BipRoberts

Topics: Christianity, God, Islam Pages: 6 (901 words) Published: November 1, 2014
Question: Choose TWO of the areas below and analyze the developments of major religious & philosophical ideas between 2000 BCE & 600 CE.Be sure to discuss continuities as well as changes.EuropeSouth AsiaMiddle East

Thesis:

The major developments in religion and philosophy in the period 2000 BCE to 600 CE were that religions moved from concrete, polytheistic and localized to abstract, monotheistic and universal. In both the Middle East and Europe, especially after about 500 BCE, there was anincrease in the use of logic, reason, and science to explain some of life’s most basic questions. Throughout the period, people in both regionsremained religious and continued to seek answers to questions such as their existence, afterlife and natural phenomena, but the more complex thesocieties became and the more dissatisfied they became with the polytheistic religions, the more they moved toward monotheism and rationalism.

Beginning:

Religions at the beginning of the period

4

were concrete, local to the culture and polytheistic

3

. Most societies explained natural phenomena andanswered life’s most basic questions through their religion

3

. The development of religion is older in the Middle East than in Europe. The firstsocieties

4

such as the Sumerians believed in many gods and goddesses that were super humans

2

, but had the same characteristics as man. Not havingthe scientific knowledge to explain natural occurrences, these early civilizations explained them through the actions of their gods. Because priests hadknowledge of and access to the gods they were powerful religious and political figures

2

. In Europe, the Greeks and early Romans also worshiped a plethora of gods and goddesses, who were thought to control the heavens, the earth and the underworld

2

. These Gods married, had children, andfought just as humans did

2

. But these early religions did not set out principles for “right conduct.”

2

These religions became inadequate as thesocieties became more complex and there was greater interaction between them.

Changes:

By 500 BCE changes in religion began to occur in both Europe and the Middle East

4

as the first monotheistic religion appeared in the Middle East,and in Europe the Greeks began to develop a philosophy based on rationalism

2. 3

. The Hebrews returned from the Babylonian captivity with a strong belief in a single monotheistic god who was not only the god of the Hebrews, but a single universal god

2

. The Hebrews also were the first to have areligion that set out laws for living one’s life, as in the 10 Commandments

2

. The Persians who were a much larger and more complex empire than theHebrews, also moved toward a religion-Zoroastrianism, which preached about judgment day, free will, and the forces of good and evil

2

. As trade andtravel between civilizations increased there was interaction between different religious groups

1

. Nestorian Christians traveled west across the silk roads attempting to convert those of central Asia

2

. The development of Manichaeism, a syncretic blend of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism andChristianity, in Persia revealed an increasing interaction between religious ideas from different societies

2

. In Greece, Athens was experiencing itsgolden age

2

. To the educated, the polytheistic religion of the past was no longer satisfactory for explaining natural phenomena

1

. Socrates, Plato, andAristotle encourage the use of logic and reason in the search for truth

2

. Early Greek philosophers and Aristotle sought answers to the nature of thingssuch as the elements of the universe. The developments in science continued as Alexander the Greek brought the ideas of the Greeks of Europetogether with the ideas of those in the Middle East. This interaction caused major developments in physics, math and medicine. As the societies became increasingly more complex and there...
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