Why Is There Religion?

Why is there religion?

When we refer to Western culture, religion is viewed as something private. It is something that everyone keeps to themselves as a sign of secularism. People are allowed to be religious, but practice their faith behind closed doors. However, this is only possible in theory and in some countries, including European ones, the world religions are still very present. The religious practices of minorities are being forgotten due to secularization, but majority religions are being put on a pedestal when it comes to collective action. One of the reasons for this is that religion and politics cannot be completely separated from one another.

Before we talk about religious orientation, let’s distinguish between religion and religiosity. Religions are timeless and universal; they don’t change with time or space. Religiousness is the way in which believers live out their religion. Religiousness is a subjective experience that depends on the type of follower. It is therefore an individual matter that does not necessarily have to conform to the rules of religion. It is extremely variable in time and space.

Regardless of the social or legal norms that hinder or promote religious practices, everyone lives their religion differently. People can experience their faith in four different ways, namely extrinsic, intrinsic, religion as a search, and religious fundamentalism.


Extrinsic and intrinsic religious motivation

These are the first two categories in which religion is viewed. They separate people who use religion as a means to an end – to achieve personal or social gain, e.g. B. Group acceptance – by those who practice it for their own sake, such as by praying privately. People with an extrinsic orientation use religion, while those with an intrinsic orientation see their religion as an enrichment of their own life without the outside world being involved.

If religion is a basic motive for life, center and absolute criterion for decisions, then it is practiced out of intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, those with extrinsic motivations view religion in a utilitarian way. It is a means to an end to preserve their interests and needs such as justification, security, social status and support. Many people follow both forms of motivation.

Muslims in Mecca

Religion as a search for answers

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation guide us towards understanding religion as a way of searching for answers. The believer asks fundamental questions about the meaning of existence. People who understand their faith in this way see doubts – including about religion – as something positive and are open to discussion. You are critical and flexible at the same time. You take a position that is characterized by doubts and the search for identity.

In general, the search for answers encourages dialogue about the great existential questions that arise in the face of contradictions and tragedies.

Buddhist monks

Religious fundamentalism

Religious fundamentalism is based on the belief that there is a religious doctrine that contains the absolute truth about humanity and one or more gods. This opposes everything else and fights the evil forces. His followers practice their beliefs in accordance with the fundamental and unchanging practices they have been taught in the past.

Fundamentalists can be intrinsically as well as extrinsically motivated, the latter being more common. They tend to believe that followers of their religion are always right while everyone else is wrong. This leads them to build and cultivate prejudice. They distance them from other groups, which they can no longer get to know. Their interpretation of reality is designed to confirm their stereotypes. People who advocate fundamentalism also often claim to have a special relationship with God.

Christians with a cross

So there are several ways to follow a religion. Each group and each person does this in a different way. No religion is fundamentally better or worse than another, it is about how we practice it. Whether we limit the freedom of others by doing it. Another problem arises when we try to impose our religion on others.

Adjusting to a different understanding of the world and religion is not easy and takes time, but our coexistence could and should be peaceful. And that can be achieved if we build it on respect. Likewise, states, countries and other political entities should not prescribe religion.

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