Are we just conspiracy theorists?

Larty
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Are we just conspiracy theorists?

Conspiracy theorists are people who believe in unscientific ideas that are disagreed upon by most people. Their views are usually regarded as socially unacceptable, and people have generally a negative attitude towards conspiracy theorists. "9/11 truthers" are considered the worst type of conspiracy theorists, since their campaigns are insulting, they fail to respond to reason or arguments and all their views are disagreed upon by the general public.

It has struck me how people's reactions to Jesus mythicism resembles that of the conspiracy theories. I have seen many articles on the internet where theologists regard the existence of a historical Jesus as blatantly obvious. There are very few people who doubt the historicity of Jesus, and most people believe there is no question about it at all. Those who do doubt it are considered closed-minded and wrong. It's as if we mythicists are treated like the conspiracy theorists, with exceptional views, negativity from the public, and claims that all our points have already been refuted by evidence.

What makes it even more frustrating is that I haven't come across any compelling, scientific evidence that there WAS a historical Jesus to begin with. I'm about to graduate from highschool, and I definitely know how the scientific method works. The historical Jesus -articles I mentioned, inspect the issue from an unscientific perspective, without any clear distinction made between mythology and history, between scientific evidence and religious beliefs.

The evidence presented is often in the form of repeating what the gospels say, which doesn't substitute as enough proof for historicity of Jesus. All the so-called "extra-biblical sources" don't mention anything about Jesus that already wasn't in the gospels, and they usually just talk about Christians and not Jesus himself. STILL these sources are presented as clear, conclusive evidence, which they are certainly not!

Why are there no actual experts who are also Jesus mythicists? Why are we treated as conspiracy nuts, when the opposition can't present actual scientific evidence that they are right?

(Thanks for reading, by the way. I hope this made any sense.)

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I think more

I think more like anti-drug crusaders. At least the religion drug.

I believe most 'Christian' only believe out of fear(Pascal's wager) or to get a high from 'believing'. Atheist 'preaching' is more like just getting people to realize they've been taking the drug of delusion and life could be OK without the addiction.

A conspiracy theorist has to make up wild speculations without knowing the facts. We don't have to do that, the facts speak for themselves. We just have to get people to give up their drug, their crutch and think and look at the facts.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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I agree larty, it's pretty

I agree larty, it's pretty silly.  I remember when I was little having my father (a baptist preacher) tell me something to the effect of, "There is more proof for the events of Jesus's death and resurrection than there is for George Washington being a human."

I've yet to see any evidence that would make me even suspect that Jesus Christ was real.  I think I could make a good case George Washington though.

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Never mind, I got stuck on auto pilot. Nothing to see here.

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To make things worse there

To make things worse there are actually jesus mythicyst conspiracy theorists, and many people fail to distinguish between the two.  The unfortunate side of things is that the conspiracy theorist view gets more airtime and publicity (just look at zeitgeist 1) as it is the more intriguing stance despite its flimsy evidence, bad historicity and failure to differentiate between correlation and causation.  People tend to drop off the face of the earth when the blindingly obvious conspiracy theorist logic in that movie is pointed out to them and they realise they've been had.

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 Quote:It has struck me how

 

Quote:
It has struck me how people's reactions to Jesus mythicism resembles that of the conspiracy theories.

Well, to be sure, there are Jesus mythicists whose theses sound a lot like conspiracy theories.  There are, however, quite a few contemporary mythicist scholars who are far from quacks and present very lucid, well researched treatises.

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I have seen many articles on the internet where theologists regard the existence of a historical Jesus as blatantly obvious.

Would you expect less, when the very religion itself is dependent on historicity?  They wouldn't be theologists if they weren't convinced of the theology, right?

Quote:
There are very few people who doubt the historicity of Jesus, and most people believe there is no question about it at all.

Honestly, I get annoyed by this line of reasoning.  Appeal to numbers is not good logic.  It has only been in the last half century that historians and archaeologists have had the tools and the freedom to suggest that the Jesus claim be examined more critically.  Probably 75% of people researching Jesus are dyed in the wool Christians.  Most of the rest are some kind of moderate theist.  Can we say "bias"?

Quote:
Those who do doubt it are considered closed-minded and wrong. It's as if we mythicists are treated like the conspiracy theorists, with exceptional views, negativity from the public, and claims that all our points have already been refuted by evidence.

Very true.  Now, to make sure the air is clear, I'm not a mythicist.  I don't have the background to make the positive claim that Jesus most likely didn't exist.  However, I do know enough to say that if the Christian mythology was based on a person, that person was essentially irrelevant to history, and didn't resemble the Gospel Jesus in any way other than the superficial.

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What makes it even more frustrating is that I haven't come across any compelling, scientific evidence that there WAS a historical Jesus to begin with.

So far as I know, there is absolutely none.

Quote:
The historical Jesus -articles I mentioned, inspect the issue from an unscientific perspective, without any clear distinction made between mythology and history, between scientific evidence and religious beliefs.

You're very perceptive.

Quote:
The evidence presented is often in the form of repeating what the gospels say, which doesn't substitute as enough proof for historicity of Jesus. All the so-called "extra-biblical sources" don't mention anything about Jesus that already wasn't in the gospels, and they usually just talk about Christians and not Jesus himself. STILL these sources are presented as clear, conclusive evidence, which they are certainly not!

That's correct.  There is no contemporary -- and more importantly, no independent  contemporary evidence for Jesus whatsoever.  The closest we have are the Pauline texts, many of which are of dubious authorship and origin, and none of which are referenced by any contemporary source.  It's not until the establishment of the religion that the history was "compiled."  We should note that all of the authors in the first century CE, that is, the gospel writers and the epistle writers, had every reason to exaggerate or outright fabricate stories.  They were clearly not objective sources.

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Why are there no actual experts who are also Jesus mythicists?

Robert Price

Richard Carrier 

Thomas L Thompson 

John G Jackson

Earl Doherty

Peter Gandy

Timothy Freke

Just to name a few.

 

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So then, Roswell, the

So then, Roswell, the Kennedy assassinations and 9/11 were pulled of by Opus Dei/Freemasons meeting in super secret Mormon temples to create the illusion that anyone who believes in conspiracies are nut jobs. Brilliant.

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EXC wrote:I think more

EXC wrote:

I think more like anti-drug crusaders. At least the religion drug.

I believe most 'Christian' only believe out of fear(Pascal's wager) or to get a high from 'believing'. Atheist 'preaching' is more like just getting people to realize they've been taking the drug of delusion and life could be OK without the addiction.

This isn't what I was going for. I was talking about the unfair bias and prejudice against Jesus mythicism, not about closed-minded religious faith.

EXC wrote:
A conspiracy theorist has to make up wild speculations without knowing the facts. We don't have to do that, the facts speak for themselves.

That's more like it. Unfortunately, facts and reasoning aren't in a very strong ground here. I can't understand how can researchers let their religious agenda get in the way of their historical scientific research. It's ridiculous. Imagine if this type of bias exited in other fields of science? Fields like biology and evolution.... Well, it already does, sort of.

hazindu wrote:
"There is more proof for the events of Jesus's death and resurrection than there is for George Washington being a human."

Gotta love these outrageous comparisons. "There's more proof of Jesus Christ existing than there was for Julius Caesar."

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Dear Confused

You are not confused. You know the answers. You just love a chat. You are going to be fine. I can tell by what you wrote that you get it anyway.

Yawn.

No offense.

Can we all agree on some christian forums to go to for a laugh?

Who would want to finish what they have said with the same thing everytime?


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Larty wrote:I can't

Larty wrote:

I can't understand how can researchers let their religious agenda get in the way of their historical scientific research. It's ridiculous. Imagine if this type of bias exited in other fields of science? Fields like biology and evolution.... Well, it already does, sort of.

Because we are biochemical and social creatures that want to feel good and be socially accepted by others. Religion does this for people, being rational and honest doesn't. So we often lie to ourselves. There is no reward or high for being an atheist.

 

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What matters is their

What matters is their arguments. I think the problem is there is so much rubbish mythicist scholarship out there, such as conspiracies, that it's not a surprise that most reject it. I would say the best of the historical Jesus argument IS better than he worse of the mythicist Jesus argument. That being said, there is some very good serious mythicist work out there, such as that by Carrier, Price, Doherty, that have enough of a foundation for it to be taken seriously by the mainstream. It certainly isn't proven, and I don't think any serious mythicist scholar should pretend it is, but a good case can be made that cannot just be dismissed out of hand. Unfortunately I don't think the mainstream has made a distinction between the poor and good mythicist scholarship. Regardless of what side you're on, I agree with Robert Price that we really just don't know whether Jesus existed, but if we fully applied the historical method to the historicity of Jesus, as we would to any other (non religious) matter, we can only arrive at 'agnosticism' on his existence.

 

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Topher wrote:What matters is

Topher wrote:

What matters is their arguments. I think the problem is there is so much rubbish mythicist scholarship out there, such as conspiracies, that it's not a surprise that most reject it. I would say the best of the historical Jesus argument IS better than he worse of the mythicist Jesus argument. That being said, there is some very good serious mythicist work out there, such as that by Carrier, Price, Doherty, that have enough of a foundation for it to be taken seriously by the mainstream. It certainly isn't proven, and I don't think any serious mythicist scholar should pretend it is, but a good case can be made that cannot just be dismissed out of hand. Unfortunately I don't think the mainstream has made a distinction between the poor and good mythicist scholarship.

I think we should come up with a distinguishing moniker for the non-conspiracy mythicist position. Something like non-speculative Jesus mythicism, or spiritual-Jesus mythicist, or something to distinguish it from the Acharya S./Zeitgeist type of mythicism.

When you put a different name on things, it creates a separate concept in peoples' minds and forces them to address the differences. For example, in a debate or discussion, you could counter a Straw Man by saying, "You're arguing against the conspiracy-mythicist position, which I do not hold. I'm arguing for the non-speculative mythicist position." Eventually, the distinction will filter into the mainstream.

Quote:
Regardless of what side you're on, I agree with Robert Price that we really just don't know whether Jesus existed, but if we fully applied the historical method to the historicity of Jesus, as we would to any other (non religious) matter, we can only arrive at 'agnosticism' on his existence.

This smells of the 50/50 agnosticism argument against atheism. With the stronger mythicist argument, you can claim that it is more likely than not that Jesus was a myth. That's not mere 50/50 agnosticism, and calling it 'agnosticism' will just unnecessarily cede ground. Better to make the stronger claim: A historical Jesus probably didn't exist. Still technically 'agnostic', but also solidly defensible.

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natural wrote:This smells of

natural wrote:

This smells of the 50/50 agnosticism argument against atheism. With the stronger mythicist argument, you can claim that it is more likely than not that Jesus was a myth. That's not mere 50/50 agnosticism, and calling it 'agnosticism' will just unnecessarily cede ground. Better to make the stronger claim: A historical Jesus probably didn't exist. Still technically 'agnostic', but also solidly defensible.

I was using agnosticism in its true sense: lack of knowledge. The fact is we do lack knowledge about the historicity of Jesus. We cannot make a case for something purely on speculation, and the fact is the only truly confident thing we can say is that we just don't know. Anything else lacks solid evidence or is just speculation. As you say, you can only claim which is more likely, so if we are honest with ourselves we should say "we really don't know, but it is more likely that..." I don't think we should come over too confident because I don't think the evidence as of yet supports a really confident case.

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Larty wrote:Conspiracy

Larty wrote:
Conspiracy theorists are people who believe in unscientific ideas that are disagreed upon by most people. Their views are usually regarded as socially unacceptable, and people have generally a negative attitude towards conspiracy theorists.

I'm sorry, but you began this thread with a very poor definition. Conspiracy theorists are people who subscribe to the beliefs in one or more conspiracy theory. A conspiracy theory is an unsusbstantiated (and often unprovable) thesis of clandestine human activity to 'cover up' or otherwise hide something from the general population. Conspiracy theories are actually pretty common. What separates the fringe subgroup of conspiracy theories that tend to bear the classification of the same name-- the JFK assassinations, the 9/11 attacks, practically all of the content of the Zeitgeist movie, alien abductions, and so on-- is two-fold: 1. the conclusions are usually fantastic, very broad, and include an unrealistically high number of conspirators for the secret to have remained clandestine for any reasonable period of time; 2. many key elements of 'proof' to the conspiracy require intuitive leaps in logic that require acceptance of the conclusion before reviewing the 'proofs' themselves, usually at the exclusion to facts that would lead the conclusion away from the desired end (commonly known as confirmation bias).

The problem with conspiracy theories is not that they suggest cover-up or clandestine activities. Cover-ups and 'secret' activities happen often enough to be believable or at least partially credible. It (the problem) is that they (conspiracy theories) require that these secrets and cover-ups to be present to unreasonable or unrealistic degrees, and they (conspiracy theories) tend to propagate the type of belief that some underdog-like effort is going to cause people to 'wake up' and see the 'truth' of the matter, not unlike evangelical religious belief in the first place.

So, to this end, those who are Jesus mythicists aren't necessarily engaging in conspracy theorizing. There may be instances where some arguments may be those of arguing from incredulity, but in all honesty I've not seen that in any kind of abundance here from individuals like Rook et al. I have seen it often elsewhere, but then again the other places where I've seen such arguments are often wrapping them up into related conspiracy theories (like the Zeitgeist movie), which pretty blatantly aligns it with the type of conspiracy-fringe-type thinking I describe above. Overall, though, I'd say that the RR Squad don't seem to me to exemplify the qualities that would possibly place them under the classification of conspiracy theory. I'm not saying that posing the question as a self-evaluation isn't healthy or useful (quite the opposite), but from what I know of the RRS the key qualities that constitute conspiracy theory don't seem to be present.

-----

Oh, and hambydammit: Freke and Gandy are a couple of frauds as far as I'm concerned. I wouldn't list them as reputable sources on the subject in any way. They fall under the blanket of supporting material for conspiracy theories, most notably for their publication using a known questionable artifact and claiming it as being something it is not. They are, at best, decently-educated hucksters. At worst, they qualify as conspiracy theorists themselves.


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I wouldn't call the JFK

I wouldn't call the JFK assassination ones "fringe" since unfortunately most Americans believe some of them.

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to answer the question you

to answer the question you posed in the title, yes, you really are a bunch of conspiracy theorists. Jesus mythicism is only taken seriously by fringe revisionist historians.

 

Larty wrote:

Conspiracy theorists are people who believe in unscientific ideas that are disagreed upon by most people.

if that is really the definition you accept for "conspiracy theorist", then you are by all means a conspiracy theorist. The Jesus myth does not adhere to serious historical methodology and is disagreed upon by the overwhelming vast majority of lay-persons and scholars involved.

Larty wrote:
Their views are usually regarded as socially unacceptable, and people have generally a negative attitude towards conspiracy theorists. "9/11 truthers" are considered the worst type of conspiracy theorists, since their campaigns are insulting, they fail to respond to reason or arguments and all their views are disagreed upon by the general public.

I would disagree. I would say that the Jesus myth is probably even more contemptable than any theory given by a twoofer.

Larty wrote:
It has struck me how people's reactions to Jesus mythicism resembles that of the conspiracy theories.

why are you surprised?

Larty wrote:
I have seen many articles on the internet where theologists regard the existence of a historical Jesus as blatantly obvious.

That's because it is! The New Testament provides many independent streams of tradition which attest to the historical Jesus. There is no way to explain the rise of these traditions so recently after Jesus' purported life if Jesus was not a real historical individual. Add the fact that there were so many pagan and Jewish critics of Christianity, and that Christianity was an illegal religion, and NOT A SINGLE ONE of the plethora of enemies denied or even doubted that Jesus existed.

Larty wrote:
There are very few people who doubt the historicity of Jesus, and most people believe there is no question about it at all.

Indeed, there is no question. even the incredibly radical John Crossan agrees that there is no question as to whether Jesus was indeed crucified.

Larty wrote:
Those who do doubt it are considered closed-minded and wrong.

I have yet to meet a Christ-myther who didn't fit that description.

Larty wrote:
It's as if we mythicists are treated like the conspiracy theorists, with exceptional views, negativity from the public, and claims that all our points have already been refuted by evidence.

you deserve whatever negativity you recieve. Scholars have refuted the incredibly vast bulk of your claims many decades ago. if you want a more modern scholarly treatment of the theory check out The Jesus Legend By Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd.

Larty wrote:
What makes it even more frustrating is that I haven't come across any compelling, scientific evidence that there WAS a historical Jesus to begin with.

1: I hate to break it to you, but science is not the end-all-be-all of truth disciplines. Science cannot stand on its own as a serious academic discipline because Science makes many presuppositions (namely metaphysical and mathematical statements) which cannot themselves be verified by science.

2: There is an overwhelming amount of historical evidence that Jesus Christ existed including: The Synoptic and Johannine Jesus traditions which, as shown by Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, are strongly connected to and rooted in Eyewitness testimony, the testimony of Paul the Apostle, the testimony of Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, the Testimony of Flavius Josephus, Mara Bar Serapion, the complete absense of any evidence to the contrary!

Larty wrote:
I'm about to graduate from highschool, and I definitely know how the scientific method works.

I would strongly suggest that you at least get a basic understanding of the philosophy of science and understand why Science is not the end-all-be-all of truth disciplines. There have even been criticisms of Rational realism by philosophers.

Larty wrote:
The historical Jesus -articles I mentioned, inspect the issue from an unscientific perspective, without any clear distinction made between mythology and history, between scientific evidence and religious beliefs.

Apparently the only apologists you have ever heard of are Kent Hovind, Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, and VenomFangX

Larty wrote:
The evidence presented is often in the form of repeating what the gospels say, which doesn't substitute as enough proof for historicity of Jesus.

if the Gospels are not enough to establish the bare fact of Jesus' Crucifixion, then all of ancient history needs to be cast out the window and any hope of knowledge of historical events prior to the 1800s is purely in vain.

Larty wrote:
All the so-called "extra-biblical sources" don't mention anything about Jesus that already wasn't in the gospels, and they usually just talk about Christians and not Jesus himself.

well that's certainly interesting, certainly explains the whole report of Jesus becoming larger than the clouds in the Gospel according to Peter

Larty wrote:
STILL these sources are presented as clear, conclusive evidence, which they are certainly not!

They absolutely are. To: Rook Hawkins and Brian Sapient, by adopting the views of fringe revisionist historians like Price, Dundes, and Carrier, you cast yourselves in an incredibly negative light. If you gave yourselves just an ounce of credibility by holding the the slightly more plausible (although demonstrably false of course) Bultmannian thesis, you would be vastly more effective in your atheistic web-evangelism.

Larty wrote:
Why are there no actual experts who are also Jesus mythicists?

because all the real experts are smart enough to see through the BS.

Larty wrote:
Why are we treated as conspiracy nuts, when the opposition can't present actual scientific evidence that they are right?

once again, science is not the end-all-be-all of truth disciplines (and you and everyone here accepts things without personally seeing any scientific evidence for them)

Larty wrote:
(Thanks for reading, by the way. I hope this made any sense.)

well it made grammatical sense I'll give it that, but as far as facts are concerned you completely failed.

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Topher wrote:Regardless of

Topher wrote:

Regardless of what side you're on, I agree with Robert Price that we really just don't know whether Jesus existed, but if we fully applied the historical method to the historicity of Jesus, as we would to any other (non religious) matter, we can only arrive at 'agnosticism' on his existence.

That's just being reasonable given the circumstances, though. Historically, there are interesting cases for lots of things (like trying to identify Catullus's girlfriend as so-and-so's wife) but that era of history is entirely speculative. There's always evidence to lead us to one thing or another, but it's purely a matter of interest in the topic. With religious writings, they seem to be taken more seriously, and are more prone to bias. They almost remove themselves from serious historical significance because of that bias.

Regardless, if Jesus existed, or represented an archetype or whatever, it's reasonable to say that we'll never really know, but that's only because we haven't found some compelling physical archeological evidence that supports the idea. It's just not a big deal, historically speaking. It's interesting, though. I find the mythicist argument more compelling because it seems more likely (i.e. that Jesus represents more of a literary short-hand character like an "action hero" or a "love interest" than an actual historical person).

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mig_killer2 wrote:to answer

mig_killer2 wrote:

to answer the question you posed in the title, yes, you really are a bunch of conspiracy theorists. Jesus mythicism is only taken seriously by fringe revisionist historians.

Doesn't really address the argument, though. See, I think the concept is interesting, not threatening. It's just another interpretation - it doesn't hurt anybody.

mig_killer2 wrote:
The Jesus myth does not adhere to serious historical methodology and is disagreed upon by the overwhelming vast majority of lay-persons and scholars involved.

Sure it adheres to "serious historical methodology", which is just "Hey, look at this: do we have something here?" There's no magic to any of it, it's just ideas.

mig_killer2 wrote:
I would disagree. I would say that the Jesus myth is probably even more contemptable than any theory given by a twoofer.

Why? Ancient history is actually very difficult to confirm, whereas 9/11 "theories" are easy to dismiss.

Larty wrote:
It has struck me how people's reactions to Jesus mythicism resembles that of the conspiracy theories.

mig_killer2 wrote:
The New Testament provides many independent streams of tradition which attest to the historical Jesus. There is no way to explain the rise of these traditions so recently after Jesus' purported life if Jesus was not a real historical individual. Add the fact that there were so many pagan and Jewish critics of Christianity, and that Christianity was an illegal religion, and NOT A SINGLE ONE of the plethora of enemies denied or even doubted that Jesus existed.

Actually, he's not mentioned. I think Josephus mentions him in passing, and Tacitus refers to his cult, but that's it. So you don't need to deny anything there. Again, I'm not suggesting that he didn't exist, because I frankly couldn't possibly know, but it's odd that he wouldn't be mentioned if he was so significant.

mig_killer2 wrote:
once again, science is not the end-all-be-all of truth disciplines (and you and everyone here accepts things without personally seeing any scientific evidence for them)

It's true - there's no be-all-and-end-all truth making machine. But science is the most successful epistemological process. Hands down.

mig_killer2 wrote:
well it made grammatical sense I'll give it that, but as far as facts are concerned you completely failed.

That's not true, it was a post made up largely of questions. How can one fail asking questions for clarification?

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First things first, your

First things first, your ignorance is overwhelming.

HisWillness wrote:

Doesn't really address the argument, though.

his point about people treating Christ-mythers wasn't an argument.

HisWillness wrote:
See, I think the concept is interesting, not threatening. It's just another interpretation - it doesn't hurt anybody.

so?

HisWillness wrote:
Sure it adheres to "serious historical methodology", which is just "Hey, look at this: do we have something here?" There's no magic to any of it, it's just ideas.

*facepalm & headdesk* I shoulden't even be dignifying this post with a response.

HisWillness wrote:
Why? Ancient history is actually very difficult to confirm

not quite. asserting this isn't going to get us anywhere.

HisWillness wrote:
whereas 9/11 "theories" are easy to dismiss.

great. Its even easier for me to dismiss the Jesus myth than the 9/11 conspiracy theories.

HisWillness wrote:
Actually, he's not mentioned.

have you ever heard of Trypho or Celsus or Julian the Apostate?

HisWillness wrote:
I think Josephus mentions him in passing, and Tacitus refers to his cult, but that's it.

Tacitus refers to Jesus and his crucifixion when he says "who suffered the extreme penalty under one of our procurators Pontius Pilatus"

HisWillness wrote:
So you don't need to deny anything there. Again, I'm not suggesting that he didn't exist, because I frankly couldn't possibly know, but it's odd that he wouldn't be mentioned if he was so significant.

as John P. Meier notes, Jesus was a marginal Jew in a marginal province in a vast roman Empire. it is rather hard to say that if the Gospel portrait is true that he would have been noticed outside of Palestine or Galilee.

HisWillness wrote:
It's true - there's no be-all-and-end-all truth making machine. But science is the most successful epistemological process. Hands down.

at best it's most useful for improving the quality of life (and the destruction of said life). the second point I should make is that science can never stand on its own as a over-arching truth discipline. it makes many presuppositions which are unprovable scientifically.

HisWillness wrote:
That's not true, it was a post made up largely of questions. How can one fail asking questions for clarification?

a comment can fail if it asks a stupid question or one that simply does not deserve to be asked.

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 Quote:That's just being

 

Quote:
That's just being reasonable given the circumstances, though. Historically, there are interesting cases for lots of things (like trying to identify Catullus's girlfriend as so-and-so's wife) but that era of history is entirely speculative. There's always evidence to lead us to one thing or another, but it's purely a matter of interest in the topic. With religious writings, they seem to be taken more seriously, and are more prone to bias. They almost remove themselves from serious historical significance because of that bias.

I don't call myself a Jesus mythicist even though I suspect that there was no historical Jesus.  As I explained to a friend of mine a few days ago, talking about historical figures is a real problem anyway since what we're really discussing is a narrative.  Put another way, we can talk about the Vietnam war, but someone will rightly contest that it was the Vietnam Conflict, not a war.  Was the U.S. the aggressor at Tonkin?  Does that mean we invaded Vietnam, or did we assist the faction of Vietnamese who wanted democracy instead of communism?  These are all questions of narrative, but in the objective universe, there was series of events that happened in Vietnam.  This is the problem of history.

As far as Jesus goes, I find the evidence to be rather skewed towards the Gospels as fiction and the Pauline epistles as either misinformed or misleading or both.  I don't believe Paul referred to James as the brother of Jesus.  I believe he referred to him as "a brother" in the same way that all early Christians were called "brothers in Christ."  Peter?  I dunno.  However, I can think of a few reasons why someone might lie about being related to god.

Nevertheless, this doesn't really even address the question of a historical Jesus.  It only addresses the question of the narrative.  When we ask if there was a historical Jesus, we must be very clear about what we mean:

1) Was there a real person in the objective universe who did everything exactly as portrayed in the Gospel(s)?  Certainly not.

2) Was the first gospel partially inspired by a living man?  Possibly, though there's not enough evidence to say with any likelihood.

3) Was there a significant person who really existed who preached a message similar to that of the Gospel Jesus in or around the area depicted in the Gospel?  Who knows!

The point is, a "historical Jesus" need not be particularly similar to the Gospel or Pauline Jesus.  Consider that Wonder Woman (the DC comic character) was based on her creator's wife.  William Marston admired his wife's ability to tell when people were lying, and loved her for her sense of justice and fairness.  When he created Wonder Woman, he exaggerated the very human quality of intuiting lies and essentially deified it, giving his character a magic lasso, and having her come from a magical island of goddesses.

Will future historians ever debate whether or not there was a historical Wonder Woman?  I doubt it, mostly because nobody will care.  If they did, however, there would be a real problem.  You see, there was a historical Wonder Woman, but only in the loosest sense.  There was someone who inspired the story to be written.  She didn't do anything of significance that was the same as in the comics, but it's highly likely that some real life events in the Marston household inspired certain episodes in the life of Wonder Woman, though the significance might only be in the mind of the writer.

So is Wonder Woman fiction?  Clearly.  Is Wonder Woman historical?  Clearly not.  Is there a "Historical Wonder Woman"?  It depends on what you mean by "historical."

Quote:
Regardless, if Jesus existed, or represented an archetype or whatever, it's reasonable to say that we'll never really know, but that's only because we haven't found some compelling physical archeological evidence that supports the idea.

It's worse than that.  Suppose we find archeological evidence of a preacher in or around Palestine on or around the first of the millenium.  Suppose we find a record of him being executed by the Romans.  Suppose his name is similar enough to Jesus to suggest a connection.  Even if we found all of that, we would still not be sure we had a historical Jesus on our hands, and we would still have to argue over the narrative.  I feel certain that William Marston knew quite a few women, and I feel certain that some other women in his life inspired him to create narratives in his comic.  Does that make all of them the historical Wonder Woman?

If we found a historical figure like the Maybe-Jesus I just mentioned, that's all well and good, but what if there was someone else who really lived around that time who claimed to be the son of the one true god and predicted that the Romans would kill him for his preaching?  How are we to know that the author of the gospel didn't look at the first Maybe-Jesus and begin to write a fictional story, and then included the death prediction after learning of the second figure?  We just don't know.

The bottom line is that the Gospel is fiction whether it was intended to be or not.  I can't think of any good reason to suppose it was not intended as fiction, but we can't say for sure, so there you go.  The point is, there most certainly was not a man who did any of the miraculous things attributed to Jesus in the Gospel because miracles don't happen.  ANY figure whose life in any way inspired the Gospel can only be viewed as an inspiration for a fiction.  The intent of the writer is irrelevant.

So, historians can dicker all day about the historical Jesus, but in the end, they're arguing about narratives, not real people who existed in the objective universe.  It's as simple as that.

 

 

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mig_killer2 wrote:First

mig_killer2 wrote:
First things first, your ignorance is overwhelming.

Then enlighten me.

mig_killer2 wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
See, I think the concept is interesting, not threatening. It's just another interpretation - it doesn't hurt anybody.

so?

You're just being remarkably defensive, that's all.

mig_killer2 wrote:
*facepalm & headdesk* I shoulden't even be dignifying this post with a response.

Then don't. Or take a pill or something.

mig_killer2 wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
Why? Ancient history is actually very difficult to confirm

not quite. asserting this isn't going to get us anywhere.

Explain to me where we would be "getting" simply assuming that all our sources were telling the absolute truth? You have to take it with a grain of salt when it's that old.

mig_killer2 wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
whereas 9/11 "theories" are easy to dismiss.

great. Its even easier for me to dismiss the Jesus myth than the 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Not quite - I can compare video footage and pictures, which are unavailable to ancient historians. Ancient history was written before there was a serious historical method. Documents often involve allegory and exaggeration. The likelihood that allegory and exaggeration will be seen in an ancient document is fairly good. With modern stories, we have a great deal more evidence to compare than with something written down 2,000 years ago. That's all I meant.

mig_killer2 wrote:
have you ever heard of Trypho or Celsus or Julian the Apostate?

Justin the Martyr's dialogue with Trypho only gives me pause because the dialogue is sourced from two manuscripts, and one is a copy of the other. The first was written 1364. One manuscript is a bit weak for evidence of an actual historical person, especially so late. Celsus is one source for the story that Mary was impregnated by the soldier "Panthera". Now, personally, I figure that's probably just anti-Christian bias from the time, because there's good evidence that there was a great deal. But writing around the time of Marcus Aurelius makes his writing an attack on the tradition, not the man. The cult of Jesus had been going for decades by then. Celsus was attacking the stories, not an actual man (of which he knew only what he learned from Christian tradition). A fourth century Roman emperor is an interesting source, considering bias and distance from the actual person of Jesus.

You're the one who gets all excited about serious historical method - you just seem to have a healthy skepticism for some things, and other things get a pass because they're associated with your favourite deity.

mig_killer2 wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
I think Josephus mentions him in passing, and Tacitus refers to his cult, but that's it.

Tacitus refers to Jesus and his crucifixion when he says "who suffered the extreme penalty under one of our procurators Pontius Pilatus"

Yes, he does. And while that passage doesn't really read like Tacitus (if you read Latin, and you've read a lot of Tacitus, you know what I mean - it looks like a change in style) that's not enough for me to consider the passage to be inauthentic. The only problem is that Tacitus is relaying the story of the Christians, and again, he writes decades after the fact, and the first manuscript we actually have is from the 9th century. That manuscript is probably a copy of a copy from the 3rd or 4th century, though, so it's still more solid than the sources you mention above.

mig_killer2 wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
It's true - there's no be-all-and-end-all truth making machine. But science is the most successful epistemological process. Hands down.

at best it's most useful for improving the quality of life (and the destruction of said life). the second point I should make is that science can never stand on its own as a over-arching truth discipline. it makes many presuppositions which are unprovable scientifically.

Just so we're clear: did you just say that science makes presuppositions which are unprovable scientifically? First, science doesn't "prove". Second, the whole point of the scientific method is to eliminate as much of the effect of presupposition as possible. I'm not sure what you're saying.

mig_killer2 wrote:
a comment can fail if it asks a stupid question or one that simply does not deserve to be asked.

I didn't know there were questions that didn't "deserve" to be asked. Your perspective seems a bit like a closed mind, but you should clarify before I reach that conclusion.

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 mig_killer2 wrote:The

 

mig_killer2 wrote:
The Jesus myth does not adhere to serious historical methodology and is disagreed upon by the overwhelming vast majority of lay-persons and scholars involved.

In fact New Testament scholarship fails to adhere to expect historical methodology. Richard Carrier writes about this here (on the topic of his book on Jesus' historicity):

 

...[the book] will involve, however, a return to what historians actually do in other fields, which New Testament scholars seem to have gotten away from in their zeal to make sense of data that's basically screwed in every conceivable way. For when it comes to establishing the basic parameters of core documents, I have never met the kind of chaos I've encountered in this field in any other subfield of ancient history I've studied. Elsewhere, more often than not, either the matter is settled, or no one pretends it is.

. . . .

Already I encountered a general muddle even before getting to this particular vexation. In any other field, when historians don't know the exact year a book was written, they determine a terminus post quem ("point after which," also written terminus a quo) and a terminus ante quem ("point before which," also written terminus ad quem) and then conclude the book was written sometime between those two years. And they admit they can't know any more than that, which is something New Testament scholars tend to gloss over, often wanting to fix the year more exactly than the evidence actually allows, and then browbeat anyone who disagrees with them.

 

In other areas of history we don't try that. If the terminal dates for On Playing with Small Balls (an actual book written by Galen, no kidding) are "between A.D. 150 and 210" then we accept that On Playing with Small Balls may have been written at any time within that sixty-year span. We don't scoff at someone who suggests it could have been written near the end of the author's life, nor claim as if it were a decided fact that it was written at the start of his career instead. Either is possible.

 

But in New Testament studies, the fact that the evidence only establishes termini for Matthew between A.D. 70 and 130 isn't something you will hear about in the references. Indeed, I say 130 only because the possibility that the earliest demonstrable terminus ante quem for Matthew may be as late as 170 involves a dozen more digressions even lengthier than this entire post.

 

The field of New Testament studies needs to get its house in order. Until it does, I'll have to do without what I can normally rely upon in other fields: well-supported conclusions (or a ready consensus on the range of conclusions possible) on the most fundamental issues of evidence.

 

http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2008/09/ignatian-vexation.html

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Topher wrote:In fact New

Topher wrote:

In fact New Testament scholarship fails to adhere to expect historical methodology. Richard Carrier writes about this here (on the topic of his book on Jesus' historicity):

 

You are damn crazy if you think that I'm going to take seriously a man who has just earned his Ph.D, does not hold any teaching position, and only publishes with Prometheus press and "The Journal of Higher Criticism", and at hte same time talks down to the other great scholars of New Testament studies who VASTLY outclass him academically.

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 Quote:You are damn crazy

 

Quote:
You are damn crazy if you think that I'm going to take seriously a man who has just earned his Ph.D, does not hold any teaching position, and only publishes with Prometheus press and "The Journal of Higher Criticism", and at hte same time talks down to the other great scholars of New Testament studies who VASTLY outclass him academically.

So, reverse appeal to authority.  Nice.

 

 

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
You are damn crazy if you think that I'm going to take seriously a man who has just earned his Ph.D, does not hold any teaching position, and only publishes with Prometheus press and "The Journal of Higher Criticism", and at hte same time talks down to the other great scholars of New Testament studies who VASTLY outclass him academically.

So, reverse appeal to authority.  Nice.

 

 

an appeal to authority is only a fallacy if the person to whom you are appealing is not an authority. But in this case, it would only be a fallacy if the person to whom you are reverse-appealing is an authority. but in all seriousness, we make appeals to authority every day in our lives.

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mig_killer2 wrote:Topher

mig_killer2 wrote:

Topher wrote:

In fact New Testament scholarship fails to adhere to expect historical methodology. Richard Carrier writes about this here (on the topic of his book on Jesus' historicity):

 

You are damn crazy if you think that I'm going to take seriously a man who has just earned his Ph.D, does not hold any teaching position, and only publishes with Prometheus press and "The Journal of Higher Criticism", and at hte same time talks down to the other great scholars of New Testament studies who VASTLY outclass him academically.

Deal with his argument, not his qualifications. There are all sorts of Christian New Testament scholars who outclass Carrier in terms of academic achievement but that does not mean they are right. I'm sure there are many Muslims or Jewish scholars who outclass Christian scholars, but I'm sure you're not going to stand by their views on your beliefs because of their academic superiority.


mig_killer2 wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
You are damn crazy if you think that I'm going to take seriously a man who has just earned his Ph.D, does not hold any teaching position, and only publishes with Prometheus press and "The Journal of Higher Criticism", and at hte same time talks down to the other great scholars of New Testament studies who VASTLY outclass him academically.

So, reverse appeal to authority.  Nice.

an appeal to authority is only a fallacy if the person to whom you are appealing is not an authority. But in this case, it would only be a fallacy if the person to whom you are reverse-appealing is an authority. but in all seriousness, we make appeals to authority every day in our lives.

No, an appeal to authority is when you make a conclusion about an argument purely on an authority, rather than the argument itself. For example, saying someone is wrong or right based on who they are rather than their arguments.

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 Quote:an appeal to

 

Quote:
an appeal to authority is only a fallacy if the person to whom you are appealing is not an authority.

False.  An appeal to authority is a fallacy if the argument is that So-and-So is an authority and is therefore correct.  You are suggesting that So-and-So is not an authority and is therefore wrong.  You have not refuted his argument.  Therefore, it is a reverse appeal to authority.

Quote:
but in all seriousness, we make appeals to authority every day in our lives.

Perhaps you do.  I'd look into that if I were you.

 

 

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Dismissing Carrier's words

Dismissing Carrier's words because he's outnumbered by people who have been doing this (religious-related scholarship) for longer is a fallacious appeal to authority. Unless you can display how what opposing scholars have to say that can logically and reasonably be shown to discredit his words, you're just playing a game of schoolyard pissing contests. Carrier makes a very good point about the lack of focus on verification on some things taken for granted within New Testament scholarship. I'd disagree with him only on a matter of degree, since this has been changing over the last two decades within historical scholarship of the New Testament and related extant texts.

Don't mistake my disagreement over degree with a criticism of Carrier's scholarship or credentials, though, because I think he has respectable credentials regardless of my level of agreement or disagreement. Making arguments using appeals to authority as an end to itself (as support for an argument) does the argument no good without the actual scholarship taking place. When we learn about our history, our understanding begins to change accordingly. Some of my books of study have been written in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, but hindsight clearly shows where the authors of these books had some things wrong or were clearly off in their bases of reference. That doesn't make the authors of the books I have completely useless, but it doesn't make their scholarship's age somehow more correct than newer scholarship either.

-----

MattShizzle wrote:
I wouldn't call the JFK assassination ones "fringe" since unfortunately most Americans believe some of them.

I call them fringe because no single theory has any real majority in the public view. It's like a subculture of its own, with its own subcultures inside of it ranging from a single instance of political assassination to being a vast conspiracy relating to the start of every war and even relating to 9/11 conspiracy nonsense. The JFK nonsense has simply had the opportunity to stay active over a few generations now and it's becoming a pop-culture of its own (as evidenced by Stone's film).

-----

HisWillness wrote:
Topher wrote:
Regardless of what side you're on, I agree with Robert Price that we really just don't know whether Jesus existed, but if we fully applied the historical method to the historicity of Jesus, as we would to any other (non religious) matter, we can only arrive at 'agnosticism' on his existence.

That's just being reasonable given the circumstances, though. Historically, there are interesting cases for lots of things (like trying to identify Catullus's girlfriend as so-and-so's wife) but that era of history is entirely speculative. There's always evidence to lead us to one thing or another, but it's purely a matter of interest in the topic. With religious writings, they seem to be taken more seriously, and are more prone to bias. They almost remove themselves from serious historical significance because of that bias.

Regardless, if Jesus existed, or represented an archetype or whatever, it's reasonable to say that we'll never really know, but that's only because we haven't found some compelling physical archeological evidence that supports the idea. It's just not a big deal, historically speaking. It's interesting, though. I find the mythicist argument more compelling because it seems more likely (i.e. that Jesus represents more of a literary short-hand character like an "action hero" or a "love interest" than an actual historical person).

I don't think that what Topher stated and what you replied are exclusive to each other.


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GreNME wrote:I don't think

GreNME wrote:

I don't think that what Topher stated and what you replied are exclusive to each other.

I have the unfortunate habit of agreeing with people by blathering on. Is that what you meant? Your sentence has a touch of ambiguity.

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Considering my penchant

Considering my penchant toward verbosity and the fact that I'm terrible at giving terse statements, I apologize for not seeing that you were agreeing. Yeah, that's what I meant-- there was no contradiction or conflict between the two of your statements.


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Just agreeing with you, with

Just agreeing with you, with some clarifications.

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
an appeal to authority is only a fallacy if the person to whom you are appealing is not an authority.

False.  An appeal to authority is a fallacy if the argument is that So-and-So is an authority and is therefore correct.  You are suggesting that So-and-So is not an authority and is therefore wrong.  You have not refuted his argument.  Therefore, it is a reverse appeal to authority.

More specifically, it is an Ad Hominem fallacy. If Paris Hilton had made the same argument, it wouldn't matter one bit. The argument stands on its own merits. Who makes the argument is irrelevant, except for proper citation and attribution.

Quote:
Quote:
but in all seriousness, we make appeals to authority every day in our lives.

Perhaps you do.  I'd look into that if I were you. 

Even if we were to grant that we do in fact use argument from authority in our daily lives, it is *still* a logical fallacy. We're not talking about our daily lives here, we're talking about a logical argument, where fallacies do not apply.

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 Good points, natural.  I

 Good points, natural.  I forget why I wanted to look at it as a "reverse appeal to authority" but it seems like maybe someone had accused someone else of an appeal to authority, so I just wanted to show that this is the same thing.  Essentially, an ad hominem could be called a reverse appeal to authority.  I'd never really thought about it until just now, but it makes some sense.

We do use appeals to authority everyday, and it is technically a logical fallacy, although we could construct an inductive argument as follows:

1) Bob has extensive knowledge of farming.

2) Bob says X about farming.

3) Almost everything Bob has said about farming in the past has turned out to be true.

4) There is a high likelihood that X is true.

This would not, IMO be an appeal to authority, but rather an argument for the probability of the accuracy of X.  It's important to note that it isn't an argument for X.  It's an argument for the probability of X.  This is what we ordinarily do in our day to day lives if we are good critical thinkers.  

 

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For some strange reason, you

For some strange reason, you seem to consider the scientific method something that historians and biblical scholars utilize to access history.

 

If it were, the history of the world would look like this:

"Prehistory"--------->"Blank."--------->"Some photographs documenting midwestern american life in the 1800's"------>"the 1900's"

 

History is looked at through documentation and anecdotal evidence. We have a far better account of the existence of jesus then we do for socrates. Does this mean jesus was the son of god? No, does it mean jesus existed? Only if you believe Socrates existed.