Evidence That Early Humans Were Religious (Essay Sample)
Some scholars argue that early or prehistoric humans were religious.
1. What are the names and dates of these early humans?
2. Name and explain three kinds/types of archeological evidence that lead scholars to assert that early humans were religious. In other words, how may each kind/type of evidence be interpreted as constituting religious behavior or belief?
3. What is one reason to believe this hypothesis is correct, AND what is one reason to doubt this hypothesis?
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Evidence That Early Humans Were Religious
The question of why and how humans became religious is still a mystery. There is a need first to understand prehistorical humans and what the tern religion means, as that would help bridge this gap of understanding. The question of whether early humans were religious lies in the archaeological evidence and theories associated with these stages of evolution. The evidence that early beings were religious lies in the animistic theory that attributes religion to primitive cultures, the nature-worship theory where early humans understood the forces of nature, the belief that religion is old as humankind, and the existence of rituals such as death rites since prehistoric times.
Evidence That Early Humans Were Religious
Livingston (2009) states that religion is a practice used interchangeably with ritual behaviors integrated into humans' lives. This religion-cum-rituals include propitiation, death rights, and conciliating powers. With a lack of a standard description, different authors and philosophers have coined varying assertions that can also be used to enhance the understanding of religion. For example, John Hick describes religion as an awareness of a reality and world transcendence characterized by a supreme being. Immanuel Kant refers to it as recognizing humans and their duties as divine commands. These behaviors and activities are associated with faith in an imaginary being.
With this understanding, two critical theories hint at an increased possibility that ancient humans (Homo Sapiens and Homo Erectus) were religious. First is the animistic theory, which talks of the origin of religion from primitive cultures. Homo habilis, in this regard, are some of the primitive species of human beings. However, due to the high degree of primitivity, the religious practice among this population was not manifested, and this is what researchers regard as "basic religion." Basic religion refers to all religions not preserved in written form, as there was no known form of writing in prehistoric times (Hopfe & Woodward, 2009).
The second theory that proves ancient humans were religious is the nature-worship theory. Developed by Max Muller between 1823 and 1900, this theory asserts that ancient people were religious as they understood the forces of nature, including tides, seasons, and moon faces, and living by these forces was a way of worship. Ancient humans were hunters and gatherers, which means that they conversed with the changing nature, climate, and seasonality and thus knew when best to hunt or gather (Hopfe & Woodward, 2009). And since the era was characterized by high primitivity, the religion type in this regard was basic and thus undocumented, but through this theory, it did exist.
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