Throughout history, it has proven to be the primary force for social progress, motivating individuals to develop spiritual Religion, for Durkheim, is not imaginary, although he does deprive it of what many believers find essential. Religion, he argued, was an expression of social cohesion. Elements such as these of material and non-material religious cultures are learned via frequently attending sermons and congregations within religious institutions. Religion is very real; it is an expression of society itself, and indeed, there is no society that does not have religion. Religion strengthens social stability in at least two ways. Sociologists study religion as both a belief system and a social institution. Rather, Durkheim tried to understand the role played by religion in social life and the impact on religion of social structure and social change. As a social institution, religion is a pattern of social action organized around the beliefs and practices that people develop to answer questions about the meaning of existence. Religion can be a source of social change. "Religion," Bahá'u'lláh states, "is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein." This was one of Durkheim’s most important insights. Second, religion reinforces social unity and stability. Psychology of religion consists of the application of psychological methods and interpretive frameworks to the diverse contents of religious traditions as well as to both religious and irreligious individuals. Religion provides to society. First, it gives people a common set of beliefs and thus is an important agent of socialization (see Chapter 4 “Socialization”). become a member of the social world, beginning at birth and continuing until death. Religion and social influence: Toward a better understanding of religion’s potential dark side Religion and compliance Surrendering oneself to a higher power or losing oneself into something larger certainly motivates selfless caring acts, yet it can also be a path to much less desirable outcomes. The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. In short, he treated religion as a social institution. Religion, he acknowledged, is a matter of faith, and faith is not provable or disprovable through scientific inquiry. 11. Religion exerts a profound influence on all societies and many of the world's peoples. As a belief system, religion shapes what people think and how they see the world. Like Ram, each of us learns the values and beliefs of our culture. 10. However, social behavior of people could be influenced from any socialization agent and they might choose to live their lives on different principles. Religion legitimizes accepted social practices. The extraordinary range of methods and frameworks can be helpfully summed up regarding the classic distinction between the natural-scientific and human-scientific approaches. It is a major part of what the family, education, religion, and other institutions do to pre - pare individuals to be members of their social world.