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22 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

Sure, and I acknowledge they were both there, but the question is to thread the line through all the various beliefs to determine which ones were decisive in constructing Christianity as the ultimately victorious ideology.  My view is that the popular personal salvation line was all about emotion and lacked intellectual content.  It panders to the emotional question ‘do you want to go to heaven or hell?’  By contrast, to say Christianity originated with a theory of planetary salvation, using the astronomy of precession as its framework of history, is a purely intellectual philosophical approach.  It develops the idea of heaven as the vision of what the earth could become if the planet was perfectly governed.  That is the vision of the future Age of Aquarius that is developed with the Revelation idea of a new heaven and a new earth.

 

As I'm going through the pod cast, Carrier around the 20 - 30 minute mark gets into how popular savior cults were at the time. And how christianity was a late arrival on the savior cult spectrum. All that emotional appeal from the savior cults and personal salvation had been long afoot by the time of christianity. So likely not an after thought or late addition in consideration of the religious landscape of the time. So I think origination as another savior cult following all of these previous one's is on the table for origins, to which, the late written gospel add the planetary salvation through precession theme. We don't see it laid out in the earliest writings of Paul. Not like it is in Mark, which, is likely a work of the second century with the bandwagon gospels following behind that. 

 

Savior Cults popular ---- Paul's authentic letters ---- Gospel of Mark (astrotheological allegory) ---- Synoptics (bandwagon material) ---- John (following the bandwagon) 

 

Carrier seems to have strong footing for his thesis. And if he's correct on this, you only need to make a few adjustments to your thesis to account for what could be seen as a few inconsistencies in the time line and evolution of the myths. I don't doubt that the astronomer priests purposely colored the myths with astrotheological allegory and also presented the planetary salvation idea that we see plainly by the time of revelation.  The earth is made new. That completely spells out the idea that planet is being saved as well the people seeking salvation on a personal level. 

 

To put this all together on a whim, it looks to me as though christianity being late on the personal savior cult timeline may have added the planetary salvation theme which built on top of what the previous personal salvation cults had been doing. Just some quick guessing. But I'd have to look specifically at the Osirian cults and other examples to see if that correctly works out or not. But at first glance it makes against the time line of appearances where these myths entered the historical records. 

 

22 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

That literal ascent and descent of Christ, like climbing Jacob’s ladder, seems to be what Carrier is saying, but I have not seen good evidence for it, and he only briefly alludes to this in Jesus From Outer Space.  The Ascension of Isaiah beginning at Chapter 6 is his main source, but Carrier seems to think the first Christians took this literally, imagining Jesus as an extra-terrestrial alien, when in fact that is as implausible as the rapture.  My view is that The Ascension of Isaiah can best be read as allegory for precession, with the descent of Christ to earth a parable for the gradual movement of the equinox point to the boundary of Aries and Pisces, which marks the imagined moment of celestial harmony at the incarnation of Christ. It all means that the pre-existent Christ was a purely spiritual and conceptual way to imagine cosmic rationality, not a material being.

 

In the same 20 - 30 minute mark of the pod cast, Carrier made references to the Osirian cult and similar cults, pre-existing christianity, which had the hero coming down through the celestial spheres and taking on a flesh appearance as part of the myth. They had a public level. It was emotional. And it was apparently promoted as really taking place in history. So the exoteric view of the savior cult format envisioned an emotional, personal salvation format, where the common joe believed that everything from the myths really happened. 

 

All of this prior to the emergence of christianity late on the scene, doing the very same things. But possibly adding deeper precession narrative when the gospel of Mark eventually came out. Paul's work more resembles these older savior cults with emotional appeal to personal salvation from a figure up in the cosmos who, like the others, was believed to be real, but real in the sense of an entity existing up above in the heavens. 

 

Carrier also mentions that the educated and initiated of the past make mention of how with the Osirian cult, for example, the common man believing the literal and exoteric dimension of the myths was missing the real point. And the same is true of christianity as we know. The literal storyline isn't the main line of thinking of the writers. They were making concealed references in the texts. So all of these things are completely mixed in together. Sophisticated allegory, personal salvation, planetary salvation, 'theistic belief' regardless of which direction, and so on. 

 

The whole thing is supernatural myth which involved some references that can, from today's perspective, be stripped down to only what's natural about it. But none of these religious writers were atheists or agnostics like today. Not even the founding fathers of the US were technically agnostic atheists either. It wasn't a thing yet. It took centuries and centuries to get to straightforward agnostic atheism in the world. Post Darwin mainly. We can't very well look back at christian origins and decided that because they referred to precession, and precession is a natural phenomenon, the early christians were naturalists like we are today, here and now. That's something that doesn't look likely or within the scheme of proving. 

 

Why not just admit that they were all supernaturalists, who didn't realize it at the time, but their supernatural visions could be reinterpreted now in a different way. Which is the way you are currently interpreting it? Then you're outside of having to argue something that doesn't look like something you can win. 

 

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46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

 

As I'm going through the pod cast, Carrier around the 20 - 30 minute mark gets into how popular savior cults were at the time.

Hi Josh, many thanks for these superb comments which cut to the nub of issues about the scientific assessment of Christian history.  This point around the popularity of saviour cults helps us understand the sociology of Christian origins.  However, the deeper underlying theme to explain their identity and purpose is the cosmology that informed these social movements.  If precession framing against the Aries-Pisces Age shift was an organising principle for Christianity, that has to be included alongside the sociology of how the cult became popular.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

And how christianity was a late arrival on the savior cult spectrum. All that emotional appeal from the savior cults and personal salvation had been long afoot by the time of christianity.

That means human tribal psychology has evolved highly complex saviour cult memes over a long time, stretching into prehistory before the invention of writing, with ideas conveyed to initiates by secret voice.  Christianity adopted this saviour cult model, which it seems then overwhelmed its original astronomical message, as the suppression by Rome destroyed the highly vulnerable secret oral teachings.  Carrier rightly emphasises in the podcast how Christianity subsequently obliterated knowledge of its origins.  My view is that astronomy was a central theme of the lost original construction of Christian faith.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

So likely not an after thought or late addition in consideration of the religious landscape of the time. So I think origination as another savior cult following all of these previous one's is on the table for origins, to which, the late written gospel add the planetary salvation through precession theme.

The Saviour cult origins included strong solar imagery, based as Carrier says on agrarian cycles, with the return of the Sun each spring a symbol of new life.  The cults personified the sun as human saviour.  Therefore, for Christianity to present Christ as the Sun moving into a new constellation at the spring point by precession links in directly with the evolutionary story of saviour cults as solar deities.  Precession was integral to the solar cult vision, not a later addition.  Christ was the flowering of this thinking as the meaning of the precession into the Age of Pisces, which then presented the basis to imagine the future precession of the spring point of the Sun into Aquarius in our time now, as the cosmology supporting the original Biblical vision of the Second Coming.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

We don't see it laid out in the earliest writings of Paul.

Precession does appear in Paul, with the creation groaning in travail at Romans 8, and the cosmology of pre-existence serving as allegory for the long precession of the spring point in the lead up to the incarnation point of the Aries-Pisces Age cusp.  This secret astronomy supports the cosmology of Paul.  The cross of Christ aligns to the observed motion of the X in the sky, congruent to Paul’s theology of cross and resurrection.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Not like it is in Mark, which, is likely a work of the second century with the bandwagon gospels following behind that. 

Mark and the bandwagon present precession in much more explicit terms than it is seen in Paul.  Mark presents the allegory of the loaves and fishes which directly matches the precession vision of a new age of loaves and fishes through the Virgo-Bread/Pisces-Fish axis into which the world moved in 21 AD.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Savior Cults popular ---- Paul's authentic letters ---- Gospel of Mark (astrotheological allegory) ---- Synoptics (bandwagon material) ---- John (following the bandwagon) 

That is an excellent summation of the timeline of Christian evolution.  But further, astrotheological allegory for the sun and moon and stars existed within the Savior cults for thousands and possibly tens of thousands of years before Christ, stretching well into prehistory.  I think it is probable that precession formed the basis of Vedic Yuga cosmology in the Pleistocene stone age period after human arrival in India from Africa, possibly 80,000 years ago.  The accurate match between this cyclic cosmology of light and dark and the actual climate cycles caused by orbital precession could reflect Indian observation over millennia of the slow cycles of sea level and glacier advance and retreat.  The structure of the Indo-European Language Family enabled such fundamental ideas to spread through religious networks over thousands of years, leading to the presence in European cosmythology of the Vedic theory of successive declining ages of gold, silver, bronze and iron, a theory that matches exactly to the real climate cycle induced by precession.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Carrier seems to have strong footing for his thesis. And if he's correct on this, you only need to make a few adjustments to your thesis to account for what could be seen as a few inconsistencies in the time line and evolution of the myths.

Carrier’s view that Christianity evolved as a saviour cult is fully compatible with the thesis of Jesus Christ having been invented to reflect the required saviour cult of the New Age of Pisces.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

I don't doubt that the astronomer priests purposely colored the myths with astrotheological allegory and also presented the planetary salvation idea that we see plainly by the time of revelation. 

Rather than astrotheological allegory as colour in the myths, this symbolic structure from astronomy actually grounds the myths, providing the necessary conditions for their physical possibility.  As such, precession has a fundamental genetic function for Christianity.  Planetary salvation is a theme that Christian theology has neglected, due to the overwhelming focus on the magical salvation of the individual believer, a line that lacks any scientific sense.  By contrast, the idea that Christ came to save the world in terms of making our planet a better place to live is an ethical proposition that has abundant grounding in the Gospels, even if Christendom largely abandoned it as too hard, and it is in fact deferred to the second coming, as seen in the parable of the sheep and goats.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

The earth is made new. That completely spells out the idea that planet is being saved as well the people seeking salvation on a personal level. 

The gospel authors could see, based on the Yuga precession cosmology, that the world was headed into the bottoming out of the cycle, known in Indian myth as the Kali Yuga, the Iron Age of Ignorance and Darkness.  Astronomically, as I explain in my paper, Milankovitch cycles can put this point at 1246 AD when the perihelion, earth’s closest orbital point to the sun, crossed the December solstice, the shortest day of the year.  Based on rough knowledge of this climate cycle as it is embedded in the Yuga theory, the Christ precession cosmology saw the Age of Pisces as a time when the power of darkness would remain stronger than light (December solstice), while the Age of Aquarius was imagined as the next month, starting late January, when the light begins to return.  So any talk of planetary renewal and restoration and repair had to be deferred until after the low point, creating the need for the two-stage incarnation theory of the Bible.  In the Vedic astronomy, the Second Coming matches to the rising Bronze Age, a model that matches the Age of Aquarius as a time when the earth is made new.   In the interim people have just had to cope with the uncoordinated individual salvation hope that the church has promoted.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

To put this all together on a whim, it looks to me as though christianity being late on the personal savior cult timeline may have added the planetary salvation theme which built on top of what the previous personal salvation cults had been doing. Just some quick guessing. But I'd have to look specifically at the Osirian cults and other examples to see if that correctly works out or not. But at first glance it makes against the time line of appearances where these myths entered the historical records. 

The planetary salvation theme is fundamental to the Vedic Yuga myth of the Golden Age, as a long future time when humanity will live in harmony with the earth. It therefore predates the Mediterranean saviour cults, and informs them at memetic level. Naturally so, since human flourishing requires a healthy planet.  The Bible presents the transition to this future Golden Age through the apocalyptic imagery of cosmic war between good and evil.  The idea is that human destruction of the earth brings on the wrath of God, as stated at Rev 11:18.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

In the same 20 - 30 minute mark of the pod cast, Carrier made references to the Osirian cult and similar cults, pre-existing christianity, which had the hero coming down through the celestial spheres and taking on a flesh appearance as part of the myth. They had a public level. It was emotional. And it was apparently promoted as really taking place in history.

This cosmic descent myth is in The Ascension of Isaiah, Chapter 10: 7. And I heard the voice of the Most High, the Father of my Lord, saying to my Lord Christ who will be called Jesus: 8. "Go forth and descent through all the heavens, and thou wilt descent to the firmament and that world: to the angel in Sheol thou wilt descend, but to Haguel thou wilt not go. 9. And thou wilt become like unto the likeness of all who are in the five heavens. 10. And thou wilt be careful to become like the form of the angels of the firmament [and the angels also who are in Sheol]. 11. And none of the angels of that world shall know that Thou art with Me of the seven heavens and of their angels. 12. And they shall not know that Thou art with Me, till with a loud voice I have called (to) the heavens, and their angels and their lights, (even) unto the sixth heaven, in order that you mayest judge and destroy the princes and angels and gods of that world, and the world that is dominated by them: 13. For they have denied Me and said: "We alone are and there is none beside us." 14. And afterwards from the angels of death Thou wilt ascend to Thy place. And Thou wilt not be transformed in each heaven, but in glory wilt Thou ascend and sit on My right hand. 15. And thereupon the princes and powers of that world will worship Thee." 16. These commands I heard the Great Glory giving to my Lord. 17. And so I saw my Lord go forth from the seventh heaven into the sixth heaven.”

Yes, this was promoted as really taking place in history, exactly as the incarnation of Christ as really taking place in history is promoted in the Gospels.  I think the church found this astral imagery uncongenial and banned it as incompatible with the literal gospel. But it was obviously part of the evolution of ancient faith, as a major public explanation of Christian cosmology.  My view is that this descent and ascent motif is itself allegory for the real visual observation of the movement of the spring point by precession across the point of perceived cosmic harmony at the incarnation, when the stars and seasons were in tune. What that means is that ancient astronomers could readily see the constellations of the zodiac uniquely matched the seasonal signs of astrology when the equinox shifted from Aries to Pisces in 21 AD.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

So the exoteric view of the savior cult format envisioned an emotional, personal salvation format, where the common joe believed that everything from the myths really happened. 

Of course, but the Jesus of Nazareth story was an easier sell to the common joe than this celestial descent.  After all, as Carrier lampoons it, “Jesus From Outer Space” as an extra-terrestrial alien visitor to earth as presented in this Ascension text is a criticismwhich orthodox Christians could have made in the language of their day.  If enough Christians liked this story they would have put it in the Bible, which they didn’t. Just because it is in the Ascension of Isaiah does not mean this cosmic myth was the original Christian story as Carrier argues.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

All of this prior to the emergence of christianity late on the scene, doing the very same things. But possibly adding deeper precession narrative when the gospel of Mark eventually came out. Paul's work more resembles these older savior cults with emotional appeal to personal salvation from a figure up in the cosmos who, like the others, was believed to be real, but real in the sense of an entity existing up above in the heavens. 

I don’t agree the deeper precession narrative was an add-on by Mark.  It was well known long before Mark, providing the cosmology behind the saviour cults.  The whole notion that the pre-existent Christ was an entity has a deeply allegorical meaning.  Of course it is true this allegory was personified, as were Osiris and Mithras and Bacchus and Adonis. Yet the personification process was understood within initiate communities as allegory for the natural processes of the movement of the Sun.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Carrier also mentions that the educated and initiated of the past make mention of how with the Osirian cult, for example, the common man believing the literal and exoteric dimension of the myths was missing the real point. And the same is true of christianity as we know.

Yes, this is from Plutarch’s Isis and Osiris.  It means that the initiated authors of the Gospels knew that the public belief in literal Christianity was untrue.  As Carrier makes the excellent point, The Gospel of Mark was written as sacred allegory, not claimed history.  The ‘real history’ claims only came in with Luke and John, then were amplified in the Pastoral letters.  Historicity went over the top insane with writers like Ignatius of Antioch, who said put your hands over your ears and make loud woop woop sounds if you encounter anyone rejecting the historicity of Jesus Christ, to ensure you won’t hear what they say. Very successful strategy.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

The literal storyline isn't the main line of thinking of the writers. They were making concealed references in the texts. So all of these things are completely mixed in together. Sophisticated allegory, personal salvation, planetary salvation, 'theistic belief' regardless of which direction, and so on. 

My local Jung Society had a superb talk by Richard Barz, former ANU Professor of Indian Studies, explaining how an Indian folk tale gave clues to show how initiates conceal religious meaning from the public.  As the initiatic meaning of Christianity came under pressure for heresy, they found they had to conceal their astronomy ideas in highly elaborate ways, as I explain in my essay with examples such as the beast of the apocalypse.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

The whole thing is supernatural myth which involved some references that can, from today's perspective, be stripped down to only what's natural about it.

The possibility of stripping down supernatural stories to their natural content offers an immensely important way to understand Christianity.  Because, if the natural content has a coherent and plausible cosmology, then it makes sense to see it in causal evolutionary terms as the original skeleton of dry bones to which the flesh of the supernatural stories was later added. And the original story was gradually forgotten as people preferred their myths. This stripping down is not just a matter of applying a modern perspective, it is about deconstructing what the authors actually intended.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

But none of these religious writers were atheists or agnostics like today. Not even the founding fathers of the US were technically agnostic atheists either. It wasn't a thing yet. It took centuries and centuries to get to straightforward agnostic atheism in the world. Post Darwin mainly.

I think the Gospel authors had a much more pantheist outlook than how they were later coloured by Christianity with its supernatural agenda.  The initiates understood the presence of God in nature as high philosophy. The precession model for them would have been perfectly consistent with the idea of God as animating the cosmos.  It is also consistent with our current scientific understanding of the universe as matter in motion.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

We can't very well look back at christian origins and decided that because they referred to precession, and precession is a natural phenomenon, the early christians were naturalists like we are today, here and now. That's something that doesn't look likely or within the scheme of proving. 

The overall ancient state of scientific knowledge was so limited that the idea of God as a personal intentional being was seen as far more plausible than it is today. Early Christians saw nature as suffused with sanctity. The gospels were constructed with deep reverence for the unknown mystery of the cosmos, seen as a source of divine purpose and meaning called God.  Saying its supernatural stories are allegory for natural observation does not have to take the religion out of Christianity in its original form, although it is not easy to integrate that understanding with the degraded level where churches believe untrue myths.

46 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Why not just admit that they were all supernaturalists, who didn't realize it at the time, but their supernatural visions could be reinterpreted now in a different way. Which is the way you are currently interpreting it? Then you're outside of having to argue something that doesn't look like something you can win. 

If Jesus Christ is a myth, he had inventors. Those inventors knew full well their supernatural allegories were deliberately constructed for a reason. I suggest that reason was, in large part, to put the observed cosmology of precession into mythological form.  I am not at all suggesting that process meant they lacked supernatural belief in God.  Clearly they had such belief, much as shamanic thinking sees an integrated supernatural spirituality within nature.  The problem is to reconstruct the most plausible line of thinking of the Gospel authors.  My view is the presence of God in the natural observable order of the cosmos, revealed in the slow movement of precession, was central to their ideas.

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Not to reproduce too much of the above and get lengthy, I'll just say that your responses sound reasonable. But that's because I understand the antiquity arguments and the various evidences for the existence of sophisticated astronomical knowledge, dating way back to before they're given credit by most academics. But these are treated as speculative avenues and not hard facts. 

 

If that is correct, however, then you have your antiquity arguments holding firm against Carrier's skepticism. There would have been a deep antiquity, there would have been astronomer priest types looking forward to the end of the Great Year and beginning of the new. Which would be leading into the first century of the common era when the Great Year changed over. 

 

Carrier's savior cult thesis, with this in mind, creates a scenario where if it can be proven or demonstrated that the prior savior cult's were concerned with precession of the equinox and the Vedic Yuga's, then it would have been integrated in some way at the 'christian origins' level, IF, christianity simply started out as another rendition of these same said savior cults of the near east. Yes it came late. But late in this sense meant coming after the age of pisces turned over, as opposed to coming before the age of pisces looking forward to it's arrival as the older cults would have been. 

 

This involves several things, however. 

 

1) Proving that precession was known in antiquity before it's credited discovery by Hippocrates in the 2nd century BCE. In order to date back into antiquity. This has been alleged by some, but is it proven by of hard fact and credible evidence? 

 

2) If not proven conclusively, then conservatively speaking, precession is discovered in the 2nd century BCE. When do the savior cults begin? If they predate what can be proven for the discovery of precession, then proving that the Osirian cult and others were based on precession would prove difficult to impossible to argue. There's no way of proving that knew anything about precession in that scenario. 

 

3) Savior cults in the 1st century BCE could be argued to have origin level precession mythologizing involved, as a response to something discovered during the previous century, but a demonstration of their scriptures, iconography, and writings showing where the astrotheological allegory is located is in order to make the case. It has to come in the form of credible evidence that substantiates the claim. Or else Carrier is justified in dismissing it. 

 

4) Some people do point out the placement of astrotheological allegory in the NT myths, but it's also hotly debated by both christian apologists as well as certain agnostic and atheist skeptics. And I know from experience arguing these points that all of the astrological symbolism content is subject to interpretation, which, simply can't be hammered down as hard factual. It's intuitive. It involves a lot of opinion. I think there's something there to be recognized. But not everyone shares that opinion. And I'm not aware of any knock out arguments that lay all of the skeptics to waste. 

 

This is a taste of the some of the popular objections that can arise to the claims. 

 

To which you then respond with? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 9/12/2021 at 12:49 PM, Joshpantera said:

Not to reproduce too much of the above and get lengthy, I'll just say that your responses sound reasonable. But that's because I understand the antiquity arguments and the various evidences for the existence of sophisticated astronomical knowledge, dating way back to before they're given credit by most academics. But these are treated as speculative avenues and not hard facts. 

Your comments help me considerably to clarify my own thinking Josh, so I will continue to respond in detail.  A big problem for ancient history is the fragmentary nature of evidence.  I have compared it to finding an empty field and trying to imagine the rich forest that used to grow there.  Restriction to ‘hard facts’ accepts the dictum that history is written by the victors, given their propensity to destroy facts they dislike.  So it is essential to look for hidden clues in a systematic way, which is precisely what Carrier’s use of Bayesian logic enables.

On 9/12/2021 at 12:49 PM, Joshpantera said:

If that is correct, however, then you have your antiquity arguments holding firm against Carrier's skepticism. There would have been a deep antiquity, there would have been astronomer priest types looking forward to the end of the Great Year and beginning of the new. Which would be leading into the first century of the common era when the Great Year changed over. 

Obviously this whole topic of ancient knowledge of precession is bedevilled by analysis that lacks scholarly rigor. Carrier cites Kersey Graves as an example he finds totally unreliable, with Graves using imaginative speculation to claim associations that are totally dubious.  I recently listened to a podcast that conducted a similar demolition job on Gerald Massey, the British Egypt mythologist who strongly influenced DM Murdock.  Looking at some of his specific claims, it is argued that Massey began with his conclusions and strung together highly tendentious interpretations to justify them.  People make similar criticisms of books like Hamlet’s Mill by Santillana and Fingerprints of the Gods by Hancock, although I think both these books combine important information about precession together with overly speculative claims.  A challenge in using such books is to avoid both gullibility and overly narrow scepticism.

Picking up on your ‘deep antiquity’ theme, the point is that astronomers in the Hellenistic period were heirs to major religious traditions that were mainly oral and secret and that are now mainly lost.  Circumstantial evidence for knowledge of precession includes the theme of slaying the bull by Mithras and the Golden Calf story of Moses as symbols of the transition from the age of Taurus to Aries.  Then there are the Norse myth of the world mill falling off its axis, the Vedic cycle of light and dark over 24,000 years and the widespread use of numbers associated with the precession period of 72 years per degree. 

Knowledge that Taurus used to be the constellation at the spring point must have been a widespread basic ordering factor in cosmic mythology. As I mentioned in my paper, the Greek poet Hesiod mentioned how the month when the Pleiades sets just after dusk was the time to plough.  That changes by one month every two millennia due to precession, a shift that the old myths of stable societies could remember, if mainly in concealed form. That broad understanding, even without clear knowledge of the speed of precession as suggested by Hipparchus, is sufficient to form a broad prediction centuries in advance of when the spring point would cross into Pisces.  Joseph Campbell’s analysis in Myths To Live By notes the widespread presence of the Zodiac Age number 2160, in ways that indicate this was actually widely understood as the estimated number of years in each Age.

I do find it frustrating though, that academic scholars reject this strong circumstantial evidence, such as Neugebauer’s critique of the PanBabylonian school as summarised by Gary Thomson. Re-reading the section on precession in Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock reminds me that he associates knowledge of precession with the idea of Atlantis, and a lost high technology ancient civilization, which is viewed as pseudoscience.  I agree with Hancock that mysteries such as the Pyramids, Gobleki Tepi and Baalbek have not been solved.  However, rather than posit lost technology or a global civilization that lacks evidence, I prefer to speculate that Pleistocene cultures did measure precession over thousands of years, for both religious and agricultural reasons. 

One precession myth that I find most interesting is the churning of the milk sea, with Mount Meru resting upon Kurma the turtle at the bottom of the universe.  It is clear to me, although this is my own original theory, that this turtle myth represents the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is at the Ecliptic Pole, the South Pole of the Sun, the point around which the South Celestial Pole rotates over the precession cycle.  Indian astronomers, given thousands of years of stability and peace before the metallic ages of warfare began, could have worked out that the rising date of Kurma at the Southern horizon advances by one degree every 71.6 years, a number that occurs in Vedic myth, as does the close rounded estimate of 72.   

Why modern critical efforts assert the ancients knew and cared so little about precession is hard to tell, when it was obviously important for both agriculture and religion. This extreme scepticism comes from visceral hostility toward astrology, and the concern that promotion of these ideas has been so closely linked to pseudoscientific views.

On 9/12/2021 at 12:49 PM, Joshpantera said:

Carrier's savior cult thesis, with this in mind, creates a scenario where if it can be proven or demonstrated that the prior savior cult's were concerned with precession of the equinox and the Vedic Yugas, then it would have been integrated in some way at the 'christian origins' level, IF, christianity simply started out as another rendition of these same said savior cults of the near east. Yes it came late. But late in this sense meant coming after the age of pisces turned over, as opposed to coming before the age of pisces looking forward to it's arrival as the older cults would have been. 

Hancock asserts a strong correlation between the Hamlet’s Mill precession myth of the world falling off its axis and the Osiris myth of Egypt.  Chapter 31 of Fingerprints of the Gods is titled “The Osiris Numbers”.  Drawing on the work of Jane B. Sellers, Hancock observes that Egyptians and numerous other cultures stretching from China to Angkor to India to Babylon to Scandinavia and even Mayaland used factors of the Zodiac Age estimate of 2160 years, such as 12, 30, 54, 72, 108, 432, etc.  It is remarkable for example that the Rig Veda has exactly 432,000 syllables.  The fact that the 24K Yuga cycle lines up directly with the astronomy of light and dark in the Milankovitch Cycle is a powerful smoking gun for this theory of prehistoric precession knowledge.

On 9/12/2021 at 12:49 PM, Joshpantera said:

This involves several things, however.  1) Proving that precession was known in antiquity before its credited discovery by Hipparchus in the 2nd century BCE. In order to date back into antiquity. This has been alleged by some, but is it proven by hard fact and credible evidence? 

It looks very clear to me that the Jesus story was constructed on a precession model.  This invites us to ask why this was done, and what the possible and probable antecedents of this method could have been.  The incorporation of astronomical knowledge of cosmic order into the religious mystery traditions provides the simplest explanation.

On 9/12/2021 at 12:49 PM, Joshpantera said:

2) If not proven conclusively, then conservatively speaking, precession is discovered in the 2nd century BCE. When do the savior cults begin? If they predate what can be proven for the discovery of precession, then proving that the Osirian cult and others were based on precession would prove difficult to impossible to argue. There's no way of proving that knew anything about precession in that scenario. 

Somehow I think proof in this matter will be like leading a horse to water.  Do we want a systematic explanation of history or not?  If we do, then the idea that extensive knowledge of astronomy in the ancient world was lost explains many anomalies.  Not least, it gets rid of all the miracles from Christianity in a way that explains the reason for these stories.

On 9/12/2021 at 12:49 PM, Joshpantera said:

3) Savior cults in the 1st century BCE could be argued to have origin level precession mythologizing involved, as a response to something discovered during the previous century, but a demonstration of their scriptures, iconography, and writings showing where the astrotheological allegory is located is in order to make the case. It has to come in the form of credible evidence that substantiates the claim. Or else Carrier is justified in dismissing it. 

Hipparchus provided a scientific account, but the use of precession in religion rests upon much deeper religious accounts.  For example, the story of the dragon giving his power, seat and authority to the leopard bear lion at Rev 13 is a model for the observed movement of the North Celestial Pole.  It looks absurd to say this was only noticed after Hipparchus.  Similarly, Aldebaran, Regulus, Antares and Fomalhaut were the four bright stars at the solstices and equinoxes in 3000 BC, forming the myth of the four living creatures. It stretches credulity to say that no astronomer-priests would have noticed the steady shift of these major stars away from the cardinal points of the compass.  Plato said the Greeks were like children tossing pebbles into the ocean of eastern wisdom. It is a form of racial arrogance to insist that just because records have been destroyed there must have been no knowledge.

On 9/12/2021 at 12:49 PM, Joshpantera said:

4) Some people do point out the placement of astrotheological allegory in the NT myths, but it's also hotly debated by both christian apologists as well as certain agnostic and atheist skeptics. And I know from experience arguing these points that all of the astrological symbolism content is subject to interpretation, which, simply can't be hammered down as hard factual. It's intuitive. It involves a lot of opinion. I think there's something there to be recognized. But not everyone shares that opinion. And I'm not aware of any knock out arguments that lay all of the skeptics to waste. 

Christian apologists don’t count because they work from false supernatural assumptions.  I certainly find the numerous key examples of New Testament precession imagery I provided in my paper compelling. They include the chi rho cross, the loaves and fishes, the alpha and omega, the tree of life, the holy city, the twelve jewels, the moon at the foot of the woman, the man with the water jug, the wheat and tares and the second coming.  These support a coherent cosmology, that also serves to provide a scientific explanation for Carrier’s discussion of the descent of Christ from space.

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Good responses again. 

 

But there's still the issue of Paul not mapping out very explicit references to precession in the way that the Mark allegory lays out later on the timeline. One could grant that the Osirian cult probably echoed precession mythology filtering down in mystery form from ancient Egypt. There's enough there to reasonably conclude that the idea of the age of Leo, Zep Tepi, orientation to the northern circumpolar stars, Nabta Playa, and many other sites point to astronomical sophistication. Even if it's too difficult or impossible to hammer down in a concrete way. 

 

I used to quarrel with Carrier about poo pooing the astrotheological thesis, but I've laid back on that now. He's been saying all along that he wants to focus on what can be argued in black and white terms from a scholarly perspective. Even if true, he ventures off into academic hostility if trying to argue from a precession basis for origins. And he clearly doesn't want to get mixed up in prejudices and hostility that comes with it. 

 

So when he argues for this cosmic jesus origin, it sort of goes without saying that the precession material goes along with the same said material, even if not focused on by Carrier. What was in ancient Egypt likely filtered down the mystery cults like the Osirian. The age of Aries was the end of the old Great Year. When Carrier notes the frequency and commonality of the savior cults arising during what would have been that time period, one obvious reason could be the fact that it was an important time where astronomer priestly types would have been concerned. These cults likely have elements of salvation because of the astrological timeline and changing over into a new cycle. Personal salvation and earthly salvation sort of go hand in hand. 

 

As to why Paul focused more on the personal and Mark more on the planetary, it's hard to say. But Paul must have known about these things if he was modeling behind the Osirian and similar cults. The other issue is where Manly P Hall used to lecture and write about the degrading of the mystery schools going into the common era. To where much of the knowledge was lost. But not entirely lost. It could be that Mark wanted to add to the mythology to include a fuller emphasis on the astrotheological precession theme. Whereas that feature wasn't as important to Paul? It's hard to say. 

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Here's a debate between MacDonald and Carrier. About, "Jesus From Outer Space."

 

This is a debate between two atheist PhD's. 

 

 

Something that stands out for me when going over the debate is how MacDonald, representing a traditional atheistic view of jesus as historical - is full of presuppostions, even to the extent of trying to read things into passages that are not clearly there. Such as Carrier deals with around 1:50 of the debate. 

 

This strips down the mythology to bare bones and tries to assert an historical existence despite the obvious mythology, which is the position of Ehrman as well. But it doesn't hold up very strong against someone like Carrier. And presuppositions become very apparent in the process.

 

This is important, because most of us know and understand that theism itself is solely dependent on presuppostions to the tune of there must be a supernatural creator - how else could all of this exist if there were not one? So a creator being is presupposed without any thought as to alternative explanations. 

 

Now in atheism, we obviously recognize those presuppositions and disagree with them. But that's just one step. To look at the historicity of jesus is another step forward in this line of atheistic reasoning. What's found are more presuppositions packed into the historical jesus debates. To the point where most of the argument for history comes from presupposition. Not the best foundation to formulate a concrete history from. 

 

Carrier is furthering atheism in that way. Broadening the spectrum of healthy skepticism. Looking at it closer than what many of these now aging, older and more traditional minded atheist types are willing to do. They feel like he's gone too far with his skepticism. But I don't Carrier has gone too far at all. It's reasonable and plausible.

 

And I think that just as is the case with scientific theories never convincing their opponents to concede, the same may be true of the myth theory. The opponents will eventually die out and new generations who are open to, and familiar with the new theory, will likely change the landscape of academia - all within time. 

 

That's where I place my bet in this game. 

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On 9/15/2021 at 10:52 PM, Joshpantera said:

Good responses again. But there's still the issue of Paul not mapping out very explicit references to precession in the way that the Mark allegory lays out later on the timeline.

I really appreciate this discussion Josh, raising some really important issues.

A key point is that Paul’s Epistles are totally compatible with the idea that Jesus Christ was originally constructed as allegory for the sun, like Mithras, Osiris and Serapis.  The birth, death and resurrection stories of Christ personify the daily and annual solar cycles of rise and set, light and dark. You are right these metaphors are more concealed in Paul than in the Gospels, yet Paul provides an important moment in the evolutionary process of placing the attributes of the sun into a human context – glory, grandeur, light, power, life, universality, vision, etc.

Where precession underpins Paul’s narrative is in the cosmology of pre-existence and incarnation, which exactly maps how the solar spring point of the equinox was imagined to move through the Age of Aries until reaching the incarnation point at the dawn of the Age of Pisces.

I think of precession as fundamental to the ancient idea of Christ as the word of God, the logos theology, because it reveals the rational order of the cosmos. https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09328a.htm says “already in the Epistles of St. Paul the theology of the Logos had made its influence felt. This is seen in the Epistles to the Corinthians, where Christ is called “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24) and “the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4); it is more evident in the Epistle to the Colossians (1:15 sqq.); above all in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the theology of the Logos lacks only the term itself.”

Paul’s language about Christ as the power, wisdom and image of God readily lends itself to interpretation as solar metaphor, considering that the Sun displays these attributes in mythology. An implicit example of the zodiac age cosmology in Paul’s theology is his claim that the Israelites with Moses “drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4)

On 9/15/2021 at 10:52 PM, Joshpantera said:

One could grant that the Osirian cult probably echoed precession mythology filtering down in mystery form from ancient Egypt. There's enough there to reasonably conclude that the idea of the age of Leo, Zep Tepi, orientation to the northern circumpolar stars, Nabta Playa, and many other sites point to astronomical sophistication. Even if it's too difficult or impossible to hammer down in a concrete way. 

The Great Pyramid is the greatest astronomical mystery of our planet, such as with its air shaft pointed toward the North Celestial Pole.  At the time of Zep Tepi, it appears this shaft pointed to Vega, which was the pole star at that time. 

On 9/15/2021 at 10:52 PM, Joshpantera said:

I used to quarrel with Carrier about poo pooing the astrotheological thesis, but I've laid back on that now. He's been saying all along that he wants to focus on what can be argued in black and white terms from a scholarly perspective. Even if true, he ventures off into academic hostility if trying to argue from a precession basis for origins. And he clearly doesn't want to get mixed up in prejudices and hostility that comes with it. 

The psychology is pretty confusing.  Carrier insists on his scholarly credentials, but then comes out with this bizarre outer space alien theory, arguing that just because it is the literal meaning of the Ascension of Isaiah it must have been the original meaning of Christianity, even though it is just as allegorical as anything in Mark.  That puts Carrier on the fringe as much as any theory about astrology and the sun. 

The view I prefer is that all these magical stories about Jesus in outer space are allegory for empirical observation of the movement of the sun by precession.  That removes the assumption that the original authors held a magical supernatural view, while retaining the view that they believed in the presence of divinity within the cosmos.

Obviously there is a horrendous amount of moronic rubbish that gets spouted about Christian origins, but that means astral analysis just gets rejected out of hand even when it is perfectly sound.  That is throwing the baby out with the bathwater and guilt by association.  People use their own prejudices rather than review of evidence to assess claims, and small mistakes are used to shut down conversation.

Carrier is already “mixed up in prejudices and hostility” by promoting the Christ Myth Theory.

On 9/15/2021 at 10:52 PM, Joshpantera said:

So when he argues for this cosmic Jesus origin, it sort of goes without saying that the precession material goes along with the same said material, even if not focused on by Carrier.

“Goes without saying”, I wish.  I view this topic as reflecting the process of paradigm shift, with Carrier drawing from Earl Doherty an intermediate theory that is halfway between the old and new paradigms.  The old paradigm accepts that religious language refers to supernatural entities, while the new paradigm says that religion is metaphor all the way down.  Carrier's Space Alien Hypothesis is a weird hybrid of old and new paradigms. 

It is all part of what TS Kuhn defined as the second stage of paradigm shift, what he called 'extraordinary research'.  So many anomalies have accumulated in the old paradigm of Christ Historicism that a range of alternative theories are being raised to explain the situation.  My view is that the third stage, the adoption of a new paradigm, will involve acceptance that Christianity was originally invented as pure allegory based on precession of the equinox as the visible structure of time.

On 9/15/2021 at 10:52 PM, Joshpantera said:

What was in ancient Egypt likely filtered down the mystery cults like the Osirian. The age of Aries was the end of the old Great Year. When Carrier notes the frequency and commonality of the savior cults arising during what would have been that time period, one obvious reason could be the fact that it was an important time where astronomer priestly types would have been concerned. These cults likely have elements of salvation because of the astrological timeline and changing over into a new cycle. Personal salvation and earthly salvation sort of go hand in hand. 

In my paper on Christianity for the Age of Aquarius I explain a possible underlying physical explanation of why the Christian myth saw the Aries-Pisces precession cusp as the turning point of the Great Year, apart from its correlation to the astrological cycle.  There is a direct correlation between the 24,000 year Yuga cycle and the actual climate pattern driven mainly by precession, as explained by orbital physics. The low point of the Yuga cycle was imagined as happening in 500 AD, while the actual low point of the precession climate cycle, defined by the date perihelion was on the shortest day of the year, was in 1246 AD, an error of only 3%.  The Yuga idea underpins the mythology of the whole Western myth of descent from a Golden Age seen in writers such as Hesiod and Ovid.

On 9/15/2021 at 10:52 PM, Joshpantera said:

As to why Paul focused more on the personal and Mark more on the planetary, it's hard to say. But Paul must have known about these things if he was modeling behind the Osirian and similar cults.

There was clearly a close interweaving between personal salvation and planetary salvation as motivations in early Christianity.  How I see it is that the philosophical wisdom traditions that flowed from Plato, Buddhism, Egypt and other sources through to forms of Gnosticism took an intellectual approach toward religion. They looked at the big questions of the fate of the world and the global clash between good and evil, and assessed what it would require for the forces of good to defeat the forces of evil.  The context was the Roman Empire perceived as a major force for evil.  They saw the victory of the good as a long term problem, in view of the strength of greed and ignorance in the world. 

But this abstract theology was of little interest to regular worshipers, who were worried more about their personal concerns and interests, including building community and personal afterlife. 

The New Testament ideas of Christ as planetary saviour were originally developed by the intellectuals to support their planetary salvation theme, beginning well before the time of Pilate, as a Jewish variant alongside the syncretic invention of the Mithras and Serapis cults in the new Hellenistic Empires.  These big ideas eventually proved unpopular because they were too confusing for a mass audience, and bishops emerged who could present the populist line and sideline and suppress the intellectuals.

I will need to think some more about your suggestion that Paul focused more on the personal and Mark more on the planetary.  That is true as far as precession imagery is concerned, but as Doherty and Carrier have argued, the cosmic Christ is central to the Pauline doctrine.

On 9/15/2021 at 10:52 PM, Joshpantera said:

The other issue is where Manly P Hall used to lecture and write about the degrading of the mystery schools going into the common era. To where much of the knowledge was lost. But not entirely lost.

Yes, that intellectual degradation brought by the church under Christendom is clear.  Christianity was a lowest common denominator religion, serving as a security ideology that could unite with the Roman state to construct a system of secular power.  It was a scorched earth destruction of the previous rich cultural ecology of the mysteries.  Just some of the mystery knowledge was allowed to remain in distorted form.  A reconstruction of the high mystery wisdom grounded in astronomy is essential to find the underlying intellectual rationality behind Christianity.

On 9/15/2021 at 10:52 PM, Joshpantera said:

It could be that Mark wanted to add to the mythology to include a fuller emphasis on the astrotheological precession theme. Whereas that feature wasn't as important to Paul? It's hard to say. 

I don’t see the precession theme as an “addition to the mythology”.  Rather, it is the genetic code of the mythology, the guiding design of its construction around which everything else was built. 

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I started a thread on this next video: 

 

 

The mystery school transmission of content to early christianity is laid out in the first few minutes. They were largely solar mysteries oriented and therefore all else involved - astrotheology, probably precession mythology, astrological symbolism, etc.,etc. That's the connection to Paul that answers the questions here. Carrier lays out how global salvation was changed to a more personal salvation through the mysteries. And that Judea was late on the scene to invent a mystery school cult like this.

 

Paul was doing a solar mysteries cult. Focused firmly on personal salvation in lock step with the previous solar mysteries. That solar mystery cult teaching apparently involved a "celestial spheres jesus" concept as part of the presentation. It really can't be either it's a solar myth or celestial being situation, both are part of the Osirian mysteries and others. There's not a choice between is Carrier right or are you right, you both pretty much have to be right because the solar mysteries that informed the early 1st century had been both all along. 

 

So when Mark comes in after Paul and lays out the global salvation allegories, it looks as though he was merely choosing to emphasize the older global salvation theme which had shifted in the mystery school cults to personal salvation. Carrier himself is basically saying that the global salvation idea had greater antiquity. If that's the case, and Mark was emphasizing that aspect, then Mark was bringing an older concept back into focus again, much more so than Paul's focus. 

 

 

 

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Returning to commentary on Jesus From Outer Space, Chapter Two concludes with a superb explanation of the weird silence of Paul on the historical Jesus.  Before explaining Carrier’s argument, here is a brief comparative digression.

 

I like to compare the relationship between Jesus and Paul with the relationship between Lenin and Stalin in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  Jesus and Lenin were the deified founders, while Paul and Stalin were the successors who explained the ideology and built the movement.  But there the comparison ends.  Stalin provided abundant direct quotes from Lenin and talked extensively about what Lenin did as the first Bolshevik leader, reflecting the common knowledge of the historical role of Lenin. Of course Stalin thoroughly distorted Lenin’s views where it suited him and airbrushed unpersons out of photos and history, but the core of his dependency on Lenin is historically clear.

 

Nothing remotely similar applies in the New Testament.  Paul seems to know nothing about the life of Jesus, an absurd situation if Jesus was the real founder of Christianity as described in the Gospels.  And as Carrier remorselessly proves, the few highly ambiguous verses in Paul that apologists so desperately distort into service to show Jesus was real do nothing of the sort.

 

Paul’s Jesus is wholly imaginary, constructed from scripture and theology, not from any continuity with people who knew him.  That is not compatible with Jesus being real.  Carrier provides a simple lesson in historical method, whereby fraudulent propaganda cannot serve as evidence. That rules out all the NT letters except the seven agreed letters of Paul, in which we find no clear statements about Jesus ever living on earth.

 

Let’s consider a few examples.

 

1 Thess 2 damns the Jews for killing Jesus, uniquely situating Jesus in time and place in all of Paul’s 20,000 words.  But this line could not have been written by Paul, since it refers to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem as having already happened, it contradicts numerous other statements by Paul, and it uses ideas that only came much later.  That makes it a late forgery, inadmissible as evidence. 

 

1 Cor 15 describes numerous eyewitnesses to Jesus whom he says are still alive, but with the peculiar detail that this mass observation was only after Jesus had returned from the dead.  From before his death, nothing. No parables, miracles, location, date, ministry.  Nothing.  And what Paul does say about Jesus is only from revelation and scripture.

 

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is all theological construction and no historical memory.  The famous ‘seed of David’ line about Jesus in Rom 1:3 is about cosmic manufacture, not historical descent, despite numerous fraudulent mistranslations that seek to deceive the faithful.

 

Paul’s line about Jesus being made (not born) of a woman in Gal 4:4 is set within the context of Sarah and Haggar as allegorical women, so is far too ambiguous to serve as historical evidence for something contrary to the meaning of its context. 

 

James the ‘brother of the Lord’ in Gal 1:19 only makes sense as a title for James as a Christian, not as a biological sibling of Jesus Christ.

 

Why then does Paul only make these strangely vague and theological references to the historical life of Christ on earth?  It only makes coherent sense from the view that Christ was totally imaginary, not historical.  Hence rather than saying Jesus was killed under Pontius Pilate by Romans and Jews, Paul gives us the doozy line in 1 Cor 2 that it was “archons of the eon” wot did it. 

 

https://biblehub.com/hebrews/5-7.htm provides a case study of translator deception.  Numerous modern Bibles fraudulently change the actual text, which refers to Jesus’ “days of his flesh.” Instead, many Bibles refer to his “life on earth” and similar false renditions.  The point here is that “flesh” functions in this text as a quite obscure theological concept, but mass religion insists on simplifying it in accordance with its literal historical mythology.  The aim is to mislead readers by reading the later Gospel Jesus back into the epistles.  As a result, the pious are rightly quite shocked when they discover how systematic and extensive the program of lies has been.

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9 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

Paul’s Jesus is wholly imaginary, constructed from scripture and theology, not from any continuity with people who knew him.  That is not compatible with Jesus being real.  Carrier provides a simple lesson in historical method, whereby fraudulent propaganda cannot serve as evidence. That rules out all the NT letters except the seven agreed letters of Paul, in which we find no clear statements about Jesus ever living on earth.

 

An all knowing god would know and realize that contemporary witnesses and historical documentation and verification would be in order, IF demonstrating to the world that his son came to earth and lived and died a human life was the objective of the plan of salvation! 

 

The fact that no such strong contemporary evidences exist speak to the unlikely nature of the believer position. 

 

And it speaks to the historicist position of simply accepting the believer position, minus anything that sounds supernatural or too theological to be real. The continuity doesn't appear to be there to support a stripped down, secular historicist position. The fact remains that Paul's Jesus isn't historical and the interpolations show the intent of later scribes to try and color in the epistles to reflect the gospel content. When originally it doesn't look to be there. 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

An all knowing god would know and realize that contemporary witnesses and historical documentation and verification would be in order, IF demonstrating to the world that his son came to earth and lived and died a human life was the objective of the plan of salvation! 

 

The fact that no such strong contemporary evidences exist speak to the unlikely nature of the believer position. 

 

And it speaks to the historicist position of simply accepting the believer position, minus anything that sounds supernatural or too theological to be real. The continuity doesn't appear to be there to support a stripped down, secular historicist position. The fact remains that Paul's Jesus isn't historical and the interpolations show the intent of later scribes to try and color in the epistles to reflect the gospel content. When originally it doesn't look to be there. 

Cultural evolution of acceptable ideas about religion is like genetic evolution, but much faster, exhibiting steady response to selective pressure. 

The historicist position as you describe it is a rational attempt to reconcile the cognitive dissonance between science and religion.  But as Carrier proves, the anomalies in the paradigm of conventional faith are so severe that the seemingly reasonable step of excluding everything that is implausible, like with the Jefferson Bible, just doesn’t work. 

The selective pressure in this case is the compelling evidence that a complete paradigm shift is needed to accept that the entire Gospel story is fictional.

Carrier’s account of the cultural evolution of the Jesus story begins with pure spiritual revelation in Paul, through to sacred allegory in Mark, with insistence on literal belief emerging in Luke and John, through to the full-blown ear-blocking intolerance that gradually evolved in Christendom.

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Chapter Two of Jesus from Outer Space concludes by summarising how very strange historicism is.  First we have the early Epistles, which “are weirdly silent about Jesus being discovered anywhere outside scripture and revelation” (p48).  Then, as happened for all other mythical saviour gods, a historical version was later invented by Mark, and subsequently embellished.  Mark is not even clear that he wants readers to assume his historical Jesus actually existed, given his heavy hint that everything Jesus says to the public is a parable.

The forged Epistle 2 Peter illustrates the existence of claims that the Gospels were “cleverly devised myths”, but such heresy was thoroughly suppressed and lost to history, except in the form of hidden clues, and polemics from opponents.   Apologists have lumped together all such teachings of ancient mythicism under the invented notion of “Docetism”, the heresy that Jesus only seemed to exist. They have then typically turned that into its own myth, the idea that Docetists believed Jesus was actually real but only seemed to be an illusion.   Such is the psychological intensity of the need to affirm that Jesus was real.

Carrier ends the chapter by noting that the evidence is equally strong for the historical Jesus as for the resurrected Jesus.  Yet today, because resurrection conflicts with physics, scholars are happy to dismiss the many accounts of the resurrected Jesus as fraud and fantasy, failing to see that the same motives and methods apply for the construction of the historical Jesus.

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As mentioned earlier in this thread, we don't have a live debate between Carrier and Ehrman because Ehrman won't do the debate. But here's a video where they took Ehrman's points from DJE and let Carrier respond in debate to each of the claims: 

 

 

Ehrman's pretty much wrong down the line. One claim after the next. And it sheds light on how narrow Ehrman's scholarly expertise is. He's not very multidisciplinary at all. He throws up logical fallacies to the point where it becomes questionable as to how well he understands logic in general. 

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Yes, I watched Carrier's analysis of Ehrman's statements made in his debate with Robert Price, shown in this video.  Carrier presents a superb demolition of Ehrman's empty assertions, and by extension of all Christian apologetics, which rests upon many of the false claims that Ehrman makes.  Despite his extensive scholarship, Ehrman seems to be in thrall to a range of widely accepted but unquestioned assumptions that on analysis prove unfounded.  Ehrman's statements are quite simply exposed as bluster and empty rhetoric, easily demolished by facts.  

 

It is a good fun video to watch, with the host Derek Lambert from MythVision presenting it in the form of a boxing match over ten rounds.  Each round starts with an extract of Ehrman making a point in his debate with Price, followed by Carrier explaining what Price could have said in response.  After the TKO in the first round, Ehrman seems to be punch drunk, as it is hard to explain otherwise why a serious scholar would make such absurd pulpity statements.  But there you go, that is Christianity.

 

Ehrman won't debate Carrier for the same reason a mouse won't fight a cat.

 

Mythvision is currently my favourite YouTube channel.  I see yesterday Derek had a chat titled Cringing About Our Former Christian Lives that should be of interest to all Ex-Christians.    https://www.youtube.com/c/MythVisionPodcast

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10 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

Despite his extensive scholarship, Ehrman seems to be in thrall to a range of widely accepted but unquestioned assumptions that on analysis prove unfounded.  Ehrman's statements are quite simply exposed as bluster and empty rhetoric, easily demolished by facts.  

 

Yes, that's the bottom line. Carrier is simply making objective arguments with the facts on his side. Ehrman makes a lot of claims that he should know are false. If he knows then it's intellectually dishonest and what's up with that?

 

If he doesn't know then I suppose this demonstrates the reach of cognitive dissonance out of christianity to an agnostic former christian. It's really bizarre to see how Ehrman tries to maneuver. He's not very objective at all and he can hardly follow simple logic. He even has a very preachy tone as he makes his case, as if made from the pulpit. 

 

10 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

Ehrman won't debate Carrier for the same reason a mouse won't fight a cat.

 

Robert, after seeing this exchange I'd say you're exactly right. He must be too scared to debate Carrier. And figured that Bob Price wouldn't be as savage. In any event, Price ought to use Carrier's arguments if it comes up again. If new generations start growing up familiar with the sort of arguments from objectivity and historical timeline accuracy that Carrier is making, it could change the landscape of academia eventually. 

 

Our member Pantheory has pointed out in passing, several times, that it's ridiculous that people don't see the biblical narrative like Greek mythology. But in time, what else could happen? Eventually that seems like the only way people will be able to see it. That's where the facts lead. That's where objectivity leads. 

 

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On 10/4/2021 at 10:32 PM, Joshpantera said:

 

Yes, that's the bottom line. Carrier is simply making objective arguments with the facts on his side. Ehrman makes a lot of claims that he should know are false. If he knows then it's intellectually dishonest and what's up with that? 

·       The case for conventional Christianity is entirely political and not at all scientific.  That means there is a systematic intellectual corruption occurring.  As I have said before, the core myth of Christianity is that the Gospels are basically a historical document.  This was so heavily drummed in through 2000 years of arrogant dogmatism that it really takes some time for the intellectual climate to shift.

On 10/4/2021 at 10:32 PM, Joshpantera said:

If he doesn't know then I suppose this demonstrates the reach of cognitive dissonance out of christianity to an agnostic former christian. It's really bizarre to see how Ehrman tries to maneuver. He's not very objective at all and he can hardly follow simple logic. He even has a very preachy tone as he makes his case, as if made from the pulpit. 

·       You are right that there is a bizarre cognitive dissonance in Ehrman’s approach, especially given his leading scholarly role in the exposure of fraud in classical Christian texts.  But the reality is that most Christians just don’t see it.  They only consider these debates at a crude ad hominem level, based on reputation rather than content, with personal criticisms of Carrier sufficient to enable them to totally ignore everything he says. 

·       It is like Ehrman is channelling his inner childhood preacher, as he makes arguments that Carrier proceeds to drive a freight train straight through.

On 10/4/2021 at 10:32 PM, Joshpantera said:

If new generations start growing up familiar with the sort of arguments from objectivity and historical timeline accuracy that Carrier is making, it could change the landscape of academia eventually. 

That change of thinking is inevitable, given the steady trend of culture to valuing knowledge over belief as a basis for opinion. If the Bible could be viewed purely as fiction, it could be recognised as a sublime ethical work, despite its many flaws.  But the insistence that it is history undermines its real cultural value. My view is that Carrier is rather like shock troops in a war, a vanguard who take a fearless approach to destroy the enemy defences.  They are followed up by the regular infantry who consolidate the victory.  The interesting thing will be how Christianity changes to accommodate the inevitable victory of mythicism.  As Carrier says, the starting point should be recognition that mythicism is as legitimate a scholarly position as the numerous fanciful speculations people have made about the historical Jesus.

On 10/4/2021 at 10:32 PM, Joshpantera said:

Our member Pantheory has pointed out in passing, several times, that it's ridiculous that people don't see the biblical narrative like Greek mythology. But in time, what else could happen? Eventually that seems like the only way people will be able to see it. That's where the facts lead. That's where objectivity leads. 

The reason for this situation is that the core myth of Christianity is that the Bible is primarily a historical document.  Believers simply cannot imagine Christianity adapting to a scientific historical perspective that applies the same methodological doubt to Christian texts as to any other historical evidence.  Once that adaptation is forced, New Testament literalism will go the way of Young Earth Creationism, a fringe sectarian viewpoint with no credibility.

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Chapter Three, A Plausible Jesus is Not Necessarily a Probable Jesus, begins by comparing mythicism to the Reza Aslan thesis of Jesus as a zealot, a violent revolutionary.  Carrier’s point is that Aslan is considered more respectable than mythicists, but his arguments have far less coherence and intellectual weight.  That is a paradox, only made possible by the non-existence hypothesis being ruled out on emotional grounds.

Real historical method tries to find the most probable explanation of available evidence.  It does not start with a conclusion (Jesus existed) and then bend the facts to justify it.  And people who accuse mythicists of that deceptive tactic are just engaged in psychological projection and ad hominem apologetics.

Real historical method is alert to the need to examine assumptions and prejudices.  Carrier explores this by assessing Aslan’s argument, which apparently requires that the Gospels are an incoherent collection of random oral lore.  Such a view is simply refuted by reading the text, which suggests everything in the Gospels is included for a coherent purpose. 

That purpose, Carrier argues, is to construct an imaginary fictional Jesus who fulfills scripture.  The events of Holy Week could not have occurred without Josephus mentioning them, since triumphant entry into Jerusalem as King of the Jews and Son of David, followed by the cleansing of the temple, trial and crucifixion are far bigger historical stories, if true, than many things Josephus did include.  And they could not have occurred anyway, for a host of reasons.  Carrier explains that the temple square was ten acres in size and guarded by a battalion authorised to kill troublemakers on sight. These stories are brazen and ridiculous as history, but as scriptural allegory they make perfect sense, with every element adapted from known texts.

Given the abundant mythology in the Gospels, such as drowning a thousand pigs, the range of impossible miracles and the holy spirit descending from heaven like a dove, our default assumption should be that the whole story is all mythology.  Claims to the contrary should have to carry the burden of proof.  The fact they don’t is a function of institutional power and emotional charge, not historical credibility.

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16 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

Claims to the contrary should have to carry the burden of proof.  The fact they don’t is a function of institutional power and emotional charge, not historical credibility.

 

That's just it. Someone comes here claiming that a god exists, the response is people lining up asking for the evidence which verifies the claim. The general trend is to question extraordinary claims. And this is well understood by many. 

 

But when we turn to the jesus issue, as you've seen in this thread, the burden of proof requirement isn't nearly as well understood by nearly as many people. Nevertheless, it's the exact same issue as claiming that a god exists. Where is the evidence for the claim? How is the claim that jesus really existed proven? 

 

The fact is that it can't be proven and the burden is never satisfied. Can't prove god. Nor can anyone prove that jesus existed either. It's a complete loss. The bible doesn't prove it's own claims. Obscure and suspect references found in late, completely non-contemporary pagan sources don't prove anything either. And that's literally all they have to go on. Proving the existence of a god is on sand foundations. Proving the existence of jesus is likewise on sand foundations. 

 

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