What Is Religion? Essay

1725 words - 7 pages

What is religion? Each person’s definition of religion is different. Each person’s faith is different. This is a question that has been asked for centuries, and regardless of the answer given there is no right or wrong answer. Religion can be defined as a group of people who have shared beliefs who feel their life has purpose or meaning. This feeling or belief that their life has meaning can come from outside of themselves, as well as within. Taking this one step further, these shared beliefs put into action in the form of worship, can be easily identified because they happen regularly. It can be said the Primal religions were in fact not religions. Some may argue Confucianism is not a religion. Others may say Taoism is not a religion. However, one argument can be made. All three of these “religions” share “features.” Huston Smith, author of World’s Religions, says “six features of religion appear so regularly as to suggest that their seeds are in the human makeup.” These six features discussed in World’s Religions are as follows: authority, ritual, explanation, tradition, grace, and mystery (World’s, Page 67). First is authority, Smith argues religion is so complex that people will need assistance or guidance from those held in a higher light, or of a higher authority. Next is ritual, which can be happy (a wedding) or sad (a funeral), rituals are shared between people of the same religion in many forms as a sign of common beliefs. Following rituals, some explanation is required. Many of a religion’s followers ask for explanations, some ask, “What is my purpose in life?” Others may ask, “Who is God?” Depending on one’s religion, the questions or
Defining Religion-3
explanations wanted will differ; however, they will always be present. Tradition is the fourth feature discussed by Smith. Traditions are learned from one generation to the next. They are teachings learned by previous generations then passed down, they are not always actions. The fifth feature of religion is grace. Grace is defined by Smith as “the belief and assurance that reality is on our side and can be counted on.” Lastly there is mystery. For this there is no exact definition, but it is all of what a religion cannot explain, it is all that the human mind cannot grasp, it is the certain “higher power” that religion offers. Of these six features, there are three that are present in most all religions, they are: authority, tradition, and mystery. Authority, tradition, and mystery further explore and define religion when looking specifically at Primal Religions, Confucianism, and Taoism.
Primal Religions are often mistaken to be the religion of the primitive man, often thought to be unintelligent. There is a definition of “primal” that is better suited than unintelligent or primitive. Primal in terms of religion, refers to the lack of exposure to technology, it is not “knowing” the state of consciousness given to many by the technological...

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