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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:33 pm 
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Religion and the PhD: A Brief History

There are several very important things you need to be made aware of about academia regarding religion. Religious studies are not the same as the hard sciences like physics or engineering that are testable and falsifiable as so much of religion is open to interpretation, which can easily be subject to biases. The cliff-note version of what you will learn in this thread is how most of our oldest universities, institutes of higher learning and colleges were church affiliated from the start. In the past, you couldn't get a PhD without also studying religion. So, we're interested in how that has influenced religious courses throughout academia, and how that influence still exists to this very day. The fact is, nobody is even looking at this issue at the level it should be and certainly, nobody is doing anything about it.

New Testament (NT) scholars are so narrowly focused on the NT that they don't spend much time in comparative religion to investigate parallels, 'borrowing' or syncretism from other pre-Christian religions. It's also significant that it's not a requirement for New Testament scholars or students to examine the case for mythicism or the Mythicist Position in order to receive a PhD. Don't believe me? Here it is straight from the horses mouth; one of the most well-known New Testament scholars:

Code:
"Writing Did Jesus Exist was an interesting task. For one thing, before writing the book, like most New Testament scholars, I knew almost nothing about the mythicist movement. I think mythicists themselves find this very frustrating, that their work is not taken seriously – in fact is not really even known – by precisely the scholars they would most like to convince. But that’s just the way it is."

- Dr. Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist as Part One
http://ehrmanblog.org/did-jesus-exist-as-part-one/

Bart Ehrman also confesses on page two in his book, "Did Jesus Exist?," that for 30 years he never even thought to consider to question the existence of Jesus as real historical character because it was a question that he "did not take seriously." Bart goes on to say, "I discovered, to my surprise, an entire body of literature devoted to the question of whether or not there ever was a real man, Jesus ... I was almost completely unaware - as are most of my colleagues in the field - of this body of skeptical literature."

Thank you, Bart Ehrman, for admitting that you knew nothing about mythicism before you started writing your book, 'Did Jesus Exist?'; having read DJE I can confirm that you STILL know nothing about it. So, he's admitting that he was ignorant, as are most of his colleagues, of what is an "entire body of literature" in his field. And there's no way that he could have studied that entire body - which is pretty substantial - in the past couple of years since he finally became aware of it. In fact, it's painfully obvious that he did NOT study even a small fraction of this "entire body of skeptical literature," since he is STILL very ignorant of it, as his book reveals.

Dr. Ehrman's belief in a historical Jesus is merely an a priori assumption and nothing more. Dr. Ehrman proves that New Testament scholarship has no credibility and is utterly worthless little more helpful than Sunday school. Dr. Ehrman is obviously not the goto guy on the subject of mythicism. So, NT scholars simply are not reliable or credible sources on the subject of mythicism. In fact, anyone who admits that Jesus may never have existed and may be a mythical figure are labeled "fringe" and treated as such by academia even though that's precisely what the credible evidence shows. A professor or teacher acknowledging that Jesus is a myth is likely to be fired. Many reputations and livelihoods have been ruined for merely telling the truth and it needs to be exposed as it is an epic disservice.

Below we can see Dr. Bart Ehrman inadvertently admitting that he and other NT scholars purposely avoid any discussion of mythicism for fear of it being taken seriously or be given any credibility. It's the suppression of mythicism by omission:

Code:
"As most of you know, I’m pretty much staying out of the mythicist debates. That is for several reasons. One is that the mythicist position is not seen as intellectually credible in my field (I’m using euphemisms here; you should see what most of my friends *actually* say about it….) – no one that I know personally (I know a *lot* of scholars of New Testament, early Christianity, and so on) takes it at *all* seriously as a viable historical perspective (this includes not just Christians but also Jews, agnostics, atheists – you name it), and my colleagues sometimes tell me that I’m simply providing the mythicists with precisely the credibility they’re looking for even by engaging them. It’s a good point, and I take it seriously."

- Bart Ehrman, Carrier, Bayes Theorem, and Jesus’ Existence
http://ehrmanblog.org/carrier-bayes-theorem-jesus-existence-2/

Dr. Ehrman criticized Acharya's work in his book, Did Jesus Exist, and he was exposed for his egregious errors and sloppy "research" that was so bad Dr. Robert Price referred to his comments about Acharya's work as "libel." Acharya exposed Ehrman's errors HERE. It's easy to figure out that Dr. Bart Ehrman never read a single book of Acharya's at all. Please take note that Dr. Ehrman made no mention of Acharya's Mythicist Position or any of her later books such as:

Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled (2004)
Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ (2007)
Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection (2009)

Learn more here: Over 80 Rebuttals to Bart Ehrman's Anti-Mythicist Book 'Did Jesus Exist?'

So, to re-cap, we have in one of the most well-known New Testament scholars, Dr. Bart Ehrman, a prime example of what a complete disaster New Testament scholarship really is to this very day. Now, we'll go back in time to see how we got here.

Lets briefly discuss a little background on how the Ph.D. began:

Quote:
"Its roots can be traced to the early church when the term "doctor" referred to the Apostles, church fathers and other Christian authorities who taught and interpreted the Bible."
- Wikipedia: Doctor (title)

Quote:
Beginnings of Doctoral Education in the United States:

"For the greater part of the 19th century, most institutions of higher learning were small and church affiliated and provided a classical education in the liberal arts, producing ministers and other professionals."

http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf06319/chap2.cfm

Quote:
"Historical Notes:

"The doctorate dates back to the ijazat attadris wa'l-iftta ("license to teach and issue legal opinions") used in the medieval Madrasahs around the 9th century. Initially limited to law, the doctorate was later extended to philosophy in the European universities of the Middle Ages, which at the time grouped all academic disciplines outside the fields of theology, medicine and law under the broad heading of "philosophy". Until the 19th century, in fact, doctoral degrees could only be awarded in theology (Th.D.), law (J.D.), or medicine (M.D.)."

http://www.dtic.upf.edu/~alozano/PhD/index.html

Wikipedia: Doctor of Philosophy

The History of the PhD Degree

"Prior to the nineteenth century, professional doctoral degrees could only be awarded in theology, law, or medicine."
Doctor of Philosophy

Quote:
"Scholars in general can also be notoriously cautious, particularly when it comes to stepping on the toes of mainstream institutions, especially those of a religious bent—and there have been many such establishments, including major universities like Yale and Harvard, both of which started as Christian divinity schools.1 Numerous other institutions in the Christian world were either founded specifically as Christian universities and colleges or had seminaries attached to them. As stated on the Princeton Theological Seminary website, regarding early American education:

"Within the last quarter of the eighteenth century, all learning…could be adequately taught and studied in the schools and colleges, nearly all of which were church initiated."2

- CIE 505

1. See the Yale Divinity School website: “Training for the Christian Ministry was a main purpose in the founding of Yale College in 1701.” (“History of Yale Divinity School.”) See also the Harvard Divinity School website: “The origins of Harvard Divinity School and the study of theology at Harvard can be traced back to the very beginning of Harvard College.” (“Harvard Divinity School–History and Mission.”) http://www.hds.harvard.edu/history.html
2. “About Princeton Theological Seminary–History of the Seminary.”
http://www.ptsem.edu/About/mission.php

There are countless other colleges and universities besides Yale, Harvard and Princeton that began as some sort of religious institution or organization, such as Columbia, for example:
Quote:
"Controversy preceded the founding of the College, with various groups competing to determine its location and religious affiliation ... Anglicans prevailed"

"In July 1754...the first classes in a new schoolhouse adjoining Trinity Church"

http://www.columbia.edu/about_columbia/history.html

Just check any college or uni website by reading the "about," "history" and Wiki page.

Quote:
"...many scholars these days are so specialized that they do not cover the broad diversity of subjects involved in this particular field of research. Scholars in past eras were less specialized - and they did in fact make these connections within comparative religion, as my research demonstrates...."

http://tbknews.blogspot.com/2008/04/zei ... d-not.html

I have yet to see any serious investigation into how assorted religious institutions and organizations have influenced various academic theological courses with their funding, grants, donations and other influences; and to what degree it continues to this very day. Here is a recent example of what's wrong in academia still to this day. We have professional archaeologists publicly saying that other archaeologists are "bending science to prove a Biblical heritage" ... with "generous funding, from religious groups"

Quote:
"Archaeologists have given up many of their best practices in order to answer the continuing demands of mainly political actors," says Raphael Greenberg, an Israeli archaeologist from Tel Aviv University, who has worked in Jerusalem.

"says some archaeologists cater to financial donors like Elad, which seeks to establish Biblical roots and develop tourism"

"Over time, when you're funded by these people in huge sums, and we're talking millions of dollars, you become part of the machine," argued Greenberg, who has been speaking out for some time over his doubts about archaeology in the holy city.

Jerusalem archaeologists feel pressured on all sides.

"I'm being looked at by religious extremists on all sides, the municipality, and the Antiquities Authority. Everybody is pushing his side," says Ronny Reich, an archaeologist from the University of Haifa in northern Israel."

- Researchers dig up controversy in Jerusalem

Courses in theology, biblical and NT appear to be quite compartmentalized. As soon as one becomes skeptical of a historical Jesus, for example, they are suddenly written-off as "fringe." They are looked down upon by the American Academy of Religion (AAR), Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and others. The peer pressure keeping most scholars from speaking their minds questioning the status-quo is still there even today. It just demonstrates how out of balance academia still is to this day regarding religion. They assume, a priori, that Jesus must have existed and work from there without ever substantiating the claim first. Meanwhile, they have no problem accepting that Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other godmen, are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures. So, they're all mythicists EXCEPT when it comes to Jesus.

There remains an entire field of study with a mountain of evidence kept out of these courses which may help explain many gaps in our current understanding. Those gaps are precisely what Acharya/Murdock's work and other mythicists cover.

Astrotheology of the Ancients

The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ

Quote:
"Over a century ago, renowned British Egyptologist Sir Dr. E.A. Wallis Budge (1857-1934), a Keeper of the Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum, as well as a confessed Christian, remarked that a study tracing the "influence of ancient Egyptian religious beliefs and mythology on Christianity" would "fill a comparatively large volume." Since Dr. Budge's time, for a variety of reasons, including the seemingly irreconcilable academic gap between historians and theologians, no one has taken up the call to produce such a volume—until now."

- Christ in Egypt, Preface

Quote:
"As Massey stated, many individuals of the past have been bibliolaters first and scholars second. The toning down or omission of anything that might offend Judeo-Christian sensibilities, has clearly led to censorship of important information —and this censorial pressure has often created a pronounced divide between religious scholars and others such as, in this case, Egyptologists, with the result that the twain has rarely met, leaving us to make the connections ourselves in what at times amount to Herculean efforts."

- Christ in Egypt (CIE) 504

Over the years, many people have brought us an endless supply of credentialism, which is an argument that essentially claims only those with PhDs are worth listening to. The credentialism fallacy is often used when the subject of Jesus mythicism is raised. It is imperative to keep in mind that there are no mythicists with Ph.D's because there are no courses teaching it and there's not any type of "Department of Astrotheological and Mythological Studies" for them to teach in or receive a Ph.D. and scholars know this fact. So, the argument below couldn't be any more fallacious! This quote from Dr. Bart Ehrman is a prime example:

Quote:
"... there is not a single mythicist who teaches New Testament or Early Christianity or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world."

- Bart D. Ehrman, "Did Jesus Exist", Huffington Post, March 20, 2012

Ehrman raises a straw man here because he knows there is no such course teaching the case for mythicism and mythicists are not typically going to be hired, in fact, if anybody comes out of the mythicist closet they're more likely to be fired - for example: Fired for Saying Adam and Eve Mythical? A news report about a professor at a community college in Iowa who claimed he was fired for stating in class that the biblical Adam and Eve were mythical.

The "No Serious Mythicist Scholar" Fallacy

Acharya S modeled her own education after that of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson by studying Ancient Greek Classics/Civilizations, languages and archaeology. She can read the Old Testament and the New Testament in their original languages as well as the languages of many Pagan sources. Had Bart Ehrman actually read her books he would already know that fact. This is what we mythicists have been dealing with for centuries now - Institutionalized Tyranny across academia! This is how they keep mythicism out of academia!

Other fallacies used are argumentum ad baculum for which examples are given in section F of the Mythicist Challenge Petition and the fallacy of argumentum ad populum for which examples are the quotes below:

"Few scholars question Jesus' existence"

"No serious historian believes that Jesus didn't exist"

"All scholars agree that Jesus existed"

"No serious scholar doubts the existence of Jesus as an historical figure"

"No serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus"

"No REAL scholar questions the existence of Jesus"

"No true scholar questions the existence of Jesus"

"Contrary to some circles on the Internet, very few scholars doubt that Jesus existed, preached and led a movement."

"I don't know any serious scholar who questions the existence of Jesus."

"No serious ancient historian doubts that Jesus was a real person really living in Galilee in the first century"

"I unhesitatingly affirm that there is not a genuine scholar in the world today who denies the historical existence of Jesus. Every freethinking scholar worthy of the name accepts the existence of Jesus as the founder of Christianity. No one with common-sense could possibly deny it."

"Evidence for Jesus as a historical personage is incontrovertible."

"Jesus Christ really and truly lived as a human being in Palestine 2000 years ago. No serious historian doubts that."

"Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community."

No person with a PhD thinks Jesus wasn't historical
(The above comment is completely unprovable, because no one knows what every person with a PhD thinks, and, in fact, we know some people with PhDs who do think Jesus was NOT historical.)

We've read or heard those or similar comments many times over the years but, sadly, it may be closer to the truth than you think, for it appears to be an unspoken requirement that New Testament (NT) scholars accept a historical Jesus. They assume, a priori, that Jesus must have existed and work from there without ever first substantiating the claim; academia has not only allowed this to happen they insisted upon it.

Let me just point out the obvious for a moment: NT scholars, historians and other scholars are not automatically immune from biases, prejudice, faith & euphoria related to religious beliefs. They can be still be biased devotees of a particular faith. To assume that someone with a PhD is instantly completely devoid of biases is false as demonstrated by many books written by them. They are SUPPOSE to be as non-biased as possible and many are, but one should never just assume that to be the case.

How can scholars be considered credible if they fail to ask the most basic questions? Theists claim god to be the omniscient, omnipresent, all powerful creator of the universe. So the burden of proof rests in theist hands yet, they've never substantiated their claims with credible evidence. If there were valid scientific evidence in support of supernatural religious claims, faith, would not be the main requirement. After 2,000 years little has changed in that regard.

The truth is, any scholar who claims with certainty that Jesus existed has lost all credibility due to the fact there is no credible evidence to substantiate such claims. So, why do all these scholars make such claims? I have some quotes of my own:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
- Upton Sinclair

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."
- Christopher Hitchens

Quote:
"The Mythicist case has been rebutted? Really? When did that happen? The arguments of the Mythicist camp have never been refuted - they have only been steadfastly ignored."

- Dr. Robert Price, Biblical Scholar with two Ph.D's

Quote:
"...As for this tiresome business about there being "no scholar" or "no serious scholar" who advocates the Christ Myth theory: Isn't it obvious that scholarly communities are defined by certain axioms in which grad students are trained, and that they will lose standing in those communities if they depart from those axioms? The existence of an historical Jesus is currently one of those. That should surprise no one, especially with the rightward lurch of the Society for Biblical Literature in recent years. It simply does not matter how many scholars hold a certain opinion.... "

- Dr. Robert Price, Biblical Scholar with two Ph.D's

Quote:
"...Virtually all of the ‘Authorities’ who have pronounced upon the historicity of Jesus are handicapped and compromised by their employment by church-related institutions. Certainly, even an Atheist in the employ of a religious university or seminary would not dare to express mythicist theories. Almost all authorities were themselves educated at sectarian schools and were never exposed to the abundant mythicist literature that has appeared since the 1790’s.20 Virtually all secular historians are not themselves authorities on Jesus of Nazareth, taking the word of religious authorities simply because they have never had any reason to do otherwise. They never had reason to do otherwise because of the effective suppression of mythicist writings."

Footnote 20: "It is surely significant that Ehrman makes no effort to counter my claims here at any point in DJE? but rather repeatedly chides Mythicists for not being properly educated and repeatedly citing the conclusions of the 'authorities' here discussed! Because he makes no attempt to deal with this argument, the appeals to authority and ad hominem attacks of that book are more glaringly apparent than would be the case if he had tried fairly to deal with my argument here."

- Frank Zindler, 'Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth,' page 90

Quote:
Scholarly Opinion

by Earl Doherty

"Why is it that no individual scholar or group of scholars has undertaken a concerted effort in recent times to discredit the mythicist position? (The brief addresses that have been made to it in various publications are outlined in my Main Article "Postscript".) In the heyday of the great mythicists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a few valiant efforts were offered. However, both mainstream scholarship and the mythicist branch itself have made dramatic leaps since then. Biblical research has moved into bold new territory in the last several decades: unearthing a wealth of ancient documents, arriving at a new understanding of elements like Q, the sectarian nature of early Christianity, the Cynic roots of the great Gospel teachings, and so on; an almost unprecedented "critical" dimension to New Testament scholarship has emerged.

And yet the mythicist position continues to be vilified, disdained, dismissed. We would condemn any physicist, any anthropologist, any linguist, any mathematician, any scholar of any sort who professes to work in a field that makes even a partial bow to principles of logic and scientific research who yet ignored, reviled, condemned largely without examination a legitimate, persistent theory in his or her discipline. There are tremendous problems in New Testament research, problems that have been grappled with for generations and show no sign of getting closer to solution. Agreement is lacking on countless topics, and yesterday's theories are being continually overturned. There is almost a civil war going on within the ranks of Jesus study. Why not give the mythicist option some serious consideration? Why not honestly evaluate it to see if it could provide some of the missing answers? Or, if it turns out that the case is fatally flawed, then put it to rest once and for all.

Doing that would require one essential thing: taking it seriously, approaching the subject having an open mind that the theory might have some merit. Sadly, that is the most difficult step and the one which most critics have had the greatest difficulty taking. It is all in the mindset, whether of the Christian believer whose confessional interests are overriding, or of the professional scholar who could never consider that their life's work might be fatally compromised."

http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/ChallengingDoherty.htm

Quote:
"...I have known for a long time that traditions are conservative and self-interested, but what is coming home for me in a very real way is just how much the traditions are safe-guarded by the dominant group - be it the mainstream churches or the academy - and how far the dominant group will go to protect them. The interests and preservation of those interests often become the end-all, even at the expense of historical truth. The rationalizations, the apologies, the 'buts', the tortured exegesis, the negative labeling, the side-stepping, the illogical claims accumulate until they create an insurmountable wall that preserves both church and academy, which remain (uncomfortably so for me) symbiotic.

The entrenchment of the academy is particularly worrisome for me. Scholars' works are often spun by other scholars, not to really engage in authentic critical debate or review, but to cast the works in such a way that they can be dismissed (if they don't support the entrenchment) or engaged (if they do). In other words, fair reproduction of the author's position and engagement with it does not seem to me to be the top priority. The quest for historical knowledge does not appear to me to be the major concern. It usually plays back seat to other issues including the self-preservation of the ideas and traditions of the dominant parties - those who control the churches, and the academy with its long history of alliance with the churches..."

- April DeConick, Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University, historian of early Jewish and Christian thought

Quote:
"In light of the importance of cosmological perspectives in the ancient world, it is unfortunate that the study of cosmology has been relatively under-served in New Testament studies" ...

"A fascination with, and fear of the heavens goes deep into human history. In the Ancient Near East, the stars were universally regarded as divine beings, and "astral mythology" is pervasive throughout the literature and iconography of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Babylonians in particular made meticulous observations about the heavenly bodies, and the interplay of their scientific calculations and their religious beliefs remains a fascinating area of inquiry...."

"This cosmologically-conscious world provides the context for the biblical literature, both Old and New Testaments." ... "As many OT scholars have observed, Genesis 1:1 is a YHWH-exalting assertion within the context of Ancient Near Eastern worldviews. Other OT texts such as Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 manifest motifs drawn from astral mythology, albeit substantially reworked in light of Israelites’ distinctive religious history."

"It is apparent from these brief examples that an understanding of ancient cosmology will prove relevant to our understanding and appreciation of the NT documents. As mentioned earlier, few studies have undertaken such a project, and none has sought to cover the entire NT with an eye to its theological emphases(sic)."

- Cosmology and New Testament Theology: A Brief Introduction by Sean McDonough and Jonathan Pennington

^ Both are Christians and Professors of New Testament Studies in an admission against Christian interests as "astral mythology" is another way of saying astrotheology. (Bold emphasis is mine)

Quote:
"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

- Sir Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71), Historian

Since when is mindlessly following authority the mark of superior intellect and morality? Those "experts" are demonstrably wrong - worse than wrong! There's a long history of those being fired for not accepting the traditional belief that Jesus existed - if you question that, then, you're gone:

Quote:

That's how people like Bart Ehrman can claim there are no mythicists in reputable teaching positions - because they are not allowed in the first place. It's also why mythicism is not being taught and why New Testament students are not required to study the case for mythicism in order to receive a Ph.D. - it's totally omitted. There is a big difference between education and indoctrination. The truth is, any scholar who claims with certainty that Jesus existed has lost all credibility due to the fact there is no credible evidence to substantiate such claims.

So here we go again, go against church doctrine and dogma and you can still lose your job even in 2013. I think it's time for a serious investigation into religious special interest groups and lobbyist influence on academia and government.

Mythicism is about as American as it gets: Were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson Jesus Mythicists?

Protect Teen Students’ Rights to Form Atheist Clubs

The Alleged Evidence for a Historical Jesus of Nazareth

Political Correctness and Comparative Religion

Preachers, priests quietly embrace the Christ myth

Why I Am a Mythicist

"Your scholarship is relentless! The research conducted by D.M. Murdock concerning the myth of Jesus Christ is certainly both valuable and worthy of consideration."
- Dr. Kenneth L. Feder, Professor of Archaeology
Review of Acharya's book "Christ in Egypt"

"I can recommend your work whole-heartedly!"
- Dr. Robert Eisenman

"I've known people with triple Ph.D's who haven't come close to the scholarship in Who Was Jesus?"
- Pastor David Bruce, M.Div, North Park Seminary, Chicago

"...I have found her scholarship, research, knowledge of the original languages, and creative linkages to be breathtaking and highly stimulating."
- Rev. Dr. Jon Burnham, Pastor, Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX

"I find myself in full agreement with Acharya S/D.M. Murdock"
- Dr. Robert Price, Biblical Scholar with two Ph.D's
Review of Acharya's book "Christ in Egypt" here

Christian authorities themselves have made no secret of their goals for dominion:

Quote:
"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land - for Jesus Christ - to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect life & godliness. It is dominion we're after not just a voice. It is dominion we're after not just influence. It is dominion we're after not just equal time. It is dominion we're after. World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to do."
- George Grant, "changing of the guard" pg 50-51

"Our goal, as Christians, is to dominate society"
- Pat Robertson

"Christianity & Democracy are inevitably enemies"
- R.J. Rushdoony "Independent Republic" pg 122, 1964

"The church should be a disciplined charging army. Christians, like slaves and solders ask no questions. We are fighting a holy war."
- Jerry Falwell

"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society."
- D. James Kennedy

For more see: http://freethoughtnation.com/forums/vie ... 2418#p2418

Islam is no different for more on that see, http://freethoughtnation.com/forums/vie ... 424#p21424

For responses to Christian apologists who've been exposed and debunked read the links below:

Dr. Chris Forbes on Zeitgeist part 1, DEBUNKED

Did Jesus Really Exist? by Dr. Paul Maier, DEBUNKED

Challenging the Zeitgeist Movie by Dr. Mark Foreman, DEBUNKED

Is Jesus a Myth? by S. Michael Houdmann, DEBUNKED

Dr. John Oakes, DEBUNKED

Christianity was influenced by pagan religion, James Bishop

William Lane Craig, DEBUNKED

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson gets schooled!

The Mythicist Position video:


_________________
Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver
Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection
2015 Astrotheology Calendar
Astrotheology Calendar Special
Stellar House Publishing at Youtube
The Mythicist Position


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:56 pm 
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The Value of a PhD

I wanted to clarify and summarize the issue here.

Quote:
"No true scholar questions the existence of Jesus."

We've read or heard those or similar comments many times over the years but, sadly, it may be closer to the truth than you think, for it appears to be an unspoken requirement that New Testament (NT) scholars accept a historical Jesus. They assume that Jesus must have existed a priori and work from there without ever first substantiating the claim, academia has allowed this to happen.

...In the sense that "true scholar" means one sanctioned by the status quo. In fact, the history of the PhD is eye-opening, because it is basically a religious degree that even to this day is handed out by organizations that were basically founded in the name of one religion or another.

So, that's why relatively few PhDs are running to line up even to look at the mythicist position, much less to study it in any depth. Even though we possess a massive amount of information - the whole history of religion - at our disposal, PhD candidates don't need to study it at all. And certainly no biblical scholar needs to study the information found in the more than 2,100 pages of data I have provided over the past decade in my books.

In order to receive their PhD, not only do they not need to study this vast body of knowledge, but also for the bulk of the past several hundred years, scholars in the West have consistently been encouraged to be devout Christians, where their studies would bolster the faith. Until relatively recently, scholars were fervently discouraged from undermining the faith in any way by engaging in comparative religion studies that might demonstrate a natural flow of religious ideation dating back thousands of years, rather than startling new and astonishing divine revelation like a thunderbolt out of the blue.

The discouragement from uncovering uncomfortable parallels between Christianity and older religions expressed itself in earlier times in the form of the Inquisition, during which time "heretics" and "blasphemers" could be tried - and executed - for questioning Church dogma, including whether or not Christianity did indeed constitute "divine revelation." Without going into a lengthy recitation of the history of mythicism, let us just say that not a few over the past centuries who questioned the historicity of the gospel tale were driven out of their occupations, incarcerated or worse.

The mythicist information represents an entire field of study that requires specialization. Since the bulk of PhDs - including and especially NT and biblical scholars - require very little study of comparative religion and mythology, few PhDs are specialized in that field, and even fewer in the field that studies ancient astronomy along with its religious significance, which we are calling "astrotheology." In addition to archaeoastronomy, the study of astrotheology also requires knowledge of mythology, languages, history and various other cultural aspects.

There needs to be an accredited institute that awards PhDs in astrotheology - but such a thing will likely not be coming out of most colleges or universities that have been founded in the name of Christianity. Taking a page from the critics, perhaps we should not listen to anyone on the subject of religious origins who doesn't have a PhD in astrotheology! (Except me, of course. :shock: )

Whenever an individual with a PhD is being held up up as an authority on this and that, we should look at not only what the degree is in but also where it came from. Was it a theological seminary? A Christian college? A university founded as a religious institute? A theology department in a community college? And so on. If so, there is a strong chance that the individual is not an unbiased source and is also not particularly knowledgeable about the history of religious ideation dating back thousands of years.

The bottom line is that you do not need to have a genius IQ to obtain a PhD and that people who possess PhDs are not omniscient or infallible.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:27 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:35 am 
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You made a LOT of great points. It's a shame more people who graduated from State colleges with a Ph. D. in religion do not speak up more. People might get some surprises.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 7:09 pm 
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Here is the rest of the quote you linked to above, along with my commentary.

Quote:
I unhesitatingly affirm that there is not a genuine scholar in the world today who denies the historical existence of Jesus. Every freethinking scholar worthy of the name accepts the existence of Jesus as the founder of Christianity. No one with common-sense could possibly deny it. No one does deny it, except some "cranks," knaves and ignoramuses, including a few pseudo-scholars possessed of a little learning in some things, but devoid of sound judgment or genuine critical acumen. The world always has had those who advocate wild, extravagant, nonsensical, absurd ideas, and among the noisiest of those of that character now are they who talk and write rubbish about a purely mythical Jesus.

If no person worthy of address, i.e., a scholar, had ever made the claim that there is no credible, scientific evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, then why is this person even writing about it? According to this circular reasoning, the very fact of questioning Jesus's existence makes one a "crank," whereas if you do not question Christ's historicity, you are "learned."

The fact will remain, however, that some very learned, mainstream scholars have questioned the existence of Jesus Christ, as they should have, rather than just unscientifically accepting the claim on faith.

Do these same "learned" and "non-crank" scholars who unhesitatingly accept the historicity of Jesus do likewise with the Greek son of God Hercules? Why not? There is little difference, except for the ethnicity.

Hercules's numerous followers in ancient times believed in a historical son of God as passionately as do Christ's followers today. All that has changed is opinion, in the case of Hercules, based on facts and the recognition of mythology. The failure to recognize mythology in the gospel tale can be attributed to the willful suppression of the mythicist case by such irrational and unscientific derogation and declarations as can be found in this quote.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:59 pm 
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Quote:
The world always has had those who advocate wild, extravagant, nonsensical, absurd ideas...

First and foremost being those who advocate the idea that a far away deity impregnated a Jewish virgin, who gave birth to the deity in the form of a man, who then died for three days, resurrected from death, and then shot up into the air in the sight of those watching on the ground who historically documented the whole thing beginning to end.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:07 am 
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We are in the midst of a profound paradigm shift regarding religious origins.

No one today, except fringe creationists, claims that Adam or Noah are historical figures. Evidence against Eden and the Flood is simply too compelling. Yet, 200 years ago, the distinction between Biblical revelation and pagan myth was held as absolute. Noah was regarded as just as historical as Jesus and Moses. This prejudice lingers today regarding the historicity of the gospels and the exodus. Questioning them is taken primarily as an emotional affront.

I am now reading The Case for God by Karen Armstrong. Although she kowtows to the intolerant orthodox bigotry of the historical Jesus, she points out that Deuteronomy was written to present a theory of Moses and Abraham that is extremely different from other traditions. Armstrong provides an illuminating discussion of how our understanding of the meaning of faith has changed. The implication of her reading of Deuteronomy is that Moses did not exist. This is a claim with more 'respectability' than the claim that Jesus did not exist, but it presents an intriguing entry point regarding the methods of Biblical writing. If Moses was invented, the New Testament authors had an excellent precedent for the creation of a Jesus myth, copying the methods of the writers of the Torah.

The modern academy is highly corrupt, given to group-think, and excluding critical scholarship. The emperor has no clothes. As Kuhn argued in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the bigotry of an old paradigm is most intense after the evidence against it becomes compelling. When abuse and censorship are the main form of argument, the edifice is on the point of falling. If Jesus or Moses or Abraham are historical founders of the movements that bear their names, their real identities are extremely different from the way they are portrayed in the Bible.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:31 pm 
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Robert Tulip wrote:
As Kuhn argued in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the bigotry of an old paradigm is most intense after the evidence against it becomes compelling. When abuse and censorship are the main form of argument, the edifice is on the point of falling.

This is true. It would seem that it applies to religion as well. If so, then it's very evident that NT scholars are approaching the brink judging by the quote:
Quote:
I unhesitatingly affirm that there is not a genuine scholar in the world today who denies the historical existence of Jesus. Every freethinking scholar worthy of the name accepts the existence of Jesus as the founder of Christianity. No one with common-sense could possibly deny it. No one does deny it, except some "cranks," knaves and ignoramuses, including a few pseudo-scholars possessed of a little learning in some things, but devoid of sound judgment or genuine critical acumen. The world always has had those who advocate wild, extravagant, nonsensical, absurd ideas, and among the noisiest of those of that character now are they who talk and write rubbish about a purely mythical Jesus.

Good call Robert.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:24 pm 
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Credentialism

"Millions of people pay a king's ransom for college tuition to learn what is free for the taking when motivated by a compelling desire to learn. In the movie Good Will Hunting, Will (played by Matt Damon) chides an arrogant Ivy League student for paying a fortune for an education that would be free but for the price of a library card. Although this is absolutely valid, very few people believe it. Instead they are convinced the knowledge they could acquire on their own is secondary to paying a lot of money to an institution which will attest that they have, even if they cheated their way through the process.

Credentialism has existed for centuries in one form or another as groups with an information or knowledge advantage have tried to maintain their position of superiority with everything from guilds and associations to secret societies and esoteric languages. And even though teachers and educators have noble intentions, their position in our economy, by design is dependent upon a psychology of the scarcity of knowledge.

Whole categories of attributes from self-help to self-directed inquiry have been coined to disguise and set apart individual learning as an aberration so as not to displace the hierarchical power of educators. And yet, throughout history self-educated men and women from all walks of life and social stations have risen to the occasion of the challenges facing them. In so doing, they have set new standards for learning, which without question have raised the bar of achievement for their respective societies. But only in the latter half of the twentieth-century has the insidious notion that one must have the blessing of an institution to function in society been generally accepted without protest.

We need colleges and universities just as we need teachers and people who are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with others. But the idea that the only learning respectable enough for economic compensation comes from institutions, which treat it as a scarce resource, is patently absurd. The people named in the following list demonstrate this beyond doubt."

http://www.autodidactic.com/profiles/profiles.htm

Credentialism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credentialism

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PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 5:29 pm 
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PhDs are based on doctoral dissertations, but while peer reviewed by the supervising professors, these theses do not always present concrete facts we can rely on.

Case in point is this Israeli archaeologist who, through his own excavations, is essentially disproving elements of his own doctoral thesis.

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Archaeology / When Golan worshipers faced south

Zvi Maoz says that every day excavations at a synagogue among the ruins of the village of Dir Aziz force him to rip another page from his doctoral thesis on synagogues in the Golan Heights. Dir Aziz synagogue, next to Moshav Kanaf, has been excavated over the last five seasons and differs in many respects from other synagogues in the area....

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:10 pm 
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There are several PhDs appearing at this conference to prove that we are living in a geocentric, not heliocentric, system. There are articles and books here by PhDs proffering the scientific evidence of this contention. I guess we should just believe them because they've got PhDs. And, of course, we'd better ignore anyone with the contrary views who does not have a PhD. Without a PhD, they couldn't possibly know anything.

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Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right

Galileo Was Wrong is a detailed and comprehensive treatment of the scientific evidence supporting Geocentrism, the academic belief that the Earth is immobile in the center of the universe. Garnering scientific information from physics, astrophysics, astronomy and other sciences, Galileo Was Wrong shows that the debate between Galileo and the Catholic Church was much more than a difference of opinion about the interpretation of Scripture.

Scientific evidence available to us within the last 100 years that was not available during Galileo's confrontation shows that the Church's position on the immobility of the Earth is not only scientifically supportable, but it is the most stable model of the universe and the one which best answers all the evidence we see in the cosmos.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:33 pm 
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And here's a woman who has a PhD and a JD. She's also a psychic. So, I guess we should just believe everything she says, because, after all, she's got a PhD! In fact, she's got TWO doctorates, which makes her doubly correct. And anyone who disagrees with her but doesn't have a PhD can't know the truth.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:14 pm 
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Credentialism, Joseph Campbell and Mythicism

The late great mythologist Joseph Campbell was fortunate to have broken through the credentialist prejudice, as he was a widely admired scholar who nonetheless never acquired a PhD. Indeed, while he did possess a Master's, Campbell evidently deliberately rejected the PhD because of constraints put upon it by his advisors:

Quote:
On his return from Europe in 1929, Campbell announced to his faculty at Columbia that his time in Europe had broadened his interests and that he wanted to study Sanskrit and Modern Art in addition to Medieval literature. When his advisors did not support this, Campbell decided not to go forward with his plans to earn a doctorate and never returned to a conventional graduate program. He was very insistent, in later life, that he be addressed as Mr. Campbell, not Dr. Campbell.

As we know, Campbell went on to become one of the greatest scholars of religion and mythology of all time. There are several hints in his work that he did not consider the Bible to represent "history" and likely questioned whether or not Christ was a myth. How could he not, with his extensive knowledge of mythology and his evident common sense? Therefore, the contention that "no true scholar questions Christ's existence" would be demonstrated once again to be fallacious, since Campbell clearly was a true scholar.

When I was completing post-graduate studies with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece, most of my fellow students were PhD candidates. Many have gone on to acquire their PhDs. I was the second youngest student that year and had just graduated from college. I may easily have gone on to acquire a PhD, but I noticed the same thing as did Campbell: The constraints and channeling of one's interests to conform with the institution's desires. I decided at that point that I could not so conform, for a variety of reasons. Hence, I did not pursue that avenue. Instead, I entered the work force, but I eventually returned to the studies that I wanted to pursue - without constraints and conformity - and I've spent over two decades researching these subjects.

If I had pursued a PhD, I may have never discovered the information about Jesus mythicism. My advisors and superiors at any university I may have worked for quite likely would have frowned about such endeavors. I know this suggestion to be true because of the many messages I've received over the years from people in doctoral programs who cannot expose their "hobby" of Jesus mythicism.

The credentialist argument is fallacious. There are many people with PhDs who are not particularly bright or logical. There are also many people who have been pioneers in their fields with astonishing breakthroughs but who have not possessed degrees of any kind or in the relevant field, such as the young Michael Ventris, an amateur linguist who broke the code of the ancient Greek script Linear B. If he had listened to the credentialists, we may still be clueless as to that script. The Rosetta Stone's main decipherer, Champollion, likewise did not possess a doctorate; he succeeded, whereas the person with the advanced degree, Dr. Thomas Young (MD), did not. As I say, there are many other examples.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm 
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The credentialist argument is obviously wrong, and I know at least one atheist writer who is spreading it around, trying to prevent people from reading your work, Acharya.

Someone sent me this email about the mythicist position as you have defined it in your writings and video:

Quote:
Carrier: "It's hyperbolic and inaccurate. It's even worse than wrong, because by mixing sound with unsound statements and claims it makes mythicism look silly to any real expert, which is exactly the opposite effect we should want to have. We should be communicating to experts with only sound arguments and claims. That's the only way mythicism is going to ever become accepted by real experts (people with Ph.D.'s in ancient history or biblical studies--which Murdock is not)."

That would be Richard Carrier, who now has a PhD. Of course, until last year, he didn't have a PhD, so I suppose by his argument, we should not listen to anything he put out before that. When he was pressed about specifics in his objection to your work, he replied:

Quote:
Carrier: "That would take a whole book to explain. It's not worth the bother. Just read sound works, and you won't have to worry about fretting out the correct from the incorrect, which is a needless labor. Earl Doherty (he has two books on this) is the best current print defense of mythicism. The God Who Wasn't There is the best current video defense (though even that has some points of caution: see my discussion):
Code:
http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2009/03/god-who-wasnt-there.html

Stick with those for now (my books on the subject will likely appear next year)."

So, it's "not worth the bother" to study all the thousands of pages Acharya's put together basically proving the mythicist case. Here Carrier is basically admitting he's never read her work - just mindlessly dismissing it without giving it serious attention - yet he's presented himself over and over again as an expert on her and her work. He also refutes his own credentialism by bringing up Earl Doherty, of all people, who doesn't have a PhD.

When I read ridiculous, vague, inaccurate and hyperbolic statements like these from Richard Carrier, I have to wonder about what David Mills said in his review of Who Was Jesus?:

Quote:
D.M. Murdock/Acharya S, like all authors on controversial subjects, has many critics. But they all share one commonality: They don't know what they're talking about. Murdock understands many languages and has a breadth of knowledge her critics cannot match. This fact irks the uninformed. Having given a fair hearing to some of her online detractors and their "rebuttal" videos, I have detected not only a lack of knowledge on the part of her critics, but also, in some cases, a thinly disguised misogyny. Objectively speaking, D.M. Murdock is an attractive and dazzlingly brilliant woman. This is more intimidation than some men can handle, even some atheist men. To those who follow the teachings of the Apostle Paul, who forbade women to even speak in church, it "logically" follows that Ms. Murdock should remain silent as well, especially since she is grieving the Holy Ghost. In plain English, Murdock is dealt criticism that would never befall an ugly old man in a monastery. I would like to think that 21st-century America is beyond such juvenile conduct, but that is sadly not the case.

I frankly think that what makes mythicism look silly is unprofessional and unscientific behavior like Carrier's. And, by the way, Murdock clearly IS a "real expert" to those who have actually studied her work and who don't just make handwaving dismissals about something they themselves haven't even investigated. Carrier is not a "real expert" at all when it comes to Acharya's work, and he therefore should leave the commentary on it to those who have actually read it, such as:

"Your scholarship is relentless! ...the research conducted by D.M. Murdock concerning the myth of Jesus Christ is certainly both valuable and worthy of consideration." —Dr. Kenneth L. Feder, Professor of Archaeology, Central Connecticut State University, Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience In Archaeology

"I find myself in full agreement with Acharya S/D.M. Murdock... I find it undeniable that...many, many of the epic heroes and ancient patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament were personified stars, planets, and constellations..." —Dr. Robert M. Price, The Pre-Nicene New Testament

"I can recommend your work whole-heartedly!" —Dr. Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus and The New Testament Code, RobertEisenman.com

"Acharya S deserves to be recognized as a leading researcher and an expert in the field of comparative mythology, on a par with James Frazer or Robert Graves—indeed, superior to those forerunners in the frankness of her conclusions and the volume of her evidence." —Barbara Walker, The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets and Man Made God

"I've known people with triple Ph.D's who haven't come close to the scholarship in Who Was Jesus?" —Pastor David Bruce, M.Div, North Park Seminary, Chicago, HollywoodJesus.com

"Thirty years ago, when in divinity school, I might have had second thoughts about becoming an Episcopal priest if a book like D. M. Murdock's Who Was Jesus? had been available to me." —Bob Semes, Retired university professor of History and Religion, Founder and Executive Director of The Jefferson Center

"Ms. Murdock is one of only a tiny number of scholars with the richly diverse academic background (and the necessary courage) to adequately address the question of whether Jesus Christ truly existed as a walking-talking figure in first-century Palestine." —David Mills, Atheist Universe

"Thank you, Acharya, for the important work you are doing. Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of the Christ just might be the best short introduction to Biblical scholarship yet." —David Bergland, 1984 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate, Libertarianism In One Lesson

"...I have found her scholarship, research, knowledge of the original languages, and creative linkages to be breathtaking and highly stimulating." —Rev. Dr. Jon Burnham, Pastor, Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX

"Acharya S has done a superb job in bringing together the rich panoply of ancient world mythology and culture, and presenting it in a comprehensive and compelling fashion." —Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle

"The Christ Conspiracy—very, very scholarly and wholly researched—is a book for today..." Rev. B. Strauss, ex-Catholic Priest, Chicago, IL

"Amidst the global chaos of George Bush's War on Terror, largely founded on religious intolerance and simplistic notions of good and evil, Acharya S is the voice of reason." —Joan D'Arc, Paranoia

"D.M. Murdock could well be the most brilliant, insightful and rigorous theologian writing today." —Robert Tulip

"Acharya S is the ranking religious philosopher of our era." —John K.

"Acharya S/Murdock deserves an award for her hard work and courage. She is the Galileo of our day!" —Charles Johnson

"Acharya S knows more about the ancient Mysteries than any living scholar." —Christopher Knowles

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 1:17 pm 
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Acharya wrote:
As we know, Campbell went on to become one of the greatest scholars of religion and mythology of all time. There are several hints in his work that he did not consider the Bible to represent "history" and likely questioned whether or not Christ was a myth. How could he not, with his extensive knowledge of mythology and his evident common sense? Therefore, the contention that "no true scholar questions Christ's existence" would be demonstrated once again to be fallacious, since Campbell clearly was a true scholar.


All good points. Campbell really stuck it to them all in the end. "The Heros Journey" DVD about Campbell's life's work and accomplishments can be viewed here at google video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 089642558#

For any one interested in following what Campbell had to say about the Jesus myth, At 15:15 Campbell starts talking about Judeo-Christianity. And at 23:00 Campbell starts talking about the problem of taking mythology literally in historical terms. He then reads the Christ myth in terms of a mythological reading of the symbols stressing that it's a problem to read a mythology in terms of historicity instead of symbolism. He then goes into a side by side comparison of the Buddha and Christ myths. And around 33:00 he goes into the problem at hand here concerning the PhD and how he survived without it until eventually writing "The Hero With A Thousand Faces", which was a major slap in the face to all of the naysayers which tried to hold him back previously! And by the end of the video his life's work and major impact on comparative mythology and religion is viewed in celebration of his many accomplishments.

I've just recently gone back to the http://www.jcf.org forums to speak with the other members there about mythicism and the new MP. And I've invited any one interested to join us. The purpose of jcf is to bring awareness about the metaphorical language of mythology and religion and the many problems with literal interpretation. They want to emphasize the value of mythology as poetic expression and how religion can be appreciated in those terms without dogmatic literalistic belief.

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