Exploring Our Matrix
The Blog of Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis
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Via Phil Plait, a hilarious video from Jon Stewart on how challengers to science do what they do. Since I can’t embed it, here are links to it on Hulu and on the Daily Show web site.
Can anyone really say that the real opponents of science that are parodied in the video are fundamentally different from mythicists and other denialists?
Dr. McGrath can’t seem to make up his mind. At one point he will state unequivocally that the case for the historicity of Jesus is much less well-established than the case for evolution and that agnosticism about the existence of Jesus is a respectable position. At other times he makes post like this.
I wonder if there are climate-scientists and evolutionary biologists who think that agnosticism about evolution and climate change are respectable positions.
Regular readers will know why I have given up trying to interact with beallen. But for the benefit of others, I will point out that in discussing popular responses to domains of science or history in which spin doctors have been hard at work, I can respect those who respond in this way to the mixed messages they feel they are getting, even though I would disagree with them on the need to be agnostic. I do not have the same sort of respect for those who worked to confuse the issue by their promotion of denialism in the first place.
I think there are many issues in both history and science about which a person can rationally hold a minority position without calling into question the possibility of valid historical or scientific knowledge. On the other hand, I think think there are other issues upon which denial leads to nihilism.
For example, from what I know about the issue, i think that a person could conclude that it is most likely that William Shakespeare did not write the plays which are attributed him without abandoning any hope of ever expressing any degree of certainty about any historical issue. On the other hand, I don’t think a person can rationally deny the Holocaust without denying the very possibility of that history is objectively knowable.
I think that opponents of science effectively deny the possibility that objective knowledge about the world can be empirically derived. I don’t think that everyone who questions the historicity of Jesus is doing the same thing.
Regular readers will know that Dr. McGrath frequently puts in this disclaimer before interacting with me. Usually this is followed by some churchy doublespeak that is as hard to understand as it is to read.
Evidently, contrary to his prior statements, he does believe Richard Carrier to be a crackpot, since Dr. Carrier clearly has more than a popular understanding of the issues at hand.
One wonders what criticisms Dr. McGrath has of Gerd Ludemann, who claims that Paul is not a witness to the historicity of Jesus.
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