2012-02-08

Neil Godfrey’s lousy defense of Christ-myth hypocrisy

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by Neil Godfrey

Cameron seemed so polite when making first contact with my blog that I thought, Hey, this is gonna be a nice reasonable guy. How can David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All, be reasonable and still have issues with such a polite Cameron? Well, Cameron responded to my critique of his blog post and now I know why. Cameron’s politeness does not extend to any efforts to suss out personal acquaintanceship — written words, regardless of literal meanings, are interpreted and critiqued in whatever way will serve best the hostile anti-mythicist brigade. So I quote here Cameron’s remarks (indented and coloured) and I add my 2 bits as we go along.

Here is Cameron’s blog post titled “Neil Godfrey’s lousy defense of Christ-myth hypocrisy“, with my point by point responses.

If you’ve seen Expelled, you know the content of Neil Godfrey’s response to my last post. There’s allusion to a conspiracy and lots of self praise for standing up to the intellectual establishment for their unwillingness to consider mythicism. In sum, Godfrey falls neatly into the hypocrisy I accused the Christ-myth crowd of engaging in. As one reader on my blog put it, “It boils down to ‘were [sic] not hypocrites because we’re right while creationists are wrong and everyone who disagrees with us has an ulterior motive but our motives are pure.’”

Allusion to a conspiracy??? What, pray tell, does Cameron mean by this and where is his perceived allusion? I have been a long-time opponent of any sort of conspiracy theory resolution to any difference of opinion, so I would ask Cameron to refer to his evidence for my having alluded positively to something I have always opposed.

Self Praise for standing up to the intellectual establishment??? What what?? Where, again, do I praise myself for standing up to anything? I can highly respect people who are part of an establishment and who are paid by an establishment and who earn their reputation by acceptance of an establishment paradigm, but any odd bod or amateur who speaks his own opinion that happens coincidentally to not be expounded by ‘an establishment’ can hardly be faulted for “self praise for standing up to” any sort of establishment.

His comments in quotes, followed by my responses.

“Biblical studies is probably the most ideologically oriented of all academic disciplines. Hector Avalos has shown that clearly enough in The End of Biblical Studies. R. Joseph Hoffmann remarked on this blog that the reason the Christ myth theory is not given more attention among scholars has more to do with conditions of academic appointments than common sense.”

Because of all his anti-Christian blustering, I’m not surprised to see a vocal atheist like Hector Avalos whine about the state of biblical scholarship. Of course, we could dismiss his own efforts to undermine Christianity by the standards he applies to other scholars. The End of Biblical Studies, Fighting Words, The Christian Delusion and other counter-apologetics material Avalos has contributed to should all be ignored because he clearly has an agenda. But assuming Avalos is correct about biblical scholarship for the moment, consider this scenario. Academia is largely composed of non-religious people. Is it fair then to conclude that the evidence for Christianity is unfairly suppressed by the most educated among us?

Anti-Christian blustering????  What, specifically, have I expressed in my critique that might be construed as “anti-Christian” or “blustering”? Cameron unfortunately does not explain. He simply asserts. No evidence cited. I have never waged an anti-Christian vendetta on this blog. I have many criticisms of Christianity, but unless Cameron himself is what we call in Australia “a fundamentalist”, (is this a “conservative” in America?) he will search long and hard and not, I suggest, find any “bluster” or even a “vendetta” against Christianity.

Then there is Cameron’s assertion that “Academia is largely composed of non-religious people”. “Academia”??? Hang on! Aren’t we supposed to be addressing ‘biblical studies and theology’? Of what use is a study that points to the entire spectrum of “academia”? Does Cameron really expect us to simply assume as a fact that that “biblical studies” will be populated by the same ratio of non-religious types as we find across the entire board of “academia”?

Methinks Cameron is trying to spin something here.

I’m equally unconvinced by Hoffman’s argument; it’s literally the same line delivered by every gadfly in the academic world. Ask a creationist, climate change denier or anti-vaccine advocate why his ideas don’t make headway in intellectual circles, and you’ll get the same answer every time: the “establishment” has it in for him. I don’t deny that people with contrarian views face heightened scrutiny from their peers, but might we consider that is so because their ideas are flawed?  By itself, the fact that most scholars scoff at the Christ-myth and its proponents certainly isn’t evidence that the latter actually have a good case.

Is Hoffmann a mythicist? Is he complaining about his own personal views not making headway? This is what Cameron suggests. But I suggest Cameron take a step back and ask Hoffmann himself about his statement and his own views (try “The New Oxonian” as a Google search term). I could quote much more from Hoffmann that would only synch with what other scholars know is said in board meeting rooms, etc.

Furthermore, I’m doubt that biblical scholars are willfully ignorant of ideas they don’t like. Contrary to the suggestion that the field is an apologetics club, Bart Ehrman points out in Jesus, Interrupted, that many students upon first entering seminary are truly blindsided by the Historical-Critical method. Such a fact is not shocking, but it certainly doesn’t fit well within Godfrey’s frame job. If students are surprised to learn that critical study of the Bible is simply good scholarship, it doesn’t follow that the field is a bastion of evangelicalism.

I quote a range of scholars who have a long-term familiarity with the field and Cameron thinks to undermine all of that with a quote from a single scholar. But look at his assertion about the views of this one scholar. There is nothing said here that I disagree with or that invalidates my point . Of course fundamentalist and conservative students entering the field learn to fine-tune their old faith commitments. Of course many lose their literal frame-set when reading the Bible. So? That’s not what we are talking about. ALL of them — even the liberals — still cling fast to the one point at issue here, that Christianity was spawned by a single man, a historical person we identify as Jesus.

That leads me to reiterate one argument I raised in response to David Fitzgerald. What of the scholars, such as Ehrman, who clearly have no desire to defend Christianity but still reject the Christ-myth? They’re employed by prominent universities and publish in reputable journals. They’re trained historians, not theologians, yet they don’t share the enthusiasm for the faith expressed by many scholars. How is their skepticism to be explained?

Er, we are not talking about a defence of Christianity. The historicity of Jesus is important to many people of faith, obviously, but it is also important to many people who have invested their lives, their careers, in studying such an entity. How can we expect one who has spent a life-time studying, exploring, investigating, points within a paradigm that itself entirely hangs on the historicity of Jesus simply turn around and say, Gee, silly me! I never thought to test my most fundamental assumptions before embarking on my career!

Godfrey concluded his post with a softball response to this question: “…it is also a simple fact that Jesus does not belong exclusively to the devout believers or spiritually inclined. He is a central cultural icon for many through many of our cultural institutions and practices.” Idiotic. How can that possibly include scholars who are otherwise hostile to Christianity? They’re willing to attempt to dismantle everything about the faith, except the historicity of Jesus. And this is because he still tugs at their heartstrings. Pardon my skepticism, but how can Godfrey know that? It’s certainly a damning charge if true, so I doubt any mainstream historian has admitted it to him. Additionally, why would any skeptical scholar hesitate to embrace the Christ-myth if it were valid? As a number of biologists have pointed out to the young earth crowd, uncovering evidence overturning Evolution would provide quite a career boost.

Cameron’s polite intellectual rejoinder to my reasoned point is to shout “Idiotic”. How so? Cameron follows up by asking “How can that possibly include scholars who are otherwise hostile to Christianity?” Well, first of all, I would like Cameron to identify those scholars he believes are “hostile to Christianity” and the evidence he has for his assertion.

Secondly, I would ask Cameron to consider the argument of a real “anti-Christian”, John Loftus of the blog “Debunking Christianity”, who has made it explicitly clear that he does not support mythicist arguments because that would run counter to his agenda for attacking and undermining Christianity. Mythicism, John Loftus has said, turn potential Christian audiences off immediately. John Loftus wants to undermine Christianity so he avoids mythicist arguments. They are too tough for vulnerable Christians to swallow. He has said as much. So anti-Christian John Loftus answers Cameron right there.

My own interest in mythicism only took root long, long after I had left Christianity behind and gave not a hoot whether Jesus was a real figure or not. I had always assumed he was. My interest in mythicism is entirely a product of interest in an historical explanation for Christian origins. I don’t even see why mythicism should undermine Christianity if it is a spiritual faith based on spiritual and heavenly beings.

“But the vast majority of biblical scholars specializing in the New Testament, in particular Christian origins or the historical Jesus, are not trained historians but theologians. The lack of awareness and understanding among these theologians of the nature and practice of history as it is understood among “real” history faculties is sometimes addressed by a few of these theologians themselves.”

Yes, of course.Their eyes would be opened if they just had the right training. But many evangelical scholars have training both in theology and history, so it’s hardly fair to suggest that all of them simply don’t know how history is done. I wonder how Godfrey would dismiss the work of people like (these are just a few examples) Bruce Metzger, Daniel Wallace or Ben Witherington? Yes, they’re Christians; they’re also respected New Testament scholars. Are they to be ignored? Perhaps the experts aren’t ignorant; they’re just not convinced by the arguments put forth by Fitzgerald and Godfrey. That’s probably the best explanation, and it also appears that it’s not even a consideration for the folks over at Vridar.

I must ask here how many theologians have really “trained in history”? Cameron makes an assertion that contradicts what Christian scholars themselves say, such as Scot McKnight, who deplores the lack of training in history among theologians. Cameron mentions notable NT scholars but none who are “trained in history” as far as I am aware. I have discussed the works here on this blog of many highly respected NT scholars, and with nothing but favourable tones. So I wonder what is Cameron’s point. Cameron seems to by side-stepping the issue of the historicity of Jesus here.

“Cameron here has misread or overlooked what I wrote. I did not say we accept evolution because scientists have given us a lot of material progress.”

Yes, he did. If not, I wonder what Godfrey meant when he said “That one discipline is the foundation of all our modern progress and the other is a Mickey Mouse course…”?

What Godfrey meant was that the sciences have given the world material proofs of their veracity by tangible spin-off and concrete benefits. Theology has given us, by comparison . . .??

“We accept evolution today because scientists have been able to give us clear public demonstrations of its proofs. That is the critical point. Scientists make available all the proofs we could ask for. If we have questions we can find them answered simply and directly and unequivocally.”

I agree. I think the same is true of biblical scholars. Many maintain blogs, publish books aimed at lay audiences and are willing to correspond with people through email. The field isn’t off limits to non-specialists. All it takes is the ability to read and the desire to learn.

Cameron needs to bring himself up to speed with serious challenges to blog posts of biblical scholars who claim to rebut mythicist arguments.

“Historical Jesus scholars do not act like that at all. Very much the opposite. One reason probably quite a few of us ever came to embrace mythicism was indirectly through the defensive and offended responses of historical Jesus scholars themselves. Many such scholars simply do not know what the mythicist arguments are, or only have a poor superficial idea of some of them, so they fail to give adequate responses to those who come to them with questions after reading works like those of Doherty, Price, Wells, Ellegard, Zindler, and others. That would not be so bad. The problem starts when the inquirer finds the mythicist has already addressed the pat answers of the theologians and challenges them. That’s when the theologians very often show they have nothing more to offer, and some will attempt to try to hide this by an unfortunate display of hostility or ridicule.”

Attend one of Richard Dawkins’ lectures or book signings sometime. Let me know how receptive he is to creationist arguments. I don’t hesitate to say that Doherty et al. have been dismissed because their arguments are garbage. I know that because I’ve read the work of scholars who have analyzed the mythicists’ books and found them lacking. So, for the third time in this post, maybe they’re hostile to the hypothesis because it’s pseudo history, not because of any deficiency on their parts.

So Cameron responds with a “you too” fallacy. Richard Dawkins has published volume after volume of answers to Creationist arguments. He answers them with cool logic and evidence. He does not rely upon the only sorts of responses one reads from biblical scholars: sarcasm, ridicule, abuse — all without any accompaniment of reasoned responses to the actual arguments of mythicists. Cameron’s sweeping assertions do not disprove this.

“The more widely I studied the more I came to see the cracks in the whole historical Jesus position. And unfortunately the more I came to see how the theologians had precious little to plaster those cracks apart from ridicule, insult and indignation.”

Whatever. The Christ-myth has been demolished time and time again, often by the same people mythicists rely on for information about Christianity. That’s what makes the hypocrisy I initially mentioned so entertaining. The Christ-mythers very cutely fit the sore loser profile, even down to the rhetoric that they could have lifted right out of a creationist tract.

This is Dr James McGrath’s ploy, and the argument of so many anti-mythicists for generations. Yet ask them to actually pin-point where they or others have even once “demolished” the mythicist argument and they flounder. No, New Testament scholars, as Dr Mark Goodacre and others well acknowledge, tend to sweep under the carpet or simply ignore uncomfortable arguments and move on. The Dutch radicals were scarcely refuted. They were simply ignored. Ditto with mythicism.

I challenge Cameron to be specific in his criticisms and cite direct evidence for each of his assertions. My own arguments for mythicism actually are not directly related to mythicism at all. They are neutral of mythicism or “historicism”. Historical methodology has no validity if it has a built in conclusion — except “the most likely or probable fact”.

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Neil Godfrey

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15 Comments

  • 2012-02-08 20:34:44 GMT+0000 - 20:34 | Permalink

    CAMERON
    I don’t hesitate to say that Doherty et al. have been dismissed because their arguments are garbage. I know that because I’ve read the work of scholars who have analyzed the mythicists’ books and found them lacking.

    CARR
    Is Cameron just flat-out stating he has never read Doherty’s book?

    And is he stating that he has just read McGrath’s reviews, which would explain his inability to state what Doherty’s arguments are?

    It would be nice if Cameron had more than bluster.

    Meanwhile, historicist scholars themselves are busy documenting the failure of the criteria of which McGrath is so proud and which he fondly imagines are real historical tools.

  • 2012-02-08 20:54:01 GMT+0000 - 20:54 | Permalink

    Thanks Steven. I had meant to address that point, too, but overlooked it in the end. After McGrath’s recent effort to characterize all mythicists the same way Dan Wallace characterizes all biblical scholars (i.e. unwilling to change their minds in the face of evidence) by saying mythicists (without any qualification) argue the Gospel of Mark is a 2nd century work, I wonder if even McGrath ever read page 3 of Doherty’s book that he says he is reviewing. He clearly never read Howell and Prevenier’s “From Reliable Sources” that he recommended to me, nor any but a few selected pages of Vansina that he also recommended to me. It appears biblical scholars only read a few pages of works, or nothing more than reviews, of works they thin support their views. Perhaps they are projecting when they assume no one else will ever read more than they think necessary to support their arguments.

    Apologies for using quotation marks for the books above, but that’s much easier when commenting via i-phone. I know it undermines my credibility in the eyes of McGrath who considers such a gaffe clear evidence of fraud on the part of the author.

    • Evan
      2012-02-09 02:09:14 GMT+0000 - 02:09 | Permalink

      It’s not as if Avalos is the only voice stating the insularity of the academy or that it is exclusive to “anti-Christians.” Obviously, Wallace has made the same point on this blog. Long ago, it was April DeConick:

      “I have known for a long time that traditions are conservative and self-interested, but what is coming home for me in a very real way is just how much the traditions are safe-guarded by the dominant group – be it the mainstream churches or the academy – and how far the dominant group will go to protect them. The interests and preservation of those interests often become the end-all, even at the expense of historical truth. The rationalizations, the apologies, the ‘buts’, the tortured exegesis, the negative labeling, the side-stepping, the illogical claims accumulate until they create an insurmountable wall that preserves both church and academy, which remain (uncomfortably so for me) symbiotic.

      The entrenchment of the academy is particularly worrisome for me. Scholars’ works are often spun by other scholars, not to really engage in authentic critical debate or review, but to cast the works in such a way that they can be dismissed (if they don’t support the entrenchment) or engaged (if they do). In other words, fair reproduction of the author’s position and engagement with it does not seem to me to be the top priority. The quest for historical knowledge does not appear to me to be the major concern. It usually plays back seat to other issues including the self-preservation of the ideas and traditions of the dominant parties – those who control the churches, and the academy with its long history of alliance with the churches.”

      • 2012-02-09 03:09:32 GMT+0000 - 03:09 | Permalink

        I’ve posted this here before, I think, and it probably needs to be read by people like Cameron

        http://lesswrong.com/lw/4ba/some_heuristics_for_evaluating_the_soundness_of/

        • ROO BOOKAROO
          2012-02-09 07:19:03 GMT+0000 - 07:19 | Permalink

          In theory, yes, but in practice, Cameron will never read such a sophisticated article.
          Who is Cameron English anyway? What is his background? What has he studied and where? What has he written? Why is he given such prominence by Fitzgerald and Godfrey? His contribution is so uninteresting, so empty. He’s obviously not the right caliber for any debate with Godfrey or Fitzgerald.
          This is the quality of his critique: “I don’t hesitate to say that Doherty et al. have been dismissed because their arguments are garbage. I know that because I’ve read the work of scholars who have analyzed the mythicists’ books and found them lacking.” Astounding and ridiculous.There’s nothing substantial to expect from this man.

          David explained that he met this Cameron English at some convention, and that Cameron mentioned he would like to review David’s book. For what purpose? Simply to add some material on his own blog. Same thing with attacking Godfrey, just to post another essay to his blog with an alluring title, involving better known names.
          Cameron believes that by relentlessly pounding on the famous comparison to creationism, he’s got a great hook to attract readers. He does not have to study the great classics of the past and conscientiously read the modern ones. Robertson, Couchoud, Wells, Doherty are way above his head. This newcomer simply needs to visit the blogs of McGrath and Holding to know with what kind of topics to feed his blog and what basic arguments to use, without doing much excruciating research.
          This level of debate is so pathetic. Compare it with the high-level critiques of Origen versus Celsus, or Conybeare, Klausner, Eisler, Goguel, Howell Smith against John McKinnon Robertson and P.L. Couchoud. The quality of argumentation does not compare. The old critics were dealing with substance, going into the specific arguments that provided the very evidence sustaining each opposing case, while modern bloggers like this Cameron English and his models deal with superficial references to better known scholars and rhetorical games.

          • 2012-02-09 09:37:34 GMT+0000 - 09:37 | Permalink

            For the record, Fitzgerald asked me to review his book. So I did. My arguments in these posts dealt with specific items Godfrey brought up in response to my review of Nailed. I didn’t seek Neil out; I just responded to his criticisms.

            • 2012-02-09 14:19:39 GMT+0000 - 14:19 | Permalink

              In your latest post (“Round Three with Neil Godfrey”) you wait until the penultimate paragraph to cite JP Holding as an author of “an extensive refutation of the Christ-myth.”

              Aw, man, really? You could have saved us all a lot of time and trouble if you had let us know up front that you weren’t serious.

              It reminds me of this seminar I got dragged to many years ago. “C’mon, Tim, it’s about financial independence! Wouldn’t you like to be financially independent?” So I sat through what seemed like an eternity of happy slides and empty platitudes. I would have left, but our driver was still watching the proceedings in earnest. And then at the very end, the speaker revealed his true intentions. “Oh, no. Aw, man, really? It’s Amway!”

  • 2012-02-08 23:46:22 GMT+0000 - 23:46 | Permalink

    Neil,

    I think Cameron was accusing Avalos of “anti-Christian blustering,” not you (at least not at that point).

    • 2012-02-09 00:31:14 GMT+0000 - 00:31 | Permalink

      I wonder why he doesn’t accuse Ehrman of the same? I think they have an equal amount of published books out criticizing Christianity.

  • Jason Goertzen
    2012-02-09 02:02:41 GMT+0000 - 02:02 | Permalink

    You’re obviously right that mainstream biblical scholarship continues to assume that mythicism is ‘obviously ridiculous,’ and that (therefore!) its arguments must have been addressed and debunked “over and over.” Finding these debunkings, of course, is as challenging as finding the historical Jesus!

    That being said I think you’re taking a wrong approach here–giving a false impression. Mythicism is a new, challenging paradigm. It is the role of any new paradigm to come under fire from the old, and to ‘prove its mettle’ by standing up to criticism. There’s no need to hypothesize as to the motives of New Testament scholars: they’re irrelevant, essentially. You get the same hostility when challenging any dominant paradigm in any field. It should be expected and even embraced. We’re all blind to the weaknesses of our own arguments. It’s only by having those arguments critiqued by people hostile to the idea that its possible to evaluate the actual strength of the arguments.

    So there’s no need to focus on New Testament scholars *bias* or their hostility to mythicism. What should focused on is their failure to address it at all–each assuming someone else had. When people ask “why do you think mythicism hasn’t been accepted by the mainstream New Testament scholars,” the answer is: “They haven’t read it.”

  • 2012-02-09 02:50:35 GMT+0000 - 02:50 | Permalink

    I note Neil’s quote from Cameron: “The Christ-Myth theory has been demolished time and time again….I know that because I’ve read the work of scholars who have analyzed the mythicists’ books and found them lacking.”

    This lifts a page right out of Michael Grant’s 1977 An Historian’s Review of the Gospels. Perhaps that’s the source of Cameron’s opinions. Here is some of what I had to say on the subject in my website article “Alleged Refutations of Jesus Mythicism” (http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/CritiquesRefut1.htm) which surveyed a full century of scholarly ‘demolition’ of Christ mythicism:

    ———————
    “A typical example is historian Michael Grant, who in Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (1977), devotes a few paragraphs to the question in an Appendix. There [p.200], he says:

    “To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars’. In recent years ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus’—or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.”

    One will note that Grant’s statement about answering and annihilating, and the remark about serious scholars, are in quotes, and are in fact the opinions of previous writers. Clearly, Grant himself has not undertaken his own ‘answer’ to mythicists. Are those quoted writers themselves scholars who have undertaken such a task? In fact, they are not. One referenced writer, Rodney Dunkerley, in his Beyond the Gospels (1957, p.12), devotes a single paragraph to the “fantastic notion” that Jesus did not actually live; its exponents, he says, “have again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars,” but since he declares it “impossible to summarize those scholars’ case here,” he is not the source of Grant’s conviction. Nor can that be Otto Betz, from whose What Do We Know About Jesus? (1968, p.9) Grant takes his second quote. Betz claims that since Wilhelm Bousset published an essay in 1904 exposing the ‘Christ myth’ as “a phantom,” “no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus.” This ignores many serious presentations of that very idea since Bousset, and evidently relies on defining “serious” as excluding anyone who would dare to undertake such a misguided task….

    One supposes that, for Grant, such timeworn and superficial ‘answers’ to the Jesus Myth represent ‘annihilation,’ but one can perhaps forgive mythicists for begging to differ. Superficiality, reluctant qualifications, distortion of evidence, lack of imagination for thinking outside the box, and the appeal to constant “no doubt” assumptions, are part of the approach of all such refutations, including the most recent, as we shall see….”
    ———————-

    The allegation that scholarship has dealt adequately with the Jesus Myth theory, much less that it has demolished it, is poppycock. The claim revolves like an echo around a circular chamber. No one now knows who started it or whether it has any substance; it is simply a given in the field. Clearly, Cameron, like so many other (I daresay the vast majority of) historicist scholars, has no idea what my “garbage” arguments are, let alone possesses effective counters to them. Other than, of course, various appeals to authority. In addition to the regular appeal to those who declare Jesus’ historicity, with rare support in the form of actual arguments in that direction, we have the complementary appeal to those who deny and denigrate Christ mythicism, with even less support in the form of arguments establishing the claimed demolition. Into the mix is thrown a virtual demonization of mythicists, shallow and fallacious comparisons to creationists and the like, and a visceral apoplexy against the very idea of no Jesus that belies any ability to apply rational and open-minded scholarship to the question. (Paul Maier: “The total evidence [for the existence of Jesus] is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence. And yet this pathetic denial is still parroted by “the village atheist,” bloggers on the internet, or such organizations as the Freedom from Religion Foundation.”)

    When we get the rare scholar who actually reads and attempts to counter a mythicist case like mine, such as Dr. James McGrath whose incompleted “review” of Jesus: Neither God Nor Man is now notorious, we find that his own predisposed antagonism to the very idea (which he had long before given evidence of) has produced such misrepresentation and ignoring of what I actually argue and how I argue it that the response to him here and on his own blog is almost entirely taken up with having to expose those deficiencies.

    Cameron comes from a long tradition that shows no sign of recognizing its true nature any time soon. It is sliding further and further into irrelevancy, except of course within its own closed ranks.

    • 2015-08-01 01:52:19 GMT+0000 - 01:52 | Permalink

      Mining old vridar and it is refreshing to hear Earl’ clear and erudite voice.

  • 2012-02-09 08:22:19 GMT+0000 - 08:22 | Permalink

    Neil, I would like to share a few things on this topic if I may. As far as I’m aware, we have no written evidence for Christianity or its development until sometime after 150 C.E. (according to accepted manuscript dating) So to me, anyone, even those expert scholars, who propose any theories as to what was going on during this time are mere speculations at best. And I do understand that this is the foundation of the Christ-myth. Because of this lack of evidence, someone can certainly ask, barring the Christian writings for a minute, what other evidence is there to prove Jesus’ existence. Because if we can find reason to believe Jesus might not have been real, then the Christian writings would simply be the product of the fiction that was created earlier. Now I have to say here before people get the wrong idea, I do believe Jesus was real and all the NT is accurate history. I simply can not understand why some people get so bent out of shape when mythicism is brought up. I can easily let you have your beliefs without acting like a 2 year old. (you listening Dr McGrath?) Speaking of him, isn’t he one of those scholars that claim the Old Testament is full of mythical stories and that they were only compiled and edited at a much later date than is usually thought? To him, Moses didn’t write the first five books, so is Moses a real person for Dr McGrath? What about Adam? With all the claims regarding evolution, Adam must not be real either. apparently this other main biblical character was fabricated as well by the Jews, why not the second Adam too?

    No, there is no conspiracy, but there is accountability. As I said, I see where you are coming from, and in the end you may be right. This whole religion thing might just be one big fraud. There is not enough physical evidence to prove with out a doubt one view over the other. That is why people have to take a leap of faith from the limited evidence to a decisive commitment one way or the other. However, on the surface, there is much more circumstantial evidence of Jesus being a real person. And because of that, many more people have subscribed to this superficial view. And because of that, many establishments have been built around the idea of Christianity. And since people, even scholars have to make a faith based judgment on what to believe based on the limited evidence, why go against the establishment when no one has proof one way or the other? It also makes sense that scholars who are not religiously affiliated, will at least admit that Jesus was a historical person so as not to face full rejection.

    Cameron says: “I don’t deny that people with contrarian views face heightened scrutiny from their peers, but might we consider that is so because their ideas are flawed?”

    I do not know what Cameron’s views are, but I know he at least believes Jesus was a real person. However, considering what is written in the NT about Jesus, he must have had flawed ideas too! Interesting!

  • 2012-02-09 19:42:50 GMT+0000 - 19:42 | Permalink

    I took up a response to Cameron’s remarks on so-called hypocrisy of Christ myth proponents criticizing Creationists: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/hypocritical-christ-mythers-camerons-response-to-neil-godfrey-at-vridar-my-response-back/

    And I picked up on this because, iirc, there was some allusion to this on Dr McGrath’s Exploring Our Matrix blog.

    But the intellectual level and tone of Cameron’s arguments or responses to my post have not encouraged me to continue with a dialogue. I would like to respond to some of Dr McGrath’s, however, not because they are any improvement in either of those areas but simply because he abuses his status as an academic to publish his ineptness — and not only because it’s Dr McGrath writing as he does: Dr McG clearly has support from some surprisingly intelligent quarters. This only goes to show that the anti-mythicist case is pretty desperate and bereft of any substance.

    If I may make a particular point in response to Jason in comment #4 above, it should be kept in mind that mythicism is not a new challenge to biblical scholarship. It is as old as the eighteenth century. I sometimes address reasons for the avoidance of this challenge among mainstream scholars simply because their longstanding refusal to engage seriously with it does call for an explanation. It will be interesting to see how or if the internet changes the traditional pattern of avoidance in the longrun. It certainly has the potential to expose more widely the closed-mindedness of the academic community. (Some will immediately say that scholars have not avoided it and point to a book by say, Shirley Jackson Case or Goguel. But those exceptions only prove the rule. Mythicists have indeed engaged with such works and then there is no other engagement. Others in the academic field appear to simply ignore the issue and move on. They do not attempt to defend anyone who has supposedly engaged with mythicist arguments but do no more than refer to the works. I doubt many have ever bothered to read them or the mythicist arguments themselves, let alone the mythicist responses to such works. That’s not engagement or rebuttal.)

  • My Heathen Heart
    2013-01-05 07:53:49 GMT+0000 - 07:53 | Permalink

    I very much enjoyed this, although one can so easily exhaust their reserves of patience when dealing with illogical, irrational, minds feasting upon fiction, insisting it’s ‘fact’.

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