Religion is a way of life that has evolved to support the well being and survival of individuals, groups, communities, states, and nations. It improves health, learning, economic well-being, self-control, self-esteem, and empathy.
It can help reduce social pathologies, including out-of-wedlock births, crime, delinquency, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health problems, and prejudices. It can also help people develop moral reflection, and orientation toward the good.
The study of religion is a complex process that requires special attention from various perspectives and without prejudices. It involves a high degree of empirical analysis and is often difficult to accomplish.
A common definition of religion is that it is a set of beliefs, morals, and practices that have been organized into religious institutions or governing bodies. These are usually based on the teachings of a god or spiritual authority.
In many cultures and in all regions of the world, people turn to religion when they are going through a tough time and need emotional and psychological comfort and support. They are able to trust the spiritual authority as well as their fellow believers and this, coupled with their intrinsic spirituality, allows them to cope with stressful situations and helps them in their quest for healing.
However, in the past century there have been a number of scholars who attempted to examine religion from a single perspective and they failed to provide any useful or comprehensive understanding. These include social scientists such as anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and historians.