According to the online etymology dictionary, religion, in its modern sense, is the “recognition of, obedience to, and worship of a higher, unseen power.” Numerous studies over the centuries have supported that religion is a human phenomenon of interaction and spiritual exchange based on a group of beliefs or attitudes concerning a real or imagined object or person. In particular, religion is a system of thought considered to have a supernatural, sacred, or divine character, which is based on a set of moral codes, practices, institutions, values, and rituals, associated with the specific beliefs examined.
Also referred to as “faith” or “system of beliefs,” religion is usually defined as an agreed set of rules illustrated by a set of commonly exercised practices. These practices are carried out by humans in their effort to understand the natural forces that govern their lives and accept the biggest change of them all; that of death. In fear of the unknown, humans have been able to confront the never-ending change in life and interact with each other by creating a particular set of beliefs and practicing rituals that do represent their commonly agreed principles.
Although one can find a variety of definitions existing for religion, many have struggled to avoid using one that would exclude its true essence or would be considered as a meaningless generality. Anthropologists and sociologists tend to examine religion as an abstract set of ideas, values, and experiences, developed as part of a cultural network. Through these human religious-based networks, cultural practices and rituals have evolved, transforming not only the individuals who perform them, but in most cases, the nations where these specific religions are practiced. Today, in every country of the world, religion is a crucial cultural factor of citizenry, acting as the shared bond that transcends the gaps among generations and ideologies. Contemporary interaction in the existing socio-cultural arenas is based on religion understanding and the frequent exchange of everyday life experiences.
With three main models in the development of religion, scholars have attempted to examine its tremendous effects in their effort to understand its significance. Specifically, religion has been examined as a social construction mechanism, as a progressive attempt to understand the underlying truth, or as the absolute true meaning portrayed in life. The first group of models concentrates on the positive effects of religion on society, the individual and civilization in general. On the other hand, models that examine religion as the progressive true meaning in life focus on the aspect of truth and concentrate on the quest of understanding what reality is through time Finally, the models that see religion as the absolutely and unchangingly “True” contradict the first two models, which regard religion to be false or to develop through time, viewing a particular religion as the absolute true meaning in all.
Whether one comes from a religious background or considers religion to play a vital role in modern life affecting and interacting with conscious or unconscious choices, the fact still remains that religion, regardless of the model one examines, is one of the most important characteristics found in today’s cultures. Religion has a tremendous impact on effective communication principles as it intervenes with one’s understanding of others. Thus, opening up to religious influences and comprehending its effects is imperative for anyone who wishes to examine the religious spectrum of contemporary cultures.
By: Kadence Buchanan