Dave and I spend a lot of time trying to dispel myths about philosophy, that it is dead, and common atheist statements and the like. It’s one of the reasons we do the podcast and have started doing these videos.
Tonight we are joined by another atheist who has similar troubles, except instead of philosophy he is trying to dispel myths about history, so may I introduce Tim O’Niell, who runs ‘History for Atheists’
We cover a number of topics like his inspiration to do his blog, how reliable ancient history is etc. Then we got in to the topic of Jesus Mythicism which took up most of the time.
I personally looked into this a bit, some sources seem weaker than others, watched a few documentaries on this in the past, and basically concluded that Yeshua the man was likely a real person causing troubles at the time, later mythicised, potentially an amalgamation of characters.
Tim confirms this isn’t a bad estimation but goes in deeper about Jesus as an apocalyptic preacher. for more info, check: https://historyforatheists.com/category/jesus-mythicism/
The audience had a few questions at this point.
We briefly cover other folks with big claims or inconsistencies for example: If you consider other parts of history, we can look back to ancient Greece
- We don’t even know if Socrates definitely existed, or at least if all accounts of him are accurate.
Within Plato’s works, we see the way he is written to be slightly different, so it is likely Plato spoke of the real Socrates at the start and then used him later as a character to get his point across.
- Pythagoras was thought to be a god, that doesn’t mean the man didn’t exist, in fact, he had quite a bit of impact on the world.
We do not say because he was not a god he didn’t exist.
We extract the truth from the mythology In both of these cases, it’s generally accepted by all these folks existed, even though there is a large claim of Pythagoras being a god, and other stories from ancient Greece have those heroes of legend ETC – we seem to have extracted the myths from the facts, so why do we think folks don’t do the same with books like the bible?
Questions from the audience
At this stage, we address a number of questions from the audience sent in beforehand, as well as a few others that came in whilst live on air. Below is a list of the questions from folks sent in beforehand, but more came in from the audience on air.
- Kriss read an article from Richard Carrier that said the ‘Gnostics’ never existed and it is just an invention given by modern scholars – how much truth is there to this? https://www.richardcarrier.info/archi…
- Josh has a few questions:
How can we say religious texts provide reliable enough information to support serious belief?
Let’s say more than just the existence of a person, or a battle, or a city. How do we know these stories aren’t exaggeration, conflation, and legend?
What kind of confidence do you [Tim] hold with different historical accounts?
What about the Quran and NT do you [Tim] find historical and what about them do you find unreliable and unbelievable?
- Alex has noted that you and Richard Carrier seem to not get on, why is that?
- And a few more that came in during the live stream.
Tim also mentioned some book recommendations.
- The Warfare between Science and Religion: The Idea That Wouldn’t Die: https://amzn.to/3ithulh
- Galileo goes to jail and other myths about science and religion: https://amzn.to/33E1XJx
- The New Atheism, Myth, and History: The Black Legends of Contemporary Anti-Religion: https://amzn.to/35DVpNg
- Jesus apocalyptic prophet of the new millennium: https://amzn.to/2FytcfQ
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