Several colleagues will be responding on this site in a week to claims made by atheist blogger and amateur “logician” Richard Carrier concerning the historical Jesus (contra Bart Ehrman) and his abuse of Bayes’s theorem. In the meantime, this from 2011.
Originally posted on The New Oxonian:
In a recent post responding to a blog review of Sources of the Jesus Tradition by atheist blogger Richard Carrier, I made the point that his own contribution to the book does not rise above the level of pedantic lecturing on a theorem of dubious value to engage the literary matter.
Carrier has claimed on a number of occasions that his approach is revolutionary, a tour de force and essentially over the heads of New Testament scholars. Apart from the naivety of saying anything like this in a field littered with the corpses of dead theories and “discoveries,” this is scarcely where you’d want a revolution to be fought.
There are numerous critical issues attached to using a theorem that is primarily about probability to assess material that isn’t. It is, however, a common feature of forensic (i.e. controversialist) approaches to the Bible on both the fundamentalist side and the atheist side to engage the material on a literal level. This is so because both sides have to meet…
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