Monday, October 14, 2013

The Two Most Common Ways for an Era of Rationalism to Terminate Itself with Extreme Prejudice

Thus the rationalist war against traditional religion in ancient Greek and Roman society succeeded in crippling the old faith in the gods of Olympus, only to leave the field wide open to religions that were less vulnerable to the favorite arguments of classical rationalism:  first the mystery cults, then a flurry of imported religions from the East, among which Christianity and Islam eventually triumphed. That’s one of the two most common ways for an era of rationalism to terminate itself with extreme prejudice. The other is the straightforward transformation of a rationalist movement into a religion—consider the way that Buddhism, which started off as a rational protest against the riotous complexity of traditional Hindu religion, ended up replacing Hinduism’s crores of gods with an equally numerous collection of bodhisattvas, to whom offerings, mantras, prayers, and so on were thereafter directed. - John Michael Greer

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