Chapter 1 - Chapter 1: About Religion Looking Both Ways...

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Chapter 1: About Religion
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Looking Both Ways From Stonehenge: Basic Human Religion Looking Back from Stonehenge There are a few concepts, shared by virtually all human cultures, that are fundamental to what we call religion: 1. It seems that humans around the globe have imagined the world to consist of three levels— sky, earth, and underworld. Sky is typically the home of the greatest deities. The underworld was typically the home of spirits, serpents, or reptilian monsters often imagined as evil.
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Looking Both Ways From Stonehenge: Basic Human Religion, cont’d. 2. Around the world, there are certain places set apart from the everyday world and treated with special respect. Among these sacred places are high mountains, great rivers, and waterfalls 2. Many peoples attribute spirits to animals. These spirits often act as a guardian either to individuals or to an entire family or group. 3. From ancient times, humans have taken great care with the burial of their dead. Positioning of the body and provisioning with ‘grave goods’ imply a belief in an afterlife
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Looking Both Ways From Stonehenge: Basic Human Religion, cont’d. Why are humans religious? Religion seems to grow out of human experiences of good or bad powers, including fear, uncertainty and control. Religion has many emotional dimensions. Fear, awe, love and hate Religion also has many intellectual dimensions. Curiosity about what causes things to happen A sense of order in the universe The drive to make sense out of human experience
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Ten Waves of Religion Wave 1: Shamanism Hunting Rituals Religious behaviour is, at least in part, a way of coping with dangerous situations. Early humans believed that the spirits of the animals they hunted had to be appeased. Coping with unfriendly spirits The spirits associated with natural phenomena are appeased based on what would appease humans. Some examples are offering food or other goods, or invoking a stronger spiritual power to drive the unfriendly spirit away
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Ten Waves of Religion, cont’d. The Shaman The word ‘shaman’ comes from a specific central Asian culture, but it has become the generic term for a person who acts as an intermediary between humans and the spirit world. To communicate with the spirit world, the shaman enters a trance state. This is often induced by rhythmic chanting or drumming After regaining normal consciousness, the shaman announces what he has learned about the problem at hand and what should be done about it. In most cases the appropriate response is to perform a ritual sacrifice of some sort.
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Ten Waves of Religion, cont’d. Wave 2: Connecting to the Cosmos
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This note was uploaded on 01/29/2012 for the course RELI 1001 taught by Professor Eaglen during the Fall '08 term at University of Georgia Athens.

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Chapter 1 - Chapter 1: About Religion Looking Both Ways...

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