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39

Presumably no earlier than the ninth century, as there is this: 804 Hellenes of Laconia, Greece, resist the attempt of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, to convert them to Christianity. Further searching yields this, though it seems to be rather thinly sourced: The Maniots began to convert to Christianity in the 9th century AD, but it ...


34

First, the easier part on Christianity. As the other reply says, the British were (mostly) unwilling to convert Indians in order to avoid inflaming local religious sentiments. In fact, the British were so cautious on this that they would probably even tolerated the practices of sati and child marriage had some Indian reformers (such as Ram Mohan Roy) not ...


28

"Is there any evidence to suggest whether either polytheism or monotheism came first, as an established form of religion? Or do we even have any way of knowing?" The oldest written records we have that mention religion are all polytheistic. The writer will sometimes claim that his god rules over the others, but this tends to have a 'my dad can beat up your ...


28

Religion is a great cultural differentiator. People have been killing each other for many millenia, with a preference for targeting other people who belong to a distinct "culture", a rather loose term. From the outside, the god(s) people worship are quite easy to work out; if they are not the same as yours, then these people are "foreigners". Historically, ...


28

Judaism is very old, but it was not originally monotheistic (see below). An earlier instance of monotheistic or monotheistic-esque worship occurred in the form of Atenism, the worship of the deified sun-disk Aten in Ancient Egypt. The Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (later Akhenaten), reigning around 1353/1351-1336/1334 B.C., promoted it as an arguably monotheistic ...


27

In my History of Islam classes there was some review of Pre-Islamic Arabia and a few things were covered, from my class notes we talked about: Arabia being a part of the major trade route along the Red Sea Coast, from southern Palestine to Yemen. Medina and Mecca were located along this route, Mecca was the more important city where caravans stopped and ...


26

The main storyline to Lucian's Αληθή διηγήματα (2nd century CE) is the war between the people of the Sun and the people of the Moon over colonization of the Morning Star. As you can probably imagine from the satire's topic, several alien life forms are mentioned. Here's a quote describing the narrator's encounter with Endymion, King of the Moon: We ...


20

Tokugawa Ieyasu banned it in 1614 for one. You would be killed for being a practicing Christian up until the Meiji restoration. Think about it like this. You've got Europeans coming in. They are seen as a direct threat[1] to your power base built on the divine authority of the God Emperor and the Shogun, his personal representative. The Buddhists don't claim ...


20

Your examples don't really count. Yes, polytheistic religions don't consider all gods as equals. But that's simply the hierarchy of human societies applied to gods, it comes naturally with the human psyche being what it is. Nevertheless, polytheism seems to be the more obvious form of religion: a single almighty god is very abstract and hard to imagine, a ...


18

It would be very interesting to see a chart of rate of innovation over time in western civilization. Of course, this begs the question of what is "innovation". Do you count number of inventions? Do you give more weight to inventions that would have long lasting significance through history? Or ones that may have been less influential but providing a huge ...


18

I can go into further details if requested, but "TL;DR" answer is: After Luther agitated that "Jews didn't convert to Christianity because Catholics treated them badly, and would convert if you treat them better", Jews still didn't show any great willingness to convert. Here's one supporting quote (context was Luther's refusal to intercede on Jews's ...


18

Actually the motivation is pretty well-known. The motivation for the invasion of Spain was similar to that of all Muslim conquest of the period. Islamic armies under the command of the "The Rightly Guided Caliphs" and the following Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs benefited from a unifying religion to form a large and motivated armed forces, out of what had ...


17

That's an interesting question. There is a book by Michael Hesemann, a German historian, in which he is interpreting Hitlers religion (that is actually the title of the book) like this: Hitlers plans where going towards a "German pseudo-religion". Hitler got his first ideas from the "Ostara"-magazine, that was published between 1903 to 1931 and propagated ...


17

You may want to check the cour des miracles (court of miracles) as a real life example of a "thieves guild". Clearly reading about the Mafia, Tong, and Yakuza should be compulsory as those are crime organisations. Look at your local law enforcement web site for further information on organised crime as well if you are looking for more modern organisations. ...


15

That Poland avoided internal wars of religion can indeed be attributed to the religious tolerance of the state at this time, a tolerance that stretches back a long time. And this has to do with it's position where many of it's neighbouring countries were not Catholic. To the east the Kievan Rus adopted Orthodoxy, and further north the areas now known as ...


15

If you read "Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion", by John Cuthbert Lawson, you will see that, as late as 1910, there were are least significant vestiges of original Greek religion. Other useful material can by found in the works of Jane Ellen Harrison. I hesitate to try to summarize >300 pages here. Much of it is what you might call ...


14

Quite the contrary as Rodney Stark pointed out in The Victory of Reason - the Catholic church itself promoted most of the societal conditions that allowed the Middle Class to take hold, and in so doing also promote the nurture of science and industry. Chief among these were personal property rights (stemming from the idea that we were God's stewards) and ...


14

It's hard to answer since you didn't clearly define either Satanism or "organized religion". Under the most common understanding, Satanism didn't become an organized "religion" till The Church of Satan was established as an organization according to The Satanic Bible, written in 1969 by Anton Szandor LaVey. There seems to be no basis to attribute this to ...


14

No, residual paganism was not a factor in Hitler's rise to power. As far as anyone can say, that is. This theory you reference posits that the German people claimed to be Christian, yet practiced secret worship "in the dark" to pagan gods. No one can prove that any German ever worshipped a pagan god in secret. But we can say this much: Christianity was ...


13

I take your question as "just before the advent of Muhammad." Therefore I will not delve into ancient history, and limit the answer to late-antiquity and early Middle Ages. First of all we have to note that people in the Arabic Peninsula could (and can) be divided geographically between the (mostly) arid North (notwithstanding oases and narrow coastal ...


13

Short answer Pre-Islamic Arabians were polytheistic, worshiping 360 gods; the chief god was the moon-god. They later became monotheistic because of Muhammad. Long answer In 1944, Gertrude Caton-Thompson (1888-1885), an influential English archaeologist, discovered a temple of the moon-god in southern Arabia. The symbols of the crescent moon and no less ...


13

At the moment of his election (1641), it seems that Mazarin was in minor orders - so called "lay cardinal". After that, there seems to be little consensus and pretty much no primary sources, but if anything, he was a cardinal-priest. By the process of elimination, he was a cardinal-priest: He was definitely not a cardinal-deacon. From "The Cardinals of ...


13

Loki and Hermes are well-known gods of thievery. As for saints, St. Nicolas is the patron of thieves. As for clans, often there was some community of people that had any normal work forbidden by the society or some inner rules. Some opressed small nation could choose non-collaboration policy and crime remained their only way of living. Gipsies or ...


13

Judaism was long a Henotheist religion, ie it believed there was many gods, but claimed the Yahweh was the foremost and most powerful of these gods. It is generally believed that Judaism became monotheistic, claiming that other gods did not exist at all, during the Babylonian exile, (1, 2) probably influenced by Zoroastrianism. These events are in the 6th ...


13

It's the same reason why Europe was more religiously tolerant in Roman times (except to Christians). Namely, a lack of religious exclusiveness in their native beliefs. When Buddhism was transmitted to Japan, for example, the local population have no trouble reconciling Buddhist doctrines with their native Shintoism. The Shinto kami were integrated into ...


13

I'm not sure you can really state that thesis with certainty. The world's top two religions are indeed monotheistic. However, that could just be explained due to them both arising in the same region. The third and fourth largest religions, Hinduism (1 billion adherents) and Shenisim (about 400 million), are both polytheistic. The fifth, Buddhism (also about ...


13

Opposition to the monarchy was indeed a major factor. Many French nobles, a majority of whom adopted Calvinist doctrine, sought to regain and extend privileges lost to the monarchy. - Nexon, Daniel H. The Struggle for Power in Early Modern Europe: Religious Conflict, Dynastic Empires, and International Change. Princeton University Press, 2009. ...


12

The Maya did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_religion , in most cases this seemed to be more extaordinary and in a way of trying to get the attention of the gods in extreme circumstances, such as famine, flood or alternately kings ascending the throne. As did the Aztec: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec#Human_sacrifice , although I have never seem much ...


12

One thing readers should understand about this question (which should probably be added to the question text, hint, hint) is that lightning happens when highly charged air in the atmosphere finds a good enough conductor to the ground in order to arc there. Thus it is naturally attracted to tall pointy things. This quite well describes the steeples (or ...


12

From Wiki: Will Durant explains that certain pygmy tribes found in Africa were observed to have no identifiable cults or rites. There were no totems, no deities, and no spirits. Their dead were buried without special ceremonies or accompanying items and received no further attention. They even appeared to lack simple superstitions, according to ...



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