For more information, see: Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier
IMPORTANT FACTS CONSTITUTING THE BASIS OF THIS WORK.
IGNORANCE of science and ignorance of history are the two great bulwarks of religious error. There is scarcely a tenet of religious faith now propagated to the world by the professed disciples of Christ but that, if subjected to a rigid test in the ordeal of modern science, would be found to contain more or less error. Vast acquisitions have been made in the fields of science and history within the last half century, the moral lessons of which have done much to undermine and unsettle our popular system of religious faith, and to bring into disrepute or effectually change many of its long-cherished dogmas. The scientific and historical facts thus brought before the intelligent public, have served as keys for explaining many of the doctrines comprised in the popular creed. They have poured a flood of light upon our whole system of religion as now taught by its popular representatives, which have had the effect to reveal many of its errors to those who have had the temerity, or the curiosity, to investigate it upon these grounds. Many of the doctrines and miraculous events which have always been assigned a divine emanation by the disciples of the Christian faith, are, by these scientific and historical disclosures, shown to be explainable upon natural grounds, and to have exclusively a natural basis. Some of them are shown to be solvable by recently developed 'spiritual laws,' while others are proven to be founded wholly in error. The intelligent community are now acquainted with many of these important facts, so that no man of science can be found in this enlightened age who can popularly be termed a Christian. No man can be found in any Christian country who has the established reputation of being a man of science, or who has made any proficiency in the whole curriculum of the sciences, whose creed, when examined by an orthodox committee, would not be pronounced unsound. It is true that many of the scientific class, not possessing the conviction that duty imposes the moral necessity of making living martyrs of themselves, have refrained from fully avowing or disclosing to the public their real convictions of the popular faith.
The changes and improvements in religious ideas now observant in the most intelligent portion of the community, are due in part to the rapid progress of scientific discovery and the dissemination of scientific knowledge in Christian countries. The explorer in the field of religious history, however, comes in here for his meed of praise. New stores of historic facts and data may be reckoned among the recent acquisitions of the laborious archeologist; new fountains of religions history have recently been unsealed, which have had the effect to reveal many errors and false claims set up for the current religion of Christendom -- a religion long regarded as settled and stereotyped. For many centuries subsequent to the establishment of the Christian religion, but little was known by its disciples of the character, claims and doctrines of the oriental systems of worship. These religions, in fact, were scarcely known to exist, because they had long been veiled in secrecy. They were found, in some cases, enshrined in religious books printed or written in a language so very ancient and obscure, as to bid defiance for centuries to the labors of the most indefatigable, profound and erudite archeological scholar to decipher it. That obstacle is now partially surmounted.
The recent translation for the first time of the Hindoo Vedas into the English language (the oldest bible now extant or ever written) has revealed to the unwelcome gaze of the Christian reader the startling fact that "the heathen" had long been in possession of "holy books," possessing essentially the same character, and teaching essentially the same doctrines as the Christian bible -- there being, as Horace Greeley expressed it, "No doctrine of Christianity but what has been anticipated by the Vedas." (See Vol. II., Chap. I, of this work.)
If, then, this heathen bible (compiled, according to the Christian missionary, Rev. D.G. Allen, 1400 B.C.), contains all the doctrines of Christianity, then away goes over the dam all claim for the Christian bible as an original bible as an original revelation, or a work of divine inspiration.
Bibles are thus shown to be of heathen and human origin, instead of heavenly and divine authorship, as claimed for them by their respective disciples -- the Christian bible forming no exception to this statement. The latter, being essentially like other bibles, it must, of course, have had the same or a similar origin -- a fact which, though it may be new and startling to millions, will be universally accepted as truth before the lapse of many generations, and a fact which confronts with open denial the claims of two hundred millions of Christian professors, who assert with unscrupulous boldness that every doctrine, principle and precept of their bible is of divine emanation.
How utterly groundless and untenable is such a claim when arranged by the side of modern discoveries in religious history!
Equally unsupportable is the declaration that "there is no other name given under heaven whereby men can be saved, than that of Jesus Christ and him crucified," when viewed in the light of the modern explorations of Sir Godfrey Higgins, which have disclosed the history of nearly a score of crucified Gods and sin-atoning Saviors, who, we have equal proof, died for the sins of mankind.
Thus, the two prime articles of the Christian faith -- Revelation and Crucifixion -- are forever established as human and heathen conceptions. And the hope might be reasonably entertained that the important historical facts disclosed in this work will have the effect to open the eyes of the professors or the Christian religion to see their serious error in putting forth such exalted claims for their bible and their religion as that of being perfect products of infinite wisdom, did not the past history of all religious countries furnish sad proof that reason and logic, and even the most cogent and convincing facts of science and history often prove powerless when arrayed against a religious conviction, enstamped upon the mind for thousands of years in the past, and transmitted from parent to child until it has grown to a colossal stature, and become a part of the living tissues of the soul.
No matter how glaringly absurd, how palpably erroneous, or how demonstrably false an opinion or doctrine is shown to be, they cannot see it, but will still continue to hug it to their bosoms as a divinely-revealed truth. No facts or evidence can prove an overmatch for the inherited convictions of a thousand generations. In this respect the Mohammed, the Hindu and the Christian all stand upon a level. It is about as easy to convince one as the other of their easily demonstrated errors.
RELIGION OF NATURAL ORIGIN.Among the numerous errors traceable in the history of every religious sect, commemorated in the annals of the world, none possesses a more serious character, or has been attended with more deplorable consequences, than that of assigning a wrong origin to religion. Every bible, every sect, every creed, every catechism, and every orthodox sermon teaches that "religion is the gift of God," that "it is infused into the soul by the spirit and power of the Lord." Never was a greater mistake ever committed. Every student of anthropology, every person who has read any of the numerous modern works on mental science, and tested their easily- demonstrated facts, knows that religion is of natural and not supernatural origin; that it is a natural element of the human mind, and not a "direct gift from God;" that it grows as spontaneously out of the soul as flowers spring out of the ground. It is as natural as eating, sleeping or breathing. This conclusion is not the offspring of mere imagination. It is no hastily- concocted theory, but an oft-demonstrated and scientifically- established fact, which any person can test the truth of for himself.
And this modern discovery will, at no distant day, revolutionize all systems of religious faith in existence, and either dissolve and dissipate them, or modify and establish them upon a more natural and enduring basis, expurgated of their dogmatic errors.
Let us, then, labor to banish the wide-spread delusion believed and taught by a thousand systems of worship -- Jew, Pagan and Christian -- that "religion is of supernatural or divine origin," and the many ruinous errors; senseless dogmas and deplorable soul-crushing superstitions so thoroughly inwrought into the Christian system will vanish like fog before the morning sun, and be replaced by a religion which sensible, intelligent and scientific men and women can accept, and will delight to honor and practice.