Defending the Theistic View

Posts tagged “Pagan

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


The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 10

After Zeitgeist makes the claim that the childhood story of Moses is a plagiarized piece of pagan lit (a claim refuted here) it goes on to make further accusations of plagiarism about Moses attacking the Biblical account of the Ten Commandments as an imitation of other similar stories in ancient paganism. — It claims,

Moses is known as the Law Giver, the giver of the Ten Commandments, the Mosaic Law. However, the idea of a Law being passed from God to a prophet on a mountain is also a very old motif. Moses is just a law giver in a long line of law givers in mythological history. In India, Manou was the great law giver. In Crete, Minos ascended Mount Dicta, where Zeus gave him the sacred laws. While in Egypt there was Mises, who carried stone tablets and upon them the laws of god were written.

moses1After saying this, Zeitgeist lists the names of the lawgivers to create the impression that they were all copied from each other:“Manou, Minos, Mises, Moses.”— It places Mises right before Moses for obvious reasons: They sound pretty similar.

Beginning with the first law giver listed, Manou — It seems to me that Zeitgeist is giving an alternative spelling for Manu, the Hindu law giver to whom the Laws of Manu are ascribed to traditionally.

However, one need not look far to find how any case of Moses copying the story of Manu comes crashing down.

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia,

They [the Laws of Manu] were compiled, probably between 200 BC and AD 200, from diverse ancient sources and provide detailed rules, presumably directed to Brahman priests, governing ritual and daily life. In particular they seek to validate and preserve the high caste position of the Brahmans. (Emphasis Mine)

The irrelevancy of this is obvious. Manu’s laws were compiled much too late to have any influence on Moses’ ten commandments. Moses wrote in the 15th century BC. — To be honest, there is scholarly debate as to when the Manu laws were published, but 200 BC is the date referred to the most. (Text Link)

As for the second law giver, Minos, the Greek Historian Diodorus Siculus (who wrote in the first century BC) describes the event of Minos receiving laws as when he conversed with Zeus in a cave. It so happens that the cave was on the slopes of Mount Ida. But that is where the similarities end.

According to Greek Mythology, Minos would go to the cave on Mount Ida every nine years so that his father, Zeus, would help him to draw up new laws. (Text Link) After his death, because he received laws from Zeus, he became a judge in the realm of Hades along with his brother. (Gods and Mortals in Classical Mythology, Page 281) — See the differences yet?

The problem with Zeitgeist’s connecting Minos and Moses is that gods and law giving are only expected in religions. The slightest similarity, despite the differences, does not indicate that one copied off the other. It’s actually expected and can easily be explained away as a coincidence.  — Zeitgeist also got the name of the mountain wrong. It mistakenly calls the mountain that Minos received laws from Mount Dicta.

As for the third law giver mentioned by Zeitgeist, Mises — I have not been able to find any reference to any Egyptian law giver with such a name. Every single search I made to a single reference to him has come up empty. Curiously, this is the man whose name Zeitgeist emphasised as being most like Moses.

Zeitgeist uses logical fallacy to attempt to tie Moses with these three law givers. The argument is “They received laws from gods . So did Moses. These religions pre-date Moses so this must mean Moses copied them.”— This fallacy is shown with the first law giver they mention. Manu was a Hindu law giver. Hinduism pre-dates Moses but apparently his laws post-date the Hebrew Bible and possibly the New Testament.

The last claim that Zeitgeist makes about Moses and the Ten Commandments is that they were taken from the book of the dead. It lists them and attempts to make te connection.

The Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead

The film comments,

And as far as the Ten Commandments, they are taken outright from Spell 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. What the Book of the Dead phrased “I have not stolen” became “Thou shall not steal,” “I have not killed” became “Thou shall not kill,” “I have not told lies” became “Thou shall not bare false witness” and so forth.

The passage in the Book of the Dead that Zeitgeist is referring to is called “the Declaration of Innocence.” As far as the quotes from the Book go, they are accurate. But the film is making a huge logical fallacy. It is arguing that because killing and stealing are both condemned in both the Book of the Dead and in the Ten Commandments that therefore Moses must have copied it. But any civilization would prohibit anything as basic as murder and theft.

On top of this, there are several declarations on innocence in this passage that have no resemblance to the Ten Commandments,

I have not taken milk from a child’s mouth, I have not driven small cattle from their herbage, I have not snared birds for the gods’ harpoon barbs, I have not caught fish of their lagoons, I have not stopped the flow of water in its seasons. I have not built a dam against flowing water, I have not quenched a fire in its time. I have not failed to observe the days for haunches of meat. I have not kept cattle away from the God’s property, I have not blocked the God at his processions.

Get my drift? — If this was Moses’ source for the Ten Commandments, we would expect to see something similar to what is listed here. Why didn’t Zeitgeist list any of these other sayings? Because it would have destroyed its case because there are a lot more differences than similarities between the Declaration of Innocence and the Ten Commandments.

In conclusion, the basis for Zeitgeist’s conclusions are based on logical fallacies as well as over simplifications. Apparently in its attempts to tie Moses’ law giving to Manu and Minos, the film makers never considered the fact that gods giving laws to their followers is really not so unusual. And it doesn’t help their case that the Laws of Manu are of very young origin when compared to the Bible.

The attempt to tie the Ten Commandments to the Book of the Dead, at least to me, comes across as a desperate try to link the Bible to Paganism. But its links are based on morality that is so basic that it really has no case.


The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 7

Zeitgeist, the Movie is heavily dependent on the idea that the Bible and Christianity have their roots in astrology and the Zodiac. — In “The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 6,” I debunked such claims that Jesus’ birth sequence was astrological and that the 12 disciples are representative of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac. Both claims are completely reliant on the “in-English-only” play on words that Jesus is a solar deity or sun god, in that “Son” of God it equivalent to “Sun” of God. The problem is that this doesn’t work in the Biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew so therefore is superficial.

Before actually attempting to further tie Jesus with the Zodiac, Zeitgeist claims,

The ancient Egyptians along with cultures long before them recognized that approximately every 2150 years the sunrise on the morning of the spring equinox would occur at a different sign of the Zodiac. This has to do with a slow angular wobble that the Earth maintains as it rotates on it’s axis. It is called a precession because the constellations go backwards, rather than through the normal yearly cycle.

The major problem here is that Zeitgeist gives the false  impression that the ancient Egyptians long understood the precession of the equinoxes. The truth is that the the Greek astronomer Hipparchus is credited as being the discoverer of  the precession of the equinoxes around the years 146 to 130 BC. (text link) — Also, the Zodiac in Egypt is not particularly ancient when compared to the civilization itself. The truth is that is was introduced from  both Babylon and Greece as late as the Greco-Roman period! (click here) From these facts it is obvious that the film makers didn’t do enough research.

The film next goes on to talk about other “astrological-astronomical metaphors” which it alleges are in the Bible. These metaphors are about the references to the “age” that are made in the Bible. To elaborate on this claim, Zeitgeist explains about the Zodiac ages,

The amount of time that it takes for the precession to go through all 12 signs is roughly 25,765 years. This is also called the “Great Year,” and ancient societies were very aware of this. They referred to each 2150 year period as an “age.” From 4300 b.c. to 2150 b.c., it was the Age of Taurus, the Bull. From 2150 b.c. to 1 a.d., it was the Age of Aries, the Ram, and from 1 a.d. to 2150 a.d. it is the Age of Pisces, the age we are still in to this day, and in and around 2150, we will enter the new age: the Age of Aquarius.

Since this particular claim itself is not wrong, so far there is no refutation needed. From this Zeitgeist simplifies how it interprets the Bible in order to make it fit into the Zodiac ages. The problem, however becomes that these interpretations are ludicrous.

Zeitgeist claims that the Bible shows symbolic movement through 3 ages and foreshadowsa fourth age. It then begins with an interpretation of Moses,

In the Old Testament when Moses comes down Mount Sinai with the 10 Commandments, he is very upset to see his people worshiping a golden bull calf. In fact, he shattered the stone tablets and instructed his people to kill each other in order to purify themselves. Most Biblical scholars would attribute this anger to the fact that the Israelites were worshiping a false idol, or something to that effect. The reality is that the golden bull is Taurus the Bull, and Moses represents the new Age of Aries the Ram. This is why Jews even today still blow the Ram’s horn. Moses represents the new Age of Aries, and upon the new age, everyone must shed the old age.

The claim Zeitgeist makes that the Golden Calf was Taurus the Bull has no support from the context in Exodus chapter 32. There is a much more plausible explanation as to what the Golden Calf represented. We have to take into account that at this point in time the Hebrews had just escaped Egyptian slavery. The Golden Calf is most likely the Egyptian god, Apis, the sacred bull of Memphis which is an incarnation of either Osiris or Ptah. (Source) — It goes without saying that an explanation from history is much more believable than a suggestion that has no support from the context.

The film claims that Moses was not truly angered at the fact that his people were worshiping a false god, but rather because he represents the Aries. — The fact is that this claim has absolutely no textual support. I would question if the film makers have even read the Biblical story because the context completely supports the idea that Moses’ anger was kindled by false worship. There is nothing in the entire story that suggests that Moses represents the Age of Aries or that he is the reason why Jews blow the rams horns. And if anyone would like to argue with me on this then I would tell them to read the Bible and see for themselves. Zeitgeist is simply inserting details in the text that just aren’t there.

It should be noted, as the film points out, that the Age of Aries had begun in 2150 BC. — According to Biblical dating, the Exodus happened in 1437 BC. It was 713 years way too late for Moses to  get angry that his people had not caught onto the “new age.”

Next, Zeitgeist attempts to connect the symbol of the Christian fish to the Zodiac,

Now Jesus is the figure who ushers in the age following Aries, the Age of Pisces the Two Fish. Fish symbolism is very abundant in the New Testament. Jesus feeds 5000 people with bread and “2 fish.” When he begins his ministry walking along Galilee, he befriends 2 fisherman, who follow him. And I think we’ve all seen the Jesus-fish on the backs of people’s cars. Little do they know what it actually means. It is a Pagan astrological symbolism for the Sun’s Kingdom during the Age of Pisces. Also, Jesus’ assumed birth date is essentially the start of this age.

The claim now is that the Christian fish is a symbol for the Age of Pisces which Zeitgeist is careful to mention is represented by “two fish.” — It then points out the miracle of Jesus feeding a crowd of 5,000 with bread and “two fish.” (Luke 9: 13, 14) — It’s careful to mention the number of fish but yet it neglects to mention the number of five loaves of bread because it has no parallel with the zodiac and throws off the symbolism.

The next alleged “parallel” with the Age of Pisces is that Jesus befriended “two fisherman,” — again, the reference to two fish. However this is faulty as well because even though it is true that Jesus befriended some fishermen, there weren’t just two. As a matter of fact there were a total of four fishermen listed among Jesus’ disciples, not two. (Mark 1: 16, 20). This difference in number is enough to refute the connection between them and Pisces.

Even though Zeitgeist implies that Christians lifted the fish from paganism, there are more internal reasons for the Christians to have adopted it. According to Mark 1: 17, Jesus commissioned his followers as “fishers of men.” — Also, in Greek, the word for fish (ΙΧΘΥΣ) is also an acronym for “Ιησους Χριστος Θεου Υιος Σωτηρ.” — In English this translates as “Jesus Christ, God’s Son is Savior.” — The symbol of the fish was used during the first centuries when Christians were being persecuted by the Romans. It is said that it was used by Christians in secret to identify other Christians. (Text Link) So the fact is that Christians had enough reasons to use a fish without any pagan influences, much less influence from the Zodiac.

Also, the attempt made by Zeitgeist to date Jesus’ birth to 1 AD (the first year of the Age of Pisces) is misguided. It is more likely that Jesus was born between 7 to 2 BC. So, close but no cigar. Jesus’ birth doesn’t mark be beginning of the new age.

Next, Zeitgeist tries to link a certain statement Jesus made in Luke 22: 10 to a fourth age of the Zodiac,

At Luke 22:10 when Jesus is asked by his disciples where the next passover will be after he is gone, Jesus replied: “Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water… follow him into the house where he entereth in.” This scripture is by far one of the most revealing of all the astrological references. The man bearing a pitcher of water is Aquarius, the water-bearer, who is always pictured as a man pouring out a pitcher of water. He represents the age after Pisces, and when the Sun (God’s Sun) leaves the Age of Pisces (Jesus), it will go into the House of Aquarius, as Aquarius follows Pisces in the precession of the equinoxes. Also Jesus is saying is that after the Age of Pisces will come the Age of Aquarius.

To anyone who has actually read the passage that Zeitgeist cites here to support a parallel between the New Testament and the Zodiac, it is clearly obvious that the film takes the Biblical passage completely out of context.

Zeitgeist claims that in this passage Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus where they will celebrate the Passover “after he is gone.” —  Even though the words “after he is gone” do not appear in the transcript of Zeitgeist, they are added in the film itself and therefore warrant a refutation. — The truth is that nowhere in the context (Luke 22: 7, 12) do the disciples ask about the next Passover “after he (Jesus) is gone.” As a matter of fact, they didn’t ask him anything. However in the separate account in Mark 14: 12, 15 the disciples do ask him where he wants to celebrate the Passover,  but nothing is mentioned about the next Passover after Jesus’ death. Zeitgeist is inserting details in the Biblical text that are not there.

As for the claim that the man with a pitcher of water is representative of the coming Age of Aquarius — This is completely taken out of context. Also, the suggestion that “Jesus is saying is that after the Age of Pisces will come the Age of Aquarius” is way off the charts of what the New Testament says. — Remember, Mark says that Jesus’ disciples asked him where he wanted to celebrate the Passover. If Jesus replied to their question in such a manner that Zeitgeist claims then that would have given his disciples lots of reason to say “Huh? We didn’t ask that.”

Also a man carrying a pitcher of water 2,000 years ago is way to generic to automatically assume a parallel with Aquarius. Before indoor plumbing, carrying water in pitchers was not unusual at all. Does it make sense to apply Zeitgeist’s logic to these cases and assume everyone who fetches water in a pitcher represents Aquarius? — No, I didn’t think so.

The last attempt that Zeitgeist tries to tie the New Testament to the Zodiac are the references it makes to “the age.”

Now, we have all heard about the end times and the end of the world. Apart from the cartoonish depictions in the Book of Revelation, the main source of this idea comes from Matthew 28:20, where Jesus says “I will be with you even to the end of the world.” However, in King James Version, “world” is a mistranslation, among many mistranslations. The actual word being used is “aeon”, which means “age.” “I will be with you even to the end of the age.” Which is true, as Jesus’ Solar Piscean personification will end when the Sun enters the Age of Aquarius. The entire concept of end times and the end of the world is a misinterpreted astrological allegory.

Zeitgeist claims that the King James Version of the Bible mistranslated Matthew 28: 20 the term “aeon” the Greek word for age as “world.” The film implies that Jesus is saying Jesus’ Age of Pisces ends as the Age of Aquarius begins and that therefore the idea of the “end of the world” is a “misinterpreted astrological allegory.”

— Actually, the term used is “αιων” which is pronounced “aion.” (Text Link) — It is true that the term means “age.” But contrary to the claims made by Zeitgeist, the term used in the passage  also means forever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, universe and even the worlds. So the fact is Matthew 28: 20 can be translated as “I am with you always, even to the end of the universe.” (Text Link)

— So much for the claim that Jesus was not talking about the actual end of the world. It is clear that just because the term “age” is used in the New Testament, that does not indicate that it is therefore referencing the Ages of the Zodiac. As a matter of fact, the Greek word for “age” is used in several contexts in the Bible where it would be ridiculous to suggest that the Zodiac is being referenced. (For example, Luke 1: 70 and 1 Corinthians 2: 6)

It is pretty obvious that the Film, Zeitgeist, as well as many other “Jesus-Mythers” are willing to tie any reference in the Bible of fish to Pisces, any Bull or calf to Taurus, or water to Aquarius no matter how ludicrous these “connections” are. No reputable scholar would ever make such weak connections between the Zodiac and the Bible.

Despite the fact that Zeitgeist makes the claim that the Bible “has more to do with astrology than anything else” — The Bible actually discredits Astrology and Stargazing as acts of Divination,

Surely they [astrologers and stargazers] are like stubble; the fire will burn them up.They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by. (Isaiah 47: 14 NIV)

Also the claim that Jesus is a Sun god is also can be dismissed due to the Judeo-Christian opposition of the worship of both the Sun and the constellation  which is shown in the Bible. — 2 Kings 23: 5 talks approvingly about Josiah, the King of Judah, who abolished such practices during his reign,

[Josiah] did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts.

Such passages are not what one would expect to find in a book that promoted astrology. Considering the fact that Judaism opposes Sun worship, it is not likely for  the first Christians (who were Jews themselves) to consider Jesus a god of the sun. Such a thing was against their religion. As I have mentioned before, the claims made by Zeitgeist that Jesus is the “Sun” of God which is a play on words with “son,” are moot because this only works in English. And the Bible was not written in English.

There is no evidence that Jesus was ever considered a solar deity or that Christianity is based on the worship of the sun. Likewise, the connections that Zeitgeist attempts to make between the Bible and the constellations of the Zodiac have no basis in what the Biblical passages it refers to actually say. Every single case is taken out of context to support a view that no competent historian or scholar would ever endorse.


The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 6

After Zeitgeist, the movie makes several easily disputed claims (which I have refuted) about how similar pagan gods are to Jesus the film then goes on to list attributes to Jesus and then attempts to show that he is astrological. The point of listing them is to show further on that Jesus is no different than Horus, Dionysus or Mithras.

jesus

As attributes of Jesus, Zeitgeist lists that he was born of the virgin Mary on December 25 in Bethlehem which event was announced by a star in the east. He was then visited by three kings who adored him, was a teacher at twelve years of age, baptized at thirty years, traveled and performed miracles, was betrayed by Judas for 30 silver pieces, was crucified, placed in a tomb tor three days and then resurrected.

The film also mentions he was called “Alpha and Omega,” “King of Kings,” and the “Lamb of God.

A lot of what is listed here is true, but several of the assumptions made in the film are based on popular assumptions that have no basis in fact. The movie then also makes the claim that Jesus’ birth is astrological.

After showing the alleged “similarities” between Jesus and pagan mythological deities the film then poses a question: “Why these attributes? Why the virgin birth on December 25th? Why dead for three days and the inevitable resurrection? Why twelve disciples or followers?”

Several of these questions in previous posts have already been shown to be moot since there is no evidence found that any of them were born on December 25th, were dead for three days nor even had twelve disciples. However it is necessary to point out that a lot of what Zeitgeist, the Movie says depends heavily on Jesus being born on December 25th. — If it can be shown that he was not, then a good 50% of its claims are irrelevant, though I still plan on going into them. The truth is the Gospel of Luke indicates that Jesus was born during any season but winter (much less December 25). Luke 2:8 mentions that the same night he was born shepherds were out in the fields caring for their flocks. If this were winter they would have been sheltered away from the elements.

However, not taking this fact into account, the film claims,

The birth sequence is completely astrological. The star in the east is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, which, on December 24th, aligns with the 3 brightest stars in Orion’s Belt. These 3 bright stars are called today what they were called in ancient times: The Three Kings. The Three Kings and the brightest star, Sirius, all point to the place of the sunrise on December 25th. This is why the Three Kings “follow” the star in the east, in order to locate the sunrise — the birth of the sun.

As I have just shown, Jesus was not born on December 25th, but there are details in this statement that have to be addressed. — It is true that Sirius is called the “star in the east” and that three stars in Orion’s belt are the “Three kings.” However it is not true that that’s what they were known as in ancient times. The earliest information available in which they are called the “Three Kings” is from the 17th century AD and is therefore about 1,700 years to late to be of any relevance. (Click here)

Even if they were known as such in ancient times it would still be irrelevant for two reasons: 1) They are called “magi,” not kings. And 2) Matthew (the Gospel that tells the story) never specifies their number. Also, it is untrue that Orion’s Belt and Sirius point to the sun’s travel route (Click here).

However it doesn’t stop here. Zeitgeist then claims that for three days when the sun reaches its lowest possible position in the sky it then stops moving or “at least perceivably so.” These three days are December 22, 23, and 24. Then on the 25th it apparently begins to rise again. Therefore it becomes the death of the “Sun” for three days and resurrection. The film then tries to tie this in withJesus’ death for three days and resurrection. However, there are problems with this: The earth always follows the elliptical orbit and therefore the sun doesn’t stop moving in the sky. (Click here)

Next, it claims,

During this three day pause, the sun resides in the vicinity of the Southern Cross, or Crux, constellation.

This claim which is to legitimize the Date of December 25th as Jesus’ day of birth is completely unfounded and its use of the southern cross to link it to Jesus’ death by placing the “Sun” in the vicinity of the constellation of the Southern Cross is factually inacurate. The fact of the matter is that the sun is in the vicinity of Saggitarius which has no significance at all to Christianity. For it to reside in the southern cross, our planet Earth would have to turn over by 40 degrees. (Click here)

There’s another fact that damages Zeitgeist’s case for linking the “Southern Cross” constellation (or the “Crux”) to the birth and death sequence of Jesus. Academics show  that the connection is impossible (click here),

Because it is not visible from most latitudes in the Northern hemisphere, Crux is a modern constellation and has no Greek or Roman myths associated with it. Crux was used by explorers of the southern hemisphere to point south since, unlike the north celestial pole, the south celestial pole is not marked by any bright star.

The “Southern Cross” constellation is a new discovery made in the 16th century AD and therefore cannot have anything to do with Jesus. — Zeitgeist gives the impression that the Southern Cross was well known in ancient times but that is known not to be the case.

Another claim the film makes is about the virgin Mary and the Constellation of Virgo,

The Virgin Mary is the constellation Virgo, also known as Virgo the Virgin. Virgo in Latin means virgin. The ancient glyph for Virgo is the altered “m”. This is why Mary along with other virgin mothers, such as Adonis’s mother Myrrha, or Buddha’s mother Maya begin with an M. Virgo is also referred to as the House of Bread, and the representation of Virgo is a virgin holding a sheaf of wheat. This House of Bread and its symbol of wheat represents August and September, the time of harvest. In turn, Bethlehem, in fact, literally translates to “house of bread”. Bethlehem is thus a reference to the constellation Virgo, a place in the sky, not on Earth.

It claims that Mary represents the constellation of Virgo because Virgo is Latin for virgin. It is true that Virgo means virgin, but it also means a maiden or a young girl. (Source) Also, it is far more likely that Virgo stands for Astraea, Zeus’ young virgin daughter who was chased away by the what she was offended by in the Bronze Age (Source) According to Greek Mythology, Zeus placed her among the stars and she became Virgo and, except for being a young virgin, has absolutely nothing in common with Mary.

The film here also indicates that Myrrha (Adonis’ mother) and Maya (Buddha’s mother) were virgins when their children were born and also ties them to Virgo. The problem is that this is not true. — Myrrha committed incest with her father and that her son was “conceived in sin.” (Text link) — Also as for Maya, she and her husband, King Suddhodhana, were married for twenty years when the soon-to-be Buddha was born so it is not likely for her to have been a virgin at his birth. (Source)

Also, the argument that the “M” like symbol for Virgo stands for Mary, Maya and Myrrha as virgins because their names start with M is moot because the film doesn’t take into account that Hebrew, Hindi and Greek do not use our Alphabet, though Greek is the closest.

Next, the film tries to tie Virgo to Bethlehem where Jesus was born saying that they both indicate “house of bread.” It is true that Bethlehem, in fact, does mean “house of bread,” (Bible Dictionary Vol. 8 Commentary Reference Series page 136) however there is no evidence that “Virgo” has any such meaning.

As for Jesus’ twelve disciples, Zeitgeist claims,

Now, probably the most obvious of all the astrological symbolism around Jesus regards the 12 disciples. They are simply the 12 constellations of the Zodiac, which Jesus, being the Sun, travels about with. In fact, the number 12 is replete throughout the Bible. This text has more to do with astrology than anything else.

The claim is that Jesus’ twelve disciples are the same at the twelve constellations of the Zodiac.  — All through the film Zeitgeist uses a play on words to connect Jesus to the Zodiac by saying that “‘Sun’ of God” is the same as “‘Son’ of God.” This is an attempt to show that Jesus is a solar deity (i.e., a Sun god.) Of course the hardest piece of evidence is this particular play on words which only works in English.

The trouble is that “SUN” and “SON” cannot be equated. In Hebrew “Son” is pronounced as ben and “sun” is shemesh. In Greek “son” is huios and “sun” is pronounced as helios. (Bible Dictionary Vol. 8 pgs. 1033-50) — Given that the two terms are only similar in English but not in the original Biblical languages, the most important piece of evidence that supposedly identifies Jesus as a Sun god and as the center of the Zodiac is superficial.

With these facts taken into account, it turns out that the number twelve is only a coincidence. The most likely reason why Jesus would have 12 disciples is because of the twelve tribes of Israel. — Also, as the film says, it is true that the number twelve is “replete throughout the Bible.” But so are many other numbers such as 3, 7, 30, and 40. There is no indication that 12 is any more sacred than the others.

Not satisfied with its distortions, the film mentions the cross and tries to link it to the Zodiac,

This is not a symbol of Christianity. It is a Pagan adaptation of the cross of the Zodiac. This is why Jesus in early occult art is always shown with his head on the cross, for Jesus is the Sun, the Sun of God, the Light of the World, the Risen Savior, who will “come again,” as it does every morning, the Glory of God who defends against the works of darkness, as he is “born again” every morning, and can be seen “coming in the clouds”, “up in Heaven”, with his “Crown of Thorns,” or, sun rays.

This claim is just as dependent on the falty assumption that “Sun = Son” as the last, so that detail needs no further refutation.

It is true that the cross is also a pagan symbol, but apparently what the film maker doesn’t know is that “all the historical examples of actual “Celtic Crosses” are from indisputably Christian contexts.” (Link) — Also, as pointed out by Steven Walker, a Celt,

Ironically, the Pagan Roots of the Celtic Cross is essentially a Christian legend in its development. It is only in the last quarter of the 20th century that the “Christians stole it” spin of the story has become widespread, promoted mainly by those who make no secret of their distrust of Christianity. But there is more irony yet. The negative version of the story is also spread by some Christians, who unaware of the Celtic Revival version, believe the Neo-Pagan version of the story as true and feel compelled to spread the alarm, lest their fellow Christians unwittingly offend God by use of a pagan symbol.

The film claims that because of the Zodiac, Jesus’ head in art depictions (like the one above) is on the cross with the sun in the back. — It is true that this circular shape was used by pagans before the Christians adopted it. For example, the Greeks used it to portray their gods (especially the Sun-god). After then, the Romans adopted it.

Besides the fact that this symbol of the Halo has nothing to do with the origins of Christianity, the first Christians found the symbol unattractive because of its pagan origins and therefore they did not use it. However they started to use it in art by the sixth century AD to depict, not just Jesus, but the virgin Mary and other saints. (After Jesus: The Triumph of Christianity, pg. 297)

Not only is the adoption of the halo in the 6th century too late to bear any relevancy to Christianity, I cannot find any reference that ties it to the Zodiac. Also, the claim that Zeitgeist makes that Jesus’ crown of thorns is a representation of “sun rays” has no real basis and hangs on a very thin thread.

To make a long story short, the supposed “evidence” that Zeitgeist, the Movie gives to show that Jesus is a solar Sun god that is based on the Zodiac is either superficial or completely incorrect. Since his evidence of Jesus representing the Zodiac is based of the superficial coincidence that “sun” and “son” are pronounced the same in English (but not in the original Biblical languages) there is no reason to believe that his 12 disciples are to be equated to the 12 constellations.

The claim that that Jesus’ birth sequence is only astrological is based on falty claims that any investigation  can refute. Since Jesus was not born on December 25, a lot of the arguments presented in Zeigeist (which are dependent on that date) are worthless. — The attempts to tie the Virgin Mary to the constellation Virgo are also flimsy at best. The film maker shows a lot of ignorance of the facts, too much to make a movie that supposedly refutes the origins of Christianity.


The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 5

The fifth pagan deity that Zeitgeist points out as a god much like Jesus was a very interesting one to look into, mostly because I ran into a brick wall while researching him. Unlike Horus, Dionysus, or even Krishna, there isn’t much information about Mithras. What information we do have about him is very imperfect and is based largely on educated guess work rather than on hard fact. However, it is not uncommon to find claims made about him on unreliable, unacademic conspiracy websites.

As for the claims made by Peter Joseph in Zeitgeist are,

Mithra, of Persia, born of a virgin on December 25th, he had 12 disciples and performed miracles, and upon his death was buried for 3 days and thus resurrected, he was also referred to as “The Truth,” “The Light,” and many others. Interestingly, the sacred day of worship of Mithra was Sunday.

Mithraism began to be practiced by Romans in the late first century A.D., but it didn’t enjoy widespread membership until the mid-second century A.D. — On the internet, I ran across claims about the existence of “mithraic scriptures,” but, in reality, there are no such known writtings. Being a “mystery religion,” there are no sacred writings of the cult like there are in other ancient religions such as Christianity, Hunduism and Buddhism. It is also doubtful that any such sacred texts ever existed.

mithras_bullThere exists the popular misconception that Christianity and Mithraism were in bitter competition for the heat and soul of the Roman empire. — This is not true! The truth is that the Roman cult of Mithraism only allowed men to join while excluding women. Christianity, being much more open to membership, was therefore at an advantage. Also, despite the fact that several Roman emperors were initiates in the cult of Mithras it was never instated as the official Roman religion.

The claim that Mithras was born on December 25th seems to be relevant, however as pointed out in previous posts, this date has no relevance to the origins of Christianity since it was in the forth century in which it was instituted. The claim that he was born of a virgin is false since he was born by being forced out of a rock. I guess someone could make the argument that a rock is a virgin, but to argue that is relevant is absurd. As for claims that Mithras performed miracles, this is too generic to be of any relevance since miracles are to be expected in theistic and polytheistic religion. — There is no reference I could find that shows him having twelve disciples. It’s important to consider that Mithras didn’t travel, so he would have had no traveling companions.

Zeitgeist’s claim that Mithras was dead for three days and then resurrected is demonstrably false. Mithras did not die, and therefore was not resurrected. He simply ascended to heaven in the Sun’s chariot after killing the bull. When in heaven, he has a meal with the Sun in which they eat the meat of the bull that he killed. — Since he was said to have killed the bull right before he ascended to heaven, there is therefore no time for him to have died and resurrected.

On the surface, the mithraic holy day being Sunday would seem relevant, but that goes without taking into account that Jesus and the first Christians were, in facts, Jews meaning they celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday rather than Sunday. To make matters worse, we really don’t know on what days Mithraic rituals took place, so this partucular claim really should not be made, despite its constant repetition. — Also, having been raised as a Seventh-Day Adventist, this objection is even less affective on me than on most other Christians.

In summary, the alleged similarities between Jesus and Mithras as mentioned by Zeitgeist are mostly false. But even if the parallels were real, they would still be fail to demonstrate causation . . . due to to the time when Mithraism appears in the Roman empire. The Encyclopedia Britannica says,

There is little notice of the Persian god in the Roman world until the beginning of the 2nd century, but, from the year AD 136 onward, there are hundreds of dedicatory inscriptions to Mithra. This renewal of interest is not easily explained. The most plausible hypothesis seems to be that Roman Mithraism was practically a new creation, wrought by a religious genius who may have lived as late as c. AD 100 and who gave the old traditional Persian ceremonies a new Platonic interpretation that enabled Mithraism to become acceptable to the Roman world.

And as a final word, it has been suggested from this that rather than Christianity borrowing from Mithraism, the borrowing may have been the reverse. However, others suppose that neither religion borrowed from the other, prefering the possibility that the similarities that do exist between Christianity and Mithraism may be explained as having their origins in the Greco-Oriental mindset of the time. Either hypothesis is prefered, Zeitgeist’s implication that Jesus was an imitation of Mithras is less supported then it supposes. One pagan researcher (not a Christian apologist) I’ve read on this subject concludes, “Did Christianity steal from Mithraism? Most definitely not.”

References:
The Catholic Encyclopedia Mithraism.
Mithraism
Mithra & Mithraism: The Legend of Mithras
What Mithraism Isn’t
Encyclopedia Britannica, Mithraism.
The Cult of Mithras. UNRV History.

Further Reading:
Epologetics: Debunking the Jesus-Mithra Myth
Was the story of Jesus stolen from that of the Persian deity Mithra?, by J.P. Holding
Mithras: Mithraism and Christianity from SkepticWiki


The Myth of Jesus: A Refutation of the Zeitgeist — Part 4

In this blog I have been investigating the claims made by the film Zeitgeist that Jesus Christ is mearly an imitation of several other pagan gods that pre-date Christianity. However, so far I have investigated the first three of the five deities listed such as Horus, Attis, and Krishna and so far these claims have turned out to be bogus. This shows that the claim the film makes about wanting to be academically correct is just empty words.

dyonisus-wineNext up, the film then goes into a description of the Greek God, Dionysus. First, the film claims that Dionysus was born of a virgin on December 25th, performed miracles, was known as the “King of kings,” and the “Alpha and Omega.” And it also says he was resurrected after his death.

Dionysus was God of wine and the fertility of nature. He was also the son of the the greek god Zeus and the mortal woman Semele. — He was also said to be “twice born” because after his mother had been destroyed by Zeus’ thunder and lightning, Zeus rescued him from his mother’s ashes and sewed him into his thigh until the time had come for him to be born.

According the the Encyclopedia of Mythica,

Because Zeus slept with Semele secretly, Hera [Zeus’ wife] only found out about the affair after the girl was pregnant [with Dionysus]. (Brackets mine, Emphasise mine)

The bottom line: Semele was not a virgin when Dionysus was conceived, therefore showing yet more intellectual dishonesty on the part of the film makers. Also, I have found no evidence that December 25 is the date of Dionysus’ birth or that it had any importance to him. — Not that it matters because that date has no significance to Christianity.

As for miracles, I have found none. That’s not to say that there aren’t any cases. But even if there were it would not mattar because, as I have said before on another post, miracles are a given and are expected of any divine being.

There are those that attempt to tie Jesus’ miracle of turning water to wine to Dionysus because the latter was known as the god of wine to the Greeks. (John 2: 1, 11) However, as far as I can tell, Dionysus didn’t turn water into wine though he was a wine-maker. He was, however, the god that showed mortal man how to make wine among other things.

I cannot confirm or deny that Dionysus was called either “king of kings” or the “Alpha and the omega.” — Considering that Zeus, not Dionysus was the king of the gods, I imagine that Zeus would be more likely to have been called the former. (Text Link) However,  I cannot even find that title of “king of kings” for Zeus either. But certainly if Dionysus had usurped such a title I would wonder why Zeus didn’t kill him off to protect his authority.

As for the death and resurrection of Dionysus (click here),

Hera had the newborn Dionysus killed by a couple of Titan assassins who tore him to bits, even though he kept trying to escape them by changing forms to hide from them. When he died a pomegranate tree began to grow where his blood had fallen. Disconcerted by this, the Titans decided to be on the safe side and  boil the pieces of his body in a great cauldron.

Luckily he was resurrected by his grandmother (though in some accounts it was by his half sister, Athena) and was entrusted to the goddess Persephone for safekeeping.

So even though it is true that there is a death and resurrection, as usual the details are way to different for one to conclude that this had any influence on Christianity and the Passion of Christ. The Myth of Jesus, as proposed by Zeitgeist seems to be falling for the logical fallacy that since there is death and resurrection in both stories then therefore one had to have copied the other. However this is due to disregarding the vast differences between the two. — Dionysus was murdered when he was a newborn , his body was then dismembered and boiled — A very different story than that of Jesus.

The only other death and resurrection account is that “according to tradition, Dionysus died each winter and was reborn in the spring.” (Click here) From all this evidence it seems that all the claims that Jesus is a copycat of Dionysus is unfounded on the wishfull thinking of Athiests that are willing to go to any lenghths to prove that Christianity and the story of Jesus are not true. Unfortunately for them I actually check my facts.


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