How to Define Religion


Religion is a powerful force that has shaped societies throughout history, setting moral codes and creating a sense of belonging and stability. It has also provided a framework for understanding the world and coping with its challenges. Research shows that being religious can provide a sense of hope, support and community, as well as promoting healthy behaviors.

How to define Religion

The word religion has a wide range of meanings, from an attitude of devotion or loyalty to a particular faith, to the idea of God as a transcendent power. In its most general usage, it refers to any belief or practice that seeks spiritual guidance. The term is often used as a synonym for Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Hinduism. However, it can also encompass a wide variety of smaller, lesser-known faiths.

Philosophers have attempted to address the problem of defining religion in a careful manner. Some, like Durkheim, use a functional approach that focuses on the social function of creating solidarity. Others, such as Tillich, prefer to focus on the axiological function of providing a framework for one’s values.

In the end, it is difficult to find a definitive definition of religion that can satisfy all critics. The debate will probably have to be restricted to identifying good and bad aspects of different religions, in terms of some chosen standard/criteria. Polythetic definitions have become increasingly popular, as people try to avoid the claim that an evolving social category has a fixed essence.