Tuesday, December 23, 2014

There's a new article out on Jesus mythicism, so it must be Christmas

Here. 

This article compares them to anti-vaccinationists.

66 comments:

Martin said...

Ah! Raphael Lataster! I encountered that guy before, on Luke Muelhauser's old blog. He offered horrible objections to William Lane Craig's arguments, and seemed positively confident that they were good objections. Seems like the same story as Dan Barker: raised as a fundie, he then swaps out his fundamentalism for a different kind, rather than discover reason.

Dave Duffy said...

Merry Christmas Victor! The Lord's blessing on you and your family. Thanks for your interesting blog.

It must be Christmas because my kids are home and we all get to attend Christmas Eve service tonight. With no ill will toward other Christian traditions, there is nothing like an Orthodox Anglican service during Advent.

Good grief, does anyone really care what malcontent atheists are doing during this season? I still wish them a "Merry Christmas" and take their "Happy Holidays" in stride.

JBsptfn said...

You think that one is good, check this trash out from Valerie Tarico on Alternet:

Why rape is so intrinsic to Religion

Papalinton said...

After centuries of christian apologetical effort the batter holding back the flood of reason and logic is at the point of breach. The tipping point is very close. HERE is a very thought-provoking review that traces the upsurge of intellectual, philosophical and academic interest in the mythical case for the jesus character of the New Testament. After two thousand years of religious hegemony It makes for one hell of an exciting 21stC historical rethink on a narrative that now seems to have relied solely on tradition for its epistemic foundation. It makes for compelling reading.

Papalinton said...

What is of particular interest from the site I cite in the previous comment is the following:

"NOTE: Only days after this post’s appearance, Father Thomas Brodie (see below) has been removed from his position at the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick which he helped set up, according to The Irish Sun (Jan 21, 2013). The influential Irish scholar has also been “banned from any lecturing, teaching or writing while a probe is under way.” The newspaper article subheading reads: “A TOP priest has been forced to quit a Bible-teaching job after writing a book claiming Jesus did not exist.” In his book Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery (Oct. 2012), Fr. Brodie makes public the fact that he has questioned the existence of Jesus since the 1970s.—R.S. (Added Jan 22, 2013.)"

This is Father Brodie's book

Saints and Sceptics said...

Nearly as bad as the Atheist America ads
Merry Christmas, Vic and everyone else on the blog!

Graham

wrf3 said...

One very good site is Armarium Magnum. The author is an atheist who has blogged a number of times against the mythicist position, e.g. here, here, and here.

im-skeptical said...

Interesting article. This guy thinks history is not scientific and then goes on to describe the process of historical analysis as one of gathering all the relevant evidence, placing that evidence in the context of what is independently known, and devising a theory that best explains the evidence. This is pretty much what science does. What makes it unscientific in his eyes is the fact that historians don't wear lab coats and run experiments. That's laughable.

As for mythicism, I think most reasonable atheist historians are not certain about whether Jesus existed, one way or the other. It is reasonable to take a middle position, perhaps leaning somewhat to one side or the other. And that's exactly where you find most of them. To hold to a position of any high degree of certainty is unreasonable, because the evidence simply doesn't support it.

cl said...

"It is as if he thinks he wins the game by declaring all its rules stupid and inventing his own path."

There, in a nutshell, is the Gnu / Loftus approach to scholarship. Classic!

Edward T. Babinski said...

Also see the links here, which includes Lataster's reply:

http://vridar.org/2014/12/30/the-churlishness-of-a-christian-soldier-scholar/

Papalinton said...

It is today as if Higher Criticism and research techniques in Biblical Studies has now introduced the equivalent of DNA testing into its regime, the consequence of which has seriously, if not fatally, challenged the consensus of traditional Biblical Studies. Jesus mythicism is not going to go away. in fact it is a growing field of intense historical and intellectual interest and the conventional perspective of a historical Jesus has fundamentally shifted. The prevailing orthodoxy on Jesus's historicity is found to not indeed match the historical DNA that apologists have claimed. Ironically, the more we investigate christianity, the more it is becoming clear it was but a cuckoo's egg nestled importunely in Judaism's nest.

BenYachov said...

Jesus Mythicism the Young Earth Creationism of Atheism and about half as smart as YEC.

im-skeptical said...

"Jesus Mythicism the Young Earth Creationism of Atheism and about half as smart as YEC."

Ben Yachov: strong as an ox and twice as smart.

wrf3 said...

im-skeptical wrote: ... devising a theory that best explains the evidence. This is pretty much what science does.

Well, no. Anybody can come up with explanations. Furthermore, anybody can come up with explanations that match the evidence, even though they are different explanations. The purpose of science is to weed out competing explanations. You can't do that with historical events. If you think otherwise, please provide the scientific evidence that at 5:26pm EST on 2 January 2015, I rolled 6 die that were (4 4 6 5 3 1).

im-skeptical said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
im-skeptical said...

"The purpose of science is to weed out competing explanations."

Science weeds out the explanations that are not the best explanation that accounts for all the available evidence. That's why we reject intelligent design. That's why Newtonian mechanics was replaced by relativity.

History is very much the same. Yes, you can reject a theory that doesn't explain the known facts as well as another theory. You may never know exactly what happened, but you can arrive at a consensus that represents the best explanation of events. And that explanation can change when additional information comes to light.

That is exactly what we see in the case of mythicism. There is new scholarly research and analysis that gives many scholars reason to doubt whether the historical figure of Jesus really existed. This is not a consensus, but the number of people who lean toward mythicism is increasing.

BenYachov said...

>Ben Yachov: strong as an ox and twice as smart.

Wrong on both accounts.

But one doesn't expect genius from Gnus.

im-skeptical said...

And one doesn't get it from Thomistic fundies.

BenYachov said...

>And one doesn't get it from Thomistic fun dies.

There is no such thing as a Thomistic Fundie.

But then again you are a Positivist fun die.

Never the less the fact remains if you believe in Jesus Mythicism you might as well confess a literal six day creation and be done with it.

BenYachov said...

>One very good site is Armarium Magnum. The author is an atheist who has blogged a number of times against the mythicist position, e.g. here, here, and here.


Ah Tim O'Neil! Self-described "Australian Atheist Bastard".

i have been reading him for years.

I am a fan.

He is a historian and he eats Mythicists for breakfast.

He also seems to have a good understanding of Philosophy. Which is why he is superior to your average positivist Gnu.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"This is not a consensus, but the number of people who lean toward mythicism is increasing."

In fact, you forgot to add that the consensus is precisely the opposite, that Mythicists are wrong, or more colorfully (but still truthfully) fringe, conspiracy-theory nutters.

im-skeptical said...

"In fact, you forgot to add that the consensus is precisely the opposite, that Mythicists are wrong, or more colorfully (but still truthfully) fringe, conspiracy-theory nutters."

Au contraire, my friend. Back when the majority of biblical historians were Christian, there was a clear consensus for the historicity of Jesus (surprise!). But now that there are many more serious (ie. unbiased) scholars examining the facts, and that consensus is dwindling away.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Au contraire, my friend."

Giggle. Wishful thinking instead of evidence or argument.

But hey, what do I know, right? I am a Christian, so I am biased; OTOH you are clearly unbiased, and not only unbiased, but with enough knowledge of the relevant fields to not only evaluate the evidence but to comment authoritatively on what the consensus of the field is.

im-skeptical said...

"Wishful thinking instead of evidence or argument."

Funny you should mention evidence. The NT is full of fabrications and contradictions. Aside from that highly dubious source what evidence do you have?

Here is a list of extra-biblical references. Note that they all leave ample room for doubt.

And please note that I said it is reasonable to adhere to a position of doubt, not one of certainty. That doesn't make me a mythicist.

WMF said...

But now that there are many more serious (ie. unbiased) scholars examining the facts, and that consensus is dwindling away.

This sounds very interesting. If serious scholars are beginning to push the Jesus myth, I should definitely start reading up on that. Can you give me a small selection of peer-reviewed articles, published in 2010 and onward, written by scholars currently employed in a teaching or research position at a relevant institute of a university?

Let's say about five. I don't want to risk picking up more reading than I can handle.

im-skeptical said...

WMF,

If you care to have a discussion, you should start by listening.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"If you care to have a discussion, you should start by listening."

So you make a claim ("But now that there are many more serious (ie. unbiased) scholars examining the facts, and that consensus is dwindling away."). WMF asks for the relevant evidence to support the claim. Your response is that he should start listening if he actually "care[s] to have a discussion".

By now I should not find this typical dumbass im-skeptical move surprising, and yet I do.

im-skeptical said...

grodrigues,

You haven't listened to me either. But that's not surprising - you never did.

Papalinton said...

"Can you give me a small selection of peer-reviewed articles, published in 2010 and onward, written by scholars currently employed in a teaching or research position at a relevant institute of a university? "

Oh Dear, the caveats. While you're at it, the scholars must be 'white, Catholic and must have signed a testament of faith as a condition of their employment.'

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"You haven't listened to me either. But that's not surprising - you never did."

Of course I *never* did. Any more complaints you care to vent on your role as the misunderstood victim?

BenYachov said...

>Oh Dear, the caveats. While you're at it, the scholars must be 'white, Catholic and must have signed a testament of faith as a condition of their employment.'

Oh Paps if only you would learn philosophy & Science and stop bonking Kangaroos you could have been somebody.

You could have been a contender.


WMF said...

If you care to have a discussion, you should start by listening.

Well yeah, I'm totally willing to listen to the unbiased and serious scholars that are challenging the consensus. I just don't know who they are. Perhaps I wasn't being clear enough, but I need your help to find them. Just tell me which articles I need to get to read about their work and I'll get to it as soon as I can.

WMF said...

Oh Dear, the caveats.

My bad, of course they don't need to be employed right now. That would be silly. It's fine if they were employed at some point in the past.

im-skeptical said...

WMF,

Start with this.

Papalinton said...

Won't do, Skep. WMF has already made it quite plain that he will only accept authors that are gainfully employed.

Apparently only people in full employment can produce bona fide scholarship.

im-skeptical said...

That's a pity. I think the scholarship in this work is superior. I earlier asked for evidence that Jesus actually lived. We know that the evidence is exceedingly slim, consisting only of the NT stories and a few references outside the bible, all of which are likely forgeries made by Christians. That's not a strong basis from which to call those who believe they have strong reason to doubt "conspiracy-theory nutters".

WMF said...

Apparently only people in full employment can produce bona fide scholarship.

I never claimed any such thing. However, I do not think it is unreasonable to expect that now, at a time where the consensus about the existence of a historical Jesus is dwindling away because more and more unbiased and serious scholars are challenging it, at least a handful of these people have actually been able to get employed at some point in the past.

WMF said...

Start with this.

Does it contain a list of the articles I asked for?

grodrigues said...

WMF asks for a list of "say about five" peer-reviewed articles by credited scholars of the field; im-skeptical hands over R. Carrier's mythicist book.

So if I were to say that "now that there are many more serious (ie. unbiased) scholars examining the facts, and that consensus is dwindling away" regarding ID, and im-skeptical were to ask me to produce evidence of this alleged dwindling consensus by listing peer-reviewed articles by noted scholars on the field, and I as an answer offered one of M. Behe's books I would be vindicated, right?

And just to be clear, what is at stake is *not* whether mythicists are ultimately right or not, but whether there is any factual basis for im-skeptical's claim that "now that there are many more serious (ie. unbiased) scholars examining the facts, and that consensus is dwindling away".

The level of dumbassery on display is just staggering.

im-skeptical said...

WMF,

What I showed you is peer-reviewed scholarship by a genuine historian. I'm sorry it doesn't meet your standard for apologetic clap-trap. But you should read it, because it shows how unbiased historical analysis should be done.

Now I ask you, what evidence is there that Jesus actually lived? Why don't you go ahead and refute the issues raised by Carrier? It should be easy, if this is just the rantings of some nut-case.

im-skeptical said...

grodrigues.

The fact that you can't distinguish between ID "science" and genuine scholarship is telling, given that you run around touting your own scientific credentials.

Dan Gillson said...

I've really been enjoying watching im-skeptical put his foot in his mouth again and again in this thread. It's been delicious entertainment.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"The fact that you can't distinguish between ID "science" and genuine scholarship is telling, given that you run around touting your own scientific credentials."

First, it is not I that "run around touting" my "scientific credentials" but you. For some strange reason you seem obsessed with them and cannot prevent yourself from bringing them up even when nobody mentioned them, least of all myself, or even when they are completely irrelevant for anything whatsoever. The psychological explanation for this obsession of yours is surely interesting, but not to me.

Second, the problem is not about me, but as always is with you, since what my reductio proves is that you have no non question-begging criteria for distinguishing one from the other, besides the fact that you agree, or at least are suympathetic, with one and not the other.

Third, as always you betray your ignorance of just about anything you loudmouth about and do not know what real scholarship means. Of course this is only to be expected in a dumbass ignoramus like you, who is in the grip of a shallow ideology and who wouldn't recognize evidence or a cogent argument if it hit him on the face. Now this is all fairly obvious, but for your benefit here it is: in any field, any field whatsoever be it Mathematics or History, anyone's scholarship is recognized by the relevant authorities in the field in forms that include: publication at the relevant peer-reviewed journals, citations of those publications in other publications in the relevant peer-reviewed journals, positions in the relevant institutions, lectures in the relevant conferences, etc. It is because that such a process exists that arguments of authority have any weight: *if* there is a question calling for the opinion of the experts, we can call them because they are a *recognizable* bunch (things are usually more complicated, but the idea is clear enough). That is a part of why WMF asked what he asked because Scholarship, in History say, is not a medal that your or I, or any other self-appointed jackass, presents or "recognizes" but a recognition of the relevant authorities in the field, a metonymy for the entire community and its practices and processes of evaluation. The other part is because of the specific claim you made and that first me, then WMF called out, and for which the total sum of your evidence is: zero.

im-skeptical said...

grodrigues,

First, unlike you, I do not make sure everybody knows what degrees I have.

Second, no question-begging criteria? Did I not speak of peer-reviewed research? Have I not criticized the ID community repeatedly for their refusal to follow scientific method? Your so-called reductio doesn't say anything about my ignorance. It says much more about yours.

Third, which of us is really in the grip of a "shallow ideology"? You say I can't recognize evidence? I asked you to present yours, and you haven't done it, as expected. You lecture me about how scholarship is recognized, while seemingly oblivious to the fact that Carrier's work is peer-reviewed. ID "science" has been rejected by the scientific community. carrier's work has been accepted by the historical community. It is only Christians who refuse to recognize its value. And that's because it represents a threat to YOUR "narrow ideology". It makes no difference to me whether or not there was some person upon which the Jesus stories were based. To you, Carrier's work threatens to turn your whole world upside-down. That's why Christians are so adamant in rejecting it and comparing it to pseudo-science. The fact that the majority of biblical scholarship has been done by Christians puts you in a comfortable position of claiming the consensus. But there is a growing movement to replace Christian scholarship with genuine historical analysis.

"the total sum of your evidence is: zero."

This is typical. I have presented evidence, which you ignore. I have asked you for evidence, and none is forthcoming. There is a clear pattern here.

WMF said...

I'm sorry it doesn't meet your standard for apologetic clap-trap.

I'm not interested in hearing about apologetic clap-trap. Sorry if I'm not being clear, English is not my first language.

What I'm interested in is learning about the currently dwindling consensus among unbiased and serious scholars that Jesus existed.

Surely they do not dwell in the same realm of myth as Jesus of Nazareth? At least Jesus of Nazareth has a name ...

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"First, unlike you, I do not make sure everybody knows what degrees I have."

Given your obsession with the matter and that, quite ironically I should add, it is you that just cannot seem to stop talking about it, I would say you have none, but as I said I couldn't care less as it does not matter either way.

"Second, no question-begging criteria? Did I not speak of peer-reviewed research? Have I not criticized the ID community repeatedly for their refusal to follow scientific method?"

Since you are a dumbass, I will review how the discussion went. You made a claim, and I added that "In fact, you forgot to add that the consensus is precisely the opposite, that Mythicists are wrong, or more colorfully (but still truthfully) fringe, conspiracy-theory nutters." You responded with an "au contraire" and me, not wishing to delve in the abysses of your dumbassery just dismissed it with a giggle. Then WMF stepped in and asked for real evidence. To repeat myself, I *did* not address whether the mythicist position is cogent or not, the only thing I did comment about was to say what the consensus of the field is and how the mythicist position is regarded. WMF asked for *peer-reviewed articles* ("say about five"), as that is for sure evidence that "there are many more serious (ie. unbiased) scholars examining the facts, and that consensus is dwindling away". Evidence provided? Exactly zero. Then I ran a parallel argument with ID using the same *logic* you use, which of course you reject (and to not let any doubts dwindle in that pea brain of yours, I would also). It is *exactly* as I have characterized, you do not have any non-question begging criteria because the situations are exactly parallel.

"I asked you to present yours, and you haven't done it, as expected."

The question you asked me evidence about is one that I *never* addressed. It is you who made the claim ("But now that there are many more serious (ie. unbiased) scholars examining the facts, and that consensus is dwindling away."), it is you who has to put up or shut up. Of course you will do neither, but hey, I already knew that. Now, I will be expecting the obligatory incessant whining on how I never listen to you or some such crap, because the endless irony is always a delightful spectacle.

"It is only Christians who refuse to recognize its value. And that's because it represents a threat to YOUR "narrow ideology"."

I am peeing in my pants. With laughter.

im-skeptical said...

WMF,

If you want to claim near unanimity, about the best you can do is to agree that it is likely that there was some charismatic preacher who got crucified. I agree that this is likely to remain the consensus. The rest of the story is subject to substantial doubt, especially among those who are not biased by religious belief. Do serious scholars agree that there was a virgin birth? Do they agree that he was actually the son of God? Do they agree that this person performed miraculous acts? Do they agree that he got up and walked after he was dead? Do they even agree that it was just one person who inspired all the biblical stories about Jesus?

WMF said...

there was some charismatic preacher who got crucified. I agree that this is likely to remain the consensus.

Is this a retraction of your earlier statement about a dwindling consensus about the historicity of Jesus? Or did I not get what you were saying then?

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"If you want to claim near unanimity, about the best you can do is to agree that it is likely that there was some charismatic preacher who got crucified. I agree that this is likely to remain the consensus."

Ok, then I was right all along and you replaced facts with cheerleading (hey, I get it you cannot admit it up front but that is alright).

"Do serious scholars agree that there was a virgin birth? Do they agree that he was actually the son of God? Do they agree that this person performed miraculous acts? Do they agree that he got up and walked after he was dead? Do they even agree that it was just one person who inspired all the biblical stories about Jesus?"

Those are a different set of questions and you are moving the goalposts. "Mythicist" position has quite a definite meaning; here is R. Carrier in the very book you recommended (transcripted from the Google preview, found in section 2. "The Debate Today" of the chapter 1 "The Problem"):

"For this book I'll dub those who maintain there was real 'Jesus' of some relevant sort historicists, and those who argue this Jesus was mythical, mythicists."

And just as a parting shot, if all you wanted was to say was *that* then there was no need to invoke the Mythicist position or Richard Carrier, since that has been vocally defended since the beginning of Christianity (see e.g. "Contra Celsum", or heck, even the outcome of the speech of St. Paul in Athens in the Bible itself).

BenYachov said...

Skepo is equivocating between historic claims about Jesus in his Divinity vs counter naturalistic profiles of the historic person of Jesus & the Mythicist view. .

Tim O'Neil himself says he does not believe the supernatural Jesus of the NT existed but a real person named Jesus who was the basis of that Jesus more than likely existed.

But that is not the view he attacks. That view is merely the generic non-believer's view of Jesus.

Mythicists are the wack jobs who claim Jesus is entirely a fictional creation with no basis in history. A totally A-historic person.

It's like me claiming Mohammed didn't exist(which some weirdos have claimed).

Or that Joseph Smith didn't exist.

Tis folly.....

Like I said Mythers are the YEC's of Atheism.

im-skeptical said...

Like I said before, you don't bother listening to what I actually do say.

I said from the very beginning that it is reasonable to doubt whether Jesus existed as a historical figure. This is not the position of wackos and nutters. A very strong, evidence-based case has been made to doubt historicity. If you want to dispute it, let's hear your facts and evidence.

Papalinton said...

Christian apologetical scholarship in academia is drawing to a close. No longer is the 'consensus' of the apologetical tradition the standard by which discourse on Jesus's historicity is based. Scholarship into the mythicist case for the jesus character has finally kicked free from the hegemonic manacles of the institutional politics of Christian faith and now pursues a rational historical enquiry.

Rene Salm astutely observes: "In this third Christian millennium the debate over the historicity of Jesus increases in shrillness as evidence supporting the mythicist thesis mounts from numerous—and sometimes surprising—quarters. The tipping point cannot be far off. Of course, a moratorium still exists on Jesus mythicism within the guild of New Testament scholars—but barely. One gets the feeling that many scholars want to “come out” in favor of mythicism, but the stakes are still way too high in terms of career and prestige. Yet the pressure builds on the other side of the dam, as it were, and the sore thumb that has been stuck in the hole far too long must soon withdraw, to be followed by le deluge."

This upsurge in intellectual, academic and philosophical interest in the mythical Jesus is not some passing fad. And it can no longer be intimidatingly or coercively constrained or thwarted by the inertia of centuries of obfuscatory christian apologetics.

WMF said...

Like I said before, you don't bother listening to what I actually do say.

Apparently it wasn't you who said this?

Back when the majority of biblical historians were Christian, there was a clear consensus for the historicity of Jesus (surprise!). But now that there are many more serious (ie. unbiased) scholars examining the facts, and that consensus is dwindling away.

im-skeptical said...

"Apparently it wasn't you who said this?"

Yes. That's what I said. The problem is you interpret it to mean something different from what I intended. The level of certainty that once pervaded biblical scholarship is falling, to be replaced by a more nuanced and reasoned analysis, at least among scholars who aren't ideologically biased.

B. Prokop said...

I agree with Dan. This thread has been "delicious entertainment".

im-skeptical said...

It is amusing to see how people abandon any sense of rationality when their cherished beliefs are challenged. They demand evidence, but offer none of their own. They resort to ad hominem attacks. What they don't do is make sound logical arguments.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"The problem is you interpret it to mean something different from what I intended. The level of certainty that once pervaded biblical scholarship is falling, to be replaced by a more nuanced and reasoned analysis, at least among scholars who aren't ideologically biased."

So "the problem" is WMF's, that interpreted im-skeptical's words different than what he intended. WMF (as myself) interpreted the original as claiming that before, when Christians presumably ruled the field, there was a consensus about the historicity of Jesus, but now such a consensus is dwindling due to the courageous efforts of brave and unbiased scholars, in fact "many more" such scholars. In this new version, "consensus" is dropped and in its stead we find "level of certainty"; if this is supposed to make a difference I do not know. The "many scholars" are dropped for an unknown group of "scholars who aren't ideologically biased", and it is among these that the "level of certainty" is being replaced by "a more nuanced and reasoned analysis". For all we know, there could be 2 of these exotic critters. And "Level of certainty" about what? Presumably, about the mythicist view as otherwise it makes no sense to be parading R. Carrier, but im-skeptical already granted not only what the consensus on *that* is, but that it is unlikely to change, so what gives? Questions, questions. Either way, the same request WMF made applies to this new (which is not new at all, but mere a face-saving refurbishing) claim. Evidence? Who are these scholars? Peer-reviewed articles?

But let us peer into the matter more closely, not without some trepidation and fear of losing one's sanity. As proof of this "more nuanced and reasoned analysis", a wave that the experts themselves seem to be not noticing, im-skeptical quotes the mythicist position, widely regarded by the experts in the field as a fringe, nutter opinion. Im-skeptical must think that by adding qualifiers like "more nuanced and reasoned analysis" auto-magically it becomes so. Because im-skeptical says so. Because these "scholars" are not "ideologically biased" (*). Because the consensus of the field is not what it is. Behold gentlemen, the power of wishful thinking.

Another question is what im-skeptical could possibly mean by "level of certainty that once pervaded biblical scholarship"? Biblical, Historical criticism reached a climax of sorts in the 19th century (leading to say, pope Leo XIII issuing the encyclical "Providentissimus Deus") and it can be traced back even earlier to rationalists like Reimarius or d'Holbach in the 18th century. It is not the invention of R. Carrier; neither is the Mythicist position, about which Hoffman as this to say here:

"For those of you not paying attention, the New Atheism has a new postulate: Not only does God not exist but Jesus didn’t exist either. It is a theory that zips past Planet America every fifty years or so, like a comet, then fades away until a new generation of nutters tries to resuscitate it. Lucky us: We are living at the right time."

I do not know the relative populations, but it is very easy to come by names of top scholars who are not Christians (agnostics, Jewish, etc.). But this is a typical theme of conspiracy-theory nutters: the alleged iron grip on a scholarly field that some brave souls are challenging.

In other words, im-skeptical has absolutely no idea what he is talking about and replaces evidence, argument or reasoned scholarship with the chief weapons of Monty Pythonesque dumbassery: ignorance, a creative relationship with intellectual honesty and a massive dose of ideological cheerleading.

(*) Even R. Carrier in the preface to his book is upfront about his biases.

im-skeptical said...

"In other words, im-skeptical has absolutely no idea what he is talking about and replaces evidence, argument or reasoned scholarship with the chief weapons of Monty Pythonesque dumbassery: ignorance, a creative relationship with intellectual honesty and a massive dose of ideological cheerleading."

You still have no idea what I was trying to say. I refer you again to my previous comment. Where's your argument, and where's your evidence?

WMF said...

The level of certainty that once pervaded biblical scholarship is falling, to be replaced by a more nuanced and reasoned analysis, at least among scholars who aren't ideologically biased.

So when I asked for articles, should I have chosen "There is reason to doubt whether or not the existence of Jesus is as certain as the consensus believes it to be" as the thesis to be defended, rather than "Jesus didn't exist"?

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"You still have no idea what I was trying to say."

Mais oui mon ami, c'est vrai! I do not know what you have been saying, WMF does neither, and above all neither do you! Hey, skeppy, you can adopt this move from now on every time you have been tossed out and about like a raggedy doll: claim that people do not understand you! Fiendishly clever. To be fair, I have to say you may have a point though. Given that you cannot write your way out of a paper bag, it is probable that, analogous to someone suffering from Tourette's, there is vast abyss between what your words mean and what you intended to say.

im-skeptical said...

WMF,

I challenge you to show where I made the assertion that Jesus didn't exist. If that's the way you understood me, it's not my fault, it's you putting words in my mouth.

Ginobili said...

Didn't im-skeptical wash his hands of this website a little while ago? Why is he back here?


It's quite bizarre that he won't just provide a list of scholars instead of constantly playing the "no one understands me" card. Is it really that hard to do?

im-skeptical said...

What is bizarre is that people like you are always demanding evidence, but never providing any. I have explained that a portion of people who make up this consensus consists of those who are not strongly convinced one way or the other, but who lean one side more than the other. Christians believe in the historicity of Jesus by definition. Their view is likely to be based more on faith than on unbiased historical analysis. I believe that Christians who tout this consensus may think that the question is settled, and that there is little or no room for doubt about whether Jesus existed, or perhaps even whether the biblical stories about him are all true. (Show me a Christian who doesn't believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.)

But there is in fact a strong case based on solid scholarship that casts doubt on the historicity of Jesus. You may not like it. You may feel threatened by it. You can jump up and down, you can call me a nut-case, but what you can't do is give me any solid evidence that there actually was such a historical figure, other than the highly dubious stories about him in the NT.

If you think what I have said is wrong, make your case. I'm waiting for you or anyone to bring forth your own evidence, instead of just demanding it from me. If all you do is toss out barbs from the sideline, you're not worth listening to.

B. Prokop said...

"Show me a Christian who doesn't believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead."

What a ridiculous request! Shows how little Skep actually understands the Faith that he is always attacking (without any thought, apparently). News flash, Skep: If'n a person don't believe in the Resurrection, he ain't no Christian! Asking to be shown one is like asking for an example of a square circle.

WMF said...

WMF,

I challenge you to show where I made the assertion that Jesus didn't exist


Nothing in my comments indicates that I take you as making this assertion. Did you intend to address your comment at someone else?

im-skeptical said...

"News flash, Skep: If'n a person don't believe in the Resurrection, he ain't no Christian!"

News flash, Bob: if you're a Christian, your belief in the resurrection goes without saying, and that comes before any kind of historical analysis. What conclusion do you think a Christian historian is likely to arrive at?