Tylor, Muller and Frazer: a Comparative Study on the Origin of Religion.

Topics: Religion, Anthropology, Anthropology of religion Pages: 3 (1064 words) Published: November 1, 2008
Tylor, Muller and Frazer: A Comparative Study on the Origin of Religion. Since the early 1800s, there had been an ample amount of skeptics trying to account for the origin of religion. The basic question on everybody’s mind was where does religion come from? Some believed that people developed religion because they didn’t understand the forces of nature around them. Others believe that religion was created as a way of restrain people. In the 19th century, people were introduced to social science and anthropologists who once studied primitive culture were exposed to several theories on the origin of religion. Edward B Tylor was one of the first who developed a theory on religion. Max Muller was a German professor at Oxford University whose interest included Indian mythology and the study of religion. Another anthropologist was George Frazer who key contributions to religious anthropology was a religious encyclopedia. There are many explanations to the origin of religion, one of the most prominent being Edward B. Tylor’s theory of animism. This theory is considered the foundation of the physical evolution of religion; two other influential religious anthropologists, Max Muller and James Frazer, also based their explanations of the origin of religion on nature. All three religious anthropologists are similar in the sense that they traced the evolution of religion in an attempt to figure out the origin of it but differ in the way they approach the concept of religion. Edward B. Tylor developed the theory of animism to help explain the most rudimentary form of religion. Animism is defined as the belief that attributes souls and spirits to humans, plants, animals and other entities. Animistic religious beliefs are well-known among primitive societies who were “so low in culture as to have no religious conceptions what so ever” (Tylor). Tylor considered animism as the most primitive phase in the development of religion. He believed that the reflection of dreams and...

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