And… I’m done

I have completed my project of summarizing and reorganizing Richard Carrier’s book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. I very much hope that some of you find it useful or interesting. Any of you that do, I hope that you will purchase the book to explore the arguments and evidence in greater detail.

If any of the arguments that I outline aren’t clear, please let me know in the comments and I will try to revise my summaries. I, as always, welcome any and all comments, questions, suggestions, criticisms, and so on.

You can find my summaries here.

There Was No Historical Jesus

Several weeks ago, I finished reading Richard Carrier’s book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. This book has completely flipped my evaluation of the subject, and now instead of considering it more likely than not that there was a historical figure based on whom the Jesus mythology developed, I have now come to agree with Carrier that Jesus probably originated as a celestial deity that was later falsely placed in history.

Unfortunately, Carrier’s book is a very difficult and lengthy read, so I fear that many people that are interested in its subject matter will not read it. That, plus wanting to be able to answer my wife’s question, “So what was his argument that convinced you?” I have begun the daunting project of condensing and slightly reorganizing his work into a more digestible form. I am not done yet, but I have worked my way up through Chapter 8 of the book, which was the chapter that more than any other shifted my opinion. I therefore have now posted my series of essays on this book, which should be viewed as a work-in-progress. Even my summary is long, for which I apologize. But I think it is worth the read. As always, I welcome any and all feedback, be it positive, negative, curious, or whatever. Enjoy!

New Essay: Scriptural Evidence for God

My latest essay is now online, dealing with using scripture to support the existence of God. The main points are:

  1. Internal consistency, internally-reported fulfilled prophesies, and minor historical veracity are insufficient to support scriptural claims of miraculous events.
  2. There is no reliable extra-scriptural evidence for any miraculous events reported in scripture.

I go through the argument in detail with respect to the New Testament.

As always, I welcome suggestions, comments, and criticisms.  Thank you for reading!

New essay (miracles and the supernatural) and blog status

There has been some fantastic discussion in the comments on my previous essay, Belief vs. Faith. I am still intending to revise that document based on the feedback I have received, but am not sure when that’s going to fit into the schedule. There is a definite tension between revising published material and producing new material.

This week’s post concerns the concept of the supernatural, particularly with respect to claims of miracles. In this essay, I discuss the apparent lack of adequate evidence for anything supernatural ever having happened, which raises the bar in terms of required evidence for an claimed supernatural event. I further express discontent over the notion of the supernatural itself, which seems to be an incoherent concept. As always, I welcome comments, criticisms, and suggestions. Enjoy!

Update: My last few essays have been focusing on laying the groundwork for discussion (establishing that in order to convince me of anything, we’ll need to be talking on an evidentiary basis, and that claims of the supernatural are going to require extraordinary evidence). While there is certainly still plenty of groundwork that can be laid, I probably should start balancing out the content of this site by having my next essay specifically address one of the common arguments in favor of God’s existence. There are several good choices, which I will list below. I would welcome any suggestions about the ones you, my readers, would be most interested in me tackling first. The possibilities that come immediately to mind are:

Opinions? Preferences?

Update: The essay I wrote was on the argument from first cause, and is linked to above.

2nd Update: I have written some more of the essays mentioned above, and have added links to them.

New document (Belief vs. Faith), and site status

I am again a bit ahead of schedule with my new document post. Tuesday’s offering, here posted three days early, is, as promised, a discussion of belief and faith. In it I argue that when faith is understood as a particular manner of holding a belief, in which evidence is not part of the reason for holding it, then faith itself is both uncorrectable if wrong and dangerous to society. A conclusion that arises from this argument is my first real explanation for my atheism: if it is only valid to believe those things for which there are evidence, and if the evidence for the existence of god(s) is unconvincing, then atheism is the natural stance to adopt.

I had said in my preview of this document that I would include a discussion of how it is possible to live a life that doesn’t include faith at all, and I still intend to write a document on that subject. However, this document is already extremely long, and it would probably be best to break things up a bit. I will therefore address that topic in a future essay. (Update: I have now written that essay.)

The only other significant changes to the site involve updates to the about page to reflect the descriptions I used in my opening blog post.

Getting dialog going: Preview of next document concerning belief and faith

Update: The new document described below is now online.

So far on this blog, there has been minimal dialog or debate. This is not surprising, for several reasons. First, of course, the blog is new, and readership is not particularly huge (although stats have shown 275 views, which is pretty good!). Second, I have not advertised the site widely, relying primarily on word-of-mouth, and many of the folks that have initially taken a look at the site are also on the atheist side of things. Third, and possibly most importantly, the two main documents I have posted so far consist of (a) a technical discussion of an obscure issue and (b) simple definitions of atheism and agnosticism. In short, I have not yet provided an argument for atheism. My next document is going to take a large step in that direction. I am offering a preview here in order to solicit arguments and counterarguments that I can ensure that I address in that post. Continue reading