Role of Religion in Human Culture

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Submitted By katja328
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Role of religion in human culture

Anthropologists define religion as a cultural universal that encompasses beliefs and behavior concerned with supernatural beings, powers and forces (Kottak, 2013). Even though it is a human universal, the rules of religion vary from culture to culture. Even within the major religious traditions, there may be a great many variations. Methodist traditions are different from Baptists who are widely different from Catholic tradition.
Signs of religion date back as far as sixty to one hundred thousand years. Prior to the Neanderthals there were no signs of religion. Neanderthals were the first to bury their dead, suggesting a belief in an afterlife.
Religion serves many different functions in society. First and foremost, it provides an answer to universal questions humans have. These questions are:
What am I?
Where do I come from and where do I go?
What is death?
What happens when I die?
Why do bad things happen?
What is the meaning of life?
Religion can provide a sense of comfort and security to people as it provides explanations for events that are outside of people’s control. It also can establish and “maintain social control through a series of moral and ethical beliefs along with real or imagined rewards and punishments. (Kottak, 2013)” For most religious people, their beliefs are the very core of their world views. These believes also are important in defining humans’ ideas of what is right and wrong. If one does the right thing, one will go to heaven. If one does the wrong thing, hell awaits one.
According to different anthropologists religion serves different needs and not all agree on what these needs are. Edward Tyler suggested that religion evolves through stages: from animism to polytheism to monotheism and finally science. He believed that as the knowledge of science increases, the religious influence…...

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