Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bill Walker Strickes Again.

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"Who is Bill Walker? I hear you asking. He's just a friendly internet atheist who stops by from time to time to say stuff so I'll have material for another blog piece. Well he's at it again. He has a gimmick, he acts like his insulting diatribes against things he doesn't study or understand are really for my own good, and the fains the anguish of a Pastor fretting over the lost sheep of his flock.

Here's his latest:

Joe, You have no idea how much I am hoping that you will see past that book of mean/dirty fairy tales. The bronze age 'produced/ invented' a huge number of 'saviors'. Only 15 or 16 were crucified, the rest were poisoned, hanged or impaled. JC is the composite of these other 'saviors'. He was 'created' at Nicaea, 325CE. If you spent a tenth of the time reading history, that you have wasted reading that book of fairy tales, you would join us at ExChristian.Net. We would love to have you join us in disbelief of an invisible, imaginary deity created by Emperor Constantine.

Pretty unremarkable, and this was posted on the well worn post about introducing atheist watch which I know he's seen before, telling me this is just a routine mission and not some new idea. Since there is nothing remarkable here it's hardly worth commenting on. But I will anyway because it demonstrates such typical meld of all the major atheists buzz words and myths that have been floating around the net, that have been answered, disproved, beaten into the ground so many many times, and thus stands as a testimony to how littl atheists really listen to what we say.

Of course the begins with the usual name calling, the bbile si fair tale ect ect. its' so stupid any one who would believe that bunch of hog wash is an idiot. Of course he can't say that that would be a dead give away. But by insulting the book he's insulting the reader.

Then of course he launched into the tired old well disproved carp of Jesus mytherism. He knows this composite crap, this lie has been exposed as the lie that it is. He's heard this a million times, but like so many ideologically driven atheist minions of the hate group he doesn't care what's true or what's real. He's not seeking any kind of answer, he's a soldier. He's in the war, he's on the battle field, he's firing his weapon at the enemy, his weapon is the lie about the unhistorical nature of Jesus. He's a solider, this is what soldiers do they shoot at the enemy.

My page on Doxa, copy cat savior? thoroughly destroys this nonsense. Speaking of copy cat don't tell J.P. Holding about the title of that article I kind of, well, copied it.

the lunacy about Jesus being created at Nicaea hardly deserves an answer. No one with any sort of real knowledge of anything connected with the new testament would think that. Even those with a very elementary and cursory familiarity with it can see by just reading the NT what a crap it is to claim that.

He has the gall to say this:


If you spent a tenth of the time reading history, that you have wasted reading that book of fairy tales, you would join us at ExChristian.Net. We would love to have you join us in disbelief of an invisible, imaginary deity created by Emperor Constantine.

My dear fellow. I spent ten years in a Ph.D. program studying history. I know from my training as a historian that you know nothing about the subject. I doubt that you have adequate undergraduate training in the subject. You are a good little soldier but you are not a scholar or a thinker and you know nothing about history. I looked at the ExChrsitain.net sight and was totally unimpressed. As thinkers we are better off without most of them.

The link above to my Doxa page is important becuase it links to many other sites where the documentation to back up the follows view are found, it also contains my answers on other figures. Just to show a little bit of the how desperately misguided the mytehrs are I'm going to show what I say about Mithra who is one of the major figures they use most often.



The Mythic Mysteries are very complex, and the only real similarities to Jesus are minute ones.. Most of these alleged similarities are suspect or unimportant. It is often claimed by skeptics on the Internet that "there is so much similarity" but I find very little. Mithra comes from Persia and is part of Zoroastrian myth, but this cult was transplanted to Rome near the end of the pre-Christian era. Actually the figure of Mithra is very ancient. He began in the Hindu pantheon and is mentioned in the Vedas. He latter spread to Persia where he took the guise of a sheep protecting deity. But his guise as a shepherd was rather minor. He is associated with the Sun as well. Yet most of our evidence about his cult (which apparently didn't exist in the Hindu or Persian forms) comes from Post-Pauline times. Mythic rituals were meant to bring about the salvation and transformation of initiates. In that sense it could be seen as similar to Christianity, but it was a religion and all religions aim at ultimate transformation. He's a total mythical figure he meets the sun who kneels before him, he slays a cosmic bull, nothing is real or human, no sayings, no teachings.

1) no Virginal Conception

Mithra was born of a rock, so unless the rock was a virgin rock, no virginal conception for him. (Marvin W. Meyer, ed. The Ancient Mysteries :a Sourcebook. San Francisco: Harper, 1987,, p. 201). David Ulansey, who is perhaps the greatest Mithric scholar of the age, agrees that Mithras was born out of a rock, not of a virgin woman. He was also born as a full grown adult. (Ulansey, David. The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World. New York: Oxford U. Press, 1989.)

2) No crucifixion or resurrection.

There no story of Mithras death and no references to resurrection. The only similarity about him in this relation is that his shedding of the Bull's blood is said by H.G. Wells (Out Line of World History ) to be the prototype for Jesus sacrifice on the cross. But in reality the only similarity here is blood, and it wasn't even his own. It may even be borrowing form Christianity that made the shedding of blood important in the religion. Gordon says directly, that there is "no death of Mithras" -- (Gordon, Richard. Image and Value in the Greco-Roman World. Aldershot: Variorum, 1996.(p96)

3) No Savior, no baptism, no Christmas

Moreover, one of the major sources comes from the second century AD and is found in inscriptions on a temple, "and you saved us after having shed the eternal blood." This sounds Christian, but being second century after Christ it could well be borrowed from Christianity (Meyer, p 206). (This source, Meyer, is used by Kane as well, but it says nothing to back up his claims, and as will be seen latter, Meyer disparages the notion of conscious borrowing] (More about this ceremony on Page II)

"Mithra was the Persian god whose worship became popular among Roman soldiers (his cult was restricted to men) and was to prove a rival to Christianity in the late Roman Empire. Early Zoroastrian texts, such as the Mithra Yasht, cannot serve as the basis of a mystery of Mithra inasmuch as they present a god who watches over cattle and the sanctity of contracts. Later Mithraic evidence in the west is primarily iconographic; there are no long coherent texts". (Edwin Yamauchi, "Easter: "Myth, Hallucination, or History," Leadership University)

4) Most of our sources Post Date Christianity.

.....(a) Almost no Textual evidence exists for Mithraism

Most of the texts that do exist are from outsiders who were speculating about the cult. We have no information form inside the cult.

Cosmic Mysteries of Mythras (website--visted July 1, 2006)

David Ulansey (the Major scholar of Mithraism in world)

Owing to the cult's secrecy, we possess almost no literary evidence about the beliefs of Mithraism. The few texts that do refer to the cult come not from Mithraic devotees themselves, but rather from outsiders such as early Church fathers, who mentioned Mithraism in order to attack it, and Platonic philosophers, who attempted to find support in Mithraic symbolism for their own philosophical ideas.

International congress of Mithraic studies

"At present our knowledge of both general and local cult practice in respect of rites of passage, ceremonial feats and even underlying ideology is based more on conjecture than fact." (Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies. Manchester U. Press, 1975. ,437)

And Cumont himself observed, in the 50s

"The sacred books which contain the prayers recited or chanted during the [Mithraic] survives, the ritual on the initiates, and the ceremonials of the feasts, have vanished and left scarce a trace behind...[we] know the esoteric disciplines of the Mysteries only from a few indiscretions." (Cumont, Franz. The Mysteries of Mithra. New York: Dover, 1950.152)

........(b) Roman Cult began after Jesus life

Our earliest evidence for the Mithraic mysteries places their appearance in the middle of the first century B.C.: the historian Plutarch says that in 67 B.C. a large band of pirates based in Cilicia (a province on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor) were practicing "secret rites" of Mithras. The earliest physical remains of the cult date from around the end of the first century A.D., and Mithraism reached its height of popularity in the third century. (Ulansey, David. Cosmoic Mysteries of Mithras (Ulansey website)


..........(c) No Continuity between Ancient Persian past and Roman Cult

Throughout most of the twentieth century Franz Cumont so influenced scholarship that the entire discipline followed in the wake of his assumption that the Roman cult was spread by the Persian cult. In the early 70's David Ulansey did for Mithric scholarship what Noan Chomsky did for linguistics, he totally redefined the coordinates by which the discipline moved. Ulansey showed that the Roman cult was not the continuance of the Persian cult, that there was no real evidence of a Persian cult. He showed that the killing of the great comic bull which latter became the major event in Mithraism, and the parallel from which Jesus Mythers get the shedding of blood and sacrifice, was not known in the Persian era. This was be like showing that the story of the Cross was not known to Christians in the first century. The major likeness to Christianity and the central point of the cult of Mithraism was not known in the time of Christ, in the time Paul, or for at least two centuries after:

"There were, however, a number of serious problems with Cumont's assumption that the Mithraic mysteries derived from ancient Iranian religion. Most significant among these is that there is no parallel in ancient Iran to the iconography which is the primary fact of the Roman Mithraic cult. For example, as already mentioned, by far the most important icon in the Roman cult was the tauroctony. This scene shows Mithras in the act of killing a bull, accompanied by a dog, a snake, a raven, and a scorpion; the scene is depicted as taking place inside a cave like the mithraeum itself. This icon was located in the most important place in every mithraeum, and therefore must have been an expression of the central myth of the Roman cult. Thus, if the god Mithras of the Roman religion was actually the Iranian god Mithra, we should expect to find in Iranian mythology a story in which Mithra kills a bull. However, the fact is that no such Iranian myth exists: in no known Iranian text does Mithra have anything to do with killing a bull." (David Ulansey Mithras Mysteries).

(5) Mithraism Emerged in the west only after Jesus' day.

Mithraism could not have become an influence upon the origins of the first century, for the simple reason that Mithraism did not emerge from its pastoral setting in rural Persia until after the close of the New Testament canon. (Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra (Chicago: Open Court, 1903), 87ff.)

(6) We Don't know what any of it means.

"No one can be sure that the meaning of the meals and the ablutions are the same between Christianity and Mithraism. Just because the two had them is no indication that they come to the same thing. These are entirely superficial and circumstantial arguments." (Nash, Christian Research Journal winter 94, p.8)

(7) Mithraism was influenced by Christianity

,,,,,,,,,,a) Roman Soldiers Spread the cult.

Roman soldiers probably encountered Mithraism first as part of Zoroastrians when they while on duty in Persia. The Cult spread through the Roman legion, was most popular in the West, and ha little chance to spread through or influence upon Palestine. It's presence in Palestine was mainly confined to the Romans who were there to oppress the Jews. Kane tries to imply that these mystery cults were all indigenous to the Palestinian area, that they grew up alongside Judaism, and that the adherents to these religions all traded ideas as they happily ate together and practiced good neighborship.

,,,,,,,,,,,,b) Mithric Roman Soldiers Influenced by Christians in Palestine

But Mithraism was confined to the Roman Legion primarily, those who were stationed in Palestine to subdue the Jewish Revolt of A.D. 66-70. In fact strong evidence indicates that in this way Christianity influenced Mithraism. First, because Romans stationed in the West were sent on short tours of duty to fight the Parthians in the East, and to put down the Jewish revolt. This is where they would have encountered a Christianity whose major texts were already written, and whose major story (that of the life of Christ) was already formed.

"There is no real evidence for a Persian Cult of Mithras. The cultic and mystery aspect did not exist until after the Roman period, second century to fourth. This means that any similarities to Christianity probably come from Christianity as the Soldiers learned of it during their tours in Palestine. The Great historian of religions, Franz Cumont was able to prove that the earliest datable evidence for the cult came from the Military Garrison at Carnuntum, on the Danube River (modern Hungary). The largest Cache of Mithric artifacts comes form the area between the Danube and Ostia in Italy." (Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra (Chicago: Open Court, 1903), 87ff.)

3) Mithraism was not Christianity's Major Rival



Mithraism

The Ecole Initiative:

http://cedar.evansville.edu/~ecoleweb/articles/mithraism.html

Mithraism had a wide following from the middle of the second century to the late fourth century CE, but the common belief that Mithraism was the prime competitor of Christianity, promulgated by Ernst Renan (Renan 1882 579), is blatantly false. Mithraism was at a serious disadvantage right from the start because it allowed only male initiates. What is more, Mithraism was, as mentioned above, only one of several cults imported from the eastern empire that enjoyed a large membership in Rome and elsewhere. The major competitor to Christianity was thus not Mithraism but the combined group of imported cults and official Roman cults subsumed under the rubric "paganism." Finally, part of Renan's claim rested on an equally common, but almost equally mistaken, belief that Mithraism was officially accepted because it had Roman emperors among its adherents (Nero, Commodus, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, and the Tetrarchs are most commonly cited). Close examination of the evidence for the participation of emperors reveals that some comes from literary sources of dubious quality and that the rest is rather circumstantial. The cult of Magna Mater, the first imported cult to arrive in Rome (204 BCE) was the only one ever officially recognized as a Roman cult. The others, including Mithraism, were never officially accepted, and some, particularly the Egyptian cult of Isis, were periodically outlawed and their adherents persecuted.

9 comments:

Loren said...

I will concede that there is a lot of misinformation going around about Mithra and Mithraism and pagan godmen in general. However, it's possible to be a Jesus mythicist while rejecting that misinformation, as Earl Doherty and others have demonstrated.

Even if there was a historical Jesus Christ, he most likely was someone very different from how the Gospels had described him. That is, he most likely was 100% human, 0% god, someone who had worked 0 miracles, and someone who had stayed dead after he died. This is not a result of "naturalistic presuppositions", it is a result of refusing to do special pleading on behalf of the Bible's "history".

Non-miraculous parts of the Gospels could also have been unhistorical. He could have been stoned to death in Lydda (now Lod), not crucified in Jerusalem (somewhere in the Talmud).

Metacrock said...

I will concede that there is a lot of misinformation going around about Mithra and Mithraism and pagan godmen in general. However, it's possible to be a Jesus mythicist while rejecting that misinformation, as Earl Doherty and others have demonstrated.

that's not saying anything because it just means that every time part of the thesis is disproved you re-write it. Sot he original Jesus myth thing has been totally disproved.

Even if there was a historical Jesus Christ, he most likely was someone very different from how the Gospels had described him. That is, he most likely was 100% human, 0% god, someone who had worked 0 miracles, and someone who had stayed dead after he died.

that's just ideology. you don't believe in God anyway so of course you think that, saying that is not even particularly Jesus mythie. Its' just what any atheist would say. the truth is there's nothing left of the Jesus hypothesis, it's been reduced to just regular atheism.



This is not a result of "naturalistic presuppositions", it is a result of refusing to do special pleading on behalf of the Bible's "history".


obviously it's the former. I don't do any special pleading and I've proved over and over again most atheists don't what that term means. You don't. you think it means I privilege my stuff and the problem with tat for you is you want to privilege yiour stuff.

your arguments are really just saying "you don't privilege my stuff so you are wrong.


Non-miraculous parts of the Gospels could also have been unhistorical. He could have been stoned to death in Lydda (now Lod), not crucified in Jerusalem (somewhere in the Talmud).

course, but there's no reason to think so. there is not one single source anywhere from the era within 400 years that records it any differently. All of those ideas, the crucifixion resurrection that he claimed to be Messiah, that he healed, that his mother was Mary that's all backed up by every single source that talks about him. none of them ever change any of it. So that's a damn god reason to assume it' historical.

Loren said...

that's not saying anything because it just means that every time part of the thesis is disproved you re-write it. Sot he original Jesus myth thing has been totally disproved.

Not at all. Jesus mythicism does not depend on the sort of claims that I'm criticizing here.

(Jesus Christ as 0% god and non-miracle-worker...)

that's just ideology. ...

No it isn't, any more than the beliefs of believers in other religions are "just ideology". Do you agree with Jews and Muslims that Jesus Christ had been 100% human and 0% god? That's what their religions teach about him. If you don't, does that make Judaism and Islam "just ideology"?

("naturalistic presuppositions" vs. refusal to do special pleading...)

obviously it's the former. ...

Not at all. It's not "naturalistic presuppositions" that causes me to dismiss the story of Romulus and Remus as pure fiction. It's more of a Humean argument of "where did the miracles go?" And if you dismiss that story as fiction also, does that mean that you are doing out of "naturalistic presuppositions"? Or is it out of some presupposition that every religion but yours must be false?

Metacrock said...

Meta:"that's not saying anything because it just means that every time part of the thesis is disproved you re-write it. Sot he original Jesus myth thing has been totally disproved."

Loren:Not at all. Jesus mythicism does not depend on the sort of claims that I'm criticizing here.


Meta (new): Yes it clearly does! You only say it doesn't because that's the lattest version having destroyed the one's that came before.


all you have to do is trace the use of it on the net. It used to cetenr on the copy cat savior thing, we beat that hands down. I give credit to Miller and HOlding but I think I had some hand in it too becuase I went and got the original myth books like Bullfinch and showed how they differ fromw hat the mtyhers were saying in their books. Then I start publicizing it on the secular web and when some of them admitted I was wright aht broke their hold.

then Gandi and Frick being proved as Hoaxes with the anchor cross thing was the nail in their coffin. They started jumping ship like rats on a burning deck and swimming over the Doherty ship in droves.

The only reason the Doherty ship hasn't been totally sunk is because he had the sense not to rook his their in such obvious BS but use stuff that can't be looked up in an original body of works.



(Jesus Christ as 0% god and non-miracle-worker...)

Meta:that's just ideology. ...

Loren:No it isn't, any more than the beliefs of believers in other religions are "just ideology". Do you agree with Jews and Muslims that Jesus Christ had been 100% human and 0% god? That's what their religions teach about him. If you don't, does that make Judaism and Islam "just ideology"?


Meta: That is ideology. Their abhorance of my categories, my abhorance of theirs, that's all ideology. the problem is I admit mine is ideology becuase it's a tenet of faith. I am the first say that. Their rejection of it is due to a tenet of theirs faiths.

the problem you wont admit that you are just regurgitating your faith like Muslims, Jews, and myself. you want to present it as though ti's a fact. you know for sure Jesus could not be the son of God and that's a scientific verdict.



("naturalistic presuppositions" vs. refusal to do special pleading...)

Meta:obviously it's the former. ...

Loren:Not at all. It's not "naturalistic presuppositions" that causes me to dismiss the story of Romulus and Remus as pure fiction.

Meta:Obviously it is, and it's bad reasoning that lead you to assume that the deity of Christ is the same thing. you can't see the distinction between a classical myth and a tenet of faith rooted in Hebrew expectations about Messiah because your ideology leads you to avoid critical distinction and to lump all religious thinking into a shallow surface level category of "myth" that sees all mythology as "lie."



It's more of a Humean argument of "where did the miracles go?" And if you dismiss that story as fiction also, does that mean that you are doing out of "naturalistic presuppositions"?

Meta: I can have naturalistic presuppositions becuase mine aer not just ideological knee jerks and propaganda but real critical thinking. I also understand the distinction between classical mythology and renal religion.



Loren:"Or is it out of some presupposition that every religion but yours must be false?"

Meta:why are you unable to learn? isn't English your first language? You've only heard my answer on other religions about 2,400 times. why can't you learn anything?

my essay on salvation and other faiths

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Myth or no myth, I don't believe Jesus is who the gospels say he was, not because I find it impossible or even implausible, but because I have not experienced him in any tangible way, despite years of devoutly loving and following him.

The problem with the mythers is always the details. Were these other great figures born of virgins? I don't care, but were they born supernaturally? Yep, and that's enough for me. Same for many of the other details.

It's all about reasonable doubt. Is the story of Christ in the NT 100% unique? Nope, is that reason to cast it aside? Of course not, but it is reason to not blindly accept it, to cast reasonable doubt.

Metacrock said...

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Myth or no myth, I don't believe Jesus is who the gospels say he was, not because I find it impossible or even implausible, but because I have not experienced him in any tangible way, despite years of devoutly loving and following him.


what do you mean by "tangential?" you mean like this desk? why should it be like that?

The problem with the mythers is always the details. Were these other great figures born of virgins? I don't care, but were they born supernaturally? Yep, and that's enough for me. Same for many of the other details.


that has nothing to do with the hypothesis.You might use that in some way to argue about not being a Chrsitian in a general sense but it certianly has no breading on the issue that Jesus was made up and copied after other figures.

There's no connection and just saying "born supernaturally" Is too veg.

It's all about reasonable doubt. Is the story of Christ in the NT 100% unique? Nope, is that reason to cast it aside? Of course not, but it is reason to not blindly accept it, to cast reasonable doubt.

It seems like you are trying re-create a new kind of Jesus myther myth that has nothing to do wit the actual Jesus myth thesis.

... said...

David Ulansey has done some interesting work on Mithraism, but it's a stretch to consider him "the greatest Mithraic scholar of the age", a title which, IMHO, should go to Roger Beck and/or Richard Gordon.

Metacrock said...

David Ulansey has done some interesting work on Mithraism, but it's a stretch to consider him "the greatest Mithraic scholar of the age", a title which, IMHO, should go to Roger Beck and/or Richard Gordon.

Maybe I should be more careful about bestowign grand titles on people. That Opinion was formulated several years ago, like somewhere around 2004, and I haven't really done any more research in the last few years. So maybe it was true then and not now.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"what do you mean by "tangential?" you mean like this desk? why should it be like that?"

Tangible, not tangential. No, not like the desk, I can find plenty of inanimate gods if I want them. I just want something real.

"that has nothing to do with the hypothesis.You might use that in some way to argue about not being a Chrsitian in a general sense but it certianly has no breading on the issue that Jesus was made up and copied after other figures.

There's no connection and just saying "born supernaturally" Is too veg."

Why is it too vague? Really, it would make sense. If I'm wanting create a competing product, but want it be perceived as original than I change it in some way. So YHWH didn't choose a shower of gold like Zeus did, and Jesus was born from a womb instead of YHWH's thigh.

"It seems like you are trying re-create a new kind of Jesus myther myth that has nothing to do wit the actual Jesus myth thesis."

I've read very little of the Jesus myth stuff as I find a lot of it to play a little too fast and loose withy the truth. What I do know is that my whole Christian life I heard Christians explain away similarities with previous events as God foreshadowing the coming of Christ and I find that explanation just a little too convenient.