Religious Traditions and History

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Religious Traditions and History

Thomas Lee

History 233

February 2, 2013

Introduction to the Beginnings of Religion

Religion is a staple of life in all countries of the world. There are many types of religious

beliefs. This paper will attempt to piece together the different beliefs at various times of history

and what the motivation behind each one was. Today’s religions weren’t always about the

afterlife. The author, Kevin Reilly put it best when he said: “By what appears to be a remarkable

coincidence, a number of the world’s great traditions turned to the goal of salvation or escape

from the world at about the same time.” It was not always this way. There were religions that

dealt with the worldly endeavors such as, being a good person or helping your elders. According

to this belief system your stay on earth would be greatly enhanced if you followed these basic

tenets. Some of the world’s great religions were started for one simple reason and evolved into

the complex organisms that is prevalent today. There seems to be a distinct break between

salvation religions and the more philosophical disciplines such as Confucianism.

Religion and science will be examined. It seems that there was a big change in the West

around the 16th century. The East didn’t embrace this philosophy.

The Beginnings of Religion

Polytheism, the belief in many gods, is perhaps the oldest known religion. The best known example is the Greek/Roman mythology, which included Zeus, Apollo, and Aphrodite, among others. One trait that is true of most Polytheistic sects is that there is a god that is above all others. “All African religions are monolithic in the sense that there is a single High God, who is said to be the creator of the world, and of mankind, and a central source of order and of whoever sense is to be found.” Another example would be Zeus. Most ancient societies believed in gods that were in charge of specific areas, such as rain, fertility, and a god of nature. These types of societies cooperate with nature. This doesn’t mean that all Polytheistic societies revered the natural world. The Romans exploited the natural resources of their surroundings. One common thread in most of these societies is that, compared to other religions, Polytheism is much more tolerant with the individual. Hinduism and Polytheism

Hinduism is a religion founded in India around 1000 B.C. The religions practice a form of Polytheism. This religion doesn’t believe in one form of a god. They believe in the authority of the Vedas and Brahmans. These fundamental beliefs differentiate Hinduism from monotheistic, believing in one god, and most of the world’s major religions. There are many different gods in the Hindu religion. The most common are Ganesha, Shiva, Hanuman, Durga, and Lakshmi. What developed was a caste or class system called ‘varnas’. The different castes were assigned a task that was fitting for their class. “The expansion of towns brought about an increase in the number of artisans who were organized in guilds (shreni).” This system was good for commercial activities. The main goals of Hinduism are life-affirming goals of Dharma (virtue), Artha (success) and Kama (pleasure), while the life-negating goal is that of moksha (release). All except moksha can be done in any part of a person’s life. Confucianism and Buddhism

People think that Confucianism and Buddhism are one and the same. Confucianism, which originated in China, teaches honesty, kindness, respect the earth, and good moral character. Confucius had a distain about gods and spirits and preferred to try to understand man. “Confucius (the Master) is more correctly Kong Qiu or Kong Fuzi (551-479 B.C.). He was the founder of a way of life, philosophy, or religion named Confucianism after a Latinized form of the...
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