Religion 101: Intro to World Religions

This course's video lessons and quizzes can help you study the history and origins of the world's major religions. Use them to examine the teachings of Confucius and Buddha, survey the Vedas or the Tao Te Ching and compare the monotheism of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. 

Begin your study of world religion by investigating the place of myth and magic in primal religions or examining theories on the origins of human belief systems. Instructors also cover the rituals and basic tenets of the world's major religions and provide you with some insight as to their place in regional history, culture and society. Listed below are just some of the topics covered in this course:

  • Creation myths and mystery cults
  • Greek and Roman religions
  • Hindu deities and sacred texts
  • Buddhism and the Four Noble Truths
  • Teachings of Confucius
  • Taoism and the first principle
  • Triumphs of the Islamic Golden Age
  • Judaism's belief systems and rituals
  • History of the Christian church

Our course on world religion contains plenty of resources to help you sort through the traditions and texts of Eastern and Western religions alike. Work your way through the video lessons or peruse the transcripts to get an idea of key terms and important concepts. There are plenty of illustrations and examples included in both formats, and the instructors practice a teaching style that makes the content both entertaining and easy to digest. When you've finished reviewing the material, you can even take self-assessment quizzes to make sure you've picked up on the lessons' main ideas.

Course Topics

Course Chapter Objectives
Bygone Religions Introduce yourself to the definition of religion as well as theories on religion's origin. Survey types of primal religions and mystery cults. Explore the myths of Babylon, Greece and Rome alongside Meso-American religions and rites of passage.
World Religion: Hinduism Study the origins of Hinduism, its sacred texts and its deities. Get a synopsis of the Bhagavad Gita and the Epic of Ramayana. Differentiate between the Hindu castes, the four stages of life and the four aims. Learn about Hindu rituals, ceremonies and festivals and discover how the invasion of Western culture impacted this religion.
World Religion: Buddhism Examine the founding of Buddhism and the significance of the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and the Middle Way. Find out what's in the Pali Canon and learn about Buddhist monasticism. Discover the origins of the Dalai Lama.
World Religion: Confucianism Consider the beginnings of Confucianism as well as its five relationships. Examine the concept of the dual soul and the teachings of Mencius, Hsun-tzu and Tung Chung-shu. Discover the place of Confucianism in China, Japan and Korea. Identify the distinguishing characteristics of Neo-Confucianism.
World Religion: Taoism Explore the origins of Taoism and get an overview of its texts. Follow the development of institutional Taoism and examine the effects of this religion on science. Identify the differences between sects.
World Religion: Islam Study the biography of Muhammad and examine the Qur'an. Identify the five pillars of the Islamic faith and Sharia law. Survey Ottoman history and assess scientific and cultural advancements during the Islamic Golden Age. Learn to differentiate between Sunni and Shiite sects as well as offshoots of Islam.
World Religion: Judaism Review the differences between monotheism and polytheism. Identify the laws and beliefs of Judaism as outlined in the Torah and Talmud. Develop an awareness of Christian antisemitism in medieval Europe. Study the history of Jewish denominations, holidays and rituals.
World Religion: Christianity Get a synopsis of the Gospels. Consider the early Christian church's persecution and ties to Judaism. Follow the Crusades and assess schisms between Eastern and Western churches. Survey the lives of St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Martin Luther. Consider the impact of the Reformation and the 20th century ecumenical movement.

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