Quinn’s Religion In Daniel Quinn’s Novel Ishmael, Religion Clearly Plays

2307 words - 9 pages

Quinn's Religion In Daniel Quinn's novel Ishmael, religion clearly plays an important role with respect to the central theme of the story. Quinn's broad definition of the term accurately demonstrates our unconditional acceptance of culture today, as well as the problems that arise from regarding a culture that is not necessarily true.In the story, Quinn never truly defines religion, despite drawing on several examples of both Eastern and Western religious thought. By leaving religion to be broadly interpreted, he subtly demonstrates his personal contempt for the way that the word is currently used in today's society. Gage Canadian Dictionary defines it in three ways. First it is the "belief in or worship of god or gods." According to Quinn, the condition of their being a belief in a certain god or gods is not a factor in determining the meaning of religion, according to Quinn. Secondly, religion is described as "a particular system of religious belief and worship." To try to say something is a religion because it has religious beliefs is preposterous; the creation of religious beliefs, no doubt, relies heavily on there being a religion on which to base those beliefs in the first place. This seems to be a classic example of circular reasoning. The third definition is the one that is relevant to Quinn, and that is where religion is defined as "a matter of conscious." In order to develop further the notion that religion is a question of conscious, it is necessary to bring Quinn's account of man's civilization to the forefront. He contends that for millions of years, the earth slowly evolved. Certain immutable laws governed this process, eventually allowing for the creation of all life, including man. From Homo Habilis to Homo Sapiens, man enacted a story that adhered to the rules of the world, namely that man is a creation of the world as opposed to the earth belonging to man. Quinn describes the word "story" as "a scenario interrelating man, the world, and the gods" (Quinn 41). Up until approximately 10,000 years ago, it was the same story that they had always enacted; in fact, it was the same novel that allowed for humanity's existence in the first place. The enacting of any story, as well as the subsequent following of any rules set forth within that story is what constitutes the culture of a society, and the historical basis for religion to spring forth from. For these earlier people, the story of man reached back in an unbroken chain to the beginning of time. Labeled "Leavers" by Quinn, this society stressed the importance of balance, leaving the Earth alone to decide what was to live and what was to die (39). Then, rather abruptly, a new civilization appeared that accepted a totally different culture altogether, named "Takers" (39). They flourished in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as the agricultural revolution took full flight. Their culture accepted no other, and they began an invasion and destruction of all other...

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