What Would that Carpenter Do?
by Noah Mann-Engel
Have you ever had an argument with a Christian?
Don’t worry! This essay is not about specific opinions held by believers and nonbelievers, but an examination of how believers choose to view and argue matters with the latter. I, unfortunately, have and let me tell you it is not a fun experience. First of all one needs to understand that for the Christian (or Jew, or Muslim, or Hindu or Satanist, etc.) an argument with a nonbeliever is in actuality not an argument at all, but a TEACHING opportunity. Their thought process is as follows; if, a nonbeliever, [you] have the temerity to approach [me] a Christian then you must be seeking the truth of [our] Lord. Why would they want anything else from [me]? This is the first, or, “Jesus be praised a soul to save!” stage.
They have already disregarded and ignored your actually intentions and views before you even share them. They now move on to the “sharing the truth of our Lord” stage where they let you talk for a bit while they stare, smile, and nod pleasantly. This is the second, or, “I am your Christian friend and I listen” stage of the argument. This is where you quote Nietzsche, talk about the logical loopholes in Pascal’s Wager, wield Occam’s Razor like a katana, and just generally use your reasoning skills. You start to feel a little good yourself for holding up so well against this Christian fellow. I mean come one! The guy is even smiling in response to your argument! Little do you know that you are now entering the third stage of the Christian argument process: the “that is nice, but why are you so deluded?” stage.
You see, while he/she was standing there nodding like a hula dancer bobble-head doll, your Christian was actually puzzling over the strange noises you were making about something or another… Why isn’t the nonbeliever shutting up and getting excited about hearing the word of our Lord? Your Christian friend begins his/her argument by praising your intellect.. Example, he/she might try to disarm you with kindness by saying something like this: “Wow! You sure are a smart fellow. I wasn’t quite prepared for THAT (chuckles in a self deprecating way). But (and THIS is where the fun really begins), why don’t you believe in god?” This is where you sit in stunned silence for a moment or two. Did this whack-job really just ask you that? YOU JUST TOLD HIM WHY you didn’t believe, you think to yourself. You politely remind the Christian of this fact, and he/she chuckles again before suddenly entering the fourth stage, the “I would be a hooker/drug addict/homeless person without Christ” stage.
This stage is rather boring, and consists of the Christian telling you how he thinks his belief in a dead carpenter saved him from his raging meth addiction. After relating this riveting story to you the Christian poses a question that he/she thinks will really get you in a bind! He/she asks “So, how would I get over all of these terrible problems if their wasn’t a god? eh, eh, EH?” This is when you smile and say to yourself “oh I’ve got him/her now”. But, sadly, your optimism is grossly misplaced. You begin by saying that all the good things that happened to the Christian could also be explained by personal strength, the help of friends and family, and perseverance. God need not enter the equation at all! Now feeling very good about yourself you unwittingly enter the deadly fifth stage of the Christian’s argument: the “But the Love and the Heart” stage.
It starts when you ask your Christian friend “isn’t it true what I said? You DID get through your troubles by yourself. You only added god because you WANTED him to be involved”. But alas, you have just sprung the trap. Your Christian friend grins and replies with a question of his/her own; “But, what about the Love and the Heart?” You pause. You think that maybe you misheard your Christian friend. So ask them to repeat him/herself. He/she gladly complies. “All I meant was there has to be a god because of the Love, and the HEART! (chuckles)” This is the point where you realized that you just wasted 15 minutes of your precious time. You feign a smile and say “we just have to agree to disagree” and that it was nice talking. Your Christian friend thus enters the sixth and final stage of the argument: the “That’s great! Hey! I have an idea! Why don’t you come down to our church sometime?” stage. The Christian gives you some colorful literature on their church, their beliefs, and of course an anti-abortion pamphlet. The Christian then shakes your hand, and walks away to find his/her next soul to save. You are left feeling a little used, a little amused, and very hungry. You get up, and head over to the vending machine to get a Milky Way bar.
(this essay is based on a real conversation I had with a evangelical Christian in my sophomore year at Northern Illinois University)
(Noah Mann-Engel is a poet and writer from Dekalb Illinois. He is a life long atheist who with aspergers, an autistic spectrum disorder. You can see some of his writing in the upcoming summer editions of Fighting Chance magazine, Love’s Chance magazine, and in the American Scholastic Press Association honored spring 2007 edition of The Prairie Light Review. He is also in the process of writing his first novel.)
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The Jesus Fraud
By Joel Guttormson
The Jesus Fraud is a book I am in the process of writing. In it, I intend to show, quite definitively, that the New Testament character of Jesus Christ is a composite character that most probably did not exist in the flesh, and thus, not a historical person. I use the term “most probably” because I am open to new evidences and findings, as rational and scientifically minded people should be. Therefore, I encourage all who read this, and the eventual volume to follow, to challenge me on my points, and to check my facts and evidence. It should be observed, that if no objection or refutation can be brought against my arguments, points, and evidence that would cause such a degree of reasonable doubt as to reconsider the position completely, then it should stand as the most likely account of the character of Jesus Christ. I intend to take into consideration those objections that deal merely with faith, and faith alone. Further, I intend to take into consideration the evidence that is claimed to exist for Jesus Christ’s historicity. I then intend to show the evidence against the historicity of Jesus Christ and that this evidence is not only abundant but also compelling. The intention of this abstract and info table is to engage in discussion those that disagree with me and to find further objections to my position as part of the research for this volume. Thus, herein my contact information has been made available at the conclusion of this abstract.
Argument 1: Jesus is a composite
It can be demonstrated that the myth and accompanying story of a dying-rising savior demigod is abundant in ancient societies throughout history and that Jesus fits the subsequent archetype of those stories that preceded ‘him’. Some of the civilizations that had this type of god included in their myths include, the Egyptians, Persians/Romans, Greeks, and Indians (India). From Egypt, we have Horus. The story of Horus is the oldest recorded story of a dying-rising savior, dating to around 3000BC. A summary of the Horus story is as follows: “Horus was born on December 25th of the virgin Isis-Meri . His birth was accompanied by a star in the east, which in turn, three kings followed to locate and adorn the new-born savior. At the age of 12, he was a prodigal child teacher, and at the age of 30, he was baptized by a figure known as Anup and thus began his ministry. Horus had 12 disciples he traveled about with, performing miracles such as healing the sick and walking on water. Horus was known by many gestural names such as The Truth, The Light, God’s Anointed Son, The Good Shepherd, The Lamb of God, and many others. After being betrayed by Typhon, Horus was crucified, buried for 3 days, and thus, resurrected1 ”. From Persia, and later taken up by the Romans, we have Mithras (Mythra) dating to 1200BC. The story of Mithras is as follows: “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 Mithras was Sunday1”. From Greece we have Dionysus dating to 500BC, whose story is as follows: “born of a virgin on December 25th, was a traveling teacher who performed miracles such as turning water into wine, he was referred to as the “King of Kings,” “God’s Only Begotten Son,” “The Alpha and Omega,” and many others, and upon his death, he was resurrected1”. Finally, from India, we have Krishna dated to 900BC, but the legend may be older, whose story is as follows: “born of the virgin Devaki with a star in the east signaling his coming, performed miracles with his disciples, and upon his death was resurrected1”. One will be quick to notice a few themes or details that run through all of these characters. Let us now compare these to the story of Jesus, first written no earlier than 70AD: “Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary on December 25th in Bethlehem, his birth was announced by a star in the east, which three kings or magi followed to locate and adorn the new savior. He was a child teacher at 12, at the age of 30 he was baptized by John the Baptist, and thus began his ministry. Jesus had 12 disciples which he traveled about with performing miracles such as healing the sick, walking on water, raising the dead, he was also known as the “King of Kings,” the “Son of God,” the “Light of the World,” the “Alpha and Omega,” the “Lamb of God,” and many others. After being betrayed by his disciple Judas and sold for 30 pieces of silver, he was crucified, placed in a tomb and after 3 days was resurrected and ascended into Heaven1”. There is something in literature that is referred to as Lord Raglan’s Hero Pattern. It is a list of attributes, taken from the story of Oedipus, and is as follows: “1. Hero’s mother is a royal virgin; 2. His father is a king, and 3. Often a near relative of his mother, but 4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and 5. He is also reputed to be the son of a god. 6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather to kill him, but 7. He is spirited away, and 8. Reared by foster -parents in a far country. 9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but 10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future Kingdom. 11. After a victory over the king and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast, 12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor and
13. And becomes king. 14. For a time he reigns uneventfully and 15. Prescribes laws, but
16. Later he loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and 17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which 18. He meets with a mysterious death, 19. Often at the top of a hill, 20. His children, if any do not succeed him. 21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless 22. He has one or more holy sepulchres2”. Jesus gets 18/223 or 81%. Here it is sufficient to suspect this section by adding only that it is obvious that character of Jesus was not unique but may have originated independently, even by first century standards and thus, it is more likely that these characteristics were not inspired by a figure named Jesus.
Argument 2: Jesus is the SUN of god
From above, and from experience with Christianity, Jesus Christ is the supposed Son of God. The reality however, may be that he is not the Son of God but rather the Sun of God. I shall elaborate. “The cross of the Zodiac [is] one of the oldest conceptual images in human history. It reflects the sun as it figuratively passes through the 12 major constellations over the course of a year. It also reflects the 12 months of the year, the 4 seasons, and the solstices and equinoxes. The term Zodiac relates to the fact that constellations were anthropomorphized, or personified, as figures, or animals1.” The sun, in the cross of the Zodiac is in the middle of the cross, and as it travels with the 12 constellations through the months of the year, something strange happens around the time of the Winter Solstice. “The shortening of the days and the expiration of the crops when approaching the winter solstice symbolized the process of death to the ancients. It was the death of the Sun. By December 22nd, the Sun’s demise was fully realized, for the Sun, having moved south continually for 6 months, makes it to its lowest point in the sky. Here a curious thing occurs: the Sun stops moving south, at least perceivably, for 3 days. During this 3-day pause, the Sun resides in the vicinity of the Southern Cross, or Crux, constellation. In addition, after this time on December 25th, the Sun moves 1 degree, this time north, foreshadowing longer days, warmth, and Spring. And thus it was said: the Sun died on the cross, was dead for 3 days, only to be resurrected or born again1”. Here I would like to comment about the Southern Cross constellation. During this time the sun was cruxified, thus giving us, crucified. After which the sun dies, and rises after 3 days. Furthermore, it can be shown that the birth sequence is entirely due to astrology. Let us look at the main attributes of the Jesus story. First, we have Mary, the Virgin; next, we have the three kings or Magi that follow the Star in the East to locate and adorn the newborn savior. The astrology of this story is as follows: Mary is the constellation Virgo, alternatively known as Virgo the Virgin, Virgo in Latin means Virgin. Virgo is often referred to as the House of Bread, depicted by a Virgin holding a sheaf of wheat. Bethlehem in Hebrew literally translates to “House of Bread”. Thus, “Bethlehem is a reference to a place in the sky, not on Earth1”. Now, the three bright stars that comprise Orion’s Belt are called the Three Kings; the star in the east is Sirius, the brightest eastern star. On December 24th, the three stars of Orion’s Belt line up with the brightest star in the east, Sirius[TW11] . However, stars never change their position relative to one another, this arrangement results in the line-up of stars pointing to the site of the sunrise on December 25th. This is why the three kings follow the star in the east to find the sunrise, or, the birth of the sun. This is the reason that all the savior gods enumerated in Argument 1 have identical birth sequences. Now, what about the rising part? “[T]hey did not celebrate the resurrection of the Sun until the spring equinox, or Easter. This is because at the spring equinox, the Sun officially overpowers the evil darkness, as daytime thereafter becomes longer in duration than night, and the revitalizing conditions of spring emerge1”. Finally, there are things said, by Jesus, and elements in stories in the New Testament which point, not to a begotten Son of God, but rather an allegorical, anthropomorphized figure. For instance, when Jesus is said to feed the multitudes in Matt 14:17, he supposedly does so using two fish. The symbolism of the two fish is taken directly from the Zodiac. Pisces, or Pisces the Two Fish, is the age in which Jesus was supposed to have been born. To show this, we need only look to the New Testament again. Luke 22:8-10 “Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’ ‘ Where do you want us to prepare for it?’ they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you3”. Jesus, supposedly, is referring to the Age of Aquarius, represented as “The Water Bearer”, and as it happens, the Age of Aquarius immediately follows the Age of Pisces, starting around the year 2150AD1. Thus, it is easy to see that Jesus may be the Sun, but not the Son.
Argument 3: Lack of contemporary evidence
The final argument I shall present herein deals with the yet undeniable fact that there is not a shred of convincing documented evidence outside of the New Testament of the existence of Jesus Christ. Specifically, I am speaking of the Romans, who recorded nearly everything during their time in power. They were systematic and meticulous. Among the things that the Bible mentions that the Roman historians do not, is the slaughter of the innocence, also known as the flight to Egypt. It should also be noted about that particular tale, this it is taken directly from the book of Exodus. I shall now furnish a list to the reader of just the Roman historians that had an opportunity to write down an account of Jesus, if he existed. (The dates and number of historians is larger than it should be because I am giving the other side the benefit of the doubt.) Alus Perseus (60AD), Columella (1st Cent. AD), Dior Chrysostom (c. 40-c.112AD), Justus of Tiberius (c. 80AD), Livy (59BC-17AD), Lucan us (63AD), Locus Flours (1st-2nd Cent. AD), Petronius (d. 66AD), Phaedrus (20BC-50AD), Philemon (1st Cent. AD), Pliny the Elder (23?-69AD), Plutarch (c. 46-c.119AD), Pomponius Mela (40AD), Rufus Curtius (1st Cent. AD), Quintilian (c.35-c.100AD), Quintus Curtius (1st Cent. AD), Seneca (46?BC-65AD), Sillies Italics (c.25-101AD), Statius Calicoes (1st Cent. AD), Then of Smyrna (c.70-c.135AD), Galerius Floccus (1st Cent. AD), Galerius Maximums (c.20AD ). Again, the above make only the vaguest references Christ. Since Christ is nothing more than a title, in Greek Christ means “the anointed one”, and does not necessarily refer to Jesus. This brings us to the highly touted, Josephus Flavius. This Jewish historian was not even born until 37AD. Like some of the historians above, he lived when he could have recorded heresy, but did not. Josephus recorded events, many events, which are verifiable and verified. The passage that is cited by Christians as being written by him has in doubt and appears to be interpolation by later Christians such as Eusebius4”. Thus, there is most likely, no verifiable evidence of Jesus’ existence.
Conclusion of Summary
To conclude this summary, I need only offer the opportunity for those claiming Jesus to exist to falsify the information contained within this summary. As I continue my research on this topic, opposing theories and views can only help me, as it will expand my view and perspective on the subject. My contact info is listed below so you may continue to share your views with me if you wish. I would like to thank you for reading this and taking the time to engage in conversation on this topic. (As a matter of completeness, the bibliography contained herein does not reflect the totality of sources I shall be utilizing for the volume to follow.)
4. “Eusebian fabrications: the Testimonium Flavianum” Ken Olson. July 29, 2000.
3. International Bible Society. Bible Gateway. 27 April 2008. 27 April 2008 <http://www.biblegateway.com/>.
2. Sienkewicz, Professor Thomas J. Lord Raglan’s Hero Pattern. 31 August 2008 <http://department.monm.edu/classics/courses/clas230/mythdocuments/heropattern/default.htm>.
1. The Zeitgeist Movie. n.d