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Exam 1

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
- religion
- science

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

common trait

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 trait


COMMON: Release from Cycle of Life, Death, and Rebirth

Four types of religious systems: Religions orientating in China/Japan

common trait

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

common trait


Belief in One Creator God, Absence of Reincarnation, Linear View of Time, Divine Judgment of the World


animals, stones, rivers, mountains and Earth have a spirit.

Spirits can communicate

Rites of passage

birth, puberty, marriage and death


birth of twins, women and menstruation, unclean food

methods used to achieve divination

analyzing animal entrails, bird flight observation, reading tortoise shell


- use pictures to explain religion
- poetic way of telling great truths


- attempt to control nature
- intent of practitioner determines difference between magic and religion
- fetish: good luck charms

Totem is based on

feeling of kinship between humans and other creatures/nature

sacrifice various meanings

feeding spirits, gift to spirit world, establishment of bond between humans and spirits

ritual: what devotees identify with

divine characters and their actions

phenomenon that led to ancestor veneration

people dreamed of the dead

began to believe dead were not gone but lived in another form/planet

Native American concept of God?

many levels of gods and spirits exist

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

What is the purpose of the vision quest

- gain spirit power

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

What is the most common spiritual force in African religions?

- ancestors


the belief that there are forces in nature that humans can use to their benefit.


shamans and ancestor worship.


God or the gods are pictured as various animals.


God or the gods take on the form or characteristics of humans.


specialists in rituals that deal with the spirit word

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


based on one's relationship to a Divine Being.


belief in no God; denies the existence of God(s).


if the divine exist, it is impossible for humans to know it.


-Unseen reality viewed in non-personal ways

-a "Changeless Unity" or "Ground of Being" or the "One."


belief in one God worshipped in a singular form.


reality exists outside of the material universe



sacred reality encompasses material world

(Eastern/indigenous religions)


"all God"

-the sacred can being discovered within the physical world

-nature itself is part of God


all is God, God is all

Definition of indigenous

- living naturally in a particular area or environment.


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

African Religions: traditions

beginning of the world

African Religions: Ancestors

- guard and guide decendents

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