Religion and spirituality are the subject of numerous studies. Some of these studies define religion as a collection of beliefs and practices, while others define spirituality as a solitary experience of the divine. However, the term “religion” is misleading when used interchangeably with the word “spirituality.”
The “religious” or “spiritual” designations are not mutually exclusive. Many people have both. And in some countries, religious and non-religious people have a lot in common.
In Europe, there is a wide range of views on religion. For instance, in Finland, there are a large number of adults who believe that they have a soul. There are also a substantial number of adults who believe in the concept of reincarnation. But there are also a significant number of adults who have negative attitudes toward religion.
As with other social institutions, religion can provide ground for action. It can also serve as a social support system. Usually, the purpose of religion is to provide moral guidance and help people to develop character. Religious practices can also be endowed with sacred status.
In some countries, such as France, Germany, Italy and Portugal, people hold positive views of religion. For instance, in Italy, the average adult has a positive view of religion, while in Portugal, the same is true for nearly one in four respondents. Meanwhile, in Austria, the average person has a more neutral view of religion.
For many people, religion has a pronounced influence on their lives. Whether they are religious or not, it helps to give them a sense of purpose. A number of surveys show that respondents who are religious find religion to be a source of meaning and a good way to live their lives.
On the other hand, some people prefer spirituality to religion. They see Christianity as a religious system, but are not particularly enthralled with the beliefs of the church. These people often see Jesus as a loving and accepting figure.
On the other hand, there are a large number of adults in many countries who are not religious. This includes members of secular groups such as those who believe in astrology or who are not religious at all. Those who identify as neither religious nor spiritual are less likely to say they have a soul, are more likely to agree that there are no spiritual forces in the universe, and are more likely to disagree with those who describe their faith as religious.
However, there is still a great deal of research that needs to be done on the intersection of beliefs and practices in the sociocultural context. Currently, the majority of study has focused on Judeo-Christian traditions, but more research is needed to look at other faith traditions and to investigate how individuals in other regions of the world view spirituality.
In addition, some of these studies have not explored the connections between belief and practice. So, what makes one type of belief more “religious” than another?