The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible (mid-15th century)
By Spencer D Gear PhD
Is Christianity based on mythology? Are Christian believers dim-witted followers of their alleged Almighty God?
I was persuaded to pursue this subject, based on a ‘Comment’ made by Daffy Duck in response to my article on Jesus’ resurrection in On Line Opinion. This person wrote that of ‘the usual dim-witted “theists”’ and ‘dim-witted “religion”’. The latter designation is from another author.
Daffy wrote: ‘the multivarious (sic) “religious” myths of humankind, especially in the case of “Jesus” then everything that one says is mere conjecture and hearsay’.
It was my suggestion that the person write an article to support his ideology: ‘Why Christianity is a religious myth promoted by dim-witted theists’.
1. Elements of mythology
The third edition of the Australian, The Macquarie Dictionary (1997:1425), gives this as the first definition of myth: Myth is
a traditional story, usually concerning some superhuman being or some alleged person or event, and which attempts to explain natural phenomena; especially a traditional story about deities or demigods and the creation of the world and its inhabitants.
One such scholar who pursues this understanding of myth in the Gospels is Burton Mack. He stated that “the narrative gospels can no longer be viewed as the trustworthy accounts of unique and stupendous historical events at the foundation of the Christian faith. The gospels must now be seen as the result of early Christian mythmaking” (1993:10).
Please understand that this perspective contains Mack’s presuppositions about the Gospels. He admits that in the early church ‘an explosion of the collective imagination signals change’ in the creation of these new myths that formed the gospels.
These are indeed challenging days when postmodern deconstructions like these intrude into discussions about Scripture and the historical Jesus.
Using this kind of definition of myth, scholars of the Jesus Seminar or of similar persuasion, have made comments like this by John Dominic Crossan:
What happened after the death and burial of Jesus is told in the last chapters of the four New Testament gospels. On Easter Sunday morning his tomb was found empty, and by Easter Sunday evening Jesus himself had appeared to his closest followers and all was well once again. Friday was hard, Saturday was long, but by Sunday all was resolved. Is this fact or fiction, history or mythology?
Do fiction and mythology crowd closely around the end of the story just as they did around its beginning? And if there is fiction or mythology, on what is it based? I have already argued, for instance, that Jesus’ burial by his friends was totally fictional and unhistorical. He was buried, if buried at all, by his enemies, and the necessarily shallow grave would have been easy prey for scavenging animals. We can still glimpse what happened before, behind, and despite those fictional overlays precisely by imagining what they were created to hide. What happened on Easter Sunday? Is that the story of one day? Or of several years? Is that the story of all Christians gathered together as a single group in Jerusalem? Or is that the story of but one group among several, maybe of one group who claimed to be the whole? . . .
The Easter story at the end is, like the Nativity story at the beginning, so engraved on our imagination as factual history rather than fictional mythology. (Crossan 1994:160-161).
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “myth” means: “A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events” (lexico.com 2021. “myth”).
This dictionary provides various subsidiary meanings including, “A widely held but false belief or idea”; “A misrepresentation of the truth”; “A fictitious or imaginary person or thing”; “an exaggerated or idealized conception of a person or thing” (lexico.com 2021. “myth”).
Therefore, because of these multitudinous meanings, I find it confusing to use in attempting to define the truth of Christianity.
2. Differences between myth and narrative
A narrative refers to “a spoken or written account of connected events; a story” (lexico.com 2021. “narrative”). The narrative of Captain Cook’s voyages to what was to become Australia is not myth but historical narrative. Cook’s voyages could be called mythology but that confuses the meaning of myth and narrative.
3. Show Christianity does not have these elements
Christianity does not have a foundational myth or falsehood but historical narrative of its beginning and spread in the Middle Eastern territory – to begin with. See the Book of Acts for examples of the early expansion.
4. Christianity is a historical religion.
Christianity is a historical religion because it intersects with historical persons and events of the Old and New Testament era.
This is fleshed out in my articles,
5. Enter logical fallacies to obscure the argument
If you want to frustrate a discussion, try the use of logical fallacies. That’s what Daffy did here:
To speak about ‘dim-witted theists’ reveals: (a) his use of an ad hominem (abusive) fallacy. These people need to be called out for what they do to a discussion.
and (b) demonstrates his presuppositions of shaming Christian religion, but without providing evidence to support his claims. To call a theist a ‘dim-wit’ without evidence is to demonstrate shallowness of the claim.
6. Works consulted
Crossan, John Dominic 1994. Jesus: A revolutionary biography. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.
Mack, Burton 1993. The Lost Gospel: The Gospel of Q & Christian Origins. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.
 Daffy Duck’s comments on 4 April 2018 to the article, “Cynicism about Jesus as an Easter ‘treat’” by Spencer Gear. Available at: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19656&page=0 (Accessed 5 Apil 2018).
 ‘Cynicism about Jesus …’, OzSpen, 5 April 2018. My penname is OzSpen.
Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 September 2021.