religion notes Essay

Submitted By ashley_oh
Words: 3963
Pages: 16

Religion and Non-Religion

The religious dimension in human history

-the expression of the religious dimension in human history
Tyler used ‘animism’ to describe the belief that a spirit or life force exists in every animate and inanimate object
Good and evil beliefs:
‘Good’ brings benefits such as health, social harmony and good hunting/gathering conditions
Evil spirits are believed responsible for sickness and disease or disastrous natural events
Animist ritual: the spirits might be placated and appeased, or their help sought, via performance of the correct ceremonies or even of human and non-human sacrifices. Shamans or priests, people seen to possess superior spiritual powers, will lead or perform these rituals and attempt to engage or mediate with spirits on behalf of the rest of the tribe
Animism represents an early rung on the evolutionary ladder, preceded only by ‘animatism’. Religious evolutionists believe that animism helps to explain the origins of religion. Followed by polytheism and monotheism
Modern animist societies exist in Africa, Asia, Europe and the USA. More specifically, some ancient animist societies include the Native Americans and the Aborigines

The belief in multiple deities and the worship of numerous gods
In the polytheistic system, most gods are generally not omnipotent or omniscient but are viewed as having specific skills or abilities and desires or needs
These deities are formed around aspects of life such as atmospheric forces, human emotions and fertility, as well as natural objects, or flora and fauna, and then classified into a pantheon or house of gods
At the top of this often-hierarchical pantheon there may or may not exist a uniquely powerful supreme being
Polytheism in ancient societies:
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Greece
Modern day polytheism:
Mahayana Buddhism
In Africa and the Americas

Belief in a single, all-powerful, transcendent god
God is one
He is therefore considered either the only god in existence or else the only genuine god
God of monotheism is seen as the creator of the universe and humankind
He is at once both personal and yet mysterious and remote
Monotheism, by definition, considers all other religions to be false and idolatrous
Lang and Schmidt’s theory:
The earliest religions were actually monotheistic  degenerated into polytheism because the high god was perceived as being irrelevant to daily life
1375-1350BCE: Egyptian pharaoh who elevated the worship of Aten, the sun’s disk, to the point where all other gods were proscribed
Modern times:

the significance of the religious dimension in human history
Meaning and purpose for the individual
Questions of humanity:
‘What is the meaning of life?’
‘How was everything created?’
‘What is our job?’
‘How does the world work?’
‘What is our place within it?’
Meaning and purpose:
Cultural and social dimension
Intellectual impact; emotional impact; ethical impact
Sense of place
The need to seek assurances of immortality
Human drive for perfection  divine as only realm where this exists
Need for unconditional love and acceptance

Social cohesion
When a community embraces shared values and a commitment to mutual obligations
Judaism: all observant Jews are part of a spiritual family bound by the covenant God made with Abraham  mitzvot = collective focus
Christianity: care for on another, strive together towards common goal of glorifying God
Islam: mosque as focal point for community to worship
Theories of Durkheim and Marx:
Durkheim posed the somewhat controversial hypothesis that religion has no supernatural basis, but was actually invented by human beings so as to promote and ensure social cohesion
Marx posed the idea that religions are a human construct designed the manipulate people
Australian Parliament’s ‘Immigration, Social Cohesion and National