Creationism, Mythicism, and University Conspiracies

Creationism, Mythicism, and University Conspiracies September 8, 2014

Creationism says: universities are so much under the grip of atheism that creationism cannot get a fair hearing.

Mythicism says: universities are so much under the grip of Christianity that mythicism cannot get a fair hearing.

Aren’t these two claims like antimatter? When they collide, don’t they cancel one another out in a spectacular release of energy (presumably in the form of arguments and counterarguments, which presumably may likewise explode in an ongoing chain reaction?)

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  • redpill99

    playing devil’s advocate, the evidence for evolution is scientific in nature. the evidence for jesus outside the NT leaves a lot to be desired, and the NT is highly problematical.

    • Ancient history and a field in the natural sciences obviously have different methods and degrees of certainty. My point was more about the irony that two different fringe viewpoints both regard today’s universities as in the grip of diametrically opposed ideologies.

      • redpill99

        true but isn’t it also true that most historians of early christianity like you bart ehrman yale university dale et al, have come from a christian background and sponsored by divinity schools and seminaries?

        • There certainly are scholars at religiously-affiliated institutions, and I could certainly understand atheists viewing such figures with suspicion and ignoring what they have to say. But people like Ehrman and myself who teach at secular universities do not need to be placed in the same category, do we? And as for having Christian backgrounds, how many professional scientists are from Christian backgrounds, and how many are at least nominally Christians? I am confident that, if such a background does not invalidate the conclusions of mainstream biology, neither does it invalidate the conclusions of mainstream history.

        • Jim

          Yeah, great point. That’s why I disagree with the current value of the speed of light. It was arrived at by physicists, who are naturally biased because they had … well … advanced degrees in physics. The speed of light should have been determined by a group who is not biased towards physics, like say zoologists. 🙂 Isn’t it weird how science departments are full of faculty that have science backgrounds, and departments focusing on Christian history attract an interest group like people with Christian backgrounds. … (just being a bit of a jerk here 🙂 )

          • I don’t think you’re being a jerk. I think such snarcasm is called for.

        • Anthony Lawson

          Red, why would that make any difference? What about non-Christian scholars like Amy-Jill Levine? Or James Crossley (I haven’t come across anything that says he had a religious background)? And even if you could point to them and say that had a Christian background, and again, why would that make any difference?

        • Jonathan Bernier

          This would probably be a more compelling argument if it didn’t employ that basic logical fallacy known as the ad hominem. That said, why should it surprise anyone that people who come from a Christian background should have a special interest in Christian history? The same no doubt is true of people from a Jewish background, a Muslim background, etc. Are we now going to say that Jewish historians who work on the Holocaust are suspect because they are Jewish?

        • Bethany

          Scholars having a Christian background may have certain biases, scholars from a non-Christian background may have different biases… all humans have biases, so they can join the club. This is a problem endemic to all human enterprises, including all scholarship. Despite the picture of science that’s often painted in school, it’s not like people conducting scientific research don’t usually have opinions on how they’d like the study to turn out as well!

    • Jonathan Bernier

      Well, sure, if you exclude the main body of evidence for a hypothesis then it is not hard to disprove said hypothesis. But what is your warrant for excluding the documents that made it into the NT?

      • Bethany

        To add to that: certainly evidence from Christian sources isn’t going to be objective, and historians have to take that into account. But that’s not a reason to exclude them. That would be like saying historians can’t use any American sources to study George Washington or any Roman sources to study Julius Caesar. No history would get done if historians refused to use any source that was potentially biased.

        Also note that it’s not like evidence about Jesus from pagan or Jewish sources would be unbiased, either. They might have different biases (which is why it’s unfortunate, though not surprising, that there are so few early ones and that those say so little about him) but they wouldn’t be objective, either.

        • Jim

          You’ve just hit upon my dream job. I’d like to get a tenured position in a field of studies that deals only with totally unbiased writings.

          • PorlockJunior

            How boring! Who’d want a job like that? And you couldn’t even get yourself fired.
            (Joking, I think)

      • redpill99

        you remember that website earlier post? plenty of mythers and denialists. they feel the burden of proof rests on those who assert the NT is historical not fictional.

        • Jonathan Bernier

          A feeling isn’t a warrant. Tell me why the burden of proof should be as you describe. Provide argumentation. Provide reason. Why should I accept your warm fuzzies on the matter?

          • redpill99

            there are a dozen mythers over at
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2014/09/04/an-atheists-defense-of-the-historicity-of-jesus/

            they have limitless time. have at it.

            fundamentally they are skeptical and reject the NT as evidence. They want evidence independent of the NT to prove Jesus existed.

          • Jonathan Bernier

            They can want whatever they want. That doesn’t provide warrant for that desire. Reason provides warrant. So what is your reason. Or do you not have any?

          • redpill99

            if u read my coments over at neil’s site, i do think when paul says jesus was born of a woman born under the law was crucified on the night he was betrayed and james brother of the lord, he had in mind a flesh and blood jesus.

            the mythers there claim this is invalid evidence for jesus’ existence.

            i agree w/u life is short so if u head over there there are about a dozen of hard core mythers who would love to debate you. they believe in carrier price and doherty and they wanna debate.

          • Neko

            They wanna pontificate.

          • redpill99

            given the role of christianity in such issues like abortion homosexuality church-state issues evolution etc., these jesus mythers are passionate and highly motivated activists.

            some come from a scientific background, and they are encouraged to be skeptical by training, and “hearsay” does not, for them, constitute valid scientific evidence. the evidence for jesus is hearsay, therefore there is no scientific evidence jesus existed, and the presumption is jesus did not exist.

          • Neko

            Yes, I know about “jesus mythers,” and so does practically everyone else here.

            Last I checked many of the people ranting in that thread weren’t interested in learning why the consensus favors a historical Jesus. What they’re interested in is culture war.

          • For how many ancient people is there scientific evidence?

          • redpill99

            you know Richard Carrier has written a book – and he frequently lectures here to San Jose Atheists

            http://youtu.be/HMyudP5z2Xw

            here he claims Acts is 100% pure fiction and as fiction it cannot be used to date Paul’s epistles

            http://youtu.be/B5MUUP4l6l4

          • Jonathan Bernier

            So Richard Carrier wrote a book related NT studies. Who hasn’t? And he lectures to San Jose atheists? Wow. He must be the single most brilliant person on the planet. But you know, none of that is relevant, as none of it establishes warrant for your position on the burden of proof. And every time you refuse to provide warrant I just think that much more that you don’t have any.

            But know you really have my interest. If Acts cannot be used to date Paul’s letters then they could have been written as late as the mid-2nd century, from whence comes our earliest manuscripts. Now, if Paul’s letters could be that late they could in fact post-date any or all of the Gospels. In that case any arguments from “Paul is so early and doesn’t mention details of Jesus’ life” evaporate. As I regularly say: mythicists end up inevitably hoist on their own petard, and it looks like you have officially reached that place with the above post.

    • Oblias

      Actually I think a case can be made that there are more references of Jesus outside the Bible than inside it. Such examples could be; The many texts of the Church Fathers, The Talmud, Nag Hammadi Codices, Pseudo-Clementine Homilies & Recognitions, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Thomas, Acts of Thomas, Secret book of Mark, Tacitus, Josephus, maybe Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Celsus, Lucian of Samosata, maybe the Mara bar Sarapion letter, The Didache, The Qur’an, Gospel of Judas, The Questions of Mary, etc

  • redpill99

    btw Robert Price in one of his books on Paul, claims Paul as we know it did not exist but also that Simon Magus And St. Paul Were The Same Person

    • Jonathan Bernier

      Which can only be sustained by appealing to a body of fourth-century literature that is clearly tendentious and no historian of the last century has thought even remotely credible. Why I should prefer this fourth century text over a set of letters that all other scholars agree were written by Paul himself as well as a narrative that dates at the latest to the early 2nd-century is quite beyond me.

    • Paul Burnett

      I like the theory that Saul of Tarsus was a secret agent of the Imperial Roman government with orders to turn a simple religion of love into a complicated hierarchical patriarchal branch of the government.

    • PorlockJunior

      Well sure, but did you know that Moliere was really Racine? That serious classical tragedian could not publish comedies, so he made up this other guy. Maybe you think I ought to invent a less familiar story line, but I’m not making this up. Read it 10 years ago in a respectable French news magazine, which said it was describing a controversy that was going on at the time.

      Or maybe it was all some French snark, and I couldn’t tell the difference.

      But that’s not all. Everyone knows about Geoffrey Chaucer, the medieval astronomer, counselor to the great, and all around smart guy; he’s well attested by enough independent sources. But the Canterbury Tales, etc.? No real evidence at all to show who wrote those. They’re just these stories, by “Geoffrey Chaucer”, with no independent evidence to connect them with the real G. C. Or so I heard in a serious, definitely not snarky lecture series by a serious scholar.

      My own theory is that the Tales and all were written, for reasons you can guess, by Roger Bacon.

  • ButILikeCaves

    Reality says: kids, PLEASE!!!

  • arcseconds

    Maybe the creationists and mythicists could agree that the science departments are dominated by atheistic secularism, and the departments that study the new testament are dominated by Christian theism, with minority positions (i.e. Christian scientists and atheist NT scholars) in both places affected by some kind of academic Stockholm’s syndrome 🙂

  • TomS

    You missed the obvious difference. I’m right and they’re wrong.

  • redpill99

    i don’t know if this is the best place but ….

    earl doherty has an essay on the Ode of Solomon
    http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp04.htm

    Doherty claims
    1- it was written very early, perhaps first half of the first century CE
    2- it does NOT refer to Jesus contrary to other scholars who say it does and
    3- its mythical “Son” figure provides evidence that there were proto-Christians who saw the Son as a divine revelatory figure.
    4- the Son as divine is closely connect with Sophia as the wisdom of God, a separate entity
    5- if claims 1-3 are true then Odes provides valid evidence for Jesus myth theory

    he claims Odes are the best poems ever written. I wonder if that’s true and is it even better poetry than say Shakespeare? my english lit prof said Shakespeare is the best.

    • jjramsey

      Citing Earl Doherty here as a source here is generally about as well received citing Ken Ham as a source on Panda’s Thumb.

      • redpill99

        fine, what is the scholarly response to the Odes of Solomon? Is it Christian or not? Is the Odist Christian or not? What religion and thought world did the Odist possess?

  • There is one simple way to refute your entire post: evoking the name of DR. Richard Carrier.

    He’s (according to his own words) ” no less a philosopher than Aristotle and Hume” and has once and for all solved puzzling problems such as the existence of objective moral values and the truth of materialism.

    According to Bayes theorem, the probability he might be wrong about Jesus is only 0.0000567800.

    I’m sorry James, but I think we should get our minds around this fact.

    • Neko

      Ha! As a skeptic of mythicism I do feel obligated to read Carrier’s new book, which I understand is going to revolutionize NT studies and destroy Christianity. I’d hoped that Carrier’s editor would take a hatchet to the text and teach him some manners. Perhaps s/he did so and the 712-page tome is the condensed version. Lord, have mercy!

      Maybe I’ll wait for the movie.

    • arcseconds

      I realise you’re joking, but having had a fuller context pointed out to me, I now think it’s most likely that Carrier actually did mean not that he’s equivalent in quality, but just that he’s as much right to call himself a philosopher as they have. For example, he doesn’t have a formal qualification in philosophy, but neither did they.

      He worded it badly, and in a way that comes across as arrogant, and he is arrogant so it’s perhaps not unexpected to find him boasting. And it could still be debated that he has as much a right to say he’s a philosopher. But he doesn’t appear to have literally meant he’s their equal.

  • Joe Ballbag

    There is way too much civility going on in this comment thread.

  • Kevin A

    Even the fact that a significant number of people believe in creationism is disturbing. I feel that anyone trying to infiltrate public school curriculum with such hogwash should be put in stupidity prison. There would be more than enough students/inmates. The main question stupid people ask is, why are we here? DUHHHHwhy? The simple answer to that question is, and it is simple…it is us who create the reason why. No one else lives your life for you…or controls your every move, or forces you to say or do anything…this is all up to the individual, and has not been pre-determined. There is no Grand plan. Existence has no beginning or end, it is infinite in nature containing innumerable cosmic expansions that span forever. All the concept of god does is make existence into a deity so we have something to explain the extremely stupid question which has absolutely no correct answer “Why are we here?”