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Religion serves to soothe the man in times of his suffering and disappointment. In this world man often suffers disappointment even in the midst of all hopes and achievements. The things for which he strives are in some measure always denied to him. When human hopes are blighted, when all that was planned and striven for has been swept away, man naturally wants something to console and compensate him. When a son dies man seeks to assuage his grief in ritualistic exchanges of condolence.
On God he puts faith and entertains the belief that some unseen power moves in mysterious ways to make even his loss meaningful. Faith in God compensates him and sustains his interest in life and makes it bearable. In this way religion helps man to bear his frustrations and encourages him to accept his lot on earth. Man unites himself with the infinite and feels ennobled. Through unity with the infinite the self is made majestic and triumphant. Man considers himself the noblest work of God with whom he shall be united and his self thus becomes grand and luminous.
Besides this, religion shapes domestic, economic and political institutions. Religion supports institutional pattern more explicitly.
All the great religions of the world have attempted to regulate kinship relations, especially marriage and family. Political institutions are often sanctioned by religion: Religious rites are performed on many occasions in relation to vital events and dominant interests: Religion is the central element in the life of civilisation. Religion has also performed some other services to humanity among which Sumner and Keller included the provision of work, the spread of education, the accumulation of capital and the creation of a leisure class.
For thousands of years, religion has exerted a great influence over economic and political life. Even today religion is called upon to support rulers, contacts and other legal procedures.
In addition to positive functions of religion, there are some negative aspects of its social functions. Although religion is an integrative force, it may be disruptive for the society as a whole. The dysfunctions of religion are as follows.
According to Thomas F. All protests and conflicts are not always negative. Protests and conflicts often become necessary for bringing out changes. Some changes would certainly lead to positive reforms. By inhibiting protests and preventing changes religion may postpone reforms. Social values and norms emanate from religious faith. Some of the norms which lose their appropriateness under changed conditions may also be imposed by religion. Even today, traditional Muslims face religio-ethical problems concerning interest-taking.
Similar social conflict is evident in the case of birth control measures including abortion, in the Catholic world. Religion often makes its followers dependent on religious institutions and leaders.
But it does not develop an ability in them to assume individual responsibility. For example, a good number of people in India prefer to take the advises of priests and religious leaders before starting some ventures.
But they do not take the suggestion of those who are competent in the field. In its course of development religion has supported and promoted evil practices such as cannibalism, slavery, untouchability, human and animal sacrifice etc.
As religion interprets misfortune and suffering in this world as manifestations of the supernatural order itself, it sanctifies the existing social structure. Religion preaches submission to the existing socio-economic condition and to fate. It is the opiate of the people. Religion is the source of many superstitions. These superstitions have caused harm to human being. Superstitions like evil spirits and ghosts cause diseases; poverty is the desire of the God etc.
Religion results in inter-group conflicts by dividing people along religious lines. It is deeply related with conflicts. Wars and battles have been fought in the name of religion. Sumner and Keller are of the opinion that religion often causes economic wastes. For example, investing huge sums of money on building temples, churches, mosques, etc.
It leads to waste of human labour, energy and time. Religion creates diversities among people. It creates a gap among them. In the name of God and religion, loot, plundering, mass killing, rape and other cruel and inhuman treatments have been meted out to people. Religion has made people blind, dumb and deaf to the reality. They have faith without reasoning which is blind.
On the contrary, it has often made people to become bigots and fanatics. Bigotry and fanaticism have led to persecution, inhuman treatment and misery in the past. It preaches submission to the existing conditions and maintenance of status quo.
Religion is not readily amenable to social change and progress. Religion has tried to prevent the scientists from discovering new facts. For example, it tried to suppress the doctrines of Darwin, Huxley and others. By placing high premium on divine power religion has made people fatalistic.
They think that all events in life is due to some divine power and hence due to fate. As a result, his power and potentiality is undermined. Thus, religion affects the creativity of man.
Marx has strongly criticised religion. For Marx all that was fundamental in the science of society proceeded from the material and especially the economic sphere. For him therefore religion is, to be sure, superstition, but to stop at this point is to limit religion to merely abstract belief. It leaves the impression that religion may be dislodged simply by new, rational belief. Merely changing beliefs is not enough. The transformation of an entire social order is required, for belief is deeply rooted in the social relations of men.
But man is no abstract being, squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man, the state, and society. This state, this society produce religion, a perverted world consciousness, because they are a perverted world. Religion is the compendium of that world, its encyclopedic, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn completion, its universal ground for consolation and justification.
It is the fantastic realization of the human essence because the human essence has no true reality. Marx believed, like Luduig Feuerbach, that what man gives to God in the form of worship, he takes from himself. That is, man is persuaded through suffering or through false teaching to project what is his to a supernatural being.
But he was convinced, unlike Feuerbach, that what is fundamental is not religious forms — against which Feuerbach had urged revolt-but the economic forms of existence. But before religion can be abolished the conditions which nurture it must be done away with. Marx was an atheist as well as a great humanist.
He had profound sympathy for all who look up to religion for salvation. This is amply clear from his following observation: Change is the very essence of a living thing. A living religion must grow, must advance and must change. No form of religion is static. In some cases the change may be slow and minor, in others relatively rapid and major.
Every religion claims its first principle supreme, original and eternal. Hence, there is also an element of censure for change. Broadly, there are three types of changes in religion: Contact with complex form of religion adds many new elements in the simple form of tribal religion. For example, with the gradual spread of Vaishnavism in chhotanagpur, the Oraons tribe which lives in that region, began to reorganise traditional faith. There are also examples of simplification of complex form of religion, specially of rituals and ceremonies.
In the 19 century, Brahmo Samaj again tried to simplify the complex nature of Brahmanic Hinduism. Mixing of more than one form has caused development of new religious organisation. The most excellent example is of Sophism.
It has evolved from Persian, Zoroastrianism and Arab Islamism. The history of the development of religion shows that as mankind moves from small isolated village towards large, complex, urban, industrialised society the character of influence of religion on man and his life changes. In the earlier phases of religion the primary needs of mankind, those concerned with the necessities of life, played a dominant part.
As religious explanation of the universe is gradually substituted by rational scientific explanations and various group activities such as politics, education, art and music have been increasingly transferred from ecclesiastical to civil and other non-religious agencies, the conception of God as a power over man and his society loses its importance.
This movement is sometimes referred to as secularisation. Thus secularisation as Bryan Wilson has defined, refers to the process in which religious thinking, practice and institutions lose social significance. In Europe, secularisation is held to be the outcome of the social changes brought about by urban, industrial society. It means that religious beliefs and practices have tended to decline in modern urban, industrial societies, particularly among the working class in Western societies.
Religion in Western societies has tended to place less emphasis on dogma and more on social values. It has tried to reconcile its doctrine with scientific knowledge. As Barnes has pointed out religion adapted to our changed conditions of life is worth preserving and it must seek to organise. The masses and guide their activities for the benefit of the society rather than for the purpose of pleasing the God. Secularism as an ideology has emerged from the dialectic of modern science and Protestantism, not from simple repudiation of religion and the rise of rationalism.
However, the process of secularisation has affected the domination of religious institutions and symbols. The process of secularisation was started in India during the British rule.
But the process of secularisation took its course unlike Western Europe renaissance and reformation in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. The process was very slow. However, this worldly outlook, rationality and secular education gradually affected various aspects of religion in India.
Various laws of social reformation, modern education, transport and communication contributed towards decline in religiosity among the Hindus. No doubt we are moving from religiosity to secular way of life. But evidences show that religious beliefs have not declined in West as well as in our society. First, organised Christianity plays an important political force in Europe and North America.
Second, the vitality of Zionism, militant Islam Islamic fundamentalism , radical Catholicism in Latin America and Sikhism, fundamentalism and communalism in India suggest that no necessary connection exists between modernisation and secularisation. All these criticisms are formidable indeed. But it should be noted that the diversity of religious sects and cults in modern societies demonstrates that religion has become an individual matter and not a dominant feature of social life.
It can also be argued that, while religion may play a part in ideological struggles against colonialism as in Iran , in the long run modernisation of society brings about secularisation. The history of the development of religion shows that as mankind moves from small isolated villages towards large, complex, urban, industrial society; the influence of religion on man and his life changes. In the earlier phases of religion the primary needs of mankind were very much influenced by it.
As religious explanation of the universe is gradually substituted by rational scientific explanations and various group activities politics, education, art and music have been increasingly transferred from ecclesiastic to civil and other non-religious agencies, the conception of God as power over man and his society loses its importance.
This movement is sometimes referred to as secularization. Secularism as an ideology has emerged from the dialectic of modern science and Protestantism, not from a simple repudiation of religion and the rise of rationalism.
Brayan Wilson argues that the following factors encouraged the development of rational thinking and a rational world view. Firstly, ascetic Protestantism, which created an ethic which was pragmatic, rational controlled and anti-emotional. Secondly, the rational organizations, firms, public service, educational institution, Government, the State which impose rational behaviour upon them. Thirdly, the greater knowledge of social and physical world which results from the development of physical, biological and social sciences.
He says that this knowledge is based on reason rather than faith. He claims that science not only explained many facts of life and the material environment in a way more satisfactory than religion , but it also provided confirmation of its explanation in practical results. Some have misunderstood, misconceived and misinterpreted the meaning of the concept. Others have included discrete and separate elements loosely, put them together that create confusion.
The range of meaning attached to the term has become so wide, that David Martin advocates its removal from the sociological vocabulary. There are two meanings of the word current in modern and modernizing India and even in the whole of this subcontinent. One of the two meanings is found by consulting any standard dictionary. But there is the difficulty in finding the other, for it is non-standard, local meaning which, many like to believe, is typically and distinctively Indian or South Asian. The first meaning becomes clear when people talk of secular trends in history or economics, or when they speak of secularizing the State.
The word secular has been used in this sense, at least in the English-speaking West, for more than three hundred years. This secularism chalks out an area in public life where religion is not admitted. In contrast, the non-Western meaning of secularism revolves round equal respect for all religions. In the Indian context the word has very different meaning from its standard use in the English language.
It is held that India is not Europe and hence secularism in India cannot mean the same thing as it does in Europe. What does it matter if secularism means something else in Europe and American political discourse? As long as there are clear and commonly agreed referents for the world in the Indian context, we should go ahead and address ourselves to the specifically Indian meaning of secularism.
Unfortunately the matter cannot be settled that easily. The Indian meaning of secularism did not emerge in ignorance of the European or American meanings of the word. Indian meaning of secularism is debated in its Western genealogies.
Religion in the World - Religion is intertwined with culture, economics, politics, and modern social relationships on every level, whether you attend church habitually, or whether you are a casual bystander, you simply cannot escape religion.
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What is Religion Essay Words | 6 Pages. World Religion What is Religion? According to the American College Dictionary, religion is a noun defined as the quest for the values of the ideal life. This definition is vast and general, allowing for a variety of interpretations by people from all cultures. ADVERTISEMENTS: Here is your essay on religion, it’s meaning, nature, role and other details! Religion is an almost universal institution in human society. It is found in all societies, past and present.
To most people religion offers salvation, enlightenment, and a place in heaven. It tells one a complete code of life. Religion emphasizes the importance of being good and of being right. It condemns those who are bad and those who are wrong. Those who practice a religion strive to be perfect/5(11). Essay/Term paper: What is religion Essay, term paper, research paper: Religion. See all college papers and term papers on Religion. Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment.