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Non-Religious World View

Agnosticism, Atheism,


is a belief about the existence or non

existence of God
An agnostic usually holds the questions of whether
God exists or not open, pending the arrival of more
Agnostics are willing to change their belief if some
evidence or solid proof is found in the future.


atheist is a person who lacks a belief that a

god(s) and/or goddess(es) exists
They have a belief that there is no God.


think that science and reason provide the best

basis for understanding the world around us.
They believe that moral values are properly founded on
human empathy and scientific understanding.
I am a Humanist. I dont believe in any higher power that the
best expressions of the human spirit, and those are to be
found in personal and social relationships. Evaluating my
life those terms, Ive had some mixed results. Ive hurt some
people and disappointed others, but I hope that on balance,
Ive given more than Ive taken.
Professor Fred Hollows


Smarts Dimensions

to the vastness of the subject of religion there is

a need to make the study of it more manageable;
there is a need for an ordered strategy.
Ninian Smart is a Professor of Religious studies at
Lancaster University.
His work has concentrated on the characteristics that
are found commonly across different religious

7 Dimensions


Smarts Dimensions
The practical and ritual dimension
The experiential and emotional dimension
The narrative or mythic dimension
Doctrinal and philosophical dimension
Ethical and legal dimension
Social and institutional dimension
Material dimension

1. Practical and Ritual

In all religions people come together for different
purposes, and when they do, the words they say
and the things they do tend to follow a certain
pattern. This formalised behaviour is a ritual, of
which, there are a number of different types:
Rites of Passage or Initiation rites Initiation rites
are most often associated with the transition from
childhood or infancy into adulthood.
Rites of worship or devotion There are both
communal and private acts of worship or devotion.

2. Experiential and emotional

All religions regard an inner experience as very
important, and such experiences are often highly
emotional. They are understood to be contacts with
gods or spirits, or insights into truth.
Immediate experience: the believer is in direct
contact with the unseen world.
Mediated experience: the believers understand that
it is through some person, object or act that they are
united with the unseen world.

3. Narrative or mythical

This is the story side of religion and refers to the

sacred stories within various religious traditions
which seek to explain the meaning of various
aspects of reality i.e. the origins of the world,

4. Doctrinal and philosophical


refers to the beliefs and values which play an

important part in all the major religions because
there comes a time when a faith has to formulate
some kind of intellectual statement of the basis of
faith i.e. the Catholic faith believes in the trinity,
three persons but one God.

5. Ethical and Legal


religion has a code of approved moral

What is regarded as morally good or morally evil is
not the same in all religions.
This dimension expresses the law that a tradition
incorporates into its belief system.

refers to various religious moral codes which seek to

regulate the lives of believers in approved ways i.e. in
Buddhism, there are the Five precepts or virtues that are
universally binding.

6. Social and Institutional

In one way or another, all religions become organised,
and they organise the world around them. It is this
organisation of religion that we call social structure.
Sacred Time: Almost every religion has a religiously
based calendar, and the religious calendars of no
two religions are alike.
Sacred Persons: Religions also mark out and set
aside ritual experts, spiritual guides and leaders.

7. Material

refers to the visible and symbolic forms usually

expressed as buildings, works of art, even special
places of pilgrimage i.e. Mecca, the River Ganges.

Major Religions of the


Major Religion Statistics

Australia & the Major

Table of the Major Religions

Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be
my people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that
it may be well with you. (Jeremiah 7:23)

Practical & Ritual

Rites of Passage

B'rit Milah Circumcision

Bar Mitzvah Naming ceremony
Kiddushin Marriage ceremony

Rites if worship or devotion

According to their tradition, Jews pray 3 times a day: morning prayer is called
shaharith, afternoon prayer is called minhah and evening prayer maarib
Sabbath Day: Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon, every week.

For some Jews during Sabbath, no secular activity is allowed, while others allow
themselves to perform normal activities beyond the core celebration.

Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh
Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year.

The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most
important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the

Experiential & Emotional


weekly day of rest (shortly before

sundown on Friday night to shortly after sundown
Saturday night).


Gods day of rest after the 6 days of


three times a day, fourth prayer added on

during Shabbat.
Three pilgrimage festivals

Beginning on the evening of the 14 th day of

Nisan (1st month Hebrew calendar).
Shavout (Pentecost): celebrates the revelation of the
Torah to the Israelites.
Sukkot: Commemorates the Israelites 40 years of
wandering through the dessert on their way to the
Promised Land.

Narrative or Mythical

Torah is the most important document in

It is otherwise known as the Law and is the first five
books of the Hebrew Scriptures.


was received by Moses on the top of Mt Sinai

Doctrinal and

Thirteen articles of Faith

God is creator
God is one
God is incorporeal
God is eternal
God alone is to be worshipped
God has spoken through the prophets
Moses was the greatest of the prophets
The whole of the Torah was revealed to Moses
The Torah is the unalterable word of God
God has knowledge of and concern for all the deeds of human
God rewards those who keep the mitzvot (commandments) and
punishes those who transgress them
The Messiah will come
The dead will be resurrected

Ethical and Legal

All Jewish behaviour is ultimately derived from the

Contained within the Torah is 613 commandments
(halachah) that comprise the legal tradition of Judaism.

Tikkum olam repair the world

It is concerned with guiding believers in right relationship with

God and right relationship with ones families and neighbours.

Jewish principle of commitment to social justice and social


Tzedakah and gemilut chasidim (deeds of loving


Tzedakah: giving away of some material possession

Gemilut chasidim: investment of ones personal time and

Social Structures

local synagogue is at the heart of Jewish

religious activity, led by a rabbi (teacher).

Orthodox and Chasidim typically use the word

"shul," which is Yiddish. The word is derived from a
German word meaning "school," and emphasizes the
synagogue's role as a place of study.
Conservative Jews usually use the word "synagogue,"
which is actually a Greek translation of Beit K'nesset
and means "place of assembly" (it's related to the
word "synod").
Reform Jews use the word "temple," because they
consider every one of their meeting places to be
equivalent to, or a replacement for, The Temple.


at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in

Jerusalem. The Western Wall is all that remains of
the Second Temple, which was destroyed in 70
B.C.E. It serves as a gathering place for Jews to
lament the Temple's loss.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, it is
where God gathered the earth from which he formed




Mezuzah: A small box of wood or metal containing 15 verses of

the Bible, the "Shema" attached to the doorpost of the house
and of each room, reminder of God's presence everywhere.
Tefillin: Two small boxes containing verses of the Bible,
adjusted to the forehead and left arm during the morning prayer,
for the mind and the heart.
Yarmulke ("Kippa"): Yiddish word for the skull-cap, as a sign
of respect to God.


Menorah: 7 branches candlestick. It has been said

that the menorah is a symbol of the nation of Israel
and their mission to be "a light unto the nations."


Star of David


Rituals & Passages


of Passage: Hindu rites of passage are called


serve to purify the soul, and mark the various stages of life.
The first rite is before conception.

birth ceremonies (plus others in childhood)

Upanayana initiation (the sacred-thread ceremony)
Vivaha marriage
Antyeshti funeral and rites for the dead


of Devotion:


the ritual that honours a god or goddess as a divine guest,

usually in a temple, but can also be a domestic ritual.

Experiences and

(the yoga of selfless action) - It is the

way that leads to the attainment of God through
selfless work
Jnana-yoga (philosophical research and wisdom)
It is the path of knowledge.
Astanga/RajaYoga (physical exercises and
meditation) - How to develop concentration and
how to commune with God
Bhakti-Yoga (the path of devotional service) - God
can be realised only by means of a love as ardent
and all-absorbing as the conjugal passion

Narrative and Mythical


are the most ancient and sacred Indian

scriptures organised in four collections (Rig, Sama,
Yajur, Atharva) and consisting of hymns of praise,
ritual/ceremonial manuals and mysticl/philosophical

Upanishads are a continuation of the Vedic

philosophy, and were written between 800 and 400 B.C.
They elaborate on how the soul (Atman) can be united
with the ultimate truth (Brahman) through contemplation
and mediation, as well as the doctrine of Karma-- the
cumulative effects of a persons' actions.

Epics: A text

usually very long depicting a total view of

creation and society and exploring the deepest concerns of

speaks of the nature of god, the nature of the devotee

and the way in which the devotee communications in a devout way
with God
Ramayana: The Ramayana is a moving love story with moral and
spiritual themes.

Gita: This is one of the most popular and

accessible of all Hindu scriptures, required reading for
anyone interested in Hinduism. The book discusses
selflessness, duty, devotion, and meditation, integrating
many different threads of Hindu philosophy.

Doctrinal and

the long history of Hinduism, there has never

been a set of beliefs established by an elite group to
which all believers must give assent.
Instead Hindus operate on a set of assumptions
about reality and the world.
However, the core of Hinduism is the belief in
Brahman, the underlying universal life force that
encompasses and embodies existence.

Belief overview

all Hindus believe that the real self (atman) is

distinct from the temporary body made of matter (prakriti).
The eternal soul identifies with matter and is entrapped by
maya (illusion). Impelled by lust, greed, anger, etc., he
undergoes samsara (the cycle of repeated birth and death).


soul creates its unique destiny according to the law of

karma (the universal law of action and reaction). Under the
influence of eternal time and the three gunas (material
qualities) he moves throughout the creation, sometimes
going to higher planets, sometimes moving in human
society, and at other times entering the lower species.


goal of most Hindus is moksha, liberation from

this perpetual cycle, through re-identification with
the eternal brahman (Supreme). Hinduism accepts
different paths towards this common goal (union
with God). Nonetheless, it stresses strict adherence
to universal principles through the practice of one's
dharma (ordained duty) as revealed through
authorised holy books and usually received through
the guru (spiritual mentor).


the Supreme Reality is One and

can be worshiped in any form is a concept unique to
Hinduism gives form and shape to these "works of
Infinite with the Hindu Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu
and Shiva - "Brahma", the creator, "Vishnu" the
sustainer and "Shiva" the destroyer or the
annihilator of the Universe.

Ethical and Legal


the Hindu framework, attention is placed on

relationships between individuals as members of
groups possessing different qualities and social
Dharma is a complex set of teachings to be
understood and practised from the beginning to the
end of ones life.

focuses on upholding harmony with the order of the


and pollution
Class and caste

Social Structures

and balance are achieved by means of

ordering human groups in different levels, each one
having obligations and privileges. These are called
the four varnas.

Kshatriya warrior/king
Vaishya farmer/merchant
Shudra servant to the other three classes.


are found in Hindu homes and

are used to worship the God/Goddess
of that house.


The syllable Om is composed of the three sounds au-m (in Sanskrit, the vowels a and u combine to
become o) and the symbol's threefold nature is central
to its meaning. It represent several important triads:

the three worlds - earth, atmosphere, and heaven

the three major Hindu gods - Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva
the three sacred Vedic scriptures - Rg, Yajur, and Sama

Thus Om mystically embodies the essence of the

entire universe.
Hindu people greet each other by placing
their two hands together and slightly bowing
the head, whilst saying namaste or a similar
phrase. They adopt the same posture when
greeting the temple deity or a holy person.
Thus when greeting another person, a Hindu
is offering respect to the soul within (atman)
and also to God within the heart

Lotus (padma) symbol of

purity/transcendence. Growing out of the
mud, it is beautiful, and though resting on
water, it does not touch it.
Conchshell used during arati: one of the
four symbols of Vishnu. The others are the
lotus, club and disc.
Swastika an ancient solar sign
considered to invoke auspiciousnes.
Trident (trishul) the symbol of Shiva;
often carried by Shaivite sannyasis
Kalasha coconut circled by mango
leaves on a pot. Often used in rituals such
as the fire sacrifice.
Cow symbol of purity, motherhood and
ahimsa (non-violence).
Lotus feet (of guru or deity) touching
the feet of superiors shows an attitude of
submission and service.
Dipa/lamp symbol of light.