One could say much in reply to this meme. The meme asserts several things:
1) That mythological gods such as Zeus, Horus and so forth are analogous to Jesus.
2) That Christianity is mythology (i.e. a false religion).
3) It may even be jumping on the bandwagon of the Christ myth theory (that Jesus’ never even existed).
Jesus’ physical representation in the meme:
Indeed the way Jesus is presented in the frame is myth. By myth I mean unhistorical as he almost certainly did not look at all like how he is depicted in the frame. In fact, we cannot be certain, historically speaking, of how Jesus looked physically. However, we can be certain that he was a Jew, therefore likely quite short and dark in complexion. He was almost certainly not white as the picture shows him to be. We have a prophecy in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53:2) that is alleged to predict the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. In the verse we read:
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him … He had no form or majesty that would make us look at him. … We shall see him, yet nothing attractive about him that we should desire him.”
As a matter of history I do not think that this can be used as a physical description of what Jesus looked like as he lived many hundreds of years after this prophecy was made. That is not to say that this is not a prophecy of the coming of Jesus. Rather, it is that as a matter of history we can’t use it as a piece of evidence.
Jesus analogous to mythological gods?
Secondly, Jesus the man is by no means analogous to Zeus or any other god from Greek/Roman pantheons (see my article: 23 Reasons Why Scholars Know Jesus Is Not a Copy of Pagan Religions.) This is where the ignorance of the meme shines most brilliantly. The two other gods depicted in the meme simply never existed as historical persons. On the other hand we have an entire body of literature written on Jesus by those who had access to his contemporaries, and knew much about him in the decades following his crucifixion. This is what the New Testament is. It is a collection of historical documents that clearly puts Jesus on Earth with emphasis on his three year ministry and resurrection. In fact, Jesus is also mentioned by other ancient writers such as Josephus Flavius, Cornelius Tacitus, Suetonius, early church fathers and a plethora of others who often agree with our primary sources such as the gospels and other New Testament literature. Comparing all our sources together historians can sketch a portrait of who Jesus really was as a historical person. We cannot do that for the other gods in the meme.
At best someone could try and argue that much of how Jesus is depicted in the New Testament is embellished, but embellished around a historical core nonetheless. However, to argue that everything recorded about Jesus in our primary sources is unhistorical and/or mythological is simply going too far.
“Today it’s religion, tomorrow it’s fable.”
Thirdly, of course the meme provides no reasons as to why this strapline is the case for any of the religions depicted. In other words, it is cheap atheistic propaganda that has little bearing on reality when it comes to contemporary religion. I won’t comment on the other two mythological gods, but I will comment on Christianity. The meme can be no further from the truth.
For a starter, religion is growing around the world at a phenomenal rate while atheism is declining (with the west being the minority exception) and is set to drop to 1.8% (from 4.5% in 1970) by the year 2020 (1). So, if anything is to be a fable by the dawn of tomorrow, it is atheism and not Christianity. Not only is the meme off by comparing Christianity to mythological gods/religions, it is also far off statistically. For example, Christianity is growing at momentous rates in China (2 & 3), whereas 19 of the top countries where Christianity is growing fastest are found within Asia (4). On the other hand Islam appears to be the fastest growing religion in the world (5). Furthermore, it would appear that belief in God is hardwired into the human brain from birth (6 & see my short summary: Humans predisposed to believe in God, Oxford study suggests.). I think this is more than sufficient to prove that the meme is outright false.
The meme is mistaken on several accounts. The historical figure of Jesus is by no means analogous to mythological gods despite this being a popular argument by fundamentalist atheists. Secondly, the meme provided no reason as to why any of the gods depicted in the meme are “fables.” Thirdly, the meme is way off statistically in claiming that in the not too distant future Christianity will join the graves of the mythological gods such as Zeus and Horus. This is outright wrong statistically as Christianity grows at a rapid rate worldwide. In fact, atheism is tenfold more likely to become a buried myth than any of the three monotheistic religions.
1. Center for the Study of Global Christianity. 2013. Christianity in its Global Context, 1970–2020. Available: http://wwwgordonconwell.com/netcommunity/CSGCResources/ChristianityinitsGlobalContext.pdf
2. Colson, C. 2015. How Christianity is Growing Around the World. Available: http://www1.cbn.com/biblestudy/how-christianity-is-growing-around-the-world
3. Cantilero, M. Islam, Catholicism seeing rapid growth among young people in China — survey. Available: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/islam.catholicism.seeing.rapid.growth.among.young.people.in.china.survey/58795.htm
4. Addison, S. 2015. The top 20 countries where Christianity is growing the fastest. Available:http://www.movements.net/2015/06/10/the-top-20-countries-where-christianity-is-growing-the-fastest.html
5. Lipka, M & Hackett, C. 2015. Why Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group. Available: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/06/25/whats-fastest-growing-religion-australia
6. Beckford, B. 2008. Children are born believers in God, academic claims. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/3512686/Children-are-born-believers-in-God-academic-claims.html