Monotheism in Europe = Inevitable?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by TheOpossum, May 12, 2019.

?

Is monotheism inevitable in Europe?

  1. Yes

    11 vote(s)
    7.9%
  2. No

    129 vote(s)
    92.1%
  1. TheOpossum Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2019
    Is monotheism inevitable in Europe? I made a thread about a pagan Europe and some responses included that if Christianity didn’t exist, another monotheistic mystery cult will eventually take over. How likely is this? Is there a chance polytheism could remain?
     
    Višeslav likes this.
  2. Analytical Engine Monarchist Collectivist Federalist

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    UK, EU (for the moment), Earth
    Nothing is inevitable until it actually happens </s>

    Seriously, though, the answer is "maybe"...
     
  3. DocJamore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2015
    Location:
    United States
    Monotheism in Eruope isn't any more inevitable than it was in China.
     
  4. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD, USA
    No.
     
  5. Dingus Khan Emperor of Nowhere

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2017
    Location:
    California
    Hindu-Buddhist Asia got by without most of its population converting to Islam or Christianity, up to the present day. Monotheism is hardly inevitable; it's not hard to imagine a world in which the ancient Hebrews never stopped worshipping more than one god.
     
  6. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Maybe it was after 300 AD, but before then...
     
    kholieken and TheOpossum like this.
  7. Višeslav Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2018
    Monotheism, assuming rome goes roughly down the same route as OTL is inevitable in (roman) Europe by the late roman period. It is not inevitable anywhere if you change things early enough, and there is no guarantee that monotheistic religions would spread into northern Europe. It was the missionary nature of Christianity that made it spread so much. If another monotheistic mystery cult took over the roman empire, it could be less into spreading (Judaism (IK it's not a mystery cult, but it is monotheistic), Mithraism, and to some extend Zoroastrianism were not really expansionist from what I know. If you convert, you convert, but there wasn't much of this spreading by any means necessary stuff). Without Christianity, there's no religion that is so obsessed with growth, so northern and eastern Europe can go in all sorts of directions. If you anyone says "if Christianity didn't spread, Islam would" they're hella wrong. Christianity's influence on islam is unmistakable. Even if in such a scenario Islam did exist, it would likely also be less expansionist (this last bit wasn't so much for the OP as for people thinking of responding, though I assume they would also at least this much about major religions if they're replying to this thread)

    [edit: Some kind of dualism is also a possibility, so I guess Monotheism is never inevitable]
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  8. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2017
    Location:
    Sarajevo
    Not necessarily monotheistic. Any organized religion will wipe the floor with paganism.
     
    Joao97 and Višeslav like this.
  9. Kaze Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2017
    Then tell that to India, China, and Japan. They have many gods, but also organization as well. It is possible for the Roman Empire to go the route of the Japanese Shinto system where the Mikado is also the chief miko / shamen - and a claim of descent from the divine much like Julius Caesar claimed descent from the Goddess Venus and Jupiter.
     
    BigDestiny, Gladsome, Rath and 6 others like this.
  10. Lalli Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    I don't see monotheism in Europe being inevitable. India too didn't ever go as monotheist despite some attempts. So without Christianity Europe probably would remain polytheist. Mystery cults were quiet exclusive and not as attractive as Christianity.
     
    Gladsome and TheOpossum like this.
  11. trurle bored blue collar worker

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2013
    Location:
    Kyoto
    This is quite common misconception of depicting Japan and China as a surviving polytheist states. This is largely incorrect.
    Both are in historical times primarily a Buddhist - which is northeistic religion (i.e. religion which do not explicitly declare existence of any gods). Popularly perceived as "Buddhas gods" are rather closer to definition of Christian saints rather than any gods in polytheistic tradition.
    Polytheist Shinto is actually should be grouped not with the ancient polytheist religions, but with the New Age religions like B`hai, LDS church or neo-paganism because Shinto was completely new religion invented in 19th century on the wave of nationalist and anti-Buddhist popular sentiments, just reusing some of allegedly Old Shinto practices been extinct for about thousand years.

    Historically, polytheistic systems had difficulty competing with both monotheistic and northeistic religions, simply because too many would-be followers gave up tracing intricate connections between different gods. The monotheistic and northeistic religions had quite small difference in learning difficulty for most believers, and therefore these 2 types religion types (as opposed to 3rd type of polytheistic religion) do inevitably dominate majority of world religion followers is soon as suitable communication means for proselytising (i.e. written books) are available.

    The line between religion types is blurred though. For example, Christian tradition do include all three types - polytheistic (Arianism), monotheistic (Trinitarian) and northeistic (Deism), which come to prominence in in different periods.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  12. Frrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Also, mystery cults don't seem to have had any actual conflict with Greco-Roman polytheism, as evidenced by the fact that their members seemed to happily practice both.
     
    piratedude likes this.
  13. Frrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Umm, source on Shinto being extinct for 1000 years? Everything I've read suggests that while it was (and still is) syncretised with Buddhism and had some administrative changes during the Meiji Reformation, it by no means died out, hence why many shrines have been in continuous use for centuries.
     
  14. darthfanta Offline

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2015
    Historically in China, people often simultaneously believed in both Buddhism and other religions like Taoism or more often ancestral worship. It was never a primarily Buddhist country.
     
  15. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2018
    I hold opinion that even as late as Julian The Apostate, Christianity influence is still reversible, but that means organizing Pagan Philosophy while maintaining force enough to ward off Christians from destroying the legacy of Greco-Romans.

    Now, in the scenario of some highly influential Philosophers writing about how Monotheism would be the ultimate scam, on how claiming only one God exist is even more false than claiming no God exist...
     
  16. trurle bored blue collar worker

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2013
    Location:
    Kyoto
    Nature of Shinto is subject to discussion nicely summarised here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinbutsu-shūgō#Debate_over_the_nature_of_Shinto

    I.m.h.o., Kuroda`s arguments (Shinto as a New Age religion) have more solid proof compared to theories postulating continuous existence of Shinto practices. In particular, i should point out on absence of records of religion wars involving Shinto in Nara-Tokugawa periods
     
  17. Frrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Why would there be religious wars? The exclusivity of Abrahamic religions is actually fairly unusual. Most religious systems are quite happy to syncretise and coexist. Even monitheistic Zoroastrianism can pretty easily coexist with other faiths on the basis that all faiths lead to Ahura Mazda, if less directly than Zoroastrianism. Buddhism has and had no conflict with Shinto, just as Confucianism had and has no conflict with it. Most religions are more a bundle of practices and traditions than an exclusive, proselytising credo, and as such can be easily blended with various philosophies.
     
  18. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2014
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD, USA
    Shinto was not invented in the 19th century it was formally organized.
     
  19. trurle bored blue collar worker

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2013
    Location:
    Kyoto
    That convoluted line of thought of yours can actually explain anything.

    I prefer simple explanation complying to Occam`s razor. Old Shinto is known to be involved in religion wars and had a footprint in legal codes during Asuka period. After Taiho code (and start of Nara period), there is no proof of Shinto having any military or legal impact, likely marking its extinction as organized religion.

    We are talking here about organized religions, right? No need to consider every local folk`s tale. I myself invent fairy tales every night for my children, but these tales are not the religion.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  20. Frrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Back to the actual topic, European polytheisms could have survived even after Christianity was adopted by the Roman Empire. The Saxons had to be converted by the sword, and it seems that it was pretty hard to make it stick. Get rid of Charlemagne and direct Frankish attention southwards, perhaps by butterflying Islam and thus maintaining the idea of the Mediterranean as a unified cultural area rather than a Europe/Africa/Asia dichotomy (trichotomy?), and Saxon paganism might survive long enough to formalise and organise. Baltic paganism appeared to be organising in the middle ages, with Teutonic Order writers referring to a high priest respected by all the Balts. Vladimir the Great in Kiev made some attempt to organise Slavic paganism efore he converted to Christianity. If he stuck to it he might have succeded in creating a lasting religion. So yeah, I don't think monotheism was in any way inevitable in Europe, nor that it holds any special appeal that would make it always triumph over polytheism.
     
    Ogrebear, Gladsome, Kaze and 2 others like this.