Religion’s Role in the Development of Civilisation and the Spread of Culture
At the dawn of the last millennium, one could not have dreamed of a Europe as extravagant, bustling, stable, or even educated as that of today’s Europe. Among many others maladies, starvation, disease, and illiteracy, not to mention lack of hygiene, abundantly reigned over the continent. Economically underdeveloped, uncultured, the people uneducated, their only hope seemed to be the Christian Church, expanding and constantly gaining wealth and fame, and giving faith to the people of medieval Europe. Most people had become Christian by that point, although people of other religions, particularly those of the Jewish faith, managed to stay strong through internal networks, despite their not being tolerated by the Christians. Synagogues, family, and connections outside of Europe all helped the Jewish community stay strong, the Jews ultimately shaping the medieval European educational system, laying foundations for today’s learning. Religion did not only play a role in education, however; it also shaped the way people spent their days and lives, even; it shaped governments, governing bodies, and politics in the region; ultimately, religion shaped how people saw the world.
As Karl Marx put it, “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” and no truer words could have ever been spoken. Religion had given people something to do – it had become a way to pass the time, to explore, to be adventurous. While this may sound exciting, it did not go without the cost of many, many lives. Prime examples of “religious conquests” are the crusades, or religious wars blessed by the Pope and Catholic Church with the aim of taking over the Holy Lands again, Jerusalem in particular.
Although the Christian conquests to take over Jerusalem and ultimately take back what had previously been Christian failed, many crusaders brought back Muslim and Arab customs and traditions after having lived through different and...