What Does It Mean Religion to Humankind


Religion (from the Latin Religio, meaning ‘restraint’, or Relegere, according to Cicero, meaning ‘to repeat, to read again’, or, most likely, Religionem, to show respect for what is sacred) is an organized system of beliefs and practices revolving around, or leading to, a transcendent spiritual experience. There is no culture recorded in human history which has not practiced some form of religion.
In ancient times, religion was indistinguishable from what is known as `mythology’ in the present day and consisted of regular rituals based on a belief in higher supernatural entities who created and continued to maintain the world and surrounding cosmos. Theses entities were anthropomorphic and behaved in ways which mirrored the values of the culture closely (as in Egypt) or sometimes engaged in acts antithetical to those values (as one sees with the gods of Greece). Religion, then and now, concerns itself with the spiritual aspect of the human condition, gods and goddesses (or a single personal god or goddess), the creation of the world, a human being’s place in the world, life after death, eternity, and how to escape from suffering in this world or in the next; and every nation has created its own god in its own image and resemblance. The Greek philosopher Xenophanes of Colophon (c. 570-478 BCE) once wrote: 

Mortals suppose that the gods are born and have clothes and voices and shapes like their own. But if oxen, horses and lions had hands or could paint with their hands and fashion works as men do, horses would paint horse-like images of gods and oxen oxen-like ones, and each would fashion bodies like their own. The Ethiopians consider the gods flat-nosed and black; the Thracians blue-eyed and red-haired.

Xenophanes believed there was “one god, among gods and men the greatest, not at all like mortals in body or mind” but he was in the minority. Monotheism did not make sense to the ancient people aside from the visionaries and prophets of Judaism. Most people, at least as far as can be discerned from the written and archaeological record, believed in many gods each of whom had a special sphere of influence. In one’s personal life there is not just one other person who provides for one’s needs; one interacts with many different kinds of people in order to achieve wholeness and maintain a living. In the course of one’s life in the present day one will interact with one’s parents, siblings, teachers, friends, lovers, employers, doctors, gas station attendants, plumbers, politicians, veterenarians and so on. No one single person can fill all these roles or supply all of an individual’s needs – just as it was in ancient times. In this same way, the ancient people felt that no single god could possibly take care of all the needs of an individual. Just as one would not go to a plumber with one’s sick dog, one would not go to a god of war with a problem concerning love. If one were suffering heart break, one went to the goddess of love; if one wanted to win at combat, only then would one consult the god of war. 

THE MANY GODS OF THE RELIGIONS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD FULFILLED THIS FUNCTION AS SPECIALISTS IN THEIR RESPECTIVE AREAS. 

The many gods of the religions of the ancient world fulfilled this function as specialists in their respective areas. In some cultures a certain god or goddess would become so popular that he or she would transcend the cultural understanding of multiplicity and assume a position so powerful and all-encompassing as almost transform a polytheistic culture into henotheism. While polytheism means the worship of many gods, henotheism means the worship of one god in many forms. This shift in understanding was extremely rare in the ancient world and the goddess Isis of Egypt is probably the only example of complete acendancy of a deity from one-among-many to the supreme creator and sustainer of the universe. 

As noted, every ancient culture practiced some form of religion but where religion began cannot be pinpointed with any certainty. The argument over whether Mesopotamian religion inspired that of the Egyptians has gone on for over a century now and is no closer to being resolved than when it began. It is most probable that every culture developed its own belief in supernatural entities to explain natural phenomenon (day and night, the seasons) or to help make sense of their lives and the uncertain state humans find themselves in daily. While it may be an interesting exercise in cultural exchange to attempt tracing the origins of religion, it does not seem a very worthwhile use of one’s time when it seems fairly clear that the religious impulse is simply a part of the human condition and different cultures in different parts of the world could have come to the same conclusions about the meaning of life independently. 

all religion comes from Egypt…and black spirituality your budda your muhammad your jesus all learned from egypt… and egypt was all black…. its original name Khemet means Blackness… if you dont study than its your own fault… but to deny truth only creates disillusion . you pick your struggle. the truth is is egypt. the truth is in blackness… thats where we all come from. thats where life started in africa…. if you dont know this then youve been miss informed…nature is God… wake up.