Definitions of Religion


Religion is a cultural system of behaviors, practices and ethics that have been developed over time in different cultures. Many people have different religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

Definitions of Religion

The most common way to define religion is as a belief in spiritual beings or divine power. This is the most basic, broad definition and includes polytheism (worship of more than one god), henotheism (worship of one god over all others), and monotheism (worship of one supreme god).

Another important definition is that a religion is any system of practices that unite a number of people into a single moral community, regardless of whether those practices involve beliefs in any unusual realities. Emile Durkheim defined religion this way in 1912.

Religious Beliefs and Practices

A third functional definition of religion is that it names the distinctive role that a form of life can play in an individual’s life. This is a useful approach to religion because it does not depend on defining religion as a substantive category of things–that is, as a collection of distinctive kinds of reality that must be distinguished from ordinary objects of experience.

In addition to providing social cohesion, religion provides an orientation in life. It teaches a set of beliefs and practices that provide guidance and meaning in life, even when these beliefs and practices are not consciously articulated by their adherents. It also has many positive effects on a person’s mental and physical well-being. These effects can include greater psychological well-being and stronger relationships with other people in places of worship.

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