In what ways does personal knowledge interact with shared knowledge in religion?

The personal religious knowledge of individuals is drawn from the shared knowledge of their family and surrounding culture: one can predict with some likelihood the religion that will be followed by a child growing up in a Hindu family in India or a child growing up in Christian family in Lesotho.

To what extent would you consider religion to be entirely shared knowledge, with a new generation accepting communal knowledge into their own personal knowledge?

Is the knowledge exchange a one-way communication, possibly involving respect for authority and personal humility?


the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods: ideas about the relationship between science and religion;

a particular system of faith and worship: the world’s great religions;

a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion: consumerism is the new religion

shared vs personal“I know” refers to the possession of knowledge by an individual—personal knowledge.

“We know” refers to knowledge that belongs to a group—shared knowledge.


child heads with symbols

Shared knowledge is highly structured, systematic and the product of more than one individual the contribute to expand this knowledge system.

Shared knowledge changes and evolves over time. These changes might be slow and cumulative. On the other hand, they could also be sudden and dramatic, revolutionary shifts in knowledge.



Personal knowledge depends solely on the experiences of a particular individual. It is gained through experience, practice and personal involvement. It is influenced by an individual’s personal perspective yet at the same time contributes to it.

Personal knowledge is made up of:

  • skills and procedural knowledge that I have acquired through practice and habituation

  • what I have come to know through experience in my life beyond academia

  • what I have learned through my formal education (mainly shared knowledge that has withstood the scrutiny of the methods of validation of the various areas of knowledge)

  • the results of my personal academic research (which may have become shared knowledge because I published it or made it available in some other way to others).

Personal knowledge therefore includes what might be described as skills, practical abilities and individual talents. This type of knowledge refers to knowledge of how to do something.

Compared to shared knowledge, personal knowledge is considered more difficult to express to others.

Like shared knowledge, personal knowledge is not static, but changes and evolves over time. Personal knowledge changes in response to the experiences of an individual.

Religious tolerance illustrationShared knowledge in a religion is the basis of that religion. It is the rules, traditions, ancient prophecies, moral code and cultural/historical background of said religion. This can be seen as it is mostly written down in a holy book (Bible in Christianity, Torah in Judaism and Quran in Islam). The documents and passages published are the shared knowledge of a religion since they were written in the past to serve the purpose of the message of God which should be transmitted to all people on Earth. It is was binds the people sharing the same religion together as they have those same values, stories and principles proposed by their specific religion to guide them as a group rather than individuals. Nevertheless, each person in their own religion has their particular interaction with their god, mystic creature or prophet. This is something unique and personal since the shared knowledge of the religion cannot control how it is interpreted or “adapted” to fit the person’s individual relation to their religion is different. This is mostly due to the experience one has away from his/her spiritual faith, which on most occasions opens their eyes to a world outside of religion.

There are many religions in the world, and of these religions there are many different sects. This shows how shared knowledge can travel across the world, different cultures and continue for generations. In this way, shared knowledge of religion prevails. A person could have personal faith in God, but if their religion is a member of a world faith, its religious knowledge system might continue as shared knowledge.

For example: In Catholic religion: the beliefs, doctrines and practices that make up the tradition are shared knowledge for Catholics worldwide.

Religion is entirely shared knowledge to a certain extent. A massive part of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religion is the communal ceremonies and traditions, which unites the community of believers of the same religion. Therefore, that is the part which is entirely shared knowledge since in Catholicism, church is a service where knowledge about that religion is shared, especially during catechesis.

However, each individual accepts the knowledge he/she believes in. Due to the theories provided by science and the evidence against religion being so substantial, the faith of newer generations is being affected. These generations are adopting a more rational view towards life, despite their family’s religion. The atheists and agnostic community is strengthening in numbers as most people leave their religion, merging their personal knowledge (atheist or agnostic) with the ones they have been taught as children (spiritual beliefs). Having said this, children are more likely to follow their parents’ religion since they are yet too young to form these type of life-style choices, but once they start to question these beliefs upon reaching a specific age, the choice is theirs if they decide to follow a non-religious path or religious path based on the knowledge they have acquired through out the years.

I do believe that in religion the knowledge exchange is a one-way communication, and that is because there is a deity(ies) who is/are almighty and powerful, who should not be questioned. In Christianity and Judaism, this power is channeled through people who are extremely devoted to their faith and have “more knowledge” on the religion than the average human.

eg. priests or rabbi

Apart from having a god who should be respected, there is a man in power guiding the people and spreading the word of God, teaching the faith among the population. The style of teaching in this case is preaching, one enters a church or synagogue, and listens to the priest or synagogue to learn more about their spiritual faith and the message of God. Nevertheless, these speeches are not arguable, a person cannot stand up in the middle and question what is being said. If the views are conflicting that is for the individuals own personal knowledge. That is why, in this sense the knowledge exchange is a one-way communication, especially since the basis for these religions are so ancient that they have turned into unquestionable holy books.


In conclusion, mostly everything we know and do is because of experience. We have learned through our past mistakes what not to do, but with religion, there already is a foundation upon which you can guide your life. Nevertheless, we are still all human and make mistakes, which – depending on an individual’s spiritual faith – religion can help one through the problem with the shared knowledge provided by it or with the personal connection that person has with his/her god or even by themselves with their own personal knowledge.


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