What Is Religion?


Religion is the supplication of oneself to God or to some deity. It consists of love of God for his own sake, in awe of the infinite beauty and excellence of His nature, and in a desire to share his happiness. It likewise includes love of his creatures, in gratitude for the benefits received from God, and hatred of all evil and sin. It enjoins the performance of certain acts, and the observance of certain rules and customs, as the means of achieving these ends.

It is a complex phenomenon, and scholars have a variety of views on its nature and functions. Some have argued that it satisfies a need for human security and the sense of order in the universe, while others have looked at its role in society as binding individuals to social norms. Psychologists have looked at the emotional and psychological needs it fills, such as fear of death, or a desire for meaning in life. Neuroscientists have even suggested that there is circuitry in the brain for religious experiences.

Most religions also impose some moral standards, ranging from strict adherence to the law of their holy book to simple adherence to accepted moral principles. Ultimately, though, the aim of most religions is to achieve communion with the Deity. This is achieved through prayers, sacrificial acts, pious practices, and the observance of the commandments. In lower religions this goal is crudely conceived, as man merely desires his own aid and happiness; in the higher forms of religion it is elevated to the level of a virtue.