J.P. Holding is sued for libel, and the increasing polarization of biblical studies—Pt. 1

The recent lawsuit against the rather notorious Christian apologist J.P. Holding (aka Robert Turkel)—whose tone and language have been anything but “Christian”—gives me an opportunity to invoke a little Buddhist ethics by applauding this recent manifestation of the mighty law of karma: what goes around comes around or, if you prefer, ‘as you do unto others, so also it will be done to you’ (cf. Mt 7:12 etc). It appears that Holding has been rather egregiously abusing the Golden Rule since the inception of his “Tekton Ministries” (a play on the Greek for “carpenter”?), and that the spiritual law of karma—more subtle than air and more predictable (IMHO) than the law of gravity—suddenly struck. As a result, the Tekton Apologetics … Continue reading

Forthcoming anthology: “Christianity in the Light of Science”

This is to alert readers to the upcoming anthology, “Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World’s Largest Religion” (Prometheus Books, Fall 2016), edited by John W. Loftus. One of the chapters is by yours truly. About a year ago John emailed me the following all-inclusive message: “I’m looking for authors to write chapters on cosmology, evolution, how evolution impacts Christianity, the scientific method, the Bethlehem star, biblical archeology, the existence of Nazareth at the time Jesus, the genetics of the virgin birth, biblical prophesy, the shroud of Turin, miracles and science, the existence of God and the task of science, the origins of the religious impulse…” My contributory chapter is now complete and delivered: “Pious Fraud at … Continue reading

The book NazarethGate

Click here to order. This explosive sequel to The Myth of Nazareth documents astonishing scandals on the ground and a desperate race to create evidence for the nonexistent hometown of Jesus. With a bonus final chapter addressing the question: Was any prophet at the source of Christianity?   In softcover and Kindle editions from American Atheist Press by René Salm with a Foreword by Frank R. Zindler.   From the back cover:

Nazareth archaeology causes breakdown in peer review system – Pt. 1

The peer review system is broken in Biblical Studies. Three scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have recently been unable to elicit a reasoned (not to mention appropriate or fair) evaluation of the Nazareth archaeological evidence from one of the most prestigious British journals in the field of Biblical Studies, the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. The scholars in question are Philip Davies, noted “minimalist” at the University of Sheffield; Frank Zindler, biblical researcher and past president of American Atheists; and yours truly, René Salm, manager of this website and author of The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus. Readers of my nazarethmyth website will know that for some years I have contested Ken Dark’s work at Nazareth. Dark … Continue reading

The Natsarene Religion – Pt. 1 (Salm)

The thrust of Jesus mythicism is to establish that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist—he was an invented figure. Much ink is now being spilled demonstrating this and—even in the unlikely case that the question were settled by scholarship in the next decade or so—acceptance of Jesus mythicism by the general populace will probably require several more decades. However, showing that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as an historical figure is not the end of the road. There are some, myself included, who strongly suspect that a human prophet was ultimately behind various Christian, Mandean, and Gnostic writings of late antiquity. I call this view semi-mythicism. Perhaps the prophet in question was John the Baptist. Perhaps he was the … Continue reading

My journey as a “spiritual atheist”—Pt. 4

Ongoing Nazareth shenanigans   One might suppose that the problems with Nazareth archaeology which my book raised have, in the last few years, been assiduously ignored by the religious mainstream—whether we are speaking of the academic establishment, the media, or the public. After all, the Tonight Show has not invited me on as a guest, my book has not sold millions of copies, and not even a single tenured professor has explicitly endorsed my work. This is all quite true, yet curious events soon began occurring in Nazareth after the 2008 publication of The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus. Within a year, an archaeologist working for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) was touting the discovery at Nazareth … Continue reading

My journey as a “spiritual atheist”—Pt. 3

Motive, means, and opportunity Reflecting upon Jesus’ virgin birth, resurrection, and everything in between, I was now convinced that his various biographies as presented in the gospels are pure fiction. Liberal scholarship has amply confirmed this and shown, for example, that the birth stories in Matthew and Luke are incompatible and preposterous as history. King Herod did not murder the babies of Bethlehem—no Roman writer noted such an atrocious act. No star stood still over the village. No census required people to return to their birthplace—a prescription for social chaos, otherwise unknown, that the practical Romans would never have mandated. In other words, Christianity is founded on an invented story—indeed, upon a “lie.” That is a harsh word, but no … Continue reading

My journey as a “spiritual atheist”—Pt. 2

Reason from the East My doubts regarding the existence of god received surprising validation about this time through the discovery of Buddhism. While some call Buddhism a religion, others look upon it as a philosophy. Buddhism is atheist and teaches that each person can (and should) find his or her own answers through a combination of effort and reason. I liked Buddhism’s self-reliance, its non-corporatism, and its emphasis on ethics and understanding. It resonated with my desire to live a moral life while searching for ultimate answers. In the 1980s I returned to Oregon and worked for some years at the State Psychiatric Hospital. The work was dangerous and I eventually transferred to a private hospital where admissions were on … Continue reading

My journey as a “spiritual atheist”—Pt. 1

The search Long ago as a college music major I spent most of my time practicing piano in “the catacombs”—a series of windowless, graffiti-lined cubicles under the University of Oregon School of Music. The walls were paper thin, and the din from neighboring musicians usually insufferable—but also sometimes fascinating. Practicing required unique non-musical skills: the ability to stop reading the graffiti; the ability to tune out the sonic competition; and (the hardest one for me) the ability to stop writing music on the walls. I wasn’t good at these, and my lessons and grades suffered accordingly.   Under such distracting circumstances I practiced hard and somehow also managed to compose reams of music, dreaming of the day when I would … Continue reading

My trip to the SBL in Chicago—Part 3

At the University of Chicago library   Sometimes I travel just to spend time at a well endowed library. Not too long ago I spent a very productive week in springtime at the Graduate Theological Union library in Berkeley. For me, that’s even a better vacation than lounging on the sands of Hawaii. One of my reasons for accepting the SBL speaking engagement was to be able to spend time at the world class Univ. of Chicago library. With about ten million volumes, it’s more than three times the size of the (entirely respectable) Univ. of Oregon library which I routinely use.   Over the previous year I had prepared in advance a list of (mostly obscure) books and articles … Continue reading