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Richard Carrier

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

Richard Carrier (1969–) is an American historian, author and atheist. Carrier strongly advocates atheism, especially Atheism Plus,[2] as well as metaphysical naturalism. Carrier openly doubts the historicity of Jesus. He has also written of his doubts on Hitler's Table Talk,[3] 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, Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus was claimed to be "the first comprehensive pro-Jesus myth book ever published by a respected academic press and under formal peer review".[4][5]

Carrier's reputation within the atheist community was largely brought to an end due to allegations in court of sexually exploiting his students followed by his repeatedly lying about the topic right up until the present. According to his 2020 CV, he does not appear to have taught in any post-secondary institution since 2000.[6]


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.

Carrier is a prolific writer. If there's an argument for the existence of God, or against atheism, he has probably thoroughly debunked it in his books, on blogs, or in public speaking events. He is known to give positive arguments for the conclusion that there is no god (strong atheism).

The importance of Philosophy itself is covered in the introduction to Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism, and in a Skepticon talk entitled "Is Philosophy Stupid?"[7]

Carrier defines the supernatural as irreducible mind (spirit) or mental property, often with direct causal powers (magic) all without underlying physical causes.[8] This is basically the mind stuff from dualism. He presents evidence that this is the definition most people actually use in practice.


[An error many historians make] is to say “My theory explains the evidence, therefore my theory is true!” They forget to ask if an alternative explanation also explains the same evidence just as well (or even better).
—Richard Carrier[9]

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, though the peer review process of it has come under scrutiny, as Carrier chose his reviewers, producing a biased outcome.[10] The claim that it is the first peer-reviewed comprehensive mythicist work is likewise incorrect, since Jean Magne's 1993 title From Christianity to Gnosis was published by Brown University through Scholars Press in the Brown Judaic Studies series, and argued that Christianity had a gnostic origin with no historical founder, a full twenty years before Carrier's case was made.[11]

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.

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.[4]:600

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.

On the Historicity of Jesus got a book review in the December 2014 issue of Journal of Religious History.[12] 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."[13]

To date, Lataster's review remains the only one to condone Carrier's methods and conclusions in academic literature.

Sexual harassment[edit]

Carrier has sexually harassed a number of women, which led to him getting the perma-ban from Skepticon.[14] As the official affidavits have shown, he demonstrated his clear intellectual dishonesty by attempting to trade sex for a recommendation letter.[15] He since attempted to then sue the people who ousted him as a sexual deviant and an abuser who used his prominent position in the atheist community to get sex, including his attempts to hit on married women. This all occurred while Carrier himself was married, thus he was cheating on his wife in addition (honest person right?). He then tried to "come out" as polyamorous, despite the fact that this isn't a sexual orientation and doesn't exempt him of being a horrible human being.[16]


  • Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism, AuthorHouse, 2005 ISBN 1420802933
  • The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave, edited by Robert Price & Jeffery Jay Lowder. Prometheus, 2005
  • Not the Impossible Faith, Lulu, 2009 ISBN 0557044642
  • 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, 2012
  • On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014 ISBN 1909697494
  • Science Education in the Early Roman Empire, Pitchstone, 2016 ISBN 9781634310901

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Wisconsin Atheists. "Richard Carrier: The Historicity of Jesus." YouTube. 2012 July 2.
  2. "Atheism… Plus What?" Talk @ AACON 2013
  3. See the Wikipedia article on Hitler's Table Talk.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Carrier, Richard (2014). On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Sheffield Phoenix Press. ISBN 9781909697492. Retrieved 31 Jan 2019. 
  5. Richard Carrier (July 17, 2013) Update on Historicity of Jesus, though it should be noted that this is false, given Thomas L. Brodie's peer reviewed book released in 2012 by the same press, Sheffield Phoenix Press. Carrier overstates his case about his publication due to his ignorance of modern scholarship, and also his positions in his book. On the other hand, Brodie's book is a memoir. It is not actually a defense of Jesus mythicism. Response: Jean Magne's defense was done in peer review through Brown Judaic Studies series in 1993, arguing that Christianity had a gnostic origin with no historical Jesus. Thus, Carrier is still not the first in even the last 30 years.
  6. Curriculum Vitae: Richard C. Carrier, Ph.D,, 20 July 2020. Carrier's 2000-2003 work was as a librarian's assistant, not as a teacher or instructor.
  7. Is Philosophy Stupid? - Richard Carrier - Skepticon 6, HamboneProductions on YouTube, 29 November 2013.
  8. Defining the Supernatural,, 18 January 2007.
  9. Carrier (25 April 2016). “Bart Ehrman Just Can’t Do Truth or Logic”. Richard Carrier Blogs.
  10. Jerry Russell, "Carrier: Meet Barnum & Bailey," PostFlaviana (January 2015)
  11. Jean Magne, From Christianity to Gnosis and from Gnosis to Christianity, Brown Judaic Studies (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993)
  12. 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
  13. Raphael Lataster "Review of Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt - Jun 2014"
  14. Re: Richard Carrier's Allegations Against Skepticon, Inc., 1 September 2016.
  15. Dr. Richard Carrier vs. Freethought Blogs, et. al., 20 September 2016.
  16. Dr. Richard Carrier, PhD – A creepy, dishonest hypocrite,, 23 February 2015.