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The Real ZEITGEIST Challenge

by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S

the real zeitgeist challenge image

The following article is a response to the purported "debunking" of the first part of the original "ZEITGEIST" film. Because of its length, it is divided into several pages. I have also provided a free ebook containing the entire article, linked at the bottom of each page as well. Please also listen to my appearance on Peter Joseph's "Zeitgeist Undebunked" radio show.

Listen to internet radio with Peter Joseph on Blog Talk Radio

"And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter."

Early Church Father and Saint Justin Martyr (c. 150 AD/CE)

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For the information concerning the birthday of the Greek sun and wine god Dionysus on December 25th, we turn to the ancient Roman writer Macrobius (c. 395-423 AD/CE). (Rahner, 140) The birthday of Dionysus was also previously commemorated on both the 5th and 6th of January, while the god Aion who is likewise born on January 6th is called by Joseph Campbell a "syncretistic personification of Osiris." (Campbell, MG, 338) Dionysus too was identified with both Aion and Osiris in ancient times. In antiquity as well, Jesus Christ's nativity was also placed on the 6th or 7th of January, when it remains celebrated in some factions of the Orthodox Church, such as in Armenia, as well as the Coptic Church. Concerning these dates, Christian theologian Rev. Dr. Hugo Rahner remarks:

As to the dates, Norden has shown that the change from January 6 to December 25 can be explained as the result of the reform introduced by the more accurate Julian calendar into the ancient Egyptian calculation which had fixed January 6 as the date of the winter solstice. (Rahner, 141)

It thus appears that in ancient times these dates of January 5, 6 and 7 represented the winter solstice, which is fitting for sun gods. Again, Macrobius later places Dionysus's birth on December 25th, also appropriate for a sun god. (Rahner, 140)

As the god of the vine, Dionysus is depicted in ancient texts as traveling around teaching agriculture, as well as doing various miracles, such as in Homer's The Iliad, dating to the 9th century BCE, and in The Bacchae of Euripides, the famous Greek playwright who lived around 480 to 406 BCE. (See, e.g., Smith, 148) In addition, Dionysus's miracle of changing water to wine is also recounted in pre-Christian times by Diodorus (Library of History, 3.66.3). (Cotter, 164)

In an Orphic hymn, Phanes-Dionysus is styled by the Greek title Protogonos or "first-born" of Zeus (Campbell, Mysteries, 71), also translated at times as "only-begotten son," although the term Monogenes would be more appropriately rendered as the latter.

As concerns the epithet "King of Kings," Sir James Frazer tells us that the Neoplatonist Proclus (5th cent. AD/CE) related:

Dionysus was the last king of the gods appointed by Zeus. For his father set him on the kingly throne, and placed in his hand the scepter, and made him king of all the gods of the world. (Frazer, 451)

In the case of Dionysus/Bacchus being labeled the "Alpha and Omega," here is one instance where not knowing foreign languages would make the sources difficult to access, as we are told in French by Rev. Isaac de Beausobre that there is an ancient inscription in which Dionysus/Bacchus says, "I am the Alpha and Omega." (Lardner, 379)

Dionysus's death and resurrection were famous in ancient times, so much so that Christian father Origen (c. 184-c. 254) felt the need to address them in his Contra Celsus (IV, XVI-XVII), comparing them unfavorably, of course, to those of Christ. By Origen's time, these Dionysian mysteries had already been celebrated for centuries. Dionysus/Bacchus's resurrection or revival after having been torn to pieces or otherwise killed earned him the epithet of "twice born." (For various stages of the Dionysian myth in antiquity, including the god's title "Dionysos the Resurrected," see Guthrie, 182. See also Russell, 137.)


As I relate in Suns of God, it is erroneously asserted that because Mithraism was a "mystery cult" it did not leave any written record. In reality, much evidence of Mithra worship has been deliberately destroyed, including not only monuments, iconography and other artifacts, but also numerous books by ancient authors, such as Eubulus, who, according to St. Jerome in Against Jovianus, "wrote the history of Mithras in many volumes." Also, Porphyry related that there were "several elaborate treatises setting forth the religion of Mithra," each one of which "has been destroyed by the care of the Church." These many volumes doubtlessly contained much interesting information that was damaging to Christianity, such as the important correspondences between the "lives" and teachings of Mithra and Jesus, as well as identical symbols and rites. (Acharya, SOG, 125)

This destruction of ancient culture was committed largely by Christian fanatics on rampages across many countries and centuries. The massive and widespread Mithraic ruins demonstrate quite abundantly that this religion/cult was extremely important long before Christ and Christianity gained prominence. Why were all these artifacts destroyed? Because they would have demonstrated the parallels that had been developed within Mithraism particularly since it reached the shores of the Mediterranean centuries before Jesus allegedly existed?

As concerns the debate regarding the Perso-Roman god Mithra's "virgin birth," not a few scholars and writers of Persian/Iranian extract have discussed the Persian goddess of love Anahita as Mithra's virgin mother. Presumably, these individuals know more about their ancient traditions than do modern Christian apologists and anti-ZGers.

In the scholarly digest Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress, Dr. Martin Schwartz, a professor of Iranian Studies at the University of California, discusses the "Armenian national epic" concerning Mithra, who is called the "Great Mher." In recounting a myth regarding the Great Mher (Mithra), Dr. Schwartz relates the story of his father, Sanasar, who along with his twin brother Baltasar is "born of a virgin who becomes pregnant from the water of the 'Milky Fountain of Immortality'..." He next says:

Combining these data with the tradition found in Elise that Mithra was born of God through a human mother...one may suggest a transference of the miraculous birth of the Sosyants to Mithra. (Hinnells, 418)

In other words, in certain traditions Mithra was said to have been born of the union of God with a human mortal, possibly a virgin mother like that of his father.

The fact will remain that the motifs of the virgin mother and virgin birth predated Christianity by centuries, as demonstrated here and elsewhere, and to assume that this motif was copied from Christianity by much older Pagan religions such as Mithraism—or to deny that it even exists in these non-Christian religions—constitutes a conclusion unsupported by the evidence.

Mithra surrounded by the 12 "companions" is a motif found on many Mithraic remains and representing the 12 signs of the zodiac. The comparison of this common motif with Jesus and the 12 has been made on many occasions, including in an extensive study entitled, "Mithras and Christ: some iconographical similarities," by Professor A. Deman in the same volume of Mithraic Studies. (Hinnells, 507ff)

Mithra's birthday on December 25th is commonly known, as admitted even by the Catholic Encyclopedia ("Mithraism"): "The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season." (Herbermann, CE, X, 404)

Concerning Mithra's miracles, Mithraic Studies editor John R. Hinnells remarks:

...the side panels of many Mithraic reliefs and paintings are interpreted as representations of the primeval life of the god, in which he performed miracles, experience various adventures, and celebrated an archetypal communion meal before he ascended to heaven. (Hinnells, 291)

Early Church fathers Justin and Tertullian were so perturbed by the similarities between the cults of Mithra and Jesus that they fell back on the "Devil did it" excuse to explain them.

Those interested in the subject of Mithraism and its correspondences to Christianity may wish to consult my extensive article:

Mithra: The Pagan Christ


As concerns the mention of Jesus Christ having been born on December 25th, obviously ZG1.1 did not make up this tradition, so the debunkers batting it about as a false parallel are simply being disingenuous about it, in effect raising another straw man to knock down. Perhaps they need to inform the hundreds of millions of people worldwide over the past 1700 or so years that they have been in error, because no "primary source" relates this tradition. They should also be reminded that the New Testament as we have it is not a "primary source," because we possess no autographs of these purported eyewitnesses-and only two of the canonical gospels were allegedly written by individuals claimed to have known Jesus. We have no primary sources proving that Jesus Christ actually existed, no legal documents, no "glyphs," no papyri, no statuary, coins-nothing. All we have to go on is hearsay, the bulk of which is secondary, tertiary and so on. Again, only two gospels are accepted as having come from alleged eyewitnesses, and these constitute but a few dozen pages with little biographical or historical material yet full of miracles, impossibilities and improbabilities. All the rest of Christian literature represents sources that are secondary and tertiary, etc. (For more on the problems of the New Testament, see my book Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ.)

The ZG1.1 debunkers also make a big deal of the number "three" in the legend concerning those present as Christ's birth, because these "wise men" are not specifically numbered as such in the gospel story. Despite this straw man, in the gospel of Matthew (2:11), the gifts brought by these individuals are listed as three, and Christian tradition beginning centuries ago puts these "kings," "wise men" and "magi" at three, as in the Christmas song "We Three Kings." Hence, ZG1.1 is justified in citing Christian tradition as reflecting them as three.

These two "debunking" claims, which in fact debunk Christian tradition, not ZG1.1, represent the escape clauses allowing the anti-ZGers never to acknowledge that their "challenge" has been met and, thus, they not need to pay out their meager "reward." Ironically, all the harping on these two contentions concerning the purported historical figure of Jesus Christ serve to remind us that Christian tradition is not trustworthy, which is the point of ZG1.1 in the first place. In any event, again, with the addition of these two clauses from Christian tradition, the debunkers have made their "challenge" impossible to win, so that its creators can claim that the rest has been "debunked" as well. This deceit reminds one of the double bind of answering the question, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"


The bottom line is that neither "ZEITGEIST," Part 1, nor its sources "just made anything up." Nor do these claims rely simply on the "opinions" of modern scholars or those of the past couple of centuries. When the subject is actually studied to find out where these contentions come from, ancient authors spring into view, provided the view is clear of the bigoted and biased detritus of people shoring up the faith at any cost, including by censoring very important religious history.

In the final analysis, the clamor for "primary sources" serves to remind us of the appalling destruction of ancient cultures, largely perpetrated by those whose spiritual heirs are now attempting to cover up this crime against humanity with their fallacious "challenges" in books, videos and on websites. When will this crime be acknowledged and dealt with justly? How about the many millions of Pagans—our ancestors—who were viciously abused, tortured, raped and murdered by carriers of religious dementia created by the Bible? Where is their justice? Will we allow their legacy to be destroyed and buried again, just as soon as it has finally been unearthed through such liberating media as the internet and films like "ZEITGEIST?"

For the sake of justice and mankind's magnificent legacy-this information actually represents the best of humanity-we must not let the cover up of this crime against humanity stand and the burial of our heritage occur again. We have the tools and freedoms at last to reconstruct the past to a greater extent, to restore the ancient cultures to their proper place, and to delve into religious origins in a way never before enjoyed. Let us not allow this amazing opportunity to slip away based on the same blind belief, calumny and specious contentions that buried this legacy in the first place. This awakening towards our collective past and call to preserve it in the face of continued censorial onslaught represents the real challenge of ZEITGEIST.


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The Real ZEITGEIST Challenge Free Ebook

Acharya S on DVD
Acharya S Interview with Metafysiko.org
Acharya's Online Videos
Astrotheology of the Ancients
Celebration of Life
Christ Conspiracy in the News!
Christ in Egypt Preface
D.M. Murdock/Acharya S's Media Appearances
David Mills's Review of 'Who Was Jesus?'
Did Buddha exist?
'Did Moses Exist?' reviewed by Robert Tulip
Did Jesus Fulfill Prophecy? | Who Was Jesus?
Does Church Father Papias Prove the Gospels Existed in the First Century?
Ezekiel's Vision of a Wheel within a Wheel
Easter: The Resurrection of Spring
The Gospel Dates
Is the King James Bible Inerrant?
Jesus Christ as the Sun God throughout History
Is Jesus an Egyptian Myth?
The Jesus Myth
Jesus, Son of Joseph, and Horus, Son of Seb
Man Made God Review
Moses, the Promised Land and Easter | Passover | Exodus
The Origins of Halloween
The Real ZEITGEIST Challenge
Skeptic Mangles ZEITGEIST (and Religious History)
The Christmas Hoax | Jesus is NOT the "Reason for the Season"
The Great Chaos | Paradise Found
The Healing Power of the Gospel
The Nativity of Amenhotep III at Luxor
The History of Mythicism | The Mythicist Position
The Star in the East and Three Kings | Wise Men | Magi
 Sirius as the Star in the East 'Debunked?' NOT!
Was Horus Crucified?
Was Jesus God, Man or Myth?
Was Krishna Born on December 25th?
What is a Mythicist? | The Mythicist Position | Mythicism
Who Is Gerald Massey?
Who Was Jesus?
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