Richard Carrier

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Richard Cevantis Carrier
Born (1969-12-01) December 1, 1969 (age 45)
Nationality American
Education B.A. (History), M.A. (Ancient history), M.Phil. (Ancient history), Ph.D. (Ancient history)[1]
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley, Columbia University[1]
Religion None

Richard Cevantis Carrier (born December 1, 1969) is an atheist activist, author, public speaker, and blogger. He has a doctorate in ancient history from Columbia University where his thesis was on the history of science in ancient antiquity. He is a leading proponent of the Christ myth theory.[2]

Richard Carrier originally gained prominence as an advocate of atheism and metaphysical naturalism, authoring many articles on The Secular Web, and later defending his basic position in his book Sense and Goodness Without God.

Subsequently, he became interested in the question of the historicity of Jesus, authoring two books on the subject, Proving History and On the Historicity of Jesus. These books explain and utilize a historical methodology that employs Bayes' theorem for the purpose of historical inquiry; specifically within the context of Jesus studies. He has also contributed chapters to two books of atheist apologetics edited by John W. Loftus entitled The End of Christianity and The Christian Delusion.

His blog appears on Freethought Blogs, and his has been frequently been a features speaker at various skeptic, secular humanist, freethought, and atheist conventions, such as the annual Freethought Festival in Madison, WI, the annual Skepticon convention in Springfield, MO, and conventions sponsored by American Atheists.

Carrier has frequently debated Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig and David Marshall both in person and online. The Craig debate was broadcast on Lee Strobel's now defunct television show Faith Under Fire.[3]


Carrier received a PhD in ancient history from Columbia University in 2008. His thesis was entitled "Attitudes Towards the Natural Philosopher in the Early Roman Empire (100 B.C. to 313 A.D.)."[4] He has published several articles and chapters in books on the subject of history and philosophy (see below). He was formerly the editor of and a substantial contributor to The Secular Web. His contributions there includes an autobiographical essay From Taoist to Infidel in which he discusses his upbringing in a benign Methodist church, his conversion to Taoism in early adulthood, his confrontation with Christian fundamentalists while in the U.S. Coast Guard, and his deeper study of religion, Christianity, and Western philosophy, which eventually led to his embrace of naturalism.[5] This was reprinted in his major work defending atheism and naturalism, Sense and Goodness without God.

Public Debates[edit]

He has engaged in several formal debates, both online and in person, on a range of subjects including naturalism, natural explanations of early Christian resurrection accounts, the morality of abortion, and the general credibility of the Bible. He debated Michael R. Licona on the Resurrection of Jesus at UCLA on April 19, 2004.[6] Carrier debated atheist Jennifer Roth online on the morality of abortion.[7] He has defended naturalism in formal debates with Tom Wanchick and Hassanain Rajabali. He has debated David Marshall on the general credibility of the New Testament.[8]

The debate with William Lane Craig debate was broadcast on Lee Strobel's now defunct television show Faith Under Fire.[3]

On the origins of Christianity[edit]

In his contribution to The Empty Tomb, Carrier argues that the earliest Christians probably believed Jesus had received a new spiritual body in the resurrection, and that stories of his old body disappearing from its tomb were developed later.[9] He also argues it is less likely, but also possible, that the original body of Jesus was misplaced or stolen. This work was criticized by philosophy professor Stephen T. Davis in Philosophia Christi[10] and Christian apologist Norman Geisler.[11]

Though originally skeptical of the Christ myth theory, since late 2005 he has considered it "very probable Jesus never actually existed as a historical person."[12] He also said "though I foresee a rising challenge among qualified experts against the assumption of historicity [of Jesus], as I explained, that remains only a hypothesis that has yet to survive proper peer review."[13]

Carrier's first major book, Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus, published in 2012 by Prometheus Books, describes the application of Bayes' theorem to historical inquiry in general and the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth in specific.[14]

In June 2014, Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt was published by Sheffield Phoenix Press.[15] He has claimed that it is "the first comprehensive pro-Jesus myth book ever published by a respected academic press and under formal peer review."[16]

Investigating Antony Flew's leaving atheism[edit]

When reports spread of Antony Flew's rejection of atheism in 2004, Carrier engaged in correspondence with Flew to find out what happened and published an extensive analysis of the situation on The Secular Web, finding among other things that Flew changed his belief into there being some sort of "minimal God," as in Deism. Carrier also came away with the opinion that Flew's changed ideas were not accurately represented in the book Flew co-authored, There is a God.[17][18][19] However, Flew released a statement through his publisher (without directly addressing Carrier's statements):

My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions. I would not have a book issued in my name that I do not 100 percent agree with. I needed someone to do the actual writing because I’m 84 and that was Roy Varghese’s role. This is my book and it represents my thinking.[20]

Investigating Quotes Attributed to Adolf Hitler Regarding Christianity[edit]

In the same year, the historical validity of remarks in the English and French translations of Table Talk dating from the 1950s was challenged in a new partial translation by Richard Carrier and Reinhold Mittschang, who went so far as to call them 'entirely untrustworthy',[21] suggesting they had been altered by Francois Genoud as part of a deliberate forgery to enhance Hitler's views.[22] They put forward a new translation of twelve quotations from the text preserved at the Library of Congress which portrayed Hitler as a committed Christian, leading Carrier to the conclusion Hitler was 'a candid (and bigoted) Protestant.' [23]

In news and media[edit]

Richard Carrier was the keynote speaker for the Humanist Community of Central Ohio's annual Winter Solstice Banquet where he spoke on defending naturalism as a philosophy.[24]

He also appears in the documentary The Nature of Existence in which film-maker Roger Nygard interviews people of many different religious and secular philosophies about the meaning of life.[25]

Carrier is listed in Who's Who in Hell.[26]

Carrier was featured in the documentary film The God Who Wasn't There, where he was interviewed about his doubts on the historicity of Jesus.[27]

Personal life[edit]

In 2015, he announced that he is openly polyamorous.[28]


Selected articles[edit]

  • "Flash! Fox News Reports that Aliens May Have Built the Pyramids of Egypt!". Skeptical Inquirer 23.5 (September–October 1999).
  • "The Guarded Tomb of Jesus and Daniel in the Lion's Den: An Argument for the Plausibility of Theft". Journal of Higher Criticism 8.2 (Fall 2001).
  • "Pseudohistory in Jerry Vardaman's Magic Coins: The Nonsense of Micrographic Letters". Skeptical Inquirer 26.2 (March–April 2002) and 26.4 (July–August 2002).
  • "The Function of the Historian in Society". The History Teacher 35.4 (August 2002).
  • "Hitler's Table Talk: Troubling Finds". German Studies Review 26.3 (October 2003).
  • "The Argument from Biogenesis: Probabilities Against a Natural Origin of Life". Biology & Philosophy 19.5 (November 2004).
  • "Whence Christianity? A Meta-Theory for the Origins of Christianity". Journal of Higher Criticism 11.1 (Spring 2005).
  • "Fatal Flaws in Michael Almeida's Alleged 'Defeat' of Rowe's New Evidential Argument from Evil". Philo 10.1 (Spring-Summer 2007).
  • "On Defining Naturalism as a Worldview". Free Inquiry 30.3 (April/May 2010).
  • "Thallus and the Darkness at Christ’s Death". Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 8 (2011-2012).
  • "Origen, Eusebius, and the Accidental Interpolation in Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.200". Journal of Early Christian Studies 20.4 (Winter 2012).
  • "The Prospect of a Christian Interpolation in Tacitus, Annals 15.44". Vigiliae Christianae 68 (2014).

Books and chapters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Curriculum Vitae". October 7, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ Casey, Maurice (2014). Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?. Bloomsbury T&T Clark. pp. 14–16. ISBN 9780567447623. 
  3. ^ a b Audio Archive of Debate
  4. ^ "Clio Holdings Information". Columbia University Libraries. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  5. ^ "From Taoist to Infidel". The Secular Web. 2001. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Licona vs. Carrier: On the Resurrection of Jesus Christ". April 19, 2004. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  7. ^ "On the Issue of Abortion". Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Marshall vs. Carrier: Richard's opening argument". Christ the Tao. March 25, 2013. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  9. ^ Carrier, Richard (2005). "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb". In Price, Robert M.; Lowder, Jeffery Jay. The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave. Prometheus Books. ISBN 9781591022862. 
  10. ^ Davis, Stephen T. (2006). "The Counterattack of the Resurrection Skeptics: A Review Article". Philosophia Christi 8 (1): 39–63. 
  11. ^ Geisler, Norman (Spring 2006). "A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb: Jesus beyond the Grave". Christian Apologetics Journal 5 (1): 45–106. 
  12. ^ Carrier, Richard. "Spiritual Body FAQ". Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  13. ^ Carrier, Richard (March 25, 2009). "Richard Carrier Blogs: Craig Debate Wrap". Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  14. ^ Carrier, Richard (2012). Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 9781616145606. 
  15. ^ Carrier, Richard (2014). On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Sheffield Phoenix Press. ISBN 9781909697355. 
  16. ^ Carrier, Richard (July 17, 2013). "Update on Historicity of Jesus". Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  17. ^ Carrier, Richard (October 10, 2004). "Antony Flew Considers God...Sort Of". The Secular Web. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Leading Atheist Philosopher Concludes God's Real". FOX News. Associated Press. December 9, 2004. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  19. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark (November 4, 2007). "The Turning of an Atheist". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  20. ^ Varghese, Roy Abraham (January 13, 2008). "'There Is a God'". New York Times. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  21. ^ "'Hitler's Table Talk': Troubling Finds." German Studies Review 26 (3): 561-576./ref>
  22. ^ Carrier p. 565
  23. ^ Carrier p. 573
  24. ^ "Speaker will defend godless worldview". The Columbus Dispatch (LexisNexis reprint). 2006-12-22. p. 03C. 
  25. ^ Imdb cast listing
  26. ^ Smith, Warren Allen (2000). Who's Who in Hell. Barricade Books. p. 186. ISBN 1-56980-158-4. 
  27. ^ Biederman, Patricia Ward (August 20, 2005). "Documentary Questions the Existence of Jesus". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  28. ^ Carrier, Richard (February 18, 2015). "Coming Out Poly + A Change of Life Venue". Richard Carrier Blogs. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 

External links[edit]