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REL101: Introduction to World Religious StudiesDr. Stephen SappClass Lecture Notes What is Religion? Why study it?What is Religious Studies? Religious Studies isthe academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically-based, and cross-cultural perspectives. Note the emphasis on Religious Studies, there is a distinction between practice and study. Why study religion? We study religion to get a better understanding of self and others. Also, because it’s part of being an educated person and because it’s impossible to understand much of history and current events without knowledge of the role of religion. Lastly, we study religion to help us in answering life’s “big questions”What is religion? The root of the word religion means religare(to bind together). However, the 19thcentury definition of religion is: “the belief in a God or Gods to be worshiped and obeyed as creator(s) and ruler(s) of the universe.” But some religions, like Buddhism and Jainism, have no God or Gods, or any kind of supernatural beings. Therefore, a widely accepted concept in defining religion is associated with Paul Tillich. Paul Tillich was a German theologian who claimed that religion is that which is a persons ultimate concern. Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, gave Paul’s concept a psychological twist: “Religion is the ultimate organizing principle of one’s personality.” The provisional, or temporary, definition stands that religion consists of answers people give to the ultimate questions of life--such as origins, values, purpose,and destiny--chiefly by way of belief in God or Gods or at least some kind of transcendent poweror force.Hinduism: When the Aryans and the Indians MergedHinduism is the mother of which three significant world religions: Buddhism, Jainism, and SikhismWhat are the three Abrahamic Religions? What makes Hinduism different from those Religions?Hinduism has no clear cut beginning. In other words, it cannot be tracked to a certain date.
How did Hinduism arise?Hinduism arose after the Aryans flooded into India and brought their indigenous religion with them. Although the exact date that Hinduism arose is unknown, we do know that the Aryans went to India around 2000-1500 BCE *BCE stands for Before the common era and is equivalent to BC (before Christ). Conversely, CE stands for the common era and is equivalent to AD (anno domini)What are the Vedas?When the Aryans reached India they composed ritual hymns called Vedas. The Vedas were concerned with such things as the origin of the universe, the personalities of Gods, and proper human behavior toward the Gods. The Vedas were accepted as sacred scripture and were the basis of all subsequent Hindu thought.