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View Full Version : Affluence, Not Political Complexity Explains the Rise of Moralizing Religions



Angela
29-12-14, 20:29
December was so busy that I missed the announcement of this study.

The link to the article in Science is here:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141211124528.htm

Basically, the authors are proposing that Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Christianity, what they call the "moralizing" religions, all arose at the same time in very different parts of the world because their rise was triggered by the fact that people were able to start thinking about these philosophical questions only when they didn't have to spend every waking moment worried about the practical aspects of survival.

"These doctrines all emphasized the value of 'personal transcendence,'" the researchers write, "the notion that human existence has a purpose, distinct from material success, that lies in a moral existence and the control of one's own material desires, through moderation (in food, sex, ambition, etc.), asceticism (fasting, abstinence, detachment), and compassion (helping, suffering with others)."

I think transcendence is different from "moralizing", and I don't think I agree that people didn't have concern in prior eras about "transcending" this world.

LeBrok
30-12-14, 09:07
I think transcendence is different from "moralizing", and I don't think I agree that people didn't have concern in prior eras about "transcending" this world.
I agree. It was more of a natural evolution of religion, kicking it up a notch, than due to more of free time on hand.

bicicleur
30-12-14, 13:12
these are religions that survived till today

before many other religions existed, some got extinct because their followers didn't thrive very well and other people tried to impose their religion upon them
some of these religions started much earlier than those religions that are still known today
there was nothing new in the religions presented here

Maleth
30-12-14, 13:47
these are religions that survived till today

before many other religions existed, some got extinct because their followers didn't thrive very well and other people tried to impose their religion upon them
some of these religions started much earlier than those religions that are still known today
there was nothing new in the religions presented here

I agree that these religions only survived more ancient religions not to mention that the pomp and theatrical rituals have also increased through having bigger populations and maybe more wealth.

Aberdeen
01-01-15, 18:29
December was so busy that I missed the announcement of this study.

The link to the article in Science is here:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141211124528.htm

Basically, the authors are proposing that Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Christianity, what they call the "moralizing" religions, all arose at the same time in very different parts of the world because their rise was triggered by the fact that people were able to start thinking about these philosophical questions only when they didn't have to spend every waking moment worried about the practical aspects of survival.

"These doctrines all emphasized the value of 'personal transcendence,'" the researchers write, "the notion that human existence has a purpose, distinct from material success, that lies in a moral existence and the control of one's own material desires, through moderation (in food, sex, ambition, etc.), asceticism (fasting, abstinence, detachment), and compassion (helping, suffering with others)."

I think transcendence is different from "moralizing", and I don't think I agree that people didn't have concern in prior eras about "transcending" this world.

Somehow I missed this thread.

I agree that there's a difference between transcendence and moralizing. And I'd like to point out that these religions didn't arise at the same time. The roots of Hinduism, for example, are to be found in both Vedic scriptures from 3500 years ago and the much earlier religious concepts of the Dravidians, whereas islam is less than 1500 years old. Although its roots are in the Judaic tradition, which is also about 3500 years old. So perhaps there is a general time frame that is post Neolithic.

I think what happened during the metal ages was increasing social complexity that made it useful to the ruling class to have an angry punitive deity and the promise of a reward in the afterlife for the obedient. Anthropologists tell us that the few surviving groups that still follow what could be described as "Stone Age" spiritual practices are quite concerned about transcendence but aren't concerned with religion as obedience to a centralized authority.