Is Christianity Based on a Myth?

Last week I posted “Jedism: Latest Up and Coming Religion?” It was somewhat of a funny tongue-in-cheek post. I would like to address an anonymous comment that was left which stated:

LOL, the Jedi religion has existed the same way all the other religions have existed. Made up of bits and pieces of other religions. Just like christianity was cobbled together from other older religions.

This commenter made a claim against Christianity that is gaining popularity. Mainly that Jesus Christ the man never actually existed, but that he is simply a copycat of several other god predecessors. This notion has really only gained popularity recently in large part due to the Internet film Zeitgeist. I asked the commenter how they reached the conclusion that Christianity was “cobbled together” but have received no response yet. If the reader reached his conclusion based on the same method as that used in Zeitgeist (as I suspect is the case), then there are many problems with making this statement as though it is fact.
There are several claims in Zeitgeist that are completely and utterly wrong. The composer of the film states that several other gods are born on December 25th just as Jesus is born on that date. Problem: Jesus was not born on December 25th. This is a fact that has been known for hundreds of years. The Bible indicates that Jesus was born in the spring. This is a point brought out recently in the book Shocked by the Bible—specifically chapter 1.

There are a number of claims that follow this suite. The claim is essentially that Jesus is just a conglomeration of aspects of other gods. Things such as having twelve disciples, being resurrected, being born of a virgin, etc. are all cited as having predecessors in early “myth gods.” The argument is, therefore, that Jesus is just another in the long line of myth-based gods.

Rather than go point-by-point through the problems in this movie (and there are many), I would like to give you links to some other excellent websites that have already addressed the problems in this film.

Christian Websites:
STR.org
STR.org
STR.org
Always Be Ready
Apologetics 315
Centre for Public Christianity (VIDEO)

Atheist Websites:
Debunking Christianity
The Atheist Experience
The Lippard Blog

Neutral Websites:
Conspiracy Science
What'd you think? 


22 Response to "Is Christianity Based on a Myth?"

  • Anonymous Says:

    When Osiris is said to bring his believers eternal life in Egyptian Heaven, contemplating the unutterable, indescribable glory of God, we understand that as a myth.

    When the sacred rites of Demeter at Eleusis are described as bringing believers happiness in their eternal life, we understand that as a myth.

    In fact, when ancient writers tell us that in general ancient people believed in eternal life, with the good going to the Elysian Fields and the not so good going to Hades, we understand that as a myth.

    When Vespatian's spittle healed a blind man, we understand that as a myth.

    When Apollonius of Tyana raised a girl from death, we understand that as a myth.

    When the Pythia , the priestess at the Oracle at Delphi, in Greece, prophesied, and over and over again for a thousand years, the prophecies came true, we understand that as a myth.

    When Dionysus turned water into wine, we understand that as a myth. When Dionysus believers are filled with atay, the Spirit of God, we understand that as a myth.

    When Romulus is described as the Son of God, born of a virgin, we understand that as a myth.

    When Alexander the Great is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, we understand that as a myth.

    When Augustus is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal , we understand that as a myth. woman

    When Dionysus is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, we understand that as a myth.

    When Scipio Africanus is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, we understand that as a myth.

    So how come when Jesus is described as
    the Son of God,
    born of a mortal woman,
    according to prophecy,
    turning water into wine,
    raising girls from the dead, and
    healing blind men with his spittle,
    and setting it up so His believers got eternal life in Heaven contemplating the unutterable, indescribable glory of God, and off to Hades—er, I mean Hell—for the bad folks...
    how come that's not a myth?

    Bino Bolumai

    / In Bino Veritas /


  • Anonymous Says:

    "This commenter made a claim against Christianity that is gaining popularity. Mainly that Jesus Christ the man never actually existed,"

    Really, I had no idea that I actually meant that!

    I hope knocking down the straw man you built after stuffing words into my mouth made you feel better.


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    I do not have time at the moment to respond to your comment but I will read it in-depth and post a reply this evening or tomorrow. Just wanted to make it clear that I am not ignoring your question.


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    First, thank you for stopping back by and commenting. All to often I receive negative comments, reply to them, and never hear back from the person. I hate drive-byes ;)

    I did not put words into your mouth. If you read my entire post, I stated that I had asked how you came to believe that Christianity was cobbled together. I then said I was assuming the jump to the conclusion I made because you had not responded to my comment. After all, it is the logical conclusion. If Christianity is was cobbled together then it can only be assumed that there is nothing original to it and if nothing is original then it means Jesus was likewise cobbled together from previous gods and religions. The only conclusion based upon this is that Jesus never existed.

    I simply proceeded on that as a topic that has become of some importance to Christians and non-Christians alike--that is the claims made in Zeitgeist.

    If you feel I misrepresented your views, please take the time to explain what you meant by the statement that "Christianity was cobbled together."

    BTW, stating that I created a straw man from your views is also incorrect because I addressed the claims made in the film Zeitgeist. I simply used your comment as a springboard.


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    @Bino Bolumai

    You cited a lot of god's and aspects of them that match attributes about Jesus' life. I am familiar with all of the gods you listed but not so familiar so as to know right away if your citations are correct. As I was debating whether or not to go and look at all your references, I realized that you failed to explain an important point. Why do we understand those things as myth?

    Likewise, the understanding of the phrase "son of God" is far different in the Bible than is meant in all the instances you reference. Furthermore, Jesus is not simply born of a mortal woman, he was born of a virgin. Not that those two points counter you argument, just making sure we are clear about the particulars.


  • Anonymous Says:

    Why do we understand those things as myth?

    Pardon me for assuming. I do. Let me ask if you do:

    A girl had died just in the hour of her marriage, and the bridegroom was following her bier lamenting as was natural his marriage left unfulfilled, and the whole of Rome was mourning with him, for the maiden belonged to a consular family. Apollonius then witnessing their grief, said : "Put down the bier, for I will stay the tears that you are shedding for this maiden." And withal he asked what was her name. The crowd accordingly thought that he was about to deliver such an oration as is commonly delivered as much to grace the funeral as to stir up lamentation ; but he did nothing of the kind, but merely touching her and whispering in secret some spell over her, at once woke up the maiden from her seeming death ; and the girl spoke out loud, and returned to her father's house, just as Alcestis did when she was brought back to life by Hercules.
    Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, 4.45

    I don't believe A of T really raised this girl from the dead. Do you? Or shall we agree this is myth?

    -------------------
    "Asclepius was the son of Apollo [a god] and Coronis [a mortal woman—is the pattern sinking in here?]...he healed many sick whose lives had been despaired of, and... he brought back to life many who had died."
    Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, 4.7.

    I don't believe Asclepius really raised people from the dead. Do you? Or shall we agree this is myth?
    -----------------------------
    At Alexandria a commoner, whose eyes were well known to have wasted away ...fell at Vespasian's feet demanding with sobs a cure for his blindness, and imploring that the Emperor would deign to moisten his eyes and eyeballs with the spittle from his mouth.
    ... Vespasian .... did as the men desired him. Immediately the hand recovered its functions and daylight shone once more in the blind man's eyes. Those who were present still attest both miracles today, when there is nothing to gain by lying.

    Tacitus, The Histories, 4.

    I don't believe Vespatian really cured blindness. Do you? Or shall we agree this is myth?
    -----------------------------


    Likewise, the understanding of the phrase "son of God" is far different in the Bible than is meant in all the instances you reference.

    Can you please give me an example of what you have in mind. For example, what did "son of God" mean to the believers in Glycon? -- please cite the texts you rely on for this information; I'd like to read them myself.

    -----------------

    Furthermore, Jesus is not simply born of a mortal woman, he was born of a virgin. Not that those two points counter you argument, just making sure we are clear about the particulars.

    Ok. So Alexander's god-father, mortal mother birth is a myth or not?
    Ok. So Augustus' god-father, mortal mother birth is a myth or not?
    Ok. So Romulus god-father, mortal mother birth is a myth or not?
    Ok. So Scipio's god-father, mortal mother birth is a myth or not?
    And Jesus god-father, mortal mother birth is a myth or not?

    And why?

    Bino Bolumai

    / In Bino Veritas /


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    @Bino Bolumai

    ""Likewise, the understanding of the phrase "son of God" is far different in the Bible than is meant in all the instances you reference.

    Can you please give me an example of what you have in mind. For example, what did "son of God" mean to the believers in Glycon? -- please cite the texts you rely on for this information; I'd like to read them myself.""

    If memory serves me, the traditional understanding in Greek and Roman mythology of “Son of God” was that an immortal god would procreate with a mortal and then bear some sort of half-breed. The phrase son of god was often then used to describe this offspring (such as Hercules, Romulus, etc.). The other way the phrase was used was in a self-appointed fashion of a completely mortal man who fancied himself to be a god (i.e. Alexander, Augustus, Domitian, Octavian, Nero, etc.).

    This, however, is far different from the Christian understanding of what is meant when calling Jesus the Son of God. Our understanding is that Jesus is not a half-breed offspring of Almighty God and a mortal woman. Orthodox belief is that Jesus is God incarnate, the God-man.


  • Anonymous Says:

    Our understanding is that Jesus is not a half-breed offspring of Almighty God and a mortal woman.

    How so? Father = God, mother = mortal woman -- just like everyone else.

    Bino


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    Bino,

    Most Christians believe that Mary remained a virgin even though she was pregnant. In fact, the Catholic church believes that Mary remained a virgin the rest of her life. This is the teaching known as the "perpetual virginity of Mary."

    I think in order to answer your question regarding Jesus being God incarnate and not simply the Father, I am going to write a separate post explaining the doctrine of the Trinity.


  • Anonymous Says:

    "All to often I receive negative comments, reply to them, and never hear back from the person. I hate drive-byes ;)"

    This must somehow be different from the drive-byes you perform on other sites.

    Typical.


  • Anonymous Says:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/fiction.html

    "These features are found world wide in heroic myths and epics. The more closely a supposed biography, say that of Hercules, Apollonius of Tyana, Padma Sambhava, of Gautama Buddha, corresponds to this plot formula, the more likely the historian is to conclude that a historical figure has been transfigured by myth.

    And in the case of Jesus Christ, where virtually every detail of the story fits the mythic hero archetype, with nothing left over, no "secular," biographical data, so to speak, it becomes arbitrary to assert that there must have been a historical figure lying back of the myth. There may have been, but it can no longer be considered particularly probable, and that's all the historian can deal with: probabilities."


  • Anonymous Says:

    "I realized that you failed to explain an important point. Why do we understand those things as myth?"

    So you agree that all the examples Bino provided are myths?


  • Anonymous Says:

    "Most Christians believe that Mary remained a virgin even though she was pregnant. In fact, the Catholic church believes that Mary remained a virgin the rest of her life. This is the teaching known as the "perpetual virginity of Mary.""

    It's also bunk.

    http://unreasonablefaith.com/2008/06/20/why-i-deny-the-virgin-birth-of-jesus/

    "Paul, the earliest New Testament author, never mentions the virgin birth. For someone who we rely upon for much of Christian theology, it is an odd omission. Paul refers to Jesus’ birth twice (Rom 1:3; Gal 4:4) and never says he was born of a virgin or of different means than anyone else. You’d think that would be important.

    The virgin birth is also not in Mark, the earliest gospel, or in John, the only other gospel not based on Mark. Why is such an important story left out of all the early sources? Probably because it hadn’t been made up yet.

    Why would the story be made up? Perhaps to fulfill an old prophecy of a virgin birth, which the Gospel of Matthew cites:

    Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

    Some scholars say “virgin” was a mistranslation in the Septuagint (the Greek translation the gospel writers used), and should have been translated “young woman.” That means the story might have been based on a mistranslation!

    It seems likely the virgin birth was created to boost the authority of Christianity through prophecy and compete with rival gods who were born of virgins."


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    I would first like for you Anonymous posters to please leave some initials or something so that everyone reading these comments can keep things straight (including me). It becomes difficult to respond individually when there is possibly three different Anons posting.

    "All to often I receive negative comments, reply to them, and never hear back from the person. I hate drive-byes ;)"
    This must somehow be different from the drive-byes you perform on other sites.
    Typical."


    I have never left a "drive-by" comment on other sites. The only comment that could be construed as such was recently commenting on a straw-man video posted on an atheist blog. Only one response was given to my comment that didn't require me to respond back, IMO.

    I told you that I appreciated your coming back to my blog and interacting rather than taking a pot-shot and disappearing. Now, Mr. Anonymous, if you would like to have a civil discussion I am more than happy. But it appears to me that you have a personal distaste for anyone who could possibly believe that Jesus Christ is God. I am assuming that you are an atheist (and if I am wrong I apologize). I think the atheist position is incorrect, but I don’t have a personal distaste for atheists. I only ask the same in return. Discuss the points without being belligerent—it’s that simple.


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    And in the case of Jesus Christ, where virtually every detail of the story fits the mythic hero archetype, with nothing left over, no "secular," biographical data, so to speak, it becomes arbitrary to assert that there must have been a historical figure lying back of the myth.

    I am curious what you see as the “mythic hero archetype?” What are the characteristics of this persona? Also, what do you consider as secular biographical data? Obviously by that term you would exclude the Bible as a source, but do you also exclude Josephus, etc.? Also, what makes you believe that all the historian can deal with are probabilities? Do you mean this only in regard to Jesus, or to history in general?


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    "Most Christians believe that Mary remained a virgin even though she was pregnant. In fact, the Catholic church believes that Mary remained a virgin the rest of her life. This is the teaching known as the "perpetual virginity of Mary.""
    It's also bunk.


    I didn’t say I agreed with the perpetual virginity of Mary, I was answering Bino’s question as to how Jesus could be born of a woman and be different than the other “son of God” figures before him.


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    It seems likely the virgin birth was created to boost the authority of Christianity through prophecy and compete with rival gods who were born of virgins."

    Please cite the gods Christians were competing with?


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    "I realized that you failed to explain an important point. Why do we understand those things as myth?"
    So you agree that all the examples Bino provided are myths?


    Yes, I would agree that all the example Bino cited are myths, except for Jesus. The difference for me comes in the fact that I believe Jesus was a historical figure that performed miraculous deeds.

    Now, we can debate the historicity of Jesus or we can debate the miracles but I simply do not think that Jesus is a mythical figure cobbled together from other various aspects of gods.

    Don't you think that people of the first century would have realized what the Christians were up to and recorded that somewhere? Not to mention the level of conspiracy it would take to pass off a made-up God such as Jesus as actually having lived and performed the things he did. The disciples must have been truly deluded to die for the lie they created. Christianity was not appealing to people of the first century so don't you think that it would have died out as some loony-occult religion like the Charles Manson kool-aid drinking cults have done recently probably to be forgotten completely in the next twenty to twenty-five years.


  • Anonymous Says:

    "Yes, I would agree that all the example Bino cited are myths, except for Jesus. "

    Hilarious, all the examples were Myths except YOUR Myths.

    "Not to mention the level of conspiracy it would take to pass off a made-up God such as Jesus as actually having lived and performed the things he did."

    Your turn to provide evidence.


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    The reason I believe Jesus is different from the other myths is because I believe he was an historical figure; whereas figures such as Dionsys, Apollo, Osiris, etc. were not "real" people. Arguing with me that Jesus was not real is wasting your breath on me. There is no serious scholarship that doubts Jesus' existence as an actual person who lived. What serious scholarship doubts is the supernatural elements attributed to the person Jesus.

    Furthermore, I don't think every element that Bino cited is necessarily mythical. For example, just because other gods are attributed with promising eternal life isn't necessarily mythical to me. The difference is in the nuances. The understanding of what the Elysian Fields are is not the same as heaven is described in the Bible.

    It's the sum of the parts that causes me to view those figures as mythical; not necessarily the parts.

    I have other reasons that I believe the Bible is a reliable source of truth about Jesus. Reasons I can only assume that you reject. Therefore, I believe that we are at an impasse in our discussion--as far as coming to an agreement on this topic.


  • Anonymous Says:

    The reason I believe Jesus is different from the other myths is because I believe he was an historical figure; whereas figures such as Dionsys, Apollo, Osiris, etc. were not "real" people.

    1. Who told you Osiris was not a real person?

    2. Does your skepticism of this sort extend to non-historical Bible figures – Adam and Eve, Moses, Solomon and David?

    3. Glycon was unequivocally historical – Lucian went to His oracle and spoke to Alexander his Prophet, and describes Glycon's physical appearance in detail. Glycon was the son of the God Apollo, who ...

    ... came to Earth through a miraculous birth,
    ... was the Earthly manifestation of divinity,
    ... came to earth in fulfillment of divine prophecy,
    ... gave his chief believer the power of prophecy,
    ... gave believers the power to speak in tongues,
    ... performed miracles,
    ... healed the sick,
    ... raised the dead.

    Are the historical Glycon's stories myths? If so, why are Jesus' not?


    Bino Bolumai

    / In Bino Veritas /


  • Mr. Hyde Says:

    Bino,

    I took a cursory look at some of those references you made in your previous comments. Several things are a problem for me. Philostratus, The Life of Appolonius of Tyana was not written until the second century AD and therefore is not pertinent because it could have borrowed from the Christian tradition that was already established by that time. Likewise, Tacitus’ The Histories is written after the time of the events of Christ’s life—somewhere between 69-96AD and could have introduced those elements as well. The Glycon myth you cite is not around until the second century AD and Lucian was not citing him as an historical figure but as a fraud created by Alexander. Therefore, none of these references are helpful in building the case that Jesus was a myth cobbled together from other religions and gods.

    Now, I understand that your argument isn’t necessarily that Christ was cobbled together. Correct me if I have misunderstood your argument, but essentially you are stating that the same type of things occurred in Christ’s life as the lives of these other deities and, therefore, they should be understood as myths also?