“Christ Conspiracy” chapter 3: The Holy Forgery Mill

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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.


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23 thoughts on ““Christ Conspiracy” chapter 3: The Holy Forgery Mill”

  1. Somewhere around 2001 I became interested in the mythicist arguments (did not even know that term then). I bought three books. Price, Doherty and Acharya S/D. M. Murdock. Price made the most sense to me. Doherty was compelling. Acharya S seemed shoddy and full of polemic. I have continued to follow Doherty and Price, but never thought of Acharya S again until the conflagration in your blog. Do what you must, but don’t do it on my account.

  2. Im all for correcting inaccurances in Acharya S/DMs books where they are wrong but its also fair to state a few times when she is right. Does she go to far on some accounts, of course she does, but she does have interesting and valid points.

    1. You are not reading my posts with any comprehension. Nothing in my post here has said she is “wrong”. I am pointing out the nature of the work as I see it. It is not conducive to intellectual understanding or real education and learning. Your own arguments seem to be an unfortunate product of her style and failure of intellectual argument. If she has valid points that I have so far missed then you are free to make corrections here.

      1. But that’s just it, Neil, you have consistently refused to allow the record to be set straight in these vitriolic blogs attacking Acharya. She has made corrections as well as substantiated many of her claims with primary sources and provided support from scholars in her newer books, blogs and articles.

        You have refused to put through posts by those trying to help point out where she has made corrections or back up her claims over the last 12 years since Christ Conspiracy came out in 99 but, you just attack them as you have mP above or refuse to put those posts through at all. It’s as if you’re only allowing commenters who attack Acharya feel comfortable here while anybody who posts anything positive are run off by you.

        This entire Christ Conspiracy blog series is just a biased attack on your part and is not to be taken seriously. It’s embarrassing to watch you do this since I normally enjoy reading your blogs but, in this case, your biases is as transparent as glass for all to see. I’ve lost an enormous amount of respect for the Vridar blog.


        You probably won’t put this post through either.

        1. I welcome any corrections to any of the posts I have made. Or if there have been any revisions made to anything I have addressed so far in subsequent works, I very much would like to know of them, too. So far I have received none.

        1. My posts are based enitrely upon my own reading of the source material and my own personal experiences with supporters of astrotheology. If you had fundamental reading comprehension skills and did not rely on others to tell you what to think you would have seen that.

          What really scares me is that most supporters of “her book” evidently lack basic literacy competencies and critical thinking skills. Had you read my posts you would see the evidence that I have had no interest in — and in fact have often been appalled by — the secondary information that I have encountered. As for those who are better educated, at least one of them resorts to redefining quite blatantly the fundamentals of logical fallacies in order to “validate” his own arguments.

          1. I do. Your only option is to attack her (Murdock) cause you have nothing else……being a book publisher does not make you a New Testament scholar or Astronomer does it? Counter blog in order here.

            1. Christians behaving badly behave better than the arachnarcists appearing here on this blog. Come on guys, try reading for comprehension and applying critical thinking to what you read.

              1. I cannot be sure that “Kritter” is actually someone posing as an astrotheology supporter in order to mock them. I have deleted more comments by astrotheology supporters (real or pretend) than I have let through over the past several months. Some have since given up posting here. And after I read that they were wanting me to continue discussing issues on their own discussion forum — the same tactic as J. P. Holding uses and that James McGrath eventually adopted — I have ignored their venues. (Wow, should I really be surprised that I have referenced Holding, McGrath and Murdock’s supporters all in the one comment theme?)

              2. I see you will delete anyone that does not agree with you…one sided views seem to be the order of the day here…..if your removing posts made by those who support astrotheology what does that say about you? Neilmarr?

              3. Well you should read the latest exchange between pithom and me — pithom disagrees with me and I allow his comments through. So you should consider the possibility that most of your own comments have been deleted for some other reason. Please check the Comments and Moderation Policy for this blog. When you demonstrate that you have comprehended the argument of the post or comment to which you are responding then your comments will be most welcome here — especially if they advance a critical-alternative view.

              4. This is their standard accusation though: critics have never read her books in the first place, and their criticism is therefore not to be taken into account. This is why I provide ample quotes in my tediously detailed review. Acharya S’s fans are just as credulous as religious fanatics.

  3. Just curious. Wheless I can read free on the web. Polemical, but I thought pretty well backed up by evidence. What (briefly) think you of Forgery in Christianity?

    Whereas the Grafton book referenced will certainly never be read by me, listing at nearly $600 on Amazon!

    I do get a lot here, for free, and am very grateful for your efforts.

    1. Unfortunately CC selects catchy polemical conclusions from Wheless without any reference to supporting material.

      I’m glad I ordered my copy of Grafton when a $5 copy was available online. I’ve since posted on some of its contents here.

  4. Before this blog I used to write a lot alerting others to the way cults attracted members, the way they manipulated and the damage they did. Nothing I wrote would have had any immediate impact on believing cult members. But it was important not to let threats and attempts at intimidation stop me from writing of those observations and experiences. Similarly I think no harm is done by making it clear why I do not accept the arguments of astrotheology and to demonstrate that I have indeed engaged with their case. Nothing I say will have any interest for those who are not interested in the subject or those committed to it, but I don’t think they are the only ones who might come across these posts.

  5. Wonder when my blog will be threatened with legal action; after all, I do quote a significant proportion of her text, so that I cannot be accused of not having read her book.

    I will point out, by the way, that her claim that “pious fraud” was invented in reaction to Christian practices is clearly false, as the phrase can be found in a book penned as early as 8CE.

    1. “I doubt these people can be reached by any rational arguments ever.”

      This has been the most stunning aspect of engaging them in argument — they are arguing for a belief, not a thesis. All the classic fallacies used to argue for Creationism against Evolution are encountered again. And the same dogmatism and persecution syndrome. “Cult” comes to mind.

  6. I can’t understand why you’re still spending your time on the ‘scholarship’ of 21st century theosophists. You’ve shown them for what they are by now, pretty clearly.

    Btw, “You probably won’t put this post through either” (and the like) has got to be the best gotcha line of all time. The people who use it must feel quite accomplished since they manage to outsmart people so awesomely. Wowzerz!!!@!@!

    1. Actually I never noticed the “I bet you won’t post this” line till after I let it through, and as soon as I did I uttered a Homeric “Doh!” I have let the poster win the bet with that line more often than not.

      Please just ignore anything I post for the “in-betweens” re astrotheology and Murdock. They’re not for you. Read Tim’s stuff instead.

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