The Concept of Religion

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Religion is a social genus, a category-concept that encompasses many practices and a variety of beliefs. It is sometimes taken to mean a belief in a single deity, but there are also religions without such a doctrine and some forms of belief that have no explicit metaphysics or spiritual experiences.

The concept of religion is so broad that it has often been used to describe not only the world’s great religious traditions but even a person’s personal spiritual life. The concept was originally derived from religio, meaning scrupulousness or devotion. It has been used to describe the way people do things devotedly, generously, ecstatically, prayerfully, sacrificially, puritanically, or ritualistically. It can also refer to the observance of taboos, covenants, promises, curses, or vows and the reaffirmation of duties and obligations that arise from them.

Those who take a scientific approach to understanding religion argue that humankind created religion as a response to either a biological or cultural need. Those who support the biological theory suggest that religion evolved from our ability to think about death and to realize that we will eventually die and pass on into some other form of existence. Those who support the cultural theory argue that religion was created by a need to create community, moral beliefs, and ways of doing things.

To learn more about a particular religion, find out more from a person of that faith or read the holy book (or books). Many websites will have general information about a religion and most religions have their own books which contain all of the teachings and stories that they believe in.