CFI Institute Online - Did Jesus Exist? - SCI 221-0712

Sunday, July 1, 2012 - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Location: Online Course

Click here to register!

Instructor: Richard Carrier, PhD, philosopher, historian, and author
Instructor: John Shook, PhD, CFI director of education and AHA education coordinator

This one-month, four-module seminar course will examine the question of whether Jesus existed, surveying the historical evidence and testing alterative theoretical answers.

Course Objectives:

This four-module short course, running from July 1 to July 31, examines the methods of historians, their relationship to the leading theories about the historical Jesus, and the available evidence both for and against his existence, and teaches students how best to evaluate arguments on either side (including how to check facts, spot fallacies, and avoid bad arguments). 

Course Topics:

  • The methods of historians and how to tell good history from bad
  • The evidence for the historicity of Jesus and its context and value
  • The most credible theories of the evidence (both supporting historicity and not)
  • The best criticisms and responses to those theories

Readings: Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus (2012) by Richard Carrier. Students will purchase their own copy of Carrier’s book. Additional readings are provided electronically to students inside the instructional area, along with supplemental audio/visual materials, all available online at no extra cost.

Your Instructors:

Richard Carrier, PhD, is the renowned author of Sense and Goodness without God and Not the Impossible Faith, as well as numerous articles online and in print. He received his PhD in ancient history from Columbia University in 2008, and now specializes in the modern philosophy of naturalism, the origins of Christianity, and the intellectual history of Greece and Rome. For more about him and his work visit

John Shook, PhD, is Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Inquiry, and also Education Coordinator for the American Humanist Association. He is on the faculty of the Science and the Public EdM program at the University at Buffalo. From 2000 to 2006 John was professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University. His recent book is The God Debates, and he blogs at

About CFI Institute Online Courses:

CFI 200-level courses are taught at an intellectual level equivalent to an introductory college course. We expect students to participate in the class discussion at their own chosen pace, and there are no other writing requirements and no grading. These classes are entirely online — everything for the course except the book is provided on a CFI website. You will read the course lectures, follow links to other webpages, ask your questions, and participate in class discussion with the instructors and other students on our website.

There is no specific time that you must be online. There is no "live" part to these courses, and you cannot miss anything even if you can only get online at 6am or 11pm — you can log in and participate anytime, day or night, 24/7. A certificate of course completion is available to students who do participate online (as opposed to only lurking and reading, which is also an unobjectionable option for some students). Completion of eight courses at the Expertise 200-level is rewarded with the Institute's Certificate of Expertise.

Online courses are now jointly advertised by the Center for Inquiry and the American Humanist Association, and both organizations encourage their members and affiliates to consider taking them. Online courses are the most visible sign that CFI and the AHA have entered a cooperative relationship on some educational programming. That cooperation is facilitated by Dr. John Shook, who now serves as education coordinator for both CFI and AHA.

This is a one-month course, running from July 1st, 2012 through July 31st, 2012.
: $70 for general registration; $60 for Friends of the Center; or $30 for college students (valid .edu email address required).

Click here to register!

Additional questions? Contact the CFI Institute for further information.

We're sorry, the deadline for registering for this event has passed.