Borrowing  Different Faith The Bible is true

The stories were made up, sure. But they weren't made up randomly, they were made up using standard ancient ideas about Gods and their powers and place in the universe.

Here's where we are. The ancient texts quoted in POCM's Facts section show lots of Pagan-Christian similarities. In this Reasons part of POCM we're thinking about possible explanations of those similarities. Which are comprehensive and consistent? Which are not?

Folks have been bickering about Pagan Christian borrowing for a long time. Arguments on each side have been offered, criticized, adjusted, recriticized, and readjusted. There is by now a list of standard explanations of the Pagan-Christian similarities. This page, Borrowing > Choices, gives you that list. Other pages in this Borrowing section discuss each choice in detail.

The List
Paganism had its ideas about Gods and souls first. Christians had the same ideas second. So, where did Christianity get all those Pagan-looking rituals and theologies?


Christianity borrowed its ideas by absorbing the ideas and prejudices of ancient culture.


Christian ideas are different from Pagan its ideas; Christianity did not borrow its ideas


The bible is true. The New Testament gospels are accurate, first hand histories written by people who knew Jesus and recorded His teachings. Christian rituals and theologies are found in those teachings.


I have faith that Christianity is new and unique, sent from God.


Christianity had its ideas first; Christianity did not borrow its ideas.


Christianity developed its ideas independently, all on its own, with no Pagan influence; Christianity did not borrow its ideas


Christianity got its ideas from Judaism; Christianity did not borrow its ideas from Paganism.


Christianity borrowed its ideas by consciously and deliberately xerox-copying Pagan myths and rituals.

Cause and effect

Believers and Pagan-origins-ers see the cause and effect of Christianity's rites and theologies very differently. Let's start with believers.

Believers imagine the events in the New Testament gospels are basically true. Jesus was real. The meaning of the story of Jesus comes from the facts of His life. The facts came first. The meaning came second. Jesus was God. Because He was God, He could do miracles.

Jesus as the Sun God

Pagan-origins-ers see it the other way. They understand that ancient culture had standard ideas about Gods and their powers, and about the eternal destiny of the human soul. They understand that the stories about how Dionysus, and Kore, and Osiris brought salvation did not reflect real facts. The stories were made up, sure. But they weren't made up randomly, they were made up to fit the standard ancient shtick about Gods and souls. The stories were similar because the ideas were similar. The ideas came first; the "facts" came later.

For Pagan- origins-ers, "Christianity borrowed miracles from Paganism," doesn't mean "facts" about Jesus' were copied, miracle by miracle, from Pagan myths. It means early Christians knew and believed the standard ancient Pagan shtick about God and the eternal destiny of the human soul, and they made up their Jesus myths to fit. The meaning came first, the "facts" came second. Gods did miracles. Jesus was a God. Naturally, Jesus did miracles.

Greg's rambling.
Notice in the explanations table that all the apologists' explanations of the Pagan-Christian similarities are constructed to preserve the believer's facts-first version of cause and effect.

And the Pagan-origins-ers' explanation number 1 must include the conclusion that the "facts" about Jesus were made up, made up to fit the pre-determined meaning of the myth.

Interestingly explanation number eight, which as we've seen is not supported by the ancient evidence, is the non-apologists' explanation most often attacked and "refuted" by apologists. I think this is because number eight preserves facts-first cause and effect, so it is the non-Christian explanation whose basic mechanism apologists assume to be natural.