Religion is a unified system of thoughts, feelings and actions that people have in common and that gives them an object (or objects) of devotion, someone or something sacred to believe in, such as a god or spiritual concept. It also includes a code of behavior or personal moral conduct by which individuals may judge the personal and social consequences of their actions and the actions of others.
The origins of Religion
Some scientists, such as anthropologists, who study human societies and human origins, think that religion was the result of a need by humans to control uncontrollable parts of their environment. Anthropologists have found that humans have always tried to manipulate or supplication things around them that are out of their control, such as the weather, pregnancy and birth, hunting success and other aspects of life.
Other scientists, such as philosophers, have thought that religion evolved as a response to human needs and to questions about the universe. They have found that it answers psychological and emotional needs in human beings, such as the need to feel connected to a higher purpose or to have a deeper spiritual experience than is available in everyday life.
They have found that it can also help people solve problems and find meaning in their lives. For example, psychologists have found that some religious beliefs are effective in helping people feel less depressed and less lonely and to live longer, healthier lives.
There is a wide range of beliefs in religious traditions. Some people have no particular view of a supernatural being or an afterlife, while others hold very strong beliefs in these areas.
A number of different religions have a common basis in philosophical ideas, such as the idea that God exists or that there are some universal truths that cannot be ignored and are eternally present. These include religions developed by philosophy, such as Buddhism, and religions developed by faith, such as Christianity and Judaism.
Other religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, have a more naturalistic view of the world, believing that the truths about the universe and the way it works are innate in humanity and will continue to exist in the future. These beliefs can be very simple, such as a belief in a single God or a universal set of ideals, or they can be complex, such as a belief in a cosmological order or the existence of disembodied spirits.
Many people have mixed beliefs about religion, some believing that it is a means to make life better and others believing that it is a source of evil and exploitation. However, the majority of people agree that religion provides a sense of belonging to a group and helps people find meaning in their lives.
Studies have shown that religion can be a good thing for human beings, especially for families and countries. It improves health, learning, economic well-being, self-control, self-esteem and empathy. It can also reduce the incidence of social pathologies such as crime, drug and alcohol addiction, depression, out-of-wedlock births and other factors that cause people to be unhappy in their lives.