Richard Carrier

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If you don't hear it from me, be skeptical of it.
—Richard Carrier[1]

Richard Carrier (b. 1969) is an American historian, author and atheist. Carrier is well known as an author on Infidels.org.

Carrier is a big advocate of atheism, especially Atheism Plus,[2] as well as metaphysical naturalism (see his website). Carrier openly doubts the historicity of Jesus. He has also written of his doubts on Hitler's Table Talk, a collection of private conversations between Adolf Hitler and his confidants which suggest that Hitler was an atheist (despite years of personal affirmations to Christianity in speeches and books), citing authors' bias, differing accounts, and problems with translations between German, French, and English.

In June 2014, Richard Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt Sheffield Phoenix Press. ISBN 1-909697-49-2 became "the first comprehensive pro-Jesus myth book ever published by a respected academic press and under formal peer review".[3]

Biography[edit]

Carrier knows five languages, comes from a freethinking Methodist family, and was married to Jennifer Robin Paynter (1995-2015) until he came out as polyamorous. He served in the United States Coast Guard for two years (1990-1992). He has a Ph.D. in Ancient History from Columbia University (2008). Among other organizations, he's a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

If there's an argument for the existence of God, or against atheism, he has probably thoroughly debunked it somewhere in his prolific writing (from his old Blogspot Blog, his new blog at Freethought Blogs, at Infidels.org, and his books) and public speaking (often viewable on YouTube). He also gives positive arguments for the conclusion that there is no god (strong atheism).

The importance of Philosophy itself is covered in both the introduction to Sense and Goodness Without God, and his talk "Is Philosophy Stupid?".

He defines the supernatural as irreducible mind (spirit) or mental property, often with direct causal powers (magic) all without underlying physical causes. This is basically the mind stuff from dualism. He presents evidence that this is the definition most people actually use in practice.

Publications[edit]

  • Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism (AuthorHouse: 2005).
  • The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave (Prometheus: 2005), edited by Robert Price & Jeffery Jay Lowder.
  • Not the Impossible Faith, (Lulu: 2009).
  • Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith (Philosophy Press: 2011).
  • Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus (Prometheus Books: 2012).
  • On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (Sheffield Phoenix Press: 2014).

Jesus[edit]

Carrier is an independent author and researcher not attached to any academic institution. His book On the Historicity of Jesus was published by an academic press.

Carrier is a proponent of the idea that Jesus never existed as a historical figure in any meaningful way. He uses Bayesian logic to claim that since religious figures with characteristics similar to Jesus did not exist, then probably neither did Jesus.[4] The non-existence of Jesus is a respectable but minority position among scholars. Carrier's application of Bayes's Theorem to the question has not been widely accepted.

It should be mentioned that On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt got a book review in the December 2014 issue of Journal of Religious History[5] An earlier version of this review states "As a result, this work far outdoes anything the typically-amateurish mythicists have produced to date, but is also methodologically superior to the work of more respected and mainstream historicist scholars. (...) On the Historicity of Jesus is clearly and convincingly argued, extensively researched, solidly referenced, and is essential reading for those open to questioning the historical Jesus, and to those who want to learn how historical theorising ought to be done."[6]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Wisconsin Atheists. "Richard Carrier: The Historicity of Jesus." YouTube. 2012 July 2.
  2. "Atheism… Plus What?" Talk @ AACON 2013
  3. Richard Carrier (July 17, 2013) Update on Historicity of Jesus
  4. “In my estimation the odds Jesus existed are less than 1 in 12,000. Which to a historian is for all practical purposes a probability of zero For comparison, your lifetime probability of being struck by lighting is around 1 in 10,000. That Jesus existed is even less likely than that. Consequently, I am reasonably certain there was no historical Jesus… When I entertain the most generous estimates possible, I find I cannot by any stretch of the imagination the probability Jesus existed is better than 1 in 3.” On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (Sheffield Phoenix Press: 2014) p. 600
  5. Lataster, R. (2014), Richard Carrier: On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014; pp. xiv + 696.. J Relig Hist, 38: 614–616. doi:10.1111/1467-9809.12219
  6. Raphael Lataster "Review of Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt - Jun 2014"