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It's a Big Myth-Take
November 30, 2007 10:21 AM   Subscribe

We've discussed Tom Harpur's The Pagan Christ before. Now, the CBC is going to air a documentary exploring the questions raised in Harpur's book.

The program is part of CBC's Doc Zone series (some episodes available online). Directed by Cynthia Banks (who has done two previous documentaries for the CBC: 1, 2) snd written by Michael Allcock. Airing the documentary at this time of year will likely re-energize Harpur's critics.
posted by never used baby shoes (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
From the CBC:
Harpur discovered that the New Testament is wholly based on Egyptian mythology, that Jesus Christ never lived, and that – indeed – the text was always meant to be read allegorically.
posted by No Robots at 12:11 PM on November 30, 2007


Of course Harpur is correct. That's why the New Testament writers say things like:

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
2 Peter 1:16-18.

Clearly, the text was always meant to be read allegorically.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:17 PM on November 30, 2007


And here's a little more evidence for the "always intended as allegory" position.

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Luke 1:1-4
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:21 PM on November 30, 2007


The Evangelical wingnuts misread the thing one way, this wingnut mistreads it another. Meh.
posted by kjs3 at 1:07 PM on November 30, 2007


Before people get all excited about how much kinder & gentler a pagan christianity might be. Let us remember that Hindu's are still involved in plenty of religious conflict. Their religion *should* be one of the most benign on the planet. Yes, I know their conflicts are usually with one of the worst offenders, but I'd still say the problem is intrinsic to religion itself.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:45 PM on November 30, 2007


I haven't noticed atheistic societies being notably more peaceful and less oppressive. My working theory is that the problem is intrinsic to humanity.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:28 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


My working theory is that the problem is intrinsic to humanity.

Original Sin is a powerful concept.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:44 PM on November 30, 2007


I haven't noticed atheistic societies being notably more peaceful and less oppressive.

Well, they are. The Scandinavian countries are proof of that.

Besides, everyone is an atheist when it comes to another religion's God(s).
posted by disgruntled at 4:03 PM on November 30, 2007


I've started this book, but so far I'm not really very impressed. So far he seems to just be reasserting his position over and over without much meat to back it up. But I find the idea interesting.
posted by nola at 6:50 PM on November 30, 2007


Just because a lot of people tell a lie, doesn't make the lie, the truth. Just because a lot of people believe ancient lies, doesn't make them true either. There is not a single human being, that was alive in the first century, that is living today, including Jesus of Nazareth. The farther from the lie I get, the more crazy the whole thing appears. This holiday season, is especially shrill, with the carols blaring, and the lights glaring. I am so distanced from this holiday, that it has taken on an asylum feel, and I will be grateful for the silence of January. Hooray for the Solstice, hail the rising of the light! Three cheers for reality.
posted by Oyéah at 7:05 PM on November 30, 2007


Well, they are. The Scandinavian countries are proof of that.

And Stalin's Russia. And Mao's China.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:26 AM on December 1, 2007


Also: The idea that "pagan" always equals "peaceful, enlightened, and groovy" is not borne out by history.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:31 AM on December 1, 2007


And Stalin's Russia. And Mao's China

Atheism was not, shockingly, the defining characteristic of these societies. You'd be looking at dogmatic totalitarianism for that. Blaming atheism would be like blaming ww2 on the church of england.

But when you have 2000 years of disingenuousness, what's a little cognative dissonance between friends?
posted by Sparx at 5:19 AM on December 1, 2007


And Stalin's Russia. And Mao's China

Ever hear of fascism and communism? How 'bout totalitarianism?

In fact, that's what religions are. Instead of giving total obedience to the state or its leader, you're subordinating yourself to the will of an invisible man in the sky. You tell me what's more crazy and oppressive?

There are no such thing as "atheists." There are skeptics and non-believer when it comes to the countless crazy superstitious beliefs that have been nothing but a plague to humanity.
posted by disgruntled at 10:10 AM on December 1, 2007


Just because a lot of people tell a lie, doesn't make the lie, the truth.

Dammit, yes it does. It doesn't make the lie "logically sound", but it sure as hell makes it the "truth".

"How many people near me say X is True?" <-- That's how the vast majority of humans on this planet figure out what True is.

"Truth" is a local phenomenon. Reason... well that's different than "truth".
posted by Moistener at 11:53 AM on December 1, 2007


I haven't noticed atheistic societies being notably more peaceful and less oppressive. My working theory is that the problem is intrinsic to humanity.


Wealth is inversely correlated with religiosity.
posted by Brian B. at 4:14 PM on December 1, 2007


Disgruntled:

You said that atheistic societies are more peaceful and less oppressive. I quote:

Well, they are. The Scandinavian countries are proof of that.

I pointed out that 2 of the most powerful and murderous regimes of the last 100 years were officially atheistic. Now you describe their atheism as a kind of religion.

So are atheistic societies more peaceful and less oppressive, or not? You make atheism sound like a pretty dangerous cult.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2007


I didn't say that atheistic societies are more peaceful and less oppressive. What I said is right there on the page.

"I pointed out that 2 of the most powerful and murderous regimes of the last 100 years were officially atheistic."

"Officially atheistic"? There's no such thing. What symbols or doctrines do "atheists" officially follow? The answer is: none. As I said before, there is no such thing as an atheist, it's just a label given to non-religious people because they're a minority.

It's a specious argument anyway because you're cherry picking history in an attempt to demonize non-religious people and make Christianity or some other religioin the savior of humanity.

It's a specious argument because religions have slaughtered countless innocent people.

It's a specious argument because it would be virtually impossible to go back to the beginning of human history and tally up a body count for atrocities committed by religious and non-religious people.

It's a specious argument because there are Catholic priests that rape and sodomize innocent children.

It's specious argument because you don't know what another human being truly believes. Did Hitler believe in God? It doesn't matter because he didn't personally kill any Jews, the German people did, and they were officially Catholic.
posted by disgruntled at 6:41 PM on December 5, 2007


I didn't say that atheistic societies are more peaceful and less oppressive. What I said is right there on the page.

Peter Alethias said: "I haven't noticed atheistic societies being notably more peaceful and less oppressive."

You said: Well, they are.

"Officially atheistic"? There's no such thing.

Evidently you don't know anything about the Soviet or Chinese Communist regimes.

It's a specious argument anyway because you're cherry picking history in an attempt to demonize non-religious people and make Christianity or some other religioin the savior of humanity.

So citing only the Scandinavian countries as evidence of atheist societies being superior isn't cherry-picking?

And where did I demonize all non-religious people? Where did I make Christianity or any religion the savior of humanity?

For the record: I do not think all non-religious people are evil. I do not think any particular belief system is the savior of humanity.

I simply objected to your naive generalization about the superiority of atheist societies.

I agree that it would be impossible to tally up how many people have been killed by religious and non-religious people. I do not assert the superiority of religion. I simply reject assertions of the superiority of atheism. The regimes of Stalin and Mao are prime examples of why atheism is no guarantee of a morally superior society.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:17 PM on December 9, 2007


Putting atheism to one side, can we agree that societies with a strong secular component (most of Europe, Canada, the US for a few more minutes, etc.) are generally better than ones that try to exclude the secular component?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:37 PM on December 9, 2007


So are atheistic societies more peaceful and less oppressive, or not?

Less oppressive societies are least dogmatic, and dogma includes religious belief and communism. They are democratic societies too, a plan not found in Christian dogma. The reason why a moralizer would ignore the dogmatist aspects of their argument is because they want to impose their dogma onto the rest of us and thereby need to set aside the communist counter-examples. Worse for their cause is the plain text of their scriptures, which advocated communist order and murder.

Christian communism in the New Testament lead to the death of those who weren't totalistic.

Additionally, communism murdered millions of dangerous "intellectuals" and most of them were killed because they questioned totalitarian dogmatism.

The real question is how it became so easy for believers in the New Testament to ignore their own connection to communism, and how this ignorance enables them to ignore the subject of communism when arguing against atheism.
posted by Brian B. at 1:31 PM on December 9, 2007


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