An Islamic “Reformation”? – Pseudo History meets Politics

An Islamic “Reformation”? – Pseudo History meets Politics

New Atheists generally acknowledge that it was the 9/11 attacks that gave their anti-theistic movement its initial impetus. Not surprisingly, several of their leading lights, led by Dawkins, Harris and comedian Bill Maher, have become trenchant critics of Islam as a key example of the toxicity of unfettered religion. These critics therefore lionise the ex-Muslim atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and support her calls for an Islamic equivalent to the Protestant Reformation. But is this based on good history? Ayaan Hirsi…

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The Lost Books of Photios’ Bibliotheca

The Lost Books of Photios’ Bibliotheca

If New Atheists know anything about ancient Greek and Roman learning, they know that Christians destroyed it. They will grudgingly admit that at least some ancient works of wisdom, science and rationalism were preserved in the “Dark Ages”, but generally this is quickly followed by laments that these represent only a fraction of the storied wealth of ancient learning and thundering condemnations of the Christian destruction, suppression and neglect that led to this learning’s ultimate loss. But is this accurate?…

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The Archimedes Palimpsest

The Archimedes Palimpsest

New Atheist discussions of the history of science are almost always based on some form of the Conflict Thesis. Despite the fact this conception of an eternal “warfare between science and religion” has long since been rejected by historians of science, anti-theists have an emotional commitment to this dusty nineteenth century idea, with most naively accepting it without question while a few struggle to prop it up in the face of the consensus of modern historians that it is simplistic,…

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Jesus Mythicism 1: The Tacitus Reference to Jesus

Jesus Mythicism 1: The Tacitus Reference to Jesus

Publius Cornelius Tacitus was one of the most reliable of all Roman historians and many first century figures are known to us solely through his mention of them. This means his passing reference to Jesus in Annals XV.44 remains an fly in the ointment of the Jesus Myth hypothesis. Despite Tacitus’ reliability and the scholarly agreement that the reference is genuine, Mythicist ideologues have several ways by which they try to dismiss this reference; all of them characteristically weak. The…

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The Great Myths 5: The Destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria

The Great Myths 5: The Destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria

If there is a story that forms the heart of New Atheist bad history, it’s the tale of the Great Library of Alexandria and its destruction by a Christian mob.  It’s the central moral fable of the Draper-White Thesis, where wise and rational Greeks and Romans store up all the wisdom of the pre-Christian ancient world in a single library, treasuring science and reason and bringing western civilisation to the brink of a technological and industrial revolution.  But then a…

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Did Jesus Exist? The Jesus Myth Theory, Again.

Did Jesus Exist? The Jesus Myth Theory, Again.

The consensus of scholars, including non-Christian scholars, is that a historical Jesus most likely existed and the later stories about “Jesus Christ” were told about him.  The idea that there was no such historical person at all and that “Jesus Christ” was a purely mythical figure has been posited in one form or another since the eighteenth century, but is not taken seriously by anyone but a tiny handful of fringe scholars and amateurs.  Despite this, the Jesus Myth thesis…

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Welcome to the New Look Blog

Welcome to the New Look Blog

When I began “History for Atheists” in October 2015 it was largely as an opportunity to put down some summaries of why certain persistent New Atheist pseudo historical myths are wrong, curate the positions of expert historians and other scholars on relevant issues and direct readers to reliable information on history.  This was at least, in part, because I found myself writing refutations to the same nonsense claims over and over again and was starting to find the repetition pretty…

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Giordano Bruno – Gaspar Schoppe’s Account of his Condemnation

Giordano Bruno – Gaspar Schoppe’s Account of his Condemnation

In my previous post, “The Great Myths 3: Giordano Bruno was a Martyr for Science“, I noted the excellent work of Alberto A. Martinez in his recent article “Giordano Bruno and the heresy of many worlds”, (Annals of Science, Volume 73, 2016, Issue 4, pp. 345-374). Martinez makes a solid case against the general scholarly consensus that Bruno’s multiple worlds cosmology was not one of the reasons he was condemned for heresy, and goes so far as to argue it…

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The Great Myths 4: Constantine, Nicaea and the Bible

The Great Myths 4: Constantine, Nicaea and the Bible

It seems the “Philosophical Atheism” group on Facebook is going to be the New Atheist bad history gift that just keeps on giving.  No anti-Christian snippet or meme seems to be able to get by this group without it being posted as factual, without any hint of checking its claims.  So the gloriously stupid (and grammatically bizarre) pastiche of nonsense above was posted to “Philosophical Atheism” yesterday, with the group’s followers reverently genuflecting to its mighty historical truth and insight.  The…

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Easter, Ishtar, Eostre and Eggs

Easter, Ishtar, Eostre and Eggs

As I mentioned in my last post, two things we can now be sure the internet will deliver up at Easter are rehashes of the tedious “Jesus never existed” thesis and memes telling us that “Easter is actually pagan!”.  The one above has become one of the most popular in recent years, so much so that its “Ishtar = Easter” claim has taken on internet factoid status. More recently, online New Atheists seem to have finally worked out that the…

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