Acaydia School of Aesthetics LLC Various Reasons for Studying Religion Report – Assignment Help

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See the attachments on how to take

1. After Reading my E-lecture on “Why Study Religion “

2. Complete Cornell notes on the lecture,

* See the attached Cornell Notes template I have provided. Please use this template E-Lecture: Why Study Religion



Religion is a universal phenomenon among humans. Humans in all societies, throughout history, have been religious. Thus, religion is a social phenomenon.

Religion is difficult to define. It is often taken for granted until one has to explain its exact meaning.

Defining religion is difficult because some definitions are too narrow and some are too general. Some only allow for supernatural phenomenon and some only explain what religion does, not what it is.

An adequate definition of religion will avoid narrowness, vagueness, and will include distinctiveness and generality. It will also avoid being prejudicial or reductive.

There are two reasons why finding an adequate definition of religion is important:

  • Scholars in the field of religion argue that despite the many differences, religions do share similar characteristics. This can be understood in terms of family resemblances. Each is unique but they share certain traits.
  • To avoid confusion and bias in an important field of study. If scholars of religion cannot define what it is, how can the study of religion be seen as relevant? Boundaries that help clarify what religion is will bring order to a phenomenon that is important to many humans.

A functional definition defines religion by what it does (how it functions), not what it is. A functionalist definition, when used exclusively, is insufficient as a definition of religion because religious believers are committed to their religions because of what it is. In other words, those who are religious, do not claim to be religious because of what religion does for them but because of their beliefs, which include belief in an Ultimate reality, often deity, etc. If scholars only defined religion by what it did, they would not be taking seriously the language and motivation of the followers of religion.

Clifford Geertz offers a functionalist definition that recognizes the “aura of factuality” that is present among religious believers. In other words, religious beliefs are real for people who follow them. They are so real, that they set up deep-seated patterns for how to conduct life, through simple beliefs that model the proper order of the universe and human nature, etc. This is called cosmology.

These models are very real for followers and cannot be ignored by scholars by simply looking at what religion does.

A substantive definition of religion examines what religion is. The term used to describe what religion is must be applicable to many different religions. “Sacred” is the most appropriate, according to Livingston.

Livingston’s working definition of religion is “Religion is that system of activities and beliefs directed toward that which is perceived to be of sacred value and transforming power.” p. 8


Humans have the ability to be self-conscious or to be concerned with self-transcendence. Humans are concerned with the big questions of life: “Why am I here?” “Is death the end?” etc.

Humans want answers and archtypal patterns (frames of reference) to our big questions.

Human beings are religious in order to be delivered from moral guilt, loss, fear, and the threat of fatedness and finitude.


Religion should be studied because:

  • humans are essentially religious; thus it is an important endeavor to understand human beings more fully.
  • to overcome our ignorance of other religions and cultures. Humans often have a narrow, ethnocentric, view because we tend to think of religion as what we have been accustomed to.
  • to comprehend our culture. By studying religion, we can better understand American culture.
  • to achieve a global perspective. The proximity of humans to one another is getting smaller with the advent of technology. Many conflicts worldwide are rooted in long-standing religious differences. By studying different traditions, we can seek real understanding and dialogue between others that may seem “different” from us at first glance.
  • to help us formulate our own religious belief or philosophy of life. As we study religion academically, we can gain a better understanding of our own beliefs.

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