Classic EssaysRevilo P. Oliver

The Origins of Christianity, part 13

A Christian sculpture depicting the “battle of good versus evil”

by Revilo P. Oliver


THE GODLY TRIBE of Ahura Mazda’s clever priests gave us the word ’Magic,’ but none of their feats of prestidigitation was half so marvelous as the magic Zoroaster says he performed at the very beginning of his ministry. In one of his gathas, he lavishly praises a Turanian named Fryana, and according to the uniform tradition, this man and his family were among the very first converts to Zoroaster’s religion.(1) They were among the first Apostles and they and their descendants were revered as such. In other words, Turko-Mongolians were transformed into Aryans (or the equivalent) by believing, or saying they believed, Zoroaster’s tall tales about his newly created god. Zoroaster seems to have been the inventor of the notion of a “spiritual transformation” effected by a religious “conversion,” which is, of course, much more marvelous than the conversion of a princess into a white cat or a frog, of which we are so often told in fairy tales. The tales suppose that the princess remains herself, with her mind and character unchanged by confinement to a feline or batrachian body, whereas the miracle of a religious “conversion” is said to change character and thus transform the individual into a different person.(2)

The Turanians were transmuted into more than Aryans. By believing Zoroaster, they enlisted in the army of the good God, and they thus became vastly superior to all the Aryans who refused Salvation at the hands of God’s salesman. They acquired a right, nay, a duty to help smite all those Aryans, whom they must regard as agents of the evil god and therefore their deadly enemies. And the Aryans who took to the new religion must accept the equally sanctified aliens as their brothers-in-arms, while the other Aryans, including perhaps those who were a man’s nearest and dearest, have become their enemies, evil beings who, if they do not yield to exhortation and harassment, must be destroyed to help make a Better World. Zoroaster could have exulted, as did Jesus much later, that he had “come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and …a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Religion has become a corrosive acid that dissolves all the natural bonds of society, kinship, family, social status, race, and even government, and replaces them with the factitious and unnatural bond of unanimity in superstition.

A recent writer does not greatly exaggerate when, thinking to praise Zoroastrianism, he describes it as “a universalist religion, advocating spiritual equality between all races, nations, and classes, even between man and woman…. The state was not considered to be the supreme reality…. It was to constitute an atmosphere [!] wherein all individuals, irrespective of their sex, or class, or race could achieve perfection [!].”(3)

The Zoroastrian cult and all the cults derived from it can be summarized in one sentence. They replace race with a church. They are a deadly racial poison. They are a bubonic plague of the mind and spirit, which has sapped the vitality of our race for centuries and has now brought it to the point of death.

It is true that we have little information about the racial application of the religion in its early stages. Zoroaster tells us that he hated everyone who did not accept his “revelation,” and a probably authentic tradition adds that Ahura Mazda commanded him to curse all who did not embrace the Gospel and that Zoroaster commanded that in every land persons who reject Salvation must be slain at once. Obviously, there was no thought of sparing Aryans. And on the other hand, Zoroaster rejoices over Turko-Mongolian converts and sends his missionaries into “far lands,” presumably regardless of the race inhabiting them. The sense of racial integrity was not quickly destroyed, however, for when Darius boasts that he is “an Aryan of the Aryans,” he is obviously speaking of race, and, no doubt, he understood in the same way the Zoroastrian dogma, which probably dates from his time, that only Aryans should rule. What is odd, however, is that the only early term for the adherents of the new religion seems to have been Airyavo danghavo, which identifies them as the “Aryan people,” but must include converts of other races to the “universal” religion. And there are instances in which the meaning of the noun is ambiguous before we come to the late writings in Pahlavi in which ‘Aryan’ (Eran) and ‘non-Aryan’ (Aneran) simply mean ‘Zoroastrian’ and ‘infidel.’ As I indicated in an early section of this book, I suspect, but cannot prove, that the Magi resorted to a verbal trick, more theologorum. The word arya means ‘noble, honorable,’ and since the people of the good god must be excellent people and superior to the wicked, they could be described as aryas, ‘respectable persons, the better folk,’ even if they were not Aryan by race. The studied ambiguity would then be comparable to the verbal tricks employed by the early Christian Fathers.

Unfortunately, we do not know just how the replacement of race by church was treated theologically, or even politically, in the Persian Empire, and we must, as always, lament the destruction of virtually all of the copious writings of the Magi when Persia was conquered by the Moslems in the Seventh Century, and, of course, the earlier loss of the extensive translations of the principal Zoroastrian scriptures and theological works into Greek, which had been made to satisfy the enlightened curiosity of Alexandrian scholars in the time of the Ptolemies and certainly did not survive the final destruction of the great library at Alexandria by mobs of ignorant and viciously misologic Christians in 389.(5) We are thus reduced to surmises, but we may at least legitimately infer that the “Aryan” religion exerted a great attraction on the other races in the vast and multi-racial Persian Empire, and that the more intelligent and ambitious members of those races adopted the official religion as a means of identifying themselves with the dominant culture, much as in recent times Chinese, Hindu, and other Orientals adopted Christianity to facilitate their relations with us. On the other hand, we can assume that the Persians, who formed the ruling aristocracy and enjoyed certain privileges (e.g., exemption from most taxation) that were not extended to other Aryans, wisely favored politically a religion that provided some bond of unity between the widely different peoples under their rule and encouraged loyalty to their empire. The Persians, like the British in India, admitted natives to fairly high administrative offices in the various provinces; it would have been only reasonable for them to favor, perhaps exclusively, natives who had adopted the religion of their conquerors and thus shown a possibly sincere desire to be assimilated into their culture.

We must also take into account the moral appeal of Zoroaster’s religious confection. He had made Ahura Mazda command conduct that was of the highest social utility, and, especially in its emphasis on manly courage and speaking the truth, corresponded to the code of honor for which the Persian aristocracy was famous.(6) And prudent governors, whatever their personal opinions, would naturally encourage the practice of a system of psychic magic by which the lower races could be converted to a spontaneous obedience to the laws that sustain the order and domestic peace of a civilized society. There is an obvious analogy to the belief, long cherished in the modern world, that Christianity could abate and control the racial proclivities of Negroes and other savages.

The creation of equality among human beings by religious magic has another aspect, social rather than specifically racial. It obviously carries with it an implication of the “classless society” that so fascinates the votaries of the atheistic derivatives of Christianity today, exciting their Schadenfreude, which they call “social justice.” This aspect of the religion must have appealed strongly to the “weak and downtrodden,”(7) the proletariat, the very dregs of every society. Although, as we all know, the complexity of human genetics and the vicissitudes of human fortune not infrequently produce men of talent and merit from among the poor (and likewise produce biped pests from among the wealthy), it is a simple and obvious fact that the dregs of a population naturally sink to the bottom in every orderly society, and that disaster can be the only result of the modern mania for perpetually stirring up an “open society” so that the dregs on the bottom will become the scum on the top.

It is particularly regrettable that we have no means of knowing when the egalitarian fallacy, which is certainly present in Zoroaster’s own gathas, was first logically extended to a practical application to social organization, but we may be sure, I think, that the revolutionary potential of the superstition was perceived long before our earliest record of it. Under the early Sassanids, the Mazdakites, a numerous and popular sect, preached the “social gospel,” reasoning, like many Christian sects and their ostensibly secular derivatives (e.g., Marxists), that since all men have been created equal, they must be made equal in income, social status, and perquisites (e.g., access to the more desirable females). They anticipated modern “Liberals” and other communists by specifically advocating taxation as the means of making everyone equal. This pious idea appealed strongly to Kavades, who found his treasury almost empty and, like modern governments, found the “underprivileged” an admirable excuse for robbing his subjects. His successor, the great Chosroës, finding himself well-established in power with a loyal army, decided that the Mazdakites were not orthodox Zoroastrians, and proved his point by having all of them hanged (he was averse from shedding blood unnecessarily), unless other methods of practical theology were more convenient. Mazdakites who escaped the extermination in 529 doubtless became discreet, for we hear no more of them, but communism was as inherent in Zoroastrianism as it is in Christianity and it reappears in the Ninth Century in the sect (“brotherhood”) of the Khorrami, who flourished in old Atropatene and Media, the regions wherein Zoroastrianism was always strongest, and who represented the last stand of their religion against the Moslems, who finally suppressed them.

Like all “revealed” religions, Zoroaster’s invention blighted the minds of all who succumbed to its meretricious and vulgar attraction. It substituted faith, an emotional and irrational conviction, for intelligent observation and reason. It was a baneful deterioration from the relatively reasonable polytheisms it replaced, which did not really fetter and paralyse the brain. In the Graeco-Roman world, for example, the Aryan mind perceived that the human species had to be the product of some kind of evolution. As every reader of Lucretius’s magnificent poem well knows, the basic principle that determines the survival or extinction of animal species was well known, and the evolution of civilized man from lower, less human stock was recognized, as was the determining factor, the ability and will to civilize themselves. With just a little imagination and journalistic exaggeration, one could see in a passage from a play by Moschion (probably fourth century B.C.) an adumbration of the evolution of our species from the anthropophagous Australopitheci to Greek civilization.(8) Even before Democritus, intelligent men saw that the notion of a special creation of human beings by some clumsy god was nonsense, and thinking men tried to account for the existence of our peculiar form of animal life by reasoning logically from such data as were available to them, reaching, in the fifth century B.C., hypotheses more rational than anything known in Christianized Europe before the Nineteenth Century.

For the exercise of intelligence, Zoroaster’s “spiritual” confection and all the “revelations” that have been modelled on it substitute an inherently preposterous story on the supposed authority of a Big Daddy who knows everything, since he created it, and tells us, so that the poor in spirit will never have to distress themselves by trying to stimulate as much of a cerebral neo-cortex as they may have in their skulls. So we have the silly story about the twins, Masi and Masani, which is, however, more plausible than the idiotic Jewish story about Adam and his spare rib, which, incredible as it seems a priori, the Christians tried to make themselves believe and seem for centuries to have succeeded in attaining the necessary degree of imbecility. And even today we are afflicted with the chatter of pip-squeaks who, having received some technical training in colleges, have the effrontery to call themselves “scientists” and demand to peddle the mouldy old hokum in the schools as “creationism,” an antidote to reason. And I sadly observe in passing that they do not have even the good taste to pick out the most reasonable creation myth of which I know: The first human beings were fashioned from clay by the divine sculptor, Prometheus, who, however, did much of his work by night, after he returned from a drinking party with the other gods on Olympus, with the result that his bleary mind and unsteady hand produced the woefully botched work that we are.(9) From the activity of these nuisances one can estimate the devastating effect of Zoroaster’s hallucinations or cunning on our race; “the curse remains” and “deep is its desolation.”

In the sixth century B.C., Xenophanes of Colophon, whom we mentioned earlier, fully understood that if men wish to improve their lot in life, they can depend only on themselves, not on supernatural beings they imagine in moments of idle fancy. And that realistic understanding of our position in the world was held by good minds so long as the Graeco-Roman world remained Aryan, disappearing only when the Roman Empire had been so polluted by the influx of Orientals and the degrading myths dear to their irrational mentalities that the great edifice of civilization inevitably crumbled down into the barbarism of the Dark Ages. The debasing and emasculating superstition concocted by Zoroaster made men dependent on remote gods or the angels and devils that were perpetually swarming about them, and such vestiges of intelligence as men retained had to be devoted to manoeuvring among the invisible and impalpable spooks or to theological logomachies about figments of the imagination.

The whole world went mad, and men wasted and ruined their lives and the lives of innumerable contemporaries in a phrenetic attempt to reserve for their suppositious ghosts a suitable abode in a dream-world, “out of space and out of time.”

Civilization is more of hope and striving than of attainment, and the best that we can achieve is fragile and at the mercy of unforeseen catastrophies and, no doubt, the deplorable vagaries of our own species; it is, at best, a small clearing in an encompassing and constantly encroaching jungle; it may be that it could not long endure under any circumstances, but one thing is quite certain: It is incompatible with “revealed” religions and their howling dervishes.


1. There is an even stranger tradition (not supported by the gathas) that the very first person whom Zoroaster tried to “convert” after his conference with Ahura Mazda was not an Aryan! He was a Turanian named Urvaitadeng, a just and honorable man, who would have accepted the Gospel, had he not drawn the line at the theological doctrine of xvaetvadatha, which recommends as especially pious and meritorious sexual unions between mother and son and between brother and sister (see note 11, p. 84 supra). That idea shocked the Turko-Mongolian, so he rejected Salvation and he and his progeny were damned forever and forever. Let that be a lesson to all doubters, who let their own feeble minds interfere with obedience to the Will of God, which is a mystery beyond all human understanding!

2. Miss Boyce believes that in the time of Zoroaster the Turanians (Tuirya) were one of five related tribes of the same race; that when they are described as the foes of the Aryans (Airya), the reference is not to the race but to one of the five tribes; and that the name ‘Turanian’ was transferred to the Turko-Mongolians when they displaced the Aryan tribe and occupied the territory we know they held in the time of the Persian Empire. This, which seems unlikely in itself, depends on the very early date she assigns to Zoroaster and on her claim that he had no association at all with Medes, Persians, and Magi, so that the traditions about his parentage, travels, ministry, and enlistment of the Magi are all late and baseless inventions. If that is true, we must resign ourselves to knowing nothing about Zoroaster, and it becomes likely that the gathas, which purport to record his pronouncements, are only very clever forgeries, and that the religion was concocted ab ovo by the Magi. This seems to me extremely improbable in the light of what we know about the genesis of “revealed” religions and the tenor of the gathas (cf. supra, p. 71).

3. Ruhi Afnan, op. cit., p. 30.

4. We must not exaggerate. Miscegenation long antedates Zoroaster, and the religions merely sanctified an inveterate vice and eroded an already feeble racial consciousness. Wherever our race has established itself, our men have been unable to keep their hands off the women of other races. Viking expeditions were necessarily small bands of warriors, and when they occupied territory far from home, as in the Western Hemisphere, miscegenation was inevitable, though deplorable, especially in its effect on the resulting mongrels. (Cf. supra, p. 46.) In tribal migrations, such as that of the Aryans into India, there was no valid reason for such feckless indulgence in lust, which can be excused only by their ignorance of genetics. The crucial importance of racial heredity, indeed, is a recent discovery, abhorred, of course, by our enemies and by all of our people who profit from ignorance and superstition. It is true that until our race finally succumbed to the “one world” poisons and became crazed with a suicidal mania, we did try to keep our women uncontaminated and there were, from time to time, in various societies some efforts to restrict legal marriages to women of our race, leaving the males free to engender mongrel bastards who could not inherit property or citizenship. Such prudent regulations, however, were not long maintained in practice, even when they were not destroyed by the egalitarian religions, which nevertheless must be recognized as the strongest of all dysgenic forces.

5. The Christian rabble, led by an especially disgusting theologian, Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, destroyed the Serapeum, in which the central part of the great Library had always been located, and which appears to have escaped serious damage in the earlier riots and insurrections that so frequently occurred in the city, most commonly incited by the huge colony of Jews. The date for the act of atrocious vandalism is also given as 391 in some sources. After the Christians, there was probably nothing left for the Moslems to destroy when Amr took the city in 640; the famous and oft-repeated story of the Arab commander’s destruction of the Library seems to have been invented by Bar-Hebraeus, a Jew and Christian bishop, around 1270. We may especially regret the loss of the writings, whether genuine or spurious, that were probably attributed to Saena, a successor of Zoroaster who is mentioned in the Avesta and is said to have trained a hundred disciples, and of the works of the evidently eminent theologian Ostanes, who is said to have been a favorite of Xerxes and is credited with a work entitled Oktateuchos in its Greek translation. Ostanes, by the way, is cited with approbation by one of the earliest Christian writers, Minucius Felix (26.11). Next to Zoroaster, he was the most celebrated Zoroastrian sage, and the numerous references to him in the Greek and Latin writers are collected by Bidez and Cumont in Les Mages hellénisés.

6. The ethics of the old Persian nobility, and particularly their insistence on always speaking the truth, greatly impressed the Greeks – so much so that Xenophon made Cyrus the hero of his didactic novel, although he himself had narrowly escaped death at the hand of Tissaphernes, a Persian of noble ancestry and a model of treachery and perfidy. To be sure, Xenophon concludes the Cyropaedia with a chapter on the corruption and degeneracy of the Persian aristocracy in his time, when, he says, no one would trust them. Religion, as usual, seems to have done little good to their morals.

7. The phrase is taken from the modern Parsee whom I cited above, p. 77, who notes that Zoroastrianism had the same appeal as the later Christianity. He, however, confuses two quite different things, the religion’s appeal to social dregs (such as the Jewish rabble who supply the apostles, etc., in the “New Testament”) and its appeal to women, who are not necessarily weak or of low social strata. He could have drawn a contrast between Zoroaster’s religion, which did give females equality (in theory, at least) and Christianity, which, in the cult that finally attained power, regarded them as inferior and potentially dangerous creatures, and some of the Fathers speak of the “imperfect animal” in terms that suggest a wish to anticipate the Moslem doctrine that women, being without souls, would not survive to plague men in Heaven (where Allah would provide much superior replacements, the houris, a happy idea that did not occur to the Fathers, who saw no use for females outside Hell). But perhaps Anatole France was right when he remarked that women were properly grateful to Christianity: It made them a sin.

8. The text may be found in Snell’s Tragicorum Graecorum fragmenta and in the Oxford Book of Greek Verse; there is an English translation in Volume III of W.C.G. Guthrie’s History of Greek Philosophy (Cambridge University, 1969).

9. This creation myth is in Phaedrus (IV.15 & 16); it could be original with him. Another explanation of one of Prometheus’s blunders is in a well-known Aesopic fable, No. 240 in B.E. Perry’s Aesopica (University of Illinois, 1952). Our polytheistic religions had many creation myths, of course, but everyone was sensible enough to know that they were only myths, and anyone was free to invent a new one. Incidentally, the yarn about Eve and the loquacious snake may well have been suggested by a common motif in ancient genre-sculpture: a girl looks longingly at a delicious apple hanging on the bough of a tree about which a snake is coiled. The point of the charming composition is obvious, but a Jew would not have understood it. For one such work of sculpture, dating from the third century B.C., see the American Journal of Archaeology, XLIX (1945), pp. 430 ff.

To be continued

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Sightseeing in Absurdistan
Sightseeing in Absurdistan
6 August, 2022 1:25 am

Time is passing inexorably, we are all racing towards our individual deaths. At least that is what we assume. Perhaps we are long dead, experiencing what we call life only in a waking dream, a kind of déjà vu, a “thought experiment”? If what we call life is such a brief moment in eternity that knows neither beginning nor end, why would we be in this moment of all moments? I mean, what is the probability of that? The universe exists in the end only in the head of the people as an idea of it. What means nothing else than that without heads there can be no universe at all. If there are no more heads which imagine a universe, then there is strictly speaking also no more universe.… Read more »

Jim - National Alliance Staff
Jim - National Alliance Staff
Reply to  Sightseeing in Absurdistan
6 August, 2022 3:37 am

But maybe…you’ve come to doubt what your senses tell you due to an influence you’ve ingested or allowed to be programmed into your head. Choose your reality or someone’s reality or whatever, the one and only reality is presented before us and making sense of it is what you’ll find most here at National Vanguard. The confusion you’re talking about isn’t in much demand here.

Andrew Hamilton
Andrew Hamilton
Reply to  Sightseeing in Absurdistan
6 August, 2022 5:28 pm

In this narrative you have your cake and eat it too. The universe exists in the end only in the head of the people as an idea of it. What means nothing else than that without heads there can be no universe at all. If there are no more heads which imagine a universe, then there is strictly speaking also no more universe.  This is a relatively straightforward statement of philosophical idealism, which traces back to Anglo-Irish philosopher and Anglican bishop George Berkeley. It is not persuasive to me, and hardly any Westerner actually lives his life really believing and acting as if it were true. That said, idealism has been philosophically and scientifically influential. Next you say, Perhaps even our entire life is a mere illusion, a fiction, a… Read more »