* Angel Hill Estate *
Religion is a cultural system : that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.
The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviors, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural), and/or scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture.
The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place an emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religious community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their laws and cosmology to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group. In many places religion has been associated with public institutions such as education, hospitals, the family, government, and political hierarchies.
Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to Christianity, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures.
Religion is based on legend and oral tradition about mythological gods and goddesses who created, and watch over humanity, and will one day return. For those who research and study Ancient Alien Theory, these gods were aliens who came to Earth in various guises, stayed for a while, perhaps created the human race as part of a biogenetic experiment, leaving behind megalithic monuments and other signs of their presence on the planet and their interaction with a race called humans. Evidence to their existence is found through the planet,
and in most cases remains an mystery.
Religion is a system of social coherence commonly understood as a group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object, person, unseen or imaginary being, or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or highest truth, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, and rituals associated with such belief or system of thought. It is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but is more socially defined
than that of personal convictions.
The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. "Organized religion" generally refers to an organization of people supporting the exercise of some religion with a prescribed set of beliefs, often taking the form of a legal entity. Other religions believe in personal revelation and responsibility.
There are many definitions of religion, and most have struggled to avoid an overly sharp definition on the one hand, and meaningless generalities on the other. Some have tried to use formalistic, doctrinal definitions and others have tried to use experiential, emotive, intuitive, valuational and ethical factors.Sociologists and anthropologists see religion as an abstract set of ideas, values, or experiences developed as part of a cultural matrix. Primitive religion was indistinguishable from the sociocultural acts where custom and ritual
defined an emotional reality.
Other religious scholars have put forward a definition of religion that avoids the reductionism of the various sociological and psychological disciplines that relegate religion to its component factors. Religion may be defined as the presence of a belief in the sacred or the holy. For example Rudolf Otto's "The Idea of the Holy," formulated in 1917, defines the essence of religious awareness as awe, a unique blend of fear and fascination before the divine. Friedrich Schleiermacher in the late 18th century defined religion as a "feeling of absolute dependence."
Development of Religion
There are a number of models regarding the ways in which religions come into being and develop. Broadly speaking,These models fall into three categories :
Models which see religions as social constructions
Models which see religions as progressing toward higher, objective truth
Models which see a particular religion as absolutely true
The models are not mutually exclusive. Multiple models may be seen to apply simultaneously,
or different models may be seen as applying to different religions.
This group of models holds that religion is a social construction, rather than referring to actual supernatural phenomena; that is, phenomena beyond the natural world that we measure using the scientific method. Some of these models view religion as nonetheless having or having had a mostly positive effect on society, the individual, and civilization itself, and others view it as having or having had a mostly injurious or destructive effect. Many of these views have their origins in the field of the sociology of religion.
Models that view religion as a social construction include the "Dogma Selection Model," which holds that religions, although untrue in themselves, encode instructions or habits useful for survival, and that these ideas "mutate" periodically as they are passed on, and spread or die out in accord with their effectiveness at improving chances for survival. Another model is the "religion is the opium of the masses" model, which states, according to Bertrand Russell, that "[r]eligion in any shape or form is regarded as a pernicious and deliberate falsehood, spread and encouraged by rulers and clerics in their own interests, since it is easier to exercise control over the ignorant". Furthermore, the "Theory of Religion Model" states that religion arose from some psychological or moral pathology in religious leaders and believers.
Another theory states that spirit-based religions found in many indigenous tribes may originate in dreams. A dead person seen in a dream is, in some sense, not really dead, and so may be able to do good or harm. Some anthropologists see in this the origin of a belief in ghosts and
in those religions in which ancestors are worshiped.
In contrast to the above models, the following models see religion as "progressively true." Within these models, religions reflect an essential Truth to one degree or another. The development of religion is therefore the course of religions aligning themselves more closely with the Truth.
Models which view religion as progressively true include the Bahá'í model of prophetic revelation, which holds that God has sent a series of prophets to Earth, each of which brought teachings appropriate for his culture and context, but all originating from the same God, and therefore teaching the same essential message. While religious truth is seen as being relative due to its varied cultural and developmental expression, this model accepts that the underlying essential truth being expressed is absolutely true, if incompletely and progressively presented.
The A Study of History Model holds that prophets are given to extraordinary spiritual insight during periods of social decay and act as "surveyors of the course of secular civilization who report breaks in the road and breakdowns in the traffic, and plot a new spiritual course which will avoid those pitfalls." Another model, the Great Awakening Model, states that religion proceeds along a Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis, synthesis, in cycles of approximately 80 years as a result of the interaction between four archetypal generations, by which old religious beliefs (the thesis) face new challenges for which they are unprepared (the antithesis) and adapt to create new and more sophisticated beliefs (the synthesis).
In the following models, religions are seen as absolutely and un-changingly True. They contrast with both the first group of models ( which held religion to be false ),
and the second group ( which held religion to develop over time ).
Models which view a particular religion as absolutely true include the Orthodox Jewish and Christian Model which holds that God relates to humanity through covenants; that he established a covenant with all humanity at the time of Noah called the Noahide Laws, and that he established a covenant with Israel through the Ten Commandments, and also Jesus Christ did establish a covenant with the world through the New Testament. Exclusivist Models hold that one particular set of religious doctrines is the "One True Religion," and all others are false, so that the development of the True Religion is tied inexorably to one prophet or holy book.
In this model, all other religions are seen as either distortions of the original truth or original fabrications resulting from either human ignorance or imagination, or a more devious influence, such as false prophets or the influence of another rival supernatural entity (such as Satan). The model of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is nuanced differently than either the progressively true model or the absolutely true model, in that its leaders have taught that fore ordination included plans by God that prophets as well as other good men and women (for example, Mohammed, Confucius, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, the Founding Fathers of the United States and Gandhi) would be inspired by God during the course of human history who would bring much light, truth and knowledge though not necessarily a fullness
of truth to their particular societies.
Religious Belief : refers to a faith or creed concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine. It may concern the existence, nature and worship of a deity or deities and divine involvement in the universe and human life. It may also relate to the values and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader. Unlike other belief systems, religious belief tends to be codified. While often used synomously with religion, in this article religious belief will be assumed
to refer to ideas rather than practices.
Relationship Between Religion and Science : takes many forms as the two subjects are both extremely broad. Categorically, the difference between the two subjects is entirely methodological. The scientific method relies on an objective approach to measure, calculate, and describe the natural/physical/material universe. Religious methods are typically more subjective (or intersubjective in community), relying on varying notions of authority, through revelation, intuition, belief in the supernatural, individual experience, or a combination of these to understand the universe. Science attempts to answer the "how" and "what" questions of observable and verifiable phenomena; religion attempts to answer the "why" questions of value and morals. However, some science also attempts to explain such "why" questions, and some religious authority also extends to "how" and "what" questions regarding the natural world, creating the potential for conflict.
Present Day Adherents : Mysticism : in contrast with philosophy and metaphysics, denies that logic is the most important method of gaining enlightenment. Rather, physical disciplines such as yoga, starvation, self-strangulation, whirling (in the case of the Sufi dervishes), or the use of Psychoactive drugs such as LSD, lead to higher states of consciousness that logic can never hope to grasp. Mysticism ("to conceal") is the pursuit of communion with, or conscious awareness of ultimate reality, the divine, spiritual truth, or God through direct, personal experience (intuition or insight) rather than rational thought. Mystics speak of the existence of realities behind external perception or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible through personal experience. They say that such experience is a genuine and important source of knowledge. Esotericism claims to be more sophisticated than religion, to rely on intellectual understanding rather than faith, and to improve on philosophy in its emphasis on techniques of psycho-spiritual transformation (esoteric cosmology). Esotericism refers to "hidden" knowledge available only to the advanced, privileged, or initiated, as opposed to exoteric knowledge, which is public. It applies especially to spiritual practices. The mystery religions of ancient Greece are examples of Esotericism.
Spirituality : is, in a narrow sense, a concern with matters of the spirit. The spiritual, concerning as it does eternal verities regarding Man's ultimate nature, is often contrasted with the temporal or the worldly. The central defining characteristic of spirituality is a sense of connection to a much greater whole which includes an emotional experience of religious awe and reverence. Equally so, spirituality is concerned with sanity and psychological health. As with some forms of religion, the emphasis of spirituality is often on personal experience. It may be an expression for life perceived as higher, more complex or more integrated with one's worldview, as contrasted with the merely sensual. In Eastern traditions, spirituality adhyatma
is also defined as that which pertains to the soul (atma).
Philosophy of Religion : Philosophy of religion is the rational study of the meaning and justification of fundamental religious claims, particularly about the nature
and existence of God, or gods, or the divine.
It has classically been regarded as a part of metaphysics.
The etymology of the word "religion" has been debated for centuries. The English word clearly derives from the Latin religio, "reverence (for the gods)" or "consciousness".
The origins of religio, however, are obscure.
* * Bragavad Gita * *
Krishna : is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is an Avatar of Vishnu and considered in some monotheistic traditions as the Supreme Being. Krishna is identified as a historical individual who participated in the events of the Mahabharata. Based on scriptural details and astrological calculations the date of Krishna's birth, known as Jashtamianm, is 18 July 3228 BCE and departed on 3102 BCE.
Krishna belonged to the Vrishni clan of Yadavas from Mathura, and was the eighth son born to the princess Devaki. Worship of a deity of Krishna, in the form of Vasudeva, Bala Krisnah or Gopala, can be traced to as early as 4th century BC. Worship of Krishna as svayam bhagavan, or the Supreme Being, known as Krishnaism, arose in the Middle Ages in the context of the bhakti movement. From the 10th century AD, Krishna became a favorite subject in performing arts and regional traditions of devotion developed for forms of Krishna such as Jagannatha in Orissa, Vithoba in Maharashtra and Shrinathji in Rajasthan. The Gaudiya Vaishnavism sect of Krishnaism was established in the 16th century, and since the 1960s has also spread in the West,
largely due to the : International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Noah was the son of Lamech who named him Noah, saying, "This same shall comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, which cometh from the ground which the LORD hath cursed." In his five hundredth year Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. In his six hundredth year God, saddened at the wickedness of mankind, sent a great deluge to destroy all life, but instructed Noah, a man "righteous in his generation," to build an ark
and save a remnant of life from the Flood.
After the Flood, Noah divided the world amongst his three sons, begotten of his wife Titea, to Shem he gave Asia, within the Euphrates to the Indian Ocean; to Ham he gave Syria, Arabia, and Africa; and to Japhet, the rest of Asia beyond the Euphrates, together with Europe to Gadea (or Cadiz). Japhet was the eldest son of Noah. He had fifteen sons, amongst whom he divided Europe and the part of Asia which his father had allotted to him.
"Noah was the first tiller of the soil", he is depicted as a husbandman who "planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine." Noah's son Ham saw his father naked in his father's tent, and told his brothers, and so Noah cursed Ham's son Canaan, giving his land to Shem. Noah died 350 years after the Flood, at the age of 950, the last of the immensely long-lived antediluvian Patriarchs. The maximum human lifespan, as depicted by the Bible, diminishes rapidly thereafter,
from as much as 900 years to the 120 years of Moses.
The Ussher chronology, a calculation of the dates of creation and other Biblical events published in 1650 by the IrishArchbishopJames Ussher, places the Great Flood at 2348 BC. Using the Masoretic Text of the Bible shows the date to be 1656 years after creation. Ussher calculated that the creation occurred in 4004 BC; using the King James Bible, this creation date gives the date of the Flood as 2348 BC. Although the Ussher chronology remains highly influential, other theologians have given different dates for the Creation; for example, Joseph Scaliger claimed
it to have occurred in 3950 BC, while Petavius calculated the date as 3982 BC.
Abraham was born around 1900 BC and lived 175 years. Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. According to both the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Abraham is the forefather of many tribes, including the Ishmaelites, Israelites, Midianites and Edomites. Abraham was a descendant of Noah's son, Shem. Christians and Muslims believe that
Jesus is a descendant of Abraham, while Muslims believe that
Muhammad was a descendant, through Ishmael.
* * Dead Sea Scrolls * *
* * Bible * *
* * Quran * *
The Urantia Book : The Urantia Papers or The Fifth Epochal Revelation, is a spiritual and philosophical book that discusses God, Jesus, science, cosmology, religion, history, and destiny. It originated in Chicago, Illinois, sometime between 1924 and 1955. Its authorship remains a matter of speculation. The authors introduce the word "Urantia" as the name of the planet Earth and state that their intent is to "present enlarged concepts and advanced truth" in an "endeavor to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception." Among other topics, the book expounds on the origin and meaning of life, humankind's place in the universe,
the relationship between God and people, and the life of Jesus.
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