More Mythicist Tripe

It seems that when one seeks to totally obliterate his or her former belief system, they simply replace one stern taskmaster with other. Maybe it is a personality type, or maybe a defect? I don’t know, but reading Neil’s post I seem to think that those who deny the historical Jesus do so to comfort themselves, to replace their once absolute faith in Christ with their absolute hatred of their former selves. They need Jesus not to be real to comfort themselves and their choices as much as they once needed others to be wrong. They create conspiracy theories wherein ‘main stream scholars’ are denying the possibility that Jesus could be completely a myth without themselves coming to acknowledge that they are sitting in the same boat. Their once refusal to acknowledge scholarship which denied their views of faith have been replaced with the denial of the same scholars who now deny their refusal of faith.

Some will point to the ‘plagiarism’ of the Christ and other pagan myths, citing, for example, Christmas. Glenn has the answer to that. For those who need critical scholarship to handle baseless skepticism of the Godfrey-Carr-Huller kind, you can check out these posts here.

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30 Replies to “More Mythicist Tripe”

  1. In all honesty, I cannot take this kind of thing seriously. If there are those who think they are being all daring and scholarly by asking the question, “Did Jesus exist?”, let them. That's fine. It's really a stupid question. Do Buddhists ask if Siddhartha existed? Do Muslims inquire in to the existence of Mohammed? Of course not. Why should anyone take this kind of thing seriously?

  2. the sad truth is, neil and the rest of them need for there to be no god so profoundly that they will leap any logical boundary to achieve it to their own satisfaction.

    it's they why, though, that's really interesting. they need there to be no god because they know what awaits them if there is.

    atheism is self preservation (even as self annihilation) taken to its logical conclusion.

  3. Perhaps all the records were christianised Robert. It was only after his death and the experiences had by a few disciples that a movement grew. And the early traditions like Mark are far too Jewish for all that parallelomania.

  4. Steph, the records of the life of Jesus were interpreted – I think all can agree – by his earliest followers, just as they are done today. That doesn't mean that he didn't exist, and I think you gave a well reasoned response to an unreasonable contribution to the ignorance of humanity.

  5. McGrath (I believe, if I remember correctly) compares the position taken by Neil to those taken by Creationists. It is a necessity to keep their (lack of) faith alive

  6. I did like the link to McGrath's posts.

    This is 'pass the parcel' argumentation. Unable to produce evidence, simply pass the parcel and give a reference to something else that has no evidence.

    But, there is nothing in the parcel that is being passed around…..

  7. let's face it, arguing with atheists like avalos and godfrey and the rest of the angry mob is like spitting into a well and making a wish. nothing comes of it. anyway, i've pointed out their pointlessness in an essay appearing soon.

  8. I was simply pointing out that the Emperor had no New Clothes.

    Hence your inability to cut and paste an argument from these alleged refutations on McGrath's site.

    You can't cut and paste something which isn't there!

  9. This wasn't about 'cut and paste' Steve, just commenting on the inability of some to break away from fundamentalism of any stripe. You can't even understand that?

  10. I cannot speak for everyone who doubts the historicity of Jesus, but I actually could not care less whether Jesus was real or not. I have been an agnostic for many years and it never bothered me at all to think that there was an actual historical Jesus about whom some things could be known with confidence. As a result of reading the work of historicists, however, I came to see how difficult it is to isolate the historical Jesus from the mythical Jesus with any degree of confidence; so difficult in fact that I cannot escape the conclusion that the historical Jesus may be irretrievable for all practical purposes. That Jesus might be entirely mythical is to me simply another point on the spectrum; an intriguing possibility, but not one that affects my world view.

    It seems to me to be a relatively small step from “the historical Jesus may be irretrievable” to “the historical Jesus may be nonexistent,” but it is a step that generates a disproportionately antagonistic reaction. A comment I make about irretrievability may lead to a perfectly civil exchange of ideas, but if I tweak that comment just a little so that it suggests nonexistence, I am suddenly vilified as a member of the lunatic fringe.

  11. Vinny, there is a large difference, in my opinion, between irretrievable and nonexistent. Have you read some of Sander's work? The fact is, is that we do have the historical Jesus represented in the Gospels, although interpreted by even eyewitnesses.

    Wish I could respond more, but I am on the way out the door. I hope others can do so

  12. I don't see the need to impugn motives. If Neil is wrong, explain why. All this stuff like McGrath's flippantly insulting (and obvious well-poisoning) tactic of lumping the Jesus-as-myth idea in with creationism and these accusations of “fundamentalist atheism” and the “deep need” to deny the historicity of Jesus are ad hominem. They are specious arguments that do not address the content of the claims and arguments that are made, by Neil on Vridar, and by others outside the NT-studies guild.

    Frankly, it smacks of a level of discomfort that would be surprising if all parties here were really trying to arrive at a dispassionate answer to a question that is fraught with ambiguities.

  13. Doherty published the jesus puzzle in 1999. It took 10 years to publish the expanded version, a whole new book, in 2009. There will be a proper refutation of the mythicist view in 2 years, simultaneous to another academic work on sources.

  14. CJ, it seems that you are already poisoned against common sense and rationality. The idea of lumping Creationists in with the 'Jesus-mythers' is not a new creation, nor is the idea that once fundamentalist Christians who turn atheists keep their baggage with them.

    The silly notions of Neil and others who comfort themselves with the idea that Jesus is a myth has been refuted time and time again.

  15. I cannot wait to see the other academic work, Steph. These, for a lack of better words, conspiracy theories will abound for some time, as the internet has democratized academia and lowered the threshold of truth; however, with good academic work, we can at least point them to it.

  16. If I am “poisoned” if some “keep baggage” if Neil “comforts himself” and I accept all those imprecations only for the sake of the argument, none of that says anything about the truth or lack thereof of the arguments being made.

    “the idea that Jesus is a myth has been refuted time and time again.”

    Yeah, I hear that a lot. What I don't hear are detailed outlines of where and how that refutation has been acheived without dismissive insults standing in for responsible scholarly disagreement and without the circular reasoning whereby a literary tradition has been analyzed for historical content under the unargued assumption that its constituitive narratives refer to some actual historical figure. It seems I have two years to wait. You'll forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

  17. Tell me, C.J., what exactly would it take? There are plenty of refutations, but if you refuse to believe then, or you keep raising the threshold of evidence, then you again become the sole judge of truth.

  18. To be fair, there are no proper up to date refutations. On the creationist thing, the two have a similar methodological approach.

  19. It would be nice if there were a book that responded as comprehensively to mythicism as Coyne's Why Evolution Is True or Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution respond to creationism. I keep hearing that it has been refuted but I find it hard to track down the arguments and evidence.

  20. yup – and can you believe, books like that take two years to write. It is comprehensive as a proper refutation should be, and blogs aren't the place for refuting a worldview especially when the audience doesn't want to listen, forgets what you said and calls you names and compares you to a vampire. 🙂

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