Identify and Briefly Explain Some of the Ways in Which Functionalists See Religion Meeting the Needs of Society and Individuals

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Identify and briefly explain some of the ways in which functionalists see religion meeting the needs of society and individuals (9 marks) Functionalists believe that religion has a definite purpose in society. First of all Malinowski says that religion can offer answers to things that are unexplainable or appear to break scientific laws. An example would be if somebody looked at a landscape and had an overwhelming feeling of beauty, they could only ask themselves why they thought it was beautiful. This is also known as a numinous experience. A Christian could just say you know this due to the way God made the earth and humans. A more intelligent designer. Functionalists say that religion gives the answers to people. Functionalists say that religion offers common beliefs and shared identities which binds people together in society. They say it is conservative and when a community is cooperating such as practising worship together in church it creates a social harmony among everybody. Religion often promotes love and peace, these are positive attributes that would create a good society when practised. It works by religion helping people choose the right moral decisions. An example derived from Christianity would be when followers look into the accounts from the holy Bible where they can read passages from Jesus’ teachings and access guidance “ What would Jesus do?” Jesus did good things, so the people that follow him will create a social harmony. Religions such as Christianity offer social norms and rules with the “10 commandments” such rules as “do not steal” have become universal. When people can recognise rules and morals between each other it allows religion to function. This develops our cognitive capabilities and allows us to use reason. It also enhances intellect. We have what’s called categories to share Eg time and space so we can relate to each other.
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