richard-carrier

That someone would want another human being to suffer, or would even tolerate the idea, for committing no crime at all but being reasonable, is truly frightening. A religion that breeds such people is a genuine plague upon the earth.
—  Richard Carrier, “Sense and Goodness Without God.”
Similarly the “fine tuning” of the universe’s physical constants: that would be a great proof—if it wasn’t exactly the same thing we’d see if a god didn’t exist. If there is no god, we will only ever find ourselves in a universe finely tuned (in that case, by random chance), because without a god, there is no other kind of universe that can produce us. Likewise, a universe that produced us by chance would have to be enormously vast in size and enormously old, so as to have all the room to mix countless chemicals countless times in countless places so as to have any chance of accidentally kicking up something as complex as life. And that’s exactly the universe we see: one enormously vast in size and age. A godless universe would also only produce life rarely and sparingly, and that’s also what we see: by far most of the universe is lethal to life (being a deadly radiation filled vacuum) and by far most of the matter in the universe is lethal to life (constituting stars and black holes on which no life can ever live). Again, all exactly what we’d expect of a godless universe. Not what we’d expect of a god-made one.

Thus, we have exactly the universe we’d expect to have if there is no god. Whereas a god does not need vast trillions of star systems and billions of years to make life. He doesn’t need vast quantities of lethal space and deadly matter. Only a godless universe needs that. I make a more detailed survey of this kind of evidence in “Neither Life Nor the Universe Appear Intelligently Designed” in John Loftus’s The End of Christianity. It also does no good to say such a random accidental universe is improbable, because the convenient existence of a marvelously “super-omni” god is just as improbable. Either way you are assuming some amazing luck. Which leaves the evidence. And the evidence is just way more probable if there’s no god. Thus, we’re forced to choose between which lucky accident it was, and the evidence confirms the one and not the other.

Likewise, any other evidence you care to mention. It always pans out the same: the evidence actually looks exactly like what you would expect if there is no god, but not what you’d expect if there is. Again, it does no good to make excuses and propose that maybe a god has weird motives and desires to make all the evidence and all the universe look exactly like there is no god. Because that requires a wild leap of faith—and to no purpose, since such a god obviously will never do anything for us (as that would then contradict his intent to make the universe look godless) and would have to be an unconscionable psychopath (as it would require callously ignoring all the pointless suffering this behavior causes and allows) and thus on neither account would such a god be worth believing in, much less worshiping. And there is no evidence for such a weird god anyway.
—  Richard Carrier (Richard Carrier Interview)
… fears of what the “true moral facts” may turn out to be are as irrational as fears of what the “true facts” may turn out to be on the origin of life or the universe or any other subject whose true results may contradict your cherished beliefs. And it’s always irrational to reject empirically established facts and replace them with what you prefer to believe.
—  Richard Carrier
Why I'm Not a Christian, Richard Carrier

1. God is Silent

If God wants something from me, he would tell me. He wouldn’t leave someone else to do this, as if an infinite being were short on time. And he would certainly not leave fallible, sinful humans to deliver an endless plethora of confused and contradictory messages. God would deliver the message himself, directly, to each and every one of us, and with such clarity as the most brilliant being in the universe could accomplish. We would all hear him out and shout “Eureka!” So obvious and well-demonstrated would his message be. It would be spoken to each of us in exactly those terms we would understand. And we would all agree on what that message was. Even if we rejected it, we would all at least admit to each other, “Yes, that’s what this God fellow told me.”[2]

Excuses don’t fly. The Christian proposes that a supremely powerful being exists who wants us to set things right, and therefore doesn’t want us to get things even more wrong. This is an intelligible hypothesis, which predicts there should be no more confusion about which religion or doctrine is true than there is about the fundamentals of medicine, engineering, physics, chemistry, or even meteorology. It should be indisputably clear what God wants us to do, and what he doesn’t want us to do. Any disputes that might still arise about that would be as easily and decisively resolved as any dispute between two doctors, chemists, or engineers as to the right course to follow in curing a patient, identifying a chemical, or designing a bridge. Yet this is not what we observe. Instead, we observe exactly the opposite: unresolvable disagreement and confusion. That is clearly a failed prediction. A failed prediction means a false theory. Therefore, Christianity is false.

Typically, Christians try to make excuses for God that protect our free will. Either the human will is more powerful than the will of God, and therefore can actually block his words from being heard despite all his best and mighty efforts, or God cares more about our free choice not to hear him than about saving our souls, and so God himself “chooses” to be silent. Of course, there is no independent evidence of either this remarkable human power to thwart God, or this peculiar desire in God, and so this is a completely “ad hoc” theory: something just “made up” out of thin air in order to rescue the actual theory that continually fails to fit the evidence. But for reasons I’ll explore later, such “added elements” are never worthy of belief unless independently confirmed: you have to know they are true. You can’t just “claim” they are true. Truth is not invented. It can only be discovered. Otherwise, Christianity is just a hypothesis that has yet to find sufficient confirmation in actual evidence.

Be that as it may. Though “maybe, therefore probably” is not a logical way to arrive at any belief, let’s assume the Christian can somehow “prove” (with objective evidence everyone can agree is relevant and true) that we have this power or God has this desire. Even on that presumption, there are unsolvable problems with this “additional” hypothesis. Right from the start, it fails to explain why believers disagree. The fact that believers can’t agree on the content of God’s message or desires also refutes the theory that he wants us to be clear on these things. This failed prediction cannot be explained away by any appeal to free will–for these people have chosen to hear God, and not only to hear him, but to accept Jesus Christ as the shepherd of their very soul. So no one can claim these people chose not to hear God. Therefore, either God is telling them different things, or there is no God. Even if there is a God, but he is deliberately sowing confusion, this contradicts what Christianity predicts to be God’s desire, which entails Christianity is the wrong religion. Either way, Christianity is false…

Continue
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tl;dr
It seems obvious to me that the Freewill argument for God’s silence fails miserably as a half-baked post hoc excuse. How can we make a Freewill decision without clear choices? How does it protect our Freewill to hide from us? The Bible is chalk full of examples of God speaking to people directly, appearing to them in person, and performing miracles for them. Was he violating the Freewill of everyone in the old and New Testaments only to decide later on that he shouldn’t do that, and instead leave it to fallible charlatans and cryptic and multi-variable old stories to communicate his message for him? In Genesis, Adam and Eve knew him personally, yet apparently still had the Freewill to disobey him. Oddly enough, outside of the pages of the text He has been completely silent.

Unlike Jesus, we have over half a dozen relatively objective historians discussing the history of Alexander the Great (most notably Diodorus, Dionysius, Rufus, Trogus, Plutarch and more). These are not romances or propagandists, least of all fanatical worshipers, or anyone concerned about dogma, but disinterested historical writers employing some of the recognized skills of critical analysis of their day on a wide body of sources they had available that we do not. Which doesn’t mean we trust everything they say, but we still cannot name even one such person for Jesus, and ‘none’ is not 'more’ than half a dozen.

Lest one complain that these historians wrote 'too late’, this is actually of minor significance because, unlike Jesus, they still had contemporary eyewitness sources to work from. In fact, our best historian of Alexander is Arrian, who though he wrote five hundred years later, nevertheless employed an explicit method of using only three eyewitness sources (two of them actual generals of Alexander who wrote accounts of their adventures with him). He names and identifies these sources, explains how he used them to generate a more reliable account, and discusses their relative merits. That alone is quite a great deal more than we have for Jesus, for whom we have not a single named eyewitness source in any of the accounts of him, much less a discussion of how those sources were used or what their relative merits were. Not even for the anonymous witness claimed to have been used by the authors of the Gospel of John, which claim isn’t even credible to begin with, but in any case we’re not told who he was, why we should trust him or what all exactly derives from him.

And that’s not all. We have mentions of Alexander the Great and details about him in several contemporary or eyewitness sources still extant, including the speeches of Isocrates and Demosthenes and Aeschines and Hyperides and Dinarchus, the poetry of Theocritus, the scientific works of Theophrastus and the plays of Menander. We have not a single contemporary mention of Jesus–apart from, at best, the letters of Paul, who never knew him, and says next to nothing about him (as a historical man), or the dubious letters of certain alleged disciples (and I say alleged because apart from known forgeries, none ever say they were his disciples), and (again apart from forgeries) none ever distinctly place Jesus in history. The eyewitness and contemporary attestation for Alexander is thus vastly better than we have for Jesus, not the other way around. And that’s even if we count only extant texts–if we count extant quotations of lost texts in other texts, we have literally hundreds of quotations of contemporaries and eyewitnesses that survive in later works attesting to Alexander and his history. We have not even one such for Jesus (e.g. even Paul never once quotes anyone he identifies as an eyewitness or contemporary source for any of his information on Jesus).

And even that is not all. For Alexander we have contemporary inscriptions and coins, sculpture (originals or copies of originals done from life), as well as other archaeological verifications of historical claims about him. For example, we can verify the claim that Alexander attached Tyre to the mainland with rubble from Ushu–because that rubble is still there and dates to his time; the city of Alexandria named for him dates from his lifetime as expected; archaeology confirms Alexander invaded Bactria; etc. We also have archaeological confirmation of many of his battles and acts, including the exact time and day of his death–because contemporary records of these exist in the recovered clay tablet archives of Persian court astrologers. None of this is even remotely analogous to Jesus, for whom we have absolutely zero archaeological corroboration (e.g. none of the tombs alleged to be his have been verified as such), much less (as we have for Alexander) actual archaeological attestation (in the form of coins, inscriptions and statues…).

It’s ridiculous to claim the source situation is better for Jesus than for Alexander the Great (or indeed any comparably famous person in antiquity). The exact reverse is the case, by many orders of magnitude. This is not the way to defend the historicity of Jesus.
—  Carrier, Richard. On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, p.21-23. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Phoenix Press Ltd, 2014. Print.
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Richard Carrier is a bad-ass. This lecture is one of my favorites. Highly recommended for philosophy or science nerds.

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“Are Christians Delusional?” Richard Carrier

this is so interesting like wow 

If you were to ask any scholar, like try to deny the big bang, if you do that you go to an actual expert, an actual cosmologist and say, prove to me that there was a big bang. He’ll go through a list of arguments and explain them and you go to any cosmologist it’ll be the same list of arguments every time and if you really pay attention to those arguments and study them you’ll agree.
You don’t get that from christians.
It’s a different package of arguments, not only from every christian you meet, even the same christian from year to year. There’s no consistent agreed-upon set of arguments for the existence of god and I think that actually suggests that they really don’t have any arguements for the existence of god, they just have what they think sounds impressive
—  Richard Carrier (in this video at about 55 minutes)
Contrary to popular belief, the names of the four Evangelists were assigned to their respective Gospels decades after they were written, and on questionable grounds. And Paul, of course, did not actually see the resurrection, since he only encountered Jesus years later in a vision, and he mentions no other kind of evidence than that.
—  Richard Carrier, “Sense and Goodness Without God.”

We believe in being compassionate. That means we believe it is important to have empathy for other people (men, women, white people, black people, rich people, poor people, and anyone suffering illness or misfortune or unfair treatment, and so on) and to act in the best interests of human happiness (rather than in the interests of our own vanity, greed, or self-righteousness, for example).

And this is where the biggest divide exists in our movement today. Everyone who attacks feminism, or promotes or defends racism or sexism, or denigrates or maliciously undermines any effort to look after the rights and welfare and happiness of others, is simply not one of us. They have rejected compassion as a fundamental value. Regardless of what they say, that is in actual fact what they have done.

Indeed, “I don’t like you, so I am going to make you personally miserable” is their value system, rather than “I don’t like you, so I am going to have nothing to do with you” or “I don’t like something you said or did, so I will still respect you as a person and look after your basic welfare, but I am also going to explain in a logical and empirical way why I think you are wrong, and what I say might be harsh, but I will take the greatest care to ensure it is, to the best of my knowledge, relevant and true. But I’ll hear you out if you think I’m wrong about that.” No, that would be reasonable, and reasonably compassionate, behavior. Which these atheists know not of.

And so I am declaring here and now, that anyone who acts like this, is not one of us, and is to be marginalized and kicked out, as not part of our movement, and not anyone we any longer wish to deal with. In fact it is especially important on this point that we prove that these vile pissants are a minority in our movement, by making sure our condemnation of them is vocalized and our numbers seen. We must downvote their bullshit, call it out in comments, blog our outrage.

The Great Debate: "Does God Exist?"

On Wednesday, May 23rd, UCR hosted a debate between popular atheist Richard Carrier and Christian apologist Lenny Esposito. The event was coordinated by the Well Christian Club and Esposito’s Come Reason Ministries. I attended the debate and, to put a long story short, my mind was blown in all sorts of ways.

Keep reading

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The Case Against Christianity - Dr. Richard Carrier

Dr. Carrier summarizes a short list of reasons he’s not a Christian.

1. God is silent - Only “revealing” conflicting info to certain people
2. God is inert - Not that he doesn’t do any specific thing, it’s that he doesn’t do anything.
3. We have the wrong evidence - the same kind of evidence that is given for all religions.
4. We have the wrong universe - vast, old, full of junk material. If humans are the point, the inefficiency is astounding.

Watch on hyperwave.tumblr.com

Richard Carrier on the Mythical Jesus (Duration: 43:50)