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More About Me

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

Found 2 results

  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.
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCS21bI1arg&feature=c4-overview&list=UUUKpV1m_1VZc4JjbxhGwl0A Error - I forgot to add the narrative as I did with the previous one. Apologies. Anyway: Carrier, Richard (2011-02-28). Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith (pp. 67-68). Philosophy Press. Kindle Edition. When we look at how the universe is actually built, we do find that it appears perfectly designed after all—but not for producing life. Lee Smolin has argued from the available scientific facts that our universe is probably the most perfect universe that could ever be arranged for producing black holes. He also explains how all the elements that would be required to finely tune a perfect black-hole-maker also make chemical life like ours an extremely rare but inevitable byproduct of such a universe. This means that if the universe was designed, it was not designed to make and sustain us, but to make and sustain black holes, and therefore even if there is a God he cannot be the Christian God. Therefore, even on a successful fine-tuning argument C Smolin explains how a universe perfectly designed to produce black holes would look exactly like our universe. It would be extremely old, extremely large, and almost entirely comprised of radiation-filled vacuum, in which almost all the matter available would be devoted to producing black holes or providing the material that feeds them. We know there must be, in fact, billions more black holes than life-producing planets. If you found a pair of scissors and didn’t know what they were designed for, you could hypothesize they were designed as a screwdriver, because scissors can, after all, drive screws.(describe my own use of them) In fact, there is no way to design a pair of scissors that would prevent them being used as a screwdriver. But as soon as someone showed you that these scissors were far better designed to cut paper, and in fact are not the best design for driving screws, would you stubbornly hang on to your theory that they were designed to drive screws? No. You would realize it was obvious they were designed to cut paper, and their ability to drive screws is just an inevitable byproduct of their actual design. This is exactly what we are facing when we look at the universe: it is not very well designed for life, though life is an inevitable byproduct of what the universe was more obviously designed for: black holes. So if the universe was intelligently designed, it clearly was not designed for us. But that is not the only explanation. Now, Smolin’s theory has yet to be proven. It is at present just a hypothesis—but so is Christianity. Just like Christianity, there are elements to Smolin’s theory that are conjectural and not independently proven to exist. However, the most important element—the fact that unintelligent natural selection can produce incredibly precise fine tuning over time—has been proven, whereas any sort of divine activity has not. We have never observed a single proven case of a god causing anything, much less any fine-tuning of the properties of our universe. But we have found overwhelming evidence for a process that produces very amazing fine-tuning without any intelligence behind it, and that is evolution by natural selection. This is a known precedent—unlike bodiless minds or divine causation. And a theory based on known precedents is always less ad hoc than a theory based on completely novel and unobserved mechanisms. The universe exhibits no values in its own operation or design. It operates exactly the same for everyone, the good and bad alike. It rewards and craps on both with total disregard. It behaves just like a cold and indifferent machine, not the creation of a loving engineer. Christianity does not predict this. Atheism does. Christianity is therefore refuted.
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