TaK - Religion Some questions to start … • Why are there religion(s)? • How do we assess the claims of religion? • Should religious belief be exposed to rational criticism?
TaK - Religion • All cultures in all times have organized their societies around their religious beliefs. so where does it all begin?....
TaK - Religion The Evolution of Mythology and Religion • Early religion was the science and technology of its time – inasmuch as its stories sought to explain and predict; and its practices were designed to influence natural forces
TaK - Religion The Evolution of Mythology and Religion • “A myth is a religion • in which no one any • longer believes.” • James Feibleman
TaK - Religion 80,000 light years 25,000 light years
TaK - Religion Ursa Major NGC 3310
TaK - Religion NGC 3310 50,000 light years in diameter
TaK - Religion Religion: a definition A Religion is a set of doctrines and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature and often arranged as prayer, ritual or religious law.
TaK - Religion • Key terms: • Faith • Doubt • Belief • Truth • Certainty • Reason
TaK - Religion It is hard to be indifferent to claims which offer explanations about the nature of right and wrong; the purpose of life; and what happens to us after death.
TaK - Religion Who believes what?
TaK - Religion The options … • Atheism (there is no God) • Theism (there is one God) • Polytheism (there are several gods) • Pantheism (the Universe is God) …are there others?
TaK - Religion • The varieties of Religion: • One religion is true and all the rest are false • All religions are false • All religions point • towards the same • underlying truth
TaK - Religion • I think that God exists • I believe that God exists • I know that God exists • What’s the difference?
TaK - Religion • Religious beliefs can give certainty, meaning and purpose to our lives. • (Atheism is also a belief system which can give certainty, meaning and purpose to our lives.)
TaK - Religion How many people have a religious belief? Between 70% - 90% of the worlds population. (depending on source)
TaK - Religion 2007 – 2008 Gallup Poll
TaK - Religion God: ”I know God exists and I have no doubts about it” Afterlife: ”I definitely believe in life after death” Bible: ”The Bible is the actual word of God and it is to be taken literally, word for word.” Devil: ”I definitely believe in the Devil” Hell: ”I definitely believe in Hell” Heaven: ”I definitely believe in Heaven” Miracles: ”I definitely believe in religious miracles” International Social Survey Program (ISSP) 1991 http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_comp.htm
TaK - Religion Which best describes the Bible? 48% 35% 17% Actual word of God, to be taken literally Inspired by the word of God Ancient fables, history, legends recorded by man Averages of May 2005, May 2006, May 2007 Gallup Poll http://www.gallup.com/poll/27682/onethird-americans-believe-bible-literally-true.aspx
TaK - Religion Faith: a definition “Faith is the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith Faith, by definition, demands belief without a need for supporting evidence.
TaK - Religion Allegory of Faith L.S. Carmona (18th Century) The veil symbolizes a willingness to believe without seeing evidence
TaK - Religion George Went Hensley and the Dolley Pond Church of God ….and the things religious faith enable you to do Snakehandlers in a church in the southern United States
TaK - Religion • Is faith irrational? • There is no way we can prove any of the following beliefs, and yet we remain committed to their truth: • Life is not a dream • Other people have minds • The laws of physics will not break down tomorrow • The past really happened • I can pass the IB!
TaK - Religion “I respect faith, but doubt is what gives you an education.” Wilson Mizner (1876 – 1933)
TaK - Religion • But remember… • Just because a lot of people • believe something to be true, • it doesn’t make it true • Can we use the Truth tests • when thinking about religion… • Correspondence? • Coherence? • Pragmatism? • Consensus?
TaK - Religion “Acceptance without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western religion; Rejection without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western science.” Gary Zukav
TaK - Religion Three men whose work had a profound impact on religion Karl Marx Charles Darwin Sigmund Freud
TaK - Religion “Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
TaK - Religion “If we can learn to hold even our deepest beliefs with a degree of humility, we will be less likely to kill one another in the name of things we do not fully understand” Richard van de Lagemaat (ToK for the IB Diploma p.428)
TaK - Religion • The basic command of religion is not, • “Do this!” or “Don’t do that!” • It is, simply, “Look!”
TaK - Religion Discussion questions…
TaK - Religion • How do we assess the claims of religion? • Should religious belief be exposed to rational criticism?
TaK - Religion • Do you know why you believe what you do? • Is it a set of beliefs you have come to yourself? • To what extent do you think your religious beliefs have been affected by the society you grew up in? • Do you think that reason should play a part in determining religious beliefs?
TaK - Religion • Suggest ways in which a person’s religious beliefs may affect their understanding of: • Science • History • Art • Ethics
TaK - Religion • Key points: • Religions are concerned with questions of meaning and purpose which trouble all human beings • Faith plays an important role in religion, but people have different views about what faith is and whether or not it is rational • The fact that there are many different religions in the world raises the question of whether they all contradict one another or whether they all point towards the same underlying truth • All religions are founded on a bedrock of personal experiences, but opinions differ about how such experiences should be interpreted • Since we will never have the answers to the deepest mysteries, it may be wise to hold our religious beliefs with a degree of humility
TaK - Religion Reason What arguments are there for the existence of God? Emotion What role does emotion play in religious belief? Perception How should religious experiences be interpreted? Ethics Are values based on religion? Natural Sciences Do science and religion contradict one another? Religion Arts How similar is human creativity to divine creativity? Human Sciences What can psychology tell us about religious belief? History Does history reveal some kind of plan or purpose?
TaK - Religion Is there value in mythology? If ‘Yes’ – what?