by Neil Godfrey
This continues my posts engaging with The Christ Conspiracy (CC) by Acharya S/D. M. Murdock. I have had quite a few responses from strong supporters of the astrotheology view argued in this book, all of them hostile, one even threatening legal action. These reactions have all reminded me vividly of my experiences in leaving a religious cult some years ago. The mentality is tribal, cultish, without any ability to accept any criticism or serious questioning of its fundamental belief-system whatsoever. They proclaim their sense of persecution and victimhood like true believing martyrs. Questions are fine if they are asked in a “good attitude”, which means being supportive and not rejecting anything one does not fully understand or completely agree with.
The chapter title The Holy Forgery Mill is subtexted with the quotation “J’accuse!” And that is what the chapter is — one long accusation. I have not read Bart Ehrman’s Forged, mainly because I had earlier read another work, Forgers and Critics by Anthony Grafton, that seemed to say it all anyway. I am sure Ehrman’s work would be similar to Grafton’s in that it would provide readers with facts, cases, evidence, explanations of motives, culture, and so forth. There is nothing like this in this CC chapter, however. It nothing but
- a series of references to Church Fathers who can be quoted as saying some things that sound outrageous about how ridiculous and absurd Christian beliefs are, as fantastical as pagan myths
- a string of quotations from authors expressing their loathing for way the early church produced texts under false names: Bronson Keeler, 1881; Charles Waite, 1881; John Remsburg, 1905; Barbara Walker (Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets); Joseph Wheless, 1930; Conyers Middleton as quoted by T.W. Doane
- a thorough brow-beating use of terms like “pious fraud”, “monumentally superstitious”, “masses are led to believe”, “priestly forgeries”, “pretended dates”, “falsification and deceit”, “clerical confessions of lies and frauds”, “underhanded endeavors”, “ridiculous mendacity”, “as phony as three-dollar bills” . . . .
- and to cap it all off, a conclusion remarking on how unskilled and unconscientious these forgers were, since they were “so ignorant or careless” that they interpolated their “fraudulent new matter into old manuscripts without taking care to erase or suppress the previous [contradictory] statements”. (There is no consideration of the possibility that those adding the new matter were doing so in a political climate that made it impossible to remove the offending statements without being exposed as forgers.)
Now I like to have a good scoff and howl at the outrages foisted upon the innocent by persons of power and privilege, past and present, as much as anyone from time to time and in the appropriate context. But if I’m going to make a case that I want to convince or inform others, then I am obliged to leave aside the rhetoric and present the facts and evidence in a way that is going to register with crania more than viscera. The outrage can follow, justified by knowledge of the facts. But if I do nothing but brow-beat with declamations then I am a rabble-rousing polemicist, not a teacher or educator.
Maybe I should just skip all of these warm-up chapters and start where the astrotheology arguments start. It seems pointless going over more of what looks to be the same sort of thing I have covered here and in earlier posts. Or turn to my other book on astrotheology.