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My Idea of Religion and Faith: Personal Reflection

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reflective essay about religion

Religion in Society: Sociology of Religion – Reflection Paper Essay

Many a times, people raise the question on the origin of religion; in addition, this question has fascinated philosophers as well as scientists throughout the centuries (Johnstone 21). Different religions have different practices of what they believe in and so the question remains; what is the origin of these practices.

Where did the notion that God exists come from? Due to these questions, many different answers have been given as a way of satisfying people’s curiosity. From my definition, religion is anything that a person relies on, which has pivotal value, whereby the person discovers indispensable wholeness as both an individual and person in the society. Nevertheless, religion can have numerous definitions particularly based on a person’s experience.

The emergence of Christianity gives the simplest answer as to where religion came from since it gives the answer that God came up with the idea of religion. Religious teachings, especially Christianity, record that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He created a man, animals, and everything else in the world and while in the Garden of Eden, he instilled rules that he wanted people in the garden to follow.

He also revealed his intentions by using prophets to get his message across to the people, and through this process, they recorded his words. In this process, there emerged the creation of religion via revelation. Christianity is not the only religion where there is divine origin; for instance, the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, stated that he received heavenly inspiration in his search for the truth as he sat under the tree known as bo (Johnstone 23).

Therefore, he got his religious practices through revelation. In the Islamic religion, Muhammad reports to obtain visions in a cave close to Mecca from the angel Gabriel. Looking at all the aforementioned reports, it is easy to see a dominant belief that a certain divine power interceded leading to what we know today as religion.

The followers of religious leaders who recorded the supernatural revelations believed it to be true and so there was the emergence of a religious system (Johnstone 23). Therefore, in my opinion, these religious leaders played a key role in developing religious practices that people follow in the world we live in and this trend will continue for many centuries to come.

Religion at times comes out as science particularly in an environment where thought and language give people control. There is the use of tools, shelters built, seeds planted, and clothes made to keep the body warm. However, in the past, people could not explain what caused the rain to fall, what caused the sun to rise and even where human beings came from. Different communities had varied explanations for all these and many other questions; nevertheless, the principles continued to be the same.

According to Taylor, one god was responsible for pulling the sun with his chariot across the sky, while another made the wind to blow and many other explanations (94). Therefore, it is clear that people believed that gods had something to do with creating the universe as well as humanity. For quite a number of years, the analyses made concerning the world made a lot of sense as they could underscore the existing facts.

Religion had an explanation for the world and so for the ancestors, science was a religion. At times crops failed, people died, and there was answering of prayers and people could see all these occurrences as gods’ doing. On the other hand, after the passing of many years, philosophers started to understand that gods did not have anything to do with the events that happened, the world simply obeyed the already rules of nature (Royce 36).

Apart from social scientists who have tried to explain where religion came from, anthropologists and especially those in the 19 th Century, came up with their own version of unraveling the mystery of the origin of religion.

In their belief, they have the notion that religion in a way came as a response to the various experience that people underwent in the world they lived (Johnstone 24). People went through mysterious, awesome, and horrifying events such as lighting, thunder, tidal waves, illness, death and many others and so they saw the need to know what caused those happenings, hence religious systems slowly came up.

From my perspective, I can see how this aspect led to the emergence of religion for people could not go through such traumatic events and not want to know the causes of the same. This realization explains the thinking of anthropologists such as Max Muller who represented the naturalistic school that put emphasis on the significance of nature’s physical acts like sunrises, storms, and tides. Anthropologist from the past believed that trees, rocks, people, and animals possessed spirits (Johnstone 25).

There exist psychological explanations with regard to identifying where religion came from. The explanation focuses on people’s emotional needs. It states that people are more likely to look for maintenance of emotional stability particularly when faced with danger, disruption, and insecurity (Johnstone 27).

They try to come up with answers as to why such bad things are happening to them and how they can fight against them in order to overcome, and at this point religion comes in because the rational mind cannot unravel the mysteries surrounding such issues.

Therefore, human beings look for divine intervention and look up to God to answer their prayers and show them the way to follow so that they can come out of the predicament they are in and look forward to a brighter future. In the Christian religion, the records hold that God loves everyone and whoever shall seek him will find him and this assurance underscores why God sent his only son so that he could die for the sake of mankind’s sins and relieve them of eternal punishment (Royce 63).

This aspect explains why many people who are having challenges think that they have done something wrong, hence the reason why God is punishing them. According to Sigmund Freud who is regarded as the “father of psychoanalysis”, religion comes entirely from the guilt that people feel after having done something wrong (Johnstone 28). Consequently, in his perspective, religion by definition is a mechanism that gives people room to sublimate most of the primitive instincts that they have, but society usually represses.

Looking at the sociological views that explain where religion came from, we go over the various explanations by diverse sociologists like Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Emile Durkheim, and Guy Swanson. According to Georg Simmel, faith has to exist in religion just as it is imperative in other human relationships.

Religious faith to a supreme being is crucial in our everyday today life (Johnstone 30). I agree with this assertion because, if people do not have faith in a supreme being, they are bound to lose hope in life especially when faced with seemingly insurmountable calamities. Having religious faith helps people to be in a position to believe even when one cannot see the Supreme Being and have trust that everything will work out favorably.

Despite the fact that the origins of religion for sure are not clear, speculation as well as research has however been successful. From chapter 2, it is clear that even though there are different suggestions as to where religion came from, it is clear that religion started a long time ago and it was build as a way of helping people to stay on the right path coupled with understanding some of the mysterious events that happen.

In my view, the psychological explanations stand out as I also believe and uphold the practices highlighted here. In most cases, people are going through challenging occurrences that they look for divine intervention to help them to sort out their issues. People have the belief that God helps people who help themselves, but I believe there are areas where people are unable to help themselves and so God has to intervene, and this area highlights the need for prayers, as they underscore the popular way of requesting assistance from God.

In addition to the aforementioned information, religion is also a way to enforce morality. People’s thinking capacity developed and so did their ego. Property and ego result to conflict and this explains why people kill each other in order to defend what is theirs. Uncontrolled egos on the other hand make people vulnerable and both of these aspects give way to moral decay. Therefore, religion came in as a way of underpinning morality.

Consequently, communities came up with moral codes, which are rules regarding life, sexual activities, as well as property. This aspect greatly helps people to put their behaviors in check. Different communities had different rules; however, there were some that remained the same; for example, do not steal, do not kill or do not commit adultery. Nevertheless, people are weak; therefore, the probability of breaking their own moral code is very high and so a strong community has to be present to ensure morality is enforced.

The strongest moral code however emanates from a supreme being because he lives forever and sees everything and has power over life and death; therefore, he commands the greatest respect. Identifying religion with morality has been happening for thousands of years such that many people believe there is no difference between the two. Religion in my opinion also came as a way of making communities to be united.

This move was extremely necessary particularly in a primitive world. Nevertheless, there was a time that religion turned to be very violent especially after the Islamic expansion almost 1400 years ago. There was no unification of communities especially in the 21 st century and every religion blamed other religions for the violence (Royce 118).

Overall, religion from my perspective was a good thing to emerge as it definitely acted as guidance for all human beings across the world. Otherwise, without religion, people would be acting in any manner that pleases themselves oblivious or ignorant of the consequences. Being able to answer to a supreme being makes people to become humble and aware that there are grave repercussions to any evil deed they engage in (Taylor 123).

From the chapter, it is clear that religion serves the purpose of giving people answers to concerns and questions over destiny, purpose, and mystery coupled with offering support and comfort in times of bereavement, danger, and death among other eventualities. Religion is also important, as it is real unlike in magic where there is a creation of illusions and people get false hope.

Religion offers a safe haven for people who are in need of help and particularly divine intervention. From reading chapter 2, it is evident where religion came from irrespective of whether it is a theory or from scientific evidence.

All the information given allows us to realize that religion has come a long way to reach where it is today. It also makes us to realize the vital role played by religious leaders from the past who made it possible for people to believe in a supreme being and thus uphold to the rules and practices of religion that help in instilling morality amongst people.

Works Cited

Johnstone, Ronald. Religion in Society, A Sociology of Religion. 8th ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2007. Print.

Taylor, Justin. Where did Christianity come from? Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2001. Print.

Royce, Josiah. Sources of religious insight 1912 . New York: Kessinger Publishing, 2003. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2023, November 13). Religion in Society: Sociology of Religion - Reflection Paper. https://ivypanda.com/essays/reflection-paper-religion-in-society-a-sociology-of-religion/

"Religion in Society: Sociology of Religion - Reflection Paper." IvyPanda , 13 Nov. 2023, ivypanda.com/essays/reflection-paper-religion-in-society-a-sociology-of-religion/.

IvyPanda . (2023) 'Religion in Society: Sociology of Religion - Reflection Paper'. 13 November.

IvyPanda . 2023. "Religion in Society: Sociology of Religion - Reflection Paper." November 13, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/reflection-paper-religion-in-society-a-sociology-of-religion/.

1. IvyPanda . "Religion in Society: Sociology of Religion - Reflection Paper." November 13, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/reflection-paper-religion-in-society-a-sociology-of-religion/.


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Reflection About World Religion

The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Reflection About World Religion. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.

Conflict due to differences can only be addressed if understanding exists among people. The aforementioned adage greatly exemplifies the way by which various religions in the world should be viewed by people. In the past decades, many changes have taken place in the society, which involves the greater interaction and interconnectedness of states and people of different nationalities.

Being the case, it cannot be prevented that religious differences will become an issue in the relation among people and nations. In most countries, people have a strong adherence to their respective religious beliefs and practices, which usually has a huge influence in the decisions and actions that they make. As a result, studying different religions in the world is necessary and pivotal in order to understand other people and establish a society that actually understands each others’ religious differences.

The idea of “us” versus “them”, which is actually rooted from the difficulty of most people to understand and accommodate beliefs and practices that are different from them can be better addressed by means of studying world religions. People should learn to tolerate each other religious beliefs, which is exactly the same argument of Voltaire when he introduced the concept of deism. Deism is “a vague substitute for traditional religion which acknowledged a creator and some sort of divine justice, but rejected most of the other fundamental beliefs of Christianity” (Voltaire, 1763, n.

reflective essay about religion

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p.). Voltaire created A Treatise on Toleration during the time wherein the Christian leaders rule the society. He preached that all people have the obligation to tolerate each other when it comes to religious differences, even to the point of tolerating superstitious beliefs. In the same manner, Immanuel Kant, who is also one of the leading minds during the time of enlightenment like Voltaire also supported the idea of bestowing more freedom among individuals in practicing their respective religious belief. According to Kant, in order for enlightenment to be established and be fully realized freedom is necessary. For Kant the essence of freedom is seen in the way by which every individual can be able to use his or her sense of reason in various matters, which include public use (Kant, 1784). In this sense, for an individual to be truly enlightened it is necessary to use his or her sense of reason in making important decisions and actions, which also include choosing his or her own religious belief and practices.

Why Study World Religions Essay

The ideas of Kant and Voltaire actually works hand-in-hand with each other because freedom is necessary in order for people to have liberty in adhering to a religious belief that they want and tolerance is also important in order for people to understand each others’ differences. The revolutionary ideas that Kant and Voltaire proposes took place during the time that people are under the rule of Christian beliefs wherein the only religion that are recognized is that of Christianity. Nevertheless, Kant, Voltaire, and other important people during the time of enlightenment pursued greater freedom for the people, especially in thinking and deciding for oneself that included religious decision. At the present time, people are also facing another problem and that is the conflict brought about by religious differences. In order to address the aforementioned dilemma people should understand other religion in the world and should not merely focus on their own respective beliefs and practices. In line with this, my experiences in taking a course about world religions have also substantially changed and influence my way of thinking about other religious beliefs and practices wherein I was able to understand and accept other religious faiths that are different from mine.

During my free time, I tend to watch television and observe what is currently happening in the society. After surfing different television channels, I was able to find a channel with which discusses religion. I was curious; therefore I tried to listen to the message given by a pastor.  After listening to the preaching, I have realized that his religion and message is only similar to the religion I am practicing. The message of the pastor was very logical for it points that people must put important to worship as an individual. In my own religion, worship is needed to be practiced by everyone for many times a day. A worship of an individual is very significant to secure a person’s belief and have a stronger connection with God.

Nonetheless, the pastor mentioned that prayer is a personal way to ask for forgiveness, talk to God and praise him for all the kindness and love that He gives. It was mentioned that there are people who forget to pray due to the busy lifestyle of the current society. Hence, people must be aware that they have a duty to communicate give worship to God.

Moreover, it have realized that the both my religion as well as the religion of the pastor is encouraging every individual to have a deeper connection and relationship of God. The only difference of both religions is the practices and norms. For I practice an Islam religion, we call our god Allah and we use the Quran to see the message of God. However, this is only few details that make Islam and Christianity as different religions. In reality, I do view Christianity as similar religions with different practices and priorities.

In my reflection of what I have seen on the television, I am reminded of the lines provided by Jalal ad-Din Rumi where in he mentions: “ The man of God is drunken without wine…The man of God is made wise by the Truth…” (Nicholson, 1898). Therefore, it is states that a man could not live without God. The author presents that the word God is a universal word for a being that is served and worshiped by most people. In addition to this the author mentioned that he is neither a Christian, a Muslim nor a Jew, for he is placeless and his body and soul only belongs to God. Therefore, he states that no one owns him but the God who created the earth and the sea for He is the only one he believes to have created him.

In the writing of King Ashoka, it was clearly mentioned that the religious belief of an individual is not based on the label of the religion but on attaining similar goals. King Ashoka stated that his men were required to work together with other ethnic tribes that would be an able to allies for attaining one cause. There are different people whom they create relationships and understanding in order to relieve themselves from harassments and violence. Each of the sectors of the society come together for them to obtain a higher form of relationship that would be helpful in attaining peace, understanding and unity. Thus, the literature of King Ashoka sought o explains that it is the duty of one individual or one group to link each community to attain growth the stop chaos (Dhammika, 1993).

On the other hand, John Locke also has his own perspective with regards to religion. Due to various religions which are present in the society, he stated that there had been instances where people boast of what they know and what they have. There are debates which had happened yet he questions the authenticity of the true religion. Locke views that due to human nature, they tend to boast and proclaim that they are the best religion. Hence, it is human nature which creates such type of conflict with religions. The theorist elaborated that people should not base their actions and pride with the scriptures present hence, the logic of love must make individuals act for the realizations of the goals of a religion. Given this, the scripture which is being read by all religious groups must be practiced with association to love. Through love any religion is effective in attaining its goals. Love enables individuals to pass the love and create good deeds for others. In addition to this, the efficacy of religion becomes evident with the actions done by its disciples. It is not through superiority of religion that people could see the greatness of a religious belief but through the love being extended towards others (1689).

Conflicts due to religious differences are no longer a new occurrence or issue for me because I have observed and even personally experience being part of a dispute that is caused by the various religious belief and practices that people have. Debates about religious differences is a common incident among my peers, especially since we all have strong convictions and emotions about our respective religion. There are instances wherein my friends and I would talk about a certain issue like the on-going disputes and war that are happening in the Middle East. The 2003 Iraq War is one of the most common topics that we talked about, especially during the time that the war is still taking place. One of my friends has clearly hated the Bush Administration and even the American society because he believes that these people have a superiority complex wherein they want other nations to bow down to them. On the other hand, my other friends will try to reason out with him and point out that the untoward and violent actions of Muslim fundamentalist should be blamed for the invasion of American in Iraq. A simple discussion about war and politics would eventually lead to religious differences wherein one of my friends will say that most Americans hate Muslims and in-turn one would say that the dogmatic ways of Christians is actually the problem. I have to admit that I also have my own take in the discussion wherein I believe that most Christians just do not accept the Islamic faith.

However, my untoward feelings about the Christian religion were changed once I have participated in my world religion class. I can still remember one of our topics about the Blind Men and the Elephant wherein blind men were asked “what sort of thing is an elephant?” after they have already touched a certain part of the animal (Wang, 1995). The blind men gave different descriptions of the elephant based on the parts of the animal that they have touched. However, despite the differences in their description the blind men are all describing an elephant, which is also synonymous to religious differences. The existence of various religious beliefs is similar to the different parts of the elephant wherein people are actually believing in one divine being the only difference are the way they call their religion and the manner by which they practice their faith towards the supreme being that they believe in.

In the end the current society there are many religions which are present. There are debates over what is the best religion in the world. But in reality, religions are merely beliefs that could not be measured. Hence, there is no such thing a “greatest religion.” As mentioned by great theorists in the past, religion is important in the society yet every religion is similar to one another. There are differences but all of those are caused by norms and practices. As mentioned by John Locke, it is love that makes the world a better place. Through the devotion of each individual with their own beliefs, love will arise and extend the goodness towards others. Furthermore, religion should be a factor that bind people together not an aspect that would hinder individuals from attaining goals such as peace, equity and understanding (2002; 2010).

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    2.1 Religion's mitigating role in people's anxiety. Regular rituals and faith in religion promote a sense of control over the future and the unknown in people's daily lives, which effectively reduces anxiety, alleviates psychological stress, and enhances people's mental health. Haney et al. [8] pointed out that people with high religious belief ...

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