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This section contains information, facts, and worksheets on the development of religion and the worlds most popular religions.
What makes humans distinct from many creatures on this planet is consciousness. We’re aware not only of ourselves and those around us but also have a sense of a higher power. For as long as humans have been conscious, they’ve been looking up at the sky and at nature for patterns and signs that help them both survive and glean meaning and purpose from their existence.
The earliest forms of religion looked to the stars and nature to help them understand the seasons, when animals would come and go, when they should move or set up camp and, later, when to plant their crops for a good harvest. Nature is both powerful and unpredictable, however, and thus humans began giving natural phenomena human attributes to relate to the forces and to worship them, believing that human actions could inspire the beneficence or ire of the gods. Examples include the Greek and Roman gods who are closely linked to the natural elements.
As human civilizations grew more sophisticated, so too did their religions. With people now living in towns and cities, religion and worship became instrumental in social order and harmonious living. Some of the oldest religions in the world, Hinduism and Judaism, are examples of religion helping create order and harmony in densely populated communities – “Thou shall not steal” is just one of the Ten Commandments that Moses brought to the Jews and is elemental for a peaceful and fair community.
With each of the largest religions, namely Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism, religious leaders have played a central role in guiding their many followers. Christianity has Jesus and the disciples, Judaism Moses and Abraham, Islam the Prophet Mohammad and Buddhism Buddha. In each case, individuals have taken leadership and teaching roles that have helped millions build a relationship with God and gain greater understanding of one of the biggest question of the human condition: What is the meaning of life?
But with great power comes great responsibility. Religion has been used as a weapon of great destruction over many centuries, and no religion is blameless – the Crusades flew under the banner of Christianity, Islam is challenged with extremists like the Taliban and ISIS, Judaism is pivotal in the Palestine-Israeli conflict, Hindu-Muslim tension in India and Pakistan saw thousands persecuted and even Buddhists in South East Asia and Myanmar have risen to violence in the name of their religion.
But delve into each of the major religions, and they all tell a similar story of how to live as ideal humans with love and tolerance at their core. To explore other religions and understand their tenets is not to be unfaithful to your own beliefs – you might be surprised to learn that your faith shares similarities with others and that calling God by another name or perceiving the force of god as multiple entities is still referring to the same universal force.
At KidsKonnect, we encourage you and your students to explore the religions of the world in this category with worksheet packs on the major religions and popular religious ceremonies and festivals making it easy. And if there’s something you’re interested in that we haven’t got, contact us!