Why Does Religion Exist

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Why does religion exist for society as a whole, and what is its relevance to the modern world? I think religion exists today for many of the same reasons it existed a thousand years ago. Being a member of a group like one is when they follow a religion can make a person feel like they are part of something larger than just themselves and they can share their personal beliefs and ideas with like minded people which in turn can create social stability. A place of worship where religion is practiced brings people together where they reinforce their social bonds through communication and social relationships. It gives meaning to their life and gives them a purpose while answering questions like “why are we here,” “what is the meaning of life”…show more content…
The founder of Functionalism is Emile Durkheim and as a theoretical approach Functionalism “explains the existence of social institutions such as religion in terms of the needs that the institutions wood meet” in society (Christiano, Swatos, & Kivisto, n.d., p. 39). Durkheim understood religion to be “the glue that held society together” (Christiano et al., p. 39). Through common beliefs and values a Functionalist believed that religion would maintain conformity, social structure and control by offering purpose and meaning to people’s lives through belief. Conflict Theory by Karl Marx says that religion plays an important role in continuing the status quo. Marks argued that “religion accomplishes this by promising rewards in the after-life rather than in this life. By focusing attention on otherworldly rewards, religion pacifies members by providing a worldview that deflects attention that would otherwise be directed at the inequalities of this world” (Lumen Learning, n.d.). The Symbolic Interaction perspective studies religion symbolism through acts of behavior, events and art in everyday life by attaching meanings to each of them. This perspective “assumes that social order is constantly being negotiated and recreated through the interpretations of the people who give it meaning”…show more content…
“In the sociology of religion, our epistemological concern isn’t whether we know a given religious belief is or isn’t true, valid, and/or correct - it’s whether we can reasonably know that our data, interpretation of that data, and the conclusions that result from our analysis are true, valid, and correct” (Weight, 2018). Three methods researchers use to collect their findings are personal observation, surveys and historical analysis but religious scholars also rely on qualitative research to study symbols and examine interpretations or meanings within religion by relying on their own senses and intellect to bring together their observations. Personal observation allows a researcher to study rituals and routines while listening to people as they go about their day without directly playing a part or being involved themselves. They are able to familiarize themselves with individuals in the group and collect data at a small scale while observing interactions between the members of the group. Creating a survey or questionnaire can accurately assess belief, behavior and opinions of a group but subjective and unclear questions can produce inaccurate results so it is important to have good questions when creating a survey. Decisions on using open or closed ended questions, wording and question order impact the success of a survey as well and can result in answers that don’t accurately reflect the real
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