Vox Popoli: Christianity and paganism

I’ve been reading Vox Popoli for a bit, and although I tend to enjoy and agree with much of what is posted there (enough to add it to the roll and to my reader), this one threw me for a loop. In “Christianity and Paganism,” Vox writes:

Few in the West are conversant with the similarly hideous practices of the pagan Europeans that preceded their conversion to Christianity. From the flaming human sacrifices of the druids to the ritual rape-and-murders of the Viking funerals, Europeans have been historically prone to behavior that is no less abhorrent to modern sensibilities than the cannibalistic devil-worship of Africans today. There is no evidence whatsoever that a progressive secular society can survive for more than three generations; most of the evidence tends to indicate that it can’t even survive one.

I don’t speak for other atheists, but this specific atheists rejects all forms of superstition, including religion. There is nothing secular or atheistic about human sacrifices, paganism, druidism, etc. In James George Frazier’s The Golden Bough, the “ignorant Westerner” can get quite a lesson in the atrocities committed in the name of religious superstition throughout the ages. The line of ascension for kings and priests outside of Christendom is particularly gruesome, certainly not a fate any modernist would care for.

The larger issue for me is the confusion of two entirely separate issues:

  1. The rejection of Christianity specifically and monotheism in general, with…
  2. The rejection of mystical, superstitious belief.

One can easily fall into category 1 without being an atheist, and one can fall into category 2 without being a progressive; for that matter one can fall into either category and remain sympathetic and thankful for a great many things the spread of Christianity brought to the world.

As an atheist I don’t subscribe to garden variety superstitions, nor do I believe that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for my sins. To put it bluntly, I think third-party salvation is a heinous concept, which, aside from not believing in the Judeo-Christian god under whose cloak I was raised, would not make me inclined to Christianity even if I did believe in god.

There is also the perfectly natural “creative borrowing” by Christianity from a host of pagan traditions – Christmas is littered with such rites, and the story of the Virgin birth and the life of Christ bear a great resemblance to the mythological Osiris and his sister/wife, Isis. I have no problem with any of this, but it’s a revealing blind spot we get every holiday season that (my generalization of the view Christians hold in general – and I live with and around a great many of them pre-Christianity) Christianity is the alpha and omega of the civilized world.

It is not.

Not included in Vox’s post but evident in any discussion of a religious person discussing atheism is the mass graves of Communism, by definition an atheistic State religion of sorts. I don’t argue with this for a moment, but do not believe that atheism was the reason for said graves – that would be Communism specifically, or as a catchall, Collectivism on one end and Totalitarianism on another.

Adolf Hitler – to switch mass grave sites – was no Christian, he held it in contempt. But do not be fooled to think that he was an atheist, or that a number of his henchmen were not Christians. Mein Kampf is full of references to Providence and Valhalla – these are not the offerings of an atheist, even symbolically. Hitler specifically and National Socialism in general were fed and fueled by certain aspects of Western European paganism, the same paganism that fuels a great many Christian traditions.

Are Christians pagans, or neo-pagans? I wouldn’t argue that, and I don’t really care. The purpose of this exercise is to note that not all Western atheists are ignorant of paganism, nor is paganism by any stretch inclusive of or in debt to atheism. Ultiamtely, Christianity has much more in common that Viking funerals, druid-tree worship, ancient kings and their sacrifices and paganism than does atheism.

I have no issue with Christianity. I consider America a Judeo-Christian nation in the general sense of the term, and I’m happy it is. That being said, secularism and paganism have nothing in common. Polytheism, perhaps, but not atheism.

/annoying atheist






About godsowncrunk
I'm King B, the originator of the Jellywhite lyrical style and god's own crunk.

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