Author Topic: Define Religion  (Read 1585 times)

Offline Solitary (OP)

Define Religion
« on: August 22, 2014, 06:39:24 PM »
https://mail.google.com/mail/h/8ld48zaqc72c/?&v=c&th=147ff1ced3775985


Quote

Every dictionary has a definition of religion, but not every definition is equally good. Some are decent, but others are horrible. Sometimes older dictionaries have better definitions than newer ones, but more recent comprehensive dictionaries tend to have the better overall definitions of all. It's easier to understand what religion is if you understand the advantages and disadvantages of some of the more commonly cited definitions found in dictionaries.

 
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913:

    Religion: The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god or of gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service, and honor are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman and overruling power, whether by profession of belief, by observance of rites and ceremonies, or by the conduct of life; a system of faith and worship; a manifestation of piety.

This definition, like many of the older ones cited here, focuses on belief in the existence of deities. More than that, it specifies deities which have power over our lives and to whom we owe some level of obedience and service. This excludes from religion many forms of Buddhism, religious humanism, and even deistic belief systems. Because of that, this definition is too narrow and exclusive to be very useful — but it is the sort of definition you will find many people using.

On the positive side, though, this definition acknowledges the important role played by rites and ceremonies in religious belief. Many definitions of religion fail to point them out as being relevant.

 
The New Century Dictionary, 1927:

    Religion: Recognition on the part of man of a controlling superhuman power entitled to obedience, reverence and worship; the feeling or the spiritual attitude of those recognizing such a controlling power; also, a manifestation of such feeling in conduct or life; the practice of sacred rites or observances.

This definition is like the previous one in that it focuses on a particular sort of theism as the defining characteristic of religion while also recognizing the relevancy of rituals to the religious life of believers.

 
The Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1966:

    Religion:

    1. The beliefs, attitudes, emotions, behavior, etc., constituting man’s relationship with the powers and principles of the universe, especially with a deity or deities; also, any particular system of such beliefs, attitudes, etc.

    2. An essential part or a practical test of the spiritual life.

    3. An object of conscientious devotion or scrupulous care: e.g. His work is a religion to him.

This definition is noteworthy for making explicit the fact that belief in gods — and, in particular, gods which control our destiny — is not necessary for religion. Although it acknowledges that belief in a god or gods is common, it is clear that religion has to do with wider issues regarding the nature of the universe and reality.

This definition also points out how religion encompasses different aspects of human existence, including attitudes and behavior. It fails to note the important social aspects of religious system, though.
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Online Munch

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 07:53:11 PM »
Religion will always be an advanced form of fairy tale belief, because just like when we were children we were told stories about mythical creatures and magic which gave children comfort, so to do adults need that blanket in the form of sky gods, mostly in the form of a being that will kill anyone they dislike.

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2014, 02:23:17 AM »
There are plenty of definitions, from incredibly broad (cosmology is a religion according to some definitions since we're talking about the origins of things) to incredibly narrow (worship of a god)

My go-to definition is this: religion is a system of beliefs and rituals relating to the supernatural.

While this isn't perfect by any stretch (Is deism a religion?), it includes most things that are generally considered religious and excludes most things that aren't generally considered religious (cosmology, atheism, sports fandoms, etc).  It also makes the point that religion and the supernatural go hand and hand - that naturalism is intrinsically separate from religion.  And finally, it highlights the ritualistic nature of the world's religions - people don't just believe in a god - they worship god, make sacrifices to god, pray to god, etc.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 02:29:04 AM by Hydra009 »

Online Mr.Obvious

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2014, 03:52:52 AM »
By your definition I wouldn't call Deism a religion; because I don't know of any (organized) rituals partaining a Deistic Deity (as opposed to, I suppose, a theïstic deity). Which is actually fine with me. Most deists I meet seem to somehow stand closer to atheists than theists. I think that's due to the ritual thing you mentioned. In order for something to be a true 'organized' religion, one must not only think that the supernatural is real but also that what one does in the natural world can affect this supernatural domain. Rituals and such as prayer, mass, weddings, ... are all supposed to gather the benevolence and approval and love of this deity and seemingly can affect his mood and mind. And even when you don't think prayer, confession, mass, ... is necessary per se, there's often still the idea that how one lives life (as in a 'good' way opposed to a 'bad' way) will define the afterlife, or at least will affect the feelings/order of the supernatural entity.

That being said, the greater flaw in that definition, to me, seems that it takes 'supernatural based practices' and turns them into religion. Ghosthunting, accupuncture, reading aura's, ... all have a system of beliefs and rituals relating to the supernatural. Yet I would not call them religions, though all are bullshit.
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Offline SGOS

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2014, 05:53:54 AM »
I don't consider ritual necessary for religion.  It was a centerpiece of my former religion, but even as a Christian, I thought the ritual was just human nonsense, and with or without it, my belief in a god would be unaffected.  But we are talking about a word here lends itself to all sorts of semantic gibberish.  It's fodder for philosophers, and no one in this forum is going to settle the issue.

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2014, 02:39:41 PM »
Like I said, not perfect.  Blame Durkheim, not me.  :razz:  I'm open to suggestions as to how to refine it.

Anyway, it's waaay better than other common definitions:
*  "beliefs concerning the cause of the universe" (which gives undue weight to creation myths and inadvertently makes cosmology a religion)
*  "a group of people adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices (makes political parties into religions)
*  "a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance" (almost anything)
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 02:49:37 PM by Hydra009 »

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2014, 09:31:19 AM »
Speaking on behalf of this forum, I would say that Religion is traditionally defined as anything that can be pigeon-holed into a convenient set of ideas intended to display our cynicism, arrogance and hypocrisy. For example; I've only been alive for twenty-five years, and while the origin of the word Religion is somewhat sketchy and shared by billions of people, I feel that it's okay to say things like, "Religion is a fairy-tale for grown-ups who want to believe that they're going to live forever in a magical world filled with clouds and whores -- traditionally it has been used to manipulate populations and create political conflict -- but generally it's simply a belief in any superstition that can otherwise be explained by science, specifically relating to figmentive creators. Religion encompasses awful ideas like faith and antiquity. Also, it's responsible for the lack of our technological progress throughout the Middle Ages. Luckily it won't be around for much longer." while feeling completely justified in my belief, primarily because it is shared among myself and so many other angst idiots across the internet. Here's to a future full of pragmatism, dictionaries, and science, but NOT dogma --! (that's completely devoid of Religion, obviously; if you don't get why, please re-read the definition of Religion)
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 07:48:25 PM by Jaded »

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2014, 10:36:54 AM »
Speaking on behalf of this forum, I would say that Religion is traditionally defined as anything that can be pigeon-holed into a convenient set of ideas intended to display our cynicism, arrogance and hypocrisy.
Exactly!

Waiit...what?!

Offline DunkleSeele

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2014, 10:42:19 AM »
Speaking on behalf of this forum
:eh:
Uhmmm... no.

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2014, 11:14:43 AM »
Define religion, that's an easy one, it's just mind-control and a lot of brainwashing especially at a young age.

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2014, 11:23:25 AM »
Define religion, that's an easy one, it's just mind-control and a lot of brainwashing especially at a young age.
Yeah, but that wouldn't work because it would cover political indoctrination as well.  That'd be like defining the flu as something that makes you cough.  While that is true, that's also true of lots of stuff.

We're looking for traits that are diagnostic of religion and only religion.

Online Munch

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2014, 12:16:28 PM »
Wouldn't it be interesting is a psychologist was able to validate religion as a psychological deficiency, like a mental state where the individual has been so ingrained into the fiction of his beliefs he can't discern reality from that fiction.

Online Mr.Obvious

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2014, 12:28:46 PM »
Nah, it's much more of a sociological issue than a psychological one imo. It's like patriotism or cultural preferences; we're the greatest nation, we've got the best beer, we've got the best hockey-team, we're the chosen few who know what God wants of us, ... People believe this stuff without actual evidence because their surroundings relentlessly say it to them and encourage them to internalize it. Of course it does get taken in on a psychological level, but the cause and most of the (interesting parts of) the phenomena happens at meso- and macrolevel. While personal traits do matter, without a doubt, religion seems much more determined by the country/people one grows up in. (But maybe I'm biased in my opinion :p )
Besides, saying to people they've got a psychological illness or something wrong with them on that level seems like the least best way to get them to listen with an open mind. It'd turn them super-defensive.
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Online Munch

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2014, 12:40:09 PM »
Aah, Argumentum ad populum, the fallacy of mass opinion. Yes sociological views is the predetermined standard of thought around the world, its true, and its why it becomes so much more interesting for people who break from the structure of that societies social norms. I mean I'm athiest but I still celebrate Christmas with my family, since everyone else does.
Still, I doubt in that case making a large sociological claim of some form of mental deficiency would go over as well as a straight up psychological condition, it would probably just get passed off as disestablishmentarian

Online Mr.Obvious

Re: Define Religion
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2014, 01:33:57 PM »
It's not making a large sociological claim for  a mental deficiency. That's the problem; from a sociological point of view it has hardly anything (if anything) to do with 'mental deficiency'.  It's making a sociological claim for a sociological phenomenon.
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.