Monday, February 16, 2015

What? RIchard Carrier calls me a liar? Well, I never!

I have, I think, written a review of RIchard Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus that not only refutes that book, but turns the facts Carrier misfocuses on into premises towards a very different (and for Carrier distasteful) conflusion: that the gospels are actually pretty believable records.  I own scholarly credentials as relevant to the subject as Carrier's own.  I described ten concrete and major errors with his book, in concrete detail.  Most people who have read my review on Amazon have agreed it is helpful -- 89 of 144 votes, so far.  As a former debate partner, one would think Richard Carrier would want to answer my critique of his long-awaited epic argument. 

But no, apparently he's too busy with other things, such as critiquing an Amazon review by one Ramos, to be distracted. 

Carrier did, however, "explain" why he was not planning to answer my critique.   Since he makes a number of new false accusations against me in those comments (it being easier for him to attack the messenger rather than deal with the message, apparently), let's consider his ad hominem attacks here. 

"He is famous for writing absurdly long rants that barely contact logic or reality. It is rarely worth the bother of fisking them. They tend to be so awful as to be manifestly self-refuting."

Carrier errs with his first three words -- "he is famous."  No, I'm not.  And no, I don't "rant."  I argue, using both logic and plenty of evidence, as can be seen by quickly scanning any of my rebuttals of Carrier here at Christ the Tao.  Carrier is lying, perhaps because he cares more about the effect of his words on his disciples, than he does about their truth. 

As for "awful" and "self-refuting," again, empty bombast without the trace of interest in reality. 

Carrier claimed that Christianity usually  "spread by the sword."  See my article here "Did Christianity Spread by the Sword."   ( analyzed a dozen separate historical periods, showing that that claim was only true in small part for two of them.  No rants, just detailed historical facts.  Carrier did not reply, unless this vacuous smear is his reply. He really can't, because what I said was true (among others, I cite a source Carrier himself cites for demographic information on the early spread of Christianity)/   Plus  he evidently doesn't know much about Christian history. 

Carrier claimed that other ancient texts share "all the characteristics of the gospels,"  I showed in detail that they do not.  (See "HIstoricity Index and the FIngerprints of Jesus" here.)  The very texts Carrier frivolously cited to make this case, share only a fraction of the most historically-crucial traits that the gospels share in common.  What Carrier ends up doing, is showing just how hard it is to find anything remotely like a parallel to the gospels.

Again, I did not "rant," nor were my arguments in any sense "self-refuting" or "awful."  (If I am really that bad, why have my books been warmly endorsed by some of the world's leading scholars in a variety of fields, including at schools like Baylor, Duke, Marquette, Oxford, Penn State, and Yale?)  Carrier really does not seem to care whether the slurs he spews bare any relationship to the truth, or not. 

And he goes on:

"If I find the time I’ll take a look, but based on past experience, it’s probably a waste of time. He will just write something ten times longer and insist you can't respond.   Then you respond and he'll write something a hundred times longer and insist you can't respond.  And so on, ad infinitum. WHy bother, when what he writes is so obvioiusly false no one needs me to point it out in the first place?"

You're so full of baloney, Richard.  When you make a false claim like "Christianity spread overwhelmingly by the sword," of course that lie takes not ten times, not a hundred times, but a thousand times as much cyberink to adequately evaluate.  Yet during our debate, you CHALLENGED those who listened to NOT be satisfied with our short contretemps, but to SEEK OUT THE FACTS, to read the ancient texts we cite.  Then you went all over crowing about your alleged victory in those few minutes on stage, falsely claiming that I had made that claim (I never did, and you never admitted the falsity of your allegation).  And now you have the gall to complain that I took your challenge seriously, and analyzed your historical claims in detail!

What a blowhard.

Of course the shoe is on the other foot.  Far from "obvioiusly false," my claims are solidly based in scholarship and are sensible.  I am careful to proportion my claims to the evidence.   That are no doubt among the reasons my books get better reviews from serious scholars than Carrier's tomes do.

Refuting the likes of Carrier, Avalos, Loftus, Pagels, Dawkins, Dennett, Ehrman, Law, and so on is not what I do for a living. It's a hobby: I have bigger fish to fry elsewhere.  My new book, How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test, is part of that.  But as C. S. Lewis put it, we need good philosophy, if for no other reason because bad philosophy exists.   Same with good history.   Plus it's fun to analyze these books -- it's faith-building to find that's the best the skeptics seem able to put on the table. 

"But I welcome anyone else who wants to expose his lies, distortions, and fallacies. Have at him there! I would count it a favor."

I do not "lie," sir.  As for the "favor," over 400 posts follow my review of your failure of an opus magnus on Amazon -- many quite shrill, but not a single one refuting me successfully at any point.  A very few points are weakly contested (most are not), but then give way to vitriol when the author of those arguments apparently thinks to himself, "What Would Richard Do?"

I hope this post is sufficiently concise for Richard's satisfaction: a mere three or four times the length of his original false claims, instead of the usual 10 to 100 times.  Better lie about me than about Christian history, Richard -- those lies take less time to refute. 


Laura said...

Carrier is a wingnut conspiracy theorist!
See, I can make ad hom's too, Richard!

I can't resist the temptation to point out that his belief that Jesus, the human being did not exist, puts him in the far fringe according to experts. Historians who specialize in ancient history and even Bart Ehrman soundly reject the mythicist hypothesis.
I know you already know this, David. Good job providing solid, logical, and well-researched arguments. If he's got facts on his side, then he could effortlessly refute them. Apparently, it requires him to actually do some hard work. It's too far over his head.

Anonymous said...

Carrier at least is intellectually honest, Marshall is not. Marshall, how much more childish can you be to turn this into a popularity contest on Amazon? Ooooh, 89 of 144, I've got goosebumps. Is doesn't matter for me if Jesus existed or not: the horrible message is still the same, and you, Marshall, are guilty of perpetuating and defending delusions and lies.

Anonymous said...

Carrier is not intellectually honest. He spent years before receiving his doctorate arguing that his misunderstanding of Bayesian reasoning ("Bayes' theorem") is the only method for historical analysis. He used this powerful tool of mathematical nonsense in his two latest books and countless talks (Bayesian statistics isn't nonsense at all, but extremely powerful; it's Carrier's basic inability to understand simple probability theory). Did he use it in his dissertation, in which he uses the assumed historical existence of people we know only from a single inscription to make his point? No. Has he used it in any reputable journal? No (even in his paper on Josephus). He preaches a method he uses whenever it suits him. When he has to actually produce historical research, he trashes his own methodology because it is unusable garbage that relates to mathematical notions he clearly doesn't remotely understand.

David B Marshall said...

Scottie: Is calling me a "liar" really all you got? Because that itself is a lie. I make mistakes sometimes, but don't do lies. If that's the best you've got, you're not welcome here.

David B Marshall said...

Legion: Good point. But I think BT is Carrier's new toy. It got him a book, didn't it? But he doesn't really use it much, even in his two recent historical Jesus books. One can entirely ignore BT, without much effecting you read them.