Sample Religious Studies Paper on Defining Religion

Religion is a word that exists in every part of the world. In the Western world, France, for instance, worshippers often queue to receive a wafer believed to be the body of Christ. In the Eastern world, Japan, for instance, monks often sit cross-legged and upright in silence as they communicate with supernatural beings. In both the western and eastern world, religion has a common goal of tying people back to something behind the surface of life; a greater reality that lies beyond the world that humans can perceive with their five senses. In essence, religion can be defined as a system of meaning that is embodied in a pattern of life, a community of faith, and a world view that articulates a conception of the sacred and what ultimately matters (Fisher and Rinehart 3).

The term can further be explored from a materialistic, functional, and faith perspectives. The materialistic viewpoint argues that supernatural elements are invented by humans implying that only the material world exists (Fisher and Rinehart 5). The functional perspective believes that religion does things for us including helping us to define ourselves as well as making both the world and life comprehensible to us (Fisher and Rinehart 6). The faith perspective argues that there is truly an underlying reality that cannot readily be perceived (Fisher and Rinehart 9). Perfect examples of religions are Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shinto, and Confucianism. These religions have different beliefs about the existence of humans and supernatural beings as well as life in entirety. Hinduism, for instance, revolves around prominent themes such as Dharma, Samsara, Karma, and Moksha. It is sometimes called a polytheistic religion referring to the worship of or belief in several deities. On the other hand, Buddhism is both a religion and philosophy that teaches that any individual who becomes enlightened without instruction should be referred to as a buddha (Fisher and Rinehart 137). Buddhists believe that a solution to the problem of suffering is the liberation of the practitioner from samsara.



Work Cited

Fisher, Mary Pat, and Robin Rinehart. Living Religions. Pearson, 2017.