Religion has been a factor of the human experience throughout history, from pre-historic to modern times. The bulk of the human religious experience pre-dates written history. Written history (the age of formal writing) is only roughly 5,000 years old. A lack of written records results in most of the knowledge of pre-historic religion being derived from archaeological records and other indirect sources, and from suppositions. Much pre-historic religion is subject to continued debate.
Despite claims by some researchers of bear worship, belief in an afterlife, and other rituals, current archaeological evidence does not support the presence of religious practices by modern humans or Neanderthals during this period.
38,000 BC: The AurignacianLöwenmensch figurine, the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world and one of the oldest known sculptures in general, was made. The sculpture has also been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, although it may have represented a deity.
35,000–26,001 BC: Neanderthal burials are absent from the archaeological record. This roughly coincides with the appearance of Homo sapiens in Europe and decline of the Neanderthals; individual skulls and/or long bones began appearing, heavily stained with red ochre and separately buried. This practice may be the origin of sacred relics. The oldest discovered "Venus figurines" appeared in graves. Some were deliberately broken or repeatedly stabbed, possibly representing the murders of the men with whom they were buried, or owing to some other unknown social dynamic.
25,000–21,000 BC: Clear examples of burials are present in Iberia, Wales, and eastern Europe. These, too, incorporate the heavy use of red ochre. Additionally, various objects were included in the graves (e.g. periwinkle shells, weighted clothing, dolls, possible drumsticks, mammoth ivory beads, fox teeth pendants, panoply of ivory artifacts, "baton" antlers, flint blades etc.).
13,000–8,000 BC: Noticeable burial activity resumed. Prior mortuary activity had either taken a less obvious form or contemporaries retained some of their burial knowledge in the absence of such activity. Dozens of men, women, and children were being buried in the same caves which were used for burials 10,000 years beforehand. All these graves are delineated by the cave walls and large limestone blocks. The burials share a number of characteristics (such as use of ochre, and shell and mammoth ivory jewellery) that go back thousands of years. Some burials were double, comprising an adult male with a juvenile male buried by his side. They were now beginning to take on the form of modern cemeteries. Old burials were commonly re-dug and moved to make way for new ones, with the older bones often being gathered and cached together. Large stones may have acted as grave markers. Pairs of ochred antlers were sometimes mounted on poles within the cave; this is compared to the modern practice of leaving flowers at a grave.
9130–7370 BC: This was the apparent period of use of Göbekli Tepe, one of the oldest human-made sites of worship yet discovered; evidence of similar usage has also been found in another nearby site, Nevalı Çori.
7500–5700 BC: The settlements of Çatalhöyük developed as a likely spiritual center of Anatolia. Possibly practicing worship in communal shrines, its inhabitants left behind numerous clay figurines and impressions of phallic, feminine, and hunting scenes.
7250-6500 BC: The ʿAin Ghazal statues were made in Jordan during the Neolithic. These statues were argued to have been gods, legendary leaders, or other figures of power. They were suggested to have been a representation of a fusion of previously separate communities by Gary O. Rollefson.
8th to 6th centuries BC: The Chandogya Upanishad is compiled, significant for containing the earliest to date mention of Krishna. Verse 3.17.6 mentions Krishna Devakiputra (Sanskrit: कृष्णाय देवकीपुत्रा) as a student of the sage Ghora Angirasa.
6th to 5th centuries BC: The first five books of the Jewish Tanakh, the Torah (Hebrew: תורה), are probably compiled.
6th century BC: Possible start of Zoroastrianism; however some date Zarathustra somewhere between 1400-1200 BC. Zoroastrianism flourished under the Persian emperors known as the Achaemenids. The emperors Darius (ruled 522–486 BC) and Xerxes (ruled 486–465 BC) made it the official religion of their empire.
600–500 BC: The earliest Confucian writing, Shu Ching, incorporates ideas of harmony and heaven.
599–527 BC: The life of Mahavira, 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism.
1801: the French Revolutionary Government and Pope Pius VII entered into the Concordat of 1801. While Roman Catholicism regained some powers and became recognized as "the religion of the great majority of the French", it was not afforded the latitude it had enjoyed prior to the Revolution and was not re-established as the official state religion. The Church relinquished all claims to estate seized after 1790, the clergy was state salaried and was obliged to swear allegiance to the State. Religious freedom was restored.
1819–1850: The life of Siyyid 'Alí Muḥammad Shírází (Persian: سيد علی محمد شیرازی), better known as the Báb, the founder of Bábism.
2008:Nepal, the world's only Hindu Kingdom, was declared a secular state by its Constituent Assembly after declaring the state a Republic on 28 May 2008.
2009: The Church of Scientologyin France was fined €600,000 and several of its leaders were fined and imprisoned for defrauding new recruits of their savings. The state failed to disband the church owing to legal changes occurring over the same time period.
2011:Civil war broke out in Syria over domestic political issues. The country soon split along sectarian lines between Sunni Muslims, Alawite and Shiites. War crimes and acts of genocide were committed by both parties as religious leaders on each side condemned the other as heretics. The Syrian civil war soon became a battleground for regional sectarian unrest, as fighters joined the fight from as far away as North America and Europe, as well as Iran and the Arab states.
2014: A supposed Islamic Caliphate was established by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in regions of war torn Syria and Iraq, drawing global support from radical Sunni Muslims. This was a modern-day attempt to re-establish Islamic self-rule in accordance with strict adherence to Shariah-Islamic religious law. In the wake of the Syrian civil war, Islamic extremists targeted the indigenous Arab Christian communities. In acts of genocide, numerous ancient Christian and Yazidi communities were evicted and threatened with death by various Muslim Sunni fighter groups. After ISIS terrorist forces infiltrated and took over large parts of northern Iraq from Syria, many ancient Christian and Yazidi enclaves were destroyed.
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^Rollefson, Gary O (January 2002). "Ritual and Social Structure at Neolithic 'Ain Ghazal". In Kujit, Ian (ed.). Life in Neolithic Farming Communities: Social Organization, Identity, and Differentiation. New York, New York: Springer. p. 185. ISBN9780306471667.
^Clifton, Chas (1998). "The Significance of Aradia". in Mario Pazzaglini. Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, A New Translation. Blaine, Washington: Phoenix Publishing, Inc.. p. 73. ISBN0-919345-34-4.
^Leo P. Chall, Sociological Abstracts, vol 26 issues 1–3, "Sociology of Religion", 1978, p. 193 col 2: "Rutherford, through the Watch Tower Society, succeeded in changing all aspects of the sect from 1919 to 1932 and created —a charismatic offshoot of the Bible student community."
^Faculty of Catholic University of America, ed (1967). "Vatican Council II". New Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV (1 ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 563. OCLC 34184550.
^Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 69. ISBN1-57075-638-4.
^Hahnenberg, Edward (2007). A Concise Guide to the Documents of Vatican II. City: Saint Anthony Messenger Press. pp. 44. ISBN0-86716-552-9.
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^The Church of Satan: A History of the World's Most Notorious Religion by Blanche Barton (Hell's Kitchen Productions, 1990, ISBN0-9623286-2-6)
^ abMcKay, George (1996) Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties, ch.1 'The free festivals and fairs of Albion', ch. 2 two 'O life unlike to ours! Go for it! New Age travellers'. London: Verso. ISBN1-85984-028-0
^Icelandic, "Hugmyndin að Ásatrúarfélaginu byggðist á trú á dulin öfl í landinu, í tengslum við mannfólkið sem skynjaði ekki þessa hluti til fulls nema einstöku menn. Það tengdist síðan þjóðlegum metnaði og löngun til að Íslendingar ættu sína trú, og ræktu hana ekki síður en innflutt trúarbrögð." Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson (1992:140).
^"Fyrirspurnartími". Morgunblaðið, 27 November 1973.
^Ólafur Jóhannesson. Stjórnskipun Íslands. Hlaðbúð, 1960. Page 429.
^Icelandic, "fór fram með tilþrifum og atorku", "Reiddust goðin?" Vísir, 7 August 1973.
^ÞS. "Blótuðu Þór í úrhellisrigningu." Vísir, 7 August 1973.
^E. Szafarz, "The Legal Framework for Political Cooperation in Europe" in The Changing Political Structure of Europe: Aspects of International Law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN0-7923-1379-8. p.221.