History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Armstrong, Axial Age, Aljazeera

January 31st, 2006 · No Comments

Karen Armstrong on Aljazeera.net announces her new book on Axial Age. Life is not fair, someone who has made a complete bollocks of the question of the Axial Age writes a book that will sell due to her reputation.

The Axial Age was not a religious age producing religions but a complex evolutionary moment that transformed what was already there. It is something far larger than the instances we see, and which many have taken as religious phenomena.
Armstrong dismissively includes ‘Greek rationalism’, because she must, but the Greek Axial phenomenon is far larger than that, and includes, incidentally, the emergence of Greek science.
Christianity and Islam are not in the Axial period, so they aren’t Axial. Is that clear?
There is no definable essence of the ‘axial’ period, in the sense of religion.
Unfortunately the term has become a runaway freight train of nonsense, and all I can hope is that my eonic study will allow some to evacuate the escalating nonsense.
I am waiting for Armstrong’s book and also Dennett’s on religion. For the latter I warned I was sharpening my claws. Ditto for Armstrong’s book.
Let me note in conclusion that Bullshit sells, and Armstrong is a good case of that.

Can you tell us about your new book focusing on the Axial Age?

I just finished it and it will be out in the UK in March and in the US in April. It is already out in Holland.

The Axial Age is the period from 900 to 200 BCE when all the world’s religions which have continued to nourish humanity came into being or had their roots. You can consider Christianity and Islam as later flowerings of the Axial Age ideals of monotheism.

This included the emergence of Confucianism and Taoism in China, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in India.

In Europe, you had the Greeks and philosophical rationalism.

It is not just an exercise in spiritual archaeology, because I hope the book will give some indications of perhaps where we may be going wrong today. It seems to me that in our various institutions we are creating exactly the kind of piety people like the Buddha wanted to get rid of.

The essential teachings of the Axial Age were in every case – except for Greece – a rejection of violence. And as a consequence of that the cultivation of compassion and the Golden Rule “don’t do to others as you would not have done to you”.

That seems to be the basis of religion; they weren’t interested in metaphysics or doctrine or orthodox theology at all.

Tags: Evolution · History · The Axial Age · The Eonic Effect

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