The study of religion can be as much considered a study of societal development and ethics as it can an attempt to understand the universe. The concept of religion has been around since the dawn of time, with a focus that has often heavily involved the pursuit of the spiritual and one's journey toward understanding.
As Karl Marx famously quoted: “Religion is the opium of the people." What did he mean by this? Simply put, everyone needs to believe in something. This is where the concept of religion comes into play. Whether it be Christianity or Buddhism, the concept remains the same. Religion is a deeply held belief in something; whether this belief may entail a higher purpose and a journey towards an afterlife, or merely a collection of cultural and moral values, the role played by 'religion' rarely differs.
Religious studies are structured toward the understanding of why others believe in the things they do. What gave rise to the birth of Christianity and how do Christians express and honor their beliefs? What symbolism lies behind the spiritual garments worn by Muslim women and Sikh men? Do all of these religions hold similar values and things in common? To understand why a man places his belief in a certain religion or faith is to understand the core of a man and what drives his every thought.