The Fable of Jesus (God is “Not Necessarily” Real Pt.2)

Happy Monday everyone. Hope the weekend was good to you fine people. Time to finish what I started on Friday. Again, this is not for the intellectually squeamish. Let’s get into the teeth of this.

Friday I was talking a bit about the movie “Religulous.” I talked about questioning faith and how to “disagree without being disagreeable.” (Haven’t heard that term in a few months) Now let’s complicate things a bit. Today I want to talk about war and the “fable” of Jesus. Now a few of you asked me if, as a Christian, I was offended by the movie at any point. I can honestly say that I wasn’t, but I can see how someone might be. I can tell you for my father’s part he wasn’t necessarily offended, but he was definitely shaken by the movie.

The “Fable” of Jesus
As I briefly mentioned in Friday’s post, there was a certain part of the movie that had my father looking like he had just seen a ghost. He was pale in disbelief after seeing some things in the movie that poked holes in the story of Jesus. I am not talking Da Vinci code stuff. He decided that he could deal with Jesus having a wife if that was in fact true. What bothered him were the charges that many aspects of the story of Jesus were stolen from the stories of Osiris and Horus. It wasn’t the fact that the movie made these charges, it was the fact that the similarities the movie highlighted were incredibly significant (I would love to hear some Christian feedback on this). Let’s examine…

First off the stories of Osiris and Horus originated thousands of years before the time of Christ, so it is not possible for them to be influenced by Christian theology, only vice versa. Horus and Osiris are pagan gods that came out of Egypt. Jews did live in Egypt, and Palestine (the birthplace of Christianity) is in close proximity to Egypt, so the idea that early Christians borrowed from Egyptian theology is not so improbable.

Some facts about Osiris:
– Had well over 200 divine names, including Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of Gods, Resurrection and the Life, Good Shepherd, Eternity and Everlastingness, the god who “made men and women to be born again.”
– The Lord’s Prayer was prefigured by an Egyptian hymn to Osiris-Amen beginning, ‘O Amen, O Amen, who are in heaven. Amen was also invoked at the end of every prayer.
– In his passion, Osiris was plotted against and killed by Set and “the 72.” 
– Osiris’ resurrection served to provide hope to all that they may do likewise and become eternal.

There are more (for more on Osiris you can start here and here ), but Horus really had the more interesting parallels:
– Born of the virgin Meri, whose husband was named Seb (Jo-seph)
– Only begotten son of the god Osiris
– Born in a cave (some believe that Jesus was born in a cave instead of a stable).
– His conception was announced to his mother by an angel and his birth was heralded by the star Sirius, the morning star.
– Herut tried to have Horus murdered as an infant.
– Baptized at age 30 by Anup (John) the baptist, who was later beheaded.
– Walked on water, restored sight to the blind, resurrected his dead father Osiris (or El-Azarus).
– Died by crucifixion accompanied by two thieves.
– Resurrected after three days.

Again there is more (there are many interesting reads on this. Here is one), but I think the point is made. Now how many of these parallels are true is a point of scholarly contention, although many of these points, including the resurrections, are widely held as part of both stories. My father had never heard of Horus, or of all of these parallels. It really made him think. He is a Roman Catholic and firmly believes in Jesus. He was shocked a few years back when my younger brother announced that he did not believe in Jesus and couldn’t understand how he could come to that conclusion. Now here was my little brother, looking at my father’s pale face, with a look of I told you so on his. My father asked me what I thought about this whole thing and I gave him the same answer that I gave my little brother when he asked me how I can believe in Jesus.

By my own admission, I am not a religious person. I cannot recite scripture (although I am familiar enough with it), I do not know too many saints, and I do not attend church regularly. I, like many of you, consider myself to be a spiritual person. I believe in Jesus as an entity. I believe in the ideals and the morals that his story represents. I believe in his teachings. Do I believe in the story of Jesus as historical fact? No. I do not. I do however believe that there is a greater force “watching over me” and I choose to hold Jesus Christ as the manifestation of this good and benevolent force. So if the stories of Osiris, or Horus, or Buddha, or Krishna for that matter, are a little too similar to the story of Jesus, then let it be. The story is not as important as the idea to me. Which is why I don’t have to be Hindu to believe in Karma, or be Buddhist to appreciate the teachings of Confucious.

Religion Is Not Evil!
During the course of the movie Bill Maher makes his case against religion in a rather mild manner. He attempts to poke logical holes into something that is, by all accounts, not based upon logic. Thus his task is made relatively easy for him. In most cases the people in the movie made his case for him. All he had to do was be the voice of common sense and reason. In doing this he paints a rather unflattering picture of the religious, but one that is also accurate for the demographic that he chose to showcase. The demographic I am speaking of is the radical religious. This is where things got a bit preachy.

The very last part of the movie was the most offensive to me. Maher makes a plea for all those with common sense to denounce religion. Why you may ask? Because religion is responsible for countless wars and conflicts throughout history. Religion is in effect evil. I can already hear the seas parting on this one. On one side there are those of you who agree with this and on the other side there are those who are offended. To me the truth lies somewhere in the middle. If someone were to objectively examine these statements they would no doubt find truth in them. Religion can be tied to virtually every major conflict that is going on in the world today. However the problem I have with this statement is that it is a gross generalization. Radicalism is at the crux of our society’s problems. Radicalism and religion are not one and the same. Radicalism is religion in excess, and anything in excess can be dangerous. War is a terrible, terrible thing and yes, religion and war are often very closely related. Religion can be an extremely polarizing topic which people tend to be very passionate about. This is why it is all the more important for us to learn how to properly use religion. To teach those who misuse or misunderstand religion the error of their ways. I can understand why Maher is so afraid of religion, but I cannot condone his blanket indictment of it.

Alright. Done. Talk amongst yourselves…

Sidenote: Xanga Mystery Blogger starts tomorrow. BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Advertisements

46 comments

  1. Now you’ve gone and done it! Get ready for the douchy comments!As for myself, I believe in Jesus, and I love Jesus. He is my life, my breath, my friend, my hope, my salvation, my inspiration.He is well documented as a person in history outside the Bible. Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived in AD 37, talks about Jesus, John the Baptist, and James the Brother of Jesus. He even talks about Jesus being killed on a cross. And Josephus was not a follower of Christ. Pliny the Younger also records the historical Christ. He was governor of Pontus/Bithynia from A.D. 111-113.But I’m not trying to convince you, just trying to show that there is reasonable doubt in the arguments presented in “Religulous.”Peace~

  2. Interesting. The funny thing is: if you ask any history expert about the foundations of civilization, they will tell you that one of the key components is religion. They will also tell you that the beginning of the end of any great empire began with the denouncing of religion. So, isn’t it a strange paradox then that it can be both so evil and so good? So divisive yet so unifying? hm. Something to think about. I am off to the park, though, so I am done thinking about it.

  3. i just generally like idea of people thinking for themselves.always.i waver in between with my christianity…there are days i know without a doubt that i have a creator.and that i believe in him.and days when the information i have doesn’t add up.days when i want to question and search.church doesn’t leave much room for doubt and that’s unforunate to me.

  4. @weedorwildflower – no no this is exactly what I wanted to see. I definitely believe that Jesus was a real historical figure. I also believe some of his story. Just not all of it and not word for word.@Krissy_Cole – Religion is very powerful and to quote Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.”I wanna go to the park!@WendyDarling128 – that is one of the things I love about blogging. You get to exchange ideas with people you would normally never have contact with. You are exposed to things (for better or for worse) that you may have been previously sheltered from. many people have said this before, but blogging can make you smarter.

  5. I loved Religulous. There are, indeed, countless myths prior to the times of Jesus that share similar characteristis. Christian apologists dismiss those saying that those similarities are not evidence of plagiarism. Boo-hoo!  Apologists are the best comedians, except they’re not TRYING to be funny, which makes them even funnier. @weedorwildflower – Josephus has been discredited. The ONE brief passage that mentions Jesus is widely considered to be a forgery.  Grab yourself a copy of “The Age of Reason” by Thomas Paine.  // Religulous was brilliant. It was a marvelous thing to watch religious leaders squirm, stumble and fall, tying THEMSELVES into illogical knots trying to answer simple questions about their faith. Revealed religion is, indeed, nothing short of ridiculous when you really take a step back and analyze it without bias and without assuming beforehand that it must be true.

  6. @weedorwildflower – Well, if he has a problem with my expressing what revealed religion is, then, I shall apologize to him. But, I find it curious that this is the only thing you replied to about my comment. Obviously what I said about Josephus stands.  There are a lot of things that the Gospels disagree on amongst each other, and I’m not talking about trivial details. Here’s a paraphrase of something Paine said:  Even if the four stories agree on everything, that does NOT guarantee they are true, because the whole of them can be false. But, if they disagree, that discredits the whole thing as fabrication and/or imposition.  Imagine four witnesses in a court of law relating such wildly diferring accounts of the same event. They would be thrown out of the courthouse, and the case would be dismissed.  Religious people display an obvious double standard.

  7. @In_Reason_I_Trust – I don’t think she has a problem with you having counter-points to her points. The problem is that you are attempting to ridicule something that she, and many others like her, hold very near to their hearts. Look I encourage the debate, but be careful and try not to be condescending. Just as you wouldn’t want a Christian to be all high and mighty, preaching to you.

  8. We pretty much discussed my thoughts on this in chat, so I am left with no comment .  Love ya bunches, Cousin Dave! Never be afraid to say what you think! (and I have your back when the douchey comments start piling up!)

  9. I don’t have much to say. I said what I wanted to about the movie in the last post. Fact is, I don’t take too much of the “history” aspect of religion seriously. There’s bound to be some exaggeration and impropriety in it considering the fact that there was a large period of time between the actual writing of the bible and Jesus death. I don’t doubt his existence, there’s enough evidence for me to at least believe that a “Jesus” existed who preached to Jews.  Horus, Osiris, Jesus is a deductive fallacy (cum hoc ergo propter hoc). The existence of Egyptian myths does not mean that Jesus didn’t exist. What it does mean is that believing in Jesus requires a little informational cherry picking. But that’s the case with a lot of the bigger questions of life.More importantly, given enough time, we are free to question and doubt the existence of any single human being that was ever said to exist–or at least, we could question their identity. For example: William Shakespeare. There’s some discussion about Shakespeare not being the guy in the image we’ve all seen. There’s speculation that Shakespeare was a psuedonym and that ‘he’ may have been a woman, a nobleman, a member of the royal family, etc. 2000 years is a long time for the world to agree on anyone’s existence. That doesn’t even include older biblical figures like Abraham, Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah…If you question Jesus existence, then how about Peter, Paul, Simon, etc. Questioning the existence of people who are supposed to have existed thousands of years ago is an endless spiral of speculation. Who is to say that the documents which could have proved Jesus existence without a doubt (if such a thing exists) weren’t destroyed in all of the fighting that occurred in the following thousand years? The Crusades resulted in a lot of destroyed documents. What happened before it? If whatever documents proving Buddha and Confuscious existence were destroyed, would we be questioning them as well? Do those who doubt Jesus existence also deny the existence of Socrates? I don’t see much value in arguing a person’s existence. There’s a lot of good in Jesus’ gospels. That is irrefutable. I treat religion like I treat philosophy. I’ll let God tell me who did and didn’t exist.

  10. I think people get way too excited when trying to prove or disprove the unproveable.  I think most wars are over economics, resources and power but a resounding “God is on our side” is more likely to get conscripts and support and makes for better headlines.  Religion, or the lack of it, can be a great comfort to people.  I’ve never understood why anyone would want to destroy that for the sake of debate.

  11. For me, the problem with religion is not extremism but the suspension of rational thought and logic. Moderate/peace loving religious people, for all the good they do, still believe these irrational stories that exist in “holy” texts. This then provides breeding ground for the extremists. They hide behind the mantle of religion that is given credence by the rest of the world. If instead of religion everyone got behind purely logical and philosophical arguments for morality, extremists would have nothing to hide behind. They would stand out clearly in their communities as nutjobs and not receive the support that they do now. Al Queda, Pat Robertson, etc. cannot exist in a religious vacuum. The only Bible I can read and get behind is Thomas Jefferson’s The Life And Morals of Jesus Christ: http://www.angelfire.com/co/JeffersonBible/Meditation and reflection should take the place of prayer. Morality should be debated, discussed, and contemplated instead of dictated out of a book. Good should be done for goodness’ sake. Children should be taught to critically think and question and be prepared to make their own decisions instead of being taught that they are “sheep.” Mentally and psychologically, this is a much more diffidult road to traverse to find spiritual bliss than simply losing yourself to “the Holy Spirit” but I think that it is, in the end, much more rewarding and gratifying and it is a journey that we need to make as a species.

  12. I read an interesting book a few years ago, The Jesus Mysteries, which drew a lot of parallels between Jesus and other dying and rising gods of the Mediterranean: not only Osiris and Horus, but Dionysus and Mithras as well.  The authors went so far as to suggest Jesus was not in fact a historical person, but a variation of the myths.C.S. Lewis was converted to Christianity when he pointed out to his friend J.R.R. Tolkien that all these myths predated Jesus, and Tolkien persuaded him that in Jesus’s case the myth was true.

  13. I agree with the assessment that Religion is one of the primary causes of conflict in the World, both in the past and in the present. I disagree with the notion that people should give up religion entirely. I just wish that people of differing religions would show more tolerance for one another…

  14. @In_Reason_I_Trust – No worries. When I made the “not nice” comment, I was half-smiling. I thought it ironic that a person of reason would be so quick to ridicule and disparage after reading the blog.And the fact that I didn’t respond to your comments about Josephus proves nothing–except that I’m not interested in debating. I don’t perceive you to be the teachable sort, and anyway, what’s true is true regardless of what either of us believes. Thanks for giving me food for thought… and inspiration for my own blog.

  15. Oh boy, here we go.  My two (million) cents.If the New Testament (Gospel) is true, then what Jesus did was preach against “religion” taking the place of spirituality. The Christian religion in particular, in modern times, has turned into a bureaucracy in which “the rules” are much more important than the core teaching. What was at the heart of the big message Jesus was supposed to have brought to those ancient Jews? That treating each other well, and loving each other, was much more important than keeping any “laws”. As for wars and violence throughout history, yes, “religion” has played a huge part in that, and spirituality very little. “For the Glory of God and Country!” After all, in the Old Testament, God very clearly approves of wars, although there seems to be a printing error where the little asterisk and footnote on “Thou shalt not kill” is missing. You know, listing the exceptions, like: in His name and in defence of His doctrine, self-defence, patriotism, oil, etc. And that’s not to mention things like The Crusades, and the current Islamic actions, that were and are fought purely over who is “right” about religion, and who is “wrong”. (And I’m not even going to go into the whole Inquisition and witch hysteria, either. Or Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans over in England. But that, too, was “religious” violence.) What seems to be the problem is not “religious violence” itself, but its leaders endorsing and engouraging that violence. There’s an old saying: Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I tend to think that “religions” are not exempt from this axiom. What the problem with “religion” seems to be, is that it cannot stand any competitors. The leaders preach intolerance of others. They preach imposition of their “holy writ” on everybody, willing or not.As for passive activities – like praying for “our troops”, do they not encourage that kind of thinking? Doesn’t it impart a feeling of “God is with them and will protect them” even though they are killing and maiming others? For a very realistic take on what you are actually praying for when you ask God to bless and protect “our troops” please, please go here. Is that, in fact, what you really want? I could go on for volumes about what I have against “religion” itself as an organisation, but I want to be clear that I am NOT talking about spirituality. That is a personal matter, and I will try hard not to attack someone’s personal faith. It does not offend me to have someone say they are praying for me. It does not bother me that they believe in something that I do not. How one lives one life is much more important to me.What I will debate over, argue about, and fight (tooth, nail and sometimes insult) against, is the imposition of your specific religious beliefs on my (and anyone else’s) child through the public education system, or the laws of the state. No, you may not teach them that evolution is wrong, that homosexuality is disgusting and shameworthy, or that abortion is evil. And you may not use the mechanism of the state to make laws based on those beliefs. Other than that, believe what you want to. Believe in one god or a million or no gods at all. Believe in Jesus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Great Green Arkleseizure … I don’t care, unless you want to force those beliefs onto people who are not interested. Where you derive your motivation is irrelevant to me, it’s how your actions impact the world around you that is my concern. Because it’s my world, too.

  16. @vanedave – My bad, then. No worries, I’m pretty much done with her. @weedorwildflower – “what’s true is true regardless of what either of us believes.”  Well, yes. The evidence is clear about Josephus and many other alleged “extra-biblical” sources which have been thoroughly discredited. Indeed, that IS true regardless of what you believe.

  17. @CanadianBroad – I have to say, first of all fine point about Jesus teaching against the institution of religion. Like in Stigmata, the whole “God is under s rock” thing. The lost gospels are all about that. You make good points about religion and war. I have to disagree a little about the praying for the troops thing though. I can see what you are saying, but those are people’s children, their fathers, their mothers, their brothers and sisters. People have a lot of different reasons for joining the Army. I joined and it was not to fight for Bush. Luckily I didn’t have to, but I feel for those who do.

  18. @vanedave –  Yes, I understand that. But if you read the essay I have linked to, the point is made that the soldiers on the “other side” also have spouses, children, mothers, fathers sisters, brothers, friends … Are they not as worthy of God’s protection to get them home safe? What happens when both sides are praying for “their troops”? Who “wins” then? People still die, get maimed, injured … Other people still mourn and suffer. On both sides.

  19. It is because of these parallels that I tend to lean towards Unitarian Universalism, though I would also consider myself Christian. I just feel that it seems most religions are speaking of the same thing, in different ways. Great post!

  20. Okay, I’ve read through this again (and the comments, which so far haven’t been as douchy as expected); and I have a few thoughts:The fact that there were Egyptian mythical characters with many similarities doesn’t bother me or shake my faith in God at all. Nor does it bother me that there are similarities across religions. I believe what I believe; and I may be proven wrong someday, but I doubt it. I won’t take away anyone else’s right to believe what they want to believe. It’s called “faith” because it is a choice, it is not a proven–or even proveable–fact. I think God deliberately makes sure He cannot be proven. And I think there is a verse (hell no, I can’t remember where!) where Jesus says “you believed because you saw; bless those who believe without seeing.” or something like that… I’m a paraphrase kinda gal. Which, given the sheer weight of the years and the number of translations (and political agendas of those translating!) between the time the Bible was written and today; is probably as good an interpretation as any. I look for the themes of what God was trying to tell us, not literal translations of every verse without considering the audience, the writer, and the context. Religion is no more evil than a gun. Both can be used for nefarious purposes, both can be used for good purposes. It’s a matter of who is doing the using. I find the use of religion or God in the sense of “God is on our side” amusing and totally wrong, though. Aren’t WE supposed to be on GOD’S side; not the other way around?

  21. @Shirlann – lol. Your liberal use of scripture amuses me. You should teach a class. Umm somewhere in the old testament, god said be cool to thy neighbor or something like that. So get along with eachother damnit.

  22. @vanedave – I love that you “get me!” That is EXACTLY how I would teach a class on religion… not that I would ever consider such a thing. But, I think there is far more value in getting the “gist” of what God is saying than taking a literal approach to Scripture. I mean, okay “Man shall not lie with man” is in Levicticus (chapter 18-ish?); but just a chapter before (or is it after) that, the same book tell us not to cut the hair at our temples and to stone our children if they are disrespectful to their parents. Ummm… if we took every Scripture as the literal instruction some seem to think you should… well, we’d all look like hippies and no kid would live past their teens.

  23. @GreekPhysique – for the most part it is true, but he has a few bigshots in there too. He doesn’t argue with everyone. Some people he just spoke too. For instance he had a very interesting convo with one of the vatican scientists.

  24. Those similarities are really interesting.  THis was a refreshing blog to read.  I feel that so often people are trying to jam something down your throat, I did not feel that way here.  I think That’s partly because I kind of feel the same way that yo do.  I too, was raised Catholic, and while I only make it to church every once in awhile, it is the religion that fits me most.I don’t like it when Christians feel that they have the right to force their beliefs onto others and I also really don’t like it when athiests act all smug because they think that they KNOW it all.  My boyfriend is an athiest and I have a really hard time with it sometimes.  What’s wrong with feeling like someone is watching over you and wants you to be happy?Ok…I don’t know how put together that sounded but I just wanted you to know that I really appreciated this blog!  Thanks!

  25. I would rather believe in Jesus and be wrong, than not believe in Jesus and be wrong.I love being right, but I don’t think it is worth risking eternal damnation just to prove a point. I use to be an atheist, and a mean one at that. I have decided that I know nothing. Since I know nothing, I don’t trust any information that might sway me from God. I don’t mean to say that you aren’t telling the truth, but the truth may be a lie. Perhaps the devil caused those stories to exist to make people doubt the story that is true? Any time I am confronted with info that makes the fall and rise of Jesus seem like a myth, I just remind myself that the devil probably had a hand in it.  My answer to everything that makes Jesus seem fake… it’s a devil’s trick.

  26. @bluehappyass – I wouldn’t say that fear is a good reason to have faith. It should be more about love than fear. That is my problem with organized religion sometimes (Roman Catholicism in particular). It is based too much on guilt and fear.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s