1. Beliefs: Conscious and Deliberate
a. They undergird our actions, and are an integral part of our logic system.
b. We act, and interact with others based on what we believe about:
i. The world, other people, and the individual purpose.
c. These are conscious and deliberate, we assume that there are different types of
these kinds of beliefs, such as faith and nationality.
a. Articulate a very conscious set of beliefs
b. 19 Major World religions
i. Subdivide into total 270 large religious groups
c. Very large diversity of religions and subreligions.
d. Vast majority of Americans affiliate themselves with a religious identity.
e. Elements of Religion:
i. Set of moral elements and reason for these elements to behave in the
ii. Place of worship
iii. Hierarchy of command
iv. World View
v. Theodicy (an explanation of why evil exists)
vi. Rituals/ways to connect with the transcendent
f. Purpose of Religion:
1. Common identity
2. Conflict resolution
3. Social control
4. Reinforces kinship/community
1. Cognitive (way to understand the world)
2. Emotional (coping with stress and grief) 3. Sense of purpose and meaning
4. Sense of efficacy and control over one’s world, with natural
phenomena and bumps in the world. That you might affect things
i. Evidence of symbolic representation of an afterlife belief (a good proxy
for religious beliefs) as long as 200 – 300 thousand years ago.
ii. Evidence of goddess based societies 30-70 years ago.
1. It wasn’t “just” a fertility cult; these seem to have been major
iii. In Europe, based on burial sites, it seems that men and women had equal
h. Serpent and Dragon Symbolism
i. Serpent was revered as female in the Near and Middle East
ii. In ancient myths, the female deity was often symbolized as a serpent or
dragon. The picture of the cobras as symbolic of mystic insight and
wisdom is used as hieroglyphic sign signifying “goddess”, and precedes
the name of any goddess in Egyptian writing.
i. Egyptian Major Goddesses
i. Neith: goddess of war and of hunting
1. Said to have made weapons for warriors and guard bodies when
2. Also interpreted as “water”, which led to her personification of
being a creator of life, and a mother goddess.
3. Also became the goddess of weaving.At this time her role as a
creator changed from water-based to that who wove all of the
world and existence into being on her loom.
i. Semitic Goddesses:
1. Asarte (connected with fertility, sexuality, and war)
2. Anat (a violent war-goddess)
3. Ba’alat Gebal (goddess of the city of Byblos)
k. Ishtar i. TheAssyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, war, love, and sex.
ii. Counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and the cognate ofAstarte
i. Three chief goddesses of Mecca: Uzza, al-Manat, al-Lat
1. Known as the “daughters of god”
2. Each had a separate shrine near Mecca.
ii. Existed prior to Islam
i. Coatlicue:Aztec goddess of fertility, life, death and rebirth
ii. “Mother of Gods”
1. Gave birth to the moon, stars, and other gods
2. Also known as the “lady of the serpent” the patron of women who
die in childbirth.
n. The Shift to Male-Centered Religions
i. Sporadic invasions from the north and east may have been responsible.
During late BronzeAge and early IronAge came the violent entry,
massacres, and territorial conquests of the cattle-herding Indo-European or
Indo-Aryan tribes with their own concepts of light and good vs. dark and
evil, and worshipping a male storm god often conceived of as residing
high on a mountain and blazing fire
ii. This resulted in a hybridity of male and female gods that produced a
variety of Pagan and polytheistic religions, among Greeks, Romans, Celts,
o. Different religions may have operated alongside each other
p. How do we pass on our religious and spiritual beliefs?
i. We progressively engrain a view of the world based on our religion to
children and the new generation. So things happen based on our beliefs.
ii. Children are told not to question God’s word, so through fear or another
tactic, they are told to follow blindly.
q. Myths and other Cultural Storytelling
i. Embody and convey a particular world view
ii. Explain some of the mysteries of life, why things are the way they are iii. Reflects, support and legitimize patterns of thought and behavior
iv. Convey morals, for example, with dangers of pride, risk of gluttony, perils
3. Beliefs: Unconscious
a. Those that are generally unarticulated, about which we are not entirely aware, but
which nonetheless affect our behavior, such as:
i. Health (origins of illness)
ii. Child development
iii. Human nature and the human condition (are we fundamentally altruistic,
selfish, driven by a need for connection, meaning, control)
b. How babies are made (and how to raise them correctly)
i. Ideas about seed as sperm and soil as the egg, that the seed contains all the
genetic information, and the soil is the platform for growth.
ii. Trobriand Islanders
1. Believe that male children must ingest semen to become men.
iii. Different beliefs about how to raise a child:
1. When to stop breast-feeding or start spoon-feeding. This will help
the baby to become autonomous and independent.
2. Whether to expose and stimulate the baby mentally to expand its
intelligence (flash cards