Why Are There Religions?

A professor of religion explains the underlying aspects of what drives human spiritual beliefs, and how that works in the world

Jennifer Eyl, an associate professor of religion who also holds appointments in the departments of Classical Studies and History, is the author of Signs, Wonders, and Gifts: Divination in the Letters of Paul and co-editor of Christian Tourist Attractions, Mythmaking, and Identity Formation, and has published articles in Method and Theory in the Study of Religion and the Journal for the Study of the New Testament, among others.

Explaining the role of religion, she says that “most people believe in the existence of an invisible world inhabited by beings we call gods or demigods.” She notes that scholars of religion “don’t ask ‘Do these beings exist or not?’ Instead, we look at what human beings do in relation to that belief.”

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