Uncommon Sense

August 28, 2017

Put a Fork in It … Forever and Ever, Amen

Just as I was falling asleep last night, my bedroom was brilliantly lit by an actinic flash of lightning which was followed closely by a titanic blast of thunder. I was instantly awake with my heart beating a tattoo in my chest. I do understand why primitive people created a thunder god (which they eventually lost, which makes them Thor losers … sorry, I’ll get back on point). I do understand why we created invisible creatures to take responsibility for the epic natural forces that seemed so vast compared to our puny existences.

I have a harder time understanding how we got to where we are now with an incomprehensible god explained through a series of incomprehensible narratives. At least I was until shortly ago. The book I put down just before being flashed awake last night was “Jesus: Mything in Action, Vol. III” by David Fitzgerald—the author of “Nailed: Ten Christian Myths that Show that Jesus Never Existed”) has worked a small miracle; it has shown fairly conclusively how Christianity came into being without the messy details of actually needing an historical character named Jesus. That’s right, the reason the search for “the historical Jesus” has come up with so many different results is that since there was no such person, the results simply reflect the needs and wants of the searchers.

Most people, including myself, assumed there was a real person at the core of all of the narratives, but these books, written for lay people, but referenced for those wanting to follow up on references, seal the deal, slam the door, close the book, end the discussion. It is finito; put a fork in it.

The primary source of the ammunition used to bring down the tottering edifice which is modern Christianity is NT scripture itself, with a bit of OT scripture thrown in.

Even after finishing the first two volumes, in which the case was made that the narratives in the NT cannot possibly support a real person at the core of the fairy tales, I was still wondering, well, how the heck did it come to be so widespread, then? Here is a sketch of what might have happened. I wish to point out here that in a court of law, if one prosecutes a legal case based upon a theory of how things must have happened, that a defense can be made that provides a competing theory that is at least equally probable, thus showing that it didn’t have to happen as the prosecution claims it did. Since the “traditional” narrative surrounding the creation of Christianity has no hard evidence to support it, one only needs to provide a counter narrative to, in effect, win the case. The author admits his counter narrative is fictional, but it makes a hell of a lot more sense out of what facts we do have than the traditional story.

This is just a quick sketch, mind you. The amount of data and arguing points are book-length worthy, so this is just a taste. (Do go read the books, highly recommended if you are into the topic.)

In Judaism, prophecies form a one of the three legs of its tradition. The fulfillment of prophecies is used as evidence for the existence of their god, for example, so they take them very seriously. So, one particular OT prophecy implied that a savior, a warrior messiah, would come and deliver the Jews from their oppressors. Unfortunately this prophecy fell flat and didn’t even come close to coming true. This was actually not a rare occurrence but having literally hundreds of spin doctors working, most of these failures were spun away. But this prophecy seemed so important than another prophecy was made in order to redeem the first. This prophecy, too, fell flat. Instead of a Messiah rising up and leading the Jews to throw off the yoke of Rome, with Yahweh’s help of course, the Romans once again crushed the revolting Jews. The spin doctors went to work immediately to try to salvage what they could. Allow me to quote Fitzgerald here so I do not screw this up.

So Daniel’s prophecy, originally created to 1) salvage Jeremiah’s botched prophecy, 2) explain why Onias III was killed and 3) encourage the Maccabees’ uprising, inadvertently allowed later generations of Jews to re-interpret it again (and again); including certain groups of first century Jews looking for reasons why God failed to send his messiah to save Jerusalem in the War with Rome. The idea that there could have been a secret, spiritual messiah caught on among these Jews. The evolution of this spiritually victorious-in-defeat Jewish messiah is only half the story, however.

The key phrase is, of course, “The idea that there could have been a secret, spiritual messiah caught on among these Jews” (my emphasis). Yeah, that’s the ticket! The Messiah did come and He did triumph, it was just in secret. That’s why we still have Romans climbing up our asses. Really this means that Christianity was a typical mystery religion (the other half referred to). Again, quoting Fitzgerald:

If you were to ask someone in the Hellenistic world, “What would a Jewish version of the mysteries look like?” They’d say something like: you’d have a religion whose savior was a son of Yahweh, whose passion and death atoned for sins, and who now lived in the hearts of his followers, celebrated with typical mystery rituals like baptism and a sacred meal, whose initiates regarded one another as brothers and sisters, born again into a new life here, and awaiting a blissful afterlife in heaven. In short, you’d have Christianity.

All of those aspects are typical of the myriad mystery religions in the surrounding regions, promoted first by the Greeks and later by the Romans.

All of the early literature of Christianity, the letters of Paul, etc. do not mention an earthly Jesus. They do not mention a “second coming” but a “first coming.” Paul does not name or mention any disciples. He refers only to apostles, who are people who have communicated with Jesus spiritually, have received guidance (actually quotations from the OT), and proven this by having performed miracles (healings, etc.). Paul does not mention any relatives of Jesus or quote Jesus, or refer to any of his teachings. For Paul, Jesus is a spiritual being who exists in Heaven and who is promised to make a first appearance on Earth.

No actual references to Jesus being on Earth are made until the first gospel, the Gospel of Mark, is written. The Gospel of Mark has the structure of a Greek play as well as all of the markings (no pun intended) of a mystery religion. The subsequent Gospels, written later, bring in additional narratives, and change the tone of Mark until there is enough variation that one can shape any interpretation one wishes.

The observation that Christianity has all the structures of other mystery religions was made long. long ago and immediately denied by church fathers, who were, and are still, selling a completely different narrative. But the denials are weak and tepid because there is no basis for them.

Mystery religions were really popular, for very good reasons; the primary one is they promised a happy afterlife to all believers, not just pharaohs/kings/heroes. And all you needed to get this was an indoctrination into the mysteries, which of course, brings a source of motivation for the spreaders of the doctrine. Just as primitive farmers spread manure on their fields so later they could eat and feed their families, the religious promoters spread a different king of bullshit to support themselves and their families. The support for this “new” narrative is huge. Details such as Mark’s clueless disciples (representing the nation of Jews) stand in for people who do not understand the mysteries. How could his disciples be so daft when they had Jesus right there to explain things (magically, if necessary); plus things in that other narrative are rather simple, are they not? Well, the disciples could be so daft because there was no Jesus and they are fictional characters, providing a Greek chorus of those who do not understand the mysteries.

It all holds together, it makes sense of most of the NT scriptures, and since Christianity has all of the trappings of a mystery religion and all Christians know that the “other mystery” religions were made up, fictional, foundationless, etc. each of those religions (The Mysteries of Isis, the …) is further proof you can make up a religion and promote it with no factual basis whatsoever.

Oh, and why did Christianity triumph over those other mystery religions? Irony of ironies, Christianity got fortuitously adopted by a Roman emperor who made it the state religion of Rome, by imperial order. As we all know, it isn’t what you know but who you know that determines whether you succeed or fail.

18 Comments »

  1. The observation that Christianity has all the structures of other mystery religions was made long. long ago and immediately denied by church fathers

    Of course it was!

    I’ve contended for quite some time (even since reading “The Jesus Mysteries” — which the infamous unkleE strongly disputes) that this was Paul’s focus.

    BTW, perhaps that lightning strike was a message from the Great Beyond for you to stop reading such “fallacious” writings. 😀

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    Comment by Nan — August 28, 2017 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

    • Nah, nah, He missed!

      On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 12:34 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 28, 2017 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

  2. To me, the most (one of, at least) damning piece of evidence against an actual historical figure is found in one of the conclusions of the Acts Seminar: there was no early church in Jerusalem. Christianity sprung up in Syria. There were no first-hand “followers” of the man at ground zero, so to say, rather people convinced of something way, way up in the north.

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    Comment by john zande — August 28, 2017 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

    • Acts is not a reliable source of much, but if you look at the things left out of Acts by Luke, who had a hard-on for the Romans and history has proven him correct in that, what was left out was any aftermath from the Crucifixion. Jesus gets hung by the Romans for crimes against the state. All of Jesus’ associates are fleeing for their lives and in Acts, well Christians are allowed to assemble, proselytize, convert thousands, yuge numbers, (they must have had a Trump on their PR team), heal the sick, etc. etc. and the Romans, meh, they had no problem with any of this. 9Sound like the first century Romans in Judea to you?) If Jesus’ tomb had been found empty, the Romans would have been pulling in the usual suspects on charges of grave robbery, a heinous offense. But … . I find all of the geographical discoveries interesting but scripture is really damning. The second (or fourth) Pope, Clement, wrote a long, long letter which is still in existence. While addressing early Christian concerns, he never once mentions Jesus teachings, disciples, family, or anything relating to Jesus’ so-called mission. He does, however, respond with quotations from the OT that he spins into “knowledge” about the Christ. He doesn’t mention the “second coming” but only “the coming”, the future coming of Jesus.

      I recommend these books to you John. They aren’t all scholarly, but written for minds like ours. And I had to enjoy the author breaking his big book into three pieces and selling each for $6.66. Most of us wouldn’t have bit for $20 but I bought the first part with a chuckle over the price. (Plus I had read “Nailed”.) All of the commonsensical evidence is placed in good order in these books (much of what I had heard of but also much I had not) and he explained how the mystery religions got involved. The idea of a happy afterlife for ordinary folks was a boon to ordinary folks and a great draw for the mystery religions. And, of course, this explains how these things showed up in a Jewish tradition that hadn’t dwelled on them in the past.

      On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 12:44 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 28, 2017 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

      • I’m still well and truly into my sci fi reading phase. Devouring everything I can. Am reading We Are Legion right now and quite enjoying it.

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        Comment by john zande — August 28, 2017 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

        • I am finding all of the post apocalypse stuff depressing. SF used to be more hopeful than the rest, now it is all about picking up the pieces.

          On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 4:04 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 28, 2017 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

          • Last couple of years I have been reading a bunch of the YA SF post apocalypse stuff with my 14 year old daughter…and enjoying interesting conversations with her. I am finding the notion of ‘picking up the pieces’ and fighting for the survival of humanity quite hopeful.

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            Comment by Zach — August 29, 2017 @ 11:27 am | Reply

            • Except it implies we are stupid enough to take many steps back before we can take steps forward. I know I am a hopelessly hopeful person. But I want desperately for us to learn how to learn from our mistakes, stop making stupid decisions based upon greed and false religions, etc. (I know, I don’t want much.)

              On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 11:27 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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              Comment by Steve Ruis — August 29, 2017 @ 11:30 am | Reply

              • Enough of us humans

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                Comment by Zach — August 29, 2017 @ 11:44 am | Reply

  3. Thank you for the book review/recommendation. Looks like I need to buy and read them all.

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    Comment by davidambrose66 — August 28, 2017 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  4. Oops … enough of us are clearly fearful enough to continue pursuing well traveled avenues of stupidity.

    My daughter sees a world where 60% of humans live on less than $600 a year, arms buildup world-wide, terrorism … and it is easy for her to envision apocalypse in her lifetime. The current YA SF literature that asserts the ability to cling to the human spirit empowers her, and others of her age, to keep fighting for a better world than the one being given to her. She, and I, find that hopeful.

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    Comment by Zach — August 29, 2017 @ 11:52 am | Reply

    • I too, all evidence to the contrary, remain ever hopeful, that we don’t have step back too far to learn a new way of living. In the meantime, kids need the solace and challenge of literature that keeps hope alive in them. Farenheit 451 did that for me, as these modern SF tales of human survival do for her.
      When she asks me “Are we humans really this stupid” … don’t really have a good answer for her.

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      Comment by Zach — August 29, 2017 @ 11:59 am | Reply

      • The only honest answer is “yes.”

        On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 12:00 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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        Comment by Steve Ruis — August 29, 2017 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

        • Agreed … my answer to her was: “to the degree that humans act out of fear, they are ‘ that stupid.'”

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          Comment by Zach — August 29, 2017 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

    • I understand. I was raised on a ridiculous school curriculum summed up by “Progress is our most important product!” (At least it was GE and not the poisoners at DuPont.)

      I just don’t want to have to watch as reality/depression kicks in to the next generations. I used to joke that us Baby Boomers were “uniquely poised to be embarrassments to both our parents and our children” but I didn’t expect it to come true.

      On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 11:52 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 29, 2017 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

      • Oh, I don’t know … we Boomers are just one car in a long train of human stupid … those who came before, and those coming after carry their own freight.

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        Comment by Zach — August 29, 2017 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

        • Yeah, but we raised it to new heights! We have killed the economy. We killed the American Dream. And all we got for it is a Berlin Wall and wars in the Middle East. I wish we had a better negotiator … Trump! ,,, naw!

          On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 12:45 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 29, 2017 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

          • The new money empires aren’t boomers. The exploding wealth and class divide in Silicon, San Francisco etc, is being ushered in by new generations of assholes … who are crafting a whole new moral bankruptcy.

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            Comment by Zach — August 29, 2017 @ 2:36 pm | Reply


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