The paperback first and second editions of ‘Astonishing Credulity’ are sold out and out of print. However, the third edition is now available through Amazon as an e-book via this link .

 

Amazon Books UK

 

Amazon Books USA

Amazon Books Canada 

Amazon Books Australia

 

 Astonishing Credulity 3rd edition e-book.

This book aims to confront our readiness as a society to impress theological ideas on to young children, and our acceptance of the tenets of theology within the political system.  Serious questions are asked of religion’s specially protected sensitivities, given religion’s demonstrably fictitious foundation.

 

The first two chapters of this book have been used as material for a presentation which I have called ‘Just Suppose’. The presentation has been delivered as a lecture to several Humanist Groups within the UK; below is a sample of the feed back from these lectures.

 

“Mike does have a striking argument.”

David Flint: Chairmen, North London Humanist Society.

 

“…This presentation was very professional, very convincing and very well received.  We strongly recommend it.” 

Robert Tee: Secretary, Humanist Society of West Yorkshire.

 

“I am writing to thank you again, on behalf of Essex Humanists Group, for your most interesting presentation.  It was quite evident that you are extremely knowledgeable and have spent  considerable time and effort in researching and gathering your material.  One of our members  commented that ‘Just Suppose’, broken down into smaller sections, would make an extremely  good course for secondary school pupils and also other humanist and secularist groups.”

Marie Oatham: Secretary, Essex Humanists.

 

“As you will have detected on the night, your presentation 'Just Suppose' was very well received by our members and a number of them have asked me to convey their thanks to you and have asked how they might obtain further information about your work.  We were very impressed with the level of professionalism in the production especially the visuals in the slide show which made the line of argument easy to follow.  I would have no hesitation in recommending this presentation to anyone with an interest in the history of religion and the origins of Christianity”

Graeme Smith: Secretary, Bedfordshire Humanists.

 I am writing to thank you for your interesting and informative presentation last night. Your talk went down very well and provoked quite a discussion. Indeed the meeting went on longer than usual -- a good indicator of the level of interest in the subject!  We really appreciate your efforts and wish you every success with promoting your ideas more widely. They deserve to be heard. You should definitely go for something on the box! 

Mike Flood: Chair Milton Keynes Humanists.

 

“Mike Lawrence’s presentation ‘Just Suppose’ was illuminating and invaluable. Most of us had believed there to be a factual Jesus; although obviously not divine. The information in ‘Just Suppose’ has led us to consider the strong possibility of a completely mythical, as opposed to a factual, Jesus. Subsequently we are better equipped to question the rising tide of religious nonsense and propaganda”.

Alan Grandy: Secretary Sutton Humanists.

 

“A challenging presentation.” 

Chiltern Humanist October Newsletter: Report by Steve West.

 

“Thank you - again - for making a very interesting presentation to our meeting in October.  I believe all our members found it to be most interesting and stimulating.”  

John Dowdle: President Watford Area Humanists

 

“I write to thank you very much for the splendid evening you provided for GHG yesterday.  As 'an unsolicited testimonial' my daughter said how much she had learned, and I am sure we were all most impressed both by your research and presentation of the material.  I particularly liked your use of illustration. Many thanks from us all and I am sure you will give many more successful lectures with the chance to gain thoughtful adherents.”

Barbara Bowen:  Hon Sec Guildford Humanist Group

 

Your very accomplished presentation on the inconsistencies in the Biblical narrative and the similarities of that narrative to earlier religions was obviously well researched and impressive in scope.  Of course as a Humanist Group we did not require much convincing about your general thesis, but the detail was fascinating and provided useful evidence for our arguments. Like you we are very much opposed to this 'gospel truth' being taught in schools alongside genuine subjects such as history. Thank you for an enjoyable and enlightening evening.”

Dr Brian Nicol: Member Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists

 

“Thank you George for sending this. I couldn't agree more! Why on earth should we be obliged to mislead children when we are meant to educate them? This is the most interesting, well documented scientific approach to comparisons between fairy tale wishes and how to manipulate the mind fix of the masses which I have ever had the good fortune to attend. I hope we have an opportunity to share Mike Lawrence's well thought out, well researched  and well backed up decisions again soon.

best wishes,
Denise”.

Denise: Member Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists

 

“Thanks again for coming to give your presentation to us last Monday. I found it extremely thought-provoking, and the question and answer session afterwards was as lively as any we've had in the last two years or so. I got feedback also from two other members of the audience”: 

       "Mike Lawrence's presentation on theology and astronomy provides a carefully researched and highly entertaining investigation into the Biblical narrative of the New Testament. He links the "ancient wisdom" of astrology with that of the foretelling of Biblical events and in the process throws considerable doubt on the evidence for an historical Jesus. The presentation is both authoritative and thought provoking and thoroughly recommended to atheists and believers alike.", 

       "The introductory film was colourful to look at, although some shots of people moving might have added interest.  The commentary was relentlessly polemic and a more relaxed and varied tone would have been more engaging. However, it left me with new and valuable insights into how the prevailing myth of 'the Jesus character' had emerged and why it had prevailed.  This will be most useful for me when explaining why the only sensible stance is atheism. People like myself have good reason to be grateful to people like Mike for their scholarship and hard work in demolishing the so-called rational basis of Christian belief."

Charles Anderson: Secretary North Yorkshire Humanists + 2 members.

 

"The reaction to your presentation from our group was very positive. Everyone thought that it was a very well researched and convincing argument and we found it very stimulating. The only problem was one that I mentioned to you that the facts came tumbling out so fast that while considering one proposition, or idea, another was already out not giving enough time to consider things. As suggested it seems that you need about four hours! But this is a fairly minor consideration, and the main thing was that it was very well received, so thank you very much.”

Edward Gwinnell, Chair: South Somerset Humanists.

 

“Hello Mike
Thank you for giving us the presentation. As you can imagine, these responses have been varied. Most people I have spoken to thought it thought provoking, however one or two were a little upset by so direct a challenge: I think that was to be expected. Getting people to look at the Bible in a critical manner is always going to be a challenge.”

Ron Pearce, Chair: U3A Boxmoor World Religions Group.

 

“We discussed your talk at our committee meeting. People were really impressed by the amount of research and the presentation itself. It was really interesting to get a well documented different view from the one everyone hears so often; a very useful challenge to conventional thought. As you will have seen from the meeting it did generate a lot of discussion and I always take that as big measure of success. The only reservation was in the amount to absorb but that is always a problem when you are covering a big subject.”

Dave Jefferies, Chair: Sheffield Humanists.

 

"Hi Mike, many thanks for autographing my copy of "Astonishing Credulity" at the BHA meeting in Moseley yesterday, 16th April and a thoroughly enjoyable, informative evening. I agree with your conclusions but am wary of being victim to confirmation bias, so will read and digest more. Last night was one of the best sessions I've been party to for quite a while, thank you Mike. This year I've seen Andrew Copson debate Islamic bigot Hamza Tzortzis at Birmingham Uni as well as the awful Rowan Williams acting like a paper doll in the presence of Richard Dawkins' huge volume of knowledge and understanding. Neither of these events provided as much fuel for the mind and propagation of reason as your presentation and the conversations that followed… 

… I'm sorry this has been such a wordy (nearly 1000 words, a short story) email, but hope it's wholly positive in your eyes and offers a measure of how much I appreciate all of your excellent efforts. Many thanks."

Rich Wiltshire, Birmingham Humanists.

 

--Introduction-- 

 

The subject matter of this book evolved out of a personal interest in mythology and theology. However, I myself am secular, and have always been secular, coming from a non-religious family background. I have never considered the religious stories to be anything but stories. In point of fact, I see no real distinction between mythology and theology; save one is considered past defunct beliefs, and the other presently held beliefs. 

With this book I aim to create an argument that could be used to convince the powers that be in our country today that we, as a society, should not allow the theological world access to developing young minds through the school curriculum; particularly when such access is used to promote the acceptance of personally held theological beliefs. I formed the view that: if it could be demonstrated that the main figure head of Christianity is not a character from history, it would be sufficient to use as the opening for a wider debate on the role of religion within the school curriculum and its inclusion in political issues. From this standpoint I believe the book successfully confronts head on the claim from the Church that we cannot use an argument from silence to claim the character ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ did not exist in history. That is: the Church claim that just because there is no contemporary corroborative writing about the character, of which there is not, does not prove he did not exist. It is interesting though to consider that, if the character did not exist, there would, by default, be no contemporary corroborative writing about him.

The Church as an organisation therefore feels impregnable behind this “you cannot use an argument from silence” wall. I take the reverse approach. I claim, and demonstrate, that literature does exist which reveals Jesus, as in ‘Jesus Christ’, existed as an allegorical character long before the dates attributed to the Jesus character from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts in the New Testament; thereby proving these five books to be reworked fictional stories of an ancient allegorical myth, as opposed to factual biographies.

Having presented the case for a mythical, as opposed to a historic Jesus the book then demonstrates how theological belief evolved from ancient astrology. I present many parallels with naked eye astronomy and mythology. I also demonstrate how these links have found their way from ancient mythology, to form the base line stories in present day theology. The book then tackles the issue of how these newly created theologies came to be entrenched into the psyche of humankind.

 

So, that being the main content of the book, what is the rationale behind the book? I wish to promote the idea that “Religious Theology” is quite simply just “Iron Age Ignorance”. That is, it was an acceptable description of how the world works, given the knowledge available at the time that description was fashioned. But it was a theology formed in all ignorance of what we now know today. Just as we should also accept that our current scientific view of how the universe works is acceptable today, given the knowledge we have amassed to date. But this view will undoubtedly be seen as ignorant by the people of the fifth millennium, given what humankind will find out about the universe over the next two thousand years; things we, do not yet know. If we can accept this argument, then it follows that we simply should not be teaching “Iron Age Ignorance” to our children in our schools as stated fact. Moreover, we should promote the view that Christianity is: “a massive literal misinterpretation of ancient allegorical stories, on a global scale”.

 

                                 Contents:

                                         

                                 Chapter 1               Clement and Barnabas

                                 Chapter 2               Astro-Maths

                                 Chapter 3               Theologies R Us

                                 Chapter 4               Rampant Plagiarism

                                 Chapter 5               Absurdity of Scripture

                                 Chapter 6               Weak Evidence

                                 Chapter 7               Cruel Origins

                                 Chapter 8               The Right to a Free Mind

                                 Chapter 9               Concluding Thoughts