Religion is defined as strong beliefs relating to a cause or conviction that one may have. It is usually associated with spiritual and ritualistic observances by the individuals. It has a general structure where there are those who are recognized as the leaders of the religion and who have the power and authority to dictate how the ritualistic observances should be followed, at what regular times and the respect to be accorded to their beliefs. Just as humans are believed to have evolved from Cro-Magnons to Homo sapiens, religion is also considered to be adaptive in it beliefs and behavior. Religious beliefs and behaviors are adaptive in order to provide effective solutions to the different problems that man has faced throughout history, enhance cooperation and reduce group conflict among members of the community.
Neolithic Revolution was a period that transformed hunters and gatherers to settle down and form communities based as villages and towns. It allowed the formation of cities and towns that are core components of civilization as we know it. Due to the many people who settled at one place it became necessary to find a way to ensure harmony among individual in this regions.
Religion brought about laws among people living in the same area. Once the people were settled in one region, there was a requirement for them to live in harmony and avoid quarrels among them. This led to religion being used as a means to curb any future unforeseen problems. Religion was used to come up with the laws to govern the interactions of the people in their day to day activities (Ziegler, 230).
A good example of some of the laws were, respect among each other. The members were required to have respect for each of the persons living in their communities. Not only to respect them but to respect their property. This was what led to values like children being taught a t a young age to respect their parents and those that are elder than them in an effort to ensure that such values were continuous through out the ages to come (Jerry, 42). The respect of the elderly led to them being viewed as the wise people in the communities and to be consulted in matters that arose over time.
At the start the Neolithic revolution was mainly composed of polytheism. This is the belief and worship of many gods. As opposes to the religion that we have this days, where we all believe that we worship one God. In the polytheism beliefs there were different gods for different purposes. For example in ancient Greece there were gods like Aphrodite (Goddess of Love), Apollo (God of healing, plague), Zeus (King of the gods, ruler, weather, thunder law and order), Poseidon (god of sea, rivers, floods and droughts) and many others. It was believed that failure to show these gods the respect they were due would lead to the gods punishing them in severe ways like by sending floods and drought to the people (Ziegler, 222). This served to enforce the respect accorded to the gods and also that accorded to elders in the community.
As religion expanded it forced the community members to look for more creative ways to offer their respects to the gods. This led them to invent new tools that enabled them to be able improve their agriculture and in return improve the quality of their offerings. The more they gave or offered the more they believed they will receive blessing from the gods. As man was curious about the facts surrounding his life and existence he looked unto religion to explain the facts that he was not able to explain. He took religion to be the base of all unexplained occurrences that happened on earth (Jerry, 36).
As much as religion was a positive effect on mankind, it also had negative effects. It led to the priests and clergy men to strive to achieve greater power among them. This was because they had been given respect and power to be able to dictate some of the practices that were to be carried out by the community. They used their power to enforce what they believed to be right among their followers. This need for power made them to oppress the people who believed in them to show that they had power. This eventually led to minority groups arising and forming their own religions. A good example would be Martin Luther who saw moral deficiencies and moral follies among the leaders of the religion which caused him to start off what was known as the reformation where he advocated to everyone being able to own a bible to read for them self what it said. To get power the clergy had been oppressing their people (Jerry, 25).
Religion also led to social classes to emerge among the communities. This was because when they gathered to worship, the rich were given position in the front next to priests and spiritual icons of those particular communities, while the poor were mostly outside and at the back of the halls. The rich would also appear in their decoratively embroidered clothing whereas the poor would appear in tatters and rags. The leaders of the religion would then praise how the rich have offered help to the church further eliminating the poor’s contribution (Ziegler, 211).
In conclusion religion has had a very large impact on not only history but also on the political and economic environments. It influenced and is still influencing how leaders for political positions were chosen as they mostly probably had been religious leaders or elders. In the economic section the contributions to the churches led to economic power to grow in those particular regions. Religion can therefore not be taken separately from the various processes that have led to civilization.