Shortly past the middle of Mangasarian's "The Truth about Jesus" he deals with paganism and the Christian religion. Here is the into to that section:
CHRISTIANITY AND PAGANISM
Christianity as an Asiatic cult is not suitable to European races. To prove this, let us make a careful comparison between Paganism and Christianity. There are many foolish things, and many excellent things, in both the Pagan and the Christian religions. We are not concerned with particular beliefs and rites; it is Paganism as a philosophy of life, and Christianity as a philosophy of life, that we desire to investigate. And at the threshold of our investigation we must bear in mind that Paganism was born and grew into maturity in Europe, while Asia was the cradle of Christianity. It would be superfluous to undertake to prove that in politics, in government, in literature, in art, in science, in the general culture of the people, Europe was always in advance of Asia. Do we know of any good reason, when it comes to religion, why Asia should be incomparably superior to anything Europe has produced in that line? Unless we believe in miracles, the natural inference would be that a people who were better educated in every way than the Ascetics should have also possessed the better religion. I admit that this is only inferential, or a-priori reasoning, and that it still remains to be shown by the recital of facts, that Europe not only ought to have produced a better religion than Asia, but that she did.
I think that Mangasarian was speaking of Asia in the sense of western Asia meaning the eastern Mediterranean region and Europe as the northern Mediterranean region i.e, Greece and Italy (Rome). So I equated his discussion of Asian religion to include not only Christianity but also the other two Abrahamic faiths. If this is fair, then the comparison is one of Greek and Roman "mythology" to the "Asian" Abrahamic faiths.
His point is that the Asian faiths is one that is based on the acceptance of the worthlessness of the individual and slave mentality of the Asians compared to the independence and valuation of the individual in paganism.
Interesting stuff. Comments and discussion welcome. Here is the link to the entirety of the article:
Right; it must be kept in mind while reading this Mangasarian piece that it was written in 1908. (In case the casual reader is wondering when the Tsar came back into power in Russia—not that current events make that completely impossible.)
So, “European” refers to the Pagan religions, “Asian” refers to Judaism and its offshoots (at least for this particular discussion). I think he raises a very good point here (among many)—interesting, isn’t it, how democracy and science flourished in polytheistic societies, where the gods had to “compete” for man’s worship in much the same manner as politicians… and therefore gave the individual a strong sense of his self-worth and potential.
Whereas under monotheism, we had 1000 years-plus-change of dictatorship and oppression and scientific stagnation. (Which still threaten us today, as the “no way to the Father but through the Son” folks acquire more and more political power.)
When society is based on the notion that the individual is fallen and sinful, and furthermore cannot redeem himself by his own actions but only through the good graces of a higher power—this is antithetical to the notions of equality, personal achievement, democracy, innocent-until-proven-guilty, etc, that our modern society is built on. I think this is Mangasarian’s point.
Wot, don’t know if you got my message, but I emailed you about this very piece… what do you think about the basic topic in question—did Jesus exist at all? Amazing that this so rarely comes up; even Sam hasn’t questioned the historicity of Jesus. But I think MMM makes a pretty strong case against it.
Mangasarian’s comparision of paganism to Asian religion is certainly brief and is focused on the slave/worm mentality versus the independent thought and human valuation of the pagan. I wish he would have gone a few steps further in his comparison. If it is fair to evaluate belief systems based on the effects on the believers and the non-believers, then many important distinctions surface. Aside from the Asian religions plunging the world in the dark ages which is well understood, the following distinctions can be made.
Paganism, unlike the Asian faiths, did not lead to the concept of religious genocide. Although pagans did their fair share of killing, they never did so for the sake of religion. Paganism never demanded defeat of the infidel. Pagan exploits, such as the Norse and Romans were conquest motivated and based on economics. Why is this an important distinction? Pagan orientation could have never supported the killing for witchcraft. Voltaire estimated that 20 million were killed as witches at the hands of the Asians - mostly women. Nor could paganism have supported such event as the given in the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, any Holocaust, the Crusades, etc.
Paganism, as a polytheistic belief, had women as gods. This supports the concept of the equality and even superiority of women. In Norse mythology, the women are the source of wisdom and revelation and are depended upon by the male gods for this enlightenment. Norse women were the head of the household and were presented with a dagger as a symbol of their authority. Nothing is further from the core of pagan belief that the degration of women. The Abrahamic faiths on the other hand, all support the notion that women are inferior. Men are worms and women are a sub-worms. To this day, the Abrahamic faiths have placed women in the postion of trying to prove their equality - which the pagans understood perhaps tens of thousands of years ago. Interesting reading on this topic is the Voluspa - the story of enlighenment of the Norse gods by the Norse seeresses. Joseph Campbell, in his works on mythology is also outstanding reading on this topic.
The Arab world experienced its decline under the influence of Islam and theocracy. From of a world of great scientific thought and progress their entire society was reduced to worms indeed.
All the above begs the question of what our world society would be like today had not the Asian faiths conquered first Europe, then the Americas.
It is hard to imagine a world that would not be better for lack of the Asian faiths. The scientific progress lost? The enlightenment lost?
As for the existence of Jesus at all. It would seem that the lack of any recognition by the Hebrew historians makes a strong case against it. Not to say that the teachings of Jesus as written in the Gospels are not sound philosphies for conduct of life even though they may not be original ideas having been derived from Grrek and Egyptian mythology and thought. In the Thomas Jefferson rewrite of the bible which threw out all the letters and stripped out the mysticism, miracles and divinity, we have a good code for basic human value and behavior and as such, it has value. From the paper by Mangasarian and the work of Campbell it seems apparent that the virgin birth concept was borrowed from other faiths especially the Egyptians. Why else would the gospels dwell on the lineage of Jesus to David through Joseph, unless Jospeph was his biological father? Even the Christian scholars admit to much fraud and fabrication in the bible so how is one to separate fact from fiction? Little of it can withstand the test of reason.