In some contexts, the term “religion” emphasizes the practice of particular rituals, prayers, behaviors, or confessions of doctrinal belief. This focus on actions and attitudes is an important aspect of how religion is defined in contemporary society.
Religion is a phenomenon that arises out of a human need for value and meaning. It provides people with a foundation for a moral order and, in past times, has provided answers to many questions of great importance.
There are many sources of value for humans, but religion is the most intensive and comprehensive source of such valuation. It is a way in which human beings are willing to live according to and at times even die for what they most value.
The problem of good and evil has been a persistent theme in religious thought. All human action involves some standard, whether implicit or explicit, of what is good and evil.
These judgments have been formulated by religious people, but they are also necessary for other individuals and groups who do not share the beliefs of those who hold a faith. Moreover, they serve to orient the individual toward the world and provide a basis for morality in the face of ambiguous or uncertain circumstances.
A debate about religion cuts across disciplinary lines, among them anthropology, history, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, sociology, and most recently, cognitive science. It is important for scholars to take a balanced, multidisciplinary approach to the concept of religion as it shapes research.