Why So Many Historical Gods?


There have  been countless gods through history. Essentially all civilizations have had their deities.  Great temples in Greece, pyramids in Egypt and South America, and monuments all over the world have been constructed at incalculable human cost in the name of religious belief that is now known to be fallacious.  Animal and human sacrifices have been carried out to appease gods of war, rain, harvest, etc.   We feel certain that these diverse gods are not real, but were created or imagined by ancient people in an effort to make sense of a chaotic natural world. 

Stephen F. Roberts sums up the situation very nicely:  "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

Human beings are prone to invent the gods that they need (and need them they do).  There is no reason to believe that the gods that are currently held by the major world religions are any different.  There is no evidence anywhere that Jehovah, Allah, or Jesus Christ are any different than Ra, Jupiter, Zeus, or the Aztec rain god.

In fact, while there is still some debate as to whether Jesus the man actually existed or not (I think he probably did, but that is another topic), it seems very likely that the Jesus that Christians worship today is an amalgam of previous gods from earlier traditions.  Many of the elements of the “Jesus story” were borrowed from earlier elements.  An article originally published in 1941 by John G. Jackson entitled Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth, part 3 offers a wonderful analysis of the similarities between the story of Christ and those of other proceeding deities.  I have summarized it below.  Also see part 1 and part 2 of the same discussion.

Jesus (Christ) and Horus of Egypt, also called Karast (2500 BCE) share the following in common:

  1. Pre destined to greatness.

  2. Virgin birth to a mother named Mary.

  3. Born in a stable/manger.

  4. Visited by three kings or wise men

  5. Wise men guided by a star.

  6. Born on December 25th

  7. Was God the Father reborn as his own son.

  8. Taught wise men at age 12.

  9. Annointed at age 30.

  10. Baptized.

  11. Walked on water.

  12. Suffered vicarious atonement for sinful men.

  13. Child King.

  14. Transfigured on the mount.

  15. Followers are two brethren, seven fishermen, and twelve apostles.

  16. Cast out demons.

  17. Healed the blind.

  18. Killed on a cross after trial.

  19. Betrayed by a disciple.

  20. Buried in a tomb.

  21. Visited hell.

  22. Resurrected after three days at the Vernal Equinox, i.e. Easter.

  23. Ascended to heaven.

  24. Part of Holy Trinity.

  25. Judge of the dead (sheep on right, goats on left).

Osiris, the father of Horus. (2500 BCE)

  1. Another virgin-born.

  2. Death, and Resurrection celebrated March 25, near Vernal Equinox, i.e. Easter.

Pharaoh Amenhotep III, of the seventeenth dynasty (1350 BCE)

  1. Son of the virgin Mutemua.

  2. His birth is pictured on the inner walls of the Temple of Amen in Thebes.

  3. The glyphs describe his annunciation, conception, birth, and adoration, in detail as described in Luke 1-2.

Krishna of India (400 BCE)

  1. Born of Virgin Devaki.

  2. Birth heralded by a star.

  3. Born of royal lineage.

  4. Born in a cave.

  5. Illuminated at birth.

  6. Presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

  7. Spoke to his mother from the cradle.

  8. Krishna was born while his earthly father Nanda was in the city to pay taxes.

  9. Worshiped by cowherds.

  10. King Kansa order slaughter of all infants born on same night as Krishna.

  11. Nanda was warned by a heavenly voice to flee with the infant Khrisna across the Jumna

        River, to Gakul, to escape King Kansa.

  1. Performed many miracles.

  2. Crucified.

  3. Peirced by an arrow while hanging on the cross.

  4. Sun was blotted out on the day of his death.

  5. Descended to hell to raise the dead.

  6. Rose from the grave.

  7. Ascended to heaven with a multitude of spectators.

  8. “Krishna” literally means “The Black”.  In early Christian art, Jesus is often depicted as a

        black child.

  1. Considered human incarnation of Vishnu, the second member of the hindu trinity.

Budda (500 BCE)

  1. Born of Virgin named Maya, or Mary.

  2. Birth celebrated December 25.

  3. Visited by wise men.

  4. King Bimbasara sought young Budda’s life.

  5. Considered a threat to the throne.

  6. Taught wise men at age 12.

  7. Of royal lineage.

  8. Transfigured on a mountain top.

  9. His body was illuminated.

  10. Ascended into heaven with his earthly body.

Mithras the Persian sun god (1st century AD)

  1. Virgin born.

  2. Born in a cave.

  3. Born on December 25.

  4. Worshiped by shepherds.

  5. Accompanied by 12 companions.

  6. Buried in a rock tomb.

  7. Arose on the third day.

  8. Mithralists observe the sabath and take a wafer sacrament.

  9. Resurrection celebrated at Vernal Equinox, i.e. Easter.

Adonis or Tammuz of Babylonia (600 BCE)

  1. Born of a virgin.

  2. Died a cruel death.

  3. Descended to hell.

  4. Rose from the grave.

  5. Ascended bodily into heaven.

Attis of Phrygia (1200 BCE)

  1. Born of the Virgin Nana.

  2. Called the Good Shepherd.

  3. Died after self inflicted wounds under a sacred pine tree.

  4. Resurrected.

  5. Death and resurrection celebrated from March 22 through March 25

  6. A pine tree cut on March 22, and an image of the god was tied to the trunk.

  7. He is depicted as slain and hanged on a tree.

  8. Buried in a tomb.

  9. On the night of March 24, the priests opened the tomb and found it empty.

  10. The Resurrection of Attis celebrated on March 25.

  11. His followers were baptized in blood, thereby having their sins washed away.

  12. Believers were declared to have been "born again."

The influences of pagan religion in Christian symbology are undeniable. Egyptian sun disks became the halos of Catholic saints. Images of Isis nursing her son Horus became the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus. And virtually all the elements of the Catholic ritual - the miter, the altar, the doxology, and communion, the act of "God-eating" - were taken directly from earlier pagan religions.

Conclusion:  It seems likely that pagan traditions were rolled into the Christian religion within the first few hundred years after the death of Jesus to help ease the assimilation of those people who held tightly to their pagan roots.  Given the political and social issues of the Roman Empire in the first few centuries after Jesus’ death, consolidation of the population under one religious creed makes some sense.  The council of Nicea 432 AD sought to do just that.

This information suggests that Jesus and the elements of his story may not be devine in origin.  If Jesus really is the Son of God, I will submit that we may not really know what God is or what He wants from us.  Click here for a discussion of a few of god’s contradictions.

Email comments to seekerot@yahoo.com