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Religion and the Individual

Religion and the Individual


This lesson will discuss how religion informs various notions of individuality, and the relationship of the individual with the divine and/or otherworldly.

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Video Transcription

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One of the unavoidable fundamental tasks every person must face is finding his or her place in the world, and that includes grappling with the question of whether or not there is a God, whether or not there's something called the divine, or something transcendent that exceeds ordinary understanding.

Notice that even being atheist doesn't automatically solve the problem. For even the atheist has to go through this questioning process of deciding "Well, if I'm going to define myself in reference against this concept, what does it mean? And is God simply null and void-- nothing?" So I may reach that conclusion in the end, but I still have to go through this process. And atheists and theists alike have to ask the basic questions of life, and death, and meaning. What is my purpose in life? Am I ready to die, if I had to die? Am I going to come to the end of it all feeling like I never really lived? Those are questions that affect absolutely everyone.

And then the question of whether or not I believe has a lot to do with how I live my life. Am I going to practice some sort of sabbath? Is that going to mean going to church like it does for Christians? On Sundays or Fridays and Saturdays like Jews and Muslims, going to temple or going to mosque? Or is my sabbath going to be the New York Times Crossword puzzle, or just eating brunch, or mowing the lawn? The choice of belief has a lot to do with how we live our lives. Not only on the weekend, but all the time. So these questions take on significance not just at the end of life, but day in and day out. The choice of belief for each individual is also a choice of a lifestyle.

So far we've talked about how every individual must grapple with his or her place in the world and that this cannot happen without having some attitude or some kind of response to the question of the divine and the transcendent. Even atheists and non theistic people must grapple with the question of divinity even if it's just to reject that notion. Each individual has to grapple with the challenges of religious thinking including life, death, meaning and eternity. And religion also affects lifestyle choices like whether or not to observe some kind of sabbath. The vocabulary terms for this lesson are non theistics-- rejecting the doctrine and philosophy of theism, atheistic-- rejecting belief in the existence of God, and the divine-- that which is other than superior to and prior in existence to humanity.

Notes on "Religion and the Individual"

Source: Intro. music and images by David Dillard-Wright

  • Non-theistic

    Rejecting the doctrine and philosophy of theism.

  • Atheistic

    Rejecting belief in the existence of god.

  • The Divine

    That which is other than, superior to, and prior in existence to humanity.