We use the term “religion” as a category to contain a variety of types of information. We know that religions generally involve activities of human beings but that is too general to make “religion” a useful term in and of itself and indeed, the term religion is often used interchangeably with other terms such as “ideology” because it has this synonymous usage as a term but it is not ideology alone nor is all ideology religion.
Similar difficulties arise when attempting to reduce the term “religion” to be synonymous with a Phenomenological psychology concept or an emotion; it may be one function of religion and yet perhaps not necessarily that at all.
The difficulty justifies religion being its own field of study and not easily reduced or made entirely synonymous with concepts from other fields.
4 Unique to religion is a notion of transcendence. While some psychologists such as Maslow expressed the idea that transcendence was the ultimate goal of an individual, it’s likely the reason why that is typically omitted from the top of his pyramid is precisely because it crossed over the line from psychology into religion and instead his pyramid is typically taught with self-actualization at the top instead, keeping it safely within the field of psychology.
Ethics and morality, while not exclusive to religions, are a more significant – even fundamental – force that binds together adherents of a religion. Ethics and morality are similar to laws one might find in a society, both written and unwritten laws. However the active and willing participation brings the religious adherent towards religion more than laws do for a law-abiding citizen. This puts civic duty on a line very close to religion but as it lacks transcendence, it doesn’t go into it. It shared the aspect of putting order to our existence as a citizen which shares this similarity with religion as an analogy.
Meshed within is this notion of lived human experience. A definition of religion lacking the lived human experience leads to the empty definitions of religion used in much of mass media, which often only show the rituals and not their participatory transformation for individuals and communities.