Throughout human history, mankind has been governed by religions. Many religions have come to existence, not a whole lot of them survived. Here we make a list of some religions that went extinct, without going into their theological details.

1. Manichaeism

It is a religion which originated in the Middle East in the 3rd Century AD. The founder was the Iranian prophet Mani. It lasted for over a thousand years from 3rd Century to 14th Century, when it disappeared in south China. At its height it was spread from China to the Roman Empire. It was a amalgamation of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and various pagan traditions. Mani recognized Zoroaster, Buddha, and Jesus as true prophets, but claimed to have received a later and more complete revelation than any of them. Even though it had Buddhist and Christian elements, it seemed to have derived most of its doctrine from Zoroastrian dualism. 

Mani taught that the world is not ruled by a single deity, but is a site of a continuous battle between two forces, which he identified as light and darkness and he considered them equal in power. This belief negated the philosophical paradox of the existence of evil which troubled the Christian philosophers. It also gave rise to various sects in Europe which included the Paulicians, the Bogomils and the Albigensians. But it did become extinct because of persecutions from other very established religions, most prominently from Pope Innocent III who called for crusades against it.

2. Norse Paganism

It was the religion of North Germanic peoples which developed during the Proto-Norse period. It was centered around the worship of various gods including Odin, Thor, Freya, and others. The religion was polytheistic and had no ritual religious ceremony or a clergy. It was replaced by Christianity during the Christianization of Scandinavia. During the 1930s and 1940s, elements of Old Norse religions were adopted by Nazi Germany.

3. Mithraism

Mithraism which was referred to as “Mithraic mysteries” during Roman era originated in Vedic India, migrated to Persia by way of Babylon, and then westward through the Hellenized East, and finally across the length and breadth of the Hellenistic-Roman world. Its followers worshiped the Sun God known as Mithra. It was a rival of early Christianity. The entrants had to go through seven grades of initiation. It was popular from about the 1st to the 4th century CE. It was severely suppressed by Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius who passed anti-pagan decrees which eventually resulted in its extinction.

4. Sumerian religion

It was the religion of Sumerian Empire which was situated in the place which is modern day Iraq, hence it is the religion of the first empire in the history of human civilization. The major deities in the Sumerian pantheon included An, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Utu and Nanna. They believed that the universe had come into being through a series of cosmic births. Their religious beliefs influenced mythologies and religions of the Hurrians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and other later Middle Eastern culture groups. It went extinct with the rise of Islam.

5. Catharism

It was a offshoot of Christianity which existed in Southern Europe between the 12th and 14th centuries. Their doctrines have numerous resemblances to those of the Bogomils, the Paulicians, the Paulicians and the Manicheans. They put forth the argument that universe had two equal and opposing forces, one evil and the other pure. They murdered a papal legate sent for negotiation, which compelled the church to launch the Albigensian Crusade, which resulted in their annihilation. The only surviving text of theirs is ‘The Book of Two Principles.’

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