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Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.
The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviors, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural), and/or scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture.

The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place an emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religious community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their laws and cosmology to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group. In many places religion has been associated with public institutions such as education, hospitals, the family, government, and political hierarchies.

Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories:

world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths;

indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and

new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths.

One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Where did all the religions come from?

The question of where is a three fold question:

where did the religions come from historically ????

where did they come from geographically ????

where did they come from philosophically ????

We answer these questions on our religion comparison chart which gives you an “at-a-glance” look at the major religions in the world today and “where” they came from in the threefold sense.

The most ancient records of religion or religious belief were not “recorded” at all but merely passed down via oral tradition from one generation to another. Such is the case with Animism, Judaism, Hinduism, and many of the ancient Chinese religions. When these religions began to record their beliefs, rituals, and practices, we find the oldest recorded religion to be Animism, but the oldest oral tradition to be Judaism, which, like many of the other major world religions, traces its roots back to monotheism or one single God or Deity-creator.

From the flow chart below we can see that there are primarily four main groups or “families” of religious systematic belief:

____Monotheism - from which all religious and non-religious belief migrated

____Animism - The deification of created beings both animate and inanimate

____Polytheism - The belief that there are many gods and goddesses

____Atheism - The absence of belief in any deity of any kind.

A, Timelines: Humanistic v. Christian

1. Atheism puts the founding of primitive religion at the Paleolithic period (2mil –8K B.C.)

2. Christians put Monotheism as the foundation of all religions but as man grew more corrupt he began to worship the crawling, flying, created things instead of the Creator Himself

3. Historical timeline – combination of Atheist and Christian worldviews.

B. The family tree flowchart of Religion

1. All religions flow from a monotheistic faith, the earliest account of belief on record

2. Monotheism gives rise to atheistic, animistic, and polytheistic world views, from which everything else flows.

3. Atheism birthed Taoism, Confucianism, and combined with Hinduism to produce Buddhism. Finally, the atheistic thought and secular humanism of today have really been around since the ancient days and can find many of the ideas of the humanist manifesto among the writings of the ancient Chinese writings of Confucius and Lao Tzu.

4. Animism birthed Shintoism in the far east, paganism of the “barbaric” tribes of Europe, Africa, Asia, the South Pacific Islands and then to North and South America. Animism combined with Polytheism to produce the Pantheism of the Caucaus mountain region. The most famous “son” of this pantheistic people is Hinduism which is primarily practiced in India. Many religions sprang up from Hinduism: Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism (joined with Islam) and todays Baha’i faith all can trace their roots directly or indirectly back to Hinduism.

5. Polytheism produced the Greek and Roman Mythology and the Egyptian and Near Middle East worship of multiple gods and goddesses. Even the Pharaoh was considered a “god” c.f. Caesars of the Roman mythology. Polytheism is mostly a dead belief system except in a very small religion in the Middle East known as Zoroastrianism (supposedly still practiced secretly in Iran to this day).

6. Monotheism was not popular when the man from Ur named Abraham first appeared. However, his family and followers became known as Hebrews who worshipped only one God. This could be called a “restoration” of monotheism if one were to ascribe to the Biblical account of the history of theology (the study of man’s relationship to God) Map of world religions A couple millenia would pass and the Hebrews would become known as Israelites, those of the nation “Israel”, which was a name given to Jacob, the father of the twelve tribal heads that comprised the Mediterranean nation. This nation then was split by civil war, dividing a Northern kingdom, Israel, against the southern kingdom, Judah. The nation was eventually overrun by conquering empires and the ancient belief of Abraham, Moses, and King David was carried on by the Southern Kingdom comprised of the 3 tribes: Levites, Benjamites, and the Judeans. History of Religion timeline Where did religion come from This group became known as the ‘Jews’ and today is known as Judaism. Judaism then gave birth to Christianity and several centuries later, a man named Mohammed combined the two belief systems along with the tribal beliefs of his god “Allah” and created Islam. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are, for the most part, monotheistic faiths (Islam is still debated as to whether or not it is truly a monotheistic world religion in the truest sense of the word.