Saturday, September 04, 2010

Richard Carrier On The Infidel Delusion

Richard Carrier has posted a response to The Infidel Delusion at his blog. I’ve replied in the comments section there.


  1. Your comment doesn't appear over there. Maybe it was removed or maybe Carrier has yet to approve it.

  2. I saw my comment there just after I posted it. Then it was gone shortly after that. I doubt that Carrier deleted it. It’s most likely a technical problem. (His blog was loading slowly for me. It's also possible that my post was removed because it was too long. I've seen that sort of thing happen before, though I don't recall seeing it happen with Blogger.) I saved a copy of my reply. I’ll post it below, then try reposting it at Carrier’s blog later today if it doesn’t appear again before then.

    Richard Carrier,

    Your references to “Christian crackpots” and such are inconsistent with what people like John Loftus and Ken Pulliam said in response to The Infidel Delusion. They disapproved of how “insulting” we were. Will they apply the same reasoning to your material? You’re not responsible for their beliefs and behavior, but readers should note the contrast between your standards and theirs.

    I don’t know where you get some of your summaries of what we’ve argued. You don’t provide any page numbers.

    In addition to making a lot of unsupported assertions, you burn some straw men. For example, you summarize our response to chapter 3 of The Christian Delusion with the following premise (among others):

    “If this is as true for atheism as for Christianity, then Christianity is not a delusion.”

    Where did we make that claim? I know that I didn’t make it, nor did it even enter my mind. And I doubt that any of the other contributors intended to suggest it in the unqualified sense you’re implying.

    Here’s another one of your summaries of what we’ve allegedly said:

    “If the Bible is unclear about many crucial and important things a God should want us to know, then it is unclear about anything and everything it says.”

    Again, where did we say that? I know I haven’t said it.

    (continued below)

  3. (continued from above)

    You write:

    “Since Price in Chapter 10 of TCD nowhere argues that Jesus didn't exist as a historical figure, this objection to his chapter is wildly irrational.”

    Actually, your response is irrational. I cited Price’s minority views in the context of addressing The Christian Delusion’s appeals to scholarly majorities. I didn’t suggest that Price had argued against Jesus’ existence in the book.

    You go on:

    ”Ironically, it is an example of the very delusional behavior demonstrated by Tarico and Long: by rebutting a weak argument, the Triablogue authors assume the strong argument has also been refuted, when in fact it has not.”

    You’re the one who just “rebutted a weak argument”, since you misrepresented the argument you were responding to. And I didn’t suggest that Price’s acceptance of minority views proves that “the strong argument has also been refuted”.

    You write:

    ” So here we have what ‘the vast majority of modern scholarship’ actually says being cited as grounds to reject what ‘the vast majority of modern scholarship’ actually says. That's nearly the most irrational thing I've ever seen.”

    First of all, if you still have the issue of Jesus’ existence in mind, then the two “vast majorities” in question are significantly different in size. Evangelicals and others who hold a similarly high view of the Bible are a minority, but not nearly as small a minority as those who deny Jesus’ existence.

    Secondly, and more significantly, it’s not irrational to cite an author’s acceptance of minority positions in response to his book’s appeal to majorities. You haven’t demonstrated that it’s irrational. Rather, you’ve asserted it. As I said in The Infidel Delusion, “Scholarly majorities do have some significance. But the rejection of majority opinion on some issues by the authors of The Christian Delusion should remind us of how limited that significance is even from their perspective.” (p. 145) Would you explain how that’s irrational, let alone “nearly the most irrational thing [you've] ever seen”?

  4. I think it's telling that two of the people who debunk the Bible support the Jesus Myth. Insofar as we are being asked to trust their scholarship, to accept their authority, this is a problem. If one thinks the Birther challenge to Obama's birth certificate is wildly implausible, or insofar as you might think the Truther challenge to the claim that we really were attacked by terrorists on 9/11 was an inside job, then attempts to persuade us of other things on their authority is damaged. (I don't want to adjudicate either of those claims here, but I am just using them as examples). Similarly, insofar as I think, as I certainly do, that the "myther" position has no plausibility, then essays from people who are "mythers" lose authority.

    Of course, this becomes ad hominem if I can evaluate their arguments, but refuse to do so because of they're mythers. But, at least to some extent, these guys are standing on their authority as historians and Bible scholars, and insofar as they do that, their commitment to the Jesus myth affects their credibility.

  5. Well Victor, I guess you just don't understand the complexities of the Myther's historical scholarship.

    I mean the poor guys just cannot overcome that big scholarly conspiracy to keep them out of "mainstream scholarship". I can hear James D.G. Dunn, and E.P. Sanders discussing ways to keep these great scholars from ruining Orthodox Christianity. I mean with the likes of Carrier, Sapient, Price, and other Mythers producing so many volumes of B.S. the scholarly "establishment" must be terrified.