Religion is a social category that entails people’s relation to what they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It may also entail their ultimate concerns about death and the afterlife, or their beliefs about the nature of the universe and the human species. It is a system of values that includes rituals and other practices, and texts considered to have special scriptural status. It is often rooted in a particular culture or era, but the term can be used to describe a wider cultural milieu as well.
The concept of religion has become a broad and disputed one. Some scholars have tried to clarify its meaning by distinguishing between a set of fundamental properties that a practice must have in order to qualify as religion and a broader notion of family resemblance among practices. These more polythetic approaches may seem avant garde, but they reflect the recognition that religion is a category with a vast semantic range.
The defining property of religion, on the subjective side, is the recognition of dependence upon and a deep need for Divine help. This need engenders hope, the belief that man can bring himself into friendly and beneficent communion with the Deity or deities whom he feels he depends on for his salvation. The conception of the Deity as a morally good personality encourages this confidence. Moreover, the recognition of the unseen world stirs the imagination and invokes emotions.