Surprised by Ignorance: Cult of Dusty

In preparing for the next book in my series (dealing with Jesus as he appears in ancient authors outside the New Testament), I have done some preparation not just by reading the books by various Jesus mythicists, but also in checking websites that cater to the mythicist crowd. While I expected to find much in the way of poor material, I have been astonished by the vast wall of sheer ignorance one finds in such quarters. Oh sure, I began with low expectations from that crowd but the reality is even worse than I imagined

As my first example of such ignorance, there is a video I was directed to by some guy on Youtube named Dusty Smith who has a channel called “Cult of Dusty.” His shtick is to insult Christianity and Christians in between random bits of profanity and poor reasoning concerning the same. The only way I can describe him is as the Bill Maher for atheist rednecks. One supposes he might actually find that a compliment … it isn’t.

Take for example, a video he did titled Jesus Never Existed. Like most who support this position, he seems to take it as “rational” despite just about everyone who might be considered an expert on the history of religion from every perspective (including atheists) believing it is a crank viewpoint left to ideologues and crackpot conspiracy theorists. Even more revealing than using a belief with less scholarly support than the Psychic Friends Network as a sign of clear thinking was his own tale of how he came to this revelation.

He begins by stating he was a Christian and he wanted to “shut these atheists up” about Jesus not existing. From how he describes his interaction with these atheists, he was likely an ignorant Christian debating with one or more ignorant atheists and he later switched sides without doing much to cure his ignorance. In the next few minutes, his complete lack of anything resembling historical knowledge becomes quite clear and he accomplishes little apart from exposing himself as a complete fraud who knows nothing of what he speaks.

For example, at one point, in the midst of a rant, he states (foul language omitted):

…there were scholars in the area he supposedly was during that time who kept track of all the cults in the area and not a single one of them mentions him – period. In fact there’s no Roman records at all that Pontius Pilate put him to death… it doesn’t exist.

I challenge Dusty or any of his fans to give the names of these supposed scholars who were in Galilee and Judea at that time keeping track of various religious groups. Notice he never gives an actual name. There is a reason for this: he cannot. No such scholar existed.

Yes there were lots of groups in that area and there were also occasional would be messiahs who arose and were crushed by the Romans. We know about these men from the time of Jesus and earlier through a single source: Josephus. No Roman writer ever mentioned them at the time or later. They just did not care about Judea except when it presented an imminent threat and even then the references were to the Jews as a group rather than individuals.

As for the Roman records, he is correct that there are no Roman records of Pilate executing Jesus. However, there are no Roman records of Pilate executing anyone. In fact, there are no extant records from Judea in that period. So even here, his accusation means absolutely nothing.

He then goes on to state that no one wrote anything about Jesus for decades which is also false. It has been known for quite some time by scholars that the Gospels were compiled from earlier traditions and documents. In fact, the same can be said about parts of Paul’s letters as he quoted hymns and credal statements in use by Christians at the time.

Dusty then goes on to state the first historical evidence is Josephus. Actually, it is the letters of Paul which predate Josephus by decades. He then claims Josephus is not historical evidence – it is at best hearsay. This again proves that most Jesus mythicists have no idea what constitutes historical evidence. There is this assumption among them (that they only apply to Jesus) that Jesus did not exist unless you have proven words from someone who knew him. By that standard, there were maybe a few hundred people alive at the time in Judea because we sure do not have much of any such evidence.

The fact is that this is not a criminal trial where one has to prove something beyond a shadow of a doubt. History is done merely by the preponderance of the evidence. And if someone talked to those or read the writings of those who knew of this Jesus, then the preponderance of evidence is that he existed. It does not mean he rose from the dead, but if this troublesome group of Christians were worshiping someone who did not exist, then Josephus would have been in an ideal position to know this and would have certainly mentioned it.

The next assertion is that “we now know” that the passage is a total forgery by the fourth century church father Eusebius. Really?? And how do we know this?? By reading the books of crackpot conspiracy theorists that no scholar takes seriously? If Dusty ever read the academic literature on the subject, he would find that, far from knowing such a thing to be true, the consensus of scholars is that the passage is largely authentic but altered later by a Christian hand to affirm Christian beliefs. It is not just that someone like this guy believes this nonsense – he is entitled to disagree with the aforementioned consensus – but that he has absolutely no clue that what he is stating as “known” is considered a fringe opinion.

He later goes on to state that all Tacitus said was that there was this cult of Christians. What Tacitus actually stated was that these Christians followed someone from Judea they called Christ who was executed during the reign of Tiberius Caesar by Pontius Pilate. As one can see, that is a lot more than just saying there were some Christians worshiping some amorphous figure.

Astonishingly, someone who spews this sort of ignorance on a regular basis has over 85,000 subscribers. This is the world of the New Atheism.

4 thoughts on “Surprised by Ignorance: Cult of Dusty

  1. The reason why many people like Dusty believe this sort of things is because they are under the notion left by the Enlightenment in the 18th century that is still very dominant throughout the Western world, particularly among educated people. Since the Enlightenment teaches Christianity is evil, they quickly buy into many anti-Christian claims like Christ didn’t exist or his stories are only copies of previous pagan gods. Its the same exact reason why many buy into the claims promoted by right-wing Hindus like Hinduism is a less violent religion than the Abrahamic faiths, is more inclusive and doesn’t make claims to single truths, and that Hindus criticize Christianity and Islam because they are supposedly “defending” themselves from neo-imperialist and intolerant missionaries, but of course, in reality this is nothing but a ruse to hide their ultranationalistic and incredibly violent intentions, but since Christianity and Islam have a history of imperialism in India, refuting these claims makes you look like a bigot or imperialist, all thanks, again, to the Enlightenment that left us this anti-Christian notion.

  2. When dealing with any historical discovery using archaeology, it must always be remembered that we are only able to uncover a fraction of what once existed and we are only able to understand a fraction of that. So no claim about someone or something not existing can ever be made by archaeology. However, the longer we excavate in a region or analyze written documents without finding evidence of the person’s or place’s existence, the greater the doubt becomes about such existence.

  3. Benny Greene says:

    Why is it that liberal scholars are anxious to bend over backwards in granting credibility to numerous events of ancient history (many of which are undergirded by the scantest of evidence) yet they obstinately resist granting virtually any audience to the New Testament writings? There can be but one answer: they are militantly biased against the biblical records, hence, reject their veracity—no matter how compelling the evidence!

    • First, let me apologize for not seeing your comment earlier. For some reason, it ended up in my spam filter. As for the comment, this might be the case if the person had reason to leave archaeological evidence, but that surely is not the case with Jesus. Almost nothing written survived the first century AD in Judea. We have nothing from that region and period to speak of and for good reason: the two Jewish rebellions in a century led to Roman reprisals that leveled the Jewish civilization of the period to the ground. Only some fortunate things hidden in caves (e.g., Dead Sea Scrolls) survive. There are no written records of the priestly class from that period and they certainly had the means to do so and did but it all perished. Unless someone of the period were a prominent enough figure to have their name in stone, we likely never will have contemporary physical proof of their existence.

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