Tag Archives: Acharya S

Why Is Christmas on the 25th of December?

The Catholic Liturgical Year

While researching this post, I came upon an item from 2015 about the sad and untimely death of Acharya S. on Christmas Day. Readers of Vridar may have noticed that I’ve avoided writing about Acharya’s theories or writings, mainly because they did not and do not interest me, but secondarily, because I’d rather not tangle with her fans, many of whom take any critique of her brand of mythicism as a personal attack.

I must decrease

Recently, however, I recalled something I heard on a podcast featuring Robert M. Price and Acharya. I suppose we’re allowed to call her Dorothy Murdock now. Murdock was explaining to Price that the role of the Forerunner helped to determine when in the liturgical calendar to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist. She reminded Price that in the Fourth Gospel, John the Baptist is confronted by his disciples about what to do concerning this upstart Jesus fellow. He says:

[28] “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ [29] The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. [30] He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:28-30, ESV)

A typical reader would look at that last sentence and take it at face value. In other words, John the Baptist realizes his role must diminish as Jesus takes on the mantle of Messiah, Son of God, Son of Man, Savior of the World. The Baptist is signaling the winding down of his business, having fulfilled his purpose.

But Murdock said it was a mysterious thing to say, and that it had to do with the days getting shorter after the solstice. And this is precisely why John’s birth was commemorated near the first day of summer, while Jesus’ was celebrated near the winter solstice. When Christ is “rising,” I am “falling.” Hence, the notion that John was born on 24 June, six months away from Christmas.

The virgin . . . tomb?

At the time I did a little research, which fell by the wayside as other subjects took my attention. I recall coming across some early discussions about the incarnation and how some early Christians believed it had to have occurred on the same calendar date as the death of Jesus. For example, Augustine wrote: read more »

What Is Euhemerism?

chromolithograph Caricature of Thomas Henry Hu...
Chromolithograph Caricature of Thomas Henry Huxley. Caption read “A great Med’cine-Man among the Inquiring Redskins”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Note: This post reflects my perspective. Neil is not responsible for any of the following content. –Tim]

We have Thomas Huxley to thank for the word Darwinism, which he coined in 1860 in a review of On the Origin of Species. In modern times, of course, creationists have misused the term, applying it to any theory of natural evolution, and even to the study of abiogenesis. They continue to embrace the “ism” since bolsters their assertion that evolution is a kind of belief system, just as irrational as religion.

What is Darwinism? 

Simply stated, Darwinism is the theory of biological evolution by means of natural selection. Technically, the terms Darwinism and biological evolution are not entirely synonymous, since theories of evolution existed before Charles Darwin. I recall being taken aback when I first read that Charles’ grandfather Erasmus had written a poem suggesting all forms of life were interrelated and had evolved to their present state. And well before Charles published his book, Jean-Baptiste Larmarck had proposed a theory of evolution based on the idea that organisms acquire traits during their lives, and later pass them on (somehow) to their offspring.

Darwinism differs from other competing theories of evolution in its mechanism for change. It makes no sense, then, to apply the term to other theories that posit some process other than gradual modification through natural selection.

Nor is it technically correct to call today’s modern synthesis “Darwinism,” since it embraces two other important foundational concepts, namely mutation theory and Mendelian genetics. So those who would today call an evolutionary biologist a Darwinist betray their ignorance of evolution, Darwin, and biology in general.

A less familiar term, euhemerism, from time to time suffers similar misuse. How should we define this word? We might explain it, following Dr. Richard Carrier, as “doing what Euhemerus did.

But then we have to ask, “Well, what was that?”

read more »

Death of D.M. Murdock / Acharya S

With great sadness we note the untimely passing of D.M. Murdock (a.k.a. Acharya S). She died on Christmas day, having succumbed to breast cancer. Over the years we’ve had our differences with Murdock’s ideas (and her followers) here on Vridar, but we always respected her energy and tenacity.

In the United States, unfortunately, illnesses like cancer can leave the living with large medical and burial bills. If you would like to help Acharya’s survivors, you can donate to a GiveForward fund set up in her name.

Requiescat in pace.

The Confessional Epilogue: Christians and Acharya

Scholarship motivated by confessional interests

Most of us are familiar with the confessional reflections that so many biblical scholars drop in at the close of their scholarly works on Jesus. Sometimes this confessional is found in the prologue or preface as well. It is like a little prayer uttered by the devout believer thanking and praising the Lord for the academic study he has produced. It is particularly obnoxious when found in the dedication of a formal higher degree thesis. “Obnoxious” because it betrays an interest and motivation that is not entirely scholarly: it is scholarship motivated by confessional interests.

Examples (my bold emphasis throughout):

  • “Indeed, for Christians, the unending conversation about Jesus is the most important conversation there is. He is for us the decisive revelation of God. . . .” (last paragraph of Borg’s Jesus)
  • “And yet, despite everything, for those who have ears to hear, Jesus, the millenarian herald of judgment and salvation, says the only things worth saying, for his dream is the only one worth dreaming. . . .” (Allison, last paragraph of Jesus of Nazareth)
  • “Jesus will always be for me the way to God. . . .” (Spong, last paragraph of Liberating the Gospels)
  • “For a believing Christian both the life of the Word of God and the text of the Word of God are alike a graded process of historical reconstruction. . . . If you cannot believe in something produced by reconstruction, you may have nothing left to believe in.” (Crossan, final words in The Historical Jesus)

ChristInEgyptAnd so on.

Confessional statements and astrotheology

So it occurred to me that if I am correct in coming to realize that D.M. Murdock (Acharya S) is just as devoted to a religious view of Christian origins and writes with a view to sharing her belief system in the same way, then in her more neutral and “academically” minded books I should find the same confessional statements, most probably in the epilogue.

I have read sections of Christ in Egypt before but this time I turned to conclusion and here is what I found:

read more »

Astrotheology, A Religious Belief System (as per D.M. Murdock/Acharya S)

TabulaThe more I have read of the works of Acharya S (aka D.M. Murdock) and the more engagement I have had with those who fervently advocate her views the more I have suspected that some form of cult-like belief system lies beneath their surface appearances. Part of the reason for my suspicions has been the vitriolic reactions on their part against any attempt to honestly critique their views and engage them in argument that consistently follows the norms of scholarly or “scientific” reasoning. I have been portrayed in some very colorful terms by both Acharya and those I believe it is fair to say are her followers. In effect I have been lumped together with others as deliberately closed-minded, bigoted and out to lyingly slander them. My record of defending Acharya against some of the worst insults I have read on the web counts for nothing.

Finally one of Acharya’s fairly prominent online supporters, Robert Tulip, has “come out” and made it very clear that my suspicions were right all along. Astrotheology — the view they propagate — is a form of religious belief. They believe as strongly as any fundamentalist that they are right and anyone who does not agree with them after they explain it all is perverse or willfully blind. Expressions of disagreement are interpreted as expressions of hostility or even persecution.

And like religious cults, they curry good relations with prominent or respectable names that they believe will give their cause a benign public face. Anyone with public standing among those they seek to influence and who has had a positive word to say about Acharya’s books is promoted as a witness that they really are a genuinely scholarly (even scientific) group of truth-seekers. I have finally come to believe they are as scientific as Scientology; their efforts to claim to follow the scientific method are a falsehood. I doubt that people like Earl Doherty really do understand exactly what it is their names are being used to support when they insist that such people have made supportive comments about their publications.

My full awareness of all of this did not come quickly. I have hoped my suspicions were not true often enough. If I can be shown to be mistaken I would greatly welcome it and apologize for this post and withdraw it.

What finally led me to give up any remaining doubts I had about their religious or cult status was a series of posts on the EarlyWritings Forum. The most recent of these posts, under the title Loaves and Fishes, were prompted by pressure from a few of us for Robert to demonstrate the scientific or scholarly basis for his rejection of normal (“midrashic”/literary-critical) explanations for the miracle of the loaves and fishes in the Gospels and his belief that this narrative was written as a code of some sort for “astrotheology” beliefs. The result is the epitome of parallelomania (as I have explained this through Sandmel’s definitions a couple of times recently); but the worst part comes at the end when it is made very clear that Robert himself takes his interpretation as a personal belief system along with the fundamentalist-like view that anyone who fails to share his enlightenment is willfully perverse.

Here is Robert Tulip’s explication of the Gospels’ Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. After reading this I finally realized I have been wasting my time taking many of his remarks testifying to an interest in the hypothetico-deductive method at face value. He — and I can only presume the same applies to Acharya S herself — are evidently not interested in scholarly approaches to Christian origins and really are about peddling a quasi-religious type of belief-system.

I have bolded the text that I consider to be the evidence that “astrotheology” as advocated here is indeed a genuine personal belief-system that shuts down any possibility of genuinely scholarly engagement and criticism.

At the end of the post I add a couple of scholarly reviews of David Ulansey’s argument that it was the ancient discovery of the precession of the equinoxes that prompted the rise of Mithraism and possibly even Christianity.

read more »

On the Shutting Down of D.M. Murdock’s Facebook Account

Updated about two hours after original posting. . .

Unlike Richard Carrier, I did not receive a request to sign a petition protesting Facebook’s decision to shut down permanently D.M. Murdock’s/Acharya S’s page. This is a shame in some ways, since I would have been willing to seriously consider joining in such an action. It’s a lesson in what can happen when you decide to publicly slander and treat as enemies those who attempt to make forthright, honest criticisms of your work. Had Murdock or several of her followers not so outrageously reacted against my eventual response to their requests to write what I thought of some of her arguments, she would have recognized another potential avenue for supporting her cause against Facebook now.

Having said that, I must also say that I do not agree with the public showing of the image of Nigerian girls being subjected to virginity tests. (Facebook’s terms of use ban any display of nudity.)

Murdock wanted the image shown to shock readers enough to be outraged and act in whatever way they could to doing their bit to having this practice stopped.

But I would beg Murdock and Carrier and others to stop and think:

Would they want such images being shown world-wide if the victims shown were their own daughters or sisters?

Does how we answer that question suggest something about our attitude towards anonymous Africans? Has anyone stopped to ask how any of the girls in the photograph might feel about having that experience posted around the world? Might anyone even think to try to identify and locate any of those girls and ask them for permission to show them undergoing that ordeal?

Is not publishing that photo only adding to the humiliation of the victims?

Another news story that has recently appeared is of a 16 year old girl who was gang raped, dropped unconscious in a sewer pit, and now confined to a wheel-chair. There is an image against the story of a black girl’s head with her face hidden by her hand. The same article says that the image is not of the girl in the story. It even says the name of the girl in the story, “Liz”, is not the real name of the victim.

I don’t believe anyone who knows the real victim would want any photos of her undergoing any of her humiliation (not that they would be likely to exist) being made public.

I can’t help but think that what we are seeing here with the demands that Murdock’s original image be shown (even with the offending sections being blurred out) is a case of dehumanization of Africans. The girls are anonymous, black, in Africa, therefore “we” feel free to use them for political causes without any consideration of their privacy, their personal individuality and right to be treated with dignity.

I am particularly surprised that Richard Carrier, who is so outspoken on women’s rights, seems to have not stopped to think through this one. The story of the rape I mentioned above is no less confronting for its absence of graphic images of the girl being raped or lying in the sewer pit. Humans are creative enough to find ways to outrage readers and motivate to action without violating the personal dignity of those who have suffered unspeakable humiliation enough.

And even Ophelia Benson has joined voices with Carrier on this one. Something somewhere was said about anthropology research. My understanding is that professional anthropologists are bound by ethics standards that forbid anything that violates the privacy and dignity of others.

Closing Murdock’s Facebook page permanently for this one breach, perhaps well-intentioned but also (I strongly believe) very misguided, is disproportionate.

By the way . . . .

read more »

Book Review: Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth — Reviewing the review

Edited with a few additional remarks 4 hours after first posting.

This post is a response to Book Review: Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth. I read this review before I received my own (Kindle) copy of Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth, so I was dismayed when I began to read the book to find that I had been completely misled as to its character and content. Fear that that same review may influence many negatively towards the contributors of the book is what is compelling me to write this response now. (Apologists like McG are quite eager to lap it up uncritically.)

The review levels five charges against Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth:

  1. “resorting to a personal attack . . . nearly 600 pages of venom and rhetoric . . . full of venom and disgust”
  2. “The title of this volume bespeaks the purpose: it is a series of essays with the intent to character assassinate.”
  3. “And Price’s attempts to link the contributors of the volume, in all, and those who support the so-called ‘Christ Myth Theory’ with minimalism is a void one.”
  4. “Price also gives D.M. Murdock too much credit. He is guilty of inflating her credentials in many respects and, while they are friends, it is distracting. He writes, for example, that ‘her chief sin in Ehrman’s eyes would appear to be her lack of diplomas on the wall’, but that is an oversimplification of what Ehrman argues.”
  5. “Also there is a surprising amount of personal correspondence. Frank produces some 75 pages for his first contribution and more than half of it consists of various email exchanges between Ehrman and himself. This troubles me as I am not so sure that such a move is ethical. . . . In my humble opinion, it is wholly unwelcome that Zindler dedicated so much space to these emails and also formulated a polemical argument around them; it is quite unfortunate that this appears in this volume.”

I’ll address these in reverse order.

5. Unethical email disclosures?

I was shocked to read this and feared that Frank Zindler may have overstepped the mark when I read this accusation. So I was particularly keen to read carefully how Frank does introduce these email exchanges with Bart Ehrman. I was greatly relieved to learn that Tom Verenna’s aspersions were entirely misplaced. Here’s what I found. Frank attaches the following note at the point of publishing the first email response from Bart Ehrman:

I thank Professor Ehrman for graciously having granted me permission to reprint here his messages, provided only that I “acknowledge that they were emails, not written intended for publication.”

I do wonder, however, about the ethics of publishing an image of a personal message from Frank to the reviewer. Did T.V. seek F.Z’s permission for this?

4. Giving D. M. Murdock too much credit?

Robert M. Price, we are told, “inflates” the credentials of D.M. Murdock/Acharya S. read more »

“Christ Conspiracy” chapter 3: The Holy Forgery Mill

This continues my posts engaging with The Christ Conspiracy (CC) by Acharya S/D. M. Murdock. I have had quite a few responses from strong supporters of the astrotheology view argued in this book, all of them hostile, one even threatening legal action. These reactions have all reminded me vividly of my experiences in leaving a religious cult some years ago. The mentality is tribal, cultish, without any ability to accept any criticism or serious questioning of its fundamental belief-system whatsoever. They proclaim their sense of persecution and victimhood like true believing martyrs. Questions are fine if they are asked in a “good attitude”, which means being supportive and not rejecting anything one does not fully understand or completely agree with.

The chapter title The Holy Forgery Mill is subtexted with the quotation “J’accuse!” And that is what the chapter is — one long accusation. I have not read Bart Ehrman’s Forged, mainly because I had earlier read another work, Forgers and Critics by Anthony Grafton, that seemed to say it all anyway. I am sure Ehrman’s work would be similar to Grafton’s in that it would provide readers with facts, cases, evidence, explanations of motives, culture, and so forth. There is nothing like this in this CC chapter, however. read more »

Part 3: Review of Acharya S’s “The Christ Conspiracy”

I decided to review this book after encountering commenters on this blog strongly asserting that Christian origins must be found in “astrotheology”. I had to confess I had never read Acharya S’s or D. M. Murdock’s book arguing for this position, The Christ Conspiracy, completely from cover to cover. I did, however, attempt to point out where the comments presenting this case here were logically fallacious. Each time, however, or at least very often, I was assured that there was “much more” to the argument. So I thought it might be a good idea — at least for the benefit of curious bystanders — to have a closer look at the book that I understand propelled a renewed interest in the apparent astrotheological roots of Christianity.

Unfortunately, the responses of both those earlier commenters, Murdock herself and other of her supporters, have been uniformly maliciously hostile towards me personally. I was regularly chastised for even deciding to review this book at all since it was an “old” book and Murdock has written other things since 1999, in particular Christ in Egypt. But as far as I can see Christ in Egypt does not address, at least not directly, the arguments for astrotheology as the basis of Christian origins. Moreover, that recent book refers its readers more than once (pp, vi, 575, and it is referenced in the index 20 times) to The Christ Conspiracy without any sense of embarrassment. So I think it is fair to say CC still has relevance.

As for the accusations that my reviews are riddled with personal insult and abuse towards D. M. Murdock, I leave it up to disinterested readers to decide their validity. What comes across to me is that Murdock’s supporters and Murdock herself interpret any criticism of their arguments, or any point at all that they deem not to be wholeheartedly supportive, even lighthearted irony and humour, as psychologically deranged personal attacks. Their leader has apparently even called upon them to find all the dirt they can about me — beginning with my past association with the Boy Cubs, or was that my childhood fantasies about Santa Claus? — no, no, I remember now, it was my time spent in the Anglican and Uniting churches after I left a cult, or was it the time I spent in the cult itself, or was it that cult-exit support group I started up for a while afterwards? Anyway, they apparently have my tortured past and my supposedly twisted psychological makeup all sorted out among themselves as a result of these reviews. (I now routinely divert their comments to my spam bin.)

Chapter 2. The Quest for Jesus Christ

D. M. Murdock (she used the name Acharya S on the book) points out the way Jesus Christ has been interpreted and reinterpreted in different ways to meet changing cultural needs. She writes: “Burton Mack says in The Lost Gospel of Q” — the actual title is The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins — that before Constantine Jesus was mainly seen as a good shepherd yet after Constantine as a great victor. Murdock updates this with a wide range of popular images of Jesus today. I have posted on Dieter Georgi’s in-depth study of these changing images of Christ: see How Jesus has been re-imaged through the ages to fit different historical needs. read more »

Review – Part 2 – of Acharya S’s “The Christ Conspiracy”

Chapter one of The Christ Conspiracy [CC] is titled, reasonably, “Introduction”. In this chapter Murdock (known at the time as Acharya S) discusses history. Now my primary love as a student was history. I am still buying and reading books on history — ancient, medieval, modern, western, eastern, global, local. When I travel I often spend ages in a museum presenting the history of wherever I am. I have visited and lived among peoples of diverse races, languages and cultures. I also have a fascination for how the animal kingdom works. I love watching and learning about any number of other species. What I find so educational are the many similarities between us and other species. We are not alone when it comes to violence, savagery, love and sacrifice. Nor, I believe, can anyone isolate beliefs alone as a motivator of human behaviour. Beliefs, rather, may be used to rationalize or excuse behaviour, both good and bad.

Religious beliefs are, we have to face it, as much a “human universal” as are language, jokes, toilet training, tool-making and conflict itself.

So when anyone isolates and blames a single cultural factor, religion, for our crimes I just don’t buy it. Blaming religion alone, even primarily, as a cause of violence, is demonstrating a very shallow, one-dimensional view of human nature.

Sure there are times when religious belief is pernicious and destructive. I like to think we would all be better off without religion. But as Tamas Pataki reminded us, can we be sure that by killing off all the pests in our gardens won’t upset the entire ecosystem?

So when in chapter one of CC Acharya blames religion for the world’s violence and cruelty I cringe a little. Chapter one is nothing but a diatribe against the evils of religion and an identification of religion with evil. Religion is responsible for the inhumanity, the violence, the tortures, the deceptions of this world.

So in this chapter Murdock writes:

no ideology is more divisive than religion, which rends humanity in a number of ways through extreme racism, sexism and even speciesism.

In history classes as early as high school I learned the difference between “religion” and “ideology”, so this sentence confuses me. But she will go further and target Christianity in particular:

Few religions of any antiquity have escaped unscathed by innumerable bloodbaths, and, while Islam is currently the source of much fear in the world today, Christianity is far and away the bloodiest in history.

Murdock wont even let the Communists and Nazis escape the bile of religion. Lenin and Marx were “(religious) Jews”. Hitler was a Roman Catholic. Stalin an Eastern Orthodox. (She doesn’t tell us what Mao or Pol Pot were.) read more »

Review of Acharya S’s “The Christ Conspiracy” part 1

Recently I have been chastised by Acharya S (D. M. Murdock) and some of her followers for failing to give the attention and prominence (one of them wanted to do a guest post on my blog) to their views that they demand they deserve. This followed recent posts and comments of mine in which I tried to explain that I was not particularly interested in their approach to the question of Christian origins, but it also followed my trying to point out to them why I thought their approach to Christian origins was logically flawed and hence unscholarly or unscientific. Their thesis failed adequately to argue against alternative hypotheses and relied mostly upon the fallacy of seeing only what they believed could be used to support their views, and also because they failed to provide any direct or specific evidence to support their claims that ancient astrological or astrotheological views belief systems were responsible for the creation of Christianity.

Consequently I suddenly found myself accused of suppressing and banning astrotheology, of insulting Acharya personally, and of being under the influence of a cult mentality that pre-programmed me to adhere to certain conclusions and rendered me incapable of thinking for myself.

Thoroughly chastened, I have decided to go back and take the time to read more carefully The Christ Conspiracy than I did some years ago and to give it a full-scale chapter-by-chapter review.

Let’s start with the Preface. I take a little time on this because it introduces us to the author of the book and helps us get our bearings as we approach a work that stands outside the resources of mainstream scholarship.

Preface

The Preface is written by Kenn Thomas. I had no idea who Kenn was so I checked out a few sites where he explains himself, including one where he engages in a lengthy radio interview. Kenn Thomas is Mr Conspiracy Theorist Par Excellence and responsible for SteamshovelPress.Com – All Conspiracy – No Theory. Kennedy was assassinated because of what he was about to discover about UFOs. The Middle East riots are instigated by an FBI related plot. I also thought I heard something about “they” who are “trying to take away our enjoyment of life”, too. Most instructive was a moment in a radio interview when Kenn addressed those who reject such conspiracy theories: he could not remember or bring himself to spell out what their alternative explanations were and why they rejected the conspiracy option. read more »

Falling out

Recently anyone would think that I have come out and “attacked” and “abused” Acharya S / D. M. Murdock and others when all I have done is allow some discussion in which I insisted that the standard rules of evidence be foundational for conclusions and said that methods that do not follow such standard rules are unscientific.

I have over the years avoided addressing the works of Acharya S / D. M. Murdock for no reason other than that I have never spent much time reading any of them and have had no personal interest in her perspective on things. From time to time someone supporting her views has commented on this blog and I have never had a problem with that. (What I have objected to is when anyone repeatedly comments in a way that indicates they are regularly attempting to evangelize for some particular belief — mostly these are Christian fundamentalists or mystics of some sort. Once I realize what is going on I usually put a stop to their comments.)

D. M. Murdock herself has posted comments on this blog at least three times:

/2006/11/21/the-jesus-puzzle-did-christianity-begin-with-a-mythical-christ-early-doherty-canadian-humanists-1999-review/#comment-5037 — in response I purchased her book Fingerprints of Christ and have browsed through much of it a few times, but I have not seen anything in it to capture my interest enough to write about. I have no problems with its content. It is okay — nothing new from my perspective, I would not condemn it. There are many basic works on mythicism that have little interest for me mainly because I am so familiar with the sorts of things they say and I have moved on from such things. That’s not to say they would not be of interest to others, of course.

/2012/02/06/earliest-manuscript-of-the-gospel-of-mark-validates-earl-doherty/#comment-23189
and
/2012/06/18/did-they-really-think-like-this/#comment-30983

I have never banned Murdock’s comments. I have several times expressed my outrage over the abusive insults so many others have directed at Murdock/Acharya and have never indulged in such abuse against her myself. Tim has had the same approach — deploring the way many others have spoken of her with contempt. I have twice expressed my own discomfort with Richard Carrier’s insulting language directed not only at Acharya but others, too. I do not agree with his rationales for it and do not engage in his sort of personally insulting language here. I do not agree with some of Carrier’s efforts to shut down discussions through insult. It is important to provide rational and clear responses to irrational and muddled ideas.

I accepted Acharya’s Facebook invitation to be added as a Facebook friend — though I scarcely ever use Facebook at all for quite some time now. My blog posts, someone told me, are linked there, but that’s all. (She has since removed herself from that status.) I have recently a few times had occasion to speak critically of some of her approaches to things where I have felt it appropriate to do so — but that is not personal abuse.

I was recently prepared to engage Robert Tulip and others in discussion about astrotheology, and I was at some pains to reassure him that my initial scepticism had nothing to do with prejudice. For heaven’s sake, I have been through enough to not be embarrassed or prejudiced against about holding a minority viewpoint. But I have also been through enough to know just how easily I can be wrong about so much. So what is so very important to me is understanding how valid logic works, how we know what we do and how we justify the conclusions we draw from our information. I am never content to rely on secondary sources but always want to understand the primary material any knowledge is based upon before committing myself in discussions such as the ones I address here. I have mentioned in my biographical notes elsewhere the point at which I realized what it was going to mean to attempt as far as I could the path of intellectual honesty.

Now Murdock’s supporters are pointing to one period of my past life to paint me as an ongoing cultist in my thought patterns. They have obviously missed the rest of my biographical details in my “About Vridar” page and also in my recent post, “A Little Biographical Footnote“. It is because of lessons I have learned from my past experience in a cult that I can smell certain kinds of fallacious arguments a mile off.

So yes, method of argument is important to me. How we justify the conclusions we draw is important — more so or at least as important as the conclusions themselves.

I do not rely on secondary literature. I use secondary literature to gain access to new ways of understanding our sources, and that’s why my library and reading has become so vast. One book will often lead me to read half a dozen other books. And I will be studying the primary sources, too, and studies made about them. So when Murdock or others say a certain book is “the definitive” or “must read” answer to a question, I generally do not agree. I will read what others have to say about it — scholarly reviews — as well as read carefully what the author has to say, and I will usually find much more qualifications by the author than found among some over-enthusiastic readers.

So it is with disappointment that I find the following remarks now being spread about me on Acharya/Murdock’s discussion board: read more »

The Facts of the Matter: Carrier 9, Ehrman 1 (my review, part 2)

Let’s sit down and look at the score sheet. Richard Carrier kicked 11 “errors of fact” at the net of Bart Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist?

Carrier says he could have kicked many more but that it was getting dark and the referee told him he had limited time.

Since beginning to write this post I have learned Richard Carrier has posted his own reply to Ehrman. But I have avoided reading his response so as to continue with my own thoughts for my own “review” of Ehrman’s book.

Here are the “errors of fact” Carrier kicked at Ehrman’s book, in order:

  1. The Priapus Bronze
  2. The Doherty Slander
  3. The Pliny Confusion
  4. The Pilate Error
  5. The “No Records” Debacle
  6. The Tacitus Question
  7. The “Other Jesus” Conundrum
  8. That Dying-and-Rising God Thing
  9. The Baptism Blunder
  10. The Dying Messiah Question
  11. The Matter of Qualifications

Here are the “errors of fact” Ehrman attempted to defend, in order:

  1. The Priapus Bronze, or Cocky Peter (Or: “A Cock and Bull Story”) (in a separate post)
  2. The Matter of Qualifications
  3. The Pilate Error
  4. The Tacitus Question
  5. The Dying and Rising God
  6. The “Other Jesus” Conundrum
  7. “No Roman Records”
  8. The Doherty “Slander”
  9. The Pliny Confusion

That means goalie Ehrman stood there texting on his mobile while two went through uncontested:

  1. The Baptism Blunder
  2. The Dying Messiah Question

Keep in mind that these “Errors of Fact” in Carrier’s critique of Ehrman’s book are not the only, nor even necessarily the most, serious faults in Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? But I cannot cover everything in one post so I deal with these before moving on in a future post to the even more significant errors and fallacies of Ehrman’s work. read more »