Durant: Our Oriental Heritage (notes on religion)

Notes on Religion:

Why is there existence? Not the meaning of life, or why is there life—I could even accept that as an accident, and not why is there earth, but why is there space or time or matter or energy? How can it possibly be that out of nothing there is something? Why isn’t it all just nothing?

Primitive man never saw the existence of old age—death was always unnatural, and thus it was feared because it was horrible, and the gods must be responsible for causing it. That’s the flaw in our ideas—that if we could avert all those horrible unnatural deaths that we could possibly live forever. When the truth is that the horrible deaths prevent us from lasting too long, assist in the rapid turnover the species needs. Confidence is in lasting forever, somehow.

moon —> Latin ‘mensis’ and Greek ‘men’
menstruate —> Latin ‘menses’

Totem worship. In early Judaism, pigs. In early Christianity, doves, lambs, fish. Totems tabu, and eating of them, if allowed at all, only in ritual contexts. The Gallas of Abyssinia worshiped fish, and ate them ritually, saying they could feel the spirit moving inside them when they did—and Christian missionaries were thereby shocked at the similarity to Mass, in which one worships the god and then eats him.

The worship of the dead, as we see them in our dreams, thus the worship of powerful men particularly, once they are dead. As the worship of saints in Catholicism.

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