A term to describe an organized belief system which revolves around supernatural elements and entities.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

44
votes
10answers
18k views

Why were Indians not mass converted to Islam/Christianity?

India was ruled by Muslims from around 12 century to 1857 and then by British till 1947 but India still have a large number of Hindus. Countries like Indonesia, Afghanistan, Malaysia now have Islam as ...
44
votes
6answers
5k views

Which came first: polytheism or monotheism?

It seems a common position that monotheism tends to evolve out of polytheism. Wikipedia offers a few historical examples of this. However, many polytheistic religions seem to have monotheistic ...
38
votes
5answers
7k views

When did worshiping of ancient Greek gods come to an end?

The ancient Greeks had their pantheon of gods whose signficance vanished with the civilization. Some individual gods entered the belief systems of later cultures, but such mutations are not what I am ...
29
votes
5answers
6k views

What was the religion of the Arabic people before conversion to Islam?

What was the dominant religion of the Arabic people when Prophet Muhammed started the Islamic religion?
29
votes
3answers
2k views

Why were there no religious wars in Poland?

During the 16th and 17th centuries, there were many religious wars in Europe. In countries, were it was very close to Rome (like Spain, Portugal, Austria, Italian states), they did not occur. In ...
21
votes
9answers
11k views

Which religion was the first monotheistic one?

Which religion was the first monotheistic one? Was it judaism or a religion which disappeared from practice?
20
votes
5answers
2k views

What were Hitler's religious beliefs?

Hitler is often cited as an example of an evil atheist (along with Stalin and Mao). But there are several quotes from him that seem to indicate he believed in the Christian God - and even used this to ...
19
votes
7answers
4k views

Why were Albanians the only nation in the Balkans who converted to Islam during the Ottoman occupation?

The Ottoman Empire conquered the Balkans and occupied it for half a millennium. They managed to convert most of the Albanians to Islam, however, all the other nations in the area remained Christian. ...
19
votes
2answers
660 views

What was the structure of religious beliefs among the Arabic peoples before conversion to Islam?

Other questions on this topic has addressed the pre-Islamic religious beliefs in broad detail, including the conversion of near-Arab cultures. What was the specific nature of the pre-Islamic ...
17
votes
6answers
801 views

What factors permitted Buddhism to be successful in Japan but Christianity less so?

From reading The Samurai and the Sacred, it looks like Buddhism achieved acceptance into Japanese culture due to its willingness to assimilate with the (already present) Shinto religion. Conversely, ...
17
votes
2answers
370 views

How does Göbekli Tepe fit into the current picture of society development?

Göbekli Tepe is a huge archaeological site in Eastern Turkey, currently under excavation (make sure you click on "Pictures"). It is one of the oldest architectural complexes in the world, possibly the ...
16
votes
7answers
4k views

What is the earliest reference to “space aliens”?

If we go back sufficiently far in human history we will most likely see that any descriptions of (supposed) "aliens" are described solely in religious terms. So in the distant past, any weird or ...
16
votes
8answers
2k views

What cultures did, or do, perform human sacrifice on a regular basis?

Looking at the Area 51 commitment page, I realized that some of the questions that were originally suggested there never got asked here, so I thought I'd add some of them. Something else I would like ...
16
votes
1answer
675 views

Was there any theological opposition to the lightning rod?

Apparently, there was some opposition to the lightning rod at the time of its invention because lightning was seen as "the wrath of God" and should not be controlled. I'd like to find some citations ...
16
votes
2answers
730 views

How did Islam and Hinduism thrive together in Medieval India?

In countries in the Middle East, Indonesia and many North African countries, the onset of Islamic rulers spread Islam in a rapid manner, eventually wiping off the local religion. However in spite of ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

Why did the Moors invade the Iberian peninsula?

Almost all of the information that I can find with regards to the Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula simply states when the Moors invaded. There seems to be very little on what the motivation ...
15
votes
3answers
834 views

Why did the French nobility adopt Calvinism?

The Wikipedia article on the French Wars of Religion says that the Calvinist form of Protestantism, in particular, spread into the nobility. Now, I'd like to know why is that, and not Lutheranism for ...
15
votes
4answers
326 views

Were there any well known royal dynasties that did not in some way cite religious mandate for their rule?

Most of the royal rulers in the last 2000 years seemed to be strongly relying - as one of the sources of their power - on the notion that they hold "divine rule"/"sanction of god"/"mandate of heaven" ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there any evidence that the Catholic Church slowed innovation during the Middle Ages?

I often hear that the rate of innovation was very high during ancient times in Greece and the Roman empire. I've also heard that the rate of innovation was reduced once the Catholic Church gained ...
13
votes
3answers
402 views

Was the concept of religious freedom in the early United States applied to native American faiths?

When the nascent United States was drafting and adopting its supreme laws, some references to religions were made. For example, in the Bill of Rights: Congress shall make no law respecting an ...
13
votes
3answers
431 views

What is the last historical mention of people worshipping the Roman gods?

Today, there are many polytheists and neopagans who worship the ancient Roman gods. They are, however, a very new development, and not the descendants of an unbroken line stretching back to the Roman ...
12
votes
4answers
814 views

Was there ever any organization of thieves or pickpockets?

Can anyone suggest any historical examples of an established group specifically dedicated to organized thievery (any combination of property based crimes such as pick-pocketing, lock-picking, fencing, ...
12
votes
5answers
4k views

Is there a civilization that never believed in God in the ancient times?

I'm not obviously talking about small groups or individuals but about an actual civilization that never believed about the existence of a supreme essence. Is atheism just a modern concept?
12
votes
2answers
165 views

Completeness of Old Parish Registers in the 1700s

In England, local churches were required to keep registers of all baptisms, marriages and burials. Are there any studies that show how complete these records generally were, in particular in relation ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

Why did people die for their religion in the 400s CE (or even now)?

Before the institution of Christianity and the evolution of Buddhism into Mahayana Buddhism, people never felt quite so strongly about religion. Suddenly, people feel ready to die for it and die ...
11
votes
4answers
405 views

What are the historical reasons for religious and political negative attitudes towards homosexuality?

First of all, let me say that I know this is a very delicate issue. In no way should my question be seen as an attempt to endorse negative attitudes towards the LGTB community. I am seeking objective, ...
11
votes
4answers
8k views

What was Muhammad's religion before becoming a Muslim prophet?

According to this question, the predominant religion in Arabia before Islam was some kind of polytheism. While according to Muhammad's Wikipedia page, According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

Was there human sacrifice in ancient Crete?

Excavations on the hill of Kydonia, near Chania in Crete, where the third largest palace of the Minoan civilization was, revealed a small area fenced by rocks in the yard, with many animal bones and ...
11
votes
3answers
7k views

Is there a symbol associated with Loki from the Norse pantheon?

I've been looking around for any kind of sign, symbol, sigil, or such that can be said to have anything to do with the deity Loki, of the Norse pantheon. There doesn't seem to be anything as obvious ...
10
votes
4answers
7k views

How did the Catholic Pope manage to become more powerful than Kings in old Europe?

In medieval Europe, the Roman Catholic Pope seemed to hold more power than the European kings. This is strange because monarchs can raise armies. Pope and their bishops are not exactly military men. ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Did the Delphic oracle speak gibberish?

Wikipedia's article on the Delphic oracle says: The usual theory has been that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from a chasm in the rock, and that she ...
9
votes
2answers
641 views

What sort of Cardinals were Richelieu and Mazarin?

Cardinals can belong to one of three orders: Cardinal-deacon Cardinal-bishop Cardinal-priest. What were the ranks of Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin?
9
votes
3answers
837 views

Why is such big density of churches in medieval towns?

If we look at Old Towns of European cities, we can see that there are many churches in them. Of course, it is reasonable as religion was very important in lives of the medieval people. However, ...
9
votes
2answers
562 views

Is there evidence Muslim soldiers fought in the Continental Army?

It is said that Muslims fought for the American Revolution, by serving in the Continental Army. Wikipedia cites a few names: Records from the American Revolutionary War indicate that at least a ...
8
votes
3answers
244 views

To what extent were religious groups persecuted in the Soviet Union?

I understand that many churches were destroyed and even many priests arrested and executed, but how widespread was the violence across the entirety of the Soviet Union?
8
votes
2answers
3k views

When did the first riots between Hindus and Muslims happen in India?

I have studied in school that the British used the Divide and Rule strategy to rule in India. But, for them to think of applying Divide and Rule, I think some sort of communal tension between Hindus ...
8
votes
2answers
158 views

How did religions interpret rainbows before science explained it? [closed]

A rainbow this morning to work made me think of how religions used to interpret these colorful appearances. Signs from the gods? Repent for your sins? A gift? I want to know how different ...
8
votes
1answer
532 views

What are the origins of the Shinto religion?

Shinto's recorded history is typically dated to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, but most sources suggest that oral traditions go back much further than this. What evidence is there to support this - ...
8
votes
3answers
173 views

What are other obvious samples in history where political/religious leaders try to shape religion to their need [closed]

This question is inspired by What were Hitler's religious beliefs? So they have well documented records on how Hitler actually tried to change/replace christianity. What other similar records ...
8
votes
1answer
168 views

Did the Mayans view the gods as antagonistic to humanity?

How did the precolonial Maya view their gods' relationship to mankind, specifically: were they considered benevolent, neutral, or antagonistic? I've seen a number of hints that they may have ...
8
votes
1answer
249 views

Did the Indo-Greeks play a crucial role in promoting Buddhism?

Did Buddhism become a widespread religion primarily due to the political support of the Indo-Greek rulers of India who favored it in opposition to Jainism?
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Did Akhenaten's religion influence early Judaism?

There were some claims, for example in the 1st 2 chapters of Moses and Monotheism by Freud, that early Judaism was basically a spin-off of Akhenaten's religion. There are indeed some remarkable ...
7
votes
2answers
214 views

Was residual animism partially responsible for Hitler's rise?

Although Miller had never bothered to think about it, it was once out of these and other oceans of pine and beech that the old Germanic tribes had swarmed to be checked by Caesar at the Rhine. ...
7
votes
2answers
154 views

Did contemporary scholars draw a connection between Great Schism and Crab Nebula Supernova (1054 A.D.)?

Did any contemporary scholars draw a connection between the occurrence of the Great Schism and the Crab Nebula Supernova, which both occurred around the middle of 1054 A.D.? I already asked at ...
7
votes
3answers
943 views

What happened to those ethnic Greeks who converted to Islam during the Ottoman empire?

I got a little inspiration from a previous post on the History part: "Why were Albanians the only nation in the Balkans who converted to Islam during the Ottoman occupation?" Does anyone know ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

When was “diablo” first used to refer to the Devil?

I'd curious to know how and when the word diablo came to mean the Devil. In Luc Ferry's A Brief History of Thought, he states: The devil is rather one who, spiritually speaking, does everything ...
7
votes
2answers
141 views

Origin of the Subdivisons of Hell/Heaven

Isra and Mi'raj is the name of the journey of the prophet Muhammad, where he witnessed heaven and hell, describing their structure as well as the punishment and rewards that lay beyond. Hell and ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

The decline of Buddhism in India around the 12th century

How can we explain the fall of Buddhism in India, which is the geographic origin of Buddhism? Were there ever any direct conflicts between Hinduism and Buddhism? From what I understand, the rise ...
7
votes
1answer
499 views

Were there punishments in the Roman Empire for not believing in the official religion?

In popular culture Christians were being killed in the Colosseum because they did not want to accept the Emperor as a god. An example can be Quo vadis novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz, who won the Nobel ...
7
votes
3answers
625 views

Were Puritans Prudes or Progressive?

I have recently encountered two independent assertions that Puritans were not prudes like I and most of society think they were. Either society's view of Puritans is revisionist, or the two sources I ...