Religion serves multiple functions, with implications for individuals, societies, and the world. It can be a comforting force, or it can be terrifying, as in the case of the religious communes that outlasted secular ones in nineteenth-century America. Most researchers, however, subscribe to Emile Durkheim’s notion of religion as the “glue” of society. Despite these differences, there is one common factor among all religions: Morality.
Religious beliefs define the cognitive aspect of religion
Cognitive scientists have been studying how human beings form religious beliefs for more than a century, and the results are interesting. According to one perspective, religion is a form of computation, and cognitive scientists have found that religious beliefs are based on similar principles to computation. Rather than a universally innate concept, belief systems are constructed from specific cultural factors. In other words, people form religious beliefs because of particular cultural factors and not because of the belief systems themselves.
Ritual interactions anchor religious beliefs
A religion is anchored in ritual interactions that reinforce core tenets. For example, in the Catholic mass, the faithful participate in a symbolic “last supper” and affirm their commitment to Jesus’ teachings. These rituals are often charged with positive emotions. The exalted feelings people experience during the ritual provide positive reinforcement, reinforcing their belief in their religion as “correct.”
Morality is a major focus of many religions
The concept of morality is central to many religious beliefs, but it can exist independently of faith in a deity. In many religions, morality is an ethical principle that must be upheld by individuals if they are to maintain the order of the world. A common example of this is the Old Testament, where God condones certain immoral acts. In addition, belief in a deity involves a belief in the existence of a supreme being.
Religion is a cultural universal
Although the concept of religion is culturally universal, the idea that it is only found in particular cultures is far from true. While different religions share some common traits, others are highly specialized. When studying religion, it is best to focus on two or three different religions, rather than trying to learn about every aspect of the world. Doing so will help you to avoid generalizing and becoming all over the place. Listed below are some of the key elements of each religion.
Religion is a competitive advantage for humans
Some research has suggested that religion gives humans a competitive edge. Millennials and Gen Xers value a holistic lifestyle, while older workers are more likely to seek religious guidance. However, religious diversity gives recruiters an edge. SHRM’s Religion and Corporate Culture survey found that religious accommodations affected employee morale the most. This finding might explain why religious diversity is now a key part of recruiting. There is no single answer to this question, but some employers are embracing it to a greater extent than they used to be.