Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sorry I've been slow to post lately, but it just seems like there hasn't been anything good to blog about lately. Still, I do have two upcoming articles on DB Skeptic, one to be released in about two and a half weeks and the other in about four and a half weeks.
Also, someone by the name of "Samuel Jaxon" wrote a new, but rather short, review of my book: "Atheism and Naturalism is a very useful book for students I must say."
I wish he had written more, but I still rejoice in the fact that I have had nothing but good feedback for it. So check it out and download it, it's only $2.99
Also, I've just finished up reading "The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man" by Bob Price and I must say: It is excellent!! I don't feel like writing a review, at least not now, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the book. It's a book anyone interested in early Christianity ought to read.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
This is a must read for anyone fascinated by the symbolism and mythology in the gospel accounts. My favorite parts were:
* Comparison of a buddhist legend to Matthew's story of Peter walking on water. Apparently there was an old story about a disciple of Buddha who began meditating on the Buddha and walked on water. He came out of his meditation, saw the waves and became frightened, and sank. He then regained his meditation and was again able to walk on water. (p.81) This may sound incredible that the early Christians would have known about a Buddhist legend, however, Helms informs us that there were Buddhist missionaries telling this tale in the middle east as early as the second-century BCE.
* Comparison of Jesus' raising of Lazarus to an Osirus myth. Apparently "Lazarus" the greek form of the Hebrew "Eleazar" is similar to the Jewish form of Osirus (El-Osirus). Both Lazarus and Osirus are raised after 4 days, one in Bethany and the other in Anu (Which is semitized as "Beth-annu"). There are several other similarities between the stories, though I am not sure they are meaningful. The similarities presented here are intriguing, but not conclusive.
* Helms' incite (p.128) that the tearing of the temple curtain at Jesus' death is symbolic: The curtain was of the place called the Holy of Holies, where God was thought to dwell. When the temple curtain was torn, the division between man and God was broken. Helms doesn't quite put it like this, but this what I take from what he wrote.
Helms has many other fascinating viewpoints, and I can't list them all here. Overall he does a great job of showing how nearly all of the gospel stories come from the Old Testament. I give it a 90 out of 100.
The Historical Evidence for Jesus by G. A. Wells
The good aspects of Wells' book is that it is highly educational about why certain books of the bible are not accepted as authentic. His chapter on the "shroud of turin" is likewise very educational (if not a bit outdated, he wrote this in 1988 before carbon-14 tests had been done on the artifact).
Wells' thesis is not that the earliest Christians disbelieved in a historical Jesus, but that they did not believe Jesus had lived recently. As evidence for this, he cites the Apostle Paul's silence about Pilate and his complete silence about anything that would clearly place Jesus in the first century CE. To those who argue that Paul's silence would not matter because those to whom he was writing already knew about all this, he stresses how often Paul speaks of Christ's death by crucifixion.
There is, however, a critical problem with Wells' thesis: Paul's reference in Galatians 1:19 to James, the "brother of the Lord". On pages 167-174 Wells attempts to explain this. He cites a scholar writing in 1927 (!) who suggested that the phrase "brother of the Lord" might have referred to a "zealous sect" of Christians. He explains away the reference in Mark to Jesus' brothers as a pious lie intended to combat Docetism by giving Jesus brothers in order to emphasize his fleshly existence. He later argues that the only prominent James in the church was "James the son of Zebedee" and not anyone referred to as a brother of the Lord (the book of Acts never names James as a brother of the Lord). As further support for his position, he points us to Matthew 28:8-10, in which Jesus calls the disciples his 'brethren'.
I must say I don't find this completely convincing. I think that perhaps if one took Mark as being allegorical, then the argument could be strengthened. But Wells does not take this view, and so I do not find his particular formulation of mythicism to be convincing.
Overall I view Wells' case as being very weak, although his book was a decent read. I'd give it a 70 out of 100.
Don't forget that I'm still planning on reviewing Jesus: A Very Jewish Myth (I've already read it) and I'm also planning to review The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man by Robert Price as soon as I read it.
I've also tentatively decided not to enter the Jesus Mythicist contest, on the grounds that the preliminary research I've done has made me realize that I may not have the skills to interpret these ancient works.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I must take issue with one thing: They deleted my introduction to the review. I emailed someone at II, and hopefully this will be fixed soon. In the meantime, I'm posting the introduction here:
This is a review of “More than a Theory” by Dr. Hugh Ross. Ross’ goal in writing this book is to present a “testable creation model”. My goal in writing this response is to challenge the arguments he makes and point out potential and/or actual problems with it. Although it would be impossible for me to point out all problems I see in his book, I think it would be pertinent to the evolution/creation debate to point out the most serious ones.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I also ordered "The Historical Evidence for Jesus" by GA Wells and it should be at my house next week. Finally, I'm bidding (at eBay) on Robert Price's book "The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man" so I may read that (if I win the auction).
Also, as of now I'm reading Randel Helms' "Gospel Fictions" which, although it does not advocate mythicism, still inadvertently supports mythicism by showing how much symbolism and fiction lie behind the gospel accounts.
Last but not least, I'm planning to read two books when they come out: The Jesus Puzzle (Second Edition) by Earl Doherty, which he informs me will be out in August/September of this year, and "On the Historicity of Jesus Christ" by Richard Carrier (no date set).
Friday, July 10, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
A successful religion needs to have the qualities of a successful virus. In a changing environment, this means it must have the ability to mutate and adapt. In the past, religions spread largely by edict and conquest. This is how Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and into the Americas. Today, though, religion is perceived as an individual choice and religions must gain share by proselytizing or attracting adherents. For any religion to grow now, it must be something that people are motivated to transmit to each other one on one or in small groups. This is why, today, the religions that are gaining mindshare are those that have strong proselytizing mandates and high birthrates. In the current environment, Christianity has been able to produce offshoots that need no edict or conquest.
Significantly, the religions that are growing right now are ones with strong copy-me commands. Evangelical Christianity is centered on what Christians call the Great Commission: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost." In addition, just as the Roman church latched onto the strategy of competitive breeding (keep women home, sanctify a high birth rate), so Evangelicals have begun to explicitly add this form of copy-me command to the mix.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Mythicists’ Forum, a consortium of New Testament scholars, together with American Atheists, Inc.,are pleased to announce the 2010 Mythicist Prize.
THE PRIZE:The sum of $1,000 (U.S.) will be awarded to the author of a submitted essay which, in the opinion of the judges, sheds light on the origins of Christianity and, at the same time, supports the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist.
ELIGIBILITY:Anyone is eligible to submit an essay.The prizewinning contribution will be published in 2010, along with submissions of distinction which merit an Honorable Mention.The publisher will be announced at the time of the award.
SUBMISSION:Contestants are limited to one essay each. Three copies of the work should be mailed in one package to:
2010 Mythicist Prize
386 E. 29th AvenueEugene,
DEADLINES FOR RECEIPT OF SUBMISSIONS:From the U.S.A.: Dec. 1, 2009.From other countries: Dec. 15, 2009.
LANGUAGE OF SUBMISSION:Essays must be written in one of the following languages:English, German, French, Italian, Spanish.
JUDGES:René Salm, Robert M. Price, Frank R. Zindler, Earl Doherty.The decision of the judges is final.The prizewinner will be announced at the 2010 American Atheist National Convention.(Note: If no submission is deemed worthy of receiving the Mythicist Prize, then the prize will not be awarded.)
FORMAT:Essays must be 30–100 pages in length and double-spaced. Submissions should preferably be printed (or typed) on both sides of the paper. Footnotes or endnotes are permissible and a bibliography is required. Pages are to be numbered, with the author’s name and the title of the essay on each page. Also, the author’s name, address, as well as email should appear on the first or cover page. Submissions via email and digital files on computer disk are not permitted, but contributors should be prepared to supply a digital copy of their essay if requested.
For further information, please write to “2010 Mythicist Prize” at the address above,or email Mr. René Salm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
"A good concise overview of atheism and naturalism. Not too much detail is provided, but lots of good online and offline references are given for those wanting to delve deeper. Gives good arguments for those wanting to debate Christians. A book well worth the cost and time spent."
Also, don't forget to tune into Infidel Guy tonight at 7:00 EST for the latest show: "Jonathan Rowe, from PositiveLiberty.com, will be our guest to discuss the faith of the founding fathers and how both the secular left and religious right propagate myths about their beliefs."
Don't worry: If you're viewing this after the show has aired, just go to infidelguy.com and you should be able to listen to it on the player.