Powerpoint - John Provost

History of World Religions
Philosophy literally
means “the love of
Religion can be
seen as a multiple
layered series of
teachings and
practices that can
be seen in a number
of different ways.
Integral Approach
A key component of
this course is the
developmental and
evolutionary model
of religion as the
guiding principle.
A Developmental Model
A developmental
model of religion
means that religion
means different
things to people who
are at different
levels of
Three Basic Levels
Three basic levels
we will work with are
the pre-rational,
rational, and transrational levels.
Trans-rational Development
In order to develop
to the trans-rational
levels, people have
to make a choice to
do so.
Emotional Responses
A good thing to keep
in mind in this class
is to ask yourself
what is going on if
you are having an
emotional response
to a certain idea.
Defining Religion
“Traditional religion
in innumerable
different cultures
affirms that human
life has relationships
and objectives
beyond the ordinary,
basic, physical and
emotional needs of
individual people…”
A Sense of Wonder
Abraham Joshua
Heschel described
religion as “a sense
of wonder.” It is that
sense of awe and
radical amazement
we can often feel at
a display of nature,
the birth of a child,
Religious Experience
“Religious belief
often springs from
mystical experiencethe overwhelming
awareness that one
has been touched
by a reality that far
transcends ordinary
Why Study?
“If there is to be
peace among the
nations, cultures,
and religions of the
world, religious
differences must be
known and
Conditioned Reality
“To say something is
conditioned simply
means it is limited or
Unconditioned Reality
“Its knowledge,
wisdom, and mental
power would be
unlimited and would
embrace all that
could possibly be
known or thought.”
Unconditioned Reality
Brahman (Hinduism)
Nirvana (Buddhism)
Toa (Taoism)
God (Judaism,
Christianity, Islam)
Conditioned Reality
Maya (Hinduism)
Under Heaven
Death (Judaism)
The World
Religious Expression
“The first level of
religious expression,
the theoretical,
essentially the
verbal expression:
what is said.”
Mythology is a story
that reveals truth. In
that sense religious
myths can be very
true in terms of the
wisdom revealed
while untrue in a
literal sense.
Practical Expression
“The practices of
religion constitute
the form of religious
expression referred
to as the practical
expression of
religion: what is
Sociological Expression
“Forms of
organization, and
the way they relate
to the broader social
context, are also
part of religion, the
expression of
The Descriptive Approach
“It is not the purpose
of a study such as
this to decide on the
ultimate truth or
falsity of any
religion. We are
simply trying to
know and
understand them
The Critical Approach
“Beneficial change
will not occur unless
questions are asked
and criticisms made.
But fair and effective
change also
requires the most
accurate information
and insight that can
be garnered.”
The Evolutionary Model
All the founders of
the world’s major
religions came
around the same
Hunting and Gathering
“Spiritual power was
focused in the sky,
the world of animals,
and the ecstatic
Agricultural Religion
“The development of
agriculture is
generally viewed as
a great landmark in
religion, as it is in
economic history.”
Ancient Empires
“Polytheism reached
an apex during this
period, for it was
really a result of the
union of a number of
tribes into a single
Religion Response to History
Epics gave a
narrative story to a
people that made
sense of their
history and usually
showed that there
was a higher
purpose to where
they were going as
a society.
“Another response
is to keep certain
rites … unchanged
as a sort of a frozen
perpetuation of the
past before the
discovery of history
and as a symbolic
area of experience
untouched by it.”
The Religious Founders
“By making the life
of a single individual
the pivot of history,
they acknowledge
its irreversible
movement and at
the same time give it
a sharply focused
central axis.”
Wisdom is the part
of religion that
focuses not so much
on theory or dogma,
but on certain
practices and
disciplines which
allow a person to
undergo a
Devotional sects
placed more
emphasis on their
feelings than their
intellect, love than
on faith.
“Modernism was a
new exaltation of the
secular world and
the individual in it.”
“Liberalism in
religion is essentially
the restatement of
religious absolutes
so as to fit with the
normative social and
scientific values of
the cultural context.”
Current Problems
Modernism created
many problems
such as the
ecological crisis,
nuclear war,
materialism, and
many modern
medical problems
caused by stress
and addictions.
Postmodernism can
be summed up by
the one word
“Postmodernism is
because it
challenges all of the
assumptions of
modernism, not
least of which is that
there can be
certainty in religious
Integral Philosophy
Instead of saying
something is stupid,
it will instead ask,
“What is right about
Women in Religion
The role of women
in religion needs
special attention
because it has been
ignored in a
significant way into
Remember that a
teaching can be
limited by the prerational
consciousness of
the people following
the leader.
Shedding Light
“Just to shed light
on the subject is to
call it into question.”
“Approached by
different ways of
knowing, by different
people, from
different times and
different cultures,
the sacred has
many faces.”
Words…Ultimate Reality
Immanent: Present in the world
Transcendent: Existing above and
outside of the material universe.
Theistic: Religions based on one’s
relationship to a divine Being.
Monotheistic: When the Being is
worshipped as a singular form
Words…Ultimate Reality
“If many attributes and forms of the
Divine are emphasized, the religion may
be labeled polytheistic. Religions that
hold that beneath the multiplicity of
apparent forms there is one underlying
substance are called monistic.”
Words…Ultimate Reality
“Atheism is the non-belief in any deity.”
“Agnosticism is not the denial of the
divine but the feeling, “I don’t know
whether it exists or not,” or the belief
that if it exists it is impossible for
humans to know it.”
Words…Ultimate Reality
Nontheism: “Ultimate reality may also
be conceived in nontheistic terms. It
may be experienced as a “changeless
Unity,” as “Suchness,” or simply as “the
Way.” There may be no sense of a
personal Creator God in such
Mystical Insight
“The only form of comprehension of
God we can have is to realize how futile
it is to try to comprehend him.”
More Terminology
“Myths are stories based on symbols.”
“Cosmogony: Sacred accounts of the
creation of the world.”
“Eschatology: Beliefs concerning the
purported end of the world.”
More Terminology
“Fundamentalism: The selective
insistence on parts of a religious
tradition and to violence against people
of other religions.”
More Terminology
Liberalism: “Liberals take a more
flexible approach to religious tradition.”
Heretics: “Those who publicly assert
controversial positions that are
unacceptable to the orthodox
Mystics: “Those governed by their own
spiritual experiences.”
Perspective, Perspective
It is true that religions have done, and
continue to do, horrible things. But they
have also done wonderful and glorious
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