For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
"THERE are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one." (i John v. 7.) This text, which evidently discloses a belief in the existence of three separate and distinct beings in the Godhead, sets forth a doctrine which was anciently of almost universal prevalence. Nearly every nation, whether oriental or occidental, whose religious faith has been commemorated in history, discloses in its creed a belief in the trifold nature and triune division of the Deity. St. Jerome testifies unequivocally, "All the ancient nations believed in the Trinity.
And a volume of facts and figures might be cited here, if we had space for them, in proof of this statement.
A text from one of the Hindoo bibles, (the Puranas) will evince the antiquity and prevalence of this belief in a nation of one hundred and fifty millions of people more than two thousand years ago. "O you three Lords!" ejaculated Attencion, "know that I recognize only one God. Inform me, therefore, which of you is the true divinity that I may address to him alone my vows and adorations. The three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, becoming manifest to him, replied, "Learn, O devotee, that there is no real distinction between us. What to you appears such is only by semblance. The single being appears under three forms by the acts of creation, preservation and destruction, but he is one."
Now, reader, note the remark here, that the ancient Christian fathers almost universally and unanimously proclaimed the doctrine of the Trinity as one of the leading tenets of the Christian faith, and as a doctrine derived directly by revelation from heaven. But here we find it most explicitly set forth by a disciple of a pagan religion more than three thousand years ago, as the Christian missionary D.O. Allen states, that the Hindoo bible, in which it was found was compiled fourteen hundred years before Christ, and written at a still earlier period. And we find the same doctrine very explicitly taught in the ancient Brahmin, Persian, Chaldean, Chinese, Mexican and Grecian systems -- all much older than Christianity.
No writer ever taught or avowed a belief in any tenet of religious faith more fully or plainly than Plato sets forth the doctrine of the Trinity in his Plaedon, written four hundred years B.C. And his terms are found to be in most striking conformity to the Christian doctrine on this subject, as taught in the New Testament. Plato's first term for the Trinity was in Greek -- 1. To Agathon, the supreme God or Father. 2. The Logos, which is the Greek term for the Word. And, 3. Psyche, which the Greek Lexicon defines to mean "soul, spirit or ghost" -- of course, the Holy Ghost. Here we have the three terms of the Christian Trinity, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost, as plainly taught as language can express it, thus making Plato's exposition of the Trinity and definition of its terms, published four hundred years B.C., identical in meaning with those of St. John's, as found in his Gospel, and contained in the above quoted text. Where, then, is the foundation for the dogmatic claim on the part of the Christian professors for the divine origin of the Trinity doctrine?
We will here cite the testimony of some Christian writers to prove that the Trinity is a pagan-derived doctrine. A Christian bishop, Mr. Powell, declares, "I not only confess but I maintain, such a similitude of Plato's and John's Trinity doctrines as bespeaks a common origin." (Thirteenth letter to Dr. Priestley.) What is that you say, bishop? "A common origin." Then you concede both are heaven-derived, or both heathen-derived. If the former, then revelation and heathenism are synonymous terms. If the latter, then Christianity stands on a level with heathen mythology. Which horn of the dilemma will you choose? St. Augustine confessed he found the beginning of John's Gospel in Plato's Phaedon, which is a concession of the whole ground.
Another writer, Chataubron, speaks of an ancient Greek inscription on the great obelisk at Rome, which reads -- "1. The Mighty God. 2. The Begotten of God (as Christ is declared to be "the only begotten of the Father" (John i. 14.). And, 3. "Apollo the Spirit" -- the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost -- thus presenting in plain language the three terms of the Trinity. And Mr. Cudworth, in corroboration of this report, says, "The Greeks had a first God, and second God, and third God, and the second was begotten by the first. And yet for all that," continues Mr. Cudworth, "they considered all these one."
In the Platonic or Grecian Trinity, the first person was considered the planner of the work of creation, the second person the creator, and the third person the ghost or spirit which moved upon the face of the waters, and infused life into the mighty deep at creation -- the same Holy Ghost which descended from heaven to infuse life into the waters at Christ's baptism; thus, the resemblance is complete. Mr. Basnage quotes a Christian writer of the fifth century as declaring, "The Athenian sage Plato marvelously anticipated one of the most important and mysterious doctrines of the Christian religion" -- meaning the Trinity -- an important concession truly.
The oldest and probably the original form of the Trinity is that found in the Brahmin and Hindoo systems -- the terms of which are -- 1. Brahma, the Father or supreme God. 2. Vishnu, the incarnate Word and Creator. 3. Siva, the Spirit of God, i.e., the Holy Spirit or Ghost -- each answering to corresponding terms of the Christian Trinity, and yet two thousand years older, according to Dr. Smith.
We have not allowable space for other facts and citations (as this work is designed as a mere epitome), although we have but entered upon the threshold of the evidence tending to prove that the Christian Trinity was born of heathen parents, that it is an offspring of heathen mythology, like other doctrines of the Christian faith, claimed by its disciples as the gift of divine revelation.
Here let it be noted as a curious chapter in sacred history that the numerous divine Trinities which have constituted a part of nearly every religious system ever propagated to the world were composed, in every case, of male Gods. No female has ever yet been admitted into the triad of Gods composing the orthodox Trinity. Every member of the Trinity in every case is a male, and an old bachelor -- a doctrine most flagrantly at war with the principles of modern philosophy.
For this science teaches us that the endowment of a being with either male or female organs, presupposes the existence of the other sex; and that either sex, without the other would be a ludicrous anomaly, and a ludicrous distortion of nature unparalleled in the history of science. As sexual organs create an imperious desire for the other sex, no male or female could long enjoy full happiness in the absence of the other party. What an unhappy, lonesome place, therefore, the orthodox heaven must have been, during the eternity of the past, with no society but old bachelors! The Trinity was constituted of Males simply because woman has always been considered a mere cipher in society -- a mere tool for man's convenience, an appendage to his wants. Hence, instead of having a place among the Gods she led the practical life of a servant and a menial, which accounts for her exclusion from the Trinity. But the time is coming when she will rule both heaven and earth with the omnipotent power of her love nature. Then we shall have no "war in heaven," and no fighting on earth.