Here, I try to talk about the world before the arrival and domination of Christianity, and Abrahamic belief systems, and if it was better off without them. From what I hear it’s a difficult subject to cover, but I’ll try my best.
The ancients believed we are a part of nature, but they also thought of it as a force. They loved and feared this force, and appeased it when they felt necessary. Just about every god they worshiped was apparently seen as an aspect of this force. You could pretty much worship any god you wanted out of all of them (though in Rome it was a requirement to worship the emperor). They also revered the seasons, and the cycles of those seasons, which they recognized as important to their daily lives, and many deities would represent the cycle of the seasons, as well as that of life, death, and rebirth.
They held many festivals to celebrate various seasons, such as the precursors of Christmas and Easter, and many of these festivals were dedicated such things as fertility. And there was much joy, ecstasy, and indulgence in these festivals. Clearly the pagans, or pre-Christian polytheists, celebrated life, the forces of nature, and the fertility that moves the things in nature, they held the fertility of everything (humans, animals, the land, and nature itself) in high regard. On a related note, sexuality was seen as nothing as to be feared. It was also respected and celebrated. They had gods for sex and love, as well as childbirth and motherhood, which were things that followed the tender act of physical and emotional love and embrace. They had many revered symbols of sexuality, such as horns (which also symbolized power and strength, which was also respected by the pagans), the serpent, and the hexagram, which is symbolic of the union of the male and female. They certainly didn’t practice self-denial.
Then came the rise of monotheism, particularly Christianity (probably the most evil religion out there). After the supposed divine revelation of the emperor Constantine and the councils of Nicaea, Christianity turned from from a small offshoot of Judaism into the official state religion of the Roman empire. Following the religion was made mandatory, and through the network of the empire the religion was able to spread far and wide and influence much of the world. The Christian religion had none of the respect for nature, life, or sexuality that the pagan world did. In fact, the Bible taught them that God granted man dominion over the natural world and the animals. They were taught that the world and mankind were sinful by nature, thanks to something called Original Sin, and that by rejecting the world in favour of some perfect heaven and worshiping “God”, they would be “saved”. They were taught that sexuality is evil, or at least sex outside marriage was, but they definitely hated the idea of sexual liberty and following your instincts, thus virginity and purity were seen as good. Because of this, we are indoctrinated to fear what is essentially natural and human as evil.
And on top of that, if you didn’t believe whatever you were told, you were warned that you would burn forever in a realm of torture by decree of the same “God” who made you who you are and supposedly loves you. The end result can be summed up as the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the corruption of Hinduism, the bastardizing of society, evangelists, and Jack Chick comics, among other terrible plagues to befall mankind.
Keep in mind, I seem to be idealizing the pre-Christian pagan world quite a bit. I know they’re weren’t perfect as a society, and they weren’t that socially free compared to modern times, but it’s my opinion that they might certainly have been freer by any degree than Christian society. Remember, in the pagan world, you could worship just about any god you wanted in most cases and morality wasn’t so repressive, whereas in the Christian world, you could only worship one God, and if you didn’t you’d be in big trouble, and sexuality was repressed for the sake of a fucked up morality. Besides, this is not about society, it’s about religion. And yes, they did take natural resources to build their civilizations, but they still had respect and tried to give back, albeit in their own way.
So was the pre-Christian world better than the Christian world? In my opinion, yes, it was. And it’s not dead either. You would think the serpent of the pagan world was long since extinguished by Christianity, but if you look closely, you would realize that it hasn’t. Seems Christianity could never completely tame it. It’s in our traditions and celebrations (like I previously mentioned about Christmas and Easter), it’s part of the reason we don’t truly own up to our own Abrahamic values, we know they’re repressive, it’s part of our respect for nature, and its part of our joy for life. The serpent of the pagan world is still alive, albeit chained. Or is it really chained?