Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Free Inquiry Has Reached The Level Of Journalistic Seriousness Of The National Enquirer

That's the real story I've been covering in several of my recent posts about Michael Paulkovich and his 126. (I've been picturing mash-ups of Paulkovich's thesis and the movie 300:

A reader commented on the first of my posts about Paulkovich, asking how a recent article in World News Daily Report would fit into this discussion. I replied that it would fit about as well as an article in the National Enquirer entitled "I Had Bigfoot's Baby!"

Immediately after I had made this reply, I realized that the article in World News Daily Report actually fits in perfectly well in the story I'm covering. The reader's comment helped to crystalize, in my mind, what the real story is here. This really isn't so much about Paulkovich. There's nothing unusual about people asserting absurd things having to do with Jesus and claiming to be serious scholars. That sort of thing has been going on for about about as long as there have been Christians, and the Internet is chock-full of both claims by believers that they've found rock-solid evidence that Jesus existed, and claims by others that they've found rock-solid evidence that he didn't. Myriad self-published books by both categories of numbskulls can be found on Amazon.

The real story here, the thing that should be upsetting more of my fellow atheists than it seems to have upset so far, is that, by publishing Paulkovich, Free Inquiry has attained the level of journalistic seriousness, responsibility and reliability of entities such as World New Daily Report and the National Enquirer. (If, that is, they hadn't reached that level some time ago.)

I know I've said the following repeatedly over the course of the past week and a half, and it must be getting monotonous to those who've been carefully following everything I've written, but it's clear that many people have only been skimming my stuff -- and there's nothing wrong with that! It's a great big world and there's too much good stuff for anybody to read it all -- and some people assume that it's mostly Christians, maybe even mostly fundies, who have problems with Paulkovich. I've said the following repeatedly lately, but I'm repeating it now because it underscores the point I'm trying to get across about Paulkovich and Free Inquiry:

Not only am I not a Christian, I'm an atheist. Many of the mainstream academics in Biblical studies and related fields are also atheists. Almost all of those academics, atheist or not, believe that Jesus existed. (A non-supernatural Jesus in the case of the atheists, of course, to whose biography they believe the supernatural stories were added, the way that the story about the cherry tree was added to George Washington's biography.) Most of those academics tend to regard people who have doubts about Jesus' existed as hopelessly ignorant. I HAVE DOUBTS ABOUT JESUS' EXISTENCE and therefore am subject to a fair share of scorn from the academics, many of whom, because of those doubts, would put me into the same category as Paulkovich. My issue with Paulkovich is NOT that he does not believe Jesus existed. It's also not that he suspects that there is something fishy about the mainstream academic position of Jesus' existence. It's that he makes ridiculous claims about ancient authors who, he says, should've mentioned Jesus if he'd existed, but didn't. His list of 126 names includes many people who have had no writing survive, so Paulkovich didn't study it. Most of the rest wrote things which had nothing to do with Judea or Galilee, which makes it seem like Paulkovich didn't study their work either. A couple of the people on his list died before 1 AD, so... There are people on Paulkovich's list who wrote only about medicine, or historical subjects centuries before Jesus' time, or they wrote fiction, etc, etc, so... There are maybe a dozen who could conceivably had reason to mention Jesus or Christians but didn't, but it's not actually surprising to me that none of them did. AND UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE I'VE ACTUALLY READ A LOT OF THIS STUFF. Oh, and lest I forget: 4 of Paulkovich's 126 actually did mention Christians. As, of course, did a whole lot of others who are not on his list.

My issue with Paulkovich is that he writes sheer absurdity that would've gotten a F on any good history exam, and calls it historical research, and my issue with Free Inquiry is that they published some of it, and, unlike World News Daily Report, they don't have a disclaimer explaining that they are a fake news publication offering satires of news.


  1. Did you contact the board of Free Inquiry regarding this?

    1. I sent them an email with a link to my post An Open Letter To Michael Paulkovich And Free Inquiry. No editors from Free Inquiry have gotten back to me, but Paulkovich has made several comments on my blog. Free Inquiry obviously doesn't care about reporting accurately about ancient history, or about looking like a joke to people who've studied ancient history. If they cared, they would've done some fact-checkinng on Paulkovich's piece and they never would've published it.