Religion is a major part of human culture and social organization. Its influences on society are evident in politics, culture, and literature. In addition, it provides incentives to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, this influence on the social structure of a society can weaken the social value of religion, particularly if the religious beliefs are rigid.
The terms religion and spirituality are sometimes used interchangeably, though they have different definitions. According to one definition, religion is a belief system based on personal experience and the other is a definition dictated by organized doctrine. Despite the differences, both terms describe the same types of beliefs and practices. However, some people believe that religion and spirituality are incompatible. They disagree on which term is the more accurate definition. In reality, religion and spirituality are two points on a continuum of belief systems.
Spirituality is a personal experience of the divine. While religion involves a group of people, spirituality focuses more on the individual soul. While religion teaches us to listen to our inner voice and live a good life, spirituality encourages us to break free from blind obedience and to find our own path. We may even change our beliefs from time to time.
The distinction between religion and spirituality became more prevalent in the popular consciousness during the last century, as secularism and the New Age movement spread. Popular writers, such as Chris Griscom and Shirley MacLaine, delved into the differences. Other scholars noted the rise of seminar spirituality, where structured offerings compliment consumer choice. Spirituality is a way to find a sense of connection and meaning in our lives. It can guide us through the difficulties of life.