Cats and the Black Death
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
1w ago
Some atheists and even some prominent scientists claim that the Black Death was caused or at least made worse by a wholesale massacre of cats ordered by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. But is this true? And where did this strange story come from? In this episode on the History for Atheists video channel we look at this claim and several others associated with it, examine the history of the pandemic of the 1340s known as the Black Death and discover the source of these common but, actually, completely false ideas. For those who prefer the audio version, the Podcast edition is now ..read more
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PZ Myers and the Mythicists
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
2w ago
Atheist activist and blogger PZ Myers has been on a journey regarding the likely existence of a historical Jesus and has been pretty honest about its stages. After a period of finding Jesus Mythicism at least compelling, if not wholly convincing, he has passed through a fairly thoughtful period of “Jesus agnosticism”, but now appears to accept the consensus position of almost all critical scholars: a historical Jesus most likely existed. This has not gone down well with some of his fan base, but it seems to be something of a trend among many of the less dogmatic type of atheist activist – ther ..read more
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Interview – Sebastian Major on Galileo and History Myths
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
1M ago
My guest today is Sebastian Major, writer and presenter of the excellent “Our Fake History” podcast. Sebastian recently presented a three part episode on the Galileo Affair, debunking the many historical myths surrounding Galileo. He did a fine job, but he also took on board some criticisms I had of what he said. And so he was also happy to come on “History for Atheists” to discuss Galileo, how hard it is to get complex history right and some thoughts about the persistence of bad history in the popular sphere. I highly recommend Sebastian’s work on “Our Fake History” and would encourage everyo ..read more
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How History is Done
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
2M ago
For over seven years now I have used History for Atheists to debunk bad historical arguments, historical myths, pseudo history and fringe historical claims used by many of my fellow atheists. Long before I began this site and its attendant video channel and podcast, I have found myself debunking bad history and fringe claims used by ideologues of various stripes: Christians, Muslims, nationalists, fascists, socialists, New Agers and contrarians. After well over three decades of this (admittedly rather odd) pastime, I have come to understand that while a fixed ideology is often the reason these ..read more
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Pagan Halloween?
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
3M ago
The idea that all the traditional holidays and festivals of the year are “pagan” in origin and were simply “stolen by the Church” is one that has permeated popular culture and is repeated without question in newspaper, magazine and online articles. Unfortunately, many anti-theistic polemicists cannot resist a chance to get in a jab at any aspect of Christianity being “really pagan”, so every October we see supposed rationalists parroting pseudo history about the “pagan origins of Halloween”, with no sign of any fact-checking, let alone engagement with scholarship. In fact, the claim that Hallo ..read more
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The Church and Dissection
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
4M ago
The claim that the Medieval Church “banned dissection” and so set back progress in the study of human anatomy is often made in popular sources. It is also regularly found in academic sources by medical experts commenting on the history of anatomy. So, unsurprisingly, it is often produced by anti-theists as evidence that Christianity retarded scientific knowledge for religious reasons. This is despite the fact there was no such “ban” and that the practice of anatomical dissection that founded the modern study of anatomy actually began in medieval schools of medicine. The Claims As discussed he ..read more
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Burning the Library of Antioch?
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
5M ago
While the myth of Christians “burning the Great Library of Alexandria” is far more widespread, it is often claimed they also destroyed the Library of Antioch. This claim is usually made in passing and with little detail, other than that it was the short-lived Christian emperor Jovian who was the culprit and the fact the library contained “many pagan works” was the alleged motive. So this crime is often mentioned in catalogues of Christian crimes against ancient learning. But what is it based on? And did it actually happen? Gold solidus of Jovian Online atheist polemicists of a certain tenor of ..read more
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Cosmic Skeptic Bungles Galileo
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
7M ago
The young sceptic Alex O’Connor of the Cosmic Skeptic video channel has built a substantial audience discussing theological and philosophical questions from an atheistic and rationalist perspective. But when he tries to discuss history, he is on unsure ground and two forays onto the complex subject of the Galileo Affair have seen him present bungled misapprehensions and some outright pseudo historical fantasy to his followers. The content creator Alex O’Connor is a 23 year old recent graduate from Oxford who has used his study of philosophy and theology to produce popular videos critiquing th ..read more
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Interview – David Hutchings & James C. Ungureanu on the Conflict Thesis
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
9M ago
My guests today are David Hutchings and James C. Ungureanu, co-authors of Of Popes and Unicorns: Science, Christianity and How the Conflict Thesis Fooled the World. David is a physicist, science teacher and writer and James is a historian of science and religion. In this interview we discuss their book and the origin and impact of the Conflict Thesis – the pervasive but erroneous idea that religion and science have always been in conflict down the ages. To buy the book: Of Popes and Unicorns: Science, Christianity and How the Conflict Thesis Fooled the World . And for debunking ..read more
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Is Easter Pagan?
History for Atheists
by Tim O'Neill
11M ago
Every year fundamentalist Christians, New Agers, neo-pagans and many atheists loudly agree that Easter was not originally a Christian feast and was a pagan fertility festival stolen by Christianity. Unfortunately, despite what endless memes and pop history articles claim, this idea is complete nonsense. So is the claim that Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny are also originally pagan. It is rather ironic that a set of false historical claims about the origin of Easter and its customs are propagated by supposed rationalists, despite them having their origin in a book of pseudo historical nonsense ..read more
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