Theories In Religion Essay

1271 words - 5 pages

What is religion? Well according the Dictionary it is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a super human agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” But to a person who practices a religion it is much more than this definition, it is a way of life. Well then what about Atheists? What do they believe? Well many of them believe in this definition, in-fact most do. But do any believe that even though they don't believe in religion themselves, does it serve a bigger picture other than what the definition says. Yes! Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx all have theories on why religion is more than just god’s and rituals.

Emile Durkheim defined religion as having a few necessary components, which are that it is a unified structure of beliefs with organized practices that is built around beliefs which are sacred to its followers. He also said that in each religion they divided items, places, and events into two realms, being Sacred and Profane. The sacred elements are connected to the religion, and are items that inspire awe, respect, and even sometimes fear into the believer of that religion. If people wish to become part of the sacred realm they perform some sort of ritual such as praying or sacrificing. Since people have faith they start to accept the things in which they do not understand or things that cannot be explained. In the opposite realm, Profanity is just the normal things in everyday life such as wood boards, tables, and buildings, but that doesn't mean that an item that was once part of the profane realm can’t be a part of the sacred realm. For example a building is a profane object until it becomes a place for worship called a church, temple, or synagogue in some religions. The wood boards are profane objects until you make them into a cross, then to Christians an object was just made that symbolize their whole religion. The table is a profane object, but if a ritual such as a sacrifice or a communion is performed on it the tables become, for a period of time, something that, to the believers of each of those religions, will inspire awe, or demand their respect, or in the case of an animal sacrifice even be fearful of it.

Emile Durkheim viewed religion as a force that is so intertwined with human society that is sometimes considered a necessary component in any modern civilization. He talked about how religion is “societal glue”, meaning that religion is like a glue holding society together. The reasons he gave for this, were that it gives purpose to people’s lives. It gave people who are, for all intensive purpose’s, completely different something in common. A unifying factor that amalgamated groups of people from all over the world. Who all have, because of religion, a common belief in the some of life's ultimate questions. That the fact that...

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