Bible Quote

Dear Fellow Atheists: Here is something in the bible itself that should shake the majority/minority position of the religious. Deuteronomy 7:7 “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people.”

Brandon Walker Monroe, GA

[Mr. Walker. who at 92 is probably one of American Atheists’ oldest members. -Ed.]

Fish Symbol

I just finished reading your article True Origin of Christian “FISH” Symbol Might Outrage, Shock Jesus Worshippers. I am what you may call a ‘fundamentalist’ or evangelical Christian who is studying at seminary; and your insights into the origin of this Christian symbol were very interesting and useful in my research for a class on folk religion. Yet I am a little confused about what your intent in writing this article was–it seems as though your intent is to either outrage Christians or discredit Christianity. There are many other Christian rituals that have animistic origins, such as the date and celebration of Christmas or the Christmas tree itself. The Semitic word ‘Elohim’ was a pagan word for the Sky God used by the true God to describe himself to the Hebrews. Theos (originally a greek deity) was used in the New Testament for the Christian God. Does this bother me? No. The reason is that Christianity is not about form but meaning, which is not in the etymology or history of the word or symbol but in t he meaning to the worshiper.

I suppose this article may outrage some Christians as it seems intended to do, but I doubt it will outrage many. Sorry for the disappointment.

Jacob Thomas

PS. Not to be mean-spirited, but you might want to change ‘worshippers’ to ‘worshipers’ in your heading.

American Atheists Respond:

Thank you for writing to American Atheists concerning our Web-site article about the Christian use of the fish symbol. That particular article is written from a feminist viewpoint, and is only one of several possible explanations. While I personally think everything in that article is true, I don’t think it identifies the immediate cause for the Christian Use of the symbol. In my article How Jesus Got a Life, which can also be accessed on our Web-site (I think you have to click on the CHURCH button), I offer what I think is the correct explanation of why the fishes were the first symbols of Christianity.

Briefly, Christianity began as a “New Age” religion, when the vernal equinox moved from Aries, the ram or lamb, into Pisces, the fishes. Just as Mithraism adopted the image of the slaying of the bull to symbolize the movement of the equinox from Taurus into Aries, so too the proto Christian mystery cultists used the symbol of the sacrificial lamb to symbolize the movement from Aries into Pisces. However, it was much easier graphically to symbolize the attainment of the New Age by drawing two fishes–the astrological sign for Pisces. It is very interesting to note that the most ancient representations of the Christian fish are always double–two fishes, exactly as yet today astrologers indicate the “house” of Pisces.

The Greek acronym ICHTHUS (fish) was created, I believe, for the same purpose, namely, to symbolize the New Age character of the religion being created by Greek-speaking (not Aramaic or Hebrew) mystery cultists who were deeply awed by the celestial process they were witnessing at the turn of the era. The acronym goes back to the pre-Christian Sibylline Oracles. Significantly, the acrostic is actually a double acrostic, that is to say, each word represented by a letter in ICHTHUS is actually spelled out vertically and is itself the first letter in a line of Greek poetry. More significantly, after all the words are spelled out [Tesous Christos Theou Huios Soter], there is another word spelled out in Greek: Stauros. “Stauros,” of course, is usually translated as “Cross.” This might seem appropriate for Christianity, but if it were referring to the Christ of the present-day cults it should be the Greek equivalent of “Crucified.”

At the time the Sibylline Oracles were composed (even if the double acrostic is a very early Christian interpolation as many scholars suppose), the term Stauros did not mean cross in the sense of criss-cross. Rather, it meant a stake or poll or pillar. It seems clear to me that this earliest of fish acrostics is indicating that Jesus is the axial pole of the universe–the pole that was moved to cause the movement of the equinox into Pisces. Astronomically as well as astrologically, this all fits together very nicely, I think. Unfortunately, contracting the whole thing into a single acrostic, ICHTHUSS, would have been meaningless, and so the final word was dropped and we have inherited only ICETHUS. (Please don’t think we Atheists take astrology at all seriously. It’s just that all the ancient peoples at the turn of the era, including the first Christians, did take it very seriously. The author of Revelation, for example, was clearly someone deeply studied in the astrology of his day, as was the Apostle Paul, whose letters make much more sense when understood in astrological context.)

Since you are a seminary student, I might recommend that you read my articles DID JESUS EXIST?, HOW JESUS GOT A LIFE, THE TWELVE: FURTHER FICTIONS FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT, THE REAL BIBLE: WHO’S GOT IT?, and DANIEL IN THE DEBUNKER’S DEN, all of which are available on our Web-site.

Concerning the spelling “Worshippers,” Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, lists this as an alternative spelling. We prefer the double P for the obvious phonetic reasons.

Thank you again for writing, and we will be pleased to receive feed back on the articles indicated above.

Frank R. Zindler, editor

American Atheist Press


I would like to know whether it is required for individuals to swear on the Bible as witnesses in court. Thank you!

Chris Stuart

American Atheists Respond:

The formalities of oath taking (swearing) for witnesses, jurors, and others are typically found in the statutes of the respective state. I am not aware of any publication in which they have been accumulated for comparison purposes. There are, however, many variations among the states in the exact format. I would not be surprised at all to learn that some states still provide for hand on the bible swearing. However, I believe you will find a great deal of uniformity in permitting an affirmation in lieu of an oath for those with conscientious scruples against oath taking.

I would take the position when asked to put your hand on the bible that to do so would violate your first amendment rights, both as to establishment and exercise. However, as a practical matter, if you are being called as a witness talk to the attorney calling you and tell him your position. He should be able to facilitate an appropriate affirmation with the clerk or judge and avoid a situation in the courtroom. If you are a potential juror, talk to the jury clerk about it. You will probably be required to complete a written juror questionnaire before appearing-put it in it also.

Lastly, if all else didn’t work, when they seek to administer the oath, tell whoever is about to administer it your position and let them know you will tell the truth without their book.

Duane C. Buchholz

National Legal Director

American Atheists, Inc.

Atheists and War

I was just wondering what the AA is doing to oppose the war? This might not seem to be relavent to this organization’s work, but it seems to me that Atheists, Environmentalists, anti-globalization and anti capitalists, et. al. are all struggling for the same thing. This organization seems like it would be primarily composed of “progressive” types, and could be very effective in this stuggle.

American Atheists Respond:

You are correct that it isn’t relevant to our work–well directly it isn’t. We are bound by law to our Articles of Incorporation which state the purpose of the organization. So, unless an issue has a religion or Atheist connection to it, we must leave it to other groups to tackle. We get asked to get involved in many issues that are unrelated to our mission and we must decline.

Please remember that we have members who are in favor of the war. Not all of us are opposed to it.

COPYRIGHT 2003 American Atheists Inc.

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