The Beginning of Western Religion

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posted on Aug, 3 2004 @ 10:22 PM
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Greetings everybody. The following is taken from the first chapter of the "book" given to the students in the Ancient Civilizations class I was in last semester. It describes the reasoning behind the need for gods in the first recorded civilization (the peoples of Mesopotamia). From the surrounding area came the three major western religions still practiced today: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Because of the geographic, religious, and historic connections these three religions have with Mesopotamia, I am no longer a Christian.

NOTE: I DID NOT ORIGINALLY WRITE THIS.
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Religion and Myth in Ancient Mesopotamia

From the earliest times of which we have any record, people have attempted to understand, explain and influence the world in which we live. In our own time, such attempts predominately take the form of science which reduces experience and observation to objective, impersonal mathematical or rational "laws", ie. governing principles which are always and everywhere true, and which can be verified through repeated observations and experiments. The underlying assumption of the scientific approach is that the universe is an orderly, logical thing, which is even mathematical in nature.

Ancient peoples were not aware of the possibilities of scientific thought. Neither, however, were they totally lacking of a belief that some kind of sense could be made of the often bewildering world in which they lived. Their most common mode of thinking about the world around them took the form which the late scholar, Henri Frankfort, has called "speculation", a kind of thinking which is intuitive, subjective, and deeply charged with emotion, ie. almost the exact opposite of scientific thought, but with the same goal of reducing natural phenomena to some kind of sense. Ancient thought was not restrained by the rules of evidence and proof which control modern science, and was therefor free to make free use of imagination to provide explanations.

The ancients did not distinguish man from nature; man was always apart of society, society was always part of the whole natural order, the natural order was part of the greater universe which was controlled by forces which were personal and "alive". For moderns, the universe, in keeping with scientific method, is conceived as a thing, devoid of personality or animation. By contrast, for the ancients the world is endowed with personality and feelings, just like his own. Every event in nature was believed to be the result of the behavior of an individual personality, who differed from humans only by being more powerful and immortal. As a result the attempts to explain those events took the form of freely created stories about those superhuman beings which we call myths (from the Greek muthos). All ancient peoples civilizations are mythopoeic ie. makers of myths. Nor were these myths merely fanciful tales about "gods" told merely for the sake of entertainment. Rather they were deeply serious efforts to give meaning to real experience; everything in their world was interpreted mythically, in fact, nothing had meaning or purpose except through myths. Take them away and you would have reduced the life of ancient and primitive peoples to hopeless chaos. For this reason modern scholars give serious attention to stories which were once considered to have little value beyond that of entertainment. They provide valuable information about real life. Civilization in ancient Sumer was essentially religious. Everything was understood in terms of "the Black-headed People's" relationship to the gods. Any study of their society necessarily begins with the discussion of religious beliefs, which is to say mythology. Unfortunately, the documents which have survived, or been discovered, are damaged and fragmentary. Scholars are often forced to rely upon later Babylonian and Assyrian versions. Since later civilizations were very dependant upon Sumerian creations, the end result is a reasonably satisfactory reconstruction.

Sumerian Cosmology
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MORE TO COME, THIS IS GOING TO TAKE A WHILE TO TYPE UP.

[Edited on 8/4/04 by xenophanes85]




posted on Aug, 4 2004 @ 06:56 AM
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Very interesting it reads like something I have read before, one of the reason for religion is that ancient man when became aware of consciousness needed to find and understanding of his role in earth as a human, men knew he was different from other species and found out that it was special and it needed to come to terms of his reason to be alive and his role as a human.

In order to do that it had to find a link with a higher being and that how the gods came to be, because it could not find the link on earth it turn to the sky or heavens to find that link.



posted on Aug, 4 2004 @ 11:43 AM
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Hm, I hope this little peice of writing isn't our reason for not being a christian. Remember, he's speaking in theory. He doesn't really know why they created God's, which makes alot of sense none-the-less. Just because that was their motivation for believing, doesn't mean that there isn't a God. The Romans were doing fine before christianity came along. They could easily have survived, but people still brought Christianity into the picture and it's now one of the largest religions in the world. "Religion is man made, faith is real" that is what my history teacher used to say alot. It makes sense. You could also substitute faith for God. It's a book, just like the bible.



 
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