In concurrence with post #12, there absolutely seems an emotional desire in people to have a power above them. We need only look at the ancients that explained natural phenomena by having gods and such.
Then, there is truth in the statement of Marx that "religion is the opium of the people." While this is certainly not the only truth about religion, there is verity in the idea that people can maintain an optimism in their lives if they believe that there is a higher reason for their good deeds, or even misfortunes. After all, "if that's all there is" as a dismal song of Peggy Lee sang, life can be much too burdensome.
Religion probably is not an instinct, but there must be something about it that is advantageous to either our survival or to fulfilling some other need that we have. I say this because, so far as I know, every society on Earth throughout history has developed a religion.
I think it is both. Humanity needs something greater than we are to hope in, making it instinctual.
For me, I had a knowledge about religion for a long time as a child because my father was a minister. But, I could point to a very specific moment for myself when I adopted the faith I believe in as the absolute truth and whole-heartedly agreed with it.
I think we instinctually may search for something greater than ourselves, but we may "adopt" a certain set of beliefs largely due to the fact that those that we admire/learn from (such as family) have the same belief system. If I had to choose one, I'd probably pick adoption...mostly because it seems more direct. "Instinct" is somewhat vague in regards to religion.
Religion usually begins as something that is passed on from elders, which would not make it instinctual. However, there are plenty of cases where a person with no previous religious background finds religion on his own. In either case, I would not call it instinctual.
Religion is something we learn--taught at the news of our parents, grandparents, society, or etc. Faith, however, or spiritualism could be considered instinctual. We seem to have it or we don’t.
Religion is not instinctual. Animals do not have a religion--but they do instinctually seek shelter, food , water, and mates. Only people participate in religion. Most of us do this as a way to commune not only with others of like feeling but also with God.
If those are the two options, then I agree with posts 2 and 4 that we have an instinct to want to be in touch with a higher power and that we then get religion in response.
However, a true believer would say that this is not an instinct (which sounds like something randomly caused by nature). A true believer would say that the desire for religion is something implanted in us by our creator (God).
Religion is an adoption, influenced strongly by family, friends, and geography. However, the desire to commune with a higher power is, I believe, a human instinct. Even children who are raised outside of religious instruction may grow up to become observers of religion; in fact, the lack of religious influence may push a young person to seek it out, especially once s/he is old enough to see peers who may be involved in churches, youth groups, and other religious influences.
Well, seeing as how religion is a belief system, I can't see how it could be instinctual. Perhaps there is something in human nature that drives us to seek out answers to the universal questions of our existence, but one doesn't have to have religion to do that. We are born with intellect, reason, curiosity and capacity, but we can only adopt a belief system.
Is religion an instinct or an adoption?
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Religion is originally an instinct in my opinion. This is why religion is spread out around the world wherever people are. If it were adoption then there would be a way less diverse pool of religion.
A psycologist who did a lot of research on this was Jung. In his works he talks about a Native American tribe in the early 1900s that faced extinction from the white man. One of the natives told Jung that they were very important because their tribe moved the sun across the sky. This religious belief gave purpose for their existence and therefore gave a reason for them to survive. We have many instincts for survival and one of the instincts is purpose and religion provides a greater purpose.
Even people who have already decided that they do not believe in a religion still have doubts at times when a purpose would comfort them and pull them through rough times. Religion can be useful until you realize this. Then you are just fucked. Or at least thats how i see it.
Adoption just comes into play as a precreated purpose.
Reply to 1# Religion is belief. But in reply to your query, I'll say that religion is, at the first stage of human's life, instinctual. But, when you grow up and have freedom of choice: choice to think with logic and sense, religion becomes more than just an instinct. One can convert if s/he find another religion accurate. And, one can also become atheist. Then it becomes adoption.
So, actually, religin is something more than both the term "instinct" or " adoption".
Well, if we see our own life we will definitely find that religion is an adoption; it is not transferable through DNA. A child is influenced deeply by the culture of his family which is a part of a community. One of the main features of a community is its religion. I was born in a Hindu middleclass teacher's family. I have seen my parents worshiping different God's at our home. We celebrate different PUJA’s (religious). For example, in October we celebrate Durga Puja, in November Kali Puja; in November Devi Saraswati so on. And, these religious festivals have become our part of life though most of us are not religious enough. Our Holy Book is 'THE GITA' but common people not only do not go through a single page of the book but they don’t even know what is written inside it. But we call ourselves Hindu because it is our culture. When we are in trouble we remember our preferred (preferred because Hindus have 33 crores of Gods!!!) Gods. But this adoption of religion becomes our instinct silently, subconsciously and we never know it. So Religion I believe first an adoption which becomes an instinct. To make it very simple think about your mother tongue. You can’t help yourself but to speak English if you are born in an English family and the more you grow up the more this practiced language becomes your instinctive language. So, religion is an adoption first and then it becomes instinct.