View Single Post
Old 01-23-2010, 04:34 PM   #18
PrinceOfTheHalflings's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 120
PrinceOfTheHalflings is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Originally Posted by skip spence View Post
This isn't my subject but looking at our cultural history I imagine it's very hard to find a single human civilisation or even tribe who hasn't got any religious beliefs, symbols, rituals, superstitions etc they share and find meaning in...
Most of what we know about the beliefs or superstitions of prehistoric people relies on artifacts, cave paintings and evidence that they did things like bury their dead. Well, if we uncovered archeological evidence of the Rohirrim then we'd probably conclude that they did have religion, because they certainly buried their dead in a ritualistic ceremony (as did all the other cultures of Middle Earth, as far as I can tell).

Also there seems to be widespread belief in an afterlife by Men and Dwarves. That's a religious-kind-of-belief. Also there is a general belief in supernatural quasi-deities known as the Valar, who reportedly live in a realm inaccessible to Mortals.

Of course your question is really "why is there no organised religion in Middle Earth?" As far as the actual history of our world is concerned, we know very little about when organised religion arose or, for that matter, why. It probably arose at the same time that people started to live in cities - around 5000 years ago - and it was probably encouraged by the city authorities, partly as a way to enforce order and moral codes and partly as a way of legitimising the authority of the leaders by positing an even higher power (God or Gods) from whom earthly leaders derived their own right to rule.

Even before there was organised religion, no doubt people had some form of superstitious beliefs. The world was a strange and mysterious place and people had a need to try to explain things that they observed. I imagine that it was natural to imagine that there were more powerful anthropomorphic entities that worked unseen to make the world work in the way it does.

However, in Middle Earth people know that there actually are supernatural beings who helped to create and maintain the world! The people of Middle Earth don't need to hypothesise the existence of demi-gods and nature spirits - they know they exist! The Downfall of Numenor is just one of many examples of the existence of the Valar. Also, the Men of Middle Earth are aware of the existence of other intelligent races - one of which is immortal. Elves and Dwarves aren't just the stuff of folk stories in Middle Earth: they really exist. In other words, Middle Earth really isn't like our world in certain important ways.

Let me put this another way "Is there religion in (Christian) Heaven? Do Christians have to go to Church there?" If you know for sure that God exists, because you can actually see God, then do you need a religion to promote faith in God's existence?

Perhaps it was just self-evident to the good people of Middle Earth that Eru existed and so they didn't need to build temples to promote faith in him.
PrinceOfTheHalflings is offline   Reply With Quote