Hot! “The Zeitgeist Movie and Other Myth Claims about Jesus”

“The Zeitgeist Movie and Other Myth Claims about Jesus” 

Greg Koukl (Stand to Reason)

There’s a challenge to Christianity that seems to be growing in popularity: The Jesus we worship is just a fiction, a conglomeration of myths from the past. A film on the Internet called “Zeitgeist,” apparently well done, attempts to make the case that Jesus was a fiction created by cobbling together pieces of myths, such as Mithras and Zoathra. Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for the Real Jesus, has a whole chapter on this subject, and I recommend it highly for the case it makes for the historical Jesus. The challenge in “Zeitgeist” is why we should consider the stories of Adonis, Osiris, and the other pagan mystery saviors as fables, yet treat as factual essentially the same story told in a Jewish context.

I want you to think about this for a moment. Part of what we do at Stand to Reason is, not just teach you what to think, but teach you how to think. So I’m going to sum up the argument, and I want you to ask yourself whether it works. What is the big idea of this challenge?

People make the challenge that Jesus is a fiction. How do we know He’s a fiction? Because some of the details of His life have appeared in other literature from the past. There are some past mythical figures that have virtually all the characteristics Jesus has in the Gospels: born of a virgin, 12 disciples, betrayed by a friend, died and rose again, etc. The Jesus story is just a reworking of those myths. You can see bits and pieces of the details borrowed from different myths that are just cobbled together to create the story of Jesus. This is taken as evidence.

Think about this. The claim is that Jesus is a fiction, a myth like the other so-called saviors in ancient literature. The evidence for that claim is pieces of seemingly similar detail from clearly and uncontroversially mythical characters. And the conclusion is that the story of Jesus must also be fictional.

Is that a good argument? And if not, why not?

I say these stories are allegedly similar because we are presuming the facts asserted in the challenge are true. In the Tactics book, you’ll find a chapter called “Just the Facts, Ma’am.” Sometimes certain challenges with regards to Christianity can be resolved by just getting the facts straight. And that’s one of the keys to answering this challenge. The facts in the challenge just aren’t accurate.

Mithras is an individual in one of these mystery religions. The claim is that Mithras was born of a virgin and that’s a parallel with Jesus, but not even the mythical Mithras was born of a virgin. Mithras was born out of a rock so there is no parallel there. The challengers claim Mithras was born on December 25th, but Jesus wasn’t born on that date. There is no biblical or Christian claim that Jesus was actually born on this date. We simply celebrate His birth on that date.

It turns out that a lot of the facts don’t match up as claimed. There are problems with the factual characterizations of these other mythologies insofar as they allegedly parallel the life of Jesus. But even if we take the facts offered at face value – even if Mithras was born of a virgin, and Jesus was born on December 25th – there’s something else even more fundamental with this challenge. This is a classic example of application of the Colombo tactic, the second question. Once we get a clear picture of what they believe—Jesus is a myth—we want to know why they believe it.

Here’s the problem. This is an example of circular reasoning. It’s an example of assuming what you are trying to prove. (It also falters in another way and I’ll explain that in a moment.) I have said in the past that whenever anyone attacks something other than the Christian claim itself that they’re missing the point. For example, they are missing the point when we say that Jesus is the Messiah, risen from the dead, and someone responds by sayings that we believe that only because we were raised in a Christian country. Notice how these objections are not focusing on the idea, they’re focusing on you. That’s a mistake. That should be a red flag whenever the argument is about something else.

Continue reading…

Greg Koukl is a Christian, radio talk show host, author and speaker/teacher. He is the founder of Stand To Reason, a Christian organization dedicated to the articulation and defense of the Christian worldview (


For more resources regarding the Zeitgeist claims, be sure and check out the following:



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