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Postby Angelina David » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:59 am

ImageCulture can be considered as the entire social heritage of man; specifically, it is the tradition of a particular human group, a way of living learned from, and shared by, the members of that group. Understanding the concept of culture is key to understanding human behavior.

Religion, like culture itself, consists of systematic patterns of beliefs, values, and behavior, acquired by people as a member of their society. These patterns are systematic because their manifestations are regular in occurrence and expression: they are shared by member of a group. Within all religions, however, there is not homogeneity; there are differences of interpretation of principles and meanings.

There are numerous ways we can define religion from an anthropological perspective. Consider the following as components of a definition:

System of beliefs in supernatural forces with symbols and rituals that make life meaningful;
Concerned with the expression of social values in a given setting, and attempts to safeguard them by endowing them with divine sanction;
A system of symbols with acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long lasting moods and motivations by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these perceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic (Geertz 1966). In other words, this symbol must help to construct how a society will view the world around them.
Let's examine some of the components of these definitions:

Supernatural --the term implies that there is a realm of the world (the natural) and the realm of the super-- (beyond the natural). This is a concept that is well-defined in the west, but of little significance in many other cultures. Beliefs in some form of supernatural power is nearly universal and can be seen as either focusing on the idea of dieties or gods versus those with lesser powers who tend to get involved in human affairs. For example:

Gods-- may have created the world, directed the creation by other, or perhaps lesser beings. Gods may be individually known, named, and personalized, recognizable by their attributes. Gods usually possess superhuman powers, but few are considered omnipotent. Gods may also be knowledgable about how to make the world work properly.
Culture Heroes -- extraordinary people in historic times who were glorified and revered by a group of people. They are usually the direct ancestors of the people. Myths often recount that culture heroes were semi-divine--direct descendants of the gods, or specially created by the gods to establish a religion, cult, or clan.
Ancestors-- the souls of deceased persons who stand in a lineal relationship with those who accept him or her. Ancestors may be harsh or benevolent; they watch over things. They are often consulted on special occasions or can be summoned for help.
Angelina David
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Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:10 am

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