Why are terms like "primitive" and "primal" not appropriate in describing indigenous religions?

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There are three main groups of reasons why one should not use these terms when describing indigenous religions.

First, there is the problem that these terms are not particularly accurate or informative. Terms such as monotheistic, polytheistic, and animist give us some sense of what certain religions think about the nature of the divine, but terms such as "primitive" or "primal" really give almost no actual information other than a sense of the speaker's attitude towards the religions.

Second, there is the problem of the connotations of those terms. "Primitive" has a negative implication, suggesting something crude, inferior, or undeveloped. "Primal" carries with it a sense of raw natural power but not intellectual sophistication. Both of these terms perpetuate negative stereotypes about indigenous peoples.

Third, the supposedly "primitive" nature of indigenous peoples and their religions was used as an excuse by European settlers to steal land, destroy families, force conversions, and perpetrate many of the other horrors of imperialist rule.

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