Understanding a cultural environment outside of the realm of what a person were to have grown up with would be quite a daunting task to accomplish. Quite often, the interpretations that are made by outside individuals in regards to the cultural practices and tendencies of another group can, to a varying degree, have elements of moral judgment as well as the rational nature of thinking to the line of thinking. The nature of moral based thinking in line with rational thinking can pose as an obstacle to the research and conclusion to be made. In assessing the nature of cultural relativism, William C. Shepherd, an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Montana, in his work titled "Cultural Relativism, Physical Anthropology, and Religion", seeks to offer insight into this, as well as a broader look at cultural study and understanding.
Professor Shepherd's quote provides the underlying step towards the broader discussion of not only cultural advancement, but in this case how religion can involve at the same rate within the fibers of the overall growth and advancement as the collective culture as a whole. The sentiment that Shepherd wishes to show here is that he does in fact recognize an inherent nature, albeit of the biological variety, that leads to the formation of what humans collectively do, how they view certain things, even taking into consideration the guaranteed diversification of views that are expected to be the case within any cultural structure, no matter where they are located. Shepherd elaborates that;
Without wishing to deny the connection between world-openness and the culturally
relative construction of specific "worlds," I submit that indeed there is a biologically
fixed substratum which does shape human activities panculturally, despite flamboyant
diversities of thoughts, behaviors, perceptions, superstitions, and all the rest.
Furthermore, by looking evolutionary backward at how we got to be what we are, we
can know the outlines not only of what that biological substratum is but also how it has
changed over time. (Shepherd, p.160).
On the other hand, relativism