10 Ancient Religions

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by: Jennifer Horton
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Buddhists believe in reincarnation, karma and the idea of achieving complete liberation, or Nirvana.
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Whether you go to mosque on Fridays, attend synagogue on Saturdays or pray in church on Sundays, religion has likely touched your life in one way or another. Even if the only thing you've ever worshipped is your La-Z-Boy recliner and big-screen TV, your world has nevertheless been shaped by the religious beliefs and practices of others.

People's faiths have influenced everything from political systems and great works of art to the clothes they wear and the foods they eat. Religious beliefs have also torn nations apart and inspired acts of violence, and until just 300 years ago, they also played a significant role in scientific discovery [source: Bowker].

Religion's impact on society is nothing new. Every civilization, from the Mayans to the Celts, has had some sort of religious practice. In its earliest forms, religion provided societies with a safe system in which they could reproduce and raise their young. For some, it also helped to explain a seemingly complex world [source: Bowker].

Evidence of religion has been found as far back as the Neolithic Age, and although religion has evolved greatly since the primitive rites of that time, no religion ever really dies [source: Stark]. Some, like Druidism, continue to this day, while others, such as the Ancient Greek and Roman religions, live on as aspects of newer religions like Christianity and Islam.

Despite the ancient beginnings of the following 10 faiths, you'll find that many of them share remarkable similarities to the major religions practiced today.

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