This week on Unapologetic, we’re going to play a rousing game of trivia called “Can You Name That Thing.” We’ll have categories for deity, ship, and president.
Okay, let’s get started. Our first category is the category of deity. Here’s how this game is going to work. I’m going to read a description of a thing to you, in this case, a deity, a god. Your job is to figure out who I’m talking about. Let’s get started. This deity was conceived by a virgin. He was said to be born in a cave. His birth was announced by an angel. He attended a special rite of passage at the age of twelve. The texts describing his life are silent from about age twelve to age thirty. At thirty years of age he was baptized in a river. His baptizer was later beheaded. He had twelve disciples, preformed miracles, exorcised demons, raised someone from the dead and even walked on water. Can you name that deity? Hold onto your answer because we’re going to the next category.
This object is a ship. Can you name this ship? It was the largest ship of its time. It was considered to be unsinkable. It had enough lifeboats for less than half the people on board. It struck an iceburg while traveling at over twenty-two and a half knots. It sank and more than half of the passengers died. Lastly, its name starts with “tita…” Can you name that ship?
Our last category is the category of president. This president became president in ’60. He had a lazy eye. He was related to US Senators, US At tourney Generals who graduated from Harvard, and an ambassador to the court of Saint James. He was advised not to go to the place where he died. He was shot in the head from behind. The assassin escaped and was killed before going to trial. He was detained after shooting by a policeman named Baker. He was eventually killed by a Colt revolver. Can you name that president?
Okay, so let’s see how you have done on our little game show today. I promise there’s a point. This isn’t just somewhat annoying fun.
Can you name that president? Well, you might have said Abraham Lincoln or you might have said John F. Kennedy. Either would be right, because the details I gave actually describe both, even down to the detail of the brand of revolver that killed the assassin and even down to the name of the policeman who detained the suspect. There are two possible answers that work. Now, you might think that’s an incredibly specific set of details, and yet it matched two people. Yes it did.
Let’s go on to our first category. Can you name that deity? Well, I actually was describing the Egyptian god Horus. You might be thinking, what? “Horus? No, that was pretty much Jesus, right? December 25th, angels, mother named Mary, all that stuff?” No I was describing Horus, or at least what some people would say about Horus. (That point is key.) We’ll come back to Horus and Jesus in a minute.
Now, can you name that ship? This one just seems like it should be so straightforward. It’s not the Titanic. It’s actually a ship called the Titan, in spite of all those details. The Titan was written about in a 1889 novella, or short novel, written my Morgan Robertson called Futility, or, it had another title called The Wreck of the Titan. Now, here’s the interesting point. This novella was written before the Titanic was even made and before it went on to sink in 1912. We have someone writing about a ship that is so incredibly similar to the Titanic, even in it’s name (Titan and Titanic) that sinks in a similar way and similar circumstances and similar events ensue after it sinks. Yet, this was all written about before the Titanic was even made. Here’s the thing I want to point out to you today. Here’s the main point of today’s episode: There are some people who will say that Jesus is just a recycled version of an old god, or as J. Warner Wallace would say, a “recycled redeemer.” They will say that there are things written about other gods that were mythological, like Horus or other people that were written about long before Jesus came on the scene. As a result, Jesus wasn’t real because he’s just similar to these other stories.
Now, people say similar things about the flood. “Other religions besides Judaism and Christianity have a narrative about the flood in them, so yours isn’t unique. The flood didn’t really happen. It’s not a Christian, it’s not a bible thing, because the bible just took that form someone else.” We’re going to talk about these two claims today. The first thing to point out is, just because something happens after something else is described, that doesn’t mean it’s caused by that. Here’s what I mean by that. The writing of that novella called The Futility, or The Wreck of the Titan, that didn’t cause the Titanic to come into existence. It didn’t cause the Titanic to sink. More than that, the existence of novel and all it describes, doesn’t mean the Titanic never existed. That would just be stupid, right? Because we all know the Titanic existed. The fact that someone wrote down something before it that’s so incredibly similar to it in no way makes the Titanic cease to exist. This is the same argument and line of reasoning we can apply to claims about deities that existed or supposedly existed before Jesus did.
Let’s say that all of the things that we read about Horus were actually written about Horus. Does that mean that Jesus didn’t exist just because those things are true of Jesus too? No. The fact that someone wrote them down before Jesus existed doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t exist and more so that those things weren’t true about him. It does not flow from that claim. More than that, the things I cited about Horus when I was trying to trick you and make you think I was talking about Jesus, those things are actually false.
I want to tell you a little about Horus so if anyone brings up this idea that Jesus is just a recycled version of Horus, you can be a little prepared to talk about it. Horus was the oldest and most important god in Ancient Egyptian religion. He was worshiped from about 6000BC to 300AD. He was the sky god and was often portrayed as a falcon. Now, here’s where the story gets a little interesting. If you’re listening with children, perhaps pause and resume listening later. Horus was actually conceived by Isis after she created a male sexual organ for her previously dismembered husband, Osiris. There are many different stories about this.
Now, what people try to say is this is really similar to the virgin birth, but it’s not. It’s very much different. People say Horus was born of the virgin, Isis, Mary on December 25th in a cave or a manger with his birth being announced by a star in the east and being attended by three wise men.
Isis was married to Osiris. There are many different conflicting stories of Horus’s conception. At the very least, it’s not a virgin birth because it seems like Osiris created via another sexual organ that was involved. Plutarch wrote that Horus was born around the winter solstice, but winter solstice usually happens on December 22nd or 23rd. More so, the evidence about Jesus’s birth points to it not being pretty much anywhere close to December 25th. What about his mother being called Mary? Well, it’s actually spelled M-E-R-I and better pronounced “muree”. It’s an Egyptian word for beloved. This was a title for Isis, not a name. Furthermore, when we look into the details, Horus was born in a swamp, not a cave and not a manger. Furthermore, Jesus was probably not born in a cave either. There were no three wise men at Horus’s birth. There weren’t at any of Jesus’s either, contrary to how our Nativities are often set up.
I could go through more supposed similarities between the two of them but they just keep falling apart, because what really happened sometimes, is there is this little anti-christian sub-culture which has tried to use this Horus myth to impute the truthfulness of Jesus’s life and actual existence. Quite a few of the details they cite, as we’ve seen, are actually false when you look into the original documents and artifacts we found from Egypt.
What if they were true? What if all these similarities between Horus and Jesus were accurate? That tells you nothing in the same way that the Titan and the Titanic tells you nothing about the existence of the Titanic. Just because there’s a similarity, that doesn’t mean that a thing didn’t happen. We don’t have to know the details of the Horus account in order to say that it says nothing about the truthfulness of the Jesus accounts. Furthermore, when we do look at those details, they don’t support the claims that are made about Horus.
Now, what about the flood? We could talk more about the flood in the future, and we will. There’s an easy way to address the fact that people say that “everyone has a flood narrative. All these ancient religions and cultures have a flood narrative. Jews just took it from someone else.” Well, when you look at what the bible has to say about the flood and when it was written, it’s really ancient. It’s old. If the flood actually did happen, wouldn’t we expect a lot of cultures to talk about it? If the bible was really written thousands of years ago, then there would be many generations and many different cultures that existed after that. They would talk about the flood, because it’s pretty much the biggest thing that ever happened. You can’t dismiss the flood just because other people talk about it in other religions, too. If it’s an event that actually happened, we would expect people to talk about it.
I hope these two ways of looking at these kind of copy cat claims that some people make about Christianity are helpful to you. Often times, we don’t have to know the details about a specific claim to kind of look at it and see if the claim even makes sense on the face of it. Is there a logical fallacy involved? Well, there is in the Horus example. Not to bore you, but it’s a specific type of logical fallacy called “post hoc ergo propter hoc.” That’s Latin. My wife hates it when I use Latin phrases. That’s Latin for “after and thus because of.”
Here’s an example of that fallacy. The sun comes up in the morning because I go to bed at night. Well, the sun does come up in the morning and that’s after I go to bed at night, but the sun doesn’t come up because I went to bed. In the same way, the Titanic didn’t sink because the Titan was written. Jesus didn’t have the things written about him that he did because things were written about Horus that were similar. You can’t come to that conclusion, that’s an actual logical fallacy.
I hope you’re a little more equipped to deal with these types of claims.
I would like to invite you to something. My church, City Church here in Tallahassee, Florida is hosting a conference that actually takes place every year. It’s a joint venture between City Church and Four Oaks Community Church. It’s called the Of First Importance Conference. It gets its name for when Paul says, “I deliver to you as a first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried and that he raised, on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures.” This is a conference about the gospel. It’s targeted at ministry leaders, not necessarily pastors, but people in church ministry positions. It would be beneficial for everyone.
It is February 11th through 12th. Russel Moore, the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, will be there speaking. He is an excellent speaker. He’s the author of the book Onward. He’ll be speaking twice, actually, at that conference. My book, Unapologetic, will actually be given away to people who come to the conference. That’s another small reason to come to an already great conference.
If you’d like to find out more, you can go to oficonference.com. I will be there and I hope to see you there. Until next week, thanks for listening to Unapologetic.