3.I: Introduction And Timelines

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Science and religion are nearly opposite belief systems.  How did we end up with both?  Of all the thousands of religions, how did just four of them grow to engulf ¾ of the human population?  Why did Europeans colonize other continents and not the other way around?      

The most powerful new forces of history in the last few millennia were empires and world religions.  Section II discusses these institutions in the abstract. The modern European form of imperialism looms largest in our concept of history today.  It was the most recent wave and the first intercontinental imperialism.  However, it was certainly nothing new.   Sections III and IV chronicle the empires and world religions of ancient history, a time that was characterized by land-based expansion within Eurasia and northern Africa. Section V discusses the “Middle Ages”, when Asian empires were dominant.  Section VI looks at the ancient – medieval history of the non-Eurasian world.  The first modern empires established by European overseas colonialism are the subject of section VII. 

Finally, section VIII turns to a different theme, the progress of reasoned thought, a crucial lead-in to chapter 2.  Politico-religious thought had evolved out of the instinct that some people are better than others, and that righteous living means following the right people.  Philosophy, logic, and science sought a new objective path to a reality that would be the same for everyone.  These new modes of thought created an uneasy tension between truth and belief, between instinct and honesty, that is still unresolved to this day.             

Up to Chapter 3

Continue to Section 3.II: Overview Of Empires And World Religions

  1. Calligraphy Aum Om image by WikimediaImages (accessed, saved, and archived 1/30/21).  File:Crucifix.svg – Wikimedia Commons by RootOfAllLight (accessed, saved, and archived 1/30/21).  Buddha image by ReSampled, https://pixabay.com/vectors/meditation-buddha-meditate-buddhism-3592516/ (accessed, saved, and archived 1/30/21).  Islamic crescent by DonovanCrow, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Islamic-Symbol.png (accessed, saved, and archived 1/30/21).  Parthenon icon by Jason Dilworth, https://thenounproject.com/term/acropolis/174628/ (accessed, saved, and archived 1/30/21).  Star of David by Zscout370, Public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Star_of_David.svg (accessed and saved 1/28/21).  Caesar image by OpenClipArt-Vectors, https://pixabay.com/vectors/man-person-roman-rome-education-156549/ (accessed, saved, and archived 1/30/21). Chinese architecture icon by https://pixabay.com/illustrations/pagoda-new-year-china-735491/ , free for commercial use (accessed, saved, and archived 1/31/21).
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