Saturday, December 17, 2005

Westar Turns Down $5,000 offer for Jesus Myth Debate

Mythicist Earl Doherty posted an interesting tale at Internet Infidels of a $5,000 funding offer for a mythicism vs. historicism debate in Westar's Fourth R :

...But I thought I would inform the Board of a recent proposal made to the editor of the Fourth R, the magazine of the Westar Institute, the umbrella organization for the Jesus Seminar. This person, who is familiar with and has admired my work (no telling the crazy things some people will support, right?) noted to the editor that the Fourth R has a tradition of presenting some pretty liberal viewpoints for examination. He offered to donate $5000 to the magazine if they would print a substantial article by myself on the Jesus Myth question, accompanied in the same issue by an equal counter-article by any scholar of their choosing, to be followed in a subsequent issue by shorter rebuttals by both myself and the other scholar. (This offer, by the way, was made without my prompting or even my knowledge, until he informed me after it was made.)

This was the response he received:
I'm not presently inclined to devote an issue to questioning the existence of Jesus. The topic is a perennial one among skeptics. If someone wants to doubt the existence of Jesus, my experience is that no evidence or argument will change his mind. Such is the nature of skepticism. But the existence of Jesus is not a living issue among historical Jesus scholars. Perhaps it should be, but it just isn't, at least at present. With so many other living issues to explore, I don't think it would be responsible to devote the limited space in the 4R to your suggestion.

Yeesh. It is interesting how vapid this series of objections is, but Earl discussed that in the post. I can't stop myself from noting that the author of it apparently thought skeptics are the people who cannot be convinced by evidence (a strange idea of skepticism, that). Earl didn't bother to note that the last objection isn't even valid, as the cash was supposed to defray added printing costs. Would have been nice to see.

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