Typos List for Sense and Goodness without God

Cover of Sense and Goodness without God, showing a spaceman in a red space suit descending from a dodecahedron shaped white landing ship onto a strange grasland under blue sky, image on a black background, author name Richard Carrier in white against red on top and title below in blue over black for Sense & Goodness and White over red for Without God and then subtitle white over black A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism. The image is Richard Carrier's One and Only Oil painting, so titled and mentioned in the book. More about that at http://www.richardcarrier.info/coverart.htmlMy first book, Sense and Goodness without God, was completed in 2003 and published in 2005. Since then I have collected a long list of corrections (mostly typos, a few clarifications or improved wording, and updates to all the bibliographies) that I would certainly make if I ever do a second edition. I likely won’t, because I’m planning a new, shorter, popular market version—which will simply reference this one. And further updates will likely be separate volumes by subject (epistemology, ethics, etc.).

Nevertheless, Sense and Goodness still holds up as a really good and solid worldview survey. Nothing like it exists (by me or anyone). It’s still the place to start if you want to examine and build a complete worldview. After twelve years, none of it is relevantly incorrect, and even though its bibliographies could be updated, those updates (all the new science that has happened since 2003) simply confirm further the conclusions already reached in the book. The only thing it lacks is more attention to feminism and social justice as an integral part of moral and political philosophy, and the integration of Bayesian epistemology. But there are many minor corrections worth making.

In this post I will survey the substantive ones, then list all the known typos I and others have caught. I will also update this article as I get further notions or discover more typos. [Read more…]

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.

Kennesaw State Debate with Craig Evans: Did Jesus Exist?

I’ll be debating renowned New Testament scholar Dr. Craig Evans at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, this April 13 (2016) at 7pm in the Social Sciences building, room 1021 (parking in the West Parking Deck). Co-hosted by Ratio Christi and the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at KSU. Q&A will follow. We’ll be selling and signing books in the Social Sciences Atrium afterward. Details here.

Poly Family, Poly World…and Poly Among the Poor

Still frame from the ABC News video segment on Polyamory: The End of Marriage?, showing a woman with her two men all cuddling and reading a book to their baby.Polyamory solves more problems than it causes. And all the problems it causes aren’t really unique to poly.

All the reasons people might think monogamy is better (and not just for them, but for everyone), turn out not to be true, or lack evidence. And like Christian apologetics, monogamy apologetics will leave out data regarding the benefits of alternatives, in order to oversell the benefit of compliance with antiquated norms. Monogamy, after all, was invented for men to control women as property, and like a kluge, it has since been clunkily tinkered with to align more with our modern egalitarian values. But the two don’t really fit. You can’t value freedom, consent, diversity, equality, and autonomy, and insist monogamy remain the norm. Monogamy is an option. And for many, not the best.

Even when people are not specifically trying to defend monogamy as “better,” monogamy assumptions blind even well-meaning intersectional feminist efforts to make the world better. As in one example in particular: a recent debate over whether poor women need to “get married” for their own good. Which even some secular (?) feminists have argued. For good but still flawed reasons. Good, because they are calling attention to the class privilege of feminists who advocate for women’s liberation from the necessity of marriage. But flawed, because they assume selling sex for childcare resources (aka “getting married for the good of the children”) is the only option poor women have. And in this case, polyamory isn’t even the only other option being overlooked. But it, too, is being overlooked.

Today I’m going to talk about all of that. [Read more…]

Are Moral Facts Not Natural Facts? Everything Wrong with the Shafer-Landau Thesis

An old timey looking photo of a block of stone on which is written 'Nothing is written in stone'.Is moral truth a priori and not a natural property of the universe? So says Dr. Russ Shafer-Landau (as articulated in Whatever Happened to Good and Evil in 2003; and Moral Realism: A Defence in 2005). Even though I’m sympathetic to his project, he’s just wrong. And not merely wrong, but too obviously wrong for this to still be a thing in 21st century philosophy. Here I’ll explain why I think that. And in the process you’ll get a feel for how to actually think about moral realism, and how to better understand what morality actually is and how a morality is determined to be true.

This connects with a recent and very relevant interview of me on this same issue by J.J. Chipchase at Naturalistic Philosophy, titled On Moral Theory and Truth with Richard Carrier – Part I. There I outline many aspects of my take on metaethics that inform the following.

[Read more…]

More There’s No Time to Explain!

Logo for the show, it's Brian Parra's bearded silhouette in black and white with a skull for a face, the words circling around it There's No Time to Explain, and the words below With Brian Parra. My brother-in-law Brian Parra has come out with several more episodes of his new podcast There’s No Time to Explain, and they are all awesome. He is getting some great guests and ranging over some really diverse topics. So I just had to talk about it!

I was his first interviewee, in episode 1, which I wrote about recently. We ranged over many cool topics. A lot of it is the kind of stuff people don’t usually ask me about. And those are always the most fun. You can follow that link to read a summary of what we covered in that episode. But here I’ll brief his next three eps, so you can get a feel for whether you might want to go give them a listen too! [Read more…]

Learn the Foundations of Humanism: Take My Course on What’s True in Philosophy if There Is No God

Cover of Richard Carrier's book Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism. Image on cover is Carrier's One and Only Oil painting, of a spaceman on the ladder of a planetary lander somewhere with alien plant growth.Why be moral? What is moral? Does atheism have a rational foundation? If we are just atoms in motion, how can anything be right or wrong? How can rationality even exist? Christians and Muslims have been challenging atheists with these questions lately even more than ever. Learn how to answer them…and with something more coherent and well thought out than they even think their answers are! Thinking through the answers to these questions can also make you smarter, wiser, with a better grasp of the world and your place in it.

Get a leg up on both goals, by taking my course next month (this March) on Naturalism as a Worldview: How to Build a Philosophy of Life. It establishes the philosophical foundations of humanism. And I think it’s the best way to introduce yourself to doing philosophy and thinking like a philosopher!

We will get at questions like: What is the nature of reality? What is the nature of humanity? What is the nature of love? What is the nature of beauty? And what consequences do these have? How do we decide on what’s best or what’s true if there is no God? Why live? Or care? About anything? Why is faith unreliable? What is reliable? How reliable? Why? What exists? What doesn’t? How do we know?

Learn about all aspects of naturalism as a philosophy of life, and how to use it in practical ways, and improve on it, to develop a better personal philosophy of life, the world, and everything. In the process you will learn many of the basics of college-level philosophy, and how to think like a philosopher, an important skill for those who know religion is bunk, but that we still need a better way of understanding ourselves and the world.

The course is one month online. You study and participate at your own pace, as much or as little as you like, and you get to ask me any questions you want about the course topics all month long, and read and participate in online discussions with me and other students. I will direct and comment on readings each week and give weekly course assignments which consist of answering questions about what you’ve learned and what you think about it. The course text you have to buy is Sense and Goodness without God (which you should purchase in the format you want as soon as possible). All other readings and media will be provided to students free of charge (all you have to provide is your access to the internet).

-:-

Official Course Description: Build the foundations for a practical philosophy. Learn how to develop and defend your own naturalistic worldview from studying and critiquing a model example, and how to employ it in your daily lives and your understanding of the world. Learn the basics of how to develop and test a philosophy of epistemology (theory of knowledge), metaphysics (theory of existence), ethics (theory of morality), aesthetics (theory of beauty), and politics (theory of government), using logical, evidence-based reasoning. Based on assigned readings, lectures, and weekly class discussion online with Dr. Carrier (Ph.D. in the history of philosophy from Columbia University).

Specific Topics Addressed Include: (1) “Naturalism, Supernaturalism, Philosophy, and Worldview Theory,” in which we learn what naturalism is, and how it differs from supernaturalism; what a worldview is, and the basics of how to think about and construct a worldview; and what philosophy is, and how to think like a philosopher. (2) “Naturalism and the Universe, Your Self, Your Mind, and Your Freedom,” in which we learn what naturalism can say about the nature and origins of existence, of the universe and all its contents, but also in particular of you as a person, and thus of consciousness, thought, and freedom (your personal autonomy). (3) “Naturalism on Morality, Society, and Politics,” in which we learn what naturalism can say about whether there is any moral or political truth, what it’s nature is, and where it comes from, and what this means for how we should strive to organize society. (4) And “Naturalism on Meaning, Purpose, and Beauty in Life,” in which we learn what naturalism can say about the meaning of life and its purpose or value, and about the nature of beauty and ugliness, and what value they have, what they signify, and where they come from.

Tuition: $59

The course could fill so register soon! Late registration is possible but not guaranteed. Let your local organizations know about this course, too. There may be other members interested!

Can Paul’s Human Jesus Not Be a Celestial Jesus?

Fake science fiction book cover showing all kinds of Buck Rogers style action scenes, and in the middle a Buck Rogers style Jesus pointing a blaster and gollowed by a similarly armed woman companion, title says the Amazing Adventures of Space Jesus. Image I believe was made by a guest blogger at The Friendly Atheist.James McGrath wrote a couple of years ago about Paul’s Human Jesus as an argument against mythicism—in particular against the Doherty thesis, which in stripped down form is what I find most likely to be true in On the Historicity of Jesus. I have noted before how McGrath makes armchair assertions without fact-checking them. Yet he represents his opinion as authoritative, giving the impression that he researched it and knows what he is talking about. As such he is deceiving his readers.

The most glaring example of this was McGrath’s face-palm-worthy assertion that only state officials commissioned inscriptions in the Greco-Roman era. Which he used to argue that Christians would never have produced inscriptions. Wow. This not only illustrates how he deceives his readers (by representing his unchecked assumptions as researched and authoritative facts), and how he is neither an expert (since he didn’t know the truth in this case, he cannot claim to be well versed in ancient history or its sources) nor reliable (since it didn’t even occur to him to check his claim before asserting it, how many other times has he done that?), but also how emotionally invested he is in dissuading people from considering even the possibility that there was no historical Jesus. Because he jumped immediately to this ridiculous, unchecked, factually false argument. Instead of just making the far more competent and level-headed argument that the earliest Christians were too poor or expecting the apocalypse too imminently to bother erecting inscriptions. A point with which I have agreed (it’s why I don’t count the absence of such inscriptions as evidence against historicity: see Chapter 8.4 of OHJ).

Instead McGrath just ran with the first thing that came into his head. And asserted it as a fact. And instantly believed it was true without even knowing if it was.

This is how a Christian apologist behaves. Not a competent and reliable expert in the matter.

He did this again in Paul’s Human Jesus. [Read more…]

Appearing in Charleston, South Carolina!

Logo for the Secular Humanists of the Low Country, showing the humanist human symbol in blue, straddled by the blue letters S and L, over a peach colored shape of the state, against a yellow background.I will be in South Carolina this February 21st (Sunday) speaking on the subject of applying Bayesian reasoning to the question whether someone existed…you know, someone like, say, Jesus. I’ll be speaking at 4pm in Gage Hall (4 Archdale Street, Charleston, SC). Open to the public. I will be selling and signing copies of my books (including for the first time a new printing of Proving History that is physically smaller and lighter, but still a hardback). We will all be having dinner after at Tasty Tai and Sushi.

My talk this time is “Applying Bayes’ Theorem to the Historicity of Jesus and Its Lessons for Critical Thought.” For the first time I will discuss both Proving History and On the Historicity of Jesus and what I have “learned from interacting with critics over adapting Bayes’ Theorem to the task of analyzing the evidence for Jesus, and how such lessons become a window to understanding Bayesian reasoning and its application to all areas of critical thinking.”

More details here.

Tucker’s Review of Proving History in the Journal History & Theory

Cropped view of the cover of a recent issue of the journal History and Theory. Subtitled: Studies in the Philosophy of History.As I recently mentioned, a Harvard University philosopher, Aviezer Tucker, just published a review of my book Proving History for the academic journal History and Theory (Vol. 55, February 2016, pp. 129-140), titled, The Reverend Bayes vs. Jesus Christ. Tucker is an expert in the methods and philosophy of history, so his review carries some weight. It’s significant, therefore, that he endorses the program of my book—that historians need to start using Bayes’ Theorem, as effectively as they can, to resolve questions in their field—and that in fact even when he criticizes my book, he does so by suggesting improvements that are either already in that book (and he merely overlooked them) or in my subsequent application of its program in its sequel, On the Historicity of Jesus. This is almost the best assessment one could expect. It lacks merely noticing that much of what he suggests, I already did. What I provide below is an analysis of his review that helps understand his points, and relates them to what I’ve already written. [Read more…]