Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Gospel According to Thor; or Thor vs Jesus


This is part of what I hope will be an ongoing series on my blog. This will be a continuation of a series of blog posts that compare Jesus to pagan and ancient figures whom skeptics claim at best inspired Christian understanding of Jesus and at worst stole their ideas. I've compared several figures and god to Jesus and found none come close to who the Bible says Jesus is and who I have found Jesus to be myself - a perfect savior.

I think the conclusions that people like James Patrick Holder have reached are correct in that the truth is that because many ancient myths were not written until after the Bible was completed and distributed it is far more likely that they where influenced by Christianity and not the other way around. I think that this is especially true today in fictional myths and stories are in circulation today. I wonder if Jesus' Second Coming is delayed for another 2000 years, will skeptics then think that Christianity was informed and influenced by comics books and film instead of the other way around?

In this Post - Thor

Let's see how Thor (historical myth, Marvel Comics character, and 2011 film) has been related to Christianity. It's important to remember that because there is a longing in the human heart - an incompleteness - It makes sense that people would try to fill the void and their solutions would in some ways be similar to the real solution.

The Myth

A god, named Thor, was worshiped by the Vikings and in northern Europe.Thor was the god of thunder and what the Norse people believed was that lightning storms were the result of Thor's enchanted hammer, Mjölnir, smacking frost giants into submission. He was called upon by people for protection. He had a magic belt, gloves, and aforementioned hammer. He could throw the hammer like a boomerang. One big difference between Norse mythology and the mythology of ancient cultures is that their story has an ending. An apocalyptic event they called Ragnarök - where like the British Sci-Fi series Red Dwarf - most of the characters (all the gods and most of humanity) all die. Thor dies taking out his nemesis - the giant midgard serpent. I admit Thor's personality is definitely entrenched in Viking culture. From what I have read he isn't like Superman at all. He fights because he like to fight not because he has to and not to just protect others. He is vulnerable to magic and can be tricked. Thor was the kind of person that the average Viking strove to become and had their weaknesses.

Marvel Comics

As for the comics, when Stan Lee decided to adapt Thor for Marvel Comics, he not only just took Thor but his whole back story, gave it a modern twist, and in some ways unconsciously Christianized the story. Odin sends Thor to earth to teach him humility. There are several things that were changed that I really liked. For example only worthy people can use the hammer. The Marvel Universe is full of fictional races of beings. By making one such race the Asgardian gods has fueled years of great stories. It was also genius to make Thor a member of the superhero community at Marvel. Thor can fly. In those first stories Thor spoke in Elizabethan English like Shakespeare and the King James Bible. Forsooth. Verily.

Loki is quite a bit different in the comics than he is from mythology. Loki wants to destroy Thor and rule Asgard. He comes off a lot more like Satan than he does in the Norse stories.

2011 Movie

The movie version of Thor definitely matches the Marvel version to a tee. One of the things liked best is the short suggestion that Norse people may had perhaps met Asgardians and thought that they were gods. The other things is like the Comic Books, Thor grows into a hero - someone who cares more about others than he does himself. The movie dealt with issues of sacrifice and parenting. Odin's relationship to Thor is complicated. But in the movie, he truly want what is best for his sons, Asgard, and to avoid war. Sounds familiar?


Here is the important point of the post. Jesus is very different from Thor in all of Thor's incarnations. Jesus came to earth voluntarily. Jesus doesn't just wield lightning. The wind, rain, and lightning all obey Jesus at His word. Jesus can do more than protect you from being stepped on by a frost giant, or getting killed by super villain. Jesus not only protects us but save us from ourselves and gives us eternal life. You also should remember that there was a time when Jesus and Thor were in direct competition when the Norse people were Christianized millinia ago. Jesus won. Christianity won so big that Norse mythology was rewritten so that at the end of Ragnarok, the only thing that survived was the great tree, Yggdrasil, - and born within it was a man and woman who remake the world - an And and Eve. The other thing is that Jesus is not like us. He doesn't approach life or circumstances as any of us would. If you were going to make up a messiah, he/she would look a lot more like Thor than Jesus Christ.

I found an interview with Merrill Kaplan, who teaches Norse literature and folklore to college students.

"In its way, Norse mythology is still alive," she said. "I don't mean paganism is alive, although there are people who have tried to revive rituals regarding these stories. But there has never been a point at which no one has been interested in this stuff.

"When the age of Norse paganism closed in history," she said, "the age of geeks opened."

The age of geeks?

Kaplan laughed, explaining that most of what we know about Norse mythology comes from monks and Christian writers who weren't worshipping these gods, but were just "geeking out" about how "cool" the stories were.

"Some of them were men in monasteries, professional men of the clergy, who thought these stories were really cool," she said. "It's the age of geeks that kept Norse myth alive. And I guess it's what continues to keep it alive."

Kaplan said there are also influences from Norse mythology that most people don't even realize. For example, "Thursday" derives from "Thor's Day."

"Somebody is always naming something after a Norse god or goddess or something in the myths," she said, citing Norwegian oil platforms called Thor and Odin. "In a way, the story of Norse mythology is still going on."

Concluding Remark

The stories are good and fun to read for sure. And Thor lives on in Comic Books but we must not forget that Jesus is a better savior than Thor could ever be.


THORSDAY: The Mythological Versus the Marvel THOR

Ragnarok - Wikipedia
Thor, Jesus and the Old Testament | HILLS BIBLE CHURCH BLOG
The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character - Thor
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My Common Sense Is Tingling: Debunking Christianity: Dr. Flannagan Denigrates Science, Why Am I Not Surprised?

John Loftus posted the following rebuttal to Dr Matt Flannagan accusing him of denigrating science. I'm really sick of Loftus saying that about people who believe in God hate science.

This is getting ridiculous and predictable. So let me get this straight, okay? In order to believe, Flannagan must denigrate science. Get it.? What utter rubbish. This alone should cause believers to question why they believe what they do based on their upbringing in a Christian culture. Science is the only antidote to how easily we can believe and defend what we were taught on our Mama's knees.

I had said:
You see, when you examine other religions you use the tools of science. All I’m saying it that you should use these same tools to examine your own. This is not a radical skepticism I’m proposing whereby someone must be skeptical of science or a material world. I’m proposing using the same level of skepticism you use to examine other faiths to your own faith.
Now read Matt's response closely:
So, what you are saying is that you don’t apply the OTF to the “tools of science” which are the premises you use to reject religion, but you do to religion and the premises religious people appeal to to defend religion.

But that’s my whole point, you apply it inconsistently, if you applied it consistently you would embrace a radical scepticism.

It there any reasoning with believers? There is a good reason why I say they are brainwashed, a really good reason. If a Christian philosopher says this there is no hope for the people who blindly accept what he has to say, since they cannot see through his obfuscations, non-sequiturs, and special pleading ways. See the tag below, "denigrate science to believe."

So in order to be skeptical of religious faith I must be skeptical about science? Science gives us the tools to be skeptical at all! Science has overthrown superstitious thinking since its inception. It is a given.

I don't understand how recognizing the limitations of science is equal to "denigrating" science. Loftus and many atheists have long recognized that science brings up more questions than it answers. This is one of the powers of science. I see nothing in anything Dr Flannagan has said that could be construed as saying "ignore anything you can learn from science." What does it really mean to "denigrate" science. Loftus seems to equate "denigration" with "blasphemy". By merely suggesting that you apply skepticism to the tools of science, Flannagan is asking for consistency. We all must admit that our reasoning powers and senses - tools of science - are not trustworthy. They can lead us down the wrong path. Why would one not carefully analyze all the evidence available to us - even scientific? I'd be just as worried about the truth of what we learn from fallible scientists as we do "from our Mamas." Let's us at least be consistent.Seems like Dr Flannagan struck a nerve as if he blasphemed a religion or something - because to John Loftus, he did.

Debunking Christianity: Dr. Flannagan Denigrates Science, Why Am I Not Surprised?
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Making a car for blind drivers [Video]

Alright a car that blind people can independently drive!!!!'

Using robotics, laser rangefinders, GPS and smart feedback tools, Dennis Hong is building a car for drivers who are blind. It’s not a “self-driving” car, he’s careful to note, but a car in which a non-sighted driver can determine speed, proximity and route — and drive independently.

Making a car for blind drivers [Video]
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Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: Calvin's Only Letter to Luther

I had often wondered had there been any kind of correspondence or discussion between John Calvin and Martin Luther while the two were both still alive. James Swan posted a letter from Calvin to Luther on his blog. Follow the link to read it!

Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: Calvin's Only Letter to Luther
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Quote of the Day: verybody is a genius. | The Angry Black Woman

Everybody is a genius. | The Angry Black Woman

5 Arguments that Calvinists Should Stop Using « scientia et sapientia

Dr. Marc Cortez has written an article positing five arguments that calvinists use that shouldn't be used. He brings up some good points about Arminians. It bears remembering that his points about Calvinists arguments are not straw men against some Arminians. because they actually think that way. It's well worth reading the article.

5 Arguments that Calvinists Should Stop Using « scientia et sapientia
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FacePalm of the Day #95 - Debunking Christianity: Good without gods

John Lofuts pointed out the following video on Debunking Christianity. It has several problems.

The video attempt to propose a few theoretical societies and does a great job in explaining how morality is not subjective but objective. I agreed with that. The video however fails to give an adequate explanation for how we know what we know is right and how we know something is wrong. Without this, we can't really judge if someone is wrong in what they do or say if my opinion is just as good as yours. The Bible explains to us how utterly lost we are and don't really know everything that is best for us. Homosexuality is a prime example. The video suggests that it harms no one. I disagree. And there is plenty of research that back this up. I suggest reading Dr. Michael Brown's book A Queer Thing Has Happened to America. It's clear that without God we are blind to what is best for us and what is wrong for us. We need God. The more society moves away from God, the worse it will become.

Debunking Christianity: Good without gods
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