Religion Explained

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The Thinking Strings Explained™ series of eBooks offers high-quality, low-cost alternatives to traditional textbook content. Written by respected scholars in their disciplines, Explained™ eBooks are designed to be read on-screen. Their responsive format means they are comfortably read on a computer, a tablet, or smartphone. To facilitate learning, the main point of each paragraph of text precedes it in bold.

Religion Explained™ includes twelve chapters exploring the major topics covered in introductory religion courses (myth, ritual, theology, theodicy, religion, and politics) by drawing on examples from a variety of religious traditions and topics of current interest. Religion Explained™ addresses key issues in the philosophy of religion such as proofs of the existence of God or the soul; views of the afterlife; theodicies and the problem of evil; science and religion; the emerging dialogue between religious studies, cognitive science, and evolutionary theory; and the new atheism.

Religion Explained™ assumes no prior experience with or instruction in religion on the part of students, yet helps those who have had a strong religious education to approach the study of religion in a non-threatening way. Examples are drawn from a great variety of religious traditions, and topics of current interest including religion and violence, religion and gender, religion and environmentalism, neuroscientific accounts of religion, and atheism are all covered.

Religion Explained™ introduces concepts in a sequential fashion—defining religion, describing ways to study religion, exploring theology, psychology of religion, sociology of religion, phenomenology of religion, and anthropology of religion—but the chapters can be assigned in whatever order the instructor prefers, as one chapter does not depend upon another.

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Note: Adoption of Revealing® Religion Interactive Explorations® courseware includes use of Religion Explained™.

Author: Cynthia Eller, Ph.D. (Claremont Graduate University)

About the author:

Cynthia Eller is Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University and Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. She has written numerous books in the fields of women and religion, ethics, and women’s studies, including Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995) and The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).

Dr. Eller regularly teaches introductory courses in religion and world religions. Like all religion faculty, she hopes to draw her students into an appreciation of the world’s religions and instill a desire in her students to explore further through upper-division classes.

Highlights

Religion Explained™ Highlights

  • Students explore the principles and practice of religion in a clearly organized framework.
  • Designed for adoption in college and university Religion courses.
  • Affordable student cost.
  • Instructors who adopt Revealing® Religion for class use receive Religion Explained™ for class use at no charge to their students.

Contents

Copyright © 2015-2016 Thinking Strings, LLC

Table of Contents

What Is Religion?

You Tell Me

  • Goals: You Tell Me
  • Define Religion
  • Your Starting Point
  • Now What?
  • Is This Religion in Practice?
  • Summary: You Tell Me

Marking Boundaries

  • Goals: Marking Boundaries
  • Difficulties of Definition
  • Many Definitions, One Definition
  • Religion: Belief in God
  • Between Buddhism & Communism
  • God Cannot Be the Criterion
  • Making God the Criterion
  • Relying on Self Definition
  • Western Bias
  • Creating the Category of Religion
  • Monothetic & Polythetic Definitions
  • Family Resemblances
  • Summary: Marking Boundaries

Making Comparisons

  • Goals: Making Comparisons
  • A Generic Category
  • Motivated Comparisons
  • Dangers of Comparisons
  • Why We Compare Anyway
  • Ubiquity of Religion
  • Homo Religiosus
  • Religious Skeptics
  • Religion Outside Institutions
  • Inwardness of Religion
  • Substantive & Functional Definitions
  • Defining Religion, Take Two
  • Summary: Making Comparisons

Studying Religion

How to Study Religion

  • Goals: How to Study Religion
  • One Topic, Many Disciplines
  • Three Approaches
  • History of Religions
  • Social Scientific Approaches
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Theology
  • Other Approaches to Religion
  • Summary: How to Study Religion

Insider & Outsider Perspectives

  • Goals: Insider & Outsider Perspectives
  • What You See Depends on Where You Stand
  • Insider Perspective
  • Outsider Perspective
  • Valuing Insider & Outsider Views
  • Outsiders as Translators
  • Outsiders & Objectivity
  • A Different Kind of Objectivity
  • Summary: Insider & Outsider Perspectives

Goals: Religious Education & Religious Studies

  • Goals: Religious Education & Religious Studies
  • Religious Education
  • Religious Studies
  • Bracketing Faith
  • Grammar of Faith
  • Different Goals
  • Summary: Religious Education & Religious Studies

Why Study Religion?

  • Goals: Why Study Religion?
  • Reasons for Studying Religion
  • Religion Motivates Killing & Healing
  • Religion Is Globally & Historically Pervasive
  • Religion Is Hard to Define
  • Religion Explains Other Activities
  • Religion Is Protean & Pluralistic
  • Studying Religion Is Practical
  • Religion Is a Scholarly Enterprise
  • Summary: Why Study Religion?

The Sacred

What is Sacred?

  • Goals: What Is Sacred?
  • Define the Sacred
  • Sacred & Profane
  • The Holy
  • Christocentrism
  • Indigenous Religions & the Sacred
  • Sacred in Comparative Perspective
  • Summary: What Is Sacred?

Theism & Nontheism

  • Goals: Theism & Nontheism
  • Conceptualizing the Divine
  • Varieties of Theisms
  • Nontheistic Religions
  • Monism
  • Theistic Religions
  • Atheism & Agnosticism
  • Summary: Theism & Nontheism

Types of Theisms

  • Goals: Types of Theisms
  • Monotheistic & Polytheistic Religions
  • Animism
  • Organizing the Pantheon
  • Blending Theisms
  • Immanence & Transcendence
  • Deism
  • Pantheism
  • The Divine Within
  • Ultimate Monism, Intermediate Polytheism
  • The One & the Many
  • Summary: Types of Theisms

Supernatural Beings

  • Goals: Supernatural Beings
  • What Are Supernatural Beings?
  • Ancestors, Ghosts & Immortals
  • Saints & Founders
  • Gurus, Mystics & Prophets
  • Deities
  • Angels & Spirit Animals
  • Demons & Devils
  • Tricksters & Culture Heroes
  • Fairies & Pixies
  • Spirits of Place
  • The Visible Sacred
  • Summary: Supernatural Beings

Religion without Belief

  • Goals: Religion without Belief
  • Real or Fictional?
  • “As If” Belief
  • Suspending Disbelief
  • Experience without Belief
  • Moving Toward Belief
  • Provisional Belief
  • Role of Religious Training
  • Religion as Language
  • Role of Belief
  • Summary: Religion without Belief

Religious Experience

Proofs of the Existence of God

  • Goals: Proofs of the Existence of God
  • Belief in God
  • Proving God’s Existence
  • Ontological Argument
  • Cosmological Argument
  • Teleological Argument
  • Reason & the Existence of God
  • Summary: Proofs of the Existence of God

Religious Truth

  • Goals: Religious Truth
  • Rejecting Proofs of the Existence of God
  • A Special Kind of Truth
  • Experience of the Sacred
  • Relying on Authority
  • Direct Experience & Proof
  • Relative & Local Truths
  • Pragmatic Justifications for Belief in God
  • Scientific & Religious Truth
  • Summary: Religious Truth

Understanding Religious Experience

  • Goals: Understanding Religious Experience
  • Peculiar Experiences
  • Defining Religious Experience
  • Authenticity of Religious Experiences
  • Religious Experience & Belief
  • Religious Experience & Community
  • Consulting Religious Officials
  • Religious Experience & Institutional Authority
  • Pinning Down Religious Experience
  • Summary: Understanding Religious Experience

Why Religious Experience Matters

  • Goals: Why Religious Experience Matters
  • Why Scholars Care
  • Foundational Experiences
  • Seeking Religious Experience
  • Commonalities in Religious Experience
  • Outsider & Insider Perspectives
  • One Experience, Many Words
  • Perennialism
  • Our Religious Capacity
  • Anti-Essentialism
  • Studying Religious Experience
  • Summary: Religious Experience Matters

Trance, Ecstasy & Possession

  • Goals: Trance, Ecstasy & Possession
  • Range of Religious Experiences
  • Dramatic Religious Experiences
  • Trance
  • Ecstasy
  • Inducing Religious Ecstasy
  • Spirit Possession
  • Demonic Possession
  • Summary: Trance, Ecstasy & Possession

Revelation & Prophecy

  • Goals: Revelation & Prophecy
  • Defining Revelation & Prophecy
  • Revelation
  • Prophecy
  • Summary: Revelation & Prophecy

Mysticism & Epiphany

  • Goals: Mysticism & Epiphany
  • Mystical Religious Experiences
  • Mysticism
  • Epiphany
  • Summary: Mysticism & Epiphany

Interpreting Religious Experience

  • Goals: Interpreting Religious Experience
  • Categories of Religious Experience
  • Monotheism & Monism
  • Collapsing Categories
  • Two Types
  • Many Types
  • What Are Religious Experiences?
  • Summary: Interpreting Experience

Explaining Religious Experience

  • Goals: Explaining Religious Experience
  • Where Does Religious Experience Come From?
  • Psychology of Religious Experience
  • Religious Experience & Natural Selection
  • Religion as a Spandrel
  • Religion & the Brain
  • Summary: Explaining Religious Experience

Soul, Self & Salvation

What Is the Self?

  • Goals: What Is the Self?
  • Do You Have a Soul?
  • Out-of-Body Experiences
  • Locating the Soul
  • A Religious Question
  • The Self
  • Wanting to Be Special
  • Popol Vuh
  • Androids & Cyborgs
  • Human Self: Particular & General
  • Summary: What Is the Self?

What Is the Human Situation?

  • Goals: What Is the Human Situation?
  • Disease, Old Age, Death
  • Not What I Signed Up For
  • The Human Condition
  • Problem with the Self
  • Anxiety & Alienation
  • Transcendence
  • Summary: What Is the Human Situation?

Sick Souls & the Healthy Minded

  • Goals: Sick Souls & the Healthy Minded
  • Untouched by the Human Condition
  • The Healthy Minded
  • Walt Whitman
  • Sick Souls
  • Salvation & Sanctification
  • Religion for the Healthy Minded
  • Giving Purpose
  • True Self
  • Vision Quest
  • Living on in Memory
  • Arriving at the End of Life
  • Summary: Sick Souls & Healthy Minded

Salvation & Liberation

  • Goals: Salvation & Liberation
  • Is Salvation the Central Religious Goal?
  • Saved from What?
  • Conversion
  • Salvation in Christianity
  • Buddhist Liberation
  • The Sacred & Liberation
  • The Proper Place for People
  • Secular Solutions
  • Complete versus Limited Salvation
  • Summary: Salvation & Liberation

Paths to Liberation

  • Goals: Paths to Liberation
  • Techniques for Approaching Liberation
  • Path of Action
  • Path of Faith
  • Path of Devotion
  • Path of Knowledge
  • Path of Contemplation
  • Path of Asceticism
  • Summary: Paths to Liberation

Life After Death

  • Goals: Life After Death
  • Religion & Death
  • Can the Self Continue After Death?
  • Way Stations
  • This World, Physical Body
  • This World, Spiritual Body
  • Other World, Physical Body
  • Other World, Spiritual Body
  • Reincarnation
  • Merging with the Infinite
  • Rejoining the Earth
  • Summary: Life After Death

Suffering, Good & Evil

Good People, Bad Things

  • Goals: Good People, Bad Things
  • Problem of Unearned Suffering
  • Natural & Moral Evil
  • Defining Theodicy
  • Scientific Explanations
  • Existential Explanations
  • Providing Meaning
  • The Azande
  • Nontheistic & Theistic Theodicies
  • Types of Theodicy
  • Summary: Good People, Bad Things

The Fault Lies with Humans

  • Goals: The Fault Lies with Humans
  • Garden of Eden
  • Punishment for Sin
  • Multiple Theodicies
  • Karma
  • Misapprehension of Reality
  • Vedanta Philosophy
  • Christian Science
  • Evil in the Dao
  • Summary: The Fault Lies with Humans

The Bigger Picture

  • Goals: The Bigger Picture
  • Putting Suffering in Correct Context
  • Free Will
  • Pedagogical Theodicy
  • Participation Theodicy
  • Chinese Participation Theodicies
  • Secular Participation Theodicies
  • Summary: The Bigger Picture

Eschatological Theodicies

  • Goals: Eschatological Theodicies
  • The Eschaton
  • The Messianic Ideal
  • Christian Millennialism
  • Heaven’s Gate
  • Cargo Cults
  • Judgment Day
  • Particular Judgment
  • Moksha & Nirvana
  • Afterlife & End Times
  • Summary: Eschatological Theodicies

Supernatural Evil

  • Goals: Supernatural Evil
  • Blame the Devil
  • Two Types of Supernatural Evil
  • Dualistic Theologies
  • Zoroastrian Theology
  • Manichaeism
  • Gnosticism
  • Scientology
  • Dualism & Theodicy
  • Intermediate Supernatural Evil
  • Satan
  • Summary: Supernatural Evil

Don’t Ask Why

  • Goals: Don’t Ask Why
  • Sovereignty of God
  • Book of Job
  • Why Ask Why?
  • Parable of the Poisoned Arrow
  • Summary: Don’t Ask Why

Demoting God

  • Goals: Demoting God
  • Theodicies of Protest & Process
  • The Brothers Karamazov
  • The Trial of God
  • A Partly-Powerful God
  • Process Theodicy
  • A Sad but Fortunate Accident
  • Summary: Demoting God

Religion & Ethics

  • Goals: Religion & Ethics
  • Ethics & Metaethics
  • Ethics without Religion
  • Religion & Ethics as Inseparable
  • Religion without Ethics
  • Content of Religious Ethics
  • Justifying Ethics
  • Motivating Morality
  • Handling Moral Failure
  • Summary: Religion & Ethics

Types of Religious Ethics

  • Goals: Types of Religious Ethics
  • Classifying Religious Ethics
  • Divine Command Ethics
  • Natural Law, Cosmic Law
  • Deontological Ethics
  • Teleological Ethics
  • Virtue Ethics
  • Mixing Types
  • Summary: Types of Religious Ethics

Religious Communities

Religion & Society

  • Goals: Religion & Society
  • Religion from the Outside
  • Buildings, Activities, Organizations
  • Communal Religious Activity
  • Religion Around Us
  • Civil Religion
  • The Public Inside the Private
  • The Language of Thought
  • Relationship with the Divine
  • Social Dimension of Religion
  • Summary: Religion & Society

Durkheim’s View of Religion

  • Goals: Durkheim’s View of Religion
  • Durkheim on Religion
  • Evolution of Human Religion
  • Totemism
  • Religion Equals Society
  • Durkheim’s Sacred & Profane
  • Criticisms of Durkheim
  • Berger’s Sociology of Knowledge
  • Summary: Durkheim’s View of Religion

Ethnic Religions

  • Goals: Ethnic Religions
  • Ethnic & Voluntary Religions
  • Ethnic Religions & Rites of Passage
  • Ethnic Religions & Kinship
  • The Sphere of Religion
  • Conversion in Ethnic Religions
  • Voluntarism in Ethnic Religions
  • Summary: Ethnic Religions

Voluntary Religions

  • Goals: Voluntary Religions
  • Beyond Ethnic Religion
  • Conversion in Voluntary Religions
  • Ethnicity in Voluntary Religions
  • Choice in Voluntary Religions
  • Kinship & Outreach in Voluntary Religions
  • Sects
  • Classifying Sects
  • Voluntary Associations
  • Summary: Voluntary Religions

Development of Religious Traditions

  • Goals: Development of Religious Traditions
  • Life Cycle of a Religion
  • Charismatic Authority
  • Abuses & Instability of Charismatic Authority
  • Routinization of Charisma
  • Founders & Structures
  • After the Death of the Founder
  • Paths to Preserve Charisma
  • Charisma in Ritual & Scripture
  • Mainstream Religious Change
  • Summary: Development of Religious Traditions

Religion & Government

  • Goals: Religion & Government
  • Religion & the State
  • Religion Over State
  • Divine Rulers
  • Islamic Theocracies
  • Christian Theocracies
  • Negotiating State & Religion
  • State Over Religion
  • State Religion
  • Separation of Religion & State
  • Summary: Religion & Government

Religious Institutions

  • Goals: Religious Institutions
  • Types of Religious Institutions
  • Other Religious Associations
  • Policing Boundaries
  • The Big Umbrella
  • The Tight Community
  • Schisms
  • Other Divisions
  • Hybridity & Religious Syncretism
  • Great Tradition, Little Tradition
  • Summary: Religious Institutions

Myth & Scripture

What Is Myth?

  • Goals: What Is Myth?
  • Defining Myth
  • Myth as Falsehood
  • Demeter & Persephone
  • Oral & Written
  • Many Versions, One Story
  • Ganesh
  • Identifying Myth
  • Summary: What Is Myth?

Myth & Belief

  • Goals: Myth & Belief
  • Are Myths True?
  • Metaphorical Truth
  • Factual Truth
  • Juggling Truth Claims
  • Changing Evaluations
  • Myths: Ours & Theirs
  • Myths as Foolish
  • Myth & Religious Studies
  • Summary: Myth & Belief

Interpreting Myth

  • Goals: Interpreting Myth
  • Evaluating Myth
  • Theories of Myth
  • Myth as Social Charter
  • Myth as Ritual
  • Myth as Structured Thought
  • Myth as Psychological Tool
  • Myth as Divine Encounter
  • Modern & Secular Myths
  • Myth & Politics
  • Summary: Interpreting Myth

Types of Myth

  • Goals: Types of Myth
  • Categorizing Myths
  • Cosmogonic Myths
  • Creation Ex Nihilo
  • Earth Diver Creation Myths
  • Emergence Creation Myths
  • Cosmic Egg Myths
  • Divine Sacrifice Myths
  • World Parent Myths
  • Legends, Sagas, Epics, Folk Tales
  • Noncosmogonic Myths
  • Summary: Types of Myth

What Is Scripture?

  • Goals: What Is Scripture?
  • Sacred Texts
  • From Oral to Written
  • Effect of Orality
  • Significance of Literacy
  • Scripture as an Anchor
  • Varieties of Scripture
  • Role of Scripture in Society
  • Summary: What Is Scripture?

Forming a Canon

  • Goals: Forming a Canon
  • Canon Formation
  • Pali Canon
  • Christian New Testament
  • Adi Granth
  • Open & Closed Canons
  • Changing Canons
  • Torah, Tanakh, Talmud
  • Sruti & Smrti
  • Quran & Hadith
  • Summary: Forming a Canon

Interpreting Scripture

  • Goals: Interpreting Scripture
  • Divine & Human Authorship
  • Revelation & Controversy
  • Necessity of Interpretation
  • Translation as Interpretation
  • Reading Scripture Backward & Forward
  • Rules for Interpretation
  • Hermeneutics
  • Hermeneutics & Nonwestern Scriptures
  • Summary: Interpreting Scripture

Uses of Scripture

  • Goals: Uses of Scripture
  • Transmitting Tradition
  • Beyond Reading
  • Devotion, Prayer, & Meditation
  • Hidden Meanings in Scripture
  • Divination with Scripture
  • Scriptural Religions
  • Summary: Uses of Scripture

Ritual & Religious Behaviors

Defining Ritual

  • Goals: Defining Ritual
  • What Is Ritual?
  • Rituals Are Actions
  • Repeated & Scripted
  • One-Time Ritual
  • Embodied & Performative
  • Speech Acts
  • Ritual & Community
  • Nature, Culture & Ritual
  • What Makes Ritual Religious?
  • Types of Religious Ritual
  • Summary: Defining Ritual

Purification

  • Goals: Purification
  • Purity Rituals
  • Dirt
  • Social Rules
  • Disorder
  • Order
  • Ritual Cleansing
  • Ritual Rejuvenation
  • Summary: Purification

Sacrifice

  • Goals: Sacrifice
  • Understanding Sacrifice
  • Types of Sacrifice
  • Blood Sacrifice
  • Killing Animals Humanely
  • Sacrifice as Atonement
  • The Scapegoat Mechanism
  • Human Sacrifice
  • Sacrifice as Offering
  • Summary: Sacrifice

Magic, Medicine & Divination

  • Goals: Magic, Medicine & Divination
  • What Is Magic?
  • Magic as Technology
  • Magic versus Ritual
  • Medicine
  • Divination
  • Shamanism
  • Witchcraft
  • Summary: Magic, Medicine & Divination

Seasonal & Commemorative Rituals

  • Goals: Seasonal & Commemorative Rituals
  • Marking Time
  • Harvest Festivals
  • New Year Festivals
  • Myth of the Eternal Return
  • Commemorative Rituals
  • Seasonal & Commemorative
  • Calendar of Commemorations
  • Content of Commemorative Rituals
  • Summary: Seasonal & Commemorative

Rites of Passage

  • Goals: Rites of Passage
  • Ritualizing the Life Cycle
  • Initiation
  • Liminality
  • Reintegration
  • Learning a New Identity
  • Wearing a New Identity
  • The Liminal Phase
  • Rites of Passage: Social Functions
  • Summary: Rites of Passage

Interpreting Ritual

  • Goals: Interpreting Ritual
  • Orthodoxy & Orthopraxy
  • Empty Ritual
  • Myth & Ritual, Ritual & Myth
  • Functionalism
  • Ritual: Social Functions
  • Control & Power
  • Ritual: Psychological Functions
  • Purpose of Ritual
  • Summary: Interpreting Ritual

Sacred Places & Things

Sacred Space

  • Goals: Sacred Space
  • Religion & the Senses
  • Creating Sacred Space
  • Temporary Sacred Space
  • Boundaries of Sacred Space
  • Preparing to Enter Sacred Space
  • What Makes Space Sacred?
  • Axis Mundi
  • Summary: Sacred Space

Sacred Buildings

  • Goals: Sacred Buildings
  • Types of Sacred Buildings
  • Shrines
  • Relics & Tombs
  • Stupas
  • Shrines for Worship & Pilgrimage
  • Commemorative Shrines
  • Secular Shrines
  • Temples
  • Congregational Meeting Places
  • Miniatures of Sacred Buildings
  • Summary: Sacred Buildings

Sacred Time

  • Goals: Sacred Time
  • Structuring Time
  • Day
  • Week
  • Month
  • Year
  • A Lifetime
  • Linear & Cyclical Time
  • Positive & Negative Views of Time
  • Summary: Sacred Time

Signs & Symbols

  • Goals: Signs & Symbols
  • Signs
  • Signs Are Arbitrary
  • Natural Signs
  • Symbols
  • Visual Symbols
  • Multivalence
  • Representational & Presentational Symbols
  • Natural Signs & Presentational Symbols
  • Carl Jung: Archetypal System
  • Summary: Signs & Symbols

Sacred Images

  • Goals: Sacred Images
  • Depicting the Sacred
  • Representation in Judaism
  • Representation in Islam
  • Aniconic Impulse
  • Iconic Impulse
  • Iconic Impulse: Hinduism
  • Iconic Impulse: Buddhism & Daoism
  • Iconic Impulse: Christianity
  • Nonrepresentational Imagery
  • Summary: Sacred Images

Sacred Objects

  • Goals: Sacred Objects
  • Useful Things
  • Music & Religion
  • Sacred Books
  • Sacred Foods
  • Amulets
  • Sacred Clothing
  • Universe of Sacred Objects
  • Summary: Sacred Objects

Religious Futures

Secularization

  • Goals: Secularization
  • Defining Secularization
  • Religion & Science
  • Religion & Modernity
  • Secularization: Good or Bad?
  • Failure of the Secularization Thesis
  • Religious Change, Not Religious Decline
  • Areas of Secularization
  • The Good Old Days
  • Future of Religion
  • Summary: Secularization

Fundamentalism

  • Goals: Fundamentalism
  • Looking Toward the Past
  • Fundamentalism Defined
  • Beginnings of Christian Fundamentalism
  • Inerrancy of Scripture
  • The Moral Majority
  • Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism
  • Fundamentalism Outside Christianity
  • Islamic Revivalism
  • Future of Fundamentalism
  • Summary: Fundamentalism

Globalization

  • Goals: Globalization
  • Religious Pluralism
  • Religious Tolerance
  • Religious Intolerance
  • Religion & Nationalism
  • Learning about Other Religions
  • Adapting Religious Belief & Practice
  • Summary: Globalization

Violence & Religion

  • Goals: Violence & Religion
  • Religion & Violence: Perfect Together?
  • Is Religion Inherently Violent?
  • Secular versus Religious Violence
  • Crusade, Just War, Pacifism
  • Examples of Holy War
  • Examples of Just War
  • Examples of Pacifism
  • Summary: Violence & Religion

Violence & Religion

  • Goals: Gender & Religion
  • How Gender & Religion Interact
  • Symbolic Gender
  • Gender in Practice
  • Women in Hinduism
  • Women in Buddhism
  • Women in Judaism
  • Women in Christianity
  • Women in Islam
  • Feminist Approaches to Religion
  • Gender & Religion in the Future
  • Summary: Gender & Religion

Environmentalism & Animal Rights

  • Goals: Environmentalism & Animal Rights
  • The Ecological Crisis
  • Use of Animals
  • At Home in Nature
  • Mind/Body Distinction
  • Human Beings, the Crown of Creation
  • Variation within Religions
  • Religions & the Ecological Crisis
  • Summary: Environmentalism

New Religious Movements

  • Goals: New Religious Movements
  • New & Old Religions
  • Sources for New Religions
  • Millennialism & Apocalypticism
  • Unification Movement
  • Universalist Religions
  • Baha’i
  • Neopaganism
  • Goddess Religions & Wicca
  • New Age Religions
  • Summary: New Religious Movements

Evaluating Religion

Religion Is Good

  • Goals: Religion Is Good
  • Assessing Religion
  • Friedrich Schleiermacher
  • Friedrich Max Müller
  • Rudolf Otto
  • Phenomenology
  • One World, One Religion
  • Hans Küng
  • Good by Definition
  • Summary: Religion Is Good

Religion Is Bad

  • Goals: Religion Is Bad
  • What’s Wrong with Religion?
  • Religion & the Status Quo
  • The Opiate of the People
  • Religion as Epiphenomenon
  • Max Weber & the Protestant Ethic
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Summary: Religion Is Bad

Religion Is False

  • Goals: Religion Is False
  • Types of Atheism
  • Atheism & Belief
  • David Hume
  • The New Atheists
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Daniel Dennett
  • Christopher Hitchens
  • Sam Harris
  • Summary: Religion Is False

Religion Is Functional

  • Goals: Religion Is Functional
  • Religion Is Neither Good nor Bad
  • Religion Is Both Good & Bad
  • How Does Religion Function?
  • Bronislaw Malinowski
  • Function & Dysfunction
  • What Kind of Function?
  • Cognitive Functions of Religion
  • Making Evaluations
  • Summary: Religion Is Functional