ABSTRACT

How does blasphemy affect human interaction with superhuman beings? This chapter criticises the sacred/profane dichotomy as an approach to blasphemy and suggests three theoretical perspectives: one from material culture, one from the cognitive science of religion, and one based on religious interaction as a relational approach. Discussing these perspectives, I take examples mainly from discourses on blasphemy and iconoclasm related to Christianity and Islam. I suggest that blasphemy can be understood as destruction of external means of religious. Thus, blasphemy signals disturbance in religious material culture; as distortion, blasphemy reveals a perceived attack on the cognitive concepts that superhuman persons are comprised of; as distraction, blasphemy denotes an interruption in individual and collective religious interaction.