Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Price of Monotheism in a nutshell

There are two kinds of religion. First there are those "primary" religions that spontaneously arise as a natural expression of the intrinsic spiritual urges of homo religiosus. These religions are polytheistic, tolerant, and ubiquitous throughout human history.

Then there are secondary religions. These arise first and foremost as a rejection of primary religion. "For these religions, and for these religions alone, the truth to be proclaimed comes with an enemy to be fought." That is how Jan Assmann describes these "counterreligions".

Sometimes the "success" (in terms of numbers of adherents) of these counterreligions is mistakenly seen as a sign of their spiritual/moral superiority over "primitive" "idolatrous" primary religions. But these counterreligions primarily (indeed, almost exclusively) gain converts by force, and their rapid spread has only been due to their ruthless predator-prey relationship with all other religions.

There's much more. Read the book to find out.

2 comments:

mamiel said...

My son wants to know, "Why does the price have to be 'in a nutshell'? -can't it be 'The Price of Monotheism in a tasty Cheesecake'"?

Sorry for the irreverence. I really do want to read this book. And make everyone else read it too.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

"The Price of Monotheism" is already very tasty by itself!