Religion Does Not Stand Alone

By: Ken Baskin  

Faced with the powerful forces that evoke awe and terror, in a world where life lives on death and both abundance and disaster are always possible, all human groups must learn to know and adapt to these forces. This paper will draw on findings in sciences ranging from neurobiology to paleoanthropology to examine how meeting the challenge of such forces would lead to religion, science, and philosophy, each of which explores these forces with a different habit of thought: With religion, people use myth and ritual; with science, they study the natural world; and with philosophy, they discuss the human dimensions of meeting these forces. In pre-literate societies, these three habits of mind are braided together in religion. As late as Babylonia, priests invented and practiced astronomy, and Ancient Egyptians expressed a sophisticated philosophy of justice embodied in the goddess Ma’at. By the Axial Age, however, as writing became a cultural tool, these three habits of mind began to diverge, especially in science and philosophy that would develop in Greece, India and China. This paper will conclude by discussing how Modernity has separated these habits of mind, but also examine how current sciences such as quantum physics are reintegrating them.

Evolution, Myth, Ritual, Adaptation, Neurobiology, Science, Philosophy
Religious Foundations
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Ken Baskin

PhD, English Literature, University of Maryland, United States
PA, United States

Ken Baskin is an independent writer and speaker who, for twenty years, has examined human social systems in light of the emerging post-Newtonian worldview. He is currently developing a way of thinking about religion as an evolutionary process. His books include "Corporate DNA", an examination of organizations conceived as living things rather than mechanisms, and "The Axial Ages of World History" co-written with anthropologist Dmitri Bondarenko, a comparison of the Axial Age and Modernity. Baskin is a member of the Soceity for the Scientific Study of Religion and a founding member of the International Big History Association; he has spoken about his evolutionary model of religion at conferences of both associations, as well as at the 2017 Conference on Religoin and Spirituality in Society. Baskin earned a PhD in English Literature at the Universtiy of maryland in 1977 and his since written pulic relations for several organizations. He currently lives in Philadelphia with his wife Martha.