Definitions of Religion

Definitions of Religion

Defining the word ” religion ” is filled with difficulty in order to include all the necessary aspects.

Religion : a term sometimes used interchangeably with faith, is commonly defined as belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices and institutions associated with such belief. In its broadest sense some have defined it as the sum total of answers given to explain humankind’s relationship with the universe.

Religion : from “re-ligare”, means “to tie back, tie fast, tie up”… to get in contact with God.

Religion is a system of faith in and worship of a Supreme Being, or a god or gods… or a system of denial of any god.

In the Far East, with the arrival of the Christian missionaries at the beginning of the XVII century, the Chinese translated the word religion by both sinogrammes Zang and Jiao which mean the teaching of the ancestors, stressing the transmission of knowledge and especially of rites, of a tradition, to some extent or of a religious teaching. In the same way, the Japanese forged the word shûkyô, meaning the teaching of essence, i.e. of a catechism.

There have been many attempts by dictionaries to explain the world Religion:

Webster’s New World Dictionary (Third College Edition):
“any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” This definition would exclude religions that do not engage in worship.

Barns & Noble (Cambridge) Encyclopaedia (1990):
“…no single definition will suffice to encompass the varied sets of traditions, practices, and ideas which constitute different religions.”

There are a variety of uses and meanings for the word Religion. Some of the approaches are as follows:

  • The “function-based approach” defines religion as any set of beliefs and practices that have the function of addressing the fundamental questions of human identity, ethics, death and the existence of the Divine.
  • The “form-based approach” defines religion as any set of beliefs which makes claims that lie beyond the realm of scientific observation, according to some authority or personal experience with the Divine.
  • The “organizational approach” defines religion as the formal institutions, creeds, organizations, practices, and rules of conduct, of all major, institutionalized religions.

There is also a variety of “objective” or scientific attempt to study and explain Religion:

  • Historical, archeological , and literary approaches to Religion ( Max Müller )
  • Anthropological approaches to Religion ( John Lubbock )
  • Sociological approaches to Religion ( Auguste Comte)
  • Psychological approaches to Religion( William James )
  • Philosophical approaches to Religion ( Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx )
  • Neuroscientific approaches to Religion and
  • Cognitive psychological approaches to Religion(Pascal Boyer)


We hope you will enjoy this site. We have tried to provide you with Descriptions, overviews of various World Religions: Concise descriptions, articles and resources to understand several world religions, spirituality and ethical systems.

The first page of each religion will give a simple overview of a religion .

This site will expand in the future to include other religions. You can use it for comparative religion. Understanding Western religions or Easterns religions.

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