Excerpts from "Why You Don't Go to Church Anymore"

 

 

SAVIORS GALORE

 

            “The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Archaeology and history tell us that the Earth has had religions in every corner, at every time, and in hundreds of ways. There have been gods who spit fire, and saviors born of virgins. There are divine rocks and miraculous visions. Diversity galore.

In the Old Testament, there were myriad gods. They were local. They guided, protected, and punished the people who invented them, and those people only. You had your god for your town and I had mine. Which was the stronger, greater, better god? Look to see which town won its battles and which flourished more than the others.. Since gods support their people’s armies, whichever group was most victorious in war must have the most powerful god. Since they affect health, commerce, weather and everything else, if your town was flourishing you must have had a powerful god. This was true for thousands of years, right up until the end of the Old Testament. Apparently God didn’t mind that – the Ten Commandments didn’t admonish the Israelites not to follow other gods, but rather to make sure that they put the Hebrew god first.  Meanwhile, elements of the religions of these other gods worked their way into Judaism.

A second reason for overlap among religions is a little surprising. Times before us had no internet, no daily newspapers, no telephones; yet there was great mingling among the peoples of the globe. Cross-mixing came about when a merchant ship from abroad sailed into port, or when a wedding blended two families with different religious outlooks. There may have been no e-mail, but letters came and went from far away. Wars brought cultures face-to-face, and since the defeated were taken as captives, once the war was over there was much communication of religious ideas. The captured brought with them the gods they worshipped. Some bits of their religions slipped into the lore of the captors’ gods.

Christians believe their religion is different. Unlike other religions, it is not an amalgamation of the teachings of both older and contemporaneous religions: it’s unique. Christianity was given to the world straight from the mouth of God, and is not contaminated by details from other belief systems.

Christians are just plain wrong about this. Many of the most critical bits of Christian belief were taught before in other parts of the globe, from Greece, Rome, India, Egypt, and more. Christianity adopted as its own whatever its leaders liked from the other religions. Kersey Graves did extensive research and composed a book (“The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors”) dedicated solely to the demonstration of overlap between Judaism/Christianity and other religions.

Where is the overlap between the messiahs of early religions and Christianity?

Nearly all of them were born of an alliance between a human female virgin and a god. Examples include Plato, who was begotten by Apollo the god, rather than by Ariston his father. Zoroaster was born of an immaculate conception by a ray from Divine Reason. Juno was a virgin when she became pregnant after touching a flower (the offspring was the god Mars). Both Buddha and Krishna are reported as having been immaculately conceived. The virgin Shing-mon of China immaculately conceived the god Yu with the help of a water lily. Religious records from India, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mexico, and Tibet (among many other places) show obeisance to a virgin mother. Especially noteworthy is the fact that all of the mentioned myths and more were developed in the centuries before Jesus’ story. In other words, they came first. Jesus’ story was derivative of the earlier myths, not the other way around.

Here is a list of areas where remarkable overlap occurs:

  1. Their births, like Christ’s, were foretold by prophetic messengers

  2. Stars pointed out the time and place of the saviors’ birthplaces

  3. There were angels and magi at the birth

  4. Many of them claimed (as did Jesus) to be of royal descent but humble birth

  5. Their lives were threatened by the government

  6. Several of them gave early proof of divinity

  7. Several retired from the world for a spell and fasted, as Jesus did

  8. They said, as did Christ, “My kingdom is not of this world”

  9. Some were anointed with oil, like Jesus

  10. The saviors were real people who walked the Earth

  11. In some cases, the savior is part of a trinity

 

 

                                                        

 

 

 

                                                     Krishna

          

 

Let’s compare some more details of the stories of other saviors and Jesus. We’ll start with Krishna, a major deity in Hinduism (3228 B.C.E.) Some Christians believe it was not Krishna whose story set the stage for Jesus’ life, but the other way around. Nonsense – Krishna was born millennia before Jesus. Obviously, it was Jesus who adopted Krishna’s life, not Krishna adopting Jesus’. Some Christians recognize that Krishna’s life was the basis for Jesus, but assert that it’s a trick --Satan made Krishna live a nearly identical life to Jesus, but before him, in order to mislead and confuse people.  Talk about denial.

Here are the facts:

  1. In both cases, the mother was a virgin whose child was the offspring of a god.

  2. Both births were foretold by prophets.

  3. In both cases, an angel warned of impending doom.

  4. A bloody decree was issued, calling for the slaying of infants.

  5. The frightened parents fled.

  6. The ruler was hostile to the mission of the savior.

  7. A plan of salvation was provided for. In both cases, a savior was needed.

  8. Atoning for sins is a focal part of each religion, and a god or his son is selected as the sacrificial victim.

  9. The god was sent down from heaven in the form of a man.

  10. The savior is the second part of a trinity.

  11. Krishna, like Christ, is believed to be both fully man and fully god.

  12. Both came from royal descent but lived humbly.

  13. At birth, they were visited by wise men and shepherds. Those visitors followed a moving star to get there.

  14. Both had a famous incident of being separated from worried parents.

  15. Both had a retirement period in the wilderness.

  16. Both were called “Savior” and “Redeemer.”

  17. Both proclaimed “I am the resurrection.”

  18. Both were sinless.

  19. The mission of each was to deliver mankind from sin.

  20. Both demonstrated the godly act of forgiving people their sins.

  21. Both performed miracles, and for each one the first was curing a leper.

  22. They both cast out demons.

  23. They both raised the dead.

  24. They were noteworthy for being merciful. Each gave attention to a poor widow, and to a gentile woman at a well.

  25. A memorable last supper closed out the preaching careers of both.

  26. They both descended into hell.

  27. They were both raised from the dead.

  28. They both ascended into paradise in front of other people.

 

There are many more similarities. In fact, Kersey Graves counts 346 parallels between the two biographies.

 

More Gods with Similar Mythologies

Sakia Muni:           Another Hindu god whose life has many parallels to Christ is Sakia Muni.  Born of a virgin, in an act of mercy he left paradise and came down to Earth because he was filled with compassion for the sins and miseries of mankind. He sought to lead men onto better paths, and took their suffering upon himself. He told his followers that all sin is inevitably punished and that he would take on the suffering from sin by being crucified and descending into hell for three days. Sound familiar?

Quirinus of Rome:    Like Jesus, his birth was by a virgin. The reigning king wanted to kill him. He was crucified and the whole Earth was enveloped in darkness (true also of Jesus and Prometheus). Quirinus was resurrected and he ascended into paradise.

Prometheus of the Caucasus:    History provides details of the type of wood that was used to make the cross that Prometheus hung from. He is said to have exposed himself to the wrath of God in his zeal to save mankind. At the moment of his death the Earth shook and graves were opened. In the end, of course, Prometheus was resurrected.

More saviors than you’d guess were crucified. They include:  

  1. Thulis of Egypt, 1700 B.C.E.

  2. Crite of Chaldea, 1200 B.C.E.

  3. Krishna, as discussed above.1200 B.C.E.

  4. Atys of Phrygia, 1179 B.C.E.

  5. Thammuz of Syria, 1160 B.C.E.

  6. Hesus of the Celtic Druids, 834 B.C.E.

  7. Indra of Tibet, 725 B.C.E.

  8. Bali of Orissa, 725 B.C E.

  9. Lao of Nepal, 622 B.C.E.

  10. Alcestos of Euripides, 600 B.C.E.

  11. Mithra of Persia, 600 B.C.E.

  12. Sakia of Indra (described above), 600 B.C.E.

  13. Quexalcoate of Mexico, 687 B.C.E.

  14. Wittoba of the Telingous, 552 B.C.E.

  15. Prometheus of the Caucusus (described above), 547 B.C.E.

  16. Quirinus of Rome (mentioned above) 506 B.C.E.

 

For details of each god’s life and how his story parallels Christ’s, read Graves’ book.

Christianity is the second-newest religion on the planet (first is Islam). It built its story lines from whispers heard from other older religions. Christian tales of God and Jesus came from heathen sources.

All of this explains three questions about the historicity of Christianity:

  1. How were the stories of the Bible compiled? Who knew Jesus’ mother was a virgin? Who saw the Earth turn completely dark when he died? None of the New Testament writes  saw any of this happen. Christianity had to develop a story line in order to win converts. The first writer, Paul, author of Acts and the letters to various churches, did not write anything about Jesus’ life nor death; he did not develop a mythology. But after Paul came the gospel writers, and they built a cascade of detail about Jesus. The earliest gospel (Mark) contains very little mythology (it doesn’t even mention his appearances after death). Each gospel writer embellished the story until we see that by the writings of John the cast of characters and the highlights of the story were established.

  2. Now, the writers of the gospels could have simply made up the details of the Christ story, but that was unnecessary. Instead, they looked to the popular religions of the world and grabbed pieces of their tales and incorporated them into their new religion. They attributed to their god characteristics of other ones. This is the easiest way to create a religion: include whatever “facts” and tales that appeal to your sense of what a god should be like. Keep in mind that anyone who describes his god to others (which is the precise purpose of the Gospels) wants his god to be better than all the rest. Your god performs miracles? I’ll say mine does too. Your god is both human and divine? Mine too. If you want to persuade strangers that they should give up their gods and follow yours, yours had better be spectacular.

  3. One of the great mysteries long debated over the New Testament is why there is no evidence that Jesus ever lived. During Jesus’ life, Israel was occupied by Rome. Rome had a fascination with history and they recorded the events around them in great detail. The Romans in charge of cities and countries were required to send letters back to Rome detailing the events of the day. A historian named Josephus recorded Roman – Israeli history faithfully and in great detail. If Jesus had actually been wandering about healing people and raising the dead, Josephus would have written about it. He wrote about John the Baptist’s doings, after all. But Josephus wrote not a word about Jesus.This is understandable if the mythology of Christ was principally composed of pieces of the lives of other gods. Jesus need not have existed.

 

One of Christianity’s distinctive features is that God is held out to be three beings: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Well, it’s not actually that unusual a claim. A thousand years before Christ arrived, the Hindu Paranas (their primary religious text) read: "O you three Lords,” said Attencion, “know that I recognize only one god. Inform me, therefore, which is the true divinity, that I may address to him alone my vows and adorations.” The three gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, became manifest to him and replied, “Learn, O devotee, that there is no real distinction between us. What to you appears such is only by semblance. The single being appears under three forms … but he is one.”

Plato also believed in a tripartite god. Though he lived 500 years earlier than Jesus, Plato’s terms are in strict conformity with those of Christianity: (1) Agathon, the supreme god or father; (2) the Logos, which means “word” (a term given to Christ -- John 1:1),   and (3) Psyche, which means soul, spirit or Ghost.

Humans classify old dead religions as myths, while those of the modern day are true (or at least one is), Believers in Christianity have no trouble assigning the word “myth” to other people’s religions. Why is it not obvious to them that Christianity falls into the same category? Moreover, Christians have no trouble dismissing personal, impactful religious experiences of other faiths. What makes Christianity exempt from such critique? Why are their spiritual moments the only ones that count?

What has become of Sutekh, once the high goddess of the whole Nile valley?  What has become of Mars, Baal, Astarte, Isis, Dagda, Lleu, Vesta, Sokk-mimi, Marduk, Ceros, Bau, Sirtumu, Zagaga, Nusku, Beltis, Vediovis, Memetona, Morrigu, Amon-Re, Belus and hundreds of others? They were gods of high standing and dignity – the gods of civilized peoples.  They were worshipped and believed in by millions. All were theoretically omnipotent, omniscient, and immortal. And all are dead.

Salman Rushdie put it well:

             “As human knowledge has grown, it has also become plain that every religious story ever told about how we got here is quite simply wrong. This, finally, is what all religions have in common. They didn’t get it right. There was no celestial churning, no maker’s dance, no vomiting of galaxies, no snake or kangaroo ancestors, no Valhalla, no Olympus, no six-day conjuring trick followed by a day of rest. Wrong, wrong, wrong. But here’s something genuinely odd. The wrongness of the sacred tales hasn’t lessened the zeal of the devout. If anything, the sheer out-of-step zaniness of religion leads the religious to insist ever more stridently on the importance of blind faith.”

                         

Hindu Gods and Goddesses
Bible Lessons
Hindu Statue