This November!

Photo of Richard Carrier in white shirt, red and grey striped tie, and silver vest, speaking at the podium of Wonderfest.Want to secure a dinner conversation with me? Here’s how. Not only will I be at Skepticon this November 13th-15th (not to speak but just for fun!), but I’m helping Bo Bennett & Kile Jones launch their Secular Backstage service by offering up an opportunity to join me for dinner when I’m there! We are auctioning the opportunity, minimum bid $100. Closes in six days (or until we have a bidder), so spread the word, and let everyone know whom you think might be interested. Or put in a bid yourself! The money goes to support my ongoing independent scholarship and activism. So this is a worthwhile way to offer me your patronage, as well as bend my ear or pick my brain for at least an hour.

The occasion will be Friday the 13th (Day of Evil!) at or around 7pm. In Springfield, Missouri. And Skepticon is free, so this is all the more reason to go. Their website has all the info you need to plan.

Things we can talk about include… [Read more…]

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.