Religion is an important part of the life of a person, both individually and in society. It provides a sense of meaning, stability, and control in people’s lives. It also has the potential to influence their political beliefs and decisions.
Although this term was first used in Western antiquity to describe the belief in one or more gods, it has been extended to include a diverse range of practices that people practice in order to achieve spiritual goals. These include religious rituals, ceremonies, and observance of particular religious beliefs.
This semantic range of the term has grown significantly over time, especially in Western countries and among non-Western societies. In addition, the meaning of religion has been extended to include many aspects of social and cultural life that are not primarily concerned with religious beliefs.
Historically, the word religio was adapted from the Latin term “religio”, which means scrupulousness and conscientiousness and often corresponded to a feeling of obligation, since people acted with a sense of taboo or promise.
The meaning of religion was expanded further in the 19th century to refer to a set of symbols and acts that relate man to his ultimate existence (R.N. Bellah).
Another explication of the nature of religion was provided by Karl Otto in his essay “The Experience of the Holy” (1845), where he argued that man is made intuitively aware of the transcendent reality to which terms such as immortality, freedom, or the absolute refer through his experiences of their opposites on earth.
For Otto, the essence of religion was the experience of these terms as being “holy”.
However, this argument has been criticized by some scholars who point out that the idea of the sacred and the profane is a highly subjective category and that it is therefore not a universal concept. In fact, it is a highly personal one, and the same can be said of the concept of God itself.
A number of philosophers, including Edmund Husserl and Friedrich Nietzsche, have argued that the definition of religion should not be based on a single a priori selection of data, but instead should be grounded in a series of historical investigations. In the course of these studies, it is possible to develop an adequate conception of religion that is both concrete and specific to the history of a culture or society.
This type of research has been referred to as symbolic interactionist. Such research aims to uncover the symbolic meanings that are conveyed through the actions of people who practice various types of religion. The methods of these investigations have been developed through the use of anthropological and ethnographic techniques.
Symbolic Interactionist Methodologies
The most common form of empirical research is to employ an observational and ethnographic approach to investigate religious phenomena. This is a method that tries to understand how people understand and value the world around them, including how they perceive other people, other forms of social life, and the nature of reality itself.