Word for sudden collapse of a religion or belief system.

Discuss word origins and meanings.
Post Reply

Word for sudden collapse of a religion or belief system.

Post by NewTomi » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:28 pm

I am looking for the proper word or words to describe the sudden and definitive collapse of a religion or deeply-held belief system. As an example, just before the Inca emperor Tupac Amaru was executed by the Spanish, he gave a speech in which he told all of his people that when he had gone to the oracle and claimed to have spoken to the sun (their god), he was lying and had always deceived them when he did this. It was a pretty definitive admission that was devastating to the hierarchical belief system of the Incas. I'm sure there are other historical examples where a conquered king or chief has been forced to renounce his people's deeply held belief systems. I am looking for the proper word for this, in English or any other language.
Post actions:

Re: Word for sudden collapse of a religion or belief system.

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:55 am

On an individual level, you can lose (or relinquish, or renounce) your religion (or faith), have a crisis of faith, no longer believe in God, become an atheist/apostate/non-believer, turn atheist/apostate or turn to secularism.

I suppose that an entire society could also do the same thing, but as far as I know there is no commonly used word or expression that specifically covers the concept of a society-wide loss of religion or belief system, other than possibly mass defection, mass renunciation or religious collapse.

You could try asking in a forum which focuses specifically on religion (or the lack of it). It's always possible that there is a technical term for the phenomenon you describe which I am not aware of.

It must be easier to persuade a society to take up a religion than to persuade it to give it up once it has been adopted, as there are a few terms for the opposite process, such as convert a nation (to X faith), Christianize, Islamicize, and adopt/introduce a state religion.
Post actions:

Re: Word for sudden collapse of a religion or belief system.

Post by NewTomi » Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:01 am

Thanks very much Erik. I'm thinking of something along the lines of "apocalypse," but more liturgical. So I think you're right about going to a religious source to ask. The one follow up I wanted to ask is whether you're referring to a subtopic elsewhere in this message board or a different site altogether. If you happen to know of one, or can suggest one, please let me know.
Post actions:

Re: Word for sudden collapse of a religion or belief system.

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:41 am

I was thinking of an external site: maybe here.
Post actions:

End of topic.
Post Reply