Religion -- Concepts of Death Questions Surrounding Essay

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Religion -- Concepts of Death

Questions surrounding death and the nature of human existence have intrigued the human race for millennia. The discovery of burial sites dating back from 70,000 to 15,000 B.C.E. carefully laid with certain belongings, and specific positioning and state of the body, suggest ancient practices of religious beliefs and concern for the afterlife (Chidester: 1). The concept of death is important to human history as it helped to develop a concept of rebirth and life's urgency, has acknowledged the existence of a higher power, and contributed to the unification of societies. The concept of death also raises questions regarding human beings, and the understanding of who is a human being. Four factors that help understand the definition of a human being are biological, psychological, sociological, and religious. The work of Chidester explores different types of death, and symbolizes three patterns describing the transcendence of death: ancestral, experiential, and cultural (12). The concept of death in the human race creates an ongoing question, and requires biological, psychological, sociological, and religious perspectives to understand human beings, the role of death, and its resulting significance.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Religion -- Concepts of Death Questions Surrounding Assignment

The concept of death is important to human history because it has marked its influence on the urgency for living and ideas of rebirth, the acknowledgment of a higher power, and the unification of society and culture. Death is the one certainty for the living, and is an occurrence that will inevitably be experienced by every human being. The awareness of mortality stresses the importance of life and creates the sense of urgency for the living. This mortal feeling has become a factor in understanding a relationship between death and fertility, or the concept of death and the following rebirth (Chidester: 2). Myths, legends, folklore, and various religious practices support the theme, or actual occurrence of, "out of death, new life" (Chidester: 2). Concepts of rebirth and death brining new life have been understood by some researchers as a foundation of religious principles (Chidester: 2). The acknowledgment of an existing higher power, as shown by many world religions, is another reason why the concept of death is important to human history. The belief in supernatural beings, forces, realities, or gods expresses a human need to believe in a power greater than them (Chidester: 3). In human history, wars have been waged, kings have declared their power, and murders have been committed in the name of such higher powers, showing the potential consequences of believing in a supernatural force. The relationship between death and society is the third concept of death influencing human history. Concepts of death have shaped religions, and a shared religion in itself is a culture. For example, when a community loses one of its members to death, there is a shared mourning for the loss. Religious beliefs, as influenced by death, help to maintain and restore the social order for a community in mourning (Chidester: 3). The sense of community, society, and culture that have been created out of religious practices have distinguished groups of people throughout human history.

Questioning who a human being is presents a complex answer because human beings are not one dimensional. The four factors that help to understand "who a human being is?" are: biological, psychological, sociological, and religious. A human being is first a biological element and exists as an animal life form on Earth (Chidester: 4). Although humans have the ability to think and use tools, a human's natural role on Earth is as an animal. The second component of understanding who a human being is involves psychological interaction. Humans have personal features of consciousness and will, which are influenced by unconscious instincts, drives, and impulses (Chidester: 4). The third factors helping to understand who a human being is includes sociological interaction. Humans exist in a social world with a network of human relationships, which eventually shapes identities and social groups (Chidester: 4). The fourth factor, the religious influence, has the ability to contribute to defining a human being, but religious practices are not shared by all humans. There can be, however, symbolism in the absence of religion. There is a power that exists in religious symbolism, rituals, and traditions, as they provide not only a structure for a human life, but also provides meaning (Chidester: 5). A human is first an animal, secondly a thinking person, thirdly interacts with other humans in a social world, and lastly may… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Religion -- Concepts of Death Questions Surrounding.  (2011, July 29).  Retrieved September 19, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Religion -- Concepts of Death Questions Surrounding."  29 July 2011.  Web.  19 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Religion -- Concepts of Death Questions Surrounding."  July 29, 2011.  Accessed September 19, 2021.