Didymos Thomas wrote:
The same way the Inca people were related to the Catholics who conquered them. It's distant, but the relation is real. Religion evolves over time, and both the Inca tradition and Christian tradition evolved from, ultimately, the same source, the early cults of the Earth Mother and Sky God.
Having lived in Peru for a month several years ago, I can tell you that these religions have a lot more to do with one another now
than they ever did before contact. Go to some of the little villages in the altiplano
and you'll see churches that have nativity scenes in which there are alpacas and condors, and in which Jesus and Mary look like they're from Cusco and not Bethlehem. Other religious decorations and beliefs and festivals have been preserved, too. Just like every other 'spreading' religion, there is a neat hybrid that emerges, much the same as a pidgin language.
Now, I doubt that any direct continuity of culture can be resolved between the indigenous religions of the Americas and the indigenous religions of the Middle East and Europe.
It's estimated that the first humans entered the Americas around 30,000 years ago. Clearly many millenia had already
passed since any geographic overlap with peoples of the middle east. Furthermore, this is long before the establishment of towns, of agriculture, of sedentary populations, so people almost certainly lived in very small groups.
As you know far better than I, Christianity began as an indigenous religion among a very small group / groups in the levant, and most of the Christian story / tradition was NOT derived from Judaism or Jewish texts -- it was novel. But it hardly matters because 3000 - 4000 years ago the earliest Jews themselves were a small minority group amidst many other indigenous belief traditions.
The same is true for the Incas, who came to be hegemons only very recently (within the last 1000 years).
So the point is that even if you can find genetic and linguistic roots between all humans on earth, so many novel
things have been added to so many small groups over so much time that the Inca religion and the Roman Catholic religion really have lost any of the original culture that existed when they diverged.
And if you comb over these traditions and find common beliefs or rituals, it's more likely a convergence
of belief (given the roles that religion takes in all societies) than preservation of an original belief. Kind of like how butterflies and chickens both have wings, and they both have common ancestry, but they evolved wings completely independently of one another.