Subject: Law

Atheism and the Law

Most Americans believe that their religion or non-religion is a private matter of no concern to other people. Many of them are astonished when they learn that such a concept is a fairly recent historical innovation.  There was most likely no separation of the religious and secular spheres in early societies.  Religious sanctions reinforced social customs.[1]  A member of a primitive tribe who violated a custom violated a taboo which could bring upon him the wrathful vengeance of a non human, mysterious power. Eventually a need was seen for an intermediary between the earthly tribe and the supernatural powers it worshipped, and the priestly caste emerged.  From the very beginning of human history, however, it was the king and not the priest who was superior.[2]  Such a state of affairs lasted for centuries, and although the waxing and waning of church power upset the balance at times, hegemony always eventually reverted to the realpolitik of

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