I don’t know whether anyone apart from my mother has been reading this, but anyone who has may reasonably be wondering what happened to my promised review of Mere Christianity. The answer is partly that time was an issue (my appraisal was unexpectedly brought forward a month, meaning I had something of a mad scrabble to get all the required work done in time), but mainly that I realised that I was potentially about to fall foul of copyright laws.
The format I hope to use for the review, having seen several other books reviewed in the same way, is to work through each chapter quoting short segments to illustrate each point of Lewis’s to which I planned to reply; which will, of course, mean quoting quite a lot of the book before I’m done. I looked it up and, yes, that could legally be a problem unless I get permission first. So, I e-mailed the Lewis Foundation for permission, and I’m still waiting to hear back from them. If I don’t get permission to quote I’ll still go ahead with the review, which would mean describing Lewis’s point in each case without directly quoting; but that wouldn’t be as good a way of doing it, so I’d still like to get permission to quote if possible and thus I’m waiting to hear one way or the other before starting on the review. No matter. There are plenty of other things to write about meanwhile.
One such thing is an online course this December, run by professional historian and atheist Richard Carrier, on the intriguing question of whether Jesus actually ever existed or whether even that much is a myth. I’ve dithered somewhat about whether to sign up for this, but it is something I really want to do and so I’ve decided to go ahead and splash out and treat myself.
This sounds as though it could be really interesting. I first came across Dr Carrier’s writings at the infidel.org site many years ago, and I’m a major longstanding fan of his anti-apologetics stuff. On this point, however, I actually disagree with him; while both Carrier and I agree that the sheer paucity of the evidence means there’s a huge and currently irresolvable question mark over this one, at the end of the day he comes down on the side of believing that Jesus was probably entirely mythical, whereas I believe that, under the layers of myth that have grown up around the whole thing since then, there probably was an actual real-life Jewish wannabe messianic Yeshua who (quite inadvertently) started the whole faith going.
So, I’m looking forward to seeing how the discussion goes. It is quite possible that, once I’ve gone into the mythical-Jesus position in more depth (I’ve pretty much skimmed it so far, looking for the key points), I’ll change my mind on this one. Then again, who knows – it is not impossible that Dr Carrier will be impressed enough by my arguments to end up coming down in favour of a historical Jesus after all. Most likely we’ll just have some good discussion about it to our mutual enjoyment (actually, most likely is that I won’t be able to find enough time for it, but whatever). Tune in for the next thrilling instalment, etc.