Saturday, 21 March 2009

Le religioni degli altri sono superstizione (II)

All religious beliefs seem weird to those not brought up in them. Boyer did research on the Fang people of Cameroon, who believe . . .

. . . that witches have an extra internal animal-like organ that flies away at night and ruins other people's crops or poisons their blood. It is also said that these witches sometimes assemble for huge banquets, where they devour their victims and plan future attacks. Many will tell you that a friend of a friend actually saw witches flying over the village at night, sitting on a banana leaf and throwing magical darts at various unsuspecting victims.

Boyer continues with a personal anecdote:

I was mentioning these and other exotica over dinner in a Cambridge college when one of our guests, a prominent Cambridge theologian, turned to me and said: 'That is what makes anthropology so fascinating and so difficult too. You have to explain how people can believe such nonsense.'' Which left me dumbfounded. The conversation had moved on before I could find a pertinent response.

Assuming that the Cambridge theologian was a mainstream Christian, he probably believed some combination of the following:

• In the time of the ancestors, a man was born to a virgin mother with no biological father being involved.

• The same fatherless man called out to a friend called Lazarus, who had been dead long enough to stink, and Lazarus promptly came back to life.

• The fatherless man himself came alive after being dead and buried three days.

• Forty days later, the fatherless man went up to the top of a hill and then disappeared bodily into the sky.

• If you murmur thoughts privately in your head, the fatherless man, and his 'father' (who is also himself) will hear your thoughts and may act upon them. He is simultaneously able to hear the thoughts of everybody else in the world.

• If you do something bad, or something good, the same fatherless man sees all, even if nobody else does. You may be rewarded or punished accordingly, including after your death.

• The fatherless man's virgin mother never died but 'ascended' bodily into heaven.

• Bread and wine, if blessed by a priest (who must have testicles), 'become' the body and blood of the fatherless man.

What would an objective anthropologist, coming fresh to this set of beliefs while on fieldwork in Cambridge, make of them?

Dawkins 2006177s.

Le religioni degli altri sono superstizione (I)

"Evenerant prodigia, quae neque hostiis neque votis piare fas habet gens superstitioni obnoxia, religionibus adversa"  -  Tacito, Historiae, V, 13.

La gens "superstitioni obnoxia, religionibus adversa" è il popolo ebraico. Se non capisco male, la madre delle grandi religioni monoteistiche è avversa alle pratiche religiose, nonché assoggettata alla superstizione.

Cfr. anche

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

I fatti

"Il positivismo sostiene che ci sono i fatti, ci sono le cose, ma poveri fatti, povere cose, non ci sono! Poveri fatti, povere cose, non ci sono, esistono solo interpretazioni" - F. Nietzsche

Per fortuna l'Occidente, che ha scoperto gli antibiotici e che mi consente di non vivere di stenti, basa il suo benessere sulla tecnologia e sulla scienza, che procedono come se certe idee dei filosofi non siano neanche mai state pensate.