Joseph Atwill is a biblical scholar who is set to present new findings in London on the 18th. He says that Jesus was a story invented by Roman nobles to wage psychological warfare against the Jews in the first century.
Atwill’s argument seems to be as follows:
Rome was occupying Judea, but the Jews kept having violent uprisings, inspired by the prophecy of a coming messiah who will lead them all to victory against the Romans. Every uprising thought they were following the messiah. The Romans beat them tactically, but to beat them strategically they had to defeat the messiah myth. To do this they invented a peaceful messiah that told people to turn the other cheek and give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s (in other words, pay your taxes). Atwill backs this up with parallels between the writings of Josephus and the New Testament.
This has me thinking…
I haven’t read his work, but for now lets give Atwill the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is not a complete quack. If religions are psychological warfare devices, designed to control people for strategic value, then could that explain the weird deification of George Washington in many monuments in Washington DC? Could that explain why American Christianity is so different from Christianity in other parts of the world, and why Christianity changes so much throughout history?
Lets think mythologically about this, like how I think Joseph Campbell might have looked at the world…
Is this the kind of end game that the NSA’s psychological, epistemological warfare against the American people is leading to? I know that might sound like conspiracy theory craziness, but the government’s spying on American citizens and the deregulation of how they publish propaganda is not conspiracy theory. It is verifiable fact, and it clearly indicates an open campaign of psychological warfare against us American citizens. If they did decide to keep us all in line by inventing a religion, as Atwill argues the Romans did to the Jews, what would the NSA’s religion look like? If they invented a religion to destroy Islamic extremism, what would that look like? What goals would they target?
Lets throw common sense out the window and consider the underlying problem with this question: If the American powers that be had some kind of mind control ray that could make us believe anything they wanted, what statements would they make us believe? I do not actually believe in mind control rays, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that I don’t know what powerful people really want.
I should probably leave that question for the speculative fiction authors.
(full disclosure: I am an ex-Catholic atheist)