What Constitutes a Religion?
Religion is an inevitable part of the modern life. It is difficult to distinguish what a religion is since having become an inevitable part of human life, religion touches a number of life aspects and there is no specific reply what constitutes a religion. Religion can be explained as a set of rules, it may be considered as a state of soul or the faith in divine nature of the reality. Religion can be a strong source of power and it can be a means of manipulating others. Politics and religion are interconnected notions and no one can reject this fact. Deeper analysis of the current situation does not leave any doubts that despite the fact that church and state were separated many times ago, each of the instances can influence each other. Religion and philosophy have much in common, but at the same time these are two different notions. Both religion and philosophy are aimed at searching what a good is and where the truth is. However, each of these notions is different. Thus, religion has specific ceremonies, while philosophy study does not require any rituals. Religion stresses on the faith, while the philosophers tend to reason and critical thinking. Overall, religion usually refers to philosophy doctrines, while philosophy does not omit religion. However, these notions are not the same. Spirituality is also a part of religion, but there are different notions. Religion is a state institution, while spirituality is something that has risen in a human. Trying to understand what a religion is, it is important to pay attention to all these notions. Religion can be a part of wisdom, a moral order issue, a part of aesthetics, and a way of manipulating people, as all these aspects of religion do exist in the modern world and can have a number of supportive arguments.
Considering religion as a part of wisdom, it is important to refer to Ring, Nash, MacDonald, and Freed Glennon, who believe that one of the definitions of religion explains it as “awareness expressed through symbols of relationships to, or participation in, the fundamental power of life”. Dwelling upon religion from this perspective, it is obvious that religion is a part of “world ideas, a matter of thinking, concerned with truth and wisdom”. This position can be explained by the reasoning of some basic aspects of religion. Any religion convinces epeople to adhere to the rules applying to human mind. No person will follow religious convictions if he/she understands some misconceptions. It is impossible to consider the case when a person becomes spiritually bounded to religious consideration from a childhood and does not have any information contradicting the issue. A true religion comes to people through questioning and answering. People tend to think over their ideas and visions and having selected one particular religion as the basis for their life, people cannot stop asking questions. In most cases people cannot follow some issues blindly as having chosen a religion, they were sure to question it and think about the major issues. For example, some religions forbid abortions. Such particular prohibition is based on the issue of human health and a consideration of a embryo as a human being. Murder is prohibited by the law and abortion is a type of murder. Some religions allow this procedure and each decision is based on rationale and critical decision of any of the options.
Religion is related to a moral order of the community. There are a lot of examples confirming this fact. People receive a set of specific norms of behavior, considered as moral in this particular community. Speaking about morality in the society, it is impossible to reject such facts as murders, robbery, adultery, etc. are immoral and cannot be accepted in the modern society. Religion helps to deliver this information to people. Following religious canons people follow the morale rules. Each of the aspect of behavior dictated by a church does not contradict and even support its moral nature. Following religious doctrines, people from early childhood are learnt to behave adequate. Moral rules are the rules aimed at supporting human beings in their behavior making it correct. Each society constitutes their own moral rules and the role of religion is to support them. For example, religious visions of some African tribes may be absolutely unacceptable in the civilized world, but their moral visions are followed and it is the problem of the community, which accepted those moral visions. Thus, each religion supports the moral considerations of the society. One more example, some religions do not support divorces, while others consider it a normal issue. Modern world is highly changing and it is possible to see the changes in moral principles and religions doctrines. Coogan also confirms the fact that “disagreement may arise over the application of older principles to new situations”, and since it is a disputable question, the solution may come into the development of new doctrines or the development of a new branch or subgroup within one religious tradition.
Religion can be a part of aesthetics as “a matter of feeling for relationships and patters, concerned with order and beauty”. This aspect of religion understanding is related to the inner conditions of people who follow some particular religious doctrines. If a person feels better after the communication with religion, if one is sure that religion makes the world a better place to live in, so this is exactly what aesthetics means. Trust and faith are the basic issue of religion in this particular meaning. Going to church people in many cases feel relieved. They get rid of all the troubles and worries which follow them Going to religious organizations for many people is a way to find peace. Being grief and having other problems many people turn to God to find answers and to become free from buries they carry. If religion gives these people relief, they consider the world as a better place, their souls are filled with hope and future. This aspect of religion understanding makes this world better. Faith is the best motivation to live. People who have faith are usually happier and it makes the world better from the side of human behavior. Therefore, religion can be constituted as a means for making the world better than it is in reality.
Religion can be considered as way of manipulating people. Church and politics are the notions, which have been separated many years ago, but religion still has the power on the whole nations. One of the best examples of religions as a source of human manipulation is Islam religions where women are forbidden to express their opinion in public without men’s allowance. This specific prohibition is done on the basis of human traditions and as a way to manipulate others. Despite the fact that it does not leave a woman speechless, it makes her remain silent in public. Muslim religion is a very complicated and multifaceted. A woman has the same right to speak in a family. Women have many rights when they are at home. Moreover, it can be said that at home is a territory of a woman and she can manipulate a husband when at home. However, different religious restrictions make people tied in their actions. Many religions have specific periods which restrict them from doing specific actions, eating particular food, etc. It is also a way of manipulating people. Having convinced others that doing some specific action is for their benefit in the name of God, people can commit different actions without understanding their real purpose. Even nowadays, people remain under the influence of religion and cannot refuse from it as they have hundreds of years of family experience and tradition.
In conclusion, religion is a complicated issue for discussion since it is impossible to define it from one specific position. The understanding of religion depends on personal vision of an issue. However, the social aspect cannot be rejected. In most cases people live under the same influence and with the same considerations as their ancestry. Religion is a very ancient issue, which was a part of human life when they could not write and read. Rewligion is an inevitable part of any human being, but each person may understand this notion from a number of perspectives. Having considered religion as a part of human deliberate choice, faith, morality, and manipulation, it is possible to conclude that each of these considerations of the notion is correct. Moreover, it is hardly possible to consider religion from each of these aspects separately. Being a spiritual notion or philosophic, touching human inner world or actions, being a way of improving the world or manipulating others, religion still remains the part of human life. Religion is considered as a net of different visions and considerations, which constitute it and cannot be separated. All the aspects discussed constitute religion in combination giving each of its components to lead in different conditions.