What Was The Original Form Of Human Spirituality? (TOP 5 Tips)

Our results reflect Tylor’s (1871) belief that animism was the earliest and most basic trait of religion because it enables humans to think in terms of supernatural beings or spirits.

What is the origin of spirituality?

  • Words translatable as “spirituality” first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages. [need quotation to verify] In a Biblical context the term means being animated by God. The New Testament offers the concept of being driven by the Holy Spirit,

What is the oldest form of spirituality?

The Vedic Age began in India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation. The reign of Akhenaten, sometimes credited with starting the earliest known recorded monotheistic religion, in Ancient Egypt.

What is the origin of spirituality?

The word spirituality comes from the Latin “spiritus” which literally means “breath”, signifying Life. It then follows that if we have this amazing gift of Life, then we all have a way that it is being manifested in and through us. So, the simplest definition of spirituality is: ”Spirituality is one’s Way of Life”.

What was the first spiritual belief?

Hinduism (founded around the 15th – 5th century BCE) The first and foremost of these is a belief in the Vedas – four texts compiled between the 15th and 5th centuries BCE on the Indian subcontinent, and the faith’s oldest scriptures – which make Hinduism without doubt the oldest religion in existence.

Who started spiritual?

Some spiritualists will speak of a concept which they refer to as “spirit guides”—specific spirits, often contacted, who are relied upon for spiritual guidance. Emanuel Swedenborg has some claim to be the father of Spiritualism.

Who is the oldest known God?

In ancient Egyptian Atenism, possibly the earliest recorded monotheistic religion, this deity was called Aten and proclaimed to be the one “true” Supreme Being and creator of the universe.

When did humans start believing in God?

Prehistoric evidence of religion. The exact time when humans first became religious remains unknown, however research in evolutionary archaeology shows credible evidence of religious-cum-ritualistic behavior from around the Middle Paleolithic era ( 45-200 thousand years ago ).

What is human spirituality?

Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than myself, something more to being human than sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or divine in nature. An opening of the heart is an essential aspect of true spirituality.

When was spirituality founded?

Words translatable as “spirituality” first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages. In a Biblical context the term means being animated by God.

What are the 3 elements of spirituality?

The shamans, healers, sages, and wisdom keepers of all times, all continents, and all peoples, in their ageless wisdom, say that human spirituality is composed of three aspects: relationships, values, and life purpose.

What is the oldest religion in order?

The word Hindu is an exonym, and while Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, many practitioners refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma (Sanskrit: सनातन धर्म, lit. ”the Eternal Dharma”), which refers to the idea that its origins lie beyond human history, as revealed in the Hindu texts.

Is paganism the oldest religion?

While most of the rites and practices of Pagan belief systems died out centuries ago, some modern spiritual seekers have recovered those ancient wisdom traditions and now proudly identify as Pagan.

Is religion the same as spirituality?

What’s the difference between religion and spirituality? Religion: This is a specific set of organised beliefs and practices, usually shared by a community or group. Spirituality: This is more of an individual practice, and has to do with having a sense of peace and purpose.

Is spirituality the same as Christianity?

Christianity is a specific type of Religion that has a specific doctrine that it teaches to its followers. Mainly that Jesus died on the cross and that he is the Son Of God and is God. Spirituality is a broad term that basically means you believe in something other than what you can touch, see and hear.

A Brief History of Spirituality

Fasten your seat belts, because we’re about to go on a very quick tour of human spirituality, which will take place in only a few paragraphs. Experts in anthropology and archeology currently think that modern humans first appeared around a quarter-million years ago, during the Paleolithic Age, and that they quickly began to understand their spiritual reality. RELATED: What is the distinction between the mind, the spirit, and the soul? What makes them think they’re right? Cave paintings are a type of art form.

No of if the paintings of hunters chasing animals were intended to cast a spell over their prey or to recognize the spirits of both the animals and the hunters, cave painters weren’t just creating art to pass the time; they were creating art with a specific spiritual aim.

During the period when people moved out of caves and developed into small-scale tribal groups, the local spirits that they had initially adored in their tales and worship became considerably more powerful and recognizable than they had been previously.

Respect, terror, and obedience were instilled in the minds of the predominantly illiterate and unlettered public by gods like as Zeus, Odin, Maat, and others.

Some monarchs and emperors went so far as to identify themselves as gods or delegates of gods, so claiming unlimited control over the people under their dominion.

The belief in numerous gods and goddesses as a pantheon—a fractious family of deities—was common in ancient times, and these beliefs became the source of long-lived oral and literary traditions, which were intended to teach adults and children about right and wrong, truth and justice, moral behavior, and the fate of the soul, among other things.

  1. Prophets in the East and the Middle East taught belief systems that were centered on a single, Supreme Being with global creative power, rather than on a plurality of lesser beings.
  2. Similarly to their religion, their messages spread around the world, and a few of them eventually evolved into really worldwide religious systems.
  3. However, because they all arose when the vast majority of the world’s population remained illiterate, their clergy were able to maintain control over knowledge and information.
  4. As a result, there were inevitable disagreements and power struggles, which resulted in a split.
  5. As a result, whenever this happened, people made an effort to find their way back to the core message of Christ, Moses, or Muhammad, in order to rediscover the spiritual principles that had originally inspired their religion.
  6. IN CONNECTION WITH: What Does It Mean to Be “Religious?” Throughout it all, the majority of us strived to gain a better understanding of our own souls utilizing the resources available to us.
  7. We attempted to reconcile ourselves with our inner selves.
  8. We couldn’t help ourselves.
  9. We’ve all heard the expression “I’m spiritual, but not religious” a few hundred times before: “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” Nevertheless, what does it truly mean?

In general, people who use the SBNR phrase to describe themselves are those who reject religious rituals and tethered beliefs, decry the disunity and division in traditional religion, and reject the old definitions and prejudices that divide people—and religions from each other, according to the SBNR definition.

Hmmm—exactly that’s what Baha’is do.

As a Baha’i, I believe that the Prophets’ essential beliefs are right and truthful.

After stripping away the extraneous elements of the teachings of all the Prophets and cleansing religion from human interpretation, Baha’u’llah has revoiced and reinstated the substance of their messages.

For as long as religions have existed, their essential reality has been one, and their apparent variance and plurality has been caused by adherence to forms and imitations that have developed, it is clear that these causes of difference and divergence must be abandoned in order for the underlying reality to unite mankind in its enlightenment and upbuilding.

  1. It will be at that point that religions will call people’s attention to the oneness of the globe of mankind and to worldwide justice; it will be at that point that they will declare equal rights and urge men to virtue and confidence in God’s loving kindness.
  2. If the basic and fundamental ordinances of the faiths are adhered to, peace and unity would reign supreme, and all distinctions between sects and denominations will be erased from the face of the earth.
  3. The Baha’is acknowledge the oneness of all major religions.
  4. Baha’is are compassionate toward others and strive to avoid prejudice, bigotry, and hate in all forms.
  5. Baha’is pray and meditate privately, and publicly mix, consort and socialize with people of all Faiths and no faith.

Baha’is work to bring about the oneness of humanity and the unity of the planet. Baha’is revere nature and believe in the spiritual stewardship of our common home. Baha’is, in other words, approach life with intense spirituality, while maintaining a global religious community that welcomes everyone.

The Origins of Religion: How Supernatural Beliefs Evolved

The image is courtesy of Sergey Nivens through Shutterstock.com. Numerous Catholics took pleasure in the pope’s brief visit to the East Coast of the United States, which took place earlier this month. Nonreligious Americans, on the other hand, may be left scratching their heads, wondering what all the hoopla was about when the religious return to their daily lives. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Centers, the great majority of the population of the United States does not belong to the Catholic Church, and an increasing number of Americans do not adhere to any organized religion at all, according to the report.

  1. That question may be answered by a group of people who are not often linked with religion: scientists, which may seem strange at first glance.
  2. The so-called ‘divine faculty’ There are many different views on how religious thought came to be.
  3. “Early humans interacted with their natural environment,” she said.
  4. A group of antelopes is passing by on the Serengeti plains, and you’re hanging about, waiting for one to come by so you may kill it for food.
  5. What are you going to do?
  6. “It would be best not to sit about and think on the Serengeti grasslands,” says the author.
  7. Henson.
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When humans noticed a rustle in the grass, their awareness of how the world functioned made it easier for them to make quick decisions about what they should do.

Additionally, people began giving agency to objects that didn’t actually have it at all.

“You could be under the impression that raindrops aren’t agents,” Clark explained.

They simply plummet to the ground.

Humans, on the other hand, have come to believe that clouds are active actors.

It was only afterwards that humans elevated the situation to a completely other level.

For example, they believed raindrops were “operating in a specific manner,” according to Clark.

People who believe that other entities have agency, such as other people, cease merely responding to the environment around them and start predicting what other beings’ actions could be and preparing their own actions in response.

This is what Theory of Head is all about: being able to sort of enter inside the mind of another intentional being through observation.

As a result, they were better able to distinguish between good and bad intents in other individuals (for example, “Does that person want to mate with me or murder me and take my food?”), enhancing their own chances of survival.

In the words of Allen Kerkeslager, associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, “the rumbling threat of a thunderstorm or the devastation of a flood is widely perceived across cultures as the product of a dangerous personal agent in the sky or river, respectively.” According to Kerkeslager in an email to Live Science, “the motions of the sun, moon, and stars are often described as the movements of human agents with exceptional capabilities.” According to many cognitive psychologists, this inclination to explain the natural world through the existence of entities with supernatural powers—things like gods, ancestral spirits, goblins, and fairies—formed the basis for religious beliefs.

According to Clark, some scientists refer to HADD and ToM as the “god faculty” because of their collective influence.

According to Clark, “we now understand more clearly that the things we initially suspected were spies were not spies.” “Some of these ideas can be dispelled via education, but certain cognitive faculties cannot be dispelled through education.” The hyperactive agency-detection device is present in all of us.

  • Rather than a natural phenomenon, some scientists believe religion is more of an adaptation — a feature that has survived because the people who possessed it were better able to survive and pass on their genes to their descendants.
  • He received his Ph.D.
  • “Group-level adaptation,” according to Dunbar, may have resulted in the development of religion.
  • : Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks” that religion is a “sort of glue that ties society together” (Harvard University Press, 2010).
  • He pointed out that primates like to live in groups since doing so provides them with a number of advantages.
  • However, there are certain disadvantages to living in groups.
  • These individuals are referred to as “freeriders” by Dunbar.
  • Individuals will leave in order to be in smaller groups that incur fewer costs, if there is insufficient benefit to outweigh the costs.

Humans’ proclivity to attribute intention to nearly everything (e.g., volcanic eruptions, lunar eclipses, thunderstorms) isn’t necessarily the reason for the development of religion, but it does help to explain why religions typically include supernatural elements that describe phenomena such as these.

Follow Live Science on Twitter (@livescience), Facebook, and Google+.

Elizabeth works as an associate editor at Live Science, where she writes on science and technology.

She earned a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. After studying political systems and indigenous cultures while traveling around the Americas and teaching English to kids of all ages, Elizabeth decided to pursue a career in teaching.


(Photo courtesy of Sergey Nivens | Shutterstock.com.) Many Catholics took pleasure in the pope’s brief visit to the East Coast of the United States earlier this month, which was hailed as a triumph. Nonreligious Americans, on the other hand, may find themselves scratching their heads, wondering what all the hoopla was about when the religious return to their daily lives. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Centers, the great majority of the population of the United States does not belong to the Catholic Church, and an increasing number of Americans do not adhere to any organized religion at all.

  • Oddly enough, a group of people who are not often linked with religion may provide an answer to that question: scientists.
  • This is referred to as the “god faculty.” As to how religious thinking came to be, there are several theories.
  • As an illustration, consider the following situation: In the distant past, you were a human creature who lived thousands of years ago.
  • It’s a beautiful day.
  • What are you going to do?

“It would be best not to sit about and think about things on the Serengeti grasslands.” According to Clark, of Live Science, “those who took their time were chosen out.” Individuals humans who were able to procreate were those who had evolved what evolutionary biologists refer to as a hypersensitive agency-detecting device, or HADD, according to him.

  • When humans noticed a rustle in the grass, their awareness of how the world operated made it easier for them to make quick decisions about what they should do next.
  • You should get moving.) Although HADD may have contributed to logical decision-making, it is possible that it has also sowed the seeds of religious belief.
  • For example, lions were given the ability to act independently of their surroundings.
  • They simply plummet to the ground.
  • The human race, on the other hand, has come to believe that clouds are intelligent entities.
  • Things that weren’t truly operating on their own began to acquire significance as a result of these people’s interpretations.
  • People who believe that other creatures have agency, such as other people, cease just responding to the world around them and start predicting what other beings’ behaviors could be and arranging their own actions accordingly.

Early humans found ToM to be quite beneficial.

ToM, on the other hand, took a turn toward the supernatural when people began to attribute meaning to the activities of nonactors such as rainfall.

As many cognitive scientists have pointed out, this inclination to explain the natural world via the existence of entities with supernatural powers—things such as God and ancestral spirits, goblins, and fairies—served as the foundation for religious belief.

According to him, humans have not progressed beyond this mode of thinking and decision-making in the past.

“Each of us has a mental model of himself or herself.

Although many believe that religious thought is a consequence of evolution — in other words, something that developed as a result of nonreligious, cognitive faculties — not everyone holds to this view.

It has survived because the individuals who practiced it were better able to survive and pass on their genes than those who did not.

Robin Dunbar’s work has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

” Dunbar said in “How Many Friends Does One Person Need?

According to Dunbar, religion may have been originated by humans as a means of promoting collaboration among members of social communities.

Hunters that hunt together are more successful than those who hunt alone.

Individuals take advantage of the system, to put it bluntly.

According to Dunbar, who wrote in a New Scientist article titled “The Origin of Religion as a Small-Scale Phenomenon,” “Freeriding is disruptive because it shifts the costs of the social contract to some persons while others get away with paying substantially less,” Because of this, individuals who have been exploited are less likely to support the social compact.

“However, if the group can figure out a way to get everyone to behave in an unselfish way, individual members of the group will be less likely to storm out, and the group will be more likely to remain cohesive.” The necessity to keep everyone on the same page, according to Dunbar, may have organically resulted in the birth of religion.

Twitter user @techEpalermo is a good place to follow Elizabeth Palermo’s posts.

Live Science published the original article.

She earned a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University in Washington, D. C. After researching political systems and indigenous cultures while traveling around the Americas and teaching English to kids of all ages, Elizabeth decided to pursue a career in education.

How Religion Can Improve Health

Yui Yu Hoi / courtesy of Getty Images

What Is Religion?

As defined by the United Nations (UN), religion is a collection of structured ideas, practices, and systems that are most typically associated with the belief in and worship of a dominating power such as a personal god or another supernatural being. While this is a fundamental description, there are many other interpretations of what religion is, and not all faiths are focused on a belief in a deity or gods, or in supernatural powers, as this definition implies. A religion’s cultural beliefs, worldviews, texts, prophecies, revelations, and morals that have spiritual significance to members of a particular faith are common, and it can encompass a wide range of practices such as sermons, rituals (including prayer and meditation), holy places (including shrines), symbols (such as trances), and feasts (such as Thanksgiving and Christmas).

Modern psychology, on the other hand, believes that religion may play an essential part in an individual’s life and experiences, and that it can even improve one’s health and well-being when practiced properly.

According to a Pew Research Center estimate, 84 percent of the world’s population is affiliated with a religious organization of some kind.

Types of Religion

In terms of religions, there are many diverse varieties, including both the main world religious traditions that are generally recognized and far less well-known belief systems that are practiced by smaller groups of people. Monotheism, or the belief in a single God, is represented by some of these images, and polytheism, or the belief in several gods, is represented by others. Some of the different forms of religions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Religions of the world include Baha’i
  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Confucianism
  • Hinduism
  • Indigenous religions of America
  • Islam
  • Jainism
  • Judaism
  • Rastafarianism
  • Shintoism
  • Sikhism
  • Taoism
  • Traditional African religions
  • Zoroastrianism
  • And others.
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Animism is the belief in divine non-human entities that is related to religion, whereas totemism is the belief in a divine link between people and the natural world that is related to religion. At the other end of the religious spectrum are atheism and agnosticism, both of which hold that the existence of a god or gods is unknown or unknowable. Atheism is defined as a belief in no god or gods, while agnosticism is defined as a belief that the existence of a god or gods is unknown or unknowable.

Purpose of Religion

Religion may be used for a variety of different purposes. Religion may provide consolation and guidance to those who seek it. It has the potential to serve as a foundation for moral ideas and actions. It can also foster a sense of belonging and a sense of connection to one’s heritage. In fact, some study shows that it may have a negative impact on one’s health. The relationship between religion and health and life expectancy has long been a difficult subject of investigation. It appears (to some) that religious people—defined here as those who attend religious services on a regular basis—are in better health than those who do not attend religious services.

This research, on the other hand, is difficult to do because of a number of elements that are difficult to control, such as:

  • There are several goals that religion may fulfill. When it comes to comfort and advice, religion may be a great source. It has the potential to serve as a foundation for moral ideas and conduct. The ability to connect with others and feel a feeling of belonging can also be beneficial. In fact, some studies indicates that it may have a negative impact on one’s health. Religious beliefs and practices have long been a difficult area of investigation in the field of health and life expectancy. It appears (to some) that religious persons—defined here as those who regularly attend religious services—are in better health than those who do not attend religious services. In response, a line of study has been initiated into the influence of religion on health in order to identify whether religion has any positive impact on life expectancy and, if so, what that benefit may be. Although this study is challenging, it is necessary because of a number of aspects that are impossible to control, such as those listed below.

When researchers examine the impact of religion on health, they must take into account all of these elements, as well as the potential that religion itself has an impact on health.

Impact of Religion

It is possible for religion to foster a sense of belonging, to provide support, and to provide guidance. It has also been demonstrated to have an effect on both physical and mental health.

Religion and Physical Health

Comparing individuals who were religious or spiritual with those who were not revealed that they had a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), lower blood pressure (BP), greater immunological function, and longer lives when compared with those who were religious or spiritual. People who were religious were also less likely to smoke, according to these research, putting them at a decreased risk for smoking-related ailments such as all malignancies, cardiovascular disease, and lung disease.

Religion and Mental Health

Religion may have an impact on one’s mental health, both positively and negatively, in a variety of ways. When individuals are stressed, religion may be a source of comfort and support. This relationship may also be less beneficial—or even harmful—at other times, if it causes stress or acts as a barrier to therapy. According to some research, religion has the capacity to both benefit and hinder one’s mental health and well-being. On the plus side, religion and spirituality may aid in the promotion of positive beliefs, the development of community support, and the development of constructive coping skills.

Key Mental Health Benefits

The following are some of the mental health advantages of religion:

  • Providing individuals with structure
  • Creating a sense of belonging with a group
  • Creating a sense of belonging is important. assisting people in coping with tough situations
  • It has the potential to inspire forgiveness, compassion, and appreciation.

The importance of religion in assisting persons with mental health disorders is also worth mentioning. People frequently turn to their religious beliefs in order to cope with the symptoms of mental illness and to assist them in managing their stress levels. Also according to the findings of research, religious persons are more likely than non-religious people to seek treatment for mental health disorders from religious clergy. Those who believe in God and wish to include their religious and spiritual views into their therapy may find that religious and pastoral counseling may be a valuable resource.

Counseling in the form of pastoral care is delivered by religious clergy who have received psychological training in order to provide therapy services.


If you are interested in learning more about some of the possible advantages of religion or spiritual traditions, the following information may be of assistance:

  • Find a group of people with whom you can connect. The importance of social support in one’s well-being means that experiencing a sense of connection with others who share your religious beliefs may be good. Examine some of the practices that religions frequently employ. Several health advantages of meditation and mindfulness have been demonstrated
  • Among them are: Look for things that motivate and encourage you. Finding things that offer you a sense of serenity and inspiration, whether it is by reading inspiring literature, listening to beautiful music, or spending time in nature, may help enhance your mental clarity and well-being.

The remark is accurate: those who frequently attend religious services tend to have longer lives and are more likely to have better mental health than those who do not. Why is such a difficult question to answer? Simply put, people who attend religious services have more social and financial resources than those who do not. Alternatively, something about attending religious services (such as making connections with others, praying, or engaging in spiritual reflection) may be beneficial in terms of living longer and feeling better.

Potential Pitfalls

The fact that these studies are observational in nature (researchers simply observe what happens in the real world without actively controlling any of the conditions or randomly assigning the participants) means that it is impossible to say with certainty whether religious attendance increases life expectancy or does not. We can only infer that there is a link between religious attendance and a longer life expectancy in our population. We believe they are connected, but we are unable to determine why.

As a matter of fact, additional research has revealed that those who frequently attend religious services:

  • May have a higher chance of finding job
  • Tend to have more extensive social networks
  • Attempt to be more optimistic
  • Are more likely to live in intact families than other groups. Possess a lower likelihood of suffering from a debilitating disease

Any of these factors might be responsible for the disparity in life expectancy seen in these studies, or a combination of them. However, according to another study, religious participation alone should not always lead to an improvement in physical and mental well-being. People who have similar religious views are more likely to have similar ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds than they are to hold divergent religious ideas. Furthermore, research reveals that religion can sometimes act as a deterrent to receiving mental health therapy.

The belief that problems are caused by moral or spiritual flaws rather than by mental health difficulties is instilled in some religious systems.

5 facts about evolution and religion

“>Does trust in God and belief in evolution have to be at conflict with one another? The answer, according to Pope Francis, is no. According to recent developments, the Roman Catholic Church’s position that “evolution in nature is not incongruous” with church teaching on creation has been reinforced, bringing the dispute over human origins back into the public front. However, while the vast majority of Catholics in the United States accept the concept of evolution in some form, a significant proportion of American adults reject evolution as a scientific explanation for the origins of human life, and a number of religious groups in the United States maintain that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection is incorrect because it conflicts with their beliefs about creation.

Here are five interesting facts concerning evolution and religious belief: 1Evolutionary theory has long been accepted – or at the very least has not been opposed to – by the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Pius XII stated in the encyclical ” Humani Generis” in 1950 that Catholic teachings on creation could coexist with Darwinian science if both were followed.

Humans have evolved over time, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, but only about half of that group (32 percent of adults in the United States overall) believes that humans and other living things evolved solely as a result of natural processes, which is the explanation accepted by the vast majority of scientists.

  • According to the same study, one-third of Americans (33 percent) do not believe in evolution at all, believing that humans and other living things have been in their current form from the beginning of history.
  • The vast majority of white evangelicals (64 percent) believe that people and other living things have always been in their current form, whereas just around one-in-ten white evangelicals (8 percent) believe that humans have developed via natural processes in their current form.
  • Evangelical denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which officially reject evolutionary theory as being in conflict with what they believe to be biblical truth, are primarily reflective of the evangelical position on evolution.
  • Even more significant is the proportion of Hispanic Catholics in the United States who deny evolution and believe that people have always been in their current form (31 percent ).

Despite efforts in several American states and municipalities to prohibit the teaching of evolution in public schools or to teach alternatives to evolution, courts have routinely rejected public school curriculum that deviate from evolutionary theory in recent decades, despite widespread opposition.

Aguillard(1987), the United States Supreme Court decided that a Louisiana statute mandating public school pupils to understand both evolution and creation science violated the United States Constitution’s prohibition on the establishment of religion by the federal government.

David Masci was a former senior writer/editor at the Pew Research Center who specialized on religion.

Differentiating Spirituality from Religion

Patrick G. Love is an American businessman and author. Editor-in-Chief Contributor Religion and spirituality are sometimes seen as equivalent words, which is a misunderstanding. The connection between spiritual identity and sexual orientation in lesbian and gay college students was the subject of a presentation I delivered at a recent conference. One of the first remarks from the paper’s discussant was that I appeared to suggest that all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons were religious or interested in religion, which he felt was not accurate based on his own experience.

  • Furthermore, I had expressly said in the article that spirituality and religion were not the same thing, and that my focus was on spirituality rather than religion.
  • I can also state that I have come across a number of religious individuals who were terribly lacking in terms of spiritual growth.
  • claim that spirituality is not the same thing as religion, albeit the two might be associated.” It has become clear to me since then that just asserting that fact is not sufficient.
  • That is the widely held social notion that religion and spirituality are somehow identical; that even when great effort is made to distinguish between the two concepts, people are unable to help but identify the two concepts together.
  • He was only the most recent in a long line.
  • Given how much misery and agony religion had caused them in their lives, many people just did not want to talk about ideas of spirituality or religion in general.
  • To begin, I will compare the formal definitions of the two concepts in question.

Lastly, I want to talk about the research that has been done on college students’ experiences and behaviors, and how that research may be reconceptualized if religion and spirituality are distinguished from one another.

Definitions of Religion and Spirituality

Let me begin with a brief discussion on religion. In 1979, the Random House Dictionary of the English Language published a definition of religion that read as follows:

  • Concern with what exists beyond the visible world (operating on the basis of faith and intuition rather than reason)
  • Generally includes the idea of the existence of a single being, group of beings, an eternal principle, or transcendental spiritual entity that created the world, governs it, controls its destinies, or intervenes occasionally in the natural course of its history
  • Is a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices on which most people can agree
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This easy description encompasses all of the main faiths in American society, with the exception of Unitarian Universalism, which explicitly rejects the concept of a shared set of beliefs. Most major religions (including Christianity, Judaism and Islam) are concerned with the afterlife and involve a belief in God/Allah. They also share a common set of beliefs and practices (particularly as recorded in the Bible and the Koran), and they express themselves through rituals, prayers, and other practices.

Several years ago, a colleague and I (LoveTalbot, 1999) compiled a variety of definitions of spirituality from the literature of religion, social science, and other helpful disciplines and combined them into one comprehensive definition (e.g., nursing, counseling, social work).

  • Is an internal process of seeking personal authenticity, genuineness, and wholeness as an aspect of identity development
  • Is the process of continuously transcending one’s current locus of centricity (e.g., egocentricity)
  • Is the development of a greater connectedness to self and others through relationships and union with community
  • Is the process of deriving meaning, purpose, and direction in one’s life
  • And involves an increasing openness to exploring a relational perspective. a

Comparing the Definitions

On the surface, it appears that the two definitions have some areas of overlap. It is important to note that there is a common interest in both religion and spirituality for that which exists beyond the corporeal, logical, and visible realm. In all cases, the goal is to create a method of comprehending or knowing something which exists outside of our physical, time-limited reality. One facet of the “beyond” is the concept of a supreme entity, which is one part of the “beyond.” In religion, a deity or a group of beings are identified.

  • A religious person who has reached a high level of spiritual development may very easily recognize such entity as God.
  • As a matter of fact, it is this sense of “beyond the natural world,” that is, the supernatural, that distinguishes the concept of spiritual growth from the concept of human development.
  • Religion is concerned with problems such as god and divine power.
  • One such area is the question of how to take action.
  • As opposed to religious practices such as prayers and exercises, spirituality is characterized by the use of terms such as process, transcending, developing, deriving, and investigating, all of which connote activity and movement in one form or another.
  • ‘Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith,’ by Sharon Parks, is available on Amazon (2000) Her writings, like those of James Fowler before her, emphasize faith formation as the most important part of spiritual development.
  • Parks acknowledges that faith may be a negatively charged term, and that this distinguishes the concept of faith from the concept of belief.

As used in this article, spirituality is defined as the dynamic process of faith formation, whereas religion is defined as the provision of beliefs to believers.

In other words, it is the act of discovering and making connections between different experiences and events.

Also of note is that both definitions make reference to exterior and interior dimensions of the object.

Its major concern is with things that are not apparent to the naked eye, it is centered on the existence of a superior being or everlasting principle, and it involves a set of beliefs and behaviors that are universally accepted and are not personal to the individual.

Even while there is a movement outward from oneself via self-transcendence, closeness to others, and interaction with that which exists beyond the known and knowable universe, spirituality is fundamentally an interior activity that must be maintained throughout one’s lifetime.

The search for meaning, transcendence, completeness, and purpose, as well as the “apprehension of spirit (or Spirit) as the animating substance at the center of existence,” according to Parks, is more of a personal quest than a public one.

For faith to exist and be active, it must exist outside the realm of ordinary perception and experience in order to be truly known. It must also exist inside ourselves and the particulars of our experience in order to be truly known.

Beyond the Comparisons

One can also see the potential for significant resonance, interaction, and overlap between these two sets of criteria in these two sets of definitions. Religion, with its beliefs, practices, rituals, prayers, and spiritual exercises, may be, and for many people is, a fantastic method of exploring one’s spirituality and developing spiritually. Religion is a wonderful means of exploring one’s spirituality and developing spiritually. In order to follow their spiritual path, each individual needs a language, a context, and frequently a community to support them.

  • Religions and persons acting in the name of a religion have acted in ways that are diametrically opposed to the ideals of authenticity, completeness, transcendence, and connectivity that are stated in the definition of spirituality on a number of occasions.
  • Despite the fact that I am not an expert in all faiths, I am unable to conceive of a single religion that does not fit into this classification.
  • That is, it appears to me, partly due to the mutating of ideas and practices into dogma and doctrines that may, in fact, have originated as spiritual exercises in the first place.
  • Religion and spirituality become estranged from one another.

Differentiated Notions of Religion and Spirituality Applied to College Students

Considering the development of traditional aged undergraduate students, we can see that distinguishing between the conceptions of religion and spirituality has genuine effects when we look at the development of traditional aged undergraduate students. Examples include the findings of researchers Pascarella and Terenzini (1991), who discovered that the majority of research done in the domain of religious attitude modification fell into two categories: general religiosity and participation in religious activities.

  • Given that religion and spirituality are supposed to be one and the same thing, one may conclude that spirituality is also on the decline.
  • It is possible to claim that some of them are related to the rejection of spirituality, but the majority do not address concerns of spirituality in the sense stated above; they are essentially basic outward measurements or procedures linked with religious beliefs and practices.
  • While there are changes in students found in the literature over the past 30 years that are not generally connected with religion, they are consistent with the premises relating to spirituality and spiritual development and may be explained by a variety of factors.
  • Each of these shifts may be argued to be at least in part spiritual in character, depending on your perspective.
  • The literal interpretation of moral principles and religious teachings is prevalent throughout the early developmental phases.
  • New professors may be discovered, but sooner or later, interpreters will come to dispute on their interpretations.

(p. 240-241) 240-241 Although spirituality is created within a community or tradition, this description is consistent with the definition of spirituality stated above in that spirituality is ultimately personal and individual, and it is a process.


I believe that the consequences for people who work with college students are self-evident. First and foremost, we must examine how we employ and interpret the concepts of religion and spirituality in our lives. Do we use them interchangeably as though they were synonyms? Do we make any distinctions between them in discussion and in practice? Do we object to others’ usage of the phrases as if they were interchangeable? After that, we must analyze the implications of our assumptions on our interactions with and views of our students in the classroom.

  • Do we acknowledge that a student’s rejection of his or her family’s religious beliefs and practices may, in fact, be a positive step in the student’s spiritual growth?
  • I feel that preserving and supporting religious plurality in higher education has a great deal of value for individuals who are engaged in fostering spiritual growth on college campuses.
  • Finally, I believe that another aspect is the necessity for individuals dealing with college students to challenge them to distinguish between the two conceptions discussed above.
  • To provide feedback, comments, or critiques on this article, please email me at [email protected]


A. Chickering and L. Reisser are two authors that have written about this topic (1993). Education and self-identification (2nd Ed.). Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco. P. G. Love and D. Talbot are co-authors of this paper (1999). Definition of spiritual development: A concern that has been overlooked in student affairs. The NASPA Journal, volume 37, number 1, pages 361-375. S. Parks et al (2000). mentoring young people in their search for meaning, purpose, and faith: big questions, worthwhile dreams Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco.

Pascarella and P.

What college does to a person’s life.


The Random House English language dictionary is a comprehensive resource for learning the English language.

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