1. (Prepared by: Valentin D. Batoc)
INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIGIONS AND BELIEF SYSTEMS
Most Essential Learning Competency:
Differentiate the concept, elements and characteristics of belief system, world
view, religion, and spirituality.
Differentiate the concept, elements and characteristics of belief system and
world view religion.
•understand the dynamics of the different elements and characteristics of
the belief system, world view and religion.
• appreciate the importance of one’s own beliefs and views as a believer of
•apply these beliefs in your interaction with your fellowmen, the world,
nature and God.
World View and Belief Systems
Since childbirth there are rules or traditions that are imposed to you by your
parents and society where you belong. “Do this because this is right.” “Be good to
others!” “Huwag kang gumawa ng masama kung ayaw mong ma-karma.”. These are
simple reminders of our parents. When you are brought to the school for your
education, same values or beliefs are being strengthened. In some period in your life
you became a member of a religious organization or perhaps by tradition. The beliefs
and values that you learned from your parents and school are reinforced by the
teachings of that specific religion. All that you have learned from your parents,, school,
religious affiliation and other influences became your belief system and your
worldview. Carol Hill describes worldview, as “By worldview (or belief system) I mean
2. the basic way of interpreting things and events that pervades a culture so thoroughly
that it becomes a culture’s concept of reality-what is good, what is important, what is
sacred, what is real. It is more than culture, even though the distinction between the
two can sometimes be subtle. It extends to perceptions of time and space, of
happiness and well-being. The beliefs, values, and behaviors of culture stem directly
from its worldview.” (Hill, 2007) Often times you are not conscious of your own
worldview unless it is challenged or dared by other belief system. A very simple
definition of a “worldview” is given by Matt Slick. According to him a worldview is a set
of beliefs used to understand the world. Everyone has a set of principles by which to
judge right and wrong and which guides them in everyday living. You stop at a red
light and go at a green. ( Cornejo, et al, 2019). Google has a simple definition, it says,
”Belief systems are the stories we tell ourselves to define our personal sense of ‘reality’
(the way things actually exist). Every human being has a belief system that he/she
utilizes and it is through this mechanism that we individually “make sense” of the
world around us.” It could be a set of beliefs or a philosophy of life. Belief system
shapes your worldview about the world, your existence, and relationships with your
fellowmen. In other words, “ a worldview whether religious or nonreligious, is a
personal insight about reality and meaning, often termed a “life understanding” which
I may call a product of belief systems. Most often worldviews are shaped by religions.
Inside the box are worldviews about man’s perspective of God. (Serapio,2016).
Examples of Belief Systems
1.Naturalism (e.g. Atheism, Agnosticism, Existentialism). It denies the existence of
God. The material universe is all that exist.
2. Pantheism ( e.g. Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism; much New Age Consciousness.
They believe that only the spiritual dimension exists. All else is illusion. Man is
spiritual and eternal.
3.Theism (e.g. Judaism, Christianity, Islam). They believe that an infinite, personal
God exists. God created the real world. People are created in the image of God.
4.Spiritism. The world is inhabited by spirit beings who govern earthly activities.
Man is created by gods like the rest of the creatures on earth. Material things are real
but they have spirits associated with them.
3. 5. Polytheism: This is the belief in many gods or deities. The culture of Ancient
Greeks and Romans depict this kind of beliefs.
Worldviews are not all about God, but these are also about our views about
reality, man, truth and values. There are also economic, political and social
worldviews. Worldviews and belief systems are necessary for religions in order to
protect and spread their own particular belief as a way of “keeping the faith” through
generations. Catholic Christians keep in their hearts the “Apostles’ Creed”, the
Muslims practice “the five pillars of Islam”, the Shinto reveres the dead ancestors or
“Kami”, the Confucians hold dearly the necessity of past traditions, and the Taoists
embrace the importance of being close to nature.(Cornejo et al, 2019). Your beliefs
shape your worldviews but your beliefs and worldviews are oftentimes shaped by
religion. There is a complex interplay between religion, belief and worldview. Religions
have different elements and characteristics which are non-negotiable. Members should
follow or undergo the process to become a genuine believers.
The elements of religions written by Maria Perpetua Arcilla-Serapio lay-down
these basic characteristics at least for the major religions. They are;
1. Belief in supernatural powers: the power which is beyond human powers. The
human sufferings enable human being to seek God’s help for their problems.
2. Belief in the holy or sacred: This is the heart of every religion. Every religion has
sacred books or texts. For example, Scriptures and the Bible are sacred for the Jews
and so with the Christians, Qur’an for Muslims, and Tripitaka for Buddhists and
Vedas for Hindus. But something sacred is not just books but also places, symbols,
animals, rocks and many more. Hindus for example believes that cows are sacred
because of their beliefs in reincarnation.
3. Systems of rituals: these are the different ways each religions expresses their faith.
Catholic Christians have the seven sacraments which include ceremonies and rituals.
For example, Baptism. A child must be baptized at an early age in the church with the
presence of parents, God parents, priest as celebrator and the community that
supports the child. The most important symbol of baptism is –water. It symbolizes
cleansing from sin. The child also has to wear white dress to symbolize purity.
4.Sinful acts : usually a violation of the laws established by God which each
members has to follow. For example the Ten Commandments for Judaism and
4. Christians and the Five Pillars of Islam which when violated the believer commit a
5.The Method of salvation: the belief in the afterlife or the idea of heaven and hell. If
you are a good believer you will go to heaven but if not, you will go to hell. Islam went
further by believing that if one’s life is sacrificed against the enemies of Islam, their
soul go straight to heaven.
6.Mode of worship: each religions has different expressions of worship which include
praying, kneeling, dancing, singing to name a few.
7.Liturgy and Ideology: Liturgy is described as public worship. It is a gathering of
believers with ceremonies such as wedding ceremonies, worship services or bible
8. Place of worship: Each religion has holy places which they believe God is present
such as churches, temples, mosques and other sacred places. The elements or
characteristics of religions mentioned above are necessary for a particular religion to
perpetuate their worldviews and belief systems
Activity 1. Song Analysis
Objective: Analyze the nature of God presented in the Song.
1. Listen or read the song “Who Am I.”
2. Prepare a separate paper for your answer.
3. Answer the questions below? Who Am I ( I am Yours) Casting Crowns
5. Critical Thinking Questions:
1. What does the song “Who am I?” say about who we are as a person?
Who am I that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my heart?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
From my ever wondering heart?
Not because of who am I
But because of what you’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done,
but because of who you are
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean A vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I’m calling
Lord you catch me when I’m falling
And you told me who am I
I am yours.
Who am I, that the eyes that seen my sin
Will look on me with love And watch me rise again?
Who am I the voice that calm the sea Will call out to the rain
And calm the storm in me? Whom shall I fear,
whom shall I fear?
I am yours
6. The song says a lot about us as a living human. We are sinners, acting out many
injustices, especially because of our nature. We have inner storms, fractured
fragments of reality, living in a world full of inequity. We are soon to fade and we
are here temporarily like a flower. We are limited. We ask questions beyond what
we can’t understand yet. We seek to find comfort, to find something to feel the void.
We are in need of assistance of something that’s greater, bigger, all-knowing, and
capable of loving.
2. What kind of God is presented in the song? Why?
The kind of God presented in the song is a God that gives you meaning, an
identity, a purpose, and love. The God in this passage is a generous and
merciful God who is able to give the needs of His people even if His people
despise Him. He is an all-knowing God yet is humble to care for one person out
of billions. He is faithful.
3. How does faith in God provide answers to life’s questions? Give example from
your concrete experiences.
Faith in God provides answers to life’s question by providing peace, love, and
comfort. There are many questions in life we may not be able to answer right
away but faith provides an assurance of something great despite the unknown.
There are so many instances that God revealed Himself to me in times of faith
and even during the times of little faith. However, what matters most to Him is
the presence of faith no matter what size because He knows He is able to grow
this faith if we keep this in Him. There was a point in my life where I thought so
much about the mountains of life, mountains that seem insurmountable or too
difficult to move. Yet even with the littleness of energy and mustard sized faith
laid down to His feet during a body battled prayer, He has already something in
mind and He has placed these mountains. Little did I know, He planned it out
before I even encountered it, and it only requires faith to bear all other things.
He used people in my life and He has given me a person so dear to my heart
that I will be with to be able to help me in life.
7. CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING
SINO AKO! A STRANGER FROM OUTER SPACE
Directions: Think of what these factors (worldview, belief systems, religion, values)
would help you in your direction towards life. You can present their influences
through a semantic web as shown below; For example you can start by writing,
“Religion makes me a better person.”
These things help
me live a life of
love, kindness, and
Loving God is
throws a stone
at you throw a
8. Critical Thinking Questions:
1. What did you discover after accomplishing the task?
I have a clearer view of the purpose of my beliefs, views, and religion –
enabling me to realize the reasons of many actions of mine. Also, I rediscovered
that I value unconditional love and gives direction to my life.
2. What did you feel when you encountered these situations? Which specific part
of our discussion did you apply in your situation?
I have felt the need to be more grateful about things. In my current
situation, I am applying my faith/belief system on my worldview and still
continue to choose the good or lovely things I believe in to be the basis of my
thoughts and actions.
3. As a student, how does your own belief system help you to become who you are
at the moment?
It helps me be reminded of the things I must do or think of in life. My
own belief system provides me how I must handle things or react to things even
if I may not be aware of what the future holds.
•Worldview – worldview is a set of beliefs used to understand the world. The basic
way of interpreting things and events that pervades a culture so thoroughly that it
becomes a culture’s concept of reality-what is good, what is important, what is sacred,
what is real.
• Belief system
- are the stories we tell ourselves to define our personal sense of ‘reality’ (the way
things actually exist)
• Religion- Etymologically, the word came from ‘Religare’ - a Latin word which means
to bind fast or hold together, to secure, to bind,to fasten together, to create a system of
attitudes and beliefs.
• Naturalism- denies the existence of God. All that exist is the material universe.
•Deism- believes that God or gods created the universe but God or gods no longer actively
involved in the continuous process of creation.
•Theism- It means that God or gods created the Universe and continued to actively participate of the
world’s activities and in human history.
9. • Panentheism- means that God or gods are the inner spiritual essence of everything in the Universe.
• Monotheism- a belief in one God.
• Polytheism - a belief in many gods
• Sacred – something that possesses holiness.
•Religious Rituals – religious rites," which are the sacred, customary ways of celebrating a religion or
Distinguish the characteristics of religion, spirituality and theology.
• broaden your knowledge of the concepts presented above;
• appreciate the uniqueness of each concepts; and
• observe their effects in your relationships with yourself, others and God.
Human beings since time immemorial continue to raise questions that have
been asked again and again such as Does God exists? Why are you here? Where did
you come from? Who created us? And where are we going? Our longing for answers
enable human beings to depend for a divine power or supernatural being hopeful for
some answers to the riddles of life. In the process, a person searching for profound
answers is the beginning of his encounter with the divine. Hence religion was born.
Religion does not happen in a vacuum it develops in a certain space and time. In this
lesson we are going to explore the interconnectedness of geography and culture as the
grounds for the development of religion.
Religion and Spirituality When you become a member of a religious
organization, you normally sacrificed your personal worldview in favor of the religious
world view or set of beliefs offered by that organization. Religion invites a person into a
spiritual relationship with some divine entity. This spiritual relationship stemmed
from the belief that there is a life after this world which is more important than
physical life. Hence it is the role of religion to invite all persons to believe in God for
them to be saved from this world. Religion, etymologically is defined as coming from
the Latin world, “religare” or which means “to bind” or “ to tie. “However, Oxford
10. English Dictionary points out though that the etymology of the word is doubtful. Early
writers like Cicero connected the term with “relegere” which means “to read all over
again.” (Cornejo et al, 2019). Some persons even gave a negative definition of religion
like Karl Marx, the founder of Communism. He said the religion is the opium of the
people. It means we become so dependent with God that we rely everything to him and
we undermine our capabilities as human beings Popular view holds that you should
become a member of a religious organization to cultivate your spiritual life. Their views
lead to the misunderstanding between Religion and Spirituality. The question is: Is
religion the same as spirituality? Can you become a spiritual person without being a
member of a religious organization? What is the difference between being religious and
being spiritual? Deepak Chopra has a very interesting differentiation between religion
and spirituality. He said, “Religion is a belief to someone else’s experience while
Spirituality is having your own experience.” Let us take a look at this illustration
below to emphasize their differences by starting with questions. (taken from the book,
“Fundamentals of World Religions” authored by Cornejo,Nigel,Ebia, Erlito and Ferrer,
For religion the questions are: What is
true or false? What is right or wrong?
Where do I belong? What rituals,
sacraments should I do?
For spirituality the questions are:
Where do I find meaning? What is my
purpose? Where do I find my direction
in life? What are my values?
From the questions above you can deduce that religion and spirituality
have different concerns. Spirituality is more of a personal experience concerns with
what are the essentials in life while religion focuses more on membership, rituals,
right and wrong or truth and falsity. Religion is more legalistic in terms of practice of
beliefs while spirituality entails more freedom in exercising what they believed. For
Dejan Davchevski, religion and spirituality are two different phenomena
Religion makes us vow Spirituality sets us free
Religion shows us fear Spirituality shows courage
Religion tells us the truth Spirituality allows us to discover the
Religion separates from other religions Spirituality unites them
Religion makes us dependent Spirituality makes us independent
Religion applies discipline Spirituality applies destiny or faith
Religion makes us follow its journey Spirituality allows us to create our own
Going back to the question, “Can you become a spiritual person without
becoming a member of a religious organization? Definitely the answer is ,”Yes.” The
line between what is spiritual or religious may not be always clear or distinct
depending on the interpretation. (Serapio, 2016). At this point, I think you can now
describe the characteristics between religion and spirituality. The descriptions above
are not exclusive for each other. In fact, religion and spirituality can blend
harmoniously as Serapio expressed. The kernel of religion is spirituality, and the
essence of spirituality is God or the Supreme Being (Serapio, 2016). She added that
Spirituality is: 1. Beyond all religions yet containing all religions. 2. Beyond all science
yet containing all science. 3. Beyond all philosophy yet containing all philosophy
Religion and Theology Most often theology and religion brought confusion in terms of
meaning and practise. Theology also believes about God just like religion but it utilizes
more the intellect to understand everything about God rather than faith alone.
Theology is a systematic study of God just like other disciplines such as philosophy,
psychology, sociology and other sciences. The priests, pastors, ministers or even lay
people must undergo theological trainings before they are ordained to become a priest
or pastor or minister. Theology is normally taken in the Seminaries or theological
schools as an academic subject. A priest who is a major in theology should undertake
a four-year course to get an AB Theology degree. Then he proceeds his masters and
doctoral degree in theology to become full pledge theologian. There is a saying that
most theologians lost their faith in God because they use only their mind in knowing
God more than faith. Philosophical theology: Philosophy uses reason to explain the
essence or the ultimate reasons why things exist and where they come from.
Philosophical theology uses reason alone in knowing about God. A famous theologian
in the Catholic Church in the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas exemplify this
approach. His work is called the “Summa Theologiae” wherein one summa is devoted
to the “Five Ways of Knowing God.” Here the existence of God can be proven in five
ways using logical argumentation
12. Activity 1.1. Draw-out
Objective: Ponder on the difference between a religious person and a spiritual person
through a sketch.
Directions: 1. Sketch an image of a person who is “religious” but not spiritual” and a
person who is not religious but a “spiritual” person.
Use separate coupon bonds (short) in your illustration and then answer the following
guide questions below the illustration.
Critical Thinking Questions:
1. How did you feel after accomplishing the task?
I felt light after finishing the task. This is because I’ve expressed my
understanding properly of the 2 kinds of people. I am also reminded of these
kinds of people and how I can keep myself in being spiritual.
2. What important realization/s did you encounter while doing the task?
13. I’ve realized again the vast numbers of religious people that forgets to
really nourish their spiritual being. This may be due to being pressured to do
such obligations or practices or maybe the lack of fully understanding the
concepts of what they practice.
3. Why is it important to distinguish the characteristics of these two concepts?
It is important to distinguish the characteristics of these two concepts to
be able to distinguish whether or not someone has fully understood and lives by
what they practice. However, it does not mean we should judge people who are
practicing religion but are not yet bearing evident fruits. It is also important to
distinguish these concepts because it helps us value the purpose of our acting
on what we believe in.
How are you now? Are you
ready to continue?. At this point let us focus on your own religion. Regardless of what
religion you belong, there are symbols, rituals which convey meanings. Hence you will
discover what are these symbols, rituals and their meanings found in your religion.
1. Depending on what is your religious affiliation, interview a priest, minister,
imam, rabbi, or guru about what is the most important symbols, rituals in their
respective religions or if they are not available any believer of the mentioned
CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING
14. According to one of my interviewees, the most important symbol for them is the
the corpus cross. This is because it symbolizes Jesus Christ and is also used in
prayer which is the ‘sign of the cross’. If someone has the cross means they believe
in Jesus Christ. The most important ritual for Catholicism is baptism because it
cleanses you from the sin of the first generation which is Adam and Eve.
As stated by one of my respondents, the most
important symbol for Islam is the crescent and
star symbol. The moon means progress and the
star as light and knowledge. This symbolism is
said to be used as the guide for navigation of
travellers from Arabia, resembling the guidance
to Allah. In rituals, the respondent said that
prayers are the most important ritual in Islam
and it is done 5 times a day. This is because it is
the keys or way to get into Jannah, or the
c. BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN
As a born-again
Christian, I say the
most important symbol
15. for us is the bare cross. This is because it signifies the death of Christ on the cross but
also conveys that He has risen. The same way with other Christians, baptism is also
as important to us because it is one of the first steps for rebirth, after accepting Christ
through prayer and through orientation sessions. Another most important practice for
us is the daily devotional prayer, a time it is needed to ‘be alone with God’. It has
prayers/intercessory prayers and reading the Gospel which can be done through
writing or journaling. It should be done out of willingness or desire to know and build
a relationship with your Creator. We also honor the act of obedience because it shows
your soundness of heart or love for God.
d. IGLESIA NI CRISTO
The most important symbol for Iglesia ni Cristo is their
logo. The INC doesn’t have a cross but instead they use
this logo or their flag. Yet the respondent said it is only
for identification and not the center of worship. The
most important practice for them is to learn and apply
the doctrines. Baptism for them is like graduation
because it will only happen when you pass the
qualifications to be a full pledged member of INC. To
pass this, you must be able to apply the doctrines.
Critical Thinking Questions:
1. Based from the activity, what is/are your realizations? Note: (Your answer
should be included in your portfolio.)
I’ve come to realize that the said religions have great similarities.
However, two of them, INC and Islam don’t have a cross. Yet Islam is never far
from the other Christians because it also came from the patriarchal age of
Abraham. Surprisingly, INC doesn’t use any cross but only has their logo for
identity purposes. Out of all symbols, Catholicism and Born Again Christians
have almost the same symbols. The only difference between them is that
Catholics use the corpus one to remind Christ’s death and the Born again uses
the bare one to signify both Christ’s death and resurrection.
16. In the rituals, I believe all of them values prayers but Islam does not have
or require a baptism. I also believe that they all value practicing all their
learnings, values, or lessons in whatever form it comes.
All in all, they may have similarities and differences but I believe they all
strive to live by what they desire to practice, thus, being able to live in peace
with everyone around them – a universal Christian value.
•Religion- etymologically came from the Latin word ‘religare’ which means “to bind”
or “to tie” or some authors use the word ‘relegere’ meaning to read again.
•Spirituality – tends to be more personal compared to religion which is more
organized and institutional.
•Theology- Is defined as the systematic study of the nature of the Divine and, more
broadly, of religious belief.
•Philosophical Theology – is the study of knowing God through the use of logical
•Sacred – something that possesses holiness. It could refer to things, places, symbols
or divine entity,
Religious Rituals – religious rites," which are the sacred, customary ways of
celebrating a religion or culture. • Animism - is defined as the belief in numerous
spiritual beings concerned with human affairs and capable of helping or harming