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Religion is one of the socialization institutions that have ignited a lot of controversy. It has the greatest influence on the way people live and think in their lives. It thus affects the larger society. It does not take into account the religion an individual is subscribed to since the elementary constituents are the same for every faithful. Religion can be described as a system of practices and beliefs through which a person or a group of individuals endeavor to deal with ultimate problems as it pertains to human life (Lutz, par. 1-7). Generally, religion is believed to contribute to the state of unrest and confusion in the society. There are questions that demand answers concerning religion seeking to determine whether it is indeed a blessing or a curse. Despite the moral benefit that has been realized through religion, it is felt that it has produced mixed results. Thus, this essay seeks to uphold the view that religion has been more of a curse than a blessing.
When defining a religion, there are some important aspects that come into play. Institutionalization is one aspect that makes a religion organize its functions around given beliefs, symbols and practices that people have applied to find solutions concerning life. In such an institution, members are socialized into the norms and values of a particular religion. This has created some sort of tension where individuals have been found to uphold their values so dearly that they actually looked down upon the beliefs supported by other people. It would be seen as though religion brings division and misunderstanding between people in a given society. It destroys the very fabric of the society that holds them together.
Most importantly, religion has a group feature in that it is formed through a group of people with similar values and beliefs, and again, with the same ideologies concerning life. These same beliefs are usually the basic elements that hold the people together and present their members with a sense of belonging and identity. In that aspect, people become delineated from one another on the boundaries set by their religion. It creates unnecessary tension for harmonious existence in the society. People get so much attached to their religion, they may not really appreciate the value in other people only because they are attached to a different religion. Religion may be different and mean different things to different people (Dawkins, 31). All the same, the ultimate goal seems to be the same, although people do not understand that, and they are left to fight and quarrel over trivial things.
The sacred nature of the beliefs exercised in religion is also another important element that would drive many people to out-rightly doing what their religion tells them to without making any reservations. It is true that religion has helped in upholding morality in our society and amongst our people. Humanity has from time immemorial believed in the existence of a supernatural power that controls human race. However, the growing nature of religious beliefs is raising a lot of questions. These holy matters as purported through religion can take symbolic forms, just as is in the case with the crucifix used by Christians when identifying with Christ, and Geeta for the Hindus. There are many other minor religions in the world that have sparked a lot of concern. Many nations of the world have civil rights and freedoms that give people the right to speech and religion. All the same, giving unlimited rights can cause a lot of trouble in maintaining law and order in the society.
Many other religions have emerged across the world with outrageous beliefs. Some religions allow their members to kill and cause trouble. The followers of such religions are committed a cause that can be dangerous to people upholding other values and norms in the society. For instance, a New York Times article analyzed a case where one Mohammed Merah killed French paratroopers originating from the Arab world on grounds of religion. The killings were used to protest against military engagements of France in Muslim countries, and more specifically in Afghanistan (Sayare, par. 6). Religion is thus becoming uncontrollable. Is it really a blessing? This is one of the questions that will continue to linger in the minds of leaders and other stakeholders involved in controlling the society. Religious symbols have been used to represent and distinguish different religions from one another. Symbols identify a specific religion. Religious stereotypes have emerged and the sight of such symbols even makes the situation worse.
Symbols have been used in religious contexts to establish moral and values of behavior. There are usually a number of rules in a given religion that direct the manner in which its members must conduct themselves. If such rules are breached, the member is regarded as sinful, and there is often a punishment that comes later. For instance, some Middle Eastern nations consider stealing a sin and contravention of the law, the punishment for such a sin being severing the right arm from the wrist. This can initially be seen as a good effort. However, it may run contrary to the values upheld by other religions. Such are some of the things that have caused unrest in the contemporary society. Following such a punishment, other religions may see that as injustice and sinful. May be it would be appropriate to define what a blessing is and put religion in the context. By so doing, it would be evident that religion is doing more harm than the value it is believed to add.
Religion has also established norms of behavior. It has rules concerning the way a member is expected to behave in certain institutions. However, breaking such rules is not considered sinful, even though deviant within the religious confines. For instance, cursing a person could be frowned upon but it is not regarded a sin, and may not actually be punished. There are other religions that are not coherent with conventional human practice like in science. Some religions do not support medical interventions, such as blood transfusion, in case a member needs such services. In the process, the person may lose his/her life only because of religious affiliation. In that sense, we may not consider religion a blessing. It is clear that only a curse would end up in such matters.
Religion offers solutions to questions of ultimate meaning, such as queries that an individual has no way of explaining scientifically. For instance, what happens to human soul if an individual no longer has life? Many theories have emerged in the search of knowledge and have lured many people into disastrous tidings. Religion has ruined the conventional human practice and the way people are supposed to live harmoniously without prejudice. The inclination to different religions in a family set up can easily cause disharmony because what may be right in the eyes of one family member could be disturbing to the other. This brings curse and disunity amongst family members.
Functionalists believe that religion assists in reinforcing the communal consciousness of a community and thus promotes social order. The rituals that are conducted with the circles of religion assist in strengthening the bond of the followers and offer them a sense of belonging, while creating a feeling that they belong to one another. There is also another belief by the functionalists that religion strengthens the bonds of family members. All the same, it would have been naïve to think that al family members subscribe to one religion. In the event members of a family belong to different religions, then the situation will automatically change.
Karl Marx believed that religion is the opium of human beings and that it was created to make easy the pain of oppression and encourage people to accept their life share. Such theorists believed that religion is a mechanism meant for social control. By talking to its members in that they must be pious and accept their position in the society because they will be given rich rewards afterwards is believed to discourage members from acting out or endeavoring to change their situation, and thus maintaining the social order. This is a very perplexing ideology that amounts to trouble in the society. It looks like what appears to be an irritation to the common good of the society. It irritates one to hear of such propositions instead of letting people to adventure and establish what the future holds for them. Religion is used by the rich to justify their power and wealth. They claim that it is the order of god that some people are rich while others are expected to be poor. Such justifications have caused a lot of harm to the society.
Other theorists believe that religion is a foundation for conflict. Durkheim’s theory basically purports that any attempt to account for religion by drawing upon the properties of nature is bound to fail (Goldenweiser, pp. 113-124). Religion has been thought to fuel some of the historical wars, both in the present and in the past. Conflict theorists believe that religion is used to create a separation between people by thinking that they are the only chosen ones, and any other person who is not in their membership must not be given the same dignity and respect. Such kind of treatment given to non-members of a given religion causes constant tension and hostility. Some other people believe that religion is described through what individuals understand by the symbols at that particular time (Banton, pp. 23-66). For instance, modern Christianity is very different from what it was long time ago (Kosmin and Lachman, pp. 188-209). Christianity had but one way of doing things in the past, but there is a lot of conflicting issues from one church to another now. There are fights and quarrels experienced in church, and this leaves a lot to be desired in terms of whether religion is a blessing or curse. These are facts, and therefore, you can decide. Religion has caused arguments that have culminated in riots and wars, and thus all manner of sense in it is lost.
Human race has from the past used complex philosophies to explain what is beyond human understanding. Throughout its history, various beliefs have emerged but the question has been the logic behind the values and norms being propagated. The nature of beliefs has troubled many philosophers and scholars. For a belief to be deemed useful, it must present logical coherence and representation of reality (Mecklin, pp. 124-135). Religion appears to lack this variability in coherence. Therefore, the incoherence of religion has made it false, and thus a more than troubling institution. Such an idea can be disputed widely in the event that coherency and logic are not taken into consideration when coming up with a certain belief. Such conflicting ideas have promoted inconsistency and lack of unity, thus brewing problems in the human society. Human beings have in most cases reaped fruits of insanity and madness in incoherent religious beliefs (Harris, pp. 39-55). That is why religion is becoming an institution that has sparked a lot of misfortune in the universe. In most cases, religion questions the realm in which ethics lies in the secular world. It is undeniable that religion has a set of moral guidelines and codes through which its followers practice and live by. Yes, much harm has been realized in the name of science and politics, but the same is true for religion.
From the studies have been conducted on the nature of human beings, we see that people are violent species. Human beings do not seem to be able to live in peace. The world has thus been shaped by wars and conflicts because one side considers the other to be a threat. Many of these wars were fought on religious grounds. This is because beliefs in one religion were different from another. In such a situation, conflicts arise to determine which religious belief is more accurate and right. For many years, human beings have learnt to live with each other, but conflicts over religious matters still persist. Such conflicts of interests have caused international controversy, occasionally leading to death through riots and violence. Religion was thought more of a way of life but it is in reality a detriment to the society. Because of the violence and controversies caused by religion, one can not say that religions are morally peaceful styles of living.
The problem with religion is that it can only explain without proof as opposed to science (Ward, pp. 110-123). Therefore, people have been able to cling onto ideas and religious contexts without explanation. What has resulted from all this has been confusion and unrest amongst people who could otherwise be one in the society or even in the larger geographical context.