Atheist Dudebros Don’t Know What Cultural Appropriation Is

Cartoon of two drunk girls half-assedly dressed as Native Americans, byline, No, it's cool, it's not like your ancestors killed them all or anything. Drawing from jenmust.blogspot.com/2010/03/native-appropriations.html.Jerry Coyne. Peter Boghossian. Richard Dawkins. Various others. I call them the Dudebros because they act like white privilege is awesome, pontificate infallibly like the Pope, and don’t understand any of the things they complain about. They are the Archie Bunkers of the 21st century. Progressives can also be wrong about things. These facts are not incompatible. But landing on the truth requires working harder. And the Dudebros just don’t.

Today, two examples will illustrate… [Read more…]

Lataster on the Historicity of Jesus Being a Debate Among Atheists

Cover of Raphael Lataster's book Jesus Did Not Exist, A Debate Among Atheists, with Richard Carrier. Shows an annular solar eclipse.Raphael Lataster, an Australian doctoral student in religious studies, has published a book recently, Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate among Atheists, examining the debate over the historicity of Jesus by focusing only on what atheist and agnostic experts are saying, and not Christian believers—regarding the latter as too biased to consider; since any good arguments they have should be as convincing to experts who aren’t believers anyway, so really we should only be looking at the debate among atheists.

It’s a good point. Unfortunately, atheist academic monographs defending historicity don’t exist. The only two so far written this century, by Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey, were neither published by academic presses, nor underwent any formal peer review. But Lataster works with what the academy has given him. And so he surveys the merits of those two books anyway. And compares them with mine, On the Historicity of Jesus, which was published by an academic press and did pass formal academic peer review. His own result is historicity agnosticism. And a lot of serious criticism of how the academy has handled this debate, judging by the only two books it has produced so far in defense of what the academy often claims should be so well demonstrated as to be irrefutable.

I was commissioned to write a foreword and afterword to the book, and to read the manuscript and provide any advice I had towards its improvement or the correction of any obvious errors or omissions. Lataster operated independently. He did not necessarily heed all of my advice. Whatever remains in the book is now his responsibility to defend. But I will make some comments on the matter below. In particular, I discuss in his book’s afterword what I expected critics will attempt to do, like attack its tone rather than its content—or lie about its contents. That process has already begun… [Read more…]

For My Birthday: Seeking Patrons & Twitter Followers!

Patreon logo banner that says 'Support my work on Patreon'Today is my birthday. And I am officially launching my Patreon support page. Please take a gander, and consider becoming a patron, even at just a dollar per. I would love to have more financial security and a better sense that what I’m doing is valued and worthwhile and can secure my future.

For my birthday I don’t want things. I want to grow my business and do well. And for that, what I’d want most of all this year is not just more patrons, but also twitter followers.

So if you can’t do the patronage thing, what you can do, as a gift for my birthday, is do what you can to let people on twitter know about me and to consider following me, so they’ll see my announcements of thoughts, blog articles, books, public appearances, and everything else. Tweet to your own followers that they should take a look and decide. Facebook it. Or whatever you like. (I can also be followed on Facebook.)

I’d love to break the 1000 followers mark on Twitter (I only just started). I’m maybe 90 away right now. I probably can’t do that in one day, but wouldn’t that be a thing! Building more Twitter followers helps me publicize and get attention to my work. Which helps me make a living. But it also helps my work have a greater impact, so it will be seen by, read by, and educate and benefit, more people. So I would greatly value your help with expanding my following there.

-:-

There are of course other ways to support my work, from buying my books, to bringing me out to speak at your city or school, and more. To visit all the options see my newly updated Support page.

Science Then: The Bible vs. The Greeks Edition

Did the Bible predict modern science better than ancient scientists did? Funny to ask. Because naive Muslims have been making the same embarrassing claim for the Koran. Over a decade ago I published an article showing how silly conservative Muslim apologists were for claiming the Koran miraculously predicted scientific facts, by demonstrating that the Epicureans (and I just used the De Rerum Natura of Lucretius at that, and thus left out many other items that could have been added), who were the least fully scientific of the philosophers of the era who produced scientific results, got right a hell of a lot more, and more precisely and clearly declared their results, than the Koran, and all explicitly through just armchair reasoning from basic observations. No miraculous communications from angels. No telecom with the gods.

That article was Predicting Modern Science: Epicurus vs. Mohammed. In that I show several logical flaws in these kinds of arguments: (1) they use a fake translation (they ignore the actual language of the text in its actual context) to “invent” a better fit with modern science post hoc (a common scam run by psychics called retrofitting); (2) they ignore the fact that mere armchair thinking often had already produced the same conclusion or comparable conclusions and often in fact more and better conclusions (thus negating any claim that such “hits” required miraculous powers or informants); (3) they get ancient science wrong (e.g. they claim that ancient scientists hadn’t discovered a thing, when in fact they had); (4) they cherry pick bizarre data so as to rely on luck giving them hits (in any vast enough tome of baloney, you will inevitably find random matches with the truth by mere chance), but miss the fact that if one actually had a miraculous line to prescient scientific knowledge, you’d be reporting way more useful shit than this (compare the relative utility of knowing that cosmic expansion or heliocentrism are true, and knowing the germ theory of disease or the basic principles of electricity—for a religion that supposedly prioritizes the welfare of humanity).

Now there is an image going around (evidently even favorably shared by actual scientists in some cases) making the same stupid claim for the Christian Bible. It’s so bad I was laughing out loud before I even finished the third line. It has been debunked before (e.g. here and here). But since ancient science is my field, I figured my own fisk would be of use to the world. So here goes… [Read more…]

An Amazing Thing: The Humanist Experience

Production photo of Evan and Serah in a parking lot by trees holding up signs with the logo for The Humanist Experience, caption The Thumanist Experience Ep 2.Two humanists are traveling the country, living out of their car and on savings and donations for a whole year, interviewing or even embedding themselves among all sorts of people who are often ignored or ground under by the American system, and seeking empirical understanding of common human challenges and hardships. They are visiting the real America. And reporting on it. And reporting on what humanist values should mean for us in light of what they uncover.

This is The Humanist Experience. It’s a great podcast. And the most unusual to date. They are doing two things I’ve never seen before: (1) They are actually going all in, walking the walk, by actually giving up daily work lives to drive around the country experiencing things and talking to people, to hear and communicate their stories with understanding; and (2) They are using storytelling and experiential learning to do this. Their view is, you need experience to understand a thing, and you need understanding of a thing to have a valid opinion of it, in particular, an opinion of what to do about it, or even whether to do something about it. Storytelling, recording their own and others’ experiences, in their philosophy, is a crucial way to aesthetically communicate the reality of the world and to get people aware and comprehending of what’s going on in it. Part of their inspiration is This American Life, so fans of that take note. It’s fascinating. And I highly recommend checking it out.

Here is their description: [Read more…]

Celebrate the Holidays with My Class on the Historicity of the Baby Jesus!

Color drawing of the bust of Jesus, eyesturned up to heaven and head cocked to the side as if he is on the cross dying or dead, and over his crown of thorns has been placed a crown of colored Christmas lights. Source: I-Mockery.I’ll be teaching my one month online course on the historicity of Jesus this December: the best arguments pro and con, the cultural and historical background, the competing theories of the origins of Christianity, and more. We’ll go through my book chapter by chapter and discuss its contents, and look at some additional resources and challenges. And by the end you’ll be able to converse informedly about all the main issues in the debate: what the best evidence is for the historical Jesus, why it can be questioned and how, and how you can decide for yourself whether theories without one are better or not. You will also have the opportunity to ask me all the questions you want, challenge me with all the arguments you’ve run into, and otherwise pick my brain on all the related issues you think important.

The course, Questioning or Defending the Historicity of Jesus, begins December 1 (my birthday, incidentally!) and goes one month, covering four units, one per week. There are no timed events so you can do the readings or post questions or engage in the forum discussions whenever you want, any day and time that suits you. All the course materials, including the discussions, stay available for you to consult or download for an additional month after that.

The only course text you must acquire (if you don’t already have it) is my book On the Historicity of Jesus. Everything else will be provided. For a more complete course description, and how to register, visit the course announcement page.

Please acquire the required text in print or kindle or any format available, except the audiobook, which won’t be functional for the needs of the course. So you should only get that in addition to another version, if you get it at all. And be aware it probably won’t work with the whisper function either, since the read text differs from the printed text (I had to incorporate footnote commentary into the main text, and read out descriptions of diagrams and tables, so the audiobook is complete, but not verbatim or in the same order as the kindle text; the audio also doesn’t contain the useful indexes and reference lists and citations).

Open Letter to Academic Philosophy: All Your Moral Theories Are the Same

Graphic depicting the three standard moral theories and the two forms of consequentialism described in the main text, as well as the fourth way with the label of Foot, the other three are labeled Kant, Mill, and Aristotle. The one labeled Mill only marks the consequences for everyone box, but another form of consequentialism is listed, egoism. Finally, all three systems can serve as the foundation for Social Contract Theory, also thus depicted. And Foot's system of hypothetical imperatives is tied to all Moral Theories at the core.In my work I have repeatedly pointed out two things about what philosophers think the options are in developing a theory of moral truth: (1) that their standard assumption of only three options (consequentialist, deontological, and virtue ethics) curiously omits a fourth of equal importance, the only one developed by a woman, and (2) that these are actually all the same ethical theory and the fact that no one has ever noticed this is very annoying, and impeding progress in moral philosophy. Today I’m going to outline why both points are true, and matter a great deal. Philosophy will forever remain stuck and getting barely more than nowhere, until it acknowledges and integrates both facts in all future analysis of this question: What moral propositions are true? [Read more…]

Might Stellar War Be a Good Christmas Gift? (Hint Hint)

Oh, sorry, “Holiday Gift.” For those atheists who abhor the Christ in Christmas. Although we know everything distinctive of Christmas is pagan. And paganism is fun. So most of us atheists happily celebrate the pagan holiday under its now familiar moniker. Because it’s hilarious to call all this pagan shit Christ-mas. Besides, we can use Christian apologetics to prove Santa Claus exists and flies to other planets on a rocket. And we all know gods don’t exist anyway, so who cares what we call it. No one freaks out over Mighty Saturn’s Day, er, I mean, Saturday.

So, regardless. If you will be giving sinful filthy heathen gifts to people this coming Winter Solstice, you might consider my card game Stellar War. What the hell is that? It’s this. Which you can buy here. Have someone you’ll be gifting to who is a fan of my work or of fun but complicated tabletop games (the kind of games that freak out the squares), consider the game I invented in my childhood, Stellar War. I’ve even updated the box so the title is on the sides as well so you know where it is in your crazy giant stack of boxed games. There are other Christmas gift buying options besides the game, of course, which can help support my work in various ways. This article summarizes them. Although since then my average income has gone up ten grand, but I am now living on my own, and thus entirely supporting myself on a starving artist’s wage.

Below the fold are some spoilers, however. Spoilers that might make Stellar War more attractive as a gift idea. What spoilers? Pictures of the three cards I added to spice the game with some humor. They were included in the original release two years ago, intended to surprise players of the game. I’m now revealing the secret to everyone. Imagine drawing them randomly through the course of the game. A game that is about an interstellar war, the goal of which is to destroy as many ships and space stations of your enemies as possible.

Enjoy…

[Read more…]