Re: Religion and narcissism

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon 23 Jan 2006 - 22:26:02 GMT

  • Next message: Jerry Bryson: "Re: Religion and narcissism"

    At 01:26 PM 1/23/2006 -0800, "Dace" <> wrote:

    >Barbara Ehrenreich makes an excellent case for this in her 1997 book, *Blood
    >Rites.* Human societies were so accustomed to periodically losing someone
    >to animal predation that the inevitability of human sacrifice became
    >ingrained in our worldview. So successful was this meme that it lived on
    >long after animal predation ceased to be a major factor in human life.
    >Prior to this time, attack by wild animals, especially lions, tigers and
    >bears, was so common

    Is there evidence for significant predation on humans since we started chipping rocks? (2.2 million years or so) Before that, yes, but that was 4.5 million years ago. I have a hard time imagining significant predation on humans who had fire at least half a million years ago.

    >that our ancestors experienced rising anxiety until the
    >dreaded event occurred, after which survivors could breathe a sigh of
    >relief. In other words, the victim is sacrificed that others may live. But
    >even with the decline in the number of predators following the end of the
    >last Ice Age, the cycle of anxiety and release, so ingrained in our
    >collective psyche, continued unabated. The priest was invented who could
    >sacrifice a human and offer the corpse to the new, invisible predator. Thus
    >was God born as the memetic echo of the blood-thirsty predator beast.
    >Ehrenreich argues convincingly that the Old Testament God reveals the same
    >characteristics of predators.

    And even more the characteristics of human predators. Humans displaced bears from caves, not the other way around.

    >But there's another side to God, which seemed to develop later on. Like
    >DNA, religion is double-stranded. The two strands of thought are coiled so
    >tightly that teasing them apart can be quite difficult. The other God,
    >rather than demanding ritual sacrifice, became itself the ultimate
    >sacrifice, the Lamb, in order to demonstrate its love for humankind. I
    >think what this God represents is the collective psyche, the shared mind out
    >of which individual minds rise and fall like waves on the ocean. Heaven is
    >simply the loss of the individual psyche as it gets reabsorbed into the
    >living collective. Hell is the purification that occurs to "unrepentant
    >sinners" in the process of reabsorption. If you hate and and torture and
    >kill, then you're not going to have a very pleasant time of it as your
    >individuality is stripped away and the gap between you and your victims
    >closes in. You discover that you're actually one with your victims, that
    >their agony is now yours as well.
    >So one God is born of fear, the other of love. One is merely a meme in the
    >pool of human mentality, the other an expression of the pool itself.

    Sheesh. And people say EP has "just so" stories.

    Keith Henson

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