Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Christ Conspiracy: An Index to the Review

Since the review of The Christ Conspiracy reached spectacular lengths, a post that indexes the articles seems called for. Short summaries of the problems identified in each instalment follows. This post should be seen as an appendix to the conclusion. Due to the proliferation of posts dealing with chapters 20, 23 and 24, and their close relationship, there are multiple separate entries for these.

The problems encountered in this chapter do not really relate all that closely to the thesis itself, but do showcase that Murdock plays fast and loose with the truth.
A couple of really fudgy claims, based on a sequence of sources misunderstanding and exaggerating each other's claims. Unreliable sources in general. However, the chapter itself does not contribute much to the conclusion of the book. The general claim that is made could be made with credible sources – Murdock has just chosen to use shoddy sources and shoddy claims to prop up a reasonable claim.
Some fallacies along the lines of the etymological fallacy, and a particularly strange logical fallacy – viz. the idea that someone acting illogically is evidence of his non-existence. She also claims that 'pious fraud' was coined to describe Christian practices, when the phrase in fact pre-dates Christianity by several decades.
Protestant slander of a pope taken seriously. Saman and Maga? Sources please.  Pure speculation about the role of gnostics. Speculation about the 'malodorous chrism' as a term for sperm. A fabrication about the contents of the Nag Hammadi library.
A mistaken reference (demonstrating that Murdock has not verified the veracity of the sources of her source). Unreliable numismatic third-hand evidence. Shoddy referencing.
Misunderstands the Documentary Hypothesis. The orthodox dating of Pharaohs is off. A naive understanding of translation is evident. Ignorance of Hebrew phonemes makes for the amusing thought that the tetragrammaton contains the name of Eve. Acharya thinks that the use of the designation "Askhenazi" for eastern European Jews is evidence that early Judaism was greatly influenced by Aryans. Mr. Spock's (!) Vulcan Salute is presented as evidence that the Jewish God is a volcano God. Silly attempts to identify "Israel" as "Isis-Ra-El". Some more bullshit linguistics.
A genuinely sub-par understanding of what allegory is, as well as mischaracterizing the Hebrew grammatical gender as a system of allegory.
Identifies the Book of Jasher referred to in the Bible as the medieval Book of Jasher.
Reads Amos' harangue against the worshippers of the God Kaiwan as though this was admission that Kaiwan is part of Biblical theology. Without any supporting evidence, she equates Kaiwan and El. This is followed what looks suspiciously much like Acharya admitting to believing in astrology - her definition of astrology is very positive and downright naive.

This is followed by use of an unreliable source (Pike). It is claimed that toponomies in the Bible are widely astrological - a claim that rests on such a weak foundation that it's in fact laughable. (From an unreliable source, again). Strong pareidolia (since there's seven stars in the Pleiades, all sevens in Judaism much represent the Pleiades).

Also, the book of Job is a freemasonic ritual manual (as in, that's its origins)
The seven archangels are the seven hathors. Angels are the angles of the zodiac. Murdock thinks metaphor is what you get when you read literally.
Jesus being aware of crosses as an execution method is taken as evidence that he must be invented.  A few severely misleading pieces of reasoning regarding etymologies (hell, pesach), and other bad linguistics. Generally some of the reasoning indicates that Murdock thinks English designations are magical lenses into the past of a number of concepts. Bad dating of the Talmud. Claims which were not supported by their source whatsoever (i.e. Barbara Walker claiming that various things derive from Egyptian prayers to Osiris.)
A treasure trove of bad linguistics.
An instance of the linguistic fallacy of very short words (John - Aan), as well as an unsubstantiated and somewhat suspicious assertion.

A seriously debunked dating of the Dendera temple. Atlantean racial theories pop up - i.e. the fact that the author of Revelations mentions a 'man' as one out of four symbols is seen as evidence that the author of Revelations believed in Theosophist racial theories (i.e. Adam is The Atlantean). There's a distinct lack of argumentation beyond assertions.
Murdock subscribes naively to idealizing descriptions of the Essenes. She rejects the DSS as having anything to do with them, and thus basically ends up having next to no evidence regarding their beliefs. Nevertheless, she dares make several sweeping statements as to what these beliefs were. Her argument in general is unclear.
Chapter 20:
Pt 1 Various shenanigans with regards to trying to show that Christianity is older than the mainstream assessment has it. Here we find Taylor describing the early church in terms that would need some backing up – but as usual, no evidence is given, just assertion. It is also worth noting that Murdock uses motifs from the NT as historical evidence in the most contorted fashion. Polycarp is quote-mined. Some quite vacuous statements about the Essenes are made, including unsourced speculation reported as fact, bad etymologies, as well as directly contradicting the previous chapter regarding the relationship of Essenism and Christianity.
Pt 2 Eusebius' Interpretatio Christiana: did Eusebius claim that the Therapeutan monks were Christian before Christianity? A most precious thing emerges: the quote-mined quote-mine! Does allegorical reading imply gnosticism?
Pt 3 Irrelevant twaddle based on the previous identification of Christianity with the Therapeutans (given that all evidence in favour of such an identification given thus far is mistaken). Murdock thinks 'therapeut' and 'doctor of the law' are etymologically connected. Murdock relies on Epiphanius' knowledge of Hebrew, which is more or less proven to be sub par. (Bad referencing practices, again.) Undue reliance on Higgins.
Pt 4 Murdock cites Geza Vermes, but gets Vermes's claim wrong. A somewhat misleading description of Jewish lending practices. Murdock focuses on the most anti-gentile intertestamental Jewish literature to paint an exaggeratedly hateful picture of Judaism.
Pt 5 Murdock's ignorance of the Talmud is coupled with her insistence on thinking that she knows something about it.

Chapter 23:
Pt 1 Some rather weak reasoning with regards to where western culture originated.
Pt 2 Murdock reports a quote-mine by Jochmans as a prima facie quote, in an attempt to make it seem like the Great Pyramid at some point has been covered by the sea. Some fairly bad arguments (Byblos being an Egyptian colony being presented as evidence for the Bible being an Egyptian book ...) Papyri allegedly five to ten thousand  years of age are alluded to. A claim with no support or evidence presented at all, regarding 'Logia Iesou'. Some quotes that essentially consist of nothing but a nested quote, along the line of Murdock quoting Jackson quoting Kuhn, making looking the original source up tedious and fucking well frustrating.
Pt 3 Misrepresentation of the Aryan Invasion Theory with regards to Indian archaeology and linguistics. Reliance on Hindu religious material for claims of really far back history (on the order of tens of thousand years ago). Not enough sources given to be able to assess the value of the presented claims. Murdock presents an argument that makes her claims regarding prehistory unfalsifiable. Value-judgments regarding rishi-culture and later brahmanic culture that rest on no ground whatsoever. Shitty historical linguistics: Murdock misrepresents the state of Indo-European linguistics as well as downright pulls the wool over our eyes with regards to the Nostratic theory. 
Pt 4 Mentions some Egyptian depiction of a fish trap as evidence of Sumerians being closely related to some North Europeans (but does not tell us anything about this depiction, so we cannot verify this claim). Conflates the Sumerians with Aryan invaders – something not even her source for this madcap claim actually does. Weird ideas about Semitic languages having gone into "permanent eclipse" are quoted. Iranians are mistaken for proto-Greeks and proto-Romans. Really weird arguments presented to show that the Hebrews were Indo-European (or at least a significant portion of them). Murdock mistakes 'levitical' and 'levirate' when reading her source (which got it right) and uses this conflation to present the idea that Levites were Indo-European (for the record, levirate and levitical are highly unrelated terms). Weird and unsourced claims about levirate marriages.
 Pt 5 Unsubstantiated ideas about Abraham's origin are restated. Some pretty bad etymologies presented, of which my favourite is Jessulmer as the origin of the name Jerusalem - which simply cannot hold, since Jessulmer is named for a medieval king. Also, false claims about words in Sanskrit. No references for claims about Jerusalem's origin in Egyptian religion, although pretty fat claims are made. A conspiracy theory regarding the Rosetta stone sneaks in. Some very out there claims about the origins of various British things, such as the word Britain and the druids. Finally, Murdock ascribes some credibility to notions that western culture has its origin on Ireland. A nationalistic creed that probably makes some irish people very happy, but c'mon, not an evidence-based claim in any sense whatsoever.
 Pt 6. Here, full-on delusionality is evident: Pygmies at the root of all culture! A lot of evidence alluded to, none actually given. Bad understanding of the theory of evolution. . 

Chapter 24:
Pt 1 Bad understanding of evolutionary theory. Bad logic.
Pt 2 Shoddy linguistics, shoddy referencing, shoddily unclear claims, chains of sources getting things more wrong during each step, reliance on religiously mislead 19th-century scholars who tried finding the lost tribes of Israel in the Americas, claims about the Chimalpopoca manuscript that are wrong. These fabrications are used to bolster the notion that the Biblical creation myth was present in the Americas. Lots of unsupported assertions.
Pt 3 Shoddy linguistics regarding languages of America and India.
Pt 4 Unreliable sources (James Churchward). Lots of assertions without any evidence. Bad linguistics. Appealing to previous bad linguistics as though it were evidence.
Pt 5 Pyramids. In this part, Murdock quotes UFOlogists and new age kooks. Murdock accepts the Ica stones as genuine. Murdock accepts exaggerated claims about the 'precision' of the Costa Rican stone spheres as accurate without thinking about the methodology of measuring such stones
Pt 6 Giants. Ancient Maps. Saturn having been a 'pole star'. Murdock relies on sources that think writing goes back 150 000 years. Murdock also seems to believe that the original religion of humanity must have been objectively good in some sense ­ - which is a weird idea.
My Conclusion
Pretty much what the title says, my summary and the conclusion I drew from reading The Christ Conspiracy, evaluating its arguments, checking its sources, evaluating the sources, etc.  

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