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Divine Discoveries: 10 Unexpected Ways Religion Has Changed Society
Although church membership in the United States is at an all-time low, organized religion’s influence on culture is as strong as ever.
Many still rely on religion to guide their morals and beliefs. Food, art, and even how our calendars are organized have all been majorly influenced by organized religion. But with how modern life feels today, the old influences can be lost in the blue-light glare of technology and progress.
On Reddit this week, users discussed what modern comforts we live with thanks to religion. These are a few of the top-voted responses.
1. Good Beer
That nice cold beer after a long, hard day? You have monks to thank for that.
“Most of the good European beer comes out of monasteries because monks found a way to cheat on fasting by just drinking,” u/afochso explained.
But, like with a lot of religious history, the positive doesn’t come without some controversy. According to another Redditor, religion may have created the best beer, but it also destroyed the traditional beer brewing process. “Many brewers prior were women who kept cats to control vermin around the grains, used massive cauldrons and sticks to centrifuge sediment in the brewing process, and wore big pointed hats and hung brooms outside their residence to signify their craft,” they wrote. “Remind you of witches? There’s a reason for that.”
2. Good Architecture
Despite its deep flaws, religion inspires amazing art.
For u/clakresed, “Cathedrals are really a remarkable thing, and are probably on their own why a lot of medieval peasantry cherished the church as an institution.”
“Don’t forget a huge amount of priceless works of art in general,” u/ThornyPlebeian added. “Just absolutely gorgeous paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and more from many major and minor religions. Say what you will about the value of religion, but the art that has come out of it is stunning and irreplaceable”
3. Baroque and Classical Music
If you listen to classical or baroque music at all, you’re listening to music that exists because of religion. Or, was at least created, if not commissioned, for religious services.
J.S. Bach is one famous composer who was employed (and inspired) by the church. He wrote two major works, “St. John Passion” and “St. Matthew Passion,” based on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as described in the gospels of John and Matthew.
The gods and myths of Ancient Greece have as much an influence on modern culture as monotheistic religions do.
As u/CaughttheDarkness reminded us: “The first actor as Greek tradition has it was a guy called Thespis (hence the term Thespian for actor) who was a poet and started pretending to be the characters of the stories he told.”
While there is some discrepancy about the validity of these claims, many believe plays began as part of the festival of Dionysia. “And even if not,” they added, “most early theatrical conventions for how tragedies are written and structured developed there.”
If there’s a hospital with a religious name in your town, there’s a reason for that. In what one Redditor referred to as “the old days,” many hospitals were originally opened by different churches.
The first “modern” hospitals — at least the way we would think of a hospital — were believed to be opened in the 6th century. These were originally established as places where Christians would care for the poor and the homeless and evolved into the major facilities we know today.
6. Modern Knowledge
Redditor u/Babybird3D won’t let us forget we have religion to thank for science and math.
“The Catholic Church ran and funded a lot of scientific research as well medical programs,” they explained, adding, “The Islamic golden age is also a good example of increased awareness of science, economics, and other areas of study.”
Most of the major holidays we celebrate originated with feast days and other important religious events.
Redditor u/MikuLovesYou said, “The sheer amount of holidays that can be traced back to the Catholic Church is crazy. I feel like most people don’t even know why Valentine’s Day is a holiday.”
“Universal literacy in the Western world absolutely has its origin in religion, and specifically through the Reformation,” NathanGu said.
“The idea that any person should be unable to read or write based on the whims of an authority figure was regarded as blasphemous, which began an immediate push to make everyone literate instead of simply the wealthy or well-connected.”
9. Days Off
Almost everyone can agree that days off work are the best thing ever and most anticipated days of the week.
u/Its_Gonna_Be_Okayy explained, “First, the Jews working in factories got loud about wanting their sabbath day off work. They got it and then the Catholics did the same about Sundays.”
10. Basically Everything Else
A “hardcore atheist” expressed why they thought religion was responsible for everything:
“Modern people forget that we’re literally just animals. Our primitive ancestors would never have banded together into functional societies if it wasn’t a pledge to something bigger than themselves, and given their limitations, it could have only been a religious identity.”
Apparently, you don’t have to be a believer to give religion it’s flowers.
Read the main thread here.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Boloere Seibidor, fondly called B.S. is a Nigerian-based writer and poet. Her favorite topics to cover include music, especially Hip-Hop, film, lifestyle, and fashion. She’s been published by Feral Journal, Fantasy Magazine, The Temz Review, and most notably, Wealth of Geeks. She enjoys romantic dinners, movie nights, and touring new sites. When she’s not writing, she’s delving back in time to the underground world of Hip-Hop, watching TikTok, or visiting the cinema.