World religion homework | History homework help

1.  The problem of evil is an issue for most world religions because most world religions posit the existence of a benevolent creator or creators.  If the beings responsible for creation are good or mostly good, how is it that evil comes into the world?  That’s the problem of evil in a nutshell.  Discuss how three different world religions address the problem of evil.  At least one of the religions you discuss must be an Eastern religion (that is, Hinduism, Buddhism or one of the major sects of Chinese or Japanese religion).  Of the three religions you discuss, which religion’s answer to this problem seems most compelling or persuasive to you and why?


2.  All world religions have to grapple with the problem of evolving over time.  The initial views of the founder or the early practitioners of the religion don’t always address the details of believers’ lives that are often quite different from the world of the founders.  Compare and contrast how one Abrahamic religion (Judaism, Christianity or Islam) and one Eastern religion (Hinduism, Buddhism or one of the major sects of Chinese or Japanese religions) deals with this set of issues.  It might make sense to recognize (and discuss) the fact that most world religions have splintered into various sects that share the main beliefs of the founders but have perhaps changed daily practices.  Which of the two religions that you discuss do you think has done a superior job so far of adapting the original beliefs to fit the new world in which it finds itself?  Again, be wary of generalizing about a religion when different sects within a religion may take sharply differing approaches to change over time.


3.  Of the world religions we have studied this semester the Abrahamic religions are most likely the most familiar to most of you.  In part this is because these particular religions have bequeathed a rich legacy of thought to the West.  Nevertheless, despite this familiarity, you have no doubt experienced a number of surprises in your reading and in lecture.  Some of your assumptions about what these religions stand for or concern themselves with have no doubt been undermined.  What has been the biggest surprise for your own understanding of each of the three religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam)?  In which of the three cases have your previous ideas been most unsettled by our reading and discussions?  To what extent would you argue that knowledge of these three religions in particular is important for understanding the world today?


4.  Franken-religion.  All of the religious traditions we have looked at work hard to help humans make sense of themselves, the world and their relation to higher powers.  It is likely that during your reading this semester, different elements (the ideas or practices) of various religions have had an appeal for you.  Imagine you were tasked with creating your own religion.  Choose the three elements (ideas or practices) from three separate religious traditions that we have studied which you find most admirable or compelling.  Explain why these elements are admirable or compelling to you and they seem the most important for founding a religion that helps make sense of yourself, the world and your relation to higher powers.  In each case, you will want to explain and situate the idea or ritual you admire within its original tradition.  (In other words, show that you understand the context of this idea or practice.)  At least one of the elements you discuss must come from a non-Abrahamic (that is, Eastern) religion.


5.  The role of mysticism is relevant to all of the world religions we have looked at this semester.  Compare and contrast the role of mysticism within the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).  In which religion does an element of mysticism seem to play the most important role?  Which religion seems most to have rejected mysticism as a valid way of approaching God?  Please be aware within your answer that each of these major religions has splintered into large groupings within the religion and that the answers to these questions may differ within the different groups within the religion.

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