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Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

#98: Aug. - Sept. 2011 (Non-Fiction)
D.M. Murdock
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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Thank you for your thoughtful replies. Robert, you make some very good and, yes, profound points throughout. As concerns the philosophical implications of my work, as expressed in CIE, for one, I can state my own motivations in doing this difficult and controversial research, as well as my hopes for the future. Like the climate scientists you mention, I too have hit a bewildering brick wall of ignorance and indifference, despite the fact that the information I'm sharing is so very fascinating.

In my opinion, the implications of this knowledge constitute greater wisdom and less enmity for other cultures - an increasingly important development, as all over the world we begin to rub elbows in closer quarters. What the research eventually demonstrates is that there are continuities within religious ideation that date back to extremely early times and that reflect much about the human psyche in general. These continuities and similarities between religions and cults over the past several thousand years are of great interest to me and have been for many years.

In some instances, the similarities develop independently, based on observations of human psychology and natural phenomena. In other cases, there is clearly a continuum from earlier mythological and religious strata. Hence, religious origins are multifold, arising independently and derivatively from earlier concepts. I have little doubt that very basic concepts have been passed along with our shared genetic heritage, which appears to have been determined scientifically through DNA studies to have emanated out of Africa, some 50,000 to 140,000 years ago. Again, my ultimate interest is to uncover this "lost religion," so to speak, which eventually resolves itself largely into nature worship, the reason we find it globally.

However, again, there are some very detailed comparisons between religions that seem to have come through more or less direct descent, and I am again interested in tracing those as well. In the meantime, the outcome will hopefully be that increasing numbers of people will become aware of this shared past from remotest times and will become more appreciative of our global heritage vis-a-vis religion and mythology. If we can get beyond religious fanaticism and study the world's cultures dating back into remote antiquity, we can find common ground all over the world, and we need not disparage these past cultures upon which our own is built.

The end result, I hope, is a more mature and less contentious humanity that does not slaughter its own at the drop of a hat - as it turns out, most if not all roads lead to the "Genetic Eve," so to speak, which means we humans are one big family. I do believe much religious ideation points in that direction as well. It was not necessarily my goal to synthesize the world's religions, but I began to notice commonality more than 25 years ago, while studying in Greece. At that time, it was linguistic studies that were leading me in that direction. As we are aware, linguistics and theology often go hand in hand, and the two disciplines provide much indication of how humanity has evolved over the past tens of thousands of years.

Moreover, I'm hopeful that, with the knowledge of the real meaning behind the myths - much of it astrotheological - we can redevelop our appreciation for our natural world, so that we can stop destroying it at a distressing pace. The meanings revealed by studying comparative religion and mythology are not only profound but often important and fascinating, as well as empowering beyond cultural boundaries. Instead of a divisive cult supposedly founded by one person or another of a particular ethnicity, with one or more gods of or favoring the same ethnicity over all others, we find a uniting body of knowledge that was crucial in our survival as a species in very difficulty circumstances: To wit, the knowledge of natural cycles, such as the movements and characteristics of the sun, moon, planets, stars, constellations, etc. In understanding this body of knowledge, which we can call "astrotheology," we can comprehend what the ancients - our ancestors - were trying to and frequently did convey, not as a babbling rabble of primitives but as wise and intelligent observers of their natural world.

As a neat example of our shared heritage and its astrotheological roots, readers may wish to take a look at the Wiki article on "Solar deity." The following image, for instance, displays a nice anthropomorphization by Chinese artists of the sun god, Tai Yang Xing Jun by name, illustrating the development globally of representing such entities as distinct ethnic artifacts, yet based on the same general underlying observations of solar movements and characteristics.

Image
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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The solar deity link is fun. It shows that there's a human tendency to anthropomorphize those things which influence us most(of course 8P). The sun and moon are also huge influences, and have been turned to gods all over the globe.

I enjoy reading Daniel Dennet, and this seems to be a tangent he'd explore. I don't recall reading anything that digs deeply into the cognitive philosophy. What I'd think is that connecting some phenomenal effect to an agent(as the cause) helps survivability, on average. An example would be to better able to recognize that a certain pattern in the dirt applies to a tiger, it's a footprint. The spooky power of the sun at a distance(sunburns and sneezes and eclipses and sunsets) would be phenomenon that would fit the category. Strange effects attributable to a cause that is an agent. If I didn't know any better and lived back then, I'd think of the sun as a deity as well.

This makes me wonder how many of the cultures in the wiki link developed the idea of a sun god independently. Asian and Native/meso American beliefs would be the best place to start, being the most isolated from the middle east.

I guess after reading what Robert/Tat/Vishnu write, the area of ambiguity for me isn't how religious beliefs emerged and carried forward to other cultures. They've covered it well and it makes sense. Where I'm fuzzy is in fully understanding how the human mind has evolved to be susceptible to false beliefs, and even develop them. It's a work in progress, an unachievable ideal. Sometimes I wish I was a scholar.
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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Welcome!

Thanks for posting with us, and keep up the great work!
In the absence of God, I found Man.
-Guillermo Del Torro

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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Though I'm not participating in this particular book discussion, I have to say thanks to everyone for contributing to such an interesting and intelligent discussion. A special thanks to the author for taking the time to participate. This is indeed a treat!

edit: Just ordered the book. :lol:
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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Looking at the graphic of the sun god, Tai Yang Xing Jun, posted by D.M. Murdock . . .

The halo is a religious icon represented in many world religions—Hellenistic Greek, Roman, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian. It certainly is well represented in Christianity. It occurs to me that perhaps it originated as an image of the sun that is partially occluded by the holy (anthropomorphized) figure in front of it. I've always wondered what the halo is supposed to represent exactly. It looks like a partial disk extending from the top of the figure's head, but the idea that it is a full orb makes more sense.
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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Yeah Geo, that was something that hit me too when I started looking into the astrotheology of the ancients. I never really gave the halo's in Christian iconography very much thought while I was in Christianity. But in hind sight it is a dead give away.
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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Robert Tulip wrote:This thread is all about the philosophical implications of Christ in Egypt. Tat and I have debated these implications, such as whether the scientific deconstruction of myth points us toward a wholly finite understanding, rejecting the old myths about an infinite god. These are quite tough questions, which may not have a final answer, but are still highly interesting in terms of the cosmology implied by mythicism.
So now Robert, can you expand on what you mean here by "the cosmology implied by mythicism."
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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tat tvam asi wrote:Yeah Geo, that was something that hit me too when I started looking into the astrotheology of the ancients. I never really gave the halo's in Christian iconography very much thought. But in hind sight it is a dead give away.
It would be interesting to study halo iconography and see if the older images appear more orbish—like a sun. This recalls the discussion we had with respect to Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces as to whether the ancients first saw their gods as metaphors or symbols and only later as literal (and supernatural) deities. This is a question that particularly interests me. If older halo icons appear more like two-dimensional representations of orbs, this would lend credence to the idea that the ancients devised mythological figures as metaphorical devices--like stories--with which to illustrate concepts and better understand the world.
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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Now that you mention it, if you go back to the wiki link Murdock posted on solar deity and scroll down to where the Egyptian mythic images with full solar orbs above Isis or Hathor and Ra are shown, we're looking at older iconography than what we see in the Chinese and Christian images.
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Re: Christ in Egypt: A Philosophical Deconstruction of Christianity

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DWill wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote: The popular idea, serviced and reinforced by the Gospels, was that this spiritual narrative of salvation is a special revelation of god on earth, in real events in history. The complete falsity of this popular meme had already been largely suppressed and forgotten by the time the gospels were written, although traces of the cosmic vision remain sprinkled as clues throughout the texts.
So your answer to the question I posed is yes, the gospel writers believed they were writing about a man-god named Jesus. That in the process of propagandizing for the new religion they trailed along some original elements of cosmic myth-making, I can find plausible. I can't find plausible that they did anything more than that, that there are correspondences between the events related, such as throwing the moneylenders out of the temple, and the movements of the heavenly bodies. That would take more deliberation than seems reasonable to assume.
The question here is whether the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, or whoever actually wrote the books that go by these names, actually believed that Jesus Christ was a historical person.

This question does not admit of easy answer. Going back to the theme of this thread, deconstructing Christianity, the task at hand is akin to reverse engineering of a machine, starting with the finished product and trying to work out how it was built. 'Deconstruct' is a philosophical term that comes from French translation of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger's terms 'Abbau', literally 'unbuild', and 'Destruktion', which does not just have the negative meaning of destruction, but also points to the positive task of revealing hidden truth. Reverse engineering a machine in a Chinese lab to copy it is one thing, but deconstructing Christian origins is much harder, given the ambiguity and gaps in the source material. But still, technicians do not have a blueprint when they reverse engineer, and neither do we have a blueprint explaining the rungs of the ladder that were kicked away in the process of formulating the gospels.

This is a topic that relates to the final chapter of Christ in Egypt on The Alexandrian Roots of Christianity. As D.M. Murdock has already commented, this chapter explores the Therapeuts and Proto-Christians who it appears were responsible for compiling the New Testament. I will have to re-read this chapter before commenting in detail.

However, at this point it is worth commenting that this question opens basic problems in the psychology and politics of Christian formation. As I have said, my view is that the origin of the Christ story is primarily astrotheological, reflecting on earth the observation of the movement of the equinox from the first sign Aries to the last sign Pisces at the time of Christ. The question then arises of what steps in the evolutionary process of the idea are most plausible to create the gospels.

Paul, writing in the 50s, already presents a highly ambiguous story, speaking of the death of Christ on the cross but showing no knowledge of the life of Jesus as depicted later in the Gospels. As well, the ambiguity in Paul indicates he spoke to two separate audiences, initiates who understood Christ as primarily spiritual, and the general public who found such spiritual language obscure, but could relate to literal history. If the gospel writers used Paul as a main foundation for their ideas, it is hard to say if the idea of Christ had evolved by that time into a consensus that Jesus was a historical man. The language in the Gospels was still intended for the two audiences of the spiritual initiates and the general public, but the biographical detail could indicate that these legends had already accreted around the myth, such that the writers believed them. This would help to explain the fervor in the texts about the story of the passion.

However, it still remains entirely possible, and I think more likely on the balance of probabilities, that the mystery tradition was still dominant when the gospels were written, and that the writers knew full well that all the history was allegory aimed at a popular audience, fiction that presented a hidden meaning for the initiates wrapped in a popular tale aimed at church expansion. The abundant presence of allegory suggests the authors knew the historical Jesus was imaginary. For example, the miracle of loaves and fishes appears six times overall in the gospels, and is the only miracle in all four books. It must have originally been read as a heavy hint of the astrotheological intent, until this reading was suppressed by the power of literal orthodoxy.
Speaking as a reader, the strong impression I get of all the Gospels is their function as propaganda. That's also the main reason I find them disappointing. But as far as the falsity of the popular meme, aren't all religions false to a degree, and don't we expect elements from existing religions to be recycled in new ways? I can't see much that's scandalous in what happened to the root elements of the Christ myth.
All religions are false to the degree they depart from reality. Knowing reality is the challenge of enlightenment. If Christianity originated in an enlightened vision that was in tune with reality, then it is scandalous that the Gospels represent a degraded fragment of an original high wisdom, especially in the way the church destroyed spiritual traditions that conflicted with its dogmas.
Tat Tvam Asi wrote: can you expand on what you mean here by "the cosmology implied by mythicism."
I will tell you what I think about it. Consider this an astrotheological parable. If Christ as the alpha and omega represents the passage from the Age of Aries to the Age of Pisces, in terms of an imagined terrestrial reflection of the slow passage of the stars, then he also represents the passage from one Great Year, the twelve-Age-long period of earth’s spin wobble, to the next Great Year. Acharya S notes in Christ in Egypt that Jesus Christ was considered the avatar, or spiritual leader, of the Age of Pisces. If we see the moment of the turn of the Ages as also the moment of the turning over of the Great Years, then Christ may also be considered the avatar of the Great Year, incorporating the spirit of all twelve ages.

Considering this as an astrological parable, it means that as time moved away from the cusp separating the Ages and Great Years, only the Piscean spirit of belief and its polar Virgoan spirit of analysis were in tune with the zeitgeist, and the sense in which Christ represented the whole of the year was lost. The age of Christianity has just represented a partial, one sixth, understanding of the myth of Christ. As we now move towards the next cusp, in about 2150 AD, we approach the next polarity of Aquarius and Leo, with their themes of knowledge and will. So the zeitgeist is now in a state of flux, with belief being replaced by knowledge, and analysis by will. It suggests a turning point as a moment of crisis when faith will become a matter of life or death for the world, and we will have to put faith in knowledge of reality, and our will to manage it. Belief and analysis are no longer enough for salvation, which requires knowledge and will.

This is pure speculative imagination, and I would really struggle to justify it by science, except as a sort of imaginative fractal symbolism. It depends on the claim that there is a resonance between the annual and great year cycles of the earth, with the great year having an actual turning point at the time of Christ. There is no evidence for such a turning point. Apart from the artifact of seeing that Christ lived when the spring sun moved from Aries to Pisces, the BC/AD moment does not seem to be special in any physical turning point. Mapping to long term orbital cycles of light and dark caused by precession, as recognized in climate science, we see the turning point at the bottom of the climate cycle was in 1296 AD, when the December solstice passed the perihelion, the point of our orbit that is closest to the sun.

I hope people still find it an interesting exploratory idea. I suspect that similar speculation may have been at large in the early church, but was stamped on for its implication that other believers were walking in darkness while this idea represented a glorious light to the world.
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