On the Fake scholarship of Michael Sherlock

(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

I said in my last post that I would like to respond to the pseudohistorical nonsense of Michael Sherlock, whose articles on history often serve no function but to give legitimacy to nonsensical New Atheist online myths.

I’ll respond to his two articles alleging that Jesus originated from Pagan sun worship:


In ancient times, the sun became allegorically associated with the supreme go(o)d, as well as his offspring in the mythical systems of countless peoples of antiquity – from Africa to the Near East, to Europe, Asia, and even as far as the Americas. In Egypt he was Amen, Aten, Osiris, and Horus. In Mesopotamia he was Shamash, in Persia he was Ahura Mazda and Mithras, in Greece he was the Almighty Apollo, Helios, Hercules and Asclepius, among many others, and in Israel he became Yahweh and later his only begotten Sun, Yeshua (Gk. Jesus).

Please tell me where he’s getting the idea that Yahweh is a sun god from. He states it without a source, because he knows none can be found.

One thing that always confused me in Sunday school was how the son could also be the father. I used to wonder how a son could also be his own father, absent some kind of bizarre science-fiction-styled inbreeding experiment. But if we look at this doctrine, known in Christian theology as the ‘eternal generation of the son’, through the illuminating lens of solar myth it starts to make a lot more sense. The father is the old matured and martyred Sun, who, like the phoenix, voluntarily submits to his own demise so that his throne may be succeeded by his new-born son, the sun of the next day, annual cycle, or Platonic Age. Thus, the father and son are one and the same, they both come from the same place on high, journey in the same direction, along the same straight path, take the same time to make that journey – they both exist for the purpose of enlightening and redeeming the world from darkness and only through the son is one able to see the father, for the sun of the present cycle and the sun of the following cycle are but one single sun.

Once again, an unsourced statement, for he knows that no serious scholar holds this view. The truth is (and I will source this statement), Christian trinitarianism has been shown to have evolved out of Jewish Binitarianism. Philo of Alexandria considered the Logos of God to be both a part of him and a separate beig at the same time, much like the Christian concept of the trinity. The article is written by an Orthodox Jew, someone who has no dog in the fight regarding the origins of Christian doctrine.[1]

Many of the ancient solar gods were said to have been either incarnated on earth or born in the heavens/space of virgins. Hercules, Dionysus, Bacchus, Perseus, Horus, Apollonius and the list goes on. Why were the gods so obsessed with virgin women and not more experienced ones, who would have possibly been better suited to bear the child of a god? Was it merely an issue of purity, which has been associated with virginity by many ancient cultures, or was there perhaps something more to this motif, something less terrestrial perhaps? If the ancient mythical systems were rooted in astrological symbolism, or ‘astrotheology’, what was the astronomical association between the virgin and the sun god?

Just in case you needed proof that Sherlock is just trying to put a scholarly veil on long debunked New Atheist myths. This is especially shown through his use of Horus. Once again, another unsourced statement. His sources, if they exist are probably from sources so embarrassing he’d never mention.

Charles Francois Dupuis adds:

‘It is a fact, which is independent of all hypothesis, independent of all the consequences, which I shall draw from it, that at the precise hour of midnight on the 25th December, in the centuries, when Christianity made its appearance, the celestial sign, which rose at the horizon, and the ascendant of which presided at the opening of the new solar revolution, was the Virgin of the constellations. It is another fact, that the God Sun, born at the winter solstice, is re-united with her and surrounds her with his lustre at the time of our feast of the Assumption, or the re-union of mother and son. And still another fact is that, when she comes out heliacally from the solar rays at the moment, when we celebrate her appearance in the World, or her Nativity. I shall not examine the motive, which caused these feasts to be fixed on these days: it is sufficient for me to say, that those are three facts, which no reasoning can destroy, and out of which an attentive observer, who is well acquainted with the genius of the ancient mystagogues, may draw great consequences…’[2]

Dupuis goes on to say:

‘At all events it is certain, that this same Virgin, the only one who can become mother without ceasing to be a virgin, fills the three great functions of the Virgin, the mother of Christ, be it in the birth of her son, or in that of her own, or in her conjunction with him in the Heavens. It is chiefly her function as mother, which we shall examine here. It is but natural to suppose, that those who personified the Sun, and who made it pass through the various ages of the human life, who imagined for it a series of wonderful adventures, sung either in poems or narrated in legends, did not fail to draw its horoscope, the same as horoscopes were drawn for other children at the precise moment of their birth. This was especially the custom of the Chaldeans and of the Magi. Afterwards this feast was celebrated under the name of “dies natalis” or the feast of the birthday. Now, the celestial Virgin, who presided at the birth of the God Day personified, was presumed to be his mother, and thus fulfil the prophecy of the astrologer, who had said: “A Virgin shall conceive and bring forth,” in other words, that she shall give birth to the God Sun, like the Virgin of Sais: from this idea are derived the pictures, which are delineated in the sphere of the Magi, of which Abulmazar has given us a description, and of which Kirker, Selden, the famous Pic, Roger Bacon, Albert the Great, Blaën, Stoffler and a great many others have spoken. We are extracting here the passage from Abulmazar. “We see,” says Abulmazar, “in the first decan, or in the ten first degrees of the sign of the Virgin, according to the traditions of the ancient Persians, Chaldeans, Egyptians, of Herime and of Aesculapius, a young maiden, called in the Persian language ‘Seclenidos de Darzanma,’ a name, when translated into Arabian by that of ‘Adrenedefa,’ signifies a chaste, pure and immaculate virgin, of a handsome figure, agreeable countenance, long hair and modest mien. She holds in her hand two ears of corn; she sits on a throne; she nourishes, and suckles a babe, which some call Jesus, and the Greeks call Christ.” The Persian sphere, published by Scaliger as a sequel of his notes, on Manilius, gives about the same description of the celestial Virgin; but there is no mention made of the child, which she suckles. It places alongside of her a man, which can only be Bootes, called the foster-father of the son of the Virgin Isis, or of Horus’.[3]

Of course, the only scholars who do support his cause (excluding primary evidence) are from centuries past. Dupuis also had no qualifications in history.

Moreover, Isis was described as the ‘Great Virgin,’ whose mythos probably contributed to the creation of the Virgin Mary of the Christian religion.

An unsourced statement, once again, and highly unlikely given the fact that Second Temple Judaism was decidedly Antipagan, they refused to visit theatres, as they were too pagan. They cut their hair short, as long hair was considered pagan. Do you really think they’d take ‘religious’ concepts, and apply it to their own?[2]

Moreover, Isis was described as the ‘Great Virgin,’ whose mythos probably contributed to the creation of the Virgin Mary of the Christian religion. There is little doubt regarding this fact, as Isis was not only represented as the virgin and the ‘Queen of Heaven’, but also as the mother of the son of the sun god Osiris. As stated earlier, the three of them constituted one of the most ancient trinities, symbolized later by the Pythagorean triangle, in which the hypotenuse (long side) symbolic of the divine child, was calculated as equal in length to the combination of the two shorter sides, which represented the divine or archetypal parents. The Christian trinity, however, erased any trace of the natural feminine principle embodied within the original trinity, which included the archetypal mother, and replaced it with a ghost. Herein lies the distortion of natural mythology by the unnatural and irrational theology. Whilst the ancient mythical systems were symbolically rooted in the real (mother, father and child, for example), theology is grounded in the unreal – father, son and ghost-daddy. Ancient mythographers took what was around them and created beautiful symbolic tales reflecting the symmetry of nature, and its principles, whereas the theologians attempted to usurp such symbolism and create their own universe from purely fictitious and credulous foundations.

It should go without saying that this is wrong. Not only did Second Temple Jews already have their own trinitarian ideas, but they were decidedly antipagan. And guess what? Another unsourced statement!

Discussing the credulity of the theological interpretations of mythological concepts as it relates to the Virgin Mary, Dr Alvin Boyd Khun said:

‘Pagan representation of abstract truth exalted the mothers of the sun-Christs to the rank of goddesses. None are human. Christianity fell into the allegory, or fell for the allegory when it took Mary (Maia, Maya, Meri, Moira, Myrrha, Miriam, etc.) to be a human girl. It has vainly tried to correct the error by deifying her’.[6]

The fact that Sherlock’s only sourced statement comes from a 20th century Theosophist whose only meaningful qualifications were in Theosophy, tells you all you need to know. But he quotes him because he’s the only person saying what he want’s to hear. Rather than relying on a confirmation bias, Sherlock should do some actual research, even if that means making the foundations of Christianity less weak. Not all of those names share an etymology. Maia comes from the Greek word for mother, Myrrha comes from a Semitic root meaning bitter, for example.

The nineteenth-century religious scholar and author J.M Roberts, quoting from the works of Charles F. Dupuis, in which Dupuis described the astrological architecture of the famous Cathedral in France, Notre Dame, adds:

‘The Virgin of the Zodiac which should have occupied that panel, is placed in the large central panel of the door, holding in her arms an infant effigy or representation of the new born Sun, which, according to all the so-called heathen systems of religion was supposed to be born of the zodiacal Virgin, at midnight, at the winter solstice (December 25th), an event which Christians celebrate, in concert with the heathens of every hue, or condition of savagery or civilization, at that precise hour. The church of Notre Dame or ” Our Lady,” stands on the site of a sacred grove of the ancient Gallic Druids, consecrated to the mother goddess of the northern nations; afterward appropriated by the Roman conquerors of Gaul as the site of a temple consecrated to Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty, and now consecrated to Mary, the Christian successor of the same zodiacal virgin mother of the Sun’.[7]

Citing a 19th century Spiritualist who gained his mythicist ideas from ‘Spirit messages’. Yet another example of the dreadful quality of the few sources he does cite.

In short, Sherlock’s terrilby researched article is what you’d expect from a Theosophist, or New Age writer, not a rational New Atheist.

[1] The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John, Daniel Boyarin, The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 94, No. 3 (Jul., 2001), pp. 243-284


Michael Sherlock is no more reliable on religion than Dan Brown. He’s good in science but is out of his depth here. Anybody who buys into his crap is indulging in coprophagia. btw, there is no direct parallel in paganism to the virgin birth in the infancy narratives in the Bible.

(Stephen Matheson) #3

Looks like an insignificant crank to me. Will there be followup posts about why we should care about this dude?


LOL. I will have to remember that one!


I take back the first part of this statement. He’s not notable in science either.


I do hope somebody will answer this question. (I’m now wondering why my post called"The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’ s Wife" was closed for being irrelevant.)

(RiderOnTheClouds) #7

Can anyone respond to the claims made by this channel’s ‘was zeitgeist right’ series? I’d rather not remain stupid.


(Stephen Matheson) #8

I don’t think a silly little channel, with videos watched less than 50 times each, is worthy of even being watched much less a response.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #9

He actually cites some scholars though. Like I said, I’d rather not remain stupid.

(Stephen Matheson) #10

You are clearly not stupid, so there’s no risk of remaining so. Wisdom is another matter, and while you seem wise and thoughtful beyond your years, I think (just my opinion here) you should weigh the relevance and credibility of internet voices just a little more carefully.


You seem eager to battle against “new” atheists, and that eagerness may lead you to fight against shadows and strawmen at times. Kooks exist in every group of humans, and you may need to use some discernment to differentiate between serious arguments put forth by atheists and crazy people on the internet.

(Juan Romero) #12

As I said before, "Michael Sherlock is what you get when you take Richard Carrier’s bad history, DM Murdock’s love for the false causation fallacy, Richard Dawkins’ way of presenting (bad) arguments and Christopher Hitchens’ great rhetoric but use it for speaking nonsense, combined with an aggressive behaviour. He thinks Murdock was a great scholar, so that should give you a clue of what you should expect from him.

Replace “Dan Brown” with “Acharya S/DM Murdock”, it looks way better and it is far more accurate :slight_smile:

He is.

He promotes REALLY bad history. He learnt from Acharya S, so you should expect some HORRIBLE history from him. Plus, he is one of those atheists who love using the word “reason” for everything. I remember someone who said “If a website contains the words ‘reason’ or ‘rational’, or a person uses those words to describe himself/herself, you should not expect much”.

I think responding to TruthSurge and his historical nonsense would be better. Together with a group of friends (we call ourselves “The New Theists”), we are planning to answer his “10 questions Christians can’t answer”

And to this too.

Since you are interested in New Atheist bad history, you should check out his series.

As I said weeks ago, he uses Dennis MacDonald’s thesis about the gospel of Mark and the Homeric epics.


Their name is legion, for they are many.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #14

How would you respond to some of his questions?

(Juan Romero) #15
  1. Depends on your interpretation of the flood account, and, because of all the evidence, it seems that the flood was local, so no kangaroos.

  2. Genesis 6:16

This guy has a great explanation about this:

  1. Depends on your interpretation of the Genesis account. The guy above also explains that.

  2. Depends on your interpretation. The guy above, who has a degree in psychology, also talks about this.

  3. It was already rolled away, if I remember correctly.

  4. At least five women:
    -Mary Magdalene
    -Mary the mother of Jesus
    -Mary the mother of James and Joses/Joseph
    I think there was another one, but I don’t remember.

  5. Watch the video I left there.

  6. One. Again, watch the video above.

  7. Jacob. The video explains it better.

  8. Watch the video.