Mythicism as Conspiracy Theory

That’s the title of an article in Slate by Evgeny Morozov, and there are a couple of quotes in which a simple substitution can be made so that they apply equally well to creationists, mythicists, and other denialists. Here’s an example:

“In other words, mere exposure to the current state of the scientific historical consensus will not sway hard-core opponents of vaccination Jesus’ historicity. They are too vested in upholding their contrarian theories; some have consulting and speaking gigs to lose while others simply enjoy a sense of belonging to a community, no matter how kooky.”

HT Mike Wilson

  • Anonymous

    What percentage of the scholars who affirm the existence of the historical Jesus also believe that demons exist and cause disease?

  • http://twitter.com/gbienzobas Gabriel Bienzobas

    Pot calling the kettle black. Name calling, poor logic, is this what you have come down to James?

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      How is this an instance of the pot calling the kettle black? Do you view all views, whether in science, history, or anything else, to equally represent conspiracy, with no genuine knowledge and no way to get closer to the truth?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Beallen, what percentage of scholars who affirm that excessive military spending hastened the collapse of the U.S.S.R. also believe that demons exist and cause disease?  

    • Anonymous

      Mike, there is such a thing as a dependent variable and an independent variable. There is no necessary relationship between military spending beliefs about the USSR and demon possession, but there is a necessary relationship between beliefs about demon possession and beliefs about the existence of Jesus. I would argue that any Jesus scholar who believes in demon possession will automatically believe in the historicity of Jesus. I invite you to show me an exception. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

        Beallen, to the best of my knowledge there are only two living scholars who will state they think Jesus was a myth, so whatever your criteria, you’re more likely to find a HJ scholar represented, whether it be believing in demons, being in the mile high club, or being a card carrying Marxist. Personally, my favorite New Testament scholars have been atheist, and while I haven’t asked, I doubt they believe in demon possession. Now as a hypothetical, if a New Ager or African animist was a Jesus scholar, would their belief in demon possession automatically force them to accept that Jesus existed?

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  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    Interesting. I quote Vansina and McGrath and Howell and Prevenier without misrespresentation and McGrath quotes Morozov apart from context. Let’s read the preceding paragraphs of his article:

    Thus, Jenny McCarthy, an actress Dr McGrath, who has
    become the public face of the anti-vaccination antimythicist movement, boasts that much of her his knowledge about the harms of vaccination mythicism comes from “the university of Google. Wikipedia and blogs.”

    First, the anti-vaccination anti-mythicist cohort
    likes to move the goal posts: As scientists mythicists debunked the link between autism and mercury (once present in some childhood inoculations but now found mainly in certain flu vaccines) Vansina’s arguments and the HJ scholar’s use of the criterion of embarrassment, they move on to Vansina’s time-line between events and mythical elements in the tales which is again shot down http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/01/more-mythicist-misrepresentation.html#comment-419988299 , but then he moves on to . . . . . or just walks away. . .

    Second, it isn’t clear whether scientists mythicists can “discredit” the movement’s false claims at all: Its members are skeptical of what scientists mythicists have to say—not least because they suspect hidden connections between academia and pharmaceutical companies mythicists and atheists out to destroy Christianity . . .

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I appreciated your claim to not have misrepresented me and others, Neil. Fortunately I was not drinking a beverage when I read it, or the mess might have detracted from your comment’s entertainment value.

      • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

        So you are walking away from providing any evidence for your accusation that I misrepresented anyone.

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          No, I am still here, as always, and happy to point anyone interested to the discussion where you tried to claim that I said the opposite of what I wrote, despite my protestations.

          • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

            Once again, let me repeat my request. Please supply me with evidence I misrepresented you. If I quote you in full and give my own views that is not misrepresenting you. But you also said I misrepresented Vansina and Howell and Prevenier. Now provide the evidence or issue a withdrawal of your accusation.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    So you are going to pretend that this exchange didn’t take place? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/01/history-is-to-mythicism-and-science-is-to-creationism-as-mcdonalds-is-to.html

    I said that those working on the historical Jesus use the same tools and methods, and if anything, try to make the criteria more explicit due to their field being controversy-prone. You insisted on claiming that I said that historical Jesus scholars use different criteria and principles.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Well people can read that conversation for themselves and all my efforts to ask you to clarify your meaning in the passage of yours that I quoted IN FULL — and that you repeatedly insisted was entirely SELF-explanatory. I asked you repeatedly for clarification and you insisted that you were completely satisfied that no clarification was needed because what you wrote in that paragraph was entirely self-explanatory.

      Your own passage says that HJ scholars come up with EXTRA tools — you admitted this — because you said the normal tools won’t convince mythicists. That’s what you said and I merely quoted you in full.

      Now you can deny you wrote what you wrote, but everyone can read for themselves exactly what you wrote and make up their own minds.

      Now, you also said I misrepresented V and H&P. I am still waiting for evidence. You have none and simply made a blatantly false accusation.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      You are here to defend yourself. Don’t you think you also owe it to Vansina and Howell and Prevenier to put in a word on their behalf and point out where I have misrepresented them, too, if you insist on saying I have done so?

      • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        I don’t need to defend myself. As you said, people can read that conversation, see how many times I pointed out that what I said was the opposite of what you were claiming I said. I think that covers everything that needs to be said in that particular topic.

        • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

          So if I quoted you in full I did not misrepresent you merely by expressing my opinion about your words.

          So for your next trick will you NOT walk away from my request that you offer evidence for your accusation that I misrepresented Howell and Prevenier and Vansina, — please? Or simply withdraw your accusation?

          Will you, further, not walk away from my request that you respond to the specifics of my argument that your reference to the rough approximate time frame addressed within the Hopi case study actually speaks against the NT paradigm of gospel origins vis a vis known facts about oral traditions?

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  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    & why do I have to ask you a dozen times every time before you ever come half-way close to trying to answer directly a question of mine?

    • Geoff Hudson

      I am amazed that your comments are not sent into James’s spam filter. 

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Neil, that is the whole point. You do not need to ask hundreds of times, and it is not appropriate for you to do so. The appropriate thing to do is read what I actually write and put whatever effort you need to into comprehending it.

      It would also help if you stop pretending that I “walk away.” Where do you imagine that I go, exactly?

      Why do you insist on making attempts to communicate with you so bizarrely frustrating?

      • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

        Dr McGrath, will you please stop walking away from my request that you provide evidence that I have misrepresented V and H&P or withdraw your accusation?

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          What is wrong with the responses I’ve already offered? Why is it that you just continue to provide illustrations of your inability to engage in normal human conversation? Why is it that, when I asked where I allegedly walked away to, you ignore it and yet persist in claiming that I did so?

          Neil, do you suffer from a mental illness that those attempting to converse with you ought to be aware of? I, like most people, will gladly make allowances for things that are beyond an individual’s control, but if we are not told, then we are left to wonder whether there is genuinely something wrong or we are just dealing with a troll.

  • Giorgio A Tsoukalos

    This image is tangentially related.

  • Joe222

    Here are the facts. All numbers refer to total mercury;

    0.5 parts per billion (ppb) mercury = Kills human neuroblastoma cells (Parran et al., Toxicol Sci 2005; 86: 132-140).
    2 ppb mercury = U.S. EPA limit for drinking water (http://www.epa. gov/safewater/ contaminants/ index.html# mcls).
    20 ppb mercury = Neurite membrane structure destroyed (Leong et al., Neuroreport 2001; 12: 733-37).
    200 ppb mercury = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste based on toxicity characteristics.
    http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/tsd/mercury/regs.htm
    25,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose, Hepatitis B vaccine vials, administered at birth from 1991-2001 in the U.S.
    50,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose DTaP and Haemophilus B vaccine vials, administered 8 times in the 1990’s to children at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age and currently “preservative” level mercury in multi-dose flu, meningococcal and tetanus vaccines. This can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi-dose vials.
     

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  • Gakuseidon

    Neil, I’ve gone through both this thread and the “History is to Mythicism and Science is to Creationism as McDonald’s is to…” thread.

    This is what McGrath wrote in the other thread:

    “And of course, let’s not forget the obvious example of historical Jesus research, which because of the fact that there are wackos of all sorts who wish to say every sort of thing possible about Jesus, or even claim he did not exist, historians have had to try to come up with objective criteria to defend minimal conclusions about matters that would, if it were any other figure from history, be considered obvious and beyond dispute.”

    It seems to me that McGrath meant, “Wackos aren’t satisfied with objective criteria that would satisfy them if it were applied to some other subject.” Since his comment was made in a thread called “History is to Mythicism and Science is to Creationism as McDonald’s is to…”, it appears to me that his comment is more about the intractability of fringe thinkers (including creationists, as per the heading) than on HJ scholars using different objective criteria or tools to other historians.

    Here is how you evaluated his comment on the other thread:

    “So HJ scholars are unable to rely upon the normal standards by which historical persons are known to exist and come up with methods that are not found in any other historical discipline.”

    and

    “But by your own admission you are saying that HJ scholars have to create their own principles to do studies — their own criteria.”

    and

    “It is very clear that you are saying that HJ scholars have a situation unlike other historical studies and, instead of applying normative historical methods to their area, as do those historians who apply normative methods to oral history etc, HJ scholars come up with something unique.”

    and

    “Your example of HJ studies is quite different. It is in effect saying, well, the methods don’t give us what we want to find so we have to find some “method” that will give us the sorts of things we do want to find.”

    Then, in this thread, McGrath wrote by way of explanation:

    “I said that those working on the historical Jesus use the same tools and methods, and if anything, try to make the criteria more explicit due to their field being controversy-prone. You insisted on claiming that I said that historical Jesus scholars use different criteria and principles.”

    From your comments I reproduced above, McGrath does seem to be correct. You seem to have lost the implication that McGrath’s comment was directed to fringe theorists. You seem to be suggesting that he meant HJ scholars use unique methods; not to combat mythicism, but to “give them the sorts of things they do want to find”.

    To which you responded:

    “Your own passage says that HJ scholars come up with EXTRA tools — you admitted this — because you said the normal tools won’t convince mythicists. That’s what you said and I merely quoted you in full.”

    Which seems to be a different evaluation to your earlier ones above. (Even then, not sure what you mean by “extra tools”, since McGrath wrote “more explicit criteria”, which fits with his original comment)

    Neil, I apologise if I have misrepresented you.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      I am sure Dr McGrath will thank you, GDon, for your assistance in covering for him while he walks away from providing evidence that I misrepresented him.

      I quoted Dr McGrath in full after repeatedly ascertaining from him that his words needed no explanation and were clear in their own right. I quoted those words with my own views. I quoted his words in full along with my interpretation. That is not misrepresentation. Dr McGrath himself has recently conceded the facts though he has not conceded I was innocent of misrepresentation.

      Accordingly I passed along from that case and moved on to the other two instances where McGrath accused me of misrepresentation: Vansina and Howell & Prevenier. He has remained silent about these although in his initial post these were ostensibly the ones he was most indignant over.

      Now I am accused of being mentally unbalanced or a troll for insisting McGrath provide evidence for his accusations or withdraw them.

      • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        OK then, how about you provide evidence for your repeated assertion that I have “walked away”?

        • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

          Er, um, where and when did you stand and deliver the evidence for your accusations?

        • Just Sayin’

          Yikes, now he’s moved on to Stand and Deliver:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPgHbt0ODr4
          and to posting in duplicate!

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      I am sure Dr McGrath will thank you, GDon, for your assistance in covering for him while he walks away from providing evidence that I misrepresented him.

      I quoted Dr McGrath in full after repeatedly ascertaining from him that his words needed no explanation and were clear in their own right. I quoted those words with my own views. I quoted his words in full along with my interpretation. That is not misrepresentation. Dr McGrath himself has recently conceded the facts though he has not conceded I was innocent of misrepresentation.

      Accordingly I passed along from that case and moved on to the other two instances where McGrath accused me of misrepresentation: Vansina and Howell & Prevenier. He has remained silent about these although in his initial post these were ostensibly the ones he was most indignant over.

      Now I am accused of being mentally unbalanced or a troll for insisting McGrath provide evidence for his accusations or withdraw them.

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    Er, um, where and when did you stand and deliver the evidence for your accusations or withdraw them?

  • Neil Godfrey

    So James really has simply walked away from a simple request that he offer evidence for his character attack against me?

    James, kindly supply the evidence that I have misrepresented Vansina and/or Howell & Prevenier  — or withdraw your malicious accusation and apologize for suggesting I might be mentally unbalanced for asking you to be honest.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I submit as evidence what you have just provided: comments in which you nonsensically and repeatedly claim that I have “walked away” and pretend that my previous posts and comments were not sufficient to demonstrate your misrepesentation of Vansina and others.

  • Neil Godfrey

    Sorry, I admit that asking you to be honest really might be a symptom of mental imbalance. Silly me.

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    James, kindly supply the evidence that I have misrepresented Vansina and/or Howell & Prevenier  — or withdraw your accusation.

    Merely hand waving at posts with unsupported assertions is not demonstrating the truth of your accusation.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Neil, kindly supply evidence that I have failed to address your misrepresentation of Vansina and/or Howell & Prevenier and/or myself, or withdraw your request for a withdrawal of my accusation.

      Merely hand waving at posts with unsupported assertions is not demonstrating the falsity of my accusation. 

      • Neil Godfrey

        Asking me to prove a negative?????????? Do you really want me to simply copy and paste here all your previous evasions??????

        Dr James McGrath, you have proven to be big enough to accept you made gaffes with your accusations against Carrier and others. All I am asking is that you treat me fairly, too. Please, all I am asking is that you provide evidence I have misrepresented Howell & Prevenier and Vansina. If I have missed a sentence or two where you did actually do so, all I request is that you copy and paste that detail in your next reply, or be decent enough to admit you made a mistake in your accusation. I don’t want to have to call you a liar and slanderer, so please do the decent thing.

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Neil, this childish silliness really must stop. Ignoring what someone has written, misrepresenting it, claiming that you didn’t, ignoring when they point out where you did, demanding that they copy and paste those previous posts and comments for some reason that only you seem to be able to fathom – none of that is an acceptable way to communicate with another human being.

          I expect you to either acknowledge that your claims about Vansina have been adequately addressed and shown to be erroneous or deceptive, or otherwise feel free to continue the charade of claiming that this has not been demonstrated and hoping that someone will read only your comments protesting innocence and not the substantive treatment of your claims. But do not expect me to join in such childish games. If you wish to have a mature, adult conversation, I am willing to do so. If you wish to try to waste my time with silly nonsense, then I am sorry, buy I am not interested.

          • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

            James, surely it would be simplest to demonstrate where anything I have written about Howell and Prevenier and also Vansina is incorrect or a misrepresentation. You once challenged Vinny not to let me “walk away” from giving a direct response to his question. I am merely asking the same of you.

            I have not ignored any of your comments. I read each one in eager expectation that you would respond to my request to show me what I had got wrong about Howell and Prevenier and then Vansina but you never did.

            I don’t think you are reading my comments with any care, though, or you would not have said here that I was making the “demands” you claim I did. Again, whatever I say seems to bring out the worst of misrepresentations from you and you never justify your accusations.

            This is your style, James. Prevaricate, equivocate, side-step and avoid direct answers until eventually you end up claiming that you answered my request ages ago — which of course you never did. All you have to do is withdraw your false accusation since you cannot substantiate it.

            This is your regular style with any of my critiques of your false accusations against Doherty or Price, too. You completely ignore any criticisms or avoid answering them directly and then claim you have answered them or the criticisms were not valid. But you never supply the evidence. Never. You then boast that you have written so much explaining things so carefully as if all your equivocations and avoidances constitute some sort of substance.

            You seem to think that if one supports mythicists arguments you have the right to slander and misrepresent them without any concern of being held accountable.

            For some reason apologies are something that seem beneath you when it comes to showing a little common civility with someone who supports mythicist views.

             

            • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              I really cannot but conclude that you are either not being serious or are out of your mind. To now go beyond ignoring what I’ve written about Vansina and to claim that, in the history of our interaction, it is I who has failed to be civil, and that I am the ne who has failed to apologize for lack of civility, is either deliberate misrepresentation or evidence of memory loss. I can only encourage you to either engagein greater introspection and reflection, or to consult a physician, and perhaps both.

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