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Religion knowledge questions

Religion knowledge questions

Knowledge questions (KQs) form the heart of the TOK course, and provide us with the opportunity to discuss, explore, and sometimes argue about the way in which we acquire, use, and evaluate our knowledge about the world.

Although the knowledge questions on religion that you see here link primarily to this optional theme, many of them link to other AOKs, and themes, so one of the first things to consider is how they relate to, and impact on, other aspects of the course.

Knowledge questions on the nature and scope of religion

  • These KQs 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
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Does religion address problems that cannot be resolved by other disciplines and fields?

“The purpose of science is to determine how the heavens go. The purpose of religion is to determine how to go to heaven” Do you agree?

Do theistic beliefs count as ‘knowledge’?

What level of certainty does religion deal with, compared to other disciplines and fields?

Does religious faith rely on empirical evidence?

Are religious knowledge systems ‘beyond reason’?

Is there any value in pondering unanswerable questions?

Knowledge questions on the relationship between religion and values

  • These KQs 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
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Does religion provide us with a framework to access what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’?

Do religious knowers have an additional obligation to act ethically?

Do all knowers have an ethical obligation to learn about different religions?

Does religious knowledge create meaning and purpose?

What is the relationship between the institutions and societies associated with religious knowledge and indigenous knowledge?

Knowledge questions on the communication of ideas in religion

  • These KQs on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 3, our third BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Do religious concepts require a different approach to categorisation?

Do religious systems deal in moral knowledge, spiritual knowledge, or both?

What role does analogy and metaphor play in the communication of religious ideas?

What are the limitations of language in communicating religious knowledge?

Knowledge questions on religion shaping – and being shaped by – our perspectives

  • These KQs on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 4, our fourth BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to perspectives & context related to religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

How can we decide between the competing claims of different religions?

Are there types of knowledge that are specifically linked to particular communities of knowers?

How does our own theism, atheism or agnosticism impact our perspective?

Should all knowledge claims be open to rational criticism?

Can there be religious knowledge that is independent of the culture that produces it?

Is the role of personal experience different in religion compared to other themes and areas of knowledge?

How can our respect for a religion or culture be reconciled with the condemnation of specific practices within that religion or culture?

Are those outside a specific religious tradition really able to understand its key ideas?

Knowledge questions on the creation of new ideas in religion

  • These KQs on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 5, our fifth BQ units for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

How does the purpose and nature of religion develop over time?

To what extent do scientific developments have the power to influence thinking about religion?

Can religious knowledge be produced via scientific means?

How have changes in language use affected our ability to access religious knowledge?

How significant have individuals been in shaping and founding religions?

How has our understanding and perception of religious knowledge changed over time?

Knowledge questions on becoming a discerning knower about religion

  • These KQs on knowledge & religion relate to Big Question 6, our final BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of religion, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Where should the burden of proof lie – on those proving, or disproving an idea?

Should all ‘true’ scientists call themselves agnostics?

What standards should be used to evaluate religious knowledge claims?

What constitutes an expert on religious knowledge?

Is religion undermined by Carl Sagan’s claim that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”?

Link these KQs 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 the KQs in more depth

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.