Selfful Seasonal Reprise! James Valliant interviewed by Lindsay: Christianity & his forthcoming book—Behind the Cross

JulianD's picture
Submitted by JulianD on Tue, 2007-05-29 13:11

[Reprised to mark James's recovery and his stellar presentation of Objectivism's selfful take on Goblianity, the Religion of Sacrificialism—Linz]

On 6 April (Easter Friday) Lindsay Perigo interviewed James Valliant on his Radio Live show which was broadcast throughout NZ. It is now available online and I commend it to your attention. It is a fantastic and interesting 2 hours.

James Valliant & Lindsay Perigo - Twango

In this interview you will hear James discuss (amongst other things) :

- His forthcoming book: Behind the Cross: A History of Early Christianity.

- The origins of Christianity.

- Why Christianity remains a powerful force in the 21 Century.

- Why Islam has recently come to be such a threat to Western Civilisation.

- The contradictions to be found in Christianity.

- The 10 commandments as a "moral" code.

- The inherent contradictions facing the USA in its "War on Terror."

And he does this for over 2 hours without taking a breath. Smiling

Note: This programme was beset by some technical problems most of which I have edited out.

In addition to listening to this interview via the above audio link, this interview can also be downloaded from here link for the next 7 days or 100 downloads. It is a big file - 58mb, so you will want to have a good internet connection. I can upload this again once the link expires so please ask if this is necessary.

Enjoy!! And Bravo Lindsay and James!!


( categories: )


Tom Burroughes's picture

Neil, I am not sure. He was certainly a compelling writer at his best. And is book on Rand and the Brandens is a must-read, even if you don't agree with some of its conclusions.

Valliant And Hsieh

Neil Parille's picture

Apparently they have had a falling out. And Hsieh and Peikoff had a falling out a couple of years ago.

Too funny.

Jim Valliant

Neil Parille's picture

Anyone know how Jim is doing and, if he's ok, why he no longer posts or participates at SOLO?

-Neil Parille

Harry Dean Stanton's Paul

Peter Cresswell's picture

JAMES: "...the Jesus who made an impact is the Jesus of the Gospels -- and HE was a Jesus constructed by those with very definite theological and political motives."

I think I've mentioned this before, but in this context there's a great scene towards the end of the Scorcese film 'Last Temptation of Christ' in which after Jesus fails to be crucified and instead starts a family (that's the "Last Temptation," you see), he meets Harry Dean Stanton's Paul preaching about Jesus and his teachings, and he corrects Paul's various fictions and untruths.

Harry Dean Stanton's Paul tells Scorcese's Jesus that the actual truth of his -- ie., Jesus' -- life is irrelevant: "I created the truth out of what people needed and what they believed. If I have to crucify you to save the world, then I'll crucify you. And if I have to resurrect you, then I'll do that, too. ...You don't know how much people need God. You don't know how happy he can make them. Happy to do anything. He can make them happy to die and they'll die. All for the sake of Christ. Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth. The Son of God. The Messiah. Not you. Not for your sake. You know, I'm glad I met you. Because now I can forget all about you. My Jesus is much more important and much more powerful."

I believe that touches perfectly upon James' point.



James S. Valliant's picture

Even after becoming an atheist, I figured that there must have been a "Jesus" -- otherwise, where did the idea come from? The bare fact of an historical Jesus is, of course, no proof of Christianity or the accuracy of the Gospels.

Moreover, lots of guys named "Jesus" were crucified in the First Century, Reed. They belonged to a still larger class of Jews who were rebelling against Roman rule -- many of whom were rebel leaders claiming to be the "messiah" of Jewish prophecy. Given the problems with the text, I have come to see that the Gospels are not sufficient proof for the historical existence of Jesus. So, the question, in my mind, is a very tricky one -- did one of these Jewish rebels serve as the original inspiration for the story?

That Jesus fulfills the sacrifice and "piercing" oracles of the prophet Isaiah's "Suffering Servant" prophecy, and that Jesus plays out being a "Moses type" (the slaughter of the babies, the law from a mountain, etc.), and an "Elijah type," and, if we accept recent theories, a "Julius Caesar type" and a "Titus Caesar type," and that Jesus happens to possess all of the attributes of contemporary "Mystery Cult" gods, sure do not argue in favor of his historical reality. On the other hand, they do not preclude it.

In the same way, the fact that "form-criticism" and other textual analyses show that much of what the Gospels say about Jesus cannot be (or is unlikely to be) true of an historical Jesus STILL doesn't preclude the possibility of his existence, given his ubiquitous name and fate.

Under these conditions, the historical Jesus will need some actual proof in order to be believed, it seems to me, but his existence is well within the bounds of the possible.

This question I do not find very interesting, in any event -- since the Jesus who made an impact is the Jesus of the Gospels -- and HE was a Jesus constructed by those with very definite theological and political motives.

Yes. You would still have

reed's picture

Yes. You would still have to prove the second assertion thus proving the first unless you could prove it was impossble for a person of any other nationality to have been "Robin Hood".


James S. Valliant's picture

Are you suggesting that the following would be an incorrect premise for an historical investigation of the reality of, say, Robin Hood: "If he existed, he was an Englishman"? At the end of the day, this may only tell us something about the story's origin, but not its accuracy.


reed's picture

If you have proof of Jesus nature then you have proof of his existence.

You appear to be selectively applying reason depending on your belief.


James S. Valliant's picture

Being "honest with myself," I'm pretty sure that the premises of "proof" are not something than require -- or tolerate -- a "proof." That would be a circular "proof" anyhow. Food for thought.

As to God, I don't think that entertaining arbitrary possibilities is a "solution," that's for sure.

The "irrational" part about Jesus isn't "irrational" at all. Since you like this form, one can say the following under many sorts of circumstances, "IF X happens, it will have attribute Y." (The tense doesn't matter.) See?

James - Be honest with

reed's picture

James -
Be honest with yourself, recognise that knowledge requires proof, that proof built on unproven assumptions is belief, that likely truths (or falsehoods) are subjective belief and that speculation on any foundation leads to belief.

I have considered the source of conflict (including force) - IMO pride, envy, greed and fear (I'm probably missing some) I don't think ignoring the possibility of a god is a solution and I agree that pride in ones sect is certainly part of the problem. I suppose not recognising belief might lead a person to force something on to another.

I don't get your point about "equivocation" but the organism is Archaeothyris and when researching the phylogeny on wikipedia it appeared twice, it's obviously a mistake, as is thinking that a loving creator would create someone for the purpose of eternal torment. It's a bad doctrine, based on mistranslation, not shared by all christians.

Everything is possible until someone doubts it and proves otherwise.
This statement is not mine, the website I got it from attributed it to Einstein (I tried to verify it but found no proof). You are right that I can't prove the statement true but I have no problem with this statement and you are free to believe it is false, ignore it or disprove it.

The irrational part of your Jesus assessment was to claim knowledge of the nature of a person you acknowledge you can't even prove existed.

Kelly -
Honest expression... pleased to see it.


James S. Valliant's picture

As honest scholars have long understood, the Gospels are of such a character that we cannot rely on them as the "history" of Jesus. In the view of many, the Jesus of the Gospels reflects one side of an earlier ~ debate ~ among "Christians." The arguments revealed in Paul's letter to the Galatians suggest to me that "Paul's side" of this debate created in the Gospels a Jesus in sympathy with this "side," i.e., an anti-Mosaic, pro-peace, pro-Roman "Jesus." The stories about Jesus (e.g., that of Pilate) even reflect this. Of all the "facts" about Jesus, the single best attested is his crucifixion. But, absent the dubious "teachings" and stories giving the event its theological and political "spin," this bare fact, by itself, only suggests that Jesus was an all-too-common anti-Roman rebel. The teachings found in the Gospels would more likely have earned Jesus Roman protection, rather than his execution.


Kenny's picture

"I don't know if Jesus existed but I know if he did exist then he was a nationalist separatist."

I have always viewed Jesus as an anarcho-communist and pacifist. He seems to have been against private property too.


James S. Valliant's picture

"Atheism" merely denotes the absence of single mistake, not the presence of anything worth believing. "A violent past," as such, is not anyone's argument against Christianity, as far as I can tell. However, the relationship between faith and force is as clear as the relationship between reason and freedom -- something you might want to consider.

True, Christians have not strapped bombs on themselves in order to kill others with the act of their own martyrdoms -- but this new form of it merely combines two previous "virtues" of Christianity -- BOTH dying and killing for the faith -- into one conveniently efficient act. One might call this the next step in the evolution of mysticism's death worship.

Atheism does not rest on the foundation of evolution, but it looks like your "contradiction" about evolution rests on an equivocation.

Your view of possibility is also troubling. The "onus of proof" principle applies to possibility as much as it applies to probability or certainty.

Finally, my assessment of the historical reality of a "Jesus" is an assessment of evidence -- the very opposite of a concession to the irrational.

I just feel the need to say,

User hidden's picture

I just feel the need to say, just so it's said, God doesn't exist. I'm an atheist. There. Now someone on SOLO thinks it again.


My perspective

reed's picture

There's too much in the show to comment on everything so I just picked a few main points.

Violent past
Humans have a violent past (and present) and christians are no exception, atheists also have a violent past. IMO patriotism/pride is the source of these conflicts, that's why christians fight catholics and soloists fight hseikovians.

Christian martyrdom can hardly be compared to muslim martyrdom.
Christian martyrdom is the kind where you might get in front of a truck to save a child. The other christian type is being burned, crucified or whatever because you are a christian.
Muslim martyrdom is where you take a child, strap explosives to him, and send him to school.

When researching the common descent aspect of evolution I discovered a contradiction - an organism was its own ancestor (like being your own grandfather) does this disprove the whole theory? No, it does identify a conflict that needs to be resolved.
Seventh day adventists, christadelphians, jehovahs witnesses and many christians with no particular affiliation do not have the hell and eternal torment contradiction identified on the show - the resolution is easily found by searching the web (clues - hades, gehena, sheol). Thinking people will examine their contradictions to find where they have made mistakes, others will just ignore them - again this isn't peculiar to religion.

Lack of Evidence
Lack of evidence has not affected the common descent proposal of evolution and many people still believe it, it's more about how the evidence is interpreted, it's the same when considering "Is there a God?" some people view their own existence as evidence (among other things).
Note: Everything is possible until someone doubts it and proves otherwise.

One last thing
I don't know if Jesus existed but I know if he did exist then he was a nationalist separatist.
The only comment I can say to this is One concession to the irrational can trump all the thinking you do.

James and Lindsay

Kasper's picture

Wow! This was insightful. I also was very disappointed at the response from christians. I think the broadcast attracted alot of young and immature people within their faith. I asked my mother to take a listen, she told me to piss off. She said: "No rationality, arguement or debate will convince me otherwise from my faith, so don't waste your time"! Thats exactly it! I was wasting my time. She tried to explain to me that people all have a story. We go looking for stories which reflect ourselves or our story. Not too sure about where she was going with that one. But I do see it. Faith to these people is an intuitive, relational, personal story and yes it involves "knowings" through; convictions, revelations, being 'touched', life transformations, the search of the self in the mystery of life. I have an article here gloss over first part, focus on last stages talking about the developmental stages of Faith. Fowler, a psychologist, developed this theory and I think that it quite acurately shows the process of peoples journeys of faith through a lifetime. Listening to that radio show I noticed nobody above stage 4 out of the six stages gave you a call. Religion has its stupidities and irrationalities. Unfortunately most people who have faith go through this medium but as they progress above stage 4 they become liberal, loving and accepting in their thinking. This is because its not the cognitive rightness or wrongness in spiritualiy that counts but the relationship and depthness of engaging in this life experience. My point is, that as far as critisizing the belief in God goes, from a faith perspective, its really a waste of time. I was 'converted' to athiesm when I was in stage 4 'individuative-reflective' stage. This is the last stage of the primacy of cognition, its down hill from there. I do find this intellectual intercourse very interesting however I can get frustrated with the lack of climax at the end of these discussions Smiling

Thanks, Claudia

Casey's picture

I expected you would.



Olivia's picture

I always did. Some of the best posts on Solo have come from his hand.

Wow, indeed!

Casey's picture

Just listened to the whole thing.

Do you guys get why I defend this guy yet?



Christianity As Daddy

Bill Visconti's picture

"It is a doctrine of utter dependence and I find it strange how often god is likened to a benevolent father figure and we, his children, are meant to ask for everything we want and wait for it to be delivered. I couldn't think of anything worse than raising a bunch of kids who still totally depend on me during their adulthood and asked for all their wants and needs to be met. If it were so, I would assume that as a parent, I had failed miserably."

Excellent point Claudia. Christianity is a thought system that fulfills the need for a father figure for grown adults who are desperately afraid of being on their own. But the thing is, in today's context, as much as that is so for Christianity, it is 100 times more descriptive of Islam. In today's context, Islam is total mind control and Allah is a totally controlling and abusive daddy who commands that you kill in his name or you will suffer eternal damnation.

Religion is scary stuff.

Proud Member Of The "Nuke-Them-Till-They-Glow" School Of Foreign Policy

Wow. Thanks Julian

Olivia's picture

for posting this - and thanks again for editing out the ads and news breaks!

Very good show from both Linz and James. Good to hear your voice James for the first time. Smiling

I share Linz's frustration over the christian contradiction of "free will". I once suffered from this contradiction myself - you'd think it would make me more tolerant of it in others, but it has the reverse effect I'm afraid. I guess I know firsthand the blank out one has to do in order to maintain it.

On the whole, christians are extremely ignorant of the history they buy into and the actual bible they claim to believe and understand. So many of them do not even read the Old Testament, and many are thoroughly ignorant of the details in the New.

I don't think I've ever heard of someone having a "conversion" experience without there existing an extremely stressful context - indicating a psychoses experience would be a more accurate term for it. Like the guy who rang in and expressed that God had revealed himself to him personally. I'd bet my bottom dollar that the guy would've been at rock bottom in his life. As James points out, any saving that went on would've come from the actual guy himself - but is attributed to God's power, not his own.

I really liked the point you made James to one guy about not feeling any need to be saved. For me, it was a marvellous realization to come to, and I think my life truly began from that moment on! Of course, christians find it a terribly blasphemous statement - wicked enough to stop praying for us on principle!

It is a doctrine of utter dependence and I find it strange how often god is likened to a benevolent father figure and we, his children, are meant to ask for everything we want and wait for it to be delivered. I couldn't think of anything worse than raising a bunch of kids who still totally depend on me during their adulthood and asked for all their wants and needs to be met. If it were so, I would assume that as a parent, I had failed miserably.


Bill Visconti's picture

Great interview. It truly was. I'm fascinated by the parallels between the first century AD and now. I wish you had the chance to expand on that.

I have often thought of Christianity as having "bi-polar" disorder. There is Old Testament "hell-fire and brimstone" and New-Testament "turn the other cheek" pacifism. It’s as if Christianity has both sides of the altruist coin (to use Rand's expression): it has sacrifice of others to self (Old Testament) and sacrifice of self to others (New Testament).

Islam seems very Old Testament to me. It’s purely kill or be killed. Everything is reduced to waging war for the glory of Islam. In fact, I see another similarity to the Old Testament. The Old Testament is basically the story of the wars conducted by the Jewish tribe against the various other tribes of the Levant; the Samaritans, the Caananites, etc, etc. The Koran is basically the story of Mohammed’s wars against the Jews and the various pagan tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. Both have to do with war and conquest although the Koran and Islam are more systematic in its call to war.

James made the point during the interview that in addition to the New Testament's radically different approach to Old-Testament Judaism, Christianity has been integrated with Greco-Roman thought in a tradition which spans two millennium. First there was Augustinian influence then Thomistic influence, etc. Christianity, for all its flaws, is heavily influenced by philosophy (for better or worse). From my understanding, Islam has not been subjected to such philosophical influence. It is still in a pre-Enlightenment, anti-philosophical stage which is why it has not been pacified as has Christianity in the West (at least temporarily). And personally, I don't think we will have time to wait for that to happen. Islam must be pacified and defanged by force of arms.

So feel free to comment on whether or not you agree James and thank you and Lindsay and all the Soloists that made this excellent interview possible.

Proud Member Of The "Nuke-Them-Till-They-Glow" School Of Foreign Policy


James S. Valliant's picture

"Breathing"? What's that? Smiling

I'm not sure ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... if the moments survived the editing, but there were times when I instructed you to take a breath. I was afraid you'd keel over from lack of oxygen. Besides, I had to go to commercials. Smiling


James S. Valliant's picture

No, really, I'm not ~ quite ~ as rude as I sound -- sometimes I just couldn't hear (at all) when someone else was speaking.

Thanks Julian

Hayden Wood's picture

As the title says, thanks Julian, and Messrs Perigo and Valliant

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