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An exorcism, explained

An exorcism:

You must command the demon to leave in the name of Jesus, and through the authority He has given by His sacrifice on the cross. Have no one present (or even in the home at all) that is not a true Christian so the demon cannot enter someone else. Make the command as specific as possible, and include when it should leave. I use descriptions such as "in the same moment I complete this statement" to show when I want it to leave. Be commanding and authoritative, but also show respect and do not insult or harass the demon, even Michael said "the Lord rebuke you, Satan" with politeness, yet he was firm and full of the Lord's authority. Show no weakness or doubt. Spend time in prayer and fasting the day before. Many exorcists fast for the entire day before, and spend much time in prayer. Do NOT ask the demon to prove itself or show its power. Do NOT engage it in any form of debate or argument, that is a common trick they use to distract you. Ignore what it says if it speaks - it may know exactly how to get to you, and you cannot let that happen. Make certain to remove and destroy any occult paraphernalia from the home, and make sure that the patient gives full consent and agrees to reject sin and embrace God. When you address the demon you may call it 'demon', 'devil', 'satan', 'evil spirit', or something similar, but you do not need to know it's name. Do not use icons, relics, salt, sage, or anything else. All that demons respond to is the authority of Jesus Christ. If after fasting and prayer you feel that you are not up to the task, attempt to find a local exorcist by contacting the Catholic church. A failed attempt can make matters worse. Also try to find the cause of the possession by interviewing the person, and have them say a prayer of repentance for the cause and of submission to Christ - sometimes that alone is enough to fix a problem if it is caught early enough.

the savior myth

The following is an article taken from:
http://christianthinktank.com/copycat.html

This is one of those questions that amaze me that it is STILL raised...so I decided to write it all up. Often I get an email that reads like this:

The reason for this letter is that I am wondering if you could answer a question I have. In one of your html pages the subject of Mithras is touched upon lightly and a link is given for further information. The link goes nowhere though, and I am really interested in finding out more about Mithras and other Dying-God mythologies. The reason is because I often enter correspondences and dialogues with atheists. Recently one such atheist raised his question, and I am still waiting to respond to him, because of my unfamiliarity with the subject. His letter went like this:

How can a historic personage (such as Jesus) have a recorded life (according to the New Testament in the Bible) almost identical to various other mythos out there including but not limited to:
Mithras (Roman Mithraism)
Horus (Egyptian God of Light)
Both of these religions came *before* Christianity and are clearly labeled as myths yet the 'stories' of their lives are, in many ways, identical to the 'life' of Jesus the Christ.

Now, before you say that I am jumping logic or that you have never ever heard of what I am talking about . . my question is this:

*IF* the information that I have just stated above is TRUE
*THEN* would it not bear strong evidence to the face that Jesus the Christ was and is not a historic personage?

Just answer that directly.

I would appreciate any help or information you could offer on the subject. Thank you


......................................................................................

Notice the general allegation--

There are material, significant, and pervasive similarities between the Jesus Christ of the New Testament and other Dying God-figures (and/or Savior-figures), and that these similarities are best explained by the hypothesis that the figure of Jesus is materially derived from (or heavily influenced by) these other Dying God/Savior-figures..

Sometimes the allegation is worded strongly--Jesus was NOT a real person, but a legend; sometimes it is worded less strongly--Jesus was real, but was fused with these derivative mythic elements such that THEY became the core teachings about Jesus.

Now, before we try to analyze this notion, we need to gather some established criteria (from scholars) on how to detect and establish that 'borrowing' (especially "content/material" borrowing) has occurred.

Fortunately, there are a number of established criteria for this (so we don't have to 'make up' or 'create' our own), drawing largely from the work of scholars working in the area of Semitic influence on the Greek/Western world (e.g., Walter Burkert, Charles Pengrase, M. L. West), so let's start with some of their work:

"Since the discovery of the Akkadian epics and of Gilgamesh in particular, there has been no shortage of associations between motifs in these and in the Homeric epics, especially the Odyssey. These motifs can be highlighted and used to surprise, but hardly to prove anything: Approximately the same motifs and themes will be found everywhere. Instead of individual motifs, therefore, we must focus on more complex structures, where sheer coincidence is less likely: a system of deitites and a basic cosmological idea, the narrative structure of a whole scene, decrees of the gods about mankind, or a very special configuration of attack and defense. Once the historical link, the fact of transmission, has been established, then further connections, including linguistic borrowings, become more likely, even if these alone do not suffice to carry the burden of proof." [OT:ORNEI:88; his examples often contain elements that are 'holdovers'--elements that appear in the borrower that only made sense in the original source...they are unexpected and without purpose in the new usage, since they have been removed from their original context.]

"I can anticipate at least two possible lines of criticism that may be employed against my work. One would be that, in stressing similarities and parallels, I have ignored the great differences between Greek and Near Eastern literatures...my answer will be that of course Greek literature has its own character, its own traditions and conventions, and the contrast that might be drawn between it and any of the oriental literatures might far outnumber the common features. If anyone wants to write another book and point them out, I should have no objection...But even if it were ten times the size of mine (600+ pages!), it would not diminish the significance of the likenesses, because they are too numerous and too striking to be put down to chance. You cannot argue against the fact that it is raining by pointing out that much of the sky is blue." [HI:EFHWAE:viii]

"Difficult and hazardous are words which describe the study of Mesopotamian influence in Greek myths, and an appropriate method is essential. To establish influence, or at least the likelihood of influence, there are two main steps. First it is necessary to establish the historical possibility of influence, and then the parallels between the myths of the areas must fulfill a sufficiently rigorous set of relevant criteria." [HI:GMM:5]

"The second step of the method is to demonstrate the existence of parallels of the correct nature between the Mesopotamian and Greek literary material. Parallels must have qualities which conform to a suitable set of criteria in order to indicate influence or its likelihood." [HI:GMM:5]

"It is all too easy to run eagerly after superficial parallels which cannot really be sustained under a closer scrutiny. Accordingly, the parallels must have similar ideas underlying them and, second, any suggestion of influence requires that the parallels be numerous, complex and detailed, with a similar conceptual usage and, ideally, that they should point to a specific myth or group of related myths in Mesopotamia. Finally, the parallels and their similar underlying ideas must involve central features in the material to be compared. Only then, it would seem, may any claim stronger than one of mere coincidence be worthy of serious consideration" [HI:GMM:7]


What kinds of examples do these authors offer us?

West gives the example of Semitic idiom expressed in the Greek narrative text--totally unexplainable apart from borrowing [HI:EFHWAE]
Burkert gives the example of the single-mention Tethsys (as wife of Oceanus, in Homer), as a translation of Tiamat (as wife of Apsu, in Enuma Elish)--Tethsys never occurs in all of mythology anywhere else; it is best/only explained as a narrative 'holdover' from borrowed narrative structure [OT:ORNEI:92ff]
Penglase gives the examples of condensed summaries of large mythic complexes (implying reader familiarity) and of combinations of motif/underlying ideas applied in new contexts flawlessly, in Hesiod and Homer [HI:GMM:237ff]
Puhvel gives the parallel scenes of Typhon in the sea (Nonnos) and Ullikummi (Hittite myth), in which numerous visual details and spatial arrangements are described in similar terms, in similar narrative context, and in similar sequence [WR:CM:29; 'numerous, complex, detailed']


Now, if we extract some principles from these scholars, we would end up with:

Similarity of general motifs is not enough to "prove anything"; we must have "complex structures" (e.g., 'system of deities', 'narrative structure').
Ideally, we would need to establish the historical link first, before looking for borrowings.
Differences between structures/stories/complexes do not disprove influence, as long as the parallels are 'too numerous' and 'too striking'.
Parallels must be 'striking' (i.e., unexpected, 'odd', difficult to account for).
Some/many parallels/parallel motifs are superficial (i.e., identical on the surface), and 'prove nothing'.
Parallels that can be used to support the possibility of influence need to be numerous.
Parallels that can be used to support the possibility of influence need to be complex (i.e., with multiple parts and interrelationships).
Parallels that can be used to support the possibility of influence need to be detailed.
The details in alleged parallels must have the same "conceptual usage" reflected in them (e.g., they must be used with the same meaning).
The parallels must have the same ' ideas underlying them'.
The similar ideas in alleged parallels must be 'central features' in the material--and not just isolated or peripheral elements.
Details which are completely unexpected (to the point of being unexplainable apart from borrowing) are strong evidence for borrowing
Details which are almost irrelevant to the new context, but which have function in the old context are strong evidence for borrowing

Now, let me also point out here that the amount and texture of the evidence has to be very strong, for even in cases that do NOT look superficial, there still may be considerable doubt about the actual fact of direct influence or borrowing. Take this case from [HI:CMY6:13f]:

"For example, there are obvious parallels between the Greek creation and succession myths and myths of Near Eastern cultures. The myth of the castration of Uranus by Cronus is better understood if we compare it with the Hittite myth of Kumarbi, in which Anu, the sky-god, is castrated by Kumarbi, who rises against him. Kumarbi swallows Anu's genitals, spits them out when he cannot contain them, and is finally replaced by the storm-god. The structure of this tale is paralleled by the myth of Uranus, castrated by Cronus, who, in his turn, cannot hold what he as swallowed (in this case, his children) and is eventually replaced by the sky-god Zeus. Some details in the two tales, of course, are different, but the basic functions (kingship, revolt, castration, swallowing, regurgitation, replacement by a new king) are the same and occur in the same sequence. Thus the basic structure is the same and a better understanding of the origin and purpose of the Greek myth, as narrated by Hesiod, is achieved by comparison with the older myth from Near Eastern culture. Whether direct influence can be proved (and scholars do not agree on this point), the structural similarities do at least show how Greek myths are to be studied in conjunction with those of other cultures." [emphasis mine]

The point I want to make here is that even with this 'numerous, complex, and detailed' structure, scholars are STILL NOT sure that borrowing happened! So, our evidence for borrowing will have to be at least stronger than this example.


So, to apply these to our case here, we would need to show that:

The similarities between Jesus (as portrayed in the NT--not by the later post-apostolic Church Fathers) and the other relevant Savior-gods are very numerous, very 'striking', non-superficial, complex, within similar conceptual or narrative structures, detailed, have the same underlying ideas, be difficult to account for apart from borrowing, and be 'core' or 'central' to the story/image/motif enough to suspect borrowing;


That we can come up with a historically plausible explanation of HOW the borrowing occurred;

What this means, of course, is that it is not simply enough to point to some vague similarities and yell "copy cat!"--one must, in light of the scholars' criteria documented above, be prepared somehow to defend his/her alleged parallels from the charge of being 'superficial' and to show that they are 'striking' (a rather subjective term, of course). In the scholarly world, noted above, the burden of argument was on the 'proponent' of borrowing. Each of the scholars above realize that there is a certain amount of subjectivity in how much one 'weights' the pieces, and our case is no different. The reader has to decide whether the parallels advanced by the CopyCatist are numerous, detailed, striking, complex, central, etc., etc. Even in such a monumental work as that by West, he can point out: "I am well aware that some of the parallels are more compelling that others. Readers must decide for themselves what weight they attach to each." [HI:EFHWAE:viii])

Now, we need to be really clear about the time frame we are talking about here. The issue that I am trying to address deals only with the New Testament literature, specifically the gospels and post-Revelation epistles. I not at all interested in 'defending' the wide array of post-apostolic 'interpretations' and 'syncretistic methods' of any later Christian folk--including the Church Fathers. It is the Jesus of the gospels and epistles, and the claims made and images used of Him and His work on our behalf in them that concerns me here. This means that Christian material and events after around 65ad is of little concern to me (except as it bears on questions of NT authorship perhaps), and does not count as evidence for New Testament authors' "borrowing" of mythic/pagan elements in their creation of the foundational documents of the church--because of the time frames involved. For example, the fact that the New Testament nowhere assigns a specific date (year, month, date, or day of week) to the birthday of Jesus, means that any allegations that the post-apolstolic church later 'borrowed' a birthday from a rival figure (e.g. Mithras, Sol Invictus) is irrelevant to the original objection above. [We will, of course, have to discuss the sociological aspects of that possibility below.]

So, let's examine each of these in turn:.

The similarities between Jesus (as portrayed in the NT) and the other relevant Savior-gods are very numerous, very 'striking', non-superficial, complex, within similar conceptual or narrative structures, detailed, have the same underlying ideas, and be 'core' or 'central' to the story/image/motif enough to suspect borrowing;


This issue is somehow seen as the 'strength' of the position(!), for the normal reader can sometimes be amazed at alleged similarities (note the words "almost identical" in the email question above).

However, there are several considerations that must be examined BEFORE we get into the alleged similarities:

Consideration: There is a surprising tendency of scholars of all persuasions to adopt Christian terminology in describing non-Christian religions, rituals, myths, etc. (e.g. "baptism", the "Last Supper"). [Joseph Campbell is sometimes a good example of this.] Sometimes this is done to establish some conceptual link for the reader, but often it borders on misleading the reader. Too often a writer uses such terminology imprecisely in describing a non-Christian element and then expresses shock in finding such similarities between the religions.

Nash points this out:

"One frequently encounters scholars who first use Christian terminology to describe pagan beliefs and practices, and then marvel at the striking parallels they think they have discovered. One can go a long way toward "proving" early Christian dependence on the mysteries by describing some mystery belief or practice in Christian terminology...Exaggerations and oversimplifications abound in this kind of literature. One encounters overblown claims about alleged likenesses between baptism and the Lord's Supper and similar "sacraments" in certain mystery cults...The mere fact that Christianity has a sacred meal and a washing of the body is supposed to prove that it borrowed these ceremonies from similar meals and washings in the pagan cults. By themselves, of course, such outward similarities prove nothing. After all, religious ceremonies can assume only a limited number of forms, and they will naturally relate to important or common aspects of human life. The more important question is the meaning of the pagan practices." [http://www.summit.org/Resources/NT&PaganRel.htm]


Nash is demonstrating one of the criteria we noted above--that the details must have the same underlying idea, for it to count as a parallel. [He uses the phrase "outward" similarities, in a similar usage to how Penglase uses "superficial".] A ritual dip in water, for example, is NOT a baptism if its purpose in the dogma of a particular religion is different. According the scholarly criteria, the lack of parallel in the underlying idea or 'conceptual usage' destroys this as piece of evidence for borrowing.

.......................................................................................................

A good example of this might be the rite of the Taurobolium (from the cult of the Worship of the Great Mother or Cybele/Attis). In it a priest stood in a pit under a plank floor containing a bull and a lamb (the two are always connected in the inscriptions). The bull was slaughtered and the blood of the animal fell upon the priest below. The priest comes up 'consecrated' to the priesthood, and is hailed as 'reborn' (renatus). In one late text (fourth century), he is said to have been 'reborn eternally'.

Predictably, some writers have used the phrase "washed in the blood of the Lamb" or "sprinkled with the blood of Jesus" to describe this ceremony, and earlier commentators have seen this as perhaps the basis for Paul's teaching in Romans 6 (union with Christ), images of 'spiritual childgrowth', the new birth, and even resurrection. Although there are perhaps those who still hold to this, this has largely been abandoned :

"Still others suggest that Paul's conception is related to ideas of union with a dying and rising god that was popular in Hellenistic 'mystery religions.' These 'mystery religions,' a group of religions very popular in the Hellenistic world, featured secret initiations and promised their adherents 'salvation,' often by participation in a cultic act that was held to bring the initiate into union with a god. Under the impulse of the history-of-religions movement early in this century, many scholars attributed various doctrines of Paul to dependence on these religions. But direct dependence of Paul on these religions is now widely discounted. More popular is the view that Paul’s Hellenistic churches interpreted their experience of Christ in the light of these religions and that Paul’s teaching demonstrates point of contact with, and corrections of, this existing tradition…The mystical and repeated ‘dying and rising’ of a mystery religion adherent with a nature god like Osiris or Attis has little to do with Paul’s focus on the Christian's participation in the historical events of Christ's life.” [NICNT, 'Romans', p362n54]

"Ancient Near Eastern religions had long had traditions of dying-and-rising gods, general vegetation deities renewed annually in the spring. Some ancient sources, especially early Christian interpretations of these religions, suggest that initiates into various mystery cults “died and rose with” the deity. Scholars early in the twentieth century naturally saw in this tradition the background for Paul’s language here. Although the evidence is still disputed, it is not certain that the mysteries saw a once-for-all dying-and-rising in baptism, as in Paul, until after Christianity became a widespread religious force in the Roman Empire that some other religious groups imitated. More important, the early Christian view of resurrection is certainly derived from the Jewish doctrine rather than from the seasonal revivification of Greek cults." [BBC, at Rom 6]

"On the basis of this evidence it can be firmly concluded that a direct influence from any mystery cult or from the Isis cult in particular, on Paul or on the theology of Rom 6:3–4, is most unlikely" [WBC, Romans, 6.3f]

“The older history of religions school sought to find the derivation of the notion ‘new birth’ in the mystery religions of the Hellenistic world, where initiates passed from death into life by being brought into a mysterious intimacy with the deity. But in the light of the scarcity of early ‘new birth’ terminology such as anagennao in the mystery religions, recent scholarship has sought an origin of the concept elsewhere…A more likely origin has been found in the OT and Judaism” [NT:DictLNT, s.v. ‘new birth’]

“Some scholars have seen the background for such terminology (e.g. childhood and growth) in the mystery religions, with their notion of spiritual progression through various cultic rituals. Though some aspects of these texts can be understood in this context, the notion of stages of faith was already present in some of the most distinctive teaching of Jesus, and ordinary family relationships provide a more plausible background here.” [NT:DictLN , s.v. ‘sonship, child, children”]

"Some scholars have suggested that it was taken over from Greek mystery religions, in which initiation was conceived in terms of death and resurrection. From considerations of the late date of the records of these rites and differences of interpretation, particularly as to whether initiates in such cults clearly identified with a deity in death and resurrection or were offered immortality through such ritual experience, the suggestion is highly unlikely [NT:DictPL,s.v., "dying and rising"]

“Some have suggested that Paul was influenced by the Greek mystery religions in his concept of dying and rising with Christ. But this hypothesis is unnecessary and unlikely: Baptism is a very Jewish phenomenon, and there is little doubt that it came to Christians directly or indirectly from John the Baptist. For John baptism was very much associated with the advent of the eschatological day of the Lord, and this eschatological dimension continues in Christian baptism. But for Christians like Paul the decisive eschatological events are the death and resurrection of Jesus; it is thus intelligible that baptism as the rite of initiation into the saved eschatological community should come to be associated with Jesus’ saving death and resurrection. There is therefore no need to invoke the mystery religions to explain Paul’s baptismal teaching. It is, however, possible that the Jesus-traditions that speak of taking up the cross and sharing in the sufferings of Jesus were influential.” [PFJFC:155f]


Now, the main reason this position has generally been abandoned (as noted above) is that it is altogether unnecessary, and less 'useful' as an explanatory construct: the elements in the gospels and epistles all make more sense as having developed out of mainstream Judaism and have much more 'numerous, complex, and striking parallels' to Old Testament/Tanaach themes and passages. Apart from issues of chronology and questions of motivation for borrowing (separate problems from that of detecting forceful parallels), the Jewish background furnishes us with a system of underlying ideas needed to make sense of the imagery.

Don Howell explains the general rationale for the diminishing of this 'borrowing' position [BibSac, V150, #599, Jul 93, p310]:

"At the turn of the 20th century a new approach to Paul was forged by the religionsgeschichtliche Schule, “the History of Religions School.” Spawned in Germany, this approach built on the Tübingen dichotomy between Palestinian and Hellenistic Christianity, and found the origins of the more developed Pauline Christology in the mystery religions and pagan cults of the Greek world. The mystery religions of Greece (Eleusian), Egypt (Isis and Osiris), Syria (Adonis), Asia Minor (Cybele), and Rome (Mithras) were researched and mined for parallels with Pauline theology. A dying-rising redeemer god, the exalted kurios, sacramental redemption, initiation into mystic participation in the deity, gnosis, and pneumatic experience were mystery-religion concepts claimed to have conditioned Paul’s thinking.

"Two pioneers in this field were Bousset and Reitzenstein. Bousset argued that the Jesus of the primitive Palestinian church was the eschatological Son of Man, largely derived from Daniel 7:13–14. But in the Greek-speaking Christian communities like Antioch, Jesus was transformed, under the influence of the Hellenistic mystery cults, into the acclaimed kurios. “Behind the personal piety of Paul and his theology there stands as a real power and a living reality the cultic veneration of the kurios in the community.” With consummate skill Bousset explored the Hermetic literature, Philo, Gnostic documents, and the cults of Isis, Osiris, and Orphis and discovered “parallels” with Paul’s Christ-mysticism ("in Christ"), doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Christ-Adam theology, cross and sacrament, and the dying-rising Redeemer. Reitzenstein, a philologist and authority on Eastern Gnosticism, researched the second-and third-century Hermetic literature and concluded that Gnostic terminology was the source of Paul’s Christology. Neill, in an extended survey of the History of Religions approach, credits the Harvard scholar Kirsopp Lake with popularizing in America the arguments of German scholars such as Bousset and Reitzenstein .

"The influence of the various religionsgeschichtliche models has greatly diminished in recent decades with the discovery of the Qumran scrolls and wider research in the Jewish materials of the intertestamental (Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha) and New Testament (rabbinical traditions) periods. It is no longer feasible to separate Hellenistic and Jewish influences into two hermetically sealed compartments. Paul’s Jewishness is in the process of being rediscovered. But a more fundamental issue is the entire logic of the comparative religionist methodology which presupposes the apostle to have been an inclusivistic, impressionable absorber of alien ideas rather than the proclaimer of a pure gospel of faith and repentance. As Hunter comments,

They did not stop to consider that their knowledge of these mysteries was really very scanty, that all this amazing transmogrification of the Gospel must have taken place within twenty years, that, if Paul derived his message from his environment, he did what no other missionary has ever done--borrowed his gospel from the people among whom he worked. And, C.E. Arnold, in his article on Syncretism in [NT:DictLNT] summarized the current state of scholarship in this way:

"To what extent did the Hellenistic/Roman syncretism influence the development of early Christianity? H. Gunkel and other adherents of the History-of-Religions School argued that it was a major factor. Gunkel, in fact, concluded that, “Christianity is a syncretistic religion” (Gunkel, 95). He argued that the NT was strongly influenced by many foreign religions, but that these beliefs entered Christianity in the first instance through Judaism, which itself was very strongly syncretistic. R. Bultmann spoke of syncretism more often in connection with Hellenistic Christianity, which he sharply distinguished from Jewish Christianity. He noted, “on the whole, one could be tempted to term Hellenistic Christianity a syncretistic structure” (Bultmann, 1.164). For Bultmann the Jewish apocalyptic kerygma of Jesus was combined with the gnostic myth of redemption as Christianity spread to the Gentile world. Like Gunkel, however, he saw Hellenistic Judaism as “in the grip of syncretism” (Bultmann, 1.171) and therefore as the purveyor of these concepts to Christianity.

"The subsequent course of scholarship has effectively dismantled many of the conclusions drawn by the History-of-Religions School. Various studies have demonstrated that there was not one coherent gnostic redeemer myth nor was there a common mystery-religion theology. We have already touched on the fact that Judaism was not the syncretistic religion that some scholars once thought that it was. Now most scholars are reluctant to assume that Gnosticism even existed during the genesis and early development of Christianity.

"The majority of scholars are reaffirming the essential Jewishness of the early Christian movement. The background of various Christian rites, ideas and terms is being illustrated out of the OT and Judaism, in contrast to the previous generation that pointed to gnostic texts and the mystery religions. The background of the Christian practice of baptism, for instance, is now seldom traced to the mystery initiation sacraments of Attis, Adonis or Osiris but to the OT initiation rite of circumcision and the Jewish water purification rituals.

"Gunkel, Bultmann and others clearly undervalued the formative influence of the OT and Judaism for early Christianity. Neither were they sufficiently open to the possibility that the NT writers could use religious language shared by adherents of other religions without adopting the full meaning of that language, as it was understood in other religious contexts. In other words, Christian writers could use the term mystery (e.g., Rev 10:7; Ign. Magn. 9.1; Diogn. 4.6) without implying that Christianity is a mystery religion like the cults of Cybele or Mithras. John could use the image of light (1 Jn 1:5, 7; 2:8, 9, 10) without dependence on a gnostic light-darkness dualism. Both of these terms have long histories of usage in the OT that provide us with the essential conceptual framework for understanding their NT usage. Yet at the same time they are terms that would communicate in a Gentile world, albeit now with a different set of connotations.

"There is also evidence that the apostles and leaders in the early Christian movement made explicit and earnest attempts to resist the syncretistic impulses of the age. For example, when Paul preached in Lystra (Acts 14:8–20), he was faced with an opportunity to make a syncretistic innovation to the gospel. Luke records that after Paul healed a crippled man the people of the city mistook him for Hermes (the messenger of Zeus) and Barnabas for Zeus. Rather than allowing any form of identification with their gods (even the identification of “the living God” with Zeus), Paul takes the bold step of telling them to “turn from these worthless things” to the one God, the Creator (Acts 14:15). Earliest Christianity appears to have made stringent effort to resist the larger cultural trend toward the identification of deities and directed people to the God of Israel, who had now revealed himself in the Lord Jesus Christ.


To illustrate this from one of the alleged examples of borrowing, "washed in the blood of the Lamb" makes perfect sense being seen against the background of OT usage:

"Making robes white with blood is clearly a ritual rather than visual image: sacrificial blood purified utensils for worship in the Old Testament (see comment on Heb 9:21–22), and white was the color of robes required for worship in the New Testament period. [BBC, in.loc.]


Likewise, the same goes for "sprinkled with the blood of Jesus", which could refer back to either of two OT passages/themes [although the Numbers 19 passage does not have any blood actually in the water of purification]:

"Such an understanding helps explain why obedience precedes rather than follows the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” The latter phrase gives concreteness and vividness to Peter’s brief glance at Christian conversion. “sprinkling with the blood,” recalls the Jewish sacrificial system, particularly as seen from a distance or in retrospect by the early Christians. The apparent origin of the (sprinkling) terminology is the ceremony described in Numbers 19 in which ashes from the burning of a red heifer are mixed with water and sprinkled for purification on those who have defiled themselves by contact with a corpse (the phrase “water of sprinkling,” occurs repeatedly in Num 19:9, 13, 20, 21 LXX). In Barn. 8, this passage in its entirety is applied to Christ’s redemptive death, its imagery of sprinkling being associated with Jesus’ blood rather than with water and ashes (Barn. 5.1; 8.3; in the NT cf. Heb 9:13–14).

"More significantly, Hebrews uses the same language (where the LXX did not) in connection with the institution of the Mosaic covenant: Moses built an altar at the foot of Sinai, and when he had sacrificed cattle he threw half of the blood against the altar; the other half he put in bowls, and read aloud to the people out of the scroll of the covenant the Lord's commands. When they promised to obey all that the Lord commanded, Moses took the bowls and threw the remaining blood at the people, saying (in the words of Heb 9:20), “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you” (cf. Exod 24:3–8; Heb 9:18–21). In Hebrews, the blood of the covenant poured out by Moses corresponds to the “blood of sprinkling” shed by Jesus, the “mediator of the new covenant” (Heb 12:24; cf. 10:29). The participants in this new covenant are invited to “draw near with a true heart in the full confidence of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse a guilty conscience and having the body washed in pure water” (10:22). Peter lacks the direct reference to Christian baptism (although cf. 3:20), but the close connection between obedience and sprinkling suggests that Exod 24:3–8 is as determinative for his imagery as for that of Hebrews. Without speaking explicitly of a “new covenant” or the “blood of the covenant” (which may in his circles have been reserved for the Eucharist, cf. Mark 14:24; 1 Cor 11:25), Peter relies on language that had perhaps become already fixed among Christians as a way of alluding to the same typology. To “obey” was to accept the gospel and become part of a new community under a new covenant; to be sprinkled with Jesus’ blood was to be cleansed from one's former way of living and released from spiritual slavery by the power of his death (cf. 1:18). Peter’s choice of images confirms the impression that he writes to communities of Gentiles as if they were a strange new kind of Jew.


The First Covenant was inaugurated with this ceremony (cf. also Heb 9.18ff):

Then He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance. 2 “Moses alone, however, shall come near to the Lord, but they shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.” 3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” [Ex 23.1-7]


As the New Covenant--from the New Moses of Deut 18-- was inaugurated with Christ's blood (but not physically literal):

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. [Lk 22.20]


(By the way, these biblical events are covenant inauguration events--NOT acts of individual dedication, consecration, or ordination. The underlying ideas/structures of these events would be more 'parallel' to the sacrifices performed when Cybele was first 'adopted' by the Romans in 204 bc, than to the multiple, individual ordinations of priests and high priests. Even the passage in 1 Peter 1.2 is not individual in nature: "In the Old Testament and Judaism, God's people were corporately “chosen,” or “predestined,” because God “foreknew” them; Peter applies the same language to believers in Jesus. Obedience and the sprinkling of blood also established the first covenant (Ex 24:7–8)." [BBC, at 1 Pet 1.2]...the underlying ideas needed to establish non-superficial parallels, in this case, reveal major structural differences between the events in the bible and the taurobolia of Roman times)

Now, unless one is going to argue that the OT passage is somehow dependent on some at-best-first-century-AD taurobolic experience (perhaps on the basis of both having the 'striking parallels' of sacrificial bulls and sprinkling of blood...sarcastic smile), it should be obvious why modern, mainstream scholarship has abandoned such notions. Any alleged parallels between the Jesus story and the Attis/Cybele/Taurobolic experiences are dwarfed by a host of 'numerous, complex, and detailed' parallels with OT/Judaism.

If one considers carefully the details of the history of the ritual (see mostlybull.html), the taurobolic ceremony (of Cybele/Attis--NOT the one by Mithra) in the Roman period was:

A substitutionary castration, in which the priest was 'vicariously' castrated in the castration of the bull
A regular sacrifice, which could be performed for the benefit of the Emperor and Empire
A 'rebirth' to virtue/purity and 'good luck' for twenty years (even the 4th century phrase 'to eternity' doesn't mean the same thing as in Christianity--see the article)
A dedication/consecration of a priest to the (existing) service/religion of the Goddess Cybele
A (possible) re-enactment of an old hunter-goddess myth (the capture and killing of the bull by a goddess with a hunting spear)


Apart from the general, "non-striking", and ubiquitous motifs of sacrifice, consecration, (possible) rebirth, blood sprinkling, and substitution, there just aren't any 'numerous, complex, and detailed' correspondences with the NT documents. Even the closest candidate--sprinkling with blood--was too general a practice in the ancient world to be 'striking' [e.g., in several orgiastic cults the priests/priestesses would whip or cut themselves with knives, and sprinkle their blood on the idols of the god/goddess].


And the next closest candidate--'rebirth'--is neither a technical term of the Mysteries, nor is it close enough in meaning to NT usage to consider it parallel:

"Though Philo borrows not a little from the Mysteries, he does not use this verb ('rebirth'). On the other hand, Josephus uses it in a general sense, with no evident dependence on the Mysteries. Bell., 4, 484... Thus at the time of the NT (rebirth) was not common, but it was used generally and not merely in the Mysteries, like the Latin renasci. This is confirmed by the use of the substantive (in Philo)... Philo employs this for the Stoic doctrine of the rejuvenation of the world ... (Aet. Mund.). Elsewhere he has the term paliggenesiva for the same thing, e.g., Aet. Mund., 9...The mere mention of ('rebirth') does not prove any dependence on the Mysteries; this applies equally to 1 Pt. 1:3, 23...There is a profound gulf between the religion of the Mysteries, in which man is deified by magical rites, and this religion of faith...As the OT and Jewish elements are very much alive in this religion, so the origin of the thought of regeneration is to be sought in Judaism. It is true that the Jews did not describe themselves or others as regenerate. Yet they hoped for a new life for the world and themselves, and they did not speak of this merely as resurrection or new creation, but also thought in terms of paliggenesiva and palin genesthai when speaking Greek. [TDNT, s.v. "anagennao"]
"Anagennan is found in the NT only here and in v 23, and not at all in the LXX (except for one doubtful variant in Sir, Prol. 28). It is the equivalent of gennan anothen in John 3:3, 7 and may have been derived from a slightly different form of that very saying of Jesus (cf., e.g., Justin Martyr, Justin, Apol. 1.61.3. “For the Christ also said, Unless you are born again, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”; cf. also Matt 18:3--"He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.")... Certainly the Gospel tradition, is a nearer and more plausible source for Peter’s terminology than, e.g., the pagan mystery religions (as proposed by R. Perdelwitz; in refutation, cf. F. Büchsel, TDNT 1:673–75, and Selwyn, 305–11). Anagennao is found in only one (fourth century A.D.) text bearing on mystery religions: Sallustius, De Deis 4 (ed. A. D. Nock [1926] 8, 24). [WBC, 1 Peter 1.3]
“In 376, a follower declared himself ‘reborn for eternity’ and two inscription from Turin are consecrated viribus aeterni, that is to say to the ‘force’ (vital, sexual) of the ‘eternal’, in commemoration of a taurobolium. In fact, we know that this bloody ‘baptism’ was held to regenerate for twenty years the man or woman who descended into the pit. The Latin aeternus indeed implies durability rather than transcendental eternity in the Christian sense.” [HI:TCRE:52] Sorry for all the detail (but there's more, obviously, in the history piece at mostlybull.html), and we will get into the Attis/resurrection thing again later, but I wanted to document the fact that, and show why the "Mystery Religions" version of the CopyCat thesis--relative to New Testament formation (not the writings of the post-apostolic church!)-- has been generally abandoned in the scholarly arena of New Testament studies. Before Qumran and before the rise in our understanding of "less-official" Judaism as found in the Pseudepigrapha, it was a little more believable, but after the last fifty years, it is difficult to maintain the position easily.

..........................................................................................................

Another very common alleged similarity is the virgin birth. Other religious figures, especially warrior gods (and actually some heroic human figures such as Alexander the Great) over time became associated with some form of miraculous birth, occasionally connected with virginity. It is all too easy to simply accept this on face value without investigating further. In Raymond Brown's research on the Birth Narratives of Jesus [BM:522-523], he evaluates these non-Christian "examples" of virgin births and his conclusions bear repeating here:

"Among the parallels offered for the virginal conception of Jesus have been the conceptions of figures in world religions (the Buddha, Krishna, and the son of Zoroaster), in Greco-Roman mythology (Perseus, Romulus), in Egyptian and Classical History (the Pharaohs, Alexander, Augustus), and among famous philosophers or religious thinkers (Plato, Apollonius of Tyana), to name only a few.

"Are any of these divinely engendered births really parallel to the non-sexual virginal conception of Jesus described in the NT, where Mary is not impregnated by a male deity or element, but the child is begotten through the creative power of the Holy Spirit? These "parallels" consistently involve a type of hieros gamos (note: "holy seed" or "divine semen") where a divine male, in human or other form, impregnates a woman, either through normal sexual intercourse or through some substitute form of penetration. In short, there is no clear example of virginal conception in world or pagan religions that plausibly could have given first-century Jewish Christians the idea of the virginal conception of Jesus."

And the history-of-religions scholar David Adams Leeming (writing in EOR, s.v. "Virgin Birth") begins his article by pointing out that all 'virgin births' are NOT necessarily such:

"A virgin is someone who has not experienced sexual intercourse, and a virgin birth, or parthenogenesis (Gr., parthenos, "virgin"; genesis, "birth"), is one in which a virgin gives birth. According to this definition, the story of the birth of Jesus is a virgin birth story whereas the birth of the Buddha and of Orphic Dionysos are not. Technically what is at issue is the loss or the preservation of virginity during the process of conception. The Virgin Mary was simply "found with child of the Holy Ghost" before she was married and before she had "known" a man. So, too, did the preexistent Buddha enter the womb of his mother, but since she was already a married woman, there is no reason to suppose she was a virgin at the time. In the Ophic story of Dionysos, Zeus came to Persephone in the form of a serpent and impregnated her, so that the maiden's virginity was technically lost."


What these scholars are talking about is the textual data in the account. In other words, does the relevant sacred text describe or imply in any way, a means of impregnation or conception? Leemings comment that Mary was "simply 'found with child'" documents the textual data from that miraculous conception story--the text simply omits any comment, description, or implication about the method/manner of her becoming pregnant--the sexual element is simply missing altogether. If other accounts suggest or give details of this process--even if not the 'normal' type of intercourse (e.g. a snake, a piece of fruit)--then, according to these scholars, it is not a 'virgin conception' (by comparison). Ancient gods and goddess were typically very sexually 'explicit' and sexually 'active' (!), and this element is completely absent from the biblical narratives and material, especially the story of the virginal conception of Jesus.

This issue of agency/means is a distinguishing trait of the gospel accounts, compared with other stories of divine-engendered births:

"In our discussion of the genre of the birth Narratives we noted that any comparison of Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2 to pagan divine birth stories leads to the conclusion that the Gospel stories cannot be explained simply on the basis of such comparisons. This is particularly the case in regard to the matter of the virginal conception, for what we find in Matthew and Luke is not the story of some sort of sacred marriage (hieros gamos) or a divine being descending to earth and, in the guise of a man, mating with a human woman, but rather the story of a miraculous conception without aid of any man, divine or other wise. The Gospel story is rather about how Mary conceived without any form of intercourse through the agency of the Holy Spirit. As such this story is without precedent either in Jewish or pagan literature, even including the OT." [NT:DictJG, s.v. "Birth of Jesus"] In fact, it is quite different from the many stories of miracle births in the ancient world:

"Ancient biographers sometimes praised the miraculous births of their subjects (especially prominent in the Old Testament), but there are no close parallels to the virgin birth. Greeks told stories of gods impregnating women, but the text indicates that Mary's conception was not sexual;nor does the Old Testament (or Jewish tradition) ascribe sexual characteristics to God. Many miraculous birth stories in the ancient world (including Jewish accounts, e.g., 1 Enoch 106) are heavily embroidered with mythical imagery (e.g., babies filling houses with light), in contrast with the straightforward narrative style of this passage (cf. similarly Ex 2:1–10). [BBC, Matt 1.18] Let's take a quick look at the gospel narratives, to see this clearly...Remember the background and sequence of these events:

"Marriages were arranged for individuals by parents, and contracts were negotiated. After this was accomplished, the individuals were considered married and were called husband and wife. They did not, however, begin to live together. Instead, the woman continued to live with her parents and the man with his for one year. The waiting period was to demonstrate the faithfulness of the pledge of purity given concerning the bride. If she was found to be with child in this period, she obviously was not pure, but had been involved in an unfaithful sexual relationship. Therefore the marriage could be annulled. If, however, the one-year waiting period demonstrated the purity of the bride, the husband would then go to the house of the bride's parents and in a grand processional march lead his bride back to his home. There they would begin to live together as husband and wife and consummate their marriage physically. Matthew's story should be read with this background in mind.

"Mary and Joseph were in the one-year waiting period when Mary was found to be with child. They had never had sexual intercourse and Mary herself had been faithful (vv. 20, 23). While little is said about Joseph, one can imagine how his heart must have broken. He genuinely loved Mary, and yet the word came that she was pregnant. His love for her was demonstrated by his actions. He chose not to create a public scandal by exposing her condition to the judges at the city gate. Such an act could have resulted in Mary's death by stoning (Deut. 22:23-24). Instead he decided to divorce her quietly.

"Then in a dream (cf. Matt. 2:13, 19, 22), an angel told Joseph that Mary's condition was not caused by a man, but through the Holy Spirit (1:20; cf. v. 18). The Child Mary carried in her womb was a unique Child, for He would be a Son whom Joseph should name Jesus for He would save His people from their sins. These words must have brought to Joseph's mind the promises of God to provide salvation through the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-37). The unnamed angel also told Joseph that this was in keeping with Gods eternal plan, for the Prophet Isaiah had declared 700 years before that the virgin will be with Child (Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14). While Old Testament scholars dispute whether the Hebrew almah should be rendered “young woman” or “virgin,” God clearly intended it here to mean virgin (as implied by the Gr. word parthenos). Mary's miraculous conception fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy, and her Son would truly be Immanuel . . . God with us. In light of this declaration Joseph was not to be afraid to take Mary into his home (Matt. 1:20). There would be misunderstanding in the community and much gossip at the well, but Joseph knew the true story of Mary's pregnancy and Gods will for his life.

"As soon as Joseph awakened from this dream, he obeyed. He violated all custom by immediately taking Mary into his home rather than waiting till the one-year time period of betrothal had passed. Joseph was probably thinking of what would be best for Mary in her condition. He brought her home and began to care and provide for her. But there was no sexual relationship between them until after the birth of this Child, Jesus. [Bible Knowledge Commentary, at Matt 1.18ff]



The most detailed text we have about this event is Luke 1.35:

"And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon (epileusetai) you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow (episkiasei) you"

The "Holy Spirit coming upon you" is not to be conceived as some kind of spiritual 'intercourse'--this is a stock, generic phrase from OT literature. It means empowerment, being set apart for a special task, and the such like. Look at some of the examples:

The Lord therefore said to Moses, “Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 “Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you shall not bear it all alone. [Num 11.16]

And when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. [Jud 3.9]

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. [Jud 6.34]

Then Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came as far as the vineyards of Timnah; and behold, a young lion came roaring toward him. 6 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a kid though he had nothing in his hand; [Jud 14.5]

Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man. [1 Sam 10.6]

Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, who was the chief of the thirty, and he said, “We are yours, O David, And with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, And peace to him who helps you; Indeed, your God helps you!” Then David received them and made them captains of the band. [1 Chr 12.18]

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. [Is 42.1]

And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 “And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. [Joel 2.28ff]

[and of course, all the prophets spoke in the name of the Lord, as the "Spirit came upon them"]

On of the more interesting uses occurs is in Isaiah 32.15, which might be echoed in the Virgin conception and in the cases of 'barren conceptions'--the image of miraculous/spectacular fertility:

Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fertile field
And the fertile field is considered as a forest. [Is 32.15]

This is part of the reason why the NT scholars I cite here are so confident (even for 'cautious' scholars) that pagan sexual elements are NOT in the New Testament texts.


The angel had paid a visit to her home, and "gone into/unto/to her" (same Greek phrase as Joseph 'going into Pilate' to ask for the body of Jesus in Mk 15.23; the angel 'going into/unto' Cornelius in Acts 10.3; and the accusation of Peter 'going into/unto' Gentiles and eating with them in Acts 11.3). The angel announced the good news of God's promise to Israel and Mary asks 'how'? The verse in 1.35 actually doesn't answer the question at all, but it does avoid saying some things (even 'coyly'):

"There is not the slightest evidence that either of the verbs involved has ever been used in relation to sexual activity or even more broadly in connection with the conception of a child (cf. Fitzmyer, TS 34 [1973] 569; not eperchesthai but epibainein would be needed to express the notion of coming upon [mounting] sexually [e.g., PhiloDeSom 1.200]). [WBC, in.loc.]


Instead, the verbs express more general notions of God's providence and faithfulness to His promises:

“[T]o come upon,” is Septuagintal idiom but is used in connection with the Spirit only at Isa 32:15 where the MT has (“will be poured out”). Acts 1:8 “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Since Luke nowhere else refers to the coming of the Spirit in these terms, he is probably drawing attention to the Greek text of Isa 32:15 in both cases: this is the eschatological coming of the Spirit that will cause the wilderness to become a fruitful field. ...“will overshadow,” like “will come upon,” has probably been influenced by the LXX text of Exod 40:35, perhaps via the transfiguration account (Luke 9:34): Mary's experience is to be compared to the dramatic way in which Gods glory and the cloud marking his presence came down upon the completed tabernacle" [WBC, in.loc.]
"The word for "overshadow" (episkiazo) carries the sense of the holy, powerful presence of God, as in the description of the cloud that "covered" (Heb. sakan; NIV, "settled upon") the tabernacle when the tent was filled with the glory of God (Exod 40:35; cf. Ps 91:4). The word is used in all three accounts of the Transfiguration to describe the overshadowing of the cloud (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34). [EBCNT, in. loc.]


So, one needs to be VERY careful and detailed in examining alleged parallels between figures widely separated in space and time. [And remember, we are focused only on the formation of the New Testament documents (and the content-traditions behind them)--NOT what the post-apostolic community will do with them!]


Consideration: We need also remember that our question deals only with the issue of the New Testament content--not the Councils, not the hymns, not the Fathers, not the sects, not the Apocrypha. We are concerned with the Jesus of the gospels and of the message of the post-ascension early Church. Items and elements 'borrowed' from non-Christian religions after the first century AD. simply cannot be used to argue for borrowing in the years 33-70 a.d., when the NT was composed.

Pushback: "Well wait a minute, bud...didn't the late church start 'stealing ideas' from paganism--like Sol Invictus' December 25th birthday for Jesus? And if later Christians did that, why in the world would we believe the first ones wouldn't steal ideas, too?!"

This is a different type of argument, dealing with motivation/psychology ('what might have happened') instead of history ('what the evidence indicates'), and so our approach may have to be a bit different. But before we get into this, let's examine the oft-stated belief about the stealing of December 25th...

First, let's note that it is not at all certain that this theft actually occurred--the data is mixed:

"In regard to the day of Jesus’ birth, as early as Hippolytus (A.D. 165–235) it was said to be December 25, a date also set by John Chrysostom (A.D. 345–407) whose arguments prevailed in the Eastern Church. There is nothing improbable about a mid-winter birth. Luke 2:8 tells us that the shepherds’ flocks were kept outside when Jesus was born. This detail might favor a date between March and November when such animals would normally be outside. But the Mishnah (m. sûeqal. 7.4) suggests that sheep around Bethlehem might also be outside during the winter months (Hoehner). Therefore, though there is no certainty, it appears that Jesus was born somewhere between 4–6 B.C., perhaps in mid-winter. Both the traditional Western date for Christmas (Dec. 25) and the date observed by the Armenian Church (Jan. 6) are equally possible. The biblical and extra-biblical historical evidence is simply not specific enough to point decisively to either traditional date. The celebration of the nativity is attested in Rome as early as A.D. 336 and this celebration also involved recognizing January 6 as Epiphany, the day the Magi visited Jesus." [NT:DictJG, s.v. 'birth of jesus']
"The exact day of Jesus birth' is unknown. The Gnostic Basilidians in Egypt (late second century) commemorated Jesus' baptism on January 6, and by the early fourth century many Christians in the East were celebrating both his nativity and baptism then....In 274 Emperor Aurelian decreed December 25 as the celebration of the 'Unconquerable Sun," the first day in which there was a noticeable increase in light after the winter solstice. The earliest mention of a Feast of the Nativity is found in a document composed in 336. Some feel Constantine (who died in 337) may have selected this day for Christmas because of a deep-seated respect for the popular pagan solstice festival. Others argue that the date was chosen as a replacement for it, that it, to honor the 'Sun of Righteousness.' Firmly established in the West within a few decades, another century passed before the Eastern church adopted December 25...The only holdout was the Armenian church, which still observes the nativity on January 6." [TK:104f]

"Aurelian celebrated the dies natalis Solis Invicti ("birthday of Sol Invictus") on December 25. Whether this festival was celebrated earlier than the third century is unknown. Nor is it certain that December 25 was the birthday of Mithras as well as of Sol Invictus. This has not prevented many scholars from assuming that Mithraic influence upon Christianity was involved in the adoption of this date for Christmas...Roger Beckwith concludes that 'a date in the depths of winter (January-February) is therefore one of the two possibilities; and it may be that Clement, and through him Hippolytus, were in possession of a genuine historical tradition to this effect, which in the course of time had been mistakenly narrowed down to a particular day.'...Clement of Alexandria (circa 200) in his Stromateis (1.146) noted that Gnostic Basilidians in Egypt celebrated Jesus' baptism either on January 10 or January 6. By the early fourth century Christians in the East were celebrating Jesus' birth on January 6..." [OT:PAB:520f]

Later church tradition remembered it as a 'competitive strategy': "The reason, then, why the fathers of the church moved the January 6th celebration to December 25th was this, they say: it was the custom of the pagans to celebrate on this same December 25th the birthday of the Sun, and they lit lights then to exalt the day, and invited and admitted the Christians to these rites. When, therefore, the teachers of the Church saw that Christians inclined to this custom, figuring out a strategy, they set the celebration of the true Sunrise on this day, and ordered Epiphany to be celebrated on January 6th; and this usage they maintain to the present day along with the lighting of lights." (12th century bishop, cited in [HI:CP68C:155]

"The equinoxes and solstices must have been especially sacred. This was verified for the spring equinox of 172, the day when the Mithraeum 'of the Seven Spheres', at Ostia, was opened to a new community. The vernal equinox marked the anniversary of the sacrifice that had revived the world. Perhaps at the winter solstice (25 December) they celebrated the birth of Mithras emerging from the rock..." (HI:TCRE:234, emphasis mine...and I might ask the question here as to how many solar deities did NOT celebrate the Winter Solstice as a 'rebirth'?! All the ones I know of did (e.g. HI:SSK:157-65), not sure that really counts as a 'historical birthday' in the same sense as Jesus'; so, Eliade: "The anniversary of the Deus Sol Invictus was se

Absolute truth and judgement

Absolute truth. Let's first prove that there is such a thing. Science proves absolutes all the time. A chemical reaction works the same way every time - that is an example of an absolute truth. Whether you believe the reaction will take place or not has no effect on the reaction itself. It WILL happen, and it will happen the same way every time.
Take that one step further from the physical to the spiritual. An example of a widely accepted spiritual truth is the law of sowing and reaping (or karma if you are into new age crap). What you do comes back to you. This is an absolute truth, and one taught by most religions on the planet. Well what if I don't believe in that, will it still affect me? We all need to ask ourselves that question. The answer is yes, it will still affect you. Now, apply that to all other spiritual laws. WAIT!! You can't apply it to ALL other spiritual laws! A lot of spiritual laws from various religions contradict each other! Logically, this means that some of the "laws" are wrong, which calls into question the validity of the religion that the false "laws" come from.
I personally believe that Christianity is the one true religion. I am, in that sense, a fundamentalist. Does that mean I hate other religions? NO! I don't approve of them, but I do not "hate" them either. I have friends from a dozen faiths. But I will say this: New age religions, wicca, witchcraft, etc are not only wrong, but self defeating and even evil. You see, those religions try to trick you into a belief system that has no absolutes! Which means no absolute good and no absolute evil, which means that God and the devil are just subjective states! The devil is effectively convincing you that not only does he not exist, but neither does God, good, or evil! Wow, what a huge LIE! Christianity teaches the opposite of that, that there are clear cut lines between evil and good, and all things fall into one category or the other. Well, that is what I believe. That does not mean that I think new agers are evil, but it does mean that I think they are blinded by the enemy's silver tongue!
Now, how do we tell good from evil then, if it all fits into those two categories?
Judgement!!
That's right, judgement.
Well, isn't judgement a bad thing? Only if you don't believe in good or evil! Surely we all believe in good and evil right? Can we not give an example of each pretty quickly? I will start. Altruism and self-sacrifice are good, while greed and malice are evil. There, that wasn't so hard, now was it?
I just judged those four traits. Anyone want to accuse me of judging, like it's a bad thing? Guess what? If you do, then YOU ARE JUDGING!!! That's right! By saying that me judging is bad, you are judging what I said to be wrong! And what is worse is that this usually comes from people who claim to not believe in absolutes! What hypocrisy!
We HAVE to judge every single day! We judge when it is time to put gas in the car. We judge if our pets and children are behaving. We judge if we have time to stay on EP for one more minute before bed. We judge what our favorite food, color, weather, and tv show are.
The only bad type of judgement is unjust judgement and pre-judgement. And I have very very rarely seen anyone do that when they were accused of judging. Let me tell you something, when people say not to judge them, it is because they FEAR what that judgement might mean! They want to be their own person, self made, self sufficient, in control of their self. Self, self, self.... It is pure selfishness!
Well, I for one, am sick and tired of this false piety and selfish motives. Is my truth better than yours? Only God knows that for certain. But I know one thing, I have a damn good reason for every single thing I believe in, and I am always respectful of other beliefs until such a time as the person with that belief is rude, insulting, racist, sexist, willfully ignorant, or some other equally stupid thing. Then no more respect. It must be earned. Being respected for who you are is not a right, it is a privilege, which can be taken away.
Take from this story what you will, debate me if you must, but know this, I am very well read and researched on every subject I dare to post about so be open to a new Truth if you set out to prove me wrong.

The Truth About Christmas

I.     When was Jesus born?

A.     Popular myth puts his birth on December 25th in the year 1 C.E.

B.     The New Testament gives no date or year for Jesus’ birth.  The earliest gospel – St. Mark’s, written about 65 CE – begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus.  This suggests that the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.

C.     The year of Jesus birth was determined by Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk, “abbot of a Roman monastery.  His calculation went as follows:

a.       In the Roman, pre-Christian era, years were counted from ab urbe condita (“the founding of the City” [Rome]).  Thus 1 AUC signifies the year Rome was founded, 5 AUC signifies the 5th year of Rome’s reign, etc.

b.     Dionysius received a tradition that the Roman emperor Augustus reigned 43 years, and was followed by the emperor Tiberius.

c.       Luke 3:1,23 indicates that when Jesus turned 30 years old, it was the 15th year of Tiberius reign.

d.      If Jesus was 30 years old in Tiberius’ reign, then he lived 15 years under Augustus (placing Jesus birth in Augustus’ 28th year of reign).

e.       Augustus took power in 727 AUC.  Therefore, Dionysius put Jesus birth in 754 AUC.

f.        However, Luke 1:5 places Jesus’ birth in the days of Herod, and Herod died in 750 AUC – four years before the year in which Dionysius places Jesus birth.

D.     Joseph A. Fitzmyer – Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America, member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and former president of the Catholic Biblical Association – writing in the Catholic Church’s official commentary on the New Testament, writes about the date of Jesus’ birth, “Though the year [of Jesus birth is not reckoned with certainty, the birth did not occur in AD 1.  The Christian era, supposed to have its starting point in the year of Jesus birth, is based on a miscalculation introduced ca. 533 by Dionysius Exiguus.”

E.      The DePascha Computus, an anonymous document believed to have been written in North Africa around 243 CE, placed Jesus birth on March 28.  Clement, a bishop of Alexandria (d. ca. 215 CE), thought Jesus was born on November 18.  based on historical records, Fitzmyer guesses that Jesus birth occurred on September 11, 3 BCE.

 

II.     How Did Christmas Come to Be Celebrated on December 25?

A.    Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25.  During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the week long celebration.  The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.”  Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week.  At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

B.    The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time.  In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season).

C.    In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it.  Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.

D.    The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

E.      Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia.  As Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.”  The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.

F.      The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who  first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones." Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681. However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.

 

III.     The Origins of Christmas Customs

A.     The Origin of Christmas Tree
Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshipers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the Church sanctioning “Christmas Trees”.  Pagans had long worshiped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them, and this observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.

B.     The Origin of Mistletoe
Norse mythology recounts how the god Balder was killed using a mistletoe arrow by his rival god Hoder while fighting for the female Nanna.  Druid rituals use mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim. The Christian custom of “kissing under the mistletoe” is a later synthesis of the sexual license of Saturnalia with the Druidic sacrificial cult.

C.     The Origin of Christmas Presents
In pre-Christian Rome, the emperors compelled their most despised citizens to bring offerings and gifts during the Saturnalia (in December) and Kalends (in January).  Later, this ritual expanded to include gift-giving among the general populace.  The Catholic Church gave this custom a Christian flavor by re-rooting it in the supposed gift-giving of Saint Nicholas (see below).

D.     The Origin of Santa Claus

a.       Nicholas was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 CE and later became Bishop of Myra.  He died in 345 CE on December 6th.  He was named a saint in the 19th century.

b.      Nicholas was among the most senior bishops who convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE and created the New Testament.

c.       In 1087, a group of sailors who idolized Nicholas moved his bones from Turkey to a sanctuary in Bari, Italy.  There Nicholas supplanted a female boon-giving deity called The Grandmother, or Pasqua Epiphania, who used to fill the children's stockings with her gifts.  The Grandmother was ousted from her shrine at Bari, which became the center of the Nicholas cult.  Members of this group gave each other gifts during a pageant they conducted annually on the anniversary of Nicholas’ death, December 6.

d.      The Nicholas cult spread north until it was adopted by German and Celtic pagans.  These groups worshiped a pantheon led by Woden –their chief god and the father of Thor, Balder, and Tiw.  Woden had a long, white beard and rode a horse through the heavens one evening each Autumn.  When Nicholas merged with Woden, he shed his Mediterranean appearance, grew a beard, mounted a flying horse, rescheduled his flight for December, and donned heavy winter clothing.

e.       In a bid for pagan adherents in Northern Europe, the Catholic Church adopted the Nicholas cult and taught that he did (and they should) distribute gifts on December 25th instead of December 6th.

f.        In 1809, the novelist Washington Irving (most famous his The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) wrote a satire of Dutch culture entitled Knickerbocker History.  The satire refers several times to the white bearded, flying-horse riding Saint Nicholas using his Dutch name, Santa Claus.

g.       Dr. Clement Moore, a professor at Union Seminary, read Knickerbocker History, and in 1822 he published a poem based on the character Santa Claus: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.  The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…”  Moore innovated by portraying a Santa with eight reindeer who descended through chimneys.

h.       The Bavarian illustrator Thomas Nast almost completed the modern picture of Santa Claus.  From 1862 through 1886, based on Moore’s poem, Nast drew more than 2,200 cartoon images of Santa for Harper’s Weekly.  Before Nast, Saint Nicholas had been pictured as everything from a stern looking bishop to a gnome-like figure in a frock.  Nast also gave Santa a home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves, and his list of the good and bad children of the world.  All Santa was missing was his red outfit.

i.         In 1931, the Coca Cola Corporation contracted the Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa.  Sundblom modeled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice, chosen for his cheerful, chubby face.  The corporation insisted that Santa’s fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca Cola red.  And Santa was born – a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, and commercial idol.

 

IV.     The Christmas Challenge

·        Christmas has always been a holiday celebrated carelessly.  For millennia, pagans, Christians, and even Jews have been swept away in the season’s festivities, and very few people ever pause to consider the celebration’s intrinsic meaning, history, or origins.

·        Many of the most popular Christmas customs – including Christmas trees, mistletoe, Christmas presents, and Santa Claus – are modern incarnations of the most depraved pagan rituals ever practiced on earth.

 

Many who are excitedly preparing for their Christmas celebrations would prefer not knowing about the holiday’s real significance.  If they do know the history, they often object that their celebration has nothing to do with the holiday’s monstrous history and meaning.  “We are just having fun.”

Imagine that between 1933-45, the Nazi regime celebrated Adolf Hitler’s birthday – April 20 – as a holiday.  Imagine that they named the day, “Hitlerday,” and observed the day with feasting, drunkenness, gift-giving, and various pagan practices.  Imagine that on that day, Jews were historically subject to perverse tortures and abuse, and that this continued for centuries.

Now, imagine that your great-great-great-grandchildren were about to celebrate Hitlerday.  April 20th arrived. They had long forgotten about Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen.  They had never heard of gas chambers or death marches.  They had purchased champagne and caviar, and were about to begin the party, when someone reminded them of the day’s real history and their ancestors’ agony.  Imagine that they initially objected, “We aren’t celebrating the Holocaust; we’re just having a little Hitlerday party.”


The true nature of angels

Angelic activity.
Angels were the agents in the destruction of the cities of the plain (Gen. 19), an angel destroyed the Assyrian army (2 Kgs. 19), and angels were associated with the birth of Jesus (Matt. 2: 13, ch. 1). The "angel of the Lord" rolled back the stone from the door of Jesus' grave (Matt. 28: 2), and two were present at Jesus' ascension (Acts 1: 10). Angels comforted Jesus and Paul (Matt. 4: 11, Acts 27: 23 ff.). Angels shall accompany Jesus in the Judgment and shall separate the saved and the lost (Matt. 13: 36 ff.)
How about angelic activity today? There are some things we know with absolute certainty. For instance, angels are not to present another gospel or change Jesus' gospel (see "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," also in Archives) in any way (Gal. 1: 6-9). Hence, all the religions which are built on the claim of angelic revelation are wrong!
Two verses which are very intriguing relative to angels' present activity are: Matthew 18: 10, and Hebrews 1: 14. Angels are certainly interested in man (Lk. 15: 10) and some believe angels are presently active, in view of the foregoing verses. Hebrews 1: 14 does apply to this final dispensation (see Heb. 1: 1 ff.). Any believed activity, though, must be governed by the foregoing and presented in harmony with such verses as I Peter 3: 12 and I Corinthians 10: 13. More than this we cannot say (Deut. 29: 29)
There is absolutely no doubt that angels have had an active role and part in the affairs of man. Angels were involved in the giving of the Ten Commandment Law to Moses and are presented as escorting Lazarus to Abraham's bosom (Acts 7: 53, Lk. 16: 22). It is also undeniable that angels have a special interest in man's salvation (Lk. 15: 10). It is also apparent that Jesus' language, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven" is teaching the existence of a special angelic connection between "these little ones" and angels (Matt. 18: 10)
For sure, any view regarding man and angels in any providential circumstance must not present angels as interfering with man's free moral agency, responsibilities, or acting inharmoniously with the gospel (Jn. 7: 17; Acts 2: 40; Gal. 1: 6-9, I Cor. 13: 8-10)

Angels are intimately woven into the workings of the Kingdom of God and into the core beliefs of the Holy Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, they have also become equally woven into the beliefs and practices of a lot of New Agers and spiritual syncretists—people who might acknowledge our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as a "good teacher," as an ascended master, or as the perfect example of "Christ Consciousness," while revering angels as semi-divine guides, protectors, and energy sources. Angels are acceptable to them, while the message of the Gospel is not—possibly because angels can be manipulated to fit in with a spiritual creed that glorifies self-actualization and personal ascendancy, rather than submission, self-denial, and war against the passions.
Judeo-Christian culture has always had an affinity for angels. Unfortunately, misconceptions and misinformation about angels have crept into the thinking of the average Christian today. It is because modern religious beliefs do not retain an Orthodox view of angels that their true nature and purpose have become confused with kitsch refrigerator magnets and new age paraphernalia. You often hear people say things such as, "You're my cute little angel," or "She's an angel in heaven now." Somewhere along the line, the biblical nature and power of angels has became a caricature. For the record, angels aren't cute; they aren't little; and people do not become angels when they go to heaven. (Isn't it odd that so many believe people become angels when they go to heaven? No one seems to think unrepentant sinners become demons when they go to hell!)
The English word angel translates the Hebrew mal'akh, or "messenger of God." The Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament uses the word angelos, and the Latin Vulgate, angelus. Finally, a fusion of the Old English word engel and the word angele gave us the English word we know and use today. In all translations, the original understanding of the most basic purpose of angels has been as "messengers of God."
Angels are supernatural beings created by God—the first (or among the first) creation of God.
They are active spirits endowed with individual personality, reason, free will, and extraordinary intellect.
They are bodiless or incorporeal spirits who have no gender, but can take on human appearance in their interactions with man.
Angels are not limited by space or time, but neither do they possess God's omnipresence.
Because of their purity and single-minded devotion to God, their spiritual powers are superior to man's.
They are immortal and ageless, but their immortality is through the grace of God and not by nature; God alone is immortal by nature.
Just as angels had free will to fall, they have free will to achieve greater perfection and grow in virtue.
They are to be respected and honored, but never worshiped.
They are servants of God, and their very purpose is to serve His will.
Through these God-given powers, the angels are both messengers of God and active participants in His glory, bearing the very name and power of God. If that seems like an unfathomable concept, it should be. Our comprehension of the true nature of God and His Kingdom is so limited we've made the angels into "angelic" versions of ourselves, and therefore more humanly understandable. The opposite should be the case. By reflecting on the attributes of the angels we are, in essence, growing in our understanding of the attributes of God.
The seraphim, cherubim, and thrones together comprise the first hierarchy or first order of angels who exist closest to God, surrounding His throne and offering continuous praise and adoration. They have no direct contact with man, but are the first to receive divine instruction and wisdom which is passed down to man.

The Seraphim—the "flaming" or "fiery ones"—stand closest of all to the Creator. Their burning love for God allows them to exist before Him who is "a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29) and whose "throne was a flame of fire" (Daniel 7:9), and to pass that fiery love on to others.

The Cherubim—literally, the angels of "great understanding" or the "stream of wisdom"—possess the fullness of knowledge and transmit divine wisdom and spiritual insight to the world. In the account of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise (Genesis 3:24), we find the first mention of this rank of angels when the cherubim are posted at the entrance to Eden with flaming swords.

The Thrones. It would be silly to picture God the Father seated on the angels called thrones, but angels of this order are called the God-bearing thrones and have been given grace to carry God within themselves. They glorify and manifest God's justice to the world. As it says in the Psalms (9:4), "Thou hast sat upon a throne, O Thou that judgest righteousness."

The second hierarchy or middle order of angels also have no direct contact with man, but are the governors of space and the visible universe, including the earth. The Pseudo-Dionysius refers to them as the Holy Lordships, which "denotes a certain unslavish elevation, free from all groveling subserviency . . . ever aspiring to the true Lordship and source of Lordship." Their works are power, authority, control, and leadership.

The Dominions are given power over the lesser ranks of the angels. Indirectly they give power for wise leaders and good government, and the ruling of the passions and temptations.

The Virtues are not keepers of morality, but exhibit virtue as understood by the older meaning of the word—as power, virility, or valor.

The Powers are given control over the influence of the devil and act to limit his power and the degree of harm he can cause.

The third order exists in closest contact with humanity, and their activities deal directly with transmitting the divine qualities of God and His will to man.

The Principalities guide the soul towards divine service and cooperation with the angelic hosts in the world. They are the managers of earthly governments, nations, and all peoples, and they teach obedience and service to those in godly authority.

The Archangels, the great heralds of good news, are the most personable of the angelic orders, which may be a factor in their popularity. They have individual personalities and attributes, and most are known by name. Their role is to reveal prophecies, and to transmit knowledge and understanding of God's will.

The archangel Michael is undoubtedly the most famous of the seven archangels. He is called the archistrategos, the chief commander of the bodiless powers and the conqueror of Satan, whom he battled and cast out from heaven (Revelation 12:7–8). He intercedes for the human race and is the defender of the Faith. His name means, "Who is like unto God?" (Daniel 10:13; 12:1).

Three other archangels are identified personally in the Bible: Gabriel ("Man of God"), who was the angel of the Annunciation; Raphael ("God heals"), who is the chief of the guardian angels; and Uriel ("Fire of God"). The other archangels have been identified by name in Orthodox, Oriental, and Ethiopian tradition since the time of the early Church. In Eastern Orthodox tradition they are known as Barachiel, Salathiel, and Jehudiel. In another instance, the sword carried by the cherubim at the entrance to Eden is by legend identified as the archangel Jophiel ("Beauty of God").

Guardian angels are included among the angels of the third order. They act as witness, guide, and counsel to each of us during our life, and they will be present at the Last Judgment to give an account of the conduct of our lives. Too often we take for granted the awesome benefit God has provided us with the assignment of our own guardian angel. Our guardian angel is the constant companion of our life, and has no other desire than to help us achieve salvation.
(http://www.conciliarpress.com/reading_room/hm_13_2_angels)

Angels do not have human earthly features of gender, race and other human physical appearances. However they can use these features when appearing in human form. In other ways they can take the form of human beings once God allows them to appear in the earthly realm.
“The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels,” Luke 20:34-36.
Every time gender is assigned to an angel in the bible, it is male, with a “he, him, etc” male reference. Even fallen angels have such references. And the names we know of relating to some angels are masculine: Michael, Gabriel and even Satan the fallen angel.
However this does not mean that angels are male. Angels do not procreate (have children) and thus do not have characteristics that would give them gender attributes. The male gender references to angels are merely descriptive. Such language also helped in bringing what would have been mysteries to a level of human understanding. There is consensus in the body of Christ on the genderless nature of angels.
Angels are very powerful, with superhuman strength including over the weather and the environment (land, water, air).
Angels cannot just exercise their physical powers on earth at their own will. They have to receive permission or request from God – whether God’s angels or fallen angels. When they have God’s permission they can fulfill astronomical physical events (good and bad)
“Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word,” Psalm 103:20
“My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king,’” Daniel 6:22
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose,” Acts 16:25-26
Angels are wiser and more intelligent than humans for two reasons. The first is that they have been alive since creation – over six thousand years. The second is that God made them more intelligent than us.
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” 2 Corinthians 11:3.
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve,” 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
However angels are not all knowing or omniscient. Only God is omniscient. For instance, if fallen angels were omniscient they would not have plotted the crucifixion of Jesus –bringing total defeat upon themselves.
Some people join cults including Free Masonry in order to understand secrets and mysteries of life. These mysteries are assumed to help them become more powerful, influential, prosperous, etc. They are able to yield themselves to Satan to the point of tapping into the spirit world to receive so called “secrets.” Many receive their earthly rewards BUT they end up loosing their souls to hell.
Smaller cults too promise worldly gain of power, wisdom, fame, wealth and so on. They claim to offer “secrets” that would make the recipient outperform others. Many cults offer charms and spells for business, for marriage/relationships, for politics, health, “wisdom,” and so on. Most differ in methods they use. The methods also differ for each area of “need.”
Angels have the ability to exercise their discretion and choice. That’s how Satan and other angels he convinced chose to rise up against God.
Having this ability of choice does not mean they also have the power to fulfill their wishes. Angels were created with limited authority.
If they had unlimited authority Satan would have destroyed this world long ago – if God’s angels chose not to intervene. Or on a better note God’s angels would have easily decided to capture all the fallen angels and put them away in a secluded area. This will happen at the end of time as God has decided.
So both categories of angels though having a will do not have the power to fulfill their wishes. God’s angels follow God’s orders and fulfill his will.
Fallen angels work along lines of their limited authority. Their authority is established where sin and violation of God’s will is established. It means the hedge of God’s protection has been lifted and they now have access to attack. Violation of God’s will, even in ignorance creates doorways for attacks from fallen angels.
“And that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will,” 2 Timothy 2:26
However even in situations someone is trapped into Satan’s schemes through sin or ignorance God can exercise his mercy and block Satan from lashing out his evil works. God can block Satan from profiting from the doorways. God’s mercy through Jesus is greater than his judgment (James 2:13)
They fight each other from the different camps - God’s angels verses the fallen angels
This is where the real spiritual warfare is waged.
“Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail…” Revelation 12:7-9
“The prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia,” Daniel 10:13
It is strongly believed, among many bible scholars, that Goliath died from an unseen blow of an angel. The scriptures hint at this: “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied,’” 1 Samuel 17:45
We’re forbidden from worshipping or idolizing angels even when God opens the spiritual eyes of any of us to see them.
The typical response was to fall on their faces in fear, awe and adoration when people in the Bible saw an angel. They usually appear glorious when God enables us to see them in their angelic nature.
“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, Do not do it! I am a fellow- servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” Revelation 22:8-9
“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions,” Colossians 2:18.
Thus although it’s good to know about the activities and nature of angels it is not biblical to worship them, pray to them or to communicate with them in their unseen realm. Our focus ought to be on the Godhead: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We’re to give all honor, glory, service and praise to God even over the work he fulfills through his angels. Angels are God’s servants working to fulfill his will as he pleases. We worship the Master not the servants.
(http://www.spiritualwarfaredeliverance.com/books/07-breaking-curses/html/nature-of-angels-all-angels.html)

100 reasons...

One Hundred Reasons Why I Believe in Jesus Christ and why I Think Atheism is Shortsighted

1) People convert from atheism/ agnosticism to Christianity, not the other way round. So who will have the best knowledge about both worlds?
2) If sexual promiscuity is so clearly wrong and has such devastating results in peoples’ lives ,why be like an ostrich and put my head in the sand just because I can’t exercise the necessary self –control. (And self control is the major thing that Christians do get via the working of the Holy Spirit in them)
3) The world is in such a state and there is so much corruption and it is ever getting worse. But our atheistic school curricula won’t help the children and teach them: “ The love for money is the root of all evil”
4) There is a total lack of perspective today and our children are being swamped by ‘Hollywood reality’ - who are going to (be able) to correct their perspectives?
5) Hollywood in itself is a perfect example of what is wrong today: we accept that there should be so much violence, showing of guns, sex, nudity, misuse of God’s Name – and (again) it is just getting worse by the day. With no visible signs of huge protest as there should be, except may be from the RCC
6) The world is regressing in moral values and in our belief in values exactly the way the Bible predicted 2 000 years ago.
7) The ‘signs of the Times” are there for all to see and there is no way that we can have up to 28 of these signs occurring at the same time (unrelated as they mostly are but coinciding in one generation) without being vaguely stimulated to ask: HOW IS IT POSSIBLE? (That is unless we – again - prefer to see life the way an ostrich deals with his problems)
8) Evolution does not disprove the existence of God and anybody who would jump to such an conclusion is unscientific. But that is exactly what these biologists are saying even though their cosmological counter parts do not come with such claims .How good is their scientific reasoning then ?.We can find God in the stars but not in evolution?
9) People who have not experienced the working of the Holy spirit in them can’t judge it or anything or something they don’t know anything about – that is just common sense.
10) There are millions upon millions of cases of NDE’s reported but these materialists refuse to believe in a spirit or an after life . .because they believe in things like ‘complex biological interactions” in stead – and how much do they know about that? And how long will they take to come up with an answer .? .just as is the case with evolutionists they will just forever extending the period (in which things were supposed to have happened) when they can’t come up with a good explanation.
11) Christianity and the Bible is quite open where and why people will not become believers or at least struggle to become that. On the other hand atheism do not know what to be open about because there is nothing to become (except maybe an even greater atheist)
12) Human nature is such that it wants to believe in something .Today knowledge is the main thing but it is of such a diverse nature that it will just lead to nowhere.
13) The history of “organized religion” vs the history of “organized atheism: tells us everything one can want to know. Whereas the Christians brought education, better care for the sick and social services to all over the world, the efforts of (such ) a combined effort under atheists do not even exists except on the ground of political motif and wars .Atheism is what its history tells you it is, it is not something you can just now accept as a new fancy option to live your way in a ‘more enlightened world”
14) Christianity serves above everything else it stands for, as a focus point for values .Yes atheists also have values but they so often forsake those values when it suits them
15) Thankfulness is something very close to the core of Christianity – I don’t see and /or hear a lot about that from atheists
16) The values and the belief of Christianity have stood the test of time .Mass atheism have so far produced many wars and also the yops!!
17) Christians for some very good reason don’t become bored with their belief system/religion but are ever striving towards more perfect goals. Atheists don’t seem to have any moral goals to strive towards and they obviously don’t spend a lot of time thinking about things like that because they feel they are Okay and that they (already) know . . .
18) Even an atheist like Albert Einstein thought very highly of Jesus Christ and made no secret about it – he did not even want to read a book about it but insisted on reading the Bible on that (topic) in stead.
19) The analogy in the Bible likening faith to like seed which must germinate and which is exposed to so many dangers ,is so easy to see and apply and so unfailingly accurate that anyone who is willing to open their eyes will see it is exactly the reason(s) why some people cannot believe.
20) The witnessing by generations upon generations over centuries and even millennia about how faith changed their lives cannot be ignored – and these witnesses have been carefully documented and preserved for all to read and see. What can atheists reveal to us about their past in this regard? Yes, only that nothing so lofted and life changing happened in their lives and nothing else.
21) It is obvious that people left to themselves do not go out of their way to help and comfort others because when we don’t believe is an Upper Hand that will help us ,our natural reaction is to be selfish and only live to protect what is dear to us.
22) To believe is just another way of communicating with God and not as many atheists would have it just a mindless following of rules in the Bible. It should be marveled at, not sniggered at ,but materialists today would first want to see it as part of the visible electro magnetic spectrum. (but maybe it lies just outside the gamma or the radio waves  – just a point worth considering)
23) According to scripture ( Micah 6:8 ) the Lord (only) require of us to:” do justly ,and to love kindness and mercy and to walk humbly with God” I am not sure which part atheists find the most objectionable – the doing justly or the love and/or mercy part or the humble part.
24) There is nothing in the literature vaguely resembling the definition of human love for one another as it is ‘defined’ in 1 Cor 13
25) There is no other definition Good vs Evil (in the Bible “the fruit of the Holy Spirit and the practices of the flesh”, as concise and easily accessible as what you would find in a mere 80 words in Gal 5:19 – 23.
26) Rom 12:9-21 defines the life of a Christian and they have nothing to hide (and also nothing to hide under) but unfortunately the same cannot be said about atheists who are a law unto themselves as their needs or greeds predict their hierarchy of needs to them.
27) The condition the world is in today and our school systems make it easy to predict an even bleaker future for it/us/the world is a testimony of what ‘practices of the flesh’ are all about. This was not the case when there were good discipline and people were not too proud to obey God but the changes started way back in the 16thC and what we have seen in the last 50 years is an amazing and frightful acceleration of godlessness. Yet , somehow atheists do not have that perspective and no wonder – they have no yardstick whereby to measure these (adverse) changes.
28) The church is nothing more than body of believers belonging to it .When the church does not do what God longs it to do ,the church is sick. But is it is for those who love God and want to do His will ,to try and rectify what is wrong. People forsaking the church show their own inadequacies or inadequacies in their faith, nothing more
29) Nothing tells me more that we should have a Bible to live by ,than what any users guide accompanying any article we buy, tells me we need it for successful application or use. The very same principle applies and for a ‘complex thing like a human being, even doubly more so. That is just plain common sense.
30) Ego centric behavior, selfishness and love for money today have reached levels not attained in recent history, yet we will not even mention the fact that God hates pride in our schools to help future generations gain a better perspective on life and God.


31) What I see in nature is harmony. From the blue sky to the lush green fields (all colors that make us calm) as well as His other creations on earth to the stars, there appear to be a clockwork synchronicity i.e from the microscopic small to grandest of them all – why should I take notice of man’s learning and teachings which are all in conflict with one another and never seem to come up with any lasting solution
32) To peel an orange and notice how the orange is ‘wrapped’ in a peel ;divided in nine sections making it easy for us to eat and appreciating the taste and the goodness for our bodies . .why should I think any invention of man like wrapped chocolates can even vaguely compare.
33) To know that The Lord regards peace as the gift which will allow you to settle in life, give you the time and energy to do and learn things; Why should I want to join the restless mob who cannot find that peace within and spend their life on for ever wanting to buy material things and thus trying to get in extra stimuli to keep them going and perhaps make them happy for a short while in life?
34) Why should I want to investigate what is evil when I already know that not to help my brother in need (Matt 25) is evil enough to rob me of my place in heaven one day ?
35) Because it seems pretty simple minded to argue that we only are when we can be seen here on earth when we all feel strongly that we are so much more and so unique and something infinitely more.
36) Because everything in life is connected, purposeful and driven ,very unlike what the evolutionist want us to believe about our purpose in life.
37) Because we haven’t made contact with so called extra-terrestrial life (of the human or any other kind) giving us any other explanation about our uniqueness in the universe. .Whatever they find on Venus ,Mars or the Moon, traces of water may be ,it does not explain away a planet so filled to the brim with life and beauty that the only way we can keep it under control is to destroy life.
38) Because ‘evil abounds when good men do nothing” and that refers to sustaining a moral code on earth. Atheists cannot convince me that they have moral values foremost on their mind and that is not good enough.
39) Because of the perfection of love between spouses in a Christian marriage – not what the statistics tell us the divorce rate is among so called Christians ,but the harmony evident in a Christian marriage where both parties adhere to what the Bible prescribes.
40) Because we run a catastrophe risk today second to none and ‘those with eyes “ can see what is about to follow soon – yet our atheists counterparts marvel at the achievements of science and seem to totally lack an overall perspective.
41) Because I ‘d rather marvel at the achievement how 12 men were able to bring the message of Christianity to all the world and the assistance they got through the Holy spirit to do that, than at all the “scientific” inventions that have led to the enslavement and destruction of mankind during the same period of 2 000+ years.
42) Because it is as clear as daylight that what is happening in the world is that the rich is getting richer and the poor is getting poorer and that the super rich will be the ones in this materialistic world that will eventually want to control all the resources for pure selfish purposes. Jesus on the other hand, “ came for the poor . .” (Luke 4:18)
43) Because I can see that it is true what Jesus taught in connection with money and possessions:” The eye of the lamp is the body, so if your eye is sound ,your entire body will be full of light .But if your eye is unsound ,your whole body will be full with darkness .If then the very light in you is darkened, how dense is that darkness?” The thing that the world needs most now to avoid a worldwide clash in an effort to secure market share and ‘vital’ resources for every nation ,is exactly a Christian attitude.
44) The promise we get from the Bible that God so loved the world that He gave up His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16) BUT (also) “He who does not believe is judged already because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (3:18) leaves me in no doubt about what God expects from me – that is why and what I believe.
45) The unraveling of the moral fabric of society today does not promise any good for the generations to come - and from an atheistic standpoint nothing need to be done – which makes me wonder when will they see the dangers lurking and admit that that they have no answers - only when it is absolutely, absolutely too late???
46) Why has school systems making so much of human rights not been able to ‘satisfy’ these needs of the children – why (with all the advancement in science and technology and in management systems ) ,is it all in such a big mess today with no discipline, and with all these terrible things happening at schools?
47) Because even the saying “Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you” cannot help us unless we focus it on Christian love and we go the extra mile and turn the other cheek etc. Today people will just say: “I want nothing from you ,and you will get nothing from me.”
48) When you ask atheists why they do not want to believe, they often try and hint that they are ‘not ignorant’ (implying you are) and they know what is right and what is wrong. Nothing in the history of the world has ever suggested that is the case and the world’s philosophers and all the religions’ efforts have always been to create a better way of understanding life.
49) You cannot judge something which is spiritual unless you yourself are spiritual too and by denying the existence of the spirit, atheists disqualify themselves .
50) There are many miraculous healings taking place all over the world in the name of Jesus – if you have not witnessed one and /or even know of one ( ie if you are not in any way involved or connected to these things) , how can you judge the validity of these wonders?
51) Because this world do not seem to have any idea how serious a problem sexual promiscuity is .A study conducted many years ago and reported on by Prof JD Unwin showed that over a period of 4 000 years 80 civilizations went under due to sexual promiscuity .The world does not think in terms of this being a big sin or offense – the Bible tells us something different, namely that 23 000 people died on one day because of this. One does have to have a feeling and sensitivity about these things.
52) Jung analyzed 80 000 dreams and reported that recurring dreams in which the symbol of the church ,the devil or Jesus came up regularly was a serious warning of psychological imbalance
53) I trust my feelings and the feeling I got over the years taught me a lot. When I am proud or arrogant I cannot speak properly .The same goes for most people that I know. There is a deep seated sense of what is right or wrong in us and we should not ignore ,disobey or struggle against it unless we are fools.
54) The dreams I had over many years which included the name of God have always been in line with what the Bible teaches us. It was never about the things I wished for or desired.
55) The experiences I had in my faith served to strengthen it and included many miracles in my own life
56) The outcome of all my combined dreams, feelings, experiences have served to make me a more stronger and focused person and even the most negative experiences have been to the good in the long run.
57) You get to a point where you no longer believe - you know that the abstract things of believing are more real than the material things And that has happened also in my life.
58) Believing has in no way limited my life – I do not desire things which are not also part and parcel of what I know God wants me to have.
59) I find it strange that atheists/the world does not see and admit that believers run into much less problems than unbelievers and enjoy more blessings and even prosperity than the rest who seem to make the same mistakes over and over again
60) I find it amusing that people who seem to reject the teachings of Jesus still hold on to a large potion of what the Bible teaches us and would freely quote from it – although often out context.
61) I wonder how unbelievers manage to read the Bible – from A to Z or how? You need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to read, be focused on and understand the Bible. ( In my experience they mostly fall asleep halfway through a text.)
62) There is enough historical evidence about the existence of Jesus and certainly enough written material about the early Christians and their lives in the first century AD.
63) The history of the Bible and its canonization and the church have been documented throughout the ages and we know more about that than we know about the activities of atheists
64) Trusting science (evolution) to bring you the desired results may take a few million years .There is no good reason to stop believing and nothing to fill its place.
65) People who do have a proper perspective of how the world has become ‘enlightened’ will also tell you that reason has brought a lot of problems of its own – and that vacuum in values we are beginning to experience has been predicted and prophesied long ago.
66) The law of decision making say that there are results/consequences for every decision we make. .this is much like the choice God gives us. We make the decision but must equally accept the inevitable result.
67) Biblical predictions of how men will change at the end times ,are too good to have been any guess work .The prophesies contained in 2 Tim 3: 1-5 are so real that no even minded and fair person would be inclined to disregard it.
68) The predictions about how people will treat the marriage as an institution of God (1 Tim 4) are exactly as prophesied .Why ? How is it possible?
69) People have become lovers of themselves just as predicted
70) People have become lovers of their money just as predicted
71) People have become hedonistic just as predicted
72) People are disrespectful of their parents just as predicted.
73) Homo-sexuality has become prevalent just as predicted
74) Proud arrogant and contemptuous boasting has become quite acceptable
75) “Intemperate and loose morals” we see every day
76) Bribery and corruption is at the order of the day
77) Prediction in connection with Israel seem to becoming true as well.
78) Why do a lot of people convert to Christianity when they are over the age of 60 when they should otherwise have found ‘other answers’?
79) Why did Einstein say about the universe :”It is a put up job?”
80) The meaning of almost half the words in the dictionary are influenced by underlying values .Do we need a new dictionary today?
81) Humility is something great that we discover in life as we become more mature – fools do not discover that. We can’t have any relationship with others if we are not humble at heart. And this is the first thing anyone who want to come to God must learn (Matt 11:28)
82) Science cannot assign a purpose to the world it is exploring even though it may transcend political, religious & cultural differences . Jesus dying for us and the Bible give us that purpose.
83) The burden of absolute materialism will be too heavy for man to carry and will show that that he is a complex human being containing a soul and a spirit as well – but how far down the road will that be?
84) Religion (Christianity) has proved over and over that it can make people happy whereas a multitude of possessions just lead to more frustration. Happiness is not negotiable.
85) John Lennon sang the song “Imagine” – “no religion/ a brotherhood of man”. Okay so there is nearly no religion in England ,do the actions of the yobs remind us of “a brotherhood of man?”
86) Because true Christians can discern that God has a plan and that plan does not work like worldly plans
87) True Christians will always be numerically few. Christ’s ministry on earth was a life of sacrificing all personal and earthly interests and there is no reason to think that the success of Christianity lies in mass convertions if there is no obedience – it just does not work like we want to measure success here on earth
88) The Bible is purposely written so that not all people would understand it and many be converted. It is not a system of logic but consist of parables and symbols.
89) The gospel will be preached to all nations, and then the end will come .This has become possible with modern technology to happen relatively soon . . .and we can see in the signs of the times that the end is near.
90) .Evidence of non believing is actually a perfect sign that where we are with the spreading of the gospel today because that has been predicted/prophesied.
91) Believers do not only experience peace and love in their lives but that their lives become more Christ –like with time.
92) God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise . .and through the ages man has tried every conceivable philosophy ,political or economic ideology/system to solve his problems . .but none worked .The world is not prepared to try and understand God’s way ,so it is also not very likely that Christianity will have special appeal to ordinary people as a way to solve their problems.
93) Christianity is certainly not for “cissies” and there are many lessons to be learned – not something that will have special appeal to worldly people.
94) Christianity does not promise to make anybody rich and none of the text verses promising blessings include promised riches.So understandably not all people will persist if it is misrepresented from the start.
95) The Gospel is about God and Jesus (and not us) and if people get the impression that they will not gain in the way they understood it ,they will forsake the belief
96) So understandably is not for the masses ,unlike we are so often made to believe. .scripture confirms this in Jesus’ own words
97) The more demanding and arrogant we get about our needs that must be fulfilled ,the less we will understand the Bible ,and this is the case today.
98) The promise is that those who persevere will know the truth and the truth will set them free. The language of atheism does not sound like they want to believe anything ,let alone suffer anything. That is why it is so dangerous to
misled by their superficial arguments.
99) Our egocentric way of approaching God is so wrong and we are so blinded by it that we often have no idea that it is god that will have the final say and not us.
100) I have no faith that the 100 (99) reasons given will help anyone to accept Christianity because I also know that God calls us – if you are not called ,you are likely not chosen.

Joe Bob Parties With the Atheists

By Joe Bob Briggs | 05/30/2008

The biggest security guard I’ve ever seen in my life–this guy could work for Blackwater, and he’s got the coiled listening device spilling out of his left ear to prove it–has parked his burly self squarely in front of me, making it clear that I’d best slink back against the wall while the Rock Star of Atheism makes her entrance and a hundred entranced admirers take a collective breath, not quite believing they’re in her presence.

The exotically beautiful Ayaan Hirsi Ali travels with not one but two Blackwater types, part of a security contract supplied by the government of the Netherlands at the rate of two-point-five mill a year, and she’s clearly the main attraction at the opening-night fundraiser for the Atheist Alliance International, an umbrella group of 59 atheist organizations in 10 countries that have all come together in a spooky section of Arlington, Virginia, called Crystal City, which looks like some Nordic vision of the perfectly planned society–hermetically sealed high-rise apartment buildings, underground shopping malls, and claustrophobic hotels, with streets devoid of pedestrians but elaborately landscaped, like a Brobdingnagian potted plant.

We’re all wedged into the Arlington Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel at an event that’s been sold out for weeks, with hundreds more tuning in on the Internet, and we’ve been warned not to pet the bomb-sniffing dogs. The heavy security is specifically the result of a fatwa declaring open season on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but there’s a little paranoia even when she’s not around, perhaps because any well-placed explosive device in this low-ceilinged meeting hall could wipe out the entire sanhedrin of the atheist movement, and, after all, you never know what those abortion clinic bombers are likely to do next. Besides Ali, the assembled pantheon includes Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation), Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great) and Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell), which, if you’ve been paying attention, collectively amount to about 2 million New York Times best-selling copies during the past year with variations on the themes of “There is no God,” “Belief in God is a plague on society,” and “The religionists must be stopped.” So I guess there’s one other reason we need security: Any attack on the building would result in an extremely low afterlife quotient–we have to party now!

At last Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes her entrance–she’s actually kind of bashful, so she sidles awkwardly toward her assigned table as Burly Two bumps off dawdlers like a human mine-sweeper, clearing a path through the cocktail jungle–and as her presence slowly dawns on people (there she is! she’s so slender! don’t pet the dog!), there’s a little wave of spontaneous applause and then a jostling for position for what will be a solid hour of effusive outpourings (“Thank you for your courage,” “I admire you so much,” “My family is Muslim and you give me strength”), mostly from women, many of them clutching Ali’s book Infidel, the story of her odyssey from Somalia to Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia to Kenya to the Netherlands as she evaded an arranged marriage, denounced the religion of her family, became a member of the Dutch Parliament, and made a film on the oppression of Muslim women with director Theo Van Gogh, who was knifed to death by an Islamic fanatic as a result. I notice a man in line who looks remarkably like Tom Wolfe–only to realize it is Tom Wolfe. He chats with her for about five minutes, and she looks alternately embarrassed and joyful. On this night, it’s good to be an atheist in Crystal City.

The next three days will be a combination political convention, pep rally, scholarly conference and gathering of fans–in their undergraduate exuberance some of the attendees are a little like the monomaniacs at science fiction conventions–and it’s obvious that for many of the celebrants they’re experiencing an epiphany, a sense of “It’s okay to be atheist” or “Wow, there are more of us than I thought.” The gathering, in both senses, has begun.

When Harvey Cox wrote The Secular City 43 years ago, he noted in passing that “the anti-Christian zealot is something of an anachronism today” because “the forces of secularization have no serious interest in persecuting religion. Secularization simply bypasses and undercuts religion and goes on to other things. It has relativized religious world-views and thus rendered them innocuous. Religion has been privatized.”

I didn’t spot Dr. Cox in Crystal City–although it’s the kind of event he would relish–but I would expect that even from his cloistered Harvard study there would be a sense of a culture shift. Just four years ago I spoke at a national convention of atheists in Boston, and it was a ragtag group of a few dozen that couldn’t even fill up the bar at a Logan Airport hotel. During the years when Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the most famous atheist in America (and we’re not just saying that because she was a fan of The Door), you always had the sense that the roots of her movement didn’t go much further than the storefront in Austin where she sold sloppily printed pamphlets and brochures. The favorite joke of Ellen Johnson, O’Hair’s right hand for much of that time and president of American Atheists today, was always that “organizing atheists is like herding cats.”

What a difference a few best-sellers make. Mingling with the opening night audience are Matthew Chapman, great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin who normally makes his living writing screenplays and directing films but couldn’t resist writing a book about the recent “intelligent design” case in Dover, Pennsylvania; Greydon Square, the only known atheist rapper; Julia Sweeney, the former Saturday Night Live comedienne who has a one-woman show about “coming out” as an atheist; and our colleague Chris Harper, better known as “Pastor Deacon Fred,” who presides over the satirical Landover Baptist Church website when he’s not doing spot-on impersonations of a wildly deluded pulpiteer. And those are only the celebrities I noticed. Atheists are a brainy sort, so the room is also full of academics with multiple letters behind their names.

There’s a first-day-of-school feeling about the event, breathless, headed for the Finland Station. Part of it is anti-religion, but another big part of it is not so much fighting the religionists as establishing some new . . . uh . . . I can’t call it a religion because they don’t like that . . . some new . . . hmmm . . . belief system . . . Weltanschaung . . . ethical construct . . . well, anyway, some organized effort to herd the cats. There was much talk over the three days of emulating the civil rights movement and, even more to the point, the homosexual rights movement. Richard Dawkins noted a couple of times that the appropriation of the word “gay” had been the beginning of acceptance for that minority, and he invoked the old feminist concept of “consciousness raising” for the first time in decades. Daniel Dennett, whose day job is in the philosophy department of Tufts University, suggested that they get rid of the negativity of “atheist” (after all, it means “against theism”) and start calling themselves “brights.” His suggestion was met with less than universal acclaim, but he continued to press it, saying that, if “straight” is the opposite of “gay,” then the opposite of “bright” would be “super” (for belief in the supernatural). Of course, you couldn’t be bright without some kind of light source, and if we assume that it comes from within, then he’s already oriented the terminology so that illumination can’t come from any place that a religionist believes it comes from. But let’s not quibble!

In other words, this was not just a social event, it was an event full of planning, organizing, and . . . uh . . . well . . . again . . . I think I have to call it proselytizing. The atheists, you may be surprised to know, have a political action committee, and part of their lobbying efforts involve finding out which members of Congress are atheists. (There are 23 of them, according to the organizers, but only one is “out of the closet”–Pete Stark, a representative from California.) The policy of the group, articulated by Dawkins, is never to “out” an atheist, but to encourage them to publicly affirm their proud lack of superstition. And Dawkins is especially committed to programs that would educate children in an atheist-friendly way, since he believes that many of the most damaging superstitions are inculcated during the formative years of primary education.

My question about all this, from the outside looking in, was: Why now? Why, in the western civilized nations of the year 2007--in America yes, but especially in England--should there be this delirium over atheism? It’s not exactly a new movement. There have always been religionists on one side and atheists on the other, and in certain periods–I’m thinking of Alexandria in the 3rd century B.C., where the Jewish scholars mingled with the Neo-Platonists–the two sides have been intellectually grateful for one another. Even more recently, at the turn of the previous century, when Americans were decamping for London instead of vice versa, it was still possible for the decadent Swinburne-loving Ezra Pound to befriend T.S. Eliot, the American-turned-Brit who would become the most intellectually honest exponent of the Anglican church for the past 300 years. But those days are gone. Speaker after speaker made the point: this is war. There will be no accommodation with those “who believe in the imaginary man in the sky,” in the words of Daniel Dennett. “We seem to be having some impact [by being aggressive] in ways that decades of niceness have not,” said Dawkins. Theologians who would engage the atheists in a friendly manner are, in the words of one attendee, “enablers.” ”The moderate religious people,” said Dawkins, “make the world safe for the extremists.”

Whew! Heady stuff. And all this time I thought it had something to do with either Bush or the Christian Coalition or those strange little committees that tilt at Darwin in Appalachian fastnesses. But the main atheist books–all on sale at the makeshift lobby bookshop, with tables run by EvolveFish (get it?) and the Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science–are not about politics at all. These guys aren’t so much interested in the separation of church and state as the exposure of God as a fraud who will sometime soon, in the economy of evolutionary thought, be dispensed with entirely. It’s the ancient argument–as old, at least, as Rome–that all monotheistic religion, but especially Christianity, is not just false but immoral. It’s one thing to say God is an illusion, but the speeches of the weekend made it clear–God is also wicked, or at least the things done in his name are crimes against humanity and, by the way, unscientific.

If they have a patron saint, it’s Darwin–I would have thought Einstein, or at least someone from physics rather than biology–but no, it’s Darwin to such an extent that “natural selection” analogies are de rigeur for every speaker. The always entertaining Christopher Hitchens, whose prose reads like an Oxford don writing for the New York Post, is their Thomas Paine, a literary flamethrower whose latest book reprises his famous savaging of Mother Teresa while taking us on a journey through most of the other theological abominations of past centuries, while Sam Harris serves as the more sober theorist of the movement, mainly because of his 2005 book The End of Faith, not his more recent screed Letter to a Christian Nation. Dawkins, darling of the PBS special and the good-natured quip, is an actual Oxford don who seems quite comfortable as the de facto archbishop of the movement. (A strange disconnect: None of these guys seem particularly perturbed about the state-sponsored Church of England, and in fact they seem to get on famously with all those daft Anglican divines who spend their lives writing impenetrably flabby tomes about 18th-century liturgical music.)

So, given that this group has serious intellectual pretensions–and here I thought it was going to be another weekend of drinking and making fun of televangelists, like the event in Boston–I had to sober up and figure out what schools we’re drawing from here. It’s hard to tell. If the purpose is not so much political as educational–the latest, most up-to-date assault on divinity, no matter which of its multifarious forms it takes–you would think someone would quote Hobbes or Locke sometime during the weekend. Nope, neither. (What kind of Brits are these?) How about Kant? Nope. How about–if just to refute them–Kierkegaard or Barth? How about that behemoth Nietzsche, since these debates tend to be centered in Germany and, after all, wasn’t he the first to declare God’s demise? Nope, there was none of this, not even from Dennett, the professional philosopher on the dais. Surely Dennett would feel compelled to address the “Death of God” theologians of the sixties, or the post-modernists like Vattimi and Caputo who go beyond Nietzsche to–dare we utter his name?–Jacques Derrida. No. Nyet. Negativo. (Derrida, by the way, was an Algerian Jew noted for the playful statement “Thank God I’m an atheist,” which would seem to me an excellent starting point for at least a seminar.)

Instead what we get is the god of Science. Not just the scientific method–although that was ever on display, with the assumption that if it can’t be proven by objective testing, then it has no reality–but the idea that the whole progress of the human race has taught us that our highest aspirations will be realized through deductive laboratory-type reasoning. In some ways history, for these men, begins with the Enlightenment, and their faith in progress could stir the passions of the most zealous Marxist. I would best describe them as scientific positivists. One of the most startling passages in Dawkins’ book The God Delusion has to do with his belief in the essential decency of humankind. I’m not sure of his point there–I think he’s denying original sin–but he seems to be of the opinion that most people, left alone, will co-exist in peace and harmony. Please give this man a tour of the Ellis Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections. Although he wrote a book called The Selfish Gene, he’s apparently not aware of the mundane brutality in abundant evidence on any episode of Cops.

Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say Dawkins believes that, if we could only get rid of religion in all its noxious forms, the result would be peace on earth and goodwill among men, as interpreted by the Linus speech in A Charlie Brown Christmas (minus the word “savior,” emphasis on the wise men and the awe of the shepherds, of course). Hence the convention’s opening lecture, hosted by Dawkins, was a presentation by University of Virginia psychologist J. Anderson Thomson on “this vexed question of suicide terrorism,” as Dawkins put it. Darwinian atheists would like to know: How is it possible for a member of the species homo sapiens to destroy his own life as well as other members of the species in the name of God?

To get to the root of the problem, the lanky, bearded, intensely professorial Thomson quickly reeled off all the terrorist acts of the past week, ran through a brief history of suicide terrorism (and I do mean brief--2,000 years in 60 seconds), then traced modern suicide bombings from 1981, when the Iraqi embassy in Beirut was attacked, showing a troubling upward trend that approaches 500 bombings per year worldwide in the new millennium. All of this to make the point that there are three underlying causes: 1) “male-bonded coalitionary violence” (the age-old tendency of “this band of brothers” to stage pre-emptive raids on the nearby village that’s larger and more threatening), 2) the universal capacity for suicide when there’s a feeling that the suicide will help the family, and 3) “religion as a cultural construct” (bingo!).

Since most of us can imagine situations in which suicidal violence would be attractive–to save the life of a child, for example, or to get rid of Hitler–the first two reasons aren’t that weird. So let’s focus on the third one. According to Thomson, “religion hijacks the human brain” just as a certain ant will become suicidal when infected by a parasite. (You’re not allowed to speak at this convention unless you have a Darwinian example.) To illustrate his point, Thomson ran through a list of not two, not three, but a couple of dozen reasons that the brain becomes actively deformed by religion, including “decoupled cognition,” “relationships with unseen others,” “reciprocal altruism” (the feeling of indebtedness), childhood credulity, deference to authority, the hijacking of the mother/infant relationship by another “attachment system,” romantic love (nuns who martyr themselves as “the bride of Christ”), “hyperactive agency detection,” “coalition psychology” (us vs. them), “transference” (the Dalai Lama, or Billy Graham, as a “kindly older brother”), an inauthentic moral feelings system, “altruistic punishment,” and “the most powerful mechanism of all”–kin psychology. You do it because your families, both your natural and your spiritual families, want you to do it. And when those families are led by a “charismatic leader” who has “authority without responsibility,” then the natural compassion of young males gets switched off.

Having set out to tell us how the brain becomes “hijacked,” Thomson succeeded, I thought, only in reminding us of how many ways we can be persuaded to do things that aren’t necessarily in our own best interests. In my case, for example, credit card companies and young women in stiletto heels have both, at various times, hijacked my brain.

But here’s the best part. In the question-and-answer session, Thomson is asked how we can stop the epidemic of suicide bombing, and his answer is “education, honesty and good leadership.” I don’t know what I expected him to say, but that was a letdown for me, not least because I would expect that all three are already being emphasized in the common schools of England, from which many of the suicide bombers have emerged. “My wish,” he said, “would be that high school psychology textbooks taught that human minds are vulnerable to supernatural beliefs.” Such an anti-climax! All that buildup and then the answer is to replace the madrassas with “use your noggin” classes. My mother was a primary school teacher for most of her life, and I can assure you that there are already plenty of state-mandated programs requiring the teaching of “Me-ology”–that’s a real term used in the public schools of Little Rock, Arkansas–as well as “Think For Yourself” in all its permutations (“Are You a Robin or a Bluebird?”), and that references to the supernatural have been unwelcome in the classroom at least since 1963.

At any rate, the convention was less about this sort of thorny atheist dilemma–there would be plenty of fat speakers fees available for that--than a sort of triumphal procession at the end of a very good year, with Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett and others parading into the Colosseum with booty and captives. Leading the cheers and setting the tone at the official welcome ceremony on Friday night was Atheist Alliance president Margaret Downey, an unfailingly good-humored Philadelphian who favors pearls and stylish hats and is best known for being the mother of a defrocked Boy Scout, drummed out of the organization for his atheism, a galvanizing event that resulted in her founding of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, which in turn led to her being named the atheist representative at several United Nations events. Take that, Lord Baden-Powell!

Joking about a myriad of technical problems on stage (“Is there a Jesus in the audience that can turn this microphone into three?”), she spent several minutes welcoming all the people who couldn’t get into the ballroom, including several hundred watching on closed circuit in other parts of the hotel, and several thousand viewing via the Internet, including the Oklahoma Atheists, a group of atheists at the University of Arkansas, some atheists meeting at a woman’s home in Atlantic City, and atheist groups in India and, for some reason, Iceland.

Downey talked about how it’s time for everyone to become tub-thumpers for “the atheist lifestyle,” which involves “the light of reason” and “the sense of pride we have about the conclusions we have reached–because atheism is a conclusion, not a belief.” With the audience warming to her pep talk, she went on to say that the atheist movement is “a solid force” for the first time in living memory, but that “the future of atheism depends on unity,” to which the whole room shouted “Amen!” (Yes, it’s corny, but it’s one of their favorite jokes.) After several more introductions and Pastor Deacon Fred’s impersonation of a froth-mouth creationist (“An open mind is the devil’s playground!”), everyone rose as one for a prolonged standing ovation as the man himself took the podium, looking lean and spiffy in a grey suit, playing the gentle warrior with his opening salvo: “We are in a propaganda war.”

Yes, it was Dawkins, apostle to the gentiles, bringing glad tidings from Corinth. “There is a new wave of reason. Our enemies, superstition and dogma, are on the wane.” To prove it, he cited “the unprecedented sales figures for atheistic books,” noting that his own The God Delusion had sold 1.25 million copies in one year in the English language, with 31 foreign-language editions yet to come. He then spent the rest of his time shooting down the critics who have appeared in the wake of this manifest success.

“Are we too aggressive?” he asked rhetorically. “Do we play into the hands of the creationists? I met Rothschild, the lawyer for our side in the Dover evolution case. He said ‘Thank God we didn’t call you as an expert witness.’ Are we shrill? Are we strident? I’ve been accused of ranting.”

Then, to prove how not shrill he is, Dawkins reads passages from The God Delusion, emphasizing their satirical nature, garnering generous laughter and ovations after each one. Conclusion: aggression is good for atheism. Dawkins then shows how desperate the religious opposition is. He plays several video clips of himself looking silly when asked questions about evolution–the clips are, of course, all phonies, posted on the web by the lunatic fringe, including one in which Dawkins supposedly says that Jews were tipped off to not going to work at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

He then talks about how often he’s asked “Why don’t you treat religious people with more respect?” and “How can you criticize religion if you’re not learned in theology?” and “Why do you always attack the worst of Christianity–why not my kind of Christianity?” and “Don’t you know that we don’t teach literally?”–indicating that he’s tired of hearing these arguments about the argument, and that they are all refusals to engage with basic premises, juxtaposing science against the supernatural. (Dawkins was the first of several speakers during the weekend who bristled at the constant admonition that they should be “nicer.” They see it as an evasion.)

Continuing with his “State of the Atheist Union,” Dawkins went on to outline three initiatives for the future, starting with politics. “In America it’s almost impossible to elect an atheist–but we can try. We’re starting the Out Campaign. Reach Out, Speak Out, Stand Out for reason. And Keep Out for religion.”

His second suggestion, oddly enough, was to teach comparative religion in the schools. “Teach religion in literature and language, the use of common idioms from religion. We have to raise consciousness about the tying of religious labels around the necks of children. There is no such thing as a Christian child or a Muslim child, but when you Google those terms, you can see how many times they’re used.” (The purpose of this initiative was not crystal clear to me, but I think he was saying that if everyone is ecumenical, then all extremist positions will be neutralized.)

And finally, said the arch-atheist, “we need to teach children to think. Think for yourself.” (All the speakers showed an inordinate faith in education, as though their theistic opponents simply needed more credit hours in the basic sciences to become upright rationalists.)

I’m assuming that Dawkins couldn’t have known how closely his three goals correspond to a typical rally of those scary “On Fire For Jesus” teenagers:

1) Speak out and stand up for Jesus, no matter what your secular friends say!
2) Know your Bible so you can share when people quote from secular books!
3) Don’t follow the crowd!

The only difference is that Teens For Christ would conclude with a group hug and hysterical girl-shrieks, whereas atheists are not, as a rule, huggers.

Dawkins closed with a reference to his film The Root of All Evil?: “Religion is not the root of all evil, but it gets in the way of the appreciation of truth, and that is an evil in itself.”

After his third or fourth standing ovation (I’m starting to lose count), Dawkins submitted to a brief question-and-answer session in which he was asked, as a scientist, to explain the difference between atheists and believers.

“We’re right!” he answers, to general laughter, then, more seriously: “At the behest of a vicar I’m acquainted with, I had magnetic fields put through my skull and the vicar did the same. It did nothing for me. The vicar said, however, that I was an ace responder to the EEG. We were looking for a neurological difference. Is there one? I suppose there could be, but I find that very unsatisfying.”

(This was a continuing theme of the weekend, by the way–the idea that someday, perhaps through such a Sherlock Holmes-style experiment, we will learn the scientific reason why some members of the species believe in God and some do not, because there’s no obvious “natural selection” benefit for believing in the God of the three monotheistic religions. There are, however, quite a few psychological benefits for believing in nature gods, the traditional gods of success, a distinction that I never heard anyone make.)

And so it went, through the rest of the weekend, with each celebrity atheist running through the main themes of his book but also talking about how good it feels–at last!–to be in a nice cozy room full of fellow atheists. “How strange,” said Sam Harris, “that a meeting like this is even necessary. That we live in a world where most people believe in an imaginary god. Twenty-four million people believe that Jesus will return with magic powers. And that belief affects our political discourse, our public policy, the teaching of science, and America’s stature in the world.”

And yet it was Harris–the handsome, smooth-talking American in his Al Gore-style sport coat–who became the first apostate! The Harrisy began as most heresies do, with a few simple offhand musings. Harris noted that he’s an atheist only by default. After writing The End of Faith he was constantly questioned about his own religious beliefs, and for a long time he didn’t give any answer. Eventually he started calling himself atheist because he thought it was becoming intellectually dishonest to say anything else. Still, he continued, he doesn’t think atheism should be a movement, and that perhaps the term itself is a mistake. “After all, did you have to be a non-racist? Atheism is not really a philosophy or a worldview. So we run the risk of being seen as a cranky subculture. And I think that could be a trap that is deliberately set for us. It allows people to reject our arguments without meeting the burden of actually answering them. We should not call ourselves anything. We should be under the radar.”

You could already sense the crowd starting to move toward the audience-participation microphone–this was a cold-water moment for those who had shown up to start the revolution–but then Harris went further to say that much in atheism was lazy: “We have to admit that Islam is quite a bit scarier than Christianity. So we are constrained to talk about Islam. To be evenhanded is bullshit. Some religions don’t have extremists.”

More murmuring. Moses is temporarily absent on Horeb–what’s this guy doing?

But Harris, it turned out, was saving his real bombshell for the end. He concluded his talk with a review of “the rich vein of contemplative literature” indicating that there might be some value to religious mysticism! “Our pleasures are fleeting,” he said, sounding a little like Billy Graham. “We enter into a search for happiness, a victory over boredom and doubt. So many people wonder: Is there a deeper form of well-being? Is happiness possible? This question lies at the periphery of all religion. And we love our answer. For many of us, that answer is No. And yet certain people are led to spirituality and meditation. If happiness exists, it should be available somewhere. Otherwise this life is a form of solitary confinement. So we have this rich vein of contemplative literature. Is it all psychopathology? Is it all a fraud? Perhaps there are alternatives to neurosis. . . . As atheists, we can be accused of purging the universe of mystery.”

I was stunned. Did I just hear the leading exponent of atheism in America, the guy who told Rick Warren what a crock his Jesus was, make some Ecclesiastes-style observations about the emptiness of day-to-day life and then say “haven’t you ever thought there must be more than that in life”? Isn’t that the traditional lead-in to . . . gulp . . . the altar call?

Well, yes. Yes, he did, and the atheists weren’t happy about it.

“But we have to unite under some sort of banner!” said Kelly of the “Rationalist Thought Squad,” almost pleading with him to take back his abandonment of the term atheist.

“I was very disappointed in your speech!” said another audience member. “You seem to believe in the supernatural!”

Harris backed off slightly. “Nothing I believe requires the supernatural. I was just pointing out that there is a range of human experience. There are mystical traditions within religion that we should investigate. I believe in the plasticity of the human brain. There’s the possibility of transforming moment-to-moment experience into something better.”

But Daniel Dennett wouldn’t let him off the hook. “I disagree with you violently,” said Dennett after making his way to the front of the room. “You say maybe it’s not psychopathology--about mysticism. I was courted by the transcendental meditation people. They have a history of more extreme contemplatives and ascetics. It doesn’t seem that they come back with anything interesting. Why isn’t it just one big waste of time and effort?”

Harris’ answer: “It’s nowhere written that anything is easily acquired or explored. Most of us can’t do it. It’s an inconvenient fact–that some desirable things are difficult to cash out. Losing the sense of subjective self, for example, is most common in Buddhism. Dropping the sense of self reduces anxiety, selfishness, fear. It creates compassion and empathy. Nobody says it’s easy. But the words of mystics can be separated from metaphysics. The people I’m talking about are moral athletes. They are the Tiger Woodses of spirituality.”

But Dennett continued to huff, and the issue was left unresolved.

Alas, that was to be the only real fistfight among the luminaries. Saturday night was much more of a lovefest, starting with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who basically summarized her book but still captivated the crowd with her charming asides: her chief influence as a young Muslim girl in Kenya was Nancy Drew novels, at age 16 she was “proud” of her decision to wear the full hijab, she turned from the Koran to Spinoza in her twenties only after learning about civil liberties and secular law in the Netherlands, and when she made her final break from Islam she still regretted leaving her family and her clan, especially since she suspects her brother to be a secret atheist. At the end of her adoring question-and-answer session (“I was disgusted by what Muhammad has to say in the Koran,” “In Islam any form of doubt is called atheism,” “I want to create dissonance for Muslim women”), Dawkins took the stage to say, “May I have your permission to nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize?”–resulting in the most prolonged standing ovation, and the most prolonged blush, of the entire event.

Christopher Hitchens was an amusement of a different sort–first because he didn’t show up for his speech and several people had to go looking for him (“Check the bar!”), then because his thrown-together 19-minute talk was peppered with hysterical invective, as he described the “moon-faced Baptist preachers” and “smug smarmy rabbis” and “ghouls from Islamic organizations” he’d been forced to debate during the past year. Hitchens says most of them try to argue from some morally superior position, as though religion itself benefits society. “And yet there is this property of the supernatural–it attacks us in our core, despoils our sexuality, it is a source of misery, guilt, shame and immorality. And so my suggestion to you, when you encounter these people, is to say this: your antagonist has to make a moral statement that could not be made by a non-believer. Actually one was posted on my website. ‘Love your enemies.’ I don’t think that’s a moral statement. It’s immoral to say you love them.”

To make another point, Hitchens turned to Dawkins and asked “How long has the species been on the planet?” Dawkins shrugged at first, then ventured, “Three hundred thousand years.”

“Okay,” said Hitchens, “Let’s be generous to the young earth people and say 100,000. How can there be a belief that a loving God watched that human history, with its misery and gruesomeness–heaven watched that with folded arms for 94,000 years, and then said ‘It’s time to intervene’? Either there was a very bad design, or there was a wicked design.”

Hitchens was especially exercised–apparently he’d encountered it on talk shows–of the new Bush mantra about evolution: “Teach the argument! Let’s hear both sides!”

“First, there isn’t an argument. We don’t say let’s teach chemistry and alchemy. Let’s teach astronomy and astrology. A corollary of that argument would be that any church with a tax break has to teach Darwin in Sunday school.”

And lest he leave the podium without doing his most beloved trope, he used a question about Al Sharpton and the poor to say that not only are Sharpton and Jesse Jackson frauds, but Mother Teresa (you could feel the audience waiting for this one, like concertgoers waiting for the band to play its most famous hit) was “a hideous virgin and fraud and fundamentalist shriveled old bat.” It was around this time that he stuck an unlit cigarette between his lips, indicating that he’d like to wrap things up if he could.

Most of what I picked up about atheism, though, came not from the distinguished headliners but from the little backroom gatherings of the rank and file. There’s a New Jerseyan named David Silverman who, in the space of about 45 minutes, ran through every single argument against God, past and present, complete with answers to the most common challenges from Christians and other theists. This was immensely entertaining. Among his practical debating pointers: “When they say ‘You cannot deny the possibility of God,’ answer ‘You can’t deny the possibility of Zeus.’” “Point out their belief is Ignoratio Ergo Deus–‘I don’t know, so it must be God.’” “Oh, I hate it when they use the ontological argument! It’s a fake argument. It’s wordplay. The short answer is that a perfect being would not allow suffering to exist. All these arguments depend on God not being self-contradictory.” And on and on. My favorite: “The first religion was 100,000 years ago: Neanderthals prayed to bears.”

Silverman is a smart guy, and if I had to sum up the common characteristics of the people who gathered in Crystal City, that would be it: they’re smart. Atheism is for smart people. That’s both its strength and its weakness. It’s a trait they share with the Libertarian Party, by the way, which probably has a fair number of atheists among its adherents. I’m not sure you could be mentally retarded and also be an atheist. There’s no sense of responsibility for making “the least of us” part of the secret.

But it’s not just that they’re intellectuals. They’re also ghostbusters. They’re on a mission, and that mission, I would presume, is partly influenced by horrible experiences they’ve had with believers. Most of what the atheists say about religion is absolutely true. We don’t need to look any further than the Catholic sex abuse scandals–11,000 victims of 4,300 priests, and that’s only the ones we’ve been able to count–to find concrete examples of active evil done in the name of God. And it’s certainly not surprising if some of those victims leave the church and become atheists. What is surprising is what the atheists want to replace that with. Scientific positivism as a way of life doesn’t look any more secure or sexy than, say, trade-unionism. If all the churches, mosques, synagogues and ashrams disappeared tomorrow, what would be the defining belief that holds the atheists together in fellowship? Or would they have done their work at that point? Would they wither away like the ideal communist state, since this is basically a form of 18th-century anti-clericalism? Their faith in capital-R Reason ultimately seemed a little naive. Didn’t we just go through a whole century of challenges to science and reason, with questions about what we know, how we know it, and how we know what can be known. Forget the world wars and the nuclear arms race–did they miss the whole “Waiting for Godot” part in the middle? Encountering this sort of faith in human intelligence in 2008 is a little like visiting Wall Street and finding a 1920s-style industrialist who’s still investing in giant dam projects. We tried that already!

There’s also an occasional dark side that emerges among the professional atheists. We saw it for years in the personality of Madalyn Murray O’Hair. But even if you make an exception for her–she was in many ways sui generis--there’s a certain joy in humiliating their opponents that wouldn’t be attractive to any jury. On one level it’s just a matter of knocking down the straw men of East Tennessee snake-handler cults. But even in academia, they can play dirty. For example, there’s a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University named Michael Behe who, from what I can tell, has pretty much earned the universal contempt of his colleagues. His own university puts an extensive disclaimer on the biology department website, making it clear that everyone thinks he’s a nut. He was called as an expert witness at the Dover “intelligent design” trial because apparently he’s the only academic who will speak up for it, even as a theory–and the judge dismissed his testimony as worthless. He’s the equivalent of the pimply-faced weakling in the schoolyard who has been beaten up so often that the bullies are starting to tire of the exercise. But not the Darwinists! They relish every appearance Behe makes. They lie in wait for him. They dogpile him. They make sure that not only does he lose his glasses, but someone crushes them underfoot, and then bends the metal on his dental braces in the bargain. They don’t just attack him in obscure journals of biology–they go after him in the popular press. Meanwhile, nobody is listening to him! He has zero support. You would think that, even in the year 2008, there’s some modicum of collegiality among tenured professors. (I thought this sort of venom was limited to Behe, but then I saw an exchange in the London Review of Books last fall after Jerry Fodor published an article called “Why Pigs Don’t Have Wings,” saying that some aspects of Darwinian adaptationism were being called into question. The article was fairly abstruse and specialized, but some kind of clarion call went out and Fodor was not just attacked–almost everything written in a book review gets attacked–but gang-tackled and head-butted by a dozen or so academics, Dennett among them, and those are only the ones that made it into print somewhere. There’s something about Darwinism that has to be fought out in the open, although, if you asked most people, they would probably say that, yes, we accept most of Darwin’s assumptions at this point.)

One of the most touching moments (for the atheists) and troubling moments (for me) came on the final evening of the convention, when Daniel Dennett was presented with the 2007 Richard Dawkins Award . . . by Richard Dawkins. (Yes, things were getting ridiculous by then.) In presenting the award, Dawkins told the story of a life-threatening illness that Dennett had suffered through the previous year. During Dennett’s time in the hospital, he was upset by the number of people who said “We will pray for you.” He thought the focus should be on the wonderful staff and technology available in the hospital, not on appeals to a fictitious force in outer space. Dawkins tells this story with great admiration, and the audience agrees–what a brave and honest man.

The name for this is stoicism, and they’re committed to it. They don’t even realize that when people say “We will pray for you”–sometimes even non-religious people–it means they have run out of any other thing to say to you. They’re overwhelmed by the enormity of what you’re facing, and what they’re facing, and so they use this phrase to mean “I love you.” I think most people would instinctively know this. I can imagine few people on the planet who would be offended or upset by the offer of intercessory prayer. I don’t even think that most people offering intercessory prayer at a time like that intend to follow through on the prayer, at least not in any formal way. There’s a connection made at that moment, and it’s recognized by both parties as love. This may be the main reason atheism has no long-term legs. It has no cubicle for love.

On my final day of the convention, I decided to skip the “secular naming ceremony” of two young children–I take it this is one of the atheist initiatives designed to replace christenings–and instead I hopped on the Washington Metro and went to an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. The Renaissance sculptor Desiderio da Settignano of Florence was being honored in an exhibition that required the cooperation of three countries, the Louvre, and the foremost art historians in Italy, and it was easy to see why. Working in marble in the middle part of the 15th century, Desiderio produced altarpieces, busts, tombs, Madonnas, and fireplaces, and he specialized in young children, especially boys, especially the child Jesus and the young John the Baptist, and in every case he did such fine chiseling that the marbled skin is preternaturally smooth and soft and . . . suddenly I’m hearing the voice of Christopher Hitchens . . . look at that sensuality, look at all the naked children, the man is a filthy perverted pederastic moron! And as soon as I had the thought, I couldn’t think of anything else as I walked past all the pieces in the show, trying to suppress a grin. Look at the catalog, if you get a chance. It’s true. Hitchens will agree with me. The man was a child molester.

Obviously, my brain had been hijacked by atheists.

The hunter's code for psychic and spiritual warfare archive 2

The Hunter's Code For Psychic and Spiritual Warfare (Third template)

1.1. Hunters respect the law, and do not break it unless doing so will save an innocent (this includes trespassing)

1.2. We will never violate a law based on communal decision making (democracy) unless the violation of that law could potentially save lives. In this case, We will accept full responsibility for our actions.

2.1. Hunters never harm a human except if the life of another human is threatened (with respect to laws governing defense of another person)
2.2. We will provide psychic healing and support for any and all victims of demon attack which we help. These psychic scars, if left untreated, can make a person vulnerable to future attack.


3.1. A possessed, oppressed, or demonically influenced person is a victim. Those controlled by demons may still be innocent. Our enemy is the demon itself, not the victim.
3.2. We will never use psychic warfare to strike at another human, unless that human is openly working with demons, and is not possessed or has volunteered for possession.


4.1. We respect the enemy. We do not insult, cuss out, or otherwise disparage demons. They were once angels, and still have some authority as divine beings. To profane what was once divine is to invite attacks into our own lives, to cause us to become the hunted rather than the hunters.
4.2. We will recognize at all times that the entities we engage are dangerous and deadly, and have the potential at any moment to pose a very real physical, psychic, or psychological long term or permanent threat not only to me but to my loved ones as well.


5.1. We do not use tools of the enemy to fight the enemy. Ouija, tarot, etc open pathways that are not easily closed, and can cause more demons to afflict a person or place, rather than eliminating them.
5.2. We will never use psychic vampirism regardless of my desperation. Doing so essentially makes me one of the enemy.

5.3. We will never do a working based in negative energy.


6.1. When invoking a demon we do not ask it to show its power, we command it to leave. Inviting the enemy to demonstrate its power is inviting attacks on everyone present.
6.2. We will never call upon a force we can not confidently and totally control.

6.3. We will never strike a deal of any kind with an evil supernal entity, unless the circumstances are totally beyond control.


7.1. Exorcisms are restricted to experts. No amateurs are to be present, as even stray thoughts during such a ritual can be dangerous. Exorcisms can be deadly, and there should be no distractions.
7.2. We will never knowingly or deliberately involve someone who is mentally deficient or under the age of 16 in a conflict with demons if they are not already targeted.

7.3. We will not involve anyone in a conflict with demons unless we are convinced that they understand the potential danger to themselves and their loved ones.


8.1. All exorcisms are to be recorded with audio, video, or both. This is for our own protection to prove that no one acted in an illegal manner, and to be used as training for less experienced hunters.

9.1. We are not ghost hunters. What we hunt is inherently evil. Ghosts are not always evil, while demons are. If a demon were not evil, it would not be a demon, but something else entirely.

10.1. We do not brag or boast about our feats and accomplishments. When asked, we explain honestly, without exaggerations. This will help to build trust with the public.

10.2. Psychic training or ability does not make me better than anyone else, any more than talent with the piano makes them better than me. I will recognize that imposed hierarchy and supremacy are part of the ideology of the enemy and have no place in the thoughts of a demon hunter.
10.3. We will never use magick or psychic power for personal gain. Doing so affects countless other lives.

11.1. Good entities do not need to control or manipulate other good or neutral entities. Knowing this, we will never invite the possession of ourselves or others by any entity, regardless of what it claims as its motivations.

12.1. If we engage an entity we affect it's behavior, and become responsible for its future actions. Knowing this, we will never poke a bear we cannot shoot.

13.1. We will never engage in psychic warfare while intoxicated, unless we have been formally instructed in the ritual use of a specific drug by a true shaman passing down generational wisdom.

Please post any real exorcism stories here: EP Link

These stories have detailed information for anyone who wants to learn more:
EP Link
EP Link
EP Link

Questions and private messages are always welcome.
This code was developed by a collaborative effort of myself and Digger1649. Repost or link to if it will benefit people, but cite the source please.

Thank you friends!

I would like to thank everyone who gave me advice and reported the member who had been stalking / harassing me. His account seems to still be active, but he has ceased his anti-me activities. Hopefully it will not start back up again, but if it does I know I have a great support system right here in my EP circle!!

Internet harassment, keeping a record

I never said anything was evil "because it is from another belief system". I have very specific reasons that I believe demons are evil, and I have explained them.

It is you, flobadine, who have made 4 separate stories across 3 groups for the sole purpose of attacking me and my beliefs.

I share my beliefs and defend them when I have to, but it ends there. You are the one spreading hate, half truths, and whole lies. What you are doing now is the very definition of hypocrisy.

I have said many times that you don't have to agree, you don't have to believe me, but you persist in your attacks as well as unreasonable demands.

I will not make a hate story against you as you have done to me, I won't be goaded to sink to your level. I only hope that you understand that I am entitled to my belief, and have never / would never push it on someone. I will explain it, even debate it in a polite debate setting, but I will not try to force my way on others as you seem to want to do.

I hope that you see the wisdom of ending your unreasonable, hateful vendetta.

~Jophiel

Hunter's Code archive

Let me start by saying I have over a decade of hands on experience in the paranormal, specializing in the removal of malevolent inhuman entities, or demons. I have performed multiple exorcisms successfully, and seen many others.

I am as close to being an expert on this subject as any human can claim to be. Do not attempt to try anything without first researching it, reading about it, watching video of it, or consulting someone who is a professional. Incorrect handling of a situation involving the dark side is more than simply dangerous. It can invite severe demonic retaliation, including severe disease, accidents, and death. This is not joke, and should never under any circumstances be taken lightly.

Things that I have come across, mistakes made by armature hunters, can affect us all. We have a shady enough reputation without the ignorance of fellow hunters bringing us down further. To this end, I have prepared a 'hunter's code' that I ask you each to read, learn, comment on, and even suggest ways to improve upon it. This is something I believe that we should undertake together. Just because I am setting the wheels in motion, does not mean that I have absolute authority in the matter. It is a responsibility we all share to ourselves as hunters, and to the victims of demonic attacks.

The Hunter's Code (first template)

1. Hunters respect the law, and do not break it unless doing so will save an innocent (this includes trespassing)

2. Hunters never harm a human except if the life of another human is threatened (with respect to laws governing defense of another person)

3. A possessed, oppressed, or demonically influenced person is a victim. Those controlled by demons may still be innocent. Our enemy is the demon itself, not the victim.

4. We respect the enemy. We do not insult, cuss out, or otherwise disparage demons. They were once angels, and still have some authority as divine beings. To profane what was once divine is to invite attacks into our own lives, to cause us to become the hunted rather than the hunters.

5. We do not use tools of the enemy to fight the enemy. Ouija, tarot, etc open pathways that are not easily closed, and can cause more demons to afflict a person or place, rather than eliminating them.

6. When invoking a demon we do not ask it to show its power, we command it to leave. Inviting the enemy to demonstrate its power is inviting attacks on everyone present.

7. Exorcisms are restricted to experts. No amateurs are to be present, as even stray thoughts during such a ritual can be dangerous. Exorcisms can be deadly, and there should be no distractions.

8. All exorcisms are to be recorded with audio, video, or both. This is for our own protection to prove that no one acted in an illegal manner, and to be used as training for less experienced hunters.

9. We are not ghost hunters. What we hunt is inherently evil. Ghosts are not always evil, while demons are. If a demon were not evil, it would not be a demon, but something else entirely.

10. We do not brag or boast about our feats and accomplishments. When asked, we explain honestly, without exaggerations. This will help to build trust with the public.

The truth about Easter

The name “Easter” has its roots in ancient polytheistic religions (paganism). On this, all scholars agree. This name is never used in the original Scriptures, nor is it ever associated biblically with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For these reasons, we prefer to use the term “Resurrection Sunday” rather than “Easter” when referring to the annual Christian remembrance of Christ's resurrection.
Ancient origin

Most reference books say that the name “Easter” derived from the Eastre, the Teutonic goddess of Spring. Although this relationship exists, in reality, the origin of the name and the goddess are far more ancient - going all the way back to the Tower of Babel. The origin begins not long after the biblical Flood.

The Flood was a divine judgment sent on mankind after evil had become all pervasive and all people everywhere were totally unresponsive to God. The Bible says that "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5, NKJV). It is not difficult to imagine that life must have been almost unbearable at this time in history. God gave humankind a second chance by preserving the righteous man Noah and his family (a total of 8 people).

After the Flood, Noah had a talented, but evil, great-grandson named Nimrod (Genesis 10:6-10) who rebelled greatly against God. The Bible says that he was “a mighty one”[1] Jewish tradition indicates that Nimrod was a tyrant "who made all of the people rebellious against God."[2] It is evident from history that Nimrod was not only a political leader, but also the lead priest of a form of occultic worship.[3]

King Nimrod, Queen Semiramis (Easter), and Tammuz (the “reincarnated” Nimrod)

Nimrod built and organized major cities. The Bible notes that these included Babel, Asshur, Nineveh and Calah (Genesis 10:10-12). If you know anything about ancient history, the mention of these places may send shivers up your spine. For these were cities of great, almost unimaginable practices and perversion.

When Nimrod eventually died, the Babylonian mystery religion in which he figured prominently continued on. His wife Queen Semiramis saw to that. Once he was dead, she deified him as the Sun-god. In various cultures he later became known as Baal, the Great Life Giver, the god of fire, Baalim, Bel, Molech, etc.

“Later, when this adulterous and idolatrous woman gave birth to an illegitimate son, she claimed that this son, Tammuz by name, was Nimrod reborn.”[4] Semiramis “claimed that her son was supernaturally conceived [no human father] and that he was the promised seed, the 'savior'” - promised by God in Genesis 3:15. “However, not only was the child worshipped, but the woman, the MOTHER, was also worshipped as much (or more) than the son!”[5] Nimrod deified as the god of the sun and father of creation. Semiramis became the goddess of the moon, fertility, etc.

"In the old fables of the Mystery cults, their 'savior' Tammuz, was worshipped with various rites at the Spring season. According to the legends, after he was slain [killed by a wild boar], he went into the underworld. But through the weeping of his mother… he mystically revived in the springing forth of the vegetation - in Spring! Each year a spring festival dramatically represented this supposed 'resurrection' from the underworld.[6]

Thus, a terrible false religion developed with its sun and moon worship, priests, astrology, demonic worship, worship of stars associated with their gods, idolatry, mysterious rites, human sacrifice, and more. Frankly, the practices which went on were so horrible that it is not fitting for me to speak of them here.

It was at Nimrod's city of Babel that a towering structure was first built in defiance of God as part of their Satanic religion. Archaeological evidence indicates that this was a spectacular pyramid-shaped structure (ziggurat). The Bible tells us that at this time there was only one language in the world and that most of the world's population centered in this area and participated in this religion. It was evident to God that all mankind would soon degenerate into a level of evil that would parallel that of the pre-Flood world. For humanity's sake, something had to be done to slow and frustrate this organization of an evil one world, tyrannical government.

God confused their language, so that they could not understand each other (Genesis 11:7). (This is the ultimate source of the world's many languages.) As a result, many people moved away from the area in groups according to their particular new language. Most, if not all, of these people carried their evil Sun-God-based religion with them. They continued to worship the stars and practice all the other ungodly rituals of their religion. Some also continued to build pyramids reminiscent of the Tower of Babel as part of this mystery religion. Today, we can still find remnants of these throughout the world (e.g., Iraq, South America, Central America, Egypt, Burma).

Babel was the origin of an idolatrous system that swept the world. The Bible says of her, “Babylon… the nations drank her wine; Therefore the nations are deranged” (Jeremiah 51:7). The Bible often speaks of the Satanic religions which came from her. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus "witnessed the Mystery religion and its rites in numerous countries and mentions how Babylon was the primeval source from which ALL systems of idolatry flowed.[7] Austen Layard said “that we have the united testimony of sacred and profane history that idolatry originated in the area of Babylonia - the most ancient of religious systems.”[8]

Basically, almost every vile, profane and idolatrous practice you can think of originated at Babel with Queen Semiramis, the Mother Goddess and Nimrod. As the people scattered from Babel with their different languages, they, of course, used different names for Nimrod (Tammuz) and Semiramis. Some called the Mother Goddess “ISHTAR” (originally pronounced “Easter”).[9] In other lands, she was called Eostre, Astarte, Ostera, and Eastre. Other names for Semiramis, the Mother Goddess include: Wife of Baal, Ashtaroth or Ashtoreth, and Queen of Heaven.[10] The Mother goddess was frequently worshipped as the goddess of fertility - and as a sort of Mother Nature and goddess of Spring and sexual love and birth. She was also worshipped as a mediator between god and man. Sexual orgies and temple prostitutes were often used in her worship and in attempting to gain her favor.

The Easter Rabbit or Hare

Easter Bunny and EggsThe rabbit is well known as a sexual symbol of fertility. In various parts of the world, religions which developed from Babel also associate the rabbit with periodicity, both human and lunar (Egypt, China, etc.). As you may remember, the Mother Goddess Semiramis (Easter) is associated with the Moon. In other words, the Easter bunny symbolizes the Mother Goddess. Annual Spring time fertility rituals are associated worship of the Mother Goddess and Tammuz, the reincarnation of her husband Nimrod.

The Easter Egg

Most children and families who color or hide Easter eggs as part of their Resurrection Sunday tradition have no knowledge of the origin of these traditions. Easter egg activities have become a part of Western culture. Many would be surprised and even dismayed to learn where the traditions originated.

“The egg was a sacred symbol among the Babylonians. They believed an old fable about an egg of wondrous size which was supposed to have fallen from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvelous egg - according to the ancient story - the Goddess Astarte (Easter) [Semiramis], was hatched. And so the egg came to symbolize the Goddess Easter.”[11]

The idea of a mystic egg spread from Babylon to many parts of the world.[12] In Rome, the mystic egg preceded processions in honor of the Mother Goddess Roman. The egg was part of the sacred ceremonies of the Mysteries of Bacchus. The Druids used the egg as their sacred emblem. In Northern Europe, China and Japan the eggs were colored for their sacred festivals.[13]

The egg was also a symbol of fertility; Semiramis (Easter) was the goddess of Fertility. The Easter egg is a symbol of the pagan Mother Goddess, and it even bears one of her names.

Summary and Conclusion

“Easter” is simply one of the names of a woman who mightily deceived the world and whose religion has caused untold suffering and misery.[14] She was clearly an enemy of Christianity, and her son Tammuz was an anti-Christ, a false messiah that ultimately deceived millions.

If you are Christian, it is not difficult to discern the bizarre deception and confusion that Satan has successfully orchestrated. For example, notice the embarrassing irony in these traditions which are practiced innocently by most people. They are repeated year after year, because they have become traditional and their origin is unknown to many.

* On the day commemorating Christ's resurrection, Americans roll decorated eggs on the White House lawn and pretend the Easter rabbit hid them. The same ritual is practiced at some Christian churches.

* “In Lancashire [England] on Easter eve boys and men have been in the habit of touring the towns and villages as 'Pace-eggers' begging for eggs before performing the 'Pace-Egging' or Pasch (i.e., Easter) play.”[15]

* In Greece each person in a group bangs his red EASTER EGG [not knowing that it is symbol of the Goddess] against the eggs of all the others present in turn, saying 'Christ is risen,' and receives the reply 'He is risen indeed.'"[16]

The seductive symbols of ancient ungodly religions inspired by Satan have been incorporated into people's everyday lives, even to this day - continuing to obscure the truth of God .

One might wonder if there is a better way for Christians to celebrate Jesus Christ's resurrection, the most important of all Christian holy days. In retrospect, it seems obvious that it would have been a better witness to the world if Christians had not attempted to “Christianize” pagan celebrations - adopting the name “Easter” (Ishtar/Semiramis) in remembrance of Christ. Jesus has been obscured by painted eggs and bunnies. Attention has been shifted away from spiritual truth and toward materialism (clothing, products and candies with the wrong symbolism). Stores merchandise the name of Easter (not “Resurrection Sunday”) and sell goods that have nothing to do with Christ's death and resurrection. Christians naively use symbols and practices that unknowingly perpetuate ancient anti-Christ traditions - symbolic customs followed by the same religious cults that inspired the destruction of great numbers of Christians and Jews. Is the Devil laughing at us?

Many church bodies recognize the problem and make every effort to keep the focus of Resurrection Sunday totally on Jesus Christ and the Good News that He brought.


Dark ages and the Enlightenment


The de-Christianization of France during the French Revolution.  The program of dechristianisation waged against Catholicism, and eventually against all forms of Christianity, included:

  • removal of statues, plates and other iconography from places of worship

    destruction of crosses, bells and other external signs of worship

    the institution of revolutionary and civic cults, including the Cult of Reason and subsequently the Cult of the Supreme Being,

    the enactment of a law on October 21, 1793 making all nonjuring priests and all persons who harboured them liable to death on sight.
  •  


The climax was reached with the celebration of the Goddess "Reason" in Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 November, 1793.

From a scholarly point of view the dechristianization campaign can be seen as the logical extension of the materialist philosophy of some sectors of the enlightenment, while from a popular point of view it was an opportunity for those who had resentments against the post Tridentine clergy.
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The so-called "Enlightenment", was "conceived initially as a propaganda ploy by militant athesists and humanists who attempted to claim credit for the rise of science.  The falsehood that science required the defeat of religion was proclaimed by such self-appointed cheerleaders as Voltaire, Diederot, and Gibbon, who themselves played no part in the scientific enterprise."
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“…vigorous efforts by sixteenth century popes to halt slavery were effectively “lost” from the record until the last decade or so…
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“As to the cause of the “Dark Ages”, ever since the start of the eighteenth century, Historians have proposed Christianity as the reason.  The truth is there were no “Dark Ages”.  It was an invention of anti-religious historians of the time.  Today the term is no longer used by credible historians…”
_________________________________________________________


"So, then why didn’t we know that they knew the earth was round?  For the same reason that White’s [Andrew Dickson White] book remains influential despite the fact that modern historians of science dismiss it as nothing more than a polemic.  White himself admitted that he wrote the story just to get even with Christian critics of his plans for Cornell.  As will be seen many of White’s other accounts are as bogus as his report of Columbus and the flat earth...Historians of science have been proving this point for at least 70 years (most recently Edward Grant, David Lindberg, Daniel Woodward, and Robert S. Westman), without making notable headway against the error. Schoolchildren in the US, Europe, and Japan are for the most part being taught the same old nonsense...."
_________________________________________________________

The identification of the era beginning in about 1600 as the "Enlightenment" is as inappropriate as the identification of the millenium before it as the "Dark Ages".  And both imputations were made by the same people - intellectuals who wished to discredit religion and especially the Roman Catholic Church and who therefore associated faith with "darkness" and secular humanism with "light".  To these ends they sought credit for the "Scientific Revolution" (another of their concepts), even though none of them played any role in the scientific enterprise.

One of the first steps in this effort was to designate their own era as the "Enlightenment" and to claim that it was a sudden and complete disjuncture with the past.  To this end, the "Dark Ages" were invented.  Among the very first to do so, Voltaire (1694-1778) described medieval Europe as hopelessly mored in "decay and degredation" (Works 1:23).  This became the universal theme.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) wrote of previous centuries:  "Europe had relapsed into the barbarism of the earliest ages.  The peoples of this world, so enlightened today, lived some centuries ago in a condition worse than ignorance" (Rousseau, Works 3:183).  A century later when Jacob Burckhardt (who was also the first to claim, falsely, that Constantine's conversion was insincere) popularized the idea of the "Renaissance", the "Dark Ages" were a historical certitude, not to be shaken until the late 20th century."
_________________________________________________________

"Immanuel Kant and Voltaire were two Enlightenment writers who were vocal in attacking the religiously dominated Middle Ages as a period of social decline. Many modern negative conceptions of the age come from Enlightenment authors."
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"The second phase of this campaign was to virtually deify Isaac Newton's science, while simultaneously obscuring or downplaying Newton's religious convictions after his death in 1727.  One specific example of this (perpetrated by Jean Baptiste Biot - 1774-1862) was to discredit Newton's addition in 1713 of the General Scholium (basically an argument for the existence of God) to his moumental Principia as the work of an aging mind of "diminished intellectual acuity" [In Brewster, 1871:242-5].  Indeed, Newton's "Bentley Letters" were, without any legitimate grounds to do so, redated to 1713 to make them appear as though they were the work of a dottering old man - even though Newton wrote them in 1692.  Biot dismissed everything Newton wrote past age 45 as the "fantasies of an aging man...in mental decline."  [Ibid:206; Manuel, 1968, 1974].
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"Voltaire distrusted democracy, which he saw as propagating the idiocy of the masses.  To Voltaire, only an enlightened monarch or an enlightened absolutist, advised by philosophers like himself, could bring about change as it was in the king's rational interest to improve the power and wealth of his subjects and kingdom. Voltaire essentially believed enlightened despotism to be the key to progress and change."
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"I am still amazed at where it first appears [the myth of the flat-earth]. No one before the 1830s believed that medieval people thought that the earth was flat. The idea was established, almost contemporaneously, by a Frenchman and an American (Washington Irving), between whom I have not been able to establish a connection, though they were both in Paris at the same time. One was Antoine-Jean Letronne (1787-1848), an academic of strong antireligious prejudices who had studied both geography and patristics and who cleverly drew upon both to misrepresent the church fathers and their medieval successors as believing in a flat earth, in his "On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers" (1834).
_________________________________________________________

In the two thousand years of the Christian faith, about 70 million believers have been killed for their faith, of whom 45.5 million or 65% were in the twentieth century - by anti-religious ideologies.


Angels Fall First

 

 

   
My mood: very loved

I was right

 And now I can't sleep!

I just feel like every nerve, every sense is being stretched out! Maybe it won't be as bad in the windy city since I won't actually be staying downtown. 

*glares at clock* I have to get up in... just under 5 hours...

My mood: a bit hopeful

Cities!!

 "Cities always teem with evil and decay! Lets give it a good shake and SEE WHAT FALLS OUT!!!"

 

Yeah, so I came up to the city... Indianapolis. For those of you that don't know, I live in what has to be the smallest town in the midwest - population 12 + cats and dogs. Indianapolis has a population over 2 million. I just saw a huge thing out the window, right downtown! 10 police cars raced up to a building and lined the street, lights flashing! There was some huge crime going on there! And tomorrow I am going up to Chicago, which is like 5 times bigger! I can't wait to get back out to the country on Friday! So much negative energy, temptetion, demonic attachments... I think I will be exhausted just from the continuous shielding!

My mood: a bit hopeful

Hospital visit

Some of you know about this already, but I felt the need to share with all my ep friends.

 

Two nights ago, I found a strange shampoo bottle, half empty, on a back shelf. I thought I would simply use it, to get rid of it. Within a half an hour of getting out, I was very itchy - hands, feet, head. The itching spread, and I noticed in the mirror that I was covered in red dots. I found that I was covered head to toe. The itching, I thought, would drive me mad! I took some benadryl to no effect. I realized I would have to call an ambulance because I was having a severe allergic reaction. I have an inhaler for my cigarette smoke allergy, which I used to prevent breathing difficulty. At the hospital, they immediately gave me three shots. One was adrenaline, then an antihistamine, and finally a steroid. They monitored me for a while, in case I reacted bad to the cocktail of drugs - that mixture can be hard on the heart. Now I am taking the steroid pills and benadryl a few times a day - for about the next week. And this has me very out of it... hopefully I will be back to normal soon.


Iris

 

This song brings tears to my eyes....

 

And I'd give up forever to touch you
Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't want to go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
Cause sooner or later it's over
I just don't want to miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything seems like the movies
Yeah you bleed just to know your alive

And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am


Infected

I still wonder when the medicine will take it's effect.
And the injection they made, it's all just left me the same.
I'ts hard to concentrate with echos of your voice in my head.
From all you said, im still paralyzed.

But I'm almost out of breath from saying things that I'll regret, that I'll regret.
My time is over
I can't do this alone.
But I'm almost out of breath from saying things that I'll regret, that I'll regret.
My time is over
I can't do this alone.

I'm infected with you, pull the plug already.
Tell me before I go that you're infected with me.
I'm infected with you, pull the plug already.
Tell me before I go that you're infected with me.

I can't remember if I ever took a minute to say
That if it had to be now, I'm glad it had to be me.
I can't recuperate, I'm never going to leave here alive.
Just help me through this
Don't let me die here.

But I'm almost out of breath from saying things that I'll regret, that I'll regret.
My time is over
I can't do this alone.
But I'm almost out of breath from saying things that I'll regret, that I'll regret.
My time is over
I can't do this alone.

I'm infected with you, pull the plug already.
Tell me before I go that you're infected with me.
I'm infected with you, pull the plug already.
Tell me before I go that you're infected with me.

I'm killing time just trying to find the words that fall so short of you.
I'm losing sleep, I can't compete, I'm giving up
I can't do this alone. (4x)
NO!


Friends

Wow, I already have made some good friends here on ep! I was worried this would be like other sites I have been too, but it's not. Thank you all for making me feel so welcome. I know it will be of so much help during this dark chapter in my life!


1-20 of 23 Blogs   

Previous Posts
An exorcism, explained, posted November 21st, 2012
the savior myth, posted February 1st, 2012, 1 comment
Absolute truth and judgement, posted January 4th, 2012, 5 comments
The Truth About Christmas, posted December 1st, 2011, 2 comments
The true nature of angels, posted November 2nd, 2011, 4 comments
100 reasons..., posted August 21st, 2011
Joe Bob Parties With the Atheists, posted August 20th, 2011, 1 comment
The hunter's code for psychic and spiritual warfare archive 2, posted August 3rd, 2011
Thank you friends!, posted August 2nd, 2011
Internet harassment, keeping a record, posted July 31st, 2011, 1 comment
Hunter's Code archive, posted July 30th, 2011
The truth about Easter, posted March 27th, 2010, 4 comments
Dark ages and the Enlightenment, posted November 10th, 2009, 8 comments
Angels Fall First, posted September 25th, 2009
I was right, posted September 13th, 2009
Cities!!, posted September 12th, 2009
Hospital visit, posted September 2nd, 2009, 2 comments
Iris, posted August 15th, 2009, 1 comment
Infected, posted August 15th, 2009
Friends, posted August 13th, 2009
On Angels and Demons / Spiritual warfare / The spirit world, posted August 11th, 2009, 4 comments
Scientific proof - against evolution - and for God, posted August 11th, 2009, 9 comments
The philisophical proof God exists, posted August 11th, 2009

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