Religion can be an important part of a person’s life and a source of support when faced with a difficult situation. A study of religion can teach students about the history of religious traditions and how people from different cultures live and interact with each other.
Definition of Religion
According to this definition, a religion is a group of beliefs, practices and a social organization that involves a belief in a supernatural being or beings. To be a religion, it must also meet other criteria such as a shared social identity and transmittable teachings.
Sociology of Religion
Many sociologists have focused on the functions that religion serves in society. Emile Durkheim, for example, stressed that religion is a way of unifying groups and strengthening social cohesion and stability.
Historically, religion has played an important role in social conflict and has fueled hostility and violence that lead to wars and persecution. In addition, religion can promote inequality and create social problems such as poverty.
Philosophy of Religion
In the twentieth century, a number of philosophers have made significant contributions to philosophical reflection on religion. These include Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus among others.
Psychology of Religion
In the psychology of religion, there are two general motivations for people to participate in religious activities. One is extrinsic, which includes a desire for peace, comfort, social status and other benefits that can be gained by participating in religion. The other is intrinsic, which is a desire to internalize religious experiences and beliefs.