Re: re. explanatory coherence

Aaron Lynch (
Wed, 06 Aug 1997 17:04:47 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 06 Aug 1997 17:04:47 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: re. explanatory coherence
In-Reply-To: <>

At 04:44 PM 8/6/97 -0400, you wrote:
>Aaron Lynch wrote:
>> Aaron Lynch responding to Alex Brown:
>> HISTORY, by Rodney Stark (Princeton University Press, 1996). There you
>> will
>> find considerable evidence of how the Roman Empire became
>> predominantly
>> monotheistic because of a monotheism that OUT-POPULATED polytheism. It
>> did
>> so by growing at 40% per decade, compounded over several hundred
>> years. The
>> extra babies and extra proselytizing of the Christians accounts for
>> this
>> growth.

>It is one thing to account for the spread of monotheism in a loose
>collection of polytheistic societies. But where did monotheism come
>from in the first place? The conceptual explanation Alex Brown proposes
>seems to me the sort of thing we need for that one.
Aaron Lynch responding to Bill Benzon:

Actually, the explanation is not merely about the spread of monotheism in a
loose collection of polytheistic societies. It is also about how it spread
in specific regions, such as the city of Rome itself.

It would be interesting to know how Hebrew monotheism occurred in its first
host or first few hosts, but I have not proposed a specific model of who
did the creative thinking or how. A great deal of very ancient information
seems to be lost here. But new religious movements and variants have sprung
from creative thinking by specific individuals in recent centuries. Some,
such as Mormonism, have exhibited strong recursive propagation numbers, and
now have populations in the millions. There are now 10,000,000 Mormons, but
this number arose from recursive propagation, not from 10,000,000 people
making a long slow transition over the past 150 years. Alex seems to
propose a model of transition on the societal level and historical time
scales, but the population "mind" is demonstrably NOT merely a scaled-up
version of the individual mind.


--Aaron Lynch

THOUGHT CONTAGION: How Belief Spreads Through Society The New Science of Memes Basic Books. Info and free sample:

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