Thursday, September 27, 2007

Zeitgeist: The Movie, Part 1: Introduction

If you haven't yet seen or heard about the web movie Zeitgeist, you probably will. It came out this summer and is causing a bit of a stir among young people. The word Zeitgeist is a German word meaning "spirit of the age," and the film is essentially trying to get at the primary laws and frauds of our society.

The movie is about 2 hours long and can be seen here. It is divided into three parts. After an intro and overview, Part 1 is titled "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and is about Christianity. The movie makes many outrageous claims that I will discuss further, but is essentially claiming that Christianity and the Bible are based on astrology and that Jesus never existed but was a copycat of many pagan deities and false gods. The 2nd part is titled "The Whole World is a Stage" and focuses on what they call the 9/11 conspiracy; you know, how the government is really responsible for 9/11. The third part is "The Men Behind the Curtain" (or something very close) and is about the Federal Reserve and how the men who control it are bent on world domination.

Now, I am no expert about 9/11 conspiracy theories or the Federal Reserve, so I won't comment any longer on these parts. I do however, know a little bit about the attacks on Christianity in part 1. I have decided to do a four part series on the Christian elements in Zeitgeist and address some of these claims that the creator makes. Before we start, though, you really should watch the movie, at least Part 1, so we are all speaking the same language (click on the link above). It is about a half an hour long and, be warned, there is some profanity. But, what I am going to be discussing will refer to the video, so it is better if you have seen it.

At this point, by way of an introduction to the film, I am going to make some general comments about the Movie as a whole. Here we go.

1. May we keep in mind that this is a conspiracy theory, put out by conspiracy theorists. They have an agenda (both anti-God and anti-government) and they are (apparently) trying to convert people to their side (i.e. making a free web movie to disperse freely and widely). These are important to note because they are obviously not objective sources. Now, to be fair, neither am I. I too believe something strongly and that, at times, can cloud my rational thinking. I too have an agenda; to share my knowledge and relationship with God with others. I must, therefore, be good at thinking critically even if the results are not always what I want. Ultimately we should want truth. So, that is the first thing to remember, that these are not impartial movie makers that decided to tackle this subject. Quite the opposite, in fact. They are radical conspiracy theorists who are dedicated to a belief system that is unfolded in the documentary.

2. This is that the documentary is not very academic and certainly not scholarly. They would like to claim differently, but many of their claims would be laughed at in the presence of scholars. The creator chooses to remain anonymous and we have no reason to belief he has any scholarly credentials. But, the goal of a conspiracy theory is to stir up the laymen, the common man. So, scholarship is not that important. They only need to be convincing enough to convince you and me. Some examples of this is that they do not quote scripture correctly. They never quote more that 1 verse in a row. Apparently context is a peripheral issue for them. There is no meaning without context. When they quote scripture, they either give no context at all, or they paraphrase the preceding context, which they get wrong (more on this later). They also misuse some terms, like "immaculate conception." This is a common mistake, but should not show up in well researched, scholarly work.

3. The scholarship they try to employ in this documentary is what would be described as liberal (this has nothing to do with politics). That is to say that when dating the books of the NT, you can date Paul's writings as early as the 50's, which would be the conservative view and, in my opinion, clearly the most accurate. You can also date Paul's writings as late as 140AD or later, and claim that it was not Paul, but someone else who wrote this as folklore to an existing group called Christians. This is the liberal view. This is convenient to conspiracy theorists because it removes any eyewitnesses from being involved in the writings, and thus discredits the documents.

The are some overarching generalities that are true of most conspiracy theorists. Next time I will dive into the meat of the documentary and challenge some of his claims. If you have seen the movie or watch it soon, post and let me know. I am interested to hear what is being said and what your responses are.



Nate Watson said...

Execellent comments on the film. I too felt helpless in deciphiring the truth of parts two and three. The great part about low budget indie documentaries like this, is that the creator is not required to site materials used in backing up his theories (like you said, not very scholarly).
BUT...if you look past his deconstuction of the "Jesus myth" using primarily correlations with the Egyptian deity Horus, you will fin his source, Gerald Massey. Horus is completely misrepresented in the Zeitgiest, and by Massey. Horus is to be identified as Pharaoh (divine, yes).
Massey himself was a SELF TAUGHT egyptologist, who was a caonspiracy theorist himself. He was tutored by Alvin Kuhn, a laughing stock in his day as well as today. Kuhn considered himself an expert in the feild of comparitive religion, but like Massey, he was self taught. Kuhn's presuppositions which influenced Massey led him to twist facts to link paganism as the basis of Christianity. Kuhn, undoubtedly was a source for Zeitgiest.
Massey finds the correlation between Horus and Jesus from ONE isolated hyroglyphic relief. Modern archeology dismisses this claim as not lining up with modern research. The only place you can find so many similarities between Jesus and Horus are in Massey's work. That is a sorry foundation for debunking the historicity of Jesus.
Sorry about the unorganization of my thoughts here.
I will be looking forward to more posts from you on this subject!

Nick said...

Thanks for your input and background into Massey, Nate. On the Zeitgeist page the creator does lists sources for each section, but it seems for the main info that his channel of info is Achyrya S -> Massey -> Kuhn.

I will be dealing with the Jesus/horun issue in my next post.

Nate Watson said...

Thanks! I would have never found that source list. Great post today!

Licht2202 said...

I love to see that people are not taking this movie seriously! Just about everything in the first part of the movie is a lie, so I can't imagine if anything in the 2nd two parts have any factual basis. Great stuff!