Living with religion is seeing the world as differing social realities.
Religion as a concept has always been a point of interest in sociology and anthropology. In classical thought, religion has been interpreted in many ways. For instance, Karl Marx argued that religion is the opium of the masses – it alleviates the suffering of people and gives them hope for a better life beyond this world. Emile Durkheim asserted that religion is a collective expression of consciousness by which people perceive a force that is greater than them. Max Weber, on the other hand, saw religion as something to be studied based on the meanings attributed to it by the individual.
There is a diversity of beliefs in our social world. As social beings, our identities and expressions, religious or otherwise, are influenced by the group. But regardless of a person’s religious background, finding meaning in its values and acting based on its tenets are done as individuals. And these have consequences.
Religion, as a significant field in sociology and anthropology, does not seek to create angels and saints on earth; it moves on a deeper, societal level.
Rather than looking at religion as a personal and sacred invitation to another world, we can also interrogate its function in societies today and throughout history. We can examine the conflicts it generates, from assertions of religious identity to the struggle for power and recognition. In the social sciences, there is always an attempt to explain the dialectical relationship between religion and society, and their effects on one another.
Religion is a source of solidarity, conflict, and relative truths. As such, it leaves a lot of room for the investigation of the ways religion makes us believe in certain things and act in certain ways.
Featured image taken from this site.