What is religion? Now that you have encountered three religions- primal, Confucianism and Taoism – Develop a definition of religion based on your empirical study of those three religious traditions. Choose three shared elements or features of these religions that you consider essential to them. Be sure to explore these features across all three religions. Ideally, your defining elements or features will emerge from your study so far (try not to impose your own, preconceived categories on these traditions). If you get stuck, do not consult Webster! Huston Smith offers two very nice discussions of what constitutes religion in his chapters on Confucianism and Buddhism. The best essays will draw not only on the descriptions in Smith, but will provide illustrations from Van Voorst’s collection of scriptures. Remember to advance a claim, make an argument, and support that argument with evidence from our readings.
To do excellent work on the essays, you should incorporate what you’ve learned from Smith, supported by scriptures from the Van Voorst readings, your classmates’ Reflect posts, and your web research (these last two are helpful but less crucial). Your essay should take a position, make an argument and support that argument with reasons and examples. A mere description of a religion does not count as an essay. The essays are due by 11 PM of the assigned date, and will be posted to the appropriate folder of the Discussion Board (First Essays, Final essays). Please put them in .doc format (older style word), .docx or else paste them in the message box.