Evolution of Religions

Evolution of Religions April 16, 2015

A colleague drew my attention to this infographic which claims to show the evolution of major religious traditions (click through to see the whole thing):


Some parts strike me as quite bizarre – Hellenism as a religion, and a precursor of Theosophy while Gnosticism is off on a separate branch. Some are probably more accurate than some would admit – Canaanite polytheism as the ancestor of Judaism. Some reflect a view that some might share, but a group itself would not – such as the listing of Sufism as a separate religion from Islam. And some must be deliberately tongue-in-cheek, such as the inclusion of the scientific method and quantum mechanics.

Had you seen it before? What do you think of it?

If you are interested in infographics about religion, you should also definitely check out one that the National Post shared a couple of years ago.

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  • Michael Wilson

    It is a bit of mess. Interestingly the icon for European fertility religion is an egyptian idol. If I may go on, im not sure why it is fertility religion not just animism like the other primitive religions. These kinds of family trees are pretty difficult for culture ideas, as we see with Gnosticism.

  • Mike Wilson

    Regarding the evolution of Mesopotamian polytheism, Egyptian polythesim did not evolve from it and more likely it and Canaan polytheism evolved from a common ancestor. Mesopotamian religion is a Sumerian base with adoptions from semitic religion from the east. Cannanite religion is descended from the proto semitic base and later influence from Mesopotamia. Complicated. I could go on.

  • Cecil Bagpuss

    The broken lines indicate horizontal meme transfer 🙂

  • The scientific method is an offshoot of Hellenic thought. What has Islam to do with it?

    • The reference is obviously to the preservation and development of that Greek tradition in the Islamic world, from whence it was mediated back to Europe, sparking the Renaissance. But presumably you knew that, right?

      • Yes, I knew that Western European High Middle Ages scholars used Greek texts mediated by the Middle Easterners of their day. But these were still Greek texts, so the scientific method owes more to Hellenic thought than Arabistic. And I don’t think the scientific method owes much of anything to Islam itself, as opposed to general Middle Eastern thought in the 8th-13th centuries AD.

  • sbh

    Where is Manichaeism? Where is Shintoism? How is the scientific method related to either Christianity or Islam and it what sense is it a religious tradition? How is Theosophy descended from Hellenism? And so on. That being said, I like the basic concept; I think it could be done a great deal better.

  • Some of those links are very weird. Egyptian religion descended from Mesopotamian? Mithraism descended from Canaanite religion rather than Persian religion? Semitic, Indo-European, and even Chinese(!) religions having a common ancestor? And is that supposed to be some kind of universal common ancestor at the bottom there?

    It’s a nice idea to make a diagram like this but there’s no way I’d use this one.

  • Try this one (I have no idea why it exists or how I found it):


    • I like that one, although I am sorry that it doesn’t clearly show the Mandaeans as a Gnostic group that persists to the present day.

  • JKD

    The book “FAITH VS FACTS” is a Living Proof of Someone’s Stupidity who thinks his science (which is Not the Real Science for making such a conclusion so early) has discovered some answers that can suppress religion forever.

    The actual phenomenon is that in the Nature there is observable Evolution as well as observable Revolution, both by means of Natural Selection. Up to the date, No solid proof at any cost that pointing to “No Great Mind” behind the Natural Selection. That’s for sure and undeniably Right.

    The Evolution of Languages & the Evolution of Religions played a Vital Role in the Main Evolution by means of Natural Selection. Both Evolution of Religions and Languages have made all of us Human Beings.

    Both Evolution made human to create “First Tool” for cutting off the ever growing Hair and finger Nail after an Enlightenment that Without “Stopping” the Growth of Human Hair and finger Nail, there is NO chance at all for “human” to be Human at any cost and at any moment of time. That’s for Sure and Undeniably Right.

    History proves that cutting off the Hair and finger Nails were a regular activity associated to Religion performed by a Central figure or Priest entertains everybody Religiously. Some even branch out adding the Circumcision as one time ritual of a life time for every member of tribe with Central head of Priest perform it with prayer and blessing.

    Without cutting of the Hair and Finger Nails on regular basis would be the Greatest problem ever which is No existence of Human species at any cost and at any moment of time.

    The Enlightenment (A Great Mind) of “First Tool” was strongly related to Religion. Other species don’t have such a problem of ever growing Finger Nail and Hair.

    The Book “FAITH VS FACTS” is also a Living Proof of someone’s Stupidity who unintentionally proved that his Science is FAITH Based Theory like any other Religious Faith based Theory of Science. What a Sad move !!

    The Painful Truth is that we have more to discover once we’ve made a discovery .