May 9, 2011
Why God But Not Thor? (or, "Pagan gods are Marvel Superheroes")
I'd had discussions with this person before, so I could guess a little bit about what was behind his question. He was wondering why Christians will say that the God of the Bible is real but the other gods and goddesses of pagan mythology are not. Since Christianity and pagan religions supposedly all make the same claims, shouldn't we all consider Christianity to be a myth just as easily as we consider the pagan gods to be myths?
Here is part of my reply:
First, this question contains an assumption that I reject. Your question implied Christianity has the same elements, teachings and details as pagan myths. I know that this is a common assertion from some atheists, especially on the internet. People point to supposed parallels between Jesus and other dying and rising gods and suggest Christianity is just borrowing the same themes and therefore isn’t true. If that is what the question meant, then I reject that part of the question because I don’t believe that Christianity actually does make the same claims as pagan mythology. The similarities are very superficial and often forced. Also some of these supposed sources for Christianity actually come after the time of the New Testament. (If there are specific myths and details that you are thinking of, let me know. There are a lot of obscure myths and I can’t guess them in advance to deal with them.) Also, I need to add that even if it were true that Christianity had the same specific details as many older pagan myths, it wouldn’t actually prove that Christianity was false. If there were movies made in the 20th Century about skyscrapers being destroyed by terrorists, that wouldn’t mean that the destruction of the World Trade Center was false or invented based on these stories.
Now, let me give you one major reason why I believe the pagan gods fail as being valid. Simply, the pagan gods aren’t even “Gods.” Sure, they have power and abilities, but they are limited. They are closer to Marvel superheroes than to the God of the Bible.
The pagan gods don’t actually explain anything. They don’t provide a sufficient reason the explain why the world exists. This is because the pagan gods are not eternal. Apollo is the son of Zeus. Zeus was the son of Cronus, and so on. So, none of these gods ultimately explains anything because each of them needs something else to explain them. On the other hand, the God of the Bible is of an entirely different quality. He is not a Marvel superhero. The God of the Bible is not only omnipotent, and omniscient, but also eternal. Because He is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) He has the power and wisdom needed to design and create the world. But even more importantly, He is eternal. Since God did not have a beginning, He did not need anything or anyone to create Him. If you’ve always existed, you don’t need to be created. Because the God of the Bible is eternal, He is a “sufficient reason” for everything else. The pagan superhero gods are not.
If you needed someone else to make you, don’t even claim to be a real God. The real God is in an entirely different category.