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THEO 403 (Su '16) T01-02 - What is Religion?

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Hartmut Scherer

on 30 May 2016

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Transcript of THEO 403 (Su '16) T01-02 - What is Religion?

most primitive stage
What is Religion?
Some helpful information:
- food preferences
- holidays
#1
What may they believe?
What do we know about their faith?
What would we like to know?
- religious customs
- purpose of life
Purpose of this class:
- getting an understanding of other
religions (formal and folk version)
- getting equipped for sharing
the gospel of redemption
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"A religion is a system of beliefs and practices
W. Corduan
that provides values to give life meaning and coherence
by directing a person toward transcendence."
How did religion originate?
Subjective
Approach
Evolutionary
Approach
Original Monotheism
- accepts the existence of religion
as a
given part
of our humanity
- reasons that the seat of this religious
disposition must be
below conscious
beliefs
, i.e., in our subconscious,
nonrational faculties
The subjective approach understands religion as an
intrinsically human phenomenon
Friedrich Schleiermacher
Ludwig Feuerbach
Siegmund Freud
Did religion
begin with
The Evolutionary Approach
Original Monotheism
Two assumptions:
1) A general commitment to an
evolutionary
view of life
and culture is assumed
2) “Lower” forms of culture represent the
religion of humanity in its earliest stages
Monotheism
Monotheism
What is the right order of stages in the evolutionary theory of religion?
Mana/Fetishism
Animism
Polytheism
Henotheism
Animism
Polytheism
Henotheism
or with God?
humans
Mana/Fetishism
Monotheism
Animism
Polytheism
Henotheism
Mana/Fetishism
- a basic feeling, a general awareness
of a spiritual force in the world
- not personal, doesn't reveal itself,
not evenly distributed
- objects with a great amount
of mana can become a fetish
- all responsibility rests with the
human being (-> magic)
Magic is the manipulation of spiritual forces in order to bring about a desired result.
Monotheism
Animism
Polytheism
Henotheism
Mana/Fetishism
- spiritual forces become now more
personal or have distinct identities
- all spiritual forces belong to either
nature spirits or ancestor spirits
- nature and ancestor spirits are finite
- GOAL of this stage: to maintain
proper relationships with the spirits
- experts know how to manipulate
spirits (e.g., medicine man)
Monotheism
Animism
Polytheism
Henotheism
Mana/Fetishism
Possible explanations for a change to this stage:
a) promoting an exalted ancestor
spirit to divine status
A belief in gods ideally replaces MAGIC with “WORSHIP
b) promoting nature and household
spirits to divine status
c) personifying abstract principles
Monotheism
Animism
Polytheism
Henotheism
Mana/Fetishism
- people know that there are
many gods but they
worship only one of them.
Monotheism
Animism
Polytheism
Henotheism
Mana/Fetishism
- considered the highest stage
- worshiping one high being does not
exclude the existence of lesser
supernatural beings
- there may be another stage - no
God at all
Some questions remain:
- there is no given end point in an
evolutionary model
The Subjective Approach
Cannot be used as exhaustive
explanation for all religions, because ...
the psychological origin of religion
(cause)
may in fact be the
effect
The Evolutionary Approach
In this theory God comes first. Then human beings got aware of God.
What did Wilhelm Schmidt
observe in cultures
that seemed to be the most ancient?
featured
exclusive worship of God
and
almost no magic
?
Schmidt's method
- “historical ethnology”
(today: cultural anthropology)
How did he identify the most primitive cultures?
?
- within a particular region any specific cultural
innovation occurred only once
(e.g, new style of pottery)
Marks of Schmidt's method
Which conclusions can we draw concerning the decay into magic and ritual?
It's a decisive move away from monotheism. (corruption of monotheism)
This change can lead to henotheism, polytheism or animism.
Once monotheism is abandoned, change usually continues to occur (incl. reform movements)
"A religious culture, left without strong guidance, will tend toward increased ritual and magic."
Why do you think that the quote is true or not? (talk to your neighbor about it)
(Tapestry of Faith, 37)
Ritual may be defined as a series of repeated actions that are performed in order to bring about a desired result.
Rituals and Magic
Def.:
-
goal oriented
, i.e., if the ritual is performed
properly, the desired result will be achieved
- if proper
performance
is
emphasized

->
priesthood
will develop (religious experts)
- ordinary people no longer care for the
ritual but will leave it to these experts
How folk religions develop
- there will be a
religion of the experts
with its
inside knowledge and ritual
- a
religion of the common people
tries to relate to the
supernatural in ways that are still open to them
(without intensive training in practice and scripture)
All religions have a
standardized
(or formal) version and some
folk
versions
It is always
difficult
for an outsider to
distinguish
between the standardized and the folk version of a religion
Preservation of Monotheism
Common features of Western Religions
Common features of Eastern Religions
What is Religion?
The Subjective Approach
it brackets the question of the
historical origin
of religion
#2
#4
#5
#6
#3
#7
No true pattern of
upward development

in any culture could be observed
Questionable assumption
that “primitive” cultures reflect ancient cultures
Research did
not support
the evolutionary model
it limited the search for a particular line of
cultural transformation to specific regions
it enabled him to identify chronological material within living cultures
The so-called Western Religions preserved most of monotheism
The Eastern Religions departed much more drastically
a strong monotheistic emphasis
a strong ethical emphasis
a positive approach to history
monotheism is in the minority; more pantheism and polytheism
more mystical than ethical concerns
emphasis tends to be on the teachings rather than on the events or the teachers
Sources and Image Credit
2)
Sikhism; https://pixabay.com/en/sikh-religion-sikhism-punjab-holy-658511/
1)
symbols of religions; https://pixabay.com/en/religion-faith-christianity-islam-1046867/
3)
Jew; https://pixabay.com/en/jerusalem-jewish-traditional-jew-573956/
4)
5)
Buddhist monks Thailand; https://pixabay.com/en/thailand-buddhists-monks-and-453388/
6)
7)
Zoroastrian_Fire_Temple,_Yazdl;
8)
Shinto; https://pixabay.com/en/okinawa-temple-ritual-japan-646179/
9)
scale; https://pixabay.com/en/balance-brass-court-justice-law-1300334/
10)
Muslim woman; https://pixabay.com/en/muslima-muslim-woman-eyes-fashion-1331980/
Hinduism, dancer; https://pixabay.com/en/dancer-frauf-tradition-garment-112614/
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4a/Zoroastrian_Fire_Temple%2C_Yazd.jpg/250px-Zoroastrian_Fire_Temple%2C_Yazd.jpg.
dartboard; https://pixabay.com/en/darts-dartboard-target-accuracy-857092/
totem pole; http://www.cynic.org.uk/photos/D50/large/103ncd50/dsc_8499.jpg
11)
canyon, ghost; http://bighugelabs.com/scout.php?mode=history&id=5230522369
12)
zeus; https://www.pinterest.com/pin/426082814716712544/
13)
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