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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Easter, the Existence of Jesus and Dave Fitzgerald

Easter, the Existence of Jesus and Dave Fitzgerald

As Easter comes around again, it seems the internet will be serving us up two things that we now see every year.  The first is brainless memes telling us that Easter was originally “a pagan fertility festival”, that the word Easter is derived from “the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar” and that her sacred symbols were rabbits and eggs.  All of which is complete garbage.  But lately this annual irritation has been joined by a new Easter tradition – articles dusting off…

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Cats, the Black Death and a Pope

Cats, the Black Death and a Pope

New Atheists really love their internet memes.  There are whole Facebook groups that seem devoted to nothing more than the posting and exchange of snappy quotes and pithy mockery of religion, all served as an easy-to-share GIF or JPEG, each accompanied by a chorus of approval and agreement in the comments.  These are often quotes from leading atheists or expressions of disbelief at stupid things said or accepted by religious believers, which forms a rich seam of material to be…

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The Great Myths 3: Giordano Bruno was a Martyr for Science

The Great Myths 3: Giordano Bruno was a Martyr for Science

Last month the Italian National Association of Free Thought gathered in the Campo de’Fiori in Rome to commemorate the 417th anniversary of the execution by burning at the stake of Giordano Bruno on that spot on February 17, 1600. The ceremony highlighted Bruno as a free-thinker who ran afoul of dogmatic religious beliefs. But he was also remembered by others as a scientist who died because his rational thought contradicted the superstition of his day and a symbol of an…

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Serious Inquiries Only podcast – Did the Catholic Church Support Hitler?

Serious Inquiries Only podcast – Did the Catholic Church Support Hitler?

Thomas Smith was good enough to have me back on his “Serious Inquiries Only” podcast (formerly “Atheistically Speaking”), this time to tackle the question “Did the Catholic Church Support HItler?“.  Unfortunately we didn’t quite get time to go into the related question of Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust, but I did a further 30 minutes on that topic which Thomas will be making available to his patrons as bonus content.  Since the myth of “Hitler’s Pope” is common in…

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