Hambydammit from the rational response squad and John Loftus from debunking christianity have gotten into it over Jesus mythicism. You see, Loftus has continued believing in and defending the theory that there was a real man named Jesus who began the Christian faith, while others, such as Richard Carrier, have gradually been persuaded to believe that Jesus was a spiritual being, like an angel, and was to the earliest Christians what Hercules was to the Greeks: A poetic allegory. A fiction. Anyway, here is something Loftus said which I found intriguing:
"I fear my friend Carrier could become marginalized as a scholar if he doesn't make a strong case [for Jesus mythicism]... His scholarship is too good for that and for our cause. If he becomes marginalized people will write him off and his credibility will be in need or repair."
This got me wondering: Why are the people who study Christianity so dogmatic as to write some one off permanently for having an idea they disagree with? Sure, maybe its wrong. Sure, maybe its stupid. But why would Carrier's support of a bad theory permanently ruin his reputation? I'll tell you why: Most of the people who study Christianity are Christians, and if Jesus is a myth then their cherished religion is over. Well, call me a fool but I don't think trying to break this dogma would be a bad thing if it came at the cost of "losing respect" amongst the likes of Gary Habermas or even the Jesus Seminar (They just have a liberal theological agenda, they want to bring Jesus into the 21st century, but that is a subject for another time).
Now, I can agree with Loftus that atheists may be better off accepting the historicity of Jesus for the sake of argument, whether one believes in Jesus or not. But Loftus seems to think that this issue shouldn't be brought up in academia so that we gain street cred with moderate christians and then, before they know what hit 'em, nail 'em within the acceptable parameters of debate they've chosen. They may write off Jesus mythicism, so let's steer clear of that, and instead portray Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet. That's something intellectual that the moderates could at least hear, so let's go that route.
I don't agree with that. Sure, in a debate you can accept the historicity of Jesus as a given and show that the arguments still don't hold up, but as a historian should you pretend like Jesus exists if you suspect he didn't? No, and not even to win over the moderate christians.
This is where Loftus has gone wrong. From what he has written elsewhere, it seems that he thinks the Jesus mythicist position is some kind of gargantuan effort to once and for all destroy Christian apologetics. But it isn't: Neither Carrier, nor Robert Price, nor any of the other academic mythicists use it as an end-all argument against Christianity. The intellectual, philosophical, scientific and historical arguments for Christianity are dead in the water, and have been for a long time.
What historians like Carrier are seeking is to understand more about the man, or myth, who has affected so much of civilization. And they came up with a different answer about Jesus than the modern day admirers. Go figure.