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The notion of disenchantment  is central to Max Weber’s sociology of religion. In the history of religion the expectation of salvation became independent of external means such as magic, spells, rituals, sacrifices, and compliance with existing rules. Instead, subjective religiosity, mysticism, and ascetism became the path to salvation. The social orders of human society are regarded as hostile to religion; a religiosity of world-denial establishes practices that reject their transmitted norms.             ⸙

Dualism, in contrast to monism, assumes that two antagonistic principles underlie existence. It found classic expression in Zoroastrianism, in some tendencies in early Judaism, and in Gnosticism and its aftermath. In milder form it also appears implicitly in the worldviews of prescientific cultures. A characteristic of modern scientific culture is to find in such hostile factors as disasters and illnesses a challenge to human knowledge and ability. Prescientific cultures, however, push such anomalies into the realm of the unclean (see R. Horton on African worldviews). They thereby give the anomalous a place and significance and master it by bringing it under personal or abstract control.

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The entry addresses abandonment of one’s belief for another in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. While in ancient pagan society people could freely choose the deities they worshipped, Judaism and later Christianity and Islam regarded the exclusive worship of God as fundamental to one’s redemption. Apostasy was an issue in three respects: as intentional abandonment of one’s religious belonging; as a legally prohibited act; as an ordeal that will afflict the community of believers at the end of time. The category did not vanish in the modern age. ⸙

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Blasphemy, religious insult, has its primary place in the secular legal system. The article traces its ancient origins, deals with the modern substitute “Incitement to Religious Hatred” implying an attack on civil norms in a situation of religious plurality, and treats the Rushdie affair, when Muslims demanded protection from defamation. ⸙