The Study of Religion

Categories : Gembing


Religion is a broad and diverse category of human phenomena that consists of spiritual or supernatural components. It can also refer to a set of cultural or moral beliefs and practices. Religions vary widely across time and place, changing over the course of generations. Some change radically while others remain stable.

While religion is often seen as a force for good, it can also cause problems. For example, it can inhibit protests and impede changes that would improve the life of society. It can even postpone reforms that could improve health or social conditions. It can create a strong sense of belonging and promote family stability. It can also support charity, aid in economic development and provide guidance to those in need.

The 19th century saw a number of important developments that set the stage for modern study of religion. The first was Durkheim’s definition of religion, based on its function to foster solidarity and social integration. This approach was influenced by the rise of social science and natural science, and it sought to understand religion in terms of its societal impact.

Another way to approach the study of religion is by looking at its structure. This formal strategy often seeks to find a pattern that resembles known cases. Zeldin, for example, argues that religious people tend to share narrative structures that include the notion of a fall from and return to an ideal state. Other scholars, such as Lemert and Blasi, take the structure of related discontinuity between an empirical, mundane level order and a supraempirical, cosmic-level order as definitive of religion.