IshtarI have seen the image (left) more than once on facebook. It is, of course, absolute nonsense – misinformation from The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (Official) [sic] facebook page.

It has had 68,834 shares by people who uncritically follow a page that describes its mission as, “to support…critical thinking and evidence-based understanding…” OK; one final check: Yes the date of the image, 28 March, is not April Fools Day in any time zone!

Let’s look at these Dawkinsite claims with some real critical thinking and evidence-based understanding:

This is Ishtar. MOSTLY TRUE (or it might be Lilitu, Inanna, or Ereshkigal)

pronounced “Easter”. FALSE. “Ishtar” is pronounced… ummmm… “ishtar” [Hint for non-English, and Dawkinsians, there is no “sh” sound in “Easter”]

Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar FALSE

[Ishtar was] the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. CONFUSED. Actually more of war and sex.

Her symbols (like the egg and the bunny). FALSE. The egg and the bunny are not associated with Ishtar. I don’t want to make it too complicated for Dawkins and his disciples, but for others: bunnies evolved on the Iberian Peninsula (that’s present-day Spain and Portugal for the non-academic) and didn’t spread from there with the Roman Empire to “Ishtar country” until well after the Ishtar myth was (literally) set in stone. Sorry Dawkins. Biology meet History (see pps to follow).

The majority position on the etymology of “Easter” is grounded in “Eastre” from Proto-Germanic “Austron” (Ēostre or Ostara). The alternative is that the source of the English word “Easter” is the German word for resurrection, “auferstehung”.

ps. the image presents an underlying mistrust of an approach which can find truth in a number of places – not just the Bible and Christian tradition, but in nature, and in myths and other religions.
pps. there is the ongoing issue that being an expert in, say, ethology and evolutionary biology one can suddenly present oneself as an expert on, say, philosophy and religion.
ppps. Just because Dawkins and his devotees are wrong about philosophy, religion, and Easter, that does not mean they are necessarily wrong about some of the things they actually know something about.

So here is the corrected image:


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