Friday, January 25, 2008

Paz and Naipaul quotes on monotheism

Here's Octavio Paz - whom I quoted extensively in this post - again from In Light of India, this time with some thoughts on monotheism:
Monotheism has been the great unifier of peoples, languages, races, and cultures. It has also been a great divider of people and the source of endless and terrible intolerance. The relative disaster of Islam in India - it tried to convert millions, but the majority remained faithful to their old beliefs and gods - is proof of the double face of monotheism: when it does not unite, it tears apart.
And this reminds me of Naipaul's view:
The two great revealed religions, Islam and Christianity, have altered the world forever, and we all, whatever our faith, walk in their light. Over and above their theology, these religions gave the world social ideas – brotherhood, charity, the feeling of man for man – which we now all take for granted. They are the basis of our political ideas and our ideas of morality. Those ideas didn't exist before. It may be that these two revealed religions have done their work and have little more to offer.
I am sure Sam Harris would disagree with Naipaul, especially with the morality bit.

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