This is Lee Carter speaking for Atheists United. During this time of year the American
people are assaulted with a more massive barrage of lies than they are throughout the
entire remainder of the year. Again and again you'll be told that Christmas is "really" a
birthday party for Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger in the little town of
Bethlehem nineteen hundred and eighty-three years ago. You'll be told that there were
four reporters from the news media, named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, assigned
to cover this event by Jehovah himself, who acted as their editor in chief. Furthermore,
they spent their entire lives following this man around, recording all his most important
words and actions. Just to make sure there were no factual errors, Jehovah personally
proof-read all their copy before allowing it to be published in his "Holy Bible." This was
accomplished through a mysterious process called "Divine Inspiration." Therefore,
every word they wrote is infallibly accurate.
These four stories are called the "gospels," which means the "Word of God." And they
tell how a man named "Jesus" was actually the son of a virgin named Mary, who had
been impregnated by Jehovah. Therefore, Jesus was half man and half god – which
made him the "Messiah," or "Christ," a divine King of the Jews. The arrival of Christ on
earth was supposed to be the next step in fulfillment of a cosmic plan that Jehovah had
in mind when he first created the universe. Part One of the plan is explained by Moses
and a group of prophets in a collection of books that are referred to today as the "Old
Testament." These were also "divinely inspired," and therefore infallible. In the Old
Testament, there were a number of prophesies that predicted the coming of Christ,
which would be Part Two of the plan. The four gospels, which form the nucleus of the
"New Testament," tell how Jesus, the Christ, articulated all the rules of behavior which
Jehovah wanted everybody in the world to follow. And finally, Christ volunteered to be a
human sacrifice, in order to save the immortal soul of everyone who believed in the
Divine Plan, and followed his teachings. According to the gospels, Christ was then
raised from the dead, after his crucifixion, in order to prove that he was, indeed, the
"Son of God." Part Three of the plan will be the return of Christ, which will then
transform the earth back into a paradise once again.
You'll be told that Christ had twelve disciples, some of whom were the actual authors of
the gospels, and that the others, particularly Peter, were the founders of the Christian
church. You'll be told that everything about Christianity is unique. Every word uttered by
Moses, the prophets, and Christ was original; and all the metaphysical doctrines and
customs followed by Christians today were handed down by God, as revealed for the
first time in the Holy Bible. Following the will of God, as revealed through the Bible, is
supposed to be the key to happiness and everything that's good and moral in the
world. All evil and immorality is the work of Satan, whom God created in order to give
man a choice between good and evil. And, just think! Phase Two of this strategic
campaign against the devil was launched a little after midnight on December 25th,
exactly nineteen-hundred and eighty-three years ago!
This is the basic Christian mythology which you'll hear repeated endlessly over the next
few weeks, and which President Reagan has even signed into law as the official
religion of the United States. Every word of this mythology is demonstrably false. And
last week I talked about how the festival that's now called "Christmas," actually
originated as a celebration of the winter solstice, and how it has existed in virtually all
cultures at all times. I also discussed how the present calendar got the way it is. So
today, I'd like to talk about the true origins of the Christian religion.
Man's desire to understand and control nature, plus the difficulty in separating fact from
fantasy has led virtually every culture to the conclusion that nature is controlled by
invisible spirits. The idea that there are good spirits and evil spirits which can be
controlled by prayer and sacrifice had existed from prehistoric times up until the 13th
In Egypt, there was a king named Pharaoh Amenhotep the Fourth, also known as
"Akhenaton." He was the first person in history to conceive of the idea that there was
only one god – “Aton" the sun god – also known as "Ra." And this one god was
responsible for everything that happened, both good and bad. Akhenaton devoted all
his energy into promoting monotheism, but it never caught on among the Egyptians.
They couldn't understand how a god could be both good and evil. But they did accept
his idea of a judgment-day after death, and a heaven and hell.
The only people who did accept Akhenaton's sun god as the only true god were a
group of Hebrew slaves who may or may not have been working on the pyramids or
other construction projects. They translated the name, "Ra" as "Yah," or "Yahweh."
When translated into Latin, it was pronounced Jehovah. When they finally escaped
from Egyptian control, they became a nomadic tribe wandering through the desert in
search of a homeland. During this time, the Jews came in contact with many other
tribes and cultures, and they began to assimilate their mythologies and customs into
The Babylonians had written two epic poems about how the world was created. These
poems were called "Gilgamesh" and "Atrahasis." The Jews revised and rewrote these
stories as the book of "Genesis."
In 1758 BCE, one of the Babylonian kings, named Hammurabi, had the laws of his
kingdom inscribed on a stone obelisk and set up in the city square. Part of the
inscription explained how these laws had been handed down from the sun-god. All of
the Ten Commandments were included in the Code of Hammurabi, plus many other
laws. The Jews also incorporated these laws into their holy writings. And between 900
and 100 BCE all the books of the Old Testament were written by various groups of
About 600 BCE, in what is now the country of Iran, there lived a man named Zoroaster,
or Zarathustra. He wrote a holy book called the "Avesta" in which he divided the Jeckle
and Hyde personalities of monotheism into two separate but equal gods. One was the
god of goodness and light, and the other was the god of evil and darkness. This
concept, called "dualism," is the origin of the Christian "Devil." Zarathustra said each
person had to make a decision about whether to follow the lord of goodness or the lord
of evil. He established a worldwide religion, called "Zoroastrianism," which still exists
today. Zoroastrian priests were called Magi, and they were said to perform miracles –
which is where the word "magic" comes from.
The Jews finally settled in the area around Jerusalem, where they built a great temple
to "Yah." But then came a series of invasions by Greeks, Syrians, and finally Romans.
Jewish prophets thought it was the end of the world. What particularly annoyed them
was seeing their own people adopting foreign customs. The Hebrew word for enemy
was "satan." "devil" comes from "diaballen," which means to oppose, accuse, or
slander. So during the various occupations, "satans," and "devils" were everywhere.
Prophets began writing "apocalyptic" books. These were books about the end of the
world, and how a great king, or "Messiah," would be sent by "Yah" to save his chosen
people from the enemy – or "Satan."
One of the most important of these messianic cults was a group called the "Essenes."
They were strongly influenced by Zoroastrianism, and also the Greek philosopher
Plato. They went off into the desert and built monasteries which were completely cut off
from the world.
Nearly everything we know about the Essenes is from the Dead Sea Scrolls. This was
part of a monastic library that had been destroyed by an earthquake in 73 CE. The
Essenes created the basic outlines of what we now know as the Christian religion.
They worshipped a person whom they called "The Teacher of Righteousness." He was
someone who had lived around 200 BCE, and who had claimed to have supernatural
powers. This "Teacher of Righteousness" established their basic doctrines and rituals.
He'd been persecuted by the Jewish authorities, and finally he was "chastised."
Whether that meant he was executed, we don't know. But the Essenes believed he
would soon return to earth as the "Messiah of Israel." They taught that belief in the
Teacher of Righteousness was the only path to salvation. They were sexually
puritanical; they practiced prayer, fasting, and baptism – which they called being "born
again." And they had a holy meal at which the Messiah was said to be mystically
present after the bread and wine were blessed by a priest. They were governed by a
council of twelve disciples – each representing a sign of the zodiac.
In the various Dead Sea Scrolls there are many, many doctrines and direct quotations
that were later attributed to the "Jesus Christ" character of the gospels. But these
scrolls were copied over a hundred years before the reign of Pontius Pilate. So if the
person in the gospel stories actually said what he's alleged to have said, then he was
only quoting the Teacher of Righteousness. On the other hand, if the Teacher of
Righteousness was actually the person written about in the gospels, then he could not
have been executed by Pontius Pilate.
The word "Jesus" is a Latin spelling of the Greek word "Iesus," which in turn comes
from the Hebrew word "Yeshua" or "Joshua," which meant aide or representative of
Yah. The word "Christ" comes from the Greek word "Christos," which meant "anointed"
– in other words, a king. So "Christ" is simply the Greek word for king, and "Messiah"
was the Jewish word. Thus, the phrase "jesus christ" is a description more than a
proper name. It meant "the king who is a representative of Yahweh" – in other words, a
typical god-king, like a Pharaoh or a Caesar.
During the time of the Jewish rebellion – when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
there were many who claimed to be the jesus-christ. Three are well-known: Simon
Magus, Menander, and King Herod. But as soon as anyone began to attract a
substantial following, the Romans had them executed.
Joshua was a common name among Jews, as it still is. And Iesus (or hay-sus) was a
common name among Greeks, as it still is among Latins. In fact, the Greek god
Dionysus was also referred to as Jesus. But there is only one historical record of
anyone named Joshua or Jesus being executed by Pontius Pilate, and it might be a
forgery. The Jewish Talmud indirectly refers to a criminal named Jesus, who was the
illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named "Panther." This "Jesus Panther" was
reported to have attracted large crowds with magic tricks and blasphemous
monologues while his accomplices picked pockets. On Passover Eve he was hanged.
The Jewish historian, Josephus, mentions that, in the year 62 CE, a man named
James was executed by stoning. He was said to be the brother of a "Jesus, who was
called the Christ."
These two references are the only evidence that anyone like the Jesus Christ of the
gospels ever existed! All the rest is Christian legend.
The first person to call himself a "Christian" was Paul of Tarsus. He'd been raised as a
Jew, but he was a Roman citizen, and he spoke fluent Greek. He never claimed to
have met this demigod in person. Instead, he says he had a "vision" in which the
"resurrected Christ" appeared to him. This was the first time that the Jewish Messiah
had been associated with a resurrected sun-god. Paul obviously had been strongly
influenced by the Essenes as well as by other cults, such as the Zorastrians, the
Mithraists, the Eleusinians, the Orphics, the Pythagoreans, the Gnostics, the
Manicheans, the worshipers of Osiris-Horus-and-Isis, Attis-and-Cybele, Adonis, Jesus
Dionysus, etc. He incorporated elements of all these concepts into his theory – which
he then spent the rest of his life in spreading. He established Christian churches in
many of the major cities around the Mediterranean.
We only have two dates to pinpoint when he lived. There's a court record showing that
he was arrested in the city of Corinth, in the year 51 CE. And he died in Rome
sometime between 54 and 68 CE.
It was standard literary practice in the ancient world, for books dealing with religious
matters to be written anonymously. It was considered blasphemy for a mere man to
sign his own name. These prophets thought that God was guiding their hand as they
wrote, so they either did not sign the book at all, or they attributed it to some great
person of the past. And often they wrote it from the point of view of that person. These
books are called "pseudepigrapha," which means "false writing" – an alleged eye-
witness report which is actually fiction. Today we would call it historical fiction, or
During the time when Paul was establishing churches around the Mediterranean,
people were writing biographies of the jesus-christ. So during the first few centuries of
the Christian era, hundreds of them had accumulated – all disagreeing with each other
on what he had done, or said, and what it all meant. All of these stories were either
anonymous, written under a pseudonym, or attributed to the character they are writing
about. The letters of Peter and Paul are good examples. All of the alleged letters of
Peter and some of the letters of Paul have proved to be forgeries, written many years
after they had died.
Constantine became Emperor of Rome in 312 CE and converted to Christianity shortly
afterward. He decided to make it the official religion of the Empire. But nobody could
agree on what "Christianity" really was. So in 325, in the city of Nicea – near the Black
Sea – he convened the first Ecumenical Council.
All the bishops from all the churches brought all of their favorite pseudepigrapha, and
other holy books. They argued and fought for 57 years over which books were truly
"divinely inspired" and which were mere fiction. Their first order of business was to
write an official creed of Christian doctrine. This was called the "Nicene Creed," and to
this day it's the cornerstone of Christian belief. But it wasn't until 382 that Pope
Damusus-the-First announced that the books called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
came closest to agreeing with each other and with the Nicene Creed. So they were
proclaimed to be divinely inspired. Others were deemed to be partly inspired, and they
were called "Apocryphal," which means "doubtful." All the remainder were classified as
heretical and ordered to be destroyed.
Modern scholarship has proved that the four gospel stories were written nearly 100
years after the reign of Pontius Pilate, so they could not have been eyewitness
accounts. The book of Matthew, which tells about the Wise Men and the star, was
written between 70 and 80 CE. And the book of Luke, which tells about the manger
and the shepherds, was written around 80. Mark was the earliest account, written in 64
CE; and John was the last, written in 100 CE. The authors are unknown; but it's clear
they were strongly influenced by the Essenes, because much of what they wrote was
copied verbatim from the earlier writings about the Teacher of Righteousness. It's also
obvious that their nativity stories were basically copied from the Mithraic writings, which
I talked about last week.
During the early formation of the church, various Christian scholars began translating
the Old Testament into Greek. They completed the "Pentateuch" about 200 CE. That's
the first five books of the Old Testament, which were supposed to have been written by
Moses. They called this translation the "Septuagent Bible."
Bishop Jerome finished editing his Latin version of the "New Testament" in 383 CE,
under the orders of Pope Damasus.
The "Vulgate" was a Latin translation which included both the Septuagent and the
Damasus version of the New Testament. This was published in 1546, and is the one
still quoted in Latin readings.
The "Douai Bible" was an English translation of the Pentateuch and New Testament,
published in 1610. And to this day it's the only English language Bible recognized by
the Roman Church.
In 1604, King James of England had ordered a group of scholars to write a Protestant
version, in order to widen the division between the English and the Roman church.
They based their translation of the Old Testament on medieval Hebrew and the New
Testament on the earliest Greek manuscripts. The earliest version of the King James
Bible was published in 1611.
Since then, the number of Bibles has proliferated geometrically. There are many
different English versions, and it's been translated into every language of the world.
About 20 years ago there was a great commotion when one translation said that Jesus
was the son of a "young woman" named Mary – rather than a "virgin." The latest
contretemps concerns an effort by the National Council of Churches to make the Bible
more politically acceptable by re-translating the "sexist" language – changing God and
Christ from male figures into unisex hermaphrodites.
The early church fathers were very much aware of all the contradictions among the
books of the Bible, and among the different editions; so for over a thousand years,
laymen were forbidden to read any version of a bible. And anyone who questioned the
Nicene Creed was executed for heresy.
Well, that's essentially how it all started, and as you can see, it bears no relation to the
propaganda you'll be hearing between now and the 25th.
Be listening next week at this same time when I'll be talking about the history of myths
and customs connected with the Christmas celebration. Until then, this is Lee Carter for
Atheists United – the Rational Minority.