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Real-world issues about religion

Real-world issues about religion

These real-world issues about religion will help you to explore knowledge questions, analyse the latest events and issues related to this optional theme, and apply TOK terms, ideas, and concepts to authentic situations.

You can also use these issues as discussion points within lessons, examples to support your essay arguments, and case studies to show how TOK manifests in world around us in your exhibition commentary.

Real-world issues on the nature and scope of religion

  • These issues on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 1, our first BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to the nature and scope of religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Conversation article, looking at what constitutes a ‘miracle’ for the Catholic Church.

A Conversation article that considers whether Creationism qualifies as a conspiracy theory.

Julian Baggini in The Guardian muses on the dissonance between faith and the rational mind when it comes to the Easter story, cautioning non-believers not to be lazily dismissive of concepts and explanations we consider implausible.

A Conversation article, in which a New Testament scholar outlines what ‘biblical inerrancy’ is.

A Big Think article, which considers which matters more to Christian belief: the physical reality of Jesus, the message he communicated.

In this short Big Think video, Dr. Michio Kaku discusses the distinctive purposes of science and religion, and how there are two Gods – one ‘personal’, and one related to the order and harmony of the universe.

Real-world issues on the relationship between religion and values

  • These issues on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 2, our second BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to religion and ethics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

This Aeon article considers the concepts of ‘immanence’, and how it influenced the way Martin Luther King viewed the world, and informed the way the Civil Rights Struggle was approached.

An AP article, looking at the split in the Catholic Church over whether President Biden should be denied the Eucharist because of his government’s support for abortion.

A Big Think article, looking at the Inglehart-Welzel World Cultural map, which arranges nations according to their values and religious outlooks.

An AP article, considering the news that the Catholic Church says it cannot permit the blessing of a same-sex unions because they are inherently sinful.

Real-world issues on the communication of ideas in religion

  • These issues on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 3, our third BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Guardian article, thinking about how people in Britain no longer identify as Christian – but are also reluctant to label themselves as atheists.

An Independent article which reports on the reaction to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s assertion that representations of Jesus shouldn’t always be white.

Real-world issues on religion shaping – and being shaped by – our perspectives

  • These issues on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 4, our fourth BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to perspectives & context, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A National Geographic article, exploring how Christmas has developed over time in different cultural contexts.

A Conversation article, examining research that investigates the link between people’s religious and non-religious affiliations, and their gender.

An Atlantic article, considering the closeness of religious and scientific beliefs about the universe. 

A New Statesman article, which explores the way in which science and religion try to achieve the same aims, via similar thought processes.

Real-world issues on the creation of new ideas in religion

  • These issues on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 5, our fifth BQ units for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A New Humanist article, which tracks how our imagery of the devil has changed over time, and how it mirrors our own society.

Pope Francis has approved a change to the Lord’s prayer, outraging some of his followers, but pleasing others. This Christian Post article considers the reasons for both reactions, and what this says about the development of religious ideas over time.

An Aeon article, which looks at the extent to which Buddhism can be updated for the modern world – particularly in terms of its belief in reincarnation.

This History Today review of Ethan Shagan’s new book, The Birth of Modern Belief, considers that it isn’t just the concept of religion that has changed over time, it is also the concept of belief.

Real-world issues on becoming a discerning knower about religion

  • These issues on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 6, our final BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Use the Exploration Points document below to unpack the media sources and link them to the TOK course (available to members of the site)
  • Members can also use our Investigating Issues resource to look at related stories, and widen their understanding of how TOK manifests in the world around us

A Conversation article, questioning the popular perception of Buddhism as a religion devoted solely to peace.

Nat Case at Aeon considers how it is possible (for him, at least) to be both an atheist and a Quaker. As he explains, this has much to do with the search for ‘truth’.

This Big Think story focuses on the assertion of Dartmouth physicist Marcelo Gleiser that labelling yourself an atheist – in other words, stating that something does not exist when you have no evidence either way – is incompatible with a scientific outlook.

Link these issues to the exhibition

Our TOK exhibition prompt decoder helps you to understand each of the 35 IA prompts, link them to the core and optional themes, and the 12 key TOK concepts, and explore them via quotes, questions, TED talks, and media sources. Access the decoder here.

Explore related events and issues

Investigating Issues offers you a completely new way to plan and teach TOK. The resource gathers together over 120 major global issues, provides a collection of media sources to explore each one, and suggests ways to link them to the different elements of the TOK course and to the 12 key concepts.

Unpack these issues & link them to TOK

Our sixty-six Exploration Point documents (updated every month) help you delve deeper into TOK via media sources, unpacking ideas, guidance on the key concepts, and other tips. HERE is an example of a EP document (for history & perspectives) – join us to gain access to the other sixty-five!

Subscribe to the TOK newsletter

Our TOK newsletter helps you explore the most important events and issues going on today, and fully grasp how TOK concepts manifest in the real world. Read a recent edition here, subscribe to the free version here, and gain access to the premium version by joining theoryofknowledge.net.