William Schmidt's monotheistic theory of religion: beliefs of primitive societies concerning God
- distant one great god above all others
- created lesser deities
Sir James George Frazier's magic theory: three phases of development regarding spirit world
- attempt to control world through magic
three theories of religion as projections of human needs: Ludwig, Marx, Freud
- used to overcome problems via imagination; imagine a power who can help them
- used by ruling classes to suppress underclass
- projection of a great father image called God, rooted in guilt men feel in hating their fathers, fulfillment of most urgent wishes of mankind
Four types of religious systems: Basic Religions
religious ideas are not preserved in written form.
Religions of Pre-historic peoples
have a small amount of information.
-Native American and African Religions
-COMMON: animistic view
Four types of religious systems: Religions orientating in India
COMMON: Release from Cycle of Life, Death, and Rebirth
Four types of religious systems: Religions orientating in China/Japan
Religions Originating in China and Japan
Belief in many gods, Worship of nature, Veneration of Ancestors
Four types of religious systems: Religions orientating in Middle East
Belief in One Creator God, Absence of Reincarnation, Linear View of Time, Divine Judgment of the World
methods used to achieve divination
analyzing animal entrails, bird flight observation, reading tortoise shell
- attempt to control nature
- intent of practitioner determines difference between magic and religion
- fetish: good luck charms
sacrifice various meanings
feeding spirits, gift to spirit world, establishment of bond between humans and spirits
phenomenon that led to ancestor veneration
people dreamed of the dead
began to believe dead were not gone but lived in another form/planet
How do Native Americans view hunting in light of their religion?
- viewed animal as fellow creature with spirit
- hunter prayed to spirit of animal before the hunt
- after hunt hunter asked animal for forgiveness
According to Native American belief, how is the land of the dead often portrayed?
- happy or sad place
- only exists as long as remembered
Note the teaching on the High God and polytheism in African religions.
-created the world then left (Olorun)
-sons (Obatala, Oduda)
teaching on lesser spirits and animistic faiths.
- worshiped with temples, priests, rituals, food/drink
What is the traditional African belief about illness, misfortune, and death?
- caused by witchcraft or foul play
What do many African religions believe about the dead?
- no eschatology
- dead move into the world the spirits and continue to be effective among the living
Why Study World Religions?
Insight into Religious Beliefs
Insight into What Religions Share
Insight into how religions differ
Reasons to Study World Religions
Globalization: economic and social systems of nations are connected together moving freely between nations
Pluarlism: presence of various religions and is a mark of a democracy.
Religious Violence: members of certain religions misuse their religion to invoke or justify the killing of other people - in the name of God.
Why are there religions: 3 general theories
Materialistic Perspective - humans invented religion. only material world exists
Functional Perspective - religion is useful for individuals and society. Glue that holds society together (Emile Durkheim)
Belief Perspective - Ultimate Reality exists. Unseen reality. knowledge may come through reading the scriptures, meditation
-Unseen reality viewed in non-personal ways
-a "Changeless Unity" or "Ground of Being" or the "One."
-the sacred can being discovered within the physical world
-nature itself is part of God
Native American Beliefs on Creation
-the earth rises out of the waters and separates them from the sky.
-world isn't finished creation
Native Americans: Shamans
- control spirits to maintain harmony with nature
-seek to heal people
-speak to animals