Religion is a cultural system of behaviors, practices and ethics that involves beliefs, worldviews, texts, prophecies, revelations and morals that have spiritual meaning to members of a particular religion. Some examples of religions include Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism.
A common definition of religion is the belief in a personal god, gods or supernatural forces. This is often based on a story about the creation of the universe and an explanation for the purpose of life.
Another popular definition is that of a social genus, referring to sets of behaviors and practices that are widespread in a specific human culture or community. The most common paradigmatic examples of this kind are Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
One of the more interesting approaches to this concept is that which considers religion as a taxon for a set of social practices rather than as a category of ideas, whose members are treated as the phenomenological tokens of a social reality. The social genus of religion has been variously defined by Durkheim (1912), Tillich (1957), and other scholars in the twentieth century, but each of these versions takes the function of religion to be a distinct aspect of it: for example, as a social genus, generating social cohesion; or as a form of orientation that provides guidance and direction in life.
Despite the many objections to this approach, it has been used by a number of sociologists to describe a variety of social systems in different eras and cultures. As all social systems, religion tends to change a lot over time as populations grow and as social structures and practices are developed. In this sense, it is a highly adaptive institution that responds to changes in population size and the reality of people’s lives on the ground.