"Satan Did It!" -- Comparative Religion and Religion

by schnell 3 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • schnell

    It's been said that as early Christians went to preach about Christ and his virgin birth, his tests, miracles, death, resurrection, and divine pedigree, the people they were preaching to would essentially say, "Oh yeah, we have that too!"

    It's almost a cliche to point out that Mary and Jesus resemble Isis and Horus, that Gautama faced his tests as well, that Heracles is the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Alcmene.

    But when this is pointed out, suddenly an intelligent design argument appears to explain it.

    "Satan Did It!" The devil himself is attributed the ability to inspire people for millenia beforehand to tell stories about a demigod born of a virgin. This also envisions Satan as having the foresight to do so.

    The alternative explanation, of course, is that a lot of mythology was developed around a man called Jesus after he died, assuming he lived at all.* In this case, there is no need for Satanic inspiration, no need to give Satan a new superpower of foresight, and really no need for Satan at all.

    One of these explanations demands a rewrite of science to account for spirit creatures and what abilities are available to them and reeks of a conspiracy through the ages. The other explains how the myths developed without any such leap.

    I know what I'm putting my money on.

    But what gets me is this argument from ignorance about an intelligent designer. In this case, the intelligent designer is Satan the Devil weaving myths instead of Yahweh causing things to become. If you say this, you are asserting that the existence of mythology similar to that of Christ is evidence of an intelligent, malevolent designer, just as the existence of very complex life is evidence of an intelligent designer.

    In response to intelligent design, complex life is not irreducibly complex. It can be broken down and shown to have evolved. Similarly, the mythology about Christ can be broken down and shown to have evolved by numerous writers and influences over the course of decades and centuries. Indeed, the 4 narrative gospels were written in later decades by unknown authors AFTER Paul had reached out to the Gentiles, and there was some logic to how they attributed each one to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And within 4 centuries, Jesus was God.

    An additional argument to all of this is that all mythology and religion disseminated from a single origin (namely Babylon). This is to support the Satanic inspiration argument. It argues that two similar, complex ideas must have had the same source. It is a long discredited idea that, first of all, disregards how far flung, populous, and fairly advanced humankind was 5000 years ago. It disregards the major differences in myths from around the world. It disregards psychology. It disregards that you and I can have the same or similar idea, even around the same time without having the idea disseminated to us -- the classic example being Leibniz and Newton independently creating Calculus.

    * As I wrote in another thread, I personally do believe there was a historical Jesus. However, I don't believe all that has been attributed to him, or in the integrity of the Bible.

  • schnell

    Comparative Religion and Religion, eh? Surely, I meant Comparative Mythology and Religion.

  • Heaven

    Satan is a construct and a scapegoat to explain 'evil' and how the ancients and present day believers explain why bad things happen.

    In Hebrew, the term is related to an Aramaic verb that means “to lie in wait,” “to oppose,” or “to set oneself in opposition to.” As a separate 'person' or being, he is not part of the Pagan belief system. Good and bad lie within all people. In the old testament, it is Yahweh who created evil (see KJV Isaiah 45:7). God was all things to the Hebrews. But Christianity was troubled by this logic. Loving does not equal evil. So Christianity adapted this by creating a separate being. They gave evil person-hood and elevated its importance by giving it a proper name - Satan, God's special but fallen angel. There... it's no longer 'our' responsibility. 'The Devil made me do it!'

    I think it is essential for all believers to, first off, actually read the entire Bible. Many have not. This exercise alone has made many a believer an atheist.

    Then research the history and origins of the Bible including the pre-Judaism beliefs. The Bible is not a book like we think of a book. It is a compilation of stories spanning 1500 to 2000 years. The "Egyptian Book of the Dead" was written before this and contains many similarities to the Jesus myth. I find Christianity to be an adoption and adaptation of previous beliefs. Bart Ehrman's research points out we do not have the original writings of the Bible. And, as you said, the authors of the gospels never met Jesus (actually, none of the authors of the Bible met Jesus). Their accounts are from oral stories passed down over decades even centuries later. What happens to stories handled this way? They change.

    Put yourself in the position of the early Christians. How can they gain membership? Well our God is better than all the other gods. Exaggerations of Jesus' power crept in. And the elevation of him to a god occurred. They made him better than Yahweh, more loving and somewhat accepting of all because well, Yahweh was really a douche bag.

    But when people didn't buy in at first, the early Christians physically tortured people who would not convert. Later, after that wasn't exactly effective, they decided to tell people if they don't sign up they will be judged upon their death and if found unworthy, tortured for all eternity in a burning lake of fire. Why is it religion has to keep sliding back to the ugliness of threats and hurting people to prop up their agenda? (As a side note, there are still polytheists in the world today. Hindus and Pagans do still exist. The early Christians were unsuccessful in wiping out 'the heathens'.)

    So once you know all this (and there is much more I could state but won't for the interest of some brevity), you can't unknow it. And you come to a fork in the road - do you continue with the somewhat easy, but ultimately useless, delusional path of belief/faith or do you decide to follow the more difficult, logical, rational, fact-based, intellectually honest path. I think every believer comes to this point sooner or later.

    schnell said: * As I wrote in another thread, I personally do believe there was a historical Jesus. However, I don't believe all that has been attributed to him, or in the integrity of the Bible.

    Erhman agrees with you. He states Paul's letters are a kind of proof of Jesus' existence. He also states that Jesus was an apocalyptic Jewish preacher who thought God was going to fix all the world's problems in his lifetime. Sound familiar? I often like to think if Jesus of Nazareth were alive today, how many of us would consider him to be a religious nut bag?

    To paraphrase Hitchens "Ask yourself the following question... What is more likely? That the laws of nature and the Universe have been suspended or that an unmarried Jewish girl told a fib?"

  • schnell

    Heaven, you're right on. I love Bart Ehrman, as well as Finkelstein and Silberman, and Joseph Campbell.

    Satanic inspiration of mythology is just another exercise in mental gymnastics Christians use to rationalize their beliefs with the observable world, despite the obvious.

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