Is History of Religion the History of God?
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Usually, people misconceive the history of religion as the history of God. But it is an oversimplification of a highly complex idea. Religion is the source of spiritual satisfaction for the predominant majority of the world. It has always been like this, that the multitudes have preferred associating itself with a deity, to which it could ascribe all the miseries and misfortune of life. Perhaps, by doing this the human conscience has been able to absolve itself from the personal guilt and national calamities.

By this way, religion has tended to relieve men from many tragedies of their daily lives. While on the other hand, it has given them a sense of belonging with their coreligionists. This sense of belonging gradually swelled into a community that subsequently takes up a form of national identity.

Certainly, this aspect of religion has helped creating social identities whose interests and threats, over time, converge with each other. Since time immemorial, this group identity, based on religion has created harmony within the national bounds. But at the same time, it has also created a division at the global level. History reflects that most of the times these divisions proved to be irreconcilable, and it was the sword that most frequently served as the mediator.

Another important question asked is whether religion has done more harm or helped in human relations. It is also too complex to answer. For if the history books are the standards of past knowledge, then we are left with few doubts about the formidable role religion has played in global politics of each recorded history. Undoubtedly, religion has been the single biggest and most frequent tool to ‘tame’ vanquished nations. Without a few magnificent exceptions, the religion of the dominated class or the ruling monarch has always tended to subvert the religions of the subjects.

From Moses to Jesus, and from Christ to Mohammad, each religion has jealously guarded the superior existence of its time. All these monotheistic religions have been blamed for more intolerance than their polytheistic counterparts.

However, the further distinction between monotheism and polytheism is also worthy of note here. The theory of polytheistic tolerance also receives a blow, if not complete refutation, from the history of the Roman Empire which saw a series of persecution of Jews and early Christian at the hands of Romans. Undoubtedly, the crucifixion of Christ, during the early reigns of the Roman Empire, is one of the biggest incidences of history and probably the utmost example of human tragedy. But it was one insignificant incident of blasphemy by the Roman standards who were writing history then, it signalized the Pagan intolerance of the Roman Empire. The minute details of these state-led persecutions in the Roman Empire are found in Edward Gibbon’s voluminous “The History of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”.

History of God is lost in unending warfare among religions for the quest of political dominance, with temporal gains as the ulterior motives. History of God is something not synonymous with the history of religions, whose followers alike used or misused it for individual or national glories.

It is unfortunate that no religion has ever propagated intolerance, but throughout history, the ancient, as well as the modern world, has seen the persecutions in its name. Instead of learning the inclusivism, humans have developed an analogy of religious exclusivism where they have forsaken the delicate philosophy of religion, peace and harmony. We would have been living in a peaceful society if we realize that religion is like a road that leads to God, and there are many roads that lead to Him.



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