Terrible Review of What Sounds Like a Terrible Book

The quotations in the image below, which is embedded in the review of David Fitzgerald’s latest (threevolume!) book of half-baked and poorly-argued nonsense that appeared on the blog Debunking Christianity, is supposed to boil down what is positive about his books to their essence. But in fact it illustrates his inability to recognize when he doesn’t have a valid point and/or is not making a logical, reasoned argument. Here is the image:

CCCQ No 371, Fitzgerald,Saying Jesus invented Christianity is like saying Mickey Mouse founded Disneyland

Let’s consider each of the two points above. First, Darwin did nothing to make Deism implausible or unreasonable. Fitzgerald seems to share the same mistaken view of evolution that evolution-deniers promulgate, which is that Darwin’s theory was about the question of origins, rather than the history of development of life regardless of how it originated. And indeed, plenty of people today are happy – and not unreasonable – to accept everything that science has to say about not only the history but the likely process leading to the origin of living things, and yet to think that the question of the origin of the universe – the question of why there is something rather than nothing – is of a different sort, and makes it appropriate to talk about God in the sense that Deism does.

As for the second statement, these kinds of short statements are regularly made by mythicists and young-earth creationists and various other denialists, but it doesn’t take much analysis or critical thinking to recognize that there is no substance to them whatsoever. One could easily say “Saying Jesus invented Christianity is like saying Kurt Vonnegut invented the Kurt Vonnegut Museum.” There are organizations, museums, and memorials to fictional and to historical people. Just placing Mickey Mouse and Jesus (or Batman or anyone else) side by side in a sentence doesn’t constitute a persuasive argument. Indeed, it doesn’t constitute an argument of any sort.

As you will see from the review on Debunking Christianity, these issues are typical of Fitzgerald’s latest work, just as they were of his earlier book Nailed which I reviewed here a long time back.

For an example of detailed, logical argument of the sort that one actually finds in what historians and historical scholars write about the historical Jesus, you may want to take a look at Tim O’Neill’s blog post about the Tacitus reference. As with science or any other field, the issue is not about professionals vs. amateurs but the rigorous methods and processes that make scholarly consensuses, when they exist, something that does not deserved to be dismissed or caricatured in the manner that mythicists and other denialists do.


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  • sbh

    The Tim O’Neill link goes to the David Madison “review” at Debunking Christianity.

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

      Thanks for catching that and for letting me know. I have fixed it, but in the meantime until the server refreshes and updates, here is a link to Tim O’Neill’s blog post for your convenience: https://historyforatheists.com/2017/09/jesus-mythicism-1-the-tacitus-reference-to-jesus/

      • sbh

        Thanks for the link. I’ve been spending this Saturday morning reading Tim O’Neill’s blog on pseudo-history (a favorite topic of mine) with considerable enjoyment, starting from the beginning.

        • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

          I’m glad you like my blog. Unfortunately I get a lot of feedback along the lines of “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re a big poopyhead and a fake atheist and Richard Carrier has a PhD so there!” So it’s nice to get some positive feedback from an actual grown up. Thanks also to James for his support.

          • Outspider

            Well, Richard Carrier does have a PhD, and most people on earth are theists meaning any given person is more likely to be a theist than an atheist. Therefore, Bayesian probability gives us a 73.2% chance that you are, in fact, a big ol’ poopyhead.

            This comment has been peer reviewed by a variety of undisclosed reviewers, which may or may not include my dog, my grandmother (deceased) and myself (reviewing in the third person to preserve scholarly independence).

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            How can I argue with such impeccable logic? Richard Carrier’s magical PhD trumps all counter-arguments immediately and invoking Bayes makes any opposition invalid because numbers. And your comment has been peer reviewed, because you say so. It seems the consensus that I am not a big poopyhead has been overturned.

          • Outspider

            Now that I’ve produced the definitive review of Tim O’Neill, what field should I revolutionize next? Quantum physics? The origin of life? Reinventing the wheel? Earthquake prevention?

            My next paper will be “Transgressing the PhDs: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutic of Why Everybody Else is a Lying, Incompetent, Crazy Idiot.” I just need to figure out which field I’m going to tackle first.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            I think there is a false dichotomy at play in Outspiders deduction that Carrier’s mythicism is correct and thus you are a poopyhead.

            It is entirely possible that your excellent blogging on the weight of academic opinion exposing the failures of mythicism is entirely correct …

            … but that you are still a poopyhead.

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            This is, indeed, “possible”.

          • Paul E.

            Clearly, you haven’t read his book, you are incompetent and you are insane. QED. :)

  • Paul E.

    Those meme quotes are astounding. How is it that this is not recognized as anti-theist apologetics/propaganda? If you want to do anti-theist apologetics, go for it. There’s apparently a decent internet audience for it. Categorizing it as “history,” however, is just plain dishonest. And seriously, does this guy Fitzgerald even know what the term “deism” means? It doesn’t appear so.