In my last post I dealt with the false assertion by many modern skeptics that Christianity is a copycat religion from pagan myths. To make the point I selected the most commonly cited story by proponents of this claim, that of Mithras, and demonstrated point by point that there are no parallels between the two stories. I might add that Christianity comes from a monotheistic Jewish background and centers on a true historical figure, Jesus (see my earlier post: Was Jesus a Myth?), whereas the pagan myth stories commonly cited are completely mythological accounts with no historical basis. Nonetheless, for anyone who may be interested, in this post I will briefly review some of the other pagan myths cited by these radical skeptics.
Stories of “virgin births” in pagan myths:
Hercules was a demigod hero (warrior). His mother was Alcmene, a beautiful woman whom Zeus lusted for. She refused to marry a man named Amphitryon until after he avenged the death of her brothers. During Amphitryon’s military campaign to complete this task, Zeus visits Alcmene disguised in the form of Amphitryon and recounts the victories of the true Amphitryon, thereby tricking Alcmene into sleeping with him. When Amphitryon returns home from battle she discovers she in fact slept with Zeus and later gives birth to Hercules. As you can see this is NOT a virgin birth.
Dionysus was a god of fertility and wine. Zeus lusted for a princess named Semele and took on a human form to become her lover. She then became pregnant, and Zeus’s jealous wife (the goddess Hera) sought to burn her alive. Zeus then takes the unborn child from her womb prior to her death, and sews him into his thigh (upper leg) until he is born. The child was Dionysus. Yet again, this is NOT a virgin birth.
Perseus was another demigod hero (warrior), best known for killing Medusa. His mother was Danae, the daughter of the King of Argos. Zeus lusted after her, but when her father learned from an oracle Danae would have a son by Zeus that would one day overthrow him, he had her locked away. Her prison was open to the sky and Zeus showered her with golden rain which drenched her entire body and she became pregnant with Perseus. Now I do not want to get too graphic here, but suffice to say the golden rain is a not so subtle metaphor for male bodily fluids. In short this is a rape, Zeus lusted for her and she was locked away, not to be denied he then pours himself onto her to satisfy his lust. NOT a virgin birth, but rather a birth from celestial intercourse; and NO resemblance to the story of Jesus birth.
Stories of “resurrections” in pagan myths:
Attis was a human man that a goddess named Cybele fell in love with and they became lovers. When he became unfaithful she made him go insane as punishment. During this insanity he castrated himself and died. This is why priests at temples of Cybele were eunuchs. Grieved by what she had done, Cybele tries to resuscitate him but to no avail. She can only preserve his body, he is still dead but in the myth his hair continues to grow. This is not a resurrection, but rather preservation. Not until the late second century does the story change and Attis is brought back to life by Cybele, but in the form of evergreen trees. As you can see this is NOT a resurrection.
Adonis is the son of Myrrha (some versions Smyrna). Myrrha falls in love with her father and tricks him into sleeping with her. Once pregnant her father realizes what she had done and seeks to kill her. She flees and turns to the gods for help who then transform her into a tree. Adonis is then later born from the tree. The goddess Aphrodite shelters Adonis as a newborn baby and entrusts him to Persephone, wife of Hades and goddess of the underworld. Once grown, both Aphrodite and Persephone became taken by Adonis’ beauty and want him for a lover. Persephone refused to give him back to Aphrodite and the dispute between the two goddesses had to be settled by Zeus. He decided Adonis would spend one-third of every year with each goddess and the last third wherever he chose. In other words, he traveled back & forth between the land of the living and the dead. The myth is directly tied into the seasons and vegetation cycles. It is NOT a resurrection. In fact, in later versions of the story Adonis is actually killed by a jealous Ares (the god of war) and dies in Aphrodite’s arms. There is NO resurrection. Not until the fourth century AD, some 300 years after Jesus, do some versions of this story have something that could be called a ”resurrection”.
Osiris is from Egyptian mythology. Briefly, the ancient Egyptian concept of the afterlife did not involve resurrection as we know it. They believed people crossed over. This is why bodies were preserved (mummified) and buried with their possessions and servants – to take with them. So in the story of Osiris he is killed by his brother Set. In some versions he is dismembered (or cut into pieces). The goddess Isis takes pity on him and collects his body parts to give him a proper burial so he can cross over to the afterlife. But he does not come back to this world, but rather becomes god of the Netherworld. In other versions of the story his brother tricks him into getting into a box then sinks it to the bottom of the Nile River. Isis, who in this account loves and desires Osiris, retrieves the box only to find he has already died. She then cast a spell to revive his body for the purpose of sleeping with him so she can have his child (Horus), and then he dies again after the deed is done. So yet again, NO parallels to the resurrection of Jesus.
Now after filling in the details of these myths – Do any of them bear any resemblance to that of the virgin birth or resurrection of Jesus Christ? Whether the characterization of these myths as “virgin births” or “resurrections” is intended to mislead the public, or is simply being perpetuated out of ignorance, is anyone’s guess. But as has hopefully been demonstrated, none of these stories upon further scrutiny show any resemblance or parallels to Jesus.
Thank you for reading. I hope some may have found this post insightful.