Religious Life in the Planet Earth
Religion is an essential part of human life, as well as human history, in the planet earth. Most human beings in the planet earth are still vitally concerned with questions such as does God really exist? Why does God allow suffering? People are also puzzled by what happens to a person after death. Religion is not simply a set of dogmas or beliefs. Religion is defined differently by different scholars. Religion is a system of beliefs practices, which groups of people struggle with their final problems in their lives. Other people define religion as any beliefs, which encompass accepting a sacred or supernatural being and any behavior designed to affect the relationship that a person may be having with that realm. A religious person does not have merely different feelings or attitude. He thinks differently about herself and her world. Many theologians claim that human beings are inherently religious and that if they do not worship the true God, then they worship false gods themselves (Houtman, 2010).
In the planet earth, when someone poses a question about what religion is, he or she will point at a church, a mosque, a temple, a Sikh gurdwara or any other sacred place of worship and also claim that people who go to these places are religious. Attention is drawn to the places of worship and the people who go there. People also talk of sacred texts such as the bible and the Koran. Many have tried to understand religion based on its effect on society and individual persons. Scholars have been trying to explain the universal existence of religion in many cultures. Every culture has some system of supernatural beliefs; however, it is not possible to prove beyond doubt that any supernatural powers such as gods, witches, angels or devils exist. Moreover, these supernatural powers do not always work as effectively as the practitioners want. For instance, praying to God for the recovery of a sick person but the person dies, a ritual specialist conducts a rain dance, but it still does not rain or relatives sacrificing a goat at the grave site of the ancestor-god, but drought still destroy them.
Religion can be categorized into various categories depending on beliefs. It can be either “Polytheism”, which is the belief in existence of many gods or “Monotheism”, which is the belief in existence of one god. Religion can also be “Animatisms”. This is the belief in generalized impersonal power over which people have some measure of control. Finally, “Mana” is the believe in an impersonal supernatural force that enters certain people or things, which they believe confer strength, power, and success,
Religion can be termed as an aspect that plays a crucial role among the people I visited. Even though, these supernatural being and forces does not always perform their requested function, they do perform less obvious functions for both the individual and the society in general. These functions can be grouped into two main categories, which are the social function and the psychological functions. Social functions of religion on earth are some of the significant popular explanations of the universality of religion. The major social functions of religion on earth include social control, conflict resolution and reinforcement of group solidarity. Through both positive and negative sanctions, religion maintains social order by encouraging socially acceptable behavior and discouraging socially unacceptable behavior. In the planet earth, every religion regardless its form is an ethical system that prescribes proper ways of behaving. Social sanctions combined with supernatural Authority become more compelling which brings more order in the society.
Another social function of religion is the reduction in conflict, in society. In some societies, natural calamities such as famine and epidemics are attributed to their evil deeds. Therefore, people concentrate on certain religious rituals that are designed to protect them from calamities. They avoid potential disruptiveness to their own society that might occur if they took out their frustrations to the evildoers. In addition, powerless people in the society sometimes use religion as a way of diffusing the anger and hostility that might otherwise be direct against the social system. Religion is also a way of intensifying group solidarity of those who practice it. It enables people to show their common belonging in an emotionally filled environment. It helps to create powerful social bonds among people who share the experiences of religious beliefs, practices and rituals (James, 2008).
Besides promoting society well being, religion has a psychological function on individual. It provides a cognitive framework of explaining parts of the planet earth that individuals do not understand. Religion also helps to reduce individual anxiety by prescribing some straight forward ways of coping with stress. It is psychologically comforting because it helps the individual explain the unexplainable.
It is clear that the term religion is complicated and can be applied to denote different concepts and practices. For many, religion can be regarded as a practice that involves going to church, mosques, temples, and other sacred centers. It is also reading and reflecting on certain sacred texts, believing and having faith, performing certain ritual practices or living one’s life in a certain way. Cross-culturally, religion influences all levels of life of human being at both the individual or social level. Religion and culture often overlap and impact on each other; culture predominantly influences religion on earth. Similarly, the religion that a person practices will always be influenced by their cultural context and location (Houtman, 2010).