Pagan Gods Were
by Brian Forbes
(c) 2014 Brian Forbes
There is a unanimous ancient perspective that directly contradicts the theory of evolution. It is being ignored by scholars in the modern day. Many pagan gods were mortal men. They were born, waged war, conferred advantages, had children, and died, whereupon they were deified by their descendants.
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The theory of evolution is easily refuted by many powerful arguments and proofs. The watchmaker argument is perhaps the oldest and most famous. The Mt. St. Helens evidence as a template for stratification and the carving of canyons can be boiled down to a few sentences and photographs. The kings of many European tribes can trace their genealogies back to Noah. Another evidence that is of this caliber, which has yet to be given its proper place in the origins debate is that of the common ancestry of all men through the "gods" of pagan (especially Greek and Roman) mythology.
At first glance this concept, that many to most pagan gods were mortal men, seems highly speculative – a conspiracy theory on a government protest website. It is not wild speculation. On the contrary, this was a position taken by nearly all historians of antiquity. The most skeptical, naturalistic authors were not ambiguous on this point, and there was very little deviation. This is my opinion, but you don't have to accept it because of me. The opinion of an uncredentialed spectator means little in this scholarly, pompous world. That is why I aim to bring you the opinion of these ancient authors in their own words. The experts of antiquity will show that Darwinism does not match the traditions of Paganism, Judaism, or any other ancient perspective on the origin of mankind.
I'm going to work my way back through history from the modern day. Understand that mine is just a sampling. There are many more examples we can point to.
In the modern day, there are a few historians who are asserting that pagan gods were men, but they are largely being ignored. They are not being refuted. That would be something. They are not being acknowledged. Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. wrote an article on creation.com in which he says, "While the Chad Ape-man and other hoaxes of evolutionary ‘science’ have made it to the front pages of America’s newspapers, my books, Athena and Eden and Athena and Kain, have been ignored by the mainstream." Dr. Ken Johnson of Biblefacts.org has also personally expressed his frustration to me at being ignored. I have been ignored. Why we are ignored will be left to be speculated on by others. Suffice it to say that I haven't ever seen a refutation of this evidence, whereas I have seen countless examples of corroboration.
Going back a little into modern history, we come upon a few books that agree that ancient mythology was corrupted history. A good example of this is the Compendium of World History (~ 1960). In Chapter 1, the author agonizes that this "new interpretation" of history, namely the Godless, atheistic, evolutionary view is not being questioned in academia. "What many do not realize is that the modern world-view of history without God is a radically new interpretation of human experience. Almost no one today, it seems, has ever questioned whether this new interpretation is right. It is merely assumed to be right." Yet it is not right, as you will see. He says in chapter 16, “Unfortunately the archaeologist and the modern historian, discarding both Greek myth and historical fact, have created new and more fabulous myths.” As we trace historical speculations through history, we find that this interpretation becomes even more prevalent. The dates given for the following authors are rounded for simplicity.
On the cusp of the enlightenment, we find that great and learned men believed that the gods were once men. Isaac Newton (~ 1700 AD) connected the gods to biblical figures. He said, "In this tradition the Egyptians honour their father Osiris with the whole administration. If you correct them in this point & make Ham the Lord of all & conceive that Osyris took this journey southward to search his inheritance you will here have the division of the Countries of Ham amongst his children. For Hercules is Chus, Osiris is Misraim, Antæus is Phut & Busiris is Canaan as I find by other records compared with this." To him, not only were these gods merely deified men, we can connect them to names in Genesis. If someone wants to complain that Newton was a scientist and not a historian (which is an appeal to authority, thus not a valid argument), we can show that a contemporary of his, Richard Lynche (~ 1600 AD), had no problem with this idea either. "[Cham or Ham] was commanded by his father [Noe, or Noah] to depart, with his wife Noegla [...] he established himself as king and Saturn of Egypt, where he erected and build a city called Chem-Myn: and among them also, he himself was called Pan [...]"
The famous Augustine of Hippo (~ 400 AD) wrote, “But was that Euhemerus also a poet, who declares both Jupiter himself, and his father Saturn, and Pluto and Neptune his brothers, to have been men, in terms so exceedingly plain that their worshippers ought all the more to render thanks to the poets, because their inventions have not been intended so much to disparage them as rather to dress them up? Albeit Cicero mentions [... quote] If, indeed, I were to attempt to search into antiquity, […] it would be found that even those deities who are reckoned gods of the higher orders have gone from us into heaven. Ask whose sepulchres are pointed out in Greece [… end quote …]he spoke of Romulus in these words: [quote] By good will and repute we have raised to the immortal gods that Romulus who founded this city. How should it be such a wonderful thing, therefore, to suppose that the more ancient men did with respect to Jupiter and Saturn and the others what the Romans have done with respect to Romulus, and what, in good truth, they have thought of doing even in these more recent times also in the case of Cæsar?[end quote]” For those who don't like the archaic language of this quote, let me simplify it. There was an ancient author, Euhemerus by name, who said that the pagan gods of the higher order were simply men. Their graves could be pointed out in Greece. They started life as men and were deified and "dressed up" by those who survived them. We see an example of this in Romulus and Cesar as was stated by Cicero.
Here is a passage from Acts to show that this was a pagan practice common enough to be captured in the pages of scripture. "On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, 'This is the voice of a god, not of a man.' Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died." (Acts. 12:21-23 NIV)
It is at this point that we reach what is commonly known as antiquity. I believe that this period of time is demarked as such because of the great divide in Europe between an organized belief in pagan gods and a national change to Christianity. For this reason, all the sources I cite from this point on will have a special knowledge of Paganism - their beliefs, their practices, and their history. Paganism was still common in their day. Before you read any further, take a minute to recall what you know about this ancient religion. Ask yourself why anyone would believe it. They built temples, sculptures, wrote plays, held games, made sacrifices, etc. to those they said were gods. They worshiped beings with birth stories and character flaws. Why?
Some people use arbitrary standards for accepting or rejecting a source. Among the modern day humanists, there is an unreasonable hatred of anything spiritual. Yet, the more moderate Romans paid religious historians to write their people's history. We shouldn’t ignore religious historians simply because they referenced books that referred to the Jewish God. Pagan sources mentioned their pagan gods. Rejection of all sources that have a religious tint leaves very few books from that era to study. You can feel free to accept or reject any of my sources for any reason, rational or otherwise, but you will find upon deeper examination that every one of these authors applied a strict standard of skepticism to the accounts they wrote. Just like many of us, they didn’t believe everything that they came across. Every author I quote here was greatly honored in their time. They were highly respected for their histories. They were memorialized with quality statues and paintings. Many people through time have found their writings to be trustworthy.
Eusebius (~ 300 AD), a Christian, was critical of the concept of an old humanity. "In the second book [Berosus] lists the kings, one after another, and he says that the time of the ten kings, which we mentioned above, lasted for longer than 400,000 years. Anyone who believes that these writers are telling the truth about such a huge number of years should believe all the other improbable stories that they tell. Such a length of time is clearly supernatural, and is not worthy of belief, even if it is explained in a different way." Within the memory of those who wrote his source histories, there was an organized division of all of the land on the globe. "After the flood, the human race throughout the whole world was derived from three men. Japheth was the ancestor of the inhabitants of Europe, from Mount Amanus to the western ocean. Ham was [the ancestor of the inhabitants] of Egypt, Libya and all the regions to the west in that direction. And Shem, who was the eldest brother, [was the ancestor] of the Assyrians, and all the peoples of the east."
Egypt remembered their first king. "The first man amongst the Egyptians was Hephaestus, who discovered fire for them; he was the father of Sol [the Sun]. After him came [(?)Agathodaemon; then] Cronus; then Osiris; then Typhon the brother of Osiris; and then Horus the son of Osiris and Isis. These were the first rulers of the Egyptians." I will note here that there are many similar detailed and organized lists of kings in the writings of Eusebius. Each list begins with what he calls the first king, their length of reign, and what they or their time periods were famous for. He was also in the habit of mixing real history with mythology. “[Cephalion] adds: ‘…In a later generation, when Pannyas was king of the Assyrians, the expedition of the Argonauts sailed to the river Phasis, and to Medeia of Colchis. They say that Heracles left the ship because of his love for Hylas, and wandered amongst the Cappadocians.’”
I see a clear message from Eusebius. Nations had relatively recent beginnings shortly after the land was split into three major divisions, and their first kings were deified as gods.
Justin Martyr (~ 150 AD), in his letter of appeal for his own life, wrote, "And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Caesar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre? And what kind of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter, it is needless to tell to those who already know. This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods." It was commonly believed that if a man was good enough, he could become a god too. For Justin Martyr, their belief was so common that his claim didn't require support. In fact, his claim was the support.
Josephus (~ 70 AD) was a Jew, and Jews are religious. Josephus criticized those who rejected God and turned to paganism. "[God] plunges such as do not walk in the paths of virtue into inevitable miseries. [...]they followed fables, and by their discourses transferred the most reproachful of human vices unto the gods, and afforded wicked men the most plausible excuses for their crimes..." Note that in the opinion of Josephus these gods were the projections of men; they were fables. Although it’s hard to find Josephus calling any historical figure a god, he does mention some names that are found among the other nations as gods. "He [Nimrod, also known as Ninus, son of Belus] also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach!" It was said, however, that the next judgment won’t be with water. "Adam's [prediction was] that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence and quantity of water..." He takes what is clearly a superior history back to the very organization and division of nations. "...each colony took possession of that land which they light upon, and unto which God led them; so that the whole continent was filled [...] and some of those nations do still retain the denominations which were given them by their first founders..." It is true for the nations local to Israel, but it is also true of nations further away. "For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites. [...] from Madai came the Madeans, who are called Medes […] Thiras also called those whom he ruled over Thirasians; but the Greeks changed the name into Thracians." With this small sample, you can get a flavor of how he enumerates many nations in Europe, Africa, and Asia, giving the name of the founder, the nation, and the corruption of the name by the Greeks. Without good reason, many in the modern day have chosen to reject the scriptures as fables, yet the best connections between nations and their patriarchs can be found in the Jewish account. Semites were from Shem, Assyrians were from Asshur, Canaanites were from Canaan, Moab and Ammon, sons of Lot, had nations associated with them, and Eber (Hebrews) and Aram (Aramaic language) all attest to the quality of the record. Many historians through time have lauded the quality of the Jewish record. Jewish heroes weren’t deified. Their historians took great care in being accurate and unembellished. The Romans trusted Josephus, and Josephus trusted Moses.
I see a clear message from Josephus. The nations divided shortly after the languages did, and the nations had corresponding patriarchal kings for whom they were named. Reproachful vices were transferred to them upon being deified as gods.
Pliny the Elder (~ 70 AD) recounts: "Berosus excelled in astrology; and on account of his divinations and predictions, a public statue was erected in his honour by the Athenians."
Strabo (~ 0 AD), who wanted to be scientifically accurate, wrote, "[M]ost of the writers who discuss the same topics that Homer discusses, and also most of the various local traditions, can teach us that these matters are not fictions of poets nor yet of prose writers, but are traces of real persons and events." He also gives a reason for the changes. "Now inasmuch as Homer referred his myths to the province of education, he was wont to pay considerable attention to the truth. ‘And he mingled therein’ a false element also, giving his sanction to the truth, but using the false to win the favour of the populace and to out-general the masses. ‘And as when some skilful man overlays gold upon silver,’ just so was Homer wont to add a mythical element to actual occurrences, thus giving flavour and adornment to his style..."
Diodorus Siculus (~ 50 BC) wrote, "For some readers set up an unfair standard and require in the accounts of the ancient myths the same exactness as in the events of our own time, and using their own life as a standard they pass judgment on those deeds the magnitude of which throw them open to doubt, and estimate the might of Heracles by the weakness of the men of our day, with the result that the exceeding magnitude of his deeds makes the account of them incredible. In the theatres, for instance, though we are persuaded there have existed no Centaurs who are composed of two different kinds of bodies nor any Geryones with three bodies, we yet look with favour upon such products of the myth as these, and by our applause we enhance the honour of the god."
Thucydides (~ 400 BC) made it a point to be accurate. He said, “He must not be misled by the exaggerated fancies of the poets, or by the tales of chroniclers who seek to please the ear rather than to speak the truth. Their accounts cannot be tested by him; and most of the facts in the lapse of ages have passed into the region of romance. At such a distance of time he must make up his mind to be satisfied with conclusions resting upon the clearest evidence which can be had.” Then he made this claim. “…under the leadership of a Corinthian, Phalius, son of Eratocleides, who was of the lineage of Heracles…” He also reached back into the writings of Homer, the mythographer, for details on a historical event. “And we may fairly suppose the Trojan expedition to have been greater than any which preceded it, although according to Homer, if we may once more appeal to his testimony, not equal to those of our own day.” He understands that Homer's account isn't entirely accurate. "He was a poet, and may therefore be expected to exaggerate; yet, even upon his showing, the expedition was comparatively small."
(~ 50 BC)
"Our founder Dardanus, as fame has sung,
And Greeks acknowledge, from Electra sprung:
Electra from the loins of Atlas came;
Atlas, whose head sustains the starry frame.
Your sire is Mercury, whom long before
On cold Cyllene's top fair Maia bore.
Maia the fair, on fame if we rely,
Was Atlas' daughter, who sustains the sky.
Thus from one common source our streams divide;
Ours is the Trojan, yours th' Areadian side."
In short, the Areadians and the Trojans were both descended from Atlas.
Herodotus (~ 450 BC) said, "The Heraclides, descended from Hercules..." and "On the death of Lycurgus they built him a temple, and ever since they have worshipped him with the utmost reverence." He draws connections between the gods of Egypt and Greece. “The Egyptians […] first brought into use the names of the twelve gods, which the Greeks adopted from them; and first erected altars, images, and temples to the gods […] the first man who ruled over Egypt was Min…” And to top it off, "I made inquiry of the priests whether the story which the Greeks tell about Ilium is a fable, or no." Herodotus had to ask if one of the Greek myths was a fable, as if they weren’t all fables. “Hercules is one of the gods of the second order, who are known as ‘the twelve’; and Bacchus belongs to the gods of the third order, whom the twelve produced. […] from Bacchus, who is the youngest of the three, they reckon fifteen thousand years to the reign of that king. In these matters they say they cannot be mistaken, as they have always kept count of the years, and noted them in their registers. But from the present day to the time of Bacchus […] is a period of not more than sixteen hundred years; to that of Hercules, son of Alcmena, is about nine hundred; while to the time of Pan, son of Penelope (Pan, according to the Greeks, was her child by Mercury), is a shorter space than to the Trojan war, eight hundred years or thereabouts.” For more detailed calculations, see Eusebius’ corrections. Notice that the Egyptians have “always kept count” of the years - since the beginning. If you doubt this, look it up for yourself. These ancient historians constantly refer back to the beginning of nations, and often to the beginning of the world. Like Josephus, he also discusses the division of land in thirds. "For my part I am astonished that men should ever have divided Libya [Africa], Asia, and Europe as they have, for they are exceedingly unequal. […] As for Libya, we know it to be washed on all sides by the sea, except where it is attached to Asia." To the point, just a few sections later... "For my part I cannot conceive why three names, and women's names especially, should ever have been given to a tract which is in reality one […] According to the Greeks in general, Libya was so called after a certain Libya, a native woman, and Asia after the wife of Prometheus. The Lydians, however, put in a claim to the latter name, which, they declare, was not derived from Asia the wife of Prometheus, but from Asies, the son of Cotys, and grandson of Manes, who also gave name to the tribe Asias at Sardis. As for Europe, no one can say whether it is surrounded by the sea or not, neither is it known whence the name of Europe was derived, nor who gave it name, unless we say that Europe was so called after the Tyrian Europe, and before her time was nameless, like the other divisions." Let’s be honest, how long could a land go nameless? If nobody lived there, it could be a very long time, but how can man live for a hundred thousand years without naming a continent?
I see a clear message from all these historians. The mythologies were real stories, embellished in the retelling.
A skeptic might ask
for more proof at this point, not being satisfied with what was given. I say that even if I give dozens or hundreds
of references, the skeptic won't be satisfied.
Their problem is not with the evidence, but the implications. I advise that he look honestly into this
himself. The examples are ample and
obvious from most of history.
There are a few things that are abundantly clear in reading these histories. These historians thought they had a general idea of when humanity started. They had common stories about the birth of gods, yet they didn't have a common language. How long does it take for languages to diverge? How long does it take for mythical accounts to diverge? This is further complicated by the flood histories around the globe. We know how these nations started. We know the citizens of these nations worshiped their founders as gods. There's another thing that is clear, and Isaac Newton uses two biblical proofs to demonstrate it. The nations of Shinar and Elam were defeated by Abraham with an army of 318 men. Egypt was so thinly peopled before Moses that Pharaoh said that the Israelites were more and mightier than they were. As you just saw, Thucydides makes clear this same point about the Trojan expedition. Do you see the point here? There wasn’t much time; there weren’t many people. History can't go back 50-100 thousand years as would be expected with the Theory of Evolution. These historians tell us plainly how it all started. We don’t have to make up our own mythology.
If evolution can work with the details of these records, I have no clue how. Yet those who want to accept evolution will find a way... or ignore it. May we never be so deaf.
About the author:
education brings money, position, or honor, and not desiring any of them, Brian
Forbes chose to skip a formal education in favor of independent learning. Brian Forbes has no credentials
whatsoever. May the argument be won or
lost on its merit, not on an appeal to authority fallacy!
This article was a summary of the facts found in his book, From Noah to Hercules, which can be viewed at http://FromNoahtoHercules.com/
 Compendium of World History by Hermon L Hoeh. http://www.cgca.net/coglinks/wcglit/hoehcompendium/hhc1toc.htm
 Papers relating to chronology by Isaac Newton. http://www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk/view/texts/normalized/THEM00098
 Travels of Noah into Europe by Richard Lynche. http://www.argyrou.eclipse.co.uk/myths/bible/Travels.htm
 The First Apology of Justin Martyr. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/justinmartyr-firstapology.html
 Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/ant-1.htm
 The Natural History by Pliny the Elder. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text;?doc=Perseus%3atext%3a1999.02.0137
 The Geography by Strabo. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Strabo/
 The Library of History by Diodorus Siculus. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Diodorus_Siculus/
 Eusebius said, "Perhaps these so-called sars were originally measured not in years, but in some very small period of time. For instance, the ancient Egyptians talked about lunar years…" and "It says that the ten generations lasted for 120 sars, which is the equivalent of 430,000 years. The reader who is keen to know the truth can easily understand, from what we have already said, that Xisuthrus is the same as the man who is called Noah by the Hebrews, in whose time the great flood occurred." He said more, but it’s beyond the scope of our study. Read it in context.
 Flood myths compiled by Mark Isaak. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.html - Let it be noted that there are more things in common with these accounts than a flood. There are practices such as honoring the dead and idolatry that also lend to the fact of recent common ancestry.
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