What Is Religion?


Religion consists of the set of beliefs and practices that people follow to help them make sense of their lives. It is a phenomenon that has shaped human history, providing answers to many important questions.

Religious people have a need to believe in something that provides them with meaning and value, a need that stems from the evolutionary origin of the human species. There are other sources for that kind of belief and some of them can be important, but religion is the primary form that satisfies that need.

It is the most intensive and comprehensive of forms of valuing.

When a person believes in something, they also feel it as part of their identity and the way they relate to others. When that happens, they are more likely to behave in a morally appropriate manner.

In the modern world, it has become increasingly difficult to avoid the influence of a particular worldview or worldviews on one’s choices and behaviors. This is particularly true with respect to religion, which is the most popular worldview in the world today.

There are various ways to define religion, but the basic issue is whether it has a structure. The most common approach is to use a polythetic definition of religion, a class that consists of all social formations that meet four criteria: