The most ancient religious cultures began in an unknown era many thousands of years ago. At that time men saw the origin of all things as infinite and unexplainable . The sky was, to them, awesome and unknown ; an endless sea of life, taking countless forms, and possessing endless varieties and natures . The stars and planets were merely different life-forms at varying stages of their life cycles .
Those beliefs led to the observation that nothing could be totally destroyed : matter merely changed its state . Everything passed through stages of transformation . It was in an attempt to influence such a transformation that men, thousands of years later, began to cremate their dead in order to ensure them a direct path to the skies .
While experimenting with his environment, mankind discovered that he belonged to an infinite universe with an endless number of cosmic inhabitants . He subsequently deduced that such a universe could only have originated from an infinite source . He called that source “infinity”, “endlessness”, “boundlessness”, “limitlessness” . such an infinity defies all attempts to define it . It is above and beyond the conceivable .
The science of that long ago period held that mankind and all other living creatures were products of the earth’s atmosphere and nature . Life was the conscious, actualised part of an ongoing cycle that was a miniscule part of a greater existence . It was the experience of reality which was the raison d’etre of all natural beings . Even earth itself formed part of a greater reality which included the sun, moon, and other planets and entities . Being the most intelligent creature, man’s role was to make himself as useful as he could for the long term preservation of earth . His responsibility was to leave an offspring as his successor, and, in death, offer his body as nourishment for the soil from which new life springs .
A man’s legacy was what he accomplished while he was alive . Death was the beginning of transformation to another state of existence where his body became plant nutrient, his breath became lost in the air, his thoughts became nothing . Regardless what a man might have attained while he was alive, when he died, whether he was great or small, good or evil, he faced the same fate as everyone else .
Early religious logic was the result of man’s creative imagination and his scientific curiousity . It posited that intelligence was a necessary feature of life, and conscious life was always striving to propagate and enhance itself . Each individual human being was, therefore, responsible for everyone else, and had a duty to see earth remain untainted or unmarred by his existence .
The need for a system of consensual rrule, as well as ordered socialisation, led to the first deliberate creation of ideology . The challenge for such an ideology was the justification of leadership by certain individuals .
Increases in the number and sizes of human settlements saw doctrines being modified to accommodate changing lifestyles . Men now had dominion over plants, animals and other men . Advances in toolmaking also increased their ability to transform their physical environment .
At the beginning of the historical period, early scientific logic had already been subject to a number of influences, and had undergone several meaningful changes . Living to perpetuate the present remained, however, the underlying principle that guided social and political interactions among individuals and communities . Life, and the state of living, remained the single most important accomplishment for anyone and, the longer a person remained alive, the greater was their attainment . This principle became universal in the ancient world, and was passed down through several cultures . Moses attested to it when he advised the Israelites to “Honour your mother and your father that your days may be long upon the land”. The Greek storyteller, Homer, also expressed it when he declared “It is better to be alive, and a slave of all slaves, than die great”. What is significant is the fact that those same sentiments were echoed by Achilles, one of the greatest Greek heroes .
These basic concepts have become interwoven, over time, with various myths, legends, explanations, proverbs, and a whole gamut of spiritual claims, both real and imagined, to give us the great religions of today . And although they boast so much exclusiveness, if one were to take the time to examine them more closely, you would be surprised at the glaring similarities that exist .