That always been immediately apparent. While the study of

That geography and religion can and do meet to form a valuable focus of inquiry has not always been immediately apparent. While the study of religions has engaged the attention of a large and ever-widening circle of scholars, research has tended to proceed under the varied rubrics of sociology, anthropology, philosophy, history, and certainly, theology. Classics that have had significant impact on the development of ‘religious thought’ have emerged from the pens of scholars professing several diverse disciplines.Time and again, geographers have harked back to geography’s ancient Greek roots to illustrate that the relationship between religion and geography is not newly invented and that both have in fact enjoyed a special relationship since ancient times. Isaac (1965: 2-5) and Gay (1971: 1), for example, pointed to how Greek geographers, in their concern with cosmological models, world diagrams and maps, reflected a world view much shaped by religion. Apart from ecclesiastical geography, ‘biblical geography’ also developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Reflecting the variety of labels, Isaac (1965:8) termed this the ‘historical geography of biblical times’. It involved attempts to identify places and names in the bible and to determine their locations, which illustrated once again the powerful influence of the Christian church.In the late seventeenth century yet another link between religion and geography emerged, a link which became particularly strong in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Nature was seen as a divinely created order for the wellbeing of all life. Scholars adopting the physico theological stance ardently defended the idea that in living nature and on all the Earth, evidence could be found of the wisdom of God (Glacken, 1959; 1967; Buttner, 1980: 94-95).The environmentally deterministic trend continued also. Ellen Semple (1911) argued, for instance, that the imagery and symbolism of a religion was affected by its place of birth: to the Eskimos, hell was a place of darkness, storm and intense cold; to the Jews, on the other hand, hell was a place of eternal fire. Ellsworth Huntington (1945) similarly suggested that objects of worship were frequently determined by geographical factors; for example, the rain god was one of the most important deities in India because rain there was uncertain.In short, the development of the geography of religion in this century can be characterized as undergoing a thesis-antithesis-synthesis cycle. In the primary state of development, the focus was on a one-sided presentation of religion as determined by its environment; environmental explanations were sought, appropriately or otherwise, to aid the understanding of the origin of religions and religious practices. In the second stage of antithesis, the geography of religion moved to a one-sided study of the moulding influence of religion on its environment, to the point of shaping the settlement and landscape. The geographer in this instance begins with the landscape and its related anthropo geographical facts (such as settlement, transportation routes and population) and seeks to understand the underlying forces. If he/she determines that these formgiving forces are religious in nature, he/she then becomes a geographer of religion.(Buttner, 1974: 169).This emphasis on the landscape as altered by people may be likened to the more possibilistic stance of the Vidalian school of geography and, particularly, Sauer’s school of cultural geography, in which the landscape is the primary object of research, This antithetical stand, most clearly stated in Isaac’s (1959-60) definition of the field quoted earlier, still underlies much of the work done.As calls for a focus on the reciprocal aspects of relationships become louder, the field has clearly entered a third stage of development – synthesis. Whether this call will bear fruit remains to be seen, although it appears quite certain that the seeds have been cast in the right direction.We may say that Geography ignores the supernatural or the superstitious events, neglects some of the  most deeply rooted triggers of human behaviour and attitudes does neglecting some  critical human dimension and overlooking some important implications of geographical patterns of human actions and behaviour.

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