"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly." – G. K. Chesterton

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The UVA rape story comes to its not-so-dramatic conclusion.

It was a hoax.

Shame on Rolling Stone for publishing such slander.  Shame on Sabrina Rubin Erdely for writing it.  I hope that both face several large libel lawsuits as a result.  Is it too much to hope that Rolling Stone will go bankrupt and cease publication as a result?

Shame on other media sources that were fooled by this and spread the story uncritically.  Shame on those at UVA and elsewhere who vandalized the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house and threatened those who were falsely accused.

Congratulations are owed to those with the courage to expose the truth, particularly Richard Bradley and Robby Soave.

Gerald McBoingBoing

I haven’t been posting much lately, and what I have been posting hasn’t been very positive.  I figure that my loyal readers–all six of them–deserve something uplifting and happy once in a while.  So here is the tale of Gerald McBoing Boing.  This is a cartoon short written by none other than Dr. Seuss, dating from the golden age of animation.  Enjoy.

Chesterton on Zoo Animals

Today is “Talk Like a Pirate Day”, so it’s the perfect day to read Chesterton’s poem On the Dangers Attending Altruism on the High Seas.    If that whets your appetite for silly poetry and even sillier illustration, then you should procede to this piece, which also comes from Chesterton’s first book, Greybeards at Play.

The Oneness of the Philosopher with Nature

I love to see the little Stars
all dancing to one tune
I think quite highly of the Sun,
and kindly of the Moon.

The million forests of the Earth
come trooping in to tea.
The great Niagara waterfall
is never shy with me.

I am the Tiger’s confidant,
and never mention names:
the Lion drops the formal “Sir,”
and lets me call him James.

Into my ear the blushing Whale
stammers his love. I know
why the Rhinoceros is sad,
— ah, child! ’twas long ago.

I am akin to all the Earth
by many a tribal sign:
the aged Pig will often wear
that sad, sweet smile of mine.

My niece, the Barnacle, has got
my piercing eyes of black;
the Elephant has got my nose,
I do not want it back.

I know the strange tale of the Slug;
the Early Sin — the Fall —
the Sleep — the Vision — and the Vow —
the Quest — the Crown — the Call.

And I have loved the Octopus,
since we were boys together.
I love the Vulture and the Shark:
I even love the weather.

I love to bask in sunny fields,
and when that hope is vain,
I go and bask in Baker Street,
all in the pouring rain.

Come snow! where fly, by some strange law,
hard snowballs — without noise —
through streets untenanted, except
by good unconscious boys.

Come fog! Exultant mystery —
where, in strange darkness rolled,
the end of my own nose becomes
a lovely legend old.

Come snow, and hail, and thunderbolts,
sleet, fire, and general fuss;
come to my arms, come all at once —
oh photograph me thus!

 

The Copycat Hypothesis: Part 2

(Continued from part one)

In part one, we looked at what atheists are saying about the gospels being copied from Pagan myths.  We found that it was not true.  Bluntly, what these people say about Pagan myths is one hundred percent wrong.  In the relevant mythology, the Pagan deities and characters simply don’t do what proponents of the myth say they do.  None of the Pagan characters in question were born of a virgin, none were resurrected, none had twelve disciples, &c… &c…  So in short, there’s nothing to see here.  Are all the atheists who promote this theory just big, fat liars?

Yes and no, but mostly yes.  If we want to know where the copycat hypothesis came from, we can trace it back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  At that time there were a few scholars, though not many, who believed it.  Modern-day proponents of the copycat hypothesis constantly quote books that are more than a century out of date, since all more recent and rigorous scholarship flatly contradicts their beliefs.  Francis Cumont’s The Mysteries of Mithra, published in 1903, is a favorite of these people.

Are there more modern sources that support the copycat hypothesis?  Yes.  The best known is Achyra S., a pseudonym for a women who claims to be “scholar” but has never published any academic material or held any position in any field relating to the history of Jesus.  She describes her website as a hub of astrology and other things that scientific atheists normally despise, yet they continue to quote her abundantly.  Why?  Beats me.

Ms. Achyra’s articles are classics of intellectual dishonesty, fact-twisting, and outright absurdity.  For example, take a gander at this article entitled Was Krishna Crucified?  Achyra says the answer is yes because Krishna was shot with arrows, which is kind of like being crucified.  Her source this is the book Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions, which was published in 1882.  She does not present any more recent source to justify her claim about similarity between Krishna myths and the gospels.  Likewise every article on her website is littered with ridiculous, out-of-date sources and nonsensical arguments.

So besides Achyra S., is there anyone still upholding the Christ myth theory today.  The name one most commonly hears is G. A. Wells, who the atheists will refer to as “a scholar”.  They do not mention that he was a scholar of German language, with no credentials in any field related to the Gospel.  They also don’t mention that Wells ended up changing his mind and acknowledging that Jesus did exist.

I could go on.  And on.  And on.  Thanks to the technological marvel known as the internet, anyone can post anything, and among atheists there will always be plenty of people willing to believe whatever they read, rather than asking critical questions.  Anyone who puts real research into the topic will quickly find that the advocates of the copycat hypothesis don’t have a leg to stand on.  The same is true regarding the old flat earth argument and countless others.  Why is this?  Don’t we all know that atheists are rational, skeptical, and plunge through the layers of mythology to find the cold, hard truth?  And that Christians are deluded and credulous and brainwashed?  So why is it that whenever we do actual research on an issue, the actual facts found by actual scholars always support the Christian viewpoint?

Why indeed?
Online resources:

Bede’s Library.  A short but professional and well-written list of articles responding to copycat claims and others.

Tektonics.  An excellent online apologetics ministry with a comprehensive debunking of copycat claims.

GakuseiDon.  More apologetics work, though unfortunately not updated often.

 

Print resources:

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, by Dr. Craig Blomberg

Lord or Legend: Wrestling with the Jesus Dilemma, by Gregory Boyd and Paul Rhodes

The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel

Rewriting Lance Armstrong

The verdict is in: Lance Armstrong will be officially stripped of his seven titles in the Tour de France after he ceased contesting an official investigation into allegations of steroid use.  This comes a month after the NCAA imposed sanctions on the Penn State football program including voiding 112 official victories.  Cases of this sort with a lower profile are growing more common as well.  It now seems to be a rule that if an athlete does something that people severely dislike, he’ll be punished by rewriting his record.

Does this make sense?  Obviously not.  Record books exist to tell the truth.  Penn State did win those football games.  Lance Armstrong did complete the Tour de France in the shortest amount of time during those seven years.  The record books should report what actually happened, not what we wish had happened.  In that sense, these instances of rewriting are examples of a disturbing trend.

History of all sorts should be truthful.  Much of our history these days is constantly rewritten to fit with prevailing sentiments.  Truth is now fungible.  There’s no virtue in actually telling it like it is.  Instead the facts get adjusted to meet the emotional desires of the times.  Does anyone doubt that this is happening in many areas far beyond sports?  Does anyone question that history books now contain a fair amount of fiction and half-truths put in to appease various interest groups?  That museums and other historical gatekeepers are careful to bend historical truth a bit in certain situations?

Nextup among atheist arguments: the copycat hypothesis.

Fresh off their failure with flat-earth claims, some atheists on my favorite message board are bringing on the copycat hypothesis.  In case you’re not familiar with this one, let me summarize.  The life story of Jesus Christ in the Gospels is actually copied from some pagan mythological character.  Which character?  Different claims abound.  Some advocates seem to prefer saying that the Gospels were copied from some pagan source but won’t tell us which one.

In any case, the claim is untrue.  Completely untrue.  As we will now see.

(As always my goal here is to only give a summary response.  Some sources for the facts I present will be included, and a list of further reading will appear at the end.)

The atheist who advances the copycat hypothesis usually begins by naming a Pagan deity.  The three most popular seem to be the Egyptian God Horus, the Greek God Dionysius–also called Bacchus–and the enigmatic figure known as Mithras.  The atheist will then say that the deity in question was born of a virgin, had twelve disciples, ordered his followers to eat his body in the form of bread and wine, was crucified, remained dead for three days, was resurrected, and perhaps had other similarities to story of Jesus in the Gospels.  (Of course, if these people were truly atheists, surely they wouldn’t believe that Horus or Dionysius or whoever existed.  What they actually mean is that these facts are supposedly true in the relevant mythology, but advocates rarely say that.)  The atheist will then insist that these myths were written centuries before Christ, and that the entirety of Christianity is therefor plagiarized from pagan sources.

Such claims are simply wrong.  When you stop believing everything you read on the internet and start checking reliable academic works or primary source material, you find not the slightest bit of evidence to back up what is being claimed.  For example, let’s take a look at the character of Horus.  The source material here, is the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which is not a proper book at all, but a collection of ancient Egyptian writings spanning a long time frame.  The authoritative translation of the texts s by E. A. Wallace Budge and is available online here.  Budge also provides a summary of the legend of the god Osiris and his wife Isis; Horus was their son.

The relevant portion of the legend reads:

Isis sought her son Horus in Buto, in Lower Egypt, first having hidden the chest in a secret place. But Typhon, one night hunting by the light of the moon, found the chest, and, recognizing the body, tore it into fourteen pieces, which he scattered up and down throughout the land. When Isis heard of this she took a boat made of papyrus–a plant abhorred by crocodiles–and sailing about she gathered the fragments of Osiris’s body. Wherever she found one, there she built a tomb. But now Horus had grown up, and being encouraged to the use of arms by Osiris, who returned from the other world, he went out to do battle with Typhon, the murderer of his father. The fight lasted many days, and Typhon was made captive. But Isis, to whom the care of the prisoner was given, so far from aiding her son Horus, set Typhon at liberty. Horus in his rage tore from her head the royal diadem; but Thoth gave her a helmet in the shape of a cow’s head. In two other battles fought between Horus and Typhon, Horus was the victor.

An account of the battle is also given in the IVth Sallier papyrus, wherein we are told that it took place on the 26th day of the month Thoth. Horus and Set fought in the form of two men, but they afterwards changed themselves into two bears, and they passed three days and three nights in this form. Victory inclined now to one side, and now to the other, and the heart of Isis suffered bitterly. When Horus saw that she loosed the fetters which he had laid upon Set, he became like a “raging panther of the south with fury,” and she fled before him; but he pursued her, and cut off her head, which Thoth transformed by his words of magical power and set upon her body again in the form of that of a cow.

The virgin birth, twelve disciples, eucharist, crucifixion, resurrection, and all other supposed similarities to Jesus seem to have gone missing.  Do some research on other characters supposedly similar to Christ and you’ll find the same thing.  Dionysius, for instance:

According to one myth, Dionysus is the son of the god Zeus and the mortal woman, (daughter of Cadmus of Thebes). Semele is killed by Zeus’ lightning bolts while Dionysus is still in her womb. Dionysus is rescued and undergoes a second birth from Zeus after developing in his thigh. Zeus then gives the infant to some nymphs to be raised. In another version, one with more explicit religious overtones, Dionysus, also referred to as Zagreus in this account, is the son of Zeus and Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. Hera gets the Titans to lure the infant with toys, and then they rip him to shreds eating everything but Zagreus’ heart, which is saved by either Athena Rhea, or Demeter. Zeus remakes his son from the heart and implants him in Semele who bears a new Dionysus Zagreus. Hence, as in the earlier account, Dionysus is called “twice born.” The latter account formed a part of the Orphic religion’s religious mythology.

It does seem clear that Dionysus, at least the Phrygian Dionysus, was a late arrival in the Greek world and in Greek mythology. He is hardly mentioned at all in the Homeric epics, and when he is it is with some hostility. A number of his stories are tales of how Dionysus moved into a city, was resisted, and then destroyed those who opposed him. The most famous account of this is that of Euripides in his play the Bacchae. He wrote this play while in the court of King Archelaus of Macedon, and nowhere do we see Dionysus more destructive and his worship more dangerous than in this play. Scholars have speculated not unreasonably that in Macedon Euripides discovered a more extreme form of the religion of Dionysus being practiced than the more civil, quiet forms in Athens.

Briefly, Dionysus returns to Thebes, his putative birthplace, where his cousin Pentheus is king. He has returned to punish the women of Thebes for denying that he was a god and born of a god. Pentheus is enraged at the worship of Dionysus and forbids it, but he cannot stop the women, including his mother Agave, or even the elder statesmen of the kingdom from swarming to the wilds to join the Maenads (a term given to women under the ecstatic spell of Dionysus) in worship. Dionysus lures Pentheus to the wilds where he is killed by the Maenads and then mutilated by Agave.

And then there’s Mithras.  About this character very little is known.  There were actually several different cults devoted to Mithras.  One flourished in India and Persia around the fifth and sixth centuries B.C.  A new one sprang up in Rome late in the first century A.D.  The copycatists try to insist that Christianity was copied from this later, Roman cult, despite the fact that it came into existence generations later than Christianity.  Quoting Dr. Edwin Yamauchi from The Case for the Real Jesus:

“Mithraism as a religion cannot be attested before about 90 A.D. … The earliest Mithraic inscription in the West is a statue of a prefect under the Emperor Trajan in AD 101. The earliest mithraea are dated to the early second century. There are a handful of inscriptions that date to the early second century, but the vast majority of texts are dated after 140 AD. Most of what we have as evidence of Mithraism comes from the second, third, and fourth centuries AD. That’s basically what’s wrong with the theories about Mithraism influencing the beginnings of Christianitiy.”

So how did the early Christians manage to copy from a source that didn’t even exist at the time?  Only the advocates of the copycat theory know.

The Quaker’s new ‘doo.

Today’s blog post concerns the topic of the Quaker Oats icon.  I’m sure you recognize him.

He looks good enough to me, happy and iconic anda decent sort to bear the banner of the only brand of cereal named after a religious denomination.  (At least I’ve never heard of “Coptic Cheerios” or “Presbyterian Fruit Loops”.)  But apparently his owner, Pepsico, is not happy with him, because they’re giving him a face lift.  The new Quaker Oats guy will have a thinner face and shorter hair.

Whatever happens, I hope it’s not as drastic as what happened to the Sun-Maid Raisin woman:

(Before)

(After)

Apparently she got implants.

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