Introduction to World Religions

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Introduction to World Religions. The Study of Religion. Not simply about faith or belief Involves politics, history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, art, and literature Use humanities to fully understand a religion vs. study of science, with factual data. Why Study Religion?.
Introduction to World ReligionsThe Study of Religion
  • Not simply about faith or belief
  • Involves politics, history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, art, and literature
  • Use humanities to fully understand a religion
  • vs. study of science, with factual data
  • Why Study Religion?
  • To read to learn, to think critically, and to express yourself persuasively
  • Liberal Arts degrees are highly valued by employers
  • Useful in fields like law, medicine, politics, international affairs, and journalism  
  • Components of ReligionSymbol
  • Symbol: something used to represent something else
  • Intended to life us out of daily life and point us to something else
  • Revered by followers as something powerful
  • Myth
  • Myth: story told & retold about the past to express certain values
  • NOT the opposite of fact
  • Often contain symbols to make the stories relevant to life, or they explain the symbols
  • Ritual
  • Ritual: prescribed, formalized actions that dramatize religious symbols
  • Make religion relevant to daily life
  • Repeated in order to establish or keep a connection to the religion
  • Usually performed in a sacred space
  • Often explained or reenacted in myths
  • Often use symbols
  • Magic attempts to manipulate spiritual forces
  • Rituals worship spiritual forces
  • Example Each Sunday (___), Roman Catholics attend Mass (___) in a church (___). Just before the priest gives a small wafer (___) to devout participants, he retells the story (___) of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. This explains the origin of the ritual and the importance of the symbol: the bread represents the body of Christ. Doctrine
  • Doctrine: statements about the deity/ies (God/s), sin, salvation, afterlife, etc.
  • Cannot be “proven” but is taken as right by followers
  • God or Gods?
  • Deity: from the Latin “deus”
  • Monotheism
  • Polytheism
  • Animism: spirits are in everything
  • Atheism: no deities exist
  • Agnosticism: God’s existence is not provable, we should doubt, can never know for sure
  • The Nature of God
  • Omnipresent: present everywhere at the same time
  • Omniscient: all knowing; capable of having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight
  • Worship: reverent love and devotion towards a deity, an idol, or a sacred object
  • Sacred
  • That which is holy, ultimately relevant, more significant than reality, purer, deserving proper handling
  • Opposite is profane
  • Secular is the opposite
  • of religiousScripture
  • Sacred writings
  • Each modern religion has a canon: official list of scriptures
  • A Few More Helpful Terms…
  • Metaphysics: branch of philosophy that studies the ultimate structure and constitution of reality
  • Does God exist?
  • Do we have free will?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Good vs. Evil
  • Continued
  • Ascetic: describes a lifestyle characterized by self-denial, abstinence from various worldly pleasures in order to pursue religious and spiritual goals
  • Denial of sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth
  • Not a rejection of the enjoyment of life, but to pursue physical and metaphysical health
  • BC vs. BCE
  • BCE/CE: Before Common Era/Common Era
  • Replaces BC/AD
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  • Middle Eastern Religions: ChristianityRoman Catholicism Protestantism Eastern Orthodox Church IslamShi’ite Sunni JudaismZoroastrianismFar Eastern Religions: Confucianism Taoism Shinto Mahayana Buddhism Indian Religions: Hinduism Sikhism Jainism Theravada Buddhism African Religions: Tribal Religions of Sub-Saharan Africa American Religions: Religions of Indigenous American Indians Oceanic Religions: The religions of the Pacific Islanders The beliefs of the Aborigines of Australia The beliefs of the Maoris of New Zealand Religions of the WorldOver two-thirds of the world’s population belong to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism. Christianity is the single largest world religion.
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