Enabling the Padded Cell

Remember when Carrier and Coyne ganged up on Bart Ehrman by defending a claim from Acharyna S?  Coyne, while championing Carrier’s reply, wrote:

 Well, he’s sort of responded, because, in his reply, called “Acharyna S, Richard Carrier, and a cocky Peter (or ‘A cock and bull story’”) he takes up only one of Carrier’s assertions: that a statue of a man with a penis for a nose sits in the Vatican, a statue whose existence Ehrman previously denied.

At the very least I would expect Ehrman to have called the Vatican museum about this, and to have checked the literature on it, before arrogantly declaring no such object existed and implying Murdock made this up. I do not assume Murdock’s interpretation of the object is correct (there is no clear evidence it has anything to do with Christianity, much less Peter).

So Carrier appears to be correct here. If Ehrman denied the statue existed, he was wrong, and that may or may not reflect on his scholarship in Did Jesus Exist?

Carrier thinks Acharyna S (Murdock) should have been taken so seriously that Ehrman was supposed to phone the Vatican museum about this.  And Coyne uses it to raise more doubts about Ehrman’s “scholarship.”

But who is this Acharyna S/Murdock whom Coyne and Carrier seek to legitimize at the expense of a mainstream scholar?  She’s a nutter.  You need to read Albert McIlhenny’s summary of the whole situation to appreciate just how wrong Carrier and Coyne were for doing all this.  I’ll put a key excerpt below the fold:

At some point Murdock then infers something about Peter and homoeroticism within patriarchal cults and quotes Walker as follows:

The cock was another totemic “peter” sometimes viewed as the god’s alter ego. Vatican authorities preserved a bronze image of a cock with an oversize penis on a man’s body, the pedestal inscribed “The Savior of the World.” The cock was also a solar symbol.

At this point Murdock goes off to chase other tangents and the reader is left to make what they can of the mess she left behind.

So what was she trying to infer here? The argument seems to be … Peter is an Apostle … Peter is associated with a rooster crowing … “peter” is a slang word for penis … there is a statue of a rooster-man with a penis for a nose … therefore … what??? This sequence, like much of her book, is a series of often dubious claims pulled from frequently questionable sources and thrown up to form an impenetrable wall of ignorance that the light of common sense cannot breech. The current case of Peter is a perfect example as by the end we have a mangled sequence of non sequiturs with her audience left to decipher the tea leaves and figure out her intent. This pattern is frequently repeated: does she really think the pyramids were not built by Egyptians as tombs but were celestial computers for refugees from Atlantis? Does she really believe academia is controlled by a secret Freemasonic brotherhood led by the pope? It does seem that way but your guess is as good as mine.

It is such “deep-from-within-the-recesses-of-a-padded-room” outbursts that make any alleged misunderstanding on Ehrman’s part quite understandable. Ehrman, having read the sequence outlined above (almost certainly for the first time) probably became glassy-eyed and began mentally recalling the theme from The Twilight Zone before parenthetically quipping:

There is no penis-nosed statue of Peter the cock in the Vatican or anywhere else except in books like this, which love to make things up.


Also, make sure you read to the end of McIlhenny’s posting, as you’ll find out Murdock believes all NT scholars are Masons who have taken a blood oath to serve the Pope (who is the Grand Mason).

So yep, Professor Jerry Coyne and Richard Carrier called Bart Ehrman’s credibility and scholarship into question because he didn’t take a crackpot’s claim about a penis-nosed statue preserved by the Vatican seriously enough.  Nice job, guys.  I think Jerry and Richard need to come to terms with a simple fact:

There is no penis-nosed statue of Peter the cock in the Vatican or anywhere else except in books like this, which love to make things up.


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