Religion is a Latin word (religio) and can mean stiffness, rereading, reelecting and/or rewiring.
Thus, religion would be what brings us to the sacred.
From the earliest times, early humans felt the need to explain natural phenomena such as rain, wind, eclipses, etc.
Similarly, they wanted to understand events such as birth and death.
It is this need for explanation that will generate the search for a metaphysical world: beyond physics, beyond what I can see and touch.
Thus, as an inherent phenomenon in human culture, religions are configured as a set of cultural systems and beliefs.
They have Metaphysical content, in which one seeks to relate humanity to the spiritual world.
Anyway, this is a western definition. This is because there is no equivalent word in Eastern culture (in Hinduism and Buddhism, Dharma is the closest concept).
Symbols of different religions
The Greeks and Romans were the first to systematize religious reflections.
In the early centuries of Christianity, new theological reflections will emerge and develop in order to reconcile Greek philosophy with Christianity.
During the Middle Ages, Scholastic Philosophy predominated when Theocentrism will be valued. It will be during the Renaissance that this model will begin to be questioned.
It is also noteworthy that the advent of European expansion across continents led Western religion around the world.
However, it also made contact with cultures and religions very different from those known hitherto.
Nowadays, in the countries of Europe, there is a certain decline of religion, especially Christian.
On the other hand, Christianity is growing in the United States, Latin America, and Africa.
Islam expands across Southeast Asia and Europe; and Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shinto are still the majority in the Far East.
It is also important to highlight Protestantism, in its Pentecostal aspect, which has been growing in Latin America.
Finally, as a fundamental component of human culture, Religion has been the subject of countless wars.
In addition, it has structured societies and defined scientific, philosophical and artistic knowledge for many centuries.
Religions have in common some aspects such as:
- public character,
- clerical hierarchies,
- regular meetings,
- establishing boundaries between the sacred and the profane,
- the sacralization of certain places, veneration of deities,
- holy scriptures or oral tradition,
- sacrifices, parties, funeral and marriage services,
- meditation, art, religious calendars and
- a belief system in the supernatural, usually explaining the afterlife or the origin of the universe.
The word “sect” designates the minority segment in religions, while “heresy” is all content contrary to the theoretical structure of the dominant religion.
Types of Religion
- Pantheists: the most primitive religious manifestations, do not have sacred books, deify natural elements such as wind, water, fire, animals, among others.
- Polytheists: “replace” pantheists when the divine elements are personified and humanized, with an equivalence between female and male deities in worship.
- Atheists: They deny the existence of a central and supreme being (which, for them, would be the Void or a Non-Being). They do not believe in personified gods, but believe in invisible forces, as inexplicable phenomena of nature. Thus one preaches the harmonic interdependence of the universe, balanced through the Tao or found in Nirvana. Examples are Buddhism in India and China, Taoism and Confucianism.
- Monotheists: These are the most recent and popular religions (about 50% of the world’s population), have a Holy Book in which the truth of Divine Revelation is present, where sovereign divinity is established, and independent worship is eliminated. The scarcity of representations of the supreme God is curious, while the smaller entities (such as angels) are much portrayed. Another detail is that the only God (Hebrew, Christian and Islamic) are masculine and absorbed the feminine elements like goodness.
Usually people who do not have a specific religion are called “atheists”.
This would be an inaccurate definition because the word designates those who do not believe in God. So: Theos – god and “a” would be denial.
Similarly, there are those who claim to be “agnostics.” Gnosis – Knowledge. Therefore, agnosis would be the denial of knowledge. If God exists, it is unknown and indifferent.
Another strand came with Scientism, socialism and anarchism. All these movements denied the existence of God and wanted to destroy religion as an institution. Marx claims that religion is the “opium of the people” in the sense that it left him numb and without initiative to fight social injustices.