Studies & Degrees in Religious Studies
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Religious Studies Study Programs
Since the dawn of time, man has found meaning or purpose in religion. The Ancients have built monumental wonders and developed philosophies based on their religious beliefs. History tells us how nations and empires were united by religion. Man has found enlightenment and fulfillment in religion. Unfortunately, violence and wars were also waged because of religion. Today, as we read the newspapers, watch the television, or surf the Internet, we encounter these two effects of religion on people. What is Religion? The dictionary may define religion basically as a set of beliefs practiced or agreed upon by a group of persons or sect. Many people find such definitions inadequate. Each group or sect have their own definition of religion according to their perspective. These different perspectives, as history has shown, have led to misunderstandings and conflicts up to the present day in many parts of the world. Despite of this, it's fascinating to see how powerful the influence of religion affect our daily lives no matter what religion one belongs or what religious belief one practices.
In order to have deeper understanding on the motivations of these different religious sects, one can choose to study Religion as a course. Though Religion as a course is considered as a new discipline, interest in the study of religion could have started as early as 550 B.C. Islamic scholars have already studied the beliefs and practices of other religions during the middle ages. In Europe, the study of Religion was formally established in the late 19th century. This was brought about by a surge of interest in the historical analysis of the bible and the translation to European languages of various texts from eastern religions like Hindu or Buddhism. A study in Religion will not make one more or less religious but instead the student will be better informed about his traditions as well as the other person's traditions. The study of Religion is a multi-discipline course which involves other fields like history of religion, anthropology, sociology and philosophy among other things. It is a study of human religious behavior, beliefs and institutions. It applies the scientific approach without any religious bias. The study of religion does not seek to prove the existence of a supernatural entity nor the validity of a religious belief. But instead it focuses on describing and explaining a religion or interpreting a religious belief through scientific observation and historical analysis.
This course is not only for people who are or who would like to become leaders of a religious community like pastors or priests, but this course is also for those whose work or career involves dealing with people of different cultures and beliefs. As the world of today is becoming a global village where people, institutions and companies from around the globe could meet, interact and do businesses like never before, there is a demand for people with skills in critical thinking and cross-cultural understanding. The study of Religion course is an excellent training ground in honing such skills.