Buddhism 101 & Christian Apologists
Some years ago, a Christian apologist took short quotes from my book The Christ Conspiracy
, cold-called up a few professional scholars, read these brief excerpts to them, and recorded the experts' opinions. He then published a couple of articles claiming to have debunked my book and the entire thesis that Jesus Christ is a mythical character along the same lines as the Greek and Roman gods such as Hercules and Jupiter. Since then, this handful of quotes from scholars has been used by Christian apologists and others in articles, blogs, videos and radio shows to run down my work.
As I have demonstrated repeatedly since these quotes were first bandied about, my thesis remains intact, and the bulk of my contentions have been verified by other sources. Indeed, the first thing one needs to understand about this debacle is that these detractors who are professing expertise on my work have never actually read it. This point needs to be emphasized, because the apologists are making pretenses as if these particular scholars have
read my work and are experts at it. They are not. These professional scholars did not bother to check out where the brief information they were spoonfed came from; they knew nothing about my sources. They simply assumed in a kneejerk reaction that I (my sources) was completely wrong and that I therefore had "no knowledge" of the subject matter I was writing about, which was the essence of their derogatory remarks. One scholarly detractor who has never read my work nevertheless claimed I "need a course in Religion 101." As we shall see, it seems that many such scholars are in reality themselves stuck
in Religion 101, not having all the pieces of the puzzle at their disposal.
In a perfect world devoid of a priori
assumptions and biases, one would imagine that, upon hearing the brief - and fascinating - excerpts culled from my thousands of pages of work, a curious scholar would want to know exactly where this information came from, rather than immediately dismissing it and unprofessionally making derogatory comments about another's work they have not even read
. So it often goes within the ivory halls of academia, apparently - which is one major reason I did not pursue that course to its ultimate expression. If I had gone that route, this information likely would never have made it to the masses in the way it did, with over 100 million exposures to the thesis in the movie "Zeitgeist
," as a major example.
As concerns Buddhism in specific, after being read the 18 points regarding Buddha in "The Characters" chapter of Christ Con (109-110), a Chinese professor claimed that most of them were wrong and made derogatory and hostile remarks about my person, having not bothered at all to inquire where this information came from, even though there are 21 footnotes
carefully citing all my sources. Nevertheless, from what I can gather of the exchange, she immediately assumed that I had just made them all up, with no basis at all, and she then made an ad hom attack against me personally. Again, this ad hom personal attack has since been used on the internet and in writing to harass me and "disprove" the entire Jesus myth thesis."The Characters" - the Achilles Heel?
This entire debacle, from the scholars' remarks to the gleeful use of them to debunk me, serves to illustrate just how threatening is that one chapter in my book entitled, "The Characters." Numerous articles, videos and so on have been dedicated in the past decade since the release of Christ Con to debunking these striking parallels and correspondences between ancient gods and godmen, essentially showing how unoriginal is the Christ myth
. The rest of the work, however, goes largely ignored, although I personally have developed upon several of the other aspects of the Jesus myth in my other books and writings
Nevertheless, the fracas over these parallels reveals that they represent the real Achilles heel, so to speak, of Christian history. Even in ancient times, various important parallels were pointed out by Christian apologists themselves such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian.
In this regard, then, it is important to verify these parallels and not to rely on hostile and unprofessional reactions on the part of scholars or the unfounded contentions by biased Christian apologists. That activity is precisely what I have dedicated the past decade to doing, along with bringing out many other aspects of Christian history, comparative religion, mythology and astrotheology.
As concerns Buddhism in particular, since I wrote The Christ Conspiracy
, I have also compiled much more information - it is useful for readers to realize that I provide copious quotes from an abundance of sources
- on this subject demonstrating both that "the Buddha" is a patently mythical figure
and that his "life" does indeed resemble that of Jesus in many pertinent aspects. A handful of the contentions in Christ Con were not entirely sustainable, although I personally did not originate them but was citing the work of others, many of whom were themselves highly credentialed - much more so, in fact, than numerous of my detractors. Buddha's Birthdate
For example, the contention that Buddha was born on December 25th - the end of the three-day winter-solstice period - originated not with me but with a biblical scholar named Ernest de Bunsen in The Angel-Messiah of the Buddhists, Essenes and Christians
. In my follow-up work to Christ Con, Suns of God
, I provide a lengthy quote from de Bunsen (352-354) showing his indepth analysis of this issue, wherein he is very scholarly and scientific, not just "making things up," to demonstrate a possible astronomical basis for his contention of Buddha being born on December 25th. As part of this analysis, de Bunsen remarks, among much else:
(von/de Bunsen, Ernst, The Angel-Messiah of Buddhists, Essenes and Christians
, Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1880, p. 23.)
Although current scholarship ignores this debate, claiming that "the Buddha" was truly a historical figure who most definitely had a birth day, which is traditionally celebrated in April or May - based on phases of the moon, revealing its astrotheological connection - one would think that a curious individual, rather than immediately dismissing this contention because of a priori
assumptions and biases, might wish to follow up with it, as I have done in Suns of God
, revealing some extremely fascinating information. Moreover, as de Bunsen shows, this material is based on ancient texts as well as modern science of the time. Although he was a peer-reviewed scholar of his day, de Bunsen's work in this regard did not make it into the mainstream, for what seems to be in significant part because of a Christian bias that to this day does not want this material to surface. On the contrary, because of such bold research, 19th-centuries scholars such as de Bunsen have likewise been run down and derogated, although many of these scholars' writings on the subject produced some very important results within the field of comparative religion and mythology that have
been passed along into the mainstream and become part of the field as taught widely within the halls of academia.
As concerns the birthday of "the Buddha," in Suns of God
I dedicate several pages to the issue that reveal the mythical nature of the main characters of Buddhism, with "the Buddha's" birth celebrated at different times of the year in different places and eras. As I state in Suns of God
To reiterate, Buddha is not an historical personage whose story is concretized but, like Krishna, essentially represents a personification of the sun. Moreover, as we are not dealing with one man but numerous "Buddhas," it is not surprising to find many traditions concerning his birthday or birthdays. Indeed, as was also the case with Krishna, Buddha’s birthday falls on different days in different years and places. In Laos, a festival to commemorate the "birth story" of the Buddha called "Bun Pha Wet" is held on January 29th and other days in different villages. Sakyamuni Buddha’s birthday is celebrated on April 8th in Japan and Korea, and on May 7th in Vietnam. The birthday of "the Buddha" is often observed on May 3rd or May 7th, although the "actual day" is claimed to be May 11th as well. It is also celebrated on May 22nd in various places. In the Mahayana tradition, it was observed on May 10th in the year 2000. In the Theravadic tradition, the date was May 17th, and in the Hinayana tradition, it was the 18th of May. In 2001, Sakyamuni’s birthday fell on April 30th.
In some places and years, May 17th is the birth, enlightenment and death of "the Buddha." Within Japanese Zen Buddhism, Buddha's enlightenment day is celebrated on December 8th, "but the Festival of the Enlightenment is on December 25th." In Chinese Zen, or Ch'an, Buddha's enlightenment day is January 14th. In Tibet, Buddha's birth and enlightenment day is celebrated on June 16th.
In addition to these various celebrations are the birthdays of numerous other Buddhas: For example, February 10th is "Samadhi Light Buddha's Birthday," and September 19th is the "Burning Lamp Buddha of Antiquity's Birthday." The "Medicine Master Buddha's Birthday" is variously October 26th or November 18th. In China, February 2nd is the birthday of Buddha Dipamkara. The Amitabha Buddha of Infinite Light was born on December 12th. As we have seen, "Amitabha" is another name for Abidha, the sun god, which is appropriate for "the god of boundless light."
In Suns of God
, I show that the figure depicted as "the Buddha" possesses numerous solar attributes and is likely a sun god or an epithet of the God Sun, so to speak, which I discuss in detail in my book. As we can see, within this mythical Buddhistic tradition appear pertinent solar festivities, such as December 8th being the day of Buddha's enlightenment, with the actual "Festival of Enlightenment" celebrated on December 25th. December 12th as the birthday of the Amitabha Buddha of Infinite Light is appropriate in consideration of the awakening of the sun at this time. As demonstrated in my 2010 Astrotheology Calendar
, it is not only December 21st, 22nd or 25th that have been celebrated as the time of the winter solstice and the sun's returning strength but also virtually the whole of December that represents this enlightening time of the year.
Academia Drops the Ball
Without all of this information, a wave-of-the-hand dismissal of this parallel may be understandable if someone were to call you up out of the blue and read one sentence about "Buddha" being born on December 25th - understandable, unless you are a professional scholar
, of course. Again, one would think that a curious scientist would want to know where this fascinating information comes from and to do follow-up research on his or her own, rather than simply providing a kneejerk, dismissive and derogatory reaction. Being just such a curious scientist in this fascinating field, I have gone ahead and done this follow-up research, providing much of it in Suns of God
as well as my other books.
In the same manner, I have done likewise with other major contentions concerning Buddha and Buddhism in Christ Conspiracy, providing extensive analyses in my follow-up book Suns of God
. More on the subject will also be found in my forthcoming book The Christ Myth Anthology
, a lengthy excerpt of which can be found as my "Origins of Christianity
" ebook online. In reality, in this "Origins" excerpt, I was able to demonstrate many of these same parallels found in Christ Con, using completely different sources, including some of the most modern scholarship in the subject.
A discussion about one of these contentions may be found in the "Origins" thread on this forum
, demonstrating the degree of accuracy to which I continually strive. As we can also see from remarks there, my knowledge of Buddhism is hardly stuck in "Religion 101," as some of these scholars themselves seem to be. Indeed, in reviewing the remarks of one critic that I am completely ignorant of the subject of Buddhism, a Buddhist scholar who actually knows my work rejoined that, based on her comments, the critic herself appears to know only about the Chinese and not the Sanskrit and other Indian sources of Buddhist lore. Certainly, she does not know the sources that I have been studying and have included in Suns of God
as well as The Christ Myth Anthology
. For example, in my recent online article "The 'Historical' Buddha?
", excerpted from Suns of God, I bring forth the scholarship of Christian missionary and scholar R. Spence Hardy, who lived in India and Ceylon/Sri Lanka and studied numerous - some 465 - Indian
Buddhist texts in their original languages. My more modern sources likewise read Sanskrit, Pali and so on, and reflect the ancient Buddhist tradition of India
, where Buddhism originated. Limiting oneself to just Chinese or Japanese Buddhism will not produce the same results and expertise, obviously. Hence, one ignorant of the Indian tradition may find a number of the contentions in my work on Buddhism to be unknown to him or her, causing him or her to have a dismissive reaction. It is just this sort of uninformed reaction we are seeing in these detractor articles, videos, etc., by Christian apologists.