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What function does religion play in human society Why is religion Universal Is there an evolutionary explanation or a social phenomenon - Essay Example

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Human society is very varied, and anthropologists have collected a great deal of information on how it has changed across different countries and through the many thousands of years of human history…
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What function does religion play in human society Why is religion Universal Is there an evolutionary explanation or a social phenomenon
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What function does religion play in human society Why is religion Universal Is there an evolutionary explanation or a social phenomenon

Download file to see previous pages... It also explores the reasons why human society appears to be so fond of religious expressions, looking at both evolutionary and social explanations for its popularity. There are many religions in the world, and they can appear very different to observers, but they share three main features in common: there is faith in something supernatural; there is a system of beliefs that adherents sign up to, and there is a set of ritual behaviors which believers follow as a way of expressing their religion (Palomar College, 2011). These things work together to help people formulate a world view, in which there is meaning and purpose. Human beings have a high intelligence compared to other animals, and religion appears to be both a result of the ability to reason with an advanced brain, and of the need to have explanations for things so that future actions can be properly planned. It could be, then, that religion serves an evolutionary purpose, in helping people to understand the environment and adapt to its changes. Its universality is due to the way that the human mind works, seeking out answers to things. This curiosity and search for understanding lies behind human progress through different stages of technology and is a fundamental feature of the homo sapiens species. This evolutionary explanation shows that the first function that religion plays in human society is therefore “to provide a sense of order in what might otherwise be seen as a chaotic existence.” (Palomar College, 2011) Religion provides a collective framework which people use to interpret inexplicable events like natural disasters or the changing seasons. The supernatural dimension arises because human beings know that their own power and understanding is limited, and that there are forces far bigger and stronger than they are. Religion is needed to explain how human beings fit into the universe around them. This has a dual function, first in providing a connection between humans and these greater forces, and secondly in allowing people to harness these powers and let them affect their daily lives: “religion tunes human actions to an envisaged cosmic order and projects images of cosmic order onto the plane of human experience” (Geertz, p. 90) This binds human beings to their environment more closely and explains why so many religions have connections with the sky, the sun and weather phenomena. By developing a set of beliefs around these phenomena, people make them more comprehensible, and less frightening. This is a psychological need which minimizes stress, and provides some security for people who could otherwise feel afraid and lost in a world that can bring unexpected events at any moment. The first and most important reason for the universal existence of religion in human societies is therefore the evolutionary advantage that it gives, but the second reason has more to do with the way that human beings live in social groups. Forming groups appears to be a common behavior in many different animal types, and these groups create safety in numbers against predators and a hostile environment. One of the ways that groups determine the boundaries between one another is to have different cultures, or ways of doing things. Religions are an important way of forming groups. Many of the rituals that religions have are initiation rituals, such as circumcision, baptism, trials of faith, etc. which demonstrate who has become a member of the group and who has not. Following the rituals of religion binds the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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Excellent paper! Used it to finish an assignment for a anthropology course. It was easy as ABC, for the first time in my life.
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