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Chapter 12. Developing as an Ethical Rea... > Religious Beliefs Are Socially or Cu...

Religious Beliefs Are Socially or Culturally Relative

Religious relativity derives from the fact that there are an unlimited number of alternative ways for people to conceive and account for the nature of the “spiritual.” The Encyclopedia Americana, for example, lists over 300 different religious belief systems. These traditional ways of believing adopted by social groups or cultures take on the force of habit and custom. They are handed down from one generation to another. To the individuals in a given group, despite the large number of possibilities, their particular beliefs often seem to be the ONLY way, or the only REASONABLE way, to conceive of the “divine.” For most people these religious beliefs influence their behavior from cradle to grave. Religions answer questions like this:

  • What is the origin of all things? Is there a God? Is there more than one God? If there is a God, what is his/her nature? Are there ordained laws that exist to guide our life and behavior? What are these laws? How are they communicated to us? How should we treat transgressions of these laws? What must we do to live in keeping with the will of the divine?


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