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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.