It promotes art, culture and provides means for the development of character on the right lines. Religion promotes recreation through religious lectures, Kirtanas, dramas, dance, music, bhajanas, puranas, harikathas, fairs, festivials, musical concerts, art exhibitions and so on. It tries to make men sorrowless and fearless. Various religious festivals and rituals can provide relief to the disturbed mind.
Man has never lived by knowledge alone. Man is a rational as well as an emotional creature. The things for which men strive in this world are in some measure denied to them. If the aim is to Propagate a faith, persecution may bring failure. If the aim is to become rich in business, heavy loss in it may bring disheartenment.
With a multiplicity of goals no individual can escape frustration. But the culture provides him with goals that anybody can reach. These are goals that transcend the world of actual experience, with the consequence that no evidence of failure to attain them can be conclusive. If the individual believes that he has gained them that are sufficient. All he needs is sufficient faith. Religion tries to give release from the very thing it instills, guilt.
Ritual means are freely provided for wiping away guilt, so that one can count on divine grace. Religion expands the self to infinite proportions. Through unity with the infinite the self is ennobled, made majestic. Man considers himself the noblest work of God with whom he shall be united. His self thus becomes grand and elevated.
It is true, that the rapid developments in the field of civilisation, in physical and biological sciences, have affected the functions, of religion to a great extent. Some of the age old religious beliefs have been exploded by the scientific investigations. Needless to emphasize that even today there is a great need of religion for man. The above discussion indicates that there is a close relationship between religion and human life and this relationship has been there since the very inception of human civilization.
Religion has always inspired man to follow a right path. Man has always tried to mould his character according to religions ideals. So in many ways, religion has played the role of education. Thus the relationship between religion and educator has been quite old and traditional.
Onwards we shall hint at how religion has contributed towards education of man since ancient times. 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.
Religion has always inspired man to follow a right path. Man has always tried to mould his character according to religions ideals. So in many ways, religion has played the role of education. Thus the relationship between religion .
Among males, there is a negative relationship between support for abortion and the importance of religion. Among females, there is a negative relationship between support for abortion and the importance of religion. A person’s religious background greatly influences whether or not they support abortion.
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