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15

Subjects (abstracts): The Christ Myth; Evolutional Ethics and Animal Psychology.

from: The Christ Myth, A Study by Elizabeth E. [Edson] Evans [1832 - 1911], New York: The Truth Seeker Company, 1900, Reprinted by: H.H. Waldo, Bookseller, Hyde Park, Vermont, 1991, Number 7 [(found 1/97) received, and first seen, 2/10/97].

[As a researcher [see #4, 143-145], I was surprised to find this book (the early dates, title, gender of author, conclusions, etc.).].

[Dedication]"To my husband Edward P. Evans."
[prologue] "What though the Story of the Cross
Be but a figment of the brain
Is this for you and me a loss,
May it not be for all a gain? "


"PREFACE

From the beginning of the Christian era there have been in each generation many persons who refused to believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and many others who, after being educated in that belief, rejected it in maturer years. Perhaps some of these doubted or disbelieved the whole story; but the question of actuality was not, formerly, a subject of discussion in pulpit and in print." [v].

[See: #3, 41-104 ("Jesus")].

"Napoleon I [1769 - 1821], in his conversations with Wieland, expressed his disbelief in the historical existence of Christ [see #3, 44 (Napoleon Bonaparte [Napoleon I])]; but that declaration seems to have made but little impression upon his hearer, and was, apparently, received without comment by later readers of the statement, Napoleon not being considered an authority in such matters, although his logical faculty and mathematical genius were indisputable." [v].

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'My own doubts were first awakened as far back as the year 1875, being the result of studies in a department of Christian doctrine having no connection with dogmas concerning the identity of Christ. At that time I did not know that his "historical existence" had ever been denied, although I had already, after long and painful mental conflict, given up my early belief in the Trinitarian creed. Those persons who have always regarded Christ as a mere man cannot imagine the shock experienced by a believer in his divinity when that faith gives way. Few have believed so firmly and entirely as I: not many, I trust, have suffered so intensely in renouncing that belief; and it is because I have found joy and peace in disbelieving, that I mention my personal experience in the hope of making the way easier for other souls tormented by doubt and goaded by the compelling power of Truth to be honest with themselves even at the sacrifice of what were once vital convictions, but which, through wider knowledge, have lost their meaning and their influence.' [vi].

'BELIEF IN JESUS, WHEN ANALYZED, PROVES TO BE LARGELY SENTIMENTAL, and differs in kind and degree with the disposition of the individual. In former times he was regarded more from the standpoint of his divinity; in these later days his humanity is made the prominent characteristic; "Broad churchmen" and "muscular Christians" insist upon his "manliness;" benevolent affiliations claim him as "elder brother;" the erotic fancies of pallid nuns are stilled into pious awe in view of their high calling as "brides of Christ," while Protestant feminine enthusiasts dream of sitting on Jesus' knee and bestowing innocent endearments upon him; his name is taken in vain at every unwelcome surprise or trifling accident, and reverent souls invoke his aid even when looking for a pin [compare: "Hail Mary full of grace, please help me find a parking place."].' [vi-vii].

"Each of the developed religions of the world claims a divine origin for its Bible, and each considers its own Scriptures as the only authentic revelation; the pretensions of one being as good as, and no better than, another.

THE IDEA OF A GOD, a supreme ruler of the Universe, seems to have grown out of the experience of man in his attitude towards the powers of Nature, and to have FOUND ORIGINAL EXPRESSION IN THE WORSHIP OF THE SUN AND OF SEX." [9].

"Osiris, the sun, disappearing every night and paling every winter, is raised every morning and every spring as Horus, who is at once the Son of God and God himself. Krishna among the East Indians; Bel among the Babylonians; Adonis, Hercules, Bacchus, among the Greeks, illustrate in like manner the changes of the seasons and personify the sovereignty of the Sun.

The same idea, that of a divine Son, born of the union of the Sun and the Earth, God and a woman, runs through all the myths which have gradually been evolved out of the spiritual questionings of man." [10].

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"The idea of a suffering God atoning by his death for the sins of men, descending into the abodes of darkness and rising again to bring life and immortality to light, is found in the oldest records of the human race in every part of the world. It is ORIGINALLY IN ALL CASES A PERSONIFICATION OF THE SUN, and in all cases it is developed and embellished to apply to the spiritual needs and aspirations of man. The gods of Egypt, India, Greece, and Rome have long been offering their testimony to modern investigators, and continued search has brought forward the forgotten religious treasures of nations less active in the history of the world." [10-11].

"LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS WORLD, RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS HAVE THEIR PERIOD OF BIRTH, GROWTH, DECAY, AND DEATH, and Greece and Rome were now awaiting a final change." [19].

[see concluding excerpt in following article (359, Guignebert)].

"the early Christians chose the Catacombs for their place of worship, not from necessity, but because their rites were borrowed from those of Mithra, in which a cave was an essential feature." [34].

[See (catacombs): #2, 20; #3, 54; #4, 119; #9, 225].

"The Christian church did not begin to keep the birthday of Christ until the fourth century." [36]. [See: #13, 320-321; etc.].

"The finally established date of the birth, December 25, was decided by Rome, as was the assumed date of the conception, March 25, the time of the vernal equinox, and the starting into life of the earth in spring.

The selection of Dec. 25 as the month and day of the birth of Jesus was in conformity to heathen sun - worship, Dec. 25, according to Caesar's calendar, being the birthday of the Sun." [37]. [See: #13, 263-328 passim].

"The mythical stories concerning Buddha resemble those relating to Krishna; indeed, there is a family likeness in the presiding deities of all races and all times, and those personifications go back to the sunALL OF THEM!" [capitals, by the author] [41]. [See: #12, 261 ("Buddha, Krishna, Christ")].

"The Creation of the Christ

The most probable explanation of the mystery is the supposition that some learned and gifted writer of that epoch fully conversant with ancient mythology, Grecian philosophy, and Oriental theosophy, imbued with reverent admiration for the legendary character of Buddha, and profoundly dissatisfied with the prevalent standards of belief and custom among Romans and Jews, conceived the idea of rehabilitating the person and attributes of the Indian deity, not only as the sinless and benevolent teacher, but also as a suffering and atoning sacrifice, an impressive contrast to the selfish luxury and boundless arrogance displayed by persons in power, and especially by the Roman emperors, who, not content with the glories of an earthly ruler, claimed divine honors from their oppressed and degenerated subjects." [52].

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"The Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians are the only ones of the Pauline Epistles which modern criticism considers authentic, and these also are beginning to be regarded with suspicion in consequence of DOUBTS CONCERNING THE IDENTITY OF PAUL [see #4, 105-151 ("Paul")].

It is not and cannot now be known who wrote any of these books; THE APOSTLES ARE NOT HISTORICAL CHARACTERS [see (apostles): #3, 49, 54, 55, 59; #8, 200-203; #9, 225; #13, 328] to begin with, and they certainly were not the authors of the compilations which are called by their names, and which bear evidence of having been written at a much later period than the lifetime of persons contemporary with the supposed career of Jesus." [74-75].

'Many Christian theologians of the present day acknowledge the utter lack of authentic knowledge respecting the derivation of the New Testament writings, but such scholars are apt to advocate the preeminent authority of ecclesiastical tradition in matters of faith.

"Hear the church" is their prescription for the cure of skepticism and the removal of doubt. Unfortunately for their argument, many of the works ascribed to the early Christian Fathers are open to like suspicion as regards their authenticity [see #1, 1-12 passim; #2, 17-32 passim]'. [75].

"But, it will be asked, how could such a fable obtain credence and become the foundation of a sect of believers so firm in the faith that they could endure persecution and welcome martyrdom in its defense?

To this it may be answered that, as history shows, there is no limit to human credulity [see #13, 322-323]; also, it is evident that the fable was of gradual growth." [77].

"The scientific researches now in progress appear to have already established the fact that Christianity is nothing more nor less than an outgrowth of earlier religions, and that THERE ARE NO RELIABLE HISTORICAL DATA FOR THE EXISTENCE OF ITS SUPPOSED FOUNDER AND HIS IMMEDIATE FOLLOWERS."

[81-82].

"Thus we have for the FORMATION OF THE FICTITIOUS CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST the chief divinities of the ancient Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Roman nations; the Logos [see: #3, 46, 49, 50, 53, 85, 103; #9, 220] of the early Greek philosophers, and the Ideal of contemporary scholars." [106].

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'Exactly when and how all these borrowed elements combined to offer to the world the man Christ Jesus cannot now be known. It is supposed by some scholars that a real personage is the foundation of every mythical incarnation, and it may be so, but facts seem to show that such characters may be entirely imaginative creations [see #3, 46]; at least, that they may have been borrowed as myths, without reference to the unknown foreign original.

It is possible that some obscure man, "some Jewish peasant with a genius for religion" (as many "liberal" Christians nowadays are fond of saying), sat for the portrait of the idealized and deified Jesus; but it is not likely, because if he had been so insignificant as not to be distinguishable by the history of that time he could not have challenged the revenge of the Jewish theocracy and the severity of the Roman imperial power; whereas, if he had been of so much importance as to create so great a ferment he would have been known to history. His deified prototypes [see: #13, 263. Etc.] are too far back to be identified, but the time and the CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS SUPPOSED CAREER WERE COMPARATIVELY MODERN.

And, when we take away from this Person (as must be taken away) his supernatural birth, his superhuman powers, his borrowed teachings, his unlawful execution, his impossible resurrection and ascensionWHAT IS THERE LEFT? [see #3, 52, 255.]

A beautiful Ideal, such as philanthropic fancy has often created, or a benevolent man, such as has often existed and still exists.' [109-110].

"Advantages of Knowing the Truth

One chief advantage of a final rejection of the Christ myth is that persecution of the Jews will cease at once and forever....

When the people cease to worship a dead Jew they will no longer desire to persecute living Jews, and when they perceive that THE CHRISTIAN IDOL IS MERELY A FICTITIOUS CHARACTER, the Jews will be granted their rightful place in the family of nations." [111].

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"And why any longer should churches be built and preachers be installed and the community be taxed to support a religious institution which is of no use as a guiding and restraining force? Nowadays everybody can read the books from which the theologians derive their material; specialists among the laity go farther and deeper than the clergy in their investigations of the sources of theological wisdom, and parishioners who are bearing the burden and heat of the day know more than the priest can tell them of the spiritual experiences of practical life. To justify the presence of churches and clerics an altar and a sacrifice are necessary, and these no longer exist.

It is true that on entering the precincts of a magnificent church or temple the surroundings tend to elevate the thoughts and produce a solemnity of mind which is inspiring, not only for the moment, but in its after effects. But the same emotion in a still higher degree is, or ought to be, experienced upon opening the door of a magnificent library or theatre, or in visiting the wards of a hospital or the operating-room of a great clinic.

In all cases the motive influence is the same—the recognition of a space devoted to the improvement of mankind; and, in proportion as we become freed from the SENTIMENTALITY OF SUPERSTITION, will the appliances for the education of the intellect, the cultivation of the esthetic taste, the relief of suffering, the furtherance of physical health, appeal more strongly to our best and highest sympathies than the accessories of a fantastic fable or the worship of an impossible God can ever do."

[116-117].

"Any mature and thoughtful person who has traveled extensively and come in contact with many people of various races and nationalities and creeds must often be forced to observe how under every form of government and every mode of belief, some characters are eminently good, some eminently bad, and the great majority neither very bad nor very good. The differences and grades of difference between individuals everywhere are in reality determined, not by opinions concerning the Unknown and Unknowable, but by the accidents of birth [see #4, 125 (Richard Dawkins)], ancestry, education, and environment. The annals of Christianity, when examined in an unprejudiced spirit, are for the most part a shameful record of selfishness and weakness." [117-118].

"THE STORY OF JESUS IS A MYTH; THE DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY ARE AN ANACHRONISTIC INVENTION; THE RITUAL OF THE CHURCH IS A BORROWED MEDLEY; THE LEGENDS OF THEOLOGY ARE A MIXTURE OF PIOUS FRAUDS AND IGNORANT FANCIES; SACERDOTAL AUTHORITY IS A VAIN PRETENSION; ONE MAN KNOWS EXACTLY AS MUCH AS ANOTHER ABOUT GOD AND ETERNITY, AND THAT MUCH IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING [see: #3, 70 (Meslier); #4, 146 (Schopenhauer)].

Many persons are conscious that these things are so; many more are tormented with doubts and terrors; very few are firm in the old beliefs, and those few believe still because they shut their eyes and ears to the accumulating evidence of the falsity of the system upon which their faith is based." [120-121].

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"The Problem of the Future"

"So long as human beings live and suffer and enjoy in this, the only world open to our present knowledge, the BROTHERHOOD OF MAN will be the highest possible Ideal, and the effort to realize that Ideal will be the noblest and most satisfactory occupation of every individual intelligence. The end can be attained only by learning and obeying the eternal laws of Nature, as these are demonstrated through the discoveries of Science." [End of text] [125].

[See (concluding excerpts): #1, 12; #2, 32; #3, 83; #4, 128; #5, 165; #6, 179; #7, 199; #10, 240; #12, 262; #14, 334].

• • •

from: Evolutional Ethics and Animal Psychology, E.P. [Edward Payson] Evans [1831 -1917], Author of Animal Symbolism in Ecclesiastical Architecture, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, etc., Appleton, 1898. [found 2/15/97].

[
Dedication]"To my wife,
Elizabeth E. Evans."

'According to Schopenhauer [Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 - 1860], ANTHROPOCENTRIC EGOISM IS A FUNDAMENTAL AND FATAL DEFECT IN THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND ETHICAL TEACHINGS OF BOTH JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY, AND HAS BEEN THE SOURCE OF UNTOLD MISERY TO MYRIADS OF SENTIENT AND HIGHLY SENSITIVE ORGANISMS. "These religions," he says, "have unnaturally severed man from the animal world, to which he essentially belongs, and placed him on a pinnacle apart, treating all lower creatures as mere things; whereas Brahmanism and Buddhism insist not only upon his kinship with all forms of animal life, but also upon his vital connection with all animated Nature, binding him up into intimate relationship with them by metempsychosis."' [88].

'God blesses Noah and his sons, bids them "be fruitful and multiply," and then adds, as regards the lower animals: "The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things."

This tyrannical mandate is not mitigated by any intimation of the merciful manner in which the human autocrat should treat the creatures thus subjected to his capricious will. On the contrary, the only thing that he is positively commanded to do with reference to them is to eat them. They ["lower animals"] are to be regarded by him simply as food, having no more rights and deserving no more consideration as means of sating his appetite than a grain of corn or a blade of grass.

The practical working of this decree has been summed up by Shelley [Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 - 1822], with his wonted force and succinctness, when he says, "The supremacy of man is, like Satan's, a supremacy of pain."' [89].

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'"I do not remember," observed Mrs. Jameson, "ever to have heard the kind and just treatment of animals enforced on Christian principles or made the subject of a sermon."' [90].

'One of the chief objections urged by Celsus [c. 178 C.E.] more than seventeen centuries ago against Christianity was that it "considers everything as having been created solely for man." This stricture is indorsed by Dr. Thomas Arnold, of Rugby, who also animadverts on the evils growing out of the anthropocentric character of Christianity as a scheme of redemption and a system of theodicy. "It would seem," he says, "as if the primitive Christian, by laying so much stress upon a future life in contradistinction to this life, and placing the lower creatures out of the pale of hope, placed them at the same time out of the pale of sympathy, and thus laid the foundation for this utter disregard of animals in the light of our fellow-creatures...."' [91-92].

"Not long ago a German Protestant parson, when asked to preach a sermon in support of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, replied that, although heartily sympathizing with the cause, he could not accede to the request, since the Bible did not furnish him with any text appropriate to such a discourse. As a humane man, he would be willing to make a speech in favour of it outside of the pulpit; but as a clergyman and divinely commissioned expounder of the sacred Scriptures, he was forced to pass it over in silence. Evidently the good parson was not well versed in the cunning arts of modern homiletics, and had little skill in the marvellous exegetic jugglery which easily conjures into passages of Holy Writ ideas and principles of which the writers never dreamed; otherwise he might have simply cut the Bible for his text, as was the practice of ancient sortilege, and preached from any passage thus selected a sermon suitable to the occasion." [149].

'M.A. de Quatrefages, in his Rapport sur le Progrès de l'Anthropologie (Paris, 1867, p. 85), maintains that "domestic animals are religious, since they readily obey those who appeal to them with the rod or with sugar." In other words, they are amenable to rewards and punishments, doing the will and seeking to win the favour of superior beings, on whom they are dependent, propitiating and fawning upon them, creeping and grovelling on the ground in abject adoration, in order to assuage their anger or to secure their kind regard.

"....Animals fly to man for protection as a believer does to his god."'

[351-352].

'"The feeling of religious devotion," says Darwin [Charles Darwin 1809 - 1882], "is a highly complex one, consisting of love, complete submission to an exalted and mysterious superior, a strong sense of dependence, fear, reverence, gratitude, hope for the future, and perhaps other elements. No being could experience so complex an emotion until advanced in his intellectual and moral faculties to at least a moderately high level. Nevertheless, we see some distinct approach to this state of mind in the deep love of a dog for his master, associated with complete submission, some fear, and perhaps other feelings."* ["*The Descent of Man. London, 1874, p. 95."]' [352].

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• • •

Biographic and Bibliographic notes

Elizabeth Edson (Gibson) Evans 1832 - 1911: Daughter of Dr. Willard Putnam Gibson and Lucia Field Williams. Married to Edward Payson Evans, 1868. Contributor to Atlantic Monthly, North American Review, Nation, etc. (see: National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1907, Vol. 9, 433-434). Author of 9 books, including: A History of Religions, 1892; The Christ Myth (her last book), 1900 (see: The National Union Catalog, 1971, Vol. 163, 641). Resided in Europe 1870—(see: Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1 (1897 - 1942), 1966, 377).

The only references to Elizabeth E. Evans I have encountered (and these, after buying The Christ Myth), are in God Pro and Con, A Bibliography of Atheism,

Gordon Stein, Garland, 1990, 92 (910: The Christ Myth; 911: A History of Religions).

In The Christ Myth (no footnotes), the Bibliography lists 38 books. Authors include: Bruno Bauer; Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason); Otto Pfleiderer; David Friedrich Strauss; Voltaire (Dictionaire Philosophique). Titles are mostly German (some English, and French).

Edward Payson Evans 1831 - 1917: from: National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1907, Vol. 9, 433.

[The sensitivity of Edward Payson Evans, reminds me of John Hill Burton [1809 -1881] (The Book Hunter, 1862 (later editions)), and Philip Gilbert Hamerton [1834 -1894] (for example: The Intellectual Life, 1873 (later editions); Human Intercourse, 1884 (later editions)).].

"He went to Europe in 1858 for purposes of study, and spent about three years at the universities of Göttingen, Berlin and Munich, and in travel. In 1861—70 he was professor of modern languages and literature in Michigan University, and then resigned, going to Europe with his wife [Elizabeth Edson Evans], to whom he was married in 1868. Munich, Germany, has been their home every since, and they have devoted themselves continuously to literary work."

'He has devoted himself to the study of oriental languages, especially Sanskrit, Zend and modern Persian, and has published some of the results of these researches in the "Atlantic Monthly," "Unitarian Review" and "Allgemeine Zeitung." He is a regular contributor to the "Nation," "Popular Science Monthly," "Die Nation" (Berlin) and other leading journals, American and German.'

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