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To what extent does there exist a universal predisposition towards religion?

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Introduction

"To what extent does their exist a universal predisposition towards religion" Christians believe that in the world there exists a universal predisposition to religion. They provide many arguments to support their claim including, the persistence of religion, and religious experiences. Humanists however are not as convinced. Like all aspects of religion they believe it all to be in the mind, they believe that religion has a hold over a person that does more harm than good. One of the key arguments in favour of a universal predisposition to religion is the persistence of religion. Although religions have changed dramatically since there beginnings thousands of years ago, the fact remains that they have stood the test of time. The early religions of Eastern Europe and Asia have evolved into the main religions of this age, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Humanists argue this theory. They believe that the continuation of religion is more to do with the mind than anything else. Richard Dawkins author of "The Selfish Gene" believes that religions act as 'fads', which in some way replicate themselves through genes from one generation to the next. Humanists go on to argue that if there is a persistence of religion then why is there such in a decline in people worshiping religions. They believe that this is an inevitable consequence of the spread if education and science. ...read more.

Middle

At the most recent event, an estimated 10 million people appeared at the Kumbha Mela festival. And the third is the huge amount of visitors who flock to see the Turin Shroud that it is believed Jesus Christ was wrapped in and buried in. Christians put a lot of faith in the evidence from Anthropology and Archaeology to prove the existence of a universal predisposition to religion. Modern anthropology concludes that the belief in the supernatural and the presence of religious ideas and practices is virtually universal. While there is many variations in the degrees of religiousness shown by individuals the fact remains that there has always been some form of religion in human societies. It is more difficult to identify characteristics of religion that are universal, there is evidence pointing towards a series of recurrent ideas. The social anthropologist Pascal Boyer suggested that belief in non-physical beings is the most common feature of religions. The origins of religion are thought to date back many thousands of years ago to a period anthropologists call the upper Palaeolithic period, probably about 40,000 years ago. Archaeological finds from this period include many underground painted caves which are thought to be where the rituals took place. Famous examples of these are the painted caves of Les Trois- Freres in France. On the walls are pictures of sorcerers or shamans which experts believe could be their version of God. ...read more.

Conclusion

Religious experiences don't only take the form of near death experiences and angels etc, Rudolf Otto believed that religious experiences can be the sense of mystery which people come to feel in certain circumstances. An example of which could be the sudden feeling of awe or the feeling of being in the presence of something eerie or uncanny which is powerful. However, humanists disagree with this theory of religious experiences. David Hume, a humanists, thought it a "miracle" in itself that people who believe in miracles are willing to subvert all of the evidence of the senses and the processes of rationality in order to accept their beliefs. It has been suggested that religious experiences are part of a general disposition to look for and find meaning in life. It could be a scenario of people trying to justify their beliefs and values to give meaning to their lives. Within human life in general, it would seem, a degree of faith prevails over doubt and despair. Therefore, referring back to the question, it would seem that there is a universal predisposition to religion. I believe that humanists don't put up much of a fight on this issue because they know that it's probably correct. They justify this view point by indicating that while religion may have featured prominently up to now, it's on its way out. Christians have some very strong arguments regarding the predisposition to religion that I believe prove that it does exist. ?? ?? ?? ?? Mark Robb Page 1 02/05/07 ...read more.

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