Greatest religions that never were

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Antiochus, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. Antiochus Well-Known Member

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    So I was reading this thread:

    http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=228265

    about the Roman Empire adopting another religion other than Christianity, and decided to start this more general thread.

    What other religions were there that you think could have risen to dominance globally?

    And as a follow up question:

    What do you think their impact would have been if they had been widely adopted?
     
  2. Daeres Well-Known Member

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    Depending on what you think of the current state of Buddhism, I think it could have been practiced by a much wider range of peoples/cultures than today.
    I think it's possible for Buddhism to have remained a popular religion stretching across Asia, between Afghanistan and Japan. It's relatively easily adapted to pre-existing local beliefs, it's a relatively egalitarian faith in principle, and Buddhism has never exactly equalled perfect pacifism; there's nothing to stop Buddhist cultures actively resisting aggressive outsiders aside from falling foul of material disadvantages.

    I think that Dionysian cults could have spread further had they not been linked to revolutionary movements in Greek cities which resulted in curbs on its influence. But since Greek religious ideas and metaphysics are part of the fundamental backbone of Christianity, the Greeks have already been responsible for a lot.

    The definition of 'faith' is a little woolly, a lot of religions have been externally identified by cultures separated by distance and/or time from the people who practiced them, and i'm not sure that many religious practices would have had followers who identified as having 'a' faith. If we're restricting the discussion to evangelical, self identifying faiths such as Judaism, Manichaeism, Christianity etc then we're going to run out of them fairly quickly.
     
  3. wolf_brother Banned

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    Throw a dart at anywhere on the map of the New World, pick a religion where it lands, and voilà.
     
  4. yourworstnightmare Trubbelmakare

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    A strong Tengriism would be nice, but it's a little bit too ethnic to gain followers outside the Turkic and Mongol peoples.
     
  5. Antiochus Well-Known Member

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    Well considering Christianity in theory preaches lots of the same values as Buddhism, I don't see a problem with Buddhism being spread just as militantly.

    I'll leave the term "faith" as wide as possible for this question. The problem I have though is that in the late Roman era onward, strong self identifying faiths have dominated much of human history to the point that its difficult to imagine the last 2000 years without them, especially Christianity and Islam. But then again considering that they in no way became universal (looking at China and India in particular), it must have been possible for other faiths and polytheism to dominate instead.

    That's an interesting one. Maybe a stronger/long lasting Mongolian Empire could change that? I don't know much about Tengriism, but it seems that everyone always writes about the spread of Islam and Christianity to the Mongols, not Tengriism to those conquered by them. Just look at any of the Mongol invasion of Europe threads! Was it incompatible with mass conversion?
     
  6. Cuāuhtemōc Twitter fiend

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  7. CandyDragon Party-Poopin Pappy

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    I think it would be interesting to see a globe in which some of the 19th century American religions (I'm thinking the Church of the Latter Day Saints) have risen to global prominence. I don't know what good PoD's there could be to ensure such a thing, however... Nor really do I think I would like to live in a world like that... (no offense intended)
     
  8. CandyDragon Party-Poopin Pappy

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  9. Morty Vicar Banned

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    Dionysian cults seem quite interesting, instead of fasting and prayer and solitude they endorse drinking, dancing and orgies to induce 'religious ecstasy'. Also they had cults of crazy women who (allegedly) eat the flesh of men and children.

    If the Nazis had won WW2, they would have imposed their syncretic religion 'Aryanism' upon the population. It was a strange mixture of Pagan Norse mythology, references to Atlantis and the mythical superior Aryan race, perhaps mixed with some Thule Society/ Vril Society beliefs and symbolism, and some basic facets of Christianity, but with the belief that 'Aryans' are the chosen people. Apparently official Nazi churches replaced the Bible with 'Mein Kampf', although I don't know if it was seen as a Gospel, or to replace or be added to the New Testament.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  10. General Tirpitz Well-Known Member

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    More succesful Manichaeism would have been interesting.
     
  11. The Professor Pontif of the Guild

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    And noone's mentioned Zalmoxianism yet...
     
  12. NikoZnate Is not actually named "Niko".

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    Atenism :D ;)
     
  13. Gordius Well-Known Member

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    Aristonicus and his Sun Citizens, during the rebellion against Rome taking over the Attalid Kingdom of Pergamum, preached that they should all strive to build a 'Heliopolis' a Sun City where Egalitarian ideals ruled and there were no slaves or slavery.

    Roman historians said it was a cheap trick to get more soldiers from the peasants and slaves and quickly glaze over the subject entirely. Tough a certain amount of scepticism on their motives is always the case when it comes to dealing with history by the victor.

    As such Rome was held as the epitomy of all that was evil by the Sun Citizens, what with the horrendous treatment of the locals due to extortionate tax regimes, loans forced upon locals with unbelievable intrest rates, unchecked enslavement and the rampant greed of the the Roman officials, who spent the first few months of the rebellion looting Attalus' palace rather than fighting the rebels.

    Aristonicus was influenced by Blossius who also had connections with the Gracchii brothers. The fact that these people were such fervent believers in his ideals and continued to resist Rome long after Aristonicus had been captured and killed showed how powerfully they felt about attaining their Heliopolis.

    The undignified way the Roman commander Manius Aquilius defeated the Sun Citizens left bad memories in Asia Minor and resulted in him being recalled by the Senate to face a tribunal for his actions. Content to loot Asia he had entire rebel cities poisoned rather than waste time with seiges. The Senate punished Aquilius for his ignoble actions and stripped him of command.

    Mithradates Eupator managed to use this latent anger decades after this incident in Asia and directed it at the Romans in Asia Minor. Some believe it was why he had such success in his early victories in the First Mithridatic War and the incredibly willing Hellenic population, taking part in the ensuing bloodbath of the Asian Vespers.

    The Sun Citzens had essentially an anti-Roman religion, built with the ideals of Good and Evil from Zoroastrianism blended with Hellenic ideals and the promise of a heaven on Earth if they worked towards it. Aristonicus had it as an imperative goal to throw the Romans out of Asia as they corrupted the lands with their greed, as he saw it.

    It would be interesting to see if this religion had survived and possibly grew a saviour cult around Aristonicus as a champion against Roman dominance or just injustices commited by elites in general.
    The idea of a sort of Champion of Light Greek style religion with vague connetations of monotheism is rather appealing to me.
     
  14. John Fredrick Parker Well-Known Member

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    Actually, absent the OTL Christian synthesis I could see Buddhism doing fairly well in Europe, spreading through the ashes of the Roman Empire...
     
  15. ImmortalImpi King of Ball

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    Hinduism could have done very well in southeast Asia and Indonesia had the Muslims not countered its development there.
     
  16. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    It'd be very cool to see a TL where Hinduism does better. Also would be awesome if Taoism did much better.
     
  17. Flocculencio Fabian Socialist

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    Umm...Hinduism DID do very well in South East Asia. Islam didn't "counter" its development, it replaced Hinduism.
     
  18. ImmortalImpi King of Ball

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    Didn't Hinduism have more influence in areas that became Buddhist later, or am I getting this horribly wrong?
     
  19. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    Yeah, IIRC Cambodia and southern Vietnam were once Hindu.
     
  20. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet"

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    All praise to the Zoas and Emanations!

    One day I'm going to do a TL where Robert Owen and Thomas Spence turn early socialism into a religious movement built around Blake's mythology.