EMERGENCE OF RELIGION
June 30, 2012
As an adolescent I had the accidental privilege of reading a book, The Golden Bough, by Sir James Frazer, the famous anthropologist.
[Earlier on I was heavily groomed into reading about Islam, learnt Quirat [reciting Quran the correct, and sometimes in a melodious, way] and quite a bit of Sarf.o.nahv [Arabic syntax] so that I could read the Quran in original.]
Returning to the Bough..
"The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941).'
'The Golden Bough attempts to define the shared elements of religious belief to scientific thought, discussing fertility rites, human sacrifice, the dying god, the scapegoat and many other symbols and practices which have influenced the 20th century. Its thesis is that old religions were fertility cults that revolved around the worship of, and periodic sacrifice of, a sacred king. Specifically, that mankind progresses from magic through religious belief to scientific thought." - Wikipedia
Not that I understood even a fourth of all it contained. But broad contours of the context of the emergence of religions stuck in the mind. As I grew up I have kept up reading on this subject.
Subsequent work on this subject has only reinforced my understanding that religions are the result of human enterprise - the quintessential civilizational quest, as it were - perhaps to seek to balance individual pursuit with collective good.
Years later I came to say: "religions were the sciences of yesterday; science is destined to be the religion of tomorrow". A rather unscientific statement, this, but it demonstrates a healthy respect towards the emergence of at least the well known religions. And underlines the fact that science is a better course for the pursuit of truth.
Do you, instead, believe that religions are divinely ordained, and have no human role in their origins? Comments for and against are welcome - in the restrained language that TAHZEEB is now seeing.