Religion, the Axial Age, and theoretic culture

I recently read the late Robert Bellah's 'Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age.'  Although the title of the book seems to narrow it to just religion, in ancient societies, religion was just about everything, so the book ended up being about the development of cultures, which isn't too surprising given … Continue reading Religion, the Axial Age, and theoretic culture

Confucianism and the definition of religion

I've noted before that defining religion is difficult.  Simple definitions (such as belief in gods) tend to either exclude some religions (such as Buddhism), or include things that most people don't consider to be a religion (such as constitutional law or science).  Definitions that get the scope about right tend to be hopelessly vague or unwieldy. … Continue reading Confucianism and the definition of religion

The ages of communication

I think I've mentioned before that I only recently came the realization that the scientific revolution was more a matter of increased communication than necessarily a breakthrough in method.  Along the lines of this realization, I have a few thoughts about communication and its effects on human history. Humans are social animals.  Communication between and among … Continue reading The ages of communication

Big Gods: An interesting read

A while back, I read Ara Norenzayan's book, 'Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict'.  I'm posting this review somewhat from memory, but I've had a couple of conversations about it lately and I think it might be good to move the discussion here. In the book, Norenzayan asks an interesting question.  How did … Continue reading Big Gods: An interesting read