A History of Religion
Learning Team B: Nikki Gibbs, Antonio Rodney, Deborah Saude, Dan Hugo, David Sullivan
University of Phoenix
History of Western Civilization to the Middle Ages
June 20, 2009
A History of Religion
When humans first became religious is unknown. What we do know is that religion has grown from carvings of rocks and paintings on cave walls into vast libraries of knowledge and magnificent structures of spiritual worship. We have gone from worshiping our ancestors to worshiping powerful deities and nature. Your beliefs have much to do with your personal history. Your ancestry, the culture that you live in, your family heritage, all of these may play a great part in your belief structure. There are many types of religion from Christianity to Islam to Buddhism and Judaism. There are different forms of religion such as ecclesiolatry, geolatry, hierolatry and iconolatry. History has proven that religion has been the cause of much strife and yet much elation. The acts of conquest, trade, and massacre, all of these actions done in the name of religion. Religion has evolved as we have evolved. Like some cultures, some religions have risen in a frenzy of celebrated power, only to fade away in a blaze of glory. Some religions have lived though endless scrutiny and persecution only to rise into empires of vast wealth and power, challenged by none. Take into consideration the Christians, which we study later in this essay. Their perseverance and dedication through vast years of persecution and humiliation at the hands of the early Roman Empire, only later to be embraced by that same power. What caused these great happenings? What draws us to these religions, only to so quickly run from them and turn to another? How do religions evolve with the times to keep their followers content? Here, we look at some examples of but a few religions known to man, and the impacts they have had over humankind.
Celtic Religion and Reformation
When one thinks of the Celtic Religions, the terms that come to mind tend to be ‘druid’ or ‘human sacrifice’. Is this so far from the truth? Pliny the Elder, a Roman commander, thought that the name "Druid" was a Greek appellation derived from the Druidic cult of the oak (MacCulloch, 1911). There is no doubt that the Druids were involved in tree worship (which was indeed common throughout Europe) and that oaks were the favorite trees in northern climes for this worship. It could be that the Druids, called such because they represented the "firm" and "strong" principles of their faith. They were in fact the highest religious authorities among the Celts. Now almost all tribes have full or part time healers, who use both herbs and magic. Frequently they will also have seers and weather predictors/controllers. Midwives, usually female, are also common, and there is frequently a priest and or priestess working at least part time. What causes confusion, especially when dealing with extinct cultures, is that many tribes combine these various offices into different people. Sometimes the healers will be the midwives; sometimes the healers will not be midwives but will be seers. When Rome started pushing into Gaul, Roman writers recorded the tales of human sacrifices and metempsychosis beliefs of the people’s there and their druids. This used as Rome’s excuse for their atrocities towards the people of Gaul, and the ultimate conquest of Rome over these people. The process of Christianization intensified following the legalization of the religion under Constantine in the 4th century, and its promotion by subsequent Christian emperors. In 407, the Empire withdrew its legions from the province to defend Italy from Visigothic attack. The city of Rome sacked in 410, and the legions did not...