Whether you believe in a Higher Power or not, religion is an important social institution. It serves as a way to unite people, help make sense of the world around them, and provides a framework for action. But some people may not be religious, while others may reject it altogether.
When a person is religious, he or she is likely to have a more elaborate understanding of spirituality, such as a belief in God, or a spiritual idea that is endowed with sacred status. A belief can have a lot of positive or negative implications for a person, such as the ability to choose the right from the wrong, or the capability to cope with illness.
The term religion is often used interchangeably with spirituality. It is a broad term that includes many aspects of life, from ethics and worldviews to organizations and designated practices. But, as with any other term, the definition is not always clear. In fact, some classic definitions are difficult to distinguish from contemporary conceptions of the concept.
The Pew Research Center has done a survey of U.S. adults in April and November 2016. The study included 1281 web-based surveys and interviewed a sample of adults over the age of 18. More than half of the respondents were religious, and most expressed a favorable opinion of their particular faith. A majority of the respondents also agreed that religion provided them with a meaningful purpose in their lives.
This survey measured the extent to which people are aware of the positive or negative influence of religion on their lives. The results show that religious groups have more ambivalent attitudes toward religion than secular groups. Specifically, religious groups are more likely to believe that religion has a positive effect on their lives, but are less likely to believe that it is a good thing for them to have a higher power. On the other hand, religiously disinclined Europeans are more likely to think that religion does more harm than good.
While there are many different forms of religion, the purpose of each of them is similar. In traditional religion, people are given a communal ground for action, and they are able to find meaning in their lives. They can be a part of a group that supports them during times of adversity, but they may be afraid to talk about the difficulties they are experiencing, or may not tell someone about their abusive husband.
While a number of countries have positive or negative views of religion, the survey shows that a substantial share of the public believes that it is a good thing to have a belief in God. Practicing Christians are more likely to have this kind of belief than nonpracticing Christian or non-believers. Moreover, the survey found that most adults in Europe who are religious or spiritual believe that their faith or spirituality can help them make sense of their lives. The survey also found that Europeans who do not have a religion are more likely to have a spiritual idea, such as a belief in a higher power.