Religious Expression in Society - Spirituality

Brief Overview of Spirituality in AQA Religious Expression in Society, partially based on previous exam questions.

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What is Spirituality?

Spirituality is a sense of something which is not material e.g.

  • sense of God
  • being at one with nature
  • being in touch with one’s emotions
  • having religious faith
  • believing there is more to life than money.
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The nature of spirituality

Searching for spirituality

  • Many people ask spiritual questions about the meaning of life e.g. 'Why are we here?', 'What happens when we die?'
  • The teachings of religious faith answer these questions for believers.
  • Some non-religious people are concerned about spiritual matters and how to escape from materialism of the modern world

The nature of spirituality

Why is materialism rejected by some people?

They don't believe it brings happiness. Instead, spiritual things bring happiness.

Why can spirituality become a powerful influence in their lives?

The teachings of religion provides believers with spiritual truths with acceptable but not total understandings of the meaning of life and the purpose of it.

These truths can extend into the possibility of an afterlife for some.

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What is spiritual truth?

What is spiritual truth?

What a believer claims to be true about the existence of God, the origin of the universe and/or the purpose of life.

What is some evidence of spiritual truth?

  • Religious authority and sacred scriptures/writings
  • Our conscience - might be the inner voice of God
  • Religious experience
  • The history of religion
  • Scientific theories about the origin of the universe
  • Observation of the natural world

What might these spiritual truths influence for believers?

  • Architecture, Literature, Music, Media
  • Religious community or society
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What is Materialism?


Belief in the importance of personal possessions.

What are materialists concerned with?

  • How they look to others.
  • They consider happiness to come from the latest and best things.
  • They think that outward appearances matter and don't think about spiritual matters.

Give some examples of materialism

  • Buying designer clothes
  • Having the latest gadget
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How is spirituality expressed?

Spirituality can be expressed by:

  • wearing a cross
  • expressing spiritual feelings creatively e.g. art, architecture, literature, music
  • planting a tree
  • spiritual callings (vocations) e.g. becoming a monk or nun
  • helping others e.g. doctor, teacher or seeking oppurtunities to help others
  • carrying a Bible
  • relaxing and enjoying nature
  • meditation
  • singing/worship
  • praying

Remember: some individual's work may be spiritual but not necessarily religious

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Why is spirituality such a powerful influence?

  • provides believers with spiritual truths with acceptable but not total understandings of the meaning of life and the purpose of it.
    • these truths can extend into the possibility of an afterlife for some.
  • gives people hope/sense of belonging
  • great sense of inner peace and wellbeing
  • joint fellowship can bring people closer together and their God
  • encourages people to keep expressing their devotion
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The place of spirituality in the modern world

Is spirituality relevant in the modern world?

  • Most people follow a religion
  • need an alternative to materialism
  • many people who are not religious would still call themselves spiritual
  • spirituality leads to a greater sense of well-being and inner peace than materialism can offer
  • gives people a focus in their life
  • is free, so available to everyone
  • leads to harmony in the world

How is spirituality not relevant in the modern world?

  • Young people are less interested in religion, suggests spirituality is going out of fashion
  • spirituality does not pay for living in the world today, so isn’t practical in today’s world
  • for atheists, there is nothing to believe in
  • our world is based on materialism, so that is what everyone measures success by, and set their values by. 
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The concept of blasphemy

What is blasphemy?

Talk or behaviour that insults God or the gods

How is blasphemy demonstrated - examples?

  • crucified frog
  • religious adopted by mainstream art, and so used outside a religious context, e.g. wearing a cross or a badge with a religious leader on it but having no faith
  • religious satire e.g. Life of Brian
  • Burning a religious document such as the Bible or the Qu’ran
  • vandalising a religious building

Impact of blasphemy on religious people

  • personal offence
  • some may argue free speech is acceptable to a certain extent e.g. joking vs malice
  • some believers have felt so strongly that it has led to protest and violence e,g, Charlie Hebdo attacks
  • may lead to censorship e.g. around 1980 Life of Brian was censored for 28 years

Mark 3:29


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