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Author Topic: Which is the oldest religion in the world?  (Read 3721 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: August 30, 2011, 12:00:23 AM »

Theo, I don't think anyone's trying to demean your argument -- but you are coming across somewhat haphazardly.  It's slightly confusing to get what you're trying to say.  If you insist on talking about the circumcision thing, we're going to need to create a separate thread. 

  The fact that other cultures are circumcised doesn't limit the uniqueness of the Jewish claim.  If Abraham were not called out of Babylon, and Joshua did not lead the Israelites across the Jordan then there would be no Christ. 

Jetavan, were you raised Hindu before you found Christianity?

I think I'm being as clear as I could possibly be.

The sign of the covenant (which God used circumcision as a physical display of this covenant) began with Abraham. Hence the foundation of Judaism. Circumcision itself isn't the founding point, but what it represents in relation to God and His decrees is the foundation of Judaism. That is why I said Abraham represents the foundation of Judaism.
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« Reply #46 on: August 30, 2011, 10:40:26 AM »

Just thought I'd add here, that it would be incorrect to call Hinduism a single "religion".  As it's an umbrella term for several different philosophies, or schools of thought that all share a similar pantheon.

In fairness this is common of decentralized pagan belief systems. One doesn't have to look far into the Greek or Roman religion to find completely different understandings of the gods and their acts within the same time period.

Which is why it's a bit odd to call Hinduism the 'oldest religion' (as opposed to debates about whether the Vedas are the oldest recorded religious texts). Hinduism is not a centralized belief system with a pinpointable starting point (like Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, etc). Hinduism is the folk religion of the Indian sub-continent, elements of which are tracable as far back as the Indus-Vally city states and undoubtedly beyond. In that sense it's certainly older than any 'founded religion' where on can point to single historical individual who started it all (whether we know the actual dates of the founder or not). But in that same sense it's not any older than the non-Buddhist parts of the Chinese Religious complex, Shintoism, or Native American relgions (to focus on those that still have active adherents). All of them go back eventually to either the first stirrings of religious thought in early hominids (scientific answer) or humanity's degeneration from the true faith of Adam (Monotheistic answer).
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« Reply #47 on: August 30, 2011, 10:52:17 AM »

It seems to me that the earliest form of religion was the awe people had for God's creation.
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« Reply #48 on: August 30, 2011, 06:06:26 PM »

Just thought I'd add here, that it would be incorrect to call Hinduism a single "religion".  As it's an umbrella term for several different philosophies, or schools of thought that all share a similar pantheon.

In fairness this is common of decentralized pagan belief systems. One doesn't have to look far into the Greek or Roman religion to find completely different understandings of the gods and their acts within the same time period.

Which is why it's a bit odd to call Hinduism the 'oldest religion' (as opposed to debates about whether the Vedas are the oldest recorded religious).
"Hinduism" is more analogous to "the Abrahamic traditions as a whole", than to "Judaism", or "Christianity" or "Islam" in particular. Within the category "Hinduism", which may be called a "mega-religion", there are several large "religions" that are rather analogous to any one Abrahamic faith: Vaishnava (the tradition centered on Vishnu); Shaiva (Shiva-centered); Shakta (Shakti-centered); and so forth.

Within each of these religions, there are well-defined traditions, or "sampradayas", each with its own lineage of gurus, sacred scripture, and practices. Within the Shaiva religion, there are Shaiva Siddhanta, Vira Shaiva, Kashmir Shaiva, and so on. Vira Shaiva, for instance, was founded by the 12th-century brahmin, Basavanna. Shaiva Siddhanta's first guru was Nandinatha, c. 250 BC.

It's the sampradayas (not the larger religions) that are usually traceable to one single founder, who received a revelation-insight from the Divine, so one could argue that it is the sampradaya, like Shaiva Siddhanta, (and not the larger religion in which it exists, like Shaiva) that is in fact analogous to any one Abrahamic religion.
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« Reply #49 on: September 21, 2011, 03:35:43 PM »

Disregarding sentimentalities and approaching the original question from a purely historical perspective, it is clear that the oldest is the Egyptian pagan beliefs that go back as far as 4000 BC. Thus Egyptian paganism is both the oldest and longest surviving religion. However Judaism is the oldest surviving religion.
PS. Zoroaster lived around 7th century BC.
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« Reply #50 on: September 21, 2011, 03:38:23 PM »

I'm gonna say that Sumerian religion lasted as long or longer than Egyptian religion; both underwent many transformations over those 4000 years so any real continuity is a mere facade. Of course, neither were the first religion. Our immediate pre-human ancestors surely had some form of religion anyway.

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« Reply #51 on: September 21, 2011, 03:41:56 PM »

PS. Zoroaster lived around 7th century BC.
Current scholarship accepts a date around 1100 BC, due to linguistic and other evidence. Seventh century is much too recent.
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« Reply #52 on: September 21, 2011, 03:55:12 PM »

i agree somewhat, but Mesopotamian religion in general was very inconsistent as each kingdom displaced and destroyed its predecessor, allowing no room for continuity . whereas the Egyptian Pantheon remained almost unchanged until 520 AD when Justinian destroyed the last Egyptian temple. the important thing here is that apart from periodic invasions and the likes, Egypt remained relatively stable and more importantly UNITED and this reflected on its religious continuations. whereas Mesopotamia was divided into small kingdoms, so that when one is defeated its religious legacy is annihilated in favor of a new one.

i used mesopotamia to refer to all the civilizations in the region as the kingdom of Sumer was not long-lasting and neither was its religion.
the Egyptian Pantheon on the other-hand remained the same. Isis, Osiris, Ra, etc were worshipped until very late in the Roman period.

whilst i do agree with you regarding a proto-religion, the lack of evidence of a unified religion raises questions regarding the validity of the claim as well as rousing argument regarding what can be qualified as religion.

God bless.

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« Reply #53 on: September 21, 2011, 03:59:05 PM »

Current scholarship accepts a date around 1100 BC, due to linguistic and other evidence. Seventh century is much too recent.
[/quote]

in any case, Zoroastrianism can not compare in age or longevity to any other religion as it is younger than Egyptian and Mesopotamian paganism and whilst it is still alive today, it is still younger and by extent has a shorter lifespan to judaism.

God bless.
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« Reply #54 on: September 21, 2011, 04:06:04 PM »

....the Egyptian Pantheon on the other-hand remained the same. Isis, Osiris, Ra, etc were worshipped until very late in the Roman period.
Don't forget the Indus-Gangetic Cultures. Veneration of Shiva is evidenced as occurring as early as 2000 BC, in the Mohenjo-Daro culture, and it continues into the present. (There's also evidence that the Celtic Deity Cernunnos derives from a proto-Shiva figure.)
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« Reply #55 on: September 21, 2011, 04:17:54 PM »

the Egyptian Pantheon remained almost unchanged until 520 AD when Justinian destroyed the last Egyptian temple.
I think that's kind of simplistic. Ptolemaic Egyptian religion was heavily modified.

i used mesopotamia to refer to all the civilizations in the region as the kingdom of Sumer was not long-lasting and neither was its religion.

...Mesopotamia was divided into small kingdoms, so that when one is defeated its religious legacy is annihilated in favor of a new one.
Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Neo-Babylonian religion were all inheritors of Sumerian religion, which existed in some form before the invention of writing, in the Ubaid period (6500-5300 BC). You find mostly the same deities worshiped in each culture with a few additions here and there.
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« Reply #56 on: September 21, 2011, 04:19:00 PM »

....the Egyptian Pantheon on the other-hand remained the same. Isis, Osiris, Ra, etc were worshipped until very late in the Roman period.
Don't forget the Indus-Gangetic Cultures. Veneration of Shiva is evidenced as occurring as early as 2000 BC, in the Mohenjo-Daro culture, and it continues into the present. (There's also evidence that the Celtic Deity Cernunnos derives from a proto-Shiva figure.)
You have to be careful with claims like this, as indian nationalist pseudoscholars always push all the indian dates back too far. We don't know that the creatures on Harappan stamps were proto-shivas.
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« Reply #57 on: September 21, 2011, 04:24:16 PM »

Quote
Timeline

300,000 years ago – first (disputed) evidence of intentional burial of the dead. Sites such as Atapuerca in Spain, which has bones of over 32 individuals in a pit within a cave.[23]
130,000 years ago – Earliest undisputed evidence for intentional burial. Neanderthals bury their dead at sites such as Krapina in Croatia.[23]
100,000 years ago – The oldest known ritual burial of modern humans at Qafzeh in Israel: a double burial of what is thought to be a mother and child. The bones have been stained with red ochre. By 100,000 years ago anatomically modern humans migrated to the middle east from Africa. However the fossil record of these humans ends after 100kya, leading scholars to believe that population either died out or returned to Africa.[24][25]
100,000 to 50,000 years ago – Increased use of red ochre at several Middle Stone Age sites. Red Ochre is thought to have played an important role in ritual.
50,000 years ago – Humans have evolved the traits associated with modern human behavior. Much of the evidence comes from Late Stone Age sites in Africa. Modern human behavior includes abilities such as modern language, abstract thought, symbolism and religion.[25]
42,000 years ago – Ritual burial of a man at Lake Mungo in Australia. The body is sprinkled with copious amounts of red ochre - seen as evidence that the Australians had brought along with them religious rituals from Africa.
40,000 years ago – Upper Paleolithic begins in Europe. An abundance of fossil evidence includes elaborate burials of the dead, Venus figurines and cave art. Venus figurines are thought to represent fertility goddesses. The cave paintings at Chauvet and Lascaux are believed to represent religious thought.
30,000 years ago – Earliest known burial of a shaman.[15]
11,000 years ago – The Neolithic Revolution begins.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_Religion

Quote
Intentional burial, particularly with grave goods may be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice (the onset of burial itself being a canonical indicator of behavioral modernity) since, as Philip Lieberman suggests, it may signify a "concern for the dead that transcends daily life."[1]
A number of archeologists propose that Middle Paleolithic societies such as Neanderthal societies may also have practiced the earliest form of totemism or animal worship. Emil Bächler in particular suggests (based on archeological evidence from Middle Paleolithic caves) that a widespread Middle Paleolithic Neanderthal bear cult existed (Wunn, 2000, p. 434-435).
(...)The early Bronze Age Proto-Indo-European religion (itself reconstructed), and the attested early Semitic gods, are presumed continuations of certain traditions of the late Neolithic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistoric_religion

The oldest religions therefore started with ritualistic burial and animal worship. Both suggesting a newly discovered respect for human beings (they can't simply be disposed of) and a glimpse of transcedense in nature. The Semitic Gods, in whose context Abrahan would come to clarify his understanding of God, are the natural development of the Neolithic religions.

So, if we put together the points, religion is a convoluted but fierce strugle towards the Revelation of Christ.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 04:30:00 PM by Fabio Leite » Logged

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« Reply #58 on: September 21, 2011, 04:29:50 PM »

i disagree,
Ptolmy and his successors NEEDED the support of the priesthood so they only made minor administrative adjustments in relations to funding, and not religious dogma or practice, in effect the only major changes were the introduction of Serapis to appease the Alexandrine greeks. the same can't be said of Sumerian religion as their deities were related to cities and kingdoms, so when a kingdom is destroyed so is its religion, some deities are assimilated but this DOES NOT show, justify or prove continuity as the deities were added to by late kingdoms. so all in all, Egypt remained a single unity, and this ensured the pantheon was not overthrown, whilst the divisions within mesopotamia ensured that no single religious belief can achieve continuity.

God bless.
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« Reply #59 on: September 21, 2011, 04:33:23 PM »

Quote
Timeline

300,000 years ago – first (disputed) evidence of intentional burial of the dead. Sites such as Atapuerca in Spain, which has bones of over 32 individuals in a pit within a cave.[23]
130,000 years ago – Earliest undisputed evidence for intentional burial. Neanderthals bury their dead at sites such as Krapina in Croatia.[23]
100,000 years ago – The oldest known ritual burial of modern humans at Qafzeh in Israel: a double burial of what is thought to be a mother and child. The bones have been stained with red ochre. By 100,000 years ago anatomically modern humans migrated to the middle east from Africa. However the fossil record of these humans ends after 100kya, leading scholars to believe that population either died out or returned to Africa.[24][25]
100,000 to 50,000 years ago – Increased use of red ochre at several Middle Stone Age sites. Red Ochre is thought to have played an important role in ritual.
50,000 years ago – Humans have evolved the traits associated with modern human behavior. Much of the evidence comes from Late Stone Age sites in Africa. Modern human behavior includes abilities such as modern language, abstract thought, symbolism and religion.[25]
42,000 years ago – Ritual burial of a man at Lake Mungo in Australia. The body is sprinkled with copious amounts of red ochre - seen as evidence that the Australians had brought along with them religious rituals from Africa.
40,000 years ago – Upper Paleolithic begins in Europe. An abundance of fossil evidence includes elaborate burials of the dead, Venus figurines and cave art. Venus figurines are thought to represent fertility goddesses. The cave paintings at Chauvet and Lascaux are believed to represent religious thought.
30,000 years ago – Earliest known burial of a shaman.[15]
11,000 years ago – The Neolithic Revolution begins.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_Religion

Quote
Intentional burial, particularly with grave goods may be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice (the onset of burial itself being a canonical indicator of behavioral modernity) since, as Philip Lieberman suggests, it may signify a "concern for the dead that transcends daily life."[1]
A number of archeologists propose that Middle Paleolithic societies such as Neanderthal societies may also have practiced the earliest form of totemism or animal worship. Emil Bächler in particular suggests (based on archeological evidence from Middle Paleolithic caves) that a widespread Middle Paleolithic Neanderthal bear cult existed (Wunn, 2000, p. 434-435).
(...)The early Bronze Age Proto-Indo-European religion (itself reconstructed), and the attested early Semitic gods, are presumed continuations of certain traditions of the late Neolithic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistoric_religion

The oldest religions therefore started with ritualistic burial and animal worship. Both suggesting a newly discovered respect for human beings (they can't simply be disposed of) and a glimpse of transcedense in nature. The Semitic Gods, in whose context Abrahan would come to clarify his understanding of God, are the natural development of the Neolithic religions.

So, if we put together the points, religion is a convoluted but fierce strugle towards the Revelation of Christ.
these practices cannot be labelled as a religion; religion is the belief in a superhuman power, the above does not fit. i do however agree with your last sentence, everything leads into the Lord our God, for he is the culmination of the ages, the creator of all things.
God Bless.
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« Reply #60 on: September 21, 2011, 04:50:59 PM »

If they were burying people for believing in afterlife and were assuming animals had supernatural powers, then it was a religion. I know it's controversial though.
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« Reply #61 on: September 21, 2011, 05:05:51 PM »

i disagree,
Ptolmy and his successors NEEDED the support of the priesthood so they only made minor administrative adjustments in relations to funding, and not religious dogma or practice, in effect the only major changes were the introduction of Serapis to appease the Alexandrine greeks. the same can't be said of Sumerian religion as their deities were related to cities and kingdoms, so when a kingdom is destroyed so is its religion, some deities are assimilated but this DOES NOT show, justify or prove continuity as the deities were added to by late kingdoms.
I don't think you know or understand much about the Mesopotamian pantheons. Do you know about how the Egyptian pantheon developed from a bunch of different local animal gods? Was the religion "destroyed" when later Pharaonic powers assimilated them into a pantheon?
« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 05:07:33 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #62 on: September 21, 2011, 05:49:38 PM »

....the Egyptian Pantheon on the other-hand remained the same. Isis, Osiris, Ra, etc were worshipped until very late in the Roman period.
Don't forget the Indus-Gangetic Cultures. Veneration of Shiva is evidenced as occurring as early as 2000 BC, in the Mohenjo-Daro culture, and it continues into the present. (There's also evidence that the Celtic Deity Cernunnos derives from a proto-Shiva figure.)
You have to be careful with claims like this, as indian nationalist pseudoscholars always push all the indian dates back too far. We don't know that the creatures on Harappan stamps were proto-shivas.
2000 BC is a conservative date. Nationalists push it back to 8000 BC, at least.
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« Reply #63 on: September 21, 2011, 05:59:31 PM »

Obviously, the oldest religion is the one practiced by Adam and Eve, so it is 6,000 years old. Give or take. (5501, 5492, etc., according to different authoritative, sound-minded, Godly people who knew what they were talking about - see http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/05/30/how-old-is-earth) If some Hindus or whoever they are out there claim that their Vedas or whatever are 8,000 years old, they should simply read the Bible!
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« Reply #64 on: September 21, 2011, 06:00:19 PM »

Obviously, the oldest religion is the one practiced by Adam and Eve, so it is 6,000 years old. Give or take. (5501, 5492, etc., according to different authoritative, sound-minded, Godly people who knew what they were talking about - see http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/05/30/how-old-is-earth) If some Hindus or whoever they are out there claim that their Vedas or whatever are 8,000 years old, they should simply read the Bible!
LOL.
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« Reply #65 on: September 22, 2011, 05:30:25 AM »

i disagree,
Ptolmy and his successors NEEDED the support of the priesthood so they only made minor administrative adjustments in relations to funding, and not religious dogma or practice, in effect the only major changes were the introduction of Serapis to appease the Alexandrine greeks. the same can't be said of Sumerian religion as their deities were related to cities and kingdoms, so when a kingdom is destroyed so is its religion, some deities are assimilated but this DOES NOT show, justify or prove continuity as the deities were added to by late kingdoms.
I don't think you know or understand much about the Mesopotamian pantheons. Do you know about how the Egyptian pantheon developed from a bunch of different local animal gods? Was the religion "destroyed" when later Pharaonic powers assimilated them into a pantheon?
I am sorry to disappoint you, but i do possess some knowledge of the evolution of Egyptian religion. firstly you misunderstand the Egyptian situation, Egypt was invaded by many nations and barbarians alike. however, none of the invaders left any permanent mark or caused any real change to the corpus of beliefs and religious bearings that the Egyptians held (apart from the muslims). also your scenario regarding the Pharaonic assimilation of local animal gods, is not in anyway analogous to the Sumerian situation, for the following reasons:
1) Egypt with its religion and language, remained united, this meant that no assimilation, change or alteration can occur as the pharaohs did not change the pantheon, they merely expounded and elaborated on the beliefs.
2) Sumer was a kingdom among MANY kingdoms in Mesopotamia, and whilst it was influential on other cultures in the region, it in no way was the benchmark or common culture of the region. Sumer's glory declined greatly in the second millenium BC and this led to the gradual disintegration, if not disassociation of their religion.
3) the religion of Sumer evolved to become anthropocentric. Although this within itself does not constitute a discontinuation within the religion, it had a great influence on causing the fall of Sumerian religion whenever the Sumerian kingdom dissolved. this is because the Gods were related to the cities and towns (ironically the best example comes from the Egyptian Pantheon in the form of the god Ptah being the major deity in Memphis)  this association ensured that when the city was conquered by an invading culture, the god of the city would be forsaken as they were defeated.
4) there is not much evidence to suggest that the religions of mesopotamia were the same. However i would agree that they had a similar basis, this does not mean continuation as Christianity IS a separate religion from Judaism, and Islam is not in continuity with either Judaism or Christianity. this example highlights that whilst sharing a similar foundation, religions that are similar are not in continuity with each other----> directly analogous to the Mesopotamian situation.

Hope you have a nice day Smiley
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« Reply #66 on: September 22, 2011, 07:14:10 AM »

heorhij,
that's what i was trying to say ages ago!
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