Bill Moyers: Christian Atheist

How the PBS Icon, a Professing Christian, Has Used the Work of Atheist Mythologist Joseph Campbell to Undermine the Faith of Young Christians and Mislead Millions of Other Students

By Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr.


Each year, millions of young people in our high schools, colleges, and universities are attracted to the study of mythology. Many of them are Christians. Mythology is an intriguing subject. However, the literature that rules this field today springs from an atheistic standpoint which skulks beneath the thinnest possible veneer of honest scholarship. The works of Jane Ellen Harrison, Joseph Campbell, and the many other authors who have bought into their erroneous assumptions are treated as insightful and brilliant. They presume to teach the meaning of mythology and its relationship to the history of humanity; however, the reality is that their theories make little or no sense, and their pseudo-intellectual pride renders them blind to the obvious.

The serpent convinced Eve that what God had said was not worth considering, and this same serpent’s viewpoint is what characterizes and unites these writings into a single dominating and deluding literary genre. Some of their facts are correct, but as they demean the truth of the Book of Genesis, they shun the only context into which the facts sensibly fit.

No matter how overt or substantial the evidence, atheist scholars, by definition, cannot conclude that the Book of Genesis is a valid historical document. That is because validation of the truth of Genesis leads inevitably to validation of the reality of the God of Genesis. Thus, atheists must develop their own subjective, ambiguous, and convoluted explanations for the abundant ancient evidence that points toward the characters and events of Eden. As such, there is no cohesive foundation to their thinking. They are dogmatic, as opposed to being open-minded; sentimental, as opposed to being objective; and blind to truth, as opposed to being truly enlightened.

As surprising as it sounds, the world-famous Joseph Campbell had very little understanding of ancient myths - he called them all "metaphors." Myths thus mean anything and everything, and therefore, nothing. The term "metaphor" sounds very erudite and intellectual, but there is no substance beneath it. Campbell used the term to cover up his ignorance, and his ardent interviewer and promoter, Bill Moyers, went along with Campbell's shallow pretense.

Let’s take a look at the notions and influence of the atheist mythologists who are revered today, and at Bill Moyers' self-serving and hypocritical promotion of the fundamentally flawed works of atheist Joseph Campbell.

Jane Ellen Harrison

Jane Ellen Harrison (1850–1928) was an avowed atheist and author of Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion and Epilegomena to the Study of Greek Religion and Themis. She made a name for herself in the fields of Greek mythology and anthropology by projecting her own brand of feminism onto the ancient world. Her work is especially revered in liberal arts colleges today. Joseph Campbell based his knowledge of Greek myth largely on her work.

Ignoring Eve, Harrison wrote that the various mother-goddess images in Greek art pointed to an ideal and peaceful matrifocal (female-centered) society which preceded the Greek patriarchal system. Patriarchy, Harrison wrote, "would fain dominate all things, would invade even the ancient prerogative of the mother, the right to rear the child she bore … [it] usurps the function of the mother …".1 As an example of this male usurpation, she cited the birth of Athena who emerged full-grown from her father, Zeus.2 As one who takes the book of Genesis seriously, I have no difficulty in seeing the full-grown birth of Athena out of a male god as a picture of Eve’s full-grown birth out of Adam. Harrison’s atheism blinded her to that possibility.

The facts do not support a time when idyllic matriarchal cultures ruled. While there is plenty of evidence for goddess worship in the ancient world, there is next to none pointing to matrifocal societies, peaceful or otherwise. Harrison’s mother died shortly after she was born. Sadly, in her personal life, tragedy (repeating her own words) "invade[d] even the ancient prerogative of the mother, the right to rear the child she bore." Thus, her yearning for a lost nurturing system ruled by women speaks more to what she missed in her own childhood than to any historical reality.

It took a number of decades, but Barbara G. Walker finally carried Harrison’s thinking to its logical limits with the publication of her 1,124-page The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets in 1983. In her book, Walker proposes that women once owned all the land, governed its cultivation, and at their discretion made and unmade their sexual attachments.3 That’s why the patriarchal movement made up the myth of Eden—so that men would have an excuse to blame and disenfranchise women. And, not surprisingly, "Christianity itself was an offshoot of Middle-Eastern Goddess worship."4

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