[REL 2300] - Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam (30 pages long!)

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1 Dec 2016
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REL 2300
FINAL EXAM
STUDY GUIDE
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REL 2300
Chapter 1 Outline – The Religious Response
i. Religion is threads of different types of prayer rituals in the lives of people around the
world
ii. Attempts to connect with this greater reality have taken many forms.
a. Many of these are organized institutions, such as Buddhism or Christianity with
leaders, sacred scriptures, beliefs, rituals, ethics, spiritual practices, cultural
components, and historical traditions.
A. Why are there religions?
a. In many cultures and times religion has been the basic foundation of life,
permeating all aspects of human existence.
b. Travelers brought the news that religious behaviors of various sorts could be
found everywhere that there are people, triggering attempts to explain their
origin.
B. Materialistic Perspective: Humans invented religion
a. Materialism gained considerable prominence as a theory to explain the fact that
religion can be found in some form in every culture around the world.
a.i. The materialistic point of view is that the supernatural is imaginary
a.i.1. This point of view tells that religions have been created by
humans rather than higher powers
a.ii. Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) reasoned that there are no supernatural
entities, deities are simply projections, objectifications of people’s fears
and desires.
a.ii.1. “people living close to the land made gods of the most
fearsome aspects of nature, such as lightning and death.”
a.iii. Sigmund Freud described religion as a collective fantasy, a “universal
obsessional neurosis”—a cosmic projection and replaying of the loving
and fearful relationships that we had (and have) with our parents.
a.iii.1. Religious belief is an illusion springing from people’s
infantile insecurity and neurotic guilt.
a.iv. Karl Marx argued that a culture’s religion—as well as all other aspects of
its social structure – springs from its economic framework.
a.iv.1. Religion’s origins lie in the longings of those who suffer
from oppression.
a.iv.2. It may have developed from the desire to revolutionize
society and combat exploitation
a.iv.3. Different interpretations of wrongdoings and uses of
religious teachings lessen the perceived need for society to help
those who are oppressed and suffering.
C. Functional Perspective: Religion is Useful
a. Religion is believed to be found everywhere because it is useful
a.i. Emile Durkheim proposed that humans cannot live without organized
social structures, and that religion is a glue that holds a society together.
a.i.1. “Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices
relative to sacred things that is to say, thing set apart and
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REL 2300
Chapter 1 Outline – The Religious Response
forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single
moral community called a church, all those who adhere to them”
a.i.2. According to Durkheim, religious phenomena were
symbols and reinforces of the social order.
a.ii. John Bowker asserts that religions are organized systems that serve the
essential biological purpose of bringing people together for their
common survival, as well as giving their lives a sense of meaning.
a.ii.1. Religion is universal because it protects gene replication
and the nurturing of children.
a.ii.2. Because of its survival value, the potential for religiosity
may even be genetically inherent in human brains.
a.iii. Erich Fromm looked at the usefulness of religion for individuals and
concluded that humans have a need for a stable frame of reference, and
that religion fulfills this need.
a.iv. Research conducted by the Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality
and Health at Duke Univ indicates that religious faith is also beneficial for
our physical health.
a.iv.1. Those who attend religious services or rea scriptures
frequently are significantly longer lived, less likely to be
depressed, less likely to have high blood pressure, and nearly
ninety percent less likely to smoke.
a.v. “Confronting morality is so basic to the spiritual life that whenever monks
from any spiritual tradition meet, within five minutes they are talking
about death.
a.vi. All religions help to uncover meaning in the mist of the mundane.
a.vii. Mircea Eliade wrote of the distinction between the profane—the
everyday world of seemingly random, ordinary and unimportant
occurrences—and the sacred—its values, the realm of the extraordinary
and supernatural, the source of the universe and its values, which is
charged with significance. Religion opens pathways to the sacred by
exploring the transpersonal dimension of life—the eternal and infinite,
beyond limited personal or communal concerns.
a.viii. Religions propose ideals that can radically transform people.
a.ix. Religious literature is full of stories of miraculous aid that has come to
those who have cried out in their need. Rather than what is construed as
divine intervention, sometimes help comes as the strength and
philosophy to accept burdens.
a.x. Baal Shem Tov, the 18th century Hasidic Jewish master taught that the
vicissitudes of life are ways of climbing toward the divine.
a.xi. Islam teaches patience, faithful waiting for the unfailing grace of Allah.
a.xii. According to some Eastern religions, the concept that we are distinct,
autonomous individuals is an illusion
a.xii.1. What we think of as “our” consciousness and “our” bodies
are in perpetual flux.
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Document Summary

Chapter 1 outline the religious response i. ii. Religion is threads of different types of prayer rituals in the lives of people around the world. The materialistic point of view is that the supernatural is imaginary a. i. 1. This point of view tells that religions have been created by humans rather than higher powers a. ii. Ludwig feuerbach (1804-1872) reasoned that there are no supernatural entities, deities are simply projections, objectifications of people"s fears and desires. a. ii. 1. People living close to the land made gods of the most fearsome aspects of nature, such as lightning and death. a. iii. Sigmund freud described religion as a collective fantasy, a universal obsessional neurosis a cosmic projection and replaying of the loving and fearful relationships that we had (and have) with our parents. Religious belief is an illusion springing from people"s a. iii. 1. infantile insecurity and neurotic guilt. a. iv.

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