RE: virus: Anasazi angle

Wade T. Smith (
Thu, 22 Aug 1996 21:16:22 -0400

>It struck me that there are very few examples where a "failure of faith" led
>to the extinction of a culture's religion. The religious meme seems, by
>design, to be protected from such easy discomfirmation.


Then why so many religions? So many cultures? I will say- _because_ of the
failure of the ritual to manage reality, because of religion's constant
disconfirmation, due to the vagaries of nature. The ritual needs to be
maintained- the power of the priest- and this is what requires the
doublespeak of the 'faith'. As an institution, a religion so closely tied
to a tribe is bound to come up against catastrophic failure, bringing the
culture down with it, splintering off units with newer, often more
dangerous, rituals and shamans.

Your description of the fate of the Anasazi sounds neither unusual nor
paradigmatic of an unexpected failure of religion. I would argue that it is
the successes of religion that embody the unusual, or at least a kind of
stagnation, both in the external and internal worlds of a culture. (I also
admit that that is strongly Western in viewpoint.)

Wade T. Smith | "There ain't nuthin' you | shouldn't do to a god."
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