Part One: Characteristics of Primal Religion

Primal religions have various characteristics. The first feature is the use of myths. The myths are used to render explanations on how the universe or world was created or how different situations such as illnesses or death came into existence. The myths also help to provide a blueprint for people to follow when conducting themselves in this life.

The second characteristic of primal religions is the existence of sacred beings. The stories passed down are largely centered on some savior, hero, or God. As an example, the Enuma Elish elicits the contest of Gods and their eventual downfall at Marduk’s hands (Tamtik, 2007). These beings are generally worshipped and revered since they are credited with creation or protection of humanity.

The third feature is they are mainly passed down through oral tradition. The different groups of people who existed in the past had different interactions and since there was no writing at the time, the stories of primal religions were mainly passed down through the spoken word. It continued until writing was invented.

The fourth feature is the existence of sacred spaces where people were seen to be closer to their deities. There are more than 80,000 Shinto shrines across Japan alongside many Buddhist temples (Roemer, 2010). These spaces are used for meditation, worship, and prayers.

The fifth feature entails sacred events and moments reenactments. It means that there are different moments reenacted to help bring the people closer to the deities. For example, in the ‘Enuma Elish, Marduk is seen to have taken charge and conquered the chaos unleashed. His triumph is re-enacted every new year.

The sixth feature is sacred rituals (Harstock, 1968). These are the different actions taken to transport people into sacred states. For instance during the two-day Shinto festival, hundreds of residents are seen pulling huge floats to signify their celebration of nature and spirits (Kami) (Roemer, 2010).

Part 2: What is a religious behavior? A representation of Foster’s Answer

When reviewing what religious behavior entails, it is prudent to begin with evaluating the different dimensions of religion. Religion is expressed primarily through rituals of worship, offerings, and prayer. The manner through which these rituals are conducted helps to illuminate religious behavior. Another dimension to consider is regarding mythology and its role in religion. Historical events rooted in religion can be classified as myths and they have a significant impact on the behavior of religious people as they guide how they conduct themselves (Smart, 2008). The doctrinal dimension is also important to consider since theology must bring clarity to the religious symbols used and their meaning to religion.

The ethical dimension states that religion is directly interconnected with ethics. Religion has always been used as the code of ethics for society. Therefore, religious behavior is intricately associated with ethical behavior. Religion is also seen to have communal and social significance. Institutionalization of religion is an important element of understanding religious behavior within society. The final dimension to consider is the experiential dimension. Religion permeates all parts of society and it is essential to understand people’s experiences with religion (Smart, 2008). As an example, the Christians conduct themselves and hope to enter heaven while Buddhists seek out nirvana.

Foster concludes that religion is a six-dimensional organism that comprises of rituals, myths, doctrines, ethical teachings, and social institutions that are animated by different types of religious experiences. Religious life revolves around the goals of comprehending the different patterns of life and how they pertain to key ideas of religion such as God and Nirvana among others (Harstock, 1968). Therefore, religious behavior is peoples conduct in all six dimensions of religion and their relationship to the established religious ideas.

Part 3: What is ‘religion’ and what is ‘a religion’? Representing and adapting some answers

Smart/Six Dimensions

Why are religions condemned as ritualistic?

It is because, there are many religions out there that major on executing the rituals set aside instead of incorporating sentiments and intentions to give the religion human meaning.

Distinguish between ethical dimensions of religion and ethical teachings of faith.

Faith is the backbone of religion and it brings about numerous teachings on how to behave ethically. In contrast, religion is not faith, it is a compounding of various societal aspects. Faiths resides in individuals and the ethical lessons emanate from individuals. Religion affects the general community resulting in room for flaunting of ethics (Smart, 2008).

Explain the relationship between experience and dialectical interpretation.

Taking the example of Buddhism and Christianity, the Buddha incorporates elements from society to transform old teachings while biblical scholars founded a monotheistic religion on the belief in Yahweh. It means that there is a dual relationship from both.

Religion as a dimension in man’s spiritual life

With reference to the bondage of will, is it justified to speak of religion as an aspect of the human spirit?

Based on the bondage of will, religion is seen as God’s gift to humans. God must begin with relating to humans before humans can relate to God. Theologians contend that religion is not the creation of the human spirit (Tillich, 1959).

How can religion be refuted as a moral relative of ethics?

Religion is seen as a weak/poor relation to ethics. It means that religion needs to prove that for it to be considered alongside ethics is through serving morality. Despite it creating numerous upstanding citizens, good husbands, and children. It is a risky move to associate both since religion is not as strict as morality.

Why does religion not try to find a place within the artistic creativity of man?

The main way through which religion is analyzed is through philosophers and the artistic realm is represented through artists across all ages. The intersection of the two results in the conclusion that art is religion.

The author concludes that religion is an organism with different facets and dimensions founded on religious experiences of different types. Tillich argues that religion is the dimension of depth within the essence and totality of the human spirit.




Harstock, D. (1968). Contemporary Religious Issues. Wadsworth Publication Company.

Roemer, M. K. (2010, December). Shinto festival involvement and sense of self in contemporary Japan. In Japan Forum (Vol. 22, No. 3-4, pp. 491-512). Taylor & Francis Group.

Smart, N. (2008). The Seven Dimensions of Religion. University of California Cambridge University Press,. pp9–21 Smith, SA.

Tamtik, S. (2007). Enuma Elish: The Origins of Its Creation. Studia Antiqua5(1), 9.

Tillich, P. (1959). Religion as a dimension in man’s spiritual life. Theology of culture3, 7-8.

If you need a similar assignment, click the link below: