Does Richard Carrier Exist?

@dga471, you will appreciate this article.


What is the point of that article?

I’m not sure what was the intended point, since the author doesn’t seem to say. However, I thought it was good. So I saw a point in it.

I took it as questioning the kind of statistical methods of “proof” that Richard Carrier uses to support his mythicism.

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Yeah that would be my guess also. I just don’t see how it succeeds in doing that. Not that I am a mythicist, but it isn’t obvious to me how that article undermines Bayesian reasoning in historical inferences.

It does not seem like any good evidence for Carrier’s existence is dealt with besides testimony, such as video recordings. If you are deliberately excluding evidence in calculating the posterior of somebody’s existence, then you’re not undermining the method, you’re just using it wrongly, providing just another example of GIGO.

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I assumed that it was intended as humor. So I wasn’t concerned about the rigor of the argument.

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The article should have started with the line, "I’m rubber, you’re glue . . . ".

The whole Jesus mythicist stuff has always been meh, IMO. Atheists have long been bombarded with the argument that Jesus was a real person, so how can you not believe in God? I can understand why Christians might bristle at someone kicking the legs out from under that apologetic, and I can also see why some atheists might be drawn towards the idea that Jesus is a myth. However, mainline Christians aren’t that convinced by the fact that Joseph Smith was a real person, so the whole argument is a bit hollow to begin with. I would classify it as a red herring.


It’s satire @T_aquaticus :slight_smile:

Who does not agree that Joesph Smith was a real person?

I have come across the argument that if Jesus was a real person then the events described in the Gospel have to be real events. However, that logic is abandoned when it comes to Joseph Smith and the events he describes.

I’m not cinvinced it’s only or entirely meant as satire. Of course it is meant as satire to suggest Richard Carrier does not exist, but is it also totally in jest that the author implies a criticism of Bayesian historical inference? I can’t be alone in seeing an attempt at a serious point delivered in a humorous way.

It’s a bit too easy to set it up so you can make that excuse if someone takes the time to find issues with the treatment of the subject.

Show me an example of anyone claiming that Joseph Smith, not his stories but the man, is a myth. I’ve never seen such an example.

I don’t know of anyone who claims Joseph Smith is a myth. That’s not the point. From my previous post:

“I have come across the argument that if Jesus was a real person then the events described in the Gospel have to be real events.”

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Yes, that’s how I see it.

Funnier yet are the people in the comments section taking it seriously. :wink:


Well that’s a strange argument.

At issue here is that Carrier argues that Jesus was a myth, not that he was a real person who did not rise from the dead.

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Physicist/Cosmologist and Christian Luke Barnes contested Carrier’s use of Bayes:

Final Word on Richard Carrier | Letters to Nature

In what follows, I’ll consider Carrier’s claims about the mathematical foundations of probability theory. What Carrier says about probability is at odds with every probability textbook (or lecture notes) I can find… As such, Carrier cannot borrow the results and standing of modern probability theory. Until he has completed his revolution and published a rigorous mathematical account of Carrierian probability theory , all of his claims about probability are meaningless.

One commenter said after reading Luke’s response to Carrier:

I used to be a fan of Richard Carrier. Before Carrier’s book PH was published, I was excited about the idea of BT being used to argue for historical probability. However, after seeing numerous blunders by him on his blog and in his books, I have now come to regard Carrier as a quack historian.

Sal, can you explain the differences between Richard Carrier’s method of demonstrating that the probability of a historical Jesus is very small, and your method of demonstrating that the probability of abiogenesis is very small?

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Sal, can you explain the differences between Richard Carrier’s method of demonstrating that the probability of a historical Jesus is very small, and your method of demonstrating that the probability of abiogenesis is very small?

I wish I could say more about Carrier’s methods, but I really haven’t studied Bayes’ theorem that much nor Carrier’s take on it.

The issue with probability of abiogenesis being small isn’t a creationist/ID claim, it is a well-known problem starting with George Wald, the 1966 Wistar Convention, Koonin’s claim of multiple universes, and for that matter considerations of the Gibbs Free energy.

This is an important enough issue that I’m going to start a thread on it soon.

Apologies that I have nothing on Carrier. He’s lost respect of peers even in the atheist community, and he is indeed regarded as a quack historian by other historians, many of whom are agnostics or atheists.

I would agree. I don’t know of any university that would hire him. He’s got a solid PhD but he’s basically on the outside of the academy looking in. He has a following—and that helps gets him some debates, such as with Bill Craig. (I’m cautious about applying the term “crackpot”, but for someone who has a valid history PhD to espouse Jesus mythicism is too close to unforgivable flat-earthing and moon-landing denialism territory for my taste. It makes me wonder if it is just a gimmick to get noticed and build a career.)

I remember some years ago when the atheist turned deist Anthony Flew wrote a book about his change of mind. Carrier spread the claim online that Flew’s book was mostly written by Flew’s co-author-colleague and that it misrepresented his actual position. I recall some of his insinuations that the very elderly Flew was no longer fully “aware” of what was in the book and that it didn’t reliably reflect Flew’s thoughts. That angered Dr. Flew considerably and he immediately issued a public statement through his publisher stating that his name was on the book because he co-wrote it, and that it accurately described his intellectual path out of atheism. Carrier’s conduct in the entire matter was not looked at favorably by anybody I knew in the academy. I considered it extremely insulting towards Flew.

I won’t even start on Robert Price or I’ll get in a bad mood. I had some interesting experiences with mythicist Price back in the 1990’s because of his participation in the Jesus Project. Robert Funk, the J.P founder, used to get a twinkle in his eye when people would question some of his choices for Jesus Project participants. Bob was a showman of sorts and knew how to get media attention and funding. Dr. Funk was certainly an outstanding scholar but I couldn’t necessarily say that for everyone on the Jesus Project. They included outliers and even dilettantes, such as oddball non-academics like Paul Verhoeven, who will be remembered for Starship Troopers, Robocop, Showgirl, Basic Instinct, and other films.

Robert Price and Richard Carrier make an interesting pair of campaigners for the Jesus mythicist cause.