Friday, February 01, 2008

"Zeitgeist" - A Case Study in Non-Critical Nonsense

I recently encountered a young man who watched a movie called "Zeitgeist" and, as a result, left Christianity and even all religion.

So, I pulled it up and watched it online.

The website's statement says:

"Zeitgeist, produced by Peter Joseph, was created as a nonprofit filmiac expression to inspire people to start looking at the world from a more critical perspective and to understand thatvery often things are not what the population at large think they are. The information in Zeitgeistwas established over a year long period of research and the current Source page on this site lists the basic sources used / referenced...

... Now, it's important to point out that there is a tendency to simply disbelieve things that arecounter to our understanding, without the necessary research performed. For example, some information contained in Part 1 and Part 3, specifically, is not obtainedby simple keyword searches on the Internet. You have to dig deeper. For instance,very often people who look up "Horus" or "The Federal Reserve" on the Internet draw their conclusions from very general or biased sources. Online encyclopedias or text book Encyclopedias often do not contain the information contained in Zeitgeist. However, if one takes the time to read the sources provided, they will find that what is being presented is based on documented evidence...

...It is my hope that people will not take what is said in the film as the truth, but find out for themselves, for truth is not told, it is realized."

These are lofty claims that are not realized. Anyone who buys into the "research" done in "Zeitgeist" actually proves its point by being so non-scholarly. The young man who left Christianity as a result of watching this thing is a perfect example of not "looking at the world from a more critical perspective."

For two resources that debunk the idea that, e.g., the Jesus story is indebted to Egyptian mythology (and other mytholologies), see my August 22 post below.

Then, go the the extended critical comments by Ben Witherington here. Witherington writes, among other things: "There is no hint of any direct influence of either that religion or Egyptian religion per se, in the Old Testament or New Testament. You will not be finding seminars at the national SBL meeting on how Zoroastrian religion and Egyptian religion explains all we need to know about the origins of Biblical religion.Indeed, what you can find in the Bible is the deconstruction of other culture's myths, or better said the demythologizing of such material, by Biblical writers doing polemics."

Witherington rightly exposes the weird pseudo-scholarly bibliography "Zeitgeist" draws on, to include mushroomist John Allegro and the myth-intoxicated S. Acharya (!).