What Makes Religion More Important Than Other Religions?
Religion is an incredibly widespread phenomenon. Even in countries like Vatican City or Pitcairn Island where the majority of people are Christian, there is tremendous variation in the beliefs and practices that constitute their religion. There are 2.4 billion Christians in the world, and each branch of Christianity divides into many smaller denominations, such as Baptists or Methodists.
Throughout the history of human thought, scholars have tried to understand what makes some forms of religion more important than others. Most attempts to answer this question have been “monothetic”; that is, they’ve viewed religion as a category with a single defining property that every true instance of religion must possess. But over the past several decades, scholars have begun to use “polythetic” approaches to understanding Religion that avoid this claim of a singular essence.
While there is no doubt that some religions are more important than others, it is also clear that religion has a broader impact on the lives of individuals and societies. For example, it is known that religious practice leads to better health outcomes including mental and physical wellbeing, longevity, education attainment, and strong families. It is also known that religious people are less likely to engage in violent behaviors and are more likely to help those in need.
In addition, many scientists are currently exploring the possible cognitive and behavioral benefits that come with practicing religion. Some researchers have found that it can be a powerful tool in developing social skills such as empathy and a sense of community, while others are finding that it can be helpful in alleviating suffering and promoting wellness.