What is History 6: Religion

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Featured Image Sapiens Yuval Noah Harari

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  2 October 2017

What is History 6: The Development or Evolution of Religion


Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens: A brief history of humankind Harper 2014 (first published in Hebrew in 2011).

I feel guilty delving into Harari before embarking on Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel 1997 a much more profound book and one I have spent an enormous amount of time with, by reading and delving into Diamond’s sources. Harari himself acknowledges Diamond. He says:

Special thanks to Jared Diamond, who taught me to see the big picture.

Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens: A brief history of humankind is a brave and ambitious enterprise, but he doesn’t quite carry it off. In some ways, he reminds me of Marvin Harris a popularising anthropologist who wrote Cannibals and Kings in 1977, which I also like immensely. For all his faults, Harari takes us on a great journey.

Sapiens has two great strengths that I want to utilise. As such, it forms an introduction to some of the things I want to say about Diamond’s seminal analysis. Harari’s book is more straightforward in its message than Diamond.

Sapiens’ strengths are:

  1. Harari approaches human history from the perspective of biology, and does not ignore or deny the natural and obvious consequences of the rise of an intelligent ape.
  2. Harari is deliberately provocative, by trying to see outside the box of conventional history and bringing in biology, anthropology, sociology, psychology and other disciplines as needed.

He may not always be right but he is aiming at another perspective to make us think about ourselves and history in a more multi-disciplinary way. Such an approach challenges conventional wisdom and dogmas that prevent us thinking openly about ourselves as a species.

What better person to use for an overview of the evolution or history of religion?

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Posted from Canberra


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