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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 6:16 pm 
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Should Mythicism Reform or Oppose Christianity?

This is a question that has been much on my mind. My view is that the discovery that Jesus Christ was a fictional character enables an accurate historical understanding of the evolution of early Christianity, and shows that traditional faith resting upon the idea of Jesus as founder is in error. However, this historical discovery is a separate question from the moral value of the ideas in the New Testament, which I consider can be recovered through a mythicist understanding, providing a basis for reform of Christianity. If, as scholars such as Murdock, Pagels, Freke and Gandy argue, the writings operate at two levels, veiled and public, then the unveiling of the hidden teachings in the New Testament through analysis of how and why Christ was invented could contain the basis to reform Christianity to make it compatible with a modern scientific outlook.

I see recognition of the roles of monasticism and astronomy as decisive for this reformed understanding of the legitimacy of Christianity. For both these major areas, dominant assumptions provide a false basis of support for Christian literalism.

The political debate between mythicism and Christian apologians presents a polarity whereby the apologists claim to defend faith while mythicists oppose faith. The links between mythicism and atheism underpin the assumption that mythicism assumes faith is a blind vice, and that mythicism inherently supports the idea that social evolution requires the withering away of religion.

This framing of the debate as one between religion and atheism is inherently problematic for mythicism in view of several factors. For astrotheology as a primary coherent approach within mythicism, the observation is that the early Christians were Gnostics who held that the sun is the source of light and life, and presented this in allegorical language through Jesus Christ as an anthropomorphised representative of the Sun.

The Bible operates on two levels, esoteric and exoteric. The esoteric or secret teachings are Gnostic mysteries designed for an elite elect, and present an enlightened spiritual philosophy. The exoteric or public teachings are popular stories designed for the general public, as an introduction to the Christian vision. The claim of the existence of Jesus Christ in the flesh is a solely exoteric simplified public teaching, whereas the deeper spiritual understanding, and the real basis of the authentic Christian ethic, is that the Jesus story was invented as allegory.

This clash between the public and secret teachings led to factional conflict. The secret faction was routed and largely destroyed due to the popularity of the simplified literal history. The corrupt church imposed its depraved mentality, suppressing the authentic ethical message that had inspired the faith. Only fugitive traces of the original high teaching survived in hidden form in the Bible and in Christian symbols. The attack was so comprehensive and successful, given the use of the enfleshed myth as the basis of imperial stability and the inherent weakness of a secret society against an empire, that the original teachings were entirely lost, and now must be reconstructed from the fragments.

My view is that a secret wisdom tradition which came from India to Egypt was primarily responsible for crafting the Christ Myth as it appears in the New Testament, but this teaching was only partially understood, and a range of lesser thinkers presented later misleading speculative interpretations, both orthodox and Gnostic. Emperor Ashoka of India sent Buddhist Theraputta missionaries to the West in the third century BC, and these founded the Egyptian monastic tradition of the Therapeuts which Philo describes at Lake Mareotis near Alexandria, where the Gospel of Mark was written. The real evolution of monasticism, the movement at the foundation of Christianity, therefore must seek its roots in India, where Vedic and Buddhist monastic traditions are ancient and entrenched. But the suppression of the history of these events was so severe that we have only a fragmentary record which remains to be reconstructed in a coherent and compelling way.

Against this observation that monasticism came to Egypt from India, the dominant view appears to be that monasticism arose independently in the west, against the normal evolutionary thinking which looks to how practices built upon earlier precedent, and against the historical evidence that Ashoka deliberately sought to spread Buddhist practices to the west. There are strongly ingrained prejudices at work here. As Martin Bernal brilliantly explains in his great book Black Athena, the dominant view in Classics is that intellectual transmission was from West to East, but the historical evidence is that the dominant direction was from East to West. This modern prejudice against the East has led to questions such as the origins of monasticism being neglected.

Moving to the suppression of Gnosticism and the role of astronomy, I think that the reason the enlightened Gnostic elite could not get their act together against the sustained assault from Orthodoxy was that they lived in a time of enormous upheaval, conflict and difficulty, and they presented a complex vision that was highly vulnerable. The construction of the New Testament was a product of high enlightened wisdom, basing theology on astronomy. The key to this teaching was the ‘as above so below’ idea that events in history parallel the visible markers of the sky seen in the slow movement of precession as the structure of time. This assertion about precession is highly controversial, since it requires that the Orthodox assault saw astronomy as a primary target for suppression, that astronomy provides the blueprint for the Christ Myth, and that these teachings were primarily oral rather than written. I see all these claims as highly defensible.

The scientific community who informed the Gnostic ideas about astronomy was fragile, and was shattered by war and oppression. Later writers had to work with highly conflicted polemical records. It is a bit like how today we struggle to assess the value of writing from the nineteenth century, partly due to the way orthodox Christians have twisted the work of writers such as Massey to create a distorted impression. My view is that many texts in the Bible have no other explanation than an effort to encode an accurate knowledge of precession, which formed the mythical basis for the premillennial seven thousand year theory of history which appears in the creeds. Putting precession back in as the real basis of this creed means that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ was imagined by the Gnostic founders of Christianity as the Dawn of the Age of Aquarius.

Christian propaganda about Gnosticism was based on the caricatures put about by heresiologists who had an overt agenda to ally throne and altar. Docetism, said to be the teaching that Christ only ‘seemed’ to come in the flesh, is just a propaganda caricature of the original spiritual teaching about Christ, which had to be denigrated in order to justify the claims that the Gospels are history rather than fiction. This effort at distortion was immensely successful, to the point that theology has broadly failed to engage with the real basis of Docetic thought as the original Christ Mythicism.

The dominant monotheistic view in the Bible is that God is external to the creation, so naturally if any older traditions were adapted for Jewish use this core belief would be inserted. The esoteric wisdom tradition is pantheist, whereas the exoteric political tradition of Christendom is what is known as panentheist, believing in an external God. It is precisely this unacceptability of pantheism in politics that consigns pantheist teachings to secrecy and allegory, as seen in the day=millennium code of the Bible. But if the original Gnostics were essentially pantheist, it stands to reason that their key pantheist ideas, such as precession, would have been a focus of suppression.

To say the true creator God is transcendent is itself a vain piece of imagination. We have no way to assess whether creativity is intrinsic or extrinsic to matter, but there were strong psychological and political drivers in Christendom to favour what we could call the extrinsicity thesis of panentheism, the idea that a creator God exists outside the universe. The prophets had strong motive to focus on this extrinsic theory of God. They had a strategic military security agenda to inculcate Jewish obedience and unity as defence against their large neighbouring empires. This agenda was served by the condemnation of the diversity inherent in veneration of nature, in favour of the hierarchical patriarchal unified dogmatic and alienated monotheism which became the basis of Christendom.

Anathemas against heresy by Christian Emperors meant that possession of heterodox literature was a capital crime for a thousand years. That history of Christendom is the very model and type of formal conspiracy to produce conformity and obedience, and explains why the dominant assumptions of the historicity of Jesus are so deeply engrained as to have become the new fundamentalism of contemporary faith.

I am not aware of any other mythicists other than me who take this line that the fictional nature of the Gospels is a basis for reform of Christianity. My observation is that Carrier, Doherty and Murdock assume that the demonstration that Jesus Christ did not exist supports the modern secular vision of the withering away of faith, rather than a reformation. My view is that the only hope for faith is to reconcile with reason. This means that when we read Bible texts such as ‘the truth will set you free’, we should take them seriously, and see that the delusion of the Historical Jesus fantasy is a form of psychic bondage, chains that can be thrown off through what we might paraphrase Paul to call the glorious liberty of science.

In understanding the old meme of the fall from grace, a way to make sense of it is to see that the rise of metallic conflict in the ancient world led to the need to invent a comforter who would point a long term path back to peace and restoration. The Gnostic inventors of Christianity could see the world was not ready for such a saviour king, so it appears they hit upon the plan of seeing the avatar of the Age of Pisces as preparing the way for the Avatar of the Age of Aquarius. On this model, the Piscean Christ was imaginary, explaining how the Aquarian Christ will rule the world in love and knowledge. That means that a scientific reform of Christianity can be understood against this astronomical framework of the shift of ages.

A core question for astral theology is how human psychology evolved to understand the sun and moon as the basis of terrestrial order. The one to twelve temporal relation between the solar year and the lunar month was apparently anthropomorphised into the story of Christ and the twelve. This telling of the real natural story of time by displacing it into human myth is a way to connect our lives to the constant order of the cosmos. Understanding that linkage provides a purely scientific mystical spirituality, something that seems to be hardwired into our genes since the one to twelve temporal order of the sun and moon has been stable for four billion years.

I think that astrotheism is a way to rediscover the original intent of Christianity, and to explain that intent against the knowledge of modern science. My view is that authentic talk of God is a way of expressing reverence and awe and wonder for the complex fragile order of nature, and a way to understand salvation in evolutionary terms as the steps required to enable human flourishing and prevent suffering and destruction. I think we can keep and celebrate everything in Christianity as long as we understand that magical superstitions are just a popular way to explain deep natural truths. Ritual and worship and tradition can be presented to the masses in the old way, as long as there is an intellectually honest debate to understand the real allegorical meaning.

The political polarity between conservatism and progress really has to be dismantled if we are to make any real progress. The great achievers are the conservative evolutionary thinkers who build on traditional precedent rather than trying to introduce some radically different rational claim. So I maintain that the mythic Christ was the real original teaching, which the conflict of the world has hidden for twenty centuries of stony sleep, and only now in the third millennium are we ready for a sensible discussion of Christian origins and intentions. Mythicism should aim for a completely conservative vision of progress as a basis to reform Christian faith.

Yes some mythicists such as Carrier are extreme liberals, but others such as Murdock are far more complex and align to conservative views, especially on analysis of Islam. It is rather like how the climate debate assumes the myth of science = liberal, which means the complexity of the issues gets confused. So if the real mythicist agenda is to recover the original meaning of Christian faith, then mythicists can become the ultimate conservatives.

Acharya provides an excellent summary of evidence about the dating of the New Testament, uncontaminated by faith, at The earliest extant near full copies of the Gospel manuscripts date from the 4th Century, after Constantine’s Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The first mention of the four gospels was in 170-180 AD, while some lines from alleged “memoirs” which differ from the surviving gospels date to the mid second century. That is all a very scanty record. So we have no way to know how earlier New Testament documents were altered. For all those we have, the copying process was in fact centrally controlled, simply by the expedient measure of killing anyone who promoted ideas that conflicted with the Nicaean Creed. This imperial method to instil trembling obedience was highly effective, so it is not surprising that almost no unorthodox literature survived except in the polemical quotations of heresiologists and in documents carefully hidden in jars in the desert sands.

If Christians were honest, they would have venerated original manuscripts and ensured there was public data to confirm their dogmas. But because the dogmas were invented lies with the primary purpose of establishing an alliance between throne and altar, all the source material had to be treated against the Orwellian 1984 principle that Oceania always had been at war with Eastasia. Enough ethical content had to be retained to ensure the Gospels comforted the masses, were a plausible fantasy, made the empire suitably chastened for its evil conduct and provided some moral exhortation. But the extant text really gives us little indication of what it came from. A key theme is that Christianity originated as a monastic mystery religion, and this tradition was primarily one of mouth to ear, in a time when reliance on the written word was much less and people had far better memory for the spoken word. But of course a spoken tradition is very fragile to being cut apart by swords.

The clue to the original intent is the presence of coded descriptions of the cosmos, and especially of the accurate natural observation of the shift of the stars marking how the ancients imagined a shift of zodiac ages. These texts pervade the Bible, but are universally lightly concealed because this original intent is incompatible with the false church dogma of the Historical Jesus.

Even though there was a basic consensus around Orthodoxy, all the hand written copies of the Bible from the first millennium contain small differences, as detailed in the link above. Manuscripts that were heretical were consigned to the flames.

Most of the New Testament systematically speaks at two levels, popular and wise. In the famous parable of the tares, the ‘weeds’ arise from the error of taking popular stories as literal history rather than allegorical metaphor. That interpretation is compatible with the wheat being scientific and the weeds being supernatural. What is incompatible with science and ethics is the claim that loyal believers are Godly and dissenting unbelievers are Satanic. The moral divide enunciated by Christ in the Last Judgement is between those who do works of mercy and those who don’t, not between believers and doubters.

The dual layers are still present within the text, for example as analysed in detail by Elaine Pagels in her great book The Gnostic Paul. One example of textual alteration is from Revelation 15 where the oldest extant texts from the 4th century describe Jesus as the “King of Ages” but later texts have “King of Saints” or “King of Nations”, perhaps due to the revulsion the orthodox had towards the Gnostic concept of Ages.

The hypothesis of systematic elimination of Gnostic ideas is supported by the problem of why the Apocalypse so clearly encodes precessional observations about the north pole and the zodiac, but these are hidden in symbolic language. The most plausible reason is that the original ideas behind these texts were deemed politically unacceptable for mass distribution, and therefore had to be concealed. Over time the suppressive culture of corruption forgot what the original meaning was, and images such as the leopard-bear-lion in Rev13 came to be viewed as literal or fantastic, rather than as a scientific accurate symbolic explanation of the structure of time. It is truly amazing to me that this simple explanation still cannot be seen by people who are blinded by faith.

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