Why the Deafening Silence?

How did Christianity really start? Was in the result of a virgin birth in Bethlehem, a supernatural resurrection in Jerusalem and a divine revelation on the road to Damascus? Or is Christianity just the logical end product that was produced when a simple hallucination on the road to Damascus was reinforced with a simple lie told in Jerusalem?

A few weeks ago, I posted what I thought was a very provocative 3-part series suggesting how I think Christianity actually started. I fully expected it to stir up a bit of a hornet’s nest. Instead, I’m now deafened by the silence. Not a single comment from the Jesus is a myth fraternity and, even more surprising, no reaction whatsoever from Christians. Why this deafening silence? I’m basically claiming that all you really need to explain Christianity and the New Testament is a simple hallucination on the road to Damascus and a simple lie told in Jerusalem. Put these two simple ideas together, and voila, Christianity without any need for a resurrection in Jerusalem.

I fully accept that I can’t prove Paul hallucinated on the road to Damascus. Likewise, I accept that I can’t prove Peter lied to Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection. But then again, Christians have to accept that they can’t prove Paul didn’t hallucinate on the road to Damascus and they also have to accept that they can’t prove Peter didn’t lie to Paul.

We, therefore, now have two explanations of how Christianity started. One is the 2000 year old orthodox explanation, with all the super naturalistic explanations you would expect from an ancient pantheistic culture. The other is a simpler, more pragmatic, 21st century reinterpretation of the same basic facts. If my version of first century events seems far too simple, just remember Occam’s razor which states:“When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.”

You can find out why Paul hallucinated on the road to Damascus by clicking here, but you’ll have to read The Christianity Myth if you want to know why Peter lied to Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection, and why Peter’s lies were later immortalized in the Gospels .

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Part 2: Is Christianity Just a Simple Misunderstanding?

A central tenet of Christianity is the Christian claim that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. The only evidence supporting this claim is the evidence found in the New Testament itself. Many people have questioned the veracity of this evidence, and from time to time, various theories have been forwarded by disbelievers attempting to offer more rational explanations. At the very least, any credible alternative explanation had to account for the existence of four independent Gospels, each of which proclaimed Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. It also had to account for the Gospel claims that various people then saw this resurrected Jesus.

In 1950, Professor Sir Norman Andersen published “The Evidence for the Resurrection”. Even today this book is still one of the most definitive books ever published in defense of the Jerusalem resurrection. Andersen systematically examines each of the alternative theories offer by disbelievers and, after pointing out their various weaknesses, he systematically rejects them, leaving the orthodox Christian version of events as the one and only legitimate explanation. Andersen also states in this book that “Easter is not primarily a comfort, but a challenge. Its message is either the supreme fact in history or else a gigantic hoax”. But Anderson’s book fails to consider a third far more plausible alternative, namely that everything stems from an honest to goodness mistake, made 2000 years ago by a man on the road to Damascus.

Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus is portrayed in the New Testament as a divine revelation which leaves Paul believing he had met with the resurrected Jesus. Paul’s interpretation of his experience is not surprising, because 2000 years ago, Paul lived in a pantheistic pagan world, and miracles and super-naturalism were part and parcel of his everyday life. It was therefore perfectly natural for Paul to rationalize his experience on the road to Damascus as best he could, in terms that were then culturally acceptable.

But Paul’s world was oblivious of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy or TLE for short. In more recent years, many have pointed out that Paul’s symptoms, as described in the New Testament, are very similar to the symptoms of TLE, and some have even suggested that Paul may have just hallucinated on the road to Damascus following an attack of TLE. This fairly common form of epilepsy is caused by localised seizures in the temporal lobe region of the brain, and today’s scientific literature contains many reports of experiences similar to Paul experience on the road to Damascus. Even today, those experiencing these temporal lobe aberrations are always totally convinced that their hallucinations are real.

This hallucination idea therefore offers us a very plausible, alternative explanation of what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus, but expecting Christians to educate themselves about TLE is a bit like expecting turkeys to vote for Christmas. The scientific evidence, however, is pretty conclusive, and in my opinion, it suggests that Christianity is just a simple by-product that was produced because Paul misinterpreted a simple hallucination as a divine revelation. If a simple TLE induced hallucination hadn’t converted Paul on the road to Damascus, then he would never have visited Peter in Jerusalem and Christianity would never have seen the light of day.

After dismissing all existing alternative theories as non-viable, Andersen outlined the requirements needed for any alternative theory to be both plausible and viable. He conceded that “when trying to refute this resurrection, the only rationalistic interpretations of any weight, are those that admit the sincerity of the records, but try to explain them without recourse to the miraculous”. This is precisely what The Christianity Myth now does. It refutes the resurrection and it offers a more rational interpretation of events that admits the sincerity of the records and explains the records in a very sympathetic manner without recourse to the miraculous. And, for the first time ever, The Christianity Myth explains why we have four Gospels proclaiming a Jerusalem resurrection that never actually happened.

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_If you want to know more you’ll have to read my book.

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Part 1: Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up!

Who was this Jesus of Nazareth? Was he really the son of God as Christians claim? Or was he nothing more than a myth, as many others claim? Or was he just an ordinary mortal Jew from Galilee, as I and many others claim.

Only Christians actually believe Jesus was the son of God, and they point to their New Testament evidence to justify their belief that he was resurrected in Jerusalem after his crucifixion. However, Christians conveniently ignore the fact that, outside of their New Testament, there is very little evidence to suggest that Jesus ever existed, and no evidence whatsoever to corroborate their claims that he was resurrected after his crucifixion. Christians therefore have to rely entirely on the evidence in their Gospels to sustain their claim that Jesus was the son of God. I will address the reliability of these Gospels in Christianity’s Achilles Heel, the 3rd and final part of this series.

Many non Christians claim that Jesus never actually existed. Those belonging to the  Jesus Myth Fraternity argue that, had Jesus ever existed, he would certainly have been noticed by contemporaneous historians. But on many separate occasions, numerous scholars have trawled through all the existing contemporaneous historical documents, and failed to find any reference, whatsoever, to a character called Jesus. They therefore conclude that Jesus never existed, that he is, in fact, nothing more than an ancient myth. However, their argument is a flawed argument based on a flawed premise, namely the tacit assumption, that had Jesus ever existed, then he had to be the son of God, the character portrayed in the Gospels, the character that was crucified in Jerusalem and then resurrected from the dead. This was the Jesus they searched for in contemporaneous records, and this was the Jesus they failed to find.

However, the Jesus Myth Fraternity ignores totally, the possibility that Jesus was not this Gospel Jesus character portrayed in the New Testament. They ignore totally the possibility that Jesus may have been just an ordinary Galilean Jew, a mere mortal preacher whose popularity eventually threatened the fragile status quo. Would you expect to find traces of this mere mortal Jesus in “contemporaneous dispatches”? I think not, anymore than you would expect to find traces of any of the other tens of thousands of ordinary Jews who were around at this time. However, applying the flawed logic used by the Jesus Myth Fraternity, you would have to conclude that these thousands of people never existed. But even today, you could trawl through all the newspaper reports, and all the news broadcasts, issued over the last 30 years, and find no traces whatsoever of billions of people living on this planet. That doesn’t imply these people don’t exist. It just means these people never did anything and never said anything worth recording for posterity.

So, who was Jesus really? Was he the son of God as Christians claim? Was he just a 2000 year old myth as many others claim? Or was he just an ordinary, relatively insignificant, Galilean Jew? Both the argument that Jesus is the son of God, and the argument that Jesus is just a myth, leave much to be desired. Therefore, on balance, I believe the evidence strongly favors the notion that Jesus was just a very popular Jewish preacher from Galilee, who was later immortalized in Gospel stories written well after his death.

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

If you want to know why a mere mortal Jesus was immortalised in these Gospel stories, you’ll have to read my book.

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Christianity Myth Book Trailer

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_The Christianity Myth examines first-century Christianity and concludes that there are two ways of explaining how Christianity started. The traditional way, with divine intervention, and Thackerey’s way, without divine intervention. Thackerey’s way is both novel and intriguing, and his provocative ideas are destined to ruffle a few feathers. Both Christians and non-Christians alike will find it a very interesting read.

 

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The Christianity Myth Polarizes Opinion

517IsBb0cZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Amazon reviews of The Christianity Myth are very polarized. Click here to see reviews

Some like the book and others hate it. No prizes for guessing which particular mindset hates the book. Personally, I don’t blame Christians for hating the book. If I was a Christian I’d probably hate it too, because it takes Christians way outside of their comfort zone, and offers them a stark reality devoid of their Christianity comfort blanket.

I still remember the first time it finally dawned on me that I’d never again be able to wrap myself in this Christianity comfort blanket. Initially, it was a very unsettling thought, but intellectual satisfaction eventually prevailed, and today I can look my own mortality directly in the eye and not blink. Today I am perfectly comfortable knowing that I will eventually die to make room for future generations. Death is just the price we pay for that brief glimpse of reality preceding an eternity of oblivion. Such is the nature of the beast.

I therefore fully understand why Christians feel a pressing need to denigrate this book. Will you be one of them? Will my book challenge your beliefs and be a bridge too far? Or will it open your eyes to a stark new reality?

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