Ari’s Blog: Conspiracy as History? More on Zeitgeist and Murdock

Once more I continue my thread of discussions on Dorothy Murdock (I refuse to call her by her pseudonym anymore).   I was made aware of a recent blog on a similar subject, brought to light by Unreasonable Faith (h/t) from Ari’s Blog of Awesome.  Here is a snippet:

When legitimate historical issues are dismissed in such a way it is not hard to understand why her attempt at history has turned out so bad. In order to push a conspiracy theory it is essential that the theorist view the evidence as irrelevant or as it was so tactfully put by Murdock, “crap”. While the historian adjusts their theory in light of careful consideration of the evidence, the conspiracy theorist picks and chooses the evidence to confirm their preconceived conspiracy theory. This is evident throughout the work, whether it be simply dismissing historical sources as forgeries (e.g. Tacitus) or by being oblivious to their very existence (e.g. numerous sources on persecution of Christians, early NT manuscripts and patristic citations, etc.)

via Ari’s Blog: Conspiracy as History?.

Well worth the read.

2 Responses

  1. Hi Tom
    I’m slightly mystified by Ari’s argument. Augustine was a Manichaean before his conversion to Christianity, but Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, was a Mandaean. It is perfectly reasonable for Acharya S to describe Augustine as a Mandaean.
    Regards, Robert

  2. No, she’s not. That’s like saying that a Lutheran priest can be called a Catholic, because Luther was once a Catholic (it’s a direct analogy to your claim). It sounds just as stupid when you say it, Robert. Even if she were right, you do realize they held to different sets of beliefs, right? In fact they had different texts they followed.

    Now, to be perfectly clear, Mani was an Elkesaite; he was not a Mandaean. You might mistakenly say they are similar, but you’d be wrong. To use a correct analogy, it would be like trying to equate Philo’s Therapeutae and Josephus’ Essenes. There are more differences in their beliefs than useful comparisons. In any event, the doctrines aren’t even compatible except for the (very common) practice of Baptism (which was practiced by most, if not all, Christian sects that we know of) and the concept of dualism (which was a doctrinal philosophy of most “heretical” Christian movements but also found in “orthodoxy” as well). However, Elkesaite is arguably not a gnostic movement (there is no evidence it adhered to the philosophy of salvation through gnosis or a separation between a creator and a supreme entity–which also happen to be doctrinal views of the mandaeans, which merely strengthens my argument and weakens your correlation).

    Your methods of research and consideration are astoundingly similar to those of Murdock, so it is not surprising that you have come to your conclusion. You, like Murdock, assume that correlation equals causation. It’s why you make rather ridiculous statements like the one you made above (and why she makes them all over the place–her books, her articles, her blog, Zeitgeist, etc…). So no, again, Murdock was in no way reasonable to describe Augustine as a Mandaean. She was, however, quite wrong. Unless she wants to point out where, in Mandaic doctine, we can find metempsychosis.

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