Without a shadow of a doubt, any middle school graduate who took basic history can see the binding influence of religion on early human society. Several thousands of years ago, human beings had tons of questions, all with very elusive answers due to a lack of scientific understanding. These most basic questions included things like:
- What are we?
- Where did we come from?
- Why are we here?
- How did we get here?
- Are we alone?
Over 10 thousand years ago, our early ancestors looked up at the clear night sky that contained a breathtaking portrait of vibrantly glowing stars, and felt perplexed over the purpose for their simple existence. Somewhere along the line, this confusion led to the creation of deities, spirits, and gods, which early people used to answer their questions. As creepy as it may sound, submission is an inescapable characteristic of human nature, and is a subconscious feeling that human beings naturally find comfort in. By forming the idea of a dominant “god” figure, early humans could compensate for their lack of understanding as well as help answer the many other questions people harbored about their own existence. To the our stubborn, simple minded ancestors, these deities became controlling figures in early society.
Civilization and Early Religion
As thousands of years passed and human development progressed, religion grew from being a method to answer seemingly unexplainable questions, to a way of life. While human beings continued their evolutionary path, beginning to form large cities and civilizations, religion simultaneously intertwined with the culture and ruling of each society. To ancient civilizations, the system used to rule over the masses of people needed some other sort of powerful aspect, rather than a single person claiming dominance.
By introducing religion in to the governing of civilizations, the leaders could claim divine power from the gods, and based their rule off of the fear of the gods by their subjects. To early people, all of the unexplained natural catastrophes from plagues to floods were easily explained as their “god’s wrath.” By using this easy explanation, humans of early society learned to fear these divine creators—the deities who gave them life could just as easily take it away. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Mayans, Aztecs, etc., depended on their people’s fearful relationship with their gods in order to maintain rule. Religion grew from an answer, to a lifestyle, and eventually to a system of control. Even today we see the effects of religious control in governments around the world, and whether or not it is a good thing, is up to each person to decide for themselves.
Aspiring philosopher, rebellious college student, and personal blogger at trueexistence.com.