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Religions Key to Culture. Religion – Geographer’s View A Religions’ diffusion process across the landscape may conflict with the distribution of others.

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Presentation on theme: "Religions Key to Culture. Religion – Geographer’s View A Religions’ diffusion process across the landscape may conflict with the distribution of others."— Presentation transcript:

1 Religions Key to Culture

2 Religion – Geographer’s View A Religions’ diffusion process across the landscape may conflict with the distribution of others Regional distribution of different religions may result in the potential for conflict Relationship between religion and the physical environment Relgions’ power to modify the landscape. How do humans occupy the Earth? Where are religions located and why are they there?

3 Why are religions important? Religion defines core values and beliefs which is an essential element of the definition of culture Some religions are designed to appeal to people across the world while others focus on a geographically limited area Religious values define identity and how the landscape is defined Most religions require exclusive adherence which requires turning away from local religions Religions migrate with people

4 Universalizing Religions Christianity Islam Buddhism All attempt to be global, appeal to all people regardless of location Consists of branches, denominations and sects


6 Breakout of Religions

7 Universalizing Religions

8 Christianity

9 Christianity Central Belief God was born as a man, was crucified, rose from the dead and will return to resurrect all men of faith

10 Christianity Three Branches – Roman Catholic – Protestant – Eastern Orthodox – Other Multiple Religions claimed by some individuals

11 Distribution of Christians

12 Islam

13 Islam Central Beliefs Five Pillars of Faith – There is one God worthy of worship and Mohammed is his messenger – Face Mecca and pray five times a day – Give generously to charity – Fast during the month of Ramadan – If able, make a pilgrimage to Makkah

14 Islam Predominant in Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia. A strong presence in Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India Two Branches – Sunni (Predominant, 83%) – Shia (Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Oman, 16%)

15 Buddhism

16 Buddhism Central Beliefs All living beings must endure suffering Suffering (a desire to live) leads to reincarnation Existence is to end suffering and escape to Nirvana never to reincarnate again Nirvana obtained via an eightfold path – Rightness of belief, resolve, speech, actions, livelihood, effort, thought and meditation.

17 Buddhism Three branches – Mahayana (56%, China, Japan, Korea) – Theravada ( 38%, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka) – Tantrayana ( 6%, Tibet and Mongolia) Does not require exclusive adherence. Religious functions are performed by monks

18 Ethnic Religions

19 Appeal to specific ethnic groups Usually located in specific geographic areas

20 Hinduism Largest group Concentrated in India (97% of adherents live in India) No “right” approach to theological matters Individuals select method of worship An overarching “spirit” worshiped though gods selected by individuals according to their preferences No single holy book

21 Other Ethnic Religions Confucianism – Ethical principles and orderly conduct Taoism – search for the path or way Shintoism – Divine nature of natural forces and ancestors as Deities Judaism – monothism centered on the Middle East with worldwide decendants Ethnic African Religions – generally animist

22 Diffusion of Universalizing Religions


24 Christianity Primarily through missionary adeherents “spreading the gospel” Middle East to Rome. Hierarchical diffusion through the Roman Empire Colonial spread by Europeans


26 Islam Hierarchical diffusion via Armies and conquest – Palestine – Persia, – North Africa, Spain – Eastern Europe, Turkey Relocation Diffusion – Subsaharan Africa, Southeast Asia

27 Buddhism Slowly Hierarchical via Asoka, Magadhan Empire – Via missionaries to Sri Lanka, Myanmar Contagion – Merchants to China

28 Diffusion of Ethnic Religions

29 Ethnic Diffusion By definition Ethnic religions are isolated Ethnic religions tend to co-mingle with universalizing religions Judaism – – Historical persecution and dispersion – Ethnic connection to religion preserves the practice in spite of distance

30 Holy Places and Conflict

31 Religion a major element of Culture Love, Esteem and Territoriality Convergence between several religions and cultural hearth claims Judaism, Christianity, Islam all have claims on Jerusalem as a center of their faith Centuries of conflict and warfare mark this holy site.

32 Pilgrimages Sometimes central to religious tenets – Hajj of Islam – Tirtha of Hindus – Way of the Cross in Christianity Increased travel capabilities increases demand for access to sites Local improvements in rural areas cater to pilgrims

33 Religious Conflicts

34 Social Change Taliban and Western Values – Strict laws based on Islamic values as interpreted by the “religious students” – Taliban interpretation questioned by Islamic scholars – Fueling fight for control of Afghanistan Hinduism and Social Equality – India caste system steeped in Hindu religious belief – Brahman, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Shudras – Outcasts – untouchables – Leading a good life increases chances of rebirth in a higher caste – Also linked to occupations

35 Religious Wars Ireland – Divided 5/6 independent Eire, 1/6 Northern Ireland (Great Britain province) – Northern Ireland 58% Protestant / 42% Catholic – Protestant Land Owners / Catholic Blue collar workers Palestine – Series of conflicts over the creation of Israel have presented an intractable conflict since 1948

36 Conclusion Religion is a key driver of cultural decisions Differences in belief and the strong conviction of “what God demands” drives conflicts Interpretations of meanings of beliefs fuel warfare and violence, often complicated by territorial imperatives Curious human behavior tied to strong beliefs in God and afterlife

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