The Ehrman/Carrier debate

How’s the view from under the bus? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I have yet to read Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?” although I do have a copy of it here, but library books come first. That having been said, it has been amusing on some web sites to see how Richard Carrier is now going after Bart Ehrman and this no doubt places the usual village atheist in a bind.

Typically, fundy atheists online have relied on Bart Ehrman. One can hardly read the new atheists without seeing a reference to Bart Ehrman as the authority. At the same time, the new atheists seem quite open to the idea that Jesus never existed and now, the champion that online fundy atheists have claimed for so long has come out with a position deemed heretical.

So now what to do? Apparently for fundy atheists, in the past, Ehrman’s books were seen as excellent because Ehrman is a scholar and he is right in what he says, but now that this one has come out, what to do? Do we want to still say he’s a scholar and value what he says, but if so then we have to drop the idea that Jesus never existed? How could Ehrman give such a betrayal as this?

For the rest of us in reality who actually look at claims on a case-by-case basis and have it be more than “X says so”, this isn’t a problem. We can recommend the works of someone on a case-by-case basis realizing some positions we agree with and some don’t. Not so for the typical fundy atheists who treats the paragons of his faith more seriously than most Christians treat Scripture.

Enter Richard Carrier. Carrier has long been the go-to man for online skeptics and is one of those few people who still holds to this position that Jesus never existed. Carrier also seems to think he’s an authority on several issues and gets called out quickly when someone else comes along who is one. Most notably, he has quite an ego online.

Watching these two fare off is quite amusing, but even more so is the fact that Ehrman is shown to know what he’s talking about by and large while Carrier is picking at tiny little points thinking that this somehow makes a difference in the overall argument.

Not to be outdone in the “X says so” category, we’ve also seen that P.Z. Myers has applauded Carrier for dealing with Ehrman and that Stephen Law has come out against the existence of Jesus. Keep in mind that both Myers and Law in their respective fields will be demanding evidence to believe something, which in itself I have no problem of, but when it comes to history which they do not study professionally, they are quick to say the evidence is not enough.

By all means, let them do it. By doing so, the new atheist movement is becoming more and more out of sync with reality and when they have to defend this historically atrocious position, then they will have to keep doing more and more all in the attempt to save face rather than face that dreadful alternative of saying “I was wrong.”

This has to be done in fact because the last thing that can be admitted is that the Christian theist actually has a point. Once that is done, then the atheist has to admit that it is no longer blind faith. It is faith that has reason behind it and there goes another one of their favorite cards in their deck.

The idea seems to be that we’re all supposed to stand together and Ehrman has gone against that stand. He must be dealt with. It will be amusing to see if this means online atheists will quickly move away from Ehrman when in a debate someone says “Ehrman. Ehrman. Isn’t he the guy who wrote that book demonstrating that Jesus did exist?”

For now, let the new atheists continue their strong defense of Carrier as their champion and just wait and see what happens when it is shown that the emperor has no clothes. Perhaps then we can ever hear a biblical lament at that point about how the mighty have fallen.

After all, when you’re married to an ideology, why let a little thing like evidence get in the way at that point?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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