When we look into the distant past, we often compare ourselves to ancient Greeks and Romans. But their peaks were actually closer in time to us than to the peak of the prior society that they compared themselves with: ancient Egypt.
The central fact of the christian faith is that it does not require believers to sacrifice *others* to their deity.Most other religions required/require to offer their deity or deities sacrifices as "bribes", to win their favour, or sacrifice someone else as a scapegoat to win their forgiveness.
The purpose of the self-sacrifice of Yeshua/Jesus was to put an end to all that, the self-sacrifice to end all sacrifices.In christianity there is no requirement to offer sacrifices to win the deity's favour, but the deity's favour is won by making offers to the poor, sick, etc.; there is a complete prohibition on sacrificing someone else to win the deity's forgiveness, and the deity's forgiveness is won by repentance and making amends, that is by changing behaviour and being better to others. Some christians believe in pleasing their deity or getting forgiveness by acts of self-sacrifice "in imitation of Christ", but that is not quite christian; no suffering pleases the christian deity, but only faith and deeds that help others, either by generosity or by making amends. Indeed Yeshua/Jesus self-sacrificed for others, and to put an end to sacrifices.There are other religions that reject sacrificing others to bribe or appease their deities, and they tend to be much more beneficial religions than the others.
Willingness to pay and willingness to sacrifice are the same thing. Making a sacrifice credibly communicates and quantifies preference intensity, as opposed to the cheap talk surveys that Hanson frequently posts on Twitter.
Why is it necessary to effectively determine preference intensity? Consider a couple of cavemen...
Bob: Hey man, I’m so hungry. Can I have some food?Frank: No, I told you to conserve your food.Bob: But I’m dying of hunger!Frank: Oh really? Are you truly that hungry?Bob: Yeah, I’m super super hungry!!!!Frank: So why don’t I hear your stomach growling?Bob: I just drank a lot of water. Frank: Hmmm… that’s a plausible story. Here’s a deal. I’ll give you some food if you give me your bear claw necklace. Bob: No way!!!Frank: I guess you’re not that hungry.
It’s advantageous for Bob to use cheap talk so that he can freely gain a precious resource. In order for Frank to avoid misallocating a precious resource, it’s advantageous for him to effectively gauge/test/measure Bob’s actual level of interest, which is the point of trade.
"hugely important in its own right"
Certainly, and propitiatory sacrifice is one of the ways in which Christ's crucifixion has been traditionally described. At the same time, it's not the only or perhaps even the primary way, when considered in both time and place. The Orthodox paschal hymn for example is "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life." So the crucifixion and the resurrection are juxtaposed, with the latter giving a victorious meaning to the former.
I'm not familiar with other examples of human sacrifice, or the reasons given for them. It wasn't clear to me what was the point of Egyptian human sacrifice either. Did this occur before the Egyptians started extensive writing?
Thanks Red. So maybe I should have described that human sacrifice as hugely important to Christianity rather than as its central event. You'll buy that it's hugely important in its own right, yes? (Jesus dying for our sins, God so loving the world etc.)?
Traditionally, the central event of Christianity is arguably not crucifixion but resurrection. This is clear if you read the letters of St. Paul.
I suppose most people will agree w me that the strangest aspect of this is the mass sacrifices. That said, in Christianity (whose central event is a human sacrifice) we see both a modern echo and perhaps also an enabling belief (that in the afterlife)
"Not a single unfinished pyramid is known to have been started by one pharaoh and finished by another."I think it would have been better to remove the word "unfinished", because in the counterfactual where a later pharaoh did finish someone else's pyramid, by definition it would no longer be unfinished.
Nothing about the opportunity cost of the pyramids?