Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection’

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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.

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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.

xxx

Funny, I don’t remember taking Communion.

 

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When I began my foray into religion and philosophy, I was concerned with one thing and one thing only: truth.  There was never a point at which I sat down and selected atheism from the menu of favorable options. In fact, I don’t necessarily favor atheism. I’d like to think that a guiding and benevolent father figure looks out for me from above. That one day I’ll get to parade around in my underwear for all eternity with Phil Hartman and Chris Farley.

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We’ll be here, Derreck. Just as soon as you die from cirrhosis.

But, at the end of the day, it’s not about what I desire or find palatable. It’s about what strikes me as being true. What worldview seems to best comport with reality? Atheism, for me, is not even a choice, but a conclusion, however tentative, based on an honest appraisal of the world around me. In light of that, I prefer to follow the Buddhist wisdom of accepting things just as they are, rather than attempting to skew reality so that it conforms to my innermost wishes. Carl Sagan said it best: “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

I’ve got a fistful of science to go with that butthurt, Jesus.

The approach that I just described, the honest seeking for truth, seems to be the furthest thing from the Christian mindset. Let’s face it: anyone who’s a Christian either inherited their faith without ever rigorously questioning it, or came to believe as a result of some emotional incentive. I have yet to meet a single Christian who says, “I was a nonbeliever, until I investigated the truth claims of the Bible. And whad’ya know: logic, reason, evidence, science, history, and philosophy all bore it out!”

Look, here's Noah's Ark!

Look, here’s Noah’s Ark!

But, here’s the thing. I am perfectly fine with that. Really. Truly. What somebody else believes is none of my business, so long as they don’t impose it upon me. If it makes them happy and provides them a sense of comfort, who am I to interfere with that? I say, to each his own.

Good. Because this basketball is mine. This is MY basketball.

Good. Because this basketball is mine. This is MY basketball.

Now, of course there are things about the highly political, religious right that irritate me, e.g., their stance on gay rights, women’s reproductive rights, the attempts to inject creationist pseudoscience into the classroom, etc. But, as someone with an academic interest in religious studies, what really grinds my gears are Christian apologists–those who attempt to defend the faith on “intellectual” grounds. As an institution hellbent on defending the indefensible, theirs is the practice of shameless shell games, spin-doctoring, convoluted thinking, far-fetched rationalizing, baseless presumptions, careless conjecture, and all manner of fallacious argumentation. Basically, bullshit artistry masquerading as scholarship. 100%. Complete. Bullshit.

On the Origins of Apologetics.

On the Origin of Feces

That they have the gall to insist that we atheists are unjustified in our disbelief, because we’re somehow oblivious to their oh-so-cogent “evidence,” is disgustingly disingenuous and insulting. Peddle your nonsense to the credulous if you must, but don’t pretend as though we ought to be equally gullible.

Molecules in the shape of a cross, you say? Oh, Praise Him!

Molecules in the shape of a cross, you say? Oh, Praise Him!

But, are their arguments really that bad, you might ask? YES. Yes, they are. One need look no further than the grand poobah of Christian apologists, William Lane Craig. Dr. Craig’s defenses of Christian belief are so bad that even Norm Macdonald is more convincing as Burt Reynolds in SNL’s Celebrity Jeopardy. And he’s not even trying. Craig basically relies on sleight-of-hand trickery, as do most Christian apologists. But anyone with a modicum of critical thinking skills can see exactly how he pulls the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.

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Among his other tricks.

Craig’s misrepresentation of the physics behind cosmic origins has been noted here, where he flagrantly lies about the universe being created ex nihilo (out of nothing). In addition to that, I will discuss three other arguments of his that stink to high heaven so severely, even Jesus chokes on the fumes.

Where's the goddamn Hawaiian Breeze & Fuji Apple Glade?!!

Goddammit, Peter, where’s that Hawaiian Fuji Apple Glade?!!

Beginning with Craig’s defense of the resurrection. In addition to appealing to the empty tomb, Joseph of Arimathea, and visions of the resurrected Jesus in order to prove the resurrection of Jesus–in effect, using the Bible to prove the Bible–Craig made this stunning statement during a debate with New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman:

Dr. Ehrman just assumes that the probability of the resurrection on our background knowledge [Pr(R/B)] is very low. But here, I think, he’s confused. What, after all, is the resurrection hypothesis? It’s the hypothesis that Jesus rose supernaturally from the dead. It is not the hypothesis that Jesus rose naturally from the dead. That Jesus rose naturally from the dead is fantastically improbable. But I see no reason whatsoever to think that it is improbable that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Background knowledge, of course, refers to our everyday experience of the world. And Craig really nails it. We don’t tend to witness people naturally rising from the dead. But, supernaturally? Oh, well, yeah. You can barely walk your dog or stroll through the supermarket without encountering a reanimated corpse these days. But it’s hardly any surprise in the face of magic. What the fuck was Dr. Ehrman thinking?

Is this the produce section?

Is this the produce section?

With respect to the Problem of Evil, Craig argues that evil is actually proof of God’s existence. Because, you see, evil denotes “a departure from the way things ought to be.” And, if there’s “a way things ought to be,” then there must be a design plan set forth by a Creator. QED. Everything is the result of God’s design.
Oh grow up, God.

Oh grow up, God.

Problem is, Craig’s definition of evil is ad hoc, designed expressly for the sake of arriving at his desired conclusion. If there is no God, then there is no “way things ought to be.” There is only the way things are. Gratuitous and pervasive suffering only “ought to be” absent from the world if there is an all-powerful and loving God–an entity with both the ability and desire to prevent it. It is precisely because the world is not so that we atheists disbelieve in God.

Evil, therefore, would not be a departure from any divine plan, but a value judgment set forth by human beings, best described as “that which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction.” But the best part is this: By Craig’s rationale, Christian Bale’s character in American Psycho is a shining example of God’s glorious existence.

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“Witnessing.”

Lastly, we come to Craig’s defense of biblical genocide. Accordingly, all those Canaanites whom the Israelite soldiers slaughtered had it coming. They were steeped in impurity, so what’s an all-powerful and loving God to do but have them exterminated? It’s not like, in his infinite power and wisdom, he could conjure up a civil, non-violent solution. He’s not fucking Gandhi or Jesu… wait, whaaa?

I see what you did there.

I see what you did there.

But what about the children, Professor Craig? Why the innocent children?

If [you] believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.  Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

Those lucky little fucks! Now, excuse me while I go on an infanticidal killing spree, so that more of God’s precious children can “quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.” I’m sure the parents won’t mind. After all, I’m just expediting their salvation!

Time to blow you little shits to Kingdom Come.

30-round bursts of salvation comin’ at ya!

Oh, but it gets better.

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

By extension, I feel the sudden urge to give Hitler a hug. In fact, we should dedicate a memorial to the Nazi regime (those poor souls), with William Lane Craig hosting the opening ceremony. What could be more fitting for Christianity’s leading apologist than to be dressed in regalia that reads “God With Us.”

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That special gift for the guy who kills everything.

So there you have it, folks. Among defenders of the faith, that’s the best Christianity has to offer. I’d sure hate to see the worst. In all their works, whether written or spoken, there is no regard for the truth. There is no attempt whatsoever at objectivity. They seek only to defend what they already blindly believe, no matter how grotesque or outlandish. And they’ll lie, cheat, contrive, and deceive every step of the way. But, hey. At least they love Jesus. You can be forgiven for anything as long as you believe the right shit.

There-there, now. Just promise you won't lace Gerber products with arsenic again.

There-there, now. Freebasing cocaine from a hooker’s severed head is a mild offense, anyway.

 

buddy_christ2

NOTE: All claims made by Zeitgeist, as well as detailed rebuttals to those claims, can be conveniently located here: http://conspiracies.skepticproject.com/articles/zeitgeist/part-one/

We’ve all heard various claims about Jesus resembling other gods from the distant past. Problem is, a lot of those claims are bogus, especially the ones peddled by conspiracy films like Zeitgeist–a steaming pile of bull excrement that’s so big and bullshitty, it dwarfs the Matterhorn. (Not the one in Disneyland, but the actual goddamn Matterhorn.) Unfortunately, some of this nonsense is repeated in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Bill Maher’s Religulous, bringing it to the forefront of pop culture awareness. (As if the ubiquitous media lords weren’t already pumping us full of stupid.)

But, fear not. I’m gonna deliver the goods on several Jesusy myths that are actually backed by ancient sources. And that other stuff? Apparently, some conspiracy theorist birthed it from his ass after a night of bad baloney and 100-proof absinthe. So, I’m just gonna put it back.

This might come as a bit of a "Shocker."

This might come as a bit of a “shocker.”


#5. BORN OF A VIRGIN

According to Zeitgeist, Horus, Mithra, and Krishna were all born to virgins. This is abundantly attested in such sources as NONE. EVER. Krishna was the eighth child born to Devaki. Sort of like the Octomom of antiquity, but with her childbirths spread out over time. And her legs spread out all the time. Mithra emerged fully grown from a rock. I know… Rock. Virgin. Same diff. After Osiris had been shredded to pieces by his evil brother Set, Isis recovered all the parts but his penis. So, she magically crafted a new one out of gold, by which she conceived Horus. Isis, therefore, was not a virgin. Though, an argument could be made that Osiris’ shiny new dick was.

Gold? Buy that goddamn dick! The Economic Apocalypse is upon us!

Buy that goddamn dick! The Apocalypse is upon us!

Technically, there were no gods born to virgin mothers. However, several of them were the offspring of a High God and a mortal woman. In some cases, the women had previously been virgins. In others, they produced the child in the absence of sexual intercourse. To wit:

Alexander the Great was conceived when Zeus struck Olympias with a hot wad of Zeus Juice. What, you thought Alexander was special just because he conquered nations and buggered butts? That ain’t the half of it; his dad was the fucking King of Gods. On “Bring Your Dad to School Day,” Alex won, hands down. Little Ipoopsoles’ daddy might’ve been the best plumber in Athens, but nobody gave a clog-worthy shit that day.

Relinquish the Crappin'!

Release the crappin’!

Zeus also fathered Perseus upon the virgin Danae in a shower of gold. No, Zeus wasn’t emulating R. Kelly; it was a literal shower of gold, you perv. Perictione birthed Plato after a wet-dream interlude with Apollo. What, you thought he was famous just because he waxed philosophical and buggered butts? That ain’t the half of it; his dad was the fucking God of the Sun. Pythagoras, too, was the offspring of Apollo, after he shagged sweet Pythais’ petunia.

I got the moves like Jagger!

I got the moves like Jagger!

Semele bore Dionysus as a result of–wouldn’t you know it–more Zeus Juice. Rhea Silvia was a Vestal Virgin until Ares popped her cherry, hence the birth of Romulus. Queen Maya produced Gautama the Buddha without even dropping her pants. Similarly, Nana conceived Attis sans coitus. Last but not least, there’s Jesus, who came spilling out of Mary without a hint of spooge from Yahweh. And his dad could blow shit up.

I make it RAIN in here!

OMG, we are flaming!

According to Dr. Richard Carrier, the similarities with Christianity are no coincidence:

…since the idea of [supernaturally conceived] gods was already in the cultural atmosphere, and was self-evidently miraculous and thus ‘proof’ of God’s intervention in history in a way that would confirm the divinity of Jesus, there was ample motive to develop and promote the idea.

In all of this, I suspect that the theme of miraculous conception is intended to set a precedent. The ruler, master, or godling came into the world in an exceptional manner, so their legacy will likewise be exceptional. But, that’s secondary to the more obvious theme: Zeus. Was horny. As fuck.

I will find you. And I will fuck you.

I will find you. And I will fuck you.


#4. PERFORMED MIRACLES

According to Zeitgeist, Horus performed such miracles as walking on water. Because, you see, Horus represented the sun, and sunshine is reflected on water, thus Horus walked on water. QED. Even if this silly argument were granted, magically walking on shit isn’t really that big o’ deal. Pretty much anyone who’s ever tried whippets has done it.


Pythagoras and Empedocles are a much better match. They were able to soothe raging winds and seas, just as Jesus did in Mark 4:35-41. Raging hemorrhoids, however? Not so much.

Put 2 of these in your butt, and call me if it makes you horny.

I’ll take “Things You Can Shove Up Your Ass” for $800, Alex.

Pythagoras was also associated with a miraculous catch of fish, just as Jesus was in John 21:1-19. The miracle in the Gospel is that Jesus supernaturally aids in catching all the fish, whereas the miracle in the Pythagoras tale is that he magically guesses the precise number of fish caught. Pythagoras demanded that the fish be set free after being counted; and, as he stood there, none of them died while out of the water. How fucking badass is that? As far as PETA is concerned, Pythagoras is Lord.

Suck it, Jesus.

Suck it, Jesus.

It’s clear that the Gospel story was a retelling of the other, as John 21:11 specifies that 153 fish were caught in all–a telltale vestige of Pythagorean numerology. However, Pythagoras never copyrighted this miracle; so, like a total Jew, Jesus reproduced it and took all the credit.

Suck it, Pythagoras.

Suck it, Pythagoras.


#3. HEALED THE SICK

Zeitgeist is partially correct in claiming that Horus healed the sick, but only in a very roundabout way. As Thoth had cured Horus from the sting of a scorpion, the ancient Egyptians believed they could be mystically identified with Horus in order to overcome poisonous infections.

You’d think with all the venomous critters that were frolicking about and poking everyone in the ass, the Egyptians would up and move camp. But, this was not possible, as the ancient alien warlords who created them demanded that they stay and ogle their technicolor rocket ships.

I do about "this much" heroine between takes.

I do about “this much” heroine between takes.

Much closer to home is Asclepius, who miraculously healed the paralytic, the lame, and the blind. Pretty much a dead ringer for Jesus, as he healed precisely the same ailments (Mk. 2:1-12, Jn. 5:1-15 & 9:1-12). In responding to early critics of Christianity, church father Justin Martyr had this to say:

When we say that [Jesus] healed the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, and raised the dead, we seem to be talking about things like those said to have been done by Asclepius.

Translation: Our bullshit’s no different than your bullshit, so let us preach this bullshit or I’m calling bullshit.

Do I even need to say it?

Ah. So, this is a tiny chip o’ shit by comparison.

Swedish scholar Roger Viklund goes as far as to say this:

[Jesus’] miracles were imitations of what pagan gods in the vicinity had accomplished. The faith healings, for instance, were borrowed from Asclepius.

Yeah, well, I just pulled a bird outta Pastor Brown's ass!

So? Look! I just pulled a bird outta Marvin’s ass!


#2. RAISED THE DEAD

The Christ Conspiracy, the book upon which Zeitgeist is based, claims that Horus raised his father Osiris from the dead, just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (Jn. 11:1-46). Aside from questionable attempts to link “Lazarus” with “Osiris,” this claim is generally true: Horus did raise Osiris from the dead. Holy shit. I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day.

"Oh, blow me."

Fuck an A-Right, it’s 10:17!

Asclepius also had quite a knack for raising the dead. In fact, he was too good.

Asclepius’ raising of the dead aroused the wrath of Zeus. Not only was Zeus angered to see many of his old enemies, whom he had struck dead with his thunderbolts, returning to life, but his brother Hades, king of the underworld, was complaining about the dearth of new arrivals (greekmedicine.net).

For fuck's sake, I'm getting lonely down here.

Look at this, Hellhound. Even my nails are going to shit.

Just how completely Jesusy was Asclepius?

Jesus’ achievements when healing the lame and the paralytic and when resurrecting the dead were similar to those of Asclepius, even identical with them [emphasis added] … to the heathens Christ naturally seemed but another Asclepius (Ludwig Edelstien, “Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies,” p. 134).

Okay, but, as early church father Firmicus Maternus once quipped, “The Devil has his Christs.” So, everyone just chill right the fuck out. This is only the work of the evil incarnate Prince of Darkness, who desperately wants to eat your soul.

I wonder if those leftovers of Gandhi are still good...

I wonder if those leftovers of Gandhi are still good…


#1. RESURRECTED AFTER 3 DAYS

Zeitgeist claims that Horus, Mithra, and Attis were raised from the dead after three days, just as Jesus was according to Matthew 12:40. Brace yourselves for this: the film haphazardly manages to get something right in the case of Attis.

I know. I had the same reaction.

I had the same reaction.

Attis initiates would castrate themselves in the course of an induced frenzy [symbolizing what the god himself had done]. Then, three days later, they would retrieve a ritually entombed effigy of Attis and rejoice in his resurrection, a token of their own (Robert M. Price, “The Reason Driven Life,” p. 155).

The whole emasculation thing may seem a bit overzealous; but, when “happy forever after” is being dangled over your head, what’s a lil’ sack o’ nuts?

Well... go on.

You mean, Deez… ?

Oh, but it gets better. Participants in the cult of Attis may have approached a statue of Cybele, his consort, and cast their severed bits ‘n’ pieces right into her lap. Sort of like basketball. Except that the backboard was a goddess, and “double-dribbling” was pretty much inevitable.

Just don't get any in my hair.

Just don’t get any in my hair.

Mithra, however, was never killed, much less resurrected. There is a story involving the death and resuscitation of the child Horus, as mentioned above, but a three day motif is completely absent.

Why all the fuss about Horus to begin with? His father, Osiris, is practically Jesus 1.0. His fucking father. Screw Horus.

No, it's cool. He's right. I suck.

No, it’s cool. He’s right. I suck.

Osiris was not only resurrected after three days; his resurrection paved the way for all ancient Egyptians to conquer death and live eternally. Same thing Jesus’ resurrection accomplishes for Christians (1 Cor. 15:21-23, Ro. 6:5).

Scholar of comparative religion S.G.F. Brandon said it best:

…the image was that of a divine hero who had suffered and died, and then rose from the dead. Thus Osiris was not some remote transcendent deity such as Re, the sun god, but one who had endured the grim ordeal that awaited all men. In his image, moreover, the Egyptian devotees saw also the promise of their own resurrection from death and eternal life in the realm of Osiris. Phenomenologically, if not historically, Osiris was thus a prototype of Christ (S.G.F. Brandon, “Man, Myth & Magic,” pp. 1939-40).

I did, I said that.

I did, I said that.

So, here’s the long and short of it: If you take 1 gal Egyptian religion, add 2 Tbsp Greek mythology and 1 oz Judaism, shake, stir, do the Ickey Shuffle, place in oven, bake at 420 degrees for 15 minutes, remove contents, let settle and cool, shuffle a bit more, then serve, you get this:

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I am just beside myself.

Forget Zeitgeist. History tells a far more compelling story.

For more details concerning the resurrections of Attis and Osiris, see Addendum to Article over at Atheologica.