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Debate: CirqueDeTruth VS. Druid42 - Did Christianity replace Paganism?

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posted on Jun, 22 2013 @ 08:44 PM
Good day everyone. I would like to thank the ATS staff and members for such a forum as this, which allows us all to debate our ideas in a formatted manner. I’d also like to thank the fighters for their patience in awaiting my opening statement. I had believed, foolishly, that upon summer I’d have extra time. This is proving to be a grave error on my part. My children have plans for the summer – and they all include getting me out of the house. I also became very nervous to post my first debate. Jitters so to speak, but here goes!

I am arguing for the notion that Christianity swooped in and has, as far as Western Europe is concerned, replaced and forever changed our understanding of the ancient Paleolithic pantheons of our ancestors. They replaced paganism by incorporating pagan idealism and customs into the new religion, as they busily wrote their books that today are comprised into the Bible.

I hold the position that all information that we have about our ancient pantheons of Western Europe, such as, the Nordic, Celtic, and Slavic Pantheons – have all been influenced by Christianity. Everything we know or think we know of our ancient pantheons, are colored and influenced by Judeo-Christian ideals. To understand this – we first have to have a real understanding of what the pagan religions exactly were – for people in ancient times.

Ancient paganism today is viewed with a very faulty, romantic view that is quite simply – erroneous. The truth is – that the original people of pagan beliefs were very superstitious, tightly controlled, and completely cut out of having a personal relationship with divinity. Instead, people had to go to the high-priest or druid in order to beseech help from on high. These priests and druids did not put forth their favors and baubles for free, however. The pagan societies were caste driven and priest controlled. You can imagine their fear and anger when Christianity swooped in and started teaching people – there is no intermediary between you and God except Christ. It’s a direct relationship with no one in between except the great teacher Jesus Christ who came forth to bring forward the great news! It wasn’t great news for the established rule and rigor of the ancient pagan populations. In fact it was heresy! To think that people could directly pray to god their woes; instead of going to temple and paying the priest to intercede on your behalf. Heresy I tell you! It also took all the divine power out of the ruler’s hands, whom controlled the priests.

So as the paradigm shift that is Christianity spread, what could our old leaders of ancient pagan belief systems do? Switch sides? Ah, now there is an idea. Switch sides, keep the good word suppressed, create a book and then keep people illiterate, and control the clergy. Control the paradigm shift. This is exactly what our dear leaders of the old Roman world exactly did do! No longer was Christianity a grass-roots movement among the masses being spread word of mouth, now it was a state controlled institution with only a select priests doing the talking and teaching. The old controls of the old religions were now firmly back in place and entrenched within the new religion.

Now, with the leaders of the old Roman world taking up and embracing the new way – a perverted form of Christianity developed, which spread its influence by the sword and the law of the land was – conform or die. Olaf, Peter and Charlemagne are but a few more brutal converts who became mass-murders on behalf of Christianity and on behalf of their rule over their subjects. Under this new world, paganism all but disappeared from Western Europe, and even when it did make a reemergence into society during the Renaissance, it was still colored and influenced by centuries of biblical indoctrination.

Over to you Druid42.


posted on Jun, 25 2013 @ 11:28 PM
I wish to thank Cirque for the opportunity to debate an interesting topic such as this.

On my behalf, I'll present that Paganism is a Religion that doesn't adhere to any of the three Abrahamic Faiths, namely, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, in that historical order. Surely, in modern society, at least, in the United States, there is a church every few blocks that adheres to some form of Christianity. Catholic cathedrals are tributes to such, and have hundreds of adherents per geographic location.

Does a dominate percentage of structures dedicated to a particular religion denote a preference to such? Such a question is mere rhetoric, when you realize that people who are not a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim, are in fact, Pagans. Atheists? Agnostics?

Yep, viable Pagans, by definition. Heathens.

In my opening to this debate, I'd also like to stress that while Christianity in it's early years tried to dominate, the Pagans merely went underground. A belief is something you die for, and I could show you examples of people who died for their beliefs throughout history, but it could be understood that a predominant regime may introduce new ideals, but not necessarily because you to adhere to them.

In such cases, survival was foremost. Knowledge held before the Dark Ages may never be recovered, but I think there is redemption still within us. Just because you are forced to accept a new ideology, a foreign belief, doesn't make it right, and human nature tends to what works. Paganism survived as a belief system, much without rigours of solid definition, for thousands of years, and was completely acceptable, and unchallenged, until Christianity came along trying to define an illogical premise of God on earth.

However, might wins. The armies of Constantine were relentless, and the concept of Christianity prevailed for hundreds of years without much resistance, due to the fact that Pagans, by nature, are peaceful people. (Save the Norseman, or Vikings, but that was their way of life, and of course, had a hard time adapting when originally presented with Christianity.)

I'll posit that Paganism was never replaced by Christianity, but people said they believed in Jesus to escape persecution, and practised their beliefs in the privacy of their own homes. Conformity saves lives, not rebellion. In a modern age where rights are protected, we'll find further in this debate that Paganism is alive as it ever was, and while a niche, still survives.

Back over to you, Cirque.

posted on Jun, 29 2013 @ 02:22 PM
Thank You Druid. The opportunity to debate with you is a pleasure. In my rebuttal, I would like to address two main points. Did paganism go underground and did paganism really survive its original ancestral form? This is to say, are we worshiping in the same manner with the same intent as our ancient European ancestors did?

Did Paganism go Underground?

Is there any factual evidence to show that there is an unbroken line of worship and practice of ancient Paganism? When I was younger and reading the literature put forth my Modern Pagan and Wicca's founders - authors such as Margaret Adler, Oberon-Zell Ravenheart, and Raymond Buckland - I actually did believe that 9 million pagans died at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition. I was convinced by my teachers, that those people who did die way back then, were remnants of an underground Paganism that had survived, intact and un-severed throughout centuries of Abrahamic rule. I swallowed faithfully, what these pioneers writers of Modern Paganism and Wicca were teaching us as our factual historic heritage! I'm sure many here may snicker when I say, I was surprised as I grew and expanded my studies, to learn that the "witch hunts" were not as the writers and movers of this brand new religion were promoting. Instead, I learned that the people who died during the Inquisition likely had nothing to do with old religions and beliefs that were valiantly trying to survive in a cruel Abrahamic world. What I found, was that the Malleus Mallificarum didn't originate to ferret out "Witches" but dissidents to a schism formed when the English Protestant Church broke away from the Roman Catholic church! It was an economic and political move to strip the Roman Catholic Church of it's property, and those still loyal to the Catholic Church of their riches, titles, and land.

One of the most widely pointed to text by Wiccans and Neo-Pagans is The Gospel of Aradia as put forth by Charles Leland in 1899. I don't think that there is anyone in the world who could sit down and read this text and not recognize that it is rife with Christian mysticism and allegory.

The contents of the book detail the Roman goddess, Diana's messianic daughter; Aradia and her descent to he earth to teach the oppressed worshipers witchcraft. It contains spells, blessings, rituals and myths, which suggest influence from Roman myth, Roman Catholicism, and some literary Satanism. Major characters in the myth include, the Roman Diana, Lucifer as a sun god, the biblical Cain as a lunar figure, and Diana's daughter Aradia, who is another name for Lilith. The book itself is considered to be methods of spell casting and a anti-hierarchical, so-called "counter religion" to the Catholic church.

Link to Text

So the next question would be, is there ANY texts from further back into history that Wiccan's and Pagans draw upon to verify their assertions that their religion is a direct descendent of untarnished lines of ancient European traditions? What actual texts of antiquity can Modern pagans draw upon? The oldest sources we do have are Plato, Homer, and Hesiod's works to point us in a direction of what our ancient ancestors believed and practiced. However, none of these authors give specifics or paint a clear enough picture of ritual, meaning, and practice to give us enough information to reconstruct an accurate representation of what our ancestors actually did practice. They were, after all, historians and story-tellers - not pagan priests. Another text that much of Celtic Paganism is reconstructed upon is the Welsh text, Mabinogion which experts argue may have been written anywhere between 1100ad. - 1300a.d. and is a collection of 12 Welsh tales. It's important to remember that those people who could read and write during these dark centuries of our history - were the wealthy and heads of State. Not the common people. So while these writers may have been faithfully trying to record the past customs and beliefs of a land being invaded by new rule, it was still all recorded under a Abrahamic mindset. Finally, let us briefly touch upon Snori Sturluson's work with the Edda . These works were composed by this politician/historian poet likely in the the early 13th century. It cannot be argued that this man was aware of Christianity and likely influenced by it. So in the end, we find that Modern Paganism and Wicca is not influenced by ancient works, but by works brought about and set forth one thousand years after documentation of Jesus Christ! A millennium!

Did Paganism survive in it's original form?

Continued in Next Post

posted on Jun, 29 2013 @ 03:03 PM
Did Paganism really survive in it's original form?

Are we really worshiping as our ancestors did? I would dare say NO, absolutely not. Much of Modern Paganism and Wicca's history is drawn directly from Christianity and Christian writers. Gnostic texts, Enochian mysticism and the Kabbalah - and they all work to help reconstruct a working ritual system, but none of them can be divorced from Judeo/Christian idealism. What has survived, and we recognize as being pagan, didn't survive through oral tradition passed down from book of shadow to book of shadow. Oh no, it survived in the very religion many Pagans and Wiccans stand diametrically opposed to! Through cultural assimilation and fluid growth, that is natural to the human condition, we kept what works and assimilated it into the new Religion that everyone in those days were being forced to embrace. This is why Modern Paganism and Wicca can even have a reformation! Paganism survives today because of the assimilation of customs, archetypes and universal symbolism that the Abrahamic religions reflect. Not to get all Jungarian on everyone, but the validity is sound! All of the ancient pagan customs we have today are in thanks to the Abrahamic religions absorbing the information. Rather than throw out good ideas, why not just adopt them?

If we, Modern Pagans and Wiccans, really looked at what our religion is - it's a divergence. We divided ourselves and stand separate from Abrahamic religions because we wished to be free from the patriarchal, monotheistic dogma that permeates its religions. We exist in anti-thesis to those concepts of inequality, those archaic aspects, that are crimes and in some areas of the world, continue to be crimes, against many sects of humanity, particularly women.

Modern Paganism is a rebirth, but in rebirth, it is made new. It has a deep connection to the Abrahamic beliefs, which has influenced it's rebirth from the beginning.

Back over to you Druid.

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