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More About Me


Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

Found 1 result

  1. Jesus From Outer Space I have finally got around to reading my copy of Richard Carrier’s superb book Jesus from Outer Space: What the Earliest Christians Really Believed about Christ, published in 2020. It is a brilliant book, vividly showing through rigorous historical analysis how Christian faith rests entirely upon the psychological comfort of emotional fantasy, not historical evidence. I do have my criticisms of Carrier, which I will come to, but the overall assessment is that his work utterly demolishes all claims that Jesus Christ was a real historical person. Jesus was a fictional myth. Exactly how that myth arose is something that requires debate, but insisting Jesus was real puts any contributor outside the boundaries of evidence, logic and historical method. I will use this thread to provide page by page commentary on Jesus From Outer Space, and would welcome conversation here about it. The idea that Jesus was real is in fact the central myth of Christianity, which is why this story is so resilient against evidence and logic. Many people are concerned that the whole edifice of Christian faith would come crashing down if people were to admit that the story of Jesus was a complete fake and fraud. I disagree with that view, as I explain in my analysis of the role of astronomy in the construction of the myth of Jesus, an analysis that differs from Carrier’s ‘outer space’ explanation. The Christian convention is that ‘he came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all’, as the Christmas Carol Once In Royal David's City helpfully summarises. Carrier suggests this story of the descent from heaven means what modern people would understand as that Jesus was a space alien who descended through the seven heavens which physically were thought to surround our planet. I will come back to discuss this further. For now I will just present some thoughts that come to me in response to reading Jesus From Outer Space. These are not Carrier's arguments, but it seems to me they provide essential context to explain why his historical analysis is so pertinent and important. A key issue in my view is that admitting that Jesus was invented is essential to bring Christianity into sensible dialogue with rational people, so that the moral content of Christian faith can gain some credibility and legitimacy. At the moment such dialogue does not exist, because Christians are so intransigent and impervious about their insistence that the Gospels are historical, a claim that Carrier proves is false. Voltaire said that if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. I think the same can be said of Jesus, because of the perceived political need in Christendom for a universal anointed saviour to hold society together. But Christendom is now over, so we can look at the invention of Jesus with dispassionate rational historical method, as Carrier does so well. Saint Anselm proved the existence of God with the surprising Monty Python logic that a real God is better than a fake one, and therefore God exists. This argument stood triumphant against all criticism until the time of Kant, through the simple expedient of declaring any opposition to it heretical. Anselm’s view is not so much an argument from reason as from emotion. Exactly the same emotional comforting sense of social tribal unity emerges from the belief that a real Jesus is better than a fake one, so we better not admit Jesus might be fake. Calvin explained as the first point in the Tulip puritan theology that humanity is totally depraved. What could prove this psychological depravity more fully than the broad enduring psychological hold of the fictional fantasy of the Gospels on so many people, when rational analysis, of the type provided by Richard Carrier, shows that Christ is entirely a myth? Our emotional propensity to believe myths is well captured by Paul Simon, ‘a man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.’ I am now about halfway through Jesus From Outer Space. I would appreciate any responses to the above comments, and look forward to explaining Carrier’s argument in more detail.
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