Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why Did Paganism Fail?

A long time ago, the world was dominated by religions we would now classify as "pagan". Today, the Western world and big swaths of the East as well are dominated by the monotheistic Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam).

So what happened?

I'm not so good at history--science is my forte--but I recognize that there probably isn't any one answer for how paganism was displaced in primacy in disparate cultures in disparate eras. Nonetheless, it's striking how thorough the change has been in so many cultures with so many different situations.

I don't buy "evolutionary" arguments--that monotheism is more "advanced" than the various types of paganism (obviously, or I wouldn't be pagan). Yet I'm also leery that it was solely a matter of conquest (adopting the religion of the conquerors either at the point of a sword/gun or out of convenience), though that was a big factor in some cases. And I recognize that in many instances, paganism just took on a subtler guise (e.g., santeria and the other syncretic religions).

Ye Cauldronites who know your history backwards and forwards--and there are a lot of you!--please shed some light on this for me, if at all possible.

[And then there's the inevitable follow-up question: Why the pagan resurgence, however marginalized we may be, and why now?]

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