Guide The Rabbi Who Believes in Zeus: Popular Myths About Religion, Faith, and God

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It contests the proposition that the universe cannot exist without a creator by asserting that the creator of the universe must have the same restrictions.

Atheism has a creation myth, too

This, in turn, may lead to a problem of infinite regress wherein each newly presumed creator of a creator is itself presumed to have its own creator. A common challenge to theistic propositions of a creator deity as a necessary first-cause explanation for the universe is the question: " Who created God? Some faith traditions have such an element as part of their doctrine. Jainism posits that the universe is eternal and has always existed.

In Mormonism it is believed that the God of this Earth was once a mortal human, who had a father of his own.

How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus - The Veritas Forum - The Veritas Forum

Ismailism rejects the idea of God as the first cause , due to the doctrine of God's incomparability and source of any existence including abstract objects. No, don't ask that. That's what all the religions say — don't ask who created God. But this is strange — why not? If the question is valid about existence, why does it become invalid when it is applied to God? And once you ask who created God, you are falling into a regress absurdum. Having established who created God, we would then have to answer the question of who created God's creator. The atheist objection is that if God created the universe, who created God?

Judging by the number of times that Dawkins repeats this same point in The God Delusion , one must assume that he sees this as a killer argument against the existence of God. In response to one of my blogs about God's purpose in the creation of the universe, one person wrote, "All you've done is divert the question. The belief that the stars determine human destinies is a very ancient one. Such expressions in our language as "ill-starred," "a lucky star," "disaster," "lunacy," and so on, indicate the hold which astrology once enjoyed upon the human mind.

We still call a melancholy man, Saturnine ; a cheerful man, Jovial ; a quick-tempered man, Mercurial ; showing how closely our ancestors associated the movements of celestial bodies with human affairs.

That the time of his birth, his death, and supposed resurrection is not verifiable is generally admitted. This uncertainty robs the story of Jesus, to an extent at least, of the atmosphere of reality. The twenty-fifth of December is celebrated as his birthday. Yet there is no evidence that he was born on that day. Although the Gospels are silent as to the date on which Jesus was born, there is circumstantial evidence in the accounts given of the event to show that the twenty-fifth of December could not have been his birthday. It snows in Palestine, though a warmer country, and we know that in December there are no shepherds tending their flocks in the night time in that country.

Often at this time of the year the fields and hills are covered with snow. Hence, if the shepherds sleeping in the fields really saw the heavens open and heard the angel-song, in all probability it was in some other month of the year, and not late in December. We know, also, that early in the history of Christianity the months of May and June enjoyed the honor of containing the day of Jesus' birth.

Of course, it is immaterial on which day Jesus was born, but why is it not known? Yet not only is the date of his birth a matter of conjecture, but also the year in which he was born.

Matthew, one of the Evangelists, suggests that Jesus was born in King Herod's time, for it was this king who, hearing from the Magi that a King of the Jews was born, decided to destroy him; but Luke, another Evangelist, intimates that Jesus was born when Quirinus was ruler of Judea, which makes the date of Jesus' birth about fourteen years later than the date given by Matthew. Why this discrepancy in a historical document, to say nothing about inspiration? The theologian might say that this little difficulty was introduced purposely into the scriptures to establish its infallibility, but it is only religious books that are pronounced infallible on the strength of the contradictions they contain.

Again, Matthew says that to escape the evil designs of Herod, Mary and Joseph, with the infant Jesus, fled into Egypt, Luke says nothing about this hurried flight, nor of Herod's intention to kill the infant Messiah. On the contrary he tells us that after the forty days of purification were over Jesus was publicly presented at the temple, where Herod, if he really, as Matthew relates, wished to seize him, could have done so without difficulty. It is impossible to reconcile the flight to Egypt with the presentation in the temple, and this inconsistency is certainly insurmountable and makes it look as if the narrative had no value whatever as history.

When we come to the more important chapters about Jesus, we meet with greater difficulties. Have you ever noticed that the day on which Jesus is supposed to have died falls invariably on a Friday? What is the reason for this? It is evident that nobody knows, and nobody ever knew the date on which the Crucifixion took place, if it ever took place. It is so obscure and so mythical that an artificial day has been fixed by the Ecclesiastical councils.

While it is always on a Friday that the Crucifixion is commemorated, the week in which the day occurs varies from year to year. But that was precisely the way the day for the festival of the pagan goddess Oestera was determined. The Pagan Oestera has become the Christian Easter. Does not this fact, as well as those already touched upon, make the story of Jesus to read very much like the stories of the Pagan deities. The early Christians, Origin, for instance, in his reply to the rationalist Celsus who questioned the reality of Jesus, instead of producing evidence of a historical nature, appealed to the mythology of the pagans to prove that the story of Jesus was no more incredible than those of the Greek and Roman gods.

This is so important that we refer our readers to Origin's own words on the subject. But in the absence of evidence Origin offers the following metaphysical arguments against the sceptical Celsus: 1. Such stories as are told of Jesus are admitted to be true when told of pagan divinities, why can they not also be true when told of the Christian Messiah? They must be true because they are the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. In other words, the only proofs Origin can bring forth against the rationalistic criticism of Celsus is, that to deny Jesus would be equivalent to denying both the Pagan and Jewish mythologies.

If Jesus is not real, says Origin, then Apollo was not real, and the Old Testament prophecies have not been fulfilled. If we are to have any mythology at all, he seems to argue, why object to adding to it the mythus of Jesus? There could not be a more damaging admission than this from one of the most conspicuous defenders of Jesus' story against early criticism. Justin Martyr, another early Father, offers the following argument against unbelievers in the Christian legend: "When we say also that the Word, which is the first birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified, died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.

Pressing his argument further, this interesting Father discovers many resemblances between what he himself is preaching and what the pagans have always believed: "For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribe to Jupiter. Mercury, the interpreting word he spells this word with a small w while in the above quotation he uses a capital W to denote the Christian incarnation and teacher of all; Aesculapius Instead of producing historical evidence or appealing to creditable documents, as one would to prove the existence of a Caesar or an Alexander, Justin Martyr draws upon pagan mythology in his reply to the critics of Christianity.

All he seems to ask for is that Jesus be given a higher place among the divinities of the ancient world. To help their cause the Christian apologists not infrequently also changed the sense of certain Old Testament passages to make them support the miraculous stories in the New Testament. For example, having borrowed from Oriental books the story of the god in a manger, surrounded by staring animals, the Christian fathers introduced a prediction of this event into the following text from the book of Habakkuk in the Bible: "Accomplish thy work in the midst of the years , in the midst of the years make known, etc.

The Jewish Tradition Unfolds in Fire. Here's How, and Why

How weak must be one's case to resort to such tactics in order to command a following! And when it is remembered that these follies were deemed necessary to prove the reality of what has been claimed as the most stupendous event in all history, one can readily see upon how fragile a foundation is built the story of the Christian God-man. Let us continue: Abraham Lincoln's associates and contemporaries are all known to history. The immediate companions of Jesus appear to be, on the other hand, as mythical as he is himself.

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Why Jews Don't Believe In Jesus

Who was Matthew? Who was Mark? Who were John, Peter, Judas, and Mary? There is absolutely no evidence that they ever existed. They are not mentioned except in the New Testament books, which, as we shall see, are "supposed" copies of "supposed" originals. If Peter ever went to Rome with a new doctrine, how is it that no historian has taken note of him? If Paul visited Athens and preached from Mars Hill, how is it that there is no mention of him or of his strange Gospel in the Athenian chronicles?

For all we know, both Peter and Paul may have really existed, but it is only a guess, as we have no means of ascertaining. The uncertainty about the apostles of Jesus is quite in keeping with the uncertainty about Jesus himself. The report that Jesus had twelve apostles seems also mythical. The number twelve, like the number seven, or three, or forty, plays an important role in all Sun-myths, and points to the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Jacob had twelve sons; there were twelve tribes of Israel; twelve months in the year; twelve gates or pillars of heaven, etc.

In many of the religions of the world, the number twelve is sacred. There have been few god-saviors who did not have twelve apostles or messengers.

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In one or two places, in the New Testament, Jesus is made to send out "the seventy" to evangelize the world. Here again we see the presence of a myth. It was believed that there were seventy different nations in the world—to each nation an apostle. Seventy wise men are supposed to have translated the Old Testament, sitting in seventy different cells. That is why their translation is called " the Septuagint " But it is all a legend, as there is no evidence of seventy scholars working in seventy individual cells on the Hebrew Bible. One of the Church Fathers declares that he saw these seventy cells with his own eyes.

He was the only one who saw them. That the "Twelve Apostles" are fanciful may be inferred from the obscurity in which the greater number of them have remained. Peter, Paul, John, James, Judas, occupy the stage almost exclusively. If Paul was an apostle, we have fourteen, instead of twelve.

Leaving out Judas, and counting Matthias, who was elected in his place, we have thirteen apostles. The number forty figures also in many primitive myths. The Jews were in the wilderness for forty years; Jesus fasted for forty days; from the resurrection to the ascension were forty days; Moses was on the mountain with God for forty days.

An account in which such scrupulous attention is shown to supposed sacred numbers is apt to be more artificial than real.

The biographers of Lincoln or of Socrates do not seem to be interested in numbers. They write history, not stories. Again, many of the contemporaries of Lincoln bear written witness to his existence. The historians of the time, the statesmen, the publicists, the chroniclers—all seem to be acquainted with him, or to have heard of him.

It is impossible to explain why the contemporaries of Jesus, the authors and historians of his time, do not take notice of him. If Abraham Lincoln was important enough to have attracted the attention of his contemporaries, how much more Jesus. Is it reasonable to suppose that these Pagan and Jewish writers knew of Jesus,—had heard of his incomparably great works and sayings,—but omitted to give him a page or a line? Could they have been in a conspiracy against him?