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There are about 19 major religions which

are subdivided into a total of 270 large


religious groups. Among these religions of
great diversity, there are probably
hundreds of different religious creation
stories which describe how humans,
other species of life, the earth, and the
rest of the universe came to be.

Anthropologists, evolutionary biologists


and other researchers have reached
proto-humans
who
originated
somewhere in Africa. These protohumans aided their chances of surviving
in a cruel and unpredictable world. Their
awareness
of
personal
mortality
produced an intolerable emotional
drain.

1.

Consensus. (Emile Durkheim). The


functionalist perspective changes the
emphasis from individual human need of
the society. Functionalism is primarily
concerned with the role religion plays in
society. It requires that all societal
institutions and structures perform a
useful purpose in order to create
consensus.

2. Conflict (Karl Marx). The Marxist theory


identifies religion as a major player in the
relationship between the bourgeoisie
and the proletariat, a relationship based
on conflict. In simple terms, the Marxist
social theory is based on a two-class
system whereby the bourgeoisie, who
own the means of production, extract
surplus value from the proletariat who
only own their labor. This is a relationship
based on exploitation and inherits
economic conflict.

3. Change (Max Weber). Weber argues


that, in some circumstances, religion can
lead to social change. Weber rejects
Marxist view that religion is shaped by
economic circumstance alone. Instead,
he
believes
that,
in
certain
circumstances, religious beliefs can
influence economic behavior. He argues
that meaning drives human action; that
is individuals subjectively interpret the
world around them which directs their
actions and helps form a world view as in
economics.

According to David Barret et al., editors


of the World Christian Encyclopedia
Oxford University Press (2001), the first
organized religions appear to have been
based on fertility. They were focused on the
worship of the great Earth Goddess.
Religions evolved to include male gods
who were gradually given increased
importance by the priests. Developing
knowledge of the males involvement in the
process of reproduction may have caused
this development.

Today, most people follow either:


a.

A monotheistic religion, in which a single


male god is worshipped, or

b.

A henotheistic religion which recognizes


a single male deity, but which
recognizes other gods and goddesses,
heroes,
or
saints
as
facets
or
manifestations or aspects of that
supreme god.

Religions were originally based on the


particular beliefs of their founders and
prophets.
In terms of their belief about supernatural
being(s) various faith traditions have
thought Agnosticism, Animism, Atheism,
Deism, Duotheism, Henotheism, Monism,
Monotheism, Panentheism, Pantheism,
Polytheism, Trinitatrianism, and probably
a few others.

Few arguments exist among the worlds


religions about religious beliefs, sacred
ritual, organizational structure, optimum
family
structure,
personal
sexual
behavior, etc.

Religions traditional teachings in the


area of science differ greatly from each
other and from the findings of scientists.

It is a small, exclusive, uncompromising


fellowship of individuals seeking spiritual
perfection. Members are voluntary
converts, and the sect largely control
their lives.

It is a large, conservative universal religious


institution. Its growth increasingly comes
from those born into the group, not from
conversions. Its demands on church
members diminish, and the church
becomes more tolerant of other religious
groups. Because it is large, it tends to
acquire a certain amount of social and
political power, and more often than not it
retains that power by becoming associated
with the government of ruling class and it
tends to support the status quo.

Cults are religious movements that are at


odds and which have no prior ties with an
established religious body in a given
society.
1. Audience cults have practically no formal
organization.
2. Client cults have religious leaders who offer
specific services to those who follow them.
3. Cult movements are client cults which
become
larger
and
more
tightly
organdized.

Modernization has been major source of


social change. And throughout the
world, people have moved from the
traditional
societies where there is
usually but one way to do things, to
modern societies full of choices. This
social change has had a profound
effect on religious experience as people
find themselves confronted with dozens
of denominations, each claiming to be
the one true way.

1.

2.

3.

They can affirm traditional religious


authority in the face of modern
challenges to it.
They can change their religious beliefs
by reformulating them in modern times.
The evangelical preachers on television
who equate worship of God with being
successful take this approach.
They can try to tap the wellsprings that
gave birth and vitality to the original
faith and apply them to the modern
world.