Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Origin of religion?

The cover story of this month's National Geographic is called "The Birth of Religion," all about an archeological dig in Turkey which could not only overshadow Stonehenge (it's about twice as old!), but upend the received view that agriculture and settlements came before religion. The site of the world's earliest known temple - 11,500 years old! - has so far yielded no evidence of settlement. What could this mean? It's not that the retreat of the ice age made agriculture possible, which led to communities requiring a level of cooperation which needed religious motivators. Rather, "wonderment at changes in the natural world leads to religion" which gets enough people together that they need to settle and find ways of sustaining themselves without nomadism, so: agriculture. Fascinating!

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