Sapiens - Chapter 12 - 13 Summary & Analysis

Yuval Noah Harari
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Summary

Chapter 12 describes the role religion has played in human history. Harari defines religion as a system of human norms based on a superhuman order. Along with empires and money, religion has been a major unifying force. The author notes that millions of distinct have likely existed throughout history, but only that were both universal and missionary spread significantly. The religion of a hunter-gatherer band that applied only to its small territory had no reason to spread beyond that small group. The earliest religions were animist. Broadly, all animists believe that humans are equal to other animals and that they can communicate with each other. These belief sets declined as humans moved to agriculture and began to control the animals they domesticated. Instead, humans shifted to polytheism, religions that are based on a universal order but also recognize the existence of several gods. These...

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