As most of you who know me have found out, I spend a fair amount of time on this site not just making friends and having conversations, but also have debates which usually center around history. I am not a professional historian, but I am pretty well-read on the subject and consider it one of my hobbies, so I usually find myself debating with people not very familiar with the issues.

What I've noticed is that many atheists are not as historically literate as they think (I've come to blame this on the fact that for many people, science is what drives them away for religion, so most people on this site come from a scientific background rather than a historical one), and so they've usually accepted some historical myths which may or may not include:

- the New Testament canon was chosen by Constantine based on which ideas were most likely to help him as an Emperor

- Jesus never existed as a historical figure and is a construction of Messianic ideals/conglomeration of multiple preachers/alien

- the Roman Empire fell because it incorporated Christianity

- "the Vatican" suppressed science during the "Dark Ages" and basically whenever it could, burning many scientists in the process

- the Vatican actively helped National Socialism before, during and after the Second World War

- the Vatican blew up the Crab Nebula

- etcetera...

As it turns out these ideas are at the core of many people's atheism and their arguments against Christianity, which I believe to be a bad thing since (a) much of it is wrong bordering on the conspiratorial and (b) any half-informed Christian debater is going to kick your ass on this issue.

I'm not very fond of either result, but since these myths just refuse to die (and I get tired of refuting them sometimes) I thought I'd create a series of blog posts on these subjects to give you an idea of what we do and do not know about these subjects and what arguments (against Christianity) are sound and which are not.

I'll also probably tackle other issues from time to time and give you some arguments against Christianity from an atheist historical perspective (debunk the resurrection argument, expose the Turin Shroud as a fake, etcetera).

The first series is probably going to be about Jesus Mythicism. CP Hold is actually doing a series on his blog trying to refute the arguments against Jesus Mythicism (and doing a fantastically poor job). But he's chosen not to allow my comments, for reasons best known to him. So I guess I'll just address his arguments on my own blog and debunk some other stuff while I'm at it ;)

Stay tuned and kind regards,

Mathieu

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Comment by Jason Fleming on January 11, 2012 at 6:49pm

Thou shalt not suffer a troll to live. 

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on January 11, 2012 at 5:42pm

Matt, isn't it true that the church burned people for being heretics? Somewhere between one and five hundred thousand women burned for sorcery; in addition various degrees of ostracism for heresy, a handbook of torture used by inquisitors, in numerous inquisitions? How prevalant were scientists during this period in any event? What would have happened to any scientists who openly criticized church doctrine?

Unless what I have learned is false then I wonder if you are doing more of a disservice in correcting factual errors (at least withou giving context) which detract from an understanding of the milieu.

Comment by Matt VDB on January 11, 2012 at 5:19pm

Jeremy,

Richard Carrier is actually one of the people who needs to decide whether or not he wants to be an academic scholar or... a preacher. As far as I can tell, after his degree he has not peer-reviewed any of his works. And the one he did try got rejected.

So while he pushes some very controversial theses (he sort of cheerleads for Jesus Mythicism and is one of the last proponents of the Conflict Thesis), he has never went out into the academic world and actually advanced them. He just... blogs about them to fellow atheists. That seems a waste of talent at best, and preaching nonsense to the choir at worst.

Glen,

The usual definition of "The Dark Ages" is something like that, yes (though more precisely it's usually either 500-1000 or 500-1250), though it's not really used anymore by the relevant scholars. They prefer to simply call it the Early Middle Ages.

And I didn't mention the idea that Christianity is antithetical to science at all. I do think it is, but the idea that the Church burned people for doing science is still nonsense.

And thanks for the kind words Rob ;)

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on January 11, 2012 at 3:09pm

Matt, Are you defining dark ages as period from fall of roman empire to beginning of ren.?

Are you arguing broadly that all-consuming christianity is not antithetical to science?

Comment by Russell20 on January 11, 2012 at 3:08pm

Good idea,but have you considered looking at the ideas of Richard Carrieryou can find him here

http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier

However, he still has GA Wells in the Jesus mtyhicism camp despite Well's agnosticism but his blog is worth reading

Comment by Rob van Senten on January 11, 2012 at 5:46am

Hi Mathieu, 

Yeah, we know who you are! You're that pesky guy that dares to speak up against people being historically ignorant. I appreciate your input on these topics, after all ignorance is not something to be ashamed of if you're open to changing your views as new (better) information comes in. 

You've been branded a "secret theist" on this forum as well as a troll and recently a racist, so I think that you show some of your character in continuing to fight ignorance and misinformation on A|N. Bravo!

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