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101 votes
Accepted

Why does this London Underground poster from 1924 have a Star of David atop a Christmas tree?

The hexagram is not an exclusively Jewish symbol. For that matter, the Star of David as a symbol of Judaism (as opposed to a symbol used by Jews) is far newer than people realize, dating only to 1897 ...
Mark's user avatar
  • 8,541
83 votes

Why in most German places is the church the tallest building?

Many churches in Europe (not just Germany) were built centuries ago, when the church was by far the most important and prestigious building in any city. Building them took decades, sometimes even ...
DevSolar's user avatar
  • 14k
75 votes

How did the general population of England convert so smoothly to Protestantism?

Well, it wasn't smooth. First of all, there was already a minority of "reform" viewpoint in England before Henry VIII. It was centered in the intelligentsia and gentry. So when Henry VIII decided ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
  • 7,686
69 votes

Why do western monotheistic religions seem to be so full of conflict over dogma?

A very astute observation. If you compare linguistic maps to sectarian maps (McEvedy's Penguin Atlas series are great for this), you'll notice something else: they have a distinct tendency to align. ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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51 votes
Accepted

What is the pre-schism Christian church called today?

This is incredibly complicated and almost always misleading. For example, in many countries the Catholic Church is called strictly the Roman-Catholic church. The higher up members of that community ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
50 votes

Why do western monotheistic religions seem to be so full of conflict over dogma?

To expand on Kirsch's answer (see: quote in the question), a single god doesn't only remove the safety valve of multiplicity (where any doctrinal dispute about the intentions of one god can just be ...
tbrookside's user avatar
  • 1,168
46 votes

What is the difference between the Ancient Greek religion and the Ancient Roman religion?

The biggest difference that I'm aware of is that the Classical Greek religion was much more the religion of myths that we all know, while the Classical Roman religion had fewer personifications and ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
  • 7,686
44 votes

Did any ancient polytheistic religion hold that theirs was the only pantheon?

The polytheists did not regard "pantheons" as schematically as we see them in mythology books. There were some general approaches in polytheist religions when you encountered people with ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 2,066
43 votes

Why do western monotheistic religions seem to be so full of conflict over dogma?

I personally think that there might be something in the premise of "single god leads to wanting to have a single answer for everything, leading to sectarian violence". Nevertheless, I'm a little ...
stochastic's user avatar
41 votes

How did the general population of England convert so smoothly to Protestantism?

Not only was it not totally smooth, but it also wasn't much of a change. At least not on personal human timeframes. You have to realize that the break in England didn't happen because anybody had any ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
38 votes
Accepted

Did Martin Luther ever say "The prosperity of a country depends ... "?

Yes, he did write that. Easily verifiable when going ad fontes, as real historians should always do. That is: the language presented in the quote is thoroughly modernised, and thus mangled into ...
Llewellyn Chalmers's user avatar
37 votes

What advantages did Catholic missionaries to the Indians have over Protestant missionaries in old Oregon Country?

Catholic missionaries possessed a number of distinct advantages over the Protestants. First, they were well-trained, ordained priests, not merely well-meaning laymen, as many Protestants were. Unlike ...
George A. Solodun's user avatar
36 votes
Accepted

Why are the majority of Dresden inhabitants atheists or agnostics?

For the vast majority of Germans, religious and non-religious alike, religion matters little in daily life. In some families, the babies are baptised, marriages have both civil and religious ...
o.m.'s user avatar
  • 17k
34 votes

Why did the US Navy and Marine Corps use satanic symbolism in WW2?

Young men full of piss and vinegar trying to sound fierce and scary or just different. Christianity had absolutely nothing to do with it any more than some perceived Satanic leanings. What about VF-...
R Leonard's user avatar
  • 5,096
30 votes

What is the pre-schism Christian church called today?

First of all, @LangLangC's answer is excellent. I intend only to expand on it. The unified Eastern (Greek-speaking) and Western (Latin-speak) churches called themselves "orthodox" as opposed to the ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
  • 7,686
30 votes
Accepted

Was climate a factor in the spread of Islam?

The question is of course kind of entirely biased, as always when you take a statistical correlation and want to apply a cause on that. However, the question should still be answered. It just means ...
totalMongot's user avatar
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28 votes
Accepted

Did the Romans install offensive statues in the temples of conquered territories?

There actually are a number of sculptures depicting victorious Romans dominating the national personifications of subjugated peoples. Nonetheless, the Medium post fundamentally misrepresented ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
27 votes

Why are the majority of Dresden inhabitants atheists or agnostics?

80% does not seem to be way off compared with other industrial countries like Sweden (85%), Denmark (80%), Norway (72%), Czech Republic (61%), Finland (60%)...
liftarn's user avatar
  • 2,066
26 votes
Accepted

Why is Indonesia a Muslim country?

The Muslim religion started making its way into modern Indonesia in the 13th century. That's when various rulers in North Sumatra, then Java, started converting to that religion, as a result of ...
Tom Au's user avatar
  • 104k
25 votes

How did early Judaism and Zoroastrianism influence each other, if they were so far apart?

They weren't in fact far apart at all. Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Achaemenid Empire, which encompassed Israel. Its actually even closer than this map implies though. In the period ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
23 votes

What advantages did Catholic missionaries to the Indians have over Protestant missionaries in old Oregon Country?

George A. Strieby gives an excellent answer of which I would like to expand on it a little. Most Jesuits missionaries shared in the daily life of the Indians, travelling with them as they moved from ...
Ken Graham's user avatar
  • 1,900
23 votes
Accepted

What is the name of the Phoenician religion?

Ancient religions don't generally have technical names, at least not at the civilizational level. Think "Ancient Greek religion", "Ancient Egyptian religion", etc. Here is a technical article ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 21k
21 votes

Why are the majority of Dresden inhabitants atheists or agnostics?

German here. You see here a chart of the predominant confessions in Germany: Wikimedia Commons, Martin Sander, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2013-06-23 As you see, approximately one third is Roman-Catholic (yellow),...
Thorsten S.'s user avatar
  • 5,126
19 votes
Accepted

How frequently did monasteries attack other monasteries in Early Medieval Western Europe?

As far as I'm aware, this was something particular to the early Celtic church in Ireland. Before I attempt to explain further I'd like to add an important caveat in regard to terminology: These days,...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
18 votes
Accepted

Did Akhenaten's religion influence early Judaism?

In general, I would be very wary of claims that Akhenaten's religion was a significant influence on early Judaism. There is, however, one very famous link that is often claimed between Akhenaten and ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
18 votes

Did the Ottoman government rationalize the Armenian Genocide and other instances of ethnic cleansing as a response to Russian expansion?

This question can be very much opinable, but I want to address some points: Did the architects of the Armenian Genocide during World War I plan their actions in part as a reciprocal population ...
SJuan76's user avatar
  • 12.4k
18 votes

How does a runic alphabet work?

A runic alphabet works like other alphabets: one rune corresponds to one or more specific sounds. Runes only really have one significant difference: they are designed to be carved in wood, which means ...
andejons's user avatar
  • 5,631
18 votes

How did Christianity replace Roman Paganism and other ancient religions?

A major underlying factor to keep in mind is that Christianity is monotheistic. Christianity flatly admits no god besides its own; Pagans were accustomed to a great multitude of (often local) deities ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
17 votes

What was the last religion to become 'extinct'?

That's impossible to answer. Religions come and go even today. Several indigenous tribes in remote jungles will disappear within a couple of years. With them, their religion. Other religions or newer ...
Jos's user avatar
  • 21.9k
17 votes

Why in most German places is the church the tallest building?

The maximum building hights are determined by each city (or as in Berlin possible each City District). In Berlin the first Bebauungsplan (Building Plan) of 1862 regulated standard street widths of ...
Mark Johnson's user avatar
  • 9,724

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