Who Moved the Stone? Part 1: A Circular Stone
The question “Who moved the stone?” is used by Christian apologists to raise an objection against some skeptical theories about the alleged resurrection of Jesus, especially the Swoon Theory (see Objection #7 in Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, p.183-184), but also the Conspiracy Theory, and the Hallucination Theory. The objection consists mostly of attempted refutations of various natural explanations for the movement of the “large stone” away from the entrance to the tomb of Jesus, an event the Gospels indicate took place early on the first Easter Sunday.  Jesus, if he had survived his crucifixion, would have been too weak and frail to move the large stone himself (they claim), and his (allegedly) unarmed disciples would not have been able to overpower the Roman soldiers who (allegedly) were guarding the tomb, and (allegedly) neither the Roman soldiers nor the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem would have allowed anyone to open up the tomb by moving the ston ... Read Article
(REVIEW part 5) “Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist (2021)?” Ch. 3 Dying and Rising Gods By Derreck Bennett
Bennett places himself in a long line of mythicist sympathetic scholars who try to argue the dying/rising God theme was conspicuous in the ancient world, and so Jesus was just another example of this theme. For example, regarding Baal, Bennett concludes that: The sources and scholarship firmly establish that Baal was a dying and rising god, the risen son of El, who conquered death and reigned henceforth upon his heavenly throne. Given Jewish familiarity with the Baal myth—the long constancy of his worship in Israel and the indelible mark his story made upon the scriptures—it should come as no surprise that Baal served as a prototype of Christ, the risen Son of God who vanquished death, was enthroned as Lord, and comes upon the clouds of heaven in power and glory. (W. Loftus, John; M. Price, Robert. Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist? (p. 60). Hypatia Press. Kindle Edition.) This echoes similar scholarship by Carrier on the issue. See: Dying-and-Rising Gods: It’s Pagan, Guys. Get ... Read Article
(REVIEW part 4) “Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist (2021)?” Ch. 2 Jesus Christ by Barbara G. Walker
This chapter reminded me of the movie Religulous which tries to show everything about the Jesus story was copied from earlier religious belief. For instance, the Cana wine miracle is prefigured by the lore of Dionysus (Which Dennis MacDonald fleshes out in a recent book). The author comments: Nothing in Jesus’ myth occurred at random; every detail was part of a formal sacrificial tradition, even to the “procession of palms” which glorified sacred kings in ancient Babylon. (W. Loftus, John; M. Price, Robert. Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist? (p. 49). Hypatia Press. Kindle Edition.) Of interest is the critique of the historicity of Jesus' relationship to Pilate. She writes: The most “historical” figure in the Gospels was Pontius Pilate, to whom Jesus was presented as “king” of the Jews and simultaneously as a criminal deserving the death penalty for “blasphemy” because he called himself Christ, Son of the Blessed (Luke 23:3; Mark 14:61-64). This alleged crime was ... Read Article
(REVIEW part 3) “Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist (2021)?” Ch. 1: Why Mythicism Matters, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Jesus (Myth Theory) By David Fitzgerald
There are a couple of notable elements I'd like to point to here about Fitzgerald's chapter. He writes: In his letters, Paul often rages and fumes that his rivals are evil deceivers, with false Christs and false gospels so different from his own true Christ and true Gospel, that he accuses them of being agents of Satan and even lays curses and threats upon them! ... The evidence is clear; there were many different gospels, Jesuses, and Christs being preached by different groups in the first century (and even into the early second century, when the Didakhê was likely written). No single individual Jesus made an impact on history, but many different ones made an impact on theology—at least on the cultic fringe.(W. Loftus, John; M. Price, Robert. Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist? (p. 24). Hypatia Press. Kindle Edition). This is interesting and would certainly make sense in a mythicist framework where everyone was basing truth on personal hallucinations of Jesus, though a single figure w ... Read Article
Message to Herschel Walker and His Creationist Comrades — Why Other Apes Still Exist Along With Us Humans 
Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker offered up the common creationism pseudoscientific line, stating that “At one time, science said man came from apes. Did it not?.... If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it…. We have an evolution that is — we’ve gotten so intelligent that if that is still true, why are there still apes?” Derided for his poor understanding of modern evolutionary science, Walker is far from alone. Surveys agree that a large portion of the population does not buy into Darwin’s bioevolution. PBS has offered up the following correction to such paranormal thinking. “Humans are more closely related to modern apes … but we didn’t evolve from apes, either. Humans share a common ancestor with modern African apes. … Scientists believe this common ancestor existed 5 to 8 million years ago. Shortly thereafter, the species diverged into two separate lineages. One of these lineages ultimately evolved into gorillas and chimps, ... Read Article
(REVIEW) “Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist (2021)?” editors John Loftus and Robert M. Price [Review Part 2: Introduction: New Testament Minimalism By Robert M. Price]
One thing I would like to highlight in Price's introduction is the embarrassment of riches of Jesus portraits we have in (i) mainstream historical Jesus portraits, just as we do in (ii) mythicist portraits. Price comments: (i) As you are probably aware, today’s mainstream Jesus scholarship is quite diverse. Many theories have attracted dedicated partisans, people who conclude that the historical Jesus was a revolutionist (Robert Eisenman, Peter Cresswell), a feminist (Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Luise Schottroff), a Cynic sage (John Dominic Crossan, F. Gerald Downing; Burton L. Mack, David Seeley), a Pharisee (Harvey Falk, Hyam Maccoby), a Hasidic master (Geza Vermes), a shaman (Stevan L. Davies, Gaetano Salomone), a magician (Morton Smith), a community organizer (Richard A. Horsley), an apocalyptic prophet (Bart D. Ehrman, Richard Arthur), and so on. (W. Loftus, John; M. Price, Robert. Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist? (pp. 16-17). Hypatia Press. Kindle Edition) (ii) As this bo ... Read Article
(REVIEW) “Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist (2021)?” editors John Loftus and Robert M. Price [Review Part 1: Foreword by Richard C. Miller]
To begin our exploration of this volume, in the foreword Miller declares the Quest For The Historical Jesus has been a fool's errand. Miller comments: Similar to contrived faith-based efforts to class the Gospels within the genre of historiography, despite close familiarity with the genre, early Christians likewise avoided applying biographical labels to the Gospels. Such labels now become perhaps most problematic regarding the matter of literary object, since most assume that a history aims to depict ontological reality and biography an ontological person, whereas such presumptions break down as one further critically contemplates the Gospels. Most all referential objectivity in effect became crushed, buried beneath a dense bricolage of cultural literary models governing the narrative construction. If ever an ontological Jesus did exist, that person was lost to us, indeed made irrelevant behind many layers of charged early Christian literary figmentation. (W. Loftus, John; M. Price, Robert. Varieties of ... Read Article
The Gospel of John on Incarnation
Let us do a two-level interpretation in the Gospel of John (literal vs figurative) and relate it to McGrath’s non penal substitution interpretation of the cross in John.  This will undermine the mythicist sin debt payment interpretation of the faith.  There is perhaps no saying in scripture that is more “seemingly” horrific than John 14:6, which has birthed no end to exclusionist approaches to God.  There is that literal level, but it needs to be passed through to a more allegorical understanding of the human condition.  The passage reads: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the father except through me / but by me (John 14:6).”  We can also detect a hint of “for the sake of me” which is the way John uses δι’ in 11:15 and 12:30.  But doesn’t John 14:6 contradict Luke 3:6 which says all flesh will encounter the lord’s salvation.[1]  Who is this logos/word Jesus, this “me” that John 14:6 refers to?  Of the various ... Read Article
Dunn and Ehrman on “Forms” of Jesus in the Philippian Christ Hymn/Poem (PART 2/2)
I just wanted to make a quick clarification to the last post.  In that post, I mentioned in the gospels Jesus says the son of man does not come to be served, but to serve, to die, an allusion to the son of man/human in Daniel, second only to the ancient of days/God.  As I said, in the Philippian poem we read this is the evolution of Christ’s mindset going from form of god to form of human/slave.  We read: 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, assuming human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human, 8     he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. “Assuming human likeness” clearly alludes to “I saw one like a human being (NRSVUE)” / “one like a son of man (ESV)” of Daniel 7:13. With Adam and Eve, initially, lack of knowledge of Good and Evil was what differed them from God.  Jesus was godly / in godly form as paradigmatically knowing good and evil as an interprete ... Read Article
Dunn and Ehrman on “Forms” of Jesus in the Philippian Christ Hymn/Poem (PART 1/2)
The Philippian Christ hymn poetry is a very old pre-Pauline discussion of the nature of Jesus.  In the updated NRSV it reads 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he existed in the form of God,     did not regard equality with God [as Adam and Eve did]     as something to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself,     taking the form of a slave,     assuming human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human, 8     he humbled himself     and became obedient to the point of death—     even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God exalted him even more highly     and gave him the name     that is above every ot ... Read Article
Trying To View The Paranormal Though The Lens Of Science.
This video talks about the failure to turn reports of the paranormal regarding Skinwalker ranch into actually documented evidence of the paranormal. Keith Augustine points out it gets particularly interesting about 15 minutes in (i.e., the AAWSAP directive to "tell Mr. Bigelow what he wants to hear" and an underling weaving tales while drinking vodka to meet this directive in faxed reports from Skinwalker Ranch to Bigelow): see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCQRMGOc9M8 The evidence for the dinosaur beaver is particularly compelling, lol. ... Read Article
Happy Ask An Atheist Day! Ask Away …
... Read Article
Keith Augustine Interview On The Paranormal
Internet Infidels / Secular Web director Keith Augustine was interviewed by Ed our VP on the topic of the Paranormal. Check it out: ... Read Article
(Part 2) Keith Augustine’s How Not to Do Survival Research: Reflections on the Bigelow Institute Essay Competition
Augustine raises the issue of the fallacy of how survivalist's conclude from the difficulties in describing how consciousness arises from the body that therefore it doesn't: Ruickbie’s use converts Noë’s actual meaning into an argument from ignorance: we don’t know how brain activity gives rise to consciousness, therefore it must not give rise to consciousness. If the argument were that we don’t know how migrating birds navigate, therefore they must not navigate, it would not impress. Nor should it here...It does not follow from the inability to explain how consciousness arises from matter that it does not so arise, and in fact its ubiquitousness throughout the biosphere positively suggests that it does (though see McGinn, 1999, pp. 89-95 and Nahm, 2021*, p. 64 for ways to get around this). And the distinctively individual consciousnesses necessary for personal survival almost certainly so arise. One fruitful approach would be to say the mind is instantiated in the brain, and so wouldn't exist ... Read Article
(Part 1) Keith Augustine’s How Not to Do Survival Research: Reflections on the Bigelow Institute Essay Competition
See Augustine's essay here: https://journalofscientificexploration.org/index.php/jse/issue/view/85 This is a large essay so I'm breaking reporting of it into 2 parts. Augustine points to the difficulties in using eye witness testimony as evidence for the mind surviving death: Nahm later writes that impartial judges “would take eyewitness testimonies just as seriously as they would do in other contexts” (2021*, p. 66). While Elizabeth Loftus’ (1979) seminal research into the reliability of eyewitness testimony provides all sorts of reasons to hesitate to rely upon it so heavily (as survival research typically does), what DRW say about it in their prize-winning essay is more than sufficient: “eyewitness testimony would not convince those who also take into consideration the relevant literature from the neurosciences, clinical, cognitive, and perceptual psychology, and court cases. Research in those disciplines has shown that eyewitness testimony is not as reliable as one might hope because ... Read Article