Monday, February 20, 2006

What is Religion?

What is Religion?

1. The word "religion" is an indefinite word with no fixed meaning.
2. It is one word with many meanings.
3. This is because religion has passed through many stages. The concept at each stage is called Religion, though the concept at one stage has not had the same meaning which it had at the preceding stage, or is likely to have at the succeeding stage.
4. The conception of religion was never fixed.
5. It has varied from time to time.
6. Because most of the phenomena such as lightning, rain, and floods, the occurrence of which the primitive man could not explain, [were not understood], any weird performance done to control the phenomenon was called magic. Religion therefore came to be identified with magic.
7. Then came the second stage in the evolution of religion. In this stage religion came to be identified with beliefs, rituals, ceremonies, prayers, and sacrifices.
8. But this conception of religion is derivative.
9. The pivotal point in religion starts with the belief that there exists some power which causes these phenomena, which primitive man did not know and could not understand. Magic lost its place at this stage.
10. This power was originally malevolent. But later it was felt that it could also be benevolent.
11. Beliefs, rites, ceremonies, and sacrifices were necessary both to propitiate a benevolent power, and also to conciliate an angry power.
12. Later that power was called God or the Creator.
13. Then came the third stage: that it is this God who created this world and also man.
14. This was followed by the belief that man has a soul, and the soul is eternal and is answerable to God for man's actions in the world.
15. This is, in short, the evolution of the concept of Religion.
16. This is what Religion has come to be and this is what it connotes--belief in God, belief in [a] soul, worship of God, curing of the erring soul, propitiating God by prayers, ceremonies, sacrifices, etc.


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