Pros and Cons of Religion


During the course of human history, religions have brought people together and helped them understand their world. However, they have also divided them. This has led to wars, prejudice, and oppression.

Pros of Religion

Religious faith gives individuals a sense of meaning and moral guidance. It also helps them learn to be responsible members of their community and society at large.

It can provide comfort, motivation, and hope to those who feel hopeless or are suffering from depression or grief. It can also give them a moral compass to help them navigate their lives and avoid making bad decisions.

Some research has shown that certain religions can improve health and life expectancy. This may have something to do with the social contact and support that is provided through these religious communities.

Religions can also teach people to be good citizens and contribute to the community. These are just a few of the many benefits that come from religious faith and practice.

Definitions of Religion

In recent decades, a variety of attempts have been made to define religion. These approaches range from monothetic (wherein a single criterion is applied to determine whether or not a particular form of life is religion) to polythetic (wherein a number of characteristics must be present in order for a person to be considered a member of a religion).

One of the more common monothetic-set definitions of religion is that given by Edward Burnett Tylor, who in 1871 defined it as “the belief in spiritual beings.” This definition is often viewed as a strict and precise criterion. This approach is useful because it entails relatively clear lines between what is and is not religion, so that when we look at a form of life, we can tell what aspects are included in it and what are absent from it.

Another important version of the definition is that developed in the twentieth century, wherein a functional approach to religion is taken. This is the approach that Emile Durkheim took in 1912, when he defined religion as “whatever system of practices unite a number of people into a single moral community.”

The functional definition is an important shift in thinking about the nature of religion. It entails that, for a person to be considered a religion, he or she must be involved in a particular form of practice, and the particular practice must involve the presence of a unique kind of reality.

This approach, in contrast to a classical definition of religion, is more likely to reveal surprising patterns within the class and co-appearances of properties that can lead to explanatory theories. This approach also has the benefit of avoiding the problem that Alston raised in his classic article, wherein he tried to explain how an entire class could have a single defining property.

Finally, a third definition of religion that is not too far removed from the functional definition is that developed in the nineteenth century by Sigmund Freud, wherein he defined religion as “an assemblage of psychological states.” In this view, religion refers to a complex of different cognitive and emotional states that are experienced by members of a specific group or community.