New Pages on Κέλσος

I have added some new pages to the website that can be accessed on the top menu bar:

First, due to some hostile attention I have received on some outside Christian websites, a number of trolls have been drawn here and started posting ad hominem attacks in their comments. Here is an example of one such trolling that will not be tolerated. Accordingly, I have added a comment policy to make clear what types of behavior will cause comments to not be approved.

Another issue is that many people who disagree with my posts have posted overly lengthy, Gish Gallop comments that seek to swarm the website. One such example is here, where I ended up typing 20 double-spaced pages in response to a guy. I do not have time to write massive essays to everyone who disagrees with me. You are free to argue with me on this website, but please keep comments concise and limited to about 750 words. I try to respond to as many people as I can, but realize that I will only approve comments that I have the time and interest to respond to. This page is not a web forum and I reserve the right to limit the amount of discussion on a topic according to my schedule.

On another note, I have added a recommend readings section that includes links and reviews to books and websites that are valuable naturalist, atheist, and skeptical resources. I will be updating this list as I get more time and as I find more valuable counter-apologetic works to recommend.

-Matthew Ferguson

This entry was posted in Announcements. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to New Pages on Κέλσος

  1. exrelayman says:

    One of the lurkers, induced to speak up a bit by this particular post and the necessity for it.
    1) First I wish to thank you for the work you put into this excellent and well reasoned blog.
    2) I am glad to see you taking steps to manage your dealings with the less reasonable believers (thank goodness we live when we do – they used to be able to burn us at the stake!).
    3) In support of my terminology ‘less reasonable’, I offer the following consideration: our empirical observations and reasonable inferences therefrom are questioned (“…zero evidence that another mind exists…” , Stephen Law called this going nuclear) while inconsistent and incoherent writings from anonymous bronze age writers are taken as indubitable evidence. Where there is indeed ‘zero evidence’: the existence of God, heaven, hell, souls, etc.
    4) Carry on good sir. As for me, I have no blog. Part of why is my revulsion for interacting with these sorts. If you fail to persist in responding to them, they claim victory because you ‘ran away’.

    • Thanks for reading the blog and for the encouragement! Yeah, I picked up some rather obsessive and unreasonable trolls from outside Christian sites recently, but hopefully it will die down here soon. I suppose it is good to know that Celsus is getting under their skin. It was great to hear that I am not the only recognized how ridiculous this was getting!

  2. Welcome aboard! BTW God must exist because you think God doesn’t exist.
    sincerely,
    CS Lewis

  3. Matt says:

    What do you guys say when an Apologist says how the disciples couldn’t possibly have made up the Gospels because of the negative image they shed on themselves?

    • Their claim is based on the false premise that the disciples actually wrote the Gospels. The Gospels are anonymous works written by literate Greek-speakers most likely in the Jewish Diaspora, which does not match the illiterate, Aramaic-speaking, and Galilean Jews who were Jesus’ earliest followers. The church fathers in the 2nd century CE attributed the works to the disciples and their companions for the purposes of canon. So it’s not established that the disciples made up anything in the Gospels.

      Furthermore, the negative depiction of the disciples can largely be explained in terms of Hellenistic literary motifs. MacDonald in “Foolish Companions” (pgs. 20-23) in The Homeric Epics and the Gospels of Mark shows how the disciples in many ways are depicted to parallel the foolishness of Odysseus’ companions. Likewise, Carrier in Proving History (pgs. 124-169) discusses the criterion of embarrassment and shows that it is largely irrelevant when dealing with the literary genre of the Gospels.

      Also, part of why the disciples are depicted in a negative light at parts is simply because the passion narrative needed to emphasize that Jesus was abandoned. The author of Mark wanted to depict Jesus as a Suffering Servant forsaken by all, so he had all the disciples abandon Jesus to express his level of betrayal. In short, the disciples’ embarrassment issue is all literary and there is no reason to think that these details couldn’t have been invented by later authors.

    • The Gospels were forever made for Tweakers
      “In short, the disciples’ embarrassment issue is all literary..”
      I agree with this. But what is interesting about your question is twofold for bible study: 1) What really is the ‘root’ message of these 4 gospels and 2) How gospel verisimilitude is both intriguing & insidious. Let’s start with the latter goody, how inserting tangential stuff makes any gospel sound much more real.
      For example lets take Mark 15:21 ‘the sons of Simon of Cyrene’. Hmmm, why name them at all? Of what use? Sure it sounds a bit real. Maybe it is real! Maybe its ALL REAL (heart palpitating)!!! On YouTube they have a vid where Christopher Hitchens had a bit of a spell with gospel verisimilitude over the nativity narrative. Fun to watch and I don’t blame him, it can easily happen (blush). Simply, some gospel parts sound authentic because they are so out-of-place or embarrasing to the person in question. [Gospel Author] “Heh, Booyah Baby!!” So how can the reader tell that it isn’t for real? Well let’s go back to my first part about discerning the ‘root’ storyline.
      Can each of the 4 gospels be reduced to a singular shared tale between them? Yes, it’s called ‘the Jesus Story’.
      The Jesus Story (the root component, and martyr theme of the NT)
      a. A man is perceived as holy & a wise teacher.
      b. The man goes to the capitol city of the Old Religion.
      c. The man antagonizes the administrators of the Old Religion.
      d. The man is executed for his transgression against the Old Religion.
      So, as a gospel author, you construct/weave around this theme your own particular flavor of theology. All your miracles, cautionary tales & morality/heresy proscriptions. You use examples from the literature of the time (especially Josephus), you might even lift/re-brand kewl passages from them without any qualms at all. Remember, there are quite a few examples of Jesus gospels that did not make the canon, NONE of them alter these Jesus Story points. Here Richard Carrier explains the very skillful way Mark did his Gospel:
      Mythic Structure of Mark’s Gospel, Richard Carrier [AUDIO]

      So once you finish your gospel up, send it on its way and just forget about any proper authorship credit. Why? Because every scribe in Jerusalem/Rome is going to add & subtract, modify, tweak, explain better, remove completely, rename, put their buddies in, put their enemies down, blast Jews, pump Romans, mitigate Pilate, make Peter less stupid, and finally say who they think wrote it… uh you get the idea 🙂
      One last thing, in our own rustic past all the ladies of a small town would sew together something called a ‘victory quilt’ or ‘town history’ or ‘commemorative’ quilt. Each lady would complete a section of the town tapestry to tell it’s particular story. Well a famous theologian (KL Schmidt) discovered that this sort of communal endeavor best explains the genre of all the gospels themselves. They are kleinliteratur (low literature) or better translated: folk literature.
      The Genre of the Gospels, how the consensus changed (series @ vridar.com)
      -bunto

  4. Matthew: Hi! Are you the same fellow who posts on Amazon under the name of “Celsus?” Glad to see you’re going forward with your historical studies.

    Someone brought your blog to my attention on another site. Looking things over, it doesn’t appear that you much welcome challenges from Christians. So I’ll keep this brief.

    You cited one of Hector Avalos’ attacks on me, in which he purported to teach people at DC better understand how to do history, in one of these posts.

    Dr. Avalos’ criticisms were tendentious and almost entirely irrelevant to the topic we had been discussing — and you are discussing here, the Resurrection. But no matter. What I find more interesting, is that in the discussion section, in effect Avalos admitted that “historical knowledge” is impossible:

    http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2013/07/hector-avalos-debunks-all-historical.html

    I’m not sure how far you want to follow him off that cliff. But as a young historian, I think you would do well to lean on a wider range of historians than the ideological partisans you seem to favor in this blog.

    All the best.

    David

    • Greetings Dr. Marshall,

      No, I am not the Celsus on your book review. Glad to see that my blog has attracted someone of your reputation.

      First, please note that I have received a swarm of overly lengthy and often disorganized comments after my blog gained attention in your circles recently. They take time to sort through and I am likewise prioritizing my response to Mr. Peters currently.

      I only have so much time and energy, as I am sure you can understand. Personally, I thought Dr. Avalos’ article was insightful and as a professor at Iowa State, he is hardly fringe. It looks like the article you posted largely straw manned him, but I am not going to get involved in a side argument about it for the present.

      I invite people to read what Dr. Avalos had written:

      http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2013/04/alexander-great-jesus-and-david.html

      And to read this response:

      http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2013/07/hector-avalos-debunks-all-historical.html

      I think people who read the issues critically won’t have much problem with what Dr. Avalos said.

      Thank your for your kind tone and good to hear from you, Dr. Marshall.

      Sincerely,

      Matthew Ferguson

    • Hmmm. Why not fisk the professor’s first comment?
      [DM] “Matthew: Hi! Are you the same fellow who posts on Amazon under the name of “Celsus?” Glad to see you’re going forward with your historical studies.”
      I wonder what did this fellow who posts on Amazon under the name of “Celsus” say exactly? Don’t leave us hanging if it’s HOT STUFF!
      [DM] “Someone brought your blog to my attention on another site. Looking things over, it doesn’t appear that you much welcome challenges from Christians. So I’ll keep this brief.”
      Gee, I wonder what exactly gave you that idea? Maybe MWF’s lengthy responses aren’t that plain for all to see here? As far as welcoming challenges from xians…of course! The site is named AdversusApologetica rather than MuslimChefTips. I know, we tried 🙂
      [DM] “You cited one of Hector Avalos’ attacks on me, in which he purported to teach people at DC better understand how to do history, in one of these posts.
      Dr. Avalos’ criticisms were tendentious and almost entirely irrelevant to the topic we had been discussing — and you are discussing here, the Resurrection. But no matter. What I find more interesting, is that in the discussion section, in effect Avalos admitted that “historical knowledge” is impossible:
      Really? That’s a shame. BTW isn’t free, open and honest dialog refreshing… rather than say, having your fellow believers persist on trolling anyone who counters your assertions? Surely no need to advise against someone you might know of doing this? Or perhaps even going so far as to characterize those numerous posts (which you admit) that reasonably indicate the flaws and shortcomings of your own position (say Avalos for example) as something less than ‘attacks’?
      [DM] “I’m not sure how far you want to follow him off that cliff. But as a young historian, I think you would do well to lean on a wider range of historians than the ideological partisans you seem to favor in this blog.”
      It seems to me that this statement, with little modification, could also be used as a rejoinder to itself. It was also kindly for the good professor to leave off the “…or else” portion at the end too.
      All the better to frame it as ‘friendly advice’ given at the first visit, eh DM? I wonder if MWF continues to post his sensible, thorough & well-thought-out articles as usual, some more friendly (ahem) career advice from the professor will be forthcoming?

      all the best
      -bunto

  5. Hello DM, thx for coming by. Just to verify, are you saying that you see a valid position within this sort of ‘historical’ thinking about the Resurrection miracle? This is an excerpt from the ongoing “Minimalist Facts Pillars” from Nick Peters.

    [DeeperWaters]For instance, Pinchas Lapide is a Jewish scholar who thinks God raised Jesus from the dead. We differ on the meaning and interpretation of that event and if we had a dialogue, that is what I would want to talk about. In my response, I said it’s fine for you to have a different reason why you think it happened. Just be able to argue a case for it. All the minimal facts is out to prove is the event of the resurrection. It cannot say anything about the meaning of the resurrection or even the source of the resurrection. [drumroll please]

    Of course, it would be my hope that someone would come to the conclusion that Jesus is who He said He was and that God raised Him from the dead, but I have to go beyond just the minimal facts for that.[rimshot-cymbalcrash-flam]

    ps. personally, I don’t mind challenges from Xians that aren’t too “screwy squirrel” 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s