As long as humans have walked the Earth, we have sought out answers. Answers for questions like: “Why are we here? Where do we go when we die? Where did we come from? and What’s that?” How different people answered these questions is important to study because it shows us the spiritual side of human nature. Especially now, a time of conflict between Islam and Western Civilization, it is important to look back and trace the evolution of religion. To see where we started and perhaps, gain some perspective into what is happening now and what may happen in the future.
As far as archeologists have been able to research, they have found evidence of religious faith and practice. In Paleolithic Hunter-Gatherer societies fear and awe of the natural world, as well as gratitude and empathy of it, is well represented in the cave art found around the globe. Archeologists have also found evidence of burial rituals, which points to the idea that Paleolithic and Neolithic humans knew that they were going somewhere after they died. There are no cave paintings illustrating this place, so it is impossible to say what their image of the afterlife really was. Likewise no images of divine figures have ever been found. As to whether or not the early humans believed in gods is uncertain, but they clearly showed signs of the first steps of religion -- awe, fear, questioning, belief, and practice of rituals.
The Mesopotamians and Babylonians
As primitive culture and society evolved, so did its religion. The Sumerians, unlike the early humans before them, had an organized religion, with gods and goddesses, scheduled public festivals, and specific practices. The Sumerians visualized their gods in human form, with human needs and weaknesses. They looked to these gods to explain acts of nature. There were gods of the sky and storm, gods of the water, and gods of the soil. Although they looked like human...