Blogging the EPS Conference 2

One of the breakout sessions I attended was about the 2007 Zeitgeist: the Movie, an Internet movie that supposedly demonstrates that Christianity was derived from other pagan religions. Personally, I could care less about the movie itself which is highly conspiratorial but I have heard that charge from a number of atheists, and always wondered where they got that idea from. I actually heard Michael Schermer make this claim in a debate about 7 years ago.

To say that Dr. Mark Foreman countered the argument is an understatement. He bashed it, stomped on it, beat it senseless and and buried it. I don’t think I have ever heard an idea so roundly defeated; I actually felt a little sorry for people who have believed it.

Basically the filmmaker, and other who have make this claim accept very shoddy old scholarship done by skeptics who cherry picked ancient mythologies. Not only that, but many of the supposed parallels are based on popular notions about Christianity (like the Dec.25th birthdate of Jesus) rather than what was actually written in the text.

In many cases the supposed similarities are really wordplays and not actual similarities; and more often than not they are only similar in the imagination of the movie maker. Some of the supposed events the Gospel writers are claimed to have ‘borrowed’ weren’t written about until long after the the Gospels were. There was more, but this gives you an idea of how roundly the idea was dismissed.

Overall it was a pretty concise piece of scholarship.


4 Responses to Blogging the EPS Conference 2

  1. Justin says:

    Yes, the Zeit movie was full of blatent factual errors (I call them lies) designed to smear Christianity.

  2. Nate says:

    It is true that some dates and some customs have been borrowed from the earlier pagan religions. Christmas trees and the date for Christmas being two of the big ones. The thing is, since no one knows when Jesus was really born making it the 25th of December helped to integrate pagan peoples by not trying to strip them of their culture and Christmas trees, well they have nothing to do with Jesus what so ever.

    The biggest part that some people forget is that it is still Christianity without Christmas trees or even if the date of Christmas was moved to July. All hallows eve and all saints day fall into this category as well. (along with scores of other inconsequential small customs.)

    At the end of the day the ability to integrate people of different backgrounds and allowing them to keep their customs while still becoming Christians is what makes Christianity one of the most successful religions in history. You don’t have to swear off everything you know to become one.

  3. Nate says:

    I know much of the criticism comes from similarities between certain bible stories and the stories of other cultures.

    You do have to ask the question:

    Why does nearly every culture on earth have a flood story? Hmmm… Its possible that the tea party developed time travel and its all a big conspiracy designed to add credence to the bible.

  4. Justin says:

    Hey Nate!

    There’s a couple of reasons why nearly every culture on Earth has a flood narrative:

    1) The flood happened early, before humans had spread to the continents.
    2) Or the flood covered the globe.

    Personally, I think it’s actually 1) that is most consistent with the Bible. The tower of Babel came after Noah and the flood. Even if one takes a much less literal view of Genesis (my internal jury is still out), the chronological order is still there. It makes sense to me that the flood and the tower story are very VERY old. Not 6,000 years old, but perhaps 50,000 to 70,000 years old.

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