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A Question of Faith: Workbook

A Simple Question Toward Ultimate Truth


By Tor Constantino

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Table of Contents
Introduction Basic Knowledge of Religion is Lacking in the U.S. Pew Forums Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz 15 Multiple Choice Quiz Quiz Answers - National Results of the Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz Reflection Questions Part I Growing Lack of Religious Interest in the U.S. Reflection Questions Part II Level of Religious Engagement Personal Assessment Tool Reflection Questions Part III
Notes:

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Introduction
Virtually every civilization on earth has a faith tradition or religious belief that exists beyond the seen world. There seems to be a near universal need to connect beyond the mortal coil of humanity. This workbook is a companion tool to the book titled A Question of Faith: A Simple Question Toward Ultimate Truth. Download the first three chapters for FREE here: http://thedailyretort.com/book/ That book and this workbook are based on three assumptions:
First, that deity exists. Second, absolute truth exists. Third, meaningful insights into both of those previous assumptions can be obtained through faith and religious study. Visit: www.torconbooks.com
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Introduction (cont.)
Each of us faces all kinds of questions every day that need answers. If you are someone who is seeking spiritual insight, I would offer that there is no greater question than what faith to choose and believe. The simple fact is that people rarely give a great deal of thought to their personal religious beliefs and simply adopt the faith system that their parents or family follows or thats predominantly practiced within their respective community or peer group. While thats a perfectly acceptable reason to believe, I had a spiritual curiosity that drove me beyond that approach.
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Introduction (cont.)
The main book, A Question of Faith, and this workbook strive to empower the reader to consider the available options for themselves. The actual book also provides a logical approach to select a faith if they so choose. Some may find that approach controversial, but its intended to drive personal discovery, study and dialogue. Personally, I wish I had a book like this to reference when I went to college because thats where I had a crisis of faith, and I didnt know what to believe at the time. Everything sounded good to me in college, but I lacked a basic understanding of the various religions so I was not prepared to decide for myself. I was overwhelmed by the secular nature and general irreligious regard I experienced on campus. Again I wish Id had the book A Question of Faith and this workbook then.
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Basic Knowledge of Religion is Lacking in the U.S.


We frequently hear news reports citing standardized test results that the U.S. lags other countries in math, science and fluency in other languages. Additionally, Americans are lacking in a basic understanding of fundamental beliefs at the heart of ex-U.S. cultures as well. Technology continues to shrink the globe, forcing us to interact and relate more widely with different cultures and beliefs on a global scale - and Americans simply aren't prepared for that engagement.
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Basic Knowledge of Religion is Lacking in the U.S. (cont.)


For example, basic knowledge of various world religions is severely lacking among Americans according to results from a recent study by the Pew Foundation that can be accessed at the following link. http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-ReligiousKnowledge-Survey.aspx Beyond the executive summary, the Pew Forum web site also lists a 15-question quiz that you can take to determine your general grasp on basic tenets of the major faiths.
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Basic Knowledge of Religion is Lacking in the U.S. (cont.)


Over the next few pages, take Pews short, 15-question quiz to see how you compare with the 3,412 randomly sampled adults who were asked these and other questions in the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey. This national poll was conducted by the Pew Research Centers Forum on Religion & Public Life from May 19 through June 4, 2010, in both English and Spanish. Pick only one of the multiple-choice answers for each question on the following five pages.
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Pew Forums Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz


1.) Which Bible figure is most closely associated with leading the exodus from Egypt? Elijah Moses Abraham 2.) What was Mother Teresa's religion? Catholic Jewish Buddhist Mormon Hindu 3.) Which of the following is NOT one of the Ten Commandments? Do not commit adultery Do unto others as you would have them do unto you Do not steal Keep the Sabbath holy Visit: www.torconbooks.com
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Pew Forums Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz (cont.)


4.) When does the Jewish Sabbath begin? Friday Saturday Sunday 5.) Is Ramadan? The Hindu festival of lights A Jewish day of atonement The Islamic holy month 6.) Which of the following best describes the Catholic teaching about the bread and wine used for Communion? The bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The bread and wine are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
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Pew Forums Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz (cont.)


7.) In which religion are Vishnu and Shiva central figures? Islam Hinduism Taoism 8.) Which Bible figure is most closely associated with remaining obedient to God despite suffering? Job Elijah Moses Abraham 9.) What was Joseph Smith's religion? Catholic Jewish Buddhist Mormon Hindu
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Pew Forums Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz (cont.)


10.) According to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, is a public school teacher permitted to lead a class in prayer, or not? Yes, permitted No, not permitted 11.) According to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, is a public school teacher permitted to read from the Bible as an example of literature, or not? Yes, permitted No, not permitted 12.) What religion do most people in Pakistan consider themselves? Buddhism Hindu Muslim Christian
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Pew Forums Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz (cont.)


13.) What was the name of the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation? Martin Luther Thomas Aquinas John Wesley 14.) Which of these religions aims at nirvana, the state of being free from suffering? Islam Buddhism Hinduism 15.) Which one of these preachers participated in the period of religious activity known as the First Great Awakening? Jonathan Edwards Charles Finney Billy Graham
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Pew Forums Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz: ANSWERS


Question Correct Answer % of Survey Respondents Answering Correctly
72% Notes:

1. Which Bible figure is most closely associated with leading the exodus from Egypt? 2. What was Mother Teresa's religion? 3. Which of the following is NOT one of the Ten Commandments? 4. When does the Jewish Sabbath begin? 5. Is Ramadan?

Moses

Catholic Do unto others as you would have them do unto you Friday

82% 55%

45%

The Islamic holy month

52%

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Pew Forums Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz: ANSWERS (cont.)


Question
6. Which of the following best describes the Catholic teaching about the bread and wine used for Communion? 7. In which religion are Vishnu and Shiva central figures? 8. Which Bible figure is most closely associated with remaining obedient to God despite suffering? 9. What was Joseph Smith's religion? 10. According to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, is a public school teacher permitted to lead a class in prayer, or not?

Correct Answer
The bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ Hinduism

% of Survey Respondents Answering Correctly


40%

Notes:

38%

Job

39%

Mormon

51%

No, not permitted

89%

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Pew Forums Basic Religious Knowledge Quiz: ANSWERS (cont.)


Question Correct Answer % of Survey Respondents Answering Correctly
23%

Notes:

11. According to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, is a public school teacher permitted to read from the Bible as an example of literature, or not? 12. What religion do most people in Pakistan consider themselves? 13. What was the name of the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation? 14. Which of these religions aims at the state of nirvana 15. Which one of these preachers participated in the period of religious activity known as the First Great Awakening?

Yes, permitted

Muslim

68%

Martin Luther

46%

Buddhism Jonathan Edwards

36% 11%

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Find Out How You Compare to Others


Here are some of the highlights. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons were among the highest-scoring groups on that exact survey you just took. Those groups outperformed evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions even after controlling for differing levels of education. Heres a breakdown: Average Americans correctly answered only 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Centers Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics averaged 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons did about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics as a whole only answered 14.7 questions correctly. Visit: www.torconbooks.com
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Reflections Part I
If you visited the Pew Forums site, what most surprised you about the findings of its 2010 religious survey? What question(s) did you find the most difficult to answer for yourself? Why do you think that was the case? What question(s) were easiest for you to answer and why? What was the most interesting thing you learned after completing Part I?
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Growing Lack of Religious Interest Within the U.S.


Not only is there a growing lack of knowledge in the basic tenets of the major faith traditions. There is also a growing lack of interest in organized religion as well. Specifically, another study also conducted by the Pew Forum found a general disinterest in religion among Millennials and young adults in the U.S. Details of that study can be accessed at this link. http://pewforum.org/Age/Religion-Among-theMillennials.aspx#introduction
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Growing Lack of Religious Interest Within the U.S. (cont.)


By some key measures, Americans ages 18 to 29 are considerably less religious than older Americans. Fully one-in-four members of the Millennial generation - so called because they were born after 1980 and began to come of age around the year 2000 - are unaffiliated with any particular faith. In fact, Millennials are significantly more unaffiliated than members of Generation X were at a comparable point in their life cycle (20% in the late 1990s) and twice as unaffiliated as Baby Boomers were as young adults (13% in the late 1970s).
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Growing Lack of Religious Interest Within the U.S. (cont.)


Young adults also attend religious services less often than older Americans today. And compared with their elders, fewer young people say that religion is very important in their lives today. No one can adequately predict the impact that this general disinterest in religion will have on a society that was once known as one nation under God but there is a marked desensitization toward faith among young adults in this country that cannot be ignored. This fact is bourn out in the following statistics. What used to be basic, universally-known truths about Christianity are now unknown mysteries to a large and growing share of Americans--especially young adults. For instance, Barna Group studies in 2010 showed that while most people regard Easter as a religious holiday, only a minority of adults associate Easter with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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Growing Lack of Religious Interest Within the U.S. (cont.)


Other examples include the finding that few adults believe that their faith is meant to be the focal point of their life or to be integrated into every aspect of their existence. Further, a growing majority believe the Holy Spirit is a symbol of God's presence or power, but not a living entity. As the two younger generations (Busters and Mosaics) ascend to numerical and positional supremacy in churches across the nation, the data suggest that biblical literacy is likely to decline significantly. http://www.barna.org/culturearticles/462-six-megathemes-emerge-from-2010 The Barna Group reports that in the U.S., about 50% of selfidentified Christian college freshman will forsake their Christianity before their senior year.
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Growing Lack of Religious Interest Within the U.S. (cont.)


In several ways, teenagers are much less inclined toward spirituality than were teens a dozen years ago. The study cited below assessed nine different forms of teenage involvement; six of those religious activities are at their lowest levels since Barna Group began tracking such teen behaviors. These included: small group attendance, prayer, Sunday school participation, donations to churches, reading sacred texts other than the Bible, and evangelism by Christian teens (explaining their belief in Jesus Christ with others who have different faith views). http://www.barna.org/teens-next-gen-articles/403-howteenagers-faith-practices-are-changing
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Reflections Part II
In your opinion, what are possible contributing factors to the general lack of religious knowledge among average Americans? What are possible contributing factors to the general lack of religious interest among average Americans? What might be driving this trend even faster among young adults and teens? Do you believe America is a religious nation or a secular nation? Why?
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Assess Your Personal Level of Religious Engagement


Each of us has a different level of religious belief and faithbased engagement. This next few pages are intended to help quantify in general terms the Religious Engagement level of you or another individual you care about. Using the 0-10 scale (low to high), simply circle the number, or place on the line, that corresponds with the specific behavior listed. Based on the results of this assessment, you may want to share them with a trusted person of faith with whom you fellowship or a youth-group leader for additional direction and guidance.
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Assess Your Personal Level of Religious Engagement (cont.)


Attends Religious Services Regularly
Notes:

10

Participates or attends a faith-based youth group a regular basis:

10

Engages in prayers or the act of praying on a consistent basis:

10

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Assess Your Personal Level of Religious Engagement (cont.)


Actively reads the scriptures or holy text of a given faith tradition:
Notes:

10

Discusses or talks about religious issues with other believers:

10

Shares personal faith beliefs and religious views with non-believers:

10

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Assess Your Personal Level of Religious Engagement (cont.)


Thinks about or meditates on religious concepts:
Notes:

10

Seeks out entertainment choices, consistent with the faith tradition:

10

Have friends at school or work that share views on faith:

10

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Reflections Part III


Based on your assessment, how would you classify your level of religious engagement? Low, Medium or High? Did the results of the assessment surprise you? Why or why not? Is your level of religious engagement where you would like it to be? Which questions on the assessement would you like to increase? What steps might you take toward that goal?
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Why Bother With Religion?


Many individuals view religion as pie in the sky hyperbole that holds an unprovable promise for the future sweet by and by with little benefit for the earthly here and now. Dr. Michael E. McCullough is a researcher at the University of Miami who has studied the relationship between religion and health publishing more than a dozen studies on the topic. Here is a link to a list of Dr. McCulloughs published studies and results on a wide area of health factors and how they intersect with religion: http://www.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Religion_Research.htm Dr. McCullough goes to great lengths to be objective, acknowledging that some of his studies have small sample sizes, may have a correlation but not necessarily a direct causal impact as well as other competing drivers. However, the following pages list some of the more interesting highlights of McCulloughs studies. Visit: www.torconbooks.com
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Why Bother With Religion? (cont.)


McCulloughs results published in Psychological Bulletin suggest that religious affiliation helps people quit smoking. A study McCullough presented in the Journal of Drug Issues, found that in neighborhoods where there were high alcoholism rates, church attendance was more effective than Alcoholics Anonymous. Those who attended religious services more than once a week over the course of a year were 24 percent less likely than others to abuse alcohol. In a study paper published in 2000, McCullough analyzed 42 studies about religion and life span comprising 125,826 people. The meta-analysis found that religious followers were nearly 30 percent more likely to live longer than nonreligious study participants.
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Why Bother With Religion? (cont.)


In the Journal of Clinical and Social Psychology, McCullough analyzed 64 studies about religion and health issues such as hypertension and heart attack. In the majority of cases, a correlation existed between regular worship service attendance and a lower incidence of health problems. According to McCulloughs research, religious people were less vengeful than irreligious individuals. Both groups were attached to electrodes to measure their blood pressure, heart rate and perspiration as indicators of anger and stress then asked to relive a situation when theyve been wronged. This study was published as Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct (Jossey-Bass, 2008).
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For a gratitude study, McCullough assigned two groups of students to write daily journals. The first group wrote what they were thankful for, the other group listed their problems. The results found that those who practiced gratitude increased happiness by nearly 30 percent.

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Why Bother With Religion? (cont.)


A completely different and more recent study published in 2011 by Columbia University found interesting results between religious belief and depression. It looked at 114 adults over a 10-year period. Heres the link to the study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/appi.ajp.2011.10121823 v1?roi=echo3-9666805893-6579645fce0427afa2d058811e3a59821c49408&papetoc Here are the highlights of the 10-year study: Subjects who reported at the start of the study that religion or spirituality was highly important to them had about onefourth the risk of experiencing major depression compared with other participants. Those at the highest risk for depression because they were the child of a depressed parent had the biggest reduction in risk due to their spirituality, experiencing about one-tenth the risk of experiencing major depression compared with those who did not. Visit: www.torconbooks.com
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Reflections Part IV
Did any of the research findings covered in the past few pages surprise you? What study results resonated the most with you? Why do you think thats the case? Is there anyone that comes to mind that might be interested in some of these survey results? Do any of these findings lead you to consider religion in a different light?
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Conclusion
We hope you found that this workbook contained useful information and helped provide a different perspective on religion in general. Hopefully you will explore the topics of faith and religion in greater detail. The following book, might be a great place to start! A Question of Faith: A Simple Question Toward Ultimate Truth. Download the first three chapters for FREE here: http://thedailyretort.com/book/
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