Appearing in Wichita!

I’ll be one of the featured speakers for the Skeptics of OZ Conference on Saturday October 17 (2015), in the CAC Theater at Wichita State University (Wichita, Kansas). Details here. Lanyrd here.

I’ll be discussing my book Proving History, but in particular answering the general question of “How science and history can prove or disprove miracles, and how we could (in theory or in practice) establish supernatural things exist or happen,” if there really were such things. So I’ll be talking about my work in defining the supernatural as well as the logic and method of history and the foundations of historical knowledge.

Others speaking will include communications expert Jeffrey Jarman, ex-scientologist Chris Shelton, and Vyckie D. Garrison of No Longer Quivering.

And Now I Preach about Polyamory

Screencap from Ask a Polyamorous Person YouTube video by Buzzfeed tackling the question, shown in the screencap, Is It Always an Orgy?Heina Dadabhoy has written a good article about the Preachy Polyamorist trope: Why Are Those Polyamorists So Damn Preachy?, which is enhanced by some of their earlier observations in When the Monogamous Bait Poly Smugness. I recommend reading both. I pretty much agree. And their latest has inspired me to write my own thoughts down, which expand on theirs, but also at points diverge from theirs.

Before I proceed, though, a trigger warning: I’m going to get all preachy about polyamory. In fact, I’m going to be a counter-example to Dadabhoy’s otherwise valid generalization, and become one of those “rather smug-seeming polyamorous people” who might leave you “feeling judged.” If you want to stop your ears against that, depart now. You were warned.

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Sacramento Freethought Day: I’ll Be There! So Should You!

Banner for the 14th Annual Freethought Day celebration. Shows crowd of people having fun in background. Foreground has the basic info found in the post.This year the day’s fun spans Sunday October 11 (2015), 10:30am-6:30pm, at the Capitol, in Sacramento (California). Details here. (Including schedule, appearing guests, amenities, tabling opportunities, and more.) Special guests include Mandisa Thomas, Jason Torpy, Chris Johnson, Sunday Assembly, and more. Lyz Lidell (of the Secular Student Alliance) and Amanda Metskas (of Camp Quest) will be talking about the amazing things their orgs are doing. Greta Christina will be tabling. As will Brendan Powell Smith, creator of the brilliant Brick Bible. Atheist poets will be charming the crowds. And again more.

The always fun VIP reception will be the night before, 7-10pm (Saturday, October 10), so donate big to get in on that, too. It’s not just fun. VIP funding helps make the event possible.

I’ll be at both. Sunday I’ll make an appearance on the author’s panel, but I’ll also be tabling all day, selling and signing books and just chatting and answering questions. Come on down and check it all out! Have a good time! And help us celebrate and support the public image of freethought in the state capital!

My Online Course on the Bible Starts Next Week. Join in. Learn Cool Stuff!

How screwed up are the manuscripts of the New Testament? What aren’t Christian preachers and apologists telling the public? How can you know when they are trying to pull the wool over your eyes about what’s in the Bible…or if they even know they are reporting the facts correctly?

How can you tell which Bible translation is the most honest for any given passage?

How have books been transmitted to us from the ancient world two thousand years ago? Is their text reliable enough to trust? Why? Or why not?

Do the Gospels really disagree on when Jesus was born? Do modern Bibles really contain known forgeries? Has the Gospel of Mark been doctored after the fact?

Answers to those questions, and more, will be covered in this course.

But what questions do you have about the New Testament? Like about its formation and transmission, its survival and accuracy, how it’s translated, what Christians claim about what it says. Or any question in the subject of New Testament studies, or the study of Greco-Roman texts generally.

This is your chance to ask an expert and get as full a response as you want, with as much follow up as you want, within the month of February. So join this class and take advantage of it!

Only one course text is required (and you can get it on kindle): my anthology Hitler Homer Bible Christ.

See you there!

Appearing in Toronto!

I’ll be speaking on the historicity of Jesus in Toronto next month, on Friday, October 23 (2015), at 7:30pm, at the University of Toronto (252 Bloor Sreet West) in the OISE Auditorium (Ground Floor). Sponsored by CFI Canada. Details here. Tickets here. Non-members: $15. I may be around a few days before that for other things. Stay tuned!

Learn the Basics of New Testament Scholarship & How to Make Good Use of It

By popular demand! I am teaching again my online course, Introduction to Biblical Scholarship on the New Testament. This is for anyone who wants to be better equipped to debate the Bible or understand the Bible. You will learn in it a lot of useful and surprising facts and skills (more on that below).

So if this is something that interests you, click above to register. And if you know anyone who you think would love to take a brief, affordable course like this, let them know about it!

The only required course text (which students should purchase as soon as possible) is my  anthology Hitler Homer Bible Christ (available there in print or kindle). We will use its contents as springboards for learning and discussing all manner of issues related to textual, historical, and literary analysis in New Testament studies. All other course materials (articles and/or video lectures) will be provided for free, including research papers by various scholars we’ll discuss, and excerpts from critical scholarly editions of the Bible in the original Greek (no prior knowledge of Greek will be required), public online tools, and other readings and resources.

Starting October 1 (2015).

So what exactly will be covered?

Official Course Description:

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In Which James McGrath Reveals That He Is a Fundamentalist Who Has Never Read Any Contemporary Scholarship in His Field

The title of this article is a joke. Sort of. But maybe not as much as you think. As I’ll show. Because James McGrath has added another entry to his bizarrely uninformed critique of On the Historicity of Jesus, and this time is the most dishonest of the bunch. For to get the result he wants, he has to essentially become a Christian fundamentalist, denying there is any mythmaking in the Gospels at all, and reject all non-fundamentalist scholarship of the last fifteen years.

I kid you not.

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Looking for a Literary Agent

Cover image for Audible edition of On the Historicity of Jesus written and narrated by Richard Carrier.Anyone with connections, please do inquire:

I want to produce a mass market book summarizing the conclusions and findings of On the Historicity of Jesus, with a major publisher, one that works often with expanding into foreign language markets. I have been asked by fans throughout Spanish speaking countries especially. But it’s impossible to get a Spanish language publisher on board with something as enormous and footnotey as OHJ. A shorter, popular market book, however, would definitely appeal (I already have translators lined up). And if it meets with success in the English language market, then we can indeed push for a Spanish edition, and maybe others.

But major publishers will only field queries submitted by literary agents.

So if this is to happen, I need a literary agent.

Know any? Who’d be interested? Send them my way.

In case it needs to be said, I do quite well by myself, in my niche market. I have a decent bio and cv. I have published with a mainstream publishing company (one title of my own with Prometheus books, plus several anthologies; they distribute through Random House), another with a major academic publisher (the University of Sheffield), and have also successfully sold over twenty thousand books entirely on my own (through AuthorHouse, Lulu, and CreateSpace). I have sold all my titles (six so far) successfully as well in Kindle format, and Audio format (through Pitchstone). I’m an accomplished and capable writer. I can produce a good, entertaining popular market abridgement of OHJ without difficulty. I just need a reason to.

OHJ itself, BTW, has already sold over 4000 copies in just a single year. And that’s a 700 page academic monstrosity dense with footnotes. Imagine the potential of a shorter, tighter, mass market edition!

If I can’t find an agent, this idea will simply remain shelved until I do, since I can’t justify the expense in time working on it without that step at least in the works. This is due to how the publishing industry works, sadly. I have other projects I’ll devote my time to instead. But this dream of mine I’ll keep alive until someone comes along who wants to take a chance on it.

Initial business inquiries should be made by email. This includes emailing me the contact info of literary agents whom you think might be interested in this, and thus to whom I could send a query letter. But it can’t just be random agents you picked out of a guide. There has to be noticeable reason they would take on an unusual project like this.

My DragonCon Schedule (Including a Talk on Ancient Technology!)

Dragon Con logo, a yellow dragon outline on a blue ball, with the title arced across the front, photo of crowds behind.I’ll be on some panels. I’ll be in the parade. I’ll be selling and signing my books (briefly). But above all, I’ll be speaking on the topic of ancient Roman technology, and why the scientific and industrial revolutions did not occur then. The full DragonCon schedule is now available here. There’s an amazingly huge amount of cool stuff. Competing with which is my sad little self at four points this weekend:

Friday September 4

Skeptrack Kick-off 2015 : “A panel of some of our skeptic guests discussing who skeptics are & some of their passions” will include James Randi, Margaret Downey, Nick Eftimiades, Ian Harris, Steve Hill, Leighann Lord, and me. Friday at 10am (204–207 Hilton).

More About…Richard Carrier : A professional life dedicated to researching the history of religion & antiquity. Friday at 11:30am (204–207 Hilton). So, right after the first panel, it’s more about me, and a chance to buy my books and get them signed or inscribed or what have you. I’ll have some supply of On the Historicity of Jesus and Hitler Homer Bible Christ.

Saturday September 5

The DragonCon Parade : From 10am until 11 or 11:30 or something is the big parade through town. There will be many far more fabulously costumed folks than me. But I will be representing the Syrian skeptic and wit Lucian of Samosata, alongside people representing many other famous skeptics throughout history. We will be in the tenth slot this year, so pretty close to the front. After that, we’ll be talking about who we represented on a podcast.

Real Steampunk: How Ancient Roman Tech [Can Inspire] Writers & Designers : Then at 2:30pm (204–207 Hilton), “The Greco-Roman world had computers, vending machines, steam-powered automation…But why no industrial revolution?” I’ll discuss their achievements, how scholarship has radically changed our understanding of ancient tech in the last twenty or so years, and what I think is the most likely explanations for why the scientific and industrial revolutions didn’t take place then, even though they had everything in place, and were very close to it. I have a new slideshow built just for the purpose!

(Somewhere during the weekend I might also be in one of the autograph tracks for an hour. Check the schedule Friday to find out.)

Lots more is going on not just throughout DragonCon, but even just in the Skeptics Fan Track (Skeptrack). For just that line-up alone, see here.

Anyone who wants to buy a book from me but misses the Friday morning window, just email me or message me on Facebook (my settings are public, so anyone can) before 5pm on any day of the con. I’ll check all messages by 6pm, and get back to coordinate with anyone who asks (if you leave your cell number for texting, I’ll use that).


P.S. And for those who are in or near Pennsylvania, don’t forget, I’ll also be at PASTAHCon in Harrisburg the following weekend! That’s just two weeks away.