The Definition of Religion

Categories : Gembing


Religion is a term used in anthropology, sociology, and psychology to describe human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It can also refer to their ultimate concerns about life and death.

The term is also often applied to religious traditions, including those that are characterized by rituals and the worship of a personal God or gods (Oxford Dictionaries). Other terms used in the same way include cults, orthodoxy, faith, and adherence.

In some contexts, religion is seen as an abstract set of ideas, values, or experiences developed as part of a cultural matrix. In other cases, it is defined in terms of mental states rooted in individual beliefs.

It is a complex phenomenon, and scholars in a number of fields, such as anthropology, history, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, and sociology, are involved in the debate.

When it comes to the definition of religion, some scholars believe that functional and substantive definitions are incompatible. Specifically, a functional definition would focus on the benefits that religion brings to society.

A more substantive definition, on the other hand, would refocus on the social actors and the disciplinary practices that produce these benefits. This view is not universal, however, because the benefits of religion are not uniform in societies.

For example, many people who are not religious feel that their lives are more meaningful when they have strong relationships with others. Perhaps this is a function of religion, which can act as social glue, drawing the faithful into like-minded communities.