Early Religion and Philosophy

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Freshman (College 1st year) ・Philosophy ・MLA

The history of early religions, as well as the philosophy behind their origin and importance in society, is one of the most important lessons I've learned from the reading. It includes practices, beliefs, and rituals that serve as a unifying factor for communities such as Native Americans, who have faced challenges such as poverty, hopelessness, and alcoholism, among other issues. I've also learned about the difficulties faced by scholars and philosophers in conducting early religions research due to a lack of written records about historic practices, philosophies, and thoughts by humans who lived at the time when it all began. Concepts such as divine power, ancestor worship, burying of the dead, self-reflective consciousness, burning of incense, and use of water for baptism are some of the symbols of early religion and its manifestation today.
In addition, I have also learn the difference between non-literacy and intelligence as a description of the prehistoric tribes that practiced early religion. More precisely, I have understood and appreciated that tribal people had not developed the skill of writing since they majorly relied on oral tradition. However, this does not necessarily mean that the lacked intelligence and were primitive. Writing was invented out of necessity during the agricultural era, an era that did not exist during the time of the tribal people. Further, the reading has enlightened me on the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
I have also learnt the concept of cosmic religion that developed as an expression of early religion and can still be observed in society today. It is anchored on a close observation of the natural world and the concept of animism to define religious beliefs. Further, I have learnt about the development of hunting and gathering as a religious concept and the significant changes introduced by the development of agriculture and technology. Further, the reading has enlightened me about the ancient roles of women in society during the early religion and the changing roles that have assumed in society today.

Questions raised from the reading

An important question raised in the reading for me is what can be termed as the beginning of religion. This is because there exists no definite and accurate answer to that question but rather possibilities by scholars and philosophers such as Bishop Codrington. Further, it raises the question as to whether early religion is indeed a primitive and non-intelligent era. This question prompts me to undertake an analysis on the notions of intelligence, knowledge and wisdom in relation to early religion. Other important questions raised for me from the reading are the impact agricultural and technological advancement has had in society today in relation to religion and what can be learnt from early religion to remedy some of the ill practices in society today such as warfare and crime. Also, it raises the question on the place of women in society today as compared to the prehistoric era and whether religion plays a key role in defining their position up to date.

Opinion concerning the reading

I agree with the argument that the idea of describing the era of early religion as primitive is arrogant and misconceived. This is because we fail to acknowledge the fact that advancement in technology does not necessarily make us wiser than the tribal people during the prehistoric times. They were still rational beings who also invented their own ways and practices that enabled their ways to live on such as oral traditions being passed down from one generation to the next. However, I disagree with the notion that writing failed to develop during the prehistoric period because the people chose not too and they had no need. I believe that the technology and ability to develop writing had not been established yet, however, there were traces of its invention evidenced by art and carvings, which can be viewed as a form of early writing.
I agree with the argument that early religion has both positive and negative impacts in shaping the society. This is because religion promoted the idea of love, harmony, support, and hard work especially with the development of agriculture. On the other hand, it introduced inhumane practices such as human sacrifices as well as practices that were harsh to the ecological environment. It also promoted strict conditions on what would be acceptable behavior whether or not it was right and moral. This denied the people the freedom of choice and thought.

My emotional response to the reading

I feel that the reading is based on a biased reasoning that religion and traditional practices are abstract and could probably lack meaning. The paper only focuses on the research and scholarly analysis and reveals a negative attitude on the same. As such, notable that the reading encourages secularism and modernisation in society disregarding the existence of conservative people in existence. I hold this opinion because the reading, for instance, refers to initiation as primitive practices and does not acknowledge the unifying aspect and maintenance of harmony it had for societies. I also feel the reading is of great relevance in awakening people in the 21st century from the clouded and blinded perspectives of materialism, capitalism, and individualism.

Awakening ideas from the essay

In conclusion, there are two important awakening ideas I have identified and learnt from the reading that have significantly impacted on my understanding of early religion and the changes that have occurred over time. First, that with technological advancement and high literacy levels in the 21st century, religion is endangered due to the diverse reasoning and opinions that are influenced by the changes brought by technology. The separation of spirituality and religion will result in an emphasis of how people live and less concentration on people’s beliefs. This would eventually turn the world toady into a competitive place and a materialistic age with weak social and religious organizations thus the need to impart transformation in the coming generations. The society ought to be sensitized on the importance of not being blinded by the advancement brought about by an agricultural and technological change to forget the need to build strong social groups and retain our humanity and moral values.
Second, the idea of a patriarchal society is fading in society and women roles are changing in the current era. Women and men ought to work together and live in peace, love, and harmony other than oppression of women by men in society. Despite the notion of competition and wealth, it is important to learn from some of the practice during the early religion to maintain harmonious and strong relationships today.

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