Bunnies and eggs are probably the least silly things about Easter. They're symbols of spring, after all, and celebrations of spring have always been common in temperate societies worldwide.
Resurrection myths are a natural fit with that, and there have likewise been many of those in cultures worldwide, too. Even the name, "Easter," seems to have come from an Anglo-Saxon goddess.
Most likely, this is similar to Christmas, with the Catholic Church just adopting existing festivals and rebranding them as Christian. After all, a pagan would generally care a lot more about losing an excuse to party than what precise god he was forced to worship. (He'd almost certainly have little choice about that, anyway.)
Now, if you believe in a literal Garden of Eden - Adam and Eve, the talking snake, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil - that's pretty silly, true. But if you're too sophisticated for such primitive stories, that destroys the whole point of Jesus being sacrificed 'for our sins.'
Jesus was supposed to be a scapegoat, because primitive people at the time believed in scapegoats. Jews would literally use a goat to take away the sins of the tribe.
Jesus was also a blood sacrifice, of course. God demanded blood for all sorts of sins - animal blood, by that time, though there are plenty of clues that early Jews practiced human sacrifice, too. In fact, Jewish scapegoats came in pairs, with one sacrificed on a bloody altar and the other magically invested with the sins of the tribe and driven off to die in the wilderness (taking their sins along with it).
But animal blood - even human blood - didn't have enough mojo to overcome original sin. To do that kind of magic required divine blood. So Jesus was both a blood sacrifice and a scapegoat. That was the whole point of the crucifixion, for early Christians.
True, neither Jesus nor Yahweh seem to have actually sacrificed much. Crucifixion was a slow, painful death, but countless criminals were executed in that way over the centuries. And those people stayed dead. Jesus came back to life after three days, so how much of a sacrifice was it really?
Also, you'd think an omnipotent, omniscient god could just change his mind and forgive people, without all that pain and bloodshed, wouldn't you? After all, he does change his mind in the Bible on other occasions. Why in the world would he have to sacrifice himself to himself to convince himself to forgive people for something none of them had done, anyway? If he didn't want to break any 'rules,' why not? They were rules that he, himself, had invented.
Silly, huh? But actually, it gets even sillier if you don't believe that the Garden of Eden literally existed - that whole bit about the talking snake and all. Because in that case, there was no original sin and therefore no reason for Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross in the first place.
In fact, it's beyond silly to believe this stuff, anyway - especially the resurrection stories. If someone today told you that a guy had been dead and buried three days, then came back to life, would you believe that? Would you believe it just on his say-so, even if he did claim to witness it first-hand?
Well, that's far better evidence than you have for Jesus. None of the people who wrote the Gospels, long after-the-fact, even claim to be eyewitnesses. They're all anonymous, but they wrote in highly-educated Greek, not the Aramaic Jesus' poor, illiterate disciples would have spoken.
Even the earliest, Mark, wasn't written until decades later, and the original ending (the women leave the tomb and never tell anyone) seems to indicate that the whole thing was meant to be fiction. Later Christians changed that, and later authors adopted much of Mark's story, but all four Gospels disagree significantly on the details of the crucifixion and the resurrection. (Note that there were a lot more stories which varied a lot more than this, but a thousand years of burning heresies - and heretics - meant that few survived.)
Of course, as I say, they were all just writing stories about what they'd heard - most likely nowhere near Palestine, either. But if they weren't just writing for entertainment, they were also missionaries. They were trying to convince other people that their own religious beliefs were true. Thus, they all tried to embellish the story (which had almost certainly been embellished long before they'd ever heard it, themselves).
The fact that many 21st Century Americans still believe this stuff just blows my mind. I don't fault the primitive, ignorant people of two thousand years ago for believing in magic. These kinds of stories were widespread - about all sorts of gods, demi-gods, and heroes. (Do you really think the virgin birth story was unique?)
But today, we know so very much more than the people back then. How can we cling so desperately to such primitive superstition? I just don't get it.
I'm a skeptic. I think it makes sense to have reasons for what I believe, so I apportion my belief to the evidence. You're welcome to disagree. Please, tell me I'm wrong. I probably don't agree with anyone about everything. Why should disagreement be a problem? Check the Pages section below for series posts and links to book reviews and game posts, as well as contact info. Unfortunately, I rarely blog at all, anymore. So don't expect new posts. - Bill
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true. - Robert Wilensky
It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong - Richard Feynman
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other. - Sir Francis Bacon
When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Speculation is perfectly all right, but if you stay there you've only founded a superstition. If you test it, you've started a science. - Hal Clement
No matter how many times a theory meets its tests successfully, there can be no certainty that it will not be overthrown by the next observation. This, then, is a cornerstone of modern natural philosophy. It makes no claim of attaining ultimate truth. In fact, the phrase "ultimate truth" becomes meaningless, because there is no way in which enough observations can be made to make truth certain and, therefore, "ultimate". - Isaac Asimov
The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. - Treaty of Tripoli, passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed by President John Adams (1797)
I don't doubt the sincerity of dowsers, but even after we've demonstrated that they can't produce results that are any better than chance they'll still go away believing in their abilities... It is like the mother whose son is caught shoplifting on tape. She wonders why someone would want to frame her child by producing a fake video. - James Randi
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church ... imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. - Mark Twain
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. - Bertrand Russell
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. - Friedrich Nietzsche
I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. - Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.
This is not about proof. Science does not use proof. We favor evidence, and the work consists largely of the slow accumulation of evidence in support of ideas, not magically potent proofs that establish an idea as unassailable. - PZ Myers
No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. - President Barack Obama
The formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat. - Shekhar Gupta
We are prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small, persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs. - Carl Sagan
We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. - Richard Dawkins
120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. - Sam Harris
To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man. - Michael Servetus, burned at the stake in 1553
Democracy is not about majority rule; it is about minority rights. If there is no culture of not simply tolerating minorities, but actually treating them with equal rights, real democracy can't take root. - Thomas L. Friedman
We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason. - Thomas Macauley, 1830
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men. - Edward R. Murrow
The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence. Science is simply common sense at its best - that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic. - Thomas Huxley
There is no absurdity so obvious that it cannot be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to impose it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity. - Arthur Schopenhauer
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. ... Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. - President Thomas Jefferson
To be elected in America, no matter from what party, the candidates have no choice but to year after year pledge to lower taxes further and further. We have become the nation of Ken and Barbie, looking good but very poor at the math. - Rack Jite
Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them. - Steve Eley
We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. - President Franklin D. Roosevelt
I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle. - Molly Ivins
In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. - H. L. Mencken
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. - Winston Churchill