I once took a course in college called Religions of the World, which was pretty self-explanatory, and I soon fell in love with the class. It was because of this course that I decided to minor in religion when I was in college.
The class focused on the major religions of the world which have millions of followers, but it did incorporate some of the smaller religions as well.
Religions of the World started with Hinduism, which is believed to be the world’s oldest major religion. Of course, it is a polytheistic religion, meaning that adherents believe that there are multiple gods, and it includes such concepts as reincarnation, meaning that when we die we are born again as someone or something else.
One of the things that surprised me the most was that even though Hinduism is polytheistic and Christianity is monotheistic, there some striking similarities. For instance, in Christianity, there is the concept of the Holy Trinity, one God comprised of three separate entities: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
In Hinduism, there are three deities called the “Trimurti,” which is three deities: Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. They are often called the “Hindu Triad,” with Brahma being the creator.
We then moved on to Judaism in the Religions of the World class, and what is so interesting about this particular faith system is that it is also the basis of Christianity and Islam. In other words, all three religions believe in the same God and have many of the same prophets.
Christianity came next, and what I enjoyed the most about the section on Christianity was that it separated the different branches of Christianity and explained the differences between each denomination. I liked this a lot , because I am a Catholic, and this helped me to understand the customs of most of the Protestant branches of Christianity.
We moved on to Islam, and learned about the Articles of Faith and the Five Pillars, as well as the holy cities in Islam, such as Mecca and Medina.
The Religions of the World class also taught us about Buddhism, with the Eightfold path and the struggle to attain Nirvana. I also learned that Buddhism is one of the major world religions that people of different faiths will become while still remaining a Christian, or Hindu, because it does not require you to change your faith.
Religions of the World was a great class to take because it opened my eyes to so many faith systems and their origins. It helped me to understand why various groups believe what they do, and how their religions were started. I really feel like anybody would benefit from taking such a class.