Thanks to centuries of the most insistent and aggressive indoctrination campaign the world has ever seen, the biography of Jesus is familiar to more people than any other. Socrates, Charlemagne, Shakespeare, Napoleon: there are many who have never heard of them, or who only vaguely recognize their names. But all of Western civilization and most of the rest of the world "knows" Jesus' life story.
Everybody "knows" that Jesus was begotten by a god and born of a virgin, attended by angels, shepherds, and gift-giving wise men. His infancy was threatened by an evil king who had babies slaughtered in a futile effort to kill him. When grown, he gathered a group of 12 disciples and went about teaching that his adherents would gain eternal life. He walked on water, healed the sick, exorcised devils, made the blind see and the lame walk.
He was anointed with chrism and thus made into a Christ (which means "anointed one") by a mysterious woman who may or may not have been his lover, depending on which gospel you read, and who was the sole official annunciator of his later resurrection. After a triumphal procession accompanied by waving palms and the traditional obsequies of a sacred king, he attended a meal at which he was symbolically cannibalized, the eating of his flesh and blood deemed necessary for his followers' absolution. Then he was scourged, crucified, died and descended into the underworld. Later he returned to earth, apparently alive again, and then ascended bodily into the sky, where he somehow still lives and pays attention to all the doings of humanity. These things are "known," and commemorated every year, over and over.
But during the past century or so, scholars have shown that all these "known" details of Jesus' life story are mythic: that is, they were told for many centuries before his time about many previous savior-gods and legendary heroes in pre-Christian lore. Not a single detail of Jesus' life story can be considered authentic. Some investigators have tried to peel away the layers of myth in search of a historical core, but this task is like peeling the layers of an onion. It seems that there is no core. The layers of myth go all the way to the center.
One of the problems faced by Christian scholars is that there is no record of Jesus' existence in any contemporary source. The earliest literature concerning him was written by Paul, who never knew him or anyone else who might have known him, and who never heard anything about his life story. Paul mentioned none of these now-so-familiar details, which were added much later by unknown writers who pretended to bear the names of various disciples, and who sprinkled their writings with mythic data gathered from sacred-king traditions of contemporary Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Persian, and Levantine salvation cults.
By Barbara G. Walker
The rest can be found here: [url]ffrf.org/fttoday/2007/aug/walker.php[/url] (for some reason, I cannot get this to hyperlink, just copy and paste and it will take you right to the article)
This is an awesome explanation for why I personally don't believe in any god and essentially why I am an atheist. From now on, when someone questions my nonbelief, I am going to hand them a copy of this article.