Shradha Rane – BMS , Perusing MBA at Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai
What is religion?
A religion is a ritualized system of beliefs and practices related to things defined as sacred by an organized community of believers. Religion may take a variety of forms. Religious beliefs give meaning to life, and the experiences associated with them provide personal gratification as well as a release from the frustrations and anxieties of daily life.
Many people believe that religion occurs only in the church, temple, or other spiritual places of gathering. They see religion and society as complete, separate entities. While this view may appear correct on the surface, a closer look at religion and society reveals that the two are not separate at all, but intricately interconnected and codependent. In reality, religion is inherent within many aspects of society, and religious beliefs inevitably affect areas such as politics, economics, and cultural values. This relationship between religion and society can be seen in Islamic religion and Muslim social culture, Christianity and economics, and Buddhism and politics. In each of these religions we can find insight for understanding the society in which it exists, as well as in the comparison of these religions and their relationships with society.
Different religions have developed in radically different ways with the differences largely being cultural. The biggest difference in most cases is that some religions put the emphasis on belief while others put the emphasis on practice. Basically this means that in some cases the most important thing is that you believe the doctrines of the religion while in other cases it is more important what you do than that you actually believe what is being taught.
Religion has a huge impact on the daily life of almost everybody, far bigger than most people realize. Our society is built on religion so even if you are not a believer yourself the fact remains that most of the way that society works is based on religious teachings. The result is that almost every aspect of your daily life has been influenced by religion.
Probably the biggest influence that religion has on everyday life is that the laws and the social customs that exist in society are almost all based on religious teachings. While it could be argued that similar laws would be made by a society that had no god the fact remains that the laws as they exist are mostly an extension of religion. Since these laws govern almost all of your daily behavior you are being influenced by religion in almost everything that you do.
A lot of people would suggest that the modern standard of living that we enjoy is largely the result of religion which is another way that it influences your life. The belief is that in order to reach the level of development that we have it has been necessary for people to cooperate. The problem is that people are by nature selfish. Our ability to get along and work together is largely the result of religious teachings. Without religion we would never have been able to develop the modern world that we inhabit.
Religion affects our family life as well; marriage is after all a religious convention. While it is possible that couples would pair bond for life without religion the evidence would suggest that this is unlikely in most cases. The idea of a couple staying together for life seems to be largely the result of religion. Without it the most likely scenario is that they would have relatively short term relationships that last until one of the parties decides to move on. Clearly this would not be a good situation for the children involved and the use of a religious marriage ceremony appears to be what keeps people together.
One of the aspects of religion that has also influenced people in daily life is the idea of clean living. Almost all religions teach this. Without religion it is likely that we would not eat a healthy diet and adequate exercise. It is also likely that we would engage in unhealthy acts like drug abuse. Certainly religion has not prevented this from happening in all cases but it has certainly had an impact Most people consider religion to be important, but this does not mean that it is beyond criticism. This criticism comes from many different directions and is not limited just to those who have no religious faith. There are many people who believe the teachings of a particular religion who still find grounds to criticize it. One of the biggest criticisms of religion is that they teach things that are clearly not true. This has become an increasing problem as science has grown in importance. It is now fairly well established for example that most of what is taught in the Bible is not correct from a scientific standpoint. That being the case it is hard for a lot of people to take the other teachings of the religion seriously. Trying to reconcile religion and science is something that many people have attempted to do but virtually all attempts have failed pretty badly. The other big criticism of religion is that a lot of what is taught is contradictory. This is not just an issue between the different religions but also within a single religion. There are many stories and histories that are part of all religions that contradict other stories and histories that are part of the same religion. Even worse there are number of situations where the rules that are supposed to govern the behavior of people are contradictory. Religion also has a bit of a problem in that it can’t keep pace with changes in society. All religions have similar rules that people are expected to follow even though they no longer make any sense. The last big criticism of religion is the lack of tolerance that most religions show. While most religions teach the love of fellow man this apparently does not apply to those of different faiths.
There have been many wars and other atrocities over the years because of religious belief. Even if we usually don’t go that far in most cases there is still a lack of tolerance that has a negative effect on society. This has turned a lot of people off of religion while at the same time leading others to take a more fundamentalist approach. The result is that there is now a lot of conflict between people of different faiths.
Religion is an important part of life for many people. Even people who are not all that religious by nature consider it to be important. The question is why do they feel this way? The reason is largely down to the belief that society needs religion. As a society we benefit from our collective religious beliefs. In fact there are many people who would argue that we could not function without religion.
The biggest reason that society needs religion is to regulate behavior. Most of the laws that we follow today have their basis in religious teachings. There is considerable debate as to whether or not religion is required to make us good people but what is beyond dispute is that the rules for what is acceptable for society are largely based on religion. Without religion we would almost certainly live in a different type of society, it can be debated whether it would be better or worse but it would certainly be different.
Society is largely based on the idea of cooperation. This can be a bit of a tricky issue since as humans we are selfish by nature. There is an obvious problem here; we need to work together to be successful but for the most part we can benefit personally by being selfish. Religion has proven to be an effective way to get around this problem. Religion teaches that we should work together and help each other and it discourages the kind of selfish behavior that would make a functioning society impossible. Certainly there are selfish people who are willing to take advantage of others for their own benefit. However the fact that the people who do this are in the minority is largely down to religion.
One last reason that we need religion is that it gives us something to believe in. People need to believe that there is a reason for what they are doing and that there is a reason for life. Religion provides this for them. This is what gives people the desire to go out and work every day and to try to make the world a better place. They do it because they believe there is a meaning behind it all. This is largely down to religion. Practising religion is just not enough today we need to respect other religion as well and live in harmony.