Introduction to World Religions Syllabus for 2021-2022
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Instructor Information

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Byrd Business Building, rm 316

Amarillo Bible Chair, 2501 S Jackson Street 

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Contact me in AC Connect or by phone for an appointment.

Office:  806-877-2489

Cell: 804-852-0515

Course Information

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PHIL-1304-003 Introduction to World Religions


Course Description

A comparative study of world religions, including but not limited to Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Student ResourcesStudent Resources Website

Department Expectations

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Notice to Students enrolled in an educational program for preparation of issuance of certain occupational licenses:

Students enrolled in an educational program in preparation for obtaining certain occupational licenses are potentially ineligible for such license if the student has been convicted of an offense. For further information, please contact:

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(3 sem hrs; 3 lec)

Class Type

On Campus Course

Syllabus Information


Brodd, Jeffrey, et al, Invitation to World Religions, Third Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019; ISBN: 9780190690816


Your textbook, a dictionary, pens or pencils, notebook paper or a notebook, and access to a computer and internet to take quizzes, complete assignments and review class materials. Access to library materials will also be necessary for the successful completion of this course.

Student Performance


Online communication will be achieved between students and the professor by using AC Connect.  It is the student's responsibility to check for email messages and announcements regarding this class by clicking on AC Connect on the Amarillo College home page, and then clicking on the icon identifying this class.  You will be able to communicate with both your classmates and professor, check your syllabus, reviews for the examinations, and find your grades posted there.


Student Learning Outcomes are based on the required Core Curriculum Intellectual Competencies, Perspectives and Exemplary Educational Objectives as defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Course Student Learning Outcomes:  CCIC 1,2,3,4,5 CCP 1,2,5,7,8 EEOSB 1,2,4,5,9,10,12

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  1. Read, analyze, and critique religious texts.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of beliefs, practices, values, and terminology of major world religions.
  3. Trace the historical developments and cultural expressions of world religions.
  4. Articulate key conceptual distinctions in the different world religions.
  5. Communicate understanding of world religions, orally or in writing.
  6. Communicate ways of living responsibly in a world where people have diverse religious beliefs.


Philosophy and Religion are both important parts to the foundation of a liberal arts education. Courses in either philosophy or religion help to provide a deeper understanding of the concepts which have formed human cultures while at the same time helping to develop the students’ skills in critical analysis, their ability to write and interpret texts from all cultures, and to examine the ideas behind theoretical thinking. 


  1. Attendance.  Your presence in class is necessary for completion of this course. If you cannot attend regularly because of jobs or other responsibilities, you should register for an online (WEB) course. Excused absences include illness, family emergencies, and official Amarillo College business.  Communication with the professor is essential. 
  2. Reading.  A careful reading of all the assigned sections of the textbook and all informational sheets given to you in class or online. 
  3. Testing.  Your final grade will be comprised of weekly quizzes, class presentation, and final exam.  
  4. Out of Class Preparation.   
    1. Each student will be expected to do some readings in the sacred scriptures of world religions and explain the reading to the class. 
    2. Assignments of the selected readings will be given near the beginning of the course. 
    3. If a student scores below 70% on an exam or writing assignment, he or she will be required to attend tutoring per the instructor’s directions before being allowed to complete the next assigned work. Free tutoring is available at Ware Tutoring Center, located at Ware Student Commons 1st Floor, 806-371-5458.

5. Participation.  Active participation in our classroom discussions is important. Any doctrinal point-of-view may be expressed if questioned or relevant, but you must speak respectfully to and of your fellow students and the instructor during all class discussions. 

Students Rights and Responsibilities

Student Rights and Responsibilities

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If you are an active staff or faculty member according to Human Resources, use "Exchange". All other students, use "AC Connect (Google) Email".

Expected Student Behavior


In order to not interrupt the class, students are asked to mute all cell phones prior to the beginning of each class session unless you have already explained why your cell phone is needed to your instructor.  Personal computers are allowed for taking notes and/or looking up materials that will contribute to our class discussion.  However, the improper use of cell phones and/or computers is not acceptable.


Your instructor wants this class to be both interesting and fun, but any form of disruptive classroom behavior is not acceptable.


All students are required to follow the AC Student Rights/Responsibilities Statement (Go to  and look under the “campus bookmarks”)

Grading Criteria

COURSE GRADE BREAKDOWN:                          COURSE GRADING SCALE:                 

Quizzes                           70%                                       90-100               A

Research Project            15%                                        80-89                B

Final Examination           15%                                        70-79                C      

                                      100%                                        60-69                D

                                                                                0-59                 F


Regular attendance and classroom participation. 



Week 1 

A. Introduction

  1. Syllabus: requirements academically and attendance
  2. An Invitation to the Study of World Religions
  3. Note: “An Academic Approach to the Study of Religions”
  4. Glossary and index

B. God(s) of the World Religions

  1. See “Ultimate Reality” at the end of each chapter
  • Native American, pg. 35
  • Native African religions, pg. 66-71
  • Hinduism, pg. 94-97
  • Buddhism, pg. 155
  • Jainism
  • Sikhism, pg. 231
  • Zoroastrianism, pg. 357
  • Confucianism
  • Daoism
  • Judaism, pg. 363
  • Christianity, pg. 427-429
  • Islam, pg. 487

    2. Names of “Ultimate Reality”

  • Great Spirit (native American religions) 
  • High God, Amma, (native African religions)
  • Brahman in Hinduism. Monistic and dualistic forms
  • Buddhism denies all gods
  • Allah in Islam; strongly monotheistic
  • Christianity; Trinitarian in Nicene Creed

  C.  Quiz #1


Week 2 

A. Founders/Leaders of World Religions (see chart)

  1. Native American: Black Elk, Lakota leader
  2. Native American: Wovoka, Paiute of Nevada
  3. Native American: Quanah Parker
  4. Hinduism: no founder or historical beginning
  5. Buddhism: Siddhartha Gautama
  6. Jainism: several founding figures called jinas or conquerors; Mahavira, the 24th and last founding figure of this world cycle
  7. Sikhism: Guru Nanak
  8. Confucianism: Confucius (not regarded as the founder)
  9. Daoism: a second branch of the ancient Chinese religion which predated Confucianism by 1000 years. Laozi and Zhuangzi are traditionally recognized as early founders.
  10. Shinto: longest existing Japanese religion, though Japanese live out an eclectic religious tradition. “Born and wed in Shinto; die Buddhist, and live in accordance with Confucian ethical principles.”
  11.  Zoroastrianism (or Mazdaism): founder is believed to be Zarathustra in Iran, between 1300-550 BCE
  12.  Judaism: Moses
  13.  Christianity: Jesus Christ
  14.  Islam: Muhammad

B. Secondary leaders and branches

C. Quiz 2


Week 3 

A. Sacred things/places

  1. Trees, flowers, caves, mountains
  2. The cottonwood tree (Native Americans)
  • The fig tree (Buddhism), or the Bodhi tree, pg. 149, 184, 186
  • Buddha died under some trees, pg. 150
  • Hinduism, pg. 96
  • Oak trees in Greek and Roman mythology; in Germany (8th c. CE)
  • Moses and the burning bush (Judaism)
  • The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Judaism)
  • The Tree of Life (Christianity)
  • The Lotus flower (Buddhism), pg. 187
  • Caves (Muhammad & Islam), Surah 18
  • Mountains
    • Mount Sinai (Judaism)
    • Sermon on the Mount (Christianity)
    • Mount of Transfiguration (Christianity)
    • Granite Mountain (Mormonism)

     2. Sacred and Secular

  • Challenging to define
  • See Eight Theories of Religion, Daniel Pals

B. Quiz 3


Week 4 

A. Sacred Texts of World Religions

  1. Buddha did not leave an authoritative text. Four centuries after his death, monks put Buddha’s teachings to writings called the Pali Canon, or Tripitaka.
  2. Hinduism has no single founder, nor sacred book. Some Hindus look to a group of texts known as the Vedas for their authority. The Triple Gem of Buddhism consists of: Buddha, dharma (his teachings), and the Sangha (the community of followers: monks, nuns, teachers). See Hindu sacred texts.
  3. Islam: Qur’an, the holy text as revealed to Mohammad and the Jewish Scriptures in part.
  4. Judaism: Tanakh (Torah, Prophets, and Writings)
  5. Christianity: The Bible (Old and New Testaments)
  6. Mormons: Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and D & C (Doctrine and Covenants). Look in part to the Old Testament. Book of Mormon is also called the “Third Testament of Jesus Christ.”
  7. Native American and Indigenous African religions: creation myths and stories about life told through animals (the trickster).
  8. Sikh Scripture: the Adi Granth is Sikhism’s most important sacred text. This is true for all Sikhs today.

B. Quiz 4


Week 5  

A. Great Messages of World Religion Leaders

  1. “The Deer Park Sermon” by Buddha, on the Middle Way
  2. “Song of Moses,” Exodus 15, Judaism
  3. “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus; Christianity, Matthew 5-7
  4. “Sermon on Pentecost,” Peter; Christianity, Acts 2
  5. “Sermon on Mars Hill,” Paul; Christianity, Acts 17
  6. “The Exordium: Al-Fatihah,” Surah 1; Islam

B. See PowerPoint on Messages


C. Quiz 5


Week 6 

A.  Charles Kimball, The Great Course Series, University of Oklahoma

B.  The Five Ways

  1. Way of faith
  2. Way of devotion
  3. Way of disciplined action
  4. Way of meditation
  5. Way of mystics

B. Quiz 6


Week 7 

A. See document on the five ways, including the Mystics on "Content" page in Blackboard

B. YouTube videos on mystics

C. Quiz 7


Week 8 

A. Final Exam this week

B. Essay on "Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy?"


The course requirements and calendar outlined above are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances.  Students will be notified at AC Connect, and by email if any changes have to be made to these course requirements or to the course outline.


Additional Information


In the college experience, students encounter diverse views and new subject matter, which expand their knowledge and perspective.  In all Humanities or Philosophy courses, we might observe, read and discuss some works with subject matter that could include (but not be limited to) death, violence, sexuality, race, potentially offensive language, and political or religious viewpoints different from your own.  If any sensitive subject matter is a concern for you, please arrange a meeting with the instructor.

Syllabus Created on:

01/06/22 11:08 AM

Last Edited on:

01/06/22 11:12 AM