Religion basically originates from an effort to characterize and classify actions, imaginings, feelings, and beliefs that come up in reaction to express familiarity of the spiritual and the sacred. As this endeavor develops in its embellishment and formulation, it then becomes a course that generates denotation for its own on a supporting foundation, with respect to its instigating experiences as well as its own ongoing responses. Therefore, my background and life experiences with respect to religion have greatly affected my perception on the issue of religion and through learning the numerous theories behind religion has really changed my view of the aspects surrounding religion.
Psychology of Religion
The Psychology of religion generally comprises on the application of numerous psychological techniques along with interpretive frameworks towards explaining religious customs, and more so to both irreligious and religious individuals. This type of scientific approach to religion tries to precisely illustrate the details, genesis, and applications of religious behaviors and beliefs. My religious background as a Christian has clouded me with personal experiences which majorly differ with the issue of religion psychology whereby since I was a kid I believed that religious customs emanated from the bible and revolved around those individuals mentioned in it. Therefore this part of religious study is quite confusing.
The early theorists who attempted to research on the psychology of religion basically used threefold approach towards it where they first provided a thorough account of the matter to be analyzed, and then describe using psychological terms why such a phenomenon rose, and eventually make clarifications of such happenings. Interestingly, psychologists applied psychology to explain what religion was instead of leaning on the holy books like the Quran and the bible and even though their explanations have enlarged my perspective on religion, I am still sticking to the biblical teachings (Forsyth 2003).
Sociology of Religion
The Sociology of religion is defined as the approach of practices, beliefs, and the organizational structures of religion in studying by the use of methods and tools of sociology. This point research may embrace the employment of quantitative methods like census, demographic, polls, and surveys analysis and also qualitative approaches like the analysis of documentary, historical, and archival materials, interviewing and participant observation. For instance, contemporary academic sociology started with the study of religion in 1897 by Émile Durkheim who studied the rates of suicide amongst the Protestant and Catholic populations, which was an introductory work of societal research and it served to differentiate sociology from further disciplines like that of psychology. Moreover, the sociological studies by Max Weber and Carl Marx emphasized on the connection of religion to the social or economic structure of a society. These modern arguments have revolved around issues like religion’s cohesiveness, civil religion, secularization, in the perspective of multiculturalism and globalization (Hamilton 1995).
Buddhism and Jainism
Jainism and Buddhism are two divisions of the renowned Shramana custom that yet exist today. The Jainism religion has in the past been mainly restricted to India, while that of Buddhism began in Nepal although afterward prospered in additional Asian nations in the Middle Ages. The two religions actually share numerous features as well as the same expressions. Through reading of religious outlets, I had noted that Buddhism existed in Asia but had no idea whether there was an earlier religion from where Buddhism was carved from (Verma & Bakshi 2005).
Carl Gustav Jung was influenced by Sigmund on his theory of analytical psychology. Sigmund Freud used the theory of Oedipus complex towards his explanations on the origin of religion and went further to reconstruct the biblical history according to his general idea. Moreover, he speculated that religion as being an illusion from which a man had to be released from the fantasy structure so that he grows to maturity (Forsyth 2003). The reconstructed biblical history on the origin of religion is apparently confusing since the bible has clearly mentioned all chronological events which took place therefore the theories borne by Freud and Jung are out of line.
Edward Evans-Pritchard was an English societal anthropologist and he majorly pioneered massive research on religion, history, and social structure of the Arab and African people. He did expansive ethnographic research on the Nuer and Azande people and studied their religion and culture. He argued that understanding the social context together with social function of the community was key to knowing its religion. The religious conviction of the Azande community surrounding oracles and witchcraft were vital in resolving any disputes in the community (Launay 1992). My grandmother narrated to me about our community’s traditions and one of them was that they used to sacrifice an animal to the gods so that it rains and therefore the customs of the Azande people is understandable since by then that was their religion.
As mentioned earlier, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber were sociological theorists regarding religion. These three scholars have enlightened me on how I viewed religion since I never thought it in terms of its impact to the society and therefore studying religion has broadened my mind towards it. The subject was generally helpful in widening my perception towards religion and more so acquiring different views on the origin of religion apart from the universal biblical one.