The subject of anthropology and religion may go hand in hand in some science circles, but when approaching religion from a prospectus of science, some are likely to take a personal stance. If anthropology is the study of humanity and the nature based on sociology, and genetics, and religion is defined by a personal belief or a faith derived on that belief, than mixing the two subjects would be thought to be a simple task.
Anything that defines humanity, is in a sense a prime factor in the study of human nature, so religion would have to fit easily into this category; right? The problem with anthropological theories regarding religion is they’re mainly based upon various ideas or degrees on which social structures or cognitive effect has resulted from these beliefs. From a science perspective we are no more cognitive than animals, living for the means of survival. But on another level we are much more, seeking recognition, and acceptance, adapting to social circles to avoid being left out.
Many anthropological theories are indigenous to religion, because the raise a degree of question-ability to whether religion is just social standard or a real belief. This would mean that any study involving religion would have to have wide cross sections of varying religious beliefs and how they have impacted social climate change, opposed to how they affect the individual person as a whole. To be honest no particular form of anthropology or single entity separates anthropological explanations of religion, instead it examines humanism, evolutionism, and cross-cultural comparisons to create a working model.
Religion in anthropology acts as part of a mechanism which causes change, but it only accounts for religion as being a function within humanism, and explanations of its role are secular and naturalistic, in its varying role. Another stance or theory suggests that religion is only a product of human culture and not nature or faith, which would dispel the existence of any form of higher power.
From a biological perspective we would have to understand how religion determines our growth based on the religion we follow. How does it affect mankind on a whole, and how has this exposure changed us throughout history. Genetically religion has barely any standard that has relation to culture or change in humans during the course of our history.
Physically religion has played a big role on how we have become organized units or social groupings based on our beliefs. How does religion physically impact our growth? Has religion had positive impacts helping us evolve, or has it been counter-productive forcing us to degrade due to varying degrees of discrimination and unwillingness to work as a unit instead of segregating into separate entities?
Medically we have no impact on our well being, although some will argue that this position is false, due to the impact on religion and medical miracles that can neither be disproved nor proved.
The subject of religion is a widely known sensitive or “hot-button” topic but with anthropology there is specific range of data to be compiled and examined to determine its impact on society and change in humanity. Some will argue that religion hinders our growth and archaic values have been hampering our evolution; while others will state the opposite. So this being said, religion has definitely impacted humanity on both a positive scale and a negative one, but in retrospect it also has varying degrees of change to society as a whole, instead of to individual or separate cultures. Too say Christians have evolved faster than, Catholics, or to say that Buddhists are less subject to medical illness would only be feasible if there was sufficient forensic, physical or other evidence to support this claim.
Honestly religion is a very delicate subject and it is approached very cautiously by anyone in the scientific community. Anthropology is a varying study that definitely crosses boarders when it comes to religion and how it impacts man-kind, but like anything else in life; you have to approach the topic with an open mind, because religion is not a simple subject with factoids or numbers, but instead it is one of faith and passion.