Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed were reformers who tried to advocate for peace, equality, and respect for women, minorities, the poor, the orphaned, and the sick. In their times they preached visionary beliefs, but, in the aftermath of their lives, old discriminations persisted and their descendants were unable to sustain the original vision of these reformers. Why, ultimately, despite their best intentions and higher standards, did their attempts fail with people lapsing back into old patterns of patriarchy, discrimination, and wars?

 

There are differing views as to the future of the major world religions. One view is that most of the major religions will become increasingly conservative in a world of global connections. A differing view is that the renewed respect/concern for nature (environmentalism) will cause a shift for these religions to incorporate more nature centered elements. A third view argues that as science unlocks more secrets of the universe, religion will eventually diminish and disappear among the educated. How do you respond to these 3 views? What is your view on the future of religion?

 

Defining religion is often problematic with definitions being either too narrow or too broad. What are some deficiencies in common definitions of religion? After completing this course on World Religions, how do you define religion? What elements must you include in your definition? Do you think there is something in common in all religions, or is each religion its own unique entity? Be careful not to simply define religion based solely on your own religious beliefs.

Consider the different concepts held by different religions of achieving a level of perfection, either in this lifetime or in the afterlife. Discuss the concepts of nirvana/enlightenment and those of heaven/paradise. How do these ideas of the ultimate religious goal compare and contrast?

 

Religion deals with answering the question: what is the nature of life? Choose 2 religions with different perspectives on the human condition. How do these belief systems approach the answer to the previous question? What are the main differences in their positions? What are the main similarities?
Huston Smith explains that our textbook ?seeks to embrace the world. We have come to the point in history where we must all struggle to be a citizen of the world. The only thing that is unqualifiedly good is extended vision, the enlargement of one?s understands of the ultimate nature of things.? What exactly is Smith?s point? How do you view yourself in relation to the world? How does your ?understanding of the ultimate nature of things? fit into the discussion of religion?

 

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