Saturday, 14 July 2012

Questions on Mythicism and Denial Movements

A big thank you to those of you who participated in my Virtually University sessions on Mythicism and the question of Jesus’ existence. From talking to other teachers, I wonder if my class was more a chat about some stuff I find interesting than a proper university style lecture, but hey - it was more fun than teaching the ontological argument.

I was really impressed by the quality of some of the thinking and the questions you raised, and pleasantly surprised that many of you could anticipate some key Mythicist arguments and the counter-arguments to these. I was also pleased that a couple of you had even heard of exciting things like Q and the apocryphal gospels... though on reflection, perhaps you’ve just been watching The Da Vinci Code?

I did say that I would post some follow up work for you, so here it is. Below are a few questions that I think were raised in the course of our sessions:

  • How strong is the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus?
  • How convincing is the mythicist case against the existence of Jesus?
  • Why makes some people reject the consensus view of experts in particular field?
  • What is the role of ideology in shaping way denial movements use evidence and the conclusions they draw?
  • Is mythicism a denial movement?
  •  Is rejection of human-caused global warming a form of denial?
  • Is denying scientific consensus (such as evolution or HIV as a cause of AIDS) different to denying historical consensus (such as the existence of Jesus)?

Please could you pick one of these questions, research the issues raised, and write me a response.  I won’t ask for it to be done by Monday – I’d rather you took your time doing some reading and thinking and came back to me later, even if it’s in the holidays. I’m also planning to post my own thoughts on a few of these questions over the next week or two, so you may wish to read those posts too.

You can either email me your work to my school account or post them as a comment below, though please remember the house rules.

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