Studying Religion in Anthropology and History

I often wonder what it’s like to study religion from an academic viewpoint for the believers of a religion. It sounds strange, but think about it. When religion is studied by secular academia, it seems to be “heartlessly” torn apart by science. For example, studying the origins of religions is a huge one. Most religions have their own narrative of how it began. The answer is already in the holy text, which is known to be the ultimate truth by believers. For example, in some religions, prophets were revealed beliefs that they passed on to others, so in those religions, people came to believe through that person. In studying religion, theories point to human evolution as the cause for religious belief saying things like symbolic thinking and group justice and coherence were causes. The big conflict is, it’s implied that in the study of religion by secular groups, that man created god/gods as opposed to god/gods created man (and everything else). In religions, their deities existed before humans and other animals and created them, not the other way around, so there’s an obvious clash. Religious teachings are the word of whatever deity one worships, and if it says that the deity came before man, then it must be true for believers. Studying religion taking the approach that religion was created by man, is in conflict with one’s beliefs then. To keep studying with that approach, something must be given up or reconciled, some religions may accommodate that, but the Abrahamic ones for example, don’t reconcile, their holy texts are the true word of God.

I guess that the religions studied may be not believed by someone as the ones in their research aren’t the one they personally believe in. So there can be a coexistence there, as the ones that are studied¬†were constructed by man in the believer’s opinion. But, what happens when they really look deep into it? If they’re open-minded to nit-picking at the foundation of religion, they may find that those other non-believed religions may have sprung up for reasons that their own could have easily sprung up from. And what happens if their religion is discovered to have “evolved” out of other, older religions. What about when religions borrow ideas from one another, what then? Other culture’s religions sprung up from things like abstract thinking, language, mental development, and so fourth, so one may think, why not mine too? I think that a person who is open to scientifically analyzing religion may feel uneasy about the foundations of their own religion. I wonder how they reconcile what their own religion teaches them, and what science teaches them about it too? Science makes a mighty strong argument…

Image result for evolution of religion

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About persnicketythecat

I like ancient and medieval history!
This entry was posted in Archaeology and Anthropology, Opinion Piece, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

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