Understanding the Origins of Religion


There are many definitions of religion. In fact, different cultures use different terms to refer to the same phenomena. Some people define religion as the belief in a god or a supernatural being, while others see it as a social genus. Whatever the definition, the fact remains that religion has been around for a very long time. Humans have believed in disembodied spirits and cosmological orders for as long as history can record. However, we can also find cultures that had no belief in an afterlife, no supernatural beings, and no explicit metaphysics.

Functional analysis of religion

The functional analysis of religion aims to investigate the ways in which religion reinforces aesthetic criteria. This may include aesthetic concerns like simplicity, elegance, and harmony. Furthermore, it attempts to uncover the uses of religion in politics.

Closed polythetic accounts

Closed polythetic accounts of religion reject the idea that religion is a concept with a single defining property. They recognize that religions share many defining properties, but reject the claim that they have a single ahistorical essence. These accounts of religion are considered akin to ethnocentric perspectives.

Naturalistic approaches

Some researchers have attempted to understand the origins of religion by looking at the evolution of species. They point to the role of religion in the successful propagation of genes, and to the ways religions help us deal with the complexities of mating. Others have focused on the interaction between gene and culture, examining how religions can improve prosociality and the transmission of cultural ideas.

Xi’s view

In 2016, Xi Jinping announced his hardline vision for the management of religion in China. He stressed the importance of Chinese-oriented religious practices and warned against foreign influences. He also called on Party members to be steadfast Marxist atheists. He emphasized the need to protect the nation’s unity and stability.

Tillich’s view

The fundamental premise of Tillich’s view of religion is that history is a metaphor for the divine Spirit. History is a metaphor because it describes the real world and the human condition. As a result, it implies the solution to the problems of life and the conquest of these problems. This ties into the idea of Eternal Life.

Durkheim’s view

Emile Durkheim was a French sociological theorist who wrote about religion. His work can be found in many publications, including the Sociology of Religion and The Place of Sociology. These are considered seminal works in the field of social sciences.