Appearing in Columbus, Ohio — and on DC TV!

While I continue to work all day in the studio recording audio for On the Historicity of Jesus (thanks to Pitchstone Publishing), while Sheffield continues working to produce an electronic edition (that process is out of my hands), I have to get some announcements out. I know, I still haven’t gotten to the comments queue. Have not found the time yet. And with Thanksgiving coming up as well, it certainly won’t happen this week.

But meanwhile, those who want to hang out with me in person, or see me on cable access TV, get out your December calendars…

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On Skeptic Fence Live Tonight

Tonight at 9pm Eastern Time I’ll be a live guest on the Skeptic Fence web show. Promo and details here. The show will air here. It starts at 8. But they’ll be covering news items the first hour, then bringing me in for the second hour. We’ll be talking about Hitler Homer Bible Christ and the historicity of Jesus.

Historicity Stuff This Weekend

Two quick notes: (1) Tomorrow (Saturday the 15th, 2014, 8pm Central Time) I’ll be guesting on a Google hangout whatsit with Robert Price to talk about the “Christ myth theory,” with some stop-ins by David Fitzgerald, Neil Godfrey, and Raphael Lataster. Deets here. (And now the video is on YouTube.) And (2) the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue were impressively quick to get the video of my talk online (about why we conclude Acts is historical fiction and not a genuine history of early Christianity). That’s now here.

Appearing Next Week at Purdue!

Photo of an attractive building and lawn on the Purdue campus that looks very old school and Cambridge like.I will be speaking at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana) this coming Wednesday (12 March 2014 at 7pm, Physics Building, Room 203). I will be talking about one of the chapters in my upcoming book, On the Historicity of Jesus, one of the lesser discussed: How We Can Tell the Book of Acts is Fake History. I will survey evidence and scholarship on the point. Details at that link. I will be taking questions from the audience. But not selling books (see below).

Brought to you by the Society of Non-Theists (an SSA affiliate). It’s open to the public. Some members of the Lafayette-Tippecanoe Atheists and Secular Humanists will be there, and their meetup page for the event also has a map link and more description, although their map link doesn’t take you to the specific building, which I believe is this, although I’m not sure.

[Video of this talk is now online.]

FtBCon 2: Bible Study (or Taking the Bible Seriously as Fiction: A Read-Along)

At noon today, California time (2pm Central) I’ll be drinking fine scotch, while teaching the people about the literary weirdness of the New Testament, in Bible Study (or Taking the Bible Seriously as Fiction: A Read-Along). Please grab your bible, tune in, and read along with me. (The link to the video feed is the “Official Session Page,” down the right margin of the Lanyrd event page.) I will not be taking questions during the show. But any questions you do have, post them here, and I’ll get to them all eventually (but please heed my comments policy).

Here is a select reading list for anyone who wants to dive further into this kind of thing:

And for beginners in New Testament Studies:

Enjoy!

FtBCon 2: Philosophy for Everyone

At 10am PST today (noon Central) I’ll be hosting the panel Philosophy for Everyone. Please tune in and watch. (The link to the video feed is the “Official Session Page,” down the right margin of the Lanyrd event page.) Questions can be directed to us by using the Pharyngula chatroom during the show. If you have questions that don’t make it into the program, post them here if you want to hear my reply–or if you want to ask a question of one of the other panelists that didn’t get answered on the show, follow the links in their bios to find their websites or twitter addresses. Please be polite and productive in your queries!

Of relevance to the subject of this panel is the talk I gave for Skepticon just last year, “Is Philosophy Stupid?” To delve even deeper into philosophy, see my recommended readings (especially, for beginners, the first page). Check that out for more on what philosophy is and why it’s important (and how academic philosophers are often doing it wrong). After the show, if the panelists have suggestions for further reading or additional resources, I will also add them here.

Is Philosophy Stupid?

Photo of me behind the podium, hands raised in gesture, speaking. Red-silver tie on white shirt under a dark grey suit jacket. Hair shaggy. Glasses hipster.My Skepticon 6 Talk is now available for viewing. Check it out on YouTube: Is Philosophy Stupid? (Thankyou Hambone Productions!). Ad revenue goes to charity. Also for convenience here is the link to my ancillary materials for that talk, a page that includes a link to a non-animated PDF of the slideshow, a rough text for the talk (not exactly the same as what I spoke, but close enough in most salient points, and the text has a few gems I didn’t have time for in the speech), and two bibliographies for further reading, one on how to become a good lay philosopher, and another on popular recent critiques of philosophy.

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).

Appearing in Kamloops

I will be speaking at the Imagine No Religion 3 conference in Kamloops, British Columbia (Canada) this May 17th through 19th (2013). For details (including registration, on-site daycare, entertainments, venue, speaker lineup, etc.) click the previous link (or to just look at registration options right away, click here). The event will be held at the Kamloops Coast Hotel and Convention Centre (where there may still be rooms available at the special convention rate). I am presently scheduled to speak in the 1:30pm slot on Saturday the 18th (but that can often change).

My talk will be “Imagining the Study of Jesus without Religion: Bayes’ Theorem and the Quest for a Historical Jesus.” This will summarize key elements of my book Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus but with added emphasis and details on what it might mean to study Jesus if there were no religious assumptions built up even in secular scholarship–if Jesus were treated the same way as Hercules, for instance. Copies of my book will be sold at the event. I’ll be happy to sign any you buy or bring. I’ll be at the whole conference.

There is also a special free banquet and meet & greet for CFI members Sunday night, which I will likely attend.

[Update: the video of my talk is now available online.]