The True Word
Celsus was a Greek philosopher who wrote a penetrating analysis of the flaws in Christian theology in the year 177. I’d imagine there were many opponents to Christianity at the time like Celsus who were devoted to common sense and rational thought, but Celsus alone survived the test of time, and, in fact, his book Contra Celsum, only survived through parts quoted inside a rebuttal written fifty years later by Origen, who would soon find himself excommunicated because he failed to subscribe to the trinity concept. Celsus was condemned as a heretic by order of Valentinian III and Theodosious in 448, and all his writings destroyed.
It is clear the writings of the Christians are lies, and their fables are not well-enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction. I have heard many of their scribes, aware of the inconsistencies, pen in hand, alter original writings, three, four and several more times in order to conceal the contradictions in the face of criticism. There’s nothing new or impressive about Christianity, which is simple-minded when compared with other religions.
One ought to first follow reason as a guide before accepting any belief. Anyone who believes without testing a doctrine is certain to be deceived. Imagine what a Jew—let alone a philosopher—might say to Jesus. “Is it not true, good sir, that you fabricated the story of your birth from a virgin to quiet rumors about the true circumstances of your origins? Is it not the case that far from being born in the royal David’s city of Bethlehem, you were born in a poor country town?”
Jesus came from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery with a soldier named Panthéra. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain magical powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god. I could continue along these lines, suggesting a good deal about the affairs of Jesus’ life that does not appear in official Christian records. Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories. For example, the nonsensical idea Jesus foresaw everything that was to happen to him (an obvious attempt to conceal the humiliating facts).
The men who invented this story were insistent Jesus was descended from the first man and from the king of the Jews. The poor carpenter’s wife seems not to have known she had such a distinguished bunch of ancestors. What an absurdity! Clearly the Christians have used the myths of Danae and the Melanippe, and of the Auge and the Antiope in fabricating the story of a virgin birth. After all, the old myths of the Greeks attribute a divine birth to Perseus, Amphion, Aeacus and Minos and are certainly no less lacking in plausibility than the Christian stories.
Now perhaps you will argue that we have the words of the prophets who foretold the coming of a messiah. With due respect, I must ask why is Jesus to taken as the subject of the prophecies, rather than the thousands of others? What can be applied to Jesus can surely be applied to others. This is a very old ploy—anyone can prove anything from so-called prophecy. These same prophecies could easily be applied to others besides Jesus, for our prophets say that the “one who is to come will be a great prince and leader of nations and armies.”
But when you claim things like, “I am god,” or “I am son of god,” or even “I am holy spirit,” or “I have come to bring life for the world is coming to an end as I speak. And the wicked will perish in the fire for their sins. Only I can save you. You will yet see me, for I will return armed with heavenly powers, so blessed is he that worships me now. As for those who refuse, whole cities and nations will be cast into the fiery pit, while those who believe in me will be saved.” This sort of thing is heard every day all over Judea coming from the mouth of every two-bit prophet.
Christians are fond of saying that in the old days the Jewish god made great promises to those who followed his commandments. But at the risk of appearing unkind, I ask how much good has been demonstrated to these people, and why would anyone put faith in such a God, when instead of being masters of the universe, the Jews have no home?
Certainly the Christians are not alone in claiming inspiration for utterances they ascribe to their god through their prophets. I need hardly mention every case of prophecy that is said to have occurred among our own people—prophets and prophetesses as well—claiming the power of oracular and inspired utterance.
Let’s assume for a minute that Jesus foretold his resurrection. Are you ignorant of the multitudes who have invented similar tales to lead simple-minded hearers astray? It is said that Zamolxis, Pythagoras’ servant, convinced the Scythians that he had risen from the dead. And what about Pythagoras himself in Italy! Or Rhampssinitus in Egypt. The last of these, by the way, is said to have played dice with Demeter in Hades and to have received a golden napkin as a present from her. And what about Orpheus among the Odrysians, Protesiaus in Thessaly, and above all Heracles and Theseus?
The Christians postulate, for example, that their messiah will return as a conqueror on the clouds, will rain fire upon the earth in his battle with the princes of the air, and the whole world, with the exception of believing Christians, will be consumed in fire. An interesting idea—and hardly an original one. The idea came from Greeks and others—namely, that after cycles of years and because of fortuitous conjunctions of certain stars there are conflagrations and floods, and that after the last flood, in the time of Deucalion, the cycle demands a conflagration in accordance with the alternating succession. This is what is responsible for the silly opinion of some Christians that god will come down and rain fire upon the earth.
It is equally silly of these Christians to suppose that when their god applies the fire (like a common cook!), all the rest of mankind will be thoroughly scorched, and that they alone will escape unburned—not just those alive at the time, mind you, but even the long dead will rise up from the earth possessing the same bodies as they did in life. I ask you, is this not the hope of worms? For what sort of human soul is it that has any use for a rotted corpse of a body? It is nothing less than nauseating and impossible.
In truth there’s nothing at all unusual about what the Christians believe, except that they believe it to the exclusion of more comprehensive truths about god. They believe in eternal punishment. Well, so do the priests and initiates of the various religions. The Christian threaten others with this punishment, just as they are themselves threatened. God does not inflict correction on the world as if he were some unskilled laborer who is incapable of building something properly the first time around. God has no need to purify what he has built by means of a flood or a conflagration.
So too their fantastic story—which they take from the Jews—concerning the flood and the building of an enormous ark, and the business about the message being brought back to the survivors of the flood by a dove (or was it an old crow?). This is nothing more than a debased and nonsensical version of the myth of Deucalion, a fact I am sure they would not want to come light.
“Many of the ideas of the Christians have been expressed better—and earlier—by the Greeks, who were however modest enough to refrain from saying that their ideas came from a god or a son of god. The ancients in their wisdom revealed certain truths to those able to understand: Plato, son of Ariston, points to the truth about the highest good when he says that it cannot be expressed in words, but rather comes from familiarity—like a flash from the blue, imprinting itself upon the soul. But Plato, having said this, does not go on to record some myth to make his point (as do so many others), nor does he silence the inquirer who questions some of the truths he professes. Plato does not ask people to stop questioning, or to accept that god is like such and such. Rather, he tells us where his doctrines come from. There is, in short, a history to what he says, and he is happy to point to the sources of his knowledge, instead of asking us to believe that he speaks on his own authority.
Not only do they misunderstand the words of the philosophers; they even stoop to assigning words of the philosophers to their Jesus. For example, we are told that Jesus judged the rich with the saying “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of god.” Yet we know that Plato expressed this very idea in a purer form when he said, “It is impossible for an exceptionally good man to be exceptionally rich.” Is one utterance more inspired than the other?
“You Christians have a saying that goes something like this: “Don’t resist a man who insults you; even if he strikes you, offer your other cheek as well.” This is nothing new, and its been better said by others, especially by Plato, who ascribes the following to Socrates in the Crito. “Tis never right to do wrong and never right to take revenge, nor is it right to give evil for evil, or in the case of one who has suffered some injury, to attempt to get even.”
Christians, needless to say, utterly detest one another. They slander each other constantly with the vilest forms of abuse, and cannot come to any sort of agreement in their teaching. Each sect brands its own, fills the head of its own with deceitful nonsense. They say, “First believe that the person who tells us these things is god’s son. Now if these believers confess Jesus and others confess someone else, and if they all together have the slogan “Believe and be saved, or damn you,” what is to happen to those who really do want to be saved? I mean, which path are they to follow, since advice of the same sort comes from all quarters? Are the ones who crave salvation to throw dice in order to find out where they should turn?
Homer writes as follows of the words spoken by Hephaestus to Hera: “Once when I was ready to defend you, he took my by the foot and cast me down from the heavenly places.” Zeus speaks to Hera as follows, “Do you remember when you were hanging on high, when I attached anvils to his legs and cast unbroken chains of gold about your arms? You were hanging high in the ether of clouds. Then the gods struck, but I, seizing him, pitched him from the threshold of heaven, and he fell helplessly to earth.”
If the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve are truly creator’s works, can it be that god should make what is evil? How can he repent when they become ungrateful or wicked? How can he find fault with his own handiwork, or threaten to destroy his own offspring? Where is he to banish them, out of the world that he himself has made? I mean, if it is accepted that all of nature—everything in the world—operates according to the will of god and that nothing works contrary to his purposes, then it must be also be accepted that the angels, the demons, heroes—everything in the universe—are subject to the rule of the great god who rules over all.