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Lecture 12

ANTH 100 Lecture 12: Chapter 13 (Supernaturalism) (Autosaved)

7 pages85 viewsFall 2016

Course Code
ANTH 100
Erin Mc Guire

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Chapter 13: Supernaturalism (MG)
Studying Belief Systems
Religion: A set of beliefs and behaviors that pertain to supernatural forces or beings, which
transcend the observable world.
Religious belief systems have four components: They share an interest in the supernatural, use
rituals, are guided by myths, and are symbolic.
Supernatural: Refers to those things outside of a scientific understanding that we cannot
measure or test.
Rituals: Symbolic practice that is ordered and regularly repeated. It provides people with a way
to practice their beliefs in a consistent form, connecting them to other in the same community.
Myths: Sacred stories that explain events. They serve to guide values and behaviors.
- This does’t ake the utue ut ae outside of eoded histo
Finally, religion is symbolic because it is based on the construction of meaning between a
person and their beliefs and among people within a community.
- It represents their understanding of the world
Emic: Iside’s pespetie
Etic: Outside’s pespetie
Reasons for Supernatural Belief Systems
Beliefs do not fossilize. However, cultural practices may leave physical evidence that can be
found by archaeologists, who seek to understand cultural practices through cultural remains.
Early Evidence
The earliest evidence of religion is linked to burial sites, since the idea of burial is an early
maker of culture and community.
Functions of Religion
Supernatural belief systems have oth itelletual ad eotioal futios. Hua’s ig ais
compel us to seek understanding and knowledge. Our ancestors wanted explanations for these
kinds of natural phenomena.
- Supernatural beliefs provide the crucial ability to explain those aspects of life which we
have no logical answer
- Active participation in ritual practices allows a person who is suffering to feel involved in
achieving a positive outcome
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Religious belief systems generally provide support for individuals and also for the social group.
Even when beliefs cause suspicion or fear, there is comfort in knowing that others in the
community also experience the world in the same way.
- Belief systems provide support through the following: Creating community, instilling
values, renewing faith, poidig easos fo life’s eets, ad solig poles
1. Creating community: Religious ceremonies and rituals bring community members
together, so that individuals feel support form the group. There are many types of
rituals that bring cohesiveness to a group, whether they are performed with others or
alone. Services allow individual members to physically come together regularly, creating
a community of worshippers.
Rites of Passages: Religious rituals that mark important life transitions. (E.g.) Puberty, marriage,
childbirth, etc.
The three stages of the rites of passage take an individual:
a. Journey through separation
b. Through transition
c. Reincorporation and acceptance
2. Instilling values: Religious texts and oral tales teach ethics to guide behavior. In cultures
without written traditions, values are passed down orally. A goup’s oal stories provide
guidelines for correct action as well. Myth is a category of story that describes the
sacred origins of the world and its people.
3. Renewing Faith: Certain regular rituals elevate the mood for participants and bring on a
state of happiness or transcendence. This may include such elements as song, call and
response, hand clapping, trance states, or dance.
Practioners: (whirling dervishes) experience closeness to the divine by abandoning the self in a
trance like dance.
4. Poidig easos: Belief sste poide eplaatios fo life’s eets. This speak to the
human desire to understand why we do certain things in certain ways and why bad
things happen to good people.
- Religious traditions also provide reasons for behaviors, such as why certain foods can or
a’t be eaten by people of certain religious communities.
- Practioners may not know the origins of these restrictions; however, many
anthropologists believe that some of the major food taboos are linked to the
environmental pressures found in places where religions first developed.
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