Sent in by Steel
At 40 years old, I have lived some 25 years as a "born again" Christian, but have really struggled for the last 10 years years with what I see as a creator, who by all logical exercises, is an absentee landlord. For example:
- I cannot say that I ever had any prayer answered for my own needs, or those of others
- I have sought the healing for my many physical problems, with faith, for the healing that was promised me as a believer (even just a portion), but it was all in vain
- I have really struggled with inescapable statistics, such as:
1/3 of the world is under-fed, 1/3 is starving (The World Health Organization); every year 15 million children die of hunger; 3 out of every 4 who die from starvation are younger than 5 years old; every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger
- Does God really reward faith? (“But without faith it is impossible to please him. For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him - Hebrews 11:16). I find it hard to say yes. Ask the millions of soldiers and civilians dead in WWII alone – how many millions prayed with an immovable faith only to be rewarded with death or death of loved ones and destruction of their lands and economies?
- Why would faith be a prerequisite anyway? Ask the millions of starving children who cry out to him in innocence each day and are ignored. If my 7-year old were struggling with needs, I would not sit on my hands till he demonstrated some arbitrary level of faith. Why would the Creator?
- It is astonishing how many wars and deaths in general, were performed in God’s name (be it Hebrew, Christian, Muslim, Jedi, or whatever flavor). With Mankind as his children, why no intervention in such matters to dispel the confusion and provide relief?
Does God hear prayers? Does he answer prayer? Some contend that the only logical conclusion is: if he hears prayer, he ignores them, making him indescribably cold and sadistic. I feel a more palatable and logical conclusion, from detached observations, is that he simply refuses to hear from mankind or intervene in our affairs (or at least, in a most minimalistic way, only in unpredictable, isolated occasions and/or via semi-earthbound (possibly arbitrary) guardian angels).
- scriptural inconsistencies and downright illogical oddities (that is another thread)
This grieves me to no end to reveal these thoughts.
Well, at any rate, unrelated...here is a compilation I made, a curiosity, an academic exercise, from various sources, that may be of interest. It lists examples of the "Dying and Rising God" principal (a cornerstone of Christianity) and other biblical events/Christian tenents, which can be seen in various way in pagan belief systems. Idea of sacrifical redemption, baptism, resurrection, et cetera, are found in pagan religions, predating Christian doctrine:
1. Example: Osiris
- Egyptian of life, death, and fertility (called the All-Father)
- He is the resurrection figure, the is the oldest son of the Earth god, Geb, and the sky goddess, Nut
- He was killed by his evil brother, Set, then was resurrected.
- Osiris's wife, Isis, found his remains embedded in a tree trunk
- These ancients celebrated a eucharist. It was believed that humans were whatever they eat and that this Osirian
sacrament was able to make them celestial and immortal (earliest roots were in prehistoric cannibal tribes,
who held that the virtues and powers of the eaten would thus be absorbed by the eater).
2. Example: Mithras
- Roman solar deity (2nd Century BC – 5th Century AD)
- The name Mithras is the Greek masculine form of the Persian god Mithra, who was the mediator between
the God (“Ahura Mazda”) and the Earth.
- Referred to by followers as Redeemer, "the light of the world", and "The Good Shepherd,"
- Exhorted his followers to share ritual communion meals of bread and wine.
- His priests were called "Father"
- Mithras was born with shepherds in attendance, on the 25th of December (a date chosen by early church
fathers to honor Christ’s birth so as to not attract attention)
3. Example: Attis
- Pre-Christian Greek solar-vegetation deity
- Born in December
- Referred to as "The lamb of God,"
- Was crucified and subsequent resurrection were celebrated annually, with ritual communions of bread and
- His virgin mother, Cybele, was worshipped as "The Queen of heaven."
- Attis and Cybele's predecessors are the Babylonian Goddess Ishtar, and her consort Tammuz. It is from their
legend that we get the name for the annual celebration of the resurrection of Christ…”Easter”, a name of the
- Tammuz is associated with a symbol- the cross [early Christian used the Greek letter, “X” as a parallel symbol (named “christos”)]
4. Example: Odin
- Head of Nordic gods (“Father of All”)
- Odin hangs from a tree as a sacrifice to himself and was pierced in the side by his own javelin.
- He hung for nine days and nights, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds.
(sacrifices, human or otherwise, to the gods were commonly hung in or from trees, often pierced by spears)
5. Example: Baldur
- Nordic “god of light”, innocence, beauty, joy, purity, and peace, Odin's second son
- Killed by the Loki, scheming deity (who fathered various beasts, humans, and monsters)
- He will returns after Ragnarok (end of the world good vs. evil battle of the gods…comparable to the Christian Apocalypse) to usher in an era of peace.
6. Example: Dionysus
- Greek god of the wine
- Was born from a virgin mother, a mortal woman, but fathered by the King of Heaven
- Transformed water into wine,
- He incurred the wrath of the religious authorities, who were appalled that he refers to himself as a son
- He allows himself to be arrested and tried for blasphemy - a willing self-sacrifice.
- He is found guilty and executed, only to rise from the grave three days later, where the women weeping
at his tomb do not recognize him until he assumes his divine form
- Was thought of as a liberator of mankind.
- Notions of eating and drinking "the flesh" and "blood" were popularized by the cult of Dionysus.
Thanks for indulging me.
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Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)