A Grain of Truth?

Question from Casey:
In a previous question about the birth of Christianity the answer detailed the many links between the story of Jesus and other ‘myths’. It was then suggested that the story of Jesus was stolen. My question, however is that if so many other ‘myths’ exist that are so similar doesn’t that imply that there is more truth to Jesus’s life as even non Christians are stating His story? All ‘myths’ tend to have a basis in truth. Just something to think about.

God Bless.

Answer by SmartLX:
The myth of centaurs has a basis in truth. The basis is that people have ridden horses for thousands of years, but not everyone has. Some tribes and races unfamiliar with horses, when seeing them ridden for the first time, have failed to immediately realise that the human riders were separate from their mounts, and identified the two as a single creature until they became familiar with the utility of horses.

The point is, just because you can easily see where the myth came from doesn’t mean that there was ever a real horse-man hybrid. Not even P.T. Barnum tried to fool anybody with that one, and he once exhibited a carefully crafted mermaid.

In the story of Jesus we see claims which have been repeated throughout history at the foundation of different religions, and this is the likely basis for the similarity of those claims. In what’s now known as the early-to-middle first century, there was definitely a group of people trying to convince everyone that their now-absent leader not only spoke for God but was God. They went about it in the usual manner of people in their position: they told a story which was amazing and yet satisfyingly well-aligned with prophecies and symbolic numbers (and I use “well-aligned” deliberately, given the possible Zodiac connections).

The fact that others had tried this before says little or nothing positive about the veracity of the claims about Jesus. It just tells us that his chroniclers might have been reassured by historical precedent that people would believe them.

Answer by Andrea:
The fact that the myth of the sun god Horus preceded the tales of Buddha, Christna, Jesus, etc. by about one to two thousand years shows that the latter myths all stemmed from one source.
The main reason the Christ mythology still survives today is because Christians had the luxury of slaughtering the opposition,e.g. the Crusades.

I don’t know that it is true that all myths tend to have a basis in truth. I have yet to see a jolly guy dressed in red drop presents down my chimney, for example.

Of course, you’re entitled to believe whatever you choose to believe — provided it doesn’t hurt anyone else or you don’t try to shove your beliefs down the throats of others. If your beliefs make you feel better, I’m all for it.

Thank you for your question.
Best,
Andrea

10 thoughts on “A Grain of Truth?”

  1. The fact that the myth of the sun god Horus preceded the tales of Buddha, Christna, Jesus, etc. by about one to two thousand years shows that the latter myths all stemmed from one source.
    The main reason the Christ mythology still survives today is because Christians had the luxury of slaughtering the opposition,e.g. the Crusades.

    I don’t know that it is true that all myths tend to have a basis in truth. I have yet to see a jolly guy dressed in red drop presents down my chimney, for example.

    Of course, you’re entitled to believe whatever you choose to believe — provided it doesn’t hurt anyone else or you don’t try to shove your beliefs down the throats of others. If your beliefs make you feel better, I’m all for it.

    Thank you for your question.
    Best,
    Andrea

  2. Hi,
    thanks for your answers 🙂 its always nice to get a different perspective especially when its done respectfully so thank you.

    Just in relation with the idea of ‘the luxury’ of the crusades. please reconsider your wording and understanding. the crusades are a horrible, dark part of history and calling them a ‘luxury’ is all kinds of wrong. You’d be hard pressed to find a christian or catholic (though the two are somewhat overlapping) who agree with what was done in the crusades in the name of Christ. the eating of children, drinking of horses blood etc arent exactly ideas our wonderful, loving God encourages.

  3. Eating children, horses’ blood, no. Burning children, lambs’ blood, yes. The apples didn’t fall too far from the scriptural tree.

    The Crusades aimed to advance Christianity among its rival religions, but of course were often waged without regard for Biblical teachings about behaviour. This doesn’t surprise me, considering that our defence forces fight for democracy while using democratic processes very little in their own ranks. To paraphrase Gene Hackman in Crimson Tide, the Crusades were to preserve Christianity, not to practice it.

    Despite what you say the Crusades were carried out quite literally in the name of Christ, shouted very loudly and plastered all over the soldiers’ regalia. You may disown their atrocities, and so may the churches, but they fought for your god whether He wanted it or not – and He did nothing to stop them.

    Anyway, Andrea’s point was that it’s difficult to argue for the truth of a claim based on its longevity when there have been vast armies willing to do horrendous things to people who didn’t accept it. They deserve some credit.

  4. From HJC via email:
    You stated that apostles went around in the regular way by telling an amazing story that fit into previous scriptures, however the difference with the apostles was that they were preaching and sharing with people who’d seen Jesus, In Acts it states that ‘Jesus appeared to 500 men, most whom are still living though some have fallen asleep’. This means that at the time that people were sharing about Jesus there was people around to say ‘Hang on this isn’t true’ if there had been no one who had witnessed Jesus’ miracles and resurection then the story would not have spread as rapidly as it did.

  5. There are several points worth making in response to this.

    – The mysterious 500 people are only mentioned once, in 1 Corinthians 15, and no further information is given. It supposedly happened before the apostles saw him, but none of the Gospels mention it. We never hear from any of the 500 themselves. Accounts of witnesses are not witnesses, especially when they’re impossible to track down.

    – 1 Corinthians is believed to have been written while Paul was in Ephesus between 53 and 57 AD, at least 20 years after the agreed date of Jesus’ death and his subsequent “appearances”. The Gospels were probably written even later. When the story was finally told in print, most of those who could have authoritatively denied it were dead, illiterate or unconcerned – and eventually outnumbered by the faithful.

    – Consider modern-day Mormon missionaries. They must confront a populace which is jaded, mostly entrenched in other religions and (mostly thanks to South Park) very well aware of the strange and suspicious aspects of the Mormon faith. In the face of all this, they still get people willing to believe them, and the Church still grows.

    Religion can flourish despite skepticism, outright denial and even scientific refutation of its claims. The original Jewish cult of the supposedly risen Jesus would have been bothered even less by naysayers.

  6. Even though Christians have done some pretty awful things in the name of Christ (such as the crusades), it is not these that are the reason that Christian ‘mythology’ still survives today. Did you know that there are roughly 200 000 christians being tortured, imprisoned and killed around the world at this very moment? This is happening in the 42 countries where even knowing a Christian is illegal and yet this is where the grace of God is spreading like wildfire. After the death of Jesus, every single one of his twelve disciples (bar John) were imprisoned and killed for their faith. During this time the church grew from about 300 to a few thoudand (sorry I can’t remember the exact figure) and doesn’t stop. I don’t think the Crusades contributed to the preservation of Christianity at all, in fact, it seems to have done the opposite-even today it turns people off.
    I also want to say thankyou for such a respectful disscussion and I hope that Casey and I aren’t appearing to shove our beliefs down your throats 🙂
    I’ll be praying for you!

  7. Sorry I forgot to say that the point of my last point was that Christianity is something that flourishes best when it is under persecution, not when it is persecuting others.

  8. No problem Meg, I got the point.

    I do know about the persecuted Christians in the world today. That said, even this site, which lists countries by persecution, can’t bring itself to say Christianity is actually illegal in very many of them. So what’s your source, and what’s your source’s source? I also know about the persecuted Buddhists in Tibet, the persecuted Muslims in India and let’s not even start on the Jews in Europe. If you believe in something enough, you’ll gladly suffer for it.

    That puts all religions on a level playing field, unless you invoke Lee Strobel’s argument that the original apostles wouldn’t have died for something they knew to be false. I discussed that ages ago on the old site, again here and more obliquely here. We can pick up on it again if you like.

    One other point: nobody said the Crusades were ultimately successful, but the moral backlash against them is a fairly modern thing and they were great for Christian morale for centuries beforehand. Even now, many American evangelicals are energised by the thought of Christian troops fighting the heathen near the Holy Land, and even the idea that this will bring on the end times.

    I understand that you see it as your duty to reach out to unbelievers, believing what you do. I did too, once. I wouldn’t expect any less, and the site would be a lot quieter without it.

  9. Well my source I guess is a guy I know who works for this company called Voice of the Martyrs. He has been to countries like North Korea where he has been arrested for smuggling bibles and visited the underground church there. The pastor was arrested in the middle of the service by government officials and there are many testimonies and such on the Voice of the Martyrs website telling similar stories. I also recently went to an event where a Korean girl told her terrible story of all the hardships she had been through and yet the whole time she was telling all of us not to pray that her persecution would stop, but that her message of salvation would continue to spread.
    I thought I would point out that I do not consider it my duty to reach out to you. It’s more like I’ve got this wonderful news that I want to share with everyone out of love for fellow human beings. God has given everyone this incredible gift and I feel compassion towards those who do not know it.

  10. North Korea, yes. Christianity cops the full force of the law there, no question. No surprise either, when the totalitarian dictatorship is itself a pseudo-religion. (Schoolchildren are made to pray to Kim Jong Il and his father and predecessor, Kim Il Sung.) But in few other countries is it quite that bad.

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