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Humanities Project

Katie Kicklighter

on 6 August 2014

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Transcript of Religion

Ali Ikner, Katie Kicklighter,
Darlyn Davis, and Alexis Pierce

Why Do We Have Religion?
Religion is essential to humanity.
It is interwoven into all aspects of our culture with strong influences in history and the arts. Because of its extensive impact, it is a common theme in philosophy, which attempts to explain it’s original and ongoing function as it relates to civilization as a whole and the individual human psyche.

Religion helps to explain the unknown. Early on, it aided in the formation of man's sense of control over the surroundings and the sometimes unfamiliar environments he found himself in. Additionally, it fostered the application of reason to the concept of death for the only species that knows of their own fatality.

Sense of Purpose
Morality and Ethics
Social Order

Social Unity
Religion gives meaning and significance to human existence in order to assuage characteristic human doubts on this topic, and it sets goals to achieve during this brief existence.

Religion provides a hope for or a belief in an eternity that is beyond the boundaries of secular and tangible discomforts in human life. It realizes an intrinsic human desire for more than one short life on Earth
can provide alone.

Religion provides both moral codes to abide by and reasons to follow them, whether these reasons are obligations and duties or are instigated by a fear of otherworldly punishment. They often call for fostering a moral compass to live by.

Religion justifies some inequalities in social order
(in social, economic, and political realms) and, on occasion, provides rationalization for overturning certain
social orders.

Religion serves to bind communities closer together through shared beliefs and customs and to impart traditions in following generations .

Ancient Religion
Used more frequently to explain natural phenomena with unknown causes
Seen as more of an absolute authority due to the infantile state and rejection of some branches of science
More prevalently featured polytheism, or the worship of several deities

Greek and Roman Mythology

Galileo and Roman Catholic Church

Early Pagan Religions

Mayan, Incan, and Aztec Religions

Modern Religion
Institutions based more on faith and spirituality than need
More commonly treated as a life choice than as a necessity in a culture or region
More exposed to skepticism from outside groups on the whole; questioned to a greater degree
Top 5 Major World Religions

Ancient v. Modern Religion
Commonalities Between Religions
Religions, due to their similar purposes and basic functions, display several common defining characteristics. These include core beliefs, widespread customs, similar doctrine, and usage of symbolism.
Core Beliefs
Each religion has its own set moral pathway or code to ward off evil and prevent suffering.

Most religions also believe in the concept of an afterlife (albeit in different forms) and a divine purpose.
Widespread Customs
Praying and/or inward reflection are found across the world religions. It is often connected to self-betterment or communicating with their divine presence.

The abnegation of worldly pleasures, be it through fasting or self-sacrifice for the benefit of the less fortunate.
Similar Doctrine
There is overlap in the sacred texts, days, and doctrine of different religions due to similarities in teachings and traditions taken at the religion's conception from predecessors.

Christianity, Judaism, Islam
Pagan Traditions
Symbols are used in rituals and as a reminder of key tenets of the region they are associated with.

The symbol serves as a precise visual representation of the religion and can help followers of the religion identify themselves with it.
Confucianism & Taoism
Effects of religion
Different global cultural
connotations based on religion

Wars in Middle East

Generational differences

Humanitarian groups/efforts

America founded on religious beliefs

Us in particular: Bible Belt

600 BC - 600 AD
Classical Civilizations
Saw the founding and rise of the world's major religions

Classical China: Confucianism, Taoism, Mandate of Heaven

Classical India: Founding of Hinduism and Buddhism, the Vedas and Upanishads, caste system cemented, Gupta dynasty saw spread of Hinduism

Classical Mediterranean: Greek and roman cultures, including mythology, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths
The Crusades
Scientific Revolution & Enlightenment
These two crucial stages in human history began to explain natural occurrences that had long been seen as the mystical workings of a divine being. Suddenly we were not the center of the universe, or even our galaxy, and people had less need for a divine being to explain the workings of our world.

That is not to say religion was viewed with the skepticism it is today, but instead became useful for explaining the whys surrounding our little ball of dirt, more so than the hows.
Colonization saw religions spread further across the globe than the Crusaders ever would have dreamed. Entire Continents were introduced to Christianity and tribal religions were forced to convert, or at least assimilate.

Many colonization efforts were fueled by a religious vigor, be they settlers seeking a land to practice their beliefs freely or missionaries seeking converts.

This also lead to the extinction of many ancient, often polytheistic, practices and was an early indicator of the religious patterns and regions we see today.
Modern Day
In our current era of technological expansion and scientific advancement, religions have been placed under scrutiny more than ever before.

Each generation has become increasingly nonreligious, with an ever increasing number identifying as atheist, agnostic, or unaffiliated.
Ancient Chinese philosopher

Strove primarily to educate on and promote virtues, traditional values, compassion, integrity, and ritual

His teachings later became the foundation for Confucianism, the state ideology, commonly recognized as a primary Chinese religion

Siddhartha Gautama
Lived in relative luxury due to
his caste until age 29, when
he left home and embarked on a journey to find spiritual enlightenment

Founded Buddhism with philosophies entailed in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path

Encouraged equality; espoused importance of Nirvana

Principles also influenced
sections of Hindu beliefs
Eastern Religions
More commonly polytheistic
Focus put on ignorance as human faults
Ultimate goals are enlightenment and commonly believe in reincarnation
Religion is based more on the obligations of the individual to a group, and duties to surrounding community
Founded on more philosophical principles



Western Religions
More commonly monotheistic
Focus put on sins and wrongdoings as human faults
Ultimate goal is in an eternal afterlife, or a life in Heaven
Religion is based more on the soul of the individual rather than the group
Faith is the foundation for the belief systems


Cultural Comparisons on Religion
Organized by the Roman Catholic Church, the Crusades were a series of military campaigns aimed at expanding the reaches of Christianity, limiting the spread of Islam, and reclaiming lost holy lands.

They would lead to greater divide between Christianity and Islam, as the Crusader’s tactics were brutal, but seen as justified in the name of the Lord. They had to stop the impressive expansion of the Muslim Empire at all costs, or risk further encroachment on their lands.

The efforts had varying degrees of success, as they failed to regain much territory, but did prevent the Muslims from progressing much further.

The founder of the Christian faith, his teachings led to the split between Judaism and Christianity

Taught of a benevolent, all powerful God who sent him to earth to die for our sins so we may gain entrance to the kingdom of heaven

Encouraged his followers to be loving and accepting of everyone

The founder of Islam, believed to be a prophet of Allah by his followers

Wrote the Quran, the holy book of Islam

Primarily taught that there was one God, and if one submitted to His will they will be regarded mercifully, and very strict guidelines had to be followed to show their gratitude
A biblical figure whose story can be found in the Book of Genesis, and is referred to as "Our Father Abraham" in the Jewish faith, as he is believed to be the first Jew and the biological ancestor of the Jews

Biblically remarkable for his absolute obedience to God

Was promised the land of Israel for his decedents,
which is why the Jews consider it their home and holy land

The Islamic faith is worldwide but mostly centered in the Northern part of Africa and in the Middle East

Muslims are divided into Sunni or Shia sects, which causes regional political strife due to religious struggles

65% of Muslims live in Asia. Countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq have primarily Sunni believers, whereas Iran has a huge Shia population.

Islamic practices are very strict, and demand their followers' complete and honest faith. The most devout Muslims pray at least 5 times a day at specific times of the day.

Just before sunrise
When the sun it at it's zenith (midday)

When the sun has declined and the shadow of an object is twice the object's actual height

At sunset, immediately upon the disappearance of the sun from the horizon
Nighttime, when all light has gone from the sky (approx 1 1/2 hours after maghrib)
"Do not believe in anything that I say out of respect for me, but test it for yourself, analyze it, as if you were buying gold" - Buddha

Buddhism has become more and more appealing to the modern world due to the rational and scientific bases of the religion.

Buddhism entwines an open attitude of finding what is and what is not true in an attempt to reach enlightenment in the ultimate goal of Nirvana.

The appeal of this religion to different countries is heavily influenced by the different methods that are taught and the cultural components of the religion by area.
Christianity the world's largest religion and is practiced on every single continent.

North America vs South America:

North America is predominantly Protestant while South America is heavily Catholic. In North America, Protestants are more focused on developing a personal relationship with God whereas the South American Catholics emphasize the value of good works. South America is home to many more vibrant Christian traditions as well, such as the festivities for "Our Lady of Guadalupe" and the Day of the Dead.

Christianity in Africa differs again due to the different cultural influences. Tribal traditions permeate the practice of Christianity through the incorporation of customs, tales, and great legends that were passed from generation to generation. Christianity in Africa is similar to that in the Americas because it is predominately Protestant or Roman Catholic.
Hinduism is viewed as a polytheistic religion in the West, but by its followers, it is viewed as monotheistic.

Hindus believe highly in the
Transmigration of the Soul
, which includes beliefs in reincarnation, dharma, karma, and nirvana.

Hinduism is a religion associated primarily with the culture and area of India, but there are more Hindus in the U.S than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere

For Judaism to be considered a major world religion, the number of followers is much smaller than that of the others with this distinction.

To put it in perspective, in America the population of people practicing Judaism is less than 3%.

It is still considered a world religion despite its relatively small size due to the importance it played in history (including extensive persecution) and the establishment of Christianity and Islam, other major religions.

While people may identify with being Jewish, there is a distinction that must be made in the usage of the term. "Jewish" refers to both the religion and the culture, and additionally "Hebrew" refers to the race and language.
The Hindu God
Ancient Chinese religions and traditions of living
Founded on philosophies espoused during the classical era of China

Based on principles of ethics, tradition, respect, and social order/conduct
Promotes veneration of elders and worship of ancestors
Aimed to achieve goal of a structured society through values set as examples in key relationships

Taoism (aka Daoism)
Based on principles of harmony and equality
Emphasizes humans' relationship with nature
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