Richard Carrier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Richard Cevantis Carrier
Born (1969-12-01) December 1, 1969 (age 45)
Nationality American
Education BA (History), MA (Ancient history), MPhil (Ancient history), PhD (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, frequent 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's 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 Loftus entitled The End of Christianity and The Christian Delusion.

Carrier has frequently debated Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig and David Marshall both in person and online. The Craig debate was on national television.

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.[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'.[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 contribution there includes and 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 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 public, 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. In public he debated Mike Licona on the Resurrection of Jesus (at UCLA); online he debated atheist Jennifer Roth on the morality of abortion.[6] He has defended naturalism in formal debates with Tom Wanchick and Hassanain Rajabali.[7] He has debated David Marshall on the general credibility of the New Testament.[8]

His debate with Christian apologist William Lane Craig was on national television.

On the origins of Christianity[edit]

He is a supporter of the Christ myth theory. 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,[9] and that stories of his old body disappearing from its tomb were developed later. 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] Carrier's first major book was published in 2012 by Prometheus Books, describing the application of Bayes Theorem to historical enquiry (specifically the historicity or otherwise of Jesus of Nazareth).[12]

Though originally skeptical of the notion, and subsequently more agnostic, since 2005 he has considered it "very probable Jesus never actually existed as a historical person",[13] yet he also said "though I foresee a rising challenge among qualified experts against the assumption of historicity [of Jesus]... that remains only a hypothesis that has yet to survive proper peer review".[14] In June 2014 Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt was published by Sheffield Phoenix Press. Carrier has claimed that it is "the first comprehensive pro-Jesus myth book ever published by a respected academic press and under formal peer review".[15]

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.[16][17][18] However, Flew himself insisted 'the idea that somebody manipulated me because I'm old is exactly wrong. This is my book and it represents my thinking.'[19]

In news and media[edit]

Carrier appeared on national television in 2004, debating William Lane Craig on Lee Strobel's talk show Faith Under Fire on the PAX network (now ION Television), in a segment on the resurrection of Jesus.[20]

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.[21]

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.

Carrier is listed in Who's Who in Hell.[22]

Personal life[edit]

He is openly polyamorous.[23]


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 Richard C. Carrier,, accessed April 17, 2010.
  2. ^ Maurice Casey Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths? T&T Clark 2014 CARRIER, RICHARD. p.14-15
  3. ^ Biederman, Patricia Ward (2005-09-20). "Documentary Questions the Existence of Jesus" (Reprint). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  4. ^ Columbia University. "Clio Holdings Information". Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "From Taoist to Infidel". Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  6. ^ Is There A Secular Case Against Abortion? The Carrier-Roth Debate 2000.
  7. ^ Defense of metaphysical naturalism).[circular reference]
  8. ^ "Christ the Tao: Marshall vs. Carrier: Richard's opening argument". 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  9. ^ Carrier, The Spiritual Body of Christ in Price & Lowder, "The Empty Tomb", 2005
  10. ^ Stephen T. Davis, "The Counterattack of the Resurrection Skeptics: A Review Article", Philosophia Christi 8.1 (2006): pp. 39-63.
  11. ^ Norman Geisler, "A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb: Jesus beyond the Grave", Christian Apologetics Journal 5.1 (Spring 2006).
  12. ^ Carrier, Richard (2012). Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. New York: Amherst, NY Prometheus Books. 
  13. ^ Carrier, Richard. "Spiritual Body FAQ". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  14. ^ Carrier, Richard (2009). "Comments at Richard Carrier Blogs". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  15. ^ Update on Historicity of Jesus'
  16. ^ Carrier, Richard (2004). "Antony Flew Considers God...Sort Of". The Secular Web. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  17. ^ "Leading Atheist Philosopher Concludes God's Real". Associated Press. 2004-12-09. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  18. ^ Mark Oppenheimer (2007-11-04). "The Turning of an Atheist". New York Times Magazine. pp. 36–41. 
  19. ^ Flew, Antony. "Review of 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins". Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  20. ^ "The End of Faith" (Faith Under Fire episode 1, season 1, aired October 2, 2004). Reported by ("Faith Under Fire hits TV screens: PAX series looks at religion, spirituality, morality"), (Randall Murphree, "Is God Republican Or Democrat? New PAX Series with Lee Strobel Debates Issues"), and (Richard Carrier debates William Lane Craig on "Faith Under Fire").
  21. ^ "Speaker will defend godless worldview". The Columbus Dispatch (LexisNexis reprint). 2006-12-22. p. 03C. 
  22. ^ Smith, Warren Allen (2000). Who's Who in Hell. Barricade Books. p. 186. ISBN 1-56980-158-4. 
  23. ^ February 18, 2015. "Coming Out Poly + A Change of Life Venue". Retrieved 2015-02-19. 

External links[edit]