Open thread for episode 22.10: Tracie and David Fitzgerald


Tracie is joined this week by mythicist speaker and author, David Fitzgerald.

Links to David Fitzgerald’s works

Jesus, Mything in Action Vol 1-3 on Amazon.

Kindle versions:

Special GoFundMe for ACA outreach at the American Atheist Convention

General TAE Links

General useful resources

Comments

  1. Mr. Orn Jonasar says

    For an analogy of why the “but it’s written in the bible” line doesn’t fly, many years ago my father wrote a story set in Iceland called Krummi (Crow). My mother illustrated it, the drawings of the children in it are those of my two brothers and I, the illustration of the beach from the kitchen is the view from our kitchen when I was young; from what I can remember there were other views from the place I grew up. My father could have stuffed the book full of references to actual, verifiable events but it would have changed absolutely nothing – it’s a work of fiction, plain and simple.

  2. Mr. Orn Jonasar says

    “If god is a god of faith” then he only comes into existence if you believe in him…

  3. ccarr77 says

    I had a thought earlier today about how many theists attribute their beliefs to “a feeling”. They feel that they have a personal connection with their god that they can only describe to outsiders as a feeling.
    My question is, is there a way to measure that feeling that they’re speaking of? As far as I know, all feelings, be it well being, connection, love, anger and whatever other feeling we can think of, all come from a specific chemical or combination of chemicals being released/produced in the brain.
    Also, feelings are not facts and can often lead to poor decision making.
    That being said, why can we not explain away the phenomenon of “connection with god” with a rush of dopamine in the brain, brought about by the various church rituals, singing, raising of the hands, dancing around, fellowshipping with family/friends or meeting new people who are like-minded.
    I did a quick Google search and didn’t come up with much.
    Can anyone point me to a study or a paper or something with more information I’d really appreciate it!!
    Thanks!!

  4. Experienced Atheist says

    #5 Biblethumpingwingnut’s comments about “Stephen Hawking not being grateful for God’s grace letting him live for decades longer than the doctor’s predictions” really makes me sick. Some theists really are disgusting.

  5. Evil God of the Fiery Cloud says

    Is Biblethumpingwingnut that show that Matt went on, embarrassed Matt Slick and then afterwards they were saying his arguments only sounded strong because he was being “propped up by The Enemy™”? Truth told all those channels kinda blur together after a while for me.

  6. Mark Green says

    While I appreciate listening to Fitzgerald’s knowledge concerning the historicity of Jesus, I found him to be extremely annoying on this broadcast. He not only interrupted the Christian callers consistently but also interrupted Tracy consistently as she was making cogent arguments to the callers. David, you might want to consider emulating the styles of Robert Price and, to a lesser extent, Richard Carrier, in their ability to let god believers express their points before jumping in to refute them before they’re finished expressing their positions. I like your work but believe that you could bone up on your social skills if you’re actually interested in helping people de-convert from religion.

  7. theisntist says

    It was exhilarating to watch David school theists on the contents and origins of their bible, they aren’t used to someone challenging their assertions with facts in real time. And kudos to Tracie for being cool with a diminished role even though she is the host, she saw (as did I) that David’s energy and depth of knowledge were a welcome addition to the show, and gave him a long leash. But she did maintain control as needed, especially with the caller who seemed a little too enamored of her. All in all a great show, with a different energy than any I’ve seen.

  8. t90bb says

    Powerful show….David sure knows his bible….(like Jamie a little too much interrupting)…..but they created a powerhouse tonight……..David gets a bit playful…I like it but I am sure he will be accused of mocking by theists (and others!)

    —‘the old argument about how much faith we atheists have reared it head again. handled well.

    —you have to have faith to believe…then He will show himself…but you have to be called….(lol..get the fuxk outta here).

    I loved Davids take on the religious…if religion helps you great. Just dont legislate it or make me play with your toys. And if you ask for my opinion, beware, cause I will give it!!!!

    Well done across the board tonight. Hope no one said any magic words that offended or marginalized! All sounded good to my ears!

    Good job!

  9. The Wild Monk says

    Most scholars, both atheists and theists, recognize the historical existence of Jesus. There is controversy surrounding his life and works. The validity of texts has nothing to do with authorship.

  10. t90bb says

    8. Totally agree with your synopsis…,I am usually disappointed to see a fill in or someone I am not familiar with. David was a breath of fresh air. Love to see him again.

  11. t90bb says

    10.wild monk…you say…..

    The validity of texts has nothing to do with authorship.

    I think I see your point…the events in the gospels either happened or they did not. lol. thanks! It seems to me that in the process of evaluating the likelihood they happened and were recorded accurately, authorship is an important point to consider. What other sources are available to corroborate the extraordinary acts of jesus accept for the gospels?

    but I agree…they happened or the did not happen.

    Maybe I am off base. David said he will check the blog so i am sure he will weigh in.

  12. says

    A “historical Jesus” that did not and could not have done and been what the Biblical narratives(s) claim is not really a “historical Jesus”. It’s just some guy way back when on which a whole lot of impossible mythology has been hung on. Whether or not most scholars recognize a person existed named Jesus does not mean jack if they’re not talking about the same person doing the same magical things at the same time and resurrecting, going up into the heavens and planning to come back again in the lifetime of…somefreakin’ body.

  13. Justin says

    Glad they hung up on Paul. He started out nice, but then quickly became more belligerent as the call went on. It was particularly ironic at the end of the call when he started preaching and then accused them of being rude after yelling at them for talking over him (it’s their show, pal, they can talk whenever they want) and insulting Matt and saying how glad he was that he wasn’t talking to him.

  14. Mobius says

    @1 Mr. Orn Jonasar

    My favorite go to when someone points to historical events in the Bible to claim everything in the Bible is true…Gone with the Wind relates the burning of Atlanta in the Civil War. That actually happened. That does not mean that Rhett Butler was an historical figure.

    @14 Pluto Dog

    IMHO, there may well have been an back country preacher in the first century in Judea named Jesus. (The Mythicists make a good case, but not a completely convincing one). But the stories about him have be mythologized. It is sort of like Daniel Boone, a real figure in American history. But he did not “kill him a bear when he was only three” as the legends about him claim. There is no credible provenance for the stories about Jesus. If he existed at all, the Gospels in the New Testament were first written decades after his supposed death, and the oldest copies we have of those Gospels come from more than a century after that.

  15. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @t90bb #9:

    Hope no one said any magic words that offended or marginalized!

    The previous thread explained this at length. If you still think it was about ‘magic words’, you weren’t paying attention. There was no boogeyman to push back against. Let it go.

  16. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @ccarr77 #3:

    a personal connection with their god that they can only describe to outsiders as a feeling.

     

    My question is, is there a way to measure that feeling that they’re speaking of?

    First you need to be clear they’re referring to the same phenomenon. Is it an altered state, emotion, sensation? Under what circumstances it is felt? How did they determine the connection was to God, not something else?
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Ecstacy (See also: Trance and Religious Ecstasy)
    Article: Wikipedia – Sensus Divinitatis
    Article: Wikipedia – God Helmet (meh)
    Or something more pedestrian like a sense of belonging.
     
    Tanya Luhrmann studied evangelical Vineyard church members who do imagination exercises – habitually pretending to talk to God as if it were in the room – until they can hallucinate audibly sometimes.
     

    That being said, why can we not explain away the phenomenon

    Any experience would have brain chemistry involved. “If you can tickle it, so can God,” would be the excuse.
     
    Sidestepping all that, Sean Carroll has pointed out that modern physics models leave no room for an unaccounted for force, within everyday human experience, that pushes chemicals around in our brains (beit from God, souls or otherwise).

  17. Barbara says

    A frequent feature of calls from theists involves their stating their point of view (or making a statement in the form of a question), having it rather comprehensively refuted, and then returning to it and reasserting it, sometimes in a modified form. I’d love to see a “three strikes” policy, wherein if a caller makes the same point three times, completely undeterred by rational arguments to the contrary, they are politely let go.

  18. RationalismRules says

    Major props to Tracie for great hosting – not an easy task with such a voluble (and valuable) guest. Everyone got to say their piece without being needlessly interrupted, but also without being allowed to blather on and on unchallenged. You did an exceptional job of balancing all the elements of the show.

    I enjoyed David a lot, although I felt he lost clarity at times through hitting too many points at once. But a really interesting and entertaining guest – I haven’t been particularly interested in the historicity of the NT before now, but he has definitely piqued my interest.

  19. Joakim says

    I’ve been curious about the evolution of the bible for some time. Perhaps David (or anyone else) could recommend a book that goes through the history of the bible? What parts were added and retracted etc during the course of history. He obviously touches on very specific parts of this in his books – I’d love to read them. But I would like to have a more of an overview and general description of the editing of the bible. Not only with focus on Jesus.

    Thanks from Sweden!

  20. Greg Bishop says

    Okay! Greg Bishop from Vancouver, Canada… Long time listener… I look forward to each episode!

    Tonight’s episode… With Guest host David Fitzgerald… Possibly the best episode EVER! I was VERY impressed! (Don’t get me wrong… I’m a big Tracie Harris fan and always enjoy her style of reasoning with callers) but tonight, she just didn’t have a chance to get a word in edgewise!

    It was a strange combination of callers whose arguments meshed so beautifully with the guest’s expertise that she just had to sit back and watch!

    David was not on my radar before tonight… After tonight, I plan to read all his books! Very impressed!

    Best wishes to all… not just the hosts and guests but the volunteers who make this show happen every week. Thank you!

    If I ever happen to travel to Austin, I’d love to attend a live show and would definitely join you at Star of India afterwards!

    XOXO

    Greg

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To RationalismRules
    While he may be a bad human being, Richard Carrier is AFAIK still the foremost expert on such things, and I strongly encourage his books and lectures on Youtube.

  22. Stefan Athanasiadis says

    Please, either don’t invite David Fitzgerald back or keep him on point. It’s incredible how he responds to an argument by connecting it to another related point ad nauseam. And nobody can get a word in. Poor Tracie. She’s usually the talkative one but she sort of looked shell-shocked. This isn’t a criticism on the weight of David’s arguments. He’s on target. But frankly, he needs to learn to keep his mouth closed and listen.

  23. t90bb says

    17. SKY. thanks for the lecture teach!,, I’ll remove the word magic for ya. It was used sarcastically but it seems it went over your head. I do not believe in magic or the boogeyman. But I will correct,,,, Hope no one found any words offensive or marginalizing! If you want to skip my posts feel free! I’m absolutely fine with that!

    I am glad to see people appreciating the job Tracie did this week. Letting David have his way with the first caller was interesting to watch….

    I find theists have a pattern with respect to the authorship of the gospels…

    1. Claim they have good reason to believe were written by actual eyewitnesses/apostles etc. They will fight tooth and nail but when they realize they cannot support this claim they will jump to……

    2. Claim that WE cannot prove they were not written by…………lol……when its pointed out that no one can prove authorship hence….they are anonymous…… they usually after a long fight go with……

    3. IT DOES NOT MATTER who wrote them because they are true and written at the dictate of God …. the physical authorship is utterly unimportant and irrelevant…..which is interesting because they fight so hard on their original claim (#1).

    Like so many things, theists make so many claims..usually expecting/hoping what they so to go unchallenged
    Like the Bible is actually “GOOD NEWS” or that the God of the Bible is such a loving character

    I certainly hope that David joins us on the blog. I also hope that some of the callers join us as well..

    Hope everyone is well.

  24. says

    I appreciate all of the work that David Fitzgerald has done in his life to get to where he is today. However, his ability to completely stifle discourse is astounding. He constantly talks over everyone, EVERYONE;. He literally took control of the show until Tracie FINALLY interjected herself, near the end. I thought this episode was one of the WORST ever and I have watched most of the 900 or so that have been produced. Tracie is a gem and it is a shame her time was wasted today, at least from my perspective. I do not tune in to listen to the Guest host of the week.. I would never again waste 5 minutes listening to David Fitzgerald in any environment on any topic. Perhaps reading one of his books is more rewarding, unless he constantly interrupts the reading experience as well. Some people just can’t stand not hearing themselves talk…..

  25. says

    @Joakim – Check out Bart Ehrman’s books. He is mainly focused on the evolution of the New Testament, but handles it in a way you’re describing. He’s also very readable.

  26. says

    And as a follow up to the audience: I did pass on the blog link to David, so he has it now. I’ve moderated new comments twice so far, but I haven’t seen anything yet from the caller Andrew, who was the one I suggested address his questions to David here.

  27. Bathrobe_Atheist says

    ya plz dont have this guy back on the show. he never lets the callers finish their point or even make a point without interrupting and going on for minutes at a time.
    i respect his knowledge but this just got annoying very fast.

  28. t90bb says

    Thank you Tracie!!!! You were great this week! (as usual!)

    Well…not surprised,,,as I predicted David is getting some criticism. It seems like you loved him…or..ya know. I personally thought he was fantastic. He could have dropped it down a notch here or there but Im giving him a SOLID A.

    Would LOVE to see him on again….. .

  29. gshelley says

    The argument “well, you accept x with evidence just as bad so you should accept Jesus” is very common but flawed.
    Even if it turned out to be right, they have the conclusion backwards. If it turned out that some widely accepted historical figure had no good evidence they were real, the conclusion should be “well, we can’t be certain they existed. Maybe we can look at the sources see if they would have had reasons for inventing him”

  30. John Garcia says

    I have to echo some of the comments about Mr. Fitzgerald. Maybe it’s just my perception but it seems Tracie always gets a co-host who interrupts her and speaks over her, or tried to joke their way through the episode. I always feel bad for Tracie but she seems to work through it as best she can.

    Enjoyed the first call and response from David, though.

  31. Huginn says

    David Fitzgerald was really entertaining and Tracie Harris never ceases to impress, but what I found most admirable was the self-control the audience and the crew were able to muster when confronted with “the feathers”. I take my hat off to all of you! Rude? I think NOT!

  32. paxoll says

    I think for the caller talking about faith being the same for everyone and everything, different types of faith should have been given as examples. Such as faith the chair will hold you is based on past experience, faith that your partner is not cheating, and then do some levels of confidence and the importance of that belief to your reality.

    It is nice having an “expert” on a topic on the show, but David was very unfocused and it was nearly impossible to understand his references and train of thoughts when they had little to no explanation. The unreliability of the bible as a historical document can be boiled down and presented in a straight forward and simple manner, details demonstrating multiple types of reasons not to trust the material should not be a never ending set of tangents. They should be provided in a well explained list related back to the original points. Its a huge topic and specific beliefs need to be fully explained and explored before moving on.

  33. Serge Rubinstein says

    When I was in a belgian state high school, I got punished fort having doubted of the historic jesus. That country has had over a century of conflict between official and religious schools. a compromise was done in 1956. But they are scared that it will burn up again. so, there’s no question of doubting about the hsitorical jesus in History lesson, that could lead to protests.
    I often read on the web that even secular historians support the historical Jesus. I would like to know who they are if we except Bart Ehrman.

  34. Joe says

    Let us consider the historicity of …. the Alamo!

    We all know the story. March 6, 1836 the Alamo fell to the Mexican Army. Did Davy Crockett die:
    [1] as Walt Disney showed Crockett going down swinging his rifle?
    [2] as John Wayne (God Bless John Wayne! Peace be Upon Him!) showed Crockett going down while blowing up the powder keg room?
    [3] as De La Pena, a lieutenant in the Mexican Army (who was actually there), wrote later that Crockett was captured (along with a few others) and then some time later executed on orders from General Santa Anna?
    [4] as Susanna Dickenson indicated, he died during the battle inside the Alamo near the South Wall?

    The point is that we know with fatalistic certainty that a Davy Crockett really existed less than 200 years ago (NOT 2000 years ago). We even have portraits of him (he was a former member of Congress). Yet with all this we can’t really say how he died.

    This is all relevant because — in my humble opinion — I don’t see how historians can say one way or the other with, say, 51/49 odds that Jesus was historical/not historical.

    It all seems to be a terrible waste of human capital, people like David Fitzgerald are wasting valuable brain power on this topic. However, as a proponent of the free market, if there is a market for this, then so be it.

  35. t90bb says

    35. pax..

    The free flowing show is not a venue for a bullet point presentation. I must have watched a different episode. The blogs for several theist forums blew up after David destroyed the first caller. Do you think they were upset because David was unfocused?? LOL…

  36. Ael says

    First time poster, long time listener.

    On the one hand, I can understand what many comments say here, that David tends to wrestle control over the conversations and lead them off track. On the other hand, I do not think that warrants he never be allowed on the show again, as some comments have suggested. David is not the only person to constantly interrupt callers/hosts, and I do not think interrupting is necessarily a bad thing. Some points aren’t worth the time of day they are given. Some thoughts are worthy of ridicule.

    And I get the impression that David was treating the show as an organic conversation. He interjects naturally (in my interpretation anyway) in places one might organically comment or interject in a normal conversation. If he needs to tone it down a bit because people view the interjections as disrupting calls, that kind of behavior can be coached. What I am saying is I would rather hear from him than not from him.

  37. paxoll says

    @t90bb since I dont know what forums you are talking about, I will guess they blew up because they had objections to what was said and as I pointed out the unfocused rambling made those objections not just possible, but plausible. If a single idea was unpacked and fully exposed, then the same arguments would probably be able to be applied to many other of the details.

  38. Jeff Webb says

    David,

    I just finished old Bart Ehrman New Testament class (again), where he says the book of John did not use other synoptic gospels as sources, yet you state that it does. Can you point to evidence of where John uses other Gospel texts as sources.

  39. Nazzul says

    Great show! Mr. Fitzgerald was an absolute joy to watch, and I feel Tracie did a wonderful job reigning him in when it was necessary. I feel like Tracie was the perfect host with David as he had a tendency to take control of the conversation and keep going with the caller until Tracie interjected. The first call could have taken the whole show and I am glad Tracie stopped it when it did. I really hope to see more of David, by chance does he have any other Debates/talks with Christians?

  40. elizabeth1 says

    If David Fitzgerald is still answering questions – do you have a brief explanation of the impetus to create Christianity? If there was no historical Jesus, not even one of the jillions of “messiahs” that were wandering around Judea at that time, what was the trigger for this movement? Why all these people writing gospels and epistles? (Please note, I am not a theist – it just seems like, much like the theists say about the Big Bang or abiogenesis : D, SOMETHING had to start this, and I would be fascinated to know what it was.)

  41. Thomas Haney says

    I love to hear Tracie ask questions! I have learned so much about why ‘belief’ (in the religious sense) makes no sense. She is very good at pointing out the falsehoods of christianity that I remember hearing and not buying into as early as 5 years old.
    David Fitzgeralds Nailed was great and ordered all 3 of the series!
    Another great episode thanks to all.

    Tom from Oceanside, CA

  42. Roman says

    Read all of Fitzgerald‘s books. It was an unexpected pleasure to find him here, co-hosting with Tracie. Intelligent, knowledgeable comments, good discussion, it would be fabulous to see him back here for another session.

  43. says

    Hey all!
    Sincerely, thank you for the kind words and all the feedback, both positive and, um, less-positive… = P
    First of all, I TOTALLY hear you, and I really do promise next time I will dial down my auto-response mode a bit more — but guys, I have to tell you, being on TAE live is SO friggin’ exciting, it’s hard not to want to say ALL THE THINGS!

    Thank again to the awesome Tracie Harris for having me on (and reining me in!), and huge thanks again to Black Belt Show Producer Mark Vandebrake, Production Guru Vern Graner, and the rest of the expert TAE crew for enabling, I mean, hosting me!
    All the best,
    -Dave Fitzgerald

  44. dustnite says

    The caller talking about “feathers” and how “rude” Tracie and David are needs to get off his high horse and try to come up with a point before calling. He strongly implied that he’s a creationist by “not believing in evolution” so I already suspect that this person is dishonest. However, when you call a show with none of your points lined up, you are in fact being “rude” by wasting other people’s valuable time.

    Btw, I have read all of David Fitzgerald’s books as I’m highly tuned into the biblical literacy scene and debate. Great seeing him on the show and I enjoy his energy and exuberance. Please have him back on!

  45. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @RationalismRules #21:

    I haven’t been particularly interested in the historicity of the NT before now, but he has definitely piqued my interest.

     
    EnlightenmentLiberal #25:

    Richard Carrier is AFAIK still the foremost expert on such things, and I strongly encourage his books and lectures on Youtube.

    heicart #29:

    Check out Bart Ehrman’s books.

     
    Seconded!
    If you’re into audio, there’s an Ehrman lecture series on the making of NT Canon here.

  46. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Jeff Webb #42:

    I just finished old Bart Ehrman New Testament class (again), where he says the book of John did not use other synoptic gospels as sources, yet you state that it does. Can you point to evidence of where John uses other Gospel texts as sources.

     
    Video: Jeremy Beahan (Reasonable Doubts) at CFI – Which Jesus? (54:20)

    This lecture will examine some of the methods used in redaction criticism and the patterns they reveal when applied to the gospels.

     

    (35:53): John is quite different. Although it does talk about similar stories, it uses entirely different language, so scholars speculate that John didn’t have access to the synoptics. But since they do have some stories in common, this might indicate that they were all aware of an oral tradition that they shared. [He then lists stories shared/absent in John.]

    * Audio with Q&A is buried in the Reasonable Doubts podcast feed
    * Ehrman is among the sources cited at the end.

  47. t90bb says

    47. David….thank you so much for co hosting. I was grinning from ear to ear listening to you. I am going to order your books.

    Please dont take some of the criticism here too hard….There are some here that would find fault with Jesus Christ. THATS A JOKE!!!

    You were beyond fantastic in my book!

  48. t90bb says

    41…Pax….

    “.I will guess they blew up because they had objections to what was said and as I pointed out the unfocused rambling made those objections not just possible, but plausible. If a single idea was unpacked and fully exposed, then the same arguments would probably be able to be applied to many other of the details,”

    umm geez…..he was on for a free flowing talk. If you want a step by step case then maybe you (we) should read his books…

    do you think its possible those forums were upset because David expressed himself so well they felt butt hurt?? I find the more theists thoughts are really threatened the more they complain…lol. Lots of Christians have been taught from infancy that the Gospels are first hand accounts written by actual eyewitnesses (if not disciples). Its a shock to their system to hear an alternative.

    I think I listened to a different show than you. But I guess thats what makes this blog fun….different opinions.

  49. t90bb says

    GOOD to see David made it past moderation!!! I thought it was 50/50!!!!!…..The gangs all here!

  50. says

    @The Wild Monk 11.
    @t90bb 12., 13.
    The Wild Monk says:
    “Most scholars, both atheists and theists, recognize the historical existence of Jesus. There is controversy surrounding his life and works. The validity of texts has nothing to do with authorship.”

    t90bb says
    “Totally agree with your synopsis…,I am usually disappointed to see a fill in or someone I am not familiar with. David was a breath of fresh air. Love to see him again.
    (To The Mad Monk) I think I see your point [that the validity of texts has nothing to do with authorship -DF].…the events in the gospels either happened or they did not. lol. thanks! It seems to me that in the process of evaluating the likelihood they happened and were recorded accurately, authorship is an important point to consider. What other sources are available to corroborate the extraordinary acts of jesus accept for the gospels? but I agree…they happened or the did not happen.Maybe I am off base. David said he will check the blog so i am sure he will weigh in.

    * * *
    DF:
    Here I am!
    First, as I make clear in JESUS: MYTHING IN ACTION, the fact that the majority of biblical scholars accept an historical Jesus is not surprising at all, given the extremely unusual nature of the sub-field of biblical history. Even among secular biblical scholars, religious presuppositions have always pervaded the entire field – as many scholars, Christian and secular alike – have noted. And how could it be otherwise? The study conducted in J:MIA points out that the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars are contractually obligated to publicly reject mythicism, and that the situation continues to worsen as increasingly, the only schools who even offer classes relating to biblical/NT/Jesus studies are religiously affiliated ones…
    That said, even among secular scholars who reject the “Jesus of Faith,” but still hold there must have been a real Jesus of some sort, there is no consensus of who or what that Jesus was, and what he really said or did, and how much of our gospels are purely myths about such a figure, and which parts reflect the “real Jesus.” I joke that if you put 50 Jesus scholars in the room, they will be talking about 50 different Jesuses #KiddingNotKidding

    And I should stress that it’s not JUST the high-end miracles and big-ticket items in Jesus’ resume that have fallen under suspicion from biblical historians; even many of the most mundane “facts” from JC’s bio have come into question. For those that accept the “Historical Quest” paradigm, we have just come of the Third great Historical Quest for Jesus, and are now back at square one again – just as we were after the last two, when historians (believers and non-believers alike) threw up their hands and bemoaned that, once again, all the tools of criteria to get at the “Real Jesus” were fatally flawed (see Richard Carrier’s book Proving History or my J:MIA for details) It really is mind-blowing for this to be the case in ANY field of history, but as many commenters have long noted, biblical studies has never been a normal field of history…
    Have to run – More later!
    All the best,
    -DF

    Read more: https://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2018/03/18/open-thread-for-episode-22-10-tracie-and-david-fitzgerald/#ixzz5AENivs1P

  51. The Sparrow says

    Good show. I enjoyed it. David (dialed back just a bit) would make a good part of your rotating host duties.

  52. coffeemachtspass says

    Question for David Fitzgerald.

    On page 54 of Nailed, you cite Edward Gibbon as saying disdainfully that “what can be gleaned of Eusebius does not endear him to modern scholars”. I’ve sought high and low for the source of this quote in The Rise and Fall… and in Robin Lane Fox’s work (which are cited in the same section of your book. Even a Google search has only returned a result from Nailed itself.

    Could you please give a source; I’m interested in Gibbon’s writings and context.

    -Thanks

  53. says

    @The Wild Monk

    “Most scholars, both atheists and theists, recognize the historical existence of Jesus. There is controversy surrounding his life and works. The validity of texts has nothing to do with authorship.”

    Actually, as I understand it, authorship is very important to the veracity of historical documents, so much so that historians tend to discount sources from anonymous authors.

    I also think that up until about the past 20 years or so, it was, as other people have previously said, a presupposition of our culture that historically Jesus actually existed. I myself only even considered the idea that Jesus didn’t even exist may 5 years ago tops. It’s a very strong presupposition in our society.

    @David Fitzgerald

    Thank you for your appearance on the show. I think you will find that the people bagging your appearance are what’s known as “concern trolls”. Most of the names that are posting that they didn’t like your style I have never seen post here before (I haven’t been following this blog that long, but long enough to see who regularly posts).

    No one seems to mind the bombastic style of Matt Dillahunty, and in fact I would contend that it is he who made the show what it is. I think that saying negative things about your style might be considered by some to be a strategy to shut down what they think is a very threatening message to them.

  54. says

    Best show yet! And I’ve been watching for years. I know I don’t have a vote, but I’d love to see David as a regular host in the rotation.

  55. Hoosh says

    Having been forced into the church and its indoctrination’s at a young age by my parents, I most certainly appreciated David’s biblical knowledge. While I love the typical Sunday show, I really liked how David used his knowledge of (outside of the Bible) key historical figures to take down most assertions of the callers. I would eagerly tune in again if I knew he was coming back.

    Btw, I wonder if, after getting shut down, there were any feathers found yesterday for a certain caller?!?

  56. leontiev says

    Agree that David needs to dial it back a bit. But he’s a smart guy and will know how to use the criticism expressed here to his benefit. I am amazed at the excitement and enthusiasm he demonstrates for this subject. He’s been doing this stuff a long time but he acts like he just stumbled across a treasure chest. Very enjoyable and contagious.

  57. Stephanie says

    David Fitzgerald was nice to watch and learn from. A lot of the stuff he’d talk about did end up being past my understanding, but I appreciated the show as it is. I was slightly disconcerted at the amount of interrupting, and jumping around on topics (at least by my perspective) however some points aren’t worth the time and I did get the sense of it just being a natural discussion. I think I’m just not used to so much energy and enthusiasm from a new guest appearance on the show, and as I was able to adjust to it, I really do think David should come back again.

    While the debate over Jesus may be interesting to some, I still end up being somewhat bored by it. Because there is still the lack of evidence for the God claims. Prove Jesus was a man that existed and all that, ok so now what? Does that make him a deity or part of one? It’s neat to know some of the history and learn how the bible was put together, and I’m sure others will be more interested in that topic than I am.

    Overall, enjoyable episode and many thanks to the hosts and team.

  58. says

    I personally think that it is irrelevant whether or not Jesus exists. If he exists I’m not a Christian. If he doesn’t exist I’m not a Christian.

    However, I do think that it is a very interesting idea and worthy of investigation.

  59. Evil God of the Fiery Cloud says

    I’m inclined to agree with Shaun here. My disregard for Christianity has nothing to do with the existence or non-existence of a historical Jesus. Even if one could be proven to exist, I’d certainly reject his divinity. However, like most I long took for granted the existence of a Historical Jesus and can to this day here my mother’s voice ringing in my ear “even the Jews recorded him.”
    However, as I got older I’d learn that maybe alot of these sources weren’t quite as cut and dried as I’d been led to believe. Josephus was the big one for me where I was like “well obviously THIS doesn’t belong here…” Of the various early non-Christian sources the only one that still leaves me scratching my chin is the Annals of Tacitus.
    One thing I find alternately amusing and distressing is that a name that comes up alot in discussions about whether or not Jesus was real is Gregory Boyd, who came onto my radar when my Ma had me read Letters From a Skeptic to try to wing me back to the Faith. That book had some of the most laughably bad apologetics I’ve ever encountered and I recall aggravating my Ma because where she hoped I’d see good arguments for Christianity I saw a man at the end of his life looking for any excuse to bond with his son, but that’s neither here nor there. Not to be committing the genetic fallacy or anything, but it’s a knee jerk for me where I see Boyd’s name on a position and then am instantly like “oh, then this is obviously bullshit.” But even a broken clock is right twice a day and shit can’t always be discounted just because it comes from a someone I consider an idiot.
    Richard Carrier came onto my radar a few years ago and I watched alot of his vids. I find alot of his arguments to be very compelling, but I’m somewhat suspicious of his early dating of the Ascension of Isaiah as some of the more out there things he espouses seem predicated on it and I’m not sure how much support he has for it. While I won’t say I’ve completely accepted the mythicist position it might be safe to say that functionally I have. Usually I just say I’m not all that confident that Jesus existed, but I’m generally willing to accept that there was a dude or dudes walking around the Holy Land at the time on whom the legends are based for the sake of argument.

  60. says

    @Evil God

    Richard Carrier has some very compelling arguments for the mythicist position. It is his work that first really got me interested in the idea.

    It was also through his work that I find out that most historians now believe Moses to be a mythical figure. I didn’t actually know that previously.

    Now at the moment, the Jesus mythicist position is an outlier, just like the Moses mythicist position used to be. This suggests as time goes by and more and more historians drop any presupposition of the existence of Jesus and simply examine the evidence for and against his existence, we may see that view become mainstream as wall.

  61. Robert, not Bob says

    What concerns me about secular historians accepting-even insisting on-the existence of a real human Jesus is that they’re accepting what’s clearly extremely poor evidence (the Gospels, which is all there is). If they’re willing to lower their standards that far, a lot of accepted history could be nonsense.

  62. says

    @Robert, not Bob

    I’m thinking that this is one big blind spot. I don’t think they lower standards for anything other than Jesus. Seems strange in fact that they are so willing to change those standards for Jesus, but I guess that is the strength of the presupposition in our culture.

  63. Mobius says

    @ David F

    Have you considered making short videos, each on a specific topic within Mythicism? I would enjoy seeing such.

  64. elcabong says

    I thought it was a special treat to see David on the show, but I have to say, this show left me disappointed. It seemed like an almost total waste of his expertise and scholarship. It reminded me a lot of when you had Richard Carrier on, and most of the time with him was wasted listening to someone woman in Fla babble on incessantly about some mindless pointless drivel.

    The best part of the show was in the beginning when Tracey discussed his work. Only one caller seemed to know anything about his work or even be about to discuss it. The other callers all droned on forever about their boring life stories that had little relevance to anything.

    I do give kudos to Tracey for setting straight the “creepy” guy who kept saying, “…I was I could just talk to Tracey.” But, I would like to say as strictly very constructive criticism, that you guys really need a moderator that can hang up on the droning babblers and move the show along! Even though I love the show and fully support your effort, it is just so annoying to see the likes of David totally wasted on chronic diarrhea of the mouth babblers who have never read or studied anything and really have absolutely nothing to say!

    It would’ve been a much better show to skip the callers entirely and just have a panel or something discuss the pros and cons of David’s work. At least then your audience might have learned something. Sorry to be harsh, but only trying to help improve a show that I love.

  65. Grantus Maximus says

    Having just listened to the show, I think David F has a lot of very interesting points to make, and his knowledge is undeniable, but he does need to dial back his propensity to talk over *everyone*. It was along the lines of an amphetamine rant at times, which isn’t generally condusive to good discussion.

    One point that I’m not sure was made adequately is that atheists etc. aren’t necessarily accepting that there probably was a Jesus, but rather that it’s not that much of a big deal if there was. It’s the leap to that person, if he did exist, being the son of God that’s where any discussion of value would be.

  66. says

    Joakim says:
    22. I’ve been curious about the evolution of the bible for some time. Perhaps David (or anyone else) could recommend a book that goes through the history of the bible? What parts were added and retracted etc during the course of history. He obviously touches on very specific parts of this in his books – I’d love to read them. But I would like to have a more of an overview and general description of the editing of the bible. Not only with focus on Jesus.
    Thanks from Sweden!
    * * *
    @Jaokim:
    Great minds DO think alike! There are lots of pretty dry scholarly works that have tried to tackle various aspects of that huge jungle of a question, but it’s easier to identify the changes than to pinpoint when and where they happened… Not to be a big promo whore, but I did write JESUS: MYTHING In Action , and esp. J:MIA book three ( “The Gospel According to H. G. Wells”) because I wanted to try and give readers a feel for what some of that evolutionary process looked like – and how messy and uncoordinated it was. You might indeed want to give them a read… No pressure! = )
    Tack så mycket!
    All the best,
    -D

  67. Evil God of the Fiery Cloud says

    One of the arguments that’s always amused me, which I think was even brought up in this episode but not dwelt on for any great time, is the one put forward by Christians that the evidence for Jesus is just as good, if not better, than other historical figures like Socrates, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, in the case of this episode Emperor Tiberius now that I think about it, etc. Even if that were true (and I don’t accept for one minute that it is), it’s kinda a different thing entirely. Alexander the Great for instance had claims of divinity and magical adventures attributed to him, not unlike. While his existence is a closed matter for historians, it is NOT accepted that he was ACTUALLY the Son of Zeus.
    However, in the case of Jesus it’s often said that since we accept all these other guys, it’s dishonest not to take Jesus’s existence as a given and accept the truth of the Gospels in matters regarding him, including and ESPECIALLY the divine matters. It’s a rather astounding leap that takes me aback whenever I encounter it.
    An amusing aside was recorded by Plutarch where one of Alexander’s junior commanders, one Onesicritus was reading his telling of Alexander’s visit by the Queen of the Amazons to King Lysimachus of Thrace who (I think unknown to him) was actually WITH Alexander at the time this was supposed to have happened. After Onesicritus finished, Lysimachus laughed and said something like “I wonder where I was when all this happened.” True or no, the story does highlight an amusing tendency that people tried to get away with even back then of “not letting the truth get in the way of a good story.”

  68. says

    Hey all:
    Thanks again everyone for all the kind words and helpful criticism! I’m flying back home today, but I’ll get to more of the responses as soon as time allows.
    -D

    PS Hey, in the meantime: if any of you are science fiction fans, (and again, not to be a total promo whore, but…)
    I think you might also enjoy our new trilogy TIME SHARDS (Titan UK, 2018) – Check it out!

    https://www.amazon.com/Time-Shards-Dana-Fredsti/dp/1785654527/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

  69. RobPlutonium says

    David F- I’ve been watching you for a few years on YT now, and really appreciate the enthusiasm and deep interest you bring to the information you present. I would love to see you as a semi-regular host on AEx because you bring so much energy and empathy and insight into the discussion. I might add that having another person on the show with almost encyclopedic knowledge of the Christian Bible is a good thing. You can almost instantaneously defuse any “the Bible says” comments right on the spot.

  70. Bender says

    @David and @Future Co-Hosts

    This is my first post to the blog and basically in response to the last couple of co-hosts and hopefully some constructive criticism going forward. I won’t pretend to know what it is like in the studio, or how nervous people can be etc. I’m sure its difficult doing something new etc., but here is some feed back
    *
    1. Take the show seriously and treat it seriously. There are times for joking around but not all the time. It was very hard to watch this show because David constantly was interjecting things, many times off topic, or in the middle of Tracie talking, or trying to finish the caller’s sentences. A perfect example of this was near the end, I think David interjected 3 times in about 10 seconds while Tracie was making a point, something about Arming teachers (off topic), then this is the Trump world we live in (off topic), then something about us all moving to Denmark (off topic).
    **
    **
    2. Sit forward and look at the camera. This is something I learned when I used to interview. I’m a very casual person and I used to put my arm up on the chair or slouch etc. Notice how Matt and Tracey face the camera with the arms and body forward and are engaged. I get that new co-hosts might not know how to ‘be’ on camera, but this is something the hosts could help with, with a little prep and some advice.
    **
    **
    3. Stick to what you know. You are on the show for a reason. You have something important to say about a particular subject. This is your time to shine and help people understand who you are and how you can help. David I did find your early comments on the history of Jesus and the bible informative.
    **
    **
    Thanks

  71. Nicholas Lougee says

    I love this show, and admire very deeply each of the hosts. I have appreciated every guest speaker as well, but this one became more and more difficult to appreciate as the episode progressed. David Fitzgerald is an amazing biblical scholar, but his conversational style is very distracting. He interrupts too much, and does not share conversational space very well. Tracie handled it well, as always. David’s monologue was fascinating, and his scholarship admirable, but for the entirety of the episode involving callers, I found myself wishing he would talk less and be more generous with the conversational space. That is the nicest way I can express my ongoing frustration with his interruptions and general attempts to dominate the conversation. Tracie’s grace and persistence held the episode together.

  72. John Chilton says

    I thought that David was clearly very prepared and researched and he certainly had a lot to say. On the one hand, it was very interesting to hear his thoughts and that would be something worth listening to quite a few times. On the other hand, we also needed to hear more from those calling in.
    It would have been very good if David had allowed a little more talking from the callers (especially Andrew) and then challenged him on the details and focused on pushing through to the truth or not, of his arguments.

  73. t90bb says

    78. Nicholas….seems like people loved him or you hated him…..I enjoyed it very much and several posters considered it one of the very best episodes EVER. Its not Davids fault he came armed to do battle. Sure he was a bit over amped. Even he said so….But it was such a joy to watch!!!!!! I only wish it was a 5 hour episode!!!!

    They were a powerhouse team!!!!

  74. Fredo says

    I would like to add my voice to those that thought Mr. Fitzgerald was a great resource but was annoying when dealing with callers. I plan to read his books, and would love to attend a lecture on his expertise, but taking callers that didn’t want to talk about his subject expertise he should have Tracie lead the conversation. Talking over callers, interjecting every thought that came into his head just got tiresome. It did not seem like a dialogue at all. It seemed more like Mr Fitzgerald just couldn’t wait to speak and hear his own voice. Chalk it up to jitters, excitement, or whatever but it got very annoying. IMO this was NOT one of the better shows.

    The fact that Tracie was so quiet throughout the majority of the show was telling. If Mr. Fitzgerald could take a bigger cue from her and LISTEN to the callers the experience for everyone (hosts, callers and viewing audience) would be much better.

  75. Ricardo Nuno says

    David Fitzgerald was great, I’ve learned a lot with him. It was his first time on the show and I hope to see him again soon.

  76. jacobfromlost says

    Mark me down as a vote in favor of David. I love all the hosts and their various ways to communicate, but David always cut right to the point very quickly and effectively throughout the show. His interrupting is fine with me since it was clarifying and adding information every single time. Occasionally a couple of hosts will start to ramble, start a sentence, stop, start a different sentence, stop, finish a different sentence they never started, pause, allow the caller to interrupt and go on and on with no evidence at all, etc.

    Say what you will about David, he was always clear, well spoken, insightful, and knowledgeable. This was the most entertainment I’ve every had in and hour and a half on youtube for free! (Dial it back sometimes for some people? Maybe. But also dial it UP for some people, sometimes. It was really, really fun to listen to.)

  77. RationalismRules says

    OT, I’ve just read that Stephen Hawking’s ashes will be interred in Westminster Abbey, alongside Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and other science greats. This raises an interesting question: if you were a great scientist, but anti-religion, would you reject (in advance, presumably) the offer of being buried in such auspicious company because it is in a church? And not just any church, but the one that most embodies the intertwining of church and state in the UK.

    It’s probably not that big a conundrum in Hawking’s case, as his attitude to religion appears to have been more that it was superseded and irrelevant, rather than being actively anti-religion like, say, Richard Dawkins or Stephen Fry.

    For myself, one part of me says I want absolutely no religion anywhere near my funeral, and another part of me says who cares, I’ll be dead.

  78. Evil God of the Fiery Cloud says

    If I were a genius of Hawking’s caliber, I don’t see it being that big a deal. That’s some rather august company for yer remains to be among and I think that would probably supersede any distaste I’d have regarding the church.
    Course for myself I’d rather like a Viking funeral. Big party, lots of drinking and singing. Burn my body on a ship, maybe with my weapons, sacrificed slave girls… Seems a good way to go. 😛
    Of course, as ye said at the end of the day I doubt he really gives a shit. What with being dead and all.

  79. indianajones says

    For mine RR, it seems to me that the funeral and whatever after is about the family and loved ones of the deceased. Whatever makes them happy. I have told folks to either leave me out with the 6 monthly hard rubbish collection, or fire me out of a cannon, or whatever else they feel like doing.

  80. Gary Z says

    I also really enjoyed this episode and like others this is my first time posting to the blog. I first learned of David when I heard him on Seth Andrews’ The Thinking Atheist show in 2014, which I highly recommend people listen to if you’re interested.
    .
    TTA Podcast 198: The Question of Christ
    Published on Dec 22, 2014
    “Is there any evidence for a real Jesus? Was Jesus’ story borrowed from earlier religions and cultures? Is Jesus really the reason for the Christmas season, which is being celebrated globally this week? In this podcast, Seth Andrews speaks to three historians who have dedicated much of their lives and writings to the subject of Christ and Christianity: Dr. Richard Carrier, David Fitzgerald and Dr. Robert M. Price.”
    .
    I think that we should doubt that Jesus existed for many reasons, but a big one for me is because of what we DIDN’T hear from him. If Elon Musk could go back 2000 years, merely as a man with no claims of deity, and tell people how the world works, it would have sparked a revolution of improvements that would have changed the course of history. Instead, we got our one chance (and what says that it needs to be just one chance in the first place, with no return visits to keep in touch) for “god” to send his “son” to earth and he completely blows the opportunity to improve our lives.
    .
    Jesus wasn’t even consistent in his supposed wisdom, such as magically knowing that the woman at the well had been married five times and yet being *surprised* (should he have ever been surprised about anything?) that it wasn’t the time of year for a fig tree to have fruit. He could have said “I heal your diseases with my touch but here are some facts about bacteria and how to make penicillin that will save millions of lives when I’m gone.” He could have pointed out that the earth orbits around the sun (spoiler alert to some callers to the Atheist Experience) so that Galileo would not have been persecuted for that fact years later. He could have debunked spontaneous generation so that we would have started avoiding diseases through improved sanitation right away instead of waiting another 1800 years for Mr. Pasteur to come along.
    .
    There should have been a tremendous amount of scientific knowledge transfer by virtue of Jesus’ supposed powers and his connection to the big guy in the sky. He either blew it or he never existed. Either way, there’s nothing here that is worthy of worship.

  81. Xairo says

    First time I write here, I just wanted to say that although I love Tracy, she is one of my favorites, David was amazing! The knowledge plus the passion made a fantastic program! Please put him more often 😊
    Greetings from Germany.

  82. t90bb says

    Also off topic…

    I have been engaged in a conversation with Todd F. of “Wetched” u tube. The opener of out dialogue had Todd ask me “so why are you a non believer, fiend?”.

    When I asked whether he was referring to God generally of Christianity specifically?? He played the bullshit card straight away. He said something like, “well lets go with Christianity since everyone already knows there is a god” and “denying there is a Creator is the most ridiculous position ever”..

    When I told him that claiming he can get in my head would be as ridiculous as me claiming that HE already knew the God idea was used just to overcome fear of the unknown…….he said “well I am just telling you what the Bible says”.

    After I told him that the Bible was the claim, not the evidence…he backed away from the conversation entirely.

    Its very interesting that as you have more and more of these conversations how predictably scripted they become.

    Todd recently posted a video about the atheists mention that those that found themselves in heaven would feel badly that those they loved that not had been saved where being tortured forever as they sat in heaven eating candy without getting fat and polishing gods nails (ok I made that part up, lol)., The point Todd was trying to make is that when they reached heaven and could see the situation from there….they would clearly see that those in hell, loved ones or not. were so vile and filthy that they deserved such infinite brutality. Todd is one sick son of a bitch..

    Apologists know no limits to make their holy books seem legit and sensible. I know I am preaching to the choir here (mostly).

  83. jrdenn81 says

    I’ve never committed before..just long time reader of FTB and listener of TAE . However this was the first time I literally fast forwarded all the way through hoping that I could hear more from Tracie. I am usually checking the clock to see how much time is left as I don’t want it to end. But I love hearing Tracie fault but she was completely silent and treated like a potted plant by David. I do like Mr. Fitzgerald I have purchased his books, but he rambled and rambled incessantly nearly taking the show completely off the rails. Tracie luckily held it together as best as she could. Watching for as long as I have it even looked like the unflappable Mrs. Harris was getting annoyed. I’ve never seen her so that dour before.

    At any rate I love TAE as you guys do a fantastic job and the TAE is what gave me the confidence to become comfortable with my atheism and let me me know that I’m not alone. Thanks for everything you do!

  84. t90bb says

    90 jr…u say…

    “But I love hearing Tracie fault but she was completely silent and treated like a potted plant by David. I do like Mr. Fitzgerald”

    Now that is the kind of statement I have come to expect from theists!! LOL….David has already admitted he was a bit too amped on adrenaline, And i do think a few times Tracie became a bit flustered and possibly irritated. But David had so much good stuff I think she decided to let him ride it out. Watching David wreck the theist callers made my week. I hope and pray (wink wink) David comes back soon!!!!.
    And JR…if you fast forwarded to hear Tracey….you missed some really good stuff. That is a shame.

  85. Evil God of the Fiery Cloud says

    In general I think I come down more on the critical than laudatory with David’s performance in this episode. While he was a font of interesting information, he seemed to have a tendency to go on and not let people get a word in edge wise. Over time I’ve come to be a bigger fan of letting the theist make the shitty argument first before ye counter something they haven’t really said yet just because yer aware of the flow their arguments tend to take. Also one of my greatest pet peeves is people talking over me, so when I see someone else doing it I tend to become annoyed vicariously for them (did I use “vicariously” right there? Eff it, I think it’s fine…). Whenever this happens on something like AXP it results in me yelling at my computer screen like a crazy person.
    I should add though that while I think he had plenty of issues in this episode, he certainly has potential to get better with this kind of format so I’d be glad to see him on again.

  86. t90bb says

    92 Evil God…one of my pet peeves is when people talk in terms I dont understand….like “laudatory” and “font”…lol….just playing around. Can you dumb it down a bit???

  87. Evil God of the Fiery Cloud says

    Hahahaha, apologies. As a kid I’d read the dictionary to pad out my vocabulary and ended up developing a more overwrought form of communication than is typically necessary.
    Still, I invite ye to do what I do in such cases and just use Google or somesuch when ye encounter a word ye don’t understand (or think ye might but am unsure if yer using it properly). At the very least ye’ll edify yerself and as my Dad was fond of saying “any day you learn something new isn’t a wasted day.”

  88. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    and yet being *surprised* (should he have ever been surprised about anything?) that it wasn’t the time of year for a fig tree to have fruit.

    If you’re talking to a fundamentalist, then the story makes no sense – why would Jesus curse a fig tree for not bearing fruit when it’s not supposed to bear fruit? – but it makes quite a bit of sense with a proper allegorical understanding of the text.

    This comes from the Gospel Of Mark. Richard Carrier makes a good argument, along with others, that the Gospel Of Mark was specifically written as a giant series of allegories, metaphors, and none of it is history, and everyone “in the know” knew it was allegorical and not literal. I suggest reading Richard Carrier for more on this topic.

    Here, the story was: Jesus sees the fig tree not bearing fruit outside of town, curses it. This happens at the same time as he goes into Jerusalem, throws out the money-changers (and thereby attack the foundation of the Jewish Temple Cult), and he leaves town and see that the fig tree is withered.

    The fig tree was an obvious symbol for the Temple Cult. The real story here is that Mark is saying, through an allegory, that there is no more need for the Jewish Temple Cult (because Jesus), and the reign of the Temple Cult is over / should end.

    This requires a little bit more understanding. The Jewish Temple Cult was central to Judaism at the time. The entire Jewish religion at the time centered around several sacrifices that must be done at the temple at Jerusalem. Several sacrifices were performed each year to wash away their sins, but it was good for only 1 year, and they needed to do the sacrifices every year. Again, this was a central component of Judaism at the time, and it could only be done at this one temple. The money-changers were also an indispensible component of some of these sacrifices. People would have to come, and IIRC pay in a certain obscure money, and so they had to use the money-changers in the temple square to exchange more-common money for the special temple money (fact-check me here someone); otherwise they couldn’t do their required personal sacrifice to wash away their sins for the year.

    Mark is saying that Jesus washed away everyone’s sins for forever, and therefore there is no more need for the sacrifices at the temple, and the money-changers were seen as the visible face of the people’s interactions with the temple, and they were also seen as a sign of corruption in the temple, e.g. priests getting rich off the people.

    This is all IIRC. Please correct me if and where I went wrong.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursing_the_fig_tree

  89. Giauz Ragnarock says

    I wonder if Jesus could have served as a founding myth for Christianity like Moses was for all Jewish people. After Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans, some Jews used the belief in the coming of the Messiah and the new world order to keep their cultural identity, surviving by reasoning that their messiah hadn’t stopped the sack because he would come with the resurrection of all who they lost. In fact the Romans tried to silence him through crucifixion before the great tradgedy, but he would be back with all YHWH’s power by his right hand.

    That’s my Jesus myth not-a-fan-fiction anyway.

  90. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #95:

    they had to use the money-changers in the temple square to exchange more-common money for the special temple money (fact-check me here someone)

    Article: Wikipedia – Cleansing of the Temple

    the money changers, who changed the standard Greek and Roman money for Jewish and Tyrian money.

     
    Heh. Reminds me of this other gimmick.
     
    Video: Gary A. Rendsburg – Dead Sea Scrolls (24x 31:00)
     
    Lecture 17 The Halakhic Letter, Rituals Define the Sect…

    (7:14): If you lived far from Jerusalem, the Rabbis [the Pharases, described in the Mishnah several centuries later] allow you to bring your offerings, your liquid sacrifice in an animal skin bottle, from wherever that animal skin might’ve been obtained (presumably locally, from a local tanner or from your own flock perhaps). And you could bring its contents to the temple where it could be sacrificed.
     
    But the Qumran community, as we learned from the Temple Scroll, disapproved of such a practice. For them, anything that came into the temple had to have the purity of the temple from the outset. And therefore, only an animal skin produced by an animal that was sacrificed in the temple could be used to convey other materials to the temple.

    Had to first go into town, buy the ‘temple brand’ bottles, return home, then bring your liquids.

  91. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To CompulsoryAccount7746
    Yep, and this is a plausible explanation why Christianity first arose – people invented it to fix / bypass the corruption of the Jewish Temple Cult, while still remaining good Jews.

  92. lindak says

    Tracie showed a lot of patience with David, who talked over the callers as well as Tracie, and finished people’s sentences. While he has a lot of knowledge, seemed more interested in hearing himself talk than listening. That’s not a dialogue.

  93. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #96:

    why would Jesus curse a fig tree for not bearing fruit
    […]
    everyone “in the know” knew it was allegorical and not literal. I suggest reading Richard Carrier for more on this topic

     
    Video: FtBCon2 – Bible Study, or Taking the Bible Seriously as Fiction (1:25:06)
     

    (34:29): Mark is writing parables about Jesus as a mythical character. […] Whether there’s a historical man or not is irrelevant to this conclusion. […] He’s telling stories that symbolically represent something.
     
    The best analysis is a paper by R. G. Hamerton-Kelly in “Sacred Violence and the Messiah”.

     

    (35:16): This is actually a parable that structurally symbolizes the Christian rejection of the whole system of temple sacrifice.
    […]
    This was a literary device, well known at the time, used a lot in the gospels, used a lot by many other authors. Called a “sandwich” […] or a “literary intercalation”. […] that clues the reader in that there’s some meaning to it. What it means is… You start telling one story, and you interrupt that story with another story, and then you finish the first story.
     
    So there’s one story being wrapped around another story. […] This was taught in Greek schools. […] The author of thte gospel of Mark […] uses it everywhere. The point of it is that the outer story and inner story are supposed to be messages about each other.
    […]
    So if you want to interpret the fig tree narrative, which is wrapped around the temple narrative […] in the middle […] That’s the key to understanding what the fig tree story represents.

     

    (38:47): He made up the story. He’s literarily crafted it very ingeniously, with the skills of literary craft that were taught at the time. […] Within 100-200 years, Christians stopped getting it. Because they started getting hyper literal and became fundamentalist about it. They weren’t reading their own bible the way it was originally written.

  94. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    * Botched the link.
    Video: FtBCon2 – Bible Study, or Taking the Bible Seriously as Fiction (1:25:06)

  95. Kevin V Russell says

    This makes me curious as I usually am why people believe things that simply arent true. Like are you going to believe me or your stinking lying eyes? I am deeply fascinated how some people ( most of them probably) are completely impervious to reason on heart felt issues. How is evolution served when we can behave so irrationally? I understand the allure of hope in the midst of despair but this is something different. Can we discuss?

  96. gshelley says

    David did tend to talk over Tracy and the callers a little, and was very reluctant to let things go, but that is understandable. HE has a lot of knowledge on the subject and callers were saying things that were either outright wrong, or just highly misleading, and if they were allowed to get away with it at the start, it could derail the whole covnersation

  97. says

    First time commenting. Been listening since December ’17. Thank you for this awesome show. I binge-watch while working & at home. Tracy is my fave host. Love you all. I share your vids on my fb constantly. The response is always colorful. Looking fwd to my 2nd AACon.

  98. desperadox says

    I really enjoyed David Fitzgerald.It’s always great to have somebody who knows his stuff.

  99. Stevo says

    David may have talked over Tracie a bit but most of the time the guest hosts cant get a word in edgewise. His knowledge of the NT was impressive to me.

  100. RationalismRules says

    @Kevin V Russell

    How is evolution served when we can behave so irrationally? …. Can we discuss?

    Sure, we can discuss. Since noone else has responded, I’ll give it a go, with my fairly basic understanding of evolution.

    First, keep in mind that evolution selects against bad traits, rather than for good traits. In order for evolution to select against irrationality, it would have to negatively impact survival (and therefore reproductive capacity).

    On the face of it, it seems like that would be the case. But in actual fact, there are some cognitive errors that are evolutionarily advantageous. For example, pareidolia (seeing patterns that don’t really exist), is a cognitive error that contributes to irrational beliefs like religion and ghosts. But in evolutionary terms it is more likely to be advantageous to survival than disadvantageous – seeing a predator that isn’t really there is less likely to result in an early death than failing to see a predator that actually is there.

    Also, keep in mind that clear-thinking / rational thought are learned behaviors, rather than evolved traits. Evolution gave us the cognitive capacity for those behaviors, but it doesn’t teach us how to think. Also, it gave us the emotions that we have to overcome in order for rational thought to prevail.

    Specific to the irrationality of religion, you might be interested in Mitchell Diamond’s AXP appearance. Mitchell argues that the human inclination towards religion (or mysticism) may have an evolutionary basis, to do with easing of existential angst (I’m paraphrasing).

  101. rokk says

    Comment about Jeff from Augusta about faith. If faith means that ultimately you don’t know anything then science is a good place to start.

  102. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @RationalismRules #107:
    I cringe when you mention that guy. He redefined “religion” to say theatre is religious behavior (also art, music, dance, poetry, storytelling, etc). And he’s just puttin’ it out there that “religion” originated it all 50,000 years ago.
     
    Not that humans are prone to doing those things and that groups of mystically inclined humans incorporated them, but that those behaviors, at some point in the conveniently distant past, were exclusive features of “religion”. Thus all dancing today, tens of thousands of years later, should be thought of as religious behavior.
     
     

    religion (or mysticism) may have an evolutionary basis, to do with easing of existential angst

    Article: Wikipedia – Terror management theory

  103. theisntist says

    Good points all RR. In addition religion provides a unifying and motivating force which can give a group an advantage over other less unified and motivated groups. It’s pretty cost effective to convince suicide bombers or Kamikaze pilots to do your bidding by promising them 72 virgins or eternal glory in the next world, for example. Long term it may be bad for the species as a whole, but that may not manifest itself for thousands of years.

  104. Walter says

    @rationalism rules 107
    General agreement, death is the sculptor of life, except that evolution can be more complicated. eg: 1)Peacocks’ tails are disadvantageous except that females like them apparently and are thus selected FOR; 2) traits that are favorable for more fertile offspring within a population can be selected FOR.

  105. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Kevin V Russell #102:

    Like are you going to believe me or your stinking lying eyes?

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Asch conformity experiments

    Groups of eight male college students participated in a simple “perceptual” task. In reality, all but one of the participants were actors, and the true focus of the study was about how this subject would react to the actors’ behavior.
    […]
    One of these lines was the same as that on the first card, and the other two lines were clearly longer or shorter (i.e., a near-100% rate of correct responding was expected). Each participant was then asked to say aloud which line matched the length of that on the first card.
    […]
    incorrect responses often matched the incorrect response of the majority group (i.e., actors). Overall, 75% of participants gave at least one incorrect answer out of the 12 critical trials.
     
    Participants’ interview responses revealed a complex mixture of individual differences in subjects’ reaction to the experimental situation, with distinct reactions linked to factors such as confidence, self-doubt, the desire to be normative, and resolving perceived confusion over the nature of the task.
    […]
    following disclosure of the true nature of the experiment. The “independent” subject said that he felt happy and relieved and added, “I do not deny that at times I had the feeling: ‘to go with it, I’ll go along with the rest.'”
     
    At the other end of the spectrum, one “yielding” subject (who conformed in 11 of 12 critical trials) said, “I suspected about the middle – but tried to push it out of my mind.” Asch points out that although the “yielding” subject was suspicious, he was not sufficiently confident to go against the majority.

  106. Rich Wiltshir says

    Another great show, folks – as ever, Tracie, you’re brilliant and probably the best host for David to share a screen (microphone) with.
    Until a couple of years ago I accepted as fact that the Jesus character was historic: nowadays I see it as a poorly supported claim that’s amusingly defended by misrepresentations and exagerations by those invested in the industry(ies) reliant upon it.
    David was wholly and totally correct to stop every false assertion made by Andrew’s galloping a la Dwayne Gish. My only criticisim (suggestion from the stable of Jeff Dee) would be extract acknowledgement of each refutation before letting Andrew jump to another horse. Many time, the caller was appropriately cul-de-saced by the guest’s rapier-like penetration to the core deceit, so it’d be massively rewarding to underscore this.
    Though I understand the focus of criticism (wholly accepted by DF), I do not accept it: we all face would-be apologists who spout the 10-42 gibberish or offer cascades of waffle. DF was absolutely right to shoot down each claim so swiftly.
    Thanks to everyone on the team and in the audience. The last few shows have brought a new charisma to an expanding range of topics. One of my favourite slots of the week,
    I’ve tried to add a photo, so that you may guess the sort of conversations that I get into…

  107. RationalismRules says

    @Sky Captain
    (chuckle) You really didn’t like Mitchell Diamond!

    TBH I suggested Diamond because I remembered him as a recent AXP guest with a thought-provoking topic that fitted within Kevin Russell’s request for a conversation, not because I have any strong opinion either way about his thesis. The main thing I remember from that episode was that I was intrigued that he was positing an evolutionary basis for something that I have long believed to be a foundational reason for religion, but have never thought of in evolutionary terms.

    I do also remember that he claimed religion was evolutionarily expensive, which I questioned on the blog but didn’t get a response. I still don’t see why it would be so.

  108. Fieldmarshal says

    Just catching up on podcast after a short break, but after this episode will probably not bother with future broadcasts.

    Double standards in play here – I’ve lost count of the times callers are shut down by appeals to the consensus or expert argument for design or anti evolution arguments, but when it comes to biblical history,it appears that throwing away the consensus point of view is acceptable. Is this because it conveniently promotes the show’s agenda?
    Setting aside that DF provides ‘entertainment’ with his snarky ‘shove it up the Christians ass’ persona, the guy is a pseudo historian, not taken at all seriously by legit NT historians. And though I am Christian, I don’t need to go to other believers, scholars or not to support this position.

  109. RationalismRules says

    @Fieldmarshal

    I’ve lost count of the times callers are shut down by appeals to the consensus or expert argument for design or anti evolution arguments, but when it comes to biblical history,it appears that throwing away the consensus point of view is acceptable.

    You are effectively arguing that you must either conform to all consensus views and expert arguments, or never reference them at all, which is nonsense.

    Of course it’s legitimate to reject the consensus position, if it weren’t we would still think the sun orbits the earth.

    Appeal to consensus and appeal to authority are not evidence in and of themselves, but they can add weight to evidence. The argument ‘most experts believe X, so X is true’ is a logical fallacy, but ‘evidence A, B & C supports X, and this evidence is accepted by the overwhelming majority of experts in the field’ can increase confidence in the claim.

    Have you ever encountered an appeal to consensus on AXP that didn’t follow presentation of the evidence for that position? If you can point me to a single instance where an AXP host has argued that a position is true or false purely on whether or not it conforms to the consensus, not only will I be astonished, but I will happily concede that a double standard is in play and their argument is fallacious.

    In your case, it is legitimate to argue that the consensus among NT scholars adds weight to a particular position. It does, no question about it. But it doesn’t add so much weight that it automatically outweighs evidence to the contrary.

    Finally, there is another factor that influences how much weight consensus brings to the argument – objectivity. Science starts from the position “I don’t know”, not “I believe”. How many of your NT scholars went into their search with no investment in the truth of the bible? It is simply disingenuous to not acknowledge that biblical scholarship inherently carries increased risks of confirmation bias, and that this necessarily affects the weighting of their consensus.

  110. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Fieldmarshal #116:

    when it comes to biblical history,it appears that throwing away the consensus point of view is acceptable

     
    Comment: Richard Carrier #14.1 on “Ehrman on Historicity Recap”, regarding consensus (archived)

    When you hear references to consensus […] you are seeing either bullshit (e.g. William Lane Craig will sometimes say a consensus exists when none does) or cognitive error (one interprets “the books/scholars I’ve read lately” with “the whole scholarly community”) or a reflection of intuitive polling of personal background knowledge from extensive literature surveys, which are how one normally researches and learns things at the postdoctoral level.
     
    Only that last is reliable.
    […]
    when I did my literature survey on the criteria-based methodology of Jesus studies, I consistently found dissent, not affirmation. The only scholars who affirm and use the methods are those who never examine their merits; whereas all the literature dedicated specifically to examining their merits concluded in the negative. So here we have a consensus (“most scholars think the methods are valid”) that is itself invalidated by the actual expert consensus (a uniform agreement among all method-testing specialists who have studied the validity of those methods).
     
    That’s the best anyone can do, as far as gauging whether a consensus exists, how strong it is, and whether it’s valid or consists of a generalist consensus in contradiction to actual specialist consensus. And then of course even a specialist consensus can be wrong, if it is illogically founded, which one can only tell by examining the arguments and evidence on which that specialist consensus rests. Honest scholars will then change their opinions when this is pointed out to them, and so the consensus shifts. But you can run against paradigm-defending conservativism (a la Kuhn).
     
    And so on.

  111. benjamincano says

    @Jeff Webb,

    I’ll refer you to L. Michael White “From Jesus to Christianity” for the discussion about how John uses the Synoptic Gospels. One striking example of how John used Mark, for instance, is the fact that John copies the miracle of the feeding of five thousand and Jesus’ walking on water in exactly the same sequence. Since this pairing and sequence was a literary device of Mark rather than real history, the only reason John would connect these same events in that same order is by borrowing the whole sequence from Mark.

    This is why there are so many details about these accounts in common between Mark and John. For example, both Gospels say that five thousand were fed, that exactly twelve baskets of crumbs remained, that Jesus started with exactly five loaves and two fishes, and that feeding the crowd would otherwise have cost two hundred denarii.

    There are lots of similar matches between John and material in Luke and Matthew as well. A little archive searching has lead me to peer review on this subject as well. MacDonald’s Keith Pearce, ‘The Lucan Origins of the Raising of Lazarus,’ Expository Times 96 (1985) pp. 359-61.

  112. benjamincano says

    @coffeemachtspass #57

    This quote is nowhere to be found Gibbons. I think Dave is actually misquoting via an intermediate source, which unhelpfully he doesn’t cite or footnote. In reality the actual quote from Gibbon is that he calls Eusebius “a writer who has so openly violated one of the fundamental laws of history”.

    Citation: https://books.google.com/books?id=SmEPAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA255&ots=CE0DFwe16u&dq=%E2%80%9Ca%20writer%20who%20has%20so%20openly%20violated%20one%20of%20the%20fundamental%20laws%20of%20history%E2%80%9D.&pg=PA254#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9Ca%20writer%20who%20has%20so%20openly%20violated%20one%20of%20the%20fundamental%20laws%20of%20history%E2%80%9D.&f=false

  113. hypnoticspecter says

    Although Fitzgerald really took over the show, I really enjoyed it. I was so impressed that I just purchased the 4 book series( in book form) as soon as the episode finished

  114. Fieldmarshal says

    @ RationalismRules

    ‘You are effectively arguing that you must either conform to all consensus views and expert arguments, or never reference them at all, which is nonsense.’

    Straw man – I am merely stating double standards – when the argument or agenda suits the presenters – they either cut the conversation or caller down, or in this case, allow the dialogue to continue without challenge.

    ‘Have you ever encountered an appeal to consensus on AXP that didn’t follow presentation of the evidence for that position? If you can point me to a single instance where an AXP host has argued that a position is true or false purely on whether or not it conforms to the consensus, not only will I be astonished, but I will happily concede that a double standard is in play and their argument is fallacious.’
    Not that the position was true or false – but Tracie did not allow the conversation to develop – Atheist Experience 21.28 with Tracie Harris and Don Baker – around the 1.38.00 mark.

    ‘Finally, there is another factor that influences how much weight consensus brings to the argument – objectivity. Science starts from the position “I don’t know”, not “I believe”. How many of your NT scholars went into their search with no investment in the truth of the bible? It is simply disingenuous to not acknowledge that biblical scholarship inherently carries increased risks of confirmation bias, and that this necessarily affects the weighting of their consensus.’
    not MY scholars – plenty of scholars to the far left and atheists accept an historical Jesus – mainly based upon Pauline material, but this was not raised in the programme.

    A finally – around the 2;30 mark of the 21.28 episode, Tracie points to a thermometer to measure monetary donations – and you say Theists are scientifically ignorant – everyone knows thermometers are used to measure temperature – duh………

  115. Fieldmarshal says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Comment: Richard Carrier #14.1 on “Ehrman on Historicity Recap”, regarding consensus (archived)

    ‘When you hear references to consensus […] you are seeing either bullshit (e.g. William Lane Craig will sometimes say a consensus exists when none does) or cognitive error (one interprets “the books/scholars I’ve read lately” with “the whole scholarly community”) or a reflection of intuitive polling of personal background knowledge from extensive literature surveys, which are how one normally researches and learns things at the postdoctoral level.’

    Bullshit indeed? do I need to reminder you of the deliberate deceit of Lawrence Krauss during his debate with WLC regarding BGV theorem? Perhaps this won’t matter now with the LK sex pest debacle. Wonder if Matt D will condemn the behaviour, or will this be more double standards…….; /
    #NoHeroes

  116. RationalismRules says

    @Fieldmarshal
    How would one avoid that double standard without either accepting all consensuses or never appealing to consensus? I’d like you to clarify this for me, since you’ve accused me of straw-manning you, when what I posted seems to me a direct implication of your initial point.

  117. Fieldmarshal says

    @ Rationalism Rules

    I agree RR – it has to be one position or the other to avoid the double standard.
    I’m more than happy to have the conversation regardless of the consensus viewpoint, whether that supports a theistic position or vice versa.
    My frustration is that in most cases on this programme, the hosts shut down a number of arguments which oppose a consensus favouring an athesitic viewpoint, citing something akin to ‘well go get your evidence peer reviewed, we’re not going to discuss it’, etc. – see the ref example episode in my previous post.
    The views put forward on this episode are not supported seriously by the vast majority of scholars, regardless of their individual beliefs.
    My opinion is that fueling the option of legend to specifically challenge the C..S. Lewis Trilemma, provides a greater comfort than needing to plum for the liar or lunatic options – this is a gut feel opinion that I probably need to explore further.

  118. Gabby G says

    David should have his own show, because he really knows his stuff. It was RUDE for him to completely take over this episode and interrupt/not let Tracie speak. She is awesome and she should have had more opportunity to interact with the callers.

  119. Monocle Smile says

    @RR
    Fieldmarshal is trolling because he/she is butthurt about the show.
    This user has done this before. You can tell by the pathetic jumping around between “unfair” behavior and bitching about specific hosts about stuff that has jack shit to do with the topic (not to mention the incredibly unfunny joke about thermometers). It’s just ax-grinding with no intention of honest discussion.

    Ignore this fool.

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