Ideas That Shaped Our Modern World
Humans are a problem-solving animal. We evolve both physically and mentally in response to challenges, which enables us to move beyond our inheritance.
About 35,000 years ago, our ancestors first began to conceive of a tiered cosmos and to formulate rituals to engage influential forces above and below—an idea that has been with us ever since.
The relationship between people and their god(s) was of primary importance all over the world. As populations grew, settlements became cities. Order was achieved through religious hierarchy – priests and leaders ensured that they had access to “secrets” using religion to stay powerful.
It was a pivotal time in early human history when, in four distinct parts of the world, our ancestors began to reflect for the first time on individual responsibility and the meaning of life and death. The concept of one single God—to be worshipped not through ritual but through daily life—developed around personal transformation and responsibility.
Understanding how religious traditions evolved and intermingled sheds light on contemporary beliefs and rituals, the forces that shape human thought, and our mind’s great potential for change and development.
Like all the Axial prophets and teachers, his aim was spiritual revitalization—a new “kingdom” in which those who listened and followed could fulfill their potential and destiny.
The decline in traditional values was an existential threat to his tribe. Muhammad’s insight was that social reform had to be based on a new spiritual foundation.
The Institute for Cultural Research
“The concentration they bestowed upon their spiritual ideas led men to new ways of thinking which broadened their outlook in other directions. And from early on, this spiritual quest drove people to Herculean efforts which in turn expanded the frontiers of technical possibility…Without their gods to drive them on, it is unlikely that men would have considered, let alone undertaken, such a vast achievement of engineering.”