Theology: Beginning to Vatican II - Theology Beginning to...

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Theology: Beginning to Vatican II WORLD RELIGIONS INTRODUCTION Beginnings Time: end of the 19th century Place: Germany Interest in academic study of religion Friedrich Max Müller: Chips from a German Workshop (1867) Religionswissenschaf : "science of religions" Charles Darwin: Origin of Species (1859); influenced Müller (wanted to find origin of religion) Comparative study of religions: an autonomous discipline (academic course); analysis of common elements to deduce laws of evolution; esp. to discover and define the origin of the first form of religion; analysis of common elements of religions to find original Current Status Due to M's pioneering work, "science of religions" is a significant field in most colleges and universities (within last 3 or 4 decades) Several designations: History of Religions Comparative Religion Phenomenology of Religion Or simply, at times, Religious Studies Methodology Cross-cultural or pluralist Helpful to understand religion in general Rich array of religious phenomena from various cultures Interdisciplinary Draws from several academic disciplines Esp. history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and psychology
Method is scientific Empirical observation (not speculative, guessing) Objective consideration Effect of Scientific Methodology Value-free descriptions of religious phenomena Growing popularity as an academic field Central human phenomenon of being religious is explored through multiple lenses of the humanities and the social sciences Why Study Religion? World religions are intrinsically interesting Necessary to understand the contemporary world Literature and art History Politics and conflicts World peace depends upon knowledge & respect of religious differences Globalization demonstrates that ignorance of the world’s religions is no longer an option People of formerly exotic cultures are now our neighbors Global Village Metaphoric shrinking of the world into a village through the use of electronic media Now viewed as a single community linked by telecommunications. Religion within the Global Community Global community grows close-knit and the relevance of religion in day-to-day life increases The Universality of Religion Religion is present wherever there are people The most pervasive phenomenon across time and geography Evidence of religious awareness from beginning of time Two Approaches to the Study of Religion Comparative Approach: Müller: ‘to know just one religion is to know none”
Since all religions strive to answer fundamental human questions & share many common elements, such study sharpens knowledge of one’s own religion Studying multiple religions helps to find commonalities and create a concept of religion as a whole Empathetic Approach: Empathy is the capacity to see the world from another’s perspective Such study increases one’s appreciation & loving tolerance of all peoples ORIGIN OF RELIGION: Major Theories Numerous Theories In the 19th century:

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