Celsus & Christian Sales
Celsus was a second-century Greek philosopher and follower of Plato and Philo. We know that Celsus, like many other ancient Greek philosophers, was a fan of Plato’s, for in Bernhard Pick’s exegesis of Celsus’ attack on Christianity, he says: ‘…Celsus argues that even if Christianity contains some elements that might prepossess a man of understanding in its favor, it has no monopoly of these, that these things are common property and have been said far better by the Greeks before and without those threats and promises about God or a son of God. Plato, he says, did not promulgate his doctrines as supernatural revelations, nor shall the mouth of any one who wished to inquire into the truth of them for himself. He made no demand that we should first of all believe; he did not say, God is so, or so; he has such a son, and he himself has come down into the world and has spoken with me (VI, 8) . On every point, even when the subject of investigation does not admit of further explanation, Plato brings forward reasonable arguments; he does not pretend to be the discoverer of something new, or to have come from heaven to reveal it, but says where he got it (VI, 10)’.
The only surviving fragments of Celsus’ work are contained within the Christian treatise (Contra Celsum Eng. Against Celsus) written in the third century by the Church father and apologist, Origen. The original title of Celsus’ polemic against Christianity, written around the time of Marcus Aurelius (178 CE), was called ‘The True Discourse.’ Celsus correctly accused Christians of preying on the less educated lower-class members of society with their “teachings”, saying: ‘…the following are the rules laid down by them [Christians]. Let no one come to us who has been instructed, or who is wise or prudent (for such qualifications are deemed evil by us); but if there be any ignorant, or unintelligent, or uninstructed, or foolish persons, let them come with confidence. By which words, acknowledging that such individuals are worthy of their God, they manifestly show that they desire and are able to gain over only the silly, and the mean, and the stupid, with women and children’.
Celsus was highlighting the reality that Christian teachings were, generally speaking, incapable of charming the well-educated and philosophically minded, unless, we may cautiously assume, such philosophers – like Origen and Clement of Alexandria, for example – were offered the opportunity to shepherd their own flocks. According to Celsus, the teachings of Christianity only appealed to members of society whose ignorance could be manipulated in order to persuade them to embrace the improbable as probable and the illogical as logical. Origen was in agreement in so far as he claimed it was a benevolent aspect of his religion which sought out the ignorant and meek, and which, in his own words, “invited them to wisdom”. But Celsus was correct. Christianity did rely on the frailty of its targets’ minds to succeed in its endeavors. Those whose cognitions were matured by learning and tempered by the light of reason, logic and common sense were, according to Celsus, too difficult to convert – however – those whose minds were as children’s were, and still are, zealously sought after by the propagators of this pretentiously pious and perpetual pyramid scheme. This ‘convert-the-stupid’ strategy is even echoed within their myth-filled manifesto: ‘Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’. Matthew 18:3
I think it is more than fair to say that children tend to be more suggestible and willing to believe the most grandiose and unsubstantiated claims upon the slightest morsels of evidence, or even upon a total absence of evidence. In his book The Bible and Lay People, evangelical author Andrew Village promotes and encourages his Christian readers to interpret the scripture in this childlike manner: ‘Why impose on lay people the necessity of losing a naivety that is required for ‘true’ understanding of the message of scripture? There is some scriptural warrant for a healthy scepticism towards scholarship. Jesus thanks the Father that ‘these things’ are revealed to naive children and not to the wise and intelligent of the world (Luke 10:21). Paul specifically argues that worldly wisdom cannot conceive the fundamental truth of the Christian Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:18– 30). Do the virtues of innocence outweigh the dangers of ignorance? As I argued in the last chapter, a decision to hold to a literal view in the face of conflicting evidence is not necessarily about stubborn ignorance’.
Both children and those with what we might call uncultivated minds require far less substance in the form of evidence to fill their cognitive cups. For this reason, psychological manipulation is achieved and maintained far more easily amongst meek-minded men, women and children. Origen preserved for us Celsus’ remarks in this regard: ‘He (Celsus) next proceeds to recommend, that in adopting opinions we (Christians) should follow reason and a rational guide, since he who assents to opinions without following this course is very liable to be deceived. And he compares inconsiderate believers to Metragyrtæ, and soothsayers, and Mithræ, and Sabbadians, and to anything else that one may fall in with, and to the phantoms of Hecate, or any other demon or demons. For as amongst such persons are frequently to be found wicked men, who, taking advantage of the ignorance of those who are easily deceived, lead them away whither they will, so also, he says, is the case among Christians. And he asserts that certain persons who do not wish either to give or receive a reason for their belief, keep repeating, “Do not examine, but believe!” and, “Your faith will save you!” And he alleges that such also say, “The wisdom of this life is bad, but that foolishness is a good thing!”’ If you truly do possess the truth, then it should be able to withstand questions, criticisms, and it may even be doubted without fear of infringement. Yet according to the doctrines of Christianity, the very act of examination or asking questions – that is – open-minded curiosity – is seen as a negative quality which potentially hinders the questioner’s salvation, for credulity is a very sensitive master: ‘…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed’. John 20:29
Regarding the moral of the story of the Doubting Thomas, from which the above verse was sourced, Richard Dawkins remarked: ‘The story of Doubting Thomas is told, not so that we shall admire Thomas, but so that we can admire the other apostles in comparison. Thomas demanded evidence. . . . The other apostles, whose faith was so strong that they did not need evidence, are held up to us as worthy of imitation. . . . Blind faith can justify anything’. Once again, children have a greater capacity for faith in circumstances where credible evidence is absent. Take as an example a child at Christmas time. They may set out cookies and milk for Santa and in the morning when they awake they find the cookies consumed and the glass empty. They are, or at least I was, awash with glee, believing on my father’s word that Santa had enjoyed the treats I had left for him. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed! Joseph Wheless adds immense weight to this point: ‘Children believe anything they are taught: Santa Claus, fairies, goblins, and witches, are as real, as veritably true, to a child, as Jesus the Christ to a cleric, much more so often. It is a maxim of the Master of the new Faith: “Except ye become as little Children ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven for of such is the Kingdom” (Matt, xviii, 3; xix, 14). Religious belief or faith is thus avowed to be essentially of the childish mind’.
It’s no secret that the Christian religion has always prided itself on preying on prepubescent and more suggestible elements of society for conversion. And it is equally not a secret that the young victims of this supernatural insurance scam are frequently indoctrinated before the age of reason and grow up to become cognitive clones of the former generation of cognitive clones. Looking around us today we even see the proliferation of the old Christian child-targeting strategy within modern child marketing. In 2004 U.S companies spent approximately 15 Billion dollars marketing their goods to children, knowing that it is the children who exert influence over their parents’ spending habits and have the ability to dictate what their parents buy. According to Professor Sandra L Calvert, chair of the Department of Psychology at Georgetown University and director of the Children’s Digital Media Center: ‘Youths also shape the buying patterns of their families. From vacation choices to car purchases to meal selections, they exert a tremendous power over the family pocketbook. Experts estimate that two- to fourteen-year-olds have sway over $500 billion a year in household purchasing. Thus, to influence youth is to influence the entire family’s buying decisions’.
As with modern child marketing strategies, the children and wives of the wise were targeted for conversion by early Christians in the hope that they might place enough pressure on their loved ones to convert their entire family. Up and up it went, until it eventually reached the powerful echelons of society who had the power to enforce this ridiculous religion onto nations. Needless to say, attempting to persuade the well-educated pagans, who were versed in the original mythologies upon which Christianity was originally built, would have been a predominantly fruitless endeavor, as these learned men knew that Jesus’ alleged teachings were not revelations at all, but reiterations of that which they had already been taught by the likes of Plato, Zeno, Aristotle, and other earlier teachers. They had heard the story of the miraculously conceived son of God, born of a virgin, who could heal the sick and raise the dead, and who, according to their earlier myths, was sacrificed for the good of humanity. They had already partaken of the sacramental wine and eaten the Eucharistic bread of Mithras – they had done and heard it all before. According to Celsus, when wise philosophers drew near at a time when the Christian was proselytizing to the ignorant, the timid preacher would slither away with his head down, whilst the more arrogant would incite the young to leave their parents and teachers and follow them. This brings us to the second aspect of the Christian conversion strategy and method of social infiltration. On this point, Celsus noted: ‘We see, indeed, in private houses workers in wool and leather, and fullers, and persons of the most uninstructed and rustic character, not venturing to utter a word in the presence of their elders and wiser masters; but when they get hold of the children privately, and certain women as ignorant as themselves, they pour forth wonderful statements, to the effect that they ought not to give heed to their father and to their teachers, but should obey them; that the former are foolish and stupid, and neither know nor can perform anything that is really good, being preoccupied with empty trifles; that they alone know how men ought to live, and that, if the children obey them, they will both be happy themselves, and will make their home happy also. And while thus speaking, if they see one of the instructors of youth approaching, or one of the more intelligent class, or even the father himself, the more timid among them become afraid, while the more forward incite the children to throw off the yoke, whispering that in the presence of father and teachers they neither will nor can explain to them any good thing, seeing they turn away with aversion from the silliness and stupidity of such persons as being altogether corrupt, and far advanced in wickedness, and such as would inflict punishment upon them; but that if they wish (to avail themselves of their aid,) they must leave their father and their instructors, and go with the women and their playfellows to the women’s apartments, or to the leather shop, or to the fuller’s shop, that they may attain to perfection — and by words like these they gain them over’.
From Celsus’ point of view, a view supported by a number of historical accounts, Christians were saying; if your parents or teachers are telling you something that contradicts what we are attempting to sell you, and you cannot persuade them of our point of view, it would be best for your eternal soul to leave your parents and teachers and follow us. What unscrupulous techniques these pied pipers employed! And they did so not only to lure the young and uneducated away from their friends and family, but also to melt their minds and mold them into future pied pipers, so that they might also lead others away into the obscure realms of faith addiction and credulity. The Christian scriptures were designed for this conversion technique; see Luke 14:26: ‘If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple’.
Another related and divisive verse vomited into the collective ears of sheep dressed as humans has Jesus saying: ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me’. Matthew 10:34-37
Here we have what appears to be scriptural evidence for the very technique employed by the early Christian writers and Church fathers, who boldly and arrogantly sought to fatten their ranks with future door-to-door sales staff. And like a pyramid scheme it became self-perpetuating and eventually turned into one of the most persuasive and imprisoning institutions this planet has had the misfortune of hosting.
Saint Patrick and Child Marketing
According to the Child Evangelism Fellowship, ‘85% of all Christians accept Christ before the age of 14’. This alarming fact was not lost on Christopher Hitchens, who wrote: ‘The obsession with children, and with rigid control over their upbringing, has been part of every system of absolute authority. It may have been a Jesuit who was first actually quoted as saying, “Give me the child until he is ten, and I will give you the man,” but the idea is very much older than the school of Ignatius Loyola. Indoctrination of the young often has the reverse effect, as we also know from the fate of many secular ideologies, but it seems that the religious will run this risk in order to imprint the average boy or girl with enough propaganda. What else can they hope to do? If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world’.
Records of the legendary Saint Patrick furnish us with further evidence of this pied piper conversion technique. There were many different tales of the life of St Patrick and his mission in Ireland. Such tales were embellished with myth/legend, however, stories of his conversion strategy reoccur in almost all of them. Aside from the more fabulous moving of giant stones or chasing of snakes that did not exist in Ireland, St Patrick was famous for converting the sons, daughters and wives of the kings and powerful men of Ireland. In The Life and Acts of Saint Patrick, Jocelin relates the story of the great king Echu and his daughter’s conversion to Christianity: ‘And Patrick came unto the country of Neyll, wherein reigned a king named Echu, and he had one beloved daughter named Cynnia, whom he intended at a fitting time to give in fitting marriage. And the damsel unfolded to the saint(Patrick) her father’s purpose, and he exhorted her to deserve the reward of virginity even an hundred-fold; therefore, rejecting worldly nuptials, she determined to offer herself an undefiled offering unto her celestial Spouse, and to cherish Him in her heart. And the king, beholding her thus steadily to preserve her virgin purity, called unto him the saint, and thus he spake: “I had determined that my daughter should continue unto me a long-descending progeny for the confirmation of my kingdom and the solace of mine age; but the succession is cut off, and mine hope is defeated by thee; if, therefore, thou wilt promise unto me the heavenly kingdom, yet not compel me unwillingly to receive baptism, my daughter shall become the servant of thy God….’
Further, writing on the life and writings of St. Patrick, Christian scholar Newport J. D White describes how St. Patrick would convert wealthy sons and daughters of Irish kings to Christianity: ‘Wherefore then in Ireland they who never had the knowledge of God, but until now only worshipped idols and abominations—how has there been lately prepared a people of the Lord, and they are called children of God? Sons and daughters of Scottic (Celtic) chieftains are seen to become monks and virgins of Christ’. Newport further adds: ‘In especial there was one blessed lady of Scottic (Celtic) birth, of noble rank, most beautiful, grown up, whom I baptized; and after a few days she came to us for a certain cause. She disclosed to us that she had been warned by an angel of God, and that he counselled her to become a virgin of Christ, and live closer to God. Thanks be to God, six days after, most admirably and eagerly she seized on that which all virgins of God do in like manner; not with the consent of their fathers….’
So successful was this method of spreading the belief in Christ that it wasn’t long before it gripped Ireland, setting the stage for a future that would be drenched with the blood of Druids, Catholics and Protestants alike. In a collection of early writings attributed to St. Patrick, entitled St. Patrick and his Gallic Friends, “collated” by Father Montgomery Hitchcock, we read: ‘Patrick says he cannot count the sons of the Irish and daughters of the chiefs who have become monks (monachi), and virgins of Christ’. These conversions, although not exclusively targeting children per se, seem to have been calculated to rope in the fathers and mothers of prospective targets, or else turn sons and daughters against their own families, which resulted in the upward percolation of Christianity through the strata of Irish society until it had taken over the monarchy of Ireland. As in Ireland, Christianity rose up through the ranks of the Roman Empire, taking over the social power packets of the Eastern wing of the empire until it left an ambitious Roman emperor little choice but to grant this ever-increasing constituency special privileges, which, as history now convincingly attests, blossomed into unbridled power.
Sherlock’s Exposition on Christian Sales & Marketing
Ante-Nicene Christian apologists, as do modern secular apologists, propagated their religion by employing mind-rerouting rhetoric, specious sophistry and social networking strategies. Naturally, any successful scam requires a well-thought-out sales strategy. The beauty of selling this religion was that it only required a short initial period of ‘cold sales’ (selling to someone for the first time with no prior rapport), and then it went into an almost automatic ‘warm sell’ (selling to someone you know and trust) mode. Much like a sales person employed by a pyramid scheme, the Christian’s job is, and has always been, to sell previously purchased products (doctrines of faith) to new targets. As with any other pyramid scheme, the faithful customer becomes the dedicated proprietor and sales person. They have been convinced of the products quality through indoctrination, clever rhetoric, hope-profiteering, and other psychological strategies, and are encouraged to go forth and sell this silliness to others. This advances the aim of the collective organization and bestows a feeling of importance upon the newly promoted sales person. Christians, like the customers of a pyramid scam, feel that it is their obligation and duty to sell this product to the best of their ability, and to as many people as possible. This means they must present the product in the best possible light to the prospective customer/convert. It is their job to convince and convert the target. This is why preachers and pastors are trained in sophistry, rhetoric, and homiletics at seminary schools all over the world. Any faults or blemishes with the product must be hidden from the customer/convert’s view and their attention drawn to its selling points. Very few preachers will point out discrepancies and contradictions which exist within the texts from which they preach, lest refer to the brutal history of their religion. Instead, they do their utmost to sell the belief system to others.
Do you want to know the truth? Do you have an empty feeling in your heart? Do you want eternal life? How about a place where all your dreams can come true after you die? Do you want to be rich in the afterlife and never want for another thing, ever again? Do you want to be special? How about being amongst the chosen of the almighty God? If all the above sounds appealing, just sign up today for our quick-and-easy ‘get saved plan.’ Yes, you can have all of this for the low price of your mind, and of course your future service. Oh, just one last thing. You’d better hurry up and make a decision because the Armageddon is just around the corner so this offer won’t last long!
As mentioned, selling something to someone you don’t know is known as ‘cold selling.’ Cold selling requires more persuasion and skill on the part of the sales person than selling to someone where there is an existing relationship. You may have experienced cold sales if you have ever been, or taken a call from, a telemarketer. As an aside, my father had two short and reliable scripts he employed to get rid of telemarketers, and they worked every time. Whenever a telemarketer would call he would pass the phone to me and I would repeat one of his two favorite scripts: “We can’t talk right now because we are in the middle of burying my grandma in the backyard” or “My dad can’t talk right now because he is trying to get the blood off his shovel.” Whether it was my convincing delivery or the fact that a sincere-sounding child was saying such shocking things, the outcome was always the same. But my father would never use these scripts when one of his friends called the house, and herein lies the difference between cold sales and warm sales. Now, compare the situation of a telemarketer trying to sell you something versus a situation in which a friend or family member recommends you buy something they have bought. This form of sales is a lot more successful. This is where Christianity’s true sales power lies. As mentioned above, children are sold the doctrines of Christianity by their parents before their rational minds have had a chance to defend against such nonsense. Think about it! The very people these innocent and unwitting little customers have the most faith in, utilize that trust to sell them their own previously purchased package of pish. Most Christian parents are unwitting participants in this absolute-truth pyramid selling scam, as they were sold this product when they were young, and, in complete ignorance, they view this brainwashing as a positive kind of instruction, mistaking indoctrination for education. The Christians of the first few centuries appeared to have taken advantage of this knowledge when they set up their initial sales strategy. Of course, it may simply have been that they were selling a religion which, as with almost all other belief-systems, naturally weaved its way through society, and that not too much deliberate thought was put into this aspect of the scam, and it was probably just a natural consequence of such socially transmitted diseases. The beauty of this possibly inadvertent and self-maintaining technique is that it not only works within family networks, but also between close friends and social circles, weaving its way through the fabric of our social grids, which interlock at points and allow mental viruses like Christianity to spread throughout whole societies.
- Bernhard Pick. The Monist. Vol. 21: The Attack of Celsus on Christianity, 1911, 249.
- Ibid. p. 226.
- Philip Schaff, Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 4: Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second; Origin, Against Celsus, Grand Rapids MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1885, 836.
- Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. London: Bantam Press, 2006, p. 174.
- Andrew Village, The Bible and Lay People: An Empirical Approach to Hermeneutics, Ashgate, 2007, pp. 90-91.
- Philip Schaff, Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 4: Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second; Origin, Against Celsus, Grand Rapids MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1885, p.
- Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 198.
- Joseph Wheless, Is it God’s Word? Alfred A. Knopf, 1926, p. vii.
- Professor Sandra L Calvert, Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing, 18.1, Spring, 2008, cited at: http://www.furureofchildren.org, p. 207.
- Philip Schaff, Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 4: Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second; Origin, Against Celsus, Grand Rapids MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1885, 845.
- Child Evangelism Fellowship, cited at: http://freeillustratedbible.com.
- Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, New York: Allen & Unwin, 2007, pp. 219-220.
- Jocelin, Edmund L. Swift Esq., The Life and Acts of Saint Patrick, the Archbishop, Primate and Apostle of Ireland, James Blyth, 1809, p. 93.
- Newport J. D. White, Translations of Christian Literature. Series 5: Lives of Celtic Saints. St. Patrick, His Life and Writings, Macmillan Company, 1920, p. 45.
- R. Montgomery Hitchcock, D.D, St. Patrick and His Gallic Friends, Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1916, p. 106.