Religion is a very difficult concept to define. Just about everyone has their own interpretation of what they believe religion is. You can look in the dictionary to find a simple definition, but that might be sufficient only for everyday conversations. For one to be able to talk about religion in depth, a more sufficient definition should be discussed. Everyone has their own way to describe religion, varying as widely as the human imagination does. .
The etymology of the word religion comes from the Latin word "religio" which means "to bind". The definition in the Oxford Dictionary seems to be doubtful that this is the root of the word, and suggests that perhaps the words means "to reread." This suggests that the word itself is a matter of debate. .
Attempts to describe religion usually suffer from one or two problems. On one hand, religion can be described too narrowly, excluding many beliefs people think religion is. On the other hand, religion can be described too vaguely, leading one to believe that anything can be a religion. .
Such problems can be fatal. If religion is described too narrowly, students of religion will miss many facets of what a religion is, and the various types of religious experiences, etc. A good example of this is defining religion as "the belief in God" which excludes polytheistic religions such as the ancient Greek religious belief system. If the definition is too broad, it would be difficult for one to focus on the important things when it comes to religion, such as "concern for the sacred" but raises more important questions such as "what is sacred?" Now I will look at several definitions of religion and discuss how they are helpful definitions, or how they are unhelpful.
The Oxford English Dictionary: .
Action or conduct indicating a belief in, reverence for, and desire to please a divine ruling power; the exercise or practice of rites or observances implying this.