World Religions Project Mr. Spooner’s Social Studies 2010/2011 World Religions

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World Religions Project

Mr. Spooner’s Social Studies





World Religions

I Cans’ and Essential Question

By the end of the project, students will be able to:

  1. Exhibit their understanding of the history of religion by studying the people and events that ushered in the dawn of the major Western and non-Western ancient practices.

  1. Consider why religions developed where and when they did, why they became dominant.

  1. Analyze the interactions among the various religions, emphasizing their enduring contributions.

Essential Questions:

  1. Why did these religions flourish?

World Religions


This project is designed to help you learn and understand the foundations of the top religions of the world.

Upon completion, you will be able to identify the similarities and differences of these doctrines.

The Process


  1. Students will gather information (based on chart) found in readings, power points, the Internet, library resources, and classroom videos.

  2. Each religion will have 6 pages that describe (in detail) the characteristics of the religion as it pertains to supplied chart.

  3. Each page should have a title, a summary (synthesizing information gathered), and a graphic found on the computer, photocopied, or created and scanned.

  4. You will then compile information with your teammates and create your digital encyclopedia.



Buddhism is a set of teachings often described as a religion. Many recent scholars regard it as a plurality rather than a single entity. As with other religions, some Buddhists claim that Buddhism is not a religion. Some say it is a body of philosophies influenced by the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as Gautama Buddha. Others say it is teachings to guide one to directly experiencing reality. Buddhism is also known as Buddha Dharma or Dhamma, which means roughly the "teachings of the Awakened One" in Sanskrit and Pali, languages of ancient Buddhist texts.

Buddhism began around 5th century BC with the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in ancient India, and is hereafter referred to as "the Buddha."



Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as depicted in the New Testament. Christianity teaches that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, and that the New Testament records the Gospel that was revealed by Jesus.

Christianity began as a sect within Judaism, and includes the Hebrew Bible (known to Christians as the Old Testament) as well as the New Testament as its canonical scriptures. Like Judaism and Islam, Christianity is classified as an Abrahamic religion.



Hinduism is a religious tradition that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism is often referred to as Sanātana Dharma by its practitioners, a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law".

Hinduism is the world's oldest major religion that is still practiced. Its earliest origins can be traced to the ancient Vedic civilization. A conglomerate of diverse beliefs and traditions, Hinduism has no single founder. It is the world's third largest religion following Christianity and Islam, with approximately a billion adherents, of whom about 905 million live in India and Nepal. Other countries with large Hindu populations include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

Hinduism contains a vast body of scriptures. Divided as Śruti (revealed) and Smriti (remembered) and developed over millennia, these scriptures expound on theology, philosophy and mythology, and provide spiritual insights and guidance on the practice of dharma (religious living). In the orthodox view, among such texts, the Vedas and the Upanishads are the foremost in authority, importance and antiquity. Other major scriptures include the Tantras, the sectarian Agamas, the Purāṇas and the epics Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa. The Bhagavad Gītā, a treatise excerpted from the Mahābhārata, is sometimes called a summary of the spiritual teachings of the Vedas.



Islam is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion originating with the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. The word Islam means "submission", or the total surrender of oneself to God (Allah). An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning "one who submits (to God)". There are between 1.1 billion and 1.8 billion Muslims, making Islam the second-largest religion in the world, after Christianity.

Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad, God's final prophet, and regard the Qur'an and the Sunnah (words and deeds of Muhammad) as the fundamental sources of Islam. They do not regard Muhammad as the founder of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. Islamic tradition holds that Judaism and Christianity distorted the messages of these prophets over time either in interpretation, in text, or both.

Islam includes many religious practices. Adherents are generally required to observe the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five duties that unite Muslims into a community. In addition to the Five Pillars, Islamic law (sharia) has developed a tradition of rulings that touch on virtually all aspects of life and society. This tradition encompasses everything from practical matters like dietary laws and banking to warfare.

Almost all Muslims belong to one of two major denominations, the Sunni and Shi'a. The schism developed in the late 7th century following disagreements over the religious and political leadership of the Muslim community. Roughly 85 percent of Muslims are Sunni and 15 percent are Shi'a. Islam is the predominant religion throughout the Middle East, as well as in parts of Africa and Asia. Large communities are also found in China, the Balkan Peninsula in Eastern Europe and Russia. There are also large Muslim immigrant communities in wealthier and more developed parts of the world such as Western Europe. About 20 percent of Muslims live in Arab countries.



Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people, based on principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the Talmud. According to Jewish tradition, the history of Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham (ca. 2000 BCE), the patriarch and progenitor of the Jewish people. Judaism is among the oldest religious traditions still in practice today. Jewish history and doctrines have influenced other religions such as Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith.

While Judaism has seldom, if ever, been monolithic in practice, it has always been monotheistic in theology. It differs from many religions in that central authority is not vested in a person or group, but in sacred texts and traditions. Throughout the ages, Judaism has clung to a number of religious principles, the most important of which is the belief in a single, omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent, transcendent God, who created the universe and continues to govern it. According to traditional Jewish belief, the God who created the world established a covenant with the Israelites, and revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of the Torah, and the Jewish people are the descendants of the Israelites. The traditional practice of Judaism revolves around study and the observance of God's laws and commandments as written in the Torah and expounded in the Talmud.


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