Explain briefly what a belief system is, or a religious belief (why is it universal), what it does for or contributes to human culture in general and what needs does it answer for human...

Explain briefly what a belief system is, or a religious belief (why is it universal), what it does for or contributes to human culture in general and what needs does it answer for human organization. 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are many ways to define belief systems.  For example, we can define them as interconnected sets of beliefs or we can define them as “the stories we tell ourselves to define our personal sense of Reality.”  In other words, belief systems are sets of beliefs that we have that are related to one another and that, when taken as a group, help us to understand our existence and the universe in which we exist.

In this question, you are asking us to speculate about why all human societies seem to have belief systems, many of which are religious.  This is a topic that we must approach carefully.  People who adhere to a given belief system will say that they do so because they belief system is true.  Many people will believe that their belief systems are mandated by God.  If we imply that their belief systems only exist to fill some need in their lives, we can insult them rather gravely.  Therefore, social scientists must be careful in trying to explain why people hold to belief systems.

That said, social scientists do believe that they know why belief systems are universal.  The reason for this is that people seem to have an innate desire to give meaning to their lives.  Life can often be difficult and people do not want to think that they are struggling through life without any purpose.  Therefore, the theory has it, they devise belief systems that will allow them to make sense of the world and that will give them a purpose for living.

Human culture and human organizations are, of course, made up of individuals.  If the individuals have serious problems, the cultures and organizations will too.  This is why belief systems are important to cultures and organizations.  If people do not have any belief systems, they are likely to have less hope and they are likely to feel less good about themselves and their lives.  If this happens, they are likely to engage in behaviors that will weaken the cohesion of their culture or their organization.  For example, if we are hopeless and unhappy, we are less likely to form stable marriages or friendships.  If we do not do these things, our cultures and our organizations will be weaker.

Thus, we can argue that belief systems are very important both to individual people and to the larger groups of which they are a part.

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