Richard Carrier

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Richard Cevantis Carrier
Born (1969-12-01) December 1, 1969 (age 44)
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 (Atheist)

Richard Cevantis Carrier (born December 1, 1969) is an atheist activist, author, frequent public speaker, and blogger. He is a trained historian and one of the leading current proponents of the Christ myth theory.

He is the author of the books 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 is also an advocate of atheism and metaphysical naturalism, which he has defended in his book Sense and Goodness Without God.

Carrier was featured in the documentary film The God Who Wasn't There, where he is interviewed about his doubts on the historicity of Jesus.[2] He also appears in the documentary The Nature of Existence in which filmmaker Roger Nygard interviews people of many different religious and secular philosophies about the meaning of life.


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'.[3] 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.[4] 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, and the morality of abortion. In public he debated Mike Licona on the Resurrection of Jesus (at UCLA); online he debated atheist Jennifer Roth on the morality of abortion.[5] He has defended naturalism in formal debates with Tom Wanchick and Hassanain Rajabali.[6]

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,[7] 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[8] and Christian apologist Norman Geisler.[9] 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).[10]

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",[11] 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".[12] 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".[13]

In news and media[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.[14][15][16] It is however worth noting that 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.'[17]

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.[18] Also in 2006, The Columbus Dispatch reported that Richard Carrier had been selected as the keynote speaker for the Humanist Community of Central Ohio's annual Winter Solstice Banquet in Columbus, Ohio in December of that year, where he spoke on defending naturalism as a worldview.[19] Carrier is also listed in Who's Who in Hell.[20]


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).

Books and chapters[edit]

  • 666 (6 Atheists 6 Christians 6 Topics) (Dangerous Little Books 2015)
  • On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014) ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 ISBN 978-1-909697-35-5
  • Hitler Homer Bible Christ: The Historical Papers of Richard Carrier 1995-2013 (Richmond, CA: Philosophy Press, 2014) ISBN 978-1-49356-712-6
  • Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2012) ISBN 978-1-61614-559-0
  • Chapter: "How Not to Defend Historicity", in Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth, (Cranford, NJ: American Atheist Press 2013) ISBN 978-1578840199
  • Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith (Philosophy Press, 2011) ISBN 978-1-45658-885-4
  • Chapters: "Christianity's success was not incredible", "Neither life nor the universe appear intelligently designed", "Moral facts naturally exist (and science could find them)" in The End of Christianity edited by John W. Loftus (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books 2011) ISBN 978-1-61614-413-5.
  • Chapters: "Why the resurrection is unbelievable", "Christianity was not responsible for modern science" in The Christian Delusion edited by John W. Loftus (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books 2010) ISBN 978-1-61614-168-4.
  • Chapters: "Bayes's Theorem for Beginners: Formal Logic and Its Relevance to Historical Method", in Sources of the Jesus Tradition: Separating History from Myth ed. R. Joseph Hoffmann (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books 2010).
  • Not the Impossible Faith, Why Christianity Didn't Need a Miracle to Succeed (2009) ISBN 978-0-557-04464-1
  • "Abortion Cannot be Regarded as Immoral". In The Abortion Controversy (edited by Lucinda Almond) Greenhaven Press (2007) ISBN 0-7377-3274-1.
  • Chapters: "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb", "The Plausibility of Theft", "The Burial of Jesus in Light of Jewish Law". In The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave (edited by Robert M. Price and Jeffery Jay Lowder) Prometheus Books (2005) ISBN 1-59102-286-X
  • Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism. AuthorHouse (2005) ISBN 1-4208-0293-3.
  • Entries on "Epicurus", "Lucretius", "Philodemus", "Second Sophistic", "Soranus of Ephesus" in Encyclopedia of the Ancient World (edited by Thomas J. Sienkewicz). Salem Press (2002). ISBN 0-89356-038-3.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Richard C. Carrier,, accessed April 17, 2010.
  2. ^ Biederman, Patricia Ward (2005-09-20). "Documentary Questions the Existence of Jesus" (Reprint). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  3. ^ Columbia University. "Clio Holdings Information". Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Habermas, Gary R. (2004). The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Kregel Publications. p. 298. ISBN 0-8254-2788-6. 
  5. ^ Is There A Secular Case Against Abortion? The Carrier-Roth Debate 2000.
  6. ^ Defense of metaphysical naturalism).
  7. ^ Carrier, The Spiritual Body of Christ in Price & Lowder, "The Empty Tomb", 2005
  8. ^ Stephen T. Davis, "The Counterattack of the Resurrection Skeptics: A Review Article", Philosophia Christi 8.1 (2006): pp. 39-63.
  9. ^ Norman Geisler, "A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb: Jesus beyond the Grave", Christian Apologetics Journal 5.1 (Spring 2006).
  10. ^ Carrier, Richard (2012). Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. New York: Amherst, NY Prometheus Books. 
  11. ^ Carrier, Richard. "Spiritual Body FAQ". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  12. ^ Carrier, Richard (2009). "Comments at Richard Carrier Blogs". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  13. ^ Update on Historicity of Jesus'
  14. ^ Carrier, Richard (2004). "Antony Flew Considers God...Sort Of". The Secular Web. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  15. ^ Associated Press (2004-12-09). "Leading Atheist Philosopher Concludes God's Real". Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  16. ^ Mark Oppenheimer (2007-11-04). "The Turning of an Atheist". New York Times Magazine. pp. 36–41. 
  17. ^ Flew, Antony. "Review of 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins". Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  18. ^ "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").
  19. ^ "Speaker will defend godless worldview". The Columbus Dispatch (LexisNexis reprint). 2006-12-22. p. 03C. 
  20. ^ Smith, Warren Allen (2000). Who's Who in Hell. Barricade Books. p. 186. ISBN 1-56980-158-4. 

External links[edit]