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    I have a Master of Arts Honours Degree for a thesis on The Place of Ethics in Heidegger's Ontology, and was a moderator at the discussion forum Truth Be Known.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    I am a Christian atheist

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  1. All claims about the supernatural are far better explained by reasons other than the existence of actual supernatural processes or entities. For example, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is best explained as an allegory for the annual death and rebirth of the sun as a regular natural process. All other alleged miracles in the Bible have similar natural explanations for how the stories arose. Their value is as moral fables, not as claims about actual events. The best explanation of miracles is from the philosopher David Hume, who argued more than two centuries ago that lies and deception are vastly more probable causes of miracle stories than any inconsistency in the laws of physics. Belief in the supernatural is solely a psycho-social process of emotional comfort, combined with a corrupted distortion of moralistic parables.
  2. · The Egyptian “Zep Tepi” myth of the ‘first time’ in the Age of Leo matches to the peak of the most recent interglacial age at the dawn of the Holocene Age about ten thousand years ago. And that point in time matches to what the Vedic myth of the Yuga calls the golden age, or Satya Yuga, interpreted astronomically as occurring when earth’s perihelion crossed the June solstice. · The Egyptian and Indian astronomer-priests could well have had a much deeper understanding of these effects of the structure of time than we now give them credit for. If so, they were in a position to predict that the “Age of Pisces” would correspond to the Kali Yuga iron age of ignorance, with Jesus Christ as avatar of Pisces, as earth moves toward the low point of the long cycle, and the Jewish Aquarian Messiah as avatar of the Age of Aquarius, occurring as earth moves upward from the low point. · A remarkable website http://www.bibhudevmisra.com/ proves the Indian Yuga tradition did support a 24,000 cycle of light and dark, in line with the actual evidence of astronomical precession, just in terms of orbital drivers of climate change. · As I mentioned in our conversations at Free Thought Nation, this model of half a precession cycle corresponds directly to the ancient Gnostic mythology of zodiac ages. The lion-man Mithraic/Gnostic statue of Aion, as used by Carl Jung as frontispiece for his book Aion, has the six coils of the snake matching to the six days of creation, six months between solstices, or six ages between the golden age and the iron age, from Leo to Aquarius. The head of the snake joins the head of the lion as a symbol of enlightenment. · These ideas illustrate that Christianity originated in secret mystery societies that had an organic link back to the initiatic cultures of the stone age – I discuss this in a recent book review, The Memory Code by Lynne Kelly, https://www.amazon.com/review/R11RNVYFT2LZ5N/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv · Orion’s Belt is also a convenient marker of this large cosmic planetary cycle, which since the dawn of human evolution has marked climatic change at a planetary level. The golden age defines warm interglacial periods, the cosmic summer when seas are high and glaciers are small, and the iron age defines cold ice ages, the cosmic winter when seas are low and glaciers are big. · This scientific correlation is important to place mythology on an empirical basis. · My view is that the Orion movement, while important, is perhaps secondary to the movement of the pole, with Vega swinging back and forth from the pole every 26,000 years. Golden Ages occur when Vega is the pole star. · Sourcing of precession myth in India and Babylon looks just as strong as Egypt. Also, I question if the first and second coming idea is specifically stellar, just in the sense that the stars provide markers for the structure of time rather than causing the cycle in an astrological way. So if the origin is the accurate Yuga concept of a 24,000 year cycle of light and dark, then the ‘Age of Pisces’ begins with the descent into the darkest point, while the Age of Aquarius begins with the ascent out of the darkest point. Think 11pm and 1am. · The way I understand this material is against the physical orbital framework of glacial drivers. The main driver is the date when earth is closest to the sun. When this date, the perihelion, happens on the June solstice we have a golden age, and when perihelion is on the December solstice we have an iron age. That is a stable cycle of terrestrial time over billions of years. By this cycle, the last golden age was ten thousand years ago, and the middle of the iron age was 1246 AD. We are now ascending out of the iron age. The perihelion advances by one day every 59 years, and is now at 5 January. · The Age of Pisces began at the descent toward the nadir of the iron age, and Aquarius is the beginning of ascent toward the next golden age. · Calling that modern sceptical line on the failure of Jesus to return early “traditional” only reflects liberal critical traditions. It most certainly does not reflect creed dogmas such as that Christ is ‘sitting at the right hand of the father’, and ‘he will return in glory to judge the quick and the dead’, where the day of doom is at the centre of faith. · As well as the failure of the ‘this generation will not pass away’ line, the failure of Jesus was more broadly connected to his death on the cross, that instead of being anointed as king of the world he was executed and humiliated. The whole resurrection story appears in some respects as a triumphalist way of dealing with that humiliation, although we do not say the sun is humiliated because the weather gets cold in winter. · Christianity has always held that the redeeming vindication of the resurrection message of Jesus would occur with the second coming. It is like the first coming was a pump-priming exercise of an imaginary messiah, with the second coming expected to involve political rule of the world by Christ the King arriving on the clouds of heaven. · These two traditions that you mention, Pisces and Aquarius, are part of a Great Year precession tradition that sees every age as an Aeon, a new age, through the whole Gnostic Duodecad cycle of twelve ages mentioned by the ancient heresy-hunters. Various writers have imagined the Age of Taurus from 4000 BC as the Age of Adam, and the Age of Aries from 2000 BC as the Age of Abraham or Moses. We could equally imagine an Age of Capricorn starting in 4000 AD. · The underlying idea is that the spirit of the old age becomes worn out and corrupt, and the world needs renewal through a revitalised original dynamic spiritual energy corresponding to the new zeitgeist, as in the Chinese concepts of dynastic cycle and mandate of heaven, mapping the annual seasonal framework onto a bigger temporal cycle of twelve cosmic months within a Great Year. · The astronomer priests who wrote the New Testament were well aware of the astrological associations with Pisces and Aquarius. Modern astrology describes the themes of Pisces as mystical compassionate belief, and of Aquarius as innovative humanitarian knowledge. It is entirely possible that the authors of the Gospels imagined the messianic agenda in these terms, since these thematic ideas correlate well to the imagined focal agendas of the successive ages of Pisces and Aquarius. · The key point here is that the Age of Aquarius is a physical time from around 2000 AD to 4000 AD when the spring equinox occurs with the sun in Aquarius. This emerging planetary time period has a whole range of scientific, cultural and mythological meanings that we can analyse. · Jesus said “"When you enter the city, a man carrying a jug of water will meet you. Follow him to the house he enters.” · The symbolism of this verse is profound. The city of Jerusalem stands for the visible heavens. The man with the water jug is the symbol of Aquarius. The house he enters, and especially the upper room for the Last Supper, stands for the reconciliation of spirit and nature in the redemptive recognition of humanity’s natural identity in union with the visible heavens, the new heaven and new earth when God makes all things new. · Overall, this verse is about planning ahead to triumph over the worldly evil symbolised by crucifixion. It indicates early understanding that this triumph would not be immediate but would need to wait until the end of the age of Pisces and the dawn of a new age of Aquarius. · Looking again at this chapter http://biblehub.com/esv/luke/22.htm it is intriguing that the stated purpose is to prepare the sacrificial lamb, symbol of the end of the Age of Aries. · This cryptic instruction for the last supper makes perfect sense as allegory for the structure of time, reflecting ancient knowledge of precession of the equinox. Many thanks Josh for your engagement here, I appreciate it. My focus at the moment is preparing my talk on the Big Picture for the Kepler Conference on Evidence Based Astrology. The conference will be held online this year as the venue in Florida was wrecked by the hurricanes. My focus is the physics of the Age of Aquarius. I am particularly interested in how the zodiac age can be defined physically as the resonance between the earth and the sun. I can explain that to anyone with ears to hear.
  3. My response to this question posed to me today is as follows. The generally accepted history of the early church, based on the Gospels and Acts, is actually quite different from the real history. Establishing what the real history involved is extremely difficult, and is a question of high and broad controversy, with serious scholars subjected to exclusion and shunning. The whole set of questions around how the New Testament came to be written, in what order, for what purpose, by whom, produces wildly conflicting answers. Part of the problem is that for more than a thousand years, under Christendom, any questioning of the accepted literal faith in Christ was condemned as heresy or blasphemy, and became a capital crime. As a result, scholarship was corrupted and intimidated, and people assumed that generally believed stories must be true, a syndrome that continues to degrade the conversation about Christianity. Against this history, the view is strongly emerging that the Gospels are entirely fictional, that Jesus Christ was invented, that there is no evidence whatsoever for any claims in the Gospel, and that the whole story of Jesus can only be explained as imagination, not as reality. If this shocking claim is true that the Gospels are fiction, then it stands to reason that Jewish communities early in the common era would have been well aware of this fact, because they were the victims of the mass deception which falsely blamed them as Christ killers. Jews would have strongly protested the Christian effort to claim ownership of the Jewish sacred texts to promulgate a political lie. Unfortunately, almost all ancient writings that might support that theory have failed to survive. We have the Church Fathers texts where apologists attacked their critics, such as the Contra Celsus and the Dialogue with Trypho, but never hear these early critics of Christianity speak in their own voice. We might think that such general failure of the sources to back up the hypothesis that Jesus was fiction in a clear way makes the hypothesis weak. But this is a very special case. Firstly, the Roman destructions of Jerusalem in the first and second centuries were the biggest war effort in the whole history of the empire, a military context that made religious propaganda, including the development of literal belief in the gospels, a key instrument of strategic conquest. Then, as literal Christianity triumphed, the faith was co-opted by the empire, and imperial edicts made possession of heresy a capital crime for more than a thousand years. In that context, it actually is plausible that the efforts to eradicate specific major heresies such as the belief that Jesus was fictional could have been successful. And indeed, that heresy has a name, Docetism, the belief that Jesus only seemed to come in the flesh, a widely discussed belief for which almost no supportive documents exist in any direct way. The only support is found in concealed locations, in cryptic language in other texts, of the type that could plausibly survive the monkish sieve, the efforts of librarians over generations to neglect and discard any writings seen as suspect. My reason for introducing this material in response to the question of the end times conversion of the Jews is that explaining Christianity in a rigorous way is essential for an understanding of the relation between Judaism and messianism. Judaism maintains that the messiah has not yet been born. I think that is a very plausible argument, set against the real framework of what Harry Marks has called the arc of history. The real ‘arc of history’ can be seen by study of deep time, the emergence of humanity from Africa a hundred thousand years ago, then the peopling of the world over the five successive glaciation cycles of rising and falling seas and advancing and retreating ice since then. Against this big arc, the modern world is a severe aberration, since our technology dating from the Neolithic prevented the natural fall back into a new ice age, due mainly to methane from rice and cow cultivation. So we have an artificial world where humans exercise dominion. In the fallen alienated context of supernatural religion, dominion over nature is wrongly interpreted as domination, while in the messianic transformed vision of the future seen in the Gospel texts, dominion is read as stewardship. I find it very helpful to interpret these big issues against the real astronomical framework of climate change, with the orbital drivers producing what Indian myth calls the cycle of the Yugas, between gold and iron ages over a twenty four thousand year period, in a remarkably accurate intuition of the historical reality. By that frame, the messianic impulse is the presence of the spirit of the golden age in the midst of the iron age, with a transformative call that is utterly rejected by the alienated ignorant spirit of iron, and yet proves redemptive, powerful and enduring. This historic vision of gold and iron ages extended from India to Babylon, Israel, Greece and Rome, including in Plato’s Noble Lie as the basis of the philosopher kings, and is encapsulated in the archetypal Christian myth of cross and resurrection. Now what is really interesting in comparing Judaism with Christianity is that this astronomical orbital model of time can also see the messianic impulse against the framework of zodiac ages, produced by precession of the equinoxes. While speculative, this model has enough purchase on scientific reality to be worth pursuing. What it indicates is that the Christian messiah Jesus Christ was imagined by his astronomer-priest inventors as the avatar of the Age of Pisces, when the equinox precessed from the sign of the ram into the sign of the fishes in 21 AD, a celestial event they could predict for centuries beforehand. The Jewish coming messiah, by this astronomical model, is imagined as the avatar of the Age of Aquarius, the transformation of global consciousness that is occurring as a result of modern global unity. Further, this model involves the idea that Piscean Christianity has ‘primed the pump’ for the emergence of an Aquarian messiah, through an explanation of what messianic consciousness involves, in a world that was not ready to hear those transformative ideas. Therefore, the advent of the Jewish Aquarian Messiah is one and the same event as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Aquarian Messiah will arrive in power as king of the world while the Piscean Messiah only fulfilled that role in imagination. Christianity has explained what a Jewish messiah will do, around the central ethical principle of the Gospels, from Matthew 25, that the least of the world should be treated as though they are Jesus Christ. Marlowe’s line about awaiting the conversion of the Jews in his famous poem To His Coy Mistress therefore emerged from the false consciousness of Christendom, the corrupted Roman idea that the Gospels were history. The end of the age will not bring conversion of Jews to Christianity, but rather conversion of Christians to a renewed form of Judaism that recognises the Christian Gospel message as the central ethical story of salvation through love and truth, while seeing how the depraved state of fallen humanity failed to accept the imaginative truth of that story and instead twisted it into a mythical doctrine of imperial security and stability. Empowering Jesus Christ as king of the poor does not imply a communist revolution, but rather a complex open redemptive dialogue, a scientific analysis of how the truth may set us free, and an evolution of culture building upon the rich precedents of Christendom, Judaism and all the deep religious heritage of all humanity.
  4. Thanks for these questions Logical Fallacy. The reference in Joel is to total eclipses of the sun and moon. For the ancient astronomer-priests, total lunar eclipses, which are known as Blood Moons because they turn the moon red as in the recent tetrad, were the primary method to calculate the precession of the equinoxes, which then defined the 'day of the Lord'. The Greek astronomer Hipparchus probably used the Blood Moon of 21 March 135 BC to calculate the speed of precession using Babylonian star records of the position of the equinox by noting the position of Spica, the 'wheat ear' star in Virgo. And then, the Blood Moon at Passover in Jerusalem on 23 March 5 BC appears to be the best explanation of the text at Rev 12, the ‘moon at the foot of the woman’. It vividly illustrated how the heavens had shifted into a new age (of loaves and fishes = Virgo and Pisces) from the Mosaic tradition mentioned by Philo whereby the Passover Moon was always in Libra. I don’t think your “great day” interpretation is quite correct. The “Great Year” or “Platonic Year” is the time for the eternal return of the same, the period of 25771 years (traditional estimate 25920 years) for the equinoxes and solstices to travel right around the zodiac stars. By that measure, a ‘great day’ is the period (71.7 years) that it takes for one degree of precession. A zodiac age is thirty of these ‘great days’, or 2148 years (traditionally 2160). So I don’t think Joel meant one degree of precession but rather thirty degrees, on the basis that he was alluding to the dawn of the Age of Aquarius as the expected time of the second coming of Jesus Christ, as Irenaeus thought, in line with the conventional 7000 year Christian theory of time. There are many fundamentalist tracts that explain this YECist idea, which is actually esoteric allegory for scientific observation of precession by ancient astronomer priests who developed the Platonic Gnostic myth of the incarnation of Christ in the time of Pilate. The relevant text from Irenaeus, citing the day/millennium code from 2 Peter and Psalm 90, is “For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: "Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works." This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year... For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded...and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year...Thus, then, the six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years, and unrighteousness, and wickedness, and false prophecy, and deception. (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 28:2-3; 29:2)
  5. Firstly, it is clear the synoptics are suffused with Platonic thinking, seen in Mark’s whole Noble Lie framework adopted from Plato’s Republic, and how Mark used Homer as a model. The argument that Platonism only entered Christianity after the Synoptics is a gross error founded in traditional Christian dogma. And secondly, the Bible makes no mention of the ‘end of the world’. That phrase is a KJV mistranslation of ‘end of the age’. The post plausible and coherent interpretation of the Biblical concept of the age is the stellar Aeon of Pisces, which will end with the shift of the equinox point into Aquarius. I appreciate it is hard to see that the Gospel writers thought that way when we have had traditional nonsense fed to us, but I am arguing for a paradigm shift that sees the Gospel writers as far smarter and more informed than the tradition imagines. Their priestcraft was grounded in visual astronomy, comparative mythology and Platonic philosophy. End of the world thinking is a degraded corruption of the original vision of a transition between Aeons, and how this transition is expected to produce a paradigm shift, like the shift from the Age of Aries to the Age of Pisces that occurred at the dawn of the common era with the emergence of the Roman Empire and the unifying message of Christianity.
  6. Yes, most of the New Testament is suffused with the common era idea of the syncretism of Greek and Jewish traditions. I am suggesting that such syncretism was actually much more dominant than appears, and that a Greek mystery philosophy based on Platonic idealism had a central role in constructing the Christ story on the model of Plato’s vision of the philosopher king. The common view that the synoptics assumed a swift Parousia is not so simple. Matt 24:14 says that the Gospel will be preached to the whole inhabited earth before the end of the age, indicating a far future Parousia. That coheres with the cosmology that appears to place the second coming at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, seen in the parable of the man with the water jug in the upper room allegory in Luke 22. These statements contradict Matt 16:28, “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”. Both traditions, the orthodox idea of a long delayed Parousia, and the idea of immediate transformation, are present in the synoptics. My view is that the Aquarian vision is the authentic Gnostic Platonic original idea, while the immediate Parousia claim was probably added later for political reasons.
  7. You seem to be asserting here, in your statement “none of it is real” that Christianity has no rational scientific ethical content. I understand that people can see the world that way, but I disagree. Jesus Christ is an allegory for the sun. That is a factual statement, not a fiction. Anthropomorphising the sun in the person of Jesus reflected the real function of the sun as the source of light and life. That process has historically been concealed by the fictional claim that the Gospel account is factual. If we read the Gospels as purely symbolic and imaginary, we are on a better path to finding what is real in Christianity. Sorting fact and fiction in religion is far harder than making the simplistic false claim that religion is all fiction! Yes, that supports the point I am making in this thread, that the historical Jesus is pure fiction, pure imaginative construction. However, the entire point of the construction was logical, to provide a logical explanation of how time connects to eternity, within a popularised framework of Platonic idealism. Therefore, there is a reasonable hypothesis that behind the myth stands an actual reality of time. And when we look to the reality of terrestrial time, explained by astronomy, we find a precise fit with Christology. Your argument conflicts with evolutionary processes in culture, the Darwinian process of descent with modification through cumulative adaptation. Culture is nested in nature, as part of life, so the evolutionary heuristic suggests that building upon precedent is a more realistic approach than creating entirely new ideas as you suggest. The reason this is important with Christianity is that if my argument is correct, reforming Christianity to make it compatible with reason will uncover a concealed meaning that is inherent within Christian origins, an original meaning that was suppressed, forgotten, denied and lost over the millennia of fictional rule. Tradition should be engaged respectfully, even if that means explaining its mistakes and how traditional practices need reform. “Demonstrating” is a scientific term. The correct verb for the Gospels is “asserting”. I completely agree. Christianity emerged from a secret mystery society culture which was suffused with cross-cultural respect, bringing important elements from Greece, including the koine language and Platonic ideas, but also drawing on mythology and cosmology and prophecy from Egypt, Israel, Syria, Babylon and India. tbc
  8. Where I think Acharya’s analysis was superior to that of both Doherty and Carrier is in the intertwined topic of mythology, symbolism and cosmology. Carrier uses the overly clunky language of “Jesus came down from outer space” in his discussion of the cosmology in the Ascension of Isaiah. That is just wrong, because it assumes the ancients imagined the cosmic Jesus as a three dimensional entity able to move through space. However, if we consider how the stars were used in Greek myth, we see that constellations were imagined as symbolising figures such as Hercules, Andromeda, Perseus, etc. But when the story says Andromeda was placed in the sky, it does not at all mean that the constellation Andromeda contains an entity, a 3D woman. No, the figure is imagined in the stars as imprinted on the firmament, which provides a memory jogger. We need to keep that Greek model in mind in analysing the language of cosmic descent and ascent in Bible stories. The presence of Jesus in the stars is the position of the sun against the equinox. Symbolic allegory is central to religious imagination. I recall Carrier and Doherty discussing Paul’s mention of the third heaven, but you might need to remind me of other cosmic references they make outside the Ascension of Isaiah. My experience is that secular atheists find astrotheology repugnant, by and large, and have a sense of disdain towards mythology. Yes, Philo is like a ‘transition fossil’, a missing link. His Logos analysis marks a key stage in the evolution of Greek philosophy into Christian religion. If Plato is analogous to the dinosaur ancestors of birds, Philo is the archaeopteryx and Jesus is the eagle. To which we could add, McDonald’s proof of how Mark used Homer as a template, the role of secret mystery societies, geometry, Plato’s core ideas of love, the good, just, true and beauty, and more controversially, astrology. Plato’s Republic was part of the Nag Hammadi cache, illustrating his centrality to Gnostic Christianity, and supporting my hypothesis of Jesus Christ as Noble Lie. Yes, this all illustrates the extreme difficulty of formulating a plausible story of how Christianity evolved, given that the dominant church story is flagrantly untrue, self-serving, fictional and censored. I would just like if the idea that Jesus “may” not have existed could be accepted by theologians as a thought experiment, a gedank to see if the evidence we have is compatible with that hypothesis, even if it is seen as outlandish and absurd by people who cannot cut the apron strings. Instead of such honest research we instead get this sullen attitude known as totschweigen, a wall of silence no-platform, non-person invisibility of all who question the precious dogma of the literal existence of Jesus. And that is despite the obvious argument that Christianity would become more credible if it engaged in honest dialogue with critics. You are too kind to put me up with Plato in this depiction of world cultural evolution. I prefer to say just that the world needs an open honest dialogue about the deep meaning of Christianity, trying to overcome the intense trauma associated with the triumph of orthodoxy. The process is akin to social psychotherapy, an effort to uncover what has really happened in order to move towards a liberating redemption. The truth will set you free. The world is not at a final point. I am writing a scientific paper on the orbital framework for cultural evolution that addresses this problem of end times thinking. My key point is that the 2148 year-long Age of Pisces provides the main actual terrestrial structure of time, and the Age of Pisces is divided into twelve houses, each 179 years long, based on the overall temporal structure of the solar system encapsulated in the wave function of the solar system centre of mass. This is an argument of pure empirical astronomy, with no astrology. On this empirical frame, we are now reaching the end of the eleventh house of the Age of Pisces. The twelfth house starting in the 2020s is a period of transition over the next two centuries to achieve a scientific assessment of messianic thought in a way able to gain broad acceptance. It will be a slow process. I do think that the entire framework of messianic energy in religion has been so difficult and dangerous to engage with that it is simply bracketed out, but a scientific analysis of the nature of messianic change has to be central to any new religious identity. This is where I find the old idea of the Second Coming so important, as a way of building on precedent, seeing that Jesus came first in imagination as avatar of the Age of Pisces in order to arrive in power as avatar of the Age of Aquarius. Now while I agree with the sentiment, that suggestion of finality is rather like my opinion in 1995 that there would be nowhere to go for computing better than Windows 3.1 and Intel 486. I had not heard of the internet at that time. I prefer that we not talk about a final place for Christianity, since we can hardly imagine how the root of Jesse will continue to evolve as the true vine in the indefinite future. But the immediate apocalyptic problem is global warming, which could suddenly send humans extinct. If we can cross that hurdle then Christianity can become central to a peaceful abundant global civilization.
  9. Hi Josh, thanks, great question. Prayer is a way to articulate your intentions and wishes and hopes in explicit words, openly sharing or formulating what and who is important to you. We should leave out entirely all ideas of prayers being answered. That is not the real purpose of prayer, and such magical thinking is primitive and delusional. Expressing some humility before the deep mystery of the universe, and expressing your hopes and dreams in words, is a way to see prayer as a valuable and practical psychological and social activity. There is extensive literature on the power of positive thinking and the healing power of faith. A key message for psychology is that your attitude and how you express it is central to your achievements. Sporting methods such as envisioning success are a form of prayer. Prayer is a way to cultivate and reinforce a positive attitude of creative visualisation, even if the language used involves symbolic myths as the object of the prayer. It is true that prayer is closely associated with a social conservatism that is anti-rational. So it can be hard to avoid a sense of irony in listening to prayers to an entity that you do not believe in. The fact is that public prayer is a political act, expressing what the congregation present and the person praying consider to be acceptable ideas about what they want to happen and see as important. When prayer is meaningless gobbledegook, it illustrates that the community using such language is deeply confused. The usual point at a funeral is to offer some comfort to the bereaved and a sense that the ceremony has provided an emotionally fitting farewell that helps ease the mourning and grieving process. Now I don’t personally think that funerals should include pious platitudes about the person going to heaven, but it is entirely possible for a well-constructed Christian liturgy to express sentiments that a broad secular audience can find acceptable and even uplifting. Bad religion, promoting magical fantasy, just poisons the well for many who get the impression that all religion is incurably stupid. Your claim that Gnostics believed they were praying to a literal God is not as clear as you suggest. My view on Gnosticism is that the Gnostic movement that came into conflict with orthodoxy in the Christian era included a lot of magical diversity that is not necessarily a good indicator of how Gnostic ideas influenced the earlier production of the Gospels. This comes through clearly in reading of Plato, where his ideas have a rational meaning without magical claims, although Plato is routinely interpreted by hostile critics through caricature. It is only “un-Christian” to reject supernatural belief when we see the degraded orthodox literal tradition as the only form of Christianity, without looking beneath that view to find its rational origins. A good way to explain how prayer can work is to look at The Lord’s Prayer. Here is how I read it, using the traditional version. Our Father, which art in heaven, · Heaven is the natural universe, the stable framework of physical order that enables life on earth. · While a natural vision of Christianity should aim to shift cultural values from patriarchal hierarchy toward a vision of gender equality and respect, there is still value in imagining divinity with both male and female attributes, with the paternal dimension expressed in stable order and the maternal dimension seen in care and nurture, seeing the integration of male and female as a union of sky and earth, order and care, spirit and nature, eternity and time. Hallowed be thy Name. · Humans should respect observation of the natural order of the cosmos as the foundation of systematic understanding, expressing awe and wonder and humility at our complete dependence on the mathematical beauty of the laws of physics that unite earth and heaven in a coherent integrated reality. Thy Kingdom come. · The prayer for the Kingdom of God to reign on earth means the end of the fallen alienated depravity of human culture, transformed into a state of grace. The Biblical vision of the kingdom is seen in core images such as the Last Judgement in Matthew 25 where salvation is described solely in terms of respect for the dignity of those who are excluded from the constructed world of human power, and the Tree of Life, which bookends the Bible in the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem as the image of human reconciliation with natural ecology. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. · The vision here is a transformation of the corrupted human world into a state of grace and love, working towards universal peace and justice as the moral basis of human life · To say the will of God is now done in heaven is a hermetic idea, reflecting the core Platonic idea ‘as above so below’, meaning that the same laws of physics rule on earth as in heaven, but our deluded views have created an artificial separation that is a path to destruction. · Sir Isaac Newton used this hermetic tradition, with its legendary origins in Hermes Trismegistus, as the intellectual basis to discover the law of gravity, overturning the medieval error by proving the same laws apply on earth as in the heavens. The whole universe is a single shared consistent river of time. · Thou art that – tat tvam asi – in the Vedic vision. Give us this day our daily bread. · Our economy should provide the material basis to give people time to reflect on ideas, firstly meeting all simple needs, but then aiming for universal abundance. · The dependence of the economy on nature is a theme often ignored, but is central to understanding real value. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. · The forgiveness of sin is a complex idea, aiming to dissolve trauma through the reconciling power of love and mutual understanding. · However, as Mark says in the baptism story, the Christian idea of forgiveness is conditional upon repentance. Love can be unconditional, merited simply by existence, but forgiveness requires the ability of the person who has done wrong to be sorry, to understand that what they did was wrong and why it was wrong, and to feel empathy and compassion for the suffering caused by the wrong. · The magical literalist tradition that belief in the saving blood of Jesus shed for believers on the cross avails to supply forgiveness for all believers is an insidious and dangerous error. Although the story of the cross has deep symbolic meaning, its use to claim forgiveness for unrepentant wickedness is part of the general psychosis of literal Christianity. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. · Moral clarity about good action requires both freedom of the will and social reinforcement of understanding of what is good. · The world is dominated by evil. The human trauma of alienation from nature has enabled civilization to cut loose from scientific moorings in reality, drifting toward unleashing of the four horsemen, war, death, famine and plague. · There is high risk that with nine billion people on our planet expected this century, and delusional refusal to engage on the dangers of climate change, a great collapse of the world economy through war and epidemic could lead to death and destruction on a scale bigger than has ever happened before. · The prayer to avoid this looming fate requires that human life should cohere with natural law, beginning with the laws of physics and extending to evidence based understanding of moral needs. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen. · Whose is the real kingdom of the earth? In fact, at cosmic scale our planet is a tiny piece of flotsam carried around the galaxy by the sun, a situation which has enabled four billion years of life in a stable protected natural cocoon. · To imagine the human kingdom of the earth can defy the laws of physics is a gross delusion. · As the Buddha taught, delusion is the primary cause of suffering, but delusion can be overcome through enlightenment. · The best analysis of the conventional concept of glory that I have seen is by Lewis Carroll in Through The Looking Glass, where Humpty Dumpty tells Alice that glory means whatever he wants it to, and defines glory as ‘a nice knock-down argument’ that shows who is to be master. But if we want this metaphysical word to have scientific meaning, the traditional use of glory to mean the power of the church to define language and assert its cultural mastery should be radically deconstructed. Prayer focuses our intent on our hopes, concerns, goals and relationships, enabling conscious shared expression of care as the meaning of being. Any mythological language used in prayer should be understood as symbolic, not as invoking divine intervention but as expressing respect for the shared conventional language, while seeing its meaning as entirely natural.
  10. Going back to this earlier comment, I see there are some excellent questions like this one that people have raised that I have not yet responded to directly. I will try to keep working through. There are bas ic philosophical, cultural and psychological factors in the nature of religion that are well worth discussing in terms of why it is important to retain Christianity. At the superficial level, religion is a set of practices involved in belief in a supernatural deity. Such beliefs are not compatible with scientific method and lack intellectual rigour and long term social justification, but they have a long half-life among the ignorant so will inevitably endure for a long time as comforting popular myths. If we look at the nature of religion more deeply, its psychological basis rests partly in a desire to connect our mundane lives with a deeper sense of enduring truth, a stable order providing meaning and purpose. That enduring truth has been imagined in religion in the myths of a higher power, an eternal mind providing creative direction and blessing for human existence, a personal intentional God who cares for humanity. Instead of seeing that principle of order in the universe as God, we can view it through a scientific prism. Then the question of how we can connect to such a universal order shifts from receiving a supernatural revelation from a personal God to how we construct our worldview. Psychological analysis of projection comes into play, seeing the myth of God as a projection of human attributes onto nature, When we convert our idealised visions into belief in God as a real personal entity, the resulting mythology provides comfort without logic. The belief that religion connects us to God links to the etymology of the word religion, which means rebinding, the same ‘lig’ root as ligaments that connect our bones like in Ezekiel’s story of the dry bones. I am interested in how this theme of connection to a shared vision of truth can supply an enduring value for religion. The problem is that a shared vision today means a story acceptable to the secular world, and that in turn means that with the Bible, its literal content should be seen as entirely symbolic. The connection to God through faith is imaginary, not real, but despite this status, faith still has great potential to affect social values. The symbolism in Christianity is especially powerful in connecting humanity to an ultimate reality. Jesus Christ, imagined in logos theology as the enduring stable rationality of reality, puts attributes that earlier religion saw in the sun into human form, seeing Jesus as the source of light, life, stability, power, glory, grace, etc, just like the sun. The sun does in fact connect humanity to the universe through its physical size, containing 99.8% of our solar system’s mass, but such quantitative measures do not help us much with the more metaphysical ideas in religion like glory and grace. Humpty Dumpty’s comment to Alice about glory offers a cautionary warning to the effort to explain what such vague ideas might mean. It appears that Christianity evolved through unconscious displacement of previous mythological reverence for the sun onto a fictional person, Jesus Christ. We can see this solar displacement throughout the Christian faith, in the solar dates of Easter and Christmas as the seasons of the birth of life and light, in the glorious radiant descriptions of Jesus in stories such as the transfiguration, and in the overall solar structure of time in Christian eschatology, with the Biblical concepts of the beginning and end of the age entirely grounded in the astronomy of precession of the equinox, encoding the astronomical observation that the sun enters spring through the constellation of Pisces over the Christian millennia. So why should we retain Christianity without Jesus? First, Jesus has a real problem. He was invented, so to pretend he was real is untrue, and therefore contrary to the Christian ethic of truth. Christianity cannot sustain the combination of commitment to truth and belief in a historical Jesus without overt hypocrisy. Second, despite this problem of invention, the reasons for the invention of Jesus were good and remain important. Christology, the study of Christ, serves to imagine a way that humanity can connect to an ultimate eternal truth about our place in the universe, recognising the value of serious dialogue about the meaning of life. Third, as the world now moves physically out of the Age of Pisces and into the Age of Aquarius, a complete revision of old religious ideas is needed, aiming to transform obsolete ideas into forms that are relevant for today. A Christianity with the dross of historical falsehood refined away provides a more authentic approach located within an empirical cosmology. Fourth, the dominant literal version of Christianity is quite different from the intentions of the Platonic Gnostics who invented Jesus, who could see that the degraded condition of human culture meant an age of imagination, ie the fantasy vision of the church, would need to exist for a long time before the key Gospel values of love, forgiveness, repentance and grace could become a basis for social organisation. Fifth, evolution proceeds by adapting what already exists, so reforming Christianity to cohere with scientific knowledge, recognising all its stories as symbolic rather than literal, offers potential to achieve a coherent moral vision that could repurpose large stagnant institutions. Sixth, the scale of problems facing the world, global warming, conflict, extinction, confusion, insanity, indicate that a scientific eschatology grounded in astronomical knowledge rather than mythological fantasy could make a productive contribution to human survival and flourishing. Seventh, a natural reading of the Bible, seeing the fantasy elements of church belief as evidence of an actual historical fall from grace into corruption, offers a paradigm shift with potential to help uncork the extensive suppressed unconscious and subconscious meaning within Christian faith, revealing the extent to which an accurate natural vision is encoded in fugitive traces in the Bible, and how this natural vision offers potential to develop a coherent integrated systematic philosophy that respects both modern knowledge and the valid content of religion. Yes, true, and further to that, religion is often a cause of indecent and immoral actions, largely due to its political positioning of untrue myths to block efforts to base life on the values of evidence and logic. For religion to be redeemed would require an ability for supporters of religion to look at ethical questions strategically, partly in terms of understanding sustainable incentives and motives for moral action, but also in rejecting the idea that faith involves assent to claims that lack evidence and logic. I don’t think such reform of Christianity is possible while religious institutions remain unconditionally wedded to defence of propositions that a reasonable scepticism can doubt, such as the existence of Jesus. That is blind faith. My view is that the only way Christian religion can shift from being a net source of harm to a source of benefit is to acquire a humility about the corruption surrounding its origins, and be reformed to cohere with evidence and reason, a shift which would then unlock significant moral power within the Gospel message. Paul has a nice line in Romans 12:2, “be not conformed to this world, but be reformed in the newness of your mind.” If the newness of our mind indicates that the literal Gospel is ridiculous as history, then failure to challenge such nonsense involves just the conformism to the world that Paul condemns. The problems of myth within Christianity have something of a tectonic quality, with the conflict between faith and reason like vast subterranean continental plates slowly grinding against each other, steadily building tension until they reach an earth-quaking breaking point. The management of such cultural drifts as the likely aftermath of Christendom has high potential both for damage and for opportunity to create something new and valuable. A scholarly scalpel could be the instrument needed to midwife this seismic shift in perceptions of the meaning of religion, like the straw that broke the camel’s back, offering a path of respect for the heritage of faith while opening dialogue about how it came to be that faith has promoted impudent delusion on such a grand scale.
  11. Thanks for your thoughts True Scotsman. The problem you raise is whether the world would be better off abandoning religion completely. My view is that the evolution of culture can best occur by adapting Christian traditions to jettison their obsolete miraculous literal elements and keep the rational scientific ethical content, like separating the wheat and tares at harvest time. Naturally whether such winnowing is possible is a highly contestable idea. Although your analysis here might seem plausible from evidence, I dispute it. My view is that Platonic philosophy was far more intimately involved in the construction of Christianity than is commonly recognised. The links to Greek culture are already pervasive in John’s Logos theology in the Gospels, so reading that link as a later reform through Fathers such as Origen seems wrong. What was needed to make Christianity respectable for the empire was that its political threat had to be neutered, so that Jesus could serve as a symbol for unity and stability and loyalty, enabling the Christendom alliance of throne and altar. That meant that the use of the Gospels as the entry point to a secret mystery society, teaching ‘parables for the public and wisdom for the initiates’, had to be suppressed. And the simple device to achieve that was, as seen in documents such as the Edict of Thessalonica, to make advocacy and possession of such secret mysteries a capital crime, so that only the safe literal historical Jesus gospel story could be promulgated, with all its revolutionary messianism safely deferred to the next world. The Roman Emperor Constantine transformed Christianity from a force for sedition into a bulwark of stability, based on dogmatic fantasy. My reading of the X in the sky, with its ‘in my name conquer’ myth from the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD, is that this X was the same as explained by Plato more than six centuries earlier in Timaeus. The intersection between the great circles of the celestial equator and the path of the sun, slowly but steadily moving back through the stars, marks the shifts of ages and the structure of time. Constantine, via Eusebius, was recognising that a new astronomical age had dawned, and claiming divine right to rule based on a mandate of heaven, seen in the physical observation of the sky. The Chi-Rho cross, allegedly painted on the victor’s shields, in my view symbolises the movement of the equinox into the constellation of Pisces that occurred in 21 AD, as the sign of Christ. But the violent suppression of astronomy meant this knowledge of the source of the symbol was lost. The New Testament has distinctive valid ethical and epistemic teachings that give Christianity a unique potential as a religious framework able to reform to reconcile with scientific knowledge. The key ethical teaching, that the last will be first in the kingdom of God, can be repurposed as a purely ecological vision, seeing the defence of the defenceless as a core function of state power. My view is that the intellectual framework of Christian origins has largely been lost and has to be reconstructed, eliminating any belief in a historical Jesus and recognising the central role of the astronomy of precession of the equinox in construction of the Christ Myth. That is an approach based on evidence, rejecting any acceptance of traditional authoritarian whimsy. There is a strong argument that pure Buddhism is a philosophy and not a religious affiliation in the denominational dogmatic manner of Christendom. In fact, it seems likely that the Christian monastic tradition was imported from Ashoka’s Buddhist India, so Christianity has essential Buddhist roots in its original high Gnostic philosophy. These origins were uprooted as Christianity was corrupted by politics. I too am utterly a naturalist, but the question of natural religion is how we can connect our mundane earthly reality with a transcendent vision, and do so in a way that coheres with science. The terms Christian and Atheist both hold extensive historical and cultural baggage. Christian connotes acceptance of traditional dogma, while Atheist links to an arrogant secular myth that sees no meaning outside science. And yet I argue that both these terms can be repurposed as essential to a systematic religious vision that is entirely compatible with the modern scientific worldview. This is a complex shift of mindset, and my argument is that it requires a shaking of the foundations, seeing our actual planetary structure of time as the entire framework of meaning for human life, and analysing mythologies against that empirical rational heuristic. I see that as a method best able to challenge all preconceived assumptions. Perhaps some elements of social conservatism have value? The framework of evolution involves building upon precedent, changing what already exists into something new and better able to adapt to circumstance. Analysing the mythological elements of Christian religion should lead to the conclusion that the entire meaning of the Jesus story is symbolic, that any claims of supernatural entities are pure myth, whose real original intent was to popularise aspects of secret Gnostic wisdom. My view is that secret tradition links directly to the rational visions of Greek philosophy, integrated with stories from surrounding cultures whose age alone gives them enduring cultural value, and all understood against the objective universal reality of astronomical observation. Perhaps some people have that heroic individual power, True Scotsman, but shared activity is often essential to reinforce and spread good values and practices. As such, I believe that reform of Christian worship, ritual and prayer can be extremely helpful in encouraging and assisting people to establish routines and practices that will be of personal and social benefit. Literalism has so severely traumatised and degraded Christian belief that such a transformation of the nature of faith is a hard ask. I am calling for a dialogue about how a hypothetical astronomical philosophy could have given rise to the extant facts of Christianity, as a far more plausible account than any attempt to salvage the creaking wreck of Christ historicism with its anomalies, absurdities and moral failings. And yet, in the spirit of the wheat and tares, it should be possible to distinguish between the valuable and the harmful, with the valuable including social practices that provide psychological comfort and shared learning.
  12. Analysing the Christian copying of myth opens difficult problems. Acharya cites Gerald Massey on the extensive parallels between the Gospels and Egyptian myth, and most of this analysis is plausible. However, the process of transmission is often unclear. In studying Christian origins, an analogy I like to use is to consider a field of grass where a forest once stood. Seeing the field with no trees, it is hard to imagine the previous situation. The ancient world was far richer in its cultural traditions and diversity, like an ancient forest, than we can easily see from the rather barren uniformity imposed by the Roman conquests, which famously ‘made a desert and called it peace’. This imperial desert was as much cultural as physical, limiting the ability of different cultures to interact independently, after Rome imposed its hub and spoke trade system. A comparison is with blues music, with the songs that all use the same twelve bar chord pattern. If we imagine a future where somehow the only blues songs surviving from last century were Crossroads by Robert Johnson and The House is a Rockin by Stevie Ray Vaughan, separated by five decades or so, we could infer that the same chord pattern meant Stevie deliberately copied the song. But the reality is that there is a complex genre of music linking them together. The connection between the Gospels and Egyptian myth looks somewhat comparable. I find it compelling, for example, that Lazarus is a copy of Osiris, due to the extensive points of similarity between the myths. This is a good example of deliberate use of an old myth, to enable Osiris to persist into the new age under a different name, recognising that the old myths were subject to various types of suppression. And with Horus, the temptation of Christ in the wilderness uses the template of the war between Horus and Set. However, when this parallel gets simplified, as occurred in the Zeitgeist movie, some of the comparisons are strained. When mythicists engage in polemics against faith, the simplified copying story can itself turn into a new myth, saying that the Gospels are just a rehash of older stories. Like the blues, it is as much possible that themes in the Christ Myth were part of broad cultural genres whose details would have been apparent to people at the time but have now largely been lost. I am not saying there was no copying, more that the actual process is much more complex. The evolution included mutation, with significant change in content as well as the continuity seen in adding new elements. The copying model is just part of a complete view, since there were major innovations in the construction of the Christ Myth as it reused older memes. The key change seems to be the placement of Jesus in history, with the whole Pilate story, which I think was used to time the Jesus story in order to match the observed shift of ages by precession. For Mark to claim all these mythological events in the Gospels actually occurred in a specific historical place and time, recent enough to be known but long enough ago from the time of writing that no one could easily disprove the popular myth, was a decisive mutation from the earlier mythological frameworks. Using the word ‘simply’ in this way can over-simplify the meaning of myths. The meme of virgin birth brings together the continuity of Mary with Isis and other goddesses, the cyclic solar model of a new start to each day and year with Christ as metaphor for dawn and spring, the popular moral combination of chastity and fecundity, the sense of the miraculous, the messianic purity ideal, prophecy, the comparison with kings like Alexander who had such myths told about them, and probably other factors too. Each of these points would have differing popular and priestly resonance, continuing today with divergent views on Mary. The big variance between the synoptics on the birth stories illustrates the complexity. Again I fear that is too simple and even perhaps radical as a rejection of how dogma used the prophecy myth of the young girl giving birth to the messiah. Isaiah is an important part of the mix. Constructing myths is iterative. That means the subsequent versions of Mark’s Gospel, in Luke and Matthew, reflect and incorporate popular and mystery school reaction to Mark’s initial version, adding in birth stories. The overall development of a story that would achieve mass appeal is a bit like popular song, where no one knows what will become a hit. To claim the copying is all conscious seems to neglect how memes can exist in culture without their origins being fully understood by people who use them. Similarities can be unconscious and accidental, reflecting broad genres of belief and culture as much as calculated planning.
  13. Ellinas: “I'm not going to pretend that I've researched all this, so this is largely a sort of initial reaction.” Tulip: Hello Ellinas, I greatly appreciate your thoughtful comments here, as what you have said provides exactly the type of intellectual engagement on the philosophy and sociology of Christian origins that I am looking for. Thank you for your close reading, and I hope you and others will forgive me if I continue my practice of responding to each specific statement. I should explain, basically as far as I know nobody has researched the line of argument I am presenting, an evolutionary astronomical scientific explanation for the emergence of Christianity, so this material is pioneering in uncharted waters. Ellinas: “Firstly, I cannot say that the postulated development of Christianity is wrong.” Tulip: That is an important comment from my point of view, given the Popperian scientific agenda of falsification. If I have not said anything that is readily refuted by factual knowledge, then it means that the postulated development is hypothetically possible. Of course, whether postulated claims that lack overt corroboration are falsifiable is a further question. In my view, in a jigsaw context where much data is missing, such claims should be assessed against the Bayesian methods employed by Richard Carrier in his analysis of Christian origins, to ask which of the rival ideas are more or less probable as explanations of extant facts. Ellinas: “It does, however, strike me as coming into the category of being rather presumptive. Joining the dots and seeing a possible pattern is not the same thing as establishing a historical fact.” Tulip: I think presumptive is too strong a criticism. I am presenting what you have conceded appears to be a possible explanation of Christian origins. As to whether that mere possibility is plausible, persuasive or compelling, there would need to be scholarly engagement. Scholars might have knowledge that would refute the conjecture, again to bring Popper’s method into the frame. The heuristic situation here is that almost the entirety of Christian studies has assumed the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, but if we subject that assumption to radical doubt, using the scientific criteria of logic and evidence, we then encounter a further gaping hole, in the challenge of explaining how such an elaborate fiction could have come into being and been broadly accepted for two millennia. My sense is that a Platonic Gnostic mystery tradition that was aggressively suppressed under Christendom is the most likely explanation for how the Christ Myth was wrongly believed as historical fact. Ellinas: “And, if it is correct that the gnostics interpreted Plato into some new and interesting shapes secretly, or with sufficient economy not to leave clear surviving text, then such an establishment of those facts is probably impossible - as is the capacity to disprove this viewpoint.” Tulip: The issue here is the balance of probabilities. Mythicist analysis has proved to my satisfaction, having read widely on the topic for many years, that Jesus of Nazareth was invented. The absence of any historical time or place details for Jesus in Paul’s epistles is a first marker, the inherently mythological and magical character of the Christ figure is a second, and the coherence with the agenda of Plato’s Noble Lie is a third, to indicate that Judaeo-Hellenic syncretism provides the most plausible critical path for the evolution of the Christ Myth. Ellinas: “My own thoughts are that it seems strange to me that developments of Platonic thought would fix upon a reworking of a small, exclusive cult like Judaism.” Tulip: A constant task in discussing such matters is to see the difference between intentional planned outcomes and accidental evolutionary results. I am not at all arguing that Platonists planned the result of the catholic belief in Jesus of Nazareth as a historical individual. That result, I would argue, completely exploded in their faces, after they tried to construct Jesus as a device to implement the republican agenda of the philosopher kings. Rather, we should interpret the events as a gradual process of memetic evolution, looking for the selective pressures that governed the emerging results. After the conquests of Alexander the Great, one of the first things the Greeks did in Egypt was to invent the cult of Serapis as a modus vivendi between Zeus and Osiris. Greek anthropocentrism could not cope with the Egyptian practice of worshipping animal heads, and Serapis enabled shared worship between newly connected trading partners. My hypothesis is that what you rightly call the “small, exclusive cult” of Judaism was a prickly customer for such syncretism. But a range of factors meant this exclusivity became an advantage, and led to Jewish prophecy, together with Babylonian cosmology, being overlaid on the Serapis Myth to construct Jesus Christ. Evolution occurs by incremental causality in response to selective pressures, with cumulative adaptation building on existing precedent. That process governs all life on earth, with the memetic process of cultural evolution nested within the slow process of genetic evolution. A primary selective pressure leading to the construction of the Christ Myth under the Roman Empire, I suggest, was the popular desire among conquered races for a story that would effectively subvert Roman rule by denying its moral legitimacy. Roman power had showed by the mid second century that military defiance was not feasible. And yet, Alexandria existed as a great melting pot, the second city of empire, home to a big Jewish diaspora as well as Greeks and Egyptians. In this context, the messianic prophecies in books such as Isaiah and Daniel were readily combined with the existing Serapis story to serve the practical agenda of sedition, led by secretive philosopher kings, through the promulgation of Mark’s Gospel and its later variants as a historizing of Paul’s celestial Christ. But Rome was not defeated by the mystic plot. The empire in turn subverted the Christ Myth by making literal belief compulsory. Constantine neutered Jesus as a vehicle for imperial stability and unity in the Nicene Creed and the subsequent Christendom fantasies, in effect by using Jesus to anthropomorphise the previous stability myth of Sol Invictus. Ellinas: “It is arguable that the classical world, at this point, was already moving towards some sort of monotheism.” Tulip: Yes, exactly. The nature of the common era, bringing hitherto separate religions into communion, meant the whole empire needed a shared framework of belief to instil unity against the threats of barbarian invasion. Religion, in its memetic evolution, is primarily about military security. Against the central criteria of evolutionary success defined by Richard Dawkins, where stable, durable and fecund genes are the victors, social views that deliver enduring military security prove more adaptive than those that don’t. Rome first tried replacing Jupiter with the invincible sun as a monotheistic symbol of stability and unity, but the pitiless nature of the sun failed to prick the popular or imperial conscience in the way the Christian passion narrative could. By converting the sun into a symbol of the stone the builder refused, Jesus Christ, the empire achieved a purportedly compassionate monotheism in a way that proved able to mobilise popular support. A further thought on the centrality of Israel. Its geographical position at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe provided material conditions and impetus for the prophetic monotheist vision that the Old Testament claimed as its basis for salvation. As a small country that placed its hope for security on an ethical vision of God that would enable peace with great powers, the meme of exclusionary Yahwist patriarchy served as a useful forerunner for the abolition of paganism under Christendom. Ellinas: “Hints of that may be seen already in the viewpoints that Plato ascribes to Socrates, who may (if I remember correctly - I've not double checked) speak of "the god" in ways that are suggestive of at least some sympathy towards a monotheistic ideal, and whose focus on virtue (which I will adopt for present purposes as near enough translation of αρετή) certainly has a moral quality not easily identified within hellenic mythology.” Tulip: Yes, there is a long tradition of Christian Platonism that sees Plato as a believer avant la lettre, before the letter. The Christian Logos theology is readily seen in Platonic idealism with its core themes of the good, truth, love, beauty. Monotheism resonates especially in Parmenides’ myth of the one, seeing space-time as an eternal stable unity, and in the sayings of Heraclitus that see Logos as the shared rationality at the source of everything. I have seen αρετή translated as excellence, a meaning closer to individual skill than the ethical goodness associated with virtue. Ellinas: “Anyhow, to my mind, that monotheistic and ethical ideal would likely have had wider appeal had it been linked to a cult such as Cybele or even knitted into that of Isis and Serapis.” Tulip: Greek ethical visions were knitted into the cult of Isis and Serapis! That was a first step in the Hellenistic Age towards a universal philosophy able to speak to the common man and woman, a result achieved only when Serapis was subsequently humanised and historized in Mark’s Gospel through the addition of the wonderful cosmogony of the Hebrews. Comparing the Anatolian Cybele ecstatic Great Mother with Jesus Christ, I wonder if the military memetic heuristic I have suggested indicates that even if Cybele or Isis were popular, they lacked the gravitas that enabled the imagined Jesus to unify the empire. Ellinas: “Mithras was probably a non-starter due to its' exclusion of females.” Tulip: Elements of Mithraism appear to have survived such as the bishop’s mitre and the masonic handshake. The puritanical mindset of the early church rejected the intimate link between paganism, astrology and Mithraism. Material essential to the construction of the Christ Myth was relegated to symbolic coded status, as the church kicked away the ladder after climbing it. Mandorlas of Christ in Majesty are clearly evolved from pagan/Mithraic astrological icons of Phanes and Aion, especially with the four living creatures representing the four corners of the visible heavens. Ellinas: “ The δωδεκάθεοι even could have been a vehicle, though the need to modify a highly ingrained ritualised religion may have made it a tall order for reform. .” Tulip: Again, my interest is to set this material within a realistic evolutionary theory of change to explain what actually happened in history. It was less a matter of anyone consciously deciding on a mythological format than the fact that Christianity obtained social traction, which means that Christianity resonated with an imperial world in ways the Olympian Gods did not. The historical questions are why and how this occurred. I think a big part of the attraction of Christianity was its incorporation of Judaism, with its ancient claims of an Exodus liberation story, its exclusive monotheism, its ability to portray the prophetic tradition as miraculous, and the role of Jesus as an everyman universal saviour. Ellinas: “But pulling Plato and Judaism together does not strike me as the obvious route to take - Judaism was too much a minority interest.” Tulip: Again your comment places deliberate intent above memetic evolution as the primary driver of culture in history. The popular social resonance of the Old Testament as prophecy for Jesus, together with its wisdom teachings and universal creation myth, outweighed the unpopularity of Judaism. Israel is physically at the meeting point of east and west, north and south, so portrayals of it as some obscure backwater are Eurocentric. There is a sense in which Christianity, in its original Gnostic forms, aimed at the spiritual conquest of the west by the east, for example with its links to the Buddhist origins of monasticism and Plato’s recognition of the greater depth of eastern wisdom. It is ironic that later in colonial days Christianity became associated with the conquest of the east by the west. Ellinas: “Again, it is arguable that the 2nd/3rd Century Chaldean Oracles present Hekate in a role that has some reflection in the ideas of mediatorial activity, which may indicate another possible line the gnostics could have tried.” Tulip: Nice to bring in all these alternative comparisons. Christianity dips its lid to Persia with the wise men and the use of Babylonian ideas in Revelation and Isaiah. You mention here a key point in cultural evolution, the idea of the mediator. In serving as the mediator between earth and heaven, time and eternity, man and God, flesh and spirit, the Christ Myth also enabled a social mediation between east and west. We can well imagine that Gnostics tried to advance all of the lines you mention, Hekate, Mithras, Cybele, Olympus, etc, like a veritable Cambrian Explosion of experimental religion. But just as the tetrapod body form won through in the Devonian, after all the weird and wonderful forms of the Cambrian had gone by the wayside, so too Christianity fought the good fight and outran the others in the adaptive race due to its evolutionary efficiency. My sense is that analysing this adaptive efficiency requires explaining how Christianity built upon precedent causes, and that is where the hypothesis of a forgotten Platonic Gnostic mystery group seems an elegant and parsimonious solution. Ellinas: “By then the rise of orthodox Christianity may have had the momentum to prevent any alternative, however.” Tulip: The most powerful myth in Christianity seems to have been that the events described in the Gospels actually happened in history. I found it fascinating in reading some of the early church Fathers, notably Ignatius of Antioch, how violently they emphasise the teaching from the Epistles of John that Jesus was real and not fake. As Gertrude said, methinks they protest too much. Ellinas: “My second thought, or set of thoughts, is that I see little mileage in the discussion over the mythological or real nature of "Jesus"” Tulip: Well as they say, YMMV. I think there is a lot of mileage. In fact, I think that recognising that Jesus was invented will be decisive in enabling a new Christian reformation to reconcile faith and reason, to see that the dominant culture getting suckered in to the biggest fantasy in all history was the decisive proof of the fall from grace into corruption. As Mark said in the baptism scene, you have to be sorry before you can be forgiven. You can only be sorry if you understand why your action was wrong, and in this case the escape from the error of Christian literalism is an essential basis to climb out of the hole of delusion towards a rational evidence based understanding of reality. Ellinas: “Nazareth may or may not have existed as a town; it may have been little more than a term applied to a region where there were a few farms hardly sufficient to describe as a village.” Tulip: The presence of tombs in places they should not be is a first proof that Nazareth was invented as a Potemkin Village as part of the propaganda construction of Christendom in the grand tour of the Holy Land by Empress Helena in the fourth century. Then there is the small matter that Saint Luke mentions a synagogue and hill which simply did not exist. If the synagogue was real then Josephus of Galilee would have mentioned Nazareth in his list of the towns of Galilee. He did not because the town was only named after the INRI title of Jesus, not Jesus after the town, as cover for Gnostic Nazarites, with their true vine myth from Isaiah 11:1 – “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” The Branch here is Netser, the origin of Nazareth. Ellinas: “However, there were, I have little doubt, any number of persons in 1st century Palestine called Yeshua Ben Yusuf.” Tulip: So what? The source of the Christ Myth is the historizing of the syncretised myth of the incarnation of the eternal logos. The name Christ Jesus just means Anointed Saviour. Since Jesus did not exist it was necessary to invent him, as Voltaire said of God. Ellinas: “Whether any of them was a wandering religious/political activist upon whom future stories could be hung is anyone's guess.” Tulip: It makes little sense to see the Gospels as hanging the idea of the pre-existent king of the universe like an albatross around the neck of some random unknown itinerant. The stories make far better sense as starting from the universal and eternal mythic vision, and then developing a Noble Lie, inventing Jesus by blending many plausible human stories as the means for a secret Platonic Gnostic society of would-be philosopher kings to try their hand at social engineering. The gospels are myth historicised, not history mythified. Ellinas: “Equally, whether those future stories had their origin in Plato and gnosticism is a matter of monumental indifference to the question of whether Christianity can be reformed so as to exclude the idea of a literal person and concentrate on the ethical structures. .” Tulip: I absolutely disagree with you on this point Ellinas. The ability to reform Christianity depends essentially on the ability to transform the current curate’s egg of faith into a persuasive worldview. And for that, theology needs to be able to provide a persuasive story of how it came to be that the world was hoodwinked on such comprehensive scale. I find that a completely fascinating problem, and far from indicating an abyss of nothingness for faith to collapse into, in a despair of anxiety, the recognition that being does not take the form of a pre-existent Logos descending to earth to become an individual is actually empowering and liberating, creating some space for honesty and reflective consideration of the meaning and purpose of faith and for some humility around the psychology and sociology of religion. Ellinas: “And that, it seems to me, really is the nub of the issue here. In order to achieve a widely accepted form of atheistic Christianity (and I will assume, for now, that is a desirable concept rather than simply "atheism" or some other terminology) the issue is not going to be one of more or less speculative arguments from a possible past, but of the value of a formulation relevant for the present and future.” Tulip: If origin stories remain at the level of vague speculation, then an atheistic Christianity has no future. I think it is important that having abandoned the literal Jesus, the church or at least theologians engage rigorously with the vexed problem of how and why people came to believe in Jesus as a historical individual. Any formulation relevant today will still have to retain a Christology, a vision of the presence of eternal values within mundane reality, and what this presence looks like in moral and political terms. Atheistic Christianity is desirable because making Christianity relevant means engaging honestly and openly on the atheistic core values of evidence and logic, to make faith a contestable proposition rather than a mere statement of traditional belief. Ellinas: “The discussion is interesting enough in itself but, to many looking for some form of outlook to give their ethical compass some structure, it's liable to seem exhausting at best and impenetrable at worst.” Tulip: I think what we are seeing for religion is a transformation of ideas about what is real. Describing Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit as entities misses the original intended meaning, that these stories are symbolic ways of explaining reality. Religion has long fallen into the comforting myth of reification, turning fantasy into claims of reality, with no more basis than the fact people have believed these stories for a long time and find them pleasant and useful. Yes, shifting from simplistic myths to coherent explanations, for example to seeing stories of God as symbolising the real order of the cosmos and world, is difficult but possible. As I mentioned earlier, the astronomy of long term climate cycles is a good starting point. Unfortunately, I constantly find that public ignorance on this is massive, even though it should be a central area of popular science, providing objectives foundations to explain the fundamental structure of reality for our planet. This is a simple claim about truth, but there is broad lack of interest in what I see as the key theme of the orbital mechanics of climate patterns. The Milankovitch cycles are as big a paradigm shift as plate tectonics, Hubble’s discovery of other galaxies, Darwinian evolution and other major scientific revelations. Ellinas: “The advantage that orthodox Christianity enjoys is simplicity - if anything, too much simplicity, as it only remains so if you don't think about it too hard.” Tulip: Noah’s Ark and the Virgin Birth are stories for simpletons, but both contain great depths of complex meaning as long as we exclude the miraculous. Ellinas: “It's the inherent pointlessness of the supernaturalist viewpoint, and the inherent worth of ethics that can be formulated on the back of Christianity, that is the issue for you, not whether Christianity arose from some ancient philosophical free-wheeling. That will be a minority interest at most, I would have thought.” Tulip: My response here is grounded in my thinking about reality. I hold to several simple axioms about reality. These include that the physical universe really exists as largely described by modern science, that reality obeys consistent coherent mathematical laws, and that human flourishing is good. Calling these statements axioms means I consider them to be self-evidently true, and cannot imagine a coherent conversation with anyone who disputes any of them. Unfortunately, traditional Christian theories of the miraculous reject the coherence of reality, so are outside the frame of coherent conversation. The reason I set out this axiology is that it seems to me to be consistent with an atheist reading of the Bible, while also being consistent with the symbolic Christology that imagines Christ as cosmic mediator based in ancient observation of precession. Saying flourishing is good enables a teleology, with the idea that human extinction would be a bad thing. The evolutionary ethical system that I try to build upon Christianity involves the idea that natural complexity is inherently good, especially as seen in biodiversity. Your term “free-wheeling” seems slightly insouciant as a description of Platonic philosophy, even if that is a popular image of the Socratic method. I would rather suggest a highly serious long term agenda to implement the ideas about the rule of philosophy from Plato’s Republic, seeking to engage constructively with other cultural traditions and finding popular traction with the idea of Jesus Christ as the incarnation of the good. Ellinas: “So, power to your elbow if you wish to try to reformulate Christianity into something non-toxic, but I'm not sure that unprovable reformulations of the distant past are the way to go.” Tulip: Part of the problem with the scientific worldview, and with its dominant myth that there is no meaning outside science, is an overly narrow view of empirical proof as the criterion of truth. The historical criterion of balance of probabilities is more realistic as a method where data is fragmentary. On your suggestion about the distant past, part of the problem in recognising the importance of astronomy in theories of reality is the recognition that 2000 years is the tiniest blip against the majestic temporal and spatial scale of Big Bang cosmology. So if we develop a scientific understanding of God as metaphor for the orderliness of the universe, explaining cultural evolution does in fact provide a useful insight, as a helpful way to study long term trends that affect society today. Ellinas: “Speaking for myself, as neither an atheist nor a Christian, and as someone who found no real alternative to dropping out of the Christian fold altogether, I'm unconvinced that maintaining a link to Christian terminology will be of help - I tend to share Josh's reservations on that.” Tulip: My own take on Christianity started from the observation of the correlation between Jesus Christ as alpha and omega and the physical movement of the sun to begin the vernal year in Pisces from the time Christ allegedly lived. This is a simple scientific observation that most people somehow find hard to grasp. The fact that ancient Greeks and almost certainly Babylonian astronomers knew of this measure of the slow turning of the stars against the seasons well for a long time beforehand should be factored in to our assessment of how Christianity evolved. This celestial framework of the precession of the equinoxes creates a beautiful picture of the time of Christ imagined as a harmony between earth and heaven that suggests depths of meaning in the Christian story that have been covered over by the political literalism of the church. Ellinas: “I hope none of that came over as unnecessarily critical or negative.” Tulip: Far from it, I found your comments constructive, sensible and well informed and warmly welcome them. Naturally the hypothesis I am presenting is new, so deserves a good dose of doubt, but I hope to be able to find answers for any questions.
  14. Hi Josh, thanks again for such good follow up discussion. Although I wonder if anyone else takes any notice of such issues. I remember Acharya agreeing with me that trying to talk to people about her book Christ In Egypt was like banging her head against a brick wall, since people bring so many assumptions to these topics. There are alarm bells associated with astral interpretation of Biblical symbols which pose risks of making others tune out. I would be interested to know if anyone else reads this conversation and if it makes sense or not to them. I can’t tell if I am bringing assumptions that jump too fast for readers unfamiliar with these topics, as it mystifies me why things that seem important to me do not generate any traction or debate or even questions. Once again I will make my comments in Word using initials, as I still can’t see the syntax of this site even after looking. JP: You've had some interesting diagrams from astronomy programs that outline some of these points. Are you able to post those here? RT: I have made quite a few diagrams. Here is a three minute youtube on precession and myth that I made just by holding my phone in front of my laptop to show the movement of the spring point over 7000 years using astronomy software, and reading a summary I wrote of the mythology framework of precession. Sorry it is so wobbly but I did not have a better way to make it at the time. I would make a more professional version if anyone was interested in these topics. A good source to visualise the big picture of this orbital framework is from this Orbital Climate Chart. The bottom line in this graph is insolation, the amount of light hitting the earth at 65° North in summer. This line goes up and down every ten thousand years with precession, modulated by other orbital factors, causing the closely correlated shape of the temperature line, and the feedback loops into CO2, oxygen 18 and other measures which all change in synch. The earth basically gets warmer and cooler every 20,000 years following the cycles of which northern season occurs when the earth is closest to the sun. This wave function is called the season of perihelion, and is mainly a function of precession of the equinoxes, as the main driver of glaciation. The chart was created by analysing trapped air in ice cores from Antarctica over 400,000 years. JP: How many Platonic "Great Years" have happened over the course of history and so on. Illustrations of how the wobble of the earth's axis drives the glaciation cycles, and therefore how life has evolved and adapted during the course of all of this natural climate change. RT: That is covered in the Orbital Climate Chart I linked above. There are about 40 Great Years every million years. So all of recorded history since the dawn of writing is a quarter of one Great Year. When you think that life on earth has evolved over four billion years (chart) and these big orbital patterns have been fairly stable over that whole time, through more than 200,000 Great Years, it puts history into biological evolutionary perspective. The astronomy of the Great Year makes the hypothesis that there could be systemic differences between the maxima and minima of this big climate cycle worth pursuing. The climatic maxima appear to equate to the Golden Ages and the minima equate to the Iron Ages in the Vedic Yuga framework that encompasses western mythology. JP: The main reason I've engaged this subject is because I had found my way to Robert Bauval and others who were doing work on ancient Egypt and their attention to building monoliths to scale according to celestial reference points. That and my earlier interest as a boy in the mysteries of Stone Henge and other monolithic sites that are clearly oriented to celestial observation. Discovering the connections between celestial observation and ancient myth making made a lot of sense to me. RT: Bauval and Hancock have done some interesting analysis on the Egyptian First Time known as Zep Tepi, seeing it as the dawn of the Holocene in the Age of Leo, and as the Golden Age. When Leo was at the spring equinox about ten thousand years ago, Vega was the northern pole star. The whole process of Vega getting knocked off the pole seems to be behind the cosmic mill idea that the book Hamlet’s Mill analyses in Finnish epics. JP: Of interest to others is how something like the Christ Myth debate has spawned such a thing as your perspective about christianity without Jesus. RT: Well I hope it might be of interest to others, but I see no evidence of that. The memetic evolution of the Christ Myth as a process of fictional imagination and popular social resonance provides a far more parsimonious and elegant hypothesis to explain all the available facts than any Historical Jesus claim does. The astronomical model of precession, seeing Jesus as metaphor for the sun, can retain the pre-existent Logos cosmology and therefore can retain the essence of trinitarian theology in a purely scientific framework. Recognising that Jesus was invented builds on the Calvinist theory of the total depravity of human existence, seeing the psychology of the belief in the literal Jesus as a primary symptom of the fall from grace into corruption. JP: That's sounds pretty wild, but it does make sense that christians are facing a huge issue about Jesus' supposed historical existence. At the minimum the debate itself has shown just how far out of touch the gospels really were with the supposed events. I grew up thinking that everything down to the crucifixion was well documented by contemporary sources. I just assumed there had always been well written records in Rome about it. The only thing that I thought was in question was whether or not Jesus rose from the grave. Seriously, the way teachers and preachers had spoken of this, I had no idea whatsoever the reality of the situation. I had no idea that there's literally zero contemporary source evidence. Or that the gospels were written as late as they were, perhaps even into the 2nd century which I now think has good probability. RT: The phrase “Gospel Truth” shows how severely church politics has corrupted popular understanding of Christian origins. The only 'Gospel Truth' is symbolic, not literal. Christendom is over, and any future relevance for Christianity will require faith to engage with science. JP: What's happened is that it's become popular now to have at least some working understanding of how the academic analysis breaks down, from blind believers, to liberal theologians, to agnostic and atheistic academics and the mythicist camp. It's created a situation where the full scope of the debate is now on people's radar. All of the voices from debate are more or less heard. As a kid in the pre internet, pre smart phone world, I had not a clue about any of this. Nowadays, that's not the case. Believer's face opposition around every corner, at every comment they make on social media, forums, etc. They can not speak of Jesus or christianity without having to face opposition and challenge every step of the way. That's the situation world wide. They are met with either Evemerist or Mythicist responses all the time now. RT: The evolutionary shift from belief to knowledge as the primary heuristic of truth involves a shift from reliance on imagined divine revelation to a primacy of evidence and logic. So even Creationists attempt to justify their fantasies by evidence. But that effort rapidly collapses under the need for logical coherence. So the only resolution is via the recognition that myths are symbolic in their meaning, not literal. But the core myth of Christendom, based on the Gospel romance, was that the events described actually happened. This myth built on the same Jewish myth applied to the Exodus, that it really occurred, and is entirely untenable against evidence. I think you are exaggerating the social problems facing Christian believers. My perception is that rational analysis of Biblical origins still only has pariah status, as Christians only speak to each other and ignore the real world. JP: It's to the point of what does it matter if any aspect of the Christ Myth ever was historical? RT: It does matter, because the hypothesis of total invention of Jesus has greater explanatory power than any historical Jesus theory. The invention hypothesis opens the way to modelling how Gnostic Platonic mystery schools could plausibly have enabled a Jewish imagination of Jesus Christ as the ‘one for all’ per Heb 10:12, sublimating the trauma of Roman conquest of Israel onto a single imagined messiah whose blood avails for all. The rival hypothesis, retaining any historical aspect, deflects attention from the actual historical evidence of probable Gnostic origins. I like to think of this against the framework that Kant called transcendental imagination. JP: Part of the thrust of knowledge in the modern world is understanding that the spiritual aspects have nothing to do with believing these myths as history. The spiritual parts are the parts that come from the ancient solar mysteries, Platonism, Gnosticism, etc. They have to do with metaphor, allegory, and symbolism, not believing that these myths are real history. That's what I see as the final straw that breaks the camel’s back in terms of orthodox christian reasoning as we go into the Aquarian age. I often look at the news these days and think to myself that it's all so very predictable, the fact that turmoils have been rising like they have. Or at least the media's sense of wanting to promote those perceptions. The whole thing. The ridiculous right wing Neo-Nazi camp versus the ridiculous and extreme fringe liberals bickering and battling back and forth. The age cusps are traditionally times of upheaval like this, and kind of ridiculous just like this. What a coincidence that we're facing all of this now as we're going into such a time frame. RT: This phrase “spiritual aspects” is ambiguous. The Aquarian Age knowledge heuristic has a different take on what spiritual means from the Piscean Age belief framework. Popular religion in the old age imagined God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as entities, but these conceptions are entirely false. The way I see a new age trinitarian vision is that God is the framework of natural order, Jesus is how that framework interacts with history, and the Spirit is the presence of truth in the world. Whitehead’s process theology is helpful to ‘de-entify’ the trinity, separating spirituality from traditional Christian supernatural myth. The philosopher Martin Heidegger usefully presented this trinitarian framework of nature, reason and truth in his atheistic book An Introduction to Metaphysics. JP: Robert, in my thinking it's not just the natural climate changes which can potentially trigger social changes, but intentional manipulation by human beings into social matters which bring about the sort of things we're seeing now. With much of the worlds elite involved in fraternal oriented mystical groups and what not, I find it no coincidence that social issues have more or less modeled the old esoteric world view models, like the Platonic Great Year. There may be many contributing factors involved. What originally put me onto that scent is a line from Robert Bauval about the possibility of an academy of men in ancient times who were manipulating other men and events according to the celestial time table. That set off a light bulb. And I looked at that running through history, from one form of esoteric group to another right down to the present day. RT: That mostly makes sense to me, except that in this astrophysical framework of orbital memetics the human manipulation is entirely contained within the natural climate changes. Comparing time to a river, seeing human intentions as the cause of historical events is like saying an eddy is caused by a rock in the stream, while seeing natural orbital climate cycles as the cause of events is like saying the eddy is caused by the overall river geology. Both are true, but the geology operates on a bigger framework of reality that encompasses the specifics of the shape of the stream. Your mention of the Academy is exactly what I said earlier about Plato. His school was called the Academy, and he said that philosophers should rule the world by inventing a Noble Lie for the masses to believe based on the myth of the Golden Age and the Iron Age. That is all in his book The Republic which remains the most popular work of ancient philosophy. My view is that Plato founded Gnosticism as a secret philosophical society, and that Mark’s Gospel aimed to use this Noble Lie method to establish Gnostic philosopher kings, but the real kings (the Roman Emperors) saw the Gospel Gnostics as seditious and killed them off and suppressed their ideas. But the beautiful story the Gnostic Platonists invented of Jesus Christ was so resonant and popular that it became the dominant myth of the western world. A big part of this popularity derived from how the Platonists used the cosmology of precession of the equinox as the framework to invent the story of Jesus Christ.
  15. JP: We've seen christians flatly deny the astrotheology of the bible, tooth and nail. And then, after several years of hot debate, I began seeing christians trying to silently accept astrotheology but in an attempt to make their own sense of it. And by christians I mean the run of the mill fundies: RT: I don’t much engage fundamentalists on such topics. The symbolic explanation of Biblical texts is so clearly superior that I have no patience for people who insist they are literal. All alleged miracles are actually parables. Even so, I do admire your persistence in dripping water on such granite surfaces to erode their resistance. Perhaps a better metaphor for the debate between mythicism and fundamentalism is global warming in Greenland and Antarctica, where the steady undermining of ice shelfs by the warming seas is causing their sudden collapse. Mythicism and astrotheology are sapping the foundations of fundamentalist belief, through moves toward a coherent explication of a new paradigm. I still don’t think though that the new paradigm has been adequately presented in full, given the splits within mythicism over astrotheology and other deep philosophical questions and the need to provide a compelling scientific explanation for how Christianity evolved without Jesus. So I think the more important audience is the scholarly community, to expand the peer reviewed discussion of astrotheology. JP: Now obviously the guy [in the video] is way, way off in terms of comprehending what the astrotheology alludes to. But it goes to show something in the way of a cultural evolution that we've seen unfold in real time. They've flatly rejected astrotheology, and then tried accepting on their own terms, in their own way. Now of course it was all wrong and the astrotheology of the bible doesn't point to any literal rapture, nor any literal prophecies to the creation of Israel or the immediate time we live in. It only roughly outlines the Great Year and particularly the four darkest ages at the bottom of the Great Year cycle.... RT: To point to a tension within your comment, you note the four darkest ages at the bottom of the Great Year cycle. Other readers may not realise this is a purely scientific observation. The 7000 years of the traditional Christian theory of time from Young Earth Creationism represent the zodiac ages of Taurus, Aries, Pisces and half of Aquarius, encoded in the times, time and half a time tribulation framework. This is also the part of the Great Year when solar insolation to the Northern Hemisphere is lowest, which generally is the cause of ice ages, hence your point about the four darkest ages. But the ancients could only see that scientific framework through a glass darkly. The astral framework of the zodiac ages, readily imaginable to ancient astronomy, involves a metaphor based on the day/millennium code of Psalm 90 and 2 Peter that the seven days of creation map to the 7000 years of time. That means the six days are the Ages of Taurus, Aries and Pisces, and the Sabbath Day of rest in Genesis equates to the first half of the Age of Aquarius as an imagined period of global recovery. Now, if this Zodiac Age structure was a deliberate Gnostic Platonic cosmology that informed the construction of the Christ Myth in the Gospels and Revelation, then it means they thought about the Second Coming as the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, hence the ‘end of the age’ references throughout the Bible mean the end of the Age of Pisces. The Olivet claim in Matt 24, that the appearance on the clouds of heaven of the Son of Man would only happen after the Gospel of the Kingdom had been preached to the whole inhabited earth, points to the idea of the Pisces/Aquarius age cusp, as imagining a future global human civilization where the whole earth is connected, something that has happened only recently. So there is a meaningful sense in which the Christ Myth does contain prophecies about our current situation, although these are in the general terms of the global rule of Christ rather than specifics. The structure of the myth which could readily have been conceptualised by ancient Platonic Gnostic astronomers is that the Age of Pisces is a time of belief that primes the pump for the Age of Aquarius as a time of knowledge. JP: So perhaps down the road, in the wake of what's happening now, some christians may be receptive to newer perspectives. After enough of these outlined fundamentalist failures keep happening. In the process many christians are now receptive to the astrotheology of the bible, in their own baby steps type of ways. And they're becoming more aware of the debate about Jesus' historical existence via social media and the internet and have to try and adapt to the changing landscape as far as that goes. RT: It is a shame that the discussion on the existence of Jesus is mainly restricted to the internet, despite the efforts of authors such as Murdock, Carrier, Brodie, Doherty, etc. I suspect the lack of academic interest in the Christ Myth Theory and Astrotheology is a key reason for a lack of traction in broader society through the media. Again that is just down to the failure of anyone to present a persuasive new paradigm that demands broader discussion, although there are many tantalizing pieces of the Jesus Puzzle, to use Earl Doherty’s perceptive book title. JP: But let's face it. The one thing here that really determines who'll be receptive to what, still has to do with the afterlife. The astrotheology of the ancients did include some type of conception of the human soul and its journey through the planetary spheres, as outlined in many lectures by Manly P Hall on the astrotheology of the ancients. So while they were crafting religion around observations of the heavens, they were also supernaturalists at the same time. What they were allegorizing isn't anything that christians understand today, but it was afterlife oriented regardless. RT: That is an interesting point. Views on the afterlife are worth considering against Plato’s theory of the transmigration of the soul, with the link to his idea of the return of the soul to its companion star in the Milky Way. My view is that such ideas operate mainly at the level of comforting popular fantasy. There is an inherent supernaturalism in popular myths of heaven. I prefer to discuss heaven as the idea of what earth could become. JP: What you're talking about is something new altogether, Robert. RT: Over the years you are almost the only person I have spoken to who has engaged on the new scientific paradigm I am describing. I call it Orbital Memetics, using astronomy as the basis to explain the evolution of mythology, especially Christianity. Rigorous scientific analysis of the earth’s astronomical movements explains the real framework for climate, and hence the framework for evolution of both genes and memes, all of which sit within stable durable climate patterns. The Christian myth of fall occupies exactly the same stretch of time as the climatic season of fall, 5000 BC to 1246 AD. The climate period of fall is defined as when the perihelion moved from the September equinox to the December solstice. This is a simple correlation between science and myth that I have not been able to get anyone much except you to discuss. There is a simple diagram showing the climate fall period on the Wikipedia article on Milankovitch Cycles, titled Effects of Precession on the Seasons. That correlation provides the basis for explaining why the authors of the Christ Myth would have imagined Jesus as the presence of the Golden Age in the Midst of the Iron Age. JP: You're talking about a type of liberal oriented christianity set to an appreciation of the ancient high cultures and high philosophies that were utilized in the making and evolving process of christianity from what I'm seeing. And doing so from a naturalist perspective. You're looking at a type of reformation that would make christians, for lack of a better word, "spiritual atheists." Naturalists who retain a spiritual view about nature and cosmos and interpret scripture as myth, allegory, and metaphor. Something that blends monotheism with the pantheisms. But retains a christian label. RT: That natural philosophy is all why I call myself a Christian atheist. Science is inherently atheistic, and provides the foundations of true systematic understanding of reality. Therefore any rejection of science is unreal and as a result unethical. Supernatural concepts are completely unscientific and mythological, but science can explain the real meaning of myth in the memetic framework of the evolution of ideas under the selective pressure of long term natural climate change driven by orbital mechanics. I view God as a metaphor for the natural order of the cosmos, the durable stable scientific patterns that have enabled life on earth. In this scientific model, Jesus then becomes the imagined presence of God on earth, which the ancients could readily see in terms of the precession. The Aries/Pisces Age cusp in 21 AD was a moment of pure harmony of the spheres, when the seasons and signs perfectly matched. That is the entire basis of the Chi Rho Cross symbol as the myth of incarnation. Inability to see this cosmic framework, with apologies to readers who may not be familiar with these concepts, shows the depraved amnesia of Christianity. JP: That's something very interesting to consider. For one thing, it serves to further demolish fundamentalism. And bridges the gap between theists and atheists ever further. In a lot of ways I think that if christianity is to survive it will have to find ways of getting on board with logic, reason, and the higher ranges of human philosophical and spiritual oriented thinking. It's currently very low rung in those respects. Which is why so many people are leaving it. RT: All true. Fundamentalism is a toxic danger, a deliberately delusional ideology that enables rejection of the modern values of evidence and logic in favour of outmoded traditional authority. Fundamentalism uses the Bible to support unconscious social values to entrench highly unethical social structures and policies. But Christianity contains the germ of its own redemption in its Gnostic Platonic origins, seeing the symbols of faith as metaphors for natural processes.
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