Religion is an umbrella term for belief systems that have had a significant impact on human history. The most well-known examples include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. However, religion also encompasses the practices of many other groups of people, including a number of indigenous traditions.
A major goal of most religious beliefs is to teach followers moral behavior, which can help them be good citizens and contribute to a peaceful world. Some religions also provide a sense of community and a framework for social support. Many religions have founded educational institutions, hospitals, and charities, and have provided a source of strength for the members of the group.
There are also more scientific approaches to religion. Psychologists, who study the human mind, believe that religion can satisfy emotional and psychological needs in humans, such as a fear of death or a desire for a spiritual experience. Neuroscientists have found that there are circuits in the brain that are wired for intense religious experiences.
Sociologists have also studied the role of religion in society. Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist who died in 1917, argued that religion helped to create and sustain families. In addition, he believed that special deities could serve as guards and protectors and help to manage life’s risks. Other sociologists, like Max Weber, have also emphasized the important role that religions play in shaping society.