Religion has always been a big part of what makes humanity what it is. Even since early times man has had some form of a greater being to look toward for answers. Within different cultures since the start of civilized man, historians have found types of deities in the majority studied. There are many issues that must be taken into account in order to answer what the definition of religion is. First I must decided how others have taken into account when defining religion. After that, then I can decide what my definition of religion is.
What have other taken into ac count while defining religion? In the book Religious Crossroads, Radolslav Tsanoff takes into account the beliefs, "practices, mystical feelings, worship of the holy, and conviction of the conservation of values." In taking the mystical feelings and the conviction of the conservation of values into account, it is best to look at the people who profess a specific religion and watch there every day life activities. If how they make decisions every day is threw the teachings of that specific religion then that is there pivotal value. Pivotal value is what a person centers their life around and how they make decisions. This is how the book defines religion, "as any person's reliance upon a pivotal value in which that person finds essential wholeness as an individual." One other definition that the book brings to attention, which I believe to be a broad sense of religion, is a definition by Clifford Geertz. In his definition there are two parts, (1) it must show threw understood symbols and explanation of reality, and (2) contain a set of strict laws that can only be followed be rigorous devotion. While all theses aspects are good to look at to decide on a definition for religion they are very vague.
There are some specifics that most major religions have in common. The major religions all have creeds, codes, ritual practices, and community. In creeds there are unspoken creeds like stories of heritage and belief but often there is a written creed. An example of a common creed for me is the Apostles Creed, which states what that religion believes to be true and what the religion puts faith in. To define a religion I also have to look and the codes of the religion. How do to followers of that religion act or at least how are they suppose to act is a very important part of any religion. In the aspect of there ritual practices or how they "worship" it is part of a religion to do this in some pattern. A big party of a religion is also the community in which one belongs. A religion needs to be a place of belonging and comfort. All these are not only a part of major religions but also an aspect to look at to define what a religion actually is and how it should function.
I think theses are all good aspects of a religion and I believe that this must be in every religion. Community is a big part of a religion to me. Some where to go when things are tough and are stressful. The religious community that someone is a part of should fulfill a need of humanity, the need of being needed. Another aspect that should be covered to define a religion is if it is established. What I mean by established is that is has a strict set of rules and laws. This also goes back to the creed but also not just a statement of beliefs but a set of why those are the beliefs that are followed. One more thing to look at is if it has some form of after life or life after death. A religion should also explain things that make reality clear and understandable.