The definition of religion is one of the questions that attract the interest of anthropologists, theologians, or social scientists. This concept can be better explained by looking at various religious systems that belong to different historical periods, cultures, and societies..In this way, one can identify their common elements. This is why this approach can be adopted. In particular, it is possible to focus on the cults developed in Ancient Rome, the form of Hinduism which is practiced in India, Seventh-day Adventists, and the Roman Catholic Church.
This examination can throw light on those properties of religion that consistently manifest themselves regardless of the specific environment. Overall, this term, religion can be described as a system of deistic beliefs and values that are expressed through specific rituals and behaviors. In this context, one should emphasize the belief in a deity and spirituality or the existence of a soul. These are the central elements that act as the basis for any religion. These are the questions that should be discussed more closely.
At first, it is important to mention the system of beliefs, especially the assumption that there is a deity or deities that affect the natural world. Moreover, they can also be regarded as creators of nature. It should be taken into account that the representatives of these religions have various conceptions of a supreme being.
For example, Seventh-day Adventists and Roman Catholics support the tradition of monotheism, according to which there is only one and omnipotent God. In turn, the practitioners of Hinduism also believe that there is a supreme being called Brahma, which incorporates time, space, or matter (Mohapatra 19). Nevertheless, the principles of Hinduism imply that the concept of God is unknowable to a person. Therefore, the deity can take various forms.
Moreover, the practitioners of this religion can accept the worship of more than one deity (Mohapatra 19). This is one of the main details that should be taken into account. Finally, one should mention that the religion cults practices in Ancient Rome accepted the notion of many gods and goddesses who can even come in conflict with one another. Despite these differences, one can say that deism is a common element of these religious cults. To a great extent, this belief lays the foundations for them.
Another detail which should be taken into account is the system of rituals. This element is believed to be central in many religions (Geertz 90). In this context, one should speak about certain actions through people who express their beliefs and values.
This is one of the elements that can be observed in the religious systems of various cultures. For instance, one can mention various Roman festivals that were dedicated to various gods and goddesses. Apart from that, Hinduism incorporates a great number of devotional hymns or the recitation of mantras.
Furthermore, Roman Catholics and Seventh-day Adventists also have an elaborate system of rituals such as baptism or baptism. On the whole, one can say that religions usually require some form of expression. This is why the role of rituals should not be overlooked by anthropologists.
Additionally, it is vital to mention the belief in the existence of the soul. Each of the religious systems discussed in this paper incorporates such an element as spirituality. For example, the representatives of Roman Catholics have a distinct conception of the afterlife during which the souls of people will be judged according to moral standards. A similar argument can be made about the representatives of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which is also based on Christian tradition.
In turn, the practitioners of Hinduism in India also recognize the existence of the soul. However, this religion incorporates the notion of reincarnation or resurrection of a human spirit (Mohapatra 19). To some degree, this process can be compared to a cycle. It is also important how this belief manifested itself in the religion of Ancient Rome.
Romans did not emphasize such a notion as spirituality. However, they did have the notion of the underworld in which the souls of people dwelt. Therefore, spirituality is a vital element of a religious system. This component is vital for understanding the nature of religious practices.
Apart from that, these religions are closely tied to the values and ethical norms that people have to follow. For instance, the supporters of Roman Catholicism and Seventh-Day Adventists have a set of moral principles that were derived from the Bible. In particular, one should pay close attention to the Ten Commandments or the principles that were expressed by Jesus Christ during his Sermon on the Mount.
In turn, Hinduism also includes the idea that a person has to attain certain goals during the lifetime. Among these goals, one can distinguish moral righteousness, material prosperity, and spiritual liberation (53). Finally, it is necessary to look at the religion of Ancient Rome. Admittedly, they did an explicit system of values and norms.
Nevertheless, the myths could promote certain values such as courage, self-sufficiency, and willingness to sacrifice one’s self-interests for others. Therefore, one can argue that the existence of a value system and norms are also important for a religious system. Certainly, these principles can be formulated in different ways, but their presence is palpable in each of these cases. This is one of the main arguments that can be put forward.
It is vital to remember that the comparison of different religious systems may not necessarily yield the definition of religion. The problem is that these systems can have significant differences. For instance, one should mention that Buddhism, which is one of the most widespread religions, does not have a clear belief in a supreme deity or deities (Faure 7).
This exception is important because it shows that the universal attributes of religion are difficult to identify. Nevertheless, the comparison of different religious cults can show how they function.
Moreover, this analysis of religion indicates that there are certain aspects of religion which exist across various cultures. These similarities are examined by many anthropologists (Hulsether, 503). Finally, this comparison shows different elements of religion interact with one another.
Overall, the examples that have been discussed can be used to describe religion. This term can be defined as a system of deistic beliefs and values which give rise to specific ritualistic practices and behavioral principles that are shared by a certain group of people.
This definition is based on the comparison of different religious systems which represent different cultures, countries, and historical periods. However, one should keep in mind that there are many definitions of religion, and they can differ dramatically from one another. This is a question that is still widely debated by many researchers.
Faure, Berndard. Unmasking Buddhism, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.
Geertz, Clifford. Religion as a cultural system, New York: Basic Books, 1973. Print.
Hulsether, Mark. “Religion and culture.” The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion. Ed. John Hinnels. New York: Routledge, 2010. 481-509. Print.
Mohapatra, Amulya. Hinduism: Analytical Study, Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1993. Print.