Psychology of Religion:
      What are we talking about?

        I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
        I open them it all comes back again.
        I think I made you up inside my head.
            Sylvia Plath

Let us begin with some definitions:


The study of behavior, particularly human behavior. Its root comes from the Greek word, psyche, for soul.


We often use the word religion where we actually refer to a specific religious tradition, such as Christianity, Buddhism, or Judaism. The worldviews which underlie these traditions are very different. Religion comes from the root words religio, the feeling and experience of coming in touch with a greater-than-human power, and religare, to bind together again.

Not all religions share a belief in a personal god or divine manifestation. Paul Tillich describes it this way:

If we abstract the concept of religion from the great commandment, we can say that religion is being ultimately concerned about that which is and should be our ultimate concern. This means that faith is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern. Such a concept of religion has little in common with the description of a highest being called, God, and the theoretical and practical consequences of such a belief. Instead, we are pointing to an existential, not a theoretic, understanding of religion(Theology of Culture).

Psychology of Religion

While acknowledging that religion is far more than the sum of its components, we can examine the psychological factors of religious experience:

Religious Feelings and states

Religious Behaviors, such as rites, and rituals

Religious Cognition and Faith Events, such as Crises of Faith

Physiological Conditions coincident with Religious Feelings and Behaviors

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