Religion is a social authority that forms specific forms of social organization. Its social dimension, as emphasized by Durkheim, unites people within a moral community. Dawson and Thiessen elaborate on this common social dimension, noting that religious beliefs gain credibility because people agree on them. This explains why the shared beliefs of a group are often regarded as more credible than those of an individual.
Religion is a system of beliefs
Traditionally, religion was defined as a set of beliefs that a person adheres to. This concept, however, has evolved over time to describe a wide variety of social practices. For example, disembodied spirits and cosmological orders have been commonplace throughout human history. There have also been periods when people have lived without explicit metaphysics and an afterlife.
It is a social authority
The role of religion as a social authority is complex and varied. While it may be a source of social unification, religion can also promote social conflict. History shows that people and communities will go to extremes to protect their beliefs, and this can lead to persecution and war. Some examples of historical religious persecution include the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, and anti-Semitism.
It can bring people together
One of the many ways religion can bring people together is through charity and compassion. The bible contains many stories of people coming together to help others, and giving and caring for the sick are examples of how religion can help us heal. As the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything.” It is true that religion can help people come together during times of tragedy. For example, when pandemics strike, the people affected by the disease often gather to support each other.
It can be a source of stress
Religion has a complex influence on our lives. At times it can bring people together and other times it can be a source of stress and division. People with different religious beliefs often experience discrimination in their community.
It can be a source of comfort
Research suggests that involvement in religion improves psychological well-being. Furthermore, it is linked to reduced cigarette smoking and a healthier lifestyle. In addition, it has been found that religion enhances social interactions in religious places of worship. Interestingly, many studies have also suggested that people who are religious live longer than those who are not.
It can be a source of guidance
People who follow a particular religion tend to have a healthier lifestyle. They have less stress and are less likely to smoke. Studies have shown that people who follow a certain religion are more likely to live longer and have better health. However, religion can also be harmful. It can cause too much stress and may not allow a person to seek the treatment he or she needs.