Friday, May 06, 2005

Creationism and denial

I’ve been thinking about Ryan’s comment on this blog that Holocaust denial is more aptly compared to creationism than to Jesus denial. When I first saw Shermer's parallel with creationism in Denying History, a book about human history, I found the mention of physical evolution a little out of place, though it got across what Shermer was saying about multiple sources of converging evidence. Jesus denial, as Ryan points out, concerns the life of only one person (it actually proceeds onward to do what the theory requires, namely to deny many individuals and groups within Christianity), and refuting it calls for a distinct approach which is sometimes indirect, while the Holocaust involved almost countless disparate events all converging on a single conclusion -- somewhat like evolution.

But I am just as impressed by the differences between creationism and Holocaust denial. The latter is clearly the product of bigotry, mendacity, and the desire to destroy. Holocaust denial arises from the desire to malign and destroy Jews. I said, too, that Jesus denial arises from feelings about Christianity; and I argued that persisting in Jesus denial, rather than merely exploring it or tentatively arguing it, arises from true prejudice, that is, an inability to see the object of your hostility in a mitigated or nuanced light. My observations of it bear this out; and I believe that anyone going after the founder of a religion is, per force, trying to overthrow or destroy that religion, at the root. And it needs no research to confirm that Holocaust deniers cannot breathe a single good word about Jews. Creationists are quite different. I know at least two personally, and their numbers throughout the world are very great. Sure, in their battles with science they do express, and frankly do not try to hide, a mistrust of secularism and of its intentions toward Christianity – a mistrust I cannot judge as unfounded. But their belief does not arise from their feelings about science per se. Quite to the contrary, creationists often respect scientific achievements in medicine, engineering, and any number of other fields, including history: one of the best amateur historians I’ve found on the web, Charles Scott Kimball, is a creationist.

No, their belief in a six-day creation arises only out of their belief in the Bible. That is older than secularism, and quite clearly belongs in a category with ancient beliefs like the earth-centered universe. In other words, the source of creationism is traditional belief, arising from the “common sense” that sees the universe and its origins in a human-centered way or on a human-scale; the actual scale of the universe, and humanity’s actual origins on earth, defy our human-centered vision. But none of this makes creationists any worse than you or I; in fact I would concede that their strong faith, compelling them to service of others, has improved them as people to a degree that I cannot be sure my weaker faith has done with me. Like everyone else, they commit sins, and some of them are very serious, but not to a greater degree than I can see in the non-believing world; atheism in particular seems to me to have a horrid history, if we count communism and nazism (the ultimate masters of killing communities and then denying the past existence of the people killed).

To put it perhaps too simply, Ryan is impressed more than I am by the similarities in physical scale between the science of evolution and the study of a large and diverse modern event like the Holocaust, while I am more impressed than he is with the emotional differences between creationism and Holocaust denial. And I see Jesus denial as closer to the latter, clearly not in physical scale, but as an attitude, one concerning a similar subject (non-biological history). Sure, the Holocaust is almost immeasurably larger than the ministry of one man, but the fact that it sometimes involves smaller denials like the denial of Anne Frank's existence says to me that Holocaust denial is like Jesus denial, only writ large, and designed to deny only those things that physical evidence will allow to be denied with any kind of credence even among fools (which is to say that most of the murders and the intention behind them are denied, while the Jewish lives in their entirety are not denied). There simply is nothing between Holocaust denial and creationism like the twin denials of Jesus and Anne Frank.

The comparison grows closer when you realize that Jesus denial deserves perhaps the more technical name "early-Christianity denial", for not only Jesus but all the people associated with him and his followers, along with their deaths, are either denied or maligned, on both an individual and a collective scale. This of course is what happens in Holocaust denial, albeit in larger numbers and in more extreme ways that properly disgust us.

And yet even speaking of physical scales, I also have to note the great difference between evolution and the Holocaust. Yes, the number of events in the Holocaust outnumber the events in Jesus’ life by many magnitudes (if we don't compare against all of early Christianity); but the number of events studied in evolution outnumber those in the Holocaust by an equally astonishing degree. I do not see evolution and the Holocaust as two events of comparable scale, with the life of Jesus dwarfed in a corner off to the side. Rather, and I'm sure Ryan would agree with me, the lives of Christ and his early followers are small in comparison to the history of the Holocaust, which in turn is small compared to the history of life on earth, and that in turn is dwarfed by cosmic history. Jesus’ life was an ancient event, the Holocaust a modern one, the evolution of our world and our species an “event” that includes pre-history, antiquity, and modernity; but evolution centers most often on physical processes which we normally don’t think about, or even deal with, when studying ancient and modern history.

When we speak of human history we mean the study of people, though of course it's conceded that the physical sciences come into the question by telling us the impact of natural events on people. Still, "history" is not a hard science, and Shermer notes this issue briefly in his book. Creationism deals with subjects that ultimately have very precise answers, at least in comparison to those answers that suffice for us to embrace as our knowledge of human social history. For all this and more, there remains for me a real dissonance between creationism and Holocaust denial.

When I think of creationism, I think of an attitude that does not seek at all to deny what we usually call human history, and does not reject much of what the physical sciences have added to our knowledge of modern history. I see instead an attitude that draws a line several thousand years ago, beyond which it will not allow the hard sciences to dictate the ultimate conclusion. This partial embrace of science is more similar to the overall life-attitude of people who hold the pseudo-scientific belief in UFO’s, or of those who hold the pathetic theory that the moon landings were a great hoax. Creationists will find this insulting, but let me say that I do not see a single further parallel between creationism and the Moon Hoax, other than the superficial fact that both deal centrally with the subjects studied by the "hard" sciences, and that both, in my opinion, ultimately reject the good work done by those sciences – with the qualification that the Moon Hoaxers have also lost touch with modern history, and have rejected science in a way that finally defeats sympathy and respect. I for one do not hold the theory of intelligent design, which is now a popular successor to creationism (at least as I see it), but I do hold it to be respectable and worthy of discussion; I hold orthodox creationism to be worthy of discussion, too, though I do not regard it as a scientific theory. The Moon Hoax, by contrast, does not and should not ever command any kind of basic respect, as a theory. Even taking the time to discuss it publicly is rightfully questioned as a good use of time. Moon Hoaxers lie, and heap calumnies on people who are said to be behind the hoax; creationists don’t behave this way. Creationists have all their bearings on the ground and lead lives that I consider as a model of faith; Moon Hoaxers are a breed, frankly, who waste all our time and energy. But that is a subject for another post.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Jim said...

Thank you for your comments. I must however take exception to one in particular. If as you state, we should equate Christianity with, say the ancient thinking that this is an earth centered universe, please allow me to be incapable of making that connection so easily, unless you mean to say that "nothing of any intellegence has come from our ancinet past". Otherwise I cannot conclude that we, (you) are able to connect an errant ancient thought process with a seemingly quite different other ancient thought process. If this is what you meant, then please explain to us about some (I shall be generous) errant (and recent) thought processes eminating from secularist and scientists. Should we render our beliefs about their philosophy in a similar manner?

May 07, 2005 5:09 PM  
Blogger Kevin Rosero said...

Jim, I was unclear in one thing. I would never equate Christianity as a whole with ancient beliefs now superseded by science. I meant to equate the belief in a six-day creation with general ancient beliefs about the structure of our universe, beliefs which have been superseded by scientific descriptions of the universe in which our species and our planet, being so small, are often not at the center of study. The first chapter of Genesis emphasizes man's place in creation; but vast portions of the Bible, beginning with the story of man's Fall in the second chapter of Genesis, challenge the self-centeredness and hubris of our species -- attitudes that are both ancient and modern. Frankly I tend to think that the ancients, quite aware of their powerlessness before nature, were more humble than we are in many ways.

Let me edit what I said with brackets: "No, their belief in a six-day creation arises only out of their belief in the Bible. That is older than secularism, and [therefore the belief in a six-day creation] quite clearly belongs in a category with ancient beliefs like the earth-centered universe."

Thanks for your comment.

May 07, 2005 6:40 PM  
Anonymous evolution man said...

creationalist are not listening or even being realistic about their knowledge of the world. i think they rely too much on the lies of prophets and not on the truth of their common sense.
resist propaganda and use your own mind!
zenoida

May 09, 2005 10:59 PM  
Anonymous mythicist said...

I have just discovered your blog and your comments on what you call "Jesus denial." Your arguments are scattered over several posts, so I might have missed some points.

I would first ask you who is denying Jesus - those who think that he was a fictionalized mythic hero, or those who wage warfare in his name or murder doctors?

If you study Christian origins, you will not find definitive proof of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. You will not find indications that that gospels were written as literal history, or even as "enhanced" history.

You seem to have made a superficial survey of the web and missed the most effective and scholarly presentations of the Jesus Myth theory. Earl Doherty, who has a book called The Jesus Puzzle and a website www.jesuspuzzle.com, has a very carefully documented case on why Christianity did not start out as the reaction to a single person. Doherty is not a conspiracy theorist - he works from mainstream scholarship on the New Testament.

You will find other scholars who think that the Jesus story is myth - but do not think that this means we must destroy Christianity or reject basic Christian values.

In fact, comparing Jesus Mythicism to Holocaust Denial is a very poor reflection on you and your willingness to engage in dialogue. Holocaust Denial can be shown to be based on false ideas and bad science. There is no such showing to be made about Jesus Mythicism.

If you think there is, you can join the dialogue at the Internet Infidels Board (www.iidb.org), where Bede has consistently lost arguments on that issue.

July 15, 2005 5:47 PM  
Blogger Kevin Rosero said...

To Mythicist:
Your question about who really is denying Jesus is excellent. Those who kill in his name certainly deny him, and surely in a more important manner than those who deny his existence. Your point is well taken: but I would be careful not to use words that suggest an either/or choice. Both forms of denial count.

When you use the general "you" to generalize about how people (presumably scholars) will not find history in the Bible, you're not addressing or even reporting the actual situation. A very large body of scholarship finds history in the Bible, and much of that scholarship is not Christian. The Penguin History of the World by J.M. Roberts says that the problems with the Gospels as historical accounts have been exaggerated. I need not give more examples; you must be familiar with all those thousands of scholars who do find, to use your word, indications of historical truth in the New Testament.

You write that there is no definitive proof for Jesus of Nazareth. In this blog I've discussed the problem with the phrase, or rather the idea, of "definitive proof." I've noted that Michael Shermer says there is no definitive proof for the Holocaust or even for biological evolution. He argues that we do possess the closest thing to "definitive proof" (which is a phrase that should be left for mathematics, in my opinion) when we consider the converging lines of evidence for these things. I've argued the same thing about Jesus' existence.

I appreciate it when people tell me honestly their reaction to the Holocaust parallel. It's prompted me to reflect at length on the usefulness of the parallel. I mean that I can't count on using it without some readers fearing that I'm equating the two denials at the level of material evidence; or without some readers fearing that I do it to stifle dialogue. I actually agree with Shermer that Holocaust denial should not be suppressed as an idea, but rather confronted. No one loves a good debate more than me, and I rarely leave a dialogue without the issues being hashed out thoroughly. The people I tend to avoid, actually, are plain racists and anti-Semites. I've never ignored anyone who denied the existence of Jesus.

In fact I never have equated that idea with Holocaust denial, on any level. But I do find many similarities compelling -- particularly the erasing of past persons, such as Orwell describes in 1984 and in his writings about actual totalitarian states. These states -- though Orwell did not make much of it -- were also atheist, and given to their own denials of figures like Muhammad and Jesus.

And the parallel has one use that is indispensible. Someone recently has been arguing with me about Doherty by repeatedly bringing up the fact that Christians are uncomfortable with the idea that Jesus did not exist. The insinuation is that truth makes people uncomfortable (from which it follows that these people do not love the truth, but rather tell or love lies). Holocaust denial is proof positive that falsehood hurts people, too. That common sense is set aside, frankly, by most people plumbing fringe arguments, since the content of their ideas can't stand on its own. And I find that our culture in general is buying more and more into the idea -- the posture, really -- that "if you don't dialogue with this idea, it's because you don't believe in the free exchange of ideas." Tell that to the scientists who recently decided not to debate creationists in the Kansas trial.

Finally, my very first post, "Jesus denial", alludes to Doherty's version of this theory (see #7 on that post's list). I had indeed encountered his theory, a few years ago. Is he a conspiracy theorist? Yes, by my definition. A conspiracy theorist claims that evidence which would normally be available to the mainstream is not, for any number of unflattering reasons: but whatever the reason, and whatever the method, the truth is somehow suppressed. As far as I know, Doherty does not argue that the first Christians openly suppressed those who spoke up to say that Christ could not be a historical figure. Unlike many conspiracy theorists, he doesn't say that the whistle-blowers were silenced murderously by those seeking power. He does say that those who might have blown the whistle were actually killed by the murderous Romans, in the war that suppressed the Jewish rebellion. This is just a shade off classic conspiracy theory, but the difference is not very large in my opinion; and there are other features of conspiracy theories which his argument has.

I'll stop by the Internet Infidels board. Thank you for your comment; and I do hope for more comments on this blog.

July 15, 2005 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Mythicist again said...

When you don't understand something, you try to explain it to yourself - it's a human characteristic. (Michael Shermer has written about this.)

You don't understand why people might think that the character of Jesus in the gospels was fictional (and you also don't understand myth) so you have invented reasons why someone would do this, and created a false analogy with Holocaust Denial.

This false analogy is deeply insulting. It is as if I didn't know much about Catholicism, but started off with saying Catholics must all be sympathetic to pederasts and cannibals. (I think that there were some early Romans who did make similar charges.)

So if you want to pick a fight, keep only using that insult. But if you want actual communication or meaningful debate, please reconsider.

You will find that mythicists, as they are known, have a variety of motives and stances. Earl Doherty is a Canadian Humanist with a classical education; he approaches the matter as an intellectual question, of how to explain the historical phenomenon of Christianity. He was inspired by another scholar, G A Wells.

(I have a hard time believing that you have read any of his work. He believes that there is no trace of a Historical Jesus in Paul's letters or other early Christians, that the gospels were written as allegory, and that later Christians turned the allegory into history. I do not recognize his theories in what you wrote in the last paragraph.)

Acharya S is combatively anti-Christian, and is much less of a scholar.

There are two British guys, Freke and Gandy, who wrote a book, The Jesus Mysteries. They want to reform Christianity by going back to the second century and following the gnostics who lost out to the orthodox in disputes in the early church. You could classify them as neo-pagans.

But you will not find any mythicists who are Holocaust Deniers or anti-Semites. Neither the Nazis nor the Communists thought that Jesus was a myth - the Nazis claimed that Jesus was an Aryan and used the Passion to whip up anti-Jewish feeling, while the Communists thought that he was just a good communist.

There is no mass movement to erase religious figures. You will not find any big discussion about whether the Buddha existed or not, because Buddhists don't care. They find the value of their religion in practicing it. Do you think Christianity would be worth practicing if there were no historical proof of the existence of its founder? Would the moral precepts of Jesus that Thomas Jefferson admired suddenly become nonsense if you found out that the gospels were fiction? What does this say about Christianity?

You say "A very large body of scholarship finds history in the Bible, and much of that scholarship is not Christian." A large body of very dated scholarship found some history in the Bible; but there is nothing that stands up to the sort of scrutiny that Shermer applied to the Holocaust, or that modern historians use when reading classical documents. And a large body of modern Christian scholarship finds little or no history in the Bible. There is probably not enough space to go into that here; I have lasted through many discussions of the question on the Infidels Boards and other lists.

If you were to come to the Infidels Boards, you would have most of your statements challenged. You write very smoothly, but you incorporate many assumptions that you cannot defend, including assumptions about others' motives.

July 16, 2005 2:55 AM  
Blogger Kevin Rosero said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 17, 2005 12:27 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

A rememberance to all. As a Christian (with a scientific mind)who likes to see the BIG picture, here is what my Jesus has taught me: Life is really very simple, We are all born, we live from seconds to around 100 years, then we (all) die. When we die, we go somewhere and if as I believe it is heaven, then we will be there for eternity (a long time) thereby making it infinitely more important than the seconds to years we're here. So, it's kind of insulting to me when people rant on about things we do, don't do, want to do, don't want to do, can't do, should do, shouldn't do, understand, dont understand, know scientiffically, don't know....., as though we individually or by groupings were GOD. We simply are not. Jim

July 30, 2005 11:14 AM  
Blogger Kevin Rosero said...

[I posted the comment below on 07/17/05 – before Jim’s comment above. I deleted my original version, and posted a new one below with one edit: a crucial term originally abbreviated is now spelled out, to avoid basic confusion. Too bad there is no way to edit comments here].

To Mythicist: You find the Holocaust analogy insulting. You mention that there are no Holocaust deniers and anti-Semities among Jesus Mythicists, but I have noted the same thing many times on my blog, in different words. I’ve said that persisting in Jesus denial must arise from some negative feelings about Christianity (you mention some of them in another post -- the Jews who adopted the myth position in response to Christian missionaries). Merely exploring the theory or asking questions arises from curiosity and more moderate feelings. So far none of this is controversial psychology; I am not calling anyone an anti-Semite or a denier of genocide; I’ve explicitly said that my first debating opponent on this issue was, and is not, such a person.

Your point is well taken, and I mean this sincerely, that attitudes toward Christianity among mythicists are diverse. In this I think my Holocaust parallel has been false; all Holocaust deniers share an attitude toward Jews that cannot be said to be diverse, or even partially positive, as I see JM’s are toward Christianity when they do speak respectfully of Christian teachings. Now, all the arguments I have described as belonging to Jesus denial, I have indeed encountered, through personal debates or otherwise. I generally have shied away from naming specific authors because I did not want my indictment (and particularly the Holocaust analogy) to be taken personally by these authors – but I now see that leaving names out makes every mythicist take it as a personal criticism.

Jesus mythicism (JM) is not like any other fringe theory. The Moon Hoax is one idea that may be technically prejudicial, but it doesn’t arise from hate; no one really knows why people argue it, and there seems to be a variety of motives. JM can be like that; it brings in the additional question of religion; and it does not share the ethnic hatred of Holocaust denial. It is like nothing else, so I am more and more inclined not to use analogies except in the most limited ways.

I went last night to the Infidels boards, and found a thread debating the size of the second-century church; the debate was better and more complex than I had learned to expect from past visits to Infidels, and when I registered I found myself admiring the Terms and Conditions requiring civilized discourse. So I do wish to find out more about what JM’s are thinking, and I have no desire to think of them as bigoted; finding the opposite is always a relief to me.

In fact I’ve noticed that many people want to explore or promote this theory as if it were an entirely innocent investigation. It’s not bigotry so much as a posture of embracing reason and truth. In my Christian tradition, it’s right and necessary to own up to your own sins and to help your tradition at large do the same. Forms of Christianity which too casually refuse ownership of historical sins committed by our tradition seem to me to be missing something very important. Therefore I consider, when I’ve offended someone, whether I told the truth or told a falsehood (for instance, a false analogy). I have to consider whether Catholicism breeds pedophilia, and I have to consider whether Catholicism was partially responsible for the Holocaust; all of these tasks are difficult, but I do not satisfy myself with calling such associations insulting and speaking only of the best attitudes and objectives of my Church.

Yet I readily encounter skeptics who too casually refuse ownership of the “dark side” of science or the hurtful implications of their theories. In fact too often all I hear is that they’re simply asking questions or pursuing the truth disinterestedly, and if the answers hurt, well, that’s not their fault.

You feel insulted by my analogy, and you assumed that my motive was to insult, or to douse dialogue, and that it was not an honest attempt at comparison/contrast. If you can see how JM insults Christians, and says negative things about them or their religion, then we can proceed with this conversation. It is not a response to say that you don’t mean to insult; it’s a plain fact that whatever my intentions, you were insulted by my Holocaust analogy. And that cuts both ways. Merely repeating that you mean no harm, and that your colleagues mostly do not mean any harm, will only deepen the suspicion. And it invites me simply to take the equivalent position that I, too, as a God-loving Christian, am only interested in truth, and that my ideas are not harmful to anything except to that which deserves to be harmed. Such a position runs against both the Christian teachings that I embrace (i.e., I do have human desires, likes and dislikes), and it galls me also as someone who loves the scientific method. That ideal is certainly to pursue the truth disinterestedly; but you don’t get there merely by saying you’re disinterested, and that any ugly passions in your corner of the debate have really nothing to do with you. You said that Doherty treats this issue like an intellectual question – but everyone from quantum theorists to Holocaust deniers do this, when they seek intellectual respectability. Being intellectual about your subject just isn’t enough. You do trustworthy science by stating your views up front, dealing with your own conditioning, identifying blind spots and controlling for them. If you can do that (and you do seem like this kind of person), then we have a basis to go forward, to leave the whole question of motives aside and to move on to the content of the question.

Another foundation for such a dialogue would be if you would identify yourself. At this blog all my views are laid out in the open, and with my name you can look up anything about me; I have no ability to discern you, your work, or your motives, except in the brief statements you’ve given me.

A basic clarification is needed. The first form of the mythicist position that I debated had no name associated with it, but it was definitely Doherty’s argument; it was centered on Paul’s belief in a “spiritual” Jesus. I am familiar with all of Doherty’s arguments which you mention, and have been for years. Recently I have been reading his arguments in his own context (his website), but I do not find them anymore convincing that way than I did before. I’ve always paid more attention to others like Wells (not Acharya), because the whole idea that Paul is saying something contrary to the plain sense of the text strikes me as special pleading, not to mention extremely tricky. It’s a very clever way to make the mythicist position stronger: instead of dealing with the evidence, just say that all of it refers to a spiritual realm. And since that cannot be done for Josephus, his references to Jesus have to be blotted out – no less than Pauline references to an earthly Jesus have to be blotted out; but in all this Doherty only has multiplying entities (for Josephus) and obscure explanations (for the New Testament). I have a skeptical mind for these sort of claims, though often it seems I’m alone among skeptics. To call yourself a skeptic these days does not mean critical examination of all claims, but skepticism toward religion and an embrace of claims, even tenuous ones, that challenge religion.

When the creators of the TV show “Dallas” took a whole season and announced that the whole thing had been a dream, people rightfully smelled a too-easy, ambitious trick; and I’m sorry to compare Doherty with that, but it’s what springs to mind. I’m sorry to say that I find more straightforward versions of the nonexistence theory to be more worth tackling. All of Doherty’s erudition has gone toward finding obscure explanations for every historical objection he can anticipate; his project is certainly intellectual, in that the research it requires to sustain itself must be dogged and extensive; but it’s not simple and straightforward in the way that accurate theories are. Yet people do find Doherty to be the best of the mythicists, especially since Wells changed his mind, so I am reading Doherty more and more.

A few weeks ago I came across this statement at his website: “One of the primary positions of the mythicist argument is that tradition and scholarship have read all sorts of things from the Gospels into the epistles. If they are not explicitly there, we have no right to assume they lie in the background.” Then why am I am to assume that a purely "supernatural" context exists around Paul’s words? What right do I have to do that? The supernatural context is not “explicitly there”; Doherty’s whole argument is that Paul was implicitly speaking of a kind of Christ whom everyone knew to be supernatural; for that reason, presumably, Paul does not have clarifying remarks, such as, “Don’t get me wrong; I am not speaking of an earthly Messiah; and let me tell you why the concept of an earthly Messiah is very different from what I’m offering.” Doherty’s whole edifice requires being skeptical that the Gospel Jesus is Paul’s context; but it requires NOT being skeptical that the supernatural Jesus is Paul’s context, and to remain un-skeptical about it even when Paul’s references to a corporeal Jesus and his doings would naturally invite a scholar to be skeptical of the supernatural context.

At http://www.tektonics.org/doherty/doherty20lb.html, J.P. Holding has an argument which I think is a key to understanding why people read too much into the Biblical text. I’m referring to Malina and Rohrbaugh’s classification of the Biblical text as high-context: the “backstory” or context is presumed, for instance when Paul presumes that his readers know the stories about Jesus. In our modern world of highly specialized knowledge, we expect context to be explained, and if it’s not, and we’re skeptics, we presume it’s not there (even when you have to turn only a few pages, over to the Gospels, to find it); then, in an ambitious attempt to provide a context, we end up providing no more than our own agenda. Both religious fundamentalism and what Holding calls fundy atheism feel free to fill in the gaps that they perceive in the text with their own context. It’s a complex argument that I will leave for further discussion; but to my mind, as a moderate Christian who constantly sees the Bible misread and misused, it’s an extremely strong argument.

You’ll find evidence of a Soviet claim for Jesus’ nonexistence at http://www.bede.org.uk/price8.htm. At http://www.atheists.org/Islam/mohammedanism.html, there is an essay by Frank Zindler repeating Soviet claims that Muhammad did not exist.

If you’re going to make judgments about how much Biblical scholarship is dated, I’d like to know what your degree is so I can trust that you’ve been required to survey and read many texts, including texts you would not normally or fully engage (that is the discipline inherent in pursuing any degree). I have a college degree in Religion and one year of study at a liberal Protestant seminary. Not much – but I did not make extraordinary claims about the idea of a historical Jesus belonging to dated scholarship.

I have no doubt that I’d be challenged severely at Infidels. Even a fringe opinion can call up arguments and texts at a rate that scholars would find troublesome to respond to; and I am no scholar, so I’d really have to give up all my time to research and answer everything.

You may respond to the content I’ve given here, but no real dialogue is possible without the kind of discussion of motives that I mentioned. I won’t throw the Holocaust in your face if you speak to me about your motives and consider how your theory might unfairly tar Christianity. If you disagree with my assessment of the motives and the impact of Jesus mythicism, we can agree to disagree on that, and I’ll engage the content at Infidels. I hope to see you there.

August 04, 2005 3:30 PM  

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