The Rebirth of Paganism*
By Kelly OConnell
A virulent reborn paganism is sweeping the West and unless strongly challenged, could topple representative, constitutional government.
The reason for this is that the West’s historical foundation of rationalism, based upon Enlightenment and Reformation influenced policies is being roundly rejected. In the place of these are inserted policy based upon pseudo-science, socialist shame campaigns, anti-capitalist movements, driven by an utterly anti-Christian worldview. None of this bodes well for the globe’s safety, health and prosperity.
Is this another ill-informed “conspiracy theory” suggesting the world is being taken over by pagans? No, this argument is based upon known facts, and does not need a conspiracy to explain the elements. It’s argued the spirit of ancient paganism is reborn in the modern world, not literal ancient paganism. But this would suggest that ancient paganism did have its own logic. But there is no need for a conscious agreement between to make such a change because there is now a vast, cultural movement underway. This new paganism is ad hoc, picking and choosing whatever elements appear most appropriate.
But how is paganism defined? Websters says,
Heathen especially: a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome)
one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods: an irreligious or hedonistic person
Neo-Pagan: a person who practices a contemporary form of paganism (as Wicca)
Paganism defies the notion of divine revelation. Further, the pagan view is man-centered, even in the name of god. Again, paganism imbues the idea that human beings, by way of their actions, or non-action, will radically impact the cosmos.
I. Elements of Paganism
A. Pagan Worldview
Paganism is considered the belief system of the non-Jewish and non-Christian world. Classical paganism, the belief system of the ancient Greeks and Romans, showed a variety of elements. Humanism is the philosophy associated with this movement. Franz Cumont, in his classic study Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism, describes the “chaotic” nature of paganism in the ancient world. It was a chaotic world because so many different deities were honored, and rival systems proposed. While the Romans were tolerant of novel religions, if established elsewhere, they took offense at Christianity’s exclusive claims, and the refusal to accept other gods.
The ancients lived in a constant state of insecurity, never knowing where they stood with the gods. The chief policy of ancient Rome was Pax Deorum, or the Peace of the Gods, according to R. M. Ogilvie in The Romans and Their Gods in the Age of Augustus. This peace was precariously kept, but if the gods were upset with humans, they might reveal this through some monstra, or natural anomaly—like the birth of a 2-headed calf, or a natural disaster, such as an earthquake.
In such an instance, the Senate would gather and sanction the religious leaders to investigate the matter by doing divination. Such an investigation would be reported to the Senate who would then decide what to do with the information. Certain rites would be then ordered, the execution of which would theoretically heal the cosmic rift. This is because the religious system was based upon a contract between the people and the gods, according to James Jeffers in Greco-Roman World of the New Testament. For example, prayers followed the formula of mentioning the god’s powers, asking for some benefit, and then promising a sacrifice when the god fulfils his part.
Overall, pagan theology created a permanent sense of insecurity and anxiety in its votaries.
B. Elements of Roman Paganism
For instance, let’s examine a list of basic facts of one ancient pagan system, described in John Scheid’s An Introduction to Roman Religion. Scheid’s description includes these elements: First, there was no holy book or revelation in ancient Roman paganism, or dogma. Instead, focus was placed upon “orthopraxis,” being the correct performance of the prescribed rituals. Second, while the rituals were all set, the populace was free to believe whatever it chose regarding the gods. Belief and practice were therefore wholly separated.
Third, there was no initiation or teaching associated with the religion. For example, the idea of a “conversion experience,” as found in Christianity, would have made no sense in Roman religion. Instead, one’s religion was tied into their birth origin, occupation and social status. And in this sense, the religion was a group experience, not an individual faith.
Fourth, there was no moral code associated with Roman religion. Fifth, the religion was not organized to provide an afterlife. Sixth, ever public event had a religious element. So politics was involved in the process as well. Seventh, there was no single leader, or founder of the religion. Instead, the creation of the cult was tied to the foundation of Rome itself. Eighth, the religion was polytheistic. Ninth, the priesthoods had no expectation or duty to provide pastoral care to the laity.
According to Numa Denis Fustel De Coulanges, in his masterpiece The Ancient City, the Roman family had a continual duty to administer the sacred family rites of keeping a turf fire, and offering food for the deceased forebears. In this sense, the religion of Rome was open, public and family oriented.
The notion of a divine law—or a code that governs human actions, does not fit within pagan religious theory. In fact, the belief in prophets or apostles delivering biblical revelation would probably have been incomprehensible to an ancient Roman, or Greek. Instead, as Remi Brague described in The Law of God, The Philosophical History of an Idea, the theory and practice of ancient Greek divine law is indistinguishable from nature. So the ancient priests and their divination were designed to detect clues in the cosmos to understand the mind of the gods.
II. Modern Paganism
A. Paganism Reborn
There is no doubt there has been a return to pagan ideas in the modern Western world. First, the old block to paganism is Christianity, which is being increasingly scorned and rejected in public. Second, atheism is increasingly held up as a respectful alternative, in both pop culture, and private lives. For example, Pew Research reports 20% of Americans now identify as atheist, agnostic or are unaffiliated with any religion.
Third, a series of public policies moves upon the world stage, pushed by global actors, shows how deeply pagan presumptions have already been accepted in the West. (Modern Paganism is here not meant to be confused with the notion of neo-paganism, or modern Celtic, or Wiccan religion.)
B. Elements of Modern Paganism
The elements of modern paganism can be summed up as having the following aspects: A disengagement with the traditional God, a dismissal of the notion of Natural Law, an onus against Christianity in any public activity or statements, a belief in the primacy of human activity in controlling the natural world, the presumption that morality is only a private issue—or a non-topic, that karma is an active agent, that Political Correctness represents some important spiritual truths, that the universe is the result of naturalistic forces—coming into being without divine guidance, that humans and all life are the result of evolution.
The idea that the universe is guided by essentially natural laws which mankind can study, but not know the origin of is a pagan idea. For example, Richard A. Gard, in Buddhism, describes the concepts of non-violence, an eternal universe, that animals evolved, reincarnation, karma, and the theory that behind the religious system are laws of the universe which must be obeyed.
C. Example Modern Paganism: Global Warming
The belief in Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming (AGW) is a classic example of pagan thinking which has degenerated science into mere propaganda. First, the evidence for this phenomenon has come under increasing scrutiny the last few years. It now turns out there has been no warming for 20 years.
Second, the very notion that mankind can radically impact earth’s atmosphere so easily is a pagan notion where mankind’s influence is overstated. Third, the idea that the evil of AGW represents the moral failings of humans is a pagan theory. Fourth, the premise that the earth’s problems can be cured by stopping various activities, then adopting a humble attitude is utterly pagan in its illiterate superstition.
It has become increasingly clear that AGW is an elaborate con-artist job which plays out like a religious parable. The evil capitalists harm the earth, which then rebels in a cosmological act of karma, heating the erath until human numbskulls realize their sins and repent. In the meantime, global wealth is redistributed through carbon credits.
C. Comte & Mill’s Religion of Humanity
AGW brings up the modern religion which we can now compare to paganism. The French writer August Comte was troubled by traditional Christianity. So he proposed creating a new world where religion really would be set aside and the society then directed by representatives of his Positivist, or scientific, cult. This was picked up by John Stuart Mill, an early follower of Comte, according to Linda Raeder in John Stuart Mill and the Religion of Humanity. This book reveals how the devastating and counter-productive cult of scientism was launched in the West, and the irrational and even mentally deranged minds behind it. Yet it is a pagan theory that religion must be harnessed by the political establishment.
D. Eric Voegelin’s Deicide—Murder of God
It was Eric Voegelin’s great insight that much of what motivates modern mankind is a strong desire to kill the God of the Bible. According to Voegelin, in The New Science of Politics, the left is ultimately seeking it’s own Dux e Babylone ‚Äì the Duke of Babylon to act as an agent for the third age of man. Bible followers will detect the anti-Christ in the Duke’s words, ambitions and deeds. The progressive movement will see this man who augurs in the third age, the one of earthly paradise, as a secular messiah. His ancient pagan incarnation might be Julius Caesar, the would-be pagan world tyrant. A biblical model might be Nimrod, first emperor, and “hunter of men.”
A more modern pair are Lord Horatio Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte. Nelson believed he was not simply fighting the French military, but battling for God’s liberty against world domination, according to John Sugden in Nelson, The Sword of Albion. Napoleon wanted to restrict Christianity and subjugate the world under a stifling military, economic and religious system. In his excesses, Napoleon’s genocide presages Adolph Hitler. Nelson understood himself as fighting for the liberty of the world when he went to battle against the French.
III. Ten Problems New Paganism Creates
Insisting All Religions are the Same
The pagan idea that all religions are equally plausible and therefore must be equally addressed—unless they claim exclusivity, means that realistic defenses against violent religion cannot be organized.
Removing Divine Revelation from Human Ideas
The fact that Christianity is being driven out of public life in the West is having terrifying consequences. First, if there is no divine mandate, then the Ten Commandments cannot be true. But who decides the rules after this? Nietszche’s Will to Power, or the notion that truth equals the opinion of the strongest group, is becoming the standard. Again, when even such things as heterosexual marriage are being dismissed as irrelevant, can we be surprised when people begin demanding polygamy and bestiality be included as part of “holy matrimony”?
Demanding Cosmic Justice from Economics
The idea that capitalism is inherently evil and must be dismantled has been one of the most destructive, expensive and perniciously false theories in human history. The idea of socialism can said to be pagan in the sense that there was no absolute right to private property in the ancient world. The government could and would take what it needed from private citizens during crises.
Using Darwinism as a a Biological Standard
The Romans really had no theory of the origin of the universe, and neither do other pagans. The fact that modern Westerners are agnostic about life and its origins leads to such monstrosities as abortion and eugenics.
Removal of Natural Law Destroys Democracy
According to paganism, there is no law above the law because there can be no revelation from God. Therefore, a document like the Constitution, which presents Rights that the Declaration of Independence inform us are willed from God, would be impossible. Instead, you would have what we are dealing with today, a fading Constitution and interminable debates about how it needs to be changed.
The educational system under humanism becomes another prop in the political theater. Since the only goal for a pagan government is the retention of power, it is not unethical to withhold education on logic from students, predisposing them towards propaganda, because people have no natural rights.
As the ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras said, man is the Measure of All Things. But, if there is no reference to God in human behavior, who is to say that killing other humans is wrong?
Paganism is Emotionally Superficial
Just like in ancient Rome, only fame, power and money are valued.
Polygamy was the Standard in the Pagan World
Polygamy was the standard in the most primitive pagan societies, it now it seems to be coming to America.
Children are not Safe Under Paganism
In ancient Rome and Greece, children had short lifespans and were sometimes even abandoned or killed by their own families. Yet it was Jesus who said in Matthew 8:16—“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”