CONCEPTS

What is religious knowledge?

We explain what religious knowledge is, its function, characteristics and examples. In addition, its relationship with other types of knowledge.

  1. What is religious knowledge?

It is understood by religious knowledge or religious knowledge which is based on an unprovable belief system. It serves as moral, ethical or emotional support for human behavior , proposing its link with the sacred: God, divinity, spirit, etc.

Generally this type of knowledge is organized around a specific creed , collected in one or more mystical or sacred texts. They are guarded, taught and interpreted by religious institutions , such as the different churches and priesthoods that exist.

In general, this type of knowledge is inherited over several generations . Therefore, it houses an important cultural value and has served at different times of humanity to organize moral , social and even political to the community .

For the rest, religious knowledge responds in its own way to a set of doubts and questions of existential type that humanity has had since its earliest times. In doing so, it can provide containment, tranquility and meaning to an existence that, for many, can become empty or distressing, lacking a final meaning.

In fact, much of the world’s artistic and philosophical production has been influenced, motivated by religious knowledge. However, in many other cases, that kind of knowledge can enter into contradiction and even competition with rational type knowledge.

  1. Characteristics of religious knowledge

Religious knowledge, first of all, is dogmatic: it is accepted or not, but it lacks demonstrable logical arguments , but is based on faith. He proposes, in different ways, that human beings are the fruit of divine creation and that therefore we should worship the creator.

Consequently, it imposes certain moral and ethical precepts, expressed as a doctrine . This may or may not be guarded and taught by a church: a social organization that aims to perpetuate a specific faith.

On the other hand, religious knowledge is put into practice through rituals and prayers, usually based on the repetition and forging of community ties between believers, so it also serves as a social meeting point and the constitution of a “we” organized. In fact, many wars were fought in ancient times for imposing one faith on another.

Religious knowledge, then, is unquestionable and is governed by its own logic, which generally distinguishes between good and evil , or between right and sinful, depending on the values expressed behind each religion. For example, Christianity is a doctrine of guilt, while the religion of ancient Greece was based on honor and balance.

Finally, religious knowledge is usually collected in sacred books , which can be one or different volumes, and that usually mix the narrative with the ordinances, with the prayers and with the historical-religious account. The Bible, the Koran or the Talmud are examples of this.

  1. Examples of religious knowledge

samsara buddhism religious knowledgeSamsara’s wheel reflects a cyclic conception of existence.

Any religious practice is a good example of knowledge of this kind. For us the best known are the Catholic Christian traditions , with their saints and the abundant hagiographic literature (on the life of the saints), and with their New Testament.

On the other hand, there are also different Vedic traditions of India and Hinduism , with its wheel of life, its Samsara and its reincarnation circuit. We can also mention the African mysticism of Santeria (Yoruba religion) in the Caribbean.

  1. Relationship with other types of knowledge

In the West, philosophical tradition and religious thought have a common basis . This is because in the Antiquity the distinction between religious thought and scientific or empirical thought did not exist, but they were all the same thing, often called Philosophy .

This trend remained for many centuries. In the European Middle Ages , the Christian faith was imposed on all discourses, including the philosophical one , and prevailed as supreme value. Any question that contradicted the Christian faith was branded as sinful and could hit the stake with its author.

However, the secularization of society (for example, the rupture between the State and the Church) engendered the possibility that reason took the place that faith once had. That is to say that in the Modern Age religious knowledge was displaced by the scientist .

This change marked the end of the Middle Ages and the Old Regime and gave way to a modern world, guided by science and faith in human reason, rather than in divine designs. Thus religion came to occupy a secondary, personal, almost intimate place in the life of the people .

  1. Other types of knowledge

Other forms of knowledge are as follows:

  • Scientific knowledge . It arises from the application of the scientific method to the different hypotheses that arise from the observation of reality . These hypotheses must be demonstrated through experiments and ultimately aim to discover the laws that govern the universe.
  • Empirical knowledge . It can be obtained through direct experience, repetition or participation. It does not require an approach to the abstract, but arises from things themselves.
  • Philosophical knowledge . It comes from human thought, in the abstract, by employing various logical or formal reasoning methods . It is not always clear directly from reality, but from the imaginary representation of the real.
  • Intuitive knowledge . It is acquired without formal reasoning, quickly and unconsciously. It is usually the result of inexplicable processes.

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