Dec 2005. That was a while ago, wasn’t it?

I’m not here. I’ll be back next week.

Discussion (56)¬

  1. Pezski says:

    Glad you’ve found that religious idiocy is the gift that keeps on giving. Hey, it is good for something, after all!

  2. dragon74140 says:

    One of my favourirtes!
    I was just talking to friend about the assumed historical fact of J’s existence so good timing!

  3. jean-françois gauthier says:

    mohammed tannen taunting jesus mcfly…

  4. Barolo Baron says:

    Brilliant! But why does Mo say that St. Paul didn’t regard Jesus as a historical figure?

  5. GoodReason says:

    I hadn’t heard that bit about Paul not regarding Jesus as historical.

    Does anyone have a cite?

  6. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Atheists provide comic relief
    Their faith in nothing, is beyond belief
    They rant and they rave
    Like a dolt or a knave
    Or what’s worse, a time wasting thief.

  7. Unruly Simian says:

    So Jesus owes his existence to Mo’s belief in him? Figure the few billion Christians more than adequate to ol Jesus in the material world…..

  8. pithom says:

    Paul did provide some information about Jesus that could be considered historical-Rom 1:3 and Gal 4:4 do describe what can easily be construed as a physical birth, there are plenty of references to Jesus’s crucifixion, and Rom 8:3 does at least imply Paul believed Jesus had come “in the flesh”. However, Paul does not seem to have been aware of the vast majority of Jesus’s moral teaching found in the Gospels, nor did he seem to care about any specific details in Jesus’s life between his birth and his death.

    While it is possible to view Jesus as an ahistorical construct made up entirely from visions, it is extremely hard to imagine to have him borrowed from any non-Jewish, non-Greek concepts. For a debunking of most pagan parallels (including the three cited in this cartoon), see kingdavid8.com/Copycat/Home.html.

  9. A resurection well worth visiting. Or a visit well worth resurecting. Good one.

  10. Bobo says:

    @GoodReason The idea of a mythical christ has been around for years. Google Gerald Massey, or for more recent work Earl Doherty and his book/website “The Jesus Puzzle”.

  11. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    “Bobo says:
    August 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm
    @GoodReason The idea of a mythical christ has been around for years.”

    Yes, about 2000 years by my calendar.

  12. fixed&dilated says:

    @Acolyte of Sagan: Good one! And that would be about 2000 minus a few decades before the idea was around in any written form.

  13. Glaring_Mistake says:

    Your long line of virgin-born saviour gods seems to be short on virgin-born saviour gods.

    Dionysus could well be said to have been born at least two times (by at least one woman and and one man) so defining him as virgin-born is perhaps a bit inaccurate in that Zeus had sex with at least one of these women depending on what version of the myth you are told.

    Dionysus did have a small cult who believed that they would have a life after death filled with drinking and gorging themselves on delicious food.
    So he could well be considered a saviour god if not virgin-born.

    Osiris was the son of Geb and Nut so he was not virgin-born.

    Osiris was the ruler of Egypt and responsible for justice and order still it is probably his role as dead to judge the dead worthy or unworthy that would make it more appropriate to call him a saviour god,however I believe that his son Horus is more like a saviour god.

    Perseus was the son of Zeus and his mother Danae,however Zeus did impregnate her while in the form of golden rain so there was probably no penetration and so Perseus could still be considered to be virgin-born.

    So is he a saviour god?
    No,he is not a god,but rather a demigod and he is a Hero (spelled that way when talking about heroes from greek mythology) not a saviour.

    Herakles could definitely be said not to be virgin-born, since Zeus and Alkmene kept at it for a night that was three times longer than your normal night so I wouldn´t consider virgin-born to be the right word to describe Herakles.

    Herakles is like Perseus a Hero and a demigod (he did get to go to Olympus after he died though) and so is not a saviour god.

    Mithra I don´t know much about so I will not comment on him.

    You might object to this by saying that Jesus died and is therefore mortal (although not all gods are immortal) and so could be seen as a demigod like Perseus and Herakles.

    However I believe he should instead be compared to an avatar in Hinduism since he is one mortal part of a god on earth and has an immortal and more powerful part in heaven/level of existence or whatever you want to call it.

    It is difficult for me to enjoy your jokes when they contain errors,however you usually come up with good arguments against religion that are a pleasure to read.

  14. nakedape says:

    @pithom “Paul does not seem to have been aware of the vast majority of Jesus’s moral teaching found in the Gospels, nor did he seem to care about any specific details in Jesus’s life between his birth and his death.” A tradition that many Christians continue to this very day.

  15. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Nassar Ben Houdja
    I wonda, how could’ya
    Infest this site
    With venom and spite
    And poems that aren’t
    Very good Sir.

  16. steve oberski says:


    Not much of a debunking.

    Horus’s mom was not a virgin cause she was married. Well guess what, so was Mary, and just because a holy book says they didn’t fuck doesn’t make it so. And we are talking about 2 imaginary figures here so their virginity or lack thereof is all in the mind of the beholder.

    And the rest of the “debunking” is on a similar level.

    Since jebus and horus are both mythological figures it is simpler to assume that the later jebus figure may have been based in part on earlier mythological figures such as Horus.

    And using the big book of bad ideas as proof just doesn’t cut it.

    And why would be so hard to imagine non Jewish, non Greek influences given that the same big bad book claims that the Jews spent time in Egypt ? For which there is no evidence by the way.

  17. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Anybody dare to comment about the two foxes?
    Go on, double dare y’all 🙂

    ps. I’d do it myself, but I’m just the ideas man.

    pps. I do hope Miranda has a sense of humour, ‘cos I don’t want to have to start believing in god, just so I can make my peace with him!.

  18. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @Steve Oberski; it was always my understanding that jesus was a Mithras tribute act. Coincidentally, they shared the same star sign too 🙂

  19. pithom says:

    @steve oberski

    All the kingdavid 8 de-bunking does is [somewhat] objectively evaluate claims of numerous parallels between Jesus and pagan figures. Due to the fact the Gospels are the only sources about the life of Jesus that can even be considered as semi-legitimate, and the imaginary nature of most of the pagan parallels the author of this cartoon has cited, one must, by necessity, compare fiction with fiction. Again, here is an evaluation of the claims made in this cartoon:

    Perseus-Not explicitly a god, but, then, neither was Jesus. Did have a virgin birth in some versions.

    Herkales-Not born of a virgin, but a son of the chief god. Also, not explicitly a god, but, then, neither was Jesus.

    Mithras-If one can call a rock a virgin, then, yes. Can be considered a “saviour god”.

    Dionysus-A god, yes, a saviour, hardly. Not born of a virgin.

    Osiris-Not born of a virgin, but was a “saviour god”-if one was mortal.

    Can you please substantiate your Jesus-Mythicism by at least some kind of argument from silence?

  20. joe says:

    pithom: it is extremely hard to imagine to have him borrowed from any non-Jewish, non-Greek concepts. For a debunking of most pagan parallels (including the three cited in this cartoon), see…

    @Glaring_Mistake: Osiris was the son of Geb and Nut so he was not virgin-born.

    Fucking a god does not end virginity, by the Christian narrative — a virgin birth is a transform of “born of a god”. Both of these commenters seem to be applying a principle “if both are true, then what evidence would be required for them to be the same person”.

    But that’s not the issue at all! That’s not how literature works — little bits get grabbed and transformed. It’s rarely clear whether there was a direct borrowing, or a common trope in the air.

    Was G’Kar of Babylon 5 based on Jesus? Well, he had a mother and father and was born in a pouch. He has reptiloid skin, but is a mammal. He starts as an angry warrior. He helps Londo assassinate an Emperor by beating the Centauri people with his bonds —

    and then he becomes a spiritual messiah… and if you see the seen, the Jesus parallels are obvious.

    The weakness in Jesus-Myth don’t come from this kind of pseudo-objective nonsense that completely misses how myths are transformed across narrative traditions — and the least knowledge of ancient pantheons makes it clear that ancient people cross-pollinated even the smallest parallels into “the same god”.

    This kind of pseudo-skepticism is so irritating. It’s like folks have never read a fucking poem before.

  21. pithom says:

    Aah! Slightly contradicting my first comment, Paul did care about the Last Supper (or some version of it, 1 Cor 11:23-26)-but this seems to only be so because “eating the bread and drinking the cup” was an important Christian ritual. In any case, the Last Supper tradition was “received from the Lord”-it is not certain whether the tradition was entirely a result of Paul’s vision or Paul’s vision was confirmation of the Apostolic tradition.

    As for joe- If one does not want to concentrate on the specifics, then let us skip to the main point-what non-Christian savior-figure was sent as a blood sacrifice to a set of humans (all or some) in order to permanently free them from a prior religious law? In any case, the virgin birth might possibly share a Greek parallel, but this can only be in any way construed in Luke, who is quite likely addressing a Greek audience. The author of Matthew does not attempt to make any allusion, direct or indirect, to pagan figures, but, rather, explicitly references the OT for his claim about Jesus. The virgin birth seems to have been made up entirely from Isaiah 7:14, and then applied without this context in Luke.

  22. Glaring_Mistake says:

    @joe: Fucking a god is not necessary for a child to be born,Zeus carried Dionysus himself for a while and Athena as well,he gave birth to them,would that make them born of a virgin?
    Hephaestus made Gaia pregnant just by his seed touching the earth.

    Does Zeus impregnating Danae count as a loss of her virginity?
    Or does Zeus impregnating Leda in the shape of a swan? (if she was a virgin).
    Is impregnation without penetration enough for the woman to lose her virginity?
    That is something that can be difficult to answer since only in the myths do women get pregnant without any real intercourse.

    Even if I believed that a human man or woman getting fucked by a god did not make them lose their virginity (you seem to believe I think they are still virgins even after sleeping with a god) Geb and Nut were both gods and so there is no confusion of them losing their virginity since they were not a human/god couple.
    I would still have thought that whoever was human would have lost their virginity by being fucked by a god.

    You also seem to think that I believe that there should be a 100% match between the ones on the list and Jesus.
    I do not.
    I focused on whether they were virgin-born,a kind of saviour or a god and definitely not on Jesus,hardly ever thought about him,I just did not think that they could really be described as virgin-born saviourgods.

    Though in mythology it can be difficult to determine whether they are virgin-born since myths would be the only place for that to happen,saviour is a bit fuzzy and gods,well they can be titans,nymphs,demigods,earth and sky,titans and gods,gods and demigods,mortal or immortal and those are just some examples from greek mythology.

    Since I had an interest in mythologies when I was younger and have read about several mythologies that they were not just homegrown like Chiron really belonging to another mythology at first and the same being true for Anat and Astarte in egyptian mythology or the roman mythology taking over the greek gods.

    I have compared Cadmus from greek mythology and Abraham.

    I do not have a problem with mythologies being similar or the fact that they do a bit of borrowing from each other.

    Mythology often contradicts itself because there is not really a plot but really a lot of stories bunched together,one example is Heracles (who by the way is really not just one hero but a composite of heroes) in one myth at least living at the same time as his forefather.

    Basically mythology is a mess.

    And as a skeptic and atheist I would like to think that I was not defending Christianity,Jesus as a mythological figure or as a historical one,nor engaging in “pseudoskepticism”.
    Also,had I been (a christian) I believe I would have compared them to Jesus a lot and used the bible as evidence.

  23. Jerry w says:

    Does anyone know how they found someone that could dedicate +/- 30 years to follow the theoretical Jesus from birth to the alleged resurrection, making detailed notes on all of the events along the way like the water to wine conversions and walking on water and all that? Just askin…..

  24. spoing says:



  25. joe says:

    “Basically mythology is a mess.”

    Story-telling is a mess. 99% of human communications is a mess.

    The more basic point — that both Glaring_Mistake and Pithom miss — is that parallelism is neither evidence for nor evidence against mythicism.

    The historical existence or non-existence of either George Washington or Nick Carroway are in any way shown by looking at how the story of their lives are composed of tropes and anti-tropes from the preceding literature.

    So, the Jesus story is the Adam story inverted, a story that surely predates most of the Jewish tradition. What does that tell us, other than religious events in the Jewish world at the time where understood in reference to the Adam story?

    So, what if the concept of a sacrifice of the first born in order to propitiate a debt to God is common throughout Levantine traditions, and the more general concept of sacrifice of humans and self-sacrifice of Gods to rejuvenate the world can be found throughout religious traditions? What information is there, except that fact?

    The discussion is nonsense. These are the tropes of our language. Descriptions of religious experiences will be composed of them. Trying to put them in some list and thereby derive which comes from where is absolute and complete nonsense — it is trivially underdetermined and is “scientificism”, the kind of pseudo-empiricism that closely parallels the hunting of parallels in exegetical systems of knowledge.

    Literature is not amenable to scientific study, except of the most shallow kind.

  26. HaggisForBrains says:

    @ Glaring_Mistake, Pothom etc. lighten up with the critique, for christ’s sake, and enjoy the joke already!

  27. keyop says:

    Wow, this one must’ve set a word-count record! Why? Because of the inclusion of the word “saviour”?! Yeesh… fire up the pedantic, mythology wankfest. [in fairness, there’s a lot of good info amongst the writers]
    “Saviour” is a subjective term. An EMT can be a saviour.

    Isn’t it enough that virgin-birth is far from a novel concept?:

    Need a group of followers for your new religion? “Hey, he’s a lot like your old god, only better!”
    Need a compelling origin story that’s proven itself through the ages? “Virgin birth!”

    (way to prove NBH’s limerick true, btw. *thbbt*)

  28. I’ve never considered any myth to be worth more than a very casual reading. Certainly not worth serious categorizing and analysis. This whole thread is like a nerd argument at a trekkie convention. So if Green Lantern and Superman had a fight, who would win? Or should you maybe, in the immortal words of Bill Shatner, get a life?

  29. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    A mythological-related joke:

    A stunning young woman looking for ‘fun’ finds herself in a bar full of deities. After a few drinks and some heavy flirting, she picks one to spend the night with. On the way to his pad she asks him his name.
    “You will know my name by the morning” he replies.
    They make love all night, in every conceivable position, plus a few inconceivable ones; the guy has staying power befitting his superhuman status until, as the sun rises high in the sky, the girl is on the brink of collapse from exhaustion.
    “Enough” she cries, “I can’t take any more. Who are you?”
    The deity lays back on the pillow, hands behind his head, and replies in a booming voice,
    And the girl replies,
    “Tho am I, and mighty thatithfied too, but what the hell ith your name”!

  30. I never clapped to make Tinkerbell live, yet, she lived every time

    it messes with a little kid and makes you wonder if the fairy is real, since real things don’t depend on belief in them

  31. yourmom says:

    This comic is ripped straight from that “documentary” The God Who Wasn’t There. I don’t remember the guys name but he interviews the ONE Bible scholar, Robert Price, that actually thinks Jesus didn’t exist (frankly I’m not entirely convinced he himself believes that, it seems like he has to keep it up to publish books because he can’t even get a job at a decent university). The “documentary” also makes a bunch of embarrassingly naive mistakes like saying John’s Gospel relied on Mark, that we have no information about Christianity in the first century, and this one here about Paul not believing Jesus was real. Really, really, stupid. This whole virgin/supernatural birth thing really has nothing to do with the question of the existence of a historical figure. Everyone from Moses to George Washington has a mythic story of their birth, it doesn’t mean they were fabricated people invented by creative use of Hellenistic motifs. There are plenty of well respected biblical scholars that are agnostic/atheist, and I’m sure they cringe just as much seeing people regurgitate this junk as they do the empty headed fundamentalist Christians.

  32. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Just a wee problem with your view, yourmom; the Romans, terrific record keepers that they were, left lots of records of everything from shopping lists to executions. Funnily enough, they make not ONE mention of your Jesus fella, despite the bible portraying his trial and crucifixion as a Roman ‘showpiece’.
    Do you not think that somebody as important as Christ was supposed to have been; a man on trial for his life amid claims of supernatural origins; a man whose birth was supposed to have resulted in the indiscriminate slaughter of countless first-born males; who openly defied not only the Holy Roman Emperor but kings and ambassadors to boot; who pissed off the Jewish heirarchy so badly; do you not think that this man would have merited at least a passing mention in the official documents of the day? And yet-nothing, zilch, zip, nada, nowt! Does it really make sense that we can look at census records of the time, court documents, private citizens diaries,etc, etc, yet not a mention of supposedly the most important and influential semi-god of the day?
    The first documents to mention him weren’t written until decades after his alleged crucifixion and non-death.

  33. pithom says:

    @ Acolyte of Sagan

    Almost all the information we have for 1st C AD Palestine comes from Josephus, including information about failed Messiahs (just list any other Graeco-Roman author who mentions failed Messiahs in Palestine!). The same present text of Josephus which happens to mention Jesus of Nazareth, twice.

  34. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Josephus wasn’t born until c.37 C.E., by which time Jesus was supposed to be already (un)dead, and therefore would himself have been working from second-hand information, so not exactly contemporary to Jesus of Nazareth. Incidentally, he didn’t refer to Jesus as being ‘of Nazareth’. His two references to a man called Jesus are; As brother of James the Lust (James being leader of a Jewish cult), and as simply ‘Jesus, called the Messiah’.
    So, still no first hand evidence, just more hearsay, rumour and conjecture.
    I stand by my original assertion that there is no contemporary evidence of the guy; that is, nothing written during his alleged lifetime, just stories written years after he was supposed to have died/not died.

  35. yourmom says:

    to Acolyte of Sagan: I actually do some work in early Greek papyri, and the Romans were decent record keepers, though they certainly didn’t write down everything. The biggest problem with your reasoning is that we have very very little surviving records of anything in Roman Palestine from the first century (why the Dead Sea Scrolls were the discovery of the century). Apart from minimal stone epigraphy, nearly all the documentation we have come from Egypt, either geniza or stuff from Oxyrhynchus. It would be astronomically fortuitous to uncover a Roman record of Jesus, and to say that we should expect to find a record of ANYTHING, let alone something specific is not really a fair expectation. As a parallel example, the only surviving document for the existence of Pontius Pilate from the first century is ONE stone inscription, and he was the freaking prefect of Judaea! You are also making an error in assuming that the Gospels record either all true or all unreliable information. The Massacre of the Innocents (which probably would have been dozens, not “countless”) does not need to be historical for Jesus to have existed. The historical reliability of certain details about the account of Jesus’ trial in the Gospels is also not something I need to claim. Certainly the Gospels portray a tremendous hullabaloo surrounding his trial, but we don’t know if that was the case. Finally, we tend to assume that, like today, first century Palestine was a culture of writing. It wasn’t. It was an oral culture. Even the biggest skeptics, including Price would say that material we have in the gospels (canonical and extracanonical, leaving Paul aside entirely) provides record of Jesus from very shortly after Jesus life. Anyway, point is, it’s very difficult to maintain this position that Jesus as a historical figure is in doubt without placing yourself in a very marginal extreme that almost invariably suggests ulterior motive.

  36. While this is all no doubt very interesting from an academic point of view, and while I’m blown away by the collective scholarship displayed on this thread, whether Jesus was a real person or not is of very little interest to me. All of the events surrounding his birth, life and crucifixion are so obviously either a complete fabrication, or a case of spin doctoring a horrifically barbaric execution into a heroic death with a purpose. Everything from the three magi to the loaves and fishes and water into wine and resurrecting Lazarus and “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”, everything is incredible in the true meaning of that word, as in, not to be believed. Maybe there was a shit disturbing prophet named Jesus sometime around the turn of the centuries. Maybe not. The myth and the mythologizing was so obviously fabricated by the organized Christian church, for very obvious reasons of power and control.
    The concept of Jesus taking on the sins of the world is so obviously just an extension of the scapegoat principle. The idea that a loving God would sacrifice his own son so that you could be saved makes him, first of all, not a very loving god, more like a crazy psychopath. And second of all, it makes Him a god with a very limited repertoire of techniques for saving you, given that it was He who set up the whole system and game in the first place.
    So, really who cares whether Jesus was a real person or not. It’s all a steaming crock from the word go. Let’s just give it a rest.

  37. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    As usual, Darwin Harmless is the voice of intelligent reason and cuts through the bull succinctly.
    Well said Sir, if only others would follow your example!

    Now people, how about a bit of appreciation for my ‘Mighty Thor’ gag up there? There’s nothing worse than not being appreciated y’know 🙂

  38. FreeFox says:

    @DH: Somehow I can’t quite shake that vague but insistant feeling that you don’t really care much for myths. I don’t know, call it a hunch.
    I was enjoying the scholarly discourse. But then I always thought that myths had that certain je ne sais quois, you know… ^_^

  39. FreeFox says:

    @AoS: I knew the joke from Gaiman’s Sandman (The Season of Mists, that I keep referencing), though there Thor himself tells it boastfully to cat-headed Basted of the Egyptian pantheon, and the punshline is: “You are thor? I am tho thor I can hardly walk…” And it meets with even more stony silence than your telling here did, leading him to conjur up a raining cloud over his own had and slink away grumbling… 😛

    As for DH cutting through the bull (Mithras or steaks anyone?), I agree that historicity – or the memetic ancestry – of Jesus as of any other myth is its least interesting aspect, just as the genetic ancestry while not entirely without importance is really the least interesting aspect of any biological (or, to some of you, “real”) person.

  40. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @FF; without wishing to speak on another’s behalf, especially one who speaks so eloquently for himself, I think you’re wrong about DH & myths, but of course I stand to be corrected.
    There’s nothing wrong with a good myth, they can make for entertaining stories and tell us a lot about the people from the so called mythological eras, whether that be ancient Roman or Egyptian, feudal Japanese or more recent, such as the ‘Angel of Mons’ myth from WWI. A myth only becomes a problem when people not only believe and live their lives by that myth, but try to use it to influence the lives of others, because that way lays religion, and we’ve all seen what that can do to this already territorial and aggressive species, especially when arguments break out over who’s myth is best, or one set decide to force their myth on others.
    One of my favourite books (and I have a shit-load of books) is called ‘Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain’ (admittedly and without shame a ‘Readers Digest’ publication). It is a fascinating way of seeing how the beliefs and superstitions of a nation’s people have changed (or not) over the centuries and continue into the present day, and shows how these beliefs generally cause no harm; they stay localised, usually only known about within a single county, town or even tiny hamlet. I have other books on old European and Asian myths of a similar nature and the all make good reads.
    However, having said that, one of my least favourite books is another collection of myths, legends and superstition, but one that ‘went viral’, infecting and affecting the minds and lives of billions over two millenia. I don’t need to name that one though, do I?
    And as for my joke, what can I say? It’s rare for a genius to be truly appreciated during his lifetime 🙂

  41. pithom says:

    By “information” of course, I meant received textual information (we can learn quite a lot about Roman Palestine simply from archaeology). My point was that should not expect evidence of any particular messiah figure from 1st C AD Palestine from either the archaeological or textual record until Josephus.

    My question in my third comment was meant as a response to a comparison of Jesus with G’Kar of Babylon 5. Of course, while I have not yet found a non-Christian figure who was claimed to do the same main thing claimed to have been done by Jesus, it is quite obvious that such a figure could easily be formed from whole cloth, although whether this figure would end up being similar to the Jesus of the NT is doubtful.

    I, too, agree that the question of the historicity of Jesus is largely irrelevant for most of Roman history. The large amount of scholarly literature focusing on the origin of Earliest Christianity is only due to the prominence of Christianity in Euro-American society and some people’s wish to understand the beginnings of common cultural phenomena.

    However, this thread was caused by the mere fact it is hard to laugh at a joke when roughly half of its assumptions happen to be wrong.

  42. yourmom says:

    Dear Darwin Harmless, some of the ideas you suggest are represented in scholarship. Dr. Marcus from Duke wrote a fascinating article a few years back that you might enjoy on turning the gruesome act of crucifixion into something akin to “heroic”: “Crucifixion as Parodic Exaltation,” JBL 125 (2006), pp. 73-87. Concerning Jesus’ life, teaching, miracles, etc. everything is “spin doctoring” to the extent that it is written from a perspective, something hardly avoidable. It’s the case with any record of ancient historical events. While you may doubt miracles and what not a priori, there are various ways, especially in text criticism to determine the authenticity of sayings, pericope, etc. This is the bread and butter of gospel scholarship.

    The assumption that the myth and mythologizing was invented by the organized Church is a completely anachronistic idea. The Church was neither organized nor unified until centuries later, and even this notion is now being broken down as scholars recognize the prejudice in assuming the Constantinian Orthodoxy to be normative for all Christianity when in fact it remained incredibly diverse in belief and practice outside of Roman Empire and it’s inheritors. Certainly we could say the Nicene-Constantinopolitan reforms had power and control in mind, but again you’re off by a few centuries. There really isn’t much we can call a normative Christian myth/mythology in the period we call “early Christianity” and control and power were definitely not on the radar but for some specific inter-Christian disputes.

    The idea that Jesus’ death is a substitutionary atonement, or “a scapegoat principle” as you call it, is indeed obvious. I’m not sure what you mean by pointing this out…the way the events fit into the Israelite idea would seem to me an argument in favor of it’s authenticity, if not understood this way by Jesus himself, then certainly almost immediately after his death. Also I can’t help but recommend this book which traces that very idea of child sacrifice and substitution in the Ancient world: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3wxongh.

    It’s always been interesting to me that it’s the atheists that struggle the most to let these things go… clearly

  43. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @pithom; You say ” it is hard to laugh at a joke when roughly half of its assumptions happen to be wrong.”

    To paraphrase Jimmy Carr; “a joke is like a frog. You can take it apart to see how it works but the frog dies”.
    Just enjoy it for what it is and stop being so literal. If somebody said to you “A bear walks into a pub and asks the barmaid……”, would you stop them and say “I think you’ll find that bears can’t actually talk, therefore your ‘joke’ is based on a falsehood and will not be funny”?

    @yourmom, re “It’s always been interesting to me that it’s the atheists that struggle the most to let these things go… clearly”
    You’re wrong there, we have let it go; we just want to help the less fortunate to let it go too, and we won’t do that by agreeing with them.

  44. @Acolyte of Sagan. Thank you for the defense, if that’s what it was, and you are quite right that I enjoy a good myth, just as I enjoy a good Star Trek Episode, but discussing the the construction and layout of the Enterprise, or the historical existence of the Nazarene both seem to me to be nerdish in the extreme.
    As for your joke, I was letting it pass without comment because I read it in Playboy magazine back in about 1963 with the punchline “I’m so thor I can hardly pith.” It may be an oldie and a goody, but it didn’t have me ROFL. And I thought it would be cruel and possibly embarrassing to point this out to you. Sorry about that. You’re not playing with kids here.
    @yourmom Tell me something I don’t know. 🙂
    @FreeFox You amuse me, sir. As usual. I do appreciate your contributions to these discussions.

  45. @yourmom “It’s always been interesting to me that it’s the atheists that struggle the most to let these things go… clearly”
    In this you are very mistaken. I let these things go back in my early teens. The people who have trouble letting them go are the biblical scholars (I’m tempted to call that an oxymoron) and the believers, who refuse to examine any of the absurd claims with a skeptical mind.

  46. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @DH: Thank you for the acknowledgement, but in all honesty ’twas not so much a defence of you that I was making, I was merely disagreeing with FF over his perception of you. So the first paragraph was my personal opinion based on how I perceive you and the rest was my own view of mythology which was not supposed to be a representation of yours; as I stated above, I have no wish to speak on behalf of a third person. That said, I’m pleased that I am still a good judge of character, and may I say that you are, without a doubt, the most polite and erudite curmudgeon I’ve ever come across 🙂
    As to my joke, I know it’s an oldie, it’s probably been around for as long as humans have lisped; the plea for appreciation was a misguided (and failed) attempt to detract from the preceding ‘my refutation of the myth’s truer than yours’ nonsense that had gotten boring. I’m no spring chicken myself y’know.

  47. HaggisForBrains says:

    @ Aos – Your Jimmy Carr quote in reply to Pithom is spot on – I wish I had thought of it earlier.

  48. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @HFB: Cheers; in my opinion Carr is one of the best of the current crop of comics, a Monkhouse for the 21stC, if you will, albeit far closer to the knuckle. His book ‘The Naked Jape’ (cracking title and brilliant cover pic), co-written with Lucy Greeves, is a study of the history of jokes, well worth a read.

  49. FreeFox says:

    @AoS & DH: If I misunderstood the esteemed Darwin Harmless, I apologise. It must have been the statement “I’ve never considered any myth to be worth more than a very casual reading” that must have confused me. His retelling of the joke’s punchline (“pith” instead of “walk”) was the one I knew, too, I had just forgotten it. Way better that way. Ta. (And you make me feel like a little child against you collected age… ^_^)
    If I am permitted the question, AoS, is there irony in your adopted handle, or are you a genuine follower of CS? Bc if the latter, what do you think of the ending of “Contact” (book, not film)? I read it recently and was very, um, confused. It seemed strangely apologetic of religion, even supportive of the religious experience. Plus: God’s signature in Pi? Wtf? What are your (or any other valued commentator’s) thoughts on that?

  50. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @FF: I’m a genuine admirer of Sagan, the ‘handle’ being a play on the “ATHEISTS ARE DEVIL WORSHIPPERS” bollocks spouted by the foaming-at-the-mouth ‘BLOCK-CAP CHRISTIANS’ that pop up on these sites.
    As for the end of Contact, I saw that as Sagan’s take on Clarke’s third law, but for him to spell it out as such would, I feel, have been patronising to the reader.

  51. FreeFox says:

    @AoS: Don’t know much of Sagan, only Contact (book and film) and Pale Blue Dot (book and audiobook read by Sagan himself). It just struck me as very odd that someone who has something of a status as saint (so to speak) with the more outspoken atheists would write a last chapter in Contact that (to me) so perfectly described the nature of a religious experience – an experience that seems too indisputable and profound even in the face of no physical proof whatsoever to discard, and the frustration of not being able to make another human, who hasn’t shared the experience, see its value. And where in the end a hard, practical mind like that of security advisor Kitz becomes a sort of doubting and even persecuting Saul, while the preacher Joss turns into a good friend and confidant of the main character.

  52. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    @FF: Although it’s been an eon since I read Contact, and am a little rusty on the detail, I think that you’ve put your finger on what he was saying with that ending. Finding absolute proof of extraterrestrial intelligent life would (to a greater extent than finding non-intelligent life), be as profound as finding absolute proof of god, but to have discovered that proof (of the lifeform rather than god) and have no evidence to show for it requires others to take a remarkable ‘leap of faith’ to believe it, just as religion does now.
    As for pi? My own view of this part is that Sagan is telling us that the very idea of a god in the creation of everything is superfluous, as can be explained through the medium of calculus; basically, rather than an omnipotent, omniscient being, ‘God and His works’ can be shown to be no more than a set of mathematical equations. God is indeed in the detail!

  53. et al says:

    ” “eating the bread and drinking the cup” was an important Christian ritual. In any case, the Last Supper tradition was “received from the Lord”-it is not certain whether the tradition was entirely a result of Paul’s vision or Paul’s vision was confirmation of the Apostolic tradition”

    how can you be so ignorant of the basis for your own traditions other than willfully?
    “The last supper” was a pesach sedar, ie a ritual meal held during the JEWISH holiday of passover. This is why passover is also celebrated in christianity, and why its timing follows an adjusted lunar calendar (ie the Hebrew calendar). If there was a Jesus, he was a Jew. His mother also had sex, and he was most likely married and boffing Mary Magdalene.


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