Monday, July 23, 2007

Da Vinci: Nothing is new under the sun

Nothing is new in Christianity.

The last time I ran across this argument, that there are other and older religions than Christianity from which Christianity copied things, it was in conversations with a solipsist I met at work. Those were some of the most surreal conversations I've ever had, because, like so many philosophies, it's entirely unworkable. He kept slipping in and out of reality.

I believe there are three sources for the "copies" of Christianity.

The first source is cultural memory of historical events. The most common example is the universality of global flood legends. Every society of any size has flood legends which are surprisingly similar in their specifics. If a global flood actually happened, and all people alive are descendants of those who survived it, we would expect that the flood story would appear in multiple areas. That some "predate" the Jewish revelation is not all that unnerving. We don't have the earliest copy of the Jewish Scriptures available. Anyone who has an older copy of the same event would "predate" it, but they wouldn't predate the flood itself.

The second source is cultural memory of divine revelation. After the flood, every people group was directly descended from those who had received divine revelation. After Babel, they moved apart, and some of the truth was lost. They became pagan peoples--but they still had a cultural history of the truth. Rather than the historical figure of Noah and the ark, demigods or heroes were on the ark. Bits and pieces of a lost revelation would be preserved in the new pagan religions.

The third source is purely conjectural, but it is divine revelation which has not been recorded in Scripture. In the Old Testament, we repeatedly meet prophets whose prophecies are not recorded in Scripture--if fact, they are frequently not named. Since notable figures such as Isaiah do not object to being in their company, we can assume that their prophecies are from God. What did they prophecy? We don't know. Could they not have prophesied about the coming Messiah? And could those prophecies have been passed down by means other than Scripture?

Finally, a quick internet search points out that Mr. Brown played fast and loose with his history, the best of which is available here.

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