Thursday, 28 October 2010

Our Religions: Are they the Religions of Humanity Itself

Wherever you find indigenous peoples who have not swallowed (under force) the bitter pill of civilization, you find animism.

…there once was a religion that could plausibly be called the religion of humanity. It was humanity’s first religion and its only universal religion, found wherever humans were found, in place for tens of thousands of years. Christian missionaries encountered it wherever they went, and piously set about destroying it. By now it has been all but stamped out either by missionary efforts or more simply by exterminating its adherents. I certainly take no pride in its discovery, since it’s been in plain sight to us for hundreds of years.

Of course it isn’t accounted a “real” religion, since it isn’t one of ours. It’s just a sort of half-baked “pre-religion.” How could it be anything else, since it emerged long before God decided humans were worth talking to? It wasn’t revealed by any accredited prophet, has no dogma, no evident theology or doctrine, no liturgy, and produces no interesting heresies or schisms. Worst of all, as far as I know, no one has ever killed for it or died for it–and what sort of religion is that? Considering all this, it’s actually quite remarkable that we even have a name for it.

The religion I’m talking about is, of course, animism.

Daniel Quinn
Our Religions: Are they the Religions of Humanity Itself?

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