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Experiencing the World's Religions, 2/e
Michael Molloy

Understanding Religion


agnosticism    The position that holds that the existence of God cannot be proven.
animism    A worldview common among oral religions (religious with no written scriptures) that sees all elements of nature as being filled with spirit or spirits.
atheism    The position that holds that there is no God or gods.
Carl Gustav Jung    A Swiss psychoanalyst who described religion as something that grew out of the individualís need to arrive at personal fulfillment, which he called individuation.
dualism    The belief that reality is made of two different principles (spirit and matter); the belief in two gods (good and evil) in conflict.
E.B Tylor    Nineteenth-and twentieth-century English anthropologist who saw religion as being rooted in worship of ancestors and nature spirits.
Emile Durkheim    French sociologist who argued that religious behavior is relative to the society in which it is found, and that a society will often use a religion to reinforce its own values.
immanent    Existing and operating within nature.
James Frazer    Scottish anthropologist and author of "The Golden Bough" who saw the origins of religion in early attempts by human beings to influence nature and who identified religion as an intermediate stage between magic and science.
monotheism    The belief in one God.
nontheism    Not asserting or denying the existence of any deity; unconcerned with the supernatural.
pantheism    The belief that everything in the universe is divine.
polytheism    The belief in many gods.
Rudolf Otto    German theologian who argued in "The Idea of the Holy" that religions emerge when people experience that aspect of reality which is essentially mysterious.
Sugmund Freud    Founder of psychoanalysis who theorized that belief in a God or gods arose from an adultís projection of powerful and long-lasting childhood experiences with his or her parents.
transcendent    Not limited by the physical world.
Wilhelm Schmidt    Austrian ethnographer and philologist who argued that all humankind once believed in a single High God and that to this simple monotheism later beliefs in lesser gods and spirits were added.
William James    American psychologist who viewed religion as a positive way of fulfilling needs and praised its positive influence on the lives of individuals.