An Interview with Kenneth Humphreys
JF: First of all, let me thank you for taking the time for this. As you know, I've been following your site for a while & we have several links up. Could you give us a quick bio?
KH: Ah, I've had many careers! Primarily, I'm a UK academic with a long-term involvement in IT. That probably makes me particularly well suited to lecturing on line! In a career of around 30 years, about half was spent in the computer industry, and about half teaching English, history and social sciences. Some of that time was spent abroad, in Turkey and Papua New Guinea. Around a decade ago I decided to devote myself to Jesus studies.
JF: Your site JesusNeverExisted.com is one of the most iconoclastic I've seen--and is one of the reasons I like it so much. So, just when did you discover your zeal for demystifying Christ?
KH: Oh, about the age of 6! Seriously, from about the age of 10 I was the only kid in the class interested enough in "Religious Studies" to argue with the teacher.
JF: Do you have a "day job"?
KH: Jesus is my day job. I give my expertise in IT freely to my friends. I also organise the most amazing fancy dress parties. I mention that only because the most common response/ reaction from Christian visitors to my website is to suggest I must be the victim of some representative of the Church, a lonely, sad individual eaten up by anger towards God. Piffle. I have more friends than I can ever keep in contact with, a loving partner and daughter, and actually am happier and healthier than most people I know.
JF: Any artists, writers, etc. past or present who really inspired you?
KH: Let me think. Edward Gibbon is my exemplar of a historian, magisterial and poetic. Marx for his analytical skills. HG Wells and Gene Roddenbury were great visionaries. Carl Sagan, of course, and Richard Dawkins. The common thread is always to see the bigger picture – past and future – yet never lose the fine detail, with man himself in centre stage, not phantoms summoned up from his mind.
JF: All those guys are great. Let me venture to include Rod Serling on that list. He and Carl Sagan both really accomplished a lot in terms of opening up public awareness to the bigger picture. Roddenbury too, of course. Every time I see an ad for a hand held communication device I think of the Enterprise.
What type of Web feedback do you get?
KH: Web feedback takes various forms. Almost all supporters are articulate and informed themselves. From critics I get the usual drive-by abuse, invariably peppered with spelling and grammatical errors. Form your own conclusions from that! Many Christians pray for my imperiled soul, quite a few warn me of the awaiting fires of Hell. Most satisfying of all are the effusive letters from recovering ex-Christians, often long personal resumes of a troubled life within a church community, of family discord and abuses, people who have finally made the break into the real world. Those letters make it all worthwhile.
JF: I get the occasional friendly reminder that I'm stacking up hot coals in hell in preparation for my eventual consignment there… I think I may have mentioned this in one of our personal exchanges: In my own research I have reached the conclusion that the "historic" Passover & Exodus never happened—and Hebrews were not involved in the major building projects of Ramesis II. What do you think about that?
KH: I would say that's pretty much mainstream academic opinion now– but often lost on the Discovery / History channel and, of course, within evangelical and conservative circles. The lack of any evidence for "Jews in Ancient Egypt" speaks volumes. The purported history of the early Israelites was invented wholesale at a much later date. Yet it is kept current in the popular mind by "interested parties" for geo-political reasons.
We could discuss at great length!
JF: On your site there are a number of references to the Skeptics Society. Have you seen THE GOD WHO WASN"T THERE? If so, what did you think?
KH: Yes, I took a look at it when it first appeared. Brian Flemming originally was working on a feature movie "The Beast 666" intended to release on 6th June 2006. It sounds like an Omen film, I know, but the original PR made clear that the title was a deliberate gibe at conservative Christians. It was, I believe, a fictional treatment along the lines of The Da Vinci code. The plans changed and The God Who Wasn't There was released. It's a great contribution to the Jesus debate but there's something better coming out next spring – and I'm one of the contributors!
JF: Wow. Keep me up to speed on that. I reviewed THE GOD WHO WASN'T THERE. Maybe I'll get a crack at the new project.
Do you think all religion is non-truth?
KH: All religions are equally false; but they are not all equally dangerous.
JF: Would you share a little about your book JESUS NEVER EXISTED?
KH: The first volume of JESUS NEVER EXISTED was published five years ago and has gone through several printings. It has been exported to around thirty-seven countries. The book, like the website, addresses two scandals that demand exposure: the despicable history of the Church and the outrageous fraud on which it is based. Even if there had been a charismatic founder, the history would still be despicable – but its fraudulent beginnings are a clue as to why the history has been so black. The rival fables, the invention of saints, the sanctification of old bones, show that venality and ambition were present from the first. There is a dogmatic insistence on the historicity of Jesus found everywhere, because it is an imperative of vast and powerful vested interests, a matrix of global mega-businesses that will never willingly give up their raison d’etre.
JF: You've been really patient—I just have one more subject to get at. How do you view the official Church of England today? Is it pretty much just watered down, with little effect on society? What about in terms of censorship?
KH: An image that comes immediately to mind is a few old ladies having tea with the vicar! The main problem secularists have with the C of E is it's privileged position, which is an historical residue and not a fair representation of its true following. Census figures distort the level of real support because many people identify themselves as C of E on a cultural level. Church attendance reveals a more accurate picture – an abysmal level of support. And yet the taxpayer subsidises the C of E in many ways – padres in the Armed Forces, hospital chaplains, membership of Quangos, grants to "faith" schools – not to mention the more obvious representation in Parliament and intrusion into State occasions. Anglican dogmas seem to be a complete pick'n'mix – a desperate policy to hold on to membership. Sadly, migrants into the UK have injected "faith" back into areas that were largely free of religion.
JF: That's it! Suzanne and I both want to thank you again for livening up our little periodical.
KH: It's been fun.
See also, Review: Sex, Drugs, Violence & The Bible