• Functions of Religion
    1. Fear of the unknown Fear of the unknown is a popular theory. The philosopher David Hume, the anthropologist Malinowski, and Einstein all emphasize the role of anxiety – or fear.
    2. Anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object, is another favorite theory. Xenophanes (believed to have been born roughly 570-560 BC.) did advocate that a “truth of reality” did exist. Xenophanes (and later Hume and St Augustine) argued that the “human” frame of reference shapes to a large degree how people viewed God. Modern psychology has shown that humans do have a built in tendency – in the Theory of Mind – to visualize intentions – and “beings” as it were.
    3. Social functionalism is a very popular theory. Most anthropologists ascribe to the theory in one form or another. The theory basically states that the reason religion exists, is because it creates social cohesion and social solidarity.
    E O Wilson: “The predisposition to religious belief is the most complex and powerful force in the human mind and in all probability an ineradicable part of human nature.” (p.169 On Human Nature EOW) The complexity makes perfect sense in that – since human beings are incredibly complex religion and religious beliefs would need to be equally complex. There are numerous theories on the functions of religion: Religion as an Explanation of the world and life, Fear of the unknown, Social Functionalism, Anthropomorphism, and Social Solidarity.