The Roots of Religion
“Who was the first great Prophet? When was religion born? Did God speak to primitive forms of humans? Are all revealed religions really one long chain? If you’ve ever wondered any of these things, you will enjoy Ancient Ways.”
It is a beautiful winter’s day here in the Pacific Northwest. Similar to the ones I knew in my early years back in the mountains of Colorado. Lots of snow, the wind, and subzero temperatures.
My grandson AJ is beside me listening to “Sounds of Silence” by disturbed. It is his favorite song, as it was for me back in the ‘60s. His little brother Asher just came into the room and gave me a sweet hug for no particular reason. That made it all the sweeter.
So, it is a perfect day for musing. My mind turns to the direction of humanity and God. I know I’ve asked before – how far back in human development does religion reach?
Many would say that animism, ancestor worship, magic and ritual came first. Then rather recently, belief in one God arose; some would say with Moses or Christ. That sort of thinking was taught to me in my Anthropology training.
But now I think that is the opposite of what happened. I believe that even the very first representatives of Humankind knew a supreme God. Then, over time they added things to the Creator, just as we do today.
I would make a case that Revelation and ritual are opposite ends of a long spectrum – but the opposite of the way my teachers might believe.
Let’s look at Christianity as a sample, though any religion may be used. At first, there was the Bearer of God’s Word. Then there were Apostles and early believers, as well as great enemies. The Apostles spread the Word as revealed by Christ, and told the stories of His teachings. Later it became the state religion and eventually circled the globe. But now it has changed vastly from what it originally was.
There are monasteries, nunneries, temples, churches and missions. There are big investments in real estate, stocks, and TV ministries which accept money. There are dozens of saints, priests, ministers, reverends, and pastors who perform masses, funerals, baptisms, and other rituals.
Christianity, like Hinduism, Judaism, even Buddhism are massive. They run the gamut from God’s Word given to mankind – to plastic and paper charms and trinkets.
Only a tiny portion is the actual teachings which came from the Bearer of the Word of God.
Could we not turn anthropology on its collective ear, and make a case that myth and legend tend to replace religion over time. That humanity has done this time and again. That Revelation and ritual are part of a great process. Not separate independent accidents.
What are your thoughts? Until next time,
Author/Writer, Diane Olsen
( Learn more about my book: Ancient Ways By Diane Olsen Website )
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