The evolution of religions
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Alex Tabarrok has a few things to say about how religions adapt:
My point is not to argue that Christianity or Islam are either more or less compatible with capitalism or liberal democracy. In my view all religions of reasonable age and numbers contain traditions and teachings compatible with modernity and all religions of reasonable age and numbers contain traditions and teachings incompatible with modernity. Call it the completeness theorem.
It's how religions adapt and evolve to modernity that is important. Religions are constantly changing, emphasizing certain features, downplaying others, creating new interpretations. Given enough time, I believe that any religion will evolve towards compatability with modernity because it's the memes that combine modernity and religion which will survive and prosper.
The problem is that Christianity has had hundreds of years to adapt itself to modernity while Islam has had modernity thrust upon it.
I think the line that I emphasised is even truer of customs and traditions, (represented by the catch-all "culture") i.e. only such cultures which better adapt and evolve will survive for any length of time. Look at any culture close enough and you'll find that the search for what is "authentic" in that culture can be very elusive.