Monday, January 31, 2011

Quote for the day

Stephen T. Asma:
The belief that nature is loaded with invisible spirits that live in local flora, fauna, and environmental landmarks is generally characterized by Westerners as 'primitive' and highly irrational... But most of the world is made up of animists. The West is naive when it imagines that the major options are monotheistic. In actual numbers and geographic spread, belief in nature spirits trounces the One-Godders...

Contrary to the progress-based story the West tells itself, animistic explanations of one's daily experience may be every bit as empirical and rational as Western science... As Roger Scruton says, 'The consolation of imaginary things is not imaginary consolation.'...

Unlike Western fundamentalism, animism is not locked in a zero-sum battle with science... Animism is highly syncretic, adopting any and all spiritual beliefs and practices as complimentary rather than competing options... There's not much concern for, or history of, orthodoxy in animism, a trait that can render it liberal and tolerant toward alternatives, including science.
From 'The New Atheists' Narrow Worldview' in The Chronicle of Higher Education