While it is possible to define religion as belief in God or some super-natural powers, it is well to remember that there can also be a Godless religion as Buddhism. In sociology, the word religion is used in a wider sense than that used in religious books. A common characteristic found among all religions is that they represent a complex of emotional feelings and attitudes towards mysterious and perplexities of life. According to Radin it consists of two parts: The physiological part expresses itself in such acts as kneeling, closing the eyes, touching the feet.
The psychological part consists of supernormal sensitivity to certain traditions and beliefs. If we analyse the great religions of the world, we shall find that each of them contains, five basic elements: The first basic element of religion is the belief that there are supernatural powers.
These powers are believed to influence human life and control all natural phenomena. Some call these supernatural forces God, other call them Gods. There are even others who do not call them by any name. They simply consider them as forces in their universe. Thus, belief in the non-sensory, super-empirical world is the first element of religion. There are certain holy or sacred elements of religion.
These constitute the heart of the religion. There are certain things which are regarded as holy or sacred. But a thing is holy or sacred not because of a peculiar quality of thing. An attitude makes a thing holy. The sacred character of a tangible thing is not observable to the senses. Sacred things are symbols. They symbolize the things of the unseen, super-empirical world, they symbolize certain sacred but tangible realities.
When a Hindu worships a cow, he worships it not because of the kind of animal the cow is, but because of a host of super-empirical characteristics which this animal is imagined to represent. It includes any kind of behavior such as the wearing of special clothing and the immersion in certain rivers, in the Ganga for instance , prayers, hymns, creedal recitations, and other forms of reverence, usually performed with other people and in public.
It can include singing, dancing, weeping, crawling, starving, feasting, etc. Failure to perform these acts is considered a sin. Each religion defines certain acts as sinful and profane unholy. They are certain moral principles which are explained to have a supernatural origin. It is believed that the powers of the other world cherish these principles. It may also bring upon him the disfavour of the supernatural powers.
If the behaviour is not in accordance with the religions code, the behaviour or act is considered as sinful. A method of salvation is the fifth basic element of religion. Man needs some method by which he can regain harmony with the Gods through removal of guilt.
In Hindu religion Moksha or Salvation represents the end of life, the realisation of an inner spirituality in man. The Hindu seeks release from the bondage of Karma, which is the joy or suffering he undergoes as a result of his actions in his life. The ultimate end of life is to attain Moksha. The Buddhist hopes to attain Salvation by being absorbed in the Godhead and entering Nirvana. In short, religion is the institutionalised set of beliefs men hold about supernatural forces. It is more or less coherent system of beliefs and practices concerning a supernatural order of beings, forces, places or other entities.
Religion is interwoven with all aspects of human life: It has shaped domestic, economic and political institutions. Hence, it is obvious that religion performs a number of functions both for the religious group and for the wider society.
These functions of religion are discussed bellow. Religion may be said to help in the struggle for societal survival. Rushton Coulborn has shown that religion played a crucial role in the formation and early development of seven primary civilisations: Religion in each of these societies gave its members the courage needed for survival in an unfavourable environment, by giving explanations to certain aspects of the human conditions which could not be explained in a rational manner.
In present societies religion also performs this role. By relating the empirical world to the super-empirical world religion gives the individual a sense of security in this rapidly changing world. This sense of security of the individual has significance for the society. Religion acts as a unifying force and hence, promotes social integration in several ways. Religion plays an important part in crystallising, symbolising and reinforcing common values and norms.
It thus provides support for social standards, socially accepted behaviour. Common faith, values and norms etc. As the individuals perform rituals collectively their devotion to group ends is enhanced. Through a ritual individual expresses common beliefs and sentiments. It thus helps him to identify himself more with his fellows, and to distinguish himself more from members of other groups, communities or nations. By distinguishing between holy and unholy things, religion creates sacred symbol for the values and this symbol becomes the rallying point for all persons who share the same values.
The cow as a sacred symbol of the Hindus, for example, is a rallying point which gives cohesion to Hindu society. Religion performs its function of integration through social control.
It regulates the conduct of individuals by enforcing moral principles on them and by prescribing powerful sanctions against them for violation.
It is the ultimate source of social cohesion. The primary requirement of society is the common possession of social values by which individuals control the actions of self and others and through which society is perpetuated. These social values emanate from religious faith. Religion is the foundation upon which these values rest. Children should obey their parents, should not tell a lie or cheat, women should be faithful to men; people should be honest and virtuous are some of the social values which maintain social cohesion.
It is religion that asks man to renounce unsocial activities and requires him to accept limitations upon his wants and desires. All the religions have preached love and non-violence. They have emphasized sacrifice and forbearance. It is one of the means of informal means of social control.
Religion not only defines moral expectations for members of the religious group but usually enforces them. It supports certain types of social conduct by placing the powerful sanctions of the supernatural behind them.
It makes certain forms of social behaviour as offences not only against society but also against God. Hence, any violation of the acceptable norm is punishable not only by God but by society. Hinduism gives sanction to the caste system which regulates social relations of various classes in India. Religion encourages people to render services to the needy and poor and promote their welfare. It develops philanthropic attitude of people.
Help and assistance are rendered to poor and destitute persons due to religion inspiration. It is believed that one can obtain the cherished goal of religion by way of giving alms and assistance to the helpless and needy persons.
In this way religion promotes the welfare of individuals, groups and community. The priesthood often was dedicated to art and culture. The priests laid the foundations of medicine. Magic supplied the roots of observation and experimentation from which science developed.
It also inculcated the habit of charity among the people who opened many charitable institutions like hospitals, rest houses, temples to help the needy and the poor. Religion serves to soothe the man in times of his suffering and disappointment. In this world man often suffers disappointment even in the midst of all hopes and achievements.
The things for which he strives are in some measure always denied to him. When human hopes are blighted, when all that was planned and striven for has been swept away, man naturally wants something to console and compensate him. When a son dies man seeks to assuage his grief in ritualistic exchanges of condolence. On God he puts faith and entertains the belief that some unseen power moves in mysterious ways to make even his loss meaningful. Faith in God compensates him and sustains his interest in life and makes it bearable.
In this way religion helps man to bear his frustrations and encourages him to accept his lot on earth. Man unites himself with the infinite and feels ennobled. Through unity with the infinite the self is made majestic and triumphant. Man considers himself the noblest work of God with whom he shall be united and his self thus becomes grand and luminous. Besides this, religion shapes domestic, economic and political institutions. Religion supports institutional pattern more explicitly.
All the great religions of the world have attempted to regulate kinship relations, especially marriage and family. Political institutions are often sanctioned by religion: Religious rites are performed on many occasions in relation to vital events and dominant interests: Religion is the central element in the life of civilisation. Religion has also performed some other services to humanity among which Sumner and Keller included the provision of work, the spread of education, the accumulation of capital and the creation of a leisure class.
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Religion gives a person his identity, name, customs, shared values and a culture and sometimes even a language. This is why religion has the function of providing a complete code of life to people. Religions unite people and make them happy by providing them common festivals and rituals and give meaning to their worldly affairs as well as guide their actions.
With the guidance provide by religion, people get to know their limitations and boundaries and therefore they restrain themselves from indulging in wrong or unethical activities like robberies, crimes, extra marital affairs, drugs, etc. Religion gave people a meaning and purpose of life and created their history. Another function of religion is to provide recreation to its people by giving them festivals like Christmas when people meet with each other, enjoy healthy meals, celebrate and socialize.
Another very important function of religion is that it influences the political system of a country. For example, Islam favors democracy in its religion and so people in Pakistan and other Muslim countries follow it.
What is Religion Essay Words | 6 Pages. World Religion What is Religion? According to the American College Dictionary, religion is a noun defined as the quest for the values of the ideal life. This definition is vast and general, allowing for a variety of interpretations by people from all cultures.
- The Value of Religion In the essay, “Is Religion Bad or Good?” John Stahl reveals his thoughts on how religion is not necessarily good even though it is supposed to be. He points out five different religions including Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Quaker as he gathers his opinion on each.
Meaning of Religion: Religion is concerned with the shared beliefs and practices of human beings. It is the human response to those elements in the life and environment of mankind which are beyond their ordinary comprehension. Religion is pre-eminently social and is found in nearly all societies. Database of FREE religion essays - We have thousands of free essays across a wide range of subject areas. Sample religion essays!
What Is Religion Essay Religion: Witchcraft and Religion - Words. Since the beginning of man religion has had a significant role in our society. In our society today religion has been defined as beliefs, morals, cultural systems, and world views. To most people religion offers salvation, enlightenment, and a place in heaven. It tells one a complete code of life. Religion emphasizes the importance of being good and of being right. It condemns those who are bad and those who are wrong. Those who practice a religion strive to be perfect/5(11).