Eight Aspects of all Religions

Religions have been with human beings for a considerable amount of time. It can be argued that religion has served a significant purpose over a long period of time. It could have been to ascertain the will of the gods, help to answer fundamental questions, support a certain individual's claim to power, explain disasters that occurred, or indeed for many other reasons.

Green, 2012


It is difficult to define religion, one proposal is that is is: 'that complex of experiences, attitudes, convictions, ideas, emotions, beliefs, images, rituals, symbols, texts, and institutions by which we as individuals and social beings identify, express, and live out our most fundamental relationship with, a source of meaning that both transcends and encompasses our life and our world.'

Beck, 2000


Clearly, there are many types of religious belief, and even though the major world religions are separate from one another, they have certain ideas, or aspects in common with one another. Eight aspects have been identified that are common with the majority of religions. These aspects are: beliefs, myths and other stories, sacred texts and other religious writings (such as formal creeds), rituals, symbols, social structures, ethical principles and oral or written codes of behaviour, and religious experience and spirituality.

Green, 2012


Beck, M. et al, (2000), Exploring religion, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Green, D, Samuel, S, (2012), VCE Religion and society, units 1-4, Macmillan Education, South Yarra.

Library Resources

Library Resources

Each of the following books contain information on some or all of the eight aspects of religion. Please ask at the Library desk if you would like to borrow any of the books listed below. There are also many others you can use by searching in the Library catalogue.

  • Beck, M, et al, (2000), Exploring Religion, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Contents include: Religious traditions, Aspects of religion - Rites, Ethics, Sacred writings in the following major religions - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism.
  • Breuilly, E, O'Brien, J, Palmer, M, (1997) Religions of the world: an illustrated guide to origins, beliefs, traditions and festivals, Macdonald Young Books, London. Chapters include: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Baha'i
  • Goldberg, P., Blundell, P, Jordan,T.L., (2012), Exploring religion and ethics: religion and ethics for senior secondary students, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Chapters include: Ethics and morality, Good and evil, Life choices, Peace studies, Sacred stories, Social justice and Spirituality and ritual.
  • Keene, M, (1997), Examining four religions, HarperCollins, London. Chapters on: Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam.
  • Rankin, J, Brown A, Gateshill, P, 1991, Ethics and religions, Longman, London. The six major religions feature: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism with 5 chapters that look at where they stand on the topics of: Marriage and Family, Abortion and medical ethics, The natural world, Peace and conflict & Capital punishment
  • Self, D, (2008), The Lion encyclopedia of world religions, Lion Hudson, Oxford. Chapters include: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, The Baha'i faith


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