Anceint Religion


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Religion meets the needs of individuals in varying ways. In Mesopotamia, a culture suffering from a harsh climate, on-going warfare between societies, and a constant threat of invasion, religion didn’t really seem to meet the needs of the people. After the Curse of Akkade (23-2200 BC) Sumerians were very pessimistic and viewed themselves as “slaves of the gods and provided the deities with everything they needed—from sacrifices to incense to music.” (Sherman and Salisbury, 11) Religion in Egypt met the needs of the people by blessing their region with the Nile Valley, which provided water and convenient floods that would leave fertile ground for agriculture. In addition to satisfying individual physiological needs, Egyptian religion also satisfied individual need for esteem, by comforting them, their need for Love and belonging by influencing families to be good to one another and also their need for self-actualization, by inspiring creativity, which is revealed in ritualistic writings of Hieroglyphics. Akhenaten changed the pace of Egyptian religion in his religious experiment (1377?-1360) which praises Aton, the sun disk. This religion was innovational, claiming that this universal God, “is above and shines down on both, indicating that the family not only is blessed by the sun deity but also that they can serve to bring the blessings of the sun to their people” (Sherman and Salisbury, 25) This religion was, without a doubt, beneficial to the ruler, however, it didn’t sit well with the people, and resulted in turmoil, and eventually, following the death of his successor, his temples were destroyed, and former worship was restored. Hebrew history brought a powerful religion to the stage, which, like Akhenatens’ religion, was monotheistic. Hebrew religion satisfied the needs of the people in many ways. Judaism taught individual morality and equality, gave followers esteem by promising hope if followers would repent, strengthened love and belonging by urging Jews to abide by the “Ten Commandments” which stated, “honor your father and mother” in addition to being told in “The Covenant,” that they were “chosen people” who would inherit eternal life so long as they followed God’s Laws (Sherman and Salisbury, 1) Although when Jews physiological needs were not met because of deficient resources, such as during the Exodus, they began to gripe, and some of their other needs would be unsatisfied, they still withstood, and pulled through in the end. Zoroastrianism satisfied individual needs in a similar fashion as Hebrew religion by promising an after-life, satisfying human need for esteem, love and belonging. Greek religion met the individuals’ need for self-actualization because “the gods were so much like humans that worshiping them encouraged people to aspire to the greatest in human accomplishments and to acknowledge the worse in human frailties” which also gave them esteem. (Sherman and Salisbury, 54) In the Hellenistic World (323-150) mystery religions gave individuals a sense of belonging, in addition to boosting esteem by offering, “hope in an after-life that provided an escape from the alienation of the Hellenistic world.” Hellenistic world also satisfied human need for safety through charms like the “Protective Charm” (Source 1)

Religion would meet the needs of the state in a variety of ways. In Mesopotamia, religion would meet the needs of the state by justifying rulers who enforce harsh laws to provide the people with safety and the society with order. For example, the Hammurabi’s Code (c.1750 BC), was a set of laws imposed by Hammurabi, a Babylonian king, who was called upon by the Gods to “bring about the rule of righteousness” (Source, 1) and also to protect the lower class, “so the strong may not oppress the weak” (Sherman and Salisbury, 14) Egyptian religion met the needs of the state by contributing to an orderly society by providing the state with God-Kings that the people would worship. After the major drought, religion continued to meet the needs of the state, with less emphasis on the God-Kings, and more emphasis on Gods such as Osiris and Isis, in addition to having the Ma’at. In the New Kingdom, people believed in an afterlife, which caused them to consider their external deeds. Hebrew religion would meet the needs of the state by establishing laws, which taught followers basics ethics, responsibilities, the will of God, and how individuals should act. Zoroastrian (628?-551 BC) met the needs of state much the same way as Judaism, by teaching people “to live ethical lives and to show care for others” (Sherman and Salisbury, 39) Greek religion did not necessarily meet the needs of the state because “Greek thinkers placed humans rather than gods at the center of their understanding of the world”(Sherman and Salisbury, 54) In Greece, philosophy became more important, and contributed to meeting the needs of the state by teaching people more rationalistic ways of thinking. For example, Aristotle (384-322 BC), who believed in moral relativism, taught people about virtue when he says, “If, then, the virtues are neither passions nor faculties, all that remains is that they should be states of character” (Source, 1) Hellenistic religion also did very little to meet the needs of the state by providing people with an escape that eased the tensions of living in such an impersonal world.

Summarily, religion would meet the needs of the individual and state in different ways.
Or in no way at all.

Not sure I understand your angle here, though. Somewhere along the line things like personal philosophy and personal religion did show up, after all. As an alternative to institutionalised beliefs. It was tried for a while, at least, after the reformation.