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Section I: Multiple Choice
Indicate the correct answer in the space provided at the beginning of each question. (2 points each)
Because the human brain already has compatible receptors for the chemicals produced by plants. Why do sacred plants produce visions?
Because the human brain already has compatible receptors for the chemicals produced by plants
Because plants have psychic powers
Because plants photosynthesize energy from the sun
Because plants are considered deities by primitive people
Buddha & Mahavira Which two figures were compared by Kripal regarding their conceptions of asceticism and enlightenment?
Guru Jain & Hesse
Jesus & Mohammed
Confucius & Lao Tzu
imposed from the outside Moral guidelines of Deep Ecology are
imposed from the outside
inferred from the enveloping landscape
derived from dreams
adopting new knowledge into an existing framework of meaning The concept of Grafting is used to describe
a dogmatic rejection of new ideas
adopting new knowledge into an existing framework of meaning
stabilizing interconnected theories
the environmental crisis has religious roots The Lynn White Thesis argues
that the religious crisis of declining church membership in Western countries is due to environmental problems
that white supremacy has resulted in churches segregated by race in the US
that the Supreme Court is influencing the church in negative ways
that the environmental crisis has religious roots
The enormous power of religious thinking Scientific explanations about nature and humanity are being enchanted by religious groups. This demonstrates
The capacity for irrational self-delusion
The human nature to believe in logical, rational empiricism
The tendency to believe in fairy tales
The enormous power of religious thinking
Different honor codes What example did we discuss that was interpreted as a polluting intrusion into the social body of a society?
Different honor codes
Foreign medical practices
Work affects belief The central thesis of Marxist analysis is that
Dietary rules are nonsense
Work affects belief
A child raised with religious parents will often leave the church
Water scarcity will produce global conflict
All of the above What happens when different religious communities have regular contact?
They may begin to borrow beliefs from each other
They may have theological disputes
They may come into violent conflict
They will engage in comparison with each other
All of the above
A and D The Hero myth complex involves a protagonist who
gives in to temptations
is a paradox
always slays a dragon
brings new knowledge back home
both A and D
mysterium tremendum et fascinans According to Rudolf Otto, the sacred is
the personification of society
mysterium tremendum et fascinans
All of the above In what way does religion limit access to the sacred?
Characterizes the sacred as out of reach
Defines human nature as unworthy
Promising the sacred will be later obtained
Limiting the sacred to initiated people
All of the above
Creates a neutral space for all religions in society Secularism
Pushes religion to the margins of society
Impinges on religion’s right to free exercise
Creates a neutral space for all religions in society
Makes religions illegal
A contradiction William Blake’s claim that “Jesus is the only true God and so are we” is
Section II: True or False
Write True or False in the space provided. (2 points each)
False The critical study of the Bible was started by skeptics and atheists.
True The Renaissance Humanists understood mystical texts as expressions of human nature.
False All religions compare.
True Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism are dualistic religions.
True It is difficult to find bases on which to compare polytheistic systems.
Section III: Identifications
Identify each term or pair. Give examples. Briefly provide substantial information about the topic and why it is of interest to the academic study of religion. How is it used interpretively? Give creative and comparative insights with regard to central themes from the class such as paradox, meaning, identity, social construction, human nature, and social control. (10 points each) (add lines as needed for space)
Chaos or cosmos is the formless or void state which was formed before the creation of Universe. It is also referred to as the Gap created between original separation of heaven and earth. According to Greek Mythology, Cosmos was the first thing which existed.
Chaos is of high interest to academic study of religion because it is thought of as a moving formless mass which was the main place from which Cosmos and Gods originated.
In Greek, the term Chaos means emptiness, vast void, chasm and abyss. While Cosmos means the order of the Universe. Pherecydes of Syros interprets Chaos as water with no form but which could be differentiated.
The word Chaos is particularly important in religious studies as it refers to primordial state before creation.
Chaos had a vast influence on human nature and social control. According to Hesiod, Chaos is a divine primordial condition and the origin of Gods and everything else. This gave the idea of Chaos as divine and it influenced the first Greek philosophers. The human nature believed it was the base of everything and was the permanent base of all its being.
Cosmos is usually believed as the creator of worldly life or this world. It is widely regarded as the creator of sun, moon, planets and stars. Cosmos or cosmology is of high importance to humanity as it deals with the study of origin, evolution and fate of the universe. It tries to answer various questions like origin of universe, components of universe, reason for the existence of universe etc.
The words sacred and profane are usually thought of as exactly opposite words. French sociologist Emile Durkheim spoke regarding religion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden”. It is often thought that sacred/profane are equivalent to good/evil. But, sacred could be good or evil and the same goes with profane as well. Sacred is something which can be called holy. According to Durkheim, sacred is ideal and is way beyond everyday existence. It is considered extra ordinary, maybe harmful, out of routine, fear creating etc. It is usually considered as something which is set by man related to religion, religious beliefs, rituals, duties, festivals or anything that is related to religion. Sacred is something which will not be exceeded by any one and which creates a certain godly fear. In religion, anything can be considered holy right from a rock to an animal depending on different religions. Those things which are considered sacred will remain sacred and will be regarded as religious symbols, beliefs and practices.
Profane is something more general or routine and in everyday practice. Profane is otherwise called as unholy and is believed to contaminate anything that is sacred. Profane is familiar or common and is generally regarded as mundane. Different examples of Sacred and Profane are as follows:
Reading a magazine is considered profane
Reading Bible or Bagavadgita is considered sacred
Performing regular prayers is considered sacred
Stopping or disturbing people from religious activities is considered profane
Sacred and profane are usually closely related as they have high emotional attitude towards them. The importance of sacred lies in its distinction from profane.
Myth is usually considered as something related to supernatural beings or events. Myths may be good or bad. They are generally traditional or legendary stories which do not specifically have any facts or any common explanation.
The word myth, originated from Greek word “Mythos” and the original meaning was speech or discourse. But, it later came to be known as fable or legend.
Myth is really important for the academic study of religion because it is specific to religions although some myths are believed by all religions. Myths are generally thought of as true in early ages and societies. Even now, there cannot be any explanation for certain myths and they are still being believed. They played an important part in the society of early ages and they still occupy a significant role in certain societies to control them or to follow them.
Certain Myths, describe historical events which at some part were true, but, they got transformed in a way that they cannot be actually/totally accepted by the society. Generally, some myths have been proved to be true for certain extent, but, over the ages many story tellers have exaggerated the myths. Some famous examples of myths are: Myth of Hercules, Myth of Prometheus, Myth of Ares, Myth of Creation, Myth of Zeus, Myth of Pandora’s Box, Myth of Pan, Myth of Odysseus, etc.
The meaning of ritual is a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Usually rituals are performed as a part of a community or religion or society. Many rituals have become famous of their high notoriety in society. Rituals may often be mistaken as bad things but, rituals are mainly good and they are performed against evil. Rituals may also be good or evil. Rituals play a major role in many religions. Most religions start their daily activities with various rituals.
It is believed rituals only include performing various religious activities, but, handshaking and greeting may also be termed as rituals. Rituals often form a daily routine and they are considered a way of life in many societies, communities and religions.
Some rituals involve sacrificing animals, some rituals involve fasting, some rituals involve community service etc.
Human nature can be influenced by the various rituals performed. In general, human nature has a tendency to believe in rituals and their after effects which lead to various circumstances. Some rituals create pleasant environment, while some rituals are hard to digest. Rituals have always been a part of society and they have been performed to gain social control. Rituals are in general the main pillars of a religion or society.
Monotheist is a person who follows Monotheism and Polytheist is a person who follows Polytheism. Monotheism in general is the belief of a single God. Polytheism is the belief in multiple Gods. Monotheism and Polytheism are considered very important in the study of religion because, they involve many principles from many different religions.
Some religions falling under Monotheism are Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Mandaeism, Sikhism, Baha'i, Cao Dai, etc. While some examples of religions following Polytheism are Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Geniism, Taoism, Yoruba, etc.
Christian tradition suggests that Monotheism was the original one followed by humanity. They suggest that the gradual fall of humanity has led to belief in Polytheism.
More than half of the world’s population follows Monotheism. But, many religions follow Polytheism and have various theories regarding different Gods in their religions. Usually, monotheism and polytheism is considered as one of the factors which led to differences among religions.
Human nature has always led to following both polytheism and monotheism. Due to many differences between people following monotheism and polytheism, it has become difficult for social control of the society.
Epoche is a Greek word meaning suspension. In Greek philosophy it is called as “Suspension of Judgment”. Epoche played an important role in a skeptical philosophy called Pyrrhonism, named after Pyrrho.
Epoche is a philosophical word. It describes theoretical moment where all judgments of external world existence and all the actions of the world are suspended.
It is thought of as something to suspend or stop human activities when they think they have acquired everything. It acts as a barrier to stop humans from doing everything and creating a doubt in them.
Comparison (Comparative Method)
Comparison is a branch of religious study. It involves the systematic comparison of doctrines and practices of different religions around the world. It is usually considered a comparison to know and to understand sacred, divine and spiritual things of different religions. It creates a better way to understand ethics and nature or form of salvation.
Cosmotheism is a religious concept developed by William L Pierce. Cosmotheism is also considered as a form of Panentheism, which is a belief that anything divine such as god or multiple gods or any cosmic animating force which penetrates all the parts of the Universe. Cosmotheism is presented by William L Pierce in three separate writings such as: the path, on living things and on society. According to cosmotheism, all is within God and God is within all. According to it, good and bad coexist together which is the reason for coexistence and self consciousness.
Max Muller was a German philologist and orientalist. He lived in Britain for most of his life. He was the founder of western academic field of Indian studies. He wrote many literary works on Sanskrit, always considered as the language of Gods in Hinduism. He converted many Indian religious works to German. He worked on various religion oriented lectures like: natural religion, physical religion, anthropological religion and theosophy or psychological religion.
Insider-Outsider perspectives on the study of religion
Insider-Outsider perspectives on the study of religion is really important. According to it, we must study the history from the underside to thoroughly understand it and completely embrace it. It is sometimes called as etic perspective. According to this, any theory in religion cannot be truly accepted unless it is accepted by an insider.
Purity and pollution is a notion which is critical for understanding the caste hierarchy in religions. Many religions have various castes and sub castes. These castes and sub castes often create differences in society and create a different human nature. Purity and pollution corrupt the human mind and create a superiority feeling in certain castes. Purity and pollution also create a sense of un touch ability. Purity and pollution are often seen in countries with very low development. It creates authority to certain castes eventually leading them to reign over other castes.
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