What is religion and beliefs?
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are aimed at ennobling the life of a person, lifting him from the sphere of simple physical existence and leading him to freedom.
Belief is that state of mind where we believe something is true, even if we’re not 100% sure we can prove it. Every person has beliefs about life and the world in which he lives. Beliefs that mutually support each other are a belief system that can be religious, philosophical, or ideological.
Religions are belief systems that connect humanity with spirituality. The following definition from Wikipedia gives a good overview of the many dimensions of religion:
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems and worldviews that connect humanity with spirituality and sometimes with moral values. Many religions have oral traditions, symbols, traditions, and sacred texts that are meant to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. As a rule, morality, ethics, religious laws or preferred lifestyles are based on the ideas contained in religions about the cosmos and human nature. […] Many religions contain a certain code of conduct, the presence of clergy, as well as the definition of the content of participation or membership in a religious community, the life of parishioners; regular gatherings or services for the purpose of worshiping a deity or for prayer, sacred places (either natural or architectural) and/or sacred texts are envisaged. Religious practice may also include preaching, glorifying the deeds of God or gods, sacrifices, festivals, holidays, trance states, initiations, funeral services, marriage services, meditation, music, art, dance, public services, and other forms of human culture. However, there are examples of such religions that lack some or many of these aspects of structure, belief or practice.
Belief in the spiritual dimension of life has existed since time immemorial. Many human societies have left us evidence of their belief system, whether it be the worship of the sun, gods and goddesses, the knowledge of good and evil, or the concept of the sacred. Stonehenge, Buddhas of Bamiyan, Almuden Cathedral in Madrid, Uluru in Alice Springs, Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Fujiyama, the sacred mountain of Japan, the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia or the Golden Temple in Amritsar – they all embody the human experience of spirituality, reflect both objective reality and and the result of a person’s desire to explain the meaning of life and our role in the world.
In its simplest sense, religion describes “man’s relation to what he considers sacred, holy, spiritual or divine”2. This is usually accompanied by a specific set of organized practices that bring together communities of people who share such a belief. As stated above, beliefs is a broader term that also includes “views that deny dimensions of existence beyond this world.
Religions and other forms of belief in our environment influence our identity, whether we consider ourselves religious or spiritual or not. At the same time, other aspects of our identity, our history, our approach to other religions and groups that are seen as “other” will influence how we ourselves interpret that religion or belief system.
What religions exist in your country?
Religions and related social and cultural structures have played an important role in human history. Like mental structures, they influence how we perceive the world around us and the values we accept or reject. As social structures they create a network of interaction and a sense of belonging. In many cases, religions became the basis of the system of power and intertwined with it. History, both ancient and recent, is filled with examples of “theocratic” states – Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and others. The separation between state and religion is a recent phenomenon and does not exist everywhere: in Europe there are countries with official state religions and de facto state religions. In most cases, this does not pose much of a problem, as long as it is balanced by the values of tolerance.