>And how about a word for good old secularism? I strongly doubt that
>Jesus was born of a virgin,
Well, if memory serves, Barbara Thiering argues there was a sect of nuns based in Qumran called Virgins, but who were not virgins (they could marry). Mebbe Mary was one such, or successfully claimed by the sect after the event.
>or rose from the dead.
Babs has an answer for that one, too. Jesus didn't die on the cross. On her account, the church would treat an excommunicated man as if physically dead, wrapping him in a shroud, and popping him in a tomb cave. S'pose you get to come back out if the elders recommunicate you. Voila! Lazarus and Jesus explained.
>Are all those incredible things just metaphors? Then why those metaphors?
Thiering reckons different metaphors make automatic sense in different times ( fair enough) and that the books that ended up in the Bible, being politically powerful and dangerously contentious stuff in their day, were even more metaphorically written than most - working at two levels, sorta like The Simpsons.
>not Wicca or the gods of Mt Olympus?
Isn't Wicca essentially Christian in inspiration, anyway? As I understand it, it goes back to the 9th century or so, and was all about exorcising demons or keeping them without.
And as for Mt Olympus, well, the Romans beat the Greeks and then Constantine took it from there, doing the expedient political thing in a part of the world that had always identified its earthly rulers with the divine order du jour, and opting for whatever monotheistic religion was going. After all, if there's only one God, and you're His Will on earth, then you're big news indeed. Good empire-unifying stuff.
>Like the man said, sad men made angels of the sun....
And mebbe it wouldn't have lasted if some clever bloke hadn't made an angel of himself in about 330 AD. That said, I accept Wallace's Feuerbachian point.