1) Where do we come from? Why are we here?
2) How ought we to live?
3) Why do we suffer?
4) Why do we die? Is death all there is?
In other words, what fulfills the need for meaning and purpose in human life?
Every major religion has views on the human condition. Think about different religions views of death and the afterlife, for instance. They appear to be quite different, if you compare Christianity and Buddhism. We also might find differences among various branches of religious tradition. For example, Christian beliefs on the afterlife, such as the concept of heaven and hell, differ from traditional Jewish views. Hinduism and Buddhism share a belief in karma and rebirth, yet differ in conceptions of how this operates in human life.
We might also find some unexpected similarities. The Buddhist sect Pure Land, for instance, includes ideas of heaven and hell, although in general, these are absent from Buddhist tradition. Abrahamic tradition is shared by the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian religions. Mystical or contemplative traditions across faiths, such as Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, share interesting similarities as well. Pause and think about how religious beliefs provided the foundation and worldview for many peoples lives during the Middle Ages, as well as today.
You should spend approximately 6.5 hours on this assignment.
Read Module 3 readings.
Choose two different major religions (e.g., Christianity, Islam, Buddhism), and compare how they answer three of the four questions about the human condition presented in the Overview section. The purpose of this essay is to go beyond the basic similarities and differences highlighted in the module discussion and analyze particular responses to questions relating to the human condition. As this is an opportunity to expand our knowledge of different cultures and religions, you are encouraged to research at least one religion very different from a tradition with which you are most familiar. Be specific in your points of comparison and examples.
In your comparison, consider how the environment, culture, or political conditions might have contributed to the formation of particular beliefs or religious practice.
Make sure your research and examples are based on reliable scholarly sources.
Your essay should include a specific thesis statement, in 13 sentences, that provides a map of the essay. Avoid announcing (e.g., In this essay I will compare…) or vague statements (e.g., there are many similarities and differences between these religions). State your conclusion (claim) from your research clearly, indicating specific areas of similarity or differenceyou may want to qualify a claim (e.g., A and B religions differ in respect to X, however). Include an introductory paragraph (focus on the questions in the prompt, rather than a history of the religions), body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each main point of the essay should support your thesis. Be sure to include specific examples for your points that are grounded in evidence.
In your conclusion paragraph, reflect on your process of learning about and analyzing these traditions. Has your exploration of these religions prompted you to think about some of the questions concerning the human condition in a different way? Why or why not?
Include at least two direct quotations from your sources, with citation, and explain the significance of these quotations.
The essay should be 1,0001,200 words, (approximately 35 pages). All written assignments should be double-spaced.
Remember to refer to your Writing Guide posted in the Syllabus module to help with your writing. Look at the examples under the Comparison and Contrast Writing Assignments section of the document. Use the inquiry process below to help guide your thinking.
Submit your essay to the Module 3 Assignment: Essay: Religion and the Human Condition folder.
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