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Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 | ISSN 1556-5696

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Upcoming Shermer events around the country

Debate: “Evolution or ID?”
Michael Shermer v. Hugh Ross & Fazale Rana on “Evolution or ID?”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Lazzara Performance Hall, University of North Florida
1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224

This debate will be repeated on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at the University of Texas (Austin) with Steven Weinberg joining Shermer on stage. Details on time and location to be announced at a later date.

Tickets available through the UNF bookstore at (904) 620-2878
(free to students and faculty).

Lecture: “Why People Believe Weird Things”

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Ohlone College, Fremont, CA

Lecture: “Why People Believe Weird Things”

Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm
Cypress College, Cypress, CA

READ the latest touring lecture information
at www.MichaelShermer.com


Our Next Lecture at Caltech:
Losing My Religion

with William Lobdell

Sunday, March 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm
Baxter Lecture Hall, Caltech (map)

William Lobdell’s journey of faith — and doubt — is one of the most compelling spiritual memoirs of our time. Lobdell became a born-again Christian in his late 20s when personal problems drove him to his knees in prayer. As a newly minted evangelical, Lobdell — a veteran journalist — noticed that religion wasn’t covered well in the mainstream media, and he prayed for the Lord to put him on the religion beat at a major newspaper. In 1998, his prayers were answered when the Los Angeles Times asked him to write about faith. What happened next was a roller-coaster of inspiration, confusion, doubt, and soul-searching as his reporting and experiences slowly chipped away at his faith…


Fossils Under LA

Last week it was announced that a new excavation near La Brea has unearthed the largest known cache of fossils from the last ice age — including an 80-percent intact mammoth (named Zed). On this special edition of Skepticality, Swoopy talks with Dr. John M. Harris, curator of the George C. Page Museum at Rancho La Brea in the heart of Los Angeles. Dr. Harris reveals how this wonderful story unfolded — and how this staggering find emerged from beneath one of the most developed places on Earth.

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In this week’s eSkeptic, we present Tim Callahan’s critique of the movie Zeitgeist — The Greatest Story Ever Told.


The Greatest Story Ever Garbled

by Tim Callahan

Perhaps the worst aspect of “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” Part I of Peter Joseph’s Internet film, Zeitgeist, is that some of what it asserts is true. Unfortunately, this material is liberally — and sloppily — mixed with material that is only partially true and much that is plainly and simply bogus. Joseph’s main argument is that Jesus never existed and is in fact a mythical character based on earlier sun gods. He sees all the motifs and characters of the New Testament as coded astrological or solar references. The argument that Jesus was a mythical construct has been made before — for example by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy in their 1999 book, The Jesus Mysteries, though Freke and Gandy made their argument with a far greater level of scholarship. In reducing Jesus to a sun god, Joseph ignores — as Freke and Gandy did before him — the powerful current of messianic apocalypticism prevalent in first century Judea. The fact that there were references back to earlier dying and rising gods in the Christ myth can lend an air of spurious scholarship to Zeitgeist, as long as one ignores the equally important messianic myth and the fact that there is a viable basis for an actual historical Jesus. Joseph totally ignores the messianic/apocalyptic aspects of the New Testament writings and erroneously asserts that there is no evidence for a historical Jesus. I will return to this issue later. For now, let us consider Joseph’s solar deity argument.

The Solar Cross & Sloppy Solar Symbolism

The first assertion made in Zeitgeist is that the cross is a solar symbol and not a representation of the instrument of Jesus’ execution. That’s true enough, as far as it goes, which isn’t very far. What Jesus was crucified on probably looked more like a capital “T,” the crossbeam to which Jesus’ wrists were nailed being hoisted to rest atop an already anchored upright post. It was then probably secured in place by a spike. The Christian cross probably represents a melding of this “T” shape with the solar cross as a bit of religious syncretism. This can be seen if one considers that many Christian crosses are shown enclosed by or intersecting a circle, as in the Celtic cross. The cross is also a symbol of the four cardinal directions and the four winds. However, the solar associations of the cross, while adding solar connotations to the Christ myth, do not militate against it also being a symbol of the Crucifixion.

Joseph next asserts that the gods Horus, Krishna, Mithra and Attys all paralleled Jesus. Again, there is some truth to this, but Joseph mingles so much falsehood with whatever truths he reveals as to give ample ammunition to evangelical Christians who might want to shoot holes in his thesis. First of all, he says that the Egyptian god Horus was adored by three kings, had twelve disciples and was crucified. He says much the same thing about Mithra, as well as noting that Krishna was born on December 25. Almost none of this is true.

When it comes to Egyptian sources of the Christ myth, Joseph seems to have conflated Horus with his father, Osiris. The Osiris/Horus myth, in much simplified terms, goes as follows: Set, the evil brother of the good Osiris, murders that god and cuts his body into 14 pieces. Isis, the wife of Osiris collects and reassembles the pieces, having to substitute a wooden phallus for that part of the dead god’s anatomy. She copulates with the dead god in the form of a bird, conceives Horus and gives birth to him in secret, raising him on an island in the Nile amidst the reeds. She also raises Osiris from the dead, although this very physical resurrection is in the underworld. When Horus comes of age he does battle with his uncle Set. Set tears out the eye of Horus, while Horus rips off Set’s genitals. Eventually, peace is made between the two, both are healed, and they divide the rule of the year by seasons of life and death.

The physical resurrection of Osiris, even though it is in the underworld, is a significant precursor to Jesus as a dying and rising god, as is the physical resurrection of Dionysus, after he is killed, dismembered and partially eaten by the Titans. Surprisingly, Joseph fails to mention this bit of classical mythology. Horus being born and nursed in the rushes of an island in the Nile is an important parallel to the infant Moses being found among the rushes. However, beyond the resurrection of Osiris, the main parallels between the Egyptian myth and the New Testament are iconic. Isis with the dead body of Osiris prefigures the imagery of the Pieta. More importantly, Christians co-opted the imagery of Isis and the infant Horus in the form of the Madonna and child. I have absolutely no idea where Joseph got the notion that Horus had 12 disciples or that he was ever crucified.

As to the god who is born on December 25 — this was not Krishna, but Mithra in his solar aspect as Sol Invictus (Latin for “Unconquered Sun”). The reason Mithra/Sol Invictus was born on December 25 was that in the Roman calendar of that day, that was the Winter Solstice, the 24-hour period having the fewest number of daylight hours. From that date the days get longer and the nights get shorter until the Summer Solstice. Owing to imperfections in the Roman or Julian calendar, the solstice gradually shifted to December 21, until corrections were made resulting in our present Gregorian calendar. Christianity seems to have deliberately co-opted the birthday of Mithra as a way of occupying a rival’s holiday, rather than this being the result of Jesus being a solar savior.

Joseph’s confusion continues when he tries to tie Isis into the Annunciation narrative of Luke. He says that an Annunciation scene from Luxor shows Isis being told by angelic beings she will bear Horus. Actually, the panels from Luxor depict the mother of Hatshepsut being told she will bear the divine child. Next, the god Amon-Ra consorts with Hatshepsut’s mother. Then the divine child (Hatshepsut) is adored by gods and mortals. This is probably the source of Luke’s Nativity. Mary is told by the angel Gabriel she will bear the divine child. The Holy Spirit overshadows her. Then angels and mortals (shepherds) adore Jesus. However, it has nothing to do with Isis. It was part of the standard Egyptian royal myth that each Pharaoh was engendered by Amon Ra, taking his father’s mortal form to have sexual relations with the Pharaoh’s mother. The reason Hatshepsut (ruled 1498–1483 BCE) had to emphasize her divine origins is that, as a female, she was assumed to have ordinary mortal origins. So there probably is an Egyptian origin to the Lucan Nativity, but it has nothing to do with Isis, Osiris or Horus.

Three Kings & Other Astrological Nonsense

Zeitgeist continues to find not only solar but astrological sources for the Christ myth. The star followed by the wise men is Sirius, in the constellation Canis Major, which lines up with three bright stars on Orion’s belt. These stars are often called the “three kings,” hence the three kings following the star in the Nativity story. Mary is a virgin because she represents the constellation Virgo, which is also referred to as the “House of Bread,” or, in Hebrew beth-lehem, or the town of Bethlehem, The death of Jesus by crucifixion represents the sun being in the Southern Cross, a constellation that in antiquity was visible from the Mediterranean. Thus, the sun was, at its lowest point in the sky (when it “died”) “crucified,” in that it was ensnared in the Southern Cross. Jesus rose from the dead at Easter because it was then, at the Vernal Equinox, that the sun conquered darkness. Jesus had 12 disciples because they represent the 12 signs of the Zodiac. His crown of thorns at the Crucifixion represents the rays of the sun emanating from his head.

This story, like most of Part I of Zeitgeist, is a pastiche of factoid, fiction and ingenious invention. It also betrays a certain naïveté on the part of Peter Joseph in regard to his knowledge of the Bible. This is obvious when he sees in the “Three Kings” of Orion’s belt pointing at Sirius, the source of the magi following the star in the Nativity story of Matthew. At this point, let me ask readers a question: Without looking at a Bible, tell me how many wise men or kings followed the star to Bethlehem. Most likely you answered “Three.” After all, we’ve all heard and sung the popular Christmas carol “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” So weren’t there three kings? Let’s look at the Bible, specifically at Matthew 2:1,2:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.”

Two things are readily apparent from this passage. First, those who saw the star are wise men, not kings. In the original Greek of the New Testament, what is translated as “wise men” is magi, that is, Zoroastrian holy men. The Greek word magos is the source of our words mage, magic and magician. Second, Matthew nowhere says how many magi came to Jerusalem. So where did we ever get the idea there were three of them? Also, if they were actually following a star, it would have led them directly to Bethlehem. The star doesn’t actually lead the magi until they have been told by Herod’s scribes to go to Bethlehem. Only then does the following happen (Mt. 2:9–11):

When they had heard the king they went on their way, and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

This is odd. One wonders why the star didn’t just lead the magi to Bethlehem right off. This has led many to speculate that the “star” wasn’t an actual star, but perhaps a conjunction of astrologically significant planets in one constellation or another. It would be tedious to go into them here. Suffice it to say that Joseph’s “three kings” in the belt of Orion bear no relation to the actual myth in Matthew’s account of the Nativity. The only reason conventions of art and caroling gave us three wise men (not kings) is that the magi give Jesus three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

It is in these three gifts, along with the eastern origin of the magi, that we see the key to the actual myth in Matthew’s Nativity, which is political. Throughout the Mathean Nativity account, the gospel’s author takes great pains to find fulfilled prophecies showing Jesus to be the messiah of the Davidic line of kings. He is born in Bethlehem because that was David’s home town, and Jesus must be born there to fulfill the prophecy in Micah 5:2, which the chief priests and scribes quote to Herod when the magi ask where the baby is that is born to be king of the Jews (Mt. 2:5, 6):

They [the priests and scribes] told him [Herod], “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet:

‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you will come a ruler
who will govern my people Israel’”

So Bethlehem’s mythic associations have to do with Davidic kingship, not astrology. The three gifts also reflect Davidic kingship, since the Queen of Sheba gave King Solomon rich and kingly gifts (1 Kings 10:10). These included a great quantity of gold and, by implication, since Sheba, or Saba was located in modern Yemen, at the southern end of the Red Sea, frankincense and myrrh. Sheba, or Saba, in Yemen is at the southern end, the point of origin of an ancient caravan route that stretched from Yemen to Damascus called the “Incense Route,” since what was traded from the southern end of the Red Sea were two forms of incense, frankincense and myrrh. Thus, the infant Jesus received from the magi the same gifts given to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba.

Other astrological fantasies in Zeitgeist regarding the Christ myth are that Mary is a virgin because she personifies the constellation Virgo, that the Crucifixion represents the sun in the constellation of the Southern Cross, that Easter is related to the sun’s triumph over darkness at or shortly following the Vernal Equinox, that Jesus’ 12 disciples represent the signs of the Zodiac, and that his crown of thorns represents solar rays emanating from his head. The astrological associations of all of these elements are tenuous at best. Certainly, the virgin birth and the elevation of the Virgin Mary in the Gospel of Luke reflects pagan influences on the Christ myth, which can be seen in the Lucan Nativity and which sharply contrast to the messianic/Davidic kingship motifs of Matthew. As previously noted. Luke’s Nativity seems to be based on Egyptian panels from Luxor dating to the 18th dynasty and the reign of Queen Hatshepsut. So Mary could relate to the constellation Virgo, but also took on the iconography of Isis

As to the sighting of Easter near the time of the Vernal Equinox, we must remember that the Passion is staged during Passover. There is a complex layering here that is lost if we simply relegate Easter to a celebration of the Vernal Equinox.

The Christ myth relates not only to previous dying and rising gods, like Osiris and Dionysus, but as well to Jewish messianic, apocalyptic and historical myths. Thus, situating Easter in the Passover season probably relates more to messianic myth than to the sun. Passover itself was probably originally a festival of first fruits, that is, a seasonal, agricultural festival relating to rebirth. However, Jewish seasonal festivals relating to a cyclic view of time were recast in messianic, apocalyptic terms as historical and related to a linear concept of time. In the case of Jewish belief, I believe it’s safe to say that the linear, historical view effectively eclipsed the original seasonal festival. Since the Christian Passion and Resurrection narratives reintroduce a dying and rising god meme into the holiday, the layering of Easter becomes far more complex. Easter blends apocalyptic messianism, emphasizing Christ’s death and resurrection as the critical turning point in God’s war with Satan, and portraying Jesus as the culmination of Israel’s hopes and dreams, with the dying and rising god motif, and the promise to Christians that they, too, would transcend death. It must also be remembered that the cult of Isis and Osiris, which spread through the Roman Empire about a century before the time of Jesus, was not entirely the same as the millennia old Egyptian fertility cult it had originally been. Rather, it was, in all probability, Hellenized and showed some of the refinements of Greek philosophy. This was, likewise, probably the case with the much younger cult of Dionysus, another dying and rising god.

Jesus having 12 disciples also relates more to Jewish messianism than to astrology. The 12 disciples relate to the 12 tribes of Israel, which, though they no longer existed as political entities, were important genealogically to the extent that Paul could confidently claim to be of the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1). Actually, there were 13 tribes, 12 plus the priestly tribe of Levites. Each tribe originally supported the Levitical priesthood and maintained the central shrine for one month a year. The division of the tribes worshipping Yahweh into 12 divisions may well reflect influences of what was originally a lunar cult, but such influences had been subsumed by the apocalyptic, messianic monotheism of post-exilic Judaism well before the time of Christ. Had the 12 disciples represented the signs of the Zodiac, as Joseph asserts, then we would expect to find the disciples individually given specific zodiacal characteristics in the canonical gospels. Instead, most of the disciples are little more than names and lack any character whatsoever.

Jesus’ crown of thorns, along with most of the specific details of the Passion — his being clothed in a purple robe and given a reed as a scepter, the mocking and scourging by the Roman troops, even his being put to death — were probably elements of the Zagmuku Festival, which the Jews brought back with them from Babylon after their captivity there (587–538 BCE). Elements of this festival are to be found in the entirely fictional Book of Esther and the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim. This, by the way, is not to say that Jesus’ crucifixion was not a real, historical event, merely that its details were heavily fictionalized in the process of dramatization and storytelling.

It is the historiscity of Jesus that will tell us whether the Crucifixion was real or merely symbolic of the sun descending into the constellation of the Southern Cross. I will deal with that subject later.

The End of the Age

Zeitgeist continues its assertion of the astrological basis of Christianity and even of the Jewish Scriptures with the assertion that both Moses and Jesus based their words and actions on a belief in astrological ages of roughly 2,000 plus years dominated by a specific sign of the Zodiac. According to this scheme the Age of Taurus (the Bull) was ending or had ended when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and was being superceded by the Age of Aries (the Ram). This age was, in turn, superceded by the Age of Pisces, in which we live, but which is now winding down. It will soon be followed by the Age of Aquarius, hence the song by the same name from the musical Hair. Moses, Peter Joseph says, condemned worshipping the golden bull calf because it was a throwback to an earlier age. The blowing of the shofar, specifically a ram’s horn, and other symbols indicate that Judaism came, initially, out of the Age of Aries. Since Christianity came into being at the beginning of the Age of Pisces, fish symbolism is particularly common in the New Testament. Thus Jesus tells the fishermen he recruits (Mark 1:17), “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Thus he feeds the multitude with loaves and fishes, and thus the fish is a Christian symbol. There are also, according to Joseph, references in the Christian Scriptures to the coming Aquarian Age. Jesus tells his disciples to follow a man bearing a jar of water (i.e. Aquarius, the water bearer) in Luke 22:10:

He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house which he enters, and tell the householder, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?’”

Finally, Jesus tells his disciples (Mt. 28:20) referring to the Age of Pisces and its transition into the Age of Aquarius, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So, was the fish imagery in the New Testament a reference to the Age of Pisces? When Jesus spoke of the “end of the age,” was he referring to the transition from the Piscean to Aquarian age some 2,000 plus years into the future? The answer to all these questions is, “No.”

Consider the antagonism against bull imagery implicit in Moses condemning the people’s worship of the golden calf. This Yahwistic prejudice seems to have evaporated by that time of the building of Solomon’s Temple, as can be seen in this description of the “molten sea,” a huge vessel containing water that was one of the principle furnishings of the Temple (1 Kings 7:25): “It stood upon twelve oxen, three facing nth, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east; the sea was set upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.” Oxen also decorate the panels of ten stands made of bronze, along with lions and cherubim (1 Kings. 7:28). Yet, for all the rich imagery of the interior of Solomon’s Temple, it is utterly devoid of any image of rams. Thus, we must assume that the story of the golden calf in Exodus refers, as it would seem, to idolatry.

Fish certainly are common images in the New Testament. Yet so are olive trees, fig trees, sheaves of grain, and, particularly, sheep and lambs. In fact, lambs and lost sheep probably figure more prominently in the New Testament than do fish. Does this mean that Jesus actually wanted to turn the clock back to the previous Age of Aries? Joseph would probably counter such an objection by pointing to the Christian fish symbol. Doesn’t this point to Christianity as the faith of the Piscean Age? The Christian fish symbol has been interpreted as referring back to the “fishers of men” phrase from Mark 1:17 and has also been seen as a vaginal symbol lying on its side. However, it appears most likely that the Greek word for fish, ichthys, was an acronym for (in Greek) Iasos Christos Theos Yios Soter, or “Jesus Christ, son of God, savior.”

The assertion in Zeitgeist that when Jesus tells his disciples in Mt. 28:20 he will be with them until the end of the age, he is referring to a time roughly 2,000 years into the future is absurd considering the apocalyptic outlook of early Christianity. Consider what Jesus has to say in Mark 8: 38–9:1:

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly I ay to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”

Despite the efforts of Christian apologists to rationalize this as something other than a prediction of the end of the world in Jesus’ own generation, there is little else to which it could refer. The parallel verses in Matthew even throw in the Last Judgment (Mt. 16: 27, 28):

For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not tastes death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Though there are no parallel verses to this in the Gospel of John, it also proclaims the imminent end of the world (John. 5: 28, 29):

Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his [Jesus’] voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

Paul also proclaimed the end of the world in his generation in this passage from 1 Thessalonians (1 Thess. 4: 15-17):

For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we, who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep [i.e. died]. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

These are but a few of the apocalyptic references salted throughout the New Testament. However, lest anyone doubt that early Christians believed the world would end in their generation, consider what John of Patmos says at the opening of Revelation, that vivid and detailed description of the end of days (Rev. 1:1, 2, emphasis added):

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

“What must soon take place’” cannot refer to the end of the Piscean Age some 2,000 years into the future any more than it can refer to a series of events triggered by Russia invading Israel in 1988.

History vs. Myth

Again mixing facts with sloppy assumptions, Part I of Zeitgeist concludes with an assault on the historicity of Jesus, claming that, outside the New Testament, there is no indication that Jesus ever existed. Joseph correctly points out that the biblical flood myth has its origins in material antedating the earliest sources of the Hebrew Scriptures. He specifically cites the Epic of Gilgamesh. However, he could just as well have cited the Sumerian flood hero Zuisudra, whose account greatly antedates the flood account in Gilgamesh.

Was there a real Jesus? While the historical evidence is meager, it does exist. In his Antiquities of the Jews, book 20, chapter 9, item 1, referring to the execution of James, Josephus refers to him as the brother of “Jesus, who was called the Christ.” It is quite plain that Josephus didn’t see Jesus as the Christ (Christos, the Greek word meaning “anointed”), he merely recorded that James’ brother was the Jesus who had been called or was alleged to be the Christ.

Beyond this scrap, valuable though it is, we can imply the existence of a historical Jesus from the criteria of embarrassment and difficulty. The criterion of embarrassment says that people do not make up embarrassing details about someone they wish to revere. So, if they say such things about the person, they are probably true. Now let’s apply this to what the Roman historian Tacitus had to say about Jesus early in the second century. Concerning rumors that had spread that Nero had deliberately set fire to the city of Rome, Tacitus says (The Annals of Imperial Rome, Book 1, Chapter 15):

To suppress this rumor, Nero fabricated scapegoats — and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of this temporary setback the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome. All degraded and shameful practices collect and flourish in the capitol.

That Tacitus is obviously a hostile witness makes it much more likely that he accepted Jesus as a real person. Had he reason to suspect he was nothing more than a fabrication, Tacitus would certainly have said so. That author’s claim that Jesus had been executed by Pontius Pilate could only have come from one of two possible sources: Either Tacitus knew this to be true from extant imperial records or he was repeating what Christians themselves had said of Jesus. Were Jesus a mythical character they had invented, they certainly wouldn’t have gone out of their way to invent his being a criminal who had been executed.

In like manner, people do not go out of their way to invent difficulties for a character they have invented. It is clear from the Nativity narratives of the gospels of Matthew and Luke that they were faced with having to explain why Jesus grew up in Galilee if he was born in Bethlehem. Both gospels had to invent rather convoluted means to get Jesus born in Bethlehem in accordance with the messianic prophecy in Micah 5:2, then get him moved to Nazareth. Clearly they were stuck with a real person known to have come from Galilee, when he should have come from Bethlehem. Had they been making Jesus up out of whole cloth, they would simply have said he came from Bethlehem: end of story, no complications. So the evidence for Jesus as a real, historical personage, though meager, is solid.

A Roman Plot?

Considering that Part II of Zeitgeist asserts that the destruction of the World Trade Center was a conspiracy on the part of the powers that be, and that Part III is an attack on the Federal Reserve Board and income tax as unconstitutional plots devised by hidden powers bent on reducing all of us to poverty, one might wonder why Peter Joseph even bothered to open his film with an attack on Jesus and Christianity. Summing up at the end of Part I, Joseph asserts that Christianity was, in fact, developed by the Romans as a means of social control. He cites the Council of Nicaea in 325 as the beginning of this social control. So this is the connection between Part I and the rest of the film: Everything you’ve ever believed to be true is all a pack of lies foisted on you by the secret manipulators who really run things. They faked the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon to manipulate us into a war. They are undermining our financial and other freedoms through manipulation of our money and — guess what?! — they’ve been at it since the creation of Christianity, back in the time of the Roman Empire!

Zeitgeist is The Da Vinci Code on steroids.

Discussion

For additional discussion of Zeitgeist’s religious claims see: www.runboard.com/biblicalprophesyandmythology.f22.t91

93 Comments »

93 Comments

  1. carefullytread says:

    Zeitgeist is full of bad information, but you make some false assertions about the historicity of Jesus.
    Josephus is not an accepted account of Jesus as an historical figure. We have no translations of Antiquities that predate Christian translations. Of Josephus 2 passages, the first has not been seriously considered as genuine for 3 centuries. The second is by no means held as genuine, and even those who accept it can only point to a another writer’s (Origen) assertion that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Christ and deducing therefore that Josephus must have known of Jesus…so the passage is valid. Assumption is not evidence.
    Citing the struggle to place Jesus in Galilee as evidence that he must have actually existed is quite a stretch, and again, built around a seed of falsehood. Nazareth did not exist in Galilee, or anywhere else, until after Jesus. The first historical appearance of “Nazareth” as a place name is the gospels (70 AD at the earliest). We do have quite thorough documentation of the region’s villages and towns for this period, and earlier. Indeed, the ruins discovered in Galilee during Constantine’s reign were named Nazareth to accommodate the biblical stories. The “true cross” was discovered at the same time, as was “Jesus tomb”. “Nazrene” refers to a specific group of Essenes, not a place. It is this particular error in the Gospels that demonstrates that the authors knew little of Judean geography, and probably never set foot in Judea.

  2. Stone says:

    I think it time to talk turkey once and for all on the inherent flaws in the position taken by some that Jesus never existed, not even as a simple non-miraculous human being. In fact, positing that he was indeed a simple non-miraculous human being is not at all ludicrous.

    So it’s time for a reality check here. I found two sets of remarks on the Net written by an atheist concerning the James passage in Josephus’s Antiquities, XX. The writer’s name is Tim O’Neill. O’Neill writes:

    1. Zealots with an axe to grind can find a way to “deconstruct” the data for even the most reasonable ideas if they try hard enough. Their deconstructions are contrived and forced and usually only convincing to fellow zealots, but they can do it with ease. See Holocaust Deniers and Creationists for examples of this.

    This is precisely what we find with the Jesus Mythers. Yes, the James mentioned by Josephus could be some other James who, like the one mentioned in the Christian tradition, just happened to also have a brother called Jesus who was also called “Annointed” and he could also have been executed by the Jewish priesthood just like the James who Paul claims he met. This remarkable sequence of coincidences are all possible. But the application of Occam’s Razor to this idea shows anyone other than a blinkered Myther zealot that this idea strains credulity. It makes far more sense that what we have here is a confluence of evidence indicating that Jesus did exist and did have a brother called James.

    This is why you can count the number of professional scholars who think Jesus didn’t exist on the fingers of one hand and the Myther position is dominated by amateur polemicists like Doherty and Carrier and New Age loons like Dorothy “Acharya S” Murdock. (http://forbiddengospels.blogspot.com/2009/02/my-decision-about-jesus-project.html)

    And in the other passage, O’Neill starts off by citing a previous poster and then proceeds to make his additional point:

    2. “Historian Richard Carrier talks about the James/Josephus passage and about how it probably was never intended to refer to the Christian James. After all, this James was killed over a violation of some minor Jewish law, which the Sanhedrin was none too pleased with. This would be very odd if this James was a leader of heretical Jewish cult.”

    Carrier is a guy who needs to make up his mind whether he wants to be a historian or an activist. At the moment he has too many blunt anti-Christian axes to grind for me to take him seriously as an objective researcher. Historians with an agenda are usually poor historians. And I say that as someone who is an atheist myself.

    There is nothing unlikely about the story Josephus tells about James. He doesn’t say that “the Sanhedrin” objected to his execution, he says that an objection was made by “those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens”. We’re given no clear indication as to who these concerned citizens were, though it’s clear that (i) they were important enough to be able to write to the Roman prefect, (ii) they were important enough for him to pay attention to them and (iii) they were no friends of the High Priest and seemed to want to bring him down.

    What they object to is not the death of heretic, but the usurpation of power by Ananus. And their objective seems to have been Ananus’ removal. Who or what James was is likely to have been pretty incidental in this political play. (http://aigbusted.blogspot.com/2009/03/did-jesus-exist-response-to-blair-scott.html)

    These two sets of remarks express to a T my problem with the entire mythicist racket. Because it is a racket, and that’s all it is. I was not brought up as a Christian; I was brought up by two agnostic/atheist academics who never attended any religious institution, for whom reading continually was as natural as breathing. Reading became as natural as breathing for myself and my brother as well. So the knee-jerk argument that anyone crediting the plausibility of historic references to Jesus must be brainwashed by religion is baloney. Not only is it baloney as applied to me; it’s baloney as applied to 99.9% of the extremely skeptical colleagues and friends of my parents whom I got to know — and know well — when growing up.

    The reason why so many rigorous NON-DENOMINATIONAL scholars and academics with degrees and professional training in this field — professional scholars like April DeConick — continue to be so leery of these fanciful mythicist notions is because they so often do require a flagrant disregard of the principle of Occam’s Razor. Not only are we supposed to assume a series of coincidences in order to shrug off Chapter XX of the Josephus Antiquities; that is compounded by a similarly twisted skein of reasoning that we must evidently apply to Galatians — at the same time! Both texts(!!!!!!!!!) just happen to have been coincidentally distorted vis-a-vis the way they’re read today. How convenient is that?

    The dishonest methods of many of the mythicists suggest in addition a proselytizing mindset rather than a research one. This really isn’t just a matter of whether or not some ancient eccentric did or didn’t exist. It’s a very basic misinformation campaign on how to read history. My atheist father happened to be a pretty d**n rigorous history professor, and I don’t mind saying that this whole discussion is turning pretty personal for me, as a result.

    • Tom says:

      I’ve read a larger passage of the text from Josephus. If the English translation was correct, then the passage used to claim the historical existence of “Jesus Christ” was clearly an insertion into the text, as has been reported by many skeptics. The writing style was very different. Also, the longer passage claimed that “miracles” were observed, which makes one wonder why the author didn’t become a Christian if such things were observed.

      Also, keep in mind that a contemporary observer, who was not a follower, would not have referred to such a person as “Jesus Christ” which couldn’t possibly have been his real name. “Jesus Christ” is not and was not a Jewish name.

      There is no solid historical basis for claiming that there was a physical person that the Christian mythology is written about. There simply is not enough valid information to base any certain conclusions on the historical nature of “Jesus Christ” either way.

  3. Stone says:

    My regrets that no one has responded to the concerns I voiced previously. Truly, I’m not trying to “take over” this page. But further far more serious reflections have occurred to me since, and I’m honestly offering these even more extended thoughts as a way of stimulating further thoughts from others, not just to “hear myself talk”.

    To be blunt about this, one chief concern I have about this Jesus mythicist program is the way their dishonest methods might really take off, if they’re not checked right now, and bleed over into successful denialist agendas aimed at other crucial hinges in history like the Armenian genocide, the Trail of Tears, the Nazi holocaust, the McCarthy era, the Flight 93 heroes, Stalin’s gulags, the Guantanamo gulag, the Allende assassination, ante-bellum slavery, the Salem witch trials, the Rwanda genocide, Srebenica, the Spanish Inquisition, and on and on. It’s no joke. Whether or not you accept the Christian creed, the way the Roman Empire treated not only Jesus but many of his colleagues and his posthumous followers for over a century is simply shameful. And it’s creepy to me the way people even now are still trying to “forget” the Armenian genocide. While I’m happy that Obama was forthright enough in his latest trip abroad in decrying anyone who denies the Nazi holocaust, his not holding Turkey’s feet to the fire on the Armenians is uncomfortably convenient, IMO.

    Reading the downright lying assertions by various mythicists — [paraphrases]“Paul never refers to Jesus as a human being who lived and died”(!), “there are many suspicions voiced on Antiquities 20 by accredited scholars in academe”(!), “all Jesus’s sayings uniformly have precedents in prior philosophies and creeds”(!) — I can easily imagine the same Big-Lie tactics used against the evidence for the Trail of Tears, the McCarthy era, the Guantanamo gulag and so on……….”Oh, historians exaggerate, show me where there are actual contemporary reports or accounts of even one entire Japanese-American family being summarily swept up without due process; why everyone knows the [so-and-so] account was just faked and there’s no reference to that text until many years after the war was all over” or “Anne Frank was a fictional character, obviously, and it shouldn’t surprise us that she’s passed off as having died in a camp so no one can question her” or “the Spanish Inquisition was hardly as cruel as anti-Catholics like to make out; it’s just a conspiracy to put everything that’s Roman Catholic in a bad light”.

    Wake up, people! This mythicist agenda is designing deadly tools of prevarication and elaborate lies through sheer repetition that can be sharpened and used in 101 different ways to cover over any number of atrocities throughout history that ought never be forgotten but will be. Somebody better start collecting contemporary eyewitness accounts of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib now and put them all into the most carefully researched and sourced book now before the denialists get their hands on that one.

    Don’t let any Big Lie go unchallenged. Ever. It was the Big Lie that FDR’s banking laws were really unneeded and ineffective that precipitated the laissez-faire time bomb in the 1980s leading to the big crash of ’08-’09. History DOES repeat itself if not safeguarded vigilantly. Don’t let these tools of the Big Lie in the mythicist arsenal become the sharpened weapons to justify every whitewash of every other atrocity in human history. In the age of the Internet, where every unscrupulous trickster can communicate with everyone and get away with anything, the time to challenge these Big-Lie methods sharply is right now.

    I’m surprising myself, frankly, by how increasingly alarmed I’m starting to feel about the mythicist agenda. I used to simply view the theory as unlikely though still possible. Where I’m surprising myself even more today is the degree to which the more I read mythicists’ (sometimes detailed) arguments, the more unexpected (to me) is my response. I, perhaps, half thought that further reading might intrigue me more with the possibility that even Jesus the purely non-miraculous human being, let alone the Son-of-God-Cosmic-Savior-Miracle-Worker-Resurrectionist, was also a pure fiction. Almost always, in-depth reading of a distinct point of view, particularly from a neutral perspective, can only gain one a better understanding of the given distinct point of view. Well, it certainly did for me in this case………but not in the direction of a greater sympathy! — even though it definitely gave me a better understanding of their arguments; that’s for sure. At the same time, having started out neutral, a better understanding of their arguments only generated in me an entirely unexpected feeling of being thoroughly creeped out!

    The problem is not the lack of evidence for an historical Jesus. It’s the lack of 21st-century-type proof for an historical Jesus. This distinction is rarely addressed. Now, 21st-century-type proof simply is not out there, and compounding the problem is the fact that many mythicists are reading even the most straightforward documents anachronistically.

    Antiquities 20 is a typical example of this. One reason why mythicists look askance at the Ananus paragraph is because (partly) they don’t see that a somewhat discursive style of writing comes with the territory of these Roman chronicles.

    On the one hand, it’s true many imply that one simply cannot imagine Josephus using the term “Christ” under any circumstances. But on the other, the only other reason given by (most) mythicists whom I’ve read why we should look askance at this reference is the odd word order. FWIW, the word order here — “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ [tou legomenou Christou], whose name was James” — though odd, is not uncharacteristic for Josephus:

    Wars 2.21.1
    a man of Gischala, the son of Levi, whose name was Johnâ;

    Ant. 5.8.1
    but he had also one that was spurious, by his concubine Drumah, whose
    name was Abimelech;

    Ant. 11.5.1
    Now about this time a son of Jeshua, whose name was Joacim, was the
    high priest.

    This is a good example of why one should be steeped in some aspects of the writing styles of the time before plunging in with both feet.

    There is also my own impatience operating here as well. I freely admit that. I find that the general evasiveness that marks (many of) the mythicists whom I’ve read simply drives me up the wall.

    To illustrate once and for all some of the chief aspects in mythicists’ methods that trouble me so, I’m going to provide here another posting that I submitted, goodness knows when(!), to another board. I was just starting my journey to real impatience with some of the mythicists at the time, but I wasn’t yet where I am now. The discussion centered around an on-line extract of some of G.A.Wells, in response to a Holding piece against Wells’s argument. I frankly find many of Holding’s arguments dubious as well, so I found some of what Wells says rather cogent. What the appraisal of Wells’s piece did for me, though, was help clarify, in my own mind, just why I’m troubled so by so much of the type of reasoning I see among the mythicists. I realize that Wells isn’t really a true mythicist, but it strikes me that he buys into some of their methods.

    The article in question is at:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/g_a_wells/holding.html

    Here’s what I wrote at the time –

    [POST] People who’ve cited Wells as another all-out mythicist — and I include myself, unfortunately — are simply wrong. If mythicists think to cite Wells as a way of showing that there is yet one more researcher out there who shares their views on historicity, they are sadly mistaken. This article makes it quite clear that Wells has concluded that there was definitely a real Galilean preacher who was called Jesus, who said the things credited to him in Q, and who lived in the first half of the 1st century c.e. At the same time, where most secular historians assume that this Jesus’s purported Birth and Resurrection constitute ad hoc tales not associated with the real history of the Galilean preacher, Wells simply extends that to the actual execution as well, the crucifixion as an ad hoc tale as well.

    Wells makes this argument in the first half of the article and points, among other things, to the absence of anything to do with the Christ figure in Q. (OTOH, the name Jesus does appear 12 times [I made a count] in the Q passages, at least two of those being in a passage like Luke 9:57-60, where there is no mention of anything supernatural or miraculous. And this does not contradict Wells’s contention, since he accepts the historicity of Jesus the Galilean preacher anyway.) He also points to the presence of the “Christ” term in numerous New Testament letters, not just Paul’s, reminding the reader that many of these — again, not just Paul’s — are presumed to be earlier than the Gospels.

    I have to say that up to a point (outlined below) Wells’s case seems fairly persuasive that the Christ is one figure — a supernatural entity envisioned purely by Paul — and Jesus quite another — a real Galilean preacher who lived during the first half of the 1st century c.e. In fact, the texts he describes in the article’s first half, texts reflecting one figure or the other, appear consistent with his theory. He uses logic up to that point and seems ready to retain that logic for the article’s second half. Throughout, his main focus is on Holding’s argument against all his theories, and he seeks to show, by constantly referencing Holding, that his reasoning is far sounder than Holding’s. Up to a point, it is. And one is prepared to expect him to maintain the disciplined logic that typifies his argument in the first half.

    But he doesn’t. And when he drops that logic, he loses credibility and this reader’s trust and his case collapses like a house of cards, IMO.

    The final section starts responsibly enough. Towards the end of the second half, after going through the most important secular non-Scriptural references to Jesus, and after showing their relative lateness and their essential “second-tier status”, so to speak (possibly using hearsay from Christians), he finally addresses the two passages in Josephus’s Antiquities from the 90s in the 1st century c.e. He spends quite some time on Antiquities 18, the T.F. passage, which has seemed, to scholars of various persuasions, somewhat corrupted, via Josephus’s use of Christian terms and assertions. To those like myself who are fairly familiar with (and suspicious of) the odd Christian-like assertions here, and also familiar with the second-earliest text of this passage, which appears in an Arabic quote by someone else from the 10th century where none of the Christian glossing seems present (Eusebius’s 4th-century citation is the earliest), Wells adds nothing new. But Wells is useful in that he assembles all the arguments against the authenticity of the fuller version extant in all the actual Antiquities mss., a manuscript tradition that only starts in the 11th century.

    So far, so good. But after using up eleven paragraphs on Antiquities 18, he only spends one paragraph on Antiquities 20, the Josephan reference to James as the brother of Jesus, called Christ! In that one paragraph, he writes:

    “The shorter passage in the Antiquities that mentions Jesus consists of a reference to James “the brother of Jesus, him called Christ”. Holding recognizes that some scholars regard the phrase as interpolated, for reasons which I have given in JL, pp. 52-55. Certainly, the use of the term ‘Christ’ (Messiah) without explanation in both passages is not to be expected of Josephus who takes considerable care not to call anyone Christ or Messiah, as the term had overtones of revolution and independence, of which, as a lackey of the Roman royal house, he strongly disapproved. Also, it is not true that the phrase ‘him called so-and-so’ is either invariably dismissive in Josephus’ usage (so that it would mean ‘so-called’, ‘alleged’ and so could not here be from a Christian hand), nor that ‘him called Christ’ is an unchristian usage an interpolator would have avoided. (On the contrary, the phrase occurs, as a designation of Jesus, both in the NT and in Justin Martyr’s Apology, 1, 30.)”

    That’s all. No acknowledgement that this account of James cannot come from Scripture, since it’s different in substantive detail from anything about James we see in the canon. How likely then that this account ever came from believers? No discussion either of the target of the general outrage that Josephus describes in his paragraph 20, an outrage aimed at one Ananus for exceeding his authority. The focus of this paragraph is Ananus, not James, who remains incidental to Josephus’s story here.

    No discussion either of the most salient aspect in the written documentation for this sentence: the fact that written references to this sentence, complete with “Jesus, him called Christ”, are extant almost immediately upon Josephus’s writing it, whereas with Antiquities 18 — reflecting a pattern that Wells does not hesitate to underscore — we have no reference until Eusebius’s first as late as the 4th century, after which many centuries pass before we even get a second. Wells spends time on that curious pattern for Antiq. 18, but totally covers up the contrasting pattern for Antiq. 20. Here is where he loses credibility in my eyes. His integrity as a historian, all the careful reasoning that he displays in the first half — all this seems abandoned in this perfunctory, dishonest and evasive paragraph on Antiq. 20.

    Finally, we have a truly evasive tactic in Wells’s airy reference to “some scholars” feeling that this too is interpolated — without explaining why “some” feel it’s interpolated, as if the mere suspicion were good enough to put it under a cloud! Well, he does explain in detail why Antiq. 18 could have interpolations or could be interpolated wholesale; so why not provide the same detail for Antiq. 20? His merely saying that Josephus was unlikely to have ever used the term “Christ” does not deal in any disciplined way with this particular use of the term “Christ” in this particular passage! More evasion.

    In any case, there are a fair number of Jesus figures throughout Josephus. Specifying which Jesus Josephus is writing of by merely citing the term that distinguishes him in the public’s mind is not endorsing that term! What’s he supposed to have done? Leave the reader hanging without specifying which Jesus at all? Furthermore, the use of the turn of phrase, “some scholars”, intimates a fair number of real scholars, when there are only the tiniest handful of dabblers out there, many of them amateurs. That may not be mendacious of Wells, but it is misleading. [/POST]

    – That’s what I wrote.

    Someone at that other board responded to what I’d written on Wells by asking which “canon” I was referring to, suggesting that the believers’ “canon” of the ’90s in the 1st century c.e. might have included a thing or two on James that Josephus was merely parroting. A fair question, but it still falls afoul of Occam’s Razor in a way similar to the manner in which a number of other mythicist arguments do, and I pointed that out in my response –

    [POST] Too convenient. You’re violating Occam’s Razor to suppose that there was a lost Scriptural text that just happened to address an alternate fate for James. What we have is a continuous non-variant flow of text that is attested to with no variants in Josephus’s own time, in a number of contemporary citations, describing an uprising against Ananus in which this James figures tangentially. Furthermore, the kinds of writings that appear to have slipped between the cracks in the canonical process are texts like Thomas, etc., in which doctrinal aspects are directly involved, suggesting that texts that were “lost” were texts that really violated the steadily hardening doctrines of the 3rd and 4th centuries. Nothing doctrinal is involved in the person James. And even those texts that are both in Scripture and outside it but presented as faith works (like letters from Clement or Gospels like Thomas) simply don’t bother with James or Jesus’s siblings in general. I understand what you’re saying, but it remains a very forced argument. [/POST]

    – That was my response.

    Finally, someone else thought that I was somehow applying Occam’s Razor to this reading of Josephus 20 as a way of showing “proof” that the familiar reading of the passage is right and the mythicist reading is wrong. He took exception to this, since, as he stressed, Occam’s Razor is strictly a rule of thumb for ascertaining the preferable, not the proved. Somehow, he had thought I intended to apply Occam’s Razor in order to establish “proof” rather than relative likelihood. But I had plainly intended the latter only. Once again, you see, here was someone (effectively) conflating evidence and proof as one and the same. I wrote back:

    [POST] Very well, then: To establish an arbitrary premise that there is this hypothetical lost “faith text” that describes a different fate for James than we have in known Scripture is tantamount to making this “explanation less preferable to those other theories that contain” fewer “premises”. And the degree to which this notion is less preferable to others is exacerbated by shaky speculation that (another hypothesis here!) this hypothetical lost “faith text” is the basis of a paragraph in Antiquities that (unlike the one in Antiq. 18) just happens to run seamlessly with everything before and after it! Such a convoluted theory is hardly preferable to the more straightforward reading of this passage as simply a unified account by Josephus of events that he knew of in the same way that he knew of most of the other events narrated in his chronicle: his personal spadework.

    I certainly didn’t intend — and if the implication seems otherwise, that’s unintentionally misleading on my part — to present the application of Occam’s Razor in this case as a way of proving anything absolute when it comes to “the correct” reading of this passage. I was speaking strictly to preferability only, not to proof. There is no “proved” way of reading anything in the ancient world.

    After all, there is no lack of evidence for an historical Jesus. There is a lack of proof, such as we might see in something like the most carefully researched Times article on some current-day headline, say, that vexes those who doubt there is a historical Jesus. This distinction between evidence and proof is rarely addressed. By necessity, historians of the ancient world can deal only in evidence, never in proof. Extending that further, in cases like the present one of this ancient chronicle by Josephus, proof on any one reading of a given passage is likewise not out there either. In fact, in all studies of all documents related to the ancient world, proof is never an option, only likelihood and and preferability. That’s the nature of this beast. Whether we are assessing one sentence in one contemporary chronicle of that distant period, or assessing an entire biography back then, the same thing applies: ancient documents yield only evidence pointing to relative likelihoods and preferabilities; they never yield proof.

    Consequently, when I apply something like Occam’s Razor, in this kind of ancient context, to show the ridiculousness of some far-fetched notion, I am always dealing strictly in relative likelihoods and preferabilities only, never in disproof and/or proof. The latter is not an option. You can take that as a given: evidence and preferabilities and likelihoods are the sum total of what any historian of the ancient world can tell you. If we allow only proof to determine history, then history would have to start strictly with the Renaissance and no earlier! [/POST]

    Any thoughts on all this, please? I’m truly interested in someone else’s perspective on this, not just mine. Many thanks.

    Sincerely,

    Stone

    • Michael says:

      Wow your argument is so bathed in rhetoric that you lost your audience after the first paragraph. If your real point is to prove to the world how pretentious you are, then job well done!

      Now please learn to elequently create your prose in a way that does not rely on a 20 page essay that can be said in 2 paragraphs. Perhaps then you will effectively get your point accross while maintaining your audience.

    • Matt says:

      Im gonna politely ask you to not talk about economics, otherwise what you said makes sense

    • Eve from the real world says:

      Wake Up Stone, you are still sleeping like the rest of the world.

    • Standancer says:

      Well Stone, if you could just write a bit more then perhaps we would get your message.

      And what might your credentials be to so gratuitously dismiss Dr Carrier? I’m not a historian, but the bible has always seemed like a collection of myths to me, and really what difference does it make if jesus was an historical figure or not? I mean really, how many dead people have you seen come back to life? Virgins giving birth? Demons expelled? The water to wine gambit would be fun at parties, but again any reliable evidence? Of course you don’t, so whether or not the physical person existed or not does nothing to dispel the idea that the story is a myth.

    • Tom says:

      Equating rational questioning of the alleged historical existence of the central figure in Christian mythology with denying genocide mocks the memories of the people murdered in those acts of genocide. You really should be ashamed of yourself.

  4. Paper says:

    Stone,

    You wrote way too much for anybody to care what you said.

    –Paper BEATS Stone–

  5. idontknow says:

    I appreciate this article, but I had hoped to see some analysis of the second part of zeitgeist, as that is an extremely popular movie propagating the 9/11 conspiracy narrative. I have several friends that believe everything they hear and would like to maybe provide them a handy article or website that is thorough like this analysis. Anybody know a good website/article/internet video that does this effectively?

    • Sky says:

      idontknow, the website http://www.conspiracyscience.com has an article where he examines all three parts of Zeitgeist, and he is working on the sequel too right now. Also most of the 9/11 conspiracy claims have been disproven by othe people as well. Try 911myths.com, debunking911.com, and the Popular Mechanics book Debunking 911 Myths.

      • skepticofsocalledskeptics says:

        Read David Ray Griffin’s book “Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory”. As one reviewer put it, “this book is a controlled demolition of the official story”.

      • Tom Frank says:

        “Try 911myths.com, debunking911.com, and the Popular Mechanics book Debunking 911 Myths.”

        DO NOT USE THOSE SITES!! I have done countless hours (more like days) of research on 9/11. If you have done any decent amount of research on the subject, you will laugh your ass off at how inaccurate they are. Any incriminating 9/11 evidence of government involvement etc they can’t prove wrong, because it is fact, they just don’t talk about so the reader never knows of them. All of those sites are purposefully made as propaganda for lazy people who want to take a short cut to actually having to spend time doing research. ACTUALLY DO RESEARCH! Research both sides, listen to everybody. Like I said, once you’ve listened to all sides and done research, you’ll see how many facts those websites just happened to “accidentally forget” to talk about. If those websites, and others like them, are telling you the truth, then ask yourself why most of those websites don’t all people to leave comments? It couldn’t be because of the massive amounts of errors and facts left out, could it?

  6. Waters says:

    Mr. Callahan, thanks for an interesting read.

    Mr Stone, well written. Please leave a link to your web site or some other place where you perhaps elaborate more, as I don’t think the comment space here is very suitable for a detailed debate.

  7. achybreakyleg says:

    Goodness gracious stone. You really got it all of your chest there. Do you feel better for it. Phew…take a deep breath.

    I watched Zeitgeist myself and was also familiar with ‘Archarya S’ too who has a similair argument and a background in ‘astrotheology’
    Yes ,many may see this new field as a lot of new age claptrap. But i must say, there is a lot of credence in at least some arguments mentioned.

    1/ Religions through time have melded from old to new not immediately like bang! Suddenly everyone became christian once constantine promoted the religion throughout his empire. Being a new monotheistic religion, of course the old polytheism now was integrated gradually into the new christianity gradually and using saints and mary to help the polytheism meld into the new christian religion gradually. One has only to look at the greco-egyptian mix that happened after alexander the great and hellenic period in egypt. Horus Isis etc. were brought into the hellinic religious realm without a hitch gradually

    We know for instance that saint patrick while converting the irish(sorry to jump forward in time) used the pagan sun worship of the irish non christians(pagan), by sutly changing the son of god in the holy trinity to the sun of god! Sneaky eh? The sacred water of the pagan sacred lakes, became the holy baptismal water etc. Patrick also used the pre existing pagan altars in the forest like a sacred tree stump, to become a christian altar by simply adding a cross.
    Also easter was the ancient irish pagan festival of beltane so it wasnt difficult for him to gradually change it to easter festival having used these other spurious methods to trick pagans into this new religion by not being too dramatic and not completely overhauling all their prevuious beliefs

    2/ History has for many years been wrote by the victors in wars. Now this is becoming more difficult in modern times but even during the 2nd world war, we hear the official version of what happened from the allied perspective.

    Now i hate to say this, but I’m very sceptical of josephus’ writings about jesus. There is a great risk i believe of forgery to to suit roman christian hegemony.I hope some time in the future that an archaelogy dig finds the earliest possible josephus writings to compare what we have now with what he wrote at the time. Unlikely I know.
    I know that Josephus was fully romanised and under roman patronage so i doubt he would do anything to rock the boat in his lifetime.
    Thats why I’m so skeptical about the mentions of christ. At that time, jews were hardly flavour of the month, never mind the emerging christians who were about to become the blame of many ills by some accounts. Definitely not popular in rome.
    History as we know it I believe is what has been decided by the most powerful, the winners of wars, and what most suits. There could well be an argument that pre christian romans were impressed with the faith of christians and their loyalty and devotion to christ. I dont see why not that constantine could for reasons of social control or perhaps a later roman catholic high in the religious hierarchy like the first popes could well have worked out that roman catholicism could effectively “rule” the empire for many years after the demise of the roman empire. They would have been very right indeed. They ran the show in the guise of a religion until a certain martin luther spoiled things for them. But lets face it, they still arent doing too bad??? Most of the latin americas and southern europe, not ot mention the carribean, phillipines a significant percentage of the world population too.(Not counting the millions of protestant offshoots which are afterall still christian)

  8. achybreakyleg says:

    What i meant to lead onto here. The so called astrological aspects talked about in zeitgeist. Well its at leat debatable. I dont see why it should be dismissed out of hand. There are many theories puporting that the cross was a solar symbol. The writer even gives this credence in the article above.
    Also many recently found egyptian temples have a cruciform plan just like modern churches.
    But I think its worth mentioning the theory that Akhenaten the pharoah who is often qouted as one of the first monotheists, worshipped a sun disc Aten. Now, it gets very interesting when some alternative historians have theorised that Akhenaten was around the time of the exodus and Moses etc.
    Well the story of Moses being abandoned by his mother and being found by an egyptian princess in the reeds is a big stretch for me. Perhaps one of the greatest jewish patriarchs(moses) wasnt even jewish, but egyptian? That wouldnt go down to well for such an important character?
    If the theory is correct, and I am not offering any backup here… just a theory for me but possible- that moses was at the time of this egyptian monotheist akhenaten, then perhaps moses got his ideas from this new egyptian religion.
    Why i say this…. If you research early judaism, you will find that before moses, there is evidence that it was polytheistic in its earlier guises.
    The text of the epic of gilgamesh and other tablets found in archaeology digs have made me very skeptical of the noah flood mythology. With the similarities in genesis and their contemporary flood myth, the staggering similarities add credence to the argument that a lot of religions are based on or mixed with previous incrarnations of people who have mixed with or conquered other peoples. ie. Jews conquered by the babylonians, egyptians et al. So these mixing and melding of religions are wholly possible.
    So why not this astrotheology which ancient peoples were fascinated with? Is it really a step too far

  9. achybreakyleg says:

    Im starting to hyperventilate like stone now and cant help myself….. I must admit, I went off on a bit of a tangent really there.

    Its important not to rule out theory and start saying everything needs backing up with certain facts. If that was the case, the main theology of most religions would be brought into question.
    What gets me so much is how christians can laugh about the hindu pantheon or buddhist religion yet are convinced that their own religion is most definitely based on fact.
    My personal view is that many religions once we cut through individual dogmas have many similarities and are a lot more similar than the differing religions would like to admit.
    eg. a lot of christians distance themselves from the judaic origins of their religion and really have no idea that islam is an abrahamic religion which believes in many of the early judeao- christian patriarchs/prophets as very important to their religion only in a different way.

    I feel that a lot of world religions could be based on earlier root religions which get mixed and refined much like languages and dialects develop with inter-marriage, conquest and emmigration over long periods from prehistory until the modern age

    Also, there has always been a psychological need for religion or the meaning of life. Lets face it, life can feel pointless for the majority without a reason to be here.

    So…. to finish, I just wish to say that although Joseph and “Archarya S” may seem a bit “new age” to many or even pseudoscience to others, they have a valid point if they can further research the earliest religions they have been studying further and find more links to their astrothology theories. I have no doubt that the earliest sumerian , babylonian, and egyptian religions put a lot of emphasis on astrology certainly and I’ve read some convincing works showing that pre dynastic egyptian kings were named after constellations or stars that were the most northerly at that time(like our north star and the surrounding constellation). Sorry i dont have any links right now. I am theorising but a guy is allowed his opinion. Feel free to shoot down my theories. Thanks for listening to my long drawn out rant! It was all stone’s fault lol

  10. subgenius says:

    Zeitgeist does sometimes seem a bit over-reaching in its interpretations, but Callahan here seems to be injecting a lot of his own obfuscations. Plenty of extraneous details and loosely drawn conclusions to muddy the waters.

    Here’s just one example, of many:
    (Callahan) “…or he was repeating what Christians themselves had said of Jesus. Were Jesus a mythical character they had invented, they certainly wouldn’t have gone out of their way to invent his being a criminal who had been executed.”
    Christians didn’t call him a “criminal.” Christians described him as a completely innocent man who had been executed– a martyr! Martyrdom is an extremely useful emotional tool for establishing religions.

  11. Grant says:

    why don’t you do a critique on part II & III?

  12. Haltzu says:

    Who cares about old stories, critique part II and III !

  13. Grant says:

    I’m watching Zeitgeist Addendum. Why is no one talking about the other aspects of the movie besides the Jesus thing, and secondarily 9/11. What about the monetary system they talk about and the technology thing? That stuff seems FAR more important (in my “opinion”).

    • TheDaver says:

      “One thing at a time”. There’s a LOT of misinformation to debunk in Zeitgeist.

      Callahan’s area is religion, so naturally that’s the part he tackled.

      • skepticofsocalledskeptics says:

        ***** Read the “Companion Guide to Zeitgeist” by Acharya S she deals well with the skeptics and so called debunking of Zeitgeist.*****

        “For what is now called the Christian religion existed of old and was never absent from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh. Then true
        religion which already existed began to be called Christian.”

        Saint Augustine, Retractiones (I, xiii)

        “The Religion proclaimed by him to All Nations was neither New nor Strange.”

        Bishop Eusebius, The History of the Church (II, iv)

        “There can be no doubt that the oldest Egyptian writings contain some vestiges of primeval faith. Egyptians in very remote areas believed in the immortality of man,
        with reward or punishment in the future state. They believed in the existence of good and evil powers in this life, and were not without a sense of personal
        responsibility…”

        Rev. Dr. W.H. Rule, The Horus Myth and Its Relation to Christianity (66)

  14. guilnroses says:

    I do agree that there are a lot of non-trustful information in this movie, even tought it all makes sense to me (it is exactly what I ever believed even without deep knowledge on this subject), but I believe this movie’s intention is to finally start a discussion on these important subjects. I hope the director achieves his goals and we get the right answers for all those questions …

  15. Joseph Kelly says:

    Zeitgeist part 1 is arguing that Christianity borrowed many traditions and symbolism from pre-existing religions. Many priests, bishops, cardinals, popes, and lay believers would agree, without it being a threat to faith. An interesting presentation, but pointless to both believers and non-believers.

    • Jason says:

      My point exactly. Other points: I do believe Jesus and God exist, just not how it is depicted in the Bible. The movie Z, may have not accurately illustrated when and where Jesus walked the Earth, but the point is we Americans or humans cannot blindly accept what is written in the Bible. The main assertion disbelieving religion is the beginning of the lies institutions perpetrate on the public. Yet, the same skepticism I have of the Bible, I apply to Z, and apply to any rebuttal of the movie. On all sides is there manipulation, taking advantage of the human mind so willing to believe what is told to them. There is a sales job on all sides, the Bible selling religion, Z selling anti-Zionism, and governments selling secularism. To be honest I get upset when other people of such fantastic academic backgrounds or self-made scholars attempt to argue details of a given event. When in simplest terms people would rather just know the truth. This is why the Bible does say, the devil is in the details. And, as they say, the truth lies in the middle. Personally, once it is solved how the universe was created or what was present at its moment of creation would answer many questions. Until then, I keep an open mind with a high degree of critical thinking.

  16. Billy says:

    Invoking Occam’s razor is an interesting tactic.

    What is the simpler explanation that fits all the facts:

    1. Jesus is the actual son of god, able to perform miracles as outlined in the bible.

    or

    2. Jesus was a normal man, unable to perform any miracles, but people invented miracles and attributed those miracles to him.

    or

    3. Jesus was a myth, and the miracles attributed to him are merely a hybridization of various myths pre-dating (and in some cases post-dating) his supposed existence. Since he is a myth, performing miracles is no problem, since those would ultimately be myths as well.

    Occams razor combined with scientific analysis would argue:

    Argument 1 is impossible because there is no scientific evidence for god, much less that Jesus was the son of god.

    Argument 2 is possible, but is more complicated than necessary because it requires lining up reality (the existence of a real man) with fiction.

    Argument 3 is possible and is simpler than argument 2 because the entire topic can be lined up more easily to be self consistent (* although even then there are inconsistencies such as Mary Magdalene’s role in Jesus’ life).

    Occam’s razor would suggest argument 3 is the most probable background behind Jesus’ existence, with argument 2 being a close second. In BOTH of those realistic cases, some SERIOUS myths have to be attributed to Jesus, and the origin of those myths would quite likely have come from previously existing mythology.

    Lastly, of course you could argue that argument 1 is the simplest, but since it completely defies all scientific logic and evidence, it can be completely discounted in a RATIONAL consideration.

    So in summary:
    Jesus was a myth and his miracles were also myths, or possibly Jesus was a real man and his miracles were myths.

    I fail to see how Zeitgeist as a ‘general’ conclusion missed the mark on the topic. All Zeitgeist is purporting to do is show that the direction of the myths is fundamentally astronomical, which isn’t too much of a stretch when you acknowledge that most early cultures put extremely heavy weight on astronomical things in their myths.

    In particular, easter itself depends on TWO astronomical events … the vernal equinox and the full moon.

    http://christianity.about.com/od/faqhelpdesk/qt/whyeasterchange.htm

    —-quote—–
    “Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox.” This statement was true prior to 325 AD; however, over the course of history (beginning in 325 AD with the Council of Nicea), the Western Church decided to established a more standardized system for determining the date of Easter.
    —-endquote—–

    If Jesus doesn’t have some tie into astronomical events, why does Easter involve TWO astronomical events?

    • Jason says:

      I believe number two to be the simplest explanation of them all because of the word myth and miracle. Those words indicate anything but simple. Myths and miracles are complicated. Why? They are stories. They must be told well and creatively. It must be told with such fervor to make them believable. Myths must be told over and over again, as to increase memory of the details. Much work over here. This is why I believe number two is the most simplest.

  17. Sky says:

    Billy, why is argument 3 more possible than argument 2? The early christian writers wrote about a person that they thought lived 30-50 years before them. Myths are often based on true events. Other people who are considered historical have stories about them where they perform miracles (like Pythagoras.) If you look for older myths that Jesus could be based on, than there are better matches than this astrology stuff. For example, the Pharaoh tried to kill baby Moses by killing all the boys, and Herod tried to kill baby Jesus by killing all the boys.

    Also, the early Jewish-Christians didn’t have a holiday for Easter. Later on non-Jewish people converted to Christianity and brought the holiday with them. So Easter doesn’t really have much to do with the story of Jesus.

  18. Sonny says:

    Yea, Zeitgeist was indeed bullshit. However the historical Jesus crowd makes too many assumptions for my tastes. Like the vague Josephus quote and the decision that the parts of Mathew and Luke that are different have to be real rather than just bits of the oral tradition they heard. It seems like they almost go so far as to say that if it’s not silly like miracles it must be true. Yet if Jesus was real in the way they say, why does the bible seem to be trying so hard to squeeze him into historical events and do such a bad job of it?

    Now granted there is a grain of truth there. It’s obvious Jesus was not completely made up. There were many Jewish apocalyptic preachers for a century or 2 before and after the beginning of the new calender. Most likely Jesus was just an amalgamation of apocalypticists. Then it was changed by retelling like modern urban legends. In this case you probably have 50 years or more before anything was written down.

    There is one other less likely possibility. Jesus could be an actual apocalypticist from the early 1st century. However you still have 30 years or more of oral tradition before anything is written. So if Jesus was one single real man, he would be unremarkable and no different from any other apocalypticist of the time. So either way the amount of truth in it doesn’t really matter.

    I don’t see the point of this search for historical Jesus either. Sure he has some nice quotes. But really all his niceness was meant for other Jews only. He did not negate the old testament and he did seem to be ok with slavery. Plus all those things were probably invented after the fact anyway. The only stuff that people actually preached was the stuff about the coming apocalypse and afterlife.

    As for the astronomical stuff, the early church just put their holidays around the pagan ones and adopted many of their traditions in an effort to get converts. So that’s why the holidays are as they are. Jesus doesn’t have anything to do with astrology. It’s still mostly legend though.

  19. Naomi says:

    Nice article. Please investigate the claims made in the books entitled : The Bible Code I & II. :-)

  20. strattford says:

    I’m only posting because I can’t stand a website named “www.skeptic.com” that have this biased article about the existence of Jesus (the historial and the biblical).

    But my problem is not with people who actually believes that Jesus existed. I mean, it don’t take too much effort to realize that MANY people have a MUCH better as a believer, so I don’t see why atheists make a big deal about that. In special, their complains about ‘judging’ people and ‘controlling’ them by making them feel ‘guilty’ because -SPECULATTING- I think that most people make ‘sins’ at DAILY BASIS, regardless if it’s an ortodox Christian or a fake-one (sorry, I’m not good in English).

    So, these atheists seems to be upset by religion’s practice, but they do basically the same, in fact IMO the difference are just regarding their goals.

    I’m not a Christian. I’m not sure if I ever read anything from the Bible or if I ever pray (but I did prey many times against my will). But I remember when I change my mind and realized about the benefits some people have for being Christians. I worked in a company for three years with a Christian fellow sharing the office room. He is (or he was, It make some time) such an example of a good Christian in practice but he didn’t believe in almost anything on the Gospels… So, perhaps he was a pagan to some people, but I never see a Christian so ‘Christian’ like him (charity, compassionate, he never attempt to ‘convert’ me when I told about my views, and he frequently helped people on the streets, trying to motivate people when talking, buying food sometimes, and the most important, I never heard he talking about Christianity to those people, unleast they talked about that first, and this is what I respected the most, because he didn’t look like a door-to-door seller, all he wanted was to help people who need help badly).

    In a couple of times, he discussed about it. He argued that almost everyone do something similar and he mentioned, well, a 14/15 years old young having “spending” much of their afternoom in the bathroom. So, the kid don’t daydream about celebrities because he believes that ‘its just a matter of time to make it real’. It’s nothing but a fantasy…

    So, basically, the kid (but not just the kids) make an illusion with nothing to do with his/her reality. Regardless how near impossible it may be, it actually ‘works’ (I don’t think I need to be explicit here, it’s pretty clear).

    We make a lie that we know that’s a lie but we keep doing so because it makes us feel good. It’s that simple.

    But backing to this article: I really want to know what you mean with “skeptic” just because of this article. I’m my view, EVERYTHING that cannot be proved, or is not supported by enough reliable sources, in special, a book that claims that 2000 ago the World was as akward and different as the lord of the rings series are when compared to the current World we live…

    You are taking an “indepent” work from a skeptic guy who is not deeply right like an scholar with PHDs, no complains about that, but compared to ANY sacred books (the little I know is enough to reach an conclusion) his movies are far away regarding the reak World. And It’s a shame that you end writing about it like someone from mainstream utterly biased media. Really, the guy is doing it for idealism, free to everyone, I personally didn’t like “Addendum”, specially the ‘solution’ he point out at the end, but but the guy is doing what he can based on his knowledge, so if you don’t agree the issues, fine, but don’t trash the guy just because of that. Did it ever occured to you that he could came to your site, and who knows, what if you write your points more slightly and perhaps giving some inspiration, ideas, that he may agree and make a third movie with these points?

    Sincerely (oh, and sorry about my bad English! :)
    Bruno – Brazil

  21. Bill says:

    Okay, quickly read the zeitgeist critique and it makes some valid points, but a few things (can you tell I’m not into work today?):

    1. It sort of picks and chooses some pieces of the film to attack and while makes good and valid points (I’m not an expert on old religions as I see no reason to be an expert in mythology) it misses the bigger point – all religions are fake, recycled, overlap, etc.

    2. It nearly admits, except for a one flimsy book citation that Jesus never existed. Now the point isn’t even to debate if there is any real historical record – (maybe there is, but there is obviously very little if any of it is authenticat all). There are people that call themselves the messiah today which we could put in a history book! I.E. – That Branch Davidian nut job in Waco, TX. The point is that if Jesus DID exist, it was likely in the same context that any messiah exists today – no one sane believed it then and certainly no miracles were ever actually performed!

    3. People, like this author, don’t understand what “conspiracy theories” really are and have a hoot making fun in a mocking way. “Conspiracy theories” should simply be called “rich and powerful people trying very hard to control and direct things in a way that gives them further wealth and control.”

    “Conspiracy theorists” don’t think there are a handful of people meeting in a boardroom mapping out 9/11 and the week to week events in the world. Not at all. Nor do the “rich and powerful elite” always “win” or get what they want or agree on things. Roman elites didn’t co-opt Christianity per se, but they were smart enough to use it to further their interests. And governments contolled largely by elite interests have fed on the naivety of people and used religion ever since. This author is using some of Zeitgeist’s words far too literally – like when he makes the comments of debt being used to enslave populations. Well, that’s sort of true. It’s quite complicated. But the secrecy of central banks, and wealth concentrations among a few people is evidence it’s not all for the good of people. Literally enslave? No. Call it “invisible hand enslavement” if you will.

    • Tom says:

      Well-said, Bill. Just like Joseph says in “Addendum”, the controlling elite don’t need to whisper around a table in a dark room — they are able to act largely in concert because of an unspoken agreement that maximizing their profits without regard for ethic is the way to stay in power.

  22. Sky says:

    @ Bill

    1. How does the article miss the bigger point of the video? If the point is to show that religions are fake, than that makes it okay to use incorrect or distorted information to “prove” this point? I believe that religions are mythology for the most part, but I wouldn’t use false information to prove this.

    2. Now I think that you are the one who is missing the point. This article wasn’t trying to prove that Jesus performed miracles or existed. It is clear that Callahan is not a Christian apologist, he was showing that much of the information in Zeitgeist is incorrect.

    3. ““Conspiracy theorists” don’t think there are a handful of people meeting in a boardroom mapping out 9/11 and the week to week events in the world.”
    -Were you watching the same video? They spent 40 minutes trying to show that 9/11 was a conspiracy by a handful of people who weren’t A Qeada. Or were they just making stuff up and I was missing the bigger point of the video?

    “This author is using some of Zeitgeist’s words far too literally”
    -Right so Zeitgeist was just kiding about stuff like tracking chips being put in people but it is all part of the bigger point of the video?

    Zeitgeist uses false information, made up facts, and lies, that are not supposed to be taken literally but it is all part of the bigger point which is to show how naive people are. Yeah, that makes sense.

  23. Anon says:

    @Sky

    1. The video is self-defeating in propagating false and slippery arguments about Christianity. Bill is likely speaking to the probable neglect of the remainder of what might be true in the movie. Hopefully we can agree that the film does provoke the viewer to think critically, something which the layman is usually loathe to do.

    2. Perhaps Bill is trying to say this: there is something more important than the historicity of Jesus, which is the irrational belief in (scientifically implausible) elements of common religions that leaves the believer susceptible to manipulation (i.e. justification of inhumane acts). If the video failed to communicate this–and I think it could have been better–then Part I was not effective.

    3. While it is clear that the video posits that elite bankers control the world, and that we are headed for apocalypse (so indeed, boardroom(s)), simply equating the term “conspiracy theory” to only this boardroom imagery only does the independent thinker injustice. This association naively makes conspiracy claims seem laughable, because, on simple consideration, conspiracies can and do exist (Eliot Spitzer also said this). 9/11 may or may not have been an ‘inside job,’ but no one should find it impossible to imagine an elite group of people attempting to wield unsuspected influence by tacit means. And at least the Founding Fathers should provide some insight here. It seems that the movie attempted to do this, but it is unfortunately questioned by the veracity of Part I on Jesus. It would be shameful to prematurely discard the more important claims of the movie because Peter Joseph botched the introductory religion segment.

  24. kyrpepaske says:

    I suggest you read up behaviour characteristics of psychopaths, not the ones that sit in jail’s but the ones whom run in corporations&goverments@ high positions and RE-think the need of conspiracy, it can be simply explained in macropsychological terms of selfish behaviour+communication skills that is always required in bit higher position in hierarchy, thus enabling selfish-people to negotiate terms that benefit group of such people more than common folk…

    theres NO need for conspiracy, yet zeitgeist has scaringly accurate descriptions&symptoms of society and possible future gathered in it…

    sure theres lots of faults&mistakes, but i think the main idea is pretty good, i think i agree with most of em but not with conspiracy(becouse it can be explained in terms of macro-psychological model made by Andrew Lobaczewski…)

    ps. http://www.ponerology.com for Lobaczewski:s book site…

  25. leo says:

    Academically explaining something does not eliminate its consequences.

    • rob says:

      Well said. In journalism as well, explaining something accurately does not eliminate the consequence. It actually should enhance the consequence.

  26. kenn pappas says:

    Here’s the best evidence for the existence of Jesus. Paul, in Galatians, admits that he met with James the brother of Jesus, and Peter. There’s good reason to believe that at some point, they exchanged information about who Jesus was. They were talking about somebody.

    The alternative explanation is that Peter and his fellows made up the whole story, generated a number of followers who also made up the “Jesus” story, and fabricated enough of the story to fool Paul.

    This latter point sounds like a perfect conspiracy story.

    There should be no controversy as to whether or not a man named Jesus who had disciples and died on a cross is true or not. The real issue is whether or not he got up out of the tomb and walked away, ascended into heaven and sat at the throne next to God. That’s a matter for faith. As to the so-called controversy about whether Jesus existed or not, one has to ask, why were all the letters of Paul, Galatians, Thessalonians, and others, which acknowledge some contact between Paul and the disciples, or the “Circumcision Party” as he so often calls them, then fabricated in order to make this Jesus fellow real? At some point, there is excellent reason to believe that Peter and James and the other fellows walked around with a guy named Jesus. How they came to the conclusion that he was the messiah is a whole different issue.

  27. Hyperbole says:

    Carl Gustav Jung’s essay “The Undiscovered Self(Present and Future).” Zeitgeist The Movie Part 1 seems to have an uncanny resemblance to this essay with key facts added, distorted or omitted. At times part 1 seems to be bordering on plagiarism when discussing the astronomical events leading up to the present. Additionally Jung’s essay also refers to the Zeitgeist of times. It is impossible to know if the author had any idea of this, or if this parallel between the two works is a similar human sentiment that I am juxtaposing by coincidence like a pleasant chord progession. This may not be the forum but I am curious of people’s thoughts on this?

  28. Armin Base says:

    Hey! People, want to hear your opinion on 2nd and 3rd parts of the movie. The 1st one is very disputable, I agree. But what do you think of other facts that Peter Joseph presents to us? (would be interesting to hear from Americans, especially)

    • brent irving says:

      The important part of the Zeitgeist Movement is the (sad?) fact that we live in a man made society that requires so much skepticism. Peter Joseph has stated many times that the Zietgeist movies (both of them, with a third on the way, but particularly the first film) are not the movement. The movement is about re-designing our society using technology and the scientific method ( and of course applying some underlying values e.g., the use of the earths resources for the betterment of ALL mankind and the protection of the environment…). This is the real discussion that needs to take place. For more info read the literature on both the Zeitgeist and Venus Projects web site.

  29. Jambug says:

    I agree that the Zeitgeist Movement is not about denying people their right to believe however and whatever they want: it’s about changing society from devaluing human life into that which not only values it, but promotes it in a way that civilization has never seen before. Right or Wrong: The movies are not the Movement.

    The Venus Project need skeptics and religious thinkers alike to help form this new society where all are free, all are taken care of – I think Jesus would have wanted your participation in the creation of such a monumental human undertaking.

    I am a Christian and my beliefs are mine yet I am tired of living in a class-tiered society where the underprivileged are taken advantage of for the sake of a ruling and elite class of privileged people. This has always been recognized – even by Christ himself – as wrong and many political solutions have been offered, all of which have failed.

    This solution is not political – it is social. It is a complete re-engineering of society on a scale that makes it possible for you to live and do that which most makes you happy without ever having to worry again about how or where you will live or how you will accomplish it or where you can go or what you can do with your life.

    Please visit the Zeitgeist/Venus Project websites – you are necessary.

  30. abracsi says:

    Wow, lots of smart people wastin their talents on these details?

    Religion doesn’t require ‘being able to prove if Jesus was real’. It doesn’t need to make sense- it’s based on ‘faith’ remember.

    I’m concerned with improving the lives of all earth’s people for which Zeitgiest the movie is a useful tool for promoting that workable philosophy. Great.

    Good luck to you all, but why not join the zeitgeist movement, help to correct any inaccuracies of the film and help build a sustainable future.

    -Luke

  31. Whiskey says:

    I agree.

    If you have to take time out of your life to argue a point which you can never prove you are certainly wasting your talent.

    The arguments in Zeitgeist are not infallible, but like any argument its strength rests on the evidence given to back it up.
    If you want me to beleive in the figure of a saviour called Jesus show me some hard evidence.
    The point Zeitgeist made of the christian religion being based on pagan myths which in turn have Astrological origins is not bulletproof. However, it is very compelling. The number of religions who base their penultimate character on the Astrological calender are too numerous to scoff at. On the balance of probabilities Zeitgeist makes a more convincing argument.

    All this being said and done, Jesus or no Jesus, monetary versus resource based economy, elite central bankers versus community based currency system, if you do not behave with morals it won’t make any difference.
    The Zeitgeist Movement is illuminating and provides good guidelines. However, you do not need to join a movement to bring about change.Think about the things you do and the money you spend. Is the paper you buy recycled? Or does it come from rainforests? Do you care about the effects of your actions on others? Do you support multinationals who care not, or sustainable community infrastructure? Do you like to be informed or brainwashed?

    The answer is with you.

  32. mikew says:

    Nice writing Whiskey, I fully agree.

    As I believe, religion is simply mans interpretation and personification of spirituality. You can write 15 thousand more paragraphs to try and convince people that Zeitgeist is wrong or right, it doesn’t matter. Spirituality is the one true universal truth, and how could you ever take an interpretation of that, by man, as truth? Again, I could write thousands of words about how corrupt religion has become over the centuries, and how it’s there to “give the weak hope, promote political agendas, earn churches money” blah blah blah, but it’s really unnecessary.

    We all know this. Well, anyone with a brain capable of actually thinking does. If we were all in touch with our spirituality and oneness to everything, you quickly learn that all of these obsolete, separatist ideals and ways of thinking are completely superfluous to just “being”. No explanation is needed.

  33. JJF says:

    “They are undermining our financial and other freedoms through manipulation of our money and — guess what?! — they’ve been at it since the creation of Christianity, back in the time of the Roman Empire!”

    In the film it doesn’t say that at all, it says they have been doing it since the begining of the federal reserve.

  34. INS4NEMADCOW says:

    god in all religions is the same. god is there to motivate you, make you feel secure with your life. allows people to relinquish responsibility to something greater than themselves. god is a tool, used by people to cope with the knowledge that their life is definite, that death is inevitable. but god is not a bad thing, religion is. when someone has god, they have a coping mechanism. when someone has jesus, or muhammad or any profit based not on personal faith but on the word of another human being, they have only someone else’s prejudices and motives to guide them. religion is the total betrayal of oneself. the only purpose religion serves is to turn man against his fellow man.

    part II made me angry

    part III made me sick

    at the conclusion of the movie i felt deep despair. if half of the claims in this film are true, mankind is lost

  35. Ian Shaw says:

    whether the cucification of jesus was real or not my argument to you is that romans were not the one that crucified him in the first place. Jesus had three or is it four brother’s. one named thebes or theodous, lucas, mathew and joseph. Mary wasn’t an ordinary woman but joseph was. Mary was of the house of David. Joseph a commoner. unbeknown to many but angels when looking back through history could quiete literally mean aristocrat. the crow being the old woman calling out three times to Jesus acknowledging his right to the throne. gossip and mongering and betrayed by his disciple who was friends with antipater. as all of his disciples were holy man and had served antipater. he raced away to tell him. Unfortunately antipater hung the disciple and arrested jesus as for fear of his future crown as jesus was a master builder and had been working on the second temple his fater was building. Fear drove antipater to kill his younger brother. Pilate was confronted with antipater’s proposal and seing antipater as the future king of judea and could be swayed and controlled like his farther agreed and helped antipater untill such a time as pilate actually met Jesus. Pilate tried to back out but which time antipater already had passed law on his younger brother. The building Jesus was working on was known as herods temple after he renovated it between 20 bc until 5 bc. it was later destroyed in 70 ad by the romans.

  36. Ian Shaw says:

    check it out it all there you just have to pick over it with a fine comb

  37. Evan says:

    You people all seem so frustrated with the results of this “debate”. You still don’t see it like I do, with distance. Zeitgeist, like similar documentaries, has a wonderful side effect. First, you feel something from curiosity to total shock, depending on your level of education and pre-viewing knowledge.Then you seek more information, as you wish to confirm or infirm those theories. You find people already confronting in a highly intellectual (well, mostly) debate where you learn tons of things, and take distance. VOILA ! you’re improving in every way. Learning new things, being cautious about what’s told, participating in a global enlightenment.

    Fly safe

  38. Ermal says:

    So you are trying to reply to the Joseph movie based only on the first part, which is very distant history (or myth) and claiming your side of the truth with other stories or based on bible chapters to which I see little connection. This meaning that we shouldn’t believe what Joseph is saying, purely because you say so? I’m sorry but if you have to be skeptical, you should do so by promptly verifiable facts, not bible passages and remotely unknown myths.
    I was hoping to hear more of what you have to say about the second and third parts of the movie, which are far more recent and tangible phenomena, but no, you have written a maximum of 15 lines. Why is that? Can you explain us, as you did for the first part, who do you think organised 9-11? Why is America fighting Iraq (still)? Why is Iran being targeted next? If US is so concerned about democracy, why don’t they “liberate” maybe North Korea, or China?
    Maybe this movie isn’t totally true, but that’s exactly what it should represent, that nothing in this rotten world is true anymore. People should start thinking about what’s going on around them, not just accept what’s fed to them. Domination of humans by humans is something that shouldn’t exist and should have never existed. Millions of people die everyday by mortal diseases and hunger while popes, priests and politicians scratch their balls with golden scrapers. There really is something wrong with this world and if we don’t start thinking, we certainly are doomed.
    “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein

    • slyman says:

      by far the most acurate argumet one can make!
      congrats Ermal.
      western civilization patterns of living have to do with the maximization of profits.
      what if jesus was a real person, or a very clever/sound myth?
      religion has to do with faith and soul, but also with “organizational/corporate behavior”, since it is a pillar of our society that deals with hierarchy, tax free earnings, real estate, etc (hence we have to deal with unconventional corporations!!!)
      on the other hand,
      ordinary people, usualy, prefer(and)follow the easy way…
      a way that is well established and supported through learning.
      an infant is a pure soul that needs to be programed in order to fit “our” living standards.

      ZEITGEIST has to be true.

      this is not a fair world, but none seems to care.

      we have to act.

      NOW is a apot in history, and we all have leading roles.

      we are obliged to act.

      we owe a “healthy” FUTURE to our childern…

  39. Penny says:

    Tim Callahan revised his original article AFTER he read Acharya’s response article. He removed several of his comments such as:

    Tim Callahan “I have absolutely no idea where Joseph got the notion that Horus had 12 disciples or that he was ever crucified.”

    After he was embarrassed by his own ignorance of this subject. Callahan also claimed that Josephus and Tacitus etc are “solid evidence” for a historical Jesus. Even some Christian NT scholars argue with that.

    Callahan has removed posts &/or edited them at his own forum that defended Acharya S which proved Callahan wrong or just ignorant. I’ve seen it done at other skeptical forums too such as James Randi’s. There they (including Tim Callahan) smear & libel Acharya with extremely malicious attacks.

    Skeptic Mangles ZEITGEIST (and Religious History)
    stellarhousepublishing. com /skeptic-zeitgeist. html

    Critique of ZG1 by Skeptic Tim Callahan, thread
    freethoughtnation. com /forums/viewtopic. php?f=19&t=2541

    Skeptic Mangles ZEITGEIST video
    youtube. com /watch?v=bZMis7kQM6c

    If skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer etc, have an ounce of objectivity on this issue they will publish a response from Acharya S – a significant source for Zeitgeist part 1. It’s the least they can do to allow the other side to be heard.

    After all, Acharya is getting strong positive reviews by biblical & archaeologist scholars such as Dr. Robert Price, Dr. Ken Feder and many more.

    robertmprice. mindvendor. com /reviews/murdock_christ_egypt. htm

    freethoughtnation. com /forums/viewtopic. php?f=20&t=3033&start=0

    What are you guys so afraid of, an intelligent woman?

    • Sky says:

      Penny seems to be an insane person who goes around attacking anyone critical of Acharya S. She claims that Callahan removed the comment “I have absolutely no idea where Joseph got the notion that Horus had 12 disciples or that he was ever crucified.” I just read at that sentence in the article right now!

    • B1SHOP says:

      Thank you for this. I followed up on the links that you provided and found them very informative.

      I think that most religions are born out of man’s need to feel immortal. Whether there is an afterlife or not, I do not know (I live my life as if it is the only one I have haha). But it seems to be a unique thread with many, if not all religions. The idea that Christianity holds more weight than others I find biased simply because of where I was born; the U.S. If I were in the Arab world, born of Hindu parents, or a tribe in South America, I probably would have a different perspective on this. It seems Christians are going to great lengths to show that their religion is unique from the others. Just like any person with a belief in theirs would do the same. It’s like a Baptist saying we aren’t Protestant or a Mormon saying we aren’t Catholic even though all are Christian. I find similar traces within the ZG versus Christianity thread because “I” believe that there are enough elements to show that the Old and New Testament aren’t wholly original.

      Why can’t ZG be an acceptable version of events that happened regardless of Christianity. If you took Christianity out of the mix—no reference to the New or Old Testament, what would you have? After reading the link that was provided refuting the Skeptic Article, I can say there is evidence for Horus having 12 disciples, and those disciples having relations to the Zodiac, reasons for resurrection, the celebration of Easter, the significance of December 25, that there are stars referred to as the the Three Kings, and so on. After reading those tidbits, I probably would come to the conclusion that I’ve heard this story before. And more importantly, would those tidbits be based on facts and not pulled from thin air?

      I find the ZG religious portions as credible as the Bible. Dare I say that the ZG portion has more of a foundation and that foundation being multiple sources and multiple regions to make their claims that there is evidence of Christianity borrowing previous renditions of a numerous deities to make a whole story. That is to say that maybe it was the Zodiac that gave claims for part x, and maybe the Epic of Gilgamesh gave claims for the flood. Maybe the crucifixion was common place (and it was, since Jesus was crucified along with two others) and if the Romans tell of stories of the sons of Jupiter being crucified, there just might be something to the assertion that “the cross” may have had significance before Jesus Christ. And with the Bible, you have to go on faith, just like with ZG. Supporting evidence to ZG’s claims appear to be in ancient texts. I think that Christians just don’t want anything that would appear to tarnish the uniqueness of Christianity, and understandably so. Because it would diminish the Divinity nature of Jesus and corrupt the message.

      I could take it a step further and say both ZG, and much of the Bible are completely false with respect to their miracles and their respective divinity. I’ve come to know evolution as providing a much stronger foundation for the origins of man and that an eclipse is not an omen of an upset deity. Nor is an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc. But man, throughout history, has added personification to these events. I no longer believe in Adam and Eve as being actual people.

      These are mysteries and a lot have to do with your faith. And faith can be powerful. The Egyptians built pyramids because of theirs. The Romans built their society on their gods as did the Greeks, the Celts, and the Norse. The Mayans and Incas were doing the same. To the conquerors go the spoils and the history writers…..

  40. Hypernation says:

    Your article is great. You prove even more than ZG1 does, how obviously made-up religion is, good job. Does this make your blog “the da Vinci code on steroids” too? ;-)

  41. patro says:

    What a good thread. I’m not even going to try and defend Zeitgeist here- obviously we have several healthy minds here doing an EXCELLENT job already. I just wanted to say how encouraging it is reading this discussion. And it has gone on for nearly a year! It’s rare to meet anyone who gives a crap about anything important, but this gives me hope.
    To all nay-sayers: even if you wanna take the hardcore skepticism approach to the “conspiracy theories” in the Zeitgeist films (and others), it doesn’t mean you can’t get behind a movement that is trying to better the world, to take our species to the next level of consciousness and evolution, challenging us to challenge the status-quo, which obviously does not work. Be skeptic all you want, but take a look around and ask yourself “Do I want to help make something truly and potentially AWESOME of our species, or do I want to stand in the way of it?”

  42. avd420 says:

    According to Zeitgeist – homosexuality is a choice or learned behavior and can be corrected.

  43. avd420 says:

    @patro

    If information is based on an assumption and that assumption proves to be false then the information must be discarded.

    I don’t need a phony movement like that to challenge the status quo. Scientology also challenges the status quo would you recommend I get behind that?

  44. Greg says:

    @avd420

    I don’t remember Peter mentioning homosexuality in either of the Zeitgeist movies, however in an interview he states that he does not know where homosexuality comes from but guesses it’s a combination of genetics and environment.

    I would also like to know why you think the Zeitgeist movement is “phony”. Trying to heal a very sick world seems a much better cause than most movements that end up being band aids rather than a real solution. I would not recommend Scientology to anyone, seeing as how I have no reason to believe anything they preach. Scientology’s motivation seems less that noble as well.

  45. James says:

    Same old story-

    Preconceptions VS the tedium of research. No matter whose side you are on, try to make sure you are there for the right reasons.

  46. Maximara says:

    Zeitgeist is horrible with mythology and the continuation of long refuted ideas regarding Jesus. The whole December 25 connection was thrown out decades ago when it became clear that it was a decree in 334 CE to replace a pagan solar holiday. The three kings is another oral tradition that is NOT in the Bible and nearly everything claimed about Horus is WRONG.

    A much better example of the Christ Myth Theory not being in tin foil hat land is John Frum. Even with all the resources and technology we cannot show that a US serviceman called John Frum did exist and founded a new religion in 1930 and yet the religion most certainly does exist even to the current day.

    “There is not a shred of evidence that a historical character Jesus lived.” Fischer, Roland (1994) “On The Story-Telling Imperative That We Have In Mind” Anthropology of Consciousness. Dec 1994, Vol. 5, No. 4: 16.

  47. Richard Carrier, Ph.D. says:

    Tim, they are claiming to have refuted Zeitgeist critics now. I haven’t checked the materials out yet myself, but presumably these are the sites you should go see and perhaps respond to (?):

    New Sourcebook for ZG1 edited and expanded upon by Acharya S
    http://www.stellarhousepublishing.com/zeitgeistsourcebook.pdf

    Zeitgeist Part 1 & the Supportive Evidence
    http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2997

    If you do respond to either, please let me know, my contact info is at richardcarrier.info. Thanks!

  48. xenonex says:

    What none of you seem to get is that the religious part of that movie is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter, religion, especially organized cults, have no value, no meaning, and are a waste of time, period.

    The important parts of the zeitgeist movement have to do with the future goals and direction of our planet. The resource based economy and the final collapse of our failing global economic system is the important parts. Pay attention to what matters, don’t even waste your breath debating religious bs with fools. They aren’t worth anything, certainly not a reply.

  49. Pantheraz says:

    Wow, I read the lot !! and am kinda happy with the few open minded people responding,,
    I spread these movies a much as I can along with others that are relevant, I dont for one second think they are all true or false for nothing done by man is all right or all wrong.

    @xenonex,, I wish religions were only a waste of time and without value but the sad truth is they are toxic and corrosive to the intelligence of mankind.
    religions have always persecuted free thought and have genetically cut away free thinkers with cruel and vicious murder.

    as for the religion argument,,
    remember the saying
    “never argue with a fool for he will bring you down to his level and beat you with experience”
    if someone fights doggedly over religion, pass on that and return later, people can only see past the nose on their face if they want to.
    definition of a fool–someone who faithfully believes ANY of the ordained religions are true.
    virtually all religions are born from hallucination, so if you are looking for a religious experience take DMT or Salvia,, you will see GOD.. I really hate that word for describing the one true energy that brings reality into existence but is the most widely understood.

    If after watching these films you are fighting every aspect of them ask yourself why ?
    the truth is often a bitter pill and even if you can shoot holes through the technically incorrect bits, is it not an outrage that even a small part is true??
    what pains me most is right now there are millions of new humans being indoctrinated into these false systems of belief!!
    our children trust us!! we as adults show them the world,
    but we are lying to them and infecting there future with our viral poison of false belief.
    I can personally remember the confusion of being lied to about life and the adults conspiring to cement the falsehood of santa, the tooth fairy and jesus.
    eventually santa and TF were admitted to be a game, but the jesus game was actually believed by them to be true!!

    Wake up world and see the truth,
    even if we have been ruined by the current power systems right now we do have the power to stop this from continuing and enslaving future humanity, however that time will pass and once the ship has sailed this time, technology will deliver the power to the despotic elite to control the sheep…..
    act now and save our individuality.

  50. BenJSM says:

    I did a word search and nothing poppped up, so I thought I’d mention that the majority of what Joseph talks about in the Christianity-related part of Zeitgeist are ideas he most likely got from “Jordan Maxwell”. He has an interesting site packed with BS, and indeed, it was his voice that could be heard at the start of Zeitgeist, talking about the divine presence in the Universe.

  51. Escombo says:

    I was about to say that. This Joseph fellow subscribes to the Jordan Maxwell Iluminatti bullshit. He copied from him a lot of misinformation, like the whole Krishna being born from a virgin (kinda hard when you’re the eighth child) and being crucified… The Buddha being born from a virgin is bullshit too. And he talks about these things in the movie as if he was obviously right… In can you hear the conceit in his voice. It’s ridiculous.

  52. Tony K. says:

    Hello; I just discovered your site and wonder if you’d be willing to debate someone like Richard Gage. When you say the 911 “movement” is falling apart you don’t actually quote the true science, nor note that over 1350 architects and engineers disagree with you. You can’t be taken seriously in your refusal to look at the giant number of mysteries and questions that our government has mostly refused to answer. If say steel melts as you say, how can 3 buildings collapse all in perfect unison with some freefall action nearly identically? How do you explain building 7? Do you know what building 7 was? I wonder why debunkers resort to name calling attacks and avoid the science of it all. What we need is a real debate, not simply name calling and UFO image making. THAT is science and true skeptical thinking; to entertain the possibilities suggested. What say you about nano thermite? PUT options, Kissinger being brought in, explosive sounds all over? And where is the FBI proof about Bin Laden? Nowhere. What is wrong with questions?

  53. nick humphrey says:

    a good book asserting that jesus was fictional, not mentioned in the introduction, is “Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus” by joseph atwill.

  54. Tony says:

    Its all words my friends! Words distort reality no matter how true one may put it. We can belive the left or we can believe the right. But just cause you believe does not make it true. WORDS WORDS WORDS! LANGUAGE IS MAN MADE, HOW CAN WE POSSIBLY BELIEVE THERES ANY MAN OUT THERE WHO KNOWS THE WHOLE TRUTH OR LET ALONE GOD’S TRUTH? WORDS ARE DANGEROUS WHEN YOU CAN CONVICE PEOPLE.
    PETER JOSEPH PUT WORDS TOGETHER TO HELP US SEE WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN DOING SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME.
    STOP ARGUING LITTLE POINTS AND GET THE BIG PICTURE.
    THIS WORLD NEEDS TO BE SAVED!

  55. Tina says:

    You can find a lot of the information that backs up Zeitgeist on the youtube video series called The Evolution from Osiris to Christ- An Introduction by a person called GodAlmighty. I often wonder if those saying that Zeitgeist is false have ever actually studied comparative mythology or did research in the actual Pali Cannon, Rig Veda, Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Book of Gates, funerary texts or any actual PRIMARY sources because THAT is where the Zeitgeist information is proven.

  56. Abonsu says:

    This is a good article, and does make good points, but goes too far in its conclusions. Part I cannot so easily be dismissed as the conspiracy theories of parts II & III. Of course: Peter Joseph’s mistakes are all to obvious. Similarities between Jesus and other mythical figures like Buddha, Dionysos or Horus don’t mean that each and every detail of their story is identical (as he suggests), nor is it sensible to put forth that the astrological implication of the christian myth are the only way to explain it. It is true, that he freely mixes facts, factoids and false assertions. But he is not wrong in showing, that this astronomical or astrological tradition exists and has mixed with the christian myth. Why did the Christians of 3rd century choose December 24th as Christ’s birthday? Because (like Callahan explains as well) is was the birthday of Mithras, whose cult had already merged with the cult of Sol Invictus, the Invinced Sun. Also the connection of the story about Jesus’ being in the underworld for three days with the slow ascent of the sun after the winter solstice is not that absurd: it is a fact, that the length of days varies most around equinoxes and least around solstices. These are just examples of course. There seems to be evidence, that astronomy was mixed with religion in ancient times to a much greater extent, than we are usually aware of (cf. for instance David Ulansey’s interpretation of the Mithras myth as astronomical). The fight of jewish and (later) christian orthodoxy against these traditions does not mean that they didn’t exist in a latent way.

    The question, whether Jesus was a historical figure or not seems to be a minor issue for me, but it is here, where Callahn’s point is the most disputable. Citing Tacitus (who lived around 100 AD) as evidence for Jesus’ historicity is simply eccentric. The points he puts forth are certainly none, that allow to say, that there is firm evidence. There have been a lot of messiahs back then and Jesus might as well be the mix of a few of them in oral tradition (the gospels were written decades after his death and also Paul of Tarsus never actually met him). But as I said: this is a minor issue – but one, where Peter Joseph has stronger points on his side.

    To come to a conclusion: this article shows some obviously weak points in Peter Joseph’s conclusions, but goes a bit too far. This is understandable: the strange and politically ambivalent ideology behind part II & III and Peter Joseph’s populist rhetoric makes it hard, not to dismiss this alltogether. Still, he does have some points on his side.

  57. shane fletcher says:

    GENESIS 37 9 -10

    9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the SUN and MOON and ELEVEN STARS were bowing down to me.”
    10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”

    Joseph is the twelfth star looking at the eleven other stars which all together hint at the twelve zodiac signs which are clasicaly children of the SUN and MOON
    in astrology

  58. shane fletcher says:

    monotheistic religions are often placed in its own island of mythology

    if you look at for instance the obsession with the number seven in all the faiths you’ll realise that it came the seven wandering stars these stars were the only ones observed with the naked eye these stars are the 1Sun 2Moon 3Mars 4Mercury 5Jupiter 6 venus 7Saturn which are the names of the days of the week 1 sunday 2 monday 3 tuesday 4 wednesday 5 thursday 6 friday 7 saturday

    when you look at the astrology you realise that the three major faiths have a special planet symbol and each religion has special day of worship on that planet

    Islam Venus (symbol of the cressant and pentagram symbol of Venus) day of worship Friday (day of Venus)

    Judaism Saturn hexagram (symbol of Saturn)day of worship Saturday (day of Saturn)

    christianity symbol Cross (clasic symbol for sun) day of worship Sunday (day of the sun)

  59. shane fletcher says:

    the biblical numbers 12 24 30 40 all factor into the number 360 the Egyptians would make the earth follow a 360 day cycle around the sun and remember the number 7 are the 7 wandering stars which were the only observable solar bodies that were seen with the naked eye

    i think what astounds me most is how the 144,000 in revelations corresponds to the number of days the Mayans use to equal 1 baktun 1 baktun = 144000 days

  60. shane fletcher says:

    for all other information look up manly p hall astrotheology

  61. riaan says:

    yes you’re right, you skeptic you, its all bogus and imaginatively constructed. much more plausible is the story of the guy who could walk on water and survive his own death, not to mention some other neat tricks. you know, the guy whose dad built the universe and the saddles which man used to ride the dinosaurs 6000 years ago. would’ve been bitch’n to play over at his house…

  62. shane fletcher says:

    http://www.manlyphall.org/audio/astrotheology-2/astrotheology-part-1-of-5-zodiac-and-the-great-platonic-year/ listen to this lecture and all the rest of them and you will see religions connections to solar mythology

  63. B1SHOP says:

    Here is Acharya S’s response to this article

    http://www.stellarhousepublishing.com/skeptic-zeitgeist.html

    Does it have merit?

  64. Santosh says:

    Guys,

    Cannot we see the positive side of Zeitgeist. Why do you keep discussing the same crap called religion time and again. It kills people and it does nothing.

  65. groo says:

    with much interest I read PART of the main article and most of the comments.
    In parallel to that Ms Murdock’s commentary “Skeptic Mangles ZEITGEIST (and Religious History)”.

    (the reason I read only part of Tim Callahans entry, is, that w.r.t. my background it was quite redundant, factually too many times dubious, and in its intentions too obvious: preaching to the skeptic choir. This could equally be said of the ‘other side’, ofcourse.)

    With such a contended topic for literally centuries it seems natural to me, that in every position one takes, there are errors.

    Every skeptic should know about this.
    (I call this ‘semantic net’, with core nodes and not-so core nodes, where one can err in the not-so core-ones, but NOT in the core-ones.)

    My own position is that of an agnostic.
    Why? Because I did not manage to disprove the existence of GOD as such.

    What I managed to do is, that all conceptions, frozen into religion, serves some very worldly purpose, and as such has to be rejected on intellectual and moral grounds.

    The catholic church, to take the most prominent ‘Christian’ institution. rests on a fabrication of pious lies, for the purpose of acquiring power land, and feeding its hierarchy.
    Because this is purposefully hidden, it is an example of a top-down ‘conspiracy’.

    No further debunking necessary, and also no Dawkins, who, like many of the skeptics camp, to invent another ‘GOD’, which is the ‘wonderful awe-inspiring, beautiful order’ of the universe.

    No. It isnt.
    The universe looks quite clumsy to me and is not the best of all worlds.
    I at least can think of better ones, which, btw, everybody should.

    Skeptics tend to get quite nervous about that, because their materialist worldview tends to require that ‘godliness’ of nature.

    What ‘Zeitgeist’ obviously (to me at least) tries to show –not prove!- is, that there are not one, but several ‘conspiracies’, which have as their common denominator an elite interest in producing and exploiting these fabrications, to the detriment of the rest of us.

    There have been conspiracies galore through history, and as it goes also halluzinated fabrications of conspiracies.
    To say that there are none, would be foolish.

    This is how this clumsy world seems to work.

    Now the question is about the big ones, and ‘Zeitgeist’ addresses these.
    Or how it is called by another name: “The big lie.”

    Christian religion definitely qualifies as one.
    Has been debunked numerous times, but lives on, because of its attractive features to a lot of fellows, who seemingly are too lazy to make sense of the world and the moral stature of any decent human being in that world.

    Skeptizism, well applied, should be skeptic of its own fundamentals, which are, among others:
    a) overreliance on Aristotelian Logic
    b) a blindness to ‘morals’, because this tends to transcend materialism, e.g. by hypothesizing at least a ‘moral dimension’, which arises through consciousness, self-reflection, free-will, which, surprise, surprise, the skeptics tend to fight against, with teeth and claw.

    Consider me a meta-skeptic.

    A last word regarding ‘Zeitgeist’ and Joseph:
    As I understood, he considers his work as basically a work of art, grounded in reality, open to revision and refinement, not a definite answer –a closed conspiracy–

    As such, it definitely presents a challenge to the skeptic community, which tends to project ont the world their own view:
    Aristotelian Logic, Occam, some basic physical laws, the scientific method amongst maybe some others.

    Whether this is sufficient to explain traits of some humans like ‘planned deception’, to name just one, remains to be seen.

    Maybe we know this after the fact, it when the human species is extinct.
    Then they say: well, we erred on the wrong side. Lets start the game again.
    In what round of the game are we, exactly?
    This would be some Buddhist question.
    Embarrassing.

  66. groo says:

    sidenote:

    I try to contact ‘Peter Joseph’, which is a pseudonym, to make him aware of this important topic, if he is not already.

    Maybe he was/is unaware of this, namely he challenges the skeptic community with a wholly different paradigm.

    Promoting the ‘good fight’, in which the skeptics should join,

    Which they do not unto now.
    They promote a quite simplistic view of the world, as self-contained and -well- ‘perfect’ one.

    Nobel-price winner Laughlin asked the intersting question on:
    “why are there laws?”


    The problem with reductionism, Laughlin says, is that it’s susceptible to “Dark Corollaries”, which obscure the inconclusive nature of many experiments. One of these corollaries he has dubbed ‘the Deceitful Turkey’, to describe the phantom breakthrough that feels so tantalisingly close but will always be beyond one’s grasp,
    no matter what computer power or technology is at hand.

    http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1437

    Laughlin is one of the more insightful Physicits questioning our worldview from the bottom up.

    A similar question coulld be asked from the ‘top’, where I am unsure, whether this is the ‘top’.

    But here we know next to nothing, as You hopefully acknowledge.
    The top-down- factoids (or ideologies) do not explain themselves easily from the bottom up.
    In fact, the bottom-up ‘explanation’ of the whole universe seems insufficient to ‘explain’, what minds can make up from the top-down.

    this is what skeptics, self-trained to make things up from the bottom, seem to faill to grasp:
    That there is a whole different approach.
    Which does not mean that it is correct in the first place, but that it is, even w.r,t. Occam, the simplest assumption to follow.

    So we have a clash of conceptions, so to say:
    Bottom-up — top-down.
    Here I am completely with Laughlin, who is a decent, unideological Physicist/Nobel Price-Winner, if You like the glitter.

    Skeptics do not seem to recognize this second option, and fail to grasp ‘its reality’, which is, embarrassingly enough, an ‘invention’ of the mind, which I tend, in order not to go completely insane, a REAL dimension of its own.

  67. Derek Murphy says:

    Something that’s always bothered me about the three wise men following a star… if you watch the three stars of Orion’s belt at night, although they do point to Sirius (the brightest star in the winter sky), they rotate away from it; so it actually seems like the 3 stars are leading the bright star rather than following it.

  68. Robert Hendy says:

    Your assumptions right through the document are very thin at the best if not completely wrong. For example, ‘That Tacitus is obviously a hostile witness makes it much more likely that he accepted Jesus as a real person.’ Tacitus actually called his tale a ‘deadly superstition’. Superstition – get it? Every point you make has similar mistakes.

  69. Bob Dole says:

    Ok, so whatever, even if the zeitgeist crew embellished it does not change the fact that it is STILL a made up religion that even a child can recognize as UTTER crap. I also love how THE POINT, THE POINT, he was trying to make has been largely ignored. The point is that religion is evil, in all of it’s forms, as dangerous as patriotism, and it is sad to see people still defending the faith, seriously, get with the times, god is dead, and he was always dead, because we created him.

  70. maximara says:

    The problem with the whole Isis thing is the Isis worshiped by the Romans wasn’t the same one that is talked about in the Book of the Dead. The Isis known to the Romans had picked up the traits of various Greek goddess such as Artemis, Diana, Demeter, Athena, and Hectate–all of whom were VIRGIN Goddesses.

    So for the question of Isis being a virgin to be properly answer we must go NOT to the Isis in the Book of the Dead but to the Isis of Rome.

    http://michaelsherlockauthor.blogspot.com/2012/06/great-virgin-isis-ancient-mythology-is.html

  71. Robert54532 says:

    God and the bible are primitive, backward, outdated, retarded, bronze-age, imaginary, ignorant, made-up, make-believe, religious fairy tale nonsense!

    Humans didn’t have the science or technology to explain things properly back then, so they explained things with made-up, religious god fairy tales.

    That’s all you need to know about God and the bible.
    That sums up the whole Zeitgeist video and everything else concerning gods and religion.

  72. ToweledAvenger says:

    I liked Zeitgeist because it was thought-provoking. All of it. I grew up being told Jesus was real and at the age of 30 suddenly decided I didn’t think he was. Some of what Mr. Joseph’s movie said gave me info I didn’t have before. Stuff no one around me (grew up Mormon) ever told me. So It did inspire me to find out on my own about the truth of this dude who said he came to save me.

    The 2nd part scared me because I thought it presented a lot of possibility… conspiracy involving the government (or the banking Lords) or was it the men they say it was that killed all those people?

    The 3rd part got me reading all I could find about the Federal Reserve. No matter what awful things have happened and are going to happen… I see a major source of all the crap starting right around 1913.

    Love to continue this debate…

  73. takaru says:

    You all went to a great effort, mostly to demonstrate how much you know about one subject, or a class you were particularly good in in school. The bible is as real as harry potter or the lord of the rings. In fact in 200 years you will hear people chanting for the expected return of Frodo. No one has proven anything here- because you don’t have enough information, and you want your own personal reality to remain intact. The false flags historically are documented, you don’t want to cop to that? The wtc’s all three free fall you ignore that. 911 commission? Atrocities by people claiming love and peace (i.e. christianity?) No wrecked planes in Pennsylvania or pentagon? etc. etc. etc. blinded by your own status and education, mainstream intellectuals. am especially disapointed in Shermer wow! did he run from it when it threatened his income.

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