Religion is a way of life that people practice to get closer to God, a higher power, or some other divine figure. Many forms of religion enjoin believers to perform devotional or contemplative practices, such as prayer or meditation. They also engage in specific rituals. Other aspects of religion include moral conduct, right beliefs, and participation in religious institutions.
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is the study of religion from a philosophical perspective. It examines the central themes and concepts of religion, including the nature of God, the nature of religious experience, and the relationship between religion and culture. It also considers the relationship between science and religion.
Function of religion in society
Religion is a powerful social force. It helps to enforce social order, and it can also motivate people to take action for social change. For example, during the civil rights movement decades ago, religion was an important motivating factor. Martin Luther King, Jr. was motivated by his religious beliefs to desegregate the South. His black churches were important meeting places, as well as a source of funds and recruitment.
Diversity of religions around the world
The diversity of religions around the world has become a prominent topic in international studies, particularly those that concern immigration. Although the literature on immigration has focused on Christianity and Islam, it has also covered a wide range of religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and the new religions of Japan and the New World.
Methods used to study religion
There are many different methodologies used to study religion. The major world religions typically contain doctrines, myths, ethical and social teachings, rituals, social institutions, and inner experiences and sentiments. In addition to these features, religions often have buildings and institutions that reflect the beliefs of their adherents. Tribal religions, on the other hand, may not be institutionalized but still form a significant part of communal life.
Origins of religion
The origins of religion are not entirely clear. Researchers have studied primitive and tribal societies to make inferences about the evolution of religion. For example, an evolutionary account of religion could explain the similarities between Jewish and Christian practices.
Characteristics of religion
A religion is a group of practices with common characteristics. Its members do not necessarily have all of these characteristics, but the group as a whole exhibits many of them. The more of these characteristics a phenomenon displays, the more likely it is to be classified as a religion.