Over time, the early faith has seen a gradual shift in its beliefs. Traditional Native American practices were gradually changed, and their experience was passed down through generations among the traditional Native Americans. The history of early religions, the philosophy behind their roots, and their significance in society are some of the key lessons I’ve taken away from the reading. It includes traditions, values, and rituals that serve as a unifying force for groups, such as Native Americans, who have struggled with poverty, hopelessness, and alcoholism, among other issues. The lessons from the readings have enabled me to appreciate the challenges that scholars and philosophers underwent to establish this research on early religions due to lack of written records about the historic practices, philosophies, and thoughts by humans who existed at the time when it all began. The works of great philosophers, such as Huston Smith, have made me wiser, especially when identifying symbols of an early religion that are also evident in society today. Some of them include the concepts of divine power, ancestor worship, burying of the dead, self-reflective consciousness, burning of incense, and use of water for baptism.
In addition, I have also learned the difference between non-literacy and intelligence as a description of the prehistoric tribes that practiced early religion. More precisely, I have understood and appreciated that tribal people had not developed the skill of writing since they majorly relied on oral tradition. However, this does not necessarily mean that they lacked intelligence and were primitive. The writing was invented out of necessity during the agricultural era, a period that did not exist during the time of the tribal people. Further, the reading has enlightened me on the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
I have also learned the concept of cosmic religion that developed as an expression of early religion and can still be observed in society today. It is anchored on a close observation of the natural world and the concept of animism to define religious beliefs. Further, I have learned about the development of hunting and gathering as a religious concept and the significant changes introduced by the development of agriculture and technology. Further, the reading has enlightened me regarding the ancient roles of women in society during the early religion and their changing status that have assumed in society today.
Despite the improvement in the tradition of the Native Americans, a number of questions are raised throughout the reading. One of the most important ones in the reading for me is what can be termed as the beginning of religion. This is due to the fact that there exists no definite and accurate answer to that question but rather assumptions made by scholars and philosophers, such as Bishop Codrington. Further, it raises the question as to whether early religion is indeed a primitive and non-intelligent era. This question prompts me to undertake an analysis of the notions of intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom in relation to early religion. Other important points for discussion that were defined for me from the reading are the impact that agricultural and technological advancement have had in society today in relation to religion, and what can be learned from early religion to remedy some of the ill practices in society nowadays, such as warfare and crime. Also, it raises the question of the place of women in the world as compared to the prehistoric era as well as whether religion plays a key role in defining their position up to date.
Based on my opinion, it is not always a simple decision to decide whether or not certain activities and beliefs are right or wrong, especially in the field of philosophy. I had to put into consideration a lot of factors before giving my personal opinion. Nevertheless, I agree that the works of great philosophers are insightful and can often be relied on. On that note, I continue arguing that the idea of describing the era of early religion as primitive is arrogant and misconceived. This is due to the fact that we fail to acknowledge the fact that advancement in technology does not necessarily make us wiser and different from the tribal people during the prehistoric times. They were still rational beings who also invented their own ways and practices that enabled them to survive, such as oral traditions being passed down from one generation to the next.
However, I disagree with the notion that writing failed to develop during the prehistoric period because people chose so because they had no need. I believe that the technology and ability to develop writing had not been established yet, however, there were traces of its invention evidenced by art and carvings, which can be viewed as a form of early writing. Further, I agree with the argument that early religion has both positive and negative impacts in shaping the society. This is due to the fact that religion promoted the idea of love, harmony, support, and hard work, especially with the development of agriculture. On the other hand, it introduced inhumane practices, such as human sacrifices as well as practices that were harsh to the ecological environment. It also promoted strict conditions on what would be acceptable behavior or whether it was right and moral. This denied people the freedom of choice and thought.
Various emotional responses generate in my mind as I read the journal. In my opinion, I was excited and thrilled to have had an opportunity to study this reading in my philosophy class. I gained unique understanding about early religion across the globe and its development in the modern society. I have discovered that indeed the world’s traditions that took place during the pre-modern history played a major role in shaping today’s society. The reading prompted me to be open-minded and impartial, especially when trying to understand the early practices. More often, our personal feelings and experiences blind us when studying some important concepts in philosophy, especially religion since it involves personal decisions on what beliefs one lives up to. This is mostly influenced by a person’s upbringing and the environment they interacted with both at an early stage and as adults.
I remember learning the difference between the human reasoning and what differentiates them with animals. One of the main differences I learned was the human ability to think critically and apply reasoning that is unique in their daily lives. It reminds this reading by Huston because one of the main points made by the author is the fact that the religious nature of man has been in existence for centuries, and some parts of it are still similar today. This is evidenced by practices, such as Christmas and Easter holidays, holidays that I personally engage in and usually anticipate every year because of the happiness and joy that comes along with such holidays.
In conclusion, there are two important awakening ideas I have identified and learned from the reading that has significantly impacted on my understanding of early religion and the changes that have occurred over time. First, that with technological advancement and high literacy levels in the 21st century, religion is endangered due to the diverse reasoning and opinions that are influenced by the changes brought by technology. The separation of spirituality and religion will result in an emphasis of how people live and less concentration on people’s beliefs. This would eventually turn the world toady into a competitive place and a materialistic age with weak social and religious organizations thus the need to impart transformation in the coming generations. The society ought to be sensitized on the importance of not being blinded by the advancement brought about by an agricultural and technological change to forget the need to build strong social groups and retain our humanity and moral values.
Second, the idea of a patriarchal society is fading in society and women roles are changing in the current era. Women and men ought to work together and live in peace, love, and harmony other than oppression of women by men in society. Despite the notion of competition and wealth, it is important to learn from some of the practice during the early religion to maintain harmonious and strong relationships today.