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•Why do Religions have different
distributions?
Core division:
• Universalizing religions can be traced to a specific founder and place of origin;
the faith is generally based on the teaching of this individuals.
• Ethnic religions have more ambiguous places of specific origin (or several are
acknowledged), and are not tied to the teachings of a founding individual.
Origins of Universalizing Religions
• Christianity:
• Founded: 2,000 years ago
• Founding: Based on teachings of Jesus
• Origin: Religion located in present day Israel/Palestine
• Founded on Jesus who was born in Bethlehem and died on a cross in
Jerusalem in 33 AD but rose again.
• Jesus was referred to as Christ which means messiah or savior.
• The four Gospels of the Christian Bible- Mathew, Mark, Luke, John
documented miracles
• Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested and put to death to atone for
sins but his tomb was found empty, rising again to claim authority over
death providing hope and salvation.
• Roman Catholic Branch: recognize teachings of the Bible, Pope is head, believe
God conveys his grace through seven sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist,
Penance, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing the sick.
• Orthodox Branch- eastern portion of the Roman Empire that split between
Pope and Patriarchy of Constantinople. Accept seven sacraments by reject
doctrines of the Roman Catholic church added since the eighth century.
• Protestant Branch-originated during the Reformation with Martin Luther
(1483-1546) who posted 95 these describing how individuals don’t need
sacraments of the church but rather a personal relationship with God.
Origins of Universalizing Religions
• Islam:
• Founded: 1,500 years ago
• Founder: Prophet Muhammad
• Origin: Mecca and Medina, located in present-day Saudi Arabia.
• Five pillars of Faith:
• Shahada- there is no god except one God and Mohammed is his messenger
• Salat- pray five time daily facing Mecca
• Zakat- give generously to charity
• Sawm of Ramadan- fast during the month for purification
• Hajj- make a pilgrimage to Mecca
• Same origins as the Bible from Adam to Abraham but…
• Abraham’s wife Sarah gave birth to a son Issac- Jews and Christians
• Abraham’s other wife Hagar gave birth to another son Ishmael-Muslims
• Centuries later one Ishmael’s decendents Muhammed became prophet of
Islam
Mohammad received visions from God (Allah) through the angel Gabriel at age
40. He began to articulate his visions in the Quran, gathering followers.
Mohammad and the first Muslims were kicked out of Mecca to Medina by its
pagan rulers, but eventually they triumphantly returned to Mecca. Mohammad’s
believers spread quickly through the Middle East and North Africa, uniting the
many peoples they conquered under the banner of Islam.
Shiites and Sunnis- after death of Muhamad there was a disagreement in the
lineup of succession in Islamic leadership
Origins of Universalizing Religions
• Buddhism:
• Founded: 2500 years ago
• Founder: Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha)
• Origin: Northeastern India/Bangladesh
Siddhartha was a wealthy prince who wanted to learn more about the
suffering he witnessed in the world. At 29, he left his privileged life
behind and entered a forest where he remained for the next 6 years,
emerging as the ‘Buddha,’ or ‘enlightened one.’ Siddhartha then spent
the next 45 years spreading his message.
Buddhists believe that suffering is prolonged through reincarnation,
and that this can only be avoided by reaching a state of
enlightenment called ‘nirvana.’
• Four Noble Truths:
• 1. All living being must endure suffering
• 2. Suffering, caused by the desire to live, leads to reincarnation
• 3. The goal of all life is to escape suffering and reincarnation by moving
into Nirvana achieved by self purification
• 4. Nirvana is achieved through Eightfold Path- belief, resolve, speech,
action, livelihood, effort, thought, mediation.
• Forms:
• Theravada Buddhism: oldest form, must become a monk.
• Mahayana Buddhism: emphasizes teaching and helping others
• Vajrayana: practice ritual Tantras
Origins of Universalizing Religions
• Sikhism:
• Founded: 500 years
• Founder: Guru Nanak
• Origin: Near present-day Lahore, Pakistan
Origins of Universalizing Religions
• Baha’i:
• Founded: Early nineteenth century
• Founder: Siyyid Ali Muhammad (the Ba’B)
• Origin: Iran
Origins of Ethnic Religions
• Hinduism:
• Unlike the universalizing religions, Hinduism’s origin is less clear. The earliest
Hindu documents date to 2,500 bce, making it the oldest continuously
practiced religion in the world.
• The original Hindu culture was altered greatly when the Aryan people
arrived along with their Indo-European language around 1,400 bce.
Origins of Ethnic Religions
• Judaism:
• Abraham, the Patriarch of the Jewish faith, lived in Ur, Babylonia (Iraq)
in about 1,800 bce. On a promise from God, he migrated to presentday Israel and founded what became the Jewish faith.
• Both Christians and Muslims trace their earliest ancestry back to the
sons of Abraham-Isaac (Jews) and Ismael (Muslims).