Many academic studies have demonstrated that implementing and observing a religious practice is beneficial for living a healthy and prosperous life. Religious doctrines from all over the Earth have presented stories and guidelines which have inspired humanity to instill themselves with a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Most humanities scholars; especially those with an interest in religious studies, have been proponents of obeying the natural laws observed within religious texts and practices. These scholars have theorized that in order to heal and save oneself and others in the future; one must live up to the expectation of the natural laws known to man through an increasingly complex system of religion and evolution.
Most religious systems highlight the importance of having reverence for nature; rationality has generally been emphasized with respect to the natural world in most religious doctrine. Interestingly, supernatural occurrences are encountered from time to time. Many times these outlier happenstances in the natural world are best explained through the lens of religion. Religious experiences or happenstances can be used to describe things that fall outside what is expected from our knowledge of the natural world. Religion can often describe things which are outside of our control; in other words, religion is an experience of the supernatural or unnatural. This is not to say that religion itself is either supernatural or unnatural; because as an entity itself, religion seems profoundly natural. As anthropologist, Clifford Geertz’s essay notes, ‘Religion is a cultural system’.
Geertz elaborated on his notion of this after introducing examples of the differences between tribal religions and religions like Christianity. Geertz argues through this comparison that religion is relative to the environmental and evolutionary conditions which individuals have been subjected to throughout time and space. Geertz theorizes that over time and by available resources, groups of individuals have acculturated together because of shared desires and have denoted these commonalities of desire through the development of a system. The system which Geertz describes is one that is rich in symbols and forms for communication and for the future development of new even more diverse symbols and forms; a constant evolution of thought and understanding as life itself unfolds.
Anthropologist, Talal Asad comments on Geertz work in his article, Anthropological Conceptions of Religion: Reflections on Geertz, by highlighting the need to step into religion by way of immersion, as opposed to understanding religion from the role of a ‘distanced spectator’ (Asad 239). Asad seemingly suggests religion as an act of introspection through the recognition of the inner self; and its autonomous condition. In the world of Talal Asad, the recognition of soul within the body and mind are essential for understanding the general function of religion.
Religion is also a subject which can require immense energy expenditure; this would be the argument of Bruce Lincoln in his, Theses on Method. Lincoln is an overall skeptic of religion as a subject but his insights are profound. Lincoln references the importance of understanding the power which is required to understand and speak on the subject of religion. Religion speaks on subjects which are eternal and transcendent. Lincoln states that because of the inherent eternal and transcendent nature of religion, one must match the intensity of these concepts in their teachings of religion. Religion should be understood and taught with close attentions to the critical voice. Enthusiasm is recommended as well as the understanding of the importance of asking questions. Specifically questions like, ‘Who speaks here? To What Audience? In what context of space and time? By means of what system? For what interest or consequence? Who wins what, and how much? Who loses?’ (Lincoln 165).
Many of times the field of religion can be therapeutic, but religion can also cause affliction because of the competitive nature found within it historically. Religion can act as a means for nutritional and farming guidance. Religion has acted as a dietary aid and has given benchmarks for maintaining healthy farming and eating practices for thousands of years. Many religions encourage eating foods in community. Religious groups also note the importance of eating things which are unobstructed from chemicals, pathogens, and inhumane practice. Religion can be defined by its historical record of the basic healing properties of the earth and its materials. Religious texts have demonstrated how it is possible to use the stored physical energy of the earth and solar system to recharge and rejuvenate; therefore, religion can also act as an energetic history of the Earth and its inhabitants. Religious texts and behaviors have drawn on the importance of utilizing and maintaining purity; this can be seen through the many teachings within the field of religion which speak to the reverence necessary for the water, air, atomic particles, and electricity assembled by the universe.
Religion has documented and contextualized many of the herbs and remedies that have shown the potential to bring chemical balance and homeostasis to individuals. This in turn allows individuals the opportunity to remain in their most righteous body and mind state. Herbs and remedies found within religious texts and histories have shown efficacy in replenishing and enhancing the natural reactions in the body. Herbs enhance naturally occurring phenomena within the body which help one achieve their desired mental or physiological state. Many of these biochemical compositions have helped individuals achieve a state in which they have found themselves more deeply connected to religion and its divine composition. Religion can be described as a remedy for imbalance or disequilibrium. As religion can be described as a remedy for such things, one must also assume that religion can create imbalance and disequilibrium as well. Therefore, it is increasingly important to study religion in a scholastic sense; as this will increase the understanding of how to most benevolently utilize religion.
Religion is also a mechanical entity. All mechanical entities require adjustment and recalibration to be received as practical. Humanity must take care of religion. Ivan Strenski alludes to this in his idea that religion can only be truly understood through action in reality; not just in theory.
Strenski argues that religion is a utility, a subject which serves humanity in a form that has been advantageous for the continuation of life and prosperity. Strenski also states that religion acts as a distinction. Religion, due to its highly complex nature, must be treated with high regard as it classifies one as something above a regular human status. Ascribing to a religion distinguishes individuals and groups from each other. Relativity should also be considered when seeking to understand the meaning of religion. As religion should not be merely examined as an institution focused on the mechanical, but should also be studied through the mental and spiritual dimensions of the individual soul and its spirit within the relative context of environment, culture, and group dynamics. This plays into Strenski’s notion of strategy within religion. To best understand the strategies religion has adopted, it is best to recognize the past manipulation of these doctrines and institutions. Manipulation has been an important tool for keeping religion functioning as a utilizable tool in modern life, but it has also gravely affected the field of religion.
Cheerfulness and love are vital in most conversations of religion. This can be understood through Streski’s idea of accuracy. At this time, there is much darkness and hate in this world. Humans must understand that this is likely due to misinterpretation of text as a result of neglect of scholastic pursuit. Accuracy and recognition of the past is important for getting precise results and for achieving lightness, cheerfulness, and love.(Strenski 154).
Many individuals live in fear of obtaining the truth; or they surrender to the knowledge and dogmas of the past. Religion is rich in knowledge of the past but it also presents lots of ideas for the future. Fear is the greatest enemy of health and the transcendence processes can be slowed because of fear. Instead of fear, religion generally teaches that the most important mental status to uphold is that of self control, unselfish tendency, and of self-mastery. The religious scholars are a relatively new set of critics who are trying to piece together a field which is as contradictory as it gets in terms of its organization. It seems that to be in the field of religion one must be a strong spirited soul whom has laid a solid foundation of scientific knowledge which continues to be built upon as time progresses.