I see there are a couple of related questions, but not mine in particular. I am trying to find a reason to take seriously the notion that Richard Carrier and a few other experts can refute the consensus among biblical scholars -- Bart Ehrman has said (I heard him say it myself) that no reputable scholar in either Europe or North America doubts the existence of the man Jesus.

I would also like to understand why anyone would attempt to prove a negative, which, at least as I understand logic, is not possible.

Is christianity.stackexchange.com a suitable forum for such questions?

  • 1
    It is certainly possible to prove a negative- sometimes even necessary. In an indirect proof, instead of showing that the conclusion to be proved is true, you show that all of the alternatives are false. To do this, you must assume the negation of the statement to be proved. Then, deductive reasoning will lead to a contradiction. That is, if I wanted to indirectly prove that Jesus existed, I would assume that he did not exist, then follow that line of reasoning to obtain a contradiction.
    – Andrew
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 2:35
  • A good argument, thanks. But help me to understand: if assumed the negative case, and could not find a contradiction, that wouldn't prove the negative, would it? I mean, it would be suggestive, but it wouldn't prove it? Commented May 5, 2016 at 18:13
  • Failing to find a contradiction would not prove the negative unless you could demonstrate that no possible source of contradiction was overlooked- the method of demonstrating that all alternatives are false is only (most?) useful if one can rigorously enumerate all alternatives. I think that is generally impossible with respect to historical queries. However, assuming the negation of a statement under evaluation and following deductive reasoning to its terminus is a useful practice.
    – Andrew
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 18:58

1 Answer 1


Probably not. The caveat being that questions about (particular) Christian arguments (for or) against such a view can be on-topic (a somewhat related example). I don't pretend that this opinion represents the entire Christianity.SE community, but I believe that dissenters will be in the minority here (Perhaps someone else will argue the for case and the voting will give a clearer indication). The basic reason is that this notion is not (as far as I'm aware) a doctrine held by any (self-identifying) Christian groups. It could charitably be described as an academic theory, or less so as an atheistic dogma; in either case it's not really within our purview. Skeptics has a strong counter argument here, so I don't think that's an appropriate place either, but perhaps this is more on-topic at either philosophy.SE or history.SE

  • 1
    Thanks so much, that's a very thoughtful answer, and a very good point about there being no Christian groups who would hold that position. Thank you. Commented May 3, 2016 at 4:25
  • I think Skeptics would be appropriate, but answers may not support Carrier's arguments there either.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 6:36
  • 1
    Skeptics will just appeal to authority in the answers.
    – user3961
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 15:23
  • 1
    History.SE might work, if your goal is to examine the historical evidence in favor of a particular view.
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 18:53
  • @Flimzy thanks. From what I can tell, the mythicist view is based on a lack of historical evidence. But I'll check out that SE, thanks. Commented May 5, 2016 at 18:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .