Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by Joseph D. L. » Thu Aug 13, 2020 12:36 pm

this is a pure blind defamation of Carrier and I don't allow this, as I don't allow that false opposition Carrier versus Doherty.
Oh you don’t allow it? Tell me, Giuseppe, what are you going to do about it?

Carrier’s problem is his complete misuse and abuse of Bayes Theorem, as if theories can be confined within arbitrary statistics of probability? How the hell can anyone say one theory is more probable than another? And assigning percentages onto them is absolutely ludicrous.

Giuseppe, your problem is and always has been your arrogance and your “them vs. me” mentality. You have no interest in mutual discussion, you are here to preach your Gospel. That’s why everyone here hates you and regards your posts as childish and ignorant.

I hope I meet you one day, Giuseppe. I really hope I do.

davidmartin
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by davidmartin » Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:52 pm

Giuseppe, your problem is and always has been your arrogance and your “them vs. me” mentality. You have no interest in mutual discussion, you are here to preach your Gospel
Actually I do read Giuseppe's posts because i've figured one day he'll hit on something no-one else has noticed
What do I base this on?
It was Ben that gave me the idea in a recent thread where Paul's frivolous quoting of scripture resembled Giuseppe's own exegesis style, which is really rather Pauline. That makes his theories interesting, like driving in reverse-reverse is actually forwards, hence he's likely to unravel something so he should be encouraged. Just skip over anything you don't like, eg outer space crucifixions (assuming you don't believe it happened in outer space, apologies if so). The end result of all this is, i'm pro-Giuseppe and I'm a Michael Bolton fan

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:01 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:43 am
GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:09 am
I think you see the dilemma: an earthly Jesus doesn't mean a historical Jesus. But a historical Jesus means an earthly one. Odds of 2-to-1 in favour of a historical Jesus which doesn't mean an earthly Jesus isn't just being generous, it is nonsensical.
My impression is that Carrier has a very real blind spot when it comes to an earthly but not historical Jesus. That option just does not fit into his thinking until someone snaps him to attention in some way. I have pointed out before an exchange he had with Richard Parvus once, an exchange in which, as soon as Parvus mentioned a nonhistorical scenario being located "on earth," Carrier immediately thought Parvus was describing Docetism. His mind skipped right over the obvious position(s) in between the two.
Yes, it's clear from what he writes in OHJ that he has already ruled out any "earthly" mythicist theories, believing that the celestial version is the strongest. It might end up being true, but it seems to be untested by Carrier. He pays lip service to the idea but dismisses it straight away. Yet using his own odds, Wells' theory seems to score higher than Carrier's. If an earthly Jesus is more likely than a celestial Jesus, then mythicism might still be true, but it undercuts most of Carrier's mythicist theory, which uses a celestial Jesus to help create the odds.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:22 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:39 am
GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:09 am
Right. So from the POV of pure abstract logic, should an earthly Jesus count towards Carrier's minimal historicity theory, or should an earthly Jesus count towards Carrier's Celestial minimal mythicist theory?
An earthly mythical Jesus should count against historicity, obviously. But Carrier doesn't so for two reasons:
  • 1) he says that there is objectively more evidence of a celestial Jesus than of an earthly Jesus;
But where does Carrier actually show this to be the case? He just assumes it in OHJ. And look at the odds he gives: an earthly Jesus is 4 times more likely than a celestial one when it comes to "born of a woman" and "made from sperm". When you look at the other odds dealing with Paul's silence about a historical Jesus, these can be explained as well by Wells' theory of Paul's Jesus living in the remote past.

That's why I was interested when you wrote earlier, "In this thread I am listing the reasons why Carrier doesn't agree with the Wells's version of mythicism". I'd love to see that list!
Giuseppe wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:39 am
  • 2) he says that by doing so (considering an earthly mythical Jesus against historicity), he is not generous with historicity. It is a kind of fair play.
I don't understand what you mean, sorry.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:30 pm

davidmartin wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:52 pm
Actually I do read Giuseppe's posts because i've figured one day he'll hit on something no-one else has noticed
He's actually brought up a couple of things that have made me think. Unfortunately it is just too much noise amongst the signal, so I've largely switched off his threads.
davidmartin wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:52 pm
What do I base this on?
It was Ben that gave me the idea in a recent thread where Paul's frivolous quoting of scripture resembled Giuseppe's own exegesis style, which is really rather Pauline.
That's interesting, because I've thought the same. It gives a little insight to how early beliefs (later called 'heretical') developed. Some wild ideas tap into the zeitgeist and become mainstream. Or as they say (apologies if I've used this before): "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Giuseppe is only two steps away from winning! :cheers:
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:11 pm

I hold no brief from Dr Carrier, but it is permissible for a Bayesian analyst to project the set of logically admissible possibilities down to two hypotheses chosen for "match play," as he did in his book. That is, on the assumption that one or the other of the two chosen hypotheses is true, which of those two is more likely?

From a performance perspective, Carrier does a confusing job in defining his two contenders, by padding each with material that is not seriously disputed. Sorting all this out into two mutually exclusive disputed hypotheses and one all-but-undisputed background statement, we have:

Historical Jesus: An actual man who was at some point named Jesus acquired followers in life who continued as an identifiable movement after his death. Some of this man’s followers claimed that he had been executed by Jewish or Roman authorities.

Mythical Jesus: At the origin of Christianity, Jesus was thought to be a celestial deity who communicated with his subjects only through inspiration, such as by dreams, visions and prophecy (past or present). Jesus was believed to have endured ordeals in a supernatural realm involving incarnation, death, burial and resurrection.

Background: Early in the history of Christianity, some followers began worshiping Jesus as a living god or demigod. At some point, a story of this same Jesus was composed and told within the sacred community. Some or all communities taught that this story was real or both real and allegorical. The story situated Jesus on earth and in history as a divine man, with an earthly family, companions, enemies, deeds, sayings and an earthly depiction of his ordeals.

Thus, while plenty of literature's mythical characters are earth-dwellers, we (Carrier & his readers) are assuming for the sake of analysis that either Jesus is an actual man (and hence an earth-dweller as well) or else he's initially a celestial being (and so not originallly an earth-dweller). Earthly and historical do coincide in the reduced hypothesis space.

Nobody denies that the hypothesis space has been reduced. That is, the "real Jesus" may turn out to have been an earth-dwelling mythological figure, but that possibility is not represented in the analysis. Which is fine from any anti-historicist perspective.

The minimal orthodox hypothesis need only be defeated a posteriori by any one alternative for it to be more likely false than true. Carrier views the celestial hypothesis as a suitable champion, apparently because he believes it is better supported by evidence than other candidate alternatives to the orthodox historicist hypothesis.

Not your personal favorite flavor of mythicism? OK, you might still accept that Carrier has shown that orthodox historicism is not the most likely take on Jesus. If yours is even better than his, then yours, too, is better than orthodox historicism.

The projection of the hypothesis space also means that Carrier didn't match Wells against Doherty in the book. Perhaps he is doing so now in the Q&A thread.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:35 pm

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:11 pm
I hold no brief from Dr Carrier, but it is permissible for a Bayesian analyst to project the set of logically admissible possibilities down to two hypotheses chosen for "match play," as he did in his book. That is, on the assumption that one or the other of the two chosen hypotheses is true, which of those two is more likely?
True, but it is a little more than that. Dr Carrier isn't just saying he is pitting two competing theories -- celestial Jesus vs historical Jesus -- against each other, he is saying that all probability space is defined by those two theories. That is, any other mythicist theory is subsumed by his celestial theory.

From OHJ, page 55:

In any case, it's the extremely small prior probability of these 'alternatives' [i.e. alternative mythicist theories] that matters for the moment, because that means they take up so little of the prior-probability-space that we can safely ignore them...

Certainly, when framed like this, technically ~h (non-historicity) must also include all Jesus myth theories not defined by Premises I through 5 (that is, all theories of the evidence for Jesus that entail historicity is false and at least one of Premises I through 5 is false), but since their prior probability (even collectively) is surely less than a tenth of one percent (as I just reasoned), and their posterior probability not sufficiently high to make enough of a difference (especially in relation to minimal historicity), these theories share such a small portion of the probability-space occupied by ~h that they can simply be ignored.

But is that true? Arguably not. If you plug in Wells' mythicist theory using Carrier's own odds, it appears to come out as likely or even more likely than Carrier's celestial theory. Whenever Carrier reasons that "this is unexpected if Jesus was a man who lived recently" then the same odds can be applied to Wells' theory. Obviously the full case needs to be run, but at worst Wells' theory is demonstrably more than "a tenth of one percent" using Carrier's own odds.
Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:11 pm
Not your personal favorite flavor of mythicism? OK, you might still accept that Carrier has shown that orthodox historicism is not the most likely take on Jesus. If yours is even better than his, then yours, too, is better than orthodox historicism.
That's true enough. But if (1) Wells' earthly mythical theory approaches the celestial mythicist theory in strength, and (2) there is overlap between an earthly historical Jesus and an earthly mythical Jesus; then that suggests that there is a foundational problem with how Carrier's case is grounded. If Wells' theory is shown to be stronger, then Carrier's celestial Jesus theory should be discarded and the calculations redone between an earthly MJ and earthly HJ. If that results in showing Wells' mythicist theory is stronger than the historicist theory, so be it.

At the very least, Carrier's own odds show that Wells' theory (to paraphrase Carrier) doesn't "share such a small portion of the probability-space occupied by ~h that it can simply be ignored." That in itself should raise a large question mark with how his case is laid out.
Last edited by GakuseiDon on Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Giuseppe
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:44 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:22 pm
Giuseppe wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:39 am
  • 2) he says that by doing so (considering an earthly mythical Jesus against historicity), he is not generous with historicity. It is a kind of fair play.
I don't understand what you mean, sorry.
Carrier himself said me that, if I had followed the Parvus's theory (about only an earthly mythical crucifixion), then I would have increased the probabilities against historicity and not decreased them. This is easy to understand, isn't it? The historicist should prove not only that Jesus was not in outer space, but also that he was really historical from a real POV (and not only in the mind of Christian hallucinators). Clearly it is quasi a mission impossible, since our only decisive sources are only of Christian hallucinators.

But from the other hand, the problem for mythicists is that the definition of earthly mythicism can't exorcize definitively the possibility that the earthly Jesus of Paul was a historical Jesus too. I mean: it can't exorcize that possibility as and better than the outer space mythicism does. From this more intellectually honest POV, earthly mythicism has to be labelled as Jesus Agnosticism. This term fits the fact that Wells never said that "Jesus never existed" (a clear example: he was always open to the possibility that the essene Teacher was the real historical Jesus) , while Doherty could well say so.

This is the reason Ben appears dangerously as a crypto-Christian in my eyes. Can you prove that his secret agenda is not the following:
  • 1) Jesus is earthly in Paul
  • 2) Jesus can still be mythical
  • 3) but with equal probability an earthly Jesus can still be historical
  • 4) the faith is not missing in the Christians
  • 5) therefore: the Christian faith is saved for other 2000 years.
If you are intellectually honest, GDon, then you have to recognize that the point (3) is true. Ben himself considered the earthly mythicism as a compromise in the middle. A compromise is by definition something that satisfies both the sides.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Giuseppe
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:54 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:22 pm
Giuseppe wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:39 am
  • 1) he says that there is objectively more evidence of a celestial Jesus than of an earthly Jesus;
But where does Carrier actually show this to be the case?
It is the reason I have started this thread, not to defame Carrier. In the quote of my first post, Carrier confutes at least the principal objection by Wellsians: that the passage from outer space Jesus to earth Jesus was unexpected as process. The fact that a similar process happened for Osiris proves that that passage could be expected with equal expectation for Jesus too.

I wait the Carrier's answers to the other points. Fortunately, we have a good Wellsian defender who has just posted in his blog.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Giuseppe
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Re: Richard Carrier versus George Albert Wells

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:25 pm

This answer of Carrier to my question, made in a time when Parvus was still mythicist, proves that really Ben is totally wrong in his defaming judgement on Carrier:

Either way, there was no actual historical Jesus. So that’s not really an issue. If a mythical earth-death is at all plausible, it just increases the probability of non-historicity. Because the probability-space occupied by that option will be added to the probability-space occupied by the celestial-death theory.

In my next book I have a note acknowledging the possibility. But there is no support for it in the background evidence, or indeed any evidence at all, as opposed to the celestial death theory, which has both (as I extensively document in my next book). It therefore is far more defensible. That doesn’t mean the earth-death theory is false. It just means it’s far easier to defend the celestial-death theory.

https://www.richardcarrier.info/archive ... ment-15123

Hence it is wrong this claim:
GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:35 pm
Dr Carrier isn't saying he is pitting two competing theories -- celestial Jesus vs historical Jesus -- against each other, he is saying that all probability space is defined by those two theories.
...since Carrier talks clearly about an addition of a probability-space to a distinct probability-space.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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