For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
THERE is also a physiological principle (discovered by the author) comprised in the doctrine of the Divine Incarnation fatal in its practical and logical application to the divinity of Jesus Christ, and all the other incarnate or flesh-invested Gods of antiquity. It is evidently fraught with much logical force. It is based upon the law of mental and physical correspondence. As is the physical conformation, so is the mentality, is a law of analogy which pilots us to nearly all our practical knowledge of the natural world. A knowledge of either serves as an index to the other.
When we observe an animal possessing that physical form and construction peculiar to its species, we expect to find it practically exhibiting the nature, character, disposition, and habits peculiar to that class of animals. If it possesses, for example, the conformation of a sheep, we infer at once that it has the disposition of a sheep, and we are never disappointed in this conclusion. And when we encounter an animal with the tiger form, we expect to see exhibited the tiger spirit. If it possesses the well- known physical conformation of the tiger, we are never deceived or misled when we assign it a predatory disposition. If it is a tiger form, it is sure to be a tiger in character and habits. And so of all the genera and species of animals that range upon the face of the globe. We may travel through the whole field of animated nature, and observe the infallible operation of this beautiful law of correspondence till we come, however, to the crowning work of God, called Man. Here we find this law, this beautiful chain of analogy, broken by the doctrine of the “divine incarnation.” God becomes a man, at least is made to exhibit every external appearance of a man. All external distinction between God and man is thus obliterated. So that the very first being we meet in the street or on the highway possessing the form, size, and physical conformation of a man, and presenting every other external appearance of being a man, may nevertheless be a God. And no less is this objection practically exemplified, and not less is the infraction of this beautiful law of analogy observable in the case of Jesus Christ, than in the numerous other incarnate Gods and demigods of antiquity. Being in appearance a man, how was he to be, or how could he be, visually distinguished from a man? Or how could those men who were contemporary with him, know, as they approached him, or as they approached each other, whether they were meeting a man or a God? Seeing that “he was found in fashion as a man” (Phil. ii. 8), either he might be mistaken for a man, or they for a God. They were constantly liable to be confounded. If, then, the infinite deityship was lodged in the person of Jesus Christ, it is evident that that important fundamental law of nature — “as is the form, so is the character” — was utterly annulled, prostrated, annihilated, and banished from the world by the act. So that all was, and is henceforth and forever, chaos, confusion, and uncertainty. For if the principle can be violated in one instance, it may be in another, and in thousands of cases, ad infinitum. If one case could be allowed to occur, the principle is established, and nature’s universal chain of analogy is broken and destroyed; for to intercept the law is to “break the tenth and ten thousandth link alike.”
Hence it is evident that if a being resembling a man may be a God, an animal resembling a cow may be a horse, and yonder stick a poisonous adder; and fatal may be the consequences, in thousands of instances, in judging or inferring the nature and character of an animal by its form and size. A supposed innocent animal might be a deadly enemy, or vice versa. Can we then believe, or dare we believe, a doctrine so atheistical in its tendencies as that the Infinite Deity was incorporated in the person of the meek and lowly Jesus, when it would thus set at naught, violate, prostrate, and utterly cancel from the world one of God’s own fundamental laws, and one of the essential principles of natural science, and banish forever the coordinate harmony of the universe, and thus inaugurate a state of universal disorder, incertitude, anarchy, and misrule into the otherwise beautifully law-governed, well-regulated domain of nature? Certainly, most certainly not! If the incarnation of the Deity, should or could take place, there should be something strikingly peculiar, ay, infinitely peculiar, in his figure, size, and general appearance, in order to make him susceptible of being distinguished from the human. Otherwise, men would be liable to be constantly mistaking and worshiping each other for the Great Almighty and Ubiquitous God, and thus constantly blundering into idolatry. And we actually find several cases reported in the Scriptures (mark the fact well) of men, ay, the saints themselves, being led into this error; being led to commit “the high-handed sin of idolatry” in consequence of their previous acceptance of the belief in a man-God — that is, a God of human size and type. St. John, in two instances, was in the act of worshipping a being possessing the human form, whom he mistook for the omnipotent and omnipresent God. (See Rev. xix. 10, and xxii. 4.) Having, perhaps, been taught that “the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in Christ Jesus,” he probably mistook the being he met for Him, and hence offered to worship him. If, then, Christ’s own “inspired disciples” could thus be betrayed into “the sin of idolatry” by having abolished the infinite distinction between the divine and the human, we surely find here a very weighty argument against such a leveling and equalizing doctrine. And certainly nothing could be better calculated to promote “the sin of idolatry” than thus to obliterate the broad, the infinitely grand line of demarkation between the infinite God and his finite creature man. Indeed, may we not here find the very origin and the cause of the now general prevalence of idolatry in pagan countries? Is it not directly traceable to the demolition of the broad, high, and insurmountable wall of distinction which ought forever to stand between a God of infinite attributes, and a being caged up in the human form? Certainly, most certainly it is. Hence here I would ask, How can Christians, after subscribing to the doctrine, “that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in the man Christ Jesus” (as Paul very appropriately calls him), condemn the people of any age or nation for worshipping as God their fellow-beings — that is, beings with the human form? Certainly the man who could believe that the infinite God could be comprehended or incorporated in the person of Jesus, could easily be brought to believe that the Grand Lama of Tibet is a proper object of divine worship. He only lacks the substitution of names. Substitute the Grand Lama for that of Jesus Christ, and the thing is done. And idolatry thus becomes an easily established institution, and its abolition in any country an absolute moral impossibility.