Zeitgeist or Schietgeist?
Zeitgeist (Etymology: German, from Zeit + Geist spirit) is the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era. Schietgeist (Etymology: German, from Schiet shit + Geist spirit) is an intellectual and cultural movement to present allegations as fact. This web site has been set up to examine whether the first third of the movie Zeitgeist (2007, Peter Joseph, producer) has been honest with its presentation of facts. Zeitgeist or Schietgeist?
The movie Zeitgeist has a stated aim of inspiring “people to start looking at the world from a more critical perspective and to understand that very often things are not what the population at large think they are.” That being said, the film has done a commendable job. Where it seems to have fallen short, however, is when it exhorts those same people to “find out for themselves, for truth is not told, it is realized.” Many undereducated people have followed happily behind the trail laid by Zeitgeist, and have blindly parroted its claims, buoyed by its reinforcement of previously held anti-religious bias.
Zeitgeist is quick to establish its agenda, the opening monologue by Jordan Maxwell an untempered rant against traditional, organized Christianity. This quickly gives the movie the not-so-subtle approach of propaganda rather than that of an enquiring documentary that presents facts for us to judge and assess. A further rant by the comedian George Carlin does little to add to its credibility, but is rather an oversimplification of the filmmakers’ foregone conclusion.
The film also presents quotes from Gerald Massey, identifying him as an Egyptologist. This, given the focus on Egyptology in the movie, seems to carry significant weight. What is not noted, however, was that Gerald Massey was self-taught, thereby able to reach conclusions unchallenged by the normal peer review required in the academic world. Further, Massey was a neo-druid, elected Chosen Chief of the Most Ancient Order of Druids from 1880 through 1906. While this information does not necessarily negate every conclusion attributed to Massey, it should be recognized as coloring, if not leading, some of his opinions and statements.
When reading the New Testament one must remember that this was not, in our modern sense, a biography of Jesus of Nazareth. One must also remember that, in common with most peoples of the ancient world, the Israelites attached symbolic significance to numbers. Therefore, whenever a specific number is mentioned it likely carried a symbolic meaning. In many cases, the numbers must not be taken literally. For example, the number twelve represented completeness and perfection. There were more than twelve tribes of Israel, but the twelve were representative of “all Israel”. Therefore, the commonly known twelve Apostles was a reference to their “completeness”, and in fact the lists provided in the different Gospels do not always agree on their names or their order. This is not a ‘proof’ that points to a work of fiction, however, but simply reinforces the role of the New Testament as a compendium of information that is focused on spirituality and the teachings of Jesus Christ. As noted by the biblical scholar Kerry Temple: “…the stories and teachings of Jesus were spread orally, and it is probably that neither his exact words nor the stories’ details survived the retellings.”
Another aspect of the New Testament Gospels is best summed by Author and Astrophysicist Dr. Percy Seymour: “The significance and influence that astrology had on the world-view of antiquity is a fact which must not be ignored.” To assume there are no astrological references in the New Testament seems blind to numerous allusions, but to read it simply as an allegorical myth would be diminishing its historical connection.