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This module discusses three ways in which religion affects and is affected by society.

Since religion is part of human society, it will also, like all other institutions, display certain social dimensions. Below, we will be looking at three of these dimensions.

Religion belongs to the group

The group into which a child is born, includes religion as part of its accepted lifestyle. Centuries before the child was born, the group has already decided what type of supernatural being or beings is to be worshipped and how this worship is to take place. The group has also long ago decided what kind of behaviour has received supernatural approval or disapproval.

A simple example in this respect may be the issue of food that can be either permissible or impermissible to eat. To some religious traditions the consumption of all meat is forbidden, whilst to others only certain kinds of meat, such as pork, may be prohibited. The same will be true of what ethical norms should be shared. In this regard it may be permissible in some traditions to have more than one wife or husband while in others monogamy will be strictly prescribed. The group also plays a decisive role in determining religious symbols. For example, the symbolic meaning of elements like water and fire will greatly vary from tradition to tradition and from group to group. Such symbols only acquire meaning once the group has reached agreement on the matter.

Religion is learned

Although it is true that new religions are founded and that religious changes do occur, it is equally true that most people find themselves at birth in an established religious pattern. We should remember though, that no individual is born with fixed religious convictions. The fact that most children follow the religious convictions of their parents, is due to social influence rather than to biological factors. Once the individual starts growing up, he or she begins to learn about religion and religious behaviour from his or her society.

Examples of these include how to participate in religious activities, how to communicate with a divine being and how to undergo prescribed rituals and ceremonies. Love for or fear of one or more supernatural being, for instance, needs to be learned. The individual must also learn to become familiar with the content and meaning of certain symbols. Nobody is automatically aware of the definitions of symbols such as "soul", "angel", "devil" or "god". It is only under the guidance of the group that these symbols become meaningful.

Religion can change

As time goes by, societies tend to change. Since religion forms part of society, it is only natural that it will then also be affected by social change. Religious behaviour and understanding are developed by humans in the way in which, in their opinion, harmony may be achieved with the wishes of the supernatural or with divine truth.

However, being part of an ever–changing society, religion is often confronted with the reality of and need for change. If the changes facing religion does not affect the basic principles on which a certain tradition is founded, the likelihood of that religion adapting to a changing society could be considerable. An example that could be mentioned in this regard is the position of women.

The position of women, particularly in Western society, has in certain respects undergone major changes from what it has been a century or two ago. Although in general still far behind the changes that secular society has brought to the position of women, some religious traditions have taken note of these changes. Where it was before almost unthinkable to have women ordained as priests, this has happened in certain religious traditions - in 2015, Rev Libby Lane became the first female priest in the Church of England to be ordained as a bishop. Since these traditions did not have the submission of women as one of their building blocks, it was possible to adapt to a changing society. However, change in the attitude towards women have not as yet filtered through to all religious traditions.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Learning about religion. OpenStax CNX. Apr 18, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11780/1.1
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