Religion Stems from Fear Essay

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The presence of a higher power has bewildered humans probably since the beginnings of man. Neanderthals of the Paleolithic era believed in the afterlife and intentionally buried the dead. The Axial Period of the 6th century BCE saw the emergence of Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Taoism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, in which people began to question the implications of mankind. The ancient Greeks and Romans during the classical age established an array of gods each with their own qualities and entities. However, none of these faiths can compare to the Christian religion, which has dominated the spiritual realm since its beginnings after Jesus Christ. The triumph of Christianity and the subsequent belief in God owe largely to the fear that it installed in people’s hearts rather than its promises of eternal bliss. Devout Christians knew the implications of a sinful lifestyle and attempted in every means possible to attain salvation. St. Francis of Assisi, for example, led a pleasurable childhood that later forced him to give away his possessions to redeem himself for his previous sins. He sought to be as poor as he could be and urged others to follow his example. In fact, many people did emulate Francis’s austerity by entering monasteries, remote places where one could live wholly under the rules of God and earn God’s grace to escape punishment for one’s sins. The Christian Church urged people to live in poverty, although Church officials themselves did not adhere to their own preaching and often lived in materialistic luxury. The Church played a large part in ensuring that the laity did as it was told for fear of everlasting torture in Hell. People could not stand up or question the Church because the pope had the power of excommunication, or the condemnation of an individual from the Christian religion. This was first used by Ambrose, who excommunicated emperor
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