Ethon Lowe | The myth of Christmas
Two thousand years ago, God was sorely troubled.
Mankind was wicked again and needed to be taught a lesson. As promised, He would not drown the world a second time. Why not send His only Son into the world to suffer and die, and through His death, relieve the guilt of sins of the entire world, so that people would have eternal life? Not just the past sin of Adam and Eve (the original sin), but future sins as well. Even sins committed before a person is born. But did those perpetrators of the original sin actually exist, and the Genesis story merely symbolic?
If, therefore, Jesus did have himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin committed by nonexistent individuals, what was the purpose of Jesus? The answer is simple; there is none.
Not so fast. Isn’t Christmas Jesus’ birthday celebrated by two billion Christians worldwide? And in Jamaica, what would Christmas be without Gran’ Market, church services and Jonkanoo? Paradoxically, while Christmas Day is a happy and joyful day, the atonement (Jesus’ sacrifice) is anything but. It is sadomasochistic and repellent. If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them without having Himself (remember, Jesus is also God) tortured and executed? Would you allow your son to be killed (for whatever reason) if you wanted to forgive the people stealing your oranges?
Mary, the mother of Jesus, conceives in virginity through the working of the Holy Spirit. The Archangel Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth without the help of her husband, Joseph, a good-natured fellow who agreed without making a fuss. You’d think he would be a little jealous.
GODS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SINLESS
Dionysius, the Greek god, was also born of a mother endowed with an intact hymen. So did Osiris, the Egyptian god, and Mithra, the Persian god. No surprise here. Gods are supposed to be sinless, hence their virgin births and born without sexual intercourse (parthenogenesis).
Further confirmation came from the writer of the Gospel of Matthew. From the Old Testament prophesy of Isaiah 7:14, “the young woman (almah) is with child, and she shall bear a son and she shall call his name Immanuel”. Matthew interpreted or mistranslated the Hebrew word almah (a young woman) into the Greek word parthenos (a virgin). And this 2,000-year myth was thus sealed with a typo.
Even the year of Jesus’ birth is a mystery. Matthew 2:1 has Jesus being born in 4 BCE, during the reign of Herod, resulting in the visit of the Wise Men, and the slaughter of the innocents. In Luke (2:1) Jesus is born in 6 CE, when Quirinius is mentioned as the Roman governor of Syria and there was a worldwide census long after Herod’s death (4 BCE). Matthew and Luke cannot both be right, given their conflicting narratives.
Nowhere in the first century are such images as the virgin birth, the Nativity stories, shepherds, angels, star in the east, the Magi, born in a stable, manger and the worldwide census in either Christian writings (except the Gospels) or pagan writings. No mention of the cruel Herod and his slaughter of innocent children, an event unrecorded by historians of the time.
THE WINTER SOLSTICE
Another misconception is that December 25 is the birthday of Jesus.
During the early days of Christianity, believers tried to persuade the rulers (the Romans) to establish a legal holiday to commemorate Jesus’ birth, but they refused. So the Christians decided that ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ and thereafter celebrated Jesus’ birth on an already-established pagan holiday: the Winter Solstice, December 25.
The Gregorian calendar which we use today moved the Winter Solstice back a few days to December 21 for astronomical reasons, whereas Christmas continues to be celebrated on the 25th.
Tired of hearing ministers preaching sermons about how we have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas? Next time, tell them (with a supercilious smile), yes, you agree.
Culturally, the story of Santa giving gifts to boys and girls who have managed to stay off the naughty list makes a better Christmas story. What would Christmas be without Santa? After enjoying years of benevolence from the god-like Santa, their young, rational minds quickly dispel the Santa myth when they get older. Letting go of God is rather more difficult. Believers have no need for healthy scepticism. They only need faith.
Christians certainly don’t have exclusive rights to gifts, love, joy, family, peace on earth and goodwill towards men. Christmas is for everybody, although it would be remiss if atheists and non-believers (tongues firmly planted in cheeks) didn’t proffer a grateful ‘thank you’ to Jesus for giving them a holiday.
Merry Saturnalia, Jamaica!!
- Dr Ethon Lowe is a medical doctor. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.