In this article, we explore Religion as a social genus, a set of beliefs and practices regarding the supernatural, and as a means of controlling the uncontrollable parts of the environment. Religion reflects the diversity of human culture, but some similarities exist between the major religions. For example, all three major religions have a common beginning – a natural curiosity about life and a fear of uncontrollable forces. These two factors fueled the development of religion, turning them from a petty fear of death into a hopeful hope for immortality and a compassionate creator.
Religion as a social genus
As a sociological concept, religion has been called a pan-human genus because it is universal and has the potential to affect more than one culture. According to some scholars, religion is a set of beliefs and practices that produce social cohesion and provide meaning to human lives. This definition has been used for over two thousand years, but the social reality labeled as religion is much older. So what are the characteristics of religion?
The three-sided model of truth is the classic account of what social groups teach. However, it ignores the material reality of people. The fourth C, community, can represent this reality. Although Catherine Albanese may be the first to propose the inclusion of a materialist dimension, Ninian Smart’s seven-dimensional model is more apt. In both models, religion is an important feature of the social world, and it may be crucial to understanding the role it plays in society.
Religion as a set of beliefs and practices pertaining to the supernatural
The persistence of religion is explained by the fundamental principles of theodicy. This concept is fundamental to human beings’ ability to construct a meaningful world through belief systems that incorporate the supernatural. Theodicies take many forms, from Christianity to Theravadan Buddhism to non-religion. Each of these religious constructs has different characteristics. Here are some examples:
Morals: Humans behave in moral ways, and most religions have moral codes to dictate how humans should behave. Some religions are based on following a “path of goodness,” a path of duty, or the truth. In China, this path is called the Tao. In the Christian world, it is called the Ten Commandments. While morals are important, not all religions have the same set of rules.
Religion as a means of controlling uncontrollable parts of the environment
The historical roots of environmental crises have been widely discussed in theology and history, and in many religions, the idea of over-exploitation of nature is encouraged by the sacred texts. Similarly, in Nairobi, Kenya, a recent interfaith world environment day was held where members of various faiths came together to plant trees and host an inter-faith youth forum. Today, people are putting enormous pressure on our planet, depleting scarce resources and polluting the air and water we breathe. Religion-based organizations play a pivotal role in combating climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.