The themes of terror and mortality become more popular in different fields of modern culture such as film industry and literature. The article “Halloween Special: Religion`s Role in Terror Management Theory” (Arrowood 2014) written by R. B. Arrowood for “The Religious Studies Project” provides an explanation why these issues have become so popular and how religion influences this tendency from the point of view of the Terror Management Theory. In his opinion, religion helps people to construct a specific worldview which, as they believe, can provide them with literal and symbolic immortality.
The terror management theory (Greenberg, 2011) is constructed to explain the psychological patterns of humans` reaction and perception of death (p. 398). According to it, humans are animals who, due to their cognitive abilities, have realized the inevitability of death and, to manage the terror caused by this realization, have developed a number of psychological mechanisms which allow them to deny this terror, one of them is faith (p. 402). People are likely to believe that the world is just and if they lead a meaningful and orderly life, they have a change to gain literal immortality for their deeds and thoughts.
Religion, mainly Christianity, is one of the most effective means to defense death terror. Imposing the idea that there can be life after death in Heaven, it suggests that there is no nonexistence and if a person leads a godly life, death will be only a moment of the transference to symbolic immortality. Moreover, Christians are likely to express hostility if other people do not share their worldviews and beliefs, in other words, if they deny the idea of immortal soul`s life.
So, from the point of view of the terror management theory, religion is an effective way for denial and defensing mortality, promising its followers both literal and symbolic immortalities by making their lives-before-death meaningful and promising an eternal lives of their souls.
- Greenberg, J., & Arndt J. (2011). Terror Management Theory. Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology, 1, 398-415.
- Arrowood R. B. (Oct., 31, 2014) Halloween Special: Religion`s Role in Terror Management Theory. The Religious Studies Project. Retrieved from http://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/2014/10/31/halloween-special-religions-role-in-terror-management-theory-by-robert-b-arrowood.