Marking RPK’s final assignment


RPK shares with us his final assignment (maximum 1000 words) for his Oxford course in Philosophy of Religion. He selected the topic of What is a religion?

As usual, RPK has written well and in an interesting way, subtext included wakakaka. Yes, we could nitpick here and there but generally it flows well. However, there is a sentence that I believe won’t be accepted, that is, from an academic point. It’s likely to invite a red inked question mark (with lecturer’s comment: “you did not explain why!”) on the right hand margin of his paper.

I refer to the 3rd last paragraph which went as follows:

Had freedom of choice been allowed and had no one been forced to adopt the religion of his/her political masters, there is no guarantee that, say, Islam would be the dominant religion of the Middle East. Most likely the majority in the Middle East today would be Zoroastrians. The Nestorian/Coptic Christians plus the Jews of the Middle and Near East also faced persecution and were forced to embrace either Islam or the Roman version of Christianity.

The sentence is “Most likely the majority in the Middle East today would be Zoroastrians”!

In academic papers one can’t toss in an assertion like that without explaining why one believes so – in other words why does RPK claim such?

He could have stated, just as an example (with subtext included as well wakakaka):

Zoroastrianism was the state religion of Persia, which was the dominant superpower around 600 to 500 BCE, thus conferring enormous prestige on that belief and its practice.