To understand the concept of religion, its effects, and the role it plays in the modern society, we first of all need to get the pure non-diluted meaning of religion; not the current corrupted versions which link religion to some crazy individuals or groups of people.
Religious consciousness is experienced when “God moves towards man and of man towards God” (Odhiambo 2008). Consequently, for man to find the fulfillment of all highest aspiration he must entrust the Lord who made a personal covenant with him as man is aware he has received his existence and its physical benefits as a gift, and so he offers back to God a tribute, a sacramental expression of gratitude so as to proclaim the reward of the greatest good that is contained in this as, as God is and does, so human beings must be and do (The Holy Bible). But the truth is that the secret of the Most High God who created all things cannot be attained by our own ability and perceptions. Otherwise there would be no difference between God and man.
Religion is neither discovered nor produced by man, it is a divinely induced occurrence that presupposes the supremacy of a spiritual reality. From my religious point of view, I disagree with Durkheim on the notion that God and religion was a creation of man. The moral aspect described by Durkheim is true beyond any doubt. It is true that we need God so that we can keep on a positive moral track. In reality, religion is one although its varieties cannot be denied; the varieties are more of those of expression than basic belief.
By definition, Religion is a sacred engagement with what is believed to be a spiritual reality. It is a set of beliefs that explains about life and the universe in terms of the cause, nature and purpose. Religion is a public figure and should never be used in cases of private beliefs (Saler 1990). We can therefore evaluate the importance of religion in human life without concentrating on what religion ought to be or otherwise. Religion has no clear cuts, neither is it an object with fixed meanings.
Religion is manifested in various aspect of life; it is not, and will not be, any single aspect of human experience. It includes pattern of behavior, language and thought. It is a perfectly structured institution and its practice may involve dance and performances, meditative techniques, detailed rules of ethical conduct and law, among others. The forms of religious expressions are as many as human cultural environments.
Every society has a religion, ands its role cannot be under-looked. In many instances, religion is used as the control experiment on human behavior. Through religion, there have been harmony and social stability in societies.
For those who observe a given religion, the religion provides a system of behavior which governs the society, thereby creating peace and harmony. In the uplifting of the human culture, various religions have their practices in written form. This offers a definite direction for the observer of such religion. The Bible is for Christians, Vedas for the Hindus, Talmud for the Jews, Koran for the Muslims, Confucius for the Chinese, and so on. All these books provide a definite code of behavior which makes peace and harmony a reality. For the disillusioned, religion provides the greatest comfort. The degree of frustrations nowadays calls for a refuge which quite a number find in the religion.
Be that as it may, religion nowadays has taken a different meaning. It has been a more personalized matter in the western culture that its importance tends to becoming irrelevant. Weber’s consideration on the development of capitalism and the effect of rise of Protestantism may or may not be true depending on the point of view. By considering the rise of fundamentalist Christianity and the emergence of political conservatism, and the rise of fundamentalist strain of Islam and the rise of terrorism (Richard 2007), we get convinced on the opposing roles of religion. Weber also talked about the progress of rationality, which seems to be contradictory to religion. As stated by Durkheim, religion is undergoing replacement with “civil religion”
To some groups of individuals, religious faith has been the foundation and the umbrella of their terrible acts. Marx stipulated that the world would be better off without religion (Marx 1844), which is true to an extent. Today, there are different extremists related to specific religions: the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Muslim religion; the Sikhism in India and Hindu religion; and the Christian fundamentalist Tea Party movement in the United States and Christianity. All these groups propagate terrorism and violence, and at the same time create a society full of social injustice.
From the above discussion, it is evident that religion can result into two conflicting states. It can promote peace and harmony within societies and at the same time promote social injustice and conflicts. The need for religion depends on the perception of the individual. An individual may need religion to act as a tool for his unethical acts. Similarly, one may need religion to impart morality in the society. On whichever choice we make, let us have sense of religion.
Marx, Karl. (1844). Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher,
Odhiambo, J.T. (2008). Religion as it should be. Nairobi: SasaSema Publishers.
Richard, Dawkin. (2007). The God Delusion. Houghton Mifflin Publishers
Saler, Benson. (1990). Conceptualizing Religion: Immanent Anthropologists, Transcendent Natives, and Unbounded Categories.
The Holy Bible, King James Version; New American Library (1974).