• The history of religion is as old as the history of man himself. That is what archaeologists and anthropologists tell us. Even among undeveloped, civilizations, there is found evidence of worship of some form. Besides its antiquity, religion also exists in great variety. The headhunters in the jungles of Borneo, the Eskimos in the frozen Arctic, the nomads in the Sahara Desert, the urban dwellers in the great metropolises of the world​—every people and every nation on earth has its god or gods and its way of worship. The diversity in religion is truly staggering. The study of the origin and development of religion is a comparatively new field. For centuries, people more or less accepted the religious tradition into which they were born and in which they were brought up. Most of them were satisfied with the explanations handed down to them by their forefathers, feeling that their religion was the truth. There was seldom any reason to question anything, nor the need to investigate how, when, or why things got started. In fact, for centuries, with limited means of travel and communication, few people were even aware of other religious systems. However, the picture began to change. During the 19th century the theory of evolution, along with the advent of scientific inquiry, caused many to question established systems, including religion. Recognizing the limitations of looking for clues within existing religion, some began to investigate the remains of early civilizations. They tried to apply psychology, sociology, anthropology, and so forth, hoping to discover a clue as to how religion began and why. On the surface, the many religions in existence today seem quite different from one another. However, if we strip them of the things that are mere embellishments and later additions, or if we remove those distinctions that are the result of climate, language, peculiar conditions of their native land, and other factors, it is amazing how similar most of them turn out to be. Interestingly, among the legends common to many religions is one that says humankind began in a golden age in which man was guiltless, lived happily and peacefully in close communion with God, and was free from sickness and death. While details may differ, the same concept of a perfect paradise that once existed is found in the writings and legends of many religions. Many people today express little interest in religion. They neither talk much about religion nor do they particularly let it affect their lives. However, you cannot help but have noticed another apparent evidence of an intense interest in religion: People are fighting, yes, even killing one another because of religion. True, you may not have thought about it in exactly those terms, but that is what is happening. Yes, on one hand religion seems to “evoke commitment, loyalties, passions and, paradoxically, sometimes war” and, on the other hand, people in general just do not know what their religion teaches, nor do they care to find out.
  • It depends on your religion.

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