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Animism

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Flyleaf of the book of Alexandr Aksakov: Animi...

Flyleaf of the book of Alexandr Aksakov: Animism and Spiritism, 1906 Edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Animism is the belief that natural objects like rocks, rivers, mountains and trees, as well as animals and people have a spiritual, animating principle.

The pioneering anthropologist Sir E. B. Tylor (1832 -1917) developed a theory of animism to try to explain the origins of religion. Tylor believed that so-called primitive man developed a belief in spirits existing in nature from the actual experience of sleep, dreams and breathing. Like many researchers who think they know better than the people they are researching, it was probably too much of a stretch for him to take the idea on its own terms.

Today, it’s not entirely clear if animism should be defined as a religion, per se, or simply as a widely held belief. One of the complications that comes out of the belief in animism is the view that matter and spirit are the same. This differs from the view that matter and energy are equivalent. But not many people are able to appreciate the subtlety of this distinction. Many New Age and subatomic physics enthusiasts say that matter and energy are the same, and therefore assume that matter, energy and spirit are the same.

This view is at odds with religious perspectives that claim spirit pervades matter/energy but is qualitatively different from it. But again, if someone is merely looking at the problem intellectually, or with limited experience, they’ll probably think it’s all the same.

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Author: Earthpages.ca

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