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Interview for “Letters & Politics” on The Triumph of Christianity

Here is an interview I did on my book The Triumph of Christianity, back on December 25th, 2018, with host Mitch Jeserich.  The program was called “Letters & Politics,” for FM 94.1 KPFA. The theme of my book, as you know, is how the Christians took over the religions of the Roman Empire to become the dominant religion of the west.  Mitch wanted to know about that.  Many years ago, when I started thinking about my book, so did I!

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God’s Library Part 1: Finding Ancient Christian Manuscripts in Egypt. Guest Post by Brent Nongbri
Judging the Debate!

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  1. Avatar
    brenmcg  May 29, 2019

    How much do you put the spread of Christianity down to it simply being more believable than the roman pantheon of gods?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 31, 2019

      About zero, actually! Most people didn’t find it more believable at all, as odd as that seems to people today who think it’s far more believable (and obvious) (it wasn’t obvious in the least though…)

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      • Rick
        Rick  May 31, 2019

        Along that line I was wondering about the “modern” presumption that monotheism is somehow a more civilized development than polytheism … aside from being self serving in the so called Christian West is there any decent logic behind it?

        • Bart
          Bart  June 2, 2019

          Only to monotheists! (Who find the logic impeccable) (As polytheists think the logic is impeccable for their view)

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          • Avatar
            brenmcg  June 2, 2019

            I dont think there’s any attempt to logically derive polytheism from monotheism.

            The monotheist logic is that in a pantheon of gods none of them can be all powerful – they all must be subject to an unknown power or the unknown god of acts 17.

            The logic must have been convincing to some polytheists. Even Hinduism has the concept of an eternal Absolute which all the other gods are simply manifestations of.

            A general tendency away from polytheism and towards monotheism in the history of religious belief seems to be a pretty clear observation.

            Couple that with the dramatic narrative of christianity, together with its powerful symbolism, and the “believability” of christianity should be seen as a large part of the reason for its triumph over the other roman religions.

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    Stephen  May 30, 2019

    You note the ambiguities involved in the accounts of Constantine’s conversion. Can’t we reasonably extrapolate that Paul’s conversion might have been equally non-straightforward? Perhaps Paul had some kind of overwhelming “visionary” experience that he only later after some reflection came to believe was a appearance of the resurrected Jesus?

  3. Avatar
    RICHWEN90  June 8, 2019

    Actually, you could have a universe emerging from some quantum fluctuation, or you could have something like a Roger Penrose eternal cyclic universe, with no beginning or end, and within that pretty much materialistic universe you could have a hierarchy of beings based purely on matter and energy as we know it. There’s your “pagan” pantheon. And it is entirely naturalistic. And it would not follow that any one of these categories of sentient creatures would be superior to any other. They are just different. So much for monotheism. So much for the supreme being thing.

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