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An ancient Christian conspiracy to hijack a pagan miracle

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posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 06:30 AM
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I am not a fan of Richard Carrier, but I think his talk at the most recent Skepticon meeting is both entertaining and informative.

www.youtube.com...

Carrier focuses on a historical detective story, which begins when Marcus Aurelius' surrounded and unsupplied troops in central Europe were rescued from crushing defeat by a thunderstorm. They attributed this timely rain to the services of an Egyptian sorcerer in their company, who called upon the gods for help.

The Christian writers of the era nearly rewrote history to make this a Christian miracle, and indeed, succeeded for about a thousand years, only for the truth to creep back into Western Europe with a single rediscovered Greek-language document. The document was the key to unlock surivivng physical evidence about what really happened, and that the original religious interpretation of the incident was in fact non-Christian.

Apart from some little PG-13 locker-room langauge, and a few ad hominem swipes by Carrier at long-dead opponents, I don't see why a living Christian couldn't enjoy and maybe learn from the talk. For a counterapologist, it is a nice example of how to make a case with power and without rancor, apart from the few and flaccid sophomoric lapses already noted. And regardless of religious perspective, it is a nice explanation of how historians think, which is a useful skill if you're interested in conspiracies.




posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 08:54 AM
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reply to post by eight bits
 





The Christian writers of the era nearly rewrote history to make this a Christian miracle, and indeed, succeeded for about a thousand years, only for the truth to creep back into Western Europe with a single rediscovered Greek-language document. The document was the key to unlock surivivng physical evidence about what really happened, and that the original religious interpretation of the incident was in fact non-Christian.


Can you explain and describe to us what this "surviving physical evidence" was and how it proved anything?

We all know that back in the day of Moses, that there was a magic competition that took place between Moses and Egyptian sorcerers to prove who's God had the most power, so how does this compare?



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 09:33 AM
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Carrier talks about how to think critically about history generally, using miracles as an entertaining example. Builds on his talk last year on Bayes' Theorem, but this time it's more about method than math, and surveys a lot of real-world examples of miracles from the ancient world (pagan, Jewish and Christian). Summarizes some of what is covered in much more detail in his book.


This wouldn't be the first time history was hijacked by religion. It certainly won't be the last. I'll be giving this a look see. Thanks for posting it.



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 10:00 AM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


It might be true.

We can easily imagine how the miracle stories were written in bible IF we have enough historical proofs (luckily we do have)



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 10:13 AM
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I think many of the miracles from the bible have very natural explanations. Jesus' miracles for example: walking on water, turning water into wine, and feeding 5,000 people with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread can all be explained naturally.

Jesus walking on water is an attribute to the sun, whenever the sun rises or sets on the beach it looks as though the sun touches down then "walks" over the horizon, or walks from over the horizon up into the sky.

Turning water into wine can also be attributed to the sun. With water and the sun, a grape vine will grow which you in turn can turn into wine.

Feeding 5,000 can be attributed to life itself. With two fish (male and female) many fish will be born and then more from them and so on. With the seed from a loaf of bread you can make many stalks of wheat which in turn you can turn into more bread and so on until you have enough to feed 5,000 people.

I don't believe Jesus actually did any of those things, only that they were added in later to make Jesus seem like more than a regular man.

ETA: As for the title, pagans are the ones who hijacked Christianity, not the other way around.
edit on 13-1-2013 by 3NL1GHT3N3D1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 10:34 AM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


After some further research, I'm not sure that there was ever a "miracle" at all.

If anything miraculous would have happened, wouldn't Marcus Aurelius have given us just a little bit of a hint in his "Meditations" writings during that period?

Of course, much like today, one person's miracle is another person's every day event.



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 11:18 AM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


So there was no miracle, Christian, Egyptian, Pagan or anything. Just a common or garden thunderstorm and a lot of ignorant people, easily deluded ......

That's how religion works.



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 12:26 PM
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Thanks to everybody who wrote in. On a few points arising:

Hi, Deetermined

The case is made especially well in the video. If you're looking for something written, this might help:

www.livius.org...

As the (later added) title suggests, Meditations isn't a military memoir, so I am unsure why you would expect to find this battle discussed there.


We all know that back in the day of Moses, ...


Marcus Aurelius is a better documented figure than Moses, and more recent. There was no "magician's contest." An incident involving pagans following their religion was retold as if it had happened to Christians following their religion. By an amazing coincidence, no pagan's written report of the incident survived in the West, and even the existence of a non-Christian side of the story was unknown until the rediscovery of the Greek written heritage during the Renaissance.

Ironically, that first Greek report quoted the pagan report in order to refute it. However, the physical evidence favors the pagan account, although that wouldn't have been known until relatively recently.


AndyMayhew

While a rainstorm is obviously a natural occurrence, this one's timing (both as to tactical importance and by following the sorcerer's invocation) and the asymmetric specificity of damages and benefits (the thirsty Romans got water to drink while the enemy's battle gear was destroyed or neutralized) explain the imputation of supernatural agency to its occurence.

A lot of people think that way today, here's a famous example, only about 70 years old:

www.generalpatton.com...

It stopped raining, the beleaguered American position at Bastogne was resupplied by air, and then some serious German butt was kicked.

"Miracle" just means a remarkable event (Look!), usually one for which a supernatural explanation is offered, and once offered, whether or not that explanation prevails. The remarkable ancient event in question really happened, and an explanation of the expected kind was offered, twice in this case. I am not proposing that either "side's" theory be accepted.

The conspiracy was for one side to "steal" the other side's miracle, and the effort was wildly successful for an amazingly long time. It's >ahem< a bit of a miracle that they ever got caught.
edit on 13-1-2013 by eight bits because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 12:59 PM
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S/F!!
Just finished watching this,
and have the "case against the resurrection" lecture (by Dr Carrier as well) queued up for viewing next.

Just a Q:
This guy seems to have his head on VERY STRAIGHT. Why would you not be a "fan"?

Anyway, awesome new-to-me "source", thanks very much for posting it!



posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 02:24 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


The reason I raised such a question is because it doesn't appear through Aurelius' writings that he himself gave much notion to the idea that "gods" were the ones doing anything.

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones." ~ Marcus Aurelius

In fact, some of his writing tends to indicate that he might have been somewhat frustrated about the Pagans and the Christians constantly fighting over whether or not the Pagan gods were to blame for the constant earthquakes, famines, pestilences and plagues that were going on during those times.

Regarding some of the things Aurelius claims he has learned in life...

"From Diognetus, not to busy myself about trifling things, and not to give credit to what was said by miracle-workers and jugglers about incantations and the driving away of daemons and such things;..."

Unless there was any writing from Aurelius himself on the matter, I wouldn't know who to believe.

It's obvious from my research that the Pagans and Christians were very much at odds with each other during this time period and both were going out of their way to draw attention to their religions.



posted on Jan, 14 2013 @ 05:18 AM
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wildtimes


This guy seems to have his head on VERY STRAIGHT. Why would you not be a "fan"?


I'm OK with where his head is
. I am not a "Christ myther," although he is a very reasonable one (and he may not like that term, because of so many unreasonable ones using it). Also, his recent embrace of Bayesian reasoning (which he skips over in the talk in the OP) leads him to make some altogether untenable claims about it, although I do think familiarity with what Bayesian reasoning has to say about evidence is vital. It's good, but it's not that good.

So, there you have it. We have our disagreements, and yet often with an "although." Hope that clears up my remark for you.


Anyway, awesome new-to-me "source", thanks very much for posting it!


You're welcome. I am happy to have introduced you; he is definitely worth a look.

Deetermined

Marcus Aurelius is a very attractive figure.

As to what he believed about the incident... well, it is his victory column that provides us the picture, and yet it is one picture among many there. So, that's very Marcus Aurelius - whatever its personal impact on him, the incident happened, it is acknowledged, and it takes its place within the context of the larger campaign.

Did pagans generally "believe" in the existence of Hermes-Thoth (in this case) the way that living Protestants "believe" in the existence of Jesus? It's not obvious that they did in any large proportion, especially in the upper crust. Marcus' "experience" of his gods might have been very subtle, and directed at something subtler than the modern style of God, too.

Whatever his personal religious beliefs, Marcus had an empire to run. A story about being favored by a headliner supernatural power couldn't have hurt his political stature. The Egyptian connection was good, too - people are still fascinated with Egypt, its magic and its exoticism. Back then, probably even more so.


It's obvious from my research that the Pagans and Christians were very much at odds with each other during this time period and both were going out of their way to draw attention to their religions.


Spiders in a bottle; two different species. Only one comes out alive. I think the hijacking is understandable in an "all's fair in love and war" way, and it was war, alternating hot and cold. But understanding the motives of the players doesn't detract from the story, IMO.





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