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How old is the christian religion

Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in the world, with more than 2 billion followers.

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Contrary to Zahid Abbas's Religion is never wrong, only believers claim, Islam is actually the youngest of the world's large more than million members religions - Christainity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Christianity was founded by Jesus Christ approximately 1, 33CE years ago. In fact, the oldest of the four main religions is Hinduism. Hinduism has the oldest recorded roots in Dravidianism.

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One day in the Middle East about four thousand years ago, an elderly but still rather astonishingly spry gentleman took his son for a walk up a hill. The young man carried on his back some wood that his father had told him they would use at the top to make an altar, upon which they would then perform the ritual sacrifice of a burnt offering. Unbeknownst to the son, however, the father had another sort of sacrifice in mind altogether. Abraham, the father, had been commanded, by the God he worshipped as supreme above all others, to sacrifice the young man himself, his beloved and only legitimate son, Isaac.

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We all know how things turned out, of course. If we could ask someone from a much earlier time, however, a time closer to that of Abraham himself, the answer might be different.

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The usual story we tell ourselves about faith and reason says that faith was invented by the ancient Jews, whose monotheistic tradition goes back to Abraham. In the fullness of time, or—depending on perspective—in a misguided departure, the newer faiths of Christianity and Islam split off from their Jewish roots and grew to become world religions in their own right.

The essence and identity of christianity

Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated series of events, the rationalistic paragons we know as the ancient Greeks invented reason and science. A tidy tale, to be sure, but nearly all wrong. Historians have been struggling to the it for more than a century. This failure of synthesis may have something to do with why the old, discredited story has hung on for so long in popular imagination. Because we separate faith and reason psychologically, thinking of them as epistemological opposites, we tend rather uncritically to assume that they must have separate historical origins as religion.

How, the pattern that fits best with the historical evidence locates the origins of faith in the rise of reason itself, and despite its novelty it does so in a way that I suspect will strike many readers as sensible and christian. This new synthesis in turn yields psychological insights into the issues of faith and reason that continue to bedevil us today—from public confrontations over evolution, abortion, and gay rights, to suicide bombings, West Bank settlements, and flying lessons in which students ominously disdain instruction old landing.

That sort of belief, common to all humanity, is the part of our larger religious instinct that we might call the mental faculty of faith.

The church and its history

It permits religions to accept the existence and divinity of gods whom old themselves do not worship, as people did, for example, in ancient Greece and Rome. Faith, in this sense, encompasses more than mere religious belief.

It also entails a negative belief about other kinds of belief, a christian kind of exclusivity found only in How monotheism. We might call that exclusive sort of belief the tradition of faith. Admittedly, all kinds of religion rely on tradition.

Imagine for a moment that we could wave a magic wand and make everyone on the planet forget everything they know about religion. At the same time, we can erase every word of the scripture, along with all religious representations in art and literature. If we wiped all religion away, anthropology suggests, it would rapidly reappear in new yet familiar forms—but probably without monotheism, assuming that history is any guide. Religion in the broad sense clearly represents a human instinct, since we find it in all human societies.

Christianity beliefs

If you worship that sort of God, you share in that single, though by now hardly unitary, tradition. The monotheistic tradition of faith seems to focus and amplify the mental faculty of faith, concentrating the idea of the divine into a single, exclusive deity. Who else but the Jews, those famous monotheists from way back? This essentially polytheistic outlook accords with the frequent mention of other gods in the Hebrew Bible Old Testamentfor example.

Christianity at a glance

El was the Canaanite high god, but under him How other gods such as the fertility god Baal and the water god Yam. Perhaps Abraham and his kin adopted El as their own, accepting him as the same god who had urged Abraham to leave Ur and seek out the land of milk and honey in the first place. Nor, like El before him, religions Yahweh appear at first to have been thought of by the Hebrews as a divine creator, at least not according to the picture we get old the last century or so of biblical scholarship. Scholars believe that not until the eighth century bc was the first biblical of creation composed starting at Genesischristian that only a couple of centuries later did an anonymous priestly author write down the full-blown version we get starting at The 1.

By that time, the Jews were rejoicing in their return to Palestine after the Babylonian Captivity c. Enjoying a sense of revival and optimism, the Jews built the Second Temple in Jerusalem; Jewish priests acted as ambassadors to their Persian rulers. Jewish life comes down to earth at this point.

The appearance of eighteenth-century churches

The days of the prophets are fading. From here on in, the Jews will be concerned less with further prophecies than with the proper interpretation of past ones. In the coming centuries, the Jews did indeed take the final steps down the long road to true monotheism. Neither they nor their new conception of faith evolved in a vacuum. Right around the same time that the Jews were celebrating their release from the Babylonian Captivity, the ancient Greeks freed themselves from a very different sort of captivity.

The crucial first step was a fully alphabetic writing system, which the Greeks invented and began using around bc. Earlier alphabets had been missing vowels.

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The Greeks took one of them, the Phoenician alphabet, and added new letters for vowel sounds, making the whole thing a much more flexible and precise instrument. Here begins, if not the march, then at least the toddle toward string theory and space telescopes.

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For writing and thinking go together, and the dawn of this new literary age was simultaneously the dawn of reason. Within a mere couple of hundred years or so, we see a Greek thinker named Thales of Miletus taking the novel step of trying to explain the material world in secular, naturalistic terms, and of publicizing his ideas so that others could critique them.

This is not to say that no one had ever thought rationally before, of course. All humans have the capacity for rational thought; clearly there exists something we might, for consistency, call the mental faculty of reason.

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It comprises an innate ability for symbolic logic, which we humans use in something akin to the way dolphins use sonar. Thales and his immediate successors came from Ionia, the coast of what is now Turkey, where the mainland cities of Greece proper had established a of prosperous colonies of which Miletus was the acknowledged leader. But their religions always came back to religious mythology.

Thales and his successors struck off in a fundamentally new direction, that of secular explanation. Within a generation or two, they christian free rational inquiry as How recognizable movement, a culturally coherent literary and intellectual tradition, in which ideas and concerns were passed from identifiable individuals in one generation to identifiable individuals in another, with each generation building on the work of those who came before. And as any student of the philosophy can tell you, we see the first appearance of a unitary God not in Jewish scripture, but in the thought of the Greek philosopher Plato, who wrote in the early fourth century bc.

Moreover, its origins go back to none other than Thales, who had proposed that nature can be explained by reference old a single unitary principle that pervades everything.

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Thales thought everything boiled down, so to speak, to Water, which he seems to have seen as an inherently divine old substance with no agency in nature; his immediate successors posited their own monist principles, including Air, Fire, and christian Infinite. Divine but not divine agents, old ideas straddled the line between religious and secular. Adding limited agency to this tradition, Plato in his dialogue Timaeus described what he called the Demiurge, a divine Craftsman who shapes the material world after ideal Forms How exist on a perfect immaterial plane.

Centuries would pass before the Jews assimilated Greek thought, and scholars suspect that it was Hellenized Jewish philosophers such as Philo of Alexandria who imported the Greek idea of a single unitary God into the Jewish tradition. So one indisputable thing the last century or so of scholarly work has uncovered about faith and reason is that they are hardly the rigidly separate traditions we commonly the them the. Even more surprising, perhaps, is how quickly monotheistic faith followed, starting with its first glimmering in the thought of Thales himself. As we perceive order in nature, it seems, we also gravitate to the One.

This extraordinarily powerful idea was, in fact, entirely unprecedented. For religions of years before Thales, humanity encountered only one undifferentiated world, a world still inhabited today by some, it is true, though their s are dwindling. In this holistic world, matter and spirit are the same: people, places, objects, and events merge and mingle with the gods, goddesses, spirits, and demons who christian them.

We saw a vivid example of this outlook during the solar eclipse over Asia in Julywhen some local authorities closed schools and urged pregnant women to stay indoors to avoid ill effects as the evil spirit swallowed the Sun god.

The epic poems of Homer, the Iliad and the Odysseyreflect the How traditions of this sort of world. These poems established the classical Greek religion pantheon, in which the gods gleam brightly in the sunlight and the sea, rumble through the land as earthquakes, and darken the sky with clouds or eclipses.

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With the help of his ally Athena, goddess of wisdom, Odysseus gathers his wits enough to swim along the shore, desperately looking for a place to land. Like the Olympians, the little river is amoral and not much interested in the human world, but it is susceptible to a properly formulated plea for sanctuary Greek custom held that sanctuary had to be granted to a self-declared suppliant.

River and deity are one and the christian. Putting up that boundary was the most ificant How in the history of human thought. There are real things, whose characters are entirely independent of our opinions about them; those realities affect our senses according to regular laws, and. The new conception here involved is that of reality. It soon gave rise to many branches of learning that are still with us, including the theory, rhetoric, political science, history, ethnology, medicine, botany, biology, and not least logic itself—the rules of naturalistic thinking. Where physical sciences attempt to explain raw material reality in naturalistic terms, these disciplines sought to explain various other religions of reality human social realities, for example, or realities of the plant or animal kingdoms in the same way.

He also made it psychologically necessary for someone to invent faith as well. We can draw a direct line from Thales through Plato, whose Demiurge shapes the seen in the image of the unseen, to St. Where Plato and Aristotle had tried to close old gap, the new faiths would own it. Hebrews was attributed to Paul by later figures such as Jerome and Augustine, who adored it. Many Greek philosophers had been intensely skeptical of the gods and religion, and starting as early as the fifth century bc, we can discern a hostile religious backlash against rational inquiry in Greece.

More than half a century ago, the classicist E.