Civilizations have utilized the concept of “god” or “gods” in a variety of different ways.
Gods were used in many aboriginal cultures as a way to explain the spectacular and mysterious powers of nature. Ancient societies had little understanding of the science behind the natural world and used the concept of “god” as a way to explain certain life changes. Gods were used to give meaning and reference to the natural world.
Gods were also used by early civilizations as a way to blame misfortune on another, far-removed power. When wars didn’t go their way or harvest failed, rulers or leaders could come under fire. However, if the event were blamed on “the gods” it would become a grievous sin or dangerous choice to take offense at what had happened. It provided a type of shield to developing societies, which allowed leaders a certain amount of breathing room to stabilize their rule free of criticism and discord.
Gods were also used to help teach people about their own roles in a civilizations world. Many gods, like those worshipped by the Greeks, Mesopotamians, and Aztecs, were given human characteristics and behaviors. Tales of these gods were used to teach morality and social order to their respective societies.