Tell me the pros and cons about these thoughts of mine. Let me know if They are wrong. Expound on it please! I don't want to tell anything if it is wrong.

The bible was composed for governments. It was never intended to be a people's book. The council of Niccea composed this book as more of a constitution. A book to put fear into any nation who opposed them (like the Hebrews). Now you could only pray to God using the Christian method and our savior from our country. Only in the name of Jesus would God hear you from now on.

Thanks for any input.

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I'm giving Melody points on this one. :) It's nice to find the truth in things, but dude (Matt), you're starting to look like an insecure child trying to prove that you are smart. If it weren't for the lashing out at seemingly everyone, we would all appreciate your input.
I'm still confused how this thread suddenly turned into long distance psycho-analysis into my character. And in reading these last pages again, I'm only getting more confused. Either I'm getting delusional, or this is what happened:

- Hiram made a post in which he raised several points, with the crux of his thesis being the similarities of pagan deities with Jesus
- I then responded in detail to five of his examples and arguments in detail, and dismissed one (the weakest one, in my opinion)
- Jack challenged me on the point that I had dismissed, and said (quite reasonably) that he thought the point was important and that I had to offer an explanation or retract my statements
- I then offered a detailed explanation why it was wrong

Now, I can't help but notice that nobody has bothered to actually challenge that explanation, but instead you've all been engaging in ad-hominems, saying that I am:
- swearing and stomping my feet (?)
- pretending that I hadn't actually answered all the points raised
- lashing out at everyone (and here I was thinking that I was uncharacteristically gentle)
- looking like an insecure child
- ...

So RayRay and others, please show me where and how I was lashing out, and how I can do better. Because the way I see it, even when I'm uncharacteristically gentle and patiently point out flaws (like how I did with Hiram), I get called a bully.
Even when I justly dismiss one point out of a total of six, that's enough for ad-hominem after ad-hominem to be thrown my way.
I couldn't care less about the ad-hominems, to be perfectly honest, but maybe I'm not the one getting too emotional here?

Oh, and since ryan went so low as to suggest that I'm an undercover religious apologist (very mature of you, ryan): that's very amusing, especially since I often get accused of being such an anti-Christian bigot on other forums. That's because I regularly debate key points of Christian doctrine, or evolution, or science. And I'm always firmly against the religious perspective.
On AtheistNexus, there is no religious perspective. So instead of participating in the collective (often irrational) bash-Christianity fest, I'd rather bring some of my fellow atheists that are making exaggerated and false claims back down to Earth.

Not something that makes me popular, apparently.
I read people were posting arguments, and right or wrong, instead of meeting them I saw Matts response was various expletives. Now he posts something without any expletives and is acting like the previous discussions were all somehow forgotten. Ray Ray pointed out the issues, I agreed, and added a hypothesis (albeit a stretch) that is perhaps totally out of line but was offered somewhat tongue in cheek.

Matt, your last response was reasonable and fair. And you may have had some good points, but like the arguments you criticized, they lacked references and cites as far as I could tell, and where cites should have been, were expletives. of course, none of this is personal, its entirely based on what was stated in the course of the discussion. There is only analysis of the statements, not your "psyche".

As to the arguments, I find that while you may have intel on the finer points re historical exegesis, but seriously, you are going to claim that 12 disciples, 12 tribes of israel, dying and resurrecting after 3 days and the "cross" have absolutely no connection or relationship to the sun and 12 symbols of the zodiac, and 12 months of the Julian calendar? Really? Its just a weird coincidence?
"Now he posts something without any expletives and is acting like the previous discussions were all somehow forgotten."

Don't worry ryan, I'll use expletives again soon enough. There's a time and place for them, and that time and place is, for example, when somebody refuses to acknowledge a point and has to check their facts.
When we're not at that point, I'm quite happy to be perfectly civil.

"As to the arguments, I find that while you may have intel on the finer points re historical exegesis, but seriously, you are going to claim that 12 disciples, 12 tribes of israel, dying and resurrecting after 3 days and the "cross" have absolutely no connection or relationship to the sun and 12 symbols of the zodiac, and 12 months of the Julian calendar? Really? Its just a weird coincidence?"

I never said they were all a coincidence. I said there were valid explanations other than the conspiracist "OMG sun worship".

- The cross is a coincidence, yes. Unless we're seriously going to claim that every Roman crucifixion was a reference to sun worship. The association with Christianity and the cross was clearly because of the crucifixion, and there's hardly any connection with sun worship there.
Besides, the cross was never much of a symbol for early Christianity anyway: they were too ashamed of the humiliating death their Messiah had suffered. It took them as much as 300 years to get over themselves and depict the crucifixion. Our first mentions of the cross and depictions of the crucifixion actually come from anti-Christian sources that are mocking Christians for worshipping "a crucified animal".
The Jesus fish was much more popular.

- the 3 days of resurrection is not a coincidence, it's a reflection of all the other times the number 3 is used. Three kings, three gifts, three sons of Noah,... Humanity loves the number three. But why would you latch on to the 3 days of the resurrection and claim that this is evidence of sun worship or something like that? 3 isn't even really astronomically significant anyway.

- 12 disciples and 12 tribes of Israel is of course not a coincidence, just lke 12 months of the calender is not a coincidence: it's because we like the number 12; for some reason that's always been significant in religious circles. But this is no connection to sun worship: the only reason there are 12 months and 12 signs of the zodiac is because we like the number 12 so much. The movement of the sun has no intrinsic connection to the number 12: we've pushed that number onto its movement.
In other words, looking at all the 12's in religion and claiming a connection with sun worship, is circular reasoning.

So no, it's not all coincidence. It's usually a case of farfetched parallels and badly constructed arguments. And some coincidence.
well there you make some fair points. It seems reasonable that the number 12 influenced all these various religions and traditions rather than the particular view of astronomy affecting Christianity in particular. However, it does seem also reasonable to state that sun worship was one of the earliest forms of religion in general, as the sun is the actual source of life, not some invented abstract god concept that seems to me like something that evolved from a sun worship tradition - likely too complex for our earliest ancestors compared to obvious sun worship. The bible was clearly not literally handed down from god or even inspired by the "divine" so it is reasonable to point to sun worship as a possible evolutionary "ancestor" in the family tree of religious behaviors, particularly if one assumes astrology to pre-date Judaism and Christianity, which is likely.


My issue from before is not that the arguments contained expletives, rather, they seemed to be entirely comprised of expletives, IE your counter point was "bullshit" instead of an articulate, precise point for point argument. So, I just pointed out that kind of communication undermined your credibility with me, one member of the reading audience.
@Ryan:

Hey, no argument there. Obviously sun worship and other pagan elements were one of the earliest forms of religion, and maybe even the very earliest form. And it's very likely that some of the elements of these traditions have remained in the human consciousness ever since then. For example (and I'm engaging in wild speculation here, but it's for the sake of argument), it is possible that our fascination with certain numbers (3, 7, 12) was one of the characteristics of these very earliest rites, and they have remained with humanity for all this time, and so have influenced much of our thinking (12 months for the solar system, 2x12 hours a day) and much of our religious doctrines (3, 7, 12 as holy numbers in many religions).

I don't think this is very likely, but even if it were true: so what? It's not a big deal, and saying "The reason the number 12 returns so much in Christianity is because we've been fascinated with that number since the first pagan rites" is something entirely different from saying "Christianity is just revised pagan worship".

It's just an entirely different point. Many writers are guilty of overstating parallels in this way: "Christianity used the word 12, ergo Christianity is pagan worship!". We could just as easily say "Our calender uses the word 12, ergo our calender is pagan worship!".

The fact is that humanity is not as creative when creating religions as we might think them to be: we recycle various elements, symbols and numbers all the time. But to jump from that to wild conclusions (let alone sensationalist ones like Zeitgeist) is silly, and it's just bad thinking, really.

As for the previous issue: I acknowledge it. Since I've now given a more precise articulation of the points involved, I think we can say that we're even.

@Orange:

Errmmm, if you're trying to say that Jesus is the sun God because there's such a similarity between "Son" and "Sun"... then you haven't thought that one through very far.
Christianity originated in Palestine. People didn't speak English in Palestine, they speak Hebrew/Aramaic. And in that language, there is no semantic similarity between "Sun" and "Son of God".
The fact that there is a semantic similarity in the English language is pure coincidence.
Kookabura Jack, thanks for sharing the Jesus bowl. I did not have the link at hand, which explains why i thought it said 'jesus the mage' and not 'christ the mage'.

Matt, you claim that worshipers of Dionysus only got wasted in the forest and had orgies: yes the Maenads did that. But they were only one of the groups of mystics of Dionysus.

The other group, the celebrants of the Orpheic mysteries, were vegetarians and concerned with purity and virtue, plus they did not eat meat (and hence could not partake of the goat sacrifices of the Maenads and replaced these rituals with offering bread).

Please look it up and confirm facts before you lash out like Glenn Beck again.

Oh, and quit including yourself among us rationalists. Rationalists don't have to insult people to get points across. They remain, by definition, cool and rational.
"Matt, you claim that worshipers of Dionysus only got wasted in the forest and had orgies: yes the Maenads did that. But they were only one of the groups of mystics of Dionysus.

The other group, the celebrants of the Orpheic mysteries, were vegetarians and concerned with purity and virtue, plus they did not eat meat (and hence could not partake of the goat sacrifices of the Maenads and replaced these rituals with offering bread)."


Ah, that's very interesting. I did not know that (though my statement that all the Dionysus-worshippers were wasted was meant to be a humorous generalisation rather than my actual position: the point was simply that they weren't very similar to early Christian sects).

It doesn't help your claims though, which were that there was an identical communion, grand parallels with Christian theology, and that Dionysus was a good "model" for a Christ. Oh, and that Jesus declared himself to be Dionysus when he said "I am the vine".

You've yet to substantiate any of those.

"Please look it up and confirm facts before you lash out like Glenn Beck again.

Oh, and quit including yourself among us rationalists. Rationalists don't have to insult people to get points across. They remain, by definition, cool and rational."


Cool and rational? I've been both of those every moment in this thread, or on this forum for that matter. Just because some people confuse me using an expletive with me getting emotional or upset doesn't mean that I actually was.
And I never insulted you at all, so I don't know what you're going on about.

So don't compare me to Glenn Beck just because I called one of your arguments bullshit, please. Unless you're now going to defend those claims.

Sorry about you being dragged into that discussion about my supposed sins, by the way.
Matt, u said:
It doesn't help your claims though, which were that there was an identical communion, grand parallels with Christian theology, and that Dionysus was a good "model" for a Christ. Oh, and that Jesus declared himself to be Dionysus when he said "I am the vine".

I say:
I do not believe that Jesus said this. The only empirical study that has been done re: the possibility of a historical Jesus is the 'Jesus Seminary', and they claim that Yeshua most likely did exist but he only said and did about 18 percent of what the evangelists say he said and did. Most of what we know as Christianity evolved during the 'oral' age of the development of the early sect, which according to the Jesus Seminary is roughly between the years 40-70 of Common Era.

The Gospels were written as propaganda by early Christian writers in order to present their own versions of Christianity.

And I believe that it was these Gospel writers who attributed the words 'I am the Vine' to Jesus. They would have done this to attract Greeks who were familiar with these Orpheic and wine mysteries. It was mythography on their part.

Also, the Orpheic mysteries predate Christianity by at least six centuries.
Ah, OK. That doesn't really change the fact that you need to prove this though (see below).

As for the Jesus Seminar, I'm actually not that big of a fan; many scholars have noted that when researchers (especially Christian ones) examine the gospels, they tend to discover a Jesus that always just happens to have eery similarities to what they already believe. Fundamentalists like William Lane Craig look at the gospels and find a fundamentalist Jesus. Atheist apologists (yes, it's not always Christians) look at the gospels and find a non-existent Jesus or one that is a reflection of pagan parallels. And the overwhelmingly liberally Christian Jesus Seminar finds a liberal hippie Jesus.

None of this is surprising, and because it conforms to their own beliefs so much, I can't give any of them the seal of authenticity.
What the Jesus Seminar has essentially done (besides discarding John almost in its entierity, which is just common sense) is discarding all the apocalyptic and just plain awkward sayings as ahistorical, and accepting all the nice and happy sayings (Good samaritan, turn the other cheek, etcetera) as historical.

I don't find that very convincing at all. Considering that most of the earliest material on Jesus' teachings (Mark) is explicitly apocalyptic, and that this fits with our expectation of Jewish preachers in the First Century AD, I'm much more inclined towards the apocalyptic Jesus as proposed by scholars like Bart Ehrman and Geza Vermes.

At least they are arguing for a Jesus that isn't simply a reflection of their own identity.

"They would have done this to attract Greeks who were familiar with these Orpheic and wine mysteries. It was mythography on their part."

So you keep claiming. But the fact remains that this "I am the vine" thing was just one of the many dozens of analogies and metaphors that Jesus used (or rather: the gospel writers depict him as using). So what is your evidence that this is one is special; and is an indication of he Gospel writers trying to woo pagans, no less.

That's quite a claim.
I can understand Historians studying all these myths as a way to understanding mythology's effect on society but my view would be that they are all B/S so splitting hairs about which of them was borne of a virgin and which was'nt is absolutely irrelelavent.
The old adage 'history is written by the victors', what is relative to us now is not this anylitical paring about the inner workings of these cults, what they believed or why they believed it, but the way such machinations are used upon the societies that play host to them.
If you want living history as to what this means look at America and the beginnings of the dismantling of their Constitution and Bill of rights. Any reasoned analysis of the founding documents and the founding Father's intent is, I feel obvious, in the seperation of Church and State.
Why was the Bible written? It is a Codex of political and socio-psychological actions to dominate the individuals rights and freedoms, a complete fabrication created over centuries and therefore will include many comparable myths and legends who's exactitudes are only of interest to scholars. It is texturally and historically indefensible. All the stories have been added to over the aeons to try keep up to the development of the individual and society in general. It is no surprise therefore that people will draw, sometimes mistaken, parallels at the basic thrust of all religions.
Why on Nexus where we draw similarities in species to not only show evolution but within that that it is not linear and has many branches and dead ends. The beast religion has changed it's coat many times to adapt to changing conditions and influences but is and always has been the same beast. The Bible and all the other books going as far back into history as you wish reflect that as they have had to change in order to continue So all the time they have denied evolution the Bible and other books have in actual fact had to evolve. So it was composed to reflect those changes.
He did NOT exist so any book composed about him or any other make believe figures must have an ulterior motive. That motive must be power and politics as that is what is derived from them. So all the bible studies in the thread are merely knitting fog. However it is amusing to watch everyone disappear up their own theorems discussing which parts of the book of nonsense is true or factual.

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