Reminder: our species’ inventory of living languages stands at about 7,000; our inventory of most subscribed religions stands at about 16 — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups — and then one may get into counting sects and cults in any number. Each package –language and religion + language or religion — represents some human way of adjusting to a limited (!) ecological or social environment — they ways of a people in its place (a good reference for that thought might be Vine Deloria Jr.’s book _God is Red_).
Add some borrowing, from Moses to Hille, perhaps, from Hillel to Jesus, Paul, and Constantine, from Constantine’s example on to Muhammad. The thought about our intellectual history may not be magical or romantic but it makes sense of time, thought, and adjustment to changing wants and changed boundaries.
The popular and scholarly discussion of religion is not something that can be or should be forbidden as each human mind wrestles not only with immediate environmental and social survival — this, using language as a cultural tool — but with a sense known to most of humanity (atheists comprise but seven percent of the lot) of a greater metaphysical existence from the genius loci to the Master of the Universe.
Life with time changes some things.
Life with space preserves some things.
central –> marginal –> mixed <– marginal <– central may give us one way of thinking about ethnolinguistic cultural (and religious) survival (and co-evolution). I don’t want to live in an all English, all secular world. Who would? No matter: nature, by demonstration, prefers experiment and variety.
Let the years of violent cultural annihilation and conquest subside. We are capable of observing ourselves, speaking across immense cultural and physical space . . . the conversation cannot be avoided but can be had with much, much less grief.
Every day’s conversation and news transmitted around the world changes the world a little bit because it reaches into so many minds. In some social circles, one may talk of a New Global Intelligentsia, and while so many state leaders and generals may be “too busy and too important” to be in it themselves, have no doubt that they are looking it over in some compressed fashion and with varied ambitions and concerns.
The prompt had to do with questioning and discussing religion, which in the west is what the west does without inhibition. We annul and validate with our choice in subscription, some of which may be powerfully driven by the accident of birth and legacy, and in some other part the experience of discomfort leading to the development of choices — options — and the conscious and adult election to lend or withhold our energies from one set of beliefs or practices or another.
There should be no compulsion.
Where violence is needed to enforce obeyance, bold and earnest conversation may condemn, degrade, and diminish the medieval and uglier methods of political and religious control.
The freedom to listen with compassion, empathy, and empirical and intuitive knowledge; the freedom to reason about, reflect on, and weigh ideas; and the freedom to speak responsibly about anything — about all things — is freedom.
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