The internet is one of the most radical inventions of mankind since nuclear power. I don't believe I exaggerate when I say this. When man split the atom they not only created monumental benefits for mankind, such as nuclear power, but they also unleashed unspeakable destruction, such as nuclear war. Likewise, the advent of the internet has produced mixed results: on one hand, we have the spread of information and contact, and the ability for mankind to see what it is like to live halfway across the world when in the past one had to read about it or go visit for themselves; on the other hand, it has allowed the potential for such widespread hate, violence, and falsehood that wicked men in the past could only dream of.
One thing it has done is lead to a proliferation of conspiracy theory videos across the internet. Armed with a knowledge of editing and a microphone, any one with an opinion can get their video out to be seen by thousands - if not millions. One need only peruse YouTube to see this: there are videos of supposed alien abductions and autopsies, videos "proving" the Holocaust never happened, and the infamous documentaries (such as Loose Change) attempting to convince people the government orchestrated the September 11 attacks.
A few months ago, a new "documentary" was released entitled Zeitgeist, and it is still available on the web. A whopping two hours long, it's essentially every major conspiracy in the past decade rolled into one. It's divided into a few parts, the first of which deals with Christianity and its supposed pagan influences. I had intended to avoid it, since I loathe conspiracy theories with a passion, but I continued to hear people praising it. Over and over again I heard, "This proves the Christian God is a myth!" The apologist in me then took over, and I had inspiration to see for myself whether or not this documentary could legitimately prove any thing. I got a drink, relaxed in front of my computer, and prepared to take notes.
As I said before, the entire film is two hours long. You can gather why from the beginning, with the very tedious opening that any one with Windows Movie Maker could do: for four whole minutes you sit there staring at a virtually black screen while a man rambles on in what is essentially a strike against spirituality and patriotism. This is followed by nearly three minutes of techno music over stock footage of every gun in military history going off. Then, in a shot that looks like it could have come straight from a Nazi or Soviet propaganda film, a man begins to write a mathematical equation on a piece of paper, only to have it snatched from his hands and an American flag and Bible replacing it. Thus, just seven minutes in, we're alerted this is going to be a biased, anti-establishment film. I would not be surprised if Tom Laughlin of Billy Jack fame had any part in its making.
Following this is a sound clip of George Carlin (yes, what a fine theologian he was) discussing Christianity. The routine mocks the requests for money from many Charismatic and televangelist leaders, as if to again feed the anti-establishment feelings of many viewers. Thirteen minutes and thirty-four seconds into the film we finally get to the first part: Christianity. I sat and took notes for the entire forty minute duration that makes up the documentary's attacks against Christ. By the end I was hardly convinced by the film's arguments - in fact I outlined several issues I had with it, which I will now explain in great detail.
1) HORUS - DID CHRISTIANS RIP HIM OFF?
Horus is identified as the sun god in ancient Egyptian culture, leading to the claim Jesus was, in fact, a copied sun god. Yet right off the bat we have a very large problem. In fact, the problem is so embarrassing that you wonder how much research the filmmakers actually did...
Horus is not the sun god!
Ra is the sun god. Horus was the god of the sky, hence why he is often depicted as a falcon, not a sun. The sun does play a small part in the Horus mythology: it was considered one of his eyes along with the moon. In a battle with his rival Seth one eye was struck, hence how the Egyptians explain the sun is so bright and strong and the moon so weak and dim (remind me: when Jesus was tempted in the desert, did He have an eye plucked out?). Later on in Egyptian history, Horus was associated with the sun god, hence some variations of the Horus legend attributing him to the sun. He was also associated with other gods including Min, Sopdu, Khonsu and Montu. In fact, much like other localized pagan gods, there are many forms of Horus found throughout Egyptian history and at any point within Egypt itself - it was never a clear this-is-what-Horus-is case as Zeitgeist claims.
Moving on, we are told several things about Horus that allude to similarities with Jesus: he was born on December 25th to a virgin; his birth was marked by a star in the east; upon his birth he was adored by three kings; he was a teacher at the age of twelve; he was baptized at 30, starting his ministry; he traveled with twelve disciples; and was known by things such as "the good shepherd," "God's anointed son," and "the truth." He was also supposedly betrayed, crucified, dead for three days, and then rose again.
The point of presenting this is obvious. The filmmakers wish for the viewer to say, "Hm, this all sounds very familiar...aha! Jesus must be Horus!" However, let's review just how true these facts are one at a time.
- Was Horus born on December 25th? It is actually unclear when exactly Horus was born. Some say the ancient month of Kikellia (which actually falls in February or March), while others say the month of Khoiak. The latter is believed to have been in November and actually celebrates the death and resurrection of Osiris. In fact, the story of Osiris' death and resurrection is used by some to say the Jesus story is a plagiarized myth - not Horus.
- Was Horus born to a virgin? Actually, no. There was a "miraculous birth," but it involved Osiris, Horus' father, being resurrected from the dead after his murder by Seth and then impregnating Isis. One need only read the legend to figure this out.
She made to rise up the helpless members of him whose heart was at rest, she drew from him his essence, and she made therefrom an heir.Horus was not born of a virgin...he was born of a necrophiliac. This is a far cry from the story of the Virgin Mary.
- Was his birth marked by a star in the east? There is no record of this.
- Was his birth adored by three kings? Again, no record of this.
- Was he was a teacher at the age of twelve? There is very little to suggest this. Horus was a bit of a weakling in his youth, almost getting killed on a few occasions (one time by poison), whereas even at age 12 Jesus was astonishingly wise to those around Him.
- Was he baptized at 30, starting a ministry? Horus is thought by the film to have been baptized by "Anup the Baptizer." However, I have not found anything to confirm this. The best we can get is that some think Anup was actually Anubis, since Anubis' Egyptian name (ANPU, or ENPU) could be misspelled. However, connecting Anubis with John the Baptist would be a stretch of the imagination that would make even the most ardent atheist wince.
- Did he travel with twelve disciples? He had numerous followers, but most of them were never precisely numbered, or if they were it was never twelve. Some point to hieroglyphics in which twelve reapers are depicted, but Horus is in no way connected to it.
- Was he betrayed, crucified, and rose again? Again, there's little evidence of this. His father, Osiris (as previously stated), is the only major Egyptian god who died and rose again. As for crucifixion, this method of execution did not arrive in the region until the 4th century BC, so it would have been a bit impossible for any one in ancient Egypt to have been crucified.
- Was he known by things such as "the good shepherd," "God's anointed son," and "the truth?" Actually, the only titles given to Horus are “Great God”, “Chief of the Powers”, “Master of Heaven”, and “Avenger of His Father." He's never called anointed, the Truth, the Way, the Life, let alone the Good Shepherd. There was a title given to him called KRST, which some have claimed means anointed, but it in fact means burial.
2) WAS JESUS' BIRTH (AND DEATH) ASTROLOGICAL?
After establishing the "similarities" between Jesus and Horus, the filmmakers proceed to try and show that the story of Jesus' birth is really a mythology sourced to astrology.
December, it is explained, was considered the time of the death of the sun, as it rose and fell shorter and shorter against the horizon. What we are told is that from December 22 to December 24 the sun moves only a little bit across the sky, and in the position when the Southern Cross constellation (the Crux) is nearly above it. After December 25th, when the sun rises straight up, the sun begins to move higher again. This, the narrator says, is the connection between the "sun" dying on the "cross" and "rising again" after being dead for "three days." Furthermore, around this time of the year the eastern star Sirius is seen bright in the sky, and on December 24th is aligned with the three stars of Orion's belt, pointing to where the sun will rise. These three stars were known in ancient times as "the three kings."
There are many errors with this argument, including:
- The Crux, or Southern Cross, was not named nor identified as such until the 16th century; the ancient Greeks considered it part of the constellation Centaurus, the Centaur. This destroys the idea that there was an early connection between the sun and the cross, thereby creating the idea of "a sun dying on the cross."
- The New Testament actually never numbers the magi (who were Oriental scientists or wisemen, not kings), only the three types of gifts given. Early Christian art sometimes showed as many as eight magi greeting Christ. Besides, I have not found anything to confirm ancient civilizations referred to them as "three kings," except anti-Christian sources repeating what was said in the documentary with, "Trust us! They said it then as they do now!" The most I could find was that the three stars were given the nickname "three kings" later on in Christian Europe, thereby denoting a post-church naming as with the Southern Cross. Even if an ancient civilization did call them the "three kings," it would be, as I said, irrelevant: the original gospel story says there were magi, not kings, and they were not numbered.
- December 25th is supposed to be the day of Jesus' birth. Why would there be so many metaphors for His death? Wouldn't it make more sense to have it around the day He would have risen from the grave?
Well, let's look at the errors here:
- The narrator doesn't bother to explain the existence of the actual town of Bethlehem, which existed in Jesus' time as it does now. Unless, of course, the existence is one big conspiracy as well (in which case the governments of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have a lot of explaining to do).
- The film associates Virgo with Mary because the symbol for Virgo looks like the letter "m"...never mind that the symbol for Scorpio also looks like the letter "m." In fact, the symbol has more to do with healing and medicine than it does with m-names.
- One thing the film seems to not realize is that Virgo is associated with autumn days, and is not present in the winter - it is only seen during the spring months. Therefore, what would this have to do with Jesus' birth in Bethlehem on December 25th? Even if there was a "Bethlehem" involved in the astrological explanation, why would it be connected with a winter event? Why would it not be connected with a spring event? This fits along with the problems earlier regarding connections made between events in Jesus' death and the day He was supposedly born.
- Much like the "three kings," I can find no source outside of anti-Christian rhetoric saying that Virgo is also named "house of bread" and therefore denotes Bethlehem. Actually, the Hebrews already had a name for her: "the Abundance in Harvest," or Bethulah (not Bethlehem).
3) THE DISCIPLE-ZODIAC CONNECTION
Is there a connection between the Zodiac and the disciples? We are told outright that, with Jesus being a sun god, the disciples are all twelve symbols of the zodiac personified. This is said to be "the most obvious" astrological connection. I have to say if the symbols of the zodiac were personified, then we have a bigger miracle than we realized: the constellations came down to earth and took flesh!
Why the sarcasm here? I use sarcasm because we know the apostles existed. Historical figures such as Ignatius of Antioch can attest to not only the existence of apostles but scripture being contemporary to the apostles, such as Matthew's gospel. To deny the existence of the apostles would be equally as silly as denying Plato or Socrates existed.
In any case, the tie between twelve disciples and twelve signs of the zodiac is one that only works if you compare numbers. However, if you begin to think for yourself, you realize just how silly this tie is. For example, did each disciple correspond to a specific sign? Did all their personalities match? Which one was Virgo? Which one was Scorpio? Incidentally, not all the disciples remained on the team and later became apostles: Judas, as everyone knows, betrayed Jesus and later hung himself. Which sign in the zodiac betrays the sun? Which sign in the zodiac killed itself? Or was Matthias, chosen to replace Judas after his death (Acts 1:26), also a sign of the zodiac? In that case, does Judas still count? Are there thirteen signs of the zodiac?
Furthermore, if we are to believe the connection made by Zeitgeist between Christianity and Egyptian polytheism, then we need to understand it within that context for all things lest we are guilty of irrationality. In regards to the disciples and the zodiac, does it fit with the Egyptian form of the zodiac? Yes...and no. The Egyptian zodiac did have twelve parts, but they were all named after the gods, including Horus. Jesus, we were told, is Horus. Does this mean Jesus was in fact one of the disciples?
Also interesting to note is the statement by the narrator that the zodiac became a cross with a circle around it. The film then cuts to several scenes of Celtic crosses...which didn't come until much later and were unique to Celtic Christianity. In fact, all the crosses they show are not in museums but atop modern churches. In the early days of Christianity, cross symbols simply looked like crosses. The documentary has once again played a game of "They both look similar, so they must be related!"
4) MESSING WITH QUOTES
If there was any doubt of dishonesty in this documentary, it is broken in the section where the narrator begins to quote passages from the New Testament to prove Christianity is pagan. Most, if not all, are blatant distortions of the original meaning.
For example, the narrator quotes John 14:3, in which Jesus says "I will come again," but the narrator reads it, "The risen savior will come again, as it does every morning." Yet in the context of John 14:3, Jesus will come again only once; it doesn't take an astronomer to know that the sun doesn't rise only once in history. Another example is when they quote John 3:3, in which Jesus says someone must be "born again," but this too is distorted so that it reads, "God, who is born again every morning." However, God is not the subject here, but the true followers of Christ. Furthermore, the following passages show that this is a new birth both in water and spirit - what does water have to do with the sun?
The most prime example can be found with the passage of Luke 22:10. The narrator says that apostles ask Jesus when the last Passover will be, and Jesus describes a man carrying water. The narrator uses this to allude to the coming of the Age of Aquarius (I'll get to that later), which would make sense as Aquarius is a man holding water. However, it doesn't make any sense if you actually check the scripture. Luke 22 describes Jesus and His disciples preparing for the Passover and the holiday's meal. Let's review the passages before Luke 22:10:
Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat." So they said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare?" [Luke 22:7-9]Do you see any where the disciples asking when the last Passover will be? No. Jesus is planning for the current Passover, instructing His disciples how to prepare, and foretelling what the disciples will see in town. The makers of Zeitgeist have therefore revealed, in plain sight, an example of malicious distortion of the truth.
By the way, I have to admit I had a laugh here. The phrase "crown of thorns" in John 19:5 is said to be alluding to sun rays. Once again, I think even the most passionate atheist would roll his eyes at that. It's like saying Claude Monet's famous water lilies are metaphors for vaginas (don't laugh, Georgia O'Keefe dealt with that most of her career).
5) THE AGES OF...AEONS?
The narrator says the translation of Matthew 28:20, in which Jesus says, "I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age," is actually a mistranslation. The original word is aeon. In my own personal research I found the Greek word in Matthew 28:20 is aionos, which does come from the Greek word aion. It actually means a perpetuity of time. Aionos is sometimes translated as "world" (such as in 1 Corinthians 1:20), and it amazes me Zeitgeist doesn't try to play with that rather than what they went ahead with. Furthermore, "age" is indeed a proper definition of aion. In any case, we are told that this assists us in understanding what Jesus meant by the word "age."
What this alluded to, according to Zeitgeist, was the procession of the equinoxes. It takes approximately 26,000 years for all twelve constellations in the zodiac to circle the earth as it turns, and roughly 2150 years between each sign. Supposedly the Bible speaks of three ages: the time of Moses, the time of Christ, and the next age which some Christians believe to be Christ's return. Around the time of Exodus was when the Age of Taurus the Bull ended and the Age of Aeris the Ram began. The golden calf apparently signaled the old age, whereas the ram represented Moses. Jesus' birth coincided with the advent of Pisces the two fish, which is supposedly why there are so many references to fish and fishermen in the New Testament, and why one symbol of Christianity is a fish. The next age will be the Age of Aquarius - this, the narrator says, is what Jesus meant when He said He would be with them even onto the end of the age.
The ancient civilizations, we are told, understood this, hence why it is obvious it is tied to Christian and Jewish religion. The problem with this statement, however, is that the man who discovered and recorded the procession of the equinox, the Greek astronomer Hipparchus, lived from the time around 190-120 BC...long after the life of Moses, and long after the date of existing manuscripts containing Hebrew scripture existed. There was little chance it could have played a major influence on Hebrew, and therefore Christian, theology. This entire argument, therefore, becomes nonsensical.
6) THE EVIL COUNCIL OF NICAEA
I'm going to be brief here because, quite frankly, I am tired of having to deal with this misunderstanding. I can only go over the same road so many times. Since The Da Vinci Code and the comics of Jack Chick, many people have come to the assumption that the First Council of Nicaea was some evil, dictatorial meeting where political allies of the emperor oppressed other churches and instituted pagan beliefs (never mind that in actuality the ones condemned at Nicaea took over afterward and persecuted everyone else).
This is immediately followed by "the Vatican" creating a "stranglehold" on society - apparently the eastern churches never existed. As I said, it's the same tired old tripe that I have heard over and over again, and I grow weary of confronting it. People have this belief that there was Jesus, His apostles, then suddenly the evil, wicked, demonic Roman Catholic Church popped out of no where and took over. This ignores a thousand years of Christian history and presents an easy way of telling if we're dealing with an amateur historian or someone who actually did their homework. Unfortunately, the people who made this documentary are the former.
I will give the makers of Zeitgeist some credit for coming up with a new conspiracy: they claim Gnostic Christians, who were indeed influenced by paganism, took over the religion and did away with all the other sects. Usually anti-Christian propaganda says that the Gnostics were oppressed and murdered. Actually, given the knowledge that the apostle John himself fought Gnostic heretics and that most church leaders and officials spoke out against Gnostics, this probably solidifies exactly how bizarre it is that any one can consider this documentary to have legitimate facts.
Most interesting in the attacks against the Church Fathers is the quotes given by Justin Martyr regarding comparisons between Christ's deity and the deity of Greek gods. No exact source is given for these quotes, but after doing my own research I found they came from The First Apology, which was addressed to the Roman emperor and his court. In any case, quotes such as, "We propound nothing different than you regarding the sons of Jupiter," is made to look like the early Christians believed there were similarities between Christianity and polytheism. Yet, this is distorting Justin Martyr's intention. That's all he's pointing out: similarities. He's showing that the pagans, who saw the Christian beliefs as silly, had similar beliefs themselves and were therefore being inconsistent. Much like the similarities between an Egyptian work of art and a Christian work of art (discussed previously), it should be made clear that a subjective opinion made by the film like, "Oh! They both look the same!" is not scholarly.
Yet if we concede Justin Martyr draws similarities between the two theologies, what then of the Church Fathers who fought against any introduction of pagan beliefs? Irenaeus's book Against Heresy is full of attacks against groups of people who mixed paganism with Christianity...including, I might add, Egyptian and zodiacal mythology. Irenaeus described such mythology believed by the Marcosian heresy:
As to the Duodecad, it is indicated by the zodiacal circle, as it is called; for they affirm that the twelve signs do most manifestly shadow forth the Duodecad, the daughter of Anthropos and Ecclesia. And since the highest heaven, beating upon the very sphere [of the seventh heaven], has been linked with the most rapid precession of the whole system, as a check, and balancing that system with its own gravity, so that it completes the cycle from sign to sign in thirty years — they say that this is an image of Horus, encircling their thirty-named mother. And then, again, as the moon travels through her allotted space of heaven in thirty days, they hold, that by these days she expresses the number of the thirty Æons.Apparently the early Christians were aware of Egyptian mythology and aware of zodiacal mythology, as well as their attempts to influence early Christianity...and they condemned it openly. There was therefore no situation of Christians intermingling pagan beliefs with Jewish theology, only the church combating any possibility of those pagan deities slipping in, using their profound knowledge and intellect to scrutinize for any slight possibility of such heresies slipping in. We should be grateful to Christ for instilling in men the spirit to combat spiritual sabotage during Christianity's difficult early years.
The sun also, who runs through his orbit in twelve months, and then returns to the same point in the circle, makes the Duodecad manifest by these twelve months; and the days, as being measured by twelve hours, are a type of the invisible Duodecad. Moreover, they declare that the hour, which is the twelfth part of the day, is composed of thirty parts, in order to set forth the image of the Triacontad. Also the circumference of the zodiacal circle itself contains three hundred and sixty degrees (for each of its signs comprises thirty); and thus also they affirm, that by means of this circle an image is preserved of that connection which exists between the twelve and the thirty. Still further, asserting that the earth is divided into twelve zones, and that in each zone it receives power from the heavens, according to the perpendicular [position of the sun above it], bringing forth productions corresponding to that power which sends down its influence upon it, they maintain that this is a most evident type of the Duodecad and its offspring. [Against Heresy Book I, Chapter 19; all emphasis mine]
Zeitgeist, like so many online documentaries, is a cavalcade of falsehoods rather than facts. It presents a case not based on solid evidence but rather a handful of facts supported only by subjective opinions like, "They both look the same," or "I don't think this could be right, so that makes the other possibility fact." Someone who has no real knowledge on the subject may be easily swayed, but someone who has studied the topic will quickly realize something wrong is afoot.
After the first time I saw it, I wondered just how the filmmakers had come to their conclusions. Very little of this film cites sources or quotes historical sources. It's very noticeable that the narrator will simply state things matter-of-factly, as if we're just expected to swallow what's given to us. During my research I found that many of these accusations actually come from a 19th century historian by the name of Gerald Massey. Like Zeitgeist, Massey claimed Jesus was Horus revamped with many similarities between the two, that the three kings referred to Orion's belt, and that the "Son of God" was actually the "sun god." However, he has been criticized for stating these opinions while citing no source in Egyptian literature or Christian literature. This would explain why so much of my research into the belief of Orion's belt being called "three kings" and Virgo being called "house of bread" ends with no real solid evidence ancient people used these names, but rather anti-Christian authors stating, "I heard this, so it must be true." Therefore, anti-Christian books took Gerald Massey's assertions to heart, not realizing little of it was based off actual archaeological evidence. It would seem these distortions survived through the 19th and 20th centuries and are now finding a home in the 21st century. Sadly, people even today believe it, and seem to believe it willingly without any effort to research what they are told. As Vladimir Lenin once said, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."
I hope this post will educate people on how to counter these beliefs, and enable them to respond to these accusations accordingly. Heresy and distorted facts regarding Christ began with His birth, continued after His death, and I don't think we will ever see an end to them until the day He returns. Until then, we must be loyal servants, ready to defend His name. Amen.