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On The use of Bayes Theorem in Historical Jesus Studies

Publications and Papers

Poor little Dick…

So, I found Dick saying this about my thesis, without reading the book of course: I always find it amusing when someone attempts what is a nakedly probability-dependent argument (like that Mark was influenced by and/or emulating Lucan) and then insists no one can apply maths to history. They are only refuting themselves. via Three New Videos » Richard Carrier Blogs. Umm… Not sure I did a “probability dependent argument” (Carried still thinks he’s into math and deep theory… mainly just deep… well, you know). What I did was to lay out a model of education in ancient Rome.

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So… That’s how Carrier did it…

In those disciplines where most researchers do not master mathematics, the use of mathematics may be held in too much awe. To demonstrate this I conducted an online experiment with 200 participants, all of which had experience of reading research reports and a postgraduate degree (in any subject). Participants were presented with the abstracts from two published papers (one in evolutionary anthropology and one in sociology). Based on these abstracts, participants were asked to judge the quality of the research. Either one or the other of the two abstracts was manipulated through the inclusion of an extra sentence taken

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Mark Goodacre V. Richard Carrier

Dr. Mark Goodacre shares with us a recent program he was featured on. Give it a listen. Unbelievable? Did Jesus Exist?  Richard Carrier vs. Mark Goodacre Richard Carrier is the world’s foremost proponent of the “mythicist” view of Jesus – that he never actually existed as a historical person. He explains his theory that St. Paul only ever spoke of Jesus in the spiritual realm and that the Gospels are “extended parables”. Mark Goodacre is NT professor at Duke University. He contends that Carrier’s mythicist view is extrememly far fetched and the evidence for the historical Jesus is beyond


I dunno – I don’t think mythicists know what they are talking about.

First, this post sparked a delightful commentary/discussion/popcorn feast for Jim West on my Facebook wall – a discussion I was unable to join as I was at a finance committee meeting. Mythicists like Earl Doherty will accept the existence of Q – a hypothetical source the existence of which is deduced from the common material shared between Matthew and Luke – and even the even more hypothetical stratification of this source into layers by scholars like John Kloppenborg. McGrath is correct – they are somewhat hypocritical with their selection of evidences and theories to pin their conspiracies on. By the way, I


Wait… Carrier is not mathematician? Who knew…

But ultimately I think the book is disingenuous. It doesn’t read as a mathematical treatment of the subject, and I can’t help but think that Carrier is using Bayes’s Theorem in much the same way that apologists such as William Lane Craig use it: to give their arguments a veneer of scientific rigour that they hope cannot be challenged by their generally more math-phobic peers. To enter an argument against the overwhelming scholarly consensus with “but I have math on my side, math that has been proven, proven!” seems transparent to me, more so when the quality of the


Richard Carrier proves mythicists are indeed Young Earth Creationists

Poor little Dick. He actually thinks that he knows what he is talking about. I was going to leave this alone but the sycophants panted loud enough. Dick demeans actual scientists who use actual theories to establish realistic hypotheses. And, he does so while misconstruing what they said. Scientists prove Beowulf and the Iliad are true stories Really, Dick? I thought someone interested in literature would know how to read better. But his idea that they are not real scientists is laughable. That’s like Hambone saying that an evolutionary biologist is not a real biologist. Just for fun, check out Dr. Kenna. Compare