For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
FRIENDS and brethren — teachers of the Christian faith: Will you believe us when we tell you the divine claims of your religion are gone — all swept away by the “logic of history,” and nullified by the demonstrations of science?
The recently opened fountains of historic law, many of whose potent facts will be found interspersed through the pages of this work, sweep away the last inch of ground on which can be predicated the least show for either the divine origin of the Christian religion, or the divinity of Jesus Christ.
For these facts demonstrate beyond all cavil and criticism, and with a logical force which can leave not the vestige of a doubt upon any unbiased mind, that all its doctrines are an outgrowth from older heathen systems. Several systems of religion essentially the same in character and spirit as that religion now known as Christianity, and setting forth the same doctrines, principles and precepts, and several personages filling a chapter in history almost identical with that of Jesus Christ, it is now known to those who are up with the discoveries and intelligence of the age, were venerated in the East centuries before a religion called Christian, or a personage called Jesus Christ were known to history.
Will you not, then, give it up that your religion is merely a human production, reconstructed from heathen materials — from oriental systems several thousand years older than yours — or will you continue, in spite of the unanimous and unalterable verdict of history, science, facts and logic, to proclaim to the world the now historically demonstrated error which you have so long preached, that God is the author of your religion, and Jesus Christ a Deity- begotten Messiah? Though you may have heretofore honestly believed these doctrines to be true, you can now no longer plead ignorance as an excuse for propagating such gigantic and serious errors, as they are now overwhelmingly demonstrated by a thousand facts of history to be untrue. You must abandon such exalted claims for your religion, or posterity will mark you as being “blind leaders of the blind.” They will heap upon your honored names their unmitigated ridicule and condemnation. They will charge you as being either deplorably ignorant, or disloyal to the cause of truth. And shame and ignominy will be your portion.
The following propositions (fatal to your claims for Christianity) are established beyond confutation by the historical facts cited in this work, viz: —
- There were many cases of the miraculous birth of Gods reported in history before the case of Jesus Christ.
- Also many other cases of Gods being born of virgin mothers.
- Many of these Gods, like Christ, were (reputedly) born on the 25th of December.
- Their advent into the world, like that of Jesus Christ, is in many cases claimed to have been foretold by “inspired prophets.”
- Stars figured at the birth of several of them, as in the case of Christ.
- Also angels, shepherds, and magi, or “wise men.”
- Many of them, like Christ, were claimed to be of royal or princely descent.
- Their lives, like his, were also threatened in infancy by the ruler of the country.
- Several of them, like him, gave early proof of divinity.
- And, like him, retired from the world and fasted.
- Also, like him, declared, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
- Some of them preached a spiritual religion, too, like his.
- And were “anointed with oil,” like him.
- Many of them, like him, were “crucified for the sins of the world.”
- And after three days’ interment “rose from the dead.”
- And, finally, like him, are reported as ascending back to heaven.
- The same violent convulsions of nature at the crucifixion of several are reported.
- They were nearly all called “Saviors,” “Son of God.” “Messiah,” “Redeemer,” “Lord,” &c.
- Each one was the second member of the trinity of “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”
- The doctrines of “Original Sin,” “Fall of Man,” “The Atonement,” “The Trinity,” “The Word,” “Forgiveness,” “An Angry God.” “Future Endless Punishment,” etc., etc. (see the author’s “Biography of Satan,”) were a part of the religion of each of these sin-atoning Gods, as found set forth in several oriental bibles and holy books,” similar in character and spirit to the Christian’s bible, and written, like it, by “inspired and holy men” before the time of either Christ or Moses (before Moses, in some cases, at least). All these doctrines and declarations, and many others not here enumerated, the historical citations of this work abundantly prove, were taught in various oriental heathen nations centuries before the birth of Christ, or before Christianity, as a religion, was known in the world.
Will you, then, after learning these facts, longer dare assert that Christianity is of divine emanation, or claim a special divine paternity for its author. Only the priest, who loves his salary more than the cause of truth (and I fear this class are numerous,) or who is deplorably ignorant of history will have the effrontery or audacity to do so. For the historical facts herein set forth as clearly prove such assumptions to be false, as figures can demonstrate the truth of any mathematical problem. And no logic can overthrow, and no sophistry can set aside these facts.
They will stand till the end of time in spite of your efforts either to evade, ignore, or invalidate them.
We will here briefly state —
WHY ALL THE ANCIENT RELIGIONS WERE ALIKE.
Two causes are obviously assignable for Christianity in all its essential features and phases, being so strikingly similar to the ancient pagan systems which preceded it, as also the close analogies of all the principal systems, whose doctrines and practical teachings have found a place on the pages of history.
- The primary and constituent elements and properties of human nature being essentially the same in all countries and all centuries, and the feeling called Religion being a spontaneous outgrowth of the devotional elements of the human mind, the coincidence would naturally produce similar feelings, similar thoughts, similar views and similar doctrines on the ‘subject of religion in different countries, however widely separated. This accounts in part for the analogous features observable in all the primary systems of religious faith, which have flourished in the past ages.
- A more potent cause, however, for the proximate identity extending to such an elaborate detail, as is evinced by the foregoing schedule, is found in the historical incident which brought the disciples of the various systems of worship together, face to face, in the then grand religious emporium of the world — the royal and renowned city of Alexandria, the capital of Egypt. Here, drawn together by various motives and influences, the devotee of India (the devout disciple of Buddhism), the ever-prayerful worshipper of “Mithra, the Mediator,” the representatives of the crucified Quexalcoate of Mexico, the self-denying Essene, the superstitious Egyptian, the godly Chaldean, the imitative Judean founders of Christianity, and the disciples of other sin-atoning Gods, met and interchanged ideas, discussed their various dogmas, remolded their doctrines, and recast and rehabilitated their systems of religious faith by borrowing from each other, and from other systems there represented. In this way all became remarkably similar and alike in all their doctrines and details. And thus the mystery is solved, and the singular resemblance of all the ancient systems of religion satisfactorily accounted for. (For a fuller explanation of this matter, see Chapters XXX and XXXI of this work.)
In conclusion, please note the following points: —
- The religious conceptions of the Old Testament are as easily traced to heathen sources as those of the New Testament. But we are compelled to exclude such an exposition from this work.
- The comparative exhibition of the doctrines and teachings of twenty bibles which proves them to be in their leading features essentially alike (originally designed for this volume), is found to be, when completed, of sufficient magnitude to constitute a volume of itself.
- Here I desire to impress upon the minds of my clerical brethren the important fact, that the gospel histories of Christ were written by men who had formerly been Jews (see Acts xxi. 20), and probably possessing the strong proclivity to imitate and borrow which their bible shows was characteristic of that nation; and being written many years after Christ’s death, according to that standard Christian author, Dr. Lardner, it was impossible, under such circumstances, for them to separate (if they had desired to) the real facts and events of his life from the innumerable fictions and fables then afloat everywhere relative to the heathen Gods who had pre-enacted a similar history. Two reasons are thus furnished for their constructing a history of Christ almost identical with that of other Gods, as shown in chapters XXX, XXXI and XXXII of this work.
- The singular and senseless defense of your now tottering system we have known to be attempted by members of your order, by the self-complacent soliloquy “Christianity, whether divine or human, is good enough for me.” But such a subterfuge betrays both a weak mind and a weak cause. The disciples of all the oriental systems cherished a similar feeling and a similar sentiment. And the deluded followers of Brigham Young exclaimed in like manner, “I want nothing better than Mormonism.” “Snakes, lizards and frogs are good enough for me,” a South Sea Islander once exclaimed to a missionary, when a reform diet was proposed. Such logic, if universally adopted, would keep the world eternally in barbarism. No progress can be made where such sentiments prevail. The truth is, no system of religion, whatever its ostensible marks of perfection, can long remain “good enough” for aspiring and progressive minds, unless occasionally improved, like other institutions. And then it should be borne in mind, that our controversy does not appertain so much to the character as to the origin of the Christian religion. Our many incontrovertible proofs, that it is of human and heathen origin, proves at the same time that it is an imperfect system, and as such, needing occasional improvement, like other institutions. And its assumed perfection and divine origin which have always guarded it from improvement, amply accounts for its present corrupt, immoral, declining and dying condition. And it will ere long die with paralysis, unless its assumption of divine perfection is soon exchanged for the principles of improvement and reconstruction. This policy alone can save it.
- We will here notice another feeble, futile and foolish expedient we have known resorted to by persons of your order to save your sinking cause when the evidence is presented with such cogency as to admit of no disproof, that all the important doctrines of Christianity were taught by older heathen systems before the era of Christ. The plea is, that those systems were mere types, or ante-types, of the Christian religion. But this plea is of itself a borrowed subterfuge of heathenism, and is moreover devoid of evidence. The ancient Egyptians, also the Greeks, claimed that Brahminism was a type, or ante-type, of their religious systems. And Mohammedans now claim that both Judaism and Christianity were designed by God as foreshadowing types of religion of the Koran. And the disciples of more than a thousand systems of religion which have flourished in past ages, could have made such logic equally available in showing, in each case, that every system preceding theirs was designed by Infinite Wisdom as simply a typical or ante-typical forerunner of theirs. How ridiculous and senseless, therefore, is the argument thus shown to be when critically examined in the light of history! So much so as scarcely to merit a serious notice.
- Here permit us to say that we believe Christianity to be not only of human origin, but of natural origin also; that is, a natural outgrowth, like other systems, of the religious elements of the human mind — a hypothesis which accounts most beautifully for the numerous human imperfections now visible in nearly every line of its teachings. Those imperfections correspond exactly to the imperfect minds which produced it.
- And we believe that the principle teacher of Christianity, “the man Christ Jesus,” possessed a very exalted and superior mind for that age in the moral and religions departments, and in the intellectual to some extent also. But his superiority in these respects was not probably greater than that of Zera Colburn or Henry Safford in the mathematical department. And all probably derived their peculiar extraordinary traits of mind from the same causes — that of strong psychological influence impressed upon the mind of the mothers prior to their births. Had these ante-natal influences been as well understood then as now, we presume Christ would have escaped the fate of an exaltation to the Godhead.
- In conclusion, permit us to say that the numerous and overwhelming facts of this work render it utterly impossible that the exalted claims you put forth for your religion and its assumed author (that of a divine character) can be true. And posterity will so decide, whether you do or not.
Cherishing for you naught but feelings of kindness and brotherly love, and desiring to promote the truth, we will answer any question, or discuss any proposition embraced in this work you may desire.