Bart Ehrman Just Can’t Do Truth or Logic

Bart Ehrman was again asked what evidence there is that Jesus existed this February 18, 2016, at Fresno City College. See the video here (he begins his answer at timestamp 23:18). First he says this:

I don’t think there is any doubt that Jesus existed. There are a couple of scholars who’ve argued he didn’t exist. There are a lot of voices out there saying that he didn’t exist. But they’re not by scholars who are actually trained in any historical disciplines. There are voices on the internet. But there are voices on the internet for all sorts of things. Scholars who study this stuff really, there isn’t any, it’s not a question that’s debated among my colleagues. It is not debated. Because the evidence is so overwhelming.

This is not a very truthful statement. [Read more…]

Historicity Apologists: Their Own Worst Enemy

Brian Bethune has published a good article on the historicity question for Macleans, a leading Canadian magazine. Titled Did Jesus Really Exist?, his article presents a pretty fair assessment of the debate (after summarizing recent developments in the field calling into question the reliability of memory). He doesn’t delve into the deeper levels (principally, what did Paul mean by “Brothers of the Lord” or being “made of a woman” or “of the sperm of David”?). But he summarizes where things stand. And like me ten years ago, he finds the historicity defenders have a surprisingly, indeed perplexingly weak case.

Around the same time, doctoral candidate in religious studies Raphael Lataster published a peer reviewed journal article summarizing the case in more detail. Titled It’s Official: We Can Now Doubt Jesus’s Historical Existence, and published in Think (by The Royal Institute of Philosophy), Vol. 15.43 (Summer 2016), pp. 65-79, it’s a good summary of his book Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate among Atheists. None of his more speculative stuff is in there. Every point he makes is entirely correct.

In both cases, the truth of what they report significantly rests with the extremely poor responses of historicity defenders. Once again it’s starting to look like they have no good responses to make (this became evident even in my debate with Craig Evans in Georgia a few weeks ago, which I’ll blog about soon). Ehrman seems not to have given Bethune any good answers. And the only books the entire field has produced in defense of historicity really do phenomenally suck—and in all the ways Lataster documents.

The responses to these two articles so far are absurd. They even make the defense of historicity look embarrassing and ridiculous. Which shouldn’t be so easy to do. But alas, two authors definitely accomplish said marvel… [Read more…]

Announcing The Richard Carrier Exists Tour!

Photo of a Penske moving truck.I may be visiting your town soon! And I may need your help. I’ll explain in a moment. But here’s the basic idea…

Because Christians don’t understand how evidence works, they’ve literally argued that there is no more evidence for my existence than there is for the existence of Jesus their Christ. Never mind that that’s already wildly false. Here is your chance to see how evidence works, and confirm for yourself, as an eyewitness, that I do indeed exist! No silly hearsay for you anymore. Oh no. This is the real deal. (Jesus, meanwhile, promised he’d be back lickity split, and it’s been nearly 2,000 years, so…)

I am moving to Columbus, Ohio, for good and all this May (2016). And I’m taking a moving truck and towing my car all the way across country from my current and soon past home in Stockton, California, with the assist of some of my girlfriends as relief drivers on different legs of the trip (that’s really above and beyond…I’m extremely grateful!).

It’s a modern day whistle stop tour. I’ll be driving each day from one major city to the next, and giving a talk, or appearing in some public fashion selling and signing my books, and happily chatting and glad-handing and posing for photos for anyone who wants to verify my historicity.

I’m developing tour stops already for Reno, Nevada (Tuesday night, May 24), Omaha, Nebraska (Friday night, May 27), and Kansas City, Missouri (Saturday night, May 28). I’ll announce those details as soon as they are finalized and there is a public page somewhere promoting them.

But here is where I need your help.

I have made all possible efforts to contact organizations and arrange tour stops for Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado; and Indianapolis, Indiana. And that hasn’t worked. There is a campus group near SLC that might pull something together for my stop Wednesday night May 25, but I haven’t gotten a confirmation, so I don’t know if that will happen. Indianapolis doesn’t want to compete with Memorial Day parties that Sunday May 29. And Denver just seems not to have been interested for Thursday night May 26.

So anyone who lives in or near those three places and wants to see me make an appearance on the respective date, I’d appreciate any help you can offer to make something happen. I’d love to show up and speak about something, hang out, sell some books…and confirm my historicity with you and all, with photos, or signing odd things, or whatever. Here are some ideas…

For Indianapolis, maybe the best plan would be if there is already a large enough gathering of interested atheists for a Memorial Day party (at least thirty or so!), I could just show up and join you all. As long as I can publicly announce the location, sell books at it, and there’s any alcohol other than beer, I’m golden. So anyone who has a bead on that, let me know! It needn’t be exactly in Indianapolis. Anywhere within an hour’s drive around that epicenter. All the better if you have a place my girlfriend and I can crash for the night (not a requirement, just a hope). And BTW, given what Memorial Day is all about, do recall, as it happens, I am a veteran! Of a war even (I very importantly guarded an estuary in San Diego against Saddam Hussein’s phantom submarine). True, I am not dead. Nor have any fallen comrades. But I’ll have my National Service Medal on hand. And Letters of Commendation. And marksmanship ribbons. They’ll just be in a little box, like a Korean Toe (only Kids in the Hall fans will get that one). I’ll still make a point of calling a solemn toast to those who’ve died for us in service. Because, seriously.

For Denver, I can make anything along the I-25 that’s en route to KC (e.g. Fort Collins, Boulder, Colorado Springs). Surely some group out there wants to be in on this historic(ity) event! If you want me to deliver a lecture, my only charge is $200 (negotiable). If it’s a party, and I don’t have to work, it’s free (see Indianapolis above for requirements). And I am also looking for anyone with a guest room for my girlfriend and I to stay that night.

For Salt Lake City, or anything within an hour’s drive of SLC, the same.

Anyone who has offers, ideas, anything helpful, email me. If we can pull something together, I’ll appreciate it!

NOTE: Subjects I speak on are listed at the bottom of my booking page here.

Appearing at UCLA Next Week!

As I announced earlier, I’m speaking for CFI in two locations this Sunday in Southern California, on why a Jesus was invented at all. But the following Wednesday (April 20 at 5pm), I will be speaking on simply what evidence there is for a historical Jesus, at UCLA, for the Bruin Alliance of Skeptics and Secularists (BASS). Ironically named given my recent debate. But no relation. :-)

Details here.

We’ll be meeting in the Ackerman building, room 3516. Which is the Student Union, at 308 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA.

This will be a straightforward listing of the evidence that’s been offered (“The Historical Jesus: What Evidence Do We Have?”), and what the status of it is in the field and why, and what merit I think it has and why (I may also comment on some of the attempts at evidence made by Craig Evans in last night’s debate, which was…interesting). I will of course be selling and signing my books and doing a Q&A.

This supplements the Sunday talks well, so if you are intrigued by what you hear Sunday, you might want to make this talk, too. They won’t have very much overlap. But they address different angles of the same issue. Sunday will be about why they’d make Jesus up. Wednesday will be about what evidence there is that Jesus existed instead.

On the Gullibility of Bart Ehrman & the Asscrankery of Tim O’Neil

As someone recently clued me to, the indomitable asscrank Tim O’Neil had posted a comment on Ehrman’s blog back in 2013 lambasting my peer reviewed article on the James passage in Josephus, to which Ehrman responded “Terrific comments!! Many thanks.”

Hmm. In the comment Ehrman gullibly praised, O’Neil, who has no relevant qualifications but claims to know more than the peer reviewers for the prestigious Journal of Early Christian Studies, told Ehrman that my paper they published (which you can find reproduced, along with my peer reviewed papers on the Thallus and Tacitus passages, among other items, in Hitler Homer Bible Christ) was “riddled with problems,” yet never discusses any of my paper’s actual arguments, or any of my paper’s actual evidence, and instead spews his own lies and mistakes.

[Read more…]

Affordable One-Month Course on the Science & Philosophy of Free Will…and a whole lot of other things going on!

If you haven’t already, do consider taking my online course next month on the science & philosophy of free will—or recommend it to anyone you think might be interested! It starts in just two days. You can get in within its first six.

Meanwhile, a brief update and foreshadow:

  • I’ve been spending the last week starting a new relationship, so I’ve been AFK a lot. She’s a noted polyamory activist and all-around kickass, known by her handle Joreth Innkeeper. And I confess I’m very smitten. I am now meeting someone else in the next few days who might smite me as well. She practically already has. And all the while staying with a girlfriend who already smote me. So I’ll be AFK a bit more.
  • Further consuming my time is all the work I’ve been engaging in planning several upcoming tours (Southern California in April and Florida in May), two major debates, and one big move. Yes, by this summer I shall no longer be living in California. Stay tuned for that news. Because I’m going to do something fun with it.
  • Of course I consumed a lot of time prepping and engaging in the Carrier-Bass debate a week ago. The video is now up. IMO, that went badly for him. He’s a very competent presenter. He did well on all the skills of debate. Except for what gives you a technical win. So given his confident and charismatic presentation, you might not have noticed that he didn’t really rebut most of my arguments; and those he even properly took on, he ended up relying on argument by assertion. Assertions any fact-checker will be able tell aren’t all that credible. I’ll blog more on that in coming weeks. But that’s even more time to task!
  • Now I have the Kennesaw debate with Craig Evans coming up, on the historicity of Jesus. Don’t forget that! If you can make it, you may want to. It will be an important one. And of course, prepping for that, is also consuming my time.
  • In SoCal I’ll be speaking on why they invented Jesus and what’s up with feminism. There may be even more. Stay tuned.
  • In Florida I have two events of considerable interest going. I’ve announced one. Stay tuned for the other! [To be announced here.]
  • I’ll also be at Frolicon in Atlanta, Georgia. Just FYI. Not as a presenter. Just among the invisible happy masses attending, with my new paramour. But if you happen to see me, do say hi! And don’t worry, I won’t out you. Not without your enthusiastic consent.
  • I’m near to completing my first of two books on ancient science. Yep. If all goes to plan, Science Education in the Early Roman Empire will be released before the end of this year. I’ll announce that, and what it’s about, as soon as it can be pre-ordered. But needless to say, this is also consuming a lot of my time! Since I finished my fan-funded Jesus project (which resulted in three books, Proving History, On the Historicity of Jesus, and Hitler Homer Bible Christ), I’ve been able to blow the dust off of my dissertation and start turning it into some books. It just needs updating (since much has been published in the last six years I’ve been spending on the funded project). So I’m on that now.
  • I also have contracts for at least two other books to come (and am working on a fourth). More on that later. But I’m eager to get to them.
  • And on top of all that I have more things I want to blog than I’ll have time for! Including two new important articles on Jesus mythicism, one in a major Canadian magazine (Macleans), another in a major academic journal (Think).

So I’m a very busy man. Now taking a brief break. With his CostCo Jameson.

Photo of Richard Carrier's Apple computer screen, keyboard, and mouse, mostly out of frame, but more centered is a giant Costco style bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey, and a whiskey glass with a shot of Jameson in it, all by the soft light of evening lamp, on a blond wooden desk.

 

 

Appearing in Los Angeles & Costa Mesa

I will be speaking on Jesus mythicism in Southern California this April.

  • “If Jesus Didn’t Exist, Why Did They Invent One?”

The theory that there was no actual Jesus at the dawn of Christianity is starting to impact academia. But if there was no Galilean minister from Nazareth riling up the Jerusalem elite and getting himself crucified by Pontius Pilate, why did Christians invent such a character? How did his existence then become a central dogma of the Church?

That will be the focus of my talk this time. Not so much why we might believe that’s what happened (I’ve spoken on that, too, of course, and will again on other occasions), but the meta-theory: what was going on in the minds of the people responsible for creating the historical character, and then those who later started selling that character as the truth?

Photo banner of the CFI Los Angeles venue against a blue sky, with the words in white outlined in black Los Angeles.I will be speaking on this (and taking Q&A and selling and signing books) on Sunday April 17th (2016) at the CFI Los Angeles venue at 4773 Hollywood Blvd. (Los Angeles, CA 90027) at 11am. Small door fee for non-members (discounts for students with ID). Details here. I will then do the same again down in Costa Mesa, in the Costa Mesa Community Center at 1845 Park Ave. (hosted there by the CFI Community of Orange County) at 4:30pm (ditto).

Mythicist Milwaukee Interview with Carrier & Lataster

A podcast interview of Raphael Lataster and myself has just gone up in advance of the Bass-Carrier debate happening this weekend, also sponsored by Mythicist Milwaukee, the same organization as runs the podcast in question.

The episode is “The Jesus Myth Theory w/ Richard Carrier and Raphael Lataster” (also available on iTunes). The official description:

Richard Carrier and Raphael Lataster join us for a discussion that covers the arguments for and against the mythicist position. We touch on many topics that relate to why we believe Jesus is purely a myth and was not an historical figure. If you are interested in the information that surrounds the Jesus myth theory, make sure to listen to this interview!

Cover of Raphael Lataster's book Jesus Did Not Exist, A Debate Among Atheists, with Richard Carrier. Shows an annular solar eclipse.We discuss Lataster’s book Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate among Atheists, which analytically compares the cases for historicity made in the only two books so far defending it (by Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey), with my case to the contrary in On the Historicity of Jesus (which appears to be the only one of the three that was actually peer reviewed and published by a university-based biblical studies academic press, which is ironic considering how much Ehrman and Casey winge about mythicism not being peer reviewed). I discussed the reception of Lataster’s book before. And a similar question comes up in the interview as came up there: why there is so much resistance to the theory that Christianity really began with belief in a heavenly demigod who was mystically revealed, and not an earthly Rabbi worshipped after his death.

Mythicist Milwaukee Podcast Live Next Week!

Raphael Lataster and I will be on the Mythicist Milwaukee Show next week to talk about many things to do with the mythology of Jesus, including my upcoming debate with Justin Bass in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the following week (that debate will be this March 19th, and it’s already selling out; details here). We will also discuss Lataster’s recent book, Jesus Did Not Exist, which I recently reviewed.

Tune in this Saturday, March 12th, at 10am PST (a departure from their usual Sunday afternoon slot, since Lataster will be joining us from Australia). Details here. Live feed airs here. It will be archived at their site as well.