Early religion :
Ancient people tried to explain the world around them as the work of the gods. They believed that the gods controlled everything in nature and their daily lives, They prayed and made offerings to the gods for the gifts of sun and rain which allowed the plants to grow so that people could survive. From these early prayers and offerings, the idea of organized religion grew, with people sharing their rituals and religious beliefs.
Creation of the world
Many religions explain the creation of the world and everything in it as the work of God, the gods or a supreme being. These beliefs are expressed in creation myths which not only try to explain more about how the world was created but also why it came to be.
Good and evil
Many religions try to explain the nature and presence of good and evil in the world as the work of a good, loving God and a wicked, sinful Devil. But one of the hardest questions for religions to answer is why, if God is good, there is so much suffering in the world. Many people say suffering happens when people turn away from God or they explain suffering as God’s punishment for sin
In the Middle Ages, people believed that if they ted wicked lives, they might be caught and eaten by the Devil
Mesopotamian and Egyptian Religions
Below: a statue of the goddess Ishtar. She is wearing a skirt decorated with fish swimming in a flowing river.
From about 7,000 years ago, two of the world s greatest civilizations developed in the Near East. One flourished in modern-day Iraq, on the fertile flood plains between the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates. This region became known as Mesopotamia, ‘the land between the two rivers’. The other civilization grew in ancient Egypt, along the banks of the River Nile. The people of both civilizations worshipped a large number of gods and goddesses whom they believed controlled all aspects of the universe, nature and everyday life, including the weather, the harvest, birth and death. Among the chief gods of Mesopotamia were Enlil, Lord of the Wind, and his father Anu, Lord of Heaven. In Egypt, the most important god was Ra, the sun god. These ancient peoples believed that it was vital to obey the gods and ensure their happiness, otherwise they might send disasters such as wars, disease and floods as punishment.
Hindu History and Beliefs: Hinduism is one of the world oldest religions, although we have no fixed date for when it began. Its roots reach back roughly 4500 years to the time of the great Indus Valley civilization that flourished along the banks of the River Indus in north-west India (now Pakistan). Archaeologists have discovered many clay figures of gods and goddesses from this time that are similar to those worshipped by Hindus today. In about 1500 BCE, the Indus Valley civilization collapsed and a nomadic group of \ people called the Aryans began to invade north- • west India. Their religious ideas mixed with those of the Indus Valley to form the basis of Hinduism as it is practised today. Hindus do not call their code of beliefs ‘Hinduism’, a term coined in the 19th century. They call it sanatana dharma, which means eternal law or teaching. Today, there are about 800 million I Hindus, many of whom live in India. Many more have setded overseas, in countries such as Britain and the United States, where they have taken their beliefs with them.