Defending the Theistic View

Posts tagged “Attis

Zeitgeist Challenge Exposes Acharya S and Zeitgeist

Recently I wrote a short refutation of AcharyaS’ defence of Zeitgeist. For anyone who would like a better refutation, I am posting a video refutation which was produced by the webmasters of Zeitgeist Challenge which goes into better detail that I do.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


A Refutation of Acharya S’ defence of Zeitgeist

Introduction

Most probably, if you are familiar with the “Christ-Myth” hypothesis then you probably have heard of anti-Christian author Acharya S (whose real name is Dorthy M. Murdock.) She was one of the main sources for the first part of Zeitgeist, the Movie as can be seen by the sources in the film’s transcript. She is the author of many books entitles The Christ Conspiracy and Sons of God. Much of her arguments can be accessed on her website Truth Be Known.

zeitgeistIn a YouTube Video she takes it upon herself to “respond” to the debunking of Zeitgeist.  She then says that despite claims that Zeitgeist, Part one has been debunked “the facts continue to to demonstrate otherwise.” The then complains that many of the refutations of the film have been directed largely at her. I cannot speak for all the other debunkers of Zeitgeist, but my fourteen part refutation of Zeitgeist doesn’t mention her even once. Also, my personal investigation of the facts has lead me to the conclusion that Zeitgeist is rooted in false claims.

Next Ms. Murdock makes the claim that the “detractors” whether theist or atheist didn’t study her work. — This claim is false. — R. G. Price, an Atheist who read her book Suns of God is very critical of her works calling it “bogus.” (See Critical Reviewof Acharya S’ The Suns of God). Also, Christian Apologist Mike Licona, who read her other book entitled The Christ Conspiracy effectively shows many flaws in her works. (Click here and here)

Ms. Murdock then makes the claim that her claims presented in Zeitgeist are not available to us because of the dangers in the past of losing their lives. She also claims that there is “deliberate censorship” of the facts by many encyclopedias. This is a quite an excuse she uses to inoculate herself against any independent research that refutes her. She is basically saying “Any investigation you do will not matter because I know more than you. So uncrittically take my word for it.” — If what she says were true, then at the very least there shouldn’t be any information in the sources that contradict her. But my investigation of Zeitgeist shows there are tons of contradictory evidences so her point is completely false.

To help make her point, she shows pictures of the inquisition while claiming that is why a lot of evidence has been silenced. The problem is that even if the inquisition silenced information about Pagan European gods, in her books she includes Oriental gods such as Krishna and Buddha on her list of Christ-like gods. — The truth is the inquisition didn’t reach all the way to India, China and Japan so according to her logic there should be an abundant amount of information which backs her up in this case, but there isn’t any.

Attis and Jesus

She then goes into certain paralels between Pagan gods and Jesus. As an example she mentions the god Attis. — To prove her point of a parallel she cites Professor A.T. Fear who contributed a chapter to the book entitled Attis and Related Cults. She claims that in the chapter entitled “Cybele and Christ” Professor Fear claims that Attis was killed and resurrected after three days during a celebration that depicts his resurrection out of a tomb.

As far as her claim claim goes, it is true (page 39) however the problem here is that Professor A.T. Fear, in the long run, does not support what Ms. Murdock is claiming. The ceremony that Dr. Fear describes is from a major festival of the metroac cult. But later he points out that this very cult had gone through changes which could have been “a deliberate attempt to rival Christianity” to ensure the cult’s survival in the market. (Page 44)

As a matter of fact, about the resurrection of Attis he says,

Attis too with his strong emphasis on resurrection seems to be a late-comer to the cult, the stress on the Halaria as celebrating the resurrection of Attis also appears to increase at the beginning of the Fourth century AD. : the same time as in the taurobolium towards the rite of personal redemption.

While these changes could simply be a mutation of religion over time, and it is important to remember that here we are discussing a period of centuries not merely years, they do seem to have been provoked by a need to respond to the challenge of Christianity. (Attis and Related Cults, pages 41, 42)

Dr. Fear does question whether the process of changing the Attis cult was conscious, but he never even implies that Jesus was influenced by Attis. He says that the Attis cult either mutated or that it responded to Christianity. — This completely contradicts what Ms. Murdock claims that he wrote. She misrepresented his views. Dr. Fear is implying that Christianity may have influenced Attis, not the other way around, if indeed one influenced the other. — Why didn’t she mention this? Obviously because it would have demolished her point.

The Day of Halaria, the Day of Joy of the festival (on March 25th) mentioned by Ms. Murdock in relationship to Attis’ “resurrection” was actually a post-Christian addition which was added to the festival either during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius or even later. This means the earliest the  “resurrection” day was added is the year 138 AD.  Also, the “three days of mourning” of Attis’ death were added by the Emperor Claudius between who reigned between 41 and 54 AD. (Text link) All of these days of the festival being post-Christian, this fact refutes Ms. Murdock’s insinuation that the festival of Attis’ “resurrection” influenced Christianity.

Krishna born of a virgin?

Next, she mentions Krishna and repeats the claim that his mother, Devaki, was a virgin. She defends the claim saying that it is only not widely known and on that ground alone is considered to therefore be wrong. She then quotes Philo of Alexandria (a Jewish historian) to prove her point.  Assuming that the reference attributed does exist (I cannot find it) I still do not buy into the idea that we should depend on him so heavily on a subject that, chances are, he would not have known so mush about.

Unlike Ms. Murdock’s claims, the idea of Devaki’s virginity at Krishna’s birth is not assumed false because it is mostly unknown. I call the claim false because it contradicts basic Hindu tradition! Krishna was the youngest of a total of eight children that his mother had. (click here) So the fact is that there is no chance his mother was a virgin.

Is December 25th relevant?

Ms. Murdock goes on to mention that Christian apologists (like me) dismiss December 25th as being irrelevant to Christianity. But then she argues,

However, since the fourth century when this winter solstice celebration was designated as Christ’s birthday hundreds of millions of people have been taught that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth. And hundreds of millions continue to celebrate that date every year. Indeed, Christian preachers today still insist that Jesus Christ is “the reason for the season.”  Furthermore, in 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed house resolution 847 officially declaring December 25thto be the Birthday of Jesus Christ. Raising up this issue about the birthday of the Sun (S-U-N) is therefore entirely legitimate.

This argument is one that no intellectually honest person would ever give. Ms. Murdock apparently thinks that because Christians started to celebrate Christmas on December 25th in the 4th century AD and because the U.S. Congress officially declared it in 2007 that this makes the date relevant to the origins of Christianity. — The problem with her logic is obvious: If the practices indeed date so long after Christ, then they are irrelevant to Christ and Christianity, period!

The date of December 25thas Christ’s birthday is also completely contradictory of the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth. Luke 2: 8 says that during the night of Jesus’ birth shepherds were out in the fields. This would not be so if Jesus were born in the winter. This is proof beyond the shaddow of a doubt that the date hase no relevancy and later practices  which Ms. Murdock appeals to cannot change this fact.

After this she says that when Christians say that this date is not Christ’s birthday that we prove her point that Jesus is not the reason for the season. — This shows that Murdock has no understanding of why Christians celebrate Christmas at all. It’s not the date that’s important, but the event.

The Three Kings

Ms. Murdock brings up the subject of the “three kings” in the Gospel of Matthew. In arguing against claims that they are not numbered as three she points out the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. She argues that since there are three kinds of gifts that therefore there must be “three kings.”

Just because there were three kinds of gifts, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there were only three gifts and therefore only three magi. — There could have been five magi which gave the same three gifts. Or there could have been six. There are many ways that this can work out. Three so therefore three is just an irrelevant oversimplification.

She then tries to connect the three  stars in the belt of Orion with the “three” wise men. She says that “Christian tradition” calls the three stars “the magi.” — Notice she says that it is “Christian tradition.” In other words, later tradition which has no bearing on the origins of Christianity.

The truth is they are not called “kings” in Matthew, but rather “wise men” or “magi.” However, she misleadingly uses all three terms interchangeably to insinuate her point even though they cannot be used as such. (For a good discussion, click here)

Conclusion

Basically, her defence of Zeitgeist is just a rehashing of refuted claims and, in many ways, is a defence of herself (which I do not see the point in answering.) Even though she claims that the facts have not refuted Zeitgeist, there is no reason to accept her claim. The fact is that most of the claimed parallels between Jesus and other gods are superficial or false.

Her claims that many of her critics have not studies her writtings are also wrong, as earlier I have linked crituiques of skeptics of her books, both a theist and and atheist.

Her further claims that the information that backs her up is hidden and censured seems like an attempt to neutralize any research by both real experts and laymen which falsifies her far-fetched claims. When I hear her say that, what I really hear is “Don’t ask questions or worry about the facts. Just believe me.” And unfortunately, that’s what her gullible disciples do.


The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 2

The film Zeitgeist begins with list of pagan gods such Horus, Attis, Krishna, Dionysus and Mithra. It goes through the list of details associated with Jesus Christ and then applies them to these pagan gods in order to create the impression that Christianity is only a copycat religion. However, viewers (whether believers or skeptics) should watch this film with the realization that there is an agenda behind it. — And I advise anyone reading this to do the same with what I am about to say as well.

So far, on the part of the film, claims of being academically are false, as seen in the case of the parallels between Horus and Jesus. — But it goes on to the next pagan deity, Attis, and makes similar claims about him saying,

Attis, of Phyrigia, born of the virgin Nana on December 25th, crucified, placed in a tomb and after 3 days, was resurrected.

Before going into detail, I want to emphesize that December 25th has no theological significance to Christianity. It is not mentioned in the Bible as Jesus’ birth date. The date was adopted in 350 AD by Bishop Julius I, too late a date to have any relevance to Christian origins.

The story of Attis begins when Agdistis, a hermaphroditic demon with male and female sex organs, gets castrated by gods that feared him. They disposed of his organ, and an almond tree grew where it landed. — Pausanias, the second century Greek writer, says:

There grew up from it an almond-tree with its fruit ripe, and a daughter of the river Sangarius [Nana, Attis’ mother], they say, took of the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child. A boy was born, and exposed, but was tended by a he-goat. As he grew up his beauty was more than human, and Agdistis fell in love with him. (Description of Greece 7, 17, 11)

After Attis’s birth, Nana’s father ordered the child exposed so that he would die, but fortunately he was saved by the goddess Cybele and was mothered by a she-goat. Attis grew to manhood and was so handsome in appearance that Agdistis and/or Cybele, the mother of the gods, fell in love with him.

When Attis was sent to marry the daughter of the king of Pessinos, Agdistis drove Attis insane to the point of castrating himself so that nobody else could have him. When Agdistis saw Attis’ dead body, he repented of driving him insane and made sure that his body didn’t decay. He was then reborn as an evergreen pine tree, as recounted by Strabo the historian. — In other versions, Cybele, who was jealous and refused to take Attis back, got sexually involved with women, and this drove Attis insane and he mutilated himself under a pine tree where he died. — Pausanias points out one tradition in which Attis is killed by a boar. (Description of Greece 7, 17, 10)

There is no indication that Nana, Attis’ mother, was a virgin when her son was born, though she could have been since there is no reason to believe she wasn’t. As for his death, he was either castrated, or his has gored by a wild bore. He was not crucified.

The claim that Attis was dead for three days and later resurrected seems to have its roots in the Magna Mater’s Spring Festival which lasted from the 15th of March until the 27th. — On the eighth say of the festival, a pine tree which symbolized Attis was cut down, and this was followed by three days of mourning. On the tenth day, he was burried, and then on the so-called Halaria, or the “Day of Joy” was on the eleventh day. This is cited as the resurrection day.

A.T. Fear, who contributed a chapter to the book entitled Attis and Related Cults and wrote about this very same festival, points out in the chapter entitled “Cybele and Christ“ does seem to confirm the claims that that Jesus may have been copied from Attis because of a similar claim that he was killed and resurrected after three days during a celebration that depicts his resurrection out of a tomb. (Page 39) — But there is a major problem. The ceremony that Dr. Fear describes is from a major festival of the metroac cult. But later he points out that this very cult had gone through changes which could have been “a deliberate attempt to rival Christianity” to ensure the cult’s survival in the market. (Page 44) — As a matter of fact, about the resurrection of Attis he says,

Attis too with his strong emphasis on resurrection seems to be a late-comer to the cult, the stress on the Halaria as celebrating the resurrection of Attis also appears to increase at the beginning of the Fourth century AD.: the same time as in the taurobolium towards the rite of personal redemption.

While these changes could simply be a mutation of religion over time, and it is important to remember that here we are discussing a period of centuries not merely years, they do seem to have been provoked by a need to respond to the challenge of Christianity. (Attis and Related Cults, pages 41, 42)

Dr. Fear does question whether the process of changing the Attis cult was conscious, but he never even implies that Jesus was influenced by Attis. He says that the Attis cult either mutated or that it responded to Christianity. He also dates the celebration of Attis’ “resurrection” to the fourth century AD!

To be fair, there is one possible earlier date for the apparent resurrection of Attis, but it is not much better for those that want Jesus to have been copied from Attis. — According to this other reconstruction, the three days of mourning were introduced during Emperor Claudius’ reign which was from 41 to 54 AD. Also, the apparent resurrection day was was introduced during the reign of Antoninus Pius, between 130 to 161 AD. The obvious problem with supposing that this was an inspiration for Christianity was that these aspects of the festival are post-Christian. So either way, both possible scenarios have it as too late to have affected Christianity.

So, my conclusion here is that Zeitgeist’s claims about Attis are only marginally better that those made about Horus. It cannot be said definitively that Attis was born of a virgin because it is not specified whether or not his mother was. His death in both versions of his life differ from the crucifixion of Jesus, and the three day death and resurrection of Attis are from the post-Christian era, not from before as would be expected if Christianity were influence by the Attis cult. — Academic correctness on Peter Joseph’s part (the producer of Zeitgeist) seems to be secondary to his anti-Christian agenda.

References:
The History of Christmas from holidays.net
Description of Greece 7, 17, 11, Pausanias
CATULLUS. “ATTIS” (#63)
Attis — From AbsoluteAstronomy.com
Description of Greece 7, 17, 10. Pausanias
The Great Mother from Asia Minor to Rome. From Mythology.OurGardenPath.com
Attis and Related Cults, pages 39 to 42. — Attis and Christ, by A.T. Fear