This question may need some work, but I'll do my best..

I remember hearing a while back that much of the history of India occurred in isolation. Without knowing whether this is strictly true, it got me to thinking about parallel social traits that have arisen independently in different regions of the world.

One of the more interesting social traits is religion. We know that religion is ever evolving, breaking into further sects and so on, and we know that most people throughout history have had a tendency to ask 'why'. So my assumption is that if you take all of the religions which exist today and trace their lineage backwards, you'll find a set of ancestors of 'religious families' which came to be independently of each other.

So what I wonder is:

  1. Moving backwards in time, can all of the religious families be isolated to their own common ancestor?
  2. If so, what are the religious ancestors, and in what regions did they arise?
  • Down-vote explanation? Too broad? Jun 7, 2015 at 2:42
  • Seems like every question that 'doesn't look like the other questions' gets down-voted. Jun 7, 2015 at 2:50
  • 3
    Here is my guess ( I have not up- or down-voted you yet... ) You don't show what research you yourself have done. You don't indicate any reasoning behind your assumptions to show that they are right, or correct. (Most people throughout history ...ask 'why'; says who? I firmly believe that most people, throughout history were more concerned with surviving (food, shelter, clothing, etc.) than asking philosophical questions)
    – CGCampbell
    Jun 7, 2015 at 3:27
  • 2
    False assumption - there are huge discontinuities when we move from hunter gatherer to agriculture and again when we move to urban civilization. Joseph Campbell's history of mythology may be helpful.
    – MCW
    Jun 7, 2015 at 3:57

1 Answer 1


The major 'families' are generally equated with language families- so it was theorized that there was Proto Indo European Religion which differentiated into Indo-Iranian, Greek, Celtic and so on. Similarly a Semitic, Ural Altaic, Munda etc family of Religions was believed to exist.

More recently Michael Witzel of Harvard University has published a 'family' type theory of Myths. He thinks myths are very ancient and represent the 'ancestors' of the 'religious families' you refer to. Essentially he makes a sharp distinction between Gondwanan (with a Sub Saharan origin) and Laurentian (Eurasian) families of myths.

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