Wednesday, June 9, 2010

About that Anti-Monster Dogmatic Worldview...

This is an excellent YouTube video of a series of clips from a lecture by Robert M. Price.

I lack the necessary time to say anything about the video itself now, but suffice it to say I’m a fan.

My disturbingly, massively long treatise on battleships is drawing to a close while I focus far more specifically on my other topic of awesomeness of the moment: the Byzantine Empire.  To study the Byzantines even at the highest level without studying theology is to both not understand what drove the Empire and to decide that you don’t actually want to.  I have been thinking of looking at the Byzantines as an example of how an educated society handles religious disputes when religion is the very center of everyday life.

It was originally about how the argument by apologists that without religion society will disintegrate is completely and totally wrong, not in that society won’t disintegrate, but in that religion has no magical adhesive effect and, often, does quite the opposite.  But as the Byzantine narrative unfolds that seems far too limiting.

Either way, as I move from the modern narrative to the medieval, consider the words of Price.  And, hell, next time I hit AtF consider the words of Price.

Also, one of the things he points out in the video is that historians can be skeptical of the Jesus story and apologists can in no way prove it, but that these two things do not mean that the story can be disproven.  I’m aware of many people who would say that’s wrong.  I agree with the point.

One of the interesting things that you learn about historians, especially the ancient ones, is that they care about what they care about and focus on what they focus on.  At one point (and I forget which, damn my eyes!)  during Byzantium: The Apogee, John Julius Norwich laments the fact that the primary (by which I mean both primary in terms of "source nearest to the moment" and "source from which we can draw information) source we have of a particular treaty devoted his entire narrative to the pomp and ceremonial surrounding it and never actually bothered to record the terms of the agreement.  These things happen.

Moreover, it’s not like we have an official record of all the days on which no one came back to life at the local cemetery.  No one keeps track of such things because, and I’m gonna go out on a limb here by saying this, no one really feels they have to.  Even in ancient times where the idea of a resurrection from the dead didn’t seem quite so impossible.

We do have plenty of evidence that people were accidentally interred while still alive.  The entire point of the wake was originally to make sure that the person didn’t, y’know, wake up.  There were clever devices that could be used to sound an alarm should someone awaken and find themselves prematurely entombed.  Vampire myths and other stories of the undead seem to have arisen from the unearthing of graves where the buried wasn’t actually dead, leading to a few final, horrific hours clawing futilely at a sealed casket.

But even with all of that, no one sat at the cemetery gates with a spreadsheet that read, “April 4th: no one came back.  April 5th: no one came back.  April 6th: no one came back.”

All we have is the knowledge that there isn’t enough evidence to even conclusively prove Jesus of Nazareth existed, let alone was the son of god born of a virgin who died and on the third (second…) day rose again.  All we have is the knowledge that children aren’t born of virgins (I mean, with the possible exception of in-vitro fertilization) and don’t come back from the dead today and the biology probably hasn’t changed much in the last two thousand years.  To attempt to prove even one iota more would be folly and result in failure.

Either way, go watch some R.M. Price. (Via Atheist Experience…).


Anonymous said...


My search-fu is weak, I cannot find his full talk, or any more of it than this one video. Any clues?

- YetAnotherKevin

Anonymous said...

Never mind, found it.
"robert price part 1"
"robert price part 2"
"robert price part 3"

Thanks for pointing me to it.

- YetAnotherKevin