Euhemerism, the deadliest theory of atheism

Herodotus wrote that when Hecataeus (Greek historian 550-476 BCE) was in Egypt told the priests there that he descended from the gods:
Hecataeus the historian was once at Thebes, where he made a genealogy for himself that had him descended from a god in the sixteenth generation. (II, 143)
A modern parallel would have been that of an Indian person claiming that in his family tree there was an Englishman.
The priests retorted that there had been no man who descendent directly from a god for the last 345 generations, but that the gods did indeed rule as kings in Egypt:
But the priests of Zeus did with him as they also did with me (who had not traced my own lineage). They brought me into the great inner court of the temple and showed me wooden figures there which they counted to the total they had already given, for every high priest sets up a statue of himself there during his lifetime; pointing to these and counting, the priests showed me that each succeeded his father; they went through the whole line of figures, back to the earliest from that of the man who had most recently died. Thus, when Hecataeus had traced his descent and claimed that his sixteenth forefather was a god, the priests too traced a line of descent according to the method of their counting; for they would not be persuaded by him that a man could be descended from a god; they traced descent through the whole line of three hundred and forty-five figures, not connecting it with any ancestral god or hero, but declaring each figure to be a “Piromis" the son of a “Piromis"; in Greek, one who is in all respects a good man.
[144] Thus they showed that all those whose statues stood there had been good men, but quite unlike gods. Before these men, they said, the rulers of Egypt were gods, but none had been contemporary with the human priests. (II, 143-144)
Herodotus computed the 345 statues to correspond to 11,340 years. By adding 2,450 years that have elapsed since the time of Herodotus, we get an estimated age for the Egyptian priesthood of 13,790 years, meaning that according to the priests there had been no gods in Egypt for the last 13,790 years.
According to Manetho the gods’ reigns began at approximately 30,000 BCE and lasted for 13,900 years, i.e, up to 16,100 BCE
If we take 15,000 BCE as an estimated average date for the transformation of the gods into priests, we realize that Herodotus’ estimation confirms the official information supplied by Manetho.
It is obvious that to the ancients the gods were real people. The Acadian poem “Atrahasis" opens with a verse reading “Inuma ilu awilu”, meaning “When the gods [were] men".
The theory proposing that the myths are distorted accounts of historical events and that the gods were men in fully human status, is known as Euhemerism, from the ancient Greek mythographer Euhemerus (330-260 BC) who maintained that the gods were distinguished men who had been relegated to divine status by a grateful populace. He is known mainly as the author of a book called “Sacred History", which outlines his theory.
Early Christians adopted Euhemerism in their attempt to discredit the old gods: “Those to whom you bow were once men like yourselves" cried Clement of Alexandria, but Christian writers continued embracing Euhemerism up to the 18th century.
In his 2011 book, “The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems", former Baptist pastor and double PhD in religious studies Robert M. Price supported the Christ myth theory when he wrote “the story of Jesus which we have, in every form, remains a redemption myth constructed along the lines of the universal mythic hero archetype, with no “secular,” biographical material left over. When we are done dismantling the records and we begin ghoulishly picking through the scanty remains for clues to an underlying “historical Jesus,” like people scavenging gold from the teeth and fingers of the battlefield dead, are we perhaps engaging in Euhemerism?”* (source Wikipedia)
Euhemerus’ proposition, that men of note were deified by a grateful populace, is false due to two reasons: firstly, due to the fact that the populace was not grateful towards the gods at all, since the gods were described as killers and rapists and, secondly, due to the fact that the notion of the divine cannot exist without the god idea preexisting. One has to discover how the idea of the heavenly gods (the divine) came to be, and then invoke deification of men and the famous “Apotheosis".
The information available to Euhemerus was scarce compared to the information available in our time and thus we can go a great deal further than he would have gone, actually further than he could have imagined.
Was Clement of Alexandria aware of the fact that his own god, Jesus Christ, was supposed to have been once a man like himself whose apotheosis was realized by his mere ascent to the heavens?
Was Clement, and the leaders of the various branches of the Christian religion, aware of the fact that the original apotheosis was accomplished when a joke was said that some men climbed ladders and went to live in the sky?
In my opinion they were, because they have managed to keep themselves well educated in religious matters. The ladder joining earth and sky (Jacob’s ladder) is mentioned in the Hebrew part of the Bible and it is implied in the Christian literature (John 1:51). In the cultures of the rest of the world it appears as a means joining earth and sky, and when Egyptologists managed to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphic we learned, from the oldest religious texts of humanity, that indeed the heavenly gods were created when they each climbed a ladder to the heavens.
https://www.academia.edu/6955695/The_making_of_heavenly_gods
When it comes to the judgment, the Egyptologists manipulate their translations so that no one would suspect that in the texts a judgment of living people is described. The passages, however, dealing with the ascent of the gods to the sky by ladder, cannot be mistranslated (as shown in the article above) and therefore the religious leaders did/do know all about the origins of religion.
Those who do not know are: the State, the Academy and the “atheist" scholars!!

Dear Sir
I have read your post several tines now and find it very interesting to the extent that I can understand it. Unfortunately, for me, my own education and intellect allow me too understand relatively little.
I am puzzled by your conclusion that " Eumemerism" of which I had never heard before reading your post is the mortal enemy of Atheism.
David Nelson

I am puzzled by your conclusion that " Eumemerism" of which I had never heard before reading your post is the mortal enemy of Atheism. David Nelson
He has trouble with the term "real". If there was some time in ancient history when people thought gods were real, that somehow makes scripture true. Even if he knows that the people who thought it was true were lied to. That's about as much sense as I can make of Dimitrios.
I am puzzled by your conclusion that " Eumemerism" of which I had never heard before reading your post is the mortal enemy of Atheism.
If the gods of the ancients were real persons (the ruling elite), then the gods of the moderns are mere hoaxes. New Atheist scholars preach that humans are psychologically primed for religion because in this way the gods of the moderns are products of meditation and not of an archaic joke. Euhemerism seeks to prove that the God idea is based on a joke and it is therefore the only true enemy of theism. P.S. If Euhemerism was as innocent as agnosticism is, you would have heard of it. ;-)
He has trouble with the term "real".
No! It is you (plural) who have the problem. You are the ones brainwashed to think of gods only as immaterial beings. In the ancient texts the gods ARE men, in full human status, and in that identity I understand them. 5,000 years ago there was no difference in meaning between the terms “king" and “god" and thus the queen was known as “god’s wife".
If there was some time in ancient history when people thought gods were real, that somehow makes scripture true.
The ancient people KNEW that the gods were real persons. How could they rape and impregnate women if they were not? Virgin Mary is supposed to have been a real person and her son, Jesus, a real person too, but he who impregnated Mary was a… ghost? Christian writers knew what people believed and so they adapted their story accordingly: the gods were born in caves, were raping common women and they were buried in graves.
No! It is you (plural) who have the problem. You are the ones brainwashed to think of gods only as immaterial beings. In the ancient texts the gods ARE men, in full human status, and in that identity I understand them. 5,000 years ago there was no difference in meaning between the terms “king" and “god" and thus the queen was known as “god’s wife".
Ok DT, I've been reading your posts with interest and this statement I believe is the crux of your argument. I have absolutely No problem with your statement (except the slam concerning brainwashing as you're conflating two unrelated issues, Atheists reject a god, any gods, faith or belief in them, period) because culturally humans did believe ( emphasis on believe) that the gods were real entities, living and interacting with them. Yes, Greeks often sighted Apollo in the Agora and yes all pharaohs were "living gods" to be worshipped and relied upon for survival as well as the lesser gods, and Yahweh the mountain god controlled the Hebrews and was responsible for slaughtering thousands for territorial hegemony. But... These gods, all of them were creations of the societies in which they were born, fully formed by the humans who needed them to explain the environment that surrounded them and as a way to keep peace in an ever growing society. There had to be a hierarchy and the god king was the apex. As historians we can now look back on this time period via the window of the ancient texts and climb into the minds of the ancients in order to see through their eyes what we now know to be mere myth and legend. Therefore, one can't separate the ancient chroniclers from their gods because in essence the gods were inventions sprung from the minds of these ancient scholars. In that sense the gods were men, and the men gods. Science separated the two with empirical knowledge. We are left with the rich literature of the past, an echo of thoughts that were once vividly real, now the stuff of legend, and movies. BTW, clever use of the signal flags. Cap't Jack
5,000 years ago there was no difference in meaning between the terms “king" and “god" and thus the queen was known as “god’s wife".
There are so many problems with you Dimitrios, and I'm sure others will get to those. I've lost my patience with you, but I'll take this easy one. Basic logical fallacy to take the meaning of a word from 5,000 years ago and say it matters to what we think of as "god" today. No modern person thinks of their leaders as gods or of some marauding tribe as gods. That meaning of the word is only relevant to understanding what people thought then. And we do understand that. We understood it long before you signed up for this forum or wrote that paper about sexy figurines. Of course that meaning shaped culture and cultures of the past shaped the cultures of today. Besides being wrong most of the time, you talk to people like they are children, you're never going to get anywhere doing that.
But... These gods, all of them were creations of the societies in which they were born, fully formed by the humans who needed them to explain the environment that surrounded them and as a way to keep peace in an ever growing society.
Sorry, but you have to provide evidence to support the above assumption.
There had to be a hierarchy and the god king was the apex. As historians we can now look back on this time period via the window of the ancient texts and climb into the minds of the ancients in order to see through their eyes what we now know to be mere myth and legend. Therefore, one can't separate the ancient chroniclers from their gods because in essence the gods were inventions sprung from the minds of these ancient scholars. In that sense the gods were men, and the men gods. Science separated the two with empirical knowledge. We are left with the rich literature of the past, an echo of thoughts that were once vividly real, now the stuff of legend, and movies.
Nice theory but, as said above, it is plain philosophy. Whatever I claim, every single chapter of the story of the gods, aka the history of religion, I support with scriptural evidence.
BTW, clever use of the signal flags.
Thank you! They remind me that afternoon long ago when, as a Chief Mate then, I raised them to take a picture of them with my Hasselblad camera. ;-)
, aka the history of religion, I support with scriptural evidence.
There is no such thing as "scriptural evidence". Scripture is an historical artifact, but it is not evidence of historical facts. Not the way you are using it.
But... These gods, all of them were creations of the societies in which they were born, fully formed by the humans who needed them to explain the environment that surrounded them and as a way to keep peace in an ever growing society.
Sorry, but you have to provide evidence to support the above assumption.
There had to be a hierarchy and the god king was the apex. As historians we can now look back on this time period via the window of the ancient texts and climb into the minds of the ancients in order to see through their eyes what we now know to be mere myth and legend. Therefore, one can't separate the ancient chroniclers from their gods because in essence the gods were inventions sprung from the minds of these ancient scholars. In that sense the gods were men, and the men gods. Science separated the two with empirical knowledge. We are left with the rich literature of the past, an echo of thoughts that were once vividly real, now the stuff of legend, and movies.
Nice theory but, as said above, it is plain philosophy. Whatever I claim, every single chapter of the story of the gods, aka the history of religion, I support with scriptural evidence. Scripture is not evidence of anything beyond the writings of men. The history of religion is nothing but a story of human imagination. Biblical claims are not supported by any objective evidence--not even a historical record of the purported events. There is NOTHING outside of the bible that supports the supernatural claims in the bible, and little that supports the history as it is presented. There is not even any documented evidence that the Jesus of the bible ever existed. So get off your high horse and stop making empty claims that scripture is evidence of anything. You are not dealing with dupes here. We know evidence when we see it and we know hogwash when we see it, and, beleve it or not, we know the difference. I guarantee that every one of the rational thinkers on this forum know more about the bible than most believers, including you--and we know how to assess the claims.
BTW, clever use of the signal flags.
Thank you! They remind me that afternoon long ago when, as a Chief Mate then, I raised them to take a picture of them with my Hasselblad camera. ;-)

Euhemerism refers to the idea that myths have roots in historical events. For example, Zeus’s defeat of Kronos may reflect the arrival of the Greeks and their dominance over the indigenous population.
I doubt that Dimitrios understands what Euhemerism actually means any more than he understands that scripture is not evidence. I am sure that no one on this forum doubts that humans mythologize historical events. That’s what humans have done throughout history. That in no way makes mythical claims anything but expressions of imagination.

, aka the history of religion, I support with scriptural evidence.
There is no such thing as "scriptural evidence". Scripture is an historical artifact, but it is not evidence of historical facts. Not the way you are using it. The history of religion consists of what people believed during the various time periods. The scriptures inform what people believed during the various time periods. So, the thing called “scriptural evidence" is indispensable in reconstructing the history of religion. Moreover, the text that confirms the validity of my theory is an official document issued by a king to be used as instructions for his son and successor. The king is advising his son on how to handle the judges who were evaluating the product of the human breeding grounds and it is therefore a clear evidence of historical facts. I regret to have to say that you (plural) are posting in the forum of the Center for Inquiry but you, apparently, are not interested in inquiry since you do not like study and reading.
Scripture is not evidence of anything beyond the writings of men.
What were you expecting? Writings of the angels?
The history of religion is nothing but a story of human imagination.
Knowing what people “imagined" during the various time periods we can draw conclusions on why they believed what they believed.
Biblical claims are not supported by any objective evidence--not even a historical record of the purported events.
How do you know? Did you do a research or you are using your omniscience again?
There is not even any documented evidence that the Jesus of the bible ever existed.
What has Euhemerism to do with Christianity? It appears you did not read even the OP.
So get off your high horse and stop making empty claims that scripture is evidence of anything.
I would suggest that you educate yourself before using the terms “scripture" and “evidence".
You are not dealing with dupes here. We know evidence when we see it and we know hogwash when we see it, and, beleve it or not, we know the difference. I guarantee that every one of the rational thinkers on this forum know more about the bible than most believers, including you--and we know how to assess the claims.
You do not know shit, and we can talk of the Tanakh (learn to distinguish between the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, and the Greek language fiction that comprises the Christian literature) if you so desire, to find out what you (plural) know and what I know.
Euhemerism refers to the idea that myths have roots in historical events. For example, Zeus's defeat of Kronos may reflect the arrival of the Greeks and their dominance over the indigenous population.
Or it may reflect anything else you may think of, no? Start by learning what “Zeus" and what “Kronos" mean and then you may draw some correct conclusion.
I am sure that no one on this forum doubts that humans mythologize historical events. That's what humans have done throughout history.
That is correct!
That in no way makes mythical claims anything but expressions of imagination.
Do you realize what you are saying? _Humans mythologize historical events. _Myths are expressions of imagination. What happened to reports of historical events that ended up as myths?
BTW, clever use of the signal flags.
What? keep clear of me, I am manoevering with difficulty do not pass ahead of me Makes perfectly sense, seeing DTs posts. ;-) VA: do you have a maritime past too? I would never have guessed.
Thevillageatheist - 30 December 2015 06:45 AM But… These gods, all of them were creations of the societies in which they were born, fully formed by the humans who needed them to explain the environment that surrounded them and as a way to keep peace in an ever growing society. Sorry, but you have to provide evidence to support the above assumption. There had to be a hierarchy and the god king was the apex. As historians we can now look back on this time period via the window of the ancient texts and climb into the minds of the ancients in order to see through their eyes what we now know to be mere myth and legend. Therefore, one can’t separate the ancient chroniclers from their gods because in essence the gods were inventions sprung from the minds of these ancient scholars. In that sense the gods were men, and the men gods. Science separated the two with empirical knowledge. We are left with the rich literature of the past, an echo of thoughts that were once vividly real, now the stuff of legend, and movies. Nice theory but, as said above, it is plain philosophy. Whatever I claim, every single chapter of the story of the gods, aka the history of religion, I support with scriptural evidence.
No, I don't but you have already proved my contention as you have in your many references to those cultural anthropologists e.g. Sir James Frazer and Bible scholars, e.g. Price. Both of these scholars prove my contention and obviously you know this or you wouldn't have quoted them . Price for example is a "mythicist" and parses the Bible in his many podcasts and details his contention of the Jesus mythos in his many books on the subject. Just as a suggestion, and I have mentioned this book on other posts, one of the latest on physical and cultural anthropology is Mithen''s After the Ice, an excellent and well researched book on the evolution of civilization from hunter-gather to farmer and on the cusp of these two was the founding of what is referred to as "organized" religion. It was a gradual transformation from primitive local folk myth transformed into dogma by writing (cuneiform)which is the very reason that the organized form began in ancient Sumer. And as to your claim concerning "evidence", scripture, and I'm not at all certain exactly what you mean by this as there are many religious beliefs bolstered by scripture and all written by men only proves what that individual or individuals thought concerning the supernatural, of which there is NO evidence. Thus religious scripture is philosophy and not empirical evidence. As a Greek I'm certain that you are well aware of the reason Socrates committed suicide. Cap't Jack
The king is advising his son on how to handle the judges who were evaluating the product of the human breeding grounds and it is therefore a clear evidence of historical facts. I regret to have to say that you (plural) are posting in the forum of the Center for Inquiry but you, apparently, are not interested in inquiry since you do not like study and reading.
I know you are but what am I? I don't care that a King wrote it. It can't be taken as evidence if used in isolation. You need other evidence of what people were doing and saying at the time as well as archaeological evidence.
BTW, clever use of the signal flags.
What? keep clear of me, I am manoevering with difficulty do not pass ahead of me Makes perfectly sense, seeing DTs posts. ;-) That IS a research worth of a member of CFI. :-) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/eb/ICS_Delta.svg/100px-ICS_Delta.svg.png Code letter D https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1e/ICS_Tango.svg/100px-ICS_Tango.svg.png Code letter T As you can see, however, the flags represent my initials.
VA: do you have a maritime past too? I would never have guessed.
I am a retired Master Mariner with 24 years of sea service (meaning 24 years onboard, not total time as seaman).
No, I don't but you have already proved my contention as you have in your many references to those cultural anthropologists e.g. Sir James Frazer and Bible scholars, e.g. Price. Both of these scholars prove my contention and obviously you know this or you wouldn't have quoted them.
I did not quote Frazer’s words. I quoted some of the reports he had been quoting. I never agreed with his ideas. As regards Bible scholars, I am always referring only to the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. The Christian literature is of very little help in reconstructing the history of religion.
Just as a suggestion, and I have mentioned this book on other posts, one of the latest on physical and cultural anthropology is Mithen''s After the Ice, an excellent and well researched book on the evolution of civilization from hunter-gather to farmer and on the cusp of these two was the founding of what is referred to as "organized" religion. It was a gradual transformation from primitive local folk myth transformed into dogma by writing (cuneiform)which is the very reason that the organized form began in ancient Sumer.
Let me quote the following from Chapter 1 of Mithen's book entitled “The Birth of History": Little of significance happened until 20,000 BC – people simply continued living as hunter-gatherers, just as their ancestors had been doing for millions of years The book was published in 2011 and his author seems to ignore the fact that modern Eurasians were “created" 45,000 years ago as hybrids Homo sapiens sapiens (Hss)- Neanderthal and informs his readers that little of significance happened until 20,000 BC!! The Hss who arrived in the Middle East from South Africa, approximately 50,000 years ago, carried no Neanderthal DNA in their genome. On leaving The Middle East none of them remained a pure-blood Hss as they all had been “contaminated" with the Neanderthal genetic material. What happened in the Middle East? Why is it that there is no member of the white race with no Nenaderthal DNA in his genome? I assure you that If I had that book bought to read it, I would not have read one line more after reading something so naïve.
And as to your claim concerning "evidence", scripture, and I'm not at all certain exactly what you mean by this as there are many religious beliefs bolstered by scripture and all written by men only proves what that individual or individuals thought concerning the supernatural, of which there is NO evidence.
You are heavily prejudiced since you obviously regard all gods as supernatural entities. The scriptures are used to prove that to the ancients the gods were not always supernatural entities.
Thus religious scripture is philosophy and not empirical evidence.
Religious texts are regarded all the texts that have to do with gods. So much the ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (the oldest texts of humanity) as the epic of Gilgamesh and the epics of Homer are religious texts.
As a Greek I'm certain that you are well aware of the reason Socrates committed suicide.
Socrates did not commit suicide. He was executed by the State which demanded from him to drink the poison. I regret that he was sentenced to death. He only deserved to be jailed for life, as his pupil, the scumbag of Plato, deserved to be silenced for life. Plato, who paved the road to Christianity, hated and fought against the poems of Homer and Hesiod because those were the “Bible" of the ancient Greeks. Gods dishonest, criminal and rapists were to be found in that “Bible" and Plato was preaching the God that the Christians preach today in Sunday School.
There are so many problems with you Dimitrios, and I'm sure others will get to those. I've lost my patience with you, but I'll take this easy one.
I never lose patience. Guess why!
Basic logical fallacy to take the meaning of a word from 5,000 years ago and say it matters to what we think of as "god" today.
It matters when we are dealing with the word “god" because you believe that the ancients were as idiotic as the moderns are and considered the gods immaterial heavenly beings. Well, they did not! To them the Father of the gods had created humans AND gods and there was a time that the Father of the gods did not exist.
No modern person thinks of their leaders as gods or of some marauding tribe as gods.
Your heavy prejudice at work again! Read the OP: Hecataeus boasted that sixteen generations back one of his grand fathers was a god. To him gods were the members of an archaic aristocracy, which was absolutely true.
That meaning of the word is only relevant to understanding what people thought then.
Not what they thought then, what they knew then.
And we do understand that. We understood it long before you signed up for this forum or wrote that paper about sexy figurines.
No, you do not know nothing! None of you came forward to announce that he had studied ancient texts. You are just happy in your ignorance and on top of that you pretend to respect inquiry.
Of course that meaning shaped culture and cultures of the past shaped the cultures of today.
Some more philosophical noise!
Besides being wrong most of the time, you talk to people like they are children, you're never going to get anywhere doing that.
There is a way out: get rid of your prejudice and grow up! :-)