1. Why do you think people believe in God ? (This may pertain to people today or in the past). You might start by making a list of reasons for belief. The parameters of a definition for God in this first question can include the notion of a higher power, ultimate reality, universal source (force), supreme entity, or spirit(s). Why do people belong to organized religions? How about the whole issue of disbelief? What are the reasons for people not believing in “the divine” or some type of ultimate reality? Could some of the reasons (and reasoning) for belief be similar to those who opt for disbelief (atheists) or for skepticism (agnostics)? Under what circumstances would the reasons for faith or disbelief be different?
2. Discuss some of the sociological, anthropological and psychological theories for the development of religion or belief systems proposed by 19th and 20th century thinkers such as:
Mircea Eliade Herbert Spencer Emile Durkheim E.B. Tylor Rudolph Otto James Frazier Arnold Van Gennep William James John Lubbock Sigmund Freud Rudolf Bultmann Friedrich Nietzsche
Did the gods create people or did people “create” their impressions of God(s)?
(Some of these theorists are not in your textbooks. You might choose to research 4 or 5 of the scholars listed above and present some of their ideas.)
3. How might you define the terms religion, myth, and scripture? What are the definitions used by scholars? When you think of terms like sacred or holy, what type of things come to mind? Again, it might help to make a list. Do you think people are becoming more or less “religious” in today’s modern world. Why?