Original Research

A psychological perspective on the source and function of religion

Karen van der Merwe
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 66, No 1 | a331 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v66i1.331 | © 2010 Karen van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 August 2009 | Published: 22 November 2010

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Karen van der Merwe, North-West University, South Africa

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This article explored psychological perspectives on the following: the reasons for humans’ religiousness, the influence of religion on people’s perspective on life and the importance of understanding the impact of religion on the lives of people. Theories, including psychoanalytical and evolutionary answers regarding the origin of human’s penchant to be religious were discussed. Subsequently, the focus was on the dominant influence of religious notions in people’s worldview, providing meaning and powerfully influencing their cognitions, emotions and behaviour. Finally, the importance of nurturing spiritual (faith) development was discussed.


theories of religion; worldview; meaning; spiritual (faith) development; religious education


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