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Thread: The Basis of Christianity

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    The Basis of Christianity

    If you talk to God, you are praying. If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. - Archbishop William Temple

    The Basis of Christianity
    By M. Magee

    The Christian revelation is not the only one. Other religions claim to reveal some truth or truths of God, and many have written it down in a holy book. The particular revelation which any human accepts, and therefore their notions of truth, depends upon the accident of birth and education. This might not be so bad if each revelation tolerated the others, but each counts itself unique, and the rest are heretical or infidel.

    The Christian revelation is presented as a unique sacred history—the supernatural birth of a saviour, the slaughter of the innocents, the temptation in the wilderness, the performance of miracles, the death and resurrection of the god. But similar stories were features of pre-Christian religions, and Christians call them myths. The Christian sacred history is therefore just as mythical, the only difference being that Christians cannot see it. Though most of Christianity’s myths are Pagan, Christian prelates habitually decry Paganism as the work of the Devil. One ought to conclude that Christianity is the work of the Devil.

    Christianity cannot boast an inner unity of its own. It is divided into a bewildering array of sects, each differing from others on essential questions. Protestants and Catholics both like to eat their god in their services of worship, but whereas Protestants regard the wafers and wine as merely symbolic of eating the flesh of an incarnate god, the Catholics believe the wafers and wine actually become the flesh of the god at the moment of ingestion by a magic called transubstantiation that prevents anyone from actually noticing it. This distinction in their interpretation of their ritual cannibalism is considered sufficient for a schism.

    In these schisms, the churches exemplify the contradictions of their scriptures. The only point they agree upon is that these scriptures which are so contrary are the very word of God Himself! They have the same God, but remain quite separate and distinct even when they occupy the same country and profess to represent the same people to God.

    The first book of the bible, Genesis, is based upon mistaken ideas of the universe, and the shape, movements and mutual relations of the earth and sun. It relates primitive stories like those of the “fall of man”, “the flood” and the “tower of Babel”, and two separate stories of “the creation”, that contradict one another.

    All are of demonstrably Mesopotamian provenance, and are interesting as mythology, but Christians refuse to doubt they are inspired by God’s Holy Ghost and therefore true. Reasonable people can accept that these are primitive creation myths, admirable in their own way as the efforts of unscientific people to understand the world. But Christians insist they are absolutely true and inerrant because God said so.

    The real reason is the whole Christian theory of “redemption” depends upon these myths being true.

    The first and second chapters of Genesis contain two creation stories differing from each other in almost every particular of time, place, and order. The first account extends from Genesis 1:1 to 2:3, when the second account commences, and extends to the end of the chapter, when the account of the fall of man begins.

    The first account is called the Elohistic account because it names God as “Elohim” a word that is actually the Hebrew plural for “gods”, not God. It could not have been gods because the Israelites are certain in their own history, which happens to be this very book called the bible, that they were always believers only in a single God. The explanation is that the Israelites, though monotheistic, liked their god to use the royal “we”, and so was always represented as what biblicists call a plural of majesty! Later, the Christians discovered that God was a single God but existed as conjoined triplets in a Trinity, so “we” was entirely approriate for Him—or rather Them—to use.

    The second account is called the Yahwistic account because the name of God in it is “YHWH Elohim” which actually means “YHWH of the gods” but is always deliberately mistranslated as “Lord God”. If YHWH really means “Lord” in Hebrew, as it is translated, then YHWH Elohim is “Lord of the Gods”, a sensible title for the high God of a pantheon of gods. The Canaanites, of whom the Israelites were a branch, worshipped such a pantheon and had a high god called El, or El Elyon, which curiously means “the Most High God”, and appears as such as another name of God in the Jewish scriptures!

    These two Genesis accounts can neither be reconciled with each other nor be made to harmonize with science. The Elohistic version has the rudiments of scientific justification but the Yahwistic is purely fairy tale. Consider the two accounts item by item for comparison:

    •The Elohist calls the universe beyond the earth “heaven”, but the Yahwist always uses “the heavens”.
    •The Elohist says the earth is a chaos covered with water which must subside before vegetation can appear. The Yahwist says the earth is a dry plain where vegetation cannot exist because it has never rained.
    •The Elohist says plants appear from the earth generally, but the Yahwist implies that plants were originally confined to the Garden of Eden.
    •The Elohist says fowls, fish and aquatic animals were created in one act of creation and animals and reptiles in another. The Yahwist considers, however, that all of these were created together.
    •The Elohist thinks fowls were made out of water, whereas the Yahwist thought they were made out of the ground.
    •The Elohist says fowls were made before man, but the Yahwist says after.
    •The Elohist says trees were made before man, but the Yahwist says after.
    •The Elohist has man created after the beasts, but the Yahwist has him made before the beasts.
    •For the Elohist, woman was made together with man, but the Yahwist thinks she was made much later merely as a help meet for man.
    •The Elohist tells us man was created in the image of God, but in the Yahwistic version only by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge does the man become like “the gods”.
    •The Elohist says God gave man fruit and herbs to live on, but the Yahwist says man at first had fruit and after being cursed for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge was he made to eat the herb of the field.
    •The God of the Elohist gave man dominion over all the earth, but the God of the Yahwist confined man originally to the Garden of Eden.
    •The God of the Elohist made the universe in six days and he rested on the seventh, but the God of the Yahwist made it all in one day.
    •The purpose of the Elohist is to provide a divine basis for the measurement of time in six days and the sabbath day constituting a week, but the purpose of the Yahwist is to provide a basis for the sinfulness of mankind.
    •The Elohist implies that God looks like men, but the Yahwist does not tell us about God’s appearance.
    •The Elohist speaks of “the Elohim” now meaning gods existing as separate sexes like humans, but the Yahwist suggests that YHWH is a solitary male.
    •The Elohist has Elohim coming to the earth to lust after human women and have sexual relations with them, as classical gods do, but the Yahwist has God coming to earth to mould man and breathe life into him and to make other creatures.

    Genesis begins, “The earth was without form and void”. The Holy Ghost begins quite well in the light of modern science which is that the universe did not exist, it was void, then exploded into existence in a “Big Bang”. Then Genesis starts the absurdities. Light and darkness are created and divided from each other, but light and darkness could not be divided for us on earth because they are produced by the rotation of the earth with respect to the sun. Unfortunately the sun was not created till the fourth day! Apparently the Holy Ghost was ignorant of the properties of light, and the rotation of the earth.

    Then “a firmament in the midst of the waters” was created. The Holy Ghost seems to think that the earth was flat ocean in the centre of the universe.

    Then the vegetable kingdom was created, grass, herbs, fruit trees, yielding fruit, mosses, trees, presumably insectivorous plants though insects have not yet been created, and flowing plants though there are no insects to fertilize them. All this without an atom of chlorophyll to give colour to the plants, leaves, and flowers because so far there had not been a ray of sunshine, and what use is chlorophyll without it?

    At last the Holy Ghost thinks of “the sun to rule the day, and the stars to rule the night”. Perhaps the plants could have survived a day without chlorophyll and now they are given it!

    On the fifth day we find that “whales, fishes, and birds” are created, the water population first, the winged population second, and the land population third. The Holy Ghost did not realize that, though the water population appeared first, the land population was second, and the winged population last. Oh, and he seems to think that whales are fish not mammals.

    Finally we have “insects, reptiles, cattle, man” created. Sorry, Holy Ghost, insects and reptiles were actually millions, of years before man. God, who popularly has no image nor likeness—no form nor parts, makes man in the “image and likeness”—of God! Man is of the image and likeness of God not because God made him that way but because men have made for themselves the God they wanted to worship according to their own anthropomorphic fancy—like them.

    Adam and Eve, a pair of human beings, who have no “knowledge of good and evil”, and are commanded by the deity (literally, “the gods”) not to eat a certain fruit which would give them that knowledge. One can be forgiven for wondering why this god did not force feed the pair with the fruit then they would have known what to expect. The answer that the Gnostics deduced was that the fruit would allow the pair to realize that this god was not actually a good one. Well, they ate it and still believe that God is good which must mean that either he is or the human race are terminally thick.

    The pair having eaten the fruit, the creator, in fright—because man has now “become as one of us”, apparently having equal power with gods, again using the plural—comes hurrying down from his throne in heaven, and curses not only Adam, Eve, and the serpent, but even the ground. The first three are condemned to certain punishments, in which their innocent posterity are to participate, for humankind to bear the burden of original sin. Our creator—supposedly all-good, all-wise, benevolent, merciful and forgiving—condemns the whole human race to an eternal punishment in normal life for the offence of using the curiosity which the creator had presumably given us along with our brains.

    But these punishments were never uniformly fulfilled. Man was to “eat bread by the sweat of his face”, but plenty of the born rich have never had to work in their entire lives. Woman was to “bring forth children in sorrow” but, though it can be difficult, most women have children without sorrow, and many with joy. The Serpent was doomed to glide on his belly and consume a diet of “dust”, but snakes evolved without legs because an ecological niche existed for a legless reptile, and they do not eat dust. The Holy Ghost seems to be confusing snakes and earthworms. Besides the dignity of God being demolished by His behaving in a peevish and infantile manner, the guilty devil was allowed to get off scot free, and to roam about the world doing further mischief!

    The deity at first pronounces all his creations “good”, but then wishes he’d never made man. Why then didn’t he immediately return the humans he had made to the clay from which he made them and have another go. Perhaps he’s only a baby god just learning how to make things and he only thought about it later, or perhaps he’s only a juvenile god and he thought it might be good fun to see what happens. It is impossible to conceive a creator of infinite wisdom and knowledge regretting his work and it is impossible to believe that such a God would concoct such a load of tripe through his Holy Ghost expecting to persuade the sinners he created to repent. Yet, unless Christians accept this tissue of contradictions, their theory of redemption falls to the ground like a house of cards.

    During the excavations of the ancient cities of Assyria and Babylonia clay tablets were discovered. They are written in cuneiform (wedge-shaped) characters, in the form of epic poems. The clay tablets contained the accounts of the creation and flood so similar to those of Genesis, but older, that the debt of the bible to the older works cannot be denied.

    Tablets have also been discovered amid the ruins of the ancient city of Tel-el-Amarna, in Egypt, evidently relics of an ancient library containing the official correspondence between the pharaoh of Egypt and the kings or officials of Assyria, Babylonia, and smaller asian countries. The decipherment of these has disclosed the origin of the two contradictory accounts of creation given in Genesis, which before was a puzzle. The Babylonian account is the Elohistic, relating how the creation of the world took place by successive stages, man being the final act. The Akkadian is the Yahwistic, man being created before plants and animals.

    The first tablet opens with a description of chaos. The unopened deep was the generator of heaven and earth. Mummu-Tiamat (the chaos of the sea) was the mother of them all. Their waters were embosomed as one, and the cornfield was unharvested. The pasture was ungrown. At that time the gods had not appeared, any of them… no destiny had they fixed. Then the great gods were created.

    The twelve Babylonian tablets in which the legend of the flood appears correspond with the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve months of the Akkadian year. They describe the exploits of the Chaldean Hercules—Gilgamesh. The story is told to Gilgamesh, in the eleventh tablet by the Chaldean Noah—Tamzi, Izduhar, or Hasisadra (Xisuthros of Berosus, and in Semitic, shamas napisti, the “Sun of Life”). This flood lasted six days and nights.

    The story tells how, at the end of the Flood, Tamzi looked out of his ship and saw that “mankind was turned to clay; like reeds the corpses floated”. Relating how he was commissioned by the gods to save himself and family, he says:

    I alone was the servant of the great gods. Their father, Anu, their king; their counsellor, the warrior Bel, their throne-bearer, the god Uras, their prince, En-nugi, and Hea (Iah), the Lord of the Underworld, repeated their decree. I this destiny hearing, Hea said to me: Destroy thy house and build a ship, for I will destroy the seed of life.

    From the instructions he received, Tamzi built the ship and eventually it landed on Mount Nizor (Mount Rowandiz)—the Akkadian Olympus. In the Hindu legend of the flood, a rainbow appeared on the surface of the subsiding water, the ark or ship resting on the Himalayas. In the ancient Greek legend Deucalion is the hero, and the ship rested on Mount Parnassus. The Chinese, Parsees, Scandinavians, Mexicans, and other ancient nations, also had similar legends.

    Latterly the idea has been mooted with some backing that the flooding of the Black Sea basin around 5000 BC might have provided the original idea of the flooding of the world. Despite the vast volumes of water that must have flowed in from the Dardanelles the filling up process would have been slow enough for most people to flee ahead of it. The point of the story might have been that some people built boats or rafts to help save their livestock. From the Black Sea, on the Eurasian steppes, the legend could have easily spread East, West and South in each case taking it to places where devastating floods were common, thereby entering local folklore and explaining its wide distribution.

    Not far to the south of the Black Sea in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, floods were commonplace caused by the usual periodical rise of the two great rivers, which took place in the eleventh month of the Chaldean year. But archaeology has discovered evidence of a particularly devastating flood caused by the normal seasonal flooding combined with a typhoon in the Indian ocean, the winds of which piled up a massive head of water into the Persian Gulf. Such disasters would have kept flood legends well to the fore of local folklore in Babylon. The Persian colonists of Yehud, no doubt captives from some place in Mesopotamia, knew stories about the flood and wrote it into their sacred books in about the fourth century BC.

    Noah’s ark was 150 yards long by 25 feet wide, and 15 feet high. In this ark were crammed pairs, sevens, or fourteens of every living thing. There are thousands of species of mammals, thousands of species of birds, thousands of species of reptiles and snakes, and millions of species of insects and lesser creatures. This was some floating zoo. Genesis 7:14 tells us creatures came from all parts of the earth. Eight people attended to the wants of smillions of living creatures, and Noah provided food for all of them! If the flood covered the whole earth, it must have risen higher than the height of the highest mountain, Mount Everest, almost six miles. Even school children find this incredible. The injustice of drowning all created beings because the creator had made one species imperfect is obvious.

    The Christian doctrine of atonement expressed by S Augustine is that the first man, Adam, in disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, had introduced sin to the world. Every human being thenceforth was born with original sin, and so humanity has been sinful ever since. Adam’s punishment was banishment from the Garden and to have to work with the sweat of his brow to survive, and so all human beings have been similarly punished ever since. The theory then is that God eventually relented. He must have decided he had made a mistake, been too cruel on his human products, or had punished the innocent seed of Adam enough, and sought a way to save or redeem all of Adam’s successors from the sin the first man brought into the world. Not a difficult task for an almighty, one might think, but God came up with the idea of appearing on earth Himself in the form of a man in every respect, except that He was perfectly good as men should be.

    It was not just that though. God had gotten used to humanity for æons offering Him sacrifices, at first human beings then later on animals and cereals, and such. So, God’s plan was that He would make sure He too was sacrificed as a human sacrifice whose blood would be the redeeming agent, and could be commemorated forever in the holy mystery of the holy communion. The joining of a god and man through a sacrifice to appease the god for human wrong makes them “at one”, whence “atonement”, because the god, being present in the sacrifice which was consumed, became part of man. The sacrifice was considered to be the god so that the god was himself sacrificed and consumed. This symbolic human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism is implicit in the Christian mass or holy communion. Christians are therefore no longer stopped from entering Heaven because of original sin. The crucifixion saw to it. The sacrifice of God acting as His own son redeemed the sinners of the world and made people pure again. So God sent His son, Himself really, to suffer a sacrificial death as satisfaction for Adam’s crime. Clever stuff, eh?

    The trouble is that if the stories about Adam in the bible are myths, there is no need for the redemptive sacrifice of the Son of God to atone for his sin. If the “Fall of Man” is mythical, sin did not enter the world by the disobedience of Eve. And if Eve, being mythical, could not have introduced the contagion of sin, there is no “Original Sin” for mankind to inherit and therefore no need for God to appear as a saviour to give his life to rectify Adam and Eve’s fault.

    Moreover, it is a continuation of a primitive Pagan belief. Pagan gods in their myths, frequently died for the good of man,and commonly the god sacrificed himself to himself. The source of such beliefs is the cycle of the seasons, the death of Nature in winter or the dry season and its resurrection in spring or with the rains.

    The true beneficiaries of the sacrificial system was the professional priesthood. All they had to do was to sacrifice the animals, burn a few horrid bits for the god and eat all the choice bits themselves. To keep the offerings coming from the superstitious people they created the idea of gods as potentates with a poor disposition that had to be constantly placated. Naturally people would have been familiar with the idea of tetchy and warlike princes robbing them. Gods were given human behaviour. Potentates could be mitigated by gifts, their anger turning to smiles when the gift was especially desirable. Gods just had more furious angers and sunnier smiles. When famine, flood and misfortune struck, the god was angry. Gifts were needed to make him smile again. The sins of men angered the gods who had to be appeased by sacrifice. As the gift could not be carried up to the celestial throne, they were burnt so that their essence was carried up on the air to the heavenly potentates as a sweet-smelling savour. The jewish priests devised a whole classification of burnt-offerings and sin-offerings which eventually made them extremely rich.

    The bible actually shows the priests getting greedier. Burnt-offerings originally were the fruits of the earth—vegetables, fruits, roots—the cheapest produce in value. But the priests were not satisfied with the occasional animal sacrifice and a load of vegetation the rest of the time. They suggested to the gullible believers that a more valuable offering would sooner and more effectually secure divine favour. Levies were made on herds of cattle, sheep, goats and other domestic animals.

    Jehovah’s preference for Abel’s offering to Cain’s is thus explained. Cain offered merely inanimate substances but Abel offered the firstlings of the flock—a more valuable offering and sufficient to induce Jehovah to prefer it, according to his priests.

    Eventually the growth of civilisation put human sacrifice out of fashion. Civilised societies could not tolerate having their citizens ritually murdered, and philosophers, moralists and especially kings invented the idea of substitutes. Sacrifice became the sacrifice of the animal of the god but was still identified with the appropriate fertility god so the “god” died for God for the benefit of the people. This practice became the basis of many myths. Adonis was killed by a boar but the boar was himself. Mithras sacrificed a bull but the bull was himself. Similarly the goat and bull of Dionysus, the bear of Artemis, and so on. Attis castrated himself to death fulfilling his dual role as Father god and sacrificed son. Isaiah 53 speaks of a national figure, not the Messiah, who atones for the sins of the people by his suffering and death. The person is the nation of Israel itself whose people have to suffer to be righteous. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, Christ is the High Priest who sacrificed himself to put away sin.

    Choosing a scapegoat or some other suitable animal was another way of expiating the sins of the people. The scapegoat of Leviticus 16:10 carrying the sins of the nation was driven into the wilderness to be eaten by wild animals and atone for the sins of the people. A cloth would be soaked in the blood of some sacrificial animal, tied to the horns of the scapegoat to represent the people’s sins, and the animal would be driven out into the desert or the jungle to fend for itself. The sins were thereby disposed of. But if a scapegoat should have been found some time later, it often had the tatters of the bloody rag still tied to its horns and, miraculously, the blood redness of the sins had faded or disappeared. It was washed by the rain and bleached by the sun, in fact, but was seen as the efficacy of the magic by the primitive sinners. This is the meaning of Isaiah 1:18:

    Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall become as wool...

    ...respectively red and white.

    Many other texts in the Christian bible can be elucidated by using Eastern tradition. Some animal was used by different nations to carry off the imaginary load of the people’s sins. For the Jews it was a scapegoat, for the Egyptians scape-ox, for the Hindus a scape-horse, for the Chaldeans a scape-ram, for the Britons a scape-bull, for the Mexicans a scape-lamb and scape-mouse, for the Tamils a scape-hen, and for the Christians at a later period a scape-God.

    Jesus Christ is a scape-God for Christians, because he serves the same function as the goat did to the jews. Like the goat he carried away the sins of the people—now the people of the whole world, as long as they believe. At the time of Christ, offerings of a lamb or a goat were common for the remission of sins. Note that Jesus is called the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) Two thousand years ago the Mexican indians sacrificed a lamb as an atonement, calling it the Lamb of God. The conception is the same—atonement for sin by taking an innocent life for a guilty life.

    1 Peter 2:24 declares Christ bore our sins upon his own body on a tree, showing that the whole conception is of the same ancient origin. When Christians laugh at the jewish superstition of a scapegoat, let them consider how more sensible and intelligent they are disposing of their sins on the body of a God.

    So, primitive people believed that the gods demanded a sacrifice to atone for sin or avert calamity, and Christians even today, have the same idea common among the ancients. They think humanity, having sinned at birth, has to look forward to a God sent saviour to redeem them through his suffering and death—by being cruelly sacrificed. For Christians this saviour was Jesus Christ who was crucified.

    He that is hanged on a tree is accursed of God.
    Deuteronomy 21:22; Galatians 3:13Hanging on a tree was a common form of punishment and a gibbet made in the form of a cross for hanging or crucifixion was called a tree—frequently “the accursed tree”. Crucifixion is a variant of hanging on a tree, the tree symbolising life as the tree of life. Thus, Osiris and Horus were crucified as saviours and redeemers. The sufferings, death and resurrection of Osiris formed the great mystery of the Egyptian religion. Attis, the “only begotten son and saviour” of the Phrygians, was depicted as a man nailed or tied to a tree, at the foot of which was a lamb.

    Tammuz or Adonis, the Syrian and jewish Adonai, was another god, who suffered for mankind as a crucified saviour. Prometheus, of Greece, was chained and nailed, with arms extended, to the rocks on Mount Caucasus, as a saviour. This crucifixion tragedy was acted in Athens 500 years before the Christ was to be crucified himself. Bacchus, the offspring of Jupiter and Semele, was “the only begotten son”, who bore the sins of his people and thus redeemed them, a religious process so common that anthropologists call it an apotropaic ritual. Hercules, son of Hermes, Zeus, Apollo, Serapis, Zoroaster and Mithras of ancient Persia—The Logos—were all saviours centuries before Jesus was made one.

    Crucifixes displaying the god Indra are to be seen at the corners of the roads in the Himalayas. In some parts of India people worship a crucified god, Bulli, an incarnation of Vishnu. The incarnate god and saviour Buddha expired at the foot of the tree. Krishna came to earth to redeem man by his sufferings. The whole history of Krishna resembles that of Jesus, even in them both being crucified. He has been represented impaled on a cross by an arrow. One wonders why a revelation of the new Christian truth would seem to be a continuation of ancient and mistaken practices.

    Besides all that and even if the redemption theory were correct, surely God must have been able to come up with something better than appearing as a man and sacrificing Himself, especially since it happened where no one important noticed it, and the propagation of the story depended upon disciples who were terminally stupid. Today it seems outrageous that a loving god should want a deliberate sacrifice involving compulsory torture and suffering for Him to be compassionate. And when God tortures Himself, He sounds like a masochist.

    The earliest Christians whether jewish or gentile were primed by jewish belief in the scriptural myths to accept a sacrificial explanation of Jesus Barabbas’s death in atonement for the sins of mankind. In the Christian bible, the chief evangelist and the man most responsible for making Christianity into an eastern saviour religion, Paul, expresses the view graphically:

    Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin.

    And the Christian God is said to be the God of love by his adherents. Despite Paul’s disgusting primitivism, now even the animal sacrifice has gone in civilised societies having been substituted by the nibbling of a tiny biscuit or the spilling of wine. Nonetheless, the idea of the supreme sacrifice remains and Christians have to believe that the supreme sacrifice of their god, Jesus, 2000 years ago, means something real. Sipping wine or nibbling a cake is the symbolic death of their god who voluntarily offered his life for the sins of the people. Actual human sacrifice was transformed into symbolic sacrifice of a god.

    Christians consider the value of the victim such that it atoned for all sin, past, present and future, for all the human race. The concept is fine except that there is nothing in it for the professional caste of holy men—the priests. To maintain their interest, they prescribed that actually not everyone would be saved—only those who believed were saved and to maintain their belief they had better do what the priest told them or face eternal death. Strange as it might seem to an unbiased reader, this proved to be a much more powerful and enduring system!

    In Christian theology, the Father sends His own innocent Son upon the cross to atone for the sins of Adam and Eve. Yet it is a double wrong to punish the innocent for the guilty. It is the infliction of injustice on the one hand, and the omission of justice on the other. It inflicts the highest penalty of the law upon an innocent being, whom that law ought to shield from punishment, while it exculpates and liberates the guilty party, whose punishment the moral law demands.

    Where is the mercy or forgiveness in putting any innocent creature to death? And why is it necessary when it was God who cursed the offspring of Adam for their disobedience in the first place. First, He takes implacable revenge on his own children rather than forgive their moral weakness which he gave them, deliberately if he is omnipotent but possibly out of incompetence otherwise, then he decides to use a barbaric human custom writ large to solve the problem. He alone was responsible for the initial sin and with His supposed power He ought to have been able to resolve the problem in a less barbaric way.

    Even if we accept the contention that the doctrine of the atonement meant God voluntarily offered himself in his aspect of the son, and that he has willingly suffered as a human for his own errors, we are in terrible territory for theology. It is a can of worms which it is not worth opening. We have the absurdity of God punishing himself to appease his own wrath. For if “the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ bodily”, as taught in Colossians 2:9, then his death was the death of God—a divine suicide.

    Another explanation is that humans owes a debt to their Maker. The atonement pays that debt. So, the debt is owing to God, and God in His aspect of the Son pays it… pays it to himself! It is truly a merciful act, if rather silly since he could have been just as merciful and less bloody by simply cancelling the debt. However, Christians carefully avoid practising this principle themselves, most specially the ones who can afford to do it. They sue debtors and compel them to pay proving they do not consider it a correct principle of commerce.

    On further investigation we find that the assumed debt is not paid—after all. When a debt is paid, it is cancelled. Nothing more said about it. Notwithstanding that Christ died to atone for and cancel human sin, we suddenly find there is another condition if the sinner is to escape eternal damnation. God commands Adam. He disobeys and mankind is punished by God. The fault which God had built into mankind was disobedience. Nevertheless he will forgive those who obey him in accepting an absurd doctrine of atonement. Many people refuse to obey so are not forgiven. Where is God’s act of atonement? If it was wrong to disobey, He has not corrected His error in making mankind faulty. Like other doctrines of Christianity, it is contrary to reason, common sense, and the principles of sound morality.

    Anyway, it evidently has not worked because 2000 years later, people are just as wicked as they were before.

    What did Jesus have to say on the subject of atonement, a subject of which one would imagine he was conscious? Nothing certain. “The Son of Man came… to give his life as a ransom to many” in Mark 10:45 are the words of the author not of Jesus. In descriptions of the Last Supper only in Matthew is there any suggestion of the shedding of blood for “the remission of sins” and that is accepted as an editor’s gloss.

    Ephesians expresses clearly the accepted doctrine and Hebrews dwells on the sacrificial Nature of the passion—similarly 1 Peter, thought to be a genuine letter of Peter, the Apostle. The epistle of James is quite different, emphasising the importance of works, faith being empty without works. James asks what comfort it is to someone who is naked and starving to be wished well and advised to go in peace. They need sustenance not good wishes:

    Thus faith, if it have not works, is dead itself.
    James 2:17


    Bold words by today’s standards but more the spirit of Barabbas than Paul who derided works in favour of faith in God’s sacrifice. James makes no mention of the sacrifice of the crucifixion, and for that reason Luther called it an epistle of straw.

    The early Christians accepted the atoning sacrifice uncritically but later theologians were at a loss to understand why the sacrifice should atone for anything if God was “Lord of All”. They found an answer with Irenaeus who formulated the “Ransom Theory”. With the sins of Adam, Satan had taken the world as his own domain and God, being unable to steal what was another’s, had to give his son as a ransom. Satan then brought about Jesus’s death on the cross but found he was tricked because the immortal Jesus immediately flew off to Heaven. It was another thousand years before Anselm and Abelard denied that Satan had ever had any rights over mankind. The view of Augustine that Jesus died to relieve all men of eternal torments through original sin was revived.

    The early followers of Jesus were a conglomeration of conflicting sects, whose angry disputes are facts of history. Some of the doctrines and stories contained in the Christian scriptures seem to be Persian, Egyptian and Buddhist. The reason is that many of the first followers of Jesus were Essenes, he being one himself. The Essenes or Therapeutae—respectively Semitic and the Greek name for “healers”—had roots in Egypt and a knowledge of Egyptian religion, the eclectic philosophy of Philo of Alexandria, Buddhism from the Buddhist school in Alexandria and Persian religion from the setting up of the temple state by Persian colonists around 400 BC. According to T W Doane in Bible Myths the church historian Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, in the fourth century, explicitly said the Therapeutae were Christians, and that their ancient writings were our gospels and epistles.

    A substantial body of the Essenes were ready to accept Jesus the Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth, as the Christians falsely called him, as the expected Messiah but they were not called Christians until the middle of the first century of our era, when the name was given to the new sect at Antioch. The word “Christian” means a follower of a Christ, from the Greek “Christos”, an anointed one, meaning saviour. But as many saviours, messiahs or avatars—like Buddha and Krishna—had appeared centuries before Jesus, there seems little basis for calling Jesus alone “The Christ” except belief.

    The Essenes had a full hierarchy, similar to that of the present Catholic church—bishops, priests and deacons and, according to a letter of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) to the consul Servanus, they worshipped Serapis—a universal god formed as a union of Osiris and Apis, standing for death and life respectively—long after they became followers of Jesus. He wrote:

    There are there [in Egypt] Christians who worship Serapis, and devoted to Serapis are those who call themselves Bishops of the Christ.

    This must have helped the adaptation by the priests of the old Pagan doctrines and legends to the myth of Jesus to complete the Christian mythology. What we now know as Christianity was gradually developed through many centuries out of the numerous disputes that arose among the contentious sects considering themselves Christian.

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    Eala Freia Fresena
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    A religion talks about the realms of God (or Gods). Religious stories tell about these areas by giving us pictures.The pictures of different religions often say the same but they seem to be different for the untrained eye.

    the problem is, that humans make a 'religion' out of these tales instead of using them for their own advancement.

    These pictures are given to men who were not able to read them correctly. 'The priests' would have been the men who could read them in the way the originator of the story meant it. But this was not the case anymore at Christ's birth (As he has never been proven to be a real life person we don't know whether he was a myth or not). People interpreted those stories for their own benefit and comfort. 'The religion' had lost its true meaning and became distorted so further the time away was were people understood.

    Today people see it even further away, they try to discover the scientific truth of the bible, though it never pertained to the earth we live in or better we live on.

    I consider these stories as valid points of view. But they aren't what people think they are

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocko View Post
    But this was not the case anymore at Christ's birth (As he has never been proven to be a real life person we don't know whether he was a myth or not).
    How is it proved whether or not someone existed in the past?

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    I guess we are getting off-topics now:

    The proof which has been given are mentionings of his name in close to be contemporary literature. But they had to be found to be falsified by later Christians.

    Anyway whether he was alive in this world or in another is not so important (I don't say it is not important) as his teaching and the very story of his life is the tool to understand Christianity. May his life be myth or 'reality' might be important for some christians but not for me.

    I read the bible and I benefitted from it, though I am not christian.

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