Thread: The Ehrman/Carrier Debate
April 25th 2012, 02:26 PM #1
The Ehrman/Carrier Debate
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I have yet to read Ehrman's "Did Jesus Exist?" although I do have a copy of it here, but library books come first. That having been said, it has been amusing on some web sites to see how Richard Carrier is now going after Bart Ehrman and this no doubt places the usual village atheist in a bind.
Typically, fundy atheists online have relied on Bart Ehrman. One can hardly read the new atheists without seeing a reference to Bart Ehrman as the authority. At the same time, the new atheists seem quite open to the idea that Jesus never existed and now, the champion that online fundy atheists have claimed for so long has come out with a position deemed heretical.
So now what to do? Apparently for fundy atheists, in the past, Ehrman's books were seen as excellent because Ehrman is a scholar and he is right in what he says, but now that this one has come out, what to do? Do we want to still say he's a scholar and value what he says, but if so then we have to drop the idea that Jesus never existed? How could Ehrman give such a betrayal as this?
For the rest of us in reality who actually look at claims on a case-by-case basis and have it be more than "X says so", this isn't a problem. We can recommend the works of someone on a case-by-case basis realizing some positions we agree with and some don't. Not so for the typical fundy atheists who treats the paragons of his faith more seriously than most Christians treat Scripture.
Enter Richard Carrier. Carrier has long been the go-to man for online skeptics and is one of those few people who still holds to this position that Jesus never existed. Carrier also seems to think he's an authority on several issues and gets called out quickly when someone else comes along who is one. Most notably, he has quite an ego online.
Watching these two fare off is quite amusing, but even more so is the fact that Ehrman is shown to know what he's talking about by and large while Carrier is picking at tiny little points thinking that this somehow makes a difference in the overall argument.
Not to be outdone in the "X says so" category, we've also seen that P.Z. Myers has applauded Carrier for dealing with Ehrman and that Stephen Law has come out against the existence of Jesus. Keep in mind that both Myers and Law in their respective fields will be demanding evidence to believe something, which in itself I have no problem of, but when it comes to history which they do not study professionally, they are quick to say the evidence is not enough.
By all means, let them do it. By doing so, the new atheist movement is becoming more and more out of sync with reality and when they have to defend this historically atrocious position, then they will have to keep doing more and more all in the attempt to save face rather than face that dreadful alternative of saying "I was wrong."
This has to be done in fact because the last thing that can be admitted is that the Christian theist actually has a point. Once that is done, then the atheist has to admit that it is no longer blind faith. It is faith that has reason behind it and there goes another one of their favorite cards in their deck.
The idea seems to be that we're all supposed to stand together and Ehrman has gone against that stand. He must be dealt with. It will be amusing to see if this means online atheists will quickly move away from Ehrman when in a debate someone says "Ehrman. Ehrman. Isn't he the guy who wrote that book demonstrating that Jesus did exist?"
For now, let the new atheists continue their strong defense of Carrier as their champion and just wait and see what happens when it is shown that the emperor has no clothes. Perhaps then we can ever hear a biblical lament at that point about how the mighty have fallen.
After all, when you're married to an ideology, why let a little thing like evidence get in the way at that point?
Nick PetersCheck the blog of Apologiaphoenix!
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April 26th 2012, 02:49 AM #2
Re: The Ehrman/Carrier Debate
Subscribing to thread.Geoffrey: How did we all die at the same time?
(The Grim Reaper points at one of the platters on the table.)
Grim Reaper: The salmon mousse.
Geoffrey: Dearest, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?
Angela: I'm so dreadfully embarrassed!
Lady Presenter: (much later, as they're all being carried away to the afterlife) Hey, I didn't eat the mousse!
— Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
April 26th 2012, 09:05 AM #3
Re: The Ehrman/Carrier Debate
Not sure if you saw it, but Ehrman responded to Carrier at length yesterday, http://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-t...#post-comments
Also interesting was historian of religion, R. Joseph Hoffman's "rant" against Carrier (and other mythicists) where he states,
"This little rant (and it is a rant, I acknowledge and I do not apologize for it: somebody’s got to do it) will be followed next week by three essay-length responses to Richard C. Carrier’s ideas: The first by me, the second by Professor Maurice Casey of the University of Nottingham, and the third by Stephanie Fisher a specialist in Q-studies. We will attempt to show an impetuous amateur not only where he goes wrong, but why he should buy a map before starting his journey. Other replies will follow in course, and we invite Carrier, his fans, and anyone else interested in this discussion to respond to it at any stage along the way."
I think this should be interesting because Hoffman was a co-founder (along with Robert Price and Gerd Lüdemann) of the failed Jesus Project, which, according to Wiki, was intended to be a 5 year study on the historicity of Jesus, and who's fellows included Richard Carrier, Bruce Chilton, Robert Eisenman, Dorothy King, Paul Kurtz, Stephen Law, Niels Peter Lemche, Dennis MacDonald, James M. Robinson, Richard E. Rubenstein, James D. Tabor, and Thomas L. Thompson. The project fell apart because of funding and because apparently Hoffman wasn't happy with the direction of the project, especially pertaining to biases connected to it because of his association with the so called "Center for Inquiry" who's agenda is supposedly "to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values". Hoffman plans on resurrecting the project under the title the "Jesus Prospect" that he mentioned in a blog post in 2010, but promised recently is still in the workings. Here are some quotes from that 2010 blog post that I found interesting,
"In fact, there is a good prospect that Jesus of Nazareth existed. It is the most efficient explanation for the gospels, the writings of Paul and the formation of gospels and the church. There is a possibility he did not. The thin possibility cannot be supported by sweeping away the gospels like so much Palestinian debris that occludes a master-theory, anymore than the uncertainty of who the Scythians were proves that Herodotus made them up. I am of one mind with April DeConick when I assay the work of the “mythers”–the born again pre-committed–a term I don’t like very much, but in an odd way one that points to the hollowness of many of the non-historicity arguments."
"The headline “Jesus never existed” is not the end-game of this process. But an insistence on the importance of a hearing and verdict on the best available evidence is. And while you are keeping things in mind, keep this in mind: it is almost inevitably true that the result of such an investigation will not pay big dividends. No one will ever be able to render a “scientific” conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth was made up. It is waste of time to try."
"Increasingly, scholars are returning to question whether the existence of “Q” is more a quest for the grail than a quest for a real document. I count among my friends many who have memorized two, four, and twelve source theories with the enthusiasm ordinarily reserved for a good bottle of wine. But in my opinion, the search for Q ended with Austin Farrer; its reconstructions have been fanciful. And they have been the greatest distraction in New Testament studies for almost a century."
I also found this quote by Hoffman in the replies to his rant that I thought was sort of funny, "But I have decided to stop writing about atheism. Because I believe that atheism is to religion what counting on your fingers is to mathematics. It works, to a point. But it ends where the serious questions and complexities begin.”
Anyways, it should be interesting to see how far this whole issue goes, and I'm really interested in seeing what Hoffman and company are working on in rebuttal to Carrier and other mythers. I don't think Ehrman had any idea that he was going to ruffle so many feathers with his book, nor did he seem to realize just how deeply ingrained the mythicist mindset was or how caustic and nitpicky critical discussion could get online. Ehrman comments on his recent blog post, "Many critics of my work have boundless energy and, seemingly, endless time. I myself have lots of energy, but not lots of time." This has been one of my critiques of some posters on this forum as well, and why I find endless threads with people trying to win conversations boring and pointless, and why I'm assuming Nick has sort of limited his own time to this section of the forum...
"Give the Word a chance to say that the Word is just the Way. It's the Word I'm thinking of, and the only Word is love" - John Lennon
April 27th 2012, 10:07 AM #4
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