The Functions of Religion in Society


A person’s religion is a part of their life. It provides them with a general picture of the world and of themselves. Religions tell them about the purpose of the world and their place in it. They can also help them deal with the difficulties of their daily lives. In this article, we will look at Alternative Definitions of Religion, and the Functions of Religion in Society. This article also examines the ‘no such thing’ claim and alternative definitions of religion.

‘no such thing’ claim

The ‘No such thing’ claim in religion is a popular philosophical debate. While academics shun the use of the term, it is widely used in the popular world. Postmodern critics of religion say it is simply a cultural construct, and that it is not a religion at all. But, even with postmodern criticism, popular use of the word persists. For example, the Book of Mormon and the Koran both claim to be inspired by God, a miracle that is only possible in certain circumstances.

Alternative definitions of religion

There are several alternative definitions of religion. The Oxford Dictionaries defines religion as a belief in personal gods or superhuman powers. However, this definition has been criticized for its reliance on Judeo-Christian traditions. Scholars such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith have attempted to counteract the Judeo-Christian bias in the study of religion. Other scholars have questioned the meaning of religion outside of Western societies, including Daniel Dubuisson and Ernst Feil.

Existence of a social genus

Matt J. Rossano, a psychologist, argues that religion evolved after morality did. In religion, social scrutiny of individual behavior expanded to include supernatural agents that resisted selfishness and created cooperative groups. In this way, religion became an adaptive value that enhanced group survival. According to Rossano, religious belief is a social sanction that institutionalized morality. But individual religious beliefs are not ethical.

Functions of religion in society

Whether we admit it or not, religion has a role to play in our society. It shapes the way we behave and the formation of our attitudes and opinions. Moreover, it reinforces social inequality, promoting hostility and violence motivated by religious differences. The basic function of religion is to provide meaning and cohesion to the society, involving shared beliefs and values. However, religion has more functions than these. The following are some of the major roles religion plays in our society.


Animism is a religion that promotes the idea of metaphysical entities. They are sometimes referred to as spirits or souls, and are seen as life-forces that sustain all living things. These entities have both volitional and operational qualities. For example, a human soul, for example, may have many different personalities, each with different beliefs and personalities. In addition, many believe that a supernatural being is responsible for the occurrence of different kinds of phenomena in the world.

Totemistic religions

Totemistic religions are based on the worship of a totem. The totem may represent a family or tribe. The totem protects members of the tribe, and kin are not allowed to marry each other. Another example of totemism is found in Northwest Coast Indians, who set up totem poles and carved them with family legends and sacred animals. They worship these totems and appoint them to family members.

Monotheistic religions

Monotheistic religions are prevalent throughout the world and are not limited to highly technological societies. While scholars disagree over the origins of monotheism, some believe it originated in Egypt and Zoroastrianism. In fact, Jews generally consider their religion to be the earliest form of monotheism. However, this theory is controversial and has not been fully refuted. Let’s look at a few important points about monotheism.

Complexity of religion

This book contributes to the debate over secularization and the return of religion in Western societies. The rise of non-Christian religions, the decline of individual religiosity, and changes in religious beliefs are all influencing the practice and understanding of religion. While many sociologists have discounted the secularization theory and replaced it with a more holistic perspective of the’spiritual turn,’ others have held on to it. This book offers a new approach to this debate based on the concept of religious complexity.