Recently I have been chastised by Acharya S (D. M. Murdock) and some of her followers for failing to give the attention and prominence (one of them wanted to do a guest post on my blog) to their views that they demand they deserve. This followed recent posts and comments of mine in which I tried to explain that I was not particularly interested in their approach to the question of Christian origins, but it also followed my trying to point out to them why I thought their approach to Christian origins was logically flawed and hence unscholarly or unscientific. Their thesis failed adequately to argue against alternative hypotheses and relied mostly upon the fallacy of seeing only what they believed could be used to support their views, and also because they failed to provide any direct or specific evidence to support their claims that ancient astrological or astrotheological views belief systems were responsible for the creation of Christianity.
Consequently I suddenly found myself accused of suppressing and banning astrotheology, of insulting Acharya personally, and of being under the influence of a cult mentality that pre-programmed me to adhere to certain conclusions and rendered me incapable of thinking for myself.
Thoroughly chastened, I have decided to go back and take the time to read more carefully The Christ Conspiracy than I did some years ago and to give it a full-scale chapter-by-chapter review.
Let’s start with the Preface. I take a little time on this because it introduces us to the author of the book and helps us get our bearings as we approach a work that stands outside the resources of mainstream scholarship.
The Preface is written by Kenn Thomas. I had no idea who Kenn was so I checked out a few sites where he explains himself, including one where he engages in a lengthy radio interview. Kenn Thomas is Mr Conspiracy Theorist Par Excellence and responsible for SteamshovelPress.Com – All Conspiracy – No Theory. Kennedy was assassinated because of what he was about to discover about UFOs. The Middle East riots are instigated by an FBI related plot. I also thought I heard something about “they” who are “trying to take away our enjoyment of life”, too. Most instructive was a moment in a radio interview when Kenn addressed those who reject such conspiracy theories: he could not remember or bring himself to spell out what their alternative explanations were and why they rejected the conspiracy option.When astrotheology advocates supporting Acharya’s views recently appeared on this blog they conceded that the evidence needed to prove their theories was missing — it had been wilfully destroyed — and that their views were extrapolated from scattered cryptic clues. Anything I said about the need for evidence and logical rigour in demonstrating cause and effect was dismissed as “denialism”.
Some websites addressing the typical fallacies of conspiracy theorists:
- Conspiracy theories as examples of pure dogma
- Logically fallacious: Conspiracy theory
- Conspiracy theory logical fallacies
- Common conspiracy fallacies
- That’s just stupid
- A vivid demonstration . . . conspiracy theories
- Changing minds: conspiracy theory
- Five logical fallacies that make you more wrong than you think
- Top 20 logical fallacies
- Logical fallacies
- Magical journey through the land of logical fallacies
If we approach The Christ Conspiracy expecting it to be built upon such logical fallacies we will be well prepared for what we find. It is easy to dismiss an argument founded upon fallacies and ignorance but it is also not a bad thing to take time to explain to others exactly where one sees the flaws and grounds for dismissal. That’s what I’d like to do in future posts on this book — though I can’t promise I’ll have the perseverance to get through every chapter.
On the opening page one reads a header quotation that is not encouraging for one looking for an intellectual discussion. It cites American satirist H. L. Mencken, the concluding sentence being:
One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent.
Thomas introduces us to the meaning of the name “Acharya” and why she wrote this book.
[Acharya] means “preceptor,” the head-master or principal of a school. . . . Acharya’s preceptory resides in cyberspace, on the web at www.truthbeknown.com, on her discussion list, through her posts in such e-;aces as konformist.com and Steamshovel.Press, of which I am the publisher, and through her non-profit Institute for Historical Accuracy.
So the title sounds to me like a claim to authority. That worries me just a tinge. I am niggled with questions over whether readers will be granted permission to question anything. That non-profit “Institute for Historical Accuracy” is also a bit of a worry. It conveys (to me) the impression of an “us versus them” mentality and a suspicion that mainstream historical studies are not to be trusted. I found the following on the origins of this corporate body at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/konformist/message/91
Institute for Historical Accuracy
December 28, 1998
I am delighted to announce that I have been retained by the American
Anthropological Research Foundation (“AARF”) as a consultant to
develop a new division, the Institute for Historical Accuracy. AARF
is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established in the State of
Florida in 1974. The Institute for Historical Accuracy (“IHA”) will
be concerned with the restoration of history and heritage of
destroyed, lost and/or suppressed cultures. As has been noted,
history is commonly written from the perspective of the conqueror.
Since this conquest has been not merely physical but also spiritual,
religion and mythology will constitute a major focus of IHA.
As an archaeologist, historian, mythologist, linguist and member of
the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece, I am able
to bring scholarly credentials, skills and knowledge to the task.
However, as an independent researcher I will not be bound by typical
institutional obligations that may compromise the integrity of the
work. As some of you may know, I have spent many years intensely
researching and writing about the history and culture of mankind in
general. Part of my work has been and will continue to be to alert
the media of major inaccuracies of fact that perpetuate divisiveness
and prejudice. It is my conviction that we cannot create a better
future without a proper understanding of the past.
To meet this challenge of historical restoration, IHA needs and
welcomes the support of the public. By contributing to IHA, you can
be part of this exciting and unique endeavor to enlightened and
inform. Any tax-deductible contributions may be made payable to AARF
and sent to: . . . . . . .
. . . .
Institute for Historical Accuracy
Archaeologist, Historian, Mythologist, Linguist, Minister
Member, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece
Acharya is also a Minister? Minister of what?
So the emphasis is to be on religion and mythology, and breaking down prejudice.
One example of this institute’s work (it appears to be a one-person institute, actually — just another name under which Acharya S. herself writes) can be seen in the blow it strikes against anti-semitism. One part of the solution is to get rid of the word “anti-Semite”! As found at http://www.goldtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23717
The Institute for Historical Accuracy
June 1, 1999
The History Channel
I watched with interest your program on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, particularly since I have for years maintained that it is impossible to understand World War II without factoring in the Protocols, whether or not they are spurious.
One point I would like to criticize is the use of the word “anti-Semite,” which actually gives credence to the notion of a Jewish conspiracy. As you must know, “Semite” refers to any descendant of Shem, one of the three sons of Noah (a fictitious character). In reality, it is claimed that about 90% of Jews are NOT Semites, such that anti-Jewish sentiment may in no way be characterized as “anti-Semitic.” In fact, Jewish authorities will admit that the term is used in order to quash any criticism of Judaism as a bigoted, sexist and divisive ideology, which it is clearly demonstrated to be in the Old Testament, the Jewish apocrypha, the Dead Sea scrolls and the Talmud. By using the term “anti-Semite,” supporters of Judaism/Talmudism are able to make critics seem as if they themselves are racist, even though Judaism does not constitute a race. As Joseph Sobran says:
“So is the fear of being called ‘anti-Semitic.’ Nobody worries about being called ‘anti-Italian’ or ‘anti-French’ or ‘anti-Christian’; these aren’t words that launch avalanches of vituperation and make people afraid to do business with you.
“It’s pointless to ask what ‘anti-Semitic’ means. It means trouble. It’s an attack signal. The practical function of the word is not to define or distinguish things, but to conflate them indiscriminately – to equate the soberest criticism of Israel or Jewish power with the murderous hatred of Jews. And it works. Oh, how it works.”
In actuality, most Arabs may be considered to be “Semites,” such that anti-Arab Zionists/Jews could themselves be characterized as “anti-Semites.” How often have you heard anyone criticize “Semites?” The proper term would be “anti-Jewish” or “anti-Judaic,” and, again, the use of the erroneous “anti-Semite” lends credence to the idea of a Jewish conspiracy designed to make the “Goyim” or “Gentiles” look like irrational, prejudiced monsters. It would be much better for world harmony if this term were not perpetuated and if a spade were called a spade, particularly by an organization as the History Channel, which purports to be portraying history accurately.
Thank you for your attention to this important information.
Archaeologist, Historian, Mythologist, Linguist
Member, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece
Associate Director, Institute for Historical Accuracy
Of course. The mythological derivation of the word must be the guiding principle for its meaning today.
But another example of the efforts of the Institute for Historical Accuracy can be found online relating to Noah’s ark:
The Institute for Historical Accuracy
April 19, 1999
The Myth of Noah’s Ark
In a matter of days, NBC-TV will be presenting what its star Jon Voigt calls “. . . the biggest thing ever done for television,” a mega-production of the biblical tale “Noah’s Ark.” Because this well-known story is widely portrayed as being “historical,” it is incumbent upon the Institute for Historical Accuracy to disseminate the following information.
For millennia, countless people have been taught that there was a real man named Noah who somehow piled two (or seven, depending on which scripture in the “infallible Word of God” one reads) of every animal on the planet into an ark and with his family survived an enormous global flood. Obviously, to thinkers worldwide this story is logically to be considered an impossible fable, not history.
The fact is that, rather than being a historical figure who was the progenitor of three races, Noah is a fictitious character found in the mythologies of a number of different cultures globally, as opposed to being limited to one area and its specific peoples. The Bible story, in reality, is a rehash of many of these other myths, changed to revolve around these particular peoples.
Like other biblical tales, the myth of Noah is found earlier in India, Egypt, Babylon, Sumer and other places. The fact is that there have been floods and deluge stories in many different parts of the world, including but not limited to the Middle East. In the Sumerian tale, which predated the biblical by thousands of years, the ark was built by Ziusudra; in Akkad, he was Atrakhasis, and in Babylon, Uta-Napisthim. The Greek Noah was called Deucalion, “who repopulated the earth after the waters subsided” and after the ark landed on Mt. Parnassos. The Armenian flood hero was called Xisuthros, “whose ark landed on Mt. Ararat.” Noah’s “history” can also be found in India, where there is a “tomb of Nuh” near the river Gagra in the district of Oude or Oudh, which evidently is related to Judea and Judah. The “ark-preserved” Indian Noah was also called “Menu.”
Like Noah, the Sumerian Ziusudra had three sons, including one named “Japetosthes,” essentially the same as Noah’s son Japheth, also related to Pra-japati or Jvapeti, son of the Indian Menu, whose other sons possessed virtually the same names as those of Noah, i.e., Shem and Ham.
The story of Noah’s Ark actually takes place in the heavens, as Noah and his crew of seven represent the sun, moon, earth and five inner planets. Obviously, Noah’s famous “ark,” which misguided souls have sought upon the earth, is a motif found in other myths, representing the arc-shaped lower quarter of the moon.
As to the “real” Noah’s ark alleged to have been found, it should be noted that it was a custom, in Scotland for one, to create stone “ships” on mounts in emulation of this pre-biblical celestial myth, such that any number of these “arks” may be discovered on Earth.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
For more information, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Archaeologist, Historian, Mythologist, Linguist, Humanist Minister
Member, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece
Associate Director, Institute for Historical Accuracy
Acharya here explains her Minister rank. A Humanist Minister. This is all new to me, I’m embarrassed to say, so I googled that and it appears that I, too, can become an ordained Spiritual Humanist Minister for free and online right now at http://www.spiritualhumanism.org/ and so perform marriages and benedictions if local laws permit me.
So I am learning something of the background and person of the author of this book.
The Preface refers to now dated headers on Acharya’s website, Truth Be Known, but the current header is just as informative. Our author is undeniably a mystic and invites readers to join her on a spiritual transformation tour later this year to the Yucatan.
Kenn Thomas quotes Acharya S:
“The believers/theists believe my views are intolerant,” she writes, “while the nonbelievers/atheists object to the mysticism and perceive me as creating new beliefs . . . While I do not wish to live in a world where everyone is deluded by blind belief, I also do not want to totally dismiss all imagination or color.”
A nonbeliever or atheist position is considered to be necessarily without imagination or colour?
It seems clear, then, why Acharya S/D. M. Murdock stands apart from the mainstream positions of both believers and educated nonbelievers. She is clearly a mystic. That leaves me wondering if I should read another quotation of hers in Thomas’s Preface literally:
Indeed, Acharya S likes to say, “There is no single giant male god in charge. There are six billion little gods all jockeying for position.”
This follows Thomas’s opining that Acharya would
no doubt [agree] with [William S. Burroughs’] assessment . . . “Perhaps the most basic concept in my writing is a belief in the magical universe, a universe of many gods often in conflict. . . . “
An impressive set of academic credentials
Kenn Thomas finds “most interesting” Acharya’s combining her “rabblerousing rebel” position with “an impressive set of academic credentials.”
She belongs to one of the world’s most exclusive institutes for the study of ancient Greek civilization, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece. She has taught on Crete and worked on archaeological excavations in Corinth, site where legend holds Paul addressed the Corinthians, and in New England. She has also traveled extensively around Europe and has a “working knowledge” of Greek, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and other languages. She as read Euripides, Plato and Homer in ancient Greek and Cicero in Latin, as well as Chaucer in Middle English, and has clearly sat down withe the Bible — in English, as well as in the original Hebrew and Greek — long enough to understand it more than most clergy.
That sounds as if she is as well equipped as any zealous amateur or aficionado.
The nature of and motive for the book
She takes hammer and tong to many other non-historical figures, fraudulent church scams and misrepresented history in a matter of fact way, with chapters containing mythological character cross-references and details of legends. She recovers astronomical and cosmological elements in biblical texts that are far older than the corrupted versions revered in churches. The thesis of her work, that Christianity was created artificially out of older religions to consolidate Roman state control over those religions, as well as various mystery schools and secret societies, is a wellspring of awareness for students of conspiracy. Acharya S also makes a clear case for the existence of an ancient global civilization.
“A wellspring of awareness for students of conspiracy.” So we are told from the outset that this book is for conspiracy theorists. Christianity, we will “learn”, was created as a conspiracy for the purpose of consolidating “Roman state control”? I can understand factions in the Christian religion being used by fourth century political powers to bolster their authority, but that the Christian religion itself should have had such conspiratorial origins . . . ? Return to the fallacy links above.
So why did D. M. Murdock write it (I am loathe to refer to her by the authoritative title under which she wrote this book, being ever mindful, as I am, of Jesus’ admonition to call no man “Master” and no woman “Acharya”)?
While some may wonder about her motives for creating such a monumental work that will no doubt shake up many people’s perceptions of reality, Acharya S told me in no uncertain terms that “one of the reasons for doing this work is that I spent the first decade of my life literally becoming ill at war, violence, death and man’s inhumanity to man and other creatures. Such vile behavior has all too often occurred because of religion and unfounded beliefs. The deception of the religion business is appalling, and it’s high time it is exposed.”
So we can expect not only to read a thesis that is “a wellspring of awareness for students of conspiracy” but a work that is highly polemical, an attack on Christianity and religion in general as wellsprings of evil throughout the world.
I have my own views of Christianity and religion, but I do believe they generally need to be kept distinct from discussions and historical investigations into Christian origins. Polemical motivations for arguments can hardly reassure a reader aspiring for relative objectivity of their ultimate value.
Next: Chapter 1, the Introduction, by D. M. Murdock.
Latest posts by Neil Godfrey (see all)
- Another Angle on Paul - 2023-03-20 05:40:12 GMT+0000
- Jesus’ Unheroic Moment in Gethsemane – and a return to Vridar/Vardis Fisher - 2023-03-17 09:12:36 GMT+0000
- From Humble Beginnings: A Tale of Two Divinities — Jesus and Apollo - 2023-03-15 09:09:56 GMT+0000
If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!
35 thoughts on “Review of Acharya S’s “The Christ Conspiracy” part 1”
I accidentally deleted a comment that had defaulted to spam — it was a series of quotations from either Murdock herself or one or some of her supporters from her discussion site. Can I ask who posted that to do so again, please?
One thing I will comment upon in the meantime. I have never banned anyone from commenting here unless they violate my comments policy. Anyone is free to comment on any of my posts if they conform with that policy. A comment selecting quotations of what others are saying about a post will be posted here if I think it throws informative light upon what is under discussion.
If I have made any errors in any of my posts people are always free to correct me — I have been corrected several times for mistakes made and hope I have always attempted to respond appropriately.
So are we allowed to comment here or what?
I can tell you right away that you’re going down an erroneous path by trying to critique her this way. That’s like Doherty’s critics pulling up the 1999 Jesus Puzzle (same year) instead of addressing his advancements over the last decade leading to the Jesus: Neither God nor Man. What you’re attempting to do here isn’t any more justified Neil. Why not book review Christ in Egypt lays the argument out much more clearly and concisely?
If I critique a view that Murdock has since revised or wishes she had expressed more clearly then you are most welcome to point that out. I and everyone else, I am sure, would appreciate that. Murdock still advertises and sells her book and it is her most-well known work, I would suggest, and that is why I chose to review it. I don’t have my copy of “Christ in Egypt” with me — it is over a thousand miles from where I am now living — and that is the main reason I cannot review that volume now. I have no intention of purchasing a second copy.
Doherty’s first book is still his flagship production and apart from one or two places where he has since modified his position or concedes something could have been expressed differently, it is hardly a work to be ashamed of. It is still the best and most succinct introduction to his views. Carrier, after all, still thinks it is far superior to his subsequent tome.
You are allowed to comment here if you abide by the comments policy. That has always been the case. I have treated you no differently from anyone else.
Fair enough Neil.
. . . .
One point of contention that I can see in the blog is Murdocks invitation to guest speak for the Mayan 2012 thing. I wouldn’t call Murdock a mystic and her involvement as a guest speaker is not to promote any type of spirituality to my knowledge. From what I understand she’s just going to speak about comparative mythology issues like she addresses in her work. . . . .
[Kindly edited to conform to comment policy. I normally just delete comments that are a series of links to other sites and articles and are not commenting specifically on the post in question. — Neil]
Josh, tat, whoever you are, I am not likely to take the trouble to edit your comments again. Kindly restrict any comments to the actual contents of the post.
The banner ad I referred to links to http://www.maya2012tour.com/ There is another advertisement for this same event here: http://www.marlisekarlin.com/authros/2-uncategorised/257-maya-2012-transform-at-the-source
The tour advertizes itself thus:
The other advertisement for this event explains what participants are expected to get out of it:
Perhaps Murdock has been misled about what she is getting mixed up in and would like to reconsider her presence there?
Murdock is quoted as referencing her “mysticism” in my post. Her concluding chapter — discussed recently — pointed to her belief in an astrological turn of the ages, and Robert Tulip defended this belief with a naturalistic explanation. Murdock is also promoting an “astrotheology calendar” for “followers”(?) to purchase and relate their daily routines to?
I have known several “mystics” who play a lot with words to try to avoid being “labelled” as “mystics”. Okay — I have not quite found the right words that they would apply to themselves, but they are clearly not in the same camp as those who are unequivocally understood to be secular scholars or spokespersons addressing mythology as a scholarly discipline without any personal belief attachment at all.
I don’t have a problem with this (so why Murdock accuses me of vitriol I have no idea), by the way. To me it is the equivalent of historical Jesus scholars who have a liberal or spiritual attachment to Christianity. Freke and Gandy — I found some of their work quite intriguing — are clearly modern-day “gnostics” themselves and they are arguing for ancient Christian roots being their same belief system, too. The only difference is that the liberal Christians have the larger following today. Devotees are quite entitled to study Christian origins according to their own proclivities. The only problem I have is when any of these insist that their tendentious views are more objective or authoritative than a genuinely arms-distance approach would allow.
Neil Godfrey wrote: “I have known several “mystics” who play a lot with words to try to avoid being “labelled” as “mystics”. Okay — I have not quite found the right words that they would apply to themselves, but they are clearly not in the same camp as those who are unequivocally understood to be secular scholars or spokespersons addressing mythology as a scholarly discipline without any personal belief attachment at all.”
To use a Campbellian reference, the four functions of a traditional mythology can better explain this:
1) Mystical / Religious (mystery of mere existence)
2) Cosmological (astrotheology comes in here)
3) Sociological (social order, often a reflection in society below of what was observed above)
4) Pedagogical (Living of a life and the stages from birth to death)
Nearly every bit of Murdocks work on comparative mythology and religion is addressed to the second function of a traditional mythology with very little actually touching on the first function underlying it when you really take everything into account. She’s not really pushing the old mystery school beliefs as valid, such as the concept of a transcent energy source behind the light of the sun etc., etc. She’ll point out that ancient people did believe that without pouring any personal belief into the concepts that are under investigation. But I’ll grant you that she does have open attachments to certain beliefs like the importance of the US Constitution, freedom in general, and the basic tenets of a secular humanist.
Crossan’s and Borg’s studies of the historical Jesus are “nearly every bit” entirely secular-scholarly, with “very little actually touching on” their personal spiritual beliefs. Those are generally found in an epilogue or afterward or preface etc. But it is enough for the reader to know their biases. No-one could accuse Hurtado of “pushing” his Christian beliefs in his study of early Christ worship, though it is not lost on critics that his argument does support his Christian beliefs.
Yes, I can see Murdock is trying to be just as careful with some of her work to avoid letting her biases show and to present it as entirely objectively as she can. Just like the above scholars do, and just like any devotee or believer must do if they want to reach a wider audience than their choir.
I would be surprised if Murdock calls herself a “secular humanist”, however. Would not “spiritual humanist” be more accurate? Or if she does identify herself with secular humanism, how many other secular humanists would recognize her as one of their fold?
What has appalled me has been the outrageous personal attacks against me by Murdock and others on their discussion forum (I have not visited the site since I last quoted from it and I have no intention of doing so. I am hoping a lost comment, though, will reappear so we can see something of the latest attacks against me.) Such hyper-sensitivity to a straightforward description of where the author is coming from and what she is quoted as saying in the Preface to her book and such extreme reaction reminds me all too well of the tribal mentality of cults. Looking back now I can see that quite mild and matter-of-fact perceptions of outsiders were so quickly interpreted as “persecution” and “lies” by cult-members. They were nothing of the kind. And I put it to you and Murdock that my posts are nothing like the way they have been represented on freethoughtnation.
Am I beginning to notice a pattern here and in earlier discussions? I point out evidence for Murdock’s astrological beliefs, and there is immediate outraged denial, but when I elaborate on the evidence, there is an admission, yes, but it has a natural explanation — it’s not hocus pocus; I point out evidence for Murdocks’s mystical beliefs, and there is immediate outraged denial, but when I elaborate on the evidence, there is an admission, yes, but she doesn’t push them on others.
Are you interpreting my comments here as an outraged denial? They aren’t. This book is old and it deals more with esoteric sources and ideas than any other. It’s perfectly ok to question whether this person is a mystic or into astrology due to the content. But what I’m saying is that I have not known her to really be what I’d consider a mystic. I’ve followed comparative religion works that are very mystical like Manly P Hall’s and others and she’s nothing like that. That’s my personal experience of being close in to this thing. But I’m not going to push too hard against this like some type of apologist, you can just present what you believe is evidence for belief in astrology or mysticism and I’ll respond according to what I know about it.
Neil I was raised SDA and I know a cult when I see one too. I do understand why you’d see her online fans as cult-like though. It’s because people are quick to defend her. But the difference is that people are not quick to defend her because of some religious or astrological beliefs or ideology, it’s simply because people like myself don’t think that most of the attacks on this author are warranted.
I was active @ jcf.org as my comparative mythology forum of choice when some one posted the ZG movie(back when it first came out) and claimed that some strange solar cult lady was going too far with the 2nd cosmological function of myth and claiming that all of these myths were solar based and basically going way overboard in order to promote her cult. The movie I found interesting, sensational sounding, but interesting. I followed links to her forum thinking that I was going to confront some strange solar cult lady trying to bring back the ancient solar worship and that I’d have a little fun with seeing what sort of nonsense was going on over there. After joining the forum I realized that it’s just a comparative mythology forum where the focus is on Murdock’s work, and others like Doherty. People defend Campbell @ jcf if someone comes along trying to belittle his works. It’s not a cult, it’s just a wide variety of fans all with their own beliefs or lack thereof who have something in common, they like Campbell’s work and will defend it against Christian apologists and whatever atheists come along naysaying Campbell. It’s really no different with Murdocks comparative mythology. It’s a hot topic with heated debate. But it’s not oriented to belief in astrology or mysticism to my knowledge.
Continue making your case. I’ll follow the blogs and see where this leads. I’m just saying as of right now I am not aware of the promotion of astrology or mysticism.
That you appear to refer to my posts as “attacks” speaks volumes. Also your reference to Acharya’s supporters as being united by “beliefs” — beliefs which we ascertained in earlier discussions are not based on valid logical processes, unless you wish to redefine what is a valid logical process, as Robert Tulip attempted to do in his disagreement with Carrier.
Your biographical assertions mean little and are forever unverifiable as long as you remain anonymous.
. . . .
Added since posting the above
Your personal experiences and impressions — especially given your anonymous status — mean absolutely nothing against the evidence under discussion.
This is what I just said: “It’s not a cult, it’s just a wide variety of fans all with their own beliefs or lack thereof who have something in common, they like Campbell’s work and will defend it against Christian apologists and whatever atheists come along naysaying Campbell. It’s really no different with Murdocks comparative mythology.”
I was referring to jcf.org. The posters there are all variety of people their. They have their own beliefs or lack thereof, in other words religionists and atheists mixed in together, what they have in common is that they like Joseph Campbell’s works. That’s it. They don’t share common beliefs, they just like Campbell’s books for whatever the reason. His books are about surveying various scholarship about comparative mythology. And if anyone comes along calling Campbell a crank or a crackpot or whatever people will generally respond defensively. That doesn’t make them a cult of Joseph Campbell, just fans who don’t take kindly people trying to belittle the guy. And because his work ventured into controversial there are people who try and belittle his works.
When I started visiting Murdocks forum I found that it wasn’t any different. Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, Gnostics, Pantheists, and even some Christians would post there. These people have no common belief or ideology. They just happen to like something about Murdocks works and act to defend her if any one comes along trying to trash her. That’s not a cult any more than jcf.org could be called a cult.
This is how you can back at me:
“Also your reference to Acharya’s supporters as being united by “beliefs”
Let’s step back and take a breath and relax. Now did I even say that in the first place?
No, I actually said the very opposite. We’re NOT at all united by “beliefs” which I made clear the first time and even clearer the second time. We’re only united in the sense that we like the work of this author. This author is not writing religiously. Her work is not claimed to be infallible, or absolute.
She’s a theorist among other theorists who are all speculating about what might have caused Christian origins because there is no extant primary source evidence from the 1st century that gives anyone an absolute leg to stand on when it comes to origins. It would be silly to assert otherwise…
You’re repeating your same complaint you made under your other name earlier and ignoring the response I have already given. I’m not saying Murdock’s followers are a religion or similar belief system, but you all do believe that astrotheology was the seed of Christian origins. Sorry I said you were all united by beliefs. You did not say that here and I misread you in haste. But you are united by the belief in astrotheology as the originating idea of Christianity, are you not? And you do all admit that the evidence for your belief has been destroyed, yes? So that you only have tenuous cryptic clues that you must piece together as all the “evidence” there is, — even though there is no direct evidence linking astrotheology to Christian origins. We have been through all of this.
Yes, I do speak of cult-like narcissistic reactions among you and your colleagues. I have defended my claims. All you do is reply that you are not a “cult” or religion in any formal sense, which is quite beside the point. That I am accused of “vitriol” and “attacking” Murdock and your beliefs speaks for itself. This is a tribal cultic type of reaction to anyone daring to speak critically of your views.
Hi Neil,I agree with many of the things you present but I think you are missing the boat on the astrotheology thing. You said “there is no direct evidence linking astrotheology to Christian origins”. I’m not sure what that means. We don’t have direct evidence for numerous origins. Maybe I missed what you are referring to but I think it is almost impossible to deny an astrological connection from what I have looked up. Have you ever done research on Hellenistic astrology? I hadn’t, but as soon as I did,I couldn’t deny the connection. I have spent 10 years researching this stuff and wrote a paper I would love for you to give me your thoughts on.
I suggest you look back and read my comments on this. Of course ancients believed in astrology and it is found in the Bible, too. I am not interested in your paper, though, because it is clear you cannot be bothered to do your homework with what I have already said on the subject.
Ok, that clarifies things somewhat better. It’s just that the way you kept tossing belief and cult around it did seem to me that you’re under the impression that we’re some astrotheological religion. I guess that you just didn’t break it down enough to where I could see that actually do understand that we are not. And now I see that you do understand so I’ll leave it alone.
The next point of confusion or communication is this:
Neil Godfrey wrote: “But you are united by the belief in astrotheology as the originating idea of Christianity, are you not? And you do all admit that the evidence for your belief has been destroyed, yes? So that you only have tenuous cryptic clues that you must piece together as all the “evidence” there is, — even though there is no direct evidence linking astrotheology to Christian origins. We have been through all of this.”
You mean to say that we believe the astrotheologial origins theory to be accurate? Yes, most of her fans do believe that it’s accurate.
But the evidence for astrotheological origins is found in what remains of Philo and Josephus on Judaism and it’s origins, and Paul’s writings which are still extant which outline a dying and rising savior motif which was a common solar and organic life cycle mythology of the time. And the gospels laying out astrological and astrotheological material and expanding on what was started in Paul. In short we’re looking at an unbroken chain of astrotheological allegory tracing from Judaism itself through to Paul to the Gospels. None of this evidence is destroyed of course, it’s still extant and it’s simply the same writings that everyone is using to try and deduce Christian origins.
The only thing that is not extant is a lot of the mysteries which were not written down, the precession material from Hipparchus was extant and quoted but didn’t survive past the 4th century, and other minor issues that tie into astrotheology but do not make or break the theory in and of itself. Astrotheological origins are about the solar and organic life cycles and appear to extend into precession as well. We can make these cases as they arise in your chapter by chapter analysis though. The direct evidence will come from quotations and passages from Philo, Josephus, Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Revelation, among other sources. We can look at the citations along the way and just basically see where they lead.
Well I’m glad you finally understand (compare my response to Josh: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/falling-out/#comment-36939).
I would never want anyone to think I considered astrotheology adherents to be an organized religion like Seventh Day Adventism. It is reassuring that you are more concerned about anyone thinking of your fellows as making up an organized religion or cult than that you bothered by others noticing cultish thought-patterns, behaviour and reactions among you all.
As for your well-grounded evidence for astrotheology being the root of Christian origins, one does wonder why one would seek an introduction from a conspiracy theorist who stands as an epitome of fallacious reasoning. Your “evidence” is only more of the same — yes, I know, you can spill out many thousands of words more of the same still, enough to keep us going in circles forever — but these sorts of “evidences” were addressed in vain in our previous discussions. Hint: Read the links to logical fallacies that I include in my post and think seriously if any of them apply to astrotheology.
Yes, I know a lot about the place of astrology in the ancient world, and even in the Bible, and just piling on more and more examples does nothing to advance an argument that is logically flawed.
Acharya S describes herself as a “mystic” and “part and parcel of the Creative Life Force that permeates the cosmos” below. From here http://www.hiddenmysteries.org/author/acharyaS/atheist.shtml :
I have no problem with this. Marcus Borg and John Crossan and John Spong and James McGrath and Larry Hurtado are all religious or mystics, too. Freke and Gandy and Murdock are also religious in the sense of having a spiritual of mystic belief or frame of reference to things (I’ve never been naive enough to think they are an “organized religion” with the meaning we generally attach to that phrase.)
What I have a problem with is when people attempt to deny or hide where they are really coming from, or to deny that their personal religious/spiritual/mystical belief system biases their arguments that clearly have a stake in their beliefs. Freke and Gandy were easy to read because they acknowledged their bias and interest up-front.
It is when people seem to be bent on hiding their interests that alarm bells start ringing in my head. I don’t know if Murdock does that — I get the impression from the scattered bits I have read of Christ Conspiracy so far that she is quite open about her views. It is her “followers”(?) that worry me. But that leads me to worry about their guiding light, too.
I am reminded all too clearly of my first-hand knowledge of my cult years about how a socially-less-than-fully-desirable-religion would bend over backwards with strategies to market themselves as something they were not — even to the extent of hiring PR and advertizing agencies to do their work for them.
So when Murdock recommended I read her book “Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of the Christ?”, and when I did so, I was left wondering “What was all that about?” She said nothing new — it was all the same old fundamentals one knew from Wells and Doherty and Price (not that they epitomized fundamentals — they both went well beyond them) — so what was the point of the book? I can only surmise that it is a front to get a foot in the door of those who would normally never give the time of day to her views if they knew the full story up-front.
Irony of ironies…
It’s nice to see that these two twins, fortigurn and burke, have their own asylum to play in. “They” are incapable of reasoning two steps in a straight line whenever engaging anyone contrary to “their” belief system.
Ok, I guess that settles it.
That she’s a Pantheist is obvious and pretty much goes without saying, it’s the mystic part that I never really saw her as. I belong to the world Pantheist Movement and Pantheist.net myself because after reading a lot about mythology from Joseph Campbell I realized that I was more or less in agreement the notion that God is merely a metaphor for the mystery of the existence of everything. Not an entity or being but just a mythological description of the whole of existence and our connection to the whole. She was inspired by Campbell too and may have had similar realizations going on after going from Christianity to freethinking. I guess it’s just that I don’t really look at natural pantheists as mystics along the lines of the esoteric Theosophists, Freemasons, and others who clearly are mystics. They are into supernaturalism and we are not so I tend to stay clear of the word mystic because of it’s association with supernaturalism which I lack belief in. But if she’s willing to entitle herself as a mystic then I suppose that you’re justified in calling her as such Neil.
Why did you not say that at the outset? Flatly denying she was a mystic while failing to explain what she was that gave others the impression she was a mystic only led to distrust: it appeared you were in flat denial of something others thought they saw. It is as if her supporters are too quick to over-defend her by implicitly conveying false impressions. This sort of weasle-word game is the way religion is played. No-one reading her website for the first time is going to think she is an outright secularist. Her mystical or pantheistic or new age or spiritual style interests are written into the very design of her website. If none of those words fit your precise understanding then just give me the word you are looking for. But don’t try to kid anyone she is something she is not.
There may be some valid criticism throughout these blogs on ‘The Christ Conspiracy’ but, it’s difficult to see due to the derogatory comments, insults and vitriol.
Rather than waste time attacking this 13-year old book for which Acharya S has already announced a 2nd edition why not simply blog her more recent mythicist position video and article and have an objective and honest discussion instead? I was under the impression that this blog was actually interested in the case for mythicism. Am I mistaken?
The Mythicist Position – illustrated article:
[Neil’s note: The following video clip has been posted on this blog nearly half a dozen times already by commenters so I am removing its tiresome graphic posted this time by “Valerie” from this thread].
Unfounded accusations that I am writing vitriol and insult are themselves abusive trolling. Murdock herself accused me of insult and vitriol and her accusation was false. It looks very much to me that any honest criticism of her is going to be interpreted as insult or vitriolic abuse. This demonstrates to me that there is an intolerance of any criticism, period. Other authors have corrected me if I have made erroneous criticisms of their works and where justified I have corrected my posts and apologized. Murdock is quite welcome to do the same. Telling others not to read this blog and accusing me of vitriol and personal abuse indicates to me that she interprets any criticism of her arguments as a personal attack.
You should read more of my posts, and in particular my page “About Vridar” where I have repeatedly made it clear that I am not on a crusade for mythicism. I am interested in scholarly approach to exploring Christian origins. Where the arguments are valid and interesting and informative I will often write about them, whether they support mythicism or not. If the arguments are bad I will avoid them or criticized them, even if they are for mythicism.
Murdock’s arguments are classic illustrations of logical fallacies. All her supporters here have repeated the same logical fallacies. Tulip even attempts to re-write one of the fallacies so it is no longer a fallacy when he uses it; and Murdock has accused my methods — adhering to logically valid arguments — of being cult-like and something to be avoided (though of course she does not spell out explicitly that my method is nothing but a scientifically valid-logical approach to the question.)
I have answered your question about why I am reviewing this book in particular and not another in response to tat’s comment #2 above.
It is curious, though, that though I am told by you and tat and others that it is an old book I should not be wasting my time with, I am told by often the same people that it is a good book that I am misrepresenting anyway and any criticism I make of it is unfounded. Curious.
Err, Neil, your very first comment is an insult and a lie:
“Recently I have been chastised by Acharya S (D. M. Murdock) and some of her followers for failing to give the attention and prominence (one of them wanted to do a guest post on my blog) to their views that they demand they deserve.”
You imply to your readers that it was Acharya’s doing but, she had nothing to do with it as she never posted here nor did she read your blogs. She merely responded to quotes from you and others at Freethought Nation.
There is no doubt that even the creation of these blogs about her book ‘The Christ Conspiracy’ were intentionally to insult and attack her. You’ve said yourself that you’ve never been able to make it through a complete page of her work. So, blogging that old book now brings disingenuous intentions to mind.
You’ve brought in other topics just to bludgeon her with such as Kenn Thomas, the Yucatan and assorted conspiracy theorists websites and comments like:
“(I am loathe to refer to her by the authoritative title under which she wrote this book, being ever mindful, as I am, of Jesus’ admonition to call no man “Master” and no woman “Acharya”)?”
In your link above at the ‘librarything’ you posted a comment from 06 trashing the book.
So, you had no problem finding trash to sling but, failed to find her errata page:
“This page does not correct the writing style or grammar, such as misplaced periods, errant commas or wordiness found in the book The Christ Conspiracy, which was released in September 1999. Rather, it serves to provide a list of typos and errors that affect the accuracy of the text. It should be kept in mind that the author had no assistance with this book, as she researched, wrote, typed, edited, proofread, typeset and did the illustrations and cover design and execution by herself. All of this work was done without any funding and with only the author’s personal library…”
I’m taken a back as I expected something far more honest from you Neil. You are doing a disservice here and you should be ashamed for it.
Submitted on 2012/10/17 at 1:02 am
Neil and others, what does mystic or mysticism mean to you? How would you define them?
I have allowed this comment through in order to show the sorts of attacks that from Murdock or Murdock’s supporters that have been launched against me since I started blogging on “The Christ Conspiracy”.
Astrotheology advocates — including Murdock herself — complained that I had “suppressed” and “ignored” their arguments, and one had complained that the discussion was confined to comments sections in posts that were only partly related to astrotheology and wanted me to let him post a full blogpost here on his views.
So my opening paragraph is not a lie and certainly not an insult.
I had been accused of dismissing astrotheology without really acquainting myself with the arguments, so when I started to review the book that makes a case for it I thought I would be able to demonstrate more clearly than I had in comments what I found wanting in those arguments.
My focus on the beginning of the book in my beginning posts was to introduce us to where the author was coming from. There was no personal attack. I do the same with the bias or faith positions of other scholars, too.
Other scholars have responded civilly, sometimes facetiously, to my criticisms, and all that is fine and good. If I have made mistakes some will correct me and I will make any changes necessary. I have treated Murdock no differently — but she and her supporters have taken my criticisms as personal attacks, which they are not. I made it very clear that I have no problem at all with Murdock being a mystic or whatever term is appropriate, but that it is important that we are aware of where she is coming from just as it is significant to know the backgrounds of historical Jesus scholars who discover a Jesus in their own image, or compatible with their religious beliefs, too.
I invite M. D. Murdock and any of her followers to dissociate themselves from the personal abuse in “Scott’s” comment here and demonstrate that they repudiate its manner, tone, accusations, and assure me that they are worth partners for civil exchange when there is a difference or disagreement of views.
I actually inquired about the mystic and mysticism thing because it doesn’t really gel with what I’ve read of her modern works. I was not familiar with the quotation presented here where she was tossing the mystic terms around so freely. It’s looks like an old article from years back and I wondered if she still feels that way or if anything has changed. Like I was saying earlier, to my knowledge Murdock has a very open natural pantheist leaning in philosophical outlook, and she’s very much into humanism and secular affairs. But nowhere remotely close to MP Hall or any of the esoterics who delve into the astrotheology of the ancients.
From the desk of DM Murdock:
Mystic or freethinker – who cares?
“As for one offhand comment written many years ago – almost TWO DECADES – in a short essay/rant that is meaningless to my work beyond the fact that it disposes of the notion that I am necessarily an “atheist”…
…Let us look at the word “mystic,” which I used once in a poetic essay because people were always trying to label me. Contrary to the frantic hysteria of militant atheism, “mystic” is not a dirty word that we should rant and rage over, like some freaked out Inquisitors bent on burning witches. The most appropriate definition of what I was trying to say there is: “of obscure or mysterious character or significance.” What I was attempting to convey is that I do not label myself either an “atheist” or “theist,” as I consider it my right to think as is appropriate in any given moment. The best description of that mentality, perhaps, is “freethinker.” At the time of my writing, I had been studying Eastern mysticism for years – STUDY, that’s how one actually learns about something – so I used that language, which is that of “the mysteries.”
…I have not been concerned with it since then, as I prefer the term “freethinker.” If I must wear labels, I would include “mythicist,” “secularist,” “constitutionalist” and so on. What I called myself almost 20 years ago in a short and poetical essay is absolutely irrelevant to the FACTS that I bring forth.”
Needless to say she took this an attempt to distract attention away from her actual work. But that’s also because – as I’m sure you all can imagine – Christian apologists have long sought out anything remotely mystical about Murdock in order to bring forward satanic accusations, NWO ties, and the usual nonsense that goes along with apologetics. They’ve dug up hippy chick looking photos from her past that look New Age and all sorts of things to try and distract attention away from the work itself.
Oh my goodness! Is that what the fuss is all about? You think my use of the word “mystic” is pejorative — that I use it as a dirty word? Well that never crossed my mind — why would anyone use it as a dirty word? It is simply a description of a person who holds a certain view of things. — Good grief! Recall I have twice said that I have no problem with Murdock or anyone being a mystic or spiritual or whatever. All that matters is that a person’s position is laid out for all to know when they argue a case. It may not be the correct label among those who are “in the know” but for outsiders it is quite reasonable for giving us some idea of the general position of someone. If anyone takes offence then simply calmly explain why it is inaccurate and what term I should use.
All this personal attack against me — all this assumption that my own posts are personal attacks when they are nothing of the kind — all this is way over the top and has, as far as I am concerned, completely discredited Murdock and her supporters as genuinely capable of reasoned, scholarly exchanges of views and criticisms.
I would be interested to know if anyone has been allowed to get away with any criticism of Murdock’s views whatever without being accused of personally attacking her or of being a bigot or psychologically deficient in some way.
“Tat Tvan Asi” — do you dissociate yourself from “Scott’s” comment #14 above? A direct yes or no answer will do.
I have to say yes Neil.
A) Murdock responded to quotations posted at her forum, and to my knowledge she hasn’t read any of these blogs yet.
B) The book review of the CC came in direct response to your taking offense to what Murdock said about you at her forum, which was itself instigated by what you had been saying about her @ your own blog: “Thoroughly chastened, I have decided to go back and take the time to read more carefully The Christ Conspiracy than I did some years ago and to give it a full-scale chapter-by-chapter review.”
C) You have been rather derogatory about her and her book going into the review and from the angle of some one who is upset about the way in which she responded to the quotations from you that she’d read.
If I am to look to you as an example of a well educated, scholary, fair and balanced critic innocently questioning the motivation behind the writer in review as you have set forward, well then I must also take the example you’ve set forward and ask the next logical question which is whether or not there’s any motivation or premeditated bias transparent in the well educated, scholary, and supposedly fair and balanced critic providing the review.
In this case the answer would appear to be yes.
I think your Yes means No. Yes would mean that you do dissociate yourself from the sentiments in that comment. No would mean you do not dissociate yourself — and it is clear from your explanation that that is what you meant.
I am putting all further comments from you and anyone else in support of Murdock’s position until I hear something positive from them. As long as you and others — including Murdock herself, it appears — clearly see any criticism as a personal vendetta or attack, and are incapable of a reasoned discussion of different viewpoints, then I will have nothing more to do with any of you.
I really do hope for a more positive response. (Does Murdock allow anyone to criticize her views and arguments without being insulted and abused in return?)
I had always ignored Murdock’s publications till now, for most part, simply because I was not interested in her approach to things. But recent communications with Robert Tulip, Tat and co, and seeing Murdock’s own response some time back to my posts, have really left me shocked. I had always deplored personal attacks on Murdock and said so more than once.
Now I finally am beginning to see what all the fuss has been about. If this is the way Murdock and her followers come across to others then they have excluded themselves from any right to a place at the table of reasoned, scholarly discourse and engagement.
See the meaning of dissociate here: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dissociate
Neil, she’s mainly upset with you because you’ve been quoted specifically throwing out red herrings, poisoning the well, and offering assorted logical fallacies which started this mess in the first place. Your actions have resulted in reactions.
And you haven’t bothered to apologize for any of the logical fallacies you’ve raised against her so far. It’s as if you don’t even understand or realize that you’ve been committing all of these various logical fallacies in the first place, even though you’ve linked to a long list of logical fallacies at the top of this very post. Have you not first read up on red herrings and poisoning the well before setting out to write your book review?
This is a classic illustration of my point made at http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/review-part-2-of-acharya-ss-the-christ-conspiracy/#comment-37118
I have been asking for clear examples of where I have misrepresented or been unfair but of course no instance has been substantiated. The objections raised have been themselves vague sweeping generalizations and personal attacks on me. Tat and Murdock will never see that they are projecting their own sins onto me. If I have been guilty of these things then they can engage in a civil discourse and address the issues. Other authors I have criticized have been able to do this, but not Murdock. Answers that I have already given are always ignored.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Murdock’s fans know just wee bit too much about their idol for us to believe Ms. Murdock wasn’t defending herself.
[Remainder of this comment has been deleted because it is using insulting language. Contrary to what Murdock and her followers say, I have never posted personally abusive and insulting comments about Murdock and have always deplored them. — Neil]
I am familiar with her style and it becomes increasingly clear that she has no intention of learning anything through constructive criticism.