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HUMA 1860.6 SU — THE NATURE OF RELIGION
This must be an argumentative essay with a proper thesis and a minimum of 800 words and
a maximum of 1200 words (worth 15% of final grade).
Important advice about the essay:
1. Before submitting your essay, we highly recommend that you read through the comments on
your Diagnostic Assignment once they are made available. Consider using the four
deconstruction levels to “construct” an outline of your argument before you begin writing.
Also, check comments for writing: composition is always part of essay assessment. Proofread
and edit/revise your paper before submitting.
2. These essay topics ask you to use the textbook and the course theorists in the construction of
a strong argument/thesis supported by clear and well documented evidence. You will want to
consider the suggested questions as you do your research. The analytical questions that are
provided with each topic are meant to get you thinking about the nature of religion. Do not use
them to structure the sections of your essay. The structure of your essay comes from your
thesis, not the questions.
1. It is very important that you understand that all essays must be argumentative, not merely
descriptive. Your essay must have a clear, coherent and properly written thesis statement.
2. This is a mid-term exam essay assignment and is meant to test your understanding of the
material and your ability to engage with it as a scholar: i.e., comprehension and critical
3. Full MLA (9th edition) formatting and documentation is required. This includes but is not
limited to MLA first page formatting, properly formatted page numbers, in-text citations for
all borrowed ideas and concepts, properly formatted quotations, and a Works Cited page.
Applying MLA requires a significant amount of time to research and fully implement, so it is
recommended that you do not leave it to the end and avoid using a citation generator.
Examples of MLA (9th edition) format for the course texts:
Esposito, John L., et al. Religion and Globalization. Oxford UP, 2008.
Hopfe, Lewis M., et al. Religions of the World, 13th ed. Pearson, 2014.
*In-text: Because of the way the Hopfe eBook is formatted, use chapter and section numbers
for in-text citations, e.g., (Hopfe, et al 8.1). The introduction is Chapter 0. For Esposito, Smart,
and Owen, use page numbers. NOTE: you must cite and document properly all ideas
borrowed from your sources. The following links from Owl Purdue and SPARK are useful
resources. They are also found on eClass.
The SPARK PDF is useful for visualizing, but remember it is the 8th edition. You are
required to use the 9th edition (available at the Owl link above).
4. You must use one-inch borders and a 12-point Times New Roman font.
Your essay must be
between 4 pages minimum (800 words) and 6 pages maximum (1200 words). MLA doublespaces everything.
5. Create a title for your essay that shows insight into the topic and do not simply use: FirstTerm Essay.
6. External Sources: Do not use external sources or websites for this essay. You have all you
need with the course materials to write a superior essay. The challenge is to fully
comprehend the material provided and consider it in a thoughtful way in the context of your
chosen topic. Each chapter of your textbook offers a detailed factual description of the
religion/tradition as it evolved over time, and there are excerpts from primary sources to help
deepen your understanding. The theorists offer you tools to reflect on the nature of religion in
relation to your topic. BUT, if you look at external sources and use what you find there, even
if you paraphrase, you must provide in-text citations and include them in your Works Cited
list. Failure to do so can open an academic integrity investigation.
7. The essay is due no later than Monday, June 20, 11:59 p.m. It must be submitted to the
Turnitin link found on eClass. Late papers are not accepted without a physician’s form
filled out. You must contact your TA no later than Tuesday, June 21 if you miss the
8. The higher grades (Bs and As) are reserved for students who can analyze and argue based on
the information and data found in the readings.
9. If your paper is detailed and repeats faithfully what is in the text but has no specific thesis, the
best you could expect would be a C or C+.
Mid-Term Essay Preamble and Topics
According to Esposito, all religions have stories that help humanity understand “mortality,
morality, and meaning” (17). This claim suggests that the central concerns of the religions are
similar even if the practices and beliefs are diverse.
In addition, your Hopfe eBook (Revel) suggests that the basic nature of the world religions is
similar despite the obvious diversity. The nature of religion, we are told, can be divided into five
(5) main categories (see Introduction and Chapter 1):
1. Gods, Spirits, Forces (Natural and Divine)
2. Stories/Myths, Scripture
3. Rituals, Behaviours
4. Manipulation of the World
5. Social Structures and Moral Systems
Topics (choose only one):
1. Many of the basic concerns and categories offered by Esposito and Hopfe are also found in
Analysis: What does that suggest? What does it tell us about the nature of religion?
Evidence: Provide relevant examples from at least two religions studied this term and draw
upon Esposito and Hopfe to guide your analysis. [You may draw upon the Smart article and/or
the Owen article if appropriate.]
2. The religions we have looked at so far can be monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheistic, or nontheistic.
Analysis: How are we to understand the nature of religion given this seemingly contradictory
Evidence: Provide an appropriate example of a religion studied this term for each of the four
categories (monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheistic, and non-theistic — this means four
religions) draw upon Esposito and Hopfe to guide your analysis. [You may draw upon the
Smart article and/or the Owen article if appropriate.]
3. Daoism can be described as a philosophy or a religion.
Analysis: Which do you think it is and why? Is it an easy distinction? What does the ambiguity
suggest about the nature of religion?
Evidence: Provide clear and thoughtful details from Chapter 8 of the eBook and draw upon
Esposito and Hopfe to guide your analysis. [You may draw upon the Smart article and/or the
Owen article if appropriate.]