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Jake Frackson

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What is the purpose of religion?

Throughout the history of man, religion has been present. Religious beliefs have affected everything from personal ethics to national politics. It has been an integral part of many societies in our past and present. However the question remains:

What is the purpose of religion?

Religion has been presented to explain unknown intellectual problems (Comte, Tylor), to explain strong and abstract emotional feelings (Marett, Malinowski, Freud), to oppress social groups (Marx), to connect society (Durkheim), to explain arbitrary suffering (Weber), etc.
Many other purposes for religion have been theorized but no universal answer has been found.
Will a single answer ever be found? Is there only one answer?

Possible answers, further questions or any comments are welcome!

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    Sky F

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    Sep 13 2012: This whole discussion is drifting nicely away from reality. It's like asking what the purpose of the 7-11 down the street from me is and then discussing corporate America, the core of our wants and desires, the role of society members, the value of convenience in our daily lives, the happenstance that it would even exist so close to me, onward into obscurity. The real answer is that the purpose of it for me is to fill the need of slurpees into my life, and the purpose for the business itself is to make money. Period.

    Like the purpose of a 7-11, the purpose of religion depends on who you're asking. For most people it's simply to provide comfort, create community, and maintain tradition. The whole "Will a single answer ever be found? Is there only one answer? " is just a silly question that isn't really asking anything at all (because it's vague as shit) and just makes the whole discussion way too serious without actually even talking about anything.

    As for the whole 'social control' thing being talked about, this is the purpose of it for a very small minority of clever people who are using religion's "comfort, community, and tradition" to exploit it's members for personal reasons, whatever they may be. To be what you exclusively talk about as your purpose for a religion on a grand scale is really silly though. It is not the ultimate purpose of the religion, just a seedy by-product.

    But again, it all depends on from who's perspective you're talking about. I answered from the perspective of "the majority who subscribe to it."

    Anyways, don't be so serious guys. It just seems like a hot-air festival in here.
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      Sep 14 2012: Religion has elements that are the same for everybody, for example it does unite (the origin of the word is re, again, and ligare, to tie together). So, you are correct in that religion creates community, but the greater question is for what purpose? To make peace? To create understanding?
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        Sep 14 2012: Religion often unites the ingroup and reinforces tribalism and differences with out groups.

        The purpose depends on the intent and beliefs of the individual.

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