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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Religious Studies


Discover the World of Religion

What force in all human history has done the most to bring out the best in people, to help in building up human communities, to bring about peace? What force in all human history has done the most to bring out the worst in people, to destroy human communities, and to bring about war?

Religion may be the answer to both of these questions. It’s like the famous beginning of Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Religion can be the occasion for expressing one's highest ideals ... but also for expressing the worst of one's instincts.

Meanwhile, between the lofty and low, religious practices bring order and meaning to the movements of ordinary people's daily lives.

How can the effects of religion be so radically varied? Come discover!

Or take religion’s reputed origins.

Some say religions are created by God, who also created human beings in his image and likeness. Others argue that religions are created by human beings, who also created God in their image and likeness. Still others see a dynamic interplay between these dimensions.

Who is right? Come discover!

Or how about its relative importance in people’s lives?

Religion is for many the most important thing there is, defining and shaping everything they think, feel, and do. But for others it is the very last thing they think about, and when they do give thought to religion, it is only to criticize it, as a regressive force suited only for people who haven’t truly grown up.

Why do opinions about religion often run to extremes? Come discover!