Re: Religious Variation [Was " Biological = trivial?"]

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Mon, 29 Jul 1996 20:26:28 -0700

On Sat, 27 Jul 1996, John McCreery wrote:

> Suppose we began by noting that behavior identified as religious is
> characteristically ritual as ethologists see it: (1)non-routine;
> (2)stereotyped, (3) specialized for communication in agonistic situations.
> [Can we think of counterexamples?]

Well, he said weakly, yes. Isn't this missing a little something?
Like the idea of a "living faith"?

Herman Kahn, at one point, talking about the decay of the numinous
in everyday life (actually he called it "the long term secular
multiform trend" but it's the same thing), mentioned his grandfather,
a man who literally "walked with God." According to Kahn, the old
man began discussing the day ahead with God as soon as he was out
of bed, found time during the day to carry on his chat, and wrapped
up things in the evening with an extensive commentary before he
went to bed. And, Kahn added, "he had a strength of character that I
for one can never equal. His was the faith that will move mountains."

Skeptical, cynical, doubting, disbelieveing, unbelieving an agnostic
as I am, I do have to point out that religion is complicated stuff,
and that it can _use_ ritual to produce non-ritualized responses.
I suspect our species has worked just as hard at elaborating religious
belief and behavior as it has at technology and for many of the same
reasons-- it improves life.

(Not to pick on your post in any way. I just think religion is a
harder topic to discuss than people want to imagine.)

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge