Psychology of Religion

Topics: Meaning of life, Human, Evolutionary psychology Pages: 5 (1849 words) Published: May 1, 2006
I believe that religion and spirituality play a major role in the understanding of human behavior. Religion and spirituality have been apart of human experience throughout the course of history, tapping into almost every aspect of life from cultural beliefs to the arts. Religion and spirituality encompass a world that goes beyond our general understanding of how and why by attaching a higher overall purpose and meaning that extends outside of our lives here on earth. I do not believe that an adequate psychological understanding of most people cannot be accomplished in the absence of religion and or spirituality. Science for example gives adequate answers to occurrences in nature, which is bound by biological and physical laws. On the other hand science has trouble explaining(by itself) the psychological make up of people such as beliefs, behaviors, and experiences, as they do not adhere to the laws of nature. Our psychological realm is composed of abstract and complicated ideas, concepts and questions that seek a higher understanding than what can be explained by nature alone. This is where religion and spirituality comes into play as it offers us potential answers and understanding to our complicated abstract thoughts and ideas that we find unanswered by nature such as what is our purpose in life? Where do I go when I die? And is there an ultimate reason why things happen?

Starbuck's either or philosophy states that religion can be understood from either a religious, spiritual explanation or a naturalistic psychological explanation but not both. I do not agree with Starbuck's philosophy. I believe that religion and spirituality are very closely related to our psychological makeup and thus they cannot be separated especially when trying to understand and explain religion. As I stated earlier I think that our psychological makeup is what generates abstract concepts and ideas in the first place and this in turn leads people to religion/spirituality in order to explain them. With this said I do believe that science can/is capable of helping explain human beings and their behavior especially when it is in cooperation with religion and spirituality. How would you distinguish (define) religion and spirituality?

Religion and spirituality both encompass the same general principle, where they differ is in the particulars. Both religion and spirituality aim at explaining the unexplained by attaching a higher overall meaning in which one can find answers and or comfort. To me both religion and spirituality function as a mechanism, which is used when we find ourselves unable to explain, justify, or comprehend any given idea, situation or phenomenon. When we find our self in any one of these given situations where there is no scientific, rational, or justifiable explanation for something we turn to religion and or spirituality to find answers or justification. What I find so interesting is that religion and spirituality actually never really give us a concrete sufficient answer but rather they give us hope that there is one to be found, and this in turn gives us faith, which is ultimately the cornerstone which religion relies upon.

Spirituality and religion is defined in the text both as multidimensional concepts that really do not differ much from each other, and I would agree to a certain extent. I think the main distinction between the two is that religion is more objective and institutional where spirituality is more subjective and personal. Religion incorporates spirituality as they both share the same general principle. Religion goes further by taking the general principle and attaches it to a certain set of beliefs and God(s). This is how different religions are formed, although all religions general principle is the same the beliefs and God(s) are different. By putting forth certain sets of beliefs and rituals religion generates followers by offering not only the promise of explaining life's purpose, meaning, and...
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