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Religions across the globe have their own distinctive rites and rituals, idols, traditions, and values. Each have in common a desire to explain something unexplainable by common wisdom, or attributing some aspect of life to some higher power. Many religions have at their heart etiological stories, which explain some sort of natural phenomenon through the physical manifestation of their deity or deities. From high winds and thunderstorms to love, fertility, and the sun, such religions focus on the physical world in this life. Other religions try to explain the 'next' life or the afterlife. These religions usually give a moral code to live by, with stricter adherence to this code offering a better afterlife.
So, aside from obvious differences in practice and ritual, not all religions even address the same issues. In the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, religion is officially defined as: 1 : the service and worship of God or the supernatural 2 : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance3 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Religions have in common three things, then: first, a supernatural being to worship; second, a commitment to this being; third, a set of rules to guide the follower through his or her devotion. Throughout the ancient world, there were many different peoples worshipping in many different ways, as there still is today. Many of these religions were polytheistic in nature, and were of the etiological type. Greco-Roman religion in particular was the basis for a rich culture, giving rise to an extremely artistic and creative period of time.
Greece had philosophers and playwrights such as Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, and Aeschylus. These men eloquently told of their gods, and provided ideas to strengthen the moral character of their culture. You might almost say they were the real prophets of the time. The Buddha guided other nations, Jesus still others. They were pioneers in their own time, and are still revered today. These men looked deep into the heart of the human spirit, and asked what it was to be human. Their insights have given meaning to many people's lives, and have been the basis for many beliefs held today.
These men and the cultures they came from have heavily influenced the fields of philosophy, art, theater, architecture, religion...war, and every individual practitioner of each. In some ancient Asian cultures, the beauty of nature was revered over everything, and this view became the basis of the Eastern lifestyle, creating beautiful gardens around their homes to celebrate their harmony with life. They, too, had their heavens and hells, deities and demi-gods.In short, each religion differs somewhat, but they all have similarities as well. Many stories in several classical religions share common themes or events. There are a great many similarities between stories of Babylonian, Greek, and Christian origin. An example of a shared event would be 'the flood' story.
Each of these religions tries to explain the reason of a severe flood, which historians have found actually occurred in their shared region. Christianity eventually replaced the 'old' religions, mostly by means of the spread of the Holy Roman Empire. There were many who opposed being converted, but after the remaining members of these religions realized that failure to convert meant you were a heretic, which meant death, the job of converting was much easier. Even then, some people did not want others telling them how to worship. They had their rituals and customs-they didn't want new ones. This sentiment was conveyed to the leaders of the Roman Churches, who 'bent' their rules and procedures to fit these pagan rites and rituals.
A good way to convert someone is to make him or her feel like it's the same religion. This is how Christianity has become riddled with elements of 'Paganism.'The purpose of this paper is to highlight major aspects of Christianity that have been 'borrowed' from other religions in order to show that Christianity is myth just like all of the other 'false' religions. Perfect examples of this are the dates of Christian holidays, most notably Christmas--December 25th. This date is widely used as the birthday of some religious figure in many different cultures for many different people. In India, people decorate their houses and give presents to their friends. Like Christ, Buddha is believed to have been born on this day. Also like Christ, a virgin mother supposedly birthed him. Mithras, god of the Persians, is also believed to have been born on the 25th of December, long before the coming of Jesus.
The Egyptians celebrated this day as the birthday of Horus, their great savior. Another Egyptian god, Osiris, god of the underworld (again, the son of 'the holy virgin,') shared this birthday as well. The Chinese shut down most commercial business and had great feasts on this day. In Greece, December 25th is the birthday of Adonis*, Bacchus, and Hercules. The Scandinavians celebrated the 25th of December as the birthday of their god Freyr.*An interesting side note I found while researching this, I found that ceremonies of Adonis' birthday were recorded to have taken place in the same cave in Bethlehem that is claimed to have been the birthplace of Jesus.. The Romans observed this day as the birthday of the god of the sun, 'Natalis Solis Invicti' ('Birthday of Sol the invincible'). On this day, they closed all the shops and had huge parties.
There were public games. Presents were exchanged. They even allowed their slaves to go and celebrate on this day (how holy of them). Many emperors were elevated to the level of a God in Rome; this was the god they were supposed to be an incarnation of. Early Celtic rituals had their sun god born on the 25th as well. The Winter Solstice was the day of the longest night.
After this, there was a 'rebirth' and the God is born. At the vernal equinox, days and nights are the same length. This was supposedly the standoff between this sun god and the prince of darkness. Christianity conveniently adopted this holiday as well, turning it into what is known today as Easter. The sun god wins the standoff, and the days eventually grow longer and longer.Ultimately, scholars believe all of these rites share a common background in the Germanic observance of the winter solstice. The Christmas tree gains its origins here. It was believed by pre-Christian pagans to have special powers of protection against the forces of nature and evil spirits because it keeps its green needles throughout the winter months.
The Christmas tree is 'derived from the paradise tree, symbolizing Eden, of German mystery plays' (Abdullah 3). Another popular holiday is Halloween. Variously called 'All Hallows Eve' or 'All Saint's Day' by Christians, Halloween has its roots deep in pagan ritual. Druids, priests of Celtic myth, believed people needed to be cleansed after they died. ''The souls of the departed were transferred by magic to the bodies of animals. During the night of October 31, the enchanted souls were freed by the Druid god, Samhain [the god of the dead], and taken together into the Druid heaven. This festival was always accompanied by animal and sometimes human sacrifices and linked with all kinds of magic' (Occult ABC, Kurt Koch, p.
87).' (Gordon 1).The Holy Cross is considered by many to be an irrefutable sign of Christianity, particularly Catholicism. In fact, however, even this sacred icon was borrowed from pagan ritual. It served as the symbol for the Hindu god, Agni. Hindu gods such as Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna, Tvashtri, and Jama, also sometimes appear with this holy symbol in paintings, drawings, and weavings. Buddhists and religious sects in Tibet also recognize the sign of the cross as holy. During Christ's time, the cross was associated with being cursed by God. Crucifixions apparently didn't endear the sign of a cross to many people. Christ's symbol was actually that of a fish! This possibly arose due to the fact that part of the Holy Meal consisted of fish.
Our modern-day cross is derived from the Egyptian 'Crux Ansata,' with the original Crux-Ansata design denoting peace. Different cultures used the cross to signify different things. In Egypt, Osiris held out the cross to the newly dead signifying their end of mortality in exchange for the next life. The Persian Mithra cult was comprised of members who held their own religious crosses, each depicting a crucified hero on them. The Holy Roman Church is known today as the Catholic Church. Catholicism is extremely widespread across the Western World. As a child, I remember my Cousins giving the sign of the 'Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,' the Holy Trinity at meals.
Again, the Holy trinity was not an original idea coming from the Christians. The Sword In Hand organization gives the historical account as follows: 'AD 325 - In response to the Arian heresy, which denied the deity of Christ and claimed the Holy Spirit was begotten of Christ, the First Ecumenical Council met at Nicea and formulated the Nicean Creed.' Here then is the Nicean Creed:'Whoever will be saved shall, above all else, hold the catholic faith. Which faith, except everyone keeps whole and undefiled, without doubt he will perish eternally. And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in three Persons and three Persons in one God, neither conf ....
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