Cultural ecologists focus on discovering the similarities and differences of different cultures with the interest of understanding why people live the way they do and why certain things are unique to some cultures…
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The history of religions tends to adopt an evolutionary view where it appears that the horizon of religion developed from the earth to heavens. The evolutionary approach mainly supported by cultural ecologists tends to support the connection between religion and ecology. Cultural ecologists focus on discovering the similarities and differences of different cultures with the interest of understanding why people live the way they do and why certain things are unique to some cultures. Ecologists present different views on religion with a particular consistent disagreement with the thinking of outsiders that the more isolated tribe style cultures believe in magic. This paper shows how cultural ecologists view religion and magic, how they relate, as well as why some cultures might believe in one, or both. According to Debnath (2003), the oldest layer of religion, under headings, such as natural religion, hunting magic and agrarian religion, is intimately linked to the relationship between humans and nature. One of the renowned cultural ecologists, Marvin Harris takes pleasure in finding concrete ecological pragmatism everywhere in the history of religion, from Aztec human sacrifice to the Hindu veneration of the cows. The ritual engagement with nature, whether in hunting magic or agricultural fertility rites, often contains an element of magic and thus the attempt to gain power nature. Cultural ecologists view magic as an attempt to gain power over nature, a concept that greatly differs from the religious views where nature appears to influence the way things are and they are not. From an ecological perspective, magic remains an old dream of humankind which has been partially fulfilled in the modern error (Olson, 2010). Religion and magic are viewed as cognitively instrumental, where they provide an explanation of the world in terms of superhuman agency to believers and by extension a religious or magical technique by which they can exert significant control over their surroundings. A distinctive difference between religion and magic revolves around the concept of reason and faith in which the reason belongs to the latter while faith and rituals belong to religion (Debnath, 2003). Reasons Why Some Cultures Accept either Religion or Magic or Both Cultural ecologists assert that good or evil fortune follows from one’s choices of habitation. For example, Feng-shui is recognized to have a strong magical or religious component, in which it was believed that cutting down the Feng-shui grove often translates into a disaster to town, and the more old the trees were found the more good luck it conferred to the town residents (Sutton & Anderson, 2009). The magical component associated with the tree is widely accepted in south China, serving to persuade millions of peasants to sacrifice personal gains for the long-term community benefit. This example explains the connection between magic and environment and its role in the conservation of the ecosystems. The Chinese community widely accepts the concept of magic than any other part of the world owing to its close association to their environment and the perceived benefits in believing in certain magic components in the ecosystem. In many case, religion is widely accepted due to its detachment from the individual figure compared to magic which focuses on the capabilities of the person performing the magic. In addition, the concept of realism and the basis fiction that surround magic further
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