What is "religion"?

Definition of terms and explanation of concepts

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otseng
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What is "religion"?

Post #1

Post by otseng »

My definition of religion:
"A set of beliefs and practices that are subscribed to by one or more people that involves the worship of an entity (or entities)."

Dictionary.com
1.
a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
Wiktionary:
1. A system of beliefs that involves the existence or nonexistence of at least one of: a human soul or spirit, a diety or higher being, or self after the death of one's body.
* He couldn't abide by any religion that didn't allow for wrongdoers to be punished after death.
2. Any system of beliefs.

Note: this usage is uncommon, see Usage note, below.

* Science is a religion, because it relies on certain fundamentally unprovable ideas, such as the existence of logic.
3. A system of belief predicated on the existence of one or more dieties.

Note: this usage is uncommon, see Usage note, below.

* It's not really a religion if there's no god to pray to.
4. A way of living that corresponds to such beliefs.
* You can practice any religion you like, as long as it doesn't require you to violate our laws.
5. A number of customs and rituals associated with such beliefs.
* When it comes to religion, she doesn't believe, but she loves to attend the ceremonies.
6. Anything that involves the association of people in a manner resembling a cult.
* At this point, Star Trek has really become a religion.
7. Any system or institution which one engages with in order to foster a sense of meaning or relevence in relation to something greater than oneself.
M-W:
1 a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion> b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
New Advent:
Religion, broadly speaking, means the voluntary subjection of oneself to God.
CARM
Generally a belief in a deity and practice of worship, action, and/or thought related to that deity. Loosely, any specific system of code of ethics, values, and belief.

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Jrosemary
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Post #11

Post by Jrosemary »

Osteng wrote:My definition of religion:
"A set of beliefs and practices that are subscribed to by one or more people that involves the worship of an entity (or entities)."
I don't think this is a full enough definition of religion. I see where you're coming from, and most religions have at least traditional beliefs and practices. However, those beliefs and practices may not involve the worship of an entity (as in some forms of Buddhism. You don't need to worship an entity to embrace the four noble truths or the eight-fold path.)

Moreover, those beliefs and practices may not be a requirement for membership. For example, the famous atheist Christopher Hitchens is a Jew per Jewish law, even though he wasn't raised Jewish and even though he doesn't subscribe to traditional Jewish beliefs about G-d, and even if he doesn't partake in traditional Jewish practices. Yet if he wandered into my synagogue we would count him as part of our minyan (a minyan is a quorum required to say certain prayers, like the Kaddish.) Atheism and the lack of worship of an entity is no bar to being Jewish.

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Post #12

Post by Jester »

Keeping in mind that this is a question for discussion, rather than debate...
Is there anyone here that would be able and willing to outline the New Atheist (please no objections to the term - I'm not a fan of it myself) definition of the term "religion". I find myself more than a bit confused by the way Hitchens, in particular, uses it.
We must continually ask ourselves whether victory has become more central to our goals than truth.

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Post #13

Post by smartppledsn »

I am not too sure when it comes to this term too. At times it seems to me that religion is something that you have within you, applying and following all the teachings that had been passed on in that specific religion. And therefore we could say that religion actually help to form you to be a better person. On the other hand, there are some people that are too extreme about his religion and it would cause havoc, people were killed in the process, no time for the family, isn’t this something bad for someone that has a religion?

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Post #14

Post by Cathar1950 »

Jrosemary wrote:
Osteng wrote:My definition of religion:
"A set of beliefs and practices that are subscribed to by one or more people that involves the worship of an entity (or entities)."
I don't think this is a full enough definition of religion. I see where you're coming from, and most religions have at least traditional beliefs and practices. However, those beliefs and practices may not involve the worship of an entity (as in some forms of Buddhism. You don't need to worship an entity to embrace the four noble truths or the eight-fold path.)

Moreover, those beliefs and practices may not be a requirement for membership. For example, the famous atheist Christopher Hitchens is a Jew per Jewish law, even though he wasn't raised Jewish and even though he doesn't subscribe to traditional Jewish beliefs about G-d, and even if he doesn't partake in traditional Jewish practices. Yet if he wandered into my synagogue we would count him as part of our minyan (a minyan is a quorum required to say certain prayers, like the Kaddish.) Atheism and the lack of worship of an entity is no bar to being Jewish.
I agree!
If I recall correctly the root meaning behind religion is to bind, tied or bring together as in cultural or ethnic lines, maybe even family as we see family gods often coming to the forefront after oaths and such.

It seem in the West we tend to have a more individualist view of religion and it is often apologetic that seems to serve the individual more then the binding needs of communities or the human need for social bonds.

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Post #15

Post by smartppledsn »

I am not too sure when it comes to this term too. At times it seems to me that religion is something that you have within you, applying and following all the teachings that had been passed on in that specific religion. And therefore we could say that religion actually help to form you to be a better person. On the other hand, there are some people that are too extreme about his religion and it would cause havoc, people were killed in the process, no time for the family, isn’t this something bad for someone that has a religion? (Edited)

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