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Are Superheroes Proof That Jesus was a Myth?

The forthcoming documentary Batman & Jesus suggests as much — that Jesus Christ was little more than Superman or Captain America cloaked in historical garb. Blurb:

Batman & Jesus seeks to introduce the evidence both for and against a historical Jesus of Nazareth to wider audience using contemporary examples in pop culture to draw comparisons


Forget that historical evidence strongly suggests that Jesus was a real person who performed miracles (and didn’t have a wife). It doesn’t stop the Friendly Atheist from seeing comic books as further evidence of a meaningless, Superhero-deficient universe.

In his post Shouldn’t It Be Obvious That All Superheroes Are Fictional?, the Friendly Atheist writes,

If I told you there was a man with supernatural powers, who people looked to in times of need, who was thought of as a savior, who was immortalized in books and films, and who had scores of enemies, would you say this person was real or fictional?

Superman is fictional. Catwoman is fictional. The X-Men are fictional.

But when the superhero is Jesus, suddenly everyone thinks he’s real.

What the Friendly Atheist or the makers of this documentary seem to fail to address is why the human psyche constantly gravitates to and yearns for a Superhero.

Grant Morrison, DC Comics veteran, in his book “Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human” explains:

“Comic book narratives can serve as modern day parables… We live in the stories we tell ourselves. In a secular, scientific rational culture lacking in any convincing spiritual leadership, superhero stories speak loudly and boldly to our greatest fears, deepest longings, and highest aspirations. They’re not afraid to be hopeful, not embarrassed to be optimistic, and utterly fearless in the dark. They’re about as far from social realism as you can get, but the best superhero stories deal directly with mythic elements of human experience that we can all relate to, in ways that are imaginative, funny, and provocative. They exist to solve problems of all kinds and can always be counted on to find a way to save the day. At their best, they help us to confront and resolve even the deepest existential crises. We should listen to what they have to tell us.”

Morrison is not a Christian, yet acknowledges that “superhero stories speak loudly and boldly” to inherent spiritual, existential yearnings; “to our greatest fears, deepest longings, and highest aspirations.” But why?

As C. S. Lewis noted, hunger and thirst always corresponds to something — in that case, food and water. We don’t hunger for things that don’t existence. The same is true for metaphysical yearnings. Humanity’s constant hunger for a Superhero — one evidence of which are comic books and MCU films — is less proof that Jesus was a fictional Superhero and more evidence that we yearn for One. And as Morrison notes, this persistent yearning actually undermines the “secular, scientific rational culture” that atheists use to bludgeon our Superhero sensibilities.

Rather than comic books proving that Jesus is fictional, couldn’t humanity’s constant yearning for a Savior, for a Righteous King, for a Judge Who will set things right, for a Loving, All-Knowing, All-Powerful Superhero, actually be evidence that we intuitively know One is there? And have a need for rescue?

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • R. L. Copple June 17, 2016, 9:24 AM

    The Friendly Atheist’s logic is so flawed here. What you are saying due to that, is it is just as easy to make the case it “proves” Jesus’ existence as it is to “prove” Jesus is fictional. This is where he goes wrong:

    1. What makes comics fictional and Jesus not is very simple. The former was written intentionally to be fiction and everyone knows that. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who tries to legitimately make the case that Batman or Superman were real people, *including the creators of those characters.* The Gospels were written intentionally to bear witness to the life and events of a real person, and that has consistently through history been held as the case, *especially by those who wrote the Gospels.* Where are the logical proofs offered by philosophers and theologians for and against the existence of a real historical Superman? There aren’t any because no one has tried to make that case, like they have for Jesus and God.

    2. His premise–that fictional superheroes have powers beyond normal human abilities, Jesus is stated to have super human abilities with all his miracles, therefore Jesus is fictional–is a logical fallacy. That’s the same as saying all bears have a nose, humans have a nose, therefore humans must have claws. The fact that two entities share a common trait does not require that they also share other traits.

    3. While I’m supposing he categorized this as “evidence” against the existence of a historical man who could do the things described in the Bible, and not a “proof” that Jesus didn’t exist as your title would suggest, this argument doesn’t even qualify as evidence. First, because what court would accept such an argument as evidence in favor of an argument? “Your Honor, I would like to prove the defendant committed the crime because we know the perpetrator knew how to make a bomb, and the defendant knows how to make a bomb, therefore he is guilty.” That lawyer would be laughed out of the courtroom.

    Second, because as you’ve shown, this conclusion is due to a subjective interpretation of the facts. You can take the same facts and “prove” the opposite just as validly, maybe more so. Such mushy “conclusions” from this logical fallacy due to the subjective interpretation they allow would never qualify as even evidence, much less a proof, of anything.

    The only thing that article is, is click-bait and proof of his preconceived beliefs about God and Jesus, that any coincidental parallel is substantial enough in his mind to validate his theology.

  • Jay DiNitto June 19, 2016, 6:31 AM

    ^ What R.L. said.

    Too, keep in mind that miraculous super-heroism was a tradition in Judaism by the time Jesus came around…so it was natural to be looking for that sort of figure regardless.

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