December 05, 2004

Religion Quiz

Sorry for the cryptic nature of this quiz, and the lack of much context, but I've been giving a lot of thought to what will be a fairly lengthy essay on religion. If you wouldn't mind posting a comment or sending me an email on the following questions, I would appreciate your input (if you want to remain anonymous, please let me know). Even if you're an atheist, your input is welcomed and encouraged on many of these questions.

Note to regular readers: please spread the word on this and point as many people here as possible - the larger the sample set, the better, even though I have no pretensions of this being a formal survey.

1. Do you believe in God/gods?
2. What religion/philosophy/tradition, if any, were you raised in? (If your answer to question 1 was "no," you can now skip to question 8).
3. What religion, if any, do you currently observe/practice?
4. If your answer to 3 differs from 2, please explain why you changed.
5. How frequently do you pray?
6. How frequently do you attend church/temple/synagogue/mosque?
7. What is the object of your religion (i.e., why do you believe what you do, what do you hope to get out of your belief)?
8. What do you think is the purpose of religion (broadly defined as an organized faith in the supernatural), in general?
9. Describe your understanding of the basic principles of Christianity.
10. Describe your understanding of the basic principles of Judaism.
11. Optional: Describe your understanding of the basic principles of your religion (if neither Christianity nor Judaism) or of any other religion that you would like to comment upon.

Update: Just to be clear, there's no obligation to answer all 11 questions - answer whatever you're comfortable with. I'm most interested in general comments on 9 and 10, and asked the others mainly to frame those two questions.

Posted by JohnL at December 5, 2004 07:20 PM

1. yes, I believe in the triune God of classical Christianity.
2. I was raised as a Southern Baptist in Texas.
3. I'm an evangelical Christian and a member of a Baptist Church.
4. N/A
5. Many times a day. It's part of my mental landscape.
6. Weekly.
7. To know God, to love Him, and to serve Him.
8. For Man to be reconciled to God and for creation to be redeemed and live in peace and joy.
9. Mankind is separated from our Creator by original and individual sin. God has worked in history to redeem mankind, first through the Jewish people and nation, and more recently by stepping into history in the person of Jesus Christ. He was born of a virgin; gathered disciples, worked miracles which attested to His divine origin; sinless; suffered and died under Pontius Pilate; was raised from the dead on the third day, appeared to his disciples; and gave them and us the Great Commission. He lives forever in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. He grants His Holy Spirit to His disciples, is with us forever, and will return to judge the living and the dead. He is the head of His family, the Church, and He inhabits and works through the Church and His followers. The Good News is that each of us can be reconciled with God by Jesus' death and resurrection, and that reconciliation is the basis of the new life in Christ. We become members of His family when we accept Him as our Savior and Lord.
10. God created the universe. He created Man in His image, and placed Man and Woman in a garden where they could walk with Him. Man was cast out of the garden by the credulousness of the woman and her luring of the man to join her in sin. God did not abandon Man, saving him through rightous men like Seth, Noah, and Abraham. There was always a rightous remant, faithful to God. God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and became the God of the Jews because of the patriarchs' obedience to the covenant. The Jews were enslaved in Egypt, freed through God's power by Moses, wandered in the wilderness, conquered and settled in Canaan--the promised land-- and established Judaism in this setting. They were ruled first by judges, then by kings, and are God's chosen people.

Posted by: TwoCents at December 5, 2004 08:54 PM

My answers are up. I went for basic priciples, not an affirmation of faith.

Posted by: Owlish at December 5, 2004 10:27 PM

1. No
2. Anglican/Church Of England
8. I think religion is an attempt to understand death and to allay fear of death.
9. Be excellent to each other.
10. Be excellent to each other while wearing a funky hat.
11. I'm an atheist. The underlying principle of my religion is that there's no such thing as an afterlife, so you may as well accomplish all you can while you're alive.

Posted by: yobbo at December 6, 2004 09:44 AM

1: No. Atheist
2. Catholic. I actually think that if the answer to #1 is "No," it would interesting to track the answers to #2.
8: Religion was designed to provide a common comfort to early cultures. Since then, they have organized in an attempt to accumulate power and money. With the exception of some orders of monks and storefront Gospel churches, religions act as businesses and power brokers.
9: Christianity-immortality via Heaven and direct access to the love of God is attainable only through accepting Christ as your saviour. This is because Christ was God's sacrifice to redeem the sins of man. Accepting Christ is do-able only through observing a set of rules. The rules differ. Widely.
10: Judaism. Man's role is to make the universe a better place. Once again there are rules.

Posted by: Jeff at December 6, 2004 12:51 PM

2.mild protestant
3.agnostic a lot of Robert Heinlien, especially 'Job, a Comedy of Justice'
5.heart felt prayers maybe twice a year
6.never belief is a lot like a vestigial organ, I don't really use it for anything but it's still there
8.I firmly believe it was a way for early man to come up with rules to protect society and peoples health unto others as you would have them do unto you
10.see #9 above except with limits on yummy pork and shellfish
11.agnosticism is basically a lazy persons religion, we don't put any effort into it but occasionally pray on the off chance it will do some good. sorta covering the bases as it were.

Posted by: Brass at December 6, 2004 03:13 PM

1. Yes. Sh'ma Yisra'el, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad.
2. Judaism
3. Judaism
4. No Change
5. Varies, but no less frequently than weekly.
6. Roughly once a month
7. Spiritual well-being
8. To understand the spark of life, the unquantifiable essence that not only makes us "alive" but "human" as well.
9. Rooted in Judaism, the founders of the Christian (possibly just the Diciples, possibly others as well) movement sought to "simplfy" the system by replacing the Torah with a (singluar) "new law" which was much easier to follow. They succeeded, but injected a notion of "one way is the right way" interpretation on G-d's instruction to "Be a light unto the nations." (Nutshell version) (Humorous answer: Jewish joke gone awry - 'How do you know Jesus was Jewish? His mother thought he was G-d.' :) )
10. A system of laws, positive commands and (negative) prohibitions to better guide the morality and health of the Jewish People. A "light unto the nations" but not the only path to G-d. (Nutshell answer.) (Humorous answer: Can someone else be the "Chosen People" for a decade? We need a breather! :) )


Posted by: Lysander at December 6, 2004 10:43 PM

Mine are basically the same as stated in TwoCents comment, and I couldn't improve on the way it was phrased.

Posted by: hatless in hattiesburg at December 8, 2004 06:12 AM

3.Nothing formal, for the most part. I sometimes attend Mass, sometimes attend Protestant (Methodist) services.
4.I had a crisis of faith when I was 15, I'm 50 now, and still wrestling with what I believe, other than a firm conviction that there IS a God.
5.Every day at the least.
6.Varies. From once or twice a month to months without going at all.
8.Religion is mans attempt to make sense of the universe, his place in it, and his relationship with God.
9.All men are fallen short of gods plan, and it's only through the grace of God through following the Commandments and teachings his Son that we may be redeemed through hi blood sacrifice for the remission of sin.
10.A system of laws and proscriptions designed to make the people more pleasing in the sight of God, and to be as a beacon for the world to show God's will.
11.For myself, I believe that there is a God, that He does care about us,and that every religion is Gods voice trying to show us the way.
I do believe that there is some sort of afterlife, but I'm not so sure that the conventional concepts of Heaven and Hell are what it's like.

I look forward to reading your essay.

Posted by: delftsman3 at December 9, 2004 04:30 PM

1. I believe in the possibility of a God, but it's not really important to me.
2. Christianity
3. Buddhism
4. Christianity did not make sense to me, the Buddha's teachings do.
5. I don't "pray" but I do meditate at least once a day.
6. I visit my Sangha a couple times a week.
7. Ultimately to reach Nirvana, but Buddhism also teaches how to we should live and treat others in this world.
8. To give people a framework by which to live their lives.

9. The most crucial beliefs in Christian teaching are Jesus' incarnation, atonement, crucifixion, death and resurrection to redeem mankind from sin and death. These events are believed by Christians to be the basis of God's work to reconcile humanity with himself. Many Christians believe that this emphasis on God giving his beloved Son for the sake of humanity is an essential difference between Christianity and religions where the emphasis is instead placed solely on humans working for salvation. God is a Trinity, a single eternal being existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Jesus is both fully God and fully Man, two "natures" in one person.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, bore in her womb and gave birth to the Son of God, who although eternally existent was formed in her womb by the Spirit of God. From her humanity he received in his person a human intellect and will, and all else that a child would naturally receive from its mother.
Jesus is the Messiah hoped for by the Jews, the heir to the throne of David. He reigns at the right hand of God with all authority and power. He is the hope of all mankind, their advocate and judge. Until he returns at the end of the age, the Church has the authority and obligation to preach the Gospel and to gather new disciples.
Jesus was innocent of any sin. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, believers are forgiven of sins and reconciled to God. Believers are baptized into the death of Christ. Through faith, they live by the promise of resurrection from death to everlasting life through Christ. The Holy Spirit is given to them, to bring hope and lead mankind into true knowledge of God and His purposes, and help them grow in holiness.
Jesus will return personally, and bodily, to receive the faithful to himself, so they will live forever in the intimate presence of God.

10. According to religious Jews, the Biblical patriarch Abraham was the first Jew. Rabbinic literature records that he was the first to reject idolatry and preach monotheism. As a result, God promised he would have children, starting with Isaac, who would carry on his work and inherit the land of Israel (then called Canaan) after having been exiled and redeemed. God sent the patriarch Jacob and his children to Egypt; after they eventually became enslaved, God sent Moses to redeem the Israelites from slavery. After the Exodus from Egypt, God led them to Mount Sinai and give them the Torah, and eventually brought them to the Land of Israel.

God set aside the descendants of Aaron, Moses' brother, to be a priestly class within the Israelite community. They first officiated in the tabernacle (a portable house of worship), and later their descendants officiated in the Temple in Jerusalem

Once they had settled, the tabernacle was planted in the city of Shiloh for over 300 years during which time God provided great men, and occasionally women, to rally the nation after he sent enemies to attack them. As time went on, the spiritual level of the nation declined to the point that God allowed the Philistines to capture the tabernacle in Shiloh.

The people of Israel then told Samuel the prophet that they had reached the point where they needed a permanent king like other nations had. God knew this was not best for the Jews, but acceded to this request and had Samuel appoint Saul, a great but very humble man, to be their king. When the people pressured Saul into going against a command conveyed to him by Samuel, God told Samuel to appoint David in his stead.

Once David was established, he told the prophet Nathan that he would like to build a permanent temple. As a reward, God promised David that he would allow his son to build the temple and the throne would never depart from his children. David's son Solomon built the first permanent temple according to God's will, in Jerusalem.

After Solomon's death, the kingdom was split into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Israel had a variety of kings, but after a few hundred years, because of the rampant idolatry God allowed Assyria to conquer Israel and exile its people. The kingdom of Judah, whose capital was Jerusalem and contained the temple, remained under the rulership of the house of David. However, idolatry increased to the point that God allowed Babylon to conquer it, destroy the temple which had stood for 410 years and exile its people to Babylon, with the promise that they would be redeemed after seventy years.

After seventy years the people were allowed back into Israel under the leadership of Ezra, and the temple was rebuilt. This second temple stood for 420 years after which it was destroyed by the Roman general (later emperor) Titus. This is the state in which it is to remain until a descendant of David arises to restore the glory of Israel (the current existence of the Islamic Dome of the Rock doesn't matter to the Rabbinical view).

The Torah given on Mount Sinai was summarized in the five books of Moses and together with the books of the prophets is called the Written Torah. The details which are called the Oral Torah were to remain unwritten. However as the persecutions of the Jews increased and the details were in danger of being forgotten, they were recorded in the Mishna, and the Talmud, as well as other holy books.

11. Basics of Buddhism:

The Four Noble Truths

The Buddha taught that life was dissatisfactory because of craving, but that this condition was curable by following the eightfold path. This teaching is called the four noble truths:

1. Dukkha: All worldly life is unsatisfactory, disjointed, containing suffering.
2. Samudaya: There is a cause of suffering, which is attachment or desire (tanha) rooted in ignorance.
3. Nirodha: There is an end of suffering, which is Nirvana.
4. Marga: There is a path that leads out of suffering, known as the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Noble Eightfold Path

In order to fully understand the noble truths and investigate whether they were in fact true, Buddha recommended that a certain lifestyle or path be followed which consists of:

1. Right Understanding
2. Right Thought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

Sometimes in the Pāli Canon the Eightfold Path is spoken of as being a progressive series of stages which the practitioner moves through, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another, but it is more usual to view the stages of the 'Path' as requiring simultaneous development.

The Eightfold Path essentially consists of meditation, following the precepts, and cultivating the positive converse of the precepts (e.g. benefiting living beings is the converse of the first precept of harmlessness). The Path may also be thought of as a the way of developing śīla, meaning mental and moral discipline.

The Five Precepts

Buddhists undertake certain precepts as aids on the path to coming into contact with ultimate reality. Laypeople generally undertake five precepts. The five precepts are:

1. I undertake the precept to refrain from harming living creatures (killing).
2. I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not freely given (stealing).
3. I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
4. I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech (lying, harsh language, slander, idle chit-chat).
5. I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness.

Posted by: Bodhi at March 18, 2005 08:23 AM
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