Origins of religions

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(Onyekwelu H.C.)2009

(See Humphrey Onyekwelu; Christian Religious Studies; edited by Ogundu Nnaji; Enugu; OCPC;2006).
From these tribal names given to God and gods, it is obvious that Nigerians believed in and worshipped the Supreme Being (God) before the introduction of Christianity and Western culture. Their gods and God supported them during adverse periods like famine, oppression, barrenness, slavery, poor harvest, epidemic, disease, premature death, infant mortality and other misfortunes.

At such critical times, members consulted priests and diviners of deities to find out the will of the gods through sacrifices to the deities and ancestors, to attract relief from their problems. They recognized God as the Supreme Being, the source and controller of life in heaven and on earth. They also reverenced the Supreme Being as all powerful, all knowing and the dispenser of justice and equity; In African traditional Religion, God punishes the wicked and vindicates the poor and oppressed.


The search for relationship with God is worldwide. Other world religions also search for close relationships with God in different ways. (Eliade Mircia; Encyclopedia of Religion 1989). These world religions are:


This is the religion of the Jews (Hebrews) as recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible; it was promoted by Moses through whom God gave them the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue) c1, 500 B.C. The Jews solemnly call God, “Yahweh” (the covenant name of God), or “Elohim”, (the general name for God) or “Adonai” meaning, Lord. They worship God according to the Old Testament scriptures. That is why, unlike Christians, Jews meticulously observe mosaic laws like the Sabbath day and offering of animal and other sacrifices to God in order to maintain their relationship with Yahweh, (Cecil Roth Encyclopedia of Judaism Jersalem; Kester: 1970)


It is practiced by Indians and central Asians it was founded more than 500 years before Jesus. It grew out of the teachings of Gautama Buddha, the founder. The religion is based on the ascetic principle that suffering purifies the soul; Buddhists use the Vedas as their Holy Scripture.


This religious philosophy is still practiced by the Chinese. It was founded by Confucius an important Chinese thinker who taught among other things that one should be loyal to ones family, friends and rulers, and to treat others as oneself. Confucianism was a Chinese moral philosophy.

HINDUISM (Hebrew “Hodu” = Indians), Ester 1:1-5: (See Hebrew O.T, 2008)

Hinduism is said to have been probably founded by one Hindu, or it developed as a collection of 1,000 years Indian (Indus Valley) and Asian traditional customs which include the practice of social ranks (cast system). Ascetic Hinduism is older than Buddhism. The Hindu Brahman is the Supreme spirit. Followers of this belief system have links to oriental sanscrit writings.


Taoism is another Chinese moral Philosophy which existed before the first century CE of Christian and Islamic monotheisms. Taoism like other oriental (i.e. indo-China) religions and belief systems is partially ascetic and partially mystic.


This involves Asian ecstatic dancing dervishes who, behave like modern day spirit possessed Pentecostals. They achieve ecstasy through consistent drummings.


These three oriental belief systems originated from Hinduism, they all practice asceticism which include suicide if in pain. (See stoicism) Ogundu (2000)


Jainism is an oriental religion which took some of its tenets from Hinduism and Buddhism. Jainism has the sutras as its scripture. They practice the sallekhana austerity. They believe that one returns after death in another form, perhaps Pseudo-transmigration. (A Pythagorean belief system). Jains are about 7 million worldwide, mostly in India.)


This was a duality Religion of constant battles between good and evil. It came through Zoroaster of Persia, and may have been practiced by King Cyrus of Daniel 5 and 6 who over threw Belsazzar of Babylonia.


This is the ancient religion of the Japanese. They believe in the worship of spirits of nature and spirits of dead relations i.e (ancestor worship). It was founded by a probable Shinto, who emphasized offerings of food grains to family shrine.


Mc Cain; (New Testament Notes; Jos; ACTS;1996) Mystery religions from Egypt, Babylon and Persia etc existed before Christ; some involved cultic and sexual orgies. They included Osiris and Isis in (Egypt) Demeter/eleusian fertility cults in (Greece) Ishtar and Tammuz in (Babylon) and Perce - phone, Adonis and Aphrodite in (Greece) they taught death and resurrection, including moral Mithraism from Rome. Religions listed above are older than Christianity and Islam. However, they are based more on nature and human ideologies, asceticism, mysticism and cult practices rather than on the fact of God and divine revelations. (John Noss: Man’s Religions; 1970). However, - members of these world religions still observe principles and practices of their faiths in their continuous search for relationships with God.


This is-the practice of professing two or more Religions at the same time e.g. practicing traditional religion and Christianity simultaneously. - - - -


  1. All religions believe there is a supreme being (God), the creator and controller of the world. You must trust and obey his commandments so as to benefit from his love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and eternal life after death.

  2. For peaceful co existence, we should tolerate other people’s religious beliefs and practices, tolerance and practical Christian living can lead to true conversion of your friends; but religious bigotry, violence and criticism can tear you apart.


  1. It is generally accepted that all religions are still searching for good relationships with God. Give reasons why this is so.

  2. What are the names of God in Igbo, Yoruba Igala, Efik, Nupe, Fulani and Hausa, why is “name” very important in our relationships with God and fellowmen?

  3. Mention (a) two world religions you know, (b) the people that practice them, and (c) the founders’

Bendix, (1977), (1960). Max Weber: an intellectual Portrait. Berkeley: University of California Press..

Christiano, Kelvin J.; Swatos, William H.; Kivisto , Peter (2008). Sociology of Religion:

Contemporary Developments (2nd ed.) Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.

Evans-Pritchard, (1965). Theories of Primitive Religion. Sir D. Owen Evans lectures, 1962.

Oxford: Clarendon:

Nauta, (1998). “Stark Rodney”. In Swatos, William H.; Jr. Encyclopedia of Religion and

Society. Alta-Mira Press.

NET, 2015, 2016

Online Data Sources : 2012-2014.

Nnaji C.O. (2015) Bio-Chemistry of Religion (Enugu and Abuja: Theometry).

Nnaji C.O. (2011) Origin and True Meaning of Philosophy (Enugu and Owerri Theometry)

Nnaji C.O. (2014) Ancient Religion was Philosophim (Enugu and Abuja: Theometry)



Theories and Origins of the Religions

Basic Theology

Countries and Peoples

Prehistoric Baal Worship (Phoenician gods)

i.e. before 15,000 to 5,000 BC

anthropological origins

Baal is Nimrod Gen.10

Baal worship produced polytheism (many gods)

Cannibal is from Kanabaal, i.e. flesh eating Baal priests



(Early men)

Polytheism (spirits and gods)

  1. 40,000 BC (Prehistoric Homo Sapiens, earliest African and Asian societies. (Geographical origins)

  2. From Latin “Anima”, i.e. spirit.

Belief that spirits, divinities and gods live in natural or physical objects like rivers, oceans, seas, trees, mountains, valleys etc

Homo sapiens and ancient societies c 40,000 years ago.

Ancestor worship

(ancient Africans and Asians)

C50, 000BC from African and Indo-Asian Burial rites.

(superstitious origins)

  1. Worshipping spirits of dead relations as intermediary gods.

  2. Modern elaborate and costly burial ceremonies and yearly remembrance anniversaries.

Ancient, Asians, Africans, Europeans, Americans, Australia, New Zealand etc.

Taoism (5,000 BC); see Taiwan from Laotzu (what someone should do, i.e. morality)

Living in Harmony with nature.

(Bio geographical origins)

Basic human morality as against 6th century BC special.

Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism of China from Tao or Duo-ism, means divine orderliness.

Taoism and Confucianism search for the way to heaven; (not God) but divine will caused or created all things. Believe in and worship of Plethora or multiplicity of gods acting as intermediaries between the supreme deity (God) and man.

(Theories of mystical origins)

i.e. salvation and orderliness without the concept of God or a personal god.


(Indo- China witch doctors also similar to the South African Sangoma, Ibo “Dibia” and Yoruba “Babalawo”

Ancient Polytheism theories of origin

      1. Consulting the medium or intermediary witch doctors.

      2. Also called Dancing dervishes i.e. ecstatic drumming and dance rituals, to invoke the supernatural.

India China or Asian people

Shintoism from Japan

Japanese religion against Indian Buddhism.

(700CE) from rice cultivation (fertility cults origins)

Offering rice rituals (ways of the gods) to the gods at family kamidanas (i.e. shrines)

Shinto was battling against alien religions like Buddhism and Hinduism c750CE.

Druidery (Asia of the Druids)

Prehistoric theories of origins

Respect for nature and morality

Recognized by Britain in 2010.

Witchcraft and Religions of Black Magic and Spiritism (i.e. Hebrew “Sophetim” or “Sophroti” (i.e. the serpent spirit) of divination (Ceseph).

Early man (parapsychic-theistic origins) from Persia (i.e. Asianos and Philistia, etc, Isaiah 2;6.

  1. Consulting extraordinary esoteric powers for evil or to harm or for sorcery.

  2. Polytheistic (many gods) Theology or Pantheon cults and shrines.

Africa, Red Indians, Asia, Greeks, Romans, Celts etc.

Christianity (c3BC/CE) by Jesus of Nazareth.

Monotheism (one God)

From Nazareth and Galilee of Judea in Palestine. Soteric theories of origins.

      1. One God Theology (Monotheism)

      2. Salvation by grace through believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

      3. John13:34- love (See the Bible).


Egyptian worship of the Sun (Sun-god) Ra or El (El-Helluim).

Polytheism (gods)

C4,000BC; Geothenic sociodynamic origins

Conceiving the sun and its powerful light and heat as evidences of divinity.

Upper and lower Egypt. (Mizrain) etc.

Islam 570CE Monotheism (one God) by Prophet Mohammed in Mecca and Medina. (i.e. Yatrib)

During the Arabian Jahiliyya (i.e. ignorance).i.e. the Jahiliyya social theory.

      1. One God (Tawhid or Kharlimatu Shahada)

      2. The five pillars of the Kharlima (Iman) i.e. one God, Salat (prayer) sawn (fasting) zakat (tithe) and Hajj.

See the Quran and Hadith.


Hinduism (No founder) see

      1. Karma Yoga

      2. JnanaYoga

      3. Bhakti Yoga

      4. Raja Yoga (i.e. the four ways of liberating the soul)

From over 5,000 years accumulated cultures and traditions of the Hindi (Indian) peoples.

(Psychosocial synthesis origins of the Hindu religion)

Moksha theology i.e. liberation of the human soul from a frustrating cycle of rebirth into existence especially the lower caste. (Reincarnation Theology)

(see the upper and lower caste systems (i.e. Ibo Osu or outcasts)

Indo-china, USA, Korea, Taiwan, etc


(From sikh which means disciple)

C1510 in Punjab (Pakistani Guru Nanaka wanted to merge Hinduism with Islam; i.e. there is only one God and he is our father) Sikhs are violent (opposite of peaceful Jains)

Unity of all religions under a common God (after a theology of force)

Pakistan, India, Bangladesh.


(by Gautama Sindharta Buddha) Buddha means enlightenment without God


Dissatisfaction with (Hinduism from the Pali Canonical text)

(metapsychic origins)

  1. What is the meaning of life, i.e. old age, suffering, vicissitudes etc

  2. Entering the Nirvan, i.e. paradise. (or Al-Janah)

  3. Meditating and resisting temptation etc.

Indo-China, Japan, Korea, USA, Malaysia, Singapore etc.

Judaism (c1,450 BC)

Practicing the Ten Commandments of Moses. Deut 6, Exodus 20 etc

From the nation of Israel

Solipstic theory of self- preservation.

Basic Theology of one God and total obedience to God’s Law (the Torah) and the centrality of the Levitical priesthood. Deuteronomy 10:1-15.

Worldwide (Note; Judaism is incorporated into Christianity and Islam.

Jainism by Indian Prince Natapurta Jardhamana Nahavita (Great Hero) at Karnataka, in India.

C5, 000BC in the Indo- China sub continent.

Self denial and non-violence (i.e. Ahimsa leads to salvation; Mohandas or Mahatma Ghandhi (1869-1948) was a member). He was also a Hindu teacher

India, Pakistan etc.


(A quasi or pseudo philosophical Persian belief- system).

Please note some philosophical new religious movements which attempt to explain existence or solve existential problems without necessarily involving God and salvation e.g. Secret Societies, scientology,Eckankar, Grail Message, Al Krishna, Bahai, Rosicrucian, Amorc, Mormons, Sat Guru Maharaj etc.

    1. Already visible by 500CE.

    2. Persian cults or cultic traditions.

      1. Duality of forces theology.

      2. Or constant battle or friction between opposing forces in nature (Phusika) or in existence (between good and evil, or light and darkness) etc.

Iran (i.e. Persia) Syria etc.


C1750CE (i.e. 18th century rise of scientific reasoning)

Believe in God but rejection of religion.



C1800CE philosophical Europe.

Total rejection of God, religion and morality


  • African Traditional Religion (ATR).

C1900CE: European revivalism

No aspect of human culture should be rejected not even religion, to avoid terrorism.

Europe, U.S.A, Latin America, Africa.

  • The Ibo “Chi Ukwu and Amadioha”

  • The Yoruba “Olorun” and “Olodumare”,

  • The “Asantihene” i.e. god king of Ghana etc

Accumulated prehistoric African and alien cultures and traditions.

    1. Monopolytheism and polymonotheism, i.e. worship of God through spirits and divinities wrongly called gods.

    2. The spiritual controls the physical. (See Nnaji C.O (2012) Origin and True Meaning of Philosophy; Abuja Theometry).

Africa sub continent.

Totemism (See Ngugu Wa Thiango) in Weep Not Child (i.e. during Colonial Kenya).

      1. Prehistoric Anthropological African traditions of evolutionary relationships between early humans and lower animals.

    1. Believe in personal gods or guardian spirits.

    2. Kenyan Erpetoric (i.e. reptile) guardian spirits.

    3. The Ezza- Abakaliki “Agwo” (harmless green snakes) guardian spirits.

Africa and beyond.

See Watch Tower (1990) Mankind’s Search for God (Watch Tower: Pennsylvania) Also Mircea, Eleade (1989) Encyclopedia of Religion (New York; Clarendom). (See also John Noss (1970) Man’s Religions in Ogundu C.O (2000) A philosophical and Religious Analyses of Suicide PhD Thesis, January 2000) etc

The Secularism Triangle


Science Religion

(i. e. man beliefs he can get to God without Religion; or that science has made life easier, hence men are beginning to solve their problems

Assyro-Babylonian Gods and Goddesses (See Watch Tower, 1990)

  • Anu-the supreme god, reigning over the heavens; father of Ishtar.

  • Asshur- national warrior-god of the Assyrians; also god of fertility.

  • Ea- god of water. Father of Marduk. Warned Utnapishtim of the flood.

  • Enlil (Bel)- lord of the air; latter paralleled in Greek mythology by Zeus. Assimilated by the Babylonians into Marduk (Bel).

  • Ishtar: divine personification of the planet Venus; sacred prostitution a part of her cult. She was Astarte in Phoenicia, Atargatics in Syria, Ashtoreth in the Bible (1 Kings 11:5,33), Aphrodite in Greece, Venus in Rome.

  • Marduk- first among the Babylonian gods; “absorbed all the other gods and took over all their various functions”. Called Merodach by the Israelites.

  • Shamash- sun god of light and justice. Forerunner of the Greek Apollo.

  • Sin- moon god, member of the triad that included Shamash (the sun) and Ishtar (the planet Venus)

  • Tammuz (Dumuzi)- the harvest –god. Ishtar’s lover.

  • (Based on the New Encyclopedia of Mythology)


Worship of the mythical gods of Greece and Rome was in full sway when Christianity came on the scene nearly two thousand years ago. In Asia Minor the Greek names still prevailed, which explains why the people of Lystra (in present day Turkey) called the Christian healers Paul and Barnabas “gods” referring to them as Hermes and Zeus respectively, rather than as Roman Mercury and Jupiter. The account says that “the priest of Zeus, whose temple was before the city brought bulls and garlands to the gates and was desiring to offer sacrifices with the crowds”. (Acts 14:8-18). Only with difficulty did Paul and Barnabas convince the crowd not to make sacrifices to them. It illustrates how seriously those people took their mythology back then.

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