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Use Your Own Definition Of 'religion' And Compare Its Strengths And Weaknesses

1288 words - 5 pages

To attempt one's own definition of religion, I feel one must first explore its origins, characteristics, function and practices, including the etymology of the word.The etymology of the word "religion" has been under scrutiny for many years. The word is believed, by some, to have come from the Latin religio, meaning "reverence (for the gods)" or "conscientiousness" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion). Others believe that it comes from Latin word religare, which means "to tie, to bind." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Religion) Both meanings show the power that the word religion could have on individuals and communities.Since the beginning of recordable time the human race has sought some form of solace from a belief in something or someone, their feelings and thoughts were shown by their actions. These actions could be categorised as a form of 'worship' meaning to 'pay reverent honour and homage to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred'. (http://dictionary.reference.com).Even before the written record, it appears that people worshiped natural elements such as the sun, wind, moon and sea regarding them as sacred. Evidence of this is in the form of the stone monoliths, such as Stonehenge. This form of 'religion' could be defined as both substantive and functional, as its followers have common beliefs where they follow rituals, these beliefs and rituals allow the community to bond, and to have feelings of peace and comfort.As the human race evolved people began to worship images of God's rather than the natural elements of the earth. The ancient Greeks worshiped many God's, these were functional God's who would assist the Greeks with their wants and desires, a God for war, love, and various others to aid them with everyday life. Many communities today still worship more than one deity/image of God, for example Hinduism, although this particular belief recognizes the one deity, it views other Gods and Goddesses as parts/aspects of that supreme God.Some Hindus believe that Hinduism is a 'way of life' (Block 4, pg.76) Many Muslims, the followers of Islam, also feel this way and prefer 'the Arabic din', meaning 'a way of life' to the label religion (Block 4, pg.77). This is very similar to the beliefs of the Native Americans, who believe that their spiritual beliefs are a necessary part of their being and cannot be separated from their every day life. Making these 'religions,' functional, assisting the follower in their daily life.Most religions have avid followers who have a desire to gain something from believing, the evidence for this comes from prayer. When followers pray they usually ask for something in return, whether it exists in the form of material things, a good harvest, a cure from sickness or even for salvation from suffering in the after life.When attempting a definition of something people often use the dictionary, on page 34 of Block 4, The Concise Oxford Dictionary summaries that religion...

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