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Religious Knowledge. Moral Knowledge has disappeared from western academia and culture (Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today ). Religious Knowledge.

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religious knowledge

Religious Knowledge

Moral Knowledge has disappeared from western academia and culture (Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today)

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Religious Knowledge

P 23. In the western world, a great historical struggle between what might be called “traditional” knowledge, represented by the church, and modern knowledge, represented by science, has brought us to where many can only think of religion as mere belief or commitment.”

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Religious Knowledge

In late medieval and early modern Europe, much of what the church taught as knowledge was shown not to be knowledge.

“A pervasive mood of rejection then arose.” Became an academic and intellectual lifestyle that became an authority.

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Religious Knowledge

“[This authority] branded all traditional and religious ‘knowledge’ as mere illusion or superstition and all of the sources of such knowledge as unreliable or even delusory.”

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Religious Knowledge

“This idea now governs the world of western thought: religion and knowledge are separate.

“Religion … lost in the public mind its standing as a body of knowledge about what is real and what is right.”

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Religious Knowledge

Archie Bunker: faith is believing what you know is not true

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Religious Knowledge

Religion and intolerance are seen as a reason to separate religion and knowledge (pp 26-29):

1. It is thought if you think you know something, you will be certain about it—have no doubt.

2. This will automatically make you a bigot—close-minded, dogmatic, arrogant.

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Religious Knowledge

3. You will automatically treat those who differ from you badly—oppress, etc.

4. Therefore, should make knowledge tentative –can’t really know is the only way to stay tolerant.—this is the dominant view in the west now

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Religious Knowledge

5. Openness and humility about knowledge is seen only in the scientific realm.

6. Knowledge claims in religion and morality are viewed as having no test in reality and therefore no check on the certainty with which they are held.

7. Therefore restrict knowledge claims to science

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Religious Knowledge

But those who are taking this stand for tolerance and humility are not doing so on the basis of scientific knowledge; but on what they think they know is true morally and ethically.

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Religious Knowledge

Many who have taken stands in history against intolerance have done so on the basis of what they understand is moral and religious knowledge.

AND many who think there is no real knowledge in religion and morality have acted in arrogant and intolerant ways.

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Religious Knowledge

Tolerance – generous regard for those with whom we differ – requires care for people.

29

It must be based upon “knowledge of what is good and right.”

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Religious Knowledge

An important question in today’s world; and a question we want to raise at Payap University:

Can religious teachings be knowledge?

If not, then religion is irrelevant practically and cannot contribute to understanding or directing life.

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Religious Knowledge

When you listen to Dr Mark Tamthai’s lecture – ask yourself, do you think he thinks we can have religious knowledge?

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Religious Knowledge

What is knowledge? “We have knowledge of something when we are representing it (thinking about it, speaking of it, treating it) as it actually is, on an appropriate basis of thought and experience.” (Willard, p.15)

Involves truth or accuracy of representation

Also must have evidence or insight (through ways that depend on the subject matter)

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Religious Knowledge

“Knowledge in this sense is what we require in service people, professionals, and leaders. We expect them to know what they are doing, to be right, but not just by guessing or luck.” (p. 15) E.g. don’t want a surgeon to count on luck in doing surgeries

“Knowledge brings truth and correctness under reliable control.” (pp 15-16)

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Religious Knowledge

Belief: not necessarily tied to truth or evidence; beliefs are “tendencies to act” (Willard, p. 16)

What we believe will affect our actions:

eg believe out of gas, will look for gas station;

We can believe what is false

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Religious Knowledge

Belief: not necessarily tied to truth or evidence; beliefs are “tendencies to act” (Willard, p. 16)

What we believe will affect our actions:

eg believe out of gas, will look for gas station;

We can believe what is false

If we believe religious things, we will act on them.

(Test belief through action)

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Religious Knowledge

We sometimes do not believe what we know: e.g. know the odds of winning the lottery are next to zero (know we will not win, but refuse to keep this in mind), but act as if might win (gamble). This is irrational and irresponsible.

This is why gambling is morally wrong. Being rational is a virtue; and gambling is irrational.

(Gambling is presented as “entertainment” for this reason—disguises the irrationality.)

Rational and responsible people base their beliefs and actions on knowledge.

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Religious Knowledge

Commitment:

may not involve belief or knowledge;

simply means “choosing and implementing a course of action” (Willard, p. 16)

(sometimes we just need to do something, so we do)

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Religious Knowledge

Profession:

what we say we believe;

some profess what they do not believe and may not be committed to

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Religious Knowledge

Whether religious or other teachings are KNOWLEDGE matters.

“Knowledge, but not mere belief or commitment, confers on its possessor an authority or right—even a responsibility—to act, to direct action, to establish and supervise policy, and to teach.” (Willard, p. 17)

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Religious Knowledge

Knowledge also gives belief and action stability and communicability—

“because knowledge involves truth: truth secured by experience, method, and evidence that is generally available.” (p. 18)

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Religious Knowledge

This is “why we want leaders, professionals, and others we rely upon to know what they are doing, not just to believe or feel strongly about it.”

“If they lack the knowledge assumed, they are disqualified, even if they remain in a position of service or power.” (p. 18)

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Religious Knowledge

Belief and knowledge are different and have different roles in life.

“rational and responsible people are those who strive to base their beliefs and actions upon their knowledge” (Willard, p. 19)

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Religious Knowledge

Belief and knowledge are different and have different roles in life.

“rational and responsible people are those who strive to base their beliefs and actions upon their knowledge” (Willard, p. 19)

Ideally, knowledge is the basis of belief; it is the best basis; but belief is not a basis for knowledge.

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Religious Knowledge

Religion presents itself as knowledge. E.g. Christianity as knowledge of God—

which can lead to belief and commitment to action that go beyond the knowledge

but are “still conditioned on knowledge of God”

Faith is commitment to action—not a blind leap into belief without knowledge

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Religious Knowledge

Current western understanding of “leaps of faith” is actually leaping without faith, with no belief. “The result has been to undermine the foundations of faith in knowledge and to leave the teachings of Jesus and his people (along with those of all other religions) hanging in the air, with no right or responsibility to direct human life. (Willard, p. 21)

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Religious Knowledge

The statement: “all religions are equal” – means “all religions are equally devoid of knowledge and reality or truth. In fact, however, no known religions are the same; they teach and practice radically different things. You only have to look at them to see that. To say they are all the “same” is to disrespect them. It is a way of claiming that none really matter, that their distinctives are of no human significance.” (p. 21)

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Religious Knowledge

All religions “present themselves as providing knowledge of what is real and what is right. To think otherwise is to falsify the very nature of religious consciousness and religious life as well as the claims of the particular religions.” “they offer—whether they are right about it or not—knowledge of certain profound truths, and they call people to act on the basis of that knowledge.”

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Religious Knowledge

Eg. Buddhist enlightenment “is offered as knowledge, as passing beyond the false beliefs and passions engulfing the usual human existence and grasping ultimate reality.” (p. 22)

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Religious Knowledge

December 6, 2011

1. Sorry, don’t have rubric for group presentation; will email it late tonight

2. Options for 10% of grade:

2.1. Religions Reflection Paper: my religion and another religion

2.2. Covey habit 7: personal development teaching and learning projects

2.3. Covey: vision, mission, roles and goals for Payap student career; 30-day plan project and reflection

Details (rubrics) on Thursday –

choose and tell choice to Katie at midterm

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Religious Knowledge

Epistemology: how we know we know

Historically 3 sources of knowledge:

1. Authority

2.  Thinking or reason

3. Experience (empiricism and naturalism)

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Religious Knowledge

Epistemology: how we know we know

Historically 3 sources of knowledge:

1. Authority: “based on historical or social position (mainly in church and government) has mostly dominated human life and is still dominant today in many parts of the world—often where it is least suspected.” (p. 58)

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Religious Knowledge

Epistemology: how we know we know

 Historically 3 sources of knowledge:

2.  Thinking or reason: became dominant when authority broke down

Excessive claims of reason led to revolt

3. Experience (empiricism and naturalism)

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Religious Knowledge

Science appeals to all three sources “but in undigested and incoherent ways that permit it to be manipulated in the public arena, where policy issues are in question, for numerous unscientific and political purposes.” (p. 59)

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Religious Knowledge

Today we need a clear understanding of “science” but science can’t offer it. This is the “impasse of modern life. Science is the presumed authority on knowledge, but it cannot provide scientific knowledge of science.” (p. 59)

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Religious Knowledge

Clarifying Science and its relationship to the Humanities (Richard Gorsuch)

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Religious Knowledge

Two major academic areas:

The Sciences and the Humanities

Philosophy undergirds both of them

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Religious Knowledge

Sciences Classical pyramid

(omits some sciences):

Philosophy & theology (develop totalistic views of nature of reality)

Sociology

Psychology

Biology

Chemistry

Physics

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Religious Knowledge

Physics the foundation of the sciences—

know enough physics, could write chemistry as physics;

Know enough chemistry—write biology as chemistry, etc.

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Religious Knowledge

Philosophy and theology – parts of them are independent of science, but they have to do with the nature of reality, so they must include science and what it has established

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Religious Knowledge

HumanitiesPhilosophy and theology

History

(from events recorded in many people’s lives)

Biography

Autobiography

Arts and literature

Personal experience

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Religious Knowledge

Primacy of philosophy for both: “because of the question of how knowledge in each discipline can be attained. That is not a simple task.

(Gorsuch, p. 33)

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Religious Knowledge

The heart of that discussion is one historical, philosophic point the virtually defines the postmodern philosophical era in which we live: Descartes’s ‘Cogito, ergo sum.’ Many hold this is a critical critique that would invalidate much of the search for all knowledge; to what degree are they correct?”

(Gorsuch, p. 33)

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Religious Knowledge

[Descartes (1701/1990)

mathematics gave 100 % certain proofs

when assumptions granted

Anything else?

“Descartes decided to accept only that for which no doubt could be raised.”

Concluded he could not doubt

that he doubted.

“Cogito, ergo sum” = “I think, therefore I am”

But actually no basis for “I” (Gorsuch, p. 33)

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Religious Knowledge

“The average person and Descartes

have this in common:

Neither have taken his or her doubting of the existence of everything else

too seriously.”

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Religious Knowledge

Philosophers “have given up—

after searching for several hundred years—on finding any conclusive foundation on which to build a philosophy of knowledge.” (Gorsuch, p. 45-46) ]

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Religious Knowledge

“Decisions about knowledge are psychological decisions” (Gorsuch, p.33)

Do the humanities “have a unique approach to truth? Will integrating this with scientific truth lead to wisdom?” (Gorsuch, p. 34)

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Religious Knowledge

The Nature of Science

Scientific reports:

help us understand the logic of science

“Science is based on the ability of anyone trained in a discipline to replicate the results of anyone else. This points to several values in science.

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Religious Knowledge

First, the principle that the report must show

how to replicate the experiment

provides a definition of ‘fact’:

A fact is established when people running the same research procedure get the same results.

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Religious Knowledge

A fact is not some ‘magical’ way to ‘truth’ of a radically different nature from the truth of everyday life. A fact is instead based on data consistency; that is, an outcome that occurs when data are collected under the standardized conditions of the experiment.” (Gorsuch, p. 37) The Nature of Science

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Religious Knowledge

Objective: “A statement is ‘objective’ to the degree that all qualified people readily agree to it.

In psychology, the degree to which measurement is objective is assessed by rater agreement (Gorsuch, 2002): The higher the rater agreement, the higher the objectivity.

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Religious Knowledge

‘Subjective’ is the opposite of objective, when the raters disagree. Combining this definition of objective with the condition for concluding that a fact is established means that scientific facts are objective.” (Gorsuch, p. 38)

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Religious Knowledge

Second value of science seen in the research report:

“the open communication of ideas and procedures.” (p. 39)

Others can run the test themselves.

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Religious Knowledge

“Third, the science report shows that a community is involved.

It is expected that others will be replicating the study, and that the results will only be accepted as fact when that community is convinced by replicating the results.” (p. 39)

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Religious Knowledge

Science—publish procedures producing results and “others following that procedure find the same results” (p. 41)

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Religious Knowledge

Theory: “a theory is a convenient way to summarize facts so they can be grasped by our human minds.” (p. 41)

“it must make sense to the current generation of thinkers. A new generation may wish to rewrite the theory so ‘it makes more sense’ to them; that is, they rewrite it so it can be grasped by their human minds. Theories are therefore social constructions. (p. 41)

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Religious Knowledge

Of course, any theory that replaces an older theory does so either because the new theory accounts for more facts or because the new theory is easier to grasp (sometimes referred to as more ‘elegant’).

But the new theory must do as well as the old theory in accounting for the established facts.

(A change in theories may well change which facts are seen as relevant and how the facts are described.)” (p. 41)

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Religious Knowledge

All the science disciplines rest on “assumptions regarding the nature of reality and our relationship to it. Science as commonly practiced implicitly assumes that our experiences show us reality, a reality that was the same in the past as it is now.” (p. 42) and “our senses give us reasonably accurate information” (p. 44)

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Religious Knowledge

These assumptions are not addressed by science. “they need to be justified by philosophy and theology.” (p. 42)

Judeo-Christian-Islamic theology provides basis for science.

[What is a Buddhist basis for science? EW]

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Religious Knowledge

Sciences & Humanities – wisdom?

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Religious Knowledge

Nomotheticvs idiographic distinction

(uniqueness is the underlying issue)

Nomothetic is concerned with that which can be generalized, such as basic principles.

Idiographic is concerned with that which is unique (and therefore not generalizable). (Gorsuch p 50)

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Religious Knowledge

Science (purpose and procedures)

are nomothetic –

basic principles that happen every time

So procedures designed to produce nomothetic knowledge

(multiple scientists produce same basic results from same procedures)

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Religious Knowledge

But people live idiographic lives:

each event of our lives is unique;

one event can make for a major shift

We approach nomothetic knowledge

from our idiographic perspective

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Religious Knowledge

Disciplines most linked to idiographic events of our lives are the arts and humanities.

“They express our situations—including spiritual ones—in ways that communicate beyond the formal, logical exposition of nomothetic science. The arts themselves are expressions of our idiographic selves, and we resonate with art that ‘strikes the right cord’ with us.”

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Religious Knowledge

“The idiographic is also central in our professional and personal lives because of the nature of ‘understanding and insight.’ While nomothetically we support the theory that even the insights that we have

follow nomothetic principles,

how the insights happen

is still idiographic to each of us.” (p. 51)

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Religious Knowledge

Science uses replicable events

to build into a conceptual framework

Humanities take our idiographic events and build them into a conceptual framework

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Religious Knowledge

For psychology,

the most important humanities are literature and history

History helps understand unique events that are background to present interactions

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Religious Knowledge

Pyramid of idiographic understanding:

Philosophy and theology

History

(from events recorded in many people’s lives)

Biography

Autobiography

Arts and literature

Personal experience

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Religious Knowledge

Is only science objective?

Not according to earlier definition: agreement among raters using the same definition

Idiographic discipline such as history “looks for rater agreement not by replication (science) but by checking for consistency of reports across records or memories.”

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Religious Knowledge

[EW What might be the connections among right and left brain functions,

sciences and humanities,

nomothetic and idiographic knowledge?]

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Religious Knowledge

So how do we know?

(back to Dallas Willard)

The three sources of knowledge

(authority, reason, experience)

are not opposed,

but supplement each other well in real life.

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Religious Knowledge

Earlier definition of knowledge: “We have knowledge of something when we are representing it (thinking about it, speaking of it, treating it) as it actually is, on an appropriate basis of thought and experience.”

Appropriate basis of thought and experience – depends on the subject matter.

We may not know that we know

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Religious Knowledge

“the concrete progression toward knowledge, in real life, is always rather messy”

the “skepticism” of the academy and classroom come from attempts to restrict knowledge a narrow range to try to avoid or simplify the messiness

[RG says issue of objectivity]

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Religious Knowledge

Three basic worldview stories:

theistic,

nirvana, and

secular/naturalistic

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Religious Knowledge

Stephen Prothero (2010). God is not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter. HarperCollins Publishers: NY, NY.

Since 1960s in west: “fashionable to affirm that all religions are beautiful and all are true” (p. 1)

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Religious Knowledge

“No one argues that different economic systems or political regimes are one and the same.” (p. 1)

[Prothero here supports Willard’s contention that religion is not considered KNOWLEDGE, but rather personal preference]

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Religious Knowledge

Need to know where religions clash and where they can cooperate (p. 4)

Religion is a powerful force among humans—for both terrible evil and wonderful good.

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Religious Knowledge

Prothero trying to be fair

to the most influential religions in today’s world—

show them all

in both their positive and negative aspects

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Religious Knowledge

 Each religion describes:

a PROBLEM (something is awry in the world).

a SOLUTION to deal with the problem.

a TECHNIQUE (or techniques) for moving from this problem to this solution

an EXEMPLAR (or exemplars) “who chart this path from problem to solution” (p. 14)

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Religious Knowledge

 Each religion presentation should include the following elements of the religion:

a PROBLEM (something is awry in the world).

a SOLUTION to deal with the problem.

a TECHNIQUE (or techniques) for moving from this problem to this solution

an EXEMPLAR (or exemplars) “who chart this path from problem to solution” (p. 14)

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Religious Knowledge

 “Families” of religion have several dimensions

(Ninian Smart – seven dimensions of religion)

Ritual

Narrative

Experiential

Institutional

Ethical

Doctrinal

Material

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Religious Knowledge

 Each religion presentation should include descriptions of the following elements of the religion: Ritual

Narrative

Experiential

Institutional

Ethical

Doctrinal

Material

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Religious Knowledge

Religions teach us how to be fully human.

Each has a different vision of “a human being fully alive.”

“Each offers its own diagnosis of the human problem and its own prescription for a cure.

Each offers its own techniques for reaching its religious goal, and its own exemplars for emulation.” (Prothero p. 333)

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Religious Knowledge

“All their adherents are human beings with human bodies and human failings, so each of these religions attends to our embodiment and to the human predicament, not least by defining what it is to be fully alive.” (p. 333)   

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Religious Knowledge

(Willard) The Four Fundamental Questions of Life

1) What is the nature of reality? What is “real”?

2) What would your life look like if you were “doing well”? or what is a quality life?

3) What does it mean to be a truly good person? Or what is real goodness?

4) How does one become a truly good person?

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Religious Knowledge

Each religion presentation should include the religion’s answers to The Four Fundamental Questions of Life

1) What is the nature of reality? What is “real”?

2) What would your life look like if you were “doing well”? or what is a quality life?

3) What does it mean to be a truly good person? Or what is real goodness?

4) How does one become a truly good person?

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Religious Knowledge

Compare Prothero’s description of what religions have and do with Dallas Willard’s four fundamental Questions of life:

The Four Fundamental Questions of Life

1) What is the nature of reality? What is “real”?

2) What would your life look like if you were “doing well”? or what is a quality life?

3) What does it mean to be a truly good person? Or what is real goodness?

4) How does one become a truly good person?

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Religious Knowledge

(Prothero)

Religious way to talk about religion: our religious creeds, etc. are true [knowledge]

Secular way to talk about religion: does not assume truth or falsehood of religion; “aims instead simply to observe and to report, as objectively as possible, on this thing human beings do, for good or for ill (or both).” (p. 336)

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Religious Knowledge

How does Prothero’s description

of the “religious way” to talk about religion and the “secular way” to talk about religion

compare to Gorsuch’s definition of nomothetic and idiographic approaches to knowledge?

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Religious Knowledge

Payap University is church-related

Mission: express God’s love

Motto: Truth & Service

reveals our position that there is true truth in Christianity

Christianity is fundamentally historical and also values science

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Religious Knowledge

Payap University is church-related

Mission: express God’s love

Motto: Truth & Service

reveals our position that there is true truth in Christianity

Look now at the history and core values of Payap University