European, Indian, and Asian Changing Nature of Religious Beliefs From Pre-History to 1500CE

Religion has taken a number of shapes and attitudes since the first Neanderthals started burying their dead because they had compassion for their close members when they died.

Archeological records show that as early as 300 millennium BCE, the hominids had started to bury their dead in a ceremonial way. This indicates that these early humans had religious beliefs about the sanctity of life and probably even about life after death. Archeological records show that burial of dead ones was done in belief that there was life after death and that it was therefore to prepare the dead for their life after death. This belief was epitomized in Egypt some 5000 years BCE and the famous pyramids were made as burial points for pharaohs in order to prepare them for their afterlife.

While religion began in these humble ways, it later become a complex institution and became differentiated in across many cultures across the world. By the 100th century BCE, religion was now taking complex shapes. This came as civilizations across the world emerged. Kingdoms, cities and organized states emerged and all these civilizations were created around religion. In fact, in many civilizations, political power was presided by religious prestige and those who had a place in the religious arena had the political power to govern nations and kingdoms. Around the same time, the rapid increase of the population was also another factor that might have led to the increase in organized religion. Religion was used to control civilization and society in order to keep them in check. As population increased in Asia and in Europe, religion became a very important tool for controlling individuals and societies. In India, by 3000 BCE, the god Krishna is believed to have existed during these times. It is during these times that the Hindu religion got its biggest boost. Other Hindu gods and deity were to follow such as the Gurus. The Guru Nanak was the oldest and the first Nanak in the Hindu religion. By until around the first century BCE, the Middle East had known mainly one religion based on the account of the Old Testament. The life of Jesus, the center of Christianity, was around 2nd to 33 BCE. Christianity did not bring a new paradigm in Middle East religion only but also in European religion. During the first and the second century BCE, Christianity had spread widely in Europe, especially due to the fact that the Roman Empire had made travel through the Eurasia region much easier. This led to the declaration of religious tolerance in the Roman Empire by the Edict of Milan.