Answering Zeitgeist


‘Christianity along with all other theistic belief systems is the fraud of the age.’

So claims the popular film ‘Zeitgeist’ which is attracting over 2 million viewers a month on its Internet site, according to its publicity material.  Zeitgeist means ‘Spirit of the Age’ in German.

The basic theme of the film is that there is no historical truth in the Bible and that Christianity is used by the people in authority to keep people submissive.  The film shows this to be a destructive influence with pictures of war and human suffering linked to God and Christianity.

The substance of Zeitgeist’s claim is a re-run of an old attack on Christianity, saying that it is based on ancient myths, which are recycled with different people involved rather than historical events.  The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus is just a myth made up a long time after the event in order to create a religion that would control people.   In particular it claims that myths about Horus, the Egyptian sun god, are parallel to the story of Jesus Christ.  

According to the transcript of the film, the story of Horus is as follows: ‘Horus was born on December 25th of the virgin Isis-Meri. His birth was accompanied by a star in the east, which in turn, three kings followed to locate and adorn the new-born saviour. At the age of 12, he was a prodigal child teacher, and at the age of 30 he was baptized by a figure known as Anup and thus began his ministry. Horus had 12 disciples he traveled about with, performing miracles such as healing the sick and walking on water. After being betrayed by Typhon, Horus was crucified, buried for 3 days, and thus, resurrected.’

If true, this would certainly be unsettling to Christians. However, examining each point in detail is quite revealing. According to the Egyptian legend Horus’ father was Osiris and his mother was Isis (but there is nothing to connect this name with Mary / Meri).  Osiris was killed by his brother Set who wanted his throne. Isis briefly brought Osiris back to life by use of a spell that she learned from her father. This spell gave her time to become pregnant by Osiris before he again died and she later gave birth to Horus. Horus then killed Set.  The combination of Osiris and Horus became linked in Egyptian mythology with the idea of death and rebirth.  As in all pagan religions there was a connection with the seasons (winter = death, spring = rebirth) and with the sun setting and rising.  In the Egyptian myth it became associated with the flooding and retreating of the Nile and thus with the new harvest each year in the Nile valley.

According to this myth Isis was not a virgin, there is no link to the name Mary, however there is a death and rebirth story in line with the nature gods of paganism and fertility rituals.  While this may be of interest in understanding the ancient religions of the world it has absolutely no bearing on the events recorded in the Bible.   Horus was supposedly born during the month of Khoiak (Oct/Nov), and not on December 25th, a fact which does not make any difference to the claim that both Horus and Jesus were born at the same time since the Bible never says that Jesus was born on December 25th!

Ironically the makers of the film do have a point when they connect Christmas with ancient sun worship rituals, but only in relation to Catholicism, but not to New Testament Christianity.  The dating of the birth of Jesus at December 25th came in as a result of the Roman Catholic church trying to entice Roman pagans to convert to Christianity without forsaking their midwinter festival which revolved around the ‘rebirth’ of the sun as the days began to lengthen. The earliest reference to the Christian celebration of Christmas is found in the Calendar of Filocalus, a manuscript compiled  in Rome in AD 354.  For information on this subject send for our CD / tape ‘Was Jesus born on December 25th?’

The film states that a star in the East announced his birth and that three kings came to bring gifts to the “saviour.” However, when stories detailing the birth of Horus are examined, there is no star or three kings who come to visit him. Trying to link this to Christianity fails in any event as the account of Christ’s birth in Matthew has magi (wise men, not kings) coming to Jesus with their actual number not being stated.   

The movie states that Horus was “baptised” by Anup and started a “ministry.” The only accounts remotely related to Horus and water are the stories told of Osiris (his father who is sometimes combined in ancient accounts with Horus to form one individual) whose body was cut up into 14 pieces by his enemy, Set, and scattered throughout the earth. Isis supposedly found each part of the body and after having Osiris float in the Nile, he came back to life or became the lord of the underworld, depending on which account is read. In any event, stating that Horus was “baptised” is simply playing fast and loose with Christian terminology.

In addition, Horus had no “ministry.”  There is nothing in the myths about Horus becoming a teacher at age 12, nor in fact did Jesus.  Luke 2.45-52 simply states that the teachers in Jerusalem were astonished at the answers given by the boy Jesus at the age of 12.  Neither are there any statements to the effect that Horus had 12 “disciples.” According to the accounts, he had four semi-gods that were followers and some indications of 16 human followers and an unknown number of blacksmiths that went into battle with him. No accounts of Horus being betrayed are found in his portrayals and he certainly did not die by crucifixion in any account. There is an incident described in one story of Horus being torn to pieces, with Iris requesting that the crocodile god fish him out of the water he was placed into, but the movie does not mention this as it does not fit in with their agenda.  The movie puts the account of Horus as originating in 3,000 B.C., which predates the invention and practice of crucifixion, so there is another historical problem that must be overcome.

The claims of Horus being buried for three days and resurrected are not to be found in any ancient Egyptian texts either. Some accounts have Osiris being brought back to life by Isis and going to be the lord of the underworld. But there is no mention of a burial for three days and no mention of his physically coming out of a grave in the same physical body he went in with and never dying again. And there is certainly no account of Horus dying for others as Jesus did.

In the end, the attempt to prove Horus was a picture/forerunner of Jesus simply fails from lack of any historical evidence. The movie continues in this same vein citing other mythological pagan deities that pre-dated Jesus (Attis, Krishna, etc.).  It says that Hindu’s Krishna was also crucified and resurrected. However, Hindu teachings state that Krishna was killed by an arrow shot from a hunter who accidentally hit him in his heel and after he died, he ascended to be with Brahman. None of the pagan deities, when accurately examined, mirror the Son of God recorded in the New Testament gospels.

The transcript of the film gives two major sources for its information – the work of Raymond Massey, a 19th century English writer, and Archarya S, the pen name of D Murdock, author of ‘The Christ Conspiracy’.   Massey was a spiritualist and an initiate into the order of Druids, who also studied Egyptology.   Massey’s work is widely discredited by serious Egyptologists.

Archarya S believes in UFOs and alien encounters and makes a huge number of untrue claims in her work.  For example she writes, “In reality, it is no accident that there are 12 patriarchs, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 disciples, 12 being the number of the astrological signs.”  In fact the division into the 12 zodiacal signs was the product of Babylonian astronomy in the fifth century BC, long after the events recorded in Genesis took place.  She also claims the Israelites were moon worshippers based on Psalm 8, 104, Isaiah 47 and 66.  Three of these passages speak about worshipping the Lord who is the creator of all things and Isaiah 47 speaks of judgment about to fall on the Babylonian, not Hebrew, astrologers!  For further information go to  ‘A Refutation of Acharya S’s book, The Christ Conspiracy  by Mike Licona.’

The ancient myths referred to in this film are distorted in the attempt to make them fit in with Christianity.  One could ask the question ‘Which came first – the chicken or the egg?’ and apply it to this film.  Did the pagan myths come first and the Christians invent the Gospel story to fit in with them?  Or do the modern pagans take the Gospel story and try to make the pagan myths fit in with it?   All the evidence points to the latter conclusion.

C.S. Lewis was a serious student of ancient mystery religions and a professor at Oxford University.   When he became a Christian he stated that the biblical concept of God in both Old and New Testaments is in no way compatible with the nature gods of the mysteries.  He wrote:  “Jahweh is clearly not a Nature-God. He does not die and come to life each year as a true corn-king should.   He is not the soul of Nature nor any part of Nature. He inhabits eternity; he dwells in the high and holy place; heaven is his throne, not his vehicle; earth is his footstool, not his vesture.  One day he will dismantle both and make a new heaven and earth. He is not to be identified with the “divine spark” in man. He is “God and not man.” His thoughts are not our thoughts.”  C. S. Lewis,  Miracles: A Preliminary Study (London: Collins/Fontana, 1970), p. 119.

In fact, Lewis had previously recorded that upon his first serious reading of the New Testament, he was “chilled and puzzled by the almost total absence of such ideas in the Christian documents.” In other words, he was familiar with the theories suggesting resemblance between Christianity and the Mysteries, expected to find them, and was surprised to discover their absence.

The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is unique in that it describes events that took place in space and time and were also the fulfillment of prophecies written centuries previously.  They describe the once and for all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and His bodily resurrection from the dead and ascension to heaven.  To compare this with pagan myths about nature gods and the sun setting and rising as this film does is the height of folly.  But sadly we live in a time when people will believe the most foolish things rather than accept the truth revealed in the Bible.  

The Old Testament states that the gods of the nations were valueless:  ‘Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak, they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Be not afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good… The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’ (Jeremiah 10:5, 11).  In particular the gods of Memphis (the main city of Egypt and hence representative of all Egypt) would be destroyed: ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will destroy the idols, and put an end to the images, in Memphis’.  (Ezekiel 30:13).  But “God Almighty” would be known in every generation: ‘Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations.’ (Psalm 145:13).  Given these predictions it would be inconsistent if the New Testament employed and rehashed myths based on worthless gods.

In fact Peter could write with confidence at the end of his life:  ‘For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. … And so we have the prophetic word confirmed which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts, knowing this that no prophecy came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.’  2 Peter 2.16-21.  

In contrast to pagan myths the truths of the Bible were attested by the eye witness testimony of the Apostles.  We also have the prophetic word written centuries beforehand and fulfilled in the sacrificial death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  Peter goes on to warn of false prophets coming who will deny the Lord who bought them (2 Peter 2.1-3) and of ‘scoffers’ who will come in the last days ‘walking according to their own lusts and saying ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ (2 Peter 3.3-4).  

That has certainly happened and the growing assault on the claims of Christianity by the makers of films like Zeitgeist is in itself a fulfilment of Bible prophecy.  Interestingly although Zeitgeist claims to be wanting to liberate people from the controlling ideas of God and religion it has nothing to say about Islam, Hinduism or any other religion.  The spirit of antichrist is only concerned to destroy faith in Jesus Christ, because Satan knows that only through repentance and faith in Jesus as Messiah and Lord can we be saved from eternal hell and have eternal life in the kingdom of God.  

PS.  The chicken came first.  See Genesis 1.