(Roughly) Daily

“God has no religion”*…

 

Your correspondent is off for his annual sojourn in the land of dunes and deep-fried food (this year, with a glimpse of the eclipse); regular service should resume on or around August 28.  Meantime…

Not since the angel Gabriel visited Muhammad in a cave around 610 AD, informing him that he is God’s prophet, has there been a new globally influential religion with hundreds of millions of followers. Though the world’s religions are very dynamic, and major faiths continue to shift and evolve in ritual and doctrine, the world today is dominated by the same four faiths that dominated the globe a millennium ago: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. According to a 2012 Pew study, 92 percent of religiously affiliated people around the globe belong to one of these four faiths.

While some relatively recent faiths have succeeded in recruiting millions of followers—such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism), Scientology, and Baha’i—their numbers of adherents are dwarfed in scale by these earlier four. The Baha’i, for example, are a relatively numerous recent faith with an estimated 7 million adherents. That sounds impressive, but it still means that just 0.1 percent of humanity has joined Baha’ism—and the faith has been around for 150 years (since 1863).

Faiths, of course, don’t have to be numerous to deliver spiritual sustenance to their followers, or even to be influential, as Judaism (a religion of 14 million) shows. Still, the small scale of new faiths over the past 1,500 years since Islam raises a question: Why, if creating new faiths is an inextinguishable feature of the human condition, have new religions had such limited recent success?…

The story of one imprisoned prophet illustrates the difficulties of getting a “baby religion” off the ground: “Why Are There No New Major Religions?

C.F. also: Britannica‘s piece on New Religious Movements.

* Mahatma Gandhi

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As we direct our prayers, we might spare a thought for Genghis Khan, nee Temüjin; he died on this date in 1227.  The founder of founder of the Mongol Empire (which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death), he launched the Mongol invasions that conquered most of Eurasia, bringing the Silk Road under cohesive political control.  Though renown for the brutality of his campaigns, he practiced meritocracy– and religious freedom.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 18, 2017 at 1:01 am

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