chapter  12
16 Pages

Religious Motivation Across Cultures

A more common approach has been to understand religion as the end product of individual motivations that find expression in various cultural religious systems.

Some Sources of Religious motiuation R E LI G ION has been understood by many as a response to motivation states operating at the existential level. In this regard, Royce (1973) argued that


existential anxiety is the primary motivation underlying religion. Religion then imposes the semblance of order on a chaotic world while also providing "solutions" to such matters as death, meaninglessness, and aloneness . Accordingly, culture is frequently viewed as "the locus of our confrontation with reality" (Bellah, 1970, p. 201). Steeman (1977) observes that human beings are driven by necessity to escape the perception that life leads nowhere. Religion, he adds, is a solution to "the ultimate problem of human life" (p. 315). In a related way, Erich Fromm (1947) wrote about the inevitable dilemma in which hyperaware human beings find themselves as a result of being "thrown" into a world that makes no apparent sense and lacks all apparent meaning. This "thrownness" led Fromm to introduce the need for transcendence as one of his so-called existential needs that are part of our human nature. For Fromm, it is this particular need that propels the human being in a predictable way toward religion and related modes of reality transcendence.