Carrier’s Argument from Ignorance

Carrier has a review up on Bart Ehrman’s book on the historical Jesus. I haven’t yet read it yet, as I am, as you know, WRITING MY OWN (and while not dealing expressly with the historical Jesus, it will, however, I hope, have something to say in that regard).

Anyway, so as I started to read Carrier’s review, his opening paragraph essentially said all I needed to know:

Moreover, it completely fails at its one explicit task: to effectively critique the arguments for Jesus being a mythical person.

Here’s the thing… one would have to first assume that the arguments of the mythicists are worth considering. They aren’t. It is like Ken Ham asking a real scientist to prove that Creationism is false. First, one has to assume Creationism (6000 YEC) is true. Why waste time debunking garbage? Facts are presented in Science, but because the Hamites do not accept them, then they claim that they haven’t been “effectively critiques.”

I’m sure that there are a lot more fallacies in Carrier’s (world renowned? avid fans? Really?) thought process, but over all, the fact that one believes that someone else has to pay them attention or else is just silly.

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9 Replies to “Carrier’s Argument from Ignorance”

  1. Carrier’s argument from ignorance? Sounds a lot more like your argument from ignorance. So Ehrman writes a book on mythicism and doesn’t critique mythicism. Carrier is writing a book on the positive case for mythicism (which isn’t an argument from ignorance) and…well, you’re just being unfair.

      1. You didn’t read the review and possibly much anything Carrier has every said on the topic. That’s *your* argument from ignorance. Good job.

        And so even though mainstream scholars believe Jesus was heavily mythologized, other scholars who think Jesus was somewhat more mythologized than that (as in all the way) need to be treated as crackpots who disregard entire scientific theories and believe the age of the universe is many orders of magnitude younger than it really is? That’s just stupid. I think you need to recalibrate your prejudices.

        Carrier’s full positive case is going to be in his second volume on the topic, so you are just ignorant. His posts directed at Ehrman and McGrath are just supplemental negative cases aimed at their content.

        From that misunderstanding you portray Carrier as someone making an unfalsifiable claim as though Ehrman having set out to address mythicist theories shouldn’t be expected to actually engage the theories. Your post is more of a reprimand of Ehrman than Carrier’s position since you seem to think Ehrman shouldn’t have written “Did Jesus Exist?” in the first place. I suppose you are entitled to that opinion, but in my opinion that just makes you an anti-educational asshole who believes the entire lay population should just “get it” about things like climate change, vaccinations, evolution, and whatever else for no particular reason from their perspective. Should we have half-assed treatments of these subjects or should concerned educators take them seriously for the sake of the real folk concerns of their audiences? You know what happens when sloppy prejudiced skepticism is thrown at the opposition? The main proponents of the pseudo-science and pseudo-scholarship eat that up like red meat and it makes the disconnect between science and everyone else worse. Again, good job.

        1. I’m not sure you understand what “argument from ignorance” means. I’ll wait to address that until you find out.

          Yes, mythicists and creationists are the same. They both reject science, actual methods, and facts.

          Carrier actually has no case. What he’s done is to select a theory he things he can manipulate to give him the results he needs. This is the same thing creation scientists do. They set up their own standard for truth and measure everything else by it. What doesn’t meet it is either devalued or discarded. Again, you keep using the word ignorant, but I don’t think you know what it means. Try again.

          Ben, your language only shows your educational level, which seems to be none. Let me help you out here. It is difficult at best to actually address arguments if those arguments are based in conspiracy theory (um, and you seem to be a conspiracy theorist on more than just the Historical Jesus). This is because to address those arguments, you have to be willing to suggest that they, individually, are deserving of merit. There are no actual arguments from the mythicist camp that deserve addressing. It’s like have real scientists address the claims made by creationists, or the President continually have to present his birth certificate. It’s pointless. Further, look at you. You do not even understand what the argument from ignorance is. Poor guy. To actually address your argument, I would have to waste time educating you on the fallacy and how it was employed by Carrier. But, then, you would move the goal post back (another logical fallacy). See how this works?

          Arguments built on conspiracy aren’t really arguments. They are delusions. Proper arguments, facts, and the such, cannot ever really counter delusions, only medication can.

          1. “Yes, mythicists and creationists are the same. They both reject science, actual methods, and facts.”

            Prove it. Show where Carrier rejects science, actual methods, and facts. But you’ve already established that you are willfully ignorant of what he actually argues so I guess you won’t be doing that any time soon.

            I’m not a mythicist, btw. But I do think science and academic educators should work harder to educate the public to correct the popular folk opinions (Turns out, not every soccer mom is a die hard conspiracy theorist.). Perhaps we should just take your advice and drug half the country instead? Good idea! [/sarcasm]

          2. Ben, you really do not make a lot of sense, but simply like to thrown straw men around.

            Carried rejects actually historian methods. Duh?

  2. “Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or “appeal to ignorance” (where “ignorance” stands for: “lack of evidence to the contrary”), is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false, it is “generally accepted” (or vice versa).” — Wikipedia

    Mr. Landon,

    Above is the the description of argument from ignorance. I read Dr. Ehrman’s book. I read Dr. Carrier’s review. I expect to read the followup comments by both. What I am curious about is your charge that Dr. Carrier is employing the argument from ignorance fallacy. Please cite specifics. I am not a scholar, but I am a fairly well-read skeptic familiar with the fallacy you mentioned. I fail to see where Dr. Carrier has employed it. I have not read all of Dr. Carrier’s works, so perhaps you are referring to his other writings. If you are going to make a charge that a logical fallacy is being used it is incumbent upon you to provide the specifics. Your scholarly credentials alone do not establish the charge.

  3. Yes, I do know what a last name is. My apologies. I did not look carefully at your name. I saw Joel and Landon and stopped there. I am not accustomed to a person including their middle name. So when I saw Landon after the name Joel, I stopped there thinking this was your last name. My mistake. Did not mean to offend.

    I am unable to decipher the connection between your truncated statement and the link you provided. Nowhere on this linked page did I see a comment by Dr. Carrier to the effect that “mythicist arguments need professional critiquing, because there is no proof…” or anything remotely like this. To what proof does this comment refer? Proof that Jesus was not an historical figure? If you are saying that Dr. Carrier has stated that the mythicist arguments are legitimate because there is no evidence for the existence of Jesus, please direct me to the link or site or reference where he has made this statement. I admit I have not read all of his works and am just now beginning to explore the work of the mythicists. Like them I have doubts about the historicity of Jesus. I am particularly troubled by the reliance of scholars supporting the historicity of Jesus on several documents (Q, M and L) for which we have not even a scrap or fragment of even a copy of these documents. Their existence is mere conjecture. I have been trained in the sciences. I find it perplexing that anyone would use as evidence for a claim documents which do not actually exist. I am equally perplexed by the notion, that assuming these documents did exist, how one could with any certainty at all make assumptions and claims about what was or may have been contained in these documents.

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