A Simple Epistemological Question for Dr. Bronwyn Winter

Dr. Bronwyn Winter, Associate Professor of “European Studies”—one of the paradigm fields of scientific and academic rigor—at the University of Sydney, and radical feminist, has this to say:

Girls who have felt suicidal, who have histories of eating disorders and self-harm, who have felt our bodies are all wrong, and who have suffered from conservative [sic] and abusive family or school environments and have come out the other side—or who are perhaps still working on coming out the other side—we all know that the problem is not our bodies or our brains; the problem is not us; the problem is society; the problem is gender. [Emphasis mine.]

It isn’t clear who the “all” is in “we all know”—perhaps it is only the ones with the histories of suicidal ideation, eating disorders, and self-harm, things I admit I no experience with.

Assuming this is correct, what exactly is the epistemological link between being suicidal, having eating disorders, and a history of self-harm, and accurate knowledge that “there is nothing wrong with us”?

Prima facie, it seems likely that there is something wrong with a person who is suicidal, has an eating disorder, or engages in self-harm: all three of theses things are, in fact, recognizable and recognized mental disorders.

How do “we”—or I suppose “they”—have this knowledge that, despite the fact that there is obviously something wrong with them, that there is nothing wrong with them, that it is “society” or “gender” which are out of order?

You all know I like arguments to be laid out systematically, so

  1. P is suicidal.
  2. P has an eating disorder.
  3. P has a history of self-harm.
  4. Therefore, P knows that there is nothing wrong with P.
  5. Therefore, P knows something is wrong with society.
  6. Therefore P knows something is wrong with “gender.”

I would really like to know how Dr. Winter manages to get conclusions 4-6 out of premises 1-3.

The Story of Moira Greyland (Guest Post)

Something everyone should know.


I was born into a family of famous gay pagan authors in the late Sixties. My mother was Marion Zimmer Bradley, and my father was Walter Breen. Between them, they wrote over 100 books: my mother wrote science fiction and fantasy (Mists of Avalon), and my father wrote books on numismatics: he was a coin expert.

What they did to me is a matter of unfortunate public record: suffice to say that both parents wanted me to be gay and were horrifed at my being female. My mother molested me from ages 3-12. The first time I remember my father doing anything especially violent to me I was five. Yes he raped me. I don’t like to think about it. If you want to know about his shenanigans with little girls, and you have a very strong stomach, you can google the Breendoggle, which was the scandal which ALMOST drummed…

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“Mythical Jesus”: The Fatal Flaws

Larry Hurtado's Blog

My lengthy posting in which I explained why the “mythical Jesus” claim has no traction among scholars (here) drew (predictably) an attempt to refute it from the “Vridar” blogsite.  I don’t think it succeeds, but readers will have to judge for themselves.  I’ll content myself with underscoring a few things that remain established from my posting.

I focused on three claims that Richard Carrier posits as corroborating his hypothesis that “Jesus” was originally a “celestial being” or “archangel,” not a historical figure, and that this archangel got transformed into a fictional human figure across several decades of the first century CE.  I showed that the three claims are all false, which means that his hypothesis has no corroboration.

  1. There is no evidence of “a Jewish archangel Jesus”.  All known figures bearing the name are portrayed as human and historical figures.  Furthermore, contra Carrier, Paul never treats Jesus as…

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Why the “Mythical Jesus” Claim Has No Traction with Scholars

Larry Hurtado's Blog

The overwhelming body of scholars, in New Testament, Christian Origins, Ancient History, Ancient Judaism, Roman-era Religion, Archaeology/History of Roman Judea, and a good many related fields as well, hold that there was a first-century Jewish man known as Jesus of Nazareth, that he engaged in an itinerant preaching/prophetic activity in Galilee, that he drew to himself a band of close followers, and that he was executed by the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate.

These same scholars typically recognize also that very quickly after Jesus’ execution there arose among Jesus’ followers the strong conviction that God (the Jewish deity) had raised Jesus from death (based on claims that some of them had seen the risen Jesus).  These followers also claimed that God had exalted Jesus to heavenly glory as the validated Messiah, the unique “Son of God,” and “Lord” to whom all creation was now to give obeisance.[i]  Whatever…

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The “Mythic” Jesus’ Last Hurrah

Larry Hurtado's Blog

For several years now, the “mythic Jesus” notion has been re-asserted and, with the aid of the internet, has gained some widespread attention, much to the puzzlement (and often amusement) of serious scholars in the field of origins of Christianity.  I’ve commented on the phenomenon in earlier postings (here, here, here, and here, this last posting with a link to an interview with a leading scholar on the historical Jesus, Dale Allison).

In the eyes of fans of the “mythicist” Jesus view, it appears, Richard Carrier is the key figure, whose books are pointed to as presenting a scholarly defence of it.  Carrier’s two books on this subject are (1)  Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus (Prometheus Books, 2012), and On the Historicity of Jesus:  Why We May Have Reason for Doubt (Sheffield Academic Press, 2014).  Occasionally, readers of my…

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Can Atheists Believe in The Laws of Nature?

Can Atheists Believe in the Laws of Nature? 

Consider the following argument:

1 All laws require a lawmaker who makes the laws, as we can see from all the laws that human beings make. 

2 Therefore, if there are laws of nature, there must be a lawmaker who makes the laws of nature. 

3 But a lawmaker who makes the laws of nature would be God.

4 Since atheists reject God, they reject the existence of a lawmaker of the laws of nature.

5 But since there can’t be laws of nature without a lawmaker, no atheist can coherently believe that there are laws of nature. 

Something like this argument has been made historically, and it seems to have impressed not a few thinkers that the lawfulness of nature does seem to suggest—if not rationally entail—the existence of a lawmaker.  

I don’t think the argument is very good, because it seems to me the rest fundamentally on a EQUIVOCATION, which is this:

A “law” of nature just isn’t the same thing or even the same kind of thing as a “law” of the land.  Human laws obviously require lawmakers. The laws of nature MAY require some kind of intelligent source, but that’s a totally different argument, it seems to me. They just aren’t the same kind of thing as human laws, and it only confuses things when laws of nature and human laws are conflated, just because they share the same name. A lot of people—me included—have wished ANOTHER WORD besides “law” had been given to what we do call the laws of nature. 

So, yes, atheists can believe in the laws of nature just fine. 

But here’s the rub: The confusion of “law of nature” with “law of the land” is VERY MUCH LIKE the confusion of God with gods, because they, again, share the same name (sort of), even though we have a convention of capitalizing the G when we mean God precisely in order to differentiate God from a god. We don’t capitalize “God” because it’s a proper name. It isn’t. 

God is a not a god, not the same, not the same kind of thing—God doesn’t even HAVE a kind (and cannot), whereas “god” is a kind (although it is unknown to me if it is an instantiated or merely fictional kind). 

If you are an atheist and can grasp that a law of nature and a human “law” are terms that refer to very different things, you ought to be able to grasp that God and gods refer to very different things. God has literally no more or less to do with gods than any other kind of being.