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The world’s religions scenario and our course

The world’s religions scenario
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Even in terms of religious matters, the  circumstances we are living in are quite   challenging. Up to a few decades ago, it seemed  secularisation processes were bound to happen, and   religions could not therefore survive unless they  would play but a marginal role. On the contrary,   at the beginning of the new millennium,  we witnessed a true “return of religion”.   Religions have come back, both as places  for spiritual reflection that could provide   the overall guidance and the values  that ideologies could no longer produce   and as movements or establishments that could  affect the public sphere as catalysts of history. Now, if we go into the details of  the matter, in the religious sphere  
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we can find at least three attitudes, quite  often interlaced, which live together in society:   firstly (1), a deep and consistent indifference  to religious experiences, especially in the global   West; secondly (2), in the same areas,  individuals being aware that they have   a multitude of cults and rites, all on a par  with each other, they can choose from (an actual   plurality in the religious sphere); and lastly  (3), a way of experiencing religious phenomena   that is endorsed and expressed in the inflexible  ways of the different forms of fundamentalism. Of course, all such ways of relating to  religious experiences go hand in hand with   people’s traditional ways of living their  faith, although less and less widespread.  
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However, what is really new in the current  scenario is these three dimensions:   indifference, plurality and fundamentalism. So, first we have to keep this situation  in mind. We must remember that religions   are not marginal and that their proactive role  in society cannot be reduced to a fundamentalist   understanding. We have to keep all this in mind  if we want religions, the world’s religions,   to really play a proactive role in promoting  a peaceful coexistence among humans.   This is the intention that inspired the project  of the set of videos that I am going to introduce   now.
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Five figures or experts of the world’s  main religions will be involved in these videos.   Each one of them will describe their  religions, and answer the same questions. What is new about this project in fact is  the perspective that each speaker takes.   In their presentations, they are going to show  that every religion has lessons and behaviours   that encourage people to relate, connect  with and love other humans, not to withdraw   into themselves or to provoke conflicts. In other  words, there is no fundamentalism at the heart of   any religion.
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Quite the opposite: the experience  of all the people who practice a religion, if they   want to stand by its underlying principles, is  one that inspires them to be open, to be accepting   of others, to talk with others.
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That’s  why we called this series of videos:   Religions from the inside. Possibility  and reality of interreligious dialogue. This should come as no surprise. The word that  European languages use to describe this kind of   spiritual experiences – and that applies to  both Western and Eastern contexts, with an   inevitably far-fetched translation – is actually  “religion”. We know that in the European languages   the etymology of the word relates to the concept  of “relationship”, of “bond” (religio/religamen).  
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What the word “religion” actually conveys is a  double relationship: the relationship between   the human being and what the “divine” means;  and then the relationship between humans,   and between humans and the world, which is  actually governed by such primary relationship   with the divine. It is an experience that is  made by all religions, each one in its own way.  
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This is proved by a specific discipline, the one I  am practising myself now: philosophy of religion.
“In terms of religious matters, the circumstances we are living in are quite challenging. Up to a few decades ago, it seemed secularisation processes were bound to happen, and religions could not therefore survive unless they would play but a marginal role, confined to the sphere of the individual’s private conscience. On the contrary, at the dawn of the new millennium, we witnessed a genuine ‘return of religion’ “. (A. Fabris)

Professor Adriano Fabris, the course designer, gives an illustration of the course and explains what will be the leitmotiv of the course.

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Religions From The Inside: Improving Interreligious Dialogue

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