What Is Religion?


The term religion encompasses many diverse beliefs, practices, and social experiences. It is not easy to define and the lines between it and other concepts such as spirituality, worldview, and behavior are blurred. However, it is commonly thought that a religion is something that influences people’s morality and worldview. A more specific definition is that religion is a belief system that incorporates both supernatural and earthly components, which impact people’s worldview and behaviors.

Religious belief can be a source of strength, comfort, and guidance. It can also be a source of conflict, prejudice, and hatred. Over the centuries, it has been common for individuals and groups to persecute others because of their religious beliefs and traditions. The study of Religion is an essential part of the field of Religious Studies and includes a wide variety of academic disciplines such as Philosophy, History, Archaeology, Anthropology, and Sociology.

A more general view of religion as a human phenomenon is that it consists of an acknowledgment of dependence on the part of finite man, on the one hand, and an attempt to bring him into friendly, beneficent communion with the Divine Beings, on the other. This view of religion has been expressed by various writers, among them Hegel, Max Muller, Kant, and Schleiermacher.

More recently, the emphasis has shifted away from “committed” accounts that seek to explain religion in terms of the motives of its adherents and towards more neutral descriptions that consider the effects of particular historical processes on the concept of Religion. The latter approach is informed by the rise of the sciences of History, Anthropology, and Archaeology.