The Gospel According to Internet Atheists (Episode II- The Holy Roman Empire Strikes Back)

We are continuing the telling of the secret history of the church as I have learned it from the atheists on the internet. I have talked to many people who seem to think they know all of the secrets that the church has covered up, only some of which were featured in The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks. I have compiled their stories into one big narrative.  First I am going to tell their version of the facts, which in itself should show you some of the holes in their story. Then I am going to spend a few chapters telling the truth. That will be like a hot shower after a long day in the stank mines.

In the first installment we learned how the Virgin Mary has more to do with Sigmund Freud than with the prophet Isaiah. Today we’ll see how a good teacher can have ambitious students who, following his good example, also go into the world and get themselves killed.

Episode II- The Holy Roman Empire Strikes Back

The carpenter turned itinerant preacher (and possibly Buddhist mystic) Jesus was condemned by the Jews for blasphemy (Although he didn’t claim to be God!) and crucified by the Romans for treason because… well, your guess is as good as mine. The bloggers never seem to fill this gap in for me. Jesus said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” and the Romans said, “Off with his head!” The Romans were a harsh bunch, but I can’t see them killing a guy who told people to love each other and pay their taxes. You think they’d give him a job in public relations.

Whatever the reason, Jesus was crucified which was a brutal way to die involving being nailed alive to a rail road tie. However, due to a lack of archeological evidence, some historians doubt that anyone was ever actually crucified. They feel that, when the New Testament was written many, many years later, this was a metaphor for self-sacrifice, and when the Roman and Jewish historians wrote about the thousands of people who were crucified on many occasions, they were merely kidding. For instance, the historian Josephus says, “…he ordered about eight hundred of them to be crucified; and while they were living, he ordered the throats of their children and wives to be cut before their eyes.”  Ha Ha! Get it?

It loses a bit in translation I guess.

Jesus was buried in a tomb owned by one of the religious leaders who has sent him to his death. In fact, there were a handful of people who helped bury him. The funny thing is, they all -disciples, family, friends, enemies and executioners- immediately forgot where he was buried. If you look up the dead leader of any religion or important political movement, you will find that their place of burial is a shrine, visited by their followers all the time on sacred pilgrimages. Heck, even Jim Morrison’s grave gets regular visitors. They’ve had to move his grave a few times because the visitors were a bit more enthusiastic than cemetery personnel are used to. Jesus’s final resting place never became a shrine. His disciples just moved on with their lives and decided that putting flowers on the stone (Or whatever you do with a tomb) wasn’t worth the ten minute walk. So, to this day we’re not entirely sure which tomb was his. When the Jews and Romans tried to stamp out the rumor that Jesus has been risen from death, they also couldn’t remember which grave was his, which is a shame because parading his body through the streets of Jerusalem would have quieted the church down a few notches. There’s nothing quite like displaying the corpse to put the cork in a resurrection story.

The disciples, whose teacher was executed for telling people to be loving and pay their taxes and obey the laws of Moses, chose to honor his life by creating wild fictions about him. Because of the eventual rise of the Catholic church, we can assume their plan was to create a powerful, global empire which would use religion to control people and if all went well, make themselves fantastically rich (Although at the cost of forcing them to wear comically large hats). They stole pieces from the stories of Mithras and Osiris and a handful of other cults, to make one big super-cult, which they were sure would sell like hotcakes in Jerusalem. When sales were bad they moved out to the rest of the Roman world and gave it a shot. For the rest of their lives, the disciples of Jesus attempted to get rich and powerful by telling the poor people of the Roman empire that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and that he rose from death. All of them were killed for this by Rome, and oddly enough, none of them were wildly rich when they died. Despite its constant failure to achieve power and riches, all eleven of the disciples stayed very dedicated to their conspiracy and chose to die horrible deaths rather than admitting they were lying. It just goes to show how noble was their motivation to spread this lie for personal gain.

I don’t know how this plan failed, but the true victory of the church is the fact that they KEPT ON TRYING! All over the Roman Empire, they got put in prison, fed to lions, and set on fire to illuminate the backyard parties of important Roman leaders. For several generations they kept on facing every possible persecution, but they KNEW that someday they would be a Holy Empire of some kind, and very rich and powerful. For almost three hundred years they kept at it- seeking power and wealth by telling the poor to worship a dead carpenter while Rome hunted them to the ends of the earth. You have to admire such tenacity. Most other religious founders would have given up in the first three or four generations- or at least they would have had the sense to merely ADD this religion to the dozens Rome already had instead of preaching it as the one true faith- as this was the main cause for Rome killing them so often. I suppose that, while they were in it for the power and money, they all agreed that they didn’t want to share. They would rather die. And so they did, for almost three hundred years.

After nearly three hundred years a Roman Emperor by the name of Constantine decided to convert the whole empire into a Christian empire. Somehow a tiny sect made primarily of the poor had what it took to force the majority of an Empire to convert against their will. At last the Christians won! The Roman Empire, under the new convert Constantine, was now a Holy Roman Empire! Naturally Constantine sought to use Christianity to control the people- because that is all religion is really for- so he gathered a bunch of Church leaders who would do his bidding and had them create a holy book that would make people obey his rule. He put together the council of Nicaea, which did two major things. First, they chose which books to include in the Bible out of the possibly hundreds of alternatives. See, aside from the Gospels the Church now considers authentic, there used to be many more: the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Judas, The Green-Thumb Gospel, I was a Teen Age Gospel, Harry Potter and the Gospel of Peter, and the Low Carb Gospel for Thinner Thighs in Thirty Days. Second, they voted Jesus into being divine, so that the teachings of the carpenter can hold a little more weight. Oddly, in an attempt to create a religion which would help him control the people, Constantine had his council vote Jesus into divinity, and thereby got himself voted OUT of divinity. Roman Emperors used to be worshiped as gods, but apparently Constantine thought the people would be better controlled if, instead of worshiping him as a god, they saw him merely as the human political figure ruling over the government who brutally murdered the God incarnate, Jesus. And it worked like a charm!

Just to “keep it real,” the writers added all kinds of interesting back story to the first church leaders, such as the time Peter (The first Pope) was called “Satan” by Jesus, or all the times he ran his mouth, or the way he denied even KNOWING Jesus a couple of times, or the time he was publicly criticized by Paul for being a racist. Apparently they figured people would relate better to a church founder who continually made himself look like a dweeb. And of course, they didn’t want the church leaders to look TOO high and mighty, so they made sure all four gospels had the disciples being confused all of the time, never fully understanding Jesus’ mission until after the fact, being called “You of Little Faith” by Jesus like a hundred times, and even refusing to believe Jesus had risen from death until he showed up and told them himself. They could have made their religious leaders look all confident and suave and full of faith in the God they would later preach about, but that image had been so done to death that the council at Nicaea wisely chose to go a different route. “Let the founders of OTHER religions be cool and confident!” was the motto of the council of Nicaea, none of whom had dated much in high school, or to be honest in the years since.

At the same time, they decided to not keep it real with Jesus himself, and added all kinds of wild fantasy stories borrowed from the pagan cultures of the time- such as walking on water, feeding large multitudes with only a small sack lunch, and cursing a fig tree to death. Certainly these would be the details which would help Rome control the people even if they were religious cliche. Certainly a quick look at any pagan religion of the time will show that all of their incarnate gods spent plenty of time cursing trees and making fish sandwiches, and who among them never rode into town on a donkey? But some things become classic because they work so well. When the council voted on what should be Jesus’ first miracle, they went with the miracle I think ANY church council would choose given the chance to put it to vote. It was this: He was at a party- and they ran out of booze. So, the messiah, God incarnate, savior of the world, made more from mere water! Party ON! In retrospect, it’s obviously just religious propaganda, intended to control people, but it makes for a nice metaphor for…something.

As a result of the council of Nicaea, there was finally a single agreed upon collection of biographies of Jesus and doctrinal letters from the church founders. The Bible was born! The other Bibles of the time were collected and burned. Apparently there had been churches who, in the two hundred years since the death of Jesus, anticipated the creation of a Bible and in their excitement had made their own. While the church had existed in nations all over  the world and even many well outside of Roman control for hundreds of years, the new Holy Roman Empire still managed to hunt down and burn all of the old versions and replace them with the official NHRE version. Because all of those were burned, we have no idea what the original versions may have said, but we do know that they did not say Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God whose death would somehow be the atoning sacrifice which pays for sins and makes us right with God. Nope. We DO know he told us not to judge others. The rest is a little sketchy.

Next time we’ll see what the Church has been up to since they started Western Culture, and find out that they are to blame for pretty much everything, including the extinction of the dinosaurs and probably El Nino. Then, after wrapping it up, I’ll start teaching you some actual, for real this time history. That will feel good.

About rentafriend2000
Rocking my 40's with a heart full of love and muffins, science and technology. Jesus loves me and wants me to totally rock! And I am here to help.

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