The Definition of Religion


Religion is a cultural system of values, beliefs, and rituals that binds people together. It may include a belief in the supernatural, adherence to moral values, and participation in ceremonies and rites of passage. A religion may also be considered a source of hope, comfort and guidance in difficult times. Most cultures have some form of religion. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of the world’s population subscribes to some religion. The word “religion” has a very broad meaning and many people have different opinions of what it means to be religious.

A common definition defines religion as human beings’ relationship to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. In more theistic traditions, this relation and these concerns are typically expressed in terms of a personal god or gods; in more naturalistic traditions, they are generally expressed in terms of a higher power whose existence is not definable or knowable.

Some scholars have proposed narrowing the definition of religion in order to better distinguish it from other aspects of culture. However, such proposals are controversial, as they often exclude those aspects of culture that have been traditionally regarded as religions and seem to place undue emphasis on the role of belief in a god or gods in the definition of religion.

It has been suggested that the best definition of religion is that which focuses on what people value and cherish in their lives. This view places great importance on the quality of life and encourages a sense of belonging in society. It is therefore the most useful and inclusive definition of religion. Moreover, it is the most likely to be accepted by all stakeholders.

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