Christianity vs Ancient culture: who contributed more to the Western Civilization?

Oct 2017
25
Mordor
#1
I live in an ultra-Christian country and i hear many people say that European culture is based on Christianity and that even atheists should respect the "Christian heritage of Western Civilization". Is it true or false? I believe that whilst Christianity played an important role it was ancient Greece and Rome that truly shaped us:
1. Romans and Greeks developed philosopical trends like stoicism or epicureism, Christianity only took them and used to its profit. Well, epicureism was forbidden in Middle Ages becasue it was seen as ungodly...
2. All our architecture from Anqtiquity through Middle Ages to modern day is based on Roman and Greek conceptions. Christian temples may be suited for Christian tastes, but they are influenced by Pagan shrines.
3. History of European science began in Antiquity.
Besides, while nations conquered by Romans sooner or later adapted Latin culture (except for the East which was Hellenic), while after 1500 years Christianity still has not entirely asimilated any nation and many Pagan rituals are celebrated until today, only covered by Christian ideology. What do you think?
 
Jun 2017
2,372
Connecticut
#2
Christianity has contributed much to Western history because for well over a millennium it was the dominant religion in the west and religious institutions and religious movements had a great impact on events. That being said this was exclusive nor inherent, just because Christianity had an impact on events doesn't mean it always had or it always will, it's impact was merely a consequence of it being the dominant religion. Similar to the various pantheons of Polytheism prior to the rise of Christianity.

In terms of tradition for traditions sake, it is important to recognize that Christianity/types of Christianity gave certain regions their identity for centuries. For example I have friends who do not believe in god who identify as Catholic as their ancestors homeland was Catholic and to distinguish themselves from other similar groups whose ancestors are Orthodox etc.

In terms of Western history being based on Christianity, it is important to recognize that the period of Christian dominance in the West was largely negative compared to the period of Polythistic domination. The Roman era was looked back fondly for well over a millennia and Roman titles and regalia were commonly used by successful European monarchs to try and place themselves as the successors to Rome. The West didn't start to truly dominate until the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions and while it can be argued Christianity's hindrance of these have been overstated(after all Church or no Church the fall of the Western Roman Empire and antiquity in general = certainly contributed to the lack of progress)hurt progress as well
), they certainly weren't contributing factors that hastened them along.

Of course you make a great point about Christianity never being fully assimilated and being reliant on parts of other religions. The devil was swiped from Zoroastrianism, the whole idea of a virgin birth was used multiple times prior, various holidays like Christmas were molded around existing religious traditions rather than the birth of their deity(which we have no evidence was on December 25th)in the interest of pragmatism, Christianity stole a lot(that being said earlier religious traditions had done the same so I'm not saying they're unique or anything in that regard).

At the end of the day, Christianity is the belief in a certain deity and origin story. It has no doubt had an impact on Western History, both positive and negative(I'd argue much more negative than positive but I'm not going to draw an absolute brush) and on Western culture. However, turning away from that origin story due to modern realities does not have to mean turning away from any of the traditions or history a people values, no more than turning away from other obsolete institutions. An example is monarchy, we know monarch's don't have divine powers granted from god but at the same time most of many European nation's were molded into what they are today by monarchs. They are still part of a history and tradition that various people's can be proud of (and some countries go as far to keep symbolic constitutional monarchy's( while not having a desire to be ruled by an actual monarch with actual power.
 

M9Powell

Ad Honorem
Oct 2014
4,250
appalacian Mtns
#3
I think Christianity gives us a sort of moral code for western civilization that the Romans lacked. But as far as science goes Christianity inhibits it rather than helps its progress.
 
Dec 2011
1,280
Belgium
#4
Christianity has contributed much to Western history because for well over a millennium it was the dominant religion in the west and religious institutions and religious movements had a great impact on events. That being said this was exclusive nor inherent, just because Christianity had an impact on events doesn't mean it always had or it always will, it's impact was merely a consequence of it being the dominant religion. Similar to the various pantheons of Polytheism prior to the rise of Christianity.

In terms of tradition for traditions sake, it is important to recognize that Christianity/types of Christianity gave certain regions their identity for centuries. For example I have friends who do not believe in god who identify as Catholic as their ancestors homeland was Catholic and to distinguish themselves from other similar groups whose ancestors are Orthodox etc.

In terms of Western history being based on Christianity, it is important to recognize that the period of Christian dominance in the West was largely negative compared to the period of Polythistic domination. The Roman era was looked back fondly for well over a millennia and Roman titles and regalia were commonly used by successful European monarchs to try and place themselves as the successors to Rome. The West didn't start to truly dominate until the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions and while it can be argued Christianity's hindrance of these have been overstated(after all Church or no Church the fall of the Western Roman Empire and antiquity in general = certainly contributed to the lack of progress)hurt progress as well
), they certainly weren't contributing factors that hastened them along.

Of course you make a great point about Christianity never being fully assimilated and being reliant on parts of other religions. The devil was swiped from Zoroastrianism, the whole idea of a virgin birth was used multiple times prior, various holidays like Christmas were molded around existing religious traditions rather than the birth of their deity(which we have no evidence was on December 25th)in the interest of pragmatism, Christianity stole a lot(that being said earlier religious traditions had done the same so I'm not saying they're unique or anything in that regard).

At the end of the day, Christianity is the belief in a certain deity and origin story. It has no doubt had an impact on Western History, both positive and negative(I'd argue much more negative than positive but I'm not going to draw an absolute brush) and on Western culture. However, turning away from that origin story due to modern realities does not have to mean turning away from any of the traditions or history a people values, no more than turning away from other obsolete institutions. An example is monarchy, we know monarch's don't have divine powers granted from god but at the same time most of many European nation's were molded into what they are today by monarchs. They are still part of a history and tradition that various people's can be proud of (and some countries go as far to keep symbolic constitutional monarchy's( while not having a desire to be ruled by an actual monarch with actual power.
Emperor of the Bavarians,

I thought to reply in the same manner as you, but you have said it that much better and more elaborated. I thank you for that.

Kind regards, Paul.
 
Jun 2017
2,372
Connecticut
#5
I think Christianity gives us a sort of moral code for western civilization that the Romans lacked. But as far as science goes Christianity inhibits it rather than helps its progress.
I understand your reasoning as far as religion goes, Polytheistic Religion did lack morality but I feel that was a result of the religion being centered more on explaining the various forces of nature in deified form than dictating morality. I do know that a common school of thought in the Atheist community is that much of the Christian moral code are either things that should be obvious regardless of religion(especially the latter part of the ten commandments) are are things that have nothing do with religion(earlier part of the ten commandments). While the new testament does have some really positive moral stuff at the end of the day, In my experience many if not the majority of Christians don't follow those teachings in real life and if they do are not following them because they think it's the right thing to do but because it's what they need to do to achieve eternal salvation which I consider to be the main appeal of religions rather than their positive moralistic aspects. Test I have for whether or not I respect a Christian is, "let's say you knew Jesus wasn't god, would you still follow his teachings, or are you following his teachings because he's giving you a path towards eternal salvation"? I just don't think Christianity is necessary to hold most "Christian values"(and then there's some I don't think should be held and can be used by those in power to get the lower classes to accept their stations in life). Does Christianity have a leg up morality wise on the Polytheistic religions? Yeah it does, but I'd argue Zoroastrianism and Islam do as well and Monotheistic religions appear to be trying to do different things(more so about explaining morality and life after death rather than just explaining the world around them and creation) than their predecessors.
 
Last edited:
Dec 2011
1,280
Belgium
#6
I live in an ultra-Christian country and i hear many people say that European culture is based on Christianity and that even atheists should respect the "Christian heritage of Western Civilization". Is it true or false? I believe that whilst Christianity played an important role it was ancient Greece and Rome that truly shaped us:
1. Romans and Greeks developed philosopical trends like stoicism or epicureism, Christianity only took them and used to its profit. Well, epicureism was forbidden in Middle Ages becasue it was seen as ungodly...
2. All our architecture from Anqtiquity through Middle Ages to modern day is based on Roman and Greek conceptions. Christian temples may be suited for Christian tastes, but they are influenced by Pagan shrines.
3. History of European science began in Antiquity.
Besides, while nations conquered by Romans sooner or later adapted Latin culture (except for the East which was Hellenic), while after 1500 years Christianity still has not entirely asimilated any nation and many Pagan rituals are celebrated until today, only covered by Christian ideology. What do you think?
Copernicus,

for your message I refer to the excellent reply of Emperor of the Bavarians.
And I agree, Poland is still an ultra-Christian country a bit as in the 19th century. But who am I to Judge, only a sixty years ago it was the same here in Belgium, especially in the North. Lucky that it was already tempered from the 19th century on by the Liberals and from the last half of the century by the Socialists. And yes it is handsome for the government to use the voters of that belief for their own intentions.
In Russia they have learned that thruth too as I mentioned on a small English language forum
"Meles meles I mentioned in my former message:
"As an aside: I read in the paper that in nowadays Russia there is more and more cooperation between Church and State and a beautiful girl (under the umbrella of the Putin Government) seems to be the coordinatrice."
Did some research to find on the internet what I mentioned and didn't immediately find the girl...
But the article I remember was about the new "moral and ethic" attitudes in Russia and the link between Putin and the ROC (the Russian Orthodox Church)
And it all seems frightening...
In the time on the old Beeb I have already warned for the weird combination of nationalism, religion and language...and here seems to be added the exeptionalism (the uniqueness) of the Russian "culture"...frightening...
https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulco...and-the-russian-orthodox-church/#3311715c27d5
About Russia's Iron Ladies:
https://www.theguardian.com/comment...ies-russias-iron-ladies-useful-anti-feminists
And with the "twenty Russian Women who matter" I found my lady:
https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/twenty-russian-women-who-matter-57360
Natalia Poklonskaya
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natalia_Poklonskaya"

(on my screen the youtube don't appear, but if you put it in your favourites you will see it)
"Putin a more effective Tsar than the former ones? In fact I have the impression that the impregnation of the population is more subtle than with the Tsars?
Natalia Poklonskaya, because of her celebrity used in the semi-official RT (the equivalent of the Chinese CCTV)?
And yes the combination with a long ago established Church seems more productive than for instance the Nazis with their obscure new ideology, in which many people didn't recognize themselves? In my humble opinion...
Clever Putin I would say...

PS to return to your message about the architecture:
"2. All our architecture from Anqtiquity through Middle Ages to modern day is based on Roman and Greek conceptions. Christian temples may be suited for Christian tastes, but they are influenced by Pagan shrines."

The mediëval cathedrals were an invention of the middle ages, by the craftsman but inspired by the religion.
I have my notes not with me, but I had an in depth discussion on a French forum if the "crossed vault?" was supporting the vault or only as ornament or both? Also the invention of the pointed arch instead of the Roman half a circle...

Kind regards, Paul.
 
Oct 2017
135
Laconia
#7
I live in an ultra-Christian country and i hear many people say that European culture is based on Christianity and that even atheists should respect the "Christian heritage of Western Civilization".
If European culture is really based on Christianity, it is because Christianity destroyed native cultures; respect for Polish Rodnovery and ethnic polytheism.

I believe that whilst Christianity played an important role it was ancient Greece and Rome that truly shaped us:
1. Romans and Greeks developed philosopical trends like stoicism or epicureism, Christianity only took them and used to its profit. Well, epicureism was forbidden in Middle Ages becasue it was seen as ungodly...
2. All our architecture from Anqtiquity through Middle Ages to modern day is based on Roman and Greek conceptions. Christian temples may be suited for Christian tastes, but they are influenced by Pagan shrines.
3. History of European science began in Antiquity.
Besides, while nations conquered by Romans sooner or later adapted Latin culture (except for the East which was Hellenic), while after 1500 years Christianity still has not entirely asimilated any nation and many Pagan rituals are celebrated until today, only covered by Christian ideology. What do you think?
This is a matter of quality and quantity: The Christians only spread, increased, and diversified all the ideas and systems that had already came before.
 
Oct 2011
7,631
MARE PACIFICVM
#9
It's a complicated question, because Christianity itself, at least in its most common forms, is a Greco-Roman institution. The New Testament was written in Greek and spread by Hellenized Jews, Greeks, and eventually Romans, whose Emperors made sure that the Church in its approved form was compatible with Roman society.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
4,971
US
#10
The Ancients offered much in the area of philosophy, science and law. Christianity kept what was Greco-Roman alive, for the most part, and offered a moral code that is hard to separate from most western civilizations. In the process, Christian philosophers like Augustine, Aquinas, Bacon and others offered a great deal to western society as well.
 

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