Belief Systems


  • Originated in Africa
  • No holy text
  • Very traditional belief system

Main Beliefs:

  • Worship spirits of nature(trees and animals)
  • Worship ancestors

How Animism affected the culture:

  • Have a great respect for nature

Interesting Facts:

  • Believe that everything has a spirit
  • Oldest religion


  • Originated in Japan
  • No holy text

Main Beliefs:

  • Believe in the spirits of Kami; everything has a spirit
  • Believe their emperor is godlike

How Shintoism affected the culture:

  • Have a great respect for the natural world, especially for past emperors or ancestors

Interesting Facts:

  • Shintoism began around 300 B.C.
  • The worship if Kami is done at public shrines, such as the Atsuta Shrine, or at small home shrines called kamidana.


  • Originated in India and stayed there
  • Began around 1500 B.C.
  • Holy Text: Vedas

Main Beliefs:

  • Reincarnation: the belief that one's soul is reborn into another form until perfection (Brahman) is reached
  • Brahman: the universal spirit;perfection
  • Karma: good deeds you do in your lifetime; if you have good karma then your soul rises, if you have bad karma then your soul can reincarnate in to a lesser being than you were before
  • Dharma: determines what your karma will be; acts or duties you're supposed to do in your lifetime

How Hinduism affected the culture:

  • Hindu's try to live a good life in order to keep moving towards perfection
  • Caste System: social classification system for the Indian people; your soul moves up or down the caste system until you reach Brahman

Interesting facts:

  • Hinduism is the dominant religion in India
  • Hinduism has no real founder
  • Began around 1500 B.C.


  • Originated in India; migrated to Southeast Asia and China, from China it migrated to Korea and Japan
  • Began around 600 B.C.
  • No Holy Text
  • Created by Siddhartha Guatama

Main Beliefs:

  • End your suffering by ending your desires

How Buddhism affected the culture:

  • They learn to accept what life brings to them

Four Noble Truth's:

  • Everyone suffers
  • Suffering is caused by having desires
  • To end suffering, end your desires
  • To end your desires, follow the Eight Fold Path

Eightfold Path:

  • Have the right view
  • Have the right intention
  • Have the right speech
  • Have the right action
  • Have the right livelihood
  • Have the right effort
  • Have the right mindfulness
  • Have the right concentration

Expansion of Buddhism:

  • Began in China but was not accepted there
  • Missionaries spread Buddhism by teaching others about it

Interesting Facts:

  • Hinduism and Buddhism are similar because they both believe in reincarnation
  • Buddha is their God


  • Originated in China
  • Began around 600 B.C.
  • Holy Text: Tao Te Ching
  • Created by Lao-Tse to help maintain order in the Chinese culture

Main Beliefs:

  • Follow the way of nature~accept the things you cannot change

How Taoism affected the culture:

  • They don't challenge the natural process
  • They accept things as they come

Yin & Yang:

  • Yin: femaleness, moon, completion, cold, darkness, Earth
  • Yang: maleness, sun, creation, heat, light, Heaven

Interesting Facts:

  • 'Tao' means the way, as in the way of life
  • Taoism is actually a social philosophy, not a religion
  • Taoism is very similar to Confucianism, because they are both social philosophies


  • Originated in China
  • Began around 600 B.C.
  • Holy Text: Analects
  • Created by Confucius to help maintain order in the Chinese culture

Main Beliefs:

  • All people need to accept their roles in society
  • Lead a good moral lifestyle
  • Government officials should be well-trained
  • Everyone should be well-educated

How Confucianism affected the culture:

  • Had a great deal of respect for parents, elders and country, which is filial piety

Five Relationships of Confucianism:

  • Father over Son
  • Older Brother over Younger Brother
  • Husband over Wife
  • Ruler over Subject
  • Friend is equal with friend

Interesting Facts:

  • Confucianism is actually a social philosophy, not a religion
  • Confucianism was the official state of ideology for the Han Empire


  • Originated in the Middle East by the Hebrew people of the ancient Fertile Crescent area
  • Holy Text: Torrah~ first five books of the Old Testament
  • Began around 1200 B.C.

Main beliefs:

  • Monotheism: one God
  • God will send a Messiah, or savior, to them someday
  • Lead a good moral life

How Judaism affected the culture:

  • Try to follow God's laws(10 Commandments) so the Messiah will come

Ways Judaism is similar to Christianity and Islam:

  • They started in the Middle East
  • Jerusalem is a sacred city for all three
  • Monotheism
  • All follow ethical sets of rules for behavior

Interesting Facts:

  • Judaism was created by Hebrews who were led by Moses to the "promised land", which is now Israel
  • Judaism is considered to be one of the oldest monotheistic religions


  • Originated in the Middle East
  • Holy Text: the Bible
  • Began in the mid first century

Main Beliefs:

  • Monotheism~ one God
  • Jesus Christ is the son of God and he is the messiah

How Christianity influenced the culture:

  • Simple rules won many converts to Christianity

Expansion of Christianity:

  • After the death of Jesus, missionaries spread Jesus' word
  • The roman Empire persecuted Christians, slowly accepted their ideas, eventually accepted Christianity as their official religion, then they spread it throughout the Empire

Ten Commandments of Judaism and Christianity:

  • Thou shalt have no other gods before me
  • Thou shalt not bow down to any graven image
  • Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
  • Remember the Sabbath Day, keep it holy
  • Honor thy Father and thy Mother
  • Thou shalt not kill
  • Thou shalt not commit adultery
  • Thou shalt not steal
  • Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
  • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's possessions

Interesting Facts:

  • Christianity is the world's largest religion
  • Christians believe in the Trinity, which is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


  • Originated in the Middle East
  • Holy Text: Qur'an
  • Began in 600 A.D. by the prophet Mohammed

Main Beliefs:

  • Monotheistic~ one God
  • Follow Allah in all things above everything else
  • Mohammed is the Messiah who spread the work of God

How Islam affected the culture:

  • The religious laws of Islam are so important that they often become the political laws of the nation

Expansion of Islam:

  • Out of Mecca, east to India, west across North Africa, and on into Spain
  • Spread Islam by military conquest
  • Arabs were also great traders

"Five Pillars of Faith":

  • Recite-say each day "there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet"
  • Pray- five times each day, facing Mecca
  • Charity- give regularly to charity
  • Fast- go without food or drink from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan
  • Pilgrimage- try to make a journey to Mecca at least once in your life

Interesting Facts:

  • A person who practices Islam is known as a Muslim
  • Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world

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