View Full Version : Sources

03-29-2012, 08:51 AM
So last night, me and a few friends had a conversation at a bar with this girl we sort of knew, and she went on a rant about religion. It was very annoying, because she had surprisingly intellectual sounding talking points for a myriad of topics, but you could tell she wasn't really much of a critical thinker. She was stupid enough to be annoying, but intelligent sounding enough that you couldn't write her off and ignore her. And she had the loudest, shrillest voice ever.

Well anyway, she claimed that she believed Jesus of Nazareth didn't exist and went on to say that there were only a couple written records from that time period that claim he existed, and even these sources weren't trustworthy.

I quickly wiki'd Jesus:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus#Historical_views

Apparently, no significant number of historians or other experts doubt his existence. She claimed this was a logical fallacy (appeal to authority), and later went on to say that only "primary sources" could be trusted.

My opinion is that, aside from a few specific areas of interest you may have, there's no point in doing independent research seeking out primary sources for every issue. The more time efficient thing to do is to read a text written by an expert, determine the credibility of that expert, and then, see what the general consensus is among other experts. Would anyone care to disagree with this?

03-29-2012, 08:58 AM
Her point doesn't make sense because there can't be a primary source proving the nonexistence of Jesus. You can only prove his existence. Primary sources are documentations of evidence. You can find a detailed look at the historical time period written by some scholar who doesn't believe there's enough evidence to prove he existed, but that doesn't make it a primary source.

I usually go to Wikipedia first, because they do a good job of listing their own sources on the bottom of their articles. Some of these are primary sources, some aren't. But I even used the same approach when I was in college and was required to use primary sources. I got to the primary sources via Wikipedia.

I do think that it's useful to look up primary sources if you really want to have a full knowledge of a particular subject.