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Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #8

                     Worldview Theme #9A: Religious Fundamentalism            Worldview Theme #10: Secular Humanism

for summary read these 5 entries in order: word of God, absolute moral code, teleology,  literal interpretation of sacred texts, historical metaphorical interpretation

for summary read these 5 entries in order: humanism,  liberalism, meaningless life, existentialism, spirituality

absolute moral code -- absolute or universal standards of what is ethically or morally right or wrong. For many religious people, particularly fundamentalists, the word of God as it appears in sacred texts, provides this absolute moral authority. The opposing belief, that no such absolute or universal standards exist, is termed ethical or moral relativism.

agnosticism--with respect to the question "Does God exist?" agnostics feel that they no relevant knowledge so they are neither believers nor skeptics--they simply don't know!    

atheist--a person who doesn't believe in God

belief , fear and doubt, according to the Qu’ran—quotes from the Islamic holy book: "The true believers are those who feel a fear in their hearts (of the consequences of violating the commands of Allah) when Allah is mentioned.  And when His Revelations are recited to them, they find their faith strengthened.  They do their best and then put their trust in their Lord"  (from the Qur'an, 8:2) "This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a guide to those who keep their duty" (from the Qur'an, 2:2)

Bible, provides help in the time of need--According to Gideons, it provides:    1) the way to salvation; 2) comfort in a time of loneliness; 3) comfort in tome of sorrow; 4) relief in time of suffering; 5) guidance in time of decision; 6) protection in time of danger; 7) courage in time of fear; 8) peace in time of turmoil; 9) rest in time of weariness. [this Bible providing service can be consulted for specific passages for finding each of the above]

Biblical creationism--belief that the world was created in six days as literally described in the book of Genesis, as fundamentalist Christians typically assert, and that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old.   Historically, this view has roots in the work of Bishop Ussher, a 17th century Biblical scholar who counted generations in the Bible and determined that the world was created on October 23rd at nine in the morning in the year 4004 BC.  Biblical creationists reject much of the modern scientific conceptual framework starting with evolution and the geological time scale.  They see Noah's flood as an important event in shaping the Earth's surface. 

blaspheme--to challenge belief in God or religious belief; see blasphemy 

blasphemy-- in general, irreverence toward something considered sacred; in particular using the name of God (or other sacred deity) in an insulting, contemptuous, or defaming way. Theocracies  (notably Pakistan)—may have a law that makes blasphemy a crime (insulting Allah, the Qu’ran, etc. can result in imprisonment.)

brights--a term coined by evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins describing people whose  "worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements."  Dawkins feels religion is dangerous because it leads people to choose faith in "The God Delusion" (the title of his recent book) over reason--a choice which he sees as a first step down a "slippery slope" to hate and violence.  

brotherhood -- an idealized situation in which people treat each other in a highly considerate way as if they were members of the same family (brothers or sisters)

Chain of Being–the historically important idea that life on Earth is organized in hierarchical or ladder fashion, with the lowest, most insignificant creature at the bottom and the highest, most perfect at the top.  According to such progressive creationism as shaped by the book of Genesis, God's ultimate goal was the creation of Man, whose place in this scheme is at the top of the chain or ladder.  This idea influenced Western science as late as the middle of the 19th century, but ultimately gave way as the modern theory of biological evolution developed.  Its history can be traced back 2500 years to Aristotle. It was later added to by religious scholars to include belief that God's ultimate goal in His creation was Man.  Linnaeus (1707-1789) sought to reveal God's plan by classifying plants and animals—in his 1737 book Systema Naturae  Even after Darwin published his theory of evolution in 1859, many persisted in depicting evolution as culminating in Man.

creationism -- a belief shaped by religious sacred texts that all life and most notably the human species resulted from a specific act of creation performed by a supreme being, rather than from processes involving evolution. Biblical creationism attributes all creation to God, a modern revision of it to an “Intelligent Designer”.

credulous–refers to a person who is ready to believe, often on slight or uncertain evidence.  Thus incredulous refers to one who is not credulous–that is, someone who is skeptical.    

deism–a monotheistic belief in God, who is believed to not interfere with the workings of the universe which proceed according to natural laws, combined with rejection of formal, organized religion

ethics–the study of right and wrong in matters of conduct.  A basic division is between metaethics and normative ethics. A goal of metaethics is understanding gained by considering questions like “What is the meaning and nature of moral judgments?” and  How are they defended and supported?” and  “ In what way or ways are they actually used?  A goal of normative ethics involves identifying universal rules (or norms) to guide human behavior with respect to the key question, “How should one act or behave?” Normative ethics can be broken up into (most notably), consequentialist ethics, deontological ethics, utilitarianism, and egoism.

ethical (or moral) relativism -- the belief that ethical guidelines or moral rules cannot be evaluated outside of the particular cultural / ethical setting to which they belong. It holds that there are no absolute or universal standards of what is ethically or morally right or wrong.  Fundamentalists abhor ethical relativism. For them, the word of God as recorded in sacred religious texts provides not only rules to live by, but an absolute authority on moral questions. 

evangelical-- Associated with, and in accordance with, the gospels of the Christian New Testament; see also evangelism 

evangelicalism, new--a Christian activist movement that broadens evangelicalism beyond its past focus on converting others to Christianity, pro-life and other issues important to the religious right, to also include pro-poor, pro-social justice issues important to the left. This "new social gospel" brings with it a global perspective

evangelism -- involving a militant or crusading zeal, for example, evangelical Christians efforts to convert others to Christianity. According to Rick Warren, that was one of God's purposes in creating human life.

evil, the problem of -- this problem has plagued philosophers at least as far back as the ancient Greeks. Epicurus (341-270 BC) appears to be the first to consider it at some length. Simply put, it has two aspects, one religious, one secular, that can themselves be stated as questions.  First, why does an all powerful, all knowing God allow evil to exist in the world? Second, how should society fight human’s wicked and evil acts -- won’t fighting them with evil (violence, vengeance, capital punishment, etc) just result in more evil? Those who embrace non-violence, forgiveness, and oppose capital punishment basically feel that good can not come out of evil. Others argue that if evil is left unchecked and unpunished, and not countered with strong action, then more evil will result.

evil, the problem of  and how various religions handle it –Christianity--from the Bible's book of Job onward, it recognizes there is a problem; Islam --Evil, pain, and suffering is not a problem: it is a fact of Allah's creation.  And Allah does not owe man any explanations...As the holy Qu'ran (4: 78) puts it: "Whatever good befalleth thee, O man, it is from GOD; and whatever evil befalleth thee, it is from thyself."; Hinduism-- "For Hindu thought, there is no Problem of Evil.  The conventional, relative world is necessarily a world of opposites.  Light is inconceivable apart from darkness; order is meaningless without disorder; and likewise...pleasure without pain." (Alan Watts in The Spirit of Zen);  Buddhism--Buddhists use the existence of evil as a reason not to believe in God as a benevolent, loving Creator.  As the Bodhisattva sings, "If the creator of the world entire they call God, of every being be the Lord, why prevail deceit, lies and ignorance and he such inequity and injustice create?  If the creator of the world entire they call God, of every human being be the Lord, then an evil master is he, (O Aritta) knowing what’s right did let wrong prevail! (from Bhuridatta Jataka)  

evolution -- the ongoing process of physical, chemical and biological change that can be traced from the beginning of the universe, to the lifeless Earth coming into existence 4.5 billion years ago, and to its current state of teeming with a diversity of living things. Biological evolution refers to the process by which the individual members of a species, and species themselves, slowly change due to changes in genetic makeup, environmental circumstances, etc.

evolution, questioning-- Can Natural Selection, Random Variation  Produce a Complex Structure Like an Eye?“ No!” argued Henri Bergson in his 1911 classic Creative Evolution.  More recently  John Polkinghorne asks, “How many steps would take us from a slightly light sensitive cell to a fully formed insect eye…and the number of generations required for the necessary mutations to occur?” Biologist Richard Dawkins answers him in his book River Out of Eden in arguing “Yes!”  Using the metaphor of climbing a tall mountain, he likens those who find it inconceivable that mindless processes could produce a structure like the eye to those who think the mountain must be climbed all at once by directly scaling the imposing cliff. He contrasts this to taking the other route: going around to the back where a not so steep path gently but steadily winds its way to the top, and beginning what will be a very very ascent to the top!  Dawkins feels ordinary peoples’ inability to grasp the long (millions of years) time spans involved and the very slow pace at which very slight change occurs is a big part of the problem.

existentialism -- a philosophical orientation that emphasizes individual choice, decision-making , and responsibility -- including the responsibility to put meaning into a seemingly irrational world that has no discernible purpose.  Existentialist thinking is much concerned with the human condition. One can distinguish between "atheistic existentialism" and "theistic existentialism"--the former having no room for God, the latter perhaps realizing, in the words of Christian author James Sire, "whether or not God exists is a tough question to be solved not by reason but by faith."

faith -- firm belief, complete confidence and trust in something for which there is no proof, often associated with religion and typically linked more to the one's  feelings / emotions  than one's rational / analytical side. Some give this concept a deeper meaning.  Christian  philosopher Paul Tillich connected it with "ultimate concern" as in what should be the ultimate concern to which one's life should be devoted.  In his book Stages of Faith, James Fowler views finding faith as ultimately finding "an overarching, integrating and grounding trust in a center of value and power sufficiently worthy to give our lives unity and meaning." 

faith vs. reason—essentially the distinction here is between belief supported by facts and concepts, ultimately linked to observation and experience, which fit together in a coherent way as part of a useful, logical framework (reason), and belief for which there is no such basis, but instead only one’s unshaken feeling of confidence, trust, and willingness to believe (faith).  When one’s knowledge and experience is limited, belief can be extended based on trusting the authority of someone else, rather than doing one’s own investigation into the rational basis for belief.  Sometimes, there is no way to rationally or scientifically decide and anyone holding such belief holds it through faith.  In this way faith can be connected with belonging.  Some see faith as a valid basis for knowledge, others say it provides no such basis.  Some see reason as threatening faith--meaning as one increasingly relies on it, one’s reliance on faith diminishes.  

fundamentalism, the poor and social justice-- the failure of the government to do much for improving the plight of the poor has resulted in those people in many parts of the world turning instead to religious fundamentalist groups--particularly Islamic-- for help. As William Dalrymple describes it, "...much of the Islamists' success in Pakistan and elsewhere comes from their ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting Westernized elites."

God, arguments for existence of--from classical philosophy come three such arguments, summarized as follows: 1) cosmological--based on the assumption that every event has a cause, one looks back for causes behind events to the first event: the beginning of the universe. This "first cause" is linked to God.  2) ontological--based on defining God as a perfect being, realizing that such perfection requires God be complete and lack no attributes, certainly God must  exist!  3) teleological--given obvious evidence of design in the universe, it must have had a designer.  William Paley (1743-1805) provided the famous watch / watchmaker analogy often used here.  

God, omniscience and omnipotence of -- many conceive of God as all knowing and all powerful, with infinite knowledge and power.  Use of infinity, in both mathematical and philosophical conceptions, can lead to difficulty and contradiction.  Here's a relevant one, provided by cybernetic pioneer Norbert Wiener: "Can God make a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it?  If He cannot, there is a limit to His power...if He can, this seems to constitute a limitation to His power too."  Those who value free will have qualified God's omniscience by restricting it to knowing everything that can be known--excluding the free choices human agents will make in the future.  Restricting God's knowledge in this regard can be avoided, but it comes at the expense of restricting His power: by assuming God knows everything that is to happen in the future, but lacks the power to doing anything to alter that future. 

historical metaphorical interpretation--the practice of interpreting sacred texts from both historical and metaphorical viewpoints, rather than from a literal / infallable God viewpoint. Biblical scholar Marcus Borg has most notably used this practice in interpreting the Bible.

history, philosophy of--considers such topics as what can be learned by studying history, what should be the focus of such study, what patterns can be discerned, what purpose (if any) lies behind it, the causes of events, and biases in historical records (writings of  "victors" may be more propaganda than truth!)

human exceptionalism–the belief that humans are special and stand apart from the rest of nature and the universe.  Some claim this for religious reasons–believing God created man to have dominion over nature. Darwinian evolution  challenges this.  Others cite humans' extraordinary brains and aptitudes to buttress their contention.  .  Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, whose decades of working with those peaceful primates known as bonobos has demonstrated  their language and concept abilities, has challenged human exceptionalism in a different way. “We’re special because we have this ability to speak, and we can create these imagined worlds,” she postulates. “So linguists and other scientists put these protective boundaries around language, because we as a species feel this need to be unique. And I’m not opposed to that. I just happened to find out it wasn’t true.”  

humanism--a philosophy that affirms the dignity and worth of human beings, their ethics, values and capacity for self realization through reason.

humanism, religious--brings together religious rituals and humanistic philosophy in an effort to meet human spiritual needs.  Secular and religious humanists, and even those who call themselves religious humanists, differ most notably on their positions with respect to supernatural beliefs.  

humanistic religious naturalism--unlike traditional humanism, whether secular or religious, which are human-centered (anthropocentric),  humanistic religious naturalism is natural world centered.  Perhaps Carl Sagan was describing it when he wrote, "A religion that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by traditional faiths."



ignorance, two types of -- -- a distinction between types of ignorance: problems vs. mysteries (first made by linguist Noam Chomsky). A problem solving approach can be employed to better understand what we already know at least something about, whereas those things that are totally bewildering can be considered unfathomable mysteries that we can only stand in awe of. Whereas the scientific method focuses on problems, mysteries are the stuff of religion. A long-term goal of science is to steadily incorporate more and more phenomena once considered mysteries into its framework of understanding.

intelligent design -- is, according to the Discovery Institute which has promoted it, the belief that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection”

jihad–an Islamic term, linked to religious duty, which seemingly has two meanings: 1) spiritual (greater) jihad: refers to striving in the way of Allah, promoting Islam, fighting injustice, and nonviolent religious struggle;     2) (lesser) jihad of the sword: holy war  against the enemies of Islam aimed at defending and expanding the Islamic state.

Judeo-Christian-Islamic Conception of God -- this is based on likening the relationship between man and God to the relationship between a child and his father. Of course a child eventually grows up and becomes independent of his father, whereas, here, man does not: he is always subject to God’s authority and must obey his commands. 

kinship metaphors -- examples of these abound: brotherhood, sister cities, fraternities and sororities, mother country and fatherland, “Brother, can you spare a dime?”, “Our Father who art in Heaven”, etc. All of these seek to extend the natural love or special treatment that exists between blood relatives to those who are unrelated. Evolutionary biologists explain the special treatment of kin in terms of relatives sharing many more genes than nonrelatives and that natural selection can work to insure survival of common, favored genes by promoting favored (altruistic behavior) treatment of relatives.

liberal education--the Association of American Colleges and Universities describes this as "a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a stronger sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement ... characterized by challenging encounters with important issues, and more a way of studying than a specific course or field of study"

liberal religion--rather than being based on particular creeds or sacred books, it typically draws from many religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions.  It values tolerance, open-mindedness, and respect for individual conscience and religious expression. USA examples are Unitarian Universalist, Unity, and (perhaps) Friends / Quakers.  

liberalisma rational, tolerant, generous, hopeful orientation that emphasizes individual freedom from restraint. Liberalism is often associated with progressive social change.     A July 2020 oped in The Economist summarized it as follows: “Liberalism thrives on a marketplace of ideas, so diversity has a vital role. Liberalism does not fight power with power, which risks replacing one abusive regime with another. Instead it uses facts and evidence, tested in debate, to help the weak take on the strong. Liberalism is all about progress, including putting right its mistakes—and there have been many, especially over race , including finding reasons to accommodate imperialism and slavery. That is one reason why, in the 250 years in which it has been influential, humanity has seen unprecedented material, scientific, and political gains, as well as extension of social and political rights.”

literal interpretation of sacred texts as God’s divine word, problems with--     1) internal contradictions; 2) translation errors; 3) scientific errors or contradictions with modern  scientific findings; 4) historical errors or contradictions with non-religious primary historical sources; 5) unity of style that would suggest a single author (God) is often lacking; 6) certain passages seemingly condone behavior that universal moral principles condemn (see slavery and Christianity)

madrassa--a fundamentalist Islamic religious school.

meaningless life--pointless, purposeless, futile existence, without rhyme or reason, an often cited example of which comes from the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who pushes a heavy stone up a steep hill, only to have it roll back down. He is punished by the gods and forced to continually and forever repeat this task.  Is he attempting to build something that will last, perhaps a temple? Does he become reconciled to his plight and eventually accept it?  Is he promised immortality in exchange for his toil?  To what extent does your life resemble Sisyphus'? 

myths--stories about divine beings, heroic human figures, animals, and nature that can hold an important place in the worldview of a particular people by providing explanations for certain beliefs, practices, natural phenomena, etc.  Myths are part of all sacred traditions. Creation myths, which attempt to explain how the world began, are especially popular. 

nature vs. nurture -- refers to the ongoing debate over the extent to which human behavior is largely innate / preprogrammed by our genetic heritage or is chiefly shaped by the environment in which we are raised, what we learn from it and from those who care for and teach us as we grow. Experimental support emphasizing the importance of heredity comes from studies of identical twins (sharing the same genes) raised apart, whereas ongoing studies of the brain -- in particular findings that show how the brain can “rewire” itself in response to environmental pressures (including head injury) -- illustrate that despite the complex, innate structure of the mind, the learning environment fundamentally shapes human behavior.

orthodox--conventional, adhering to traditional practice or established belief

perfectionism -- in a big picture sense, the belief that anything short of something being perfect is unacceptable; in small tasks, making sure that every last detail has been attended to and that the final product is perfect.

personal God–the definition employed here is a narrow one: a God who takes a personal interest in the world and, in particular, in individual worshippers. (Many add to this the idea that a God who is so personally concerned with them will intervene on their behalf, performing miracles or whatever.)  This is to be contrasted with a broader definition of this term in which God is conceived of as a person, and thus has a personality

personal responsibility, accepting -- Before an individual can overcome some personal difficulty or solve a personal problem, he or she needs to acknowledge that the difficulty or problem exists, by saying something like, “This problem is mine and I must solve it”. In this context, taking personal responsibility means that you don’t ignore difficulties or problems, expect others to solve them for you, or shift the blame to others. In a family or social context, taking personal responsibility can mean voluntarily limiting your choices or restraining yourself for the good of the family, tribe, village, community or whatever. Richard Critchfield refers to this as “the freedom to choose self responsibility”.

pluralism--a societal state in which people of diverse religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds all live together, both preserving aspects of their heritage and traditions and living together under the same national government.

Postmodernism -- an intellectual and artistic movement based on the belief that the modern historical period, one built on reason, the reality of objective truth, and an attitude of hopeful progressivism with respect to the human condition, has passed. Postmodernism questions whether these ideals and others still have meaning.  Countering the belief, which dates from the 18th century Enlightenment period, that humans are capable of knowing everything, postmodernists argue that they really know nothing--arguing that the reality humans have constructed is a state of mind contingent upon particular cultural conditions, historical accidents, etc and lacking in objective existence.  They deny the existence of universal truth, promote the common good, tolerance, and a cultural relativism in which different societies' truths, beliefs, values and morals are equally good.  Some link postmodernist cynicism with the steadily increasing grip that media conglomerates and multinational led forces of globalization have on the world.

prophet--an inspired person who supposedly speaks the word of God or communicates divine revelation 

rationalism -- a philosophical orientation that links finding ultimate truth to employing reasoning

religion, definitions of--one of those difficult to define terms. In his classic, The World's Religions, Huston Smith defines it broadly as "a way of life woven around people's ultimate concerns" or more narrowly as "a concern to align humanity with the transcendental ground of its existence."  Synthesizing, and building on these, religion can be defined as involving beliefs, behaviors, feelings and devotion or obligation to faith in the divine or what is held to be of ultimate importance. Two narrower definitions are: 1) the worship of, and service to, God or the supernatural, and 2) a belief system associated with traditionally defined or formally institutionalized ceremonies or rituals.  

religion, two kinds of-- One can distinguish religions built on myths (mythos) from those built on reason       (logos).  Myths provide metaphorical descriptions of what are often important and mysterious aspects of Reality, while reason attempts to provide actual, literal, factual descriptions of these same things.  In this regard, the (over 2500 year old) creation story in the book of Genesis can be contrasted with modern astrophysicists' efforts to provide an account of evolutionary history starting with The Big Bang.  By holding onto literal interpretations of sacred religious texts, religious fundamentalists are demanding that mythos be taken as logos.

righteousness—a moralistic, theological term, important in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, that refers to the quality of acting in accordance with moral law or divine plan, and thus being free of sin and harboring no guilt.  For example, in the Old Testament of the Bible the guiltless are said to be righteous, while the guilty are judged. 

sacred Christian tradition--Catholic ---according to the second Vatican Council, 1962-65 it can be summarized by follows: " Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2: 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort."

sacrosanct--holy, sacred, something not to be criticized

secular--relating to worldly or temporal--rather than religious and eternal (non-worldly)--matters.

seekers vs. believers--In his book The Seekers, Daniel Boorstin makes the distinction as follows. "...we are all Seekers.  We all want to know why.  Man is the asking animal. And while the finding, the belief that we have found the Answer, can separate us and make us forget our humanity, it is the seeking that continues to bring us together..."    

self actualization -- the ultimate personal development state as studied by Maslow and other psychologists. Self actualized people, according to Maslow have achieved, “the full use and exploitation of talent, capacities, potentialities, etc.” They are self confident but also possess humility that allows them to listen carefully to others and admit their ignorance. They see life more clearly than others partly due to a better understanding of themselves. With this superior perception comes a better sense of right and wrong. Among their attributes, Maslow includes “honesty and naturalness, the transcendence of selfish and personal motivations, the giving up of lower desires in favor of higher ones.” Such people feel a strong bond or kinship with the rest of humanity. They typically seek important and meaningful work.

separation of church and state -- refers to keeping separate institutions of government and religion, thereby minimizing or preventing the "meddling" of one institution in the affairs of the other. Adherents to this doctrine believe that it protects both freedom of religion and democratic principles. In a theocracy such separation can disappear.  

slavery and Christianity—Some, including some in the pre-Civil War USA South, have used words in the Old Testament Bible book of Genesis spoken by Noah: “Cursed be Canaan. The lowest of slaves will be his brothers” to justify using black Africans (thought by Christians to be descendents of Ham, the son of Canaan) as slaves.  While during Christianity’s earliest years as an accepted religion slavery was an integral part of the Roman Empire, by the fourth century CE prominent Christians began speaking out about its evils.  St. Augustine (354 –430) saw it as resulting from son and against God’s will.  St. Patrick (390-460) came to Ireland as a slave.  Remembered today for bringing Christianity to Ireland,  Patrick is credited with being the first person to speak out unequivocally against slavery.  When he railed against this "crime so horrible and unspeakable" he was perhaps recalling his own six years of suffering in bondage.  He especially empathized with women captives.  His efforts brought slavery in Ireland to an end. 

social justice—refers to 1) a relationship between individuals and society in which people have what is just, defined in various ways as being reasonable, proper, lawful, right, fair, deserved, merited, etc; 2) if the condition described above does not exist, then taking steps to make it so. In practice, in affluent Western societies, seeking social justice is concerned with seeking a fairer distribution of wealth and privilege, equal opportunity for all, ending unfair discrimination or exclusion, and providing a safety net for the especially vulnerable. It can also involve recognizing / rewarding those who contribute to the common good more than those who behave in more self-serving fashion.

spirituality--can be narrowly defined as the quality or state of being spiritual--which relates to matters pertaining to vital spirit or soul--definitions secular humanists have no use for. Or it can be much more broadly considered.  Definitions that fit into this latter category are: 1) "the process and result of nurturing one's soul and developing one's spiritual life" (David N. Elkins),  and 2) "one's spirituality is the range of one's emotional relationships to those questions that cannot be answered..."like  'What happens when you die?'"(Jaron Lanier).  Some confine their spirituality to the boundaries provided by traditional religion;  others look elsewhere to meet their spiritual needs. 3) In recent years Project Worldview has begun promoting a new way of metaphorically looking at spirituality—as the domain at the intersection of what both our heads and our hearts tell us is fundamentally important. Such definitions enable a search for meaning to be thought of as a spiritual pursuit! 

teleology -- the idea that there is a design or purpose inherent in everything and belief that events unfold toward some divinely specified ultimate end or that everything strives to fulfill some purpose

Ten Commandments, The--behavioral and moral rules found in the Old Testament of the Bible and important to Jews and Christians. They are traditionally believed to have been written by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai over 3000 years ago. 

theocracy -- government by those who claim to or are believed to be divinely inspired. In its most extreme forms, there is no separation of church and state.

theology -- the rational study of religious faith, experience, and practice

tolerant—sympathetic to or at least able to allow another individual’s  indulgence in beliefs, values, practices, and behaviors that differ from or conflict with one’s own.    

word of God--many monotheistic religions view their sacred text as being the word of God, if not literally, then certainly providing a lesson or message inspired by God.  Another interpretation of this phrase connects with the creation of the universe and the Greek term logos--which some Christians translate as "word". Thus the first verse in the Christian Bible (translated from Greek) can be read as "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Others in the West have connected logos with thought, reason, logic, the underlying order of reality, etc; in the East it's most notably been linked with tao and dharma.  



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