* The best way to view this graphic is by clicking on the picture and then selecting the ‘Full Screen’ option at the top right hand corner of the image *
Since the dawn of mankind, humans have tried to make sense of their world, especially when faced with unknown phenomena such as 'what causes storms', 'what happens to us after we die', and 'why to the planets move through the night sky'?
As homo-sapiens developed the ability for cognitive thought, so too did the first signs of religion seem to arise. The earliest evidence of a religious practice can be traced back 300,000 years ago when we began to bury our dead. Although we cannot define this as the origin of faith, it does suggest that at the dawn of humanity, we had begun to consider some kind of afterlife.
Over time, this religious practice gave rise to a new ideology which spread across the continents, known today as ‘Animism’. This emerging faith was the root belief system that would evolve and branch out into numerous other ideologies all over the world. The journey of these evolving religions can be broken down into five core stages:
• Stage 1: Animism (100,000 BCE – Present)
Humans began to believe that natural constructs (e.g. plants, animals, rocks and wind) possessed a spiritual essence. These spirit entities were believed to have powers and temperaments that influenced our everyday world. By worshiping these divine beings, it was believed we could maintain harmony with this spirit world and gain favors from them.
• Stage 2: Polytheism (5,500 BCE – Present)
The roots of Polytheism seem to lie in the Proto-Indo-European traditions. It seems likely the generation of new Gods were adopted from the nature spirits of the old world (giving abstract beings of thunder and Earth a more human form). During the Neolithic revolution, civilisations began to emerge requiring new areas of expertise (e.g. lawmaking, metallurgy, agriculture and commerce). It was the Indo-European Gods who took on the role of guide and leader to the civilised world.
Typically these divine beings were divided into several classes, overseeing the heavens, the mortal realm and the underworld. Each deity possessed their own powers, religious practice and domain (e.g. trading, diplomacy, warcraft etc). Man could either worship one or all of these beings, gaining favor from them via offerings, prayer and even sacrifice.
• Stage 3: Monotheism (1348 BCE – Present)
In the Bronze Age, a new movement took shape that prioritised one God over all other deities. This system is known as Monotheism - a belief in one supreme being. In 1348 BCE, the pharaoh Akhenaten, raised a lesser known God called 'Aten' to supreme status, downplaying the role of all other Egyptian deities. A little later in Iran, Zoroaster (a Persian priest) claimed 'Ahura Mazda' to be the one supreme deity. This newly emerging system posited that one creator god had formed the known universe, and was totally self-sufficient, capable of ruling over all other domains. This idea became prominent in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism.
Most monotheistic systems tend to be exclusive in nature, which meant the gods of the Old world had to be purged from mans consciousness. As a consequence, monotheistic religions displayed less religious tolerance than polytheistic religions, resulting in many wars and political disputes.
• Stage 4: Philosophy (585 BCE – Present)
During the Iron Age, many scholars began to question the faith systems of their day. Rather than accepting a religious view as the definitive answer to reality, they began to question the nature of the divine. These probing minds inspired a philosophical movement that swept throughout the old world (often ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras). Great thinkers like Lao Tzu, Epicurus, Confucius and Hypatia were in pursuit of the ultimate, spiritual truth which included a desire to understand the laws behind reality.
What set these philosophers apart from other religious systems was the fact that they emphasised the use of reason and critical thinking over faith. In philosophy, something is considered true only if it is completely proven true on a long term basis by means of reasoning. If not, then it can not be considered the ultimate truth.
However, the Biblical worldview held sway for over a thousand years, ridiculing many philosophical truths as bordering upon blasphemy. Copernicus and Galileo the two foremost casualties of theological interference, with Galileo placed under house arrest by the notorious Inquisition. But all this was soon to change.
• Stage 5: Scientific Revolution (1600 CE – Present)
Over many centuries, philosophical questioning and testing gave rise to a new movement - known as the scientific revolution. A school of scientists believed that reality should be allowed to speak for itself, removing the subjectivity of human imagination and superstition.
The basic procedure of the scientific method was to explain a phenomenon using a hypotheses, and then designing a series of experiments to test this hypotheses. By repeating these tests, the validity of this theory would be revealed (determining it as either fact or fallacy). Such tests have given humanity an objective and profound insight into the workings of the universe.
This radical ideology quickly spread across Europe and the America's, introducing new perspectives on the natural world and man's place in it. The scientific revolution challenged ideas grounded in tradition and faith, promoting healthy skepticism and reasoning.
It opposed superstition and religious intolerance, making a long-term impact on the culture, politics, and governments of the Western world. It is considered the best method for making useful and practical additions to human knowledge about the physical world, and has resulted in the technological leaps made since it developed in the 1600's. This includes:
* Copernicus updating of the heliocentric model by replacing the Earth with the sun as center of the known universe.
* Isaac Newton's law of gravity which explained the elliptical orbits of the planets.
* Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, which explained that all living things in the world evolved from a common ancestor in the distant past.
About this Blogsphere:This blogsphere attempts to capture, catalog and share resources relating to visual perception of information. It is about a world mostly dealing with Physical (Touch, Taste, See/Sight, Smell and Hear) and sometimes Metaphysical (and that is none-of-the-above category). Physical, for instance, touch (e.g., feel, felt, found), look and visualization, is here with an attempt to combine verbal, vocal and visual--to synchronously see, hear, share and do much more. Interestingly, in order to visualize one does not need special skills, competencies, etc. It is all about common sense, especially with human visualizations. In short, "information is in the eye of the beholder." Continue reading much more all-ado-about this Blogosphere
May 05, 2014
Map of World's Evolutionary Tree of Myth and Religion ... by Simon E Davies, The Human Odyssey
Note about this Infographic: * "A wonderful Map of World Mythology from Simon. There are still some corrections to be made and will be brought out in the next version." Mythology *