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Nature of Religion and Beliefs

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a) Define the characteristics of religion, using examples to support your response

Religion plays a major role in the lives of billions of people around the world. Beliefs in a god or many gods give many people a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Common threads to all faiths all over the world that characterise religion include beliefs and believers, sacred texts and writing, ethics and rituals and ceremonies.

* Beliefs and believers -Beliefs are the key doctrines or values which support the religious practice of a particular religion for the believers.

In Hinduism, the religion centres around the three main ideas of 'Absolute', 'Samsara' and 'Moksa'. 'Absolute' refers to the belief in an overall absolute reality known as 'Braham' who is a spiritual creation whom is infinite. This spirit bonds large and small gods to their believer's souls. 'Samsara' refers to the continuous cycle of birth and reincarnation, which then relates itself back to good karma. 'Moksa' can be defined as the concept of the moral standards of the religion.

-A believer is one who has faith in a religion they accept the worldview of that religion and make sense of life in terms of the ideas and values of that religion. A believer who follows a religion gives themselves an identity.

Examples include:

Religion One who believes in this religion is identified as

Islam Muslim

Buddhism Buddhist

Hinduism Hindu

Christianity Christians

Judaism Jewish people/Jews

* Sacred texts and writings - The most important beliefs of a religion are contained in its sacred texts. These beliefs were passed around verbally before they were written down as sacred texts and writings. These sacred texts contain sacred stories, which explain how people are connected to their religion.

One of the most well known sacred texts and writings would have to be the Bible. In Christianity, The Bible is bound as a single volume that contains many books. The writers of these books were believed to be inspired by God. The Bible consists of the four Gospels, which tell the story of Jesus, the Acts and Epistles of the Apostles. These describe the formation of the early Church and the visionary book of Revelation.

* Ethics - Ethics is the reasoning behind moral decision making. The ethics and teachings of a religion are the laws which represent the key values of a religion. Ethics offer a system of standards which regulate moral decision making.

In Judaism the ethics come from a legal system or 'Halachah'. 'Halachah' means a going (with God) and it prescribes how a Jew should behave. The Jewish scriptures



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