Every couple weeks or so I like to scope out the Amazon Best Seller List just to see what is zipping through the consciousness of the literate American mind (Also, the NYTimes best seller list is mostly conjecture and easily gamed). The best selling book on amazon right now is “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” by Reza Aslan which argues that Jesus is probably not who people think he is on a lot of different levels. There is no question that the book has risen to the best sellers list because of a viral and extremely painful interview with the author by a bumpkinish talking head on fox news. It’s worth gritting your teeth through:
The video comes down to a facile attempt to establish the most sacred of all logical fallacies -> bias (aka the ad hominem attack). I find it discursively painful to watch this provincial Fox reporter strenuously avoid the facts while struggling to establish that everything a person could say is wrong because of their background. Aslan, to his credit, patiently re-explains his position over and over and over again to a baffled fox news interviewer. Pointing fingers about bias is an intellectually useless task (because everyone is biased about everything to some extent) but it seems to placate people who want to ignore something which would grind uncomfortably against their worldview. Anyway, now the book is a best seller and people who haven’t read the book are writing fake reviews that parrot the interview. Humans are so fascinating!
The thing that seems to invigorate the most rage is the book’s assertion that the historical record is at odds with a literal interpretation of the bible as a history rather than parable. TL;DR – a bunch of dumb people are pissed some guy (who happens to be muslim) says the bible is not literally true.
This is a much more interesting debate between Sam Harris and Reza Aslan that pretty much revolves around the history of violence in religion and Islam.