First, explain what a myth is and provide examples from both traditional and indigenous religions. Next, give two examples of scientific materialist explanations of religion. Finally, compare and contrast myths with scientific explanations: (a) What is the function of myth in religion? (b) To what extent are scientific explanations useful in understanding religion? (c) Do myths provide useful or reliable answers to any of the important questions asked by both religion and science?
How is the study of religion different from the study of subjects such as mathematics or other sciences? How best can we approach our study when religions make claims with which we may or may not agree?
In trying to understand the negative side of organized religion, some people have argued that religious violence is carried out when people misuse or misinterpret their religion. Others, however, argue that the widespread nature of religious violence suggests that religion itself may be the problem. Which view do you find more convincing? Why? How does the treatment of indigenous peoples by more dominant religions and cultures illustrate the negative side of religions?
What is an indigenous religion and what differentiates it from a global religion? What are some major obstacles to understanding these religions? How should global religions relate to indigenous sacred ways?
Compare and contrast the Jain and the Hindu understandings of karma.
Why is Hinduism such a difficult term to define? Use examples from the text to illustrate the diversity of Hinduism. In your response, explain why there are so many different kinds of religious responses within Hinduism and discuss some of the difficulties in reconstructing an historical chronology of the development of Hinduism.
First, (a) relate the story of the blind people who are asked to describe an elephant, and explain how the story may be used to illustrate Jain ideals; next, (b) describe some of the typical practices of Jain laypeople, and explain how these principles affect decisions about one’s occupation and other activities.