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>>very far from what I consider to be the core of Siddharta GautamaWell I am quite familiar with how far from the Buddha's teaching most of what is called Buddhism is, but the same is true for Islam or Christianity, all religions undergo this process whereby the core teaching is gradually distorted. But my reason for singling out Christianity over others is simply that western society came to dominate the global culture, and particular global attitudes on science and technology, which were then adopted or forced on the rest of the world through globalism/colonialism. Yes, you could go one step deeper and say that this subversion is really at fault rather than any one particular case where the subversion happened, but I'm trying to point out what I see as the weakest link in the chain. There are several critically weak links, for sure.
>> they believed in animismThis is inaccurate, on what do you base this? Animism was practiced, sure, but it was by no means the universal condition of polytheistic paganism. Animism was a more dominant characteristic in the archaic, prehistorical religions, but we have an understanding of how those beliefs had transformed into classical polytheism by about 6000 years ago (incidentally largely coinciding with agriculture, like most things.)
>> not like everyone was living in peace and happiness even then. After all, the progress from their times leads to our timesOf course, there is going to be conflict. Nothing is ever peace and harmony. We have science now, and still have conflict. My point wasn't that they might have had peace, it was that they might have had science. And they were closer to it than people were for almost a thousand years after, and specific things happened to change that. I think that's a fact worth noting, don't you?
>> Mind you that jews did not invent monotheism, there was already a "war between gods" in the times of GilgameshAlmost all polytheisms feature conflict of some kind between the gods. The Sumerians were polytheists. Are you saying polytheists are basically monotheists? (The first monotheist, as far as we know, was of course the Egyptian Ankhenaten.)
>>if Yahweh had vanished some other god would have taken overBut why did it have to be one god? In the roman conflicts over the ascendancy of different cults, they never got to the point of completely eradicating the believers of one god or another. It was that attitude of 'only one god, all else must be destroyed' that upended the delicate balance that was fostering the proto-science of ancient pagan magic.
>> some cults were ready to team up with jews to purge the competing cultsWhen? Sources. As far as I know, nothing like this ever happened. The closest it came before Christianity was in the case of Mithraism and perhaps the cult of Sol Invictus, which were proto-Christianity and a pagan response to Christianity alternatively. And again, the level of violence was nothing compared to what came later.
What causes dark ages is a loss of knowledge and an environment where gaining knowledge and learning are held in hostility. The pagans did not have this attitude, the monotheists (not even all of them, but particular subsets of them) did have this attitude, forced it on a part of the world, which went on to introduce that influence to the rest of the world. This is a meaningful thing, and sure, it is a subset of cosmically bigger forces, but if we can't call a part of a problem a problem, then we can't do anything.
Yes, another god could have taken Yahweh's place, and probably would have, but we're not talking counterfactuals, but history. What did happen is that Yahweh's followers did this and continue to be one of the most significant things holding back this progress. That's worth calling out.