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Summary of World Views about Word

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BIG QUESTIONS:  

   Is every word of the Koran/Bible/Holy Book true?
    What’s the difference between the Bible and Harry Potter?
    Are all religious books are myths?
    Why should we listen to stuff that happened 2500 years ago?
    Aren’t they just books that tell you what to do and think?
    Does the word ever stop?


COMMON THEMES:
All the worldviews represented here emphasised the importance of words and writing, whether Book(s), the Law, Scripture or traditions:
    •    All traditions emphasised respect for words and texts as sources of knowledge and guidance
    •    The religious contributions from the different faiths mainly emphasised (in different ways) the Divine original of scripture, but most accepted wide differences in interpretation
    •    Within different traditions there were wide variations in the authority of the Books and the extent to which different interpretations and updating were acceptable
    •    There is a very wide variety of contents in many important texts
    •    The key texts can be seen as vehicles for exploring the big questions rather than providing literal answers


DISTINCTIVE VIEWS:
The Muslim contribution focuses on the fundamental importance of the revealed word:
    •    For Muslims, the Qur’an is the ‘Diving, Eternal, Un...., Literal Word of Allah revealed to Mohammed
    •    The Qur’an is seen as the completion of other revelations (eg Moses and Jesus)
    •    Great respect (beautifying, washing before touching) is given to the Qur’an
    •    A main duty of Muslims is studying and trying to understand the Qur’an - so there are different understandings and traditions in different groups and cultures
    •    The Qur’an should be learnt and read aloud slowly in the original Arabic


The Sikh contribution also emphasises respect for the scriptures:
    •    The sacred text for Sikhs is the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the words of the Guru
    •    Sacred texts (short extracts) are used as guidance in everyday life
    •    The holy book and its teachings are given the greatest respect
    •    This respect extends to all books, which should be well-treated


The Buddhist contribution gives particular respect to the words we use:
    •    Right speech is a key part of training in the Buddha’s eight-fold path
    •    This means we must not tell lies, use divisive or abusive speech or idle chatter
    •    Words are dangerous as well as precious: using (eg) humour wrongly can cause conflict
    •    The origins, and sounds of words in the oral tradition are also important
    •    Meanings can emerge through repetition and meditation
    •    Words can only point the way to spiritual reality which is beyond human speech


The Christian contribution sees the Bible as the foundational book of Western culture as well as Christianity:
    •    The Bible underpins or influences most aspects of our culture, law, morality, art, literature
    •    But the Bible is also a living, popular book (selling millions of copies every year!)
    •    Some Christians see the Bible as an infallible, literal set of answers to all life’s questions
    •    Others see it is an endless source of questions exploring life’s questions through myths and stories as well as laws and spiritual guidance
    •    The Bible also contains history, poetry, drama, comedy, letters, philosophy, law, etc and a vision of the world in all its diversity
    •    Different cultures, individuals and groups (eg African/Americans; Conservative Evangelicals/Catholic Liberals) interpret the Bible in different ways


The Hindu contribution emphasises the diversity of texts:
    •    There is a huge range of Hindu texts which are seen as scriptures
    •    Scripture is not seen by Hindus as having the same status as in Western/Abrahamic religions
    •    The four Vedas, containing the Upanishads, express spiritual experiences of sages and seers
    •    The scriptures of authority discuss the nature of reality rather than concept of God.
    •    The Bhagavad Gita is central scripture because it explains how religion can be turned into practice.


The Humanist contribution emphasises:
    •    Language and writing are vital human inventions for science, history, art
    •    Knowledge about the world is not revealed but acquired through reason and experience
    •    Stories give our lives colour and meaning, and can express moral truths
    •    Humanists can look for and find some truths about human nature and ethics in many different “holy books” without being committed to the ultimate truth of any one of them


The Jewish contribution has a particular focus on revelation:
    •    The revealed word of God through the Torah, Commandments, Covenant has been the focus of Jewish life for millennia
    •    Different traditions interpret the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses in different ways
    •    The Torah contains many more detailed injunctions, some of which are now rejected by many Jewish groups
    •    The belief that God made a special Covenant with the Jews as his chosen people is also interpreted differently by different groups: other groups also have special roles