The Driving Force of Religion In the earliest civilizations of the West, the influence of religion was crucial in establishing key elements of government and developing distinct cultures. Sacred texts showed rules and stipulations to abide by, just to keep the god’s wrath at bay. The world’s greatest temples were built in homage to those gods as thanks from the early peoples, for having shone them the way of righteous living. A god could also dictate where an army waged war and what lands a civilization should conquer in their holy name. The conquests of such wars built strong empires, which allowed the spread and adaptation of the same driving force that made the civilization what it was: religion. For early civilizations, safety was steadily connected with the gods. Failure to appease the higher power led to poor crop yields and natural disasters like floods. In order to please the gods and avoid such catastrophes, rules were founded for a honorable way of life. The first of it’s kind was the Hammurabi Code. The king Hammurabi had his strict laws and punishments written as a way to show Shamash that the king himself was to supply justice in the sun god’s stead. These regulations of behavior are present in the modern world, the Code being the earliest form of capital and corporal punishment. The ancient Egyptians also had set protocol when they dealt with the gods. When one died, their heart was weighed against the feather of truth. If the heart was lighter than the
Religion is a force capable of both strengthening and weakening an empire. It is also a source from which much of the literature, art, and government of the ancient and classic periods sprouted from. It can also be used as a way to form a commonality between two distinct cultures in order to facilitate trade and ensure safety. In Document 1, a missionary was attempting to convert a powerful ruler to the Roman Catholic religion. This may have been done for several reasons, but the most likely reason would be to ease the tensions between the two completely different cultures. Whatever the reason may be, missionaries played an important role in cultural diffusion. Ideas were easily spread to other people through missionaries, but the ideas of others were also seen by the missionaries. Missionaries travel the world with their ideas and come back to their homeland having seen new sights and ideas. Sharing the differences of other cultures with the ruler may result in an inspiration to model certain things in their kingdom, empire, or dynasty after the things that the missionaries have seen in completely diverse parts of the world.
The rise and fall of different civilizations and empires is caused by various social, political, and cultural factors that affect its societies. One of the most important concepts seen in empires are the creation of its culture and its relation to the beliefs of its society. Religion plays an enormous role in understanding the purpose behind the actions of the people in a civilization. Religion and culture are dependent of each other as it reflects the ideas and values that society has agreed upon. As a new urban civilization during 2500 B.C, The Indus Valley Civilization created a sociopolitical system that
Religion in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia played a significant role in developing and organizing the society. Based on the common belief of the world’s divine creation, both civilizations had regular rituals and ceremonies to honor the supernatural beings. In rituals and ceremonies, the cult was expressed as the manifestation of components that symbolized the divine such as the cult images, temples, and shrines. Since religion was an important aspect in the people’s daily lives, it also had an impact on the ruling system in the two civilizations. Even though Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia have similar foundational beliefs about the cult, different cultic practices imply the difference in the structure and the scope of
Ancient societies’ life practices such as Mesopotamia and Egypt are depicted in The Code of Hammurabi translated by Theophile J. Meek and in The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead translated by R. Faulkner. The King of Babylon, Hammurabi himself in 1700 BCE, wrote The Code of Hammurabi containing severe two hundred and eighty two law codes that the whole society was to follow. Similarly to law codes, The Egyptian Book of the Dead was used in the New Kingdom that is around 1550 BCE to around 50 BCE, it also served as a platform way of life emphasizing on the afterlife rather than the present as in The Code of Hammurabi. Both The Code of Hammurabi and The Egyptian Book of the Dead display the consequences of living a just or unjust life in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Although, while in The Code of Hammurabi punishments varied concurring to your social status, unlike in Egypt, where the granting of an afterlife was attainable for all. Ultimately, in both civilizations consequences would arise accordingly on how the masses lived their daily lives, but both The Code of Hammurabi and The Egyptian Book of the Dead provides us with insight on how a each respective society was kept in order.
The past centuries saw a clear distinction between the Western civilization and the non-western culture. The western civilization composed of Greece, Romans, Byzantine Empire, and the European while the non-western civilizations included East Asia, Egypt, Persian Empire, Sassanid Empire, African Societies and Kingdoms, Incas, Mayans, Aztecs, and Mongols. For a long period, the western civilizations prevailed around the world. They influenced, lead and controlled others in various sectors such as medicine, clothing, business orientations, religion, and government. In this paper, I will be affirming my conviction that the western civilizations had unique attributes that made them more powerful than the non-western civilizations. I will also show how the western cultures were influenced by the spread of Christianity, and how the western cultures have maintained their great influence and power over the other societies even in the modern era.
The world of the ancient Near East believed in a creator deity as member within a plethora of deities; that is, there was no supreme being. Within this plethora, each deity held a specific responsibility, representing such matters as order, justice, love, and truth, to name but a few. Among ANE inhabitants, according to Philip J. Nel, “a normative principle of justice was maintained as part and parcel of the created universe. The human life-world and the order of nature were seen as inextricable entwined.” It is not surprising, therefore, how ancient civilizations understood justice to be a concomitant attribute of a deity within a pantheon of deities; a pantheon where members had origins and, in most instances, were familial in nature. According to their understanding of creation, ancient civilizations held views on social and economic justice as a means that would “facilitate the service of the community to the divine world.” Nel observes that, “The principle of justice was . . . not so much regarded as a system of moral order, but rather the assumption of an existing/created autonomous design/order which should be upheld and adhered to in all sectors of society.” The Sumerians, and the Egyptians, serve as examples.
The governing legal, moral and religious codes of ancient civilizations were written and enforced by a minority that exercised power and authority over the majority. This minority consisted of priests, rulers and elites with established power and influence in society. In these codes of early civilizations, there was an overarching emphasis on maintenance of structure and order in society. Simply put, while these codes reflect the conditions, needs and values of the times in which they were formulated, they also unveil the authors’ agendas to preserve their power by maintaining the status quo. Therefore, these codes acknowledge and uphold the prevailing social, gender and racial inequalities as natural conditions of human existence and reveal the manifold biases present in early civilizations.
As civilization has progressed through the ages, many religions have arisen and taken hold around the world, two if the most interesting, being the religious beliefs of the ancient Mesopotamian and the Greeks. These two religions were practiced in different areas and at different times and, therefore, show that religion has played a critical role in every society and civilization. No matter how it is organized or what type of god is worshiped, a society would be nothing without some kind of deity to organize it. In comparing the religious beliefs of the Mesopotamian and the Ancient Greeks religious components highlighted including the style of worship, the temples
A few thousand years ago, three sets of laws were composed that show remarkable similarities in their instructions on how to live a moral and righteous life. Although they were written hundreds of miles apart from each other, and in totally different cultures and civilizations, the Edicts of Ashoka, the Bible, and Hammurabi’s Code all elucidate the moral principles of self-control, justice, and abstention from harming living beings.
The base of civilization is religion; without it, no civilization could advance as much unless they had something to believe in and strive for. From 1000-1500 B.C., civilizations were flowering. They had strong religions, a flourishing economy, a variety of government forms, and a variety of social systems. Civilizations such as the Islamic Empire and the Medieval Empire were becoming stronger and fought against each other in the Crusades. While that was happening, the Vikings were raiding the medieval empire in hopes of becoming alike their war-like gods. Religion was a positive force in developing civilizations because it created stronger governments, closer communities, and new advancements that assisted economically.
Religion can invade, conquer, and rule masses of people far more effectively and efficiently than any empire or conqueror. This is not to spark a heated discussion about religions. Its purpose is, to say that, even though it is highly debatable whether religions are false or true, most of them serve a very basic purpose of establishing morals and values. Early religions were used as a source of power and economic growth. Even if one doesn’t believe in or agree with the teachings of any religion, history shows proof that it creates a sense of order. There are many religions in the past that have brought order and civilized conduct to large numbers of people, not through military conquest, but through the promise of reward or the fear of punishment. Religion is the glue that binds local communities into nationhood and creates common understandings and shared values that are essential to the growth of a civilization. No religion is fully formed at its start, so why did some religion play such a big role in growth of the Ancient Civilizations.
Religion has been a powerful force in human history. Mankind has longed and searched for the answers to its purpose, the reason for being and the possibility of life after physical death. They reasoned that an afterlife would be a place of accounting and reckoning for the life they lived on earth. Religious belief systems seemed to give the answers as to how to prepare for the afterlife. Religion became the means of giving answers to those basic yet deep-seated questions of both life and death. Religion provided a format of rules and laws for conduct and treatment toward others based on the desires and wishes of a god or gods that people envisioned, imagined or invented. Religious belief systems have been a powerful force for good and bad...good in the sense that it provided a measure of individual behavior and order in society for the wellbeing of the whole, but bad in the sense that men of ambition who craved power and control over others would often use religion as a tool of manipulation and fear. A casual glance of history tells us that complete civilizations have been built, grown and maintained around elaborate religious systems, ancient Egypt being a prime example.
Throughout history, religion has proved to be the main source of social stability in different communities and cultural groups. Everything that is part of a societal system, including law, is influenced by religious beliefs and practices of that society. This being said, most religions are based on the theory that there is a single more powerful entity, that has control over aspects of which humans do not. For the longest time in history, sociologists have argued that peer group, political movements, schools and most importantly, the family to be agents of socialization. Because of this reason, they have ignored the role played by religion in the perpetuation of cultural as well as social
In ancient times, it was said that a ruler should behave according to the standards and regulations set forth by the word of God. There was an absolute standard of justice that people had to follow. The ruler or sovereign was taught to act morally in order to be successful and gain spiritual happiness; morality and politics were unified, religion played an important role in the decision making. A ruler had to act accordingly based on the standards and moral ideas of ancient civilizations and the government, this meant, recognizing that there was an absolute right and an absolute wrong. The ruler and society as a whole, in ancient times, were preoccupied with their afterlife and wanting to achieve a better spiritual life by acting