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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:26 pm 
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Here's an interesting document sent to me by the author, Dr. Kenneth Atchity, who is a former professor and current TV/film producer. He emailed me with the doc, asking me to post it on my website, so here it is. We had no previous communication, so whatever he's done here is entirely his own creation. The document gives the impression that I'm writing a book called Mythicism - a great idea that FTL and I have discussed but that is not in the works.

Atchity is promoting his own fiction book on the subject, The Messiah Matrix, and it sounds like he's got a good grasp of the subject matter, although I have not investigated the argument that Caesar Augustus was "largely responsible" for creating Christianity. Certainly, some of what was said about Augustus was used in the creation of the Christ character, but the Roman emperor (63 BCE-14 AD/CE) is obviously too early to have any other role in Christianity's creation than, perhaps, pushing for a religion that would unify the faiths of the Roman Empire, including merging Judaism with all the Pagan religions and mythologies.

Here is what the email I received says about the Augustus issue - the book that inspired this theme sounds interesting:

Quote:
Dr. Atchity was largely inspired by a book first published in 1899 titled The Worship of Augustus Caesar by Alexander Del Mar (1836–1926), a rigorous historian, an American political economist, a numismatist, an author, as well as the first director of the Bureau of Statistics at the U.S. Treasury Department from 1866–69. His non-fiction work contains a rich history of mythological gods and points a blatant finger at Augustus Caesar as being the preeminent 'Christian savior.' One particular aspect that Dr. Atchity found fascinating concerns the Pontifical College and their tampering with the calendar in the Middle Ages to artificially push back the date of Augustus’ apotheosis by 15 years. In other words, if this calendar change had not been instituted the date for Augustus’ apotheosis would have been 1 A.D.--the most widely accepted date of Jesus' birth. Today, the ‘accepted’ date of Augustus' apotheosis is 15 B.C.E. This is one of many historical elements that Del Mar presents that are imbedded in The Messiah Matrix.

Note that the bulk of the attributes in the lists from my book that Atchity includes here can be verified through ancient texts and artifacts - something I've been doing on this forum and in my blogs, articles and books since Christ Con was first published in 1999 (and before). I will be providing the documentation in depth in my revision of Christ Con, which hopefully will be out in 2013. Some of these attributes need to be tweaked for accuracy, such as: "His disciples purportedly bestowed upon him the title 'Jezeus,' or 'Jeseus,' meaning 'pure essence.'" In my revision, I have changed this saying to "Jai Shri Krishna," which is the closest I could find to a shout that resembles "Jesus Christ," discussing the subject in a footnote. A few other attributes may need to be removed altogether. Suffice it to say that the lists are accurate enough to make the point.

Also, the notes in brackets in the quoted text below are Atchity's. I don't subscribe to such dates for Zoroaster as 6000 BCE, for example. The ideas circulating in the name of this mythical Persian composite may have been in existence that far back, but the Persian language itself did not exist at that time, so there was no "historical" personage by that name at that time. Again, the rest of the dates are likewise not mine, and I don't concur with the bulk of them. Horus/Osiris seems about right, but Krishna and Buddha are too early, and Mithra is too late, and so on. And, again, these are not real people so these dates would not constitute their "birthdays" or any other such milestone. Putting these dates aside, it is sufficient to assert that these ideas are pre-Christian.

Having said all that, I certainly appreciate Dr. Atchity's effort and his close attention to my work.

For the record because some people continue to approach me as if it is a novel idea, I've been wanting to make a "Christ Conspiracy" film since I began doing this work in the early 1990s, long before my CC book was actually written and so called.

Quote:
Did the Biblical Jesus really live?

The question “Did the Biblical Jesus really live?” has been debated by scholars for centuries. While literalist Christian scholars prefer to seek evidence that supports their belief in a historical Jesus, impartial historians, including some Christian ones, have shown that there is in fact no evidence to support a historical Jesus.

The unbiased view is that the Biblical accounts of Jesus are based entirely upon a blending of enduring ancient myths that were repackaged for the time during the first centuries C.E. and continued to evolve through the Middle Ages. No one knows for sure why the early Church Fathers literalized the myths that sprung from the growing spiritual awakening that recognized a human’s ability to transcend animal nature and reach toward the divine: Was it ignorance? Lust for power?

Or maybe it was an attempt to simplify the complex mythological stories for the uneducated masses. We may never discover the reason.

D.M. Murdock’s wonderfully clear introduction to the subject of mythicism from her book Christ in Egypt and the lists that follow from her book The Christ Conspiracy are written under the pseudonym Acharya S. Her work supports the thesis, set out in my novel The Messiah Matrix as well, proposing that the story of Jesus Christ was not even remotely unique to Christianity. The same story was pre-existent for millennia in the divine biographies of ancient rulers as far back as the early Egyptian pharaohs who were worshipped as gods. The ancient god myths were adopted according to contemporary needs by many cultures including the Greeks and Romans.

The Messiah Matrix focuses on Augustus Caesar who was the first emperor of Rome and was largely responsible for creating the religion we call Christianity today. The association with Augustus was deliberately dropped by the early Church Fathers in favor of the literalized myth of Jesus Christ.

Although the foundations of Christianity evolved out of Rome’s myth-making machine the new religion rapidly spread throughout the Empire with full Imperial sanction, in order to provide a unifying faith for the many countries under Augustus Caesar’s control.

If you believe in a literal Jesus it will be challenging to even address the question that is the title of this article: “Did the Biblical Jesus really live?” Perhaps the most powerful way to answer it for oneself is to read the biographical elements of the mythical ‘gods’ worshiped by ancient cultures eons before the age of the Biblical Jesus. D.M Murdock’s article on "Mythicism" is a clear, accessible resource that provides powerful evidence concerning the true roots of the Jesus myth.

Dr. Kenneth John Atchity, former professor of classics, writer and producer; and author of The Messiah Matrix (http://www.messiahmatrix.com).

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"Mythicism" by Acharya S [D.M. Murdock]

Mythicism represents the perspective that many gods, goddesses and other heroes and legendary figures said to possess extraordinary and/or supernatural attributes are not “real people” but are in fact mythological characters. Along with this view comes the recognition that many of these figures personify or symbolize natural phenomena, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets, constellations, etc., constituting what is called “astrotheology.” As a major example of the mythicist position, various biblical characters such as Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon & Jesus Christ, among other figures, in reality represent mythological characters along the same lines as the Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other god men, who are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures.

[Note: D.M. Murdock’s point is emphasized by the following lists of elements from the divine biographies of several mythological characters. Notice the similarities with the Jesus story. KJA]

Horus/Osiris of Egypt from The Christ Conspiracy by Acharya S page 115-116 [circa 2900 B.C.E.]

* Horus was born of the virgin Isis-Meri on December 25th in a cave/manger with his birth being announced by a star in the East and attended by three wise men.
* His earthly father was named “Seb” (“Joseph”).
* He was of royal descent.
* At age 12, he was a child teacher in the Temple, and at 30, he was baptized, having disappeared for 18 years.
* Horus was baptized in the river Eridanus or Iarutana (Jordan) by “Anup the Baptizer” (“John the Baptist”), who was decapitated.
* He had 12 disciples, two of whom were his “witnesses” and were named “Anup” and “Aan” (the two “Johns”).
* He performed miracles, exorcised demons and raised El-Azarus (“El-Osiris”), from the dead.
* Horus walked on water.
* His personal epithet was “Iusa,” the “ever-becoming son” of “Ptah,” the “Father.” He was thus called “Holy Child.”
* He delivered a “Sermon on the Mount” and his followers recounted the “Sayings of Iusa.”
* Horus was transfigured on the Mount.
* He was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb, and resurrected.
* He was also the “Way, the Truth, the Light,” “Messiah,” “God’s Anointed Son,” “the “Son of Man,” the “Good Shepherd,” the “Lamb of God,” the “Word made flesh,” the “Word of Truth,” etc.
* He was “the Fisher” and was associated with the Fish (“Ichthys”), Lamb and Lion.
* He came to fulfill the Law.
* Horus was called “the KRST,” or “Anointed One.”
* Like Jesus, “Horus was supposed to reign one thousand years.”

“Furthermore, inscribed about 3,500 years ago on the walls of the Temple at Luxor were images of the Annunciation, Immaculate Conception, Birth and Adoration of Horus, with Thoth announcing to the Virgin Isis that she will conceive Horus; with Kneph the “Holy Ghost,” impregnating the virgin; and with the infant being attended by three kings, or magi, bearing gifts. In addition, in the catacombs at Rome are pictures of the baby Horus being held by the virgin mother Isis—the original “Madonna and Child.”

Attis of Phrygia from Christ Conspiracy by Acharya S page 107 [circa 1200 B.C.E.)

* Attis was born on December 25th of the Virgin Nana.
* He was considered the savior who was slain for the salvation of mankind.
* His body as bread was eaten by his worshippers
* His priests were “eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.”
* He was both the Divine Son and the Father.
* On “Black Friday,” he was crucified on a tree, from which his holy blood ran down to redeem the earth.
* He descended into the underworld.
* After three days, Attis was resurrected on March 25th (as tradition held of Jesus) as the “Most High God.”

Krishna of India from Christ Conspiracy by Acharya S page 116-117 [circa 3228 B.C.E.]

* Krishna was born of the Virgin Devaki (“Divine One”) on December 25th.
* His earthly father was a carpenter, who was off in the city paying tax while Krishna was born.
* His birth was signaled by a star in the east and attended by angels and shepherds, at which time he was presented with spices.
* The heavenly hosts danced and sang at his birth.
* He was persecuted by a tyrant who ordered the slaughter of thousands of infants.
* Krishna was anointed on the head with oil by a woman whom he healed.
* He is depicted as having his foot on the head of a serpent.
* He worked miracles and wonders, raising the dead and healing lepers, the deaf and the blind.
* Krishna used parables to teach the people about charity and love, and he “lived poor and he loved the poor.”
* He castigated the clergy, charging them with “ambition and hypocrisy . . . Tradition says he fell victim to their vengeance.”
* Krishna’s “beloved disciple” was Arjuna or Ar-jouan (Jouhn).
* He was transfigured in front of his disciples.
* He gave his disciples the ability to work miracles.
* His path was “strewn with branches.”
* In some traditions he died on a tree or was crucified between two thieves.
* Krishna was killed around the age of 30, and the sun darkened at his death.
* He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven “in the sight of all men.”
* He was depicted on a cross with nail-holes in his feet, as well as having a heart emblem on his clothing.
* Krishna is the “lion of the tribe of Saki.”
* He was called the “Shepherd of God” and considered the “Redeemer,” “Firstborn,” “Sin-Bearer,” “Liberator,” “Universal Word.”
* He was deemed the “Son of God” and “our Lord and Savior,” who came to earth to die for man’s salvation.
* He was the second person of the Trinity.
* His disciples purportedly bestowed upon him the title “Jezeus,” or “Jeseus,” meaning “pure essence.”
* Krishna is to return to judge the dead, riding on a white horse, and to do battle with the “Prince of Evil,” who will desolate the earth.

Zoroaster/Zarathustra from Christ Conspiracy by Acharya S page 122-123 [circa 6000 B.C.E.)

* Zoroaster was born of a virgin, and “immaculate conception by a ray of divine reason.”
* He was baptized in a river.
* In his youth he astounded wise men with his wisdom.
* He was tempted in the wilderness by the devil.
* He began his ministry at age 30.
* Zoroaster baptized with water, fire and “holy wind.”
* He cast out demons and restored the sight to a blind man.
* He taught about heaven and hell, and revealed mysteries, including resurrection, judgment, salvation and the apocalypse.
* He had a sacred cup or grail.
* He was slain.
* His religion had a eucharist.
* He was the “Word made flesh.”
* Zoroaster’s followers expect a “second coming” in the virgin-born Saoshyant or Savior, who is to come in 2341 CE and begin his ministry at age 30, ushering in a golden age.

Mithra of Persia from Christ Conspiracy by Acharya S page 118-119 [645 B.C.E.]

* Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25th in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds bearing gifts.
* He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
* He had 12 companions or disciples.
* Mithra’s followers were promised immortality.
* He performed miracles.
* As the “great bull of the Sun,” Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
* He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
* His resurrection was celebrated every year.
* He was called “the Good Shepherd” and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion.
* He was considered the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” and the “Logos,” “Redeemer,” “Savior” and “Messiah.”
* His sacred day was Sunday, the “Lord’s Day,” hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
* Mithra had his principal festival on what was later to become Easter.
* His religion had a eucharist or “Lord’s Supper,” at which Mithra said, “He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved.”
* “His annual sacrifice is the Passover of the Magi, a symbolical atonement of pledge of moral and physical regeneration.”

The Buddha from Christ Conspiracy by Acharya S page 109-110 [1366 B.C.E]

* Buddha was born on December 25th of the virgin Maya, and his birth was attended by a “Star of Announcement,” wise men and angels singing heavenly songs.
* At his birth, he was pronounced ruler of the world and presented with “costly jewels and precious substances.”
* His life was threatened by a king “who was advised to destroy the child, as he was liable to overthrow him.”
* Buddha was of royal lineage.
* He taught in the Temple at age 12.
* He crushed a serpent’s head (as was traditionally said of Jesus) and was tempted by Mara, the “Evil One,” when fasting.
* Buddha was baptized in water, with the “Spirit of God” or “Holy Ghost” present.
* He performed miracles and wonders, healed the sick, fed 500 men from a “small basket of cakes,” and walked on water.
* Buddha abolished idolatry, was a “sower of the word,” and preached “the establishment of a kingdom of righteousness.”
* His followers were obliged to take vows of poverty and to renounce the world.
* He was transfigured on a mount, when it was said that his face “shone as the brightness of the sun and moon.”
* In some traditions, died on a cross.
* He was resurrected, as his coverings were unrolled from his body and his tomb was opened by supernatural powers.
* Buddha ascended bodily to Nirvana or “heaven.”
* He was called “Lord,” “Master,” the “Light of the World,” “God of Gods,” “Father of the World,” “Almighty and All-knowing Ruler,” “Redeemer of All,” “Holy One,” the “Author of Happiness,” “Possessor of All,” the “Omnipotent,” the “Supreme Being,” the “Eternal One.”
* He was considered the “Sin Bearer,” “Good Shepherd,” the “Carpenter,” the “Infinite and Everlasting,” and the “Alpha and Omega.”
* He came to fulfill, not to destroy, the law.
* Buddha is to return “in the latter days” to restore order and to judge the dead.

Conclusion by Dr. Kenneth John Atchity

Having read and assimilated the above biographical elements of several mythical characters (even the Buddha is held by most scholars to be mythical) it will be self-evident that these many story elements reach back thousands of years to the very dawn of civilization. The story of Jesus Christ, far from being unique, is a recurring theme, based on ancient myths, though no one knows where the myths originated. The thesis contained in The Messiah Matrix is an important one for it tells why, I believe, the myth of Jesus Christ was allowed to spread at a time when Augustus was worshipped as The Son of God and anyone challenging his status would have been summarily put to death. In conclusion, no one says it better than D. M. Murdock in the closing words from her book Who was Jesus? concerning the challenge we face:

“It is paramount that…we consider the possibility that, rather than being the omnipotent Son of God, Jesus Christ is a manmade, literary character devised for a variety of purposes that no longer serve the greater good of humanity.”

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:40 pm 
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It's very naive to think that academia throughout New Testament studies will ever accept mythicism and astrotheology as legitimate areas of study related to religious studies since they've fought against its inclusion from the start, so, from where I stand, we have to create our own without them and we'll be better off for it in the end anyway.

Below are a few quotes mentioning the creation of new Department of Astrotheological Studies and I'd like to hear thoughts on the best way to accomplish this goal as soon as possible (before we all die and the entire subject gets forgotten again):

Quote:
"We need a new Department of Astrotheological Studies, which would factor in astronomy, mythology, archaeoastronomy and more. Archaeoastronomy was only recently added as a new department in the mid 90's. Now it's time for astrotheology or at least include it in with archaeoastronomy. It's what's missing from the discussion and very few are aware of what astrotheology even is."

viewtopic.php?p=23490#p23490

Quote:
"Where I'd like to see us be in 10 years ... I'd like to see academia finally create a sorely needed Department of Astrotheological Studies, which would factor in astronomy, mythology and archaeoastronomy. Archaeoastronomy was only recently added as a new department in the mid 90's. Now it's time for astrotheology or at least include it in with archaeoastronomy.

We have a mountain of evidence demonstrating that the origins of religious concepts stem from natural phenomena i.e. nature worship. It has evolved over time due to similarities and differences in environment, culture and era. It's just basic common sense and offers an Occam's razor explanation for the origins and evolution of religion throughout all history.

A problem few are aware is that so many of our famous top universities actually began as religious institutions. Religion has never let go of it's strangle-hold on religious studies throughout academia. It has been a losing battle to fight against the religious special interest funding which has had serious influence on what types of studies take place and what departments are created. "

viewtopic.php?p=23490#p23490

Quote:
"Archaeoastronomy only became a legit department at universities in the mid-90's. That is awesome because astrotheology and mythicism are related so, it won't be much longer before we have a Department of Astrotheological Studies or that mythicism and astrotheology become apart of the department of Archaeoastronomy. This is how far we've come over the last century or so. We are winning because the credible evidence is on our side but, we're mostly still having to deal with blatant discrimination, religious bigotry and fundamentalism. Understand?"

viewtopic.php?p=25117#p25117

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 5:15 pm 
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Freethinkaluva22 wrote:
It's very naive to think that academia throughout New Testament studies will ever accept mythicism and astrotheology as legitimate areas of study related to religious studies since they've fought against its inclusion from the start, so, from where I stand, we have to create our own without them and we'll be better off for it in the end anyway.

Below are a few quotes mentioning the creation of new Department of Astrotheological Studies and I'd like to hear thoughts on the best way to accomplish this goal as soon as possible (before we all die and the entire subject gets forgotten again)


A good history of the cultural politics of Christ Mythicism in Germany is at http://www.radikalkritik.de/Arthur%20Drews_Wiki.PDF specifically discussing the prominent role of Arthur Drews. This short essay by Drews on astral themes in Psalm 22 is well worth reading too.

The debate over the existence of Jesus Christ was far more prominent in Germany through the work of Arthur Drews than is generally recognised. As one with quite an interest in German philosophy and history, it astounds me how this big topic is ignored, as I simply had not heard of it until quite recently, despite reading fairly widely on German history of ideas.

Earl Doherty recently commented at Vridar to the effect that 'Hegelian' is a word to make the eyes glaze. And yet Hegel's speculative theme of the logic of cultural evolution is central to understanding the place of Christ within culture, as shown clearly in this material. This complex question brings me to two areas discussed in the paper on Drews, logical dialectic and social movement.

Drews apparently held that orthodoxy can be viewed as a "thesis" and mythicism as its "antithesis". This way of thinking was the main structure of German idealism from Hegel's main triadic dialectic theory that an idea naturally produces its opposite, and then the polarity leads to an integrating synthesis.

Looking at the relation between mythicism and orthodoxy, I think it makes more sense if we see orthodox faith as thesis and scientific atheism and reason as the antithesis. Mythicism then acquires a positive role as synthesis of faith and reason, combining the logical empirical method of science with an openness to debate on the historical and ideal content of faith.

Regarding the potential for mythicism to produce a social movement, I think that is a precondition for its discussion in academia which is now thoroughly sclerotic and corrupt. The big scale of public interest in the Christ Myth Theory before the First World War, shown by Drews' effective promotion, is likely to return. The 1910 debate in Berlin was a high point. Wide academic and media discussion was only stifled by the carnage of battle. The twentieth century subordinated debate about reason in religion beneath more urgent political questions. Yet the reality of Jesus is an enduring problem for social identity. Recent internet discussions are likely to spill over into more public forums.

Evemerism is another form of Christian fundamentalism. The “theological necessity” for the Historical Jesus has exactly the same social and ideological function for the church today as the “theological necessity” for geocentrism had for the medieval church and the “theological necessity” for young earth creationism had for opponents of evolution.

Medieval theology held that Christians go to heaven when they die, and that heaven is a place above the earth. Galileo shattered this framework, destroying the first pillar of supernaturalism.

Reformed theology held that Christ was the ‘Second Adam’, in Paul’s terms redeeming the sin that Adam had brought into the world at the fall from grace. No Adam, no Christ. Darwin shattered this paradigm, showing that Adam was not the historical first man, destroying the second pillar of supernaturalism.

Modern theology holds that Christ was a historical individual, described in the Gospels, using this thread to cling to the old idea of an interventionist God as supernatural entity. Mythicist scholars are now showing that this myth is in conflict with evidence, and has no positive evidence to support it, shattering the third pillar of supernaturalism.

Theology starting from ‘necessary truth’ that lacks evidence is nothing but political fantasy. Its emotional sense of necessity is no more true for the Gospel story than for geocentrism or creationism. The paradox of Christianity is its espousal of integrity through texts such as John 8:32 "the truth shall set you free", combined hypocritically with a fervent suppression of free inquiry into truth. Something has to give.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:55 pm 
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Evemerism
The basic problem for evemerism, the theory that the myth of Christ was constructed from historical examples, is that it gets the direction of causality wrong. The myth of Jesus Christ started from the idea of the presence of God in the world, the idea of an eternal being as mediator between time and eternity. The earlier texts in the New Testament, the Epistles of Paul and the Letter to the Hebrews, focus purely on this mythic identity of the Christ.

The causality of enfleshment through the Gospels arose as cultural response to the obscurity of the myth. The purely spiritual Christ of the Epistles was hard for most people to understand or relate to. The natural questions arose of who this crucified saviour was, and when and where he lived. The gospel stories put flesh on the spiritual narrative.

Christianity has to be understood as starting from a spiritual vision and only gradually locating this vision in history. Early intimations of this spiritual vision are seen in Philo’s discussion of Zechariah’s imagined King Joshua, whom Philo identified as the archetype of the eternal Logos, or cosmic reason. As the proto-Christians discussed this Logos theology, they must have found it easier to explain if they wrapped it in parables. Audiences would have responded positively to these parables, leading to their steady expansion.

Finally, with the Gospel of Mark, we find the full blown imaginative fantasy of Jesus Christ located in a specific time and place, still represented as miraculous, but with the miracles carefully written to sit at the limits of rational plausibility for the intended mass audience. The original aim was to draw newcomers into a spiritual movement, but this lofty intent was soon overwhelmed when the stories proved so popular as a basis for a universal church.

The starting point was not ‘we have heard of a messianic man’, but rather ‘we can imagine a messianic man’. This imagined saviour only gradually ‘came down to earth’ in the historical evolution of the narrative, because a located individual was so much easier to explain as a framework for belief. Beginning from a historical Jesus contradicts the obvious evolution from idea to reality in the New Testament record, with the complete absence of such a figure in the earliest texts.

Hebrews began with the vision of Jesus Christ as 'the same yesterday today and forever'. This vision was linked to the activity of God in bringing new life. In no way does Hebrews locate it physically, and it must be said, this eternal Christ bears little resemblance to a Jesus of Nazareth who was born and died. The inadequacy of the high eternal concept for a mass movement prompted the further development of the myth into the Gospel story.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:09 pm 
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Jesus Mythicism in Academia

A very interesting person has done a debate with Dr. Chris Forbes, who we know was the recipient of rebuttal by yours truly as well.

Quote:
Raphael Lataster & Alaric Goldkuhl vs. Christopher Forbes & Merrilyn Mansfield - Does the Bible Present the Real Jesus?

by Raphael Lataster

An interesting debate (9th August 2012) with historian Dr Chris Forbes (Macquarie University) and religious scholar Merrilyn Mansfield (Sydney University) arguing for the affirmative, with religious scholar Raphael Lataster (Sydney University) and passionate anti-theist Alaric Goldkuhl (Sydney Atheists) arguing for the negative.

Click here for mp3 audio

To clarify (and as confirmed by the host), the job of the affirmative side was to prove the existence of the Biblical Jesus aka the Christ of Faith. The miracle-working Jesus, who allegedly was raised from the dead, by the Christian god.

My honest thoughts: Alaric and I presented numerous reasons to doubt the sources used to establish Jesus, which not only raise doubt as to the Biblical Jesus being true, but also could raise doubt as to the existence of the so-called 'Historical Jesus' (a human Jesus who didn't perform miracles - the topic of my Master's thesis). I then demonstrated that history can't confirm miracles, so in order to prove the Biblical Jesus, and make supernatural events like Jesus' resurrection possible and even probable, the believer would need to prove God's existence.

Dr Forbes and Ms Mansfield presented an underwhelming case. They only tried to establish that there may have been a historical Jesus, making absolutely no attempt to prove the supernatural elements of the Jesus story, and thus seem to have totally ignored the topic of the debate, with even Christians congratulating me afterwards on what appeared to be a clear victory. The debate also was brought into irrelevant territory, which I pointed out numerous times (namely issues related to the historicity of Jesus, rather than of the Biblical Jesus). Alaric and I were bemused that the opposition did half of our job for us, demonstrating and admitting the spurious nature of the sources.

Dr Forbes also side-stepped my challenge to prove the existence of his god (the only way to make the resurrection possible), and acknowledged that he can't prove God's existence. He also surprisingly admitted that miracles can't be proven either, making me wonder why he bothered to turn up, knowing that Christians in the audience wanted those niggling questions in the back of their heads addressed. Forbes was more honest than William Lane Craig in that regard, so I respect that acknowledgment, but then it really was pointless in his participating in the debate. Dr Forbes made numerous errors, such as assuming that we had access to Paul's "500 eyewitnesses", and contradicting Paul's own claims as to his supernatural sources.

Merrilyn had very little to say apart from the standard case for a historical Jesus, with her only real allusion to the supernatural being her bizarre conclusion that the Biblical books being imperfect points to God compiling them. Quite an unorthodox Christian view, and somewhat an example of pseudoscience - it is not falsifiable. In such an example, the God explanation always wins. If the Bible is perfect, it's because God wrote it. If the Bible is riddled with contradictions, historical errors, internal inconsistencies and myths, you know it, God wrote it. But of course he didn't write the error-filled holy texts of other religions... And by appealing to a god that neither she or Dr. Forbes could prove exists, she was begging the question (a premise is included which is at least as questionable as the conclusion), rendering her case logically invalid.

Contrasting the affirmative side's underwhelming case, I had plenty more to say. I sometimes sounded brief and rushed, due to my frustration at the (previously unannounced) time limit and lack of rebuttal opportunities. I had a lot more to say and rebut, but I am writing a few books on the historical and a priori claims of Christian apologists anyway, so watch this space. My speech revolved around the numerous problems with the sources, and the implausibility of miraculous claims. Alaric also made a great point about the symbolism of the Bible (which Forbes mentioned) possibly indicating fabrication.

Moderated discussion time: Rather than having rebuttals, we had a moderated discussion, involving the host. I criticized the oppositions heavy reliance on sources that don't exist and highlighted that they didn't make any attempt to prove the existence of the Biblical Jesus. I heavily criticized the criteria of authenticity, which so many Biblical scholars and other academics are now doing too. We all point to the uncertainty of the sources, which I note aids the skeptic, not the believer. Forbes brought up the "James if the Lord's brother issue"; Alaric and I provide numerous reasons why James is not necessarily Jesus' literal brother. Dr Forbes admits scholars can't prove Jesus' miracles, pretty much conceding defeat. Without the miracles, we are only discussing the 'Historical Jesus', who was not the subject of this debate.

Audience questions: I was asked a series of bizarre questions about logic methodology; and informed later that the questioner attends my university and failed his introductory logic class. Irrelevant, but funny as hell :) I Constantly had to remind everyone that it is the Biblical Jesus that we should be discussing, as Forbes took on Alaric and audience members over Jesus' historicity - an irrelevant issue.

Feedback from the audience revolved around my very strong and no-nonsense case against the Biblical Jesus and supernatural claims in general, the affirmative side's underwhelming (and irrelevant) case, Dr. Forbes' seemingly only having something useful to say when addressing Alaric's strongly mythicist views (irrelevant to this debate), and the fact that the affirmative side did not actually argue for the Biblical Jesus. I also personally appreciated Alaric's involvement, him being expected by many to contribute little to the debate as the only amateur (an attitude I find disgraceful); especially his humour, and his being "the atheist, and the only one to bring a Bible!"

Despite the challenges in getting participants for the negative side, it was an overwhelming victory for the skeptics.

Raphael Lataster is currently finishing his master's thesis at the University of Sydney. His thesis is on Jesus mythicism, and he will be going for his PhD in a year or so. Here's his description of his thesis:

Quote:
After the research, which looked at the methods of scholars, the sources, the potential for Paul's celestial Christ, the pagan parallels, Bayesian analysis, etc., the answer was an overwhelming "yes". In an appendix I use Bayes' Theorem to argue that Jesus' historicity is unlikely, less than 50%, while throughout the thesis, I demonstrate that the chance of the 'Biblical Jesus' existing (who "walked on water and shit", as Carrier says) is virtually 0%. Biblical scholars need to keep their personal faith at home and/or update their methods. It will hopefully be published within a few months! The fact we got to this stage shows that Jesus mythicism/agnosticism is not necessarily so fringe/wacky after all.

Note that he has incorporated numerous elements of the mythicist case, not just the specializations and pet theories. He has also then applied the approved methodology in order to have a scientifically definable outcome. So now everyone should be happy.

As Raphael also says, his presence puts rest to the lie of there being no interest in JM within academia. As we know well, this subject has been debated for centuries, within the hallowed halls, but he's a pioneer of the modern era, with all our accumulated knowledge at his fingertips.

So, this should be interesting to watch, as I'm sure that there will be many others to follow.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:37 pm 
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I like these guys, Raphael Lataster and Alaric Goldkuhl. I'm not surprised that they won the debate with Dr. Forbes on the topic of "Does the Bible Present the Real Jesus?." I look forward to these guys debating against the so-called 'Historical Jesus.' I'd love to see them debate for the mythical Jesus and case for mythicism and astrotheology. I'd love to have their future debates on video so they can be uploaded to Youtube for all to see next time.

What I really find impressive is this:

Acharya wrote:
Raphael Lataster is currently finishing his master's thesis at the University of Sydney. His thesis is on Jesus mythicism, and he will be going for his PhD in a year or so. Here's his description of his thesis:

Quote:
After the research, which looked at the methods of scholars, the sources, the potential for Paul's celestial Christ, the pagan parallels, Bayesian analysis, etc., the answer was an overwhelming "yes". In an appendix I use Bayes' Theorem to argue that Jesus' historicity is unlikely, less than 50%, while throughout the thesis, I demonstrate that the chance of the 'Biblical Jesus' existing (who "walked on water and shit", as Carrier says) is virtually 0%. Biblical scholars need to keep their personal faith at home and/or update their methods. It will hopefully be published within a few months! The fact we got to this stage shows that Jesus mythicism/agnosticism is not necessarily so fringe/wacky after all.

Note that he has incorporated numerous elements of the mythicist case, not just the specializations and pet theories. He has also then applied the approved methodology in order to have a scientifically definable outcome. So now everyone should be happy.

As Raphael also says, his presence puts rest to the lie of there being no interest in JM within academia. As we know well, this subject has been debated for centuries, within the hallowed halls, but he's a pioneer of the modern era, with all our accumulated knowledge at his fingertips.

So, this should be interesting to watch, as I'm sure that there will be many others to follow.

Most impressive, Raphael Lataster, has the potential to be another standard-bearer for the case for mythicism and astrotheology similar to Acharya S. I absolutely love the fact that he's reading her work and incorporating it into his own and winning debates up against 30 year scholars like Dr. Forbes. It would be profound if he were able to get a Department of Astrotheological and Mythicism Studies created. We want to ensure that the information related to astrotheology and mythicism does not get buried again by academia ever again. So, it's great to see the baton being passed onto the next generation. People around the world have a right and responsibility to have access to these primary sources and information as it's part of our ancient history and origins of religious concepts.

I'd love to see Raphael Lataster become a member here in case we can be of any assistance while he's working on his Ph.D thesis as well as keep us posted on whatever else he's got going on such as debates or any other news that may be of interest to us here. Perhaps he would publish his Ph.D thesis and his first book at Stellar House Publishing (SHP)?

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:25 pm 
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In response to the posts at the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2 regarding the list of mythicists here's where Acharya is at now:

Quote:
These people (150+) have either opined that Jesus Christ is either entirely or largely mythical, or raised the question of whether or not Jesus existed:

Prosper Alfaric
John Allegro
Joseph Atwill
M.F.A. Aulard
Dan Barker
Bruno Bauer
Albert Bayet
August Bebel[1]
Yosef ben-Jochannan
Hayyim ben Yehoshua
Berlioz
Raymond W. Bernard
Bezdomny[2]
J.C. Blumenfeld
John W. Boehne (?)
G.J.P.J. Bolland
Bossi
Georg Morris Cohen Brandes [sp]
George Brandes
S.G.F. Brandon
Richard Carlile
Francesco Carotta
Edward Carpenter
Richard Carrier
Cliff Carrington
Francesco Carrota
Luigi Cascioli
Walter Cassells (?)
Hal Childs
Albert Churchward
Miguel Conner
Paul-Louis Couchoud
Gary Courtney
Herbert Cutner
Lawrence Dalton
Shirley Strutton Dalton
Herman Detering
Earl Doherty
Darrell Doughty
Arthur Drews
Arthur Drews
Eduoard Dujardin
Alan Dundes
Charles François Dupuis
Robert Eisenman
Alvar Ellegard
Ralph Waldo Emerson[3]
Frederick Engels
Elizabeth E. Evans
Guy Fau
Kenneth Feder
Anatole France[4]
James G. Frazer[5]
Timothy Freke
Christian Paul Fuhrmann
Peter Gandy
Marshall J. Gauvin
Cita Rom Goel
Gunkel
Tom Harpur
William Harwood
Hegel[6]
James A. Herne[7]
B.B. Hill
Michael Hoffman
Hilton Hotema
Harry Houdini (?)
L. Ron Hubbard[8]
Ken Humphreys
Robert Ingersoll[9]
Malik H. Jabbar
John G. Jackson
Peter Jensen
Edwin Johnson
Albert Kalthoff[10]
Brett Keane
John A. Keel[11]
Alvin Boyd Kuhn
Parish B. Ladd[12]
Charles Leadbeater[13]
Harold Leidner
Lenin[14]
Christopher Lindtner
Abraham Dirk Loman
Jack London[15]
Samuel Lublinski
Burton Mack
Mangasar Mugurditch Mangasarian
Jeffrey Mark
Michael Martin
Gerald Massey
Karl Marx[16]
Joseph McCabe[17]
C. Dennis McKinsey
George R.S. Mead
Logan Mitchell
Nikolai Morozov[18]
Margaret Morris
Emilio Mossi/Milesbo
D.M. Murdock/Acharya S
Derek Murphy
Jon G. Murray
Samuel A. Naber
Napoleon
Andrzej Niemojewski
Nietszche[19]
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Michel Onfray
Ahmed Osman
Thomas Paine[20]
Allard Pierson
Robert M. Price
Jay Raskin
Salomon Reinach
Eugen Relgis
John E. Remsburg
Max Rieser
John M. Robertson
J.M. Roberts
Arthur M. Rothstein
Bertrand Russell
L. Gordon Rylands (?)
Rene Salm
Jan Sammer
Albert Schweitzer[21]
E.H. Sears[22]
Marcel Simon
William Benjamin Smith
Rabbi William Sparger[23]
Livio C. Stecchini
Victor Stenger
David F. Strauss[24] = 130
Swedenborg
Robert Taylor
Gerald Tholen (?)
Thomas L. Thompson
Leo Tolstoi[25]
Michael Turton
Thankur Kahanchandra Varma[26]
van den Bergh
van Eysinga
W.C. Van Manen
S.E. (S.G.?) Verus
Virolleaud
Swami Vivekananda[27]
Constantin-François Volney
Kurt Vonnegut[28]
Barbara G. Walker
Lemuel K. Washburn
George A. Wells[29]
E.S. Wheeler
Joseph Wheless
Thomas Whittaker
Zane Winter
Michael O. Wise
Heinrich Zimmern
Frank Zindler

------------

Total = 154

------------

Footnotes:

[1] Ming, 334.
[2] Russian Literature Triquarterly, no. 15, p. 259.
[3] Frothingham, O.B., 22.
[4] France, 133.
[5] Frazer was an evemerist but eventually supported the work of Couchoud, leading Cutner to speculate that he may have become a mythicist in his later years.
[6] Müller, G.E., 406.
[7] Perry, J. (1978), 98.
[8] Stanit, 93.
[9] Earlier in life, Ingersoll had written that Christ was one of his heroes, but his daughter related that on the day of his death, he was "working on a new lecture on Jesus Christ to be delivered the next winter and in which he intended saying that Christ was a myth." (Larson, 275.)
[10] Princeton Theological Review (398): "...Kalthoff's contention [was] that no such person as Jesus ever existed."
[11] Keel, 5.
[12] Ladd, 375ff.
[13] "Bishop Leadbeater who was a very devout Buddhist, when he was in Ceylon, from 1886 to 1890, denied the existence of Jesus in his public addresses."
[14] Badia, 2. Based on comments in his book On Culture and Cultural Revolution (189), Lenin apparently read Arthur Drews.
[15] London did not declare himself a mythicist. However, he did state, "I don't know whether Jesus Christ was a myth nor not," before declaring him to be one of his "two heroes." (London, 219.)
[16] Willkins, 208; Komoszewski, 324.
[17] McCabe maintained the evemerist position.
[18] Weeks, 108.
[19] Sarolea, 185.
[20] Paine is traditionally considered an evemerist; however, Sukumar Haldar (65) makes an interesting contention that, "Thomas Paine at first believed in the existence of Jesus, but when he was much persecuted, he became so angry as to declare that Jesus did not exist."
[21] Schweitzer evidently did not deem himself a mythicist, per se, as he believed the Jesus-myth theory was a "hopeless undertaking"; however, he did raise up the mythicist scholarship.
[22] Sears, 8.
[23] In 1891, The Brooklyn Eagle published an article by Sparger "on Jesus Christ as a myth." (The Publisher's Weekly, XXXIX, 376.)
[24] Several writers have stated that David Strauss claimed Jesus was a myth. See, e.g., Waardenburg (25): "A scholar like David F. Strauss (1808-1874) had concluded that the whole life of Jesus was a myth: that, as a historical person, he never existed." Although he doubted the historicity of the gospel story and chalked up much of the tale as being mythical, because of his religious training Strauss may have been an evemerist in the end, finding a "historical" Jesus somewhere under all the mythological layers.
[25] Green (17): "Tolstoy hoped to have it demonstrated that Jesus was a myth…" Others dispute that Tolstoy was a mythicist. Hastings (XII, 371) says of Tolstoy: "After reading a German work [Drews] on the Gospels he inclined to agree with the author that Christ never existed. In the end, while admitting His existence, he denied indignantly His divinity."
[26] Webster, 112.
[27] Stephen, A., 186.
[28] In an interview, Vonnegut remarked, "[There were] almost no records of Christ; I guess the one record was Josephus, that's all, and every chance Christ never existed." (Allen, W.R., 259.)
[29] Wells's is widely considered the most influential mythicist of the past several decades. Of late, however, it is claimed he has "recanted" his position because he has somehow found the "real Jesus" in a handful of sayings attributed by Burton Mack to Jesus as a "Cynic sage."

We could add US Constitution Founding Father Thomas Jefferson for good measure but, since he was a politician he didn't publicly declare he was a mythicist even though privately he was:

Article: Were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson Jesus Mythicists?

Blog: Thomas Jefferson was a freethinker, not a devout Christian

---

Rene Salm should probably be removed since he considers himself a euhemerist/evemerist instead of a mythicist: Rene Salm is not a mythicist

---

Astrotheology / Case for Mythicism 101 Course: A Mythicist Timeline of books

Acharya has not yet verified some on the book list in the link above. Many were already included in Acharya's list so, I've plucked out those not included that could potentially be added to Acharya's list:

1999 Gerd Lüdemann

2001 Robert M. Fowler

1989 Randel Helms

1985 Robert Funk

1777 Kurt Rudolph

1971 J. M. Robinson and H. Koester

1971 Rudolf Bultmann

1958 Georges Las Vergnas

1953 C. H. Dodd

1946 Archibald Robertson and A. D. Howell Smith

1933 Charles Guignebert

1927 Joseph Turmel

1926 Maurice Goguel

1910 Arthur Heulhard

1900 Adolf von Harnack

1888 Rudolf Steck

1871 Sytze Hoekstra (Semi-myth) - For him, the synoptics are symbolic poetry

1863 Ernest Renan

1856 Chwolsohn Daniil Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus (rpt. Elibron 2005). A four volume magnum opus which extends to almost 2,000 pages. (The last two volumes are on GoogleBooks). Chwolsohn explores heterodox gnosticism and equates a proto-gnostic religion with the Mandeans, whose adherents survived in the irrepressibly non-conformist city of Harran in northern Mesopotamia.

1845 Ferdinand C. Baur

1841 Ludwig Feuerbach

1761 Baron d’Holbach

1663 Baruch Spinoza

---------------

total = 26 additions for a grand total potential of 180.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:08 pm 
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I had stumbled across this Christ Myth Theory Wiki page and discussed it here, but then, I ran across this quote from Dr. Bart Ehrman I had apparently forgotten about or never read it before:

Quote:
"Few of these mythicists are actually scholars trained in ancient history, religion, biblical studies or any cognate field, let alone in the ancient languages generally thought to matter for those who want to say something with any degree of authority about a Jewish teacher who (allegedly) lived in first-century Palestine. There are a couple of exceptions: of the hundreds -- thousands? -- of mythicists, two (to my knowledge) actually have Ph.D. credentials in relevant fields of study. But even taking these into account, there is not a single mythicist who teaches New Testament or Early Christianity or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world. And it is no wonder why. These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology."

- Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist, Huffington Post, March 20, 2012
* Bold emphasis mine

I searched the forum to realize it had already been addressed starting here: http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums ... 221#p25221

Acharya addresses it here: The "No Serious Mythicist Scholar" Fallacy

In a CNN Blog:

Quote:
"Most Jesus deniers are Internet kooks"
- Bart Ehrman

The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

Then there's this blog:

Quote:
"Why should I believe you rather than all the experts?"

The Jesus myth theory

^ Since when is mindlessly following authority the mark of a superior intellect and morality? Those "experts" are demonstrably wrong - worse than wrong! There's a long history of those being fired for not accepting the traditional belief that Jesus existed - if you question that then, you're gone:

Quote:

This thread spells out what's really going on here Religion and the Ph.D.: A Brief History - it comes down to INSTITUTIONALIZED BIGOTRY! That's how people like Bart Ehrman can claim there are no mythicists in reputable teaching positions - because they are not allowed in the first place. It's also why mythicism is not being taught and why New Testament students are not required to study the case for mythicism in order to receive a Ph.D. - it's totally omitted. There is a big difference between education and indoctrination. The truth is, any scholar who claims with certainty that Jesus existed has lost all credibility due to the fact there is no credible evidence to substantiate such claims.

So here we go again, go against church doctrine and dogma and you can still lose your job even in 2013. I think it's time for a serious investigation into religious special interest groups and lobbyist influence on academia and government.

Quote:
"...As for this tiresome business about there being "no scholar" or "no serious scholar" who advocates the Christ Myth theory: Isn't it obvious that scholarly communities are defined by certain axioms in which grad students are trained, and that they will lose standing in those communities if they depart from those axioms? The existence of an historical Jesus is currently one of those. That should surprise no one, especially with the rightward lurch of the Society for Biblical Literature in recent years. It simply does not matter how many scholars hold a certain opinion.... "

- Dr. Robert Price, Biblical Scholar with two Ph.D's


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- Upton Sinclair

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:55 pm 
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Ehrman's flat-earth style of argument reminds me of the scientific debate about the theory of relativity when it was first introduced.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_ ... t_Einstein says the book A Hundred authors against Einstein, published in 1931, contains a range of criticisms based on various misunderstandings of relativity. Scientists described the 100 Authors as showing an "accumulation of naive errors", "unintentionally funny" and "a backward step to the 16th and 17th century". Einstein is reported to have said "If I were wrong, then one would have been enough."

Christ Mythicism is not yet near the clarity shown by Einstein in the theory of relativity, but the example of the ignorant criticism made about the new ideas of relativity is relevant to mythicism. Critics of mythicism such as Ehrman do not engage with the evidence, but rather use all sorts of deflection and special pleading, clear signs that the historicist paradigm is failing. The deeply rooted cultural currents of religion, and the interdisciplinary nature of the material, mean that change towards an acceptance of mythicism as a legitimate or compelling view may not be as definitive or fast as the scientific shift from classical mechanics to relativity. Nonetheless, Einstein's response to his 100 critics, his request that they should engage directly with logical argument rather than rely on force of numbers, indicates how vacuous are Ehrman's resorts to arguments from insult and authority.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:59 pm 
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You could also include the prominent physicist and philosopher Victor Stenger in the list. From his book The New Atheism:

Quote:
There is not a single piece of independent historical evidence for the existence of Jesus or the veracity of the events described in the New Testament. Even the much-touted statement by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus is now accepted by almost all scholars as a forgery. The paragraph in Antiquities that mentions Christ, his "wonderful works," death on the cross, and appearance three days later does not appear in the earliest copies of that work and not until the fourth century.
A number of scholars have made the case for the nonhistoricity of Jesus, and their conclusions are convincing. As I keep saying, absence of evidence is evidence of absence when the evidence should be there and is not. In the case of Jesus, there were several historians living in or near Judea at the time who reported on all kinds of events there, but they never mention Christ.

-The New Atheism, pg. 58

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:22 am 
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Done! Thanks.

S.T.F. wrote:
You could also include the prominent physicist and philosopher Victor Stenger in the list. From his book The New Atheism:

Quote:
There is not a single piece of independent historical evidence for the existence of Jesus or the veracity of the events described in the New Testament. Even the much-touted statement by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus is now accepted by almost all scholars as a forgery. The paragraph in Antiquities that mentions Christ, his "wonderful works," death on the cross, and appearance three days later does not appear in the earliest copies of that work and not until the fourth century.
A number of scholars have made the case for the nonhistoricity of Jesus, and their conclusions are convincing. As I keep saying, absence of evidence is evidence of absence when the evidence should be there and is not. In the case of Jesus, there were several historians living in or near Judea at the time who reported on all kinds of events there, but they never mention Christ.

-The New Atheism, pg. 58

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:46 pm 
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Quote:
Pluck Of The Irish: Government Plans Move Away From Church Control Of Schools

"Some members of the Catholic hierarchy have ranted that religious freedom is under attack in the United States, but now one of Europe’s most devoutly Catholic countries is looking for inspiration from America’s tradition of church-state separation.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Ireland’s education minister, Ruairi Quinn wants to implement a gradual shift away from Catholic Church dominance over nearly all public schools.

Quote:
This shift away from church control of Ireland’s public schools has been in the works for some time.

Quote:
But regardless of the motivation, Quinn is really onto something: public schools should be open and welcoming to all, something that’s impossible when a single religious group controls the system.

Quote:
There is no evidence that a religion-run system provides better education than the public schools, but some lawmakers don’t care – they want to support their favorite faiths using your money whether you like it or not.

This news confirms what we've already known for a long time in many western countries that schools are not free to tell to teach the truth about religion and here we have a Catholic education minister from Ireland publicly admitting it. Perhaps somebody will contact them and mention this thread and request the creation of the first Department of Astrotheological and Mythicist Studies?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:12 pm 
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Quote:
Responses to Critiques of the Mythicist Case by Earl Doherty

Part One:
Shirley J. Case: The Historicity of Jesus
Major topics: Attestation of Gospels
Maurice Goguel: Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History?
Major topics: The Mythicist Case (Couchoud); Josephus rejected; Pliny; Tacitus; Anti-Christian polemic; Docetism; Paul and early Christian unity; Son of David born of woman; 1 Cor. 15; Gal. 4:4; Descending god Myth/Ascension of Isaiah/Philippians hymn; Paul and Hellenistic salvation; Lack of history in epistles; the Gospels and the beginning of Christianity

Part Two:
R. T. France: The Evidence for Jesus
Major topics: Non-Christian evidence: Josephus, Tacitus, etc.; New Testament epistles; Paul; "Words of the Lord"; The Gospels; Reliability of evangelists as historians
Graham N. Stanton: The Gospels and Jesus
Major topics: The argument from silence; J. P. Holding
Morton Smith: “The Historical Jesus” in Jesus in History and Myth
Major topics: The argument from silence
Ian Wilson: Jesus: The Evidence
Major topics: Antiquities 20

Part Three:
Robert Van Voorst: Jesus Outside the Gospels
Major topics: 7 arguments against mythicism; Thallus & Phlegon; Pliny; Suetonius; Tacitus; Mara bar-Serapion; Talmud; Josephus; Special M & L; Signs Source; Q

Part Four:
Alleged Scholarly Refutations of Jesus Mythicism
(with comments on "A History of Scholarly Refutations of the Jesus Myth" by Christopher Price)

* Earl's entire 3-part response *IS* his response to Christopher Price in part 4 from what I gather.

The Historical Unreliability of Jesus: A Review of Robert VanVoorst’s Jesus Outside The New Testament

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:53 am 
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A re-post from here.

Quote:
Is There a Christian Agenda Behind Religious Studies Departments?

Here is another great article by Rafael Lataster, discussed above as a Jesus mythicist working towards his Master's thesis at the University of Sydney - now completed!

Quote:
Raphael wrote his Master’s thesis on Jesus mythicism, concluding that historical and Bayesian reasoning justifies a sceptical attitude towards the ‘historical Jesus’.

I am informed that Rafael has an "article soon to be published by Think (Cambridge) on Jesus' resurrection" in which he is arguing "that Jesus' ahistoricity is the more likely hypothesis."

I also found that Rafael published an article in January entitled, "Is There a Christian Agenda Behind Religious Studies Departments?" Great to see people within academia dealing with such issues. Reminds one of the "Religion and the PhD" thread on this forum.

Quote:
Is There a Christian Agenda Behind Religious Studies Departments? By Raphael Lataster

Published by the Religious Studies Project, on 23 January 2013 in response to the Religious Studies Project Interview with Dale Martin on Religious Studies and Biblical Studies (21 January 2013).

Around the half-way mark of Jack Tsonis’ interview with Professor Dale Martin, a contention was raised, that if true, is damaging to Religious Studies (and related disciplines), and betrays the value and one of the key initial purposes of the field. It is obvious to many of us that Religious Studies is useful, due in part to the critical, secular, etic approach to religion that it encourages. (Although this does not necessitate that Religious Studies scholars be irreligious, or be forbidden to or encouraged to avoid teaching or researching their own personal faith). Tsonis questions Martin on criticism that many Religious Studies scholars are effectively arguing for the usefulness of religion, demonstrating a pro-religious agenda. Tsonis mentions one academic claiming that Religious Studies scholars “claim the prestige of the university while following the rules of the seminary.” Tsonis wonders if this is a real phenomenon, and what effects this may have on our colleagues’ methodologies, funding, and employment prospects. Martin’s answer is thoughtful, but also damning.

In attempting to deny the claim, Martin acknowledges that many scholars working in Biblical Studies are Christians, and many of them are of the conservative type. He then says that the claim does not align with his experience, citing examples of scholars teaching on Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, without personally practicing or arguing for those faiths. It seems that not only has Martin acknowledged the issue in a roundabout way, but also alludes to a greater problem: the imbalance of power, the greater influence of Christianity in Western academia, compared with other religions, both major and minor. This discussion prompted me to reminisce about my own experiences in my first year of working in the scholarly world, particularly in initiating my Master’s research dissertation.

I faced opposition from within the department to the extent that I had considered abandoning the project. These challenges presented themselves despite the fact that I had not yet decided the angle, or of course, the conclusions. What was the topic that proved so challenging to research? Jesus mythicism, the contention that there may not have been a ‘historical Jesus’. I would eventually pass, with the examiners – themselves scholars of Religious Studies – agreeing that a review of the methods of many Biblical scholars is necessary (for example, the increasingly-maligned Criteria of Authenticity) and that it is entirely rational to be sceptical over the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. Such conclusions should not necessarily be so controversial in a field dedicated to the critical and non-confessional study of religion. More worryingly, there were instances where I felt pressure to alter the direction of the project, in order to allow for more ‘Christian-friendly conclusions’.

But why would such respected scholars wish to interfere with the most fundamental of academic freedoms? It may have had something to do with their personal religious beliefs about Jesus. Interestingly however, such belief is not actually required for such a reaction. One example is provided by noted Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman, one of many secular New Testament experts. Professor Ehrman is an outspoken atheist, yet dogmatically defends the historicity of Jesus and the usefulness of his teachings, while harshly and fallaciously (Lataster 2013) criticising those scholars that are audacious enough to be more sceptical than he (Ehrman 2012). Hector Avalos argues that even many non-Christian scholars are influenced by the political power, and finances, of pro-Christian organisations (Avalos 2007). Avalos claims that positive attitudes towards the Bible, Christianity, and religion in general, is often seen as necessary in order to keep these academic disciplines relevant, and funded.

Hoping that Avalos’ gloomy conclusions were wrong, and that experiences such as my own are rare, I would then discover a powerful Christian undercurrent in a related – and perhaps more esteemed – field; ancient history. While studying the historical Jesus under one of Tsonis’ colleagues from the Ancient History department of Macquarie University, I ‘learnt’ that there is a “resurrection-shaped dent in the historical record.” I would then participate in a public debate against one of my own Religious Studies postgraduate colleagues, and another Ancient Historian from Macquarie University, where my (Christian) opponents used their authority as subject-matter experts in attempting to convince the audience that it is perfectly rational to believe that a miracle-man was brought back from the dead by an unproven deity. It didn’t matter to this ancient historian that his resurrection claim is burdened by a crippling prior probability, is supported by extremely poor sources, or that there are far more probabilistic – and naturalistic – explanations, despite his agreeing with my reasonable claim that history is probabilistic. Christian influences can even be found in Philosophy departments, once great bastions of rationalism and scepticism, via Philosophy of Religion (Quadrio 2009).

Back to the interview, Martin further addresses the contention that Religious Studies scholars border on being crypto-theologians, and defends his ‘insider’ status. He argues that his Biblical criticisms ought to be given more weight (compared with a non-believer’s criticisms) as he is a Christian, and might be expected to aggressively defend his faith and agree more with his fellow adherents. As with the speculative criterion of embarrassment, Martin’s criticisms are partly interesting due to their counter-intuitive nature. These relatively small criticisms however, must be weighed against the fact that Martin still believes the unsubstantiated and question-begging claim that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, by God. Fortunately, in a recent debate, he correctly acknowledges that Jesus’ resurrection cannot be established historically, though this belief does form a part of his worldview (Licona et al. 2012), his values, and ultimately, would be expected to directly or indirectly affect his researching and teaching on Christianity. Martin might indeed offer the occasional criticism here or there, resulting in minor conflict with his fellow believers, but he stops short of, and would not be expected to, criticising and renouncing Christianity and Christian beliefs as a whole.

Further commenting on what became the dominant theme of the interview, Martin offered a surprising and seemingly unreasonable counter to the claim that Religious Studies scholars are apologising for religion. Instead of denying this claim, he accuses English, History, and Political Science scholars as being apologists for modern liberalism. Rather than outright denying or acknowledging what may be a vitally important issue in education, Martin offers a tu quoque justification. i.e. “Everyone else does it.” With the discussion drawing to a close, Martin demonstrates an example of my claim that what he offers is only relatively benign pseudo-criticism of his faith. He criticises researchers who attempt to show the similarities of Christianity to other religions and myths (an important and historical foundation of Religious Studies), while asking scholars to be more open-minded to the potential truth of supernatural events and experiences. I am not arguing that the perspectives of ‘insiders’ are not valuable, that religious believers are unwelcome in Religious Studies departments, and related fields, or that religion is not a force for good in the world. I merely wish to share my own experiences on the matter, and to encourage scholars to leave their personal beliefs at the door, as they enter the sacred grounds of the University.

(This material is disseminated under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. and can be distributed and utilised freely, provided full citation is given.)

About the Author

With a background in pharmacy, medicine, and finance, Raphael Lataster is a hopeful PhD candidate, having recently passed his Master of Arts (Research), undertaken in the Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney, with Distinction. His main research interests include Christian origins, logic, epistemology, justifications and social impacts of secularism, Taoism, overpopulation and sustainability concerns, pantheism, and pandeism. Raphael wrote his Master’s thesis on Jesus mythicism, concluding that historical and Bayesian reasoning justifies a sceptical attitude towards the ‘historical Jesus’. For his doctoral work, Raphael will analyse the major philosophical arguments for God’s existence (as argued by William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga and Thomas Aquinas), attempt to demonstrate the logical impossibility of the monotheistic concept, explore the theological tendencies of Philosophy of Religion, and formulate a conditional logical argument for a pantheistic weltanschauung. Raphael is currently writing and attempting to publish numerous articles summarising his Master’s dissertation, and exploring the themes of his proposed doctoral project. Raphael is always open to – and encourages – feedback and advice, especially regarding the politics and processes of academia and publishing, and alternative worldviews.

Of course, James McGrath just had to attempt to refute Rafael:

Religious Studies and Christian Agendas

It continues to surprise that individuals like McGrath find it so irritating that people question the gospel story, as if blindly believing in a superhuman Jewish man who purportedly lived 2,000 years ago as the incarnation of the God of the cosmos is so very intelligent and morally superior to questioning such a tale. It is not. Believing in this culturally biased fairytale without any solid proof and without knowing that numerous of the "Christians" motifs and doctrines could be found within pre-Christian religion and mythology represents a scientifically inferior and disingenuous perspective.

In any event, I wish Rafael well in his pursuits, and I follow his career with interest.

Amusingly, while searching the Cambridge Journal Think website, I came across this article:

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AGAINST MYTHICISM: A CASE FOR THE PLAUSIBILITY OF A HISTORICAL JESUS

A position that appears to be growing in popularity in atheist and rationalist circles is known as ‘mythicism’. According to this position we have no adequate reason to believe that the gospels refer to a historical figure called Jesus at all. This position of strong scepticism holds that the gospels are entirely mythological texts and that we are mistaken in reading them as embellished accounts of a man who lived and preached in the Middle East around 2000 years ago. I disagree with this position for a number of reasons. In particular, I contend that the apocalyptic material found on Jesus' lips and the hopes for a very real earthly historical transformation strongly suggest that there is an underlying historical basis to the claims that a man named Jesus made ‘prophetic’ statements about events that were expected to happen within his lifetime, and that this historical figure was considered by his band of followers to be the long awaited Messiah. The fact that hopes for eschatological transformation and claims of the coming of a Messiah are nothing more than religious mythological notions does not preclude there having been a historical figure to which these hopes were attached.

Edmund Standing holds a BA in Theology & Religious Studies and an MA in Critical & Cultural Theory and writes regularly for the websites Harry's Place and Butterflies & Wheels, amongst others. This article was first published at ButterfliesAndWheels.com and the online version includes references for all works cited: http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/art ... hp?num=378

It is great to see that mythicism is becoming so popular that papers like this one are needed to be published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Needless to say, the argument does not suffice to demonstrate that the "Jesus Christ" of the New Testament is anything but a fictional compilation of characters, real and mythical.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:31 pm 
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New Jesus Mythicist Book by Professional Scholar!

Great news! Rafael Lataster's master thesis has been published as a book. So, he's now got one of the few peer-reviewed Jesus mythicist works! Rafael tells me that in this book he has dissected Ehrman's anti-mythicist arguments.

Quote:
There was No Jesus, There is No God: A Scholarly Examination of the Scientific, Historical, and Philosophical Evidence & Arguments for Monotheism

by Rafael Lataster
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In this unique book, sceptical Religious Studies scholar, Raphael Lataster, seeks to merge the accessibility of popular atheistic writings, with the rigorous scholarly research normally limited to academic journals and monographs. Avoiding the seemingly endless debates on the social impacts of religion, There Was No Jesus, There Is No God is only concerned with the evidence. The base content of this fully referenced tome of free-thought has been peer-reviewed by leading scholars in the fields of History, Philosophy, Biblical Studies and Studies in Religion.

Part 1 reveals the spurious nature of the sources used to establish the truth of Christianity and the existence of Jesus, and the equally spurious methods employed by many Biblical scholars. A brief interlude then leaves no doubt that the existence of the Christ of Faith is virtually impossible, and concludes that even the existence of a stripped-down Historical Jesus is uncertain. Bayesian reasoning is shown to justify sceptical views on many topics, including the existence of God.

Part 2 shifts the focus to the God of classical theism and monotheism, examining the evidence and arguments from scientific, historical, and philosophical perspectives. The inadequacy of the case for God is found to easily justify non-belief (atheism). Furthermore, considerations of alternative gods and conceptions of God, lead to game-changing concerns for Christians, Muslims and Jews.

About the author:

A former fundamentalist Christian, Raphael Lataster is a professionally secular PhD researcher (Studies in Religion) at the University of Sydney. His main research interests include philosophy of religion, sociology of religion, Christian origins, logic, epistemology, Bayesian reasoning, justifications and social impacts of atheism, Taoism, overpopulation and sustainability concerns, pantheism, and pandeism. Being passionate about education, Raphael hopes to eventually teach in Religious Studies and possibly Philosophy (critical thinking and philosophy of religion), and also to make every effort to engage with the public, through popular books, speaking engagements, public debates and websites. His other interests include rock-climbing and volunteering with the State Emergency Service.

Raphael wrote his Master's thesis on Jesus mythicism (the view that even a 'historical', non-miraculous Jesus may not have existed), concluding that historical and Bayesian reasoning justifies a sceptical attitude towards the 'Historical Jesus'. For his doctoral work, Raphael is analysing the major philosophical arguments for God's existence (as argued by William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga and Thomas Aquinas), attempts to demonstrate the logical implausibility of the monotheistic concept, explores the theological tendencies of Philosophy of Religion, considers the plausibility of pantheistic worldviews, and ponders the sociological impact of certain sophisticated apologists, such as Craig, whom he dubs the 'New Theologians'.

And another blow to the "No Serious Scholar" fallacy. It should also be recalled that Rafael has debated Dr. Chris Forbes.

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