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[NATURE OF RELIGION AND

BELIEFS]
The Nature of Religion
Define the supernatural dimension

The dimension relying upon a divine revelation or revealed faith, exceeding the
laws and capacity of nature, and cannot be explained in normal terms of the
physical world
The spiritual dimension can be described as metaphysical or miraculous

Discuss a transcendent religious worldview which has a belief in a divine power and/or powers
beyond the human

Transcendent means to have continuous existence outside the physical world


A transcendent religious worldview is one that refers to the Divine as being above or
superior to the world, the highest Being and the ultimate cause in the universe
Transcendent religions include Judaism, Christianity and Islam as the central God
exists beyond the human world, yet guides humanity through existence

Discuss an immanent religious worldview which has a belief in a divine being or powers dwelling
within the individual

A worldview where a divine being or powers dwell within the individual, and there is
a divine principle that guides people
It recognises a divine being or powers as a constant reality an active and continuing
presence among believers and this world.
Immanent religions include Buddhism and Hinduism

Define the characteristics of religion


1. Beliefs and believers
Sustains all religions
The central belief of a religion is the most important part, as it defines the
worldview of the believers
Central to all religious traditions there is a belief in a greater reality. This can
involve a transcendent or immanent god or gods
A believer is somebody that adheres to a religions central teaching
2. Sacred texts and writings
At their centre, all religions have oral and/or written sacred texts, writings, or
other types of stories
Several sacred writings are presented as a revelation from God
Texts contain rules and directions on how to live as well as prayers and rituals
central to the tradition
3. Ethics
Ethics govern what an adherent of a religion must do, and what obligations are
upon them, to their god(s) or fellow humans and the environment
Practical application of belief (the way the believers conduct themselves in
relation to the teachings of their religion)

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BELIEFS]
4. Rituals and ceremonies
Celebrate and reinforce the central belief system and structures for that religion, led
by religious leaders
All religions have ceremonies that mark points in the year or peoples lives, like
marriage, coming of age and funerals
Christianity

Judaism

Islam

Hinduism

Buddhism

Beliefs
and
believ
ers

Jesus Christ
died and
rose from the
dead in order
to save
humankind
from sin and
death

God has
entered
history and
formed a
covenant
relationship
with his
people

Submission to
Allahessential
for being a
human and for
understanding
his or her place
in the universe
Mohammed is
his prophet

Ultimate
union with
Brahman
(God) is the
only real
purpose for
humans
Belief in a
Supreme
Being
Adherence to
truth
Good conduct
and karma

Sacred
texts
and
writin
gs

The Bible
(both the old
and new
Testament)

Torah

The Quran

Ethics

Founded on
the belief
that human
beings are
created in
the image
and likeness

Focus is on
laws and
commandme
nts
'Ethical
monotheism'
- a religion

The Quran sets


out Muslim
ethics, and is
about peace
and giving to
those less
fortunate and

The
Mahabharata
(story of the
encounter
between
Arjuna and
Krishna)
The Teachings
of Manu
(guidelines)
The Vedas
(revelations
received by
ancient saints
and sages)
Obliged to
attend to nine
duties as
outlined in the
Teachings of
Manu:
suppression of

Four Teachings
of Buddha
Three Refuges
the Lord
Buddha, the
Dharma and
the Sangha
Cycle of birth
and rebirth
(reincarnation),
which must be
escaped to
reach
enlightenment/
Nirvana
The Tripitaka
(includes the
Five Precepts)
The Pali Canon
The Mahayana
Sutras

Include the Five


Precepts and
the Vinaya
Strive to follow
the Eight-Fold
Path, a way to
gain escape

[NATURE OF RELIGION AND


BELIEFS]

Rituals
and
cermo
nies

of God, the
source of
human
dignity
The
Beatitudes
and the Ten
Commandme
nts
Based on
central
tenant of
love
Baptism
Confirmation
Reconciliatio
n
Communion
Matrimony
Holy Orders
Anointing of
the Sick

whose faith
is in one God
who requires
human
beings to
respect one
another

obeying Allah
Can be
summarized in
the virtues
Muslims are
expected to
display - love of
Allah, humility,
modesty,
naturalness,
selflessness
and Jihad

wrath,
truthfulness of
speech,
justice,
forgiveness,
simplicity etc.

from suffering
as outlined by
Buddha

Circumcision
of all baby
boys at the
age of eight
days
Baby naming
ceremonies
for baby girls
Marriage

Circumcision
for new-born
boys
Daily prayers
Observing
Ramadan
Marriage
Declaration of
faith (Shahada)

Diwali
Purification
Meditation/ch
anting
Sacrifices/offe
rings (of
vegetables,
grain, etc.)

Meditation/cha
nting
Sacrifices/offeri
ngs
Pilgrimage
Aged 8-20,
boys become
novice monks
living in a
monastery

Explore the ways in which these characteristics interact to create a dynamic, living religion

A dynamic religion is one characterised by energy, ambition, new ideas and practical
achievements. It refreshes itself constantly, and therefore avoids settling into a
predictable or conservative rut.
A living religion is one that is full of life; it is practical, real and immersed in everyday
human existence
Any religion is likely to stagnate if it does not constantly revitalise its beliefs and believers,
sacred texts and writings, ethics, rituals and ceremonies
When these characteristics of religion interact creatively, they help to nurture a religion
that is alive, dynamic and active in the lives of its adherents, and in the society and
culture in which is exists.
A religion that is lived

Appreciate the contribution of religion to:


individuals
society and culture
Individuals
o Answers lifes profound questions explains the creation of the universe, human
nature and lifes purpose
o An identity, sense of belonging, helps the person understand what it is to be human

[NATURE OF RELIGION AND


BELIEFS]
o
o

Behaviour how to treat themselves, others and the environment


Present role models, guidance and direction for individuals to develop their
understanding of their faith and how to become better people

Society and culture


o Contributed greatly to the survival and development of human kind
Humans have survived and developed because of their capacity to make sense of
the world around them and to use various materials to improve their life
Religion has been one such system by which humans have made sense of their
place within the universe and what it is they need to do in order to survive both
here and after death
o Religion helps maintain order and well-being for most members of society
Through principal teachings that acknowledge the ultimate responsibility of
individuals towards a divine being and their obligations and duties towards their
neighbour, religion has instructed generations on the means of preserving
peace and harmony
Have at times created hostilities and wars, but the underlying motivation of
authentic religions is to recognise the fundamental goodness of a common
humanity and a common destiny

Australian Aboriginal Beliefs and Spiritualties The Dreaming


Outline the nature of the Dreaming in relation to:
origins of the universe
sacred sites
stories of the Dreaming
symbolism and art
Origins of the universe
The Dreaming explains the origins of the universe (the creation of the physical world,
animals and plants which inhabit the world) having been the actions of ancestral beings
To Aboriginal people the Dreaming is not a myth but metaphormaphal, which means it
incorporates the past, present and future reality as a complete and present
reality
No sense of creation or the first creator
Sacred sites
An individual is inextricably connected to the land gives life, food and shelter and
where their ancestors dwell
Sacred sites that carry significance because they are associated with various
dreaming event
Each Aboriginal tribe has the responsibility to care and learn from these sites. e.g.
carrying out prescribed rituals like balance rites
Stories of the Dreaming

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BELIEFS]
Stories, songs, art and ceremonies recall the journeys of the ancestral beings (such as
shaping the land, laying down the law and responsibilities) and their interactions with
people and their bestowal (gifts) of land
When Aboriginal communities take part in kinship, song, dance, art, rituals and stories, it
reflects how the Dreaming is a lifelong process
Ancestor spirits created the animals, plants, rocks and other forms of land
Once ancestor spirits created the world, they changed into trees, the stars, rocks, watering
holes or other objects, making these sites sacred with special properties
Since ancestors never disappeared this makes the Dreaming a never ending story, linking
the past, present and future
Our story is in the land ... it is written in those sacred places ... My children will look after
those places, That's the law. Bill Neidjie, Kakadu elder.
Example: Mirriam the Kangaroo and Wareen the Wombat
o
Mirriam and Wareen had a major fight because Wareen would not let Mirriam in his
camp when it was raining
o
Mirriam was so angry that he threw a stone at Wareen's face > why the wombat has
a flat nose
o
Wareen struck Mirriam with a spear near his tailbone > why kangaroos have tails
o
Wombats live in boroughs because of this and kangaroos sleep outside with no
shelter
Symbolism and art
Explains the creation of the natural world, and the laws which stem from this
Used as a means of teaching Aboriginal children about ethics and behaviour in
society
Art has many layers of meaning and is linked by their strong designs and religious
significance
Most artworks contain a heavy amount of mythological symbolism (they represent stories
of supernatural beings and events):
o 1st layer obvious and open to everyone
o The lower layer some degree of experience or relationship with Aboriginal people or
culture
o The deepest layer only available to the Elders. They are sacred and therefore
protected and secret. Only initiated Elders can fully understand and appreciate the full
story and understand the meaning and significance of it
Aboriginal art is religious, but at the same time represents secret / sacred
significance through its totems, carved trees and incised stones
Represents the close connection between the ancestral beings and the values and
customs of Aboriginal people
Discuss the diversity of the Dreaming for Aboriginal peoples

There are about 900 Aboriginal nations within Australia and, so, Dreaming stories
differ greatly
Each of these nations had its own dialect by which they communicated. As a result, there
are differences in the Dreaming accounts

[NATURE OF RELIGION AND


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Some groups that are close to each other geographically share many common
elements of their Dreaming stories

Recognise the importance of the Dreaming for the life of Aboriginal peoples

Envelopes the most essential aspects of their society such as creation, history,
ancestry, folklore, laws, rituals, ceremonies, culture and philosophy
Closest translation of the Aboriginal concept of how the world works
The past, the present and the future
Makes the identity of an Aboriginal person
Dreaming stories contain a lot of meaning; the truth from a story is what sets the law
for the present
Dreaming stories give meaning to human life
All their rules, laws, way of life and humanitarian way of been is shaped by the
stories and experiences that The Dreaming

Investigate the inextricable connection of the Dreaming, the land and identity

The land is the core of all spirituality the land is not dead, it is alive with power and
the Ancestral Beings who live in it. The land is the Ancestors and as long as the land lives,
so do the Ancestors. The land is not just soil or rocks or minerals, but a whole
environment, and is sustained by people and culture
It is impossible to discuss the beliefs and spiritualties of Indigenous Australians without
talking about the land
It is the land that gives them their identity the Land is my mother
The journeys of the Ancestral Beings (the Dreaming) shaped the landscape and gave birth
to its people journeys that are re-enacted in the rituals and ceremonies of the people and
expressed in their art