Religion Defined

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What is religion? I would find it difficult to believe that anyone can give an all encompassing definition to a word that holds so many different meanings and implications to the many diverse groups of people around the globe. You often hear people discuss religion and even engage in heated arguments over what religion is best or the most “correct”. Most of the wars and conflicts in the history of our world have been fought in the name of a religious institution or for religious freedom, yet I doubt few could provide a concise view and description of what religion really means to them. When I hear the word religion I think it can best be defined as a group of common beliefs or ideas based upon a supernatural or divine power which includes the morals, traditions, and rituals associated with that belief system (Robinson). Even though variations among religions exist, there remain many more similarities in religion and those common themes are what make religion a universal system for everyone.

One of the important elements or benefits of religion is that it provides a sense of belonging and understanding. While it may not be the primary factor for having a religion, I believe that it is the reason that some religions may have formed. For others, it may be the factor that causes many to join a religious group. The founder of Liberal Protestant Theology, Friedrich Schleiermacher, argued that religion is actually based on an “immediate self-consciousness” where the self feels totally dependent on something other than itself (Lyden 18-19). Religion is in a way like any other social group. It provides a setting where you can share similar beliefs, ideas, and concerns with others in a supportive and loving environment. For others, religion can provide a sense of control. The world in which we live can sometimes be very tumultuous and thus religion provides a haven where one can find peace and understanding. The German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach theorized...
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