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, D, Samuel, S, (2012), p.27.

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, M. et al, (2000), p.6

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, D, Samuel, S, (2012), p. 32

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.