NOV14NOT - November 14 Religion Health and Death Religion...

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November 14 -- Religion, Health, and Death Religion and the Supernatural Another very important human universal pattern which is related to our propensity for cultural transmission is belief in the supernatural . Why do people believe in supernatural powers and why there is so much worldwide cultural variability in what people believe in. An anthropological approach seeks to explain this variability and to explain the evolutionary and culture-historical origins of religious belief. I. Origins of Religion Religion has probably been a part of human lives for at least 50,000 years (since there are burials, some including other objects, among early Homo sapiens). Religion seems tied to the capacity for self-awareness , a capacity that is closely related to the use of arbitrary symbols in language. Some of the earliest writings contain religious ideas . Most religious writings from the middle East contain different versions of many of the same mythical events, for example Noah's flood. Thus, many historians have pointed out that it seems more likely the Bible contains versions of myths that already existed before the Hebrew writers. Other early religions have little or no similarity to middle eastern religions (eg. Buddhism, Hinduism, Aztec religion, etc.) suggesting completely independent origins. Since religion is universal, spreads rapidly and is quickly adopted in many cases, it seems likely that religion serves an important function . Humans all over the world often expend huge amounts of time and energy in participation in religious activities. Theory suggests that if an organism expends time and energy on a behavior, it must have some function, otherwise it would have been out competed by variants that did not “waste” that energy . Western dedication to religion is mild compared to many places in the world. A. There are many different ideas about the function of religion . 1) Explains the unexplainable 2) Relieves anxiety about future (and past) events 3) Promotes cooperation 4) Relieves anxiety from uncertainty about what to do 5) Justifies behavior 6) Passes on behavioral advice that might be questioned 7) Social manipulation & control
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A bit more about each of these hypotheses for the function of religion is presented below. 1) Explaining the unexplainable. Many difficult questions that humans ponder are answered by religious belief. If lack of understanding creates a stressful situation, any answer may relieve that stress . Most human societies are concerned with where they came from (Origin Myths) and what happens after death. They are also concerned with explaining natural phenomena such as lightning, winds, rain,.etc. 2) Relieves anxiety about future (and past) events . Humans are powerless over many things that happen to them in their lives. They realize this. They can conceive of a power beyond themselves which could make things happen for ill or good, perhaps that could assist one or give power over things that happen. --- connection with such a power might help them achieve their goals.
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NOV14NOT - November 14 Religion Health and Death Religion...

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