And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (1 Cor. 15:14).

Famed apologist Lee Strobel said it best on his televised series, Faith Under Fire: “For Christianity, everything hinges on the resurrection.” It’s the one non-negotiable in all of Christendom. Even Catholics, who shrug off the fanciful tales of the Old Testament as mere “parables,” cannot dispense of the resurrection of Christ. Christians just gotta have it. And there’s no comforting them with liberal interpretations of the resurrection as having deeper, allegorical meaning, a la John Shelby Spong or John Dominic Crossan. That would be like trying to placate the Cookie Monster with bullshit sugarless cookies.

xxx

Sugarless cookies? There IS no God!

Given the obvious importance of the resurrection, Christian apologists (for whom I have such “high regard”) defend its historicity to the hilt. By hook or by crook, they just have to give it an air of legitimacy. Do they come up short? Oh, heavens no. At least not in a world where midgets win slam dunk contests.

xxx

Along with PBA trophies.

Following are my 6 favorite arguments for the resurrection of Jesus. And why they suck balls.

1. Who Would Die For a Lie, Man?
This one just seems all manner of dumb on its face. Why would early Christians have died for what they knew wasn’t true? I wonder, then, if they would lend credence to Islam and Mormonism, since their early followers, too, faced ridicule and persecution. Would they view the martyrdom of Muslims such as Sumayyah bint Khabbab as a validation of the Koran? What about the 9/11 hijackers?

xxx

Just “dying” to drill some new holes.

Oh, but Christian apologists are all too aware of this little flaw. So they up the ante. Christ’s early apostles, you see, were close enough to the “historical events” to know whether or not they were truly dying for a lie. Ipso facto, they must have known it was true!

Getting a great stretch before xxx

Getting a great stretch before the maim.

But there’s one itty-bitty problem with appealing to the martyrdom of Christ’s apostles. Okay, it’s a major problem. We have no earthly clue what actually happened to any of the so-called early apostles. The traditions passed down to us stem from 2nd and 3rd century apocryphal works like the dubious Acts of Paulin which St. Paul baptizes a talking lion. YES. A talking fucking lion. And if that doesn’t activate your funny bone and/or get your nipples hard, how about the part of the story where, upon being beheaded, Paul spurts milk from his severed head?

Got Milk?

And Peter being crucified upside-down? Yeah. Comes from the Acts of Peter, in which the apostle in question resurrects a kettle of smoked fish and teaches a fucking dog to talk. At this point you’re surely asking, “What is the deal with all the talking animals?” Welp. It was already part of Biblical tradition. Obviously, there’s the talking snake in Genesis. And, then, there’s a talking donkey in Numbers 22:28. Can you even begin to imagine how chit-chatty things must have been on the Ark?

And then I says, “To whom do I owe this weather?” GET IT? Cuz… oh, fuck off, bird.

So, that’ll just about do it for the “Who would die for a lie?” gambit. If this argument were a car, it’d have the trade-in value of a 1984 Ford Tempo with no seats and a flux capacitor that only takes you to the Dark Ages.

It's your kids, Marty! Their body parts are being used as slingshots!

It’s your kids, Marty! Their toes have been removed to serve as King Henry’s anal beads!

2. Not Enough Time Had Elapsed For Legendary Embellishment to Accrue, Man!
Riiiight. We’re talking about documents that were written decades after the supposed events. Not enough time for legendary embellishment? That’s funny. The 17th century messiah figure Sabbatai Zevi ignited all manner of fantastic tales within mere weeks of his public appearances. Supposedly, he “commanded fire to appear and walked through [it] unaffected … raised the dead and killed highwaymen with his words.

Abracadabra Alaka Fuckyourhorse!

Abracadabra Alaka Fuckyourhorse!

Similarly, miracle tales were told about Jehudah the Hasid, Simon Kimbangu, and William Marrion Branham within their own lifetimes. Alexander the Great spawned such stories within only a couple decades after his death. Faced with these facts, the poor apologist must finally resort to this: “Oh, yeah?!! Well, the difference is that the stories about Jesus stuck around!” And there you have it. If the story endures, then it must be true. And you know what that means. Area 51 is just bustling with killer spacecraft.

xxx

You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a Marxist! And a Muslim. From Alderaan. Or something weird.

3. If Jesus Hadn’t Been Raised, The Movement Should Have Died With Him, Man!
The crucifixion of Jesus, it is said, should have halted the movement in its tracks if not for the resurrection. Yet consider the growth, despite early setbacks, of Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. The latter two completely botched Armageddon, predicting that it would arrive on such-and-such date, only to have it blow up in their faces when Jesus stood them up. Via cognitive dissonance reduction, they simply rationalized some two-bit piece of theological monkey-shit and carried right the fuck on. Regarding Mormonism, the death of Joseph Smith only made him a martyr for the faith. Lo and behold, the thriving Church of Latter Day Saints.

Now eating my words for scoffing at spacecraft.

Now eating my words for scoffing at spacecraft.

The execution of Jesus (granting its historicity) would have been just the kind of setback that often, counterintuitively, ignites such movements. Though such passages as Isaiah 53 were certainly no prophecy of Christ, they would’ve been awfully handy in retrospect, providing a powerful rationalization for the otherwise unexpected death of the messiah. The mystery cult accoutrements that later became attached to the movement in Hellenistic circles would have further reinforced its popularity among Gentiles. When it comes to religion, there simply is no greater formula for success than getting your face blown off for a cause.

Remington 37 "Prophet-Maker"

Remington 37 “Prophet Maker”

4. But Look at the Turnaround in the Lives of the Disciples, Man!
This is basically a variant of #1. We’re told that the post-crucifixion dejectedness of the disciples, followed by their enthusiastic missionary work, is proof of the resurrection. In reality, the “dismay” of the disciples as presented in the gospels is a literary device, intended to heighten the narrative tension prior to the climactic and victorious ending. You see it in movies all the time.

Oh, no! Bane broke my back! I'm finished. Lolz.

Bane broke my face, and my Visa One is maxed! I’m finished! Lolz.

Truth is, we don’t actually know what the experiences of the first disciples were. All we have are anonymously written gospels from decades after the supposed events, and letters from Paul who was no eyewitness to anything. Unless you count his “vision” on the road to Damascus, which, if we accept that, we might as well credit every other supposed “vision” ever claimed: UFO’s, Lochness, Bigfoot, and Oral Roberts’ vision of a King Kong-sized Jesus outside of his hospital room.

You guys almost done in there? I’ve gotta drop a super deuce.

Besides, as the Bible tells it, it wasn’t the resurrection that spurred the disciples into action. It was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost some seven weeks later (Acts 2). Read the Bible much, apologists?

xxx

I can beat my slave to the brink of death with no repercussions? Sweet shit!

5. But They Relied On Women’s Testimony, Man!
We are told that, in the ancient world, women’s testimony counted for shit. Thus, the story about the women at the tomb must be true, since no gospel writer in their right mind would think to invent something so preposterous. Really, now? As Matthew Ferguson aptly notes, “We are not talking about a Palestinian legal document, but a Hellenistic prose novel influenced by previous Hellenistic literary motifs.

THIS shit’s legally binding, though! Now who’s up for Papa John’s? And some gay-hating!   

Women were commonly associated with burial and lamentation rites in antiquity, especially where it concerned dying and rising godmen. Such was the case with Anat and Baal, Isis and Osiris, Cybele and Attis, etc. In fact, Ezekiel 8:14 records a group of women bewailing the slain god Tammuz at the Temple entrance, though Tammuz would return from the dead six months later. The Gospels simply feature more of the same.

Get up, bitch, I was faking.

Get up, bitch, I was faking.

6. But the Tomb Was Found Empty, Man!
Well, gaw-lee. What could explain that apart from a resurrection? Not that we are by any means obligated to explain its historicity. Despite an apparent “consensus” among biblical scholars (who certainly aren’t biased or anything), there is no good reason to think that the empty tomb is a historical fact. The earliest Christian “testimony,” Paul’s letters, never makes mention of it. It is introduced in the Gospel of Mark, and the Gospels that follow are verifiably dependent upon his story.

xxx

Plagiarism is rife among human-giraffe hybrids.

So, where was Mark getting this stuff? Likely from two separate literary sources which were creatively woven together. The first being Isaiah 53:9: “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death.” From which we get Jesus’ burial in a rich man’s tomb. As was discussed in a previous blog, early Christians loved to prooftext the Old Testament for passages that would lend prophetic credence to their new story. These weren’t actually fulfilled prophecies; rather, they were scriptural snippets that had been ripped out of context, entirely. Isaiah 53 and its waxing theological about the quintessential Israelite captive to Babylon (i.e., Suffering Servant) was the prophetic crockery par excellence for early Christian authors.

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Even this cut-and-paste job is more convincing.

The other source would’ve been the rich tradition of apotheosis narratives that thickly foliated the Hellenistic world. When the bodies of e.g. Hercules, Romulus, and Aeneas went missing, the stories assumed that they had been raptured up to heaven to be among the gods. Thus, missing body = miraculous occurrence or exaltation. Once again, the Gospels simply mirror the religious and literary trends of the environment in which they were produced. Basically, they were about as original as Fast and the Furious 19 oughta be.

xxx

Fast & Furious 19: The Vin Diesel Code

Alas, there are no good arguments, nor is there any evidence, for the resurrection of our Lord & Savior. But that’s not going to keep me from believing. No, sir. Because, you see, I have faith. Which, with my imagination, is just gads of fun. If you don’t need evidence to believe something, then you can believe anything for which there is no evidence!

He's totally real. And totally horny.

He’s totally real. And totally horny.

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jesus collage
For the longest time, I’ve held to what is known as the Minimal Jesus Hypothesis (TM)–the notion that there was indeed a historical Jesus, but he was deified and mythologized along the lines of contemporary myths and legends. One need look no further than here and here and here to see how well Jesus fits the bill. Like Perseus, Jesus was born to a High God and a mortal woman. Like Asclepius, he healed the sick and raised the dead. Like Osiris, he conquered death and extended immortality to his devotees.

Despite the similarities with mythical, pagan figures, I wasn’t ready to jump on board with mythicism (the theory that Jesus was purely mythical) just yet. Because it could be that Jesus was in the same category as Caesar Augustus and Alexander the Great, both of whom were undoubtedly historical, but nonetheless garnered mythic archetypes. So, the question becomes one of probability. Is it more probable that Jesus was pure myth (like Perseus, Asclepius, and Osiris), or that he was a deified man (like Augustus and Alexander)? Or, OR, could it be that Jesus was simply the Real McCoy? That he really did work miracles and rise from the dead?
fuck-no
First, we must consider what the earliest Christian writings have to say about Jesus. The Gospels and Acts are all dated to a period around 70-110 CE (and could be even later). The earliest written documents in the New Testament are actually Paul’s Epistles (c. 50-60 CE), among various other pseudo-Pauline letters (only seven of them are considered authentic). These documents present a very different picture of nascent Christianity than that which is found in the later works. In them, Jesus is basically a Gnostic Revealer and Dying & Rising Godman (like Osiris and so many others). With the exception of a few verses, all of which are easily explainable, Jesus appears to be a celestial rather than historical figure.

You jelly, bro?

No offense, Lord, but your ass is out of this WORLD.

Paul never mentions “Mary, Joseph, a birth in Bethlehem, King Herod, the miracles, ministry, [a] trial by Jews, or trial by Pontius Pilate.” The apostle, of course, never met the “historical Jesus,” and mostly speaks in terms of what a celestial Jesus has revealed to him, e.g., “The gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12). To Paul, Jesus is essentially a Gnostic Aeon, an ethereal revealer of hidden and divine truths, as well as a dying and rising mystery-cult deity, a figure through whom one can be baptized into death and raised anew in the spirit (Rom. 6:3-5, Col. 2:12), just like Osiris, Dionysus, and so many others. Osiris, too, could be consumed in the form of bread.

Damn right. Fucking eat me.

Damn right. Fucking eat me.

Now, as Paul’s letters were primarily theological treatises, it maybe sorta kinda could be that he had little use for invoking biographical details about the life and times of Jesus. In the same way that it maybe sorta kinda could be that Jodi Arias remembers squat about carving up her ex-boyfriend.

It wasn't me! It was the one-armed man!

It wasn’t me! It was the one-armed man!

But this is doubtful, given that Paul’s letters report next to nothing of mundane, biographical detail, and he never even invokes the supposed words of Jesus in order to settle controversial matters in the early church. What little we do hear from Paul, such as Jesus being descended from David (Rom. 1:3), or born of a woman (Gal. 4:4), is demonstrably cribbed from Old Testament texts, not derived from historical data. Kinda like the genetic engineers of Jurassic Park who plugged the missing gaps with frog DNA to make dinosaurs.

Shit or get off the pot, dude.

The later Gospels aren’t historically reliable, as they are fictitious through and through. For instance, how do we know what Jesus prayed while away from his disciples on the Mount of Olives, with no one nearby to hear him (Luke 22:39-46)? Because Luke fucking made it up.

Then Jesus demanded, "Say what again, motherfucker?"

Then Jesus demanded, “Say what again, motherfucker.”

Reading the New Testament chronologically, going from the Epistles to the Gospels, Jesus looks less like a historical figure who was mythologized, and more like a mythical figure who was historicized. Such was the ancient practice of Euhemerization–placing a mythical figure in a historical setting. As a result, even the ancient historian Josephus considered Hercules historical!

Raise the roof! I'm a real boy!

Raise the roof! I’m a real boy!

Next, we must briefly examine the historical evidence for Jesus. Seeing as we just shit all over Josephus’ credibility, we can pretty much count him out. Not to mention, the Testimonium Flavianum, where Josephus supposedly mentions Jesus, is at least heavily tampered with, if not an outright forgery. Even if Josephus did mention Jesus, it wouldn’t prove anything beyond the fact that there were, at the time, Christians, who preached of their godman Jesus. Same goes for Tacitus. They may only be relaying historical hearsay from around the late 1st and early 2nd century. So, we’re balls deep in underwhelming evidence.

xxx

Yep. Right in the trunk.

Moreover, there is no contemporaneous mention of Jesus, i.e., nothing written about him during the time he is said to have lived. Now this, alone, does not suggest that there was no historical Jesus. “God knows” there were plenty of folks strewn throughout history that were never contemporaneously attested, but nonetheless existed. However, what it does tell us is that Jesus must not have been terribly significant, if indeed he ever lived. Various peoples and events in the 1st century Greco-Roman world were widely recorded, and there were plenty of contemporary historians who could have mentioned him, most notably Philo of Alexandria. But nary a word.

I wanted to, I just plumb ran the fuck outta ink!

I wanted to, I just plumb ran the fuck outta ink!

All of this begs the question: How does a virtual nobody become elevated to the status of a god? To the point that the earliest discussion of him in the New Testament is practically devoid of anything but lofty divinity? Caesar Augustus and Alexander the Great were significant historical figures, so it makes sense that they’d be so deified. But, a relative nobody? A person about whom contemporary and 1st century historians gave zero total fucks?

xxx

I am NOT fine with this.

We come at last to the question of probability: Does all of this make more sense in terms of a historical person mythologized, or a mythical figure historicized? Especially since the initial, Pauline Jesus smacks of the latter? It would seem Jesus is better explained as a god become man, rather than a man become god. Zero to hero seems far less likely than Jesus having simply begun as a mythical hero. How’s that for executing ye olde Law of Parsimony?

Mind = Blown

Mind = Blown

It’s not that any of this proves there was no historical Jesus. It’s a question of verisimilitude (probability to you laymen). Based on all of the available information, one has damn good reason to suspect that this magical space-cadet motherfucker never even walked the earth. Perhaps that’s why Glenn Beck’s man-crush, Thomas Paine, had exactly this to say:

These repeated forgeries and falsifications create a well-founded suspicion, that all the cases spoken of concerning the person called Jesus Christ are made cases, on purpose to lug in, and that very clumsily, some broken sentences from the Old Testament, and apply them as prophecies of those cases; and that so far from his being the Son of God, he did not exist even as a man — that he is merely an imaginary or allegorical character, as Apollo, Hercules, Jupiter, and all the deities of antiquity were. There is no history written at the time Jesus Christ is said to have lived that speaks of the existence of such a person, even as a man. -Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Tommy, how could you? After all that...

Damn you, Tommy! Was anything real?

Jesus Dance 1

As someone who has diligently studied biblical criticism and comparative religion, I am no fan of the kind of misinformation that is promulgated by conspiracy films like Zeitgeist and popular novels like The Da Vinci Code. So, I was pleased to come across a critical review of Valerie Tarico’s 9 Things You Think You Know About Jesus That Are Probably Wrong, written by Ben Stanhope of the blog Remythologized.

In it, Stanhope rightly skewers Tarico for her Da Vinci-esque claims, e.g., that no Jewish men from Jesus’ time were celibate, that Jesus might have been gay, that Gnostic sources like the Gospel of Philip are historically reliable, and so on. But, about midway through, he completely derails into the kind of dubious apologetics you’d expect to find in Lee Strobel’s egregiously awful The Case for Christ. Which makes him no better than Tarico. To top it all off, he does so with the shameless arrogance of a Cracked.com writer. And that disgusts me.

hypocrisy

So, let’s dive right in and see where this dude goes off track.

Stanhope lambasts Tarico for chalking the Gospels up to a “hopeless historical mess,” quoting apologist Craig Evans to the effect that the Gospels are “essentially reliable.” Uh huh. From Herod’s infamous slaughter of the innocents (confirmed by no historian ever) to Caesar Augustus’ worldwide census (confirmed by no historian ever) to the earthquake and risen saints that accompanied Christ’s crucifixion (confirmed by no historian ever), the Gospels are just scary fucking accurate.

Oh, you were so close.

Oh, you were so close.

He attempts to back up this claim with the “history-bursting creed in 1 Corinthians 15,” trotting out a list of scholars who date it to the “mid-to-late 30’s [CE].”

We have a written record of a crucified, risen, messianic figure who was believed to have appeared to great numbers after his death within less than a decade after his execution.

Whoopee. Miraculous tales about the 17th century messiah-figure Sabbatai Zevi were spawned within mere weeks of his public appearances in Palestine. Letters from that same year relate that he commanded a fire to appear and walked through it unaffected. [1] The same year. Talk about “history-bursting.” It must have really happened!

My Weed 2

Not to mention, the mid-to-late 30’s date for 1 Corinthians 15 is spurious. Scholars infer this from the notion that Paul received and delivered the creed; ipso facto, it must predate Paul. But we have to ask what Paul is doing passing on an early creedal statement as fundamental to the gospel he preached (15:1-3), when, in Galatians 1:11-12, he states unequivocally, “…the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

Bottom line: 1 Corinthians 15 is very likely a post-Pauline interpolation, i.e., a passage inserted by later scribes. [2] Which would explain why the whole business of Jesus’ appearance to over five-hundred brethren appears nowhere in the later Gospels. So much for bursting history.

Hadouken

Then there’s this tasty morsel:

Tarico says the gospel story about the women at the tomb is believed by most scholars to be a mythological fiction based in earlier myths.  In reality, this element of the gospel sources is considered one of our most reliable according to Gary Habermas who surveyed more than 1,400 scholarly publications on the historical Jesus in German, French and English. (The testimony of women was so repudiated in the first century that this embarrassing element in the sources wouldn’t have been contrived by Christians.) [20]

Christian apologist Gary Habermas surveyed more than 1,400 scholarly publications and somehow failed to discover that his claim about women’s testimony in the ancient world is, in fact, completely false. (Did I mention that he’s a Christian apologist? Yeah, that would explain why.) Though women did not take on traditional male roles, such as that of a lawyer, their testimony was indeed trusted, even in a court of law. [3]

And it still is.

And it still is.

Stanhope continues:

Modern scholars don’t interpret the mystery religions into the gospels because there was little footing for them in 1st century Judea unlike Alexandrian Judaism.

The relevance of this statement is that the mystery religions constitute those “earlier myths” from which the Gospels may have derived their story about women grieving at the tomb. They featured dying and rising godmen, such as Osiris and Adonis, whose deaths were bewailed by female consorts. Stanhope would have us believe that no one in 1st century Judea had ever heard of such a thing. Even though Ezekiel 8:14 attests to women bemoaning the slain Tammuz at the very gates of the Temple, and Osiris had long been known in Palestine. [4]

But not as long as T-Rex.

But not as long as T-Rex.

Besides, what evidence does Stanhope have that the Gospels were actually written in Judea? They may likely have been produced by Hellenized Jews in the Diaspora, where mystery religion motifs would have been quite familiar. Stanhope, like most apologists, conflates the setting of the Gospels with their place of composition.

And if concepts from the mystery religions had not been known to the New Testament authors, then Stanhope has a long way to go toward explaining why the ritual assimilation of the believer to Christ (Ro. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12) and the consumption of his flesh in the form of bread (Jn. 6:53-58) have no basis whatsoever in Judaism, but fit beautifully in the context of the Osirian mortuary cult. [5] [6]

There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we're naught but humble pirates.

There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we’re naught but humble pirates.

All in all, Stanhope is just another spin-doctoring windbag, attempting to foist his trite apologetics upon an ill-informed public–one that he hopes will be just as credulous of his claims as they are Tarico’s. More importantly, anyone who would rip off Cracked.com should be ferociously dick-punched and forced to traverse the earth collecting elephant shit in a bag for the rest of their pitiful lives.

And so it is.

Off I go. Man, my dick hurts.

Works Cited:

[1] Robert M. Price. “Is There a Place for Historical Criticism?” Official Home Page of Robert M. Price. http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_place.htm (2007).

[2] Robert M. Price. “Apocryphal Apparitions: 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 As a Post-Pauline Interpolation.” The Secular Web. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/apocrypha.html (1997).

[3] Richard Carrier. “Was Christianity Too Improbable to be False?” The Secular Web. http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/improbable/women.html (2006).

[4] “Osiris, according to the brilliant conjecture of Lagarde, is perhaps named in Isaiah 10:4. In any case, he is known in Palestine much earlier, according to the excavations there” (Alfred Bertholet, “The Pre-Christian Belief in the Resurrection of the Body,” The American Journal of Theology, 20:1 [1916]: 10).

[5] S.G.F. Brandon. The Ritual Technique of Salvation in the Ancient Near East. In “The Saviour God: Comparative Studies in the Concept of Salvation,” ed. Edwin Oliver James (Manchester University Press, 1963), 32-33.

[6] “It so happens that scented loaves of bread accompany the Sokar figure in the Osirian mysteries described at Dendera. Called kfn-loaves, they are baked in special molds that mark them as representations of Osiris’ body parts…” (Joseph D. Reed, “Arsinoe’s Adonis and the Poetics of Ptolemaic Imperialism,” [American Philological Association: First Edition, 2000], 331).

funny_300_sparta_dine_in_hell

You all know the drill. Scramble into place and line up before Jesus McJudgealot, who’s seated on a great white throne. Scrolls are opened like winning lottery tickets, and names read aloud. The naughty are separated from the nice, and the former get tossed into a fiery lake of burning sulfur. Yadda yadda yadda, brown-nosers and goody two-shoes inherit the new earth, which glistens with streets of gold and IHOPs as far as the eye can see.

xxx

Mmmm. I’ll have what he’s having.

This is more or less the picture that is painted in the Book of Revelation, minus the 24-hour chicken and waffles. And those consigned to the Lake of Fire suffer the “second death” (Rev. 20:14-15). An idea that’s totally original to the Bible, RIGHT? Bah! The ancient Egyptians were waxing theological about second deaths in an ominous Lake of Fire a good millennium beforehand.

hell-loving-god-eternity
But, before you were annihilated in the Egyptian Lake of Fire, you were treated to all manner of good, wholesome torture: having your flesh ripped off by demons, walking upside down on your head, getting your limbs torn from your body, and, best of all, eating a heaping helping of your own shit.

This is Hell!!?

Eat like an Egyptian.

Images of burning in “liquid hot magma” were present in Zoroastrianism, too, which, like the Book of Revelation, involves the destruction of the cosmic evildoer by submersion in the fiery ooze. Not that the Hebrews took this idea from the Persians or anything. I mean, when could that possibly have happened? Except for that one time, in band camp, when the Persians freed the Jews from captivity in Babylon, and then a Jewish sect arose whose name smacks of Persian (Pharisee = Farsi/Parsee).

xxx

You can TOTALLY trust me not to rip you off; I’m Jewish!

Okay, but maybe the Bible’s account of Hell is still true, and the Egyptians and Zoroastrians were simply keen to the same, spiritual insights.

Yeah, that's the ticket!

Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Except that the Bible is about as consistent on the afterlife as a Mitt Romney campaign that starts on the East Coast and ends in Georgia.

xxx

Abortion? It should be legal. As long as you go to jail for it.

The Old Testament begins by teaching mortalism (Gen. 3:19, Ps. 90), then speaks of a shadowy existence in Sheol as the final destination of both the righteous and the wicked (Eccl. 9:2-6), then of resurrection to either everlasting life or eternal contempt, depending on one’s righteousness (Dan. 12:2-3).

Giddyup, you unrepentant asshole!

Giddyup, you unrepentant asshole!

The New Testament says that we are resurrected to a spiritual body without flesh and blood (1 Cor. 15:50), then the opposite (Lk. 24:39), and includes notions of a paradisaical life after death (Lk. 23:43) versus one in which we sleep (Eph. 5:14, 1 Thess. 5:10). Hell ranges from a place of eternal fire and punishment (Mt. 18:8, 25:46) to outright annihilation like that of ancient Egyptian belief (Rev. 20:11-15, 21:8). Confused yet?

Those aren't contradictions! It's multiple choice!

Those aren’t contradictions! It’s multiple choice!

All in all, there’s nothing to fear of Hell. As with so much of the Bible, it is derivative of earlier mythology, and its artificiality is laid bare by the winding and weaving of ideas attached to it. And you know what that means? No eternal consequences. As Rick Warren says, we can throw caution to the wind, engaging in lifelong debauchery and hedonism. Because it’s not like there are real-world consequences for our actions!

xxx

Like he doesn’t already get under-the-altar blowies.

 

3875790557_898f3c8442_o

Quick history lesson: About 10,000 years ago, the last Ice Age came to an end, resulting in the migration of wild game, flora, and fauna that hunter-gatherers had depended upon from time immemorial. In response to this, man had to innovate new ways to maintain sustenance. Thus, the advent of agriculture. With the rise of agriculture, man gradually ceased to be nomadic and began settling in areas conducive to the cultivation of crops, giving rise to civilization.

And "Obelisks."

And “Obelisks.”

As agriculture became essential to both civilization and subsistence, it also became crucial to understand the nature of the seasons and the solar cycles that contribute to seasonal change. Since we hadn’t yet developed the scientific method, we looked to the one place that would suffice to help us understand all this: the innermost region of our b-holes.

xxx

One shart away from a mouthful of chocolatey badness.

We culled from our asses all manner of stories, rituals, legends, and myths that would explain a broad range of natural phenomena, from the movement of celestial objects to the death and rebirth of croplife. From this sprang “dying-and-rising god myths, [which] symbolized the death and return of vegetation, or the shortening and lengthening of the daylight.” Such deities as Tammuz, Baal, and Adonis personified the death of the planted seed and its sprouting to new life in Spring. Over time, man came to believe that performing certain rituals of initiation could mystically unite him with the fate of the risen god, effecting for him a spiritual rebirth already in this life, and, ultimately, a blessed life after death.

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Totally worth taking a pickaxe to the head.

Probably the earliest among these was the ancient Egyptian cult of Osiris. Scholars are reluctant to label it an official “mystery religion,” due to its lack of initiatory elements. Though it was nonetheless the conceptual precursor to the various mystery cults that followed. As Osiris had been murdered and subsequently raised from the dead, his devotees, too, could expect to share in eternal life beyond the grave.

“Even as Osiris lives, he also will live; even as Osiris is not dead, he also will not die” (Adolf Erman, A Handbook of Egyptian Religion, trans. A. S. Griffith [London: Archibald Constable & Co., 1907], 95).

The imagined mechanism in all of this was the homologic principle: “As above, so below. As within, so without.” As is accomplished by the god, so is made manifest in the believer. You may also have noticed that such expressions underscore Rhonda Byrne’s top-selling book, The Secret. Which is just chock full of credible.

I just put the thought out there, and BOOM: Hot girl on a donkey!

I just put the thought out there, and BOOM: Hottie on a donkey.

After Alexander the Great conquered half the known world in the 4th century BCE, ancient Egyptian beliefs became widely diffused through the medium of Hellenism–the adoption of Greek culture in foreign lands, and vice versa. Greeks and Romans had a certain preoccupation with ancient Egypt, due to its antiquity and mystique.

That's great, ancient Egypt, but I'm the most mysterious man of all time!

That’s great, ancient Egypt, but I’m the most mysterious man of all time!

The ancient Egyptian cult of Osiris would go on to influence the cults of Dionysus, Attis, and others. Upon Greek soil, secret rites of initiation (mysteries) were introduced, whereby the believer would sacramentally participate in the death and resurrection of the god. The risen deity served as the conduit through which mortal men could conquer death and live on in the hereafter.

Come with me if you want to live.

Come with me if you want to live.

Christianity arose in this Hellenistic milieu–an environment in which the old, Olympian gods were succeeded by the mystery religions and their promise of personal salvation. It was only natural that the emerging religion would absorb ideas from its surroundings, and such is reflected variously throughout the New Testament. The apostle Paul speaks of baptism as a mystical experience in which one dies and rises with Christ (Ro. 6:3-5, Col. 2:12). As Christ conquered death, so too could Christians (1 Cor. 15:22). Surely this meant they could curse fig trees as he did, also.

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Make me figgy pudding or DIE, plant!

For obvious reasons, Christian apologists strive mightily against the notion that Christianity borrowed from these older religions. You’ll hear everything from “The mysteries stole from Christianity!” to “Ancient Jews would never have entertained paganism!” These and other claims are patently false, as you can see here and here and here and here. And apologetics, in general, is an abject failure, as you can see here.

But I'll be damned if I can't afford this Versace suit!

But I’ll be damned if I can’t afford this Versace suit! SUCKERS.

So, next time you’re in church, remember: much of what you’re hearing, and the rites in which you’re partaking, not only come from paganism, but are ultimately rooted in the worship of fucking corn. Which is basically just another instance of corn resurfacing in crap.

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Funny, I don’t remember taking Communion.

 

funnysatan

You’ve all probably heard of this guy. The Old Serpent, Prince of Darkness, Master & Chief of Demons, Pitchforked Wonder, Kanye West, etc. If you don’t have a “Jesus Force-Field App” on your iPhone, he screws you in your sleep while smearing Andy Rooney’s dung all over your helpless body. Which, of course, you happily pass off as a spray tan.

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Giving “shit-faced” a whole new meaning.

But, whence cometh Satan? We’ve already seen that both God and Jesus are patchwork quilts of prior gods and archetypes from the ancient world. Is it the same for Satan? Fuck, no! I just have a strange fetish for misleading my readers!

Gotcha! Now, who wants fried chicken with extra frosting?

Gotcha! Now, who wants fried chicken with extra frosting?

Okay, yes, it is. Satan is first introduced in the book of Genesis yeeeahNO. The chatty snake in the Garden of Eden is never identified with Satan. Like, ever. Rather, he is first introduced in the book of Job, where he functions as a “prosecutor” and member of the Divine Council, i.e., Sons of God (Elohim).

“One day the Sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them” (Job 1:6).

The name Satan denotes “adversary.” But, originally, he was the adversary of man, not of God. He is God’s right-hand man, “roaming about the earth” and sniffing people out to see whether or not they are truly loyal to the Almighty. Just as he does with Job. Who, by the way, got royally shafted.

Bah! Would you like some boils with that dead family?

Would you like some boils with that dead family? Bah!

Only later in the Old Testament, and especially in the New Testament, does Satan morph into the embodiment of evil, due to Zoroastrian influences that took hold after the Persians freed the Jews from captivity in Babylon. The Hebrew ha-Satan was merged with the Persian Ahriman–the opposer of the Wise Lord Ahura Mazda. In fact, the entire eschatology (end times belief) of Judaism and Christianity flows from Zoroastrian influence, and such is laid bare by the fact that “Pharisee” originally denoted “Persian” (Farsi/Parsee).

Perhaps also the origin of artsy-fartsy?

Perhaps also the origin of “artsy-fartsy?”

In the New Testament in particular, Satan also bears resemblance to the Gnostic Demiurge–the “craftsman” of this fallen world and its inferior, physical state (as opposed to the superiority of the spiritual world). Thus, the apostle Paul’s reference to Satan as “the god of this world,” who blinds “the minds of the unbelieving” (2 Cor. 4:4). Likewise, Paul yearns for the spiritual over the physical:

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

Of course, Paul wrote this well before 1987’s Predator, so he can surely be forgiven for his naïveté.

Fix your eyes on me, ya sanctimonious taint scab.

“I refuse to be seen. I am one ugly motherfucker. SAD.”

And then there’s the whole bit about Lucifer and his legion of rebellious angels getting booted from heaven. This tale is cribbed from Isaiah 14, but with a twist.

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High’ (Is. 14:12-14).

Was Isaiah actually referring to Satan? NOPE. He was talking about the friggin’ King of Babylon, as he makes expressly clear in 14:4. (And that, in turn, was influenced by the myth of Helal [Venus] and his daily ascent/descent in the heavens.) But this is the type of dubious malpractice that early Christians loved to perform, because their god apparently never stated this:

prooftext2
Insofar as iconography is concerned, Satan acquired his horned and hooved image from the ancient Greek nature god, Pan. From whom, apparently, we learned how to get our dusty, old Nintendo games playing again.

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And when you’re finished blowing that…

All told, Satan is just another, imaginary synthesis of syntheses, cobbled together from this and that antiquated piece of superstitious dumbfuckery. Like God, he simply does not exist.

Or does he…

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GABBAR#$@!%&FARAR, Liberals!

 

god-is-a-dj-561x400

When theists pose “proofs” for God, such as the cosmological argument, the typical atheist taunt is, “Where did God come from?” Which is, of course, a justifiable response. If everything must have a cause, then God must also have a cause. And so on and so forth ad infinitum. The only way to avoid this infinite regress is to reason that there must be an “Uncaused Cause,” or “Prime Mover.” Here, Occam’s Razor (entities need not be multiplied beyond necessity) delivers a swift blow to the poor theist’s gambit: If God could exist uncaused, then why couldn’t the universe? Science is indeed pointing in that direction.

Sheeit, anymore, we up and make our own universes.

Sheeit, anymore, we plumb make our own universes.

But, funny thing about that question, “Where did God come from?” We have a very good idea where he came from. And it wasn’t from Lex Luthor’s asshole.

It was from mine! Ha! Kneel.

It was from mine! Ha! Kneel with it.

Generally speaking, the idea of “gods” probably stems from our ancestors’ tendency to over-infer agency–a living entity, human or other, that acts in the world. So, when Neanderthal Joe was “breaking the seal” after 30 some-odd cold ones at Club Spearchuck, and he suddenly heard a rustling in the bushes behind him, his first reaction was to assume it was a giant, man-eating chicken, and light up with 1500 volts of pure adrenaline.

Pollo Uh-Oh.

Pollo Uh-Oh.

Obviously, this would have served an evolutionary advantage in being extra cautious about marauding predators, something with which we have much less concern today. Though, the remnant of that mechanism still has us believing all manner of stupid.

I refudiate that remark!

I refudiate that remark!

Of course, there’s also something to be said for the theory espoused by the 5th century BC Greek philosopher Prodicus of Ceos, who judged the gods to be representations of natural phenomena–the sun, moon, rivers, crops, etc. Thus, Apollo symbolized the sun, Demeter embodied the grain, and so on. If I had to guess, I’d say ol’ Prodicus was a godless bag o’ shit.

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Me and Prodicus on safari. Ah, memories…

As it concerns the biblical god, we have, just like Jesus, a mosaic of elements from around the ancient Mediterranean. According to scholars such as Karen Armstrong and Mircea Eliade, there are traces in the Bible of a tribalistic “god of the father” cult, in which the deity was a figurehead of the tribe, passed down through the generations. Thus the expression, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3:6). Frankly, this pisses me off. As a youngster, I received hand-me-down sweaters and pants, but never a fucking hand-me-down god.

Cool. My own Canaanite Terminator.

Cool. My own Canaanite Exterminator.

The biblical god is also a mishmash of regional deities, including El Elyon of Canaan, Marduk of Babylon, and Yahweh, who was probably of Kenite origin (Judg. 1:16). The Israelites were simply Canaanites under a new name, the conquest of Canaan being a foundationary myth geared toward uplifting national morale during troubling times. Kind of like a literary cheerleader.

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READY? OKAY! GOOOO, UNMANNED FLYING DEATH MACHINES!

The Israelites were originally polytheistic, and only later streamlined the pantheon by merging various deities into one. As Marduk, God separates the waters above from the waters below, and creates man on the sixth day (Gen. 1). As El Elyon, he presides over the divine council and renders judgment among the gods (Ps. 82). As Yahweh, he is the irascible god of war and conquest, whose wrath is as dreadful as an incoming storm. In fact, Yahweh probably began as the personification of volcanic storm activity:

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently … When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear (Ex. 19:16-18, 20:18).

This is descriptive of a natural phenomenon known as a “dirty storm,” in which thunder and lightning accompany the billowing smoke of an active volcano.

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Jehovah Blows.

The biblical god also fits the psychological profile of a despotic and tyrannical, Ancient Near Eastern king, and he is likely a fictive projection of such. He sits atop a throne (Ps. 11:4), rules over his people (Ex. 19:6, Deut. 4:19), commands an army (Josh. 5:14), prefers to be feared (Ex. 20:19-20, Job 38-41), and he requires high praise and exaltation (Isa. 6:2-3). But, the best part? He loves the smell of burning meat (Gen. 8:21, Ex. 29:18, Lev. 1:17, Num. 15:13). His hatred of pork and apparent sense of smell go a long way toward explaining my weekend ritual.

Take a whiff, O' Lord.

Take a whiff, O’ Lord.

During the Axial Age (c. 800 to 200 BC), God received a bit of toning down, as well as a loftier position in the heavens, with the influence of Greek philosophy. Plato envisioned a more spiritualized realm between heaven and earth, and Aristotle introduced a grand scheme of metaphysics, e.g, God as “Unmoved Mover,” “First Cause,” and self-subsistent “Being.” These are ideas about “God” that most people take for granted today, but in fact stem from classical ponderings of the world in antiquity. Sounds fancy and stuff, but still boils down to people making shit up.

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The Whore of Babylon will be here to eat our souls in 3…

The irony is this: Fundamentalist Christians vehemently deny evolution. Yet, the Bible, Jesus, and God himself are all prime examples of evolutionary development. The ideas attached to them are the product of change and adaptation, occurring throughout the course of human history. And these adaptations continue to take place even today, as the more rational among evangelicals embrace scientific truths, and interpret scripture in new ways to accommodate for them. In this way, Christianity is a chameleon. Should it survive another thousand years, there’s no telling what it will look like.

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This disc is my flesh. The MCP can totally eat it.