Bart Ehrman vs. Robert Price & Richard Carrier vs. Justin Bass: The Debates Are On! (Get Your Tickets Now)

Mythicist Milwaukee logo.Two debates are happening next year (2016), sponsored by Mythicist Milwaukee as part of their Buzzed Belief debate series. Details here. You can get tickets now, through links there, and start making plans to travel and lodge where you can for these momentous debates.

First up…

Saturday, March 19, 2016 – 7-10 pm
Shank Hall, 1434 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Richard Carrier and Justin Bass
Are There Reliable Sources for the Miraculous Resurrection of Jesus?

FREE admission with advanced reservation. $5 at the door.

The resurrection of Jesus is the Christian religious belief that, after being put to death, Jesus rose again from the dead. It is the central tenet of Christian theology and part of the Nicene Creed. His resurrection is covered in the Scriptures; but are these writings reliable? 

That’s right. We aren’t doing that tired old “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” debate that’s been done to death and resurrected a million times. This time, we are debating what we should always have been debating first before that, yet never have before now: Are the sources we have for that even sufficiently reliable to establish that claim?—even if the claim itself happened to be true! The letters of Paul and the Gospels. Can we even count on them for this? Should we just not even?

-:-

Next up…

Friday, October 21, 2016 – 6-9 pm
Turner Hall, 1034 N 4th St, Milwaukee, WI 53203
Dr. Robert Price and Bart D. Ehrman
Did Jesus Exist?

$30* Early bird (tickets limited reg. price $60) ends 3/20/16
$47* Mythicist Milwaukee members at the door
$60* Regular Price after 3/20/16

$105* Early Bird Debate & VIP Meet-and-Greet (Reg. Price $160) ends 3/20/16
$160* Debate & VIP Meet-and-Greet after 3/20/16

*All tickets include FREE entrance to the Mythinformation Conference III

One of the most anticipated debates in the secular and theist realm alike realm is finally here! These two New Testament scholars are coming together to discuss the hotly debated topic of the existence of a historical Jesus Christ.

This was that debate they asked to get funded earlier, and they got the funding! This will actually help Robert Price make ends meet (Ehrman, already well off, will donate his honorarium to charity). And it will be the first time Bart Ehrman has ever debated the historicity of Jesus. This will be a historic event. I won’t be debating, but I will likely be included in the VIP crew. And of course I’ll be available for a post-debate analysis.

-:-

For either or both, get your tickets now!

Want to See Bart Ehrman Debate the Historicity of Jesus?

Yes, Ehrman consistently refuses to debate me (because I’m ‘too mean’). But he has agreed to debate Robert Price, another prominent and well-qualified doubter of the historicity of Jesus. As long as the event gets funded, in order to demonstrate sufficient interest and demand to warrant his time (I do believe that though Ehrman charges a lot to speak or debate, he gives it to charity). So…do you want to see that debate happen? Then help fund the kickstarter. And spread the word to others who might.

(Note that I am not in any way involved in this. But I am certainly curious to see it happen!)

Join Our New Course This May: Debate 101: How to Be a Better Debater Live and Online!

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.This month I am teaming up with a colleague to impart to you our decades of experience in debate. That includes debating online and at live events. Learn basic skills, the usual tactics and how to disarm them, how to be more effective, and more. Register now!

As the course description says…

Photo of Jeff Lowder.We are both skilled and experienced debaters (Richard Carrier, Ph.D., and Jeff Lowder, a founder of the Internet Infidels, both of us have been active debaters in both venues since at least 1997). We are co-leading this special workshop to teach fundamental principles for more effective debating, particularly with faith-based opponents. Learn how to argue effectively at the podium under the clock. Photo of Richard Carrier.Learn the tricks and tactics that will be used against you so you can overcome them. Learn the most common mistakes to avoid and how. And learn the best methods of forming a persuasive argument. You can also improve your ability to be efficient and effective in online debates, and in any open ended argument. Join this unique opportunity during the month of May!

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Live Debate on Unbelievers Radio This Week: Did Jesus Even Exist?

Logo for Unbelievers Radio, tagline is Promoting reason and reality over myth and superstition.This Thursday (April 2), tune in to hear me debate whether Jesus existed with Pastor Vocab Malone (from Urban Theologian Radio). You can then ask questions and get answers in almost real time! Tune in to Unbelievers Radio by 3pm PCT to get hear it go down and get in on the action. It should be amicable and interesting. Spread the news, too. They would love to get lots of audience questions. Details here. Live stream here.

Ottawa Historicity Debate: A Commentary

Video of my debate with Zeba Crook (an atheist professor of New Testament studies) on whether Jesus historically existed is now available online as Jesus of Nazareth: Man or Myth? A Discussion with Zeba Crook and Richard Carrier (produced by AtheismTV). I announced and discussed that here. But now you can watch the debate itself. The AV quality is not very good, but it’s manageable. As I note in the video, there was no way to respond to every point made, for want of time. Indeed, by the time I got to state my first rebuttal, I had to answer thirty minutes of Dr. Crook in just ten minutes. But I think both sides got to state their best case, and left the debate where further discussion is needed but at least moved beyond a lot of the usual sidetracking nonsense.

I shall place here below, and expand, what notes I had jotted down as the debate went on but didn’t have time to get to at the podium, including some comments on Dr. Crook’s final closing, which left loose ends unfinished, since he only at that point had any opportunity to respond to my rebuttal (at which point, he had five minutes to answer my ten, putting him at the disadvantage). Those notes I wrote in my own kind of abbreviated shorthand, but here I just spell them out in full sentences, with connecting sentences and whatnot (so don’t imagine I wrote all those words as-is during the debate; I captured those ideas in a much more abbreviated notation). Some of those notes will repeat what I said in rebuttals, some will expand on them, and some will be things I didn’t have time to talk about.

Certainly ask questions in comments here about anything you didn’t find resolved in the debate, or any arguments Crook made that you think I overlooked or didn’t adequately address (especially things that came up in Q&A, since I didn’t write notes then). But please first read the commentary below. It may already answer your question. In which case I’ll just tell you to read it.

Preliminaries

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I’ll Be Debating the Historicity of Jesus in Ottawa, Canada

The Center for Inquiry Canada is hosting two events with me in early April in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada), sponsored by CFI Ottawa.

The first will be a debate between myself and Zeba Crook, professor of religious studies at Carleton University, on whether it’s likely a historical Jesus existed. Details here. (Although, amusingly, we certainly aren’t debating whether “a man named Jesus live[d] in Palestine 2000 years ago,” since plenty of men named Jesus did; of course, we’re only debating the particular Jesus claimed to be the author of Christianity). The next day I’ll be taking questions and speaking on various matters of philosophy for the Philosophy, Phood, and Phriends meetup. Details here.

The debate will be held on Saturday, April 5 (2014), at 7:30pm, at the Centrepointe Chamber Theatre (101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, ON K2G 0B5; the theatre is located at the back). Admission is $15 (or just $5 if you are a CFI member; and new members can also get a free ticket). The format will be something like 20/20-10/10-5/5 (openings-rebuttals-closings), with the first to speak chosen at random on the day. Written questions will be taken from the audience.

The philosophy meet will be on Sunday, April 6 (2014) at 11:00am, in the CCOC Meeting Room (OPSEU Local 464, 2255 St Laurent Boulevard, Ottawa, ON K1G 6C4 464 Metcalfe St., near the Museum of Nature). $10 admission includes food and drinks ($5 for members of CFI). “Bring your questions–suggested topics include: metaphysics, naturalistic philosophy, morality, counter-apologetics.”

There may be copies of Proving History for sale at the first or possibly both events. But I will sign anything you bring (so you can buy any of my books online now and have them in time for that).

Do Massively Powerful Ghosts Exist? The Carrier-Esposito Debate

Image of Esposito's Some of you might recall I debated the existence of God with Come Reason evangelist Lenny Esposito at UC Riverside some time back. Well, video of that debate is now available! You can watch it in standard low res at YouTube, or get a higher quality version as a DVD set (or audio CD set). The DVD includes the Q&A (that’s not on YouTube), a written transcript, and Esposito’s “post-debate analysis” (and not mine, of course…I suppose it wouldn’t even occur to them to ask).

By all reasonable accounts I won this debate, pretty handily, although I don’t think debates can actually be “won” like this. My winning just means the clock ran out before Esposito could voice a credible answer to everything I said…and that he couldn’t have, even if he had more time, is something that can’t be decided by a clock. But if you don’t care about that and just like debates with a clocked win by the end, this is one such.

Their description:

Does God Exist? Philosophers and theologians have written volumes on this topic, but it has become especially significant in our modern world. In this riveting debate, Lenny Esposito and famed atheist Richard Carrier go head-to-head to try and settle the question “Does God Exist?” Recorded in front of a packed house at the University of California Riverside, this multi-disc set provides over five hours of stimulating debate, discussion, and answers to one of the greatest questions in human existence.

This debate is part of a larger DVD set that includes the live debate, an extended question and answer session with the students at UC Riverside, a debate transcript, as well as Lenny’s post-debate analysis of Carrier’s arguments in an mp3 audio file.

Notably, the debate and Q&A was only about two hours. That the DVD contains “over 5 hours of content” would suggest Esposito’s “post-debate analysis” is over twice as long as the entire debate itself (and thus he gets to speak four times as long as I do). Do the math on that and you’ll kind of see how Christians need to sort of kind of cheat to win people over. The idea of maintaining an actually balanced analysis, equal time to both parties, doesn’t even occur to them.

Picture of a mug being sold (click image to buy) in which it says I also have to say, in reaction to their ad copy, I’m starting to get amused by the tired old trope of calling every debate over the existence of God “the Great Debate” (that’s been used so many times it’s almost at joke status by now). I now think, “Really?” Unfettered capitalism vs. an intelligent economic ecology with capitalist-socialist checks and balances against each other’s extremes: that would be a far greater debate. Since it would actually affect billions of lives. Whether you believe God exists or not doesn’t really change much. Because “God exists” actually doesn’t entail a position on any moral, economic, or political issue whatever, since God can be made to advocate literally anything (and has been), simply depending on what sect of believers you fall in with by mere global happenstance. But whether you believe we should totally unchain capitalism (or, just as horribly, go for full-on communism) will actually change how you act, speak, vote, and change the world for countless other human beings. Likewise so many other real issues. Gay and trans* rights; women’s equality; institutionalized racism; prison reform; placing limits on government spying; legalization of sex work or recreational drugs; and so on and so forth.

You know. Just saying.

-:-

P.S. If anyone either finds/creates a transcript of Esposito’s post-debate analysis or extracts from it any remarks you would like to know my response to, feel free to bring it up in comments here. I’m not going to bother listening to it myself. I’ve been doing this long enough; I’ve heard it all before.

I’m Sort of on TV This Weekend – And in Some New Videos Online

Two new video interviews with me are now available, and another is going live this weekend–almost literally: it will actually be on cable television. (For that, see the last paragraph below.)

First up, I did a video interview with Adam Ford on “the singularity” and related questions in the future of artificial intelligence and human utopias and Bayesian reasoning and all kinds of whatnot. As he describes it:

Just finished doing a fantastic interview with Richard Carrier on Bayesian reasoning, possible futures for AI, the Intelligence Explosion, how to evaluate the possibility of smarter than human level AI coming about, using Bayesian reasoning to determine confidence levels about history and Richard’s book Proving History (and more)… the video will be up on my youtube channel soon.

You can check that interview out here. It’s great because we range over lots of topics I don’t usually get to talk about.

Next, my talk on studying Jesus as a mythical deity at INR3 is now online. It was titled “Imagining the Study of Jesus without Religion” and focused on how we would actually be studying the origins of Christianity if Christianity were just another extinct religion like nearly every other from the same period, and we didn’t have millions of people and million/billion dollar institutions devoted to defending it and a cultural history so invested in it even secular institutions can’t get away from the assumptions only believers originated. For backstory see here. The video is here. (Lighting isn’t good. My hair looks weird in consequence. I have inverted horns like an anti-devil! Apropos?)

And in bigger news, I will actually be on TV. Local cable at least. I participated in a kind of three-way quasi-debate between an atheist (me), a liberal Christian (Rob McQuery), and a Buddhist (Jack Elias), all on the premier episode of the Blind Faith Virus Vaccine show (general promo here), hosted by Mark Gura, based on his book. It airs this Saturday (October 19th) on Comcast Channel 24 Atlanta at 7pm, and on Comcast channel 25 North Fulton County, this Sunday (October 20th) at 7pm, and other cities (not yet announced, but you can check local listings or DVR search just to be sure). Watch Mark Gura’s FB wall for further info (including a webpage for the show, still in development).

Is William Lane Craig Afraid?

There are two people who have been asking noted Christian apologist William Lane Craig to debate them for years. And he has consistently declined, always with specious excuses–which are all the more galling given that they are much the same excuses Dawkins gave for not debating Craig, which Craig then mocked, not at all grasping the irony. [Read more…]