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 Religious purpose
 Like affects like
Baptism is an example of an assumption of like effects based on symbolic similarity. Because water is an effective solvent for cleansing dirt from the outside of the body, the assumption goes that water also therefore holds some mystical effectiveness in cleansing the spirit, soul, or mind from internal "dirt" of the sinful kind. This belief is a prime example of an area best explained by the hermeneutic method, rather than by the scientific method.
 Who baptises
Baptism is practiced in Christianity and some other religions. The method of baptism varies between Christians sects, ranging from a gently splash of water on the head up to full immersion in water. Roman Catholics and Anglicans would typically use water blessed prior to the baptism, while other sects, such as Methodists, believe the water becomes holy during the rite of baptism.
In most Protestant sects, baptism is performed as an ordinance, done merely because Jesus told his followers to do it. The Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches hold to the principle of sacramentality, which maintains that an infinite God interfaces with finite human beings through things like water, oil, and the laying on of hands, things which exist in fact rather than purely in the mindscape. Those Christians believe the water of baptism functions as a real channel of God's grace during the ritual, which is the sacrament of belonging, replacing the circumcision rite practiced by the Hebrews.